Saturday, February 28, 2015

Quick Note: Republicans - They Just Can't Stop the Stupid

Texas State Senator Donna Campbell (R) and the Alamo, still under Texas ownership

In 2014, the U.S. Department of the Interior nominated a group of five former Spanish missions in San Antonio, Texas to the UN's Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) hoping to gain designation as a combined world Heritage Site.  One of the missions in the group is the Alamo.

The designation would bring international recognition and maintenance support; and, with proper promotion, could generate large sums of money for the San Antonio economy from visiting domestic and international tourist groups. Twenty-two of the current 1000 world heritage sites are located in the U.S., including the Grand Canyon, the Statue of Liberty and Yellowstone. 

For obvious reasons, World Heritage Site status is welcomed by governments around the world. Not so much for one Texas State Senator.

Donna Campbell (R)--obviously confused over what a World Heritage Site designation means and apparently too lazy to do any research on the subject--has introduced legislation that would ban foreign ownership of the Alamo.  Her proposed bill would prohibit Texas from signing "any ownership, control, or management" of the Alamo over to "an entity formed under the laws of another country."

In a speech before the Texas legislature, she said, "In the charge to the battle, the battle cry was 'Remember the Alamo,' and since then, the Alamo has been recognized as hallowed ground in Texas, and a shrine of Texas liberty.  The Alamo is a story of Texas, and it should be owned, operated, and maintained, controlled by Texans."

David Crockett, a political scientist at Trinity University in San Antonio and a distant relative of the Alamo's famous Davy Crockett, addressed the fact that Ms. Campbell is not the first conservative politican or even the first person to see the United Nations as a foreign threat to American autonomy.  He attempted to give her the benefit of the doubt by saying, "It's possible that she has tapped into that concern of some of her constituents." 

When it was pointed out to Ms. Campbell that the U.S. Department of the Interior was in no way planning to sell the Alamo to the U.N. or to anyone, she doubled down on her warning, telling the Houston Chronicle they should remember that "UNESCO starts with UN."

Mr. Crockett added, "The other option is she herself really does believe that there is a threat posed by internationalist forces to reduce sovereignty of the U.S."
Being a card carrying Stupid Conspiracy theorist earns you gold-card membership status in the modern Republican party.  Donna Campbell should be receiving her gilded ID any day now.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Quick Note: The Funny Side of the DHS Shutdown

A new U.S. citizen displays her official naturalization certificate

The Department of Homeland Security is scheduled to close-down this evening.  This morning, in a last minute desperation vote, the House cleared the way for a stop-gap measure to keep the DHS open and funded for three weeks while Congress continues to work on the spending impasse. 

Final passage of the extension is uncertain, however, after Democrats announced their opposition to it being only a three-week extension and far-right Republicans expressed their opposition to the removal of wording designed to undo the president's executive actions granting work permits to millions of U.S. immigrants. Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has called a recess as he seeks to round up enough votes to pass the extension bill.  

The House originally passed a funding bill for the DHS in January, a bill that included wording reversing the President's recent executive action on immigration.  When the Senate took up that bill, Democrats filibustered it, saying they would only support the bill if the immigration prohibitions were removed.

Senate Republicans, with the bitter taste of their own medicine in their coffee cups, capitulated and agreed to remove the immigration prohibitions, sending their clean bill to the House earlier this week.  Speaker Boehner, after first trying bombast, this morning stopped his temper tantrum long enough to allow the House to consider the Senate's bill, which brings us to the on-going House recess and vote scramble.

For now, the clock continues to run, the shutdown edges closer and Republicans continue to beat their drum about the evil, tyrant president living in the big house on Pennsylvania Avenue who won't let them run the country the way they want to.  Even if the three-week extension passes, on March 19 we will probably be having the same conversation over DHS funding, immigration reform and executive action that we are having today...just another crisis in a long list of Republican engendered crises.

But you know what should really make us laugh? The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agency, while part of the DHS, is not really part of the DHS budget.  USCIS is 95 percent funded through applicant fees. Only 5 percent of their budget is allocated through federal spending, and that 5 percent is allotted to E-Verify, a federal program that validates already issued work permits.  So, if Republicans in Congress are eventually successful in forcing a shutdown of the DHS in their snit over President Obama's executive actions on immigration, the only section of the DHS that will be left open, fully funded and fully staffed will be the exact section of the DHS in charge of carrying out the president's actions: the USCIS' office that processes citizenship and immigration applications and work permits.
Smooth move, Republicans! Very smooth.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Wasting Time, Republican Style: Perfected in DC, Cloned in WV

The GOP holds the majority in both houses of West Virginia's state legislature.  Much to the legislature's dismay, history indicates that, contrary to West Virginia's "redness," the people seem to favor Democrats for governor.  Since 1989, West Virginian's have elected only two Republicans to their state's highest office, and both of those served only one term.

Fortunately for the people of WV, when the Affordable Care Act was implemented, then Governor Joe Manchin (D) made sure his state created its own healthcare exchange and took advantage of ACA funds in order to expand Medicaid.  The uninsured rate in West Virginia dropped from 17.6 percent to 10.9 percent. 

Bowing to the obvious--that current Governor Earl Ray Tomblin (D) has no plans to change how healthcare works in West Virginia--six members of the Republican led House of Delegates have stepped up to rally the troops for a new offensive in the GOP's anti-"Obamacare" fight.  They have created a bill that declares the ACA "invalid" in West Virginia.  

The Charleston Gazette reports that "Under HB2509, federal employees would face felony charges, while state workers would be arrested for a misdemeanor offense, if they try to administer any federal regulations under the Affordable Care Act. 

what eye thynk:   Obvious to anyone who passed Government 101, this time-and-money-wasting bill is going nowhere, but that didn't stop the West Virginia House's Health and Human Resources Committee from taking up the proposal this week. 

That's what I call "Wasting Time, Republican Style."

