by German Lopez
Election year causes GOP candidates to downplay rhetoric, but legislation remains
Jobs, jobs, jobs. That is what
Republican House Speaker John Boehner said would be priority No. 1
for Republicans after sweeping the House of Representatives and many
state legislatures in 2010. This, Republicans said, was why they were
elected: People wanted to see changes in the economy fast.
But, apparently, there was one other
Almost immediately after coming into
office in 2011, Virginia Republicans set the national stage for vital
women’s health issues. House Bill 1 — the first bill Virginia
Republicans chose to take on — was a personhood bill, a bill that
define life beginning at conception. Not only would the bill have
banned abortion, it would also have banned the birth control pill,
which sometimes prevents birth by stopping the implantation of a
An impartial observer might wonder why
a personhood bill would be a top Republican priority. After all, the
same election that put all these Republicans in power also had a
personhood bill overwhelmingly rejected in Mississippi — a state so
socially conservative that 46 percent of Mississippi Republicans want
to make interracial marriage illegal, according to a recent poll from
Public Policy Polling.
Nonetheless, this was the issue
Virginia Republicans decided to give serious attention. In an economy
with a 9 percent unemployment rate at the time, this was the most
important issue to Virginia Republicans.
Ohio wasn’t much luckier with its
crop of Republicans. Five months after inauguration, the Ohio House
passed its “heartbeat” bill, or H.B. 125. To this day, it’s the
most radical anti-abortion bill in the country. Not only would it ban
abortion when a fetal heartbeat is detected, but the bill makes no
exceptions for rape, incest or life-threatening circumstances.
Ohio and Virginia were not alone.
Republicans were pushing anti-abortion, anti-contraception bills all
around the nation. Pennsylvania, Kansas, Mississippi and Texas all
made national headlines with their own bills. In more than 20 states,
bills have been introduced to restrict insurance coverage of
abortions, according to ABC News. At the federal level, Republicans
have made funding for Planned Parenthood a top issue time and time
again, and insurance companies covering contraception recently became
such a big issue that the White House had to step in.
So much for keeping the government out
of health care. The same political party that clamored for small
government now couldn’t wait to regulate women’s health care.
Apparently, the economy is too much for the government to handle, but
every woman’s uterus is fair game.
There has been some backlash. After
Virginia tried to pass a bill that would force doctors to give
patients seeking abortion a transvaginal ultrasound, women’s health
advocates in states across the nation organized protests, leading to
governors and state legislatures beginning to back down in their
rhetoric. Even Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, a Republican who
originally supported the transvaginal ultrasound bill, has been
downplaying his involvement in Virginia’s anti-abortion,
Now, Mitt Romney, the likely GOP
nominee for president, is facing some of the backlash. In a recent
Gallup poll, women came out severely against Romney. In the category
of women under 50, Obama held 60 percent of voters, while Romney held
only 30 percent. That’s right, Obama now leads with women under 50
by a two-to-one margin.
But while that may stop some rhetoric,
the bills and laws are still coming forward. The Ohio heartbeat bill
is still being pushed by some Republicans in the Ohio Senate, and a
personhood initiative could show up in Ohio’s 2012 ballot after a
stamp of approval from Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted.
Mississippi also plans to reintroduce its personhood initiative in
the 2012 ballot, and other states are beginning to pass around
petitions for their own initiatives as well.
In the end, one is left to wonder what
could stop social conservatives. Public backlash and poor polling
don’t seem to be enough to stop the Republican war on women, and in
some cases it might have actually emboldened them.
by Kevin Osborne
Unlike GOP colleagues, House Speaker won't comment
National media are reporting about how West Chester’s favorite son is avoiding taking a stand on whether women should be admitted into the Augusta National Golf Club.As poll after poll shows the Republican Party lagging in support among female voters, various GOP politicians have spoken in favor of admitting women into the club, seeing it as an easy way to restore some goodwill with women. The all-male institution has been roundly criticized because it typically extends membership to the CEOs of IBM Corp., but hasn’t done so to its current leader, Ginni Rometty.Among those who’ve recently said Augusta should admit female members are Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and John McCain. But not timid House Speaker John Boehner (R-West Chester).Politico tried to ascertain Boehner’s stance on the issue last week, to no avail. The website reported:Asked if Boehner thinks women should be permitted into Augusta, his spokesman Michael Steel said he has "never heard him discuss it." Pressed again, he demurred.The Masters Golf Tournament is held annually at Augusta, Ga. This year’s event ended Sunday, with Bubba Watson emerging as the winner.It seems like a fairly simple question to us. Either you think Augusta should open its membership or you don’t. What are you so afraid of, Mr. Boehner?Romney has said, "If I were a member and if I could run Augusta, which isn't likely to happen, but of course I'd have women in Augusta."Also, McCain tweeted last week, “Don't you think it's time Augusta National joined the 21st Century — or the 20th — and allowed women members?”Another website, Talking Points Memo, gave a possible reason for Boehner’s reticence. It stated:"That could be because Boehner — an avid golfer — is himself a member of an all-male golf club. The AP reported last year that Boehner has ‘been chided for his membership at Burning Tree, an all-male golf club in Maryland.”Located in Bethesda, Md., Burning Tree has even more restrictive policies than Augusta. “Beyond the no-women membership policy, women are not even allowed on the grounds as guests,” ESPN reports.
