Thursday, July 31, 2014

And Now They Can Add Suing the President to Their List of Koch Deeds

what eye thynk:   John Boehner is a liar and an embarrassment, a man completely in the thrall of the Koch brothers and their money, whose ineffectual leadership has left his party essentially rudderless while allowing nutcases like Ted Cruz to flourish.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Eye Recommend --- Judges Block Abortion Curb in Mississippi

The banner in front of Mississippi's last abortion clinic reads, "The Clinic Stays Open." 

JUDGES BLOCK ABORTION CURB IN MISSISSIPPI, by Campbell Robertson and Eric, Eckholm --
Finally some good news in the women's abortion rights fight.  
"A federal appeals panel on Tuesday blocked a Mississippi law that would have shut the sole abortion clinic in the state by requiring its doctors to obtain admitting privileges at local hospitals, something they had been unable to do."
Since the two doctors who run the last Mississippi clinic are not local to Jackson, where the clinic is located; and because abortion medical emergencies are so rare, the doctors could not reach the necessary threshold to be granted admission privileges in any of the seven hospitals local to the Jackson area. 
The whole issue is moot anyway since an emergency patient would be admitted to any hospital no matter where the emergency originated--whether in an abortion clinic, on a highway or in the patient's own backyard. 
"By a 2-to-1 vote, the panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled that by imposing a law that would effectively end abortion in the state, Mississippi would illegally shift its constitutional obligations to neighboring states...

...'A state cannot lean on its sovereign neighbors to provide protection of its citizens' federal constitutional rights,' Judge E. Grady Jolly wrote.

'Pre-viability, a woman has the constitutional right to end her pregnancy by abortion,' he continued.  This law 'effectively extinguishes that right within Mississippi's borders.'

Mississippi officials had argued that women seeking abortions could always drive to neighboring obtain the procedure, an argument the panel rejected."
The state's argument that abortions were still available in nearby states was presented by Paul E. Barnes, a member of the Mississippi attorney general's office. The judges pointed out that similar laws are being challenged in Louisiana and Alabama and their passage would mean that the state could not claim that women would always be able to rely on neighboring states for abortion services.   This possibility was again raised in a footnote to Tuesday's decision.
"The decision did not overturn the Mississippi law or explore whether the admitting-privilege requirement was justified on safety grounds.  Rather, the panel said, the law could not be used to close the sole clinic in the state...

...Laurence H. Tribe, a professor of constitutional law at Harvard, said that the principle of state responsibility enunciated by the circuit court 'is deeply established and fully entrenched.'

'It goes not only to the issue of reproductive freedom but to the very character of the federal union,' he said."

"Mississippi officials did not say whether the state would appeal...

...State Representative Sam C. Mims, who was the chief sponsor of the law, expressed disappointment with the ruling, saying that the decision reflected a misinterpretation of its purpose.

'Abortion is still legal throughout the nation and, of course, still legal in Mississippi,' he said.  'This legislation did not deal with that; it only dealt with the regulation of abortion clinics.'"
Does Mr. Mims (R) think women are that stupid?  He says abortion is "still legal in Mississippi" and he was just trying to deal with the "regulation of abortion clinics."  Mr. Mims expects women to believe that the closing of all those clinics as a result of his regulations was just a little unintended hiccup.  He isn't really trying to outlaw abortion, honest.  Yeah, right.
As Mr. Tribe explained, no state can arbitrarily opt-out of a federal law while still remaining a part of that matter how you distort or attempt to conceal your purposes.  
"In March, a panel from the same appeals court, composed of different judges, upheld a Texas law requiring admitting privileges, ruling that the closing of some but not all clinics within a state did not present an undue burden to women seeking abortion...

...While the Texas and Mississippi laws were nearly identical, the judges found that the effect in Mississippi, with a single clinic, made the law there...constitutionally distinct from the one in Texas...

...Politicians at the time of the law's passage, including the governor, welcomed the closing as a likely outcome."
But remember, they weren't really trying to get to that result.  Really!  Gosh!  We were jus' thinkin' about the li'l ladies in our li'l ol' state of Mississip and how they need pertectin' an' all.
Twist it anyway you like, a woman's right to legal and safe abortion is a United States law, and as citizens of the United States, woman are protected by those laws...even in Mississippi. 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Quick Note: Virginia's Same-Sex Marriage Ban Goes Down

On Monday, Virginia's ban on same-sex marriage was overturned by a three judge panel from the 4th U.S. District Court of Appeals in Richmond.

In a split decision, Judges Henry Floyd and Roger Gregory wrote: "We recognize that same-sex marriage makes some people deeply uncomfortable.  However, inertia and apprehension are not legitimate bases for denying same-sex couples due process and equal protection of the laws....The choice of whether and whom to marry is an intensely personal decision that alters the course of an individual's life.  Denying same-sex couples this choice prohibits them from participating fully in our society, which is precisely the type of segregation that the Fourteenth Amendment cannot countenance."

Dissenting Judge Paul Niemeyer said he thought that the decision to condemn or embrace same-sex marriage should be determined by the state, not the court.

Same-sex couples cannot begin marrying immediately.  A temporary stay was issued to give the state time to decide if they will file an additional appeal.

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe (D) and Attorney General Mark Herring (D) both declined to defend Virginia's ban, leaving other state officials to make the case against same-sex unions. Governor McAuliffe said he was "overjoyed" with the court's decision.

For those keeping track, August is looking like a busy month for the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals which is scheduled to hear separate same-sex marriage cases in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee.
Being an Ohioan, I am looking forward to next month...a lot.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Flip Benham's Operation Save America - Built on Bricks of Pride

In Wichita Park, Flip Benham, (center), director of Operation Save America, yells at clergy members who support abortion rights.


I know this is supposed to be Monday Quote day, but I spent a lot of sleepless hours last night thinking about my Sunday post and some of the reactions I got to it.  I will not share the opinions of those who responded through e-mail, because I will respect their obvious desire to answer me in private.  But one person responded on a public forum and I believe that leaves me free to respond in kind.

