US Supreme Court: Eating US Democracy Through Activism?

The US Declaration of Independence, signed in Philadelphia on July 4th, 1776, began with the sentence, “When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

Note please that no where in this first paragraph is there mention of companies, corporations, political action committees, filthy rich gazillionaires, or secret campaign contributors that can possibly buy elections out from under the democratic process of “one citizen, one vote”.

Everyone in the USA and many observant folks around the world  know that in the US Supreme court case in 2010 known as “Citizens United“,  the “Supremes” voted 5-4 to uphold the “right” of corporations to make massive and undocumented campaign contributions.  In doing so, they opened the door to campaign funding abuse by the very rich and wealthy.  After all, there is no way that the average middle class citizen could possibly donate several thousand (or several hundreds of thousands) dollars to a political campaign.

The majority opinion claimed it was a first amendment right to freedom of speech which protected these activities on the part of wealthy corporations, such as, but not exclusively, the Koch brothers and their political activism (read:  organizing and sending massive amounts of cash to Tea Party campaigns).

The minority opinion stated in so many words, “bullshit!”

In this country, majority rule is an important concept and thus the “Supremes” conservative majority led the day.

The results, especially in this mid-term election year, have been nothing short of astounding.  Wealthy conservatives donated millions of dollars to the conservative super-pacs such American for Prosperity and FreedomWorks,  in which the infamous conservative billionaire Koch brothers are involved.  These two brothers have literally contributed tens of millions of dollars of their own money to Tea Party candidates for federal office.  And while one might think that they should be free to do so, there is no way that the average US citizen who votes could possibly make even a small dent in the Koch’s campaign contributions. The facts are that only the very rich, who tend to be conservative pro-corporation republicans, will be able to take advantage of this Supreme Court decision

The “Supremes”, unfortunately, were no where near done.  Last July, in Shelby County v. Holder, they stuck down a long-standing provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which had been passed during the Civil Rights activism of the 1960′s to ensure that no state,and specifically most southern and some mid-west states, could enact discriminatory laws without the approval of the Federal Elections Commission.  The “Supremes” basically said that none of these states was discriminatory and therefore that provision of the law was unconstitutional and unnecessary.

Immediately, several states, including Texas, voted to reduce voting sites and voting hours as well as early voting capabilities and increased need for identity checks for voters, which causes considerable hardship for poor, low-income voters who tend to vote democratic.

Finally, in their crowning achievement (so far) of putting America’s democratic elections up for sale to the highest bidder, the “Supremes” ruled just a couple of days ago in Schuette vs. Bamn that Michigan’ recent state constitutional amendment banning affirmative action as a factor in college admission is in fact NOT unconstitutional, per their view of the US Constitution.

This decision was a little tighter than the previous two, in that the “Supremes” voted 6-2.  Interestingly, however, the two women justices in the decision, Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg (a third, Elena Kagan, had reclused herself), disagreed with the majority, citing the statistical fact that in states that do not practice affirmative action as a policy, college enrollment of minorities is down dramatically over states that do practice affirmative action.

In making this decision, the “Supremes” essentially reversed decades of policy that ensured that the racial discrimination of the previous 100 years would not be allowed to continue when it came to college admission.

And when all three decisions are taken together, it bodes ominously for the common middle class citizen, minorities, and the “little guy”, while empowering the wealthy and powerful to exercise an inordinate amount of influence over the US government and its democratic process, particularly regarding elections and education.  Of course, conservatives love it because they see it as less government, more personal freedom (to abuse anyone else not powerful enough to stand up and stop it).  So much for equal protection under law…

And this summer the “Supremes” will be ruling on whether private companies owned by religious zealots can dictate their religious dogma to their employees in the form of not allowing health insurance companies to provide their employees free birth control.

Depending upon their decision. this one just might get the “Supremes” branded as “activist judges..”.

Republican Darrel Issa: Congressional Terrorist

The 5th amendment in the Bill of Rights of the US Constitution states, in pertinent part:

“…nor shall any person be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself…

Furthermore, the US Supreme Court asserted in 1924 that this constitutional right applies whether a hearing is criminal or civil (such as a congressional hearing).  No one can forcibly take away this right from anyone in the USA, nor can they somehow invent some excuse to remove the right.

Joseph McCarthy was a republican senator from Wisconsin during the late 1940′s through early 1950′s.  He chaired the House Un-American Activities Committee.  During his so-called investigations and hearings, he accused countless Americans of being communists, and in fact had his committee vote to hold witnesses invoking their 5th amendment rights in Contempt of Congress.  Known for his intimidation tactics, McCarthy attempted to prove that the US government was being overrun by communists, but he never found a single communist in government.  And very Contempt of Congress resolution by McCarthy’s committee was overturned in court.

In 1954 the full US senate voted to censure McCarthy for his behavior on the committee;  one of the very few senators in history to be censured.

As an interesting and perhaps eerie aside, republican senator Ted Cruz from Texas, who also has a predilection for using intimidation (terrorist?) tactics in the senate to achieve his Tea Party goals, looks (and acts) a lot like McCarthy:

Ted Cruz, official portrait, 113th Congress.jpg    …..                             Ted Cruz                                   Joe McCarthy

Darrel Issa is a republican congressman from California.  He is chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which has investigated the 2012 terrorists attack against the US embassy in Benghazi, as well as the alleged IRS harassment of Tea Party organizations seeking tax-exempt status.

It’s important to note that the IRS also questioned a number of far-left organizations with the same zeal during the same time frame, but Issa has never been interested in this inconvenient fact.

Instead, Issa’s focus, besides protecting his status as a very wealthy businessman reported worth US$ 450 million, is solely to embarrass the Obama administration and democrats.

Issa was not able to find any criminal or otherwise nefarious conduct in his Benghazi hearings, so he’s shifted his focus on the IRS issue.

During the IRS hearings, Issa subpoenaed and questioned former IRS official Lois Lerner She first asserted her innocence and then invoked her 5th amendment rights to specific questions on the advice of her lawyer.

Issa is very upset that he could not compel her to claim responsibility for anything.  He’s also very upset that he has never proved a single allegation of wrong-doing on the part of all the democrats he has tried for so long to implicate in various “scandals”.

With the mid-term elections a scant 7 months away in November, and with Obamacare looking less and less like the defining issue for voters that the republicans had hoped it would be, Issa and his cronies decided to implement what they probably consider to be a “nuclear option”, and have the House Ways & Means Committee draft a resolution recommending that the full House of Representatives find Lerner in contempt of Congress for invoking her 5th amendment rights during the congressional hearings.

Considering that the House is controlled by the GOP, and the GOP’s number 1 priority is obviously not governing wisely but strictly about winning elections, there is every reason to believe that this resolution can and will pass the full House.

In anticipation of this, the ranking member on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, democrat Elijah Cummings of Maryland has accused Issa of engaging in McCarthyism, or creating a scandal where none exists. Cumming wrote a letter to Issa that was signed by every democrat on the committee.  It says, among other things, that almost all of the incidents in recent history of finding witnesses in contempt of congress occurred during the McCarthy era, and they were all overturned in court.

The committee vote on this issue is Thursday, April 10th.  It will probably pass along party lines even though it is without basis or foundation.  Then, it will most likely be overturned in court.

But in the meantime it certainly appears to be an act of election year desperation.  And today, April 9th, 2014, another act of republican political desperation occurred in a vote along party lines taken in a closed session of the House Ways and Means committee, demanding that US attorney general Eric Holder prosecute Lois Lerner for all kinds of crimes against the Universe.

Meanwhile, the republicans in the US senate today filibustered and thus stopped a bill that provides women protections against being paid less than men for equal work.

This is how the republicans plan to win over independent and undecided voters, through these insane acts of political terrorism.

Good luck with that.

GOP Political Ads are Full of S#!T

President Obama and his administration are guilty of several administrative screw-ups, such as the disastrous Obamacare website roll-out in October 2013.Perhaps their worst transgression, however, is that their marketing of their policies and decisions is absolutely horrible.  it’s almost as if they had no marketing skills whatsoever…as if they were trying to sell dead insects to new homeowners.

Every administration has missteps that they must walk back after initial exposure to the press and public. But every college sophomore taking marketing 101 knows that selling ice to Eskimos is only feasible if one has the appropriate marketing skills to make the Eskimos believe that they NEED to buy more ice.  In the case of  the Obama administration, Obamacare and its broken promises of keeping your health care plan if you like it, as well as the Benghazi tragedy and its subsequent aftermath, could have been handled in ways that minimized or even eliminated the political damage to the Obama administration, democrats in general, and the possible future candidacy of Hilliary Clinton in 2016.

Instead, however, republicans in general and the Koch brothers and their super-rich anonymous massive financial contributors in particular have seized upon these and other issues to market their lie- and fabrication-encrusted hate- and fear-mongering messages of utter incompetence and weakness by Obama and his side.

Of course, while blaming Obama for everything from Benghazi to Crimea, they offer absolutely no alternative solutions.  Additionally, they do not justify nor offer proof for their criticisms and statements.  They get away with all this for one reason:

Many, if not most Americans are low-information voters.

Take, for instance, the republican criticism of Benghazi, where 4 Americans were murdered in a terrorist attack in 2012.  the Obama administration has vowed to bring the responsible parties to justice.  The only problem with that is that the perpetrators haven’t been caught yet.  The reasons for this are obvious:  it’s hard for the USA, or any western country for that matter, to identify and then trace terrorists in a foreign country.  and what we don’t know is what our intelligence community is do regarding accomplishing that goal, nor will we know until and less the perpetrators are caught and we can prove we have the right people.

But the republicans are screaming that Obama is doing NOTHING to catch them and bring them to justice, and as a result, no other countries respect us anymore.  What they don’t tell you is that their hero GW Bush never got close to catching Osama Bin Laden, but they never claimed that other countries thought we sucked because of that.

