RICH BULEY: Strange country we live in

It is a very strange country we live in. Here, we have a Republican Congressman telling one of his constituents that he can’t support raising the minimum wage because, “it’s just not right”. Then, the very next day, the CEO of Yahoo is given $58 million to NOT work. Somehow, paying an actual worker $3 an hour more will cause the economy to collapse, but giving a guy $58 million to not work is just good business.

Meanwhile, back on the ranch, the Bundy ranch, that is, we learn a little bit more about Cliven Bundy who has been called a patriot by the right wingers. They sure have a funny definition of “patriot” since Bundy has repeatedly said that he doesn’t recognize the federal government.  In the photo accompanying the story, Bundy is standing by an American flag on his ranch. If he doesn’t believe  the United States exists, why does he wave that flag?

One of the brave armed men who showed up to support Bundy in his mooching from the federal government was an ex-sheriff from Arizona, Richard Mack, who went on Fox News to explain the brave militia’s plan to use the women folk as human shields. His actual thinking was that if a few of the women folk were shot, it would make great TeeVee. I’m sure he was greatly disappointed that there was no bloodshed.

“Way down in Louisiana cross to New Orleans” to quote the great poet Chuck Berry, the state legislature refused to repeal it’s sodomy criminal statute. Everyone in the legislature knew that the statute is unconstitutional, but bowed to the religious right group, the Louisiana Family Forum which wrote: “Louisiana’s anti-sodomy statute is consistent with the values of Louisiana residents who consider this behavior to be dangerous, unhealthy and immoral,”  I don’t know if any members of the Family Forum have ever been to New Orleans, but I have and consensual adult sex didn’t seem to be much of a concern there.

Speaking of being unconstitutional, next door in North Dakota, a federal judge ruled NoDak’s anti-abortion law to be just that. The most interesting aspect of the case is that North Dakota lawmakers knew the law was unconstitutional. The pandering to the right wing was so bad the judge wrote: “The State has extended an invitation to an expensive court battle over a law restricting abortions that is a blatant violation of the constitutional guarantees afforded to all women.”

RICH BULEY: Your tax dollars at work

Montana’s Attorney General, Tea Party Tim Fox, must have a lot of time on his hands. Fox, who, of course is paid by Montana taxpayers to uphold Montana’s laws is apparently quite concerned about Chesapeake Bay. He has, in an action which appears to be totally unreported, involved in filing briefs seeking to stop the cleanup of Chesapeake Bay.

So, why is Montana’s Attorney General involved in opposing the cleanup of the heavily polluted Chesapeake Bay? Good question, especially since all of the affected states and the federal government have agreed to the cleanup plan. Well, of course, it’s all about big business. In this case, it’s about big Agriculture which has sued to stop the cleanup arguing that somewhere down the line, the EPA will get the idea that they can keep Big Ag from polluting all they want.

So, Tea Party Tim Fox along with 20 other sates’ attorney generals filed a brief supporting the death of aquatic life in Chesapeake Bay, killing the fishing industry there, and opposing the cleanup. Isn’t that a swell use of Montana’s legal resources? The other 20 states involved are a real who’s who of hardcore red states: Kansas, Missouri, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, Wyoming.

Your tax dollars at work.

RICH BULEY: We are a nation divided

Way back in history, 2009, the Department of Homeland Security issued a report highlighting the threat of domestic terrorism. The report was widely criticized by conservative writers and television talkers. Fox News rabble rouser and James Dobson sat around and blathered on about the report  “on Fox News  which Hannity interpreted as targeting “people who think maybe we’re not controlling our borders” and “people who have pro-life bumper stickers.”

“What do you think of that interpretation, especially coming from a guy that started his political career in the home of an unrepentant terrorist who bombed our Pentagon and Capitol and sat in Reverend Wright’s church for 20 years?” Hannity asked.”

Fast forward a little bit to 2009 and 200 miles to the west of Missoula and a bomb intended to kill or maim hundreds at a Martin Luther King Jr. birthday parade was discovered in Spokane. Fast forward to two days ago when a KKK member, Frazier Glenn Miller opened fire at a Jewish Community Center in Overland Park KS., killing 3 in a terrorist attack.
It has since been learned that Miller and the Spokane bomber were pen pals and that Miller believed that the Spokane bomber had been set up by the government.

