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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Racial Entitlement?

As he intended, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia caused quite a stir yesterday when he said “that the Court had to rescue Congress from the trap of being afraid to vote against a “racial entitlement”—the “entitlement” in question being the Voting Rights Act. (“Even the name of it is wonderful: the Voting Rights Act. Who is going to vote against that in the future?” This incident alone  makes me rethink the validity of  permanent appointments.Justice Roberts has been wanting to strike down the Voting Rights Act for longtime but he chose not to use the caustic language. This is another one of those issues they will come down to a 5-4 decision depending on what side Justice Kennedy takes.

It’s an interesting case where Shelby County, Alabama thinks that they should not be bound by the 1965 Voting Rights Act since they think they have cleaned up their act, and racism is not as prevalent as it once was. I think the most engaging aspect of the case is Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act which questions the merits of the formula the law uses to decide what states and counties have to get permission before enacting new voter provisions. I think the Supreme Court will take the cowardly approach and strike down the Voting Rights Act rather than send it back to Congress as they should. The politicos in Washington would never vote against the Voting Rights Act, so the action of the court could give them the political cover they want. I’ve noticed that the Republican lawmakers are remaining relatively quiet on this issue.

I’m surprised that Justice Roberts thinks that the Voter Rights Act is no longer necessary because we have elected a black president and several black legislators. It’s never been about who gets elected; it’s always been about who gets to vote. Recently a legislator in Pennsylvania was caught on tape bragging about enacting voter ID laws would ensure a Romney win. Texas had their voter ID laws shot down because it was just a political gimmick since they could not prove voter fraud.

Striking down section five of the Voting Rights Act will not take us back to the days of Jim Crow because section two of the Act is a permanent part of the statute that prevents literary tests, poll taxes, or other types of shenanigans intended to suppress the minority vote.

I’m reminded of something I saw on a liberal blog after Justice Roberts sided with the liberals when he said that the Affordable Care Act was constitutional under the commerce clause. The blogger warned not to start singing the praises of Justice Roberts just yet, because affirmative action, DOMA and section five of the Voters’ Rights Act are on the docket, so there was still a lot of time for Roberts to reclaim his conservative bona fides.

Under normal circumstances, I would be left wondering how Congress would react to a strike down of section five of the Voters Rights Act, but with the makeup of the house, I’m pretty sure they’ll be some silent high fives. Perhaps the Senate could look at 2012 data and create a new formula and target districts that are known for their political shenanigans and then put pressure on John Boehner to bring it up for a vote. It’s a little premature, perhaps Justice Kennedy may wake up and want to do the right thing.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

It’s all about the numbers

Findings from the latest WSJ/NBC Poll

Where are those 11 poor states?

I thought I would paste in the chart to show those who are interested just where the country has been for a long while. You can choose to believe or disbelieve the poll numbers, but the Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll was a lot more accurate than Gallup or Rasmussen in the last election. The map clearly shows that the GOP has land mass and the Dems have the most populated areas.

Did you hear about the Republicans latest plan? The Senate Republicans want to give the president the authority to make the cuts where he wishes. That’s ludicrous, and the White House knows what they’re up to. The GOP reads the polls, and they see that they will once again take the fall for the sequester failure, so they are trying to dupe the president. I’m sure the White House had a good laugh, but the president will invite congressional leaders over Friday afternoon for little chat. Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell already said that revenues would not be part of the deal. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke told the Senate that they are engaging in backward thinking. He said they should be working on long-term solutions and not be obsessed over short term deficits.

The congressional Republicans remind me of local poster Jack Evony, who despite the poll numbers and election results, he still thinks that his philosophy still reins superior. He said Obama supporters are from poor states (he said there were 11 states but didn’t name them), and those states had 166 electoral votes. In fact, he said that those Obama voters made more money off welfare than a man could off a regular 40-hour week. If Jack kept up with politics, he would know that no Republican candidate has not won a state above the Mason-Dixon line since 1988. Perhaps George W. Bush won New Hampshire don’t know but the northeast, west, and Midwest states like Colorado and Nevada then and there are solid blue states like Illinois, Michigan Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa and Pennsylvania. Being in denial is not a good political strategy. As the panel on “Morning Joe “were once again talking about the demise of the GOP, Tom Brokow spoke of the ebb and flow of politics but then advertising elite Donny Deutsch, said" it is not about their policies or the big tent, its that people see the GOP as an old white man's party that refuses to change.”

I love math because it’s a science that can’t be disputed although some try to manipulate it. For example, neither party tried to keep the payroll tax cut (2% FICA) it was allow to expire, so it was no surprise when the retail giants came under their sales projections. It’s the good-paying middle class jobs that will keep those retail sales up. That doesn’t keep Walter Williams from recycling his minimum wage propaganda because the only part he’s right about is the entry-level position. The minimum wage increase (long overdue) would be phased in, and companies would adjust. I wish our local paper would splurge a little and feature a real economist because we sure could use it.

It would be interesting to get a local perspective from a prominent local republican such Dale.I would be interested to know if they think that the national GOP has the problem and if it does can it be fixed at the grassroots level?  Sort of like a rising tide lifts all boats.I know the GOP still growing strong in Texas but can it hold off a mass registration by the DNC and their cronies?

