Friday, June 29, 2012

The ACA Stands!

On Thursday, June 28, the Supreme Court announced their decision to allow the Affordable Care Act to stand largely as written. 

what eye thynk: I have to say that I was having a particularly horrible day yesterday but when it was announced that the Supreme Court had upheld the ACA, I felt a lot better. 

People like my youngest nephew, who has never been able to get health insurance because of a pre-existing condition, will finally be treated equally with those of us lucky enough to be healthy.

I still think the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision is particularly malodorous, but they have regained some respect with their ACA ruling. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Is Our Supreme Court for Sale?

Montana set limits on corporate spending in state elections in the early 1900s when it became apparent that the state’s copper robber barons had essentially replaced Montana democracy with a buy-yourself-a-politician form of government. Montana, fearing that the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United case would undo nearly a century of fairness in state elections, asked the Supreme Court to revisit their ruling. The Supreme Court refused to even hear arguments.

what eye thynk: Right now, if you are a member of the one percent, the Supreme Court has gifted you with your own personal chess board in the form of the U.S. political system, allowing you to purchase your own pack of politicians and to position them in any way you choose--no rules required.

The Supreme Court’s blindness to the damage they are causing is incredibly arrogant and frighteningly naive.

Their original ruling stated that corporations were people too and that independent expenditures would not give rise to corruption or even give the appearance of corruption. Really? How insulated from the real world are they that they can believe this would be true?

Citizens United was written to require that independent contributions would be disclosed; but today, the biggest donations are easily being hidden inside groups calling themselves “social welfare” organizations which grants them tax free status while leaving them free to use their resources to influence elections on all levels. This past April, a federal judge in Maine, (obviously more savvy than those serving on the Supreme Court), “outed” such a group. Details here:

Today we have people like Sheldon Adelson giving $10M to the Super PAC Restore Our Future in support of Mitt Romney while stating that he is willing to spend $100M or “whatever it takes” to defeat President Obama. He has told colleagues that he will keep further contributions under wraps by channeling his money into non-profit, (read "phoney social welfare" groups) so as to avoid controversy.

I’m not denying Mr. Adelson his right to an opinion or his right to spend every penny he has in an attempt to achieve his personal goals, but his blatant declaration that he will circumvent the Supreme Court’s intentions by washing his millions through illegal non-profit groups is an open and clear disregard for the law of this land…one that the Supreme Court is choosing to ignore thus invalidating their contention that Citizens United is an uncorruptible, fair and equal decision.

Justice Stephen Breyer said in his dissenting statement that campaign spending since 2010 “casts grave doubt on the court’s supposition that independent expenditures do not corrupt or appear to do so”. Well at least someone is paying attention.

The Supreme Court’s majority decision to ignore the corruption that is proliferating around their Citizens United ruling makes me wonder exactly how much it costs to buy a Supreme Court judge.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Michigan, the State that Made "Vagina" Into a Four-Letter Word

No Monday Quote this week; I thought I’d share this instead...

Last Thursday, Michigan State Representative Lisa Brown (D) was barred from speaking on the House floor as punishment for using the word “vagina” the previous day while speaking out against a proposed anti-abortion bill. Her exact words were “"I'm flattered you're all so concerned about my vagina. But no means no." Republican State Representative Mike Callton found Ms. Brown’s comments “offensive“, going on to say “I don’t even want to say it in front of women. I would not say that in mixed company”.

what eye thynk: I actually feel a little sorry for Mike Callton. He appears to have the same emotional/sexual maturity of your average twelve year old; you know, the ones who can’t say “it” out loud so they giggle over some smutty euphemism instead.

As Representative Brown said in a later interview, “If I can’t say vagina, why are we legislating vaginas? What word should I use?” It should be pointed out that the 50 page anti-abortion bill that she was debating, (and which eventually passed the House 70-39), uses the word “vagina” three times in the text. Perhaps Mr. Callton’s staff had the word redacted from his copy of the bill so as to save him from such distressing exposure?

As a side note, State Representative Barb Byrum, (D) also found herself barred from speaking after she tried to introduce an amendment to the same anti-abortion bill that would have banned vasectomies unless the man’s life was at risk. (Apparently she didn’t get the memo that, in today's political arena, birth control is to be considered a female-only issue. The sanctity of male freedom to choose is not open for debate.)

Someone needs to explain to Representative Callton that, while he may be offended by the word, it is really just a word…like penis…or idiot.

Monday, June 18, 2012

June 18 - Monday Quote

And we can thank our Supreme Court and their Citizens United decision for making things worse than President Wilson could ever have imagined...

monday quote:  The government, which was designed for the people, has got into the hands of the bosses and their employers, the special interests. An invisible empire has been set up above the forms of democracy. (Woodrow Wilson, President, 1856-1924)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Forget Economic Oversight - Just Make Sure There Are Enough Pencils!

This is an addendum to my post of Sunday, June 10. 

