Sunday, June 30, 2013

Quick Fact: Rick Perry and Wendy Davis Trade Post-filibuster Jabs

Texas Governor Rick Perry and state Senator Wendy Davis traded jabs this past week after Senator Davis' filibuster stopped Governor Perry from getting a restrictive abortion bill passed that he had supported.

Ms. Davis was once a single mother of 19 and living in a trailer park with her infant daughter. She went on to finish college and law school before becoming a state Senator.  Mr. Perry told the media that he thought Ms. Davis should learn from her own example as a teen mother who kept her baby and still managed to move on to a successful career.

Ms. Davis replied that her success was possible because of the help she got from Planned Parenthood.  (Texas recently passed a budget that banned any funds for Planned Parenthood's contraceptive services.)

"The Planned Parenthood clinic on Henderson Street in Fort Worth was my sole source of health care for four or five years when I was a young adult.  Consider a 19 year old single mom who wants to be smarter about her family planning so she can go to school and move forward with her career.  Had I not had those services available to me I would not be standing where I am today."
Take that, Governor.  
Texas-- the state that cuts off funds used to provide contraception assistance to poor women and now wants to ban abortion.  What could possibly go wrong?

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Eye Recommend --- Bob Schieffer Gives Congress a Badly Needed Reality Check...


Mr. Barr writes about what he calls "an epic smackdown" of Congress given by Bob Schieffer on Face the Nation last Sunday.  (Any underlines are mine.)

In his remarks, Mr. Schieffer gave special attention to the House's inability to pass a Farm Bill that everyone said they wanted to see pass.  
"House Republican leaders thought they had the votes to pass the bill, but 60 Republicans suddenly turned on their leaders because they thought federal programs needed to be cut even more.  They joined forces with a group of Democrats who opposed the bill, because they thought the programs had been cut too much.  So the whole thing collapsed, nobody got anything and nothing got done--a sentence you could use to describe most Capitol Hill weeks...There are some exceptions, but many House members especially have come to live in a world unknown and disconnected to the rest of us.  They work 3 days a week, they take long and frequent vacations and busy themselves with things that have no connection to the rest of us--fundraising to ensure reelection, traveling, issuing press releases and more fundraising.  But nothing that affects the rest of us ever seems to get done.  It's obvious they want to be something--a member of Congress.  But when I came to Washington, most members wanted to do something.  When did that go out of style?" 
Mr. Barr goes on to call Mr. Schieffer one of the "smartest people in TV news" and points out what congressional Republicans have focused on:  "attempting to repeal Obamacare 37 times (at a cost to taxpayers of around $55 million), unconstitutional abortion bans that seek to skirt around Rove v. Wade, demonizing food stamp recipients and refusing to pass a single jobs bill.

Of course, they've also been focused on pushing scandal after scandal in the hopes that one will stick.  First it was Benghazi, which we later found out they had purposefully passed off edited emails as fact to try to make the Obama administration look bad.  Then we have the IRS scandal, which Darrell Issa knew wasn't a scandal from the beginning...(Congressional Republicans have) proven that they don't care what the public wants and they only seem concerned with pushing the agendas of their corporate overlords."

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Bob Schieffer and Thomas Barr--telling it like it is.

Friday, June 28, 2013

The Voter Rights Act Becomes a Hollow Specter of Itself

The 1965 Voting Rights Act is seen by many as the crown jewel of the civil rights movement.  Earlier this week--before Supreme Court's DOMA decision--the Supreme Court struck down the federal enforcement clause in the Voting Rights Act.

what eye thynk:    Technically, the Voting Rights Act still stands; but the Supreme Court has taken away any ability to enforce it on the federal level, leaving states to police themselves.  In reading their decision, it seems that the majority based their opinion on the fact that the Voting Rights Act has done so much good that oversight is no longer needed. (They also believed that big money wouldn't corrupt the election process in this country and we all know how THAT turned out.)

It should be obvious to any reasonable person that removing federal enforcement does not alter the essence of the law.  Any action that was unlawful in 2012 with federal oversight would be equally unlawful in 2013 without it...but southern Republican run states will never be found guilty of being reasonable.

Without the threat of federal oversight, our southern states are already rushing to undo any of the good done since 1965.  Several have already voiced their intention to re-instate voter I.D. laws that were deemed unfair to minorities and blocked by the Department of Justice last year.  

Texas has announced that their current redistricting map will be immediately replaced by their original redistricting map which was drawn in secret last year by white members of the state legislature without notifying black or Hispanic members.  Under this old/new map, Democratic legislators will suddenly find themselves in strongly Republican districts while their Democratic base has been shifted to a Republican's district.  One minority legislator will find his district encompasses two lily-white country clubs while his low income community center--a strong base of minority voting power--is now isolated in a mostly white district.   

In fairness, it has to be pointed out that our southern states and Republicans are not the only ones guilty of prejudicial redistricting.  Northern and Democratic run states do the same thing in their own favor, though I wonder if they are so obviously anti-minority.  I firmly believe that redistricting should not be under the jurisdiction of whatever party currently holds the majority.  It should be based solely on "how many" not "who" lives in any geographic area and any changes should be administered by a solely independent entity.  Letting politicians design political districts is never going to be completely fair--no matter which party is in charge. 

Texas will, of course, be re-instituting its own voter I.D. requirements.  Is your only photo I.D. an expired gun license from another state?  That's fine.  You'll be permitted to vote in Texas.  Want to vote using a student I.D. card? Sorry, that is not an acceptable form of identification.  To obtain a state photo I.D., you will have to produce your birth certificate and pay a fee. Students born out of state will have to prove that they are legal residents of Texas.  (It is not clear whether student housing will be accepted as proof of residency.)   Offices that will be permitted to issue state voter I.D.s will be few and located within mostly white city centers.