And additional example of this republican condemn-Obama-at-all-costs doctrine is the Russian take-over of Crimea.  Republicans everywhere are claiming that because Obama hasn’t caught the Benghazi terrorists, Russian president Vladimir Putin was emboldened to annex Crimea from Ukraine.  In other words, if Obama had captured ANYONE and claimed they were the Benghazi guys, Putin would have done nothing in Crimea.

Not only that, but now they’re criticizing Obama for not stopping Putin singlehandedly.

Are they for real?

Note that no one republican has offered an alternative.  Not one republican is advocating that we go to war with Russia, either.  After all, Russia is a nuclear power and the USA is not going to start a nuclear war over a region where the majority voted to join Russia in the first place.  But these republicans are still claiming that Obama is not doing his job.  They just don’t have a suggestion as to what that job should be.

Because the average American does not do his or her own research on the issues, the poison political ads that the Koch brothers are buying nationwide can have an impact.  They don’t need to be true.  They just need to make the low-information voters afraid that under Obama, all the bridges in the USA are going to collapse.

There is one last item that these republican hate- and fear-mongers are capitalizing on, and that is Obamacare.  The Affordable Care Act was an attempt to incorporate republican ideas into what should have been a straight-forward, universal health care system akin to “Medicare for all” or a single-payer system, that would have been simple, equal, and ultimately invisible as far as how it was financed…through our taxes like in every other industrialized country. 

Because of that effort to please the impossible-to-please GOP, the current health care reform program has got a LOT of problems, and they aren’t going to go away anytime soon.  This, too, is the result of a flawed (non-existent, actually) marketing plan from its inception.  And if the democrats lose control of the senate in 2014, this is going to be the main reason.

On the other hand, voters should have a responsibility to discern the truth before they vote, and If ANYTHING screams that people should have to pass an exam before being allowed to vote, this does.

Yeah.  THAT’s gonna happen.

Can USA REALLY Condemn Russia Over Ukraine??

Not so long ago in a galaxy not so far away (this one, in fact), humans would only invade their neighbors over such things the need to survive and reproduce.  Water, food sources and reproduction would drive violent encounters between opposing humans and their aligned associates, if any.

Later in history, as basic human survival needs were relatively stabilized, humans fought over religion, wealth, slaves, property, political power and other non-survival purposes.

As technology advanced and man learned to destroy more with less, people began to realize that there were better ways to solve problems then killing and destroying, such as talking to each other, and negotiating, and even competitions like land rushes and the like.

Then when humanity became capable of utterly destroying itself, even more humans realized the pen was much mightier than the sword if the physical survival of the entire human race was important.  As a result, most organized nations of the world came together and agreed that henceforth they would seek to work things out, avoiding bloodshed and possible annihilation.

The only acceptable exception was if a nation was attacked by another nation with force.  Only then would defensive counter-force be deemed acceptable, and even then only enough to stop and reverse the original aggression.  Remember this.

On September 11, 2001 (9-11) the USA was attacked on it own soil by members of a stateless religious extremist Islamist organization known Al Qaeda which also pledged to attack the some of the other large nations on the planet with local terror operations.

As a result of the 9-11 attacks, the USA appropriately chose to seek out Al Qaeda and its supporters, the Taliban. The USA subsequently invaded Afghanistan with American and coalition military forces to rout and destroy Al-Qaeda and overthrow the Taliban government of Afghanistan.  This action was condoned by every civilized nation on Earth as meritorious and justified by the brutal 9-11 attack on the USA.

HOWEVER!!!!  If only the USA would have stopped there and simply maintained stabilizing forces in Afghanistan and nothing more.  But, nope, not to be.  Then-president of the USA George W. Bush, who by many accounts was hell-bent on attacking Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, ostensibly because Saddam tried to kill his dad, former president George H. W, Bush in the late 1990s, was intent for his first day in office to attack and remove Saddam Hussein.  The fact that then-president Bill Clinton took strong military retaliatory action against Saddam subsequent to the assassination attempt didn’t seem to be enough for the younger Bush.

So in March 1993, after convincing a not-very-discriminating-or-perceptive congress, G W Bush directed American troops (and coalition troops) to invade Iraq under the false pretense that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, most notably some nuclear capability of some sort.

SURPRISE!!  Not a single solitary weapon of mass destruction was found.  An obsolete Russian MiG jet fighter WAS found buried in the sand in the Iraqi desert, however.

So…The USA spent almost 10 years in Iraq, a country that posed no threat to us, which in all probability had held back Iran, even if we didn’t like Saddam Hussein or his government.

Fast forward to March 2014:  Russian Premier Vladimir Putin, who rules the largest country on Earth (Russia), one of the powerful nations on Earth (Russia)  and the one of the two largest nuclear arsenals on Earth (Russian & American), decided to invade the Crimean peninsula of the formal Soviet satellite republic of Ukraine.  Russian troops marched in without firing a single bullet (unlike the USA in Iraq in 2003) and were welcomed with open arms.  And while it was still clearly a violation of sovereign Ukrainian territory by Russia, Putin’s claims that they were invited by the ousted pro-Russian president of Ukraine, and that the vast majority of the population of Crimea is of Russian origin or descent and welcomed them, is true.

But the very worst part of this is that at Putin’s press conference on Sunday, March 1st, Putin stated (accurately) that the west (read: USA and its allies) yelling at him for putting troops into Crimea (where Russia ALREADY has a base and troops, by the way), is coming from a nation (USA) that seems to invade other countries such as Iraq with impunity, even WITHOUT a direct connection to the USA (except maybe oil).

If you don’t live up to a standard (human rights, for instance), then where on Earth to you get the hubris to demand that others do so?  When we tortured terrorist prisoners between 2003-2007, we lost our right demand that other countries cease doing the same.

So when, after invading Iraq for no valid reason, we demanded Russia reverse their invasion of Crimea, one could just hear their disgust at the arrogant American “do as I say, not as I do” attitude.

THAT’S what the Bush/Cheney Syndicate did to us……

TEXAS: Proud Producers of GOP Bigots & Extremists

Is this REALLY the 21st century?

If aliens from the planet Zork came to the USA (ostensibly because they intercepted a transmission from us as we were pontificating on the airwaves for the gazillionth time about “American exceptionalism” and they wanted to see it for themselves), it’s a safe bet they would think we were either stoned or insane…or both….ESPECIALLY if they happened upon Ted Nugent, the Texas ultra-extreme-right wing bigoted racist rock-musician-turned-political-lunatic.  This, by the way, is helping to take the republican party down with independent voters, not that the teabaggers seem to care.

Nugent has been around a long time.  He’s has always been an extremist, but his extremism was limited primarily to his music and strong views on gun rights freedom until Obama became USA president.  In January 2014 Nugent made statements about president Obama that are truly so heinous that it is hard to believe that any American would support them.

Chick HERE or here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HsSMoMXG5wc to watch

In this UNBELIEVABLE video recorded at a Texas National Rifle Association (NRA) rally, Nugent called Obama a communist, a “sub-human mogrel” and a chimpanzee.  These are the same names bestowed upon the Jewish people in Europe during World War II by the NAZIs as they were murdering millions of those innocent men, women and children in concentration camps in the name of Aryan racial purity.

Running for governor in the republican primary in Texas is the current state attorney general, Greg Abbot, who Nugent enthusiastically supports.  In fact, Abbot embraced Nugent at a political rally for Abbot after the video went viral, and never once tried to distance himself from Nugent.  Abbott’s position is that Nugent helps to bring out the extreme right base of the republican party for early voting which starts today in Texas.  Abbot’s lame excuse is that Nugent supports him, but he never said he supports Nugent.

Are you fu**ing kidding???

That’s like accepting the presence and support of Hitler at one of your own fundraisers and then saying you don’t necessarily support the guy.  The bullshit flag is out so far on that it could cover the entire state of Texas.  But the hot stinky air rising from that state is just getting started.

Earlier this month in the US senate, the bill to raise the national debt ceiling limit was passed with bipartisan support after making it through the House of representatives with similar bipartisan support.  However, Texas republican Joe Barton voted no. He is another fringe lunatic who says that “wind is God’s way of balancing heat’!!!.

It also did not sail through the senate unscathed.  Republican senator Ted Cruz (whom with with senator Mike Lee of Utah recently introduced a bill in the US senate to force the federal government to stop forcing all states to recognize same-sex marriages from other states) insisted on filibustering the bill in an attempt to stop it and thus shut down the federal government just like he did in October 2013 (which cost the American taxpayer US$ 24 billion).  Initially, mainstream republicans felt they had to stick together, but one by one in private they told Cruz and his band of Merry Mindless Morons like senator Marco Rubio of Florida, who suffers from foot in mouth disease, and Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, who had previously claimed that Obamacare would force doctors out of their homes at night at gunpoint to heal people to go shit in their hats, because they were not going to allow these insane-asylum escapees to blackmail the nation and concurrently kill any chance of the republicans surviving as a political entity in America.

Interestingly, all three of these guys fancy themselves as presidential candidates in 2016.  One can only hope that they actually run, and expend maximum resources beating each other up during the republican presidential primaries.

And one can only hope that they tap people like Ted Nugent to play his brand of rock and babble his brand of hate, racism, bigotry, Nazi-inspired, white-supremacist, genocide promoting Neanderthal knuckle dragging thought-processing that these people seem to excel in.

If that happens, then perhaps enough independent voters will do enough research on their own to realize that selfish Me-First and Me-Only whack-jobs like Ted Nugent, Ted Cruz, Joe Barton, Mike Lee, Rand Paul belong to a time when humanity believed that solar eclipses where a sign of evil and the Earth was flat.

