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8384NEWS -- 2014.01.01.Wednesday -- Happy New Year

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  • James Martin
    Jan 1, 2014
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      New Year's Day, Wednesday 01 January 2014, 13:40 in the afternoon
      Watch last year in review today at www.democracynow.org.
       
      1) 2014: Seize the Moment
      2) One-third of Americans reject evolution, poll shows
      3) Parking Meters and Prisons: Top Six Privatization Horror Stories
      4) Republicans Declare War on Themselves
      5) 'Duck' son Robertson makes nice in Fox interview
       
       
      1)

      2014: Seize the Moment

      By Sen. Bernie Sanders, Reader Supported News

      30 December 2013

      The Congress has just ended one of the worst and least productive sessions in the history of our country. At a time when the problems facing us are monumental, Congress is dysfunctional and more and more people (especially the young) are, understandably, giving up on the political process. The people are hurting. They look to Washington for help. Nothing is happening.

      In my view, the main cause of congressional dysfunction is an extreme right-wing Republican party whose main goal is to protect the wealthy and powerful. There is no tax break for the rich or large corporations that they don't like. There is no program which protects working families -- Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, affordable housing, etc. -- that they don't want to cut.

      But the Democrats (with whom I caucus as an Independent) are most certainly not without fault. In the Senate, they have tolerated Republican obstructionism for much too long and allowed major legislation to fail for lack of 60 votes. They have failed to bring forth a strong and consistent agenda which addresses the economic crises facing the vast majority of our struggling population, and have not rallied the people in support of that agenda.

      As we survey our country at the end of 2013, I don't have to tell you about the crises we face. Many of you are experiencing them every day.

      • The middle class continues to decline, with median family income some $5,000 less than in 1999.
      • More Americans, 46.5 million, are now living in poverty than at any time in our nation's history. Child poverty, at 22 percent, is the highest of any major country.
      • Real unemployment is not 7 percent. If one includes those who have given up looking for work and those who want full-time work but are employed part-time, real unemployment is over 13 percent - and youth unemployment is much higher than that.
      • Most of the new jobs that are being created are part-time and low wage, but the minimum wage remains at the starvation level of $7.25 per hour.
      • Millions of college students are leaving school deeply in debt, while many others have given up on their dream of a higher education because of the cost.
      • Meanwhile, as tens of millions of Americans struggle to survive economically, the wealthiest people are doing phenomenally well and corporate profits are at an all-time high. In fact, wealth and income inequality today is greater than at any time since just before the Great Depression. One family, the Walton family with its Wal-Mart fortune, now owns more wealth than the bottom 40 percent of Americans. In recent years, 95 percent of all new income has gone to the top 1 percent.
      • The scientific community has been very clear: Global warming is real, it is already causing massive problems and, if we don't significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the planet we leave to our kids and grandchildren will be less and less habitable.

      Clearly, if we are going to save the middle class and protect our planet, we need to change the political dynamics of the nation. We can no longer allow the billionaires and their think tanks or the corporate media to set the agenda. We need to educate, organize and mobilize the working families of our country to stand up for their rights. We need to make government work for all the people, not just the 1 percent.

      When Congress reconvenes for the 2014 session, here are a few of the issues that I will focus on. (By the way, I'd love to hear from you as to what your priorities are).

      WEALTH AND INCOME INEQUALITY: A nation will not survive morally or economically when so few have so much, while so many have so little. It is simply not acceptable that the top 1 percent owns 38 percent of the financial wealth of the nation, while the bottom 60 percent owns all of 2.3 percent. We need to establish a progressive tax system which asks the wealthy to start paying their fair share of taxes, and which ends the outrageous loopholes that enable one out of four corporations to pay nothing in federal taxes.

      JOBS: We need to make significant investments in our crumbling infrastructure, in energy efficiency and sustainable energy, in early childhood education and in affordable housing. When we do that, we not only improve the quality of life in our country and combat global warming, we also create millions of decent-paying new jobs.

      WAGES: We need to raise the minimum wage to a living wage. We should pass the legislation, which will soon be on the Senate floor, to increase the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour, but we must raise that minimum wage even higher in the coming years. We also need to expand our efforts at worker-ownership. Employees will not be sending their jobs to China or Vietnam when they own the places in which they work.

      RETIREMENT SECURITY: At a time when only one in five workers in the private sector have a defined benefit pension plan; half of Americans have less than $10,000 in savings; and two-thirds of seniors rely on Social Security for more than half of their income, we must expand and protect Social Security so that every American can retire with dignity.

