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Monday, December 31, 2012


A jump on the fiscal cliff
We’ll begin 2013 like we ended 2012; I think it now that Joe Biden has entered the picture, and we’ll do just enough to keep us from going over the fiscal cliff. The gun issue will be forgotten by the time Joe Biden’s Commission makes its report to the president because that’s the way we roll these days.

I feel sorry for Speaker Boehner, especially after listening to Amy Kremer, chairperson of the Tea Party Express. She said the Tea Party she represents will NEVER vote for a tax increase because we have a spending problem. She cited the numbers we all know by heart, yearly deficits over a trillion dollars and a 16 trillion-dollar debt. The host stunned her when he said allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire will fix the deficit because she obviously didn’t know that extra revenue or spending cuts will reduce the deficit. Amy Kremer then said that states with higher taxes have a higher unemployment rate. That’s true for right down but who thinks that Alabama will outdo California when the economy takes off? Growth, education, infrastructure repair, defense spending or energy investment is of no concern to the Tea Party. The word compromise is not in their vocabulary. After all, of the 234 GOP house seats, President Obama only won 15 of those districts. It will remain that way for least 10 more years because the 30 Republican governors have aligned their congressional district to favor their party. It will remain that way until the next census, which is seven years away.

It’s upsetting (although true) that a deal on January 4 will not affect the markets that much because they have built in an expectation of a non-adaptive government. If Congress does not pass the Farm bill, milk might go up to $7.00 a gallon, the payroll tax is gone, people will not get their unemployment checks, and new markets will finally be convinced that America has a dysfunctional government with no hope in sight. It’s funny how the GOP doesn’t think that allowing the payroll tax to expire is increasing taxes. Raising the Social Security (FICA) to its original 6.2% from the current 4.2% amounts to $1000 for those families making $50,000. I’m glad it expired because we need that extra revenue to fund Social Security during this time of high unemployment.

We’ll have to wait another 10 hours or so but is not as simple as “they knew all this seven months ago and chose not to do anything about it.” They ran into a human nature problem, both political parties that thought they were going to win the White House, so “why buy the cow when you think you can get the milk for free.”

Our hometown newspaper is trying to conjure up a discussion about having armed guards at our schools. I’m not totally against have an armed guard, but I don’t want armed teachers. How will we ever measure the effectiveness of an armed guard? How can you measure the effectiveness of protection against a random mass shooting? This morning’s paper gave an example of an armed teacher averting a potential school shooting, but we also know that Columbine and Virginia Tech had armed guards.

The pro- gun advocates are trying to divert the attention away from guns and put it all on video games, movies and mental illness. I think mental illness funding is a separate issue but I can’t help but think that gun manufacturers love seeing their guns being displayed in video games and movies. I think this issue is about high-capacity ammo clips and the ownership and the registration of semiautomatic weapons. I still think we can do something about 40% of the weapons that are sold without an instant background check.

I hate repeating the same-old topics, and I wish we were like the people in that scene from the movie “We bought a Zoo.” A big tree blew down overnight preventing people from entering the zoo in their cars. The owners of the zoo and its caretakers helped the people climb over the felled tree, thus doing what needed to be done for them to have a successful opening.

Happy New Year everyone.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Enough is Enough II

I’m convinced 2013 will be a repeat of 2012, unless we get beyond ideology and steadfast positions on which they are based on. We have problems coming out of out of our ears, yet some members in Congress are more worried about the voters of Tupelo. Mississippi than they are about the rest of the country. For example, house Republicans are willing to let this country go over the so called fiscal cliff just so their anti-tax record can remain spotless. They don’t care if someone in their district will not get their unemployment check or will pay more income tax for a couple of weeks. You see; they think by voting for a tax cut for 98% of Americans on January 4, 2013; they will fool their constituents. The representatives don’t think much of their constituent’s intelligence.

Our local conservatives seem to think that they know what the founders thought about the Second Amendment. Some will quote George Washington not knowing that in a proper context, he was talking about keeping the British government in check. It’s obvious that the Second Amendment is not absolute, or we wouldn’t have the restrictions that we do. Every letter that I read in our newspaper supporting anti- gun control measures is submitted by someone who uses hyperbole instead of substantiated facts to plead their case. They will lace their letter with name calling, out of context analogies, personal opinions, and a theory that if the Supreme Court would not have ruled for the clause “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion" incidents like the one in Newtown; Connecticut would not have happened. How little faith have thee? God does not take his marching orders from the Supreme Court of the United States.

Jerry Koerth of Yoakum said that he was shocked because everyone doesn’t see that gun control is just another under the table power grab by the crooked liberals in the White House. While it is true that Dianne Feinstein is sponsoring the new ban on semi-automatic weapons; conservative Democrat's senators like Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Mark Warner of Virginia and conservative  talk show host Joe Scarborough are open to her legislation. Republicans talk in awe of former President Ronald Reagan, but they ignore his core beliefs. “In May 1994, the former president joined Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford to support a ban on the future manufacture, sale, and possession of assault weapons. In a letter to the House of Representatives, the three leaders said: "This is a matter of vital importance to the public-safety… although assault weapons account for less than 1 percent of the guns in circulation, they account for nearly 10 percent of the guns traced to crime." They continued: "While we recognize that assault-weapon legislation will not stop all assault-weapon crime, statistics prove that we can dry up the supply of these guns, making them less accessible to criminals… We urge you to listen to the American public and to the law enforcement community and support a ban on the further manufacture of these weapons."

I have yet to hear logical explanation of why one needs a high-capacity ammo clip, silencer, or a semi-automatic assault like weapon? All I hear is a misinterpretation of the Second Amendment or some paranoid feeling of government gun confiscation, without any facts whatsoever. I would also like to know why politicians are so scared of an organization like the NRA who only has a little over four million members. We don’t need government; a local grocery chain in Los Angeles California instituted a buyback program; gift cards for guns. As of yesterday, they collected 901 handguns, 698 rifles, 363 shotguns and 75 assault weapons. Similar programs are being conducted throughout the nation. Sandy Hook was the tipping point because the feeling to do something about the mass killings has been brewing for a long time.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Plan B?

Speaker the House John Boehner just held a press conference where he said that this evening his caucus would pass a bill that will raise taxes on those making one million dollars or more but no spending cuts.  He called that Plan B, and he said that he was well aware that it's dead-on  arrival when it reaches the Senate.  He said the Republicans had done their part now it's the Senate Democrats and the president to do theirs, or they will be blamed to for our country going over the fiscal cliff.  Who's he listening to?  Is it the same posters who told them that Romney was going to win by a landslide?

The GOP's latest plan would retain the tax rates on dividends, capital gains, and the Estate Tax but would have an Alternative Minimum Tax patch.  It's basically the Bush tax cuts except for those people who make more than a million dollars a year.  They're not asking for tax cuts right now, because they are going to wait so they can use the debt ceiling as a bargaining chip.  That won't work because they will take the full blame if we go over the financial cliff. Honestly, it's better going over the fiscal cliff than to accept Plan B.

The GOP legislators live in their own bubble thinking that their views are shared  by the masses. They are in denial. According to the latest CNN poll “Fifty-three percent of people, including 22 percent of Republicans, said the GOP's views and policies have pushed them beyond the mainstream. The number is up dramatically from previous years. In 2010, fewer than 40 percent thought the party was too extreme.
Democrats were considered to be a "generally mainstream" party by 57 percent in the new poll.

