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Mars

Mars

There is a popular relationship book from a couple of decades ago called Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus which was written by John Gray, a relationship expert. While some of his ideas were and are controversial, there is some merit in some of his basic ideas – that men and women have very different thought processes and ways of handling stressful situations, so different that they might well be from other planets and that our inability to at least understand the opposite sex is the foundation of a lot of the clashes that occur within relationships.

In 2014, that lack of understanding has made its way into the political arena. Much talk has been going on about the “war on women” being undertaken by Republican legislators, particularly those affiliated with the Tea Party. Certainly there is a war on reproductive rights. While some Republicans are beginning to realize that gay marriage is a war they can’t win, they continue to carry the flag for pro-life and anti-abortion causes.

While Roe vs. Wade remains in full vigor, Republican think tanks and lawmakers have been finding legislative ways around that landmark decision and some have worked so well that legalized abortion is endangered in some places. Rather than attack abortion itself, they are going after the places that provide them. Take Texas, for example.

In 2013 the Republican dominated legislature of the Lone Star state enacted draconian legislation that essentially made it nearly impossible for abortion clinics to operate. The new laws stipulate that clinic doctors must have admitting privileges at a local hospital (defined as being within 30 miles of the clinic). That would be fine and dandy if a), it were medically necessary and b), if hospitals were willing to grant those privileges. As many progressive activists foresaw, the inability of many clinics to get those privileges (since Texas hospitals, not wishing to be affiliated in any way with abortion clinics, chose to refuse to grant those necessary privileges) which forced a pretty significant number of those clinics to close.

When the law was enacted there were 44 clinics providing abortions and other reproductive health services to women in the state of Texas. At present there are less than 20. When the second part of the bill begins in September – which requires abortion clinics to have an ambulatory surgical center which most do not it is believed that there will only be six clinics in the entire state able to perform abortions. Six.

As you might expect, things are looking grim for Texas women. Many are resorting to self-inducing through herbal remedies or with vaginal insertions. It is 1962 all over again in Texas – and soon will be in other states that are looking to enact Texas-style legislation. While I’m unaware of any women having died as a result of a back alley abortion in Texas or complications from induced miscarriages, I do believe that sooner rather than later some poor desperate woman is going to die because she couldn’t get the abortion she wanted and needed. And that is blood on the hands of Governor Rick Perry and the mostly male Republican-dominated Texas legislature. This is why Wendy Davis heroically filibustered the despicable attempt to cram this despicable bill into law at the last minute during a special legislative session.

Many raise the flag of the sanctity of life and wave it fiercely as they defend their support of Texas Senate Bill 5 but that’s absolute crap. It’s a lie. These same conservatives who scream “sanctity of life” when it comes to abortions have no compunction to executing criminals in the state with the greatest number of executions in this century, nor are they concerned with the sanctity of life when they resist stricter and more detailed background checks for gun sales. If they cared so much about the sanctity of life, they’d be against capital punishment and private ownership of guns. They’d also be pacifists. I’m fairly sure that most of these legislators are for none of those things.

The problem is that these legislators in Texas and other states where they seek to make it harder to get abortions are only making it impossible to get medically supervised and safer abortions. They aren’t reducing the number of women who will want them, and that’s really what they’re after – to control our own sexuality. The Bible-thumpers who make up the majority of the Pro-Life movement have this absurd and naive notion that by taking abortion out of the picture, people will stop having sex. What they really want is to enforce their own religious beliefs on everyone else.

That’s what it boils down to. Yes, the war on women is largely a religious war. The fact that the ERA has never been passed, ensuring equal pay for comparable work between women and men, is also a function of the Biblical view that women are inferior to men and are meant to serve men. Talk about being from an entirely different planet.

These anti-abortion laws are abominable and must be stopped and those that have passed must be repealed. If one woman dies because she is unable to get the care she needs when making the decision to terminate a pregnancy it is one woman too many. For a party that claims to be all about free market solutions and against government interference in commerce and the lives of its citizens, they are making a mockery of their own platform. What are these laws but government interference into the businesses that provide these services, and interference in the lives of women seeking to terminate an unwanted pregnancy? It has already been determined that women have the right to control what happens to their own bodies; this is political chicanery circumventing that right.

