Texas, The Sequel: The State That Continues to Provide the National News and Late Night TV Plenty of Material

June 29th, 2015

Between March and June, 2015, making national news seemed to be a frequent occurrence for Texas as Austin, Garland, Waco, Overton, and texas1McKinney experienced unprecedented media coverage. Meanwhile, as the Tea Party conservatives maintained control of the legislature, Texas also gained notoriety in many other areas.

The Texas Tea Party has a history of avoiding issues…Texas ranks first in the amount of executions, first in the amount of uninsured citizens, first in the amount of toxic chemicals released into water, and first in the amount of hazardous waste generated. On the other hand, they ranked last in mental health expenditures, last in the percent of students who reach graduation, and last in worker compensation coverage. In addition, they are in the bottom five for tax expenditures that directly benefit their citizens, the number of poor people covered by Medicaid, and the number of people included in employer-based healthcare. (Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, November 17, 2012)

The city of Austin recently had a training mission to teach staff members how they should work alongside a female majority on the council. The training included the following statement: “Women don’t care about the math, they don’t read the briefings, they’ll drown you in questions.” Austin’s female council members, rightly shocked and outraged, blasted the briefing for being ignorant, archaic, and offensive. (DMN, 3/16/15, p 24A Hit and Misses Nitwits on parade) In the city’s defense, its spokesman said those ideas from the visiting consultant were “timely and relevant”. Really?

As the media continues to focus on mass shootings and the mounting number of gun deaths, Texas legislators continue to make it easier to carry guns everywhere—grocery stores, college campuses, and on city streets. On May 2, two gunmen opened fire at the Culwell Event Center in North Garland at the “Muhammad Art Exhibit and Cartoon Contest” featuring controversial cartoons of the Muslim Prophet Mohammed. The shooting occurred as the event was concluding, Garland police spokesman Joe Harn said. The two gunmen were killed, but the incident thrust Texas into the national spotlight again. (CNN News, May 4, 2015)

Two weeks later, the horrific May 17 shooting in Waco between the police and two motorcycle gangs, the Bandidos and the Cossacks, left at least nine people dead and 18 hospitalized. Three weeks later, the Waco police, who had arrested 177 bikers following the deadly shootout, still had filed no charges in the killings. Nearly half the bikers remained in jail on unusually high bonds, and more than a few legal experts — including former prosecutors — are wondering what is going on in McLennan County? (Texas Tribune, June 10, 2015)

Following the deadly incident in Waco, the police in Overton, Texas continued the media frenzy but, this time by shutting down a lemonade stand run by two little girls, ages 7 and 8. Andria and Zoey Green were trying to raise $100 for a Father’s Day present. They had been selling lemonade and kettle corn for an hour – and made about $25 – when officers showed up and told them they need a $150 permit to sell their lemonade.

“It is a lemonade stand, but they also have a permit that they are required to get,” Overton Police Chief Clyde Carter said, “as well as to be approved by the Health Inspector.”

The sisters, smart entrepreneurs even at an early age, decided to reopen the stand. Instead of selling their lemonade, they chose to give it away for free and accept donations. They made about $1,000. (ABC Eyewitness News, KTRK, June 11, 2015) I hope these youngsters stay in Texas and inspire our state politicians to adopt some commonsense approaches to problem solving.

In early June, Eric Casebolt resigned from his post as a corporal for the Police Department in McKinney, Texas days after a video went viral online showing him yanking a 14-year-old bikini-clad girl to the ground and kneeling on her back. Prior to the police intervention, white residents began to harass the swimmers. When one woman told the teens to “go back to Section 8 housing,” a fight broke out. The black girl, who was assaulted by the policeman, was invited to the pool party by one of the residents at the complex.

While the media prefers to report on heinous vs heroics, thousands of officers perform good deeds without much recognition. Even though the good deeds don’t often make the national news, it important to notice, remember, and praise the men and women who serve our communities. Below are just a few of their heroic deeds that were in print, but were hard to find, and didn’t receive much national press…

In the freezing temperatures of January, Odessa Police Corporal Jeremy Walsh was seen kneeling next to the homeless man and giving him a pair of boots and a bottle of water. (Yahoo News, January 21, 2014)

In February, Plano Police Chief Rushin was on his way home from a speaking engagement when he saw three young ladies walking along the shoulder of State Highway 75. Their vehicle had run out of gas. He drove the women to a gas station so they could purchase gas, and then transported them safely back to their car. (CBS/DFW February 5, 2014)

On April 19, Mesquite police officers Ryan Nielson and Autumn Soto pulled a man from a burning car moments before it was engulfed in flames. (The Independent, June 18, 2015)

Just as citizens should respect the job done by most police officers, the Texas legislators need to respect the laws of our land, and welcome same sex marriage and the Affordable Care Act as part of Texas’ future. Instead of taking the opportunity to reinforce and unite our country, Governor Abbott chose to divide us by stating Texas won’t comply with these new Supreme Court rulings.

Texas needs to join the 21st century and envision a path forward that will enhance our image, both with the citizens and the media, rather than diminish and tarnish it.

Texas, Our Texas: Will Republicans Continue to Make Things Even Worse?

