Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Republican Spite Parade Continues - ACA "Refuse to Enroll" Campaign and the GOP Says "No" to Jobs

I have to share two more examples of the Republican Party's choosing spite and obstructionism over quality government and forward progress.

1.  ACA and the Republican "Refuse to Enroll" Campaign
Conservative organizations like the Citizens' Council for Health Freedom and the Koch brothers' Americans for Prosperity are trying another tactic in their attempt to derail the ACA.  They are actively targeting uninsured Americans in states like Ohio--where government leadership has chosen not to set up their own exchange programs--with TV and print ads as well as anti-ACA rants by radio commentators like Twila Brase, all urging people to refuse to sign up for health care benefits guaranteed to them by the health care law.

what eye thynk:   There can be only one reason why one group of people would encourage another group of people to go without health insurance, and that reason is plain and simple:  morally-bankrupt spite.

The Koch brothers are certainly wealthy enough to be able to afford excellent health care and Twila Brase, an RN who heads the Citizens' Council for Health Freedom and is on the board of the Patient Safety Institute, is also undoubtedly covered by a good health care plan.  Their callous attempts to deny the same safety net to millions of Americans demonstrates how the conservative passion for spite has moved beyond reason.  There is no positive side to their argument.  Encouraging the uninsured to remain uninsured benefits no one.

One columnist summarized it this way: "After nearly a century of politicians talking about the problem, President Obama...signed the Affordable Care Act into law...throwing a life preserver to the uninsured.  Now, Republicans aren't just actively trying to sabotage the law, they're telling struggling Americans it's better to drown than accept the life preserver." 

This is spitefulness in its basest form.

2.  GOP says "No" to Lower Corporate Tax Rates and Job Creation 
On Tuesday, President Obama spoke in Tennessee and made an offer that included lowering corporate tax rates and using a one-time fee payable on deferred foreign earnings to invest in infrastructure and manufacturing jobs:  "Here's the bottom line:  I'm willing to work with Republicans on reforming our corporate tax code, as long as we use the money from transitioning to a simpler tax system for a significant investment in creating middle-class jobs. That's the deal."

what eye thynk:   It's a deal that Washington Republicans should be jumping over each other to accept. They have been screaming about lowering the corporate tax rate and the need to create jobs for five years now; but, no, they hate the idea.  

Their reasons are mind boggling.  

  • John Boehner's office said that the President didn't tell him about the plan first. (The President says Mr. Boehner's office did not return his phone call).
While it might be politic to let the Speaker of the House know about a new offer before announcing it publicly, I don't see what that has to do with the substance of the offer.  And, really, where is it written that the President of the United States must vet his speeches through the Speaker's office?  This whole objection is just plain childish.
  • Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) responded to the President's offer by saying that it would hurt small business and that the plan is not bi-partisan. 
How lower corporate tax rates would hurt small business is beyond me.  Mr. McConnell declined to explain his statement.  And the idea that lower corporate tax rates is not a bi-partisan idea just flies in the face of logic.  I mean, Republicans have been calling for lower corporate tax rates for years and now the Democratic President is saying he would go along with it.  That seems to pass the smell test for bi-partisanship in my world.
  • Some Republicans are saying they will not accept partial concessions on tax rates.  They insist that lower tax rates for the wealthy must also be included in the offer.  
The art of compromise is reaching mummified status on the red side of the aisle.
  • Other Republicans are arguing that any changes in corporate tax rates must be revenue neutral. In other words, if an agreement can be reached on lower corporate tax rates, the results should not generate any revenue that might be used for any other purpose.  
I don't know how else to interpret this but as an argument AGAINST job creation. 

And so goes life with the modern Republican Party.  They say they want the government out of our personal lives--but continue to pass law after law aimed at governing the female reproductive system.  The say they support small  government--but pass laws defining religion, families and marriage rights. They say they want a safer America--but they refuse to pass gun safety regulations while at the same time passing laws that make it easier for anyone to carry a firearm anytime, anywhere.  

They say they want to create jobs, but when the President gives them the perfect opportunity to do just that, they reject the idea because the announcement a) hurt the Speaker's feelings, b) doesn't follow their interpretation of bi-partisanship and c) doesn't do anything for the rich. 
Keep it up, boys.  Keep it up.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Republican Party, Where Spite is More Important Than "The Majority Rules"

Colorado will hold the first recall election in its history on September 10.  The N.R.A. and Colorado's Republican Party are trying to unseat two state senators who supported that state''s new gun law.

After the Columbine and Aurora massacres, the legislature of Colorado had had enough and passed a new gun law requiring universal background checks for all gun purchases and restricting magazine size to 15.  The bill had wide public support.  State Senators John Morse (D), who sponsored the bill, and Angela Giron (D) were both outspoken supporters of the bill and are now the focus of the September recall election.

Senator Morse who serves as President of the State Senate, is a former police chief who says he respects the Second Amendment, but with reasonable restrictions.  About the recall election, he said, "Recalls are for unethical behavior and not disagreements."

what eye thynk:   Senator Morse is absolutely correct; but today, so much of our political conversation is ruled by pettiness and spite that respect for our democratic process is beginning to seem like an anachronism.  

The principle of the-majority-rules no longer seems to apply in today's public arena.  "I don't agree with you, but your opinion garnered more votes than mine, so that's the way we'll go forward from here" has been replaced with "I don't agree with you and your opinion garnered more votes than mine, but I'm going to ignore the wishes of the majority and continue to fight you in every way I can.  And if I can ruin you in the process, so much the better."

The N.R.A. and Republicans who oppose the new gun bill see the recall election as a chance to send a message to any politician anywhere who is thinking about supporting similar legislation. Becky Mizel, chairwoman of the Republican Party in Ms. Giron's home district was recently quoted as saying "Legislators should be scared."

To show how petty and spiteful the recall effort is, Ms. Giron is up for re-election next year anyway.  And, under Colorado's term limits law, Mr. Morse is ineligible to run again in 2014.  