Yes, men are definitely from Mars. Who else but followers of the God of War could enact legislation this reprehensible, this invasive? This is war and when there is war between the sexes, as Joe Jackson put it so eloquently, there will be no people left.

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Petty Larceny

Petty Larceny

When the Supreme Court struck down provisions of DOMA (the Defense of Marriage Act), lost amid all the rejoicing was something else that the SCOTUS had struck down – the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The ability of the Justice Department to strike down state voting laws that were judged to be discriminatory was said to be unnecessary given current conditions.

Of course several Red States with Republican legislatures and governors went right out and proved that the Act was still necessary by enacting voter registration rules that tend to work against minorities but are really discriminatory against those who vote against Republicans. North Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Florida were among states that quickly drove through legislation that required certain types of identification in order to vote, shortened the early voting period and made it difficult for college students to vote. In Texas, for example, the name on the picture ID has to match exactly the name on the voter rolls; this becomes an issue because the state requires that married women have their maiden name listed as a middle name on their drivers’ license; most women are not registered to vote with their maiden names. Thousands of Texas women under current law will be unable to vote or at least have an extremely difficult time in doing so.

North Carolina will only accept state issued identification to vote; college students for example cannot use student IDs as a valid picture ID. Sure, they can always go out and get one but they don’t always have time or transportation in order to get there. I think it’s pretty telling that the states that have enacted the most restrictive voter ID laws are primarily red states and primarily in the South where the most egregious voter discrimination took place prior to the enactment of the 1965 law.

We’re also seeing voter purges taking place – tens of thousands of voters being removed from the rolls for a variety of reasons; some for legitimate reasons but not all. In the most recent election cycle there were reports of people who have never had issues voting before being suddenly informed that they were no longer eligible to vote.

This is outrageous. The party that is so solicitous of 2nd Amendment rights seems to be less sanguine about the basic right of voters to vote. It is literally easier in some places to buy a gun than it is to vote – in Texas, for example, all you need is a photo ID to buy a gun at a gun show. As I mentioned previously, in order to vote there your photo ID name has to exactly match the name on the voter registration rolls. I guess we know which activity Texas politicians find more dangerous.

And honestly, they’re correct. Your vote is the most power that can be wielded in this Republic. Your vote determines who governs, and they determine which laws are passed, repealed or kicked to the curb. Your daily life is deeply determined by how you cast your vote. Think about it; if it weren’t so important, there wouldn’t be so much effort generated in trying to take that right away from people.

There are some politicians who have floated the idea of literacy and civics tests being administered in order for people to vote. Quite frankly, I’m not sure some of our politicians could pass those tests. It sounds good in theory – only let informed voters do the voting – but who determines what constitutes an informed voter? Can you imagine if a board of Tea Party activists devised a test that determined if you could vote or not? I suspect that if any state were foolish enough to pass such a law, the ACLU lawyers would have a field day.

There are those who proclaim that voting isn’t a right but a privilege. I disagree. Voting is a responsibility that each of us needs to take seriously. It is so important that some politicians who realize that they can’t win elections on their platforms are trying to keep enough of us out of the voting booth so that they can continue to remain in power. It is nothing short of petty larceny – and quite frankly those legislators who think that using these methods to keep members of the opposing party out of the voting booth are pathetic losers who don’t have enough confidence in their own message to let it stand on its merits.

The good news is that there are signs that people are getting fed up and angry with these kinds of tactics. These sorts of win-at-any-cost extremists who are hell-bent on pushing their agenda on us whether or not we want it are being seen for what they are and have begun to lose elections. 2014 will be a big determining factor on whether or not we can take back our government from those who have held it hostage. That they think it can happen is why you are seeing these desperation tactics of preventing large groups who would vote against them from exercising their right. See them for what they are and vote in your next election. It’s never been more important than it is now.