And so begins the age of states policing themselves.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg said it best in her dissenting opinion:

I give the Supreme Court a score of 1:1 this week.  They moved our LGTB community one enormous step forward, but sent our minority citizens back to the last century.  

Thursday, June 27, 2013

DOMA is Dead - Day Two

what eye thynk:   Perfect!

The Republican War on Women -- The Battle for Texas Continues

This is the ninth in a series of articles on the subject of women, abortion rights and the Republican Party. 

Republicans continue to say they don’t have to change their core principles, they only have to change the language they use to get their message out.  One perception they want to alter is the idea that they are running a “war on women”.  Looking at the news over the past few years, I’d say the Republican Party has a long way to go on this subject.

  • Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky): “Talk about a manufactured issue.  There is no issue.” 
  •  RNC Chairman Reince Priebus:  “It’s a fiction.”

The Texas Front
the facts:     On Tuesday, State Senator Wendy Davis (D), stood alone for nearly eleven hours to filibuster her state's attempt to pass a restrictive anti-abortion bill in special session. During the last 15 minutes, the packed gallery erupted, stopping the Texas Senate from voting.  You can read details of the day's events here:

On Wednesday, Gov. Rick Perry announced that he was calling a second special legislative session.  The one and the only item on the agenda will be the anti-abortion bill.
Texas law says that only those bills receiving favorable votes from two-thirds of committee members shall be presented to the full Senate for debate and vote. The abortion bill didn't get enough votes in committee, despite a 140 day window to do so during regular session. Gov. Rick Perry, ignored that law in order to present the abortion bill in the first special session which ended at midnight on Tuesday. (In Texas, the governor alone is responsible for setting the agenda for legislative special sessions--one law he chooses NOT to ignore.)
Mr. Perry's attempt to force this restrictive abortion bill--parts of which have already been declared unconstitutional by federal courts in other states--ended in a very public way, a fully exposed humiliation.
So, public opinion be damned, state law be damned, U.S. Supreme Court be damned--Rick Perry is going to show the world that he and his Republican Party rule in Texas and they will have what they want. 
  The Republican War on Women is "fiction"?


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

DOMA is Dead!


The Republican War on Women and State Senator Wendy Davis (D,) a Hero in the Battle of Texas

This is the eighth in a series of articles on the subject of women, abortion rights and the Republican Party. 

Republicans continue to say they don’t have to change their core principles, they only have to change the language they use to get their message out.  One perception they want to alter is the idea that they are running a “war on women”.  Looking at the news over the past few years, I’d say the Republican Party has a long way to go on this subject.

  • Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky): “Talk about a manufactured issue.  There is no issue.” 
  •  RNC Chairman Reince Priebus:  “It’s a fiction.”

The Texas Front
the facts:  Last Saturday, in my seventh article on the Republican War on Women, I wrote about the new Texas abortion bills and how Gov. Rick Perry called a special state legislative session and added these bills--bills that could not make it out of committee during Texas' regular legislative session--to the agenda.  You can read the details here:

The Texas Senate needed to pass the bill by midnight on Tuesday for it to become law. Democratic Senator Wendy Davis took to the floor on Tuesday morning.  Senate filibuster rules called for her to stand, unaided, without leaning and without a bathroom break for the next 13 hours if her filibuster was to succeed.  

She began speaking by saying that she was speaking for families whose "personal relationships with their doctor and their creator" would be violated by the bill.

"These voices have been silenced by a governor who made blind partisanship and personal political ambition the official business of our great state.  And sadly, he's being abetted by legislative leaders who either share this blind partisanship or simply do not have the strength to oppose it."

For the most part, Senator Davis spent her time reading testimony from other women decrying the bill and recounting stories of women's struggles before the legalization of abortion.

"Women realize that these bills will not protect their health.  They will only reduce their access to abortion providers and limit their ability to make their own family-planning decisions."

Senate rules say that the filibuster speaker is permitted three warnings before the Senate leader could stop her filibuster.  She was ruled "off topic" early in the day and received her first warning.   She received a second warning later in the evening when a fellow senator helped Davis don a back brace.  Her third warning came at 10:00 PM when she spoke about the abortion pill RU486 and was again ruled "off topic". 

The packed gallery erupted in chants of "Shame!  Shame!", effectively drowning out any attempt to advance the proceedings.  The final hours were filled with what CNN called "a confusing myriad of parliamentary maneuvers" including more debate on the bill.  At 11:45 PM, Senator Leticia Van de Putte (D) stepped to the microphone to ask "At what point must a female senator raise her hand or her voice to be recognized over the male colleagues in the room?"

The gallery once again erupted in cheers, chanting "Wendy, Wendy Wendy".  The chanting lasted for a full 15 minutes, preventing the chamber from taking a vote before the midnight deadline.  It took until 3:00 AM for Lt. Governor David Dewhurst to step onto the Senate floor and declare the bill dead.

Governor Rick Perry can call another special legislative session in an attempt to pass the bill. He has not indicated whether he will try again or not.
One woman, standing alone in front of her colleagues--many of them adversaries--people in the gallery shouting as the clock ticks down to midnight, a three hour wait for the Lt. Gov. to admit defeat...  This is the stuff of which two hanky movies are made.  
 Senator Wendy Davis.  I call her a hero.
 The Republican War on Women is "fiction"?


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Two Budgets...Two Approaches...No Republican Compromise

The U.S. House and Senate are currently in the planning stages for our 2014 national budget.  Proposed budgets for Transportation, Energy, Agriculture and Defense have made it out of committee in the House.  Environment and Education budgets are still being finalized.  The Senate has finished their complete budget proposal.

what eye thynk:   The two approaches couldn't be more adverse.

