Tuesday, June 30, 2015

GOP is Stuck in 2012

The Supreme Court began its decision extravaganza last week by putting another nail in the coffin of the GOP's anti-"Obamacare" campaign.  Secretly Republicans were relieved that they were not going to be forced to explain to 6.5 million red state voters why their healthcare was AWOL. More on that here.

Publicly, it was more of the same old tired talking points.

|House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio): "Obamacare is fundamentally broken, increasing healthcare costs for millions of Americans.  Today's ruling doesn't change that fact.  Republicans will continue to listen to American families and work to protect them from the consequences of Obamacare.  And we will continue our efforts to repeal the law and replace it with patient-centered solutions that meet the needs of seniors, small business owners, and middle-class families."

what eye thynk:  
  • "Fundamentally broken"-- Proof please.  Today more Americans have health coverage than at any other time in our history, costs in many states is going down and the latest sign-up period saw more insurance companies join the program.  Where is the broken part?
  • "We will continue our efforts to repeal the law and replace it." -- One would think that, after five years, there would be some evidence of this great GOP replacement plan, but nope.  If continuing means nothing more than talking about doing it, maybe, sometime in the future, then they've aced it.
  • "Patient-centered solutions that meet the needs of seniors, small business owners, and middle-class families." -- Gee, that sounds swell, but, see above.
|Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas): The Supreme Court's decision was a prime example of "judicial activisim."  Mr. Cruz suggested, rather strongly, that any Republican presidential candidate who was not committed to a full repeal of the ACA should drop out of the race immediately.
  • "Judicial activisim" -- The GOP's go-to words when the Court's decision is not to their liking.  
  • Committed to a full repeal -- This is so old it's growing mold.
|Senator Lindsey Graham (R-So.Carolina): "It means that the most significant domestic issue in 2016, at every House race, in every Senate race, and for president will be centered around whether or not the country wants to keep Obamacare."
  • "Whether or not the country wants to keep Obamacare" -- Mr. Graham seems stuck in 2012 when the ACA was "the" issue; but as more and more stories reach the public about Republican voters realizing the benefits of their ACA healthcare plan, this argument is going to be less and less viable for conservative candidates.  This past week saw multiple stories of people in Republican states with serious health problems who could not afford treatment without their "Obamacare" policies and who were relieved by the Court's decision.  Add them to the mix and it demonstrates how weakened this position has become.
|Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida):  "Despite the court's decision, Obamacare is still a bad law that is having a negative impact on our country and on millions of Americans.  I remain committed to repealing this bad law and replacing it with my consumer-centered plan."
  • "Bad law...negative impact...committed to repealing..." -- Someone please change the record.
|Mike Huckabee (R): The Court's decision was "judicial tyranny" and the Affordable Care Act is "un-American."  He voiced the opinion that Chief Justice John Roberts had betrayed the country's conservatives.
  • "Judicial tyranny" -- Nice twist on judicial activism, but still gets a failing grade for originality.
  • ACA is "un-American" -- Because the last thing Americans should do is care for fellow Americans?
  • John Roberts betrayed him and his fellow right-wingers -- Note to Mikey: The court exists to interpret the Constitution, to give a final opinion on constitutional questions.  The Justices are not employees of the GOP; they do not serve to protect conservative opinions.  Betrayal is not possible.
|Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky): "This decision turns both the rule of law and common sense on its head.  Obamacare raises taxes, harms patients and doctors, and is the wrong fix for America's health care system.  As President I would make it my mission to repeal it, and propose real solutions for our healthcare system.  As a physician I know Americans need of a healthcare system that reconnects patients, families, and doctors."
  • "Common sense" -- When this case was originally accepted by the Supreme Court, there were any number of Republican lawmakers who admitted that "common sense" said the subsidies were intended for all Americans, no matter in which state they resided.
  • "Raises taxes" -- The only taxes that are raised are on those people who refuse to sign up for healthcare.  The pay a penalty--by choice.  
  • "Harms patients and doctors" -- Exactly how are patients harmed by having access to healthcare?  And doctors and hospitals in states like Florida are begging for the ACA Medicaid expansion to be instated.  It puts money in hospital coffers by guaranteeing payment for services they otherwise provide free.  I'm having trouble seeing where harm comes into the equation.
  • "As a physician" -- When Mr. Rand couldn't get licensed by the American Board of Ophthalmology, (which is recognized by the American Medical Association), he created his own National Ophthalmology Board, (which is not recognized by the AMA) made himself president, his wife vice-president, put his in-laws on the board and certified himself.  Seems legit to me.
The warm-up to 2016 sounds an awful lot like 2012.  The world has moved on and left the GOP behind;  and they seem inordinately proud of that fact.  Let us hope "pride cometh before (their) fall."

Monday, June 29, 2015

June 29 - Monday Quote

I am so tired of the "Christian" right and the GOP's roster of Bible waving sycophants.  

monday quote:
"I'm not very much impressed with men who publicly parade their religious beliefs.  I've always believed that religion is something to live by and not to talk about."
(Harry S. Truman, 33rd President of the United States, 1884-1972--The quote is taken from a 1945 handwritten autobiographical manuscript)

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Eye Recommend -- Supreme Court Ruling and Christian Outrage

what eye thynk:   Simply and kindly voiced:
For all my Christian friends blowing up the internet angry about the Supreme Court's decision to legalize gay marriage for our country.  Please remember a few things before you vent...

