Pro Life: A Political Football for Political Gain

David Cook is a columnist with The Chattanooga Times Free Press.  Recently, he wrote a commentary on the Hamilton County Commission supporting Amendment 1 by resolutionAmendment 1 is a state constitutional amendment banning abortions.

Cook has this to say about the amendment and the pro-life issue:

“If we could swab the decks of our stereotypes, and the Left was able to align itself more with the pro-life movement, a larger space could be cleared for a greater vision of what being pro-life actually means.

We could reclaim and renew the word: pro-life, for all of life.

‘The protection of life is a seamless garment,’ the Catholic pacifist Eileen Egan once said.

A seamless pro-life ethic would argue both for the unborn and for the victims of war. It would seek to end the death penalty and criminal violence. No more rape, no more poverty. It would be boundary-less: a political platform that would include life everywhere, not just the womb.

‘You can’t protect some life and not others,’ Egan said.

If the County Commission is to talk about abortion, it must also talk equally about the landscape that encourages it. Our poverty has become feminized: Two-thirds of our poor households are headed by women, and the infant mortality rate in some neighborhoods rivals that of Third World countries.

Yes, this all may be messy and difficult, but there must be a political maturity and moral high road able to both love and support women and their rights of reproduction while also loving and supporting the dignity of the unborn.

Otherwise, we’re lost in a land of double standards: a state Legislature that wants to regulate abortion but won’t expand Medicaid, or activists (and columnists) that march against the death penalty but not abortion.

‘Nature in everything deserves respect,’ the early feminist Mary Wollstonecraft wrote.

Will I [Cook] vote for the amendment come November?

I can’t yet say, but I do believe this:

I hope to be more pro-life than ever before.” David Cook, Chattanooga Times Free Press

However, voting for an amendment banning abortions has nothing to do with being pro-life.  If the pro-life movement were honest it would act as Cook suggests expanding Medicaid, banning the death penalty, and by earnestly starting a war on poverty.  However, if we are honest we recognize that this amendment invades on women’s rights, their right to make a choice consulting with their families, their doctors and their god (if they choose to believe). Therefore, we as voters should vote the amendment down, repudiating a conservative big government’s unreasonable intrusion into our lives.

This Amendment is about conservatives pushing their brand of morality, nothing more.

Who wants a bunch politicians preaching to us about morality or expanding government to suit their moral beliefs? In thinking about the answer all we have to do is think about the morality of politicians like Scott DesJarlais and Mark Sanford.


Can We Level the Playing Field in A Citizens United World?

“You take the limits off and say, ‘You can spend as much as you want,’ and people will spend and spend,” she said. “People are appalled abroad. It’s a question I get asked all the time: Why should elections be determined by how much a candidate can spend and why should candidates spend most of their time these days raising the funds so that they will prevail in the next election?” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg

Citizen’s United allows the big donors to throw their weight around, buying candidates, elections and influence.  This is all done in the name of free speech.

The question is how is this big money influence going to be diminished? 

"[The Democrats] surprising [2014] financial advantage, which has some leading Republicans nervous, is a state of affairs that would have been unthinkable during the 2010 midterms or even the 2012 election. Democrats were badly beaten in those cycles’ outside-spending derbies by rich conservatives.

Democratic megadonors and operatives attribute their big-money surge to a realization that they couldn’t compete without embracing the new environment, but they assert it’s inaccurate to suggest they’re ahead.

That’s because conservatives have a much more robust collection of big-money groups that do not reveal their donors or regularly disclose their finances and, as such, are not reflected in fundraising tallies gleaned from FEC filings. The deepest-pocketed such group, the Koch brothers-backed Americans for Prosperity, intends to spend $125 million in 2014 and has already dropped $50 million on advertising — more than the $31 million spent so far by the biggest Democratic group, Senate Majority PAC.

