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10 Terrible Things Republicans Will Try to Do If They Take Over in November


Think things are bad now? Take a look at what could happen if Republicans retake Congress in November.


Democrats are in trouble come November. If current polling is any indication, Republicans have a good chance of reclaiming a majority in the House of Representatives and perhaps even the prospect). That's not because people are wildly excited about Republicans. In fact, a recent poll shows that registered voters rate the GOP's performance as worse than the Democrats'. But the enthusiasm gap between the parties gives the GOP an advantage; a nine-point advantage among likely voters, according to the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.

Perhaps Americans should know what's really at stake if this batch of Republicans takes over Congress in November. Here are 10 terrible things the GOP might do:

1) Shut down government to stop health care bill. "All the Republican Congress needs to say in January is, 'We won't fund it," said former Speaker of the House and likely 2012 presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich, speaking about the GOP leadership’s intent to shut down the government to stop health care reform from being enacted. He should know. He did it before, back in 1995 when the Republicans reclaimed Congress during the Clinton administration. The GOP's government shutdown was disastrous for millions of Americans.

Since Republicans can't directly repeal the bill -- President Obama would veto such an action -- they may cut funding in order to hold up its implementation, forcing a stand-off with Democrats that could lead to government shutdown. Gingrich isn't the only one sounding this threat. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., said, "The endgame is a fight over funding." Rep. Mike Pence called rolling back health reform a "mainstream GOP position."

Meanwhile, in an interview with TPM, Donna Shalala, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services during the Clinton administration, discussed the consequences of government shutdown. Services would be stopped: "Social Security checks, Medicare reimbursements...welfare checks to the state, Medicaid checks to the state." Federal employees would be furloughed. It would "stop all new enrollees into the [Social Security] system," Shalala said. She continued, "It bounces through: it's grocery stores, it's farms [...] It bounces through when people don't have money at that scale." Shalala also pointed out that the economy is in far worse shape today than it was during the Clinton years, so the impact of government shutdown would likely be worse than in the 1990s.

2) Attempt to privatize Social Security. Back in 2005, former President George W. Bush tried to privatize Social Security by creating independent spending accounts, similar to 401Ks. He failed. But unlike Republicans today, Bush did not have the advantage of Tea-Party backed ultraconservative Republicans, some of whom honestly believe the only role of the federal government is to fight wars and protect our borders. Among the GOP’s up and comers is Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the ranking Republican member of the House Budget Committee. He wants to create personal spending retirement accounts invested in the stock market, which sounds a lot like the current 401K system: You know, the one that lost nearly 40 percent of its value during the financial crisis.

Social Security privatization, once considered politically untenable even by many ultraconservative think-tanks, has resurfaced just in time for the 2010 primary. It’s being debated in Arizona, Kentucky, Indiana, Nevada, North Dakota, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Republicans like Sharron Angle in Nevada, Ken Buck in Colorado, Rand Paul, the Republican nominee in Kentucky, and Dan Coates, the Republican nominee in Indiana, all support “private retirement accounts” -- code for privatizing Social Security.

3) Spend every waking hour investigating the Obama administration. You thought Ken Starr was awful? Meet Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota. She thinks that if Republicans retake Congress, they should issue subpoena after subpoena and launch investigation after investigation of the Obama administration.

"Oh, I think that's all we should do," she told CBS News. "I think that all we should do is issue subpoenas and have one hearing after another.”

"All of our chips are on November," she added.

And it’s not just Bachmann. GOP House members have already pushed Justice Department Inspector General Glenn A. Fine to say he will investigate the wholly made-up New Black Panther Party scandal. Politico reports that conversations with top GOP aides reveal, "Republicans are planning a wave of committee investigations targeting the White House and Democratic allies if they win back the majority. Everything from the microscopic — the New Black Panther party — to the massive –- think bailouts — is on the GOP to-do list."

