Saturday, September 28, 2013

Burn it down. Modern GOP Domestic Policy.

               Really, guys? You actually think this is a viable policy?

In the 2012 Presidential election the Affordable Care Act and President Obama's Domestic policies were front and center. Mitt Romney had his ass handed to him. It seemed that the American Electorate had rejected the GOP's regressive vision of The United States.One would think that there would be the realization that elections have consequences. Well, one would be wrong.

Due to extreme gerrymandering (Ohio is a prime example) many State Governments wound up with extremest legislatures.Also the US House maintained a slimmer Republican majority and grew to be more far right Tea Party dominated. That is what happens when you have ironclad safe seats. Just look at the House Districts in Ohio. There is a District that stretches along Lake Erie from Toledo to Cleveland. At time it appears to be about six inches wide along the Lake in places.

Anyway, these Republicans saw the election results differently than rational people. They represent the true Americans. The election was lost because Mitt was not a REAL conservative. It was stolen by a coalition of community activists, Union thugs, liberal mainstream media, minorities looking for freebies and socialist Democrats. Because Mitt was not conservative enough the true American Majority of American conservatives stayed home allowing the Kenyan to stage his coup.

Starting in January we saw a two pronged attack on modern America. States under the control of reactionary, theocratic activists went after voting rights and women's reproductive health. The US House went after anything supported by the President. They continued to feel voting no on everything was leadership. They also went after Obamacare. After all it is socialism and a sign of the end times. They also continued to fixate on non-existent scandals making Benghazi the new Beetlejuice along the way.

The House embarked on Broadway try outs of their political theatrical production called Repeal. After more than forty performances they decided to open on Broadway. Of course, as is the tradition, there were script tweaks and some new production numbers added.

The backers of the show decided not to replace the director, Speaker John Boehner, they just ignored him. Although it was unusual the script consultant, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) is starring in a related production being staged in the Senate Theater.

Cruz, rewrote the script, giving himself a predominate off stage House Theater role.  The new plot line is rather than just stage Quixotic repeal votes let's hold the Nation hostage.  A Sopranos spin off. A decision was made to bypass the stage and go direct to a feature production.

Like most of the entertainment industry they are ignoring the last time a show like this opened in 1995. It was quickly cancelled amidst devastating reviews. With the popularity of sequels, TV shows moved to the big screen and reboots original ideas are not pandemic, so let's reboot.

Thus the GOP has decided to reboot the failed '95 shutdown franchise. They hope with a new director, producers, screenwriting team, bigger budget, promotion and cast this can be a game-changer.

This flick has decided to rely on a lot of improv in the script.  Every time the Director Boehner tried a new scenario he is bombarded by off script performances that alter the story arc. Now we have the action packed budget thriller, "Shut It Down" On opening it was savaged by friendly critics and even cast members. It also received glowing reviews from other critics and many cast members said how proud they were of their work. This blockbuster is doing good box office, in spite of ending with a cliff hanger. In a couple weeks we'll see the sequel, "Default". It has the same cast, crew and production team.

As the House blockbuster was opened, the Senate produced DVD extras with Ted Cruz. This acted as an extended trailer and a bridge between projects. Like the films the reviews were mixed but ratings were good on cable.

So let's sit back and hope the ending to these blockbusters actually make sense. A happy ending is so needed. It would be nice to see this reboot crash and burn. I see no emmys or Oscars coming for this. It won't play in Peoria.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Ted Cruz. A Clear And Present Danger. To the Republicans.

               Senator Ted Cruz delivered a twenty-one hour speech. A speech that everyone has been incorrectly calling a filibuster. It was simply a long exercise in self-aggrandizement that the Majority Leader allowed him to make. This was not Mister Smith Goes To Washington. This is about Senator Cruz building his brand, allied Conservative PACS raising money and both building mailing lists. As the old saying goes, when a Senator looks in the mirror he sees a President.

During the summer when D..C. is a soggy, humid mess and usually quiet politically, Cruz went on the offensive against the Affordable Care Act. He came up with the idea to tie funding the Federal Government to the defunding of the ACA. He did this knowing there was absolutely zero chance of success. The House had already passed a plethora of repeal bills that were DOA in the Senate. Cruz was aided and abetted by former Senator and head of the Heritage Foundation, Jim DeMint.  DeMint's Senate Conservatives Fund Joined in also.

By stoking the anger of the extreme right wing with the idea that a futile last stand against the ACA was viable he has significantly raised his profile. His lonely stand against political reality has elevated him to hero status amongst the Tea Party. Horatio at the gate. Custer. The Tejanos at the Alamo. He has attracted the usual extremist coterie of clowns. FreedomWorks, Sarah Palin and the extreme right radio land. 

These opposing groups are raising money hand over fist and collecting names to hit up for cash over and over. These people and groups feel extortion is a viable political strategy. They all feel the President and the Democrats will cave. These reactionaries know in their hearts if the GOP doesn't blink the Dems will. They will defund, even with a majority in the Senate and White House, they are at a political disadvantage. 

These so called patriots are under the delusion they are the majority in America. They believe this in spite of the decisive reelection of a Democratic President in a campaign the focused on "Obamacare". That loss only happened because Mitt wasn't a true conservative. That delusion is and has been rampant among the right. 

In a move guaranteed to endear these groups to Republican office holders they ran ads against the ACA. Unfortunately these were the types of ads usually reserved for Democrats. The message was any Rep who did not join this march of the lemmings over the cliff of sanity was basically a Dem in disguise and complicit in the socialist plot to ruin America. Well, the ads were successful.

In the House support to defund grew from forty or so to a majority passing the Continuing Resolution. Then the Republican bloodbath started. John McCain called the idea irrational. The WSJ compared the move to charging into bayonets. Ben Stein Not on board. Charles Krauthammer? Not on board. Karl Rove? Forget it. Multiple conservative voices are raised as voices of reason. This argument has propelled us into a societal and political Twilight Zone. They recognize a coming disaster when they see it. Some, like Peter King say correctly, nothing can be done about ACA  without the GOP having The House. Senate and White House.

So this is only a cynical plan for the far right to raise their profiles and funding. Basically they are commuting fraud on the true believers. Bait and switch. We can defund "Obamacare" if we stand together. We are the true majority, elections be damned. We need money to get the message out to these RINO's who will sell us out. They raise expectations then blame the "others" for the failure. So we'll need more money to oust these traitors. The House is too liberal. Even Fox News has been co-opted by the left.

This is not about the Affordable Care Act except as a hot button issue. This isn't about legitimate political differences. This about Ted Cruz. HE is willing to burn down Washington to achieve his goals. HE want's to be seen as a lonely, principled defender of America. He wants the Tea Party to see him as a hero. He wants them to remember him as the 2016 Primaries heat up. He wants the right to go to the mat and nominate him.. 

Cruz wants to prove a far right wing opportunist can win the nomination and the Presidency. He wants to validate that the Republicans have lost the White House because the candidate wasn't conservative enough. He is playing to the delusions of his base. He is throwing the party under the bus. I am afraid of what issues this man will take his all or nothing stand against in the next couple years in his quest. 

The only question is will the GOP let it happen. Can they marginalize the demon they've loosed? Will they even try or due to primary challenge fears will they all buy into this mass delusion?

Monday, September 23, 2013

Descent into madness. Ted Cruz, The Republicans and the ACA

               I believe Albert Einstein, a smart guy, once stated the definition of insanity as doing the same thing over and over and over and expecting a different result. The House of Representatives voted 41 times to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Each time they knew it would not pass the Senate. Or if by a miracle it did it would be vetoed before the ink on the bill dried. In spite of that they held 41 votes to repeal. Did they actually expect a different result or was it cynical political theater or a combination of both? And dies it really make a difference?

Along comes the junior Senator from Texas, Ted Cruz. By all reports, this is a smart guy. It does appear though he may suffer from the smart guy syndrome. "I'm the smartest guy in the room. I am sure I know better how a couple hundred year old institution should be run. It doesn't matter I've only been here less than a year but trust me. I know what we should do and how to do it. You experienced politicians take is wrong. I am right."

Since he is a smart guy he knows what buttons to push to inflame the Tea Party into a frenzy. OBAMACARE!! DEFUND!! Let's hold the country hostage. Trust me, the Dems will blink and defund the President's signature accomplishment. No problem. And is it a bad thing to shut down the Government? Naw. After a summer of beating this drum the Crazy Caucus of the House signed on. The fact that the Heritage Foundation is running ads, holding rallies in favor of defunding the ACA at all costs helped. Carrot and stick. Sarah Palin and other groups weighed in implying primary challenges on no votes. The prospect of an actual campaign scares incumbents to death.

Now hard as it is to believe there are still some political realists in the GOP. You know things are weird when Karl Rove is a voice of reason. There are conservative Republicans in the Senate who realize extortion is not a good move.Some actually remember what happened in '95. The GOP shut down the Government. They suffered major losses in the House, though still maintained a majority, and an embattled Democratic President was resoundingly reelected. Oops.