Regurgitations

Regurgitations

There is a Peter Gabriel song called “We Do What We’re Told” which seems to pretty much capture our modern society. Considering all the information we have at our fingertips, we seem more inclined to regurgitate things that other people say rather than do the research to find out if we’re being told the truth.

I will cop to being that way myself. I tend to find my information from Rachel Maddow, Mother Jones and other liberal sources. Once in awhile I’ll drop by a conservative website but generally I find the ones that I’ve been steered to so virulent in their diatribes against the President that you wonder if there really is an element of racism to the complaints. I’m quite sure my liberal friends will find a similar elitist bias going on at the sites I tend to visit; if I am being honest, a lot of liberal sites tend to characterize conservatives as redneck anti-intellectuals who are not only uneducated but distrust anyone who went to college. Strictly speaking, that’s not true. While there are certainly some conservatives who fit that description, there are an awful lot of college-educated conservatives who are pretty sharp thinkers. I’ve heard some things even out of Jim Boehner’s mouth that have given me pause for thought.

Which makes the recent Republican strategy all the more incomprehensible. Shutting down the government and risking defaulting on our bills? We are playing with the possibility of creating an economic crisis that will make the 2008 financial meltdown look like a cherry bomb on an atomic testing range. I understand the hatred of the Affordable Care Act; after all, they’ve attempted to repeal the damn thing more than 40 times. However, holding the entire country hostage essentially until the President and Senate Democrats agree to defund it? Did they honestly think that this kind of strategy would be successful?

Polls show that the popularity of the Republican Party right now is lagging just behind having a root canal without Novocain. It is at the lowest that it’s been since polls began to ask about the popularity of specific political parties, roughly about 40 years ago. Mostly it is the work of Tea Party Republicans who in their reactionary zeal have dragged their entire party near to if not over a precipice. Less radical Republicans like Peter King have called for a vote to end the shutdown and give up on this fool’s errand. Even John McCain has stated that Obamacare is the law of the land and that to attempt to defund it would be fruitless.

There are some pretty smart people on the other side of the aisle – not every thinker is a blue state liberal. I get the sense that now that the Republicans have achieved their aim of shutting down the government, they’re not quite sure what to do next. Some of the things coming out of their mouths tell me that they don’t have a real understanding of just how bad things have gotten and how much worse they’re going to get. Some deny that the debt ceiling will have any effect on our economy at all – a point of view nearly every respectable economist disagrees vehemently with. Some are saying that the country is actually better off without so much government and that they haven’t noticed much of a change.

Of course, we have to remember that these are wealthy people who don’t rely on government programs to feed their children. They aren’t members of the military whose family relies on the paychecks and services that the government issues. They aren’t families of soldiers who have made the supreme sacrifice who aren’t receiving death benefits so that they can go collect the remains of their loved ones and arrange for their funerals. Instead, they prefer to lament about the national parks and monuments that are closed because of their own actions and blaming the whole thing on the President.

The last I heard, nobody put a gun to their heads and asked them to shut it all down. As far as I know, they came up with that pointy-headed little idea all by their lonesome. The least they can do is nut up and take ownership of their actions but instead, alarmed by the poll numbers and seeing their strategy backfire, they’re trying to shift blame like the cowardly weasels that they are. They may well have damaged their own party for years to come; certainly if this ship can’t be righted people are going to be much more critical at the ballot box.

It’s time to stop regurgitating the same old party line and do the right thing. At least keep the lights on while intelligent, meaningful debate on the budget goes on. I get that there are some issues which aren’t resolved and I get that there needs to be negotiation. However, it doesn’t need to be done under the barrel of a gun. Our government has lost the ability to govern responsibly; if we can’t trust our elected officials to do that, what the hell is the point in even having a democracy? Why not find some tin can dictator who may be despotic but at least will keep the government running efficiently? Of course I’m exaggerating but our democracy is plainly broken. Fixing it is going to take more than repeating memes that while sounding good in sound bytes do little to fix the fundamental problems that need serious attention from the governing bodies of this nation.

We’re Not in Kansas Anymore

We're Not in Kansas Anymore

One of the iconic lines from The Wizard of Oz occurs when Dorothy first takes a gander at Oz after the twister transports her house into Munchkinland. Holding her dog in her arms, she gasps “I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore, Toto.”

