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The right-wing in this country want you to believe that if you allow them to enact “Christian Laws” into State and Federal Codes, everything will be perfect.  They want you to believe that their interpretation of what they call “sacred scripts” is the only way America can be perfect.  They tell you that they “love everyone and are not bigoted.”

However, their actions, as well as actions of right-wing Christians everywhere tell a different story.  These actions say that Christians are just as hateful and bigoted as any other religious group.  We have constantly heard about how evil Sharia Law is.  We have been told, erroneously, that there are “no go zones” in Europe because Muslims have put Sharia Law into place locally and Christians are afraid to venture into these areas.

There is also something that they are not telling you.  That Christian fundamentalists all over the world are creating more bigoted laws than we have since the end of World War II.  Here are just a few examples of just how unloving and hateful Christians really are.

Anti-Semitism is on the rise in Europe.

We all remember our history and the stories about the Holocaust during Nazi Germany’s rule in Europe.  What the right is not telling you is that anti-Semitism is on the rise in Europe.  And, it is not just Muslims who are anti-Semitic.

We have seen the murders of Jewish people just because they are Jewish.  We have seen Jewish cemeteries desecrated.  In Strassburg France hundreds of Jewish graves were desecrated just last week.  We have even seen a video that was made in France where people were hurling insults at Jews as they walked down the street.  These were not Muslims hurling the insults either.

Anti-Semitism is nothing new in Europe.  Programs were initiated against Jews for hundreds of years.  Entire villages were either wiped out or their residents forced to move out simply because they were Jews.  Then Hitler took it even further with the Holocaust.

In its 2014 report, the Community Security Trust in the UK reported the highest number of anti-Semitic incidents it had ever recorded. In London, the Metropolitan police recorded a 120 percent rise in anti-Semitic crime in 2014. With hate crimes generally underreported, the real figures are likely to be much higher.

Pediatrician In Michigan Refuses To Treat Infant of Same-Sex Couple.

A pediatrician in Michigan refused to treat an infant because that infant’s parents are a gay couple.  At first the pediatrician, Dr. Vanessa Roi, agreed to treat the infant.  But later “after much prayer” apparently had a change of heart.  When the couple arrived for the infant’s first “wellness check” they were greeted by a different doctor.

That doctor told the couple that Roi would not be seeing them at all.  As it turns out, Roi was so firm in her beliefs that she did not even go into the office that day so she wouldn’t have to see the couple and their child.  The other doctor agreed to treat the infant.

The irony is that it is not illegal in Michigan for a doctor to refuse treatment of a patient based on sexual orientation.  Of course the American Medical Association’s ethics code says differently.  Roi has not been a member of the AMA since 2001 according to her website.  But she is a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics which also says differently.

Since Roi “made this decision after much prayer” I guess she is saying that her Christian god allows discrimination against other humans.

Oklahoma Committee Sends “Preservation of Sovereignty and Marriage Act” To State House of Representatives

A Federal Judge has already ruled that Oklahoma’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional.  But, those “god-fearing” Christians in Oklahoma will not be deterred from discriminating against the LGBT community by a “silly Judge’s” decision.

Once you understand the contents of the bill, you see that it is even more ridiculous than the title.  This bill prohibits taxpayer funds, including government salaries, to be used for any activity that supports same-sex marriage. It also says that those who issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples can be subject to removal from office.

The state is trying to find a loophole where-by they can openly discriminate against the LGBT community.  Not by saying that same-sex marriage is illegal in the state, but rather by firing any official who issues a marriage license to same-sex couples.

Representative Emily Virgin, a Democrat who voted against the measure in committee on Tuesday, said: “No other state in the union has seen more anti-LGBT legislation introduced during this legislative session. The battleground is right here in Oklahoma.”

These are just a few examples of how right-wing Christians believe they will “make the world perfect.”  Of course there have been other stories about how they want to bring back prayer to public schools, place religious artifacts in court rooms, and allow business to openly discriminate against anyone they think goes against their beliefs.

