Category Archives: Supreme Court

Who Was That Old Lady, Anyway?

When I was little we had an old lady living with us. We called her “Busia” (boo-shah). She had been born in Poland and came to the USA in 1913 by boat, two small kids in tow. In steerage. She was meeting her husband, who was already in the USA working in the mines.

When I knew her she was already pretty old. She didn’t speak English because she had had a stroke. It also left her right arm partially paralyzed so the time I accidentally slammed the car door on her she didn’t feel a thing. Small favors.

Her husband, who I never met, was long dead. Her only son went to war against the Nazis. He was shot down and killed over Germany. She had a flag. The US government had sent her a flag.

She cheated at cards. And when you tried to call her on it she could not (or pretended she could not) understand what you were saying. Hopeless. But she made the best potato pancakes I ever have had. Been trying to duplicate them for 50 years. Haven’t succeeded.

Who was this old lady? For a long time I thought she was a close family member with a “bone fide” relationship. For a long time I treated as though she was a member of the family.

The other day I found out I was wrong. The USA’s new, improved “travel ban ” from a number of countries has gone into effect. No longer can anyone emigrate to the USA. The only exceptions are people from these countries who are close family members. Who have a “bona fide” relationship to a citizen or legal immigrant. I think that is not such a bad idea.

So, who is included as a “close family member”? Parents, spouses, siblings, fiances and children.

And who is specifically EXCLUDED from the category of “close family member”? Who cannot claim a close family relationship. Who is, for purposes of sponsoring immigration, a “stranger”.

This may surprise some of you whose children have had children. Among those not in the category of “close family member” are  “grandparents”. Grandma and grandpa are not “close family members” Fiances are. But not Gramps.

Which brings me back to Busia. Busia was my mother’s mother. Who lived with us off and on for many years. She was my grandmother. Who , at the time, I THOUGHT was a fairly close relative of mine. Not so. My mother’s mother was something else. What was she?

Who was that old lady, anyway?

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-immigration-ruling-idUSKBN19S08N

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Donnie’s Thank You Notes

(Special guest article by Consuela von Hauftmann, Donald Trump’s longtime nanny)

My little Donnie has always had trouble thanking people for their help. He simply believes he gets what he deserves by right. Divine Right.  I have TRIED to get him to write thank  you notes, but it is impossible to get him off Twitter. So, as usual, I will send the thank you notes for him. He is just too busy ! So, here goes. This year’s thank you notes to those who made him president of the USA.

To: Rupert Murdoch, Fox Entertainment

Rupey. Thank you so much. For starting an entertainment network devoted 24/7 to shouting out that government is bad. The constant “liberals are evil”, “government is bad”, “facts are silly” message has taken root. Because of you millions of Americans no longer think for themselves and no longer even try to evaluate information. Thank you so much for helping make facts and evidence irrelevant in the political  process. Without you my little Donnie would never have had any shot at the nomination.

To: Fred “Daddy”  Trump

Although you are no longer with us and Donnie never thanked you I know that you are the one who made him what he is. Thank you for the $15,000,000 “loan” that Donnie never paid back. With that tiny bit of seed money Donnie built a great brand.  He showed others what they could do with just a small bit of help! And your insider contacts with NY Mayors Carey and Koch allowed Donnie to get special treatment from the city that allowed him fantastic tax breaks and not too much “oversight” when he used your money to develop “his” properties. Your financial support also helped the local government “ignore” Donnie’s connections with the mob “fixer” Roy Cohn. It takes a village to build a real estate development. Although Donnie would never thank you, I do.

To: The 5 activist members of the Supreme Court

It only took 5 of you, but you got the job done. Thanks so much for 2 decisions. Even though you are highly principled and believe strongly that the SCOTUS should not “make the law” by overturning Congress, at least in two cases you put aside that principle to”make the law”. Kudos and thanks.

In the Citizens United case you overturned the law and allowed all kinds of money to influence US elections by coming in through the back door. Now we have PACs and 501(c)4 organizations which can raise money anonymously and spend it in nasty attack ads which need have no basis in fact. And the best part? No one needs to take responsibility. As a result at least $17,000,000 was spent by foreign held companies to elect the POTUS in 2016. (Well,  that was the REPORTED amount…who really knows). And millions more were raised anonymously right here in the US by either citizens or foreigners. All legal.  You have made US elections a truly international contest where companies and various  leaders from all  over the world can now help elect a US president.

In the Shelby County v Holder case you generously overturned the Voting Rights Act, another law passed by Congress. This law for years has made sure that voters in selected states were protected from Jim Crow style voter suppression. Because of  your judicial  activism you have allowed many states to immediately reimpose Jim Crow style voter restrictions, aimed specifically at voters likely to vote for Democrats.Within hours of announcing your decision some states imposed new voting restrictions. Thanks for your judicial activism! You helped suppress the Democratic vote.

To: The Republican “moderates”

Republican rank and file voters gave my Donnie less than 45% of the vote in the primaries. Why? Because they thought he was crude, vulgar, crass, ignorant, unqualified, a bully, a pussy grabber and an overall idiot. They thought he was uniquely unqualified to be the leader of the USA. But when push came to shove, you came through.

Millions of Republicans who call themselves “conservative” or “moderate” hobbled off to the polls and cast their voted for my Donnie. They did not let their judgement interfere with “party loyalty”. Even though the saner members of the GOP refused to accept Donnie, you came through and put him in the White House. You helped us make the White House WHITE again! Thank you.

To: Vladimir, Julian and the 9 Benghazi committees

Thank you all. By simply keeping the idea that “emails” are somehow “criminal” you accomplished what Donnie could never do. You were able to make a public servant who has devoted her life to children and good government seem like some evil, corrupt politician. By “leaking” innocuous emails and pretending the very idea of “leaking” implies criminal acts you were able to  destroy the reputation of a  woman who has been the most transparent candidate in history. You were able to convince many voters that there “must be something” wrong, even though no evidence supported that conclusion. Innuendo and gossip worked. Donnie could not have done it without you!

To: Jill Stein and the Green Party

In the end it was your help that put my Donnie in the White House.  While he will never admit it, he could not have done it without you! Thanks so much. Just as Ralph Nader and his 97,000 votes in Florida kept Al Gore out of the White House and put GW Bush in, so your votes did the same for Donnie.

