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Archive for the ‘Legal Issues’ Category

Speaker John Boehner allowed a vote on a clean bill to fund DHS through the end of the fiscal year.  Miracle of miracles, it passed rather convincingly.  All of the pundits have accused Boehner of “caving into the President” instead of telling you the truth.  The truth is that the whole fiasco over the President’s Executive Order on immigration did not have to happen.  The truth is that if John Boehner actually did his job two years ago, we would have seen the bi-partisan Immigration Reform Bill that the Senate sent to the House passed.

Republicans want you to believe that the President overreached his power.  They don’t tell you that their St. Ronald Reagan gave amnesty to over 5 million undocumented immigrants through an executive order.  They want you to believe that the President isn’t serious about “deporting” undocumented immigrants.  They don’t tell you that this administration has deported more undocumented immigrants than the three previous administrations before it combined.

They want to tell you that the border with Mexico is a sieve allowing millions of people to simply “walk across” the border.  They don’t tell you that under this administration the resources including manpower has quadrupled from previous administrations.

The Senate’s Immigration Reform Bill would have addressed many of these issues and more.  For example, under this bill we would have E-Verify in place so employers could ensure they were not hiring undocumented immigrants.  It would have placed severe penalties on employers who willing hired undocumented immigrants.  It would have even allowed our enforcement resources to focus on felons trying to come into the country rather than families already here.

There are a whole lot of other things in the bill that would have made immigration reform something that would benefit America.  Hell, even the U.S. Chamber of Commerce favored passage of the bill.  But no, John Boehner wouldn’t, and still won’t even bring it up for discussion.

All of this is caused by two factors.  The first is that John Boehner is too afraid of the wacko based wing in his own party.  The other is something called the Hastert Rule.  Speaker Dennis Hastert decided that he would only bring up bills to the floor of the House if he had a majority of the majority favoring the bill.  It was under his leadership that this “rule” first came into being.  Every Republican Speaker since has followed this insanity.

The real purpose of the Hastert Rule is to shield the Speaker from any criticism within his own party.  By going along with this idiocy, the Speaker just merely has to say “the majority of my caucus was not in favor of it” to avoid any responsibility for not doing his job.  John Boehner has relied on this “rule” since he became Speaker and we have had over four years of gridlock as a result.

It is almost like John Boehner is using this “rule” to justify his lack of leadership.  As a result, instead of governing like a Speaker of the House is expected to do, he hides behind a fictitious “rule” to keep his position.  As a result, the employees of the Federal Government face fiscal crisis after fiscal crisis.  They face government shutdown after government shutdown.  The paychecks they depend on to pay their mortgages, car loans, credit card debt, and health insurance are all at the mercy of a lousy Speaker of the House.

If everyone really wants this mess to go away, if they want to see the Executive Order on immigration go away, all John Boehner needs to do is dump the Hastert Rule and allow discussion and a vote on the Senate’s Immigration Reform Bill.  The coalition that passed the clean DHS funding bill would pass the Immigration Reform Bill.  This law would override the President’s Executive Order.  In fact, it would have made it unnecessary in the first place.

The only way to truly govern is to build bi-partisan consensus on legislation that will benefit the country.  It is not blocking the other party in Congress out and only passing bills that the “majority of the majority” favor.  If John Boehner really wants to govern, as he says, he should dump the Hastert Rule and start to govern.

Build consensus on legislation, bring it to the floor for debate, and hold a vote on it.  If it passes with amendments, sit down with the Senate and hammer out a compromise to get it passed by both Houses.  That is governing.  It is also something that seems foreign to John Boehner, so I am not holding my breath for him to act.

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We keep hearing the right-wing use the term “American Exceptionalism” anytime they want to criticize something.  When the AP History curriculum was unveiled, they cried that it didn’t offer enough history about “American Exceptionalism.”  Whenever they get the chance to use the term, they jump on it.  But, what does American Exceptionalism really mean?

Is it supposed to mean that Americans are an exceptional people?  Is it supposed to mean that America is an exceptional place?  When they use the term are they saying that all Americans are exceptional regardless of race, religion, national origin, sex, or sexual orientation?  Maybe they think that America can do no wrong and that is why it is exceptional.

Actually, “American Exceptionalism” is just another meaningless term that gets thrown around to make people feel good about the country.  It has no definition because it doesn’t exist.  In order to be truly exceptional, a country needs to learn from their past faults and correct them.  Have we really done that?