Or maybe we should all be envious of the degree of perfection that civilization has reached in West Virginia...a perfection so flawless that the state legislature can find no issue needing improvement on which to focus their attention, a perfection so sublime that they must fill their calendar with pointless bills in order keep themselves busy and on the public payroll.

West Virginia, a model of nirvana for us all?  Or maybe just a bunch of "wild and wonderful" Republican legislators with no real agenda of their own...just like the big boys in Washington.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Republicans Say the Darndest Things: Letting a Child Die is OK If You Believe in God!

Idaho State Representative
Christy Perry (R) 

In Idaho, if a child becomes ill and a parent chooses faith healing over medical care and that child subsequently dies, state law prohibits any charges being brought against the parent for neglect, abuse, or manslaughter.  The law has been on the books in Idaho since 1972.

Currently, Linda Martin, a former member of a the Followers of Christ Church, a Pentecostal religion that prohibits its members from seeing doctors or using modern medicine, is fighting to get that law overturned.

State Representative Christy Perry, includes this testimonial on her website: "Christy is a pro life mother and grandmother and emphasizes her honor and value of all human life, born and unborn. Christy Perry is an ardent supporter of defending each child's right to life." 

There is a huge difference between being pro-life and being pro-fetus, but anti-abortion rights politicians like Christy Perry seem incapable of recognizing that distinction.  Evidence of Ms. Perry's confusion can be seen in the fact that, despite calling herself an "ardent" champion of "human life, born and unborn," she believes Linda Martin's fight is wrong and the protection granted to parents who give their children up to faith healing should remain under the aegis of state law. "Children do die.  If I want to let my child be with God, why is that wrong?"
The obvious pro-choice argument here may be crude, but needs to be made: If I choose to have an abortion and send my fetus to "be with God, why is that wrong?"
In Ms. Perry's pro-life world a fetus is sacrosanct. A child, on the other hand, is just another biblical goat to be offered in the name of faith. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Poor GOP: Getting No Respect, Seeing No Co-operation

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) and House Speaker John Boehner (R)

Republicans in Washington are breaking out in a rash over President Obama's threat to use his right of presidential veto during his last two years in office. 

The President is expected to veto the Keystone XL pipeline bill this week. It will be the third time the President has used his veto power during his six years in the White House.  To put that in perspective, W vetoed 12 pieces of legislature, while Bush the First used his veto 44 times; but have a Democrat use the veto three times and we have a crisis.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) had this to say: "There's a lot we can get done together if the president puts his famous pen to use signing bills rather than vetoing legislation his liberal allies don't like."

what eye thynk:  Too bad Mr. McConnell didn't think about all the things they could have gotten "done together" over the past six years if his party had spent more time on "together" and less time creating GOP designed roadblocks at every possible opportunity.  Things like...

The Senate:

  • The filling of empty judgeships.  (Senate Democrats finally had to change the filibuster rule in order to fill bench seats that had remained open since 2008.)
  • The Creating American Jobs and Ending Offshoring Act - employers would have been given tax breaks if they brought overseas jobs back to the U.S. (Killed by Republican filibuster)
  • Bring Jobs Home Act - would have stopped businesses from taking a tax deduction for expenses related to the moving of operations overseas. (Killed by Republican filibuser)
  • The Paycheck Fairness Act - would have required employers to pay men and women at same rate for doing the same job. (Killed by Republican filibuster)
  • The Paying a Fair Share Act - would have closed some tax loopholes and required that the wealthiest Americans pay their fair share.  (Killed by Republican filibuster)
  • The Repeal Big Oil Tax Subsidies Act - would have used big oil tax subsidy dollars to extend tax credits for alternative forms of energy in homes, vehicles, etc.-- big oil told Congress they did not need the subsidies. (Killed by Republican filibuster)
  • Keep Student Loans Affordable and Student Loan Affordability Acts - both would have kept the subsidized student loan rate at 3.4 percent for two years. (Both bills killed by Republican filibuster)
  • The Dream Act - young immigrants, brought to this country as children and educated in our schools would have been given a chance at citizenship. (Killed by Republican filibuster)
  • The Disclose Act - would have required PACs, corporations and labor unions to disclose the names of donors who give more than $10,000 in support of political causes. (Killed by Republican filibuster)
  • The Cybersecurity Bill - would have established standards for the computer systems that oversee our power grids, dams, trains and airports. (Killed by Republican filibuster even after the standards were made optional)
  • The Sequestration replacement - would have postponed sequestration. (Killed by Republican filibuster, forcing the U.S. government to shut down in 2014)
While the Senate was busy blocking everything and anything that came within their sight, the House was busy perfecting their own brand of obstructionism:
  • Benghazi - first, second, third investigations withered and died.  Even after their own hand-picked, final-answer team reported no wrong doing, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) created yet another panel to continue the investigation...and the declared-defunct investigation committee headed by Darrell Issa (R-California) trumpeted they would continue their own inquiries without the support of House leadership.
  • IRS - another Republican hand-picked team reported the White House had done nothing wrong, but still the House continued calling for more time to be spent probing.
  • The Affordable Care Act - over 50 votes taken to repeal the act, all while acknowledging that each vote was nothing more than political theater.
  • Lawsuits - when "Obamacare" repeal votes began to lose their glitter for the people back home, the GOP needed to up the ante.  It took Mr. Boehner three tries, but he finally found a team of attorneys to take the House's case against the ACA, a case which has since gone nowhere.
  • Immigration - despite a bi-partisan agreement having been passed by the Senate and indications that the bill would pass the House, John Boehner refused to present the bill for a vote.  Instead, he decided to throw more red meat to his fans by creating another lawsuit in an attempt to halt any executive action on the issue.
  • Impeachment - another great piece of theater, allowing the right to puff out their chests and display their ultimate far-rightness for their voters while secretly acknowledging that they have nothing.
  • Abortion - when all else fails, this is a great go-to issue to get their conservative base fired up.  Mr. Boehner's House can't actually say they've accomplished anything on this war-on-women issue, but it fills some time on C-SPAN and looks good back home.
  • So intense has the focus of the U.S. House been on investigations and repeals and lawsuits and impeachment parades under John Boehner's leadership, that his House will go down in history as the least productivewith each subsequent year recording fewer bills than its predecessor--presenting very little for the President to actually sign with his "famous pen. 
  • And most recently, Homeland Security - The House passed a bill that included wording to unravel the president's executive action on immigration reform.  The Senate can't get that bill past the Democrats' filibuster (payback is a bitch).
The simple answer to the current Homeland Security issue is to fund the department with a clean bill--an option that would pass both chambers easily; but John Boehner--even though facing another GOP shutdown fiasco--continues to encourage his caucus to rally around the Obstructionist Flag and refuses to allow the House to even consider a clean bill option.  Meanwhile Mitch McConnell drags himself in front of the media (complete with sad, whoa-is-me face) and attempts to foist the blame onto the White House.

