March 28th, 2012 ~ Today, legal arguments concluded in the Supreme Court case challenging the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and depending on the court's decision, to be made public in June, the future of the entire act may be in jeopardy. Our country is now in the legislative equivalent of suspended animation. Will our Supreme Court's decision reaffirm America as a nation of laws, or render itself and our centuries of legal precedent irrelevant and meaningless?
There are many Latin "terms of art" in the legal profession. Some, like Habeus Corpus, are well-known terms we know from TV police dramas if not from our tragically underfunded public education system. Another not so well known term is "Stare Decisis"; the principle that judges should "stand by decisions" or precedents of prior rulings on similar matters.
Our Supreme Court Justices would be well advised to keep this principle close to heart in making their decision on whether or not the mandate falls within the pervue of the "Commerce Clause" and the "Necessary and Proper Clause" of our Constitution's Article 1. A group of nine NOMINATED FOR LIFE justices are literally deciding on whether or not OUR ELECTED Senators, Representatives, and President have the power to create and enact legislation. The ACA's individual mandate has a wealth of precedent to draw on from the Supreme Court's own judicial history. We, The People, will be paying EXTREMELY CLOSE attention to the decision of these politically appointed jurists in this matter.
March 28th, 2012 ~ Over a month has passed since the February 26th shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin and his killer, George Zimmerman, is still prowling the streets with the murder weapon. I've listened to the original recording of George Zimmerman's cellphone call to Sanford, Florida police and while I have my own problems determining whether Zimmerman was saying "...f***ing coon" or something else, I DO know that purported "close friend" Joe Oliver, has clearly stated in MANY on-camera interviews, that Zimmerman was saying "...f***ing goon" a "term of endearment" for the child Zimmerman was about to murder, rather than "...f***ing coon"; a more likely term for the person you're about to kill.
I'll admit, my Wife and I are at odds about the actual word we heard, but we agree the utterance began with a hard "C" sound and NOT a hard "G" sound. So if "close friend" Joe Oliver insists the word was "Goon", I have little choice but to recognize the word "Coon", regardless of anything else I think I might have heard.
Why is this important? It's important because it provides the possibility of this murder being prosecuted by Federal authorities under our nation's "hate crime laws". So, if Joe Oliver truly is a "close friend" of George Zimmerman, I can only say "with friends like that..."
March 22nd, 2012 ~ In the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin on the evening of February 26th, his murderer has not been detained by Sanford, Florida police for a single second. There has been no evidentiary sequestration of the murder weapon; no clothing collected, DNA or GSR swabs collected, breathalizer or basic drug tests collected, no detailed, on-the-record statement from the shooter, George Zimmerman. In short, NONE of the STANDARD police procedures of EVERY REPUTABLE POLICE FORCE ACROSS THE ENTIRE UNITED STATES have been followed in this case.
What can we infer from this seeming GROSS INCOMPETENCE? Is it indicative of a bunch of Barney Fife's faced with the most serious crime? I don't think so. Even Barney, as inept as this fictional character might have been, at least TRIED to do his job. I can understand Brevard-Seminole State Attorney Norm Wolfinger having a problem bringing a Grand Jury "true bill" in this matter. What has Sanford police Chief Bill Lee provided Mr. Wolfinger to work with? NOTHING.
Yet now, Florida Governor Rick Scott and State Attorney General Pam Bondi have appointed a "Special Prosecutor" and Sanford Police Chief Lee has "temporarily stepped down". How does this help find justice for a murdered child when NO EVIDENCE was collected at the scene of the crime? It doesn't. It's all window dressing designed to politically isolate the Florida Governor and State Attorney General in an election year. Their moves are a craven effort to defuse the righteous OUTRAGE felt by Trayvon's family and ALL families with teenage sons walking the same streets as a murderous predator.
We can only pray that SOME law enforcement PROFESSIONAL is able to acquire a search warrant for the murder weapon and clothing (if they haven't already been disposed of nearly a MONTH AFTER THE FACT). Short of that, it really doesn't matter if three or three thousand protesters show up in Sanford, Florida demanding justice. Justice will NOT be served.
March 21st, 2012 ~ Sign the petition to get a predatory child murderer off the streets.
