Faces of the Republican Party

New Fce of Republican Party

“Rubio-Haley new ‘face’ of Rpublican Party

Beneath the headline “Rubio-Haley new ‘face’ (sic) of Republican Party,” Friday morning’s Post and Courier’s front page displays a photograph of Marco Rubio and Nikki Haley standing on a stage in Spartanburg, SC.   A “drop head” right above the photo reads: “Governor’s endorsement amid rumors she could land on GOP ticket shines light on 2 rising stars, may broaden appeal of conservatives.”

Haley endorsing Rubio in Spartenburg

Haley endorsing Rubio in Spartanburg

I guess the premise is that people hesitant to vote for 21st Century candidates who don’t believe in science will be more likely to vote for 21st Century candidates who don’t believe in science if they’re younger ethic minorities who appear more physically attractive than, say, Mitch McConnell.

Mitch McConnell

Mitch McConnell

I thought it might be interesting, if not instructive, to compare Senator Rubio’s policy positions vis-à-vis Senator McConnell’s. After all, whether or not you accept Darwin’s theory probably has little impact on how you might govern. For all I know, Andrew Jackson believed the earth was flat. Perhaps, we’ll discover more progressive positions that Rubio offers that will appeal to younger voters as the old. white Republican electorate follow Harper Lee and Umberto Eco offstage to that undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveler returns.

Let’s start with what I continue to quaintly call global warming.

Climate Change

According to Scientific American’s website, Marco Rubio “believes climate change is happening, but not that it is caused by man.”   Here’s a direct quote: “And I do not believe that the laws that they propose we pass will do anything about it, except it will destroy our economy.”

Here’s a piece from the USA Today website affiliate Courier Journal on McConnell’s position: “Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told the Cincinnati Enquirer’s editorial board on Thursday that he doesn’t know if climate change is a real problem because he’s ‘not a scientist’ and that he’s more interested in producing cheap energy than worrying about it.”

So, as you can see, Rubio, although not a scientist, does boldly admit that global warming is real whereas McConnell because of his lack of expertise dare not judge.

Nevertheless, they both stand together in their opposition to the Paris Climate accords.

I doubt if these positions are going to get the millennials’ hearts a-thumpin.

2nd Amendment

Here’s Senator Rubio’s website on his hearty approval of the District of Columbia v. Heller 5-4 ruling on “gun rights.”

The Second Amendment right to bear arms is one of Americans’ most fundamental rights. Indeed, it is a right that reflects our country’s founding values. Opponents of gun rights often maintain that it is outdated, but it is as important as ever, and no one knows that better than America’s law-abiding gun owners. Marco understands the threats facing gun owners in part because he’s a gun-owner himself.

Furthermore, Senator Rubio is dedicated to

  • Voting to block the Manchin-Bloomberg expansion of background checks
  • Protecting the Second Amendment rights of veterans and their families
  • Standing against any federal attempt to ban commonly owned sporting rifles and standard capacity magazines
  • Pushing to make concealed-carry permits function like drivers’ licenses, so gun owners’ constitutional rights don’t end at state lines
  • Opposing U.S. involvement in the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty
  • Working to expand opportunities for sportsmen on federal lands
  • Fighting to defund the Department of Justice’s radical “Operation Choke Point” and other federal attacks on law-abiding gun manufacturers and dealers
  • Pushing to bring fundamental Second Amendment rights back to D.C. residents

Okay, let’s see if we can come up with some nuanced differences from Senator McConnell.

Darn tooting we can. Here’s what the ultra “conservative” Madison Project has to say about Senator McConnell’s record on guns:

“Here is a sampling of some of McConnell’s shortcomings on gun rights issues:”

  • Voted against Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) Amendment to block authority under Patriot Act to obtain gun records [RC #82, 5/26/11]
  • Voted for an amendment by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) prohibiting the sale or transfer of handguns by a licensed manufacturer, importer or dealer unless a secure gun storage or safety device is provided for each handgun. 25 Republicans and 2 Democrats voted against it. [RC #17, 02/26/04]
  • Voted for Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) amendment to spend taxpayer funds for Department of Education grants used to disseminate a gun control agenda in schools and through public service announcements. [RC #32, 03/02/00]
  • Voted for Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI) Amendment requiring that all guns be sold with trigger locks [RC#122, 5/18/99] Voted for the 1991 Crime Bill (S. 1241), sponsored by then Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE), that imposed a waiting period for handguns and a ban on 14 types of assault style weapons. [RC #125, 07/11/91]
  • Senator McConnell cut a deal with the Democrats to allow all of Obama’s second term nominees to sail through the Senate.  Included in that deal was the confirmation of anti-gun zealot Todd Jones to serve as Director of the ATF.