First and foremost...calm down.  Some of us are already acting like buffoons.
GOP presidential contenders, state officials in places like Texas, Alabama, Mississippi, I believe Mr. Cheshire is talking to you.  Fomenting more hatred or advocating anarchy is not a way forward.  
Your religion is not being attacked.  In fact, this ruling actually reinforces our countries (sic) commitment to let people live, grow, and even worship as they believe.

This doesn't ask you to change any of Jesus' message.

We can still love.

We can still show kindness and understanding.

We can stil show everyone they really do matter to God. 

We can still marry the opposite sex as well.

We can still feed the hungry and clothe the poor.

We can still worship God the way we believe we should.  Even this Sunday, you can attend a church.  Nothing has changed.

Maybe now that we are not trying to stop others from getting married, we can finally take the time to figure out why our own marriages are failing; because, the argument that a gay-marriage is somehow soiling the sanctify of our third marriage is as ridiculous as it sounds.

We can now focus on bigger issues that actually matter and impact humanity for the good.

We can still (and should) be accepting to the entire LGBT community no matter what differences we may or may not have with them, (FYI - we should have been doing this all along guys).

You know, I have always found it interesting how our religion, based so deeply in love, acceptance, and kindness, gets easily hijacked into political hatred and social judgments.  We need to stop trying to legislate our own morality and ethics onto those who don't believe the same way.  Jesus never did this.  And in truth, most of us "Christians" disagree greatly on the tenants of what are "moral issues" within our own faith.  In many ways, we are a herd of cats trying to steer the world.  And it's not working people.

And to my many friends in the LGBT community...Congratulations, my friends!  I am happy for you all.  As a proud member of the American community, I believe that you should have the same rights as everyone else.  It's one of the things that makes our country such a great place to live.

Now my Christian brothers and sisters, you are free to carry on with your outrage, anger, and venting...

But, when you're done could you give the rest of us a hand?!  Jesus' love is a pretty heavy thing to carry all the way to the rest (of the) world and we could use the help.
If all members of the far-right could approach our new American reality as calmly, as openly, and with Mr. Cheshire's loving attitude--the type of Christian love I learned about in my childhood of Sunday school lessons--think of the problems we could solve together.  

Saturday, June 27, 2015


Republicans Have Had a Very Bad Week...

...and they know exactly who to blame.

As for me, I'm still smiling.  The guarantee of affordable healthcare and the anticipation of seeing my friends legally married will do that do me.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Same-Sex Marriage Legal in All 50 States.

The majority opinion was written b;y Justice Anthony Kennedy.  It concludes:

what eye thynk:  Perfect.  Thank you Justices Anthony M. Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Steven G. Beyer.

I can't stop crying.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

SCOTUS Rules, Republicans Breath Sigh of Relief, Jeb Just Wants Your $

This morning, in a 6-3 split decision, the Supreme Court ruled that ACA subsidies are legal for those who have signed up for healthcare through the federal exchange.

Justice Antonin Scalia wrote the dissenting opinion for Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas.  "We should start calling this law SCOTUScare," apparently referencing the Court's previous decision mandating that people buy insurance was constitutional. He also lambasted the Obama administration for performing "somersaults of statutory interpretation" in the law.

The majority, in a common sense approach, decided that the entire law could not be judged by just four words, and that in context, Congress' intention to provide universal availability of subsidies was evident.  Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John Roberts acknowledged that the four words were a careless and easily misinterpreted phrase.
"The Affordable Care Act contains more than a few examples of inartful drafting...The Act does not reflect the type of care and deliberation that one might expect of such significant legislation...(but) the context and structure of the Act compel us to depart from what would otherwise be the most natural reading of the pertinent statutory phrase."
The majority held that despite the phrase in question's ambiguity, it should be interpreted to be consistent with "the way different provisions in the statute interact." 

what eye thynk:   I have been imagining the 2016 presidential campaign if Republican candidates had to explain  the "benefits" of losing their health insurance to 6.5 million Americans.  It was a possibility that, in recent weeks, the Republican Party was beginning to realize could be theirs.

Despite the GOP's five year battle against "Obamacare," and party leadership's claim that they could do better, they have never reached any type of serious consensus on an alternative plan.  Some Republican governors, who up to this point refused to create a state exchange, were beginning to realize how shaky would be their tenure in the governor's seat if they had to explain to those citizens losing their subsidies why they felt it was more important to stand up for GOP principles rather than protect their constituents.  Plans to create state exchanges were being put on the fast track in several red states. 

Washington Republicans were floating ideas for stop-gap measures to save the subsidies while Congress worked on that elusive alternative plan.  Of course, the need for these steps were costumed in typical Republican rhetoric, basically their argument was  "The President has no plans to help you if SCOTUS decides in our favor; so please note how hard we are working to protect the healthcare act we've fought so hard for five years to destroy." This argument was never going to be a prize winner.

In short, if the Supreme Court decided in their favor, the Republican Party's Theater-of-the-Absurd was about to bring a whole lot of pain down on their conservative heads.  

So, when you step outside your home today, that refreshing breeze you feel is not Mother Nature's work. It's simply the result of every Republican politician in the United States of America breathing a sigh of relief.


In light of the Supreme Court's decision, Jeb Bush needs your "emergency contribution."