If you didn't read yesterday's post, "The Christian Taliban Strikes During a New Orleans Unitarian Church Service,", please do so here .  I'm afraid today's post won't make much sense without it.  

what eye thynk:   Today, I want to respond to one of the people who commented on Sunday's post. Lee commented that "Unitarian isn't a real 'church' anyway.  It's no different from scientology."

First, who is Lee to decide what constitutes a real church?  Native Americans believe the earth was created by the Mother and that the spirits of their ancestors protect them.   Do they not have the right to that faith or should they be required to vet their beliefs and rituals through someone like Lee? 

Second, why should the status of a church have anything to do with interrupting and terrorizing those who gather to worship in a manner of their choosing?  

Lee missed the entire point of my distaste for Mr. Benham's group's display.  They acted with total disrespect for those Unitarian members' right to practice their faith and despoiled the sanctuary of the people who had joined together to worship.  They wanted the people gathered in that sanctuary to concede that Operation Save America is the only organization worthy of representing true faith in the one God.  They acted like the Taliban.

What makes these people think they had the right to invade this church?  Do they really suppose that, because these people hold different views on women's rights, it makes their sanctuary less holy?

We are a nation of immigrants, a melting pot of different cultures and different beliefs.  We have existed as a nation for 238 years because we have accepted and respected and celebrated our differences.  But more and more we are becoming a nation of intolerant bigots.  Thuggery and a loud voice are becoming more valued than tolerance and an accepting heart.  

Groups like Operation Save America are built from bricks of pride and mortared by people like Lee who judge those who disagree as inferior.  Their mortar is weak and their pride is blind, deaf and ugly.  And un-American.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Quick Note: The Christian Taliban Strikes During a New Orleans Unitarian Church Service

The First Unitarian Universalist Church of New Orleans

This is one of the most shameful examples of the far-right's brand of what they call Christianity:
Last Sunday, Flip Benham's ultra-conservative, anti-abortion organization Operation Save America interrupted a church service at the First Unitarian Universalist Church in New Orleans.
Because an article by Brian Tashman on the Right Wing Watch website about the demonstration referred to its location as the Unitarian Universalist "church", (small case and quotes are Mr. Tashman's), I initially mistook his article for one praising Mr. Benham's group.   However, the Right Wing Watch website identifies itself as a site "dedicated to monitoring and exposing the activities of the right-wing movement...We do not endorse the views of groups that we report on."
Better editing may be in order. (Or an explanation of why Mr. Tashman does not see the Unitarians as a true Church.)
The people interrupting the private church service described it as an effort to "present the truth of the Gospel in this synagogue of Satan."  Their argument seems to be that the Unitarian congregation is pro-choice and supports the building of a new Planned Parenthood clinic in their neighborhood.

Reverend Deanna Vandiver said the Operation Save America group entered their sanctuary just as the congregation was observing a moment of silence for one of their members who had died the previous week. "Into that sacred silence, a voice began to speak, and it began to speak about 'abominations.'  The protesters were shouting that the church was not a true faith.  Literally in our most tender and vulnerable space, religious terrorism began.  No one should invade the sanctuary of another's faith to terrorize people as they worship. I think we were an easy target, because we're literally just a few blocks down the road from where they're building this clinic.  But we are not interested in being terrorized.  Freedom of speech does not trump freedom of religion."

Rev. Vandiver invited the protesters to stay if they could join or observe the worship service respectfully. The congregation then began to sing to drown out the protesters and church leaders escorted the most vocal of Mr. Benham's mob outside.

Deanna Waller, who led the Benham demonstration saw it a bit differently, bragging, though she herself had been ushered out, that "other saints stayed and dialogued until the conclusion of the service.  It created no small stir. (Those who were moved by our message) ran to the Christians and asked them many questions...Seeds of truth were sown.  May the Lord water them in Jesus' name."
By Ms. Waller calling her fellow demonstrators "Christians" in a way that makes it clear they do not use the same identifier for the Unitarian worshipers smacks of an arrogance that would seem at odds with the humbleness and message of tolerance and universal love of the Bible's Jesus.  The actions of the members of Operation Save America are not unlike the self-righteous, divisive and hate-filled actions seen in the Taliban who seem to credit that faith can be legislated through fear and intimidation. 
All Mr. Benham's group needs are a few suicide vests and any reasonable person would be hard-pressed to tell then apart. 

Friday, July 25, 2014

Eye Recommend --- Boehner Wants Obama to Act 'On His Own' On Border Crisis

The irony here is overwhelming; and Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is completely oblivious to it.
"The new House Republican leadership team held a brief press conference (on Tuesday) following a closed-door caucus meeting, fielding a few questions, all of which related to the humanitarian crisis at the U.S./Mexico border...

...Question:  Just a follow up on that: are you still committed to having a vote before you leave? And, given the concerns within your own conference about the costs of this border bill, can you pass something?

Boehner:  Listen, I, I'd like to act.  We've got a humanitarian crisis on the border, and that has to be dealt with.  But the president clearly isn't going to deal with it on his own, even though he has the authority to deal with it on his own.

Wait a second.  Hold on.  Boehner has spent months shouting, sometimes literally, about President Obama's out-of-control power grabs... Boehner is so outraged by Obama's willingness to act unilaterally that the Speaker is literally going to take the White House to Court.

But when push comes to shove, Boehner's apoplexy is a sham.  When the Speaker wants a shift in U.S. policy in Iraq, he demands that Obama deploy troops on his own, whether Congress approves the administration's policy or not."
In a June press conference, Mr. Boehner tried to explain the justification for discussing impeachment and for the GOP lawsuit against the President.  He stated that the President had over-stepped his rights in Iraq...and then said it's not his, (the Speaker's) place to dictate foreign policy to the President but--and note this was in the same press conference--stated that he, (the President) has the right to deploy troops in Iraq with or without the approval of Congress and he should act on that before it is too late.
"When Boehner wants a shift in border policy and finds he's incapable of passing a bill, he again suggests the president can do as he pleases, without regard for lawmakers' approval.

If the Speaker of the House believes Obama should take fewer unilateral actions, fine.  If Boehner believes the president should take more unilateral actions, that's OK too.  But right now, Congress' top Republican official is making both arguments at the same time, which suggests the Speaker isn't even taking his own rhetoric seriously...

