Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Rep. Darryl Issa has taken a short break from his Benghazi and IRS tantrums.  His target this time is Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program.  The program is running short of money, not the first time, and is need of an injection.  Rep. Issa’s plan is to use his “divide and conquer” theory to pit older Americans against those who are on SSDI.

So, he is holding another hearing trying to show that the Administrative Law Judges (ALJ) who hear disability cases as being a “rubber stamp” for those who don’t want to work, but rather go on the public dole.  He says that if we don’t cut the SSDI program with “fundamental changes” the entire Social Security system will collapse.  Here is using the “fear” that he likes to generate to pit one group of deserving Americans against another group of deserving Americans.

The AFL/CIO has recently put out some information about the SSDI program.  It is called the 13 Things You Need to Know About SSDI.  Here is a reprint of those 13 things.

1. SSDI provides protection for 90% of America’s workers and their families if a life-changing disability or illness stops them from being able to work and bring in enough money.

2. SSDI pays modest benefits, averaging just $1,140 per month, less than most workers make before they qualify for the program.

3. For 80% of beneficiaries, SSDI is the primary or only source of income, and it provides a drastic increase in the quality of life of recipients who might otherwise live in poverty.

4. The eligibility criteria for SSDI are among the strictest in the world and fewer than 40% of applicants are approved.

5. Nearly 20% of beneficiaries die within five years of first obtaining benefits.

6. Nearly 9 million workers with disabilities receive SSDI benefits, including more than 1 million veterans. More than 150,000 spouses and nearly 2 million children also receive benefits.

7. Beneficiaries pay into SSDI as a portion of their Social Security payroll tax. The current tax rate is 6.2% on the first $117,000 of earnings a worker makes.  5.3% goes to the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance Trust Fund (OASI), the rest goes to the SSDI Trust Fund.

8. Only one-third of private-sector workers has employer-provided long-term disability insurance, and most of those plans often provide less than SSDI. Only 7% of workers who make $12 per hour or less have such insurance. Most private long-term disability insurance plans are too costly for most workers.

9. Most beneficiaries are in their 50s and 60s, with the average age being 53.

10. Fewer than 4% of beneficiaries earned more than $10,000 during the year.

11. The United States ranks 30 out of 34 OECD member countries in terms of replacement benefit payouts for workers with disabilities.

12. A temporary reallocation of how the 6.2% payroll tax is divided between SSDI and OASI would ensure that both trust funds would be able to remain fully solvent until 2033 and would alleviate the shortage in SSDI funds caused by demographic trends.

13. Beneficiaries face a wide range of significant disabilities, with many having multiple impairments, which include:

  • 31.8% have a “primary diagnosis” of a mental impairment, including 4.2% with intellectual disabilities and 27.6% with other types of mental disorders such as schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder or severe depression.

  • 29.8% have a musculoskeletal or connective tissue disorder.

  • 8.7% have a cardiovascular condition such as chronic heart failure.

  • 9.3% have a disorder of the nervous system, such as cerebral palsy or multiple sclerosis, or a sensory impairment such as deafness or blindness.

  • 20.4% include workers living with cancers; infectious diseases; injuries; genitourinary impairments such as end stage renal disease; congenital disorders; metabolic and endocrine diseases such as diabetes; diseases of the respiratory system; and diseases of other body systems

Why another attack on Social Security?  The Republicans have a total hatred for any social safety net.  They don’t care if the elderly or the disabled have enough money to live.  They seem to cherish the idea of being cruel to them.   And why not? Being cruel to people who are disabled and cannot work seems to be quite popular among Tea Party members, many of whom are disabled themselves (but, of course, they deserve their benefits while others do not.) Recall this nauseating display of cruelty during the health care debate:

At one point, a man with a sign saying he has Parkinson’s disease and needs help sat down in front of the reform opponents. Several protesters mocked the man, calling him a “communist,” with one derisively “throwing money at him.” “If you’re looking for a handout you’re in the wrong end of town,” another man said.

Of course these people hide behind their religiosity and alleged fealty to the teachings of the Bible.  Maybe they should go back to their Sunday School Classes and relearn:

Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven — Matthew 18:10

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”

Proverbs 31:8-9

Although I doubt that either of these phrases were actually taught in their “cherry-picked” bible school classes in the first place.  If they were, maybe cruelty to the less fortunate wouldn’t be a so rampant on the right.

