Saturday, November 22, 2014

An Old Lefty: The day America lost its way. 11/22/63

An Old Lefty: The day America lost its way. 11/22/63:                It was my eleventh birthday. A Friday. I had conned my Mother into letting me stay home from school. I had pulled a con on he...

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Do we move to save America?

               America is at a crossroad. Do we continue with the US House able to hold the nation hostage to their Radical Republican/Tea Party views. Do we hand them the Senate as a reward for six years of obstruction, calls for insurrection and secession and continual assault on POTUS?? Do we permit the march towards the past as they deny science, rewrite history and extol the virtues of inequality?

Should we acquiesce to the sale of America to the highest bidder and the return of the Gilded Age? We seem to be at the point where bags of cash are being dumped on Congressional desks again to coddle the wealthy and protect the trusts. Teddy Roosevelt would be appalled.

Do we let corporate America to gut environmental regulations in pursuit of more profit?

Should Wall Street remain an unregulated casino?

Do we stand by and let voter suppression become the new normal? Do we allow police to execute people in the street with no consequence?

Are women to be reduced to brood mares with no say in reproductive choices that profoundly affect their lives?

Or do we get off our collective asses and exercise the weapon that terrifies the elite. WE VOTE!

They've spent the years since the Black Guy was elected President trying to insure that never happens again. Voting rights have been in their cross-hairs as they fight to maintain power.

Democrats outnumber Republicans in voter registration in most states. If we vote, we win. It's that simple. We can't have a replay of 2010 when the Unicorn Wing of the Democratic Party stayed
 home and sat on their hands.

Turn out is the key to hold the Senate. A GOP Senate will, in concert with a GOP House, shred the social safety net. Social Security and Medicare will be gutted. The poor must make sacrifices to protect the status of the wealthy.

The reality of an American Theocratic State will move even closer to reality. President Obama won't be able to have appointees confirmed. Think SCOTUS.

POTUS will likely be impeached and removed from office.

To preserve the Union from the perverse interpretations the Right make on the Constitution we need to stop their expansion of power at the ballot box.

Vote!
The future depends on it.


Monday, September 29, 2014

Ohio fights to suppress the vote.

                    Today the Roberts Court sided without comment with the Secretary of State and Attorney General of Ohio to stay a decision form a lower court to restore the egregious cutting of early voting in Ohio. As usual it was a 5-4 decision with the liberal justices in the minority.

Following the debacle of Ken Blackwell's vicious mismanagement of Ohio's 2014 election, in 2006 Democrat Jennifer  Brunner took the reins as the new Secretary of State. Under her direction and election law revision by the Democrat controlled Legislature the 2008 election was a smoothly run exercise in civics.

Following the Tea Party wave in 2010 when the Tea Party/Republican Party took control of all the statewide offices, thus Jon Husted took over as the new Secretary of State.

So with the prospect of a successful re-election bid by President Obama Ohio moved to severely curtail early voting. Husted further cut hours and days through issuance of rules to the 88 County Boards of Elections in Ohio.

Following these attempts to make Ohio more Mitt Romney friendly Husted was hit with suits in Federal Court to undo these actions. He lost each suit and narrowly avoided a contempt citation for directing the Election Boards to disregard the ruling after he backed down.

Following the re-election of the President Ohio reacted by passing new laws gutting early voting again. Because Ohio sealed the POTUS re-election, (delightfully causing an on air melt down by Karl Rove) and of course Freedom. After all, the wrong kind of people gave Ohio to that Commie, Socialist,Fascist, Dictatorial, Monarchist Kenyan.

Several churches, the NAACP and ACLU filed suit. Federal Judge Economus fount Ohio was in violation of Section 2 of the Voter's Rights Act and the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution.

As always Ohio appealed. The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati refused to stay or overturn the ruling. Ohio appealed to the three Judge panel and was again rebuffed. So, pending a hearing by the full Circuit, Ohio sought an emergency stay from SCOTUS.

Today, the day before voting was to begin, The Roberts Court rode to the rescue of the repressive policies deemed important by the Republican administration of John Kasich. As usual it was a 5/4 split. And they did so without comment.

Ohio's argument was Ohio had plenty of ways to vote and more than many states. The coincidence is that these cuts affected the African American community disproportionately and others who may vote not Republican.

Secretary of State Husted fell back on the old canard that States should set voting rules (State's Rights). It was remedying a vast over reach of judicial power. (Activist Judges). At times he seemed to be channeling Governor George Wallace.

This is what is needed to maintain power when the ruling power is unable to win on policies or issues. If you can't win the vote, tailor the voting pool to your needs.

So voting now starts in a week. we are back to square one with the circumcised voting procedures. The stay by SCOTUS voids the use of the ballot Ohioan's have enjoyed during the last three election cycles.

The only counter to this subversion of the process is turnout. When those who believe in a better life vote, the powers that be are cowed and take notice. Unchecked by the electorate they are emboldened to continue their attack on women, minorities, union workers and the middle class.

they will kowtow to the extremists on the right as they try to make Ohio a theocratic State hoping to join the new Confederacy.

Turn out. Across the country. Ohio is a testing ground for extremist ideas. If we don't stop the radical right the freedoms we take for granted will be eviscerated. America will become a oppressive, Conservative Christian Kingdom rivaling the theocracies we see across the globe.

Vote as if your life depends on it. It does.

Vote as if your future depends on it. It does.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Cold War mentality returns

               I have had to take some time to deal with things cascading through my life. I am back.

The world has been throwing chaos, terror and confrontations about, swirling with seemingly a new atrocity daily.

Russia, under ex-KGB member Vladimir Putin is flexing it's muscles trying to rebuild the Soviet Empire.

With the Russian led and financed separatist movement in the Ukraine resulting in the acquisition of Crimea the specter of a renewed Cold War has made the Russian Bear cast a shadow across Europe and Washington D.C. I am actually surprised it has taken Putin this long. Russia has a long history on the Crimean peninsula.

The Brits, France and the Ottomans allied to oppose the Russians as they waged a war in Crimea during the 1850's.

Russia was moving onto the world stage as they collided with France over privileges of the Russian Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches in the Holy Land. This followed a confrontation with the Ottoman Empire over Russia protecting the members of Orthodox faith in the Ottoman Empire.

The Russians invaded what is now Romania.

 The British fleet deployed to Constantinople(Modern Istanbul). Following the Russian fleet defeating the Turks in the Black Sea saw the British and French Navies deploy to protect Turkish shipping there. A few months later both Britain and France declared war on the Russian Empire.

To placate and prevent the Austrian Empire from entering the fight, the Russians withdrew from Romania. The Austrians promptly occupied those principalities, preventing the Ottomans from moving back in.

Battles were fought in Crimea with the engagement at Balaklava inspiring Tennyson's "Charge Of The Light Brigade".

With Austria threatening to enter the conflict on the Allied side Russia came to the table and signed Treaty of Paris.

Russia has historically been fixated on having a warm water port to project naval power across the globe. The Black Sea has always been a focus of that policy.

One effect of the Crimean War was to convince the Russian Czar, Alexander II of the need to modernize Russia to compete on the European stage.

Florence Nightingale helped revolutionize battlefield medicine during the conflict.

The war also led to Austria becoming more dependent on British and French support. This indirectly led to the unification of Italy, and more importantly to Europe's future, the unification of Germany.

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the disintegration of the Warsaw Pact, NATO expanded, welcoming former Soviet satellites into NATO to fill the vacuum. since 1990 Russia has watched themselves be surrounded by NATO. The result is a resurgence of an expansionist mindset in Moscow.

Putin has pushed Russia into an attempt to rebuild there influence. They are active in former client states such as Syria and Iran. They are again wielding influence on the world stage to counter what they feel is a policy of containment by the West. Knowing there is zero likelihood of military action by NATO Russia has fought an ongoing war against Chechnya separatists even as they moved on Georgia and now Ukraine.

The response from Washington has covered the spectrum from thoughtful to the absurd.

We hear Republicans rattling sabers, longing for a renewed Cold War. They condemn President for a lack of action for relying on sanctions. It's not as if there is a choice.

What the Republican's seem to forget, either through ignorance or willful omission, is that Russia still has a massive nuclear capability. They also have the second largest Air Force and an impressive Army. We managed to survive the Cold War with only two direct military standoffs with the USSR. The Berlin Airlift and the Cuban Missile Crisis. We fought proxy wars, developed spheres of influence, and had counterbalancing alliances.

The post Soviet era saw the diminishing of Russian power and influence. Putin has made the reestablishment of Russia as a world power and counter to America as the dominant global influence. And there is little we can do about it.

We have only sanctions and application of global opinion to deter Russia from too many adventures in shifting the global balance of power. We survived the post WWII era without destroying the planet in a nuclear Holocaust.