This just shows that anytime we allow religious beliefs to bleed into society and our laws how other groups are targeted.   Christians have no more tolerance for those who believe differently than Muslims.  That is why the First Amendment says:  “The government shall not endorse any religion.”

I have said this before.  History is cyclical.  It is obvious that we have failed to learn from history, therefore we are doomed to repeat it.  Even if you agree with this nonsense, remember, at some point someone with more money and a louder bullhorn is going to come around and make your beliefs illegal.  That should be reason enough for everyone to fight this crap before it goes any further.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewel was in Alaska yesterday.  She went to a small village to see first-hand the effects climate change is having on this village.  She visited Kivalina, a village of 370 on a barrier island just off Alaska’s northwest coast.

For those who don’t know very much about Alaska, savage winter storms can have a devastating effect on coastal areas.  Kivalina was protected in the past from some of these storms because of the ice which created a natural barrier.  However, in the last few decades, this natural barrier hasn’t been as effective because the ice freezes later in the winter than in the past.

As a result, coastal erosion has increased dramatically.  “You can see the impact of coastal erosion in the village,” Jewell said. “You can hear the fear in people’s voices about what’s happening with climate change. Things are changing up here, and that’s part of what I’m on this trip to learn about.”

The erosion has gotten so bad that residents have moved bodies from the village cemetery in order to prevent them from washing away.  Additionally, they report that due to migration route changes, subsistence hunters must travel greater distances to harvest caribou and whales.

The coastal erosion has also resulted in less land on the island.  That means there is less land to build new homes.  As a result, many residents are “cramming” up to 20 people in a 2 or 3 bedroom house.  “Hopefully this session will bring the kind of visibility that you need to Kivalina for the challenges you have with climate change,” Jewell said, pointing to television cameras carried by reporters. “Because you’re on the front lines, right here.”

But, there is another problem in Alaska that is harming villages like Kivalina.  The state budget is tied to the petroleum industry with 90% of its revenue coming from that industry alone.  With oil prices dropping, the state is now facing a multi-billion dollar deficit.

As a result, some of Alaska’s officials followed Jewel on her visit.  However, they didn’t seem to interested in the plight of the village or its population.  Rather, they were only interested in being able to produce more oil.  President Barack Obama’s announcement last month that he would seek wilderness status for the oil-rich coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve, and Jewell’s announcement that she would remove five Arctic Ocean areas from future offshore lease sales, prompted protests from Alaska officials.

“I may be an easy target,” Jewell said. “But the reality is oil prices have fallen dramatically, and that’s impacted the state’s budget. We are supporting responsible and safe oil drilling in the National Petroleum Reserve and in the Outer Continental Shelf.”

Residents of Kivalina talked about something other than oil drilling.  “When I was in the village of Kivalina, they didn’t talk with me at all about resource development,” she said. “They talked to me about personal life and safety. They talked about subsistence. They talked about a change in climate, about melting permafrost that’s impacting berry picking and their movement across the landscape.”

U.S. Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska said past administrations have always treated Alaska like a “little jewel” without consideration about its residents.  He then went on to say that President Obama was even worse than past administrations.

“What’ll be accomplished? We don’t know,” Young said. “I’m not overly optimistic, because this is not the secretary’s, personally, I don’t think it’s her personal opinion. It’s an environmental group around the president. And the president’s decided to be against fossil fuels.”

His last comment came straight from the Republican and Oil Industry playbook.  He said:  “The idea that global warming is caused by people is the biggest charade ever perpetrated on the people of Alaska.”

Well Mr. Young, what does the State of Alaska plan to do to assist villages like Kivalina?  You never mentioned the plight of these people and their village.  If this continues, it is very possible that Kivalina is going to disappear from the map.  Do you have any plans to help them?