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses, yearning to breath free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

Those are the words inscribed on the Statue Of Liberty.  We have lived by those words for a couple of hundred years.  Yes, there have been exceptions based on racism, but for the most part our immigration system has worked because of the belief in these words.

There was the time when it was illegal for Chinese Immigrants to enter the country.  We have had times when almost every immigrant group faced discrimination after they came here.  The Irish, Poles, Czechs, Italians, etc.  Every group has faced some kind of discrimination after immigrating to this country.

We are facing another example of mass immigration.  Problem is that there really isn’t an immigration system in place anymore.  Republicans in Congress has refused to allow a vote on any immigration reform plan.  They claim they are waiting for the President to “enforce” the laws.  That is a remarkable statement.  This President has deported more illegal immigrants than any President before him.  The Republicans want the current mass immigration problem at the border dealt with by “immediately deporting” all of those children.  Problem is that under George W. Bush, the law he had passed, says that cannot happen.  When especially dealing with children, we need to care for them, and they must be brought before a judge in order to determine if they are to be deported.

So, by not immediately deporting these children, President Obama is following and “enforcing” the law.  If the President should “immediately deport” all of these children, he would not be enforcing existing laws as the Republicans want.  Besides that, if the border is so open, how come we are catching so many people crossing it?  If there was not sufficient enforcement at the border, surely these people would not be in custody right now.

We have faced other “mass immigrations” in the past.  No one will forget the mass immigration of the Irish due to the potato famine.  Even though they were treated harshly when they arrived, no one was calling to close the border to them.  More recently, I was in the Coast Guard when the Boat Lift from Cuba occurred under Reagan.  No one was calling for them to be sent back to Cuba.  We also had to deal with a mass immigration effort from Haiti.  There was the mass immigration from Cuba when Castro took power in 1959.  Hell, even Ted Cruz’s father, after fighting on the side of Castro, paid a bribe to get out of Cuba and into the U.S.

These mass immigration problems are not new.  The only thing new about them is that now we are facing a problem with “those people” instead of “the right people”.  The Irish were allowed in because they were European, but discriminated against mostly because they were Catholic.  The Cubans were looked upon as “victims of communism” so they got a free pass.  The new mass immigration, mostly children, aren’t given that same courtesy.  In the eyes of Republicans, they are simply looked upon as “law breakers” and must be deported immediately.

The self-proclaimed prophet, Bill O’Reilly, said on his show Tuesday, to prove the “difference” between other immigrants and the current immigrants, that his “immigrant ancestors” didn’t accept government assistance.  He fails to mention that at the time of his “immigrant ancestors” there were no government assistance programs.  If there had been, I bet they would have accepted them!

His guest on the show was Kristen Powers, a FOX News contributor and USA Today columnist.  She went after O’Reilly and said:  “We advertise to the world, give us your hungry, your poor, your tired.  But no, not according to Bill O’Reilly. According to Bill O’Reilly, let’s bundle up the children and send them back.”

O’Reilly then got mad, sarcastically telling Powers that she holds “the high moral ground” because she “want[s] an open-border situation that lets everybody in … You want an open-border, you want to accept them all … And I am a cruel barbarian.”  Finally, a comment from O’Reilly that I agree with.  Yes, Bill, you are a cruel barbarian!

This crisis is not what the Republicans want you to think.  They want you to believe this is not about people looking for a better life in the U.S. because their country is in total chaos.  They want you to think that these people just simply want to illegally cross into the U.S. because they will be able to live on government assistance.

That is total nonsense.  These people, especially the children, are trying to escape violence that threaten their very lives.  They come from countries that are fighting drug cartels, and other violent groups.  They are looking to live in peace and freedom.  But, what makes them “different” from the Cubans in the 1980s?  Cubans have a tendency to vote Republican.  Because of the Republican stand against immigration reform, these people, if granted citizenship in the future, tend to vote Democratic.  And, that is what this is all about.

