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Archive for the ‘Science’ Category

Ever since President Obama was elected back in 2008, the right-wing of the Republican Party has been trying everything it can to “delegitimize” his administration.  This attempt has taken many forms.  With the rise of the Tea Party, one tactic that has gained favor is ignoring federal laws that do not sit well with the right.  Meaning, if a state is controlled by the right-wing, they can simply ignore laws in their state that the Federal Government has passed.

We remember sheriffs saying they would not enforce new gun regulations.  Some states even passed laws that would have sheriffs arrest Federal Agents enforcing Federal Law that they state says they don’t recognize.  All of this in the name of liberty and states rights.  Of course it was all nonsense and Texas in the proving ground for this hypocrisy.

In the last election in November, voters in Denton, Texas voted to ban fracking in their community.  The state that calls itself the oil capital now has a community that has banned fracking.  That must be a real black-eye for Texas and their right-wing state legislature.

But since Texas is the loudest proponent of ignoring Federal Law when it suits their purpose, the Denton law must be upheld, right?  Wrong!  Texas isn’t going to take this lying down.  Texas Railroad Commission chairwoman Christi Craddick, who is responsible for oil and gas regulation said:  “It’s my job to give permits, not Denton’s … We’re going to continue permitting up there because that’s my job.”

Then we have Jerry Patterson, commissioner of the Texas General Land Office, who wrote a letter saying, “While we applaud the city’s efforts to promote the welfare of its citizens, we must make sure it is done in a manner consistent with existing state laws … the Legislature has made regulation of underground mineral estates and the methods for producing them a matter of State agency regulation.”

In the vote, the anti-fracking law passed by 59-41 percent.  That is what most people call a landslide.  But, the Republican Party, you know the party that says the state is the perennial foe of everything right-wing people believe in, claims that the people in Denton have no right to such a declaration because the state is the only entity with a say-so in the matter.

The odd thing is that the State of Texas has been in perpetual conflict with the Federal Government saying the Feds don’t have the right to tell a state what to do.  These conflicts have been over voting laws, healthcare and, particularly, environmental regulations.  In 2013, former Texas attorney general and current Gov.-elect Greg Abbott boasted that he sued the Obama administration 25 times for perceived overreaches.

In Texas as well as many other states, they argue that their ban on same-sex marriages is legal because it was passed by a ballot initiative.  Since the people voted for the ban, it is legal and the Federal Government should keep its nose out of the state’s business.  When courts overturned these bans, the states called it government overreach.   Now these same anti-Big Government Republicans are using the State’s Big Government to stomp over the voters of Denton, Texas.

This vote was not something out of the blue either.  There are 272 active wells in the city and another 212 just outside the city limits, so Denton residents ought to know as much as anyone about fracking.  As a result, they voted to ban fracking in their community.

But see, according to the State of Texas, these citizens were “duped”.  David Porter, another leading member of the Texas Railroad Commission suggests, “Denton voters fell prey to scare tactics and mischaracterizations of the truth in passing the hydraulic fracturing ban.”   Mr. Porter sounds more like a PR man for the oil industry rather than a public servant.

This misinformation must have been pretty good.  You see, the main opponents of the ban, energy giants Chevron, Chesapeake Energy and XTO Energy (a subsidiary of Exxon), outspent the pro-ban group, Frack Free Denton, by almost 10-to-1 and still lost.  Either the message from Frack Free Denton was really good, or the people didn’t believe the oil companies.  I am guessing they just didn’t believe the oil companies.

As you know, fracking is the process of shooting a high-pressure mixture of water, sand and chemicals into the earth to jostle natural gas loose from shale formations.  This process has proven to be the cause of numerous environmental problems including air and water pollution.

The bevy of chemicals used in fracking and their health effects are just beginning to be documented.  On top of that, many states have laws that says the chemicals used in fracking is “propriety information” and therefore can be kept secret from the public.  Additionally, places where there has been heavy fracking are experiencing earthquake outbreaks that never occurred before.  Finally, property values around fracking sites have plummeted.  So the people in Denton, Texas has said enough is enough.

