How Many Sharks Can the #GOP Jump Before the Party’s Over?

Boehner ObamaJosh Gerstein’s piece, “5 questions about John Boehner’s lawsuit against Barack Obama,” in Politico is a frank and candid examination of the pros and cons, both short- and long-term, to both sides in the GOP House lawsuit against the president.

At this point, I consider the lawsuit to be an idiotic and colossal waste of time and taxpayer money. We need to understand that Obama’s executive actions to delay enforcement of certain PPACA provisions are supported by precedent and are good for businesses.

Anyone else ready to admit to not recalling that in 2006 W unilaterally decided not to penalize seniors for missing a deadline to sign up for prescription drug coverage under Medicare? Would anyone go on record as wanting to sue him for that?

Here’s the more delicious bit of irony in all of this.

Businesses and the people who own and run them – the segment of America that the GOP is always claiming to be on the side of – would be the ones to suffer if the delayed Employer Shared Responsibility (ESR) rules were being enforced on the timelines originally written into the law.
(For a quick primer on the ESR, see http://eba.benefitnews.com/health-insurance-exchange/news/employer-shared-responsibility-2743235-1.html)

The only question left for me is how many times the GOP has to jump the shark before anyone except white senior citizens constitute what Gallup recently described as the GOP’s “strongest age group?”

Is it any wonder that when thinking of the future of the GOP I’m reminded of the days when Don Meredith would sing to us on Monday nights?

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Is there enough empathy in Israel and in Gaza to save them both?

A Palestinian walks away from his house, destroyed by an Israeli strike, in the Gaza City neighborhood of Shijaiyah. AP/Lefteris Pitarakis

A Palestinian walks away from his house, destroyed by an Israeli strike, in the Gaza City neighborhood of Shijaiyah. AP/Lefteris Pitarakis

I’m no expert by a long shot, but no one of clear thinking that I’m aware of is suggesting that tunnels and rocket attacks are justified. As Sam Harris pointed out recently, only one side – Hamas – has a stated goal of the total destruction of the other side.

A *stated* goal.

Given the situation and realities of the imbalance of power, I can’t see how Israel’s actions are justified or defensible, either, not when they have walled off Gaza and the West Bank, and not when Hamas rockets land in empty fields or are blown out of the sky by the Iron Dome. The inequity and severity of Israel’s response is, IMHO, why they can’t legitimately claim any real moral high ground.

As a country, we’ve clearly picked a side. We cannot deny our role as funders and suppliers of armaments to Israel. Any surprise or expressed confusion, therefore, that the enemies of Israel also consider us to be their enemies is disingenuous. Like Israel, we seem to expect the oppressed to be the ones who must act first to somehow bring an end to their oppression.

That’s why I think Chris Hedges has it right in his latest TruthDig piece, Let My People Go.

Peace in the Promised Land will come when those who love mercy and do justice build a sustained mass movement—as we did against the apartheid regime in South Africa—week after week, month after month, year after year until the captives are set free. Peace in the Promised Land will come when we force, through boycotts, divestments and sanctions, the powerful to end the blockade of Gaza and deny the instruments of death to Israel. But it is up to us. We are all that stands between the Palestinians and obliteration.

And, no, I do not believe for one, solitary second that every Palestinian wants to destroy Israel. At least, not yet. We, like Israel, would be well-served to stop deluding ourselves into believing that killing more and more of a subjugated and imprisoned population will accomplish much except to ensure the rise of the next few generations of what we now like to call terrorists.

There is no shortage of incredibly hard, complex, and sensitive questions to consider.

Questions like, “If it were any other set of actors, would we not be calling this genocide?”

Has President Obama not already begun using this very language in defending his decision to attack ISIS?

Israel hasn’t said that they want to destroy a Palestinian state (which doesn’t exist except behind the walls they’ve built around Gaza and the West Bank), but at what point do their policies and their actions toward Palestinians fit that description? When is it appropriate to call it genocide?

Most importantly, I think, is will either side ever be able to get past their religious beliefs, their bloody and intertwined histories, and the past atrocities committed by both sides so they can get to the place where there’s enough empathy to find a peaceful solution?

