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Archive for the ‘Things That Suck’ Category

One of my college history professors once talked about the two chambers of Congress.  He explained that the House of Representatives would always have turmoil.  He based that idea on the fact that it was made up of a lot more people from varying parts of the country.  As a result, he claimed it would be more difficult to get a consensus on many issues.

On the other hand, he said, the Senate was considered more of the “adult” house in Congress.  Since each state only gets two seats in the Senate, and since the rules in the Senate were far more strict than in the House, it was much more likely that compromise would flourish in the Senate.

Way back then, that seemed like a reasonable concept.  I figured that with only 100 members in the Senate, it would be a lot easier for both sides to sit down and compromise on issues in order to get things accomplished.  The country would be able to move forward, and the rights of the minority population would be protected.

The idea that the Senate was the “adult” house of Congress took into consideration that both parties wanted to accomplish good things for the American people.  It took into consideration that compromise was a good thing.  It took into consideration that both sides knew they weren’t going to get everything they wanted.

Unfortunately, something happened along the way since my time in college.  That something became partisanship.  I am not talking about ideological partisanship.  I am talking about “my way or the highway” partisanship.  Believe it or not, this all started back in the 1980s.  It began with the election of Ronald Reagan as President.

Now, I am not going off on a bash Reagan campaign here.  I am simply stating facts as I see them.  This isolationism between the parties began when Reagan got the Fairness Doctrine cancelled in 1987.  If you don’t remember the Fairness Doctrine, here is a simple definition of it.

The Fairness Doctrine was a policy of the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC), introduced in 1949.  It required the holders of broadcast licenses to present controversial issues of public importance and to do so in a manner that was, in the Commission’s view, honest, equitable and balanced.

It had two basic elements: It required broadcasters to devote some of their airtime to discussing controversial matters of public interest, and to air contrasting views regarding those matters. Stations were given wide latitude as to how to provide contrasting views: It could be done through news segments, public affairs shows, or editorials. The doctrine did not require equal time for opposing views but required that contrasting viewpoints be presented.  If stations did not follow the Fairness Doctrine, they could lose their license.

The demise of the Fairness Doctrine under Ronald Reagan led directly to the partisan “talk radio” we suffer through today.  It allowed broadcasters to present their views without having to offer contrasting views.  As a result, the conservative movement ran screaming to the microphones.  As Rush Limbaugh once boasted: “Reagan brought down the wall, and I was the first to scramble over the ruins.”

The demise of the Fairness Doctrine directly led to the existence of radio hosts like Limbaugh, Jones, Huckabee, and of course Fox News Network.  They were free to bloviate whatever they wanted without having to talk about the other side.  Why were the conservatives the first to use such tactics?  Because they always felt that the mass media was against them.  They believed that they could get more people to vote for them if they could “tell” their side without fear of being forced to “tell” the other side.

Over the years, this has led to the rise of such wonderful groups like the Tea Party.  These fanatical conservatives consider “compromise” to be a four-letter word.  They consider “fair and balanced” reporting as being “liberal” and “socialist.”  As a result, we now have two basic camps in the media.  One is ultra-conservative and the other is more liberal.

This means that if you really want to find a “fair and balanced” perspective on issues or candidates you need to search through hundreds of sources.  Most Americans don’t have time for that.  As a result, we have settled into those same two camps.

As a result, more ultra-conservative Senators have been elected.  That is not necessarily a bad thing, but when these same Senators refuse to compromise in order to move the country forward, that is a bad thing.  When these Senators are at the mercy of the money of radical ultra-conservatives who only care about their own pockets, that is a bad thing.

The demise of the Fairness Doctrine has also led to the “coming out” of radical videos.  It is now okay to heavily edit a video of a conversation you have had with someone just to show how bad the other side really is.  You do not have to show the whole video to show complete context anymore.  The latest round of videos aimed at Planned Parenthood is a perfect example.  There have been others.  And, I dare say from both sides.

That is why you don’t hear anyone telling their audience that these videos were heavily edited to show one side of the issue.  They don’t have to say that anymore.  You may say ethics would force them to “tell the truth” but ethics took a back seat with the demise of the Fairness Doctrine.

