Archive for the ‘planned parenthood’ category

Repositioning American Foreign Policy

January 24, 2017

President Trump’s inaugural address has been characterized as “dark” and “unprecedented”. Thankfully it was short and certainly was devoid of much flowery language. One might think Trump’s purpose was not to build inclusiveness, in fact.

Could his purpose have been to simply stir the pot, put everyone on notice, and see who flinches?

Let’s begin with the State and Defense Departments. The following words taken from the inaugural text captures his intent to “reposition” American foreign policy.

We will seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world — but we do so with the understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first.

We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example for everyone to follow.

Most recent Administrations have explicitly advocated America’s role in championing  “the spread of American-style democracy” including emphasis on human rights, calling out nations whom our State Department dubs as bad actors. Sanctions, isolation, and even military intervention have followed. Remember nation building in Afghanistan and regime change, followed by nation building in Iraq? One could justly claim these initiatives were intended to advance democracy and improve human rights.  After these costly ventures, our eyes find a huge waste of money as well as a dismal failure versus our stated objective.

Putting the scarcity of success aside, each of these previous Administrations has also failed to hold a mirror up and examine just what type of democracy and human rights examples the US projected. For example, the US incarcerates more of its citizens than any other modern country. The US’ use of capital punishment places the country in the company of third world countries. Don’t overlook the convenient use of torture in the aftermath of 9/11. And, healthcare outcomes for African Americans and poor citizens are sharply inferior to whites and wealthy Americans.

So repositioning US foreign policy is not a meritless proposal. The US is not a flawless model and our track record of intervention is abysmal.

Repositioning will not be a walk in the park. The world without some form of American leadership could by default nominate other far less worthy nations into leadership. While wars seem to be part of the human condition, it has been almost 75 years since world wars have been the foreign policy choice of relationship. Repositioning may be akin to putting a stick down once someone has stuck the stick into a bees nest.  Dramatic repositioning may  be very difficult.

The Trump Administration might also recognize the irony that on Friday, President Trump gave his inaugeral speech and on Monday, as one of his first official acts, the President signed an executive order that reimposes a ban on the use of US funds in any country where the funding might be used to inform those countries’ residents about abortions.

Where did “We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone” suddenly go?

Does A Herd Think?

January 6, 2017

The Republican controlled Congress is readying a bill to defund Planned Parenthood. Not much of a surprise given past performance but with apparently no agreement on the “replace part” of repeal and replace Obamacare, where is Congress’ sense of priority? The herd that calls itself Republican legislators is showing its colors early, and they are not pretty.

The GOP wraps its opposition to Planned Parenthood with the claim that Planned Parenthood performs abortions and abortions are unacceptable. Planned Parenthood also counsels women on how to avoid unwanted pregnancies which single handedly avoids more abortions than any other measure. Hmmm.

The issue with Planned Parenthood is, of course, pay back. Defunding Planned Parenthood is a big thank you to religious groups who supported Republicans. Defunding is what friends do.

Interestingly most Americans do not visit or use Planned Parenthood services. Do you see a similarity with repealing Obamacare? Most Americans do not use the Affordable Care Act services instead obtaining healthcare services from employer provided insurance, Medicare, and Medicaid.

Most abortions occur naturally or result from morning after medication. Abortions requiring Planned Parenthood services occur when women have no other affordable options. Most women find other providers, but some simply are trapped in economic conditions where Planned Parenthood’s safe services provide a dignified way to end an unwanted pregnancy.

On a related topic, Republican legislators in Texas are readying an analogous bill.  Texan legislators, not deterred by the outcome North Carolina’s “bathroom” bill are ready to do the same. “It’s the right thing to do”, the principle supporter said. Hmmm.

The common thread associated with these bills is the expression of religious beliefs where the expression impacts others who may not hold those same religious beliefs. Students of history or just thinking persons should recognize the ogre this type of thinking represents. Basing law on what ones religious beliefs may be, prepares the earth for conflict.

What is even more despicable about the repeal (not the modification) of Obamacare, defunding Planned Parenthood, and laws like North Carolina’s HB-2 is that it resembles bullying and disproportionately impacts the vulnerable.

I guess, however, that’s what herds do.

Three Strikes and …

October 20, 2016

The third and final 2016 Presidential debate mercifully concluded last evening in Las Vegas. With a sigh of relief the curtain fell on a modern political tradition with the public little more informed about what policies each candidates would follow if elected. What did come to the surface again was the gulf in temperament that separates the two candidates.

Hillary Clinton, dressed in calming white, baited Donald Trump with carefully constructed dialog. Clinton displayed the difference between the big leagues and a back yard sandlot. Clinton used a saber while Trump rambled around using his elbows. For Trump supporters, this was and is their man. For Clinton supporters, it was “see I told you so”. But what about everyone in between?

The polls will once again provide an indication but that will take days. IMO, the turkey was already in the oven with Trump steadily sinking in voters’ opinions, last nights debate did nothing to arrest this decline and arguably may have accelerated it.