This is important, because if any of these megalomaniac manages to get elected to the presidency of the USA, then those space explorers from the planet Zork will clearly note this eventuality and post Quarantine signs at all the La Grange points around Earth warning all other intelligent life elsewhere in our galactic neighborhood to steer clear of Earth for their own safety and survival.

And some folks just also put a sign in their driveways directed upwards at those sign-erecting Zorkians that says “Please land here and take me with you!!!”

 

Obama vs. GOP: Intellectual Symmetry R NOT US

Last night President Obama gave yet another magnificent State of the Union Speech to a joint session of the US congress and attended by most of the US supreme court.  Much of the nation watched this speech on television, as has become the custom since the days of the G W Bush administration and the 9-11 attack on the World trade Center and the Pentagon.  And when one recalls the rhetorical (of lack thereof) approach to speech of George W. Bush, who could not properly pronounce the word “nuclear”, with the oratory gifts of Barack Obama, the lack of oratory symmetry between that republican and this democrat is clear.

Thus, the GOP must have been shaking in their boots over Obama’s speech-giving capabilities last night because they deemed it necessary to respond with no less than THREE republicans.  Senator Ted Cruz from Texas criticized Obama for his use of executive orders, even though Obama has issued far less executive orders than GW Bush or Saint Ronnie the Ray-Gun .

Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky hemmed and hawed about Obama’s raising the minimum wage for employees of federal contractors  and about passing an extension of unemployment insurance that Obama promoted in his speech, repeating his claim that unemployment compensation is bad for the unemployed…You know, like food is bad for starving people.

But the official republican response to Obama’s speech was delivered by republican congresswomen Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington state.  She countered Obama’s concrete proposals of raising the minimum wage, equal pay for women, reducing oil use in favor of using more natural gas, increased spending for education, universal pre-K, innovative research and infrastructure jobs, immigration reform, etc., with her story of being raised on a farm in Washington, raising farm animals, saving money for college, praying a lot, and then going to college and praying a lot and getting married and praying a lot and having kids and praying a lot.

McMorris Rodgers offered the republican plan for prosperity for America which consisted of a positive attitude and hard work and good morale and praying and….no specifics.

With the mid-term elections a mere 8 months away, republicans are hoping that they can maintain control of the House of Representatives and take control of the US senate from the democrats in November.  But this hope comes on the heels of their tea-party-engineered government shutdown and near-US-debt default last October that the GOP got blamed for.  Were it not for the disastrous Obamacare website rollout at the same time, most political forecasters would probably be writing the republicans’ obituary now.

It’s true that during the closing moments of 2013 a bipartisan budget deal was reached between democrats and republicans to avoid yet another government shutdown early this year.  But the bipartisanship ended there.

The House is, after all, only interested in only three things:

1.  Making Obama and the democrats look bad;

2.  Making Obamacare look bad; and

3.  Helping their Super-PAC campaign contributors make and keep more money.

So last night, realizing that the GOP-controlled members of the House probably wouldn’t budge from their intransigent positions, Obama laid it out:

If he can’t get congress to enact common sense legislation that he can sign into law on these issues, he will unilaterally invoke and sign presidential executive orders.  Perhaps that sounds dictatorial to the GOP, but then his predecessor GW Bush signed 197 of them during his two terms as president, and St. Ronnie the Ray Gun signed 256 of them…far more than Obama’s 167.

However, you’d never know it by listening to the SCREAMING of republicans last night as they yelled about Obama ignoring the constitution.  But the facts are that there is no intellectual symmetry whatsoever to the number of presidential executive orders signed by democrats vs. republicans as seen above, just as there is no intellectual symmetry whatever to the number outrageous statements and behaviors demonstrated by republicans vs. democrats.

Take, for instance, (caught on camera no less) New York state republican congressman Michael Grimm’s actions against a NY1 news reporter, Michael Scotto, in which Grimm threatened to throw Scotto off a balcony for asking a question about a justice department investigation of Grimm for alleged illegal campaign fundraising.

Obviously, the reporter had the right to ask the question, but the republican congressman thought the reporter didn’t have freedom of the press, any more than some republicans say that women don’t have the right to equal pay, or that wives don’t have the right to say no to their husbands, or that women can’t get pregnant by an act of rape.  Democrats don’t run around making these idiot statements.

And finally, how would one explain that in this day and age, the number of republicans who reject the science of evolution in favor of creationism is actually rising, while the number of democrats sending their children to engineering/technology colleges is increasing?

No intellectual symmetry, is how.  :)

So How Do You Like This Shoot-Em-Up Year So Far?

It’s been two weeks since our 2014 predictions, and while it’s still to early to determine how close to reality we came, some new stuff is happening worth commenting on.

On top is that Americans’ love affair with the old wild west is continuing unabated, considering that no less than two shootings made national headlines within the first two weeks of the new year.  The first was a 71 year-old ex-cop from Florida who decided to shoot a fellow movie-goer with a .380 pistol in a theater in a Tampa, Florida suburb because the victim was texting on his cell phone during the previews.  Granted, texting is rude and inconsiderate and annoying to anyone seated nearby who can see the light coming from the cellphone.  Also, the guy doing the texting threw his popcorn at the ex-cop after a shouting match ensued.  But to be shot for it??  Yep.  Because this is America, where everyone has a right to a gun, even in a movie theater.

The second shooting incident occurred in a Roswell, New Mexico (Yep!  Of area 51 fame!) middle school gym, where a 12 year-old boy came to school with a 20-gauge shotgun with a sawed-off stock and just started shooting at fellow students.  The reason?  No one knows yet.  But did he really need a reason?  After all, this is America, where everyone has a right to a gun, even if they’re crazy.  Just ask the senate republicans, who filibustered a bill that would have extended background checks, including mental health checks, to gun shows and internet sales.

The other event, or non-event to be more accurate, is that as of this late date, the senate has yet to pass an extension of the long-term unemployment benefits that ran out for 1.3 million long term unemployed and their families on December 28, 2013, because senate republicans want to squeeze extra spending cuts out of the democrats that they could not get in the bi-partisan budget deal agreed to a couple of weeks ago.  As a result, they’re going into a  “cooling off” period, then they’ll go on a one-week vacation (after being off for several weeks during the Christmas-New Years season), and then MAYBE when they return they’ll try to work on a compromise.

And while these millionaire (yeah, really!  Most are MILLIONAIRES!!) politically conservative republican congressmen and senators who are blocking those unemployment benefits for the needy return to their homes districts in the dead of winter when nothing is really demanding their attention back home (or perhaps spend a week in St. Thomas studying how they make rum), those chronically employed may not be able to heat their homes, or may have to choose between eating food, or buying medicine.

But rest assured:  republicans care about you and the economy.  That’s why they’re fighting to keep the democrats from raising taxes on the wealthy.  If they can just cut spending where it really needs to be cut…in food stamps, heating assistance, meals on wheels, unemployment insurance, Obamacare, school lunch programs, education, pre-K programs…and eliminate useless agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency…just think of all that extra money that could be saved to reduce taxes even more for the job creators.  and then EVERYONE could have a $7.25 an hour job!

Except for one inconvenient truth:

This doesn’t work.

Even republicans are learning that most Americans aren’t buying what they’re selling anyone.  That is why the GOP latched onto Obamacare as the ISSUE OF THE MILLENNIUM, because they knew that none of their own agenda items were maintaining traction with Americans.  The latest polls demonstrate it clearly:

Republicans oppose raising the minimum wage but 71% of Americans support it.   Republicans oppose unemployment benefits, but 58% of Americans want them extended. (source: Quinnipiac)

When people were asked their party affiliation by Gallup this year, only 24% identified as republican, while 29% called themselves democrats.  The rest claimed to be independents, of which 5% leaned left and 5% leaned right.

This means that on its best day, the GOP can only depend on 29% of the vote.  Therefore, to win an election, the rest of their support MUST come from winning independent votes on the issues, and the GOP is doing a terrible job of that.  Do they really think that the rest of America didn’t notice when senate republicans filibustered the gun background check bill last year, even though 90% of Americans were in favor of the bill?

Additionally, the GOP has done NOTHING about the “American 21st century cowboy shoot-’em-up culture” and NOTHING about solving the toxic class division and divided economy of have’s & have-not’s it helped to create by allowing the corporate conglomerates to run amok during the first eight years of the 21st century.

Since then, GOP has done nothing but attempt to block every single attempt of the democrats and even moderate mainstream republicans to mitigate all of that damage and rebuild the jobs market and the middle class economy.

Do the Tea Party republicans really think that the rest of America doesn’t notice?
Maybe they think they’re invisible??  ;)

2014 Predictions!!

It’s first day of 2014.  What better time to issue a whole new set of predictions than while everyone is looking around and trying to figure out what they should be doing today?  :)

So here goes.  Considering the monumental changes are occurring in the USA today, let’s hit them:

1.  ObamacareAs of today, this law (with delayed exceptions for both employers as well as for people whose plans were terminated because they are now considered sub-standard) is now fully implemented.  This means that the for-profit health insurance companies can no longer deny coverage due to pre-existing conditions or because you happened to get sick.  For many Americans, it will be a vast improvement.  But it is far from ideal.  Republicans still think that they can squeeze control of the senate out of it during the 2014 midterm elections.                                                                   Prediction  Assuming that the democrats get their strategy right, they will advertise all the health improvements and all of the lives saved because of Obamacare.  They will use the refusal of the GOP to address the minimum wage, unemployment compensation, jobs programs, and immigration reform.  They will also concentrate on the $24 billion 2013 government shutdown caused by the lunatic ultra-right-wing tea party wing nuts.  And when the GOP talks about Obamacare problems, the democrats (if they are smart) will point out that none of those problems would have happened if there had been a public option or “medicare for all”.  :)  That will severely incense the Tea Party, which will become even more extreme than they are now.  Despite how unpopular the polls say they are, they’ll entrench even further to the right.  Most Americans will simply not vote that far right.  The dems will maintain the senate and will even pick up seats in the House.

