What Do You Do When You Already Know What’s Going to Happen?

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Usually when a President (note the capital letter) calls for the networks to open some airtime for him to address the nation, there is a tremendous interest from the public. I remember back when President Bush I announced the invasion of Iraq, President Clinton’s confession of his affair with Monica Lewinsky, President Obama’s announcement of the killing of Osama bin Laden, or President Bush II’s commencement of the Second Gulf War in Afghanistan following 9/11, just to name a few. All of these prime-time speeches were monumental, they Meant Something.

For the first time in decades, I have absolutely no interest in what this resident in the White House has to say, tonight or at any time. Perhaps its because of the 7000-plus documentable lies that he has told over the past two years, including the latest doozies that “all the previous presidents have told me they wished they’d built a wall (no goddamn prior President has told this asshole that)” or that “the people not working/not getting paid are behind me on this (union leaders have roundly derided that statement as false)” or “the people are calling the White House switchboard, telling me they want the wall (guess what gets shut down during a Government Shutdown, you moron? The White House switchboard).”

You might say that “politicians lie,” but this asshole has taken it to unprecedented levels. When you absolutely have no trust in what someone has to say, then why do you even want to hear them drone on about an issue when you could be watching The Big Bang Theory, Anderson Cooper 360 or, for fuck’s sake, even Hannity? But there’s a further issue at hand here – why watch it when you already know what’s going to happen?

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Normally when a President calls one of these prime-time addresses to the nation, it is a seismic moment that the President wants to calm a nation, offer them solace or explain to the country the reasons for a drastic event that is about to take place. The address from Orange Foolius tonight? It has all the drama of an episode of Nicky, Ricky, Dicky and Dawn without the “charming” children to try to make it entertaining.

Here’s how tonight’s address from Orange Foolius is going to go:

Scenario 1

The dotard gets on the screen and simply repeats many of the already disproven lies that he or one of his sycophantic minions has been spewing over whichever airwaves they can reach. Everyone has seen Chris Wallace’s dismemberment of Press Conwoman Sarah Huckster Suckabee on Fox “News” over the weekend – where Wallace basically fact-checked the brainless rube live on the air for her falsehoods – or Jake Tapper basically laughing in the face of “Acting” Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney when Mulvaney with a straight face tries to say that Orange Foolius hasn’t debased politics with his previous actions. This list is a long one, including that there is an “invasion” on the southern border (crossings are at their lowest point in years), that drugs are coming across (drugs aren’t hauled by “mules” crossing the border, they are more likely to enter at sea ports) or that “illegals” are rushing across the unprotected border (most “illegal” immigration is done through overstaying visas, not crossing on the southern border), among others.

One of the most brilliant ideas I’ve heard (and I certainly wish I could remember where I originally saw it simply to give accreditation) is to put a soundtrack on Orange Foolius’ shit spewage tonight. Put a laugh track that activates whenever he starts bragging about himself or what he’s done; have a slide whistle or a “BBOOOINGGG!” sound effect when he tries to pass off an obvious lie as a truth; go with a buzzer sound effect when he tries to blame someone else (AKA the Democrats, Nancy Pelosi or Chuck Schumer) for the Government Shutdown because HE SAID HE WAS TAKING RESPONSIBILITY FOR IT. Feel free to add your own sound effects because A) it would make for a much more entertaining speech, and B) because we’re not going to get anything substantive out of it.

Scenario 2

Unfortunately, this one is serious…and unnerving.

Orange Foolius takes the mic tonight to announce that he’s calling a National Emergency at the border, immediately ordering military troops, engineers and financing from the military to pay for all activities on the border, including the insanity of a “wall” that, according to “conservatives,” will MAGICALLY shut down all border crossing and drug trafficking for the remainder of time!

If you don’t see the seriousness of this act, then you have problems. First off, to make such a declaration is one step from institution of Martial Law, which would allow a sitting president to suspend habeas corpus rights, use the military in manners that are prohibited in normal situations (the Posse Comitatus Act) and/or basically bring a fascist state to life. While “conservatives” jizz in their shorts over the potential for these things to become a reality, anyone who believes in a free society should be outraged.

If Orange Foolius calls for a National Emergency, he should be immediately impeached for illegal actions by an elected official. There is absolutely NOTHING that makes what is occurring on the border a “national emergency.” It has been going on for the last 70 years, since the close of WWII, when the States of America became the preeminent country in the world. When you build something that everyone wants a part of, that says you’re doing the right thing. To then take an action that would be so outstandingly stupid, not to mention illegal, would be…just what this asshole is known for.

This is not a situation that calls for a “national emergency” declaration. It is women and children, for the most part, fleeing for their lives over thousands of miles. It is families looking to be able to save themselves and start a new life under freedom rather than dictatorships (mostly created by U. S. government policies, but that’s a discussion for another time). And it is people actually looking to avoid being used by cartels and demagogues for illegal purposes.

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The Congress isn’t to blame in this situation. They did their jobs, in the last Congress, to pass a compromise piece of legislation that was initially acceptable for the jerkoff in the White House until Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh whipped his ass with a rolled-up copy of the National Review. The House, under the leadership of Pelosi, has done the job in this Congress (the Senate, under Yertle the Turtle, won’t bring the legislation to a vote because it would pass and embarrass Orange Foolius and, by extension, themselves). The person to blame is the one who said in December he would “own” the Shutdown…Orange Foolius himself.

When 9PM rolls around tonight, I’m not giving this asshole the privilege of my viewership. I can catch up with the “post-game” shows afterwards. Of the two scenarios above, however, Scenario 1 is most acceptable, although nothing will be done from it. If Scenario 2 actually occurs, however, then the Constitutional Crisis that has been discussed for the past two years will actually come to life…which side do you want to be on?

For the GOP, Call Me When Someone with Something to Lose Speaks Up

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In every analysis of the Republican Party and the dotard that leads them, the statistics say that their numbers are going down. Since the act of swearing in Orange Foolius in January, his overall approval has fallen in ALL 50 STATES, including those that he won in the November election handily (in Alabama, his approval has fallen 11%). Much of this is driven by the departure of independent and “swing” voters who migrate between the two parties, but there is also some eroding of support from those who align with the GOP, especially rural whites that haven’t seen the “winning” they were hoping for.

These numbers are noticed by those who bear the brunt of the idiot’s ravings, the Congress and state officials, whose ratings have cratered. Battered by the continued quagmire that Congress is – even though they have majorities in both bodies – these members of the GOP (in one of the most ridiculous statements that exist in the human vernacular) aren’t viewed as “conservative enough” and face backlash from the electorate. With this in mind, two of the stalwarts of the Republican Party in the Senate have chosen to resign rather than risk being rejected in the upcoming 2018 elections.

Last week, former President George Bush (II) blistered the current administration with a speech that called into question not only his abilities but the methods of leadership (nationalism) that Orange Foolius was trying to inflict on the country. Earlier this week, Tennessee Senator Bob Corker opened the exodus from the Senate by stating that he would not seek reelection in 2018. Then, in a stunning speech on the floor of the Senate where he stated that Orange Foolius was “debasing the nation,” Arizona Senator Jeff Flake also indicated that he would not seek reelection in what was expected to be a bruising fight (Corker did not face much threat of being “primaried”).

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Add in the current maverick streak from the senior Senator from Arizona, John McCain, and the nuanced and thought out positions of Maine Senator Susan Collins (also considering leaving the Senate), Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul (continuing the family tradition of being “Dr. No”) and Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse, you might believe that there is an uprising in the GOP that would pitch this jackass out on his plump ass along with the Confederacy of Dunces he has convened. For me, however, give me a call when someone in the GOP with something to lose actually speaks up against the fool that they say is their “leader.”

There’s a base statement that people must keep in mind whenever you hear someone speaking out against a particular subject. For lack of a better way to put it, the old gambling axiom of “What skin do you have in the game?” is precisely the thing to remember.

“Skin,” for those that aren’t up on that vernacular, is to have something at risk, usually something that is of a loss (sometimes significant) to you. In the gambling world, that usually entails some monetary wager. In this circumstance, however, it would mean having to put something on the line that would be greater than any monetary wager could ever be.

In the case of Flake, there was already plenty of evidence that he was going to have a very difficult time in getting through the GOP primary, let alone trying to beat a Democratic challenger and a revved-up opposition in a state that is supposedly shifting to the left. Flake also had previously spoken out against the current administration in the same passive aggressive manner in a book he had written, Conscience of a Conservative, which basically aired his grievances with Orange Foolius’ administration without mentioning him by name.