For six years Republican party members proudly flaunted themselves as the party of "No."  Now that they are in control of Congress, they want to be seen as the put-upon, trying-so-hard party-of-togetherness, willing to do anything for the good of the country if only that darned president would co-operate.

No matter how doggedly Mr. Boehner, Mr. McConnell and all the little red soldiers lined up behind them try to sell it, nobody with a brain is buying.

Monday, February 23, 2015

February 23 - Monday Quote

If I were to create a symbol that characterizes the modern Republican party, it would be a dollar sign super-imposed over a Christian cross.   I think Ms. Parker would approve.

monday quote:   If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people He gave it to.  (Dorothy Parker, American poet, writer, critic, satirist, 1893-1967) 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Jesus Said, Suffer the Little Children to Come Unto Me -- (Unless Their Parents Are Gay?)

Dr. Vesna Roi

Krista and Jami Contreras, who live in Michigan, are a married, same-sex couple and the proud parents of a baby girl they have named Bay Windsor Contreras. 

Several months before their daughter's birth and in an attempt to avoid any unpleasant surprises, they asked their midwife to recommend a pediatrician.  She gave them the name of Dr. Vesna Roi at Eastlake Pediatrics in Roseville.  The Contreras met with Dr. Roi last fall and the meeting seemed to be a good fit for all of them.

Following the birth, they made their first appointment with Dr. Roi.  Imagine their surprise when they arrived at Eastlake Pediatrics for baby Bay's six-day-old check-up and were met by Dr. Melinda Karam instead. 

Dr. Roi had decided "after much prayer" that she would not be comfortable caring for their daughter.  

what eye thynk:   Why..why...WHY are prejudices like this always based on "prayer?"  WHY!?  Where in the Bible does God, Jesus, or any of the prophets say "Blessed are those who ostracize?"  God is either God, the Supreme Being who loves ALL His creations or He's a convenient excuse to cover your own prejudice.  He can't be both.

To add insult to the Contreras' injury, Dr. Roi didn't even possess enough common decency to meet with the couple to explain herself in person.  Dr. Karam told the hurt and confused new parents that Dr. Roe hadn't "even come to the office that morning because she didn't want to see us." 

When asked about her actions, Dr. Roi refused to comment citing patient confidentiality.  She eventually apologized in a public letter she wrote to the Detroit Free Press!  "I never meant to hurt either of you...Please know that I believe that God gives us free choice, and I would never judge anyone based on what they do with that free choice...I am very sorry for the hurt and angry feelings that were created by this."

"I would never judge..."  Really?  Dr. Roi is not only rude and heartless, she is self-delusional.  What else could you possibly call her choice to turn her back on this couple and their infant daughter than a judgment?

The American Medical Association's code of ethics states that doctors cannot refuse to treat patients based on race, gender, sexual orientation or gender identity.  The Affordable Care Act also prohibits this type of discrimination.  It is doubtful Dr. Roi will face any type of penalty, however, since the state of Michigan has no laws barring discrimination against members of the LGBT community.

Dr. Roi: You may not be guilty under Michigan law, but you are a coward; and by wrapping yourself in the flag of your "Christian" ethics, by using prayer and the Bible as your justification, you are surely guilty of breaking the Lord's third commandment: "Thou shalt not take the Lord, thy God's name in vain."

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Eye Recommend --- The Plot to Kill Health Care

A look at Republicans and their needs-based approach to judicial activism. (Any underlines are mine.)
"Republicans hate activist judges--those black-robed elites who are willing to upset the lives of millions of people just to further a political cause...They hate them, until they need them.

And in the raw power play that is behind the attempt to kick millions of people off health care gained through the Affordable Care Act, Republicans are attempting one of the most brazen manipulations of the legal system in modern times.  To pull it off, they're relying on a toxically politicized judiciary...

...In less than two weeks' time the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in King v. Burwell--the net result of a well-orchestrated, well-financed, five-year campaign to kill President Obama's signature achievement by legal assassination.  It's a remarkably flimsy case, the plaintiffs may lack standing and a host of business and health care professionals have said the consequences of backing the right-wing consortium behind this case could be catastrophic.

But none of this matters to at least four justices on the court who would rule in favor of a ham sandwich, if it meant overturning the health care law.  If they get a fifth vote, more than eight million people in 34 states could lose their health coverage.  Premiums for several million more would rise enough to make insurance impossible.  Thousands of people, lacking basic care, may even die prematurely."
Dear Republicans: Where is your talk about "death panels" now?
"'The Supreme Court is going to render a body blow to Obamacare from which I don't think it will ever recover,' said Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas last month.  He was licking his chops in anticipation.

This comes at a time when Republicans have recently discovered the working poor.  For those holding to the last, slippery rung of middle-class dignity, nothing is harder than having no health insurance.  And there is no bigger knockout blow, forcing a family into bankruptcy, than a massive medical bill." 
I can personally attest to this.  Our family budget is in complete disarray after a recent bout with pneumonia that put my husband in the hospital for ten days...and that is even though we have a decent healthcare policy through his police retirement fund.
"So, consider just who stands to lose most if the health care subsidies for people in two-thirds of the states are denied...More than 80% of them are lower- or middle-income people, working part time or full.  Most of them are white.  And a majority of them are in the South.  So much for helping your base...

