The Republican Dictionary

October 29th, 2014

elephantAbortion: a∙bor∙tion n. Decision old white men think they should make rather than the pregnant woman, her family and doctor

Budget: budg∙et n. Something nobody in Congress wants to make, but everyone wants to talk about

Constitution: Con∙sti∙tu∙tion n. The most important document our country has because it contains the Second Amendment allowing militia groups and anyone else the right to have arsenals of weapons including assault rifles and large magazine clips anywhere they want

Compromise: com∙pro∙mise n. Accepting things you want, but not accepting anything else; getting 100% of what you want
Cooperation: co∙op∙er∙a∙tion n. Working solely with members of the Republican Party, especially Tea Partiers, to pass bills that only advance the Republican philosophy and agenda

Democracy: de∙moc∙ra∙cy n. Something America used to have, but that politicians are causing us to lose; increasing the power of the Republican Party to serve the job creators, not the takers, so they can restore our Republic

Democrat: Dem∙o∙crat n. A person whose political views don’t make sense and who shouldn’t be allowed to vote

Ebola: E∙bo∙la n. A deadly disease that politicians and the media are using to fear monger

Entitlements: en∙ti∙tle∙ments n. Programs like Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security that waste money, provide a safety net and cause dependency on welfare and government; creates laziness and focuses on veterans, the disabled and the elderly, rather than job creators

Equality: e∙qual∙i∙ty n. Giving rights and fair treatment to everyone who deserves it and believes as you do; Republicans know giving everyone equal rights is not a good idea

Facts: fact n. Statements the GOP often prefers to deny than believe

Fantasy: fan∙ta∙sy n. Imagining things that don’t exist, such as not having a black president

Forgetfulness: for∙get∙ful∙ness adj. Convenient lapses of memory such as when you forget who won the White House in the last two elections

Gender gap: gen∙der gap n.; Statistical differences in the votes of men and women that illustrate why women shouldn’t be allowed to vote

Government: gov∙ern∙ment n. A group of people elected to make laws and govern, but once in office, believe that less is better when it involves the environment, taxes, safety net programs, and job creation, but more is necessary when it involves women in the bedroom

Idea: i∙de∙a n. A thought; Republicans don’t need any new ones, they can keep using those of the past

IDs: IDs n. A legal way to claim fraud in a voting system that doesn’t have any; a way to suppress the vote of those who don’t agree with your message or views

Inequality: in∙e∙qual∙i∙ty n. Equality is socialism, so disparity is good for democracy

Infrastructure: in∙fra∙struc∙ture n. The large-scale public transportation system that just exists, therefore no one needs to finance projects to repair roads and bridges or create new ones

Law: law n. The principles set out in the Bible that should also be binding for our country

Liberal: A belief by the media and Democrats who think Ted Cruz, Stephen King or Louie Gohmert are wrong in their views

Logic: log∙ic n. Getting what I want, when I want it, regardless of the needs and wishes of others, is just commonsense

ringsMarriage: mar∙riage n. A union between one man and one woman…period

Math: math n. A creative budgeting system that can add two plus two, but not necessarily get four

Minorities: mi∙nor∙i∙ties n. Second class citizens who should be blocked from voting

Non-politician: non∙pol∙ti∙cian n. People, who are not elected, but who are big supporters of Republicans like Donald Trump, Ted Nugent and the Koch Brothers

NRA: NRA n. An organization that grades House members on their views on gun rights and gives most Republicans an A+

Obstructionist: ob∙struc∙tion∙ist n. Deliberately causing delays and impeding progress by Republicans like Mitch McConnell, John Boehner and Ted Cruz so Obama can’t accomplish his agenda

Oligarchy: ol∙i∙gar∙chy n. When a small group of people control the government because they know what is best for everyone

Personhood: per∙son∙hood n. Acknowledging that more rights should be bestowed on a miniscule, second-old egg that may or may not become a human embryo than to an adult woman

Perspective: per∙spec∙tive n. Seeing things from only your own viewpoint because you know opinions of others who might disagree are wrong

Privatization: pri∙va∙ti∙za∙tion n. Transferring ownership from government run facilities to successful businessmen because they know better than the government how to run a business so it will make a profit for them and shareholders

Pro-Life: pro∙life adj. Mandating that women who are pregnant, regardless of the circumstances, give birth and get married so that there is a traditional family unit for the child
Republican: Re∙pub∙li∙can adj Republican Party; n. Someone who thinks they should rule America even if they have to rig the election to win; winning is what matters, not how you play the game

Scientist: sci∙en∙tist n. People who aren’t Republicans who know about climate change

Stupidity: stu∙pid∙i∙ty n. Whatever a Democrat or liberal media person thinks, not what someone like Joni Ernst, Sarah Palin or Michelle Bachman would say

Supreme Court: Su∙preme Court n. Highest court; ruling with purist ideology and proud of their conservative, versus constitutional, positions

Tantrum: tan∙trum n. What children do when they don’t get their way; filibuster is what Congress does

Taxes: tax∙es n. Amount of money a job creator has to pay to the government rather than being able to keep it and create more jobs

Theology the∙ol∙o∙gy n. Ruling America by religious principles and Christian ideals

Truth: truth n.; Statements conveying the way the GOP would like things to be; anything that will rally the base

Veterans: vet∙er∙ans n. People who are proud to fight wars for America’s democracy and who we take care of when they return by finally allocating more money to the VA

Voters: vot∙ers n. Anyone who is 18 can register and cast a ballot even if they aren’t qualified; voters should only be white men, married women, and those who believe in conservative values

Wage: wage n. Compensation for work that depends on the type of job you have–that is why CEOs should make more than 350 times what a worker makes

War: war n. Invading others for oil, to spread democracy, or to wipe out terrorists is okay

Welfare wel∙fare n. Money given to lazy people that gives them no incentive to work, while incentivizing corporations for their work is good business

NOTE: This dictionary contains mostly nouns and a few adjectives, but no verbs as the Republican Party takes no action.