4) Repeal the 14th amendment -- divest immigrants' children of citizenship. In the growing nativist fervor within the Republican party, there's been a push to repeal the 14th amendment, which provides citizenship to all people born in the U.S. Republicans, trying desperately to woo the anti-immigrant crowd, are promoting this incredibly xenophobic idea. Here’s what minority leader John Boehner said about repealing birthright citizenship: "Listen, I think it's worth considering. But it's a serious problem that affects our country. And in certain parts of our country, clearly, our schools, our hospitals, are being overrun by illegal immigrants, a lot of whom came here just so their children could become U.S. citizens."

Of all the ridiculous and dangerous policy initiatives, this is the most heartless. It's driven by racist ideologies and was essentially penned by a hate group, Federation for American Immigration Reform. Boehner is not the only one pandering to the “No more anchor baby” nativist contingent. U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-TX, actually claimed that immigrant infants would one day form terrorist cells. "It appeared that [the terrorists] would have young women, who became pregnant, would get them into the United States to have a baby," Gohmert said during a speech on the House floor. "And then they would turn back where they could be raised and coddled as future terrorists."

There are two ways they may try revoking birthright citizenship to immigrants born in this country. Some Republicans propose creating a constitutional amendment asserting that one or both parents must be U.S. citizens, and the other is to pass federal or state legislation that could provoke a court battle over the amendment's citizenship clause. Republicans Russell Pearce, of Arizona, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz. are all pushing for hearings to explore the citizenship clause, which was enacted originally to provide an objective criteria for citizenship. Republicans want to remove that objective measurement and make citizenship subject to their own ideas about who deserves to be an American citizen.

5) Cap and trade? Forget about it. Not only are conservative activists aggressively campaigning against Democrats who support cap and trade -- legislation that mandates emissions reductions -- but they are also trying to unseat moderate Republicans who support cap and trade and replace them with ultraconservative, often Tea Party-backed politicians. Rep. John Boehner has already promised as part of his pitch to be Speaker of the House that he would oppose the measure. Conservative Republican Senate and House candidates across the country are campaigning against cap and trade, using it to hammer moderate Republicans and Democrats.

"It's a very big deal," said Brian Walsh, a spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Delaware, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Kentucky are among the states where opposing cap and trade, he believes, is helping Republicans win tight races.

In California, Charles and David Koch, the two billionaires responsible for financing the Tea Party movement, have already donated $1 million to suspend the Global Warming Solutions Act. And they say they are prepared to invest more. In California alone, the war chest to repeal the Act already has $8.2 million with roughly $7.9 million coming directly from state energy firms. Likewise, the Koch brothers and business groups have financially backed dozens of Republican candidates running against pro-cap and trade Democrats and even a few moderate Republicans who support the legislation.

6) More disastrous economic policies like the practices that caused our financial crisis.
Financial regulatory reform was not perfect. But even the little Obama managed to do will be in danger if Republicans regain control of the Congress.

"If Republicans who oppose Wall Street reform are so offended by holding big banks accountable, then they should have to share with voters whether or not they would support repeal of the bill if elected," said DSCC spokesman Eric Schultz. "Any Republican who wants to return to the no-holds-barred, letting the big banks run rampant... jeopardizing Americans' savings and investments will absolutely be held accountable for that position during the campaign."

Well, according to Fox Business, Rep. Darrell Issa wants finance reform repealed altogether. On Wednesday, Issa fired his first salvo at the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, introducing a measure that would repeal parts of it. And once again, Issa is not the only one. When it comes to protecting the interests of the extremely wealthy, the Republican leadership continues to be in lockstep. Let’s remember the bill only passed 60-39 with nearly the entire Republican party opposing it. Shortly after it was passed, those same Republicans started calling for repeal. House Minority Leader John Boehner told reporters on the day of the vote, “I think it ought to be repealed.”

“If we were in a position to do something, maybe [Boehner] is right,” said GOP Policy Chairman Sen. John Thune of North Dakota. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-AL, said he’d “love for it to be repealed.” Sen. Richard Shelby, R-AL, the ranking Republican on the Senate Banking Committee, told "Good Morning America" that he and other Republicans would “like to repeal it.”

The only thing stopping them -- and the only reason we were able to manage any type of reform at all -- is that Republicans are in the minority. With a majority in Congress, they will come back emboldened, on a mission.