Now Ted Cruz is toying with a Presidential bid in 2016. Were I a cynic, I would think he is simply building a mailing list and raising cash for political groups that buy his rhetoric. I'm pretty sure he wants these groups on board should he tilt at windmills in a POTUS bid.

This Quixotic fight has exposed divisions in the Republican Party. It seems the Establishment has been turned on by their creation. When you embolden zealots and put them in positions of power you invite disaster. By their nature true believers are hard to control. Once you aim them at a target they go all tunnel vision and will not stop until their goals are reached. If they have to burn down the House to stop something they vehemently oppose, they'll turn a flame thrower on a fuel tanker to accomplish their objective. And then block the firetrucks.

Things are hostile between the factions we are seeing the acrimony leak out into the public arena. Senator Cruz has called the Senate GOP Caucus,"The Surrender Caucus" which will only endear him to them.  You have Senator John McCain saying this defund/shutdown plan isn't rational. Karl Rove said Cruz launched this strategy without telling the party. They only find out his plans when he goes public. Senator after Senator has called Cruz's plan ill advised which is the nice way to say bat shit crazy.

Former Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH) has gone after Cruz and his cohorts. "The political babble of a few has become has become the mainstream of Republican political thought." He goes on to say they're playing Russian Roulette with a fully loaded revolver. Also you never take a hostage you can't shoot. Which it seems they have, Senator Gregg.

Senator Rand Paul has backed off recently after being gung-ho on the extortion plan. He says he supports it but it won't succeed. Last week Cruz said the same thing as he also told the House to stand firm. This set off a fire storm in the House as Members said, rightly so, Cruz was hanging them out to dry. That got the Senator from Texas's attention. He vowed a filibuster to delay action by the Senate. He is also calling for the Majority Leader to suspend rules to make it easier to delay action. That'll happen. So what he wants to do is filibusterer a Republican bill to prevent a Republican bill from being considered. The Surrender Caucus recognizes this is absurdity. There may not be the support there Senator Cruz is counting on.

For when the CR gets stripped of the defund language and is sent back to the House Cruz announced Plan B.  The House should pass small spending resolutions and attach ACA defunding to them one at a time. Starting with military spending. He wants to have this done over and over till the Senate caves and force a veto. So, Senator Cruz wants the House to hold the military hostage while we have troops in harm's way. Because it's the patriotic thing to do. Now, should they decline to participate in this scenario I expect to see a lot of Primary battles. The Heritage Foundation, Freedom works, Sarah Palin and others will use a sane vote as a cudgel to gin up the rabid base in an attempt to push the Party even further right. Purity tests will be the norm.

This civil war is being played down in public. Mostly. Chris Wallace received opposition research from Republicans to, wait for it, hammer Ted Cruz. So, I am stocking up on popcorn and sitting back. This is going to get interesting.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Cut the break-lines! Hit the gas!! There's a cliff ahead! GOP policy?

This is written early morning on the day the Continuing Resolution comes up for a vote in the House Of Representatives.

On Thursday the House voted to cut SNAP by 40 billion dollars over 10 years. The House ignored a veto threat from President Obama. Surprising no one the arguments were this is a burden on working middle class families A polite way to say those on SNAP are lazy and picking your pocket?. If the tax code didn't coddle the wealthiest the burden wouldn't be as great. Had the House not obstructed the recovery there would be less need for SNAP. Compassionate Christians that they are the House decided cutting food aid is a political winner. That is why is was separated from the Farm Bill. That way SNAP can be gutted while maintaining the massive farm subsidies for corporate farms which are collected by many House Members. It is good they take so much vacation time as they do incredible harm during the limited time they are in session.

Since returning from recess the House has held two symbolic votes to repeal the ACA. This brings the total to 41.Today, Friday the 20th day of September they plan vote 42. They're ready to hit on 20. Any gambler that plays Blackjack will tell you that's a loser.

Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH-08), is between a rock and a hard place. As a politician he knows the chances of defunding or repealing the ACA. He has allowed more than forty meaningless votes to repeal to placate the reactionary, rabid right members of his Caucus. These votes let them go home and rail to the base they are stymied in repeal by the Socialist Senate and the Muslim Kenyan will veto it anyway. It's a fundraising tool and a way to ensure there will be no attack from the right come primary season

Egged on by a few Senators who are positioning themselves for a Presidential bid in 2016 more than 80 House Members demanded that a vote on the Continuing Resolution have a provision to defund the ACA. The leadership in the House and inside the beltway knew this is a loser. The idea the Democratic Senate and a Democratic President would sign on to this is, to say it kindly, fucking crazy.

The Democrats in the Senate have the votes to strip the defunding language, pass the CR and send it back to the House.At the moment Boehner and Cantor seem to have no plan B. The Caucus sees plan B as a shut down of the Federal Government. Always a good move.

So, why now?

On October first, enrollment in the State Insurance Exchanges starts. Much of the law kicks in in 2014. This is seen as the last chance to stop it. The right realizes time is running out. Under time constraints and pressure bad decisions are routinely made. The decisions are even worse when they are ideologically driven. You are willing to do anything when God is on your side.

The political pressure being brought from the reactionary right is intense. The most far right leaning groups are being vocal. During the recess these groups ran ads on Republican Districts as a reminder of possible consequences. We've seen Sarah Palin weigh in and imply there would be Primary Challenges on those who vote no on defunding.

These groups include The Club For Growth, Heritage Action the action arm of the Heritage Foundation and FreedomWorks to name a few. Heritage Action held rallies in several cities across America in an attempt to gin up the base. The assorted groups are pouring money into ads and outreach to whip the fringe into a frenzy. The ire is directed at Republicans who aren't vocal about wanting to be a lemming.

These groups and the Rabid Right Members of the House see the previous votes as what they are, A sham. The push now is to do anything to stop the implementation of the ACA. Since many see the Government as the problem shutting it down is actually a good thing to them.The action is directed at those who fail the purity tests. Those who have caved to keep the Nation working. Some see any cooperation as heresy. So any GOP member that exhibits any political sanity will be metaphorically burned at the stake.

They do realize the future of the Republican Party is at stake. The far right see this as an opportunity. A chance to purge the Party of non believers. They see this as the last best chance to reshape the GOP into the reactionary force they actually believe America craves. This is their Fort Sumter against the Establishment GOP who they view as sell outs and no better than the Democrats.

Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Minority leader of the Senate, is facing a Primary challenge from the right. He is taking flack from The Heritage Foundation and others for not coming out for defunding.

Senator Ted Cruz(R-TX) mentioned there weren't the votes in the Senate to defund. He did this after months of declaring this as a goal and a glorious last stand for freedom. He called on the House to stand firm.  He was immediately slammed by House Members as surrendering without a fight. The House doe not want to go all Kamikaze all alone. They want the Senate GOP to crash and burn also.

Many of these people see the shutdown in '95 as a moral victory. Usual Right Wing revisionism as far as history is concerned. The truth is there were huge losses in the House in '96. A Democratic President was convincingly reelected. Speaker Gingrich was replaced in a Palace Coup. Yeah, it all worked out so very well.

You know there is division and things are bad when Karl Rove is a voice of reason. He and others are saying this is a massive mistake. They say the best thing to do is take the Senate then repeal. In the poisonous atmosphere on the Hill these pleas for reason are falling on deaf ears.

The very policy of extortion as political strategy has led them here to the abyss. The previous impasses resulted in limited compromise. This disappointed the the far right who were willing to disobey a Constitutional mandate to protect the full faith and credit of The United States.  They have decided no more compromise of any kind. They will burn down the country to get there way.

The most likely scenario is when the CR with the defunding  passes the House today the Senate will face a filibuster. That will cause a minor delay until the more sane GOP Senators jump ship and vote for cloture. The defunding language will be stripped and the resolution will be sent back to the House. Boehner and Cantor will have a choice. Shut the Government down until the voters storm the chamber with torches, pitchforks, tat and feathers. Or, more likely, pass it using a coalition of still sane Republicans and Democrats.

I am sure Boehner also knows he will face a mutiny that will likely cost him his position as Speaker. To avoid this he may try damage control by doing it over with the Spending Limit. That too is doomed to failure.

In the coming days we will see who the real patriots are. Claiming yourself as one as you work to attempt to stage a coup isn't the way. Good people will stand up and get us past this extortion. Only to do it again. Perhaps next time with one of the inmates running the asylum.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

American Exceptionalism. How the Right is destroying it.

              Our numbering system uses Arabic Numerals. Algebra is an Arabic word, as is algorithm. 2/3 of the named stars have Arabic names. Why?

From 800 C.E. til around 1100 C.E. the Islamic Caliphate was centered in the great city of Baghdad. This city was the crossroads of civilization after the collapse of the classical Roman Empire and the decline of the Eastern Empire. It brought together China, Persia, North Africa and Europe in an intellectual stew.