If you listened to Bibi yesterday, you could easily come away with the idea that he doesn’t think America is so exceptional.  Basically, he told us that we are not smart enough to understand how to negotiate with an enemy.  He even told us we were naïve about trusting other countries.  That doesn’t sound like he thinks very highly of “American Exceptionalism.”

In order to better understand this false term, we need to look at some of the less than exceptional things we did as a nation.

We are a country that held slaves.  Our Founding Fathers owned people in order to farm their plantations, serve in the house as maids and other servants, and complete general duties they were too lazy to do for themselves.  I never understood the economics of slavery, but they seemed to think it was cheaper to own slaves than to pay others to do the work for them.  As a matter of fact we were one of the last Western Nations to abolished slavery.

After slavery was abolished, discrimination was institutionalized through what became known as the Jim Crowe laws.  These laws made it legal to discriminate against people because of the color of their skin.  During World Wars I and II we drafted African-Americans into the army but segregated them from the regular, or white, troops.

When I was in school during the 1950s, we read a lot about World War II.  The Bataan Death March was very prevalent in our history books.  That was an atrocious, brutal violation of the Geneva Convention which the Japanese had not signed because they believed that they were exceptional.

On the other hand, there was very little mention of the “Trail of Tears” we forced upon Native Americans.  President Jackson decided that Native Americans were not welcome on the East Coast.  So, he rounded them all up and deported them to the Oklahoma Territory.  Thousands of Native Americans died along the trail.  Our history books said very little about that.

Although our history books talked about the Holocaust carried out by Nazi Germany, it did not talk about the genocide that America committed against Native American Tribes once we began expanding westward.  Our history books talked about Native Americans as “savages” who needed to be “tamed.”  They talked about the Indian Wars and how the Indians slaughtered hundreds of settlers.  They failed to mention that America slaughtered thousands of Indians in the name of progress.  It wasn’t until after I graduated from High School that I read about the atrocity at Wounded Knee.

Things like the AP History curriculum allows for discussions about these issues and others in our past.  What is wrong with that?  Look, America has done some wonderful things both at home and abroad.  But, we have done some horrible things both at home and abroad, too.

Our government was involved in overthrowing other governments, like the democratically elected government of Iran in the 1950s, because we were afraid they may get closer to the Soviet Union than us.  How is that exceptional?  Iran wasn’t the only country this happened in either.  We supported brutal dictatorships in Latin and South America that killed thousands of their own people.  How is that exceptional?

How is it exceptional when too many of our children attend underfunded and dilapidated public schools while states keep slashing education funds?  How is it exceptional to allow corporations to get rich, while paying their workers wages at or below the poverty line while refusing to raise the minimum wage?  How is it exceptional that too many people including low-income families, the elderly, veterans, and the disabled are forced to live in poverty and not have enough to eat while cutting food stamp funding?  How is it exceptional when it is necessary to put labels on people so we can differentiate between groups?

How is it exceptional when women get paid less for doing the same job as a man?  How is it exceptional when there are laws restricting voting rights?  How is it exceptional when legislatures pass laws that allow discrimination against our fellow citizens?  How is it exceptional when there are laws to ban people of the same-sex from getting married thus getting the same rights to inheritance, health insurance coverage as other married people?

We have heard other nations talk about their exceptionalism or superiority in the past.  Alexander the Great’s Empire, the Egyptian Empire, the Roman Empire, the Persian Empire, the British Empire, the Soviet Union, and Nazi Germany all claimed to be superior to everyone else.  All claimed to be a “master race” of some kind.  Or, they claimed that God, or the gods, was on their side.  Now we are hearing how “God Blessed America.”  Is that why we are supposed to be exceptional?

Only when we recognize that we are all part of one race, the human race, when we recognize that religion is a personal belief and allow each other their own beliefs, when we recognize that all humans deserve the same civil rights as everyone else regardless of race, religion, sex, nationality, or sexual orientation, can we then maybe claim to be exceptional.

When I hear someone talk about “American Exceptionalism,” I only hear them claim that we, America, is better than everyone else.  That sounds too much like all the other nations and empires of the past.  They all ended up the same way.  Just a few pages in the history books.  Once America becomes exceptional at home, the world may then see us as exceptional as well.

