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Archive for the ‘Science’ Category

We are coming down to the finish line in the 2014 Mid-Term elections.  All of the major media are predicting that the Republicans will gain control of the Senate and thus the Congress.  This prediction is in the face of about 8 different elections still running neck-and-neck.  But, the media is counting on the usual low turnout for mid-term elections as proof that Republicans will win this time.  Historically, the higher the turnout the better Democrats do.  The lower the turnout. the better Republicans do.

Many people usually look at the mid-terms as something that simply wastes time.  There is no presidential election and therefore, they believe it won’t make much of a difference.  That is totally wrong thinking.  Especially in this mid-term election.  Fact.  Despite the usually low turn-out for mid-term elections, private conservative PACs are spending record amounts of money on this election.  If they are so convinced that their candidate is the people’s choice, why so much money?

Since the Supreme Court handed down the Citizens United decision, our election process has become something that would normally carry a sign that says “for sale.”  PACs don’t have to say where the money is coming from.  Bribery apparently is legal now, witness the Norquist Pledge.  The fact is that when a small group of people are able to purchase elections and control the winning candidates, we have lost our democracy.  We have moved into an oligarchy.

Poor Mitt Romney is still living in his little fantasy world.  According to poor Mitt, if the Republicans gain control of the Senate, gridlock will suddenly go away and “bills will get passed”.  He even thinks that Immigration Reform will get passed.  Apparently, poor Mitt hasn’t been listening to the Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.  Witty Mitch has already said that if the Republicans win the Senate, he plans on passing legislation that will surely be vetoed by the President.

The first piece of legislation he plans to pass is the total repeal of the Affordable Care Act.  He doesn’t have any plan to replace it, he just hates it so much that he wants to repeal it.  There are about 600,000 people in his own State of Kentucky that got insurance for the first time in their lives.  Should McConnell get his wish, those 600,000 people will suddenly find themselves without health insurance again.  But, witty Mitch doesn’t care about them.  The Koch Brothers are against the ACA, so it must go.

Poor Mitt also apparently hasn’t kept touch with the in-fighting inside the Republican Party either.  Does he really believe that the wonderful Canadian Senator Cruz has any intentions of actually governing?  Does he really believe that should any “moderate” piece of legislation be introduced by a Republican Senate Cruz won’t be filibuster it?  The Canadian Senator hasn’t shown any respect for the leadership of the party up to this point.  Does poor Mitt really believe he will “buckle under” if the Republicans win?

Since President Obama was elected, there have been a host of bills passed by the Senate that has died in the House.  He did manage to get the ACA passed in the first two years because the Democrats controlled the House.  But since then, Immigration Reform, The Fair Wage Act, Jobs For Veterans act, Transportation and Infrastructure Bill, and a host of others have languished in the Republican House.  And who was one of the biggest antagonists in the House?  The de-facto Speaker of the House Senator Ted Cruz.

The Republicans led by Cruz caused the last government shutdown.  Does poor Mitt really believe that the first order of business of Cruz won’t be to shut down the government again?  All in the name of repealing the ACA?  I can see it now.  The Senate will pass a bill repealing the ACA.  The House will support it and pass it as well.  The President will veto the bill.  Since the Republicans won’t have enough votes to override the veto, the bill will die.

The next step will be Canadian Senator Ted Cruz ramping up his fellow wacko right-wingers to fight anything like raising the debt ceiling or creating a budget.  That will cause the government to shut down.  Cruz will go on air and tell the country it is the President’s fault because he won’t sign the repeal legislation.  He may even go so far as to say that once the President signs the bill, the government will be able to reopen.  He is a master hostage taker, after all.

All the while, senior citizens needing their social security checks and their medicare bills paid will do without.  Veterans will do without their medical and retirement benefits.  For example, someone who relies on their social security check won’t get it.  Retired veterans won’t get their pension checks either.  Banks will start calling in loans like mortgages and the average American will suffer all the while Cruz and his Congressional cronies keep getting their checks.

But, you have to remember who is behind this scheme.  Neither witty Mitch nor Canadian Cruz are smart enough to plan all of this by themselves.  No, this is coming from places like the Koch Brothers, Karl Rove, and the Heritage Foundation.  None of which really give a shit if seniors and veterans lose their homes or starve, for that matter.

