Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Things That Suck’ Category

Congress has passed a budget for 2015.  Well, they sort of passed a budget for 2015.  In their “cromnibus” they have budgeted the full year for every department except the Department of Homeland Security.  They funded that department only until February 27.

Additionally, this budget had a rider that gives banks the right to get back into the “swaps” business.  That means that the big banks can go back to risky trading that caused the 2008 economic meltdown.  After that meltdown, the Dodd-Franks bill was passed by Congress.  One of the provisions of that bill meant that if banks wanted to engage in “risky” trading, they could not use money insured by the FDIC.  They had to go outside of the normal bank channels.

Most of the banks continued with this trading, but had to set up different companies to do so.  That meant that the FDIC was not on the hook if things went south again.  But, Republican Rep. Kevin Yoder of Kansas introduced the rider in the middle of the night before the House voted on the budget.  The unfortunate part of this rider is that it was written by none other than Citigroup!  That’s right, the banks wrote the bill that allows the banks to re-engage in risky trading on the taxpayer’s dime.

Remember in 2010 there was a splinter group in the Republican Party that was railing against the bank bailouts?  That group called themselves the TEA Party.  TEA stood for “Taxed Enough Already”.  The addition of this rider in the budget was a great time for these ultra-conservatives to hook up in a bi-partisan way with liberal Democrats who were against this rider as well.  They could have forced the rider out of the bill.

That didn’t happen.  The TEA Party raised no voice against this rider even though it opens the door to another economic meltdown that would force the taxpayers to bail out the banks again!    No, their only concern was “defunding” the President’s Executive Order on Immigration Reform.  They didn’t care about the banks writing a bill that only benefits them at the potential risk of the American Taxpayers.

As a result, they went along with the budget bill and it passed both houses.  However, the Department of Homeland Security is still hanging out there without full funding for 2015.  We will have another fight in February over their budget when the Republicans have control of both houses.

Let’s take a look at that as well.  The Republicans are screaming that the Executive Order is “amnesty” for illegal immigrants.  It isn’t amnesty at all.  It is a three-year hiatus on deporting illegal immigrants who have family members in the U.S.  Yes, they will be able to apply for legal status, but there are a series of things like paying back taxes and going through a criminal background check first.  Additionally, all of this is funded through fees, not the annual budgets of any agency in the Department of Homeland Security.

The Department of Homeland Security is made up of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Customs and Border Patrol, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Transportation Security Agency, United States Coast Guard, Secret Service, and others.  If you take a close look at these departments, they all have something to do with keeping illegal immigrants and/or drugs out of the country.

These are the very agencies that help protect us from not only illegal immigrants, but terrorism as well.  If this department is not funded, then the Border Patrol won’t be conducting patrols on our borders.  The Coast Guard won’t be as efficient in protecting our harbors from terrorists.  ICE won’t be able to deport illegal immigrants.  And the beat goes on for other agencies as well.

These are all things the Republicans, and especially the TEA Party, are screaming should be increased.  Yet, they are willing to defund these agencies to “defund” an executive order which does not rely on the budget to pay for its activities.  You and I both know that is insane.  But, the Republicans and the TEA Party are anything but sane.

So, we have a sort of budget for the Federal Government through 2015.  But because of the politics being played by the Republicans, we face another economic meltdown because the banks can use taxpayer insured money to go back to playing casino in the markets, and we have a real potential for terrorists and mass illegal immigration because the one department of our government on the front line of these battles isn’t funded through the whole year.

The Republicans added these riders to the bill because they knew that the Democrats and the President did not want to have a government shutdown right before the holidays.  They knew they were playing hostage again, and this time they won.  I am sure that if we waited until after Republicans took control of both houses next month, the bill would have been much worse than it is.  That is what they were counting on.

What the Republicans are really doing with this “cromnibus” is playing Russian Roulette with our economy and our security.  It is not the first time they played this game with the economy.  The deregulation of the banking industry was a direct result of the last economic meltdown.  This is the first time I can remember them playing this game with our security.  Seems the Republicans do not support our security as much as they claim.

Should another economic meltdown occur, or another terrorist attack take place on our soil, the Republicans will be directly responsible because they are totally irresponsible with these two riders they placed in the “cromnibus” just passed.  Just another example of Republicans proving they support their big dollar donors and not the American People.