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I just don’t know what the right-wing is thinking.  Or, if they are thinking at all.  We have seen the right-wing go completely off the rails.  This isn’t really anything new, the right-wing goes off the rails quite a lot.  But, things seem to be getting worse rather than better.

The other day at CPAC Gov. Scott Walker said he is ready to take on ISIS as President because he “took on 100,000 union protesters” in Wisconsin.  He also said that Ronald Reagan firing the air traffic controllers who went on strike in the 1980s was “the greatest foreign policy decision in my lifetime.”

I am sure that all workers out there who belong to the dwindling unions are very happy to hear how they are the same as ISIS or that fighting them has something to do with foreign policy.  How could we have ever let unions form in this country since, as Gov. Walker seems to think, they are foreigners trying to damage America?

We also heard all of the so-called “front-runners” for the Republican nomination compare themselves to St. Ronald Reagan.  However, if Ronald Reagan gave a speech at CPAC today, he would be booed out of the place.  All of these wackos seem to forget that Ronald Reagan was not interested in a balanced budget.  He ran very high deficits.

They all seem to forget that Ronald Reagan did not fight against abortion as these radicals have.  Yes, he professed his belief in god, but he was willing to let the Roe v. Wade decision stand.  In many ways, Ronald Reagan was a lot more of a “social liberal” than they seem to remember.  Even some of his past policy advisors agree Ronald Reagan would not stand a chance at CPAC.

Everyone at CPAC railed against ISIS and Sharia Law.  The all espoused how ISIS must be eliminated, and they all seem to think it will be easy, and outlaw Sharia Law everywhere.  Hell, last November, Georgia even had an anti-Sharia law initiative on the ballot.

Yes, the right-wing has gone off the rails again.  The Tea Party and their allies in the Conservative Christian Cult are trying to start another “crusades” against Islam throughout the world.  All the while they are quietly trying to set up their own version of a “theocracy” right here in America.  According to their “agenda” if you are not Christian, you should not have any rights.

In California, this has been taken to one of the most extreme measures you can think of.  See, in 1911, California changed their constitution to allow ballot initiatives.  All you need to do is pay $200 to file your initiative, then get signatures from 5% of the total votes in the last gubernatorial election.

Well, one lawyer in California ponied up his $200 and submitted a really dangerous initiative.  He calls it “The Sodomite Suppression Act.”  Yes, it is exactly what you think it is.  He wants to outlaw all forms of same-sex sex.  But, outlawing it is not enough for this wacko.  His bill says “that any person who willingly touches another person of the same gender for purposes of sexual gratification be put to death by bullets to the head or by any other convenient method.”

It also says:

No person shall distribute, perform, or transmit sodomistic propaganda directly or indirectly by any means to any person under the age of majority. Sodomistic propaganda is defined as anything aimed at creating an interest in or an acceptance of human sexual relations other than between a man and a woman. Every offender shall be fined $1 million per occurrence, and/or imprisoned up to 10 years, and/or expelled from the boundaries of the state of California for up to life.

His “law” makes it illegal for a “sodomite” to hold public office or even work for a government agency.  There is a lot of other stupid stuff in it, but one that really stands out, if you aren’t sick enough already, says:

The state has an affirmative duty to defend and enforce this law as written, and every member of the public has standing to seek its enforcement and obtain reimbursement for all costs and attorney’s fees in so doing, and further, should the state persist in inaction over 1 year after due notice, the general public is empowered and deputized to execute all the provisions hereunder extra-judicially, immune from any charge and indemnified by the state against any and all liability.

And why does he think this is so important?  Because he believes that if this law is not passed, we are all doomed to follow in the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah.  His justification for this idiocy says:

Seeing that it is better that offenders should die rather than that all of us should be killed by God’s just wrath against us for the folly of tolerating-wickedness in our midst, the People of California wisely command, in the fear of God…..

He even stipulates that this law must be posted in “all public schools.”

ISIS is a barbaric and cruel group of wackos trying to establish their personal beliefs on a region of the world.  We all know that.  They are dangerous and most people think something needs to be done about them.  The debate is over what and how this “something” should be.

Okay, even if I agree with that, can someone please explain to me how this “initiative” is any different from ISIS and their policies?  Can someone please explain to me how “executing” gays in this country is any different from ISIS killing non-Muslims in Iraq?  The simple answer is you cannot explain the differences because there are none.  Both groups are “terrorists,” as far as I am concerned.

