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Posts Tagged ‘Planned Parenthood’

Impeach Donald Trump – Or – Be Careful What You Ask For

These days it seems that President Trump is close to being permanently adhered to the tar baby called Russia/Collusion/Obstruction of Justice. If a tenth of the allegations that have been leveled against Donald Tinyhands and his henchmen and henchwomen had been cast against the Obama Administration, President Obama would have become an ex-president in the blink of an eye. And yet, Donald Trump appears to be on a bizarre trajectory that will lead to his appearance on the presidential inaugural platform on January 20, 2020.

One need not be a supporter of President Trump to realize that the giant bicameral lapdog that is the Republican Congress would sooner bathe with piranhas than lead any attempt to impeach him. There is already enough stench, stain and suspicion attached to the Trump presidency that there would seem to be no shortage of realists who see that Trump permanently damaging the United States of America is not a good thing. But there will be few martyrs to the cause of justice to be found in the Teapublican cloak room in Congress.

So it would seem that we are to be witness to Donald Tinyhands lurching from one crisis to another, gratuitously insulting over half the planet with his every word and deed. But it is possible to conjure up a scenario where Donald Trump leaves the White House before he has completed his term as the self-styled Disrupter in Chief.

Perhaps President Trump will grow tired of being body slammed in the public arena by the likes of the James Comey – Robert Mueller tag team and simply quit. Perhaps Jared Kutsher will testify against Ivanka and Donald Trump precipitating a must see t.v. family feud. Or perhaps Mike Flynn will be offered a plea deal and send Kelly Ann Conway and Sean Spicer to jail, setting off a chain reaction of betrayals that results in Donald Tinyhands returning to his eponymous tower.

None of these scenarios are even remotely plausible but they are the main feature in the fevered dreams of the American Resistance that foresees the downfall of the Trump presidency. And while there would be some visceral pleasure enjoyed by the witnesses to the downfall of Donald Trump, it would be wise to head the old adage about watching what you wish for.

Because as bad a Donald Trump has been, Vice President Mike Pence is worse. Even the greatest admirers and sycophants surrounding President Trump will admit that he lacks the discipline to maintain proper focus. Mike Pence has that discipline and that focus.

A former radio talk show host, Vice President Pence believes in the agenda that call for the dismantling of the federal government, the shredding of the social safety net and a return to that mythical time when men were men and women were women. As a Congressman, he led the Tea Party-inspired Freedom Caucus which sees “no” as the only viable political action.

Mike Pence would never degrade women with his words like Donald Trump, but he would not hesitate to degrade Planned Parenthood and substitute his judgment for that of a woman when it comes to matters involving her body. Mike Pence would not spend his time tweeting, he would be focused day and night to dismantle anything in the federal government that he could not simply eliminate. Civil rights, LGBTQI rights and women’s rights would become a relic, found only in the most discrete hiding places.

With his passing knowledge of the judiciary, Mike Spence looks like Oliver Wendell Holmes in comparison to Donald Tinyhands. And President Pence would make the Supreme Court a permanent jurisprudential bastion for the right wing of the right wing rather than shoving the Prime Minister of Montenegro out the way and picking fights with the press.

In many ways, as bad as President Trump has been, his successor could be so much worse. So when it comes to impeaching President Trump it might be good to remember to be careful with what you ask.

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Michael Bloomberg has been mayor of New York City for almost twelve years. During that time he has placed an unprecedented governmental focus on the health of the citizens of New York City. Many of his initiatives such as banning smoking in public places and cutting down on fats in foods have provided a measurable benefit to New Yorkers and life expectancy has actually gone up in Gotham City. But some people just don’t seem to know right from wrong.

I recall that when the ban on smoking in public places was initially proposed I thought that this was an unnecessary governmental intrusion. After all, the thinking went, when you go to a bar or a nightclub you expect that people will smoke and most restaurants had established no smoking sections. But what about the waiters, waitresses and bartenders?

