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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

This Time,It’s Different

It’s true. President Obama is roaming the country singing the same song, but he’s hoping that a few Republicans will hear a verse they like, such as corporate tax cuts. The title of the song might as well be “This time ,it’s different” because the obstructionist party is not listening.

I think Chris Haynes is right, progressives are glad that the GOP is not taking the president’s deal. The last time we passed legislation to give corporations a tax break on their foreign profits,they used the money to buy back their stock and cut 20,000 jobs to boot. A prominent tax attorney, Clay Johnson, said that the new low tax rate would be the new highest tax rate the corporations will ever pay. The corporate tax rate is 35% but the average effective rate they pay, comes out to 12.5%. A car dealer is not going to hire a new salesperson because they got a tax cut. I’m not against a corporate tax rate cut but I would put it under recapture rules to ensure that corporations hired a certain amount of employees at a livable wage with benefits.

I’m sure there’s a word or term for educated people who make ignorant statements but I can’t think of one right now. Senator Mike Lee echoed the Obamacare sentiments of his colleagues ,Ted Cruz,Rand Paul and Marco Rubio when he said “Defund it, or own it. If you fund it, you're for it."  He might as well have said that for Social Security or Medicare because the Affordable Care Act is the law and is now considered an entitlement. Congress cannot defund major portions of the law without a 2/3 majority and a president’s signature. Those individuals can shut down the government but it won’t make them anymore principled;it just makes them stupid and badly uninformed. It’s not even a good bluff.

It turned my stomach to hear that Halliburton got away with a $200,00 fine for admitting to destroying evidence in the BP spill fiasco, but  the culprit didn’t go to jail. I’m not surprised because the Dallas fed is now reporting that 2008 financial crisis cost was $14 trillion, and not one CEO has been perp walked.

I just can’t seem to get away from the injustice that’s being displayed every day. Have you tried to watch a major-league  baseball game lately? ESPN devoted several innings on three separate games talking about Alex Rodriquez and his possible lifetime ban for using performance-enhancement  drugs. Major League baseball knows of at least 100 ball players who they suspect, but they will only ban eight players or so, within the next two weeks. Want to clean up baseball? Ban all 100 for 50 games or more and start off fresh.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

It’s Time For A New Business Model

Thousands of minimum-wage workers are taking to the streets in protest against low wages that they are receiving from McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King and other fast food establishments. Representatives of those establishments ran a full-page ad in the USATODAY saying that raising the minimum wage would cost jobs. The workers responded by saying that they were crappy jobs anyway.

A new study by the University of Kansas stated that doubling McDonald’s salaries and benefits would cause your Big Mac to cost just 68¢ more. There you have it; McDonald’s can raise the burger by 68¢, and still keep their profits and expenses at the level they are now. Yes, McDonald’s CEO, Donald Thompson could keep his 8.75 million yearly compensation package.

McDonald’s 2012 annual report showed that the fast-food giant only spent 17.1 percent of their revenue on income and benefits for more than their 500,000 U.S. employees.

I think the workers would see a pay raise before the fast-food chains allow them to unionize without fear of retaliation.

In the 1970s, the fast food jobs were mainly for high school and college kids who used them as entry-level jobs. With unemployment at 7.6% many of these jobs are now held by older workers who need their job to support their families.

The Walmart business model of low-cost goods and low wages and benefits for their employees has made them the world’s largest retail giant in the world. The retail giant’s lobbyists have spent a lot of money trying to convince us that increases in employee wages and benefits would mean that they would have to cut back their workforce. That’s ludicrous; they pay so little now, that a price increase on their merchandise wouldn’t be that much and they still could maintain their current profit margin. It’s the same way for the fast food industry.

The low paying corporations are being called out but they’re not going to be embarrassed into doing the right thing, so it’s time for a Federal minimum wage increase.

My wife cracked up when I told her that a man offered me a job to bale some hay. I went to get my annual truck inspection at Larry’s Texaco this morning. I was sitting in the crowded office, surfing the web on my iPhone when a man who was also waiting for his truck to be inspected, told me that he was on his way to bale some hay and asked me if I was interested in making some extra money by helping him. I assume by the look on his face that he was surprised that I turned him down. He said it was impossible getting help these days, and then he went on to say that as a kid, he used to bale hay for 3¢ a bale. I don’t know how much he was paying, but I bet it’s nowhere near minimum-wage.