"That's due in part to the fact that the Republican brand is not doing all that well," said <> Keating Holland, CNN's polling director.

Americans also say that they have far more confidence in President Barack Obama than in congressional Republicans, and that Republicans should compromise more in finding bipartisan solutions.

The president ran for two years on the threshold of where people were assured that their taxes would not go up was set at $250,000. Recently, he said that he would consider raising that amount to $400,000 if more revenues were included, and the debt ceiling would be extended to two years. The president even considered calculating the Social Security cost of living adjustments in a different way which mean recipients would see a cut in their benefits.  The president is catching a lot of flak from his more liberal base, but Nancy Pelosi is still is supporting him and recently said that she could bring enough votes to broker a deal.

Some conservative Republican locals believe their own press clippings.  For instance, Raymond Smith said that conservatives wanted smaller government and low taxes whereas Democrats wanted socialism.  Where have we heard that before?  I am enclosing some charts Raymond, and his ilk will never look at nor do they want to. They probably even skip over the articles in the right-wing  blogs like Towhall where John C. Goodman wrote, “So who is to blame for this state of affairs? Lyndon Johnson, of course, gave us Medicare, Medicaid and the rest of the Great Society. But when Johnson left office, these programs were relatively small. The main expansion came under Republican presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. Not only, that, the expansions were largely the result of executive orders! That is, they didn't have to happen.

The growth of the entitlement state moderated somewhat under presidents Carter, Reagan, and George H.W. Bush. Because of welfare reform under Bill Clinton, there was actually the prospect of some contraction. But during the presidency of George W. Bush, Republicans pushed for a new drug benefit under Medicare with a huge unfunded liability - greater in fact than the unfunded liability under Social Security.”

The Treasury Department and the president have a lot of power at their disposal to keep the costs of going over the fiscal cliff at a minimum so it might be best to call the GOP's bluff. They obviously didn't hear the voices of the elections nor do they care what the polls say, so they may only be one alternative.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Enough is Enough

After watching the Sunday talk shows ,it was comforting to know that people on both sides of the gun control issue want to come together to find a path forward in trying to curtail the senseless killings. The pro- gun advocates want to make violent movies and video games, treating the mentally ill, and breaking away from the special interest groups as part of the conversation. I wanted to hear what our pro- gun politicians had to say. Meet the Press invited 31 pro- gun senators to appear on their show but they all declined. Fox News was left with Tyler Texas’s wing-nut Representative Louis Gohmert, to make a case for more guns but that went over like a lead balloon and his words will probably be used by the late night comics.

The same talking points don’t have the impact they once had because this time we’ve had enough. Connecticut ranks fifth as far as strict gun controls goes, the Sandy Hook school was as secure as any school in America. The guns were purchased legally, so there’s not a lot to be done to correct this particular situation. That doesn’t mean that we forget the other places of mass violence and just yesterday a man was arrested in the Indiana, who had 47 guns and threaten to shoot up a school.

New York’s Mayor Bloomberg said that 77,000 individuals tried to illegally purchase a gun but the Feds are slow in going after these people. Enacting new state laws won’t mean much if they don’t have the support of the Federal government because there is the issue of the constitution.

It’s been estimated that 40% of illegal gun sales are done at unregulated gun shows. These are measures that are easy to correct were it not for fear of political repercussions. The talk shows pointed that out, as if the Democrats were the only ones afraid to take action. This time it’s different; Senator Feinstein said she will dust off her old “assault weapon ban” and present it to the senate just as soon as Congress reconvenes. You’ll be surprised how many people won’t mind taking those deemed military style weapons, off the market. There’s no appetite for confiscating those that already out there, just the future manufacturing, sales, and importation of those weapons for civilian use.

I heard that we have 200 million guns in the United States but only four years of ammunition. The second amendment is not absolute; perhaps a high surtax on the bullets is an answer; as was once suggested by the late Senator Moynihan.. The gun enthusiast need not fear because the Supreme Court has proved time after time that the second amendment will be up held and it should be. The right of self- protection is a right we all endear but show me one case where an AR 15 was used for self -protection.

Treating mental illness should be front and center because as a pundit said this morning “ what kind a country are we living when it’s easier to buy an assault weapon than it is to get an appointment to treat mental illness.” Restoring funding to treat mentally illness should be a priority and a very important tool in getting a handle on all the violence.

I don’t know what role of violent movies and video games play but I imagine it affects the more vulnerable. As a kid, I remember watching “The Lone Ranger” and playing cowboys and Indians where playacting or not; killing was part of the game. I’ll leave that to the experts because I don’t know how realistic the games are these days or what impact it has.

 Whenever action we do take; it has to be comprehensive and not just excuse to go after the gun lobby. We’ll hear that we can’t stop all the violence, and that’s true but that’s no reason to sit on our hands and say “that’s just part of life these days.”

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Lincoln: A movie worth watching

I’m not an avid movie goer or critic but I’ve been waiting for this movie for a long, long time because pundits have talked about what the movie means to them. I’ve always loved history, so I knew I was going to love this movie. The movie did not disappoint.

I didn’t want anything to deprive me of seeing this movie even though it’s the first time since I’ve been married that I’ve attended a movie by myself. I got online yesterday and ordered my ticket for the early showing just in case it was sold out. Once inside I realized that the movie was not going to be sold out; I settled in with the other 50 people and watched the movie in comfort; trying not to think about the $9.75 that I paid for a small popcorn and drink..:-)

I wish I would have read the book the movie was based on, because it would have given me more background on who Preston Blair, William Steward, Thaddeus Stevens and others were and the role they played on passing the 13th amendment. I liked the backroom deals that were made to secure some votes but today we chose to give “pork barrel” deals a bad name. The movie emphasized the importance of not letting the “perfect be the enemy of the good.” I was setting pretty well near the top but I could still hear a woman from down below say “vote yes” as the politicians were casting their votes for the 13th amendment.

In the perfect world we could require all 535 members of Congress to watch the movie because believe it or not, the legislators back then were much more rowdy and predictable than our politicians could ever get away with. The movie could show today’s lawmakers what they could become were it not for cameras. It could also show that we can take any word or phrase and invoke praise or demonetization from it. I will be reminded of this movie when Congress brings up comprehension immigration reform, just as soon as this fiscal cliff mess is over with. Like in this movie, the arguments will be made based on people’s theories and not on the facts that are presented for a vote.

Abraham Lincoln will always be one of my favorite presidents because he came from humble beginnings and he never forgot that. He understood others better than they understood themselves. Some have said he was a racist but others say he was just a man of his time and a visionary. He, by his own admission was a strange man and several books that have been written about him; reflect that. During the most intense fighting of the Civil War, President Lincoln spent a good deal of his time handing out federal jobs to his opponents because he didn’t want to leave any stone unturned to secure the votes to pass the 13th amendment. The movie shows where Lincoln lies, cheats, tiptoes around legality, and wonders out loudly how much power the president of United States really has under the constitution. I would much rather have these versions of history than the superficial one I was taught in school.

It has been said that President Lincoln did not free the slaves but I disagree with that theory because he signed the Emancipation Proclamation which was the prerequisite to the 13th amendment. The Emancipation Proclamation was at first a military order, then a law passed by Congress freeing all slaves in the confederate states. Lincoln said if the confederacy considered slaves property, then the northern forces had the right to confiscate property and thereby free them.

