Thursday, May 30, 2013
I don't do a lot of channel flipping; the television set stays on MSNBC, and I'm content with that. Last night,I got a healthy dose of clips of crazy things Michelle Bachman has said through the years. John McCain's former campaign manager, Steve Schmidt, brought everyone back down to earth by saying that the GOP now has a chance to win that district with a more reasonable candidate, and he’s right because Mitt Romney won that district by 15% points. I’ve come to respect Steve Schmidt because he’s a straight shooter.
There's nothing I like more than watching a good debate, and I was lucky enough to get one this morning. For the past week Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski and whoever they had as guests (mostly journalists) got their turn to say how wrong it was for Eric Holder and the Justice Dept. to subpoena all those phone calls and emails to try to suppress the leaks. This morning the panel consisted of three journalists, Howard Dean and Joe and Mika. Howard Dean said he supported free speech, and he thinks that it was wrong for the Justice Dept.to take the steps they did but he said he doesn't feel sorry for the whining press.
Howard also said that the press uses unidentified sources, and journalists always state their opinion rather than just writing the facts. How often do we see a catchy headline, and then get disappointed because the article doesn't have any substantial facts? Joe Scarborough put on his political hat and said that the press can relentlessly go after a legislator and make their lives miserable using unnamed sources. One of the journalists agreed and said that his newspaper will stop using anonymous sources whenever possible. When the journalists saw that they were not going to get the free ride that they were accustomed to, they quickly changed their tone, and the conversation became informative. I've seen politicians completely change their demeanor when they're on Meet the Press from the one they show on Fox News.
Howard Dean explained the difference between a right winger and a conservative to Joe Scarborough. A conservative has a different point of view from a liberal, but it's based in logic, while a right winger is just a propagandist. Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee is a conservative and Senator Ted Cruz of Texas is a right winger.
I'm going to give you an opportunity to have another good laugh, Larry Marek. Your letter this morning puts you in the right-wing column. You called for Americans to wake up, but as usual, you stated what you are against but not what you are for or what will get this country moving in the right direction. Do you think a majority of Americans are worried about the government coming after their guns? Only about 30% of the population own guns (trending down) and about half of those agree with your concerns. Most of the people worrying are the ones hanging on to their jobs or looking for one.
The rest of us will reap the same misery, you say, you mean the 47% who voted for Romney knows best? Yesterday, we learned consumer confidence is up;home purchases are on the rise;automobile sales are up; the stock market is setting new records everyday but yes the misery is being felt by those whose wages have been stagnant for a long time. The GOP controls the House, but all they have done is repeal Obamacare (37 times) pass some abortion bills and yesterday; they renamed several post offices but for the most part, they passed bills that went to die in the Senate.
I think the 68,899,660 people (left wingers,progressives,liberals,Democrats and Independents) who voted for President Obama knew what his agenda was. The fact that he received 5 million more votes than Romney,332 electoral votes and 4% points more than his opponent was not a fluke. I don’t remember guns being mentioned on the campaign stump or in the presidential debates.
I think you should go to a PUBLIC LIBRARY and check out a good civics book. It might ease your fears, and you might discover how Congress has a role to play. For example, you say the president is cutting the military when he doesn’t have that power. The president can submit a budget, but they are usually dismissed. The fact is, Democrats would rather reduce defense spending than make drastic cutbacks on the social programs.
I can’t think of a remedy for your paranoia over gun-confiscation. If the fact that 90% of Americans favor a background check, and the United States Senate can’t garner 60 votes to pass a watered-down version doesn’t ease your fears; nothing will. On the other hand, more states are taking matters into their own hands without a nudge from the president.
Mr. Marek, after reading your many letters to our newspaper, I don’t doubt for a minute, that you are an avid viewer of the comedy channels.
Wednesday, May 29, 2013
I felt like the day was going pretty good when the panel on “Morning Joe” were discussing President Obama’s football throwing form or lack thereof. There was no “smoking gun” lead or a newspaper to hold up showing the latest “the plot thickens” headline.
Jay Sekulow, the lawyer for the Tea Party 501 (c ) (4 ) applicants, who felt they were wronged by the IRS was on the show, but he didn’t divulge anything new;he just rephrased the narrative.Mr. Sekulow said more offices were involved, but we knew that because the field office in Cincinnati wanted clarification. The fact that lois Lerner signature appeared on several documents in different offices doesn’t mean anything because they were stamped copies. Jay Sekulow,was a good choice for the plaintiffs because “ In November 2005, Legal Times published an article which alleged that Sekulow "through the ACLJ and a string of interconnected nonprofit and for-profit entities, has built a financial empire that generates millions of dollars a year and supports a lavish lifestyle—complete with multiple homes, chauffeur-driven cars, and a private jet that he once used to ferry Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia." The plaintiffs may not want a special counsel to be appointed to look into this case because he will likely look into their status to see if they are a legitimate tax exempt organization. Lets be honest,how many people think that the Tea Party engages in social welfare?
Fox corp,is saying that they don’t remember receiving a subpoena from the Justice Dept. Notice, they didn't say they didn’t receive one because they then can go back and say that they found it after the Justice Dept. produces the emails and receipt from FedEx. In the meantime, Fox News gins up their audience and their pundits have something to talk about. But, if the Justice Dept. doesn't have those receipts, then they should clean house, starting at the top; for incompetence.
Darrell Issa has now issued subpoenas for the State Department documents related to the “talking points” about the cause of the attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya. Mr. Issa wants the White Hose to push back because then he gets the publicity he seeks in keeping this issue in the spotlight for the 2014 mid- term elections. Karl Rowe is hoping he can find something negative on Hillary,so let the fishing exposition began.
Every day we get see to evidence of republican hypocrisy. We know that the Heritage Foundation was the first to come up with the individual mandate, Newt Gingrich approved of it and Mitt Romney used it in his health care plan in Massachusetts. These days, the right thinks it's unconstitutional although the Supreme Court disagrees. There are always exceptions for the GOP,"Members of a House immigration group are considering a rule that would force immigrants to buy their own health insurance while they wait for citizenship."
Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2013/05/republicans-individual-mandate-immigrants-91956.html#ixzz2UhHVA1d1
Positive news does not sell these days or newspapers would be leading with “ consumer confidence up” as housing prices rise and the economy is showing signs of improvement.
I think the handwriting is on the wall and it’s begging for a giant public/private infrastructure bank while interest rates are dirt cheap. We need to put people back to work and lord knows, our bridges, highways, and overall infrastructure is in dire need of repair or replacement. Our competitors are building for the future and at best we shouldn't play catch up.
Tuesday, May 28, 2013
I was pleasantly surprised when “Morning Joe," announced as part of their “In the News” segment that California overcame their financial doldrums and are now reporting a budget surplus. California also reported that the transition to the Affordable Care Act is helping the cause because that state’s insurance rates are decreasing. Some of my “Shirley Sherrod Democrats” will never spread the good news because they are always cautiously optimistic. I call them Shirley Sherrod Democrats because they quickly secede to the noise from the right wing. Republicans never worry about being wrong because they are never punished for it. A good example of that is that every Republican will point to Texas as a model for job creation, and few will ever counter by saying that Texas is among the worst at providing education and health care. Some Democrats are afraid of saying that most of those positions Republicans are bragging about are low paying ones because they fear being labeled as being anti-business.
Before I go too far, I want to remind those that don't know what I'm talking about when I label some Democrats,Shirley Sherrod Democrats. Shirley Sherrod was a former State Director of Rural Development for the United States Department of Agriculture who was thrown under the bus by the Obama Administration for an edited video where she allegedly made some racist remarks. What makes this case remarkable was the source. The media took the word of a well-known right wing propagandist, the late Andrew Breitbart and worse without so much of a thought, the administration sought and received her resignation.