Oh, I can see a lot of other wonderful pieces of legislation coming down the pike.  You will most definitely see a Personhood Constitutional amendment simply to outlaw abortion.  You will see a massive tax cut for the 1% and a raise to the rest of us.  You will see a bill eliminating the Department of Environmental Protection.  You will see a bill eliminating the Department of Education.  You will see bills deregulating every form of business.  You will see a bill eliminating the Minimum Wage.  You will see all Consumer Protection Laws repealed.  You will see a bill to build a “Berlin-type” wall at our southern border complete with gun turrets.  I wouldn’t be shocked if you saw a bill declaring an Official Religion, needless to say it won’t be Islam.

All anyone had to do during this election cycle was to listen carefully to the ads that were produced by the Koch PACs, Citizens’ United and other Conservative PACs to hear all of these being proposed.  They are nothing new.  The Conservatives have been preaching them for years.  So, don’t be surprised when they try to make them law.  Is that what poor Mitt thinks is “governing?”

Finally, no one will be surprised when the “impeach Obama” cries are started.  They don’t have any grounds to impeach anyone, much less the President, but that won’t stop them from trying.  We will be faced with the most turbulent two years of “governing” in our history.  That is what we face if the Republicans gain control of the Congress.

So, as you can see, it all comes down to turnout.  Republicans have tried to artificially keep voter turnout low through their Voter Suppression laws.  Now they are counting on you not to care enough to let them have power.  Maybe the question is “would you rather live in a democracy or in an oligarchy?”  If you think oligarchs like the Koch Brothers should run the country, that is what you will get.  If you believe we need to keep living in a democracy, you will turn out to vote.  It is that simple.  Nothing but your future and your children’s future depends on it.

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So far, the Ebola Virus has only come up in urban areas.  On the surface it may not seem like it, but that is really a good thing.  If Ebola should raise its ugly head in rural America, I am afraid that a whole lot of people will die because of it.  Over at Fox News, the hysteria machine is in full swing.  They are complaining that Ebola is a terrible threat to us all.  Of course, they are pointing their finger at the present administration.

One thing they are not talking about at Fox News, or anywhere else for that matter, is the danger that faces Rural America should Ebola ever show up there.  You see, hundreds of hospitals in Rural America are closing their doors.  They are shutting down their services to areas where there isn’t a big choice of medical treatment to begin with.  Republicans in those areas are blaming “Obamacare” for the closures.  They are partly correct.

The major reason Rural America is losing their hospitals is because these same Republicans have refused to expand Medicaid in their states.  This refusal is in the face of not having to pay for the expansion for the first three years, and then only picking up ten percent of the costs after that.  This refusal to expand Medicaid has resulted in millions of people going without health insurance.

As a result, a lot of hospitals, especially in Rural America have had to treat uninsured people pro bono.  Meaning they don’t get any money for treating the poor.  This has resulted in hospitals across the country, especially in Rural America, to lose money.  As a result, they have no choice but to shutter their hospitals.

There are many places in rural areas where people need to drive up to 150 miles to get to a hospital.  On top of that, most rural hospitals are not equipped to handle infectious diseases like Ebola.  That means if Ebola creeps into Rural America, the treatment of the patients is questionable at best.  Plus, since they are not equipped to handle such cases, there is a real possibility of the virus spreading due to lack of proper equipment and protocols.

What has been the Republican response to this very potential disaster?  Nothing!  The real terrible thing about this, is that their strongest base lives in Rural America.  Yet they are doing nothing about it.  The normal government agencies that could help Rural America are having a harder time helping because of all of the budget cuts that the Republicans have placed on them.

Furthermore, since many of Rural America are the people who have been most affected by the refusal to expand Medicaid in Red States, they are much more hesitant to go to the hospital if they should get a sudden rise in temperature, which is one of the first indicators that you may have Ebola.  That means that they won’t drive the 150 miles to get to a hospital because they can’t afford the treatment.

If a major outbreak of Ebola should break out in the U.S., the Republicans who refused to expand Medicaid will be mostly responsible for it.  These fear mongers are very willing to tell America that we face elimination from the virus, yet they are very willing to allow millions of their constituents to be exposed due to lack of health care.

Lack of affordable health care has always been a major contributor to the spread of infectious diseases.  Because of political barbarity, millions of Americans still lack affordable health care.  That has resulted in the closing of hundreds of hospitals, the lack of ability to prepare for such infectious disease outbreaks, and the very lives of people they are supposed to represent.

