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The latest rampage from the conservative side is over Planned Parenthood.  Of course, this is nothing new, but it has really taken off with bogus videos claiming that Planned Parenthood is selling fetus tissue to get “rich.”  These videos have been heavily edited, and made secretly without the interviewees’ knowledge.  That all by itself is probably illegal in several states.

The problem is that conservatives are using what everyone knows to be bogus videos as ammunition to defund Planned Parenthood.  Currently, Planned Parenthood gets about $500 million dollars from the Federal Government.  That is just under one-third of its annual budget.

Here are some facts that conservatives are not telling you.  First, Planned Parenthood receives absolutely no money for abortion services.  There is a Federal Law banning the use of Federal Dollars for abortions.  So, Planned Parenthood, like everyone else who gets federal funding cannot use that money for abortions.

Secondly, there is nothing illegal about recovering the costs associated with donating tissue.  Planned Parenthood does not make a profit from recouping their costs.  And, they do not donate any tissue from an aborted fetus without the mother’s consent.  That consent is given before the operation.

Third, fetus tissue is used to help research into vaccines, birth defects, spinal cord injuries, Parkinson’s disease and a bunch of other medical conditions.  It is not illegal to use fetus tissue for this research.  Plus, the end results of this research could have profound effects on the overall health of the nation.

Now look, if I really believed that Planned Parenthood was selling “body parts” for a profit, I would be the first to scream bloody murder.  Civilized people just don’t do that kind of thing.  But, since I have seen “unedited” versions of the infamous videos, I know for certain that is not happening.  Plus, investigations into the matter have also shown this not to be true.

But, there is another side of the story that conservatives never want to talk about.  If Congress defunds Planned Parenthood, the costs for Medicaid and other social safety nets will dramatically increase.  Since Planned Parenthood is the only place that many poor women can go for birth control, there will be an increase in unwanted pregnancies.

Now it is impossible to tell how many more unwanted pregnancies will actually occur, but you can bet that it will happen.  That means one of two things is going to be the result.  Either the number of abortions will increase, or the number of single mothers will increase.  In either case, costs will skyrocket.

Why will costs skyrocket:  Because the American taxpayer picks up 68 percent of costs of all unintended pregnancies in this country, mostly through Medicaid. And while contraceptives are relatively cheap, it costs more to give birth in the United States than anywhere else on Earth (in 2012, it averaged $9,775 for a vaginal delivery and $15,041 for a C-Section). That explains why, according to a study by the Guttmacher Institute, the government saves seven dollars for every dollar it spends on family planning.

Additionally, since many women with unintended pregnancies are single mothers, they will need additional help through WIC, SNAP and other social safety nets to feed their unwanted children.  Something conservatives also hate.

Of course, conservatives will harp on their plan to prevent pregnancy through “abstinence only” plans.  The problem with that “plan” is that is doesn’t work.  Did you know that Red States consistently have higher rates of teen pregnancy rates than Blue States?

Red States are the ones that don’t want proper sex education taught in their schools.  As a result, teens are still having sex, but they are having unprotected sex resulting in more pregnancies.  Abstinence only programs are a failure.  Teens who receive proper sex education are less likely to have an unintended pregnancy.

Finally, Planned Parenthood not only offers assistance in planning for a family.  It offers pre and post natal care to many poorer women.  Without that assistance, these women will have nowhere to go.  As a result, there will be higher health care costs for both the mother and the child.  Again, funded by Medicaid in most cases.

Planned Parenthood is also the only option for many women when it comes to breast cancer screening and a host of other medical care they cannot afford to get elsewhere.  Defunding Planned Parenthood will take that away from millions of women all across the country.

But, conservatives are not interested in all of this.  They are only interested in stopping abortions.  They don’t care what happens to a child once it is born, they only want to force a woman to give birth.  Maybe that is why according to the Guttmacher Institute, “the US unintended pregnancy rate is significantly higher than the rate in many other developed countries.”

Also, let’s be clear.  Unintended pregnancy is not necessarily an abortion issue.  It is more of a contraception and education issue.  By denying women access to affordable contraception, and denying teens education in the use and practice of contraception, unintended pregnancies will continue to happen.  Once the pregnancy happens, the woman is faced with two choices.  One is to have the child, and the other is to have an abortion.

