Wednesday, August 31, 2011 fact checks Perry's Claims About Texas

Texas-Size Recovery
Here's a look at the facts behind job growth in the Lone Star State.
August 31, 2011

Presidential candidate and Texas Gov. Rick Perry has boasted of significant job growth in his state in the past few years. And for good reason: It's true. While Texas clearly hasn't avoided the recession, the state has done well in terms of increasing jobs, when compared with the recovery nationally.

Perry's claim that "40 percent … of all the jobs in America were created in Texas" since June 2009 is accurate. But it’s also true that the increase in jobs hasn't kept pace with the rise in the state's population — so the number of jobless Texans also has risen, along with the state’s unemployment rate. And Texas is tied with Mississippi for the highest percentage of hourly workers paid at or below the minimum wage.

Texas job statistics are a mixed bag. Perry’s supporters and Perry’s detractors select the statistics that suit their spin. Here we'll just lay out a balanced look at the facts — good and bad alike — and leave the spin to others.


Fact: Texas is responsible for 40 percent of the nation's job creation since June 2009.

Perry, South Carolina, Aug. 13: Since June of 2009, Texas is home to 40 percent of all the jobs added in the United States.
Perry has touted this statistic several times, and with the economy and jobs monopolizing the political discourse these days, it's little wonder this has become a major talking point for the governor. On top of that, it's true — even if there are some not-so-rosy-sounding statistics that go along with it. More on those in a minute.

Texas has done a fine job of adding to its employment numbers. Since June 2009, which marked the official end of the recession, until July 2011, the number of jobs increased in the state by 328,000. Nationally, the job growth in that time period was 697,000, according to figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That means Texas jobs made up 47 percent of the national net job creation.

What about Perry's entire tenure as governor? Texas still looks better than the country overall. The state has added 1,081,900 jobs since December 2000, the month Perry took office. It's an increase of 11.3 percent during his time as governor. Nationally, employment has gone down in this time frame, declining by 1,295,000, a nearly 1 percent drop.

Perry's record is part of a long-term trend. Texas has done well in the jobs department for decades. "This point goes neglected," says Bernard L. Weinstein, professor of business economics in the Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. "Yes, Texas has created more jobs than any other state" in the last two years. "But that’s been true since 1970. For the last 41 years Texas has added more jobs than any other state, and in most years, has led the nation in job creation," Weinstein told us. "So Gov. Perry can claim that these jobs were created on his watch, but they were created on everybody else’s watch too."

The San Antonio-Express News recently pointed out that past Texas governors have done well in terms of job creation, too. The state did even better when George W. Bush was governor; jobs went up 20.3 percent, though Bush's 1995-2000 term also came during prosperous times. "A lot of what we’re doing is growing like we always grew," Dick Lavine, senior fiscal analyst for the Center for Public Policy Priorities in Austin, a think tank that advocates for low- and moderate-income families, told us, referring to both jobs and the state's burgeoning population. "It’s a longer-term trend in Texas that’s just continuing."

Fact: Despite the job gains, Texas' unemployment rate has gone up.

While Texas has created jobs, the state hasn't created enough of them to keep pace with a rising population and labor force. In fact, if we look at the June 2009 starting point that Perry refers to, unemployment got worse in Texas – going from 7.7 percent in June 2009 to 8.4 percent in July 2011. The national rate, meanwhile, improved – dropping from 9.5 percent to 9.1 percent.

The fact is, neither Texas, nor the nation, is adding jobs at a pace fast enough to bring down unemployment to historically normal levels. And Texas' unemployment rate — while still below the national average — is now higher than that of 26 states.

The number of employed and the number of unemployed in Texas both have increased in the past three years, according to BLS data. So, while jobs have grown, the number of unemployed in the state has doubled since January 2008. How can a state add jobs while also adding unemployed workers? It simply adds population.

Texas is the second largest state, and its population — 25.1 million as of the 2010 census — has increased rapidly. It has gone up by 20.6 percent from 2000 to 2010, more than twice the rate of the U.S. overall, according to the Census Bureau.

"It’s a little hard to tell … whether job growth has led to population growth in Texas or vice versa," says Lavine.

Perry's supporters will say that people from other states have moved to Texas because of job opportunities. And that's true for some. But a little more than half of the state's population growth, 54 percent, was natural — births and deaths — from 2000 to 2009. The rest was split between domestic and international immigration, with 21.6 percent of the growth coming from people moving from other states and 23.7 percent coming from international migrants. That's according to the Census Bureau and the Texas State Data Center.
"When you have more people, you generally have more jobs," Howard Wial, an economist and fellow with The Brookings Institution, said in an interview with "When more people move in, wages don’t rise. They might fall a little bit," which, in turn, can be an impetus for job creation. "When there are more jobs created, more people want to move in."

Another look at BLS data comparing Texas to the nation shows that the state has done better than the country as a whole. But it still has been hit by the recession. Both unemployment rates have grown at roughly the same rate. The Texas unemployment rate was 4.4 percent in Jan 2008, 0.6 percentage points below the national rate of 5.0. In July, Texas’ unemployment was 8.4 percent, 0.7 percentage points below the national rate of 9.1 percent.

Fact: The Texas economy has benefited from high fuel prices.

When one of your state's major industries is oil and gas, this is a no-brainer. "When the price of oil goes up, the Texas economy, which is a major oil producer, booms," Wial says. Or at least, it would not be as depressed as it was before. That, combined with new technology to extract natural gas from shale, has led to job growth.

Other oil-producing states have done even better: North Dakota's unemployment rate is an enviable 3.3 percent.

Crude oil prices were $66 to $72 per barrel in June 2009, but they've topped $110 this year (before declining to about $85 this week). "This has a direct impact on jobs in energy exploration, extraction, and energy support businesses and an indirect impact on job creation by boosting the wealth and incomes of many state residents," Gary Burtless, a senior fellow in economic studies at The Brookings Institution, said in an email to

Indeed, jobs in the mining and logging sector, which includes energy, have gone up by 25 percent since June 2009 in the state, an increase of 50,300 jobs. And the impact extends to other industries. "The energy sector has very strong linkages" to other parts of the economy, says Weinstein, and accounts for a healthy portion of tax revenue. "So it’s been a significant factor in helping the state."

Texas jobs have grown in trade, transportation and utilities; professional and business services; and education and health services, among others. The only sectors measured by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to decline since June 2009 were construction, manufacturing and information.

Fact: Texas didn't experience the big housing bust.

Texas was largely spared from the major spike in housing prices that occurred in other states, followed by the bust that sent homeowners into foreclosure and left others owing more than their homes were worth. Weinstein says a housing bust in the 1980s left a sobering effect on developers. "This time we didn’t overbuild," he says. Plus, the state has tighter restrictions than other states on home equity loans and refinancing — homeowners can only borrow on 80 percent of the home's value. Elsewhere, subprime lenders were offering loans of up to 125 percent of home value. "Your home couldn't be a piggy bank" in Texas the way it could in other states, Weinstein says.

In the case of mortgages, Texas had stricter regulation than the nation as a whole. But the state also has fewer regulations compared with other states on construction. That also helped avoid a housing boom and bust.
"Building restrictions are more lax and there is also a lot of buildable land, with few natural obstacles to building," such as mountains or large bodies of water in metropolitan areas, Wial says. The population growth, therefore, sustained demand for homes without pushing up prices. "Because it’s easy to build, it’s easy to accommodate a lot of people who want to move into the state without a big spike in housing prices," he says.

So for one reason or another, consumers didn't overborrow on homes and didn't have to cut back spending in other ways. "Texans, unlike consumers in some other parts of the country — think Arizona, Nevada, Florida, and southern California — did not have to tighten their belts as much in the house price bust, because they borrowed less in the boom that preceded the bust," Burtless says.

Fact: Texas has benefited from an increase in government jobs, too.

Government was the largest industry in the state in 2010, as measured by a percentage of gross domestic product, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. It beat out mining, which was the state's second largest industry.