That is not just bad politics.  It is criminal!

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We have heard a lot of talk about secession lately.  Mostly it comes from the right-wing nuts who just can’t stand the fact the U.S. Constitution they claim to love doesn’t agree with their discrimination policies.  They can’t stand the fact that the Constitution doesn’t allow someone to be discriminated because they are Black, Latino, Women, LGBT, Muslim, or any other of those “other” people they can’t stand.

These are the same nuts that wanted 3 counties in Colorado to secede because of the new gun laws signed into law.  They look for any excuse they can find to stir up hate and discontent among voters.  Besides all of that, they are the same people who claim that climate change is a hoax perpetrated by scientists who want to control the world.  Every Republican Candidate in the mid-term elections side-steps the question about climate change with the lame excuse of “I’m not a scientist”.  Including that great health care fraudster Governor of Florida.

Well, there is finally a group of people who want to secede from their state that I can get on board with.  The City of South Miami just passed a proposal to secede from the rest of Florida.  But, their resolution doesn’t just take in South Miami.  According to their proposal, they want Florida’s 23 Southern Counties to join them and form the State of South Florida.

This is not about gun laws.  It is not about marriage equality.  It is not about voter suppression.  It is about climate change and the effect it is already having on South Florida and the state’s inaction about it.  The “situation is very precarious and in need of immediate attention,” the resolution reads, noting that many areas of South Florida are as low as 5 feet above sea level, putting them within the range of the projected 3 to 6 feet of sea level rise over the next century. North Florida, on the other hand, has an average elevation of 100 feet above sea level, leaving that half of the state unsympathetic to their plight. The creation of a new state, it argues, is therefore necessary to “the very survival of the entire southern region of the current state of Florida.”

Something to remember about south Florida is that it contains 69 percent of Florida’s population and generates 67 percent of the state’s revenue.  Even with those numbers, the state, under Governor Scott, refuses to even talk about climate change and what it will mean to south Florida.  As the Mayor of South Miami said:  “It’s very apparent that the attitude of the northern part of the state is that they would just love to saw the state in half and just let us float off into the Caribbean.  They’ve made that abundantly clear every possible opportunity and I would love to give them the opportunity to do that.”

The race for Governor in Florida between Chris and Scott is neck-and-neck.  Scott has been asked several times about climate change and as usual he has refused to answer the question.  But then, that is nothing new for Scott.  Every time he is asked anything he avoids answering the question.  But, given that South Miami already has seen massive flooding in parts of their city due to climate change, this is no small tidbit to overlook.  It is a real problem that millions of people face.

Yet, the Republicans in Florida continue to deny the existence of climate change.  Then again, if the Republicans keep their track record going, there won’t be much left of South Florida by the next century anyway.  Maybe that is their real goal in the first place.  Florida is basically two states crammed together.  The northern half is much more “southern” that south Florida.  There have been political wars in Florida for generations.

But if you look at the real issue here, the one that could help put the spotlight on just how bad climate change is getting, is to have south Florida secede.  I would encourage the rest of the 22 counties in South Florida to back South Miami in this secession effort.  It is their lives and livelihoods that are at stake.   Maybe buffoons like Scott would see the writing on the wall.  Threaten to take away all that tax revenue from north Florida, and maybe the rest of the state will wake up too.  By the way, Disney World would go to South Florida.

 

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The right-wing media and several Republicans are trumpeting the Ebola Hysteria meme.  According to them, we are all facing the imminent threat of being wiped off the face of the earth by the Ebola Virus.  We have seen the hysteria grow to such lengths that schools are either being shut down, or children from certain countries are being refused attendance.  Not because they have Ebola or any symptoms, but simply because they are from a West African country where Ebola has broken out.

Senator Rand Paul is calling for travel bans to West African nations.  He says that it is “only reasonable” that such travel bans be put into place.  On the other hand, his own father says that a call for travel ban is a politically motivated talking point.  Actually, Ron Paul, Rand’s father, says that we would be better off banning people with colds from flying because their colds could actually be the flu and more people will die from the flu than Ebola in the U.S.