Joe Scarborough, routinely scours the newspapers for a headline or story that sheds an unfavorable light on the Obama Administration and holds it up for the camera to zoom in on it. This morning he tried to tie the administration to a insider information scandal because the administration is explaining their stance on upcoming legislation to hedge fund managers.. Joe had to back off when Eugene Washington of the Washington Post said “ Joe, you can’t complain that the president is not business friendly and then accuse him of insider trading when he meets with them.”
I know that its damaging politically if all a sudden, Democrats start to side with the Internal Revenue in the upcoming congressional hearings, but they shouldn’t just form a coalition with a party who caters to government hating constituents. I wasn’t at all surprised that Joe Scarborough didn’t mention a Sunday New York Times article that shed some new light on the IRS story. The article pointed out the legitimacy of the IRS scrutiny practices outside of profiling. It would be prudent of an IRS employee to Google the website of an applicant for a 501 (c ) (4 ) once it arrives at their desk for evaluation.
A poster, Rufus Diggs, did a lot to counter the letter submitted by Carleton K. Thompson Jr. who was trying to say that the president did not live up to the code of U.S. Military Academy's honor code. Not only did the Carleton Thompson omit several administrations ,he left out the part where those military academies did not live up to their standards. It would take but a minute to Google “military academy+scandal” to pull up several results but there no reason to do that. I believe most of know that perfection does not exist in our galaxy and we don’t try to pretend it does. Mr. Thompson is certainly entitled to his opinion but the fact that he served in two different branches of the military doesn’t make him an expert on the administration's involvement in the so-called scandals.
Not much politics this weekend except that it was surprising to hear Chris Wallace criticizing the president wanting to tamp down our efforts on the war on terror. The right has never figured out that you can’t have a war on a tactic. Mr. Wallace did not think 12 years of war was too much and pointed all years of us being in a Cold War with then the Soviet Union. I had to laugh when Senator Lindsey Graham blurted out that President Obama was the most tone deaf Commander in Chief of all time because he is weakening America’s national security and emboldening radical Islam by prematurely declaring a drawdown in the War on Terror. Senator Graham's veins were bulging, and his eyes were flaring as he was running through his laundry list of military actions the president must take. I don’t think many people side with Senator Graham’s neoconservative penchant for a never-ending war.
Monday, May 27, 2013
This day is not to be confused with Veterans Day, when we honor all veterans because this holiday is special. Memorial Day honors the men and women who died while serving our country.
If you know a veteran of WWII ,give them a hug because they aren't that many of them left. It's been estimated that there are only 1,462,809 American veterans still alive out of a little over 16 million who served in that war. We mustn't forget the Korean War veterans and those who died in the wars of Vietnam,Iraq and Afghanistan and countries in between.
People celebrate this holiday in various ways, and it’s all good because that just means we still live in a free country. Some consider, Memorial Day, the first day of summer, although the official day is June 21,2013. For some reason, this is also the first day of rising gasoline prices. It's also three days from school letting out for the summer. Summer is just a date on the calendar in Texas because it's not as if the weather is going to change. It will still be hot.
I like to watch a couple of war movies, catch up on my reading and just relax and reflect. I watched the six episodes of North and South and Memorial Day which I really liked. Memorial Day was about a grandfather finally talking about his experiences in WWII. He shared those experiences with his 13-year old grandson. The grandson remembers the stories while he is recuperating from a wound he suffered in Iraq.
Have a happy Memorial day everyone, be safe and until next time; a salute to those who died in the service of their country.
Saturday, May 25, 2013
I don't know about you but I envision a lot of accidents; once the new Walmart is complete. The newly constructed road with- out the painted lanes gives drivers another reason to just make up one up. Even when they are painted,it will give drivers an extra choice;which is not always good.Perhaps a new police station should be built in between the Houston Hwy. and the Mall. I forgot,policemen will no longer investigate small accidents. They might even be told to get off a private place of business ,like KAVU was the other day. My daughter is already checking out a new route to take to work. Imagine the long line, if people turn off at Rosewood to Teakwood as their chosen route to Walmart? Who knows ,it might all work out?
Friday, May 24, 2013
I usually think that Code Pink is an extremist left- wing group which goes too far with their thinking. I'm glad that the president of United States gave the representative from Code Pink a platform to state her views. It's a discussion, we need to hear. The exchange between President Obama and Medea Benjamin of Code Pink was the highlight of his important speech because it was a rare exercise of free speech. Usually, Ms Medea would not have made it past security, or she would have been escorted out before she could have uttered a word.
We went through the entire War of Iraq without being told what our core principles were in remaining in a country that did not possess WMD, pose a threat to us, or what our mission in Afghanistan was about, after the initial attack.
I couldn't believe that a president of the United States would actually push back the authority Congress wants to give him with the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) to fight terrorists. President wants to take us on a path to end the so-called "War on Terror" which by definition is never ending. President Obama has already taken steps to end the war in Afghanistan and wants to take care of threats to the homeland with drone signature strikes signed off by Congress.
The president made another plea for Congress to help him shut down Guantanamo Bay because it should have never been erected in the first place. How can deficit hawks justify the near $1 million per detainee it costs to run that place? He wants the Department of Defense to designate a site on U.S. soil where we can hold military tribunals. The only reason we used Guantanamo Bay was to bypass the constitution. With the use of his executive orders, the president will repeal the moratorium we had with Yemen and start making arrangements to send some detainees to that country. Will those detainees rejoin terrorist groups? No one really knows the answer to that, but that comes up in our American criminal-justice system all the time.
Yes, we will continue to receive acts of terror like the one in London the day before yesterday, but we will involve our local, state, and Federal law enforcement and not necessarily use military force. That doesn't mean that we will ignore threats to our homeland from abroad but don't expect us to spend the next 20 years going after wannabe Al Qaeda.
We have a few detainees whom we cannot send back to any country because they were heavily involved in the initial attack upon our country and there's no reason to believe that they have given up their jihadist beliefs. We can't try them in federal court or put them up before a military tribunal because they have been tortured, and any type of justice has been compromised. We're left with the indefinite detention, but if we bring those people back to the United States, that distinction is unconstitutional. .
I was very critical of the Bush era policies on the war on terror, but I was equally angry because the Obama administration followed the same polices and sometimes went a step further. I was relieved when the president finally decided to end all those policies. "Obama argued that the time has come to redefine the kind of conflict that the United States is engaged in: "We must define the nature and scope of this struggle, or else it will define us."I also know that these steps will take a long time to implement and many Republicans will fight him tooth and nail, not only only because it's his idea but they think it's raising the white flag of surrender.
A local right-winger, Bruce Hultquist, is repeating the talking points that you can hear 24/7 on talk radio and Fox News. It's as if Bruce had any hope at all, that an Obama administration would be honest or transparent. His mind was made up in 2008. He went a little off-script by blaming the president for the sex scandals in the military. He has to get together with another Republican letter writer because Jack Mullins didn't think there was a scandal, and if there was, the chain of command should never be superseded by Obama.
I'm in a generous mood, I will agree that the Department of Justice overreached in their relentless attempt to go after leaks. It now seems that the Atty. General signed off on some of the outrageous methods that were used to go after the reporter's phone calls and emails. If he did,a resignation is in order.
Raymond Smith thinks his "Strong Families of Victoria" was involved in what he calls a "web of IRS malfeasance."Then he admits that he didn't file the proper form for three years.Raymond,before you leap,there's a difference between a 501(c ) (4 ) and a 501 (c ) (3 ). The ones in questions are the 501 (c ) (4 ) s but what's one digit when you can publicize your group and take a shot at the IRS,free of charge.