Republican Governors Questionable Behavior

October 10th, 2014

vote2While some Republican governors’ behavior is criminal, others are morally and ethically wrong. Below are some of the choices made by our brilliant elected officials…

Hardworking California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger not only impregnated his wife with their fourth child, but also had an affair with his maid, Mildred Baena, and impregnated her.

In June 2009, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford simply disappeared for six days. A bewildered spokesman said he was hiking the Appalachian Trail. But what he did was fly to Buenos Aires, Argentina to be with his mistress, Maria Belén Chapur. He elected to abandon his position without notice or communication with his office, for almost a week. Apparently some voters don’t think extramarital affairs are that bad. After his term as Governor ended, the voters chose to elect him to Congress to serve SC’s first district. What message are they sending by electing him again?

During the 2012 election cycle, Governor of Pennsylvania, Tom Corbett bragged about implementing a new voter ID law that would ensure Mitt Romney was elected president. Since then, he has done nothing to help PA’s economy, the law was overturned by a federal court, and Romney did not win the Presidency.

Florida Governor Rick Scott, who has been mired in corruption associated with his tenure as CEO of Columbia/HCA, cut education funding and a high speed rail project. He also publicly denied global warming and the impact it will have on his state. In spite of his unpopularity, he vowed to spend $100 million to hold onto his job…makes you question his motives?

Governor Rick Snyder of Michigan pushed through a “right to work” law in his union-dominated state and enacted a tough abortion bill – both laws passed in a lame-duck session in late 2012. I wonder: do laws that can only pass in a lame duck session really serve the people who elected them?

John Kasich, Governor of Ohio, ruled with conservative ideology that led to an unpopular law restricting collective bargaining rights for public workers. The restrictive law was subsequently overturned by Ohio voters.

In 2014, a number of Republican Governors faced problems

Governor Chris Christi’s “Bridgegate” involved the closure of the George Washington Bridge to get back at a political opponent. While this scandal hasn’t been directly linked to him…it makes one question how and why it happened under his rule.

Just this month, former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, was found guilty of 11 counts of bribery, fraud and corruption; his wife Maureen, guilty on eight counts. Convicted of accepting lavish gifts from businessman Johnnie Williams for political favors including Williams paying for their daughter’s wedding, going on shopping sprees together and borrowing his Aston Martin “James Bond car” for vacations.

While the GOP might love Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s actions against labor and unions, not everyone agrees. He is marred by prosecutor investigations for illegally coordinating with conservative groups, special interest groups and a campaign committee. Charges were brought against a major campaign donor, one of his appointees and three of Walker’s close aides were indicted on felony embezzlement charges.

In August, Texas Governor Rick Perry was indicted for one count of abuse of official capacity and one count for coercion of a public official. Perry, both ignorant and arrogant, when asked “what his charges were?” answered his question, with a question: “bribery?” Afterwards, he created t-shirts with his mug shot. Are these responses presidential?

Democrats aren’t saints either

Senator Edward (Ted) Kennedy had a prolific and brilliant career. He was on the path to the presidency. But, when he was involved in the car accident and drowning death of Mary Jo Kopechne, he chose to leave the scene of the accident, and not report it until the next day.

In 1987, Gary Hart was the frontrunner to win the democratic nomination for president. Unfortunately, when his extramarital affair with model Donna Rice surfaced, that goal was unachievable.

John Edwards had dreams of being president, but poor judgment and sexual indiscretions crushed that ambition. Edwards, not only had an affair with filmmaker Rielle Hunter, as his wife was dying of cancer, but he fathered a child with her. Later, in an attempt to cover up an extramarital affair following his 2008 campaign, a North Carolina grand jury indicted Edwards in 2011 on six felony charges of violating multiple federal campaign contribution laws. Edwards admitted the affair, was found not guilty on one count, and the judge declared a mistrial on the remaining five charges.

Bill Clinton had his affair with Monica Lewinsky and Congressman Anthony Weiner texted unwanted photos of “his wiener” to multiple women.

New York’s Eliot Spitzer had at least seven liaisons with prostitutes over a six-month period. Investigators estimated Spitzer paid up to $80,000 for prostitutes over a period of several years, while serving as both attorney general and governor.

Maybe it’s time to stop voting for incumbents. Maybe it’s time to use a moral compass rather than a high-dollar portfolio to decide who we elect to office.

Inequality for All: The Republican Goal

September 8th, 2014

people1As inequalities increase in America over the next couple of decades, life for some will become bleak. Income inequality is just one aspect of the fight for inequality for all. It extends into inequality in education, healthcare, voting, wages, women’s rights and sexual orientation. If the Republicans have their way, the top 1% would control everything and everyone. The Koch Brothers would literally own much of the country, deciding on your kids’ education, your families’ healthcare and your future.

If these inequalities become the normal way of life in America, these actions will create an austere country in which the American Dream will be dead. It would be replaced by long work hours for little pay. No chance of advancement. Owning a home or sending your child to college would no longer be an option for most.