He appealed to his supporters:
"As we both know Hillary Clinton will be more of the same.  We cannot let his happen.  That is why I need you to make a one time--emergency contribution of $50, $25, or $10 to my campaign to ensure that NEVER happens...And here is my promise to you.  As President, I will uphold our Constitution, I will not compromise my duty to you or the American people...We need a President who will repeal and replace ObamaCare with a conservative solution."
I'm trying to decide whether to applaud his opportunism or laugh at the absurdity of another "conservative solution."   Talk about "more of the same."

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Republicans Say the Darndest Things: Ann Coulter's Double Whammy Insults Nikki Haley and Black People

Fox Pundit
Ann Coulter

Ann Coulter always seems to be running for Queen of Divisiveness; but yesterday she outdid herself. While trying to disparage liberals and Democrats, she managed to insult both South Carolina's Governor Nikki Haley (R) and all African Americans in one 24 hour period.

Having proclaimed the Confederate flag debate "completely moronic," she went on to say the debate is nothing but "a litany of liberal talking points that make Republicans look bad."

what eye thynk:  Well, yeah, she's got a point about Republicans looking bad; but they do seem to be the ones unable to let go of the fact the South lost the Civil War.

She continued to complain about how Democrats were against civil rights for a long time, so "How about banning the Democratic Party?"

Which completely misses the point that, yes, Southern Democrats were not exactly in the vanguard of the civil rights movement; but in the end it was a Democratic president who signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, while Republicans remain stuck somewhere in the 1860s. 

Continuing with her Save-the-Confederate-Flag theme, she said, 
"If we want to do something nice for black people, how about ending immigration, which is dumping millions of low-wage workers on the country, taking jobs from African-Americans?"
I wonder if she even realizes how insulting this statement is. Skipping over how stupid it is to say we should end immigration; by all means, let us "do something nice" and reserve all those low-paying jobs for African-Americans! Because black people and the minimum wage go together like fried chicken and watermelon!  Trying to make a point against liberals, she merely demonstrated once again the innate disdain conservatives have for minorities. 
Discussing South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley's call for the removal of the Confederate flag from the statehouse grounds, Ms. Coulter continued to demonstrate her mastery of the power of stupid.
"I'm appalled by--though, I really like to like Nikki Haley since she is a Republican.  On the other hand, she is an immigrant and does not understand America's history."
Most adults do not decide who to "like" based on a person's political affiliation, at least not the ones I know; but this says so much about what is wrong with America today: If you're not "us," you're the enemy.  I can't like you; I won't listen to you; you're value to me is minimal.

Democracy is based on mutual respect.  Anything less and you have the Middle East.

And a finally note: Nikki Haley's parents are immigrants; but Ms. Haley was born in South Carolina, which pretty much brings Ms. Coulter's 24 hour Confederate flag diatribe to its nadir

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

GOP Gives Itself the Right to Ignore Supreme Court Decision

RNC member Dave Agema
1.  Dave Agema, a member of the Republican National Committee and chairman of it's Political Action Committee believes he has found a way to circumvent the Supreme Court's ruling if it decides in favor of same-sex marriage in the next few weeks.  He has gotten Todd Courser (R) to introduce a bill in the Michigan House that would prohibit the state from recognizing any marriage not performed by a member of the clergy.  Judges, mayors and other state officials would be prohibited from uniting two loving people in marriage, no matter if they are gay, straight--or atheist.
what eye thynk:  The Republican Party may cry all they want about Sharia law infiltrating our court system; but they don't see anything wrong with forcing a "Christian" theocracy on the citizens of Michigan if it serves their bigoted purpose.
Mr. Agena's idea is that the state of Michigan would be in compliance with the Court's ruling (after all, they are not actually prohibiting gay couples from marrying); but still prohibit same-sex marriage by making it a requirement that the union be blessed by a pastor, priest or rabbi.
Of course, this is still not a foolproof restriction since there are Protestant churches that welcome gay members and who support the marriage rights of gay couples.  That should wipe some of the smugness off Mr. Agena's visage; though I'm sure he's working on a way around that too.  A requirement that two separate churches sign off on the license perhaps?
Caught in Mr. Agena's hate-filled net is the atheist couple who obviously would not want a church wedding or the blessing of the clergy.  With the elimination of civil marriage in the state, it is apparent that Mr. Agena believes Michigan's non-religious deserve no rights at all when it comes to wanting to marry the person they love.
Where in their obedience to the Bible do they find the basis for this type of hate? 
Jeb (shhh, don't call me Bush)

2.  Jeb Bush, trying to find his way in the crowded Republican presidential hopeful field decided to air his conservative bona fides by telling the Faith and Freedom Coalition's Road to Majority Conference that the Supreme Court's imminent decision on same-sex marriage should not be seen as an end to the divisive issue.  Last Friday, in an obvious attempt to suck-up to the religious right, he told the conservative gathering that the debate should continue "irrespective of what the courts say."

In this opinion he joins Ted Cruz, Rick Santorum, Donald Trump, Marco Rubio, in fact, the entire Republican  horde.
In our three-part system of government, the Supreme Court is granted the final word on our laws...except in Republican-land where constitutionality is either painted red or it's wrong. And to a Republican, if it's wrong, they can simply ignore it. (I call this the GOP-is-King system.  It's a four-part arrangement where everyone is subordinate to them.)
This is just another example of how conservatives in this country refuse to accept any opinion but their own.  If you doubt that, you need only look at the 1960 conservative fight against integration, or today's fights against abortion and same-sex marriage rights--or the way that for six and a half years they have held the country hostage as they refused to accept that the people twice chose Barack Obama over their candidates and have continued to govern as though the Office of President of the U.S. was theirs--ignoring, belittling, condemning any idea that has emerged from our Democratic president.
How nice of Mr. Bush et al to let us know they intend to keep up the GOP's good work.