Extremely poor women will have the child and be forced on more social safety net services.  Less poor will probably choose to have the abortion.  Meaning the abortion rate will increase and not decrease.  By the way, if you think outlawing abortion will stop it, think again.  Abortions were widely available in this country when it was outlawed.  The problem was it was performed by non-medical people.  The result was many deaths and permanent injuries to the woman.

A total of 18 Republicans have already said they are willing to shut down the government if they don’t get Planned Parenthood defunded.  It is obvious to me that they have not engaged their brains before going off on their rampage.  Then again, I guess you first have to have a brain in order to engage it.

When it comes to women’s health, birth control, and family planning, the conservatives in this country are seriously contributing to the problem.  They are doing nothing to help the problem because they refuse to engage their brains.  If Planned Parenthood is defunded, these problems will only get worse.

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The White House is expected to issue its final rule on reducing pollution emissions from power plants.  It is expected that power plants will be required to cut up to a third of its emissions under this rule.  The plan is going to be based on a state-by-state basis.  Meaning some states will have tougher mandates than others.

It is also expected that each state will get an additional two years to implement their new measures and standards.  So, instead of seeing full compliance by 2020 we are looking more at full compliance by 2022.  Of course the oil and coal industry are having fits over the upcoming new rules.

Then there is the Republican Candidates who absolutely hate the EPA and deny that the climate is changing.  At the Koch Brothers “bow and kiss the Koch ring” ceremony being held in California, the Canadian Senator actually claimed that climate change “ain’t happening.”  According to this whiz kid, nothing is changing in our climate.

He doesn’t mention that the warmest 14 years in recorded history has taken place since 2000.  Nor does he mention the fact that 2014 was the warmest year on record and that 2015 is on track to top 2014.  He claims that scientists and the government are “cooking the books” to show climate change that just isn’t happening.  He says satellite pictures prove that.  I don’t know which satellite pictures he is looking at, but I see a dramatic reduction in Arctic and Antarctic ice shelves in the ones I have seen.

This is the standard fare for Republicans.  Marco Rubio not long ago said he wants to shut down the EPA completely.  He claims that he is not in favor of poisoning our air and water, but he is willing to shut down the one agency that is mandated by law to protect our air and water.

Neither of these wonderful candidates even mention that childhood asthma and other illnesses affecting breathing are also at their highest in decades.  More people are suffering from breathing illness than ever before.  The reason we are seeing a dramatic increase in these illnesses is the very air we breathe.

I have argued before that this issue should be turned into a financial argument.  If we can change the emissions by switching to renewable energy, we will all win.  Cruz claims he wants to have a “logical” debate on the issue.  So, let me try once again.

The second largest expenditure for businesses in America is energy!  It follows closely behind manpower costs.  Since we are dependent upon fossil fuels for our energy production, those costs fluctuate dramatically.  When the price of oil goes down, energy costs go down.  When the price of oil goes up, so do energy costs.

On the other hand, once it is built, the annual cost of producing renewable energy like solar power and wind power are miniscule.  As a matter of fact, it is almost non-existent.  So, once the capital costs needed to build such power supplies are recouped, the power rates should be dramatically reduced across the board.

This goes for residential use as well.  I don’t know about anyone else, but my electric bill has been going up recently.  One of the reasons this year is because we have had a warmer than usual summer.  Meaning my a/c has been running more.  But, my costs started going up even before summer even started.

The unfortunate side to this is that the costs of setting up your own solar power at your house is still very expensive.  And, Republicans in many states have reduced the amount of tax credits you can take for purchasing and installing solar power at your house.  So, most people cannot afford to make the switch on their own.

By eliminating our dependence on fossil fuels, we will ultimately reduce our energy costs.  We will stop polluting our air and water, and we will save the planet.  All the while saving ourselves money and possibly jobs.  If energy costs go down, there is less incentive to move factories overseas because the reduced energy costs will off-set the manpower costs.

