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The other day President Obama said that the FCC should enforce strict net neutrality rules on the Internet.  Obviously, the internet providers like Comcast went nuts.  They were seconded by the Canadian Senator Ted Cruz.  To show just how stupid Cruz really is, he tweeted that the “internet should not operate at the speed of government.”  But, for the vast majority of internet users, that is exactly what ending net neutrality will do.

The ISP providers have a practice of charging companies for where they show up on search engines.  I have some first hand experience with that.  Back in the 90s, I started a small one-man consulting business.  I had my own web site.  If I wanted to have my company show up on search engines’ first page, I had to pay hundreds of dollars to the provider.

If I wanted my company to show up in those little boxes at the top, I would have had to pay thousands of dollars.  That is bad enough.  But, now ISP providers want to establish “fast lanes” and “slow lanes” all based on how much you are willing to pay them.

It works this way.  If you pay the exorbitant fees, you can have your information put in the high-speed “fast lanes” so people can access your information quicker.  If you cannot afford to pay those high fees, your content will be placed in the “slow lanes”.  Or, as Cruz would put it “operating at the speed of government.”

We are already faced with the ISP companies enjoying monopoly status.  Most people in the country only have a couple of providers to choose from to get their service.  Local laws have made competition for the internet providers almost non-existent in their communities just like cable.  That has already allowed the providers to charge high fees just to get on the internet.  Now, they want to “target” what we can research through their new rip-off.

But why all the fuss?  The fuss is over dollars.  The internet turned out to be something that is actually democratic.  Anyone with information they wish to share can put it on the internet and millions of people can access that information.  The internet has actually become a necessary part of our infrastructure.  It allows research for homework, business, and entertainment.

The plutocrats see it as a money-maker.  By segregating the internet content into “fast” and “slow” lanes, they can make huge profits.  Companies like Wal-Mart and the Koch Brothers, are not too concerned about paying those fees.  They can afford them (and take a tax deduction for them as well).  But start-up companies and most small businesses cannot afford such high fees.

So, the providers would:

  • Rather than having one big broadband “freeway” open for transporting everyone’s Internet content, the ISP giants intend to create a special system of lanes for high-speed traffic.
  • This express lane will be made available to those who want to rush their information/view points/programs/etc. to the public and to get greater visibility for their content by having it separated from the mass clutter of the freeway.
  • The ISPs will charge a premium price to those who want their content transported via this special Internet toll-lane system.

I have not heard one single Republican talk in favor of net neutrality.  Everyone who has talked about it calls it more government regulation.  I guess if you have the government tell companies they cannot “rig the system” in their favor, that is called regulation.  If these same companies are allowed to regulate what you can see at high-speed, that is called the “free marketplace”.

But, don’t kid yourselves.  This is all about money.  It is about companies using their monopolies to garner more profit at your expense.  The larger the company selling something on the internet, the more they will be exposed by this policy of charging for “fast” lanes.  It will cripple small businesses which the Republicans say they are totally in favor of protecting.

As usual, we are faced with monopolies determining what information you can view at high speeds and what you cannot.  If your company is forced into the “slow” lanes, it will undoubtedly be subject to even slower transfer of information.  Which means people will get tired of waiting for your site to load and go to the high-speed sites instead.

Then, after this has given the ISP providers more money, they will suddenly come up with a third lane and charge a premium for that as well.  Instead of fast lanes and slow lanes, they will come up with medium lanes.  Of course the price between slow lanes and medium lanes will double and small business will be further limited in their reach to the market.

The FCC needs to enforce rules that ensures net neutrality.  By fighting against net neutrality, Republicans are helping to shut down small businesses.  Then again, they don’t get as much in donation money from small business as they do from giant conglomerates.  Just like the ISP companies, for Republicans it is all about how much money they get.

 

The economy, according to the “experts”, is recovering from our Great Recession.  The stock market is booming again.  Gas prices are falling, almost to a point where these experts are getting scared.  Productivity has increased.  Even the housing market is beginning to recover in most parts of the country.  But, are we really in a “recovery”?

In past economic downturns and recoveries, the middle-class were both hurt by the downturn and benefitted from the recovery.  Can we really say that this recovery is benefitting the middle-class?  Government figures show that unemployment is down to under 7%.  That is the lowest it has been in 12 years.  Yet, those same figures state that about one-quarter of the unemployed are classified as “long-term” unemployed.  Meaning they have been out of work for several months, if not years.

Anyone who has watched the economy, or has been put out of work, knows that the longer you are unemployed, the lower your chances of getting a job.  If you are out of work for say 12 months, companies are less likely to hire you over someone who has been out of work for say 2 months.  This type of secret discrimination is common in the world.  I have heard a lot of different reasons why companies won’t hire long-term unemployed, and frankly none of them made any sense to me.

