Friday, May 31, 2013

Abortions: A time and place for common sense.

El Salvador Will Allow Dying Woman To End Her Pregnancy: ‘What Matters Is To Protect Beatriz’s Life’

"Beatriz has the right to live. I respect reproductive rights." (Credit: Amnesty International)

Beatriz, the 22-year-old El Salvadoran woman who needs an emergency abortion in order to survive, will now be allowed to end her pregnancy with a Caesarean section. On Thursday, El Salvador’s health minister approved the C-section procedure for the dying woman, whose health has increasingly worsened throughout her pregnancy. “The medical team at the Maternity Hospital is ready to act immediately at the slightest sign of danger,” Health Minister Maria Isabel Rodriguez said on Thursday. “For me, what matters is to protect Beatriz’s life.”
Over the past three months, Beatriz’s life has hung in the balance as her deeply conservative country has refused to compromise its stringent abortion ban. In El Salvador, having an abortion is illegal under all circumstances and can result in up to 30 years in prison. Even though Beatriz is carrying a nonviable fetus — it will not be able to survive outside the womb for more than a few hours because it’s missing its brain — her government has continued to deny her the life-saving abortion that would prevent her from dying along with her fetus. On Wednesday, El Salvador’s Supreme Court refused to grant Beatriz an exception to the country’s abortion ban, and there didn’t seem to be much hope left for the pregnant woman who has begged for the chance to live for her 14-month-old son.
However, since Beatriz is now 26 weeks along in her pregnancy, her case is no longer subject to El Salvador’s abortion laws. The reproductive rights advocates who have taken up her case say that at this point, the country’s health ministry can decide on the best option to safeguard Beatriz’s health.
That’s exactly what El Salvador’s health minister has decided to do. Essentially, Beatriz will be given a different means to achieve the same ends. Rodriguez will sidestep the abortion controversy by allowing Beatriz to undergo a C-section surgery — which her fetus will likely not survive — instead of undergoing a less-invasive abortion procedure. The Health Department hasn’t yet decided when Beatriz will have her surgery, but she is now “going through all the medical exams” in order to prepare for it.
Independently of Rodriguez’s announcement that Beatriz may have a C-section, the highest human rights courts in the Americas ordered El Salvador on Thursday to provide Beatriz with the life-saving health care she needs. The Inter-American Court of Human Rights has never before considered a case on abortion, but it stepped in this week to criticize El Salvador’s Supreme Court for its “cruel and callous” decision to deny Beatriz the right to terminate her doomed pregnancy. The Inter-American Court pointed out that forcing the ailing woman to continue carrying her fetus is “a potential death sentence for Beatriz.” The health minister’s decision ensures that El Salvador will be in compliance with the court’s order.

Fortunately, even in spite of her country’s draconian abortion laws, Beatriz’s life will hopefully be spared. But many women aren’t so lucky. Earlier this year, a woman died after being denied an abortion in an Irish Catholic hospital. Last year, a woman in the Dominican Republic died after she couldn’t get the abortion she needed to receive chemotherapy treatment. And around the world, an estimated 47,000 women die each year because they don’t have the access to safe reproductive health care.

Reprinted without permission from ThinkProgress, but I thought you needed to know.  This is the same type of law that many states in America want to pass.  The complete abolition of abortions regardless of circumstances. That is wrong.  It is just as wrong as abortions on demand for any reason. The two sides are going to have to quit screaming at each other and work out smart compromises. And to do so,we may have to get rid of religious leaders in the dialog.  They are stirring things up too much.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Syria. In case you missed it the first time through.

I wrote about Syria the other day and had the lightest response for any blog in the this year's list. Why?  People do not care about Syria. But I believe you will if the administration and Congress get us involved in their battle. Remember, we don't have a dog in this fight. It is between waring religious sects. Sunnis on one side and Shiites on the other.

It is not our fight.Not our war. Not our concern. but so help me, I bet you we get involved.  It is good for business. Good for national moral. Good for everything except the lives of the men and women it will cost to get involved in yet another boondoggle.

