Thursday, March 29, 2012

Deceiving RNC ad about "ObamaCare" Trivializes the Real Issues

The Republican National Committee never ceases to amaze. Two days ago, they released an ad entitled: "ObamaCare: It's a Tough Sell." Needless to say, the ad is so heavily edited that it changes Solicitor General Donald Verrilli's entire opening statement and makes it look like he was helplessly stumbling over his words.

True, Verrilli did stumble over his words in the beginning of his opening remarks and did take a short break to take a drink of water. Umm...give the guy a break. He was giving oral argument at the Supreme Court of the United States on one of the most important issues right now for heaven's sake! The health care law is also not the easiest thing in the world to explain; it is highly complex. Perhaps it took him a minute to get composed, but he eventually did. As a law student, I have quite a bit of sympathy for him.

The video compresses these moments that Verrilli stumbled over his words and puts them all together so it sounds like he had no idea what he was talking about. The video also labels Verrilli as "Obama's lawyer." This is entirely incorrect. He is the Solicitor General and represents the government, not Obama, in litigation before the Supreme Court. It seems nit-pickety but it is just another way that the RNC tries to characterize the health care law as being all about Obama.

Courtroom sketch by Art Lien: Solicitor General Donald Verrilli speaking to Justice Antonin Scalia on March 26, 2012 as he argues his case before the Supreme Court

Alright, forget the stupid ad. The main issue is whether it is constitutional to require Americans to buy insurance coverage.

What I think:

1. I think the individual mandate comes within Congress' right to regulate interstate commerce. Whether or not people have insurance inevitably affects interstate commerce. Like Verrilli said, 
"Uninsured Americans each year use $43 billion of health care they cannot pay for, effectively transferring those costs to other American families to the tune of about $1,000 per year."
2. On its face, the individual mandate may look like it is "forcing people into the stream of commerce" by requiring someone who might not have obtained health insurance to obtain it. However, virtually everyone will end up needing some kind of health care at some point in their lives. Somebody has to pay for it...

Cut the crap, Republicans. Stop making this debate about "freedom" when it's really about every citizen's right to secure affordable health care. This is a very unique issue and I highly doubt whether this interpretation of the Commerce Clause is going to set a precedent for unlimited power of the federal government to control everything we do.

Plus, wasn't this A REPUBLICAN idea in the first place? In the words of Sarah Palin, "You betcha!"

Before the Affordable Care Act, health care was a complete mess in this country.

  • Insurance companies cannot deny coverage to people with "pre-existing conditions"
  • Small businesses can sleep at night, without the extra burden of figuring out how they are going to afford health care for their employees
  • Women will get the preventative care that they need
  • Medicare is stronger for seniors

The Supreme Court is probably going to vote on the health care law on Friday, although the rest of us will not know the results of that decision until late June. Drafts of the opinions will be written and re-written in the meantime.

Stay tuned! 

Friday, March 23, 2012

Make No Mistake, Racism Is Alive and Well. RIP Trayvon Martin.

It's been nearly a month since 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was gunned down in a Florida gated community by George Zimmerman.  Zimmerman is not in jail right now. In fact, he's hiding out after receiving numerous death threats. Why is this? Because of Florida's disgusting "Stand Your Ground" law.

Basically, the law eliminates the legal requirement that a person outside of his or her own home retreat rather than use force. However, there is nothing in the law that allows one to pursue and confront someone. Zimmerman took it upon himself to follow Trayvon even after the police advised otherwise.

The problem is that the actual language of the statute says that anyone can use deadly force when "he or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or any other." This leaves a lot of room for anyone to get away with doing horrible things by saying they were acting in self defense. Even though this law does not explicitly give people the right to pursue and follow someone with a gun, it might as well.

This is a horrible piece of legislation that was heavily supported and lobbied by the National Rifle Association (NRA), obviously for financial reasons. Because of this legislation, more people bought guns and more people joined the NRA. Now an innocent young black boy is dead and his killer is still not in jail.

Leaving the law business aside, let's be honest. Trayvon Martin was murdered because he was black. He was wearing a hoodie and Zimmerman thought he looked "suspicious." To leave race out of this issue is to ignore the real problem here. Apparently some people think that there is no way that Zimmerman could be racist since he's Mexican. This argument is wrong on so many levels, but I am not going to go there right now. Unfortunately, racism did not disappear with the passage of the Civil Rights Act, people. We are far from being above it.

