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Archive for the ‘Gender Issues’ Category

The last twelve months have exposed a lot of problems in our society.  I am not talking about our political problems either.  In the last twelve months, we have seen certain people in our society get away with just about everything including vehicular homicide.

A drunk rich kid driving under the influence was involved in an accident that resulted in the death of someone.  His lawyer argued that he was suffering from a made-up infection called “affluenza” and was therefore not responsible for his actions.  The judge actually fell for this nonsense and he is spending no jail time for killing a human being while he was driving drunk.

At the end of last year when a football player (the star quarterback of the team) at a university had been accused of raping a student nothing was done about it.  Reports even stated that local police told the woman that her life would be hell if she went ahead with the charges because of whom she was accusing.

Then there was a rash of NFL players who were accused of domestic violence.  One of the players pled “no contest” to child abuse charges in order to avoid a trial that might have put him in jail.  The NFL announced that he would be suspended for the remainder the season.  He announced that he would immediately appeal the suspension since he has missed all of the season so far.  But, he has been paid for his time off.

A star NBA player was recently accused of child abuse but Florida decided not to do anything even though the doctor who examined the child stated that there was bruising on the child because he was beaten with the buckle end of a belt.  The player’s lawyer immediately accused the players estranged spouse of “making it all up” because of a very ugly custody battle.  In the meantime, the state of Georgia has announced it will look into the matter.

A New Jersey High School suspended the entire football season over allegations of abuse by some players on others.  Normally, this is called hazing.  But, the hazing went way beyond the lines of decency and some of the players are now facing criminal charges.  Yet, many in the community say the High School went too far, not the players.

Recently two more football players (both starters on the same team as the rape accusation) were reportedly involved in a traffic accident.  The accident resulted in the totaling of both vehicles involved, and reports indicate the accident was the fault of the football player.  Reportedly the player was driving on a suspended license and fled the scene on foot.  Instead of being charged with “hit and run” he was simply given two tickets and was never tested or even asked if he had used drugs or alcohol.

Bill Cosby has been accused by 14 women of being a serial rapist.  All of the women accused him of drugging them and raping them.  The first accusation came out about 20 years ago.  Again, nothing was done.  In one case, Mr. Cosby settled out of court so nothing else came of it.

The one thing all of these cases have in common is that the accused is a “personality” in public life.  Most of them are sports stars and one is a TV/Movie star.  In all cases, the victims involved are the ones who are being questioned about their “honesty”.  In the Cosby case, even Whoopi Goldberg said she has a lot of questions for the accuser.  Why doesn’t she have a lot of questions for Cosby instead?

In rape cases, victim blaming is a simple game that the accused plays all of the time.  Now, as we see, victim blaming is something that goes even beyond rape.  It has infected our justice system to a point where victims are becoming more and more afraid to come out with their story.

Or, in some cases we see where law enforcement is willing to turn a blind eye to the behavior just because the person being accused is some sort of celebrity.  You will probably tell me that this type of thing has been going on for years.  That may be true.  But, isn’t it time for it to stop?

Quite frankly, I never read the “entertainment” section of newspapers.  I really don’t care about the lives of celebrities.  I don’t care how rich people, movie stars, sports stars, or any other celebrity lives.  They can afford to live however they want.  But, I do care when they are involved in criminal activity and get away with it simply because they are celebrities.

I get even more irritated when people defend their behavior and put blame on the victims.  Or try to brush it off as “boys will be boys” stupidity.  The over-militarization of our police forces is a real problem that has led to tragedy across the nation.  However, the complicity of law enforcement in helping these celebrities get away with crimes is even more troublesome.

We have seen way too many times when law enforcement has turned a blind eye to celebrity misbehavior.  The victims have been hurt.  In some cases people have died.  Yet, they seem to get away with whatever they have been accused of doing.

With this kind of reaction whenever someone with a public name gets in trouble we have to ask ourselves just how balanced our justice system really is.  In some states if you are caught with a bag of marijuana you get at least 10 years in jail.  If you are a college football player who flees from the scene of an accident, you get “well that’s okay”.

If you are a star running back in the NFL and beat your then fiancé you get paid 5 million dollars to sit out a season and then cry foul when an actual suspension comes down for your behavior.  And, you get the union to back you up on the matter.

If you are a star quarterback on a college football team and get accused of rape, the police tell the victim that she will go through hell if she continues with the complaint.  Then, when there is a scheduled hearing to determine if you broke university conduct policy, you get the hearing put off until after the football season so you can continue to play.