President Obama has asked Congress for more money to deal with the problem.  He wants to increase the number of judges so these cases can be legally expedited, among other necessary things.  But, the Republican Party is already balking at the expenditure.  Why?  Because they want to force the President to do what they want.  Break the law!

I often find it amusing that the Republican Party has wrapped itself in the Conservative Christian Cult’s flag and consider themselves “god fearing, good Christians”.  All of their actions prove that they are just the opposite.  And, they wonder why more and more people are turning away from their “religion”.  Maybe rational people just can’t stomach belonging to a religion so steeped in hypocrisy.

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses, yearning to breath free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

Beautiful words we should all live by.  Too bad the Republican Party won’t!

If you think that all of the so-called Voter Identification Laws being passed in most Red States are designed to prevent in-person voter fraud, you only need look at the North Carolina law to know differently.  In Winston-Salem, there is a hearing in Federal Court taking place where opponents of this law are seeking an injunction so this law cannot be enforced during the 2014 elections.  The law was challenged by the U.S. Justice Department and other groups, but the full trial won’t take place until 2015.

The Voter Information Verification Act (VIVA) was passed and signed into law by Republican Governor Patrick McCrory.  It is the most restrictive voter law passed in the U.S. to date.  The amazing thing about this law, was that originally, it only covered Voter ID requirements.  It passed the State’s House in April of 2013.  But it languished in the State’s Senate until after the SCOTUS ruling on the Voter Rights Act on June 25 of 2013.

Immediately after the ruling, Sen. Tom Apodaca (R), the chairman of the Senate Rules committee, was quoted as saying, “Now we can go with the full bill.”  On July 23, 2013, House Bill 589 expanded from 16 pages to 57 pages and included a number of other provisions, including reducing the days for early voting. The expanded bill passed both the House and Senate on July 25. McCrory signed the legislation into law on Aug. 12.

This bill expanded from 16 pages to 57 pages and they had a full two days to “debate” the law.  There is no other way to put this, but there was no real debate on the bill.  It was a forgone conclusion that the bill would pass.  This bill was obviously waiting for the SCOTUS ruling.  Once SCOTUS gutted the Voting Rights Act, the Republicans dusted off what they really wanted, and passed it.

Some other provisions that were included is the repeal of party block voting.  In other words, you cannot vote straight Democratic or Republican.  You must go down the list of every candidate and vote for each one individually.  That may not sound like a big deal, but a lot of people from parties actually do block vote.

Another deletion from the bill was the “Stand By Your Ad” clause.  This clause originally tried to make sure that ads were factual and truthful.  This new VIVA eliminated that clause from the law.  So, I guess now you can lie all you want in ads and don’t have to “Stand By Your Ad” anymore.

The Voter ID provisions, which do not take effect until 2016, lists certain photo IDs that are acceptable.  One ID that has been removed is College Student ID Cards.  So, if you attend North Carolina University, and do not have a driver’s license, you can no longer use your school’s ID to prove who you are.  I guess that goes hand-in-hand with the fact that the law also closes down all of the on-campus polling places.  Students will have to leave their campus to vote.

That is made tougher by the reduction in “early voting” days.  It also eliminates the Sunday before the election from the early voting period and ends early voting on the Saturday before the election at 1 PM.  Since that Sunday was traditionally the “Souls To The Polls” day, it makes it more difficult for churches to organize mass voting of their members on that day.  That was truly offensive to Republicans because most of these churches who participate in “souls to the polls” are predominantly African-American.

If you don’t have a driver’s license, military ID, Retired military ID, Veterans ID, or passport, you MUST have a state issued ID card in order to vote.  Most people say that is not all that difficult.  Except, North Carolina charges a fee to get a State Issued ID card.  Plus, most people will be required to provide a Birth Certificate to prove they are alive.  If you don’t have a copy of you Birth Certificate, that adds to the cost of the “fee” for getting and ID Card.

Plus, many people in North Carolina live in rural areas.  All small towns in these areas do not have offices who issue driver’s licenses or state IDs.  Many people need to travel anywhere between 30 and 60 miles to get to an office.  Doesn’t sound too bad, except, how is a person without a driver’s license supposed to get to one of these offices?  There isn’t any bus service in these areas.

