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Archive for the ‘Privacy’ Category

Day 161. 

Before I get started on this article, I need to be totally honest to my audience.  I absolutely hate Bill O’Reilly and I am glad he finally got what he deserved.  But, I did not hate O’Reilly because he called himself a conservative.  I hated him because quite frankly in my opinion he is a lying, obnoxious pig!

When Roger Ailes started Fox News, one of the first people he hired was Bill O’Reilly.  Yes, he was the number one cable news personality, but it was not because he was good.  It was because he was full of hate towards anyone not named Bill O’Reilly and his audience loved that about him.

Not once during his tenure at Fox did O’Reilly conduct an “interview” with anyone.  He set them up to be attacked, shouted at, and called names on air.  That is what his audience loved about him.  His open meanness.

When his “guest” was capable to fight back and was very willing to fight back, O’Reilly would end the interview and threaten the guest with security if they didn’t leave “my set”.  He would continuously lie to his audience, and when he was caught in his lie he basically said “so what”.

His “talking points” segment was designed to spew hate out on the airways.  He never had a kind word for minorities, women, gays, or anyone not named Bill O’Reilly.  There was only one point of view in his warped mind, and that was his point of view.

Unfortunately, his behavior did not end on air.  He took his misogynist views behind the cameras.  He has been accused at least seven times of sexual harassment.  He settled at least five times for a total of $13 million.  And, still he claims that all of the accusations were unfounded.

Bill O’Reilly is the perfect example of how “power corrupts absolutely”.  He really believes that he is bigger than life and that nothing he does is wrong.  If Bill O’Reilly says his behavior is proper, then we are all to believe that it is proper, even when we know it is not proper.

When Brian Williams got in trouble at NBC for telling lies about being under attack in Iraq, O’Reilly was the first to call for his ouster.  Yet, O’Reilly has a history of lying while reporting.  For example, he claimed to have covered the Falklands War but never left Buenos Aires.  He never left Buenos Aires because the Argentines would not allow any reporters near the war zone.

Yet there he was night after night explaining the battles he never witnessed like he was there actually witnessing them.  Then there is the time when he claimed that one of his “close friends” committed suicide in Florida.  I cannot remember the man’s name, but O’Reilly claimed at the time “I was about to knock on his front door when he committed suicide”.

The problem with that story, according to his coworkers at the CBS station in Dallas where he was working at the time, O’Reilly was actually in Dallas at the time of the suicide.  Then there is the indisputable proof that he wasn’t there.  He wasn’t mentioned in the police report of the suicide.  If he had been “just about to knock on the door” he would have been interviewed by the police.  No mention of his highness.

So, as you can imagine, I am shedding no tears over the ouster of the bigoted, hate-filled man who told lies so easily he actually believed them.  As I said, the man is a pig and should never have been on air.

But, if you think this is going to change the culture at Fox News, I am afraid you are sorely mistaken.  That is what everyone said when Ailes was forced out over similar behavior.  Just look at who Fox tapped to replace the pig.  Another pig Tucker Carlson.  It was Carlson who declared that all of the sexual harassment accusations at Fox were a result of a “liberal assault” on the network.

Tucker Carlson is just as hateful of women as Ailes and O’Reilly are.  And, he is willing to openly wear his hate for women on his sleeve.  If you have the stomach for it, just watch Fox News for one 24 hour period.  Every show they attack women, minorities, gays, immigrants, Muslims, and liberals.

The entire network makes its money off of unproven accusations about the Clintons or Obamas.  They don’t care about the truth, they only care about ratings.  That is why the ouster of O’Reilly was so surprising to many people.

As long as Rupert Murdoch owns Fox News Network, the culture of the network will not change.  Rupert Murdoch was fighting against letting O’Reilly go right up to the end.  His two sons wanted O’Reilly gone but Murdoch wanted to keep his ratings star.

Reports claim that Murdoch only changed his mind when his wife backed his sons and said O’Reilly had to go.  Now that he is free of Murdoch, I wouldn’t be surprised if O’Reilly attacks Murdoch’s wife and blames her for his ouster.  Because O’Reilly doesn’t believe he can do any wrong so some “woman” must be behind his ouster.

This sickening episode is just another example of how Fox News treats their women personalities and behind the scenes workers.  If you look closely at how this network operates, you would think that you are watching an episode of “Ad Men” instead of how a company should behave in the 21st century.

The reason this has not hit home with most conservatives is because they also believe that women are property.  They believe that women are to be subjected to men and they should either only say what their man wants them to or keep quiet.  Conservatives believe that women are only on this planet for the man’s sexual pleasure.  That has been on full display at Fox News ever since it first polluted the airways 20 years ago.

As a result, I do not expect any “cultural change” at Fox News.  I expect that there will be fake moves to show how the culture is changing, but behind their closed doors, nothing will change.  The women Fox News puts on the air are nothing but window dressing and “eye candy” for their viewers.  That explains why Kelly and Gretchen Carlson left and why the current women on air at Fox have remained so silent about this mess.

For all of those wackos who believe that the O’Reilly ouster was some kind of “liberal assault on conservatives to keep them quiet” I say grow up.  O’Reilly was let go not because of some liberal assault on him.  He wasn’t let go because of his obnoxious behavior towards women.  He was let go because he was starting to cost Murdoch money by losing over 80 advertisers.  This ouster was more about money than ethics.

You cannot fire someone over ethics if your whole business is unethical.  Which is exactly what Fox News is.  So, the only way to actually be fired at Fox News is to lose them money.  Money is really the only thing Murdoch listens to.  So, I don’t expect anything to change over there.

One more pig has been slaughtered at the Fox News Sty.  But, the rest remain.  They will continue to plug the sewer so it will continue to flow into the streets.  Here is hoping that O’Reilly has finally been shut up.  Fox News has enough hate-mongers still on the air.  As one of his biggest supporters Sarah Palin once said, “if you put lipstick on a pig, it is still a pig.”  And, O’Reilly is definitely a pig!

 

 

 

 

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Day 145. 