I hadn’t thought about that angle. Bartenders, waiters and waitresses inhaled the equivalent of several packs of cigarettes every week with the attendant health issues – emphysema, cancer, etc. So banning cigarettes in bars, clubs and restaurants made a lot of sense once we started to think about the collateral consequences.

Similarly, banning the sale of half gallon size “cups” in restaurants and certain establishments did strike some as unnecessary governmental inclusion. And it might seem that way until we realize that the size of soda servings has increased to such monstrous proportions not because of consumer demand but because soda (and fast food) providers have learned that people will consume larger and larger portions if they are offered, thereby increasing profit margins.

Once we realize that humongous soda servings are not a liquid expression of individual liberty it is then time to think about the collateral consequences. The regular consumption of large amounts of empty calories has been proven to impact upon health issues such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

While everyone is presumably entitled to kill themselves, obesity, diabetes and heart disease cause a gradual demise over a period of years rather than some dramatic departure. And during that period of years individuals suffer needlessly while they place dramatic and unnecessary burdens on the healthcare system. Reducing the size of soda servings seems like a small step when you take into account the suffering and societal expense that could be saved.

More recently, the Bloomberg administration started an ad campaign in New York trying to discourage pregnancies among teenagers. The advertisements are not cute and peppy; they tell teenagers about the real consequences of teen pregnancies – life altering, negative and mostly borne by young women. Not a snappy happy set of advertisements but there is always the chance that a few teenagers will pay attention and in the process make decisions that will allow them (and their eventual children) to have a better quality of life.

Incredibly, Planned Parenthood criticized the ad campaign as a “scare campaign” that creates “stigma, hostility and negative public opinions about teen pregnancy”. Somehow, in the universe of the leaders of Planned Parenthood in New York City, there is something positive, ennobling and enriching about teen pregnancy and heaven forbid that someone should splash the cold water of reality on teenagers who may know how to create a pregnancy but have little or no concept about the consequences.

I can only guess that the leadership of Planned Parenthood in their private lives does not soft pedal the idea of teenage pregnancy to their own children. And I am positive that the executives of Planned Parenthood do not dwell on “alternative aspirations” when discussing such a serious subject with their own teenagers.

There is a serious disconnect between the advocates of “freedom” for other people – the freedom to die of obesity, the freedom to die of lung cancer, the freedom to endure pregnancy as a teenage mother or father – “freedoms” that they would never seek for themselves and for their own children.

We can all understand the importance of principle, but principle needs to be grounded in the reality of its application and consequences.

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Mitt Romney’s campaign is starting to resemble the three legged pig in that old joke – the pig that was too good to be eaten all at once. Clearly Mitt Romney and his advisors believe that he is serving up just enough of his porkload of a campaign to get elected. And that’s why it is high time to look at the other three legs of Romney’s pig.

Leg One: it is now twenty two days before the election and Mitt Romney continues to stonewall the American people and his own party when it comes to the issue of his tax returns. The fact that even his own father released his tax returns when he ran for president has not been enough to dissuade him from his adamant position on the subject.

We already know that Mitt Romney pays taxes at a lesser rate than a secretary or a gas station attendant. We already know that he has assets in Switzerland, the Cayman Islands, Ireland and Luxembourg. The full release of his tax returns should just be an anticlimactic verification that he is a very rich man who is taking advantage of every tax loophole in the Internal Revenue Code.

Mitt Romney prides himself as a businessman. His rich guy supporters like Jack Welch and Donald Trump and wannabe rich guys like Rudy Giuliani all point to his business experience as a key reason why he should replace Barack Obama as president.

Yet all the rich guys like Welch, Trump, Adelson and Giuliani would never hire a key executive for any company in which they had a financial interest without a thorough background check – and that would include finances. And if a candidate for employment had offshore accounts that would have to be fully vetted and explained.
Nevertheless Mitt Romney continues to stonewall on the issue of his tax returns.