As a result of all of this nonsense, we have a dysfunctional government.  We have two houses of Congress full of spoiled brats who cry that everything must be their way or else.  We have Senators who actually want to shut down the government in order to “defund” Planned Parenthood simply because they hate abortion.  Abortion is not the only services Planned Parenthood offers, but that is enough to shut them down.  Even if it means shutting down the government.

Because of this frenzy of partisanship, Mitch McConnell says he won’t have negotiations with Democrats over the upcoming funding bills needed to fund the government.  He says he would consider what to do once Congress returns in September.  He has refused to hold negotiations with Democrats for months.  Which is another reason we are facing another government shutdown come the end of September.  All because he is afraid of the spoiled brats on his side of the aisle.

I don’t know if that History Professor is still alive today.  I do believe that he would have to reconsider his idea that the Senate is the “adult” house in Congress.  And, it all has to do with Reagan getting enough of his people on the FCC to kill the Fairness Doctrine.

If you really care about our country and “fair and balanced” reporting, we need to bring back the Fairness Doctrine.  Its demise is the root cause of our dysfunctional government and the isolationism between parties.  When you don’t have to present both sides, the truth will never come out.

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The biggest unfortunate side of the Chattanooga, TN shooting of 5 service members is that it has become the cause celebre for all of the crazies.  Or, should I say all of the bigots and fringe groups.  Since that tragic day, the wacko bunch has come out of the woodwork faster than you can say “oh shit!”

One gun shop owner, a full believer in the Constitution of the United States announced that his gun shop is now “Muslim Free.”  He doesn’t say how he intends to discover who is and who is not a “Muslim” but there he was standing in front of his all-inclusive Confederate Battle Flag making his announcement.

We have lunatics calling themselves “patriots” in open-carry states now saying they will “defend” our recruiters.  They have started showing up in front of Recruiting Stations openly carrying guns declaring they would defend our recruiters.  This is because they believe that the Defense Department is “wrong” in not allowing recruiters to carry guns wherever they go.

There has been a large outcry on Facebook about the President not ordering the flag put at half-mast in honor of these servicemen.  They claim that the President is “disrespecting” our service members by not immediately issuing the order.

I simply don’t know where to start on this.  So, I guess I will take them one-at-a-time.  First, that gun shop owner who claims to have a “Muslim Free” gun zone in his gun shop.  He claims to have the right to refuse to sell guns to anyone he believes is dangerous.  But, there is no right to refuse to sell guns just because of a person’s religion.

What he is saying is that if you are an American Citizen protected by the Second Amendment of the Constitution and have a right to own a gun, you still cannot purchase one in his shop if you are a Muslim.  In other words he has taken on the task of defining who is and who is not a citizen protected by the Constitution.

The simple fact that he is standing in front of a Confederate Battle Flag shouts loudly exactly what he means by “Muslim Free.”  Since he claims he won’t be asking you what religion you belong to, the only way to determine if you are a Muslim is by skin color or name.  If you are not white, and have one of those “funny middle-eastern names” you will obviously be considered a Muslim and refused service.

On the other hand, if you are white, you will be gladly sold any weapon you want.  Apparently, he doesn’t know that there are millions of white people who are Muslims in the world.  Even right here in America.  I personally know dozens of white Americans who are Muslims.

The second one involves recruiters for our military branches.  We now have crazies “walking the beat” outside recruiting stations carrying all sorts of weapons from assault rifles, sniper rifles, and hand guns.  All without being asked by the Department of Defense to “protect” the recruiters.

One of the greatest things about our country is that our military doesn’t go around carrying weapons everywhere they go.  You will find armed soldiers in other countries, even so-called democratic countries.  I can guarantee you that if our military personnel have been carrying weapons in public before Chattanooga, these very same crazies would be screaming at the top of their lungs.  It would be the proof they need that the government is trying to “take over” the country.