Additionally, if you are over 70 you can use an expired driver’s license to vote, as long as it expired less than 30 days before the election day.  If it expired more than 30 days before the election, you cannot vote unless you get one of those State ID Cards.  Most people over 70 that I know, don’t even think about getting a State ID Card after they no longer drive.  And, before everyone says their family can take them, a lot of elderly people don’t have family living nearby.

A very disturbing portion of the VIVA to me, is that any registered voter can challenge another person’s right to vote.  For example, if I was at the polling place, and a neighbor I hate came in to vote, I could challenge his right to vote.  Once I made the challenge, he would be allowed to cast a “provisional” ballot.  I see this provision as nothing more than an intimidation factor.  The real scary part is that the law does not say registered voter in that precinct.  That opens the door for “operatives” to go around challenging other people’s right to vote.

Finally, they also eliminated “Same Day Registration”.  In North Carolina, you were able to go and register to vote, during the early voting period, and then immediately cast your ballot.  With the elimination of Same Day Registration, you now have to make two trips.  One to register and one to vote.

All of these provisions have one common goal.  They are intended to make it more difficult for the poor, young, and elderly to cast votes.  Why?  Because those are the groups that predominantly vote Democratic.  North Carolina Republicans are so afraid of losing their grip on power, they are willing to disenfranchise thousands of people who may vote against them.

For example, the reduction in early voting will affect up to 56% of North Carolina voters.  That is how many used early voting in the 2012 elections.   Blacks used early voting at a higher rate than whites, comprising a majority of those who voted absentee or early. According to Public Policy Polling, 78 percent of North Carolinians support the current early voting system and 75 percent have used it in the past.

In addition, over 155,000 voters registered to vote and voted on the same day during the early voting period in 2012.  Voters expressed their satisfaction and gratitude that North Carolina had a process that afforded citizens with more opportunities to register and vote, said a 2009 report from the state board of elections.

The law was passed in the name of “protecting the ballot box from voter fraud”.  I went through the court records since 2012 and I cannot find one single case of “voter fraud” being prosecuted.  In person Voter Fraud is becoming a thing of the past in the state and the country as a whole.  There is far more potential for voter fraud in absentee ballots than in-person voting.  Yet, these laws do not place the same restriction on absentee ballots.  I wonder if maybe that is because most absentee ballots are cast by white people.

It is estimated that it will take at least until the end of the week before the hearing in Winston-Salem wraps up.  No one knows how quickly the judge will rule on the injunction.  Of course, the whole nation is watching.  Especially since it comes on the heals of a Federal Judge striking down Wisconsin’s Voter ID Law as unconstitutional.

Once again, if you think this has to do with protecting the ballot box, all you have to do is listen to  Sen. Tom Apodaca, the chairman of the Senate Rules committee, after the SCOTUS ruling on the Voting Rights Act saying, “Now we can go with the full bill.”  He knew this bill would never pass muster if had to be pre-cleared by Justice.

The Hobby Lobby case has some potential problems the media seems to be missing.  Yes, the fact that the Supreme Court ruled basically that “closely held” corporations are “people” and can enforce their religious beliefs on their employees is bad enough.  But, it may have even more dire consequences for owners of corporations and small businesses.  It seems that the curtain or veil between owners of “closely held corporations” and stockholders may have been torn.  Rather, shredded by the decision.

There was a short time when I was self-employed.  I had a very small consulting business.  I had no employees, except myself.  I went through all the legal hoops to protect my personal assets from the business.  That was part of owning a business.  You needed to make sure your personal assets were protected and that is exactly what corporate law is supposed to do.  But, as I researched the whole thing, it also meant that if I hired employees, I could not impose any religious beliefs on them.  The veil worked both ways.

Now, the Supreme Court has opened the door to totally shred that veil.  If a “closely held corporation” is allowed to base insurance coverage on “personal” religious beliefs, what is keeping someone from suing the owner or stockholders and go after their personal assets in liability cases?  If I was able, as a business owner, to dictate policies based on religious beliefs, which until now violated basic corporate law, doesn’t that open me up to other law suits?

The Supreme Court has validated this “veil” of corporate law since the founding of the country.  There is not a single ruling the history of the court that gives corporations the rights of an individual person, until now.  In my layman point of view, that means that the corporate “veil” no longer exists.  Individual people, like owners and shareholders, could now be held personally liable in every law suit against the corporation.  This ruling says they may be personally liable for their decisions.