If the GOP had the numbers they wouldn’t be trying all their gimmicks to keep people from voting.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Monday Morning Tidbits

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The Sunday talk shows were about the inevitable sequester cuts, which will start Friday. It’s never about a solution it’s always about who’s the blame and the one talking is defending their version of the facts. Spin is what it amounts to. The GOP is now  saying that the cuts aren’t really that bad because proportionately most of the cuts will not affect this year’s spending. I really like what Chris Matthews had to say this morning “ Republicans go to work looking for something they can cut other than defense spending, and Democrats will try to find some way of helping the people who are hurting. The taxpayers are pulling on the apron strings of both parties, so that’s the reason we have so much debt.” Republicans think they can only raise taxes once every thirty years, but that’s a philosophy they’ll all fight for. On the other hand, some Democrats want to reform entitlements, and some don’t. Someone said we could stop the crisis with a one-page bill repealing the sequester cuts, but that’s too easy.

I did see a good discussion Saturday morning about why Democrats and liberal- progressives should care about the continuing degeneration of the Republican Party. The panel on MSNBCs “Up with Chris Hayes “show came up with a conclusion that the Democrats will become complacent and the default party but nothing else, if they’re not pushed by a strong opposition party. There’s a good example of that in my opening paragraph, where we just play the blame game and pay very little attention to the merits of any argument. The GOP will eventually find a leader they can all coalesce around, and the Democrats need to be prepared for that. Right now, the Democrats are aligned, but they need to stand for something and not as just be the party with the most reasonable position at the time because the other solution is way out of the mainstream.

A week ago, a good friend of ours had tears in her eyes, as she told about a recent increase in their healthcare insurance premium. It seems that they were not warned of the $300 a month increase, but she immediately blamed Obamacare. That’s where we are these days; we find the most common villain and just dump our troubles there. If I heard it right, it was a private insurance company that raised the rates, but she never told us the reason why. Her being a good friend, we did what came naturally; we just nodded our heads as if we were in agreement. If we were in another venue and the circumstances were different, I would’ve told her to pick up the latest copy of Time magazine (I'm  still reading all the fine detains of the article for a future blog) so she could see all the waste, fraud, and abuse that’s going on in our healthcare system. I just had a 62-year-old friend of mine, who was fixing to retire, tell me that he was going to stay an additional three years because after this year, his company would no longer offer health insurance.

I was hoping that the “ Pro/Con: Minimum wage thread” would get some interesting comments but the first one I saw was about a city worker getting slammed because he favored a minimum wage increase. It’s one of those “I pay your salary, so I’ll decide if, when, and how much you get” standard answers when you mention public employees.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Come’ on Victorians!

I take a lot of pride in my hometown, and it’s embarrassing to see how a few posters can literally turn a mole hill into a mountain with the same stale arguments that don’t make any sense  but I can’t get away from it because it’s in my local newspaper.

The other day the Victoria Advocate ran a story about the Victoria Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; thus opening the door for the same insane comments about racism. There’s the same old. “ what would the cry be if it was a white Chamber of Commerce?” This is akin to “a white Miss America contest and the white congressional caucus arguments of the past.” The so-called white race is made of hundreds of ethnicities,so that’s not even a valid argument. In the business or political world, breakout  groups are referred to as special interests groups and what they are doing is called networking. It’s no different from the Masonic Lodge, Lions Club the local Veterans of Foreign Wars. I could see if the members were in the back rooms plotting against whitey but there’s no evidence of that. This is about twenty-five or more members of the Hispanic community lobbying for maybe ten or more Hispanic businesses. For example, let's pretend some Fiesta store executives were looking to locate in this area. It just might be a plus if they could contact someone in the  Victoria Hispanic Chamber of Commerce for some in-depth information they couldn’t get from the Victoria Chamber of Commerce. Everyone’s a winner and we just might get a new company to share the tax load. Some people need to get out of the back woods, book a flight to New York and go enjoy Little Italy,China Town and Spanish Harlem to see how some cultures remain in tact but are still tax paying patriotic  Americans. There is single definition for the word American;it’s whatever you want it to be.

Another example of needlessly stirring the pot are the words of VA forum poster, Rachel Johnson, over an incident of a 20 year –old mother and her 14-month infant being ejected from their vehicle when she said"CAR SEATS Mexicans! CAR SEATS! For crying out loud I am soooo sick of seeing this happen. "  There is not person reading this blog who doesn’t wish that the mother and her child were buckled up but somehow this woman(Johnson) felt her words were necessary. Someone called her out for racial remarks, but she said she calls them as she sees them and cited a study that stated that minorities don’t tend to restrain their toddlers. The article in the USAToday said it was because of economic reasons or educational ones. What she left out (which is usually the case) is seat belt use among African Americans increased nationally from 51% in 1996 to 77% in 2002. That growth was due partly to the efforts of groups such as the NAACP, the National Urban League, the National Council of Negro Women, Meharry Medical College and the Congress of National Black Churches, among others….There’s those special interest racists groups again;doing some good.

Before I start on Carl Bankston’s letter, I have to admit I was wrong for thinking that Senator McConnell knew anything about a letter a young staffer wrote to the Pentagon (using McConnell’s stationary) inquiring about detainees getting G.I. bill rights.That’s all the information I had at the time, but I should have known McConnell was too smart to ask a dumb question like that.

Mr. Bankston would have us believe that President Obama has started a domestic surveillance program from inside a department President Bush created only after much resistance and pressure from the 9/11 Commission.

It’s awfully suspicious but all the concerns Mr. Bankston  wrote about has not been reported by the New York Times or the Washington Post. If you highlight DHS bought 450 million rounds of hallow –point ammunition and domestic surveillance arm of the  United States Government and place the link into your favorite browser,  all you will pull up is right wing blog sites. Oh, if I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard someone from the right quote the “dedicated to fundamentally changing America”by President Obama to always mean something cynical,I'd be a rich man.