March 20th, 2012 ~ For TWENTY-FOUR DAYS, a predatory, armed, murderer, 28-year-old George Zimmerman, has been prowling the streets of the Twin Lakes community of Sanford, Florida after his cold-blooded execution of 17-year-old resident, Trayvon "Trey" Martin on February 26th. I can only imagine his parent's outrage and pain at this injustice, but EVERY parent of a defenseless teenager in this gated community must be terrified that monster will next focus on their own child.
What will trigger his next murder? Will it be a casual glance interpreted as a "threat" to his authority as a self-appointed "neighborhood watch captain"? Will it be some random teen remark which has another family lowering another child into the ground? Were I a parent living in Twin Lakes, I would DEFINITELY want Zimmerman off the streets. He's a public menace of the first order and the sooner he's locked up, the sooner ALL Sanford parents can feel just a little safer.
March 19th, 2012 ~ This evening, Chris Matthews on MSNBC had Republican Representative Jo Ann Emerson of Missuori and Democratic Representative Ed Markey of Massachusetts on to discuss Newt Gingrich's claim that he can get American gas prices down to $2.00 per gallon. Mr. Matthews accurately pointed out that gas and oil prices are dictated by an international cartel and American production dedicated to those international markets. Rep. Markey acknowledged Chris' point, yet Rep. Emerson continued to insist the "drill-baby-drill" mantra is our salvation.
So, let's challenge the GOP to put their puppet-masters' money where their mouths are. Ask your GOP Representative and Senators if - BEFORE allowing any additional drilling, foreign pipelines, earthquake and poisoned aquifer generating fracking - they would pass federally binding legislation requiring 51% of ALL domestic production to be dedicated to domestic consumption. That's fair isn't it? If we're supposed to give up our family homesteads and National Parks to corporate Eminent Domain, shouldn't Big Oil commit AT LEAST 51% of AMERICAN energy production to AMERICAN energy security? That's what their rhetoric is all about isn't it? Not GREED; PATRIOTISM?
LISTEN CLOSELY TO THEIR ANSWERS. Your children's and grandchildren's futures depend on it.
March 15th, 2012 ~ Republicans REALLY do not trust the American People when it comes to their pet legislation. That's why, more often than not, they attempt to insert their bills as "rider amendments" to critical appropriations like our Highway Funding Bill. I described below last Thursday's failed attempt by GOP Senators Roy Blunt of Missouri and Marco Rubio of Florida to insert such an unrelated amendment on "morally acceptable" healthcare coverage. Amazingingly, GOP Senator John Hoeven of North Dakota, introduced his own, totally unrelated amendment to that SAME Highway Funding Bill, attempting to remove our President's approval/disapproval authority in the matter of the Keystone XL Pipeline.
Big Oil's Senate meat puppets are diligently working to strengthen the iron shackles enslaving America to their wealthy masters like the Koch brothers and their Saudi Wahhabist "business asociates". But isn't the Keystone XL Pipeline supposed to reduce or eliminate America's dependence on Saudi oil? Isn't that the CLEAR implication of Big Oil's Keystone XL media barrage?
Of course it is. That's why the Texas terminus for that pipeline is essentially a "duty-free shop" for the international oil market. That's why the "key" company in Keystone XL is TransCanada. That oil is not committed to addressing America's foreign oil dependence. Heck, it IS foreign oil; flowing across our nation from Canada to foreign buyers without a DROP offsetting America's foreign oil dependence.
Yet, despite these overt machinations by the One Percenters' Capitol Hill proxies, America IS moving toward a future free from Big Oil's fatal embrace. Fully electric and range extended electric vehicles like the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt are growing in popularity; slowly to be sure, but inexorably.
Two recent EV additions to the new car showrooms are the All American 2012 Ford Focus Electric
Ford already has a strong toehold in the commercial EV world with their Ford/Azure Dynamics collaboration on the Transit Connect Electric van. Since 2010, Azure Dynamics has been electrifying a growing fleet of Ford Transit Connect vehicles for such customers as AT&T and DHL.