The House 
TRANSPORTATION AND HUD: The House proposal cuts their 2014 budget by 9%--$4.4 billion below the current sequester level.  This would mean cutting Community Development Block Grants by 45% and Amtrak by 33%.  The Home Investment program that creates affordable housing for the poor and lower middle class would also be cut by a third.  

  • Because, who needs community grants?  Communities will just use them to improve themselves.  And Amtrak--why if more people start using the train, there will be fewer people buying gas for their cars.  We can't have that.  And housing?  Totally unnecessary.  Churches have shelters don't they?

ENERGY AND WATER:  Money for renewable energy programs would be cut by $1 billion.  The Republican led House did, however, find an extra $450 million to add to the budget  for development of gas, oil and other fossil fuels. 

  • We can't have people developing affordable solar or wind power!  What if they're successful and we no longer need so much oil?  Big oil companies may decide to cut back on campaign spending and then how would Republicans keep their campaign funds flush? 

AGRICULTURE:  The $120 million needed by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to enforce the Dodd-Frank financial oversight law has been eliminated completely.   

  • Republicans have been trying to sabotage the Dodd-Frank act since it was passed over their objections.  Cutting this budget to zero sure will take care of at least one aspect of that pesky and unwanted financial oversight idea.  

PENTAGON:  The House wants to add $26 billion to the Pentagon budget--money the Pentagon has said it did not ask for and does not need.

  • Republicans love the military. They just don't think the military is capable of knowing what it needs or doesn't need.

The Senate 

The Senate budget proposes cutting $1 trillion from non vital areas. 
  • I'm not sure what they deem  "non vital"; but I'm pretty sure it isn't Dodd-Frank, alternate energy sources or housing needs.

At the same time, the Senate budget proposes raising $1 trillion by eliminating some tax breaks for the rich and for corporations.  The types of breaks that are on the table are the lower tax rates for investment income and the billions of dollars in tax breaks given to oil companies.

  • I've never understood why someone who works for a living should pay a higher tax rate than someone who simply puts his money in an investment fund and sits back and waits for a dividend check to hit his bank account.  This would seem like a no-brainer for tax reform--not that I expect it to happen any time soon.  As for tax breaks for oil companies, during testimony given to Congress, the CEOs of big oil said that they do not need the breaks.  So why are they still being passed on?

Now is the time that the two houses of Congress should be working together on the hard task of compromising to get to a single budget to be debated and voted on in both chambers.

However, House Republicans, despite, (or perhaps because of?), entreaties from the White House and the Senate, are continuing their childish refusal to consider any budget proposals other than their own.  They have flatly turned down any attempt by the Senate to work together on a national budget, thus totally ignoring one of the main aspects of their duties as members of Congress.  

And, sadly, they are proud of their refusal to govern.

Monday, June 24, 2013

June 24 - Monday Quote

I came across this Haiku in a book I'm reading.  The imagery struck me and I thought I'd share it.

monday quote:
She would disappear
folded like origami
into her own dreams.

(from The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes, author, 1976-      )

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Quick Fact: Over-the-top Christian Pastor on the Loose in Oklahoma

In Oklahoma, Methodist pastor Keith Cressman is suing the state over his car's license plate. The Oklahoma state license plate features a picture of a Native American shooting an arrow into the sky.  Pastor Cressman claims that driving with this image on his car forces him to be a "mobile billboard" for a pagan religion. 

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Republican War on Women - The Texas Front

This is the seventh in a series of articles on the subject of women, abortion rights and the Republican Party. 

Republicans continue to say they don’t have to change their core principles, they only have to change the language they use to get their message out.  One perception they want to alter is the idea that they are running a “war on women”.  Looking at the news over the past few years, I’d say the Republican Party has a long way to go on this subject.

  • Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky): “Talk about a manufactured issue.  There is no issue.” 
  •  RNC Chairman Reince Priebus:  “It’s a fiction.”

The Texas Front
the facts:   On Tuesday, near the end of a special legislative session called by Governor Rick Perry (R), the Texas Senate passed new abortion restrictions.  Democrats questioned why Gov. Perry decided to cram this legislation into a special session when the same bill could not make it out of committee during the 140-day regular session.

Senator Wendy Davis (D) thought the rush on the bill was "not about making women safe, this is about political primaries and making sure you're feeding the red meat for the political primaries."
I can't argue with her logic.
Under the new restrictions, abortion clinics will be required to meet the standards of ambulatory surgical centers.  Legislators also put into effect new measures for how a doctor administers medications designed to terminate early pregnancies.
I'm sure the women in Texas are grateful that their state legislators are there to help doctors who might not have learned how to administer medications in medical school.
The clinic design requirements--wider hallways, large storage rooms, specifically-sized, larger examination and procedure rooms--have been called totally unnecessary by doctors.  This requirement would cause 32 of the 38 Texas abortion centers to close because of the cost of complying.

Republicans claimed that these new requirements were designed to improve care.  Senator Jose Rodriquez (D) asked "So doesn't it have the practical effect of limiting access to care for women instead of improving it?" Senator Bob Duell (R) answered that abortion is a "lucrative" business that can easily afford updating their centers.
That's a Republican for you...everything always seems to come down to money.
Mr. Duell also said the bill should pass unanimously.  It was all about closing "substandard clinics".  
He couldn't name any substandard clinics, nor did he have any facts to support claims of substandard care; but, as we see over and over again, facts aren't big on the Republican agenda.
A provision sponsored by Senator Glenn Hegar (R) that would have prohibited abortions after 15 weeks was dropped from the bill.  This is the Senator who appeared to claim that male babies masturbate: "Watch a sonogram of a 15-week baby, and they have movements that are purposeful....If they're a male baby, they may have their hand between their legs. If they feel pleasure, why is it so hard to think they could feel pain?"  