Our government is fulfilling a contract made with the previous regime of Egypt but perhaps it should be rescinded and we should ask Lockheed to keep their jets and refund the taxpayer’s money.We could send those tanks to the Las Vegas graveyard where the rest of our standby tanks are.

I don’t know Mr. Bankston, but I went to school with my Republican friends, attended funerals of friends we had in common, and we share warm greeting  every time we meet  but I would hate to think that they actually believe a president of the United States or our government is plotting against us in a tyrannical way. I’ve gone through one “black helicopter” era and that’s enough.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

I canceled Newsweek and Time Magazine

I thought about it over the weekend, and then I told myself it’s now or never. Canceling Newsweek was pretty easy because recently it went to digital format only, so with a simple notation at iToons, I was able to complete my mission. I received the print and digital version of Time, for the same price, so I went online and instructed them not to renew my subscription, thereby killing two birds with one stone.

I’ve always preferred weekly magazines because they normally went into more detail, and I liked some of the authors who wrote articles exclusively for the magazine. I developed a habit of  posting a reference link to an article, but I couldn’t do that if a story resided on my iPad. That’s when I found out that these author’s articles were posted on-line for free, so “why buy the cow if you can get the milk for free?” For example,every Sunday Fareed Zakaria will start his CNN show by repeating the article he just wrote for Time. Then again, people in this day and age don’t care about the details because their mind are made up by the time they are finished getting their filtered news.

I’m embarrassed to see what passes for news nowadays. Congressional  hearings used to be a serious venue;well there were the McCarthy hearings but overall senators, and representatives would do their homework and then ask serious questions. I ‘m sure by now you have heard about this story.

Breitbart News editor-at-large Ben Shapiro reported:
On Thursday, Senate sources told Breitbart News exclusively that they have been informed that one of the reasons that President Barack Obama’s nominee for Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, has not turned over requested documents on his sources of foreign funding is that one of the names listed is a group purportedly called “Friends of Hamas.”
“There was, it turns out, a problem with the story: Friends of Hamas does not exist, and never has.” This piece of garbage was never vetted, but it was repeated by GOP senators as a reason Hagel should not be nominated.

If only this was an isolated case because one that really blew me out of the water was the one about the seasoned minority leader of the senate,Mitch McConnell asking the pentagon  to confirm or deny a story about detainees getting G.I. benefits. Is McConnell that naïve or is he that stupid?
I can’t imagine Walter Cronkite,Tedd Koppel,Peter Jennings or Edward R. Murrow putting up the internet nonsense we sometimes take for news. We still have some outstanding journalists but they are being overshadowed by partisan bloggers in our 24/7 hourly news shows.

Despite it being in the days before the 24/7 news cycle I don’t remember all the pity parties being thrown for democrats when President Reagan won 49 states and started a 12 year dominance.This morning one of my favorite political characters,James Carville,said Democrats should use non-liberal language when talking about guns or their fellow Democrats will suffer in the red states. Who am I to argue with Carville but why do liberals always have to give conservatives the home field advantage? If the tables were turned, the conservatives would just double down on their message. The daily conversation is about the GOP makeover but tune in to CSPAN  on March 14-16 and you will see the same old party shouting the same rhetoric at their annual CPAC summit.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

We are So Superficial

After looking for a word to describe what I heard on “Morning Joe” I finally settled on the word “superficial” because according to the dictionary I used that word means “Concerned with or comprehending only what is apparent or obvious; not deep or penetrating emotionally or intellectually.” Isn’t that what we do every day?

The topic this morning was the president’s phone calls to senators Rubio, McCain and Graham, congratulating them for their efforts in trying to get a comprehensive immigration bill through the Senate. The president only did this because he knows he has to play the political game for the media. The 2007 immigration bill is still the template, and you couldn’t squeeze a paper clip between the Senate's version, and the one drafted by the White House. The White House version threw out the red meat out for the naysayers because it put in an eight-year time frame for someone who’s here illegally to gain citizenship; bypassing border enforcement first. That language gave Marco Rubio the opportunity to jump up and down and cry foul and gain some support from his base.

There’s only one issue to be resolved, and it lies within the GOP. That elephant in the room is the 11 million undocumented immigrants. Those that vote Republican because they could never vote for a Democrat want attrition only and if that means bankrupting the country, the party, and maintaining this wedge issue; so be it. The Republicans want the president to get involved but when he does, they accuse him of derailing the bipartisan effort. The truth is, the Democrats at those meetings are just the potted plants because there are they ready to push the “yea” button but the Republicans need to reinvent the English language to try to convince their base that what they are proposing is not amnesty. If anyone saw the video clips of Senator McCain fighting for the Senate's proposal in his district; you would have a better understanding of what I’m trying to say. I think we all know why the GOP wants an immigration bill to pass.They have already lost the black vote, the Asian vote and the single woman vote and to keep losing the fastest growing demographic(Latino vote) by over 45 percentage points  will mean permanent minority status at the national level;no pun intended.It's very difficult for them because it's as if they are recruiting for the opposition party. They feel like they are using a coffee cup to remove water from their sinking boat. I don't feel sorry for them because they put themselves in that situation by allowing the hateful rhetoric to dominate their overall message.  

With so many issues to be concerned with, Fox News White House correspondent, Ed Henry, is throwing a fit because the media did not get access to the golf outing between Tiger Woods and President Obama. Really, how about an expose about the financial devastation the upcoming sequester cuts will cost? Talk about a superficial manufactured crisis; the stock market doesn’t pay any attention to Washington anymore because they know when push comes to shove, Congress will kick the can down the road and eventually come back to the same place they were three months ago. The truth is, you won’t get a republican excited by saying that 200,000 federal jobs will be lost.