In terms of the total number of jobs, as measured by BLS, government is the second largest sector, behind trade, transportation and utilities. Since June 2009, the state has added 31,100 government jobs. That's nearly 10 percent of Texas' job growth. The nation, meanwhile, has lost 523,000 government jobs in that time frame.

These government jobs — which would include teachers, police and firefighters — have been a significant part of the employment growth in Texas throughout Perry's tenure. Since Perry took office, private sector employment has gone up by 10 percent and government sector employment has climbed 18.3 percent, as the San Antonio-Express News noted.

Government jobs in the state may decline now that Texas has instituted cutbacks to cover budget shortfalls. The Texas Legislative Budget Board said the new budget passed this summer provides funding for 5,727 fewer full-time equivalent positions over two years (see page 20). The Center for Public Policy Priorities has estimated that a $4 billion cut in funding to school districts over the next two years, compared with what the schools were supposed to receive under current law, could lead to a total loss of 49,000 positions in the coming school year, Lavine said. That's if the districts cover the shortfall only by eliminating jobs. (Government jobs already have declined in the state in recent months: If we use July 2010 as our starting point, government jobs have dropped by 14,500 in the past year.)

Perry also has used state money to encourage job growth outside government, giving grants to businesses to create jobs as part of the Texas Enterprise Fund. It's unclear exactly how many jobs have been created by the program. A Texas watchdog group, Texans for Public Justice, published a report in September 2010, saying that businesses had created 22,544 jobs — with evidence of another 8,147 indirect jobs — since 2003 under the program, while the Perry administration had claimed about 54,000 new jobs.

Fact: Texas, along with Mississippi, has the highest percentage of hourly workers at or below the minimum wage.

In Texas, 9.5 percent of workers paid hourly rates earn at or below minimum wage. That gives the state the highest percentage in the nation, tied with Mississippi, according to BLS data.

In 2000, the percentage of hourly workers paid at or below minimum wage was a little under 6 percent. Perry took office in December of that year, and the percentage declined, reaching about 3 percent of hourly workers in 2006. It then jumped back up in the next few years, at least partly due to increases in the federal minimum wage.

Weinstein points to a few reasons low-wage jobs are so prevalent in the state — Texas' convention business and an increase in health service jobs to care for an aging population. Both sectors include many low-paying jobs.

Lavine adds that in addition to low wages, many jobs come with low benefits. Texas has the highest percentage of residents lacking health insurance — 26 percent — among U.S. states.

The jobs created also match the workforce, says Lavine, and he's concerned that the state needs to do a better job of educating and training its labor force. "Yes, it's better to have a job than not have a job, but as we move into the 21st century," he says, "it would be much better to have a highly skilled workforce that was able to compete in a service economy." He cites a study by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, which estimated that in 2018, Texas would rank first among the states in the proportion of jobs for high-school dropouts. The state would rank 31st, according to the study, in the proportion of jobs requiring a bachelor's degree.

Weinstein, too, says that Texas has a growing segment of the population that isn't prepared for high-wage work. "One of the big things facing Texas and a lot of other states," he says, is that "we have a rapidly growing population of under-educated workers."
– by Lori Robertson

Clarification, Aug. 31: Texas is tied with Mississippi in having the highest percentage of hourly workers at or below the minimum wage. We stated this twice in our article. In a third instance, we originally left out the word "hourly."

U.S. Department of Labor. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Texas employment data. accessed 30 Aug 2011.
U.S. Department of Labor. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Employment, Hours, and Earnings from the Current Employment Statistics survey (National). accessed 30 Aug 2011.
Weinstein, Bernard L., professor of business economics, Southern Methodist University. Interview with 30 Aug 2011.
Lavine, Dick. senior fiscal analyst, Center for Public Policy Priorities. Interview with 29 Aug 2011.
Fikac, Peggy and Patrick Danner. "Government fuels Texas jobs." San Antonio Express-News. 26 Aug 2011.
U.S. Department of Labor. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Local Area Unemployment Statistics. accessed 30 Aug 2011.
U.S. Department of Labor. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Selected Labor Force Statistics, Texas and U.S. 19 Aug 2011.
U.S. Census Bureau. State and Country QuickFacts, Texas. accessed 30 Aug 2011.
U.S. Census Bureau. National and State Population Estimates, Components of Population Change. Cumulative Estimates of the Components of Resident Population Change for the United States, Regions, States, and Puerto Rico: April 1, 2000 to July 1, 2009 (NST-EST2009-04). accessed 30 Aug 2011.
Texas Office of the State Demographer. Texas: Demographic Characteristics and Trends. Texas State Data Center. 19 Aug 2011.
Wial, Howard, economist and fellow, The Brookings Institution. Interview with 30 Aug 2011.
Smith, Virginia. "Shale gas is producing jobs, stimulating the economy." Houston Chronicle. 11 Sep 2009.
Burtless, Gary, senior fellow in economic studies, The Brookings Institution. Email interview with 26 Aug 2011.
U.S. Energy Information Administration. Cushing, OK WTI Spot Price FOB (Dollars per Barrel). accessed 30 Aug 2011.
Texas Office of Consumer Credit Commissioner. Home Equity Loans in Texas: Frequently Asked Questions. accessed 30 Aug 2011.
Nussbaum, Debra. "Spending It: Focus on Home Equity Loans — 125 Percent Loans; Bigger Amounts May Bring Bigger Risks." New York Times. 22 Mar 1998.
U.S. Department of Commerce. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Bearfacts, Texas. 7 Jun 2011.
Mildenberg, David. "Texas Legislators Pass Two-Year Budget That Shorts Schools by $4 Billion." Bloomberg. 28 May 2011.
Texas Legislative Budget Board. Summary of Conference Committee Report on House Bill 1 for the 2012–13 Biennium. May 2011.
Texans for Public Justice. "Phantom Jobs: The Texas Enterprise Fund's Broken Promises." 8 Sep 2010.
U.S. Department of Labor. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Minimum Wage Workers in Texas – 2010. 28 Mar 2011.
Kaiser Family Foundation. Health Coverage & Uninsured. accessed 30 Aug 2011.
Carnevale, Anthony P., et. al. "Help Wanted: Projections of Jobs and Education Requirements Through 2018." Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. Jun 2010.

The Deficit

Over the past weekend much of the eastern seaboard of the United States dealt with the flooding, wind and rain from Hurricane Irene. While some places were less affected than predicted, others, like Vermont and New Jersey are dealing with the worst flooding in 100 years. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has, by all accounts, responded brilliantly, feeding thirteen towns in Vermont totally cut-off from food and the world, in helping devestated townspeople in New Jersey find a place to sleep. Unlike the massive gaps in responding to Katrina in 2005, and perhaps because of it, FEMA has shown just how well a coordinated, well organized response can be done, and has been done, a hundred previous times in our nation's past, and probably just in the past 30 years, by the Federal government. Our fellow citizens demand (and rightly) that our Federal government coordinate and control a holistic and unified response to ensure equal treatment and help. Like many other similar services, the efficiencies a government can bring to bear cannot be replicated by any private entity, nor is any private entity willing to try.

A recent and outstanding article in the USA Today described this very well in saying, "The difference between what Americans demand from their government and what they are willing to pay for it is called... 'The Deficit'."

In some people's zeal to cut their tax bill, they often back-handedly refer to government "spending" as out of control and wasteful when in fact the vast majority is neither "out of control" (it increases and decreases in reaction to need) nor for the most part, is it wasteful. Most government programs operate at a fraction of the overhead of their private peers. Profit is not a bad thing, but often it drives cheapening of quality, and of course drives up expense passed along to the consumer.

Regardless, when Americans finally wake up and recognize they have demands, like Social Security and.. FEMA, perhaps some day they'll understand where the spending comes from, and then maybe someday, they'll also accept that revenues have to exist to pay for those services they demand. Taxes are essentially at their lowest level in 60 years, it is not spending which is out of control and irresponsible (in this time of great need), but rather it is tax cutting which has gone mad. People want services, but they irresponsibly don't want to pay for them.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Disasters and Disastrous Right Wing Revisionist History

This week marks the sixth anniversary of the Bush-botched disaster that was Hurricane Katrina and the levee breaches which disrupted and nearly destroyed New Orleans for a time, with some 80% under water.  As of this date, the population of New Orleans is still 30% smaller than it was prior to those events; much remains destroyed and/or abandoned. 