      WALL STREET: During the financial crisis, huge Wall Street banks received more than $700 billion in financial aid from the Treasury Department and more than $16 trillion from the Federal Reserve because they were "too big to fail." Yet today, the largest banks in this country are much bigger than they were before taxpayers bailed them out. It's time to break up these behemoths so that they cannot cause another recession that could wreck the global economy.

      CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM: We are not living in a real democracy when large corporations and a handful of billionaire families can spend unlimited sums of money to elect or defeat candidates. We must expand our efforts to overturn the disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision and move this country to public funding of elections.

      SOCIAL JUSTICE: While we have made progress in recent years in expanding the rights of minorities, women and gays, these advances are under constant attack from the right-wing. If the United States is to become the non-discriminatory society we want it to be, we must fight to protect the rights of all Americans.

      CIVIL LIBERTIES: Frankly, the National Security Agency and other intelligence agencies are out of control. We cannot talk about America as a "free country" when the government is collecting information on virtually every phone call we make, when it is intercepting our emails and monitoring the websites we visit. Clearly, we need to protect this country from terrorism, but we must do it in a way that does not undermine the Constitution.

      WAR AND PEACE: With a large deficit and enormous unmet needs, it is absurd that the United States continues to spend almost as much on defense as the rest of the world combined. The U.S. must be a leader in the world in nuclear disarmament and efforts toward peace, not in the sale of weapons of destruction.

      This is a tough and historical moment in American history. Despair is not an option. We must stand together as brothers and sisters and fight for the America our people deserve.

       
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      2)
       

      One-third of Americans reject evolution, poll shows

       
      By Chris Francescani, Monday 30 December 2013

      By Chris Francescani

      NEW YORK (Reuters) - One-third of Americans reject the idea of evolution and Republicans have grown more skeptical about it, according to a poll released on Monday.

      Sixty percent of Americans say that "humans and other living things have evolved over time," the telephone survey by the Pew Research Center's Religion and Public Life Project showed (Click http://www.pewforum.org/2013/12/30/publics-views-on-human-evolution/ for the full survey).

      But 33 percent reject the idea of evolution, saying that "humans and other living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time," Pew said in a statement.

      Although this percentage remained steady since 2009, the last time Pew asked the question, there was a growing partisan gap on whether humans evolved.

      "The gap is coming from the Republicans, where fewer are now saying that humans have evolved over time," said Cary Funk, a Pew senior researcher who conducted the analysis.

      The poll showed 43 percent of Republicans and 67 percent of Democrats say humans have evolved over time, compared with 54 percent and 64 percent respectively four years ago.

      Among religious groups, white evangelical Protestants topped the list of those rejecting evolution, with 64 percent of those polled saying they believe humans have existed in their present form since the beginning of time.

      "This has been a staple of evangelical Protestantism for nearly 100 years," said Alan Lichtman, an American University history professor and author of "White Protestant Nation: The Rise of the American Conservative Movement."

      A quarter of those surveyed told Pew that "a supreme being guided the evolution of living things."

      The survey of 1,983 adults in all 50 states was conducted from March 21 to April 8. The margin of error was 3 percentage points, meaning results could vary that much either way.

      (The penultimate paragraph of this story has been corrected to say that one-fourth of all surveyed believe a supreme being guided evolution.)

      (Reporting By Chris Francescani; Editing by Ian Simpson and Jonathan Oatis)

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      3)

      Parking Meters and Prisons: Top Six Privatization Horror Stories

      By Laura Clawson, Daily Kos

      30 December 2013

       Selling public resources to private companies for them to profit off of is a hot trend in cities and states-not all of them controlled by Republicans, either. Privatization deals affecting everything from parking meters to child welfare to public water systems are often negotiated in secret, carried out with little oversight, and subject to massive cost overruns and corruption.

      The sordid story of Chicago's parking meters has to be a top entry in any "worst privatization stories" competition. Rick Perlstein laid out the ugly details in The Nation a couple months back:

      Mayor Richard M. Daley in 2008 struck a deal with the investment consortium Chicago Parking Meters LLC, or CPM, that included Morgan Stanley, Allianz Capital Partners and, yes, the Sovereign Wealth Fund of Abu Dhabi, to privatize our meters. The price of parking-and the intensity of enforcement-skyrocketed. The terms were negotiated in secret. City Council members got two days to study the billion-dollar, seventy-five-year contract before signing off on it. An early estimate from the Chicago inspector general was that the city had sold off its property for about half of what it was worth. Then an alderman said it was worth about four times what the city had been paid. Finally, in 2010, Forbes reported that in fact the city had been underpaid by a factor of ten. [...]

