What If Teapublicans Get Their Way In 2012?

After watching their debates and reading the conservative legislation being pushed through Congress and our state legislatures, it’s clear that Teapublicans will not be satisfied until they:

– Replace Social Security with retirement accounts based on volatile stock markets.
– Replace Medicare with vouchers leaving seniors at the mercy of private insurers.
– Repeal “Obamacare” making health care unaffordable for 60 million people.
– Eliminate insurance coverage for contraception.
– Eliminate all forms of public assistance for the poor.
– Eliminate unemployment insurance.
– Replace progressive taxes with a flat tax to benefit the wealthy.
– Reduce or eliminate taxes for corporations.
– Eliminate the EPA allowing corporations to foul our air and water.
– Eliminate oil and gas regulations leading to more environmental disasters.
– Open national park lands, such as the Grand Canyon, to mining.
– Eliminate Wall Street regulations designed to prevent economic collapses.
– Eliminate the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that regulates credit cards.
– Eliminate the Federal Reserve.
– Eliminate the Department of Labor along with labor unions.
– Eliminate pensions and benefits for public employees.
– Eliminate the Department of Education along with public schools.
– Mandate that schools ban the teaching of evolution.
– Eliminate the US Postal Service.
– Eliminate funding for women’s health care through Planned Parenthood.
– Eliminate all subsidies for the development of alternative energy.
– Eliminate funding for the National Endowment for the Arts.
– Eliminate funding for National Public Radio and Public Television.
– Privatize prisons, roads, parks and virtually every other public entity.
– Eliminate all restrictions on firearms and ammunition.
– Eliminate all restrictions on hunting.
– Repeal the Constitution’s establishment clause that prevents a state-sponsored religion.

Seriously, is this the kind of country you want?

A Truly Momentous Court Decision.

With the US Supreme Court poised to decide on the insurance mandate of “Obamacare,” there are a few things to keep in mind.

First, the idea of the mandate that Teapublicans now oppose was originated by…you guessed it…Teapublicans!

Second, the federal government already mandates that our citizens and businesses purchase insurance…even health insurance.  You are currently mandated to pay for Social Security insurance and Medicare, and employers are mandated to pay for unemployment insurance.

What’s different about the federal government mandating that we pay for health insurance?

If the Court rules that the insurance mandate is unconstitutional, will we then see lawsuits claiming that the other mandates are unconstitutional as well?  Will we no longer have Social Security, Medicare, and unemployment insurance?  Teapublicans have already tried to dismantle these safety nets.

And what will happen to our health care system?  Since Congress has previously passed legislation mandating hospitals to provide emergency medical treatment to anyone, regardless of their ability to pay, those costs will continue to be passed along to the insured through higher fees.  Given the fact that more than 60 million Americans will be left uninsured, health care costs will continue to rise at a rate more than 10 times that of inflation.

Moreover, the rising cost of health care will continue to push multi-national corporations to send jobs overseas.  The number of uninsured will continue to increase, unemployment will remain high, and quality health care will eventually become affordable only to the wealthy.

It’s no exaggeration to state that this decision is the most important in the Court’s history.  The political implications will be even greater than the conservative majority voting to give the 2000 election to George W. Bush and voting to permit corporations to buy our elections.

Calling all George Zimmermans.

Displaying its continuing contempt for the federal government, the Arizona legislature is considering a bill that would put more guns on our border in the hands of a volunteer militia under the direction of Governor Brewer. The proposed law known as SB1083, if passed and signed into law by our scorpion-eating governor, would create an “Arizona Special Missions Unit” at the bargain price of $1.4 million dollars.

The militia would consist entirely of volunteers who would provide their own weapons, except those which may be requisitioned by the governor from the Dept. of Defense.  Of course, that would be no problem as the state is filled with heavily armed zealots with itchy trigger fingers.  Indeed, the existing armaments of many Arizona civilians would be the envy of many of the world’s armies.

The bill would permit the unit to apprehend suspects and seize property.  It would also provide immunity from prosecution for the volunteers for their actions while “on duty.”  The bill provides for payment of up to $100 per day while on duty and up to $50 for one day of training per month.

Teapublican sponsors of the bill say it will aide the US Border Patrol and National Guard in stopping illegal immigration. But given the fact that the AZ Lege is on the verge of passing another “birther” bill, one assumes Governor Brewer might take her finger wagging to the next level and direct the unit to arrest President Obama on his next visit.

