Uncategorized

Surviving the Onslaught — Or Not

Is your head spinning? Feel like you’re under siege, being pummeled by such a barrage of attacks that you don’t know where to turn or what to try to fend off first?

That’s what it’s felt like since Jan. 21.

Just about every program, law and policy to keep life, health, water, air, privacy (what’s left of that) is under threat.

Let me count the ways:

  1. Healthcare coverage. Yes, the ACA survived the GOP replace and replace debacle. That doesn’t mean the GOPers are done with trying to gut the ACA via HHS Sec. Tom Price implementing draconian regulations and .45 doing as much damage as he can with executive orders. Neither is  Medicare or Medicaid out of the woods and GOPers will continue to dismantle both of those programs as much as possible.
  2. Enviromental protections. With a stroke of his pen, .45 waved goodbye to breathable air and unpolluted water by nullifying the Clean Power Plan, which would have closed hundreds of coal-fired power plants, halted construction of new plants, and replacing them with renewable energy sources.
  3. Privacy — or what’s left of it. The current White House occupant is expected to sign a bill passed by Congress that will  throw out broadband-privacy rules the FCC passed last year, designed to prevent internet service providers from selling customers’ (our) personal data (such as your web-browsing history, Social Security number and information pertaining to our health and our children) to advertisers and other companies without our  consent.
  4. Net Neutrality. Also, about to go the route of privacy.
  5. SCOTUS. Nominating a man to the U.S. Supreme Court who would all but put women in burkas and ensure that corpotuses have ever louder voices than The People. (No, corporations are NOT people.)
  6. Human rights. More than half of the American population would have even less control over and say about their reproductive decisions.(Where’s the logic in banning legal pregnancy termination, restricting healthcare coverage for contraception,
  7. PutinRussia. Oh the smoking guns. A new evermore appalling revelation every day. How can anyone keep up?
  8. And today, in Wisconsin, GOP legislators hope to pass a law that would allow guns for all, just about everywhere with:
    • No Permit.
    • No Background Check.
    • No Training.

    And would weaken rules prohibiting guns in schools, police stations, and mental health facilities.

    Just how much more are these GOPers in NRA/gun nut pockets?

What’s so outrageous and maddening is that while legislat0rs and judges make and OK laws that allow this insane proliferation of guns, they exempt themselves. No guns in their office buildings, chambers, courthouses, courtrooms. That just shouldn’t be.

Just like everyone in this country should be entitled to the same healthcare coverage as the people who work for us — public servants like elected and appointed government officials — so should we all be afforded the same protection against guns.

I’ve left a lot out — just too much to try to cover.

Almost as overwhelming are all the protests, demonstrations, call to actions. You have only so much time to go to rallies, marches and meetings, to make phone calls and send emails, FAXes and postcards. (Whatever happened to the Ides of Trump, anyway?)

Call for an independent investigation into the Trump-Putin/Russia scandal.

Tell senators to vote NO on the Gorsuch Supreme Court confirmation.

Sign the petition opposing defunding Planned Parenthood, the NEA, public broadcasting, the EPA, and on and on.

How to choose?

And that doesn’t begin to cover the tsunami of emails asking for money.

Have you felt under fire, too? From what? How are you surviving?

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Cultural, Political, Social, Uncategorized

Senators: Challenge Gorsuch’s Weasel Answers!

As I listened to excerpts of Judge Neil Gorsuch’s U.S. Supreme Court judicial confirmation hearings today, the urge to scream at members of the Judiciary Committee to do their jobs and question the double-speak and supposedly gotcha answers that oozed out of Gorsuch’s mouth.

Gorsuch identifies as a Constitutional originalist, thinking that judges should interpret the Constitution literally, as the Founders intended it at the time.  “Judges should “apply the law as it is, focusing backward, not forward, and looking to text, structure, and history to decide what a reasonable reader at the time of the events in question would have understood the law to be,” he once told Case Western Reserve University Law School students, according to a CNN report.

There are so many questions that beg to be asked regarding that position.

One committee member, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, tiptoed toward a key question when she expressed concern about his position of focusing backward, not forward, in Constitutional interpretation, particularly regarding women’s rights. But she fell silent after his assurance that “no one is looking to return us to horse and buggy days.”

Say what? Constitutional originalist Gorsuch thinks the Constitution should be interpreted as the Founders intended, as they wrote it back in the day, according to his hearings testimony. Yet, he says that in doing so, the country won’t revert to “horse-and-buggy days.”

How so, when those who wrote it intended for only Americans like them — white male property owners — to vote.

By Gorsuch’s standards, women wouldn’t be allowed to vote. The Constitutional amendment guaranteeing women the right to vote wasn’t written by the Founders. They had no intent when it came to women voting. The Founders were all long-dead by the time the 19th Amendment, prohibiting the denial of the right to vote based on sex was presented to Congress and the States.

