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Archive for the ‘Science’ Category

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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I have always been a firm believer in the thought that history is extremely important to the future.  I believe that the axiom of “if we fail to remember history, we are doomed to repeat it.”  I further believed that all of the “reforms” that are being introduced to “improve” public education was simply a money scam to enrich corporations.  While that is partially true, there is a more insidious element to these so-called reforms.

I am not just talking about programs like “no child left behind” or “race to the top” either.  Some of the so-called reformers are truly just trying to line their pockets with tax money.  Others are more quietly trying to distort education into more of a propaganda machine.  After all, the easiest way to ensure the survivability of your ideas, even if they have failed miserably, is to indoctrinate children in school.  Forget the facts, just each what you want taught so future generations believe your ideas.

We have seen this type of indoctrination in the world before.  Both history and science were radically changed in Germany in the 30s to prove the superiority of the Arian Race.  In communist countries like Russia and China, indoctrination was the name of the game.  They did not teach capitalism in schools.  To them, capitalism was evil and they were going to make sure their children hated it as much as they did.  In every case, this indoctrination worked.  At least until their governments fell.

Here in the U.S. we are facing the same problems.  The trouble is that no one is really paying attention to the indoctrination that is being forced on our children.  In this case, the guilty parties are political activists not necessarily the government.  Yes, it is only possible in states where these activists gain enough political power to get their idiots elected to office.

The major contributor and therefore the major usurper of education is currently the State of Texas.  That is because of its size, if they approve a certain text-book, that is usually the only one offered by publishers to other states.  Which means that regardless of where you live, your children are potentially exposed to their indoctrination propaganda.

The main culprits in this movement is a combination of right-wing conservatives and the Conservative Christian Cult.  We have all seen the arguments over creationism being taught as legitimate science.  But, that is just the beginning of their plot.  They have gone way beyond the idea of creationism.

Texas has tried to change text books in history and other academia by inserting what is basically been called lies and disinformation.  A group of 10 scholars in politics and history examined these text books and concluded that they are intended to trick students into believing right-wing myths about government, racism and whether or not America is supposed to be a “Christian nation.”

Despite the fact that the founding fathers founded our country based on “Enlightenment” or philosophical ideals, these text books are trying to make children believe that it was founded on Christian doctrine.  They even go so far as saying that the founders drew inspiration from Moses, on the grounds that Moses created the idea of a “written code of behavior.”   This despite that Thomas Jefferson argued that there should be a “wall of separation between church and state.”  And the fact that civilizations believed in codified behavior long before Moses was even born.

Texas schools push sex “education” that rarely even mentions contraception.  As a predictable result, Texas maintains an abysmally high teen pregnancy rate while teen pregnancy rates in other states are dropping.

On top of this, they even try to argue that segregation was really okay.  One book argues that white and black schools had “similar buildings, buses, and teachers,” which the researchers argue “severely understates the tremendous and widespread disadvantages of African-American schools.”

Of course, they also found a whole lot of propaganda supporting unregulated capitalism.  One book argues that taxes have gone up since 1927, but that “society does not appear to any more civilized today than it was” back then.  Of course things like the federal highway system, reduced poverty and sickness, and improved education aren’t mentioned as making “society more civilized.”  Imagine that!

So, what do some of the people who reviewed these text books really think?  Emile Lester, a political science associate professor at the University of Mary Washington in Virginia, was one of the reviewers. The State Board of Education and “these textbooks have collaborated to make students’ knowledge of American history a casualty of the culture wars,” he writes in his report.

Edward Countryman, a professor of history at Southern Methodist University who also worked on the report, concurred, accusing the State Board of creating textbook standards that have a “combination of incoherence, poor construction, and attempted indoctrination” in lieu of actual intent to educate students.

The Texas State Board of Education made it very clear that they intended to push right-wing ideology on the students from the very beginning.  In July, the Texas Freedom Network reviewed the 140 people selected to be on the panels reviewing textbooks. Surprise, being an actual expert in politics or history guaranteed you couldn’t get a spot ont he board.  More than a dozen Texas academics with expertise who applied were denied.  Yet conservative political activists and individuals without social studies degrees or teaching experience got places on the panels.

Only three of the current 140 members of the panel are even current faculty members at Texas universities. Yet, a pastor who once owned a car dealership somehow got a spot.  So, 140 people in Texas seems to have a large sway of what is put into textbooks, even in your state, and only three have the credentials usually needed for such work.

Before you think that this is no big deal, remember your history.  Propaganda and indoctrination are things that made Germany, Russia, China, and many other dictatorships last longer than they should have.  If you can get to the children, you can control the future.  The Constitution and actual freedom don’t mean anything to these people.  They are only interested in making sure their failed ideas continue to resonate in the national dialogue.