Commissioner Craddick defended frackers, saying, “Most of them are active in their communities where they’re doing business and trying to give some dollars back.”   That is so weak of an argument it is almost laughable.  Even Craddick admits that Denton residents don’t own the minerals underneath their homes and town, so we know they aren’t getting any money directly from their extraction.

Adam Briggle, a University of North Texas assistant professor specializing in bioethics and a leader in Frack Free Denton, says that economic benefits from fracking has very little effect on Denton.  As a matter of fact, he says:  “Royalties paid to the City of Denton account for less than 1 percent of the city budget. Taxes from wells amount to only about 0.5 percent of all city property tax revenues. The biggest beneficiaries from fracking in Denton are out-of-town companies and absentee mineral owners.”

As you can see, the cry from conservatives against “big government” isn’t a fight against big government at all.  It is really a cry against democracy.  Here is a town in a state that cries all of the time against “big government” being swatted down by “big government”.  Why?  Because they had the audacity to vote that their town is more important than out-of-town companies making money by polluting its environment.

Next time your conservative friends talk about the loss of “freedom” and “liberty”, ask them about the people in Denton who tried to express their “freedom” and “liberty” and was stomped on by the State of Texas.  I am sure they will give the same lame excuses as Craddick has given.  To conservatives it isn’t about “freedom” or “liberty”, it is all about how much money their benefactors make on the backs of the “little” people.  That is their true definition of “freedom and liberty.”

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The Republican Party is full of contradictions.  As we know, they claim to be for “the rule of law”.  They claim to support the Constitution.  They claim to be all for the First Amendment.  They always talk about “liberty”, “freedoms”, and “personal rights”.  As we move toward the Republicans controlling the whole Congress in 2015, we are beginning to see just how disingenuous they really are about these claims.

Before the election I wrote that we had a choice between keeping our democracy or moving to an oligarchy.  Most Americans didn’t believe me apparently.  Only about 1 in 3 registered voters voted in the mid-term elections.  That is probably the most pathetic turnout I have seen in my lifetime.  As a result of those numbers, Republicans gained control of the Senate which gives them control of Congress.  As a result, they have the ability to pass legislation that will seriously affect our freedom, liberty, and personal rights.

The Republicans have in their platform a “pro-life” stance.  However, “pro-life” is a misnomer.  They aren’t talking about life in general.  They are only talking about whether or not a woman has the right to determine if she wants to continue with a pregnancy or not.  If they were truly “pro-life” they would be against the death penalty.  They would be all in favor of universal health care because there is nothing more “pro-life” than saving people from disease and death.  But, they are not in favor of health care nor are they against the death penalty.

How can a party be “pro-life” and ignore the devastating effects of global warming?  How can a party be “pro-life” and ignore the devastating effects of pollution to the health of our people?  Yet, they continue to say global warming is a myth.  They continue to fight against pollution control.  They continue to fight against ensuring clean water for everyone.

If Republicans were truly interested in civil liberties, they would be all in favor of fixing our broken immigration system and not fighting any reforms.  They would realize that deporting parents of U.S. Citizens because the parents are not citizens, goes against all of their “family value” rhetoric.  But, since these people aren’t white, they don’t have the same “family values” as we do so they can be punished and their children government made orphans.

The incoming leader of the Senate, Mitch McConnell, is all in favor of passing a law that would ban abortions after 20 weeks.  A similar bill passed the House in 2003.  That bill was called the Pain Capable Unborn Protection Plan.  That bill was based on the false pretense that a fetus can feel pain at 20 weeks of gestation.  Of course science has debunked that notion, but as usual science doesn’t exist in the Republican brain so they can ignore it.