Same with African-Americans.

In fact, not only would slavery still be Constitutionally allowed, “enslaved blacks in a state would be counted as three-fifths of the number of white inhabitants of that state.”

Yes, both of those deplorable aspects of the U.S. Constitution were written and, most likely intended, by the Founders.

According to Gorsuch’s originalist interpretation philosophy, he would strike down laws based on the 14th Equal Protection Amendment, since that wasn’t written by the Founders, thus not their intent.

He would also hold that the federal income tax is unconstitutional, since the 16th Amendment, which permits Congress to levy such a tax “without apportioning it among the states or basing it on the United States Census” wasn’t presented to Congress or the states for ratification until 1909.

Gorsuch, whose judicial track record is to favor businesses over individuals, was noncommittal in the committee hearing today. But why? What did the Founders have to say in the Constitution about corporations being persons? Nothing. So what do SCOTUS justices of Gorsuch’s ilk base their interpret of the Constitution on when they said corporations are persons?

That goes to another area in which Gorsuch’s answers in his hearing was like using cheap perfume to cover up a stench.

Take making laws and interpret their Constitutionality, for instance.

It’s Congress’s job to make laws, Gorsuch said, and the Court’s job is to put them to a Constitutional test. If Congress doesn’t like the Court’s ruling on a law, he said, give the Court a law it will affirm. You, Congress, makes the law. The Court doesn’t.

What the heck does he think the Court did in the Citizens United case?

Congress didn’t pass a law saying corporations are people. The Court simply declared that was the law. The question before the Court in that case wasn’t if corporations were persons. The Court majority blatantly took it upon itself to rule that they are. There was no foundational law for that SCOTUS ruling.

Why has no one put the Constitutional test of what a person actually is to the Court. Where’s the Citizens United Trump to ask, where’s the birth certificate? What attributes, features or biological components of a corporation constitutes personhood?

Judges, Gorsuch posits, aren’t politicians in robes. They shed their political views when they don the robe. They are independent of political pressure and ideology and are completely partial.

If that were true, why does the Court notoriously split along political, religious and ideological lines?

If what Gorsuch says were true, the Court would still have split decisions, but they wouldn’t reflect so strongly and predictably the political extremes that they do. The splits would reflect truly independent and impartial judges.

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Cultural, Political, Social

Clashing Absurdities

T rump’s promise to punish women who terminate pregnancies is pretty much entwined with other promises and statements he’s made.

Given that the 1973 Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision declared that women have a constitution right to end pregnancies, the only constitutional way T rump or anyone can constitutionally punish women for terminating pregnancies within statutorily circumscribed circumstances is with a superseding Supreme Court decision.

To that end, T rump repeated his promise in a post-election “60 Minutes” interview T rump “repeated his promise to name a Supreme Court justice who opposes abortion rights and would help overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that recognized them.” Women’s legal access to pregnancy termination would then be on a state-by-state basis. In other words, it would be necessary to find a state, which are increasing in Republican control, that would allow abortions.

“Asked where that would leave women seeking abortions, Mr. Trump, on the CBS program ’60 Minutes,’ said, ‘Well, they’ll perhaps have to go — they’ll have to go to another state’,” he is quoted as saying in a New York Times article.

So, Roe v. Wade and the numerous legal challenges to that ruling that the U.S. Supreme Court has consistently ruled again, is not settled, so far as T rump is concerned.

Yet, in that same “60 Minutes” interview,  T rump said he considered last year’s Supreme Court decision that validated same-sex marriages to be settled, and that he was “fine with that.”

So why leave invasion of females’ bodies and gynecological issues, which often affect the life and health of women who are full-fledged human beings, up to individual states, but not marriage choice, which seldom if ever involve such high stakes?

 

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Cultural, Political, Social

The Absurdity of T rump’s Anti-Immigrant Promise

This post, about immigration, is a three-fer in continuing to look at how absurd some of promises the Republican presidential nominee made during his campaign. His three immigration-related promises were:

He’ll build a wall.

He’ll keep immigrants out.

He’ll send illegals back where came from.

First, like many of the promises he made, such as he’ll repeal Obamacare (he now likes the parts of Obamacare that requires coverage of people with pre-existing medical conditions and allows young people to remain on their parents’ plans until the age of 26) and he’ll bar all Muslims from entering the country, the now-about-to-be-president is now softening portions of that promise.

T rump said in Sunday interview that the New York Times reported on today that “the wall that he has been promising to build on the nation’s southern border might end up being a fence in places. But he said his priority was to deport two million to three million immigrants he characterized as dangerous or as having criminal records, a change from his original position that he would deport all of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country. President Obama has deported more than two million undocumented immigrants during his time in office.”