The medical community has debunked this "pain/pleasure" claim.  Yes, fetuses move, but the medical community agrees that at 15 weeks, the central nervous system is not developed enough for movement to be purposeful and sensation of any kind is not possible.

Mr. Hegar's altered his ban to 20 weeks and it is still before the Senate as a stand-alone bill.  A similar ban was recently struck down in Arizona when a federal appeals court declared it unconstitutional.
The apparent unconstitutionality probably won't stop Republicans from trying to pass it anyway.  If there's one thing the GOP is good at, it's wasting legislative time.  (Just look at the U.S. House.)
The Senate's bill now moves to the Texas House which has less than a week left before the special session ends.  The House has yet to schedule the bill for a committee hearing.
Let's hope the House has more sense than the Senate and lets this issue die. I don't hold out much hope though.  As Ms. Davis said:  "'s all about "red meat" and "political primaries."

The Republican War on Women is "fiction"?


Friday, June 21, 2013

Eye Recommend --- The Literal, Physical Size of a Bill Never Matters

As Congress continues debating immigration reform, Mr. Benen points out that size doesn't matter.
"Every time a conservative talks about the length of legislation, an angel loses its wings...

...One (conservative) group has weighed the printed (immigration) bill and said it comes to 24 pounds.  That doesn't include the 448 pages of amendments that have been filed to try to change the measure.

When opponents of a bill are reduced to talking about the literal, physical size of the legislation, they've completely given up on the pretense that public policy matters.  If opponents of immigration reform want to debate the merits of the proposal, great.  But focusing on pages and pounds is the absolute worst form of debate...

...What's more, there's something about the nature of legislation that folks sometimes forget.

If you've ever seen the physical page of a bill in Congress, you know that it doesn't look like a traditional printed page.  There are huge margins, a large font, and everything is double-spaced.  Legislation may look enormous, but be fairly manageable."
I found this fact interesting.  Did everyone know this but me?
"For example...the immigration bill is about 1,075 pages.  In terms of the number of words, it's about half the length of Sarah Palin's first book.  And while I confess that I did not read 'Going Rogue,' I think it's fair to say it was not an endless tome."
I'll admit, I looked up the size of Ms. Palin's book and, if this comparison is true, the immigration bill would be about 216 pages of mass market type.  Someone who is being paid to debate and create laws should be able to handle that reading assignment.
"So why does this talk persist?  I think it speaks to the post-policy anti-intellectualism that often plays a role in conservative commentary.  Big bills must be bad bills because they're, you know, big."
I know I would like to read some intelligent opinions from both sides to help me reach my own verdict.  Let's hope that the immigration debate becomes more substantive than too-big-to-support.  

Thursday, June 20, 2013

When It Comes to Immigration Reform, Republicans Prove That Numbers CAN Lie

The U.S. Senate began hearing debate on immigration reform this week.

what eye thynk:   Anyone who knows me knows that I am conflicted over immigration reform.  I whole-heartedly support the Dream Act, an amnesty program that would open the road to citizenship to young people brought here illegally as children.  These young people grew up as American as you or I.  If they completed high school and now want only to move on with their lives--whether that be further education or a job, they should be allowed a chance to do that here, in the only country they know.  

Amnesty for adults who knowingly chose to break the law by coming here illegally is a much grayer area in my mind.   I have no easy answers.

But Republican opposition to immigration doesn't seem to take into account any of the human aspects of immigration reform.  One of their main opposition talking points has been the cost of immigration amnesty programs.  The Heritage Foundation, a self-described, "conservative research think tank supporting free enterprise, limited government and individual freedoms", boasts this claim at the top of their website:
 Tell Everyone You Know"
Their point being, that amnesty is too expensive, and they are justified in rejecting it.  To support that argument, The Heritage Foundation put out a report that claimed amnesty would cost the U.S. $6 Trillion.  As with so many Republican talking points, this turned out to be baseless hyperbole.

On Tuesday, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, (the official scorekeepers for federal lawmakers), published very different findings:
"The Congressional Budget Office found that the benefits of an increase in legal residents from immigration legislation currently being debated in the Senate--which includes a pathway to citizenship--would outweigh the costs...
...The report estimates that in the first decade after the immigration bill is carried out, the net effect of adding millions of additional taxpayers would decrease the federal budget deficit by $197 billion.  Over the next decade, the report found, the deficit reduction would be even greater--an estimated $700 billion, from 2024 to 2033." 
Again, beyond the Dream Act, I have no easy answers; but, if immigration reform is to be rejected, it should not be for purely monetary reasons--especially when the opposition's figures are so blatantly false.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Quick Fact: Republican Attempt at IRS Scandal Mongering Foiled by Released Transcript

A few days ago I wrote about the IRS "scandal" and how John Shafer, a self-described conservative Republican who is employed by the IRS in the Cincinnati office, testified before Congress that he was the one who decided to isolate Tea Party groups applying for tax exempt status.

Representative Darrell Issa (R-California) continued to insist that there was a White House cover-up while refusing to release full transcripts of the hearings.  Yesterday, Representative Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland), who had accused Rep. Issa of withholding the transcript for political reasons and threatened to release the entire transcript himself,  got tired of waiting for Mr. Issa, and did exactly that.

In this exerpt from Mr. Shafer's testimony, we find there was a simple explanation for making the choice to isolate Tea Party tax exempt applications:

"The manager, further testified that the Tea Party groups were deliberately grouped together so that they would receive consistent treatment.  'There was a lot of concerns about making sure that any cases that had, you know, similar-type activities or items included, that they would be worked by the same agent or same group,' (Mr. Shafer) testified.