Free elections encouraging everyone to vote would be a memory, instead reverting to the days when only white, male landowners could vote. Originally, the U.S. Constitution did not define who was eligible to vote, allowing each state to make that determination. In the early history of U.S., most states allowed only Caucasian males—who either owned property or, had taxable incomes—to vote.[1]

With fewer well care programs and healthcare services available, people’s lifespan would decrease. More diseases would infect the previously healthy society, and slum conditions would spread contaminated conditions resembling third world countries.

How did we get to this point?

Elected officials and corporate CEOS need to realize that massive inequalities have consequences. By lowering taxes on the wealthy, not closing corporate loopholes, and allowing corporations to avoid paying taxes, government revenues will be depleted and government services will no longer be available.

Do we want to live in a country where there are inadequately staffed police and fire departments that aren’t able to control crime or destructive fires? Where libraries vanish, national and state parks become extinct and schools decline…a place where former middle-class neighborhoods, as well as shantytowns, become dilapidated.

The loss of the tax base will partially be caused by tax inversion schemes allowing companies to locate their headquarters in foreign countries to avoid taxes while enjoying the benefits of America. Today, one in four companies pays no taxes. Additionally, many large profitable corporations, such as GE, not only don’t pay taxes, but they actually get subsidies paid to them…with your tax dollars.

Business taxes now make up less than 10 percent of federal revenue, and in some years as little as 6.6 percent. That is sharply down from the years after World War II, when about 30 percent of federal revenue came from corporate taxes… Only 6 percent of businesses are traditional corporations subject to the corporate income tax, according to the Congressional Research Service. That is down from 17 percent in 1980. The result is that less than half of the government’s business income comes from corporations, down from about 80 percent in 1980.[2]

Between 1979 and 2010, real median income of 99 percent of Americans increased by a lowly 36 percent. During the same period, real earnings of the top 1 percent grew by an astonishing 280 percent. One-quarter of income growth in the United States from 1979 to 2010 flowed to the top 1 percent.

As the Republicans continue their war on labor, negotiating for better wages and conditions is eluding most workers. Higher salaries and benefits are flooding to executives, while workers, who are losing their unions and bargaining strength, are barely able to pay their mortgages.

As corporate executives bask in their wealth, they are failing to realize that without the multitude able to buy their products, their companies will falter. The stock market will eventually realize that sales are dropping, which will trigger a downward spiral to oblivion.

With nothing being spent on crumbling infrastructure, it becomes difficult to get from home to work to entertainment venues. Without roads and money, not enough people are buying automobiles, tires, batteries and gas. The automotive industry will collapse, and with it many other industries.

Inequality in income, education and personal freedoms will destroy America if it continues at its current pace. Republicans are fostering inequality in wages for women when they don’t support equal pay for equal work legislation. They are bankrupting the country when they don’t raise minimum wages so laborers can earn a living. As more and more Republican governors take funds from school budgets, schools are closing and textbooks are limited resulting in only the elite getting a world-class education.

Yet the so-called fiscally responsible Republicans have no problem spending money to send Americans to war, but they don’t want to take care of them or help them find work when they return. Showing no biases, they continue their stand on inequalities for all, including our wounded warriors.

Climate change is a scientific fact, but not to the far right. Legislation to help protect our planet and preserve it for our children is overridden by those who support big oil, drilling and fracking everywhere. Not concerned with tainting the water that nourishes crops and cattle, or annihilating a rural communities’ water supply, their only concern is feeding the big oil industry with more drilling. Inequality for many, oil profits for a few.

By continuing to cater to the rich who don’t want to impose reasonable regulations on Wall Street, Republicans continue to propel the injustices of the past. The corruption and the fraud that made the rich richer and collapsed our economy continues to be unrestrained. The lack of proper financial and labor regulations are two major reasons inequality is growing in America, not by small steps, but by leaps and bounds. Those people who were able to invest in the stock market the last five years, saw unprecedented profits; those who couldn’t, continue to struggle.

As the president works to level some of these inequities, the Republican Party threatens another costly government shutdown or wasting time and precious resources suing or impeaching Obama. Americans need to vote in 2014 to make sure these disastrous scenarios don’t come to pass.

[1]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voting_rights_in_the_United_States

[2]http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2014/08/28/businesses-find-ways-to-avoid-corporate-taxes-but-a-fix-seems-unlikely/

Sidebar

Top 10 Corporations with Inequality Income Disparities

McDonald’s average hourly worker wage: $7.73
McDonald’s CEO hourly compensation: $9,247 (1,196 times the average worker wage)

Starbuck’s average hourly worker wage: $8.79
Starbucks CEO hourly compensation: $9,637 (1,096 times the average worker wage)

Dollar General average hourly worker wage: $7.67
Dollar General CEO’s hourly compensation: $7,720 (1,007 times the average worker wage)

Gap Inc. average hourly worker wage: $8.67
Gap Inc. CEO’s hourly compensation: $8,209 (947 times the average worker wage)

T. J. Maxx average hourly worker wage: $7.85
T. J. Maxx CEO’s hourly compensation: $7,256 (924 times the average worker wage)

Target average hourly worker wage: $8.35
Target CEO’s hourly compensation: $6,882 (824 times the average worker wage)

Walmart average hourly worker wage: $8.86
Walmart CEO’s hourly compensation: $6,898 (779 times the average worker wage)

CVS Caremark average hourly worker wage: $8.81
CVS Caremark CEO’s hourly compensation: $6,777 (769 times the average worker wage)