But the fact that Democrats are even in the same league is notable. They initially sat on the sidelines clucking their tongues when federal court decisions loosened or struck down campaign finance rules as unconstitutional infringements on free speech, creating a new unregulated big-money political landscape that conservatives dominated.” Read more: Politico

Maybe the Democrats should come clean and admit they are playing the Citizens United game.  Maybe it is time to level the playing field by using everything from 1 dollar donations to million dollar donations standing up for the issues that matter to America? Maybe it is time to stand up for ourselves by donating to groups willing to fight for what is right, not what is politically advantageous?

There is no doubt that Citizens United is causing harm to our political system.  However, knowing how to operate in a Citizens United world may level the playing field. 

It is time to talk issues, communicate ideas and to elect responsible individuals to represent us as voting citizens.  It is time to learn to live in a Citizens United world while insuring our great republic remains in the hands of the people…

where it belongs.


The Moderate Majority

There is a feeling out there that we are polarized, that we are becoming more extreme.

Is it really Democrat or Republican, Liberal or Conservative, Blue or Red?

…or is there a silent moderate majority that may lean slightly to the left or slightly to the right? 

The Pew Research Center recently released a report describing two decades of change in American public opinion…Although the report bears the title “Political Polarization in the American Public,” this is an inaccurate characterization of the findings. In common parlance polarization connotes a movement away from the center toward both extremes. This has not happened in the United States. If one thinks about polarization in partisan terms, one would expect to see an increase in the proportions of Democrats and Republicans and a decrease in the proportion of independents. But the American National Election Studies report that the distribution of American partisanship has been constant since the reelection of Ronald Reagan in 1984. Gallup had the proportion of independents at an all-time high in 2013.

If one thinks about polarization in ideological terms, one would expect to see a decline in moderates and an increase in liberals and conservatives. But the General Social Survey reports that the distribution of ideology in the United State has been stable since the early 1970s. With occasional small exceptions, “moderate” remains the modal category today just as it was in the days of Jimmy Carter. The Washington Post

Therefore, a perception persists that we are more partisan, that we are polarized as a nation.  The consistent blue vs. red discussions promoted by pundits contributes to this perception.  The perception is further caused by the constant partisan bickering between the two parties in Washington DC.

We are the victims of partisan politics not the willing participants in partisan politics.  The Washington DC climate shows that the elected representatives are out of touch with the majority of Americans.  With Congressional approval ratings at all time lows there appears to be a strong disconnect.

Maybe it is time to put a stop to the red vs. blue mentality.  Maybe it is time for the moderate majority to stand up and be heard…


Taking a .357 and Shooting Yourself in The Foot

There are one issue voters.  These voters vote on issues like abortion, partisan affiliation, global warming and climate change. 

There are several high rolling Democrats who are refusing to give Democratic candidates money because they will not say more about climate change issues.  The donations in several close races could make a difference.

Instead of fighting for a majority and control of the Senate (or the House for that matter) these donors refuse to give because they are unhappy about the climate change issue.

These high rollers would rather see the opposition win.

Six years ago President Obama told “Americans that if they work together, they will look back on that night as ‘the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.’

More than six years later, the oceans have continued their rise and the planet is ever warmer. Environmentalists say the Obama administration has not pushed as hard as the candidate pledged to, abetted in part by a number of red-state Democrats who see no electoral advantage in placating Greenies.

And now some Democratic fundraisers who have combined to send tens of millions of dollars the party’s way say that unless Democratic candidates for office get serious about climate change, they can expect no more money.

‘I just can’t give people a bye,’ said Marc Weiss, a New York-based tech entrepreneur who has given tens of thousands of dollars to Democratic candidates in recent years and who has been organizing his fellow fundraisers not to give to any candidates who don’t make addressing climate change a central campaign talking point. That has meant telling candidates he has donated to in the past that from now on, unless they change their rhetoric, they had better dial for dollars elsewhere.

