It’s all right there, if you want to see…

Posted April 17, 2014 by Betsy Marks Delaney
Categories: ALEC, Constitution, Economics, Education, GOP, Oligarchy, Politics

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ol·i·gar·chy (noun \ˈä-lə-ˌgär-kē, ˈō-\; plural: ol·i·gar·chies)
Full Definition of OLIGARCHY:
1 :  government by the few
2 :  a government in which a small group exercises control especially for corrupt and selfish purposes; also:  a group exercising such control [emphasis mine]

On April 9, 2014, this report was released on Princeton University’s website, and it’s shaken up news reports all over the world. It might come as no surprise to you, dear reader, that I’m not shocked at all by the finding. In fact, I’ve been using the term for at least the last several years, to describe in various threads just exactly what our country has become. If you think we’ve somehow escaped notice, think again:

The Telegraph: The US is an oligarchy, study concludes

Defence Pakistan: US is an oligarchy not a democracy, says scientific study

UPI: The US is not a democracy but an oligarchy, study concludes

All of a sudden, this is news. Only it’s not news.

 New York Times: Oligarchy, American Style (11/3/2011)

Mother Jones: How the Oligarchs Took America (12/2/2010)

Robert Reich’s film, Inequality For All, does a spectacular job of tying all the loose ends together to explain what happened to the U.S.A. over the last 30 years. I’ve written a lot about the symptoms in the last year and a half, but nothing connects them half as well as this simple, elegant movie.

Too many people spend their time repeating the talking points without understand the source of the platform. They trust the office without paying attention to the officer. They don’t know how to read between the lines because their education fails to explain that the subtext is just as important as the message. We got where we are today because the Republicans beat the Libertarians in 1980, and the Libertarians took a different path.

You can (and should) go back in this blog and read the articles I’ve posted on the Koch brothers, you can listen to the things Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert have to say (because comedy is the best source of truth these days), or you can analyze the political rhetoric that’s starting to hit for each of the Senate and House races this year, but the bottom line is, we have maybe two years to get our act together and do something about the GO(T)P.

They’ve got a lock on two of the four (yes, four) branches of government: The Supreme Court and the House. Without cooperation across the aisles, the Senate is barely holding on. Today, the Senate leans Democratic, but that’s not a given based on the 2014 election analysis.

If the Senate flips back to the GO(T)P, and we put another Republican in the office of President, we can write off our country. The poor will become modern-day serfs and the middle class will join them because that class is a modern myth. The combined branches will finally get to do what they always wanted – rewrite the Constitution with impunity.

The Presidency depends on having enough votes in key states – most of which are undergoing the same sort of voter crap that Florida’s done. We tip one or the other (senate or presidency) in the direction of the GOP, and what little remains of our safety nets will disappear completely. Want some practice at reading between the lines? Try these articles out for size:

Huffington Post: Florida’s 13th District Bellwether Report: Why Obamacare’s Least Of Democrats’ Worries

Christian Science Monitor: Court rules Florida voter purge illegal, but will it stop GOP voting tweaks?

Purge the rolls of Democrats, lean a little in the direction most conservatives think they need to go, or split the vote a little more with the splinter parties (Green or Socialist) and the GOP will have what they want: Total control of the US government. Once that happens, they can rewrite our constitution, revise the rules for who gets to vote. Can’t happen? We have three Supreme Court Justices who are on the edge of retirement, and the guessing game for who will retire first, and who will replace them, is heating up. Have a good look at the Tea Party line and platform and you’ll see the fundamentals of the Neo-Fascists who are presently armed to the teeth, thanks to the NRA.

We can still stop the madness, but it’s getting harder, not easier. I’d hoped the GOP was the party of the Old White Male, but that ignores the younger population who are moving in through the Tea Party. I recognize that the Democrats have issues, but the things they want to support – the Social Safety Net, universal health care, public education – will ALL go away if they lose.  So like I said: We’ve got maybe two years to turn this around. We can’t wait until 2020. This election is important. The next one is critical.

When the hospital plays God…

Posted January 24, 2014 by Betsy Marks Delaney
Categories: ALEC, Choice, Civil Liberties, Ethics, Family, GOP, Religion, Women

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It’s Karen Ann Quinlan and Terri Schiavo all over again.

Only this one’s different. This one involves a pregnant woman, and the rules have changed. Because this is Texas, where, thanks to George W. Bush, fetuses trump everything, and the only sacred thing is birth. But this isn’t just about Bush and it’s not just about Texas, either.

Did you know that roughly one third of the United States have enacted similar laws? Where do you live? Have you checked the rules? Is there the remotest chance you could become pregnant, then incapacitated, and then be forced into the role of incubator at the pleasure of the State?