Leg Two: The recent Teapublican primary campaign featured some of the most extreme and Neanderthal positions with respect to women’s issues in over one hundred years. Somewhere Susan B. Anthony and Carrie Nation are spinning in their graves.

And during this entire primary campaign Mitt Romney never let any of his opponents get to the right of him on these issues. He vowed to defund Planned Parenthood. He swore that he would eliminate federal funding for contraception. He promised that he would appoint Supreme Court justices who would be committed to overturning Roe v. Wade. He virtually took an oath to limit women’s reproductive choices to instances involving rape or incest.
With the election a little over three weeks away Mr. Romney is now serving up his pig in with a different recipe. Mitt Romney does not speak about his promised crusade against Planned Parenthood, perhaps because someone told him that millions of (voting) women depend upon Planned Parenthood for basic healthcare services.

He doesn’t speak about his jihad against contraception since, as a good businessman, he knows it will not sell. So he puts this particular item on a back shelf but it is still in his inventory.

He has tried every possible contortion to get out of his anti-abortion oath. He has harked back to his days as a governor of Massachusetts when he was a moderate on such issues. But, as the late Ted Kennedy said of Mitt Romney, “he isn’t pro-choice, he’s multiple choice”. For Mitt Romney it just depends on what he is trying to sell and to whom.

Leg Three: By selecting Paul Ryan as his running mate Mitt Romney wedded the Ryan budget which has already been passed by the Teapublican wing of the House of Representatives two years in a row. Taken to its logical conclusion, the RomneyRyan budget will result in the decimation of almost every federal program that is not in the categories of defense, Medicare and Social Security.

The Romney team is smart enough to know that explaining that Pell Grant Programs, the Food and Drug Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency and scores of other federal initiatives would be reduced to bureaucratic skeletons would be disastrous the campaign simply refuses to give details. Former President Bill Clinton suggested that American voters “do the math” to figure out how taxes will be decreased with an accompanying decrease in the deficit. There is only one way – cut spending on programs that matter to Americans.

Mitt Romney will spend the next three weeks leading his three legged pig of a campaign around the country firmly believing that Americans won’t ask what he is really serving. I would guess he would call it his “November Surprise”.

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Now we learn that 60% of self-identified Republicans in Alabama believe (“believe”) that President Obama is a Muslim and worships Allah. Perhaps we really do live in the United States of Stupid. Meanwhile Mitt Romney and the rest of his Teapublican wingmen promise to get rid of Planned Parenthood if they are elected president. How did coming out against contraception, breast cancer screenings and the overall health of women become something to be proud of? And in that cheese-eating-Packers losing state of Wisconsin, the legislature has passed a bill requiring that the primary topic in sex education classes will be abstinence and that contraception will not be required as part of the curriculum. I guess we can count on a lot more Cheeseheads in the very near future.

Back Home in Alabama

During this past week the G.O.Tea Party Cavalcade of Clowns took its act to Alabama and Mississippi. As a result, for a few days we learned way more than we needed (or wanted) to know about what the Republicans in those two states think.
Remember that for almost 100 years Alabama and Mississippi were solidly and inextricably on the Democratic side of the political ledger. And then the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed during the Democratic administration of President Lyndon Johnson. That would be the Civil Rights Act that affirmed the right of black Americans to vote and to be free of racial discrimination.

For this betrayal, almost all white Democrats in Alabama and Mississippi became Republicans even though the Republican Party was founded in order to abolish slavery. Obviously it didn’t matter since Democrats had committed the more recent unpardonable sin of recognizing the basic constitutional rights of black Americans.
The Alabama contingent of former Democrats and their progeny had an opportunity to parade their views on the national stage last week. And that is when we learned that 60% (!!!!) of Alabama Teapublicans believe that President Obama is a Muslim and worships Allah.

The stone-brained stupidity revealed by this one polling statistic makes it reasonable to consider a national name change to the United States of Stupid.

