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Archive for the ‘Science’ Category

In a couple of weeks the Republicans will hold their first debate of the 2016 Presidential Race.  Yeah, I know, it is probably too early for such things, but after all, it is only about six months away from Iowa and New Hampshire.  So, with a total of 16 candidates, and probably more before the whole thing gets really going, they probably think it is time to weed out some of the less likely successful candidates.

The problem I am having with the current crop, isn’t that they are running.  It is what is coming out of their mouths.  A lot of people in the media, especially on the left, are calling a number of the current crop of Republicans “wackos” or “cuckoo-birds” or “clowns.”  Sorry, I won’t buy into that description.  It is far worse than that.

The problem I see is that these people are actually describing their vision of what America should look like.  They are actually, for once, being honest about their hatred for everything a democracy is supposed to be.  They are showing us, with their own words, that if there was ever a crop of candidates running for President that really hate America, they are it.

There is the vulgar, bloviated Trump calling immigrants “rapists” and disparaging former POWs.  We have the ALEC mouth-piece Walker telling America that unions should all be banned and we should be happy with whatever the company says we should be paid or how many hours we should work.  We have the Canadian Senator Cruz hating anything that has to do with governing or compromise for the common good.  We have the theocratic hypocrite Huckabee saying a deal with Iran “will lead the Israeli’s to the gas chamber.”

Then we have the more “moderate” Republicans like Bush, the brother of one of the worst President’s in our history talking about taking away abortion rights and reproductive rights from women and eliminating Medicare.   Then we have that outreach candidate Rubio who claims that “no one wants bad air or water” yet is calling for the elimination of the very agency responsible to protect our air and water, the EPA.  His reason?  It is hurting his rich donors who rely on polluting our air and water to make their millions.

The list goes on and on.  Everyone of these “candidates” seems to find something about democracy that totally disgusts them.  They constantly tell the American people, they are only trying to listen to the American People.  Yet, they continuously vote against the very laws that the vast majority of Americans want passed.  When I say “vast majority” I am referring to poll numbers at 70% or more.  How is that listening to the American People?  Simple, you are NOT  the American People, unless you belong to the top 1% of the income earners.

In several states, photo ID cards are required to vote in person.  Yet, these same states have very lax laws pertaining to absentee voters.  It is far easier to cast an improper vote by absentee ballot than at the polls.  Yet, they claim they are just protecting the ballot box.  Of course the only people who will have trouble getting their photo ID will be young people, poor people, and old people.  All people who Republicans don’t want to vote at all.

Women’s rights have been under attack since the country was founded.  Women have always been classified as “second-class citizens.”  They weren’t even allowed to vote until 1920.  Republicans want to control how they live their lives, how many children they must have, and what decisions they can make for themselves.  According to Republican candidates, women are not capable of putting together a “rational” thought.

If women are allowed to participate in the job market, Republicans say they must accept less money for doing the same job as their male counterparts who are doing the exact same work.  Why?  Because they are women, pure and simple.  They don’t have the same economic needs as men do.  Besides, women should be kept at home, barefoot and pregnant.  They should be totally dependent upon men for their lives.

Republican candidates are all up in arms about the Iran Nuclear Deal.  As mentioned, Huckabee claims it will lead to the next holocaust for the Jews.  The funny thing about all of this is that the largest area of anti-Semitism in this country is in the south.  You know, places like the Carolinas, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, Texas and Arkansas.  More synagogues and Jewish Cemeteries are defaced in the south than in any other part of the country.

I have always found it funny that the Republicans claim to be the biggest supporters of Israel when the vast majority of their constituency are mostly anti-Semitic.  Since groups like the KKK and Aryan Nation and others have their headquarters in these states, it doesn’t take a lot of thought to know this is true.

Republicans, led by their propaganda machine Fox News, has shown continuously that they don’t like the idea of talking about people of color being killed by Police.  They always turn the tables and say that if that person of color just followed the police officer’s orders, they “might” still be alive.  I like that “might” they always seem to throw in there.  When things like “Black Lives Matter” come up as slogans to stop police violence, they try to turn the tables and come up with things like “All Lives Matter.”