      Not only does CPM get the money its meters hoover up from the fine upstanding citizens of Chicago. It gets money even if the meters are not used. Each meter has been assigned a "fair market valuation." If the City takes what is called a "reserve power adverse action"-that can mean anything from removing a meter because it impedes traffic flow, shutting down a street for a block party or discouraging traffic from coming into the city during rush hour-"CPM has the right to trigger an immediate payment for the entire loss of the meter's fair market value over the entire life of the seventy-five-year agreement."

      Shut down one meter that the market-valuation says makes twenty-two bucks a day, in other words, and the City of Chicago has to fork over a check for $351,000-six days a week ... fifty-two weeks in a year, times seventy-five-within thirty days. Very easily, Geoghegan points out, a single shut-down of parking in a chunk of the city-say, for something like a NATO summit Chicago hosted last year-"could be more than the original purchase price of the deal."

      But Chicago is far from the only place where a private company controls the roads or has an outsized impact on what once were and should be public functions, often at great taxpayer expense. From South Carolina to Indiana to Colorado to California, come below the fold for details on six more of the most outrageous privatization stories.

      In the Public Interest has assembled a list of more than 20 privatization horror stories. These are my top five (besides the Chicago parking meters), but you may want to take a look at the report-after all, I'm leaving a nun with cancer being kicked off of food stamps off my top five list.

      Mismanagement, tax evasion, and defying oversight:

      Recently in South Carolina, the Jenkinsville Water Company failed to pay state employee payroll taxes, lost millions of gallons of water, and could not account for tens of thousands of dollars. Concerned about mismanagement of funds, residents and journalists submitted open records requests to the company seeking copies of financial records, including audited financial statements and budgets. The company refused to comply.

      State Senator Creighton Coleman (D-Fairfield) sought an opinion from South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson to determine whether the company was bound by the state's open records laws. The Attorney General's office stated that the Jenkinsville Water Company had to disclose the records. But even after the opinion was issued, the company refused to hand over documents, leading to a lawsuit filed by The Independent Herald newspaper.

      Children were being abused ... but it took three years of financial mismanagement and failure to pay taxes for the contract to stop being renewed:

      Los Angeles County continued to annually renew a foster care services contract with an outfit called Wings of Refuge. Despite the aspirational name, multiple reports surfaced of children placed in homes where they experienced severe abuse, including cases in which children were beaten and locked in their rooms for days. For years Los Angeles County's Department of Children and Family Services renewed the company's $3 million annual contract, making it one of the largest private foster care providers in the county, responsible for thousands of vulnerable children.

      The county only canceled its contract after the contractor failed to file required financial forms for three years, had accumulated $458,000 in delinquent payroll taxes and was more than $2 million dollars in debt, according to licensing records.

      Shades of Chicago:

      A corporate consortium led by Portugal-based Brisa Auto-Estradas holds a 99 year contract to operate the Northwest Parkway in Denver, Colorado. In 2008, the consortium objected to improvements to a free local road near the parkway, citing contract language that prevented such improvements on city-owned and maintained roads that "might hurt the parkway financially" by providing an alternative route for travelers, thus potentially reducing toll revenue.

      Specifically, the contract included a section stating that construction of a "competing transportation facility" would entitle the toll-road operator compensation from the government. Even as residents' needs and travel patterns change, the city will be unable to make improvements on "competing" free public roads for the next 99 years.

      And more shades of Chicago, with costs to public safety as an added benefit:

      In 2006, Indiana leased its toll road to a conglomeration of companies, including transportation infrastructure giant Macquarie and Spain-based Cintra. In 2008, Gov. Mitch Daniels declared an emergency during a massive flood and waived tolls for motorists escaping the affected areas. Because the contract contained a compensation clause, state taxpayers were required to pay the privatized toll road operator $447,000 for the cost of those waived tolls.74 The company prioritized profit over safety again when it did not allow Indiana state troopers to close the toll road during a snowstorm, claiming it was a private road.

      States should not be entering contracts promising they'll put more people in prison or pay for the failure, can we agree?