Despite this apostasy, “The NRA endorsed him anyway, and his relations with that influential group have continued to be good.”

At any rate, it would appear that Mitch McConnell is softer on guns than Marco Rubio.

Taxes

According to his website, Senator Rubio is for simplifying the tax code and slashing income taxes:

His plan

  • Cuts taxes, letting taxpayers keep more of their own money instead of sending it to Washington.
  • Dramatically simplifies the tax code by eliminating all itemized deductions and tax “extenders.”
  • Under Marco’s tax reform plan, the charitable-contribution deduction and a reformed mortgage interest deduction would be available to all taxpayers.
  • Creates a new $2,000 (individual) / $4,000 (married filing jointly) refundable personal tax credit in place of the standard deduction: Credit phases out beginning above $150,000 (individual) / $300,000 (married filing jointly) and would be unavailable to taxpayers with an annual income in excess of $200,000 (individual) / $400,000 (married filing jointly).
  • Eliminates the Marriage Penalty and the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT).
  • Consolidates the maze of higher education tax incentives into a single, $2,500 universal tax credit for the first four years of post-secondary education and costs related to eligible job skill training. The credit phases out between 400 – 500 percent above the Federal Poverty Level (roughly $97,000 – $121,250 for a family of four).
  • Addresses the tax treatment of health care as part of a comprehensive effort to repeal and replace Obamacare with consumer-centered reforms. The plan repeals all 21 Obamacare taxes.

McConnell’s votes on taxes.

  • Comprehensive tax reform can work if it’s revenue-neutral. (Jul 2013)
  • 1977 AdWatch: Horse Sense understands when tax cuts are real. (Sep 2010)
  • Resolve to lower capital gains taxes. (Aug 2008)
  • Voted NO on increasing tax rate for people earning over $1 million. (Mar 2008)
  • Voted YES on allowing AMT reduction without budget offset. (Mar 2008)
  • Voted YES on raising the Death Tax exemption to $5M from $1M. (Feb 2008)
  • Voted YES on repealing the Alternative Minimum Tax. (Mar 2007)
  • Voted YES on raising estate tax exemption to $5 million. (Mar 2007)
  • Voted YES on supporting permanence of estate tax cuts. (Aug 2006)
  • Voted YES on permanently repealing the `death tax`. (Jun 2006)
  • Voted NO on $47B for military by repealing capital gains tax cut. (Feb 2006)
  • Voted YES on retaining reduced taxes on capital gains & dividends. (Feb 2006)
  • Voted YES on extending the tax cuts on capital gains and dividends. (Nov 2005)
  • Voted YES on $350 billion in tax breaks over 11 years. (May 2003)
  • Voted NO on reducing marriage penalty instead of cutting top tax rates. (May 2001)
  • Voted NO on increasing tax deductions for college tuition. (May 2001)
  • Voted YES on eliminating the ‘marriage penalty’. (Jul 2000)
  • Voted YES on across-the-board spending cut. (Oct 1999)
  • Voted YES on requiring super-majority for raising taxes. (Apr 1998)
  • Rated 76% by NTU, indicating a “Taxpayer’s Friend” on tax votes. (Dec 2003)
  • Rated 0% by the CTJ, indicating opposition to progressive taxation. (Dec 2006)
  • Taxpayer Protection Pledge: no new taxes. (Aug 2010)
  • Supports the Taxpayer Protection Pledge. (Jan 2012)

Yawn. Both favor slashing taxes for the wealthiest taxpayers, which, if you believe in history and math, doesn’t stimulate the economy but leads to massive deficits.

Let’s transition to something less bloodless. Social issues.