Last month the Washington D.C. city council stood up to Walmart and this is being followed by low wage workers protesting for decent pay. Perhaps the worm is beginning to turn.

Monday, July 29, 2013

The GOP is Having A Civil War but Does Anyone Care?

If not for the scandals of Anthony Wiener, Eliot Spitzer, and San Diego Mayor Bob Filner; Democrats would have been left out of the Sunday talk show discussions. The media is fixated on the 2016 presidential campaign and the infighting among Republicans.

I don't know why I waste so much time watching the Sunday talk shows because it’s not as if they’re newsworthy. It’s just one big gotcha, or a platform for politicians to spout their interrupted talking points. For example, George Stephanopoulos and David Gregory wanted the treasury secretary to admit that there would be a government shutdown in October. Chris Wallace sat there silently as Senator Mike Lee said that the president was not ready to implement a major part of ObamaCare even though the employer mandate is barely 6% of the law.

The old-guard Republicans have put a target on Senator Rand Paul because he is considered a non-interventionist. It’s unusual for the GOP to be having a hawk versus dove battle. It’s one of the reasons Liz Cheney is running for office. Six years ago, House Republicans would have never considered blocking a National-Security Agency’s domestic surveillance program, but they did, and with the help of Democrats, they almost pulled it off. Senator Paul seems to think if he can win the presidential nomination; he can move to the left of hawkish Hillary Clinton and pick up the youth vote. Governor Chris Christie shot the first volley at Senator Paul and the latter weakly responded by saying that he was not going to take the incoming fire lightly. Senator Paul said that the New Jersey governor gobbled up Sandy money leaving no money for defense. Pass the popcorn; it’s going to be a fun three years.

I was wrong when I said the words of Bill O’Reilly would not be repeated because they certainly were. The commentators on CNN and MSNBC have set him up as a poster child for race baiting instead of improving race relations. People like O’Reilly believe that black people deserve all the injustice they get from society because of what he thinks happens in the inner city. O’Reilly will cite lyrics from a Lil Wayne song, fatherless children, and Chicago killings as the reason race relations will always be a one-way street. That’s just a distraction to avoid talking about voter suppression laws, racial profiling, Stop and Frisk and the high unemployment in the black community.

Yesterday, conservative columnist for the Washington Post, George Will said” “You can’t solve the problems[Detroit], because their problems are cultural.”
“You have a city, 139 square miles, you can graze cattle in vast portions of it, and dangerous herds of feral dogs roam in there. You have three percent of fourth graders reading at the national math standards, 47 percent of Detroit residents are functionally illiterate, 79 percent of Detroit children are born to unmarried mothers.”
“They don’t have a fiscal problem, Steve, they have a cultural collapse.” I think that’s pretty much their answer for helping the poor. People like George Will ignore the fact that the brain needs fuel (food) so by cutting off school lunches, food stamps, or other programs designed to help the needy, we will continue to cut the rug out from under them before they can get started. The conservative plan for Detroit is to raid the union pension funds, allow private investors to buy up the public lands and treasures while only paying 10¢ on the dollar.  I did notice that the bond money for building the new sports stadium will be funded 100%, despite Detroit’s problems. Republicans are already submitting amendments to prevent Obama from providing funds to Detroit. We should know by now that nation building should only be done in Iraq and Afghanistan because there’s no room for that nonsense in the United States.

I did learn a couple of things over the weekend. I learned that republican commentators get pretty angry when President Obama or his surrogates call the ongoing investigations, “phony scandals.” It infuriates them.

In yet another wing of the right- wing GOP are forming a group called “Groundswell” which will go after progressives and Karl Rowe. Justice Clarence Thomas’s wife Ginni and Allen West will head up this group. This group put out a memo that read “We are failing the propaganda battle with minorities. Terms like, 'GOP,' 'Tea Party,' 'Conservative' communicate 'racism.” They want to be known as Frederick Douglass Republicans. They also said that their message must be at a 4th grade level. And therein lies the problem, the old GOP never had to rebrand or resort to gimmicks and trickery; it was a plain old fashion conservative party.

Friday, July 26, 2013


It's hard to believe that we come to a point where stepping on our neighbors grass, being suspicious looking, or having a disagreement can be a reason to end someone's life.