But don’t think that will be the end of their attacks.  They are planning attacks on reproductive rights in general.  Especially birth control.  Their lame excuse is that they believe birth control pills should be available over the counter not as a prescription.  Sounds very nice indeed.  However, there are other factors that they fail to mention.  The reason the want “over the counter” accessibility is so their money backers don’t have to provide birth control in health plans.

There is nothing in their articulation of this plan to keep the pill affordable for everyone.  Nor, do they mention the fact that like other medications, it is necessary to monitor the health of the woman taking the pill for possible side effects.  I guess that will be something else that won’t have to be covered in health plans.

On another front, since the courts have overwhelmed the right with their decisions that same-sex marriage should carry all of the same rights as heterosexual marriages and banning them is unconstitutional, there will certainly be legislation trying to rein in those nasty gay people and their marriages too.

See, they get away with all of this in the name of liberty!  They cry that if someone wants to be in a same-sex marriage, those people are taking away the liberties of heterosexual marriages.  They are forcing heterosexual marriages to fail because we all know the “gay agenda” is to make everyone in America gay.  They try to use “tradition” as a means of proving they are right.

They are continuously saying that America was intended to be a Christian Nation and that secularists and atheists have forced us to abandon that intention of the Founding Fathers.  One example they love to use are the words “under God” in the pledge of allegiance.  Most people do not remember or even realize that those words were added in 1954 during the Big Red Scare.  They were not in the original pledge.

The Republicans, and especially the far right-wing of the party, still are living in those days.  Communism is still the biggest bogey man hiding in the shadows.  Fair tax plans where people pay their fair share based on income is Communism to them.  Allowing people to have their own religious beliefs about abortion is Communism to them.  Allowing people the same protections under the law in marriage regardless of sex is Communism to them.  Enforcing the Separation of Church and State as provided for in the First Amendment is Communism to them.

But why would they continue to use the Red Scare to pass these anti-liberty pieces of legislation?  Because their base are the people who lived through those times.  I remember once in Chicago when I was in college a Republican Politician telling the audience that the difference between us and Communist Russia was our religious beliefs.  As the joke of the day went, “Russia is a Communist country so they don’t believe in religion.  That means they have seven days a week to plot our overthrow.  While we here in America use the seventh day to go to church and pray they don’t come up with something.”

Our country has fought through upheavals before.  We have fought very corrupt governments before.  We have fought for civil rights before.  But, as you can see, those fights do not stop.  In order to keep our form of government, we must continue to fight for those rights.

As we move into the fanatics reign of power for the next two years, I only hope we can survive until the next election cycle.  Maybe these two upcoming years will convince the American voters that their votes really do matter.  Then they might actually turn out to get the fanatics out of office.

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In a recent poll, it was reported that 57 percent of the American People believe in Climate Change and that man has a hand in causing it.  That same poll indicated that the majority of the American People wants Congress to do something about cleaning up our carbon emissions.

Speaker Boehner and Senate Minority Leader McConnell have said time and again that the Republicans only want to listen to the American People.  Congress has listened to the American People.  Not that they intend to act on the people’s wishes if they are in disagreement with the Republican agenda.

On Tuesday, while the Keystone XL Pipeline was going down to defeat in the Senate, Boehner and his Republican cronies were passing a law that would hamper the EPA in doing its mandated job of helping to clean up the environment and protecting public health.  The first law which was passed on Tuesday was framed by Republicans as a play for transparency.

H.R. 1422, which passed 229-191, would shake up the EPA’s Scientific Advisory Board, placing restrictions on those real troublesome scientists and creating room for experts with overt financial ties to the industries affected by EPA regulations.

Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas, argued that the board’s current structure is problematic because it  “excludes industry experts, but not officials for environmental advocacy groups.” The inclusion of industry experts, he said, would right this injustice.  Sounds reasonable, but…..

The part the Republicans like best is that the bill forbids scientific experts from participating in “advisory activities” that either directly or indirectly involve their own work.  In other words, experts would be forbidden from sharing their expertise in their own research – which was peer-reviewed.  The Republicans call that a conflict of interest.  But, the inclusion of industry “experts” is not a conflict of interest even though the industry experts are trying to block the EPA from instituting any regulations.