They then cry when someone calls out that it isn’t white people being systematically murdered by police officers.  They refuse to reasonably discuss the possibility that maybe, just maybe, these police officers are in the wrong and not the victims.  But that would mean having to actually acknowledge that this country still has a race problem.  Something they refuse to even consider.

Their latest gambit is their cry for “religious liberty.”  According to them, if your religion says it is okay to discriminate against someone else, then it is legal to discriminate against them.  If your religion says it is wrong to have an abortion, you must stop everyone else from getting an abortion.  If your religion says it is wrong to use contraceptives, then no one should be allowed to use them.  If you are a Muslim, you should be put on a “watch-list” since you are obviously a terrorist.  And to help things out here, you are not supposed to be allowed to immigrate here.

That is their definition of “religious liberty.”  To them, “religious liberty” means that they are free to believe what they want.  You on the other hand must believe what they do.  If you don’t, you get no civil rights.  If you don’t believe what they do, you are second-class citizens.  If you are a minority, you must “do as you are told” and not think for yourself.

The Christianity I was taught says we are supposed to “help” the poor.  The Republican idea of “helping” the poor is to eliminate the social safety net.  Medicaid?  Who needs medical insurance if you are poor?  Medicare?  No, get a voucher and spend thousands of dollars you don’t have to keep your insurance.  Social Security?  Why are so many people living so long?  If they outlive their “expire-by-date” let them just fade away.

According to them, Christianity is really all about helping the rich get richer.  It is all about making sure the poor louts stay poor.  It is about letting the sick and elderly just die away to save money.  It is all about cutting public education funding.  Poor kids are supposed to stay poor, so why bother to educate them.  Women should know their place.  They are nothing but homemakers and baby-factories.  Like children, women should be seen and not heard.  Their only purpose in life is to “serve” their man and spread their legs whenever they are told.

That is what these 16 Republican Candidates are offering our country.  That is what they believe America should be.  They want America to be a white society, run by rich white men, and bereft of everyone else.  That is their utopia.  That is their definition of the American Dream.  If you are a worker, you don’t have the right to the American Dream.  Just shut up and accept what pennies they throw at you for your labor.

Jobs?  Health Insurance?  Livable Wage?  Union Representation?  Women’s Rights?  Civil Rights?  Those are all “socialist” or worse yet “communist” ideas.  They have no place in America.  They have no place in our society.  They are all evil ideas put forth by “Satan.”  But, don’t take my word for it.  Just listen to the trash coming out of their mouths.

My first impulse is not to watch the first debate on August 6.  But, it is also like watching a train-wreck.  You hate what you are seeing, but can’t take your eyes off of it.  The problem is that if any one of these dangerous people actually make it to the White House, that train-wreck will be America.  That is the real danger facing us.

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The other day we discussed the GOP phrase of “leave science to the scientists” or at least their desire to tell the Pope that instead of themselves.  Now our nation’s Crazy Uncle Louie (Gohmert) thinks that the Pope is wrong in his encyclical about climate change.  He even went so far as to compare himself with Galileo.

See Crazy Uncle Louie said the Pope did not include a full objective opinion about climate change.  Apparently, Crazy Uncle Louis thinks that the Pope, who has a degree in chemistry by the way, should have included stupid arguments that Crazy Uncle Louie likes to spout.  Since the Pope did not include these wacko comments, it is obviously not a fair and balanced opinion.

Crazy Uncle Louie even went on to say:

The trouble is that [the pope] has been persuaded that climate change is something that is dramatically affecting the planet right now, he’s bought in to all this. We have had popes that made enormous mistakes that were influenced by the world around them.

But it got even crazier.  It was at this point that Crazy Uncle Louie compared himself with Galileo:

Since when does science not allow opposing viewpoints? Well, they didn’t allow Galileo to make an opposing viewpoint, there were a lot of accurate opposing viewpoints that were not allowed at the time that were later allowed to come in.