I doubt that this blog stirs much passion. The one I wrote about Obamacare and Taxes went through the roof. The one on city elections, likewise. But a conflict in the Mideast that has implications far sinister than anything our myaor of his cohorts have cooked up, gets barely a nod.

That is your prerogative. You are, after all, Americans. and as troops return home from far away places like Afghanistan and Pakistan and I suppose some day'll wave your little American flags and cheer.  "The heroes...returning home. The brave who saved our democracy." Sorry. It is not true. Not one life in Iraq or in Afghanistan was spent saving our democracy. Not one. It is a myth.

We go to war based on economic needs, and political currency. The president is facing some tough times in D.C.  If he is like his predecessors, he will pick a fight somewhere to get America looking abroad instead of at home. Reagan did it. Bush One and Two used the old trick. And Clinton, too. And right now the best fight to pick is with Syria.

But it is not a moral fight No matter how the spin doctors couch it. We are not going in for humanitarian needs. We are going in because A) it is good for business and B) it gets the Republicans off Obama's back.

But you won't take notice. you don't care about Syria. And in the long run, neither should our government.

It is not our fight.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Syria's problems are not ours.

Are you pulling for the Sunni’s or the Shiite’s?

That is a very important question if we are to get involved in the Syrian civil war. You need to take a side because that is what the fighting is all about. Religion. Factionalized religion.

So pick a side and draw up your plans for a Syria without the other side. Because both sides wish to destroy each other. Completely.

We don’t stand a eggs chance in a blender in getting into the conflict and coming out with (excuse the continued pun) egg on our face. This is like trying to get in between a Baptist and a Methodist.  Or a Baptist and anybody else for that matter.  You have to pick a side and be able to accept the bloodshed in the name of God, Allah or whomever.

Sunni or Shiite?  Decide and then lets go to war on the side of the one you pick. Crazy you say!  That’s what it is going to happen if the USA is sucked into this conflict.  This isn’t our fight. We don’t have a dog in this fight, as they say in East Texas. It is none of our business and it should stay that way.  Personally, I don’t give a damn about either Sunnis or Shiites. I wish they would both go away. 

Maybe the Baptist, too.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The scandal involving the IRS is not an Obama problem. It is a Congressional problem.

I originally wrote this as a Facebook article. I thought it needed wider distribution. You need to know the facts behind the IRS scandal going on in Washington, D.C.

Some information on the so-called IRS scandal.

An interesting fact came up in the hearings today about the IRS and the 501(c)4 groups who have been under investigation. Apparently, because of a change in the wording of the law, this investigation process, determining the amount of political versus social action by a group claiming tax exempt status has been going on since 1959. If my understanding of history is correct that was the Eisenhower administration not the Obama administration.

The problems lies in the changing of Congress's wording that a 501(c)4 group must provide social services exclusively. It has been against the law sine 1959 to engage in political activity from a 501(c)4, but due to a legal screw up by the acting administrator of the IRS under IKE, the 501(c)4 groups have been allowed 49% of their contributions to be used for political purposes.

That, is against the law.

The investigation of the NAACP, NFL, Labor Unions, Churches and ACORN by the IRS are part and partial of the same investigations arising from the onslaught of hundreds of new applications from Tea Party affiliated groups claiming 501(c) 4 status. The law that was broken began 50 years ago by misinterpreting the Law Congress wrote to maintain control over tax-exempt status groups. Again, way before President Obama ever took office.

I believe there is a scandal. Allowing the IRS, fifty years ago to change the law without a vote from Congress and to undermine the original intent of the law, is wrong and should be corrected. That in and of itself would go a long way in challenging the basis of Citizen's United.

The IRS needs to get its act together. The committee investigating them does as well. This is not an Obama Administration problem...this is a Congressional problem for allowing their laws to be misinterpreted and used for the wrong means.

It is wrong to single out a group or groups of people to be audited by the IRS. But in this case, all groups involved with political fund raising and political speech are subject to audit because they are breaking the original law.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Is the GOP facing the end of times?