Thursday, May 23, 2013
I really enjoyed watching the host of “The Last Word” Lawrence O'Donnell ,tell it like it really is last night. He said that the media loves to be in scandal frenzy because it beats investigative journalism. All they have to do is dig out the old “Watergate” playbook “what did the the president know and when did he know it.” For backup,the media has added “why didn’t he know,and if he did why didn’t he put a stop to it?” The media has always had a deadline but nowadays the need to be first will often take precedence over factual journalism. The administration hurt the feelings of the mainstream media by aggressively going after their sources, whom they say the leaked classified information. As of right now, the media doesn't feel a need to give the president the benefit of the doubt.
Mr. O'Donnell was elated because some Democrats are stepping up to the plate and saying the real scandal is the abuse of 501 ( c) (4 ) and after this is all over, the IRS will be beaten up so bad that they will be scared to go after the violators. I was wrong yesterday when I gave an example of how the abuse could be solved. The easy remedy would be to remove the word “primary” from the law and stick to the original word “exclusively" in designating that all funds are used for promoting general welfare to obtain tax-exempt status.
Conservative groups were wrongly singled out, but it wouldn't be wrong to expand that search criteria to include church phrases, and words like progressive. Conservatives were not denied nor were there audited, and they didn't have to pay a single dime in taxes. They were asked inappropriate questions but all that can be rectified.
This morning RNC Chairman,Reince Priebus, went on the “Morning Joe” trying to say that Lois Learner of the IRS is hiding something because she pleaded the fifth yesterday. John Heilemann, co-author of "Game Change", would have none of that. Pleading the fifth is a legal procedure, and any lawyer worth his degree would not let his client testify in a congressional hearing, knowing that the FBI is undergoing a criminal investigation into the matter. Several prominent attorneys have said that the Republican representative who said that she waved her rights by making an opening statement was just showboating because she certainly did not.
The Wall Street Journal is not a liberal rag and certainly not a fan of our president,so it was surprising that they published an article suggesting what I thought all along, that this is a low level blunder that was not politically motivated.
Sahil Kapur 9:27 AM EDT, Thursday May 23, 2013
“Internal IRS emails analyzed by the Wall Street Journal indicate -- albeit not conclusively -- that the agency's targeting of conservative groups was designed by low-level employees in the Cincinnati office.
[House Oversight] Committee staff on Wednesday released several documents related to the matter—including the IRS emails and a 2012 statement by Ms. Lerner—that helped provide a clearer picture of what happened. The criteria were developed by an IRS screening group in Cincinnati "based on cases they were seeing," Cindy Thomas, a supervisor in the Cincinnati office, wrote in a June 2011 email to an official in Washington. "When the screening group starts seeing new type cases that have similar issues, they meet and come up with criteria to identify 'emerging issue' and elevate information," she wrote.
In another email from June 2011, a screening manager in Cincinnati, John Shafer, outlined the criteria the group was using to select applications for extra review. They included references in the case file to "tea party," "patriots" or "9/12 Project"; issues such as government spending, debt and taxes; advocacy or legislative activity to "make America a better place to live"; and "statements in the case file that are critical of…how the country is being run."
The Journal notes that the emails don't rule out involvement by high-level officials by they also don't contain any evidence that the targeting scheme was developed by anyone other than low-level staffers.”
Will the media ask Karl Rove how much his group gives to charity? Karl Rove is not bashful,so he will say not a penny and then go on to name all the liberal groups that take advantage of their tax-exempt status.The media will then write a story how the left and right takes advantage of the loophole in the IRS code but they won’t say that recently it’s generally conservative groups who are likely to abuse their status.They certainly won’t pressure the IRS to stop the abuse because catching the White House and the president in a gotcha moment will sell more papers.
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
I'm glad that the devastating tornado that hit Moore; Oklahoma was revised down to 24 dead with nine of them being children. It was surprising to hear that one of the reasons for not having a storm shelter was that the residents did not want the government telling them what to do. Now, I can understand that being hit by a tornado in that area is about 2% likely, and I can even understand weighing the extra $2000 but not wanting the government to tell them what to do, surprised me. It was great to hear a representative from Oklahoma say that the newer schools will pay the $1.5 million extra for a storm shelter despite it being a 50/50 proposition in Oklahoma.
Culture difference is the 500-pound gorilla in the room. The anti- government types will try to use every government controversy to their advantage by saying, “ see what happens when you have a nanny state!" Quite the contrary, we may have too many government employees in one division and not enough in another division, but the goal should be effective government ,not large or small government.
I think the fact that Apple gets away with paying hardly any taxes is a great conversation starter for tax reform. Senator Rand Paul was appalled at some of his colleagues who were grilling Tom Cook, CEO of Apple, about his questionable practices to avoid paying United States income tax. It reminded me of Representative Barton from, Texas apologizing to the CEO of BP because he was being badgered by the congressional members of the investigative committee. Joe Scarborough was bragging about Tom Cook looking good at the Senate hearing. Conservatives are not in favor of big business paying high taxes because they think that low taxes will somehow trickle down to the consuming public. I love my Apple products but I’d be willing to pay $50.00 more if it cut down on outsourcing and the company paying its fair share of taxes. After all, the iPhone and iPad are luxury items.
Pig-headed Joe Scarborough does not understand how targeting of conservatives by the IRS is not necessarily politically motivated. That's because he refuses to acknowledge that 85% of those applying for a 501 (c ) (4) statuses were indeed conservatives. There were profiled and that's wrong but the code section is vague. Using this issue to leap to government cannot handle your taxes, the portion of health care they will be involved in or a comprehensive immigration policy is absurd.
Meanwhile the portion of the government that was working on legislation,the Senate Judiciary Committee, finally passed a bill 13-5, largely intact, and now it goes to the floor for the Senate to vote on. There's talk that it will take 70 yes votes before the House will even consider taking up the issue. What kind a democracy is that?
Those on right chastised the Senate because they didn't produce a budget for several years. Today, the Tea Party coalition with the likes of Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, will not allow in the senate's budget to go to the House for reconciliation unless it's tied to the debt ceiling. Senators McCain and Collins rightly called them out saying it was “budget hypocrisy.”
Cultural differences certainly exist in Victoria, Texas. We had a local election where some people were fixated on the city policy where withdrawal was not addressed, so the prudent thing to do in that situation was to rely on the state election code. No,all they saw was the 51% that was not met and so anything else was immaterial to them. The third-place finisher insisted in a run-off between the two top vote getters. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out how that would turn out, especially if the second-place finisher did not want to run. The pressure from those who did not like the results from the election made this issue harder than it needed to be.
Monday, May 20, 2013
David Gregory host of "Meet the Press" did his homework and it showed. He blindsided Mitch McConnell by producing a tape from 25 years ago that showed that early in his career the senator believed that such groups -- on the left and the right -- should be subjected to tougher scrutiny. these were his words back then “ Early in his Senate career, however, the Kentucky Republican seemed to believe that such groups -- on the left and the right -- should be subjected to tougher scrutiny"There are restrictions now on the kinds of activities that, for example, 50(c)(3) and (4) organizations,charitable organizations, can engage in that are being abused -- not just people on the right, but most of the so-called charitable organizations who are involved in political activity in this country, who are, in my judgment, involved in arguable violations of their tax-free status and violations of the campaign laws, happen to be groups on the left." Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell was over matched and visibly angry that he was ambushed like that. I was surprised when Mitch McConnell agreed with the actions the Justice Department took to go after leakers.