2.  Colorado, Washington, Portland, ME. & Pot:   As the eyes of the nation watch, these states and particularly Colorado start allowing marijuana to be legally sold, grown, smoked and possessed within these states.  It is regulated and taxed.  It cannot be used in public nor can it be legally taken out of state (uh huh……….  :)             Prediction:  The economies of these state will soar far higher than their pot-smoking residents.  People all over America will be flocking into these states by air, sea, highway and rail to experience for themselves what it’s like to legally buy pot in a store.  The hotels, motels and restaurants in these states will swell with people and do a huge business.  All that tax money that was being spent tracking down, arresting and jailing pot users will now actually be spent arresting and jailing murderers, rapists, bank robbers and terrorists.  Additionally, massive amounts of money will pour in via taxes on pot, which people will gladly pay  in exchange for the ability to buy it in the open, free from fear of having to look over their shoulder or the fear of getting ripped off.  Other states will be watching and licking their chops at the revenue stream being created, much as when native American tribes began to open casinos years ago.  But of course, there will be those who will oppose any change to the status quo.  The drug cartels, the ultra-right, and the private prison contractors will hate it.  They will join together and mount huge, well funded campaigns against it in their states.  Everyone else will love, though.  :)

3.  Climate change/global warming:  Data taken from Arctic and Antarctic ice cores demonstrate the climate record going back thousands of years.  Every reputable scientist in the world agrees that climate change is real and that human activity is, at a minimum, accelerating it.  Unfortunately, warnings issued over the past couple of decades have been largely ignored by large for-profit corporations.                                   Prediction:  In July 2014, for the first time in recorded history, the “northwest passage”, i.e. a navigable sea route from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean via the northeast and west across northernmost Canada, the northern Alaskan coast and then south through the Bering Strait separating Alaska and Russia, will open up as the last of the blocking Arctic ice sheet in the area melts away, revealing open ocean.  Numerous small islands along the way will become disputed between Russia, Canada and Alaska, due to the discovery of oi and fertile fishing areas.  Fishing fleets as well as numerous wealthy thrill-seeking ocean-going yacht owners will all be vying for the limited space in the passage before the onset of colder temperatures in the fall causes the now-seasonal refreezing of the blocking ice sheet over the winter.  Ultimately, relations between Canada, USA and Russia become hostile because of the multi-island dispute.  By year’s end there is talk of possible military occupations of the islands in question….after they thaw out in the spring of 2015.

In a new years eve radio broadcast on December 31, 2014, Rush Limbaugh again calls global warming the biggest hoax ever.  :)

T’Was the Night Before Christmas 2013….

…and all through the House,
Representatives were long gone; they were so mickey mouse.
They knew that the budget that they passed before leaving
Would drive the Tea Party into a frenzy of raged seething.
For the ultra-right wacko wing of the GOP
Only cares for their own weird philosophy,
Which excludes the more moderate majority
Of our extremely diverse and proud country.
Their view is that theirs is the only right view,
And if your’s is different, then they just won’t count you.
Meanwhile, the Senate was poised to ensure
That the budget deal passed in the House would endure.
And with yet one more government shutdown averted,
The mainstream republicans happily asserted
That they could go back to just happily pounding Obamacare
Even though the worst problems with that law and its fare
Were now in the past, since the website was fixed
And more people were enrolling.  They were not nixed.
But the GOP still wants it repealed.
They hated the website, because of the deal
Where after signing up, a question of note
Is asked of enrollees:  “Would you like to register to vote?”
Republicans HATE that question, you know that for sure,
because the enrollee, whom no one before would insure,
Now has health coverage for the very first time.
So he knows when he votes when to send in his dime.
And while all of this stuff was filling our plate
The NSA was listening to all that we say
On cell phones, and landlines, and faxes galore
Via texts, social media, and wired-up whores.
Every way one can think of, they already thought.
The data they harvest is more than they sought;
They needed new buildings to store all of it.
Some day it might even be stored in a pit.
But they really went too far, as everyone could see,
When they claimed NSA stood for “No Such Agency”.
And if you’re celebrating Peace On Earth this season,
The “War on Christmas” finally seems to be won;
Fewer folks are claiming assaults on their views.
But it seems that a lot of them still shoot their guns:
Almost weekly, sometimes more, there’s a shooting somewhere;
Some deranged unhappy guy starts a horrible scare.
Often children are involved, but nothing is done
To prevent a recurrence.  There is just no one
That can lead this great nation to pass proper laws
That protect all the young ones from people with flaws,
Such as known mental illness, or desire to kill.
The senate did try, but republicans had no will
to oppose the NRA and its political wrath
So they chose to go march down the filibuster path
And stopped background checks for the purchase of guns,
Although 90% of Americans would have cheered had it won.
So this Christmas think carefully of gifts you might give
That are useful and timely and will help children live,
Made of Kevlar and strong stuff for young lives with much zest.
Be thoughtful and loving:  GIVE A BULLET-PROOF VEST!
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Seasons Greetings, and May the New Year 2014
Be Joyous, Healthy and Safe for YOU and yours!  :)
Howie

Corporations, Religion, The First Amendment and Obamacare

Once in a great while an event unfolds in which the opposing forcing forces are so strong that a huge explosion is inevitable, regardless of which one ultimately prevails.  That event is the ultimate outcome of a a case the US Supreme Court recently agreed to hear: Sebelius, Sec. of H&HS, et al v. Hobby Lobby, Inc. and Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Sebelius, Sec. of H&HS, et al.

It’s difficult to believe that in a 21st century technologically advanced industrial nation like the USA, such a case would be worthy of the Supreme Court.  But then again, this selfsame court ruled only three short years ago that corporations have the same rights as people when it comes to freedom of speech as guaranteed in the first amendment of the bill of rights to the US constitution.  To wit, in the infamous Citizens United case, the Supreme court ruled that corporations were free to donate unlimited amounts of money to political action committees and had ALSO a right to privacy while doing so!

At issue in the Hobby Lobby case are the religious beliefs of the Green family, which owns and operates this corporation of 578 stores nationwide, employing many thousands of men and women. David Green, billionaire, founder and CEO of Hobby Lobby is an evangelist who believes his religion is omnipresent, including in his work life.

To that end, he opposes Obamacare on numerous levels, including its requirement that the health insurance companies provide contraceptive coverage for women.  But he’s most virulent opposed to its contraceptive coverage of the “morning after” pill, which Green and others like him consider to really be an abortion pill, even though the scientific community has stated that it is not.

These folks are also against Intrauterine Devices (IUDs) because they believe human life begins at conception and IUDs prevent a fertilized egg (conceived human) from implanting in a woman’s womb.

The Green family’s religious beliefs are at odds with scientific data.  But they have a constitution right to believe in them as part of their religious freedom and to practice these beliefs within their own lives.

Hobby Lobby, which the Greens own and operate, is a corporation governed by law, and thousands of women work for this corporation who do not share the Greens’ religious beliefs.  However, they still have the same 1st amendment right to freedom of religion that the Greens are claiming for themselves.

Nonetheless, the Greens filed a lawsuit against Obamacare’s contraception mandate, claiming the new health care law violates their right to religious freedom by forcing them, as Hobby Lobby’s owner/operators, to provide and/or allow health insurance companies to provide abortion-inducing devices and medications (free of charge no less) to their employees when in fact they believe abortion (and even contraception) is heinously against the laws of God.

What’s wrong with this picture?  Or actually, the more valid question might be to ask, “What’s RIGHT with this picture?”……EXTREME right?

The answer is clear.

Everything about this lawsuit screams extreme right.  Everything about it screams that the powerful and the wealthy have the right to dictate religious dogma and rules to the powerless and those with less means.

That the Greens don’t want believe in contraceptive devices is their right, misguided though it might be.  But to IMPOSE that belief on the lives of others is NOT their right, and using their corporation as a front does not change that fact.

The same principal applies to their belief that the “morning after pill” is an abortion pill.  They can believe that if they wish, but they cannot IMPOSE that misguided belief upon others,nor can they impose a forced practice upon others.  The first amendment does not allow that.

Nothing, but NOTHING, screams for the separation of church and state more that this very issue.

But if the Supreme Court rules in June of 2014 that the Hobby Lobby corporation does in fact have the right to deny employer-based Affordable Care Act access to its employees on the basis of its own religious beliefs, then imprinting of church into onto government is exactly what we’ll get.  How, you may well ask….?

The religious right will claim that the Supreme Court has established that the religious rights of corporations exceed those of the individual citizen.

Coupled with Citizens United, these corporations with their new-found religious powers can dominate the political environment of the USA to the detriment of the individual citizen with massive amounts of money infused into the political system.

Companies run by those who don’t believe in transfusions will be able to deny that coverage to their employees based upon the “corporation’s” religious beliefs.  The religious right will own the government and the laws will favor the religious right.  Soon, all employer-based health insurance could be a distant memory.

Exactly what the evangelical witch doctor ordered, isn’t it?

What REALLY Went Wrong With Obamacare

At this late date and with all the press about the disastrous rollout of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also either affectionately or abominably known as Obamacare, one might think that the government shutdown and the idiotic debt ceiling flirtation of early October never even happened.  The GOP and particularly the ultra-extreme-right wing Tea Party embedded within it are absolutely gloating at the failures of the www.healthcare.gov website and the 5 million health insurance company cancellation notices that have gone out to perhaps 5 million private insurances policy-holders of sub-standard policies.

Never mind that those policies didn’t cover things like hospital stays or operations.  And never mind that that there were other ways to sign up for the ACA/Obamacare besides the website.

Actually, the GOP is right.

