With a net worth of approximately $34 billion, Koch is ranked by Forbes to be the fourth most-wealthy American. Executive VP of Koch Industries, a conglomerate affiliated with paper, chemicals and oil, he’s better known for political activism and special-interest lobbying.
An apparent basis for his support of Sanford in this special election, the two agree on many political principals.
In his own political career, Sanford openly identified with the movement, calling his identification as a libertarian “a badge of honor.” In his previous term in U.S. Congress (1995-2001), he voted against strengthening Social Security and sponsored a bill for its privatization.
Other notable donors to Sanford’s campaign include Thomas Ravenel, who then-governor Sanford suspended from the state treasurer’s office in 2007 after federal indictment on cocaine charges, and billionaire hedge fund investor Richard Chilton.
Sanford is one of 16 Republican candidates in this special election to fill the 1st District seat, which has remained empty since January when Tim Scott assumed Jim DeMint’s senate office following resignation.
The primary race is March 19; the victor of an anticipated April 2 GOP runoff will face the Democratic candidate in a May 7 final election.
And that all of the Republican congressmen from South Carolina voted against VAWA makes it even worse, she says.
“I am horrified by the complete disconnect between the danger that women in South Carolina face, and how their Republican representatives voted,” said Colbert-Busch in a statement released this afternoon.
This reinstatement follows a two-month relative absence of VAWA, which had been in effect since 1994, and only needed formal renewal last year.
“These are the very same politicians who are always claiming that they have South Carolinians’ best interests at heart,” said Colbert Busch. “Try telling that to the families of the 39 women—and 13 men—who were killed by their partners in South Carolina in 2011.”
That Democrats and Republicans think differently is rather obvious to most.
But these opposing political supporters even think from different parts of the brain, a recent study found.
According to the recent (and appropriately titled) “Red Brain, Blue Brain” report, Democrats have higher activity in the left insula – the part of the brain that processes internal cues and emotions – when facing risks.
When Republicans think about risk, however, they have much higher activity in the right amygdale, the region of the brain associated with fear and exterior cues. As a result, these conservative-leaning voters “show greater sensitivity to threatening stimuli,” the report concludes in its summary.
In other words, Democrats tend to think through challenging circumstances before responding, while Republicans are more prone to react impulsively and emotionally to outside influences.
The “Red Brain, Blue Brain” study was conducted by professors of medicine, psychology, psychiatry, biology and (of course) political science, and was released by the Public Library of Science on Feb. 13.
Eighty-two subjects who identified their political preferences participated in the research, which included MRI tests conducted as they participated in risk-taking mental exercises and games. Researchers confirmed subject party identification by voting records.
Although the study was just released, similar ones have circulated in recent years, and it seems the Republican Party has kept up with the topic, too.
For example, a 2008 study published in Science noted that conservatives have much quicker and stronger physiological reactions to sudden noises and alarming photos than do liberal Democrats, and establishes connotation between Republicans’ knee-jerk responses and their political beliefs of increased military spending and capital punishment.
Republican campaign platforms and political ads used that year and in following have been laden with such tactics, too. For example (and see slide show for images at the bottom of this page):
The McCain campaign was often criticized for using “fear factors,” such as calling opponent Obama a “terrorist” and implying racial division in 2008.
In March 2010, an internal party presentation that was leaked to media showed how the Republican National Committee intended to promote the term “socialism” as a fear-inducing tactic in voter outreach and fundraising.
A tactic now known as “Medi-scare” – a false claim that the savings Obamacare produces for Medicare were actually cuts to its benefits, thus threatening the well-being of seniors – was widely used by many campaigns.
And in last year’s elections, strongly religious voters were pelted with ads and other communications that frequently referred to “danger” and “threats” to “Judeo-Christian” values. Some were even told that a vote for President Obama was equivalent to “reject(ing) Jesus Christ” and would “put your own soul in jeopardy,” and were threatened with the claim that their votes would “be recorded in eternity.” (See video at bottom of this page)
Apparently, and as 2012 election results showed, the population of “blue brain” Americans seems to be dominant.
Another study associating political beliefs to specific operation of the brain was released recently, as well.
Democrats have more activity in the part of the brain connected with wider social connections, such as friends and issues that affect more people and are inclusive of other parts of the world, the USC study concludes; on the other hand, Republicans are dominantly active in the brain region associated with tight social connections, such as family and their own personal properties and interests.
Both the Republican Party and Tea Party movement slipped in public approval, says a recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, with each falling to its lowest rating since Obama first took the White House.
When asked to rate their opinion of the Republican Party, 49 percent of respondents responded negatively; 26 percent offered favorable ratings of the GOP, while 24 percent were neutral. Only one percent were unsure how to rate the political organization.
Forty-seven percent noted negative reception of the Tea Party, as well, with only 23 percent stating positive regard (20 neutral and 10 unaware/unsure).