We use that line ourselves from time to time when we find ourselves in a situation or place that is different, bizarre or unsettling. I think the statement is perfect for the American political landscape (although, from a political standpoint, Kansas isn’t in Kansas anymore but more on that later). Our nation has become politically bipolar, fiercely divided upon party lines and completely paralyzed.

Does anybody besides me get the feeling that it has become more important to be right than to find solutions? Part of the problem is that we’ve stopped listening to each other. We’re so sure that we’re right – our opinions buttressed by media pundits like Bill O’Reilly, Bill Maher, Rachel Maddow and Sean Hannity – that even entertaining compromise is like becoming a traitor to our cause.

I’m as guilty of this as anyone else is. It’s no secret that my political leanings bend to the left. It is also no secret that I have several friends who feel more comfortable on the conservative side of things. Some of them I am able to have intelligent conversations about our viewpoints with whereas others are basically all caps shouting matches on Facebook whenever one of us posts a political meme on our walls. I think that’s pretty much true for anybody these days. We all seem hell-bent on convincing others to the righteousness of our cause while at the same time being completely intractable for our own. It’s a recipe for disaster.

That disaster has come to pass. We now have a government that is completely dysfunctional. Both sides seem far more willing to score political points than to actually accomplish anything that might help the majority of the citizens who elected those running our government. Bills that benefit the very rich seem to get quickly and quietly passed.

Sure, there are a few politicians out there who I think are worth something – Elizabeth Warren, for one. Chris Christie for another (I’m willing to give props to anyone who will stand up to their own party in order to help citizens in need regardless of what party that is). Most of them however seem far too concerned with their own self-interest to devote any time or attention to the interests of their constituents.

There are times when I think both sides of the political spectrum are tails being wagged by the extremist whacko dogs on both sides of the aisle. While one side screams “Benghazi!” the other one yells “Racism!” We seem to be paying attention more to sound bites than to actual legislation. Whoever shouts the loudest must be right, I guess.

Remember when Kansas used to be sensible Midwesterners who could be counted upon for stability  (although some Missourians would argue that point) and common sense? Now they are rapidly becoming known for being the home of the Westboro Baptist Church as well as the State that essentially outlawed abortion literally citing the Bible as their legal source. Excuse me? I’ll bet these are the same yahoos screaming about Sharia law during the last election.

Back in the day the term “the Silent Majority” was coined to denote the millions of Americans who neither protested the War nor advocated it; they were if anything on the conservative side but mostly, they just wanted to be left alone to live their lives in peace and really didn’t want their sons marching off to some Asian hellhole just so Bell Helicopters could keep their military contract humming.

Today the Silent Majority still exists but they have seen the advent of the Tea Party and the Christian right, both of whom claim to represent them. I’m here to tell you that they do not. Today’s Silent Majority is a bit more liberal than they were 50 years ago; they’re all for gay marriage and stricter background checks on gun sales but in no way shape or form do they want guns banned. They want the deficit reduced and the budget balanced but they don’t want their entitlements (i.e. Medicare and Social Security) touched.

The Silent Majority is what they’ve always been – moderate. Unfortunately, moderate politicians seem to be about as numerous as wheelchair hockey players and with a future as bright as that of the polar bear. We have gotten to a point in our history where in order to get noticed a political candidate must come off as extremist. Once again, it’s the person who shouts the loudest who gets our attention. I often wonder if someone like Dwight Eisenhower could have been elected president in 2012. I doubt he would have gotten past the first round of Republican debates.

We have entered the era of the whacko. Where wild-eyed Michelle Bachmann and wild-mouthed Rick Perry can provide political satirists with plenty of material for their monologues but provide little in the way of legislation that creates desperately needed jobs, repairs a rapidly deteriorating infrastructure or helps improve our education system. The only education legislation that seems to be going through is that which allows banks to charge higher interest rates on student loans but who is going to pay those loans off when there are no jobs to go to after graduation?