If you are a star comedian who is accused of being a serial rapist over the last 20 years by as many as 14 women, your friends “have questions for the accuser” instead of you.  Forget the large number of women accusing you, they must all be liars.

I don’t know if everyone who has been involved in these cases are guilty or not.  I am not making an assumption of guilt.  I am questioning how these cases have been handled.  These cases show clearly that our judicial system may indeed be broken.  In most of them it clearly shows a lack of interest by law enforcement to fully investigate cases involving “celebrities”.

Cynics have claimed for years that guilt and innocence is determined more by how much money you have rather than the actual facts of the case.  When we continuously see these kinds of behavior towards celebrities, maybe the cynics are correct.  As a result maybe the Statue of Justice should not be blind folded and holding a scale, maybe she should have one eye open looking at the bag of money she is holding.

But then, we are all to blame for this mess.  If we continue to believe the accused simply because they are celebrities, nothing will change for the better.

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In the past six years, we have seen President Obama called everything from being a socialist, communist, fascist, and lawless.  The opposing side has continuously said they are only trying to pass legislation that the American People want.  Although they refuse to pass Universal Background Checks for Gun Purchases, Raise the Minimum Wage, or Immigration Reform which are all supported by over 70 percent of the American People.

The favorite name calling of the right-wing is communist.  I have been called a communist more times than I care to count.  If I had a dollar for every time I was called a communist, my retirement would be a lot more comfortable than it is.  So, I thought I might take a look at who are the real communists in America today.

The first thing you must consider is what is the definition of a communist.  Everyone, especially those of us who lived through the cold war look at communism as the form of government in the Soviet Union and China.  That is what we were taught was communism.  But is that really communism?

Karl Marx wrote the book on communism.  However, in his view of a communist world, there are no governments.  He wrote about a utopian society where governments were no longer needed.  He based his view on the concept that people are naturally good and therefore society would naturally look after the less fortunate, the sick, the disabled, and the elderly.  No government was necessary for these actions, people would just embrace that it was the right thing to do.

I know that is an oversimplification of his writings, but I do believe that is the gist of his book.  What Marx failed to take into account is the opposite of good, which is evil.  For, you cannot have good without evil.  Natural law says there is an opposite to every trait.  That is what makes us human.  As a result, the communism espoused by Marx is a fantasy with no real possibility of actually coming true.  Still, that doesn’t mean that any steps we take in that direction is not a good step.

But, now we get the heart of the matter.  The Soviet Union was the first country to embrace communism.  But, in realty, the use of the word was just as much a fantasy as Marx’s world view.  Basically, communism was hijacked by Lenin who had no intention of creating a utopian society.  He only used the term to gain support for his own version of a dictatorship.

If it hadn’t been for WWI the Leninist form of communism may not have happened.  The Germans sent Lenin to Russia from exile, and gave him millions to start a revolution so they could get Russia out of the war and fight on just one front.  It worked, and Lenin soon pulled Russia out of the war.

Lenin’s form of communism was no better than any other form of dictatorial government.  Yes, he took property away from some of the rich but he didn’t give it to the peasants, he formed collective farms that the peasants were forced to work.  He also maintained the industrialists and their positions to run his now government seized industries.  As a result, the average Russian did not gain significantly in economic status.  There was never an intention to let the average Russian people grow economically.

After WWII, Mao followed Lenin’s philosophy and was able to overthrow the government of China.  There too, a dictatorship under the guise of communism was formed.  It was no more communist than Lenin’s Russia, but what the hell, it worked in Russia so it would work in China.  The funny thing is that the Chinese and the Russians never really liked each other.  Dictators never really do like each other.  At some point one of them will try to take over the other.

The government set wages that were a bit higher than before the revolution, but not significantly higher.  Yet, the bureaucrats and industry leaders lived in luxury.  If you want to talk about income inequality at its worse, you just need to look at Russia under Lenin’s communist regime.

Under Lenin and then Stalin, the dictatorial regime masquerading as communism became even stronger.  Purges of political opponents made sure these people stayed in power.  All the while they were consolidating their power, they were dictating policy that affected the people of Russia.

There was a lot of talk about redistributing wealth in these communist countries.  But what really happened was that the wealth was redistributed to the government bureaucrats and industrialists not the people.  Right after the fall of the Soviet Union, there sure were a lot of suddenly rich multi-millionaires in Russia.  Where did they suddenly get their wealth?