Corker, when he was first elected in 2006, said he would only serve two terms as a Senator, apparently employing the philosophy that if two terms was good for the President, it was good enough for a Senator. But there are other things that might be more appealing for the popular Tennessean, including a run at the Governorship in the Volunteer State. He also hasn’t ruled out being involved in government (on the state or national level) again in the future.

McCain’s story is well known by now. The veteran Senator, elected to his sixth term as the senior Senator from the Grand Canyon State just last year, was diagnosed earlier this year with a terminal brain tumor called a glioblastoma. Once diagnosed with the condition, patients have a usual life expectancy of 14 months, so it is obvious that, unless there are some Area 51-type secrets floating around Washington D. C., that McCain will not likely end his current term as Senator.

Although these three men (and we’ll get to Murkowski, Collins and Sasse in a moment) have served admirably for the past 12 years minimum, they have helped to create the issues that currently plague our nation. Corker was on the short list for the #2 seat on the GOP ticket with the Tangerine Nightmare and was one of the first legislators in D. C. to support him and his candidacy (the other, the Keebler Elf Jeff Sessions, received a cozy Attorney General appointment for licking his master’s boots). And other than his dramatic, Caesar-esque “thumbs down” vote on trashing the Affordable Care Act (the ACA or, to the simple minded, ObamaCare) this summer, McCain has supported the extreme rightward jerk of the GOP, especially after his drubbing by Bush II (and the neocons trashing of his reputation by insinuating he had an illegitimate black daughter) in 2000 and the resulting realization that he had to change or be steamrolled.

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Normally when you’ve completely fucked something up, you’re expected to stick around and fix it (often called the “Pottery Barn Rule” and made popular by then-Secretary of State Colin Powell in 2002 to Bush II prior to invading Iraq). But these three men are doing the exact opposite. Instead of trying to stick around and cure the ills that their previous actions have brought, they are supposedly going to be “liberated” by being able to vote their conscience (but note they didn’t say “oppose the current President and his actions”).

If you can name someone else who might actually tell Orange Foolius to go screw himself, I’m all ears. Right now, the GOP is like the person they elected, a flaccid chihuahua that has been defanged and declawed. While Murkowski and Collins (who was rumored to be potentially running for the governor of Maine until she shot that down earlier this month) have been a thorn in the side of Orange Foolius since he took office, they haven’t exactly been rabid opponents of the person WHO LEADS THEIR PARTY. With the right arm twisting, they could probably be coerced into the madness (note how, during the debate on the ACA, that both Maine and Alaska were targeted for “extra money” to try to sway the two Senators).

Some might say Sasse has the potential to be that Republican who can lead the party out of its nihilistic nationalism, but he is a first-term Senator that, should Breitbart editor Steve Bannon still be the Crypt Keeper when he comes around for re-election in 2020, will face one of his minions. Additionally, there’s just enough mystery about Sasse to still say he’s your typical, “screw you, I got mine” Republican who doesn’t look beyond anything but the party line (in 2016, he voted against the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, which would have given states block grants to fight opioid abuse and fund recovery programs).

Paul, who has gone over to the Dark Side in disavowing his libertarian roots in favor of staying in power in D. C. as a Republican (guess who is a frequent golf partner for the Hacker-in-Chief?), has no desire to buck the current administration. If he can get a few concessions that demonstrate he trying to castrate the current federal system, then he can claim his Ayn Rand fantasies are being implemented and still be admired by those who would rather watch Rome burn than build it up.

Absolutely nobody who has spoken out from the GOP has any “skin” in the game. Not one of these people previously mentioned has put their Congressional seat on the line, their reputation, or their years in what was once a party that championed business, trade and was anti-Communist (now it is isolationist, crapping its panties and dreaming of a fascist to save their totalitarian day). And there isn’t anyone currently among the crop of cephalopods – including the tortoise Mitch McConnell nor Paul “Eddie Munster” Ryan – who is showing any ability to step up and tell this administration “Enough,” as Flake lamely did in his Senate speech, especially elected officials like this.

It is time that someone – hell, a massive number of someones – assumed the role of an adult in the Republican Party as a whole and Congress for a start and looked to change things. There is something that Flake said that was spot on: “Regret because of the coarseness of our leadership…Regret for the compromise of our moral authority, and by our, I mean all of our complicity in this alarming and dangerous state of affairs. It is time for our complicity and our accommodation of the unacceptable to end.” It is time that the “adults” in the GOP revolt against the odiferous emanations that emit from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue like rancid flesh at a slaughterhouse. Or is it already too late for the party to be saved from the transformation into a fascist organization under the leadership of Bannon and his ilk?

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“TrumpCare” Is Dead – But We Should Fear What’s Next

Long ago in the States of America, Congress was a body that actually got some things done. They would battle it out on the floor of the House of Representatives or the Senate and, after discussing an issue thoroughly, would usually find some way to make it work for not only each party to save some face but for the people of the country to benefit from the decision. Unfortunately, with the polarization of the political process since the mid-1990s, that has become almost as unlikely as the sighting of Yeti on the Las Vegas Strip. Thus, the information rolling out of Washington D. C. on Monday night wasn’t surprising in the least.

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Late on Monday night, the Senate, and particularly Yertle the Turtle (AKA Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell), finally came to the realization that what they had fought against for almost a decade was all for naught. For all their complaining about the Affordable Care Act (or “ObamaCare” for simpletons), for all their protestations, for all the literal ink and digital bits spilled on the subject, they had nothing to provide – not one iota of an idea – that would solve the issue regarding health insurance in this country. They weren’t the only ones, however.

Earlier this year, the House tackled the issue as one that they could bamboozle the people of the States of America out of benefits while handing a huge chunk of cash to the wealthy in the nation. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, in his infinite wisdom and budget-wonkery, came up with a plan that “only” eliminated insurance from nearly 24 million people – the original “TrumpCare” or American Health Care Act (when the best you can come up with is only inserting one letter in the acronym, that probably should tell you that you’re going to have issues). It was only after pulling the bill off the table and rejiggering it (so that it only eliminated insurance for 23 million people) that the Freedom Caucus – those Tea Party bastards who didn’t think that the cuts hurt people enough nor go far enough to eliminate the ACA – came around and barely passed the bill through the House.

But McConnell would have none of that House BS. He decided he wanted to be the one to take responsibility for the AHCA with his own creation, called the Better Care Reconciliation Act. As such, he and a group of men – that’s right, despite health insurance having to cover women, not one woman was asked to be on the panel – wrote up a new bill that even other members of the GOP couldn’t see. Kentucky Senator Rand Paul even went on a hunt through DC attempting to find the group penning the piece of garbage that McConnell wanted to spin off, finally stopping when he couldn’t even find where they were writing it.

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McConnell proved to be about as flaccid on the issue as Ryan had been, unable to even draw in enough of his OWN PARTY to get the bill to the point of discussion on the floor of the Senate. Maine Senator Susan Collins protested over the cuts to Medicaid and the removal of protections for women (especially through Planned Parenthood); Paul stood against it because it was “ObamaCare-lite.” Then came the stunner:  Nevada Senator Dean Heller, facing reelection this fall and an angry electorate, said he wouldn’t vote for the bill due to the Medicaid cuts. After Utah Senator Mike Lee (like Paul, concerned that the new bill didn’t do enough to kill people) and Kansas Senator Jerry Moran (ditto) got on the “no” side – and with Arizona Senator John “Sorry I started this crap with nominating Palin” McCain out of action following a serious blood clot surgery – McConnell’s efforts to eliminate health insurance for millions went out the window.

With the failure of the Senate to even bring something to the table for discussion, we can honestly say that “TrumpCare” is done and that “ObamaCare” is still the law of the land. The Democrats shouldn’t be celebrating, however, as what comes next may be much worse than what they thought a “repeal and replace” would look like.

Orange Foolius himself, who during the Presidential campaign said that “repeal and replace” was a mandatory action to take, is now so desperate for something to hang his sorry excuse for election on that he wants to see the Congress simply repeal the ACA. This is an impossibility. Such a repeal has absolutely no chance in either body of Congress because they have constituents that they somewhat must listen to, and “starting from scratch” will have absolutely no support from the Democrats. The scary part of the possibilities is that the GOP and the conservatives – who claim to be “Christians” even though they go against every tenet that the Bible set out – now will gut the ACA further, leading to more misery for the people.