Climate change is very real.  2014 was the warmest the planet has been in history!  As a matter of fact, 13 of the warmest years in history have come since the year 2000.  All over Alaska the permafrost is melting.  The arctic ice is melting.  Sea levels are rising.  And people who live in areas like the little village of Kivalina are paying the price for it.

Still, a Congressman from Alaska has the audacity to claim that the idea of global warming being caused by humans is “the biggest charade” ever perpetrated on the people of Alaska.  If this idea is such a hoax, why has there been more snow on the east coast than in most parts of Alaska this winter?  Why is the temperature in a small village on the northwest coast of Alaska about the same as in Washington, D.C.?

As usual, this is really about economics.  Specifically the oil industry’s economics.  Since oil prices have fallen, something must be done to increase their revenues.  Never mind that a lack of snow in many parts of the west and Rockies have cost ski resorts money.  Never mind that global warming is threatening to wipe out this village in Alaska, and it isn’t the only one either.

For Mr. Young and his cohorts, it is about protecting your donor list.  It has nothing to do with the citizens he is supposed to be representing.  As I see it, Mr. Young considers the plight of the villagers in Kivalina about as much as he does stepping on a bug.  Not at all.  Just keep the money from the oil industry flowing into his coffers and the world will be a wonderful place.

 

In 2009 when the Affordable Healthcare Law was being debated, I was fully in favor of it.  I am still fully in favor of it today, but we are seeing what happens when this kind of healthcare law is allowed to be run by insurance companies.  One year into the program, we are seeing over 7 million people who have never had healthcare before now insured.  However, there are still problems with the plan.

Some 26 states have refused to expand Medicaid in there states even though it won’t cost them anything for at least 3 years.  That is leaving millions of poor people still not covered.  It has also created a two-tiered system where your health is important in half of the states but not the rest of them.

Additionally, SCOTUS is going to rule on the subsidies that go along with the ACA to help working poor pay for their coverage.  Conservative states are arguing that since they don’t run the “exchange” then their citizens are not supposed to get the Federal Subsidies to help these people pay for their coverage.  This is being called the “death by error” provision in the ACA.  If SCOTUS rules in favor of their argument, another 8 million people will lose their health coverage.  Almost all of them in conservative states.

But that is only the tip of the iceberg.  There is a more dastardly problem with the ACA that needs to be fixed.  Since insurance companies are the real driving force behind coverage, they have been caught actually lying to their customers.  As a result, many people are receiving care by out-of-network doctors and then being billed what is known as “balancing bills” by the provider.

This problem is not isolated to only some of the providers either.  One of the things that insurance companies did was to narrow their “network” providers.  This is the real driving force behind the “I lost my doctor” argument about the ACA.  The other hidden problem is that if a doctor has more than one office, which many do, not all of their offices are part of the same “networks.”  This results in people who actually do their research to ensure the doctor they choose is part of the network still being billed by the provider because they “chose the wrong office” of the doctor.

The other thing is that if you go to an emergency room after an accident, you may or may not be going to a hospital who is in your network.  Especially if you are traveling.  On top of that, even if the hospital is in the “network” the people treating you may not be part of that network.  As a result, you will still be billed by those treating you separately.  The doctor, the radiologist, the anesthesiologist and anyone else involved in your treatment may bill you separately because they are not part of the “network” even though they are in a hospital that is.

Unfortunately, because of the lobbying the insurance industry did when the bill was being crafted, you are stuck with the medical bill.  It makes one wonder how this would have played out if the “Government Option” had not been stripped from the original legislation.

If you wonder why it was stripped, you need look no further than Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut.  Connecticut is considered the “Insurance Capital” of the country.  They lobbied Sen. Lieberman hard and got him to say he would not vote for the ACA if it contained the “Government Option.”  As a result it was dropped.

The “Government Option” was intended to “keep insurance companies honest.”  By eliminating that option, insurance companies are anything but honest.  When Congress took the Government Option out of the ACA, I said it was a mistake.  You cannot have true competition when a law allows the industry to “run itself” without competition.  And with the loopholes in the ACA that the industry lobbied hard to keep, we are not being covered as well as we thought or as well as we should.