‘This has to be one of the issues that gets debated,’ he said. ‘People that are on the wrong side of history need to be held accountable.’” The Daily Beast

Accountability is one thing.  Refusing to give to candidates who think progressively on the issues is another.  This approach to refusing to donate based on one issue is like taking a .357 magnum and shooting yourself in the foot.

These Democratic donors need to imagine a Congress full of conservatives.  What will happen to the global warming and climate change issues then?


Ebola May Be More of A Threat Than ISIS

The President is putting troops on the ground in the fight against Ebola. These troops will be on the front line helping to put a stop to the spread of this deadly virus.

This prompte us to ask, is Ebola more of a threat than ISIS?

The deadliest Ebola outbreak in recorded history is happening right now. The outbreak is unprecedented both in the number of people who have gotten sick and in geographic scope. And so far, it’s been a long battle that doesn’t appear to be slowing down.

The Ebola virus has now hit five countries: Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, and Senegal.

The virus — which starts off with flu-like symptoms and sometimes ends with bleeding — has infected about 3,700 people and killed more than 1,800 since this winter, according to estimates on September 4 from the World Health Organization.

Ebola is both rare and very deadly. Since the first outbreak in 1976, Ebola viruses have infected thousands of people and killed roughly 60 percent of them. Symptoms can come on quickly and kill fast.

Journalist David Quammen put it well in a recent New York Times op-ed: “Ebola is more inimical to humans than perhaps any known virus on Earth, except rabies and HIV-1. And it does its damage much faster than either.” Vox


Amendment 1—GOP Wants Big Government

When is it ok to expand government power?  According to the GOP more government power on abortion issues the better. Therefore, thanks to the GOP big government power grab Tennesseans are voting this November on the following amendment:

Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion. The people retain the right through their elected state representatives and state senators to enact, amend, or repeal statutes regarding abortion, including circumstances of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest or when necessary to save the life of the mother.

Big government with big government power is ok on issues near and dear to the GOP’s heart. 

Some have described the amendment as follows:

“There is an amendment on the November ballot of which most Tennessee voters are totally unaware.  If Amendment 1 passes in November, legislators will suddenly have unlimited power to vote on legislation to heavily restrict or ban safe and legal abortions in Tennessee. The language of the amendment states that there are NO EXCEPTIONS for the health of the mother, or in cases of rape and incest. “

Regardless how voters feel about abortion, this Amendment greatly expands the power of government.  This amendment is a prime example of a concerted effort by GOP members to expand their influence through bigger government on issues of GOP concern. 

The power of government should be limited, not unnecessarily expanded to suit the needs of one political party or another.


Court Names “A Vigilant Defender of Tennessee’s Conservative Reforms” as Attorney General

The headline reads “Herb Slatery named Tennessee Attorney General.” The article reads:

"The decision comes on the heels of an unsuccessful effort to unseat [Democratic] [Chief Justice] Lee and [Democratic] Justices Cornelia Clark and Gary Wade in the Aug. 7 retention election.

Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey’s political action committee funded most of that effort with $425,000 in donations, campaign finance records show. He and other Republican lawmakers were critical of [current Attorney General] Cooper because he refused to join other states’ attorneys general in a challenge of the Affordable Care Act.

‘As the first Republican attorney general in Tennessee history, Herbert Slatery will be a strong advocate for the people of Tennessee and a vigilant defender of Tennessee’s conservative reforms,’ Ramsey wrote on Facebook.”

Did the Republican effort to oust the three Democrats on the Tennessee Supreme Court actually succeed? Did the court, realizing that it is susceptible to political attacks from the right, choose an attorney general to quiet the likes of Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey? Did the Court act out of fear that Republicans could hang Obamacare around their neck because Attorney General Bob Cooper (who sought another term from the court) did not legally challenge Obamacare?

Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey and conservative Republicans failed in their effort to oust the three Democratic justices who constitute the majority on the court. It appears, however, their actions have a long-lasting impact on the Court and how it will react to outside political pressures. In this case, it appears that Ramsey and his forces have achieved a limited victory-taking political action against Democrats that influences later decisions.

