2014, a year closer to the end of America?

         The title may seem conspiracy like or even reactionary, but it is not far off base. If we honestly look at some of the things that transpired this year, you have to admit that this isn’t our parents America. The land we live in has fallen quite short of what I thought we were. But this is a disappointment I have gotten used to. Republican and Democrat blaming each other, while both are suckling Wall Streets teat. More insane nut bags threatening our “monkey” President Obama, because his skin color is bothering them. Conservatives pining for the time when white American men were the only people who mattered. Cops not just being bullies, but now shooting and killing unarmed black kids, then saying they felt threatened. Then trying to understand how an adult justifies shooting 12 times at someone running away, while my 10 year old daughter tells the grown up it is wrong. Cops using an illegal choke hold to kill a guy who was selling “loosey” cigarettes, only to hear more adults justify it. Then trying to explain to my 10 and 13 year old kids what is wrong with these people without calling them dumb. This list can go on and on. But seriously, what the hell is wrong with us?

            Everyone screams that things need to change, but when your voice is heard the majority sit home. The American society has failed. We are in general a weak and lazy group. Not all, as I said in general. To show our unhappiness we sit home, to show our social disobedience, we sit home. Sitting home and not participating seems to be the universal answer. America is the way it is because of US, WE THE PEOPLE CREATED THIS MESS. Our apathy has left a shell of a nation for my children. When we can change something, we do not because the devil we know is better then the devil we dont. Unfortunately we have left the fox in the henhouse, we stopped paying attention. Now everything seems corrupted, anyone with the tiniest bit of power has eaten the poison apple. Who cares, no one was watching them. Cops are beating black kids, don’t break the law. Killing black people, don’t break the law. But a black kills a white and all hell breaks loose. Politicians, even the ones where I live are under investigation for being corrupt.

           I love the freedoms I have but I have been negligent of my responsibilities as well. As a democracy, we are responsible for the actions of our representatives, we stopped telling them what to do because they quit doing it. If I stopped doing my job, I would get fired. CONGRESS SHOULD BE FIRED!!! 9% approval yet 94% reelected, what is wrong there. This apathy goes right into how people think. It is easy to hate and be bigoted, doesn’t take any thought. Simple minded people hate people based on color and creed. Stupid and loud people hold a lot of power in this country. How did we allow this? Money is some cases, because in some warped world money means intellegence. Laziness in others, why debate a dumb person, they will never change. We all seem to listen to the loudest speaker, typically the most ignorant person in the room. So this because our education system failed us or just because we lost faith in everything?

             I don’t have any answers. I can’t tell you what is right or wrong. I can tell you that my convictions are changing. I have always been a very liberal Democrat. The liberal part has grown stronger, I believe we need to help one another, foster a sense of community and continue to help the weakest among us to rise above where they are. We are a wealthy country who needs to commit resources to our infrastructure, education, homelessness and better health care, as well as mental health. We need to reel in the police, educate, better training and better mental health screening, as well as holding them accountable for their actions. The same needs to be done with our leaders on all kevels, state, local and federal. As well as TV and radio personalities who spread vitriol and lies. Time for all to be held accountable for their actions. That is a start. To improve our government, term limits for House, Senate and Supreme Court Justices. Time to remove money from politics and deny personhood of corporations. Even the playing field, end lobbying. The Democrat part has been called into question. I agree with them more, but they are also guilty of putting money before the people.

         In general 2014 was another year we failed our children. I will not anymore, my children will see that I believe it is time to stand. There is a movement in this country, it has been building slowly but it is building. I think it will reach a crescendo soon and we will see massive change. It is a dangerous and beautiful time to be alive. We will take our country back. We need to reverse the trend and improve in all aspects. If not America Jay be doomed to fail. Happy New Year! HAPPY NEW AMERICA!!!!

Hobby Lobby, religous freedom or force fed religion.

      The Hobby Lobby Supreme Court decision was a big in a few ways. First it proved that Supreme Court Justices should not be a lifetime appointment. Second it showed how far our country has strayed from what we are. Third it showed a complete disdain for the protections the United States Constitution afforded us. It all showed the Conservative wing celebrating a “victory” over the common folks.

The First Amendment of the Constitution states; Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free excersize thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peacably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. What does this mean? Do we the people still have said protections?

