Faulty Airbags Symptom of Larger Issue

December 8, 2014

Exploding airbags, spontaneous combustion, unresponsive brakes and ignition key failures. What’s next? These are only a few of the many dangerous risks that are facing millions of drivers every day in this country.

About a month ago, a young woman died in a traffic accident. The police thought she had been violently stabbed beforehand, perhaps causing the accident, but no. It turns out that the horrible stab wounds were actually caused by “shrapnel” that flew into her body because of a faulty airbag.

Now, 7.9 million cars have been recalled for “faulty” airbags. This is in addition to GM’s 26 million recalled vehicles. There have been at least 35 recalls announced by auto manufacturers in the last month alone.

Why are manufacturers able to get away with cutting corners and risking the lives of millions of people? Well, for one, did you know that the Michigan Republican legislature immunized drug manufacturers? That’s right, immunized! Michigan citizens are the only ones who cannot sue if a drug manufacturer kills or injures you.

Don’t you feel safer?

Republicans also made it virtually impossible to sue all other manufacturers, including auto. That’s why you never see or hear of a verdict in Michigan for a defective product – like Jeep rollovers, etc.

Feel safer?

These manufacturers can only get away with it if the people are sheep, following along and allowing them to do whatever they want.

It’s time for a little Fieger Time rabble rousing if you ask me.

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Equal Pay

April 14, 2014

You couldn’t ask for a clearer contrast between the “family values” of Republicans and those of the Democrats. The vote on equal pay for women was blocked by Republicans — every single Republican voted against it. Terri Lynn Land, the GOP candidate for U.S. Senate to replace Carl Levin, chimed in with agreement with her fellow Republicans that women aren’t really interested in getting paid the same for the same work. You would think that a woman might have a hard time justifying a policy to allow discrimination against women, but apparently not a Republican woman.

As a father of two boys and a girl, I can’t imagine advocating a policy that punishes my daughter just because she is a girl. I wonder how ANY woman could remain a Republican after such a disgraceful vote. However, I can’t honestly discern if Republicans are conducting an ideological war against women, or if the issue is simply one where all Republican policies are subservient to protecting corporate America. 

Sure, Republicans have been the party to deny the right of women to choose what happens to their own bodies. The party of “small government” has proposed all kinds of government intrusions into the personal lives and bodies of women — even to the point of mandating government vaginal exams of pregnant women, and prohibiting reimbursement for contraceptives. The refusal to support equal pay for women might seem to be another extension of their “war on women.” But when you look at the big picture, the issue is less about discriminating against women as it is about protecting corporations. More than anything else, Republicans are all about protecting the profits of corporations and billionaires. Five Supreme Court Justices are possibly the only five people in the world who don’t understand the role of money in politics and power. The Ryan Budget just passed by the House of Representatives is essentially the declaration of GOP policy: take from the poor and give to the rich. 

The defeat of the equal pay law should be a warning to every American, female or male, that the agenda of the Republican Party is to turn the U.S. into a Third World economy where impoverished workers serve the goal of corporate profits. Resisting raising the minimum wage, equal pay, blocking unemployment benefits, Tort Reform … asking how any given law will affect corporate profits can explain 99 percent of all Republican policy. The Ryan Budget declares it loud and clear. In that sense, I suppose, the Republicans can legitimately argue that they are not prejudiced in favor of either gender: both should face equal injustice. 

 


Supreme What?

April 1, 2014

The U.S. Supreme Court is taking up the case of a company owned by “religious” people who claim that being forced to provide birth control as part of standard medical coverage is violating their company’s “religious rights.” There is a lot at stake in the outcome, not just for “Obamacare.” At the root of the issue is whether or not corporations have the right to practice religion and therefore be exempt from, well, from virtually any employment law. It is the same insane line of rationalization that was the basis for the disastrous “Citizen’s United” ruling. Based on reports of the oral arguments, the predictable has prevailed: women justices have had to not only examine the litigants, but also had to school the male justices on what contraception is and how they work. Also predictable was Justice Scalia, who never fails to hide his biases or hypocrisy. 

Even though Justice Scalia formerly wrote a key decision on a case not allowing American Indians to practice ritual use of peyote saying their religious rights did not trump the law, he now indicates that he is willing to ignore his own precedent and allow corporations to practice religion — meaning forcing employees to accept their religious beliefs. The women justices, having educated their male counterparts on the medical uses and mechanism of contraceptives, went on to point out that various religions ban many essential medical procedures, such as transfusions, and questioned the obvious absurdity of how a non-living thing such as a corporation can “practice religion.” Some religious beliefs prohibit integration of races. In fact, there have been volumes written about absurd and unhealthy religious beliefs. 

Even with precedents and common sense on the side of ruling against a corporation’s right to impose religion on employees, it appears to be a close call. After all, Alito, Thomas, Scalia and Roberts have never hesitated to ignore precedent or common sense to meet their ideological agenda. Do we have a Supreme Court or a Supreme Fraud? We shall see soon enough.  

 


Planes, Trains and Impassable Roads

March 25, 2014

Anyone who travels on Michigan roads knows that many of them are virtually impassable without using extraordinary vigilance and Formula One-level steering ability. Major surface streets, such as Telegraph Road and Woodward Avenue have innumerable potholes, with many of them more than a foot deep. Maybe, just maybe, we can see the light at the end of the wheel-bending tunnel.

Now that Republican lawmakers in Lansing are finished with the important business of passing laws like requiring citizens to fly American flags only made in the U.S., they seem ready to act on Gov. Snyder’s pleas to fund road repairs at a meaningful level. I can only guess that the roads near Grand Rapids are just as bad and that the insurance companies are writing too many checks for damaged cars as the precipitant, but better a good change for bad reasons than not at all.

One potential pothole to funding road repairs is that the budget surplus of nearly $1 billion is not nearly enough to repair all roads and bridges. It would take nearly $10 billion to do the job, an estimate nearly everyone agrees is accurate. For once, Republicans are forced to admit that an essential government function (i.e. infrastructure) requires taxation. They have ignored the need for more taxes to fund road repairs so long that the roads are becoming impassable. Funding for public transportation is out of the question for Republicans as an alternative. So they have to raise a tax.

It would make sense to make high-volume, heavy vehicle corporate users and more taxation of upper level incomes to pay for much of the repairs, but then again that would make sense. Their idea: make the poor pay for it with higher gas taxes.

Go figure …