But spite is a drug that the Republican Party can't seem to get enough of.  And, for the N.R.A., the chance to bring down anyone who disagrees with them is a high they seem to crave beyond all reason.

Monday, July 29, 2013

July 29 - Monday Quote

I dedicate this week's quote to Martha Blackburn (R-Tennessee) who, in 2005 voted for George W. Bush's home appliance energy efficiency bill and in 2013 sponsored her own anti-home appliance energy efficiency bill, calling energy efficiency standards just another example of President Obama attempting to create a Democratic nanny state.

monday quote: Politicians are the only people in the world who create problems and then campaign against them. (Charley Reese, conservative columnist, 1937-2013) 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Defunding the ACA, Energy Efficiency Ratings, and Ryan's One-note Budget Gloat

I believe myself to be fairly intelligent and somewhat rational; but sometimes I just cannot figure out how Republicans come up with the things they say--or the straight faces with which to say them. 
1.  Defunding the ACA
Two weeks ago, Senator Marco Rubio, (R-Florida) said that the Republican Party should shut down the federal government unless Democrats agree to defund the ACA.  Seventeen Republican Senators, including House Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), immediately jumped on this ultra-conservative bandwagon.  There was lots of bad press after which some Senators quietly disembarked.  Other, more realistic Republican Senators spoke up to agree with Senator Richard Burr (R-No. Carolina) who called the idea "The dumbest idea I've ever heard of."  

Fast forward two weeks.  Upon hearing that President Obama vowed to veto any spending bill that does not fully fund the ACA, Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida) said in a radio interview:  "What the President's basically saying is that 'If you don't fund Obmacare, I won't sign a bill that funds the government.'  So he's the one that's threatening to shut down the government, not us."

what eye thynk:  What in the hell is this man talking about?  

2.  Energy Efficiency Ratings
The House has passed a bill forbidding the federal government from enforcing energy efficiency standards for ceiling fans, light bulbs, refrigerators and freezers.  Their rallying cry was that the Obama administration is creating a Nanny State and is overstepping by requiring energy efficiency for home appliances of any kind.

Representative Martha Blackburn (R-Tennessee) sponsored the bill saying, "Nothing is safe from the Obama administration's excessive regulatory tentacles."  Perhaps Ms. Blackburn needs to be reminded that the first bill regulating energy efficiency for home appliances was signed into law by Ronald Reagan in 1987.  Someone should also point out to her that ceiling fan efficiency rules were passed by both the Republican led House and the Republican led Senate and signed into law by then President George W. Bush in 2005.  Ms. Blackburn voted in favor of the bill.

what eye thynk:  And if Republicans are really so against "regulatory tentacles", they might consider keeping their hypocritical nanny nose out of the business of excessively regulating my vagina.

3.  Ryan's One-note Budget Gloat
The 112th Congress cut the federal budget's discretionary spending by $1.5 trillion.  This was before the Republicans forced billions in additional cuts through sequestration.  Economists on both sides of the aisle, (at least those not bought and paid for by the Koch brothers and big business), agree that the sequester is holding back our economic recovery.

Now the House is beginning to unveil more draconian cuts in its new budget bill causing Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) to brag about the low spending levels by saying "It's about time we cut some spending around here."

what eye thynk:  Paul Ryan has become "Poor Johnny One Note".  Does he really think no one is aware of or has forgotten about the cuts already made?

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Quick Fact - Petty Anti-ACA Tactics Foiled by Big Business

In news related to Republican in-fighting over their threat to shut down the federal government if Democrats refuse to defund the ACA:  ..............

And Republican double standard intimidation tactics relating to getting information out to Americans about their ACA rights:     ...............

I give you Fox News' Erick Erickson who, upon hearing that CVS Caremark is planning on helping people navigate the new health care law and would be assisting them in enrolling in available exchanges, announced that he would be boycotting CVS and would instead be shopping at Walgreens.
Which just shows that you don't have to be a politician to be petty.
Mr. Erickson is apparently unaware that Walgreens has partnered with Blue Cross Blue Shield and will also be assisting their customers with signing up for ACA benefits.
Ahh, the embarrassing cost of possessing a Lilliputian mind.  

Friday, July 26, 2013

Eye Recommend -- Senate GOPer Calls Shutdown Threat the Dumbest Idea I've Ever Heard

Republican in-fighting is becoming one of my favorite sports. 
"The idea was first pushed by one guy:  It was Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) who said two weeks ago that he and his party should shut down the entire federal government unless Democrats agree to block all funding of the Affordable Care Act, even if that denies health care coverage to millions of American families. 

Then Rubio picked up some friends.  The number of Republican senators endorsing this tactic grew, just over the course of two weeks, to 17--roughly a third of the Senate GOP caucus--including members of the Republican leadership."
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) was on board with this idea.
"But a funny thing happened on the way to the shutdown:  all of a sudden, a fair number of Republicans, including Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), started to realize their party's idea was blisteringly stupid.

'I think it's the dumbest idea I've ever heard of,' Burr said.  'Listen, as long as Barack Obama is president, the Affordable Care Act is going to be law...I think some of these guys need to understand that if you shut down the federal government, you better have a specific reason to do it that's achievable.  Defunding the Affordable Care Act is not achievable through shutting down the federal government.  At some point you're going to open the federal government back up and Barack Obama's (still) going to be president."
The cynic  in me can't help but wonder if this anti-shutdown rhetoric is an honest opinion or one that was seeded by a need to protect himself  from a possible adverse voter reaction.
"Over in the House, Rep. Tom Cole, (R-Okla.), a deputy majority whip and close ally to Speaker Boehner, told Fox News, 'Seems to me there's appropriate ways to deal with the law, but shutting down the government to get your way over an unrelated piece of legislation is (the) political equivalent of throwing a temper tantrum.  It's just not helpful.  And it is the sort of thing that creates a backlash and could cost the Republicans the majority in the House.'"
Which I guess answers my previous question.  They might WANT to shut down the government, but not if it costs them seats.
"If this plan's going to make Sens. Rubio, Ted Cruz (R-Texas), and Mike Lee (R-Utah)--the ringleaders of the gambit--look awfully foolish...