Making no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free excersize thereof. That would mean that no religion shall be protected over the other by states or federal government. Basic, simplistic view. Everyone is free to practice any religion they would like. Republicans like to say that we are a Christian nation, which as stated violates the First Amendment of the Constitution. They say prayer should be allowed in school and creationism taught, not all but many. But the only prayer they want in school are Christian prayers, all others be damned. Christian right wingers believe abortion is a sin and contraceptives are abortion. That statement has been lambasted by anyone who is a doctor but a degree means nothing in that discussion.

Republicans claim they are the protectors of our Constitution and that liberal Democrats want to rip it to shreds. Anyone with half a brain can see the obvious, Republicans do not care about the Constitution. I realize i have gone off topic but this will come together, I hope. In Republican lead states across the nation our right to peacably assemble is being stomped upon. People arrested and disgraced by the GOP while a criminal like Cliven Bundy and his group of hooligans walj away scot free. Armed people stopping a government agency from enforcing the law, supported by Republicans. Freedom of Speech is stomped upon dailly and being able to redress Government is a joke. Republicans are trying to take away our government voice, the right to vote.

Now not only is a corporation regarded as a person, they also can force their religious beliefs on their employees. Before the ACA was put into effect, Hobby Lobby offered health insurance plans that had access to birth control. Not only that, but much of their inventory is bought from China. China is notorious for its abortion rate. I think with those two sentences I established Hobby Lobby’s hypocracy. Why did Hobby Lobby’s stance change? I dont have the answer but anyone who isnt blind realizes how much the Republican base hates President Obama. Is that the reason? Who knows? But why now? Why did the Supreme Court rule directly on party lines?

How does my employers religion effect my health care decisions? Is that religious freedom? For the employer, yes but where is ours. How does my employers religion outweigh mine? If this ruling is correct; then if i worked for a Muslim company I have to adhere to Shariha Law. Or a Satanist for instance. Or would my choices be mine then? I am paying for a portion of my health care, as well as visits, meds or anything else Dr. related. How can my employer come between myself and my doctor? These questions arent answered yet but I have a feeling this ruling will have unintended consequences. I do not think these justices had the foresight to see what would be around the corner.

Whatever your opinion of religion is, you are entitled to it except when it comes to your employer. This is a idiotic interpretation of our Constitution. Ee have seen some awful rulings coming from this Supreme Court. Please remember you are free to practice your religion but your employers is more important.

Government shutdown, the Republican way of throwing a temper tantrum.

             The last time Republicans refused to negotiate on the debt ceiling our country had its credit rating downgraded. Why does a political party refuse to compromise?  President Obama has tried to work with Republicans since day one, despite Mitch McConnell and other Republican leaders making him a one term president their number one priority. Obviously hurting the economy or making Americans suffer doesn’t get in the way of their attempts to accomplish this. They lost, President Obama is in his second term. What is different?

Republican demands are simple, get rid of the ACA and do things our way or we will shut the government. Many of these Republicans voted to expand the debt ceiling 7 times under George W Bush. The same Bush who oversaw the largest jump in the National debt, from a surplus to about 11 trillion. They voted for the Bush tax cuts, which added about 2 trillion to the debt and 2 unfunded wars. But when President Obama is in their they become fiscal hawks. Where were you when the train derailed?

So why are we here? Why is a government shutdown looming? Each continuing resolution the Republican led house has passed is attempting to defund or change the ACA. What Republicans won’t tell you us that the plan to repeal the tax on medical machines for hospitals or other offices, a 2.32% tax by the way, will cost the government about $28 billion. The President tried to get Republicans involved in the ACA process but they refused, saying they would stop it. They didn’t, it is the law of the land, found Constitutional by the Supreme Court. So are Democrats and President Obama wrong for not negotiating on the debt limit? NO!!! They already tried, Republicans didn’t want to.

The GOP is worried about their corporate sponsors, those that lobby and pay for their services. They do not work for the Democratic majority. Unfortunately this is the society Republicans want. They want the gap between rich and poor to continue and they want American people in debt. It is a version of a Feudal society. They do not believe in Democracy or the Constitution they state they protect. They are willing to hurt the country for a Corporate formed ideology, what is referred to as a ruling class.

On Friday I listened to Mitch McConnell and his cohorts speak after a vote. One was speaking about President Obama and Democrats need to adjust their energy policy. It came from a man who recieved $700,000 from Natural Gas and Oil companies since 2006. As well as a party that recieved over $23 million in donations from the Oil industry since 2007. They recieved 88% of all donations from the Oil industry in that time. So as they say the proof is in the pudding. Look at the numbers and think about why Republicans are willing to shutdown our government and risk our economy.

This isn’t my grandparents America.