This initiative is just another step in the “theocracy” that the Conservative Christian Cult wants to unleash on America.  The only difference it this goofball isn’t trying to sugar-coat it.  If this type of hate continues, the word “sodomite” will be replaced with “Muslim” or “non-White” or “non-Christian.

I wonder which speaker at CPAC will be the first to say anything against this “initiative.”  I am rather wondering which one will be the first to endorse it.

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The FCC ruled on its net neutrality decision.  The new regulations bar companies such as AT&T Inc. and Comcast Corp. from blocking or slowing online traffic, or offering faster service in return for payment.  The idea is to ensure that the internet remains open to everyone.

The FCC vote seeks to settle more than a decade of debate about whether the Internet should be a highway offered to all users on equal terms, or whether broadband providers can levy fees and restrict access.

Of course, Republicans are against net neutrality.  Or, at least the type where companies can’t slow down or charge extra for faster service.  House Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, said lawmakers would try to stop what he called the FCC’s “misguided scheme.”

The vote also brought wireless service under net neutrality rules as well.  That didn’t sit well with Meredith Attwell Baker, president of CTIA-The Wireless Association, a Washington-based trade group with members including AT&T and Verizon Communications Inc., who said the ruling was  “disappointing and unnecessary.”

Under this ruling, the agency has taken authority to judge whether Internet service providers offer fair terms for accepting Web traffic from the likes of video streamer Netflix Inc. and data shippers such as Cogent Communications Holdings Inc. and Level 3 Communications Inc.

It also allows the agency to judge mobile deals that exempt services such as music streaming from counting against subscribers’ data caps. The agency can accept complaints and might ban an anti-competitive plan.  Venture capitalists had told the FCC that these deals violate the concept that all Web traffic should receive equal treatment.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said:  “The action that we take today is an irrefutable reflection of the principle that no one, whether government or corporate, should control free and open access to the Internet.”  Apple Inc. co-founder Steve Wozniak was one of the people in the spectator gallery and said that this action is “an indication that the people can sometimes win.”  He went on to say “This is a victory for the people, the consumers, the average Joes.”

You may wonder why the Republicans are so against this ruling?  Well it is very simple.  They only see dollars and cents for their contributors.  If internet providers are allowed to decide which sites will be in their infamous “fast lane” and which will be slowed down, the internet providers will essentially be allowed to control what you see or get on the internet.

You will hear the Republicans complain that all of this is “government overreach” and that is why they are against it.  They are lying.  They want companies to control the highway known as the internet.  They want to be able to bully certain providers to say what can be seen and what cannot.

Republican legislatures all across the country are slashing education funding including university funding.  They have been attacking education like it is a cancer that is making our citizens too smart.  The internet offers open access to sites that help us learn more about today’s world.  With an intelligent constituency, Republicans fear their “fear mongering” won’t work anymore.  So, they want to put the clamp down on the internet as well as public education.

Since the internet and wireless are both monopolies, it would be easy to bully them into doing just that.  This isn’t just about streaming like Netflix, it is about education as well.  As a result, they want internet providers and wireless providers to be able to charge extra for internet users to get into their “fast lane” so their streaming will not be hindered.

How long do you think it would be before special interest groups started bullying internet providers to “slow down” or deny access through their services to users who do not comply with their ideals?  The AP History curriculum is under attack in several states.  What would stop them from bullying or passing a law that denies access to the very parts of the curriculum they don’t like over the internet?

We will see various lawsuits over this ruling.  We will see Republicans introduce legislation trying to overturn this ruling.  As David Cohen, executive vice president of Comcast, the largest U.S. cable company, said the FCC action portends “inevitable litigation and years of regulatory uncertainty.”

The real problem for Republicans in this ruling is that these rules are designed to preserve the Internet as an open medium.  Open mediums are not what the Republicans want.  They want control.  They are even willing to let internet providers be their arm for control over what’s on the internet.

This fight isn’t over.  We still have too many conservative judges , even a conservative Supreme Court, that can overturn these rulings.  Only time will tell if they stand or not.  If they do, then the people have finally won one over the oligarchs and Republicans.

 

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At precisely 0000 hours (midnight) tomorrow night, the Department of Homeland Security is going to run out of money unless Republicans can get their “stuff” together.  The Republicans who want you to believe that they are the only ones interested in protecting our country from terrorists, are about to let the one department charged with protecting us from terrorists run out of money.

