Awesome Week for America, Bad Week for Ted Cruz

Obama“This week, after more than fifty votes in Congress to repeal or weaken this law; after a Presidential election based in part on preserving or repealing this law; after multiple challenges to this law before the Supreme Court, we can now say this for certain: the Affordable Care Act still stands, it is working, and it is here to stay.”President Obama

Anthony Kennedy“No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right. The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is reversed. It is so ordered.” -Justice Anthony Kennedy

Ted Cruz 2“This week, we have twice seen Supreme Court justices violating their judicial oaths. Yesterday, the justices rewrote Obamacare, yet again, in order to force this failed law on the American people. Today, the Court doubled down with a 5–4 opinion that undermines not just the definition of marriage, but the very foundations of our representative form of government. Both decisions were judicial activism, plain and simple. Both were lawless.”Sen. Rafael Edward “Ted” Cruz

Yep, let the Supreme Court finally make decisions that are Constitutional and positively impacts the lives of millions of American citizens, and Senator Rafael Edward “Ted” Cruz throws a hissy-fit because the rulings did not go his way.

After all, who do the Supreme Court Justices think they are, constitutional experts!

I’m sure Cruz and his Republican cronies will waste the next two years trying to overturn these Supreme Court decisions instead of doing something useful.

 

 

 

 

Americans Have Given Up Without a Fight

I continue to be amazed at how Americans have become so apathetic with our political process and democracy in general. America was founded on a constitution that guarantees basic civil/human rights, religious liberty, political rights, independent courts of law, and fair and free elections. A true Government of the people, by the people, for the people. A democracy in which the ultimate power rests with the people and administered by people that are elected to represent them in the day-to-day business of the people’s government.

Our two political parties have always been opponents, but ultimately they would do what was best for the country and the people they represent. Now they are enemies, full of hatred for each other, with their own interests put ahead of the people’s needs. Their loyalty and focus has transitioned from the needs of the people to the demands of their overlords – their financiers.

In the past, those politicians that were “bought and paid for” by those with money, who obviously expected favors in return, were limited to just a few politicians. When exposed, these “bought and paid for” politicians would eventually get voted out of office.

Today, “bought and paid for” is the norm in politics. Not only politicians, but entire political parties, at all levels of government, are “bought and paid for” by ultra-rich billionaires. Even to the point of having their special interest “think tanks” writing the bills for the politicians to submit and pass.

As in the old Medieval Feudal System, these overlords are at the top of the pyramid and demand allegiance from their minions below. Of course, at the bottom of the pyramid rests the peasants and laborers.

A prime example of this was in the news recently. When running for Governor in Louisiana, Bobby Jindal had the backing of Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR). However, to get Norquist’s backing, Jindal had to vow allegiance to Norquist and his “no tax increase” policy. Governor Jindal has continually insisted that the Louisiana budget be balanced without tax increases, despite the prospect of devastating cuts to higher education and health care. Because of his “no tax increase” allegiance, Louisiana is now suffering. Gone are $800 million from the Medicaid Trust Fund for the Elderly and $450 million for providing development incentives, and the rainy day fund has dropped from $730 million to $460 million on his watch. As Louisiana’s legislature urgently tries to find a solution, the governor has threatened to veto any budget plan or tax bills that does not have his overlord’s, Grover Norquist, blessing.

So the economy and welfare of the State of Louisiana and it’s people are at the mercy of an anti-tax lobbying group, founded by Grover Norquist, a guy that was caught laundering money for Jack Abramofff and whom the New York Times has called “one of the Republican Party’s most influential policy strategists”. Of course, Norquist has his own overlords, the Koch brothers and other big industry giants.

We have sat on our hands while our democracy has slowly transitioned to an oligarchy. We have sat idly by while our basic civil/human rights are under attack and being relinquished, all in the name of security; our religious liberty has been taken over by in-your-face extremists that don’t accept other religions and demand politicians follow religious beliefs when passing laws; our political rights are being taken away from us by our politicians as they pass laws aimed at voter suppression; our fair and free elections are a thing of the past as our elections and representatives are bought and paid for by super rich billionaires; and our independent courts of law, including the Supreme Court, are totally politicized.

One of the primary goals of these ultra-rich overlords is the privatization of government services. In other words, they want to transition services that are currently provided by the government, funded by the people’s taxes, to services provided by for-profit corporations, which are owned by the overlords. The Center for Media and Democracy has called this privatization goal “a hostile takeover of our schools, roads, prisons, drinking water, and even government itself”.

An oligarchy is a form of government in which most of the political power effectively rests with a small segment of society, typically the people who have the most wealth, military strength, ruthlessness or political influence.

I would say this just about fits our current state of affairs, and we got here by giving up without a fight.

koch family and stalin

 

To understand how the Koch brothers have mastered this process, watch the following video on how the Koch brothers are attacking Social Security.

