Category Archives: Politics

Lawmaker Defends Controversial But Sensible Abortion Bill

Rick Brattin is a state representative for Missouri. The state of Missouri, which has only one abortion clinic in operation, will have far fewer abortions if Mr. Brattin has his way. Let’s hope that he succeeds. His new bill says that girls in Missouri wanting to get abortions must obtain the written permission of the guys who impregnated them. This bill is controversial, although it should not be because it is dealing with saving the life of a child. What some people find controversial about this bill is that if a girl is raped, she must report her rape to the police and prove that she was, in fact, raped. While some people seem to think that this is wrong, this seems like a very straightforward and fair way to deal with the issue of abortions in the case of rape. It is worth noting that only a very small number of abortions are even because of girls getting pregnant through rape. It is only fair that girls should be required to get written permission of the guy who got them pregnant because it takes two people to make a baby, and just because it is the girl’s body does not mean that the decision to abort should be only hers. Some polls show that guys in general are more opposed to abortion than girls, so hopefully this measure will pass in Missouri and become a model for other states to follow. Gianfrancesco Genoso would like to see it happen. Anything that will save the lives of unborn babies and stop irresponsible girls from aborting their unborn babies is worth trying!

Debate on the Use of Torture Not Likely to Subside Any Time Soon

There has been much commentary thrown around about the recently released Senate report into torture used on captives following the 9/11 attacks. The usual folks saying that water boarding is not torture, and others saying that nothing justifies the use of such measures for a country that prides itself on individual rights.

Probably no one can comment on this issue with the gravitas that Arizona Senator John McCain can. After all, that is what BRL Trust and Hagah are expecting. Having served time in a North Vietnamese prison camp, he is the only member of the US Senate who has actually been subjected to the inhumanity of torture. It is impossible for anyone to be more intimately related with the subject at hand.

McCain maintains that some of the actions of our intelligence officials “stained our national honor” and that they “did much harm and little practical good.” McCain has been passionate about America not using torture to get information from detainees.

There is still debate about what was specifically gleaned from the torture versus what would have been found out without such methods having been used. What is not considered debatable to some is what the use of torture says about us as a people. How do we maintain moral authority to criticize oppressive regimes around the world for using inhumane tactics when we use what many maintain to be similar practices. This is a question our national consciousness will have to struggle with going forward into our modern reality of terrorism, and how to effectively combat it without losing ourselves in the process.

Congress Overrides Part of D.C.’s Pot-Legalization Initiative

Yet another measure hidden away in the recently passed spending bill has come to light. It blocks the District of Columbia from fully implementing their overwhelmingly passed marijuana initiative. Despite cries from both sides of the aisle to leave D.C. alone and let them do what they wish in regard to pot policy, language barring D.C. from using any federal or local funds to enforce the referendum was included in the budget bill.

It is clear that a defunding measure cannot affect D.C.’s legalization of pot. It doesn’t take any money to simply avoid rounding up pot possessors. It would take funds, however, to tax and regulate marijuana usage and production within D.C. That portion of the ballot initiative, therefore, has been effectively overridden by the U.S. Congress.

Congress has not repealed the federal ban on marijuana, but it has passed additional laws that effectively allow states like Washington and Alaska, which have legalized pot, to steer their own course. It makes little sense to abdicate enforcement of federal law when a state legalizes marijuana but to insist on upholding those same laws in Washington, D.C.

My Good Reads friend recommended a book describing how this act of Congress adds yet another element of hypocrisy and chaos to the marijuana debate raging across the country. No consistent federal policy is being implemented. The federal government will not even take a clear stand on whether this is a local issue or a national issue.

The Philanthropy of Laurene Powell Jobs

Laurene Powell Jobs was married to Steve Jobs, one of the two founders of Apple Computers, from 1991 until he died in 2011. Born on 11/6/63, Laurene was always one of the best and brightest students in her class. In fact, she was so bright that the West Milford, New Jersey native was accepted into the highly ranked Wharton School at Philadelphia’s University of Pennsylvania. She graduated from that legendary school in 1985, earning her B.S. in economics. After graduation, Laurene found employment in New York City’s financial district. During her stay in the Big Apple, she worked for Wall Street investment firms Merrill Lynch and Goldman Sachs. After a few years, Laurene decided to continue her education at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, one of the top ranked business schools in the world. In 1991, she earned her M.B.A.