Monday has come and gone, and things are getting even worse for the average person in America.  One of the first things trump did was sign the bill that allows ISPs to make money off of you without your consent.  He signed the bill that allows them to sell your personal information, including browsing history, to anyone they want to as long as they pay the price.

Not only is this law an invasion of your privacy, one right going away under trump, but it also steals from you.  Yes, I said it steals from you.  Under this bill, if an ISP gets a high bid for your browsing history, they can sell it and not give you a dime in compensation.  I don’t know about you, but I consider that theft of my money!  If an ISP sells my information to some advertiser, they should have to compensate me with a commission on that sale price.

The odd thing is that over 75 percent of the American people were opposed to this bill.  Over 72 percent of trump voters were opposed to this bill.  Shows just what trump thinks about us and his voters.  So under this bill, we lose our right to privacy and we lose our right to make money off of our use of the internet.  We lose two rights in one bill.

Then he decided that women in the workplace, especially those who work for government contractors don’t need to be paid fairly or protected.  He rolled back the Obama Rule that made federal government contractors be transparent with their pay and not be allowed to use “secret arbitration” for sexual harassment or sexual discrimination cases.

The law required contractors to report pay to the government so they could ensure that women are paid the same rate as a male counterpart doing the exact same work.  It took away the arbitration part because under it, companies could hide any sexual discrimination or sexual harassment cases from the public.

The purpose of this law was to make sure that “companies acting badly” cannot make huge amounts of money off of the tax payer.  It told contractors that they had to follow the law in all aspects or they would not lose their contracts.  If a contractor had a history of violations, they would be refused the ability to even bid on a new contract before fixing all of their violations.

Sounds reasonable to me.  Why should the tax payers be forced to pay contractors who abuse their workers?  Well, trump has decided that is exactly what the tax payer should do.  They should be forced to use their tax dollars to pay contractors who cheat, steal, or hide sexual harassment or sexual discrimination.  In other words, trump says if you treat your employees like slaves, that should not keep you from making money off of the government.

So, when it comes to government contractors, trump is saying they don’t have to follow any laws to protect employees.  Especially female employees.  The barbarians are going to be allowed to remain barbarians and still get fat government checks.  How wonderful for the average American.

Then last night it came out that the “repeal and replace” of the ACA has been put on life-support.  It was announced that our vice president mike pence is negotiating with those wacky guys in the so-called freedom caucus.  He is trying to get their support so some version of the bill can pass.  And, in order to keep the moderate Republicans who supported the bill, they are using a nice semantics game that will cause a lot more harm that the original bill did.

The final version of the “bill” hasn’t been made up yet, but there are two parts that came out that show just how heartless these miserable bastards really are.  And, the chances are these changes will have very negative effects on you or a family member if it passes.

The first thing they want to do is claim they will allow those with pre-existing conditions to keep purchasing health insurance.  But, in a nice switcheroo, they are going to allow states to “opt out” of that requirement as long as they have “high risk pools”.

Here is how it would work.  It would allow states to not use community rating.  Under this rule in the ACA, insurance companies are not allowed to charge people more money than anyone else in their age bracket.  Meaning, if you have a pre-existing condition, you cannot be charged more than someone who is healthy and the same age.  That is the basic principle of insurance of any kind.  Spreading the risk and costs.  Under this bill, states could change that part of the law so people with pre-existing conditions would not “technically” be denied coverage, they would simply be charged a whole lot more in premium costs and deductibles.

For example, if a woman is diagnosed with cancer, she would be able to purchase coverage at high rates.  But, the insurance carrier could also say they won’t cover chemotherapy.  So, she would have health insurance, but not the ability to receive the treatment she needs to get healthy.  Unless of course she has lots of money.  In other words, she will probably die.

You must also go back before the ACA to fully understand this problem.  It is not just related to serious life-threatening diseases that everyone wants to talk about.  Prior to the ACA if you didn’t get insurance through your employer, you could not get insurance if you had a pre-existing condition like allergies or arthritis.  If states are allowed to use “high risk pools” to cover people with pre-existing conditions, millions of people will probably be priced out of the market.

The other part of the bill would allow states to change the state requirement for insurance carriers so they don’t have to cover the 10 essential coverages as required under the ACA.  States under the ACA can still opt out of this requirement if they can show that an alternative program would cover as many people with comprehensive coverage at a lower cost to the government.  Not one state has been able to meet that requirement.  So, not one state has been able to “opt out”.

The evil freedom caucus leader, Representative Meadows from the Soviet Socialist State of North Carolina, says:

The fundamental idea is that marginally sick people would pay the risk associated with their coverage.  Those that have premiums that would be driven up because of catastrophic illness or long-term illness, we’ve been dealing with that for a long time with high-risk pools.

Yeah, they have been dealing with that for a long time.  Under the old rules, insurance companies charged sky-high premiums, extremely high deductibles, and had lifetime limits on how much they would be forced to pay before they dropped you like a rock.  Additionally, insurance companies would not cover your pre-existing condition for six months to one year.  And, in some areas, there were waiting lists you went on before you could even buy insurance.

The original Americans Without Health Care Act was going to toss about 24 million people from their insurance.  This new version with these wonderful satanic changes will toss even more people off their insurance.  See, there are two ways to reduce the health care coverage rolls.  Simply cut things like Medicaid and by making those damned sick people pay through their nose to a point they cannot afford coverage.

I wrote once before that Republicans understood our real problem when it came to health care coverage.  The problem as they understood it is that “too damn many people have health insurance”.  So, they came up with the Americans Without Health Care Act to trim those rolls.  When it crashed and burned, they had to go to the crazies in their party to make the bill even worse for the average person.  All in the name of tax cuts for the wealthy.

If these changes are accepted and put in the bill and passes, Republicans will deal a double whammy on the health care coverage of Americans.  They will get rid of many who rely on Medicaid, and they will get rid of the sick bastards that are driving up their costs.  The two ways to reduce the health care rolls in one bill.  Nice!

Who will be the people most affected by this evil bill?”  Those wonderful people who voted for trump believing his lies about making sure that “everyone is covered under my great health plan”.  Most of his voters in rural areas will be the first to lose their insurance.

