Tagged: Republicans

Catholic leaders ask GOP to join pope on climate, income inequality


AP/Charlie Neibergall

Bishop Martin Amos of the Diocese of Davenport, speaks during a news conference in Ankeny, Iowa. Roman Catholic leaders in Iowa are calling for presidential candidates to focus on the environment and income inequality in 2016.

Roman Catholic leaders in the early voting state of Iowa implored candidates for president Thursday to take up Pope Francis’ call for “profound political courage” by focusing their campaigns as much on improving the environment and income inequality as they have on opposing gay marriage and abortion in past elections.

The vocal pivot from such traditional social issues marks the first time U.S. Catholic bishops have publicly asked those seeking the White House to heed the admonitions of Francis’ June encyclical, said Bishop Richard Pates of Des Moines.

In Francis’ major teaching document, the leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics called for a “sweeping revolution” to correct a “structurally perverse” economic system that allows the rich to exploit the poor and has turned the Earth into an “immense pile of filth.”

“These are going to be difficult decisions that have to be made,” said the Rev. Bud Grant of Davenport, joined at a news conference by bishops from central and eastern Iowa. “Politicians have to have the courage to do the right thing, and not necessarily the politically expedient thing.”

The push from bishops threatens to disrupt the historically reliable alliance of evangelical Christians and conservative Roman Catholic voters, putting pressure on Republicans who have leaned on their religious faith to guide them on social issues.

It will also focus attention on how the six Roman Catholics seeking the 2016 Republican presidential nomination will wrestle with a pope’s teachings on economics and climate change that clash with traditional Republican ideology.

While Francis has condemned abortion and upheld marriage as the union of a man and a woman, he has not done so with anything approaching the frequency of his two predecessors. Instead, Francis has urged church leaders to talk less about such social issues and more about mercy and compassion, so that wayward Catholics would feel welcome to return to the church.

Should be fun when Pope Francis addresses the papier mache politicians in Congress. I wonder if any of the Tea Party idjits will shout out “you lie”?

Setting aside my reflexive wryness, the Roman Catholic church remains the only significant world religion with unified – even codified – administration and leadership. As much as some of the fundamentalist sects of Protestantism in the United States work at convincing themselves they are the only true voice of their deity, any socially, politically, reasonable leader of any of these has to respect the strength of a global religious body.

The Roman Catholic church may share all of the same fears of modern times; but, the latest pope seems to have learned something about not appearing like a complete idiot in the face of reality. The question remains – will our fundamentalists learn the same lesson? Will they then rap the knuckles of their pet political party and suggest a jot of progress is more sustaining than lockstep obedience to anachronistic dogma?

Are Republicans right? Will same-sex marriage ruin civilization?

Same-sex marriage is now legal throughout the USA. This is a good thing, it’s always nice when people get equal treatment under the law. Sadly, not everyone agrees. Such is the speed of modern news and communication that announcement of the Supreme Court decision was essentially immediately followed by furious objections and doom-laden predictions of the collapse of society for various reasons.

It’s easy to dismiss these objections as angry incoherent bitterness from people who can’t or won’t accept that the rest of the human race doesn’t have to conform to their antiquated views, and many people do just that. But what if they’re not? What if there are genuine scientific reasons to fear same-sex marriage? After all, we in the UK know that same-sex marriage caused extreme flooding when it was legalised here, and now that it’s permitted in a country with the size and influence of the USA the consequences could be even more catastrophic. Here are just some possibilities we should brace ourselves for.

The overturning of nature

Governor Mike Huckabee pointed out that for the Supreme Court to legalise same-sex marriage is to overturn nature, which is impossible…

However, same-sex marriage is now legal, so clearly it is possible for humans to overturn nature. This opens up a wide variety of problems, given how nature is responsible for everything that keeps the planet running. Clearly LGBT people have the power to overrule nature to suit their own needs. While we can hope they restrict this ability to things like increasing the number of rainbows, there’s no guarantee of this. What if some careless homosexual is struggling with a heavy suitcase and decides to lower the mass of the planet to reduce the strength of gravity? We’d all be flung out of the atmosphere without warning…

Too many rainbows

As already hinted at, the celebrations of the legalisation of same-sex marriage have resulted in a stark increase in the number of rainbows seen everywhere. The rainbow is the symbol of the LGBT movement, so this makes sense. No harm in rainbows, right?