This is our fault. We’ve become too lazy to care enough to actually listen. We’d rather have things boiled down into a six or seven word statement we can get behind and go back to surfing the Internet. How many of us have actually looked at a candidate’s platform? How many of us have listened to an entire speech, or read a piece of legislation? The last of these is understandable; most bills are so convoluted and poorly written that even a well-trained lawyer who understands the legal terminology within has a hard time following what’s being said.

I’m not sure what the solution is but this much I think is clear – things are going to be a lot worse if we don’t get our collective heads out of our collective derrieres. We need to stop shouting at each other and start listening to each other. Most importantly, we have to stop electing extremists on both sides and start getting moderates like Christie and Warren into office. We have to pay attention what the scoundrels in Washington and our own state capitals are doing. And we need to stop holding our politicians up as demagogues and understand that not everything promulgated by the right is evil, not everything that the left proposes is perfect and vice versa depending on your point of view. In other words, we need to start working together. To paraphrase one of our founding fathers, we must all work together or fall separately.

Getting Out of Bed

It’s a given that life is at best a difficult proposition. None of us get through it without getting bloodied in some fashion. All of us have those dark nights of the soul that, when morning comes, leave us exhausted and intimidated. It’s a wonder any of us ever make it out of bed.

In a metaphorical sense, most of us actually haven’t made it out of bed. We’re there with the covers wrapped tightly over our heads, our entire posture telling the world to go away. The world has a habit of not listening to our wishes however as much as we would like it to.

You see, the thing is that we’ve watched our country stolen away from us under our very noses; while we were lounging in our beds, our opportunities have been eroded, our jobs have been sent overseas, our mortgages have been sold to a predatory financial institution who know that finding a way to foreclose is a way to easy money, and our politicians have become policy instruments of big business. All of this has gone on and we still refuse to get out of bed. “I don’t wanna,” we whine like petulant children on a school day, “You go to school, mom!” we shriek.

I grew up in a conservative household and viewed the activism of the ’60s as the work of drugged-out socialists whose agenda was to reward the lazy with government handouts and tax the middle class out of existence. As I grew older, my world view began to change as I realized that not everything my father and those like him told me was entirely correct. I learned to see the activists of that time and later as young people committed to changing the world into a better place, not just for themselves but for their children. The social change that rose from their efforts – civil rights, the women’s movement, environmental protection and the end of the Vietnam War – serves as a proud achievement and a reminder that change can be effected if enough people are willing to stand up for it.

Now we live in an era where complacency is the norm. People sit in front of their computers, their iPads, their television screens and watch the bad news trickle in. They listen to late night comedians joke about political scandals and faux pas. They watch their bosses nervously – those who have jobs at all – and hope they still have one next week.

I have come to admire the Occupy Wall Street movement that has with little fanfare or press coverage made it clear that there are those who are no longer going to stand for big business raping the people of this country. They are serving notice that there are more of us – the ordinary citizens of the United States – than there are of the superwealthy. The arrogance and lack of ethics that plague the American corporate culture at this time – the philosophy that profits are far more important than people and that short term gains outweigh the long-term health of the economy – have been noted and will no longer be tolerated.

In a strange way, I even admire the Tea Party. I disagree with many of their economic ideas, and I believe that some of those ideas have helped lead us into the mess that we’re in. However, the people in it have at least stood up for what they believed and have effected change in this nation. That is to be respected. They may be fighting for ideas that I think are not very bright, but at least they’re fighting for something.

Until recently, the left hasn’t really done that effectively, not since the ’70s anyway. We need to take a good hard look at what is important to us. Do we want a country with a strong, growing economy based on innovation and establishing new technologies?  Do we want a government that protects the rights of its citizens, from the wealthiest to the poorest and does what’s right for the people of the United States ahead of what’s right for the businesses of the United States?

Do we want to leave our children and our children’s children a planet that is protected by responsible, intelligent environmental policies? Do we want out military to act as a defensive deterrent rather than a bully sent out to protect the interests of Big Oil? Do we want the wealthy to pay their fair share of the  tax burden and our government to attack the deficit not just by slashing spending but also by generating additional revenue (which is how most responsible businesses – and individuals – get out of debt)?

