The Pattern Of The Roberts Court: Is More Evil On The Horizon?

Hobby Lobby May Just Win The Right To Wage More Of The War On Women
Hobby Lobby May Just Win A New Battle In The War On Women

There seems to be a pattern with the current Supreme Court.  It is widely known it is 5-4 Conservative, but the third branch of government was designed to be non-partisan and rule objectively on cases where the Constitution is in question.   To balance out the obviously partisan big decisions, the lesser of two evils in minor cases is decided in favor of a liberal cause or idea.  For instance, Yesterday,

the court limited some of the EPA’s regulating power when it comes to stationary sources of greenhouse gasses, but preserved its regulation authority in most cases.

This week, the last of June, is traditionally when the Supreme Court hands down some of its biggest, most controversial rulings.  No progressive will forget the January, 2010 decision in favor of big money controlling elections with the Citizens United Verdict.  Showing its “diversity,” in June, 2012, the Roberts Court shocked the Right by deciding the ACA was constitutional based on the Commerce Clause.  In June, 2013, the Court ruled DOMA unconstitutional, enraging the Religious Right once again.  But this was followed by invalidating the parts of the Voting Rights Act which mandated federal supervision of elections in states who were once part of the Confederacy.   In April, 2014, SCOTUS once again dealt a blow to democracy by allowing virtually unlimited campaign donations to candidates or causes with the McCutcheon v Federal Election Commission decision.

By deciding in favor of the EPA’s power to control unfettered pollution, SCOTUS sided with “liberal ideals” of keeping our air semi-breathable.   But on the horizon are two potentially disastrous decisions for President Obama.

Neither appear too propitious.  The first, Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores & Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp v. Sebelius will decide if under the ACA,

private businesses have the right to exercise their freedom of religion either under the Constitution or the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and if so, whether the contraceptive mandate violates that religious freedom.

The next case   National Labor Relations Board v. Noel Canning  pertains to Presidential Appointments: This pending verdict may be…

…a decision against President Obama’s recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

If history is any indicator, it seems these next two decisions will be ruled in favor of conservatives. By padding their right wing leanings with some scant victories for liberals, they try to mask the pro-fascist attitudes of the majority of the highest court in the land.

Time To Stop Blaming The Wrong People For The VA Scandal

VA Secretary General Shinseki and President Obama
VA Secretary General Shinseki and President Obama

When Senator Bernie Sanders proposed a bill to substantially improve the quality of life for America’s heroes, our veterans, his intentions were to vastly enhance care and education. On February 27, 2014: A massive veterans legislative package that would have expanded a host of post-military benefits was sidelined after Senate Democratic backers failed to find enough support among their Republican colleagues.  This impressive and comprehensive bill rectified so many of the ills at the Veterans Administration. I encourage everyone to glance at the bill and then ask the journalists why is this not THE REAL ISSUE?

The GOP, the self-appointed party of patriots, claimed President Obama’s West Point Commencement address was received with tepid approval. Why? Because he spoke the truth? “America’s costliest mistakes have stemmed not from restraint but from rushing to armed adventures without thinking through the consequences, without building international support and legitimacy for our action, without leveling with the American people about the sacrifice required.”  Imagine if the address given by George W. Bush at that very same place in 2002 was as insightful, logical and considerate to the soldiers he stood before, many of them would not have become casualties of his poorly-planned wars.

The GOP Senators Who Never Side With Veterans
The GOP Senators Who Never Side With Veterans

Senator John McCain would entangle our military in dozens of wars if he had his way. Famous for being a POW, he has been voting repeatedly against his fellow veterans for years denying the needed funding for benefits. He was among the Republicans who voted against the measure. He and his fellow Arizona Republican, Senator Jeff Flake have some serious soul-searching to do after laying the blame on Secretary of the VA Shinseki and the Obama Administration.