By refusing to throw your support to the “lesser of two evils”, Hillary Clinton, you managed to give the election to my Donnie! Thank you for sticking to your guns and not supporting the liberal candidate. You certainly showed her who was boss! You demanded “purity” and you got it. My pure Donnie!

In Pennsylvania my Donnie won by 44,292 votes.  Thank you Jill for your vote total of 49, 941. If those liberals had voted for Hillary my Donnie would  have lost the state.  And in Wisconsin my Donnie won by only 22,871 votes. Thank you for siphoning off 30, 934 possible liberal votes and help give Donnie the state! Of course, I also thank you for your work in Michigan. Out of over 4,000,000 votes cast my Donnie won by just 10,704! Thank  you Jill for your  51,463 votes, more than enough to have turned the state to Hillary.

So, thanks to  the Green Party votes in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan my Donnie will be president. Thank you for standing on your principles and refusing to vote for the liberal who was not “pure” enough.

To: Rudy and Chris

A special thank you. You stood by my Donnie. You supported him through it all. Rudy even got the help of the FBI involved at the last minute. Sorry that Donnie can’t come through on the jobs he promised you. You lose. No cabinet posts for you. That is just the way he is !

 

 

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Filed under Christie, Clinton, Democrat, Elections, entertainment, GOP, government, Hillary, liberals, neoconservatives, Politics, POTUS, president, Republicans, SCOTUS, Supreme Court, Trump, twitter, United States, US

When Is the First Debate?

Tonight is supposed to be the third debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. A debate between 2 people who want to take on the job of most powerful and influential human being on the face of the Earth for the next 4 years.

I am still waiting for the first debate.

So far, all we have heard about is sex , lies and emails. Insults.  Smirking. Sniffling. Name calling. Promises of prison. Just a bad reality TV show. Not a debate. A spectacle encouraged by an unprepared press. Seeking ratings, not truth.

When is the first debate? Where is the moderator who will ignore sex. Ignore emails. Ignore polls. And just ask substantive questions. And then DEMAND substantive answers.

There was some of that in the first two shows, but hardly enough to learn anything about what the candidates actually would do. This is especially true for Donald Trump. A man who specializes  in used-car-salesman assurances and generalities rather than hard facts.

So, let’s have a moderator who asks , then demands straight answers. And one who factchecks and calls out the candidates when they are simply wrong about the facts.

Try these on for size:

What would you do to  try to bring jobs back to the US? What kinds of jobs would you try to help create? What is the proper role of the federal government is helping create those jobs?

What is your overall  tax policy. What should the rates be for various income levels? Do those rates generate the needed revenues to pay for the increases in spending you are calling for?

What are some areas in which you would hope to increase spending and decrease spending? By how much? Why are you focusing on those areas?

In terms of foreign affairs, what should the US role be in the Middle East? In regards to Russia? In regards to nuclear proliferation? In regards to the Palestinian – Israeli problem? In regards to the refugee situation in Syria?

What is your approach to illegal immigration? What, specifically do you see as the problem and what, specifically do you see as a solution?

As you know the President can do nothing without a Congress that is willing to compromise. What makes you think you can get Congress to work with you? To what extent are you willing to compromise to reach agreements?

What is the proper role of the Supreme Court? What kind of justices would you appoint? To what extent would you depend on the American Bar Association and other legal groups for vetting? Is there a litmus test for your judges? What is it?

So, will the moderator ask questions and hold the candidates to answers? Will he push them for specifics on policy?

Chris Wallace of Fox News. Fair and Balanced? Will he direct the candidates to policy and substance or focus on trivialities?

I am still waiting for the first debate.

 

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Filed under Conservatives, debates, Democrat, Elections, GOP, government, Hillary, Immigration, liberals, Politics, POTUS, president, Republicans, Supreme Court, Taxes, Trump, United States, US

A Pot To Piss In

The United States of America  has, in its long history, faced a number of issues of  massive importance. The debate over the very founding of the nation and the separation of powers.  The issue of slavery, debated by Lincoln and Douglas and finally determined by war. The issue of Jim Crow. The woman’s suffrage movement. Civil Rights.Various conflicts between the federal and state governments.

I remember George Wallace standing on the steps of the University of Alabama, pledging to deny entrance to young Americans of color. The federal government nationalized the Alabama National Guard  troops to move the governor aside. Momentous.

Now, we add to the list, the battle over bathrooms.

The greatest nation on Earth. The nation of Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Lincoln, FDR, JFK and Reagan is facing another Constitutional Crisis.

To pee, or not to pee. That is the question. Shall the people of North Carolina be granted the freedom to pee in the toilet of their choice? Or should the iron hand of government compel them to pee in  approved lavatories? Shall freedom be taken away and driven into the night or shall all men, and women, and transgender men or women, be allowed to urinate and defecate in the restroom most fitting to them? Each to his or her own?

Can the great state of North Carolina demand a birth certificate as proof of one’s right to pee in a specific place?  Should the federal government join in and demand that all men, or women, or transgender men or women, have the right to eliminate in the facility of their choice? That, my friends, is the question facing America.

The intellectual titans of the USA, that beacon of freedom, are now engaged in a debate over the very hearts and souls of toilet bowls. To flush or not to flush? Put the seat down or leave it up?

Can you think of anything more humiliating or embarrassing than a government, whether local, state or federal, becoming enmeshed in where one goes to the bathroom? I can’t.

I know, sometimes major universal truths and rights are determined by small incidents. Does it matter where you sit on  the bus? Does it matter that a school closes it’s doors to you because of your skin color? Does it matter whether or not a baker has to bake a cake? I suppose it does.

At the same time, not everything needs to be a court case. Not every principle needs to be fought over . Sometimes we can let stuff slide. Even stuff that is wrong. Maybe a little perspective?

We are not talking about getting an education. Or a job. Or the right to vote. Or the right to dine in any public establishment. Someone just needs to use the toilet. Does the city of Charlotte and the state of North Carolina and the United States of America really need to get involved? Is this an issue worthy of a Constitutional crisis? Do we need a “law”?

Do we have more pressing problems?

I am reminded of the first time I traveled to Guatemala. Early in the morning  I was watching some man walking past a side street in Antigua. He must have already had his morning coffee. He stopped, glanced around (he didn’t see me), and proceeded to urinate against the side of a building. Zipped up. Walked on.

Problem solved.