...So where does that leave us, seven days before members leave town for a month-long break?  House Republicans now have a bill...(but) Boehner doesn't have the votes to pass the bill in his own chamber, so he (has demanded) that the White House tell House Democrats to help support it.  Since the West Wing isn't especially impressed with the House GOP plan, which is about a third of the size of the original package presented by the administration, Obama isn't inclined to help the Speaker jam through a bad bill.

Which brings us back to where we expected to be:  nowhere.  Republicans won't compromise or take the underlying policy issues seriously, and so it now seems very likely that congress will once again do nothing in the face of a crisis."

Except go home for a month's vacation where they can complain that the President wouldn't help them, leaving the President to deal with the crisis on his own after which they can complain that he is acting on his own without their approval or input.
It's the same ol', same ol'.  The GOP doesn't like the President, refuses to compromise on anything and then holds press conferences complaining that the President won't work with them (GOP translation: "work with" = do what we want and only what we want, no additions or subtractions.)   
This is  followed by complaining that the President over-stepped when he works around their chronic obstructionism.  It's the same message, they only need open their book of grievance form letters, fill in the issue of the day and read it to the press.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Obamacare: The Last Republican Hurrah?

On Tuesday the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, (2 Republicans, 1 Democrat) ruled that the government cannot give subsidies to people who have signed up for health coverage through a federal exchange--even if their state refuses to create an exchange of its own. 

Republicans immediately began celebrating the end of the ACA.  Those with a more balanced view of the decision say "not so fast."

what eye thynk:    The Court's decision is another example of the creeping politicization of our courts. In this case, the two Republican judges looked, not at the intention of the law as other District Courts have done when ruling; but at the narrow wording--wording which both Democrats and Republicans in congress agree is a simple drafting error.  

The law expressly calls for subsidies to be paid to those who sign up for healthcare through their state ACA exchange and who cannot afford the full cost of their health coverage.  The law then allows for the federal government to set up exchanges in those states who fail to do so on their own. 

Addressing subsidies, Section 1401 says that subsidies will be given to those who purchase insurance "through an exchange established by the state," which suggests that subsidies will originate only through state run exchanges.  But Section 1321 reads, in part: (The federal government shall) "establish and operate such Exchange within the State and...shall take such actions as are necessary to implement such other requirements."

As Ezra Klein explained on Tuesday "The key word there is 'such': the Obama administration holds that the clear intent of that line was that a federal exchange counts as a state exchange for the purposes of the law.  That may be a bit confusing--but given the context of everything else in the law, it's clear enough."   

Unless, of course, you're the Republican Party that has spent four years and bet its entire reputation on making the ACA fail.  When you have tried to repeal the act nearly 50 times to no avail, you rejoice when the Halbig plaintiffs grab on to some obscure error in wording and hope they find a Republican judge or two who will buy their argument.

The contention of the two Republican judges in this decision is that, since the law does not specifically say that subsidies may be paid to those signing up through a federally run exchange, those subsidies are illegal.  In other words, if you live in a state that has refused to set up its own state ACA exchange, you must pay the full cost of your health insurance.

The fact is, this is a simple drafting error, one that would have been corrected had the ACA been sent to a congressional drafting committee appointed to look for such errors and ommissions.   Instead, in order to get the law passed, the ACA skipped the vetting step and the bill was presented to the House for a simple up or down, as is vote.

Senator Max Baucus (D-Montana), who was the primary author of the bill said, "The clear intention of the health-care law is to provide consumers with tax credits to purchase quality, affordable health coverage through either a state or federally-facilitated exchange."

Hours after the DC Court announced their ruling, the District Court in Richmond agreed with Mr. Baucus and issued a decision in favor of subsidies for federal exchanges.   "It is...clear that widely available tax credits are essential to fulfilling the Act's primary goals and that Congress was aware of their importance when drafting the bill."

The Obama administration will undoubtedly ask for an en banc hearing where the full D.C. District Court hears the case, not just a three judge panel, with the expectation that the full court will overturn the panel's decision.

Even now, Congress could stop this waste of time and energy.  They need only pass a one page addendum specifically stating that subsidies may also be issued by federally run insurance exchanges.  But Republicans won't allow that to happen. 

Republicans want to keep beating this horse until it finds itself at the door to the Supreme Court. Surely there must be some of their members who believe that the Supreme Court, even in its current highly polarized estate, is not going to deny millions of people affordable health care in order to make a point about proper grammar or clearly worded language.  

This is simply a last hurrah in the Republican Party's efforts to keep their base in a frenzy over the President, his Party and his health care law until after the 2014 election.  Until, you know, they are back in charge and all is right with the world.  When they will stand in their Divinely protected magic forest, surrounded by God's angels and present their own Much-Talked-About-But-Never-Glimpsed Health Care Plan.

Or not.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Eye Recommend --- Good News! Michele Bachmann May Run for President in 2016

I'm re-posting this article in its entirety, because sometimes you just don't want to miss a word.  
"Minnesota congresswoman and Tea Party hero Michele Bachmann, who is planning to leave the House after its current session ends, may have run her last race for Congress--but that doesn't mean she's necessarily ready to stop being a politician altogether.

That's right: Bachmann 2012 may indeed get a much-anticipated sequel!

Speaking with RealClearPolitics on Tuesday, the woman who redefined the word chutzpah for all time said that the media was dropping the ball by focusing on so many potential 2016 presidential candidates who are male when there's a female candidate who may be just waiting in the wings. (Spoiler:  It's her!)

'The only thing that the media has speculated on is that it's going to be various men that are running,' Bachmann complained.  'They haven't speculated, for instance, that I'm going to run.  What if I decide to run?  And there's a chance I could run.'

Bachmann continued, claiming that her failed run at the White House in 2012 would, if anything, make her better suited than before to seek her party's most important nomination."
Because taking a second shot worked so well for Romney?
"'Like with anything else, practice makes perfect,' Bachmann said.  'And I think if a person has gone through the process--for instance, I had gone through 15 presidential debates--it's easy to see a person's improvement going through that.' 