The Republicans are now happy, they have an attorney general who will be a “vigilant defender of Tennessee’s conservative reforms.”


Building Legacy, Obama Reshapes Appellate Bench

Presidents can leave a long term historical mark on American society, a mark far outlasting their term as President. How a President leaves this historical mark is often unnoticed or overlooked—it happens by making judicial appointments.

Obama’s appointments to the Court of Appeals will leave an indelible and historical mark…one that will impact American society for years to come.

Democrats have reversed the partisan imbalance on the federal appeals courts that long favored conservatives, a little-noticed shift with far-reaching consequences for the law and President Obama’s legacy.

For the first time in more than a decade, judges appointed by Democratic presidents considerably outnumber judges appointed by Republican presidents. The Democrats’ advantage has only grown since late last year when they stripped Republicans of their ability to filibuster the president’s nominees.

Democratic appointees who hear cases full time now hold a majority of seats on nine of the 13 United States Courts of Appeals. When Mr. Obama took office, only one of those courts had more full-time judges nominated by a Democrat.

The shift, one of the most significant but unheralded accomplishments of the Obama era, is likely to have ramifications for how the courts decide the legality of some of the president’s most controversial actions on health care, immigration and clean air. Since today’s Congress has been a graveyard for legislative accomplishment, these judicial confirmations are likely to be among its most enduring acts. Read more at The New York Times.

Obama’s legacy will have a long life through the key appointments he made on the judiciary.  

SARAH PALIN: ‘I Owe America A Global Apology’

Former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin said she owes America “a global apology” for her and John McCain’s 2008 loss in the presidential race against then-Sen. Barack Obama.

In an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity which aired after President Obama announced his four-part strategy to fight against ISIS militants in Iraq and Syria, Palin said as she watched the speech “the thought going through my mind is ‘I owe America a global apology.’ Because John McCain, through all of this, John McCain should be our president.” Read more at Business Insider

Somehow Palin, who is (once again) misguided, does not think the President is taking the ISIS issue seriously. Palin’s statement is another example of why we are happy she is not the Vice President—McCain Palin would take irresponsible steps based on political motivations not the facts.

Maybe, before making her apologies Palin needs to read up on ISIS and its goals.  Moreover, ISIS isn’t even strong enough to topple the Iraqi or Syrian governments at present. Therefore, Palin needs to stop apologizing and start reading…

A little education takes you a long way.


It’s disgusting, and it’s still about race: Southern Republicans simply don’t want minorities to vote

Voter ID laws are designed to supress the vote.  It is part of a larger strategy to keep voters from the polls.  This article from Salon reveals additional facts about the GOP strategy to win.  

"Sometimes conservative politicians, particularly those who hail from the South, accidentally forget to dog-whistle and they say what’s really on their minds. It’s always revealing.

Take the Georgia secretary of state, for instance, who just this week gave a speech about voting “integrity” and told his Republican audience, “the Democrats are working hard, and all these stories about them, you know, registering all these minority voters that are out there and others that are sitting on the sidelines, if they can do that, they can win these elections in November.” That was actually a rare slip-up in an otherwise pretty slick speech where he obliquely referred to ACORN and its alleged misdeeds and bragged about how the state is making it really complicated to register online so as to root out (nonexistent) voter fraud, wink, wink. (That last seems like a dubious strategy for a party that is dependent on elderly, rural white voters …)

But after you isolate all the clever obfuscation, you see that he is simply saying that Democrats are registering too many racial minorities and that will inevitably hurt the ball team. This is, of course, an old story that goes back to Reconstruction. In those days the Southern conservatives all gathered in the Democratic Party, but any party with which those particular folks identify gets upset at the prospect of racial minorities voting. Such things as “citizenship tests” and poll taxes are no longer available to them so they have to rely on subtler ways to ensure that this group of citizens are kept from voting their interests.” Read more at Salon.