                 Our grandparents would not recognize the America we live in. The Government has let the people down now more than ever. Fracking is causing pollution to water and air across the country and Natural Gas Drillers are not being held responsible.

Because of an exemption in the Clean Water Act, Natural Gas Drilling Companies don’t have to report the chemicals they use. The Federal EPA does not control what happens in states, that is left mainly to the states EPA. Across the country the EPA was pressured to stop their investigations. Corporate money has shown its true hold on our government in the Fracking issue.

President Obama, who I am an ardent supporter of has done nothing for these Americans who are suffering. Democrats have done little more and Republicans share more of the guilt than any party. The lack of action from the Obama administration really bothers me. I know Democrats are not perfect, I have said so on many occasions. But this is an issue they should be perfect on. To let a government agency like the EPA be shutdown by corporate interests is inherently wrong.

The people have lost their voice in many cases. We lost it to lobbyist throwing money at Legislators and then pulling their puppet strings. The people don’t control our government, large entities like the Koch Brothers, ALEC, NRA and Exxon Mobile seem to control our everyday life. The Supreme Court exacerbated this problem with their Citizens United decisions. Corporations have the rights of people, but don’t get punished like the people when they break the law. The corporations have had their thumb on our head long enough. It is time for this to change.

Republicans are not job creators, useless law creators.

                  Over the last 5 years Republicans have done little to help the economy and in fact have impeded its recovery. The Sequester alone has cost several hundred thousand jobs; not to mention all the furloughs. They have worked with corporations to stop the will of the people and have made a mockery of our Government.

They believe in deregulation which directly led to the Financial Collapse, the Great Recession and the Housing Crisis. They have fought against reform in all of these markets, hurting our economy. They have not supported American ideals, leaning more toward a bigoted, short sighted corporate view of America. They have shot down Jobs Bill and Veterans Jobs Bills to concentrate on Anti-Abortion and Voter Regulation Laws.

The only way to make the ACA work is to work together. Republicans refuse and would rather destroy the middle class and social safety nets to prevent Tax Reform. They support the Citizens United Supreme Court decision but refuse to hold corporations accountable for their illegal actions. I and most other Americans do not think anyone is above the law or deserves a free ride. That is why not prosecuting CEOs of Too Big Too Fail Banks is a slap in America’s face.

I dont think our founding fathers imagined an American governed by corporations. Nor did they envision a Congress that would work against the countries best interests. But thus is where we are. Knuckleheads screaming for secession, yet they recieve more government money than anyone else. This is a country being held hostage by a party throwing a 4 year temper tantrum. Time for the rich white party to grow up.

What happens when a Congressman doesn’t listen to the NRA?

           Senator Pat Toomey is beginning to see the answer to that question. Toomey a Republican from Pennsylvania helped author the Manchin/Toomey Gun Bill, which of course was shot down, against NRA wishes. Before this he had an A rating with the NRA. Who are the NRA to rate any of our Senators? They are a lobbying group.

The Virginia based National Association for Gun Rights is running a smear campaign against Toomey for that Bill. The Bill required background checks on all gun sales, internet, gun shows and the classifieds. Current law only requires background checks on sales conducted by Federally licensed dealers. They are trying to connect Toomey with President Obama. They are attemptimg to connect him to the manufactured IRS, Benghazi and the NSA scandal. All of which have been proved fruitless. But Toomey is a conservative Republican who is on tge other side of most issues with President Obama.

Toomey now sees what Democrats deal with during each election cycle. Each election cycle the NRA and NAGR go into full attack mode. Portraying anyone who disagrees with their lobbying stance as trying to rob people of their Constitutional rights. All these Senators were trying to do was create sensible gun laws that might help prevent another massacre like Sandy Hook. Lobbyist attack Democrats for going to the bathroom the wrong way. This is what they mean when they say corporate America, politicians owned by corporations and lobbyist groups.

Republicans now on the other side of these attacks, now aren’t so convinced that Super-Pacs are right. They are also questioning the Citizens United decision. They haven’t felt the full effect of lobbyists and corporations trying to get you out of office. Maybe now Campaign Finance Reform can get done. Maybe this will help break the gridlock and help Gun Reform and Immigration Reform get done. But then again any Republican that goes against the grain finds themselves on the outside looking in. The Republican party looks to regress any progress made in America, how else do you explain their support of the Supreme Court gutting the Civil Rights Act. Republicans are beginning to dislike the system they created, it is now hurting them.

With Prop 8 and DOMA out of the way, the grassroots movenent for legalized marriage in all States begins.