I strongly urge all parents to read the text books your children are using in the classroom.  If you don’t, you won’t even know that your child is being indoctrinated into a belief system whether you agree with it or not.  In every case in history, that was the beginning and the reason many dictatorships endured.  Although the Cult is more interested in forming a theocracy, a theocracy is a form of dictatorship.  As some have already shown in history, it is easy to do.  All you need do is rewrite history and ignore true science.

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There have been screams from the right for years about how tax-payer money is spent.  They scream about tax-payer money being used to fund abortions for example.  There have also been screams from the right about unions using union dues for campaign contributions.  They want to make sure that any union member can “opt out” of their dues being used to support candidates.  We all know that if unions were endorsing Republican Candidates, this “opt out” wouldn’t be necessary.

Their argument has always been that tax-payer money cannot be used for things like these because everyone doesn’t agree with them.  So, if you disagree with abortion for example, your tax money should not be used to fund abortions, even for military personnel.  On the surface, that seems logical.  But, on the other hand, they have no problem with using tax-payer money to pay for things like Christmas scenes on government property.  They call that religious freedom.

Well, the State of Kentucky has just taken this one step further.  It seems that the State of Kentucky is recognizing a particular religious cult.  They are willing to offer tax incentives and tax-payer money to them to show their support.  Of course, Kentucky is saying they are doing this not to recognize a religious cult, but rather to create jobs.

Here is the story.  Ken Ham and his nuts are planning to build a life-sized Ark based on the biblical story of Noah and the flood.  The Ark Encounter is being built by Answers in Genesis, which also runs the Creationist Museum in Kentucky.  The issue is that this clearly religious organization has been approved by the Kentucky Tourism Development Finance Authority, a state-run agency, for a great deal of state money. Yep, this religious group has received preliminary approval for an $18 million tax incentive.

However, the State is turning a blind eye to the fact that the people who apply for these jobs will be subject to discrimination based on their beliefs. Daniel Phelps, a geologist, president of the Kentucky Paleontologist Society, and vice president of Kentuckians for Science Education, pointed out:

“However, it is apparent that Ark Encounter is likely to discriminate against non-Christians. Moreover, Catholics, mainstream Protestant Christians and some conservative Christians who have different doctrinal beliefs are also unlikely to be hired.

The job description included this statement: ‘Our work at Ark Encounter is not just a job, it is also a ministry. Our employees work together as a team to serve each other to produce the best solutions for our design requirements. Our purpose through the Ark Encounter is to serve and glorify the Lord with our God-given talents with the goal of edifying believers and evangelizing the lost.’”

The entire job description requires a salvation testimony, a creation belief statement and a confirmation of your agreement with the AiG Statement of Faith.  That “Statement of Faith” includes these items.

“Those who do not believe in Christ are subject to everlasting conscious punishment, but believers enjoy eternal life with God.”

And:

“The only legitimate marriage sanctioned by God is the joining of one man and one woman in a single, exclusive union, as delineated in Scripture. God intends sexual intimacy to only occur between a man and a woman who are married to each other, and has commanded that no intimate sexual activity be engaged in outside of a marriage between a man and a woman. Any form of sexual immorality, such as adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, bisexual conduct, bestiality, incest, pornography, or any attempt to change one’s gender, or disagreement with one’s biological gender, is sinful and offensive to God”

And:

“By definition, no apparent, perceived or claimed evidence in any field, including history and chronology, can be valid if it contradicts the scriptural record. Of primary importance is the fact that evidence is always subject to interpretation by fallible people who do not possess all information.”

It doesn’t take much reasoning to figure out that this Statement of Faith, which is required by anyone who will be employed will lead to discrimination against non-Christians, Catholics, LGBT persons, atheists, or anyone else who does not agree with the Statement of Faith.  Yet, As Phelps put it: “The tax incentive, along with the city tax breaks, and the parcel of land sold to the project at a discount by Williamstown, plus $200,000 cash given by the Grant County Economic Development Commission is clearly a case of government entanglement with religion.”

The State may claim that this tax money is being used to create jobs.  But, it is being used to create jobs for a small minority of people.  It will be used to discriminate against anyone who disagrees with the Statement of Faith but still needs a job.  As a result, there can be no conclusion other than the one that says the State of Kentucky is guilty of “recognizing” a particular religion.  That is an obvious violation of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution that says “the government shall not recognize an official state religion”.

Kentucky, the home of the renowned constitutionalist Mitch McConnel, seems to think that the First Amendment doesn’t pertain to them.  But, that is the way it always works.  Vilify your enemies and reward your supporters.  Even if it breaks the law.