How did we get here and why?

I remember as a young soldier in South Korea, I was driving my captain to the capital city of Seoul, when he told me to turn around because he had forgotten something. I turned my jeep into a large driveway of what looked like a large warehouse. I was wrong, it was a Republic of Korea (ROK) army base and the next we saw we were two military guards with their rifles pointed at us. I didn’t need an interpreter; I put a jeep in reverse and hightailed it out of there. A lot of the justifications I hear for killing someone, reminds me of the incident I had and South Korea. Are we now becoming paranoid territorial individuals who think strangers are all potential criminals? For example, a local poster came up with hypothetical to justify killing someone.

The basic instincts of survival are in all of us but some like to jump up and down, beat on their chest and brag that they are armed and are willing to snuff out someone’s life with the slightest bit of provocation. They want a “law all the jungle” environment because the 5 minutes that the first responders take to arrive is way too long. That much time might allow a potential burglar to get a five block head start. Hell, they didn’t buy that shiny new gun to keep it holstered. Sure a lot of it is just hot air because none of us can be certain of what will happen when we are confronted with an uncomfortable situation.

Thank goodness, most gun owners are not wannabe vigilantes and those of us who don’t own guns don’t stay up that night worrying about a teenager walking along the sidewalk in front of our home.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Joe Scarborough Just Doesn’t Get It

Joe Scarborough, like so many conservatives, live in the past, the golden days of Ronald Reagan, so when things don’t go like they did back then, he simply doesn’t get it. I say this because he doesn’t understand why President Obama takes this message to the people, instead of trying to penetrate an impenetrable object like House Republicans. Joe seems to think that the president has to find something that the tea party republicans can agree with. How can you deal with a party who wants to be judged on what they repeal? They remind me of trolls who repeat the same message in a continuous loop thinking it’s a winning strategy. The only way to deal with spoiled children or trolls is to ignore them.

It’s no secret that Joe Scarborough doesn’t like President Obama, but he puts the entire blame of gridlock on the president’s shoulder because of his lack of leadership. He doesn’t see the reality; the Republicans of today do not respect the current president of the United States. They remind me of the 1950s, where a white filling station attendant, thought he was more important than a black Harvard-educated lawyer because of his skin color. That’s not to say that today’s Republicans are racists, but they harbor the same resentment towards President Obama. Sure, many Democrats didn’t think highly of President George W Bush’s intellect but their disagreement never led to a government shutdown. Today’s House Republicans would relish a government shutdown.

For the past few months, Joe Scarborough has used the years 1995 through 1997 to illustrate that Bill Clinton managed to find a way to make deals with a right-wing Congress like the one he belonged to. Although he’s been told many times, Scarborough won’t accept the fact that in those years, there were 45 moderate Republicans in the House of representatives, today there might be 2. Back in those years, there were sweeteners called pork and most members wanted to sit on committee chairs, but that’s no longer the case. The gerrymandered districts of 1995 are now super gerrymandered districts. This Congress has only passed 19 pieces of legislation, and the tea party is probably complaining about that. Those members love that 12% approval because it only enforces their message that any government is bad.

This morning, Nicole Wallace quoted from the conservative Wall Street Journal editorial that essentially said that the president’s policies were bad for the middle class. Nicole Wallace is a reasonable person, so I went back to read the article she quoted from. The statistics they used were nothing that liberals haven’t been saying all along about inequality. As expected, the conservative editorial blamed ObamaCare, regulations, taxes and uncertainty for the stalemate. The president is talking about a middle class-out strategy while conservatives still seem to think that a top-down strategy is best.

There’s a world of difference between Bill Clinton and Barrack Obama. President Bill Clinton is a political junkie who could tell you who’s running in the 21st district of West Virginia and what their poll numbers are at any given time. President Obama couldn't care less, and he’s not interested in smooth talking anyone for their vote. Bill Clinton did not carry a grudge because he was thinking of the next piece of legislation that he wanted to pass. The president is less forgiving because he has a long-term vision, so he’s not interested in the day-to-day today squabbles or people who are prone to lying. For example, Bill Clinton did make a deal with the GOP, he got re-elected but he lost several seats. President Obama is not willing to cut a deal that will cause his party to lose seats. I guess you can make an argument that Bill Clinton put country before party but did he?