Best Buy average hourly worker wage: $9.78
Best Buy CEO’s hourly compensation: $6,517 (666 times the average worker wage)

AT&T average hourly worker wage: $13.28
AT&T CEO’s hourly compensation: $7,412 (558 times the wage of an average worker)

http://www.csmonitor.com/Business/2013/1212/CEO-vs.-worker-pay-Walmart-McDonald-s-and-eight-other-firms-with-biggest-gaps/Best-Buy

Study by NerdWallet

The Republican Clown Car

September 8th, 2014

car1elephantcircusCongress, Everyone loves a circus! We are dazzled by the trapeze artists, awed by the elephants, amazed by the aerial acrobats and astonished by the high-wire daredevils. The clowns and clown cars always bring laughter and a smile to our faces, well, until now…

Today, when the words “clown car” are spoken you don’t think about Bozo or Ringling Bros., but rather Republicans thinking of running for president. Like the circus, the Republican clown car just keeps adding more and more clowns to it hoping to excite and attract audiences. Unfortunately, the clowns they are adding are Chris Christi, Rick Perry, Scott Walker, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Michelle Bachmann, Paul Ryan, Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee and the legendary Mitt Romney.

Similar to Barnum & Bailey, these disruptive Republican clowns are a constant driving force of the “show”. Their interruptions, pranks, and antics are unchanging and can be witnessed at every performance. But, beware of the “Tea Party” car. It’s running amuck, scaring the audience with radical moves, and putting everyone in danger.

Like touring circuses, our American circus also utilizes three rings — The Executive Branch, the Senate and the House. The main ringmaster, President Obama, stands in the center ring. Like former ringmasters, he wants to introduce, excite and describe activities happening in the other rings. But, when he sees the disarray in the “House” ring, the lack of showmanship and performance, he is unable to move the show forward for the American audience.

Speaker Boehner attempts to control the actions in his House ring, but the clowns have made the whole show a laughing spectacle. People from around the globe watch our circus and are amazed not by our aerial feats, but rather, the dysfunction of the House. While the circus infrastructure is crumbling, no one wants to invest or upgrade the equipment.

In our third ring, Senator Harry Reid has the majority of his group working to give the people what they want. But during his performances, a cowardly villain, Mitch McConnell, interrupts each act and ruins the show every chance he gets. Whenever a new act is introduced, he tries to block it from the show.

At each performance, he attempts to announce new acts, but is constantly challenged by his troupe. Each of America’s rings is meant to perform simultaneously and harmoniously. Our current circus show however, presents just the opposite.

This Republican circus is not entertaining and has cost the American people more than the price of their tickets. In touring circuses like Ringling Bros., trapeze artists are protected by safety nets. But in our American circus, the Republicans no longer want to provide a safety net for the poor or elderly. They don’t want to provide healthcare to their workers should one fall or become ill. They want to lower people’s wages and charge service fees so they can make even more money. If their performers can’t afford food, that’s too bad; they will just have to work harder and for longer hours. With big sponsors like the Koch Brothers, the owners don’t worry about their investment or if the show might close early.

The problem is that for most circuses, after a couple of weeks, they move on. But in our American Circus, the Republican ideology and clowning will stick around indefinitely unless we hire new performers who want the show to go on!

If you don’t vote, you get what you deserve

June 30th, 2014

vote2Have you ever thought…my vote doesn’t matter so why hassle with it? Or, decide not to vote because you didn’t want to wait in line or drive to your designated polling location? Have you ever chosen not to vote, but then found yourself getting angry about the course of action an elected official took? It is crucial for everyone to exercise their constitutional right to cast a ballot…even in midterm elections like the one coming up in November.

After all the ballots are counted, someone is going to win whether you take part or not.

The Midterms Elections typically have small turnouts, but this November needs to be different if Democrats want to keep the Senate and make a substantial move in the House. To accomplish that goal, everyone will need to put the excuses aside and vote. Citizens, whether Republicans, Democrats or Independents, all have much to gain by voting for politicians who are interested in the good of the country: interested in working together, listening to each other and compromising. So, take a stand, get involved and go to the polls to choose the candidate that best represents you and your interests.

If you are part of the LGBT community or support marriage equality, make sure you know where your candidate and their party stand on equality issues. Did you know that a draft of the Texas Republican Party’s platform cuts language claiming homosexuality “tears at the fabric of society” but recognizes the “legitimacy” of so-called reparative therapy to “escape from the homosexual lifestyle?” Did you know that the Texas GOP’s stand could become the national GOP stand? If you are a Log Cabin Republican, please explain to me how you can support both the GOP and your partner.

If you are a woman, please enlighten me on how you vote for a party that wants to control your life in the bedroom and the office? How do you vote for a party that didn’t support the Violence Against Women Act? The GOP wants to take away your right to choose the best course of action for your body, doesn’t want to pay you an equal wage for equal work, wants to cut food stamps to the needy and won’t assist you if a violent crime is committed against you. While you may be pro-life, do you support extremists who think abortion should be banned even in the case of rape, incest or to save the mother’s life? If you are opposed to abortion, are you also opposed to contraception, welfare, and unwed teenage mothers? When you vote, remember that the Republicans closed Planned Parenthood in many states, limiting options for many women, especially in rural areas, for mammograms and other medical care.

Are you interested in good health insurance for you as well as others? Did you know that almost all the red states turned down the Medicaid expansion, costing these states billions in federal dollars, reducing healthcare and costing jobs for thousands? Taxpayers in red states do pay into the system, but unfortunately all the benefits of the Medicaid expansion go to blue states.