June 12th, 2015

texas1There are many competitions in our society, in our country, and in our world. Children, adults, colleges, corporations, etc. are constantly striving to be ranked at the top. States even compete so they are ranked high for things like the best place to work, raise a family, and live. So why does Texas, and the Texas Republican Party, strive to be last? Following are just a few of the decisions, laws, and actions contributing to the race to the bottom in the country:

Environmentally, no other state has deregulated dams like Texas, said Lori Spragens, executive director at the National Association of Dam Safety Officials. The law “just doesn’t make any sense from a safety standpoint,” she said. Spragens was referring to the fact that Texas stopped inspecting 44% of the dams in the state, following passage last year of a state law that exempted most privately owned dams from safety requirements by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Texas gave permission for unsafe environmental measures to go unchecked (Wall Street Journal, July 9, 2014).

In education, Texas ranks last among the 50 states in the percentage of high school graduates. Rather than working to improve their status, Texas chose to cut billions from education funding and lower standards for students to graduate.

Texas is not always at the bottom. It is in first place with the highest proportion of people without health insurance, and we are also number one in releasing the most carbon dioxide and hazardous waste of any state.

Texas ranks number one again, having more gun dealers — about 8,500 — than any other state, according to statistics kept by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. (USA TODAY, February 18, 2013)

Texas Republicans without a doubt are pro-life, but are they really concerned with a person’s life itself or just a person’s life before it is born? The state’s lax gun laws, which have no required state registration of firearms, no waiting period, no limits on type or number of guns, make Texas a prolific source of guns for criminals and the ire of national gun-control advocates, according to John Rosenthal, co-founder of the Newton, Mass.-based Stop Handgun Violence.

If Texas Republicans are pro-life, why was the Republican state legislature passing legislation allowing guns on college campuses, rather than helping people through the recent floods that took their homes, their businesses, and their lives?

In 2014, Texas, with the blessing of the Supreme Court, passed one of the most restrictive voter ID laws in the country. Texas voters were required to present one of seven forms of identification to vote. Student IDs at state-run universities were not included on the list of acceptable forms of identification but, concealed handgun licenses were. The Justice Department said more than 600,000 mostly blacks, Hispanics, the elderly and the poor, currently lack any of the eligible IDs to vote.  A federal judge compared the Texas’ tough voter ID rules to a poll tax meant to suppress minority voters and he blocked Texas from enforcing it just prior to the midterm election. (DMN, October 9, 2014)

Texas lawmakers believe they are beyond having to follow the Constitution and laws of the land. They have proclaimed that if the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples have a Constitutional right to marry in all 50 states, they will just disregard it. Additionally, on May 11 the Senate gave tentative approval to protect pastors who want to refuse to perform a same sex marriage.

According to Planned Parenthood, abortion restrictions clearly violate Texas women’s Constitutional rights and drastically reduce access to safe and legal abortion statewide. On October 3, 2014, the second round of HB2 restrictions took effect, leaving only 8 of the original 36 clinics in Texas. The only cities that still had clinics after this constricting legislation are Austin, San Antonio, Dallas, Ft. Worth, and Houston. (Fund Texas Choice, 10/14/14) With so few clinics now available, Texas is depriving improvised women who have to travel long distances for access to a clinic, great emotional, physical and financial hardships.

How do Republicans justify being for smaller government? How can Republicans claim they care what citizens’ want when they override local laws? Denton County citizens banned fracking in their own backyard, yet Governor Greg Abbott’s legislature banned the ban.

Governor Abbott asked the State National Guard to track Jade Helm 15 this summer, which is a scheduled military teaching program, calling the maneuvers a Conspiracy Theory of Obama to enforce a martial law takeover of Texas.

Jon Stewart, comics, and newscasters all mocked Abbott’s fiasco. Bill Maher was clear on his Real Time show. “Have you heard of Jade Helm 15?” Bill Maher asked. “It is actually a code name for a routine training exercise the U.S. military is planning to conduct in the Southwest which the tea baggers in Texas are convinced is actually an Obama plot to invade Texas, take their guns, and impose a new world order. Yes, because we hate Lubbock for its freedom.”

Texas Senator Ted Cruz actually called the Pentagon just to make sure that wasn’t the case. Cruz, who is now running for president, made his announcement at Liberty University, an evangelical school founded by Jerry Falwell — disregarding the Constitutional idea of separation of church and state.

I think citizens should ask: “When is Texas going to elect competent leaders and visionaries with ideas and solutions to today’s challenges that include climate change, education, and healthcare?”

Money…Money…Money

June 12th, 2015

   money5                              The three issues I want to address in this blog are:

  1. Campaign finance reform
  2. Taxes
  3. Income inequality

There is an old saying, “Money is the root of all evil.” While money may not cause evil in all circumstances, it certainly can sway some people toward the path of corruption and bad behavior.

Citizens United is a perfect example. This organization, along with our current campaign finance laws, detours our Legislators away from their constituents, their challenges, and their needs, in order to cater to big donors. The Legislators no longer use their time to legislate nor develop independent ideas. Instead they use their time to raise funds and listen to ideas from big lobbyists representing the oil and gas industry, the NRA, the food industries, and more.

While both Republican and Democrat are responsible for harboring laws that encourage this behavior, the Republican budget and platform contribute more to today’s fiscal problems: millions of kids going hungry, roads crumbling, and a failing educational system.