For the past for four years, I’ve heard that this president is not like past presidents because he doesn’t reach out to his fellow Democrats or to the opposition party. The pundits don’t realize that whatever he’s doing; it gave him two terms, and he just might be setting precedent for successful presidents of the future. If we subjectively look back on this presidency; I think we will find that President Obama accomplished a lot more than most presidents. He was the first in 100 years to get a comprehensive health-care package passed, did not allow us to go into a deep recession, ended the war in Iraq, disposed of Osama bin Laden and Omar Qaddafi, ended “Don’t Ask Don't. tell” got the Republicans to vote for a tax increase for the first time in 30 years and there are still the immigration and gun universal background checks to go.

There’s a plus to being my age; you don’t have to play the superficial game unless you want to.

Monday, February 18, 2013

What Could the Moderates be Thinking?

I’m not a moderate by any stretch of anyone’s imagination but after watching this week’s Sunday talk shows I was asking myself. “what do the moderates think of all this?” The subject of immigration came up where people on the right said that the president has to lead. It wasn’t but a couple of minutes later when Newt Gingrich said that any proposal offered by the president would not be accepted by the Republican House of Representatives. John Boehner keeps saying that he doesn’t think President Obama. “has the guts" to seriously address the country's debt and deficit.  The word “seriously” means austerity to Boehner and it only, reinforces the saying.. “ damned if you do and damned if you don’t.”

The pundits love the squabbles, and they ask questions in a way that they hope will escalate the fighting because it helps their ratings. It doesn’t have to be at the national level either; I kept wondering what the moderates thought of my view on civil liberties and the use of drones which I made on another blog. I’m not trying to appease the moderates, but I often wonder if the needle of my left-of-center meter is taking a downward trend toward extremism when I answer another poster’s question. I think people like honesty because they can see through the lollipops and unicorns' effort to remain uncontroversial. For example,BigJ asked on another blog,” Since this is a liberal/ progressive blog, let me tell you where I stand that is against liberals. Why are liberals believe in man made global warming, but yet refuse to acknowledged sunspots in relation to Earth temperature? Why is liberals are pro choice, but yet anti-choice when it comes to unions?” I can answer the questions honestly as I can, but they would be my own opinion because I obviously don’t speak for liberals. As for myself, I don’t disavow sunspots, natural warming, or any other reasons our planet is getting hotter. I’ve continually said that we know fossil fuels (hydrocarbons) are heat-trapping gases, which is contributing to our planet getting hotter. We have control over this by curbing emissions and investing in cleaner energy. The second part of BigJ’s question is much harder because one is a social issue, and the other is economic one. A consistency of the word “choice” is more about wordplay than anything else.

Study after study has proven that liberals and conservatives are wired differently, and this is why they approach problems the way they do. For a variety of reasons, moderates carry ideas from both ideologies but oftentimes their ideas don’t come to the surface because they can’t get past the noise coming from the extremes of both sides. The extremes of both sides are where the markers are, so the answer to our problems is to navigate between the two and then side with the one that makes the most sense for now. The most sense side will vary from time to time. In politics, we know that for right now,we need legislation that can generate 218 votes in the house and 60 votes in the Senate in order for it pass and be sent to the president before it will become law. As for climate-change remedies, all we can expect is to shore up the flood barriers to combat the rising sea levels that cause havoc after a storm. Universal background checks will be the only thing that has a chance of passing in this Congress to curb gun violence, but that doesn’t mean that the fight is over. The only way things will happen, is to change the makeup of Congress. In the examples I gave, that moderates are the equalizers and not necessarily the generators of good ideas.

I’ve never met a moderate, but I’ve met several who call themselves that but they are just disinterested in the political process. I’ve also met those who say they are fiscal conservatives and social liberals, but they’re saying, “I’m above the fray.” An example of that are the six senators who are afraid to vote to ban the extended clips because they live in a red state. I’m saying that a politician’s vote might not be a good gauge to determine whether they are moderate, liberal, or conservative because some of them are opportunists.

Today is Presidents Day and we all have a favorite president, but I wonder whether any modern-day president will make the list since we are so polarized. Today and in the future, every president or candidate will get more and more scrutiny, so much so, that good people may not come forward and take part in the process.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Now I’m Beginning to Understand the Difference

 The Dumbphone

I finally got the republican message the other day when Chris Matthews was interviewing a representative of the Tea Party Express. Every question he asked her got a response, of “ we need to reduce our debt.” That in itself is not a bad goal but more importantly, it lays out the differences between liberals and conservatives.

Allow me to simplify the mindset of the ideological divide in our country. Republicans want a balanced budget and they want to remain revenue neutral throughout. For example, right now we spend about 25% of GDP and take in 15% of GDP(revenues), leaving a 10% budget deficit. Republicans don’t want more revenues for balance because they are upset with the 25% we currently spend. Their goal is to get spending to 18% of GDP, which will leaves no room for expanding or maintaining entitlements and social programs. That’s their smaller government approach which means they are in favor of tax reform if all the savings go toward lowering the debt. Once we get the savings, then they want to broaden the base and lower the corporate and individual rates. That is classis supply-side trickle- down economics that has never worked.

Democrats are not against a balanced budget but they don’t want a constitutional amendment that requires it. That would mean making equivalent cuts in social programs, every time FEMA went over their budget amount, in responding to a natural disaster. Democrats think that we have to continue investing in education, innovation and infrastructure to remain competitive. I don’t think anyone can disagree that we are behind in education, innovation and infrastructural repair.