Additionally, if we eliminate pollution from our air and our water, our health will get better.  Since our health will get better, we will be spending less money on treating diseases that should not exist.  More savings for the average person’s pocketbooks and the government’s expenditures for things like Medicare and Medicaid.  How is that for helping to reduce the budget deficit.

Finally, there is the impact of acid rain.  Acid rain is caused by air pollution.  Acid rain is a major problem all across the country.  Acid rain is killing fish in our lakes.  It is damaging our cars.  It is killing our vegetation.  If we can eliminate air pollution, acid rain will dramatically decrease.  We will have more fish to catch and eat.  We won’t be spending thousands of dollars to repair damage to the finish on our cars.  And our plant life will make a comeback.  Thus creating more oxygen for everyone.

No one has to be a scientist to know the climate is changing.  Just watch your energy bills and look at past and present weather.  I remember extremely cold winters growing up in Chicago.  Those extremely cold winters have been declining over the years.  They haven’t stopped, just grew less frequent.  I have seen the amount of severe weather incidents go up over the years.  These are indications that the climate is changing whether you like it or not.

There is a big difference between weather and climate.  Weather affects us today.  Climate affects the weather in the future.  The warmer the planet gets, the more dramatic the weather will become.  The more dramatic the weather becomes, the more it affects us and costs us billions of dollars in disaster relief.

The last thing in the argument is that if we switch to renewable energy sources, the fossil fuel industries will not dry up and go away.  There will always be a need for oil, gas, and coal.  There are a lot of products that are made from these fossil fuels that will not simply disappear.

On the other hand, we will truly have independence from foreign governments for our energy.  We will truly have independence to forge our new factories because our energy costs will be so low we can start a new industrial revolution.  Just think of all the jobs that could be created.

There you have it Mr. Cruz.  That is my argument to switch to renewable energy.  However, since major conservative donors almost exclusively belong to the fossil fuel industry and chemical industry, I don’t expect you are really interested in having this discussion.  They won’t let you have that conversation because the end result will have a direct impact on their profits.  When fossil fuel industry profits fall, their contributions also fall.

Whenever I hear people like you talk about the climate change hoax, I understand that your denial isn’t about the needs and desires of the American People.  Your denial is all about protecting profits for those who make billions off high costs for gas, electricity, oil, coal, etc.  The wants and desires of the American People don’t really matter to you.  They don’t contribute enough to your campaign funds.

I eagerly await your reply to my argument.  What is your argument to keep delaying the switch to renewable energy and sticking with fossil fuels?  And, please try to speak like an adult and avoid your usual 20 second sound bites.

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There were two very tragic recent killings.  Both of the victims were unarmed.  Both victims never had a chance.  However, the outcry by the public to these two shootings have something to say about us as a people.  The first shooting was of an unarmed black man who was pulled over by a University of Cincinnati police officer.  The second was an unarmed lion in Africa by a Dentist.

You are immediately going to scream how could I possibly compare the two incidents?  I can compare them simply because the outcry from the general public is so different, that it begs the question “Have we become so desensitized to human on human violence that the killing of an animal in Africa is more important than the killing of an unarmed man by the very police supposed to protect him?”

When the University of Cincinnati police officer shot and killed the unarmed black man, the outcry was very predictable.  We so-called “bleeding heart liberals” were crying about the incident like it really mattered.  When the lion was killed, not only were we “bleeding heart liberals” crying about the incident like it really mattered, so was everyone else.

In the first incident, the unarmed black man was killed shortly after the police officer ordered him out of the car.  When he attempted to exit the car, he was shot and killed.  I did not see any thing in the video that would give the officer a reason to shoot him.  He never even made it out of the car before being shot in the head.

In the second incident, a famous lion was shot by a dentist with a bow and arrow.  According to the reports I read, the lion was not on the game reserve.  He was outside the reserve.  It is also reported that the lion was lured out of the reserve with fresh meat before being shot.  The lion was then beheaded after the wounded animal escaped for two hours before being killed.

Naturally, everyone blew a gasket over the killing of Cecil the lion.  He was famous after all.  Plus, he was protected by the government of Zimbabwe.  The dentist is facing the possibility of extradition back to Zimbabwe in order to face charges over the killing.