...(If) the scheme falls apart, and even gets mocked by their own allies, it will reinforce the impression that these far-right senators are inept show-horses who aren't serious about governing and can't even execute their own bad ideas."
An outcome that, I admit, would not break my heart.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Quick Fact: District Judge Orders the State of Ohio to Recognize a Same Sex Marriage

James Obergefell and John Arthur, residents of Ohio, were married on July 11 in Maryland. John Arthur is currently in hospice care and is expected to die soon.  

United States District Judge Timothy Black has ordered the state of Ohio to recognize Mr. Obergefell as Mr. Arthur's surviving spouse on his death certificate.

"The end result here and now is that the local Ohio Registrar of death certificates is here by ORDERED not to accept for recording a death certificate for John Arthur that does not record Mr. Arthur's status at death as 'married' and James Obergefell as his 'surviving spouse,'" Judge Black wrote on Monday.

Ohio's 2004 constitutional amendment banning the recognition of same-sex marriages and Ohio's statute addressing the issue "likely violate the United States Constitution," concluded Judge Black.
I feel sad for Mr. Arthur and Mr. Obergefell, but grateful that they pursued this issue and thankful that there are still judges like Timothy Black working in Ohio.   
Is this the beginning of the end for state constitutional bans on same sex marriage?  I sincerely hope so.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Eye Recommend --- What Sabotage Governing Looks Like

Yesterday, I commented on John Boehner's claim that Congress should be judged, not on how many laws they pass, but on how many they repeal:
Today, I want to share this article by Mr. Benen who exposes the way congressional Republicans are working to repeal the ACA with near religious fervor.
"When we talk about efforts to 'sabotage' Obamacare, what are we referring to?  Several--by my count, seven--specific efforts.

First congressional Republicans are actively trying to undermine the federal health care system by refusing to help their own constituents navigate the system...

..(Republicans are) enormously frustrated that the law has persevered through two elections and a Supreme Court challenge and believe a botched implementation could help build momentum for the repeal movement. 

Some Republicans indicated...they will not assist constituents in navigating the law and obtaining benefits...

...'We know how to forward a phone call,' said Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah).  He added, 'All we can do is pass them back to the Obama administration.  The ball's in their court.  They're responsible for it.'"
All members of Congress have staffs, paid for with your tax money, whose job it is to provide assistance to their constituents, including assistance with negotiating government programs. These politicians, in another example of childish pique, have decided that hurting their constituents by denying them assistance in getting the benefits to which they are entitled is a better use of their office budgets than helping them.
"Second, there's systemic lying to the public.

In recent weeks, officials in states like New York and California have boasted about lower premiums for residents thanks to the Affordable Care Act.  But on Friday Indiana, where Republican officials dominate, announced the law would force a premium increase of 72%...

...Indiana Republicans wanted to push a political narrative, and generate some headlines, but they had to play fast and loose with the facts, on purpose, in the hopes of fooling the public."
Tips on the art of lying with a straight face must be given a full chapter in the How to Be a Republican Handbook.
"Third, there are the dozens upon dozens of repeal votes congressional Republicans keep holding. The latest was last week, and yesterday, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) vowed to hold even more...

...These repeal votes tell the public that the future of the law is still in doubt--a significant chunk of the country actually believes the Affordable Care Act has already been repealed--and discourages participation needed to make the law work."
Thirty-nine repeal votes and counting!  It's becoming a routine part of a Republican's schedule: Shower. Check -- Brush teeth. Check -- Drive to office. Check -- Vote to repeal ACA. Check -- Attend meeting to plan for next week's ACA repeal vote. Check
"Fourth, congressional Republicans have repeatedly denied the Obama administration funds needed for implementation.  Fifth, GOP leaders have shamelessly discouraged private-sector partnerships with Washington on public-awareness campaigns, in the hopes that public ignorance might help undermine the efficacy of the system."
A Republican motto for the 113th Congress:  If you can't defeat it, defund it. 
More about the Republican double standard on public awareness campaigns here:
"Sixth, many Republicans at the state level are refusing to allow Medicaid expansion, no matter how much damage it does to their state.  And seventh, these same GOP officials in the states are refusing to create exchanges, making it that much more difficult for federal officials to meet deadlines and fully implement the law on time."
By refusing to expand Medicaid or to create an exchange, state Republican officials are taking a page out of John Boehner's playbook:  Stand tall, proud and defiant; but most of all, be sure to do no good. 
"Again, don't forget that this has simply never happened before.  There is no precedent in American history for Congress approving a massive new public benefit, a president signing it into law, the Supreme Court endorsing the benefit's legality, and then having an entire political party actively and shamelessly working to sabotage the law."
But then, we've never had a Republican Party like this one.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Congress Accomplishes Nothing and Boehner Expects Applause

The 113th Congress is on track to pass fewer bills than any Congress since the clerk's office started keeping count back in the mid-1940s.  Last week, when a reporter asked Mr. Boehner about the lack of progress under his leadership, he snapped "That's just total nonsense."

On Face the Nation this past Sunday, Mr. Boehner was asked basically the same question.  His response indicated that he is proud of his non-productive leadership:  "(Congress) should not be judged on how many new laws we create, (we) should be judged on how many laws we repeal."

what eye thynk:   As one pundit said on Monday, "The House Speaker is on his way to establishing an accomplishment-free legacy, and at this point, he'd like you to think that's great...House Republicans not only don't have a positive policy agenda, they don't even see the point in pretending to want one."

It should be noted, that if we go along with Mr. Boehner's passing-nothing-is-a-sign-of-success philosophy and rate the 113th Congress by "how many laws (they) repeal", then they are still a failure.  Thirty nine attempts to repeal the ACA and it is still the law of the land, as is Dodd-Frank.