“In other words,” wrote Union of Concerned Scientists director Andrew A. Rosenberg in an editorial for RollCall, “academic scientists who know the most about a subject can’t weigh in, but experts paid by corporations who want to block regulations can.”  The White House has vowed to veto this bill if it ever reaches the President’s desk saying it would “negatively affect the appointment of experts and would weaken the scientific independence and integrity of the SAB.”

This is just the beginning.  There is another bill called “The Secret Science Reform Act” which would prohibit the EPA from proposing, finalizing or disseminating regulations or assessments based upon science that is not transparent or reproducible.”  As the Huffington Post reports:

While the bill’s language would not require the EPA to wait until its research was verified by an outside source to make recommendations, opponents say the bill’s requirements are murky.

“The bill attacks the mainstays of scientific investigation,” wrote Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.) in an email to The Huffington Post. “It would strip away the EPA’s authority to make any rules due to the stringency of the data disclosure requirements.

“The peer review process is the foundation of science inquiry in our society, and is a trusted evaluation of scientific evidence around the world,” he added. “This legislation attempts to dictate how the scientific method is employed,” he added. “The Secret Science Reform Act is an attempt by climate change deniers to stop the EPA from doing its job.”

The irony in all of this is that “industry studies” don’t seem to need the same “transparency” as government-funded studies.  Rep. Randy Weber (R-TX) asked why we think it’s okay to question the industry’s motives, but are more willing to trust government-funded studies, insisting that research with industry ties is a good thing.

Eileen Silbergeld, a professor at Johns Hopkins University, testified that the committee was going after the wrong people. “We need more information, and specifically we need more information disclosure from industry,” Silbergeld added. “I call on them to tear down every wall that hides critically important information that is generated and held by industry.”  There is nothing in this bill that would require industry to “tear down that wall” in industry studies.

Opponents argue that the trio of bills in the House are an attempt by  Republicans to effectively block the EPA from adopting any new rules to protect public health. Or as Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Texas, in an editorial for the Hill said these bills represent “the culmination of one of the most anti-science and anti-health campaigns I’ve witnessed in my 22 years as a member of Congress.”

So, as you can see, the Republicans have listened to the American People.  But, what the American People have failed to realize thus far, is when Boehner and McConnell talk about the American People, they really mean their corporate donors.  Not the American People.  They simply believe that the American People are just too stupid to have a real voice.

When they talk about “small government” what they are really saying is that the American People are small and insignificant so our opinions don’t count!

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I spent the last few days just kind of relaxing and escaping in fantasy.  Friday was a total blowout since my wife had some dental work done.  Everything is fine, but we spent a lot of time at dentist offices getting her fixed up.  Getting old can be a bitch sometimes.  This may sound weird, but I usually take my comedy escapes watching shows on TV like “Ancient Aliens” and “Finding Bigfoot”.

I don’t find them comical because of their beliefs in their topics.  I find them comical because they talk like they are quoting facts instead of ideas or theories.  According to the Ancient Aliens people, ancient man was just too dumb to build things like the pyramids, sphinx, or those grand temples.  They had to have help from ET.  Without the technical help from ET, none of the ancient wonders would have been built.  This isn’t their opinion, they actually want you to believe that it is fact.  They even trot out people who claim that “modern building technology can’t be as precise as these buildings” so it had to be built by superior intellectual ETs.

According to them, it is ancient man’s “misinterpretation” of space ships and ET that explains man’s belief in gods.  One episode even explained that the dinosaurs were killed of by ET in order to make human existence possible.  It seems that ET brought their fighters in to just blast the dinosaurs off the face of the planet so we could evolve.