In the testimony, the screening manager also flatly stated he had no reason to believe there was White House involvement."
And so ends another saga of attempted scandal mongering by the Republican Party. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Republican War on Women - The National Front

This is the sixth in a series of articles on the subject of women, abortion rights and the Republican Party. 

Republicans continue to say they don’t have to change their core principles, they only have to change the language they use to get their message out.  One perception they want to alter is the idea that they are running a “war on women”.  Looking at the news over the past few years, I’d say the Republican Party has a long way to go on this subject.

  • Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky): “Talk about a manufactured issue.  There is no issue.” 
  • RNC Chairman Reince Priebus:  “It’s a fiction.”
The War in Washington D.C.
the facts:  The U.S. House of Representatives will vote on a new abortion bill this week.  The bill, proposed by Rep. Trent Franks (R-Arizona), would ban abortions after 20 weeks. 
The U.S. Supreme Court's decision says that abortion is legal up to 24 weeks, but Republicans insist on pushing the envelope.  
Mr. Franks' bill will be put to a vote in the full House with an exception added for rape or incest.  Mr. Franks objected to this exception being added because, as he said, "The incidence of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low."
Thank you for your expert opinion, Mr. Franks.  I'm sure the medical community is indebted to you.  
The bill does add one additional roadblock for a woman who becomes pregnant as the result of a rape by requiring her to prove that she has reported the rape before she can exercise her constitutional right to obtain a perfectly legal abortion.  
Putting extra layers between a woman who has been raped and her rights under the U.S. this an example of how the Republican Party intends to make itself more palatable to female voters?
Another provision remains intact--a woman found to be carrying a "medically futile" fetus, one in which the fetus has no chance of survival outside the womb--will require the woman to carry the pregnancy to full term, knowing that the baby will die at birth.
This is unbelievably cruel.  I cannot imagine the suffering of a woman forced to carry a fetus for 9 months, feeling its movements, hearing its heartbeat, knowing that it will die within hours of birth.  What possible purpose can a provision like this serve other than to bolster some Washington politician's claim to being pro-life?
In order to appear to be pro-female, Mr. Franks will not be introducing his own bill to the House.  Instead, the introduction of the bill will be made by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee).  
And this is supposed to make us feel all warm and fuzzy?  How stupid do these Representatives think we are?  And shame on Ms. Blackburn for allowing herself to be party to this attempted deception.
In all fairness, I have to point out that not all Republican Representatives are pleased that this bill will be going forward.  Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pennsylvania) said: "I discouraged our leadership from bringing this to a vote on the floor.  Clearly the economy is on everyone's minds...confidence in the institution of government is eroding and now we're going to have a debate on rape on abortion.  The stupidity is simply staggering."
Mr. Dent is correct.  But wasting time on issues that have no chance of moving beyond the House, (38 votes and counting to repeal the ACA), and votes like this one on abortion limits that are clearly unconstitutional, (similar state bans have already been blocked by district federal courts), have become the Republican Party's coin of the realm.
Republicans seem to be completely unaware that while they're wasting time on their new abortion bill, we women will be watching and wondering when they'll be doing something to help the economy that will support the children they insist we carry, when they'll begin to look at ways to improve the education of our children and when they'll examine protections for the environment those children will inherit.
Oh, and Mr. Franks, we'll also be wondering why you think our uteri are the most important issue facing the U.S. today. 

The Republican War on Women is "fiction"?


Monday, June 17, 2013

June 17 - Monday Quote

This is even more true today.

monday quote:   The world is moving so fast these days that the man who says it can’t be done is generally interrupted by someone doing it. (Harry Emerson Fosdick, Pastor, 1878-1969) 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Quick Fact: Rubio Threatens to Bail on His Own Immigration Bill Over LGBT Amendment

On Thursday, Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida) appeared on the Andrea Tantaros Show where he threatened to walk away from his own immigration reform bill if an amendment is added to provide LGBT couples with the same benefits given to heterosexual couples.

"If this bill has something in it that gives gay couples immigration rights and so forth, it kills the bill.  I'm done."
This is the man who is supposed to save the Republican Party?

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Republican Hypocrisy at Its Finest

what eye thynk:   Another example of the Republican Party rejecting anything that comes from the Obama administration just because it comes from the Obama administration.  

Friday, June 14, 2013

Eye Recommend --- Toxic Waste Spill in Northern Alberta Biggest of Recent Disasters in North America


(The underlines are mine.)

"The substance is the inky black colour of oil, and the treetops are brown.  Across a broad expanse of northern Alberta muskeg, the landscape is dead.  It has been poisoned by a huge spill of 9.5 million litres of toxic waste from an oil and gas operation in northern Alberta...

...The spill was first spotted on June 1.  But not until Wednesday did Houston-based Apache Corp. release estimates of its size..."
The estimated size is enough to fill 52 Canada football fields.
"It comes amid heightened sensitivity about pipeline safety, as the industry faces broad public opposition to plans for a series of major new oil export pipelines to the U.S., British Columbia and eastern Canada...

...'Every plant and tree died' in the area touched by the spill, said James Ahnassay, chief of the Dene Tha First Nation, whose members run traplines in (the) area...

...The Energy Resources conservation Board, Alberta's energy regulator, said (the leak) contained roughly 200 parts per million of total.  But information compiled (from other sources) suggests the toxic substance contains hydrocarbons, high levels of salt, sulphurous compounds, metals...along with chemical solvents and additives used by the oil industry."
So much for openness and honesty.  Do they really expect us to believe that a pipeline used to extract oil from tar sands--a process which involves the use of chemicals and additives--would leak a substance that is chemical and additive free?
"The Dene Tha suspect this is a long-standing spill that may have gone undetected for months, given the widespread damage it has done...