Yeah, you read that correctly.  The conservatives in this country were right that Obamacare was flawed.  Involving the private for-profit health insurance industry, which they ABSOLUTELY insisted upon even though they STILL couldn’t manage to submit a single vote for the bill in 2009, was a BIG mistake.  Every other advanced country on Earth knew better than to involve private industry health care insurance companies because they knew that putting a for-profit basis into public safety compromises the very public safety one is trying to protect.

Every advanced country on Earth, that is, except this one.

Mind you, not everyone in the USA is blind to this fact, nor have they been for a very long time.  As far back as the Truman administration, the educated, informed and enlightened realized that public safety was a function of government that had to be above the for-profit motivation of free private capitalist marketeers.  In fact, President Eisenhower, a republican, warned Americans in the 1950′s to be watchful of the “military-industrial complex” whose primary purpose was not protection of the nation but self-propagation of its own profits and power.

When Obamacare was being debated during the 2008 presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton supported a universal health care plan that essentially would provide every American with complete health care from womb to tomb the same way that every citizen from every other advanced nation in the world is provided health care.

Republicans balked at this as “socialized medicine”, a government takeover of the individual’s healthcare, a massive tax hike, the responsible subsidizing the irresponsible, the end of private industry in the USA, etc., etc.  They claimed that America’s healthcare system was the greatest on Earth, even though tens of thousands of Americans declared bankruptcy every year because of healthcare costs,  tens of thousands of Americans died every year of preventable and curable health issues, millions of Americans had no health care coverage, millions of Americans went to hospital emergency rooms as their only source of health care, and then couldn’t pay their bills.  And by the way, who do you think ends up paying those bills for that extremely inefficient form of health care delivery?  That’s right, folks…ALL OF US.

In stepped Barack Obama with a plan for a sorta-kinda universal health care that covered everyone not already covered, as long as they filed an income tax return.  That was  the enforcement mechanism, i.e., you would be required to purchase PRIVATE FOR PROFIT healthcare insurance if you didn’t already have it, and if you didn’t, you’d be fined a paltry $95 on your income tax return.  That was Obamacare, and it preserved the private, for-profit health insurance companies.

Mind you, it carries a stipulation that these companies cannot profit beyond a certain percentage, and that if they begin to do so, they must rebate the surplus back to their customers.  There are also stipulations, good ones in fact, that prevent lifetime caps on insurance expenses, prevent the companies from dropping you if you get sick or have pre-existing conditions (such as being a female), allow you to stay on your parents’ plan to age 26, mandate coverage of preventative services such a mammograms, colonoscopies, lab work, mental illness services, etc.

But under other countries universal health care programs, these have existed forever.

Barack Obama has one monumental failing, albeit a very noble one.  He believes most people are good and noble and honest and intelligent and will listen to reason and evidence and data and merit.  He’s a good man that believes that if he honestly and honorably tries to meet the opposing side half way, the other side will honestly and honorably do the same.  He’s woefully wrong.

His attempt to find a civilized, intelligent, fair, compromising, inclusive solution blew up in his face because the other side had absolutely no intention of ever EVER working with him to implement ANY change to the archaic inefficient for-profit-based health-care system that the USA has suffered under since forever, and which every other advanced country in the world has left behind decades ago.

Obama will recover from this because more people will benefit than won’t.  But it didn’t have to be this way.

Tuesday’s Elections Shifted USA Left

Last Tuesday (November 5th, 2013), elections for governor were held in New Jersey and Virginia.  Additionally, a GOP primary runoff for a US congressional seat in Alabama was held, as well as a mayoral race in New York City.

Some factors influencing these races are pretty stable, such as geopolitics, e.g., New York City is a heavily democratic, or blue, city.  Yet, over the past 20 years, New Yorkers elected a republican mayor, Rudy Giuliani, and then an independent mayor, Michael Bloomberg.

New Jersey is also blue state.  Until recently, Virginia was considered predominantly red, while Alabama is about as red and conservative as one might be able to find in the USA.

These relatively stable geopolitical factors change very slowly over time as their populations change.  However, more volatile factors such as recent past or current events influence elections as well, some to a greater extent than others.  Take, for example, the seriously flawed and still not completed implementation of Obamacare (current) and the government shutdown and debt ceiling limit fight (recent events).

First, current (and ongoing) events:  Anyone paying attention is aware that the first five weeks of Obamacare’s implementation has been nothing short of disastrous, what with its cranky website, the unanticipated cancellation of millions of sub-standard policies and a myriad of other problems which have caught everyone by surprise.  The Obama administration has clearly lost some ground with the American people, as evidenced by recent polling declines in approval ratings, although they are slowly beginning to rise again as the healthcare.gov website improves.

Next, recent events:  The government shutdown and race to drive over the debt ceiling limit cliff by the GOP driven primarily by the Tea Party ultra-conservatives in the US House of Representatives.  These folks really believed their own rhetoric about how the whole country was behind them, right up to the moment the new debt ceiling limit passed and the government reopened.  Even then, Tea Party leaders such as Ted Cruz of Texas, Mike Lee of Utah, Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, Joe Barton of Texas, Steve King of Iowa and others were still advocating for a government default claiming that it would have been a good thing, when all of the GOP’s traditional backers such as Wall Street and US Chamber of Commerce were screaming for them to stop it.

So, back to Tuesday night’s elections.  In New Jersey, republican Governor Chris Christie won a huge re-election victory with 58% of the vote against a democratic in a democrat-leaning state.  He won by being a moderate mainstream establishment republican who publicly embraced president Obama during the superstorm Sandy recovery last year on national television before the 2012 presidential election.  He won by stating emphatically that he would work with anyone, regardless of political party, to get things done.  He clearly put distance between his brand of republicanism and the Tea Party’s extremist brand of republicanism.

In Virginia, the democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe was predicted to win over Tea Party conservative Ken Cuccinelli by 8 to 10 percentage points, but only won by less than 3%.  Obamacare’s problems lowered his win margin, just as the tea Party’s government self-destruction-plan a month earlier had raised that same margin.  Still, the Tea Party’s hope that hatred of Obamacare is the key to their maintaining control of the House of Representatives and taking control of the senate in the November 2014 mid-term elections less than a year from now seems to be more crack-pipe-dream than reality if they couldn’t even pull it off while Obamacare is at its lowest in a state like Virginia that currently has a republican governor and that even now must be considered a swing state such as Florida and Ohio.

And then there’s Alabama, where a mainstream, establishment GOP candidate beat a Tea Party candidate in a congressional primary.

Oh, don’t forget New York City, which elected its first democratic mayor in 20 years.

What all this says is that in the broad spectrum of political locales that held elections last Tuesday, the message was crystal clear and it was the same:

People have had enough of extremism and gridlock.  The pendulum is swinging back to the left after having swung way too far to the right.  And the future, barring any more unintended burps and gas-passing by the administration, might look something like this:

In the 2014 elections, the democrats will pick up perhaps 14 seats in the House. With 214 votes to the republicans’ 220, they will have enough, with just 3 or 4 moderate republicans blowing off the Tea Party extremists, to get stuff done.  In the Senate, the democrats will increase their numbers to 59.  With at least one moderate republican, there will be no filibuster, and stuff will get done.

THEN they will all be judged as to their governing skills, as opposed to their ability to emulate walls, for the 2016 elections.

Imagine that.  :)

Hey GOP: YES, Polls DO Matter!!

On of the credos of the republican party has historically been that polls don’t matter, and that real politicians don’t pay attention to them.  Perhaps the more accurate statement would be that real UNSUCCESSFUL politicians don’t pay attention to polls.

It also seems that the more extremist right wing these politicians become, the more they ignore what the polls are telling them and in fact everyone about their activities and behaviors when those activities and behaviors start becoming less and less popular among the average American voter.

Take, for instance, the recent US government shutdown and the idiotic flirtation with the debt ceiling limit by the GOP-controlled US House of Representatives, and more specifically, by the Tea Party faction of the GOP.

The republican party claimed it was doing what it was going to do because the people of the USA, based upon polls (which republicans historically don’t believe in!), were against Obamacare and “wanted it repealed”.  Of course, what republicans were not telling the American people was that as of September 29th, 2013, an CNN/ORC poll showed that only 39% of Americans were against Obamacare in any form and 38% favored it, while another 11% were against it because it doesn’t go far enough! So at least 49% either favored it or wanted it to be stronger!  That’s not the same thing as wanting it repealed, but the GOP couldn’t be bothered with such minute polling details.

The government shutdown took effect on October 1st and  multiple national polls showed that Americans blamed the GOP much more than they blamed president Obama or the democrats for the shutdown, even though the GOP tried hard to make it sound like it wasn’t their fault.  Only the low-information citizen was convinced.  The more informed, intelligent and educated American was paying attention and knew where the blame lay.  As of October 20th, 2013, the same CNN/ORC poll showed that the percent of Americans against Obamacare had dropped to 38% while the percent of those that either favored it or wanted it strengthened rose to a whopping 53%!!

As bad as these numbers indicated the GOP was misinterpreting the mood of the country and overplaying their hand while sailing on taking Ted Cruz’s “Strategic Cruise To Nowhere”, they continued to ignore those polls much like a person ignoring a 4-inch growth on the extreme right side of their nose.

The second week of the shutdown/debt limit ceiling confrontation ended and the debt limit ceiling drop dead date of October 17th began to loom a lot closer than anyone thought congress was crazy enough to allow it to.  The polls clearly showed that 75% of Americans did NOT want the nation to drive over the default cliff and DID want the debt ceiling increased prior to the default date.  Moderate republicans smelled their own blood in the water and broke away, but the more fanatical Tea Party lunatic fringe, with Ted Cruz, Michele Bachmann, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and a cast of selfish idiots was in control of the republicans in the House of Representatives.

As the deadline approached and it became clear that the House of Representatives could not pass a republicans-only bill on the debt-ceiling-limit increase, the senate took over, passed a clean bill, sent it over to the House and it passed with 198 democratic votes and 87 ? yea votes from republicans.