Mike Bradley spoke the other day at a book event I had the pleasure to attend. Mike represents Publishers’ Workshop an informal group that puts on seminars for authors-to-be and soon to be published writers who are finding the ways of the publishing world a bit daunting.  But during his remarks, Mike said something that was so profound. “We are at a crossroads in publishing. There are many of the old school who wish to see the democratic principals of the Internet destroyed and a return to the old ways and a rise in power of the old gatekeepers. They wish to control things as they once did. They do not realize that Pandora’s box has been opened and we can never go back. Their days are numbered.”

As I thought about Mike’s comments I realized they ran parallel with what is going on in Washington, D.C.   The GOP is in fear of the future. They realize that the generation following us does not hold to the values they do. They do not believe in the “old ways”. And this scares the Republicans more than anything. They now know they are dinosaurs and that their time is limited. They have lost the fight.

They thought they had won the big election. And they should have ‑ by a landslide. The economy was in the toilet and the tax revolting Tea Partiers were louder than ever; yet, they stood on issues, which America refused to follow. They were and are out of step with a changing America. Their Pandora’s box has been opened and no matter how hard they try then can never get everything back in and close the lid again. (And this, just a few years after Karl Rove predicted that the Republicans would rule from the White House for generations to come. Sorry Karl.)

This is why Washington is in such a mess right now. The GOP is trying to hold on to the last bit of the continent they can. They are clawing with dull nails into the slippery slope of obsolesce and trying to survive. That means they will lash out at anything. They have made a mockery of the investigation of safety at Benghazi (which was the purported reason for holding the hearings to begin with) and they have grasped at straws trying to link the President with any number of issues from the IRS investigation of Tea Party groups to the FBI taking AP phone numbers for an investigation into a national security breech. So far they have found NO smoking gun. Nothing they can link the President to in order to impeach him. And for that matter, nothing to slow the swell behind Hillary’s potential run for the oval office.

But they have made a lot of noise. I am sure in the final days of the dinosaurs there was much noise and trashing about. The Republicans are trying anything they can to maintain a presence. They are trying anything they can to survive. Anything except the one thing that would save them: change. Change with the times and the new landscape that faces them, but they will not. Not with the party leadership as it stands now. They are too entrenched in the “old ways.”

So do not be mislead by the roars coming from D.C. It is only the wailing of a dying breed.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

You can't fight mother nature. But you can rebuild from her furry.

As I watch the TV pictures come across my screen from Moore, Oklahoma, I am reminded how fragile life is here on this rock. And how unforgiving Mother nature can be in her most deadly hours.

Let us remember this community and others who have been touched by natural disasters and let us all pledge to stand with our neighbors here in Texas and other states and help them rebuild.

It takes a village, true; but it also takes a nation. And together we can rebuild even better and stronger. That is the American spirit. Let us never let it die.

People in north Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Arkansas and Missouri, watch out. More bad whether on the way. If you are in the the path of a storm, listen to the radio. Get covered underground in a storm shelter or basement or get out of the area.  These super cells are not to be ignored or played with. 

All of which reminds me, here’s a shout out at the true first responders — the National Weather Service for their early warnings. They save more lives each year from storms than just about any group in our country. Our role is to listen and hed thier advice. 

Job well done NWS. And thanks.

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Patriot Act is making a mockery out of the Constitution

In a series of recent news polls two key findings jump out at me.

First, the majority of the nation feels that the controversies are not affecting their view of how President Obama is doing his job. They feel he is right on course steering the ship in the correct manner.

Second, the controversies are important to look into — especially the IRS scandal. The AP problem is understood by most people as a national security issue and Benghazi as a political hack job. (Most Americans polled feel the investigation on the Libyan assault of our consulate should be focused on how to prevent such attacks and how to make our staffs in foreign countries better protected, not who knew what when. The American public can see through the smoke and mirrors in the hearings going on in Washington.)

The thing that concerns me are the AP findings. Yes, I too believe Benghazi needs proper investigating about security issues and that the IRS violated trust with its disclosure and needs to be vetted for proper response from Congress, but to let the AP issue slide says two things to me. A) Americans do not understand the role journalism truly plays in the free flow of information in a democracy and B) most people have acquiesced their rights under the Patriot Act, not understanding just how severe the law is in eroding the “real rights” of each and every American.