Even if you believe differently than I do, it is our responsibility as citizens of this democracy to stand up and participate in it. Not just by voting and putting signs out on our lawns, but in becoming well-informed on the issues rather than relying on sound bites to make our decisions for us. We need to communicate with our elected representatives and express our needs to them and hold them accountable when they aren’t acting in our interests. We need to attend town halls and question those who run our government. All of this requires time and effort – time we sometimes feel we don’t have between working long hours, obligations to our family and friends and all the things that take up our day. Being involved can be a pain in the ass.

But it’s also our responsibility. I’m sure it was a pain in the ass for the generation that lived during the Second World War to go and fight fascism and expansionism, to sacrifice for the good – for the very survival – of our nation. They did it however, and our nation is here today because they did. We don’t have a threat that’s as obvious as the Nazis but we have something far more insidious because it comes from within.

We’ve been asleep far too long and it’s time to kick off the duvet, stretch our limbs and go about our business – the business of protecting our rights and insuring that our children have the same if not better opportunities that we do. How we choose to go about that is entirely up to you – whether you believe in liberal thinking, conservative thinking or something way out in left field – stand for something. Or fall for anything.

Grand Old Hypocrisy

The elections are over and there is no doubt the American electorate has made its voice heard. The truth of it is that the voice of the American electorate has become a whining squeal of self-interest, whipped into a frenzy by Republican and Tea Party claims that a vote for the Democrats is a vote for higher taxes, increased debt and lost jobs. “A vote for the Democrats is a vote for Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama. It is a vote for socialism and Sharia law.”

This past mid-term election was notable for its vitriol and its surfeit of advertising. The Center for Responsive Politics estimates that $858 million was raised by Republican candidates for House and Senate campaign ads, while the Democrats raised $759 million. This doesn’t include State gubernatorial elections or money spent on ballot propositions which were often just as contentious. That means that over $1.6 billion was spent on getting people elected to Congress, and when the whole bill is tallied, that number moves well north of $3 billion.  Now that’s just an estimate and the number could well be higher or lower, but either way that could fund a whole lot of jobs, people.

Politically speaking, I’m a reformed Republican. I supported Reagan back in the day and Bush senior. I felt very strongly that the Republicans reflected middle class values and were the party that looked out for the middle class. The Democrats, on the other hand, I believed were the party of special interests and of sinecures and pork barrels. I got these attitudes basically from my Dad, who was a staunch conservative – he had been an anarchist in his youth and believed that the definition of a good government was a government that stayed out of the people’s lives as much as possible. In many ways, I believe he’s right.

I no longer believe those things. While I don’t have great love for the Democrats, I think the Republicans have changed a great deal. I believe that their entire interest now is not only in keeping the wealth in the hands of the wealthy, but finding ways to increase that wealth, even at the expense of what’s best for the nation. I look at the presidency of George W. Bush and I’m appalled at what he did; the trampling of the Constitution in the name of Homeland Security. Allowing the torture of prisoners in Guantanamo and Abu Gharib. And, lest we forget, the economic meltdown that occurred on his watch – one that came about because of the economic advisors he’d appointed putting their own selfish financial gains at the expense of the country.

What appalls me even more is that Republican advertising has laid the economic meltdown at the feet of President Obama, even though it occurred before he took office. The fiscal bailouts he made, we are told, yielded no results (which is a patent lie – not only did General Motors get back on its feet, it repaid its bailout loan years ahead of schedule), but the Republican blowhards conveniently don’t mention the billions that President Bush authorized for buying distressed mortgage-related assets; approximately $700 billion dollars worth (although nearly half of it wound up going to buying preferred stock in banks instead). This money didn’t create any jobs nor did it stabilize the economy beyond those of the banks who had made reckless loans to begin with. The Obama stimulus plan, so demonized by conservatives, was $825 billion dollars with provisions to create and save jobs, provide social assistance to those impacted by the recession (including providing money for homeowners to renegotiate their mortgage, allowing them to keep their homes) and tax rebates to the general public, which were seen not in a lump sum but over time in weekly paychecks.