...It comes down to this: a legal challenge based on a technicality--specifically, four words.  Should subsidies be available only to exchanges 'established by the states'? Or were they designed to cover the entire nation, as is obvious in the intent of the law?"
At the time the ACA was passed, Republicans seemed to agree that subsidies would be available through state AND federal exchanges.
  1. Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) "These state-based exchanges are very little in difference between...a big federal exchange, just putting the same rules in place."
  2. When John Cornyn (R-Texas)- discussed "individual's (eligibility) for taxpayer provided subsides in the exchanges," he made no differentiation between state and federal exchanges.
  3. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) - wrote an op-ed piece where he said that establishing state exchanges was "not a condition for receiving federal funds."
  4. When John Barrasso (R-Wyoming) was asked if people using federal exchanges would receive subsidies, he replied: "(Yes), as people continue to pay taxes, they're not going to give up that right to have an opportunity to use that money."
  5. Republican staffer Chris Condeluci acknowledged that there were lots of differences discussed during the ACA debates; but added that subsidies were so fundamental to the Act that Republican lawmakers "never argued over this particular provision."
"The Supreme Court case...grew out of a gathering in 2010 of far-right attorneys looking for a way to destroy Obamacare.

'This bastard has to be killed as a matter of political hygiene,' said Michael S. Greve, a former chairman of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, during a panel discussion. "I don't care how it's done.'"
This case that congressional Republicans are so willing to claim as their own, isn't even their work!  It's someone else's ill-advised effort which they are only too, too happy to claim as their own. 
"(Mr. Greves and friends) found four plaintiffs...(people) they claim to be 'harmed' by a technicality in the health care law that allows the federal government to subsidize people who don't get help from the states.

One of the many ironies here is that at least three of those plaintiffs appear to qualify for the great socialist, single-payer system used by Medicare or by Veterans Affairs.  So, they don't really have to worry if their legal assault kills the health care of millions of people who don't have access to the cheaper federal plans.

'You are asking us to kick millions of Americans off health insurance just to save four people a few dollars,' said Judge Andre M. Davis, in oral arguments  before a federal appeals court in Richmond, Va.  That court ruled unanimously to throw out the challenge.  But the hyperpartisan Supreme Court took up the case on appeal...

...So long as judges do their dirty work, Republicans don't have a problem with politicizing the judiciary...

...Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. once used a memorable phrase to describe (judicial activism). 'My job is to call balls and strikes, and not to pitch or bat,' he said during his confirmation hearings.  By June of this year, we'll see which side of the plate he's on."

Friday, February 20, 2015

Tea Party Signs - The Joke's On Them

Installment #19 of:
Dictionaries are a Liberal Plot
(and Grammar is Not My Cup of Tea Either)

I'll admit I'm having trouble finding the connection between politics and fabric, but if we're going to go that route, I suppose this is better than being a "full-breed" polyester Republican.
(I'm a 100% organic cotton girl myself.)

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Eye Recommend --- Boehner Says He'd Allow Homeland Security Shutdown

Because the security of the United States is only important when the GOP says it is; and right now, as always, demonstrating their enmity for this President trumps all.
"The House speaker, John A. Boehner, said Sunday that he was 'certainly' prepared to allow funding for the Department of Homeland Security to lapse, raising the possibility that one of the government's largest and most vital agencies could shut down at the end of the month. 

Coming just two months after Republicans gained full control of Congress, a shutdown would be a major political problem as the party tries to honor a vow to govern responsibly and cooperatively.

It would contradict a pledge from Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, who said the day after his party won decisively at the polls in November, 'There will be no government shutdowns.'  And it would exacerbate a rift that has been growing between Republicans in the House and the Senate."
 It is impossible to run Congress on empty campaign promises, no matter how well they read as sound bytes--not that this matters to Republicans in either chamber. 
"The House has done its job; we've spoken," Mr. Boehner said on Fox News Sunday...

...Pressed on whether he would, in effect, allow the department to shut down if the Senate does not come up with a funding bill of its own, the speaker said: "Certainly. The House has acted."
See, there's the problem, Mr. Speaker: you've "spoken," but, once again, you haven't listened. You've "acted," and then turned your back on the issue as though you think your word, your action is the be all and end all of our democracy. 
Even Senators from your own party have said this is not the bill to pick a fight over.  As written--with all President Obama's executive action on immigration reversed and with the Dream Act obliterated--your bill has no chance of ever becoming law.  The President has promised to veto it, and you will never muster the votes needed to override that veto. 
You are simply affecting a pose you believe will demonstrate the strength of your leadership--strength which history has proven, over and over again, you do not possess.  
"(Even) John McCain of Arizona (has) questioned the wisdom of the House's unyielding position, raising doubts that the bill would get even 51 Republican votes in the Senate. 

A statement issued by a spokesman for Representative Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic leader, said on Sunday that all of her caucus would vote for a 'clean' Homeland Security bill--one that contained no immigration-related amendments--and urged the speaker to bring such a measure to a vote...

...The statement released by the spokesman, Drew Hammill...called Mr. Boehner's remarks 'a sad reflection of the fact that the Tea Party continues to hold the gavel as they insist on their futile anti-immigrant grandstanding.'

Lawmakers are gone from Washington until next week, meaning that they have just four days in the Capitol in which to reach a deal before the department's funding runs out on Feb. 27."
For a party that needs to win the immigrant vote if they have any hope of taking the White House in 2016, this may be their dumbest move yet.
But this is all a game of "Meh" to the GOP, a game they are playing with the well-being of 280,000 DHS employees who will be expected to care for their families without benefit of a paycheck, a game they are playing with the safety of 319 million Americans.
It's a hell of a way to run a country.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Quick Note(s) -- Stupid Adults, Passing Stupid On to Their Kids

#1 Utah - Young Men Learning to Sexualize Young Women
It's attitudes like this that create politicians like South Carolina's Thomas Corbin.