As a girl who is half black, this disturbs and saddens me, but I realize that it is a fact of life. I grew up in a predominantly white neighborhood and I was the only black girl in my graduating class in high school. I know how it feels to get weird looks when my dad and I are driving in our neighborhood. People used to turn their heads as we passed by and I knew they were probably wondering "what we were doing in that part of town." I am not saying this to evoke pity or to complain. I am saying this to spread awareness that racism is not over. The fight for equality is not over.

I think a lot of us forget that we have not come as far as we think in this country in terms of race. Most Americans tend to think of themselves as being pretty progressive. Most would say that they have quite a few "close black friends." This is great, but we are naive if we think that race did not come into play here. It is up to all of us to take a stand, no matter what race we are, and to say that THIS IS NOT OK.

The "Stand your Ground Law" must be repealed. It is a useless and harmful statute and it is the sole reason why Zimmerman walks free today.

In the name of justice, please sign this petition to repeal the law. It will not bring Trayvon back, but it could prevent another grave injustice.

We will not stop. The fight has only just begun.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Governor Romney, I Don't See How a Young American Could NOT Vote Democrat

As if Romney hadn't put his foot in his mouth enough. Yesterday afternoon, after a question-and-answer session at the University of Chicago, Romney said:
"I don't see how a young American can vote for a Democrat."
Um...excuse me, but....WHAT?!

As usual, he attacked Democrats for racking up "trillion-dollar annual deficits that [his] generation will never pay for."

Whatever the circumstances of the national debt are right now, it is a known fact that young people have consistently voted Democrat for many years now. Exit poll data show that in every presidential race since 1992, 18-29 year olds have voted overwhelmingly for Democrats. In 2008, 66% of 18-29 year olds voted for President Obama.

Things have changed since 2008 and enthusiasm is nowhere near what it was four years ago, but it is still not going to be enough to make the majority of young people start voting Republican. It's just not going to happen.

Young people vote Democrat because:

1. Democrats recognize the value of education for all citizens, regardless of socio-economic status and they have consistently made education a priority in their policy-making decisions. Democrats also recognize that access to education is directly linked to economic growth.

2. Democrats have made affordable health care a national priority.

3. Democrats recognize that science is real and global warming is real.

4. Democrats have supported small businesses and businesses that do not ship their jobs overseas.

5. Democrats supported and repealed "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," finally giving equality to young, gay members of our military.

6. Democrats support women in getting fair pay. The Obama administration passed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act, ensuring that women get equal pay for equal work.

7. Democrats supported bringing and end to the Iraq war and did.

8. President Obama has fought for veterans rights and has introduced his Veterans Job Corps Initiative to ensure that veterans returning from war have jobs to come home to.

The list goes on and on. These are just a few reasons why young people vote Democrat.

If, like Rick Santorum, you think that it is "snobby" for Obama to think that every young American should have the chance to go to college, well may want to think about voting Republican.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The War in Afghanistan: Why We are Not Winning ANY Hearts or Minds

Yeah, I'm gonna go there.  The War in Afghanistan has been going on now for almost 11 years and I am beyond infuriated. Operation "Enduring Freedom" is not obtaining freedom for anyone, let's be real now.

After the September 11th attacks, the United States has been obsessed with dismantling Al-Qaeda and removing the Taliban regime from power. Once again, the United States thinks that it knows everything and that everybody should have a government like we have here. What everyone forgets is that you cannot force a way of life and a way of thinking on people.You just can't. Afghanistan is fundamentally an entirely different country than the United States. Sharia law rules over there and religion is not seen as being separate from the law. Islam is the state law. Already, their entire system is so completely different from ours.

Sadly, I think we are just at a loss now.  Things have escalated over there very quickly in the past few weeks.

1. Last week, five U.S. soldiers were involved in the incineration of a pile of Korans in Afghanistan.  This sparked a week of protests that left 30 Afghans dead. In the past week and a half, there have been six American casualties that are most likely linked to this incident. It was apparently an accident and the Korans were mistaken for garbage. Accident or not, it was a costly accident. Afghans are not going to forget this; in fact, they are demanding that the perpetrators be put on public trial in Islamic court. Soldiers are now being trained how to handle religious materials. Eleven years into the war, and this is just happening....fantastic. We are really winning the hearts and minds of the Afghan people now.