T rump “said that undocumented immigrants who are not criminals are ‘terrific people,’ and that he would decide how to handle them after the border is secure. The House speaker, Paul D. Ryan, echoed the president-elect, saying on Sunday that there would be no deportation force, something Mr. Trump had promised to create early in his campaign.

“’That’s not what we’re focused on,’ Mr. Ryan said on CNN’s ‘State of the Union’.”

Continue reading the main story  http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/14/us/politics/donald-trump-twitter-white-house.html?emc=edit_th_20161114&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=37410851&_r=0

Oh, ye of unquestioning belief.

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Uncategorized

The Absurdity of T rump’s Jobs Promise

Second in a series of “The Absurdity of It All”:

He’ll bring jobs back to America

If he’s going to do that, why hasn’t he already?

He could have had the neckties, shirts, suits bearing his brand made in the USA, but he didn’t. Those and other goods emblazoned with his name are made in other countries. In other words, making those goods are manufacturing jobs that got shipped out. Why? Because jobs in the countries where they are made pay less, many times less than they could be here — if American workers could make a decent wage. He even builds and furnishes the luxury hotels that bear his name with construction materials and decor from China. Why, when he could buy steel and furnishings made in this country? Because it’s cheaper!

So are the immigrants, some of whom are undocumented, who work in those hotels and even in his own homes. That is why he hires them.

The reason most consumer goods are made in other countries — which is why so many manufacturing jobs have disappeared in this country — is because Americans demand lower prices.

So what would happen if Donald T rump did use US-made goods to build and furnish his hotels and hired non-immigrants as workers. The cost to guests would be higher. Not that anyone who already pays $1,500 a night to stay in those places would care. But if all businesses used only US-made goods for their products and hired only non-immigrants as workers, what would happen to the cost of everything in this country? We, including those workers who want to make a decent wage–would all pay more for everything. So the very workers who want decent paying jobs are themselves largely to blame for the loss of manufacturing jobs in this country.

That is the absurdity of Donald T rump’s promise to bring jobs back to the U.S.

Workers in this country can’t have it both ways. They can’t have “decent wages” and low prices. They must pick one or the other. So far, they’ve picked low prices. It’s be interesting to see if Mr. T rump can change that.

 

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Cultural, Economy, Political, Social

The Absurdity of It All

It’s approaching midnight of day 2 of the president-elect T rump phase in the post-United States of America and my brain still can’t wrap itself around the fact that it’s real and not some surreal dream.

Every time I hear someone say either why they wanted to or actually did vote for him, I’m shocked that these folks aren’t thinking about what’s behind that door. Here are some examples.

He’s a successful businessman, he’ll run country like a business.

He’ll bring jobs back to America.

He’ll build a wall.

He’ll keep immigrants out.

He’ll send illegals back where came from.

He’ll keep us safe.

He’ll cut taxes/reduce corporate tax rate.

He’ll cut regulations.

He’ll punish women who terminate pregnancies.

As I was compiling this list, which is not complete, I realized that it’s far too extensive to tackle in one post. So I’ll start with first reason in the list, that the Republican nominee is a successful businessman and will run the country like a business.

Let’s look at the first part of that statement,  He is a successful businessman.

No, he isn’t.

Donald T rump is a lousy businessman. How does filing bankruptcy four or six (depending on how you count) and losing nearly $1 billion at least one year–maybe more, but thanks to being the only presidential candidate in decades to refuse to make his tax returns public, voters never knew–and ending up with a smaller financial portfolio after years of making “great deals” than if he had just invested the $1 million his dad gave him years ago in the stock market make him a successful business man? There is one thing he has been highly successful at and that is branding. Because of that success, he has been able to fool people into thinking he’s a successful businessman largely because most people don’t understand the difference.

As for running the country like a business, why in the world would any worker ever want the country s/he lives in that is supposed to be a democracy with a founding document that says it is “by the people, for the people and for the people” to be run like a business?

Don’t workers know how businesses are run?

They are not run for the benefit of or to benefit workers. In fact, in these days in which more and more business-friendly legislators have defanged workers’ rights and workers’ ability to negotiate, workers, except in rare incidents, have neither power nor say.

Businesses are run to make profits and to share those profits with their investors and to pay their CEOs huge salaries and bonuses for increasing the company’s profitability.

One way businesses remain and become more profitable is that they keep overhead and expenses low. Overhead includes worker pay and benefits.

In fact, for some businesses employee pay and benefits is the largest expense on that side of the ledger. That means paying employees a “decent wage” so they can support their families isn’t necessarily a top priority because higher wages bite into businesses’ bottom line.

In other words, workers=overhead. Businesses work to maintain a low overhead.

Workers have been told that electing politicians who favor businesses and corporate America–or who will at least deliver business/corporate friendly legislation in exchange for campaign donations–means more jobs. What has happened, though, is that the business/corporate-friendly politicians have robbed workers of their voices, power and ability to negotiate.