The House of Representatives reminds me of the “Wild Wild West” where members of Congress can’t wait to get to the microphone, so that their outrageous statements make the evening news. A Republican member of the House of Representatives blamed the media for broadcasting Representative Steve King’s racist remarks. Really! In a committee meeting about legislation regarding the Dreamers, Steve King said that for every valedictorian, there were 100 drug mules in that group who packed 75 pounds of marijuana into this country, as evidenced by their cantaloupe sized calves. When asked for his proof, he named some anonymous border patrolmen. Oh, the speaker condemned the words, but he remains on the committee. This is the same speaker who removed three committee members for voting against him for the Speaker the House.

The bottom line, the Speaker the House, John Boehner, cannot control his own party but Joe Scarborough expects the president to come up with a proposal they can agree with. That’s a tall order.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The President Throws Down the Gauntlet

Bursting His Balloon

One of the best lines from President Obama’s speech is afternoon was when he said, “You just can’t be against something; you've got to be for something.” He told the Republicans stop having meaningless votes on repealing Obamacare and come up with a better plan. I took it to mean “put up or shut up.” The Affordable Care Act has never been popular in polls (34% approve, and 47% oppose)but as Cokie Roberts said this morning, the Kaiser Foundation has a much better poll which shows that people love different components of the Affordable Care Act, but they are still confused about certain aspects of the plan. Who can blame them with the smokescreens the GOP throws out. Senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee want to tie repealing Obamacare to raising the debt ceiling and are willing to shut down the government over it. They might as well call for shutting down the government right now.

President Obama will continue to use his bully pulpit because he knows that his good plans will never see the light of day in Congress. The president has seen his approval dropped to a low of 45% because of the staggering economy. Congress has dropped to an all -time low of 12% and 57% of the voters would vote to replace everyone, and that doesn’t bode well for the GOP if they want to retake the Senate.

The president talked about investing in our future, and he emphasized it by saying, “if you think education is expensive. wait until you see how much ignorance costs in the 21st century.” He knows Congress is a problem, so he said he will bend the ear of educators, business leaders and CEOs to get something done. The president said that the FCC is currently working to get high- speed Internet to  in 99% of our schools. That was one example of what a president has the power to do. The other is making the costs of making higher education affordable.

I liked that the president brought up the idea of a minimum wage increase and said he will reward the CEOs and business leaders who treat their employees’ right. He singled out Costco and the Container Store for the efforts in paying their employees a decent wage, providing health care and other benefits.

The president was honest by saying that even if we don’t implement all of his ideas, the economy will keep growing because of our resources, standing, and  our resilient people, but we will grow at a much slower pace. He said most of our bridges would be eligible for Medicare. Our buildings, airports and broadband services need upgrading and repair because we’re falling behind our competitors.

The Republicans will roll their eyes, some will write pessimistic, uninformative letters –to- our editor and others will continue to oppose anything that President Obama is for. Let them consume themselves with President Obama,phony scandals,$17 trillion debt ,empty rhetoric and keep supporting their bad legislators because our economy will continue to improve without any help from them, and the voters will take notice in 2014.

Monday, July 22, 2013

I’ll talk About Race Because You're Afraid To

The heading I chose for this blog was in reference to Attorney General Eric Holder’s words, which are still true today, when he said, "essentially we are a nation of cowards" in failing to openly discuss the issue of race. ”A pundit said that the issue of race is like a horrifying event because we only bring it up after the event occurs.

Racism is “discriminatory or abusive behavior towards members of another race.” We could say that affirmative action is a form of reverse discrimination, even though a lot of us have benefited from it. The Supreme Court punted on affirmative action this time around but it fired a warning shot indicating that its days are numbered.

Trayvon Martin’s death is a good place to start. Sit straight in your chair, lean your head back, and try to imagine a scenario where a young black boy shot and killed a white person who was following him because he was afraid of being being murdered . Don’t be like that poster who said if Trayvon would’ve walked away, he’ll be alive today. The poster never considered the possibility that the same could be said of Zimmerman. We’ll never know what went through Zimmerman’s mind when he first spotted Trayvon but could it have been the young kid’s skin color? If it would have been a white kid walking in that gated community, would it have merited a second glance by Zimmerman?