Abraham Lincoln was considered a partisan Republican but he was not an ideologue. In 1861, Lincoln imposed the first federal income tax by signing the Revenue Act to pay for the Civil War. Lincoln and Congress agreed to impose a 3 percent tax on annual incomes over $800. He also was the first to make low cost housing available with his Homestead Act. He also used government support to build the, Transcontinental Railroad against opposition from the southern congressman. He was a president who knew the true meaning of government “We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this constitution for the United States of America.”

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Let the women negotiate a deal

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Senators Claire McCaskill and Susan Collins said if we had more women in Congress, we would have a deal right now, because women know how to compromise. I believe that. What we have now is a battle of male egos trotting out their same old talking points hoping that this time, they will stick. The media encourages it because they think that Obama has to give John Boehner enough for him to hang his head high; regardless of what it does to our economy. I'm sorry but elections have consequences and to the “victor goes the spoils” because that's what the American people voted for. We didn't have that in 2009, so the president had to suffer the consequences of obstruction.

I saw a couple letters this morning describing the fiscal cliff as being an easy fix. Nothing could be further from the truth because of the time restraints and the elephant in room that no one wants to discuss. That elephant in the room is the impending debt ceiling crisis. The White House doesn't want to make a deal to get us through this year but then have to fight the opposition again in February over something that is much more crucial; paying our bills that we have already incurred. The two letters centered on taxes and spending but, unless we have some incentives for growth, education, infrastructure, jobs and innovation; we're just spinning our wheels. Republicans want to forget that the Democrats gave in to one trillion dollars in spending cuts in the last fight over increasing the debt ceiling. There's not a lot more that can be had in non-defense discretionary spending. The president said he's not going to have that fight anymore and I don't blame him because the world markets think that we're ridiculous for having that fight. The GOP forgets that they are responsible for some of that debt that we have to pay. That's not to say that they can't fight to cut spending during the budget battles.

It's my opinion with exceptions of course; women are much more honest when it comes to negotiating. They're much more adept in calling a “spade a spade” than men are. At the same time, they don't think having compassion is a weakness. I saw an example of this when Mica Brzezinski practically called Governor Rick Snyder of Michigan a liar ,when he said that the bill he recently signed was not anti- union but more pro worker. It gave the panel more room to call out the governor for trying to sugarcoat his actions. The governor said that the bill would lead to more jobs in Michigan but the 23 states that have right- to -work laws do not prove that. He cited the neighboring state of Indiana, who passed a bill similar to his right- to- work law and that state saw an increase in 30 companies coming to their state. He doesn't see the animosity it will create between the “free riders” and those who pay their union dues. The governor conveniently left out the fact that people like the Koch brothers love non- union states. The people for “Americans for Prosperity” were not out in full force to defend workers' rights.

I can't see why people want us to win the “race to the bottom” that began the year we started outsourcing. I don't think that we have to continue lowering wages and benefits just to keep companies in America but we'll never know unless we have access to all their financial records. Major League Baseball and the NFL were grossly underpaying their players. It seems to me "If owners make representations that they're losing money or that they can't afford a certain term in the collective bargaining agreement, then they're obligated to prove their assertion. “We applaud world-class companies like Caterpillar coming into our community bringing in $12.00 an hour jobs. We're part of the corporations union busting tactics but we're willing accomplices because we need the jobs. There's no easy answer but I still can't see why government should be able to stick its nose in the private sector's labor negotiations.

Monday, December 10, 2012

It’s just about cost shifting for the GOP

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You don't have to be a genius to figure out what's behind the GOP's reluctance to raise the rates of the top 2%. It's a 40 year plan of reducing the government's role in our lives by starving it to death. If we only cut out the loopholes and deductions, it would hit some in the middle class and then they too would be clamoring to cut more spending. Raising the tax rates to that of the Clinton era would buy us the time to come up with a manageable reform of the entitlements and it would force us to look at the wasteful defense spending. That's the reason the GOP wants to raise the Medicare eligibility age to age 67. Even though that two year cost shifting will not amount to much; it's a start.

The conservatives I see and listen to, whether it be locally or on the television do not want government to provide social services or anything beyond the necessities because they feel it's coming out of their personal pocket. They usually have a different opinion of what “we the people” means because their world is composed of “makers and takers.” That's why we always reach an impasse when both parties try to negotiate.

This can also be seen on the social level where a local land/building owner decided he couldn't in good conscience allow a pharmacist to continue to sell the Plan B on a piece of property he owned. The pharmacist  couldn't just tell his customers that they don't carry the “morning after pill “so now we have a full blown  political argument It's an unwinnable argument because the land owner probably thinks that the day after conception, the embryo is entitled to a Social Security number and property rights. Good luck having that argument.

This morning Joe Scarborough tried to make a case for conservatism, by saying that creating an era of dependency only hurts the poor. I'm not arguing with the statement as a whole but I don't think that's necessarily a view that's held only by conservatives. Joe Scarborough doesn't see that income inequality continues to create a low wage population. The GOP continues to try to dismantle the unions, the minimum wage, and laws which will help workers get into the middle class. He quoted a story in the New York Times where the Appalachian families were encouraging their offspring to remain illiterate, so they could get SSI checks. That's a practice that should be stopped but is that the exception rather than the norm and what's the ratio of investigators to SSI abuse cases?

Joe Scarborough said that President Ronald Reagan brought in conservatism just as people were getting tired of liberalism. The conservatives had a good 10 year reign until conservatism became a business (talk radio, selling books) and then radicalism took the place of good ideas. I tend to agree with that. I've quoted good republican ideas like the “Clean Air Act,” the EPA, Cap & Trade and most recently the “individual mandate.” Today, it's more about individualism than what we can do collectively. The GOP is going through an internal struggle like the democrats did after the 2000 election but on a much broader scale. It wasn't hard for the democrats to become more inclusive because all they had to do was accept fiscal conservative Democrats. The GOP is using the threat of a primary to rein in those who dare to compromise. We’ll see who wins the war between the Wall Street Journal who's arguing for more conservative purity or the Weekly Standard who making a case for taking what you can get and becoming a party for the future.

Friday, December 7, 2012

It’s policy- not gender or skin color

The recent departure of Senator DeMint left a 2- year vacancy that has to be filled by the governor of South Carolina until the people of that state elects a replacement in 2014. It's a legitimate topic of discussion but South Carolina is a very conservative state, so it shouldn't be a surprise when republican Governor Nikki Haley appoints someone who shares the same views as Senator DeMint. She could appoint herself to that position and it would be considered an astute move on her part.

This morning Joe Scarborough said that Tim Scott, an African American legislator from South Carolina, would be an ideal choice because it would fill in the race void the GOP has. It's hard to believe that we are in the 21st century but some are still espousing 20th century views. Joe was so proud of his statement that he seemed to expect that Representative Emanuel Cleaver and liberal columnist for the Washington Post Eugene Washington would agree with him just because they happened to be black. Representative Cleaver told him that Tim Scott held the same views as Senator DeMint but he was a nice man who didn't engage in the crazy talk as the former senator did. It's about policies, votes, and perceptions; not optics. For example, some operative from the Democratic Party dropped a hint that San Antonio mayor, Julian Castro, might run with Hillary Clinton in 2016. That was just a political ploy to muddy the waters for the pundits who think that the GOP having Marco Rubio in a leadership role will sway the Hispanic vote. The Democratic Party can't take minorities for granted but their policies are more suited for that constituency and you won't hear the harsh rhetoric coming from their party representatives.