Monday, June 22, 2015

June 22 - Monday Quote

Pope Francis released his encyclical on the environment this past week, calling on earth's peoples to take action to preserve their planet.  

Those in the thrall of the Republican Party--even Catholics who describe themselves as "deeply devout"--have decided it's okay in this instance to ignore papal judgement and to continue to follow party policy instead.  (Gotta keep that oil money flowing into GOP coffers, ya know.)

monday quote:
"One in four Americans is skeptical about climate change.  Who gives a shit?  That doesn't matter.  You don't need people's opinions on a fact.  You might as well have a poll asking which number is bigger 5 or 15?  Or do owls exist?  Or are there hats?"
(John Oliver, political satirist, 1977-     ) 

Sunday, June 21, 2015

A Special Message for "Christians"...

...you know who you are, Mr. Santorum, Mr. Cruz, Mr. Bush (yes, that's your last name, trying to hide from it is silly, we all know who you are, and it's going to appear on the ballot anyway), Mr. Walker, Mr. Perry, basically every Republican planning or currently running for president, Fox's far right pundits...   Need I go on?

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Eye Recommend -- Their Reaction to Charleston Shooting Disqualifies the GOP from American Politics

THEIR REACTION TO CHARLESTON SHOOTING DISQUALIFIES THE GOP FROM AMERICAN POLITICS, by Hrafnkell Haraldsson -- http://www.politicususa.com/2015/06/20/charleston-shooting-disqualifies-gop-american-politics.html
what eye thynk:   So many wrong words have come from the right--from presidential candidates, from maybe presidential candidates, from Republican leadership, from Fox, from other right-wing pundits--that my head has been spinning.  Mr. Haraldsson puts them all together in one scathing editorial.
"The Republican reaction to the church massacre in South Carolina has been beyond belief.  I feel almost more shell-shocked by the conservative reaction than by the shootings themselves.  I feel bad saying that, but it's true."
I know what he means.  I have found myself embarrassed to look some of my fellow minority actors and friends in the eye when the subject came up.  Apologizing for the right's reaction seems so empty.  Denouncing the right seems so inadequate.   
Mine is a white face.  I am physically indistinguishable from members of the political right.  I look like part of the problem, or at least like someone who should take the responsibility for solving it.
"The murders say a lot about one man.  The reaction indicts the entire Republican apparatus, from voters to elected officials.  I have been unable to find a single sane Republican reaction,

A case in point is Rick Perry's claim that it was an 'accident.'  Forget for a moment how somebody accidentally shoots nine people to death.  Rick Perry is a man who wants to be president.  But he can come out with something like this...

...Perry went on to say, 'This is the MO of this administration, any time there is an accident like this--the president is clear, he doesn't like for Americans to have guns and so he uses every opportunity, this being another one, to basically go parrot that message.  Also, I think there is a real issue to be talked about.  It seems to me, again without having all the details about this, that these individuals have been medicated and there may be a real issue in this country from the standpoint of these drugs and how they're used.'"
What the President actually did was point out that this type of violence does not happen in any other developed country on earth.  It is a uniquely American phenomenon and the majority of Americans want to find a way to stop it.  But leave it to a Republican to turn it into another "Obama is coming to take your guns" moment.  And, of course, lets ignore the opportunity to condemn the shooter and the "real issue" of questioning how the shooter learned this degree of racial hatred and instead blame it on drugs and mental health issues.
"Dylann Roof didn't kill those people by overdosing them.  He SHOT them.  With a GUN.  Think rather about Rick Perry's own state of mind, and that of the demographic he is appealing to...

...We know that the shooting was racially motivated because the guy they arrested for murdering those people says so.

As Richard Cohen, President of the SPLC (Southern Poverty Law Center) said in a statement, 'A white man who admires apartheid walks into a black church and kills nine people.  According to an eyewitness, he says that he has "has to do it" because black people "rape our women" and are "taking over our country."  It's an obvious hate crime by someone who feels threatened by our country's changing demographics and the increasing prominence of African Americans in public life.'"
I have to agree with Mr. Cohen.  The election of a black man to the office of President of the United States, rather than ushering in the hoped-for post-racial era, has instead incited racists who have held their hatred close for over 50 years to explode on the public scene in a way I naively hoped never to see again in my country.
"Where is the accident here?  Where is Fox News' evidence that this was an anti-Christian shooting?  Brian Tashman at Right Wing Watch wrote yesterday, "The pundits at Fox News, where many of the GOP leaders get their talking points, were in agreement.  Steve Doocy said it's "extraordinary" that the police called the attack a hate crime since it "was a white guy apparently and a black church." positing that the attack was the result of the shooter's "hostility towards Christians."  Brian Kilmeade said the shooter "hates Christian churches" and Elisabeth Hasselbeck called it an "attack on faith," all the while ignoring the shooter's explicit mentions of race.'

Such willful ignorance is criminal.  And that's just scratching the surface.

