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.
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.
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 …
March 13, 2014
I am in the process of trying a case in Wayne County Circuit Court on behalf of a little girl who was forced to be born in a jail cell because her mother was imprisoned and denied necessary medical care by a local hospital. As I was taking the drive to court this morning I heard a radio report of a hunger strike among prisoners in California protesting that state’s practice of condemning large number of prisoners to solitary confinement. That state already is under a court order to relieve massive overcrowding. I wonder how it is that we have become a country that imprisons more people than any other nation in the world.
In Michigan, one of the largest segments of employment, especially in the Upper Peninsula, is corrections. In a state with more prisons than some countries have, more prisons are being built. If one were to base a guess on what is happening with the prison system based on who is there, one could say that our country has decided to imprison African-American males as a social policy, and the mentally ill, and non-violent drug users.
Violent crime is at an historic low, yet our prison population is at an historic high. I wonder if imprisonment has become the default setting on a society that refuses to address the social problems that require more effort and long-term investment. Just like the medical and prison staff who turned their eyes away from a woman and child in need, as a society we turn our eyes away from those in need: the mentally ill and homeless, the impoverished, the marginalized in our society.
Or when we can’t avert our eyes, we imprison them.