Sunday, October 4, 2015

America's Dysfunctional Government - Who's to Blame?

Many insist that both major political parties are equally to blame for America’s dysfunctional government. Some use this as justification for supporting the presidential campaigns of Donald Trump, Ben Carson or Carly Fiorina, who they view as non-politicians and outsiders.  However, if you study the history of the contributions and ideology of the major political parties the truth becomes clear.

The Democratic Party, while far from perfect, has consistently represented the interests of the majority of Americans. It is the party responsible for the implementation of Medicare and Social Security, which Republicans to this day are committed to dismantling. It is the party that stands for equal rights (and pay) for all regardless of race, sex (or sexual orientation) and religion. It is the party that supports raising the minimum wage to ensure all Americans receive a living wage for their labor. It is the party that, like all civilized nations, believes healthcare is a human right not an unaffordable expense. 

The Republican Party, on the other hand, has tirelessly battled to free corporations from government regulation and for reducing taxes for the wealthy. It is the party waging a never-ending war against labor unions and raising the minimum wage as wages stagnant and the once strong middle class morphs the working poor. It is the party committed to eliminating all social programs designed to protect the poorest among us. It is the party that denies the science of climate change in order to allow industry to continue to foul the earth’s air, land and sea. The Republican Party is also the party that most often advocates replacing the secular government established by the nation’s Founding Fathers with a Christian theocracy.

When conservative politicians and pundits are not directing their hateful soundbites at the poor (lazy), blacks (thugs), Muslims (terrorists), homosexuals (sinners) and illegal immigrants (criminals), they are ranting about the ineptitude of the federal government. They decry government interference in the "free market" and would put an end to the critically important role of government in protecting investors, consumers, workers and the environment from corporations concerned only about profits and the disgracefully excessive compensation awarded to their executives. If the Republican Party has its way, America’s democratic form of government will eventually be replaced with oligarchy. 

There are major differences in the platforms of the two major political parties. It is critical for the future of this nation that the majority of Americans understand this. The Republican Party today is truly the party of "No". No good can come to the majority of Americans when it holds the reigns of government.

Background Checks--Really????

As the carnage continues, politicians attempting to make it look like they care call for stronger background checks and treatment for the mentally ill. I wonder how they can even propose this as a solution with a straight face.

Background checks wouldn't have saved the children and teachers at Sandyhook. The shooter's mother bought the guns and would have had no problem passing a background check. The shooter in Oregon last week acquired the guns legally. The vast majority of others who have turned guns on members of their family, friends, innocent strangers or  themselves have no history of past violence and could easily pass a background check.

There is a cliche that guns don't kill people; people kill people.  In truth, it is the increasing availability of guns that kills people. As long as people are allowed to keep guns, including handguns and weapons of mass destruction like assault rifles and high capacity clips, the death count will continue to mount.

The fallacy that increased background checks is the solution is a myth.  Guns are stolen in break-ins by criminals. Legally acquired guns are used by angry friends or family members. Unsecured guns in homes result in the death of far too many curious children. Guns often result in disputes quickly escalating from verbal confrontations or fist fights to fatal shootings. Suicides also increase when a gun is readily at hand.

The only thing that will reduce gun violence is less guns.  Other more civilized countries understand this, but these nations place a higher value on human life. After all, America is the country that is still debating whether the poor have a right to healthcare. 

Sunday, February 15, 2015

God Save America from the GOP

The GOP controlled Congress is wasting no time doling out benefits to business. In spite of the "myth" that they are the fiscally responsible party, the reality is most Republicans have no problem increasing the deficit if it will benefit business or the wealthy. It is funding for Healthcare, Social Security, Education and other social programs directly benefiting the people that the GOP is anxious to slash. They can also be expected to cut funding for the government agencies charged with protecting our food supply, financial markets and the environment.  

It is inconceivable, that after doing everything possible to obstruct the workings of the United States Government for the past six years, the American people awarded them a majority in both Houses of Congress. Sadly, the following votes, although predictable, clearly demonstrate what the people of this nation can expect. 

  • Keystone Pipeline - The House passed the bill granting approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline permitting a Canadian company to ship tar sand crude from Alberta to refineries in Texas, the Midwest and Gulf Coast
  • House Republicans rejected a Democratic sponsored motion that would have required the Keystone XL Pipeline to pay into the government's Oil Spill Liability Trust.
  • The House approved a GOP-drafted bill (HR 644) giving permanent status to tax deductions for businesses donating food to food banks. The allowable deduction was raised from 10% to 15%, The bill is not funded and is estimated to add $2.2 billion to the national debt through 2025.
  • The House rejected a Democratic motion that would deny benefits under HR 644 to any company that reincorporates overseas to avoid US taxes, a process known as inversion.
  • The House passed a GOP-drafted bill (HR-636) giving permanent status to accelerated depreciation rules applicable to small and mid-sized businesses. Since the bill is unfunded, it is estimated to add $77 billion to the federal deficits through 2025.
  • The House rejected a Democratic proposal that would have limited the depreciation breaks under HR-636 to one year and required their costs to be offset elsewhere in the budget.
Since the days of President Eisenhower, this country has not fared well under Republican presidents. Let's hope President Obama can keep this Congress in check for the next two years and that the majority of the people regain their senses before the next election. 

Friday, January 9, 2015

Terrorism Feeds on Hatred and Persecution

Are Christians really going to declare war on Islam? When Muslim extremists commit terrorist acts, a cry goes up for vengeance against all followers of Islam. Why doesn't a similar cry go up against Christianity when Christians commit acts of terror like Sandyhook, Columbine, or Oklahoma City? I've heard no one suggest that all Christians must be held accountable for the horrific crimes against humanity that occurred during The Holocaust.

It is not only unfair to paint all followers of Islam with the "terrorist" brush, it's downright stupid. Nearly 25% of the world's population are Muslims. Does it really make sense to declare war on almost 2 billion people? Wouldn't it be wiser to find out the reasons young Muslims in so many countries around the globe are responding to the recruitment efforts of organizations like Al-Qaeda and ISIS?

All that can come from the hatred growing like cancer in the hearts and minds of Christians, Jews, and others for Muslims is more death and destruction.