I am not overly concerned about terrorists running amuck in the country, however.  We all know that about 200,000 members of the various agencies under DHS will continue working.  They are considered “essential” personnel.  However, they will be working for an IOU from the government instead of actually being paid.

This tragedy is all tied to immigration reform.  Our immigration laws are archaic at best and need to be reformed.  Two years ago the Senate passed a bi-partisan Immigration Reform Bill and sent it to the House.  It has been languishing in John Boehner’s desk drawer ever since.  This was truly a bi-partisan bill.  Even 14 Republican Senators voted for the bill, and several Republicans were involved in its creation.  Should have been an easy task for Boehner to pass it in the House.

But, once again John Boehner proved that he is only interested in having the title of “Speaker of the House” rather than acting like one.  His bellicose comments about immigration reform are just another example of his unwillingness to “govern”.  He is too afraid of the Tea Party wackos in his caucus to try to pass any meaningful legislation.

After over a year of Boehner derailing a vote on the Immigration Reform Bill, the President issued an Executive Order detailing some changes in the deportation policies.  The Republicans went bonkers, as expected.  Whether or not you think the President’s actions was an overreach or not, I do not think so, is irrelevant.  Something has to be done about our Immigration Laws.

The President’s Executive Order does not make it easier for people to cross the border.  It simply lays out a plan for those already here with U.S. Citizen relations to remain without fear of deportation.  It also gives them a pathway to seek “legitimacy” as the Republicans would say.  It is not amnesty as Republicans are telling everyone.

As a result of this “fight” the Republican House passed a funding bill last year that put the DHS on the spot.  They funded every department of the government except DHS for a full year.  They funded DHS only through tomorrow and the Senate went along.  Then they passed a bill funding DHS but only if the Executive Order was withdrawn.

Naturally, the Senate Democrats filibustered the bill in that chamber.  So, now Mitch McConnell wants to pass a clean DHS funding bill and introduce a bill that would withdraw the Executive Order.  But that puts John Boehner in a corner.  He still has to contend with his wacko fringe group.  And, since he is loath to actually lead and fight the wackos, the idea of a clean bill passing the House is up-in-the-air.

The only way Boehner will be able to pass a clean DHS funding bill in the House is to use the Democrats to get the votes needed.  Although he did use them a few times in the past, that is also something that Boehner is loath to do.  He is afraid that if he goes to the Democrats to pass a clean funding bill, he will face another coup in his caucus.

All of this nonsense was avoidable.  If John Boehner had allowed a debate and vote on the bi-partisan Senate Bill, it would have passed the House.  I am sure there would have been amendments added by the fringe group, but those would have been worked out in a joint committee between the House and Senate.  There would have been no need for the President to issue his Executive Order in the first place.

With the Immigration Reform Bill actual law instead of collecting dust in Boehner’s desk drawer, we would not be in this situation right now.  The other day Boehner said about the DHS funding bill they sent to the Senate: “We did our job, now it is time for the Senate to do theirs.  This will pass if the Democrats stop saying “no” to everything.”

That is really rich coming from a man who has been sitting on the “fix” to all of this for two years!  John Boehner is the worst Speaker of the House in my lifetime.  He makes Newt Gingrich look like a reasonable man.  However, the Citizens United case in the Supreme Court added fuel to this flaming issue.

This is the kind of thing that happens when money is allowed to control politics.  These fringe wackos that Boehner is afraid of are financed by the likes of the Koch Brothers and others.  Their money has polluted and corrupted our political process to the point of stagnation.

Even still, it is John Boehner’s job to “govern” in the name of the People of the United States.  Something that, apparently, he is loath to do as well.  This whole dilemma was manufactured because John Boehner is more interested in holding the title rather than being the Speaker of the House.

There is no other reason for us to be in the predicament we are in over DHS funding.  Even big business and the Chamber of Commerce favor the Senate passed Immigration Reform Bill.  To stop this mess, all John Boehner needs to do is dust off the Senate Bill and bring it to floor of the House.  But he won’t.

I don’t use this word lightly, but John Boehner is basically a coward.  That is why we are waiting to see if there will be a partial government shutdown come midnight tomorrow night.

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The right-wing in this country want you to believe that if you allow them to enact “Christian Laws” into State and Federal Codes, everything will be perfect.  They want you to believe that their interpretation of what they call “sacred scripts” is the only way America can be perfect.  They tell you that they “love everyone and are not bigoted.”