by Kevin Osborne
Numbers USA to air TV, radio ads here
A conservative organization that advocates for immigration reform will begin running TV and radio commercials in Southwest Ohio next week that attempt to pressure House Speaker John Boehner (R-West Chester) to allow a vote on the “E-Verify” bill.The group, Numbers USA, said Boehner is letting the bill languish in the House Ways and Means Committee so Republicans don’t anger Latino voters in an election year. The House Judiciary Committee approved the bill last year.The commercials include a 30-second TV ad and a one-minute radio ad.Next to an image of Boehner, the TV spot states, “Meet House Republican Speaker John Boehner. He won’t let Congress vote on E-Verify. Thanks to Speaker Boehner, illegal aliens can keep American jobs. Now Americans, meet the telephone … tell him to bring E-Verify for a vote or he may not like your vote in November.”Under the bill, the federal government’s voluntary E-Verify system that is used to check the immigration status of employees would become mandatory nationwide.Currently seven states require E-Verify checks and 12 others require state agencies and contractors to use it. The federal government has operated its system for the past 15 years.About 300,000 of the 2.2 million U.S. employers with five or more employees were enrolled in E-Verify as of autumn 2011, according to workforce.com.The Internet-based system checks any employee’s personal information against the Social Security database and several Homeland Security databases.If the employee is confirmed, that person is authorized to work. If the person isn’t confirmed, he or she has eight working days to contest the finding with the Social Security Administration or the Department of Homeland Security.“Speaker Boehner has supported legislation with E-Verify in the past, and the issue is currently working its way through the committee process,” Michael Steel, a Boehner spokesman, told The Washington Times earlier this month.But Numbers USA isn’t convinced, and has launched the ad blitz in response.Numbers USA said the bill would crack down on the hiring of undocumented immigrants and free up jobs that could be taken by unemployed U.S. citizens.Critics, however, said the electronic monitoring system proposed by the E-Verify bill would be fraught with errors due to it reliance on incomplete or outdated databases. They cite the number of people who have mistakenly been placed on Homeland Security’s terrorist watch list as an example.Further, opponents believe the bill would lead to more under-the-table hiring, while some Libertarians have worried that it’s a backdoor method for implementing a national I.D. card system.The bill has caused some unlikely political alliances.Supporters of the bill include President Barack Obama, GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.Opponents include the American Civil Liberties Union and several labor unions.Based in Virginia, Numbers USA was founded in 1997 by Roy Beck, an author and ex-journalist who worked for anti-immigration activist John Tanton. Tanton also helped form two other groups, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) and the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS).Numbers USA wants to reduce U.S. immigration levels to pre-1965 levels. The group’s website states, “The 1990s saw the biggest population boom in U.S. history … this population boom was almost entirely engineered by federal forced-growth policies that are still in place. The Census Bureau states that Americans will suffer this kind of rapid congestion every decade into the future unless Congress changes these policies.”The Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights organization that monitors extremist groups, has said Numbers USA, FAIR and CIS have connections to white supremacist and neo-Nazi leaders.A 2009 report by the center states, “FAIR, CIS and Numbers USA are all part of a network of restrictionist organizations conceived and created by John Tanton, the ‘puppeteer’ of the nativist movement and a man with deep racist roots.”The report added, “As the first article in this report shows, Tanton has for decades been at the heart of the white nationalist scene. He has met with leading white supremacists, promoted anti-Semitic ideas, and associated closely with the leaders of a eugenicist foundation once described by a leading newspaper as a ‘neo-Nazi organization.’ He has made a series of racist statements about Latinos and worried that they were outbreeding whites.”