But 144 republicans voted NO!  They voted to not raise the debt ceiling and thus, not allow the US treasury to raise the money needed to pay for all the goods and services the congress has already appropriated money for and spent.  In other words, they voted to not pay bills for goods and items already bought.  By them.

Interestingly, the entire republican congressional delegation from Texas, where Ted Cruz is from, voted no.  These people, along with those listed about and others like Mike Lee from Utah form the core of the more radical extremists in the tea party movement.  They did not care who suffered as a result of the government shutdown or the flirt with the government debt default and in fact, they are totally without remorse for the damage they have done to anyone and anything, including their own party.  In fact  the refuse to acknowledge any damage, even thought the latest polls show that the nation thinks that the nation is worse off with a House of Representatives controlled by republicans:

from pollingreport.com

from pollingreport.com

Put another way, none other than a Fox News Poll on October 23rd found that 75% disapprove of republicans in congress and only 20% approve.

And finally, In what one might call the “reality check” that the tea party loves to ignore, when asked in a CNN/ORC poll if having a GOP-controlled House of Representatives was good or bad for the USA:

On December 18, 2012 :          Good: 51%  Bad: 43%

On October 20th, 2013:          Good: 38%  Bad 54%!!

Tea Party:  Keep doing what you’re doing.

For the rest of us:    Com’n, November 2014!!!!!!!!!      :)

Congress: Common Sense vs. the Brick Wall

October 9, 2013: the American government shutdown is 9 days old with no apparent end in sight.  More and more very important programs are coming to standstill such as veterans benefits, head-start programs, research and development programs,  and so forth.  Programs that benefit the poor are impacted.  And of this is because approximately 30 to 40 Tea Party republicans in the US house of representatives chose this very moment in the budgetary cycle when the USA would run out of funds to run the US government at the end of the fiscal year on September 30th, 2013, to make their last stand regarding Obamacare, more formally known as the Affordable care Act of 2010.

As bad as that might sound to anyone just tuning in, it’s really minor compared to the real threat looming on October 17th,  just 8 short days away.  That’s when the USA hits its debt limit, or the point where it cannot legally borrow any more money, either by floating bonds or by any other means, in order to have enough cash on hand to pay all of its debts on time.

Keep in mind that “debt” means incoming bills due on goods and services already appropriated by congress and purchased.  It is akin to you going out and buying a steak dinner on your credit card, and then the credit card bill arrives later for payment to arrive at the bank on a certain date.  If you don’t pay that bill on time (for the steak dinner you already bought and ate, keep in mind), you will have defaulted on your credit card debt. After a brief time period, your credit rating will be downgraded and the interest rate will be raised as a result.  Further defaults will further downgrade your credit rating and increase your payback interest.

John Boehner, the Speaker of the House, really didn’t want to be in the position he’s in, any more than many mainstream republicans that understand how stupid it was to play Russian roulette with a government shutdown over Obamacare.  But the lunatic Tea Party faction of the republican party is backed by very wealthy (and thus very powerful) people and groups such as the Koch brothers, whose nearly limitless financial contributions under the controversial Supreme Court ruling Citizens United   has allowed the Tea Party to blackmail mainstream republicans to support the Tea Party agenda (even if they disagree with it and/or the Tea Party tactics) to avoid facing an extremely-well-financed Tea party primary challenge for their congressional district seat.  It is political extortion at its worst, and is just another reason why the Tea Party is also known by increasing numbers of Americans (and others) as  the American Taliban:

And as much as Boehner didn’t want to herd these cats during the shutdown, he REALLY EVEN MORE doesn’t want to do so during the run-up to the debt ceiling limit drop-dead date.  But he, too, is under threat of losing his seat and his chairmanship to these political terrorists.  And interestingly, most of them aren’t even talking about Obamacare anymore.  They’re now demanding that the meat-cleaver sequester spending reductions that no one wanted, which have been in effect since March 2013, be further reduced by amounts equal to any increase in the debt ceiling before they will agree to raise the debt ceiling limit.  Oh, and don’t even think of raising taxes on the richest 1% (like the Koch brothers and other Tea Party financiers) or reducing government subsidies to the obscenely profitable petroleum industry.

Put another way, the American Taliban is demanding that in exchange for allowing the USA to pay its bills and maintain its credit rating and not possibly enter a new recession and not possibly damage the world economy in the process, it must reduce spending BELOW the already insanely low levels of the  sequester which already have eliminated such programs as meals on wheels for seniors, infrastructure projects, etc.   And if they get their way, maybe they’ll raise the debt ceiling for 90 days, and then we came play this game all over again.

President Obama, having gone through this exercise only two years ago, has rightfully decided that the US government should not be run by threat and extortion and has dug in.  The democrats in the senate and the house are united in this effort.  But the republicans are clearly divided.

The senate republicans aren’t playing at all.  And in the house, where all of this started, more and more mainstream republicans are realizing that if you can believe the polls, they’re probably doomed anyway in 2014 so better to do the right thing.  As of this writing, 21 republicans are ready to join 200 house democrats  and vote on a clean continuing resolution and an extension of the debt ceiling limit.  That’s 221 and they only need 217 votes for a majority.

Now if John Boehner can only resolve that he’s probably not gonna survive to be speaker either way…..AND CALL THE FRACKIN’ VOTE!!!

What fun.

The Ted Cruz Clown In the GOP Circus

Pop quiz time:

How many political parties are there in the USA?

If you answered “2″, you obviously thought the question asked how many “officially recognized” parties their are.  The correct answer to that question would indeed be “2″.  But the question suggested nothing about “official” parties.

The correct answer is that there are actually three distinct parties:

1.  Democrats, made up of moderate centrists through leftists social democrats.  They see government more as a friend than as an enemy and they believe that government serves functions that the individual cannot serve by himself or herself. Public safety issues fall under this classification.  They also believe the capitalism works best when it is will regulated to prevent abuse by the powerful against the powerless.

2.  Moderate Republicans, who often are not very different from moderate centrist democrats, although they tend to have more faith in the individual and more skepticism in government than their centrist democrat counterparts.  However, the moderate republicans are still pragmatic enough to accept that there are many functions that individuals cannot possibly accomplish by themselves. Thus, more often than not they will join with democrats to negotiate and comprise to produce solutions and programs that work for the greater good of all.  They tend to have more faith in free capitalism than democrats, but will still respond firmly with controls and corrections when burned by bad economic policies.

3.  Extremist right-wing republican pseudo-fascists, who are further subdivided into the anarchists, the Christian right, and the fruit loops (a combination of the anarchists and the Christian rightists).  These folks actually might be a new and distinct species of humanity, since the only characteristics that they share in common with mainstream democrats and republicans are the abilities to campaign and fund-raise.  But all similarities end there.

The anarchists, who prefer the label libertarians, believe in the absolute minimum amount of rules, laws, government, foreign relations, interactions, government programs, social programs, taxes, etc., and the absolute less the better.  The Christian right believes that that all rules, laws government programs, foreign relations, interactions, government & social programs, taxes, etc., must all be based upon the new testament, and the more, the better.  The fruit loops believe in BOTH, or a combination thereof.  In all cases, they all share one important priority:  “ME!

This third rail offshoot of the republican party is commonly known as the Tea Party, and its present darling (a title that seems to rotate like flavor of the month) is a freshman US senator from Texas, Ted Cruz.  Previous Tea Party favorites have been Sarah Palin, Michelle BachmannRand Paul and Todd Akin.

Texas is the state with the highest percentage of people, and the highest number of children with no health insurance of any of the 50 states of the USA.  It is also the state with the highest number of executions of any of the 50 states as well.  Cruz is about as opposed to any form of government-sponsored and/or government-assisted and/or government mandated health insurance as anyone can be.  That means he hates Obamacare.  And as a result, he decided he was going to shame his follow republicans in the senate into voting against the bill sent over by his GOP buddies in the House to defund Obamacare by babbling his brains out on the senate floor for 21 hours straight in a filibuster that really wasn’t because senate rules demanded he stop talking after 21 hours.  Did you get all that?

Translation:  He wanted everyone to vote against something he and they actually wanted.  So he spoke for 21 hours in a mock-filibuster that served no purpose and convinced no one.  In the end, he voted FOR what he wanted everyone, including himself, to vote against.

Weird, right?  But it gets much worse.

Ted Cruz, during his 21 hour on-the-job monologue which he claimed was “intended to save the taxpayer jobs and money”, spoke about Star Wars and Darth Vader, Saturday Night Live, Sean Connery, Chinese gooseberries, and the Bataan death march of World War 2.  He read from the bible and read two bedtime stories to his daughters including “Green Eggs and Ham” as well as other stuff, while earning his taxpayer-paid salary of $174,000 a year, which doesn’t include the taxpayer-paid salaries of his many supporting staffers in this meaningless political endeavor.

That Cruz then negated his own monumental waste of time and money and voted against his own proposed “no” vote was just icing on the circus cake, like  a clown who steps in the elephant droppings and then laughs at his own clumsiness.  The trouble is that the rest of the tea-flavored koolaid sipping fruit-loops think that the move is just part of some brilliant strategy that they can’t understand, which just reinforces to them just how brilliant it really is.

Ted Cruz is a fruit loop and fruit loops begat more fruit loops.   :(

 

 

Obama, Syria, & When Being Right Isn’t Enough

In the two weeks since the last We, the PEOPLE!!  a lot has happened regarding the threat of a surgical strike by a coalition of military forces led the the USA against Syria’s ability to deliver chemical weapons (CWs) against either its own people or anyone else.