One can only hope sanity prevails, our luck holds and the hawks don't force us into their apocalyptic, second coming end of the world fantasies.

It may be time to dig new fall out shelters. Teach duck and cover again. Or we can painfully relearn the lessons of the 50 year Cold War.






Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Coup

          Franklin Roosevelt won the Presidency in 1932. He embarked on sweeping social and economic reforms of American society to end the Depression that threatened the very survival of The United States as a thriving representative democracy.

Widespread, devastating unemployment. Vacant, idle factories. The dustbowl. Foreclosures. WWI veterans marched on DC demanding early payment of their bonus.This horrible period hit the not obscenely rich hard. Companies were meeting union organizing with armies of thugs. Ford mercenaries opened fire on strikers with machine guns during the River Rouge strike.

On the left we saw the growth in popularity of socialism and communism. It was mostly a flirtation by labor, the intelligentsia and writers. On the right we saw the rise of fascism. Groups sympathetic to Hitler and Italy sprung up. These too were mostly flirtations. Flirtations with a lot of money.

FDR was vilified by the uber wealthy elite. He was decried as a class traitor and socialist. Conservative opposition sprang up in response to the New Deal. Some of this opposition went deep into "Seven Days In May" territory.

In FDR's first hundred days he struck terror into the hearts and minds of the oligarchic Titans of Industry. They saw a threat to their privilege. A threat to their power. A tool of the Jewish Conspiracy. These men saw Roosevelt as a clear and present danger to their way of life. They were not amused.

Marine General Smedley Butler was a man very popular with his men. An one who came up through the ranks he built offensives to minimize casualties. He twice was awarded the Medal Of Honor so his heroism was well known.

He wrote a book called "War Is A Racket". He described his Marine career as being a bagman and enforcer for corporate America. He supported the bonus marchers even as Colonel Douglas MacArthur dispersed them with troops.

Butler was perhaps the most admired military man among veterans in America. There were also over a half million jobless veterans unhappy with America. So, he was approached by an American Legion leader and Wall Street guy with a curious offer.

Gerald MacGuire was a bond trader. Bill Doyle, the Commander of the Massachusetts American Legion. They offered to pay Butler to give a speech at the legion National Convention to return the US to the Gold Standard. The hope was Butler's popularity with veterans would put pressure on FDR to do so.

Butler later met with Robert Sterling Clark who had served with him during the Boxer Rebellion. Clark was an heir to the Singer fortune.

Finally Butler was implored to lead an uprising utilizing the dispossessed veterans as troops to march on Washington DC in preparation to institute a successful fascist coup. Butler had been assured money was no object and $300,000,000 was ultimately available. There was also a weapons cache ready for use. These arms were to be allegedly supplied by Remington Arms and the DuPont family.

These men wanted Butler to convince FDR to pretend he was too ill to continue as President or be forced out by Butler and the rag tag army.

Butler responded by testifying in front of the McCormick-Dickstein House Committee(forerunner of the House Un American Activities Committee). He named names. It was a who's who of the rich and powerful.

The leaders of GM, U.S.Steel, Standard Oil, Chase and Goodyear.

Also implicated:

Irene DuPont. Yes, those DuPonts. (The American Liberty League)
Grayson Murphy. (Goodyear, Bethlehem Steel and J.P.Morgan)
Al Smith(Former Dem. NY Governor, American Liberty League)
Prescott Bush. Yes, those Bush's. Prescott was the Wall Street front man for the Nazi's. His Union Banking corporation had their assets seized under the Trading With The Enemy Act. UBC had through the use of a complicated financial maze supported Hitler and Nazi run corporations until 1942.

With the light of publicity on them the coup evaporated. It was made light of and suppressed by the major news organizations of the day. Due to his standing general Butler could not be brushed aside as a crank. The House Committee found there was a plot and did nothing.

Years later Speaker McCormick said, "General Smedley Butler was one of the outstanding Americans in our history. I cannot emphasize too strongly the very important part he played in exposing the Fascist plot in the early 1930s backed by and planned by persons possessing tremendous wealth."


If you look at the rhetoric of the right under FDR and today's laments about President Obama eerie similarities surface. Communists. Socialists. Tyrants. Anti-business. Monarchs. There has been calls for a coup during the Obama Administration. It has gone mainstream with impeachment threats. The Governor of Louisiana calling for a hostile takeover of Washington. A retired General has volunteered to lead a coup. The far right has called on the Military to oust the government. Elected officials have called for Second Amendment options to remove the President.

We need to follow the lessons of the past and follow the money. The buck stops where? Treason and sedition is constantly left alone as free speech. Maybe a prosecution or two may restore reason. Or fear of the existing laws. Right. Never mind.






Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Attention whores are back with : Iraq! The sequel!




               Here we go. Central Ohio is seeing July/August humidity matches or exceeds the temperature weather a tad early. I was relaxing with a cold Summer Shandy as I read more and more on the reaction to Iraq. I switched to Scotch.

First off why is ANY news organization asking the crowd of incompetent, war mongering, lizard fucking toads anything about Iraq. The only question they should be asked is if the violence and potential collapse of the government is due to them fucking up everything beyond any possible repair in 2003.

Paul Wolfowitz of all people was on Sunday blaming the President for the neo-con insanity his gang of ineffectual, imitation intellectuals imposed on the US and the world in the early 20th Century.

One thing you can always count on the American public, politicians and media is a complete lack of understanding historical context.

Had any member of the Bush regime asked a history professor or even cracked a survey course college level textbook, the collapse of Iraq into sectarian fighting and a factionalized civil war would not have been a total fucking surprise! However, facts were rare as a Rockefeller Republican in the run up in 2003.

From the day Bush and Cheney took the reigns of power, Saddam was a target of escalating rhetoric. Since Clinton warned of Bin Laden and Al Qaeda the Bushies decided to ignore them. Instead any premise to hammer Iraq was being explored. After all, what do Dems know? And Clinton beat Daddy.

Even though Saddam was contained his very existence was a thorn in the side of the nuke the desert into glass wing of the GOP. After all, Bush the Elder betrayed them by not taking Baghdad in '91.

Then came the terrible, tragic and avoidable attack on 9/11/2001.

Seeing no one was talking about ignoring the Presidential Daily Briefing warning of imminent attack, realizing the nation's unity and the World on our side, the Bush Administration realized they'd been given a blank check. They intended to cash it on the road to Baghdad. Lie followed lie. Exaggeration compounded falsehoods and misleading statements. America was in the fast lane to an optional war of "pre-emption".

All through the history of the US we never fought a pre-emptive war. WE did not strike first. When Hawks were trying to talk JFK into hitting Cuba to prevent them from launching missiles at us, Bobby Kennedy reminded everyone that America did not do that. Well, that was then. This is now. The so-called Bush doctrine said we could hit anyone whom we thought were going to strike at us. It did not matter that they had not done anything. It was a scathing indictment of how these neo-con scum saw our place in the world. Being the last superpower meant we could do anything we want.

They reallocated resources from Afghanistan, repeating our mistake under Reagan. By stepping out leaving a vacuum, we invited chaos. Rather rebuilding the economy and infrastructure we turned it into a collection of factions.

Having convinced our citizens and legislature, over the objections of most of the world's intelligence services,of the imminent danger, we struck Iraq.

The Iraqi Army followed tradition and folded like an empty wallet. WE rolled into Baghdad, overthrew the power structure and were amazed, since we didn't have a sufficient force to provide security, that Iraq collapsed into civil war. Yeah, we broke it.

The conniving weasels surrounding Bush had promised a short, easy, justified war. It would be paid for by oil revenue. We were greeted as liberators until society collapsed. The lies were exposed as we became mired in house to house fighting.

AS opinion turned, those that voiced concern or opposition to this misguided adventure, Defense Secretary Von Rumsfeld called us appeasers. Criticizing ol' W was unpatriotic.

Our troops were poorly supplied. A body armor shortage. Unarmored Humvees. An Army not large enough to carry on two wars without constantly redeploying the troops over and over.

Bush left office and disappeared from GOP history. Barack Obama, the new President, now got all the blame for what happened. Condemned and second guessed as we got out of Iraq. We had prepared them as well as we could. They had to want a democracy.

Iraq continued to have problems.

Recently a militant group called ISIS has hit hard in Iraq. They have taken cities. The Iraqi Army melted away as is there want.

Now on the news shows and other media outlets, the people who formulated this disaster are bitching at President Obama for losing Iraq. They want a reset where we invade once more. They draw parallels with the fall of Viet Nam.(Which happened under a Republican President,Gerald Ford. This was after Nixon, another GOP stalwart negotiated the treaty).

I was around when Nam fell. I do not recall one voice in Congress calling for us to go back in.