So, what does all of this have to do with America?  Since the right-wing does not want to let go of the cold war, we continuously hear about communists trying to bring down our country.  And, there are a lot of similarities going on in our country right now.

Under Leninist communism, industries received large government subsidies to maintain productivity.  Yes, they were supposedly “government-owned”, but the money still came from the government.  In our country today, many companies receive large government subsidies as well.  Companies like oil and gas companies and chemical companies receive large government subsidies at taxpayer expense.

Other companies like Wal-Mart, McDonald’s, Burger King, and other minimum wage employers receive billions of dollars in government subsidies in the form of government safety nets for their employees.  Things like food stamps and WIC and health care subsidies for their employees so they don’t have to pay a livable wage.

In Lenin’s Russia, industrialists and government bureaucrats paid little or no taxes.  Today, politicians are still trying to keep taxes very low for the rich and corporations.  One in four corporations in America today do not pay any corporate taxes.  Yet, many of them still receive government subsidies on top of not paying taxes.

Lenin’s Russia forced the people to practice a religion known as the state.  The state was the only thing that mattered.  Although they did not directly outlaw people from practicing their religion, it was very strongly discouraged.  Today we have people who are attempting to force everyone to believe in one form of religion.  If you disagree with them, they complain that you are waging war on their beliefs.

In these communist regimes, the state dictated every aspect of a normal life.  They forced people to follow a strict living style whether they believed in it or not.  Today, we have similar people trying to force a particular living style on everyone else.  They even have introduced legislation in some states that would make it legal to discriminate against anyone who doesn’t believe what they believe.

As in all dictatorships, the number one goal of women was to have babies.  It is necessary to keep the population growing so more “workers” or “soldiers” are available to help the state.  We have similar beliefs running rampant today in our country.  Everything from denying equal pay for equal work to outlawing abortion and birth control are all aimed at keeping women in their place and having babies.

Non-Russian minorities were hugely discriminated against in the Soviet Union.  These minorities did not enjoy the same “rights” as Russians.  The Soviet Union was Russia’s empire after all.  Today we see civil rights under attack again in America.  Voter Suppression Laws and attempts to codify discrimination are just a couple of examples.

So, when you look at the name calling, especially the communist tagline, who are the real communists in American politics?  Is it the people who want to ensure equal treatment for our citizens or people who want to suppress the vote to minorities?

Is it the people who want to ensure equal protection under the law for everyone regardless of beliefs, or those who want to dictate which lifestyles are acceptable and be able to discriminate against anyone who doesn’t agree with their dictates?

Is it the people who want fair and equal pay for their labors, or those who fight against a livable wage and equal pay for equal work regardless of the sex of the worker?  Is it those who want to see everyone with health care, or those who believe that if you are poor you don’t deserve any health care and if you die, you die?

Is it the people who want to decrease the huge income inequality to help grow our economy, or those who want to make that inequality even bigger so the rich get richer at the expense of the labor force?  Is it the people who think that the poor, disabled and elderly should be protected by social safety nets, or those who believe they should be cut loose while increasing subsidies to large corporations?

If you want to see who could reasonably be called a communist based on the cold war definition of communism, you just have to look at the platforms of the two political parties.  I know whom I believe are the communists, you will have to make up your own mind.

 

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Conservatives are still crowing about their victory.  Although, the infighting has already started within the Republican Party.  The ACA is in the crosshairs of the Tea Party wackos.  They want a total repeal of the law.  McConnell is starting to talk about “fixing” parts of the law but apparently realizes that a total repeal is not going to happen anytime soon.  Especially with President Obama still in office with his veto pen.

Yet, on the horizon is a case that the Supreme Court has announced it will hear.  The case is King V. Burwell.  The plaintiffs in this case say that the law, as written, only allows for government subsidies to the poor if those people signed up via a state-run exchange.  Since 36 Republican controlled states did not set up an exchange, their citizens had to use the Federal Exchange.  According to the plaintiffs, that means those citizens in those 36 states are not supposed to get subsidies to help pay for their insurance.

On Friday, SCOTUS agreed to hear the case.  This has set off a firestorm on the right that “Obamacare” is doomed.  Just about every “legal expert” says that the challenge is bogus.  I am not a lawyer, so I don’t know if it is or not.  Frankly, I get just as lost in legalese as most people.  I do know for certain that all laws and their wording are subject to interpretation.  One professor I had once took out his pen.  He gave us a simple example of how legalese can be so misleading.