Believe it or not, conservatives, but the ACA is neither collapsing, imploding, or failing. In April, Gallup found that most of the citizens of this country – 55% – were supportive of the ACA. Since 2014, there had been a slow and steady improvement in the ACA, according to such “pinko” organizations as the Kaiser Family Foundation, Standard & Poor’s and the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office. So why do there appear to be problems now? Because the conservative SOBs have cut off funding for the ACA.

Republicans weakened the market because they repealed provisions that were supposed to aid in supporting the market, such as the fine for those who didn’t have coverage or the taxes on medical devices and “Cadillac” insurance programs that would have kept them stable (not very good ideas, but we’ll get to that in a minute). In not fully funding the program, the GOP has tried to guarantee that the ACA will fail.

Now what do we look forward to?

The good side would be the realization by everyone in the GOP – from the dogcatcher in Podunk, AK to the cretin who sits in the most powerful seat in the world using his dinky digits to plunk out missives to a mass of followers that cannot comprehend anything beyond 140 characters – that it is time to work with their loyal opposition on a deal that BOTH can live with. The ACA was entirely based on the plan that former Massachusetts Governor and Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney used (well) in that state. It was only after Barack Obama latched onto the idea that many in the GOP went against something they had been working on since the Nixon administration, something that was a theme throughout the eight years Obama was President.

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The Dems got to give up some of the taxation on the “Cadillac” plans, for example. These plans, which in some cases give the wealthy the opportunity to have a doctor on call 24/7, were hard earned through their labors and shouldn’t be punished in the slightest. The GOP would have to give up the notion that health insurance is a business that the “free market” should determine all aspects of medical issues; in this case, it should be determined by the government so that it is fair for all. There are many other areas, but the essential point in this scenario is that the buffoons who occupy the halls of power in this country should work together instead of continually damaging the country with their polarization.

The bad side? Orange Foolius gets his entire repeal (which isn’t going to happen due to the fact that 1) it would take 60 votes to push any legislation through the Senate, and 2) that the GOP doesn’t want to be responsible for killing Granny) and everything goes to Hell. The repeal of the ACA would cast the entirety of the health insurance system into chaos, send shockwaves through Wall Street and send medical costs skyrocketing. Most importantly, however, it would devastate families who would have coverage ripped away, families that for the first time were able to visit a doctor for care rather than the Emergency Room.

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The people of this country must get used to the idea that they look after their fellow man also. For those who grouse about the “increase in taxes” for the ACA, well…there’s always the increase in your own insurance costs for paying for those Emergency Room visits for a cold. Then there’s the factor that it is inherent in the human condition to help those less fortunate than you, not “I got mine…screw you.”

There’s plenty of growing up that needs to be done across the board. The two ruling parties need to fix something rather than destroy it. The people of the States of America better back up their talk about being a “Christian” nation, otherwise the hypocrisy is ripe. But the problem that we face is, now that “TrumpCare” is dead and the ACA is not being funded by the GOP, what is going to happen in the future, working together or trashing the country?

Rather Than Destroy Obama’s Signature Legislation, Fix It

While much of the world has been casting their eyes towards Orange Foolius and the latest adventures of his Confederacy of Dunces, the Congress has tried to inch forward quietly with legislation that would hammer virtually everyone in the States of America who earns less than $1 million a year. You don’t believe me? Let’s look at the ledger, shall we?

When looking at the current Administration or the GOP-led majorities in Congress, we’ve seen desperate attempts to either destroy the legacy of Orange’s predecessor, Barack Obama, or simply the cruelty of the GOP looking to enact their draconian ideas. Of most importance has been what many call the signature legislation of the Obama Administration, the Affordable Care Act (or “ObamaCare” to simpletons), which allowed for millions to have insurance they previously didn’t have before and others to have arguably better insurance. This has been one comedy of errors after another since the GOP has tried to run the ball.

First were the attempts by Speaker of the House Paul Ryan to gather his cats (fellow GOP members of the House of Representatives) and push a bill that, instead of helping people, would have cast 24 million people out of health insurance (and let’s make a BIG distinction here…we are talking health insurance, not health care…they are two different things, one paying for a product and the other the product provided, which is pretty good because of the quality doctors we have in this country). In their infinite wisdom, Ryan and his gaggle of GOP gangsters would have made sure that any money saved from the changes (approximately $337 billion over 10 years) went to those who needed it most: wealthy millionaires who didn’t need the extra money.

That attempt initially failed – and rather spectacularly – because there was a faction of the GOP, the House Freedom Caucus (about the most oxymoronic three words other than “little big man”), that felt the new legislation, known as the American Health Care Act, didn’t go far enough in eradicating the ACA. After getting over the embarrassment of not even being able to bring the legislation to the floor, Ryan twisted some arms and rejiggered some numbers a couple months later (“HEY! LOOK! We brought the uninsured down to 23 million!”) and was able to cajole enough people to pass the House version of the AHCA, to much fanfare at the White House and the public blessing of Orange Foolius.

That House bill, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said, was DOA when it reached his chamber. The GOP Senators were going to “begin from nothing” and come up with their own piece of legislation, Yertle said, and it would look far different than what had been proposed by the House GOP. Even the Orange One seemed to be on board with McConnell’s efforts, remarking how the House version was “mean” and for the Senate to come up with “more money” to make it kinder. Instead, McConnell – ensconced in a secret location that even members of the GOP not working on the health insurance plan had no access to, let alone Democratic members of the Senate – looked into his cauldron and pulled out of the ooze…virtually the same plan that the House had put up, but with NEW rejiggered numbers that brought the uninsured count down to “only” 22 million people.

At this moment, the Senate health insurance plan is about as popular as a herpes-infested whorehouse. After the full CBO breakdown was revealed, GOP Senators like Dean Heller of Nevada, Susan Collins of Maine and Rand Paul of Kentucky have said they cannot accept this bill (for differing reasons; Paul has said he doesn’t want “ObamaCare Light,” which is a fair argument at the minimum). This is critical because, in losing even three votes from his own GOP caucus, McConnell cannot move any legislation forward in a Senate broken down by a 52-48 margin.
While McConnell retreats into his shell to protect himself, here’s a suggestion: rather than destroy Obama’s signature legislation, how about looking for ways to fix it?

When it was enacted seven years ago (and seriously GOP…you couldn’t come up with anything over the term of the Obama Administration as a counter?), the ACA was an audacious stab at solving a complex problem that, in reality, is one that cannot fully be solved. Health insurance isn’t a requirement, like car insurance (which is also flouted by many, but I digress), and when people are initially forced into buying something – even if it helps them – there’s a great deal of reluctance. As time has passed, however, there are several areas of the ACA that have been tremendously good for people, such as the ability of those with pre-existing conditions to obtain affordable insurance and covering young people on a family’s plan up to the age of 26. Even with these good parts, however, it is obvious that there needed to be some tinkering with the ACA (such as having 80-year olds paying for pre-natal care – yes, I KNOW how insurance works…spreading the costs amongst a larger pool…but not everyone is that knowledgeable).

First off, instead of cutting funding off to the ACA and falsely saying “it’s collapsing” (as Orange Foolius is using his dinky digits to type out over Twitter), FUND THE DAMN THING. Let’s see what works and what doesn’t, what needs to be changed and what needs to be eliminated. It is only through complete funding (and, to be honest, the insurance companies need the stability to be able to set their costs) that the ACA can be fully and fairly judged.

Second, look at other options. I personally think – and have stated on many occasions – that it is time to enact “Medicaid for All.” Under this plan, the Medicaid program on the federal level would be expanded so EVERYONE has a base of insurance. Want to have a yearly checkup? You got it. How about a basic test for disease? No problem. Such a base of simple medical should NEVER be denied anyone simply because they can’t pay for it (and really – if you listen to the doctors – more serious conditions could be prevented if caught in basic medical care).

So, what about the insurance industry? Before you go weeping for them, we’ve got them covered. If people want to have “more” medical insurance – perhaps to cover Tiffany’s rhinoplasty or pay for Daddy’s Viagra so he can chase the secretary around the desk – then they can buy plans conceived by the insurance industry to cover a multitude of things. Businesses could use these expanded plans as a recruitment tool for bringing in prospective employees – people could factor those expanded insurance plans into their decisions as to where to work.