Then there is the fact that over 7 million workers are currently holding part-time jobs even though they want to work full-time.  Part-time work generally pays less and offer no benefits to the worker.  Many of these part-time workers simply took the job while they searched for a full-time job.  They are still in their part-time position.

One item that is talked about a lot is that fact that the top 1% captured 95 percent of the post crisis growth.  While the bottom 90 percent became poorer.  To showcase this point even further since 1979, productivity in the country has grown by a whopping 65 percent.  In that same 33 years, the average worker saw their pay increase a mere 8 percent.  Even worse, since 2007 the median U.S. income dropped every year and when adjusted for inflation was the lowest since 1995.

Corporations are playing accounting games to make sure they pay less or no corporate income taxes.  Approximately one-quarter of American corporations pay ZERO dollars in corporate income taxes.  Other companies are cheating the tax man by hiding money offshore.  When they hide money offshore, they can claim their “profits” are hurting and thus be able to cry for larger tax cuts to help offset this phony shortfall of profits.

Some states have gone ahead and raised the minimum wage.  Republicans, mostly conservatives, have shouted that this raise will cost jobs.  But, so far the proof says otherwise.  In states that raised the minimum wage, more jobs have been created.  Their economies are improving at a faster rate.  And people are coming off the Federal Social Safety Net.  Yet, there is a very large front against raising the minimum wage.  This front is funded by the very corporations who are hiding money offshore and paying no corporate income taxes.

I have seen recessions come and go in the past.  I witnessed the growth of the economy before and I witnessed everyone gaining from that recovery.  This is the first time I have seen where 90% of the population, the part that does the actual labor for these companies, are falling further and further behind during the recovery!

Problem is that as long as politicians and their “talking heads” ignore these simple truths, the American People will continue to suffer and lose economic ground.  The income inequality is already at its highest since the great Robber Baron days.  Conservatives say that the country is going to rack and ruin.  They are correct.  But, the culprits are not immigrants, minorities, women, or unions.  It is the very donors that keep them in power while hiding money offshore.

In the 2012 elections we constantly heard the cry “we built this” from Republicans the their corporate donors.  As long as the people allow that lie to continue, those 1 percenters will continue to grab all the benefits of any recovery.  The truth is that the workers “built it”.  Without their toil, none of these companies would prosper.  As a result, the workers deserve a larger piece of the pie.  Only then can we truly say the economy has recovered.

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

It has only been two days since the election, and I am already sick and tired of hearing about the “moderate Republicans” and how McConnell might actually “compromise” with the President to “get things done.”  Everyone at all of the networks seem to think that the “establishment” wing of the Republican Party has taken back control of their party.  Sorry, but that is total nonsense and very, very wishful thinking.

This great “compromise” is never going to happen.  Mitch McConnell is going to lose his caucus just as John Boehner lost the House caucus.  There is no way the ultra-conservative wing is going to roll over for him.  The Senate was always believed to be the stoic, thinking arm of Congress.  With six year terms, they have the luxury of not worrying about reelection every two years.  So, they were able to have more honest discussions that led to compromises.

Those days ended in 2010.  The so-called Tea Party movement ended all sense of honest discourse in the Senate.  During that time, people like Ted Cruz entered the Senate.  This year conspiracy nuts like Joni Ernst entered the Senate.  In the House, the same idiots from the Tea Party movement are still present.  There will be no compromise because the Tea Party doesn’t want any compromise.  If McConnell thought that playing nice to the Tea Party for the last four years will help him, he is wrong.

I know it is disgusting to do so, but if you go to Teaparty.org, you will se an article from that real nut job haven Infowars giving reasons the President should be impeached immediately.  You will also find their reasons as to why McConnell won’t follow through on impeachment.  It has nothing to do with the fact there are no reasons under the law to impeach the President.  No, it is because McConnell is afraid it will give Hillary Clinton a clear path to the White House.

And what are the reasons that the Republicans should impeach the President immediately?  “The attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, aiding terrorists in Syria, Fast & Furious, undermining the authority of Congress with regard to the attack on Libya, assassinating Americans via drone strikes, exceeding Congress’s power to regulate interstate commerce via Obamacare.”  These “articles of impeachment” they are touting only prove they have no idea what the Constitution means.  They are only interested in removing the first Black Man from the White House simply because his is black!

But, as the article says  ” while there are a plethora of reasons to impeach Obama, is the Republican leadership – are the RINO’s – really likely to get behind it? Not in a million years. Why? Because it would hugely increase Hillary Clinton’s chances of victory in the 2016 presidential election.”  So, as you can see, this wing of the Republican Party is still using their old “RINO” label against the “establishment wing” of the Republican Party.

Remember, their darling in all of this, Canadian Senator Ted Cruz, in an interview on election night failed to endorse McConnell as the Senate Majority Leader.  Cruz is waiting to see if the President is willing to pass “blanket amnesty” to millions of illegal aliens via Executive Order.  People who came here illegally, but have lived and worked here for years.  According to Cruz and the Tea Party, that alone is enough to impeach the President.