Fifteen year old Gabi Finalyson is a student at Lone Peak High School in Utah.  She bought the dress she is wearing in the photo above in Paris during a family trip.  She said it reminded her of Audrey Hepburn.  

Her high school dictates that girls' dresses hang below their knees, have at least a 2" shoulder strap and do not reveal any cleavage. Gabi's classic beaded dress met all those rules; however, when she wore the dress to a school dance, she was told she could not enter unless she wore a coat or sweater because her shoulders were exposed.
God forbid some high school boy should be forced to control himself after glimpsing a naked female shoulder.
Gabi complied because, when you're a teenager, high school dances are important events.  "I still stayed at the dance because it had been something I looked forward to, but I did feel really embarrassed and ashamed.  It was hard for me because that was a night I was supposed to feel really beautiful and special...It made me feel like I wasn't good enough."

Gabi's mother, Kristy Maxfield Kimball, blamed religious rules followed by observant Mormons for the humiliation her daughter was forced to feel.  "Makes me wonder if this really isn't about wanting girls to dress in LDS garment-worthy clothing.  Let's stop this insanity.  Girls' bodies are not sexual objects, and religious perspectives should not be imposed at a public school."

Ms. Finalyson herself put it best: "Maybe instead of teaching girls that they should cover themselves up, we should be teaching boys that we're not sex objects that they can look at."
Fundamentalism--whether in religion (any religion) or in our courts--always puts the blame on women. Why is that?  When are we going to start teaching our boys that self-control is exactly that--the unaided control of self?  
It's called respect--for yourself and for others--and there is nothing sexual about it.

#2 Illinois - Cheat? Get Caught? Blame It On Racism
Politicians call this gerrymandering--it's still cheating no matter what color you are or to which political party you belong.

Last year's U.S. Little League World Series was won by a team of  black 12-year-olds from the South side of Chicago.  Their reign lasted just six months.

On February 11, Jackie Robinson West was stripped of its title by Little League Baseball International.  The kids did nothing wrong.  They played their hearts out, while the adults--who are supposed to be leaders and role models--tried to get away with cheating the system.  Now these kids are paying the price.

It seems that team organizers recruited players from outside their designated area; and, when league officials were told about this, the team's adults introduced a falsified map of their district in an attempt to cover up their cheating.

Darold Butler, the team's manager was suspended and the team was put on probation until its leadership is replaced.

Rather than accept responsibility for attempting to game the rules and apologizing for the damage done to these young players, local minority leadership and at least one team parent immediately blamed racism.  

The Reverend Jesse Jackson called the decision untimely and inappropriately harsh, while the Reverend Michael Pfleger said, "I can't help but question whether the same thing would have been done with another team from another place--another race."

Team parent Venisa Green told the Chicago Tribune, "It's amazing to me that whenever African-Americans exceed the expectations, there is always going to be fault that is found in what we do.  Little League says that they teach character and they teach courage.  Well, this isn't an act of courage and this sure isn't an act of character."
No, cheating is cheating; and trying to blame the consequences on the color of your players' skin is not doing these kids any favors.  If you want these young people to grow up to be responsible, successful adults, they need strong, honest leaders willing to be role models and acknowledge that what they did was wrong.
That's called courage, that's called teaching character. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Republicans Say the Darndest Things: Calls Female Senator "Lesser Cut of Meat"

South Carolina State Senator
Thomas Corbin (R)

Thomas Corbin and Katrina Shealy were both elected to South Carolina's Senate in 2012.  

Mr. Corbin apparently makes a habit of misogynistic comments.  Katrina Shealy, being the only female member of South Carolina's Senate hears them all.  Ms. Shealy has reportedly told him several times that she finds his remarks offensive and has asked him to stop. 

He has made it clear that he feels women have no place serving in the state legislature. Senate aides report he has been quoted as saying that women should be "at home baking cookies," and should be kept "barefoot and pregnant." At a recent legislative dinner, he commented directly to Ms. Shealy, "I see it only took me two years to get you wearing shoes."

Ms. Shealy had had enough, and asked him how he could think his remarks were in any way appropriate, adding,"You've pushed me far enough...I deserve respect, and I'm going to get it."  
He responded, with a smirk, "Well, you know God created man first.  Then he took the rib out of man to make woman.  And you know, a rib is a lesser cut of meat."

Mr. Corbin blames Ms. Shealy's unhappiness about his "joking" on the fact that they are on different sides over a gun bill aimed at reducing violence against women that is coming up for a vote soon. "She stuck a knife in my back because we're at odds over this bill.  (She's) trying to make me out to be a woman hater."
No, Mr. Corbin, I'd say you pinned that sobriquet to your lapel all by yourself.

Monday, February 16, 2015

February 16 - Monday Quote

Attitudes toward same-sex marriage across the globe have altered to a degree that would have been impossible to imagine just a few short years ago.  I love this simple explanation.

monday quote:   In recent years, people have said "This is who I am;" and others have looked around, and we discovered its our next door neighbor--we're very fond of them--or it's our child's best friend, or even our child.   I think that as more and more people come out and said that "This is who I am," the rest of us recognized that they are one of us. (Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, 1933 -      )

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Quick Note: Jehovah's Witness "How-To Kit" -- Keep 'em Home and Keep 'em Stupid

Tony Morris

Tony Morris is a member of the Jehovah's Witnesses Governing Body.  Last month, he hosted a segment on the JW on-line television network condemning higher education.  