There’s no doubt that race is a difficult subject to have, as I witnessed the five African -American guests on Meet the Press having difficulty in coming to a common consensus. The guests were, Marc Morial, President of the National Urban League Former Mayor, City of New Orleans Rep. Marcia Fudge, (D-OH) Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, Tavis Smiley, Host, “Tavis Smiley Show,” PBS, Charles Ogletree, Professor, Harvard Law School Founder, Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race & Justice, Michael Steele, MSNBC Political Analyst Former Chairman, Republican National Committee. The first subject was about the president’s speech , where Tavis Smiley said it was about time and it didn’t go far enough. Michael Steele made it a political issue and the other three thought it was a positive first step.

We can’t solve the issue by removing the hyphenated distinction and pretend that the races and nationalities don’t have distinctive differences. We certainly won’t solve anything by using the statistics Chris Wallace used a couple of times to justify the shooting of Trayvon Martin. He said that 13% of the population (African Americans) commits half the murders. First, those were from a 2005 report and was he saying that white America has a reason to be scared of young black males? Wallace also emphasized that 93% of young black men who are killed come from black on black crime. Why is that surprising? People are normally killed in their own neighborhood. Adam Lanza did not look for a black school several states away, to commit his murders. Keeping things in perspective will go a long way.

I was not surprised to hear that Sean Hannity made some stupid remarks about the president’s speech on race. It also doesn’t surprise me that the Rev. Al Sharpton is at the forefront of the peaceful demonstrations. The Rev. Al is an activist, and Sean Hannity is feeding red meat to his listeners. That’s what these people do for a living.

A predominantly black city, Detroit, has gone bankrupt but that doesn’t have to happen. We bailed out Wall Street, and the auto industry, so why not Detroit? A lot of racial strife can be avoided with good paying jobs. People will not move back to Detroit unless they hire more policemen and teachers. They need to restore public services before they tackle the difficulty of finding a way to fund their present and future public retirees. Unemployment for black males is 19% but that’s never in our economic plans.

We can’t legislate good race relations but bad legislation like voter suppression and poorly enforced “Stand Your Ground laws” can heighten the tension between the races. The constant negativity towards the poor is based on a perception that minorities do not pull their weight, and most are on the public dole, even thou they are able to work. People who pursue that line of thinking never mention the waste, fraud and abuse in other departments of the Federal government. They use exaggerated stories and filtered statistics as a means to keep their ilk on board.

Race relations are a lot better today than when I was in high school and they will continue that way because our children will see to it. We still have a long way to go because we haven’t had that discussion at the kitchen table or at the community center because a lot of us think that the status quo will do. Remember all the hoopla, when the Muslim community wanted to build a mosque at Ground Zero? The protesters left and the television cameras followed and that mosque sits there today without any fanfare. How did that happen? The Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf and his wife sat down with the 9/11 victims and inclusivity eventually won out.

We often hear people coming to this country need to assimilate but won’t say to what standard. That’s a difficult standard to meet when some people think a hoodie is a symbol of gang culture. I think the beauty of America is that you can be your own person and not worry about what others think you should be. Of course if you want to advance in the business world, you have to assimilate to those principles.

This blog may be a poor way to strike up a discussion about race relations but I won’t know that unless someone points out the areas where I am wrong and then the conservation starts.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Should Zimmerman Get His Gun Back?

I thought I had my fill of the Zimmerman trial and the aftermath but sometimes events beyond my control pulls me back in.Yesterday, I was minding my own business, as the therapist applied my heat treatment, so I could start my twice a week torn rotator cuff exercises. Sitting at the next table was an elderly man speaking in fairly loud voice about the terrible treatment that Zimmerman was getting from the mainstream media. Several of us could see that the subject made the young therapist, who was helping him ice his knee, very uncomfortable but the man didn’t seem to care. He asked her if she had a gun and when she said no, he said he couldn’t understand why not. A lot of us snickered when she got the best of him by asking, “have you been threatened?" He promptly said, “no but you need to stay ready these days” and wouldn’t you know it; the timer went off, which meant it time for him to go.

This morning it was time for my routine quarterly blood tests, so I decided to make a taco run and get a McDonald’s hot coffee afterwards. Out of habit, I turned on the radio where KTSA’s Trey Ware question for his right-wing listeners was “Should Zimmerman get his gun back?” I expected his listeners to say yes but their answers went far beyond that, and some were astonishing. One caller said that the government wanted to disarm white people, so they couldn’t defend themselves against minorities, and Trey agreed. A majority of the callers thought “not guilty” meant that George Zimmerman could resume his life as if nothing happened, and others thought he deserved hero status.