The University of Cincinnati police officer has been arrested and charged with murder.  He is currently out on bail, and remarkably wants his job back.  Something we have seen way too many times in our country.

The police officer has his backers.  They are willing to give excuses for why he shot and killed an unarmed man.  The dentist also has his backers.  These are so-called “big game hunters.”  I refuse to back either.  To me, “big game hunters” need to be castrated!  The very idea of killing an animal just to hang a “trophy” on your wall is disgustingly immature.

They will tell you that big game hunting is a sport.  They are lying.  Big game hunters are as much a sportsman as Jack-the-Ripper was or the University of Cincinnati police officer was.  Anyone sitting in hiding just to kill something is a coward and not a sportsman.  It says more about their inferiority syndrome than anything else.

Before you start yelling about me being anti-hunting, you are wrong.  I have no problem with the average hunter who kills for food.  That won’t sit well with the PETA crowd, but a simple fact of life says humans are carnivorous creatures.  As a result, we will kill animals for food.  Killing for food is hugely different from “trophy” hunting.

But, that brings us back to the point.  Why is there so much more of an uproar over the killing of an animal than there is over the killing of human being?  If Cecil was a human, you might hear the right-wing, especially those talking heads at Fox News saying things like:

Cecil should have know that he was leaving the reserve.

Cecil should have identified himself as being some famous and protected.

Cecil should have just listened to what he was being told.

Cecil is a deadly weapon all by himself.  He is huge after all.

Why did Cecil roar so loudly?  That would certainly make me panic, too.

Cecil should have been wearing a collar so the shooter would know he was a pet.

Now, if all of those comments sound ridiculous about Cecil, why do they sound so reasonable when speaking about a person?  Both “shooters” could be said to have “been doing their dangerous job.”  Which also would be stupid.  Unfortunately, that seems to be the reality of us today.  We are more willing to cry over the shooting and killing of a lion than we are over the shooting and killing of an unarmed person.

I am very saddened that Cecil the Lion was shot and killed.  If the dentist who killed him broke laws in the killing, he should be held responsible.  And, I don’t care if the jails in Zimbabwe are “hellholes” or not.  If he did break the law, he should simply be allowed to rot in them.

However, I will shed far more tears over the killing of DuBose by that University of Cincinnati police officer.  Sorry, but the killing of innocent people, especially by police officers who are sworn to protect those very people, is far more tragic than the killing of a lion.

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One of my college history professors once talked about the two chambers of Congress.  He explained that the House of Representatives would always have turmoil.  He based that idea on the fact that it was made up of a lot more people from varying parts of the country.  As a result, he claimed it would be more difficult to get a consensus on many issues.

On the other hand, he said, the Senate was considered more of the “adult” house in Congress.  Since each state only gets two seats in the Senate, and since the rules in the Senate were far more strict than in the House, it was much more likely that compromise would flourish in the Senate.

Way back then, that seemed like a reasonable concept.  I figured that with only 100 members in the Senate, it would be a lot easier for both sides to sit down and compromise on issues in order to get things accomplished.  The country would be able to move forward, and the rights of the minority population would be protected.

The idea that the Senate was the “adult” house of Congress took into consideration that both parties wanted to accomplish good things for the American people.  It took into consideration that compromise was a good thing.  It took into consideration that both sides knew they weren’t going to get everything they wanted.

Unfortunately, something happened along the way since my time in college.  That something became partisanship.  I am not talking about ideological partisanship.  I am talking about “my way or the highway” partisanship.  Believe it or not, this all started back in the 1980s.  It began with the election of Ronald Reagan as President.

Now, I am not going off on a bash Reagan campaign here.  I am simply stating facts as I see them.  This isolationism between the parties began when Reagan got the Fairness Doctrine cancelled in 1987.  If you don’t remember the Fairness Doctrine, here is a simple definition of it.

The Fairness Doctrine was a policy of the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC), introduced in 1949.  It required the holders of broadcast licenses to present controversial issues of public importance and to do so in a manner that was, in the Commission’s view, honest, equitable and balanced.