However, their actions, as well as actions of right-wing Christians everywhere tell a different story.  These actions say that Christians are just as hateful and bigoted as any other religious group.  We have constantly heard about how evil Sharia Law is.  We have been told, erroneously, that there are “no go zones” in Europe because Muslims have put Sharia Law into place locally and Christians are afraid to venture into these areas.

There is also something that they are not telling you.  That Christian fundamentalists all over the world are creating more bigoted laws than we have since the end of World War II.  Here are just a few examples of just how unloving and hateful Christians really are.

Anti-Semitism is on the rise in Europe.

We all remember our history and the stories about the Holocaust during Nazi Germany’s rule in Europe.  What the right is not telling you is that anti-Semitism is on the rise in Europe.  And, it is not just Muslims who are anti-Semitic.

We have seen the murders of Jewish people just because they are Jewish.  We have seen Jewish cemeteries desecrated.  In Strassburg France hundreds of Jewish graves were desecrated just last week.  We have even seen a video that was made in France where people were hurling insults at Jews as they walked down the street.  These were not Muslims hurling the insults either.

Anti-Semitism is nothing new in Europe.  Programs were initiated against Jews for hundreds of years.  Entire villages were either wiped out or their residents forced to move out simply because they were Jews.  Then Hitler took it even further with the Holocaust.

In its 2014 report, the Community Security Trust in the UK reported the highest number of anti-Semitic incidents it had ever recorded. In London, the Metropolitan police recorded a 120 percent rise in anti-Semitic crime in 2014. With hate crimes generally underreported, the real figures are likely to be much higher.

Pediatrician In Michigan Refuses To Treat Infant of Same-Sex Couple.

A pediatrician in Michigan refused to treat an infant because that infant’s parents are a gay couple.  At first the pediatrician, Dr. Vanessa Roi, agreed to treat the infant.  But later “after much prayer” apparently had a change of heart.  When the couple arrived for the infant’s first “wellness check” they were greeted by a different doctor.

That doctor told the couple that Roi would not be seeing them at all.  As it turns out, Roi was so firm in her beliefs that she did not even go into the office that day so she wouldn’t have to see the couple and their child.  The other doctor agreed to treat the infant.

The irony is that it is not illegal in Michigan for a doctor to refuse treatment of a patient based on sexual orientation.  Of course the American Medical Association’s ethics code says differently.  Roi has not been a member of the AMA since 2001 according to her website.  But she is a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics which also says differently.

Since Roi “made this decision after much prayer” I guess she is saying that her Christian god allows discrimination against other humans.

Oklahoma Committee Sends “Preservation of Sovereignty and Marriage Act” To State House of Representatives

A Federal Judge has already ruled that Oklahoma’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional.  But, those “god-fearing” Christians in Oklahoma will not be deterred from discriminating against the LGBT community by a “silly Judge’s” decision.

Once you understand the contents of the bill, you see that it is even more ridiculous than the title.  This bill prohibits taxpayer funds, including government salaries, to be used for any activity that supports same-sex marriage. It also says that those who issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples can be subject to removal from office.

The state is trying to find a loophole where-by they can openly discriminate against the LGBT community.  Not by saying that same-sex marriage is illegal in the state, but rather by firing any official who issues a marriage license to same-sex couples.

Representative Emily Virgin, a Democrat who voted against the measure in committee on Tuesday, said: “No other state in the union has seen more anti-LGBT legislation introduced during this legislative session. The battleground is right here in Oklahoma.”

These are just a few examples of how right-wing Christians believe they will “make the world perfect.”  Of course there have been other stories about how they want to bring back prayer to public schools, place religious artifacts in court rooms, and allow business to openly discriminate against anyone they think goes against their beliefs.

This just shows that anytime we allow religious beliefs to bleed into society and our laws how other groups are targeted.   Christians have no more tolerance for those who believe differently than Muslims.  That is why the First Amendment says:  “The government shall not endorse any religion.”

I have said this before.  History is cyclical.  It is obvious that we have failed to learn from history, therefore we are doomed to repeat it.  Even if you agree with this nonsense, remember, at some point someone with more money and a louder bullhorn is going to come around and make your beliefs illegal.  That should be reason enough for everyone to fight this crap before it goes any further.