Abortion

In the first Fox debate Senator Rubio seemed to suggest that he doesn’t favor any exemptions for abortion, including, incest, rape, or the health of the mother.

Kelly: “You favor a rape and incest exception to abortion bans. Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York just said yesterday those exceptions are preposterous. He said they discriminate against an entire class of human beings. If you believe that life begins at conception, as you say you do, how do you justify ending a life just because it begins violently, through no fault of the baby?”

Rubio: “Well, Megyn, first of all, I’m not sure that that’s a correct assessment of my record. I would go on to add that I believe all –”

Kelly: “You don’t favor a rape and incest exception?”

Rubio: “I have never said that. And I have never advocated that. What I have advocated is that we pass a law in this country that says all human life at every stage of its development is worthy of protection. In fact, I think that law already exists. It is called the Constitution of the United States.”

However, more recently, he’s been walking back from that rather draconian view. Here’s what his website has to say.

Protecting life [except for capital punishment] defines who we want to be as a society. All life [except for those on death row] is worthy of protection, and all life enjoys God’s love.

Marco believes that Roe v. Wade was not only morally wrong, but it was a poorly decided legal precedent and should be overturned.

Marco has a record of supporting pro-life policies [like capital punishment], and will continue to do so in public and private life.

Marco believes that as a nation we must always come down on the side of life [except in cases of capital punishment]. We must speak up for those who cannot speak up for themselves.

Can you guess McConnell’s views on abortion?

That’s right; he’s against abortion, as evidenced by his spearheading the 20 week ban in the Senate, but but does allow exceptions for the life of the mother.

So once again, it appears that Marco Rubio is to the right of Mitch McConnell.

Obamacare

Even though their dire predictions about how the Affordable Care Act would wreak havoc to healthcare and the economy has proven patently false, both continue to advocate its abolishment.

Marco wants a “market-driven” alternative.

Iran Treaty

They hate it!!!

Netanyahu

They love him!!!!

Immigration

Marco, the son of immigrants himself and despite his being a one-time member of the Gang of Eight, is essentially anti-immigration and especially against détente with Cuba.

Mitch wins this battle. He was not a member of the Gang of Eight.

Conclusion

Essentially, there’s not much difference between Rubio and McConnell – except that McConnell’s attendance is much, much superior to Marco Rubio’s, whose chronic truancy dates back to his days as a Florida legislator.

So, to return to the Post and Courier’s headline’s, what about him might broaden Conservative’s appeal to younger voters? His Latin good looks?

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I doubt it. Here’s the cat all the young voters are swooning over.

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Home of the Paranoid, and Land of the Constrained

Manar

Manar

We have a Thanksgiving tradition of inviting friends who can’t make it home for Turkey Day to share a meal with us at our house. When he was in graduate school studying linguistics, our younger son Ned invited colleagues whose families live abroad, and, of course, their presence made the holiday more interesting for us, and it provided them with an anthropological peek into some of our American cultural peculiarities, for example, grown men whooping and hollering and dancing around a table to celebrate a game winning interception. Nonjudgmentally, our foreign guests tolerated these absurdities with good humor.

Two years ago Ned brought with him a young woman from Syria. In pursuit of a PhD in linguistics, our guest Manar found herself cut off from her homeland, unable to return to see her parents and siblings, professional people trapped in a maelstrom not of their own making. I could only imagine the anxiety she must have suffered knowing her loved ones were trapped in a civil war in a world where bombs rain down on civilians as well as military targets. How hard it must be to concentrate on your studies when you’re bracing yourself for bad news at any moment.

Yet, except for one point when she wept in front of my wife Judy Birdsong and another female guest, Manar was vivacious, outspoken, generous, and open-minded. Indeed, she’s much more open-minded than many of the xenophobic Facebook feeds I’ve seen in the days following the Paris massacre.

Of course, we can attribute much of these paradoxically un-American outbursts to fear and ignorance. Certainly, these xenophobes don’t realize that the Syrians slated to emigrate to the United States consist of families who have been thoroughly vetted, who have undergone extensive background tests conducted by various agencies and who undergo one-on-one interviews, the entire process taking 24 months according to the State Department.

