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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.