It had two basic elements: It required broadcasters to devote some of their airtime to discussing controversial matters of public interest, and to air contrasting views regarding those matters. Stations were given wide latitude as to how to provide contrasting views: It could be done through news segments, public affairs shows, or editorials. The doctrine did not require equal time for opposing views but required that contrasting viewpoints be presented.  If stations did not follow the Fairness Doctrine, they could lose their license.

The demise of the Fairness Doctrine under Ronald Reagan led directly to the partisan “talk radio” we suffer through today.  It allowed broadcasters to present their views without having to offer contrasting views.  As a result, the conservative movement ran screaming to the microphones.  As Rush Limbaugh once boasted: “Reagan brought down the wall, and I was the first to scramble over the ruins.”

The demise of the Fairness Doctrine directly led to the existence of radio hosts like Limbaugh, Jones, Huckabee, and of course Fox News Network.  They were free to bloviate whatever they wanted without having to talk about the other side.  Why were the conservatives the first to use such tactics?  Because they always felt that the mass media was against them.  They believed that they could get more people to vote for them if they could “tell” their side without fear of being forced to “tell” the other side.

Over the years, this has led to the rise of such wonderful groups like the Tea Party.  These fanatical conservatives consider “compromise” to be a four-letter word.  They consider “fair and balanced” reporting as being “liberal” and “socialist.”  As a result, we now have two basic camps in the media.  One is ultra-conservative and the other is more liberal.

This means that if you really want to find a “fair and balanced” perspective on issues or candidates you need to search through hundreds of sources.  Most Americans don’t have time for that.  As a result, we have settled into those same two camps.

As a result, more ultra-conservative Senators have been elected.  That is not necessarily a bad thing, but when these same Senators refuse to compromise in order to move the country forward, that is a bad thing.  When these Senators are at the mercy of the money of radical ultra-conservatives who only care about their own pockets, that is a bad thing.

The demise of the Fairness Doctrine has also led to the “coming out” of radical videos.  It is now okay to heavily edit a video of a conversation you have had with someone just to show how bad the other side really is.  You do not have to show the whole video to show complete context anymore.  The latest round of videos aimed at Planned Parenthood is a perfect example.  There have been others.  And, I dare say from both sides.

That is why you don’t hear anyone telling their audience that these videos were heavily edited to show one side of the issue.  They don’t have to say that anymore.  You may say ethics would force them to “tell the truth” but ethics took a back seat with the demise of the Fairness Doctrine.

As a result of all of this nonsense, we have a dysfunctional government.  We have two houses of Congress full of spoiled brats who cry that everything must be their way or else.  We have Senators who actually want to shut down the government in order to “defund” Planned Parenthood simply because they hate abortion.  Abortion is not the only services Planned Parenthood offers, but that is enough to shut them down.  Even if it means shutting down the government.

Because of this frenzy of partisanship, Mitch McConnell says he won’t have negotiations with Democrats over the upcoming funding bills needed to fund the government.  He says he would consider what to do once Congress returns in September.  He has refused to hold negotiations with Democrats for months.  Which is another reason we are facing another government shutdown come the end of September.  All because he is afraid of the spoiled brats on his side of the aisle.

I don’t know if that History Professor is still alive today.  I do believe that he would have to reconsider his idea that the Senate is the “adult” house in Congress.  And, it all has to do with Reagan getting enough of his people on the FCC to kill the Fairness Doctrine.

If you really care about our country and “fair and balanced” reporting, we need to bring back the Fairness Doctrine.  Its demise is the root cause of our dysfunctional government and the isolationism between parties.  When you don’t have to present both sides, the truth will never come out.

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Question, do you recognize or remember each of these flags?  In case you don’t remember, let me explain them to you.  The first one is the so-called Christian Flag.  This flag was carried by zealots who wanted to eliminate different sects of Christianity from existence.  This flag was carried when it was attempted to wipe out the Mennonites in Western Europe.  This flag is currently the love-child of the Conservative Christian Cult who wishes to discriminate against anyone they want based on “religious beliefs.”