We already know that Crazy Uncle Louie is not a scientist.  We can also tell by his last comment that Crazy Uncle Louie is not an historian either.  For one thing, scientists of the time of Galileo did not argue against Galileo.  Galileo was a scientist.  It was the Church and the Spanish Inquisition that placed Galileo under arrest not scientists.  The charges against Galileo were not about science, but rather going against church teachings.

So, unless Crazy Uncle Louie thinks that the Pope will order his arrest for going against Church Teachings, I don’t think the comparison between him and Galileo is very apt.  But, Crazy Uncle Louie doesn’t need to be accurate.  He just needs to be loud.

Secondly, Galileo used the scientific method to prove heliocentrism. Crazy Uncle Louie probably can’t spell heliocentrism, much less define the scientific method.  I really believe that if you took a test lab beaker up to Crazy Uncle Louie, he would have to ask what it was or argue that he doesn’t need to take a drug test because he is a Congressman and they aren’t required to be given random drug tests.

This is all coming from a man who is terrified that God is going to be sending a storm of terrorist attacks against our country simply because same-sex marriage is now legal in all 50 states.  As a matter of fact, the same-sex marriage ruling is going to be front and center from now on.

Every time there is a natural disaster in this country, it won’t be because of climate change, it will be because God is punishing us for allowing same-sex marriage.  A very convenient excuse and argument for people like Crazy Uncle Louis.

Naturally, we will be hearing from others like the Canadian Senator Cruz, the unthinking Rick Santorum and others on the Republican climate denial band wagon supporting and defending Crazy Uncle Louie.  The unfortunate side to all of this is that Crazy Uncle Louie would be great comic relief, except for one thing.  He is expected to vote on issues like this that will affect the country and the globe for generations.  That is way too scary to be comic relief.

Since he obviously has his finger on the pulse of his wacko constituent, I do not foresee Crazy Uncle Louie going away anytime soon.  I don’t know, maybe the Pope should place him under house arrest like Galileo.  At least we would know where he was at all times.

 

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For years now the Republican Party has denied that climate change is real.  They have called it a left-wing hoax.  They have said that the “jury is still out” on climate change.  They have argued that making changes to our energy sources would hamper the economy.  They have said that “scientists” have it out for capitalism.

Over 97% of scientists in the world have said that climate change is real.  They all agree that man is having a major effect on our climate and that the change occurring is more man-made than anything else.  Humbug say Republicans.  There is no “real” evidence that man is impacting the climate, even though scientists say we are.

Then suddenly Pope Francis put out an Encyclical that basically says that climate change is real.  That man is responsible for that change.  That man must do more to protect the planet.  He even put a religious spin on it saying it is our moral obligation to care for the planet “God has given us.”

All of the so-called Christian candidates on the Republican side went bonkers.  People like Jeb Bush and Rick Santorum, both Catholics, said the Pope should stay out of the issue.  They said, “the Pope should leave science to the scientists.”

Now that, some may say, is advice that they should follow themselves.  Yet, they still deny that climate change is real.  Even after our own Department of Defense has said that climate change is a major threat to our national security, these people still refuse to believe in climate change.  They still are waging their war on science because it does not fit with their political and economic game plan.

Every year the earth is warmer than the year before.  We see weather patterns changing.  We see drought around the world, even in states that have more than their share of climate change deniers.  Ted Cruz says NASA should not spend any money on climate research.  He says it should stick with exploring space.  He is the chair of a committee that funds NASA.

You may think that this is hypocrisy.  That is not necessarily the point.  Rather than looking at this as some form of hypocrisy, you need to remember what the real issue is.  The real issue is that their major donors are the very people and corporations that rely on fossil fuels for their income.  If we were to turn away from fossil fuels, that would mean capital expenditures for places like electric companies, and a real slash to the profits of the fossil fuel energy companies.