Read Full Post »

I was going to hold off on saying anything about the CIA Report that was released yesterday.  I wanted to actually read and digest the information contained in it before making any statements.  However, with all of the apologists running around telling us how effective these torture techniques were, my anger keeps growing by the minute.

I am not going to write about what is in the report since I haven’t read the whole thing yet,  But, I am going to write about the whole argument surrounding torture practiced by the last administration.  I am going to say this as plain as I can.

Torture is the most vile, evil and intolerable form of interrogation imaginable.  The only people who participate in torturing prisoners are sick, evil, pathological criminals who do not deserve a single word of praise of any kind!

Please understand me.  I am not making a sweeping accusation against every member of the CIA.  I know people who work there, and they would never be party to any of this idiocy.  They are really trying to protect us through real intelligence gathering on our enemies.  I even know people who resigned from the agency when all of this first came to light.  They were even more disgusted than I was.  But that does not remove the fact that members of the CIA were involved in torturing prisoners.

The right-wing is all in an uproar about the release of the report.  Apologists from the Director of the CIA, Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, and George W. Bush, et al, are all singing the praises of the CIA for conducting such techniques.  They claim that torturing prisoners “saved lives.”  They are lying through their pearly white teeth.  Instead of “saving lives” they have put the lives of American Armed Service Personnel and American Civilians working abroad in danger.

The military has known for decades that torture does not work.  We have seen, and some of our service members have experienced torture at the hands of an enemy.  That torture did not work then, and it does not work now.  So why do people believe that torture works?  Because they are very sick individuals without any regard for the rule of law or common decency.

America is a signatory to the Geneva Convention.  That means we are not allowed to torture prisoners.  Until the George W. Bush administration we abided by that agreement.  I don’t want to hear any more stupid arguments how these prisoners were not “prisoners of war” they were terrorists.  That has always been a bogus argument to justify the sick nature their treatment.

There is another argument that goes we were justified because we were attacked.  Well, we were attacked on December 7, 1941.  We did not treat prisoners in that war as we have treated these prisoners.  We abided by the agreement.  Again, this is just another sick argument to justify the fact that we allowed sick people to mistreat prisoners.

The torture techniques used by the Bush Administration basically constitute criminal atrocities!  The absolute idiocy in all of this is the only person from that administration who is serving any jail time is a whistleblower who brought the torture to light in the first place.

Here I am going to say something that may sound hypocritical and probably anger a lot of people.  If I was President right now, due to the political pressure we already face, I probably wouldn’t attempt to declassify all of the report in order to prosecute the previous administration and those responsible for the torture.

Instead, I would probably go on TV with an address to the nation.  In that address, I would acknowledge the report and everything in it.  I would explain what I believe needs to be changed in regards to the CIA so this sort of thing could never happen again.  I would even put forth a plan that Congress could vote on to make those changes.

One thing I would definitely do is to say:  “In order to fix our problems, we need the cooperation of anyone who may have been involved to tell us the truth about what happened.  Therefore, I grant a pardon to the previous administration and those in the CIA who may have been involved so they can be fee to tell the truth in the necessary upcoming hearings on Capital Hill.”

Before you go completely crazy over my suggestion, please understand my reasoning.  By granting a “pardon” the President will be placing a very big “C” for criminal on the previous administration.  He will be signaling to the world that we understand that these people committed criminal acts.  Because of a simple pardon, the George W. Bush administration will be known throughout history as an administration who committed atrocities.

In the meantime, when we see another headline talking about the killing of an American by a group like ISIS or Al-Qaeda or another terrorist group, we will know that the George W. Bush administration is fully responsible due to their own acts of barbarism.

I have believed that the one thing that really made Americans stand out from the crowd was our ability to face adversity and fear with a calm and reason.  The Bush administration used fear as an excuse to torture people.  As a veteran and a citizen I find that unforgivable.

Read Full Post »

Eight months ago, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence voted to release its report of the CIA’s use of “enhanced interrogation techniques.”  Since then, the Senate has been in negotiations with the CIA over its release.  Last week, Secretary of State, John Kerry, telephoned Sen. Dianne Feinstein and asked that she delay the report’s release.

Bloomberg reported “His call came after an interagency process that decided the release of the report early next week … could complicate relationships with foreign countries at a sensitive time and posed an unacceptable risk to U.S. personnel and facilities abroad.”

Of course, Fox News has outlandish headlines reporting “US posts on alert over potential backlash from CIA report, lawmaker warns of ‘violence’.  Needless to say that “lawmaker” who wars of “violence” is none other than House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich.