7) Kill or drastically slash Food Stamp program. During times of financial crisis, the Republicans will always cut safety net programs before raising taxes on the rich. We already know this. Back when Congress approved the 2009 Recovery Act, it included a 13.6 percent increase in food stamp benefits to aid workers hit by the recession. The entire Republican right opposed this $787 billion stimulus package, and they are simply waiting for an opportunity -- as with health care and financial regulatory reform -- to undo its provisions. At present, they eked out concessions from Democrats that will gut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) of $14.1 billion.

Carl Paladino, the Republican candidate for governor in New York, even suggested putting welfare recipients in prison dorms where they could work in state-sponsored jobs, get employment training and take lessons in "personal hygiene." The Tea Party-backed Paladino, a wealthy Buffalo real estate developer, won Tuesday night. He ran his campaign against social service programs in New York.

Food Stamps are a lifeline for the low-income and the unemployed. At a time when at least 10 percent of the country is unemployed, food stamps could mean the difference between barely surviving and dying from hunger. Nationwide, a record 40.8 million people — one in every eight — currently receive SNAP benefits. In poorer states the number is one in five or six.

8) Roll back and repeal equal rights for gays. The Republican party is quieter these days on social issues like gay rights, but the party platform has not changed from six years ago when it railed against gay marriage, pressed for the Defense of Marriage Act, and stated that homosexuality and military service were incompatible.

"Attempts to redefine marriage in a single state or city could have serious consequences throughout the country, and anything less than a Constitutional amendment, passed by the Congress and ratified by the states, is vulnerable to being overturned by activist judges," the Republican party platform stated back in 2004.

In recent days, the Montana GOP has actually taken that anti-gay message a step further. The Montana GOP platform now calls for making homosexuality illegal.

Meanwhile, at the Value Voters summit last Friday, Republican elected members of Congress sought to reassure their cultural conservative base that opposing gay marriage continues to be important to the Republican party. Politicians like Delaware Republican nominee Christine O'Donnell, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney were there to reassure the anti-gay religious right.

"Ours is not so much a fiscal crisis, it's a family crisis," Huckabee told the group. "There is a direct correlation between the stability of the family and stability of our country."

"Those of us who have toiled for years in the values movement found ourselves surrounded by Americans who had rediscovered the most fundamental value of all, liberty," O'Donnell told the audience, bridging the gap between cultural conservatives and the Tea Party movement.

Family Research Council president Tony Perkins said he was working closely with House Minority Leader John A. Boehner, R- Ohio, to ensure their anti-gay, anti-abortion agenda would continue to be a part of the GOP platform.

9) Abandon the unemployed. In March, Senate Republicans filibustered an extension of unemployment benefits. At the time Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl called the entire unemployment insurance system a necessary evil.

Back then, several Republicans made the claim that unemployment benefits keep people from looking for work. Among them was Georgia Republican Rep. John Linder. Another conservative claimed that stripping the unemployed of benefits would force them to “sober up.”

This claim was backed up by the conservative Heritage Foundation and Fox News, until it actually transformed the national debate into the question, “Do extending benefits to the unemployed create a disincentive to find work?"

During that one-week Senate impasse, while the Republican majority filibustered extending unemployment benefits, more than 2 million Americans lost their benefits.

10) Paralyze one branch of our government. You may disagree with President Obama, but immobilizing one branch of our three-branch system is no way to run a government. If the Republican party regains the majority in Congress it will continue to maneuver from the mid-'90s congressional playbook. The key to regaining power in Congress has been obstruction, and it will continue to be the key to regaining control of the White House.

In February, there were nearly 200 executive appointees still waiting confirmation. Many of these vacancies are critical to running the government. (During the same period of the Bush administration there were only 77 vacancies.) In March, President Obama was forced to start making recess appointments trying to circumvent unwarranted opposition in Congress. Just last week, Obama was forced to make Elizabeth Warren a special adviser to the White House in an effort to get around the Republican minority in Congress.