That is the real issue.  It is very important for the climate deniers to continue to deny reality in the name of profits for their donors.  It is very important for climate deniers to keep their office so they can continue to feel important.  Some call this protecting profits for the few.  I call it simple greed.  Greed is very anti-Christian.  But then, that is what their form of Capitalism is really about.

Yes, it is time for Republicans to “leave science to the scientists.”  But don’t hold your breath.  As long as science threatens their purse strings, they will never accept reality.  Yet, as we have seen with the Pope, they will be quick to tell him to leave science to the scientists.  That way, they can keep science political and not part of their delusional reality.

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The other day, the U.S. Supreme Court actually shocked me!  That is hard to do in most cases.  However, taking into consideration the conservative view of the current majority of the court, this one actually shocked me.  In case you haven’t heard, the court ruled not to review North Carolina’s Ultrasound Law.

A lower court and then the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the law earlier.  This law was one of those draconian laws that forced women who wanted an abortion to go through an ultrasound with the doctor required to read a script detailing what she was seeing.  It didn’t matter of the woman wanted the ultrasound, or even wanted to hear what the doctor told her.  It didn’t matter if the doctor was against this procedure and script reading either.  If the doctor failed to follow the law to the letter, that doctor risked losing his license to practice medicine.

Handing down its decision, the Fourth Circuit stated:

Informed consent frequently consists of a fully-clothed conversation between the patient and physician, often in the physician’s office. It is driven by the “patient’s particular needs and circumstances” … so that the patient receives the information he or she wants in a setting that promotes an informed and thoughtful choice. This provision, however, finds the patient half-naked or disrobed on her back on an examination table, with an ultrasound probe either on her belly or inserted into her vagina… Informed consent has not generally been thought to require a patient to view images from his or her own body much less in a setting in which personal judgment may be altered or impaired. Yet this provision requires that she do so or “avert her eyes.”

Rather than engaging in a conversation calculated to inform, the physician must continue talking regardless of whether the patient is listening… The information is provided irrespective of the needs or wants of the patient, in direct contravention of medical ethics and the principle of patient autonomy. Forcing this experience on a patient over her objections in this manner interferes with the decision of a patient not to receive information that could make an indescribably difficult decision even more traumatic and could “actually cause harm to the patient.” … And it is intended to convey not the risks and benefits of the medical procedure to the patient’s own health, but rather the full weight of the state’s moral condemnation.

This refusal to review the case by SCOTUS is a potential major blow to the anti-choice forces.  One of the key elements of their fight against choice has just been rendered illegal.  There are several states that still have such laws on their books.  And, you can be sure they won’t go down without more legal wrangling.

The Republican base is all for telling people what to do and how to act.  We have seen this nonsense in various forms of stupid laws and legal wrangling in the last several years.  Besides this draconian law, the conservative base of the Republican Party wants to be the sole determining source for many of life’s biggest decisions.

Remember the fight in Florida about when a woman could be taken off of life support?  That was a huge political issue.  Remember the brain-dead woman in Texas that was kept on life-support simply because she was pregnant?  Remember the cases in Tennessee where women were charged with murder of an infant because they had a miscarriage?  These cases were all determined by conservative laws that tell the average person only the conservatives in this country have the right to make decisions for them.

The other factor that no one talks about in these types of cases is fiscal.  The states tell you what you may or may not do, and if you decide to go against them they tell you that you have to undergo very expensive medical procedures before you can go ahead with your decision.  Yet, even though you are forced to undergo these procedures, you are still stuck with the bill.

In the cases in Florida and Texas, the state did not “pick up the bill” for the added useless medical treatment they forced on these women.  None of the states that require an ultrasound prior to an abortion pick up the tab for that procedure either.  The patient and their families are required to pay for these procedures even if they don’t want them.