More realistically, the bill is likely to loose dozens of Dirty Harry wannabes in the mold of George Zimmerman on our international border.  (George Zimmerman is, of course, the Sanford, Florida neighborhood watch captain who trailed an unarmed teenager and allegedly gunned him down in “self-defense.”)

What could possibly go wrong with that?

The Real Three Stooges.

The Three Stooges movie, which will soon be opening at a theater near you, is puzzling in many ways.  Why try to recreate a trio so iconic to American culture?  Is Hollywood so devoid of creativity that it can’t find something new?  More important, if you are going to make such a movie why not cast the starring roles with a contemporary trio of individuals who, in their own way, are every bit as comedic as the originals?

With apologies to Moe Howard, Curly Howard and Larry Fine, certainly the movie producers could do no better than Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum.

For months, these three have appeared in a hilarious television series on most of the major networks.  They have toured the country displaying their comedic talents to millions.  They have presented statements and ideas even more outrageous than the originals.  Moreover, they need no writers.  They seem to think up this stuff all by themselves!

All that we could hope for is that they add some slapstick physical comedy to their routines.  How hilarious would it be to see Newt poke Rick in the eyes?  Or to see Mitt slap Newt’s head and stomp Rick’s foot?  How could it fail?

The actors in the new feature film have some big shoes to fill.

Trayvon Martin Murder Shows Danger Of Carrying Handguns.

No matter what happens to the “neighborhood watch captain” who gunned down an unarmed 17-year-old in Florida, two things are clear:  A promising young man’s life has been cut tragically short, and those who carry guns are all too inclined to use them.

Despite NRA claims, handguns in the hands of untrained citizens pose a greater danger to innocent people and to themselves than to violent criminals; a fact that is overwhelmingly supported by gun violence statistics.

In my opinion, there are two types of people who choose to carry handguns: 1 – Those who are seeking trouble.  2 – Those who have an irrational fear of others, particularly those who look different.  It appears the Florida shooter fits both categories.

George Zimmerman reported a “suspicious” person to 911.  But despite being told by the police dispatcher to avoid the young man, he followed Trayvon Martin with his gun drawn and he shot him.  We don’t know Mr. Zimmerman’s state of mind.  And we don’t know what led him to shoot.  But we do know that the shooting was unnecessary.  George Zimmerman could, and should, have kept his distance and allowed police to do their jobs.

So what now?

The best way to pay tribute to this young man is to do our best to ensure that others aren’t victimized by gun-toting Dirty Harry wannabes.  We can start by making sure that George Zimmerman is charged with murder (manslaughter at minimum).  Since 911 calls prove that Zimmerman pursued Martin, a claim of self-defense should not be an option.  Next, Florida’s law needs to be changed to require the shooter to prove that he shot in self-defense.  Not the other way around.  Ideally, we would also eliminate all handguns in the US.  Unfortunately, that genie is out of the bottle.  There are simply too many to destroy.  But we can discourage people from carrying handguns.  And we can require anyone who owns a handgun to obtain training and a license so that we can minimize the number of George Zimmerman’s on our streets.

Why should it be more difficult for someone to obtain a license to operate a car than to carry a handgun?

On Being Arizona.

Arizona’s finger-wagging, scorpion-eating Governor and its Teapublican legislature continue to blame President Obama for federal policies they claim have nearly bankrupted the state.  They brag that the state has been able to weather the economic downturn only because of their firm, cost-cutting measures.

But based on their actions, it’s clearly untrue.  The Arizona legislature apparently has so much money that it feels comfortable throwing it away!

For example, by cutting corporate taxes 18 years in a row and approving millions in tax credits for private schools, the state has dramatically reduced revenue. At the same time, the legislature wants to force the state Board of Regents to spend more than $13 million on metal detectors and storage lockers to keep guns out of college classrooms should a misguided new gun bill be passed into law.

One legislator wants to spend more than $8 million on a special election to put a Teapublican version of redistricting maps before the voters because he doesn’t like the maps created by an Independent Redistricting Commission. The Teapublican legislature has already spent tens of thousands on legal fees in an unconstitutional attempt to remove the chair of the Independent Redistricting Commission. It has spent millions in legal fees to defend SB1070. It has spent tens of thousands for legal fees in an attempt to stop voter-approved medical marijuana. And it’s spending tens of thousands more to fight the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare).

And that’s just scratching the surface.