Bachmann is indeed correct in saying she participated in a high number of presidential debates during the 2012 campaign.  On a totally unrelated note, Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus has made it known for years that a chief goal of his for the party in 2016 is to conduct fewer debates."
The presidential primaries are nearly two years away and she's already exercising her right to be clueless. 
Oh, please, Michele, do run again.  It will make 2016 so much more entertaining.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Republicans Say the Darndest Things - AIDS Explained, It's All About Economics...and Sodomy

Bob Frey (R)
Candidate for 
Minnesota House of Representatives

Candidate Bob Frey is trying to convince voters that he really doesn't dislike gay people.  His fight against what he calls the "gay agenda" is simply to protect the citizens of Minnesota from the "financial impact of that agenda."  He offered an *ahem* scientific explanation of his fight in a recent interview:

"It's more about sodomy than about pigeonholing a lifestyle.  When you have egg and sperm that meet in conception, there's an enzyme in the front that burns through the egg. The enzyme burns through so the DNA can enter the egg...(But when the) sperm is deposited's the enzyme that causes the immune system to fail.  That's why the term is AIDS-acquired immunodeficiency syndrome...It's about sodomy. It's huge amounts of money.  AIDS is a long term illness, causing pain, suffering, death, a long-term illness that's expensive to treat."

There is absolutely no scientific basis for his theory, but still he persists. 

And though he may try to portray his fight as a simple money issue--no gay hatred here folks!--this is the same man who, earlier this year, distributed a DVD claiming a Minnesota anti-bullying bill was really a plot to use sodomy to infect the general population with AIDS in order to promote profits for doctors and drug companies.  More on that  here.

It should be noted that Mr. Frey claims one of his major accomplishments was to help U.S. Representative Michele Bachmann (R) defeat a "profiles in learning" education program.
I'd like to suggest a new campaign slogan for Mr. Frey:  "Bob Frey, Keeping Minnesota Stupid Through Sodomy."

Monday, July 21, 2014

July 21 - Monday Quote

This quote is aimed at all those state legislators and governors who have gutted their education budget in order to pay for reducing taxes. 

monday quote:  (T)he tax which will be paid for this purpose is not more than the thousandth part of what will be paid to kings, priests and nobles who will rise up among us if we leave the people in ignorance. (Thomas Jefferson, 1743-1826, principal author of the Declaration of Independence and 3rd President of the United States, in a speech supporting the creation of a federal tax to fund universal public education.)

Sunday, July 20, 2014

A Special Bible Message for the GOP and My Journey Back to Where I Started

  • "No" on raising the minimum wage?  
  • "No" on expanding Medicaid in (most) red states?
  • "Yes" on reducing access to food stamps?  
  • "No" on tax reform that would see the rich pay their fair share?  
  • "Yes" to the belief that poor people are poor because of an in-bred "cultural pathology" that makes them unwilling to work as hard as their "betters?"
  • "Yes" on thinking we should be the boss of the world and that war on our terms is the answer?  
  • "No" on student debt relief?  
  • "No" on an extension of unemployment benefits?
  • "Yes" to the belief that conservatives know more about what God wants and He wants them to say"No" on science?

Why, yes, the Bible does have something to say about that:

what eye thynk:   This photo put me on a journey of self-examination.  

When I first saw this photo, it made me smile.  Then it made me feel a superior kind of anger.  Then I realized it is exactly that feeling of superiority which makes the GOP tick and I was left with feeling sad...for myself for having fallen into a trap; but mostly for them and their particular, self-important, self-perpetuating species of self-delusion and for their inability to see their pride as antithetical to the beliefs they tout so loudly.

I thought about how sick I have beccome of the far-right Christian minority claiming they know how everyone should live--that their Christianity is better than your Judaism, better than your Buddhism, your Islamism--even that their Christianity is better than your Christianity.

I realized I have reached the point where I have to consciously remind myself that these uber-conservative Christians ARE, in fact, the minority.  And I thought about people I know, believers like my husband, like a NY actor friend of mine and another friend who is a local pastor--Christians who don't condemn those who are different or claim to have a direct line to God's home phone.  

Then I looked at the photo again and remembered that the guy in the middle recently got himself "removed" and realized I had come full circle.  I was smiling.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Quick Note: Florida Makes a (Sort of) Move for LGBT Rights

If you thought it was hard to keep same-sex marriage laws, state bans, over-turned bans, over-turned bans under a court-ordered stay, over-turned bans in appeal and over-turned bans that lost their appeal and are now headed for a higher court straight in your mind before...consider Florida.

from the Associated Press:

"A judge legalized same-sex marriage in Monroe County on Thursday, siding with gay couple in the Florida Keys who said the state's ban, approved by voters in 2008, is discriminatory and makes them second-class citizens.  The ruling applies only to Monroe County and was immediately appealed by Attorney General Pam Bondi.  Judge Luis M. Garcia, appointed by Gov. Jeb Bush, said couples could get marriage licenses as early as Tuesday."
So, if a same-sex couple living in Pinellas County goes to Monroe County, will they be issued a license?  And if yes, will they be permitted to marry back home in St. Pete?  And if a Monroe County same-sex couple gets married in the Keys, will their marriage be recognized if they move to Jacksonville?
In Miami/Dade County where it is still illegal for same-sex couples to marry, a recent court case ended in a decision saying they can adopt children together as a couple or adopt each other's children.
Good grief!  While any step to remove restrictions on the rights of LGBT citizens is welcome, I have to ask:  Could  Florida have made this issue any more confusing?

Friday, July 18, 2014

Quick Note(s): Arizona Republicans Stand On Immigration May Need a Little Work

Arizona #1
 State Rep. Adam Kwasman (R)

Arizona State Representative Adam Kwasman (R) is running for the U.S. Congress.   On Wednesday, he decided to show his unhappiness with the influx of illegal immigrant children into the United States by participating in a demonstration as one of the border patrol buses loaded with immigrant children passed on its way to a Tucson shelter.

He snapped pictures of the bus and tweeted to his followers:  "Bus coming in.  This is not compassion.  This is the abrogation of the rule of the law."  As local reporters recorded the event, Mr. Kwasman called for the White House to abide by the law and enforce our border.
Later, Mr. Kwasman told one reporter he could "see some of the children" and noted "the fear on their faces."
As boasts go, this one seems oddly discordant to me.  Or is the ability to frighten children something GOP voters actually look for in a candidate?
As he continued to hold court, undoubtedly looking forward to a couple of good sound bytes on the local news, 12News reporter Will Pitts noted that, what he saw as the bus passed were children laughing and taking pictures of the demonstrators--which is when the demonstration and Adam Kwasman's "fear on their faces" vaunt fell apart.