Republicans have held up appointments for the sake of union-busting. They have used "secret holds" and refused to offer justification. But more importantly, they have held up appointments simply because they can.
Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., described the unprecedented secret holds as institutionalizing dysfunction. “This seems to be an attack on this administration to do its constitutional duty."
In the end, this may prove sufficiently bad for the president; but the implications for the citizens of this country are far more dangerous.
Devona Walker has worked for the Associated Press and the New York Times company. Currently she is the senior political and finance reporter for theloop21.com.

Forget Mehlman — What About Lincoln?

Forget Mehlman — What About Lincoln?

New “paradigm” embraces scholarship on Honest Abe’s homosexuality

While the gay media has been awash in unwarranted hosannas over the recent coming-out declaration by former Republican National Committee chair Ken Mehlman — who has not apologized for running the most homophobic presidential campaign in US history — the LGBT press has been ignoring an infinitely more significant development under way with vastly more important implications for the Republican Party: the increasing acceptance by historians that the loving heart of Abraham Lincoln, the Great Emancipator and the first GOP president, found its natural amorous passions overwhelmingly directed toward those of his own sex.

This shifting consensus about Lincoln’s sexual orientation is certainly the most stunning and effective rebuke to the Republican Party’s scapegoating of same-sex love for electoral purposes, which came to fever pitch during the 2004 race that Mehlman spearheaded for George W. Bush.

“We are getting closer to the day that a majority of younger, less homophobic historians will at long last accept the evidence of Lincoln’s same-sex component,” John Stauffer, chair of Harvard University’s Department of American Civilization, told Gay City News, adding, “ We’re already seeing the beginnings of a trend that will amount to a major paradigm shift.”

Stauffer is one of the nation’s leading experts on the Civil War era, and in his latest — and best-selling — book, “Giants: The Parallel Lives of Frederick Douglas and Abraham Lincoln,” he supports the thesis that Joshua Speed was, as he put it, “Lincoln’s soulmate and the love of his life.”

And in the latest issue of the scholarly journal Reviews of American History, Stauffer hammers home this point, writing, “In light of what we know about romantic friendship at the time, coupled with the facts surrounding Speed’s and Lincoln’s friendship, there is no reason to suppose they weren’t physically intimate at some point during their four years of sleeping together in the same small bed, long after Lincoln could afford a bed of his own. To ignore this, as most scholars do, is to pretend that same-sex carnal relationships were abnormal. It thus presumes a dislike or fear about such relationships, reflecting a presentist and homophobic perspective.”

In his groundbreaking 2005 book “The Intimate World of Abraham Lincoln,” the late C.W. Tripp meticulously assembled the considerable body of historical evidence for Lincoln’s same-sex affinities, including his love affair with Speed. Tripp, who worked closely in the 1940s and 1950s with the groundbreaking sexologist Alfred Kinsey, was a clinical psychologist, university professor, and author of the 1975 bestseller “The Homosexual Matrix,” which helped transcend outdated Freudian clich├ęs and establish that a same-sex affectional and sexual orientation is a normal and natural occurrence.

In his book on Lincoln, Tripp drew on his years with Kinsey, who, he wrote, “confronted the problem of classifying mixed sex patterns by devising his 0-to-6 scale, which allows the ranking of any homosexual component in a person’s life from none to entirely homosexual. By this measure Lincoln qualifies as a classical 5 — predominantly homosexual, but incidentally heterosexual.”

A majority of Lincoln scholars dumped on Tripp’s book when it was published five years ago, but the “paradigm shift” on Lincoln of which Stauffer speaks is not only being led by younger historians like himself (Stauffer received his Ph.D. from Yale University in 1999, began teaching at Harvard that year, and was tenured in 2004).

In a lengthy article entitled “Abraham Lincoln and the Tripp Thesis” in a recent issue of one of the oldest scholarly journals devoted to the iconic president, the Lincoln Herald, a senior Lincoln historian and author of numerous Lincoln books, the octogenarian William Hanchett, professor of history emeritus at the University of California/ San Diego, “challenges historians to either refute the Tripp thesis or to rewrite Lincoln’s biography. Hanchett believes that Tripp is correct at least in the broad outline of his work and finds it frustrating that most historians, rather than confronting this pioneering study, choose to ignore it,” as the Lincoln Herald’s editors put it in introducing Hanchett’s revealing, carefully footnoted essay on Lincoln’s same-sex affinities.