The second flag is the Confederate Flag.  As everyone knows this flag was the battle flag of the Confederate States of America.  The CSA tried to secede from the U.S. basically over slavery.  Yes, there were arguments about “states rights” but that was a cover to say that each state should have the right to make slavery legal if they so chose.  This flag is currently the “official” flag of groups like the KKK and other domestic terrorist groups.

The third is the World War II German Flag.  The swastika is prominent on the national flag.  Of course the Nazis only used the swastika on a red background for its party banner.  That particular flag was also the one used as a battle flag during the second world war by German Troops.  This flag, as well as the swastika on a red flag are both banned in Germany today.  The Nazi “blood” flag is the “official” flag of un-American groups like the Aryan Nation and other Nazi loving groups.

The fourth flag was used by Japan prior and during World War II.  After the war, this flag was banned by Japan and we currently have the red sun on a white background.  This flag has mostly disappeared from history.

The one thing that all of these flags have in common is they were symbols, and still are considered symbols of oppression, hate, bigotry, genocide, and slavery.  The other thing that all of these flags have in common is that they are foreign flags.  None of them have ever been adopted by the U.S. as a symbol of our country.  They are simply foreign flags, mostly from the past.

Which brings us to today’s argument about the Confederate Flag.  There are a lot of people, mostly in the south, who do not want the Confederate Flag banned.  They claim it is part of their “heritage.”  Those other flags are also part of someone’s “heritage.”  Yet, flags three and four are outlawed in their own country because of the atrocities that were committed under them.

What makes the Confederate Flag any different from those others?  Additionally, why isn’t the so-called Christian Flag banned due to the genocide the people fighting under it committed?  I am tired of hearing about the Confederate Flag and the wonderful “heritage” it “honors.”  Since when is genocide, bigotry, hate, and slavery things that require us to “honor” them?

But, even taking all of that away from the argument, the use of the Confederate Flag by any state, group, or citizen to show their “heritage” is basically pledging their allegiance to a foreign symbol.  The Confederate Flag was not and never will be a symbol of the United States of America.  So anyone wishing to fly that flag for any reason is saying their allegiance is to a foreign country that does not even exist.

What it is saying is that any person, group of people, association, or state that uses the Confederate Flag as their symbol is un-American!  It could even be stretched out to say they are treasonous.  You cannot swear allegiance to flags of more than one country.  That goes for all of the other flags being talked about as well.

The Christian Flag is not American.  It was not adopted by this country as a symbol of our nation.  If you fly and pledge allegiance to the Christian Flag, you are being un-American.  It is as simple as that.  True Germans do not swear allegiance to the Nazi Flags.  True Japanese do not swear allegiance to their “Empire Flag of WWII.”  No true American should swear allegiance to either the Christian Flag or the Confederate Flag either.

To try to put this in simple terms, the only flag real patriots of America swear their allegiance to is the official Flag of The United States, the Stars and Stripes.  Flying any other flag is truly unpatriotic.

The next time someone argues with you about keeping the Confederate Flag, or any other flag “flying” call them what they are.  Un-American.  Because, their allegiance is to a foreign symbol.

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Once the GOP took control of both houses of Congress, we were told that we would see what “governing” was all about.  They would make sure that everything went smoothly, and “things would get done.”  We are coming close to the end of the year and we now see what their definition of “governing” is all about.

As usual, their version of governing is kicking the can down the road.  As the economy gets better, they still want to enslave us with their “austerity” budgets.  They favor “supporting our troops” yet they are allowing the VA to run out of money for health care of our veterans this fiscal year.

The highway transportation fund is about to shut down on July 31.  The Senate decided to pass a bill that would fund the highway transportation fund for six years.  But, as usual, they would only give it enough money for three years.  I don’t know how you will allow the highway transportation fund to work for six years if you are only going to give it money for three years.  I must have missed that equation in the “new math” Republicans seem to favor.

Naturally, being so eager to “govern” the Senate leadership must have talked everything over with the House Republican leadership so their bill would “sail” through the House.  Wrong!  Seems the House doesn’t want to take up the Senate bill.  Yes, in order to pay for the Senate bill, especially if you want to pay for the whole six years, you need to raise taxes on someone.  The House is totally against that.  But, the biggest stumbling block isn’t about how to pay for the bill.  It is simply that the House doesn’t want to take up a 1,000 page bill just days before their yearly, or should I say monthly, recess begins on August 1.