First he said that you may say, “I give you this pen.”  But, if you later decide to take it back, you have the right to do so because you didn’t say “I give you this pen forever.”  He then put up a full-page of legalese that would be required to say if you actually gave a pen to someone.  It was maddening and frustrating to see a simple act of giving a pen to someone can be so tedious in legalese.  That put me off on wanting to become a lawyer.

But, that is what the plaintiffs in King v. Burwell is looking for SCOTUS to rule.  In their mind, the simple fact that Republican Governors and Legislators decided not to participate in the exchanges, that their citizens are not legally allowed to get these subsidies. That is their “silver bullet” to help kill the ACA.

If SCOTUS rules in favor of the conservatives on this, it is estimated that over 5 million people will have their insurance ripped from them because they won’t be able to afford the payments.  All of them live in Republican controlled states.  Many of them have health insurance for the first time in their lives.  But, without the subsidies, they will not be able to afford that insurance anymore.

Everyone has not fully accepted the ACA yet.  There are still millions of people who are being denied coverage because these same Republican controlled states refuse to expand Medicaid.  So, those who cannot afford to purchase insurance, even with the subsidies, are still doing without.  The conservatives in King v. Burwell want to add another 5 million people to the uninsured ranks.

Why are they so crazed to put more people on the uninsured lists?  They want to use them as hostages!  We have heard that slogan before.  Hostages, they believe, will help them gain control and force their policies onto the American People.  They have used the ACA before when they shut down the government.  Problem was they took the hit for that.

What are Republicans going to say to their constituents who will lose health coverage if SCOTUS rules that they are not allowed to get the subsidies?  How is it even possible to believe they will have an answer to 5 million people losing their health care?  Apparently, they don’t care if those 5 million people lose their health care.  How are they going to explain to their citizens that the citizens in neighboring states can get the subsidies and remain covered while they cannot?  Do they really want their citizens to fall into a “second class citizenship” status when it comes to health care?

What they want is to do away with the ACA once and for all.  There have been over 50 votes in the House of Representatives to repeal the ACA.  Speaker Boehner has promised at least 20 times to lay out what the Republican plan would be to replace the ACA.  No plan has ever been laid out.  That is probably because the Republicans don’t have a plan.

Should SCOTUS rule in favor of the plaintiffs in this case, total chaos in the health industry will ensue.  Look at the simple facts.  If you take 5 million people out of the health care market, that means health companies will begin to lose money.  That means the rest of us who can afford insurance will be forced to pay more for it.  More hospitals will be forced to close.  Doctors will lose patients and thus income as well.  And, worst of all, people will die because they cannot get the health insurance and treatment they need.

We already know before the case is even heard that 4 conservative members of the court will vote in favor of the plaintiffs.  We know this because it takes 4 justices to vote to even hear a case.  That leaves Chief Justice Roberts as the swing vote.  He has been somewhat hesitant in previous cases from overturning the ACA outright.  He may do the same again and vote against the plaintiffs.  But, if he does vote with his fellow conservative justices, chaos in the health care industry is just around the corner.

The Republicans are still shouting how they are going to end gridlock and “get things done.”  If the conservatives win this case, the full ACA may fall apart simply because costs will skyrocket.  The Court will do the Republicans dirty work for them.  Conservatives will be overjoyed because they see millions of people losing their health insurance as a victory.

However, if the howling from their states becomes too great, McConnell and Boehner will be forced to come up with a plan.  But then, Mr. Cruz will raise his ugly head and scream about any plan to fix or replace the ACA and the internal war will boil over.  Rooting for a favorable ruling in King v. Burwell may put McConnell and his conservative cronies in a conundrum.

Then again, it just might show whether or not the Republicans are really ready to govern.  The health of average Americans should be too great a price for these stupid games.  That seems to be what Republicans are best at.  Playing stupid games with the American People as pawns.

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It has only been two days since the election, and I am already sick and tired of hearing about the “moderate Republicans” and how McConnell might actually “compromise” with the President to “get things done.”  Everyone at all of the networks seem to think that the “establishment” wing of the Republican Party has taken back control of their party.  Sorry, but that is total nonsense and very, very wishful thinking.