These ratings found in the Jan. 12-15 poll are the highest in negative scoring for both groups in four years.
In Feb. 2009, just weeks after President Obama began his first term, the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found ratings of the Republican Party to be 28 percent positive versus 43 percent negative.
The highest overall rating for the GOP was shortly after the 2010 election cycle. In December of that year, positive perception of the party was 38 percent, while 37 percent rated it negatively.
Favorable reception of the Tea Party movement hasn’t outweighed negative response since June 2010, when it scored 34 percent positive to 31 negative. Since then, it’s progressively declined to the new low reported in the recent poll findings.
Meanwhile, Obama begins his second term with a positive rating from 52 percent of the public (37 negative and 11 neutral), rising from his lowest score of 44 percent in August 2011.
Perception of the Democratic Party rose to its highest in approval (44 percent, versus 17 neutral/38 negative) since July 2009.
This survey of 1,000 American adults has a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percent.
At a press conference last week, Tea Party activists in Tennessee announced their latest priorities in the Volunteer State, one of which focused on changing the standards for textbooks used in its public schools.
This only proves that our country's educational system needs more funding to make sure our youth don't fall for such Tea Party garbage, though.
According to Memphis' The Commercial Appeal, printed documents distributed at the conference read "We seek to compel the teaching of students in Tennessee the truth regarding the history of our nation and the nature of its government.”
And the actual truth, these Tea Party folks said, is “the Constitution created a Republic, not a Democracy.”
What these Tennessee Tea Party folks apparently don't know, however, is that "republic" is a very general term, simply meaning public representation in a non-monarchist nation. There are many different types of republics, too, including socialist, communist, mercantile, protestant and even (don't read the next word, you Tea Partiers!) Islamic.
The type of government the United States has, though, is a democratic republic. Meaning that persons of all minority status are to have equal vote and equal representation. Which those Tea Party folks apparently don't know. Which only further indicates their idiocy. Which indicates they should just keep their mouths shut.
And if those Tea Party goons don't like that definition, then let them move to the People's Republic of China or even to the Republic of North Korea. Or maybe they could try to rebuild the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
We citizens of our representational democratic republic won't miss them much when they're gone.
Yesterday’s attack on U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (Ariz – D) rings the same anarchist toll as many other recent circumstances of violent demonstration.
It's bad enough that many of these attacks on human life only stem from protest against health care. What's worse, though, is that they seem promoted by politicians, political groups and politically-influenced media - all of which are related to current mantras of the Republican Party, if not the GOP all by itself.
On January 8, Giffords was critically wounded by a gunshot to the head while at a public forum in Tucson. Six persons including a 9-year-old girl, one of Giffords’ staff and a federal judge were killed. Twelve others were also injured, including two other Giffords’ staff members.
Anti-immigration sentiments may also be behind the slaying of John M. Roll, the federal judge shot at the incident. Roll received many violent threats against him and his family in February 2009 after allowing a lawsuit filed by illegal immigrants to move forward in court.
Rep. Louise Slaughter received recorded message at her campaign office that threatened assassination and murder of “the children of lawmakers who voted yes” for the health care bill.
In Virginia, the gas line at the home of Rep. Tom Perriello’s brother was severed, seemingly to create fire or explosion. A Tea Party activist posted the specific residential address, mistaking it to be that of the representative, along with addresses of others who voted for the bill, on a blog advising readers to “drop by” their homes to express discontent.
The same blog site acknowledges it made encouragement to “break the windows of local democrat party headquarters(.)”
Marchers carried signs depicting images of a Browning firearm that read “Warning: If Brown can’t stop it, a Browning can,” referring to Sen. Scott Brown, who in 2006 voted for the public insurance program now used in Massachusetts while a state senator. Brown, a Republican, voted against the national healthcare plan the day after this demonstration.
Even new House Majority Leader John Boehner predicted that Democrats voting for the health care bill would be at risk, stating Rep. Steve Driehaus, a Democrat from his same state of Ohio, "may be a dead man" for supporting the Affordable Care Act.
And Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-Minn) issued statements that included violent terms as far back as early 2009, albeit on a different issue. “I want people in Minnesota armed and dangerous on this issue of the energy tax," she said on radio interview.
One Republican official even praised violent actions of terrorist inclination. After a small-craft airplane was purposefully flown into an IRS building in Texas in February 2010, killing two, Rep. Steven King (Iowa) acknowledged anti-tax sentiments promoted by the far-right may have encouraged the incident, but attributed that act of terrorism to be a positive keystone: “when the day comes when that is over and we abolish the IRS, it’s going to be a happy day for America.”
Violence, assassination and armed rebellion were common themes in the 2010 campaigns of Republican organizations and congressional candidates, as well.