Joe Scarborough is trying to turn everyone against the Nobel Prize winning Paul Krugman because he said that we don’t have to worry about the debt right now. Joe is obsessed with the debt (we will never pay it off in my lifetime) and he talks about it every day. Paul Krugman is obsessed with jobs and he thinks that worrying about the debt can be put off for now. Joe Scarborough thinks Congress can do two things at once and Paul Krugman disagrees with that.

There’s a lot of “blowing out someone’s candle to make theirs shine brighter” attitude from people who are demonizing those on welfare and it starts at the headquarters of the GOP. Republicans continue to spread the myth that democrats support a culture of government dependency. In fact, Marco Rubio, alluded to that in his rebuttal to the president’s SOTU the other night. The demographics have changed a lot from that of the 1980s Ronald Reagan era. This new generation is not anti- government and they see a positive role for an efficient government. Government doesn’t solve all our problems but that doesn’t mean it can’t solve any problems. For those of you who don’t need government, good for you and I applaud your success but not everyone has your good fortune.

Senate majority leader Harry Reid, got his hat handed to him after he expected Mitch McConnell to keep up his end of the bargain of limiting the filibuster rule. The republican senators made history by blocking a president’s cabinet position nominee when the 60 vote threshold was not met. John McCain said on tape that he would not filibuster Chuck Hagel , thus allowing it to go to the floor for an up or down vote. He excuses his slide by saying that it was a temporary delaying tactic to get more information and that once recess is over(10 days), he and Lindsey Graham would vote to let the nomination come to the floor. At least John McCain is honest by saying that it’s about payback for Chuck Hagel saying that President Bush was the worst president in our lifetime (true) and the surge in Iraq was the worst foreign policy ever. Some senators like Lindsey Graham are holding the nomination as a hostage, to get more answers about Benghazi. I think the minority party is using all the delays, as a last stop effort to keep any of Obama’s agenda from getting a vote. They think they will gain enough seats in 2014 to be the majority in 2014.

There’s been a long tradition that freshmen senators were to be seen and not heard but Ted Cruz has broken that tradition, but he’s in good company because Rand Paul and Marco Rubio did the same thing but they didn’t get the coverage. Ted Cruz had the audacity to question the patriotism of a bronze star recipient, Chuck Hagel and everyday he is making a a complete ass of himself . Texas’s other senator is up for reelection in 2014, and he’s scared he will get primarried by someone to the right of him, so the joke around Washington is that Ted Cruz has two votes. Democrats are sticking with the tradition because their rising star, Senator Elizabeth Warren, is following in the footsteps of Hillary Clinton by keeping a low profile. Well yesterday, Senator Warren put Wall Street and the federal regulators on notice with a simple question “have you ever taken a bank or Wall Street CEO to trial?”

The GOP is angry and frustrated because no one likes to be the minority party,so right now they are struggling with their identity,do they want to be a Tea Party or like like they were in the 1990s? It took the Democrats 12 years to get over their losing ways until Bill Clinton showed them the way with a little help from Ross Perot.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Buying Junk Food With Food Stamps

I still can’t get over the fact that some people scrutinize other people’s shopping basket looking for food stamp fraud. Do they pick a minority in front of them before peeking or do they check everyone as a routine habit? I’m not a regular shopper, so I wouldn’t know what fancy frozen vegetables are. I don’t like to shop,so if I’m in a grocery line,I don’t want small talk from the cashier nor do I look to see what some people are purchasing and how they are paying.

First, I wouldn’t particularly mind if the government  changed their rules to force a healthier choice for food stamp recipients because it would help the overall problem of nutrition and health care.  I can remember Michelle Obama getting vilified by the right, when she tried to make people aware of the benefits of eating healthy.  I get it ,it's not government intrusion if it's imposed on poor people.

A Victoria online forum poster, Denise Scott has the right to get angry when she sees a violation of the food stamp laws, but she doesn't get to make stuff up.  Cashiers at grocery stores who take food stamps go through a school to learn what can or cannot be purchased with food stamps.  The grocery stores do not want to lose their food stamp license.  Every cashier knows that food stamp recipients cannot buy cigarettes, beer and household items, and they make sure that the camera that’s watching them doesn't see an illegal transaction taking place.  If a violation takes place outside the camera's view, then it's up to people like Denise to tell someone, if she wants to stop fraud.  I think companies take a lot of steps to make sure they are in compliance because one citizen’s complaint will alert the authorities;not to mention the bad PR.

The poster pointed out an illegal food stamp profiteering scenario by Wal-Mart and H-E-B without offering any proof.  In 2012, the government spent $103 billion for food stamps, and CBO predicts that the $110 billion will be spent this year.  The money from food stamps goes to pay the grocer and  stimulates the economy  because the money will be spent to pay employees, truck drivers and farmers, so they can pay their taxes.  When employment is at normal levels, food stamp recipients decrease and those people start paying income taxes. Again, I don't think those companies will jeopardize their license or their reputation for a few bucks.

If we're trying to make a case that some human beings will take advantage of a worthwhile program; point taken but that's throughout society, not just government assistance recipients.  We'll always have that slave mentality when it comes to government assistance.  It's like when we criticize our brother –in- law for buying a six- pack after we just lent him $500 because he was  laid off.  We tell ourselves that we're helping our sister and the children,  so we have to criticize their lifestyles.  I’ll say it again; for the most part, people would rather work and fend for themselves than have people look down at them. They can also avoid those who are  always trying to control all aspects of their lives because they are the ward of someone's ear marked tax money.  That's how some people are.