Let’s be honest, none of these procedures are cheap!  Unfortunately, this type of stupid law may not be limited to stupid conservative states.  Scott Walker is Governor of Wisconsin and is running for President.  Wisconsin passed a similar law to the one in North Carolina that was just struck down.  He said of his law:

I’ll give you an example. I’m pro-life, I’ve passed pro-life legislation. We defunded Planned Parenthood, we signed a law that requires an ultrasound. Which, the thing about that, the media tried to make that sound like that was a crazy idea. Most people I talk to, whether they’re pro-life or not, I find people all the time who’ll get out their iPhone and show me a picture of their grandkids’ ultrasound and how excited they are, so that’s a lovely thing. I think about my sons are 19 and 20, you know we still have their first ultrasound picture. It’s just a cool thing out there.

We just knew if we signed that law, if we provided the information, that more people if they saw that unborn child would, would make a decision to protect and keep the life of that unborn child.

Yes, the Governor thinks these ultrasounds are “a cool thing.”  But, he also tells you exactly why forced ultrasounds are necessary.  To convince women NOT to have an abortion.  No other reason, just to make women change their minds.

This is the kind of country we are potentially facing.  One where the government will decide what is “moral” and what is not.  If they consider something “amoral” based on its narrow interpretation of some ancient book, then they will tell you what you can and cannot do.  One thing fascists all around the world throughout history has advocated for is that women have as many children as possible.  It is the only way to ensure enough “soldiers” to fight their wars of aggression.

Maybe it is time to ask if these laws forcing people to undergo treatment they don’t want is really a step in that direction?  Thankfully, at least for now, the courts, including SCOTUS says this kind of law is illegal.  Maybe, just maybe, that is a step away from Republican interference in our personal lives.

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We are about half way through the year.  The Presidential election process for 2016 is underway with a myriad of candidates.  The budget is supposedly being worked out and there are a lot of questions which the budget could answer, but probably won’t.

A few years ago, sequester became a reality.  Mitch McConnell has claimed that was a major victory for the Republican Party.  But, as always, things have changed since then.  We have seen the rise if ISIS in the middle-east.  We have seen the Ukraine problems and Russia’s annexation of the Crimea.

These have all sent the war hawks into a tizzy.  They ask: “How are we expected to fight all these things with the Defense Department hampered by sequester?”  So, the new budget being proposed by Republicans in Congress will increase the Department of Defense budget by about 9 percent.

Unfortunately, that increase isn’t really going into the Defense Budget.  It is a gimmick where the money is going into a special fund used to “fight wars.”  That is a whopping $38 Billion dollars.  In the meantime, non-defense spending is supposed to remain under sequester.

We have seen a tragic accident on Amtrak.  Yet, under a bill just passed by the House, Amtrak’s budget is going to be cut by $242 million.  TSA has made the headlines because of failed tests of the screening they do at airports.  Yet, under sequestration, the TSA budget has been regularly cut.

Since the report of the tests became public, Republicans, the very party that insisted on TSA in the first place, now say it would be more efficient to turn it back over to the same private security that failed on 9/11.  By the way, when a Republican says something would be more “efficient” what they are really saying is “cheaper.”

In the past few years, we have seen bigotry raise its ugly head again.  It isn’t just about black and white anymore either.  It is about sexual orientation, it is about immigration, it is about women’s rights.  The same Republican Party that claims to defend the Constitution is working tirelessly to void rights to these groups of people simply because they are different.

If you just look at immigration, you can see the total hypocrisy in their arguments.  People like Ann Coulter say immigration, of any kind, should be stopped.  She doesn’t just hate undocumented immigrants, she hates legal immigrants, too.  Yet she is more than happy to show up on an immigrants news network to spew forth her hatred for immigrants.  Yes, I am talking about Fox News which is owned by an immigrant.

Since the 1970s we have seen our infrastructure start falling apart.  Our roads are overcrowded and dangerous.  Our bridges are collapsing underneath us.  Our dams are in danger of collapse.  Our electrical grid is antiquated and just waiting for the next trigger to cause a major blackout.

For example, Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower wanted, and got passed the Interstate Highway System.  He used public money and said it was for Defense purposes.  Having such a highway system, he argued would make it easier to transport troops in times of need.  Yet, that very highway structure supposed to make it easier to transport troops is so overburdened that it almost useless.