This great “compromise” is never going to happen.  Mitch McConnell is going to lose his caucus just as John Boehner lost the House caucus.  There is no way the ultra-conservative wing is going to roll over for him.  The Senate was always believed to be the stoic, thinking arm of Congress.  With six year terms, they have the luxury of not worrying about reelection every two years.  So, they were able to have more honest discussions that led to compromises.

Those days ended in 2010.  The so-called Tea Party movement ended all sense of honest discourse in the Senate.  During that time, people like Ted Cruz entered the Senate.  This year conspiracy nuts like Joni Ernst entered the Senate.  In the House, the same idiots from the Tea Party movement are still present.  There will be no compromise because the Tea Party doesn’t want any compromise.  If McConnell thought that playing nice to the Tea Party for the last four years will help him, he is wrong.

I know it is disgusting to do so, but if you go to Teaparty.org, you will se an article from that real nut job haven Infowars giving reasons the President should be impeached immediately.  You will also find their reasons as to why McConnell won’t follow through on impeachment.  It has nothing to do with the fact there are no reasons under the law to impeach the President.  No, it is because McConnell is afraid it will give Hillary Clinton a clear path to the White House.

And what are the reasons that the Republicans should impeach the President immediately?  “The attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, aiding terrorists in Syria, Fast & Furious, undermining the authority of Congress with regard to the attack on Libya, assassinating Americans via drone strikes, exceeding Congress’s power to regulate interstate commerce via Obamacare.”  These “articles of impeachment” they are touting only prove they have no idea what the Constitution means.  They are only interested in removing the first Black Man from the White House simply because his is black!

But, as the article says  ” while there are a plethora of reasons to impeach Obama, is the Republican leadership – are the RINO’s – really likely to get behind it? Not in a million years. Why? Because it would hugely increase Hillary Clinton’s chances of victory in the 2016 presidential election.”  So, as you can see, this wing of the Republican Party is still using their old “RINO” label against the “establishment wing” of the Republican Party.

Remember, their darling in all of this, Canadian Senator Ted Cruz, in an interview on election night failed to endorse McConnell as the Senate Majority Leader.  Cruz is waiting to see if the President is willing to pass “blanket amnesty” to millions of illegal aliens via Executive Order.  People who came here illegally, but have lived and worked here for years.  According to Cruz and the Tea Party, that alone is enough to impeach the President.

This is just the tip of the iceberg.  The Tea Party and their hero, the Canadian, are planning to basically shut down the government again if they don’t get their way.  They did it a couple of years ago when the Republicans were a minority in the Senate.  They will surely get it done again with a majority in the Senate.

The ultimate goal of the Tea Party and Cruz is to ensure the government stops governing.  They want to create total chaos.  If that creates unrest in the streets, that is fine with them.  They believe that it will lead to their takeover of the government.  Then they can create their homogenous “white male dominated” society.  If that sounds somewhat familiar, that’s because it is.  Just look back into 20th Century history to find the birth of such idiocy.

As a result, even before the Republicans take control of the Senate and Congress, the internal war is already raging.  That is why any talk about “compromise” or the real possibility of Congress actually getting something done to help the American People is nothing more than a pipe-dream.  The ultra-conservatives backed by the Tea Party and their major sponsors the Koch Brothers will never let that happen.

Poor Mitch McConnell thinks he is going to make a difference.  Maybe he should stop sipping his Kentucky Bourbon and start really looking at what he has for a caucus.  If he is as politically smart as the pundits claim, he would not even try to be the Majority Leader.  He will have no better luck reining in his wackos as John Boehner did in the House.  More’s the pity for the country.

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The mid-terms have ended and the Republicans have gained control of the Senate.  That was expected by all the pundits.  Even I believed they would win the Senate, although I had hoped Democrats would do better.  In just about every mid-term election, the party in the White House has basically lost the election.  Including Saint Reagan.

The right-wing is crowing just as we expected they would.  The main headline on their website at Fox News is “GOP Handed Control Of Senate In Rebuke Of Obama Policies”.  Other right-wing media are crowing that “Americans have taken back America”.  They have a month and a half to crow about what Fox is calling “the landslide as a complete rejection of Obama”.

So what happened yesterday?  Basically, the Republicans picked up about six or seven seats in the Senate the majority of which were in Red States that they expect to win.  They did pick up a few seats in what is usually classified as “purple” states.  That was what gave them the majority.  As usual, Louisiana will have a runoff to determine that seat.