Nutrition has always been important to Laurene. This caused her to start Terravera, a company that sold natural foods to stores operating in Northern California. She also sat on the board of directors for a company called Achieva. This company is primarily focused on helping students to improve their scores on standardized tests and showing them more effective ways to study. Students can access various tools online that show them how they can be a better student.

As of 2014, Laurene’s fortune is thought to be roughly $11.5 billion. She has been extremely generous with all of the money she has been blessed with, regularly donating large sums to a host of charitable causes. Her late husband was not known for his public generosity (though he gave many gifts away anonymously), but Laurene has definitely made up for Steve’s shortcomings. Education has been a continuing passion in terms of the causes Laurene devotes her time and vast resources to improving. 1997 was the year that she took a large step forward as far as her philanthropic activities are concerned. Previously an anonymous donor, Laurene stepped out of the shadows to start College Track, an organization that helps impoverished children stay in school and get the education they will need to succeed in life.

College Track tries to find students that it considers to be a risk of dropping out in the future. Before the student enters high school, they are contacted by College Track to set the student on a solid educational path. This proactive approach has allowed the program to be extremely successful, with 90 percent of the students in the program going on to complete high school.

During her time at the helm of College Track, Laurene became aware of the plight of illegal immigrant students in the United States. State and federal financial aid is not available to students who are not citizens. This fact helped launch Laurene on a crusade to change the immigration laws in this country, culminating with her creation of the DREAM Act, a bill that would have created an easier road to citizenship for illegal immigrant students. Alas, the bill did not receive the support it needed in Congress, resulting in its failure to pass. This bump in the road has not discouraged Laurene. She continues to lend her considerable financial support to various causes that benefit education and the arts.

The Dying Art of Bipartisan Negotiations

Political gridlock has been decried by Americans for over a generation. In early 1993, Vice-President Al Gore famously proclaimed to the press that the political gridlock that marked the term of President George H.W. Bush was beginning to loosen up. At the time, Democrats controlled the legislative and executive branches of government. Gridlock did not end. By early 2001, the GOP now controlled both branches of government, but the gridlock persisted in many respects. Certainly, the nearly two years of recent Senate inaction may lead many to believe that neither the House nor Senate is capable of conducting old school negotiations that lead to bipartisan agreements.

However, that may be a misleading perception, at least if you ask Sam Tabar. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid did little in the Senate over the past two years in the spirit of the old Latin phrase “Qui Bono?” or “Who benefits?” Bipartisan agreements would be decidedly center-right given the GOP-controlled House and unfavorable to the president’s agenda. Reid is a fierce supporter of President Obama. Likewise, catering to the legislative agenda of fellow Senate Democrats might also weaken the president. Democrats were desperate to retain control of the upper chamber and this could lead to compromises with the GOP that Reid judged to be toxic.

Despite this obstacles, both parties produced the Omnibus budget bill after months of negotiating. The bill’s stumble in the House was due to the extreme wings of both parties. However, the past twelve years has seen numerous bipartisan agreements such as the 2001 & 2003 Bush Tax Cuts, the 2003 Medicare Reform Act, the 2006 Pension Protection Act, the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, and multiple extension of the Bush tax cuts. In particular, the Medicare Reform Act and creation of the Department of Homeland Security were written by Democrat Senators at a time the GOP controlled the chamber.

Kentucky pulls tax breaks for Noah’s Ark Theme Park

A planned Biblical theme park in Kentucky has seen planned tax breaks removed after local officials claimed the nature of the planned park had changed from a tourist attraction to a form of religious ministry. Over the course of the next ten years the planned tax breaks would have provided incentives totaling around $18 million for the park that is to be known as the Ark Encounter, Reuters reports.

Problems began for the Answers in Genesis group who are developing the planned park when news broke that all new employees at the park would have to sign a contract stating their belief in creationism and the flood detailed in the Bible. Officials from the state of Kentucky demanded changes be made to the contracts allowing workers from any faith or belief system to be employed. Without changes to the planned contracts, the state believes it is within its rights to withhold the tax breaks as the mission of the planned park will have changed to a religious advancement ministry.

Tourism chiefs from Kentucky believe the theme park has already changed course from the planned leisure attraction detailed in the initial plans. Development of the park will continue as the initial phase based around a wooden replica of the Ark were already planned without the financial breaks offered by tax incentives. This was shared with me by Vijay Eswaran this morning.