The collapse of Rome left Europe in disarray. With the lack of traditional nation states far too much power was ceded to the Church. They controlled education. The tomes that were salvaged from Rome were transcribed by monks. In Europe the Catholic Church was the gatekeeper of education and existent knowledge for all practical purposes.

With their dogmatic views the conditions in Europe were not conducive to unfettered research.The major advancements in Europe were related to the construction of Cathedrals and other religious edifices. Architecture, engineering and related mathematics.

Baghdad however saw the mixing of ideas and cultures. The classical knowledge and ideas from the Greco-Roman era. Ideas and knowledge from India and China. Muslims, Jews and Christians mingled freely exchanging insights.

The result was an explosion of scientific knowledge and preservation of the earlier scientific gains threatened by the collapse of Rome.

Astronomy flourished hence the Arabic star names. Mathematics was expanded. Algebra and the adoption of the Arabic numerals.Those replaced the use of the cumbersome Roman numerals eventually in the West. The use of zero as a mathematical concept was refined.

Books from all over the world were translated into Arabic. Knowledge was saved, shared and preserved for the future.

Science, arts and literature flourished for around three hundred years then stopped.


The rise of Islamic fundamental thought where knowledge was seen as the work of evil put an end to the intellectual dominance of the Caliphate. It showed scientific thought and discovery can not exist in an atmosphere of fundamental rejection of human knowledge as evil and ungodly. This fundamentalism effectively killed progress and innovation in the Arab world. A thousand years later it still hasn't recovered. Who knows what advancements were sacrificed on the alter of a point of view that sees everything in religious terms.

Now we hear a lot about American Exceptionalism from conservatives. The irony is they may be killing what they are extolling.

American exceptionalism isn't a myth. The explosive emergence of The United States onto the world stage was fostered and fueled by intellectual freedom. A refusal to take "I can't understand this" as a limit to progress. Americans have always sought answers.

Freed from religious hegemony and the resulting intellectual shackles by the Enlightenment, America was born. The men who founded this great nation were steeped in the intellectual, philosophical and scientific revolutionary thought of their time. Secular Humanism was replacing Dogmatic Religion as the driving force in human advancement.

When faced by a problem in science answers were sought and the default position of "Known only to God" was rejected and a solution was found.

Americans took European ideas and made them distinctly ours. From the founding of this nation Americans rose to the front of the wave of modern science. We blazed the paths that severed our bonds to the Earth as we learned to fly. We took the British Industrial Revolution and showed the world what it could be.

Americans in the 19th and 20th Centuries took scientific advancement in stride seeing it as a birthright.
Science and technology made the United States the Arsenal Of Democracy during the Second World War. It enabled the defeat of the Nazis and the Japanese Empire in years rather than decades.

The American dominance in science is seen in the Nobel prizes accumulated. There are a lot of elements that have uniquely American names. We opened up the Solar System. Americans expanded the size and scope of the Universe. We've explored the building blocks of reality. Only Americans have walked on another celestial body.

Science gave us hope for the future. History taught us about our past. Intellectual freedom made us what we are today. Both disciplines were seen to be neutral as fact based education should be.
So why do modern conservatives feel that science and history is a la carte? Pick and choose what's true. One from column A and one from column B?

The only reason I can see that makes any sense is the unholy marriage between social conservatives and what once was fringe Evangelical churches. There has been a disturbing growth in the literalist, Fundamentalist, Evangelical Christian worldview.

Due to opportunistic political decisions made in the 70's, 80's and 90's the Christian Right and the willfully ignorant have gained positions of power. They control school boards. They are in State Legislatures and Congress. Think Tanks are pushing anti-science and history agendas. PAC's, Churches and other organizations back up these policies with money. There are people seen as so-called experts extolling these views in the media as rational positions. They are aided by cynical outlets promoting a reactionary agenda.
I realize many hold these positions as a matter of true belief. Zealots are extremely resistant to differing points of view. Many reject it as blasphemy.

Others hold these views as a bedrock political position and compromise is seen as weakness.
Many though have adopted these beliefs as simple political expediency. Simply taking money and support to hold power.

Combined, these movements are deadly to America's future.
Most of a persons core beliefs are formed in childhood. This is how America's future is threatened.
Since our manufacturing base has been decimated by shortsighted corporate and Government policies our economic future rests on technological advances and innovation. This is not possible without a scientifically literate population. Policies that are being adopted preclude that future.


It's a cascading effect. When a cornerstone of scientific thought is denied, other scientific truths must also be denied.

The two most reviled scientific principles are Climate Change and evolution.

Evolution. Where to start?

Intelligent design is being touted as a legitimate scientific alternative. This is simply creationism dressed up in a gown and mortarboard to avoid church/state issues.

First off, Intelligent Design does not hold up to the basic scientific process.

The rap against evolution is it's "only" a theory. Well, so is gravity and I don't see them jumping off tall buildings to test it. The basic premise of Intelligent Design is not measurable in a lab or the field like the well
tested theory of Evolution.

Evolution is the bedrock of modern biology and medicine. You want to see evolution? Antibiotic resistant bacteria.

Intelligent Design does not explain our sharing a majority of our genome with the great apes. It also doesn't explain shared genes with lifeforms that aren't mammals.As a scientific position Intelligent Design is a nice fairy tale.

There is a school of thought in Creationism that because something wasn't witnessed it didn't happen. This applies to evolution and the creation of the Universe. That is as ludicrous as it sounds.

Creationism also has spawned the "Young Earth" movement. This embraces the idea Earth and the Universe is only 6,000 years old. This rejects multiple sciences.

Astronomy has determined the age of the universe by measuring the Doppler shift in light from distant objects.This is applied physics. This is explained by young earthers like this. We know the speed of light here. Since we haven't visited other stars to measure we don't know the speed of light for that star. Thus, it invalidates the idea the Universe is around 15 billion years old. A variation on if you did not witness it it didn't happen.

Geology is rejected along the same lines when pegging the Earth's age as 4.5 billion years old. We can't know for sure decay rates have always been constant.
Since we didn't witness how fossils are made we can't know their age. Thus Adam rode a Dinosaur like Alley Oop.

So, basically all science and history is rejected if it contradicts the idea that anything is more than six thousand years old. The Bible as text book.

If all this accumulated scientific knowledge is flawed the technology the world runs on couldn't exist.
As this view spreads into our educational system America will slide into irrelevancy. Discovery and innovation will move to more enlightened environments. As will the intellectually curious.Say good bye to a proud tradition of discovery.

The right is so worried about creeping Sharia Law(which doesn't exist) they are blind to their own imposition of religious law here. One is reviled. One is revered.

Without innovation we are doomed as a civilized nation. Teaching Creationism is tantamount to intellectual child abuse.

We are about to recreate the fall of the Caliphate into superstition and divine law.

To survive we must reclaim American thought from extremists that wish to enforce Bronze Age views as all that's needed. There are those in power who call science lies from the pits of Hell. We need to reestablish the founders faith in rationalism or just hand off our future to whomever will take it.

If we fail, this great experiment is a failure.

We can't allow that.

The future is now. We need to save it.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Let's base 21st Century Education on a Roman Era Text.That'll work.

               Some days I feel so old before my time.

When I went to school science was celebrated. We had put humans on the Moon. Vaccines were on the way to making deadly diseases a thing of the past.Our understanding of the Universe and our place in it was expanding. New ideas were becoming reality. Computer science was evolving. We were learning our origins. Amazing discoveries and inventions were everywhere.

Science was respected. Research was funded. Actual science was taught in schools. We led the world in education. We led the world in scientific innovation.

History was history. It was taught. The teachers used the current research. They felt no pressure to make things up to serve a political and religious agenda.

Teachers were respected and not branded as union thugs bent on indoctrination.

That was then. This is now.

Ohio. Again.

Since 2010 the reactionary Republicans who seized power in Ohio have been busy.Union busting, voter suppression, charter schools and abortion. With the cascading crazy it is easy to miss something. I was appalled earlier when I discovered Ohio passed a law requiring the teaching of the "Original Founding Documents". Here we go.

The law requires the teaching of the original texts of The Declaration Of Independence, The Northwest Ordinance, The US and State Constitutions.

This legislation will highlight those documents of freedom and enumerated rights so that the next generation can carry the torch of liberty that these documents represent." This was from Chris Long, the head of the Ohio Christian Coalition.

Part of the law requires supplemental readings to place the documents in their historical context. If this material is actually written by accredited, mainstream historians, they may not like the results.

The context is the Enlightenment and the rise of rationalism. The rise of secular humanism. The rejection of religion as basis for law and as a test to hold office. The prohibition of the establishment of a State Religion.
I am going to try to find some of these readings. There is no way to factually ignore these influences on the well educated men who founded this nation.