In contrast to the recent Hurricane/Tropical storm Irene, which has done a great deal of damage, in New Orleans alone some 1600 people died from Katrina and the levee floods, with another 260 dead across seven Gulf states, most of them in Mississippi and Louisiana.  There are, in contrast, only some 40 deaths attributed so far to Irene, with extensive damage across seven eastern seaboard states.

In this context, we have one of the Texan candidates for the 2012 Presidential race, a recurring high-poller on the extreme right, coming out with an improbable statement that is typical of his variety of microscopically small government.  Between Bush, Ron Paul and Rick Perry, I'm beginning to wonder if Texans are not substantially crazy.

What Ron Paul appears to fail to remember about the 1900 disaster that affected Galveston, was this:

Mass funeral pyres is a far cry from doing just fine, and I doubt that is what anyone in their right mind, as opposed to right wing mind, would want.  Had it not been for the first significant discovery of oil in 1901, it is highly questionable that Galveston would ever have recovered to the extent that it did.  It is not a model on which to build in other parts of the country, not unless you can guarantee an oil discovery like what occurred in 1901, or something similar - which is unlikely if not impossible.  It is certainly NOT something on which one relies.

So while yes, more than a hundred years later Galveston has recovered, it does not make that disaster and the 1900 disaster recovery a desirable model to emulate.  Far from it, rather any time an area, a community, a state or a region is so devastated, the longer it takes for that geographic area to recover, the weaker we are as a country, the weaker and more devastated our economy; it is mistake not to appreciate that it harms all of us, either directly or indirectly.

Except that it isn't only Ron Paul making these Texas-crazy statements.  We have Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts, one of the states devastated by Irene.  Romney is also now one of the crazy right wing candidates. 

I wonder how the people in Joplin, devestated by the tornado there, feel about the cuts to their funding so that the east coast could receive assistance for Irene?  In what world does that make any sense whatsoever?

A far better appreciation of how we are interconnected in our nation, in our society and civilization was this commentary from Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, another state affected by Irene.

The right wing ideology of independence remembers history, or outright rewrites history in a not-factual way, to promote their positions.  It is a history that was never the way they describe, a history we have learned from, changed as a result for the better.  Those changes have made us stronger through the broad cooperation of our citizens, through the support of our government as the organizing, stabilizing entity.

The right would have us go backwards, by glamorizing and glorifying a false reality, a stupid reality that they would impose on our present.  They believe in a world that never was, by denying the facts of our history, by failing to be reality based.

If we revert to that fake past, our nation will be weaker, our individual citizens will be poorer, our economy will be devastated.  We do not dare to elect leaders who will take us down that dark road.  We need the light of history, of having learned from our mistakes, of having grown and improved our lives.

It is significant that Ron Paul DOES have Galveston in his congressional district; but to stop there would be to ignore the important details, the substance.  There was a major hurricane, Hurricane Ike, which struck Texas, including Galveston, in mid September 2008.  Ron Paul voted against disaster aid for his district in the months which followed.  In Texas, some 40 people died, the same approximate number as in Hurricane Irene across all states (so far), with another approximately 30 dead from the storm across other states from Ike.

In a recent interview on Fox News, Ron Paul took great pride in having been on the show some 28 times prior to that interview.  Ron Paul went to his home district after Ike, to Galveston which was among the hardest hit communities, exactly once, just long enough for a photo op with then President Bush.  He did not return to assist in any way with the storm recovery.  I believe that those actions speak louder than words about where Ron Paul's priorities lie, and in a larger context tells us a great deal about the conservatives on the right.

A state senator was quoted, after Ike:
State Rep. Craig Eiland of Galveston said, "I think his actions are irresponsible."
Fellow politicians on the ground aren't all that impressed.
Eiland asked, "If the whole Congress followed his lead, where would we be in the recovery?"
State  Rep. Eiland was correct; Ron Paul's position was irresponsible and IS irresponsible, Rick Perry's positions are irresponsible, Mitt Romney's positions are irresponsible, Michele Bachmann's positions are irresponsible, Eric Cantor's positions are irresponsible.  They do not work, they harm individuals, they do damage to our economy and to our country.  They are not patriotic, they are not true to our founding principles or the example of our founding fathers (and mothers).  They are wrong, they are bad, they are harmful and neglectful. Revisionist history is a lie.  Sometimes it is a lie of omission, sometimes a lie of commission, but it is a lie.

The right benefits only one constituency, the corporations - specifically the executives who profit disproportionately from their policies, and the very richest 1% of this country's people.  If you don't fit into either of those categories, you should be opposing the religious right, the conservatives, the GOP and the Tea Party.  Vote them out, or recall them even sooner if you have the opportunity.  They are not good for you and they are not good for this country.  They will ruin us all.

FEMA, and conscientious government, from Obama, and agencies, on down through cooperation with the states governments and governors, resulted in better response, better preparation to reduce damage so far as that was possible.  We have the choice of government doing what government should do, or not.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Burnt Toast (MN Twins)

As most readers know, this is principally a political/current affairs blog, but sometimes I am struck by the need to vent my spleen about something even more important. Yes, you are right, baseball, that sweet game played in the warm, sultry glow of mother Sun.

This year my local team, the Minnesota Twins were expected to contend not only for supremacy in their division, but also potentially, maybe, hopefully for the American League crown and a chance to play in the World Series.

I had my doubts, their starting pitching staff boasted a veteran who'd been pretty hitable earlier in his career, a Twin's homegrown veteran who'd been pushed to the bullpen last year, another who ranged from lightning in a bottle goodness to being unable to find the strike-zone, and lastly an as yet unproven lefty who seemed effective, but only over a very short last half of last year. Still, with the mighty lineup they were going to put on the field, along with their typically stellar defense, these Twins, with a little luck, might even have the stuff of legend.

Or.. so it was supposed to be.

Instead, the lineup suffered injury after injury, the closer of the future turned into the straightball hit for a homerun of the present, and the pitching staff, well, it turned out to be worse than feared, not better than advertized. At least the defense.... has been subpar by league standards and WAYY below what the Twins prize.

Anyone paying attention to this team closely could see the toaster was on and the bread was browning in the middle of July, today's events mearly point out that the team which was supposed to be fun to watch instead resembles something closer to that which you'd scrap off your knife before buttering your breakfast.

This team suffered injury to be sure, but it's Achilles heal in fact was a cobbled-together pitching staff of has-beens and wanna-be's. There isn't a reliable starter among the crowd with perhaps the exception of Scott Baker, and HE was demoted for floundering last year.. and this year.. he's hurt, again. Now they are going to trade Jason Kubel, already traded Delmon Young (for a song), and likely will outright release Jim Thome (one of my all-time favorite players, but I hope he goes someplace to win a championship, he deserves it, he's a class guy). These trades will occur on top of other recently poor trades (J.J. Hardy, and acquiring Young in the first place). This team which so often has found diamonds in the rough by trading veterans, has had the reverse-King-Lear thing going on for three years. Nearly every trade made has hurt, not helped.

Further puzzling, this team which for years lacked a solid left-handed home run hitter, now has the reverse problem (inadequate right-handed power to balance Mauer, Morneau and (for now) Jason Kubel). It lacked it so much it traded a B calibre shortstop and the only hard thrower in the organization (Jason Bartlett and Matt Garza) for Delmon Young, which flopped when Young turned out to be both bad in the field and have a poor attitude, preferring to slap the ball to right than yank it over the fence in left. It lacked it so much it gave a nice, dependable utility guy with some pop (Michael Cuddyer) $14M a year to try to do his impression of Vlad Guererro or Harmon Killabrew. I like Cuddyer, I want him to stay, but he's overpaid for someone to hit .285, 20 homers and 80 RBI in right...and so the team which couldn't find a way to protect it's too many righties in the decade of the 90's, now can't find a decent way to protect the lefties in the lineup.... by the way, the Twins in the 90's finished last, A LOT.