Of course, there have been other incidents in the last few years such as Scott Roeder assassinating Dr. George Tiller for legally performing abortions, or Joseph Stack flying his plane into the Austin TX. IRS office. Now, in Nevada, we just had a a situation where a rancher and a bunch of armed “militia men” got onto a showdown with federal officials. The rancher, Cliven Bundy has been illegally grazing his cattle on federal land for 20 years. He owes the government a million dollars in grazing fees and the BLM went to court and got a court order allowing them to seize and impound the trespassing cattle. Bundy has lost every single court case over the last 20 years, which, to Bundy and his supporters, is irrelevant.

The common thread among all these people is that they have come to believe that the rule of law does not apply to them. They believe the government is illegitimate so that they have some God given right to assassinate doctors or defy the courts with armed  gangs. Where do these people get these beliefs? Well. one could look at the comments of any right wing internet site. Or, one could look at so-called mainstream sites like Fox News which reported the story with the headline: “Why the Feds Tucked Tail on the Nevada Ranch”. Not surprisingly, the FoxNews article didn’t even mention the Court Order specifically authorizing the seizure of the deadbeat rancher’s cattle. Take a few minutes to read through the comments and a number of the commentors are all for armed insurrection.

From Alex Jones’ site, infowars, we get the headline: “Blueprint for Revolution Realized in Nevada.” The article states: “In what can only be described as a total defeat of the bully federal intimidators, patriots world-wide should become empowered by these events and mobilize to accomplish similar goals in their own neighborhoods.”

I am very concerned that we have become a very divided and violent nation when those who take up arms to prevent the enforcement of the law are called “patriots” and others are encouraged to do the same.

RICH BULEY: Is Daines really about reducing the deficit?

Steve Daines is running a bunch of commercials about how he shouldn’t get paid since the government doesn’t have a balanced budget.  He says that the government needs to reduce the deficit as it’s first priority.

Why, then, is Daines in support of repealing Obamacare? A new report from the Congressional Budget Office shows that Obamacare will actually decrease the deficit. Not only that, but 12 million previously uninsured will now be covered and premiums are lower than original estimates. And, yet, Daines wants to repeal the law.

RICH BULEY: The anti-Robin Hood

Congressman Paul Ryan (R WI) has released a new Republican Budget proposal. Unsurprisingly, the proposal includes many cuts to programs for the poor, leading some to call Ryan, the Anti-Robin Hood . The Republicans not only seek to starve the poor and disabled, but also seek to make further tax cuts for the rich and increase defense spending, also known as welfare for defense contractors.

Hidden in the depths of the proposal is the Republicans’ most radical idea – the killing of Social Security. Social Security has a $3 trillion surplus, which has been built up in anticipation of the retirement of baby boomers. Rather than hold onto $3 trillion in cash, the Social Security Administration has invested the money in U.S. government bonds, widely considered to be the safest investment in the world. These are the same bonds that anyone can buy from the U.S. government.

A bond is essentially a loan to the government. Say you purchase a $1000 bond. That money is then used by the government to pay its ongoing obligations. In return, you receive a document promising to pay the money back together with interest. In his budget, Ryan states: “The [Social Security] Trust Fund holds Treasury securities, but the ability to redeem these securities is completely dependent on the Treasury’s ability to raise money through taxes or borrowing.”

Ryan appears to be stating that in order to balance his budget, he wants the U.S. government to default upon its debt to the Social Security Trust Fund and, by extension, default upon its obligations to the elderly of the country. There are ,however, major problems with Ryan’s plan. The main one is that default is unconstitutional. Section 4 of the 14th Amendment states: “The validity of the public debt of the United States … shall not be questioned.” Article I, section 8, clause 4 provides that the Congress can borrow money “on the credit of the United States.”. These 2 provisions together mean that Congress can borrow but can’t renege.

Of course, the other problem is that all of the money in the trust fund was put there by workers and employers for the sole purpose of providing some security for workers in their old age. When Republicans say they don’t want to pay back the money they borrowed for the Iraq war and the Bush tax cuts, what they really mean is they want to help the rich on the backs of the working class.

RICH BULEY: Elect politicians who believe in science

I have written often that it makes much more sense to elect politicians who believe in science, since they are the people who set national policy. It makes no sense to me to elect people who will enact policy simply based upon belief or faith, no matter how strongly that belief is held.

There has been much a lot of noise made over the last several years by politicians and others supported by the oil and gas industries that the science regarding man made climate change is inconclusive or false. Is it?

A study by geochemist James Lawrence Powell looks at the cumulative science. He reviewed all 10,855 articles and studies published in peer reviewed journals and found that all but 2 found that man made climate change was real and supported scientifically. Put another way, that means only .02% of articles disputed the reality of man made climate change.