Does anyone else see this pattern: the GOP votes against funding (embassy security and Veterans’ care) and an inevitable crisis ensues? Is everyone too distracted by these scandals to forget that Koch Industries and BP (to name a few) are given a pass to pollute while the far right science-deniers focus on  Vice President Gore’s audacity to live in a nice home? Perhaps if the Chris Matthews and Chuck Todds of the MSM would stop reading from Frank Luntz’s daily manifestos, the real villains would be held to account for the problems they create.

The Media Won’t Tell The Truth About Veteran’s Care

VA Secretary General Shinseki Shoukd Not Retire
VA Secretary General Shinseki Should Not Retire

General Eric K. Shinseki, a decorated four star general is currently in charge of a very over stressed Veterans’ Administration.  He is taking all the heat for the failure of VA Hospitals around the country. I was confused why Obama’s former adviser on environmental matters and CNN pundit, Van Jones would tweet,  If I were Shinseki, I would… get my resume in very good shape.  Why would a Democrat bash a man mercilessly hampered by the GOP’s efforts to sabotage everything Obama attempts?  Why would he buy into this charade parroted by media talking heads and surrender to the Right?  

Like so many pundits, Van Jones must have forgotten recent history, a tactic of Bush apologists.  Shinseki tried, mostly in vain,  to encourage the Bush Administration to act responsibly.  In 2003, General Shinseki warned the Bush Administration that victory in Iraq would require more troops than were being deployed for the invasion. Not only was his original assessment vindicated when President Bush announced the Surge in 2007, he warned there was a shortage of doctors and medical personnel in the VA that rendered the system incredibly ill-prepared for conflicts of that magnitude.  For instance, out of  84,000 Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder by VA, only half, about 42,000, had their disability claim approved by VA. 

Bush’s political appointees at the VA actively fought against mental health claims. His appointees also obstructed scientific research into the causes of Gulf War illnesses dating back 18 years to Operation Desert Storm and opposed medical research on treatment for 210,000 of those veterans.   In May 2007, Bush threatened to veto legislation that sought a 10 percent—$3.2 billion—increase, calling it too expensive. Bush proposed a 2 percent increase, far below what lawmakers and VA officials said was needed to treat a huge increase in traumatic brain injury and PTSD cases.  So that would certainly account for a short-staffed VA. Bush asserted he doubled the funding for the VA, but he failed to disclose the number of veterans seeking VA healthcare had doubled, from 2.7 million to 5.5 million!

When Bush broke his silence this past March, he referred to the brain injury as simply Post-Traumatic Stress, omitting  “Disorder” to minimize the severity of the condition. The refusal of the medicaid expansion continues to hurt vets in Red States where spiteful GOP governors choose to deny coverage for so many in need.  There are over 5,000,000 Americans who won’t get much-needed care, and roughly a quarter of a million are our war veterans.  If Congress allocated enough money to the care of our veterans they created with 13 years of war, this problem would not even exist. Ignoring veterans and needy Americans in favor of  the enrichment of corporations and millionaires is a tragic blemish on our history.  Support the troops doesn’t mean just support the WAR.  It means take care of our brave veterans for the rest of their lives, no matter what the cost. Secretary Shinseki is well-suited to fix these problems, but he needs the money to do it.

The Goal of Teaparty Insurrection Is Religious Armageddon

Recently, events have occurred which would indicate a perfect storm, which would help create the right wing fantasy of the Rapture.  Conditions for this “final judgement”  are ripe when you mix heavily armed anti-government insurrectionists, white supremacists with shotguns and Mormons who do not believe in the laws of the United States but believe Joseph Smith looked into a hat with a peep stone to translate scriptures from gold plates.  Culminating with the Blood Moon of Monday night’s lunar eclipse, fundamentalists believe we have achieved the perfect conditions for the Apocalypse. That’s the ultimate goal of the folks who have made life in America unlivable with the deplorable legislation they’ve enacted; they seek to destroy the environment, contaminate drinking water, eliminate the middle-class altogether and create a theocratic vision for America that would make Jefferson weep. This is the right-wing fringe element hard at work, making America just a little less civilized and a lot more crazy, where the paradise of the after-life is all we should desire because we’ve really screwed this life up royally.