As a result, the ACA is causing some people to face real problems.  These are the sort of things that was envisioned to “be fixed” as time passed by Congress.  However, with Republicans firmly in charge of both houses, those “fixes” will never happen.

As a result, it is time to start ramping up pressure on Congress to consider a “Single Payer” insurance program.  Medicare works well for Seniors.  The VA works well, for the most part, for veterans.  A “single payer” system would work well for all Americans too.

Before you start in about the wait times at the VA remember those wait times are caused by a lack of facilities, a lack of doctors, especially specialists, and a lack of workers.  Besides, there were no measurable wait times until the two wars broke out and thousands of vets needed extra care.  Since health providers can make more money in private practice, we will always see a shortage at the VA who cannot pay them at the same income rates as private practice.

We will never have adequate healthcare in this country until all citizens have healthcare.  We will never see the costs of healthcare go significantly down until we stop allowing the industry to run itself.  Only true universal healthcare will help meet those goals.  Medicare for everyone is the answer.  The networks for Medicare are far bigger than the current “networks” the health industry is offering us.

The ACA is plagued with problems because of “greed” by the insurance companies rather than any thing else.  There aren’t supposed to be any monopolies in our country.  But, I think the Insurance Industry is a monopoly and it has us all by the short hairs, and that is what they want.  Whether you live or die, or be solvent or go bankrupt, is all dependent upon the health insurance industry.

That is what the industry wanted.  That is what Republicans wanted.  And, as usual, we are paying for it.

 

 

It has been six weeks since Republicans gained control of both houses of congress.  And, after a grueling whole six weeks of being on the job, they have taken another week-long vacation.  In those six weeks, they managed to pass two pieces of legislation through both houses.  One deals with veteran mental health help, and the other is the Keystone XL Pipeline authorization.

One of the biggest problems with the Republicans is that they took over Congress without any game plan.  Oh, they said they had some obscure policies, but they have no game plan on how to get things working in their “New Congress” as they called it.  The other problem is that they are taking a week off without doing anything on DHS Funding.  When they return, the will have four days to get the department funded.

However, that is not likely to happen.  Democrats have remained unified in their opposition to the House Bill that funded DHS but removes all of the protections for up to 5 million undocumented immigrants from being deported.  Including the Dreamers.  Boehner said just before leaving for his vacation that “the House did its job.  Now it is up to the Senate to do theirs.”

Even Senate Republicans have expressed concern over the House’s bill.  They don’t see it as anyway to “govern” as they like to say.  As a result, the bill is languishing in the Senate due to a Democrat filibuster.  So, Mr. Boehner says that the Senate should change the rules and eliminate the filibuster.  The filibuster was the favored method of “saying no” to the President when Democrats held control of the chamber.  Republican Senators are in no mood to change the filibuster rules.

So, the heads of the DHS are starting to seriously plan on how to function without any money after next week.  Even though this administration has deported more undocumented immigrants than the previous three administrations before them combined, the Tea Party wackos are still not happy. As a result, the one department responsible to stop undocumented immigrants from entering the country, is responsible to deport undocumented immigrants they do catch, is supposed to stop terrorists from entering the country, and is supposed to stop our ports from being attacked by foreign shipping is going to run out of money.

The other story that is not gaining much press is the fact that the Republicans in the House are passing tax breaks again increasing the budget deficit another $300 Billion.  Whenever Republicans talk about funding programs like Head Start, Food Stamps, WIC, even Social Security and Medicare, they always say that “it must be paid for.”  Yet, when they want to pass these tax cuts, they don’t “have to pay for them.”

The first of these tax cuts doesn’t sound like a big deal.  What they are trying to do is make permanent some temporary tax cuts aimed at helping small business earning up to $2 Million.  These cuts allow these small businesses to immediately write off equipment purchases up to $500,000.  This is one of those temporary measures that has passed about a dozen times in the past.  The House Republicans want to make them permanent.