You see, that bus was filled, not with immigrant children, but with local kids on their way to a YMCA summer camp. At first, the protesters tried to make this out to be an elaborate trick to help get the bus past the demonstrators; but, no, these were really just local Arizona adolescents on their way to the Triangle Y Camp.

In an on camera interview, Mr. Pitts asked the candidate, "Do you know that was a bus with YMCA kids?" Mr. Kwasman did a quick about face.  "They were sad, too.  Okay, I apologize.  I didn't know. I was leaving when I saw them."
Huh?  Leaving what?  Where?  And how, if the reporter saw kids laughing, did Mr. Kwasman see "fear"...or maybe it was sadness. (Backtracking on camera can be so embarrassing.)
"People are not happy down the line.  That was an error by me.  Those were not migrant children.  That's fine.  It was a mistake.  That was a mistake.  That was not correct and that's a mistake." 
In the end, it was Mr. Kwasman's supporters who were "sad" that such a stellar opportunity to bully immigrant children ended up being mocked by the media and it was Mr. Kwasman who was left to "fear" for his credibility.

Arizona #2 

Sheriff Paul Babeu

Paul Babeu, sheriff of Pinal County, Arizona decided to assist local anti-immigrant demonstrators by publishing the exact location where some of the children who had recently crossed our border illegally were to be housed.  He posted the information on social media sites, issued a press release and gave the information to an anti-immigrant activist.

When CNN's Anderson Cooper asked if this wasn't counter-productive to the sheriff's job of keeping the peace in Pinal County, Sheriff Babeu said he was acting over concerns that some of the children might have gang connections or be carrying diseases that could threaten the health of local residents.  "My question to Homeland Security was, give us a sense of the profile of these individuals."

Mr. Babeu's actions resulted in the children being rerouted to other locations.

It should be noted that, while the sheriff's enterprise was successful, it was also ripe with the scent of hypocrisy.  

In 2012, while he was a candidate for Congress, it was revealed that Sheriff Babeu, who is gay, was having an intimate relationship with a man who was an undocumented, illegal resident of the U.S.  At that time, the Phoenix New Times reported that a "Mexican man identified only as Jose alleged that Babeu and his attorney, Chris DeRose, threatened that he could be deported if he didn't sign an agreement not to disclose his romantic affair with Babeu, who has a national reputation as a border-security hawk."
Don't you just love the way anti-immigrant GOP-ers have one set of rules for "them" and a totally different set of standards for "us?"  Or maybe I'm wrong and Sheriff Babeu asked Homeland Security to vet Jose's gang affiliation and medical records before welcoming him into his bedroom.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Quick Note: A Message for All Those Fact-Adverse Republicans:

(Thank you to my friend, Eric for sharing this.)

I doubt anyone watching Fox will see these numbers; but, oh, don't they speak loudly?

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Eye Recommend --- Top House Republican Admits That There Are No Grounds to Impeach President Obama

House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R)

On Sunday, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Bob Goodlatte (R-Virginia) told ABC's George Stephanopoulos that, despite election cycle rhetoric, there are no grounds to impeach President Obama.
"'We are not working on or drawing up articles of impeachment.  The Constitution is very clear as to what constitutes grounds for impeachment of the President of the United States.  He has not committed the kind of criminal acts that call for that.'"
In his article, Mr. Easley wonders if the lawsuit proposed by House Speaker John Boener (R-Ohio) against the President is an attempt to curtail the impeachment talk. (More on the lawsuit here.)
"If Boehner was trying to take impeachment off the table with this lawsuit, he is failing miserably.  The lawsuit is whetting the appetite among the Republican rank and file for impeachment.  It is almost as if they expect impeachment if Republicans win back control of the Senate...

...(But) Republicans have been calling for this president to be impeached for things that George W. Bush did.  Currently, some Republicans want to impeach Obama for Bush's immigration policy.  It never stops, but the Boehner lawsuit has thrown gasoline on the fire. Instead of calming the impeachment talk, House Republicans have made things exponentially worse with their lawsuit scheme.

Veteran congressional Republicans understand what impeaching Bill Clinton did to their approval ratings.  That's why they are trying to steer the base away from impeaching President Obama.  However, the lawsuit could backfire on the House Republicans.  Instead of firing up Republican voters for November, a refusal to impeach might cause them to stay home. Republican voters have been told for years that Obama needs to be removed from office, so they aren't going to be happy when their elected members of congress refuse to follow through."
Since 2008, the Republican party has made attempt after attempt to derail the Obama presidency--promises to their voters that they could not deliver.

  • They promised to make him a one-term president. *President Obama is now half way through his second term.
  • They promised to repeal the ACA.  *After nearly 50 votes to repeal, even Republicans are beginning to admit that the ACA is a success. 
  • They promised to remake the federal budget solely on their terms.  *The 2013 Republican-forced federal government shutdown gained them exactly nothing.
  • They filibustered presidential nominee after presidential nominee in an effort to keep Mr. Obama's influence on the courts to a minimum.  *The Democrats finally had enough and changed the filibuster rule.
  • They have spent millions of dollars mining for scandals at the IRS and in Benghazi.  *Current result: bupkis.

With each failed attempt, the GOP chose to up the ante, promising the party faithful that success was within their reach.  They are now facing the fact that they have "upped" themselves to the edge of cliff with the faithful salivating at their backs over the promise of that final leap.  
"Top House Republicans have painted themselves into a corner, and they are being forced to admit that they don't really want to impeach Obama.  The lawsuit still sets up a path to impeachment, but it is clear that the House Republican leadership is losing their nerve and they apparently don't want to go down that road."
Congressional Republicans have effectively reached the end of their ante-trail. With nothing left in their arsenal, it's time for Boehner to admit their approach has been wrong.  It's time to work to salvage something of his party's dignity and to rebuild a viable, workable federal government.  They have to believe that the faithful can take the truth.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Quick Note: A "Wish I'd Said That" Response to Hobby Lobby

Hobby Lobby owner and CEO David Green

The week after the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision, Time magazine published an in-depth article about Hobby Lobby owner David Green.  This week's magazine included reader responses to that article.  

