Aug 242014
 

I can’t honestly say that I’m happy with everything Barack Obama has done as President.  I’m not angry, because both times that I voted for him, I knew I was voting for a centrist, even though I would rather have voted for a progressive, but I also knew that the only electable alternatives would have brought with them the end of representative government.  Even though they hold only one branch of the federal government, they are still using every lie, trick and theft they can muster in attempts to insert themselves into every position of power and between every woman’s legs.  At least with respect to the latter, he is fighting back.

Republicans-in-your-vaginaFor most of the last year, the Supreme Court has forced the Obama Administration into an elaborate dance, where the Court hands down orders casting doubt upon the administration’s efforts to ensure that all women have access to affordable birth control — while simultaneously implying that everything would be fine if the administration just designed their birth control policy a different way. Friday, the administration is expected to announce a new policy that appears designed to end this dance and force the justices to rule definitively [Faux Print delinked] on whether employers with religious objections to birth control effectively have the power to restrict their employees’ access to birth control coverage, no matter how the government structures its regulations.

Up until now, the administration’s rules treated non-profit and for-profit employers as separate entities. Religious non-profits who object to birth control could exempt themselves from the requirement to offer contraceptive care to their employees by filling out a specific form that informs the government of their objection, and sending a copy of the form to their insurance provider or administrator. In most cases, once the non-profit employer submitted this form, their insurer would then contract separately with their workers to ensure that those workers had contraceptive coverage. These non-profit rules spawned one round of litigation brought by religious non-profit organizations which claim that even being required to fill out a short form violates their religious liberty.

Meanwhile, for-profit employees were required to comply with their legal obligations to their employees. Prior to the Supreme Court’s June decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, which significantly reworked the balance of power between employers and employees, the law was clear that for-profit businesses could not invoke their owners’ religious beliefs to exempt themselves from their legal obligations to their workers. “When followers of a particular sect enter into commercial activity as a matter of choice,” the Court held in its 1982 decision in United States v. Lee, “the limits they accept on their own conduct as a matter of conscience and faith are not to be superimposed on the statutory schemes which are binding on others in that activity.” Hobby Lobby, of course, was the culmination of a second round of litigation brought by for-profit employers whose owners have religious objections to birth control. And it effectively eliminated the protections Lee extended to workers, at least with respect to federal law….

…In any event, however, the Obama Administration’s new rules will likely put an end to the Supreme Court’s ability to move the goalposts every time someone raises a new objection to the administration’s policy. The administration has now crafted its rules to comply almost to the letter with the requirements suggested by previous Supreme Court opinions. Now, the rest of the country will have to wait to find out whether Hobby Lobby actually permits this latest set of rules — or whether the language in that decision leading the Obama Administration in this direction will simply end with Lucy pulling away the football one more time…

Inserted from <Think Progress>

Click through for how the five Injustices SCROTUS (Republican Constitutional VD) have resorted to trickery to violate the Constitution while blaming their First Amendment violations on regulations.  It is my hope that Roberts will flip in an attempt to preserve the legacy of the Court,not that Obama is denying him regulations as an excuse.  Make sure to prevent any more Republican appointments to the court until children ask, “What’s a Republican?”, and nobody remembers.

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Aug 152014
 

I’m writing for tomorrow, day 116.  It’ s humid sticky day, but one on which I can catch up on a little rest.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 3:16 (average 5:27).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From Upworthy: According to these two singers, Maddie and Tae, they were sitting around in their studio one day, listening to country by their favorite male artists, and they realized a few issues with how women were being treated in them. So they wrote a song about it. Take a look at the great video below.

 

OMG!! Bubba in a Bagger Butt Bikini!! Disappointed smile

From Daily Kos: It is open season on President Obama. He is a weak president. He is too cautious, they say. Even Hillary Clinton has jumped on the bandwagon.

 

As always, the Republican Reich is trying to blame Obama for what they did.

From BBC: The US says it is unlikely to launch a mission to save Iraqis fleeing Islamist fighters on Mt Sinjar as there are fewer people there than expected.

On Wednesday, the UN said tens of thousands from the Yazidi religious minority were on the run from fighters from the militant group, Islamic State, who have threatened to exterminate them.