Billions of dollars are spent each election cycle. These same dollars could feed, educate, and change welfare recipients into taxpayers. If the country would pass a campaign reform amendment to the constitution that provided a reasonable and limited amount to each candidate, then candidates could use their “solicitation” time for actual governing.

Closing tax loopholes would be the next step. When hedge fund managers pay less in taxes than their secretaries, then the system is flawed. If everyone, including corporations, would pay their fair share in taxes, there would be adequate resources for needed government work, social drivers, safety net programs, and innovation. America could fund needed infrastructure, educational needs, and reduce income inequality. The American people must also demand that American companies keep their money in America rather than in foreign tax havens. These changes alone would provide the necessary funds to move this country forward as well as pay down the debt.

Why do Republicans believe that our tax dollars should subsidize large profitable corporations that do not need government assistance, rather than the poor? What I don’t understand is why these billionaires don’t feel a patriotic duty to support the country that has given them so much. Why don’t they see that if you help the less fortunate, everyone wins, not just a few? Why do they resent helping others achieve the American dream?

Currently, the American dream is unattainable for most.  The reason why the dream cannot be reached is explained by the refusal to vote on a minimum wage increase.  If the minimum wage was raised to $10.10 now and $15 in a few years, the economy would grow dramatically. When wages are increased and jobs are created, millions can become productive citizens.

money4Income inequality has turned America from being a democratic republic to a plutocracy. Under this system, the wealthiest of the wealthy control everything from elections to education to the work environment.  The greed of the Wall Street bankers collapsed the economy in 2008. Yet, only one mid-level manager went to prison. Now in 2015, not much has changed. Republicans believe no regulations should be imposed on the free market regardless of the looming risks.

Unfortunately, government regulations are necessary. Prior to, and since the collapse, industries have proven they are incapable of policing themselves. When Republicans talk about green energy, they aren’t talking about the environment, but rather an unregulated banking and corporate system allowed to run amuck. This system is very profitable for a few, but leaves others living paycheck to paycheck.

Currently, the Obama administration has more than five years of job growth, in spite of Republican opposition. Millions more could be put to work fixing our crumbling infrastructure, pursuing renewable energy research, and bringing manufacturing back to America from cheap labor and tax haven countries if there were more support in Congress.

For most Americans, in order for our country to once again thrive, we must get big money out of politics, tax everyone fairly, close the wage gap, and create more good paying jobs.

 

 

Scary Stupid Senators’ Stunts

June 12th, 2015

vote2Republicans seem to act first, and think second; or not at all. They fail to look at the consequences of their actions. The most recent example of this behavior occurred when Sen. Tom Cotton, and his 60 days of experience, penned a letter that was signed by 47 senators and sent to our adversarial foreign leader. Unfortunately, in addition to that debacle, there have been many other times Republicans have  demonstrated lack of thought, foresight and loyalty to our country…when they shut down the government, started a war in the Middle East, cut taxes causing a huge deficit, rejected healthcare to millions, refused to raise the minimum wage, to name a few.

Scary, stupid stunts are one thing, but undermining our democratically elected president during sensitive negotiations with Iran leaders is dangerous. Did these 47 Republican senators know that the deal involved several other countries — world powers and allies of the U.S. including China, Russia, France, UK, and Germany?

Did the 47 Republican senators who signed the letter, many of whom have now said they regret signing it, even think about what they were doing?

John McCain, when faced with unforeseen criticism, said the senators should have discussed it more instead of hurrying to get out of town before the snow storm. Does this sound like a leader?

Rand Paul told Matt Lauer on the “Today” show, he did it to strengthen Obama’s hand. Do we need to explain the difference between strengthen and weaken to him?

It should be noted that seven GOP senators refused to sign the letter: Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Jeff Flake (Ariz.), Daniel Coats (Ind.), Susan Collins (Maine), Thad Cochran (Miss.), Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), and Bob Corker (Tenn.).

It is sad. Republicans had such a great opportunity to show leadership when they took over both Houses of Congress but, instead they are proving that they can’t…not Mitch McConnell, not John Boehner, and not 47 Republican senators.

After taking over the leadership of the Senate, Mitch McConnell focused on his new power and control. He said now that he controlled the Senate, “America will see how the Republicans can govern”. Unfortunately the examples below prove otherwise…

When the bill came to the floor to combat trafficking of girls and women, Republicans could have passed a clean bipartisan bill. Instead they added controversial abortion provisions that have delayed its passage.

John Boehner, rather than leading, invited Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to speak before Congress against the President’s Iran deal. How can “leaders” like Boehner preach democracy while, clearly ignoring our Democratic policies and practices?

Another “leader”, Paul Ryan, continues to present unacceptable budgets to the House each year. His budget ideas would gravely hurt the middle class, the elderly, the disabled, veterans, Social Security, and Medicare/Medicaid. His budget would strip many necessary government services and increase the deficit by giving tax cuts to the wealthiest.

The House Oversight Committee is investigating Hillary Clinton’s email methods. Both Republican Secretaries of State Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice handled their email accounts in a similar fashion and in compliance with the law. Do we need to include them in the investigation?

Even though everyone agrees Loretta Lynch is highly qualified for the position, the Republican-controlled Senate refuses to vote on Obama’s nomination for Attorney General.  Loretta Lynch would be the first African American woman to hold that position.