During the campaign trump said he would “make America great again”.  What his devoted followers didn’t realize was that he didn’t mean “great” for them.  He meant “great” for the rich and the corporations.

To put it in very crass terms, trump voters are nothing but “cannon fodder” in his war against our democracy.  There were three things that trump did yesterday that puts this on full display.

And, the shirts keep marching along.

 

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Day 140. 

I know that a lot of people may take exception to that question.  I also know that the knee-jerk reaction is “what the hell is he talking about?”  I hope both assumptions are correct, because it is time we have a real discussing about this issue.

I have been around for some time, and I have seen politicians come and go.  I saw the Civil Rights fights that led to the Civil Rights Bill.  I saw the conflicts that led to the Voting Rights Act.  I was part of the anti-war protests over the Vietnam War in the sixties.

I watched George Wallace bring his bigotry to the national debate with his independent run for the Presidency.  I watched as the old Dixiecrats all began to fade away the leave government either by retiring or dying.  I served under five different presidents with varying views of civil rights.  But, everyone of them loved America and American democracy in their own ways.  Even Richard Nixon.

Things were getting better.  Life was getting better for everyone.  Americans were beginning to feel good about themselves again.  Then, something happened and I cannot put my finger on exactly what that was.   In my view it started with Ronald Reagan.  It was Reagan who started coining the term “welfare queen”.

When Reagan was President, we had Iran Contra where his administration broke a real law by selling guns to Iran in order to raise money to fund the Contras in Central America which was breaking another law.

Several of Reagan’s people wound up in jail over the incident, but Reagan escaped untouched.  Then after Bill Clinton was elected, things got real nasty.  Clinton was actually impeached because he had sex with an intern in a consensual relationship.  What was his “impeachable” offense?  He lied about it, like every Republican who also got caught in affairs.

George W. Bush took us to war.  I didn’t have a problem with the war in Afghanistan since that was where the terrorists who committed the atrocious act of 9/11 were.  However, that wasn’t good enough for W.  He wanted to take out Iraq too.  As a result, it turns out he lied about getting us into the war.  He said over and over that Iraq had weapons of “mass destruction” and that was the justification for his war.

After the war, we found out that he did lie to us because Iraq did not have any weapons of mass destruction.  It was “proven beyond a reasonable doubt” that the President lied to the American people to start a war and kill hundreds of thousands of people.

The Republican Party began using lies as the only way to speak to the American People.  In the past, they used to wrap it up in “patriotic” language.  They would say things like “I am only dong what the American People want”.  or, “That is what the American People elected us to do”.

And they proved all of this was a big lie too.  When the Sandy Hook massacre took place, 70 percent of the American people wanted reasonable gun control laws.  The one they most wanted was a universal background check law.  The Republicans voted it down with “I am only doing what the American people want” lie.

We have started seeing more and more legal discrimination laws being passed, especially at the state level.  Republican state after Republican state are passing anti-abortion laws, voter restriction laws, anti-LGBT laws, and anti-local rule laws.

They have been trying their best to masquerade these laws as “liberty defense” bills.  For example, they claim that the anti-abortion laws are not intended for anything but “protecting woman’s health”.  Bullshit, they are intended to make safe and legal abortions unlawful.

They tell us that we need Photo IDs in order to vote.  Then they look at the types of photo IDs people have and the ones that are mostly used by non-whites or by the elderly or by young people, become not “authorized” as proper photo ids.  Then just to make sure no one can get around this, they shut down the government services, like Driver’s Licenses offices is areas that are primarily minority.  Making them drive or hitch a ride up to 250 miles to get the ID required to vote.

They pass laws they call “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” claiming that “Christians are being persecuted”.  They claim these laws are necessary because Christians cannot act like Christians anymore and everyone is “picking on us”.

But when you look at the laws, you discover the only purpose of them is to allow people to legally discriminate against any minority they want under the guise of “religious belief”.  They mainly targeted the LGBT community and tried to make it possible that a bakery could discriminate against a same-sex couple and not sell them a cake for their wedding.

Under this hateful behavior, they claim that if a baker must sell a cake to such people they would be “endorsing” the same-sex marriage.  BULLSHIT!  That is like saying that if you sell a cake to a member of the Chinese Embassy, you are endorsing Communism.  Or if you sell a cake to a member of the Iranian Government visiting America, you are endorsing the Iranian political agenda.

The only reason for these RFRA laws is simply to allow “government sponsored discrimination” against minorities.  Maybe they were only targeting the LGBT community, but every minority faces the same hate under these hateful laws.

Republicans claim they are the party that “wants government out of our lives”.  They claim to be the “small government” party.  Only their actions show otherwise.  When it comes to ensuring their pet projects get to see the light of day, they are more than willing to let government tell you what to do.

During the ongoing fight over the ACA, Republicans say they want the government out of the way and not get in the way of you and your doctor.  But, they are more than willing to tell doctors what they can and cannot do if a woman wants to talk about abortion or birth control.

Several Republican states passed laws “requiring” ultrasounds before an abortion could be performed.  Not because they were necessary for the woman’s health, but because they showed the fetus and they hoped that would change people’s minds.

They pass laws, like in Utah the other day, that are very dangerous to women’s health and even their lives.  They passed a law that says doctors “must inform women that after the first of two medications to perform an abortion is given, she can change her mind after the first medication was given and the abortion would be reversed”.  That is absolute nonsense and very dangerous to the health of the woman.

They pass laws like HB2 here in North Carolina.  This bill has several effects on our citizens.  First it mandates who is female and who is male.  It then says that you can only use a bathroom that matches the sex on your birth certificate.  It also says that local governments, like the city of Charlotte, does not have the power to modify this law in any way.

It does not recognize the LGBT community as a protected group under the Civil Rights laws.  It is still legal for a company to fire you simply because you are an LGBT person.  No other reason, just because you are gay.  But, Republicans say they are protecting “civil rights” of all of our citizens.