This solves many of the aspects of health insurance (remember, health care is already there and very good) that are under debate. People can take their base insurance Medicaid wherever they go, thus eliminating the issue of going across state borders and losing one’s insurance. If a person or a business wants or needs more coverage (for whatever reason), the insurance companies are there to give it. Costs? Without the crippling competition, medical costs would come down, although there would still have to be some work done on the pharmaceutical end of the spectrum (when you pay $2 for a pill in India and $800 for the same pill in the States, you’ve got a problem)…perhaps allow for LIMITED class act negotiation to get the best deals from pharmaceutical companies, either through the local Walgreens, an employer, or the government itself?

The Affordable Care Act does have its issues. But those issues need to be worked on, not discarded like a candy wrapper. Putting a new name on it doesn’t serve any purpose except to grandstand that “you repealed it” (hear that, GOP?). Fund the operation and see what needs to be fixed, don’t starve it and then claim it didn’t work. It’s time for some people to be adults about the issue and, since the toddler in the White House is unable to get about without messing his nappy, it’s high time Congress took the reins.

From Draining the Swamp to Filling the Cesspool

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It is often said about a Presidential administration that you can garner much of their goals by the people that the President names to different Cabinet positions, organizational heads, and ambassadorial positions. In the second Bush Administration, there was a great deal of concern about A) the number of people from his father’s Administration that he tapped (especially his VP, Dick Cheney, who was Secretary of Defense under his father), and B) those that were involved with the military previously (such as Donald Rumsfeld, who was his Secretary of Defense). That the Bush Administration during its eight years ramped up military action (and, as a result, spending) in hindsight should come as no surprise to anyone.

After the stunning turn of the 2016 General Election, the GOP nominee now has the same issues facing him that 44 other men have had – deciding who would best push forward the agenda of his Administration. After mouthing platitudes about wanting to “unite the people,” why has the GOP nominee done exactly THE OPPOSITE of what he says he wanted to do? A simple look at those he has chosen for the different Cabinet appointments and political seats demonstrates that, instead of “draining the swamp” as he said he would, the GOP nominee is filling the cesspool that his Administration will become.

The problems began with his staffing of those members that DON’T have to go through a Congressional hearing to be able to take their seats. The choice of Steve Bannon, the former editor of the Neo-Nazi news site Breitbart.com, to be his chief strategist – along with former General Michael Flynn as his national security adviser and Reince Priebus as Chief of Staff – rang alarm bells for anyone who could rub two brain cells together. Bannon’s “fiery rhetoric” at Breitbart (which poked at Jews, women, and Democrats, just to name a few) indicated to many that the GOP nominee was going to try to run the country like he ran his campaign – short on facts, long on insults, racist, misogynous, and xenophobic rhetoric. He got Priebus out of the way from his duties as chairman of the Republican National Committee by making him his lapdog “directing” White House operations (you really think that Priebus could direct the GOP nominee to do anything?). Flynn very nearly ended his run with the GOP nominee’s Cabinet by continuing to push conspiracy theories, but his son took the bullet for him earlier this month over “Pizzagate” to effectively quiet many.

Then there South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, who wasn’t smart enough to see her gentle execution by the GOP nominee for her opposition stance during the campaign. In taking the position of ambassador to the United Nations, Haley may believe she is “serving” the country, but if she looked up what normally happens in a time of strife, she may not have taken the position. Any time that there is a particularly noteworthy moment at the UN – a critical vote or an important discussion on a dire situation between the member nations, let’s say – the Secretary of State swoops in and takes the reins from the UN ambassador. The reason she was put there? South Carolina Lt. Governor Henry McMaster, a vehement supporter of the GOP nominee, will take over as Governor with Haley subserviently sitting in New York.

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If you thought this was bad, the worst was yet to come. It seemed that the criteria used by the GOP nominee was to identify what the job was of the department that he was choosing the Cabinet secretary for, then put the least qualified person into that position. Billionaire Betsy DeVos, the selection for Secretary of Education, has no qualifying degree from any school in the field of education. What qualifies her to be Education Secretary? The fact that she donated $1.8 million to the GOP nominee’s campaign and that she has advocated (re:  demanded) a shift from the public-school system to “voucher programs,” private and religious institutions. The purpose of the Department of Education is to set standards for ALL schools – to go in with the express purpose of destroying the very thing you’re supposed to be supporting is outlandish. (Add in that she is the brother of the founder of Blackwater, the heinous “mercenary” force that is supposed to be a “military company” that was used by the Bush Administration during the Second Gulf War, and she’s even more despicable.)

It doesn’t get better. Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions was unable to get a position on the bench in the federal court system 30 years ago because of his racial statements regarding the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other organizations. But now he’s been chosen to be the next Attorney General under the GOP nominee’s Administration.

The GOP nominee tapped on one of his former opponents, much like President Barack Obama did when he picked Hillary Clinton as his Secretary of State in 2008, when he pulled Dr. Ben Carson into the mix despite Carson saying he wanted no part of a government position. So, what position do you think would be benefitting of a world-renown brain surgeon? Surgeon General of the U. S.? Nope. How about Secretary of Housing and Urban Development? Despite the efforts to portray Carson as someone who rose “from the projects” he would be now leading, the only relative experience that Carson has with the Housing Department is that he lives in one.

Then there’s Scott Pruitt, the Attorney General of Oklahoma, that has been nominated to take over the Environmental Protection Agency. Despite the factor that he’s currently SUING the EPA for its regulation of power plants, Pruitt is a known climate change denier who proudly touts this fact to anyone who will listen. Pruitt also is a longtime advocate of fossil fuel usage. That you would put someone in charge of an agency that is tasked with PRESERVING the environment whose main raison d’etre is to destroy the very department tasked with that cause, you’re not putting the best personnel into the position.

Pretty much look at any department and you can virtually smell the shit from the cesspool. Tom Price, Secretary of Health and Human Services? A doctor who is looking to destroy the Affordable Care Act and Planned Parenthood and advocated for not labeling food. Former Labor Secretary Elaine Chao as Transportation Secretary? A carrot tossed to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, her husband, for support in the Senate?

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Wilbur Ross and Todd Ricketts as Commerce Secretary and Deputy Commerce Secretary, respectively? Billionaires who bailed out the GOP nominee previously or an opportunistic hypocrite who was previously critical of the GOP nominee that owns the Chicago Cubs. Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury Secretary? Formerly a part of Goldman Sachs, the Wall Street investment firm the GOP nominee railed over through the entirety of the campaign. Toss in former Texas Governor Rick Perry as the Secretary of Energy (seriously, does he even have an energy idea beyond “drill here?”) and you have a Confederacy of Dunces that rivals a Marx Brothers movie.

In fact, you could say that there are two paths that the GOP nominee is going down. One is that he is creating the ultimate oligarchy, as six of his nominees to prominent positions in his cabinet have donated $12 million to his campaign. You could also say that the GOP nominee is forming a military junta, as he continues to fill major spots in his organization with people with lifelong military backgrounds, including former Marine Corps generals John Kelly (Homeland Security) and James Mattis (Defense), both positions that have traditionally been put in the hands of civilian oversight (Flynn is also a former general and Bannon has a military background).

And we’re supposed to give this a chance?

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The problem is that, once the process begins for those that require Congressional approval, there’s virtually nothing that can stop it. Due to the stupidity of the Democratic Party back in 2014 when they blew up the procedures to push through lower federal court justices, the GOP now just has to have 51 votes to end filibusters on Presidential appointees (this applies to everything outside of the Supreme Court) and move to a vote. When it was for their own good, the Democratic leadership was all for this change. Now it comes back to bite them in the ass.

If there is to be a check on the GOP nominee’s ignorance of choices, some help is going to have to come from some of the “renegade” members of the GOP itself. Virtually every choice is unqualified to be in the spot they were picked for – quite like their prospective boss – and should receive a negative vote in their respective committees. That’s not going to happen, so the Democrats must pick their battles wisely if they are to enact some changes out of the GOP nominee’s festering cesspool. Otherwise, the symphony of destruction is warming up…

So, What Are You Going to Say to…

trumpaccostingliberty

In what passes the monumentally stupid vote by the United Kingdom earlier this year to depart the European Union, the United States – riding a wave of Bubbas, white nationalists, racists, gay-bashers and just enough people that didn’t like seeing someone beneath them rise above their situation – elected a total buffoon to the leader of the free world. That’s right, if you’re just waking up…Donald Trump – he of “grab them by the pussy” fame, who said “why don’t we use nukes? We got ‘em?” who says he knows more about a foreign terrorist organization that those who have been tasked with fighting said organization (and I’m just getting warmed up) – will, come January 20, be inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States. To say the U. S. shot itself in the foot isn’t enough…it literally shot itself in the head and spattered the White House with cranial goo.