Despite a voter-approved 1 percent increase in the state sales tax intended to improve education, the Teapublican legislature refused to allocate the funds to public schools.  The legislature is treating the funds as a “surplus,” so it can further cut taxes for corporations and the wealthy.  As a result, teacher salaries are now so low that many automatically qualify for food stamps and Medicaid.  Some schools can no longer afford to perform routine building maintenance, to purchase replacement school buses, or even to buy textbooks.

Under Teapublican leadership, Arizona’s state capitol has been sold to private investors, thousands of children are being denied access to health insurance jeopardizing thousands of health care jobs throughout the state, and state parks have been closed or sold to local communities.

Instead of trying to correct these problems and improve the state’s moribund economy, Teapublicans have proposed bills that would permit hunters to use silencers and high-capacity magazines.  They’ve passed a bill allowing Bible study in public schools while banning Latino history courses.

They’re considering a new “birther” bill, an assortment of anti-union bills, a variety of anti-immigrant bills, and the usual anti-abortion bills.  And, in what appears to be the centerpiece of Teapublican legislative quackery, they’re pushing a bill that would allow employers to deny contraception for female employees unless the women can prove that the prescription is needed for medical reasons.  (I can see it now – female employees being asked to climb on their desks for a vaginal examination by their bosses.)

Of course, if many of these bills are signed into law, they will immediately be challenged in court.  As a result, the only people who are thriving in Arizona are the attorneys.

How Long Will US Offer Unquestioned Support Of Israel?

I recognize that merely asking the question is highly controversial.  I am also well aware of the horrors experienced by the Jewish people and I am very sympathetic.  But their experiences are not entirely unique.  Armenians, Cambodians, Gypsies, Hungarians, Native Americans, Poles, Ukranians, Russians, Rwandans, Sudanese and many other groups also have been the victims of genocide.  Yet, those groups have not enjoyed the same level of support from the US.

So what makes Israel unique?

Certainly, Israel deserved our backing following its formation after World War II.  But since the 1967 Six Day War, Israel’s military power has been unchallenged in the region.  It still faces threats, but with a modern armament including, by most accounts, nuclear weapons, it is more than capable of standing on its own.

Make no mistake. I have no issue with our continued sale of weapons to Israel so that it can continue to defend itself.  But I see no need for the US to continue to pay for those weapons.  Moreover, facing our own economic problems, I see little need to continue additional economic assistance given Israel’s high standard of living as compared to the rest of the world.

In 2010, Israel’s standard of living ranked 47th out of 194 nations.  And, according to the Human Development Index which compares life expectancy, literacy, education and standard of living, Israel ranked 17th in 2011.  That places Israel ahead of Belgium, Austria, France, Finland, Spain, Italy and many other advanced nations.

My biggest reason to question our blind allegiance is the growing belligerence of Israeli leaders.  Rather than being a victim, Israel has begun to more closely resemble the mischievious little brother who causes problems knowing that big brother (the US) will come to its aid and clean up its messes.

For example, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has allowed Israeli settlements to continue unabated on the West Bank.  Israel continues to make life extremely difficult for residents of Gaza, and its policy of disproportionate response to Palestinian attacks continues to stir regional anger.  Our Israeli friends have even deemed it necessary to send spies to uncover US military secrets.  Moreover, it would seem that Israel has little reason to negotiate with Palestinians as long as its security is assured by the world’s only superpower.

Ignoring US and EU requests for patience, Netanyahu is now threatening a pre-emptive strike on Iran’s nuclear program.  If Israel acts on those threats, it could well lead to further destablization of the Middle East, to cause Iran to fund regional dictators and terrorists who oppose the US, to cause a new civil war between Shiite and Sunni Muslims, and to dramatically increase world oil prices. In short, an attack on Iran could turn out much worse than President Bush’s misadventures in Iraq.

Who wouldn’t want that?

The New GOP = God’s Official Party?

Does God take sides in politics? Does He select candidates? Does She choose the issues? Apparently, the GOP thinks so. For more than 30 years, conservative politicians have pandered to evangelical “Christians.” They have bowed at the altar of the likes of Jerry Falwell, James Dobson and Pat Robertson. In return, evangelical pastors have preached conservative “values” from the pulpit.  And bishops have condemned those with whom they disagree.

Teapublicans have become so secure in their faith that God intended the US to be a God-fearing, anti-government, anti-tax, anti-regulation, anti-union, anti-gay, anti-minority, anti-abortion, anti-science, anti-education nation, they have convinced themselves that all Democrats and liberals are evil…the followers of Satan.