Baseball lesson sidenote - right-handed pitchers get out righthanded batters much better than they get out lefties (normally), the same is true for left handed pitchers - and of course the inverse is true as well, right handed batters hit lefties MUCH better than they hight righties (though they generally have to do OK against righties or they can't play - e.g. Delmon Young), and the axiom of baseball is this, lefty hitters don't hit lefty pitchers, hardly at all. Consequently, when the Twins bat Span (Lefty), Casilla (Switch), Mauer (L), Morneau (L), and Kubel (L) as they have done with routine, late in the game other managers this year have found it easy to deal with the "fearsome" lineup (when it was healthy), by simply bringing in a left-handed reliever for that stretch, then a righty to face Cuddyer (R), Valencia(R), Repko/Plouffe(R), and Nishioka (R). Two innings of easily managed baseball. It's not the key reason for failures, but it has made an offense which was already hurting due to injury, anemic in late innings. It's called the lefty-righty switch (or playing the odds), and while I really think Gardenhire is a good motivater, he seems oblivious to this easily manipulated hole.

The Twins are going to lose Kubel, a talented left-handed slugger, Joe Nathan (their current closer), Thome (their only serious batt off the bench), Matt Capps (a guy they traded a promising catcher for), probably Cuddyer. That leaves them with a team of Span (cf), Repko (lf), Revere (rf), Morneau (1b), Nishioka (who is hitting .210) (2b), Casilla (ss), Valencia (3b - hitting 240), and Mauer. There are only three good major league hitters in that group and two other passingly ok hitters (Revere and Casilla). Their starters right now are Pavano, Baker, Blackburn (burn being the operative word), Duensing (who will be demoted to the pen), and Liriano. Given the fact that Blackburn and Duensing won't be starters next year, this leaves the Twins two starters short, and a weak bullpen other than Glen Perkins.Frankly, this team's deficiencies are so striking, and they have so little help left them in the minors AND they pretty clearly won't pay for starting pitching, that I think the Twins of '11 are about to repeat the track record of the Twins of post -'91. Which is truly sad. This community helped to build a beautiful ballpark, and the owners, I believe, tried to put a decent team on the field, one which was pitching short (a bit), but still should have been fun to watch. Instead, due to injury, poor trades, a bit of poor management.. it is a team in free-fall. It's no longer time to ask whether you smell something burning, but rather it's time to ask where's the bacon?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Buhler? Buhler? Perry? Perry?

Ben Stein nails it; Perry is bone ignorant on the subject of the econmy. Bachmann isn't any better. Further, it is generally less costly to prevent pollution than to try to clean it up afterwards. Just one of the ways in which Perry's way of doing business in Texas redistributes wealth away from the middle and lower economic strata into the pockets of the wealthy few.

To excerpt again from my comments and expand on them from an earlier post, Texas has among the worst stats of the 50 states for poverty, for ignorance, for suppressed voter participation, and for pollution.

Is this what we want? Does anyone in their right mind believe that this is the way to economic growth and competitiveness?

Texas is:

49th in teacher pay

1st in the percentage of people over 25 without a high school diploma 

41st in high school graduation rate

46th in SAT scores

1st in percentage of uninsured children

1st in percentage of population uninsured

1st in percentage of non-elderl­y uninsured

49th in mental health funding

50th in homeowners­' insurance affordabil­ity

3rd in percentage of people living below the poverty level

49th in average Women Infant and Children benefit payments

1st in teenage birth rate/ unintended pregnancies, and repeat teen unintended pregnancies

50th in average credit scores for loan applicants

50th in percentage of voting age population that votes

1st in annual number of executions

1st in minimum wage jobs

1st in air pollution emissions

1st in volume of volatile organic compounds released into the air

1st in amount of toxic chemicals released into water

1st in amount of recognized cancer-cau­sing carcinogen­s released into air

1st in amount of carbon dioxide emissions

This is Texas. This is what you get with the politics of Rick Perry. This is what you get with far right Republican politics. This is what happens when low information voters go gaga for gun happy characters who are all bullets and no brains, all fire power, no brain power.

All hail the ignorant, gun toting tea party and their foolish partisan policies. The rest of us don't need to mess with Texas; they've messed it up pretty well already without any help from outside their borders. 
Don't hold your breath for the anti-intellect crowd to smarten up any time soon; although you might want to hold your breath to try to avoid all those airborne pollutants. 

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Fact Check.Org Checks Perry

At this rate, Perry could end up tying Michele Bachmann for consistently making false statements.  At this rate, Rick Perry has all of the flaws of George W. Bush, combined with the lack of intellect and education of Sarah Palin, with some unique deviations like Texas session thrown in that are all his own.

And yet some people foolishly think he should be considered a serious presidential candidate. as of August 15th has this list, which is I might add far from complete and comprehensive:

Fact Checking Perry
Rick Perry has made false or exaggerated claims on U.S. oil imports, the federal debt, Social Security and the federal health care law.
The Texas governor gave a speech Aug. 13 in South Carolina to announce he will run for the Republican presidential nomination. As we have for other declared candidates, we offer here a summary of his past statements that we have found to be false or misleading. We also reviewed his weekend speech and found other questionable claims.
■In his announcement speech, Perry said the U.S. cannot afford four more years of "rising energy dependence on nations that intend us harm." But U.S. reliance on foreign oil has dropped under President Barack Obama, and it is expected to decline again this year. The Energy Information Administration's Aug. 9 “Short-term Energy Outlook” said U.S. net imports of liquid fuels — as the EIA calls oil and other petroleum products — dropped from 57 percent of total consumption in the United States in 2008 to 49 percent in 2010, “because of rising domestic production and the decline in consumption during the economic downturn.” EIA projects net imports "will decline further to 47 percent in 2011 before rising slightly to 48 percent in 2012." Perry did not identify the "nations that intend us harm," but in March we looked at a similar claim by Sarah Palin and found that from 2008 to 2010 net imports from the Middle East were down 24 percent. Those from Africa dropped 8 percent.
■Perry also incorrectly claimed in his speech that Obama's economic policies "have given us record debt." U.S. public debt as a percentage of the nation's economy is at its highest level since World War II, but not at a record high. The national debt is best measured as “the amount of government debt held by the public relative to annual economic output,” according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. The public debt as a share of the gross domestic product stood at 62 percent last year, and CBO projects it will be even higher, at 69 percent, at the end of this fiscal year. That's high, but it was even higher for seven straight years, from 1943 to 1950, peaking at 109 percent of GDP in 1946, according to the Office of Management and Budget's historical tables.
■Last November, Perry exaggerated the financial problems of the Social Security system, when he claimed that "our kids are never going to see any benefit from it." At the time, the Social Security Board of Trustees had projected that there would be enough money coming in from payroll taxes to finance 78 percent of promised benefits, even when the Social Security Trust Fund is exhausted in 2037. The board's most recent report says the fund will be exhausted by 2036, but "tax income would be sufficient to pay only about three-quarters of scheduled benefits through 2085." Perry would have been correct to say that today’s young workers are not going to see the benefits now promised unless payroll taxes are increased. In an Aug. 5 analysis, the CBO said the payroll tax paid by employers and employees would have to be raised immediately from a combined 12.4 percent to about 14 percent to keep the trust fund in balance for the next 75 years.
■Also in November, Perry exaggerated how much Texas' share of Medicaid costs would increase as a result of the new federal health care law. Perry said the new law would cost Texas "$27 billion more, over and above what we’re already paying over the next 10 years, $2.7 billion every year." That's not true, according to a May 2010 study by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation. The new law expands Medicaid eligibility to cover more Americans. But the federal government will pay most of the extra cost: 100 percent in the first three years, phasing out to 90 percent by 2020. Kaiser estimated that Medicaid enrollment in Texas will increase 63.5 percent by 2019. The total Medicaid cost for the state would be $4.5 billion — but that's only 5.1 percent more, or $219 million, than it would have been without the new law.
But there are more than just these; there are more this WEEK than just these, from