Let’s get this out of the way first. The Democratic Party was somehow blindsided in the 2016 elections, much like the GOP was in 2012 with their insistence that Mitt Romney was going to win in a landslide. Instead of being aware of the level of vitriol from a frothing, rabid pack of hyenas, the Dems instead thought they could get by with Hillary Clinton. Clinton’s list of issues too numerous to mention here became the albatross that eventually strangled her, and the party, for which there wasn’t a method of recovery. Like Al Gore in 2000, Clinton can sit back and say she took the popular vote, which she can use with a $1.50 to get a cup of coffee at McDonald’s.

And before we move on, the “Bernie Bros” can sit their ass down, too. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders was spared the “oppo research” that a serious candidate would have faced in an election. Clinton went gently on him and, if Sanders had reached the General Election, the GOP machine would have ripped open the seal on every vote Sanders had cast in his 35 years in Washington, D. C. Then there would have been the opportunity for Trump to rip him with the “socialist” and “communist” labels, dog-whistle words that still have a bite in today’s world.

So now we enter the alt-right world, that where everyone is wrapped in the flag and carrying a Bible. So, what are you going to say to…

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Your LGBTQ friends – One of the major platforms of the Republican Party – and supported by Trump – was the rescinding of LGBTQ rights that have been earned over the past couple of years. Marriage equity, workplace rights, such things that made members of the LGBTQ community equal legally among the rest of us will be torn away as soon as Paul Ryan (well, maybe not him…he’s probably pulling a Boehner and saying “fuck this” as soon as possible), Mitch McConnell and the Bible thumpers can pen the bill. And then there’s the point that Mike Pence – now the Vice President-Elect – is a supporter for allowing for CONVERSION THERAPY for gays, something that has been proven to be inconclusive at best, harmful to the person at worst and ILLEGAL in five states.

What do you say to those – your friends, family, co-workers – that will become a second-class citizen again? Do you think your “Make ‘Merica Great Again” jingoistic slogan is going to work when your gay brother can’t see his significant other in the hospital (or make decisions on his care) because he isn’t “married” to him? Do you think that, when they’re being marched to the conversion camps, your lesbian co-worker is going to think “boy, my friends really had my interests at heart?”

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20 million newly non-insured people – Once the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare” is rescinded and the Republicans provide exactly nothing to replace it, what do you tell that five-year-old cancer patient who lost their health care because of Trump’s election? What do you tell that Muscular Dystrophy patient that, after finally getting the health insurance necessary to be able to afford their medications and be able to function in their daily life, they no longer will receive insurance? “Well, I’m not paying anymore for them…let them eat cake!”

Pregnant women – Hopefully for those of you who have daughters they don’t make a mistake – or have a pregnancy that is life-threatening – in the future. The reversal of Roe v. Wade has been the goal of the GOP and its Moral Supremacists since the 1970s, that the ability of a woman to make choices regarding her health care should be taken by the federal government because a group of men whose only experience with a vagina is having emerged from one that “they know best.” Get ready for the increase in back-alley abortions performed by charlatans who can’t even enter medical school, let alone be licensed as a physician!

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Libertarians – So you don’t like “big government?” Well, the entry of an entirely GOP dominated Executive, Legislative and potentially Judicial branch only ensures that there will be laws mandating what you can do in your bedrooms, what you can and can’t say regarding the leaders of the country (Trump himself supports weakening the First Amendment to allow for jailing of opposition and has “jokingly” supported the murder of journalists) and that you must prostrate yourself when you’re in your living room and “The Star-Spangled Banner” comes on.

There’s one truth to the GOP – they are only for small government when it is things that they object to…they’ll enact every law possible to take every right from the people if it is necessary to maintain power (Patriot Act?). So, you don’t like a couple of environmental laws to protect the sand newt? That will be the least of your concerns.

There is a litany of other things, but let’s not give the StormTrumpers any ideas about who to attack next.

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The date 11/9 will go down as the last stand of the American Racist. It will also go down as the birthdate of the American Taliban, one that will look to rule by religion rather than logic, that will castigate anything that’s darker than its alabaster melanin and will, when presented with 21st century change and challenges, will return us to an 19th century age when children were fodder for the meat grinders in the slaughterhouses in Chicago, women were a subjugated class that shouldn’t be heard from at best and insignificant at worst and minorities, foreigners and “Muslims”  knew to get their asses out of town – or to their “section” of town – before sundown.

It is also oddly ironic that today is the anniversary of Kristallnacht. Kristallnacht, or the “Night of Broken Glass,” was the destruction of Jewish properties by both agents of the Nazi Party in Germany and German citizens who believed that the Jewish population was to blame for the demise of their nation in 1938. Over two days of rioting, 1000 Jewish synagogues were burned to the ground and 7000 Jewish businesses were destroyed. The estimate of the number of Jewish people killed was 91, although some historians state the actual count may have been higher. There were also 30,000 Jewish people who were “taken into custody” and sent to the concentration camps. We may not have as much broken glass but, since we’ve elected a fascist, we’d better get used to what they can do once in office.

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Is it possible that this was all just a ploy by Trump to get elected and he’ll magically change once he is inaugurated (I’ve had a supposedly intelligent person say that to me)? No, 70-year old men – and the vapid followers who will be looking for their own piece of meat from the vulture feast – don’t change their spots when presented with great power. They become more entrenched and see what else they can steal before they are told they can’t have any more. We’ve allowed the American Taliban to take over and woe will the nation be in the future.

(And, as a final note, get ready for the upcoming pardon from President Barack Obama to Clinton in one last “kiss my ass” to the American Taliban, because it’s coming.)

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The GOP Has an Opening…And They Should Take It

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Over the time I took my month-long break, the real reason became evident to me. After the Indiana primary, billionaire charlatan Donald Drumpf became the “presumptive” (and there’s a reason that is in parenthesis) nominee for the Republican Party and my brain basically shut down to be able to comprehend how 13 million people could be that idiotic. After violating every common decency of politics – remember his rant against Megyn Kelly, the “bimbo?” How about his damnation of former Prisoner of War and current Arizona Senator John McCain? (I’d go on, but you get the idea) – the GOP could not put someone up that could defeat a misogynistic, xenophobic fascist and serial bankruptcy whore (who also enjoys not paying his employees yet claims to be running for “the little man”) whose very ideas for “Making ‘Merica Grate Again” (intentional) is to round up 11 million people he views as “illegal,” keeping everyone from entering the United States that comes from a country that has “terrorist activities” (news flash, asshole…that’s pretty much every country in the world) and building a wall (for about $25 billion) that he has no clue how to pay for (you think Mexico’s paying for it? You’re a fool…). It seemed impossible that a party that once had such leaders as Abraham Lincoln, Dwight Eisenhower and even Ronald Reagan could sink to such depths.

Alas, the GOP did. As the last month has gone on – and Drumpf’s statements get more outlandish – Republicans have been doing gyrations on how to balance their “support” for the Orangutan Mutant while at the same time being able to distance themselves from him. Some, such as Senators Patrick Toomey of Pennsylvania and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, will basically break into a run to get away from reporters seeking their opinions on something Mr. Oompah Loompah has said. Others, such as Senator Dan Coats of Indiana, can’t even come up with a policy position that they AGREE with Drumpf. Even the leadership of the GOP, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, cannot triangulate their “support” of Trump with the gibberish that spurts out of his pie hole. It has actually gotten to the point where McConnell says at the start of interviews, “I’m not going to be commenting on the presidential candidates today.”

But the Orange Dictator has now given the GOP a way out…

During a rally in Atlanta on Wednesday, Duh Donald gave the Republicans every reason to toss him into the street. In his diatribe at the rally, Il Duce Donald basically said “get behind me or I’ll do it by myself.” He said that the current leaders of the GOP should just “be quiet,” else he plans to “go it alone.” “A lot of people thought I should do that anyway, but I’ll just do it very nicely by myself,” Trump said, though he did not elaborate on what doing it “by myself” would mean.