TeaPartiers Form Their Own Militia

The now infamous rancher from Bunkerville, Cliven Bundy, says he does not believe in the U.S. Government. The situation outside his ranch has escalated to a point where the armed TeaPartiers have made federal agents nervous about potential casualties, which would certainly immortalize these lunatics and spark more domestic terrorism. Turning anti-government ranchers who advocate waging war on the federal government into heroes simply emboldens domestic terrorists to feel justified in murdering federal officials with self-righteous zeal.  Cliven identifies himself with ancestor Dudley Leavitt, who played a pivotal role in the Mountain Meadows Massacre.  Cliven is related to one of the original LDS combatants involved in that horrific event the Mormon church would love to forget.

Ironically, Cliven is in violation of one of the thirteen Articles of Faith.   The twelfth states:  We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law. I suppose Cliven must have missed Sunday School the day they went over Joseph Smith’s articles.  Bundy himself said he didn’t believe in the U.S. government’s law, yet clearly the religion he follows demands he abide by the laws of the land.  Over a century and a half before, Bundy’s Mormon ancestors, under the command of Brigham Young, carried out a massacre because the Federal Government attempted to enforce the laws of the United States.  Blaming the “Indians,” they brutally murdered 120 innocent settlers to make their point.  Cliven Bundy seemed to be following in their footsteps, and the U.S. government wanted no part of that.  Naturally, we aren’t getting the full story from mainstream media outlets.  Thankfully, the internet helps us connect with people from all points of view.

The local blog Let’s Talk Nevada  provides a much different, more organic perspective than we’ve seen from the Conservative media, who has literally made a hero out of this law-breaking, tax-evading rancher.  The author admonishes Federal Agents who have, for now, tacitly surrendered to this insurrection:

The Tea Party has eliminated the rule of law, militarized the Gold Butte region with armed civilian militias, saved those poor starving cows to wander the desert for inadequate food and water, enhanced our business climate with threats of violence, put us on the map of every nut with a gun who is itching to fight for “liberty and justice” AND established Cliven Bundy as the face of the Virgin Valley.  All in one week.

Imagine if this did escalate into a Ruby Ridge or Waco?  These folks would be considered martyrs for the cause of manufactured TeaParty rage.  The hate-groups,  angered by a “lawless” (a.k.a. black) president have been emboldened to act with  displays of  force, while the government can do little against this insane group of heavily-armed, outraged hypocrites.  In fact, since the 9/11 attacks,  the U.S. has had more deaths attributed to right-wing violence than Jihad.

Supporters of Bundy’s crimes offered to use their wives as human shields provoking federal agents.  These armed-TeaPartiers always seem to be a homogeneous group of white conservatives.  Like many fundamentalist Christians,  the LDS “faith”  believe(d) blacks were cursed until President Carter threatened to revoke their tax-exempt status in 1978. But in a strange turn of events, Glenn Beck is now urging protesters’ violent threats to cease and desist, (as perhaps he’s no longer comfortable backing a man of the polygamous FLDS sect of Mormonism)? It’s not as if Mormons positively ally themselves with the FLDS, who dominate the area around Mesquite, Nevada.  What’s more bizarre, Beck often compares his worldview with that of Martin Luther King Jr., because MLK would support a gun-crazed group of insurrectionists without question.

As this chaotic scene unfolded, three  innocent people in Kansas were gunned down as a result of hate from an extremist, white-supremacist.   Frazier Glenn Miller, the 73-year-old suspect in Sunday’s fatal shooting outside a Jewish Community Center near Kansas City, Mo., has a decades long record of virulent white supremacism and anti-Semitism.   The shooting is another example of the influence of the pro-Second Amendment crowd over those who harbor hate.  In turn, these loons are then emboldened to act as it is extremely easy to acquire weapons and ammo in this country.  It seems the more into “God” and religion a group is, the more they are into the procurement of violence through firearms.  I have a feeling this will not change until the people of the United States realize religion holds our society in a very medieval state of ignorance, superstitious fear and paranoia.