Despite the Republicans attempts to repeal the ACA 50+ times and turning down the Medicaid expansion, the latest jobs report suggests that the broader economy—and the healthcare sector, specifically—are adding jobs at a brisk rate. Since March 2010, when the ACA was signed, the healthcare industry has added nearly a million jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.*

If you are a minority citizen, an immigrant or a person who embraces diversity, do you realize that the Republican Platform does not support immigration reform? In addition, the GOP is actually taking steps to make it more difficult for minorities to vote and earn a living wage. I believe if African Americans and Hispanics do not come out to vote this November, the clock could be turned back to the era of Jim Crow laws or worse.

Veterans have historically voted Republican. Have you noticed that the GOP, however, is more interested in sending our soldiers to war than taking care of them when they return? Consider the Republican view on benefits, homelessness and job creation once our heroes come back home.

If you drive a car, have a house, or own a business, do you ever consider alternative energy sources or the cost of oil? Democrats support the research and development of alternative energy rather than depending on foreign oil. The United States’ own resources along with wind and solar can solve our energy problems if we invest in that technology and it would create good jobs at home.

If you are part of the working class, and tired of struggling to make ends meet, are you coming out to vote for the candidate that represents you and your best interest? Republicans continue to deny workers a living wage, healthcare and a safe working environment. Did you know that most Congressional members are millionaires? How can the GOP choose to deny an increase in the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour for average Americans?

When did America become an oligarchy or plutocracy, rather than a democratic republic? When did what Citizen’s United, the Koch Brothers and the NRA want mean more to Congress than what their constituents who voted them into office want? Maybe it’s time to vote these opportunists and obstructionist out, and vote for candidates who care about rebuilding the middle class, generating jobs and creating a prosperous, healthy country.

When did a majority mean that one person, like John Boehner or Ted Cruz could completely stop our government from functioning, even though the majority of Congress and the American people want them to work together and get things done? Why does it now take 60 votes for a majority in the Senate rather than 51?

Americans should stop accepting the status quo and begin to demand answers to these questions. They should come out this November and vote for candidates that represent their values and their best interest. The far right extremists are well organized and will turn out the vote…the good news is they are a minority. If Democrats, Independents and moderate Republicans vote in 2014, we can win and start making a difference!

* http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/06/06/1304959/-Obamacare-a-job-killer-No?detail=email#

Never mind what the Constitution says; our prison system has run amuck

June 25th, 2014

gavel1afflThe practice of charging fines and billing fees to defendants dates back to the 1970s. The number of people behind bars has increased 700% by 2010. In the last 30+ years, prisons and courtrooms have become more crowded and the cost of running them has skyrocketed from $6 billion to more than $67 billion a year.

Taxpayers are paying thousands of dollars to send people to prisons when the fines are less than the cost of incarceration. Some counties even brag about the amount of money raised from fines, but they are using false math. What they are spending on jailing prisoners, who shouldn’t be incarcerated, is costing all of us. When the fees of the poor are one of the state’s top revenue producers, there is something wrong.

These practices along with the privatization of prisons create the business model that the more people convicted and housed in for-profit facilities, the more money that can be made.

In 1966, the U.S. Supreme Court decided the historic case of Miranda v. Arizona, declaring that whenever a person is taken into police custody, before being questioned he or she must be told of the Fifth Amendment right not to make any self-incriminating statements. The Miranda warning, which is used by police when arresting someone states:

“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to speak to an attorney and to have an attorney present during any questioning. If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be provided for you at government expense.”[1]

NPR found that defendants today are charged for many government services in more than 80% of our state prisons, some of which are guaranteed rights by our Constitution:
• 43 states and DC billed defendants for the public defender
• 41 states can charge prisoners for room and board
• 44 states can bill prisoners for their probation and parole supervision
• 49 states charge a fee for the electronic monitoring devices that some defendants are ordered to wear.[2]

The Gideon v Wainwright decision of 1963 mandated state courts to provide counsel for criminal defendants who could not afford it. Debtor’s prisons were abolished in the United States in the early 1800s and the Supreme Court has ruled it is unconstitutional to jail someone for failing to pay a debt.[3]

In 1981 Danny Bearden broke into a trailer and was sentenced to two years in prison…not for the crime, but because he couldn’t pay the $750 fine. The U.S. Supreme Court, in Bearden v Georgia, said you can’t jail someone because they are too poor to pay their fine.[4]

In 1991, 25% of inmates said they owed court-imposed costs, restitution, fines and fees. By 2004, that number had climbed to 66% according to the Justice Department. The Brennan Center found that of the 15 states with the largest number of prisoners, 13 of them charge fees for using public defenders. [5] Why are these Supreme Court rulings not being enforced?

Today, some states are waiving fees for indigent defendants, while others are offering to set up payment plans that include extra fees, penalties and interest. This cycle insures that many will never get the debt paid back as their fines continue to grow because of the interest and penalties that are attached.

Justice, in our present penal system, is illusive. If an impoverished person is late on a payment, the harsh reality is that in some states he can lose his driver’s license or food stamps, keeping him from seeking gainful employment or eating.

Many states also block ex-offenders from receiving the right to vote again until all fees are paid — making the fee effectively a poll tax.