 

 

 

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Filed under Constitution, government, governor, homosexual, North Carolina, Politics, Religion, Society, Supreme Court, United States, US

Speaking Ill of the Dead

De mortuis nil nisi bonum.

Evidently the ancient Romans did not know Antonin Scalia.

I have no problem writing ill of Scalia. He’s dead. He won’t read this. And if he did I could care less.

Scalia was not, as his supporters like to claim, the voice of “conservatism” on the court. More likely, he qualifies as the voice of the “reactionaries”. Those who want to return to an imaginary past. He was not, as his supporters claim, a “strict constructionist” devoted to the Constitution. He was, in essence, a “reactionary” devoted to the Articles of Confederation.

You may recall that the Articles of Confederation were the first plan of government after the revolution. It gave massive power to individual states and little power to the central government. It guaranteed no rights nationwide. It was an abysmal failure. It was because the “states rights” concept  failed so miserably that the Constitution was formed.

Scalia was more devoted to the Articles than to the Constitution.  Some examples.

In 2000, in Bush v Gore. Scalia sided with the 5-4 majority is overturning the Florida Supreme Court.That  Florida court had ruled that it was necessary to recount the Florida voted because under Florida Constitution and law a vote so close had to be recounted. The Florida Supreme Court wanted to get it right.

Scalia, siding with the majority, supported the very odd decision that counting all the votes fairly would impact negatively on the Bush campaign. The vote count was stopped. The right of the state of Florida to follow its own election laws was overturned by the SCOTUS.  Justice Scalia had a son who was in the lawfirm directly involved in the Bush appeal to the SCOTUS, which should have been a reason for his recusal.

Scalia opposed the right of citizens to health care under the ACA. He used a rather foolish broccoli analogy to suggest that the federal government had no right to implement any law requiring people to..well..do anything.  (Actually, Scalia was the prime target of a 2012 blog post on this matter….    https://josephurban.wordpress.com/2012/04/11/scalia-and-the-broccoli-conundrum/)

Scalia opposed the rights of gays to marry. He took the position that only the individual states can decide on whether or not an adult can marry. State’s rights, ignoring the amendments guaranteeing equal protection under the laws.

Perhaps the strangest case ever for someone who claimed to be a “strict constructionist”  was the Citizens United fiasco. Overturning federal law to regulate money in politics. The decision basically created a new class of citizens, called “corporations”. According to Scalia, corporations had first amendment rights to spend money on candidates. No where in the Constitution is there any indication that the founding fathers sought to make corporations “persons” in the same sense as you and I are persons. this was a complete contortion of the reason for the Bill of Rights in the first place. To protect INDIVIDUALS from governmental power. Another example of Scalia claiming to be a “strict constructionist” and then ignoring the Constitution.

And, adding to this fantasy. A corporation called Hobby Lobby was granted “religious” reasons for not providing adequate health care to its employees. A total perversion of the meaning of the First Amendment. And Scalia was there. Leading the charge.

Scalia consistently refused to support individual rights. He opposed a woman’s right to abortion He supported overturning the Voting Rights Act. He supported the idea that individual states could deny classes of citizens certain rights. He was the most reactionary justice since WW2, perhaps since the Civil War. There is no doubt that he would have been very comfortable voting with the majority in the Dred Scott case. After all, slavery was a “state’s rights” issue.

So. I speak ill of the dead. But, in fairness to me, I spoke ill of him when he was alive. His death does not make his decisions any more palatable. The fact that he has passed from political power can only be seen as a positive step for individual rights. His loss is not one to mourn.

 

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Filed under ACA, Conservatives, Constitution, Dred Scott, gay marriage, gay rights, gays, GOP, government, healthcare, Hobby Lobby, logic, Neoconservative, neoconservatives, Obamacare, Politics, POTUS, Republicans, SCOTUS, Supreme Court

Kim Davis Employment Agency

Kim: Welcome to the Kim Davis Employment Agency.  May we,  with the help of the Good Lord, find you a job?

Joe: Yes. I see you have an opening for a Social Studies teaching position. I would like to apply.

Kim: Good. Do you agree with all the terms of employment?

Joe: Well. Not really.I am supposed to teach about Buddhism and Islam but I don’ want to do that.

Kim: No problem. It is your right not to teach about heathens.

Joe: Also. I find it against my beliefs to show up for work on Mondays or Thursdays. Is that okay?

Kim: No problem. You should not have to  compromise your beliefs.

Joe: But I still get full pay, right?

Kim: Of course, no one should be denied pay because of their beliefs.

Joe: A minor problem, perhaps. I am not a certified teacher. I never went to college because all colleges are full of atheists and communists. It was against my firmly held beliefs to associate with intellectuals.

Kim: No problem. We cannot punish you for your desire to remain ignorant and narrow. It is your constitutional right under the 2nd Amendment. So, do you want the job?

Joe: Let me consider. Full pay. No work  on Mondays or Thursdays. No degree needed and teach whatever I want . Praise Jesus.  By the way, it is also against my religion to pay employment placement fees.

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Filed under Churches, clerk, huckabee, Kentucky, Kim Davis, Religion, Rowan County, Supreme Court

Movie Review: The Three Faces of Reed

(Reblogged from Siskil and Egbert’s Movie Reviews.)

A review of “The Three Faces of Reed”, (a remake of “The Three Faces of Eve”) newly released in the NY 23rd Congressional District.

Starring Jason Alexander (George Costanza of the Seinfeld TV series) as the inimitable, playful and sometimes a little off-center Congressman of NY’s 23 Congressional District, Tom Reed.

This film is set almost entirely in the psychiatric offices of an anonymous shrink in the Southern Tier of New York state. The shrink takes the Congressman back in time through hypnosis (since he cannot otherwise remember what he said or to whom he said it). It is a fascinating study of multiple personality disorder, otherwise know as PAU complex (Politics As Usual).  Jason Alexander does a wonderful job  (an Academy Award nomination is in the works,  I do believe) of portraying a politician who is able to assume different personalities almost at will. A man, who is short, balding and stubby but sees himself as tall, rugged and tough.

There is the (in his mind) tall, rugged, no nonsense, strong-jawed Congressman who is wined and dined by ALEC, the Hydrofracking industry and the NRA. He makes it clear to these lobbyists that he is at their beck and call. For example, a scene in which a widow  sits outside his office waiting for an appointment to see him about his vote to destroy the ACA.