Additionally, our railroad system is suspect as well.  Look at all of the train derailments we have had just in the last couple of years.  This country lags the rest of the developed world in high-speed rail systems.  As a matter of fact, we DON’T HAVE a high-speed rail system.  These all hurt our economy as well.  We don’t transport our goods as fast as we should.

To make matters worse the only export business being conducted by our corporations, supported by Republican policies, is to export our jobs to China and other foreign countries.  All the while taking advantage of tax loopholes in the tax code so they don’t have to pay any taxes in this country.  Over half of the Fortune 500 companies in this country pay nothing in taxes!

We lead the developed world in the number of uninsured people, even with the Affordable Care act.  We are at the bottom of the developed world in terms of pensions and care for our retired people.  And, we are forced to work longer, because of our poor pensions, than anyone in the developed world.

The EPA is, as usual, under fire because it wants to do its job and protect our drinking water and the air we breath.  It wants to protect our planet’s climate.  Republicans claim climate change is a hoax.  Yet, the one department’s budget they want to defend the most, the Defense Department, has said that climate change is a severe threat to our national security!

Yet, all of these things are being sacrificed in the name of the Defense Budget.  We must remember, as Republicans tell us, we live in very dangerous times.  We must be prepared to defend ourselves from those evil people in the world.  That may all be true.  But, as a veteran, I am compelled to ask a simple question.  What exactly are we defending?

Why should anyone be willing to put their lives on the line for a country that treats its own people like they are the enemy?  Why should anyone be willing to put their lives on the line for a country that is willing to throw away any injured veteran?

We always hear Republicans talk about “American Exceptionalism.”  What is so exceptional about a country that says it costs too much to ensure everyone has health coverage?  What is so exceptional about a country that treats minorities like they are second-class citizens with no civil rights?  What is so exceptional about a country that treats its elders like they should just die off and make things cheaper for the survivors?

What is so exceptional about a country that asks its young to defend it, and then treats them like some leper when they need the physical and psychological help after fighting in wars?  What is so exceptional about a country that allows its infrastructure to collapse possibly killing people when a bridge falls down or a dam breaks?  What is so exceptional about a country that had an education system that was the envy of the world only to let it fall off the charts reducing the opportunities for those who graduate from that failing school system?

What is so exceptional about a country whose policies are driving good paying jobs overseas instead of fighting to keep them home?  What is so exceptional about a country that allows its working class to fall behind the cost of living while giving tax breaks to the wealthy and corporations and arguing that the minimum wage isn’t necessary?

There is nothing exceptional about any of those things.  Yet, that is our reality today.  I served my country for 20 years.  I have never looked for praise or thanks.  I served because I believed I was doing the right thing.  I enjoyed my years in the Coast Guard.  I help save countless lives which was what I wanted to do.  It was a pleasure to serve my country… then.

But, things are a little different now.  When I was in the Coast Guard,  I served a country that was in favor of better living standards for the poor and elderly.  I served a country that was proud of its educational system.  I served a country where working class people had bargaining rights that ensured them fair pay for fair work.

I served a country that was fighting against bigotry at home.  I served a country where immigrants were welcomed and not spat upon and called names.  I served a country that was far closer to that fairy tale of “American Exceptionalism” than the one we live in today.  The country I served was not perfect.  We had a lot of problems.  But, it was different in that it was trying to solve our problems, not just blame someone for those problems.

Yes, all of these items I have mentioned costs money.  Yes, taxes may have to go up, especially for the wealthy, if we are to face reality and fix our problems.  Yes, civil rights must be more than a slogan or catch phrase.  They must be defended for ALL of our citizens.

Immigration policies must be reformed.  We must make it more costly for a company to “outsource” our jobs and cheaper for them to keep those jobs here in America.  We must ensure our poor and elderly are helped and not criticized for “being takers.”  We must protect our environment and our planet’s climate.

If we do all of these things, we will have something to defend.