How about Fox News' token black man, antigay (sic) hater E.W. Jackson.  Where is his evidence when he claims the shooting was caused by 'growing hostility and antipathy to Christianity and what this stands for, the biblical worldview about sexual morality and other things.'"
I would call that taking the "It's all about me" meme to a whole new level of self-absorption.  That right-wing politicians and pundits are willing to turn another senseless, hate-fueled tragedy into one more opportunity to flaunt the GOP's blind dedication to feeding far-right Christian paranoia is disgusting in the extreme.
"Or Rick Santorum's 'assault on religious liberty' and Lindsey Graham's 'There are people out there, looking for Christians to kill them'?

No.  There are people out there looking for black people to kill them.  All the time.  Every day,  How do you miss that?

The killer didn't say he was going after Christians.  He said he was going after blacks. And he said why.

Facts, folks.  Facts.  Even bigots should be able to read and understand facts. Far from even admitting black people were killed because they were black, conservatives didn't even want to admit the killer was white.

'But this guy doesn't look white!' exclaimed the blonde, white-skinned columnist AJ Delgado of the Miami Herald.

In what world does he NOT look white?

The response by 'Gary' is almost worse than her original comment. 'I agree he looks light skinned black or some type of mixed.  Plus he set (sic) in the church meeting for almost an hr.'

Oh, because white guys can't sit in a black church with black folks.  Dylann Roof actually said he 'almost didn't go through with it because everyone was so nice to him,' reported NBC News--before deciding to 'go through with his mission.'

How does any of this leave Jeb Bush in any doubt that the killings were racially motivated?  Yet he won't say so.  Even the guy who they say pulled the trigger says so. But Jeb can't.  He can't because his supporters--the racist Republican base--won't hear of it.

Or Red State's Eric Erickson saying it is transgenderism that is to blame. Really?  How do you figure that?  Where, anywhere near that shooting, were transgenders involved?...

...Republicans won't...admit the racist nature of the Charleston shootings, let alone that it was an act of terrorism.  White people don't do terrorism.  White people are mentally ill.  It's not their fault.  It's drugs.  It's an accident.  It's liberalism's fault.  It's Obama's fault.

The Republican Party needs a time out.  The GOP is a hate group, not a political party.  They have disqualified themselves from the American political scene.  This latest act of violence and their reaction to it, is just the latest piece of evidence.

Terrifyingly, it won't be the last."
The Republican Party likes to talk a lot about personal responsibility.  It's about time they took heed of their own advice.

More tasteless and callous ridiculousness:  NRA board member Charles Cotton blamed Pastor Clementa Pinckney, one of the Charleston victims, for his own death and for the other eight deaths saying Pastor Pinckney opposed a bill that would have allowed parishioners to carry concealed weapons in his church. "Innocent people died because of his position on a political issue."

A mirror, Mr. Cotton, please look into a mirror.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Trump is Running, Palin Signals She's Ready

what eye thynk:  It took a few days for my guffawing to wind down to chuckles, but I finally have myself under control enough to write about the latest Republican joke: 

Donald Trump has announced that he is running for President of the United States.  In his announcement speech, he vowed: "I will do for America what I have done for business!" 

Considering that Mr. Trump has filed for bankruptcy four times, I'm not so sure this would be my first choice for a campaign slogan.

The Donald said his running mate of choice would be Oprah.  She isn't interested; but it appears La Palin is making herself available.

From her Facebook page: 
"Mr. Trump should know he's doing something right when the malcontents go ballistic in the press!  There is no denying Donald J. Trump's accomplishments (love those bankruptcies!) and drive to create opportunity for every willing American to succeed...Key to conservative's victory is to do our own vetting of each candidate, focus on their ability to unleash America's entrepreneurial spirit and dramatically shrink government in order to prioritize our nation's security. (Translation:  Fewer social programs, more wars!) THEN, on an even playing field, in 2016 we charge forward after the radical left hears America shout, 'You're fired!'" 
I suppose I should applaud her optimism; but Americans left, right or center are much more likely to hear "I quit!"--a phrase with which both Mr. Trump and Ms. Palin are intimately familiar.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Republican War on Women: Ohio In Danger of Losing All Abortion Clinics

Ohio Governor John Kasich (R) approving the first draft of his state's new budget.
The draft includes new abortion restrictions and a Catch-22 for abortion providers. 

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

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

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

the facts and commentary: New requirements and restrictions on abortion providers--inserted into a draft of Ohio's state budget at the last minute and approved by Governor (I Wanna Be President) John Kasich (R)--could result in the closing of all the abortion clinics in Ohio.

Opponents of HB 59 delivered 17,000 petitions to the Governor asking him to veto the abortion provisions.  Public Policy Polling reported that a recent poll showed 52% of Ohioans did not support the budget specifically because of its attack on reproductive rights.  Proving once again that majority opinion means nothing to Republicans, Governor Kasich chose to veto 22 amendments in the budget bill--not one of which pertained to abortion restrictions.

Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards said, "Politicians in Ohio knew they couldn't pass these unpopular measures if they played by the rules--that's why they (buried them) in the pages of a must-pass state budget."

While several Republican led states, including Ohio, have required abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at near-by hospitals, Ohio is making that requirement even more stringent with an approach that pushes the "we're only concerned about protecting women's health" argument beyond the bounds of credibilility.

Ohio's new regulations now forbid publicly funded hospitals from signing any admitting agreement with an abortion provider.  This leaves abortion providers with no choice but to approach Ohio's private hospitals to obtain the required admitting documents--and privately run hospitals are inevitably run by a faith-based organization such as the Catholic church and are unlikely to sign any agreement with an abortion clinic.  