This so-called “protecting our recruiters” is nothing more than a very sick publicity stunt to get their names and pictures in the papers and on news stations.  It serves absolutely no purpose.  As a matter of fact, it is probably going to hamper these recruiters from doing their jobs.

Not many people are willing to cross a line of armed men to walk into a recruiting office.  Additionally, the added publicity these wackos are creating only increases the possibility of another attack.  If that should happen, what is going to be said when these odd-balls start shooting and innocent civilians are killed in the crossfire?  It will be the responsibility of these “patriots” if that happens.  But, of course, they will claim they were just doing their “duty” to protect the recruiters.  Those innocent civilians were just “collateral” damage.

These same people are calling for recruiters to be armed.  To many that sounds reasonable.  However, there is a difference in the training of personnel to carry arms in a combat zone and carrying arms in a civilian area.  There are lots of rules and laws that must be met, even for the military.

That means more training for recruiters, many administrative personnel, has to be conducted before they can carry arms in the office.  It also means that armories must be built and established to house and protect those weapons when not being carried.

The Coast Guard, being law enforcement, has such training for personnel.  However, not everyone goes through it.  I did.  I even had to go through the “shoot-don’t shoot” training.  If you failed that test, you were not allowed to carry a weapon in public areas.

All of this costs money.  The Defense Department is facing calls for cuts in their budgets.  They are facing base closings and reduction in forces.  How can they afford to add the costs of the training and armories needed before recruiters are armed?

Even if this all happens, how can they go to a High School or College Campus with weapons?  If you ask recruiters, you will discover it is hard enough to get to these places already.  Not many of them will be happy if the recruiter shows up carrying a handgun.  As I said, this has more potential to hamper recruiting efforts more than help them.

Third, the issue of the flag at half-mast.  I don’t have a problem with the President ordering flags being flown at half-mast in honor of these men.  Actually, he has issued that order.  But, on the other hand, I have a problem with it being flown at half-mast for these men and not the rest of service members who have been killed.

Yesterday I wrote about the problems at the VA and how fixing it is the best way to “support our troops.”  What I didn’t put in that article is that a veteran commits suicide every 65 minutes.  That means about 23 veterans commit suicide every single day!  Are we to fly the flag at half-mast for them?

Where do you draw the line on that issue?  If the flag was lowered every time a service member was killed, we would never see the flag at full mast again.  That is just a simple fact.  You don’t “respect” servicemen by lowering the flag in honor of their death.  You show “respect” by making sure their families are properly taken care of after their great loss.

You see, once a service member dies, their families are basically cut off.  Just as one example, the survivors of a fallen service member must vacate military housing within 30 days of the funeral.  They lose most of their benefits.  They lose almost all of their “privileges” like shopping at the exchange.  They become just another survivor of a fallen service member.

I seriously mourn the five members who were killed in the senseless shooting.  I also hate it when these kinds of situations brings the crazies out of the woodwork.  These service members deserve better than that.  Their families deserve better than that.

Yes, security at recruiting stations needs to be reviewed.  The DOD says a report is due on Friday.  There are thousands of way to better protect our recruiters than with arms.  Especially when you consider that one “trained” recruiter accidentally shot himself in the leg when he began carrying a weapon.  What would have been said if he had accidentally shot a recruit?

Honor those who were killed.  Remember their families in your prayers, if you are prone to pray.  But, don’t praise these wackos who are looking for nothing more than publicity.  That is not honoring these brave men’s memory.

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I am not really sure what to say about the political environment today.  We have been ensnared into falling into two basic camps.  Conservative or Liberal.  But, as everyone really knows, that is insane.  The American people as a whole are neither conservative nor liberal.  I believe that the vast majority of the American people are in the middle.

There are arguments about whether or not we are middle-left or middle-right.  I really think it depends on who is running for office.  Yes, there are pockets where ultra-conservative and/or ultra-liberal politics wins out, but that is really a minority not the majority.

This is all coming to a head during this 2016 Presidential Election Cycle.  You can see it everywhere you care to read headlines.  Some “pundits” are calling for a more radical liberal agenda.  Others are calling for an ultra-conservative agenda.  Neither is even listening to the American People.