For whatever reason, Democrats seemed unwilling to fight back against Republican smear ads who promised that Democratic candidates were “more of the same,” big spending Washington insiders. However, what are the Republicans but more of the same Bush-era sorts who would leave big business to regulate itself – and we all saw how well that worked.

I realize that this is somewhat of a sour grapes kind of blog this time out, but it is really depressing how many people seem more motivated by self-interest rather than in working together to make things better. Now, I know a lot of my friends and readers are conservatives and Republicans and I’m not saying that every conservative Republican is the spawn of Satan – although I suspect that if you looked carefully you might find some cloven feet on Dick Cheney – and I also realize that many Tea Party activists and conservatives are sincere when they say that they feel the best thing for the country is to repeal the Health care bill, lower taxes and eliminate deficit spending.

I don’t have a crystal ball, and I will certainly be the first to say that I may be completely wrong and Sarah Palin is a genius who gets what America needs better than I do. However, I vehemently disagree with her ideas and policies, and I believe that the American greatness lies in its ability to re-invent itself and rise stronger from adversity. However, I also believe that the American greatness lies in its compassion for those who need help, and when I hear candidates trash the Obama health care plan, I can only shake my head in disbelief.

First of all, the health care system needs reform badly. We are allowing medical decisions to be made based on the basis of cost rather than what is best for a patient as determined by their doctor. We have many cases of insurance companies denying treatments to patients that put their lives at risk; by the time the patient is successful in bringing suit against the insurance companies, they often have already died from their disease. There is evidence that doctors employed by insurance companies (as well as non-medical employees) were given financial incentives to deny care. There are far more of those types of stories than there are of Canadians flocking across the border to get care in the U.S. In fact, the Canadian health care system is consistently ranked higher than our own.

However, those that rail about the expense of “Obamacare” rarely have any alternatives to health care reform other than to have things remain as they are. Certainly the insurance companies would like to see that happen. We hear about small businesses being forced to carry health care insurance; the reality is that business that employ less than 50 people will not be affected; only those who employ 50 people or more and quite frankly, when you’re starting to get into that many people working for you, you should be offering health insurance.

There is also the same tired old refrain that the health care plan will bankrupt the country; the truth is that according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office which is as close to being impartial as any agency can be, says that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (the formal name for Obamacare) will actually reduce the deficit by $143 billion over the first decade, then an additional $1.2 trillion over the second. Even if this weren’t the case, wouldn’t you think that helping people in need – sick people in particular – is only the Christian thing to do?

There just seems to be so much hypocrisy in the political debate these days, certainly not all of it on the Republican side but it seems to me that there is more of it on the right than there is on the left. As I said, I bear no love towards the Democrats who have failed in my estimation to deliver on their campaign promises of 2008, who continue to be just as in the pockets of special interests as Republican candidates are in the pockets of big business.

The sad fact of our national disgrace is that our elections are run by big money and only the very rich can afford to run for office, meaning that the ordinary citizen literally has no voice in national government. Both parties are just as much to blame for this state of affairs. We need to take money out of the equation of the election promise and impose term and spending limits as well as limit the ability for businesses, PACs and lobby groups to contribute to campaigns, as well as restrict access to politicians once the campaign is over. If the Tea Party would boldly come out for campaign spending reform, for transparency in the process so that we can see where the money for outside spending in campaigns is coming from, I would be more willing to give them some slack, but these seemingly simple, sensible things are something that conservative Republicans are fighting against. Recently, George Will spoke out against campaign spending reform on ABC News, espousing the donation campaign funds as a form of free speech, wondering “The question is, do you have to notify the government before you can speak on politics?”

Well, yes you do if you have an agenda. Money itself doesn’t speak but the source of the money does. If oil companies are donating millions of dollars for a senate campaign in Louisiana, don’t voters deserve to know that? That’s what I mean by hypocrisy; the unwillingness to conduct your affairs in the light of day, then portray yourself as the white knight charging in to save America. Personally, I’d like to know who’s paying for the armor before that knight rides into battle.