The biggest problem with this is that it is nothing more than a ploy to destroy comprehensive tax reform in the future.  Both parties want to overhaul the tax code.  Yet, by changing the tax code piece-meal the Republicans are trying to eliminate things that can be included in the bargaining over how the tax code can be overhauled.

Rep. Sander Levin said:  “The gist of that ploy — take a number of provisions separately, make them permanent, separately make them permanent, and don’t pay a dime for them, not a dime.  Not having to pay for $800 billion worth of tax [cuts] made permanent would make it easier for Republicans to lower taxes, especially on higher-income taxpayers, carrying out further their trickle-down tax policies.”

By reducing revenue to the government, Republicans are planning to make sure that items favored by Democrats and the American Public cannot necessarily be protected in any future tax code reform talks.  Like mortgage interest deductions, child tax credits, and earned income tax breaks.  Furthermore, reduced revenues will allow Republicans to complain about the deficit being too big and take a sledge-hammer to other programs like Head Start.

The plan is to create a deficit bigger than what we already have, and use it as an excuse to eliminate the programs you hate.  You can then safely go after Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.  That old faithful argument of the deficit being too big will hold more water, they believe.  Even though you created the bigger deficit through irresponsible “governing.”

As a result of the criticism, Paul Ryan took a page out of Boehner’s book and criticized the Democrats for wanting to “pay” for these tax cuts.  He said:  “If you dare try to make these things that we all agree on that need to stay in the tax code permanent, it’s ‘You’re not paying for it; it’s a budget buster; you’re being irresponsible; you’re jeopardizing tax reform.’ Process, process, process.”

In other words, “how dare the Democrats use the same arguments we use all of the time to strip the social safety net from the American People when we try to cut taxes.”  As Ryan says “process, process, process.”  Only they don’t like it when what they argue about all of the time is used to call them out for their own failed policies.

We have lived under the sewage of “trickle-down economics” for 40 years.  It has failed us miserably.  We have lost over 5 million factory jobs overseas.  We have become a nation of an economy built on part-time workers in a “service” economy.  Middle-class wages have stagnated while the rich get richer.  Deregulation caused the latest economic crash that was the worst since the Great Depression.

Yet, Republicans are still trying to get us to “buy into” their “trickle-down” economy.  There has been no “trickle-down” for over 40 years.  There will be no “trickle-down” in the next 40 years either.  “Trickle-down” and “Supply Side” economics are nothing more than hocus-pocus economics.

We are six weeks into the “New Congress” and we are already facing a partial shutdown of the government.  The very department that actually is responsible to “protect our borders” is facing a shutdown simply because Republicans cannot agree on anything among themselves.  We have already had two tax cuts passed by the House and more are on the way which will only increase the budget deficit.  And, Congress is on vacation, again!

That is Mitch McConnell’s and John Boehner’s definition of “governing!”

Fifteen days and counting.  That is how much longer the Department of Homeland Security will have funding.  On March 1, the DHS will be forced to “shut down” because it won’t have any money left.  There is only one reason that DHS is about to run out of money.  The Republican Party has made funding DHS a political game.

This is all over the President’s Executive Order about immigration.  The Republicans want that Executive Order done away with, and they don’t want to fund DHS until it is.  As a result, the House passed a bill funding DHS only if it undoes the Executive Order.

In the Senate the Democrats have filibustered the bill.  There are not enough Republican votes to override the filibuster, so the bill is essentially dead in the Senate.  The weird part seems to be that the Republicans cannot even get together on who is to blame if the DHS funding runs out.  For example, Senator Mark Kirk, a Republican from Illinois had said from the beginning:  “I think the defunding action leads us to a potential government shutdown scenario which is a self-inflicted political wound for Republicans.”

However, in order to shed light that he really thinks the Democrats are to blame, yesterday he told a bunch of reporters:

“The Republicans — if there is a successful attack during a DHS shutdown — we should build a number of coffins outside each Democratic office and say, ‘You are responsible for these dead Americans,’” Kirk said Tuesday.