The Ohio Christian Coalition I feel sees this as a chance to push the myth America was founded as a "Christian" nation, otherwise they would not be on board with praise.
State Representative John Adams (R-Sidney) said of the law, "If the founding fathers documents would be adhered to and taught. we wouldn't be in the particular situation we're in at the Federal level with the expansion of government."

That, to me, sounds like the desire to teach history in a way that conforms to a rigid ideological view not supported by current accepted norms. It appears, that like in medicine, election to the Ohio Legislature makes you a prominent scholar. Thus you may over ride scholarship with indoctrination and a political agenda.

Many saw this as a back door to teaching Christian revisionist history.
So the Springboro Ohio School Board decided to offer a continuing education course devised by David Barton. A person with no history credentials and the author of a book on Jefferson pulled due to massive errors.

The course was to be taught by volunteers and promoted Barton's unfounded views of America as a Christian theocracy. Following outcry it was canceled. This of course raised the hackles of the reactionary right in Southwestern Ohio a bastion of right wing crazy.

Springboro also tried to add creationism to it's science teaching. That too was shelved following outcry. The school board is again looking at it.

Simply put we can not survive as a nation if we permit teaching to be pushed into presenting ignorant beliefs to be taught as fact. Knowledge is not ala carte. Facts are facts and it doesn't matter that you disagree.
If we are to compete in this world we can't allow science be defined by religious zealots who don't believe in it. The purpose of history is to teach us who we are and why we are.

Ohio wants to out crazy Texas. We are getting there.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Why is it always Texas. And Ohio. GOP on parade.

                    Just when it seems to stop, the Republican party uncorks a whole new vintage of crazy. Some of us on the left want to simplify things by making it a regional issue. It seems to be the easy way out. Thus we in the old Union States can maintain our illusion of moral superiority.Sorry but we drooped that baton a long time ago. The problems with the crazy is not regional, it's not the Old Confederacy(Though they have their moments), it's a GOP in control issue.
States that were once moderate have been seized by the reactionary right. You see them gutting the social services and cutting taxes for the wealthy and corporations. Going after unions. Religion is being pushed into education curriculum.  History is being distorted to popularize the notion the United States was founded as a Christian Theocracy.
Then there's abortion. Women are being systematically stripped of their rights and access to health care and the decisions are being made for them. Conservative Christian beliefs disguised as concern for safety.
Then there's the idea if you can't win an election with ideas in the public arena you better keep those who reject your policies from voting. American Democratic ideals on display. I would guess we have abdicated all rights to bitch about any other Nation's electoral process.
So let's look in this basket full of crazy.
Texas. Senator Ted Cruz. Again. Why is it always Texas?
This latest chapter in the Ted Cruz run for the Presidency playbook was opened in a speech at The Heritage Foundation. Those two words warn us the reasonable quotient will be questionable. It was at the Jesse Helms lecture Series. My question is why does that even exist? And why would would any person spend actual money to attend?
Senator Cruz tells us that he made his first political donation to Jesse Helms at the age of ten. Ten dollars.
Now I love politics and have for a long time but at ten I would have used that money to buy comic books, scifi paperbacks and pulps. Even at ten i doubt Jesse Helms would have appealed to me. And that's when I was really young and stupid.
A refresher on who old Jesse was.
He was the longest serving Senator from North Carolina. He was an avowed segregationist. He opposed abortion. Jesse tried to stop Federal funded AIDS research since he said every case of AIDS starts with sodomy and was God's punishment on Homosexuals.Needless to say Jesse opposed Gay rights.
Helms repeatedly introduced a Constitutional Amendment to ban abortion. He introduced bills conferring human rights at conception. He can be called the father of the person hood movement. He tried to reinstate school prayer.
Helms filibustered the renewal of the Voting Rights Act and aligned with Strom Thurmond in opposing civil rights legislation. He also supported South Africa's embrace of apartheid.
Looking back at Senator Helms career you see positions that were extreme in the 70's and 80's. He was simply ahead of his time. Those positions are spouted by the reactionary right all the time now and no one blinks an eye. He was the last gasp of the blatant racist Southern Senator. They are less overt now.
At the Jesse Helms lecture Series Senator Cruz extolled the virtues of Ole Jesse.
He said we need a hundred Senator Helms in the Senate.
As an ardent admirer Senator Cruz is pulling pages from Helms' racist playbook.
Like Helms, Cruz despises gays. He says Gay marriage will silence Christians and expose them to being charged with hate crimes for expressing their views.
Like Jesse, Ted wants to cut SNAP and ban abortion.
Like Jesse, Ted is vocal about Republicans who disagree with him calling them members of "The Surrender Caucus".
Ted may be smoother but he holds Jesse Helms and his reactionary, racist views close. I don't think Ted realizes that as a Cuban he would not make it through Jesse's front door.
A question. Canada, what did we do to piss you off enough to give us Cruz? While I'm at it, the same query to Australia, re: Rupert Murdoch.
Now, my home State of Ohio.
Toni Morrison, an award winning author and Ohio Native found the head of The State Board Of Education wanting to ban one of her novels. Because it's pornographic
"The Bluest Eye", set in Loraine, Ohio is on the Common Core 11th Grade reading list. Why does Debe Terhar call this novel porno? It contains a rape scene. She doesn't want her grandchildren or anyone's to read it. I am not a fan of book banning. For any reason.  I was opposed to some on the Left wanting to ban Twain for his racial language. That ignores he was very progressive for his time and upbringing. It ignores all historical context that makes his work such a wonder. It ignored his prose being among the best in the English language. There is never a reason to ban literature. Period.
Ms. Terhar, a hand picked appointee of Governor Kasich, also put up a post on Facebook comparing President Obama to Adolph Hitler after Sandy Hook. The reason? The tyranny of reasonable firearms regulation. Way to stay classy.
Ohio. Again.
JobsOhio, a public/private mutant that recommends tax breaks for business is sending a company HQ to Kentucky. Why? They sell romantic enhancements to women. So this is not a proper company for Ohio to support. But companies distributing Viagra and penis pumps are OK.
The City of Cincinnati, which once prohibited the sale of Playboy, Penthouse and Hustler, is pissed. See this company wants to relocate their Headquarters from the suburbs to Downtown Cincy. So the Kasich Administration, while touting their conservative credentials are taking flack from the most conservative city in Ohio. Over sex toys for women. Oops.
Missouri had their nullification of Federal gun laws vetoed. So much for nullification. That worked out so well in the 1860's. It would have put Federal officials at risk of arrest for enforcement of Federal Firearms laws. Had this stood, Missouri would have done a de facto secession. I'm pretty sure we settled this absurdity with the loss of 6000,000 lives during the Civil War. The GOP again rejects the Supremacy Clause in the Constitution. We can expect this to pop up again in Missouri and other States under the sway of the wacko right.
So, let's keep this insanity in mind when it's time to vote.
If you don't vote, don't bitch.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Submitted For Your Approval: GOP in the Twilight Zone?

Rod Serling showed us what it is that that you only see out the corner of your eye.He showed us bleak and terrifying futures. He shined a light on the darkness in the heart of mankind. Were I not sure I would think he was showing us a most terrifying tomorrow. The Republican Party.
Buckle up. We're going to wander around in the Republican reality. I know it's scary.

Texas. Again.
In the Lone Star State there has been a spate of women being cavity searched on the side of the road after traffic stops. In most civilized States these searches are done at a Police station or a jail, not on the side of the road, in front of God and everyone. The Texas Department of Public Services and the Legislature has not seen fit to deal with this. It's only women, after all. Had they been home where they belonged this wouldn't have happened.

Oh, Michelle, Michelle, Michelle. What will we do when you're not in Congress any more?
As usual Rep. Michelle Bachman(R-MN) feels there isn't enough Jesus in our foreign policy. She is standing with the Egyptian military lauding the crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood. She manages to call them terrorists. She conflates them with Al Qaeda and 9/11. Now I wonder if she's going to go all Tail-gunner Joe McCarthy again and demand a search of Federal Agencies for the Muslim Brotherhood deep infiltration?
She is also sure if the Republicans come to Jesus and pray hard enough a righteous God will smite Hillary's 2016 Presidential aspirations. She is the gift that keeps on giving.

Rep. Louis Gohmert (R-TX). OK. That is usually enough for a head desk or face palm. What's he up to this time?
Well, even as a Measles outbreak sweeps an area of Texas just outside of FT.Worth and his district he had a chat with Allen West about vaccines. They both seem to agree that vaccines are a liberal plot to thin the herd of undesirables. Usually one would think those two would be on board with ridding us of undesirables. Well, they are sure people like them are the target. If only we could get them out of the gene pool. The problem is vaccinations tend to save lives. Oops. By the way, that Measles outbreak? It's among the flock of an Evangelical church the feels that prayer is better than vaccinations.
Gohmert also has compared the Egyptian military leaders to the founders of the United States because they went after that pesky Muslim Brotherhood.

Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX). Dear God, why is it always Texas? He feels if there is an American strike on Syria we will be acting as Al Qaeda's Air Force. The Syrian debate is distracting us from serious threats like Benghazi. Also, since Senator Cruz is such a staunch defender of the United Nations, he feels The President needs to take the Syrian issue back to the Security Council. Really, Ted? Careful. You're sounding like a Canadian.

Ohio. Again. Ohio is still trying to out crazy Texas and doing a bang up job.
In July Ohio slipped extremist abortion regulations into the State Budget as an end run around the citizenry's ability to oppose the regs as a Ballot measure. Governor John Kasich (R-OH) in a move to bolster his anti abortion street cred prior to a Presidential run in '16, declined to use the line item veto on these reprehensible regulations. He waived his pro life banner proudly and let them stand. He also dodges taking a stand on The Heartbeat Bill which is too extreme even for Ohio Right To Life. That bill has an excellent chance of passing in Ohio's Taliban Legislature.
The Ohio State Medical Board licenses and disciplines medical providers in the State. You would think appointments to the board would be rather straightforward. Appoint qualified medical professionals with no political ax to grind, right? Not in Ohio.
Kasich is loading the board with anti abortion advocates. That is more important than overseeing Ohio's medical environment.
The Governor has appointed to one of the consumer seats the head of Ohio Right To Life. To another of the consumer slots he appointed a former board member of Ohio Right To Life. These two will stay right on top of those budget regulations .
He also appointed a surgeon who is concerned that genetic counselors will advocate and perhaps trick Ohioan's into having an abortion. As a physician he seems to have no grasp that medical ethics require a Doctor to provide patients with factual information to make reasonable informed choices. Ohio is no longer a good place to be a woman.

A simple sampling. The modern Republican seems to be living in some alternate universe where facts, science and rational thought is non existent. Or a sin.
There are mid terms coming. We need to take back our country from theses theocratic, repressive people and restore rationality to the political process.
Get mad.
Get loud.
Confront the lies.
Got it?

Monday, September 9, 2013

The Naked City. A Noir TV gem.

          With the switch from analog to digital Television, Stations wound up with sub channels.For example the NBC affiliate here in Columbus, Ohio is channel 4.After the switch there is channel 4.1, the primary that broadcasts the NBC lineup. There is also channel 4.2. The PBS affiliate WOSU has three channels of programming. With these new outlets, programming had to be found.
For these sub channels new networks sprang up. ME TV, Antennae TV and THIS are the three here in Central Ohio. ME TV and Antennae TV show sitcoms and dramas from the 50's through the 80's. Most cable systems stick these up in the high channels on the box, if they even carry them.
I may be mature but I don't remember a lot of 50's TV. Superman and the Mickey Mouse Club, of course. Howdy Doody and Captain Kangaroo.Most of the so-called "Golden Age Of Television" aired after I went to bed.
Some were early enough or I got to see them somehow are etched in my memory. "The Honeymooners". "The Twilight Zone". "Perry Mason". "Peter Gunn" with that amazing Mancini theme and Noir sensibilities."The Phil Silvers Show".And of course "I Love Lucy". So if I can really remember only a few well, what better than these?
Since I don't have cable I have rediscovered shows I vaguely remember or those my family didn't watch.
"Perry Mason" in the early seasons had an intriguing pulp feel. I have found the vaunted "Untouchables" OK. "Combat" with the late Vic Morrow had it's moments. For some reason WWII France looks a lot like Southern California. "Wanted Dead Or Alive" is a gritty, formulaic little western with a very young Steve McQueen.
A show I had heard of but had never seen airs in ME TV's Sunday late night Noir block. "The Naked City". The show's ending tag line was "There are eight million stories in the Naked City. This has been one of them."
This police drama was unusual for being filmed on location instead of a studio back lot. It was also filmed in New York City which became a dominate character, setting the mood and feel.
Looking at these old shows I am struck by the quality of writing and acting. Those are traits that are sorely lacking on a lot of today's offerings. I would much rather watch Jackie Gleason in his prime than say, "Two Broke Girls" which is inexplicably a hit.
In "The Naked City" they used a semi anthology format that highlighted the stories of the guest stars, rather than the regulars. The writing was taut. The black and white cinematography had a gritty feel and was superb by late 50', early 60's standards. Though I owned some of the cars seen there I had forgotten just how big they were. The era of big Detroit Steel. You could impale yourself on the fin of a Sixty Chevy.
The show premiered in 1958 starring a young James Franciscus. He was replaced in 1960 by Paul Burke who played a sensitive, cerebral cop, an anomaly in that era.
Since it was filmed in NYC they used New York actors, many who later become stars. For a lot of them this was their first appearance in a TV drama. The talent exposed by this series is amazing and reads a lot like a who's who in American film.
A partial list.
Robert Duvall. Rip Torn. Telly Savalas (with hair). Jack Klugman. Peter Falk. Gene Hackman. Vic Morrow. Ed Asner. Cecily Tyson. James Caan,. James Coburn. Alan Alda. Robert Redford. Peter Fonda. Bruce Dern. Dennis Hopper. Tuesday Weld. Suzanne Pleshette. Jean Stapleton. Rod Steiger. Dustin Hoffman. William Shatner. Christopher Walken.  Simply amazing. It is wonderful to see the early work by these people.
"The Naked City" was respected enough to attract established actors also.
Again, a list.
George C. Scott. Lee J. Cobb. Walter Matthau. Kim Hunter. Eli Wallach. Jack Warden. Claude Rains. Mickey Rooney. Burgess Meredith. Keenan Wynn. In a rare film appearance Sanford Meisner the acting teacher was cast
Without strong scripts many of these established actors would not have come to New York to work in a TV show. I have found this show a delightful diversion. It is always a treat to see actors I respect in their early work. Sometimes you catch a glimpse of whom they will become.
As a Noir fan I am drawn in by the gritty look which is perfect for a police drama set in the Big Apple.
After watching "The Naked City" and other gems this may have truly been a golden era. Too bad many of the live drama anthologies didn't survive to be seen today. I'll enjoy what we have. Take a chance and look the old B & W shows over. You may have a bit of fun.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Neo-Isolationism and Syria.