There are even those who are now claiming that Donald Trump is a “refreshing” political voice.  They argue that he is willing to speak his mind regardless of whom he pisses off.  They say we need more politicians like him to keep our politics from becoming too “boring.”

This is all stupid rhetoric.  What we really need is for our politicians to actually look at our problems and listen to the people.  That is not as hard as you may think it is.  However, it isn’t going to happen, especially on the Republican side, because they believe that the country is ultra-conservative.  They believe that the American people want to be able to discriminate against someone.  They believe that the American people want religious leaders to dictate policy.

Democrats are not much better.  They are very quietly saying things they have said for years.  They also listen too much to Wall Street.  Remember, Wall Street is where most of the money comes from in order to run for office.  As a result, both sides of the aisle have allowed for regulations on financial institutions to be relaxed again.  This is becoming the same old tired politics from our past.

Democrats seem to think that talking quietly is the correct choice to get elected.  Republicans think that being boisterous is the way to get elected.  The problem is that both sides are only looking at primaries and not the over all health of our country.  Instead of discussing how they foresee the country moving forward, they use 20 second sound bites to talk down the other side.  It is basically our fault.  We allow them to use such tactics because we refuse to ask the tough questions.

I said earlier it isn’t difficult to find out just what the American People want.  If you look at the polls, you can see a lot of issues where there is a majority opinion on lots of issues that politicians still try to divide us over.  Things like gun control, for example.  You will discover that the American People want to be able to own guns.  Yet, you will also find that the majority of Americans want reasonable control over who can own guns.  The vast majority of Americans believe in Universal Background Checks before being allowed to purchase a gun.

The majority of American people believe that same-sex marriage is protected by the constitution.  They do not want the government telling churches or religions that they must perform religious marriages, but they do believe that same-sex marriage is legal and should be protected.

You will also find that the vast majority of Americans believe that income inequality is a real problem in growing our economy.  They want a higher minimum wage.  They believe that the super rich should pay more in taxes.  They believe in Social Security and Medicare.  They believe in a woman’s right to choose abortion or not.

Put simply, the American People do not want anyone in government running their personal lives.  They expect the government to protect them from violence, crime, and robber barons.  They expect a fair chance to reach their own version of the American Dream.

But, instead of hearing plans about how we can best achieve the wishes of the American people, we hear about things that only matter to a slim minority of the electorate.  We only hear about what the Conservative Christian Cult wants to hear.  We have politicians calling immigrants “rapists” and other derogative terms.

This is not politics.  This is hate.  This is control.  This is pure stupidity.  As I said this is mostly our fault.  We fail to hold these wackos accountable for their stupidity.  We tolerate their ignorance and hate.  We just turn away and then say, well candidate A is less evil than candidate B.

Then we blame the candidates. We call them liars.  We say they are only interested in their own power.  We have mid-term elections where less than a third of registered voters actually show up to vote.  The next time you really want to blame someone for our political largess, look in the mirror.

The next time your elected official says the Affordable Care Act must be repealed, stand up and ask what is their plan to replace it?  Don’t accept 20 second sound bites as an answer either.  Make them spell out their plan.  The next time they say they support the troops, stand up and ask why they slashed the VA budget again.

The next time they talk about gun rights, ask them who should be allowed to own guns?  Should criminals and mentally impaired be allowed to own weapons?  If not, how are you going to keep them from owning guns without universal background checks.

These are just examples of things you can ask about.  Don’t let the fringe groups on either side take over the conversation.  Make your elected official and candidates answer serious questions.  Make sure they are held accountable and go to the polls.

Democracy only works when the people participate in it.  If you continue to stay home on election day, we will lose the very liberties you cherish so much.  And, it will be our fault!  I say it is time to “take our country back.”  We need to take it back from the crazies before it is too late for all of us.

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There have been a lot of stupid things being said lately.  Of course, we have the whack-nut Trump calling Mexican immigrants rapists.  We have unintelligent people like Cruz agreeing with him.  We have the State of Texas refusing to issue birth certificates to immigrant children born in Texas.  We have a right-wing heavily edited lying video about Planned Parenthood “selling” fetus tissue.