Workers these days are little more than widgets. What’s a business’s incentive to pay “decent wages”  when they can pay someone else less and not be saddled with the the expense of benefits? The reality of what has and continues to happen in recent times is that businesses hire workers who will work for lower pay and fewer hours so they become part-time workers not eligible for any benefits.

So to believe that have a person whose experience is entirely as a businessman serve as president and who will run the country like a business will create jobs with “decent pay” is absurd.

That leads to the next post, which will look at Trump supporters’ belief that Donald T rump will bring jobs back to America.

 

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Cultural, Political, Social

The Insanity of the Otherwise Sane

(I drafted this post the day after last June’s mass shooting in an Orlando FL nightclub, but am just now publishing.)

My husband is shocked.

I’m not.

I’m not even surprised.

It’s safe to say I’m beyond feeling outraged.

News of the horrendous carnage in an Orlando, Florida, nightclub overnight  has left me with just an overwhelming sense of sadness.

Why does this keep happening? pundits, journalists, politically ambitious and countless, countless other repeatedly ask in the wake of every mass shooting in this country.

But “why” isn’t the question. The question is how does it keep happening?

The answer is cowardice, power, fear, politics and propaganda. It is the insanity of the vast majority of the sane people in this country who allow a minority of extremists to rule the asylum (place of refuge and safety). It is the abortion by those extremists, in their quest for control of this country, of 13 vital words in the U.S. Constitution, Those words are:

“A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State”

Those are the first 13 words of the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution and, although, NRA officials wish they could physically shred them the way they have done psychologically, those 13 very vital and contextual words are still part of the Constitution.

The original intent of the text, from what I’ve read, was “militias needed to be well regulated through training and drilling in order to be effective in battle.”

The questions I want to ask  gun toters and every person who has stomped those first 13 words into oblivion and who wave the 14 words that are left–“the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed”–as if they were the 2nd Amendment in its entirety is, “What well-regulated militia are you part of?” and “Who is regulating it and what does that regulating comprise?”

The NRA, which has become the anti-taxes/anti-government Grover Norquist of the gun world — neither has been elected by anybody and both have become all powerful — would have Americans believe that the government wants to take gun owners’ guns away.

Not so. No more than requiring people to register and get a license to operate cars and trucks means the government wants to take their motor vehicles away. No more than requiring people who want to operate a business to get a business license means the government wants to take away their businesses. The whole notion is ludicrous. The idea of regulating such activities is for the overall safety and welfare of The People. And for the sane people in this country, who do make up the majority, to allow that mantra to stand unrefutted is pathetic.

Other assertions are equally ludicrous.

“More guns make for greater safety,” for instance. Well, where is the evidence, either anecdotally or empirically, of that?

It doesn’t exist, because it isn’t true. Here’s what is true. Americans own more guns per capita than the people of any country in the world–88.8 per 100 people (Next is Yemen with 54.8 per 100 people. Yeman, by the way appears to the the model “small-government” advocates in the U.S. want for this country–weak central government, no regulations.) Yet, the U.S. has a higher homicide rate and rate of gun violence than any other developed country.

“The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” That begs the question of how can anyone–whether in a nightclub, an elementary school, a movie theater, a Bible study, a hair salon, a Sikh temple, a church sanctuary, a college classroom, at a holiday party, and on and on–know who a bad guy or a good guy is? Isn’t it only after the shooting starts?

I saw a man with a gun strapped to his thigh hanging around outside a local Mexican restaurant not long ago. He saw just loitering with his dog outside the entrance and watching people as they entered and left. Why? What was he up to? Was he a good guy? A bad guy? How could anyone know? I can tell you, he sure made me feel uneasy, not safer. Did I say anything? No. What would I have said? He wasn’t doing anything illegal. Suppose he had shot someone? What if he had gone inside and shot up the whole restaurant? Would any good guys with guns have been in there to stop him? And who would have gotten shot in the crossfire? If such a thing had happened, would I have felt guilty for not saying something when I saw him?

Florida has one of the most gun-friendly states in the union. Were any good guys with guns in the Orlando Pulse Nightclub? If so, why didn’t they stop that bad man who shot more than 100 people there?

The NRA and its toadies say the key is to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill, yet they oppose background checks or enacting any more laws aimed to curtail such access. So just how is that supposed to work. I guess this country’s astronomically high gun violence rate can tell us the answer to that question.

“Guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” is yet another NRA mantra.

If that’s true, the U.S. sure does have one heck of a lot of homicidal people.

How these mass shootings and other gun violence keeps happening is directly attributable to the sane among us for failing to override the NRA’s propaganda and money machine that is electing politicians who do its bidding in spite of overwhelming public desire to a national gun management policy that truly would return this nation to the land of the free and the home of the brave from the land of the intimidated and the home of the cowed that the NRA has bullied it into.

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