            It has been a couple of years since The Arab Spring spread into Syria. Assad has been either more adept or brutal at holding on than either Qaddafi or Mubarak. President Obama, since the start of the uprisings has been rather consistent for an American politician. The reluctance to commit American military resources has drawn fire from both Dems and Republicans. However I feel his reluctance stems from a worldview that American military power should be used sparingly.
Some of the more moderate and hawkish Democrats have pushed The President to intervene in Syria. These Democrats find themselves surprisingly closer to the GOP Hawks than most in the party. I would credit this to a remnant of the Post Vietnam hangover.
Since the early Eighties many Dems have supported military actions, that in hindsight, may not have been prudent.. This has been a reaction to the massive loss sustained in '72 by Senator George McGovern and trying to show the Democratic party is not weak on defense. That is a tag they've been dealing with since they turned on LBJ over Vietnam and clashed with Nixon opposing  that tragic mistake of a war.
There are Republican members of Congress who have consistently criticized President Obama over Egypt, Libya and Syria. These Republicans have called for a more robust, intensive intervention in Syria. Things like covert and overt arming of selected rebel groups. They've called for an enforced no fly zone. Let's not think of the flack The P resident took over Libya and allowing NATO to take the lead.  They dislike it when we aren't in charge even though we were fulfilling treaty obligation like grown up countries do.
There seems to be, as a counterbalance, a growing isolationist movement both in Congress and the Nation itself.
On the public's part I would ascribe this to over a decade of constant military engagement. There is a bad taste left by the actions of the previous administration's run up to Iraq using ginned up lintel. That feeling is primarily in the Democratic and unaligned camps.
With the GOP voter it seems to be a strain of isolationism we last saw prior to Pearl Harbor and our involvement in WWII. The refusal of the United States to step up after the fall of the Colonial and Ottoman Empires following WWI left a power vacuum the Germans exploited. Republicans in Congress opposed  directly siding with the UK. This forced FDR to utilize sleight of hand to support the British and Soviet defensive actions against Nazi Germany.
This isolationism died when Japan struck Pearl Harbor.
After WWII the US took on the mantle of a super power to counter the other super power, Soviet Russia.
Over the next forty-five years we had our fingers in everything countering the Soviet and Chinese moves. Korea, Vietnam, Latin America and the Mideast. We propped up our Dictators to counter theirs. We stockpiled a massive nuclear arsenal to counter the ones held by the USSR and China.
We maintained a massive military presence in western Europe to discourage a Soviet invasion. We formed NATO and SEATO. We helped form The Organization Of American States. Containment was the goal and resulted in undeclared wars, sponsored coups and confrontation. This constantly kept us on the verge of a nuclear holocaust.. MAD, mutually assured destruction. We counted on fear of extinction to keep us safe.
The problem in this post cold war era isolationism is simply not an option. When your defense budget's larger than the next ten nations combined you are expected to act. For good or ill, despite all their protestations, western Europe looks to us for leadership. They pressure us into action then usually sit on their wallets and troops. Or make token shows of assistance.
As isolation calls grow we need to remember that if a power/leadership vacuum occurs it will be filled. Russia is resurgent after the chaos of the disintegration of the Soviet Union. They have the second largest nuclear arsenal on the planet. The Russians still have a massive inferiority complex that dates back centuries.
They have always pushed to be a power on the world stage. The Soviet era was rife with Russian machinations to counter or thwart American power and influence. The Cold War was a deadly dance of dominance. The western outlook and the Soviet outlook. The visions were very different. Following the collapse of the Soviet control of Eastern Europe the USSR imploded into anarchy and irrelevance.
Western Europe has only Germany to step up to possibly fill the vacuum. Since Germany was only a united nation for about Seventy years and started two world wars I would look upon a dominate Germany with suspicion.
When it comes to military capabilities and remaining influence only Russia and China have the means.
China is an enigma as they always have been. The Chinese foreign policy seems  predicated on economic influence and mainlining the status quo.
Like it or not during the twentieth century the United States has established itself as the world's enforcer.
The voices in Congress seem dissonant at times.
There are the Conservatives who have clamored for a very robust interventionist foreign policy. Now that The President they seem to despise has decided to act as if they are suddenly aghast at the idea of military action.
The libertarian leaning minority are saying we should't intervene because we can't be sure of the winners becoming allies and we know the Assad regime aren't. There is also the usual xenophobic rants the right is known for. The rebels don't protect Christians as Assad does. They are interjecting religion into American foreign policy. They are talking as if their ideas are reshaping the Republican Party. It is unlikely the Hawks have had a come to Jesus moment. It is far more likely the isolationist stance is being used as cover to attack President Obama politically.
From the Left I hear echoes of the anti Vietnam rhetoric.
This is a civil war we shouldn't intervene in. Any deaths in the action is unacceptable and morally wrong. We should not act because there is no clear and present danger to the US or our allies. War is always bad.
I made the same arguments when I was 18.
When you have these viewpoints coalescing in Committee hearings both side tend to over-analyze. The administration and Military representatives are grilled on every conceivable scenario. The constant what ifs are paralyzing. You can plan for contingencies but never account for all of them. Action entails risk.
The risk here is letting a risk averse Congress lecture on risk.
Far too many in the House are in gerrymandered safe districts at home. They can have an entire career and never take a substantive stand on anything. They rail at the world. They try to codify religious views. They do this knowing full well little of what they do can ever become law. They are now the dog who has caught the car.
Of course most of these Members of Congress hold their views as principle  and conscious. They have legitimate concerns they are trying to address. and there are those who are simply against supporting this President on any issue.
Now you also have people like me who have a strong aversion to military action. I have seen  unfounded wars and interventions. Grenada, Panama and Iraq come to mind, Then we have our stand against genocide in the Balkans. Our ignoring Darfur. Picking and choosing our interventions is a traditional American geopolitical action.
So now we are faced with a decision. Do we act on an ultimatum we put forth? Will not following through weaken our already limited ability to effect change? In the absence of solid global backing do we act unilaterally? Does a stand mean anything in a modern world where policy is driven by a 24/7 news cycle? Is there such a thing as negotiation anymore when every word, action and movement is analyzed for gain and loss?
My feeling is a limited strike is needed. Too long Assad has waged a war of attrition on his own people. Since Syria is allied with Iran it is in our strategic interest to at least get Assad's attention. Any reduction in his ability to wage chemical war is a plus. Arming the opposition is needed to put them on a viable footing to resist.
As the world's only remaining superpower we really have no choice but to act as we said we would. If we hope to influence anything we need to be a credible deterrent.That is why the partisan bickering in Congress could be disastrous. The Resolution passed by the Senate Committee is reasonable. Any filibusterer, as threatened by Rand Paul, does not serve the national interest. The time for Congress to act, actually do something, is here,
This screed may seem wandering, confused and conflicted . The reason is I am sorely conflicted but I realize things are never black and white. The answers always hide in those shades of gray.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Ohio: Right to work. Deja vu, all over again.

          Ohio. 1958. A right to work ballot measure was decided here.
Now, this was the Fifties, the heyday of Union power in America. Ohio was a manufacturing powerhouse. Right behind Michigan in auto production. The home of the tire and rubber industry. In Columbus Ohio you had North American Aviation, a major Defense Contractor employing about 16,000 people building military aircraft. My Father worked there. There was steel and about anything you could imagine.
The anti union Republicans felt they could get a ballot issue passed in a major State with a large unionized workforce. It seems a disconnect with reality is not a modern GOP phenomenon.
The ballot measure was crushed by a 63%-37% margin. Oooops.
The idea of right to work for less resurfaced occasionally over the following decades but gained zero traction.
Fast forward to 2010.
The Tea Party phenomenon and major rise of extremism in the Ohio GOP gave the State to the far right. They immediately pushed a regressive agenda targeting unions and women's reproductive rights.
The Ohio House passed a so called Heartbeat bill to effectively ban abortion after six weeks with no provisions for rape, incest or the health of the mother. It died in the State Senate. However they did pass a twenty week limit. This was done in a political circus which made Ohio a national laughingstock, again.
The House and Senate passed a union busting bill that stripped collective bargaining rights from Public Sector Unions. This was done during massive protests at the Statehouse. They were the largest I had seen there since the anti Vietnam war days. Since Law Enforcement unions were also targeted one did not see tear gas and clubs the State Police were so fond of using on anti-war protesters. Everyone knew the Private Sector was next.
The Republican majority was not completely in lock step on this bill. The Senate leader had to resort to political chicanery. A Republican Senator on the Committee, who had listened to all the testimony, was a No vote. To ensure it made it to the Floor, this Senator was removed and replaced, at the last minute with a sure yes vote.
Senate Bill 5 passed along party lines and was signed into law by Governor John Kasich.
Kasich, even before he signed the bill used it to fundraise, touting it as a victory for workers and taxpayers over unions killing city budgets.
Unions, Democrats and others opposed to the bill immediately moved to put a repeal referendum on the November 2012 ballot.
There was a fight by the GOP to break the repeal into three separate issues which they lost in a decision by Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted.
Nearly 1.3 million signatures were submitted, a record in Ohio.
In August of 2011 the Governor tried to start negotiations with We Are Ohio, the ballot measure sponsor to rework SB5 and pull the repeal attempt. The response from opponents was a heartfelt no. They reminded the Governor and Legislature the time for discussion was before the bill was passed and signed into law.It was pointed out opposing voices were run roughshod over during committee hrarings. The Governor and Legislature was told to repeal the bill and the ballot measure would be dropped. They refused while denying this was a move in response to very bad poll results.
Kasich stumped for Senate Bill 5. It was endorsed by Mitt Romney and Rick Perry, both 2012 GOP Presidential hopefuls. The attack on unions was also backed by Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin. It also received positive support in the Right Wing Blogosphere and on Fox News.
On Election Day in 2011 the repeal passed 61%-39% mirroring the right to work rejection in 1958.
Always one to learn their lessons, the Right To Work crowd announced, within days of Issue 2 going down in flames, they would attempt to get a Right To Work measure on the 2012 ballot. Didn't happen.
They keep trying, saying they will try for the 2014 ballot. So far the drive has been an abysmal failure.
Now, with a rabid extremist majority in both Ohio's Houses it is rearing it's head again.
The Legislators have been told to cease and desist by the Kasich Administration until after the Governor's reelection campaign. Kasich, after 2011 does not want to have this adding to his labor woes. He knows there is a push after Issue 2 and his repressive anti-abortion budget regulations to defeat him. Kasich is dealing with a threatened Tea Party revolt and does not want to hyper energize the opposition of sane Ohioans by picking another fight with labor. He is trying to project a reasonable image as he readies a 2016 run at the White House.
So the best way to stop this is to hammer Kasich at the polls in 2014.
It will stop right to work in it's tracks and badly hamper his Presidential ambitions.
Kasich, one and done for Ohio's future.
Get on board.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

THE GOP: So much crazy, so little time.

                With the debate over a strike on Syria heating up, we see our friends in the Republican Party, as usual, taking their responsibilities seriously. Fox News had former Field Marshall Von Rumsfeld on waxing eloquent after his brilliant managing of the invasion of Iraq and our welcome as liberators. His magnificent handling of the conflict makes his input on Syria invaluable.
Representative Joe Wilson(R-SC)usual reasoned, insightful questioning of Secretary of State John Kerry was a revelation.
Speaking of revelation, the eerie resemblance of current happenings to the "End Times" needs more exposure and deep, serious discussion since it is indisputable fact.
The actions of the Republican officeholders and supporters gives such hope to the rest of the world that we will behave as they have come to expect.