That's all we hear now from the War Party. These lying,mindless toadies can't wait to send the best of America into harm's way once more.

The press needs to ignore them. They need to shut the fuck up and crawl back under their rocks and prey only on grubs. They are like a monkey fucking a football as they jockey for screen time.

We can only do so much to fix the mess they left. now, they want to fuck it up beyond repair.

These attention whores are the worst of us. Let them fade into the mists of time where they can get ass fucked by the countless dead whose blood is on their hands.











Sunday, May 18, 2014

I am finally at the age where I bury more friends than I make.

               Sometimes you meet a person that changes your life. Sometimes for the better. Sometimes, not. That's the crapshoot of friendship. If you are asked why you are friends with someone you likely spout platitudes as you grope for an answer. Friendship, like love is something that happens in spite of our best intentions.

Dan(Jeremiah) Freeman was a friend.

We met around thirty years ago. We both did cable TV. We both loved music. We both shared a best friend.

Jeremiah had spent years in the music business. He started playing professionally at thirteen. The man had a rough, raspy speaking voice but sang clear as a bell. He could take a sad country song and reduce you to a puddle of tears in a honky tonk. And he seemed to know them all.

He played bass guitar primarily. Though he was also an accomplished lead player when he wanted to be. But as a singer is where he made his greatest impact.

Danny was an old school country singer. He took the old classics and infused them with life. You felt the pain and joy in the lyrics. Love lost or found. Drinking to forget or remember. Riding the rails or your thumb across rural America or the factories of the North. And he could do all this loaded.

All the people who knew him have a plethora of "Jeremiah" stories. After a person's passing there is a tendency to gloss over flaws. Well, no matter how hard you try you'll never be able to paint Jeremiah Freeman as a saint. Hell, no one could do that with a straight face.

Danny was the kind of guy who drew strong reactions from people. If you knew him, you either loved or hated him. Sometimes both in the same hour. He could be kind and caring, then a real bastard. Sometimes, but not always, it depended on the Budweiser consumption, as to which Jeremiah you were dealing with.

He could give you the shirt off his back as he stabbed you in yours. He could be funny, sweet and charming. or he could be vicious as he told you how to fix your life, even if there was nothing wrong with it.

The bastard would have a handful of new jokes every day. They were never politically correct. He had a sharp wit. I once said to him"No one phrases like Willie Nelson." His reply? "Who'd want to?"

Oh, he drank. He would order two beers at the bar at a time. I once saw him so drunk he forgot the words to "Won't You Come Home Bill Bailey". A friend of mine once observed that if he and I drank as much as people thought we did, we'd be dead. We simply couldn't drink that much and function. Jeremiah did drink as much as people thought he did. Sometimes more. He would then sing you down a country road, or across a forlorn stretch of highway.

In the last year we didn't see each other as much. I was too blind with cataracts and too broke to go see him. He was legally blind and no longer drove. But, we'd go see an act  at the house of a friend of his. He managed to get me lost going there. He also sang with Linda Ronstadt at one after show jam.

Sleepy LaBeef had him sitting in with the band whenever he played Columbus. Sleepy offered Danny a gig in the band. Jeremiah asked if he took it would I help him move to Northwestern Arkansas. I said, sure. Danny was getting sick then, I think and passed on it.
Danny playing bass for Sleepy LaBeef Aug. 2013

 We had a rocky relationship. There were days we hated each other. There were days when we we as close as two friends could be. And everything in between.

The city of Columbus is a little duller now. Even more boring. Dan was one of a kind. Thank God. I know my life will be duller, less chaotic and fun from now on.

                                                       Good-bye, Jumbo.

With Sleepy LaBeef at The Hey Hey gig in Aug.2013
(Photos copyright 2013 Thomas Givens all rights reserved)

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The GOP House Gets Desperate.

               Speaker of the House John Boehner's district is about fifty miles west of where I live in Columbus Ohio.It has a reputation as perhaps the most conservative District in the Ohio Congressional Delegation. Southwestern Ohio is about as red as red can be and not be a flaming bastion of Klansmen and Neo-Confederates.

The Speaker has never been considered a brilliant political strategist. He may be best known for handing out checks from the tobacco lobby on the floor of the House. Basically a bag man.

Speaker Boehner's weak grip on his caucus has been evident since the Tea Party Wave of 2010 ushered in a group of Freshman Republicans who don't play well with the Party establishment. This has been evident since the Debt Ceiling negotiations in 2011. Boehner repeatedly thought he had a deal he could get passed in the House. He repeatedly had the plans thrown back at him by the Tea Party members.

He's allowed 50 + votes to repeal the ACA to placate the House Tea Party Caucus. He has put Members who call science "lies from the pits of Hell" on the Science and Technology Committee. He put Michelle Bachman Bachman on the Intelligence Committee. And so on and so on. These moves were made to placate the crazy Right Wing Members he has to contend with. Akin to herding cats.

The Speaker lost control of his caucus when the Tea Party adherents forced a Government Shutdown over the ACA. He was the victim of a Tea PArty Mutiny. He has been forced to move important legislation using Democratic votes to pass the House.

Boehner has been attacked by the Right for not being a "true conservative". There have been unsuccessful calls to replace him as Speaker.

He's allowed Darrell Issa (R-CA) to run witch hunts on the non existent scandals of the Obama Administration. Fast and Furious (Started under Bush). Te IRS. And of course, Benghazi, the Republican Beetlejuice.

The GOP in Washington has been focused on Benghazi since 2012 like a cat chasing a laser dot. It is the go to scandal to hype when events threaten to boost the president and other Dems. It is rolled out at every opportunity as a distraction and attempt to show just how lawless the Tyrant Obama truly is. It is also a way, they hope, to mortally wound a Hillary Clinton Candidacy.

The investigations of the faux scandals have been a bust for the rabid Obama haters posing as Members of Congress. So, there is only one logical option. A House Select Committee to interrupt and impede the current investigations. After A Select Committee is the only way to ensure partisan political gain is the objective and get the media exposure for their fantasies.

When he announced the formation of the committee, Speaker Boehner assured America this was not an exercise in political theater. Pursuit of information was the goal. He then went on to pronounce the Administration guilty. So much for an unbiased look at the issues.

This Special Committee has been welcomed by the tea Party Caucus.They obviously see this as a way to generate sound bites for their reelection campaigns at home. A public way to show how much they are serious about opposing POTUS.

Lurking in the background, since a lot of House Republicans have stated the President should be Impeached one must wonder just what the actual agenda is. Impeachment is the obvious answer.As weak as he is the Speaker will be unable to rein in the extremists in his caucus.

These Republicans are obviously hoping to gain the Senate and remove the Usurper from office. That has been Republican policy since president Clinton. A total rejection of any popularly elected Democratic President.

The Select Committee is a dangerous move in this coup attempt.

As they strut before the cameras, spouting their racist and conspiracy fueled views, normal Americans will react with contempt and vote for sanity. These RWNJ's on parade will make the US ,once again, the laughing stock of the world, damage our standing and cripple our diplomatic ability.

The Democrats can not boycott the committee. There has to be a voice of sanity to oppose the madness that has gripped DC.

God save the United States.


Sunday, April 20, 2014

Ohio quietly becomes part of the South.

               Texas, Arkansas and other parts of the Old Confederacy get the press for repressive abortion laws and voter suppression. However, Ohio is beacon of inspiration for those who wish to end access to safe legal abortions. Laws passed in Ohio are used as templates in places like Texas and Mississippi.

Here in Ohio the legislature has taken upon itself to rewrite medical definitions. pregnancy, in Ohio, now is defined as beginning at conception rather than implantation as it defined by the medical community.This puts the use of some contraceptives at odds with the law as they may prevent implantation. This would make an IUD an abortion causing medical device. Thus, a woman needing one will be required to have the forced ultra sound, the lecture that blames breast cancer on abortion (even if there is no evidence of causality).

Ohio requires abortion providers to have a transfer agreement with a local hospital to remain open. These agreements are to ensure prompt treatment of  any complications. Other medical out patient clinics are not required to have such agreements. These are popular anti-choice techniques used to limit access. Ohio goes one step further by forbidding public hospitals( e.g Ohio State University Hospital) from entering into such agreements. Now, since many of Ohio's private Hospitals have religious affiliation this can force clinic closure due to an inability to secure a transfer agreement with private hospitals.

A provider in Toledo is trying to arrange an agreement with a Michigan hospital just across the border. The State Health Department, which regulates abortion providers seems ready and willing to argue a Michigan hospital, no matter how close, is not a local healthcare provider and therefor unacceptable.