“I think this is a terrible idea,” Rogers said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “Foreign leaders have approached the government and said, ‘You do this, this will cause violence and deaths.’ Our own intelligence community has assessed that this will cause violence and deaths.”

Of course, the fact that the CIA used “enhanced interrogation techniques” to garner information from detainees is nothing new.  This has been reported on ever since 2002.  The report does not actually break ground in reporting these techniques such as waterboarding, sleep deprivation, or confinement in small spaces.  All intended to “break” the detainee.  The problem is that none of these techniques proved to be useful in obtaining any information that couldn’t have been gotten through normal interrogation methods.

I have no doubt that releasing this report will casus violence in parts of the world.  I also believe that American diplomats and personnel need to be on high alert to protect themselves from such violence.  Remember, it was a stupid internet movie about Islam that caused violence in Arab nations in the Mideast and Africa in 2012.  Radicals are always looking for tools to use to recruit new terrorists.  This report would obviously be used for those purposes.

But, the release of the report means more to this country than to others.  During this shameful period in our history, the government actually “sanctioned” these “enhanced interrogation methods” against detainees.  That sanctioning was in direct violation of our own Constitution.  Something the right claims to want to uphold.  Releasing the report may help to heal the wounds caused by these actions.  It should also make it more difficult for future administrations to follow such practices.

This report is basically a 480 page executive summary of the final report of over 6,000 pages of still classified documents.  The right is fully against the release of the report because it will expose George W. Bush and Dick Cheney for their complicity in these illegal acts.  Don’t forget, no one has ever been brought to trial for these shameless acts.  No one has even been held accountable in any way for them.

I think the report should be released for one simple reason.  How can we as a nation supposed to support law and order be kept in the dark about possible violations by our own government of that “law and order”?  How can we continue to espouse we are a nation of laws, liberties, freedom, and rights while hiding a past that violates those very tenets we supposedly hold dear.

By releasing the report, we will also be showing the world that we won’t hide our heads in the sand when our government does something wrong.  We are willing to air our dirty laundry to show that we are fallible.  That we know the difference between right and wrong.  That we are willing to accept when our government breaks the very laws they are supposed to uphold.

What could say more about a people than to admit our wrongs and to work diligently to ensure those wrongs are never repeated?  Evil things were done in our name.  We have a right to know the depths of those wrongs and who were responsible for committing them.  That is what democracy is about.  That is what America is supposed to be about.

If release of the report is held up until the next Congress goes into session, it will never see the light of day.  Republicans will never allow its release because it will shoot holes in their “uphold the constitution” mantra.  War crimes do not uphold our constitution.

 

Read Full Post »

Retirees are once again under attack from lawmakers.  There are a lot of things going on that are not being reported on by our great news media.  For one thing, lawmakers are again fighting to reduce the Cost Of Living Adjustments (COLA) for millions of Americans.  These COLA cuts will affect recipients of Social Security, Military Pensions, and other government pensions.  That means as we get older, we will receive less in increases to our pensions.  Meaning, of course, that we will continue to get poorer.

People in public pension funds like teachers are trying to find out the conditions and fees that their pension funds are paying to private equity firms.  In Kentucky, the State refused to release this information about their teachers pension fund to a teacher.  Kentucky is not alone in this refusal either.  Illinois, Rhode Island, and other states have refused to release this information citing “proprietary secrets” in the contracts.

In a recent essay, Steve Judge, president of the Private Equity Growth Capital Council, wrote that secrecy is necessary and appropriate to protect the financial industry’s commercial interests.

“The argument that [agreements] should be accessible to the public is akin to demanding that Coca-Cola publish its famous and secret soda recipe,” he wrote. “Like Coke’s secret recipe, [agreements] contain proprietary and commercially sensitive trade secret information that, if disclosed, could undermine a private equity fund’s ability to invest and generate high returns for its limited partners.”

This issue isn’t just in the public sector either.  There is another battle quietly underway about private pension funds.  Basically, funds that are “multi-employer” pension funds.  These funds mostly cover unions, but private companies also join in the multi-employer pension funds.

What is happening is that these private funds are running out of money.  This lack of money is the result of lower union membership caused by states passing right-to-work for slave labor pay, and the underfunding by their employers to these funds.  For instance, Hostess underfunded their pensions for years, and then declared bankruptcy and then abandoned the pension funds.  As a result, they want to reduce the pension payments to people who have already retired.  Meaning that millions of people will receive less payments than they planned to get.