This one from Norman Powers of Sarasota, Florida caught my eye:
"No matter that Time presents (CEO David) Green in an honorable light, in my opinion, an honorable person has tolerance for other people's beliefs."
Yep, wish I'd said that.

Monday, July 14, 2014

July 14 - Monday Quote

This comes from a recent msnbc interview where Col. Wilkerson talked about his fellow Republicans, racism within his party and specifically Dick Cheney; but it applies to so much going on in this country today and to so many issues.

monday quote:   Immorality is something that can be ferreted out, checked and balanced.  Amorality is an altogether different affair, especially when you're exploiting the politics of fear in order to carry out state purposes, which is what Dick Cheney's forte is. (Retired U.S. Army Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, former Chief of Staff to Colin Powell, 1945 -    )

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Eye Recommend --- Local Clergy Hand Out Condoms at Aurora Hobby Lobby Store

These are the kinds of Christians who should be in the headlines, not the ultra-conservative-we-hate-everyone-who-isn't-us kind.  (Any underlines are mine.)
"A small group of clergy and representatives from Planned Parenthood handed out condoms Wednesday evening in front of a Hobby Lobby store in Aurora in response to (the) U.S. Supreme Court ruling involving the company."
Reverend Mark Winters of the First Congregational United Church of Christ in Naperville first made a half-joking comment on his Facebook page.  The response was positive and immediate, so he decided to act on it.
"The group stood outside the store...and handed materials to people as they walked into the store.  The demonstrators did not approach anyone with children...

...(Rev. Winters) said he hoped people who happened upon the demonstration would walk away with an understanding that Christians have a wide variety of opinions regarding birth control.

In addition, he hoped it would get people to question whether the court ruling was fair to the religious freedom of Hobby Lobby employees who have beliefs differing from their employer.

'You can make the religious freedom argument, you can make the argument about contraception, but ultimately, for me, this is about power,' he said....

...'Jesus had a lot of issue with powerful people using power over the powerless.

The issue of power was also the primary reason Rev. Emmy Lou Belcher, a recently retired minister of the DuPage Unitarian Universalist Church in Naperville, agreed to attend the demonstration...'The health care law is meant to cover a diverse people aren't excluded.  What this has done is exclude."

...(Rev. Winters added) "We believe in the freedom of individual conscience and support the rights of others to have their individual conscience respected,'...

Hobby Lobby officials referred inquiries about the demonstration to The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which represented the company in court.  Becket Fund spokeswoman Emily Hardman said that the company has not released any statements regarding protests at its stores."
Does anyone else see the irony in the name The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty? Why is it that these conservative Christians think liberty is their exclusive moral right?
A church that chooses exclusion over inclusion and, as the Rev. White said, chooses to wield power over the powerless, is not following the teachings of the Jesus I learned about in Sunday School.   It is a cult of close-minded people, blind to their own fallacy and deaf to those who would point out their purposeful self-deception. 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

The GOP Mandate on Foolishess

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has finally announced the basis for his party's proposed lawsuit against President Obama.  It's not what anyone expected.

what eye thynk:   After weeks of hearing Republicans talk about the necessity of filing a lawsuit in order to stop the lawless and over-stepping President, the best Mr. Boehner and his party could come up with is a suit based on the President's postponing of the employer mandate provision in the Affordable Care Act--not the steps the President has taken to move ahead on immigration; not the new regulations against carbon emissions, not the executive order raising the minimum wage for employees working under government contract, not the pending executive order designed to give workplace protection to gay employees--they are suing the President over a year long postponement of the ACA's requirement that employers with 50 or more full-time employees provide health care for their workers.

The suit's focus becomes even more ridiculous when we remind ourselves that it was small business owners themselves who asked for the postponement and it was the GOP who urged the White House to grant the request.  Just last summer, Republicans were crying to the media that the employer mandate was going to kill jobs and was going to force these companies out of business.  They vehemently complained that the requirement was unworkable, it was too fast, too much, too soon.  So basically, John Boehner is planning to ask the House to vote on whether they should go forward with a lawsuit that complains about the fact that the President acceded to a demand they themselves made less than a year ago. 

As Steve Benen pointed out earlier this week, in order for a judge to put the suit on his court's docket, Mr. Boehner must demonstrate that the plaintiff, (the GOP), will be harmed or will face the threat of harm by the act in question.  They "can't simply go to court and argue to the judge 'We don't like the president.'  They need to show how they've been adversely affected by the delay itself."

Good luck with that.  I don't see success in the future for a lawsuit that says "We loved this idea in 2013, but then the President did what we wanted, which caused us to hate it so much in 2014 that we are being harmed by this thing that we thought we loved."

Mr. Benen's article attempted to answer some obvious questions about this dynamic:

"*Given how upset Republicans are, Obama's move must have been unprecedented. Actually, it's not.  When the Bush/Cheney administration was implementing Medicare Part D, officials used executive power to move implementation deadlines around in order to make the law work more effectively.  No one cared--and certainly no one sued.

*Do Republicans support the employer mandate?  No they vehemently oppose it...

...*So Boehner is suing because Obama isn't implementing Obamacare fast enough?  Pretty much."

And that's it in a nutshell, the GOP hates the ACA, has spent millions of dollars voting to repeal the ACA and uncountable sound bites railing against the ACA and is now planning on filing a lawsuit saying they are being harmed because the ACA isn't happening fast enough.

Can the Republican Party possibly make themselves look any more foolish?

Friday, July 11, 2014

Quick Note: Colorado Claims All 15 Federal Judges Got It Wrong

Yesterday, Federal District Judge C. Scott Crabtree struck down Colorado's ban on same-sex marriage. 

"The court holds that the marriage bans violate plantiffs' due process and equal protection guarantees under the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Colorado currently allows civil unions for same-sex couples, but the state constitution prohibits issuing them marriage licenses.  Judge Crabtree called that difference "further evidence of discrimination against same-sex couples."  