But, for electric vehicles to become as ubiquitous as their gasoline-powered counterparts, an equally ubiquitous EV infrastructure is essential. Fortunately, providing such an infrastructure in the short term is relatively cheap compared to natural gas and Hydrogen fueling stations. The
SAE, J1772 standard allows all modern electric vehicles to charge at any charger, regardless of manufacturer.
Obviously, all the automakers offer either their own J1772-compliant chargers, or have a proprietary arrangement with a third party distributor/installer, but there are a growing number of J1772-compliant charger manufacturers with no specific ties to the automakers. One I find particularly esthetically pleasing is G.E.'s WattStation public kiosk, designed by Yves Béhar of the "Fuse Project".
So, We, The People, already have two legs of America's energy future firmly planted; electric vehicles and a national standard allowing chargers to be rapidly, cheaply, and profitably put in place to serve ANY of those vehicles. Next steps: rebuilding our electrical grid to be a true "smart grid" and getting commercial fusion powerplants online.
I encourage you to email your Senators and Representatives demanding accelerated funding for a national smart grid and nuclear fusion powerplants. If we can put footprints on the Moon within TEN years and build the first atomic bomb within four, we can certainly perfect the world's first commercial fusion powerplants by 2020. All we lack is the political will. And we Americans are a willful People. Let's get busy breaking the chains which enslave us to the Oiligarchy.
March 9th, 2012 ~ Last Thursday, our U.S. Senate narrowly struck down a totally unrelated amendment to our highway funding bill, the "Blunt Amendment" inserted by Missouri Republican Roy Blunt and Florida Republican Marco Rubio, allowing ANY employer to deny their employees healthcare insurance coverage for ANY service deemed "morally objectionable" by that employer. Most of the outrage regarding this rider, which had NOTHING to do with highway funding, has been focused on its potentially chilling effect on women's reproductive services. But if one looks at this political poison pill inserted into OUR HIGHWAY FUNDING BILL more closely, its scope takes on an unexpected dimension.
Had Blunt's and Rubio's amendment been successfully thrust into OUR HIGHWAY FUNDING BILL, what might that have meant for Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder? Assuming they actually found an employer offering healthcare coverage, might that employer find their psychological problems "morally questionable"? What about the physically maimed veterans? Would their addictions to Oxycontin force them to the moral and financial periphery? "Walk it off, you pussy!" You don't deserve drug rehab because you only served your country in combat and had half your body blown off by an IED. Try sitting in a leather chair before a gold-plated microphone all day! Now, THAT'S sacrifice!
Which brings us to those little blue boner pills. You know, Viagra? Are they more medically relevant than birth control pills, prescribed by a DOCTOR to address a patient with a genetic propensity toward Tay-Sachs, Ovarian cystitis, or ectopic pregnancy? These are ALL, LIFE THREATENING medical conditions the Blunt amendment would reduce to morally objectionable by ANY EMPLOYER. Is the boner pill excluded by that amendment? No, it is NOT. ANY employer finding a Viagra prescription a sign of profligacy could deny coverage of Viagra on moral grounds according to the Blunt Amendment. Didn't see THAT coming, did you?
My point, then, is be careful what you wish for, you may get it. Or, as the Soviet submarine captain said in "The Hunt for Red October", "You arrogant ass. You've killed US!"
March 8th, 2012 ~ I
've started to wonder if the current field of Republican presidential candidates are clinically schizophrenic, pathologically hypocritical, or just plain bat guano crazy. They have accused our President of simultaneously aspiring to Nazi-like dictatorial powers AND of promoting a Stalinesque socialist policy agenda. Those assertions confused most folks and neither stuck to the political wall as the GOP had hoped for.
Now, with Bin Laden dead, Americans getting healthcare coverage once denied them, dropping unemployment, and slow but steady domestic economic growth, the GOP field have turned to social issues, i.e. religiosity, to brand our President simultaneously as a "secularist" and as a "Neo-liberal theocrat". Again, we're left scratching our heads in confusion. Even when Christianist media and of course, Fox News, try to help in cementing this oddball marriage of ideas into the public's minds, we still don't get how the mutually exclusive words "secular" and "theocrat" can be logically ascribed to the same person.