...The leak follows a pair of other major spills in the region, including 800,000 litres of an oil-water mixture from Pace Oil and Gas Ltd., and nearly 3.5 million litres of oil from a pipeline run by Plans Midstream Canada...

...The (spill) took place in an area rich with wetlands.  Though the Dene Tha suspect waterfowl have died, the company said it has seen no wildlife impacts."
Come on!  This is a 42 hectare piece of Canadian wetlands, and the Apache Corp. expects us to believe there are no affected waterfowl?  
"The spill has not reached the Zama River, although the Alberta government said it has affected tributaries...

...Neither (The Apache Corp.) nor Alberta initially disclosed the spill, which was only made public after someone reported it to a TV station late last week...

...'This latest spill should call into question the provincial government's decision to hide the pipeline safety report they received last year'...said Greenpeace campaigner Mike Hudema."
So we have:
  •  Fifty-two footballs fields worth of oil and chemical polluted water-- probably leaking for months--that is not reported until someone sends photos to a TV station.
  • A pipeline safety report that is not released to the public. 
  • A Houston based oil company that wants us to believe that no industry chemicals are adding to the pollution and that no waterfowl will be impacted.  
Still think the Keystone XL pipeline--which will be built and monitored by the same companies as the pipelines in Canada--will be environmentally safe?

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Et Tu, Carl? Just When You Thought Republicans Couldn't Be Topped, Along Comes Carl Levin, Democrat

Chairman of the Armed Services Committee, Senator Carl Levin (D-Michigan), has announced that he will remove a measure from a proposed armed forces spending bill that would change the way sexual assault is handled in our military.   The measure, written by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York) and sponsored by 27 other Senators, including four Republicans, would have given military prosecutors power over cases of sexual assault.  

Mr. Levin will replace Ms. Gillibrand's measure with one of his own authorship requiring only that a senior military officer review a commander's decision on what to do about a reported sexual assault.  This keeps the decision in the chain of command, adding only a final review--basically the same system that, even top military brass admitted to Congress in recent hearings, is not working. 

what eye thynk:   I have made much of the Republican War on Women; but I have to lay this attack squarely on the shoulders of Democratic Senator Carl Levin. 

The Pentagon recently released a survey that found an estimated 26,000 assaults took place in 2012.    26-THOUSAND!   Top military brass have testified on Capitol Hill in past months about the breadth of the problem and their inability to find a solution.

Apparently Mr. Levin thinks they'll find a way to solve the problem on their own--something there are no facts to support--and in the meantime, things should just go on as before.  Mr. Levin also seems to think that 27 other Senators have no business attempting to change anything in the way sexual assaults are handled while the military tries to find its way.

Senator Barbara Boxer (D-California) and a co-sponsor of Ms. Gillibrand's bill said of Mr. Levin's announcement,  "It's outrageous".

Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) told Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, "To do things as they've always been done is not acceptable."

They're both right.  Senator Levin's action is outrageously unacceptable.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Eye Recommend --- When Fascism Comes to America, It Will Be Cloaked in Patriotism

Mr. Schewitz's ideas may be a bit extreme, but he does raise some points worth thinking about.  He alludes to Hitler's Germany having its beginning in extreme nationalism--not unlike the patriotism and religion being peddled by today's Republican Party.
"There is a quote (often misattributed to Sinclair Lewis) that states, 'When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.'...

...The word 'fascist' is thrown around a lot these days and it's usually by people who have no clue what it really means.  They bleat about 'Big Brother' and an authoritarian government, even as they ironically vote for the politicians who support the very same things...

...In a nutshell, fascism is basically an authoritarian government for corporations, by corporations.  Extreme nationalism, the loss of individual liberties, and collectivism that benefits corporations rather than people.  Basically, corporate protection and welfare...

...Working class people have been voting against their own self-interests for a long time now, especially here in the South...They've been convinced that minorities and liberals will take their rights and jobs away, so they turn around and vote for the people who actually do take their rights and jobs away.

Fascism draws strength through the public's need for patriotism and religion.  Wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross, many of us have been duped by 'patriotic' legislation like 'Right to Work', 'Citizens United' and 'The Patriot Act'...

...We see it everywhere when politicians try to peddle their snake oil--they just wrap it in the flag and give it a pretty name designed to lull the public into buying it.  Just look at Bush's 'Operation Iraqi Freedom.'  Or look through some of the details of Paul Ryan's 'Path to Prosperity' budget, which would have cut billions from the social safety net programs in favor of tax cuts for millionaires...

...As long as a good portion of the country continues to let the wool be pulled over their eyes, this strategy isn't going anywhere anytime soon."

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Quick Fact: Self-proclaimed Conservative Republican Responsible for I.R.S. Targeting of Tea Party Groups?

Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland) top Democratic member of the House of Representatives Oversight and Government Reform Committee that is conducting the investigation into the IRS targeting of Tea Party groups applying for tax-exempt status, says he believes the investigation should be over.  On Sunday, he released an official interview transcript of a Cincinnati manager saying that he and another IRS employee decided to set aside applications from Tea Party and patriot groups because they felt they posed a new precedent that might have an affect on future IRS filings.

The manager, John Shafer, who describes himself as a conservative Republican, was asked if he thought the focus on Tea Party groups was intended to target "the president's political enemies."  He replied:  "I do not believe that the screening of these cases had anything to do, other than consistency and identifying issues that needed to have further development." 

When asked if he thought the White House was involved, he said "I have no reason to believe that."

Representative Darrell Issa (R-California), chairman of the House investigating committee, has vowed to press ahead.  "(The manager's comments) did not provide anything enlightening...I strongly disagree with...Cumming's assertion that we know everything we need to know about inappropriate targeting of Tea Party groups by the IRS"
Because, you know, we can't blame the President if one of our own turns out to be holding the smoking gun.