2. Today, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta arrived in southern Afghanistan after the shooting rampage incident.  The shooter, allegedly a U.S. Army staff sergeant, shot and killed 16 Afghans, nine of them children.

These two incidents have angered Afghans beyond belief. We have now really dug ourselves into a hole. With all of this going on, any U.S. negotiations with Karzai for a long-term alliance are not looking likely.

Honestly, it's time to get the fuck out. Obama says that we need to "responsibly" wind down the war in Afghanistan. Hilarious how anything involved with something so nonsensical could be regarded as "responsible." Blows my mind. Love him, but I just don't get it. As soon as we "responsibly" withdraw, things will go back to the way they were in Afghanistan, and we will have ourselves a lovely little 21st century Vietnam. Fabulous.

These incidents are terrible atrocities, and it makes you wonder what we are really trying to do. It is amazing what this country subjects its military to, and then when the veterans get back, we treat them like shit. It makes me sick. One third of all people living on the streets are VETERANS. WTF?! Alas, that is a rant for another day.

This little rant reminds me of the time I gave a speech at an Optimist Club speech competition when I was 13. The topic had something to do with America. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were brand new, and I was already not a fan.  I gave a less-than-optimistic speech about the real reasons why I thought we were at war and I went on a tirade about foreign oil. Needless to say, the 65-80 year old Republican men were not too impressed. My parents' jaws were on the floor. The other two students gave glowingly patriotic speeches about how great everything was. Uh oh. A few of the men approached me afterwards and interrogated me about my views, and I was slightly confused. I think they thought I was a Communist. At 22, not much has changed. I would still give that same speech today, although I might choose to present the speech in a different arena. HA. I got second place in the competition. Not bad for pissing everyone in the room off.

So before you start to hate me and think that I am attacking the military and I am un-American, slow your roll. I am attacking war in general and the politicians that encourage it.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Super Tuesday Results: Who Was the True Winner?

Super Tuesday sure was an exciting day! The results were semi-predictable but Romney is not sweeping up states like he should be (considering the massive amount of money he has spent). On Tuesday...

Mitt Romney won:
Ohio (narrowly)

Current number of delegates: 429

Rick Santorum won:
North Dakota

Current number of delegates: 169

Newt Gingrich won:
Georgia (his home state)

Current number of delegates: 118

Ron Paul won:
not one state...

Current number of delegates: 67

Needless to say, Romney dominated, but not as much as he should have! Romney's campaign spent about $11.9 million just in the month of February. Oh, and by the way, despite his vast personal wealth, he has not dipped into any personal funds to support his campaign WHATSOEVER.

Rick Santorum is really giving Romney a run for his money, and the vote was so close in Ohio that it was scary! For a while, I really thought Santorum was going to take Ohio as well. Fun fact: Romney's campaign spent $1.2 million on ads in Ohio attacking his opponents. As the votes were coming in, everyone was speculating about whether Santorum would be able to pull through. Romney got 37.9% of the vote while Santorum got 37.1% of it. Unbelievably close!  It doesn't matter too much, though, because in the general election, Obama will most likely take Ohio anyway.

As I was glued to Rachel Maddow on MSNBC, I got to see all the candidates' Super Tuesday speeches. Pretty entertaining, really. Santorum was related to pretty much every damn person in the room during his speech and Gingrich was supported by lots of very naively optimistic southerners who somehow think he still has a chance at being the GOP candidate. Old ladies decked out in sparkly American flag apparel referred to Gingrich lovingly as a "good ol' boy," while Romney blabbered on about restoring America and repealing "Obamacare."

While Romney technically won the most states on Super Tuesday and has the most delegates, Santorum definitely broke the record for being the most "talked about" candidate on Super Tuesday! A big part of winning elections is about having the conversation and the buzz be all about you, and everybody seems to be talking about Santorum these days. More than 40,000 tweets sent out from 6 am on Tuesday to 6 am on Wednesday mentioned Santorum's name. This was a 2012 election record for the highest spike in Twitter mentions of any GOP candidate! Although this sounds like a good thing, most of the tweets were negative in content. They always say, any press is good press, right? We shall see!