Kirk also told POLITICO: “In the end, eventually the lap-dog media — of which you guys are probably all members of — is unable to call it for what it is: just pure politics to try to hurt the Republicans. I think Democrats mistakenly feel a shutdown is a scenario which advantages them.”

So Senator which is it?  Even he can’t make up his mind.  Even after trying to pin the hypothetical deaths of Americans on the Democrats, he basically threw up his hands and said that the whole Republican strategy is a mistake, and urged his leadership to cave to the President.

I guess you can argue that if the Republican strategy is a mistake, you cannot blame the Democrats if DHS shuts down at the end of this month.

Then there is the faux Speaker of the House, the infamous Mr. Boehner.  Boehner threw a hissy fit yesterday even using mild obscenities.  He won’t admit that the strategy is a mistake, but rather tries to make the Democrats the villain.  I almost fell over laughing when I heard him say:

This can get done if the Democrats would just stop saying no to everything.

That is really rich coming from him.  Just a little recap of his own inaction in the past by refusing to allow votes on little pieces of legislation like:

  • The Bi-Partisan Immigration Reform Act passed by the Senate almost two years ago.  Which by the way, if passed would not have resulted in the Executive Order in the first place.
  • The Transportation and Infrastructure Bill which would have created millions of middle-class paying jobs across the nation.
  • ENDA which would make it illegal to fire someone just because they were gay.  And, would have prevented Gov. Brownback in Kansas to strip LGBT protection in that state.
  • The Fair Pay Act which would ensure that women be paid the same salary as men who are doing the exact same job.

Those are just four bills that were not even allowed the courtesy of a vote in the House in the last six years!  Besides, only the Transportation and Infrastructure Bill would have cost the government any money.  But, it would also have brought more revenue into the government through taxes those getting the jobs would be paying.

Now he has the audacity to claim that the Democrats are the ones who always say no?  Just because they are stopping one very bad piece of legislation?  That is very rich indeed!

Ever since January 20, 2009 the Republicans have been the party of NO!  They have refused to work with the President on any piece of legislation that would benefit the American People.  Their strategy was as Mitch McConnell said on inauguration Day: “to make this President a one-term President.”

So, I guess the shoe is on the other foot now.  Even if the bill were to get to the President’s desk, there is no doubt in my mind that he would veto it.  And, there will not be enough votes to override the veto.  That is what happens when someone decides to play politics with the security of our nation, which is what the Republicans decided to do.

As it looks right now, in fifteen days we are going to be forcing tens of thousands of employees in the DHS to continue working without pay.  Oh, they will be promised that they will get it back once the Department is fully funded, but there won’t be any guaranties.  I would not be surprised if conservatives tried to tie their back-pay to overriding the Executive Order too.

The reason these men and women will be forced to work without pay is because they fall under the category of “essential personnel” and cannot just stop working.  People in the Border Patrol, ICE, and the USCG, to name a few, will all have to keep working even if they don’t get paid.  I wonder if Mr. Boehner or Mr. McConnell will write a letter to the creditors of these employees to ensure they don’t lose their houses or cars while they are working without pay.  I doubt it.  No one ever did before.

But we have to remember that using the American People as pawns in their political games is standard operating procedures in Republican circles.  At the start of this session of Congress in which the Republicans control both houses, we were told by Boehner and McConnell that we will see how well they can “govern.”  After five weeks in power, I would have to give them a Grade of “F”.

Just so the two of them know, governing is not playing politics with legislation.  Governing is working with the other side to get something meaningful done.  They refused to work with the other side for the last six years, and they are refusing to work with them again.  That is not governing.

At this rate we will see another useless Congress for the next two years.  But since that is what we have had for the last six years we shouldn’t expect anything else.  In the meantime, DHS funding is being held up for pure political reasons.  Security of the nation be damned!