Now that the Republicans have won control of both houses of congress, what do they plan to do?  Well, that depends upon whom you speak with.  Mitch McConnell last night talked about “working with the President on things we can agree on.”  While Ted Cruz talks about “pursuing every means possible to repeal Obamacare” and “investigating the President for his lawlessness”.  I am guessing that “lawlessness” is using Executive Authority far less than any of the previous four Presidents used it.  Those two quotes don’t sound like someone who is “willing to work with the President on things they agree on”.

That is going to be the problem with a Republican controlled congress.  There are two basic wings of the Republican Party right now.  One is an establishment wing, which by the way, worked diligently to keep the crazies from winning the primaries in many states, and the far right-wing side of the party that is only interested in power and not governing.

If you think the last several years of obstructionism was bad, wait until the civil war breaks out between these two wings of the Republican Party.  From what he said in his acceptance speech last night, I don’t think Mitch McConnell has been watching the train-wreck called the House Of Representatives.  Does he really believe that he will be able to rein in nut jobs like Ted Cruz where Boehner was unable to?  If he can, he will show that he is an even more masterful politician than I have given him credit as being.

So, where can McConnell find things that the President will agree with him on?  Well the first thing will be the Transpacific Protocol (TPP).  This is a trade agreement with most of the Asian countries we don’t already have a trade agreement with.  However, as with all past trade agreements, we can expect to lose between 500,000 and 1 million high paying factory jobs.  That is not meant as a scare tactic, it is just basic fact!  Look at other trade agreements like NAFTA.

With the TPP we will also see a lot more dumping of cheap foreign steel into our market.  We are already facing the possible collapse of our steel industry because of this dumping practice from Korea.  If the TPP goes through, it will probably collapse completely.  So, our military will have its equipment built using “foreign” steel.  Which by the way is illegal.  So, with a lot of “outsourcing” at stake, you can expect the Republican Senate to “fast track” the agreement.

They will probably find some common ground on reforming laws regulating the NSA.  That would actually be a good thing.  Of course, if another terrorist attack takes place in our country, the Republicans will quickly remove any reforms placed on intelligence gathering against our own citizens in the name of security.  So, this item is not necessarily something they will agree on.

That is about all I can think of where McConnell and the President may find common ground.  When it comes to the economy, taxes, education, the environment, regulations, and the social safety nets, there is no common ground to be found.  The Republicans will bring out their failed economic policies of giving the rich tax cuts, gutting corporate taxes, which 1 in 4 American companies already don’t pay, and eliminating Social Security and Medicare as we know it.  Their problem is that if they go after Social Security and Medicare, they will also be going up against the Tea Party which wants government programs eliminated, except for Social Security and Medicare.  Seems the majority of Tea Party people are already collecting them.

The military budget will be vastly increased.  This will be done in the name of security.  After all, we need the military to “fight wars in other countries so we don’t have to fight terrorism here” has been a Republican cry since 9/11.  Unfortunately, the Veterans Administration won’t see their budget dramatically increased.  Rather the Republicans will try to dismantle it.  They will use the same “voucher” scheme to privatize the VA and reduce veteran benefits as much as they can.  Even if it means these needy vets pay a lot out-of-pocket.

Of course other social safety nets will come under attack.  Food stamps, welfare, WIC, Medicaid, and unemployment insurance will see either reductions or attempts to eliminate them.  The minimum wage increase at the Federal Level is all but dead for now.  Many of these Republicans want to eliminate the minimum wage altogether.  Even though strong red states voted to increase the minimum wage yesterday, and an increase will increase jobs and reduce dependence on the very same social safety nets the Republicans hate so much.

We will see the IRS, Department of Labor, Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Education, and Department of Commerce under attack.  They will try to eliminate all of these departments because they are the ones that put too much “regulation” on businesses.  We will probably see legislation opening our National Parks up to oil and gas drilling.  We will also see the end of subsidies for “green” companies who are developing renewable energy to take us off of oil and gas completely.

There will be no confirmation hearings on any of the open court judges or cabinet positions.  If the President has appointed someone to a post, the Republicans will not approve them.  We haven’t had a Surgeon General for years because the Republicans won’t even allow a hearing on his appointment.  Not because he is unqualified, but because he wrote something the right-wing doesn’t like.  The Surgeon General is the position that helps coordinate agencies like the CDC and NIH in fighting infectious diseases like Ebola.