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Maybe we should give half props to FOX News.  For a long time now, they have been crying that there is a war on religion in America.  They are half right.  Of course, they claim it is a war on Christianity.  That is the part they have wrong.  The real war on religion is being waged by the Conservative Christian Cult against everyone else.

The Cult is truly amazing in cherry-picking the parts of religious beliefs that they will accept.  They then denounce everyone else as heretics because their religious beliefs don’t jive with the Cult’s.  There are lots of examples which we will discuss.  The main point is that in their zeal to “convert” the world to their way of thinking, they are willing to shred the right to practice your religious beliefs as guaranteed in the First Amendment.  Some have even gone so far as to say the First Amendment only applies to Christian beliefs.  Even if that were true, which it is not, they are still violating the First Amendment because they continue to persecute other Christians.

This year the Supreme Court ruled that “buffer zones” established by states in front of abortion clinics were not legal.  They believe that if a woman wants to get an abortion, the Cult has the right to attempt to interfere with that process, even going so far as to accost women and employees of the clinic to even get inside in peace.  I suppose that means that if a group of people show up in front of a Cult church and started accosting those attending services, that would also be legal.  I would love to see a group try that angle.

Imagine a group of protesters standing in front of a Cult church screaming to the attendees that they are devil worshipers, or other such nonsense.  Even going so far as to trying to block their entrance into the church “for their own good”.  I don’t think it would be too long before the police were summoned to get rid of the protesters.  The Cult believe they can do whatever they want, but no one else can use their tactics.

The fight over abortion is purely a religious fight.  Whether you believe abortion is “right or wrong” is totally down to religious belief.  The Cult says life begins and therefore the fetus is a person upon fertilization.  Other people with religious beliefs don’t think that way.  That is what the abortion fight is all about.  One narrow view of life against other views of life.

The Cult doesn’t want you to know this.  They try to make it out to be “protecting the unborn person”.  That is what all of these “personhood amendments” they keep trying to get passed is all about.  They are trying to force their religious belief on everyone else.  That in a word is “religious persecution”.

There are a lot of people who consider themselves to be good Christians who favor the right to have an abortion.  But the Cult has labeled them as Christians in Name only.  A favorite catch phrase of theirs.  If a woman’s religious beliefs tells her it is okay to have an abortion, denying her that right is religious persecution.  There is simply no other way to look at it.

There are several states with laws and/or State Constitutional Amendments banning same-sex marriage.  Yet, many churches and religions recognize same-sex marriage.  The Cult says “NO, that is the same as bestiality”.  What nonsense.  The whole premise of the Cult’s refusal to recognize same-sex marriage, is again wrapped up in their narrow view of what is in their beloved bible.  Other Christians and other faiths, don’t subscribe to that narrow view.

Therefore, if two people of the same-sex decide they want to get married, and their religious beliefs say that is okay, denying them the right to be married is religious persecution.  Sorry, but the Cult’s argument that the others are “simply wrong” doesn’t cut it.  They are persecuting other beliefs only because they differ from theirs.  The Cult even tried to get legislation passed that would allow them to discriminate against gay couples in normal business affairs.  Again, religious persecution.

Not only that, the Cult is famous for its hypocrisy.  Take the case of  Tennessee. Rep. Scott DesJarlais who is running for his third term for Congress as a “family values” guy.  He recently won his primary for reelection despite the fact that DesJarlais has a long history showing that while he firmly believes women should have to lose their basic human rights in the name of family values, he, as a man, has never shown any interest in making even the tiniest sacrifice for those same values.

It seems that he believes women who are facing an unwanted pregnancy that could derail their lives should suck it up and be made to suffer in the name of “life.” But when faced with the prospect of an unintended pregnancy that could hurt him, he suddenly became a big fan of abortion. It has been reported that DesJarlais encouraged, some would even say badgered his mistress to get an abortion during his first marriage. He also supported his first wife’s abortions.  Yet, he believes that he can run on a pro-life platform.  Apparently the Cult members in Tennessee agree with him.

The Hobby Lobby case proves this point even further.  The Cult member owners of the company claim to have “deeply held religious” beliefs about certain forms of contraception.  They argued in court that they shouldn’t be required to provide those forms of contraception in their health plans for employees.  SCOTUS said absolutely right.

Yet, there are many women who work at Hobby Lobby who believe all forms of contraception are perfectly fine.  Their religious beliefs do not forbid them from using them.  As a result, these woman are being persecuted for their religious beliefs by a company that claims to have deeply held religious beliefs.  Problem is their religious beliefs trump those of their employees.  What else can you call it but religious persecution?