For example, let’s say that Hobby Lobby sells a product that turns out to be harmful to the purchaser.  Maybe it is a product that contains lead paint.  Millions of the product are sold nationwide.  People begin to get sick from handling, or small children get sick because they put it in their mouth and ingest the lead paint.

There have already been lots of law suits about this safety hazard, and those suing usually win the case.  The question is, since the decision to sell this product was approved by the owners of Hobby Lobby, can they be sued personally?  In other cases following basic corporate law, the answer has been no.  But, in light of the ruling stating that this corporation is a “person”, I am not so sure anymore.

Since the Hobby Lobby ruling, there are a lot of corporate lawyers who are very nervous right now.  In my research, I have seen many discussions by corporate lawyers about this very nature of the case that isn’t getting a lot of press.  It is possible that if such a case does happen, the Supreme Court could try to patch the “veil” in corporate law to protect owners and shareholders personal assets.  But, wouldn’t that be a blatant disavowing of their writing in this case?  How can the court rule that corporations are “people” able to withhold coverage in insurance plans, and not “people” in liability cases?

I know that conservatives don’t have a problem with double standards.  But, this involves corporate law!  Corporate law has been in existence for hundreds of years.  It was intended to protect individuals since a “corporation” is not considered a person.  The Hobby Lobby case throws that division out the window.

If I were looking to start a business again, I would think very hard about it.  In light of this case, I would be very distrustful that my personal assets would be protected under corporate law anymore.  That would probably make me NOT want to open a business.  I know a few small business owners who are very nervous right now.  They have had to talk with their lawyers about this very possibility.

In an effort to thrust individual beliefs of owners of companies on employees by naming the company a “person”, the court may have done more damage to small businesses and corporations than they think.  They may have overturned corporate law in this country.

You are at something like a Chucky-Cheese having a birthday party for your little girl.  All of her friends are there, and people are having a good time.  The kids are playing and having fun.  Parents are sitting around and having some small talk.  It is a really nice afternoon for everyone.  Then, a bunch of people walk into the restaurant.  All of them are openly carrying guns.  Some have rifles, other have hand guns.  The kids see the guns and run to their parents in fear.  The parents are shocked that anyone would bring a gun into a restaurant like this.  Everyone is worried that either a robbery or some kind of terrorist act is about to take place and they are caught in it.

If you were taking part in that birthday party, what would you be thinking?  A day that is supposed to be one of the happiest for your little girl just got interrupted by a bunch of gun-toting adults.  I seriously doubt that the first thing in you head would be “well, that is just ‘open-carry’ group demonstrating their right to bear arms.  I believe very few sane people would think that.

But, these open-carry groups want you to think they are law-abiding citizens who just like carrying guns.  At least that is what they profess to want.  They claim that they want to “educate” the public and teach them not to fear people with guns.  As Open-Carry Texas puts it, the goal is to:  “condition Texans to feel safe around law-abiding citizens that choose to carry (guns).”  Sorry, but that is an absurd “goal”.

We have had several mass shootings in the country.  Most people have come to look at people carrying weapons as a threat.  Which they are.  The right-wing nuts want us to believe that carrying weapons will stop these killings.  They want us to believe that they are the ones protecting us from other gun-toting nuts.  They even believe that schools should have teachers armed to the teeth to avoid school shootings.

But, what they are really saying is that they want control over everyone else.  They want to decide when and where they can openly carry their guns.  They don’t care if it scares the living shit out of everyone around.  They claim to have the “right”.  Sorry, but in my opinion, they are delusional!

I have written about this before.  I got the usual comments from people claiming that I am “living in fear of guns.”  I have been told I needed to “go to the range with one of them so they can teach me about guns.”  I have been told that these “law-abiding citizens are our heroes, and that we should thank them.”

Well, I don’t need to be “taught about guns.”  I served 20 years in the military.  I know all about guns and how to use them.  I do not live in fear of guns.  I have handled them and shot them.  I do not consider people openly carrying weapons to be heroes.  I consider them as people on a power trip looking to garner attention for themselves.

