Eight political tidbits, including sex, suicide, seniors, and a shrinking Ron Paul

Want a snapshot of America’s political landscape? Here are a few facts, some goofy, some serious, about our political life. Photo: Want to make money? Invest when a Democrat is president.

WASHINGTON, April 10, 2012 — With all the folderol that accompanies election year campaigns and who said what and to whom and what did they really mean, it sometimes fun to take time out and look at some entertaining facts and oddities about America and her people, including our politicians.

1. Calling all virginal candidates.

You had better be a virgin when you were married if you want to run for office. Or at least in one county in South Carolina, according to the Clinton Chronicle. According to the new rules in Laurens County, the GOP, sounding more like the Taliban than Republicans, now requires its Party candidates running in the June 12 legislative primary to swear they have abstained from sex before marriage.

Once they swear that to be true, then the candidates must next also swear that “You cannot now, from the moment you sign this pledge, look at pornography.” You also must swear “be faithful to your spouse. Your spouse cannot be a person of the same gender, and you are not allowed to favor any government action that would allow for civil unions of people of the same sex.”

There’s a bunch of pledges a GOP candidate must swear to, everything from loving guns to loving the United States of America. 28 pledges in all.

2. Why Social Security benefits are not so golden.

If you are one of the 55 million retired Americans, you have nothing but Social Security to get you through your “golden years.” Right now, Social Security provides 41% of the total income for those 55 million seniors.

The average monthly check beginning in 2012 is now $1,230 or $14,760 a year. The poverty level, according to www.medicareadvocacy/org, is $15,130 a year for a couple. Maybe next Grandparents Day, you should send a check instead of flowers.

3. The incredible shrinking candidate: Dr. Paul

Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) AP

Everyone who has watched the debates knows that Congressman Ron Paul (R-Texas) is not only the oldest man on stage at 76, but he is the shortest as well. Not to say that he doesn’t hold his own against the six footers looming over his 5’7”. But then slouching and being rail thin makes him look all the more diminutive.

Actually he was not always that small. When he was a young Congressman just starting out, he was lean, lanky, and six feet tall. It wasn’t all the campaigning that took its toll on his height, it was the natural aging process. Look for Mitt Romney, in the next five years, to shrink as he moves into his seventies.

4. You are more apt to kill yourself if you live in a Red state.

Don’t know what it is, but folks living in Red (meaning Republican or conservative) states are more apt to kill themselves than people in Blue (aka Democratic or liberal) states.

The states with the highest suicide rates are found in conservative Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Maine, Montana, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming.

The lowest rates are found in liberal California, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Washington D.C.

The states with the lower suicide rates are also the ones with the strictest gun laws. Nationally, 51% of suicides involve firearms. Guns don’t kill people, of course. People with guns kill people, even themselves.

5.Want to make a killing in the stock market?

President John F. Kennedy November, 1962

Here’s an easy way: Vote Democratic. That’s what an analysis by Bloomberg Government Barometer shows.

If you invested $1,000 in a hypothetical fund that tracked the S&P 500 when President Kennedy was elected in 1961 and kept it there, but only during the 23 years when a Democrat was president, you would now have $10,920.

If you had invested that same amount when President Nixon was elected in 1969 and kept it there only during the 28 years of Republican presidents, you would have ended up with a mere $2,087 on the day President George W. Bush left office.

The difference reflects the fact that seven of the eight recessions since 1960 began when Republican presidents sat in the White House.

Guess that belies the GOP myth as to which political party is good for business. 

6. The Keystone pipeline will not supply U.S. with oil.

The big selling point on the Keystone pipeline that everyone on both sides of the aisle, including union members, are so keen to build is that it will be a way to get gas prices down as we get more oil into the U.S. from our wonderful neighbor to the north, Canada.

But why would we snake a 2,000 mile pipeline through six states with the possibility of environmental consequences, taking the pipeline all the way down to Port Arthur, Texas refineries on the Gulf of Mexico? After all we have refineries in the Midwest, which is a lot closer to Canada. Why Texas?

That’s because the Texas refineries will be converting the oil not into gasoline to sell at home, but to convert into diesel and jet fuel for export to Europe, China, and Latin America. Not one drop will reduce our reliance on OPEC. Not one gallon of gas will drop in price.

Yet our Energy Secretary had the chutzpah to say: “…that having Canada as a supplier for our oil is much more comforting than to have other countries supply our oil.” Jim Hightower’s Lowdown newsletter

7. Greed is no longer good, says Gordon Gekko.

Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko Washington Times

Yep, the Michael Douglas character from the 1987 movie “Wall Street” is back, but it seems Gekko has finally learned his lesson from the Wall Street debacle. Now Gekko, the former ruthless insider trader, has a new message for a new generation of investors: Greed is not good.

Douglas agreed to make the video for the FBI as its Public Service Announcement for the Bureau’s tip line to report financial fraud.

Douglas was probably motivated to make the PSA by the reaction of the public to the insidious Gekko when the movie came out 25 years ago. In an interview with City A.M., he said: “I was always shocked when so many people who saw Wall Street said that I [Gekko] was the person who influenced them and inspired them to go into investment banking. I’d say to people, ‘Well, I was the villain’ and they would say, ‘No, no, no.’ They didn’t see me that way.”

But the video lacks the pizazz of “Wall Street,” and seems to be way too earnest. Truthfully, it is doubtful that it will be successful in weaning people off the “greed is good” credo. (See video below.)

8. Are you hard-wired to be a conservative?

It looks that way. Maybe biology is destiny no matter what. A University of Nebraska study measured how liberals and conservatives viewed a series of images, positive ones like babies or cuddly animals and negative ones like spiders or car wrecks. The conservatives showed greater interest in the negative pictures and the liberals in the positive images.

So then the subjects were shown a mixture of images, positive and negative, while tracking the eye movements of the participants. The researchers found that once again the conservatives zeroed in on pictures that were negative and made them uncomfortable while liberals avoided them.

The conclusions were that conservatives are more receptive to campaigns that emphasis the negative while liberals are more open to hopeful messages for the future.

Now is this political malarkey, silly science, or is there a grain of truth in there somewhere? As a liberal I am sure that it is true, especially after following this year’s Republican primary. But then again that just might be a liberal being receptive to anything that makes the opposition look bad and paranoid. Maybe I should volunteer for the next University of Nebraska study.

To contact Catherine Poe, see above. Her work appears in HYPERLINK “http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/ad-lib/”Ad Lib in the Communities at the Washington Times. She can also be heard on the HYPERLINK “http://www.americasdemocrats.org/”Democrats for America’s Future. She is also a contributor to broadcast, print and online media.

This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.

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Catherine Poe

Catherine was named one of the top Progressives in Maryland along with Senator Barbara Mikulski and Congresswoman Donna Edwards. She has been a guest of President Obama in the Rose Garden.

As past president of Long Island NOW, she worked to reform women's prisons in New York, open the construction trades to women, change laws to safeguard battered women, and protect the rights of rape victims. 

Long active in Democratic politics, she served as the presidentof the Talbot Democrats in Maryland for six years and fought to getthe Health Care Reform bill passed.

Catherine has been published in a diverse range of newspapers and magazines, including Newsday, Star Democrat, Rocky Mountain News, Yellowstone News, and the Massachusetts Review.

If Catherine has learned anything over the years it is that progressive change does not come easily, but in baby steps. 

Contact Catherine Poe


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