Wrong! It may seem like harmless celebration to put rainbows in every possible location, but what about the effect this is having on the eyes of those who have to look at them? The retina in the eye relies on photoreceptors, specialised cells that detect light. Because they’re organic and rely on biological processes, these photoreceptors can become exhausted if exposed to a particular stimulus for too long. Constant exposure to rainbows could mean people can’t see colours as well, and this could be disastrous. How will they know when to stop or go at a traffic light? Or which wire to cut when defusing a bomb?

RTFA. Good for a chuckle. A witty rejoinder to the animal spirits of the ignorant. Read on and learn about The climate damage and The slippery slopes.

Obamacare upheld by SCOTUS


Click to enlargeJim Lo Scalzo/EPA

Chief justice John Roberts has come to the rescue of Barack Obama’s healthcare reforms for a second time as the US supreme court struck down a Republican-led challenge to Obamacare that could have gutted the legislation and stripped millions of Americans of their health insurance.

Rescue? No. Roberts may be a conservative dork; but, his style of judgement rests on the intent of Congress and law. Passed by a Congress lightyears ahead of what we’ve had to bear since Year 3 of Obama, the intent of the ACA was clear and Roberts supported the law – as far as Congress went.

The decision in the high-stakes case of King v Burwell all but guarantees that Obamacare will survive intact until at least the 2016 election, giving its supporters hope that it will become impossible to reverse even if a Republican is elected to the White House.

The case, which turned on the meaning of four words – “established by the state” – was brought by Virginia limousine driver David King, who sued the then health secretary, Sylvia Burwell, on the grounds that insurance subsidies erroneously paid to those on low to middle incomes forced him to take out cover against his will by pushing him above an affordability threshold…

In most respects, the same as laws establishing minimum levels of automobile insurance. Opposed just as vehemently in its day by cheapskate conservatives who hate paying for anything.

But six of the nine justices, including Roberts, sided with the government in agreeing that other parts of the legislation made the broader meaning clear and allowed subsidies to be paid to exchanges run by states or the federal government.

“Given that the text is ambiguous, we must turn to the broader structure of the act to determine the meaning,” wrote Roberts in a passage that represents a huge victory for the Obama administration…

Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton…praised the court’s decision, tweeting: “SCOTUS affirms what we know is true in our hearts & under the law: Health insurance should be affordable & available to all.”

Fellow presidential candidate and leftwing Vermont senator Bernie Sanders praised the court for recognizing “the common-sense reading of the Affordable Care Act” but went on to call for replacing Obamacare with a “Medicare-for-all, single-payer system”.

If and when we get a Congress that not only fights for the needs of average Americans; but, has the courage to provide a bit of leadership – we’ll get round to Bernie’s proposal. Only a bit over a half-century after the rest of the industrial West did so.

Which prompts me to note why I – as someone who has nothing more than contempt for the 2-party/electoral college bordello our politics are chained to – still suggest voting for Democrats when there isn’t a progressive 3rd-Party alternative. If we leave a mediocrity to fall into the hands of truly corrupt class-worshippers, we’re really in line to be screwed. And we will be getting what we deserve for our inaction.

Patriot Act powers to lapse [legally] at midnight – Senate hawks FAIL


“What do we do, now?”

No doubt those who value security over liberty will return to Congress in coming days and weeks to rebuild a legal framework for keeping an eye on all of us. I have no confidence they will relent – even if illegal means are their core methods. We will need to continue the fight.

Meanwhile, read this GUARDIAN article to get up-to-date.

Republicans now control the cemetery vote

image

It turns out that one of the Grand Old Party’s biggest—and least discussed—challenges going into 2016 is lying in plain sight, written right into the party’s own nickname. The Republican Party voter is old—and getting older, and as the adage goes, there are two certainties in life: Death and taxes. Right now, both are enemies of the GOP and they might want to worry more about the former than the latter.