There is a push to reverse this horrible law, but the “compromise” they are announcing today is not very good and keeps in place the rule that local governments cannot pass their own laws or protecting LGBT from being fired just because they are gay.  The only reason this repeal is even being considered is because the Republicans are afraid the NCAA will lock them out of hosting any part of the tournament through 2022.  Since this law was passed by our Politburo the state has lost about $3.1 billion.

Republicans claim that women’s health care is very important to them.  Yet, they have been on a mission to destroy women’s health issues in insurance.  They have been making it difficult for women to get coverage for birth control in their “standard” health care coverage.

They have been going after Planned Parenthood for decades.  They don’t like the idea that you can get an abortion at Planed Parenthood.  So, they are lying to the American people telling them that Planned Parenthood is using federal dollars to perform those abortions.  Only that is untrue and illegal.

They latched onto the phony “sting videos” that claim that Planned Parenthood was “selling body parts” of fetus tissue after an abortion to “make money”.  The videos were proven to be heavily edited and fake.  That didn’t stop Republicans.  They insisted that Planed Parenthood be investigated.  So, many states did just that.

Problem came up.  After dozens of investigations, it was discovered the Planned Parenthood was not “selling baby parts” and they were doing absolutely nothing illegal.  The thing was someone was doing something illegal.  The people who made the videos.

In Texas, the City of Houston brought charges against them.  Felony charges.  Then just this week, California charged the makers of the video with 23 felony charges!  So, Republicans demanded investigations, but now that the only crimes found were by the people who made the videos, they are mysteriously silent.

Still, in the Americans Without Health Care Act that crashed and burned last week, one of the biggest things and most loved part of the bill by Republicans was the defunding of Planned Parenthood.  Again, Republicans say, “that is what Americans sent us to do”.

Only 70 percent of the American People do not want the government to defund Planed Parenthood.  7 in 10 people know that the services that Planed Parenthood offer are only offered by them.  Poor women and poor working women get their health care from Planned Parenthood.  Including cancer screenings, STD prevention and treatment, birth control, and a whole host of other services.

Did you know for example that unwanted pregnancies and abortions, especially among teenaged women and poor women are at their lowest in decades?  Did you also know that these women get birth control form Planed Parenthood and if you remove those services, unwanted pregnancies will increase.  How can you care about women’s health when you want to allow more unwanted pregnancies rather than fewer.

When you look at the whole picture, you have to wonder why today’s Republicans hate America and American democracy so much?  What indoctrination did they go through in order to become so anti-American?

In 2016, it was shown that Russia interfered in our elections.  But, even with this very serious problem, Republicans don’t seem too interested in getting to the bottom of the problem.  They are definitely putting party ahead of country.  Why?

Well if you are a conservative, you claim they are following “conservative principles”.  But, Ayn Rand had no “conservative principles” she only had selfish principles and Ryan is a huge follower if her principles.

If you are a Conservative Christian you will claim they are “protecting” Christian values.  I don’t know any true “Christians” who believe we should abandon the weak and the poor and the sick.  So there are no Christian values in their laws.  Only hate.

If you are a “small government” Republican you will claim they are trying to get government off of our backs and let us live in freedom.  Only,the laws they are passing have nothing to do with individual freedom.  They onely increase discrimination on minorities and favor corporate profits.

These factions of the Republican party are kidding themselves.  Today’s Republican Party is interested in power, and not for the People of America.  They are interested in their power, and mostly in the power of the American Corporations.  They want an Oligarchy.

That is why it is so easy for them to lie and lie and lie.  It is the reason they won’t answer a direct question with a direct answer.  Our current Republican beloved leader claimed he would work for “the average American”.  But, so far, he has only worked for corporations and the Republicans love him for it.

Today’s Republican Party is interested in destroying our democracy.  They are interested in removing civil rights for the people.  They are interested in destroying the middle-class because they are a threat to the oligarchs.

Today’s Republican Party is more enthralled with the way Putin runs Russia than in keeping our country a free country under a great Constitution.  They see the Russian Oligarchs getting richer and richer at the detriment of every other Russian, and that is what today’s Republicans want in America.

Somewhere along the path of our nation, the Republican lost their way.  Somehow they emerged out of a forest, and we discovered they were a lot more greedy and power-hungry than before.  Hate, greed, and discrimination are the Party’s mantra and their religious creed.

Are these the reasons why today’s Republican party hates America and American Democracy so much?  Are they the reasons this Republican Party has passed more intrusive laws against average Americans than any other party in our history?  You don’t do that if you love you country.

And, the shirts keep marching along.

 

 

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Day 136. 

You can point to a lot of reasons that the American Without Health Care Act failed.  For one it was a really bad bill.  Secondly, the president can’t figure out that dealing with over 400 people in the House is not like threatening some other contractor that he fails to pay.  Third, Ryan is a lousy leader.

But most importantly, you can look at the Republican Party as the major fault.  And, I am talking about something that began years ago.  Things started becoming really partisan under Ronald Reagan.  But, once Barak Obama was elected President, things really went from bad to worse.

That fact that a black man could actually win an election and become President was too much for the wacko fringe of the Republican Party.  They started organizing under different banners, but the one that stuck out was the Tea party.  With huge money backers like the Koch Brothers, this movement gained momentum.

In 2010 the ultra-conservative nut jobs known as the Tea Party started pealing off seats in the House.  In 2010, the Republicans took control of the House and things started to get worse and worse.  Obstruction became the normal political practice of the Republican Party.  No matter what President Obama wanted, it would be voted down or simply ignored in the House.

This became the entire policy of the Republican Party.  After the Sandy Hook shooting and 70 percent of the country wanted universal back ground checks on gun purchases, the House said no.  When the Senate passed a bi-partisan Immigration Reform Bill that was really good, the House put it in a drawer and it has remained there since.

These actions were not because any of the bills that reached them were bad, it was simply because the House made a concerted effort to declare that nothing that was supported by President Obama would see the light of day.  There would be no hearings, no discussions, and especially no votes.