In Finding Bigfoot, they go into communities to make sure that everyone who claims that they have seen Bigfoot are proven right.  Of course in the entire run of the show, they have never uncovered proof of Bigfoot’s existence, like a body or DNA, yet they talk like they are experts in Bigfoot’s behavior.  One aspect that always makes me laugh is that the vast majority of the sightings have taken place during the daytime.  Yet, they are certain that Bigfoot is a nocturnal hunter and they conduct their searches at night.  Apparently, Bigfoot loves to eat deer, beaver, goats, sheep, geese, etc.

During my viewing time watching Finding Bigfoot, I was struck by something.  The experts seemed to smoothly change their explanations of Bigfoot’s behavior depending on which story they were listening to.  That, unfortunately, reminded me of conservative news shows and talk shows.  These Bigfoot researchers were as adept at changing facts as Fox News is at changing facts of the news item to suit their purpose.  That got me thinking.

Prior to the mid-term elections, Fox News and conservative talk radio were full of ISIS and Ebola threat stories.  Both of these were talked about as the “end of the world was coming” because of them.  The object was to scare the hell out of anyone who watches Fox News to get them to vote Republican.  Funny thing, since the election both of these terrible apocalyptic events haven’t been mentioned very much if at all.  Today’s Fox News website doesn’t have a single Ebola or ISIS threat story.

That is the biggest problem with conservative news outlets and the Republican Party.  They are not interested in telling the American People what their policies are.  They already know that the majority of the people oppose their policies.  So, in order to keep winning elections, they have fallen back on “scare them to death” propaganda.  Since it is our basic nature to become afraid, they use that psychology to scare enough people to vote against their interests.

Their co-plotter in all of this is the Conservative Christian Cult.  Let’s face facts.  The Conservative Christian Cult is anything but Christian.  This is not a knock against Christians.  This is calling out the Cult for what it is.  Basically, the Conservative Christian Cult is a totalitarian dictatorship that bullies its followers with fear.  They tell their followers that if they “stray from the path”, their path, that they are doomed to hell.  They tell people that if you are not wealthy, it is because you do not deserve to be wealthy.  You either don’t have the right desire to become wealthy, or you have been guilty of something that means God won’t give you riches.

I realize that is a simplification of their teaching, but that basically is the gist.  That is why you hear things like it is “God’s will” whenever something happens, good or bad.  The Cult makes it seem like every rich person is rich because God favors them.  Therefore, the rest of us should stop whining about income inequality and glorify God’s will.  So what if your employer doesn’t pay you enough to make ends meet.  That is right of the rich person to dictate what you are worth.  God gave them that right.

I earlier stated that the Cult is anything but Christian.  You can tell that just by listening to their rhetoric about how the poor is lazy.  How homosexuals are a scourge of evil.  How scientists are vehemently anti-Christian.  All of which are total fabrications beget from power-hungry thugs who are no more interested in spreading the Christian beliefs than a Celtic Pagan is.  All they are interested in is reaping the big donations and living the good life while their followers live near the poverty line.  That is why they mostly quote the Old Testament instead of the New Testament.  Don’t really preach about what Jesus taught.  After all, he was more of a socialist than a capitalist.

The problem is that so-called progressives don’t seem to want to engage against these fanatical power grubbing thugs.  They don’t seem to understand that you must fight these quacks by calling them out.  Progressives are just as religious as anyone else.  But, they seem to be afraid to fight back using religious beliefs against Cult’s false religious teachings.  It should not be a risk to show that the Cults religious teachings are not Christian.  Simply evoking the same empathy that Jesus taught would be helpful.  But, for some reason, progressives won’t go into that battle.

While Republicans are scaring the hell out of people with fantasy instead of facts, progressives are not poking holes in their arguments.  While the Cult is scaring their followers with eternal damnation, progressives are not pointing out that their policies are more Christian than the Cult’s.  In order to win the battle, you must at least be willing to engage in it.

Conservatism is by definition backwards looking.  The late Conservative William F. Buckley once said that a “true conservative stands in front of the march of time and yells, STOP!”  If you talk to most Americans, you will discover that is not the philosophy they want the country to follow.  They want the country to move forward with the march of time.