This article, from the Vermont Law Review, dates back to 2005, and was published shortly after Bush signed the bill into law in Texas.

DIE FREE OR LIVE: THE CONSTITUTIONALITY OF NEW
HAMPSHIRE’S LIVING WILL PREGNANCY EXCEPTION

But the article isn’t about Texas. It’s about New Hampshire. Which other states have such laws on their books? I can’t tell you. There is no quick summary to tell me which states ignore Advanced Directives in favor of pregnancy. And I’m not in a position right now to devote the time it will take to review the laws in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the US territories.

I strongly suggest that if you have even the remotest chance of becoming pregnant and you think you have a Living Will or Five Wishes document in place, you check your state laws and make sure your family won’t be trapped in Erick Muñoz’s living hell.

Fetus in Muñoz case is “distinctly abnormal,” attorneys say

We don’t understand nearly enough about the dying process that I would even consider the possibility of remaining on life support to continue carrying my unborn fetus, unless that fetus was near term. A couple of days? Yeah, I could see that, but Marlise Muñoz was barely out of the first trimester when she collapsed. Based on nutrition alone, that’s going to have a massive effect on the health of the baby. Then there’s the oxygen deprivation, circulatory regulation, and more.

And then, there’s the enormous load of ethical questions of cost for care and who should bear them. Texas is absolved of the responsibility. If the hospital shunts its responsibility back to the already grieving father who is taking legal action against the hospital, how is this even remotely right or responsible?

The question is so charged with ethical questions, in fact, that the first judge set to hear the case has recused herself. Don’t skip this article. It has links to a bunch of other related articles I won’t reproduce the links here, and to understand what’s happening in Texas, and could happen in your state as well, you need to read through all of them.

Judge recuses herself from Muñoz case against JPS hospital

In fact, there are so very many questions, starting with the right to choose coming from the family, I can’t even begin to list all the reasons why this is so tremendously awful. It’s Quinlan and Schiavo all over again.

I recognize that I’m an atheist at best, but there’s doing what’s right and then there’s this. Religion and morality get in the way of doing the right thing and that’s the sole reason for the separation of church and state.

I find it profoundly disturbing that there is no simple summary of the states that would force a family to maintain a pregnant woman on life support as an incubator for her fetus. In fact, the laws are so variable I strongly suggest that if you have such a document in place, you investigate for yourself what your family will face if they have to make the decision for you.

Pregnancy is such a loaded event. It’s hard enough to imagine the responsibilities of caring for a person from birth through to adulthood. We invest so much in child bearing and so little in child rearing, and focus so much attention on abortion and choice, that we forget sometimes the state will trump our right to choose. If you think about it, you shouldn’t be at all surprised to discover that the next logical step is jail for miscarriage, but that’s the case in some of our states.

Miscarriage? Face Prison Time For Murder

Government so small it fits into a woman’s uterus.

Think about it. Fight against it, because we’re just one thin line away from Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.

[Addendum 1: After publishing this post, I found the following link, to the Center for Women Policy Studies' article entitled Pregnancy Exclusions in State Living Will and Medical Proxy Statutes. I strongly recommend this article if you or your child(ren) are of an age where pregnancy is an issue. Whether you live in one of the five states that allow advanced directives for pregnant women (Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oklahoma, and Vermont) or not, pay very close attention to your state laws.]

[Addendum 2: MSNBC is reporting that John Peter Smith Hospital has been ordered by a Texas judge to remove Mrs. Muñoz from life support, no later than 5 p.m. CST on Monday, and that her death on November 28th places her outside the legal requirement for maintaining the acknowledged non-viable pregnancy. It is unclear whether the hospital's administration will follow the judge's ruling at this time.]

Water, water everywhere…

Posted January 14, 2014 by Betsy Marks Delaney
Categories: ALEC, Ethics, GOP, Politics

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

This is a tale of two cities. And two bodies of water.

On the one hand, there’s Fort Lee, New Jersey, located just across the Hudson River from New York via the Cross Bronx Expressway and the New Jersey Turnpike.

On the other hand, there’s Elk River, a tributary of the Kanawha River, which runs through the heart of Charleston, WV.

Both places are in the news this week. And both of these are related, whether you know it or not, because the people who live there are suffering the effects of a political system that’s spinning entirely out of control, thanks to deregulation and corruption.

On the one hand, over the course of five days (from September 9-13, 2013), a percentage of people encountered major delays crossing the George Washington Bridge (including 91-year-old Florence Genova, who suffered cardiac arrest and would likely have died anyway, even if the EMS had been able to arrive on time, according to her daughter), for which one bureaucrat has been fired and another resigned. To be sure, we’re talking about a major artery between two states, and some seriously screwed up vindictive actions coming from the Christie administration (which, as Jon Stewart pointed out, likely goes much farther than the Governor would have us believe).