On taxes and the economy, Trump promised better days were around the corner, saying with massive tax cuts, jobs would be created (as well as returned from overseas), the economy would grow in excess of 5%, and America would be great again. I would not worry about a long line of economists vouching for this whopper.

Trump relied on “non-Presidential” demeanor in attempts to belittle and denigrate Hillary Clinton while denying any counter charges regardless of whether Hillary’s claims had already been fact checked.

And strike three (for the undecided, wavering, and uncommitted) came at the very end when Trump refused to acknowledge that he would accept the election results. In essence, Trump said no to the “American Way”.

There were other important differences mentioned on immigration, women’s right to choose, and the Supreme Court. With a more mainstream Republican candidate (remember Mitt Romney), one would have expected a fuller discussion and an appeal to voters on why their position was best. Last evenings these topics were like throw away issues taking away from each candidates real interest, showing their opponent as unfit to serve.

This quadrennial political contest is not over. There is of course still time for some unknown disclosure which could rock Clinton’s candidacy, but chance are small and getting smaller. At this point, Hillary Clinton looks destine to become the 45th President.

Should Anyone Be Surprised?

March 13, 2016

GOP pundits, political operatives, and big money donors are all aghast about Donald Trumps potential to steal the Republican Presidential nomination. These authorities claim Americans are angry and say Trump is just feeding voters someone or someplace to target their fears. Mexico, Muslims, or anyone who is not us allow Trump supporters to accept Trump’s promise to fix it.

Hmmm.

Listening to the GOP “establishment” Trump must be some type of low life to conduct his campaign by appealing to voters’ fears. So, what does the establishment think voters want to hear? How about defunding Planned Parenthood, repealing Obamacare, and tax code reform featuring lower marginal rates. The GOP is also keen on increasing defense spending while reducing entitlements (Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid). Rounding out the GOP’s list includes applying religious freedom interpretations to discriminate against gays and same sex couples. Are any of the GOP’s “must do” list designed to deal with Trump supporters’ fears?

Consider, in addition, what if many voters are victims of income inequality? What if many believe the American Dream either no longer exists or at least is not within their grasp? What if globalization just hasn’t worked well for many Americans and they haven’t figured out how overcome this global change? Does the mainstream Republican pitch deal in any way with this view of reality?

Here’s a bulletin. Neither the GOP establishment nor Donald Trump appears to have a clue. Income inequality is linked to globalization to be sure, but it is also connected to workers’ skill base and the ethical behavior of business leaders.

At this time, too many Americans lack the skills necessary for higher paying jobs, and too many corporations simply see their workers as throw away commodities. Corporate leaders are more concerned about stock price and personal bonuses.

As a consequence, corporate leaders have lost sight that their employees are also in some way their corporation’s customers. A customer with no money cannot buy the corporation’s products or services. Hmmm.

So which policies might lead to increased jobs, salaries, and wages?

Attempting to deal with globalization by imposing tariffs and duties, while often popular, only leads to equal and opposite trade restrictions from our trading partners. Some workers might get old jobs back while others employed in export related work lose theirs.

Retraining workers and developing more competitive skills with new workers are positive steps, but who will pay?

Simply paying workers more or sharing productivity gains with all workers would help but why would a capitalist pay more for labor than he must?

Here’s the conundrum. The GOP and Donald Trump have no policies which will deal with globalization or to unilaterally improve the wages of average people. GOP policies either do nothing or aggravate income inequality. Trump promises much, for example “to make America great again”, but how?

It should be clear that making globalization work better (more and better jobs) and reducing income inequality would be a worthwhile focus for both political parties.  But focusing upon Planned Parenthood or Obamacare has nothing to do with globalization/jobs or income inequality. If the mainstream GOP continues on its same path, the unproven case Trump is making sounds a better alternative.

Should anyone be surprised?

Kasich Unforced Error

February 25, 2016

There was so much hopeful about John Kasich’s candidacy, like he might be the only adult in the GOP room. His background included business, Congress, and a successful run as Ohio’s Governor. He has kept his campaign positive while his opponents frolicked in slams and dirty tricks against each other. On many issues, Kasich seems a moderate, only slightly right of center. His candidacy is still a long shot given the success of Donald Trump and the apparent “establishment GOP” support for Marco Rubio. Never the less, Kasich can’t be ruled out.

This week John Kasich took a step which will ensure he won’t become President. Kasich followed through on a promise to defund Planned Parenthood in Ohio.

Actually Governor Kasich signed a bill which does not name Planned Parenthood. Rather it restricts Ohio State funding from institutions which also perform abortions. Hmmm. Is that a difference without a distinction?

Kasich’s unforced error lies in why get involved with an issue where women’s right to choose is involved and the hardship resulting from trying to close down Planned Parenthood will fall on poor, often single women? Why conduct a war when none is needed?

Certainly, abortion can be a matter of conscience. For some, abortion is wrong, period. Marco Rubio has said he favors a total abortion ban even in cases of incest and rape. While Rubio’s views are extreme, he is most likely someone who believes abortion is a moral crime… even if the Supreme Court has ruled otherwise, namely that abortion is the right of every woman.