Rick Perry’s Imaginary Regulation
August 16, 2011

Rick Perry falsely claimed the Obama administration wants farmers to obtain a commercial driver's license to ride tractors across public roads.
As first reported by the Des Moines Register, the Texas governor told his tall Texas tale at the Iowa State Farm on Monday — two days after announcing he would run for the Republican presidential nomination. He offered it as an example of "regulations that are stifling jobs."
Perry, Aug. 15: This is just such an obscene, crazy regulation. They wanna make — if you are a tractor driver, if you drive your tractor across a public road you're gonna have to have a commercial driver's license. Now, how idiotic is that?
As Perry made his claim, a member of the audience twice yelled out, "That's not true." And it is not. In fact, five days before Perry made his claim, the U.S. Department of Transportation issued a press release saying it had "no intention to propose new regulations governing the transport of agricultural products."
Here's what happened: Under federal law, the Transportation Department requires minimum standards that states must enforce when issuing commercial driver's licenses. The DOT's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration said that states "may be taking varied approaches" to exempting farmers from those requirements, and may be applying the exemption "inconsistently." So, the agency launched a review, asked for public comments and promised to issue regulatory guidance "to help ensure uniform application of the safety regulations."

That request for public comments, which was published May 31 in the Federal Register, generated a storm of criticism and concern — and misinformation. The National Sorghum Producers posted a blog item Aug. 4 that carried this headline: "A CDL to drive a tractor? Another burdensome regulation looms over ag." The blog said: "The proposal from USDOT would force those who operate any farm machinery, i.e. tractors and combines, to have a Commercial Drivers License (CDL)."

On Aug. 10, the DOT issued a press release saying it had "no intention to propose new regulations." It did, as promised, issue new regulatory guidance "designed to make sure states clearly understand the common sense exemptions that allow farmers, their employees, and their families to accomplish their day-to-day work and transport their products to market." In the press release, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, a former Republican congressman from Illinois, explained why the guidance was issued.
LaHood, Aug. 10: We have no intention of instituting onerous regulations on the hardworking farmers who feed our country and fuel our economy. Farmers deserve to know that reasonable, common sense exemptions will continue to be consistently available to agricultural operations across the country, and that’s why we released this guidance.
– Eugene Kiely
So, given that there are a lot of factcheckers out there, not just or, or the many others, WHY is it that these people don't watch more carefully what they say? They have to know there are people watching, listening, checking. They have to know that the information is there to be found, and that they are lying. So WHY?

The answer is that there are still plenty of gullible, ideology driven, low information voters who only want to be told what they want to hear, and don't want to hear anything that might be factual that would contradict that ideology. When we have candidates for our government that operate that way, we should do everything possible to keep them OUT of office. But we should also be castigating the low information voter who gives them the encouragement to lie, who doesn't know or care about the integrity, or the accuracy, of what they are told.

Let's Make a Deal? For WHOM? Rick Perry Sells His Soul to Bank Money

Rick Perry being assured by Bank of America that they will 'help him out'.  Not from the goodness of their hearts; they don't have any goodness in their hearts.  They make the offer in expectation that Perry is all too willing to 'help them out', to favor their interests over the country's interests and YOUR interests. 
This is not politics in action; this is corruption in action.  This is how it is done; this is what it looks like and sounds like.

And how can we expect fair regulation and level playing fields for Americans when even the SEC appears to be doing the bidding of those they are supposed to regulate?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Updated: But What Does It Mean? Congratulations to Latest WI Successful Recall Election Winners Halperin & Wirch!

Below is an insightful analysis from the Milwaukee Wisconsin Sentinel Journal online, by way of the excellent site (see the link on our blog roll) 'GoJo' for short, aka the Governor's Journal

Before you read the analysis, I would call our readers attention to a few things, notably  that the Sentinel won Pulitzers in 2008, 2010 and 2011, in evaluating their coverage and analysis.  And especially that this analysis cuts through the partisan bullshit that has been flying through the air like a poo-fight in the monkey cages at the zoo, before, during and after this particular series of elections. 

While the right has been trying to spin the two seat loss, and downplay, even outright LIE about the outside big money, big business, corporatists and billionaires who paid for the GOP wins, including through funding an unprecedented amount of dirty and illegal dealings in WI (similar activites in Maryland in the 2010 elections resulted in Republican felony convictions), we should be looking at these elections as well as the Wisconsin Surpreme Court election last April, as trends worth watching in the rest of 2011 and in the 2012 elections, both Presidential and other federal elections, and the more parochial state and local elections across the country.

Also, as you look at the number crunching analysis below, consider the numbers that are NOT included.  No, not the third party candidate numbers, the numbers of the respective failed recall petitions (another area rife with GOP cheating, those stalwart defenders of lawful elections, except when they are not).  There were attempts to recall 16 state senators initially; 8 Republicans, and  8 Democrats.  From those attempts we had six Republicans and three Democrats defending their seats in the recall elections.  But that indicates that there were five FAILED petition attempts to recall Democrats, which is a number that should be added to the other Republican losses in the actual election.  While Democrats failed to win only one challenge to a sitting Republican state senator, and only three failed recall petition attempts.  Which suggests to me, and I would hope suggests to readers here, that the Wisconsin political landscape is not a cakewalk, not a lead-pipe cinch for either party, but that the inroads into the Republican voter block are larger than the elections alone indicate.  This would bode gaurdedly well for a recall attempt on Walker, and he must be well aware of it.  I'm sure if he wasn't, the Koch Brothers could get through to him by phone to explain it to him.  That is why Walker is trying to make it MORE difficult to recall a seated governor than the current rules which apply to him now - the same rules which applied to his Republican friends in the senate.

In the article below, please note that embolded or larger letters are my emphasis added - DG.

The Wisconsin VoterThe Journal Sentinel's Craig Gilbert explores political trends in a purple state.
Summing up the Wisconsin recalls (by the numbers)
By Craig Gilbert of the Journal Sentinel
With all nine Wisconsin recall elections in the books, here’s a recap by the numbers, based on the unofficial results gathered by AP:

Close to half a million people voted in these nine races, with about 51% casting their votes for Democrats and 49% casting their votes for Republicans. There was less than a 7,000-vote difference between the combined vote totals for the two parties, with Democrats winning five races and Republicans winning four, narrowing GOP control of the state Senate from 19-14 to 17-16:
Nine Democratic candidates: 244,978 votes
Nine Republican candidates: 238,527 votes

Close to 41% of the voting-age adults across these nine districts turned out to vote in the recalls. That is about six points higher than the turnout in these districts for the state Supreme Court race in April and about seven points lower than the turnout in these districts for governor in last fall’s mid-terms.

These contests were fought on mostly GOP-friendly turf. The nine districts combined (six held by Republicans, three by Democrats) gave Republican Scott Walker 56% of the two-party vote in 2010, about three points higher than his statewide total, reflecting their overall GOP tilt. Only one of the nine was more Democratic than the state as whole based on the last governor’s race (the 32nd district held until last week by Republican Dan Kapanke).

In those six races, the GOP Senate incumbents got a combined 52% of the two-party vote, roughly four points lower than Walker’s performance in those same districts last year. (My broader take on what the results say about the Wisconsin electorate can be found here.)

Below is a race-by-race comparison of the Walker vote in 2010 and the GOP Senate vote in the 2011 recalls. One note about these numbers: the percentages reflect the GOP share of the combined two-party vote in both elections. Votes for third-party candidates are not included here for either year, since they weren’t reported in the initial AP recall returns. As a result the final official numbers will look slightly different.

The six seats held by GOP incumbents:

This breakdown shows that Republican support more or less “held” in three districts, in the Milwaukee (Darling), Twin Cities (Harsdorf) and Green Bay (Cowles) metropolitan areas. It eroded significantly in the other three seats. These numbers reaffirm that the key race in the broader recall war was in the 14th district, where the GOP erosion from Walker’s 2011 numbers shows that Democrats had a real opportunity there to pick up the third seat they needed to win control of the state Senate but fell a little more than 2,000 votes short.