Romney has criticized Obama for being "feckless" and says that "hope is not a foreign policy."  What did Obama have to say to that? This is why I love Obama.

With all that said, I am still convinced that the real winner of Super Tuesday and the true front-runner of this election is President Obama.  What do you think?

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Two Days Until Super Tuesday - The Race for the GOP Nomination

Super Tuesday is quickly approaching and all the presidential candidates are trying to rack up as many delegates as they can! The reason why Super Tuesday is so important is because it is usually a pretty good indication of who is going to win the party's nomination for the election.

This Tuesday, primaries/caucuses will be held in Alaska, Georgia, Idaho, Massachusetts, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Vermont, and Virginia.

Not surprisingly, it looks like Romney is probably going to come out on top on Tuesday.  Exit polls showed that Michigan voters' top priority was the economy, and Romney definitely has more experience with business than Santorum.  Santorum was going strong in February, but definitely lost a lot of his momentum with some of his controversial statements about contraception and separation of church and state.  He is just too conservative for a lot of conservatives.

Gingrich is definitely feeling pressure to win in Georgia, his hometown.  Santorum will most likely win Ohio, and maybe Tennessee, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin.  As for Ron Paul, well...he is at least doing better than he did in 2008.

Stay tuned and I'll keep you updated on what happens on Tuesday!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Rush Limbaugh Calls Georgetown Law Student a "Slut": A Disturbing Start to Women's History Month

Yesterday, Rush Limbaugh (conservative radio talk show host and political commentator) called Sandra Fluke, a law student at Georgetown University, a "slut" and a "prostitute."

Why, you ask?  Because Sandra Fluke is a courageous woman who is standing up for her basic rights. She was initially denied the right to speak at a Congressional hearing about the Obama administration's contraception policy. Sadly, but not surprisingly, Darrel Issa, the committee chair at the meeting, denied her the right to speak while allowing a bunch of men to testify about the policy.

She recounted a heartbreaking story about her friend who suffered from a huge ovarian cyst. The cyst unfortunately ruptured because of Georgetown's insurance coverage rules (they are a Catholic university). This woman could not afford the $100 a month treatment on her own. At the Congressional hearing, Sandra also stood up for women who do use the pill as birth control.

What makes me so angry is the mere fact that Sandra was initially denied the right to testify about something that is SO relevant to her personally and as a woman. How dare Darrel Issa let men testify about something that does not concern them and with which they will never have any first-hand experience?

Once again, this very important issue is trivialized by people like Rush Limbaugh. He assumes that every woman who takes birth control engages in a plethora of casual sexual encounters. To quote Limbaugh directly:
"Can you imagine if you were her parents how proud. . . you would be?" he said. "Your daughter. . . testifies she's having so much sex she can't afford her own birth control pills and she wants President Obama to provide them, or the Pope."
As per usual, Limbaugh takes it to another level. His argument could not be more flawed. Limbaugh suggests that the more sex a woman has, the more birth control she needs. Whether or not this is what he meant, this is what his words mean when broken down. She's "having so much sex she can't afford her own birth control pills."Really?! Ridiculous.

Limbaugh then goes on to say that this makes her  a "prostitute." "She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex," he said. Not only is Rush Limbaugh a complete asshole, but he's also stupid. In order for Sandra to be considered a "prostitute," she would actually have to have sex with the person paying her to perform that service. For Limbaugh, that would include himself and every American taxpayer. If this sounds outrageous to you, it's because it is.

Limbaugh then went on to demand that women post sex tapes online if they use insurance-covered birth control. He basically said for all the "Feminazis" out there, if you want us to pay you to have sex, then we want to see something for it. Once again, Limbaugh fails. An essential element of prostitution includes actual physical contact between the prostitute and the customer. Need I say more? It's making me sick just thinking about it.

The GOOD news today 

The Senate blocked the Blunt amendment to the health insurance bill, so President Obama's policy that women should have access to insurance coverage for contraceptives at no charge (through an employer's health plan or directly from an insurance company) is upheld so far.

Ladies, don't let anybody trample on your rights or your pride. Men, don't forget that true feminism is NOT about man-hating. It's about equality.

Happy Women's History Month!