There has been an interesting confluence of articles recently. There is the fact that June 2014 is the hottest ever recorded. That followed the news that May was the hottest on record Meanwhile, on Saturday, the Missoulian ran an article about how coal companies want to get a railroad built so they can ship even more coal to China. Obviously, we need more coal burned!
I also see that Montana ranks dead last in children’s health. We’re number 50! And the Republicans in Montana’s Legislature thought it would be a good idea to refuse federal money to expand Medicaid to help those in poverty improve their health care. Sure, we have the unhealthiest kids in America, but those Republicans sure showed Obama how much they hate him, didn’t they?
I have written in the past that we would be much better off if we elected politicians who believed in science. The same could be said for appointed Supreme Court Justices. In the infamous Hobby Lobby case, not only did the Supreme Court rule that corporations have that good old time religion, they ignored well settled scientific facts to do so.
Hobby Lobby’s argument before the court was that its primary shareholders objected to a few contraception methods because they believed them to be “abortifacients”. In other words, they believed these methods didn’t just prevent pregnancy, but ended actual pregnancies. The problem is, that belief just isn’t supported by science. An actual OB-GYN physician explains just how wrong this belief is. The key is that although some believe any fertilized egg is a pregnancy, the medical science community defines pregnancy as the implantation in the uterus of a fertilized egg. Why is there no pregnancy until the fertilized egg is implanted? Because about 80% of all fertilized eggs fail to implant and are discharged from the woman’s body. A woman can can have fertilized eggs every month and never get pregnant without birth control.That is nature. If Hobby Lobby believes that God is responsible for nature, then they must also believe that God is the worst abortionist in the world.
The anti-choice, anti-science crowd continues to spout the “every fertilized egg is a person” nonsense on Fox News. Bill O’Reilly goes even further in contending that since an egg has DNA in it, it is human. He then contends that pro-choice advocates are executioners. Of course, O’Reilly is the same guy who said, “Tide go in, Tide goes out…You can’t explain it.” (hint: the moon). But, here’s the thing, ALL human cells have DNA. That means every tome Bill cuts his hair, he’s killing DNA. Every time he clips his toe nails, he’s an executioner. According to Bill, the removal of DNA from a body is the same as murder. Does that mean the removal of a tumor is murder? Is it against God’s law to kill human cancer cells? Sperm cells have DNA. If those cells are spilled, is that murder?
Apparently, Bill O’Reilly and the Fox crowd believe that Monty Python’s “Every Sperm is Sacred” is a documentary.
Yesterday I took Steve Daines to task for either not knowing how ObamaCare works or, if he does, lying about it. Daines has spent his entire time in Congress opposing ObamaCare. Even though ObamaCare has been in full effect for less than a year, we can already see results which show that Daines’ judgment is, how shall we say, miserably wrong.
Although Daines contended that ObamaCare would bankrupt the country, the Congressional Budget Office has just reported that the rate of government spending on health care is declining faster than originally predicted and the decrease is BECAUSE of ObamaCare. One would think that a self proclaimed fiscal conservative would welcome this news, but wrong way Daines continues to oppose ObamaCare.
Do you remember last fall and the Republican predictions of disaster when ObamaCare was being rolled out? They were all wrong. The number of uninsured people continues to fall to historic lows. 62% of those insured said they could not have afforded health care before. Most importantly, actual people are very happy with ObamaCare. An independent survey reports that 81% of enrollees are optimistic that ObamaCare will improve their access to health care. The same survey found that 78% of people were satisfied with their plan including 74% of Republicans!
Since Daines voted 50 times to deny all these millions access to health care and voted 50 times against lowering federal spending, how can his judgment be trusted on any vote?
Steve Daines has been running a TV ad featuring a female cancer survivor who states:: I’m a breast cancer survivor. That’s why I dyed my hair pink, I really depend on Medicare. When I heard that John Walsh said ObamaCare wouldn’t hurt seniors, I couldn’t believe it. ObamaCare cuts billions of dollars from Medicare, putting my care at risk. Walsh also believes that privatizing Social Security should be on the table. That’s just too risky.”
That is not just a lie, it is a zombie lie. A zombie lie is one which just refuses to die. The truth is ObamaCare does not cut any money or any benefits from Medicare. The lie has been debunked many times (here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here). Steve Daines has voted to repeal ObamaCare 50 times. In a bit of irony, Daines has also twice voted Republican budgets which include the very same savings from Medicare as ObamaCare. One has to wonder about his votes since Daines, if he believes what he says, is either totally ignorant or totally delusional. The other possibility is that he is just a stone cold liar. I suppose it is entirely possible that he’s not really stupid, but is, in fact, the kind of politician everybody says they hate: the kind who will say anything to get elected.
The other part of the commercial, that John Walsh supports privatizing social security is likewise totally false. John Walsh has never said that and, in fact, is endorsed by the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, a group that adamantly opposes privatization. Daines doesn’t mention that the House Republican budget proposal of 2005 contained actual provisions to privatize Social Security. The Paul Ryan Republican House proposal of 2011 also contained plans to privatize Social Security. If the lady in Daines’ ad is scared of privatization, she better vote for Democrats rather than lying Republicans. It is truly tragic that she believes the zombie lies.