I shook my head in amazement when John Boehner chose his committee leadership team and could not find one qualified woman or minority to fill any of those posts. They lost the female vote by 11 points but chose to use the same seniority system as always. Media pressure forced the speaker to appoint Rep. Candice Miller (R-MI) to lead the House Administration Committee but she was more qualified to head the more important Homeland Security Committee. The GOP should learn from the business world; seek diversity..... not window dressing.

Towards the end of the program (Morning Joe) this morning, Joe Scarborough said that the GOP should be the worker party instead of the boss party. That's all well and good but he didn't say anything negative about Michigan's republican Governor Rick Snyder cramming through right- to- work legislation yesterday. One of these days Joe Scarborough might come to realize, the middle class is not about low capital gains and dividends rates but is more about mortgage interest deductions, and child and education credits. The country no longer wants to repeal Obamacare (49% against, and 32% for repeal) so it's time to enact legislation to make it stronger, more affordable and accessible. The rich will do just fine with the higher rates and the business CEOs just told the administration that they're fine with higher taxes but they needed certainty and a willingness to reduce the deficit and the debt.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Art of Negotiating

GOP blamed more than Obama

Yesterday I watched Joe Scarborough of “Morning Joe” throw a hissy fit because the president's first offer to the republicans was a nonstarter. This morning he called John Boehner's counteroffer ridiculous but he left it at that. The panel kept reminiscing about the glory days of negotiations between Tip O'Neill and Ronald Reagan. Joe Scarborough wants President Obama and John Boehner to lock themselves in a room at Camp David and hammer out a deal. He discounts the fact that the president tried that method but came out on the losing end of the deal. The president wants to use his strength and take his case to the American people where he's winning public opinion, even though it doesn't necessarily get him the 218 votes he needs to pass a bill.

Political posturing is called “sausage making” because it doesn't look pretty but it's a necessary step to get the job done. Republicans are calling for the president to step up and lead in the negotiations but that is just a way of them saying that this president does not have any leadership skills. The president's plan was put on the public airways and it's on the White House web site, so the starting point has been established. It's fairly certain that the president will be front and center when the serious negotiations start.

It was mentioned that the republicans might let the 98% of Americans tax plan to pass without their help. They will vote “present” and allow the democrats to pass it thinking it will keep their hands clean because the marginal rate for the top 2% will be raised. That way they could tell their constituents that they allowed the bill to pass under protest. There's that other plan that Nancy Pelosi might use to get a bill to the floor if she can garner the necessary 218 votes. Either plan would get John Boehner off the hook with his more conservative caucus because it will be seen as being out of his hands.

There is strong talk that a deal may be made by the 23rd because it would look bad if Congress went on Christmas vacation while the fiscal cliff crisis loomed ahead. Some think it John Boehner will hold out to last possible minute (Dec. 31st) before surrendering the marginal rates saying he chose country over party loyalty. That might get him through the day but everyone knows he wants to be the speaker of the 213th Congress but he won't get if he is seen as caving in to President Obama too soon.. His base can read the tea leaves but they want him to fight to the end.

You might ask why it has to be so difficult and the answer is polarization. The final vote tally is in and the president will end up winning by 4.6 million votes. The president only won 23 counties, the red states got redder, so at the current pace that means that the gerrymandered districts will always favor a GOP controlled house but the democrats will have the senate and the presidency, unless there's a dramatic shift. I don't see any changes anytime soon and it might get worse before it gets better. For example, the runner up to Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, will now write articles for the extreme right wing conspiratorial website WorldNetDaily (WND). Then there is the Grover Norquist threat of a Tea Party 2.0 if the president gets what he wants. Grover is one on those people who thinks he is winning no matters how many times he loses. He reminds me of a spoiled brat.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Well said Mr. Costas

Instead of paraphrasing the words of Bob Costas, (Because I couldn't do it justice) I cut and pasted his exact words. I think it's about time a personality of his caliber, used a national platform to say the words many of us have been afraid to.

Last night and Bob Costa used his halftime of the Dallas Cowboys- Philadelphia Eagle game to answer a piece by Fox Sports columnists Jason Whitlock. Mr. Whitlock and thought it was inappropriate for the KC Chief to play their game Sunday after one of their players killed his wife and himself into a domestic dispute. Mr. Costas said “I would argue that your rationalizations speak to how numb we are in this society to gun violence and murder. We've come to accept our insanity. We'd prefer to avoid seriously reflecting upon the absurdity of the prevailing notion that the second amendment somehow enhances our liberty rather than threatens it.

How many young people have to die senselessly? How many lives have to be ruined before we realize the right to bear arms doesn't protect us from a government equipped with stealth bombers, predator drones, tanks and nuclear weapons?

Our current gun culture simply ensures that more and more domestic disputes will end in the ultimate tragedy, and that more convenience-store confrontations over loud music coming from a car will leave more teenage boys bloodied and dead."

I'm not for enacting any more laws; just changing the mindset. Many of us will no longer drive a vehicle after we've had a few drinks nor we nor will we allow our friends and loved ones to. That wasn't always the case. We're starting to accept all the gun violence as collateral damage in order to save our so-called Second Amendment rights.

There was another black teenager murdered in Jacksonville Florida where the man accused of the shooting will try to use the controversial “Stand Your Ground law” to be acquitted. The man accused of the senseless murder said he saw one of the four teenagers going for a gun, yet the Jacksonville police never found one. I hate loud music and I think these people who play loud music are rude and selfish but taking out a gun in protest shouldn't even be considered a sane response. We shouldn't be surprised that “going for your gun is the first reaction” when our legislators are passing laws to allow people to carry guns to their church, classroom, courthouse, and state house.

We have been led to believe that it's never the right time to have that conversation because “guns don't kill people… people do.” We've also been led to believe that it's beyond our power to prevent the mentally ill from obtaining guns. It's an uphill battle because those who believe that the right to bear arms is in jeopardy won't accept the data that proves that the United States of America continues to have more guns per capita than any other country in the world.

Mr. Costas was criticized for stating his political views in an entertainment venue.  I don’t agree with the criticism but I’m open to a different viewpoint.  I know I don’t like to hear political viewpoints during a football game but I don’t think a plea for sanity is political. What do you think?

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Post Mortem Myths

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Howard Weise's letter -to- the- editor gave me what I've been wanting for. He wrapped up all the republican talking points in one neat package. He represents how most republicans think from what I gather. I'm in Howard’s corner and I hope he keeps believing what he's writing because it only means that his party will continue to lose presidential elections. Republicans have not received 51% of the votes since 1988.

He titled the letter "Democrats want us dependent on government." I don't think Mr. Weise is ready to give up his Social Security and Medicare and I seriously doubt if a tornado struck Yorktown, he would refuse help from FEMA. The appropriate title would have been “Democrats are not anti- government.” As it is right now, Democrats will fight to keep the entitlements and the safety net and Republicans will fight for tax cuts for the rich and a healthy defense budget.

Mr. Weise used the same talking points what some diehard republican legislators have been saying for the past four years “we have a spending crisis not a revenue crisis.” They believe the GOP didn't need to pay for the two wars or the prescription drug bill which is 60% of our deficit. I don't know if Mr. Weise  knows that Present Obama can't spend a dime that the GOP controlled House of Representatives doesn't appropriate.