           The Supreme Court in two 5-4 decisions, paved the way for legal same sex marriage. The spouses now will recieve the Federal Benefits of their partner in only the States where same sex marriage is already legal. These are landmark decisions for the LGBT community and a big win for civil rights.

Now efforts to ban same sex marriage are now intensifyig. As well as those trying to repeal those bans. Lawsuits by the LGBT community for the right to marry are also expected to intensify. The rulings set up State by State battles for same sex marriages. In Arizona supporters of sames sex marriage began circulating petitions to repeal the 2008 ban on same sex marriage by way of a ballot measure. Arizona is one of 29 states with Constitutional Amendments limiting marriage to one man, one woman.

Gay rights activists supported by Democrats hope to repeal bans in several states. Oregon, Ohio and Arkansas hope to do so with ballot measures as early as next year. In Indiana and West Virginia, Republicans hope to institute Constitutional bans, being that they are more durable than laws. Hawaii’s civil union law, adopted in 2011, is hoping to make same sex marriage legal. They have the support of Governor Neil Ambercrombie, who supports the right to same sex marriages.

Indiana, with the support of Governor Mike Huckabee, will consider a ban in January. Possibly putting the question to voters later next year. Republicans in West Virginia suggested there is an urgent need for a Constitutional Amendment to ban same sex marriage. Lawsuits are threatening bans in several states. Michigan and New Mexico are both facing legal challenges to their States Constitutional ban on same sex marriage. New Jersey is facing a legal challenge to the law denying same sex marriage.

My home State of Pennsylvania is still in the dark ages. In fact Republicans enforced Gods Law when openly gay State Rep. Brian Sims (D) attempted to speak to the legislature about DOMA and Prop 8. I thought religion could not be forced on anyone, religion should have nothing to do with politics. Rep. Sims plans to introduce a Bill legalizing same sex marriage. Pennsylvania is the only state in the Northeast that does not extend legal recognition to same sex couples. It us in fact 1 of only 5 states that doesn’t. The legislature in Pennsylvania is controlled by Republicans and Governor Corbett (R) openly opposes gay marriage. His 3 Democrat challengers ,who he trails by as many as 11 percentage points, all support same sex marriage.

These were huge victories for the LGBT community. But it is only the beginning of a larger battle. President Obama supports same sex marriage, so does Hillary Clinton. Republicans of course stand in the way of progress, but would you expect anything less. The party of no, is now the party of HELL NO!

Supreme Court has gouged the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

                  The decision the Supreme Court made today gouges the Civil Rights Act. The Conservative leaning, at leadt that is how it seems, really dropped the ball on this. The Act was put in place in order to protect African-Americans right to vote and make it more difficult for states found guilty at one point of making it difficult for people to vote.

The truly perplexing part of this is what made the Justices come to this decision. The 2012 Election was marred by Voter I.D. Laws and other restrictive Voter Laws. ALEC teamed with the Republican party in an attempt to steal the election by eliminating the poor and minorities from voting with these Laws. Across the country several Republican lawmakers said that these Voter I.D. Laws would cause them to win the election. Isn’t that evidence enough to not just uphold this act, but possibly even stregthen it. But to weaken it, that doesn’t make sense.

Republicans and Democrats are concerned about elections in Iraq, Iran and everywhere else being truly Democratic, yet they throw our Constitution out the window in their desperation to win an election. Voting is the backbone of our Democratic government and society. To take that away from anyone, because you want to win an election is patently unAmerican. But our Constitution only matters to Republicans when it works in their favor.

President Obama spoke of protecting our Constitutional right to vote and how no one has a right to take it away. This Voter Fraud that Republicans talk about is almost non-existent, 2 or 3 cases nationwide in the last election. Welcome to corporate America where a lobbyist is more important than a citizen, but according to the Supreme Court and Republicans, corporations are people too. They just do not held respobsible like a citizen.

Supreme Court rules in favor of Big Business.

               A sharply divided Supreme Court made it more difficult for Americans to sue businesses for discrimination and retaliation. It led to one of of the Judges to call on Congress to overturn the courts action. The High Court ruled 5-4 in 2 major decisions.

                  The Court’s Conservatives ruled that a person must be able to hire and fire someone to be considered a supervisor in discrimination lawsuits. This makes it harder to blame a business for a coworkers’ sexism or racism. The Court then decided to limit how juries can decide retaliation lawsuits. It says victims must prove employers wouldn’t havectaken action against them but for the intention to retaliate.