However, lawmakers on Capital Hill need to get involved in this as well.  See, in 1974 there was a law passed that a person who retires cannot have their pensions reduced.  If they were promised a certain amount of money during retirement, the company cannot reduce those payments.  This bill was modified in 1980 and this section was strengthened.

There is a federal fund that guarantees these funds.  However, if a pension fund goes defunct, the payments from the federal guaranty is about half of what the retiree should be getting.  This has caused several funds and lawmakers to get together and figure out a way to pay the pensions at a reduced rate that is higher than the guaranty.  But there is nothing in the bill that would force these funds to at least attempt to become solvent first.

There has been a principle in this country that any changes to retirement plans DO NOT AFFECT those already retired.  Any changes effect only those who are still working.  This bill in Congress will change that principle and basically screw those retirees who are counting on their pension to survive.

This is the real problem behind pension funds and how they are managed.  After all, with many high-fee Wall Street firms failing to deliver returns that beat low-fee stock index funds, investors like Warren Buffett are saying public pension systems shouldn’t be plowing retirement savings into hedge funds, private equity and other so-called “alternative investments.”   That is an especially powerful argument when such investments keep allowing the financial industry to charge ever-higher fees in near-total secrecy.

This problem isn’t just with public funds or multi-employer funds either.  Do you know exactly how much your 401K is paying in fees to the Wall Street Bandits?  How come if you are unhappy with low results from your funds, you cannot decide to reduce the fees you are required to pay?  Why are there no clauses protecting the investors when these firms fail to deliver on promised results?  We are all being ripped off by Wall Street companies and probably don’t even know it!

It was once said that we live in a “throw-away” society.  We don’t hold on to things as much as people in the past.  These pension fund problems are proving that the real part of our “throw-away” society is not goods, but people.  Especially elder people who worked a lifetime and then see the pensions they earned under constant attack.

Since pay is so low to begin with, I am willing to bet that at least 80-90 percent of the retired population must have their pensions in order to just survive.  As AARP said, the average senior lives on $20,000 per year.  With all of these proposed cuts to current retirees, that figure will decrease dramatically.  I once heard that “growing old was a bitch.”  I didn’t realize that was because we are expected to die soon after we retire.  That is the ultimate equation in our “throw-away society.”

Read Full Post »

Thanksgiving is over and the Christmas Season has officially begun.  Being of sound mind and body, I decided not to partake in the madness of Black Friday.  As a matter of fact, I make it a point to stay away from any shopping area during the Thanksgiving weekend.  If the right-wing news media wants to show rioting, they just need to show up at places like Wal-Mart and film the raucous behavior of the shoppers.

Now that the madness of Black Friday weekend is over as well, most of us will settle back into our lives.   We will begin to make our “wish lists” for gifts we hope to get.  And, we will eventually head to the malls and do our shopping, if we don’t shop online.  Again, personally I prefer to shop in local stores rather than online.  I try to purchase from local stores and only go to national stores when I can’t find what I want at local merchants.  I prefer spending my money in my community, where I hope it will stay.

As we move along during this festive season, the right-wing will begin its obnoxious rantings about how Christmas is under attack.  The Self-Anointed Prophet Bill O’Reilly and his cronies will begin their “War on Christmas” in earnest.  We will hear how it is offensive to wish someone Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas.  Even though Christmas is not the only holiday celebrated at this time of year.

O’Reilly will pontificate about the true meaning of Christmas and how the left is trying to do away with Christmas and with Christianity itself.  He will wail about how you can no longer have the government pay to put up religious scenes on public property.  He will cry about how other religious groups can put up displays next to Christmas displays in parks as long as they pay for them.  You see, it is all a conspiracy created by the President to make America a heathen country with no religion, or worse yet, a Muslim country.

The Conservative Christian Cult will join in the chorus of complaints.  They will wail about how LGBT groups are making it difficult for “normal” people to celebrate Christmas.   They will tell us that allowing LGBT people to raise children is an aberration that is killing religion and Christmas in the country.

The right-wing of the Republican Party will have their own versions of how those “others” are killing our family values and our traditions.  Christmas will be high on their list of things that those “others” are trying to eliminate.  We will hear time and again how the U.S. was “founded using Christian Principles” by our Founding Fathers.