The Republican Party simply rolled over and let the wackos take charge of their party.  They allowed the so-called Freedom Caucus run Boehner out of town.  They failed to fight back for the principles that the majority of Republicans in the country stood for.  Instead, they let the wacko fringe begin to dictate policy.

They could have stopped all of this simply by talking to the Democrats in the House in order to get things done that would move the country forward.  In the past, they were able to work with the Democrats and there were compromises in legislation that helped everyone.

However, the party stuck to a Reagan Era rule known as the Hastert Rule that said no bill could go to the floor of the House without the party ensuring passage without Democrat help.  That was a huge mistake.  As a result, the wacko Freedom Caucus found themselves with way too much power for their little number of members.  The Freedom Caucus has about 40 members in total.

Only, that number of people is just enough to kill any bill they don’t like.  If a bill is going to help anyone but rich people in the country, the Freedom Caucus simply says no, and the bill fails.  If the party reaches across the aisle, the Freedom Caucus starts complaining that they are RINOs and fires up the country’s fringe against the party.

This whole mess came to light this past week.  In their absolute hate for the Affordable Care Act, a bill one of their own wrote in the 1990s, they ran on the “promise to repeal and replace” the ACA.  They have had seven plus years to put together a plan that would replace the ACA.  Only, the Freedom Caucus wackos would not support anything but a repeal with no replacement.

Being too afraid of the caucus running to Fox News and complaining about how establishment Republicans are trying to pass a health care bill that helps poor people, they simply sat on their hands and did nothing.  They complained and complained about the ACA.  They did everything they could to undermine the bill.  They did everything they could, except write a decent replacement bill.

Then came the election surprise of 2016 and donald trump became our president.  Here they were with control of both Houses of Congress and a Republican, well sort of a Republican, sitting in the White House.  Repealing and replacing the ACA was going to be a slam dunk.

Only they didn’t have anything to replace the ACA with.  They never even bothered to write a plan.  They showed their total incompetence when it comes to actually governing.  As a result, Republican leadership locked themselves in a closet and wrote a bill in secret.  Then a couple of weeks ago they held a Press Conference to show off their work.

The bill had some things that most Republicans loved.  They did away with the mandates in the ACA.  They cut way back on the subsidies intended to allow poor people, poor working people, and the elderly get health insurance which would have either thrown people off their health care or make it so expensive they would pay half of their income to keep it.  And, of course, they eliminated the taxes on the rich and corporations that paid for the ACA.  And, finally they were going to gut Medicaid.  Everything was smelling like roses for Ryan and his leadership team.

But, as usual when Republicans are in charge, something happened on the way to the Forum.  First, people found out that they were going to be severely hurt by the plan, especially trump supporters.  They would either lose their insurance or see their premiums go through the roof.  Then it was figured out that up to 24 million people would lose their health coverage mostly due to the gutting of Medicaid.

That was bad enough.  People started showing up at town hall meetings and blasting their Representatives for taking away their health care.  They demanded they vote against the bill.  But, that was just the tip of the iceberg.

The Freedom Caucus showed just what freedom they were interested in.  Freedom from poor people.  They dug in their heels for one reason only.  The tax credits that were in the bill to help people actually purchase health care coverage.  Forget that these tax credits were miserly compared to the subsidies, it was still something that the “little people” could use.  Their whole philosophy on health care is that it is a privilege not a right and if you can’t purchase it on your own, simply get sick and die.

Republican Moderates went into a tizzy as well.  They started realizing that the bill would surely mean they wouldn’t get reelected.  They started to realize that the old white people they counted on to keep office would be the big losers and that would certainly mean a loss in their next election.

Ryan and company were in trouble.  They started negotiating with the two different groups one by one.  They even relied on trump and his “great deal making” abilities to help them out.  Ryan and his cronies talked to the moderates, and trump would bring along the Freedom Caucus wackos.

The problem was every time Ryan made a promise to the moderates, the right-wing wackos dug their heels in deeper.  When they made promises to move even further right to appease the wackos, the moderates said no even louder.  In order show how things are done, trump sent his hitman, Steve Bannon to speak with the right-wing wackos.  Rather than speaking with them, Bannon threatened them.

A presidential threat of support or taking away support in the upcoming elections would usually work.  But, with trump’s approval rating at just 36 percent, the wackos were not afraid of him.  In the end, the Republicans had to pull the bill without even a vote.  The wackos claimed victory.  The president blamed the democrats who were never even asked to participate in the process.  Ryan said that “governing is hard, but we were really close”.  No shit!

I don’t care if you like Nancy Pelosi or not, but she had some good advice for Ryan and the president.  She said” You don’t pick a date for a vote and then try to ramp up support.  You get the support you need and then hold a vote.”  The one thing about her is that when she was the Speaker of the House, she knew how to get legislation passed.  Something Republicans apparently forgot how to do.

After the calamity of this loss for the Republicans, trump said that Ryan did all he could and he doesn’t blame him.  Only on Saturday, trump told his followers on twitter to watch a Fox News show that night.  The show was Judge Jeanine.

During the show, she directly went after Ryan and said he should step down immediately.  She went after Reince Priebus for having just as much blame as Ryan.  She claimed that trump had no blame in this disaster.  So much for trump backing Ryan.  Obviously, Judge Jeanine is backing the wacko fringe.

This is what happens when a political party puts party over country.  It happens when a party decides to complain and not rule.  It happens when they allow the fringe groups of the party take control.  In the name of obstruction and hate the Republican Party made a pact with the devil and they are now seeing just what that pact has done to its soul.

Instead of looking for ways to work with Democrats for the last eight years, they sold their soul to the wacko fringe groups in order to gain numbers to they could get power.  Now that they have power, they are being defeated by those very people they thought would make life beautiful.

The problems Republicans are facing in the House and Senate are of their own making.  The very fact that our president is trump, is all because Republicans sat quietly back and let the wackos into the mainstream.  They made a pact with the devil, and now they are paying the price for that pact.

This is not going to end with the Americans Without Health Care Act either.  The whole mess over climate change, the environment, education, the economy, North Korea, Iran, Russia, and a whole host of issues will meet the same fate if Republicans keep to partisan politics instead of governing.  The wackos are driving the policy of the party in these matters as well.