Of course, the bill had a lot of hurdles to get by in the Senate as well.  There were far more important issues for the conservatives than simply funding the highway transportation fund.  There was a fight over repealing the Affordable Care Act.  Cruz and Lee had to attempt to put an amendment on the highway transportation fund that would repeal the Affordable Care Act.

They consider that amendment germane to funding the repair of our highway infrastructure.  How, they never really said.  Then there were amendments that would change the abortion laws in this country.  Somehow abortion has a real impact on how the highways are fixed in the country as well.

The Senate version of the highway transportation fund is going to pass the Senate.  But, it won’t even be taken up by the House.  Instead, the Senate will take up a House bill that will give money to the highway transportation fund for three months.  That means it will run out of money on October 29 instead of July 31.  How convenient.  Pass a kick the can down the road bill and head out for vacation!

The only good part of this kick the can down the road bill is that it will include “some” money to the VA.  I haven’t heard if it will be the full $2.5 Billion the VA needs to keep from shutting down hospitals and having to furlough thousands of health care providers, but it is at least a start.

Somehow we have become a country where politicking and running for office has become more important than actually doing you job in office.  How can it be that Congress is so in favor of their recesses that they can’t stay in Washington and do their job?  Don’t you think the voting public would be happier if Congress stayed at work until it was finished?

Republican politicians have recently said the American people need to work more hours to help the economy grow.  One of the principles I taught in Leadership and Management classes is you lead by example.  If Republicans want Americans to work more hours, why are they working less?  Especially when you consider all of the nightmarish issues that face our country.

We still have to pass the 2016 budget, which won’t be easy.  There is the debt ceiling problem lurking in the near future.  With the passage of another kick the can down the road bill, we will still be facing a problem giving money to the highway transportation fund.  As a result of this mess, we are facing the real possibility of another government shutdown.  And all Congress seems to care about is their August Vacation.

They told us that they would “work with our friends across the aisle” yet they refuse to hold any discussions with Democrats on the budget.  They refuse to discuss any part of the budget and the sequester problems with Democrats except increasing spending for the Department of Defense.  How is that “working with our friends across the aisle?”

None of this is any surprise.  Both the House and Senate Republicans cannot even keep their own caucuses in order.  There is another bid to take the gavel away from Boehner.  Cruz is calling his leader a liar on the floor of the Senate.  And compromise within their own caucuses is considered a four-letter word to their conservative wackos.

As a result, we still have not seen any real meaningful legislation that will move the country forward.  We haven’t seen anything that resembles a “working” Congress.  We only see Republican infighting.  We see disharmony among Republicans.  We still see them calling each other “conservatives in name only.”

It means that each Republican is trying to prove he/she is the true conservative in order to get the Tea Party money launderers to give money to them.  Their motto seems to be, “damn the country!  Full speed ahead on campaign financing for me!”

Of course, some of this could be dampened down if the Congress would pass real campaign finance reform.  With big money calling the shots especially for Republican candidates, this infighting and name calling will just continue.  I guess that is the price you pay for trying to buy elections.  Don’t you just love Citizens United?

Regardless of the reasons, the Republican controlled Senate and House of Representatives are still giving wide audience to just how NOT to govern.  They are proving once again that they have no idea of what the word “leadership” really means.  And, as usual, we the American people are still suffering and paying the price for it.

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In 1960, John F. Kennedy ran for President.  John F. Kennedy was Catholic.  In our long history, only one other Catholic won a party’s nomination for President before Kennedy.  That was Al Smith who lost big-time.  When Kennedy won the primary for the Democratic nomination, the protestant population had a fit.

The argument ran that if Kennedy was a Catholic, he would disregard the Constitution in favor of his Church’s teachings.  This, according to the protestants was not only wrong and dangerous, but also treasonous.  How could a Catholic protect the rights of non-Catholics if he followed the teachings of the Pope?