Ohio is purposefully presenting the state's abortion providers with a cleverly crafted Catch-22.  Doctors can't partner with public hospitals--private hospitals won't partner with doctors--no partnership means no clinic.

At the same time, Ohio's new budget cuts funding for women's health centers--mainly aimed at Planned Parenthood; but having a huge effect on places like Family Health Services of East Central Ohio which will lose 43% of its operating budget.  This center, located in rural central Ohio provides breast exams, cancer screenings, tests for sexually transmitted diseases and prenatal care for 8000 Ohio women.

I do not understand how Governor Kasich and his Republican goons justify the choices they are making for Ohio's women-both pregnant and not pregnant.  The GOP seems willing to let women with breast or cervical cancer die under the auspices of their women's health ideals.  And John Kasich's tunnel vision apparently sees the loss of services for women who come to Family Health Services for prenatal care as collateral damage in the war against abortion rights.  The GOP's willingness to sacrifice some rural mothers-to-be in their fight to save another woman's fetus would seem to fly in the face of their "we're only doing this to protect women's health" argument, not that logic has ever played a prominent role in this war.

Other new anti-abortion provisions in the new budget allows welfare money to be funneled to unregulated crisis-pregnancy centers.  Can the legislature really not see the potential for corruption and waste here?  Anyone can now open one of these centers and gain state funds simply by sitting behind a desk and giving a pregnant woman a list of local adoption agencies.  Great gig, huh?

The new budget will also provide money for rape-crisis programs for the first time, but will prevent rape counselors from telling victims about abortion.  Ohio thinks a rape victim should keep that baby, put her life on hold for nine months while reliving the horror of her attack.   Really, Mr. Kasich, how, exactly is this supposed to be good for the rape victims mental and physical well-being?  

Abortion doctors will now be required to attempt to detect a fetal heart beat and report on the viability of the fetus at full term. Doctors who do not comply can face six months in jail.

Reggie Fields of the Ohio State Medical Association spoke of the new regulations:  "We are concerned any time the legislature moves beyond addressing the scope of medical practice to legislating the appropriateness of medical procedures.  In this case, we are most troubled by the threat of felony prosecution for physicians.  The OSMA has firm policy opposing any legislation that penalizes a physician for providing a legal standard of care."

Anti-abortion advocates have openly acknowledged that they are engaging in an "incremental approach" to banning all abortion in Ohio.  Kellie Copeland, executive director of Pro-Choice Ohio had this to say about their approach, "This won't make women stop getting abortions.  It just makes them more dangerous."

Recent news saw a report of a woman in Georgia being charged with murder after she went to a hospital following complications from her attempt to to self-abort using drugs she ordered on the internet. 

Under Republican "safety regulations" for women's health, we can only expect to see more of this.  Ask yourself, how safe is your daughter now?

The Republican War on Women is "fiction?"


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Florida - Saving the Rich from Extinction, Tossing a Nickel to the Poor

Last week, the Florida House rejected the Senate's proposal to expand Medicaid.  They did not, however, ignore the healthcare issue completely.  Realizing how important good healthcare is, they again voted a great health insurance deal for themselves and other state politicians.  High-level employees, like Governor Rick Scott (R), Attorney General Pam Bondi (R), legislative staff and other management level state employees will be able to purchase an individual plan for as low as $8.34/month or $30/month for a family plan.

Not wanting to appear to be too greedy, legislators voted a rate of  $50/month for individual coverage or $180 for family coverage for members of the legislature and low-level state employees.

what eye thynk:  According to one source, the Florida House is home to 40 multi-millionaires.  Sure hope they can afford that $50 payment.

The only conclusion I can draw from this healthcare travesty is that the Florida legislature is okay with allowing poor people to sicken and die; but the lives of state politicians must be protected so they can continue to do the good work of serving the wealthy.

To see how their work for the rich is continuing apace, we need only look at the budget passed by both the House and the Senate this week.  The legislature gifted uber-wealthy yacht owners with a special tax break just for them:  yacht repairs/refittings costing more than $1 million will have their tax bill capped at $60,000.

I'll sleep better knowing that the richest of the rich will not be in danger of having to sip inferior champagne because they were forced to pay the full tax bill on their yacht refitting costs.

In an effort to show they are also thinking of the little guy in Florida, the new budget includes a tax cut on cell phone and cable service.  The savings will amount to approximately $20/year on a $100 monthly cell phone bill.  That's a whopping $1.66/month in savings. An entire nickel every day of the year!  I'm sure the average Florida citizen is already busy dreaming of how to spend this windfall.

Representative Matt Gaetz (R) called this the "crown jewel" of the tax-cut package.  Incidentally, Matt is the son of Florida Senate President Don Gaetz (R) whose financial disclosure documents list his personal wealth as $26.2 million.  Guess that means Don is in a position to loan Matt 50 bucks to pay for his healthcare if the need arises. 

Sleep well, Floridians.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Republicans Say the Darndest Things: Noah Didn't Retire So Neither Should You

Greg Gianforte (R)
Potential Candidate for
Governor of Montana
Greg Gianforte speaking in Bozeman in March 2015

Multi-millionaire entrepreneur Greg Gianforte said he is "seriously considering" challenging Montana Governor Steve Bullock (D) next year. His announcement and his 30 city tour have drawn attention to his conservative stance on social issues, including his call for the elimination of Social Security.