If the Republicans are really interested in moving the country forward and governing in a way that will help the average person on the street, they need to cast off of their fringe wackos and start to talk to the Democrats.  They will need to understand that compromise is the best solutions for the country.  They need to get over their hate and start to act like reasonable people wanting to do the best they can for the American People.

Until Ryan and his cronies in the party understand this simple fact of life, we will continue to be held hostage by the wacko so-called Freedom Caucus.  True Republicans with real policies for the country need to grow a spine and fight back against their own fringe groups.  In normal times, I might think this would be possible.  However, since the Republican party is more interested in power than they are in governing, I don’t expect anything reasonable to come from them.

It is a very simple fact.  Republicans will not be able to govern until they wipe out their opposition.  That opposition is not the Democrats, it is the wacko fringe of their own party.  Unfortunately, they don’t have the will or the courage to take them on.

As a result of their cowardice, the shirts keep marching along!

 

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Day 134. 

As you know, one of the main plans in the trump administration and the Republican Party is to pass laws that go uncovered because of all of the distractions going on at the same time.  This week is no different.  While you were all watching the Americans Without Health Care Act fight, and Nunes showing just what a trump shill he is, the Senate was busy passing something that will affect you personally, and you probably didn’t notice.

Naturally, it was an appeal of another of Obama’s rules that were made in order to protect the general population from exploitation.  If this bill gets to trump’s desk, there are a lot of companies who will be able to make money off of you and there will be nothing you will be able to do about it.

There rule involves the internet, something we all use.  The rule, which hasn’t even taken effect yet said that internet providers could not sell your personal information without your permission.  This included things like using precise geolocation, financial information, health information, children’s information and web browsing history for advertising and internal marketing.

In the usual Republican lying mantra, McConnell said that the repeal of this rule was necessary because the rule “makes the internet an uneven playing field, increases complexity, discourages competition, innovation, and infrastructure investment.”  What he really means is that if you use the internet, you are supposed to be a cash cow for internet providers whether or not you want to be.  And, they don’t have to give you anything in return.  Hell, they don’t even have to let you know they are selling your information.

The Internet and Television Association, a trade group, in a statement praised the vote as a “critical step towards re-establishing a balanced framework that is grounded in the long-standing and successful FTC privacy framework that applies equally to all parties operating online.”

There is a law called HIPPA, which makes your health information confidential.  Yet this repeal allows a third-party to sell your health information to anyone they wish in order to make more money.  Isn’t that a violation of HIPPA?  Apparently, McConnell and the Republicans don’t care.  According to them, your health information is open for sale without your permission.

I also find it amazing that this rule change is being made right at the same time that Congress is trying to remove 24 million people from their health care coverage.  More people will be using the internet to find insurance they can afford.  With this rule change, you are going to be bombarded with advertisements because your private information isn’t private anymore.

Part of dismantling democracy is to remove privacy for the citizens.  More than that, it is making each and every citizen a cash cow for people you don’t know, who is selling your personal information to anyone and everyone.

This rule would not have hampered the playing field, complexity, competition, innovation, or infrastructure investment as McConnell said.  It would simply make it possible for you, as a consumer, to tell Internet Providers they could not sell your personal information.

Republicans have actually made it easier for Russia and terrorists and criminals to get your personal information without having to bother to hack into your computer.  They just have to set up a shill company and buy everything they want from Internet Providers.  And, they say they want to keep us safe from these criminals.

All during the Obama Presidency the right-wing was complaining about “losing their rights”.  When asked which rights they lost, they couldn’t name a single one, because they never lost a right.  So, what is one of the first things they do?  They pass a law that takes away your privacy when it comes to your financial and health information.  This is the second right lost under the trump administration and we are only in month three.  The first was your right to clean air and drinking water with his rollback of EPA rules that protected those rights. How many more are on the horizon?

This presidency is all about rights for corporations and screw the “little people”.  The proposed budget, if passed, will screw the “little people” even more.  And, I can’t wait for the so-called tax reform on the horizon that will really screw the “little people”.

Our right to privacy is one of our most fundamental and important rights we have in our government system.  Republicans just told you that your rights are not as important as corporation’s money.

I consider health insurance not only a right, but a necessity.  Republicans have told us we don’t need clean water to drink or clean to breath.  They have now told us we don’t have a right to privacy.  And, if the Americans Without Health Care Act passes we won’t have a right to health insurance.

Yes conservatives, our rights are being stripped away.  Only it wasn’t President Obama that stripped them, it is trump and his Republican gang of thieves that are stripping them away.  Hope you are happy.

And, the shirts keep marching along.

 

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Day 132. 

There is a lot of talk about Neil Gorsuch’s performance at the hearing about is nomination.  A few of the Democrats have tried to hold his feet to the fire over some of his rulings, but the rest seem to be rolling over.  Even those who try to hold him accountable, don’t always ask the correct questions.

For me, there is one huge red flag flying over the Gorsuch camp.  This red flag is typical retorts from conservatives, especially when it comes to the Supreme Court.  That one retort is simply that judges, even Supreme Court Justices, are merely rubber stamps for whatever a law says.

As an example, Sen. Durbin brought up a case about a truck driver whose case came before Gorsuch.  Here is a brief explanation of the case.  This truck driver was forced to pull his truck over because his breaks froze.  As a result, he could not drive the truck because it was considered an unsafe vehicle.

The driver’s dispatcher told him to move the truck, but he said he couldn’t because the brakes would not work properly because the brakes were frozen and couldn’t stop the tuck with the trailer properly.  The dispatcher told him to stay put until help arrived.  The truck, for reasons I don’t know, did not have any heat in the cab.  The temperature was about minus 14 degrees.

After waiting for sever hours without help arriving, the driver was near freezing to death.  He then got out, unhitched his trailer and drove the truck to a place to get it fixed and warm up.  The company fired the truck driver for “operating an unsafe vehicle”.