I have never heard a democrat say that taxing the rich would balance the budget  or solves our deficit and debt problems; that's the enablers spin. Democrats realize that we have to cut spending but they can't look their constituents in the eye and tell them “we're going cut your unemployment benefits, entitlements or welfare but we're not going to ask anything of the rich.” It's a last gasp effort to try to convince anyone that the tax rates for the rich do not need to go up. We had an election where the president ran on keeping Bush tax cuts for 98% of Americans and raising the rates on the top 2%. Right now, 67% of Americans does not want Congress to mess with Medicare or Social Security. That old Reagan philosophy of cutting out loopholes, broadening the base and cutting taxes has run its course.

Today our jobs deficit trumps our budget deficit, so that's the reason the president is asking for extra stimulus.

Did you notice where Mr. Weise  uses the old GOP talking points “makers and takers” and conveniently uses the recipients of Medicaid and unemployment benefits as a scapegoat? Its voters like Mr. Weise, that Mitt Romney's 47% comment appealed to. He doesn't realize students, the elderly, the returning vets, and those who were laid off took offense to those statements. I know Mr. Weise's, he's not a rich man and he's probably in the 47% but hasn't done the math.

The letter writer wonders why the president was reelected. It's true unemployment was at 7.9% but people knew what the president inherited, and they knew how the GOP obstructed his efforts every chance they could. The GOP had a clown show in the primaries and the person they elected to run against the president did not have core beliefs. The rhetoric from Mitt Romney and his party alienated women and minorities. The voter suppression laws enacted by GOP governors angered some voters who were going to stay home. One of Mitt Romney's biggest mistakes was not giving specifics. He assured us of 12 million jobs and a 20% tax cut but didn't say how he was going to do it. The days when you can say you are a small government conservative, thinking that will carry the day, are long gone because the people they have alienated; vote.

I'm thinking that Congress will go past deadline that keep us from going over to the so- called fiscal cliff because the republicans know the tax rates on the rich have to be raised. They would rather the president and his party allow them to expire, so they don't have to try to defend holding the tax cuts for 98%, hostage, so the top rates stay the same. Neither party wants to cut Medicare because of the consequences. John Boehner and Mitch McConnell want the Democrats to name the specific cuts in Medicare so they can use it against them; as they tried to do in the election. Neither party is that interested in the deficit or they would let the entire Bush tax cuts expire. Raising the debt limit is the only leverage the GOP has and they know it. That's the reason they are posturing and grabbing the nearest microphone to put the best spin on it. Speaker Boehner can't cut a deal until after January 3, 2013 because that's the day that his party votes to retain him or go with someone else. He can’t do anything to anger the Tea Party caucus.... just yet.

I'm not picking on Howard Weise because he's pretty typical of all the republicans I know. He's typical of those republicans you engage with on Facebook, on the streets or the local forum. Their party didn't do anything wrong in 2008 or 2012, those 332 electoral votes and the 63,742,092 people who voted for Obama just wanted free stuff. You keep believing that; and every four years Howard will write his same letter and watch as another democrat gets sworn in.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

It’s more of the same but it’s being repackaged

The fiscal cliff continues to overshadow a problem that would remain with us even if we get a bipartisan agreement to start getting our fiscal house in order. If we don't start to do something about income inequality; we will continue to have fiscal cliffs.

The corporate philosophy during the post-war era was to produce enough income to be able to share a sizable share of the wealth with their employees. Company loyalty was a plus and much of their gains were used build new plants, invest in the newest technology and hiring new employees. Today, those same corporations only allegiance is to their shareholders. Corporate CEOs are driven to increase the bottom line to make their shareholders wealthy. In turn, they are given lucrative stock options and benefit packages.


The nation's largest private employer is Walmart but it also continues to be the worst company to work for, when you compare their worker's pay and benefits to the company's profits. They're not ashamed of the negative publicity and they proved it this Thanksgiving, by taking away a holiday from their employees just to hear the ringing of the cash registers. It's not that Walmart had to take those measures to remain profitable because Costco continues to pay their employees more than $20.00 an hour and provides them with good benefits and health care. Costco still has the post-war era corporate philosophy because to them; employee turnovers are costly and unnecessary.

The politicians in Washington are fiddling around the edges in trying to come up with a plan that will not hurt their reelection prospects. It shouldn't be a secret that eliminating loopholes and capping deductions for the wealthy will not get you close to $800 billion, so marginal tax rates will have to be raised on the rich. I think a deal could be made by raising the marginal rates by 3% and increasing the capital gains rate by 5% for now. The entitlement cuts will be a little more difficult because I can't see how you would cut spending on the beneficiaries. There's talked of rising the Medicare requirement age to 67 but I would only be for that only after the Affordable Care Act makes it a seamless transition. I don't think it makes sense to have 65 year old go two years without health insurance. I think it's wise to give waivers to those who work in the more labor intensive jobs.

I'm not that impressed that seven republicans have vowed to break the Grover Norquist pledge of never raising taxes, to keep from going over the fiscal cliff. The senate already has a bipartisan bill that retains the Bush tax cuts for 98% of the people. The challenge will be in the House of Representatives where the GOP currently has a 50 seat margin. The 88 Tea Party members think they have a mandate not to raise taxes or the debt ceiling. We have to remember that not raising taxes is a core principle belief for most republicans. Let's just say that 100 republicans will not vote for a tax increase under any conditions; that leaves 141 republicans to get the 27 votes from (if all the 191 democrats vote yes) to pass a bill. Nearly all of the 141 republicans will not be challenged by democrat but they will be challenged by a more conservative republican.

I'm hoping the marginal rate for those making more than $250,000 gets raised to 39% and hedge fund managers get taxed at ordinary rates rather than the capital gains rate. I don't want to punish wealth but the wealthy will still go out and work just as hard for a 70% profit as they did for an 85% profit. It's been proven that higher tax rates will make the wealthy will keep more money in their companies to make it more profitable rather than buying more expensive toys.

We are a consumer driven economy, so we will remain stagnant unless employees have more money to spend.Oh yes, higher wages will be passed onto other consumers but according to a study I saw, that would only be about $171 yearly. If you believe we are all in this together, then it's well worth the extra cost when you consider the alternative.

My sympathies don't lie with corporations because they are doing quite well and they have most of America fooled. The corporations have gotten out of costly pensions; they weren't fully funding anyway and have gone 401ks. The average worker today will never retire if we don't do something about income inequality. It’s been proven that workers aren’t good investors, so they will never accumulate the funds necessary to retire in comfort. There is so much I could tell you about 401ks but it would take another blog. For example, it worked for me but we were in a bubble when I made all my gains and by a streak of good luck, I converted those gains to IRAs before the bubble burst.

If we don't want any form of socialism, then we need to do something about plutocracy. I'm all for market based solutions but if three million people have 99% of the wealth, that system alone is unsustainable. Redistribution is not a bad word if it's used in proper context.

I feel much better now, because writing this blog allows me to release all the frustration I held over Thanksgiving weekend. I wanted to write about the housing crisis but I’ll save it for another time but when someone tells me that all our problems are because of President Obama, welfare or undocumented workers; don’t be surprised if I unload the rest of my frustration.

Monday, November 19, 2012

It’s been 3 weeks now

It's going on three weeks now but I can't remember a time in my life when I've seen as much resentment to the results of a presidential election from the losing side. I've seen petitions for sessions filed in all 50 states, I also heard of a woman who tried to run over husband because he didn't vote for Romney, a Montana lawmaker (Ron Paul fan) asking to be paid in gold because he lost faith in our currency and then there were those students at the University of Mississippi who burned Obama signs. I can't remember democrats doing any of those things when our candidate lost.