Kennedy was forced to give a speech telling the American people that he was first and foremost an American.  He assured the population that he would not abandon the Constitution in order to follow his church’s teachings.  He said that although he was a Catholic, his faith would not dictate his handling of the Constitution and the rights it afforded.

In 1960, Kennedy won a very hotly contested election against Richard Nixon.  Some on the Republican side even called it controversial.  In either case, Kennedy won over the majority of the people with his I am an American first speech.

Today, we are facing a similar problem.  At last count, there are 16 people running for President on the Republican side.  Every one of these candidates are in step with the “conservative social agenda” of the Republican Party.  In a word, they are instep with a “religious” belief that says their religion trumps the Constitution.

You can look at just about every issue in their “conservative social agenda” and see that they don’t give a hoot about the Constitution.  Rather, they believe in their religious teachings as being “superior” to the Constitution.  If that was a troubling aspect of the 1960 election involving Kennedy, why isn’t it a troubling aspect of the 2016 election?

The biggest block of the “conservative social agenda” is the anti-abortion stance.  The major argument against abortion used by these candidates is that they are “saving the lives of the unborn.”  However, the definition of “life” and when it starts is a matter of personal determination.

Conservatives of all religions believe life starts with conception.  That is their right to believe that.  Others however, believe that life begins much later.  Therefore, having an abortion before the time they believe “life” begins is not wrong.  Conservatives cannot abide by that definition.  Theirs is the only definition they want to allow.  This is not based on science, it is based on religious beliefs.

As a result, their stance against abortions is a purely “religious” belief that they think trumps the Constitution and the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade.  They say your belief of when life begins is wrong.  They say you must abide by their religious belief.

The argument against same-sex marriage follows similar lines.  The conservatives are constantly claiming that “God” defined marriage as between one man and one women.  But, their argument runs out of steam as soon as you realize that polygamy was a standard practice among the ancient Jews.  Especially the “royals” of the ancient Jews.  If marriage was defined by “God” as between one man and one woman, why were so many kings of the Jews married to so many women at the same time?

Also, if they truly believe that God defined marriage as between one man and one woman, and that their religious marriage ceremony ends with the words: “What God has joined together, let no man put asunder,” how can they defend divorce and remarriage?  How is it that the state should recognize remarriage as being “legal” with all the rights defined in by law?

If conservatives really believe in what they are preaching, shouldn’t people who are divorced and remarried to someone else be denied the same rights they want to deny same-sex couples?  Shouldn’t inheritance of a second spouse be taxed as if that person was not a spouse?  Shouldn’t companies deny health coverage to that second spouse since they aren’t really married?  Isn’t divorce and remarriage an attack against “traditional marriage?”

Let us assume for just one minute that these Republican Candidates really believe what they are saying.  Let us for just one minute believe that these candidates are really that “religious.”  Shouldn’t that make the rest of us ask them the same questions that Kennedy faced?  Shouldn’t that make the rest of us believe that they will disregard the Constitution anytime they believe it conflicts with their religious beliefs?

The Constitution is very clear in its stance of the separation of church and state.  It even says you cannot force people to make a religious commitment to hold office.  Yet, all of these Republican Candidates are trying to do just that.  They are trying to force religion down our throats.  They are trying to use their “religious beliefs” as a rallying cry to openly deny civil rights to those who don’t follow their teachings.

The biggest difference between these candidates and Kennedy is that Kennedy never used his religion as a reason for his election.  Each of these candidates are pandering to specific religious sects in order to get their votes.  They are openly defying the basic principle of the separation of church and state.

That alone should be enough to disqualify every one of them from holding the office of President.  It is very obvious that these candidates are not interested in “Protecting the Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic.”  Rather they are all in favor of eliminating the Constitution from our lives.  Only their beliefs matter.  If you think differently, you lose!

I predict that if any of these Republicans win in November 2016, and their wacko friends are still in control of Congress, you will one day be walking down the street and a man in a leather coat will walk up and say “papers please.”  Forcing your religion on everyone else cannot be successful without real control over people’s lives.  That may be “religiously” acceptable, but it is unconstitutional.

 

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