Not One Law Republicans Passed Has Helped America In Over Forty Years

The GOP is against any positive progress for America
The GOP is against any positive progress for America

December 2, 1970 was the last time a Republican created something that benefits the greater good of society. Seriously, it’s been over forty years since any Republican has successfully enacted legislation that is based on scientific data, also known as reality. Richard M. Nixon created the EPA in 1970 which marks the last time the party behaved responsibly by utilizing data from climate scientists and attempting to clean up our environment.  Their actions ever since have been an attempt to pollute indiscriminately.

Everything the GOP stands for is rooted in religiously-based discrimination of some sort.  Whether they are quashing the rights of women, the poor and minorities or relinquishing the rights to drink clean water and breathe healthy air, the GOP is always on the wrong side of history. They claim trickle down economics is the magical way the job-creator fairies instinctively share their wealth. Profit-gorging corporations care only about their coveted bottom line: earnings for the shareholders. They are not concerned with the middle class, as companies like Walmart have created the working poor as the new normal. The laws they’ve passed are unimaginably awful.

On April 1, 2014 the Supreme Court handed corporations unlimited political power by cementing the idea that more money equals more speech. The five conservative Justices in the Supreme Court have ruled twice in favor of selling our democracy to the highest bidder. Money equals speech, (and)  some people have more speech than others. It codifies oligarchy. It creates a free speech caste system. The highest bidder is also, unfortunately, the most rooted in theological doctrine supplanting a secular constitutional government.  Chief Justice Roberts actually said: Ingratiation and access … are not corruption,” he wrote, quoting Citizens United.  Bribery, in other words, has no impact on a legislator’s actions.  Because no one has ever succumbed to bribery, right, Scalia? 

Biblical Creationism is favored over scientific evolution. Mandatory prayer and religious mottos like In God We Trust are proudly displayed in secular institutions like public schools.   Mississippi’s Governor Bryant, enlightened by Old Testament-driven hate, is making it legal to discriminate against homosexuals openly! Other Red States are desperately trying to sanction laws very similar to those in Russia, who proudly boast of their anti-gay propaganda.  There is actually a Minnesota candidate who has gotten into politics to ensure his daughter doesn’t have to learn about that alarmingly factual scientific theory of evolution, which has no place in the Biblical book of fantasy (which is the basis of all Republican legislation).   If you look at the campaign the Republicans have launched against the scientific community’s consensus on the dire nature of man-made climate change, you’ll see a concerted effort to shun reality and promulgate illogical fantasy like that in the Bible.

Without even touching on the denial of racism and sexism, one can see very clearly how rooted in fantasy and lies the Republican platform has become.  It is fashionable to disregard evidence, fact and data to promote the agendas of large corporations who care nothing for the citizens of this country.  With 5/9 of the Supreme Court on board to sanction deception to the American people, we are truly in a situation where everyone MUST pay attention or our country will go the way of theocracies like Afghanistan.  Income inequality will only worsen as our situation on this planet becomes more perilous with increasing weather disasters. Politics is local, and electing Democrats who are not religious shamans would be a great step in the right direction in this 2014 election year.

 

Even When The GOP Tries To Vilify The Poor, Americans Still Care For Their Fellow Citizens

It’s astounding we have such a tremendous number of homeless Americans in this country, when America is still the richest country on the planet.    So many of our homeless are veterans,  who number 75,000 on any given night.  Greater than 5% of our homeless are actually veterans who fought in Iraq or Afghanistan.  We often hear of the “fraud” that’s uncovered when an investigation is launched into a suspicious case, where a random person pretends to be homeless, and people actually admonish you for giving to the sad person at a stoplight because they’re convinced the stories on Fox News are true.  Everyone is gaming the system, if you ask the right wing media.  Everyone is a fraud.