We've gotten to the point to where we consider the protest nonsense a common occurrence and the talk shows hardly mention them. The talk shows are more interested in the future of the new GOP, the fiscal cliff and who knew what and when, in the Petraeus and Benghazi incidents.

The subjects that I mentioned and were all discussed without any general consensus.

This morning David Gregory came up with theory about Benghazi which I haven't heard before but I believe it has a lot of truth to it. I believe senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain hate the administration's policy of having a small footprint in Libya. They wanted a larger military presence in North Africa, Iraq and Afghanistan. "There was already bad blood between U.N. Secretary Susan Rice and John McCain over us leaving Iraq. She also mocked McCain's trip to Iraq ("strolling around the market in a flak jacket"), called his policies "reckless" and said "his tendency is to shoot first and ask questions later. It's dangerous."Today John McCain is the highest-ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, but he will no longer hold that position after January because he has been termed out. That's why he wants a brand new Watergate style committee but his colleagues don't see a need for that. I also believe that the CIA was involved in illegal activities and the terrorist attack in Benghazi blew their cover. I don't agree with Senator Graham's point about the administration doctoring the talking points to give the president a political edge. I believe anybody that can read a newspaper knew that the raid on the consulate in Benghazi was a terrorist attack and selective talking points from the White House were not going to change anyone's minds. Again, anyone with a brain knows that elements of Al Qaeda will be around for a long time despite the president's efforts to kill more of their leaders. The American people are not as gullible as some try to make them out to be. If the president withdraws the nomination of Susan Rice to be the next secretary of state; this issue will go away.

The panel on "Morning Joe" tried to make Nancy Pelosi's reluctance to give an inch on and raising the tax on the top 2% as part of the problem. Even Glenn Hubbard, Mitt Romney's top economic adviser, now says the wealthy need to pay more in taxes as part of a budget settlement. Raising the top rates 3or 4% for the top 2% will raise the necessary revenues for a short term fix. The market's just want to see the framework for a solution that doesn't send us back into a recession. The legislators will not have time to tackle a tax reform plan in the lame duck session. The emphasis still needs to be on jobs and growth and reforming Medicaid and Medicare. Once the economy comes back, the American people will have to decide how to pay for the goodies we want. Taxes will inevitably have to be raised on the middle class as part of the solution but not right now.

The trickle down supply side economic theory has run its course and so has the" makers and takers" mantra. I don't think it's going to be easy to convince the GOP constituencies that 47% of American citizens are not lazy or do not want to be productive. There's too many people like Representative Paul Ryan who preach “if you do all the right things, you too can be successful like me" not knowing all the barriers that face the most vulnerable in our society. I was surprised to hear an entrepreneur of a multimillion dollar company say that he needed government resources to pay for job training or else he would have to shut down. I can remember when corporations paid for job training, benefits and still offered a pension.

I'm fairly confident that a bargain will be struck between the political parties to avert our current fiscal cliff but it will be eventually replaced with a brand new one.

I’m reading a good book which I received for my recent birthday called “Who Stole the American Dream?" By Hedrick Smith. The book is about the steps big businesses took to take the reins of economic prosperity away from the middle class. Big businesses got together to form strong lobbyist groups to counter the strong worker unions of the 1970s. They lined the pockets of the politicians who would go out and try to convince us that there was such a thing as " clean coal" and energy efficient corn ethanol. Meanwhile they got out of their union contracts with new lenient bankruptcy laws. They then replaced, pensions with 401K's and made their employees pay more for their health insurance and benefits. Today's businesses do not see the value of higher compensation, which reduces turnover costs, increases employee consumption and productivity. We have so many resources that we will always be an economic giant but, unless we raise the minimum wage substantially, we will constantly see the high unemployment figures and slow economic growth. Yes, a tight market usually demands higher wages but the it's a known fact that we need to change our current economic model to one that suits the world we are living in.

Happy Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Secession!..Are you kidding me?

I was willing to allow the Republicans to sulk for while but the media keeps bomb boarding me with stories of a new kinder, gentler GOP who's now willing to compromise. I don't believe a national party can do a 180°in a week's time. It's still the same people in office, and they're still not willing to raise the tax rates on the millionaires and billionaires. They think because they kept the House of Representatives,it  means that people do not want to raise taxes. I'll get back to that later.

Here in Texas, we have a lot of whiners who are acting like spoiled children over the election results. They (about 85, 000) have petitioned the White House for secession, even though our constitution doesn't allow secession. These low information citizens haven't the foggiest idea of what it would mean if they got their way. What they really are saying is that they don't want to live in a country unless a white republican is president. The White House is required to respond to the petitioners who gathered 25,000 signers, so I hope they use some low-level staffer for that purpose.

The GOP wants to ignore the exit poll where 68% said we should raise taxes on the top 2% as part of the plan to avoid going over the fiscal cliff. I still don't think the president has a mandate, but he does have a lot of leverage this time around. I do like the approach he is taking by negotiating from a position of strength. The president has requested $1.6 trillion in tax increases, which is twice the amount of the grand bargain he originally proposed. He would probably settle for $1.2 trillion in tax increases, which is in the middle. The GOP does not want to raise tax rates on the top 2%, even though we would see immediate results if that were to happen. They would rather talk about eliminating loopholes and deductions, which would have to be negotiated over a longer period of time. It's still about the arithmetic because eliminating loopholes will not get to $1.2 trillion of tax increases over 10 years. The extra revenue would have to come from eliminating the home-mortgage deduction and charitable contributions which will in turn hurt the middle class and slow the recent growth of the housing market. If nothing else, the Democrats put taxes back in the conversation because Republicans were trying to make a case that spending was the only problem. I think once we get over the tax increase barrier, it's going to be easier to talk about creating jobs and avoiding the fight over the debt ceiling.

Louisiana governor, Bobby Jindal, said the GOP needs to stop being the “stupid party" and should stop catering to Wall Street and the rich. You can find similar statement from Newt Gingrich and other GOP surrogates, but the fact remains they were the ones leading the march to stupid. Bobbie Jindal pushed creationism on Louisiana schools, and Newt called President Obama “the food stamp president" who had a 'Kenyan, anti-colonial' world view." Paul Ryan said President Obama won because of a lot of urban votes. What's that supposed to mean? It's a known fact that people that live in the big cities outnumber those who live in rural areas. Then again, Paul Ryan says that the GOP has a mandate because they were reelected. I guess that he discounts the fact that the Democrats picked up at least eight seats (and they're still counting in Arizona) and that was against Republicans in gerrymandered districts. Democrats received more than 500,000 more votes than their republican opponents.

The GOP doesn't have a choice but to change because the days of saying, “I’m for smaller government, lower taxes and liberty" will no longer win elections. Voters want more than partisan talking points. The GOP can't just throw out Marco Rubio and expect to get the Latino vote because it's much more than immigration. The GOP lost the Asian vote by a lot, and they're usually conservative and have a high medium income. They also lost the young voter, the Catholic and the moderate voter. Election results are temporary because it was only two years ago that we thought that the Tea Party had a lot of political influence. We also thought that we couldn't beat all the big money for special-interest groups.

We mustn't lose sight that big money did win in downhill elections. It's said that Karl Rove only got his donors, a 1.29% margin on their investment, but that's only in the senate and presidential election. We didn't discuss global warming  at all or Afghanistan much, so we will continue not having a national discussion on those matters for a while. That suits the defense contractors and those who do not want t curb their greenhouse emissions.