The right is up-in-arms over the recently announced Iran Deal, without even reading it first.  There are still public employees who swore an oath to uphold the laws of the State and Country denying marriage licenses to people.  And, we still have Scott Walker saying the “minimum wage” is “lame” all the while eliminating the “living wage” definition from Wisconsin’s laws.

There have been some positives as well.  Obamacare withstood another frivolous law suit in the Supreme Court.  Same-sex marriage was declared constitutional by the same Supreme Court.  And, finally, the Confederate Flag has been taken down in South Carolina.

The conservative side just will not give up their “social” agenda.  The same Trump who calls Mexican immigrants “rapists” tweeted a nice picture with the American Flag and “soldiers” in one of the red stripes.  Problem was those “soldiers” were Nazi SS troops!  Of course, the Donald isn’t a fascist, some “young intern” was to blame for the goof.  I guess no one checked that “young interns” work before putting out the tweet.  Sounds very fishy to me.

We have seen polarization in this country for a very long time.  It really came to a head when Barak Obama was first elected President.  That is when the term “we need to take our country back” came into vogue.  But, why all of this polarization?  Why all of this hate being thrown about?

There is really only one answer to those questions.  F E A R!  You may ask, fear of what?  Fear of change.  As I have said before, conservatism is based on the principle that things were better in the past.  It is based on the premise that the “status quo” is the way we should live our lives forever.  Change is bad.  Moderation is bad.  Compromise is bad.

Unfortunately for the conservative movement, change, moderation, compromise, and a changing demographic is threatening their fairyland world.  Since the country is becoming less “white” that is bad.  Since the country is becoming more secular, that is bad.

Racism has been part of man’s existence since he first crawled from the cave.  Religion has been with us from the very moment that we started asking “what is the meaning of life?”  All of the religions of the world have the same things in common.  Every so-called “sacred text” is a conglomeration of another “sacred text.”  The new one just puts a different slant on who is right and who is wrong.

It is this mishmash of “sacred texts” that has caused most of our problems.  See, the real problem with religion isn’t religion itself.  It is the man-made laws that have been incorporated into religion that has caused most of our problems.  Conservatives are quick to use religion as their excuse for hate and discrimination.  They use religion to tell others how they are supposed to live.  How they are supposed to think.  And, how they are supposed to behave.

If you take the time to look at history, you will find that the “status quo” and “religion” is at the heart of every single dictatorship, monarchy, or empire the world has ever known.  The status quo is designed to make sure that power remains in the hands of the few.

Religion, or even an attack against religion, is used to show the “divine” right of the power broker.  Even the Nazis and Stalinist/Maoist Communists used religion to their advantage.  The Nazis created their own religion.  The Stalinists and Maoists used religion to show how it was holding back progress of the state and its people.

The bottom-line is that conservatism needs the status quo and religion to justify their power grab.  They need people to believe any change in these dynamics is bad to their very existence.  In America, conservatives use Christianity, or at least their interpretation of it to justify their arguments.  In Israel, Judaism is used.  In other Mid-East Countries, Islam is used.

Republicans love to use things like the phrase in the Pledge of Allegiance of “one nation under God” as proof this is a Christian Nation.  They don’t tell you that the words “under God” weren’t added until the 1950s during the big “Red Scare.”  Nor do they tell you that the words “In God We Trust” were added to our money in the 1920s when America was terrified that the Bolshevik Revolution that took place in Russia may gain ground right here.  Religion was used to differentiate us from them.

Conservatives will tell you that the founding fathers were ardent Christians.  Yet, neither in the Declaration of Independence nor the Constitution of the United States of America is God mentioned even once!  They understood that “freedom of religion” for everyone was necessary to form the Republic, which later became a democracy, to exist.  Those documents do not cast disparaging comments against any religion of lack of religion.  That is how it should be.