And maybe, that's the point. It's not about logic at all. It's about "feelings" not "ideas" and the overarching "feeling" is a deep and abiding hatred for a black President, sitting in their White House. Never mind that he was duly elected to office by a majority of the American People. As we learned in 2000, that majority can easily be overruled with a few political tricks and a bit of nepotistic juice. Never mind that he's saved millions of American jobs and wrenched our economy back from the brink of certain destruction. If the GOP wins back the White House, they'll finish their demolition of the American Dream with the help of those too willfully ignorant to recognize who is actually on their side.
But let's get back to this new theological tack the GOP presidential aspirants are taking. A common theme in the mish-mash of rhetoric is that our President is "waging a war on religion". Really. That must be why in 2009, our President established an
Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships pretty much identical to Bush 43's Office of Faith-based and Community Initiatives. That must be why our President has ACTIVELY reached out to religious groups like "Bread for the World" and a coalition of over 100 religious and secular organizations forming the Circle of Protection exemplifying the words of Matthew, Chapter 25, 31-40. That must be why he and his family attend church as regularly as they possibly can in a world where Middle-East zealots encourage their equally zealous American supporters to drag our nation, against OUR national interests, into a new war at any minute. That must be why he's been faithfully and lovingly married to the same woman for 19 years and has two beautiful children who have ALWAYS known EXACTLY who Daddy and Mommy are.
So it seems, the GOP's grab for the Holier-than-Thow mantle is a bit of an overreach. Our President has exhibited a clearly INCLUSIVE policy agenda for religious organizations serving the least fortunate among us AND his personal values seem above reproach by all except outright liars. What remains? OH! Our Constitution! You know, that document that DEFINES our nation? Let's see what Our Constitution says about a GOP theocratic coup d'etat ushering in Inquisition, Ver. 2.0.
OUR Constitution's First Amendment states: "Congress shall make NO LAW respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...". This is the amendment they ALL reach for to pillory our President, but like their parsing of the Bible in favor of the OLD Testament, they like the second part of that amendment and despise the first. Our Constitution's Ninth Amendment states: "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall NOT be construed to deny or disparage others retained by The People". Again, this amendment flies in the face of GOP theocrats, who conspire to reign in our freedoms by weaving their mendacious spider's web of legalistic "exclusions" of our GOD-given RIGHTS because they're not explicitly enumerated in our Constitution.
Finally, Article Six, Paragraph Three of Our Constitution states: "...no religious Test shall EVER be required as a qualification to ANY Office or public Trust under the United States". Interesting. So many of Our Constitution's articles and amendments were left intentionally vague to allow it to be flexible in a changing world, yet when it came to THIS point, our Founding Fathers were REALLY SPECIFIC.
Our Founding Fathers were inarguably the best educated, most thoughtful men of their day. Children of "The Enlightenment", they called upon the greatest minds of their day - of ANY day - to inform their concepts of government. Nowhere in their ultimate realization of those concepts, the establishment of a new Democratic Republic and a new representative government, did they see a DIRECT role for ANY religion in the nuts and bolts operations of that government. Nowhere. They had good reasons for this.
They were well aware of the horrors perpetrated by that unholy alliance between church and state known as The Inquisition. They recalled centuries of European monarchs, shedding the blood of millions, to defend or assert some God-given mandate to rule. They remembered the exodus of the Puritans to our shores and the irony of those same Puritans, fleeing religious persecution, establishing their own brutal Inquisition in the new world.
Thus, When Rick Santorum conflates "In God We Trust" with "We Trust mere men, who publicly wear their religion on their sleeves, to impose their OWN concepts of God on Americans of all faiths (or none at all)", I am GREATLY concerned with that conflation. I do not consider what I'm about to say hyperbole.
Rick Santorum specifically, but the Talibangelical wing of the GOP generally, want to obliterate our democracy. Despite their hollow rhetoric about "trusting in the people" they trust us not. They yearn mightily for a christianist theocracy to dictate every aspect of our lives, while ripping us off, in every imaginable way, in the name of God. They are EVIL men who believe Christ wants them to be rich and powerful and the rest of us to bend our knees in humble obesense before them... or else. They don't need to spell out that implied threat. History tells us EXACTLY what it means.