Some people would like to see all welfare recipients be drug tested.  I could use the pro gun slippery slope logic and say what's next;all those who receive government contracts need to be drug tested? That’s been tried and only 2% of those tested were found to be drug users.

Now I got that out the way and I feel a lot better.

Monday, February 11, 2013

It’s Still A Message War

 GOP Message

I'm no longer looking for a compromise coming from the Sunday talk shows or from tomorrow night's State of the Union address(SOTU); I'm just looking for the rephrasing of the same-old  message.  The Republicans want to cut spending, and the Democrats want to include revenue with every budget deal.

The big topic Sunday was the upcoming $85 billion in across –the- board sequestered cuts. The Tea Party freshmen are delighted because they think it’s the only to get the massive cuts they want. They only need to look at the U.K. to see what will happen if you make drastic cuts during a financial downturn. The U. K. is entering a triple- dip recession.

The president suggested the sequester cuts as a measure to make Congress hammer out a budget deal thinking that the massive cuts would never be a reality. Key Republicans supported the Budget Control Act and the consequences of doing nothing since then leaves us with the sequester cuts.
This morning Joe Scarborough said that Eric Cantor’s “[The president] just got his tax hike on the wealthy. And you can't in this town every three months raise taxes. Again, every time, that's his response" is a reasonable approach and democrats ought to get behind it or else the moderates will align themselves with the GOP. That’s ridiculous  because for one,it’s the first time in 20 years that the GOP has voted to raise taxes and they think it’s a one time thing. The president ran on a balance approach for every  budget deal and the American people agreed with him.

Republicans like to say that we have a spending problem not a revenue problem.I’m not going to say that the government doesn’t spend too much because it obviously does;I’m saying now that we are in this predicament; we need to take a balanced approach, so we don’t hurt our weak economy. After all we are mostly borrowing from ourselves, and interest rates are really low right now.

Joe Scarborough had a problem with Nancy Pelosi saying that we don’t have a spending problem. She keeps saying that we a have a jobs and growth problem. It’s all about the messaging because we know that we need to make some cuts but cutting tax loopholes to oil companies means we won’t have to make drastic gashes to nutrition programs for poor children.   Joe Scarborough was very angry  because Pelosi is not in favor of raising the eligibility  age for Medicare and Social Security. Joe doesn’t buy the Democrat approach of waiting to see how much Obamacare does to bring down the cost of healthcare before making unnecessary moves that might not be needed. The full implementation of Obamacare will take place next year.Social Security does not increase the deficit and it will only take a few steps to make it solvent for another 75 years.

Senator Lindsey Graham  has an obsession with hanging the administration for the failure of our Benghazi response that led to the death of four Americans. He’s insisting on more details like the timeline of events and the president’s curiosity throughout the seven-hour  event. He’s threatening to hold up the nominations of Chuck Hagel as defense secretary and John Brennan to head up the CIA until he satisfied.  Last time the GOP tried this, Hillary Clinton made them look like fools.  Representative  Tom Cotton, Bill Kristol and Lindsey Graham are trying to say the president was derelict in his duty in handling the Benghazi tragedy, Chris Wallace kept opening the door for Rep. Cotton and Bill Kristol to say the president is not fit to be the commander- in- chief.

I understand that in tomorrow’s SOTU address the president will not hold out another olive branch to republicans but instead challenge them to come to table as an opposition party not as a hostage taking party. Immediately after the SOTU,Senator Marco Rubio will give the GOP’s response and for those interested, Rand Paul will deliver the Tea Party response.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

I could Kick Myself

I am writing a short blog to do a little housekeeping and apologize for falling prey to troll bait yesterday. I was trying to multitask and posted several things that could be misconstrued, and I will follow up on that later. I even posted “so your labeling me a socialist (I know the definition) don't phase me” when I should have used the word faze instead of phase.

Perry Mason or whatever the troll decides to call himself today, accomplished his mission of posting his troll bait ,as he has done many times before, much to the displeasure of VA forum. They banned the troll several times.He never took the hint that it just might be his fault ,so  he wrote his own blog to disparage the VA forum but he couldn’t stay off the forum he so despised.He kept logging on using a different alias but  posting the same garbage, thinking no one would be the wiser. I alerted the VA a couple of times myself, as well as others,of his unwelcome presence. That’s background on what I’m dealing with.The poster has an outdated website and I’ll give you link if you what to know what’s he really like.

Let me make it perfectly clear for those of you who do not know me; I don’t think people are racists just because they believe in rule- of- law and think any form of amnesty is wrong. Now,the poster in question is obsessed with the issue and deserves to be called a racist because of his past and present comments. I do think people are naïve if they think attrition will work after many years of failure. I’m moving on from the immigration battles of 2007 because this time it’s different because the GOP knows it’s in their interest(if they want to continue to win national elections) to be part of the solution. Hate radio rhetoric will not win the day anymore.

I said it was going to short and sweet and I would appreciate an email or a post if and when I have have another weak moment. I can't mock the ridiculous arguments that substitute for a serious debate if I engage in the silliness. I  went a long time without succumbing to troll bait; I failed yesterday and now I know it’s still a work in progress. I should have taken the advice I have given to others “ there’s only one way to deal with a troll ….ignore.”

Have a good day

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Rule of Drone Law

Joe Scarborough has been on a weeklong rampage after NBC’s Michael Isikoff found a memo that authorized the president to target American civilians abroad if they pose an imminent threat to our country. The word imminent is not clearly worded, and the definition is left to those who can order a drone kill. It doesn’t even say if the president is limited to killing suspected citizens in the United States.