Death to Planned Parenthood

Mitt Romney is now famously on the record as saying that as president he will “get rid of” Planned Parenthood. This is a stunning statement from a credible president that is unprecedented in recent history for its absolute disregard for the health rights of women.

Planned Parenthood has, over its decades of existence provided a broad range of health services to women that are otherwise not available. The G.O.Tea Party has seized upon the abortion issue, but less than 10% of the services provided by Planned Parenthood have anything to do with pregnancy termination. It should also be noted, as if it would make a difference, that for years no federal funds have been used to support Planned Parenthood Programs that involve abortions.

Obviously the important and essential work of this organization is to be sacrificed. Of course this sacrifice also will include the millions of women who depend upon Planned Parenthood for their essential health care needs.

Just as obviously, Mitt Romney and his Teapublican wingmen just don’t care.

Abstinence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder?

The state of Wisconsin is known for its cheese and the Green Bay Packers. It is now becoming famous for electing lunatics to govern the state.

Earlier this year the legislature enacted a bill that stripped state employees of their collective bargaining rights. Ironically, Wisconsin was the first state to provide collective bargaining rights to public employees.

Now the legislature has passed a bill making the teaching of abstinence mandatory in sex education classes in all Wisconsin public schools. The teaching of contraception is optional and clearly not encouraged.

The sheer doctrinaire idiocy of this legislation is stunning and frightening. The closing of minds is never consistent with a useful education.

Meanwhile, get ready to see a lot more Cheeseheads in the very near future.

Have a great weekend!

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Last weekend America was treated to a spectacle right out of Alice in Wonderland. A budget compromise that left the blood and hopes of the poor and needy on the floor was pitched by the Democratic Congressional Committee as a victory by limited the slicing and dicing of the federal budget to “only” $38 billion while tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires remain the most sacred of cows.

The Democratic Party controls the Senate and the White House. The Tea Party Caucus of the House of Representatives, headed by that anti-genius Michelle Bachmann, consists of 85 members, at most. Yet the Tea Party, playing Pinocchio to the Koch brothers Geppetto, has hijacked the national debate on policy, budget and the future of this country.

Somehow the Democratic Party has mastered the art of the Rope a Dope, minus the rope. And as a result the defeat of the horrific proposal to defund Planned Parenthood is viewed as a triumph. The mindless ambition of the G.O.Tea Party to defund the newly minted national healthcare program is a shortsighted as it is Neanderthal in motive and intent.

The fact that these proposals ever saw the light of day is shameful. Viewing their (very) temporary defeat cannot possibly be seen as much of a victory.

We continue to wait for President Obama and the leadership of the Democratic Party to come to their collective senses and realize that there is no bargaining with maniacs. We are watching the fabric of the social net being shredded, bit by bit, and deferring the next thrust of the blade is not a cause for celebration.

And still, there is no collective voice from the party that controls the White House and the Senate that says “enough is enough”.

I have written previously that the budget agenda of the G.O.Tea Party is not about fiscal matters but rather it is about a social agenda that is slanted towards meanness and away from compassion.

The G.O.Tea Party barely blinked at the near billion dollar cost of the Libyan incursion but it froths and foams at the mouth at the mere thought of millions going to NPR or Planned Parenthood.

Indeed, the attempted defunding of Planned Parenthood is a textbook example of the disgrace that is the G.O.Tea Party. The attack on this universally acclaimed women’s healthcare program began with the lie that federal funds were being used to fund abortions.

It’s a lie because the Hyde Amendment, passed in 1976, prevents the federal funding of abortions. It is also a distortion in the bargain because less than 20% of the services of Planned Parenthood involve abortion. The rest of that organization’s programs involve birth control, sex education and basic healthcare for women who cannot afford it elsewhere.

When Margaret Sanger founded Planned Parenthood in 1946 it was seen as a progressive and positive step in providing healthcare, birth control and sex education for women – all of which are indispensable elements in the liberation of women.