Man is a natural creature.  We have basic instincts.  One of the biggest instinct is survival.  That comes from our instinct of fear.  Republicans, their media outlets, and the Cult have mastered the art of playing to our fear.  They try to make us afraid of everything.  Those “others” who are trying to take your job away.  Those “others” who are trying to kill you.  Those “others” who are trying to spread infectious diseases.  Those “others” who are trying to destroy your marriage by marrying the person they love regardless of sex.  And, progressives let them get away with it.

So, as I sat watching my comedy relief shows over the weekend, I realized that the biggest difference between the experts on these shows and the conservative media, is that these experts actually believe what they are selling.  Compared to the conservative media which changes stories when they can stir up more fear.  Both play to man’s natural instincts.  Unfortunately, too many people don’t see the comic relief in conservative media as they may in Ancient Aliens.  I guess that is because Ancient Aliens and Finding Bigfoot don’t try to scare people and that, at least to me, makes them more factual.

 

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The mid-terms have ended and the Republicans have gained control of the Senate.  That was expected by all the pundits.  Even I believed they would win the Senate, although I had hoped Democrats would do better.  In just about every mid-term election, the party in the White House has basically lost the election.  Including Saint Reagan.

The right-wing is crowing just as we expected they would.  The main headline on their website at Fox News is “GOP Handed Control Of Senate In Rebuke Of Obama Policies”.  Other right-wing media are crowing that “Americans have taken back America”.  They have a month and a half to crow about what Fox is calling “the landslide as a complete rejection of Obama”.

So what happened yesterday?  Basically, the Republicans picked up about six or seven seats in the Senate the majority of which were in Red States that they expect to win.  They did pick up a few seats in what is usually classified as “purple” states.  That was what gave them the majority.  As usual, Louisiana will have a runoff to determine that seat.

Now that the Republicans have won control of both houses of congress, what do they plan to do?  Well, that depends upon whom you speak with.  Mitch McConnell last night talked about “working with the President on things we can agree on.”  While Ted Cruz talks about “pursuing every means possible to repeal Obamacare” and “investigating the President for his lawlessness”.  I am guessing that “lawlessness” is using Executive Authority far less than any of the previous four Presidents used it.  Those two quotes don’t sound like someone who is “willing to work with the President on things they agree on”.

That is going to be the problem with a Republican controlled congress.  There are two basic wings of the Republican Party right now.  One is an establishment wing, which by the way, worked diligently to keep the crazies from winning the primaries in many states, and the far right-wing side of the party that is only interested in power and not governing.

If you think the last several years of obstructionism was bad, wait until the civil war breaks out between these two wings of the Republican Party.  From what he said in his acceptance speech last night, I don’t think Mitch McConnell has been watching the train-wreck called the House Of Representatives.  Does he really believe that he will be able to rein in nut jobs like Ted Cruz where Boehner was unable to?  If he can, he will show that he is an even more masterful politician than I have given him credit as being.

So, where can McConnell find things that the President will agree with him on?  Well the first thing will be the Transpacific Protocol (TPP).  This is a trade agreement with most of the Asian countries we don’t already have a trade agreement with.  However, as with all past trade agreements, we can expect to lose between 500,000 and 1 million high paying factory jobs.  That is not meant as a scare tactic, it is just basic fact!  Look at other trade agreements like NAFTA.

With the TPP we will also see a lot more dumping of cheap foreign steel into our market.  We are already facing the possible collapse of our steel industry because of this dumping practice from Korea.  If the TPP goes through, it will probably collapse completely.  So, our military will have its equipment built using “foreign” steel.  Which by the way is illegal.  So, with a lot of “outsourcing” at stake, you can expect the Republican Senate to “fast track” the agreement.

They will probably find some common ground on reforming laws regulating the NSA.  That would actually be a good thing.  Of course, if another terrorist attack takes place in our country, the Republicans will quickly remove any reforms placed on intelligence gathering against our own citizens in the name of security.  So, this item is not necessarily something they will agree on.