State Attorney General John W. Suthers defended the ban with an argument that said marriage is for the purpose of procreation.
This is one of those arguments that drives me nuts.  If procreation was the be-all and end-all of marriage, then what about couples who cannot have children?  Or choose not to? Should the state require that heterosexual couples have a fertility test and then deny those who cannot procreate a license to marry?  And should a marriage license come with a clause that, should you not produce a child within xyz years, your license is revoked?
Judge Crabtree took another view of the procreation argument by talking of two over-65 friends of his who are planning a wedding.  Pointing out that they obviously have no plans to produce children, he asked the Attorney General "How do I divorce that from love and devotion?  Where does that fit?"

Assistant Solicitor General Michael Francisco, who aided Mr. Suthers in the case, argued that the other federal judges who have overturned state same-sex marriage bans in recent months got it wrong.  Mr. Francisco insisted that all 15 of those judges misread the Supreme Court's 2013 ruling on DOMA.

Of that argument, Judge Crabtree asked, "They all got it wrong?  What am I supposed to do then when presented with this?  Just punt?"

Governor John Hickenlooper (D) did not declare for one side or the other in the case.  He did not try to stop the Attorney General from going forward with the case; but Governor Hickenlooper has called the ban "bad policy."

Judge Crabtree issued a stay on his decision, so same-sex couples will have to wait a while longer for this case to make its through the appeals process, along with those other 15 "wrongly" decided cases.
You'd think by now, these people would realize they have lost the war.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Quick Note: Oh, Supreme Court, What Hath Thou Wrought?

Well, this didn't take long:
Last week, the Supreme Court created the Church of the Holy Corporation by ruling that Hobby Lobby's owners could impose their conservative religious beliefs on their female employees by denying them free access to contraception. 

One day later, religious leaders elsewhere were looking to get their foot in the door of the Court's new tabernacle by requesting an exemption that would allow them to discriminate against their gay employees. Thanks to the Supreme Courts' egregious ruling, these religious bigots are now free to claim that corporations can have religious beliefs and those corporate beliefs are more important than the beliefs of mere employees. 

The President has said he will sign an executive order that would prohibit government contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.  ENDA, a similar bill, was passed by the Senate in November 2013 with a bi-partisan vote of 64-32. House Speaker John Boehner has refused to put the bill to a vote in the House.  With no sign of movement on the issue, the White House drafted an order that would protect LGBT employees who work for companies or organizations that do business with the federal government.

Seeing an opening in the Hobby Lobby decision, Michael Wear, former Obama staffer, the Reverend Larry Snyder, leader of the Catholic Charities USA, Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church and Stephan Bauman, president of a wing of the National Association of Evangelicals sent a letter to the White House.

In it, these "Christians" wrote, "We are asking that an extension of protection for one group not come at the expense of faith communities whose religious identity and beliefs motivate them to serve those in need."  They wrote that they seek a "robust religious exemption."

Michael Wear, who drafted the letter, calls himself an "ardent supporter" of gay rights.  
His definition of "ardent" must be different from mine.  You can't call yourself a supporter--ardent or otherwise--while, at the same time, advocating that your supportees be denied workplace protection.
Mr. Wear told the New York Times that "We're not trying to support crazy claims of religious privilege." He explained that the letter was only a request that these groups be permitted to uphold their religious-based moral standards for their staff members.
Mr. Wear would seem to be the poster boy for self-delusion. If requesting permission to discriminate on the basis of religion is not a "crazy claim of religious privilege" then what is it?
And on what do these "Christians" base their "moral standards" homophobia? They claim conservative Christian values, yet they simply ignore the second commandment: "Matthew 22:31  And the second is this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.  There is none other commandment greater than this."  Where is the verse where Jesus said "except for...?"
So far, these exemption requests have come from conservative Christian companies and organizations.   I can't wait to hear the uproar when the first Muslim company requests a religious exemption asking that they be permitted to impose Shariah Law on their employees.  
The Supreme Court has opened a can of worms so big they make Godzilla look like a gnat. 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Eye Recommend --- Senate Dems Prep Contraception Legislation

The Statue of Freedom atop the dome of the U.S. Capitol.  The statue is a female figure, standing on a cast-iron globe encircled with the words E Pluribus Unum, Latin for Out of Many, One.

Knowing this is a long shot and there will be lots of Republican breast-beating and even more press conferences, conservative sound-bites and claims that the President is a Nazi-inspired dictator who believes he is above the law, this still made me smile this morning.
(Any underlines are mine.) 
"The Supreme Court's conservative majority had its say on contraception last week.  As msnbc's Irin Carmon reports, Senate Democrats will kick off their legislative response today.

On Wednesday, congressional Democrats plan to introduce the 'Protect Women's Health From Corporate Interference Act,' which according to a summary provided to msnbc, 'ensures that employers cannot interfere in their employee's decisions about contraception and other health services.'  The bill states that all insurance plans--including those provided by for-profit corporations--must cover contraception, though it keeps the exemption for houses of worship and the 'accommodation' for religious nonprofits.

The charge is being led by Washington Sen. Patty Murray, who said at the time of the decision that it 'sets a dangerous precedent and takes us closer to a time in history when women had no choice and no voice.'  She added, 'Since the Supreme Court decided it will not protect women's access to health care, I will.'"
Patty Murray for President!
"For Democrats and proponents of reproductive rights, this is no small development.  Murray will host a press conference this morning to unveil her bill, standing alongside Sens. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Barbara Boxer (D-California) and Mark Udall (D-Colorado); Reps Diana DeGette (D-Colorado, Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.); as well as the National Women's Law Center's Marcia Greenberger, NARAL Pro-Choice America's Ilyse Hogue, and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund's Cecile Richards.

A simple, perfunctory rollout this isn't.

What's more, Murray's bill, which will immediately feature a companion measure in the House, will have the White House's full support.  Indeed the measure was reportedly 'put together in consultation with the Obama administration.'...

...Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said yesterday the Protect Women's Health From Corporate Interference Act will be near the top of his to-do list.

'The one thing we're going to do during this work period, sooner rather than later, is to ensure that women's lives are not determined by virtue of five white men,' Reid said.

Looking ahead, there are two broad angles to keep an eye on.

The first is whether the bill can pass legal muster.  After all, it's not as if the legislative branch can simply overturn a Supreme Court ruling by passing a bill.