If a Supreme Court position should come open, we will have eight Supreme Court Justices for at least 3 years because the Republicans won’t approve a nomination by the President.  They will surely call him or her too “liberal”.  It is possible that if one of the “liberal” justice positions open, they won’t complain about the appointee too much since it won’t affect the 5-4 majority the conservatives already have.  But I wouldn’t count on that.

Yesterday, the President offered a meeting with the new leaders of the House and Senate.  All of the media will be on hand and talk about what was said and what can be done.  But, I am more interested in what will surely be a secret meeting between the Republican leadership and the Koch Brothers.  You don’t really think the Koch Brothers will just stay quiet now that hey spent hundreds of millions of dollars to buy this election do you?  That is where the real Republican Agenda will be set.

I don’t know what is going to be more excruciating to watch in the next couple of years.  The continued lack of governing from the Republicans or the potential civil war in their ranks.  There are already signs of turmoil since McConnell said he was willing to sit down with the President to work on things they can agree on.  The Canadian Senator was even hesitant yesterday when he was asked if he would support Mitch McConnell as the Majority Leader.  The right-wing of the Republican party doesn’t want to work with the President.  They want to impeach him.  Sorry, you can’t “work with” someone you absolutely hate.  So we can only hope that the President’s Veto Pen in handy and he is courageous enough to use it.

It has been said that you should be careful of what you wish for, because you may get it.  McConnell wished to be the Senate Majority Leader.  It appears he is going to get his wish.  After six months of having the title, he may rethink his wish.  If the right-wing rebels, like I think it will, he will be the face of failure!  And don’t think conservative pundits like Fox News or Limbaugh won’t be quick to point their fingers at him.

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Guess what is on the ballot in Alabama?  There is an initiative to create a state constitutional amendment that would outlaw Sharia Law.  Pat Robertson was the driving force behind this movement.  Oklahoma has already passed such an amendment, but the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional.  Other states have passed similar laws, but they called them “foreign laws”, instead of Sharia.

Now, no one that I know has ever called Pat Robertson one of the great thinkers of our time.  But, maybe, just maybe he is onto something.  Now before you start calling me Islamaphobic, please hear me out on this.  The problem for conservatives on this issue is that they haven’t thought this out completely.  That is not surprising since they don’t think out anything beyond knee-jerk reactions.

See, according to the conservatives behind this initiative, Sharia Law only refers to Islamic Laws.  They are wrong.  It basically refers to  the moral code and religious law of a prophetic religion.  It is clear that Christianity is also a prophetic religion.  Therefore, Sharia Law can be Christian as well as Islamic or Judean.

So, let’s look at just a couple of broad interpretations of Sharia Law.  First, under Sharia Law, women are considered second class citizens.  They are openly discriminated against.  It is even legal for a husband to beat his wife for insubordination.  It is illegal for a female heir to inherit the same amount as a male heir.  Women are not allowed to earn the same pay as men doing the same work.  Therefore, if Alabama passes this initiative, it is right to assume that unequal pay for the same work would be illegal in Alabama.  Therefore, every woman who is currently not being paid the same salary for the same work as their male counterparts must be given an immediate raise.

Sharia Law prohibits all forms of homosexuality, including same-sex marriage.  It allows private citizens to discriminate against homosexuals.  If the initiative in Alabama is passed, it will instantly become illegal for Alabama not to recognize same-sex marriages or to allow any discrimination against homosexuals.  That includes being able to fire someone simply because they are homosexual.

These are just two issues that would have to be overturned or recognized if Sharia Law is banned in Alabama.  If the state refuses to recognize same-sex marriage or allow women to continue to receive less pay than a man doing the same work, they would be allowing Sharia Law to be practiced in their state.  That would be against their own laws.

Furthermore, all prayers in all government activities, like opening of the state assembly or in public schools would also be immediately banned.  Sharia Law clearly allows for prayers at such places.  Therefore, the state would have to immediately outlaw all forms of prayer in public areas.  Plus, the Ten Commandments would have to be taken down from all of the Alabama court houses and other government buildings.

Religious scenes like the Nativity Scene would be immediately outlawed on all government property regardless of who pays for it.  By allowing such religious scenes to continue to be displayed would be a violation of the ban on Sharia Law which clearly endorses such activities.