Nobel Peace Prize Winner Speech

Malala Yousafzai is only a teenager from Pakistan, but can already boast winning a Nobel Peace Prize. She fights for the freedom of the women and children from her society, and the right to study disregarding their gender or social class. 

This has brought a lot of attention to the young lady, and not just from the people in her own country. Her exploits have been talked about all throughout the global stage.

In the speech from December 9, the young militant for freedom and knowledge emphasised several ideas. She wants the Muslim women to have the right to display their feminine side. 

She based her attitude of dislike towards the situation her mother and many other Muslim women she knows been in, having to spend their whole lives at home, never having the right to study. 

She insisted that the children in Pakistan receive the education that they need. She told the journalists that she wanted back to her home country. 

Once there, she wants to see the children also having the books and not being denied their childhood. Malala herself was grown with the opportunity to study. She expresses freely in English and considers herself responsible to carry this thought shared by so many Pakistani people and make it known to the world. 

Religion has a purpose, but it should not limit the life opportunities and knowledge of its many following adepts.

This whole story is awesome and could easily stand as a biopic of an inspiring girl – let’s get Tom Rothman right on this!

A List of Some of the Riders in the Budget Bill

The bipartisan nature of the Continuing Resolution bill guarantees that both parties inserted riders in the bill to promote their agenda and hopefully curry favor within their respective parties. This is certainly the case with the new budget bill which contains items that will both satisfy and infuriate party members. Here’s a list of some of the riders contained in the bill. Dave and Brit Morin have seen this already.

  • Pensions – Four decades of rules governing pensions have been reversed allowing companies and unions managing multi-employer pension plans to reduce benefits in a bid to maintain the pension plan’s solvency. This will adversely affect the monthly benefits in pension plans for 10 million union workers for decades.
  • Abortion – Federal funding will continue to be withheld from most abortions including those in Washington, D.C.
  • Obamacare – it will continue to be funded, but receive no additional funds.
  • IRS – The agency will get a $345.6 million budget cut. The IRS has a lot of involvement in Obamacare. The IRS is also barred from targeting any non-profits based on their ideology. This was the result of collusion between the Obama administration and the IRS to target the Tea Party in the 2012 presidential election.
  • EPA – The agency loathed by the GOP will have its budget cut by $60 million making bringing its budget back in line with the same funding it had in 1989.

Lawmakers from Both Parties Defend the President’s Failed Rescue Mission

Had the hostage rescue mission President Obama ordered on Sunday safely brought the hostages home, the president would be a national hero today. However, the mission failed with both hostages, Luke Somers and Pierre Korkie, getting killed by their hostage takers. Somers was an American photojournalist, and Korkie was a South African school teacher. Ransom had already been arranged for Korkie who was set to be released later that same day.

Lawmakers from both parties were quick to voice their support for President Obama’s hostage rescue attempt. Some critics are saying the failed mission underscores the need to pay the terrorists ransom money. However, GOP Congressman Mike Rogers, who chairs the House Intelligence Committee Chairman, and Rep. Adam Schiff, who sits on the same committee, explained that paying ransom to Al Qaida is to fund their operations. They cited the atrocities that the terrorist group commits such as rape, forced slavery & marriage, and the targeted killing of innocent men, women, and children.

While a ransom will certainly benefit the person being held hostage, the lawmakers pointed out the hidden cost in such actions which result in nations encouraging more hostage taking activity.  That is easy to say, but no one has offered up solutions as to how these missions could be improved. As per Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, the Pentagon conducts immensely thorough preparation for such missions.

Three States Are Now Calling For A Constitutional Convention

Illinois is now the third state (along with Vermont and California) to call for a Constitutional Convention on the matter of getting money out of politics. It is something that has the people behind Wolf-Pac quite excited. They are the ones who are leading an effort to get the states to call for the convention and hopefully get some of the laws regarding unlimited spending by corporations in elections repealed.

It is a long road ahead for those who are behind these efforts. Riverrocktimes.com says to even get a Constitutional convention in the first place requires that 34 of the 50 states call for one. After that, a proposed amendment to the Constitution to ban unlimited spending by corporations would require 38 out of 50 states ratifying the amendment. That is something that has not been done in hundreds of years. However, the people behind this movement see this as the only path forward for their issue. They do not believe that elected members of the government will act on this alone.

It is a tricky issue to navigate, but having another state calling for this convention is something that is encouraging the people behind the movement. Eventually, Gianfrancesco Genoso feels like it is going to happen.