by Kevin Osborne
About 75,000 workers in Greater Cincinnati don't have insurance coverage for contraceptives, The Enquirer reports. Most of those who don't are employed by hospital systems connected to the Catholic Church or religiously affiliated universities, which try to adhere to the church's stance against using birth control. Still, as reporter Cliff Peale writes, “They follow the Catholic directives first, but also have set up financial models that depend on millions of dollars from Medicare, Medicaid and federal student aid programs, and employees who might very well be non-Catholics.” In other words, they want federal largesse, they just don't want to follow federal rules.Dick Costolo, the CEO of Twitter, will be one of the speakers next week at Procter & Gamble's digital marketing summit. The event, known as Signal P&G, will be held March 8 at the corporation's downtown headquarters. About 20 executives will participate in the summit, which will feature a full day of case studies and one-on-one interviews with industry leaders.If you live within Cincinnati's city limits, your day for garbage pickup might be changing. Beginning March 5, some trash collection routes will change, which means the day of the week when garbage and recycling are collected will be affected in some neighborhoods. Check this website for more details.The Cincinnati Board of Education announced today that it wants to renew the contract of Mary Ronan, who has been schools superintendent since April 2009. The board authorized negotiations to be conducted with Ronan over the next month on a three-year contract extension that would take effect on Aug. 1, 2012 and end on July 31, 2015.In news elsewhere, today might well be the rubicon for the campaign of Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney. Primaries will be held today in Arizona and Romney's native Michigan, where his family is something of a political dynasty. Many pundits say that unless Romney scores a convincing victory in Michigan, his campaign could be in serious trouble against the surging Rick Santorum.Meanwhile, Romney is angry that some Democratic voters in Michigan are vowing to cross over and cast ballots for Santorum in the GOP primary, to sow chaos. But Romney used a similar tactic and cast a Democratic ballot in Massachusetts's 1992 primary. "In Massachusetts, if you register as an independent, you can vote in either the Republican or Democratic primary," Romney told ABC News. Until he made an unsuccessful run for Senate in 1994, Romney had spent his adult life as a registered independent. "When there was no real contest in the Republican primary, I’d vote in the Democrat primary, vote for the person who I thought would be the weakest opponent for the Republican,” he added.The Orange One is facing criticism again for his leadership style, or lack thereof. West Chester's favorite son, House Speaker John Boehner, is being chided for fumbling the passage of a major transportation bill. Because Boehner couldn't round up enough votes to pass the bill – which is being touted as the GOP's main jobs plan for 2012 – Boehner had to split the bill into three component parts.Anti-government protestors in Syria said they found the bodies of 64 men dumped on the outskirts of the city of Homs. An unknown number of women and children who had been with the men are missing, protestors added. The uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began last March, and pressure for U.S. or NATO military intervention is growing due to the violence.New archaeological evidence suggests that America was first discovered by Stone Age people from Europe, about 10,000 years before the Siberian-originating ancestors of the American Indians set foot in the New World. Time to start changing those history books.
by Kevin Osborne
Perhaps sensing they were losing the public perception battle, House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor on Monday agreed to extend the payroll tax cut for another 10 months without getting offsetting reductions elsewhere in the budget. The action is a victory for President Obama, who opposed the GOP’s attempts to force pay cuts for federal workers and require them to contribute more to their pensions.
by Kevin Osborne
A prominent Republican congressman is under investigation for insider trading. U.S. Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.), who heads the House Financial Services Committee, is being probed by the Office of Congressional Ethics for making suspicious trades and buying certain stock options while helping oversee the nation’s banking and financial services industries.
0 Comments · Wednesday, November 16, 2011
It wasn’t very long ago that University
of Cincinnati students started a mostly justified riot in Clifton
Heights — it was Cinco de Mayo and a frat boy locked his keys inside his
car while it was running (“Smash it! Fuck the police!”). Penn State
University students today took to the streets in defense of something
even more ridiculous: their school’s football coach getting fired.
2 Comments · Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Protesters showed up at John Boehner’s West Chester office today only to find a note on the door that read, “Sorry, slackers — out on the golf course. :)” Staffers refused to answer any questions about local job creation except to point out that Boehner at that moment was paying a caddie and several different people to bring him drinks.
0 Comments · Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Let’s connect the dots and see who is being more honest and straightforward in negotiations to raise the federal debt ceiling. (And for readers who think the debt ceiling fight doesn’t affect them, you’re just flat out wrong.) Boehner alleged the House had passed a plan, the “Cut, Cap and Balance Act,” with bipartisan support. That bill — which would cut current spending, cap the amount of future spending, require Congress to pass a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution and raise the federal debt ceiling — is based on highly questionable numbers.
1 Comment · Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Barack Obama and John Boehner walk into a bar. The bartender says, “We don’t serve your kind in here … just kidding — what do you assholes want?” This stupid joke is a lot funnier than what actually happened when Obama and Boehner walked into a meeting room in an attempt to avoid a government default, only to walk back out and blame each other for walking away.