This is just the tip of the iceberg.  The Tea Party and their hero, the Canadian, are planning to basically shut down the government again if they don’t get their way.  They did it a couple of years ago when the Republicans were a minority in the Senate.  They will surely get it done again with a majority in the Senate.

The ultimate goal of the Tea Party and Cruz is to ensure the government stops governing.  They want to create total chaos.  If that creates unrest in the streets, that is fine with them.  They believe that it will lead to their takeover of the government.  Then they can create their homogenous “white male dominated” society.  If that sounds somewhat familiar, that’s because it is.  Just look back into 20th Century history to find the birth of such idiocy.

As a result, even before the Republicans take control of the Senate and Congress, the internal war is already raging.  That is why any talk about “compromise” or the real possibility of Congress actually getting something done to help the American People is nothing more than a pipe-dream.  The ultra-conservatives backed by the Tea Party and their major sponsors the Koch Brothers will never let that happen.

Poor Mitch McConnell thinks he is going to make a difference.  Maybe he should stop sipping his Kentucky Bourbon and start really looking at what he has for a caucus.  If he is as politically smart as the pundits claim, he would not even try to be the Majority Leader.  He will have no better luck reining in his wackos as John Boehner did in the House.  More’s the pity for the country.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Guess what is on the ballot in Alabama?  There is an initiative to create a state constitutional amendment that would outlaw Sharia Law.  Pat Robertson was the driving force behind this movement.  Oklahoma has already passed such an amendment, but the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional.  Other states have passed similar laws, but they called them “foreign laws”, instead of Sharia.

Now, no one that I know has ever called Pat Robertson one of the great thinkers of our time.  But, maybe, just maybe he is onto something.  Now before you start calling me Islamaphobic, please hear me out on this.  The problem for conservatives on this issue is that they haven’t thought this out completely.  That is not surprising since they don’t think out anything beyond knee-jerk reactions.

See, according to the conservatives behind this initiative, Sharia Law only refers to Islamic Laws.  They are wrong.  It basically refers to  the moral code and religious law of a prophetic religion.  It is clear that Christianity is also a prophetic religion.  Therefore, Sharia Law can be Christian as well as Islamic or Judean.

So, let’s look at just a couple of broad interpretations of Sharia Law.  First, under Sharia Law, women are considered second class citizens.  They are openly discriminated against.  It is even legal for a husband to beat his wife for insubordination.  It is illegal for a female heir to inherit the same amount as a male heir.  Women are not allowed to earn the same pay as men doing the same work.  Therefore, if Alabama passes this initiative, it is right to assume that unequal pay for the same work would be illegal in Alabama.  Therefore, every woman who is currently not being paid the same salary for the same work as their male counterparts must be given an immediate raise.

Sharia Law prohibits all forms of homosexuality, including same-sex marriage.  It allows private citizens to discriminate against homosexuals.  If the initiative in Alabama is passed, it will instantly become illegal for Alabama not to recognize same-sex marriages or to allow any discrimination against homosexuals.  That includes being able to fire someone simply because they are homosexual.

These are just two issues that would have to be overturned or recognized if Sharia Law is banned in Alabama.  If the state refuses to recognize same-sex marriage or allow women to continue to receive less pay than a man doing the same work, they would be allowing Sharia Law to be practiced in their state.  That would be against their own laws.

Furthermore, all prayers in all government activities, like opening of the state assembly or in public schools would also be immediately banned.  Sharia Law clearly allows for prayers at such places.  Therefore, the state would have to immediately outlaw all forms of prayer in public areas.  Plus, the Ten Commandments would have to be taken down from all of the Alabama court houses and other government buildings.

Religious scenes like the Nativity Scene would be immediately outlawed on all government property regardless of who pays for it.  By allowing such religious scenes to continue to be displayed would be a violation of the ban on Sharia Law which clearly endorses such activities.

The list goes on and on.  What the conservatives in Alabama with their initiative of banning Sharia Law actually is doing is taking religion completely out of government.  So, it could be argued that they are merely endorsing the First Amendment that already enforces a separation of church and state.

Since American Law is known for its broad interpretations, all of these items are real possibilities if Alabama is successful in outlawing Sharia Law.  Maybe that would be a good thing.  I am quite sure that imaginative lawyers could find arguments using the anti-Sharia Law to poke holes in other social issues like birth control, abortion, voter suppression, and others.

If this initiative does pass, instead of immediately challenging the constitutionality of it, lawyers should start using the ban to stop the discrimination that is the norm in many parts of the country, including Alabama.  I would love to see a good lawyer use these idiotic laws against the conservatives to finally smash their conservative social agenda.  That would be a fight worth watching.  Besides the conservative fight against using this law to outlaw their agenda would show the country once and for all their hypocrisy in just about everything.

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