While the poor are imprisoned, the rich are often set free. A judge in Texas recently ordered that Ethan Couch — who drove drunk, crashed, and killed four people, go to a lock-down residential treatment facility. His explanation was that Couch was a victim of “affluenza” — the product of wealthy, privileged parents who never set limits for the boy. In our upside down justice system, even though four people were killed and two were injured, the driver was proclaimed the victim.[6]

Not only is our present system unjust, but it is also costly. A 2010 Annual Report filed with the SEC, and the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) stated: “The demand for our facilities and services could be adversely affected by . . . leniency in conviction or parole standards and sentencing practices . . .”[7]

The guilty need to be punished, but the focus should be on rehabilitation, not generating massive profits. The guilty should not go free because they are indigent, but neither should the innocent suffer because they are poor.

[1]http://criminal.findlaw.com/criminal-rights/miranda-rights-and-the-fifth-amendment.html

[2]http://www.npr.org/2014/05/19/312158516/increasing-court-fees-punish-the-poor

[3]http://www.uscourts.gov/educational-resources/get-involved/constitution-activities/sixth-amendment/right-counsel/facts-case-summary-gideon.aspx

[4]http://www.npr.org/2014/05/21/313118629/supreme-court-ruling-not-enough-to-prevent-debtors-prisons

[5]https://www.google.com/#q=The+Brennan+Center+found+that+of+the+15+states+

[6]http://dallasmorningviewsblog.dallasnews.com/2014/04/new-ethan-couch-outrage-you-pay-far-more-than-his-parents.html/

[7]https://www.aclu.org/prisoners-rights/private-prisons

Why I’m no longer a Republican

June 13th, 2014

donkeyandelephant

In 1988 when I voted for George H. W. Bush for president, there was nothing unusual about it. From the time I turned 21, I had always voted Republican. But, after he broke his promise not to raise taxes and the country was in the midst of a recession, I reconsidered my position in 1992.

As Bush floundered, the brilliant and charismatic campaign and message of William Jefferson Clinton hit the scene and I voted for my first Democrat.

During the next eight years, I watched how President Clinton oversaw the longest peacetime economic expansion in our history; how the nation enjoyed the lowest unemployment rate in decades; how the home ownership rate grew to the highest it’s ever been in the country’s history; how he improved economic equality that led to a strong economy and a surplus federal budget. Though his tenure was plagued with scandals and impeachment, it is important to remember, he was acquitted of all charges.

In 1996, I still didn’t consider myself a Democrat, even though I voted to reelect Clinton. I was an Independent who voted for the best person. But, when the Republican Party nominated George W. Bush in 2000…I began to think of myself as a Democrat.

Living in Texas, I saw Bush’s policies and ignorance first hand. I could foresee many problems the country would face if he was elected and, unfortunately, he didn’t prove me wrong. Against strong counsel from his own financial advisors, he cut taxes while starting two wars; something no other president had ever done. These decisions began the immeasurable damage to our country that would take decades to recover from.

He took a substantial surplus, and turned it into a huge deficit; he changed America’s standing in the world, by trying to force his views on other cultures; he chose to invade Iraq first, rather than Afghanistan, allowing Osama bin Laden to continue his reign of terrorism for years; he destabilized the Middle East which led to more insurgents. Bush and Cheney did not listen to Americans or our Allies and millions of lives were lost.

As the neocons continually promote just one more war to spread democracy, I believe we should fix America’s democracy first before we try to change the cultures of other countries to mirror our own.

Near the end of Bush’s disastrous two-term Presidency, it was an easy decision for me to vote for Obama over McCain. But, it was the creation of the Tea Party facet of the Republican Party in 2010 that turned me into a loyal Democrat, rather than an Independent. I don’t feel I abandoned the Republican Party but, I do feel the Republican Party abandoned me. Their emerging views on government, religion, women’s rights, workers’ rights, income inequality, violence against women, equal pay for women, minorities’ voting rights, made me move away from these radical ideologues as quickly as possible.

In 2014, the Republican Party is now split between the old GOP idealists and the new GOP obstructionists; between those who know their message is losing voters and want to change it and, those who would rather suppress and buy the vote, than change the message. The GOP no longer stands for Grand Old Party, but for Greedy Old Plutocrats.

Democrats must rally their base. There are many smart and educated Republicans who believe their Party’s lies, support their Party’s positions and who will come out to vote Republican at any cost. In America that is their prerogative. But, it is up to the rest of us to make sure these extremists are defeated in 2014, in 2016 and beyond. It is critical to this country’s future, maybe more than any other election in our history that you vote in November. Choosing not to vote because you think your vote doesn’t matter is just plain wrong. I worry that if people do not stand up for what they believe in, and vote, then our future right to vote may vanish.

I support the Democratic message because I’m for job creation, rather than obstructionism. I support healthcare for all, rather than repealing the ACA with no alternative plan. I think we should keep the safety net for those who need it and have paid into it all their lives. I support Social Security, and believe the system could be solvent for years if the income cap was removed and people paid into the system for every pay check they received. And unlike many Republican Governors, I also support Medicaid expansion which saves lives, adds billions in federal funds, and creates jobs.

I’m for keeping America safe and strong, but not for sending Americans into harm’s way when it isn’t necessary. I’m for helping veterans when they return from serving our country, rather than cutting their benefits. I’m for lowering Congressional pay and perks, so that elected officials’ jobs aren’t about becoming millionaires, but rather are about their responsibility to serve their constituents and their country.

I believe in food stamps for the hungry, but not subsidies to big agricultural firms. I believe in healthy school lunches for our children, but not Republican supported junk food lobbyists. I believe in putting people to work rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure and bridges, rather than blocking the vote on job development, and asking “where are the jobs?” I believe in energy independence, but not at a cost to our society and way of life. I believe we should do something about man-made climate change, not deny it exists. I believe we should leave America, and the planet, a better place for my kids and my grandkids, rather than a worse place.