I mentioned a lecture earlier. In Ohio, a doctor must read from a State approved script which is rife with unfounded and debunked medical information. This accompanies the waiting period required before a procedure is performed. By the way, no other procedure is required to have a waiting period and lecture designed to have the effect of trying to have a patient to decline by changing their mind.

Ohio has also went with the regulation to require abortion providers to upgrade their facilities to those of an ambulatory surgical center. This is an expensive and unnecessary remodel. It is opposed by Ohio Doctors but was imposed by the Republican legislature in their superior wisdom.

The goal is closing all abortion providers in the State of Ohio. Mike Gonadakis, head of Ohio Right To Life reminds us that women can go out of State. There is no law about mileage or travel time in the definition of access.

Ohio is leading the charge to end safe and legal abortion.  It is weaving a web of regulation and restriction to stifle access in the State. It is doing so by pushing gray areas and moving up to the edge of Roe v Wade without flagrant violation.

The laws  passed in Ohio are being copied in Texas and across the old Confederacy. Even laws that haven't passed here are copied. The Heartbeat bill is one. It prohibits abortion after detection of a fetal heartbeat. This often happens before a woman even realizes they're pregnant.

Governor Kasich and the Tea Party /fundie legislature are up for reelection in 2014. Women's rights have been under assault here since 2011. It's time to remove the threat at te ballot box.It is time to restore Ohio's reputation as a moderate. sane political state.

Political disagreement and debate is a needed part of a representative Democracy. It does however require being based on facts. Codification of conservative Christian cults ideology is wrong and the antihisis of what our founders envisioned.

So, it is time to take back Ohio from the deranged right wing and return to sanity in our discourse. All politics are local. So, the beast way to say no is to vote a straight Democratic ballot. Donate. Volunteer and VOTE!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

SCOTUS looks into a religious abyss. The abyss stares back at us all.

                 Corporations are an artificial legal construct designed to shield shareholders from liability. That's my understanding but not being an attorney, I may be wrong. Won't be the first time. And as usual it won't stop me from wading in and tossing out my two cents worth.

In this Hobby Lobby case there are so many issues swirling around it's hard to find a starting place or decide where to start to construct a coherent look. So, I'll just wade in.

As I mentioned above a corporation is a legal construct. It is by design separate from those who own, control and manage it. The shareholders are not responsible for its debts and the Corporation doesn't dissolve upon the deaths of shareholders. It is a shield for the owners.

Since it is designed to be separate from the owners how can Hobby Lobby and the others claim the owners religious beliefs are being infringed.? To do so will require a new definition so owners can be shielded on one hand and claim their religious beliefs are one and the same with their Corporation on the other. Is this SCOTUS willing to do this? Well they have discarded centuries of precedent and engaged in convoluted legal reasoning before.

Let's look back at the rise of the idea modern American Government is anti-christian and how it became such a loud voice full of sound and fury signifying little in the political landscape.

The unholy alliance of conservative Christians and the Republican Party dates back to Nixon's Southern Strategy. Unfortunately Nixon thought they could control the results.

In 1968 Nixon created the myth of the silent majority. The venal, manipulative psychopath played on the racial and social fears of blue collar whites as they were shell shocked watching their children reject everything they'd worked so hard for.

They saw Vietnam being fought for a draw and as WWII vets they were confused and dismayed. They saw the touchstones of their life being upset. Overt racism was being vilified. African Americans were demanding their rights. Truman had integrated the Military. Ike had sent troops into Arkansas to enforce school integration. They nodded in agreement as George Wallace barred the entrance of The University Of Alabama and shouted,"Segregation now! Segregation tomorrow and segregation forever!" These people cheered as Governor Reagan attempted to crush the rebellion of the counter culture and anti war movement.

Between the civil rights violence, the reaction by the entrenched White Southern power structure, the counter culture, music, the celebration of drugs and violent rejection of the war in Southeast Asia many were were confused and angry. And ripe for being taken in by a skilled huckster like Nixon.

The Presidential campaign of George Wallace was more overtly racist than Nixon's. Dick was more skilled at subtly leading the crowd to what he wanted while causing them to believe they arrived at their decision on their own.

Part and parcel of these disaffected were Conservative Christians who felt America was turning it's back on God. Canny snake oil salesman that he was, Nixon invited Televangelists into the tent. He invited such leading scholars like Jimmy Swaggert, Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson. Unfortunately Nixon did not realize he was sowing the seed of the eventual destruction of the modern Republican Party.

Reagan solidified the influence of the Religious Right as he embraced their narrow world view giving lip service to their cause. All the while using them as he seldom attended church himself and exploited them for campaign cash and foot soldiers. The vicious Machiavellian political mastermind Lee Atwater guided these maneuvers leading those Christians into the Coliseum.

Something to remember is until the late Eighties, these reactionary Christians were marginalized and derided. Holy Rollers they were called. Outside of the Bible Belt their power and influence was marginalized. It was dismissed as an amusing aberration.

Eventually these Christian foot soldiers became resentful of being used and abused. Following the election of Barack Obama they mobilized. Carrying the Cross they wrapped themselves in the flag and took up the mantle of the Patriots of the Revolution. Unfortunately they had little understanding of the reasons the Colonists took up arms against the Crown.

Aided and abetted by the Right Wing media, the idea of a war on Christianity grew into a given. It seemed everything was an attack. Science in school was seen as a liberal, secular attack on the word of God. It did not matter that in a publicly funded school, Genesis has no place as a text.

Pseudo Historians tried to rework history as a false major propaganda piece to deny America was created as a Christian Theocracy.

Science is derided as lies from the pits of Hell by a member of the House Science and Technology Committee.

We now have a atmosphere where ignorance is worn as a badge of honor. Where intolerance is seen as the sacred word of God and the path to the salvation of America. It is in this arena of thought where any idea is given credence,as long as it is wrapped in scripture, that Hobby Lobby feels aggrieved.

What I find disturbing is it seems only conservative Christian thought seems to be defended constantly as being under attack. Mainstream faiths are actually derided at times as not really Christian.

Now, Hobby Lobby's objection to the contraception is that they consider IUD's and some other methods as abortion. So, not only do they claim their beliefs are under attack, their belief is in denial of science. However, the idea seems to be their ignorance is equal to and as valid as others knowledge. It is disbelief in the face of scientific proof.

The very idea that a Corporation has religious beliefs is not a new legal idea. It is however one that SCOTUS has rejected before. A Southern restaurant chain claimed that they felt it was their religious right to deny service to African Americans. That defense was rejected by The Supreme Court.

Now we have religious freedom as a defense to control what medical care can be offered to a woman. It it an employer's right to decide for the woman.

Now, as the women Justices did, one wonders what this idea will eventually encompass.

If one's religion rejects vaccines or blood transfusions, can the employer deny coverage for this? Christian Scientists reject medicine all together so can they refuse any coverage? Does an employer have the right to impose their religious views on the employee even if the employee doesn't share those beliefs?

Let's look further into this can of worms.

First off it appears that conservative Evangelical Christianity is becoming a preferred strain of a religion rife with various denominations. These range from the Unitarians on the left to the Westboro Baptist Church and their intolerant ilk on the right.

Not surprisingly the conservative media lines up in defense of the Evangelicals as they complain of persecution. Although it is hard to see how a dominant religion in a society(Christianity) can possibly claim persecution.

There is a constant barrage of examples of so-called attacks put forth on American airwaves. Right Wing radio calls this court case a lethal blow to religious liberty if sanity is allowed to win.

What is ignored is a person's religious freedom ends where my rights to believe or not begin. These sects have warped the ill informed public's view of separation of church and state as a myth. the belief we are actually a theocracy that has lost our way is a dangerous idea. It opens the door to a myriad of beliefs not subject to the rule of law simply by cloaking them in the Gospel.

Religion was once used as a justification for slavery. We have actually heard Republican office holders say slavery wasn't that bad due to it being in the Bible. It was used as a basis for racial purity laws and statutes to prevent mixed marriages. Religion in the hands of a zealot can be a terrible weapon.

If an employer believes, due to their firmly held religious beliefs, that unmarried women should not have access to birth control since they should be chaste, would that be acceptable? Perhaps, scriptural hatred of LBGT(which seems to be rampant) is an excuse for not hiring them or to refuse HIV/Aids treatment? And would such treatment be allowed to straight employees?

Perhaps since men are the head of the household in the Scriptures women should not receive any health coverage since their husband should supply it? Could a company refuse to hire women because they should be at home tending the hearth according to their beliefs?

If your interpretation of the Word says that blacks are inferior and the races should be kept separate could you refuse to hire or serve African Americans? Could you refuse to deal with LBGT customers or customers living together without benefit of marriage?