Here are the same numbers for the three seats held by Democratic incumbents:

As these numbers show, these races weren’t very competitive. This wasn’t because the districts themselves tilted Democratic. They didn’t. The GOP had problems fielding effective candidates, and there simply wasn’t as much energy and support behind the GOP effort to recall Democratic senators as there was behind the Democratic effort to recall GOP senators.

As noted above, turnout averaged more than 40% of voting-age adults. The judgment here is that’s a very impressive number, given the fact that these were special legislative elections with no statewide races to draw voters and were held in the middle of the summer. It reflects both voter interest in these contests and the massive resources poured into them by both sides.

Turnout varied dramatically by district. In one district (the 10th) it exceeded the 2010 turnout for governor and in another it came close (the 32nd). Turnout was lowest in the three races that were considered the least competitive and attracted the lowest levels of spending and media attention, the 2nd, 22nd and 30th:

It intrigued me that in his recent bus tour that of the states Obama toured, he essentially went AROUND Wisconsin, where I would have expected him to go through it, or at least some small part of it, as it is, like the other states he toured, also a very important state for the 2012 elections. This particularly surprised me in the context of actual elections taking place, versus silly and unimportant Republican-only straw polls being held in Iowa.

The above analysis by the Journal Sentinel author of what happened in Wisconsin is very correct to focus on the numbers and on the turnout.  GoJo also drew my attention to a longer range polling project by Gallup which looked at partisan trends since the 2008 elections to present, nationwide.  That polling project still showed a Democratic majority among the more highly populated states, and Republican majorities in the very sparesely populated ones, but an overall trend to people self-identifying as Republican or Republican leaning Independents.  This is significant in so far as there seems to be greater disapproval of Republican policies and progress in Congress and in state governments in 2011 polling, with Republicans receiving far higher disapproval ratings, from all demographics, than Democrats.  That suggests to me that the Republican party is fracturing, with the minority being in the driver seat of policy, but the majority of the right not in agreement with their efforts.  This would parallel the drop off in GOP territory support in Wisconsin, which included support in the recall elections for Democratic candidates FROM Republicans, including Republicans who had voted that way in 2010.  If this long term trend, as noted by Gallup continues, it will be an interesting backdrop to current and future trends in politics.  I'm already noticing that Governors, like Ohio Governor Kasich, are beginning to back down from their union busting agenda, which was a significant right wing overreach in the first place.  Kasich who was incredibly belligerant and intransigent to compromise before is now begging for it over HS5.

The story is in the numbers; high voter turn out, high voter participation and awareness, tends to trend in the favor of Democrats, not Republicans.  To the extent that these trends hold through the remainder of 2011 and into 2012, it argues against the success of the farther right wing candidates to win the next presidential election, and argues against Republicans holding much less expanding their gains made in 2010.  If we are seeing such large turnout in off season, never mind off-year elections, it suggests strongly there will be a larger turnout in 2012 over the turnout in 2008, even in spite of the right wing attempts to pass voter suprressing legislation.

The other story from the Wisconsin recall elections that will prove prophetic for the 2012 elections was the role that outside, special interest group money played in the elections.  One of the more articulate statements came from Mike McCabe of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign (a nonpartisan group), in a Ch. 2 WBAY interview with Matt Smith:
In 2010 there were 116 legislative races. According to the nonpartisan Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, $17.5 million dollars was spent on all of these races.

For these nine Senate recall elections this summer, the amount reported so far is $37 million spent by the campaigns and interest groups -- more than double those 116 races last year -- according to the non-partisan Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.

"When you have interest groups doing most of the talking, they take the campaign down into the gutter. If a candidate runs a really despicable ad, that candidate risks a backlash from voters, but these interest groups aren't on the ballot, voters can't punish them in any way; they don't risk backlash," Mike McCabe, director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, said.
All of which suggests we can expect more dirty politics, less accountability, less transparency, and a lot more money spent by special interest groups in the elections ahead.  And you can bet that the biggest losers will be the voters, and the truth.

Monday, August 15, 2011

2012 GOP Candidates: the Hate and the Extremism of the Right

Recently, companies like Microsoft, Wells Fargo, REI, Apple, BBC America, TOMS shoes, and Delta Airlines have terminated their relationship with a religious group that is right leaning, the Christan Values Shopping Network, specifically because of the relationship with five groups identified as hate groups because of their advocacy of discrimination, and in some cases even violence towards LGBT individuals and for their anti-women positions:
Focus on the Family
Family Research Council
Summit Ministries
Abiding Truth Ministries
Liberty Council
As an example of their offensive positions, groups like the Family Research Council employ people to do their research and form their official positions, who openly advocate for the deportation and/or imprisonment of all gay and lesbian individuals.  The list of corporations which are denouncing CVN, and ending their business relationship with the group continues to expand. 

A former presidential candidate, now Fox pseudo'News' personality, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee is also employed as a spokesman and advisor for CVN; Huckabee incorrectly equates same sex sexual orientation with bestiality, necrophilia and pedophilia.  Michele Bachmann makes similar ludicrous claims, statements she is trying to backpedal away from, now that she needs to be more centrist to appeal to mainstream voters:

Founders of CVN are right wing sort-of-celebrity Michael Lohan, noted among other things for his alcohol and drug use and his appearance on reality television in rehab, and minor celebrity Stephen Baldwin, noted extreme evangelical, and for advocating the debunked reparative 'pray away the gay' therapy, are the founders of CVN.  Reparative therapy is discredited by all of the professional and medical associations in the U.S., and it is has a causal relationship not only to failed efforts to alter sexual orientation, but also for resulting in dramatic increases in suicide rates for those subjected to it.

There have been multiple reports, including most recently undercover video of the practice of reparative therapy, that link the clinic owned by Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and her husband Marcus, where religion is promoted as therapy in spite of it violating professional standards for therapy.  In addition, the Bachmann's promote the sale in the lobby of their clinic of a book written by a quasi religious quack who advocates for similar sexual reorientation, with personal endorsements by them. 

Both Bachmann's are on record as having made extreme religious based anti-homosexual statements, and in the case of Michele Bachmann, have also advocated racist views about slavery and religion.  Michele Bachmann is closely linked to the fraudulent religion exploiter, sleazy Bradlee Dean, who has similarly expressed repellent and extremist views on topics relating to false claims about the U.S. constitution; the dangers of homosexuality, including false and inaccurate claims about pedophilia and sexual predators (see video below, about 4:20 into the video); and racist comments which resulted in Dean losing his radio show on a local Salem network AM station, WWTC. 

In fact, the link between homosexuality and child predators that Dean claims does not exist.  I would encourage Penigma readers to read the entirety of the web site's content, but examples of the pertinent information  is cited below, from the UCDavis website, Facts About Homosexuality and Child Molestation:
"For the present discussion, the important point is that many child molesters cannot be Members of disliked minority groups are often stereotyped as representing a danger to the majority's most vulnerable members. For example, Jews in the Middle Ages were accused of murdering Christian babies in ritual sacrifices. Black men in the United States were often lynched after being falsely accused of raping White women. In a similar fashion, gay people have often been portrayed as a threat to children....  It has also been raised in connection with scandals about the Catholic church's attempts to cover up the abuse of young males by priests.... [Child molesters] Instead of gender, their sexual attractions are based primarily on age. These individuals – who are often characterized as fixated – are attracted to children, not to men or women. ...Other researchers have taken different approaches, but have similarly failed to find a connection between homosexuality and child molestation. ....The researchers found that homosexual males responded no more to male children than heterosexual males responded to female children (Freund et al., 1989).
and in summing up the conclusions of existing research:
"Science cannot prove a negative. Thus, these studies do not prove that homosexual or bisexual males are no more likely than heterosexual males to molest children. However, each of them failed to prove the alternative hypothesis that homosexual males are more likely than heterosexual men to molest children or to be sexually attracted to children or adolescents."