In the first case, Maetta Vance, who was a catering specialist at Ball State University, accused a co-worker, Shaundra Davis, of racial harrassment and retaliation in 2005. Vance sued the school under the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Vance said the University was liable since Davis was her supervisor. But a Federal Judge threw out her lawsuit, saying that since Davis couldn’t fire Vance, she was only a co-worker and since the University had taken corrective action, it was not liable fir Davis’ actions. The 7th Circuit upheld that decision and Vance appealed to the Supreme Court.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote both dissents for the Court’s Liberal wing. She said aloud in Court, “Both decisions dilute the strength of of Title VII in ways Congress could not have intended.” She also said the Supreme Court had corralled Title VII, a law designed to stop discrimination in work places.

But Justice Samuel Alito, who wrote the majority opinion, said Davis must have the authority to hire, fire, demote, promote, transfer or discipline Vance, in order for the University to be liable. He also said “We hold that an employee is a supervisor for purposed vicarious liability under Title VII if he or she were empowered by the employer to take tangible employment actions against the victim. Becausr there is no evidence BSU empowered Davis to take tangible employment actions against Vance, the judgement of the Seventh Circuit is affirmed.”

The Conservative portion of the Supreme Court usually rules in favor of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a Republican lobbying group. These are obviously decisions that benefit big bussiness. Of course it is at the expense of the worker. Gutting Title VII removes most, if not all responsibility to protect their employees. Obviously it is up to Democrats to fix this, because Republicans and their corporate sponsors got a win. The people lost again.

              

Governor Jindal’s attempts to government subsidize private and religious schools dealt a blow.

             Governor Bobby Jindal’s push to overhaul the state education system was dealt a major blow recently. The Louisiana Supreme Court ruled the state cannot fund it’s landmark voucher initiative with money allocated for Public schools. Governor Jindal, a Republican, vowed his scholarship program will move forward, despite the Supreme Court decision. He pledged to find another revenue source to pay for it.

                It is one of the most ambitious voucher efforts ever in the U.S. It has been set up to take money from student state allocations and use that to cover the cost of attending private or religious schools. In its ruling, the court said Louisiana’s minimum foundation program- the states per student allocation for each student to attend a public school-  cannot be used for anything else. The court made it clear it wasn’t passing judgement on the program itself. The decision dealt only with the diversion of dollars meant for the public schools that the court struck down 6-1.

                Louisiana Association of Educators, the Louisiana Federation of Teachers and the Louisiana School Boards Association brought the case to the court. Justice John Weimer wrote ” the clear, specific and unambiguous language of the Constitution” doesn’t allow the government to divert funds for public schools to pay for private or parochial schools. Critics say that this is an attempt to have taxpayers subsidize private and religious schools. Roughly 8,000 students have been approved to receive school vouchers in the coming academic year.

              Jindal said ‘We’re disappointed the funding mechanism was rejected, but we are committed to making sure this program continues and we will fund it through the budget. The bottom line is that our kids only get one chance to grow up and we are committed to making sure choice is alive and families can send their kids to a school of their choice.” Jindal has been a vocal critic of the American Public School System and Teachers Unions. He claims they give students no alternatives to failing schools. Critics have noted that schools accepting vouchers teach to different standards. In many cases, schools were teaching creationism, which is in direct violation of the 1st Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. In other they were teaching of the existence of the Lochness Monster, is that really important. Others offered no services for special needs children or children with disabilities.

             Jindal’s voucher schools teacher lessons such as slaveholder owners weren’t bad to their slaves. That the KKK wad concerned with morality. Klan targets were bootleggers, wife beaters and unmoral movies. This is another Republican attempt to privatise public schools and break up another union. Private and religious schools are not held up to the same educational standards as public schools. Their curriculum is not approved by anyone other than the church or staff and they do not have to meet the same levels of reading and math scores because they are not required to report them.

               The problem with our public school system is socio-economic. The poorer the district, the lower the test scores and grades and the lower the funding they recieve. Democrats and Republicans have been going back and forth over this for at least a decade. Privatization is not the answer, privatizing education makes it about profit not education. A good example is the Kids for Cash scheme in Luzerne County, Pa. Juvenile facilities were privatised and 2 judges were convicted for receiving money for illegally placing children in these facilities.

        The answer lies in better teachers, smaller class sizes and even funding per school. But with the state of our current government nothing will get done. Anything President Obama tries to do is immediately met with Republican resistance. Maybe if he told them that he and the Democrats hate public school and Teachers Unions Republicans would throw their support behind them. It might be worth a shot.

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