Under Bush, the Patriot Act was passed and then renewed under Obama and that law gave and still gives the government immense powers of collecting information for national security reasons – trampling on constitutionally protected rights and privileges. That’s is a euphemism for spying on its citizens. Remember the Soviet Union?  They had such laws.  Nazi Germany, too. Yet, we have rolled over and played dead when it comes to fighting for our rights. You let the government use the Patriot Act once against the NRA and you’ll see just how noisy a minority can get over such acts. We all should be as raucous.

The FBI’s obtaining the phone information of the AP’s reporters amounts to an invasion of privacy. It is an invasion of the trust developed with the First Amendment. It says now, no source can be protected. True, there was a breach of some kind. A breach that said someone in the government leaked information about the CIA’s role in Yemen. And that’s a bad thing. But you don’t run roughshod over the Constitution to fix it. (Oh, you do under the Bush and Obama administrations with the Patriot Act in your back pocket.)

There will come a time in America, and I hope it is not too late, that the citizens of this country will arise and demand our freedoms back. Demand that the lawmakers back down and let the Founding Father’s insight work freely once again in this country.

The Patriot Act was passed by people drenched and repressed in fear. America is supposed to be the home of the brave. We don’t need this law.

The Patriot Act is bad for America.

Monday, May 13, 2013

If it wrong, it is wrong regardless of race, color, creed or party.

The IRS was wrong in singeling out the GOP/Tea Party based groups who applied for tax exempt status. Pure and simple wrong.

The fact is, all groups such as this, from religious groups to conservative groups, from liberal watch-dog groups to the local neighborhood fund raisers should be scrutinized the same way.  And apply a very clear, and high powered accounting microscope when doing the looking. 

Labor unions and churches for too long have gotten away with political pandering and public political discourse and hidden behind the tax code of the USA.  It is time the curtain be pulled back on all of these groups...left and right. And they be exposed for what they truly are — political voices of special interests groups.

The IRS was wrong in making their investigations only about the conservative groups. But what they were trying to do was right. It should be applied to all groups seeking a place at the political table. And do not let them hide behind God, guns or great ideals. If you raise a voice politically— conservative, moderate, liberal or whatever—you do not deserve a tax break.

Why should the tax payers of America subsidize the political discourse in the country? We have corporations, according to the Supreme Court, to do that for us.

Friday, May 10, 2013

The devil cut a deal.

Jeffery Skilling has cut a deal with prosecutors to cut his prison time. How?  He's going to give back his stolen money.

From CNN..."As part of Skilling's deal, some $40 million of his assets, seized after Enron's collapse, will be released to compensate victims."

Now here is my huge question.  Why does his getting out require that?  Seize the assets and distribute them and leave the bastard behind bars. It is time America quits coddling white-collar criminals like Skilling.  It is time we treat them for what they are. Common thugs. Educated, yes. But no more than the guy who walks into a convenience store, pulls a gun and robs the clerk of $137.50.  Skilling stole whole lot more than that. And hundreds suffered and still suffer for his actions today.

Do not let Jeffery and his fellow conspirators or the guys, who took the banks down on Wall Street, do not let them walk. They are criminals. Of the highest order they are criminals. Bright. Cunning. And very evil. And they are liars.

Enron was a crime. A huge crime. No different from robbing a bank or embezzling life savings in a Ponzi Scheme. And as a crime, its perpetrators need harsh sentencing and the maximum time behind iron. They do not need deals. And the assets they accumulated while bilking thousands out of life savings, should be taken from them and distributed to the employees of Enron who lost so very much.

Do not feel sorry for Jeffery skilling. He knew what he was doing. He got caught. And now he is a criminal. He should do the time.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

How to be a brown nose.

Remember when you were in junior high school and someone who was always trying to incur favor with the teachers and the administration was called a brown nose.  They would do the stupidest things just to get recognition for being a goody-goody.  Remember them.