Who could imagine that less than 70 years later there could be a serious proposal by a major political party to defund the laudable efforts of this organization?

While we have read muted protests and muffled objections, I continue to wait for leaders of the Democratic Party to draw the line in the sand and say “no more”.

In the instance of Planned Parenthood, it is shocking to see female members of the G.O.Tea Party (like Michelle Bachman) ranting against Planned Parenthood like a cheerleader from some forgotten nightmare – and no element of the progressive women’s groups and organizations will confront these abominable policy proposals being advanced by women.

It is clearly past the time to take the Tea Party and its cohorts and fellow travelers seriously. Wishing and hoping that they will go away is a waste of valuable time. Their agenda is as clear as it is despicable.

Dismantling social services while labeling them “entitlements” is a bit or rhetorical trickery that belongs in the circus but not on the national stage. The quality and availability of social services are what define a country and a society – they are not privileges or favors from the wealthy to the poor.

Portraying taxes as punitive by their very nature is not only wrong; it distorts the notion of a social contract. Companies like General Electric spend millions of dollars, not on research and development, but on tax departments that too often successfully reduce their tax obligations to zero – this is corporate social irresponsibility and we all pay for it.

Yet the G.O.Tea Party and its Koch brothers financiers believe that this is kind of business agenda that make sense for the future.

The current political arena seems like some bizarre version of a “Night of the Living Dead” scenario, except that it is taking place in broad daylight.

It is time to be afraid, very afraid.

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There is very little to misunderstand about the G.O.Tea Party agenda when it comes to the federal budget. We have been subjected to a non-stop barrage of statements claiming that balancing the federal budget and eliminating the deficit should be the two most important goals of Congress and the President.

Other priorities like education, infrastructure, the environment and a reliable social safety net have been rendered invisible. The are The Priorities That Shall Not Be Named.

If the Republicans were truly serious about reducing the budget deficit there is no way that they could logically support extending tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans – who are among the wealthiest people on this planet. But their unblinking and unbending and unending commitment to keeping extraordinary wealth sacred was never clearer than during the tax bill negotiations with President Obama in December of last year.

And now the battle for the heart, soul and wallet of America begins in earnest. Keep in mind as you read on that a balanced federal budget is not mandated by law, the Constitution or all economic theories.

Many would argue that the size, growth and vibrancy of the American economy are more important to the future of the United States. But consider what the Republican budget proposals would accomplish:

1. Virtually eliminate federal funding for the National Public Radio and the Public Broadcast System.

2. $1.3 billion will be cut from community health centers around the country and estimates are that more than 3 million people will lose access to health care.

3. Nearly $1 billion would be cut from programs providing food and health care assistance to mothers and children.

4. By cutting funds for Head Start more than 200,000 will lose invaluable access to pre-school programs.

5. By cutting federal funding that goes to Planned Parenthood there will be fewer resources available for that organization to provide cancer screenings and other women’s health care services.

6. Tragically, it is estimated that the proposed Republican budget cuts that propose to reduce by half the number of veterans who get housing vouchers and it is estimated that 10,000 veterans will be homeless as a result.

There might be argument over exactly how much pain will be suffered by the American people, but there can be no doubt that there will be pain. And, by the way, whatever happened to the notion of shared sacrifice?

Remember that the tax compromise in December of 2010 reflected a stubborn, adamant and unshakeable stance by the Republicans that tax cuts would have to be extended to the wealthiest Americans in this country.

These are Americans who don’t have to worry about getting housing vouchers and they wouldn’t be caught dead in a public health care clinic. There is no sacrifice being contemplated for the wealthiest Americans who can afford to send their children to chic pre-schools and don’t worry about the cost when their housekeeper goes to the gourmet supermarket.

Now there are Republican doomsayers roaming the countryside claiming that, without a balanced budget this country cannot survive.

Certainly reckless and wasteful spending should be eliminated. And just as certainly the United States is not a private corporation – a balanced budget does not determine the fiscal health of this country or the quality of life of its people.