Frankly, whenever I am told about the “fear” factor, I cannot help but believe the only people really living in fear are the ones who think they need to carry a gun with them everywhere for “protection”.  Having to carry a weapon everywhere you go is a sure sign of outright terror as far as I am concerned.  Yes, there are bad people in the world.  But, I refuse to let them dictate my actions.  I refuse to live in fear.

Besides, how can the average person sitting at a birthday party know which nut with a gun is a “law-abiding citizen” and which is a “wacko looking to kill a lot of people”?  They can’t.  As a result, they are afraid for themselves and their families.  Their right to live without fear in a civilized world is being violated by these idiots.

No, these groups are not really interested in “educating” the public about guns.  They are simply interested in scaring everyone because they believe they have the “right” to scare everyone.  They are, in my opinion, degenerates who are simply looking to fill some psychotic need of theirs.  Bluntly speaking, I consider people walking into a restaurant, bar, church, store, or any other public place packing open guns to be domestic terrorists.  There is no other reasonable explanation for their behavior.

If this kind of behavior from these groups continue, I can foresee a time in the very near future, when someone else who is lawfully carrying a concealed weapon will see them walk into an establishment, believe they are robbers, and open fire on them.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out.  The end result will be a lot of innocent people wounded or killed because an open carry group decided to terrorize everyone at a restaurant.  Then, the blame-game will start.

It is time for this nonsense to stop!  Someone is going to get hurt or killed if it continues.  To put it frankly, it is time for open carry groups to crawl back under the rocks they came from.  They are becoming a real threat to public safety.  No one will be safe with nuts like these running around with their guns.

One of my instructors when I was learning how to handle, shoot, and maintain my weapon said that guns are necessary to protect oneself in dangerous situations.  But, they are not toys.  They are serious tools needed by serious professionals to accomplish their jobs.  He also said that outside of professional need, the larger the gun, the smaller the ……  You can fill in the blank.

Tomorrow is the 4th of July.  It is a day we celebrate our nation’s birth.  All across the nation we will hear the national anthem being sung and end with the words “O’er the land of the free, and the home of the brave.”  Others will stand and say the pledge of allegiance.  It includes the words, “with liberty and justice for all”.

The right-wing will proudly stand tall and sing, or say these words loudly.  They will utter them with false conviction.  They will go on the podium and give speeches rallying their base to “fight for liberty”.  They will use hallow words like “we want to thank all of our men and women in uniform for their service”.  They will utter all sorts of patriotic slogans.  At the end of the day, all of these words and slogans will ring as hallow as they do today.

In Afghanistan our troops will be on patrol.  Fighting for our country.  In Iraq, newly arrived troops will be helping to train the Iraqi Army to fight the insurgents.  All around the world, our men and women in uniform will be working.  The far right neocons will use tomorrow to pump up their rhetoric about fighting terrorists.  They will use that argument to call for a re-invasion of Iraq.

Yet, tomorrow, there will still be millions of people out of work because our Congress won’t do anything to help them get jobs.  Tomorrow, millions more people will have their extended unemployment insurance run out and have no income and face losing everything they spent a lifetime working for.  Tomorrow, women will still be considered second class citizens, especially by the Conservative Christian Cult.  Tomorrow, minorities will still face voter suppression laws in several states.  Tomorrow, LBGT couples won’t be able to get married in most states.

At the birth of our nation, we had to live with the evil “institution” of slavery.  Even though Thomas Jefferson said in the Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal”.  We continued slavery, because, well the slave owners didn’t consider their slaves as “men” or “people’ just as property.  It took a Civil War before this “institution” ended.

We have made small strides in the true concepts of “with liberty and justice for all”.  But, today in 2014, we still have groups of people who are not “free” and do not gain “justice”.  These groups include minorities, women, immigrants and LGBT.  These groups have had their “rights’ trampled on by the far right forever.  All they want is to have equal protection under the law.  Isn’t that what “liberty” really means?

Under the sway of the Conservative Christian Cult, many states are passing very restrictive anti-abortion laws.  The Cult is even fighting against birth control.  I still find it amazing that “contraception” use by women is considered by the Cult as being only for “recreational use”, yet Viagra, and other ED medicines as well as vasectomies are considered for “pro-creation” purposes.  Therefore, these things are still covered under health insurance while many forms of birth control have just be banned by the Supreme Court.