Then there’s this question. What would I do – what would you do – had we been born to parents living in Gaza or the West Bank?

 

Sources:

Why I Don’t Criticize Isreal, Sam Harris, July 27, 2014

Let My People Go, Chris Hedges, August 10, 2014

Obama authorizes airstrikes in Iraq to stop genocide, David Jackson and Jim Michaels, USA Today, August 8, 2014

 

Posted in Mideast | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Let’s Not Get Too Crazy About #GMOs and Neil deGrasse Tyson

I admire and respect Neil deGrasse Tyson a great deal. We need more people like him telling all the science deniers that science is a real thing. It’s why I found his comments about GMOs and people who oppose them of interest.

Mother Jones is one outlet reporting on an undated interview he gave that’s making the rounds today on social media(1). In his characteristic and straight-forward way, he excoriates people who express concerns about GMOs.

I’d love to hear more from him on GMOs.

I’d like to hear his thoughts on some important distinctions between GMOs and plant and animal breeding. I believe he would acknowledge those distinctions. It would seem to be perfectly within his character, in fact, to find out that he already is addressing those distinctions even as this post gets written.

First, I’d like to know what he thinks about the distinctions between genetically modifying an organism and breeding plants and animals for desired characteristics over generations.

I don’t know if GMOs include watermelons bred to grow without seeds or long stem roses, but here’s how the The Non-GMO Project defines GMOs.

GMOs are “…plants or animals that have been genetically engineered with DNA from bacteria, viruses or other plants and animals. These experimental combinations of genes from different species cannot occur in nature or in traditional crossbreeding.” (2)

Dr. Tyson didn’t discuss this in the video.

Then there’s this. I’d really love to get his thoughts on this one.

“Over 80% of all GMOs grown worldwide are engineered for herbicide tolerance. As a result, use of toxic herbicides like Roundup has increased 15 times since GMOs were introduced.” (2)

I’m really concerned about all this use of herbicides. I consider it to be just as troubling. I look at this increased herbicide use, and I think I see it as the root cause and real reason GMOs exist at all.

Monsanto makes RoundUp. Monsanto makes “RoundUp Ready” seeds. Plants genetically modified – not bred, not even engineered, but modified – to be “RoundUp Ready” means big money to Monsanto. By controlling the seed supply and the chemicals sprayed on them, they can drive agriculture in directions that don’t look good except for them and their shareholders.

How so?

The plants grown from Monsanto seeds and sprayed with Monsanto RoundUp either don’t produce seeds that can be stored and replanted year after year or, when they do, farmers who store and plant them risk lawsuits(3).

So, seeds that can be bathed in poison, can’t be replanted, and can legally be obtained only from one company are why we have GMOs. Monsanto doesn’t make money if they can’t trap and force farmers into buying their patented seeds year after year and the herbicides to spray on them.

And after all of that, there’s the environment. I really am anxious to hear what Neil deGrasse Tyson has to say about all that extra poison being sprayed into fields and that leaches into ground water and into our environment because……well……..it’s poisonous.

Yes, I want food to be labeled. I want to know if it contains unnatural genetic modifications

Yes, I want to know from that bit of information that it’s very, very likely to have been bathed in toxic herbicides as a result of just being a GMO crop.

No, I don’t want to eat that food.

Yes, I want to punish farmers, food companies, and retailers who deal in such food by NOT spending my money with them.

Yes, I especially want to draw attention to and to punish Monsanto for their attempts at literally controlling the world food supply.

Yes, I also want to protect farmers. Real farmers, not BigAg, but farmers who want to do what farmers have been doing since farming started in the Fertile Crescent – saving seeds to plant again year after year.

Yes, I believe there are ways to feed the human race without GMOs. Notice I’m not saying without scientific measures, or without controlled breeding, or without even some level of plant and animal engineering. What I am saying is this. Modifying organisms so they can be drowned in poison without full disclosure is wrong and dangerous.

The discussion about GMOs must include the motives behind the science. Questions need to be answered about who actually benefits. People deserve to know the dangers to us and to our environment.