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I want to make this very clear.  I spent my adult life working in fields that helped other people.  When in the Coast Guard, I worked disaster relief more than once.  When disasters happen, people need help and there should be no interference from politicians from them getting that help.

Think back to 2013.  Super Storm Sandy raged up the East Coast of America.  New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and other states were hammered by the storm.  Businesses and people lost everything they had.  FEMA was called in and Congress debated billions of dollars in relief aid for the victims.

Ted Cruz didn’t think that was what the government should be doing.  He voted against the aid.  Cruz said:

Two-thirds of this spending is not remotely “emergency”; the Congressional Budget Office estimates that only 30% of the authorized funds would be spent in the next 20 months, and over a billion dollars will be spent as late as 2021.

This bill is symptomatic of a larger problem in Washington – an addiction to spending money we do not have. The United States Senate should not be in the business of exploiting victims of natural disasters to fund pork projects that further expand our debt.

As you can see, one of his biggest complaints is that the money wouldn’t be spent immediately.  It would be spent over time as people rebuilt their lives.  He called it “an addiction to spending money we do not have.”  Cruz has also been calling the President a socialist.

Just last month in New Hampshire, Cruz said:

Obama is a disaster because he’s an unmitigated socialist; what he believes is profoundly dangerous, and he’s undermined the Constitution and the role of America in the world.

As you can see, Cruz says he is against any form of “redistribution” of money and calls that “redistribution” socialism.  Okay, sounds like he is being consistent.

But wait.  Fast forward to now.  Parts of his home state of Texas has seen very ugly storms, huge rainfall amounts, and massive flooding causing property damage and death.  Cruz is famous for telling people in trouble to “hitch up your boots and get to work.”  He believes that people in trouble don’t need any help from the federal government.  Well……. that is until now!

Cruz was very explicit about his demands from the administration.  He said:

The federal government’s role, once the Governor declares a disaster area and makes a request, I am confident that the Texas congressional delegation, Sen. Cornyn and I, and the members of Congress both Republicans and Democrats will stand united as Texans in support of the federal government fulfilling its statutory obligations, and stepping in to respond to this natural disaster.

Quite a change of opinions here.  He was against Super Storm Sandy relief, but when that relief is needed in Texas, he calls it “the federal government fulfilling its statutory obligations.”  You may say that he is just doing his job.  He is never going to NOT ask for money for Texas, that would be political suicide.

But, his ranting about “socialism” isn’t just confined to federal disaster relief money.  His rantings about “socialism” goes to the very day-to-day budget operations of his state.  For example, did you know that a full one-third of the Texas State Budget comes from the Federal Government?

That is right, Texas gets a full one-third of its annual budget from the federal government.  Every state gets money from the Federal Government every year.  It is used to help repair roads and other important infrastructure.  It is also in the form of Medicaid money and other “social safety net” programs.  Texas has never turned down that money because of their stance against “redistribution” from other states.

The top five states that get more money from the Federal Government than it pays in taxes are all in the south and are all Republican controlled states.  That sure sounds like “redistribution” to me.  But, it is only “redistribution” if they say it is.

Then we have the “redistribution” made necessary by the Great Recession of 2008.  Texas received $6.4 billion in funding, as requested by former Gov. Rick Perry, from the Recovery Act; which, by the way, has been referred to as the “failed stimulus” by Cruz and others. The redistributed stimulus money balanced the Texas budget and preserved its rainy day fund. In total, Texas was the third-highest recipient of stimulus funds, totaling more than $33 billion.

As you can see, Cruz claims to be fiscally conservative.  He claims that the President is the worst kind of socialist.  He claims that he and his Tea Party cronies have all the answers to our problems.  But it turns out that Texas is really the state that harbors the most socialists in the country.

I don’t want to see any relief money denied to Texas families and businesses.  We are supposed to help our neighbors in times of need.  On the other hand, it is time for Cruz, Abbott, and other Texas politicians to be called out for their lying to the American People.  It is time for the truth about Texas Socialism to be brought to light.