David Gregory was not through, he then challenge the words of Peggy Noonan by saying “Peggy Noonan, you wrote something that struck me in your column on Friday. I want to ask you about it. "We are in the midst of the worst Washington scandal since Watergate. The reputation of the Obama White House has gone from sketchy to sinister. They don't look jerky now, they look dirty. The patina of high-mindedness the President enjoyed is gone." I have to say, Peggy, what you don't talk about here is an administration for a man that you worked for, who led the Iran-Contra scandal with Iran, the secret war, and lied to Congress and all the rest. Overstatement here?” She was dumfounded and squinched looking for an answer and then he asked the same of Bob Woodward, who continues to play both sides of the fence depending on what network he is on. Bob Woodward is showing his age and his Watergate claim to fame is quickly vanishing.
Fox News Sunday was just an extension of a GOP strategy meeting. Chris Wallace did his part by asking White House spokesman Dan Pfeiffer questions about the president's whereabouts when Benghazi was being attacked. I did notice that not one question was asked about the role that President Bush appointee ,Doug Shulman,played in all of this. In fact I didn’t hear any republican mention Doug Shulman. They were on message by saying that" how can you trust the IRS to manage its function in Obamacare when they can't even manage the nonprofits? "
When someone is locked into their frame of mind, logic doesn't stand a chance. People like Chris Wallace, Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski, Bob Woodward, Peggy Noonan, are hung up on when the president knew the details of the events that transpired. The obvious answer is that there is no correct answer because when the president said he learned about them by reading the newspaper, it gave fodder to his enemies. They can say that he's lying, disengaged, or incompetent. After Watergate, Congress made sure that the Internal Revenue and the Justice Dept. would operate without input from the White House. If the president said that he learned about it during the political campaign; his enemies would have accused him of using his influence to get the outcome he wanted or to postpone the findings until after the elections. Darryl Issa, knew that the Inspector General was in the process of auditing the IRS and decided to wait on the results before responding, as did the White House.
I think the IRS could solve the abuse of the 501(c ) (4 ) by using the structure that’s used for deducting contributions, and the criteria used on other forms where income phase outs are used. Let’s set the social welfare requirement at 90% and ask the applicants to report their total income and percentage used for social welfare, naming the organization, address, the amount donated, dates and require a receipt. The receipt doesn't have to be presented unless audited. That puts the onus on the applicant and not the Internal Revenue.
This is picture is Hillary pictured with her dear friend, the late Ambassador Stevens .....,Mr. Bankston.Your words were irresponsible,political, and stupid “Perhaps if Clinton's daughter decided to follow mom's footsteps and become a foreign service agent and was posted in an unfriendly country, Hillary would understand exactly how it matters. Nah, that won't happen."
Carl Bankston, Victoria
Friday, May 17, 2013
There's no penalty for making wild accusations; it's a common political strategy, and it seems to be accepted in our everyday life because it doesn't cost a thing. I saw a good example of that this morning when Vern Buchanan(R-FL) who's on the House Ways and Means Committee say that Obamacare would add a trillion dollars to the debt when the CBO just said that it would decrease the deficit. Not one person on the “Morning Joe” panel corrected him. That's how it works; imagine a person going to work, hearing that unchallenged sound bite and then takes it for the absolute truth.
House Ways and Means Committee grilled the outgoing acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller. This is the governing body that oversees our tax laws; shouldn't they also be interested in those groups who violated their tax-exempt status? Let's say a couple of rogue employees rifled through some CEO desk draws and found some evidence of wrongdoing. Yes, the employee should be punished but do we ignore the evidence they found because it was obtained illegally? Yes the people who were singling out conservatives need to be fired for incompetence but the law needs to be revised so so it does not happen again. It's not about paying taxes because those involved are non-profits; it's all about that special clause in the 501 [c] that allows them to keep their donor’s name a secret. Those groups can then transfer some of that cash(without reveling names) to their political PAC where donor’s names are required. The employees were guilty of profiling. I would bet that 9 out of 10 applications to become a 501[C] came from conservative groups. They were overwhelmed and chose to use a shortcut such as profiling.
The afternoon I saw Megan Kelly of Fox News and Rep. Jason Chaffetz discussing the Benghazi incident. They were trying to disprove that Benghazi didn't have any security was because Congress did not provide the money. I never thought it was because Congress didn't provide the money, especially after I learned that Benghazi was a CIA outpost under diplomatic cover. The CIA had 30 people, and Ambassador Stevens had seven diplomats. I also know that Ambassador Stevens turned down military protection two times. The Marines only guard the sensitive documents ,it's up to the State Department to provide security for the embassy. The frail Libyan government would have to approve of a standing army in Benghazi.
People like David Gregory live in a bubble because he thinks he was speaking for the average man this morning, when he was complaining about the 0.9% surtax, he was playing for health care. That tax is only for people with a combined income of $250,000 or more. I disagree when a lot of people say that latest incident by the IRS will have a devastating effect on how people look at the IRS. I've heard stories of IRS incompetence all my life but unless the next three congressional hearings find something new; this issue will go way pretty fast.
I often wonder if people like Michelle Bachmann know that the country is laughing at them or does she really believe that repealing Obamacare for the37th time is an accomplishment. I also wonder why John Boehner thinks it’s appropriate to jail someone for the IRS fiasco but not for the Wall Street crash of 2008.
The only way we can get the truth is to hold those people accountable if they lie. The media needs to stop mimicking Hollywood and just report the news. A young reporter got his chance to query the president, but he wasted it, by asking the president if he was aware that he was being compared to Nixon.
Last night I heard Richard Engel say that someone in our government told the AP intricate details about a bomb we obtained from a terrorist group in Yemen. There is the public has a right to know, but it must constantly be weighed against the need to classify some information.
Thursday, May 16, 2013
I'm as little ashamed of myself for calling the last three controversies… scandals. I didn't go as far as Miki Brzezinski, David Gregory, Chris Matthews or Andrea Mitchell by saying the president has to get out in front of this, or it will derail his presidency. Yesterday was one of those days where Chris Matthews was hyperventilating so much that he wouldn't let his guest get in a word in edgewise. He kept saying that the president needed a James Baker type to keep the media and Republicans in check. As David Axelrod reminded us yesterday, the same people got all upset because they thought the president looked weak during the BP oil leak. David Axelrod said the president came back and won another election. The pundits are not accustomed to the managerial style of President Obama. He's a cautious person, who's not warm and fuzzy or superficial, so he's not prone to "hair on fire" decisions. He doesn't really care what the media or his enemies think.
You can throw out the history books when you talk about President Obama because he's not an arm- twister like Lyndon Johnson, a political animal-like Bill Clinton or a charmer like Jack Kennedy. He does like to campaign, and he's more about big policy that he is about trivia matters. The fact that he doesn't play the normal belt way politics came back to haunt him because he could not get background checks passed, although it had 90% backing from the American people. He doesn't care if he angers his base in order to cut a deal but by now he ought to know that the GOP will never make a deal if they think it will help his presidency. Yesterday Jon Stewart asked former Republican Senator Olympia Snowe if anyone objected when Mitch McConnell said that the GOP would oppose anything Obama wants. She said no, but she did vote for his stimulus package.
Since the 100 emails prove the administration was not covering up anything in Benghazi, people like Karl Rowe are now trying to say that the president is disengaged. Republicans like to point to the testimony of the whistle blowers as proof that the four Americans didn't have to die but that is shameful and disingenuous. It might've been a planned attack for the terrorist, but the consulate was not prepared nor did they have a military force that could reach them in time. There was plenty of blame to go around between the State Department and the CIA, but the talking points should never have been the primary focus because, as Hillary Clinton famously said, " what difference does it make?" This issue will not go away for the Republicans because they think they can use this against Hillary Clinton in 2016.