I look forward to hearing more from people like Dr. deGrasse Tyson about all of that.

 

Sources:

(1) Neil deGrasse Tyson Tells GMO Critics to “Chill Out”, Mother Jones, http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/07/neil-degrasse-tyson-on-gmo

(2) GMO FACTS, The Non-GMO Project, http://www.nongmoproject.org/learn-more/

(3) Why Does Monsanto Sue Farmers Who Save Seeds?, Monsanto, http://www.monsanto.com/newsviews/pages/why-does-monsanto-sue-farmers-who-save-seeds.aspx

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You Could Say That a Vote for Republicans is a Vote For More Guns

Statistically, you’re most likely to be a gun owner if you’re an older, white, conservative, married, Southern man.

Know what else you’re more likely to be? Republican, especially a conservative Republican.

 

Why is that? Is it really grown men playing army?

playing army

Is it bravado, or is it fear?

Putting aside their perversion of the Second Amendment, why do they seem to need this level of so-called protection?

Can they only feel safe while they pour their soft drinks at the Burger King if they carry their pistols on their hips in public and for all to see?

A man openly carrying a handgun at a Burger King in Eagle, Colorado. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_carry_in_the_United_States)

A man openly carrying a handgun at a Burger King in Eagle, Colorado. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_carry_in_the_United_States)

I’m no doctor, but this looks like a psychosis to me.

Psychosis is defined by Websters as, “a mental disorder characterized by symptoms, such as delusions or hallucinations, that indicate impaired contact with reality.”

It looks to me like they’re so fearful that their reality requires more guns in more places and carried openly by more people in order for us all to be…….. safer?

I don’t agree with George W. Bush’s speech writer, David Frum, on much, but I do agree with him on this.

“But most of the time, gun owners are frightening themselves irrationally. They have conjured in their own imaginations a much more terrifying environment than genuinely exists — and they are living a fantasy about the security their guns will bestow. And to the extent that they are right — to the extent that the American environment is indeed more dangerous than the Australian or Canadian or German or French environment — the dangers gun owners face are traceable to the prevalence of the very guns from which they so tragically mistakenly expect to gain safety.”
(“Do guns make us safer?” by David Frum, July 30, 2012)

Nate Silver had this to say after analyzing the 2008 election data. I agree with him, too.

“It might seem strange that ownership of a single household object is so strongly tied to voting behavior and broader political attitudes in America. But America is an outlier relative to other industrialized nations in its gun ownership rates. Whatever makes this country so different from the rest of the world must surely be reflected in the differences in how Democrats and Republicans see the nation.”
(“Party Identity in a Gun Cabinet” by Nate Silver, December 18, 2012)

What, you might ask as I did, are our elected leaders doing about guns and gun safety?

There are two identical bills, S. 2373 and H.R. 4707, that were introduced on May 21st of this year. The purpose is simple: to appropriate $10million per year in funding over the next 5 years to the CDC for, “conducting or supporting research on firearms safety or gun violence prevention.”

The Senate bill has 9 cosponsors. The House Resolution has 26.

They are all Democrats.

So, if you don’t mind seeing people like these while you have your lunch, then go right ahead and keep voting for Republicans.

Open Carry Texas demonstrators at Chipotle. Screenshot: Facebook (Source http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/05/chipotle-guns-open-carry-texas)

Open Carry Texas demonstrators at Chipotle. Screenshot: Facebook (Source http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/05/chipotle-guns-open-carry-texas)

 

If you don’t, then don’t vote for a Republican; any Republican.

Like it or not, every Republican has willingly decided to represent a party that is in the NRA’s pocket and, as we all know, the NRA of today doesn’t want any restrictions on anything.

That’s not freedom. That’s not liberty. That’s madness.