Kasich’s unforced error arises from the fact, much like the GOP case for repealing Obamacare, what State facilities will replace Planned Parenthood, especially to assist poor women in search of family planning advice?

Being against abortion is Katich’s right as a free thinking citizen but he has no right to impose that on other Americans.

When Bullets Fly

November 30, 2015

There are some tried and true expressions which describe the confusion which takes place during battle. The “fog of war” and the “heat of battle” are two which are often used when decisions are made which seem to have overlooked what might be obvious after the battle.

Major sports teams today, the coach or manager has now gotten a wide range of subordinate coaches (like hitting or pitching in baseball or offensive and defensive coordinators in football) to run the minute by minute game activities while the “coach” forgets the details and tries to see “the big picture”.

In a strange way the GOP has gotten itself caught up in the “fog of war” and seems to have no one looking at the big picture. With 15 or so candidates running for the Presidential nomination, a national committee (RPNC) complicit, believes that survival (and subsequently winning the White House) lies only in grasping headlines in the 7/24 news cycle. For unexplained reasons, the GOP and the candidates have turned to making one divisive statement after another. Why?

From “repeal Obamacare” to “border security” to “voting fraud and photo ID” to “no expansion of Medicaid”, to “no Syrian refugees” and to “defund Planned Parenthood, the GOP crowd have chosen wedge issues, popular with their extreme base, to cultivate an American atmosphere of hate and divisiveness.

Sadly each of these issues could have been addressed with a compassionate and inclusive criticism coupled with proposals on how to correct. For example, the GOP could have said “we strongly support making health insurance available to all Americans regardless of age, health, or means and here is a more comprehensive and effective proposal than Obamacare”.  Or, “border security especially with Mexico is a national concern. Here is our proposal for ensuring any (or X numbers of) Mexican can come to the US with work papers so they can respond to employment openings. US employers who hire undocumented workers will be prosecuted to the fullest extent”. Or, “Planned Parenthood provides necessary services, especially for those poorer Americans, and contributes significantly to abortion reduction through its sex education classes.  Planned Parenthood may have strayed over the line at some clinics with a policy of selling fetal parts to research institutes. We seek a thorough investigation and policy changes if necessary in Planned Parenthood practices”.

Of course none of this inclusiveness has come from GOP candidates or sources. It appears they do not see it in their best interest. Instead they prefer to throw gasoline on a fire of public misunderstanding… in a seemingly coordinated manner.

Over the weekend in Colorado Springs an unintended consequence emerged. A mentally unstable individual, described in the press as a drifter and trouble maker, entered a Planned Parenthood clinic and killed three people, none of them healthcare providers. Hmmm.

The US has its share of mentally challenged people. The 7/24 talk shows are bad enough in whipping up division (with sparse or no data). When a national political party seemingly coordinates messages of divisiveness in pursuit of gaining power we should worry whether world history is repeating itself.

Bad things usually happen when bullets fly.

GOP – Near Sighted?

August 29, 2015

The 2016 Presidential elections preliminaries are underway. Both Parties have begun their primary processes, and pundits speculate daily over which candidates will become their party’s standard bearer. Hillary Clinton has appeared the Democrat favorite and in polls has been preferred over all the GOP hopefuls. So, is the election over (already)?

Not so fast.

Hillary Clinton is like honey, she attacks all sorts of attackers who hunger for her defeat. Clinton, however, is every bit their match. She campaigns in a highly controlled manner and provides as few openings for her opponents as possible. The “Bengazi morphed into private email server” controversy has lasted this long mainly because Clinton has chosen to not engage the issue (apparently because she believes it is irrelevant). Clinton’s strategy, however, has given credence to a “trustworthiness” issue and the original Clinton glow has faded somewhat. She appears beatable although defeat is by no means certain.

The GOP seems unwilling to accept this opportunity to win back the White House. With Donald the Trump leading the way, most of the Presidential candidates have made prejudicial comments while campaigning. To be sure, with 16 hopefuls, attracting voter attention is not easy. A “near sighted” party, however, must recognize that the way they attract attention now will have consequence in the future election.

Recent reports indicate the broader GOP controlled Congress might enter the election dynamics. When Congress returns from its summer recess, it will be facing a budget and debt hurdle of their own making.

GOP Congressional members have laid down the gauntlet that any budget or any debt extension bill must contain measures that “defund” planned parenthood. Do you see the connection?

Apparently these GOP Congress members think they can hold hostage the budget and debt extension (that is the US paying its bills) until Democrats agree to defund Planned Parenthood. It is hard to image anything more nearsighted. Women and poor citizens vote in the national election and will remember a Government shutdown (again).

One can question whether Planned Parenthood represents a substantive issue or whether GOP support is just a cynical sop for their evangelical wing. In either case, Planned Parenthood has nothing of meaning to do with either the Budget or the Debt. Even worse, politically speaking Planned Parenthood plays right into the Democrat’s claim that the GOP is conducting a war on women.

As in 2012, the GOP sees things differently. Focusing two inches away, they see a path to defund Planned Parenthood, and see no consequences. Maybe the country is not ready for nearsighted President.