The Republicans called on President Obama to appoint an “Ebola Czar” to oversee our response to the virus.  So, President Obama appointed an administrator to the position of “Ebola Czar” to oversee our response.  The Republicans went nuts over the appointment.  The first cry was that the new Czar wasn’t even a doctor!  Well, guess what, if you want someone to oversee our response and form coordination plans so varying organizations can better share information, you need an administrator not a doctor.

Then again, if the Republicans had confirmed President Obama’s Surgeon General cabinet post nominee, there would be a doctor in place right now.  But, since the Republicans don’t like his views on various topics, they refuse to even vote on his appointment or even hold hearings on it.  If we actually had a Surgeon General, maybe we wouldn’t need a Czar in the first place.

But all of this doesn’t matter to the Republicans and their wing-nut base.  When you have networks like Fox News stating clearly that the reason there is no travel ban to West Africa is because President Obama wants Ebola to kill off Americans, you get the idea that this has nothing to do with Republicans or conservatives caring about national health.  They are simply trying to use the Ebola Virus for political points.

If the Republicans had truly cared about the health of Americans, they would not have slashed the budgets for the CDC and NIH by billions of dollars over the last several years.  They would have recognized that something like this would eventually come up and that properly funding these agencies was the only way to prepare for a possible outbreak of any type of infectious disease.

Hell, they might have even been willing to let the ACA do its thing and let millions of uninsured Americans get insurance.  But, that couldn’t happen.  If people don’t have insurance, there is no way they can take preventative measures to protect themselves.  And the Republicans wouldn’t be able to use hysteria as a vote getting measure.

Another problem in all of this nonsense, is that the panic they are trying to stir up will hurt the economy.  There are already internet survivalist nuts telling people not to fly because you “might be sitting next to someone with Ebola.”  As a result, people are likely to stop traveling.  That means the travel industry will hurt economically, and your stocks may even go down.  Already airline stocks have taken a hit because of the fear of a travel ban.  If you own airline stocks, you have already seen a hit to your bank account.

We have gone through these hysteria events before.  I was in the Coast Guard when Haitians tried to enter the country in the 1980s.  That was one of the countries with the biggest outbreak of AIDS.  We had to intercept them, and take them to GITMO before any of them were allowed to enter the country.  Many were sent back to Haiti.  Funny, but Ronald Reagan, who was president at the time, didn’t call for a travel ban to Haiti!  Maybe it was because like Ebola, AIDS was only transmitted via body fluids and not breathing the air.

Throughout history mankind has faced outbreaks that threatened people’s lives.  The Plague, Polio and the Spanish Influenza are just a few that come to mind.  We don’t eliminate infectious diseases by starting hysteria and blaming “others”.  We end them by properly funding our agencies that look for cures.  In the meantime, we isolate those affected, and take proper steps to limit exposure to the rest of us.  That is the “only reasonable” way to fight infectious diseases.

I understand that Ebola is a very frightening disease.  But, as Ron Paul said, more people die from the flu each year than Ebola.  However, since the flu is not new, it appears less frightening than Ebola.  We understand the flu.  We do not understand Ebola.  Unscrupulous politicians know this and are willing to use Ebola to scare you to death.

The Republicans and their right-wing nuts are not interested in fighting infectious diseases.  They are only using the Ebola Virus as a means to put everyone at their mercy.  Lock down the borders.  Set up travel bans.  Make sure we keep all of those “others” out of the country.  I firmly believe that if Republicans had their way, not only would there be a travel ban, but a “papers” law would soon follow.

No, Ebola has become nothing more than political talking points for the Republicans.  That is all it can be.  They have no plan to talk about.  How very sad for all of us.

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As you are well aware, the Republicans are in a tizzy over Ebola.  They are putting the blame on the President, naturally, and if you watch or read anything from Fox News, the country is facing doom and gloom.  I even have to admit that when the President told the country that it was “unlikely” that the Ebola Virus would reach America, I was flabbergasted.  With a world economy, easy transportation from one continent to another, it was only a matter of time before it reached our shores, just like other infectious diseases before.

One man has died in Texas from the disease.  There is some controversy over how he was treated when he went to the hospital with symptoms.  Thomas Eric Duncan was the first person to develop Ebola in America.  Four other people are also being treated in American Hospitals.  Duncan is the one man in Texas who died from the disease.  He’s also the only patient who was uninsured. He turned up in a Dallas emergency room, informed the staff he was from Liberia, and was sent home with antibiotics.