 

Patriot Act – Unwanted and Overreaching Intrusion into Our Private Lives

The USA Patriot Act was a great name for marketing a bill that essentially opened the door for our government to spy on American citizens in the name of national security.

The USA Patriot Act of 2001 actually stands for “Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001.”

George Bush - Patriot ActThe Patriot Act was a knee-jerk reaction to 9/11. Playing off the fears of the American population and their Congressional representatives, the 300+ page bill was fast-tracked to passage. The bill was submitted to the House on October 24, 2001 and a vote scheduled within an hour. The Act passed the House 357 to 66. On October 25, 2001, the Act passed the Senate by 98 to 1, with Democratic Senator Russ Feingold the only dissenting vote. President George W. Bush signed the USA Patriot Act into law on October 26, 2001.

Obviously the bill did not get read by the House members with only a one hour window for review. Nonetheless, they still voted and passed the bill without really understanding what they were passing. When asked about this, Congressman John Conyers, Jr. commented “We don’t read most of the bills. Do you really know what that would entail if we read every bill that we passed?”

“We’re not sacrificing civil liberties. We’re securing civil liberties.”
– Attorney General John Ashcroft, September 11, 2002

 The purpose of the Patriot Act was to make it easier for the law enforcement agencies to prevent future terrorist attacks against Americans by having access to private information about suspected terrorists. However, it has facilitated the unwanted and overreaching intrusion of government into our own private lives, with very little evidence or cause. The Patriot Act made it easier for the government to monitor phone and email communications, collect bank and credit reporting records, and track the activity of innocent Americans. It even required public libraries to keep records of who checked out what books, and to submit them to the government upon request. Even worse, it allows the government to arrest and detain American citizens without charge or trial if there is reasonable suspicion that the person is somehow associated with terrorist activity. The Patriot Act actually turns regular American citizens into suspects.

Prior to Edward Snowden’s disclosures we really did not know or understand the scope of our government’s surveillance program. We have now learned that the NSA is collecting massive amounts of bulk data on all American citizens. Government and law enforcement agencies have access to this private personal data without your approval, without you ever knowing, and without a warrant from a judge.

This is a very fine line between violating American citizen’s rights and protecting their lives. Have we sacrificed our civil liberties by creating a police state?

It has been almost fifteen years since the Patriot Act was enacted and the government has obviously taken advantage of our weakened privacy laws and the public’s lack of knowledge. It is time to review every aspect of the Patriot Act and replace it with a law that restores our civil rights and privacy while still providing government and law enforcement agencies with the tools they need to assist in providing national security, with limitations.

Last week, the Inspector General of the Department of Justice released a report in which he found that the bulk collection of data has not stopped a single act of terror or aided a single federal terrorism prosecution since the Patriot Act became law on October 26, 2001.

This bulk collection of data statute is the section of the Patriot Act that is set to expire on June 1 unless Congress passes an extension.

Welcome to the National Security State of 2015

Re-Posted from TomDispatch.com | by Tom Engelhart

This is a great, eye-opening post. It pulls together all the links as to how Washington has, over the past 50 years, perpetuated such a militarized economy based on American insecurity. Even more daunting, it will be almost impossible to turn it around.

<snip>

Official Washington has, that is, invented a system so dumb, so extreme, so fundamentalist, and so deeply entrenched in our world that changing it will surely prove a stunningly difficult task.

Welcome to the new world of American insecurity and to the nightmarish inheritance we are preparing for our children and grandchildren.

A Self-Perpetuating Machine for American Insecurity
Welcome to the National Security State of 2015
By Tom Engelhardt

http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175939/tomgram%3A_engelhardt%2C_feeling_insecure_in_2015/#more

America….Are You Proud?

America. The greatest country in the world. 

WAKE UP!!!

We have gone from being the “Best of the Best” to the “Best of the Worse!”

America the best country at being lastWhat happened to us?

Who would ever think that we would be saying this about the United States of America?

So, stop what you’re doing and take a minute to focus on this picture.

Are you proud of this?

“WHAT THE HELL HAVE WE BECOME?”

For my commentary on this subject, please read my blog posts below.

What Happened to my America

What Happened to my America – Part II

What Happened to My America – Part II

Statue of Liberty CryingI am lucky enough to have grown up in America in a time when it was truly the model for the rest of the world of what a freedom-based, democratic country was all about. A country where everyone had the opportunity to live a good life; everyone was provided a good public education; a society that cared about its citizens; health care was available to all; your home was your castle; your privacy and rights were golden and protected; church was what Sunday was all about, where you could go to practice your religion of choice; people were civil to one another; we welcomed freedom-seeking immigrants from other countries with open arms; we had an environment where you felt safe and secure; and we had a government that represented the people and protected all of these freedoms for us.

What happened to my America? – Part II

Divider-1

When did the demise of our socioeconomic status begin?