(Scene:) Widow sitting quietly as secretary gazes into a computer screen. Muffled noises from the inner office slowly become louder and more distinct.

“Yes sir. …..Yes , sir…..Yes , sir……. Whatever you say , sir……. Of course, sir……. Just leave the bill on my desk and I will sponsor it…Yes, sir….Yes,  sir….Yes, sir…Oh, no need for that….Well,  if you insist…Thank  you so much , sir….Yes, sir… ”

Three middle aged men,  wearing Armani suits, emerge from the office, glance and sneer at the widow and give each other high fives. “He belongs to us, no doubt about it”. (End of scene)

Then there is the Constitutional scholar whose career as a mortgage broker has made him an expert on the Constitution, foreign affairs and women’s physiology. Another scene from the movie illustrates this Tea Party personality.

(Scene): The Congressman is standing in front of a group of carefully selected “constituents” and delivering one of his most profound and thoughtful speeches. Reed sees himself as 6 foot 5 inches tall and wearing an American flag draped over his shoulder as he peers, steely-eyed, into the carefully selected crowd.

“Founding fathers. 2nd amendment. Safe Act unconstitutional, I don’t care what the courts say. (applause) Obamacare BAD, unconstitutional.(thunderous applause) I  don’t care what the courts say. Heroes. We need to do more for our heroes. Our Veterans. (applause and standing ovation) We need to give them better care. We need to stop spending tax dollars on health care.(applause) We need to give our heroes better health care. Stop spending tax dollars on pork. I brought millions of dollars of federal aid to NY. We need to eliminate pork.

I support health care for our females. Stop Planned Parenthood. (standing ovation, thunderous applause, Star Spangled Banner playing in background) No more funding for abortions.  Not on my watch. Stop funding services for women. We need better health care for our women. Stop Obamacare. Keep government out of our lives. Make abortion illegal.   No more welfare. (applause) Love the unborn. End welfare for children. End birth control. 2nd amendment. No deal with Iran. No nukes for Iran. Nuke Iran. (thunderous applause along with a few “Heehaws”)Founding fathers. OK. Gotta go now”. (End of scene)

Then there is the third personality. The moderate. The sensible Mr Reed who only wants to do what is best for all of us.

(Scene): The Congressman appears at a photo op at the opening of a new gas station.

” I support small business. I love small business. I love America. I support women’s rights. I support sensible government. I support the flag and America. I think we can do better. We need to do better. I support those who support doing better. We can do better if we can only strive to do better. Liberty for all.  Let’s do better together. Together we can do better. Is that better? Don’t be scared. I really mean it (wink)” (end of scene).

So, who emerges at the end of the movie when all the personalities are finally joined? Will it be the “you wash my back and I’ll  wash yours” politician in the pocket of the fossil  fuel industry and the NRA? Will it be the Tea Party crazy who can’t decide if he wants to destroy health care for the poor, scuttle the arms deal  with Iran  and take away a woman’s right to choose or all of the above? Or will it be the smooth talking, say nothing,  do nothing , just get re-elected politician who has no real values or ethics?

We won’t tell you the ending. In the original film it was said that Eve and her personalities were finally joined. But a few years later she again disintegrated back into the multiple state. (Now called DID “Dissociative Identity Disorder”).So, she was never “cured” of her affliction.

What will happen to the Congressman in the end? Will his true personality ever emerge? Stay tuned. This reviewer suspects that there is a very lucrative lobbying career on the horizon at the end of the Hyrdofracking Rainbow for one of those personalities….

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Filed under ACA, Foreign policy, GOP, government, healthcare, Iran, Iran agreement, Neoconservative, nuclear weapons, Obamacare, Politics, right to life, SCOTUS, Supreme Court, tea party

Gays: Religious Freedom To Marry?

The Supreme Court will decide later this year whether or not the government of an individual state can prevent homosexuals from marrying. No matter where you stand on the issue, recent decisions  would seem to render any negative decision by the SCOTUS as a moot point.

If the SCOTUS decides that states can interfere with the rights of adults to marry whom they choose they will be facing a problem that they, themselves, have created.

Recent decisions, (Hobby Lobby,  for example) have made it clear that religious beliefs take precedence over the law. Irregardless of how absolutely insane that concept is, the SCOTUS has judged it so. If your religious beliefs are opposed to paying full medical benefits  to your employees, so be it. Don’t pay them. This Pandora’s Box will be used over and over again to avoid various laws.

Which brings us to homosexual marriage.

Currently there are a number of religious groups which do marry homosexuals. And more bless homosexual unions.  For example, the United Church of Christ performs and recognizes gay marriage. Some Quaker meeting houses do, some don’t. The Unitarian Universalist Church performs and recognizes gay marriage. Rabbis of Reformed Judaism perform and recognize gay marriage, as do some conservative Jewish synagogues.

This raises the question. Can the SCOTUS on one hand claim that a private business like Hobby Lobby has religious rights, while denying religious rights to legitimate religious organizations? Can the SCOTUS , on one hand claim that private businesses and individuals can evade the law while on the other refusing to allow churches to practice freely based on religious beliefs?

I would think that the next step, if the SCOTUS decides to deny individuals the right to marry, would be for those individuals and their churches to return to the courts under the auspices of religious freedom. This would be especially true in many of the states that have passed “Religious Freedom” laws directed specifically at undermining gay rights. Those laws may, in fact, be used to assure the religious rights of gay Americans.

Can those decisions and laws now be used as a doubled edged sword to guarantee those same individuals the right to be married in their churches and synagogues. If there is any logic to SCOTUS decisions they will decide that preventing people from marrying is a violation of the First Amendment and freedom of religion. A right they CLAIM to hold so dear.

We shall see.

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Filed under Christianity, Churches, Conservatives, Constitution, gay marriage, gay rights, Hobby Lobby, homosexual, SCOTUS, Supreme Court

Why I Like Mitt

Like everyone else on the political left I enjoy poking fun at Mitt Romney . He is out of touch. Was born into great wealth. Hides his money overseas. Takes seriously a religion that believes in magic underwear. (Which is really no sillier than any religion when you think about it). So, I surprised myself when I realized I wanted Mitt to run for POTUS again.

No. Not so Hilary Clinton could waltz to an easy victory. No. Not because I want to see him and his family humiliated again. But because, when looking at the rest of the GOP field, Mitt stands tall.