In February, he spoke at the Montana Bible College about the "godly purpose" in work, explaining that Bible does not teach about retirement.
"There's nothing in the Bible that talks about retirement.  And yet it's been an accepted concept in our culture today,  Nowhere does it say, 'Well he was a good and faithful servant, so he went to the beach.'  It doesn't say that anywhere." 
"The example I think of is Noah.  How old was Noah when he built the ark? 600.  He wasn't like, cashing Social Security checks, he wasn't hanging out, he was working .  So I think we have an obligation to work.  The role we have in work may change over time, but the concept of retirement is not biblical."
Soon after the Huffington Post reported Mr. Gianforte's Noah speech on June 9, the audio link to his speech, along with any mention of its contents was removed from the college's website.

what eye thynk:  You know what else isn't in the Bible?  Airplanes and the Internet; but Mr. Gianforte is a tech entrepreneur; and I'll bet he isn't wearing sandals and walking to those 30 Montana cities.

His family foundation supports a Montana creation museum that displays dinosaur fossils "in the context of biblical creation."  Mr. Gianforte proudly believes that the earth is only 6,000 years old and that dinosaurs and people lived on the earth together until Noah's biblical flood, when all the dinosaurs drowned.

I guess Noah forgot to send them an invitation to join the Arc's maiden voyage.  Quite an oversite on Noah's part; but I guess we should forgive him.  I'm sure his 600-year-old memory wasn't as sharp as it was when he was merely 60. 

Mr. Gianforte unsuccessfully lobbied the city of Bozeman in 2014 before the city council approved a non-discrimination ordinance to protect its LGBT citizens.  He wrote to the council members and to Mayor Jeff Krauss:
"Homosexual advocates try to argue that businesses are leery of locating in towns that aren't friendly to homosexuals.  I believe the opposite is truer."
As one pundit said, Mr. Gianforte just "may lack the flexibility, the adaptability, and the empathy for the less fortunate, that successful governing and honoring of human rights require."

Amen to that.

Monday, June 15, 2015

June 15 - Monday Quote

I'd say Mr. Emerson got this right.

monday quote:
"Men are conservatives when they are least vigorous, or when they are most luxurious."
(Ralph Waldo Emerson, American essayist, poet, transcendentalist, 1803-1882) 

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Eye Recommend --- Kansas Governor Sam Brownback Cries During Meeting About State Budget He Destroyed

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback (R), before the tears started

what eye thynk:  I've followed the Sam Brownback-created, Ayn Rand-inspired debacle in Kansas for a few months now and written about him at least three times: 
Gov. Brownback Wants to Be King
In Kansas-No Lingerie, No Cookies for Poor; but Guns are Fine
University to Pre-School, the Republican Disdain for Education  
Just when I thought there was nowhere for Kansas to go but up; the state's Republican leadership proves me wrong. 

"Kansas Governor Sam Brownback (R) 'got emotional' during a private meeting with Kansas House Republicans because learning that there are no good options once you almost singlehandedly (sic) tank your state's economy on a quixotic quest to prove conservative economic theories work is a very bitter pill to swallow.

According to unnamed legislators who spoke with the Topeka Capital-Journal, Brownback choked back tears during the session when it became abundantly clear that there was simply no good way to pull Kansas out of the truly massive budget deficit it finds itself in.  Even worse, Republicans...have repeatedly taken the one thing that could help the economy off the table: raising taxes on the wealthy.

Instead, the group of conservatives are struggling to find money elsewhere.  So far this has meant taxing things like cigarettes and liquor, slashing the budgets of many state governmental agencies by 4 percent, taking money away from infrastructure funds and closing many schools in the state early to save cost on education."
Because, really, who needs educated citizens, right?  Teach them to think and they'll vote the GOP out; can't have that!  And decent roads and safe bridges are so overrated.  As for those government agencies--why, oh why, can't people simply learn to take care of themselves?
"As it stands, in his few years in office, Brownback has taken Kansas from a budget surplus to an $800 million shortfall."
Bush-the-Second did a better job of squandering a surplus; but then W had more money to play with and Cheney to tell him how to spend it.
"His only beneficiaries--thousands of business owners who no longer have to pay taxes."
Under Mr. Brownback's leadership, Kansas exempted the owners of 191,000 businesses from having to pay any income tax at all.
"And how did exempting 191,000 'job creators' from paying state taxes work out?  It certainly doesn't look like the kind of free market utopia Ayn Rand promised.  That is, unless lagging employment figures, a stagnant economy and schools that close weeks early are intentional features of the shining city on a hill that Reagan always talked about.

Things have been shifting from bad to worse.  Brownback was forced to concede that if these latest stabs at budget hole fillers don't work, he will have to order a general 6 percent cut across the entire state's budget--a devastating loss of money for already underfunded services for Kansans.  Regardless of your particular political bent, 'My state has no money and we can't afford to pay our bills' isn't a great position to be in.

So Brownback is upset...

...His colleagues took Brownback's tears to signify his 'passion for Kansans' but it may have been despair over his impending unemployment.  (As you can imagine, being unemployed in Kansas is no picnic.)... Today, Kansans cannot ignore the problems that are facing their state, and the man most responsible for them...

...And still he remains defiant about raising taxes.  At least on the rich.  He wants to see what the state can squeeze out of the lower and middle class first.  Brownback's current proposal is to continue raising the sales tax until the poor and middle class make up the difference left behind by the 191,000 'job creators.'...