The use of faith to exempt secular, for profit Corporations from the rule of law is an invitation to chaos. It would put the courts and legislatures in the business of deciding what is a reasonable religious belief. Which in itself is unconstitutional.So we would see a hands off approach, which is the GOP/Tea party stance today anyway. They accept any claim of religious discrimination, no matter how far fetched as legitimate.

The legal idea of incorporation cannot allow the shareholders to reach out to claim a religious corporate identity and remain separate from the corporation for liability.

This case is more than contraception. It is,can a corporation push it's beliefs on it's employees and flout laws others in the business world must adhere to. Can religion be used to ignore law across the board. Religious objection can be raised and claimed on nearly any law by simple contorted interpenetration of scripture. And there are many churches out there adept at the linguistic, intellectual and logical contortions needed.

SCOTUS has to uphold the traditional legal definition of a corporation. Religious exemption from almost any law opens a road to hell paved with bad intentions. It will be a road to perdition paved with gleeful flouting of the rule of law and substituting religious dogma of all stripes as the law of the land. That can not happen. It is spitting in the face of those who labored to create a nation free of religious domination they saw in Europe.

It would embolden the right and ease the push to theocracy and overturning American traditions of religious diversity. A coup by any other name....

God help us all and save us from the man who is sure he is righteous.


Sunday, March 16, 2014

Cosmos. Knowledge vilified.

               Cosmos. I watched and marveled at it's first incarnation led by Carl Sagan. He examined and explained the Universe in ways the average could grasp. He brought his inherent sense of awe to the viewers. A generation of scientists were inspired by Cosmos. The show became an icon of PBS and science programming in general.

I was glad to see it's return hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson, today's Sagan. He is a witty, erudite spokesman for the role of science in modern life. Tyson, like Sagan, makes science approachable and relevant. He shares his awe and wonder at the scope and beauty of the Universe and loves explaining it in a way that can spread that wonder. Neil is also an outspoken critic of forcing religion into science education. This makes him a reliable target for the wrath of Extreme Christians and science deniers.

The anti-intellectual strain of thought that has been evident in America since the beginning is at historic levels today. Theirs is a uniquely American view that their ignorance is equal to and as valid as other's knowledge Science itself is seen as having a Liberal and anti-Christian bias. It is attacked as an assault on religion. As Neil deGrasse Tyson has said, facts don't care if you believe in them .

So, I was dismayed but not surprised by the level of vitriolic attacks on Cosmos by the Religious Right. It was right on cue.

This is seen as central to the fights concerning Creationism as a legitimate part of science education anyone who actually supports facts as truth is demeaned as persecuting Christians and denying religious freedom.

Following the broadcast of Cosmos the social media universe lit up with attacks on Tyson, the show, the science and decrying it as an organized persecution and attack on Christianity.  My response was, What the actual fuck?

The mainstream denominations have no problem with science. Many scientists are people of faith. They do not react in outrage when Neil  deGrasse Tyson says the Bible is not a scientific text. Mainstream religion does not use Genesis as the basis for how the Universe works. They treat it as allegorical not literal. To believe in science is not an attack on faith. Ask a Catholic. Or a Vatican spokesman on the papal stance on science.

You can get a good science education at a Catholic school like Notre Dame or any other Catholic University. There is a tradition of Catholic priest/scientists making discoveries that expanded modern scientific knowledge. So, I would postulate science and religion is not automatically exclusive of each other.

However today in America we have an atmosphere that seems to elevate willful ignorance to a badge of honor to be worn proudly.

Climate change is denied. When it is accepted by the right they claim God will save us from catastrophic events. Or, it's punishment. Evolution is rejected as an attack on religious freedom. How dare we expect factual scientific teaching in PUBLIC schools?  How dare Fox air such a blatant attack on Christianity?

When the original cosmos aired there were no massive complaints that it was a violation of freedom of religion. It was not derided as a liberal, secular, atheistic war on the basic tenants of the Christian faith. People of reason saw it as an excellent example of compelling science programming. It made science accessible. Amazing the difference a couple decades makes.

Perhaps I am a cynic. It does seem that this new war on Christianity is being used by assorted conservative groups and Evangelicals as a fundraising tool. Do they believe this is a war or simply a way to dupe the faithful into opening their wallet? They use radio, television and the internet to demonize science as lies from the pits of Hell. These very platforms prove science works as predicted. It proves the scientific method works and is a correct look at the universe.

I have a suggestion to those who attack Cosmos as a planned attack on your your faith. Don't fucking watch it. Do not organize boycotts or other attempts to deny more the joy of watching a well done science program on American, commercial television. That happening is in itself a miracle.




Saturday, February 15, 2014

Equal means equal. And All means all.

              If you listen in the quiet chill air of a frigid February you may hear the explosions of intolerant heads across the country.

The United States District Court of the Eastern District OF Virginia overturned the Virginia Constitutional Amendment forbidding same sex marriage and forbidding the recognition  the same from other States. The usual right wing vitriol spewed forth on cue. As additional fodder the fact that Virginia's newly elected Attorney General, seeing the case as a loser decided to not fight the suit.

One thing to remember Attorney's General, like City, County and District Attorneys across America can decide not to prosecute a case. That is an executive decision on allocation of resources and the case's merits. No responsible prosecutor wants to try a weak case of dubious constitutional standing.

Naturally AG Mark Herring (a newly elected Democratic AG) took flack as being lawless like the President did over DOMA by not sinking money and personnel into defending theVirginia Amendment which likely would not withstand constitutional scrutiny.

Tony Perkins of The Family Research Council was furious at Herring. He declared the AG had not carried out his duty to vigorously defend the indefensible.  According to Perkins, Herring was required to uphold the laws and Constitution of Virginia. Perkins makes sure he mentions the Amendment garnered 57% of the vote in 2006 when it was passed.

This is always brought up wherever these Amendments are under siege. If being popular majority views were grounds to stop challenges, then there would still be slavery in the old South. The things about rights are they are rights,.They are not something subject to the whim of a vote. Perkins also says that this was not just a law,it was a Constitutional amendment.

Where to start, Tony? Sure it was an amendment to a STATE constitution. The Federal Constitution and law is supreme when in conflict with State or local law. Also, when a State joins the Union, the Constitution of that State is examined to ensure it is in accordance with the Federal Constitution.

Perkins also attacks Judge Arena L. Wright Allen who handed down the decision. Since the decision is something he disagrees with, Perkins hammered her as "Arrogant" and an "activist Judge". The usual tirade when the right loses a big one. SCOTUS' decision re; Citizens United, which scrapped more than a Century of precedent was just fine.

"It appears that we have yet another example of an arrogant judge substituting her personal preferences for the judgment of the General Assembly and 57 percent of Virginia voters. Our nation’s judicial system has been infected by activist judges, which threaten the stability of our nation and the rule of law."  * from Politicus*
Once more. Where to start?

A judge who rules against your views in not necessarily substituting personal views or ideas for law. Once more being passed by a legislature and having a majority vote does not exclude a law from being found lacking as to it's constitutionality.If anything judicial review enhances stability and rule of law.

Contrary to what Perkins believes Judge Wright Allen used what appears to be solid reasoning based on accepted views of the portions of the US Constitution she cites. Perkins continues to act as if the tyranny of the Majority is a good thing and somehow enshrined in American law.

James Madison one of the authors of The Federalist papers (written to explain why a strong Federal Government was better than what existed) and the Constitution was concerned by the issues presented by simple majority. To avoid the tyranny of the masses Madison and company created checks and balances to the simple whim of the majority which could undo what had been fought for. He knew in a Republic that balancing the rule of a majority against the rights of a minority was a dangerous tightrope that needed navigated carefully.

As usual Perkins rewrites history to his view so as to make it easy to use as a cudgel.

When the framers of the Constitution wanted to be vague, they would be. When they wanted precision they were precise. Perkins seems to see ALL as a simple rhetorical flourish that really meant conservative white fundamentalist Christians. Everybody else were the dregs of humanity and not worthy of the same rights accorded to others.

Perkins and his allies suggest Judge Allen Wright got to be an attorney and judge without understanding the Constitution. They contend by striking down discrimination based on sexual orientation the country will lose and be overtaken by inequality. Huh?

He continues by sliding further off the rails. It seems that same sex marriage sends the message that children are worse off in a same sex family. It will result in contempt for law and the courts. It undermines States right to discriminate. It also ignores The Constitution is based on the Old Testament.

Of course this decision is also called a social experiment conjuring images of the Commies and Nazis. Also the fact this Judge was appointed by President validates decision this as social engineering and validates all conspiracy theories.

This case was rightly decided on the Fourteenth Amendment. Equal Protection and Due Process. If, Virginia recognizes marriages performed in other States and Countries as valid, they must also recognize legal same sex marriages. The State can not show an overwhelming need not to and may not pick and choose what to recognize.. Equal is equal.