All the time, these people will be wailing against everyone who is not what they consider to be a “real Christian” but rather a “Christian In Name Only”.    The right will be wailing against everyone who is not in their camp.  They will scream about anything they feel is a slap to their beliefs.

The questions we should ask ourselves though is what are these people actually trying to get done with their “War on Christmas?”  Are they really afraid that Christmas is going away?  Are they really afraid that Christianity is going away?  What are they really afraid will happen?

We will be able to answer those questions simply by looking at what they have and are trying to pass as legislation.   They have passed, and are still trying to pass, legislation that would allow you to discriminate against anyone you wish simply on religious grounds.  They passed legislation, and took a fight to SCOTUS to keep “religious companies” from having to include birth control in their medical plans.

They have been passing legislation with the sole intent of making abortion illegal.  They are telling everyone that if a woman gets raped, she must have “invited” the rape by her actions.  They have fought legislation that increases the penalties for domestic abuse and child abuse.  They have, and will continue to introduce legislation that will force their religious beliefs on the rest of society.  They call this “freedom of religion” all the while denying others their religious freedom.

What these people are actually doing is making the divide in our country even bigger.  They are preaching to the older generation (unfortunately, my generation) about how life used to be and how things are changing.  As a result, their quiet little lives are under attack by all of those “others” who are out to get them.  The problem is that the older generation is falling for their gimmick.  They all seem to have forgotten about the changes we fought for in the 60s.  They fell into their own little world and basically checked out of society.  They lost their dreams and their Christianity.  Yes, hippies were mostly Christian.

As a result, the very people who fought for social change in the past, are now the ones afraid of change in the future.  The Cult and the far right-wing wackos are taking advantage of this amnesia to take over the country and form their little theocracy.

Our country was founded to be a secular nation.  “The government shall endorse no religion” is very prominent in the First Amendment.  Freedom of Religion means we all have the right to live our lives believing in any religion we choose.  Or, to live our lives NOT believing in any religion at all.  And, with no fear that the government will interfere with those rights.

Which brings us back to the celebration of Christmas by Christians.  If the Cult and their lackeys on the far right are against religious beliefs they do not agree with, are they really Christians?  If they believe that discriminating against someone they consider to be “sinful” is legal, don’t they go against Christian teachings?  If they believe that their wealth is the result of god favoring them, doesn’t that go against Jesus saying “give up all you have and follow me?”  If they are against the social safety nets that help the most needy in our society, doesn’t that put them at odds with “whatever you do to the least of you, you do to me?”

So, when the Cult ramps up their rhetoric about the “War on Christmas” and the “War on Christianity” remember it is they who are the real attackers of both.  They are the ones who claim to be Christians but defy all of the Christian teachings.  Sorry, but the Cult is anything but Christian.  They are anything but Americans, either.  Their real Christmas Wish is to have enough power to make America a white, Cult country where everyone else is a second-class citizen.  In their power-hungry, crazy thinking, that is celebrating the real meaning of Christmas!  After all “Peace On Earth” and “Goodwill Towards All” are just left-wing words against the real spirit of Christmas.

 

Read Full Post »

On the eve of Thanksgiving, are we witnessing the Requiem For American Democracy?  I do not ask this question flippantly either.  It is something that we need to answer this holiday season, or we will certainly face the real possibility of our freedoms and liberties going the way of the dodo bird.

Two days ago, in Ferguson, MO. the county prosecutor made his announcement that Officer Darren Wilson would not face any charges for the shooting death of Michael Brown.  This announcement, unfortunately, was totally anticipated by anyone who has been watching the tragedy playing out for nearly four months.

The also anticipated rioting happened within hours of the announcement.  Depending on what network you watch, these riots are either the result of a few “outsiders” who went to Ferguson to cause trouble, or it is the result of an entire race of people who do not believe in law and order.  I think you can guess which networks are saying what without even turning on the TV.

The riots in Ferguson are deplorable.  I have always believed that protests are the only way that ordinary people have to get their voices heard.  However, I have always deplored violence.  Violence, as they say, begets violence.  Additionally, in such circumstances, it is extremely hard to determine who is actually causing the violence.  For example, on the first night, I was watching and saw the police firing smoke bombs at protesters.  I don’t know why they were firing smoke bombs either.  It appeared that the protesters at that point were peaceful.