But, that is what terrifies conservatives.  The point is that conservatism needs you to be afraid of something.  It needs you to be terrified that any societal change will cause you to lose everything you have worked to gain.  It needs you to want to look to someone for guidance and rules that make life easier.  And, they want you to believe they are that “someone.”

Conservatism hates change.  It hates progress.  It hates the very idea of democracy.  It thrives only when it can stir up anger, fear and hate.  It thrives only when it can make you so terrified of any imaginary terror that you are willing to give up your civil rights for “security.”  That is what conservatism is really all about.

The current crop of conservative candidates on the Republican side of the aisle is proof of this point.  The only time their numbers rise is when they create fear among their supporters.  In the past, the majority of Americans have dismissed them for what they are.  Let’s hope this election cycle is no different.

You cannot have freedom and democracy without tolerance of others.  You cannot have freedom and democracy by hating or being afraid of your neighbor.  Let’s face facts.  If you truly believe in the Christian Philosophy, there is nothing more Christian than a true democracy.  A political process where everyone has a voice.  Where everyone has the right to be who they are and believe what they want.

Tolerance isn’t agreeing with everyone and their beliefs.  Tolerance is allowing them to believe and live differently from us.  That is democracy, and in reality, that is Christianity as well.  Tolerance is a word that scares the living hell out of conservatives.  As a result, we have seen the polarization that fear and hate has created in our political process.  If it is not stopped soon, we will see the end of our democracy and the start of a new fascist state.

As Benjamin Franklin once said: “If you give up some liberties for the sake of security, you will soon find you have neither liberty nor security.”  That is a warning from one of our founding fathers that resonate very strongly today.

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The State of Texas is showing its bigotry yet again.  This time, they are even trying to deny citizenship to people, who according to the U.S. Constitution are citizens.  According to the Constitution, anyone born in the United States is considered to be a citizen of the United States.  There are no exceptions like the parents are foreigners.  Texas apparently doesn’t agree with the Constitution.

As a result of their hate for the Constitution, Texas has taken a very dangerous step.  The Texas Department of State Health Services simply ignores the birth of children of foreigners in the U.S.  Specifically, they are targeting Latino children born in the U.S.

According to their new “rule” they refuse to issue a Birth Certificate to children of Latino parents who do not have a passport with a current Visa or a U.S. identification.  People with what is known as a matricula consular, which is a photo ID issued by the Mexican Consulate to Mexican Nationals living in the United States were issued birth certificates for their children born in the U.S.  Now, however, the State of Texas refuses to honor these photo ID’s.  They also refuse to honor foreign passports that do not have a current Visa.

This second issue not only affects Mexican, but other Latin American women who have crossed the border seeking asylum.  This means that any child born under these circumstances cannot get a birth certificate.  In other words, Texas is saying the children do not exist.

The problem goes way beyond that.  How is a mother supposed to prove she is a child’s mother without a birth certificate?  This happens a lot when dealing with serious medical treatment.  A non-parent cannot make decisions for a minor in emergency situations.  Texas is making sure that the mother cannot make those decisions for her own child because she cannot prove she is the mother.

If that child grows up in the U.S. the child cannot attend school.  A birth certificate is required to enter school.  The State of Texas is simply saying this child does not exist, so this child cannot receive an education.  Four women have sued the State of Texas over this policy.  One of the attorneys for the women said in a written statement:

Even in the darkest hours of Texas’ history of discrimination, officials never denied birth certificates to Hispanic children of immigrants. Everyone born in the United States is entitled to the full rights of citizenship.”

The other problem is that there is no evidence yet that shows birth certificates have been denied to European children born in Texas.  Despite what conservatives want you to think, there are undocumented immigrants from Europe as well.  But, since their numbers are less than Latin American, they aren’t being scrutinized as much.  You don’t hear Donald Trump shouting that undocumented immigrants from Europe are “rapists.”

No, this is a blatant act of discrimination aimed at a certain group of people.  It is denying children born in the U.S. their rightful citizenship simply because their parents are not citizens.  Of course, Texas will claim that it really isn’t bigotry because these children were never born.  They don’t have the necessary documents to prove they were.