First, in an incredibly close vote of 285  to 272, the British parliament narrowly defeated a bid by British prime minister David Cameron to join an international coalition in a limited surgical attack against the Syrian CWs capabilities Explaining why they refused to support the attack, a member of the opposition stated that they were still recovering from the UK being dragged into the Iraq war which was sold as quick in-and-out conflict to remove Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), consisting primarily of nuclear materials and perhaps even biological materials by faulty and manipulated intelligence which was submitted to the UK.

US president Obama, realizing that his razor-thin international coalition might collapse without UK participation, decided to submit the issue to the US congress for their support and approval.  That was a bold move, considering that France was the only other nation able to militarily support an attack on Syria with substantial assets alongside the USA.  After all, even though more that 2 dozen other nations supported actions against the Syrian regime and its use of CWs against innocent men, women and children (more than 400 of whom were killed by what is now known to have been sarin gas attacks), those nations are not equipped to provide much in the way of effective military support for a sophisticated surgical strike with a narrow but intense and extremely focused objective.

It was a gutsy move on Obama’s part and to some extent a baffling one.  It was also unexpected, as was the British parliament’s refusal to join the party. The initial belief of the experts and the pundits was that Obama would go it alone or with France.  But when he pivoted and punted the ball over to the congress, the initial belief was that congress would forget partisan politics on this issue and this issue only, and support the officer of the US president against the atrocities committed by a brutal dictator.

Remember for one moment why Obama came out swinging to begin with:  The Russians, who are one of five permanent members on the UN Security Council, made it clear they would veto any proposal to hold Syria accountable for using CWs, and in fact, they supported the ridiculous premise that it was the rag-tag rebels who had used them.  They also claimed that Syria’s Assad did not even possess CWs.

Even when Obama sent the issue to congress for their approval, he never specifically said that he would not act if they voted against action.  That was key, because after that event the Russian and perhaps even the Syrians cooked up a plan whereby Syria’s CWs would be placed under international control (to be ultimately destroyed).  Russia thus de facto admitted that Syria did indeed possess CWs (and therefore de facto admitted that the Syrian government under Assad was the logical origin of the August 21st CWs attack).  Furthermore, Russia got Syria to agree to sign the latest international anti-CWs protocols, joining the rest of the international community in swearing off CWs.

It’s really hard to believe that any of this would have happened if the USA hadn’t rattled the sabre as it did.

But to back up just a skosh, or a scintilla, or a nano-moment, before the Russians blinked…when Obama took the issue to congress:

As time wore on, the patina of “us vs. them” wore off and was replaced with “us vs. them vs. you vs. us vs you and forget about them”.  People began to retreat back into their familiar zones of comfort.  More and more republicans (you remember, the folks who brought us Afghanistan and Iraq?) signed onto the “Let’s stay out of this one” list.

And while this was happening, back in the middle of the homeland (Missouri, to be exact), the republican state legislature passed a state bill (vetoed by the the democratic governor) that prohibited federal agents from enforcing federal gun control laws in Missouri…to protect the US second amendment from federal interference!   That veto is being submitted to the legislature for a possible veto overturning vote.

Yep!  You read it right.  Republicans, in order to protect the sanctity of the national constitution, will pass state laws nullifying national laws.  And republicans, in order to protect the world against weapons of mass destruction that do not exist, will embroil the USA and its allies in 2 10-year-+ wars at the same time.

But to protect children from chemical weapons attacks that are proven to have taken place, and to protect our own troops from the possibility of those same CWs being used against them at some future date?

Not if it was Obama’s idea.

 

Should USA Attack Syria?

So far, the 21st century is nothing to crow about in the annals of human history.

It started in its very first instant of existence with the threat of wiping out the planet’s computer systems, and more specifically the data and operating systems on those computers, because many of them had been designed without the capability to count time past 11:59:59pm, December 31st, 1999.  The feared forthcoming Armageddon was known simply as Y2K (year 2000), which was short for the fact that no accommodation had been built into those operating systems to provide for the century change from 19xx to 20xx, and those systems would thus cease to function at midnight plus one nanosecond, January 1st, 2000.

It was a dud.

Nothing adverse happened to better than 99.99999% of the world’s computers.  On January 1st, 2000, life just kept on running along, albeit slowed perhaps by just a wee bit too much partying.

But Y2K was a harbinger of more destructive and violent events to follow.  Only 21 short months later, 9-11 and its resulting invasion of Afghanistan by the USA (and some much lesser efforts by some allies) happened.  Then the US invaded Iraq in March 2003 and stayed until December 2011, leaving a dysfunctional quasi-democratic state in its wake while removing a big obstacle against Iran, a US adversary.

Next came the Arab Spring in December 2010.  What started with peaceful protests by Arab citizens in various Arab nations in Africa and the middle east (Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria) seeking democratic governments to replace dictatorships ended up in new Islamists governments and subsequent bloodshed and turmoil in most of them.

The last one, Syria, never even got to the new government phase. Instead, the Assad regime which has controlled Syria for many decades (a father and then son affair) decided to not yield to the pressures that the other three Arab governments had yielded to, and instead fought back with strong military force against its own people.

That conflict has been going on now for two years and has killing over 100,000 people.  While the anti-government Syrian rebels scored a large number of initial military successes against Assad’s superior fighting forces, pro-Assad forces won back many of the initial rebel gains.

One type of munitions used by the Assad regime was a WMD (weapon of mass destruction):  chemical weapons.  These include nerve agents that shut down breathing and heart functions and chemicals that burn skin, eyes and lungs.  Chemical weapons have been outlawed by global treaties.  Their use and even their storage are violations of international law.  But Assad still purportedly used these several times against both rebels and innocent civilians in his own country.

The US/NATO coalition fighting the Afghan war and the Iraqi war took a hands off approach to what had now become a Syrian civil war.  In the USA, with the exception of some hawkish extremist right wing folks who want to kill all foreigners everywhere, no one is in the mood for another American military action.  Enough already, right?

Additionally, a number of bad policy decisions were carried out by the Bush administration:  Torturing detainees after 9-11, public abuse and private torture of prisoners at the military prison at Abu Ghraib, Iraq, extraordinary rendition (kidnapping prisoners and sending them overseas to be tortured), and other crimes against humanity committed by Americans with authority  These policies and actions, while no longer practiced, have all rendered the credibility of the USA a bit less than Sterling in the eyes of the world.  Thus, were the USA to unilaterally bomb Syrian military assets in the name of protection of human rights, that might be seen cynically by many in the world.  In fact, there was a warning about this every eventuality leveled by more enlighten folks back when those shameful actions were occurring.  And although the USA now has a completely different administration, the actions of the previous administration don’t just disappear from the USA’s record.  Nor should they.

Conscious of all these factors, the Obama administration has wisely delayed any action against the Assad regime in retaliation for violating global treaties against the stockpiling and use of chemical weapons.  It knows it has to first provide proof that chemical weapons were used and also proof of who actually used them.  Then it has to form a coalition of other like-minded countries to join in any military retaliatory action against the Assad regime.  This must occur while circumventing the UN Security Council,   because both Russia and China, whom have supported Assad in the past, are likely to veto any plan to attack the Assad regime in any way on the UN Security Council.

Finally, military action must be surgical, shift and effective, most likely in a single multinational strike that reduces or completely eliminates Assad’s ability to use chemical weapons in the future.  It might even shut down his command ,control and communication capabilities as a signal to him.

It must NOT be about regime change.  Simply attack and leave.

The Israelis have been doing this for years.  We need to learn from them.

 

Bizarre Birther Boomerang Bedevils the GOP

Just when you thought that the whole “birther” issue, which which right-wingers attempted to use against president Obama during his first term, was finally put to bed for all but the most extremist “Flat Earth” believers, it rears its ridiculously bejeweled head yet again.  Only this time, “Birther, The Sequel” is none other than one of the Tea Party’s rising stars, ultra-conservative republican senator Ted Cruz from Texas.

Cruz, a first-term senator, took office in January 2013.  He’s already made a name for himself by advocating shutting down the government by refusing to raise the debt ceiling by September 30, 2013, to force the total defunding of Obamacare.  More moderate republicans have actually come out and publicly distanced themselves from Cruz’s government shutdown plan, since they are wise enough to understand that the first casualty in any such shutdown will be the republican party.

Cruz also opposes any from of gun control, same-sex marriage, and significantly, immigration reform.  Thus, it’s fair to say that he is probably more right-wing than 95% of his own party’s senators and congressmen.

The birther issue actually began in modern times against Barack Obama, when some extremist put a story on the internet claiming that Obama’s middle name was “Mohammed”.  Even after his birth certificate from Hawaii was released (the first time), other extremists began alleging that the certificate was false and that Obama was actually born in Kenya to a Kenyan father. That, they claimed, made Obama ineligible to run for president of the USA, because one must be a “natural born American citizen” to run for that office.

That Obama’s mother was an American was never disputed.  That’s very important, as you’ll note further down.

As a fast-moving rising star among the most extremist right wing base of the GOP, Ted Cruz has already dropped hints about possibly (probably) running for president of the USA in 2016.  Unfortunately for him and his plans, in what could be the most classic case of “what goes around comes around” within the past 100 years, it appears that certain entities, not the least of which are extremist right wingers, are raising questions about Ted Cruz’s eligibility to run for president.

You see…Ted Cruz was born in Canada, of a Cuban father and an American mother.

Once this became publicly known, ultra-right-wing author Ann Coulter and ultra-right wing gazillionaire Donald Trump made public statements alleging that Cruz is not a natural born citizen.  As a result, he would not be eligible to become president of the USA.  They claim that if Cruz was born in Canada, he cannot be a “natural-born citizen” of the USA..

Interestingly, John McCain, the republican presidential candidate in 2008, was born in the Panama Canal Zone, which, while under US control at the time, was still part of Panama.  But McCain’s father and mother were both American citizens.  As a result, and in accordance with the US constitution and federal law, John McCain was born an American citizen, making him “natural born”.