 

We see it everywhere.  We see it on the internet in advertising.  We see it in social media.  We basically see it everywhere and it is really getting old.  I am talking about all of those “news” items that keep popping up about how the President and the Democrats are eroding the constitution.

We hear about the President being “lawless” because he issues executive orders like every President before him.  We see that he is trying to take our guns away even though no legislation has been proposed to “take our guns” away.  We see that he is in league with the Muslim Brotherhood.  We see that only the Republicans are fighting for our freedom and liberty.

Okay, let’s take a little look at what is really going on.  I am simply going to list some laws that were either passed or introduced by Republicans in Congress or states in the name of “liberty.”

They claim that abortion is wrong.  They have passed laws in several states that make it almost impossible for some women to get an abortion if they desire.  They justify these laws stating that human life begins at conception.  Thereby using religious definitions to justify laws they want to pass.  Yet the constitution clearly states that there shall be “no endorsement” of religion by the government.  Passing laws based on religious beliefs is endorsing religion.

They further claim that these laws are based on religious liberty.  Yet, there is no law that states anyone with religious beliefs against abortion must get one.  Only that if a woman wants an abortion it is legal.  Denying that right is denying that woman her religious liberty, which is a violation of the First Amendment.

They claim that voter fraud is a huge problem in our elections.  As a result, they have passed Voter ID laws in several states.  These laws are aimed directly at the poor, elderly, and college students.  Since in order to get these IDs required to vote, birth certificates are needed, if a person does not have a birth certificate they must pay a fee to get one.  Plus, college photo IDs are not acceptable to vote.

Additionally, many rural areas do not have facilities nearby where you can get your photo ID.  Thus, some people must drive in excess of 50 miles just to get an ID.  In some places that distance exceeds 100 miles.  People without transportation are unable to get their photo ID so they can vote.  That is a violation of the constitution in that all citizens are supposed to be allowed to vote.

Furthermore, there is far greater threat of voter fraud with absentee ballots than in-person voting, yet they have not included strict laws in order to cast an absentee ballot.  If voter fraud is such a problem, absentee ballots should be the first place to pass laws to ensure “true the vote” as they say.  But since most absentee ballots are cast by business people traveling, that doesn’t seem to be a problem to the Republicans.

They have passed what they call “right to work” laws.  The intention of these laws is supposedly to allow people to work without joining a union.  However, in reality there they are intended to make it more difficult to form a union.  Without unionization, the workforce does not have a formal voice to obtain a collective bargaining agreement to ensure pay raises, safety on the job, or other benefits.  In reality these are violations of the labor laws that have been passed in Congress.

They have passed a law that allows the Keystone XL pipeline.  Under this law they are allowing a foreign company to use “eminent domain” in order to sieze property from legal owners for the purpose of the pipeline.  They have even allowed this same company to force landowners to take on full responsibility if there is a large leak in the pipeline on their property.  Republicans are supposed to be in favor of property rights laws.  This is a clear violation of those laws and the provisions allowing eminent domain to be used.

They have passed laws in several states making same-sex marriages illegal.  One state, Alabama, has several areas defying a Federal Court’s Ruling stating their law is unconstitutional and still refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.  They claim that the bible says this is a sin.  Yet they are denying civil liberties to people who do not share their religious beliefs thus disobeying the First Amendment.  The courts have ruled that denying marriage licenses to these people is a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment.

They have passed laws that make it legal for business owners to openly discriminate against any group they deem to not adhere to their religious beliefs.  This discrimination is a violation of the Civil Rights Act and the First Admendment.

They have introduced legislation making certain clothing articles for women illegal to wear in public.  This includes things like yoga pants or any garment that ‘gives the appearance or simulates’ a person’s buttocks, genitals, pelvic area or female nipple.  The proposer of this law even says that “tight-fitting beige clothing could be considered indecent exposure under his proposal.

These are just some examples of laws that the Republican Party has either passed or proposed in this country.  There have been dozens of others as well.  As you can see, these laws make the government more active in our lives.  How can they claim that they want government out of our lives when they are passing laws that places the government directly in our living rooms?