I don’t mind Joe Scarborough being upset by this, but he keeps saying that liberals were outraged when President George W. Bush used to enhance interrogation methods (torture); however, now they remain silent. He doubled down by saying that we owe John Woo, the man who wrote the memo that authorized torture, an apology because it pales in comparison to drone strikes on American citizens who are denied due process. Joe’s apples and oranges analogy doesn’t hold water, even though both are unconstitutional. Joe Scarborough is not known for his thorough investigation of the facts, but he only has the look in his own network. MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, Lawrence O’Donnell, the New York Times, Chris Hayes and Katrina Vander Heuvel have been complaining about the drone strikes killing American citizens and innocent civilians, ever since Anwar al-Awlaki and his 16-year-old son Samir Khan, were killed by a drone strike. Rachel challenged the president last night. Republicans like Joe Scarborough always play the victim card and will never admit that the invasion of Iraq was a blunder from the start to the end. He thinks that this memo Isikoff found is some sort of vindication for the use of torture by the previous administration.

I’m still deeply troubled that we are still holding some detainees indefinitely without giving them their day in court. We have a little over 50 detainees who are ready to be released because we could not find anything to them charge them with, but  we can’t find a country to take them. I believe in our justice system, so I don’t see why we don’t try the remaining detainees in Federal courts, close Guantanamo Bay and send those who we find guilty to our super Max prisons. I don’t know what to do with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the man who plotted 9/11, because we tortured him, so any hopes of convicting him in civilian court is impossible, unless we throw out the constitution.

I’m delighted that Congress is looking to limit America’s authority to kill suspected terrorist and US Citizens. The Senate Foreign Relations will probably have a hearing, and they should insist that the administration let them see the classified Justice Department legal opinion justifying the drone strikes and especially those that target American citizens. I can see the justification for killing American citizens who are affiliated with groups who want to attack our country, but we still need to give them due process; whenever possible. I understand that Anwar al-Awlaki was always on the move, so we had to take him out at the first opportunity available. Congress needs to exercise its authority and uphold the rule of law and not use this occasion to make political points.

This the United States of America, a nation of laws, and not some third-world country that relies on memos as justification to circumvent our constitution. Upholding our laws and constitution does not weaken us; just the opposite. We can’t expect other countries to look up to us if we are doing the same things rogue nations do.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

The Illegal Immigration Issue is Back

A week ago, a bipartisan delegation of senators rolled out their version of a comprehensive immigration reform package that is very similar to the one that was rejected in 2007.  This new plan is just the skeleton framework of the one which will eventually pass. The real sausage making will take place in the House of Representatives.

The GOP sent out their Hispanic representative Cuban –American ,Marco Rubio but their other Cuban –American,Ted Cruz said I appreciate the good work that senators in both parties have put into trying to fix our broken immigration system. There are some good elements in this proposal, especially increasing the resources and manpower to secure our border and also improving and streamlining legal immigration. However, I have deep concerns with the proposed path to citizenship. To allow those who came here illegally to be placed on such a path is both inconsistent with rule of law and profoundly unfair to the millions of legal immigrants who waited years, if not decades, to come to America legally” which is quite honestly the position that derailed the last proposal? Texas’s other senator, John Cornyn, agreed with Cruz because he’s up for reelection in 2014, so until then he will echo whatever the junior senator has to say.

This Senate version excludes the LGBT community of a pathway to citizenship.  The plan also calls for border security first, and I’m ashamed to say that the Democrats signed off on that.  The 2007 immigration plan had more security first... front and center and this administration has surpassed the metrics of that plan.  I can understand why the GOP wants it in the plan, but Democrats need to point out that net migration into this country has dipped to zero.  President Obama is setting deportation records.  For example, in 2010, his administration deported 392,000 people and last year they surpassed that by deporting  410,000 people.  A record $18 billion(more than any other Federal law enforcement) was spent on border security.  We now have about 21,000 border agents, 5000 ICE agents and 207  immigration judges, but it was our weak economy that made the southern border manageable.  It's not about higher electrified fences, more drones, or more restrictive policies.

Now is the optimal time to discuss comprehensive immigration reform.It's a known fact that we have an aging population, and our birth rate is dropping and so is those of our immigrants.

I heard a republican say that instead of giving  immigrants in the high- tech field citizenship;  we should be training our own in those jobs.  The concept is not a bad one, but it's a little late on saying what we should've done and besides, we should practice what we preach.  Why weren't the republicans asking for more money for high tech job-training programs?  They do control the purse strings.

It's understandable since 58% of those that come into this country illegally come from Mexico, that most of the conversation would be centered on them.  That being the case, those who are advising the GOP -have to do more than tell them not to use the words, illegal, amnesty, alien and anchor baby when discussing illegal immigration because the advisers are being disingenuous.  Those derogatory terms have been passed down for generations and are ingrained into the hearts of those people who use them.  Skirting the issue for political gain never works unless you think Americans are stupid and can't see through that.  Marco Rubio can suger-coat the word amnesty all he wants and Chuck Shumer can say that they will pay a fine,learn English and all that but it's forgiveness because we don't have a will,plan or the resources to deport 11 million undocumented people.

You only need to read the latest copy of the National Review to see what I'm talking about.  The National Review article was right when it stated that, politically, it's not a good move for republicans.  It's a myth that Hispanics tend to be more conservative, but the harsh rhetoric will keep the wavering moderates away. The GOP needs to read the latest Tina Dupuy (which is in today's Advocate)article where she explains the difference between a person of Mexican descent and one of Cuban descent.  There is a world of difference and the first being, Mexico is at at our doorstep and the culture has been part of this country for a very long time.