But US Special Forces who carried out a reconnaissance mission to the mountain say the number is not as high as previously thought.

It’s nice to learn good news from the region for a change.

Cartoon:

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Jul 202014
 

I’m writing for tomorrow, day 90.  I’m still quite sore.  I have exercises to do between times, but the walking between home and bus stops and office total over a mile, in addition to the workout, stresses the same muscle groups.  No pain no gain, and I must be gaining plenty.  I will be AWOL much of this week,. because Tuesday and Thursday are both prison volunteer days.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 2:35 (average 4:19).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From The New Yorker: Testing the political waters in Iowa today, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said that if he is elected President, he would bring the flow of illegal immigrants over the U.S.-Mexico border to a virtual standstill.

“There are ways of keeping people from getting to where they want to go,” Christie said, claiming that he was the only Republican hopeful with the hands-on experience necessary to fix the border crisis.

The New Jersey governor was vague about how he would halt traffic over the border, but exuded confidence that he was the right man for the job.

I’m sure PIGnocchio would not care any more for the people who die in that scenario than he does for the ones he killed on the off-ramp from the GW bridge.

From Daily Kos: Hmmm….

KELLY: OK. The controversy there is that some women abused that when it was allowed and would get a doctor to say, yes, her health requires a late term abortion. And then this happened in the case of Dr. Tiller, who wound up murdered, that he was providing late term abortions based on health concerns, when you had a viable fetus, a baby, growing in the third trimester. And no one really wants to return to those days, Patricia, do they?

Well I must admit this is the first time I have heard this reasoning.

You have to really have a twisted mind to come up with this type of perverted logic.

Translation:

Women who have late term abortions for health reasons endanger the lives of their physician, and if they keep doing it then that can only result in one thing. More dead physicians. Now you don’t want their blood on your hands, now do you?

Here’s the voting rights version. Black people should not be allowed to vote, because, when they first began trying to exercise that right, racists murdered civil rights activists, and no one really wants to return to those days, do they? Talk about caving-in to criminal demands!!

From YouTube: Bill Maher Rails Against Militarized Police Culture in Outstanding Monologue

 

He wasn’t as funny as usual, but he sure was spot on.

Cartoon:

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Jul 092014
 

One of the things that make the Holly Lobby decision so frustrating is that there appeared to be little the left can do in the short term.  Boycotting Hobby Lobby is great, and I fully support all who do so, but in truth, shopping in one of their stores is something I would never have done anyway.  On the other hand, we can put a dent in the finances of Eden foods, because so many activists are also into organic foods.  They certainly deserve it.

0709Eden

Yesterday on my public Facebook page, I began following the story of Eden Foods (this is a good place to start), an organic food company whose products are beloved by many friends, especially my vegetarian and vegan friends (they make beans and soy milk, among other products).

In 2013, the company and their chairman and sole shareholder, Michael Potter, sued the federal government for the right to deny contraceptive coverage to their employees. Here’s the court filing.

The plaintiffs, Eden Foods, Inc., and Michael Potter, appeal from a denial of their request for a preliminary injunction that would forbid federal agencies from enforcing that mandate against them. They contend that offering such contraceptive services to the employees of Eden Foods would substantially burden the plaintiffs’€™ religious beliefs.

Potter refers to contraceptives as "lifestyle drugs. [pseudo-Christians delinked]" He has compared buying birth-control pills to Jack Daniels. He believes that "Obama’s in your bedroom" and that he a defender of freedom, and has also characterized Obama as a dictator. Moreover, he actually can’t identify which religious principle in particular leads him to object to providing birth control.

Two things interest me here. First, I have my doubts whether an organic food company can survive a boycott from progressives. Whole Foods has managed to be an anti-union corporation with CEO who likes to go on Obama-is-a-fascist rants (speaking as a historian, this is not what fascism looks like) and yet still thrive. I rarely shop there, but they seem to do alright, in part by providing the only option for high-quality insanely-expensive fancy foods in many area. Eden Foods has to compete with other, less offensive (in public anyway. EDIT: I assume few CEOs share my values), brands.