Rand Paul's immigration proposals are to the left of any Democrat because he's insisting on a path to citizenship (with conditions) for the 12, million undocumented people who are already here. As a true libertarian, Senator Paul wants legislation to decriminalize marijuana use. He thinks he will get something done because no one questions his conservative credentials. We'll see.

The local Republicans are pretty quiet, but that's understandable because that's what I did after the 2000 election. The only difference is that I had to accept my minority status in this county, so I lost interest in the local and state issues (if I ever had any) and devoted all my attention on national issues. I accepted the saying that “the pendulum swings both ways" but our local conservatives will never accept that saying. Several local Republicans think that all they have to do is use the word “liberal" in the pejorative and say that they are conservative. That may work in this county but enjoy it while you can because being superior is always subjective.

On a lighter note,it will be interesting to hear from those who went to the see the movie "2016: Obama's America"  and were gullible enough to believe the theme.  Nah,like the Fox viewers they will continue to believe because it's easier than saying " I was wrong."

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Getting Everything off My Chest

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Like the old western cowboy, I was just going to ride into the sunset and forget that I ever took part in the on line political discussions. When I read Mark T. Wayne's letter to the editor and heard what Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh others from the right said, I then thought that I should get everything off my chest before departing. It's good for my blood pressure and excellent for the soul.

It looks like Fox News is going to blame Hurricane Sandy, the mainstream media and people that wanted free stuff from the government who came out in droves to vote. It doesn't matter if Fox News came in15th place out of 26 of polls who tracked the 2012 election. The poll's Fox News usually quote, Rasmussen & Gallup came in tied for dead last. How can that network call Karl Rowe and Dick Morris political experts if they are consistently wrong? I liked it when Megan Kelly asked Karl Rowe if his math was something he "does as a Republican to make himself feel better, or is this real?"..Classic, I guess Fox News wants to maintain a small part of credibility.

Let's discuss the elephant in the room; racial animosity and stereotyping. If you were to play a word association game with a republican, and throw out a word like minority, they would say “handouts." Then you could mention women, and they would say, “free birth control pills." Idiots like Bill O'Reilly and some higher-ups in the Republican Party think all they have to do is put Marco Rubio on the ticket, and the Hispanic vote is in the bag. It's thinking like that will lose them the 29 electoral votes in Florida when the counting is done. They'll ever admit it's the harsh rhetoric, or the fact they can't tell the difference between a Puerto Rican, Mexican-American and Cuban American. It's that kind of thinking that will forever make Florida a purple state. It’s about policies. They failed to see that it doesn't matter if Florida has a Republican governor and a Republican controlled government, the voters will stand in line for 8 hours to overcome their voter suppression laws and they have good memories.

Nationally, there were constant stories of GOP controlled states trying to pass “personhood laws” and other government intrusion laws in an effort to weaken Roe v, Wade. Women got to see where the GOP stood on “equal pay for equal pay” and they made their feelings known Tuesday night.

The 2008 election was supposedly a wake-up call for the GOP, but they thought if they could obstruct, it would slow down the democratic avalanche. The Democrats passed the Affordable Care Act without a single Republican vote, leaving the gate open for the GOP landslide in 2010. The Tea Party gave the GOP the infusion they needed making the party think that they had a mandate to cut spending and taxes during a recession. They made a mistake of not compromising to raise the debt ceiling, so in turn our credit rating dropped and Congress was left in a stalemate. Meanwhile, the Tea Party kept replacing moderate Republicans with unelectable candidates which prevented them from taking over the Senate. I believe that I wrote a blog about the Democrats losing the Senate 'cause it was almost impossible to retain 23 seats while the opposition only had to defend 10. The impossible happened plus two because the Democrats didn't lose a single incumbent seat. The Democrats did pretty well in picking up the house seats they did because they were in gerrymandered districts. Those gerrymandered districts will be redone in the year 2020.

As it often happens, the election of President Obama might save the GOP from going the way of the Whig Party. It might be a good possibility that President Obama might change the makeup of the Supreme Court, which will make the social issues less important at the federal level. The president and the party will make sure that we don't have an unfettered form of capitalism where Wall Street and big oil can run amok. It will be a time to concentrate on upward mobility instead of the other way around. The Republican Party can join the Democrats and bring our troops home from Afghanistan. It is now time to incorporate some good Republican ideas into improving Obamacare. The parties will still have their spirited debates, as well they should but at the end of day, compromise should win out.

If the GOP wants to think it's about the “makers and takers," then they will continue to lose that argument.It’s about all of us being in this together. It will be more of the same if they continue to spout “holier than thou" or  try to defund Planned Parenthood for pure political reasons.

Conservatism is certainly not dead but talk radio, Fox News and the fringe element in the party are misinterpreting the meaning of that ideology. There was a time where “climate change" and "compromise" was part of the conservative movement. It was the Republican Party which gave us the EPA and the Earned Income Tax Credit to get people off welfare and into the working middle class. Yes, you read that right in 1975 the Tax Reduction Act was a Republican program that was devised by conservative stalwart Milton Friedman to eliminate welfare and pay the poor.

No, Mark T. Wayne it's not President Obama, who is causing the division amongst us. It’s people like you who won't accept his legitimacy. You can't accept that there just might be a different and better way to do things in some cases. People like you keep score, but it all goes in the negative column and never offsets with something positive. You don't have to like the president or his policies but don't think for one minute that the division is because of one man who was elected by the majority of voters in the Electoral College and the popular vote. I have never accepted that logic and I never will.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

It’s time to finish what you started Mr. President

At 10:15 P.M., President Obama won Ohio's 18 electoral votes to become the 44th president of United States. Nationally,  it was a great night for Democrats because they held on the Senate and might have picked up a seat. The GOP controlled House of Representatives will still control the purse strings because they were able to keep their seats. It's almost a status quo, but we'll see if a second term for President Obama will cause a change because he certainly doesn't have a mandate, but he was not weakened.

I want to congratulate Mitt Romney for running a great race down to wire and then giving a very gracious concession speech. It was very heartwarming not to hear the boos when Mitt Romney said that he had called President Obama to congratulate him and wish him well.

It was equally heartwarming to hear Obama's crowd of applause when the president praised the mother and father of Mitt Romney for their service. The crowd did not cheer when the president said he will set up a meeting to talk to Mitt Romney to get his thoughts on how we should precede economically.

I hate to say it but MSNBC did a poor job of election coverage because there were too cautious in projecting a winner but I'm sure that was done by the parent company NBC. I got the news about New Jersey and Virginia on my Twitter feed 30 minutes before MSNBC called it, and it went that way for many Senate seats throughout the night. John King of CNN seemed to be more interested in showing how many conservative counties we had across the nation than showing that urban counties always win over the more rural ones. They failed to point out  to their viewers that the demographics are rapidly changing as NBC's Chuck Todd did. I switched over to Fox News, but I was unable to stomach the sour grapes. Karl Rove was arguing in favor of not calling the election for President Obama until they counted all the votes in Ohio, even though the ones to count were in Democratic counties. After realizing that President Obama was going to win, they concentrated on the popular vote which at that time had Romney ahead. Their rose-colored glasses overlooked the fact that California, Oregon, and Washington had not tallied up most of their votes. Fox's News was still trying to make the argument that most of the country did not agree with President Obama.