This morning Willie Geist of MSNBC " Morning Joe," said that we don't know what the White House's involvement is in the IRS controversy or how high this went up the ladder. That's right but why is he assuming that it does. The GOP said that they lost the 2012 election because the president gave out free stuff, so now is it because 298 501(c) (4)applications were held up? The Usa Today had a headline that Joe Scarborough kept raising for all to see yesterday that read" IRS gave liberals a pass" but two liberal groups were denied tax-exempt status.
The media has a legitimate complaint about the actions of the Justice Department, but they get an "F" for their reporting this week. For one, ABC thought they had the goods on the administration but Jonathan Karl didn't do his due diligence because he didn't read the emails he received from a source before he said that he had the "smoking gun." This afternoon Jack Trapper of CNN was visibly angry because the president didn't apologize for the actions of the Justice Department and Atty. General Eric Holder ‘s" non answers." Reporters need to report the news and not be part of it. We certainly don't want the government to suppress the news but if reporters want support from public, then they have to remain professional and just the report vetted news.
How ironic, the IRS, the government and the media could never win a popularity contest but right now their credibility is at stake.
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
I don't know if I'm being an apologist for President Obama until I hear all the pertinent facts, or I’m missing the point people like Andrea Mitchell, Tom Brokaw,David Gregory are trying to make by saying that this president is too aloof, and it’s going to lead to his downfall. Those three and others are saying that the president needs to fire someone or his political enemies will destroy him.
I think that the Department of Justice stepped over the proverbial line, although it might not be illegal, by subpoenaing all those phone lines in trying to find a leaker. They weren’t going after the Associated Press or those reporters ,they were searching for a leaker and sending a message to potential leakers. I don't know where the line between freedom of the press and maintaining National-Security secrets is, but it has to be established. I'm not surprised that the GOP is not making much noise about this scandal because they don't like the press, and it wasn't too long ago that they were demanding that this president go after the leakers.
President Obama needs to regain the respect he has shown during the past for the free flow of information by supporting a Federal Shield law. Whoever ordered this obvious overreach and at this time leads to the deputy Atty. General, should be relieved of duty and a new policy put in place that doesn't leave anything to interpretation (loopholes).
I read bits and pieces of the Inspector General's report concerning the IRS scandal. It still seems like the Cincinnati office had a few IRS agents who did not know the specifics of 501 c(4) so they made up the criteria, something called BOLO (be on the lookout)of their own. When the head of the IRS Tax-Exempt Organization, Lois Lerner, heard of this, she put a stop to it but those agents disobeyed her orders and continued the practice. I believe the president can only remove a commissioner (don’t have one at the moment) but those lower employees are civil servants, so they are entitled to a hearing before dismissal. I don't think anyone would have mined if the IRS went after Karl Rove, Bill Burton and Glenn Beck for their obvious abuse of their tax-exempt status. If nothing else, the 501 [c]  should remove the word “primary” and stick with “exclusively” in the requirement section of social welfare.
There are just too many exaggerations, assumptions and politics that come with every scandal. You get crazies like Michelle Bachmann, who’s saying that the administration brought up this IRS scandal to get people's minds off Benghazi. That doesn't even make sense and neither does the comparison of Watergate nor talks of impeachment. I heard a legitimate reporter say that the Obama Administration is worse than Nixon; a president who left in disgrace.
I am surprised that no one on the VA forum has commented on the 3 ongoing scandals (if you will). Could be that they are confused, or just disinterested? I know we have a lot of posters that shoot- from- the- hip, so this should be right up their alley.
Our own little city has a conspiracy brewing in the mayor's race. Without any facts whatsoever, there are people who believe that a city councilman and a former mayor made an agreement beforehand to ensure one of them would become mayor. The two conspired in a closed-door meeting had to know in advance the outcome of the election for this scheme to work. When I read the City Charter; I wasn't clear if it addressed the withdrawal. I would be against a runoff, although I think, Paul would prevail, because the third candidate didn't do that well. I think it's all about sour grapes to which some people think it gives them a license to hurl accusations without offering any proof. Who in the world made Clara Ramos an authority on elections?
Monday, May 13, 2013
Fox News Sunday talk show host Chris Wallace was extremely happy that the mainstream media is finally engaging in the Benghazi story, and he was quick to say that they were on this story from day one. Hello, Chris your network was also the first to report the three New Black Panther party intimidating voters, the so-called scandals of ACORN, Fast and Furious, and Solyndra, to name a few. Yes, the media is now covering Benghazi but they have not uncovered anything new or anything that even resembles a smoking gun. Former Republican Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said it’s comical to think that the military could have responded to the events in Benghazi. He also said he would not have authorized such a move.
I now have enough information to come to my own conclusion. The so-called consultant in Benghazi was not fortified, and it was really a CIA outpost. When it was attacked the CIA and State, Dept. went into full CYA mode;thus the 12 revisions of the talking points. The inter agency fighting between the CIA, Defense and State Dept. is not new. The CIA by definition is highly secretive, and they are given a license to lie in order to give the leaders of our country plausible deniability. In hindsight, the president should have put out ALL the talking points and said, “ let the investigative committees sort it out.” Of course that would not have stopped the cover-up and impeachment talk. We’ve had nine Benghazi investigations and hardly any on the 2008 financial crisis but those on the right now want a select committee to investigate. We shouldn’t have ambassadors in Libya or Syria because we only have 1200 Marines to guard our embassies around the world. There are still those that want to stop foreign aid, leaving us with no tools whatsoever to make any headway in these countries.
Joe Scarborough must've been on his third cup of coffee this morning when he started screaming to say, " Jay Carney’s press conference was the worst one he's ever seen.”I guess Joe forgets the obvious lies that poor Scott McCellan made in saying that Karl Rowe was not involved in the Scooter Libby scandal. Then Joe said that President Obama should have already condemned the IRS for targeting conservatives; namely the 298 Tea Party groups. President Obama doesn't have the luxury of flying off the handle like Joe Scarborough does.Joe Scarborough is still making excuses of why he believed Iraq had WMD. President Obama will probably address the situation this afternoon when he meets with U.K Prime Minister Cameron.
The IRS should never have targeted any special group and those involved or knew about it should be punished to the fullest extent. That's not to say that 501 (c)(4) groups shouldn’t be scrutinized because they're tax exempt organizations that have been flying under the radar for quite some time. The Citizens United decision opened the floodgates for these groups but left and right wing groups should be investigated equally. I've always thought that religious groups have gone to the water's edge involving themselves in partisan politics.Remember when the evangelicals met in Texas to decide who their candidate was going to be in the Republican presidential primary?
Like Benghazi, conservatives will probably overreach when there is a legitimate scandal that should be taken care of in a bipartisan way. It surprised me when Joe Scarborough sang the praises of the ACLU for getting out in front of this. Joe Scarborough and Newt Gingrich immediately poisoned the water with their conspiracy theories. Joe Scarborough said that Cincinnati was right in the middle of a swing state, so somehow the administration has something to do with it. The IRS uses regional offices for different tasks. For example, Charlotte North Carolina accepts returns that have a payment due from individuals, and Atlanta Georgia will accept payments from businesses. The Cincinnati regional office was given the task to accept or reject 501(c)(4) applications. Newt said it was about Obamacare needing tax revenue. If the Cincinnati office was working on applications, and the IRS needed revenue; how would rejecting an application generate a fee?
The Cincinnati office used key words like “Tea Party.” Patriot”,"9/12” “Government Debt'” to choose applications for further study. Does it legitimize the cry of tyranny like MSNBC’s Willy Geist suggested? I don't think so; I think it's some sloppy agent's way of simplifying their application process. Some on right are ready comparing Obama’s White House to that of President Nixon, who actually tried the use the IRS to go after their political enemies.