I’m for easy to vote elections, rather than designing restrictions that make it harder for minorities, the poor and the elderly to vote. I’m for term limits for all elected officials, rather than lifetime politicians. In other words, I’m for democracy…a democracy that is quickly diminishing under the current Republican leadership.

The BLACK Man in the WHITE House: Racism is alive and well in America

May 6th, 2014

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 ended segregation in public places and banned employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin. While this law was created to protect voter’s rights and eliminate segregation in schools, restaurants and workplaces, the reality is that 50 years later Americans are still battling with these issues.

While many say racism is over and point to the fact that America has its first black president, Barack Obama’s election actually ignited racial tension in the country, rather than ending it. As a result white supremacists, hate crimes and internet sites like Stormfront have grown exponentially.

These extremist organizations are fueled by an increased fear of nonwhites’ power in government and the rising number of immigrants that are taking over “their” America. Racists choose to disregard the laws of this country in favor of their own warped ideology.

In the last couple of weeks, Cliven Bundy, Donald Sterling and Paul Ryan made racial comments that went viral, and dominated numerous hours of media coverage. Many Republicans stood up for Bundy prior to his racial comments, even though he was convicted of owing the federal government $1 million and refused to pay it. The NBA took unprecedented action against Sterling. And Paul Ryan defended his statements by saying, “I’m not a racist. I was inarticulate.”

Sport franchises, corporation executives and politicians are riddled with racists of varying degrees. Most just have the common sense to avoid public pronouncements of their views, but that doesn’t mean racism doesn’t exist.

Playing into the racial frenzy that is sweeping our country are Republican governors like Scott Walker, Rick Perry and Rick Scott. All are hoping to suppress minorities’ voting rights in their states in order to pass legislation that most Americans, especially minorities, don’t support. After all, if only whites could vote, things would be very different.

With this mindset, many Republican Congressional representatives want to roll back the clock to the good ol’ days of the fifties and sixties. The Supreme Court is aiding in this mounting discrimination with their recent decision to gut portions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. This action to quash the Act, which was passed in response to Jim Crow laws is offensive to anyone’s sense of fairness and justice for all.

Like the poll taxes and literacy tests of a bygone era, state issued IDs and voter-roll purges, coupled with reduced voting hours are all intended to keep minorities from exercising their constitutional right to vote.

In addition to voting rights, our courts and penal system discriminate against minorities. Young African American men are arrested four times as often as white men for carrying the same amount of marijuana, which is still illegal in most states. These arrests for minor crimes lead many black teenagers to follow unlawful pursuits rather than paths they may have taken without the scar of the arrest on their record.

Also in question is the fairness of our judicial process. Two recent judgments handed down by predominantly white juries emphasize this unfairness.

These Florida verdicts vindicated white men who killed African American teenagers. George Zimmerman’s “not guilty” verdict for the murder of Trayvon Martin was considered by many to have a racially influenced outcome. In another case that had racial overtones, a jury was deadlocked on whether Michael Dunn, a white man, was guilty of murder for shooting to death a black teenager over loud music. I wonder if the races of the victim and accused had been switched, if the judgments would have been different. Actually, I really don’t wonder; unfortunately I know the answer

Education is seen as one way to lower the number of incarcerated black men and help minorities become productive, tax-paying members of society. Yet, the Supreme Court stepped in and put up a road block making it harder to accomplish this goal.

In an April 2014 decision, the Supreme Court upheld a Michigan constitutional amendment that bans affirmative action as part of the admission process in the state’s public universities. Seven other states currently have the same sanctions. States that forbid affirmative action in higher education, like Florida and California, have seen a significant drop in the enrollment of black and Hispanic students in many of their top colleges and universities.

Americans need to take notice of what is happening and not support the rebels that include many Republican elected officials. The diversity, which made our country great, needs to be seen in the leadership of America, as well as its average citizen. Racism is a communal problem and needs everyone working together to make life better, not for just a few, but for all.
The question of how to achieve less racism and more acceptances is complex and has no clear black and white answer.

War…The Cry of the Republicans

April 29th, 2014

elephantWhether it is Iraq, women, the poor, the elderly, college students, healthcare, Medicare, Social Security, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), public education, the post office, hardworking Americans or voters…Republicans are shouting for war. Unlike our forefathers, they are not fighting for democracy and equal rights, but rather for a plutocracy.

Four decades after Roe v Wade was decided, the Republicans continue to argue against women’s rights to control their own bodies. The party advocates against women having abortions under any circumstance, but don’t want to provide any assistance to help raise the children. They want to disallow coverage of birth control by insurance companies under the ACA, while allowing them to cover the cost of Viagra.

In addition, Republican governors in 20 states refused billions of dollars from the federal government, preventing millions of eligible people from receiving healthcare, while Congress and state officials enjoy premium healthcare benefits at taxpayers’ expense.

On another front, they fight to defeat any jobs bills that would help lower unemployment, but vote against extending unemployment benefits, school lunch programs and food stamps leaving the hungry without basic nutritional needs.

Republicans are constantly talking about the “takers” and the “makers” by pointing to people on Social Security and Medicare (both of which were paid into by recipients). In reality, congressional members are the “takers”…not the elderly, disabled, veterans or hardworking Americans. With salaries beginning at $174,000, this Congress chooses vacations over work. Even when in session, they spend taxpayer dollars trying to repeal the ACA more than 50 times, rename 60 post offices, and look for nonexistent scandals.