Republican Senator Ted Cruz singlehandedly shut down the federal government costing taxpayers $24 billion dollars. Like his fellow Republicans, Cruz rather than “leading” stood on the Senate floor and actually read Green Eggs and Ham. And, just one day after announcing his bid for president and calling Obamacare the biggest train wreck in the country, he signs up for it for himself and his family. As he gets reasonable healthcare from the ACA, he continues to deny it to millions in his home state of Texas.

Democrats need to find their voice. In 2016 there are 198 Democratic seats in the Senate and House that will be up for election. Candidates and officials running for reelection should sing from the rooftops boasting of all the accomplishments over the last six years—the growing economy, the shrinking deficit, the millions who have healthcare, the soaring stock market, etc. But voters must also do their part and go to the polls.

What I Hate…

June 12th, 2015

menandwomen3I hate Republican congressional climate deniers who pick up snowballs in March to prove there is no such thing as climate change or global warming.

Solution: Political parties and voters should look for candidates who are smart, who can read, who have an open mind, and who listen to scientists and other experts.

I hate that Congressional leaders who make more than $170,000 a year are refusing to give hard working Americans the minimum wage raise they deserve.

Solution: Vote to increase the $7.25 an hour to at least $10.10.

I hate that income inequality is growing and Congress is pushing it forward rather than fixing it.

Solution: Make corporations and millionaires pay their fair share of taxes and increase the minimum wage.

I hate that banks and bank officials who caused our economy to collapse were never prosecuted and now are doing many of the same risky things that caused our previous problems.

Solution: Strengthen, rather than weaken, Dodd Frank and other legislation that regulate banks. Prosecute all offenders.

I hate that Republicans refuse to pass an infrastructure bill therefore, subjecting Americans to dangerous road conditions, potholes, faulty bridges, etc.

Solution: Raise the gas tax to keep the Highway Trust Fund solvent.  Then pass an infrastructure bill.

I hate that the Supreme Court is no longer a constitutional entity, but rather a bias body with conservative ideologues who think their view on an issue is more important than the law or what is good for the country.

Solution: Supreme Court Justices should have term limits that are not renewable so there is a chance for fresh ideas.

I hate that money is able to buy our elections and end our democratic process.

Solution: Reverse the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.

I hate that in 2014 only 36 percent of those eligible to vote did…the lowest turnout since WWII.

Solution: Exercise your right to vote. Teach your children the importance of this sacred right. Encourage your friends and neighbors to participate in our democratic process.

I hate that people died in Selma 50 years ago to have the right to vote, and today that right is being threatened again.

Solution: Get rid of voter ID laws, increase early voting days, and making voter registration easier so that every American can vote.

I hate that in 2015 racial tensions are still high, voter suppression still strong, and Republican governors are passing laws that are encouraging this rather than punishing it.

Solution: Hold the guilty liable. The DOJ needs to take legal action more aggressively and prosecute offenders.

I hate that we have “for profit prisons” that are more interested in filling beds than justice.

Solution: The government needs to take the prison system back from private companies. Then form citizen oversight committees to monitor behavior.

I hate that a few bad police are tainting the good ones who risk their lives daily to serve their community.

Solution: Media needs to show positive police stories, not just uncaring ones.

I hate that news journalists aren’t reporting only facts, but rather their opinions.

Solution: Make the news media more independent of big corporations and their interests. Save opinions for commentaries, political pundit shows, and other such programs.

I hate that some people think same-sex marriage should be unlawful.

Solution: None. Intolerant people can’t be taught or reasoned with.

I hate warmongers who send others people kids to war, but don’t want their own to go.

Solution: If we go to war again, implement the draft so that everyone is involved in the process, not just a few.

I hate that those that have government paid healthcare, such as Congress, don’t want others to have it.

Solution: Expand Medicaid and the ACA, rather than repealing it.

I hate that women’s healthcare is under attack again. Women should have the right to make their own medical decisions.

Solution: Republican men need to realize it is not their bodies or their business. Women must vote these dinosaurs out of office and replace them with 21st thinking legislators.

I hate that the oversight committee in Congress continues to waste taxpayer time and money in their phony witch hunts of Democrats.

Solution: Voters need to hold their representative accountable for doing their job and stop manufacturing faux crises. Call or write your congressperson every time you disagree with what they are doing.

I hate that many in Congress talk about creating jobs, but in actuality are blocking job creation.

Solution: Pass a jobs bill that includes more than the Keystone Pipeline or cutting taxes on millionaires.

I hate that this Congress funds things for only weeks or months, rather than long term, so we are always in an unnecessary financial crisis.

Solution: Pass adequate funding for the debt limit and other necessary actions so that the government can function as it should.

I hate that our politicians are more concerned about their reelection than doing anything for the country.

Solution: Get rid of big money and corrupt officials by everyone voting in 2016. It won’t solve the problem right away, but it would be a great start.

I hate that the NRA values profits over people and continue to push guns everywhere, including college campuses.

Solution: Pass a law that keeps lobbyists from influencing our legislators and actually writing the laws they pass. Get big money out of politics. Hold representatives accountable for their votes.

I hate that Democrats aren’t organized and don’t speak with a unified voice.

Solution: Get a stronger leader of the DNC and begin to stand up for what you believe. All Democrats who are elected to office need to support the President, their party’s platform, and their own agenda vocally and often.