Dean, whose accomplishments are minimal, has parlayed his fraudulent collections for a street ministry, into personal luxury, including a home valued at just under a half a million dollars, by making fraudulent representations about that ministry, including soliciting donations under a false name and promoting materials that are bogus and offensive to normal, mainstream, intelligent and informed people.

Texas Governor and now declared 2012 Presidential candidate Rick Perry recently hosted a much-ballyhooed, little attended prayer event.  That "Response" event invited the governor's of the other 49 states to participate, which suggests a questionable division of church and state - they all appear to have declined.  Looking at the participants in hosting the "Response", I couldn't find any NORMAL, NOT EXTREME / mainstream group involved in hosting this event.

The event itself was sponsored by the American Family Association; here is a list of some of the offensive positions promoted by that group, from Right Wing Watch ( I could have provided my own, but they appear to have been so well-researched and comprehensive, that I refer readers to them; I could not do better myself.):
The American Family Association
The American Family Association is the driving force behind The Response. Founded by the Rev. Don Wildmon in 1977, the organization is based is best known for its various boycott campaigns, promotion of art censorship, and political advocacy against women’s rights and LGBT equality. The organization also controls the vast American Family Radio and an online news service, in addition to sponsoring various conferences frequented by Republican leaders, including the Values Voter Summit and Rediscovering God in America. The AFA today is led by Tim Wildmon, Don’s son, and its chief spokesperson is Bryan Fischer, the Director of Issues Analysis for Government and Public Policy and host of its flagship radio show Focal Point.
Fischer routinely expresses support for some of the most bigoted and shocking ideas found in the Religious Right today. He has:
•held gays responsible for the Holocaust and likened them to domestic terrorists and Nazis who are intent on committing “virtual genocide” against the military, and asserts that “homosexuals should be disqualified from public office”;•said “we have feminized the Medal of Honor” by awarding it to a soldier who saved his fellow combatants rather than killing enemies;
•demanded all immigrants “convert to Christianity” and renounce their religions;
•asserted that Muslims have “no fundamental First Amendment claims” and should be banned from building mosques and deported from the US, adding that Muslims are inherently stupid as a result of inbreeding;
•claimed African American women “rut like rabbits” due to welfare and that Native Americans are “morally disqualified” from living in America because they didn’t convert to Christianity and were consequently cursed by God with alcoholism and poverty;
•said that the anti-Muslim manifesto of the right-wing Christian terrorist who killed dozens in Norway was “accurate.”
Other AFA leaders and activists are just as radical:
•AFA President Tim Wildmon claims that by repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell President Obama shows he “doesn’t give a rip about the Marines or the Army” and “just wants to force homosexuality into every place that he can.”
•AFA Vice President Buddy Smith, who is on the leadership council of The Response, said that gays and lesbians are “in the clasp of Satan.”
•The head of the AFA’s women’s group led a boycott against Glee because she accused it of indoctrinating children in homosexuality and idolatry.The editor of AFA Journal Ed Vitagliano said that gay pride months are an affront to the Founding Fathers and will usher in “a return to pagan sexuality.”
•A columnist for the AFA demanded Christians stop practicing yoga because it was inspired by the “evil” religions of Buddhism and Hinduism.
International House of Prayer (not to be confused with the pancake people)
The Response’s leadership team includes five senior staff members of the International House of Prayer (IHOP), a large, highly political Pentecostal organization built on preparing participants for the return of Jesus Christ. In a recent video, IHOP encouraged supporters to pray for Jews to convert to Christianity in order to bring about the Second Coming. IHOP is closely associated with Lou Engle, a Religious Right leader whose anti-gay, anti-choice extremism hasn’t stopped him from hobnobbing with Republican leaders including Newt Gingrich, Michele Bachmann and Mike Huckabee. Engle is the founder of The Call, day-long rallies against abortion rights and gay marriage, which Engle says are meant to break Satan’s control over the U.S. government. One recent Call event featured “prophet” Cindy Jacobs calling for repentance for the “girl-on-girl kissing” of Britney Spears and Madonna. Perry's The Response event is clearly built upon Engle's The Call model.
Engle has a long history of pushing extreme right-wing views and advocating for a conservative theocracy in America.
•is a proponent of “Seven Mountains” dominionism, a movement that seeks to have Christians take control of all aspects of American life, including government, business, entertainment and the media;supports the criminalization of homosexuality;
•claimed that universities with LGBT anti-discrimination measures are teaching students to “accept the mark of the beast”;
•is waging a “spiritual war” on the Supreme Court to get abortion outlawed in America;
•prayed that Ellen Degeneres will be “converted” from homosexuality.
•led a prayer rally in Jerusalem to lead one of the "greatest awakenings in the earth" to bring the Jews of Israel to Christianity.
•claimed that the devastating tornado in Joplin, Missouri was God’s judgment for abortion.
IHOP’s founder and executive director, Mike Bickle, who is an official endorser of The Response, like Engle pushes radical End Times prophesies. In one sermon, he declared that Oprah Winfrey is a precursor to the Antichrist.
Tony Perkins
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, is a co-chairman of The Response. At the FRC, Perkins has been a vocal opponent of LGBT equality, often relying on false claims about gay people to push his agenda.
•called gay rights activists “intolerant,” “hateful,” “vile,” “spiteful” and “pawns” of Satan;
•denied that there was a correlation between anti-gay bullying and depression and suicide, saying instead that gay and lesbian teens know they are “abnormal” and “have a higher propensity to depression or suicide because of that internal conflict";
•wrote that Senators would have "the blood of innocent soldiers on their hands" if they vote to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell and allow gays to serve openly in the military;
•likened President Obama to a Middle East dictator when the president refused to defend the unconstitutional Defense of Marriage Act in court;
•said “I don’t know if the country can survive” another Obama term;
•said that armies that allow gays and lesbians to serve openly – including several U.S. allies in Iraq and Afghanistan –“participate in parades, they don’t fight wars to keep the world free.”
Jim Garlow
One of the most prominent members of The Response’s leadership team is pastor Jim Garlow. The pastor for a San Diego megachurch, Garlow has been intimately involved in political battles, especially the campaign to pass Proposition 8. Garlow invited and housed Lou Engle to lead The Call rallies around California for six months to sway voters to support Proposition 8, which would repeal the right of gay and lesbian couples to get married. He claims Satan is behind the “attack on marriage” and credits the prayer rallies for the passage of Prop 8. He said that during a massive The Call rally in San Diego’s Qualcomm Stadium “something had snapped in the Heavenlies” and “God had moved” to deliver Prop 8 to victory.
Most importantly, Garlow is a close spiritual adviser to presidential candidate Newt Gingrich and leads Gingrich’s Renewing American Leadership (ReAL). Garlow is a principal advocate of Seven Mountains Dominionism, and wants to “bring armies of people” to bring Religious Right leaders into public office and defeat their political opponents.
Garlow has a long record of extreme rhetoric.
•when Prop 8 passed in California, claimed that African Americans “saved us from the bondage and enslavement that would come upon us if gay marriage actually passed in a state” and alleged marriage equality supporters are going to “totally destroy the definition of the family”;
•likened homosexuality to bestiality, saying that if marriage equality is upheld “the next court case could conceivably say that if three people wanted to marry or four people or five people or if someone wanted to marry their dog or their horse”;
•compared gay adoption to children losing their parents in the September 11th attacks and said that supporters of gay rights are “almost like an Antichrist spirit”;
•told conservative activists that “your land has cancer” and believes that the “lethal ideological ‘radiation’” of progressives “is killing our nation” and “poisoning us and our children”;
•argued that legal abortion is responsible for unemployment.
John Hagee
While Senator John McCain rejected John Hagee’s endorsement during the 2008 presidential campaign for his “deeply offensive and indefensible” remarks, Perry invited Hagee to join The Response. Hagee leads a megachurch in San Antonio, Texas, and is a purveyor of End Times prophesies. Like members of the International House of Prayer, Hagee utilizes language of spiritual warfare and says he is part of “the army of the living God.” He runs the prominent group Christians United For Israel, which believes that eventually a cataclysmic war in the Middle East will bring about the Rapture.
John McCain was forced to disavow Hagee for a reason as the Texas pastor:
•claimed that God sent Hitler to be a “hunter” of Jews to usher in the establishment of Israel and “do God’s work,” lamenting that Jews are no longer “spiritually alive.”
•referred to the Catholic Church as ‘The Great Whore,’ an ‘apostate church,’ the ‘anti-Christ,’ and a ‘false cult system.’
•believes that Hurricane Katrina “looked like the curse of God” and ravaged New Orleans in order to stop a “homosexual rally” and punish the city’s high “level of sin.”
•said that if gay marriage becomes legal “you can kiss this country goodbye,” alleged that the US is “rebirthing Sodom and Gomorrah,” and demanded that the government stop funding AIDS research and treatment to stop benefiting a “sinful lifestyle.”
•demands that “wives submit yourselves to your husbands” and said that the “husband has a God-given role as leader of your home.”
•said that God won’t allow the United States to win wars anymore because “we have allowed the worship of Satanism in the U.S. military.”
James Dobson
James Dobson, an official endorser of The Response, is one of the most prominent figures in the Religious Right. Founder of both Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council , Dobson has been instrumental in bringing the priorities of the Religious Right to Republican politics, including campaigning hard for President George W. Bush. But many of the views that Dobson pushes are hardly mainstream.
•is no fan of the women’s movement, writing that women are just “waiting for their husbands to assume leadership” ;
•claims that marriage equality will “destroy the Earth”;
•insists that the Religious Right’s fight against Planned Parenthood is “very similar” to that of abolitionists who fought against the slave trade.
•Asked if God had withdrawn his hand from America after 9/11, Dobson responded:
“Christians have made arguments on both sides of this question. I certainly believe that God is displeased with America for its pride and arrogance, for killing 40 million unborn babies, for the universality of profanity and for other forms of immorality. However, rather than trying to forge a direct cause-and-effect relationship between the terrorist attacks and America's abandonment of biblical principles, which I think is wrong, we need to accept the truth that this nation will suffer in many ways for departing from the principles of righteousness. "The wages of sin is death," as it says in Romans 6, both for individuals and for entire cultures.”
David Barton, an official endorser of The Response, is a self-proclaimed historian known for his twisting of American History and the Bible to justify right-wing political positions. Barton’s strategy is twofold: he first works to find Biblical bases for right-wing policy initiatives, and then argues that the Founding Fathers wanted the United States to be a Christian nation, so obviously wanted whatever policy he has just found a flimsy Biblical basis for. Barton, “documenting” the divine origins of his interpretations of the Constitution gives him and his political allies a potent weapon. Opponents who disagree about tax policy or the powers of Congress are not only wrong, they are un-American and anti-religious, enemies of America and of God