Monday, June 10, 2013

June 10 - Monday Quote

Carol Burnett recently received the Mark Twain Award at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C.

monday quote:  I can’t believe I’m getting a humor prize from the Kennedy Center.  It’s almost impossible to be funnier than the people in Washington.  (Carol Burnett, actress, comedienne, writer, 1933-     ) 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Problem with the Republican Phone Sweep Timeline

Much recent news time has been given over to the revelation that the federal government is watching phone records and e-mails both abroad and domestically.

what eye thynk:    I don't like it.  I didn't like it when Bush did it and I don't like it now.  Yes, I can see that there MAY be advantages...though it would help if the government could offer one example of a terrorist plot that was foiled by this method.

But, my dislike is not the point of this article.  I really want to point out some simple facts that show the Republican outrage at the Obama administration's phone and e-mail sweeping is really self-serving and ludicrous.
  • The sweeping of domestic phone records has been going on for 7 years.  
  • The collection of information on foreigners in other countries has been going on for 6 years.
President Obama has only been in office for 4 years and 7 months.  Does anyone else see a problem with the timeline here?

What makes this congressional outrage even more ridiculous is that Congress authorized the practice under the foreign intelligence law that they just recently renewed!!!  Did they not read it first?

So, phone/e-mail sweeping was going on long before President Obama took office and Congress, (including these same out-raged Republicans) just passed a bill that approves its continuation.

Of course, Republicans, never let facts get in the way.  They just put on their best shocked faces and rant away.   On this issue, I'd agree with them, if only they would admit their own culpability.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Eye Recommend --- The Split Between the States

THE SPLIT BETWEEN THE STATES, by the New York Times Editorial Board --
Twenty five states, most with Republican leadership, have decided not to expand Medicaid, leaving hundreds of thousands of poor Americans without health insurance--again.
(The underline is mine.) 
"In February, more than 130,000 Minnesota residents who lack health insurance became eligible for coverage when the state expanded its Medicaid program under the health care reform law.  That will save the state $129 million in the first two years alone. 

Wisconsin, however, has chosen to take the path of indifference.  On Tuesday, the Republicans who control the State Legislature's Joint Finance Committee voted to reject the expansion of Medicaid, even though it would have covered 85,000 people at less cost to the state.  The committee was marching in lock step behind the governor, Scott Walker, who claims to be worried that federal financing will run out."
This doesn't explain why he is rejecting the 100% financing that is available right now and already being moved into Democratic state coffers.
"What's really going on, of course, is that state Republicans have made poor people the victims of their ideological resistance to President Obama and his health care law...

...As Robert Pear of The Times recently reported, more than half of all people without health insurance live in states that are not planning to expand coverage...

...On Medicaid, education and many other issues, the map of the United States is becoming a patchwork of conscience and callousness...The breakdown of a sense of national unity in Washington is now reflected across the country, as more than two dozen states begin to abandon traditions of responsible government.

This is not entirely a partisan issue; several Republican governors, including Jan Brewer of Arizona and Rick Scott of Florida, have crunched the numbers and decided to support the Medicaid expansion, though their legislatures refuse to go along."
I lay the blame entirely on Republicans in both houses of Congress, who, instead of leading by example, choose to hurt their own citizens in order to make a political point.  
Some responses I've collected coming from social service agencies in red states: 
  • Bee Moorhead, executive director of Texas Impact: "A lot of people will come       in, file applications and find out they are not eligible for help because they are too poor."
  • Amanda Ptashkin, director of outreach at Georgia's For a Healthy Future: "Hundreds of thousands of (Georgians) with incomes below the poverty level would be eligible for Medicaid if the state decided to move forward with the extension of Medicaid.  As things stand now, they will not be eligible for anything.  What do we do for them?  What do we tell them?"
  • Bruce Lesley, president of First Focus: "People will be denied assistance because they do not make enough money.  Trying to explain that will be a nightmare." 
The people aren't stupid and eventually, Republican intransigence will bring about Republican downfall.
It can't happen soon enough. 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Senate Republicans -- Intimidated or Intimidators?

On Tuesday, President Obama nominated three people to fill the three vacant seats on the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Republicans are upset.

what eye thynk:   Republicans are upset because Democrats, including the President of the United States, are finally pushing back against Republican obstructionism.  I say, "It's about time!"

During Ronald Reagan's administration, 82% of presidential nominees were confirmed in under 100 days. During President Obama's first term, only 1.9% of his nominees were confirmed in under 100 days, with 55% waiting 200 days or more.  Even winning approval from the Senate Judiciary Committee has not guaranteed a timely vote on the President's nominees. Under President Bush, the time from committee approval to full Senate vote averaged 37 days; under President Obama, the average is 116 days.  Added to the slow pace is the fact that Senate Republicans are using the filibuster rule to insist on 60 votes for confirmation--even on the most uncontroversial nominees.

Blocking or postponing a vote on presidential nominees has become so routine, that it doesn't warrant much news time.  By nominating three at once, the President hopes to expose the continued obstructionist mind-set in the Republican Party.  

Senate Democrats are so frustrated with the Republican over-use of the filibuster that Mr. Reid is re-considering a change to the filibuster rule that would prohibit its use for judicial or cabinet-level nominees.  Mitch McConnell claims that Senator Reid is betraying a commitment to leave the filibuster rule intact.  (Do I hear whining?)

The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit is the second most important court in the country; and yet, it currently labors with three empty judgeships.  The Court is presently heavy on the conservative side, and  Republicans will do anything to keep it that way.  In fact, some Republican Senators, led by Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) want to simply eliminate the three empty seats, thus barring the President from putting any liberal stamp on the Court.