Former Sec Def Rumsfeld went on Fox and Friends to share his insights on how to run a successful military operation in the Mideast. The astute trio of hosts tossed softball questions to him to slam the President.
Donald Rumsfeld did praise Secretary of Defense Kerry for a forceful, passionate presentation to the Senate Committee. He then cited American support for the clear policies of the Bush Administration. He slammed President Obama for playing Golf not mentioning the guy that threw him under the bus spent most of his tenure as POTUS on vacation. He said the GOP version of Beetlejuice, Benghazi. He called the President weak and indecisive.
The blonde guy Steve Douchey noted that Senator Obama and Senator Biden opposed the Iraq war while The President is being supported by the GOP in Syria. Douchey's grasp of nuance never ceases to amaze me. The Spokes-model chimed in teeing up shots at the POTUS for Von Rumsfeld. Kilmeade added his usual inane questions and comments undercutting President Obama. All in all it was an average Fox News hatchet job masquerading as hard hitting journalism. It had the depth of a saucer of milk and was as classy as bringing a hooker to your Mother's funeral.

The Honorable Joe Wilson of South Carolina. Still a piece of work.
During the House Committee questioning he postulated the President was using Syria as a sequel to "Wag The Dog".  Wilson noted there was a gas attack in April. So, he wondered did the President wait till now to divert attention from the Administration's many scandals. Such as the NSA, IRS, the failure of Obamacare enforcement, the White House drafted sequestration and the upcoming Debt Limit debate. Kerry, rather than call Wilson a raving, meth snorting gas bag, answered the query about April and ignored the batshit crazy part. John Kerry, as always is a classy guy. Wilson, not so much.

For what seems like forever the Evangelical end of timers have drawn on the similarities to the Middle East today and 2000 year old prophecies concerning the war that triggers The Second Coming will be fought there. They have been preaching fire and brimstone sermons, raising mountains of cash, hammering this view home for decades. With the drumbeat for war with Iran pounding last year in the GOP Primaries it resurfaced with a vengeance again. Now with Syria, it is being treated by some in public life as viable historical and current insight concerning the region.
Not being a member of the faith based community, I prefer the reality based community,hus when someone mentions Isaiah:17 I gaze at them with a blank stare.
That's when I am told about "The Burden Of Damascus". To which I reply, huh?
It seems this is a prophecy penned a couple thousand years ago. So of course I must take it seriously since all the other prophecies have proved so accurate. So what is it and why would any sane person not hallucinating their ass off even care?
OK. A Middle Eastern war will leave Damascus, Syria's ancient capital city, destroyed. The result will be a move closer to the conflagration that will bring the Second Coming. Naturally this confluence of unrelated happenings have the Televangelists and the end of the world is yesterday fans buzzing. They may also be stocking up on canned goods and burning porn to DVD.
It seems the destruction of Damascus is a precursor to the very last war. The expected US action may be the match to set off said war.
There is an author named Joel Rosenberg who as written a series of books dealing with the end of the world as postulated by Revelations. Somehow they wound up on the NYT Best Seller List. Fine. At least it's sold as fiction so no one will mistake him for an expert on nukes or the Middle East or anything.
When he appeared on Fox, Rosenberg was introduced an expert on nuclear policy and a modern day Nostradamus. He has appeared on Rick Sanatorum's radio show. Rick also penned a blurb on one of Rosenberg's books. He has also met with Gov. Rick Perry and Rep. Louis Gohmert in Austin. Gohmert presented a copy of one of Rosenberg's books to the Israeli PM.
With a Congress full of Biblical literalists, this may cause issues as we try to find any kind of sensible solution to the Syria issue.
These guy are expecting Iran and Russia to team up to strike Israel. This will set up the final showdown at Megiddio and Armageddon.
It is reassuring their worldview is shaped by a Roman era text that has absolutely no relevance to today's pressing Geo-Political issues. However, our weapons are based on science, not magic, so will we get our asses handed to us when Obama the Anti-Christ leads his Gay/Lesbian/ Secular/ fornicating army into battle on the Megiddo plain.
What's next, I wonder.
Where's the popcorn and pass that peyote tea.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

GOP Domestic Policy: Brinksmanship, extortion and ignorance

                   Speaker Of The House John Boehner (R-OH) is in a quandary. His Caucus seems to be beyond his control. At times it resembles herding cats.
The Republican House Caucus has a plethora of avowed Tea Party aligned members and those pushed to the extreme right by fear of a primary challenge. Many are Freshman or on their second term having been elected in the weird frenzy of 2010. So, many are inexperienced in the way politics and governing actually works. They are also proud of that.
These Republicans came to office after vowing to burn down the House if necessary to undo the socialism and secularism that has in their view ruined America. Compromise, the lifeblood of American politics, is surrender. Everything seems to be a test of ideological purity.
Speaker Boehner, who stumbled into the position after Hastert left the House, seems uniquely ill suited to reign in these maverick members.
The apparent weakness may be that he has a Caucus that rejects politics as usual. Previous Speakers had a caucus that actually attempted to accomplish something. This has been the least effective Congress in history. The Speaker has said success should be measured by how much they repeal not what they pass. By that metric they are an abysmal failure.
Republican policy has been extreme to say the least. They annually pass a budget that has zero chance of clearing the Senate. They have, to date, passed a bill repealing The Affordable Care Act forty times. They have done this knowing it would not even hit the Senate floor and if by some miracle it passed the Senate would be vetoed in a heartbeat. This can only be simple political posturing. These votes are cited at home as proof of their conservative bonafides. The evil Washington Establishment is thwarting the will of the people.
The conservative movement seems to have devolved to the point any theory or conspiracy is treated as a serious issue. Statements that would have sent previous politicians home in ridiculed humiliation are now commonplace. It seems the more ignorant, xenophobic, sexist, racist and absurd the better. And this Speaker allows it.
Rep. Michele Bachman and others send a letter to assorted Federal Departments like the DOJ, Department Of State and Homeland Security, among others, demanding an investigation of deep infiltration by the Muslim Brotherhood. This was reminiscent of what Senator Joe McCarthy used to do. They did this with no repercussions from the Speaker. Used to be if a Member embarrassed the House or Party they could expect to be disciplined. Boehner seems loathe to exert any authority based on fear of repercussions. So, they all say anything they want no matter how ill conceived.
We are seeing what unbridled House Members will do or say. I admit at times I find it amusing anyone could be in a position of responsibility and say or even think some of these things. Then I remember these people are in power and cringe.
There are members of The House Science Committee that basically don't believe in science. One decried Evolution and the belief the Earth is over four billion years old, "Lies from the pits of Hell". Others feel climate change is a liberal conspiracy to get grant money and is scientific fascism.
They also are politicizing the peer review grant awarding process by wanting to make sure no money wasting grants are funded. One area they deemed worthless was Social Sciences.
They are ignoring how science actually works by putting a cost/benefit slant on research from the onset.  This is what happens when people who are hostile to science are put in charge of funding research. Had they been in power there would have been no funding for research into things like lasers, robotics, chip design, archeology, climate, biology and a myriad of other discoveries. Luddites on the Bridge of the Enterprise.
It seems ignorance is now considered a career path and is worn like a badge of honor. They are going after women's reproductive rights(denying basic biology as they do it) equal rights for LBGT, voting rights and the biggies. Social Security and Medicare. They are taking the entire social safety net along for the ride.
The goal seems to be who can make the deepest, most draconian cuts.
Unemployment compensation causes unemployment so cut it. After all it is just a paid vacation and all these lazy slackers are partying their asses off on that big money.
SNAP is used to buy drugs and high priced food poor working stiffs can't afford.
Women have more babies just to get more benifits and not work. So, let's cut off contraception. That'll do it. Poor women having babies and not working is one reason for the decline of America. Get a job.
Abortion is a direct challenge to the will of God. Make these women stay home and have babies. Women working and not being stay at home mothers is one reason for the decline of America.
Social Security is a ponzi scheme. It needs cut because we can't afford it.
Medicare creates dependency. Why should there be government run healthcare. That's socialism.
The list goes on and on. Now the big idea is defunding the ACA.
Speaker Boehner received a letter from eighty members of his caucus demanding no funding for it in the continuing budget resolution. Basically, shut down the Government to stop Obamacare. They are being egged on by presidential hopefuls and others in the Senate. Also conservative groups that donate lots of money to campaigns and Sarah Palin are chiming in. Expect any votes not to defund to be used as a reason for primary challenges. Again, any compromise is surrender.
The Speaker and other leaders in the not quite batshit crazy wing of the party see this as a mistake.This is one time the are right. The voices are strident though. The zealots see this as a last stand. They may mutiny and the Speaker will be helpless to deal with it without relying on Democratic House Members.
Boehner is trying to get them on board to forget this extremely bad idea. He is going with a promise of a whale of a battle over raising the debt limit to mollify them.
So, shutting down the government over the ACA is a bad idea in a chamber that has cast forty meaningless repeals of the law. It may be 50/50 he can pull that off.
However tanking the economy, crashing a fragile recovery, ruining the credit of the United States with a default is a wonderful idea.
Boehner is going back to the well again in his strategy to gut the social safety net and also cut programs the not rich benefit from. He feels that the House version of negotiation which is give us everything we want or we'll wreck the Nation is viable. President Obama has already said he will not negotiate to have the House do their Constitutionally mandated job. protect the full faith and credit of The United States Of America.
The Republicans feel however if push comes to shove the Dems will fold. Or, if they stand firm and we default America will blame the President for not giving in to blatant extortion. Somehow they have developed the view if they act like Tony Soprano they will be well liked and seen as heroes. They will take us to the brink and beyond to get their venal view of spending to happen.
The Caucus may take Boehner off the cliff over defunding the ACA and seem gleeful as they shred what's left in the Debt Limit fight. Seems reasonable to me.
Good luck with this plan, Mr. Speaker.
The Senate was devised as a more temperate counterbalance to the House. It's purpose is to slow things down. To basically tamp down a House led plunge off a cliff. Unfortunately this time several of the cliff divers are in the Senate.
Right now three possible GOP Presidential contenders are the ringleaders of a glorious last stand to stop the ACA by defunding it. The plan is defund ACA or shut down the Federal Government. There is enough support for this bit of extortion to give the Minority Leader Mitch McConnell
(R-KY) heartburn.
Mitch has a Tea Party challenger in the Primary. He also has a formidable Democratic opponent ready to go after him in the general election. McConnell is already catching heat for not being on board for a defund based hostage crisis. He's being painted by the rabid right as a sell out. Not a strong enough foe to the liberal, socialist, UN backed, secular attack on God and Country.
So, with an insurrection at home and a high profile possible mutiny in his caucus he is trying to walk a thin line between madness and absurdity.
Senator Ted Cruz(R-TX) has already called those not on board the Surrender Caucus. Conservative groups are cranking up the pressure to force this doomed gesture into being. The Republican Senators are looking at attacks by well funded groups that can make their political life dangerous.
Senators Cruz, Paul, Rubio and Lee are willing to grind America to a halt to throw their temper tantrum. They see this as the last chance to stop the law from going into effect. The opponents believe the President will sign legislation crushing a major accomplishment before it takes effect. These Senators are quite comfortable with extortion.
With the arcane rules of the Senate they may be able to delay action well past the deadline. They are pushing the extreme members of the House to sign on and defund or shut down the Federal Government.  Patriots all.
This backfired in the 90's when they did this to President Clinton. They expect a different result this time. One must remember though you can't reason with zealots.
This is another example of Republicans refusing to accept election results they don't like. Some are trying to figure out how to impeach the President, which worked out so well for them the last time.
Here we go.
Two cliffs. Two chances to be responsible and take care of a couple bookkeeping issues with no muss, no fuss. No. Let's turn it into the Alamo instead. Why be reasonable when you can act like Sonny Corleone and put a horse's head in America's bed. Go to the mattresses. After all this is why you ran, right?