As in 2012 the GOP faithful have their perennial candidates. People like Huckabee, Perry, Santorum, maybe Newt. Along with a newer breed of crazy. Cruz, Rubio, Rand Paul, Ben Carson. A group of wannabees that make a Star Trek convention look like a royal wedding. None of these candidates has a chance of getting nominated or elected. But they all have a financial stake in running for POTUS.

Running for POTUS in modern times has become a very lucrative business. You fly around the country. Spout whatever comes to mind. And get hollow-headed folks to send your PACs loads of dough. Money that can be used for anything you want.

Take a look at Sideshow Sarah Palin for example. She takes in millions and spends a very small fraction on helping candidates get elected. The overwhelming majority of her unregulated PAC income is spent on her travel, wardrobe and vacations. All legal. A family slush fund. So, running for POTUS is a good gig. The fools and their money are easily parted.

But there is a second group of politicians who actually do want to be POTUS and have a chance of doing so. That would be Jeb Bush, Chris Christie and Mitt Romney. So ask yourself, of those three, who would you rather see sitting in the Oval Office?

Christie may very well self-destruct. But don’t bet on it. The GOP has been known to back criminals and bullies. Tricky Dick, anyone. Christie has a lot of baggage, to be sure. His misuse of the billions set aside for the train tunnel to NYC, which never materialized. His handling of the Sandy funds , some of which still have not been distributed. His costing the state of NJ millions of dollars by holding a special election for the vacant US Senate seat rather than waiting a few weeks and holding that election on election day. He was afraid that the votes for popular Democratic Senate candidate Booker would cut into his own election win. His hiring of a group of folks now under indictment. His vacating the job of governor for 40% of the time to spend it courting GOP votes across the nation. Again, at great expense to the people of New Jersey. Other GOP candidates throwing mud at Christie will be easy. He lives in a cesspool of his own making.

That leaves Jeb Bush. A thought. No GOP candidate NOT named Bush has won the presidency since 1984. From 1980 through 2007 only ONE time has a Bush NOT been on the national ticket. The GOP has been run as a Bush family legacy. A divine right. Which means the Bushes have plenty of money and support from the more traditional GOP money makers. While Jeb himself has plenty of “character” issues that has never stopped a family member from advancing. His illegal removal of tens of thousands of voters from the Florida rolls prior to the 2000 election all but assured his brother the presidency. Even then it took 5 members of the SCOTUS to close the deal. (Two of those justices voting to put GW on the throne had family members working directly for the Bushes) And, like the rest of the family, he does no real “public service” other than line his own pockets. But that will not be a hindrance to the oil industry. Compared to his brother he is smooth and smart and knows how to avoid saying dumb things. Beware.

That leaves us with Mitt Romney. Despite the fact that Romney was crushed in the election of 2012 in the electoral college by a vote of 332-206. But, switch the votes of Florida, Ohio and Virginia and that race becomes an almost dead heat. Add in Wisconsin and Michigan, which now have GOP governors, and it is Romney who wins big. And he did get 61,000,000 Americans to pull the lever for him. So, I understand that Romney thinks he has a chance to win this time around.

But what kind of POTUS would Romney be? Unlike the first group of idiots he is not an ideologue. He does not subscribe to any narrow religious worldview that he seeks to impose on others. Be real. The Church of Later Day Saints has always been as much a business enterprise as a religion. In the last 150 years it has not hesitated to change “god-given” doctrine for political or economic gain. (Polygamy, role of blacks comes to mind).

And unlike Christie or Bush he does not seem tied to special interests. I know he flip flops on some issues and does his share of pandering, but he is basically a business man. A manager. A bottom line guy. Which is why he supported “Romneycare” in Massachusetts. It was the practical thing to do. It made economic sense. And he took federal tax dollars to save the private Olympic games. Socialist when it suits him.

I can see President Christie going off the deep end with his “tough guy” persona and destroying any international cooperation we now enjoy. I can see Christie attacking any newsperson or citizen who dares suggest he is wrong. Christie surrounds himself with yes men who are willing to do his dirty work. What kind of cabinet would he hire? Any independent thinkers? Not the kind of guy I want as POTUS.

I can see President Jeb Bush continuing the family tradition of speaking out of both sides of his mouth at the same time. And blatantly lying with that sincere look on his face; a family gift. I can see Jeb and his people using the same nasty campaign tactics his dad and brother used. The “Willie Horton” ads. The McCain has a black baby smear. The Swiftboating of a soldier who fought in the war the Bush brothers carefully avoided. I think the family mudhole has no bottom when it comes to slinging. Another Bush would mean a major step backward for all but the oil industry. The Saudis, of course, would be gleeful.

I just can’t envision a President Romney doing those things. I think he is educable. I think he is smart. I think he wants to succeed. And I think he has a pragmatic sense that would not allow him to avoid real domestic problems once he was in a position of power. And would not allow him to get involved in the foolish hawkishness that has become a badge of honor for the GOP.

Would I vote for Romney? Heavens no. I don’t agree with him on many, if any, issues. But does he scare me? No, again. Not like Cruz or Bush or Christie or Paul or Huckabee. So, I think Mitt should run again. Maybe three times IS the charm. Maybe not. But at least sane citizens wouldn’t have to lose any sleep over the person sleeping in the White House.

What do you think? Does a Romney presidency scare you?

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The Liberals Are Coming! The Liberals Are Coming!

A Poem. With apologies to…well…everyone.

 

The Liberals Are Coming

 

Listen My children and who shall hear

The whining and crying of those who fear

Who dread the idea of rights for gays

And dream of a past of more bigoted days.

 

“The liberals are coming” is what they say

“The liberals are coming to take rights away”

“Gay liberals are coming to marry our sons”

“The liberals are coming to confiscate guns”

 

They ride through the internet,  fearful and mad

And watch Fox and Friends (which really is sad)

They worry that folks colored black, brown and red

Might all vote for Dems, a day they all dread.

 

Lockstep behind pundits their minds go a sail-in

Listening to Rush, Ann Coulter and Palin

Worshiping at the great temple of Cruz

Fearful of Muslims, agnostics and Jews

 

They see immigrants taking all jobs that are fun

Like picking tomatoes in the hot summer sun

And cutting up chickens and waiting at tables

(For non-union wages) and cleaning out stables.

 

But that half-breed from Kenya is the one they hate most

A communist-socialist they’d like to roast

That Marxist purveyor of health care for all

By tearing him down, they think themselves tall.