The list goes on and on.  What the conservatives in Alabama with their initiative of banning Sharia Law actually is doing is taking religion completely out of government.  So, it could be argued that they are merely endorsing the First Amendment that already enforces a separation of church and state.

Since American Law is known for its broad interpretations, all of these items are real possibilities if Alabama is successful in outlawing Sharia Law.  Maybe that would be a good thing.  I am quite sure that imaginative lawyers could find arguments using the anti-Sharia Law to poke holes in other social issues like birth control, abortion, voter suppression, and others.

If this initiative does pass, instead of immediately challenging the constitutionality of it, lawyers should start using the ban to stop the discrimination that is the norm in many parts of the country, including Alabama.  I would love to see a good lawyer use these idiotic laws against the conservatives to finally smash their conservative social agenda.  That would be a fight worth watching.  Besides the conservative fight against using this law to outlaw their agenda would show the country once and for all their hypocrisy in just about everything.

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As my readers know, I rarely tell people what to do.  I have offered suggestions on why it is important to vote this mid-term and what I envision would happen if the ultra-conservatives win the Senate.  There are several extremely close races that will determine the outcome of the elections, and the direction that ultra-conservatives will try to move the country.  Naturally, if the ultra-conservatives win the Senate, they will yell that it was a “mandate” against everything Obama.  If they don’t win the Senate, they will find something like “voter fraud” to express why they didn’t win.

Our free speech guaranties have made it very possible for us, as normal people, to either express happiness over our political outcomes, or to bitch about them.  It is our right to bitch about things.  We have worked hard to ensure that these rights exist.  Our service members have fought wars to ensure our right to bitch whenever we want.

The problem has become that too many people don’t bother to vote, and then bitch about the outcome.  They use the tired excuse of “they are all alike, so why bother.”  The last several elections have proven beyond reasonable doubt that “they are NOT all alike.”  There are vast differences between the two political parties.

Those differences and the policies that will surely come from the winner, will have a major impact on our country, our economy, and our people.  When I say our people, I mean YOU!  That is something that you really need to think about when you decide to vote or not tomorrow.  Mid-term elections are generally low turnout events.  People think that just because the President isn’t being determined, it really doesn’t matter as much.  But, it matters just as much as if the President was being decided.

The mid-terms this year will determine who runs Congress.  How Congress behaves and what laws they will try to impose on us is the big item that needs to be thought about.  The one item that I noticed is that this mid-term election has resulted in more money being spent on the races than any race in our history.  Over $4 Billion Dollars has been spent on this election.  Since about 75% of it has come from ultra-conservative groups and billionaires, they must see the importance of this mid-term election.

The winner will have an upper hand in determining everything from economics, education, environment, foreign policy, gender issues, heath, immigration, religious beliefs, and a host of other freedoms and policies.  At the State level, the elections will determine a host of things from abortion to voting rights, and everything in between.  That is why the ultra-conservatives are spending so much money on these elections.

So, it comes down to whether or not you vote.  You have the right to vote as they say.  But, more importantly, you have a DUTY to vote.  Throughout my life I have heard all the talk about how “freedom isn’t free” and that our service members “pay for our freedom”.  Well, the one thing that civilians in this country has a duty to perform is to VOTE!

Naturally, I prefer that people vote for progressive policies and candidates.  However, what is more important is that you actually vote.  Voting is a way to let our representatives know whether or not we agree with their policies.  Large turnouts can give one party a mandate to put into place their ideas.  On the other hand, a low turnout doesn’t give either party any kind of mandate.  It doesn’t even allow either party to realistically know if their policies are favored by the majority of the public.

Therefore, it is imperative that every registered voter cast a ballot.  The winner will say that the silence of the majority of voters is a backing of their ideas.  It is not.  The only way to show backing or opposition to ideas is to vote.  If you don’t vote, you lose your right to bitch.  You may still have that constitutional right to bitch, but in essence you have given up your right to bitch.  In order to be heard, you must exercise your duty and vote.  If you don’t, just shut up!

In past articles I laid out my opinions about why I have voted progressive.  I believe that is the only way to keep our freedoms and grow our economy and society.  I don’t care if you agree with me or not.  I only want you to go to the polls and vote.  If you don’t, I don’t want to hear any complaints from you about any future policies that you disagree with.

Everyone lately want to ‘Thank a Vet.”  If you really want to thank us veterans, GO TO THE POLLS AND VOTE!  That is really “thanking the vets”.  Otherwise, just shut up.

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