David Barton.
Barton uses his shoddy historical and biblical scholarship to push a right-wing political agenda, including:
•Biblical Capitalism: Barton’s “scholarship” helps to form the basis for far-right economic policies. He claims that “Jesus was against the minimum wage,” that the Bible “absolutely condemned” the estate tax,” and opposed the progressive income tax.
•Revising Racial History: Barton has traveled the country peddling a documentary he made blaming the Democratic Party for slavery, lynching and Jim Crow…while ignoring more recent history.
•Opposing Gay Rights: Barton believes the government should regulate gay sex and maintains that countries which “rejected sexual regulation” inevitably collapse.
I continue to be amazed at the talent of the right to make large amounts of money that goes fully or in part, to line their personal pockets, off the base constituencies to whom they appeal. I continue to be appalled at the lies, disinformation, and misinformation that consistently is promoted by the right, including every serious contender for the Republican presidential nomination and the religious leaders and base which supports them.
Other AlliesAmong the other far-right figures who signed on to work with Gov. Perry on The Response are:
•Rob Schenk, an anti-choice extremist who was once arrested for throwing a fetus in the face of President Clinton, and who allegedly had ties with the murderer of abortion provider Dr. Barnett Slepian
•Loren Cunningham, who is working to mobilize support for the rally is a co-founder of the radical “Seven Mountains Dominionist” ideology. Cunningham says that he received the “seven mountains” idea, which holds that evangelical Christians must take hold of all aspects of society in order to pave the way for the Second Coming, in a message directly from God.
•Doug Stringer, The Response's National Church and Ministry Mobilization Coordinator, who blamed American secularism and the increased acceptance of homosexuality for the 9/11 attacks, saying “It was our choice to ask God not to be in our every day lives and not to be present in our land.”
•Cindy Jacobs, self-proclaimed “prophet” and endorser of The Response, who famously insisted that birds were dying in Arkansas earlier this year because of the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
•C. Peter Wagner, an official endorser of The Response, is one of the most prominent leaders of the New Apostolic Reformation, a controversial movement whose followers believe they are prophets and apostles on par with Christ himself (other adherents include Engle, Jacobs and Anh). Wagner has advocated burning Catholic, Mormon and non-Christian religious objects. He blamed the Japanese stock market crash and later the devastating earthquake and tsunami in the country on a traditional ritual in which the emperor supposedly has “sexual intercourse” with the pagan Sun Goddess.
•Che Ahn, a mentor of John Hagee and official endorser of The Response, who endorses “Seven Mountains” dominionism and compares the fight against gay rights to the fight against slavery.
•John Benefiel, a self-proclaimed "apostle" and official endorser of The Response, who claims the Statue of Liberty is a "demonic idol" and that homosexuality is a plot cooked up by the Illuminati to control the world's population, and that he renamed the District of Columbia the “District of Christ” because he has “more authority than the U.S. Congress does.”
•James “Jay” Swallow, official endorser of the rally, who calls himself a “spiritual warrior” and hosts “Strategic Warriors At Training (SWAT): A Christian Military Training Camp for the purpose of dealing with the occult and territorial enemy strong holds in America.”
•Alice Smith, who advocates "spiritual housecleaning" because demons "sneak into" homes through everyday objects.
•Willie Wooten, a self-proclaimed “apostle” who claims that God is punishing the African American community for supporting gay rights, reproductive freedom and the Democratic Party.
•Pastor Stephen Broden – Broden, an endorser of The Response, has repeatedly insisted that a violent overthrow of the U.S. government must remain “on the table.”
•Timothy F. Johnson – Johnson, a former vice-chairman of the North Carolina GOP, was elected to that post despite two domestic violence convictions and still unresolved questions about his military service and educational record.
•Alice Patterson – Patterson, a member of The Response's leadership team, insists that the Democratic Party is controlled by a "demonic structure."
These Hate Zealots hiding under cover of religion and right wing politics do incalcuable harm to this country, and to specific groups of people. Their words are the justification for violence and hatred. From the FBI website on hate crimes: Definition:"..., Congress has defined a hate crime as a 'criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or n part by an offender's bias against a race, religion, disability, ethnic origin or sexual orientation.'  Hate itself is not a crime—and the FBI is mindful of protecting freedom of speech and other civil liberties."
From an MSN/AP article in 2009:
Crimes motivated by race

Half of all hate crimes are motivated by race, according to the FBI. One out of every five is driven by religious bias, and one out of every six is based on sexual orientation bias.
Hate crimes in every other category, OTHER than sexual orientation (real or perceived) and religion have trended downwards, although that trend is minimal for racially based hate crimes.  Crimes based on sexual orientation have increased, and one factor for that is the hate, fear and misinformation promoted by the right, especially the so-called 'religious right'. Another category for hate crimes is immigrant status, or perceived immigrant status, another topic for hysteria rather than reason and fact. 

The right dislikes having what they characterize as fringe groups included in their mainstream, but the bottom line is that the people they are considering as presidential candidates, this election, and the last election, largely fit that description.  We cannot afford to run, much less elect, candidates for the highest office in this country who believe these views, who listen to these people, who rely on their support, and who want to impose this hateful, horrible mindset on our country.  This is not about politics; it is about sanity opposing insanity, it is about moderate centrists opposing extremists.

This is about reality based Americans opposing the demented fear and fantasy driven ideologues.