They continue to attack the basic right of everyone to vote. Rather than helping insure this right, they are passing state laws aimed at discriminating against students, the elderly, the poor, women and minorities. Republican state legislators’ have slashed the number of early voting days and hours creating reductions that include nights and weekends. The reduced time directly affects working class Americans and infringes on their ability to vote. In addition, many are requiring special photo IDs to combat nonexistent fraud. This law is the real voter fraud, and is being challenged in court as unconstitutional.

The Republican war on minorities, especially African American males, is evidenced in our prison system. After privatizing a number of the prisons, the population of minorities incarcerated for minor crimes has skyrocketed. Increases in prisoners multiplied by the tax dollars given per inmate equals a substantial profit for those people who invested in the prison system. Privatization of our jails is not aimed at justice or rehabilitation, but revenue.

In addition to the jails, the Republicans are trying to bankrupt the U.S. Postal Service, which was a standalone, profitable government entity, by taking unprecedented funds from it. They want to privatize it so that postal rates and delivery are no longer for the people, but by and for the greedy.

The education budget is another combat zone. From Pell Grants to research and development dollars, Republicans think appropriating some of the allocated money to for-profit charter schools, that can hand-pick the students they want, is how taxpayer money should be spent.

As they wage war to cut spending, the cutbacks disproportionately affect the poor, middle class and small businesses, while giving enormous tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans and big corporations. The Ryan Budgets of 2012, 2013 and 2014 trim only from safety net programs, but provide large funds for oil and gas subsidies, farm subsidies to the biggest agricultural corporations and insane amounts of money for defense. They continue the battle cry for war…in Syria, Iran, Ukraine…who knows what land will be next.

Republicans continue to diminish our rights and ensure that average Americans’ freedoms aren’t there. When you stand up and sing The Star Spangled Banner words, “Oh, say does that star-spangle banner yet wave, O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?” The answer is no, it doesn’t. It waves over the land of the impoverished and the home of the wealthy.

Why do people vote against their own best interest?

April 22nd, 2014

vote2This question has stymied political strategists and pundits for a long time. As an expert in the women’s market, I too am baffled by the way people, especially women, vote against those who share their ideals and values in lieu of voting for those who don’t.

I have frequently been asked and often pondered the question: “Why would a woman vote Republican when they clearly have a war on women?” I wish I had a great answer for this. Perhaps they have always voted Republican, and thus continue down this path. Perhaps they are wealthy and the tax breaks the Republicans fight for, that primarily benefit the rich, is the most important reason. Perhaps they believe the falsehoods and phony rhetoric of the Republican Party. Whatever the reason, I find it truly disturbing.

Both women and men should vote for elected officials whose actions show that they have the best interests of the citizens and country in mind, but for some reason, they don’t.

While I acknowledge that many Republican women are pro-life, offering choice, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach, just makes good sense. I’m not advocating abortion; I am saying that I should have the choice to decide what is best for me and my family.

Equally troubling is why Republican women support a party who barely passed the Violence Against Women Act, who don’t support legislation to guarantee that a women receives equal pay for equal work, and who think women’s bosses should have the right to determine her health care and reproductive decisions.

As Republican governors refuse to accept billions of dollars in free federal money to expand Medicaid, hundreds of thousands of people are going without medical care and are dying needlessly. As the GOP continues to cut billions from food stamps, many women and children are going hungry.

Men are also hurt by the policies of the Republican Party. Many men support the party because they are pro-gun, but Republicans also vote to keep the minimum wage at poverty levels and are against extending unemployment benefits. These policies hurt the working class.

Republicans want to reduce government spending and control, but I wonder if the populace realizes that many solidly red states that they live in receive a huge percentage of their income from the federal government? In actuality, the amount many red states pay in federal taxes is small compared to the amount they receive back from the government.

Do they think about how the government spends this money building the roads they drive on daily, or providing funds for the fire department that comes to their home if there is an emergency? When a natural disaster strikes them, do they accept F.E.M.A’s help? These and many more necessities are government-funded programs.

To cut spending on these and other projects as the Republicans suggest, would greatly impact both the men and women in these states in a very destructive way. It reminds me of the old saying, “cutting off your nose to spite your face.” It makes no sense.

In reality, the Republicans don’t want to cut spending, just redistribute it from the poor and middle class to the wealthy. The Republican budget once again gives massive tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans, while it cuts programs and safety nets that help many of the people who vote Republican. I don’t understand why people vote against their own best interests, especially when it hurts their family, the economy and the principles on which America was founded.

I respect the two-party system and believe it is healthy for a democracy to have differences that exist in many areas of fiscal and social governance. But the right-wing fringe has hijacked the sanity of the Republican Party, and the GOP needs to get back on track. Gerrymandering, suppressing the vote, allowing unrestricted funds and unlimited terms have led to undemocratic practices which will destroy America if voters don’t stand up and fight for what is right.

Citizens, whether Republicans, Democrats or Independents, all have much to gain by voting for politicians who are interested in the good of the country: working together, listening to each other, and compromising. If they continue to choose representatives who do not support our fragile Democratic Process, citizens will soon have more reasons to fear Washington D.C. than foreign terrorists.
Follow Gerry Myers on Twitter: www.twitter.com/glmyers  or at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/gerry-myers/voting-against-own-best-interests_b_5185414.html