As the confrontation continued, violence became more of the norm and the situation escalated out of hand.  That is the problem with rioting.  You don’t know how it all starts.  Plus, you don’t know which tactics are helping or hurting the situation.  As Mayor Richard J. Dailey said during the 1968 Convention Riots in Chicago: “The police are not there to cause the riots.  They are there to preserve the riots.”

But, it isn’t the rioting in Ferguson that makes me ask the question.  There have been riots before, and I believe there will probably be riots in the future.  What makes me ask the question, is the way the county prosecutor handled it from the beginning.  A Grand Jury hearing is NOT a trial.  It is only used to keep control of the prosecutorial process.  In a Grand Jury, they are supposed to look at evidence to see if there is sufficient evidence to charge a person with a crime.

In normal Grand Jury hearings, the whole process is controlled by the prosecutor.  The prosecutor is using the Grand Jury to support his belief that a crime was committed and that there should be a public trial of the case.  Defendants, or the accused, are usually not present, and do not testify at the hearing.  Again, this is not a trial.  It is a secret hearing to protect the Jurors and allow them to make a fair judgement of whether or not there is sufficient evidence to press charges.

Unfortunately, in this case, the Grand Jury hearing was not a Grand Jury hearing.  It was basically a “secret trial” of the accused.  And, that is very troubling to me.  If you don’t believe it was a “secret trial” just listen to the noise from those who supported Wilson.  They are calling this decision an acquittal.  How can it be an acquittal if there was no trial?

The prosecutor said that he would release all of the transcripts of the hearing to prove his point.  I find that extremely dubious at best.  Let’s face facts.  Whenever a person reads anything, they add their personal biases in their readings.  Plus, you do not hear the voice inflections of the person testifying or the person asking the questions.  Verbal testimony at trials is critical because we can hear those inflections and see the body language of the people involved.

Those inflections and body language often allows us a visual to help determine if the person is telling the truth.  It also allows us to determine if the question is a “softball” intended to help the witness or a “hardball” intended to poke holes in their testimony.  Nor, are we able to tell which witnesses were treated as “friendly” or “hostile” which can make a lot of difference as well.  Simply reading the transcript will not give us those “signals” of truth or fabrication.

I know, for example, that anyone reading this article, will determine whether or not they agree with me based on their biases.  If someone is prone to “lean left” there is a real possibility they will agree with me.  If the reader is more prone to “lean right” I doubt this article will sway them.  And, that is fair enough.

As a result, we are still faced with the fact that this was a “secret trial” which the prosecutor did not want to go public.  Which makes me wonder why the prosecutor did not want to take the trial public.  I once lived in the area near Ferguson for three years.  I had a few police officers as friends.  Most were honest hard-working officers in the true pursuit of protecting the public.  Others were simply driven by their power over certain “classes” of people.  I suppose that is true everywhere.

By allowing the county prosecutor to hold his “secret trial” the Judicial System has another chink in its armor of being “equal” for all.  History also shows that “secret trials” are the beginning of the end of the democratic process.  By denying the family of the real victim in this case to have an open and public trial to determine the guilt or innocence of the shooter, the system has failed again.

It may have turned out that Darren Wilson would have been found not-guilty of any charges brought against him.  It is also possible that he would have been found guilty.  We shall never know because the county prosecutor did not want the real truth to come out in the open.  He wanted to control the narrative and the justice system in defense of a police officer.  This same prosecutor has taken four other similar cases of police officers shooting unarmed civilians to the Grand Jury.  In all of those cases, not one single charge against a police officer was handed down.

As we sit around the table this Thanksgiving we should be asking the real question.  Does this case signal a Requiem For American Democracy?  Some call this case justice.  Most call this case a charade.  If we continue to allow prosecutors to hold “secret trials” we will never know the truth.  “Secret trials” could be the real beginning of the end for our democratic way of life.

 

Read Full Post »

Conservatives are still crowing about their victory.  Although, the infighting has already started within the Republican Party.  The ACA is in the crosshairs of the Tea Party wackos.  They want a total repeal of the law.  McConnell is starting to talk about “fixing” parts of the law but apparently realizes that a total repeal is not going to happen anytime soon.  Especially with President Obama still in office with his veto pen.

Yet, on the horizon is a case that the Supreme Court has announced it will hear.  The case is King V. Burwell.  The plaintiffs in this case say that the law, as written, only allows for government subsidies to the poor if those people signed up via a state-run exchange.  Since 36 Republican controlled states did not set up an exchange, their citizens had to use the Federal Exchange.  According to the plaintiffs, that means those citizens in those 36 states are not supposed to get subsidies to help pay for their insurance.