I hate that now that Republicans control both Houses of Congress, they are showing that they can’t lead.

Solution: Republican leaders need to stop pandering to the right wing fringe and show some leadership.

I hate that 47 Republican senators decided to write an unprecedented, ill-conceived letter to a foreign leader to undermine the President’s negotiations with Iran.

Solution: Republicans need to start acting like responsible professionals and do their jobs instead of pulling stupid stunts like this.

I hate that John Boehner blows kisses at reporters, cries, won’t bring actions to the floor for a vote, and needs Nancy Pelosi to help get anything passed.

Solution: Boehner needs to show some leadership or relinquish his prestigious job to someone who can control the Republican caucus in a favorable way.

I hate that we are leaving such a mess to our children and grandchildren.

Solution: Congress should stop acting like children and do their jobs.

I hate that some people like Rudy Giuliani think they love America more than President Obama.

Solution: Show your love for your country by not spreading hatred and falsehoods. Don’t listen to naysayers. Listen to Obama when he speaks and you will see how much he loves and respects America.

 

 

R is for Republican and Reverse

June 12th, 2015

elephantDemocrats keep trying to drive our country forward with policies designed to help Americans in the 21st century. Unfortunately, Republicans are stuck in reverse.

Attorney Louise Raggio drafted and helped pass the Texas Marital Property Act of 1967, affording married women the right to own property, secure a bank loan and start a business without their husband’s consent.  Now in 2015, many Republicans harken back to “the good ol’ days” and propose laws stripping women of the right to make appropriate healthcare decisions with their doctors and families. Abortions were once performed mainly in back alleys and by unskilled practitioners. Do we really want to revert back to those days?

Along with women’s rights, Republicans also want to reverse minority’s rights. By requiring unnecessary voter identification, gerrymandering districts, limiting early voting days, eliminating same-day registrations, and sending out false information, they are making it harder for minorities. This is in opposition to the Voters Right Act of 1965.

Thom Tillis’ believes the government shouldn’t regulate the need for restaurant employees to wash their hands, as long as institutions hang signs stating that employees are no longer required to wash their hands. How is this proposal beneficial to the American people? If his idea is supported, the risk of spreading diseases will skyrocket unnecessarily. Tillis says he wants less government control. But, if the institutions are still required to hang a sign, then the only difference are the words on the sign; and the amount of illness spread.

Schools once required that students’ immunizations are up-to-date in order to enroll each year. Rand Paul however, believes that vaccinations should not be mandatory. He supports parents having the right to choose vaccinations for their children even though it might spread diseases, like measles, that have been eliminated in the US. Why can’t we continue with the laws that protect the country’s citizens and provide waivers to some parents when warranted?

Certain Governors, like Scott Walker, are reversing our public education policies and undoing higher education for the masses. They are focusing policies and funding on the elite, want to get rid of school lunch programs and food stamps, and leave millions of kids in America hungry.

Republican’s want to reinstate Bush’s policy of “trickle-down economics” even though it increased income inequality, expanded the number of people in poverty, and gave tax breaks to billionaires. Instead of growing the economy, “trickle-down economics” sent the country into a recession.

Twelve years of war, many lives lost, and a trillion dollars later, the Republican Party wants to involve America in another war in the Middle East.

Democrats on the other hand, want to take steps forward not backward.

They want to raise the minimum wage, pass immigration reform, decrease income inequality, build better roads and bridges, provide healthcare for all, and assure equal pay for men and women.

Democrats want to learn from past role models, regardless of party affiliation, rather than revert to the past. Republican President Dwight Eisenhower constructed a world-class highway system in the fifties and put millions to work pulling the country out of a recession. The Democrats want to implement his ideas and repair and replace deteriorating roads and crumbling bridges. The infrastructure bill proposed by the Democrats would boost our economic growth, reduce citizens’ car repair bills, and employ millions of workers in fulltime, good paying jobs. Unfortunately the Republicans will not support this bill.

When you continue to take steps back you never progress. Whereas, if you take steps forward, you get where you are headed – whether it is building a bridge or passing the ACA, it is progress…and that is what makes America great.

Going in reverse only lets you see where you have been, not where you are going in the future.

Drive, ambition, and innovation are what make our society advance. Going forward keeps America a world-leader. In 2016, let’s find Democratic candidates who will move the country forward.

 

Is John Boehner really the most “do-nothing” Speaker of the House in history?

June 12th, 2015

gavel1As we look at John Boehner and what he has accomplished as speaker, or rather not accomplished, I believe he is the most “do-nothing” Speaker of the House in history. Recently he opened the 114th Congress by using more taxpayer dollars to call for the repeal of Obamacare/Affordable Care Act…again, for the 56th time!

Is Boehner right? Should Obamacare/ACA be repealed? Maybe. However, in the five years the Republicans have had to work on a replacement or suggestions for the ACA, they have come up with nothing but a nine page document that neither funds healthcare nor tells how many people it would serve.

Some facts Boehner should consider:

Fact 1: Millions of Americans have signed up for the ACA. If repealed, millions would lose their health insurance. Any serious illness would cause many people to face bankruptcy or death because of lack of care.

Fact 2: Insurance companies are for the ACA because their profits have increased substantially since it was signed into law. In addition, hospitals that were going bankrupt because people couldn’t pay their bills are now becoming more financially stable.