And, just in case you think Congress may be working too hard, they will be taking a four week break in August.  Upon their return, they are scheduled to be in session an exhausting total of nine days in the month of September when they will have to face languishing immigration reform and another looming federal budget crisis; but, no worries, they have reserved one of those nine days for an important vote to repeal the ACA.  

Mr. Boehner's proud legacy appears to be safe.

Monday, July 22, 2013

July 22 - Monday Quote

This is a quote I ran across a couple of years ago and wrote down in a notebook.  Since then, every time I happen upon it, it says something different to me.  That just might be the litmus test for a perfect quote.

monday quote:  There are nights when the wolves are silent and only the moon howls.  (George Carlin, satirist, 1937-2008)

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Eye Recommend --- A New Government Shutdown Threat Emerges

Here we go again!
"Both the House and Senate have passed budget resolutions, which would ordinarily mean the two sides would begin the process of trying to find a compromise in something called a conference committee.  But that's not happening--Republicans have spent the last few months refusing to have negotiations.

With that in mind, Congress will soon need a temporary spending measure--a 'continuing resolution'--to keep the government's lights on until something can be worked out.  Last week, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said he'll oppose any stopgap measure unless Democrats agree to a spending bill that 'defunds Obamacare.'  In other words, Rubio would prefer a government shutdown to a functioning federal health care system." 
This is the man who is supposed to save the Republican Party?  And where is the leadership that Speaker of the House John Boehner is supposed to represent?
"This argument is apparently en vogue on the far-right--Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Iowa) traveled to Iowa this week, where he said he'll also oppose funding unless the Affordable Care Act is 'fully' defunded...

...Look, there's obviously no realistic way Democrats are going to say, 'To prevent a government shutdown, we give up--it took us 100 years of work to get health care reform done, and it's making a huge difference in the lives of countless American families, but we've decided to trash the whole thing to make the GOP happy.' This just isn't going to happen.  Even the most unhinged congressional loon realizes this is unrealistic."
And yet, Republicans continue to spout this clap-trap and the far-right keeps lapping it up. estimated that it costs $2 million a day to pay the salaries and office costs for members of the House and their staffs--and the House has now spent 39 days voting to repeal the ACA and not one hour working with Democrats and their fellow Republicans in the Senate. That's an incredible amount of money wasted on votes that are nothing but symbolic fodder for far right pundits and an enormous deficit of funds spent on compromising to keep the government running.  That's an unfathomable amount of childish pique.
The ACA is not going away.  It is not going to be repealed.  And threatening to close down the government unless you get what you want is not the way to lead. 
I've said it before:  You can't govern in reverse; there can be no progress if you continue to face backwards.  Eventually someone is simply going to move you out of the way. 

Friday, July 19, 2013

Quick Fact(s) - A Fact of Democracy and Another Cheney in Wyoming

1.  Democracy
Last week, the New York Times published an article by Carol Giacomo titled "Is Democracy Possible in Egypt?".  I admit I only skimmed the article, but one sentence did catch my attention because it speaks so clearly to the political situation in this country:   "Democracy sometimes requires you to accept leaders you don't like."
Has anyone told the Republicans in Washington this?  Because it really doesn't look like they've gotten the message.

2.  The (Early) Wyoming Senate Race
Liz Cheney has announced that she will run for the Senate in Wyoming in 2014.  Already she seems confused. One of her statements, "We can no longer afford simply to get along to go along" makes me wonder if she is aware of how much her party has refused "to get along" or "go along" for the past five years.

But it is this statement, taken from the candidate announcement video she posted on YouTube, that demonstrates her ability to present hyperbole as fact:   "Over the last several years, citizens across our great state have urged me to consider running for the Senate."  It's the "over the last several years" part that I am calling hyperbolic tainted fact; because, you see, until a few months ago, Ms. Cheney was a long-time citizen of Virginia.   
Her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, is serving as advisor to her campaign, so I wouldn't  expect the mercury in her truth-o-meter to move up anytime soon.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Good News! -- The ACA, Senate Filibuster and Same Sex Marriage in England

1.  The ACA
 People buying individual health insurance in New York will see their premium costs go down by 50% next year.  Federal subsidies may reduce some premiums even more.  State insurance regulators, who are in the process of approving rates for 2014, say the lower costs they are seeing are the result of competition among companies participating in the ACA exchange program.  New York joins other states like California and Oregon where regulators have also seen huge price drops from companies participating in their state's ACA exchange program.

what eye thynk:  Of course, on Tuesday, in answer to President Obama acceding to small business leaders request for a one year delay on the ACA requirement that they provide health insurance for their employees,  the Republican led House voted to postpone the individual mandate also.  They sighted the difficulty of getting exchanges up and running.  It should be noted that Democratic led states seem to be having no problems.

Ahh, Republicans, you have to admire their tenacity if not their common sense.

2.   Senate Filibuster
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid got the Republicans to allow the stalled confirmations of several presidential nominees to proceed without threat of a filibuster in exchange for an agreement to leave the filibuster rules alone--for now.  The new accord resulted in the confirmation of Richard Cordray as the first permanent Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Board.  Republicans have attempted to ham-string this Board since its inception, first by attempting to defund it and then by refusing to confirm anyone to head the organization. "Cordray was being filibustered because we don't like the law (that created the consumer agency)" said Lindsey Graham (R-So. Carolina).  This week, and as a result of the new Senate accord, Mr. Graham admitted that this was wrong-headed.

The Senate was also able to return the Labor Relations Board to full functioning status with the approval of two presidential nominees.  A new head of the E.P.A. was also approved.

what eye thynk:   The test of this new Senate accord will come soon when they must take up the confirmations for Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security and a number of federal appeals court judges in the next few weeks.

While I can see the point of bi-partisan confirmation of federal judges, I have never been able to understand why the President must have his cabinet level appointments confirmed by the Senate. Shouldn't the President, no matter which party holds the office, be able to choose the people he works with?  I'm sure someone with more knowledge of government could explain the reason for this requirement; but it has always seemed wrong to me that a man (or woman) can win the office of President of the United States and then have to ask permission to hire his management team.