These are just a few examples of religious persecution that is ongoing in America.  FOX was correct in pointing out that it exists.  They were just wrong in who is actually perpetrating this persecution.  In my view, the fanaticism of the Cult’s persecution of the “non-believers” is very similar to other fanatical groups.  So, the next time you hear the Cult scream about religious persecution, remember it is them waging war against your religious beliefs, not the other way around.

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School’s out for the summer!  Our wonderful Congress has taken their usual August recess.  That is a normal thing this time of year.  These politicians will go back to their districts and hold town hall meetings and espouse their wonderful achievements.  Problem is, they don’t have any wonderful achievements to espouse.

The previous two Congresses were the least productive in modern history.  The current Congress is on track to even beat those two in futility.  I know it is hard to believe, but that is the fact.  Congress has left town in a rush to get “reelected” to their meaningless position.  There was a time when holding public office was an honorable endeavor held by people who wanted to make the country better.  The current crop of legislators are anything but honorable.

As the children take their usual recess, huge problems still face this country.  We still have a mess on the border.  There are still thousands of undocumented children waiting for their “cases to be heard” as the 2008 law says they must.  What has Congress done about this humanitarian problem?  Nothing!  Yes, the House passed a bill, but they added so many inhumane elements to it that it will never get through the Senate.  That is once the Senate comes back in September.

Some of these elements do not even include anything to do with the humanitarian problem at the border.  They deal with things that are best covered in a comprehensive immigration reform bill.  But since the House has no intention of even talking about comprehensive immigration reform, they tack on objectionable amendments to laws just so those laws can be killed.

There are still millions of people working 40 hour work weeks for below poverty pay.  There is still an attack on any religious beliefs that to not follow the “white” Christian beliefs.  There is still no immigration reform.  There is still no national marriage equality.  There are still voter suppression laws on the books in several states.  There are still millions of people without health care because Republican states refuse to expand Medicaid.  There are still way too many people out of work.  Our infrastructure is still falling down around our ears.

They did manage to pass a bill that will allow the VA help our veterans better.  But, as usual, they have nothing in it that will address the over 1 million homeless veterans.  Nothing that will address the fact that millions of veterans need food stamps just to survive, which the Republicans want to cut even deeper.  They have basically put a band-aide on a gaping wound our veterans suffer from every day.  They authorized about half of the money the VA really needs.  They say they will address the rest in the “normal budget process”.  Which means the VA won’t get any additional money they need because the Republicans will insist on cutting other safety nets to “pay” for any additional money for the VA.

The one piece of legislation the House is very proud of is the one authorizing the Speaker to sue the President.  That is one bill that every Republican in Congress could get behind.  Wasting millions of tax dollars on suing the President as a political stunt is something they are very proud of doing.

It has been often said that allowing the inmates to run the asylum is a bad idea.  Yet, Mr. Boehner has allowed just that to happen.  The inmates in the GOP are now running the asylum.  Thanks in large part to Mr. Boehner’s inability to actually “lead”.  As a result, a “junior Senator from Texas” has become the de facto Speaker of the House.  Way to stand up to the inmates, Mr. Boehner!

If it was just the inmates in Washington that were running the asylum, I wouldn’t be so worried about it.  But, the inmates are running the asylum in many of the states as well.

The party that says it wants “government out of our lives” are very willing to put government into our lives if it will force everyone to think as they do.  They want “government in of the lives” of the poor by killing social safety nets and making sure they can’t vote because they believe the poor are just not smart enough to trust to vote Republican.  They want “government in the lives” of women and their reproductive choices because they don’t think women are smart enough to make their own decisions.  They want “government in the lives” of LGBT community because they must make sure they don’t have equal rights as the rest of the “normal” world as they see it.  They want “government in science” so they can foster the myth of creationism as the “real” science simply because it doesn’t interfere with profit-making for their big donors.   They want “government in the lives” of the working poor by saying that a Federal Minimum Wage is “hurting” their chances to move ahead.  They want “government in children’s lives” by making sure they don’t learn anything while allowing for profit school companies to make millions in profits without having to actually teach anything viable.

In a time when the country faces many challenges, we are stuck with school children who cannot make decisions.  We are stuck with a group  whose only real concern is hate for anything that doesn’t look or think like they do.  We are stuck with the inmates running the asylum.  I have always been an optimist when it comes to the future of our country.  I must admit, that with the current crop of school children in Congress, my optimism is shaky.

There is one bright side.  With school out for the summer, they can’t pass anymore bills that harm the country.  But, then, they don’t pass bills at all, so maybe that is a good thing too.

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