They hear this nonsense every day on “Christian” radio and television. They hear venonmous diatribes from Rush “Boss Hog” Limbaugh and other right wing radio hosts.  And they hear the daily rants and Teapublican talking points of Fox News Channel.  All of this has made conservativism every bit as much a religion to them as Catholicism and Protestantism.

Teapublicans have convinced themselves that every American will be rich as soon as they get the “big-government, high-taxation” Democrats out of their lives.  They believe public education is a liberal tool intended to indoctinate their children in anti-Christian beliefs such as evolution.  They believe that, if climate change really exists, it’s simply God’s way of testing the faithful.  They believe…well, they just believe.

As a result, they cannot ever allow themselves to compromise with the “evil-doers” on the left.  After all, that would be akin to compromising with the Devil himself.

Teapublican Mandated Nonsense.

We all know that Teapublicans have their knickers in a knot over the insurance mandates in President Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Not only are individuals mandated to carry insurance. Organizations are mandated to offer insurance that covers many types of preventative care, including (OMG!) contraception!

Teapublicans claim that such mandates are unconstitutional and must be repealed immediately. They claim that mandates are evidence of the “socialist, out-of-control big government of the Obama administration.”

But what about the Teapublican-ordered mandates that have been forced upon us?

Teapublicans have been pushing mandates on the American citizenry for many years. Indeed, the idea for health insurance mandates began with the very conservative Heritage Foundation. The idea was promoted by Richard Nixon and Bob Dole, and it was first implemented by Teapublican presidential frontrunner, Mitt Romney.

In a number of states, Teapublicans have mandated ultrasound exams for pregnant women considering an aborton. In most states, Teapublicans have mandated that voters present a photo ID with a current address. Most states have mandated that businesses, bars, even churches post signs if they choose not to allow guns in their establishments. In Florida, Teapublicans have mandated that those down on their luck pay for drug tests before receiving public assistance. In Arizona, Teapublicans are pushing a mandate that the unemployed pay for drug tests before they can receive benefits from their unemployment insurance. And, in many states, Teapublicans have mandated that funds intended for public schools be used for private and parochial schools.

And that’s just scratching the surface. We could also include such Teapublican mandates that marriage be only between and man and a woman, that the sale of the Plan B contraceptive be banned because they consider it tatamount to abortion, etc. And, of course, we can’t forget all those Teapublican–sponsored mandates that either failed to become law or were tossed out by the courts, such as mandatory prayer in schools, religious symbols in government buildings and mandates that the US be officially recognized as a “Christian” nation.

It seems that, for Teapublicans, a policy is only a mandate if you disagree with it.

What Is NRA’s Endgame?

For most of US history, the goal of civilized people was to reduce our reliance on guns to settle arguments. In many towns, guns were banned within city limits. In others, people were asked to check their guns with the marshall when they came to town. As a result, even in the so-called “Wild West,” there were fewer shootings than now.

Beginning in 1980, everything changed. That was the year the National Rifle Association first became involved in politics, backing NRA-member Ronald Reagan over Jimmy Carter for president. Since then, the NRA and its 4.3 million members have arguably become the most effective lobbying group in the US.

The group writes legislation with the clear intent of eliminating all gun laws. In 2004, it successfully fought renewal of the Federal Assault Weapons Ban and it has fought to eliminate gun restrictions ever since. 49 states now have NRA-backed “shall carry” laws that eliminate restrictions on concealed weapons. And in states like Arizona, a new round of NRA-created bills is wending its way through the wing nut-dominated legislature. There’s a bill to allow guns on college campuses, a bill to permit “hunters” to use silencers, and a bill to eliminate limits on the size of magazines.

High-capacity magazines? Silencers? Since animals don’t shoot back, what are the NRA members planning on hunting?

Based on Wayne’s Comment on the NRA website, it would seem that the organization’s most high-priority prey is President Barack Obama.

“We’ve been fighting for our Second Amendment rights since 1871, but never has there been a more critical time for our firearm freedoms. The danger is real, the stakes are immense, and the task won’t be easy. Together, however, I know NRA members will go “All In” this election season to deny Obama the opportunity to nominate any more anti-gun judges to the nation’s high court.” – Wayne LaPierre

The real question is where will all this nonsense end? There is no credible threat that anyone is planning on taking away our guns. In fact, gun ownership has expanded every year. Not surprisingly, so has gun violence. But the Second Amendment is not in jeopardy. So what does the NRA really want aside from silencers and high-capacity magazines? Fully automatic assault rifles for hunters? Sniper weapons? RPGs? Tanks? Where does it end? And if there is an end, will anyone survive?

Those are fair questions.