Judge Wright Allen imposed a stay pending appeals which of course are going to happen. Flog that dead horse.




The Right is spiraling out of control.

               Bouncing around on Facebook today I noticed more stories of Right Wing asshattery today than normal. They ran a gamut from insane to the absurd. Interspersed was sheer arrogance and pure disdain for others humanity.

The State of Kansas voted to legalize discrimination based on sexual orientation. All in the name of Religious rights. It basically boils down to if you being LBGT offends my tender faith based sensibilities, I can discriminate.

My restaurant does not have to serve you. I don't have to cut your hair or allow you in my theater. As an MD I don't have to treat you. As a business I don't have to hire you. As an EMT I can let you die on the street. Dental work. Eww. I don't know where that mouth has been. Don't even ask me to bake a cake.

The best thing is, I can't be sued for discriminating. Because this is all for my Christian belief systems. Good to see the old Confederate traditions updated for the 21st Century. Jim Crow is back. In the North this time.

A Missouri Lawmaker introduced a bill forcing schools to notify parents if evolution is going to be taught. He ten gives the parents an opt out. No. Really.

State Rep, Rick Brattin(R) went on to say the teaching of evolution violates  peoples belief systems. Proving he has absolutely zero grasp of how science is done. he reinforced that by claiming the Theory of Evolution was simply pulled out of thin air. Simply to annoy Christian's, I bet.

As Bill Nye has said we can't afford to have a generation of scientifically illiterate children. It will mean no further scientific innovation here. Allowing science to be taught a la carte is tantamount to child abuse. Facts don't care if they violate your belief system. Facts are facts. Beliefs are subjective.

On a related subject a National Science poll found 26% of Americans think the Sun revolves around the Earth. 39% went with The Big Bang. 48% believe in Evolution. About half know antibiotics don't work on a virus.

As usual a bitter, brutal, storm laden winter disproves Climate Change because...snow. They don't seem to care weather is not climate.

Senator Ted Cruz (R-Klingon Empire) filibustered the bill to raise the Debt Limit passed by the House. he forced minority Leader Mitch McConnell and others to vote yes for cloture. This denied them the political cover they need at home by casting a yes vote to be able to cast a no vote on the bill itself.

Cruz said he did this to expose McConnell as a closet liberal. So, Cruz purposely did this to give ammo to those challenging from the right in primaries. I guess he wants to burn down the party and rebuild some appalling travesty on the ruins.

There was a time this behavior would be ridiculed and cost a politician his job and dignity. Now ignorance and intolerance is worn as a badge of honor. The more outrageous the belief or position the more likely it is said in front of mics and cameras.

What ever happened to the GOP that helped pass the Civil Rights Act and helped fund Mercury, Gemini and Apollo? What happened to sanity" The reign of raising our children to be fundamentalist science deniers will result in the demise of The US as a scientific leader. It's all done because they feel the have a right to ignorance as they burn us down. They set the fire, let the air out of the Fire truck's tires and say it's the government's fault. They stand ready to build a Christian version of the Taliban's world.

Monday, February 10, 2014

I'm not Anti-Christian. Honest

                   Those of you who have read my rants here or on Twitter and Facebook know I have some hot button issues that send me careening off on a rant.The teaching of creationism in PUBLIC schools is one. The attempts to ignore the prohibition of enacting Christian dogma as law is another. Some have asked if I am a person who hates the church. No. I am not. More on that later.  

The attempted reshaping of America as a Conservative Christian theocracy sends me right off the rails. It simply denies the founders vision of a republic free of the co-mingling of church and state. They had lived under a British Crown that had a State religion. The Church of England. These men had seen first hand how the church in Europe had abused its power and position by inserting itself into national affairs and policy decisions.

Madison and the other framers of the Constitution were clear about making laws establishing a state religion. It was clearly and strictly forbidden. They also forbade any religious test or requirement to hold office in this Nation. The language is not oblique or unclear on this issue.

These were the well educated elite of this fledgling Country.Products of the Enlightenment and the age of reason. There was a belief in the inherent goodness of humanity. The use of reason, rather than blind, dogmatic faith to preserve the basic freedoms gained with blood and treasure.

When the young United States was a fairly homologous population of European Christians there was a shared reality. The oppression of Christianity was a battle of  assorted denominations. The mainstream Protestant faiths marginalized Catholics and the newer evangelical sects. The Baptists. The Pentecostals and others. The dominate Protestant faiths and the Mormons waged actual running armed skirmishes for decades as the Latter Day Saints were pushed west. The Church of England became the Episcopalian Church to distance themselves from the Mother Church of England.

On the whole we escaped the bloody, widespread religious conflicts that plagued Europe for the Centuries following the Reformation. We avoided that trap by not having an official religion.

In the last century we saw fundamentalist, very conservative Christian Churches spring up across America. They were usually rural as was most of America. When the migrations from farm to city happened, these evangelical faiths came along, following the flock.

In the last half of the 20th Century and first decade of the 21st these fundamentalist faiths learned how to take control of cultural discourse in the public arena. They quickly became adept at using the new communication  technologies. First travelling preachers used newspaper advertising to bring in the flock to the tent revivals. Then they used radio, effectively raising their profile and raising money to support new national ministries. Then TV expanded the reach of their message.

These preachers were no longer locked into a small rural church and flock. The reach of their message was national and then global.

This growth was not lost on the Republican Party. Richard Nixon forged the first alliance of political party and conservative faith. It gave the GOP a solid base that could be counted on to staff campaigns with volunteers and the give the life blood of politics, money.

Following the fall of Nixon the party paid lip service to the important cultural issues that drove the Christian right's anger.

It took Lee Atwater and Ronald Reagan to forge the unholy alliance with the Falwell's, the Robertson's and their ilk to reshape the Republican party into a de facto political arm of fundamentalist Christianity.The pairing took aim at the progressive advances made since FDR and the New Deal. It was a merger of a political party, corporations and those who saw their idea of American values being rejected and attacked.

Reagan and his disciples adroitly fashioned the fears of these conservative Christians into wedge issues to drive turnout in elections. The politics of fear and division had gone mainstream.

This alliance spent the two Reagan terms waging a slash and burn agenda against the average American. They demonized the word liberal and secular. They invented a war on religion as a plot by secularists to destroy American ideals. The religious right supported the gutting of the social contract. The welfare queen was invented. The mentally ill were marginalized and thrown out onto the streets without treatment. Those who needed help were derided as lazy and shiftless.

The Unions were portrayed as thugs getting money for nothing and crippling commerce. Distrust of the educational system was promoted by claiming it was rife with liberal indoctrination. The seeds of today's rejection of science and history were sown with reckless abandon.

Since 1980 we have seen America morph into a nation where the rich and corporations are richer than ever. The working American is working harder and longer for wages that have stagnated. Pensions have been decimated in the name of the bottom line. The shift has been to IRA's and windfall profits for Wall Street.

The regulations that kept our environment, medicine, the work place and the food supply safe have been decimated in the name of profit. During this demise of the American dream the alliance held.

With the election of George W. Bush this began to change.

The Christian Right realized they had been taken for granted. Their issues were paid lip service during campaigns to ensure boots on the ground and money for the GOP. After the election they were pretty much ignored. Their social agenda was on the back burner.

So, having learned how to run a campaign the religious right mutinied.

They staged a coup by winning primaries with their candidates, pushing aside the established GOP office holders. They knew the path to victory ran from local elections up. The took school boards. County governments.State legislatures and then national offices.

They were zealots. Compromise was an obscenity.Unleashed from the moderating influence of old guard Republicans they pursued their agenda with a passion.

They went after abortion. They tried to establish creationism as a viable subject to be taught in schools. They pushed for Charter schools to fund religious schools.The political push is to attempt to force religious views as basis for law.

The religious views the right want codified are always the most conservative, fundamentalist ideals. You never see mainstream Christian dogma pushed as a model for legislation.

We see people in power that claim to be Christian. They wear the term as a badge of honor. They see themselves as soldiers in a war against modernity. This clique is Christian in name only.They always champion scripture from the Old Testament. They warn of a vengeful God sitting in judgement of America.

They decry independent women as a cause of America's decline. Office holders actually say women should be obedient to their husband. The result is tornados as punishment. The very fact LBGT rights are existent is punished by drought or other natural disasters. The intolerance these people spew as Gospel is not Christianity. They turn their back on the poor and downtrodden as they exult the wealthy. Faux Christianity is used as cover to say the most hateful rhetoric and implement policies that crush the neediest among us.

They have hijacked Christianity and shaped it into something the martyrs and saints would never recognize.