The economy will not grow and become more robust and vibrant if these cuts – and the many more that are threatened – become a reality. We are being hoodwinked and bamboozled by right wing of the right wing G.O.Tea Party hucksters who are using the Trojan horse of a balanced budget to attack every single aspect of government that helps, assists and aids.

They are determined to create a federal government that no longer serves but only enables the rich to get richer, everyone else be damned.

Right now its winter in America – we need to make sure that this season doesn’t last.

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Since its raucous birth in the spring of 2009 the Tea Party Movement has bawled and brayed that its foundation is based upon principles of fiscal probity. Balancing the federal budget was the one banner under which all of the Tea Partiers marched and the budget became the field upon which all battles would be fought.

Most reasonable people would agree that reckless financing is not a good way to run a government – federal, state and local. But most reasonable people would also agree that government is not a business and it exists to serve and service the people within its jurisdiction, not turn a profit.

When the federal government incurs debt in order to provide services and to insure that this country is prepared for the future, it is not wrong and it is not evil. It is what government is supposed to do.

Much has been made of the metaphor of the “typical” American family that keeps its finances in order and never, ever, ever lives beyond its means. Of course that is a myth of absurd proportions.

While too many Americans live beyond their means by floating on flimsy credit on the seas of debt, even prudent families borrow money for important items that cannot be covered by day to day revenue – housing (mortgages), education (college loans) and transportation (automobile loans).

The fact that the federal government would borrow in order to provide for infrastructure maintenance and development, health, education, defense and countless other invaluable and indispensable services should not be the cause of alarm.

A reliable infrastructure is crucial to commercial progress. An unhealthy and uneducated nation simply cannot compete in the global marketplace. And while defense may seem to be an obvious function of government, there has to be something worth defending in the first place.

But the Tea Partiers and the G.O.Tea Party and the right wing of the right wing have beaten the budget drum slowly and loudly. No service and no cause is too important that it cannot be sacrificed on the altar of a balanced budget.

Yet no one mentions to these naked emperors and empresses that it will be impossible to take even baby steps down the road towards a balanced budget as long a gargantuan tax cuts are doled out to the richest of the rich in perpetuity.

You don’t have to be a Nobel Prize winning economist to realize that the Holy Grail of the Tea Partiers and their ilk is not a balanced budget. Their goal is the dismantling of government as it has existed for the last half century, in the process eviscerating and eliminating programs that have goals and objectives that are contrary to their belief system.

Their goal is rolling back the socio-political agenda that has given rise to civil rights, women’s rights, children’s rights, environmental guardianship and investment in the future.

The Tea Partiers and the right wing of the right wing have not been subtle as they seek to wield a cleaver to the federal budget with Viking-like precision. Two weeks ago the Republican led United States House of Representatives (infused with the fury of over 80 Republican freshmen) voted budget cuts that would virtually cripple the Public Broadcast System and Planned Parenthood.

The total expenditures involved are miniscule in the context of the trillions of dollars in the federal budget or the $100 billion budget cutting goal of the Tea Partiers themselves.

But there must be blood. And the blood sought is clearly flowing through the veins of programs and initiatives that help men, women and children who need assistance.

Not just impoverished Americans but young people who want to go to college and young families who want their children to have the early childhood advantage of Head Start. There are programs on the killing floor that will repair and build an infrastructure that will help the entrepreneurs of the future compete rather than migrate to China, India and Europe where those expenditures and investments have been made for over two decades and counting.

Meanwhile Midas-like Wall Street bonuses and bloated farm subsidies remain intact and untouchable. The accretion of wealth is glorified and tomorrow is supposed to take care of itself.

No family and no country can survive with that kind of plan. The Tea Partiers don’t have a plan – they have a vision and the consequences of that vision could be awful not only for today, but for many tomorrows to come.

Say this for the Tea Partiers. They haven’t tried to deceive. Indeed, they are wolves in wolf’s clothing.

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