Now being uninsured in Texas is nothing new.  Over 1.5 million Texans do not have any insurance since the wonderful governor, Rick Perry, refused to accept “free” Medicaid money to expand coverage in his state.  When he returned to the hospital Duncan was admitted.  He was even given an experimental drug, even though it was late.  But, he never received a blood transfusion from someone who had recovered from Ebola.  A very necessary part of the Ebola treatment.  See, the transfusion helps build immunity to the disease and helps fight it.  Duncan is the only patient who did not receive the transfusion.

“The real elephant in the room is, the man was black, he had no insurance, and therefore he was basically turned away,” Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price, who is African-American, told the Los Angeles Times. The hospital, for its part, denies it treated Duncan differently than insured patients.

Then there is Youngor Jallah, the woman who got Duncan to the hospital when his symptoms worsened.   She says she doesn’t have Medicaid or any health insurance either.  Presumably she’s being monitored by health officials and will be treated if she becomes symptomatic, but she’s not certain. “It’s my worry … that I will be treated the same way” as Duncan, Jallah told the Los Angeles Times.

So how is Texas prepared to handle public health emergencies?  “We don’t really have a unifying construct for public health in Texas that’s comprehensive,” Dr. Eduardo Sanchez, the former commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services, told the Texas Tribune.  Between 2008 and 2013, 36 percent of local health departments in Texas had to lay off staff due to budget cuts between 2008 and 2013.  It would appear they are not ready to handle public health emergencies.

But this problem goes way beyond Texas.  The two agencies who do the most work on public health and fighting infectious diseases are the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).  They have had their budgets cut severely in the last few years.  The sequester cuts brought on by the Republicans, cut $1.55 billion from the budget of the National Institutes of Health, took another $300 million from the Center for Disease Control, slashed global health programs by $411 million and USAID by $289 million. The budgets drawn up by Rep. Paul Ryan and passed by the House GOP would have deepened those cuts significantly. The CDC’s budget has been cut $600 million since 2010.

“I have to tell you honestly it’s been a significant impact on us,” the NIH’s Anthony Fauci told a Senate subcommittee last week. “It has both in an acute and a chronic, insidious way eroded our ability to respond in the way that I and my colleagues would like to see us be able to respond to these emerging threats.”

This little fact isn’t being talked about in the Republican Hysteria Machine.  The agencies who do the most to protect America from infectious diseases have had their budgets cut drastically.  I don’t know how this will affect the overall containment of Ebola in America, but it certainly won’t help.

As usual, the Republicans have caused problems in protecting the public health of Americans.  Now that there is a real potential threat to that public health, they are crying about not being ready to fight it.  It is very typical of their strategy.  Cut everything that affects real people like public health.  Then when something goes wrong, blame everyone but yourselves.

The President is asking for $1 billion dollars in reprogramming money to help fight the disease in Africa, the place of origin.  He plans to build health centers and train people on the ground.  The natural theory is that if you stop it in the place of origin, it won’t spread much farther.  But, of course that isn’t good enough for Republicans.  As a matter of fact, Senator Vitter from Louisiana is violently opposed to the plan.  Why?  Because it focuses on “Africa.”

Writing to the members of the Senate Appropriations and Armed Services Committees, Vitter urged, “I ask you to oppose fully allowing the additional $1 billion in reprogramming requests until previously requested additional information is available for members of Congress to be fully briefed.” Vitter went on to assail the White House plan because, he wrote, it “focuses on Africa, and largely ignores our own borders.”

Most of the people reporting on Vitter’s letter have not focused on the wording.  Notice that he says “largely ignores our own borders.”  He doesn’t say it largely ignores our own country or our own people!  Sorry, maybe I do have a warped view of the Republicans right now, but that seems significant to me.  Nor does he ask that that money be instead transferred back to the CDC and NIH.  I wonder why.

Back when the battle raged over the ACA, many Republicans cried about what they called “death panels” being introduced into the bill.  Obviously it was a lie.  But, at the time I sarcastically wrote that the bill didn’t need a “death panel” since the Republican Party already had taken on that mantra.  Once you look at all of the facts, and listen to all of the hysteria being produced by the Republicans and their right-wing nuts, you can draw your own conclusions about the real “death panels.”