      A recent study by In the Public Interest found that 65% of state and local for-profit prison contacts studied include quotas, which require state and local governments to maintain a high occupancy level in private facilities. These clauses incentivize keeping prison beds filled, which run counter to many states' public policy goals of reducing the prison population and increasing efforts for inmate rehabilitation.

      In 2012, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the largest private prison company in the country, sent a letter to 48 state governors offering to buy up their public prisons. CCA offered to buy and operate a state's prison in exchange for a 20 year contract, which would include a 90% quota for the entire term or a requirement that taxpayers pay for unused beds. While no state took CCA up on its offer, many existing prison privatization contracts contain such occupancy guarantees, with some as high as 100%.

      Strikingly, some cities and states have put privatization up to actual competitive bidding-and found that proposals from their own workers brought the best service and biggest savings. That's why transparency, oversight, and accountability are among In the Public Interest's top recommendations to "promote responsible contracting." Taxpayers should know how much is being spent on contracts with private companies, know how much money the parking meters and roads being contracted out are worth, be allowed to look at the records of companies running public services just as they can look at government records, and have confidence that if the contract turns out not to be in the taxpayers' best interests, it can be canceled.

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      My comment ---
      Last night I had conversation with a Fox news admirer.  He was going on about how the "government" can't run anything properly and it's all Obama's fault.  I pointed out that the "government" sure knows how to run a "private" business when it wants to.  The NEA, for example.
       
      Conversation ended.  I don't know why.
       
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      4)

      Republicans Declare War on Themselves

      By Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone

      31 December 2013

      The holidays are a great time in politics. Every year it's the same: the minute the last bits of wrapping paper have been cleared away, and Grandpa has passed his last puff of holiday gas, you can always retreat to the inside pages of the news section and find some embarrassing/despicable PR fiasco that some politician somewhere has just tried to sneak past vacationing America.

      This year was no different. In a fitting homage to past holiday-season embarrassments like the Iran-Contra pardons or Bill Clinton's signing of the Commodity Futures Modernization Act, the Republican Party last week quietly declared war on itself, in the process essentially confessing to a generation of failed governance and dumbed-down politics.

      The news came in the Wall Street Journal, where the Chamber of Commerce disclosed that it will be teaming up with Republican establishment leaders to spend $50 million in an effort to stem the tide of "fools" who have overwhelmed Republican ballots in recent seasons. Check out the language Chamber strategist Scott Reed used in announcing the new campaign:

      Our No. 1 focus is to make sure, when it comes to the Senate, that we have no loser candidates… That will be our mantra: No fools on our ticket.

      The blunt choice of words is no accident. All year long, as they've crept closer and closer to having to face the reality of a Ted Cruz presidential candidacy in 2016 (with Cruz maybe picking recently-redeemed Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson as his more moderate running mate?), the Beltway's Republican kingmakers have drifted into ever more alarmist language about the need to change course.

      It's been a transparent effort to reassure industry donors that the party's future isn't a bottomless pit of brainless Bachmanns and Cruzes and Santorums, all convinced our Harvard-educated president is a sleeper-cell Arab and that Satan is a literal being intent on conquering Nebraska with U.N. troops.

      Earlier this month, for instance, former House Majority Leader and cause-betraying Tea Party progenitor Dick Armey complained that Republicans have been getting whipped at the polls because "we had a lot of candidates quite frankly that did dumb things out there." And way back in March of last year, Karl Rove himself, speaking on behalf of his Crossroads SuperPAC, told Fox News Sunday that "our goal is to avoid having stupid candidates." Rove's group is reportedly also involved in this new $50 million effort.

      The Chamber's announcement was met with howls of outrage from Tea Party-friendly voices, who naturally took immediate offense to the prospect of boycotting "fools" from the political process.

      "Misguided," said Chris Chocola, president of the Club for Growth. "Insane," sneered conservative activist Cleta Mitchell.

      Tom Borelli, senior fellow for Armey's old FreedomWorks group, quite correctly complained that the Chamber and their Republican allies were trying to defy the conservative base by hijacking the party and keeping it in the pocket of big-money interests. "The tea party is about lowering costs," Borelli explained to Newsmax. "[The Chamber will] want regulations to favor big business."

      There's almost no end to the comedy of this story. First of all, there's the sheer size of the endowment. Fifty million dollars is enough money to fund half a dozen or more Senate campaigns. That the big-business donors who traditionally have funded the Republican Party believe they need to make that kind of monster investment just to keep "fools" from getting on the ballot of a party they basically control is an incredible reflection of the state of things on that side of the political aisle.