I guess what we really need is for this truth to be brought out so it will be easier for the American People to tell Cruz and his Tea Party cronies to simply “shut the f… up!”  Then vote them all out of office.

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There are two laws in Missouri that really go against each other.  The first is the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.  The second is Missouri’s 72 hour waiting period and “informed consent” law about abortion.  This problem is coming to a head.

A woman who belongs to the Satanic Temple wants an abortion.  She went to Planned Parenthood and filed an exemption form stating that the 72 hour waiting period places an undue burden on her religious beliefs.  Planned Parenthood rejected the exemption form based on Missouri’s 72 hour waiting period and “informed consent” law.  The woman, called Mary Doe in court documents, and the Satanists have filed suit over the denial.

In Missouri, and several other states, the waiting period has no medical or scientific basis.  It is merely a forced waiting period so the woman can digest the “informed consent” material they are forced to endure.  This material has no medical or scientific background or need either.  Most of the material is intended to make a woman feel guilty about her choice, thus forcing her to change her mind.

The Satanic Temple says that is a violation of the RFRA.  Spokesman Lucien Greaves says that “in our tenets, we hold that one should make decisions based on the best scientific evidence available and that a woman’s body – anyone’s body – are subject to ones own will.”  He claims that the state mandated material is not scientifically based, is nothing more than state-propaganda designed to sway an individual’s decision, and therefore is against their religion.

That puts the 72 hour waiting period and “informed consent” law in conflict with the RFRA.  The really weird part of this story is that the Hobby Lobby case at the Supreme Court opened the door for this conflict to happen.  In the Hobby Lobby case, Hobby Lobby argued that certain contraceptives were abortifacients.  They are not abortifacients, yet Hobby Lobby argued that they believe they were and therefore should not be forced to provide them in their health coverage.

The Supreme Court ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby.  In essence, the court ruled that even if the science does not support your claim, as long as you hold “deeply religious beliefs” about your argument, you are right.  Which brings us to the “informed consent” law in Missouri.

The Satanic Temple is saying that they believe that the material being forced upon women is not scientifically based and inaccurate.  Under the Hobby Lobby ruling, they only need argue they have a “deeply held religious belief” that the material is bogus and therefore, they are correct.

There have been other challenges to the waiting period laws that have failed.  However, this is the first one using the RFRA as a reason the waiting period laws are invalid.  I know that not many people are going to support the Satanic Temple.  However, it is a religion, whether or not you agree with them, and therefore should be protected under the RFRA as well.

The other sad part of the story is that the Satanic Temple cannot get a pro-bono lawyer to take up their case.  So, they are forced to look for donations to continue this case.  I am extremely surprised that the ACLU doesn’t take up the case.  So, I ask the ACLU to please explain why you aren’t taking up this case.

The ruling in this case has a lot of ramifications.  None of them, in my opinion, are positive for the Conservative Christian right who are behind these anti-abortion laws.  If the courts rule in favor of the Satanic Temple, what does that mean for everyone else?  Would these waiting period laws be stricken?  Probably not.  More likely, the state legislature would change the waiting period laws to remove any religious exemptions from them.

Taking that step would indicate that they really don’t believe in the RFRA they so dramatically scream about when it suits their desires.  It would also prove that they are only interested in forcing their beliefs on everyone else, religious freedom be damned.

If the court rules against the Satanic Temple, there would be a legitimate argument that the court is “defining what is religion and what isn’t.”  That would also be bad for everyone.  If the court rules that the Satanic Temple isn’t a real religion, which religion will be next?

Yes, this case is one that is worth watching. The arguments put forth by the state to defend their waiting period law will allow the world to see just how insincere they are about religious freedom.  It will open up the can of worms that prove their arguments about religious liberty is one-sided and hypocritical.

To be frank, I hope this turns out to be a real dilemma for the Christian right.  It will only accelerate the movement away from religion recent polls are indicating is happening.  Then, maybe, we can have legitimate discussions about our issues and not have religious bellicose drowning out potential solutions.

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