One of the President's nominees could prove difficult for Republicans to approve.  Cornelia Pillard worked for the Clinton administration and has worked for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund as well as the American Civil Liberties Union--two liberal organizations whose principles are anathema to Republicans.

However, it will be interesting to see Senate Republicans trying to find reasons to vote "no" on the President's two other nominees.  Patricia Ann Millett served in the solicitor general's office under both President Bill Clinton and later under President George W. Bush.  Robert L. Wilkins was a public defender and corporate defense lawyer before he was confirmed--with unanimous Republican support--to the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.  Really, how will they explain Mr. Wilkins's sudden unqualified status?

Of course, the hue and cry is already being raised among Senate Republicans. Some Senators are saying that by announcing three nominees at once the President is trying to "steamroll" them.  (Early in his tenure, George W. nominated ten judges at once.)  Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell voiced his opinion this way:  "There's a culture of intimidation throughout the executive branch.  There's also a culture of intimidation here in the Senate."

Yes, there is--and its name is the Republican Party.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Eye Recommend --- A Generation of Voters with No Use for the GOP

The College National Republican Committee has released a 95 page report on voters in the 18-29 age group.  It is based on in-depth research performed by the Winston Group, (a Republican survey, research and strategic communication firm based in Washington D.C.).  
 Mr. Benen's article points out that the news is not good when it comes to young people and the G.O.P.
"This is the sort of document that's likely to keep party leaders up at night.  'In the focus group research (millennial voters) were asked to say what words came to mind when they heard 'Republican Party.' The responses were brutal:  closed-minded, racist, rigid, old-fashioned.'

Also note, it's not just the party and its brand--younger voters are proving to be more progressive when it comes to public policy.  This is a segment of the population with no use for anti-abortion extremism and anti-gay rhetoric, but the GOP remains dominated by fierce culture warriors.

It is, the report argues, a 'dismal present situation.'...

In 2012, the Republican Party thought it would be wise to run on a platform that would have scrapped college aid for millions of younger Americans, curtailed contraception access, ended the federal law that allows young people to gain health care access through their family plans until they turn 26 and eliminated Planned Parenthood among other things."
The 2012 election showed that Mitt Romney lost to Barack Obama by 23 points among young voters.
"In 2013, Republicans still support all of those (2012) ideas but are also arguing against reduced student-loan interest rates, saying things like, 'I think, as Republicans, we've got to do a better job of explaining how our ideas apply to young people...But I think personal responsibility is pretty cool.'"
That is a direct quote from Luke Messer (R-Indiana) from an interview on MSNBC  few days ago.
Another article I came across described their answers when young voters were asked to identify Democratic leaders.  They named people like the Obamas and the Clintons.  When asked to identify Republican leaders, they named Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck. 
When the youngest voters see you as close-minded, racist and rigid and the only party "leaders" they can name are political pundits, I don't see smooth times ahead for the Grand Old-fashioned Party.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Eye Recommend --- Its Time to Tell the Truth: Republicans Aren't Christians

This article sets a tone a bit angrier and more cynical than makes me completely comfortable, but he manages to say a lot that I agree with.
(The underlines are mine.)   
"...a few decades ago the leaders of the GOP did something very intelligent.  History shows one of the easiest ways to manipulate...people is through their religion.  You can get people to do horrific things in the name of 'their god' by convincing them that their actions are acceptable because they are the true believers, and those they oppose are the 'heathens.'

You see this with radicals of every faith.  These radical leaders take a handful of excerpts from whatever book they follow and manipulate millions into believing whatever they want.

Republicans knew two key issues could easily control millions--abortion and homosexuality. Once they identified their two key manipulation points, all they needed to do was tie in whatever political ideology they wanted with these two religious-based beliefs and they could create a political party that was worshiped more like a faith than a political idea...

...What they follow is some mix of Ayn Rand economic ideologies and a couple of select passages from the Bible.

Which I always find hilarious considering Ayn Rand thought religious people were stupid and insane...How exactly can someone build an economic platform based on a woman who completely contradicted Christianity, while claiming to be a follower of Christianity?...

...See, the whole point of being a Christian means you follow the teachings of Christ.  I've actually seen many of these 'Christians' try and say Jesus would support cuts to welfare and side with the top-down economic policies of the Republican Party.

As I've said before, whether you believe in Jesus Christ or not is not the issue; what he symbolized and his story aren't really debatable.  He spent his life helping the poor, sick and needy.  He never once spoke about homosexuality or abortion.  He embraced those from the lowest rungs of society by saying that those for whom much had been given, much is expected.  He taught love, hope, compassion and forgiveness.  He warned against those who would manipulate the word of God for their own selfish ambitions.  He opposed greed and encouraged giving.

You know, the exact opposite of what Republicans stand for.

But that doesn't matter to these people because they oppose abortion and homosexuality--again, two things Jesus never spoke of.

And honestly, can you name one other 'Christian' value Republicans claim to value?  Because I hate to break it to them, but guns weren't invented by Jesus.  Saying you have a 'God-given right to bear arms' is just ignorant.  God didn't grant anyone the right to bear arms, a bunch of slave owning rich white men did that in the late 1700s...

...These people have hijacked a faith to distort it for their own political gains...

...It's time (to) rise up against these ignorant fake Christians and call them out directly on the truth.  They don't follow Christianity.

They follow Republicanity.  They worship Reagan, guns and greed--not Jesus Christ.

Monday, June 3, 2013

June 3 - Monday Quote

Dear Republicans...

monday quote:  Should you find yourself in a chronically leaking boat, energy devoted to changing vessels is likely to be more productive than energy devoted to patching leaks. (Warren Buffet, businessman, 1930-      )

Saturday, June 1, 2013