But note that the Hobby Lobby ruling wasn't based on the First Amendment, but rather, something called the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) from the 1990s.  The new proposal from Murray and her allies intends to clarify this area of the law, its constitutional merit is not in question.

The second is whether the bill has any chance at all of becoming law this year.  Realistically, even the most optimistic proponent of women's rights would probably concede that a House dominated by far-right Republicans probably won't approve legislation to make contraception access easier.  On the contrary, the GOP-led House widely celebrated the high court's Hobby Lobby ruling and sees no need to revisit the policy."
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) will undoubtedly refuse to bring the bill to a vote as he has done with numerous bills since his ascendancy to Speaker--with no consideration given to whether they were popular with his constituency or the American people as a whole.  If the Republican majority doesn't approve of a bill, he simply refuses to allow it to come to a vote, the people be damned.  If you want to throw the "dictator" epithet around, Republicans need look no further than their own leadership. 
He makes me ashamed to be from Ohio.
"But for supporters of the Protect Women's Health From Corporate Interference Act, it's worth the effort.  If there's a bipartisan agreement and the legislation reaches the Oval Office, great.  If this joins the list of popular measures killed by congressional Republicans, Democrats and their allies have a campaign issue for the fall

Either way, this is a fight progressives, and the reproductive rights community in general, are eager to have."
I can't wait to hear the GOP sound-off against this bill while still denying there is a Republican war on women. 
I can't wait to hear them explain how they chose to celebrate with the Church-of-the-Holy-Corporation while treating women who want access to family planning as acceptable collateral damage in their continuing fight against Obamacare. 
It should be quite a show.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Republicans Say the Darndest Things - A Little Thermometer Problem

Kentucky State Senator
Brandon Smith (R)
Chairman of the Natural Resources and Energy Committee and 
Member of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Committee

At a recent hearing on carbon emissions:  "I don't want to get into the debate about climate change, but I will simply point out that I think in academia we all agree that the temperature on Mars is exactly as it is here.  Nobody will dispute that.  Yet there are no coal mines on Mars.  There are no factories on Mars that I'm aware of."
According to NASA scientists, the average temperature on Mars is minus 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
As for that "in academia we all agree" reference, holding a bachelor's degree does not may you an academe; and a degree in political science does not make you a scientist.  (Obviously.)

Monday, July 7, 2014

July 7 - Monday Quote

Sadly, this is even more true today...and not quite so funny.

monday quote:  Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of Congress; but I repeat myself.  (Mark Twain, author and humorist, 1835-1910)

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Eye Recommend --- A Democratic Congress Could Undo the Hobby Lobby Ruling and Protect Women

This article looks forward from the SCOTUS decision. (Any underlines are mine.)
"The Guttmacher Institute issued a press release (on Tuesday, July 1) that should frighten Republicans, as it clearly lays out the future going forward after Monday's egregious SCOTUS ruling giving corporations the right to deny contraception healthcare insurance coverage to women.  Guttmacher points out that the administration could take actions but also, Congress could act through new legislation."
Of course, new legislation is not going to happen in today's hyper-partisan Congress, but there is a mid-term election coming up in the fall.  The President has said that he will protect women's rights on this issue; but it is unclear what, if anything, he can do on his own.  Whatever happens, it is not going to be an overnight fix.  We, as women, are looking at another long fight for equality.
"As (was) pointed out (on Monday), this is a huge platform to hand to Democrats in an election year.  Republicans are now going to be running against birth control, and as Guttmacher notes, 'More than 99% of women aged 15-44 who have ever had sexual intercourse have used at least one contraceptive method.' 

Discriminating against contraception because it might be used as an abortifacient is a fail.  Furthermore, Hobby Lobby objected to at least one form of birth control that regulates a woman's eggs even before they are fertilized.  But taking this a step further, contraceptives are often prescribed for medical reasons...IUDs are often ordered for women suffering from hemorrhaging.  The only other option is endometrial ablation surgery, which means she can never have children.

Let that sink in for family values.

The Guttmacher Institute also made it clear that the government has a strong case for its contraceptive policy, 'Indeed, in an impassioned dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg...made it clear that the government's case for the contraceptive coverage policy is very strong.  Decades of scientific evidence and the life experiences of millions of women show that contraception enables women to prevent unintended pregnancies and to plan and space wanted pregnancies.  That, in turn, has numerous health benefits or mothers and babies, and promotes women's educational, economic and social advancement.'"
 Ms. Jones' article then references the facts that Hobby Lobby invests in companies that manufacture birth control devices and drugs--including the company that manufacturers IUDs--and also has a vast business relationship with China where abortion is mandatory.
"As Republicans chase themselves off a right wing cliff, not only their 2012 platform embraced the liberty killing personhood amendment, but when parsed out, it was looking like they wanted to abolish contraception all together.  And here we have Hobby Lobby making that argument.

The thing is, a real Congress could change this.  A Congress that was willing to put people first could change this.  Democrats and Independents can run on something that almost everyone agrees upon, and that is that women's healthcare should not be something an employer can opt out of, and birth control is part of a woman's health care.

The worst hypocrisy of this whole debacle is the fact that birth control is the single best way to reduce abortions, and yet Hobby Lobby and the GOP are against it for 'religious' reasons, which they tie to being 'pro-life'.  This is not even the usual GOP position of being pro-fetus, but rather, this is being pro-abortion.  They are actually causing more abortions on purpose, because they know that empirical evidence shows that access to birth control reduces the number of abortions."
The problem is, the far-right has convinced itself that ANYTHING that will prevent a pregnancy is wrong. And once they managed to put God into their message, they became a classic example of not knowing when to stop.  In their zeal to prevent abortions, they have latched onto any product, device or service associated with pregnancy without thinking of the consequences of their ire or the results their ire can yield, i.e. less contraception = more unwanted pregnancies = more abortions. 
It's an argument that an intelligent examination of the facts could dismantle in minutes; but these people are deaf to any opinion but their own.  It is up to the rest of us to keep the lemmings in check...and that means voting in November and in every election before and after.  We need the voice of Democrats in our government.  We need legislators who respect the separation of church and state.
We need a Congress that works.