CNN's Ari Fleischer said that once again that the GOP trotted out a moderate and lost another presidential election. I disagree because Mitt Romney didn't start seeing any movement until he became more centrist and reduced his ultra-conservative running mate, Ryan Paul’s stump speeches in the battleground states. I can't totally disagree with Mr. Fleischer's assessment but would Mitt have won if he hadn't made the 47% comment or suggested that we could let GM and Chrysler go bankrupt? Exit polls showed that 58% of those who voted still blamed President George W. Bush for our weak economy. I'm sure the blame game will be tossed around for several months. The current Republican Party seems to be Harry Reid's best friend because they have lost five winnable senates by running unelectable Tea Party candidates for Senate in the last two years.

Democrats ,it's not the time to gloat because the economic stakes are too high and we need to take heed of the message of compromise. Time after time, the best applause line was when a candidate talked of bipartisanship. It might be time to shake up the house leadership because that's where the Democrats need shoring up. Democrats have to remember that the GOP still has 30 governors and a majority in more state legislators and controls the House of Representatives at the federal level. The Democrats only gave up two of the states that they had in 2008, but Indiana and North Carolina had previously been Republican. Now, the goal is to make Texas a purple state again.

As a president said last night, we need to do something about people waiting for hours and standing in long lines to vote. We can never have a perfect election system, but I didn't hear of any voting irregularities last night. I don't know about any one else, but it feels good to know that you still can't buy an election when the voters don't allow it. We also learned that we can stop talking about 1980, 1992, and the year 2000 because the demographics have changed. We also learned that social issues do not rule the day in a presidential election, and it doesn't pay to irritate 53% of the electorate, which are women. It's now a fact that you can't win a national action with only 29% of Latino vote. And finally, you can't under estimate the influence of Bill Clinton and perhaps Bruce Springsteen. The unions had major part in winning Ohio and Wisconsin.

The election is over and my hobby as a blogger is coming to end. I'm going to stop watching so many political shows because that's all I've been doing since 2007. I will buy the book that's sure to come, describing how the greatest political team in the history of politics won the 2012 presidential election. David Axelrod, David Plouffe, and Jim Messina, took a two-year senator and beat the Clinton machine and then went onto make Barack Obama a two-term president by going against all conventional standards. The team saw the millions of unregistered votes, cataloged them, and came up with a ground effort that beat the opposition's PAC money.

My long crusade for decent and affordable health care for all will not come to end and it's time for Democrats and Republicans to come together to strengthen Obamacare; not repeal it. President Obama proved it's not a losing issue.

My cell phone and e-mails must not be working because I haven't heard from my conservative friends, especially the one that owes me a steak dinner

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

In Memoriam

Rest in peace Mr. John Artero, with an emphasis on the mister, because he showed the same respect to the pauper as he did to the elite of the Hispanic community. My grandmother's home was very typical of the households I used to visit in my youth. They all had a picture of President Kennedy, Pope John, placed just above a recent Artero Funeral Home calendar.

Back in the 60s, it was the trend for teen-age boys to be in a garage type band or form a boy's get together club. I didn't have any musical talent, so together with a few high school friends; we formed a social club. Basically, it was a collective effort to impress chicks. Anyway, our club had meetings, collected dues, and my mother made us Beatle jackets to wear at our social events. We went to dances in Corpus Christi and San Antonio, but we knew our jackets would make us good targets in Houston, so we didn't push it.

One day we decided that we all wanted to be promoters because it had to be easy. We decided to start our venture with a dance at the Club Westerner to promote our club...We knew that we needed a sponsor since we were high school kids. The first person who came to mind was Mr. John Artero. He kindly greeted us with that great big smile and led us to his office. I remember him telling us that he could write us a check, but that would be too easy. He wanted us to write a business plan with a plan A and a plan B, but we also had to commit to sell an X amount of pre- sale tickets...We found out it was a lot of hard work with no immediate benefits. The band we had chosen sold out, so they got their money and the Westerner had the bar sales, so they got theirs but we had to pay the band with very little left over but we still had to be the parking attendants, ticket takers, and janitors at the end of the event...We didn't have time to impress the girls...:-)

I have attended numerous funerals at Artero's (as we affectionately called it), and he would always be at the front door greeting us as if had known us for years. It would always take him several minutes to take his seat at Memorial Stadium because he was smiling and shaking many hands on his way to his seat.

Mr. Artero will be missed, and I can guarantee a very large funeral, and I suspect there will not be a dry eye at the event. It wouldn't surprise me if a street,building or school gets named after him because he had a very positive impact on our community.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Down to the Wire

Could President Obama and Mitt Romney possibly get any closer? The polls suggest not.

This weekend all the political Einstein's provided us with their prognosis for the presidential outcome. It didn't give me any comfort that most of them said President Obama will be reelected because I remember from history “Dewey defeats Truman."

This morning, the general theme was that Obama has a razor-thin lead in the national and the battleground states. I'm waiting for the actual count Tuesday night or perhaps early Wednesday morning. I was getting a headache trying to decipher all of Chuck Todd's political data and map this morning. For example, Obama has a 2-1 lead in early voting but Republicans always cast more absentee votes and traditionally vote on the day of the election. Mitt Romney has a double-digit lead white male vote nationally but in Ohio, Obama leads in the white male vote. Huh? I now believe that poll responders tend to lie a little bit, but I still believe we will know the results of Ohio by just tallying up a few counties. For example, we know that our 77904 zip code will vote 90% Republican. Of course after the election, the first debate, Hurricane Sandy and the praise of Obama's handling of the storm provided by Governor Chris Christie will be evaluated. Fox News & Company thinks the mainstream media gave the president a pass on Benghazi.


I'm glad I left the VA forum because I can imagine that I would have been pretty busy debunking the nonstop partisan comments that have been posted lately.

I don't feel comfortable addressing religious comments because the entire topic is based on a persons' faith and beliefs. I'm not going to argue someone's belief that the Democratic Party is made up of a bunch of heathens because some in the party wanted to omit God from the platform. I think the Democratic Party is more than one issue, and I like the way the party tolerates secular views. It's a big tent party, and that was self-evident as the national television cameras panned the crowd at the convention. You would think that we would have 535 GOP legislators and a Republican president and vice president if God was really on the GOP's side.

I don't know who's going to win tomorrow night but I sincerely think that whoever does, will get an economy that's moving in the right direction. I really hope that President Obama gets reelected and gets the full credit for his efforts. I still think the passing and signing of TARP by the Bush administration, the actions by Federal Chairman Bernanke and a lot of policies by President Obama stabilized an economy that was heading for a depression. I agree with some world economists that I heard on Fareed Zakaria's CNN show yesterday. They said that American may have a lot of debt but our problems have solutions unlike the European and Asian markets. Our problems stem from a broken political system where nothing gets done because of ideological differences.

I will write one more blog Wednesday analyzing the election in my own words and opinion. It looks like the house will remain in Republican hands the Democrats will hold onto the Senate. That means that the Republicans will not get to use reconciliation (51% of votes) and depending on the final tally, and if Romney is elected, he will not have a veto proof repeal of Obamacare. I don't think Romney really wants to repeal Obamacare because it's the carbon copy of his masterpiece in Massachusetts...If President Obama is reelected, Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell's plan of not allowing the president a second term goes into the wastebasket. If you watched 60 minutes last night, I think you will agree that Congress has not gotten the message, and that they wear their low approval rating, as a badge of honor.