A lot of people already hate or mistrust government, so they are not surprised when a government agency steps out of line. Just this week alone, we learned of the many sexual abuse cases in the military, veterans waiting forever to get their applications processed and now the most hated agency (IRS) violated the constitution by targeting American citizens.
Senator Rubio is already calling for the IRS Commissioner to step down but not so fast, he is the acting commissioner because the Senate has not appointed the Obama nominee for IRS Commissioner.
Saturday, May 11, 2013
Friday, May 10, 2013
A lot of my liberal/progressive friends will ask, "Why does anything Rep. Paul Ryan say matter?" It matters because he represents one of the directions the country will take to restore our economy. Representative Ryan is pretty much a one-trick pony (budgets), and he's quite content with that. Wednesday, he told the ultra -conservative American Enterprise Institute that progressivism is well-intentioned, but it is also in his humble opinion... arrogant and condescending. He admitted that the left keeps winning elections, but he will continue to think that it's because they give out free stuff from the government. He said it's a false sense of it security because the government can't keep all its promises.
Representative Paul Ryan is pushing fiscal austerity and progressives are saying we should take a balanced approach and not just slash safety- net programs. Paul Ryan is a student of Any Rand and his budget is based on a study by a couple Harvard economists which were recently repudiated. Rather than admit that the study was wrong, Ryan said" we have to stop spending money we don't have." That's the simple message that he wants his conservative friends to take to the inner cities, barrios, and rural farm areas. That may have worked in the past but try convincing the struggling poor that they can make it at minimum wage with no benefits. People like Paul Ryan mocks Senator Elizabeth Warren for suggesting that we let students have a .75% rate loan like the Wall Street has been taking advantage of. The poor are probably wondering why the stock market is above 15,000 but they are struggling to make ends meet. There's no doubt that corporate American is doing great, so all those people that say Obama hates capitalism have to admit that he's got a funny way of showing it.
This idea of fee stuff has caught on and you can see by the comments those on the right are making. That's a message they will cling to; rather than admit that the old conservative message of low taxes and smaller government is not resonating. The low taxes are going to the corporations while they cut back their workers benefits thus leaving the government to pick up the tab. I heard President Reagan's former budget director, David Stockman; say that we should increase the EITC rather than the minimum wage. That's the Ayn Rand/ Laissez Faire mentality “increase the bottom line for businesses and bleed the government dry" because in the long run it will lead the unfettered capitalism. Progressives are pushing a message that "government cannot solve all the problems but it's certainly part of the equation and certainly not the bogeyman the right makes it to be."
Paul Ryan is for comprehensive immigration reform but a majority of his party is not listening to him. We'll see how much credence the GOP gives to the recent study of the conservative think- tank Heritage Foundation. That study concluded the illegal immigrants will cost us $6.3 trillion ( and in fine print that's over 50 years making it $126 billion a year).The study was written in red ink because they concluded that the new immigrants would always stay below the poverty line and so would their offspring. The calculator they used didn’t have a minus key but I don't have to tell you what I think of a projection 50 years out. Now that the senate bill is ready for presentation and mark up; a couple of senators are adding multiple amendments to make it harder to pass. The GOP should just go back to their default position and quit trying to pull the wool over the public's eyes. It was just eight months ago when Republican presidential candidates were getting loud applauses for suggesting self -deportation, multiple electrified fences, and hateful rhetoric. Can a political party change its position in eight months? They didn’t when it came to marriage equality.
The conservatives I have known have always been about money and not so much about human issues; excluding the social issues. If you didn't have the same contempt for welfare and other social programs then you were for them. If you didn't freak out about government spending then you were for big government. It was as if everyone had to have the same American dream of owning a business, attending a Christian church, and having intolerance for people who did not assimilate as they did. I never questioned my conservative friend’s patriotism or their beliefs but they were always quick to tell me I was wrong if I was not in lockstep with them. Democrats have won most of the national elections in the last 12 years but you wouldn't know it because we're playing on the GOP's home turf. In order for the comprehensive immigration bill to pass it will have to be approved by the hard right. President Obama felt he needed to make reducing payments to Social Security recipients in the future to get republicans to come to the table. We can't do anything meaningful about climate change, closing Guantanamo Bay or even stopping Wall Street from gambling with taxpayer money because of the 60 vote majority and the right-wing House of Representatives. What’s the use of winning the presidency when all you have do is win the gerrymandered districts?
I'm still optimistic because the demographics are changing and so are our attitudes. It's no longer about slogans but more about actions because the Internet is always a click or two away. No, Paul Ryan it’s not about the giveaways; it’s about your economics’ that has been rejected by leading economists and the 2012 election. It’s not about handouts; it’s about a hand out to those who are struggling through no fault of their own. You can demonize the poor all you want because their objections will never be heard because they don’t have a lobbyist. A new day is coming.
Thursday, May 9, 2013
I’m delighted that Gregory Hicks, Mark Thompson, and Eric Nordstrom were given a chance to give their version of the Benghazi September 11,2012 attacks. They were all career diplomats, who seemed to shy away from the polarization of the hearing by sticking to the facts, as they knew them. I think that their testimony was truthful, but they didn't offer any new facts.
I’m glad that every rock has been upturned, but the issue will not go away because the GOP will hang on to it for dear life. Wing nut Rep. Steve King (R-IA) said this issue is ten times worse than Watergate, and Iran Contra put together. I wonder if Mike Huckabee still thinks President Obama will get impeached over Benghazi? Then again, any president can be impeached; it's the removal part that’s difficult.
This morning, I was surprised that Joe Scarborough quoted the New York Times because he usually calls it a liberal rag that always quotes the democratic talking points. He held up the front page of the paper to show the headline, " Diplomat says Questions Over Benghazi Led to Demotion "and then went on to say that the administration would suffer dearly for that. Gregory Hicks said he was given a scathing review over his management style and yelled at by Sec. Clinton’s chief of staff, Cheryl Mills for talking to Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) without a State Department lawyer being present. Richard Wolffee, MSNBC contributor, called out Joe, reminding him that Cheryl Mills was known for screaming at people she was in command of, so that wasn’t a big deal to which Joe Scarborough told him that he was quoting democratic talking points and resorted to his bullying tactics of trying to shout over an opposing view . Joe Scarborough omitted the part in the article where a State Dept.spokesman,Patrick Ventrell said that the department had not and will not retaliate against Mr. Hicks. He also said Hicks had requested to shorten his assignment in Libya(understandable) and that he is on a temporary assignment with the same pay and has submitted his next job preference. Joe Scarborough still thinks the White House didn’t immediately call the attacks "terrorism" because it somehow would weaken the president’s foreign policy credentials in a presidential race. I disagree,mistakes were obviously made in informing the American public in their initial response but I think it was more about being cautious about overstating some facts that were not yet clear.
I watched the hearings on my iPad (without commercials) and followed my Twitter feed to get comments. Those on the right were highly upset that CNN, MSNBC and the other three networks were not covering the hearing gavel –to- gavel. Those on the left were questioning the necessity of the hearning;calling it a “witch hunt.” I can only image what went on Facebook.
I still don’t know why the three diplomats were called whistle blowers because they didn’t reveal anything damaging. At one point, it became the talking points Susan Rice gave but that’s been litigated, so we just heard about Gregory Hicks emotions when he heard Susan Rice say that the attacks were motivated by a video. The 22- year diplomat said more could have been done but the military says it was unaware of possible second and third forthcoming attacks and didn’t have the resources which could respond in a timely fashion anyway. We certainly had a security failure, and intelligence was lacking but that’s not what the hearing was about.