This is the mentality of the me, me,me Republican party and the Christian Fundamentalist movement that has dominated our politics.   The Dominionists were the ones calling for a government shutdown rather than honor the debt already accrued by the country, they are the ones who think charity is no longer necessary for a moral society.  The wealthy needn’t worry about the “eye of the camel.” Poverty (is) seen as the result of moral failure.  Rendering unto Caesar (the Government) (is) no longer the moral thing to do. The mentality that it’s the poor person’s fault they don’t have a home or a job has been promoted ever since Ronald Reagan’s Morning in America has eviscerated the middle class and increased income inequality.   The statistics tell a different tale.  Poverty is a real problem in America and being a homeless family is more common than we’d like to think.

Homeless Woman: Arrested for child endangerment for leaving kids in the car during a job interview
Homeless Woman: Arrested for child endangerment for leaving kids in the car during a job interview

Shanesha Taylor, a homeless mother of two children: a six month old and two year old, was forced to leave her children in a car unattended while she was at a job interview in the city of Chandler, Arizona.  Upon hearing a cry from the car, a passer-by called the police.  Shanesha had no choice but to leave her kids alone while interviewing for a job.  Shanesha, like so many Americans, are living out of their cars and need a source of income.   Devastated at being charged with child endangerment, she faces jail time and losing custody of her children.  The story made the news and this was the most fortunate thing to happen to this woman living in poverty.

Amanda Bishop, a twenty-four year old fellow citizen, was moved by the heart-wrenching police photo.  She set up a fund on behalf of Shanesha  that has raised over $71,000 as of April 1st.  Naturally, on the website, there were those who thought she was undeserving, endangering her children.  But thankfully, there were enough people out there with a sense of compassion and decency in their hearts to give to a fellow human being in need.   It’s obvious there are far too many people now considered the working poor who were once considered middle-class.  The cost of living has gone up while wages have gone down.   With the exportation of so many jobs with unfavorable trade agreements lowering the amount of money per hour a worker can earn, people have to hold down two or more jobs just to subsist.

It’s nice to see people behaving like human beings and coalescing to help someone in need.  It’s time these theocratic “Christian” conservatives stop promoting unfair stereotypes and discouraging charitable giving.  People need programs like SNAP, Medicaid and Head Start to be funded more in times of economic crisis, not cut to ribbons like budget-makers in the GOP would like.  Congressman Paul Ryan has been absolutely savage in his cruel budget cuts that hurt the poor while giving sickening tax breaks to giant corporations.  Austerity is never the answer when people are suffering.  It’s time people elect representatives that will help the poor and fix the income inequality that creates poverty in a country of such wealth.  Democrats have always been the party who enacts legislation that benefits the majority of the population, especially women and children who make up the majority of the poor.  Stop electing Republicans and we’ll improve America for all Americans, not just the one percent.

America: Where The NRA Is More Respected Than The NOAA

Americans still doubt global warming is occurring, which isn’t surprising, as far too many Americans believe the earth is only 6,000 years old.  Even though 97 percent of experts agree climate change is happening and we humans are causing it, Americans remain under the impression that the question is still unsettled?  These numbers suggest that disinformation circulated by the fossil fuel industry, utility companies and their political/media allies has successfully CONFUSED the public about the truth of global warming.  Spreading the perception that scientists are still undecided is the key to their strategy.   When the government adopts a policy of deception and disinformation about settled science, we have a problem that cannot be solved.