There’s been much written about how millennials are becoming a reliable voting bloc for Democrats, but there’s been much less attention paid to one of the biggest get-out-the-vote challenges for the Republican Party heading into the next presidential election: Hundreds of thousands of their traditional core supporters won’t be able to turn out to vote at all.

The party’s core is dying off by the day.

Since the average Republican is significantly older than the average Democrat, far more Republicans than Democrats have died since the 2012 elections. To make matters worse, the GOP is attracting fewer first-time voters. Unless the party is able to make inroads with new voters, or discover a fountain of youth, the GOP’s slow demographic slide will continue election to election. Actuarial tables make that part clear, but just how much of a problem for the GOP is this?…

By combining presidential election exit polls with mortality rates per age group from the U.S. Census Bureau, I calculated that, of the 61 million who voted for Mitt Romney in 2012, about 2.75 million will be dead by the 2016 election. President Barack Obama’s voters, of course, will have died too—about 2.3 million of the 66 million who voted for the president won’t make it to 2016 either. That leaves a big gap in between, a difference of roughly 453,000 in favor of the Democrats…

“I’ve never seen anyone doing any studies on how many dead people can’t vote,” laughs William Frey, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who specializes in demographic studies. “I’ve seen studies on how many dead people do vote. The old Daley Administration in Chicago was very good at that.”

RTFA for details and especially variables critical to both of the two parties if anyone is to take advantage of demographics.

One thing is certain. Dead people don’t vote, at least not as much as they did in Chicago in 1960. Core Republican voters not only oppose change, they fear progress. Core Democrats not only support change broadly, they welcome progress and equal opportunity.

Republicans hope for a narrow discussion of anything but the foolishness that actually guides their decision-making.

Thanks to my favorite recovering Republican

Texas bill will forbid towns and cities from banning fracking


Click to enlargeSpencer Platt/Getty ImagesTrucks near a fracking site in Odessa, Texas

Last time I was in Odessa I commented on the absence of birds on the prairie – dotted with pumpjacks and pipelines. Bubba said, “Smell that air. That’s the smell of money. Of course, it killed all the birds.”

A bill supported by energy companies that prevents cities and counties from banning the practice of fracking on their land has been passed by the first tier of state legislators in Texas and is on course to become law.

The proposed law would stop municipalities and other local authorities from enacting their own bans on the practice of hydraulic fracturing and drilling for crude oil and natural gas. The state would have the power to override any such efforts and give gas and oil companies the access they desire to extract resources, against the wishes of voters and politicians at local level if necessary.

The bill was approved by the Republican-controlled Texas House…and will now proceed to the Senate, where it is expected to be approved, and then to Governor Greg Abbott. Abbott has previously decried the level of regulation placed on such companies by local authorities.

Abbott fears democracy as much as any of his peers. As much as Republicans lie about reining in the power of the state – using that power to benefit corporate greed is OK.

The move came in response to a recent decision by Denton, a college town about 30 miles from Dallas, to ban fracking inside its city limits over concerns about recurring small earthquakes and other safety worries linked to deep gas wells. Denton sits on a gas-rich shale formation that stretches across 24 counties in north Texas…

Moves by local authorities to try to keep fracking out of their backyards are afoot in other parts of Texas. Opponents of the bill now going through the Texas legislature complain that the state is grabbing power from local government and say the new law will jeopardise safety close to homes and schools.

Some of the most archaic laws this side of sharia are still on the books in this land of freedom, the American West. They were written by the owners of extractive industries like mining and logging, by the patrons of Spanish land grants who wished sole governance over access to water.

The best any ordinary mortal can generally hope for is a pittance of the profits or an even smaller fraction of water rights, surface water or ground water. Our bought-and-paid-for politicians – especially at the state level – play all the traditional games, dance the traditional dances. Hallowed ancestors, freedom-loving settlers is one of the most hypocritical concepts – generally describing someone who stole this land from Native Americans.

Just one more trick bag Americans have to get mad enough to tear up and scatter to the wind – like all baronial declarations.