Certainly, my neighbors writing to Nikki Haley demanding that no Syrians enter Dylan Roof’s home state don’t realize that only 2% of the Syrian refugees are military-aged single males. Forty percent are children, and twenty-five percent senior citizens. Less understandable is that many governors have declared they’ll be no Syrians moving into their states, even though governors lack the power to enforce such an edict. If they possessed that power, I suspect we’d have fewer Ohioans settling in the Palmetto State.

C’mon, Nikki, this isn’t the old Soviet Union where a traveller needed a visa to visit individual republics. Thank goodness, our vehicles aren’t stopped and searched at the North Carolina border when we head to Asheville. I thought we were the home of the brave and the land of the free, not the home of the paranoid and land of the constrained.

What really depresses me, though, are presidential candidates suggesting we close our national borders to Syrians, or more, liberally, to limit admission to only Christians. (Agnostics and Buddhists need not apply). Just today, Jeb Bush blamed President Obama for “creating a quagmire in Iraq” a remarkable act of chutzpah considering it was his brother (and enablers like Hillary Clinton) who created the mess in the first place by scapegoating Saddam Hussein for 9/11 and destabilizing the region by misjudging the Iraqis’ desire for freedom and democracy’s potency in a region unfamiliar with the concept. People on Facebook are actually blaming Obama for the Paris carnage. One of my Facebook friends cited Reagan as a model for the type of leader we need to fight terrorism — never mind that after 241 military personnel were killed in Beirut in 1983 when terrorists blew up their barracks, Reagan removed our soldiers from Lebanon and never launched a retaliatory attack.

Meanwhile, for the sake of making political hay, Cruz, an immigrant, has introduced a bill banning Syrians. Rubio, another immigrant, is also against thoroughly vetted families seeking to escape a repressive regime to start a new life.

Of course, all of this Islam-bashing delights ISIS. Certainly, our stigmatizing all Muslims as terrorists paints us in a bad light with the vast majority of law-abiding moderate Arabs. What would make ISIS even happier is if the West sent ground troops into the region, which is a prerequisite to their theory of the Apocalypse. However, you never hear hawks like Lindsey Graham talk about how we could finance such a massively expensive endeavor. Maybe the Koch brothers might be willing to underwrite it?

Coincidentally, I’m teaching To Kill a Mockingbird now, and today, we dropped in on the lily-white Christian ladies of Maycomb at Aunt Alexandra’s tea party, a get-together orchestrated to help the horrid living conditions of an African tribe. The irony is a bit heavy handed – innocent Tom Robinson has recently been convicted of rape and sentenced to death by an all-white jury – but I beginning to doubt our ability to appreciate irony, much less subtlety.

 

Take Time to Know Her

Image

[Cue Percy Sledge]: that funereal organ those drums tapping out a rhythm befitting a march to the gallows:

I found a woman I felt I truly loved.
She was everything I had ever been dreaming of.
But she was bad; I didn’t know it.
Her pretty smile never did show it.
All I knew is what I could see,
And I knew I wanted her for me.

Accountant Nikki Haley doing arithmetic

Accountant Nikki Haley doing arithmetic

Too bad McMaster, Bauer, or Sheehan didn’t tap Percy’s “Take Time to Know Her” for his campaign theme song when running against our mathematically/ truth-challenged Governor. Perhaps the righteous gospel undertones of Percy’s dirge might have infiltrated the ideological fortresses of the heavily garrisoned but ultimately impoverished minds of hourly employees who want to see estate taxes abolished, those folks who like to hear their prejudices echoed with panache.

If played often enough, Mama’s wise words – it’s not an overnight thang/take time to know her/please don’t rush into this thang – might have infiltrated the unconscious to tap into some not-quite-yet desiccated pool of ancestral wisdom.

Those losing campaigns should have played Percy Sledge’s soulful warning over and over and over again while campaign workers waved signs brandishing the late Ann Landers’ warning to ‘60s adolescents who might be considering sex: Don’t Flunk Your Chemistry Test! Don’t Flunk Your Chemistry Test! Don’t Flunk Your Chemistry Test! 