3.   Same Sex Marriage in England and Wales
On Tuesday, England's Parliament passed a law making same sex marriage legal in England and Wales.  Queen Elizabeth quickly approved the new law and it is expected that same sex couples will be able to begin marrying in Summer 2014.  Conservatives are, of course, appalled; but Paul Barker, Recording Clerk for Quakers in Britain, spoke for the majority:  "It's wonderful to see same-sex marriage achieve legal recognition.  Quakers see the light of God in everyone so we respect the inherent worth of each individual and each loving relationship."

what eye thynk:   Welcome, England!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Republican War on Women - The Texas Front

This is the twelfth 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.”
I am using a different format for this commentary because the article by Erick Eckholm quoted below explains the frightening situation in Texas better than anything I could write.  

If you have been thinking of the rash of new Republican restrictive abortion laws in only the abstract, you need to read this article.  (Any underlines are mine.)

The Texas Front 


"McAllen, Tex. -- At the Whole Woman's Health center here, a young woman predicted what others would do if the state's stringent new abortion bill approved late Friday forces clinics like this one to close:  cross the border to Mexico to seek an 'abortion pill.'

The woman...was referring to a drug that can induce miscarriages and is openly available in Mexico and covertly at some flea markets in Texas.

In Nuevo Progreso, only yards past the Mexican border, pharmacists respond to requests for a pill to 'bring back a woman's period' by offering the drug, misoprostol, at discount prices: generic at $35 for a box of 28 pills, or the branded Cytotec for $175.

When asked how women should use the pills, some of the pharmacists said they did not know and others recommended wildly different regimes that doctors say could be unsafe...

...In the United States, legal medication abortions involve the use, in the first nine weeks of pregnancy, of misoprostol together with a steroid that breaks down the uterine lining.  The success rate is more than 95 percent.  In addition to requiring many clinics to close, the new Texas law would curb such medication abortions by requiring that the drugs be administered at surgery centers and at what doctors call an outdated dosage."
Doctors in Texas and elsewhere have said that provisions of these new laws are medically unnecessary.  But now, Texas lawmakers have gone a step further by deciding that they know how to prescribe medication!  Aside from the obvious fact that only a licensed physician can write a prescription in this country, what part of "outdated dosage" fits with these politicians' claim that their new law "increases the quality of care"?!
"Many women receive incorrect advice on dosage and, especially later in pregnancy, the drug can cause serious bleeding or a partial abortion...

...Lucy Felix, a community educator, said that many of the women she works with do not have legal residency and cannot...cross the southern border to buy the pill for fear that they may not be able to return to their families in Texas.

'The only option left for many women will be to go get those pills at a flea market,' Ms. Felix said.  'Some of them will end up in the E.R.'"
Or there will be a lot babies born with automatic American citizenship to illegal women--another problem that Republicans would like to solve with an ax.
"The two abortion clinics in the Rio Grande Valley say that the cost of meeting ambulatory surgical center standards would be prohibitive.  They also doubt that they could find nearby hospitals that would grant admitting privileges to the abortion doctors, another element of the new law.

'They will close us down,' said Dr. Lester Minto... 

...In a tour of the Whole Woman's Health clinic, (we were shown) some of the design and equipment requirements in the new law that would force the clinic to shut down.  The clinic...performs about 1,900 abortions a year using doctors that fly in from other states...

The clinic, like most in Texas, performs abortions only through the first 15 weeks of pregnancy, using medications or a suction method...and involves no incisions...

...The (clinic) does not have the wide hallways required of a surgery center to facilitate the movement of stretchers in an emergency.  In nine years and thousands of abortions...the clinic has sent only two patients to the hospital, both for readily-treated bleeding.

With plush recliners, a Georgia O'Keeffe flower print on the wall and herbal tea, the center's recovery room resembles a small first-class lounge.

Ambulatory surgery centers, in contrast, must have large, hospital-style recovery rooms, with medical equipment on the walls.  Patients must rest on gurneys, separated by ceiling mounted curtains.  The herbal tea would not be allowed.
In other words, if the Texas law withstands its legal challenges, a woman who would have been able to go to a clinic and have an abortion in caring surroundings where she would be made as comfortable as possible given the emotionally traumatic aspects of the procedure, will be forced to choose between a cold, hospital atmosphere of gurneys and white curtains, (thank God and the Republicans that they'll be ceiling mounted!), or purchasing a drug from a flea market that could end up killing her.
And thus we have the Republican definition of improved "quality of care." 

  The Republican War on Women is "fiction"?


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Eye Recommend --- The House Just Wants a Snack

Ms. Collins has written an excellent article exposing the reverse Robin Hood mind-set of House Republicans who recently passed a farm bill heavy on subsidies for big agriculture companies, but devoid of any mention of food stamps for the poor.
(Any underlines are mine.) 
 "For decades, Congress has merged food stamps--which help poor people pay for their groceries--with agricultural subsidies in one big, messy, bipartisan farm bill...

...Lately, the House has begun chopping up big, complicated bills into what Speaker John Boehner once described as 'bite-sized chunks that members can digest.'"
What is Mr. Boehner saying exactly?  Surely every man and woman elected to Congress must be smart enough to read and understand large pieces of legislation. But then we have Michele Bachmann, so there goes that theory.
"So the farm bill got divided.  The two parts were not equally tidy.  As Ron Nixon reported in The Times, the the rate of error and fraud in the agricultural crop insurance program is significantly higher than in the food stamp program.

And while food stamps go to poor people, most of the farm aid goes to wealthy corporations.