Some quotes:

"All too often, our young people have met with spiritual disaster, especially after leaving home and living on a university campus...Young people, ask yourself: Why am I considering additional education?  Is it because I'm pursuing a specific skill or trade to support my service to Jehovah?  Or have I been pressured by the system into believing that higher education will somehow make me a more respected person or lead me to a better life?" 
How about choosing to pursue higher education because it can make me a person who can think, a person more able to understand and appreciate the world in which I live, a person more able to engage in the modern world, a person less prone to prejudice, a person who may eventually find the cure for cancer, or who may someday paint the 21st Century's Mona Lisa, maybe even the person who will bring the world's governments together in a true peace?  Or maybe simply a person less likely to make asinine statements like those Mr. Morris spouts?   
And what is wrong with education leading to "a better life?"  Listening to Mr. Morris, it sounds like he's telling parents that the best future to which their children should ever aspire is landing a minimum wage job at McDonald's.  
"If we are in continued association with those who do not believe the same, it can erode our thinking and convictions." 
That's the sort of thinking that brings us intolerant groups like the Westboro Baptists...and a lot of far-right Republicans.
"I have long said, the better the university, the greater the danger.  The most intelligent and eloquent professors will be trying to reshape the thinking of your child, and their influence can be tremendous.  One mom, I recall, asked me to try and help her son who was attending a prestigious-name university in Rhode Island.  After visiting him, I later had to inform her that her son now believed in evolution.  She refused to believe it until he finally told her himself.  How sad."
How much twisted thinking did it take to get to the point where Mr. Morris thinks we honor the Creator by refusing to use our God-given intelligence?  Or does Mr. Morris really believe that when God created man in his image, He made us whole and complete...and stupid? 
Now that's sad.  

Saturday, February 14, 2015

GOP to President: If We Win, It's Your Fault

"Obamacare" and the GOP, a chronology:

  • November 7 -- U.S. House of Representatives votes on and passes the Affordable Care Act
  • December 24 -- U.S. Senate votes on and passes the Affordable Care Act.
  • March 23 -- President Obama signs the Affordable Care Act into law.
  • March 24 -- Republican party begins its campaign to repeal the law.
  • April - December -- Republicans claim they are working on a better healthcare alternative to "Obamacare." House holds first vote to repeal the law; also the second, the third, the... 
  • January - December -- Work on the Republican alternative healthcare plan continues, as do the votes to repeal the existing law. One repeal bill includes wording requiring the House to offer alternative legislation within 6 months.
  • January - October -- Votes to repeal the ACA continue in the House. Six months come and go; there is no sign of the GOP's alternative plan.  A promise to repeal "Obamacare" becomes center of all Republican campaigns. 
  • October 30 -- Mitt Romney rips "Obamacare" in interview with USA Today.  
  • November 6 -- Barack Obama is re-elected President of the United States.
  • November 8 -- House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) declares the people have spoken and "Obamacare is the law of the land."
  • November 9 -- Republicans re-commit to repealing "Obamacare." New votes to repeal the law are planned.
  • January - September -- Repeal votes continue; committees work on GOP alternative plan. 
  • October 1 -- Federal healthcare exchanges open and they are a mess. State exchanges seem to be working.
  • October 2 -- Republicans have a field day, claim this is proof the law will fail, no one will sign up.  Call for more votes to repeal.  No mention of a GOP alternative plan.
  • December -- Federal exchanges fixed, enrollment figures are higher than expected. Republicans plan more repeal votes.
  • January - Republicans continue to claim "Obamacare" is failing.  Announce they are continuing their work on a GOP alternative.
  • February 25 -- Then House Minority Leader Eric Cantor declares that he will be meeting with the relevant committee heads to begin crafting an alternative to "Obamacare".  He further pledges that the GOP will lead the charge to repeal the existing law and pass their alternative "this year."
  • March  - November -- Mid-term elections heat up; Republicans repeat their 2012 campaign promise to repeal "Obamacare."  House continues to hold votes to repeal the law. Republicans claim they are close to presenting their alternative plan.
  • November 4 -- Republicans take control of both houses of Congress and promise to repeal "Obamacare."
  • November 21 -- After two unsuccessful tries, House Speaker John Boehner announces he has filed a suit against President Obama and his enactment of "Obamacare."
  • January -- New Congress is sworn in.  Republicans promise to repeal "Obamacare" and present their own alternative plan.
  • February 2 -- President Obama says he will veto any bill to repeal the ACA.
  • February 3 -- House votes to repeal "Obamacare" for the 56th time, passes H.R.596.  The bill also directs the House to draft "replacement legislation" within six months. (see 2011)
  • March -- Supreme Court will hear King v. Burwell which will decide whether people who signed up for healthcare through federal exchanges (as they were forced to do after their Republican led state refused to set up an exchange of its own) are eligible for the same subsidies enjoyed by those who signed up through a state exchange.
A legal brief in support of the case before the Supreme Court was written by Senators John Cornyn (R-Texas), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas). These lawmakers urged the Supreme Court to find that subsidies provided through federal exchanges are illegal.

what eye thynk:   We have heard 50 months of promises that a GOP alternative is on the horizon.  We have watched House Republicans vote 56 times to overturn the President's healthcare law, despite the fact they have no alternative plan ready to replace it.  Congressional Republicans have filed one lawsuit and offered their support for the King v. Burwell case.  

Now, with just weeks before the King case is heard, Republican leadership is being forced to acknowledge the ugly consequences of winning, namely that their actions will have real consequences for real people--people who vote Republican. If they are successful, millions of Americans in Republican dominated states will find themselves uninsured and/or unable to afford their insurance premiums and they will be looking to their elected Republican officials for answers.

The GOP is forced to face up to the fact that, despite their promises, there still is no solid, set for a vote, ready-to-be-implemented Republican alternative plan in evidence.

So how are congressional Republicans dealing with this reality?  By blaming the President, of course.  Last week, the Senate held a hearing to ask Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell to explain what the President planned to do if the Republican suit is successful--not to announce what THEY have planned if they get what they want, but to blame the lack of a plan on the President. 

When Ms. Burwell replied that her focus and that of the White House was on implementing the law, Senator Cronyn called her response "disrespectful."

Senator Ted Cruz: "The administration has done absolutely nothing to prepare for an upcoming Supreme Court decision that could leave millions of Americans unable to afford insurance thanks to this failed law."

Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) responded, "I find it ironic for Republican senators to argue that the federal exchange subsidies are illegal and then demand that the administration explain how it plans to repair the damage that will be done if their argument is successful and the Supreme Court rules in their favor."

I would offer a less polite assessment:  WTF?

Friday, February 13, 2015

Budgets and Social Security, the Republican Perspective

The Republican mind at work: 
  • Grandma is old.  
  • Grandma doesn't work and lives on Social Security. 
  • Living on Social Security makes Grandma poor. 
  • Grandma is just another lazy person who refuses to take care of herself and expects the government to support her.
  • Poor, lazy people don't vote Republican. 
Ergo: Social Security is a safe place to cut spending to balance the budget because it will have no negative repercussions on my party.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Republicans Say the Darndest Things: Republican Writes Great 2016 Slogan--for Democrats!

Kevin Hassett, Republican Economic Adviser

Kevin Hassett is a senior fellow and director of economic policy studies at the conservative think tank American Enterprise Institute.  Mr. Hassett was a campaign adviser to George W. Bush in 2004 and John McCain in 2008, as well as the Mitt Romney campaign's economic adviser in 2012.

He is a prolific writer.  In 1999 he co-authored "Dow 36,000."  Currently, along with his work at AEI, he writes a weekly column for Bloomberg and a monthly column for the National Review.  He also  contributes occasional articles to The New York Times.

His credentials earn him a certain amount of Republican respect in the area of American economic policy and planning.

Recently he  reminded his fellow Republicans that Bill Clinton inherited an economy with record deficits and 10 million unemployed Americans from Bush the Elder, but ended his presidency with a balanced budget and unemployment at 5 percent. George W. spent eight years un-balancing the budget to the point of free-fall, and now, with two years left in the White House, Barack Obama is captaining robust economic indicators..  Mr. Hassett voiced the opinion that these turnarounds will present a challenge for the GOP's economic message in 2016.

In an attempt to make the GOP see the problem they will face, he came up with the perfect economic message for the Democratic candidate--whoever that person may be: 

"The Republicans gave us a crappy economy twice, and we fixed it twice.  Why would you ever trust them again?"
I like it!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Tea Party Signs - The Joke's On Them

Installment #18 of:
Dictionaries are a Liberal Plot
(and Grammar is Not My Cup of Tea Either)

An example of (un)orthography.  Look it up.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Eye Recommend --- I Don't Like the Idea of Throwing People Off Their Health Insurance

How ridiculous is the anti-ACA case scheduled to be heard by the Supreme Court in March?  It's really, really ridiculous.
"When it comes to the insanity surrounding the King v. Burwell case, we already have a pretty good sense of most of the relevant angles.  We know who supports the ridiculous case and why, what happens if Republican justices go along with this dangerous nonsense, how many families will suffer and where, etc.

We don't, however, know much about the specific plaintiffs themselves.

Remember, when challenging a federal law, it's not enough for someone to get a lawyer, go to court, and demand the law be struck down.  In the American system...litigants have to demonstrate that a law harms them in some direct way. 

And so, in the painfully absurd King v. Burwell case, anti-healthcare lawyers went out and found four people willing to sue because they're eligible under the Affordable Care Act for insurance subsidies."
Yes, you read that correctly.  Lawyers who don't like the healthcare law searched for, found and then convinced four people to sue the federal government in order to give themselves the opportunity to take a case to court.  It's a whole new twist on ambulance-chaser lawyering.   And these brilliant attorneys have convinced the four plaintiffs to sue because they are eligible for government subsidized healthcare.
The premise is, they don't believe the government should be subsidizing healthcare and they would be harmed by being fined for refusing to follow the law.  
"Given the possibility that this case will end access to medical care for millions of families, it seems like a good time to ask, 'Who are these people who want to destroy the American health care system?'

(Correspondent for Mother Jones' Washington bureau) Stephanie Mencimer reports (that they're) quite a collection of folks.  For example, David King of King v. Burwell notoriety, 'brought up Benghazi' when asked about the anti-healthcare lawsuit."
Thereby offering unassailable proof that Mr. King is, in fact, a card-carrying Republican.
"Rose Luck believes President Obama may be the 'anti-Christ' and was elected by 'his Muslim people.'
Belief in any conspiracy tossed out by Fox News, Rush Limbaugh or your favorite televangelist...another sign of supreme Republican-ness.
"But Virginia woman Brenda Levy...said she didn't recall exactly how she had been selected as a plaintiff in the case to begin with.  'I don't know how I got on this case.  I haven't done a single thing legally.  I'm gonna have to ask then how they found me.'  She thought lawyers involved with the case may have contacted her at some point and she had decided to 'help 'em out.'

When (Ms. Mencimer) asked her if she realized that her lawsuit could potentially wipe out health coverage for millions, she looked befuddled. 'I don't want things to be more difficult for people,' she said.  'I don't like the idea of throwing people off their health insurance.'...

...She added that she intends to go to D.C. for the Supreme Court's oral arguments.  'It's an adventure,' Levy said. 'Like going to Paris!'"
I'm assuming she means Paris, Texas.
"Complicating matters further, three of the four plaintiffs are finding their standing suddenly facing new scrutiny.  The Wall Street Journal reported late Friday that King 'appears to qualify for veterans' medical coverage, raising questions about his ability to challenge the law.'

The plaintiffs have persuaded courts to hear their case on the grounds that the subsidies allegedly harm them by subjecting them to the law's requirement to carry insurance or pay a penalty...

...But Mr. King could avoid paying that fine or any insurance premiums because, according to him and his attorneys, he served in the Army in Vietnam.  That qualifies him for medical coverage with no premiums through the Department of Veterans Affairs...

...Legal experts say the fact that Mr. King could avoid paying the penalty for lacking insurance by enrolling in VA coverage undermines his legal right to bring the case...The wife of a second plaintiff has described her husband on social media as (also) being a Vietnam veteran.  The government previously questioned the standing of a third plaintiff on the grounds that her income may exempt her from paying the penalty...