 

So afraid of the thought that workers have rights

If they could they would make every issue a fight

Compromise is a blasphemy they can’t conceive

For God speaks to them (or so they believe)

 

One wonders what happens to warp little brains

And cause them to focus on hatred and pain

See commies and Marxists behind every tree

And liberals plotting to “get stuff for free” ?

 

Well, the liberals aren’t coming,  so nothing to fear

The liberals aren’t coming, we’re already here

Over 200 years now and still doing fine

Slowly making life better,  one law at a time

 

Some “liberal” ideas that have taken hold?

Everyone voting. No slaves being sold.

Cleaning the water. Cleaning the air.

Minimum wages. Trials that are fair.

 

Medicare. Head Start. The old EPA.

(Well,  that one was Nixon’s…a “liberal” today)

Women have rights to their own personhood.

Social Security. See, it’s all good.

 

Let Fox-nurtured phobics keep crying in pain

With arguments silly and dumb and inane

And when they keep screaming and howling “Impeach!”

Remind them it was “liberals” who gave them free speech.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under ACA, Conservatives, Education, Elections, Environment, healthcare, homosexual, Immigration, Neoconservative, Republicans, Supreme Court

Obama Captures Devil…The GOP Responds

Over the past few years the Obama Administration has successfully brought to justice the man responsible for 9/11.  Al-Qaeda members and leaders have been killed in drone strikes or captured. And recently one of the “masterminds” of the attack on the Benghazi ambassador was captured and is incarcerated.

But yesterday, the CIA announced it finally has gotten the big one. Under authorization given them by Executive Order 666 the US has taken into custody the Devil himself.

Known throughout the ages as various names,  this evil monster is finally behind bars in an US federal prison.

At his press conference President Obama spoke these words:” The international nightmare is over. Mission Accomplished. After centuries of war, hatred, greed, oppression and violence the world has now been freed from this most evil entity. Known throughout the ages as The Devil, Lucifer,  Beelzebub, The Evil One and various other names, it is now in US custody. The nightmare is over. Evil is gone from the world.

I want to thank the brave members of the NSA, FBI, CIA and Google maps . Their fine work and steadfast determination has  lead to the incarceration of this epitome of evil. Never more will he sow his seeds of hate throughout the world. Mankind is safe forever.”

Around the world the response was one of joy.  The Pope thanked the USA for ridding the world of evil. AIDS disappeared in Africa. All terrorists throughout the Middle East destroyed their weapons and vowed never to hurt anyone again. The Koch Brothers went into hiding. North Korea opened its borders. Putin went to church.

The response from the leadership of the GOP was fast and furious.

Ted Cruz: “How much did this cost the taxpayer? How many millions were wasted on tracking down Beelzebub while hard-working billionaires picked up the tab? Just another example of Obama’s irresponsibility. No taxes for me. Time to shut down the government again.”

John McCain: “As I said years ago, we need to go to war with anyone or anything. At anytime. For any reason. This is another example of Obama’s inability to go  to war over anything. A weak president . What time is it? Where are my pills? And another thing. We need to go to war to show our enemies that we are strong? What time is it ? Where are my glasses?”

Mitt Romney:” As I said all along, the Devil is bad. That is why we need a president who wears magic underwear. Only I can stop the Devil. Obama is clueless. Clinton is clueless…what…they captured the Devil ? That’s not what I saw in the polls…Is it election night yet.”

Sarah Palin: (shrieking)” Of course the Kenyan captured the devil. They were friends. Squawk. Squawk. I knew it. I said it all along. Proof that Obama is a communist. Who else can see Russia ? Can you see Russia? I can see Russia. Squawk. Squawk…Look at ME. At ME. Now.  I am fading fast…”

Mitch McConnell: “A total failure. A total disaster. Another example of how Obamacare has led us to ruin.  What now? Under Obamacare the Devil will get FREE health care for life. And a nice cushy prison cell all to himself. Just another example of Obama’s failure. We will make him fail.”

George W Bush: “No shit ? Gol darn it. Sonnova monkey’s uncle. Whooda thought ?  Mission accomplished. Wanna see my pictures ?
Gotta good one here of me painting a picture of me while I am painting a picture of me. Purty clever. Heh. Heh.”

Rob Rubio: “It’s about time. Should have been done years ago. This president is a failure. His policy is a failure. Anyone can catch the Devil. I could catch the Devil . I could catch TWO devils. I could catch two Devils, one Beelzebub and three illegals. Vote for Me. ”

Rick Santorum:” Thank almighty God . Only God can catch the Devil. If Obama spent less time aborting babies and more time catching the Devil we would be the Land of the Free. Send money.  Now. Please. Hurry.”

Newt Gingrich: “Thank God almighty. We are a nation , under God. The greatest nation on earth. Under the sun. Obama is killing our nation. Send money now to stop Obamacare.”

Cliven Bundy: “Just another communist government overreach.  Taking a man out of his own home. Satan has rights. Unconstitutional. Only the county sheriff has the right to do that. I do not recognize the federal government. I do not recognize the USA or it’s authority. Get off my federal land. God bless the flag. God bless the USA.”

John Boehner: “This could be grounds for impeachment. Congress was not told in advance that the Evil One would be arrested.  We should have been notified that the purveyor of all of mankind’s pain for the last 6000 years was about to be taken into custody. At least 30 days notice. I am ordering articles of impeachment to be written as we speak. We will be organizing a special committee under the direction of Congressman Issa. Anyone see a bottle of Quick Tan around here?”

Meanwhile, the lawyer for Satan has asked the Supreme Court to overturn the Evil One’s arrest on the grounds that the NSA illegally collected information about his cell phone use. The lawyer also demanded that the arrest warrant be ruled illegal on the grounds of patient-doctor confidentiality. It seems as though the NSA and CIA received a tip  from a surgeon who was doing a heart transplant on Beelzebub. He realized that old Satan had no  heart to begin with, just an empty cavity. Justice Scalia has agreed to hear the case. Justice Thomas woke up briefly, concurred, then resumed his siesta.

Finally, Satan’s daughter has made her first public statement on the issue. She claims her father has diplomatic immunity as a life long member of the delegation from Hell that was legally elected a few years ago.  Her written statement follows.

“My father is a good man. He got me a good job. While he may have made a few teensy-weensy mistakes, when this is over he will be greeted in the streets of Montana as a liberator. Give the Devil his due.”(signed) Liz Cheney.