Hanchett in particular breaks new ground when he deconstructs what we know of the much-ignored secret Memo books kept by Lincoln’s law partner William Herndon as he spent a quarter century intensively researching his massive “Lincoln: The True Story of a Great Life,” published in 1889. The UC/ San Diego scholar details how he believes that the otherwise thorough Tripp missed the evidence there that backs up Hanchett’s view that “Lincoln’s secret” was homosexuality.

“A significant number of Lincoln’s contemporaries,” Hanchett writes, “must have known of or strongly suspected his secret. The existence of Herndon’s Memo books proves it. His rowdy friends in New Salem must have wondered why [Lincoln] declined to participate with them in their revels, and almost certainly some of them must have figured it out. They knew about homosexuality, only the word was unknown to them.”

With the exception of a brief notice in the Gay and Lesbian Review by Tripp’s collaborator Lewis Gannett, the gay press has utterly ignored the validation of Tripp’s portrayal of Lincoln’s love affair with Speed by Stauffer, as it has Hanchett’s stunning article expanding on Tripp’s documentation of Lincoln’s same-sex emotional and physical life.

Others, preceding Tripp, had proclaimed in print that Lincoln was gay. The first, some four decades ago, was the pioneer Los Angeles gay activist Jim Kepner, editor of ONE, the early gay magazine. Kepner focused on Lincoln’s long-acknowledged intimate friendship with Speed, as did later writers, like the historian of gay America Jonathan Ned Katz and University of Massachusetts professor Charles Shively. Gore Vidal has said in interviews that, in researching his 1984 historical novel on Lincoln, he began to suspect that the 16th president had same-sex romantic relationships. But all this was little noticed outside the gay community.

One of the few traditional Lincolnists to describe — however obliquely — the lifelong Lincoln-Speed relationship as homosexual was the Illinois poet Carl Sandburg, in his masterful, six-volume Lincoln biography. In the 1926 tome titled “The Prairie Years,” Sandburg wrote that both Lincoln and Speed had “a streak of lavender, and spots soft as May violets.”

“I do not feel my own sorrows more keenly than I do yours,” Lincoln wrote Speed in one letter. And elsewhere: “You know my desire to befriend you is everlasting.” In a detailed retelling of the Lincoln-Speed love story — including the “lust at first sight” encounter between the two young men, when Lincoln readily accepted Speed’s eager invitation to share his narrow bed — Tripp notes that Speed was the only human being to whom the president ever signed his letters with the unusually tender (for Lincoln) “yours forever” — a salutation Lincoln never even used with his wife.

Speed himself acknowledged, “No two men were ever so intimate.” And Tripp credibly describes Lincoln’s near nervous breakdown following Speed’s decision to end their four-year affair by returning to his native Kentucky.

In the preface to his massive biography, Sandburg wrote, “Month by month in stacks and bundles of facts and legend, I found invisible companionships that surprised me. Perhaps a few of these presences lurk and murmur in this book.”

Tripp’s book was remarkable and precedent-shattering because, for the first time, he restores names and faces (more than just Speed’s) to a number of those previously invisible homosexual companions and love objects of the most venerated of America’s presidents, among them: Henry C. Whitney, another of Lincoln’s law colleagues; the young Billy Greene, a New Salem contemporary of Lincoln’s and another bedmate (who admired Lincoln’s thighs); Nat Grigsby; and A.Y. Ellis. Another was the handsome David Derickson, by nine years the president’s junior, captain of President Lincoln’s bodyguard. Tripp describes in great detail how Derickson was the object of “the kinds of gentle and concentrated high-focus attention from Lincoln that Henry C. Whitney, from having himself once been on the receiving end, well described: ‘[It was] as if he wooed me to close intimacy and friendship, a kind of courtship, as indeed it was.’”