Seven different courts sided with the truck driver citing his safety and desire to stay alive.  Then the case got to Judge Gorsuch’s court.  He ruled in favor of the truck company and the driver lost his job.  According to Durbin, he is still without a job and seems to be blackballed from driving again.

During the hearing, Gorsuch said he “felt for the driver” but the law was the law.  The driver drove what was considered “an unsafe vehicle” and therefore he should have lost his job.  He even went so far as to tell Congress that if they don’t like the results they should change the law.  “I was merely adjudicating the law as it was written”.  However, judges do have the right, and the responsibility to say when a law is unjust and not adjudicate is as it is written.

In this case, the driver had two choices.  Take a chance and get the cab somewhere he could get it fixed and save his life, or simply sit still and freeze to death.  Gorsuch says that he should have sat still and froze to death.  This a very real case that proves that extenuating circumstances should have ruled the day and not just the letter of the law.  Gorsuch, once again placed the company’s interests in front of the person involved.

Gorsuch also said that the same-sex marriage situation is “settled law”.  But, he would not say the same thing about Roe v. Wade.  If you are wondering why, just look at his stance on the so-called “Freedom of Religion” laws he favors.  The ones that allow companies to discriminate against LGBTQ people based on “religious beliefs”.

If anyone would ask me, I would have suggested a few questions for Mr. Gorsuch that would not involve any cases of the past giving him an out.  But, they would let everyone know exactly where he would stand if these kinds of cases came before him at any level.

These questions would be something like this:  Do you believe that there are two different types of laws, one type being secular which rules civil society and one type being religious law that rules religious beliefs?  Do you believe that religious law should be considered when making secular law?  If, yes which religion’s or religious sect’s religious laws should be considered?  Do you believe that religious law should take precedence over secular law in civil matters?

Those questions would unmask anyone’s beliefs on issues like Roe v. Wade.  Let me explain.  I believe that civil society is ruled by secular law.  In a country like ours that offers freedom of religion, secular law must be the law of the land.

Religious law should never be considered when making secular law.  If you really believe in freedom of religion, then it would be impossible to say one religion’s laws should be considered and another’s religious laws should not.

Religious laws should never take precedence over secular law in a civil society that claims to be open and free.  If someone believes their religious laws take precedence over secular laws in civil society, you know where they stand on a myriad of issues.

The case of Roe v. Wade is a case of secular law v. religious law.  The entire case hinges on the definition of life and when it begins.  Religious law, especially with Catholics and Evangelicals, says that life begins at conception.  However, there are differences between religious life and secular life.

One could easily argue that life does not begin until the fetus is capable of surviving outside of the womb.  The arguments are purely based on different beliefs of secular law or religious law.  The pro-life group is based on the idea of life begins at conception.  The pro-choice group says otherwise.

If someone asked Gorsuch if religious law takes precedence over secular law, and he said yes, it would be a clear indication that he would override Roe v. Wade if it came before him.  I believe I already know that he does believe that religious law supersedes secular law with his stance in the Hobby Lobby case and his support of these “freedom of religion” laws that allow discrimination against groups based on religious beliefs.

That is not someone I would want on the Supreme Court.  But, since Democrats are not interested in getting to a person’s true feelings and beliefs, these types of questions are never asked.

Additionally, if you simply look at our own history, you will discover that conservatives always believe that religious law supersedes secular law.  You can see that in laws that banned intra-racial marriage, same-sex marriage, separate but equal laws, and many more.  All of those laws were justified by “religious beliefs”.  If a judge cannot interpret the law and declare it unconstitutional, we would still have those laws on the books.

That is why conservatives argument about “minimal justices” is totally wrong.  It is the responsibility of judges, especially on the Supreme Court to interpret laws for their constitutionality.  The Constitution is secular law, and NOT religious law.  The Constitution protects all minorities from bad laws passed by the majority.  If judges are simply rubber stamps for Congress, then we would still have slavery in this country.

I do not believe that Judge Gorsuch belongs on the Supreme Court.  His rubber stamp mentality, his willingness to let someone die just because he is too lazy to include extenuating circumstances in applying a law, and his apparent belief that religious law supersedes secular law, makes him unqualified to sit on the highest court of the land.

However, I don’t think that the Democrats are willing to go full-bore on rejecting him.  I am not convinced that they are willing to dig in too much on this nominee.  There are a lot of old people on the Supreme Court.  And, I don’t think they are willing to fight one nominee that might make it easier to get a more conservative wacko on the court with the next opening, which could be any day.

But, in my mind he doesn’t belong there.  He appears to me to be just another sleazy snake oil salesman in a fancy suite with a fancy haircut masquerading to be “mainstream”.  He isn’t mainstream.  He is a far right social conservative activist and his rulings have proven that to be the case.

And, the shirts keep marching along.

 

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Day 126. 

As a nation we need to ask one question.  What type of country are we willing to become?  Ever since trump won the election, that question has been at the top of everything he has proposed.  And, in my opinion, he is looking for something that has not been America.

He has pitted race against race, religion against religion, and rich against poor.  We have always had problems in these areas, but he has ramped them up to a point where your race, your religion, and your wealth is the determining factor of whether you are a winner or a loser in his America.

He has tried to place a limited Muslim Ban on travel to the U.S. twice now, and he was rejected by the courts twice.  He claims that is all in the name of “keeping Americans safe” but he always runs his mouth and shows that it is really based on religion, which is unconstitutional.  His administration doesn’t help either with their rants about how Muslims are the root of all of our problems.

Then we have the so-called “Obamacare Repeal and Replace” legislation trying to get out of the house.  The CBO scored it and there are some good things and some bad thing for both sides.  The good for Republicans is it says that it will reduce the budget by $337 billion over ten years.  The bad for everybody is that 24 million people will lose their health care over the same 10 years.  The White House memo says that 26 million people will lose their health care over that 10 year period.

It is also becoming apparent even to Paul Ryan that the bill as written cannot get out of the House.  His problem is that in order to get out of the house he needs to take it even further right.  But, in order to get it through the Senate it needs to go further left.  It would seem that he has painted himself into a corner, and trump seems willing to let him blow in the wind over it as well.