On the other hand, it’s hard to imagine the cumulative repercussions or how the people of Charleston and, in fact, everyone downriver of the Elk River chemical spill, are going to handle the poisoned water supply when the people themselves asked for deregulation by electing officials who serve corporate interests.

The poison, 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, is a solvent used in processing coal. What does it do and how does it affect life? Well, that’s an interesting question. In fact, there are a lot of questions about how this is going to affect people over time, and a lot fewer answers than there should be, thanks to a growing movement against regulations and EPA protection.

The chemical spill has already prompted 18 legal suits and there will undoubtedly be others. We’re talking about poison in the largest inland waterway in West Virginia, a tributary of the Ohio River which eventually flows into the Mississippi.

How did it happen? That’s under investigation, but it calls into question how we handle our water in other places as well. For example, here’s what PBS’s Frontline: Poisoned Waters had to say on the subject in 2009, using the Potomac River as an example. You can watch the whole Frontline episode online. What will flushing do, except kick the can down the road to more areas, spreading an unknown poison in unknown ways. Rather than consider containment, it’s easier to dilute and spread.

If Erin Brockovich’s sudden involvement makes you go “Hmmm” the way I did when I heard her on Morning Edition, think about this: With corporations increasingly in control of our government, we should be very VERY concerned about any movement away from protecting our environment, especially when it’s clear we don’t know all the ramifications.

So where’s the partisan politics come in here? That’s a great question. I can’t answer you, though, because there’s so little on the subject of regulation in general and the few things I could dig up on Charleston’s mayor, Danny Jones (R) had to do with his unhappiness over gun regulations, not chemical storage.

Demographics (Charleston, WV vs Fort Lee, NJ) shows Charleston is actually far larger (by almost 50%). And yet, there’s a difference in the reporting of this catastrophe. Nobody really wants to say what’s really at stake here

On the one hand, we’re talking about one GOP governor’s aspirations for the Presidency in 2016. On the other hand? Hundreds of thousands of people were without drinking water. Consider Brocovich’s  warning that even though the ban is being lifted in some places, people should reconsider drinking. What will it take for us to hold corporations accountable and recognize the cost of their freedom to operate however they wish?

Are you downstream of Charleston? What’s in your glass?

No vast right-wing conspiracies here. Nope.

Posted January 10, 2014 by Betsy Marks Delaney
Categories: Business, Economics, GOP, Politics

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And here we are, at the end of the first full week in January. That didn’t take nearly as long as I thought it would.

Koch-backed political coalition, designed to shield donors,
raised $400 million in 2012

“The political network spearheaded by conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch has expanded into a far-reaching operation of unrivaled complexity, built around a maze of groups that cloaks its donors, according to an analysis of new tax returns and other documents.”

It’s almost as if…as if…

But wait. That can’t be right. Can it?

Well, yeah, it can. And folks are finally starting to notice. It’s about time, after 30 years of Conservative howling about deregulation. 2014 promises to be a nasty, nasty year, if we can’t figure out how to force Corporate America to let our people go.

So here’s a preview. Watch what this year looks like, because with the mid-term elections, we’re still three years away from the real deal. The big question I have right now: How do we get rid of Citizens United so this nonsense stops for good? That’s an excellent question. Here’s what the Huffington Post has to say on the subject:

Well here. Let’s see how the Dark Money likes it when we get all uppity and try to make things better for ourselves. Wait. You mean we can’t? Whut?

Right. Because while corporations are people, my friend, people AREN’T corporations. And that, dear friends, is the sum total of what’s wrong with America right now. You heard it here…well…now, really. I’m just spreading the Word. It’s what I do.

It’s not just me…

Posted January 9, 2014 by Betsy Marks Delaney
Categories: GOP, Politics

Tags: , , ,

In case you were wondering. Slate has done the homework this time, and they’re dead on. This is what the year’s going to look like, whether you like it or not. Here’s hoping you’re employed, because if you’re not, it’s going to be a long eleven months.

Obamacare. Obamacare. Obamacare.  The Republican strategy for winning the Senate in 2014 is a single word.

Unemployment Blackmail is just the beginning, folks. Buckle your seat belts. 2014 is gonna be bumpy. All year long.

Unemployment Blackmail

Posted January 8, 2014 by Betsy Marks Delaney
Categories: Constitution, Economics, Ethics, GOP, Government Shut-Down, Politics, Sequestration

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

ex·tor·tion [ik-stawr-shuhn]
noun
1. an act or instance of extorting.
2. Law. the crime of obtaining money or some other thing
of value by the abuse of one’s office or authority.
3. oppressive or illegal exaction, as of excessive price
or interest: the extortions of usurers.
4. anything extorted.