There is a great deal more to Tripp’s book, which — as Lincoln scholar Jean Baker noted in her admiring preface — “is not a work of sexual or biological reductionism, but rather a significant effort to understand a complicated man.” Among the many invaluable contributions is the chapter revealing that Lincoln’s supposed tragic “romance” with Anne Rutledge — often hyped by Hollywood retelling — was a myth invented after Lincoln’s death. This chapter is for the most part due to the research of Gannett, Tripp’s faithful collaborator on the Lincoln project, who edited the book for publication after Tripp’s death and has just published a longer version of his destruction of the Rutledge myth in the Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association, another scholarly review.

Some of Tripp’s findings came from finely argued circumstantial deductions — which were seized upon to denounce the book by many of what Vidal has called the “scholar squirrels” of the considerable Lincoln industry, who have a lot of skin in the game.

“Why [have] scholars [been] so willfully blind to the host of historical evidence that Lincoln had a strong homosexual component?,” Harvard’s Stauffer wrote to this reporter in an email, explaining, “The answer stems from the intense homophobia throughout 20th century America, which has profoundly shaped Lincoln scholarship. Every scholar needs to read previous scholarship on Lincoln; and even comparatively open-minded scholars, after reading the mass of Lincoln scholarship, can easily be persuaded into perpetuating the blindness about Lincoln’s relationship with Speed.”

Stauffer, however, underscored in his email, “These explanations don’t account for the fact that most scholars today can agree that other well-known and beloved figures, such as Walt Whitman and Herman Melville, had strong homosexual tendencies but deny that Lincoln did, despite similar evidence. The reason for this paradox, and perhaps the central reason why scholars have been willfully blind to the evidence on Lincoln, is because most view him as the ‘redeemer president’— essentially ‘America’s Christ’ — and don’t want America’s Christ having strong homosexual tendencies.”

However, the “paradigm shift” currently in progress in historians’ views of Lincoln’s sexuality is ultimately much more important news than Ken Mehlman’s tardy, skillfully crafted, self-serving admission about his own.

Mehlman has now cashed in on his political past and is making a fortune as a managing director at Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, the giant private equity firm with a total committed capital of $58 billion, and he’s cushily nestled among hordes of gay gym bunnies in a Chelsea coop worth a reported $3.7 million. No doubt his skimpy coming-out declaration to the Atlantic Monthly’s Mark Ambinder will facilitate his new social life in the gay ghetto.

Of course, Ambinder did not challenge any of Mehlman’s mendacious assertions pretending he had no responsibility for the virulent gay-bashing of the national 2004 campaign, or Mehlman’s pretense that Bush is “not a homophobe.” Bush’s political homophobia was deployed long before he smeared gays and used them as a winning wedge issue as president — witness the subliminal gay-baiting of Anne Richards in the campaign that elected him governor of Texas, after which Bush as governor tried to take adopted children away from gay couples who loved them. Armbinder let all of Mehlman’s rewriting of history pass without any question or factual corrective.

Mehlman’s oft-repeated mantra was that he was “proud to be the chairman of the Party of Lincoln.” But the historians’ ongoing “paradigm shift” on the sexuality of our 16th president means that, when Republicans like Mehlman who claimed Lincoln as their political progenitor tried to introduce a ban on recognition of same-sex love into the Constitution that Lincoln defended so well, they wounded the martyr-president squarely in his heart of hearts.


DOUG IRELAND

Why Does The Tea Party Hate America

First, they voted against the Democrats' economic stimulus plan. Then they voted against expanding health care to working families and cutting Medicare costs for seniors. And against keeping teachers and police on the job. Then they held up unemployment benefits for millions of Americans who had earned them!

Now the Tea Party Republicans have a plan to increase unemployment if they take back control of Congress in November.

How will they do it?

1. Cut federal investment in green jobs, public services, and small business lending

2. Cut taxes for the rich just like George W. Bush did.

3. Unleash Wall Street speculators and big corporations to ship jobs outside the United States.

We have just eight weeks to stop them!

Whether you're unemployed today -- or will be if the Tea Party Republicans take control of Congress -- you can help!

The Tea Party Republicans may have the big money, but we have the people.

Each of us can help by spending even a few hours calling voters or knocking on doors for Democrats who block the Tea Party Republican plans.

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