Well in the Texas legislature we have a big brown nose. Dan Branch. To incur favor with the Texas GOP he has once again done something terribly stupid. He has gotten a piece of legislation passed to name seven miles of  U.S. 75 "Central Expressway" after George W. Bush.

Now I don’t mind that SMU has put the W's library on campus. I have never been a big fan of that school. So, if they want to celebrate a man that led us into an illegal war, a man now considered in over 100 countries as a war criminal, a man that all but single-handedly drove our country into financial ruin with sophomoric economic policies, so be it. But don’t force us to pay our respects by calling Central Expressway ‘The Bush.’

Besides, we already have a Bush expressway in Dallas. His dad's road up north circles the perimeter of the city. President George Bush toll way. Now we're going to have two of them. How confusing is that going to be? "It's just off the Bush."  "Which one?" "The one that runs north and south, not the east and west one." "Oh."

Ridiculous, Mr. Branch. We didn't ask for it. We don’t want it. Now go away and wipe that brown stuff off your nose.

It's bad enough that Mayor Mike Rawlings pulled a fast one on Dallas and named the Convention Center after former U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson without so much as a public discourse on the matter. (Where was Angela Hunt when we needed her?) Dallas is good about flashing names around on roads and buildings and bridges. Too bad we can't name things after people here in Dallas who actually do some good. I move we change the name of Knox-Henderson to Avenue of Weapons of Mass Destruction. The perfect exit off the new Bush Expressway.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

There is a wolf at the door dressed like an elephant.

This week the GOP showed both locally and nationally its hand toward Americans and their wellbeing. First in Texas, where Rick Perry, the man who thought he could be President, decided that Texas didn’t need to expand Medicare and in so doing is going to leave tens of Billions of dollars of federal funds on the table. Not picked up. Not spent.

So who pays?  You and I do. Take Parkland Hospital for example. Instead of getting privately insured recipients under Medicare coming to the county hospital, now local taxpayers are going to have to cover the costs for uninsured. Again. Rick is doing this as a political stand against the Obama administration. Pure party politics. He doesn’t consider the poor adults and the under-insured of this state important, and let me tell you there are plenty of them. But that same GOP led the Texas House of Representatives (Reprehensibles) into slamming through millions of tax breaks for businesses in Texas. Again, the common man will have to reach into his or her pocketbook and pay the difference.

Who are they trying to fool?  The GOP doesn’t care about the middle class. It doesn’t care about working people. It cares about big corporations and big money and power. That is it.  Get it.

And in Washington a bill is working its way through the messed up chamber we call the House of Representatives (although the house of vipers might be more appropriate) that would eliminate the 8-hour workday and eliminate the 40-hour workweek. On the surface, it is a set of labor rules giving employees and employers the right to negotiate for fixed salaries and remove overtime from hourly pay.  On the face of it, the bill seems like a benign deal. But dig deeper and you realize the authors are all union busters and want to cut into the fabric of overtime pay and union authority for‑ again, big business and big money and power. You think the GOP cares about workers?  Nope. What about the men and women it wants to build the Keystone Pipeline…nope. No overtime on that job, either.  What about compensation for work that exceeds 40-hours a week. Tough beans. Who is behind all of this?  Chamber of Commerce.  The Kock brothers. Wonder of wonders. And Wall Street loves it. More profit because we will pay laborers less and less for the work they do.

Wake up America. The GOP means Grab or Plunder. They are going to grab yours and plunder what is not theirs.

Monday, May 6, 2013

What is yours may not be for long.

Adobe just announced that its Creative suite, including the famous Photoshop is now going to be “leased” software.  I knew this was coming with the advent of the cloud.  It has been rumored for a long time that Microsoft will do the same thing with Office and its workhorse WORD.

I have looked into the future and I do not like what I am seeing in the world of computers.  Maybe this is where the next generation of kids steps in and says, “We’ve got a better way….”  I certainly hope so. Renting software in context of Adobe, Apple and Mircosoft isn’t my idea of what computing and the Internet is all about.

This is NOT good news for consumers.  It is not good news for anybody using these products. Or people trying to upgrade in the future…It is Bad news.

This is what Steve Jobs left us with. Now how big a hero does he seem now?