So House Republicans passed the farm part and left food stamps hanging."
There's the Republican Party we all know and love to hate.
"Tea Party conservatives have an all-purpose disdain for anything that smacks of redistribution of wealth, and food stamps are a prime target.  'The role of citizens, of Christians, of humanity, is to take care of each other.  But not for Washington to steal money from those in the country and give to others in the country,' said Representative Stephen Fincher of Tennessee during a speech in Memphis." 
It should be noted that Mr. Fincher sees nothing wrong with the taking/giving process if he is on the receiving end--since 1999, he has received $3.5 million in subsidies for his Tennessee farm. More on his subsidies-for-me-but-not-for-you philosophy here:
"'This is a victory for farmers and conservatives who desired desperately needed reforms to these programs,' said Representative Eric Cantor, the majority leader."
A victory?  So Republicans see it as a war against the poor in this country who desperately need to eat?
"The House bill actually spent more money on subsidies for farmers than the bipartisan Senate version the Republicans scorned.  It also dropped the Senate's limit on aid to farmers with incomes of more than $750,000 a year. And while it mimicked the Senate in dropping most of the much-derided direct payments to farmers, the House gave cotton farmers a two-year extension."
We give federal aid to farmers who make $750,000 a year?!  Really?!?!   
Oh, and did I mention that Mr. Fincher's Tennessee farm is a cotton growing operation? How nice that his crop was singled out for an extension on direct payments.
"Crop insurance gets bigger under the new plan...You, the taxpayer, fork over the majority of the cost of farmers' policy premiums. (Up to 80 percent in the case of cotton.)  Also, you spend about $1.3 billion a year to compensate the insurance agents for the fact that they have to sell coverage to any eligible farmer, whatever his prospects for success.  Plus, if yields actually do drop, you have to compensate the insurance companies for part of the cost of claims.

Is this beginning to sound a little like Obamacare?  No!  No way!  The House Republicans hatehatehate Obamacare!  They vote to repeal it as often as they change their socks!  Because Obamacare will, you know, distort the natural operation of the markets.

The larding of benefits to farmers didn't come up during the House debate.  It was all about food stamps, and Democrats asking to know why their colleagues wanted to cut aid to hungry children and old people...Representative Juan Vargas of California quoted Jesus' lesson that 'whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'

That raised Representative Fincher's hackles.  'Man, I really got bent out of shape,' he told that Memphis audience, proudly reporting that he countered with Thessalonians:  'The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.'"
So I guess Mr. Fincher, who actually does no farming himself, will be giving that $3.5 million in subsidies back?

Monday, July 15, 2013

July 15 - Monday Quote

I was thinking of all the politicians who quote the Bible as they pass laws restricting a woman's legal right to have an abortion and fight against full rights for our LGTB citizens when I chose this week's quote.

monday quote:   A tyrant must put on the appearance of uncommon devotion to religion. Subjects are less apprehensive of illegal treatment from a ruler whom they consider god-fearing and pious. On the other hand, they do less easily move against him, believing that he has the gods on his side. (Aristotle, philosopher, 384 BC - 322 BC)

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Jesus, Homosexuality, the Poor and Today's Conservative Christians

what eye thynk:   Not all Christians, but seemingly the ones with the loudest voices--and maybe with the most to lose if we all stop listening to them.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Quick Fact(s) - Republicans and Democrats: Two Planets in Opposing Orbits

Republicans and Democrats will never see eye to eye; but sometimes they appear to be living in different galaxies.

1.  The I.R.S.

Republican:  The Republican led House wants to cut the I.R.S. budget by $3 billion--24% below what was just approved in March.  The idea is to punish them for targeting Tea Party groups.  Of course, the "targeting" was not really targeting at all, but only a simple, though misguided, way to treat all groups claiming the same aims in an equal manner.  But, this is Republican leadership that we're talking about, so if they can't have an I.R.S. scandal, they'll castigate them anyway to prove a point--even if their point is non-existent. The budget also puts 10% of the enforcement budget in a holding fund until the I.R.S. complies with House recommendations to prevent further abuse of power.

Democrat:  The Democratic majority in the Senate gave the I.R.S. a $1.3 billion increase in their budget.

2.  The Minimum Wage and Health Care  

Republican:  The Fraser Institute, funded by the Koch brothers, published a study recently on "economic freedom", a quality of life issue.  It concluded that, while the U.S. used to lead the world in this category, we have fallen to sixth place behind Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand, Switzerland and Chile.  Each of the five countries rated ahead of us provides government paid health care--which the Koch brothers and the Republican Party vehemently oppose. Furthermore, the Koch brothers are pushing for the elimination of minimum wage laws, claiming that they are hurting businesses and slowing hiring.

Democrat:  Democrats believe that the path to economic freedom begins with having a job that pays a living wage.  They are pushing to raise the federal minimum wage beyond its current 20th Century level.  

I don't think I have to explain the Democratic position on government health care.

3.  Business Banking  

Republican:  The Export-Import Bank is a federally regulated bank created to provide loans and loan guarantees to private corporations to help them with exporting their products or services. There are six voting members on the board who are appointed by the President. By law, no more than three can be of any one party and all loans must be approved by at least three members. Currently, the board is short one Democratic member.  Fred Hochberg, President Obama's nominee for the position, has been approved by the Senate Banking Committee by a vote of 20-2. Senate Republicans are threatening to block his nomination in a full Senate vote.  The usually business-friendly Republican Party's reasoning is interesting:  They are claiming that by blocking his nomination and leaving the position unfilled they will be seen as anti-corporate welfare and thus more appealing to Democratic and Independent voters.

Democrat:  They would like to fill the position so the bank can function properly, help business and create jobs.  I see this issue as an example of political role reversal.

To re-parse John Gray's 1993 best selling book title:  Republicans are from Mars, Democrats are from Venus.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Eye Recommend --- 15 Classic Children's Books That Have Been Banned in America


This is a must read article.  The reasons for their banishment should put fear in the heart of every book lover.