I believe the foundation was laid in 1981 when Ronald Reagan became President. He had a concept that he could restore America’s economy by cutting taxes and promoting unrestricted free-market activity (Reaganomics). He claimed that by cutting taxes it would generate more revenue, so he gave massive tax cuts to the wealthy and promised that the benefits would trickle-down to the middle class (“trickle-down theory”).

But it didn’t work. The rich got richer and the promised benefits of his “trickle-down theory” did not happen for middle class Americans. By the late 1980s, middle-class incomes were barely higher than they had been a decade before, and the poverty rate had actually risen.

Reaganomics smallerPresident Reagan was the one that started cutting the funding for social services for working-class Americans. It was during his presidency that helping the needy and impoverished digressed to ignoring or walking away from them; and homelessness became a growing problem. And President Reagan did little or nothing to stop it.

HomelessThe National Housing Institute underlines that is the Reagan legacy: “The two-term president was no friend to America’s cities or its poor. Reagan came to office in 1981 with a mandate to reduce federal spending. In reality, he increased it through the escalating military budget, all the while slashing funds for domestic programs that assisted working class Americans, particularly the poor.

Why would he do this? The following two quotes by him will tell you what his mindset was all about…

Medicaid Recipients – “…a faceless mass, waiting for handouts.” –Ronald Reagan, 1965.

Unemployment Benefits – “Unemployment insurance is a pre-paid vacation for freeloaders.” –California Governor Ronald Reagan, in the Sacramento Bee, April 28, 1966

It was during President Reagan’s tenure that the differences in financial status between the rich and the poor increased dramatically, morphing into the current socioeconomic classes of “haves” and “have nots.”

Obviously, this is still the Republican manner today.

Save Middle ClassThis is my second blog in a series on “What Happened to My America.”

To read my first blog on “What Happened to My America”  https://rationalopinionsblog.com/2014/01/18/what-happened-to-my-america/

I really want to hear your comments on this topic.

What do you think about the status of our country and the direction it’s going?

What Happened to My America

Statue of LibertyGive me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

I am lucky enough to have grown up in America in a time when it was truly the model for the rest of the world of what a freedom-based, democratic country was all about. A country where everyone had the opportunity to live a good life; everyone was provided a good public education; a society that cared about its citizens; health care was available to all; your home was your castle; your privacy and rights were golden and protected; church was what Sunday was all about, where you could go to practice your religion of choice; people were civil to one another; we welcomed freedom-seeking immigrants from other countries with open arms; we had an environment where you felt safe and secure; and we had a government that represented the people and protected all of these freedoms for us. What happened to my America?

Statue of Liberty CryingFast-forward to today. America is no longer the model that the world wants to emulate. We have become a country that is divided into two classes: the “haves” and the “have nots”; public education is in shambles (not because of the teachers); higher education costs are putting students into long-term debt; our society is morphing into a “you’re on your own” mentality”; health care has become capitalistic and almost unattainable for most; our rights and privacy have been totally eroded – all in the name of security; religious fanaticism and intolerance has gone rampant; civility and proper societal behavior is gone; immigrants are now just fodder for cheap labor and abuse; being safe and secure is evolving into a “Police-State”; and our Government has become totally corrupted by big-money and controlled by corporations. What happened to my America?

What Happend to My America pic - 555x365How did “we the people” let this happen? How did we let our government turn into such a totally dysfunctional entity that does not hide the fact that it favors the rich and corporations over the needs of “we the people”? How did we let our rights and our privacy be taken away so easily? How did we get so enamored with guns and the rights to carry them openly in society? How did we let religion transition from worship, prayer and all things good into being an apparatus for politicians and fanatical ideologists to manipulate? How did we let our television, radio, and newspapers become propaganda and misinformation tools? Obviously, this list could probably go on-and-on, enough to fill a book. What happened to my America?

The point is that all these changes have happened in small, incremental bits over time. Until you can stop and take the time to look back to see how far, and how much, things have changed, you won’t see the big picture and really understand. Analogy: what if you hadn’t looked in a mirror in thirty years; then one day you take the time to stop, and look into one. The first reaction would be…who is that? Then…that can’t be me. Then…I couldn’t have changed that much…Then…how did I let this happen to me?

Sheeple Image“We the people” have become gullible, submissive, and intellectually lazy.  Everyone is running so hard and fast just to survive, they don’t have time to pay attention to what’s going on around them. We have become a populace of sheep, such that we just follow along, don’t ask questions, and do whatever we’re told to do by the talking heads on television and radio. Case in point: Teabaggers and their followers.

Consider this: the next generation, today’s young adults and children, are not going to know anything different. They are growing up in today’s society and will only have this time as their “point of reference” when looking back in the future. Today will be their “good old days”…

This is my first in a series of blogs on this topic. I really want to hear your comments on this blog and the topic.

What do you think about the status of our country and the direction it’s going?

[ All images used in this blog can be found in the public domain ]