In one of the least surprising stories of the year, the United States continues to spend as much on defense as the rest of the world combined. The U.S. spent $618 billion in 2013, more than 3 times the amount spent by the next highest spender, China, which spent $171 billion.
The annual spending, though, does not include the cost of taking care of the veterans who are injured in our various incursions throughout the world. Because of the scandal at the V.A. hospital in Phoenix, Congress looked into what it would cost to actually fix the problems of the V.A. Congress was a bit shocked to learn it would cost about $50 billion per year. Predictably, the same Senators who can’t wait to rush the military into any conflict around the world, screamed like stuck pigs at the cost, howling that we just don’t have the money. Why is there always money for jets that don’t fly, but no money for actual people?
Here’s a crazy bit of advice to Congress. Wars are expensive. If you don’t want to pay for them, don’t get involved in them. And, if you don’t want to fund the V.A., why not go to a national health care system like the rest of the world since we spend more on health care than anyone else in the world. Of course, a lot of that money is wasted since our outcomes are the worst in the developed world. For example, Belgium spends half as much per capita, about half as much as a percentage of GDP, and yet has a higher life expectancy.
For all the continued cries from politicians about being fiscally responsible, just a cursory look at our military and health care expenditures clearly shows that all the folks in D.C. don’t give a damn about responsibility or efficiency.
Some time ago, I wrote a post about government spending choices. I have also written repeatedly about the boondoggle which is the F-35 fighter jet. Well, the F-35, which is 7 years behind schedule, was to be unveiled at an air show in England next week. Problem is, though, its engine catches fire.
In terms of priorities, what could the government buy for the money spent on a jet that doesn’t work? Well, the government could have instead purchased a $600,000 house for every homeless family in America. When it is all said and done, the F-35 will cost about $500 billion to develop and $1 trillion to maintain. That would be enough to rebuild all the deficient bridges and roads in the U.S.
Welfare for The Military Industrial Complex is clearly the number one priority of Congress. The question is: why?
I just returned from a month in Brazil enjoying the World Cup so I’m tanned, rested, and ready to blog. Probably the biggest thing to happen while I was gone was the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case. In my opinion, it and Citizens United will be viewed by history in the same light as Dred Scott as being utterly disgraceful. Of course, plenty has been written about the absurdity of a corporation having religious beliefs (other than the religion of capitalism).
I have thought about these cases from a different angle, one which I have not seen much discussion about. In my day job, I’m a lawyer, and as such, I am aware that the word “corporation” does not appear in the Constitution. I also am aware that in the United States, corporations are not organized under federal law, but under the laws of the individual states. An entire Title, 35, of Montana Law is related to corporate regulation. Any corporation exists solely by the consent of a state. To exist, incorporators must submit Articles of Incorporation to the Secretary of state which must contain information required by statute. Montana law prescribes how a corporation must be organized. State law even determines how a corporation may be dissolved, either voluntarily or involuntarily.
So, it seems to me that a couple of questions necessarily follow. First, if a corporation exists soley by state law, how can it be a person under the federal constitution? Second, if a state regulares how a corporation comes into existence, how it must be organized, and how it dies, why can’t states regulate how it spends money to influence elections of actual people? Third, if a corporation exists solely at the discretion of state law, how could it possibly have a religion since the First Amendment specifically prevents the government from establishing a religion? Neither decision addresses these fundamental questions. The majority of the Supreme Court, five conservative males nominated by Republican Presidents, have now given natural person status to organizations that exist solely because they filed the correct papers with the correct fee. We live in truly strange times.
I don’t have much to say about the Bowe Bergdahl prisoner swap as, General McChrystal, who commanded the Army in Afghanistan, believes, it is prudent to wait until we have actual facts available prior to making judgments. Obviously, in the world of the right wing, facts are never reason to withhold a conclusion that President Obama must have done something wrong.
That said, it is striking, even to a hardened cynic like myself, how quickly and pervasive the whiplash of conservative hypocrisy is. Other writers have pointed out how breathtakingly quickly that conservatives who had been criticizing President Obama for not securing Bergdahl’s release, have done a 180 and are criticizing him for doing what they wanted.
Dana Milbank of the Washington Post is amazed that the Republican scandal machine can crank up so fast and with so little rational thought. I guess the lesson in all this is that the right wing is opposed to whatever President Obama does or doesn’t do, even if they agree with what he does or doesn’t do. welcome to Wonderland Alice.
Not long ago, I wrote a post about a pipeline company trying to fix a leak with duct tape and garbage bags. What I didn’t mention at the time was that this story came out during a Congressional hearing about updating pipeline regulations near wildlife refuges. During the hearing, Republican congressmen derided the updating as a “hare brained idea”, and asked if the proposals were from a “bunch of jackasses” like environmentalists.
Of course, only eight days later, oil spilled into the refuge.