Second, I am always interested in the way that white wealthy Christians present themselves as victims (my public writing is coordinated under the general heading of "language, power, and privilege."). There is power in simultaneously claiming righteous might while also under assault by powerful and nefarious forces. It’s an old rhetorical move and remains widely spread among the American Christian right (see my CNN.com piece on Sarah Palin at the NRA). In response to the outrage at their position, Eden Foods has gone on the defensive-offense… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <Daily Kos>

In a separate article, Daily Kos has a petition to the CEO of Eden Foods.  It threatens a boycott, so it’s certainly worth signing.  But this isn’t the first time this company has ventured into the arena of Republican Supply-side pseudo-Christian attempts to violated the rights of others to impose their own dogma.  I went to their own store locator and found six local businesses that carry their products.  I called them and have spoken with the managers of five.  One knew about this, and said the owners are making a decision on whether to stop selling Eden.  The other four did not even know about Eden’s involvement.  Two did not care, one said he would discuss the matter with the owners, and one was very angry that Eden would do such a thing.  She said that, if the owners would not pull Eden’s plug, she would advise her customers to choose different brands.

That’s what one tired old man can do.  Imagine what thousands of really pissed-off women could accomplish.

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Jul 052014
 

I’m writing for tomorrow, day 75, and it occurred to me that, since most folks in the country get a holiday, I ought to as well, since it’s a slow news day, I’m tired, and preparing my holiday feast took three hours of cooking and prep, so this article is all I have.  The rest of the weekend depends on the availability of content.  Please be safe.

Late (early) update:

I just woke up.  I slept through the fireworks.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 3:59 (average 6:11).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From Upworthy: Kinda like a really scary jigsaw puzzle … oh, and the Congress Critters in the districts that make up those shaded areas? Yeah, they don’t want folks to see this map. Hint, hint.

0705USRO-low-wage

That high area in eastern Oregon is the sparsely populated Republican part of the state. Politically and culturally, it’s more like Idaho.

From The New Yorker: A new poll released Wednesday revealed that people rank President Barack Obama as the worst President since the Second World War, and also blame him for starting the Second World War.

While the respondents slammed the President for his handling of the economy, Iraq, and a host of other issues, his perceived role as the primary cause of the Second World War was the biggest drag on his numbers.

Even more troubling, when compared to the three leaders of the Axis powers during that war, President Obama polled at the bottom of the list, finishing far behind Emperor Hirohito of Japan.

LOL Andy. It may be accurate! If so, do I have to tell what TV channel those polled used to get their news?  (the real poll was demographically skewed).

From NY Times: In a decision that drew an unusually fierce dissent from the three female justices, the Supreme Court sided Thursday with religiously affiliated nonprofit groups in a clash between religious freedom and women’s rights.

The decision temporarily exempts a Christian college from part of the regulations that provide contraception coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

The court’s order was brief, provisional and unsigned, but it drew a furious reaction from the three female members, Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan. The order, Justice Sotomayor wrote, was at odds with the 5-to-4 decision on Monday in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, which involved for-profit corporations.

“Those who are bound by our decisions usually believe they can take us at our word,” Justice Sotomayor wrote. “Not so today.”

The court’s action, she added, even “undermines confidence in this institution.”

Monday’s decision and the order on Thursday were dual blows to the Obama administration’s efforts to provide contraception coverage, said Walter Dellinger, who was acting United States solicitor general in the Clinton administration.

This order, unsigned demonstrating their cowardice, directly contradicts part of the Hobby Lobby decision that the ruling applied only to closely held, for profit corporations. Wheaton College is neither. I promised you a slippery slope was ahead. The slide has started. For a better understanding, click through and read the entire article.

Cartoon:

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Jul 042014
 

I have read Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s dissent to the ruling in Hobby Lobby by the Fascist Five Injustices of SCROTUS (Republican Constitutional VD).  I recommend that you read it too (link follows).  As an easier reference found an article with an excellent summary of ten key points.

0704ginsburgRuth Bader Ginsburg wrote a scathing 35-page dissent in the disastrous 5-4 Supreme Court decision Monday granting corporations First Amendment religious rights to deny women birth control coverage. The court had ventured far out in to unprecedented territory by granting private companies the right to be exempt from laws their owners don’t agree with. Crazy! In their zeal to deny women access to reproductive healthcare, expand the rights of corporations and hurt Obamacare, "The court," she wrote, "has ventured into a minefield." 