Now we are seeing trump’s first budget.  This budget shows us just what kind of country trump wants us to have.  A country with no culture, no heritage, no sympathy, no decency, just more military and more bullets.

Naturally, there is the huge increase in defense spending and a huge increase in DHS budget for mass deportations and his Berlin Wall.  But there are still huge cuts for the Coast Guard, the TSA, and FEMA.

The Coast Guard is really our front line defense for our borders in terms of drug trafficking and people trafficking, as well as our port security.  The TSA is supposed to make us safe while flying  FEMA is the agency that responds to natural disasters, and in case you didn’t know, they are responsible to coordinate relief work in case of a wide-scale terrorist attack.  Who needs these agencies?  Apparently not trump.

But it gets even worse.  HUD will lose $3 Billion in its budget.  Number one on the hit parade from HUD will be a small program called “Meals on Wheels”.  All funding will go away to help old and disabled people get food delivered to them.  There will also be the elimination of the heating help funding for poor and older Americans.

The State Department will lose 28 percent of its budget.  The EPA will be hit hardest with a 31.4 percent cut to its budget.  What will be taken away is 3200 jobs and eliminate a new plan for tighter regulations on power plants, and “zero out” programs to clean up the Great Lakes and the Chesapeake Bay.

Health and Human Services is facing a 16.2 percent cut.  These include cuts of $5.8 billion from the nearly $32 billion National Institutes of Health, the nation’s premier medical research agency.  The NIH’s budget has not kept up with inflation as it is, and now trump wants to cut it even more.  This is the agency the does research on diseases to help us defeat things like cancer or stop pandemics before they get going too bad.  But then, since fewer people will have health insurance, who needs research?

The Department of Labor is facing a 20 percent cut.  These cuts include eliminating a federal program designed to help people 55 and older get new jobs.  The Labor Department is also supposed to protect your safety at work.  OSHA will see a huge cut in its budge meaning fewer inspections of workplace safety.

The Commerce Department is facing a 12 percent cut.  One of the biggest will be at NOAA.  These cuts would eliminate more than $250 million in National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration grants, including a program that helps coastal communities adapt to climate change, deal with invasive species and maintain healthy water and fisheries. Also on the chopping block: the Economic Development Administration, which provides federal dollars to foster job creation and attract private investment; and the Minority Business Development Agency, which is dedicated to helping minority-owned business get off the ground and grow.

Other independent agencies will be cut off completely and be forced to shut down.  These include the Public Broadcasting Corporation, the Appalachian Regional Commission, the Chemical Safety Board, the United States Institute of Peace, the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Corporation for National Community Service and the African Development Foundation. That foundation was established by Congress and provides seed money and other support to enterprises in some 20 countries on that continent.

I guess Big Bird is on the chopping block, again.  We really need to do away with things like education for young children and eliminating the arts for everyone else.  What kind of country needs those things?  And, chemical safety is definitely not needed since we can trust the Koch Brothers to protect us from harmful chemicals.

These are just some of the cuts that trump wants to make to the budget.  Of course, Republicans will tell you how much this budget will save money, but they will leave out their upcoming massive cut taxes, especially on the rich.  That means, even with these cuts, the deficit will grow even more than it is.

However, this also brings us back to the question I asked at the beginning.  What type of country are we willing to become?  All of these cuts affect the average person.  All of these cuts will have a negative impact on just about every American who is not in the top 2 percent of income brackets.

The Department of Education is also facing cuts and the biggest target is support for before and after school programs.  How is that helping the middle-class and the working poor?  It doesn’t and it will affect you directly.

There has always been a kind of pride in Americans and their willingness to help those in need.  Are we going to let that one trait of ours go away?  Are we going to stand by and let the unfortunate become poorer while the rich get richer?

Just how are the poor, the working poor, and the middle-class going to get ahead if they need to spend more income on things like expensive child care that will only keep them back?  As silly as some of you think, the Public Broadcasting Corporation helps educate children before they start school.  Are we going to handicap poor people’s children just to save a few dollars?

Before and after school programs allow parents to keep working to support their families and help keep kids off of the streets thus getting into trouble.  Should we really eliminate that funding as well?

The same people who want these cuts to take effect are the same people who claim that America was founded on “Christian Principles”.  Really?  These cuts to the social fabric of our nation are examples of “Christian Principles”?  If it is I am glad I am not Christian.

The health insurance argument really sums it up best.  The real question isn’t about liberalism v. conservatism.  It isn’t about right v. left.  It is about one simple question.  Is health care a right or a privilege?  If you believe it is a right that everyone deserves health care, then you must support universal health care because that is the only way people will actually have affordable health care coverage.

If you believe that it is a privilege then you fully support the Republican plan.  You are saying openly and defiantly that health care only belongs to those who can pay for it out-of-pocket.  If you cannot afford it out-of-pocket, you don’t deserve it.

If you believe that health care is a privilege, then you are surely in favor of all of these social cuts to the budget as well.  If health care is a privilege then so is clean air and water.  So is workplace safety.  So is being warned about weather events that may hurt or kill us.  So is medical research.

Those are some areas where these cuts are most felt.  The disadvantaged are being targeted so trump can have a massive military buildup.  They are being targeted so the rich can get more massive tax cuts.  Trump is telling his supporters who will be hardest hit, “screw you, I won”.

Of course it still needs to get through Congress.  We know that Democrats will be against most of these cuts, if not all of them.  We can only hope they are able to kill this budget before it kills too many of us.

If you believe that the disadvantaged should be abandoned and left to die, then trump is your president and the Republicans are your party.  But, I would suggest you stop your “Christian Principles” argument because you are not only lying to us, you are lying to yourself.  “What you do unto the least of you, you also do unto me”.

So far, I believe that this administration and Republican Controlled Congress want to abandon the disadvantaged.  They are only interested in the wealthy.  To me, that lacks all decency.  This budget is a snap shot of that lack of decency and moral fiber.  It is a perfect example of greed and a “me first” attitude.

So much for Christian Principles.

And, the shirts keep marching along.

 

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