...Brownback has long been billed by conservatives as a 'tax cutting superstar' and a hero of conservative economic values.  However, he clearly doesn't mind making the poor pay a bit more when the budget needs it.  It turns out that it wasn't taxes he hated, it's that the people paying them were in the wrong income bracket.
Kansas' GOP legislators might want to believe that Governor Brownback's watery eyes were a demonstration of his "passion" for his state's citizens; but I'd say humiliation played some part in the gubenatorial waterworks.  Going from hero to goat must hurt--though his pain can't come near to what the people of Kansas are experiencing.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Catholic League President Says It's OK to Ignore the Pope

Bill Donohue, President of the Catholic League

Bill Donohue, President of the Catholic League, said this week that Catholics could reject Pope Francis' authority when it comes to climate change.
"For example, are we God's stewards? Are we supposed to take care of the Earth?  Of course, that's out of the Old Testament, it's out of the New Testament, it's totally unobjectionable." 
But, he continuted, there is no need to do anything about pollution because it is not mentioned in either Testament in the Bible.
"No one has ever said that air pollution is intrinsically evil.  So, people need to get up to speed on this."
what eye thynk:   Mr. Donohue has made his opinions way too easy to refute.

First, if we are "God's stewards," why wouldn't we care about climate change? And protecting the earth from the ravages of climate change would seem to fall under the auspices of "we are supposed to take care of the Earth."

Second, Jesus never said anything about pollution?  Of course, pollution didn't exist in 30AD:  but still, what a disappointing and amazing oversight on His part!  (Please note: He didn't say anything about sports either, but everyone seems to pray for their team to win. I wonder if Jesus hears those heavenly petitions and thinks, "Huh?")  FYI, Mr. Donahue, the word "marriage" isn't in the Bible either, so why do conservative "Christians" have a problem with same-sex unions?

And finally, the concept of the Holy Office of Pope as a committee of two is one with which I am not familiar; though it brings me to my biggest argument with Mr. Donohue: He seems to think he has the right to pick and choose which of the Pope's dictums he should obey; and, by virtue of his Catholic League presidency, he believes he has the right to guide his fellow Catholics in their obedience to the Pope.  

When I was growing up, the Pope was viewed as God's voice on earth, a descendant of Paul, His first Pope on earth.  The Pope's word was not questioned.  We all ate fish on Friday and women covered their heads at mass.  Those rules weren't in the Bible, they came from the authority of the Pope.

I wonder in which Testament Mr. Donohue found his authority? 

Thursday, June 11, 2015

The Republican War on Women: Appeals Court Lets Texas Law Stand

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

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

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

the facts and commentary:  This week, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals permitted a 2013 Texas law to stand that will most likely result in all but a handful of abortion providers in that state closing their doors.

Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights said, "Once again, women across the state of Texas face the near total elimination of safe and legal options for ending a pregnancy, and the denial of their constitutional rights."

The law requires that abortion providers have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of their clinic.  The law's proponents claim this is to safeguard the health of women, but the Texas Hospital Association, which represents 400 hospitals in the state, called the requirement unnecessary, pointing out that no patient would be turned away because her doctor was not on staff.

The law also requires clinics to update their facilities to meet emergency surgical center standards, even if the clinic provides medical abortions only.  One clinic, in an isolated corner of Texas is exempted from this requirement.

With this court decision, abortion facilities in the state of Texas will drop from 40 to about eight. 

Considering the way Republicans are prohibiting a woman's legal right to abortion, are fighting the ACA requirements to provide birth control, and are at the same time looking to cut benefits for the poor, this cartoon is particularly apt:

The Republican War on Women is "fiction?"


Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Gov. Brownback Wants to Be King

Governor Brownback signing the judiciary bill that includes "the" rider.

In 2014, Kansas' conservative legislative bloc, with the support of Governor Sam Brownback (R), passed a bill that removed the authority to appoint chief judges or to set the budgets for the district courts from the state Supreme Court. The law would seem to be at odds with Kansas' Constitution which reads: the state Supreme Court "shall have general administrative authority over all courts in this state."

Not surprisingly, critics say the law is nothing more than an attempt by the governor to stack the district courts with judges who will look upon his policies favorably. 

Arguing that appointing judges and setting budgets falls under the "general administrative authority" given to it by the Constitution, the state Supreme Court is about to decide if the law is constitutional. Needless to say, Mr. Brownback is not happy.  He has indicated his feelings by signing a lengthy bill  that allocates money for the judiciary branch this year, but not before making sure the bill included a rider stipulating that if any state court strikes down the 2014 law, the entire judiciary will be defunded. 

what eye thynk:  Because who needs state courts, right? Especially when the judicial branch insists on getting in the way of what a Republican wants--democratic process be damned!   

Maybe Mr, Brownback is planning on using the judiciary budget to make up some of his state's $400 budget shortfall.  That would relieve him and his conservative-dominated legislature from having to raise some of the taxes they so recklessly lowered just a few years ago, a prospect the legislature has already indicated they oppose.

Or maybe Mr. Brownback thinks that defunding the judiciary will relieve him of having to accede to the Court's recent decision directing Mr. Brownback to add money to the states' education budget after they decided he had cut education funding to a point so low that it was unconstitutional.

If Kansas has become the poster child for everything that is wrong with Republican economic policies; it has also become a living lesson in the elegance--and necessity--of our three branch system of government. 

Because somebody has to stop Republicans like Sam Brownback before he schedules a fitting for his crown and scepter.