Fact 3: Many Republican governors are beginning to see the value of supporting the Medicaid Expansion and the ACA.

Some facts voters should consider:

Fact 1: Prior to the passage of the ACA, (December 10, 2008) Boehner bought numerous health insurance company stocks, including tens of thousands of dollars in Cardinal Health, Cigna, and Wellpoint, according to Peter Schweitzer, author of Throw Them All Out: How Politicians and Their Friends Get Rich Off Insider Stock Tips, Land Deals, and Cronyism that Would Send the Rest of Us to Prison. Boehner also purchased shares in the Big Pharm companies Amgen, Johnson & Johnson, Forest Labs, Covidien, and Pfizer.” At least two of those stocks — Cardinal Health and Wellpoint — are up over 100 percent since Boehner’s investment. Pfizer is up over 50 percent. None of the stocks is down.[1] This “insider trading” was considered illegal, but Congress struck down that law for them.

Fact 2: He has voted to repeal the ACA numerous times, tried to sue Obama when ACA was not implemented fast enough and now is threatening to sue Obama again.

Fact 3: As leader of the House, he has not shown that he can lead. Boehner cannot bring his caucus together nor get any reasonable legislation passed. The Republicans continue to fight amongst themselves while the far right extremists inadvertently destroy the Party; and therefore our country’s two-party democracy.

Fact 4: Instead of sending a good budget to the Senate, Boehner sent a bill to secure our homeland with amendments that he knows won’t pass the Senate nor be signed by Obama. Through these actions he is jeopardizing our national security.

Fact 5: With Congress’ approval rating at 13 percent, his legacy is being tarnished by his continual groveling to lobbyists and rich donors, his total disregard for his Ohio constituents, and disregard for the needs of the country.

Fact 6: Boehner frequently golfs with lobbyists, and sleeps in a plush two-bedroom apartment rented for him by John Milne, a Beltway lobbyist. He has shown he will do anything to win an election and retain his position as speaker.[2]

Fact 7: He recently invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu to address Congress behind President Obama’s back. Boehner’s actions were out of line and could provoke a rift between Israel and America. While both Israel and the U.S. are opposed to the visit, it is still scheduled.

Fact 8: Boehner continues to say: “I’m not qualified to debate the science over climate change…But, I am astute enough to understand that every proposal that has come out of this administration to deal with climate change involves hurting our economy and killing American jobs.”[3] 98% of scientist disagrees.

Fact 9: A true effort put towards reversing the effects of climate change and global warming would increase jobs, decrease unemployment, and help the American economy. Building wind farms, doing research to discover new energy sources, etc. are just some of the ways jobs would be created.

Fact 10: Boehner along with other Republicans continue to block funding to rebuild our infrastructure. By blocking the funding, they are actually costing Americans good paying jobs while making the US less competitive in the world market. Republicans do not like to raise taxes but, as elected officials, the Republicans need to put what’s best for the country in front of their party mantra. A small gas tax would fund this project, not increase the deficit, and put millions to work.

Fact 11: In Boehner’s state of Ohio:

  • 42% of Ohio’s roads are in poor or mediocre condition.
  • Driving on roads in need of repair costs Ohio motorists $1.685 billion      per year in extra vehicle repairs and operating costs – $212 per motorist.
  • 9.1% of Ohio bridges are      considered structurally deficient.
  • 15.9% of Ohio bridges are      considered functionally obsolete.
  • 45% of Ohio’s major urban      highways are congested      resulting in wasted time and additional fuel costs for motorists.[4]

You’ve now read through a series of facts. Did Ohio make the right choice when they elected Boehner? Is he really serving the people? Or, Is John Boehner really the most “do-nothing” Speaker of the House in history?

As a “Speaker of the House” is he helping our country by revisiting the same issues over and over rather than moving forward? As a “Speaker of the House” is he helping the country by trying to sue a two time elected President multiple times? As a “Speaker of the House” is he helping by interfering in world affairs? As a “Speaker of the House” is he helping by holding on to old Republican ideas rather than creating progressive ones?

We the people must demand more of our elected officials. We must vote for candidates that will work together and move our country forward rather than hold it back. Until then, expect more of the same from Boehner and his colleagues.



[1] BOMBSHELL: John Boehner Busted in Major Corruption Scandal, Conservative Tribune, January 6, 2015

[2] The Crying Shame of John Boehner: He’s a lazy, double-talking shill for corporate interests. So how’s he going to fare with the Tea Party?,Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stones, January 5, 2011, http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/matt-taibbi-the-crying-shame-of-john-boehner-20110105#ixzz3Qtbd3xVP

[4] 2013 Report Cart for America’s Infrastructure, Current Condition of Ohio Highways, Roads and Bridges, Ohio Roads & Bridges, Ohio construction Information Administration,  http://ocianews.com/ohio-roads-bridges/

 

Mitch McConnell, Really!

June 12th, 2015

oldman1Mitch McConnell failed on his pledge to make Obama a one-term president, but he did succeed in obstructing the passage of many bills that would have grown the economy and helped the American people. Since 2007, McConnell has used the filibuster 413 times as minority leader. Despite the Republican Party’s roadblocks, our economy has been growing: there has been declining unemployment, lower gas prices, a soaring stock market, and a decreasing deficit.  McConnell, however, credits these accomplishments to the newly elected Republicans even though they have only been in office for a few weeks. Really Mitch!