All of these laws say only one thing to me.  The Republican Party is trying to destroy our constitution.  They deny rights to individuals they don’t like, and allow the government to dictate our behavior, beliefs, and even what we wear.  I don’t think there is any doubt that they are the party against freedom and liberty.  They are the real anti-American party.

 

There has been an awful lot written about Brian Williams and his fall from grace at NBC News.  When it first came out that he “exaggerated” his helicopter flight in 2003 when he said they had been fired on, I thought: What was he thinking?”  This was the nightly anchor for a major network’s news reporting.  He needn’t exaggerate anything.  He wasn’t there to show how brave he was.  He was there to report the news.

But you see, that is what is wrong with the nightly news today.  Rather than simply reporting what happened, news reporters believe they should become part of the story.  Worse, if there isn’t anything “sexy” to report, then something needs to be made up.

The real issue in all of this is integrity.  If news reporters have no integrity, they have no right to be on the air.  I don’t care who they are either.  If Williams is guilty of exaggerating other stories, he deserves to be fired, not just suspended.  But, Williams is just a symptom of the problem, not the cause.

Brian Williams is not alone in this either.  When Ronald Reagan got the part about, equal time, dropped from the airways, the real problems in reporting began in earnest.  As you my remember, if a news organization, or TV station said something political, then the other side was given the right, by law, to respond to those comments.  Reagan got that little law erased.

With that erasure, people like Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck, Sean Hannity, and others started hitting the airways.  It was simple.  Since they did not have to offer air time to their opponents, they could simply say whatever they wanted and get a way with it.  The unfortunate side effect of this was that it began to bleed into “regular” news outlets as well.

With the success of those “talk radio” hosts, Fox News was invented.  It claimed to be “fair and balanced” but we all know that isn’t true.  Unless you believe that “fair and balanced” means you attack anything that isn’t male, white and rich.  As a result of all of this, we have seen our nightly news on the major networks become something other than news.  It has fallen into the trap of “entertainment” which is what the conservative media really is.

When you become entertainment, you lose sight of what your real purpose is.  You lose tract that you are supposed to “report the news” and not become a part of it.  It really doesn’t matter if you lean left or right as a person.  You are supposed to simply report the news without a bias.  Yes, that is hard to do, but it has been done in the past.

We remember news anchors like Cronkite, Smith, Brinkley, and Huntley.  These people understood their jobs.  They didn’t need to overly dramatize what was happening.  But, as with all things, times change and people change.  As a result, the news has changed, too.

I don’t know about you, but I am sick and tired of seeing news people on-screen showing “deep emotions” whenever a tragedy occurs.  I am tired of news reporters standing in front of some scene of tragedy with tears in their eyes blubbering about “how terrible this was.”  We already know how terrible it was.  But that is what happens when news becomes entertainment.

The news is supposed to let us know what is happening in our world.  It is supposed to give us information so we can make up our own minds when it comes to politics or issues.  It is not supposed to be our decision maker.  It is not supposed to “entertain” us.

I can remember only two times when the past news anchors showed emotion on air.  Once when JFK was killed, and the other was when we landed on the moon.  Unfortunately, showing emotion and becoming part of the story is common-place today.

I am not trying to pile on the Brian Williams bashing bandwagon.  I don’t know what his motivation was, and frankly I don’t care.  Rather, I am simply saying that Brian Williams is a product of today’s news organizations trying to be entertaining instead of informative.  That is no more evident than Bill O’Reilly defending him on the Kimmel Show the other day.  But then, when you make a living fabricating the news for your living, it is easy to defend someone else who fabricated a story.

The Brian Williams issue simply shows a light on how bad the nightly news has become.  It places a spotlight on everything that is wrong with today’s news.  News is news, it is not entertainment!  When the networks and other news organizations come back to that simple reality, maybe we will get nightly news that is worth watching again.

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