Just a few examples:  

  • The Merriam-Webster Dictionary was banned in some California schools in 2010 because it included the definition of oral sex.
  • The Wizard of Oz was banned in Detroit schools in 1957 because it was of "no value to children of today."
  • In 2006 Kansas banned Charlotte's Web and other parts of the U.S. banned Winnie the Pooh, both because talking animals are "an insult to God".
  • The Giving Tree was banned in 1988 from a Colorado public library because they considered it "sexist" while several schools in that state objected to it by saying it "criminalized the foresting agency."
  • 2010, Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl was banned from a Virginia school because of "sexual content and homosexual themes".  In 2013 a Michigan mother tried to get it banned due to what she called "pornographic tendencies."
This is what happens when you let conservatives into your libraries.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Wanting to Marry is Now a Felony for Same Sex Partners in Indiana

Late last week, the Indiana General Assembly made it a felony for same sex couples to apply for a marriage license in their state.

what eye thynk:    The State of Indiana currently has a law on the books that specifically bans same sex marriage.  The Republican led General Assembly is considering putting a measure on a state wide ballot next year that would amend their constitution to include a same sex marriage ban.

But apparently this isn't enough for these politicians.  While they're deciding whether the citizens of Indiana will support their rush to guarantee second class citizenship for same sex partners, they have decided to set up this additional felony roadblock for those partners seeking marriage equality.

Protest groups like the "We Do" Campaign, encourages same-sex couples to protest anti-gay marriage laws by applying for marriage licenses in their state.  The Indiana General Assembly's new felony law prohibits even this benign form of protest by making giving false information on a marriage license a class D felony.  Since Indiana's marriage license application has a space for "female applicant" and "male applicant", any same sex couple completing the application would be in violation of the law.

Beginning in July 2014, any same sex couple completing a marriage license application will be guilty of a Level 6 felony, which is punishable by 18 months in prison and a $10,000 fine.   Any clerk who issues a license to a same-sex couple or anyone who performs a same-sex marriage--be they clergyman, judge, mayor, or city clerk--would be guilty of a Class B Misdemeanor which could bring 180 days in jail and a fine up to $1,000.

I have to give Indiana points for originality, but their close-minded, Republican led intolerance for anyone who isn't "one of us" is really on display with this move.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Republican War on Women - Good News in Wisconsin

This is the eleventh 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 Wisconsin Front

the facts:   Last Friday, when he thought no one would be looking because of the July 4th holiday week-end, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed his state's new restrictive abortion bill into law.

The law, which was to go into effect on Monday, July 8, required any woman seeking an abortion to undergo an ultrasound even if she and her doctor agreed that it was unwanted and unnecessary.  However, it was another restriction--one that has been included in several Republican sponsored anti-abortion bills in other states during the past year--requiring any doctor performing an abortion to have admitting privileges at a local hospital that has stymied Wisconsin's attempt to prohibit abortion services in that state.

U.S. District Judge William Conley blocked implementation of the law by issuing a temporary restraining order, specifically sighting the admitting privileges requirement by saying it serves "no medical purpose" and that it was rushed into law without medical evidence.  He is requiring that the state prove that this provision safeguards a woman's health, something he feels "does not bear even superficial scrutiny on the current record."
This is an argument I've made many times.  No hospital would turn away an emergency admission because the doctor was not on their admitting doctor list. Can any Republican honestly offer proof that any hospital, anywhere, first requires confirmation that an emergency patient's doctor is one of "their own" before giving treatment?
It is simply a transparent, Republican ploy to prohibit women from exercising their rights under the U.S. Constitution.

  The Republican War on Women is "fiction"?


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Quick Fact(s) - Will Republicans Ever Give Up?

1.   Elections
The Federal Election Commission was created in 1975 by the U.S. Congress.  Its purpose is "to disclose campaign finance information, to enforce the provisions of the law such as the limits and prohibitions on contributions, and to oversee the public funding of Presidential elections."

The FEC is made up of 6 members, appointed by the President and approved by the Senate.  By law, no more than three members can be from one political party.

Currently, the FEC is short one Democratic member, so Republican Vice-chairman Donald McGahn is attempting to force votes before a new Democratic member can be named.  He wants to use the Republican 3:2 advantage in an attempt at a wholesale dissolution of existing regulations including stopping whistle blowers from forwarding information on criminal violations by campaigners and hobbling investigators' preliminary investigations.
It should be noted that Mr. McGahn previously acted as the ethics advisor to Tom Delay--the same Tom Delay who was forced out of Congress under an ethical cloud.  Evidently Mr. McGahn has remained consistent in his contempt for ethical fairness.

2.   ACA
The Koch brothers are spending $1M to run ads across the U.S. discouraging people from signing up for the health insurance they are entitled to through the Affordable Care Act.

Their ads infer that people will no longer be able to choose their own doctor and will be paying more for premiums. "If we can't pick our own doctor, how do I know my family's going to get the care they need?  And what am I getting in exchange for higher premiums and a smaller paycheck?"
First lie:  you are free to choose any primary care doctor who is a participant in whatever coverage plan you choose--just as you can do now.
Second lie:  Initial bids coming from participating insurance companies indicate that consumers will find themselves benefiting from the new competition.  The law also limits and protects against unwarranted price increases.
And the Koch brothers don't even bother to acknowledge the 25 million Americans who are currently without health insurance who will now be able to purchase affordable insurance for themselves and their family.
Really, will Republicans ever give up?  Will they ever begin to focus on "doing" instead of relentlessly concentrating on "un-doing"?  Or are honesty and positive forward motion completely foreign concepts to Republican politicians? 