We still have women making anywhere from 80% to as low as 70% of what men make doing the same job.  We have the Cult fighting against such things as violence against women laws, equal pay laws, and ENDA.  We have women all across the nation facing beatings from their husbands just because they are handy.  Women are still victims of rape and yet they are treated as the cause of the rape, not the victim.

The amazing thing is that the Cult is telling women that if they don’t want to get beat or raped, all they have to do is get married.  They claim that feminism is the root cause of all that is wrong with the world.  It is feminism that has caused the decline of the “traditional family”.  Never mind that men set up the “no-fault” divorce clause so they don’t have to pay as much alimony to their wives.  Never mind that it is men who skip out on child support payments.  Hell, there is a misogynist web site called The Red Pill that even offers tips on how to avoid child support payments.  But, no, according to the Cult, it is all the fault of women.

Approximately 40% of all workers in this country work for minimum wage.  That automatically makes anyone with a small family live in poverty.  The Cult and their Republican friends are fighting any move to raise the minimum wage.  They all seem to think that it is perfectly fine for “those people” to work 40 hours per week and live in poverty.  “Those people” don’t do anything meaningful, and should bow down and kiss their employer’s feet for allowing them the opportunity to work and still live in poverty.

Let’s face facts, the only “entitlements” being offered to people in this country are being offered to the super-rich and/or White Christian Men.  We live in a “Corporate Welfare State”.  They are the only people who can even come close to enjoying “liberty”.  That is not what our country is supposed to be.  That is not what I served to protect.  I served, and many others continue to fight for the country that offers “liberty and justice for all”.

While masses of people continue to struggle to survive.  While our Steel Industry faces bankruptcy because of illegal dumping of steel into the country by South Korea threatening over 580,000 jobs.  While our transportation funds, the ones that repair our transportation systems, runs out of money and threatens another 700,000 jobs.  While our military members continue to serve our country, many of them relying on food stamps to feed their families.  Members of the Cult and the Republican Party will give hallow patriotic speeches.

They will loudly use the words of “religious freedoms”, or “liberty from tyranny” or “take our country back”.  But, what they are really saying is if you are not a white male Christian, you have no right to say anything because they believe this is “their” country.  I have seen many political fights in my life.  But, I have never seen such a push to turn back the clock on minority, women, immigration, and LBGT rights like is going on now.  The Cult has all the answers.  It is in “traditional family” where the man is the head of the household and women stay at home.

This gem from Rafael Cruz, Sr., the father of that patriotic Canadian Senator, Ted Cruz says it all:

As God commands us men to teach your wife, to teach your children—to be the spiritual leader of your family—you’re acting as a priest. Now, unfortunately, unfortunately, in too many Christian homes, the role of the priest is assumed by the wife. Why? Because the man had abdicated his responsibility as priest to his family…So the wife has taken up that banner, but that’s not her responsibility. And if I’m stepping on toes, just say, ‘Ouch.’

He believes this philosophy of the man’s role of the priest so much, he has been divorced twice!  Sounds to me that he has abdicated his role, at least when it comes to his marriage vows of “until death do us part”.

No, as long as we have right-wing pundits calling women “sluts” because they favor birth control or abortion.  As long as these same right-wing pundits are praising right-wing militia groups as “patriots” and not the domestic terrorists they are.  As long as the right-wing opposes immigration reform.  As long as we allow this income inequality and war against the poor and women.  As long as we have powerful groups like the Cult and their financial backers like the Koch Brothers, we will continue to live in a fantasy and hallowly say the words “with liberty and justice for all”.

Until the rights of all people, not just the members of the Cult and their allies, are respected and these terrible laws that continue to harm women, minorities, LBGT, and immigrants are overthrown, we will not live in a country of “liberty and justice for all”.  And that is the true American Tragedy!

If you are planning to drive somewhere over the 4th of July weekend, you will probably hit road construction on your drive.  Back in Chicago when I was younger, we had a saying that there were only two seasons.  Winter and Construction.  It seemed everytime you wanted to get on a major highway, there was some road construction that snarled traffic.