...Levy, the one who doesn't want to throw people off their health insurance despite her role as a plaintiff in this case, will qualify for Medicare this June--which would remove her from the ACA coverage system anyway.

These fresh details reinforce the impression that the entire King v. Burwell case seems like a transparent scam, and as the WSJ added, the (plaintiff) issues 'could create skepticism about the strength of the challengers' case and highlight the difficulty in finding plaintiffs to show the health law's subsidies harm Americans.'"
Just another piece of GOP theater--a waste of time, ultimately paid for with American taxpayer money.

Monday, February 9, 2015

February 9 - Monday Quote

The Republican Party now has the majority it both houses of Congress--the kind of power they have craved for six years.  They may want to heed these wise words from one of their own.   

We are watching.

monday quote:   Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power. (Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States, 1809-1865)

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Quick Note: It's Sunday

Something the intolerant, conservative, far-right "faithful" should probably think about.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Christian Right "Offended" by Its Own History

President Obama speaking at the National Prayer Breakfast on February 5

The Christian right is all in an uproar over a speech President Obama gave at the National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday.

Jim Gilmore (R), former governor of Virginia: "The president's comments...are the most offensive I've ever heard a president make in my lifetime.  He has offended every believing Christian in the United States."  He went on to say the president's speech proved that "Mr. Obama does not believe in America or the values we all share."

what eye thynk:   Mr. Gilmore seems to have an inflated sense of the value of his opinion.  While there certainly are many who share his view, he is a far way off from speaking for "all" of us.

And what did the President say to offend Mr. Gilmore and conservative Christians?  Well, first President Obama condemned the violence being perpetrated around the world in the name of Islam, saying it is an example of the way religion can be "twisted and misused in the name of evil."

So far, so good. It would not surprise me if the Gilmore Club found itself firmly in agreement at this point in the president's address.

The president continued, saying the atrocities we witness on the news every day are not really the fault of all believers in Islam.  "From a school in Pakistan to the streets of Paris, we have seen violence and terror perpetrated by those who profess to stand up for faith--professed to stand up for Islam, but, in fact are betraying it." He described ISIS as "a brutal cult that, in the name of religion, carries out unspeakable acts of barbarism."

I have a feeling that it was at this point--when the president failed to condemn all Muslims as the spawn of Satan--that conservatives' indignity gene began to vibrate.

President Obama went on to point out that, as shocking as are the acts of jihadist groups like ISIS, their actions are "not unique to one group or one religion...There is a tendency in us, a sinful tendency, that can pervert and distort our faith...Lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ."

And that's when the right abandoned any semblance of rationality.

But what did President Obama really do?  He reminded the attendees that the Crusades and the Inquisition were cruel, bloody, barbaric and perpetrated under the banner of Christianity.  
  • The Crusades were undertaken in an attempt to regain land the Pope saw as holy and belonging to the church.  Muslim occupants who believed, (and  800 years later still believe) that the land is also holy to Islam were murdered in the name of Christ.    
  • The Inquisition was perpetrated against the church's own in an attempt to make itself more pure, more holy, to weed out those who lived on the outside of fanaticism. It was an attempt to legislate faith. (Sound familiar?)
These are historical facts, and Christians, no matter how conservative, don't get to pick and choose the parts of their history they want to remember while forgetting the rest.  That's not how history works.  If it did, no one in Germany would ever mention the Holocaust.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Quick Note: The GOP Has a Better Idea (Stop Me If You've Heard This Before)

The Affordable Care Act was signed into law on March 23, 2010.  On March 24, Congressional Republicans began trying to dismantle it, promising they would be presenting a newer, better plan very soon.  
I have always wanted to ask the GOP, "Wouldn't it have been a more economical use of your time to have suggested your better plan while the original ACA was being put together?"  I mean, they were in the building after all.
It has now been nearly five years and we have heard the GOP plan was "being developed in committee," that it was "nearing completion," that they had a "few more details" to work out, and that a a vote would happen "in the near future."  Announcing is a GOP specialty.  Actually following through has proven to be a bit more elusive.

In November 2012, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) told ABC news that with President Obama's re-election, it was clear the people had decided that "Obamacare is the law of the land."  Then he promptly called for a vote to repeal the law.  That effort continues today with vote number 54 (or 56, depending on who is counting) happening just this week.

In January 2014, GOP leadership in Washington told the media that they were beginning meetings to discuss the possibility of an alternative. I guess the "few more details/near future" plan was off the books by then.

It is now February 2015, and the wait is finally over!  Senators Richard Burr (R-North Carolina) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) along with Representative Fred Upton (R-Michigan) have unveiled their "Patient Choice, Affordability, Responsibility and Empowerment Act."

Well, sort of.  They have a snappy(?) title, but, as of Wednesday, nothing has actually been written into legislative language; however, these three legislators were happy to boast about some aspects of their Republican healthcare improvement plan.

  • The "Obamacare" expansion of Medicaid will be eliminated. (The country's poor will be returned to their pre-2010, no-healthcare-for-you status.)
  • Tax subsidies to help Americans purchase a healthcare plan will be scaled back. (The middle class may or may not still be required to purchase healthcare, but they'll have to do that on their own--maybe by instituting No-Meal-Mondays for themselves and their families.)
  • Federal regulations outlining "essential benefits" will be reduced, most noticeably in the area of women's health care where insurers will no longer be required to offer maternity care. (Should this go under the "Vote for Us Because We Love Women" column or the "War on Women" column?  You choose.)
These legislators, (and other Republicans before them), have called maternity care "non-essential" because, in their words, having children "is a choice."  At the same time, they continue fighting to eliminate a woman's power to do the actual choosing by strictly limiting access to birth control and banning abortion.   
Knowing the GOP's track record for talking big but doing nothing, it is doubtful there will be anything to actually vote on for some time to come; but the Washington Post reported that "health policy aides for Burr, Hatch and Upton said this plan could be the basis for the party's long-term vision for health reform."
Lord, help us.