This is why I go off the rails. The New Testament describes a God of love and mercy. Jesus overturned the money changer's tables in the temple. He didn't hold them up as paragons of virtue. Christ fed the hungry and healed the sick and infirm. HE did not demonize them as lazy moochers. HE preached peace not endless war. According to these Christians in name only Jesus would be a socialist.

I understand true faith.A person's religion gives peace and a structure to live by. It gives comfort in times of loss or strife. Belief is a powerful thing. There is beauty in those parables. There is hope. All wonderful things. Worship as you will. All religions should be granted the same freedom to believe. Not just the chosen.

Where I draw the line is wanting the state to force a certain religious view on me against my will .Do not push me to the Cross using the power of the State. I tend to react badly. That is not how you correct the ills you perceive. Often pushing an unforgiving point of view is very counter productive.

I have dear friends who live their faith. We may debate but we treat each other with respect. That's all we should ask. Mutual respect and tolerance.

The bumper sticker sermons ask what would Jesus do? He would look at what many do in his name and weep.


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Isn't Sedition a crime?

               Since the election of Barack Obama as President of the United States, we have seen numerous calls for impeachment, arrest, assassination and armed insurrection from so-called "Patriots" on the far right.

These people cry tyranny as they attempt to inflict their warped value system on the rest of us. They simply can't accept that President Obama has been elected twice by convincing margins. They view him as a usurper. After all he couldn't have been elected without massive fraud and assorted shenanigans.

The radical right has rejected the American electoral process simply because they don't approve of the results.

It seems the hateful, racist rhetoric is not enough. Now we have a Retired Army Major General volunteering to reluctantly lead a military coup. It is as if over night the USA has morphed into a third rate Banana Republic. The cacophony from the right is beyond amazing.

Retired Major General Paul Vallely has repeatedly spoken of a purge of Military general staff that feel POTUS is a tyrant. He has repeatedly called for his arrest. It seems General Vallely has forgotten the US Military is subservient to civilian authority.

Removing the President is not enough according to General Vallely. The Vice President and Congressional leaders of both parties must be forced to resign. Vallely calls for massive protests believing it will force resignations as it did with Nixon. He, like so many in the Tea Party fueled dwellers of an alternate reality sees creeping "progressive socialism" running rampant.

General Vallely declines to call for impeachment like so many of his compatriots because it can't be done politically. Thus, he rejects the will of the American people as shown in our last two national elections. He believes a new George Washington must come forth from the Military and lead America back to what he sees as better times. It doesn't matter the America he wants to restore never existed.

Vallely says we are in "a battle for America" and cites Senator Ted Cruz as saying the same. The General is calling for a groundswell of protests to force the President and congressional leaders to resign. I am amazed he feels the GOP leaders of the House and Senate are complicit in helping "progressive socialism" destroy America.

He cites all the imaginary scandals, Fast and Furious, Benghazi and the ACA. According to Vallely the administration is forcing political correctness on our Armed Forces, weakening us as a Superpower.

Now, as a true patriot, he told a Tea Party group in Surprise Arizona, he would reluctantly lead a coup, if called upon. He advocates surrounding the White House and the Capital building with 250,000 armed Marines to force mass resignations. He claims he has been offered this armed force by some in power who believe like him.

The question is, is Sedition still a crime? Vallely and others constantly call for overthrow of the duly elected Government of thee United States. He wants to reluctantly lead a military coup. Enough is enough. The First Amendment has limits and inciting treason is actionable. It is way past time to get these people's attention with arrest and indictments, followed by a trial.

Disagree with the Government? Fine, speak out. To call for rebellion because you don't like the Nation's course goes past any rational line of protected political speech. Major General Vallely is rejecting over 200 hundred years of American tradition by calling for a military coup. We have to show this type of demagoguery is unacceptable in a Republic. It is time to arrest these traitors.


Friday, January 17, 2014

I may be crazy, but I'm not stupid.

               Sometimes I wonder what has happened to America. This is not the country where I grew up and came of age. Not the country that shaped my worldview, that forged the ideals I hold dear.

We were the good guys. We did the American dream as it was intended.

Maybe the 80's were the turning point.

The post war period was the America I came of age in. The America that was coming to grips with the dismantling of our shameful apartheid. We were struggling in learning to treat women as people.The fight for equality for LBGT Americans was in its infancy, nascent but growing as an idea whose time was near.

Unions had not been decimated. A minimum wage job was a starting place but you could live on it. Higher education was still affordable for any who wanted it. Class was something that could be overcome in our society. We were a shining city on a hill, a beacon of hope, freedom and equality..

Of course there were fits and starts. Nixon comes to mind. His prime legacy was a deep abiding mistrust of our government and those in it. Even so, he was talking of national healthcare but got distracted by a burglary in '72. The EPA was created on his watch. He opened China to the world and helped us pull back from decades of cold war brinkmanship with the Soviet Union. Nixon's rampant paranoia was the venal bastard's undoing.

We wandered through the 70's in a daze, a hangover from the 60's tumult and anarchy. And Vietnam. Many of us boomers changed course and became what we once despised. And in far too many ways we were far worse. The quest for money and status as success was for many an obsession.

Many of privileged avoided serving using the very draft deferments they condemned for those opposed to that tragedy in Southeast Asia. They honed their contempt for those not like them. Others that dodged the war they supported for the masses were developing a worldview diametrically opposed to American tradition.

We saw the Cheneys and the Rumsfelds move into mid level positions in Republican Administrations. As we staggered through the 70's they moved upward as they developed and pushed their ideals. It was eventually called Neo-Con for New Conservative. They were actively rejecting the conservatism of William F. Buckley and Barry Goldwater. These Neo-Cons aligned themselves with the worst of the American ideologues. They took Nixon's Southern Strategy of playing to fear and racism and made it a driving force towards winning. They saw division, distrust and racism as a winning recipe for power. For reshaping America to embrace their views. They wanted to drive a stake through the heart of The New Deal and Great Society.

These men went after unions as a major threat. They demonized those that disagreed. Any who opposed them were liberal. That was a term they took ownership of, making it obscene. The equivalent of Commie. Of Socialist. Of America haters. In disarray, the Democratic Party fled from many of their ideals to avoid being tarred with that liberal brush. The clear differences between the parties started to blur in the 80's.

Ronald Reagan became the face of the new Republican Party. He parleyed two terms as Governor of California into becoming President. Eighty was close. Eighty-four was a landslide.

Ronnie slashed taxes for the wealthy. Reagan pushed the idea that government was the problem. He demonized moderate Dems as liberals. He pushed the drive to decimate the Union movement. Reagan was intent on unleashing unfettered capitalism by trying to do away with "job killing regulations". The very regulations that protected Americans from harm. He followed the playbook written by a truly evil genius, Lee Atwater. Lee's descendants are active today, driving GOP policy and election strategy.

Reagan changed us from a lender to a debtor nation. He raised taxes as the deficit exploded. Too little. Too late. He took advantage of geo political trends and helped push the USSR into oblivion. His present disciples see him as doing it singlehandedly. It was the result of forty plus years of concerted pressure from the United States and Europe.

The world did rejoice as the Berlin Wall was demolished, the Warsaw Pact disintegrated and the Soviet Union collapsed. We had no plan for the aftermath. The Neo-Cons stepped into the void.

The Reagan years set the stage for our modern political landscape. The standard bearers for these culture wars came to maturity under Saint Ronnie. In was then the us versus them mentality took root, dividing the nation as we struggled for identity following the end of the cold war. Being the last remaining Superpower was enticing to those who saw an opportunity to expand American power and influence abroad. They envisioned an imperial America and the dawn of Empire. Of course it was never phrased that way.

Our attention shifted from Moscow as we let it collapse into anarchy. We stood by as the Soviet nuclear arsenal was held by assorted break away states. We were more concerned with regaining our influence in the oil fields of the middle east. We saw a concerted policy to reestablish American policy and power that had diminished following the fall of the Shah of Iran.

We increased ties with the Saudis. We supported Iraq as they fought Iran to a stalemate. That support included chemical and conventional weapons.

As Iraq moved to occupy the power vacuum left in the region by the Soviet collapse we pulled our support and treated our former proxy as a rogue power.

Then came the first Gulf War. We established a presence in the Arab monarchies that continues to this day. We supported the opposition in Afghanistan to the Soviet occupation then abandoned them following the pull out. The result was the Taliban.

As we kept a military presence in the region we saw the rise of groups like Al Qaeda. .

We blasted through the nineties oblivious to what we had wrought. We were too busy making money to see what was coming. Dissident voices were ignored. America was engaged in the first battles of the culture war that is currently crushing the gains of the last one hundred and twenty years.

A two term President was hounded and vilified by the GOP. Clinton was eventually impeached by a Republican House who knew it would never clear the Senate. Political theater as policy was now a tool of the burgeoning right. A Texas Governor was poised for a run at the office held by his father.