 

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Corporate Rights #2: The Hobby Lobby Religion

Central to the Hobby Lobby case before the Supreme Court is whether a corporation can exercise the right to religious freedom. And thereby excuse itself from laws it finds religiously offensive.

We have a long history of allowing religious institutions and sometime even individuals exemptions from the law. Or parts of the law. For example, the Affordable Care Act exempts religious employers from paying for health insurance costs related to some areas of contraception and abortion. The principle, not really tested yet in court in the case of the ACA, being that legitimate religious beliefs trump this part of the law. While I personally do not agree that any institution or individual is above the law, the Congress disagrees. Perhaps the lobbying power and financial clout of non-tax paying religious organizations may be part of the reason for this exemption. At any rate, it is there. It exists. It is legal.

But other times the courts have ruled that certain practices of religious groups are not above the law. Polygamy, for example, was considered essential for the leaders of the Church of Latter Day saints. But the government ruled otherwise. Even though it was, at the time, a central doctrine of the faith. The Mormons believed in it. The US government said “No”.

And no one would argue that child marriage, slavery, human sacrifice  or actions which obviously harm individuals should be protected, no matter how sincere the beliefs of the religious group that holds them. So, the courts have ruled that religious freedom has  limits, as does  any right.

Individuals who may object to joining the military can apply for conscientious objector status, which precludes them from taking part in combat. But even in this case, it does  not exempt them from military service. They are given other jobs to do. So,  in that sense, they are not exempt.

What about Hobby Lobby? It is not a religion. It is not a church. It is a junk store. It does business in the United States as a multi-million (perhaps billion dollar) corporate entity. Not a mom and pop operation. Not your local Jewish deli. It is a corporate chain, like a MacDonalds or a Dollar Store. What is it’s claim to a religious exemption?

The family that owns Hobby Lobby has sincere religious beliefs. As do the owners of thousands of businesses. And the CEO  of Exxon  or GE or Boeing.  But Hobby Lobby is claiming that the beliefs of a few people, because they are owners of a business enterprise,  somehow allow them to impose their terms on a secular labor contract. While the law says that any business must provide certain things…overtime pay, safe working conditions, minimum wages and now minimum health care benefits, Hobby Lobby is claiming that it does  not have to  abide by those laws. While it uses a religious argument, the actual substance of the case is about money. After all, no one is forcing the Green family to pay for anything out of their own pockets. They have the legal protections of a corporation, but do not want to fulfill the responsibilities of a corporation under the ACA.

The workers earn benefits. Can a corporation limit or reduce or deny benefits based on some new and radical idea of “corporate religion”? If so,  any reasonable person can follow the thread and see where it leads. Any corporate lawyer worth his salary will be codifying “religious beliefs” for Wendy’s and GM before the ink dries on a favorable court decision.

Of course a corporation cannot claim religious freedom to avoid labor laws. A corporation is an artificial , man-made legal construct.  Can anyone claim with a straight face that the original intent of the Bill of Rights was to shield business entities from the powers given Congress in Article 1 ?

Perhaps. After all, some members of this court have already turned the Constitution and themselves  into a logical pretzel with the Bush v Gore decision and the Citizens United decision. While both were obviously politically motivated the majority managed to mangle the interpretation to mean “whatever I say it means”.

So, while an honest interpretation of the law (which already exempts religious groups) and the Constitution would seem to indicate a 9-0 decision against Hobby Lobby, there is no telling how far some members will go in their homage to corporate power. We shall see. Just as Citizens United has turned our elections into a livestock auction,  (“twenty dollar, eighty dollar, five thousand dollar, two million dollar…SOLD, to the two brothers in the back of the room slinking in the corner”) this court decision could eviscerate any worker protection and undercut Article 1 of the Constitution. Believe it.

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Corporate Rights#1:The Sexual Deviants at Hobby Lobby

Quick background. The company  called Hobby Lobby,  owned by a family called the Greens,  does not want to pay for part of the health care for some of it’s workers. This is basic preventative health care covered , by law,  under the ACA. They don’t like some of the forms of birth control, which they claim are abortions. While the medical and scientific evidence refutes that claim, that is not the point.

The point is that the Greens want to exempt themselves from the law based on their personal  religious beliefs . This raises a number of issues, only one of which I will touch on today. There are other issues to be examined at a later date. But today the issue is the Green support for “sexual  deviance”.

Are the owners of Hobby Lobby trying to force deviant sexual practices on their employees? And should a company be able to encourage their employees to engage in sexually deviant behavior, directly or indirectly?

Let me explain.  The Greens oppose the idea of abortion. They also oppose having to pay for any contraceptive that they consider to be abortion inducing .  They reserve the right to define the drug and then refuse to  pay insurance costs associated with their findings. It should be noted that at least some of the contraceptives they find to be abortion inducing are not . But the court did  not delve into the scientific validity of their claims, only their genuinely held beliefs. So be it.  Some folks believe that dinosaurs walked with man. So be it.

So,  what the Greens are saying is that if their employees participate in sexual activity that could lead to pregnancy, the Greens oppose providing the means to  prevent or abort that pregnancy. Keep following this. So, if an employee of Hobby Lobby and her husband have sexual relations in which the husband carefully (or not so carefully) inserts his penis into the employee’s vagina, then the Greens get upset. They will not pay for certain contraceptives that might lead to the sexual act NOT producing a bouncing bundle of joy. So, the Greens are telling their employees that every personal sex act between a husband and wife is now the business of the Green family, because they employ one of the parties at their store. OK.

Oddly, however, the Greens are actually using an economic incentive to encourage couples to engage in non-copulatory sexual behavior. Oral sex will not lead to pregnancy. The Greens are encouraging it. Anal sex will not lead to pregnancy. The Greens are saying  to their employees. Go For It. Homosexual activity will not result  in pregnancy. To the  Greens,  that is A-OKAY in their book. I must suppose that bestiality must be number one in the “Hobby Lobby Guide to Employee Sex Practices”. After all,  the ACA does not cover vet bills.

So, we must ask ourselves. Are the Greens,  under the guise of  religious “freedom” actually encouraging their employees to engage in all kinds of sexual activity. Do they get a vicarious thrill from the thought of their workers going home and engaging in a variety of sexual practices, many of which were illegal only a few decades ago ? Does it excite their corporate religious fervor ? We cannot know and I am only asking. I am not sure where this will lead, but I suspect in the end it will unravel as a communist plot to ensure deviant sexual practices are mandated in America. Obama’s fault. I can feel it coming.