Such themes were at times only alluded to, such as in a combination gun rally and campaign promotion for Rep. Giffords’ most recent election opponent. "Get on Target for Victory in November. Help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office. Shoot a fully automatic M16 with Jesse Kelly," read the Republican candidate’s website.
Violent, if not anarchist, statements were directly made at other times, though. Stephen Broden, a Republican candidate for congress from the Dallas area, promoted government overthrow in his campaign, adding that “the option (of violence) is on the table.”
Tea Party/Republican candidate Sharron Angle twice referred to “Second Amendment remedies,” implying use of gun violence, to contest congress in general and her opponent, incumbent Sen. Harry Reid (Nevada), in particular. In the latter incident, Angle implied she was carrying a concealed weapon at that moment.
Even direct incidents of violence occurred at campaign events. Lauren Valle, a MoveOn member demonstrating at an appearance by now-elected Rand Paul, was knocked down and stomped on by Paul's campaign supporters.
Website operator Tony Hopfinger attempted to interview Joe Miller, candidate for U.S. Senate from Alaska, but was held and handcuffed by Miller's campaign staff, who took away Hopfinger's video recorder. Part of the video was later found to be erased, Hopfinger stated.
Both Miller and Paul ran as Republicans with Tea Party support; Paul won the race in Kentucky, while Miller's campaign was unsuccessful.
Culiminating awareness of the potential impact of these terrorist-like actions is none other than former Alaska Governor and Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, who issued statements and even images that are now connotated with yesterday's mass-shooting and murders.
On March 23, just two days after the healthcare act passed in the U.S. House of Representatives, Palin issued a rallying statement to her supporters. "Don't Retreat, Instead - RELOAD!" she tweeted.
That twitter message directed recipients to Palin's facebook page, which displayed a map (now removed) decorated with rifle cross-hairs to indicate the regions of particular Democratic congresspersons who voted for the Affordable Care Act, including Giffords' district. The representatives were also listed by name below the map.
Conservative media appear to have influence on these incidents, as well, and not just through websites, such as the previously-noted blog that acknowledges encouraging vandalism against the Democratic Party, and which is also credited with encouraging an attempted assasination.
National media - namely FOX News, already known to blatantly provide slanted and false information to its viewers - is recorded to have encouraged public disorder, violence and terrorist-like acts, too. FOX commentators, in particular Glenn Beck, are often directly attributed to be impetus to baseless public demonstration, and even murder.
For example, an August 2009 forum on healthcare in Tampa, Fla. was interrupted by hundreds of angry protestors, many of whom stated they were inspired to demonstrate by a recent Glenn Beck broadcast. The loud and interrupting protests led to a fist-fight in the crowd.
Williams credits Glenn Beck as inspiration for his attempted terrorist action against the organization, a progressive non-profit firm that Beck claimed was destroying capitalism. "It was the things that (Beck) did, it was the things he exposed that blew my mind," said Williams in a later interview.
Beck had mentioned Tide Foundation 29 times on his FOX television broadcast over an 18-month period prior to the incident, and twice in the week immediately prior. Researchers found no other media to have reported any type of information on Tides in that same time period, and that the organization had only been mentioned two other times and only by one other FOX News host.
FOX commentator Bernard Goldberg was listed as inspiration of the 2008 shooting at a Tennessee church, and directly by the shooter. In a letter intended to serve as a suicide note, shooter Jim David Adkisson wrote "Who I wanted to kill was every Democrat in the Senate and House, the 100 people in Bernard Goldberg's book" (100 People Who Are Screwing Up America). Adkisson, who had also recently read books by FOX's Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity, said he settled on that Unitarian church, which he said was too liberal, because it was too difficult to get to the elected officials.
Richard Poplawski said that frustration with the possibility that Pres. Obama would take away his guns - a false story repeatedly run by FOX News, which Poplawski frequently watched - was the inspiration in his murder of three police officers at his Pittsburgh apartment in April 2009.
Gregory Giusti was arrested in April 2010 for threatening the life of Rep. Nancy Pelosi, an idea his mother said Giusti received directly from FOX News. Glenn Beck had once suggested poisoning Pelosi in a 2009 broadcast.
The common factor in each of these circumstances is its antagonist: far-right wing sectors threatening violence, encouraging violence, approving of violence, and engaging in violent actions.
The goal is the same, too: to protect personal political interests through restraint of public freedom, amounting to anti-equality, anti-immigrant, anti-public good, anti-progress ... and anti-American, to boot. And all under the guise of a political sector that is revealing itself to be more and more anti-American every day.
Just over the last couple of years, last year especially and reaching a crest only yesterday, the far-right side of so-called conservatism has displayed itself as fascist. Corporatist. And terrorist. Making demands that take away personal freedom, and threatening - even taking - personal lives when those demands aren't met. And taking away everything this country was supposed to be founded upon at its initial creation.