 

Sources:

 

“Men, Married, Southerners Most Likely to Be Gun Owners,” Gallup, 2/1/2013

“Do guns make us safer?” David Frum, CNN, 7/30/2012

“Party Identity in a Gun Cabinet” by Nate Silver, 12/18/2012

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/113/s2373 and https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/113/hr4707, govtrack.US

“National Rifle Assn,” OpenSecrets.org

 

Posted in GOP, gun control, gun registration, NRA, politics, Republicans, tea party | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

You Could Say That a Vote for Republicans is a Vote Against American Jobs

Jay Timmons, president and CEO of the NAM, Danny Roderick, president and CEO of Westinghouse Electric Co., and Pierre Paul Oneid, senior vice president and chief nuclear officer at Holtec International Corp. speak Friday at a roundtable discussion on the Export-Import Bank. - Justine Coyne

Jay Timmons, president and CEO of the NAM, Danny Roderick, president and CEO of Westinghouse Electric Co., and Pierre Paul Oneid, senior vice president and chief nuclear officer at Holtec International Corp. speak Friday at a roundtable discussion on the Export-Import Bank.
- Justine Coyne

If you’re like me, you may have little to no understanding or appreciation for something called the Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank.

The Pittsburgh Business Times published a good article today titled, Roderick, NAM urge action on Export-Import Bank. I recommend reading it.

Here’s an excellent description of the Ex-Im:

In 2013, the Ex-Im bank supported $37 billion in exports that helped to sustain 200,000 U.S. jobs at 3,400 companies, according to Jay Timmons, president and CEO of NAM.

And it’s not just the big companies like Westinghouse that benefit from the program: About 90 percent of Ex-Im bank transactions in 2013 benefited small business, according to NAM.

Seems like a good thing, right?

So, why would Republicans and libertarians – including the Koch brothers and Koch-backed groups like The Heritage Foundation and Club For Growth – want to kill it?

I highly recommend a June 27th article in Bloomberg titled,How the U.S. Ex-Im Bank Landed on Republicans’ Death Row.”

This excerpt kind of says it all:

“Ex-Im represents both a policy and political target because it’s do-able,” said Diane Katz, a Heritage research fellow. “We’re not trying to take down the Federal Reserve here. We’re starting with an agency that is ripe.”

On the surface, the 80-year-old bank isn’t an obvious target. Rather than costing taxpayers money, it regularly returns a profit to the Treasury — more than $3.4 billion since 2005. The bank says its programs generated about 2 percent of the $2.3 trillion the U.S. exported last year.

….At least five groups opposing the bank’s renewal, including Concerned Veterans for America and the 60 Plus Association, received nearly all of their funding over an 18-month period ending in December 2012 from the Kochs’ political network — a total of $47.4 million, according to an analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics researcher Robert Maguire. Another group, Americans for Prosperity, founded by the Kochs in 2004, is also lobbying against the bank.

To all my fellow middle class and ordinary Americans still identifying with the GOP, the tea party, and with libertarian principles, when will you come to grips with reality?

A vote for Republicans – and a misguided and misinformed belief in libertarian mythology like the Invisible Hand of free markets – is a vote against American companies, American jobs, and a vote and belief system that goes against your own economic self-interest.

Will there ever be enough evidence to convince you?

 

Posted in capitalism, GOP, job creators, jobs, Koch, politics, Republicans, tea party | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Have We Not Learned That Bigger Is Not Better When It Comes to Banking?

10 largest banks

How can this be a good thing?

The very people who legally crashed our economy – and those who did it illegally and still haven’t gone to jail – and have kept their bonuses are now even bigger than before.

This is when our government needs to – HAS TO – step in and say….

“You are a danger to the rest of society. You are no longer going to operate in this manner. You have abused the rights and privileges afforded to you in the law, and now the law is changing. You will be broken up, and you will be regulated such that your actions cannot threaten the global economy and the financial well-being of all of the rest of us ever again.”

If there was ever an industry that has repeatedly proven that it is populated with and largely led by people incapable of policing themselves, it’s the financial services industry. This isn’t a personal attack. It’s just the facts, and it’s just history.

There can’t be opportunity and protection without a balance between the private sector and the government. There is no balance today. The scales have been tipping for far too long toward Big Money. This is why it’s so important that we strike at the root of all of our problems – money in politics.