      Then, of course, there's the irony. Men like Karl Rove and Dick Armey practically invented the politics of stupid. In fact, they practically invented the politics of winning millions of votes every time some oversexed cosmopolitan liberal of the Matt Damon/Sean Penn genus used words like "dumb" or "stupid" to describe the preoccupations of Middle America's God-and-guns culture.

      To see these same Beltway Svengalis trapped now in this crazy role reversal, denounced by the far right for being the same kind of condescending establishment snot-bags they themselves spent decades trying to find and campaign against – well, that's just seriously funny.

      The situation with Rove is particularly delicious. This is someone who foisted upon the world the eight-year presidency of George W. Bush, a man who couldn't speak English, didn't read books or newspapers, and won his second term via the political version of an Inspector Clouseau routine, rallying middle America behind an enraged invasion of the wrong country in retaliation for 9/11.

      For a political adviser, getting a blockhead like Bush elected president not once but twice was a major accomplishment. It was the sort of thing that impresses industry insiders, the same way PR professionals genuinely admire the job Burson-Marsteller did hushing up the Bhopal disaster for Union Carbide, or whitewashing Indonesia's image after the East Timor massacre.

      As such the "Turd Blossom" was continually hailed as a kind of genius throughout the Bush presidency (even liberal pundits got in the act, although they usually called him an "evil genius"), despite the fact that nothing Karl Rove ever did was all that smart.

      Rove's sole insight as a political thinker was that if you completely dispense with the patriotic aspects of governing – you know, that whole doing-what's-right-for-the-country thing – then winning elections is no different than selling cheeseburgers or scoring high sitcom ratings. You give people what they want, and it doesn't matter if it's bad for them.

      So with George W. Bush, Rove basically gave us the political version of Married With Children, an ongoing self-parody routine where couch-potato America tuned in week after week to cheer on the nitwit hero as he and his brood took on a world of self-serious snobs and their silly "civilized" conventions (like, say, international law). It was political junk food and American voters ate it up, although the people on the business end of our endless bombings and waterboarding sessions and other atrocities were less stoked about the show.

      Still, the reason Married With Children worked is that it was an industry in-joke, a piece of camp. It was actually kind of an inspired rip on the low entertainment standards of American TV audiences, though the humor of that mostly went over their heads of a lot of the people who actually watched the show.

      From Rove's point of view, the Bush presidency was the same kind of deal. He seemed to take it for granted that political professionals everywhere understood that all of the lying about WMDs, and the shameless witch-hunting of John Kerry's war record, and the endless McCarthyist dabblings during campaign seasons (remember when, as an official White House adviser, Rove said that liberals wanted to "offer therapy and understanding to our attackers"?) were all just part of the game, just a way to get votes.

      The whole Bush presidency, in the minds of Rove and his followers, was a goof on political advisers who were so self-serious that they actually believed themselves to be shackled to the truth, the responsibility of governing, etc. Rove and his crew openly laughed at the idea that they had to be consistent, or make sense, or do the right thing. Remember their naked mocking of the "reality-based community," and the boasting about how "we create our own reality"? Who did we think they were supposed to be, boy scouts? This was Washington! They were about winning, not governing.

      What else explained an apparent atheist like Rove, who derided the evangelicals his president courted as "the nuts", being so hot to push hardcore religious policy down America's throat? (As Rove is said to have put it, "Just get me a fucking faith-based thing!") He obviously didn't take what he was doing seriously, and would later seem shocked that others did.

      We first saw this when the Republicans came out in the summer of 2008 and picked as John McCain's running mate an Alaskan Bible-thumper named Sarah Palin, one of the few potential candidates in the Republican Party rolls even dumber than George Bush.

      Rove, by then just a media commentator, was apparently mortified that political "reality-making" machine he'd built was pushing things too far. He immediately went on TV and blasted the choice as a "political pick" and "not a governing decision but a campaign decision."

      Though no one said anything about it at the time, the damning subtext of Rove's criticisms of Palin as a purely "political pick" and not a "governing decision" was that he, Rove, should know, because after all he'd built the entire Bush presidency using the same methodology.

      The Armey story was similar. Armey was on the ground floor with FreedomWorks, one of the back-channel big-dollar funding sources for the supposedly grassroots Tea Party movement, and his group's advocacy helped out now-reviled candidates like Ted Cruz, Todd "Legitimate Rape" Akin and Richard Mourdock of Indiana (the Einstein who said that pregnancies from rape are something "God intended to happen").