On Friday, SCOTUS agreed to hear the case.  This has set off a firestorm on the right that “Obamacare” is doomed.  Just about every “legal expert” says that the challenge is bogus.  I am not a lawyer, so I don’t know if it is or not.  Frankly, I get just as lost in legalese as most people.  I do know for certain that all laws and their wording are subject to interpretation.  One professor I had once took out his pen.  He gave us a simple example of how legalese can be so misleading.

First he said that you may say, “I give you this pen.”  But, if you later decide to take it back, you have the right to do so because you didn’t say “I give you this pen forever.”  He then put up a full-page of legalese that would be required to say if you actually gave a pen to someone.  It was maddening and frustrating to see a simple act of giving a pen to someone can be so tedious in legalese.  That put me off on wanting to become a lawyer.

But, that is what the plaintiffs in King v. Burwell is looking for SCOTUS to rule.  In their mind, the simple fact that Republican Governors and Legislators decided not to participate in the exchanges, that their citizens are not legally allowed to get these subsidies. That is their “silver bullet” to help kill the ACA.

If SCOTUS rules in favor of the conservatives on this, it is estimated that over 5 million people will have their insurance ripped from them because they won’t be able to afford the payments.  All of them live in Republican controlled states.  Many of them have health insurance for the first time in their lives.  But, without the subsidies, they will not be able to afford that insurance anymore.

Everyone has not fully accepted the ACA yet.  There are still millions of people who are being denied coverage because these same Republican controlled states refuse to expand Medicaid.  So, those who cannot afford to purchase insurance, even with the subsidies, are still doing without.  The conservatives in King v. Burwell want to add another 5 million people to the uninsured ranks.

Why are they so crazed to put more people on the uninsured lists?  They want to use them as hostages!  We have heard that slogan before.  Hostages, they believe, will help them gain control and force their policies onto the American People.  They have used the ACA before when they shut down the government.  Problem was they took the hit for that.

What are Republicans going to say to their constituents who will lose health coverage if SCOTUS rules that they are not allowed to get the subsidies?  How is it even possible to believe they will have an answer to 5 million people losing their health care?  Apparently, they don’t care if those 5 million people lose their health care.  How are they going to explain to their citizens that the citizens in neighboring states can get the subsidies and remain covered while they cannot?  Do they really want their citizens to fall into a “second class citizenship” status when it comes to health care?

What they want is to do away with the ACA once and for all.  There have been over 50 votes in the House of Representatives to repeal the ACA.  Speaker Boehner has promised at least 20 times to lay out what the Republican plan would be to replace the ACA.  No plan has ever been laid out.  That is probably because the Republicans don’t have a plan.

Should SCOTUS rule in favor of the plaintiffs in this case, total chaos in the health industry will ensue.  Look at the simple facts.  If you take 5 million people out of the health care market, that means health companies will begin to lose money.  That means the rest of us who can afford insurance will be forced to pay more for it.  More hospitals will be forced to close.  Doctors will lose patients and thus income as well.  And, worst of all, people will die because they cannot get the health insurance and treatment they need.

We already know before the case is even heard that 4 conservative members of the court will vote in favor of the plaintiffs.  We know this because it takes 4 justices to vote to even hear a case.  That leaves Chief Justice Roberts as the swing vote.  He has been somewhat hesitant in previous cases from overturning the ACA outright.  He may do the same again and vote against the plaintiffs.  But, if he does vote with his fellow conservative justices, chaos in the health care industry is just around the corner.

The Republicans are still shouting how they are going to end gridlock and “get things done.”  If the conservatives win this case, the full ACA may fall apart simply because costs will skyrocket.  The Court will do the Republicans dirty work for them.  Conservatives will be overjoyed because they see millions of people losing their health insurance as a victory.

However, if the howling from their states becomes too great, McConnell and Boehner will be forced to come up with a plan.  But then, Mr. Cruz will raise his ugly head and scream about any plan to fix or replace the ACA and the internal war will boil over.  Rooting for a favorable ruling in King v. Burwell may put McConnell and his conservative cronies in a conundrum.

Then again, it just might show whether or not the Republicans are really ready to govern.  The health of average Americans should be too great a price for these stupid games.  That seems to be what Republicans are best at.  Playing stupid games with the American People as pawns.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 198 other followers