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In 2009 when the Affordable Healthcare Law was being debated, I was fully in favor of it.  I am still fully in favor of it today, but we are seeing what happens when this kind of healthcare law is allowed to be run by insurance companies.  One year into the program, we are seeing over 7 million people who have never had healthcare before now insured.  However, there are still problems with the plan.

Some 26 states have refused to expand Medicaid in there states even though it won’t cost them anything for at least 3 years.  That is leaving millions of poor people still not covered.  It has also created a two-tiered system where your health is important in half of the states but not the rest of them.

Additionally, SCOTUS is going to rule on the subsidies that go along with the ACA to help working poor pay for their coverage.  Conservative states are arguing that since they don’t run the “exchange” then their citizens are not supposed to get the Federal Subsidies to help these people pay for their coverage.  This is being called the “death by error” provision in the ACA.  If SCOTUS rules in favor of their argument, another 8 million people will lose their health coverage.  Almost all of them in conservative states.

But that is only the tip of the iceberg.  There is a more dastardly problem with the ACA that needs to be fixed.  Since insurance companies are the real driving force behind coverage, they have been caught actually lying to their customers.  As a result, many people are receiving care by out-of-network doctors and then being billed what is known as “balancing bills” by the provider.

This problem is not isolated to only some of the providers either.  One of the things that insurance companies did was to narrow their “network” providers.  This is the real driving force behind the “I lost my doctor” argument about the ACA.  The other hidden problem is that if a doctor has more than one office, which many do, not all of their offices are part of the same “networks.”  This results in people who actually do their research to ensure the doctor they choose is part of the network still being billed by the provider because they “chose the wrong office” of the doctor.

The other thing is that if you go to an emergency room after an accident, you may or may not be going to a hospital who is in your network.  Especially if you are traveling.  On top of that, even if the hospital is in the “network” the people treating you may not be part of that network.  As a result, you will still be billed by those treating you separately.  The doctor, the radiologist, the anesthesiologist and anyone else involved in your treatment may bill you separately because they are not part of the “network” even though they are in a hospital that is.

Unfortunately, because of the lobbying the insurance industry did when the bill was being crafted, you are stuck with the medical bill.  It makes one wonder how this would have played out if the “Government Option” had not been stripped from the original legislation.

If you wonder why it was stripped, you need look no further than Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut.  Connecticut is considered the “Insurance Capital” of the country.  They lobbied Sen. Lieberman hard and got him to say he would not vote for the ACA if it contained the “Government Option.”  As a result it was dropped.

The “Government Option” was intended to “keep insurance companies honest.”  By eliminating that option, insurance companies are anything but honest.  When Congress took the Government Option out of the ACA, I said it was a mistake.  You cannot have true competition when a law allows the industry to “run itself” without competition.  And with the loopholes in the ACA that the industry lobbied hard to keep, we are not being covered as well as we thought or as well as we should.

As a result, the ACA is causing some people to face real problems.  These are the sort of things that was envisioned to “be fixed” as time passed by Congress.  However, with Republicans firmly in charge of both houses, those “fixes” will never happen.

As a result, it is time to start ramping up pressure on Congress to consider a “Single Payer” insurance program.  Medicare works well for Seniors.  The VA works well, for the most part, for veterans.  A “single payer” system would work well for all Americans too.

Before you start in about the wait times at the VA remember those wait times are caused by a lack of facilities, a lack of doctors, especially specialists, and a lack of workers.  Besides, there were no measurable wait times until the two wars broke out and thousands of vets needed extra care.  Since health providers can make more money in private practice, we will always see a shortage at the VA who cannot pay them at the same income rates as private practice.

We will never have adequate healthcare in this country until all citizens have healthcare.  We will never see the costs of healthcare go significantly down until we stop allowing the industry to run itself.  Only true universal healthcare will help meet those goals.  Medicare for everyone is the answer.  The networks for Medicare are far bigger than the current “networks” the health industry is offering us.

The ACA is plagued with problems because of “greed” by the insurance companies rather than any thing else.  There aren’t supposed to be any monopolies in our country.  But, I think the Insurance Industry is a monopoly and it has us all by the short hairs, and that is what they want.  Whether you live or die, or be solvent or go bankrupt, is all dependent upon the health insurance industry.

That is what the industry wanted.  That is what Republicans wanted.  And, as usual, we are paying for it.

 

 

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