Just in case you think this is something new, it has been going on for over a year.  As you can see, the people of Texas who claim to “love the constitution” really hate the constitution.  There is not other explanation for this sad story.

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Let me tell you a little story.  There is a generic drug manufacturer outside Pittsburgh, PA called Mylan.  This company is now facing a hostile takeover bid from an Israeli company Teva.  It seems that Teva has started purchasing Mylan stock.  They have already purchased 5% of Mylan’s outstanding stock.

Mylan is now asking the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to look into the matter.  You see, there is a provision that says when large stock purchases of U.S. companies are made, those purchases must be reviewed by anti-trust authorities.  Sounds reasonable, we don’t want our companies to fall to hostile takeovers by foreigners.

But, there is a problem with the request from Mylan.  You may not recognize the name of the company, but earlier this year, Mylan went ahead with the purchase of a small drug company in the Netherlands.  Once that purchase was completed, Mylan announced that it was changing its corporate citizenship to the Netherlands.

This move from Mylan was so it could reduce its taxes on drugs sold overseas.  In other words, it was a move directed by greed by corporate executives by to avoid paying their fair share of taxes to the country that they are part of.  This procedure is called “inversion.”

Many members of Congress lashed out at the company for their inversion move.  Almost all of the members of Congress who lashed out were Democrats.  Republicans didn’t seem to have any difficulty with the process.  However, that begs the question.  Should a company who claims the U.S. as its corporate headquarters and still declares that the company is from the Netherlands be protected under the very anti-trust laws they themselves have looked to avoid?

In legal terms, Mylan probably has a defensible position.  Since it claims that its principal office remains in Pennsylvania, which makes it a “U.S. issuer” of stock for federal anti-trust purposes.  The optics of this is quite another matter.  The company abandoned its U.S. Citizenship in order to pay less in federal taxes, yet they now want that same federal government to protect them.

I think Rep. Chris Van Hollen (R-MD) summed it up very nicely.  He said:

“Mylan is trying to have its cake and eat it too.  It is an intolerable abuse of a loophole when U.S. corporations pretend they are based overseas in order to get out of paying their fair share and duck their responsibilities to the United States. It’s just plain hypocrisy when one of those same inverted companies claims that it is actually a U.S. company because it needs the special protections U.S. law gives to American companies.”

The FTC should remind Mylan that when it chose to invert to avoid paying taxes, it gave up the privileges given to companies which remain committed to the United States. And Congress needs to act now to close the inversion loophole and fix our broken tax code to reward companies that locate and invest in America.”

At this writing, I have not found a single comment from any Republican on the matter.  We all know how the Republicans, especially conservatives, hate government interference.  In 2008 and 2009 they wanted to let the auto industry in America collapse.  Are they willing to sit by and let Teva carry out its hostile takeover of Mylan?

Would they consider this a case of protecting a U.S. company or one of protecting a Netherlands company?  Where is Mitt Romney saying let Mylan fail?  Why isn’t Fox Business screaming about using tax payers money to defend a foreign company?  As usual, when an instance of something created by these loopholes in our tax code that Republicans all seem to favor arise and makes a mess of things, they remain very quiet.

I am somewhat torn in this matter.  On one hand, I don’t want anything to happen to the jobs that a hostile takeover could reap.  On the other hand, why should our government use our laws to defend a company that no longer wants to be an American Company for lower taxes?

Van Hollen is right.  This company abandoned us.  We have seen other companies abandon us as well.  There will be more companies following suit.  Unless the tax codes are changed and these “inversion” loopholes are closed for good.  How many companies will join Mylan in denouncing their company citizenship if the FTC helps Mylan in the fight?

What would stop other companies from denouncing their company citizenship in favor of lower taxes, knowing the government will still use U.S. laws to defend them?  Part of paying your taxes is getting protection in these kinds of cases.  If you abandon your citizenship so you don’t have to pay your taxes, why should we defend you?

That is the dilemma that our outdated tax code has given us.  We are now faced with the dilemma of using tax payer dollars to basically protect a foreign company, or not.  It will be interesting to see how the FTC responds.  It will be even more interesting to see conservative responses to their decision.