Monday, July 8, 2013

July 8 - Monday Quote

Today's quote is dedicated to the Supreme Court and their decision to gut the Voter Rights Act and all the Republican state legislators eager to undo forty+ years of good in order to preserve their own positions.

monday quote:   What experience and history teaches us is that people and governments have never learned from history.  (George Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, philosopher, 1770-1831) 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Saturday, July 6, 2013

An Answer for the Republican Led Pro-Gun/Anti-Woman Era

what eye thynk:  The perfect message for all Republican legislators and anyone else who thinks I'm not capable of making my own medical decisions.  This should be on billboards and bumper stickers everywhere.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Eye Recommend --- Unsportsmanlike Conduct on Health Care Policy

The Republican led U.S. House of Representatives has attempted to repeal the ACA 48 times and failed.  Now Republicans in the U.S. Senate are having a go at insuring the health care law fails.  
Mr. Benen, with a little help from Jonathan Cohn and Norm Ornstein, has written an excellent article exposing the Republican Party's double standard when it comes to laws of the land.
Senate Republicans have recently contacted the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, PGA and NASCAR to urge them not to help with Washington's efforts to inform the public about health care benefits Americans are legally entitled to.
"...The federal government is starting a public education campaign about Obamacare...simply to inform the public about the new insurance options that will be available once the law takes full effect.  In 2005, the Bush Administration ran a similar campaign to let seniors know about the Medicare drug benefit...

...'Romneycare' in Massachusetts, offers a perfect parallel.  When a Republican governor created a system practically identical to President Obama's health care model, he needed to get the word out so residents...would sign up.  It made sense to partner with the Red Sox and it worked beautifully--the team played 'a central role' in getting the word out to the public.

Mitch McConnell and John Cornyn are likely aware of this, and desperately hope to avoid similar circumstances.  As a result, they're using their power to pressure sports leagues to help keep Americans in the dark, even if that means (especially if that means) undercutting federal law and families going without benefits to which they are entitled.

But the 2005 campaign with the Bush/Cheney administration's Medicare Part D offers another important reminder from the recent past--Democrats didn't like anything about this legislation, but they didn't try to sabotage the American system after it passed."
The Bush administration insisted that the entire cost be added to the deficit; not one penny was to be paid for out of his budget.
"But once it was law, (Democrats) weren't going to punish needy seniors to sabotage (it).  It is remarkable to use threats of congressional power to intimidate sports organizations so that people who need insurance or need help knowing what is available to them will suffer by being kept in the dark.  Stick it to millions so you can stick it to the president?  That is statesmanship?"
A law is a law, unless you're a Republican.  In that case, there are caveats, to wit:  A Republican written law shall be supported and revered; a Democrat written law shall be sabotaged and repealed .

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Republican War on Women -- The Ohio Front

This is the tenth 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 Ohio Front

As an Ohio woman, I stand today ashamed, alienated and angry at what my state and its government have done to my rights as a citizen of this country.  I wear my second class citizenship uneasily, both resentful and fearful of my reduction in status in the country I love.

the facts:  On Sunday, Ohio Governor John Kasich (R) signed his state's new budget into law.  Hidden in its depths are new abortion restrictions that were added as amendments at the last minute, without public notice, without hearings and without legislative debate.  No committee vetted these restrictions, no discussion between opposing parties were held, no doctors were queried, no women were asked to voice their opinion on their government's decision to restrict their rights as citizens of the United States of American or the State of Ohio.  The subterfuge used to get these restrictions into Ohio law seems to demonstrate just how aware these Republicans were that public opinion was against them in their endeavor.  

These new restrictions took effect yesterday, Monday, July 1, the first day of Ohio's fiscal year.
  • Planned Parenthood clinics are effectively defunded throughout Ohio.  
Because Republicans see nothing wrong with denying all of Ohio's poor women access to medical care in order to impose their anti-abortion stand.
  • Any woman seeking a perfectly legal abortion will now be forced to undergo a state mandated, medically unnecessary ultrasound--even if the woman objects and even if her doctor doesn't recommend one. 
Because Ohio small-government Republicans see nothing wrong with adding a layer of government intrusion between a woman, her family and her doctor in a situation that could not be more private and personal.
  • These state mandated, medically unnecessary ultrasounds will be paid for by the women seeking an abortion. 
Because Republicans cannot see the double standard in telling a woman who cannot afford to raise a child that she must pay extra for a service she doesn't want and her doctor doesn't recommend in order to prevent the state from paying for a procedure they insist be performed.
  • A state-imposed gag order is now in place for rape crisis centers.  Rape counselors will face state mandated restrictions about when they can tell pregnant rape victims about the availability of abortion services to terminate a pregnancy caused by their rape. Breaking this rule gives the state the right to withdraw all federal and state funds and close the center. 
Because Republicans care so much about life that they think further traumatizing a rape victim is worth the price.
  • Doctors are now forced to deliver a speech, written by the Republican legislature, to any woman seeking an abortion--even if the doctor does not believe in the words he is forced to speak.  
Because legislating what a doctor and patient say to each other is deemed to be the function of Ohio's Republican led government.
  • Any clinic that provides abortion services is now required to have transfer agreements in place with local hospitals.  At the same time, the new law bans public hospitals from establishing those agreements. 
Because Republicans thought we wouldn't notice that these contradictory restrictions would effectively ban all abortion services in the state of Ohio.  And does anyone really believe that transfer agreements are in anyway necessary? What hospital would turn away an emergency patient for lack of a signed agreement with a physician?  If that were standard practice, out-of-state traffic accident victims would be left to die on the road.
  • The new, Republican law redefines the words "pregnancy" and "fetus".  Under these new definitions, Republicans have decided that a woman is pregnant at the moment of fertilization--even before the fertilized egg is implanted in the uterine wall.  This effectively makes the use of an IUD unlawful in the eyes of the state of Ohio. 
Because Republicans think that their jurisdiction extends to Ohio bedrooms, that Ohio families are incapable of making their own contraception choices and Ohio women have no right to decide when they will bear children.
Governor Kasich, who has line item veto power, chose to veto 22 other provisions in Ohio's budget bill, but left all the Republican written abortion restrictions intact.  He was surrounded by a row of older, white men as he signed the bill--not one minority, not one woman was asked to stand with him.

Immediately after signing, Mr. Kasich left the room, refusing to answer any questions.  
Governor John Kasich, I name you "Coward."

  The Republican War on Women is "fiction"?