So let’s see:  Ted Cruz: born in Canada; father Cuban; mother American.

Barack Obama: born in Hawaii, USA; father Kenyan; mother American.

But even if Obama was born in Kenya (as the lunatics still allege), wouldn’t he have then been in the same category as the ultra-right wing Cruz?

To be clear, constitutional scholars are unanimous that Cruz is a “natural born American citizen”.  Thus, that would mean that Obama, EVEN IF he had been born in Kenya, would ALSO be a “natural born American citizen”.  The key is that both of their mothers were American.

That Obama was actually and verifiably born in Hawaii renders the whole argument moot anyway….UNLESS you’re a member of the “Flat Earth Society” or another similarly illogical group…like republicans.  But there is a certain poetic justice occurring here with Cruz…don’cha think?

But wait!  There’s MORE!!!!

The film divisions (not the news divisions) of both NBC and CNN are producing what are described as biographical documentaries about Hillary Clinton.  This has absolutely terrified the GOP because of the possibility (probability?…one can hope…) that Hillary might run for president in 2016.  Consider that the GOP is presently waging civil war against itself, what with moderates  like Chris Christie battling libertarians like Rand Paul.  Both are battling ultra-conservatives (like Ted Cruz) who are sucking up to the more extreme fringes of the already fringe Tea Party. Against this backdrop Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus recently warned CNN and NBC that if they broadcast these Hillary Clinton biographies, the GOP will boycott both TV channels, excluding them from covering the 20 (or 100) 2016  republican presidential debates!

Yep!  Priebus put his foot down.  Those ultra-liberal press outlets won’t be allowed to broadcast the lunatic fringe debates to any swing voters who like those two TV stations!

Priebus’s message is clear:  “Don’t can’t screw with the GOP!!!!”

You just can’t make this stuff up, folks.

GOP: At War with Everything, Including ITSELF!

The nation’s unemployment rate continues to improve. Obamacare has already saved lives and caused health care premiums to go DOWN in places such as New York State.  The stock market continues to break new high records weekly. The housing market continues to improve by leaps and bounds. The deficit has been cut in half.  American consumer confidence continues to rise.

All things considered, including the fact that all of this is happening during the second presidential term of a democrat, one might think that republicans would see the handwriting on the wall and realize that the GOP of President Dwight D. Eisenhower is probably where today’s republican party needs to go if it wants to remain relevant.

However, this is not your grandfather’s republican party.  The group in control of the GOP, known as the Tea Party, is far different from anything that would have passed for republican 5o years ago.  In fact, except for the racial extremism that had historically marked many elected officials from the deep south, this group 50 years ago would probably been identified as fascist infiltrators.

The Tea Party believes that both the federal government and taxes should be at an absolute minimum.    They believe that there is no such thing as too much military or too much military spending, an exception to their “limited federal government” philosophy.  They think that Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other social safety net programs such as food stamps are nothing more than give-away programs that should be summarily eliminated.  They realize that they could never accomplish such a thing in one fell swoop, so they propose “changes’, which are primarily focused on starving the programs to death and transferring whatever is left to private for-profit corporations.

And finally, they believe that unbridled, unregulated free market capitalists should be allowed to operate in any fashion they so desire.  There should be no minimum wage laws because market forces can be depended upon to take care of that.  There should not safety regulations, because that interferes with corporate profits, and interference with profits means less trickle-down gains (crumb’s actually) for the lower classes.  There should be no limits on the harvesting of natural resources and no limits on corporate plans and deals.  Again, the interference thing.

The Tea Party is also heavily populated by people who believe that there is no such thing as a separation of church and state.  They believe that the 1st amendment to the US constitution guaranteeing freedom of religion does NOT mean that people are also guaranteed freedom FROM religion.  As a result, they believe that their personal version of Christianity should be  the major player in whatever government is still allowed to exist.

Over the past several years the Tea Party has consolidated political power primarily via the near-limitless funding of very large, wealthy corporations run by free market fanatics such as the Koch brothers.  As a result, the more moderate factions within the republican party began to take these folks seriously.   In fact, as the Tea Party’s power grew, they issued ultimatums to their fellow republicans to “tow the Tea Party line or else” face a primary challenge during the next election.  For members of the US House of Representatives, elections come around every two years, so the threat of a primary challenge was urgent.  Even members of the US senate facing re-election every 6 years consider threat very real.

Thus, since the mid-term elections of 2010, the Tea Party has become more and more reckless in their pursuit of “shrinking the government to a size that they can “drown in the bathtub“, as well as wrap their compacted government in their religious dogma  To achieve their goals they formulated a war strategy, declaring:

  • War on social safety net programs;
  • War on the environment;
  • War on renewable energy;
  • War on progress;
  • War on the poor;
  • War on immigrants;
  • War on students;
  • War on minorities;
  • War on Gays;
  • War on Muslims;
  • War on government;
  • War on education;

And, lest we forget…

  • War on Women.

The Tea Party has succeeded in having the US government’s credit rating reduced as a result of their idiotic debt ceiling debacle of 2011.  Now they’re threatening a repeat when the US government faces a similar debt ceiling issue later in 2013.

However, while exuding overconfidence, the Tea Party has failed to acknowledge that many Americans, including traditional republicans, are fed up with their unrealistic ultra-conservative views.  When Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) recently threatened another debt ceiling crisis to shut down the government unless the senate agreed to defund Obamacare, many republicans went on record emphatically stating this was a stupid idea.

Lee has since recanted (sort of) , but the handwriting is finally and clearly on the wall.   The Tea Party’s new “War on republicans” brings within reach a turnover of power in the US House of Representatives in 2014 to democrats.

We’ll be watching…and hoping.

 

While America Watches Zimmerman, the GOP Schemes

It’s the middle of July.  Summer is half over.  Millions are on vacation.  For some unfathomable reason, some people seem to think that news reporting is on vacation as well.  That’s no surprise since the George Zimmerman trial seems to be taking up ALL of the news channels’ daytime reporting these days.

Considering the mega-multichannel live TV coverage, one would think they were actually broadcasting the first human landing on Mars!

Those people are just relaxing in front of meaningless reality TV while becoming even less informed than they were before!

It is thus no surprise that the GOP and the religious right can convince so many people that their views on such things as that “hoax known as global warming” (caused, as many will attest, by same-sex marriage) and the God-given incapacity of women to make proper decisions about their own bodies, are correct.  After all, isn’t determining who was on top of whom longer (Trayvon Martin or George Zimmerman)  more important than passing job legislation or funding cancer research?  Or put another way, wouldn’t most people would rather watch lawyer-porn on TV than legislative debates and votes on C-SPAN?

There are approximately 13,000 murders in the USA every year.  Within that context the fixation of many people with the Zimmerman murder trial over all others defies logical explanation.  But while they’re hypnotized by the trial lawyers and witnesses talking in slow motion on their TVs, other events have been, and are, occurring which in the long run are much more important and impactful to life on planet Earth:

  • Edward Snowden, the leaker of the NSA surveillance policies, may end up in Venezuela, which has offered him asylum;
  • The pilots of Asiana 214, which crashed in San Francisco, claim they thought the auto-throttle was engaged to keep them from going too slow;
  • New pro-gun-carrying laws have passed in several states, allowing, for instance, guns in bars!  
  • Texas democratic state senator Wendy Davis stopped the religious-right-wing Texas GOP from eliminating most abortion clinics in Texas…for now.
  • The GOP successfully filibustered in the US senate today, blocking a democratic proposal to reverse the doubling of student loan interest rates.
  • The GOP-controlled US House of Representatives will hold hearings claiming Obama cannot delay one provision of Obamacare (employer-provided health insurance) for a year. (!!)

Yeah, you read that right.  The GOP is screaming that President Obama, whose executive branch of government oversees the implementation and enforcement of Obamacare, cannot delay enforcement of fines and penalties against any employer of 50 or more workers that does not provide health insurance to its employees.  The delay was announced last week as a result of businesses complaining that they did not understand all the complexities in the law and therefore could not possibly comply with the initial January 2014 implementation date.  The Obama administration accepted the complexity argument and agreed to a one-year delay in implementation of that complex provision.  The GOP, smelling blood in the water, decided to attempt to embarrass the administration, claiming that the individual mandate provisions, which the US Supreme Court found to be constitutional last year, should also be delayed a year.

Of course, that one-year delay in the mandate would bring the nation past the next mid-term election in November 2014, during which the GOP hopes regain control of the senate while maintaining its majority in the House of representatives.  If they succeed, they would vote in both houses to abolish Obamacare completely before it has been fully implemented.  And although Obama would veto such a bill, the republicans would hope to override any such veto, or preserve the issue until the next presidential election in 2016.

If you’re wondering when the GOP-controlled house is going to pass immigration reform, or a jobs bill, or an infrastructure repair and rebuilding bill, or a realistic compromise budget, or the farm bill, wonder no more.  The expectation that the house will do anything other than obstruct everything passed by the senate for the next 18 months is a sure bet.  And why?  Because the ultra-religious-right-wing base of the “new but not-improved” GOP demands absolutely NO compromise with democrats or even with the ever-shrinking number of moderates in their own GOP.

So while Americans sit glued to their TVs like crack addicts, watching the “Court TV for REAL” supplied all day long by all the major broadcast and news networks as though they were dealing crack, national and world events go largely unnoticed by the addicted masses and their suppliers.  REAL news junkies are forced to plug into what remains of the news outlets:  AP, BBC, Bloomberg, C-SPAN, and the international news outlets.

Shame on you, CNN.  Shame on you, MSNBC.  We expect this from HLN and Faux Noise, but watching the premier stations  sink to this low level is disgusting.

Your program directors need to watch “The Newsroom” on HBO.  Maybe then they’ll remember what’s important, and what isn’t, in the news.   :(