Caseyoncampaigning

We must change campaign finance laws in order to get the influence of Big Money out of our political processes and out of the halls of government. It’s the only way we can expect to have any influence as ordinary citizens over our elected officials.

What can we do? Plenty.

Join up with other concerned citizens who have come together to make their voices heard.

Here are some of my favorites. Please feel free to share this and to add others.

 

http://anticorruptionact.org/

Join the fight. Become a Citizen Co-Sponsor of the American Anti-Corruption Act at http://bit.ly/CitizenCoSponsor

Support MAYDAY.US Together we can end the corruption of money in politics. Pledge now: https://mayday.us/pledge

Support MAYDAY.US Together we can end the corruption of money in politics. Pledge now: https://mayday.us/pledge

Posted in bail outs, Bernie Sanders, capitalism, Citizens United, corporate welfare, deregulation, economy, free market, greed, Magnetar, middle class, politics, regulation, richest 1%, TARP, The Invisible Hand, trickle down economics, Wall Street, wealth distribution in America | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

How the U.S. Ex-Im Bank Landed on Republicans’ Death Row

“A day before U.S. House Republicans were to vote on a new majority leader, lawmakers aligned with the limited-government Tea Party movement delivered a message to the leading candidate, Kevin McCarthy of California.”

 

 

Source: www.bloomberg.com

"The bank helps foreign companies buy U.S. goods by providing loans, guarantees and insurance. It was established in 1934 under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and initially focused more on advancing U.S. foreign policy than aiding the economy. It financed the Pan American Highway, authorized $2 billion for European reconstruction under the Marshall Plan and approved $100 million in credits for Israel in 1948. The bank also issued $5.6 million in guarantees to post-Soviet nations.

"To its backers, the bank’s primary benefit these days is to protect manufacturing jobs and counter the advantages of competitors in other countries backed by their government subsidies, including Airbus Group NV (AIR) in France, and Mitsubishi Corp. (8058) in Tokyo. The bank says that its financing has created or maintained an average of 231,000 U.S. jobs every year since 2009, though a Government Accountability Office report last year said the calculation has limitations."

 

 

"At least five groups opposing the bank’s renewal, including Concerned Veterans for America and the 60 Plus Association, received nearly all of their funding over an 18-month period ending in December 2012 from the Kochs’ political network — a total of $47.4 million, according to an analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics researcher Robert Maguire. Another group, Americans for Prosperity, founded by the Kochs in 2004, is also lobbying against the bank.

 

"For the Tea Party, which has come up short in fights over higher-profile issues such as eliminating Obama’s health care law and ousting House Speaker Boehner, the bank presents the chance to chalk up a win going into the November elections.

 

“Its demise would clearly be one of the few achievable victories for the Main Street competitive economy left in this Congress,” Hensarling said in a May 20 speech at the Heritage Foundation."

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Children have been coming to America alone since Ellis Island

And no, we didn’t just send them packing.

Source: www.motherjones.com

Truth and history cannot be denied, they can only be ignored. Every generation has its haters. Ours is no different. They will be pushed to the dustheap of history again just as they always have been. It will take time, but it will happen, and history will, once again, be the judge.

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Bill Maher Rails Against Militarized Police Culture in Outstanding Monologue – YouTube

July 18, 2014 – It’s a topic on which this writer has spilled plenty of ink, but one that goes largely ignored by mainstream media: The troubling militarizat…

Source: www.youtube.com

Know what scared me the most about the whole Boston Marathon bombing?

 

The nearly instantaneous para-militarized locked down of one of America’s largest and greatest cities.

 

How can anyone be ok with that?

 

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Full Show: The Crusade Against Reproductive Rights | Moyers & Company | BillMoyers.com

With new state laws and Supreme Court rulings, the battle over women’s reproductive rights is being fought more fiercely than ever. Roe v. Wade itself may be in peril. Planned Parenthood’s Cecile Richards joins Bill in the studio this week.

Source: billmoyers.com

More than half of women in America now live in states hostile to abortion. We have extremists on one party and one party only to thank for that.

If you vote FOR a Republican your are voting AGAINST all women.

Period. Full stop.

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