      FreedomWorks spent $40 million on such candidates in 2012, but as has been reported frequently since, only a quarter of them won, leaving donors and party leaders unimpressed with the movement's future prospects.

      After the public had a chance to see and reject the things these candidates stood for, however, Armey, like Rove, recoiled from his own politics, offering that line about his party's failure being tied to "dumb things" done by certain candidates. He added that the Republican Party bore blame, too, having not "schooled" their candidates in the art of not making indefensibly stupid statements.

      The thing is, the basic calculus of Rove-Armey politics has always involved capturing majorities with loud/angry media distractions (the Dixie Chicks hate America! John McCain has an illegitimate black child!) while on the policy side quietly spending great gobs of the taxpayer's money and sneaking through the meaningful objectives of rich industry donors in the fine print.

      They were totally contemptuous of the typical middle-class religious conservatives in their base, never really gave them anything but lip service during campaign seasons, and in the end just used them to get what they wanted once they seized office.

      For Rove, if that required handing out chestnuts like the "Faith-based thing" to the "nuts," or indulging John Ashcroft's pathological fear of marble tits, so be it – the important thing was that in the end, Cheney's energy buddies got their Clear Skies Act, the biotech donors got their Prescription Drug Benefit Act, the consumer credit vampires got their Bankruptcy Bill, and so on.

      With Armey and the Tea Party, the "movement" was about always about rallying ordinary struggling Americans behind an idealized anti-tax/deregulatory agenda that, in an amazing coincidence, also favored the super-wealthy industrialists who happened to be backing groups like FreedomWorks.

      The problem with blowing off the whole governing thing in favor of a decade-plus of cynical pandering and generally treating presidential politics like a fraternity pranking competition is that it eventually comes back to bite you.

      If you spend years letting your voters think Saddam Hussein was an agent of al-Qaeda, that passing a national health care program will result in the formation of Stalinist "death panels," or that Barack Obama is secretly a foreigner, you're going to end up with some loopy candidates prone to saying crazy things that will turn off voting majorities, which in turn will make it hard to the deliver policy objectives you actually care about for your big-money donors.

      The Republican establishment is only just figuring this out. Hence this new $50 million initiative, which according to the WSJ will involve the Chamber working with party leaders in"an aggressive effort to groom and support more centrist Republican candidates."

      But this sudden decision by the party's Washington establishment to reverse course and blame their failures on "fools" out there in the heartland is a joke. If you spend a decade treating your constituents like morons, you can't point the finger at them when your party gets a reputation for being stupid.

      You're going to make George "Is our children learning?" Bush the face of your party for eight years and then turn around and call your voters stupid? Jesus. No wonder they decided to make the move during Christmas.

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      Comments.  Lots of comments at the URL.
       
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      5)

      'Duck' son Robertson makes nice in Fox interview

      Associated Press, Wednesday 01 January 2014
       
      NEW YORK (AP) — "Duck Dynasty" star Willie Robertson chose not to quack back.

      In one of his first chances to comment on the dust-up surrounding his outspoken father and co-star Phil Robertson, the younger Robertson had only kind words for the A&E network and New Year's wishes for the nation in an appearance Tuesday night on Fox News's "All-American New Year" special.

      "We're just glad to be back to work, and A&E and us are fine," Willie Robertson said in a live appearance with wife Korie from Steamboat Springs, Colo.

      Fox hosts Bill Hemmer and Elizabeth Hasselbeck gave him several chances to address the firestorm surrounding the suspension of his father over anti-gay comments, but without quite ducking the question, Willie Robertson chose not to take the bait either.

      "We're looking forward to getting back to making some funny shows. It's a New Year so we're ready to break in a New Year and start it all over again," Robertson said. "We're ready to move on, you know. I think we all learned a lot and we're just ready to move on, and the family's happy, and we're ready to go. I've got to make sure my guys are back there building duck calls."

      Asked her thoughts on the suspension by Hasselbeck, Korie Robertson took the same conciliatory tone.

      "Hey, I'm just glad the family's all together, the best thing about the show is we get to do it as a family," she said. "We're all happy, happy, happy."

      The cable channel reinstated Phil Robertson on Friday, nine days after suspending him over the anti-gay comments made to GQ magazine.

      The suspension sparked brought out legions of defenders who felt he was being censored by the network.

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