GOP! You’ve got your off-ramp!

Donald Trump

Now is the time that the GOP ought to look at the Orangutan Mutant and state, “OK, asshole. Run on your own. You’ve shown no interest in helping this party – hell, you continue to denigrate it with every word you utter – and, in fact, are threatening our hold on the Congress, the Senate especially and a large lead in the House. There’s the door, Little Donnie…and don’t let it hit you in the ass on the way out!”

Every time that Drumpf opens his mouth, the Republicans have to go on the defensive about what he says. Take, for example, his verbal sewage over Federal Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel. Curiel, the judge of record in the California fraud case regarding the vilified criminal activity that was Trump University, was basically lambasted by Drumpf over several days. The unbelievable lengths that the Cheeto from Queens took against the judge – stating that him “being Mexican” (despite the judge being a U. S. born citizen) biased him in the case, that a Muslim couldn’t hear the case either because of Drumpf’s idiotic statements – had the entirety of the GOP backpedaling faster than Aqib Talib against a wide receiver. They have to do this instead of pushing their agenda and, if they are able to dump Drumpf, then they could actually get about presenting their ideas than Drumpf’s Fantasyland of Delusion. (We won’t even get into how bullying Drumpf’s BS was as Curiel, as a judge, cannot comment on cases he is hearing or what someone says about him…that is the textbook definition of “bully,” much like Drumpf’s statements were the textbook definition of “racist.”)

When it comes to the Republican National Convention next month in Cleveland, Ryan needs to step to the dais and say, “The delegates have been released from being bound to the candidate of their state’s selection. We are doing this due to the fact that the person who earned the most votes is unfit to be a candidate, let alone to be President. We also have to make sure that the tradition and honor of the Republican Party survives…with the person who received the most votes, we cannot do that.” Failing that, the GOP should just designate that they will not be nominating a candidate for President in 2016 and instead concentrate on something much more important to the RNC.

34 seats in the Senate are currently up for grabs in the 2016 general election. Currently holding an eight Senator advantage, the Republicans would have to win 21 of them to maintain that lead. According to Cook Political Report’s rundown on June 10, seven of those seats are tossups (six Republican, one Democrat), meaning that their margin of error is basically nil. The GOP cannot have a plague on the ballot like Drumpf and expect their advantage to remain unless they abandon the White House and concentrate on the Senate (and, to a lesser degree due to gerrymandering, the House).

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If the leadership of the GOP doesn’t do this, then they threaten to bring about the extinction of the Republican Party. Once considered the “statesman emeritus” of the GOP, even former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich has succumbed to the sickness that the Orangutan Mutant has inflicted on the organization. In an interview with “Fox and Friends” on Monday, Gingrich – one of the more respected members of the GOP (for some reason) – stated that a newHouse Un-American Activities Committee” be created.

Now, for those of you without a history background, the group that Gingrich speaks of was initially founded to go after Nazis in the U. S. Once World War II was over, the committee then moved onto Communism, calling into question the patriotism of virtually everyone in the county. President Harry Truman denounced the committee in 1959, citing it as the “most un-American thing in the country today.” But it wasn’t until 1975 that the “Internal Security Committee” (as the HUAC had been renamed in 1969) was disbanded.

For a former member of Congress to promote the reinstatement of one of the vilest committee’s in the history of Congress – one that ruined lives with no evidence and that could censor anything it felt was “subversive” – it is just a further statement of how far down the rabbit hole the GOP has gone. It has all been because of their presumed nominee, Herr Drumpf, who has repeated the vilest things that can be stated by a presumed member of the human race. The GOP has the opportunity to distance themselves from him – either through not nominating him, nominating another candidate or “sitting out” 2016 – but the question remains whether they have the spine to do it or not. Since they cannot seem to be able to separate being a U. S. citizen from being the member of a political party, the question is a viable one.

What’s My Problem? It Should Be Everyone’s Problem…

After one of my essays the other day, someone had the audacity to ask me what was my problem with the Republican Party. “Why don’t you go after the Democratic Party the way you go after the Republicans?” the person asked. I offered a quick, Facebook-friendly reply – which wasn’t enough for that person (it seldom is – Facebook is not an essay-friendly arena) – so I thought that I would take the time to fully enunciate what “my problem” is with the Republican Party, at least the way that it is constituted today. When I reach the end, I think that most people might recognize that it should be everyone’s problem.

I came of age in the 1970s, in the post-Watergate/post-Vietnam Era when we questioned everything that made up the government (in fact, it is why I still question it today). Whether it was the federal, state or local offices, none of them were given a break over the conditions in the United States. Republicans back then were not identified by their blind addiction to denial of social norms – abortion was an issue that was just beginning to bubble – but were more likely to be viewed on their business acumen, foreign policy expertise and respect for the military, things that everyone could get behind including their counterparts. Democrats at that time were looked at as the voice of the “people,” the party who would actually stand with those who needed the help the most when the times were the toughest, and protected them sometimes against those businesses that threatened them.

As the 1980s rolled around – and especially after the mixed results that were the presidencies of Richard Nixon (and, after his resignation, Gerald Ford) and Jimmy Carter – the two parties were still somewhat malleable in that they stood for different things but worked together for the improvement of the United States. The election of Ronald Reagan was something the country needed – a new rebirth, if you will – and it did serve to recharge the nation. I served in the United States Marine Corps during Reagan’s presidency and, while seeing him build the world’s greatest military, I also saw the Republican Party’s treatment of its fighting force in decrepit barracks and base housing, inadequate equipment, improper usage in military actions and other various areas of governance, including the denial of the AIDS epidemic and other societal ills.

Because of the success of Reagan, President George Bush – Bush I, as I like to call him – was a natural choice to continue. But Bush was different:  he was practical, he knew that you couldn’t just force the military anywhere for any reason (perhaps because of his days at the helm of the Central Intelligence Agency, he had a bit more “intelligence,” no pun intended) and he also knew you had to pay for the military. Thus, when he paid for the First Gulf War (or military action as “war” was never declared per se) by raising taxes, he was doomed as the 1990s began.

The true segmentation of the Republican and Democratic parties (and there is a segmentation, they are not “the same”) – and the reason for my look at one over the other – came about in the 1990s. When Bill Clinton became President in 1992, the nation took off, arguably because he worked with a Republican-led House of Representatives and Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich in 1994 and they maximized the “tech surge” of the mid-1990s. It was the second term of Clinton, however, that put the nail in the coffin for me.

Instead of being pleased with making the country work, the rising “neo-con” movement in the Republican Party – not happy to have a military that was sitting on the sidelines, wanting a bolder and more aggressive foreign policy and willing to do whatever it took to regain not only the power in Congress but also in the White House – seized on Clinton receiving a hummer from intern Monica Lewinsky and turned that into an impeachable offense (ever the opportunist Gingrich, rather than trying to staunch this wave, grabbed a surfboard and rode along with it). Fortunately, a more-rational Senate was able to stave off the slathering idiots that were the neo-con Republicans screaming for Clinton’s removal, but it would only be a momentary pause before the truly shitty schism would develop between the two.

The Republican neo-cons weren’t happy with skewering Democrats, they also ravaged their own. First they took down John McCain in 2000 with a bogus “black child” scam, getting their hand-picked puppet, George Bush (or Bush II), into the nomination, then they would turn the targeting on Al Gore as the election hinged on the state of Florida (the “swift-boating” of John Kerry four years later was just icing on the cake). Having seated 10 of the last 12 Supreme Court Justices, the Republicans were able to use the U. S. Supreme Court to shut down any further review of Florida’s recount in 2000, with 538 voters being the determining factor in Bush’s 2000 Electoral College win (Gore won the popular vote) over Gore.

Once back in power – and with the attacks of 9/11 – the Republican neo-con movement was given the proverbial golden chalice of opportunity to sweepingly affect the United States and they took full advantage of it. They enacted the Patriot Act of 2001 – with a reluctant Democratic Senate coming along (only Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold, a Democrat, voted against it) – arguably the worst piece of legislation in the history of the country. They started first an air campaign against the alleged (true) mastermind behind 9/11, al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, in Afghanistan, but then for some inexplicable reason transferred most of their attention to an air and ground invasion of Iraq and its dictator Saddam Hussein, in essence starting a two-front war.