In the background we saw the religious right seize the primary process of the GOP. They allied with those who were the products of twenty years of the Southern Strategy. These "conservatives" establishment conservationism replacing it with discredited strong States and weak Federal government point of view. In essence they rejected views and lessons learned since the Civil War. Any who disagreed were cast aside as secularists. As Un American. As haters waging war on Christianity. These new Republicans pushed the party to the right. They were unforgiving. They viewed compromise, the lifeblood of a republican form of government as surrender.

Under George W.Bush we saw a surplus squandered. Tax cuts for the wealthy. The acceptance of the myth of the job creators. We saw a Republican controlled House and Senate rubber stamp prolifigate spending. Vice President Chaney famously said, deficits don't matter.

We saw the Neo-Cons, now in power make their move to establish American dominance at the end of a gun.

During the Cuban Missile Crisis as cold warriors were calling for a first strike against Cuba, Robert Kennedy remarked that America doesn't strike first. That's not who we are.

In the first Administration of the twenty-first Century we saw that ideal crushed and swept aside.

September 11, 2001 we saw the attack on America, live on TV. We saw the Pentagon smoking. We saw the wreckage of an airliner smoldering in a Pennsylvania field. We watched, live, the collapse of the twin towers of the World Trade Center.

The world was with us. NATO invoked Article 5 of the charter for the first time. That states an attack on one is an attack on all. the terrorist strike was identified as being planned and directed from Afghanistan. We attacked with NATO support and pushed the Taliban out of power.

Then the Bush Administration began banging the drums of war turning to Iraq.

Iraq was bottled up. Yet it was portrayed, falsely, as collaborating on the September 11 attacks. The Bush Administration knew this wasn't true. They portrayed Iraq as on the verge of having a nuke to use on us or Israel. They also knew this wasn't true.

The new Bush doctrine was The United States would strike first if we felt endangered. This abandoned two centuries of US policy that war should be a last resort. It diminished the role of diplomacy in favor of expanded military options.

When George H.W. Bush decided to invade Kuwait in response to Iraqi aggression he did so with the backing of the United Nations and the Arab League. There was a coalition of States from the region to push Iraq out of Kuwait.

When his son decided to launch an unprovoked attack on Iraq there were few who joined in the ensuing war. The partners were few and the contribution small when compared to the size of American deployment.
We also struck first.

The war did not divide the nation like Vietnam did a generation earlier. You can than a excellent public relations push through the media by the Bush Administration. The public had been convinced by the selected use of leaks and released intelligence to paint a threat where there was none.

The right wing rallied around the war wrapped in the flag. Any not on board were demonized as soft on terrorism. Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld called those opposed appeasers. He went there recalling the specter of a Hitler unleashed on Europe. This was the first time since Vietnam my loyalty and patriotism had been questioned for not falling in line.

I was enraged by that.

Those of us that saw through the charade that was presented as fact were vilified as cowards and anti American. I heard the same flawed arguments directed at us from Vietnam. We were undermining the war effort. We were not patriotic. We were a de facto fifth column giving comfort and hope to the enemy.We hated America and the troops.

Well, I decided I put up with the love it or leave it shit once before. Not this time.

Almost immediately we saw just how unprepared we were for this fight. We saw how badly the plan unraveled.

We went in with far too few troops for the mission.  We did not have the troops to maintain security after we eliminated what police forces that were there. We allowed the welcome to turn into resentment and hatred. Sectarian violence exploded as there was nothing in place to do the basic operations a citizenry expects from the government. Food. Water. Power. Safety.

Our troops were poorly equipped. There was a shortage of body armor. The Humvees were unarmored and quickly became targets. We were enmeshed in a struggle for power between factions that had simmered for decades under Saddam.

We reallocated resources from Afghanistan to Iraq.

America squandered the world's goodwill, sympathy and support.

Here at home there was growing opposition to the war. People like me who had been quiet since the Sixties became reanimated.

In 2004, Bush nearly lost to John Kerry showing how unpopular his policies had become. Bush misread the election results and saw a mandate where none existed. With his radical Republican allies he sought to dismantle Social Security. He had his ass handed to him. His domestic policies were met with stiff opposition. In the 2006 midterms the GOP lost the House and Senate.

During this America saw our troops returning to a underfunded and unprepared VA. Troops were sent on multiple deployments due to there not being a military large enough to carry out the assigned missions. Under Bush we saw how the military is treated by the GOP. Fights over proper funding of the VA. Ignoring the plight of our troops as they tried to reenter society.

All during this the far right wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross attacked those Americans not in lockstep with the agenda as Un American. Michelle Bachman suggested members of Congress be investigated as to whether they were true Americans.

The Bush Administration carried the wars off the books as we saw record spending. For the first time in our nation's history we cut taxes as we went to war. Wall Street was unwatched as it turned the economy into a casino.

The economy crashed. Bush put together a package to bail out banks and investment firms. An aid package was put together to save the last of our major manufacturing base,the auto industry. These moves came at the end of his two terms.

The day Barack Obama took office he was blamed for all the debt accrued in the previous eight years.

Since the election of the first black President we have seen America sink into a vicious, far right conspiracy fueled quagmire.

We see Republican members of the House and Senate reject science. We see them declare law must be based on Christian principles. The President has been assailed by blatantly racist theories. His policies have been obstructed. It is a clear case of politics over the well being of the nation.

They are attacking the old, the poor, women and students. The nation is forced to turn it's back on those in need. The nation is depicted as split between takers and makers. No job? Lazy. Women are too stupid to make decisions regarding their health and futures so the state must do it for them. Christianity is under attack. Science is a liberal plot. Education indoctrinates a hatred of God. People go state to state looking for the best welfare. Ensuring healthcare is tyranny. Gays and independent women have destroyed America.

I can not remember a time when sanity was under attack from so many sides.

Like I said I will not be called a traitor for my beliefs.

To top everything off, I am bi polar. With this disease comes anger. At times it is overwhelming. Part of the way I am surviving, with no healthcare, is directing it into something constructive. I oppose the destruction of this nations ideals by a vocal, uninformed, delusional minority.

So I have become active. I feel the anger and passion I had as I opposed the status quo in the sixties. We ended a war and brought down a presidency. We pushed America towards it's promise lit by the 18th century revolution.

Hell yes I'm angry. It's a burning white hot anger fueled by injustice and nurtured by my disease. An anger I am cursed with that I use to stand and say no. No farther.  My hyper periods give me energy to fight. My depressive periods gives me the quiet to eventually gather my thoughts. I may be a voice in the wilderness but, I am empowered by the belief that someone wants to know where we are. And where we are going.
A sense of purpose. Watch out. I'm not going away.






Thursday, January 16, 2014

Principle over people? The GOP in action.

            The Senate Republicans are doing a filibuster in the drive kill the Unemployment Insurance Extension. These Senators are claiming this is a principled stand to prevent sloth and dependency from claiming the jobless in it's cold socialist grasp.

Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) said if you continue to pay people who aren't working, they won't look like a job. He is continuing the idea that the unemployed are on an extended vacation and partying their asses off on that $250.00 check. I mean paying rent, utilities, buying food and fuel for the car leaves a lot of discretionary spending.money. Some feel drug tests are needed. Hell, you can't buy a bag for $250 let alone what's left after life preservation.

The Senate Republicans are stressing this is a matter of principle. We can't afford it without offsetting cuts. As usual these cuts will be made to other parts of the safety net. Never do any of the perks for the wealthy come under the Republican budget ax.

The GOP mindset is UI causes dependency on the dole and discourages finding work. They actually feel the small amount of money one receives is barely enough to keep body and soul together. After all those who aren't wealthy will become addicted to getting money for nothing. It doesn't matter to collect one has to be looking for work.

This extension was signed into law under G.W.Bush when unemployment was 5.6%. Under Bush it was renewed with no problems. Killing this program when unemployment is still over 7% is unprecedented. It is devastating to those long term unemployed. It's not as if they have savings left. It's not like they're lounging around the house.

When Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) was talking about why he was opposed to the current bill he spoke of better matching jobs with those in need of jobs. He mentioned there were a 100,000 open jobs in Ohio and 4000,000 unemployed. He accidentally highlighted there are four people for every job.

When the GOP talks of principle we know they are ready to slam the needy again. Never are programs that benefit the wealthy ever put at risk. The Senate Republicans defend all tax loopholes for the rich as they vilify the poor. The bloated Defense budget is sacrosanct.

This is an election year. if the unemployed haven't starved and lost everything they need to push these heartless lizard brained bastards out into the cold, cruel world. Send them packing and show their billionaire backers America is not for sale. We reject the serfdom being forced on us.

The ballot box is the key. Vote!