That is about all I can think of where McConnell and the President may find common ground.  When it comes to the economy, taxes, education, the environment, regulations, and the social safety nets, there is no common ground to be found.  The Republicans will bring out their failed economic policies of giving the rich tax cuts, gutting corporate taxes, which 1 in 4 American companies already don’t pay, and eliminating Social Security and Medicare as we know it.  Their problem is that if they go after Social Security and Medicare, they will also be going up against the Tea Party which wants government programs eliminated, except for Social Security and Medicare.  Seems the majority of Tea Party people are already collecting them.

The military budget will be vastly increased.  This will be done in the name of security.  After all, we need the military to “fight wars in other countries so we don’t have to fight terrorism here” has been a Republican cry since 9/11.  Unfortunately, the Veterans Administration won’t see their budget dramatically increased.  Rather the Republicans will try to dismantle it.  They will use the same “voucher” scheme to privatize the VA and reduce veteran benefits as much as they can.  Even if it means these needy vets pay a lot out-of-pocket.

Of course other social safety nets will come under attack.  Food stamps, welfare, WIC, Medicaid, and unemployment insurance will see either reductions or attempts to eliminate them.  The minimum wage increase at the Federal Level is all but dead for now.  Many of these Republicans want to eliminate the minimum wage altogether.  Even though strong red states voted to increase the minimum wage yesterday, and an increase will increase jobs and reduce dependence on the very same social safety nets the Republicans hate so much.

We will see the IRS, Department of Labor, Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Education, and Department of Commerce under attack.  They will try to eliminate all of these departments because they are the ones that put too much “regulation” on businesses.  We will probably see legislation opening our National Parks up to oil and gas drilling.  We will also see the end of subsidies for “green” companies who are developing renewable energy to take us off of oil and gas completely.

There will be no confirmation hearings on any of the open court judges or cabinet positions.  If the President has appointed someone to a post, the Republicans will not approve them.  We haven’t had a Surgeon General for years because the Republicans won’t even allow a hearing on his appointment.  Not because he is unqualified, but because he wrote something the right-wing doesn’t like.  The Surgeon General is the position that helps coordinate agencies like the CDC and NIH in fighting infectious diseases like Ebola.

If a Supreme Court position should come open, we will have eight Supreme Court Justices for at least 3 years because the Republicans won’t approve a nomination by the President.  They will surely call him or her too “liberal”.  It is possible that if one of the “liberal” justice positions open, they won’t complain about the appointee too much since it won’t affect the 5-4 majority the conservatives already have.  But I wouldn’t count on that.

Yesterday, the President offered a meeting with the new leaders of the House and Senate.  All of the media will be on hand and talk about what was said and what can be done.  But, I am more interested in what will surely be a secret meeting between the Republican leadership and the Koch Brothers.  You don’t really think the Koch Brothers will just stay quiet now that hey spent hundreds of millions of dollars to buy this election do you?  That is where the real Republican Agenda will be set.

I don’t know what is going to be more excruciating to watch in the next couple of years.  The continued lack of governing from the Republicans or the potential civil war in their ranks.  There are already signs of turmoil since McConnell said he was willing to sit down with the President to work on things they can agree on.  The Canadian Senator was even hesitant yesterday when he was asked if he would support Mitch McConnell as the Majority Leader.  The right-wing of the Republican party doesn’t want to work with the President.  They want to impeach him.  Sorry, you can’t “work with” someone you absolutely hate.  So we can only hope that the President’s Veto Pen in handy and he is courageous enough to use it.

It has been said that you should be careful of what you wish for, because you may get it.  McConnell wished to be the Senate Majority Leader.  It appears he is going to get his wish.  After six months of having the title, he may rethink his wish.  If the right-wing rebels, like I think it will, he will be the face of failure!  And don’t think conservative pundits like Fox News or Limbaugh won’t be quick to point their fingers at him.

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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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