While making these mistakes, they also spent money like drunken sailors on shore leave. Instead of maintaining steady tax rates, the neo-cons lowered taxes – apparently thinking that there would be a magical money tree that would just drop $100 bills from the sky – while pushing an extreme anti-everything social policy that impeded on the rights on every person that isn’t a white male in the U. S. If that wasn’t enough, then the fiscal collapse of 2008 occurred – and the resulting “bank bailout” that was started by President Bush – before President Barack Obama came to office.

Now, in my entire existence, the Congress may not have agreed with the President, but they at the minimum did their job and attempted to work with the President. They passed bills, put them to the President and it was up to him as to whether he wanted to enact them. They WORKED with the President and/or his personnel. From the start of the Obama Presidency, however – and epitomized by now-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s infamous “our job” speech (“Our job is to ensure that the man in the White House is a one-term President”) – the Republicans have done exactly NOTHING to further the cause of the United States (and please don’t try to say the 60 or so votes to end the Affordable Care Act constitutes “action”).

Where I come from – my core beliefs – is that government works the best when it does keep its nose out of the lives of its citizens. There come moments in a nation’s history, however, when it does require the “voice of reason” to step in and make a determination. Slavery, the right of women to vote, civil rights, abortion, equal protection for women and LGBT persons…these are all moments when the federal government has to step in and say, as a whole for the nation, that there is one rule for one nation. Through this method, one area of the nation cannot inflict its ignorance, giving the country a black eye over something that should be settled (as Alabama recently did over the gay marriage issue).

With these issues, the Republican Party seldom seems to be on the right side (slavery seems to be one of those rare occasions). Rather than embracing the rights of people, the GOP seems to kowtow to a small sect (and I use that term in its perfect religious intentions) of people who consistently chop off their leaders’ arms for not trying to be more accepting of people DIFFERENT THAN THEM.

I don’t want to see leaders blaming people for being disadvantaged or poor, I want to see those leaders attempt to help those people (a great program in North Carolina, started by a Republican, encouraged people on public assistance into a two-year program that eventually saw those people get off the dole). I want to see schools given every tool available for the children rather than hear politicians cry about the tax expenditure (education is the only way to ensure that we improve as a country) of simply providing textbooks. I want to see leaders who try to improve life for everyone rather than improve it for a few. I want to see intelligence praised instead of derided, as many in the GOP do when it comes to science.

As to the military (and as a veteran), I would like to see our troops used less rather than more. I’d prefer to see them used only as a TRUE last resort instead of as a “peacekeeping” force (as they have been since World War II). And, if you’re going to use the military, supply them with the equipment they need, pay them well, take care of their families and, when they come home, take care of the veterans and their medical conditions. The Republicans who say that they cannot take care of veterans – calling it an “entitlement” – shouldn’t ever darken the door of Congress again.

This means you have to have money for everything. Paying for a strong military, infrastructure, improvements overall for people’s daily lives, business and education improvements…it all takes money. While it can be streamlined, it also needs funding to function. Taxation for government is a necessary evil and denying that increase in revenue is a death sentence to being a third world country.

This isn’t to say all Republicans are evil, just as it isn’t to say that all Democrats are saints. But, when the scales are weighed, I see one side doing more for people and the military overall and it certainly isn’t the one that is represented by the heavier animal. I’m always open for presentation of evidence to the contrary but, for the Republican Party, that evidence is rather sparse.

Is that answer good enough?

Obstructionism Isn’t a Governing Style

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On Saturday night, I was preparing to go to a basketball game when the news came down. It was reported out of Texas that Associate Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, one of the more conservative Justices in the history of the Supreme Court of the United States, had passed away in his sleep at a hunting lodge in Texas. Justice Scalia reportedly was found dead on Saturday morning and the hunting lodge was so remote that news of his passing wasn’t announced until late Saturday afternoon.

Needless to say, I was quite surprised about this news. I didn’t take any particular glee in the announcement, however, although some did (and, for some of them who were directly affected by Scalia’s stance on several critical Supreme Court decisions such as gay rights and abortion, I can understand that). I decided to wait for a bit before making any sort of pronouncements or addressing any thoughts on the issue – 12 hours seemed about right in my opinion. If only some others would have taken the time to employ the same tactic.

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Virtually as soon as the word came from that ranch in Texas where Justice Scalia had been hunting, the Republican Party began to obstruct the thought of President Barack Obama putting someone in Scalia’s seat. The Senate Majority Leader, Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell, literally said an hour after Scalia’s passing, “The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice,” when other people – including ideological opponents of Scalia’s including New York Senator Chuck Schumer and current Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid – were offering condolences to the family. Another Senator, Utah’s Mike Lee (another Republican), who heads the Senate Judiciary Committee, didn’t even have the guts to respond, instead sending a lackey, spokesman Conn Carroll, to say that the chances of President Obama putting someone in Justice Scalia’s seat was “less than zero.”

The odious remains of the clown car known as the GOP Presidential nominees (more on this later this week) sounded like a bunch of harp seals in responding about the subject on the Sunday morning talkers. On Twitter, Texas Senator Ted Cruz remarked that “Justice Scalia was an American hero. We owe it to him and the nation for the Senate to ensure that the next President name his replacement.” There is plenty of evidence that negates Cruz’s statements as Presidents have, since the creation of our nation, nominated Justices up until they left office.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio was especially ripped by the Sunday hosts for his incredibly stupid statements that he made on the subject. Apparently someone in the Rubio camp informed Super Mario that, when a sitting President is down to the final year of his Presidency, he just quits being President and lets shit fall where it may. On Meet the Press, host Chuck Todd directly said to Rubio, “Do presidential terms end after three years?” when Rubio said, “In the last year of a president’s term…there should not be Supreme Court nominees put into lifetime positions.”

Even on home turf with Fox News, host Chris Wallace drilled Rubio when he asked if any President should be able to make second term Supreme Court appointments. “I’m not saying it’s illegal,” Rubio said. “I think we should wait until after November before we move forward on confirming any justice to the Supreme Court.” Wallace then administered the smack down to Rubio – the last time that such a situation occurred was under President Ronald Reagan when he nominated – and the Senate confirmed – Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy in 1988. “It doesn’t really matter what Reagan did back in ’87,” Rubio snottily – and incorrectly – said.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg of the obstructionism of the Republican Party in this particular circumstance.

Unfortunately, since the Republican “neocon” insurrection that led to President Bill Clinton’s impeachment over a blowjob at the tail end of the 1990s, the politics of obstructionism is all the people of the U. S. have received. Whether it is the Democrats in control of the Congress and a Republican in the White House or vice versa, it seems that no one wants to actually govern this country anymore. The politics of – well, actually being political – have been pushed aside for partisanship, “point scoring” and bullshit “line in the sand” positions rather than actually trying to lead the nation. As a result, not a damn thing is getting done.

We like to think of our nation as a great example of something that should be the target for other people and other nations to be. Instead, we’ve become a fucking joke in that we cannot even meet in a room to hear about a budget plan for the upcoming year, sit through a President’s State of the Union speech without yelling out bullshit or even give that President the common decency of allowing him his Constitutional right to nominate a person to the highest Court in the land.

President Barack Obama: Inauguration Day 2009

If you don’t like the President, that’s your prerogative. You can allow him to nominate his candidate for the Supreme Court without being derogatory towards the man and the office. Then you can demonstrate your obstructionism (and your disrespect to doing your job) to the citizens of the United States, either by not meeting with the candidate or not holding hearings for said candidate. Then it is on YOU to explain to the citizens of the country why someone who was OK as a judge when they were reviewed and approved a few years previously (because trust me, the Obama Administration isn’t going to pick someone that hasn’t already been approved by the Senate previously and probably by close to a unanimous vote) is suddenly not good enough to be a Supreme Court Justice.

This is the point where the obstructionism may fall apart. The GOP is staking their hill on this Supreme Court seat and it could very well lead to their downfall. With a third of the seats in the Senate up for grabs in November – including some in battleground states that the Republicans need to maintain their grasp on to hold the majority in the Senate – it is possible that a divisive issue could swing the vote one way or the other. Such a subject as naming a Supreme Court Justice – or the resulting blocking of said Justice – could motivate a sizeable bloc of voters to come out against a particular party (in this case, the GOP) and end their Senate majority.