Since 2012 was the hottest year ever recorded for the contiguous United States, and subsequently a warmer atmosphere holds more moisture, catastrophic events such as the massive fatal mudslide in Washington State will be the norm.  Officials claimed, following the Stillaguamish river valley catastrophe, the event was a total surprise.  In reality, scientists have warned of the ill-effects of excessive logging  which can result in immeasurable damage due to slides for sixty years.   The United States, as well as the rest of the world, will be forever changed by rising sea levels due to accelerated melting of the ice caps and the disappearance of permafrost in the polar regions. The view of North America is absolutely chilling, as this is the predicted model by the end of this century.  Most coastal cities and entire states (Florida) are literally under water. Most forecast models are rendered obsolete when the acceleration of CO2 (in parts per million) levels exceed the predictions every year.  Man-made catastrophic weather-related incidents are far different than “acts of god” like earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

20140326-090316.jpg
America’s coastline is very different in the future. Looks like Florida has no ground to stand on.

As a means of distraction from the dangers we face, the Right wages an imaginary war against a “tyrannical president” who’s trying to take away your guns. By obsessing over an issue close to the hearts of TeaPartiers, the conservative-owned media engages in mass distraction from real threats like rising tides, flammable tap water and deforestation.  There is pathetically scant regulation of the guns, where often no ID is needed to purchase firearms. The gun-rights advocates campaign against firearm registries across the U.S. which makes it very easy to procure instruments designed to kill. Unfortunately, the death-profiteers of the NRA are held in higher esteem than the scientists (accurately predicting rising ocean levels) according to the way our elected officials legislate.

The nominee for Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy was rejected purely on his stance on gun safety.  The NRA said Murthy’s “blatant activism on behalf of gun control” attracted their attention.  Apparently, calling out the dangers of gun ownership is too controversial for a society that is rendering the very planet our children will inherit uninhabitable?  Gun violence, including suicide, kills some 30,000 Americans every year, about the same number as car accidents. Cars are highly regulated for health and safety; guns, barely. So anyone who acknowledges reality and FACTS is shunned by the conservative led majority of the House because we can’t face the reality that the proliferation of guns has awful consequences.  Isn’t it ironic the same group that tries to conceal factual evidence and data from climatologists and the NOAA are the very same people who bury their heads in the sand over the regulation of guns?

Lacking the free flow of veracious information, a democracy and the government’s accountability become impossible. Willfully misleading the public on man-made climate change has been funded by dark money entities. Siding with an insidiously evil, profit-driven industry like the NRA is a perfect accompaniment to those who have made a career out of deceiving the American people in the name of selfish greed.

20140327-092851.jpg
The staggering statistics showing the gun-murder problem in the United States

The United States is an anomaly in the developed world. Not only are we preoccupied with gun ownership, but sadly, roughly fifty percent of our elected officials mandate the deception of our own children by teaching them biblical fiction as science. As expected, these are the same people who refuse to regulate the rampant pollution by their corporate sponsors while allowing access to guns by those very same children. It is safe to say the catastrophic destruction caused by climate change will not be alleviated by more guns.  Even without the potential catastrophe of climate change, anyone who thinks their arsenal of guns can match the power of our military is pretty darned delusional.

Our only hope for a sane government focused on the big picture, is by electing more Democrats to every office possible, starting with local political elections. Giving power to the party of the people is the only way to prevent the corporate destruction that is assured if Republicans continue to govern. Malevolent misanthropes should not be in charge of governing people. People who like government and believe in it should be the ones elected to office. Please urge as many people you can to vote in these midterm elections this year. Our lives depend on it.

The current 3rd Congressional District of Nevada, Rep. Joe Heck (@RepJoeHeck on twitter), cares absolutely nothing for the environment, job creation, relief for the poverty-stricken and education for his constituents.  This is why I am supporting Erin Bilbray for my House Representative.  Not only has she been a champion on women’s health, pediatric health and job creation, but she has actually worked for the NOAA, so she is extremely devoted to utilizing the massive solar and wind energy sources of the Southwestern United States.  I urge my fellow Nevadans to get out this fall and vote for a candidate who understands solar power is much more important than the power wielded by the NRA.