Monday, September 2, 2013

Boredom will be the end of me (Updated)

               Boredom will end me yet. I've also said that about younger women, but boredom is a far more likely culprit.
So coffeed up, doughnut in hand, I watched Meet The Press this morning and saw Senator Rand Paul. It was something I wish I could unsee.
First he derided Secretary of State Kerry for being opposed to the Vietnam war and for strikes against Syria. A valid point if not delivered with supercilious, self righteous smugness. For someone who has never worn a uniform to lecture a decorated Naval Officer on the horror of war is the height of hubris.
Senator Paul then questioned the wisdom of aiding someone who wouldn't be an ally. He also praised   Assad for protecting Christians and condemned the rebellion for not doing the same. That plays into the idea in the region we only care about Christian lives. By basing a response to these atrocities on likelihood of an alliance or protection of one religion's adherents is reprehensible. He sat there with a straight face and looked as if these comments were reasonable and sage. I nearly topped off my coffee with a shot.
I thought I'd relax and peruse some news sites to see what's happening. Another in a long list of mistakes.
The President caught flack for playing golf, instead of being in the situation room 24/7 while Congress can't even cut short their vacation to return to DC to act on the Use Of Force Resolution. Sheesh.
I went to Twitter to talk to kindred souls and friends only to get trolled . This guy was still whining about no African American Conservatives being invited to speak at the March On Washington Fiftieth Anniversary.
First off, in my opinion, it is difficult to find a Black Conservative who doesn't subscribe to paranoid conspiracy fantasies. No one wants Allen West ranting from the lectern. He was busy at the RNC sponsored conservative celebration anyway rewriting the Legacy of Dr. King. To listen to them MLK was a Tea Party leader. This was like William Manchester writing "Death Of A President" while taking acid, drinking peyote tea and shooting smack, topping off with an eight ball of coke to take the edge off.
They then decried the lack of conservative or Republican voices at the Lincoln Memorial. A liberal lovefest.
Every member of Congress was invited. Not one Republican accepted. Period. Not. One. Given a chance to reach out to a diverse crowd and claim the historical legacy of GOP help in passing the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act, they decided to stay away, pouting and bitching like the deviant little lizards they are. The spin that they weren't invited made the rounds. It was quickly exposed as a lie. All it took was a couple phone calls to the organizers. At least we found out just how big a lie has to be to have Bill O'Reilly the arrogant, serial asshat,apologize. Sheesh, again.
Christine"I am not a witch" O'Donnell may run for Senate in Delaware again. Really? She must not have embarrassed herself and the Republican Party enough the last time. Go for it Christine. Please.
Sarah Palin, good old Caribou Barbie(I'll take the hit for this) has come out in favor of defunding the evil Affordable Care Act.
As the loser of an issue of the current cycle, I only wonder what took so long. She says it will kill people by denying them health care. Right. Good to see she hasn't lost it and regained her sanity. Look for her to continue her habit of endorsing Tea Party challengers to GOP officeholders deemed not conservative enough. I am sure Sarah will wield this issue as a cudgel in future endorsement decisions. At least a Sarah Palin endorsement is usually a kiss of death.
Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Rand Paul attended a conference hosted by Americans for Prosperity in Florida.
Senator Rubio got a perfunctory welcome in his home state and was heckled on his immigration stand. This does not bode well for a run in '16.
Ted"Let's hold America hostage over the ACA" Cruz received a standing ovation as he took the stage. He finished to chants of "Run Ted Run". He keeps saying any Government shutdown will be the Dems fault for not submitting to extortion. Has he been out in the Texas desert partaking of exotic hallucinogens? Toad licking, maybe? Run Ted Run. Please.
Speaker Boehner(R-OH) is opposed to shutting down the Government over ACA but all for holding us hostage over raising the Debt Limit. Either gut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid or default. The GOP feels portraying themselves as thugs and extortionists will endear them to the American public. They want to burn down the house to the cheers of the right. Are there any sane Republicans left?
I said to Hell with it. I closed my laptop, put season 2 of "Fringe" in the blu-ray player and tried to relax. I hope I make it to 2014 without my head exploding. Not likely.

I need to stay away from the internet.
Texas, if you don't know buys so many school textbooks they influence the entire publishing industry. Over the last few years they have decided to rewrite history to conform to their ideological standards. When I went to school I was taught the Slave trade was part of the molasses and rum trade for efficient use of ships. This way there was always a cargo.
Texas, in their wisdom, striking a blow in the culture war, tried to rename this trade as "Atlantic triangular Trade", thus removing the word Slave from the Slave trade.
They downplayed the historical standing of Thomas Jefferson due to his support of the Church/State separation.If you don't like it, pretend it didn't happen.
Rather than teach the Founders were highly influenced by the Enlightenment, rationalism and humanism they change reality.
The History texts will push the idea that assorted intellectual influences with biblical law and Moses' teachings were dominant.Thus they are laying a foundation for teaching the United States was founded as a Christian Theocracy.Which, by the way, is contrary to all we know about the ideas and beliefs of the men who founded this secular Nation. Texas seems to want to cast the Constitution not as a secular document but as a overtly Christian one.
Capitalism will be referred to as "The Free Enterprise System". It seems capitalism has negative connotations.
Tailgunner Joe McCarthy's little reign of terror looking for Commies under the bed, will be toned down.
Student will be asked to consider if The United nations threatens American Sovereignty.
Students will be taught the unintended consequences of Title IX, affirmative action and The Great Society.
Phyllis Schlafly, the Moral Majority and the Heritage Foundation are taught in an important, positive light as more important than they are.
Forget George W. Bush's being handed the Presidency in 2000. It need not be mentioned.
No reason to mention the first African American President either.
We will need to teach about the Moral Majority, Contract With America and let's throw in the NRA for grins.
There was a touch of backlash so the Slave Trade is now, the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Everything else stood.
By the way over 1200 Historians and College Faculty members are not impressed with these texts.
Why is it ALWAYS Texas?
I need a drink.