Next up, another essay on the corporate rights.

 

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NeoCon Papers #2: Symbols over Substance

The neocon philosophy has many glaring weaknesses. One of them is the placing of  symbols over substance.  Remember the campaign ads of Reagan and his “Morning in America”?  Then came Bush’s “Willie Horton” and more recently Obama’s lack of a flag lapel pin.

What these have in common is the glorification of symbols at the expense of facts.” Morning in America” with flags waving and happy little white faces beaming , freshly scrubbed  and clean. What the REAL America was supposed to look like. Then came Willie Horton. Dark. Criminal. Black. No need to explain. He was the essence of evil.  That evil loosed on the world by Democrats like Dukakis. Both of these campaign ads were effective. Both worked. Both distorted reality.

Then, of course , there is the flag. Even the flag pin itself has achieved some semblance of holiness to the far right. The lack of a flag pin on a politician’s lapel is tantamount to treason ! A disqualification for public office.

What is a flag pin? Really? A cheap piece of plastic or toxic metal painted with stars and stripes. Gaudy. Most likely made by child labor in some factory  in Asia. A piece of junk.  But it symbolizes the flag. And here is where the neocons go off the deep end.

The neocons, as I suggested in Paper#1, are lost in delusions. Their attachment to and misunderstanding of symbols, like the flag pin, reinforces that point. In their world view the flag is not a “symbol” of the United States, it IS the United States. So wearing a cheap foreign made flag pin identifies a politician as  a patriot. Conversely, not wearing one means the politician must “hate America”. There is a logic to that, if you accept their faulty premise.

How many times have we heard some neocon pundit or politician pompously declare that “American soldiers died for that flag”? Utter nonsense. Silly and childish. Except within the narrow confines of neocon logic, where it makes sense. Symbols become reality. In fact no one has ever died for the flag. Thousands have died in wars, either wars of defense or wars of occupation. True. And the flag has been used as  a banner for those wars. True enough. But soldiers do not die for it. They may die for freedom or for oil or to spread democracy or for corporate greed, but the flag itself is simply a prop.

It is this confusion of symbols with reality that leads neocons down logical dead ends. Example. The flag is sacred. Anyone who honors the flag is therefore a patriot. Anyone who does not pay lip service to the flag is anti-American. If Adolf Hitler pranced around with a flag pin today the neocons would proclaim him a great American patriot. If Jesus of Nazareth arrived on the scene and refused to honor the flag he would be condemned as a communist.

Does the flag stand for something? Yes. Generally, to Americans it stands for freedom and democracy. To many Latin Americans and Asians it stands for brutality and death. A symbol may have many interpretations. This is not to deny the significance of the symbol, but understand that it is only a symbol. It is a design on a piece of cloth. No intrinsic value.

The neocons have tried to convert what should be a symbol for freedom into a religious icon.  A sacred object to be venerated and worshiped. It is a misunderstanding of the fundamental difference between the symbolic and the real. No different, really, than the fundamentalist Muslim response to offending the Koran.  Both put the value of inanimate objects above the value of human life and freedom. Both would jail those who refuse to deify  symbols.

This is just another one of the fundamental weaknesses of the neocon philosophy. The triumph of symbols over substance.

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Scalia and the Broccoli Conundrum

 

According to the transcript of the Affordable Care Act debate before the Supreme Court, Justice Antonin Scalia used broccoli in one of his analogies. Specifically, if the government can force a person to buy health insurance, couldn’t the government force a person to eat broccoli. I think this will go down in the annals of Supreme Court history as the “Broccoli Conundrum”.
I will be the first to admit that I have not read the entire transcript of the arguments, so I may be taking his statement out of context. But that is acceptable. I simply follow Mr. Scalia who has admitted he has not read the law he will be rendering judgment on. So, following his lead, I will limit my comments and analysis to the broccoli.
His analogy was a simple one. Worthy of any 9th grade social studies student. Clear. Uncomplicated. Unfounded. And missing the point entirely. Let us examine.
He compares a requirement to pay a fee or tax to the force feeding of a specific food. Shoving something down someone’s throat is hardly analogous to charging a fee. Yet, giving Antonin the benefit of the doubt, let’s examine this idea. He has drawn the conclusion that if the government can force one to pay a fee for insurance, it can then force any behavior. As I said, not bad for a 9th grader. Not good for someone who fancies himself a legal scholar.
One weak point in the analogy is obvious. While the government mandates that an individual purchase insurance, there is no mandate to actually use the insurance. There is no physical coercion. No penalty for not seeing a doctor. No one is forced to have an operation. It is simply a financial burden.
The government is replete with similar financial burdens. For example, I am forced to pay taxes or fees for the interstate highway system, parks, dams, bridges and other government enterprises. The government does not force me to use the highways. I may never directly benefit from or use these, but I am required to pay my fair share. I am also required to pay Medicare and Medicaid taxes, though I am not a recipient of those services.
I am forced to subsidize the oil and other energy industries, the military, churches and other non-profits and a host of others who receive tax breaks. I make up the difference. And receive no direct benefit.
I am not complaining. I fully understand (as our imaginary 9th grader has yet to comprehend) that as a member of society we all need to pull our weight. All of us. And each of us pays fees or taxes for things which we do not approve.
Back to broccoli. Can the government force me to eat broccoli? In a sense, yes. The government can force feed individuals, against their will. And if I fail to provide food for my children, the government can force me to do so, or take away the kids. In fact, should I choose to die by starvation , the government will not allow it. It will demand that I be force fed against my will. So, in that sense, the government does have a right to force me to eat my broccoli.
Today we have governments that are forcing women to undergo vaginal probes. Forcing employees to give blood for drug testing. Forcing men and women to take alcohol tests. Even force men and women to go overseas to fight and die. The list is pretty long. And I have yet to hear Antonin utter complaints about those intrusions.
So, Justice Scalia’s simplistic analogy falls flat. The answer, Antonin, is “Yes”. We live in a society. We share the fruits, we share the burdens. The government has , for many years, forced us to do things far more personal and more intimate than another tax.
So, Tony, remember what your mother said. “Eat your broccoli, it’s good for you”. And pay your taxes.

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