Wednesday, May 8, 2013
If you're anything like me, you feel like you have both hands tied behind your back when you complain to your utility company about service. Just this year alone we've lost our Internet connection three times; we did the old disconnect everything and reboot routine to restore our service but that's not what I paid for.
When we lost our WIFI Saturday night,I didn't complain because I switched over to my unlimited data plan 4G speed on my iPhone and iPad and went about about my business. I wasn't even aware that my wife was in the next room calling Suddenlink to schedule an appointment.I’m glad she did because I’m now getting what I paid for.
I paid for the 15 Mbbs bandwidth knowing that I needed a high-speed connection to be able to view live and prerecorded television programs on my iPad. I bought a high speed router to support the seven devices we have on our home WIFI network. It worked so-so at the lower bandwidth, but it’s not a feature I used very much because of that reason. A faster WIFI connection helps you navigate the VA on line forum which has a lot of page loads embedded in their startup screen.
Yesterday, the SuddenLink technician showed up, but we didn't get off on a good start because as soon as he entered the front door, he said that our trouble might be our router. It was as though he was laying out his excuse beforehand. This upset my wife and got her into the arguing mood, so I sent her to the store, so I could play the good cop. I convinced the tech that I couldn’t be hoodwinked, so he agreed to check the outside wiring and then I suggested that he check the Internet speed up to my modem using a the website Speedest.net. He then insisted on replacing the old cable, tighten up connections before testing and that’s just what I observed because I have a sneaky suspicion that he boosted the signal. He then tested my connection showing that I was receiving a download signal of 20 Mbbs which was more than what I was paying for.
There are some advantages of playing a good cop sometimes because after engaging in a conversation with him; I found out that Suddenlink is upgrading 2400 new homes in Victoria, so WIFI and cable TV is being disrupted without the customer's knowledge. This technician was from Houston because Victoria’s technicians are overwhelmed. He was surprised my order was tended to so fast.
I’m now a happy camper thinking I finally won one over the man, but I’m also keeping my fingers crossed. How bad was my connection? My iPhone is seven times faster now, and I’m now getting a true HD quality picture from a prerecorded television show on my iPad. Put that in the plus side column of being retired because if I was working I would have worked around the issue until I found time for a resolution. I’m retired, so the time is now;I have the time.
I'm not done Suddenlink because if the connection speed doesn't hold ,the technician told me that I might need an updated coaxial cable ,one that has the dual routing purposes of an internet connection..You know the kind ,the download and upload capability that a television connection doesn't need.
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
I've never watched Fox and Friends, and it certainly feels strange posting a clip showing them asking the right questions about a massive cover-up. It's already been proven that nothing could have been done that night that would have prevented the death of Ambassador Stevens. The new whistleblower, Chris Hicks, will contradict assertions from the Obama administration, that no one was ever told to stand down and that all available resources were utilized. Hicks is saying a fly over by American aircraft would have stopped the second mortar attack because the terrorist would be frighten away.
As you will notice in the clip, Represenative Chaffetz praises the intelligence (CIA) but doesn't answer if General Petraeus was involved in the cover up. He can't admit that they if there was a cover-up, a lot of higher ups had to be involved.
This morning Joe Scarborough was all over this new revelation like white on rice. He quoted Mike Hucklebee, who said that this incident will prematurely end Obama's second term. Mike Huckabee, who used to be a preacher, sure does have a penchant for spreading unchristian like rumors.
This incident has been investigated to the satisfaction of many, and the Accountability Review Board laid the blame on the State Department as it should have. Susan Rice paid the price of relaying false talking points on the five Sunday talk shows saying that the incident was a protest and not an act of terrorism. A lot of people think it was done for political reasons, and I can't disagree with that but I never thought that the administration was trying to say Al-Qaeda was dead. They kept saying that Bin Laden's Al-Qaeda leadership had been dealt a crippling blow, and that sect was on the run.
The GOP wants the smoking gun that deals a severe blow to President Obama's foreign policy credentials. They really want the White House records detailing the president's whereabouts and actions after he was told that Benghazi was attacked. They want their version of President Bushes continuing to read " My Pet Goat" after learning that American had been attacked. They want to prove that the president went back to sleep and never raised any serious questions. If they can't get those records, they will settle for damaging Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential run.
Monday, May 6, 2013
All the talk shows minus Fox centered on gun control issues, Obama's first 100 days of his second term, the immigration standoff, Syria, and Al Qaeda and its relationship to the Boston marathon bombers. Fox News Sunday continued with their obsession over Benghazi. The conservative broadcast station wants to find that smoking gun that pins the first scandal on President Obama.
As it is every Sunday, conservative republicans outnumbered the democrats as guests. Republicans are allowed to continue pushing their background check talking points without opposition. They continue to say background checks would not have prevented Sandy Hook, without a Democrat saying that it's about the past shootings and future ones and not only about Sandy Hook. The tragedy that took place in Sandy Hook was the basis for a call to action. There are not enough people on the left who will stand up and say that background checks is merely the starting point and work towards an agreement from that point of view. This argument started with a watered down background check bill and will only get passed in the House after it's weaken even further. Everything is being played on the GOP's home turf because this tactic of governing as though you've won the last two elections seems to be working for them.
The hosts and guests all agreed that the president is off to a shaky start but they also had to admit that he has a lot of tools at his disposal to be considered irrelevant. I think President Obama is playing the long game; losing some battles along the way to win the war.
The base of the GOP has already gotten over the shock of losing two consecutive presidential elections, so they don't feel a need to change their views. They still believe that a policy that does not deport 11 million people who are here illegally is indeed amnesty. The base would rather that the 30 GOP governors impose some more voting repression laws instead. Despite what Senator Rubio says, they know that if the immigrants become citizens, most of them will vote for Democrats and the win will go to the president. The Senate would have to pass a bill with at least 75 vote margin to have any king of leverage on John Boehner and the Tea Party coalition.
Republican representative, Tom Cotton of Arkansas didn't waste any time on Meet the Press to go after what he perceives to be a weak president in Barrack Obama. He continues to talk about the five attacks on the homeland since the president was elected. That's what's wrong with a Sunday's talk show where no one wants to confront a controversial person or subject because of a national audience. Tom Cotton, Peter King, Rand Paul and Ted Cruz don't mind saying controversial things because their base eats it up. Let's take the misfits who wanted to blow up the Sears building in Chicago. In reality they couldn't find Chicago using a GPS, the same goes for the Manhattan bomber who locked himself out of his car and couldn't ignite gasoline. Timothy McVeigh and the terrorist who hijacked the airplanes to attack our country are the real deal and not be put into the same category as the losers and wannabe jihads. I don't know where to put one of the Boston Marathon bombers, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his three friends who tried to dispose vital evidence. I do think that they should all be tried in a Federal court and be punished accordingly. Dzhokhar was obviously brainwashed by his older brother but there's still not any evidence that shows he was affiliated with a radical Islamic group. I think a Congressional hearing on the events that led to the bombing is in order.
The GOP controlled House will hold another of many Benghazi hearings because they think the whistleblowers will shed some more light on the horrific event eight months ago. Supposedly the whistleblowers were threatened by the State Dept. to withhold crucial testimony. I'm pretty sure that the government gave a stern warning to the employees, as any large bureaucracy would. We'll see what it amounts to. For example, I imagine a petrochemical company would warn an employee about his testimony to the EPA. The Republicans remind me of what the democrats had to go through to get classified and non-classified 9/11 documents from the Bush White House. Yesterday, the GOP guest on Fox News was complaining of the State department looking over their shoulder as they looked over documents. The State Dept. probably remembers how Sandy Burger tried to stick documents in his socks a few years back.