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There is a new budget proposal that Republicans are saying will save the government $4 Billion dollars.  They claim this money should be used for “more important programs” that will benefit the American People.  Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole said:  “This is a fiscally responsible bill that reduces discretionary spending by nearly $4 billion.  At the same time, by carefully reprioritizing where taxpayer dollars are spent, the bill increases funding for important programs that benefit the American people.”

That all sounds great.  Except, there is a major problem with Cole’s statement, and the proposal being put forth.  This “savings” will be at the expense of 4.7 million low-income people who rely on Title X for their preventative health services.  What it essentially does is kill Title X by taking away all of its funding.

Title X became official in 1970, under that great Republican Richard Nixon.  It helps connect these 4.7 million Americans to things like pap smears, cancer screenings, STD tests, birth control and counseling about how to space out pregnancies and plan for the families they want.  Title X was instituted for women who are not eligible for Medicaid and cannot afford to see a doctor.

In many cases, the services they receive at Title X clinics are literally life-saving.  “For many of these women and men, a Title X-funded health center is their only access point to the health system and the only health care they receive all year,” Clare Coleman, president & CEO of the National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association, said in a statement on the proposal.

But, in their current fever of denying poor people the Republicans on the Labor, Health and Human Services subcommittee say this is “discretionary” spending that the country can do without.  Besides including language to eliminate the Affordable Care Act, the language they put in this proposal is outright dreadful.  They added language that would eliminate Title X funding unless the program meets a certain ideological (read: abstinence-focused) criteria:

None of the funds appropriated in this Act may be made available to any entity under title X of the PHS Act unless the applicant for the award certifies to the Secretary that it encourages family participation in the decision of minors to seek family planning services and that it provides counseling to minors on how to resist attempts to coerce minors into engaging in sexual activities.

But just to make sure you have no control over your health care, they added other wording that allows your school or boss to determine which forms of contraception or other health care procedure you can be covered under because they man they may not like them:

Notwithstanding any other provision of this title, no provision of this title (and no amendment made by any such provision) shall… require a sponsor (or, in the case of health insurance coverage offered to students through an institution of higher education, the institution of higher education offering such coverage) to sponsor, purchase, or provide any health benefits coverage or group health plan that includes coverage of an abortion or other item or service to which such sponsor or institution, respectively, has a moral or religious objection, or prevent an issuer from offering or issuing to such sponsor or institution, respectively, health insurance coverage that excludes such item or service.

The other thing that these Republicans have failed to recognize, is the financial benefits to the government, especially state governments that eliminating Title X funding will have.  According to the Guttmacher Institute, each dollar invested in Title X saves $3.80 in Medicaid expenses related to pregnancy and childbirth.  In other words, this $4 Billion spent each year results in a return of over $12 Billion.

Another Guttmacher analysis found that the services provided by Kansas’ Title X clinics in 2010 helped save the state more than $61,000,000 in public funds. “That accounts for savings from reduced maternity and birth-related costs, along with reduced costs related to miscarriage and abortion and savings related to [sexually transmitted infection] screening and cervical cancer prevention services,” according to the report.

In other words, it could easily be argued that Title X funding contributes to “family values” that Republicans are always claiming to support.  Yet, they are very willing to eliminate the program all together.  One can only ask, why?  Is it because they have an aversion to helping low-income women?  Is it because they are more interested in saving money than lives?  Or, is it simply they want to control your life?

I have said before I believe they simply want to control your life!  There is no other explanation for these constant attacks against programs like Title X.  Or, allowing your boss to decide what type of health care you are allowed to have under their plains.  Or, allowing your boss to decide if you actually need birth control, and what forms they are willing to let you use.

Low-income people will be hurt dramatically by these proposed cuts.  It is almost like the Republicans, led by Rep. Cole are setting up their own “death squads” when it comes to health care.  If you deny people access to preventative medicine, they are more likely to die form something that could have been prevented.

This is just another case of those “god fearing, good Christians” denying those in need the services they require.  How very Christ-like of them.

 

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