The Senate version had a laughable clause on border security.  A commission of border governors such as Brewer and Perry would let us know when the metrics on border security were met.  Governor Brewer has a lot of brand-new  detention centers, so her bar would be extremely high.  Governor Perry wants to run for governor again( although polls indicate he shouldn’t)so expect him to take the self- deportation route.  Again, I don't know why the democrats signed off on this, unless they just wanted to keep the ball rolling.

One thing is certain,this battle won't be like the 2007 one, where everyone caved in to the extreme right because this time the Dreamers will be on the front line using 21st Century methods to keep pressure on Democrats and Republicans .

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Be Really Afraid

I thought about responding to David Strickland, but it would be piling on, since other posters have pretty much put him in his place. The writer has posted some very unchristian-like racist statements before he was banned from the local online form. I consider the source.

The writer had a litmus test for attending the inauguration and for being a Christian. It never ceases to amaze me how some believe that prayer is not allowed in school and that there’s a war on Christmas. The same people think we have an on-going war with Muslims around the world.

These people live in constant fear which is OK, but they try to drag everyone into the same hole. Although 80 plus percent of people claim to be Christian, some act as though someone is trying send Christianity into extinction.

Then there’s the economy where they’ve been hollering gloom and doom, runaway inflation and then ignore the good news and exaggerate the bad news.

Ever since Obama made his inauguration speech, where he hardly mentioned the deficit and debt, Joe Scarborough had been hollering at everybody about government spending and how it’s going to bankrupt us. He’s small government conservative who doesn’t buy into the theory of Keynesian economics. He comes from the Calvin Coolidge/Paul Ryan austerity school of economics. He thought if he just hollered loud enough, he would convince a lot of people that he was right; especially after the economy took an unexpected dip. Joe puts all his faith in a few economists and he won’t consider another theory. No Joe, the economy took a dip because the government quit spending just like Great Britain did.

Economic growth has four components (1) Consumer spending (2) private investment (3) trade and (4) government spending. Consumer spending is up right now but private investment, trade and government spending is down. In fact, government spending has been down in 10 of the last 12 quarters. You noticed that the stock market is not part of that formula because that’s just the capital market. Corporate profits are up but that’s because their foreign sales are up. The economy is still sluggish but if we hadn’t cut defense spending so much, our economy would have grown by 1.23% more. If we had a rational Congress, they would look at those last numbers and abandon the upcoming sequester cuts and concentrate on restoring jobs.

If you watched the congressional hearings on gun control last week, you would’ve thought women were being attacked by multiple intruders, and they all needed AR 15s because as Senator Lindsey Graham said," six bullets might not be enough.” To which Jon Stewart remarked, “What part of the country are those women living in?”This country has over three hundred million guns and some fear gun confiscation.

If the Republican Party is not promoting fear, they can’t seem to make their point. During the Chuck Hagel congressional hearings the Republicans put on one of the biggest clown shows I’ve ever seen. I mean I can just picture them sporting big red noses, oversize shoes, and dressed in baggy pants and suspenders, every time they questioned Chuck Hagel about something he said decades ago. Most people think that Chuck Hagel had a bad performance, and they’re right but I think he was using a rope- a- dope defense. He’s like a defendant who just wants to get probation from the judge. For example, Mr. Hagel just said something that was unpopular in the beltway, and he didn’t use political correctness. John McCain just wanted to talk about the success of the surge in Iraq, without mentioning the horrible decision of the invasion. I agree with Chuck Hagel, too many politicians are intimidated by the Jewish lobby, and we shouldn’t give Israel everything it wants, just because there are our best allies in the Middle East. Mr. Hagel will be confirmed on a party-line vote.

Seems like every time I pick up the paper, another red state has a different abortion bill that they want to pass. Are we having an abortion epidemic? Yesterday, I heard that the administration found a way to get the faith groups out of contraception loop by not having them arrange for the coverage or pay for it. Insurers would be reimbursed for any costs by a credit against fees owed the government. It’s still not satisfactory to some religious groups because they don’t want employees to use contraception. That’s either case of fear of losing control of their flock or a clear case of stubbornness.

You really can’t govern in a nation which is consumed by fear, so Democrats are just going to try to get things passed in the Senate and then try to pick off 22-25 Republicans to get the necessary 218 votes to keep the government moving. The last two major bills were passed by violating the Hastert rule. Former speaker Hastert said, “you don’t bring a bill up for a vote unless you have enough Republicans to pass it.”

Things aren’t as great as they could be, but we have the largest and best military in the whole world, yet some people fear that we will get invaded if we all don’t have 100 cases of shells and an arsenal of weapons. Glenn Beck and another paranoid right winger are building their own city. Our economy is better than Europe’s and China is starting to stumble, but once people begin to realize that we are in a world economy, they’ll see why their success is our success. Bill Maher put it all in perspective last night, when he said that there are some crazy liberals out there, but they don’t have a lot of followers. He said people like Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, Laura Ingraham, Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin and Ann Coulter have a huge following which is dumbing down the GOP. The people the party is featuring like Ted Cruz, Ron Johnson, and Rand Paul are turning away moderates. Those three senators could never represent anything other than an extreme Tea Party element.

I still say it comes down to trust and a new Pew Poll substantiates that. It seems an awful lot of Republicans distrust government these days (I wonder why) and liberals and Democrats are generally more optimistic.

Enjoy the Super Bowl tomorrow.
My prediction: San Francisco 24 Baltimore 17.