Michael "Tammy Wynette" Haley Stands by His Woman as She Counts to 5 Outloud.

Michael “Tammy Wynette” Haley Stands by His Woman as She Counts to 5 Outloud.

A modicum of caution might have been in order: after all, Nikki was, as they say, an unknown, untested: a degreed but uncertified non-public accountant doing books in her daddy’s business, a woman married to an under-employed husband, the two bearing a $300,000 mortgage on a $40,000 income.

With her political office comes a sudden spike in prosperity – a 6-figure salary with Lexington Hospital for a 50K job, a cushy National Guard gig for her seemingly non-officer-grade husband. (Elsewhere, I’ve written about those pesky extra-martial rumors). But hey, South Carolinians weren’t the only ones to go gaga. That permanently constipated pundit George Will un-pursed his lips for some praise:

 The political class and its parasitic lobbyists preferred government conducted in private.  Haley, whose early campaign strategy was exuberantly indiscriminate (“go anywhere and talk to anybody”) won the gubernatorial nomination by defeating the state’s lieutenant governor, its attorney general, and a congressman.

[snip]

That, in turn, is evidence of this: If the question is which state has changed the most in the last half century, the answer might be California. But if the question is which state has changed most for the better, the answer might be South Carolina.

What has South Carolina done to earn such accolades? What have we done that signifies we’ve changed most for the better? Because we now elect immigrants/people-of-color who vow to fight illegal immigration, taxes, and government handouts for the poor rather than electing jowly bald bigots who vow to fight illegal immigration, taxes, and government handouts to the poor.

Ah, but I digress. My point, dear citizens, to quote the great Tom Waits, is that “the large print giveth, but the small print taketh away.” [Warning: oncoming barrage of mixed metaphors]: Before dumping your spouse for a sexpot. do the following: kick the tires, pour over those background checks, draw up an ironclad prenup.

Take time to know her.

In short, don’t spasmodically fall in lust and marry some tawdry tea party gal who runs with flashy frontier women, or you might end up with a kinghell case of buyer’s remorse.

nikki-haley-sarah-palin-427vm-060910

Come to think of it, George Will might be on to something about one aspect of change in South Carolina. At least no one during the campaign except Jake Knotts was overtly racist/xenophobic. It’s not hard to imagine the Late Lee Atwater would have done if he were running the McMaster campaign. I suspect flashing the pix below as a stentorian basso wonders ad nauseum if she really is one of us?

Haley Family

Haley Fami

That hair-do in the held snapshot looks more Pentecostal than Sikh to me. No, Nikki is one of us. In fact she’s old school, a practitioner of cronyism, and you have to admit that she’s certainly been transparent when it comes to that.

What type of person makes this type of mistake:

From the State Newspaper 16 March 2011:

Then state Rep. Nikki Haley’s application for a job at Lexington Medical Center reported she earned $125,000 a year – more than five times the amount that Haley, now SC Governor, said she earned on her federal tax returns.

That application also said Haley expected to be paid the same amount – $125,000, a year, according to hospital documents obtained in a public records request by the State.

Haley’s federal tax returns show she was paid $22,000 by her parents’ clothing store, Exotica International, during 2007.

A careless person? A dishonest person? Her spokesman points out that such a discrepancy is illogical, so Haley couldn’t have done it, and that anyway, whoever had filled out that particular page hadn’t signed it and that the page also lacked the official stamp that embossed the other pages of the rest of the application. Maybe some Democratic hacker stole her pin number and social security number and fabricated the form and sneaked into the hospital offices and slipped it into Haley’s application file Mission Impossible style.

Or, but this seems so much less likely. Maybe she lied about her salary, intentionally didn’t sign or stamp the form (in case something like this ever came up).

On the same day that the State published the salary discrepancy story, they also informed us that Haley had removed the most generous benefactor in the state’s history (Darla Moore who donated 70 million gift to the Business School at USC) from the board because she “wanted a new set of eyes,” so she replaces Moore (for whom the Business Department is named) with a Columbia lawyer who just happens to be one of Haley’s biggest campaign contributors.

-1 set of old eyes + 1 set of new eyes – $70 million = idiocy.

I mean, this woman is a piece of work.