The Republican Party is a dying entity in the United States, dropping to only 22 percent of Americans who identify themselves as GOP and leaving it in third place behind Democrats and independents. What its far-right sector has been attempting to do over the last two years is keep a tight rein on government despite that minority presence.
And it has done so by instilling fear and breeding anger in the same middle-class sector of the population the Republicans have abused. The media attention these fascist actions receive certainly helps its goals, especially when one news corporation in particular directly promotes and supports such fascism through purveyance of false information.
The GOP now has its public dirty work done by the Tea Party side. (When asked after the shooting if his daughter, Rep. Giffords, had any enemies, Spencer Gifford sobbed "Yeah. The whole Tea Party.")
It uses national media to reach unstable individuals and encourage them to conduct the violence that the Tea Party is too well-known to do itself directly.
And this equates terrorist activity by the same group that claims need to restrict American freedoms to protect us from terrorism.
But this recent terrorist-style mass murder must definitely set a limit. Turn off FOX News. Turn away the uneducated psychopaths who watch and believe FOX News. And vote out the Republicans who are responsible for all this garbage.
Two conservative figures who are consistently ridiculed for grandiose, egotistical stupidity just gave comedians and commentators across the globe another reason to mock them: both recently announced interests in running for president.
In a Wednesday, Nov. 17 interview, Sarah Palin stated she is considering a presidential run in 2012, a race she thinks she could win.
In interviews beginning last month, Donald "you're fired" Trump also declared interest in the Oval Office, in part because "we are no longer respected the way we used to be respected."
Both, of course, would run in the Republican primary.
In the event these two candidates appear neck-and-neck in that primary election phase, both agreed to complete the nomination process in a "Dancing With the Stars" competition.
In the November 2nd elections, Republicans won a majority presence in the U.S. House of Representatives for the upcoming second session of the 111th Congress. And they're already hitting up the president for tax breaks on the wealthy.
Given our current economy (and our economic standings for the last decade, if not the last 30 years), the United States might not be in any position to honor that request, however. And if it does, as recent news alludes it may, then our country is in for one heck of an economic roller coaster.
President Obama's initial goal was to reinstate the temporary tax reductions for all but the wealthiest two percent of the country. Every individual making under $200,000 and every married couple earning less than $250,000 would be allowed to maintain the reduced rate of federal income taxes that were only temporarily instated beginning in 2001 (see table below for the reduced tax rates currently imposed).
A goal in doing so would be to protect the lower 98 percent as we continue to face these hard economic times.
Individuals and families earning more than those amounts, who make up only two percent of the U.S. population, would return to a previous tax rate of 39.6 percent upon the highest bracket in income scale. For an individual clearing $500,000 net, this change will amount to an increase of about $5,800 in taxes owed.
The Republicans who will soon hold majority in the House, however, are protesting that increase. And they won't let it occur unless it happens to all income brackets, either.
That $5,800 difference in the example of an individual clearing $500,000 amounts to a 3.8 percent increase in taxes owed. For someone making a middle-class income of $45,000, though, the increase in taxes upon reinstatement of the older rates would amount to about $2,000 - a 27 percent increase in taxes owed.
And in this economic era of very high unemployment and very sharp decrease in individual earnings, our nation can't afford either structure the Republicans are insistent upon.
We're increasing in debt - both as a country and as individual citizens. We're holding the highest rate of unemployment, and for the longest period of time, since the Great Depression. And we're facing deficiencies in funding for areas of primary need, such as education and unemployment benefits.
FACT: the United States currently has the lowest tax rate on wealth since 1931 - when the Great Depression went in full-swing, and has the lowest taxes on wealth of all developed nations.
FACT: the United States is the only country that applies income taxation upon citizens that live under its own definition of poverty.
Add to these facts an additional and largely overlooked truth, this one related to corporate income taxes. A 2008 study by the Government Accountability Office found that more than half of all American companies did not have to pay income taxes for at least one year between 1998 and 2005 (and almost three-quarters of all foreign companies doing business in the U.S. enjoyed that luxury). About half of all companies doing business in the U.S. - both American-owned and foreign - were able to skip out on tax payments for two or more years during this same eight-year period.
This amounts to a very low estimate of $300 billion in corporate taxes that the U.S. did not collect in each and every one of those eight consecutive years - $2.4 trillion minimum overall. That's practically enough to fund an entire year's budget of the federal government.
How, then, given all these facts, can anyone (especially the top two percent in income in the U.S.) claim that taxes need to continue at a reduced rate for wealth? How can anyone claim that U.S. companies are overtaxed, or that a reduction in corporate taxes is what our country needs to rise from this dismal economic circumstances?
And how terrible would the U.S. economy be at the moment if those proper tax rates had been in effect all along?
For the Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives to make such demands indicates even more economic woes for the next two years.
Progressive Blue in the Red State of South Carolina