The other question is why would the GOP try to stake this hill? If they are successful in delaying the selection of the Supreme Court Justice until after the November elections, they have to win said election to be able to put in someone they prefer; those odds do not look good at this time (odds makers have pretty much every combination of Democrat versus Republican with the Democrat winning). The next Democratic President could nominate Obama, which would be anathema to any Republican, worse than any nominee that Obama could come up with. There is also the chance that, should a Republican win, Obama could put through a Supreme Court replacement once the new Congress is seated and before the new President takes over (tricky, but extremely possible).

Now conservatives are going to cry that “Reid was obstructionist to Republicans when he was in charge,” and they’d be right. But what was he going to put forward from a Republican House…one of the 50-odd passages repealing the Affordable Care Act? Bills that stripped away through the riders on the side other rights that President Obama had fought to earn for women, gays and other groups that Republicans love to oppress? Repeals of Planned Parenthood funding? Tell you what…when both sides start passing bills straight up, without any riders that bastardize the original purpose of a bill, then you can talk about not having them considered by the other body in the legislative branch.

DestroyedUSCapitol

Both sides need to realize that obstructionism is not a governing style. It is time that people actually look at who they are voting for and put people in the Congress (and get rid of these Tea Party nutbags who pretend to be “small government” but are basically religious zealots masquerading as small government practitioners) that will work together – rather than against each other – and put someone in the White House who will actually come down to Capitol Hill and sit in the office of the leader of the opposing party and find common ground to lead the nation. Furthermore, the Congress itself needs to get off its ass and move – and do its job rather than hiding behind “listening to the American people” as a reason to not do anything. It could start with doing something as simple as putting someone in the seat of Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.

Why Does Pope Francis Have Such a Positive Effect on People?

If you’ve been here any length of time, you know by this point that I have, at best, an arm’s length relationship with religion. From the start, I have yet to find a religion that has a basis in fact. When I say fact, it has to have a scientific base to it. I refuse to have my intelligence insulted into thinking that the Earth is 10,000 years old, that man walked with the dinosaurs and has ruled the planet over the last 6000 years. There’s also that dichotomy between a Supreme Being that is supposed to “love you” but, if you don’t follow His laws to the letter, will cast into a fiery pit to roast for all eternity, but that’s a minor point. Let’s just leave it that religion and I have several areas we would need to work on if there was to be any contemplations.

This isn’t meant to imply that I don’t know my share about many of the major religions around the world and even some of the minor ones. Catholicism was one of those that has always interested me because there is so little effort made to change it from the pagan days of Roman mythology. Whereas Christianity brought about the birth of Jesus on December 25 to coincide with the pagan celebrations of the Winter Solstice (Bible scholars believe that Jesus Christ was either born in the spring or the fall, with fall much more likely – September 25 is a more accurate date to some), Catholicism doesn’t even try to hide their “patron saints,” basing them on the Roman gods and goddesses that populated the polytheistic religion that preceded them. As to the “God of gods,” ancient Romans looked to the deity Jupiter; to watch over the “patron saints,” there was, well…God.

Catholicism, with its roughly 1.13 billion followers (that’s the number the Vatican, the base for the Church of Rome and Catholicism, offers), is the second largest religious base in the world behind only Islam (I am separating Catholicism from Christianity because there are major differences between the two in my opinion; for the sake of argument, if you combine Catholicism and Christianity they are larger than Islam by number of followers). In the United States, 69.4 million citizens recognize themselves as Catholic, making them the largest denomination in the country. The Catholic faith has permeated U. S. society and government, with our current Vice President Joe Biden, the Speaker of the House John Boehner, six of the nine Supreme Court justices (including Chief Justice John Roberts) and a majority of the members of Congress and the state’s Governors worshipping as Catholics.

Therefore, it isn’t that surprising the attention that the papal visit of the current Bishop of Rome, Pope Francis, to the United States has captured. Every major news network covered Pope Francis’ arrival in the U. S. on Wednesday (from Cuba, interestingly enough…a country that the U. S. just recently reestablished diplomatic ties with that was aided by this current Pope) with a fervor that is usually reserved for the British monarchy (that one I can’t even figure out). On Thursday, his address to Congress was “must see” television, as was his departure for New York City and more meetings. But what has been especially interesting – and I can honestly say that I am counted in this area – is the effect that Pope Francis’ visit has had on those of us with a skewed view of religion.

To say that Pope Francis isn’t a change from the past…oh, 2000 years?…of papal history would be the understatement of several millennia. Pope Francis, born Jorge Mario Bergoglio in Buenos Aires, Argentina, is the first Pope from the Western Hemisphere in the over 2000-year history of the Catholic Church, the first non-European pope since 741 A.D. and the first Jesuit pope in history…that’s quite a few firsts on the docket already. Where Pope Francis has been able to further separate himself, however, is in his words and actions, which are probably the things that make him appealing to non-religious people.

Because of his Jesuit background that has an emphasis on social justice, Pope Francis – perhaps the least gaudily clad Pope in my lifetime, eschewing any gold jewelry or other finery unlike past Popes – has put an emphasis on working with the poor and bringing their standard of living out of the sewer from where it exists in many parts of the world. Sometimes this has caused Pope Francis to rail against “greed” and the pursuit of money over anything else in life. The Pope wasn’t the one who came up with this…it is part of the teachings of the Bible, the book that many claim to follow but when asked to put into practice decide to forget the sections they don’t agree with.

Pope Francis also recently released an encyclical (a papal comment on Catholic doctrine) that discussed global warming. Saying that humans and their lifestyles are causing increased problems with the situation, Pope Francis directed people to take an appreciation of their planet as they are “stewards of the Earth.” Once again, this isn’t anything radical (unlike what some might say), this is something that is in the Bible and a challenge to humanity to not fuck up the only place that they can live.

For myself, the biggest thing that Pope Francis did was today. In Washington, D. C., following his speech to the U. S. Congress, the schedule had Pope Francis having a high powered lunch with the leaders of both parties of the House and Senate, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, Speaker Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, as well as other Congressional staffers. Instead of noshing with these “power brokers,” Pope Francis did what a man of God would do:  turned them down and headed to lunch with 200 people at Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington, including some who were homeless or in need of the services of the organization.

The ability of Pope Francis to not only take the examples put into the Bible – love thy neighbor, reach out to those less fortunate, be a good caretaker of life and your surroundings (I could go on, but you get the idea) – but also to buck the trends of some in his own Church to politicize many of the beliefs of Catholicism (if there was ever a day to bring back the Papal food tester to make sure Pope Francis’ food wasn’t tainted, these days would be it). When some religious conservatives even have issues with what Pope Francis says, then he must be on the right track somewhere.

In my lifetime, this is only the second time that a religious figure has been able to impress me on any level. The first person was Billy Graham, who was able to look past religious beliefs and speak directly to whoever was listening about the word of God. Sure, Graham was a Christian but his sermons could be heard by, respected and learned from by anyone from any denomination or from no denomination at all (his son Franklin, on the other hand, has almost blasphemed the Graham name). Until Pope Francis came along (this Pope seems to have the same ability to get people to listen to what he’s saying), Graham was the only religious person whose viewpoint I actually respected.

This doesn’t give pass to the Catholic Church on some of their other subjects, however. The Vatican Bank is one of the largest in the world, with assets conservatively estimated at $5 billion, along with art treasures that the world has never seen. Property owned by the Catholic Church is worth well into the billions. The Vatican Library has documents that potentially could change history that few have ever seen. There is the denial of several atrocities that have occurred over the course of history, including the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, the war against science in the Middle Ages (and the continued struggle between science and religion as a whole today), allowing the Nazi persecution of the Jews during World War II, the past and continued cover-up of child molestation by priests and several other issues. These are areas that have been woefully addressed by the Catholic Church and its leadership in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Even with Pope Francis at the helm, there are still issues that the Catholic Church is behind the times on (let’s not even get started there). But Pope Francis has shown that there is potentially a light that is leading the Catholic Church into the future instead of the darkness of dogma.

Will this light continue to shine? Pope Francis has already said he doesn’t envision his tenure with the papacy being a long one, but the hope does exist that the next man chosen to be the “right hand of God” will at least listen to what Francis has said and perhaps put his own futuristic mark on the direction of the Catholic Church. If the Church does decide to try to reverse what Pope Francis has started, then they might just push more people – of their own faith, other faiths and even those with no faith – away from the basis of believing.