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There two absolute necessities for maintaining life.  Food and Water.  Since the start of agrarian societies, food has been a commodity.  Meaning that you either live somewhere where you grow your own food, or you pay someone else for the food you need.  Water is also a necessity for maintaining life.  As a mater of fact, you can go longer without food than you can without water.  The UN formally “recognizes the right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation as a human right that is essential for the full enjoyment of life and all human rights.”

Unfortunately, people in the U.S. have forgotten about all of the water battles that were waged in our past.  At one point, private companies were running water supplies.  At the beginning of the 20th century, they started having major cholera outbreaks, which led to it being turned over to public utilities.   However, since public utilities have had their budgets cut drastically by local and state governments over the years, they have been unable to keep up with their infrastructure.  That has led to many public utility companies facing financial hardships and budget deficits to raise their rates.

When I grew up in Chicago in the 50s, we did not have a water meter on our house.  My parents paid a flat rate to the public water company and used as much water as needed.  There was a huge fight when the city finally enforced water metering at private residences.  Yes, the water we drank came from Lake Michigan, but there was no need for metering because the utility was financed through the flat rate and taxes.

Today, no one gets water that way.  Even if you wanted to drop a bucket into a lake or river for free water, you wouldn’t be able to drink it without purifying it first because of all of the pollution that has been dumped into our lakes and rivers.  Utilities are struggling to maintain their infrastructures.  They are getting less and less money from taxes thus they are forced to raise rates on the consumer.  In essence, water which is a complete necessity to maintain life, has become a marketable commodity.  As a result of the financial problems with public utilities, private companies are looking to take over, again, for the potential profits.  The rising rates for water are making it more attractive for private companies to want to take over the public utilities.

There is no better place to look at this necessity becoming a commodity than the City of Detroit.  The so-called Emergency Manager and water utilities in the city has cut off water to thousands of their citizens who can’t pay their bill.  In a recent ruling, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes ruled on Detroit’s hotly contested practice of cutting off water.  He said:

“It cannot be doubted that water is a necessary ingredient to sustaining life, yet there is not an enforceable right to free and affordable water.”

To my way of thinking, he is contradicting himself.  If water is a necessary ingredient to sustaining life, how can their not be an enforceable right to free and affordable water?  According to his ruling, water is a luxury item that for which you have to pay.  If you cannot afford to pay for it, you simply don’t get it.  One of the big reasons for this fight in the first place is that the State of Michigan wants to have a private company go into Detroit and take over the public utility.  If they cannot cut off water to people who can’t pay their bills, no private company will take on the task.

We have had discussions about how the Republicans want to privatize everything.  They want to privatize public education, social security, medicare, and now public utilities like water.  Basically, they want us to consider water as a “luxury” we have to pay to get.  Never mind the local taxes we pay that is supposed to help support and keep bills low in the first place.  This is the type of insanity that permeates the Republican mindset.  The next thing you will see is when a natural disaster strikes an area and the water trucks show up, you will have to pay for each gallon of water you need.

Cutting off water to private residences is not just wrong, it’s a potential health hazard.  It could begin spreading diseases that shouldn’t exist any longer in this country.  If there is no water, you will not be able to flush your toilet.  What are residents supposed to do?  Pour their waste in the gutter as in the “good ole days?”  Things like cholera are potentially waiting in the wings to spread through our communities again.

The biggest drawback in living in an industrialized country is that we have become an urbanized society.  The agrarian society that we used to have is gone.  Even in many rural areas, there are public utilities that provide water to residents.  This water is cleaner than well water.  If you do have a well, you still need to use a water softener or other treatment before drinking it.  Besides, with fracking going on all over, you have the added worry of your well being contaminated by the fracking chemicals being used.  As a friend of mine with a well says, “drinking well water is kidney stone heaven.”

Water is a basic necessity.  It is not a luxury item like Judge Rhodes seems to think it is.  One of the most fundamental responsibilities of government is to help ensure the basic necessities of life are maintained.  Putting public utilities in the hands of private companies, raising rates for water, or cutting off water to people who cannot to pay their bills is illegally abdicating responsibility, in my view.  It is simply another way to marginalize the poor.

 

 

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The conservative propaganda machine is at it again.  This time the fight is in Colorado.  Their plan to introduce their propaganda into history classes is so blatant that high school students understand it is wrong.  Yesterday, several hundred students walk out of their classes protesting a new plan put forth by the conservative majority of the school board.  This protest followed on the heels of a teacher “sick-out” protesting the same plan.

