We the People: Lurid entertainment replaces substantive issues in GOP debates

The Republican “debates” are fast becoming lurid reality show entertainment that could make Jerry Springer wince, especially since there are so many important issues to be addressed like dealing with ISIS, restoring stability in the Middle East, maintaining our allies around the world and reducing public spending while increasing private job creation and productivity.

Donald Trump should not be the candidate of the Republican Party but if enough registered Republicans select him, then the party power brokers shouldn’t “steal” the nomination through a brokered selection in the convention. Not a single candidate for the GOP has displayed any of the characteristics or strengths that the leader of the free world needs to lead the nation and deal with the world, except John Kasich.

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have more leadership and command capabilities on their worst day than the three stooges — Moe/Marco, Donald and Curley/Ted — have all rolled into one on their best day. It is frightening to consider one of them in the Oval Office but we should have faith in the innate common sense of the majority of Americans, that no matter what choice they are presented they will make the best of what they have before them.

The Republican candidates insist that as chief executive they can assure the people of the United States all kinds of constitutional promises like two guns in every holster, no woman with decision power over her own body and enough free speech for corporations so that presidential campaigns will rival budget-busting Pentagon expenditures.

What we are witnessing on stage as Trump, Rubio and Cruz childishly squabble in front of an international audience is the culmination of decades of partisan politics and ideological demagoguery.

The Supreme Court will have to function for a time without a full complement of justices as the GOP will assuredly fight to the bitter end to prevent President Obama from fulfilling his mandate to recommend a qualified candidate to replace Justice Scalia to the Senate for approval.

The Supreme Court just heard arguments on reproductive rights for the first time in almost a decade. In the landmark case, Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court held that a woman has a constitutional right somewhere in her right to privacy to make decisions about her body and therefore has a right under certain circumstances to terminate a pregnancy. The decision was understandably controversial and since 1973, anti-choice advocates have tried to limit the right, define it and qualify it in the hope that if abortion cannot be outlawed again, at least it will be significantly limited.

In the past 10 to 15 years, states have collaterally attacked the ability to exercise the right by requiring doctors to have “admitting privileges” with a local hospital before they can treat a woman seeking an abortion. Another regulation would force a clinic to have expensive, hospital-grade equipment and facilities even if not needed for patient safety. The regulations are being challenged in a case before the Supreme Court. Anti-choice advocates have concentrated their energy on the standards for doctors and facilities where a procedure is performed rather than just trying to overturn the Roe v. Wade decision.

The regulations are Republican-backed laws, and in Texas they have forced many clinics to close since 2003. In West Texas, there is an area of territory close to the size of California where a woman will not be able to find a facility to get a procedure. Pro-choice advocates believe the Supreme Court should find the regulations unconstitutional. They contend the laws are really intended to close clinics and make it harder for a woman to end a pregnancy.

Ten other states also require doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges with the local hospital even if they never step foot in it. One strategist cleverly identified this as the best plan “to advance the pro-life cause” and that efforts to ban abortions should be replaced with advocacy for increased clinic regulations that will ultimately shut down the clinic.

The regulations differ from location to location. Some hospitals require the doctor to live within a certain distance from the hospital and to have a minimum number of patients per month.
With Justice Scalia’s death, the Court is changed and it could split 4-4 with a tie votes, with four liberals and four conservatives on opposite sides of the issue. It is possible that conservative Justice Anthony Kennedy, who has supported a woman’s basic right to an abortion, may join the court’s four liberal justices and strike down the Texas regulations.

It would be nice if these issues of policy could be decided by our legislators but when they cannot even get along with each other then there is no chance they can grapple with monumental issues. Hopefully, gun regulations and campaign finance reforms will be considered by the Supreme Court with all nine Supremes on the bench, including President Obama’s latest appointee.

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