On the policy side, rather than the science side, 56% of Republicans in the House deny the science of climate change. 65% of Senate Republicans are science deniers. Why would these seemingly educated rational people take such an extreme, unscientific position? As always, it’s about the Benjamins. The science deniers in Congress have collected over $55 million in campaign donations from fossil fuel energy companies.

Our own Republican Congressman science denier, Steve Daines has received over $326,000 from extraction industries. I guess that explains Daines.

RICH BULEY: What has Daines done for health care?

Upon returning from a brief vacation, I see the Missoulian has granted Republican Congressman Steve Daines another half page in the editorial section to rant about how he doesn’t like Obamacare. It was just a month ago that the Missoulian published another piece from Daines about coal development. I critiqued that editorial here.

Of course, we already know that Daines doesn’t like Obamacare since he’s voted over 50 times to repeal the law.. But, the real question is; what has Daines voted for to fix our health care crisis? Daines doesn’t answer that question in his editorial.  Rather, he just makes the same vague statements opponents always make such as: “We need reforms that work to slow the rapid growth in health costs, without jeopardizing access to high-quality care or taking choice away from Montanans.” Well, Okay, Steve, why don’t you tell us, the voters, the people paying for the insurance, how you’re going to do that?

The fact of the matter is that neither Daines nor the Republican controlled House has ever come up with ANY plan to do what they say they want to do. Daines has never voted for any plan to curb health care costs. Barack Obama has been President for 6 years and the Republicans have not put forth a single health care insurance bill.

At some point, Steve, you have to do something other than whine. You need to do something besides voting, “Nay!” Tell us, Steve, what exactly you would do to provide health care to those with pre-existing conditions if you do repeal Obamacare. Tell us, Steve, exactly how you would provide insurance to the working poor, especially since you are opposed to raising the minimum wage.

I have refereed lots of sports in my day. Of course, there were always people in the crowd who loudly voiced their disagreement with my calls. I would occasionally say to the loudest ones, “Hey, buddy, it sounds like you would make a great referee, here’s the number to call. We’re always looking for new blood because this is kind of a tough job.” They never called.

Steve Daines is the obnoxious parent on the soccer sideline. There are now 5 million people with health insurance who didn’t have it before. What is your plan for those 5 million folks, Steve? Until you can answer that question, you’re just another ignorant sideline whiner.

RICH BULEY: Things could be worse

Things could always be worse. For example, we could live in Oklahoma City. I recently wrote about the irony of watching the premier of the series Cosmos on the Fox channel and wondering why citizens would want science deniers like Steve Daines being their Senator. Well, in Oklahoma City, the local Fox affiliate actually censored the part about human evolution!

That’s right, the local station didn’t want to pollute the airwaves with science and inserted a commercial in place of the part where Neil deGrasse Tyson mentioned human evolution. I guess that somewhat explains how Oklahoma could elect U.S. Senators like Tom Coburn and Jim Inhofe. Jim Inhofe is a proud Republican and a proud  climate change science dis-believer.  However, what is little known is the reason Inhofe doesn’t believe in climate change science, it is because he thinks saving the environment WILL COST TOO MUCH.

However, back in 2012, Inhofe wrote a book entitled “The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future” He was obviously writing the book for his base since his primary argument was, impossible for humans to influence the climate because according to Genesis, God created the earth and the climate so only God can change climate.

Oklahoma’s other Senator, Tom Coburn, is a doctor who has greatly benefited from science in that he is a two time cancer survivor. Apparently he doesn’t believe that since God created the world, he also created cancer and therefore, only God can treat cancer, so he is a step up from Inhofe. However, Coburn also pronounces himself a climate change denier.

Steve Daines wants your vote so he can bring Oklahoma to Montana. Scary, huh?

MICHAEL BENNETT: Speaking of not facing facts

My colleague Rich Buley takes after “right wingers” today for not acknowledging plain facts, and in support of his argument, cites a woman in an anti-Obamacare ad.   Assuming that Rich’s characterization of the woman’s situation is correct, a random woman in an advertisement hardly makes the case that all “right wingers” are serial fact-deniers, any more than the random Occupy Wall Street guy who pooped on a cop car proves that all lefties are incontinent.

What does speak volumes for the ability of the left to ignore facts are some of the fact-challenged statements made not by random, low level lefties, but by the leader of their movement, President Obama.  Leaving aside “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.”, how does anyone rationalize his recent statement that there is “not a smidgen of corruption” in the IRS, when Lois Lerner, the former head of the group in charge of approving non-profits has twice invoked her right against self-incrimination?

I guess, when a compliant press doesn’t question your “facts”, you start to believe that they’re actually  true.