I think Cokie Roberts hit the nail on the head when she said “there are a lot of people criticizing the president because he's not intervening in Syria but they don't really offer an alternative because there's not a good one.” Oh sure, now that Israel has struck the Syria a couple times people like John McCain can mock our current military leaders for their reluctance to set up a no-fly zone because of Syria's air defense system. I'm pretty sure the president regrets his “Red Line” statement but I seriously doubt that it weakens our country if we don't follow up on our threats. It's like a 6'5” 365 pound who gives you a stern warning but some reason choose not to beat you beat you up at the moment. Does a 5' 0” 110 pound person really feel emboldened after that or does he consider himself lucky?
Friday, May 3, 2013
Like so many Americans, my heart aches for the family of a two-year-old that was accidentally shot killed by her five-year-old brother. I was surprised what, Kentucky State Police Trooper Billy Gregory said “In this part of the country, it's not uncommon for a 5-year-old to have a gun or for a parent to pass one down to their kid," he said. I was equally surprised that a gun manufacturing company makes a gun and a commercial that caters to juveniles. There's a couple of manufacturers who cater to children but this one puts out rifle they call “Cricket.” They make a pink version for the young girls.
I know that children who are raised in rural areas learn how to drive a tractor at a very young age, and they are also taught how to shoot and respect a weapon at that age. I don't know the complete story of the Kentucky shooting and I'm not one to start placing blame on the parents because lord knows they have to live with this situation for the rest of their lives. My blame is saved for gun manufacturers who make money by enticing young children. How are they different from the cigarette manufacturers who make commercials targeting teenagers?
Last night I saw a very civil discussion between a liberal host, Chris Hayes and a gun enthusiast, Dan Baun who just wrote a book titled “ Gun Guys.”Dan Baun started by saying that he was angered by Chris Hayes’s intro where he described a gun culture out of control.Mr. Baun said that he was taught to shoot at age five, but his dad kept the rifle in a locked cabinet where children and thieves would have trouble gaining access to the weapons. Mr. Braun is not a member of the NRA because he said they've been radicalized since 1977. Come to think of it, 30 years ago we didn’t equate the second amendment with the NRA. In those days the NRA magazine was called the “American Rifleman” and its prime objective was to teach gun safety. I remember back in the sixties where the country kids had a rifle in their pickups mounted behind the seats and no one paid attention. The liberal and the gun enthusiast agreed that everyone should go through a background check to purchase a weapon and that we need to improve a system that allowed 237 people on the terror watch list to purchase a gun.
This issue continues to be about the $22 million the gun manufacturers will lose if any gun legislation prohibits the purchase of a weapon in any form or fashion. Poll numbers do not frighten legislators because as Senator Flake of Arizona said, “ those are just polls that are promoted by left wing websites.” Those were the same polls that stated that Senator Flake was going to win a close election. I am completely surprised that Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire told her constituents that she was afraid that background checks would lead to a Federal registrar. Senator Ayotte used to be a prosecutor, and we all know how they go through the law with a fine-tooth comb. I'm 100% positive that she knows that the bill included a 15 year prison term for anyone who kept a record of the background check. She's hoping that her constituents were too dumb to notice and but her approval has dropped 15% since she cast that no vote. Oh when you practice deceive.
The NRA and will hold its annual convention tonight in Houston Texas and they have chosen all the right wing crazies to speak to their crowd. Glenn Beck is the keynote speaker but in between the convention will feature the likes of Sarah Palin, Rick Santorum,Ted Nugent,Ted Cruz, and governors Bobby Jindal and Rick Perry. They will also hear from their newly elected president, an Alabama lawyer named Jim Porter. He'll fit right in because Porter said that the Civil War was about northern aggression, Obama was a fake president, and that Mr. Holder and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were“trying to kill the Second Amendment at the United Nations.” The vendors selling tinfoil hats and kool aid will make a killing. You've got to know that the media will attend the convention just so they can report on the ridiculous comments coming from that crowd. The NRA convention is CPAC on steroids. The speakers can’t wait to get to the gun show where they will get their picture taken displaying them holding an AR15. Nothing shows intelligence more than sporting a couple of bandoliers, a Bowie knife clinched between your teeth while holding an AR15 at the ready.
As I understand, another version of a background check bill will be submitted but this time it'll be much simpler. It won’t be submitted until after the immigration bill, and it will just include commercial sales like gun shows and the Internet sales. There's nothing like dumbing and watering down a piece of legislation to get Congress’s approval. We'll look back on this chapter of history and call it the era of wooziness.
Wednesday, May 1, 2013
I'm an old guy; I love my nostalgia, but I don't let it influence me that much. I believe there's a time and a place for everything, and that's why Joe Scarborough drives me up the wall when he continues to compare presidents Ronald Reagan and Lyndon Johnson to our current president. He always leaves out the part where Reagan won 49 states and Johnson consistently had control of both houses. Scarborough considers himself an expert in presidential politics because he served in Congress. That will give him a one up on me on the day –to- day operation but revisionist history cannot wipe out the reality of having to have 60 votes in the Senate in order to pass a major piece of legislation. President Obama has to have the votes of five Republican senators on any given day.
Joe Scarborough thinks President Obama is a weak president with no leadership skills, and some mainstream columnists are starting to write columns echoing the same thoughts. At his press conference yesterday, the president looked down beaten because nothing is getting done. Many in the press are blaming the president because the background check legislation failed although it had a 90% approval. I guess in a country where we believe that the “the buck stops here” that's to be expected. Unlike other presidents before him, Obama doesn't have earmarks to persuade a wavering lawmaker. Committee chairs are powerless with the sixty vote mandate. Polarization and primaries are the main reasons for the stalemate. Those situations may sound like excuses , but no one can deny that those conditions exist in today’s politics.
Republican representative Tom Cotton from Arkansas is a Harvard Rhodes Scholar and a veteran of two wars in the Middle East but has chosen to vote and take positions outside the mainstream in order to stay to the right of future competition. Senator Ted Cruz is a graduate of Harvard and Princeton, yet placates himself to the less-educated Tea Party. Those two politicians can see the reality of partisan redistricting, so they'll do and say whatever it takes to hold on to their seat. Peddle revisionist history, no problem, obstruction, easy consider it done and CNN, Meet the Press, and Fox loves to have controversial guests spout their views because it boosts ratings.
History is important and it should help us from repeating mistakes. I’ll bet my last dollar that the mistakes of invading Iraq is influencing the president’s decision on what to do about Syria. The president was talked into tripling the size of troops in Afghanistan because the surge in Iraq slowed down the violence. This is where history failed us with the surge of troops in Afghanistan because the countries and situations were not the same.
For some reason, the press doesn’t want to believe that the GOP hates the president even though Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) revealed that some members of his party opposed expanding background checks for gun sales recently because they didn't want to "be seen helping the president." The press forgets, and the Democrats don’t remind them of the meeting by GOP leaders had on the day of the president’s first inauguration where they decided to vote against anything that the president wanted. I remember the bad right- wing press Governor Chris Christie got when he praised President Obama’s Hurricane Sandy response. History will write that chapter, but it's not going to be before President Obama leaves office.
Joe Scarborough likes to say that President George. W. Bush was equally hated by the left, but he scrambles the whole eight years together. After 9/11 the country united and Bush enjoyed high approval ratings until he made the mistake of invading Iraq. Joe continues to say that Bush found a way to push through legislation as if to praise his leadership capabilities. That’s not so on many fronts because Democrats voted for the war resolution because they were afraid of being painted as being weak and Bush passed the two tax cuts through Budget Reconciliation where only 51 votes were needed. President Bush tried to pass Social Security privatization , but his own party didn’t back him up nor did they allow Harriet Miers to be a Supreme Court nominee.
History can be your ally or your foe so it’s important to get your fruits (apples and oranges) to match.