Before leaving Washington for this week’s recess, the House of Representatives passed judgment on a few more important pieces of legislation. They voted to reduce the budget for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, refused to budget funds for the Securities and Exchange Commission that are needed to carry out the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill and cut funds that had been designated for repairs on the Capitol dome. They also passed a piece of legislation increasing their individual office budgets.

what eye thynk: So the Republican led house wants to nix any new oversight on the stock market or banking industries, effectively allowing them to operate in the same way that brought about our 2008 economic meltdown.

At least when the country implodes and the Capitol dome falls on their heads, our Representatives will have enough paper clips. 

I feel better already.

Monday, June 11, 2012

June 11 - Monday Quote

This week's quote is dedicated to the "One Percent" and the members of our government who are owned by them.

monday quote: Democracy is when the indigent, and not the men of property, are the rulers. (Aristotle, philosopher, 384 BC - 322 BC)

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Congress - Are We Getting Our Money's Worth?

Next week is the twenty-fifth week of 2012 and Congress will be adjourning for their fifth week-long recess. In preparation for their week off, the House of Representatives rushed to pass some new legislation designed to enhance their conservative credentials but destined to die on the congressional scrap heap.

what eye thynk: Why do these people even bother coming to work? Or better yet, why do we bother to pay them? Maybe we should begin to consider our congressmen to be piece workers--pass a piece of legislation that can get through both houses of Congress and that the President will sign and we’ll cut you a paycheck. I’d be willing to bet we’d see them working more than 20% of the time. They would most certainly have to stop wasting time passing bills that are designed only to be eye-candy for the far right. They may even learn to listen to other opinions and (gasp!) rediscover the art of compromise!

The latest round of silliness includes a Republican sponsored bill that prohibits the creation of any new federal regulations until unemployment goes below 6 percent. This is just a skewed way of saying “We don’t care about worker safety, the environment, job equality or anything that may impede the corporate double-time march to godhood“. (It would, however, be interesting to see how that no-new-regulations idea could be applied to all those abortion road-blocks of which the Republicans are so proud.)

Last Thursday, the Republican controlled House voted to repeal an important part of the Affordable Care Act by voting to remove the requirement that companies selling more than $5M in medical devices pay a higher tax on their earnings. This tax money was intended to subsidize health insurance for those who fall into the lowest income brackets. The House bill will not even be taken up by the Senate, the fact of which the Republicans were well aware even as they preened for their conservative homeys.

At the same time, the House refuses to consider any legitimate or useful legislation like the transportation bill which is designed to help the economy by creating millions of new jobs while rebuilding our aging infrastructure. But NOT helping the economy is their real purpose here. The Republican party has completely lost sight of reason. They have become so focused on the goal of defeating the Democrats that they have abandoned any semblance of governing--and governing is their job, it is what we, as citizens pay them to do.

How long to you think Romney would have employed a private sector worker he hired to paint a yellow line down the middle of the highway if that worker instead spent all his time pulling weeds along the berm? But this is exactly what the Republican controlled House is doing while conservatives rain kudos down on their congressional heads, never noticing that the highway, with its missing center line has become a million car pile-up.

I’m sick of being treated like a dandelion. It is time to hire a Congress that will keep their hands on the paint brush and off the Round-Up. Is anyone with me? 

Monday, June 4, 2012

June 4 - Monday Quote

Last week was busy.  I started rehearsals for Damn Yankees at Porthouse Theatre which means I'll be at the theatre six days a week until the show closes at the end of the month.  Then I get a week off before starting rehearsals for the next show which will take me through the middle of August.  Postings may be light for a while, but that doesn't mean I'm not thinking.

And while we're talking about thinking...

monday quote:  Sponges grow in the ocean. That just kills me. I wonder how much deeper the ocean would be if that didn't happen. (Steven Wright, Comedian, 1955-   )

Friday, June 1, 2012

When Is a Felon Worth More Than a Soldier? Ask a Republican!

Under current U.S. law, if a female inmate at a federal prison is raped and becomes pregnant and wants to end the pregnancy, she will receive a government financed abortion. If a female civilian military employee is raped, becomes pregnant and wants to end the pregnancy, she can use her government insurance to pay for the abortion. If a serving female soldier is raped and becomes pregnant and wants to end the pregnancy, she must pay for the abortion herself.

what eye thynk: This just illustrates how far off the track of good sense and reason the Republican party has wandered.

Last week three Republican Senators, John McCain (Arizona), Scott Brown (Massachusetts) and Susan Collins (Maine) voted with all but one of the Democrats on the Armed Services Committee to add a provision to the National Defense Authorization Act that would remove the payment requirement. Nine other Republicans along with one Democrat, Ben Nelson (Nebraska), voted to leave the payment requirement intact.

The Senate is expected to pass the NDAA with the provision included. The Republican led House will present a version of the NDAA that excludes the provision.

What possible logic can the House Republicans be using to support paying for an abortion for a prison inmate while denying the same right to a woman who has chosen to defend her country? What country grants a right to their criminals while denying their soldiers that same right?  What a slap in the face of the freedom these women are serving to protect!

There is no reasonable explanation for the exclusion of this provision other than to feed the frenzied maw of the conservative, right wing, religious nutcases who are currently leading the Republican party around by their noses.