Due to poor voter turnout the Republicans took control of both houses and McConnell finally got the power he so desperately craved. He savors his new title: majority leader of the Senate. Now he has the chance to use his power to show Americans that he can lead, govern, and accomplish things as Harry Reid did. Now he has the chance to work together with Obama and live up to his campaign promises of compromise and moving America forward.  Unfortunately, his actions are proving otherwise.

Mitch immediately started to chip away at women’s reproductive rights, to take healthcare away from the needy, to oppose raising the minimum wage, to continue to gut voters’ rights, to dismiss immigration reform, to repeal bank regulations, and to contest jobs bills and infrastructure repairs.

He, like many Republicans, still wants to keep their own constituents from getting healthcare, while Congress enjoys a “Cadillac” policy. Even though Kentucky Governor Beshear has confirmed that more than 500,000 residents have taken advantage of Kynect, the healthcare program funded by the ACA (or Obamacare), McConnell blatantly lied to voters saying they could keep Kynect even if he repealed the ACA. His hatred for Obama far exceeds his love of his fellow Kentuckians.

Mitch also wants to take away Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, a livable wage, and veteran benefits. Why doesn’t he want to help the poor and close the growing income gap amongst the American people? Unlike most employees, Congress sets their own salary, raises, vacations, and job description, rather than their bosses — the voters.

If he and other Republicans think a family can live on the current minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, which amounts to approximately $15,000 a year for a fulltime worker, then I suggest we cut their pay to that amount. Think of all the money the country would have if Congress and their staff all made just $7.25 an hour?

In addition, McConnell continues to block infrastructure policies that even include fixing disastrous roads and dangerous bridges in his own state. He is preventing millions from working. Instead he supports the construction of the Keystone Pipeline with full knowledge that it is environmentally dangerous, doesn’t create but a handful of jobs, and the U.S. doesn’t even get the oil. The country takes on all of the risks with the pipeline, but none of the rewards. The rewards go to individual oil and gas lobbyists, oil barons like the Koch Brothers, and senators like McConnell.

Furthermore, Mitch doesn’t support theories on climate change because in his words, “he is not a scientist.” He chooses not to read briefs on the climate, listen to reports from meteorologists, or watch the extreme weather patterns that are currently emerging. In a recent study, more than 10,800 scientists said that the global warming we are experiencing is manmade. Two disagreed. The Republican Congress, Mitch, and the potential Republican presidential candidates’ actions (or rather inaction), all support big oil as opposed to our planet, ocean life, and drinking water.

Mitch McConnell told the voters he would compromise on the campaign trail but, has not budged since he has been elected. Instead of embracing and building on Obama’s policies, where the U.S. has experienced 58 months of continued economic growth, Mitch wants to revert back to the policies under George W. Bush. Has he forgotten that those policies collapsed our economy?

Like many Republicans, Mitch disregards the wishes of those who put him in office. They gerrymander districts, suppress voting rights, and continue to support Citizen United rather than repeal it. These steps insure their continued reelection and the flow of unlimited campaign funds from a few billionaires.

Due to poor voter turnout in 2014, the Republicans took control of both houses. In 2016, if Democrats stay home and do not come out to vote, they might lose the Presidency too.

 

Republicans Control both Houses of Congress; Democrats the Presidency: So What Does the Future Hold?

June 12th, 2015

capitol1After the 2008 election, Republicans vowed to do everything to obstruct President Obama and keep anything he supported from passing. When they lost again in 2012, they doubled down on this philosophy. Unfortunately for the country, this strategy, coupled with falsehoods about Democratic programs and the Democrats cowardly showing in 2014, Republicans now control both the House and the Senate.

The question facing Republicans now is what to do with this power. If they continue their obstruction and do nothing, they will not be able to shift the blame to Obama and the Democrats. If they yield to their conservative base, Obama will veto whatever they propose and two more years will pass with nothing being accomplished. If they work with Obama, their conservative base will rebel causing internal turmoil and damage to their brand going into the 2016 election.

On the other hand, the Democrats have to prove to their once loyal base, that they still stand for middle class values, job creation and strong financial reform. Their quietness in 2014 and lack of support for their president was a huge tactical error. As Obama angers the Republicans by passing immigration reform, opening diplomatic relations with Cuba and maybe vetoing the Keystone Pipeline, the Republicans have to prove they have workable ideas that will create jobs, improve the economy for everyone and that they can govern and get things done.

Thus far, they haven’t done that. The Republicans are once again trying to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits. They want to dismantle ACA funding, and are again attacking women’s health and choice issues. They plan to greatly reduce Homeland funding, except to send more troops to the border and deport all undocumented people. They want to cut the NASA budget to unworkable levels, have put no women in charge of any committees in Congress except administration, and want to again deregulate Wall Street so that taxpayers are on the hook for risky behavior, rather than the banks and brokers.  And they say, “This is the new Republican Party.” So what are they doing that is new and different? NOTHING. They continue to block, obstruct, lay off, deregulate, deprive the needy while assisting the wealthy, and pass nothing of significance like infrastructure measures or job bills.