The school board proposal that triggered the walkout calls for instructional materials that present positive aspects of the nation and its heritage.  It would establish a committee to regularly review texts and course plans, starting with Advanced Placement history, to make sure materials “promote citizenship, patriotism, essentials and benefits of the free-market system, respect for authority and respect for individual rights” and don’t “encourage or condone civil disorder, social strike or disregard of the law.”

This proposal generally denies that this country was actually founded by people who participated in “social strike and disregard of the law.”  If there had not been any radicals in the colonies, there would be no United States of America.  Besides that, since when is it the goal of history classes to “promote citizenship, patriotism, essentials and benefits of the free-market system, respect for authority and respect for individual rights?”  Shouldn’t that fall under Civics Classes?

I would also like to know how you can teach “respect for individual rights” by mocking civil disorder or social strike.  They are also saying in their proposal that the free-market system is the only economic system that should be taught about in history classes.  If one believes that socialist economies are bad, shouldn’t they be taught about so the student can see the differences between the two?

The students participating in the demonstration said it was organized by word of mouth and social media.  Many waved American flags and carried signs, including messages that read “There is nothing more patriotic than protest.”  These students apparently have a much better understanding of American History than the conservative knuckleheads that have made the proposal.

“I don’t think my education should be censored. We should be able to know what happened in our past,” said Tori Leu, a 17-year-old student who protested at Ralston Valley High School in Arvada.

The proposal comes from Julie Williams, part of the conservative majority on the school board.  In a previous interview with Chalkboard Colorado, a school news website said that she recognizes there are negative events that are part of U.S. history that need to be taught.

“There are things we may not be proud of as Americans,” she said. “But we shouldn’t be encouraging our kids to think that America is a bad place.”

Student demonstrator Tyrone G. Parks, a senior at Arvada High School, said Tuesday that the nation’s foundation was built on civil protest, “and everything that we’ve done is what allowed us to be at this point today. And if you take that from us, you take away everything that America was built off of.”

This is just another battleground over the fight between education and indoctrination.  As I reported earlier, tensions over high school education cropped up in Texas where conservative school board officials are facing criticism over their new textbooks which were call indoctrination books.  Additionally, South Carolina conservatives have called on an education oversight committee to ask the College Board, which oversees Advanced Placement courses, to rewrite their framework to make sure there is no ideological bias.

According to the indoctrination plan of the conservative movement, anything that does not totally agree with their own philosophies is said to have ideological bias.  The best way to ensure that students fall in line with conservative ideology is to outlaw the teaching of anything else in public schools.  That is not education, it is indoctrination.

In Colorado, students are smart enough to know indoctrination when they see it.  That can be a very disturbing thing to conservatives.  “Respect for authority” is a code term for “do what you are told to do without question.”  There is no other explanation for the need to teach respect for authority.  Shouldn’t respect for authority be taught at home?

Our history is full of examples of social strike and social strife.  If it weren’t for these strikes, unions would never have been born, social changes like civil rights could never have been born, and people would never have been able to express their opposition to things like the Vietnam war.  Nor, would we have a country called the United States of America.

But conservatism, by definition, hates any change to the status quo.  It is mired in a longing for things that were and is not interested in progress.  Especially if that progress will change their status in society.  That is what these attempts at indoctrination is all about.  They want people of color to remain subordinate to whites.  They want women to remain subordinate to men.  They want their riches increased while the poor are left to die.

Those are all ideologies that have been part of our history.  They were facts in the past, and the conservative movement wants to ignore teaching them to our children.  They don’t want our children to think that these things may have been wrong, which they were.  They want our children to fall in line and simply “do what they are told to do.”

Rather than using education as a tool to lift the poor out of poverty, they want to indoctrinate children into the conservative ideology in order to keep the poor and minorities in their place.  To conservatives individual rights and liberties are not for everyone.  As a result, you don’t have the right to be married if you want to marry someone of the same-sex.  You do not have the right to an abortion because women are too stupid to make up their own minds.  You do not have the right to join a union and fight for better wages and working conditions.

No, conservatives think that individual rights and liberties only apply to themselves.  Indoctrinating school children into their way of thinking is the best way to keep the wolves from the gates.

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