Sadly, her clear-eyed reasoning did not sway the Court’s five arch conservatives, but it is worth reading her dissent here (starts on page 60.)

For those in a bigger hurry, here are highlights:

1. "Would the exemption…extend to employers with religiously grounded objections to blood transfusions (Jehovah’s Witnesses); antidepressants (Scientologists); medications derived from pigs, including anesthesia, intravenous fluids, and pills coated with gelatin (certain Muslims, Jews, and Hindus); and vaccinations[?]…Not much help there for the lower courts bound by today’s decision."

2. "Approving some religious claims while deeming others unworthy of accommodation could be ‘perceived as favoring one religion over another,’ the very ‘risk the [Constitution's] Establishment Clause was designed to preclude."

3. "Religious organizations exist to foster the interests of persons subscribing to the same religious faith. Not so of for-profit corporations. Workers who sustain the operations of those corporations commonly are not drawn from one religious community." … [emphasis added]

Inserted from <Alternet>

I have shared three to the articles ten highlights.  Click through for the other seven.  I not only agree with Ginsberg in sll ten highlights, but also with her entire dissent.

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Jul 012014
 

In 1982, Clarence “Teabag” Thomas, began an extensive, persistent and unwanted effort to get between Anita Hill’s legs.  He failed, but in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, he and the other four fascist Injustices of SCROTUS (Republican Constitutional VD) succeeded in placing themselves between the legs of millions of women.  The Republican effort  to do this has been even more extensive, persistent and unwanted.  At the came time they set an unconstitutional precedent by saying a corporation can have a religion, and that the beliefs of that corporation may be imposed on employees who do not share them.

0701HollyLobby

A divided Supreme Court ruled 5-4 on Monday that closely held corporations cannot be required to provide contraception coverage for their employees.

In an opinion authored by Justice Samuel Alito, the court ruled in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores and Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Burwell that the Obama administration has failed to show that the contraception mandate contained in the Affordable Care Act is the "least restrictive means of advancing its interest" in providing birth control at no cost to women.

"Any suggestion that for-profit corporations are incapable of exercising religion because their purpose is simply to make money flies in the face of modern corporate law," Alito wrote, adding that by requiring religious corporations to cover contraception, "the HHS mandate demands that they engage in conduct that seriously violates their religious beliefs."

The Affordable Care Act contains a provision requiring most employers to cover the full range of contraception in their health care plans at no cost to their female employees. The Obama administration had granted an exemption for churches and accommodations for religious hospitals, schools and nonprofits, but for-profit companies were required to comply with the coverage rule or pay fines.

Hobby Lobby, a Christian-owned craft supply chain store, and Conestoga Wood Specialties Store, a Pennsylvania wood manufacturer owned by a family of Mennonites, challenged the contraception mandate on the grounds that it violates their religious freedom by requiring them to pay for methods of contraception they find morally objectionable. The owners of those companies believe some forms of birth control — emergency contraception and intrauterine devices — are forms of abortion because they could prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus.

Monday’s opinion was written narrowly so as only to apply to the contraception mandate, not to religious employers who object to other medical services, like blood transfusions or vaccines.

Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg filed a dissenting opinion joined by Justice Sonia Sotomayor and mostly joined by Justices Elena Kagan and Stephen Breyer. Ginsburg warned in her dissent that the decision was not as narrow as it claimed to be. "In a decision of startling breadth, the Court holds that commercial enterprises, including corporations, along with partnerships and sole proprietorships, can opt out of any law (saving only tax laws) they judge incompatible with their sincerely held religious beliefs," Ginsburg wrote.

Ginsburg argued that the government has a "compelling interest" in providing no-cost birth control to women. "Those interests are concrete, specific, and demonstrated by a wealth of empirical evidence," she wrote. "To recapitulate, the mandated contraception coverage enables women to avoid the health problems unintended pregnancies may visit on them and their children."… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <NY Times>

I did find some video coverage that was better than what I expected so early.

The Republicans won this battle in their War on Women.  Women can win the war with their votes.  I’m sure I’ll have more on this later this week.

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