To win the White House in 2016, each party needs a good candidate. While there are dozens being talked about in the Republican Party, only a couple would probably put up much of a fight. A total conservative like Ted Cruz or a bully like Chris Christie will only attract extremists, not a majority. Mitt Romney is a two-time loser; Rick Perry had an embarrassingly poor showing in 2012; and Jeb Bush has to disassociate himself from his very unpopular brother, and show that another Bush in the White House would not create a dynasty.

Rand Paul has to attract enough conservative voters to get through a primary. Marco
Rubio wants to be president, but his wishy-washy ways have endeared him to very few Floridians, let alone other states. Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum want to turn the government into a theocracy, not a democracy.  Donald Trump thinks he would be a great president, but he is in a very small minority who believe that.

Scott Walker might be a good candidate if labor unions don’t organize against him and the deficit he has grown in his own state with his radical ideas aren’t seen as a big negative. Dr. Ben Carson would like to be president, but the Republicans nominating a black man is highly unlikely.

Fearing Hillary Clinton will top the Democratic ticket, the Republicans have scrambled to come up with some potential female candidates such as Kelly Ayotte, Jan Brewer and Nikki Haley.

While Hillary will most likely be the Democratic nominee, Bernie Sanders is thinking of running as well. His middle class values, outspoken commonsense and experience will capture a lot of attention from far left Democrats, especially if he added Elizabeth Warren to the ticket.

With all those possibilities still pending, I have a couple of words of wisdom for both parties.

To Republicans: show the American people you can get things done that help them. Don’t block Obama, but find ways to compromise with him without adding unpassable amendments to otherwise good legislature. In other words, show some leadership, do your job and govern.

To Democrats: stand up for your values and with your president. Right now, I think the Democrats are broken, don’t stand for much, and are afraid of everything. My advice is to demonstrate a strong backbone, hold the Republicans accountable for their actions or inactions, and give Democrats a reason to vote in 2016.

What is America? A Republic? A Democracy? An Oligarchy? A Plutocracy? A Theocracy?

June 12th, 2015

constitution2I’m not sure what America’s form of government is anymore but, it is definitely not a democracy.

A Democracy provides every legal citizen of a certain age with the free and equal right to participate in a system of government that elects representatives of the people by the majority of the people, who promise to do the will of the people.

The Electoral College, gerrymandering, photo IDs and other voter suppression tactics are just some of the practices that keep America from being a democracy. In Bush vs Gore, the Supreme Court gave the election to Bush even though Gore received more than a half million more popular votes. When the person receiving the most votes isn’t the winner of the election, then that country is not a democracy.

A Republic is a form of government in which power resides with the people, and the government is ruled by elected leaders who govern according to laws designed to help citizens. If we believe this definition, then we are not a Republic because our elected leaders no longer rule by law or by what their constituents want. Instead, our officials rule by the wishes of corporations and billionaires.

An Oligarchy is a government in which a small group exercises control especially for corrupt and selfish purposes. Some American politicians seem to want this form of government. After the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Citizens United, the United States became a country where money replaced free speech and corporations replaced people. Today, average people have less rights and less control over their government. While big corporations and wealthy donors, along with Wall Street, are free to influence elections, write legislation and destroy our country for their own selfish and greedy interests.

America appears to be headed in the direction of Plutocracy. This form of government believes a society should be ruled by its wealthiest members. The Supreme Court has allowed a flood of money to buy our elections, rather than the will of the people. Income inequality is growing, the middle class is disappearing, and Republicans continue to block raising the minimum wage for hard working Americans. Women don’t make equal pay for equal work, and CEOs make insane compensation, while workers are pushed for greater productivity for less money. The rich are getting richer, while the poor are barely living paycheck to paycheck.

A Theocracy is a government ruled by or subject to religious authority. If those on the conservative right get their way, they will destroy the very foundation our ancestors died for. Our country was based on freedom of religion and the separation of church and state. But the recent Hobby Lobby case has blurred those lines. The Koch Brothers and others are funding local elections to school boards in order to establish a creationism curriculum vs an evolution or scientific explanation. They want their religious beliefs to be the basis for our laws and government.

Socialism is
an economic concept that advocates public ownership of all resources. The Republicans have accused President Obama of creating a socialist society. But by definition, that is false. Even the Affordable Care Act is not government owned, and is supported by independent insurance companies that are publically owned by shareholders, not the government. The government doesn’t own the resources in this country, private enterprises do. The government does play a role in our society by providing security (police, fire, military), infrastructure (roads and bridges), and education (pre-k thru 12th grade) for all children but, that is not socialism. It is just governing effectively and doing the job they were elected to do. In the last few Congressional sessions our elected officials failed to do their job and pass any meaningful legislation, but they didn’t fail to collect their government-issued paychecks.

A Welfare state is a concept of government in which the state plays a key role in the protection and promotion of the economic and social well-being of its citizens. While we are not a welfare state, many Americans feel a strong obligation to help the less fortunate with needed assistance such as food stamps, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Many of these programs have been funded by the recipients. The majority of those receiving these benefits are disabled, veterans, the elderly, and the very poor, many of whom work one or more jobs but, still can’t afford necessities and medical care.

How can Americans continue to fight to spread democracy around the world, when much of the Republican agenda is taking freedom away from our own citizens?

I believe America needs to focus on uniting and reclaiming its own democratic form of government, before they impose “American ideology” on others.