Yesterday on Facebook, this little gem popped up in my feed. I was nearly done for the night, and with all Facebook’s recent monkey business and tampering with the way news filters through, I might have missed it. But no, it hit me about this time last night and I…I couldn’t stand it anymore.

I’ve been quiet, trying to concentrate on getting through school and the holidays, but I have to say I could not have imagined the depths the GOP will stoop to relieve us poor saps of the one thing that could get them unseated in November. Not until last night, at least.

It wasn’t enough just to believe PoliticsUSA, though. I needed to find corroboration that didn’t link back to the original article, so imagine my surprise when I found this.

Here’s the whole clip from C-SPAN2.

Seriously? Okay, folks. I’m back. Miss me?

This is why the GOP pulled benefits from our Veterans and those suffering from long-term unemployment? (That, by the way, includes me. I fell off the unemployment ranks three years ago. That’s why I’m back in college again, even though I have a perfectly valid B.A.)

There’s no polite term for extortion. It’s illegal. Why aren’t these gentlemen going to prison for violating Federal law? Because someone told them it was okay to do this.

Well, get this. We have just shy of nine months to let these criminals know they can’t pull this crap and get away with it. Show them the door.

Mitch McConnell is up for re-election THIS November. So are roughly one-third of the other Senate seats and ALL the Representatives in the House.

If you allow these thugs to stay the course, you’re just as guilty as they are.

Do something about it.

You have nine months.

Reblogging on the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht…

Posted November 9, 2013 by Betsy Marks Delaney
Categories: GOP, Government Shut-Down, Politics, Racism, Slavery, WWII

Tags: , , , , , ,

This is important enough that you need to see it and I’m not rewriting it. If you really want to know what drives me to write the pieces I do, read the post and watch the clip.

365 Days / 365 Videos:

November 9: Cabaret ~ Tomorrow belongs to me

And consider this: In the world today, neo-Nazi and neo-Confederacy groups are working hard to control American politics. Our country is in the same place Germany was when the Third Reich rose to power. We are still putting so-called conservatives in power because many people in the south miss their rich, fat incomes thanks to the destruction of slavery. Some of them believe slavery was a good thing.

Think I’m making this up? Think again:

Arkansas Lawmaker Concludes That
Slavery Was Actually Good for Black People

CPAC Participant Defends Slavery
At Minority Outreach Panel:
It Gave ‘Food And Shelter’ To Blacks

Look into our prison system, in restaurants, fields, garment factories (where they still exist) and in other places where menial labor means hard work for little pay, and you’ll find modern slavery, “human trafficking.”

It’s all well and good to view our nasty Civil War history through rose-colored filters, but then folks like Steve McQueen (director of “12 Years A Slave”) come along and blow all that rose-colored fantasy away.

Imagine for a moment what would happen if the Tea Party got its way and actually rose to power, with a representative in the Oval Office and enough of a majority to squash the actions of the Senate the way they do the House. Unthinkable, right?

We have less than a year to the 2014 elections. While I don’t see a lot of change in who’s seated in the Senate, there’s a whole mess of trouble in our House of Representatives. In case you’ve forgotten, the next government shutdown threat is scheduled for December. And unless I’ve missed something major in the news, we are no closer to a budget deal than we have been in the last five years. Where’s the discussion? Nobody’s talking. There hasn’t been an update since the end of October. Well, okay, there’s this:

Paul Ryan warns budget talks doomed
if members argue about taxes

Now, maybe it’s just that they’re trying to work hard and keep the press out of the discussion, or maybe it’s that there hasn’t been any progress. I’m sure everyone would be happier knowing we’re not going to wind up with another shutdown just as the Christmas season gets underway, but I’m not willing to bet we’ll be any further along than we were on the 17th.

How does this all tie in together?

Here’s a massively oversimplified description of the events that led up to the rise of Hitler:

Nazi Germany Before World War II

But that really misses the bigger picture. The US wasn’t the only country to suffer in the Great Depression. It was global, no better in Germany than it was here. And that’s the key.

We are in the same depression recovery the Germans suffered in the 1930s. Look at Detroit as a clear example of what our depression has done to the people today. Who’s running Michigan, anyway? Oh, right. Rick Snyder. Not an extremist Tea Party member (in fact, they’re mad at him for promoting tax money to cover infrastructure), but a member of the GOP and a venture capitalist on the side of corporate America.

This is what World War II looked like through the lens, as compiled by The Atlantic in 2011:

World War II in Photos: A retrospective in 20 parts

Why am I telling you these things?

Because of this:

Swastikas, Slurs and Torment in Town’s Schools
Pine Bush, N.Y., School District Faces Accusations of Anti-Semitism

It’s not theoretical racism. We are not immune. And unless we start to realize and do something about it, we’re going to wind up just like Germany 75 years ago.


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