Bur, we also know that road construction is necessary.  In order to keep our infrastructure running, we need to repair and/or replace outdated roads and bridges.  Currently there are over 100,000 jobs going on where workers are paving roads and rebuilding bridges and modernizing our transit systems.  These projects translate to about 700,000 jobs across the country.

However, if you are also planning to drive somewhere over the Labor Day weekend, you will probably see the exact same road construction you see this weekend.  As a matter of fact, if Congress doesn’t do something soon, all road construction could come to a halt by the end of September.  The Federal Funds for these projects are running out.  Congress knows they are running out.  But, as usual, they took a vacation instead of doing something about it.

All of this work is a combination of the Federal Government and the States teaming up to pay for the construction.  The Federal Government gives States a very large chunk of the money needed to repair our transportation systems.  The Federal Fund is paid for by the 18.7 cents per gallon tax we all pay at the pump.  The problem is that with the poor condition of our roads, these costs are rising while the fund remains static.  Money is still coming in, but not fast enough.  The gas tax hasn’t been raised for over 20 years but the costs for construction have kept going up.

There is a current projected shortfall of about $8 Billion this year.  The Administration says that if nothing is done by August 1, an approximate 28% cut of all Federal Funding for these projects will have to be made.  If nothing is done by September 1, more and deeper cuts will have to be made.  At the end of September, if nothing is done, all money will stop because the government’s authority to spend money on transportation will expire.

As a result, up to 700,000 jobs are in the hands of Congress.  With the track record of the House of Representatives, that is a very frightening idea to me.

In fairness, there have been a number of proposals to help fix this problem.  The obvious one is to raise the gas tax at the pump.  That would ensure more money going into the fund.  But, in an election year, that hardly seems to be a likely solution.  Especially with the Republicans arguing against every possible rise in taxes of any kind.

The President has offered a solution that would close loopholes in the tax code, and use that money for the transportation fund.  The Republicans naturally rejected that idea.  I wonder if they had to throw up in the bathroom before taking to the mikes.  The Republican solution is, naturally, to cut spending in other programs, like the social safety net, to pay for the road construction.  As usual, they want the poor to pay for everything.

One plan even proposed to pay for the increases in transportation by shutting down the mail service on Saturdays.  Something Rep. Issa has wanted to do for a long time.  Actually he wants the Post Office to go away totally.  Republican Senators rejected this idea and it died quickly.  A real problem I see with this proposal is that the Post Office doesn’t get any money from the government.  It is run like a private company.

There was a plan to raise the tax on large trucks.  The thinking goes that large trucks cause a lot of the road damage, so they could pay a bit more.  However, because it used the word “tax”, Republicans killed it very quickly.

So, here we sit.  30 days away from the first necessary cuts to Federal Grants to States to make our roads and bridges safer, and Congress is in recess, again!  Some claim that this will get solved in time.  I am not so sure.  I don’t believe it will get solved because the Republicans are adamant against any form of tax increase.  They want to cut from social safety nets in order to pay for it.  Another reason I don’t think it will get done is because Republicans have proven time-and-again that they don’t care about the jobs of us “little people”.  They seem perfectly willing to let 700,000 people lose their jobs.  Jobs by the way, that are good paying middle-class jobs.

Both sides of the aisle have to work on this issue.  The Democrats have floated several solutions to the problem just to be shut down by the Republicans.  Republicans haven’t really offered anything except the shut down Saturday mail service plan.  From what I could find in my research on this, not one idea has come from the House Republicans.  All of the problem solving is taking place in the Senate.

But then, what is the harm in shutting down transportation construction?  It isn’t like we need those 700,000 jobs.  It isn’t like we need good roads to get our products to market.  It isn’t like we need safe bridges for our citizens to drive across.  The worse we allow our infrastructure to get, the more jobs we will lose.  Thereby allowing employers to offer $3.00 per hour for labor in order to “attract foreign investment”.  Or, as the mantra of the super rich goes, “screw the people, I got mine!”

So, when September and October rolls around and you are still driving on that stripped pavement on the highway, just drop a little thank you note to John Boehner and the Republicans.  You will probably have to send it to their district office address.  They will probably be on break again.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 141 other followers