I never gave much thought to the idea of Florida giving Zimmerman his gun back; in fact, I thought they did. If it were up to me, I wouldn’t want an armed civilian patrolling the streets of Tanglewood. I would not want a neighborhood watchman who does not take the advice of a dispatcher, who had already sent a patrol car to the area. One of KTSA’s callers said people like Trayvon are not taught to respect authority. Excuse me, but a civilian on neighborhood watch does not have any authority.

The jury in the Zimmerman case found him “not guilty” of 2nd degree murder or manslaughter because they could not find enough evidence to meet the “beyond reasonable doubt” threshold. During the initial vote, three jurors thought Zimmerman was guilty of something. The verdict does keep the state from revoking Zimmerman’s conceal permit but giving back his property is a different matter. I wouldn’t mind Florida giving Zimmerman his gun back but allowing him on the streets with a gun is a scary proposition for the state he wishes to reside in.

I'm glad that there's a push to get some of those "Stand Your Ground" laws revised or repealed altogether. I'm glad those who are not happy with the verdict in the Zimmerman trial are not rioting on a large scale and are more focused on the path forward. Allow the family to go seek justice in a civil trial and let the DOJ complete their investigation.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

An Acquired Taste

Have you ever looked all over to find food or condiments that taste' as good as moms’?Several  years ago, I either read or heard one of those so-called experts say, "it’s not that our mom was a great cook, we just acquired a taste for foods as she prepared them. He never tasted my mom’s cooking..Smile

I can still remember visiting my mom in the morning and she would always insist on making breakfast for me. One thing was always constant and ready to go,tortilla dough and that ugly molcajete (grinding bowl pictured at the top) sitting on the table. As she stared the bacon,she quickly pulled out the ingredients to make fresh salsa to go with my eggs. The chili pequin,which she grew herself,was the main ingredient in her salsa. I’ve never been able to find chili pequin in the stores here locally but the other day my wife brought home a new salsa called “Chili Pepin Salsa” which almost replicates the taste of my mom’s salsa. My wife says,I can’t remember the day to put out the trash,much less remember the taste of my mom’s salsa.  But you just do.

It’s not unusual to hear the arguments for the best hamburgers; Jim Burgers or Dairy Treet or people’s favorite Mexican restaurant. If I had to pick a great breakfast taco, I would get the tortilla from Joe’s, the fixings from TNT, and the salsa from El Rodeo but that’s just me. It’s an acquired taste if mom is no longer around.

I think it's funny when I go to a IHOP or any place, for that matter, when I ask for a hot sauce, the waitress asks me if I want a picante sauce I say "yes"  and then she brings me out a Tabasco or Louisiana sauce. It serves as a good substitute, but if you live in south Texas, you should know the difference.

My wife thinks it's weird because I don't put catchup on my fries.  It's not that I don't like it but I've never had catchup in my younger days. I remember my step-dad saying that it was just tomato paste and sugar.  Now,I occasionally put Louisiana hot sauce on my fries.

A couple of weeks ago, as we were walking out of Ramsey’s when my wife noticed that Ramsey’s  had stuffed cabbage on their Tuesday afternoon menu, we looked at each other in unison and silently agreed we would come try it. We got there at 12:30 and it was almost too late because the last batch was in the oven. We decided to take a chance  and waited another 20 minutes before the waitress told us that were in luck. The rolled-up  cabbage, rice and meat meal was good but not like my moms. My mom cooked hers on top of the stove and used lemon juice instead of tomato sauce. There goes that “acquired taste” again.

My grandson and his girlfriend came in from Austin last weekend, and we all met at our place for a semi reunion. I found out that beer drinking can be complicated. Apparently, beer drinkers in Austin have to be sophisticated' enough  to know that in order to enjoy Guinness beer, it has to be poured into a 20 oz. tulip glass which allows the nitrogen bubbles  to flow from the bottom to the top and served at a temperature no higher than 45°. I bet after the third round, the serving details are not that important. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

How Can the Anti-Government Govern?

In our form of representative government, we have to abide by the election results. We can simply wonder what would happen if we elected only those who are anti-government. We have a small group (we know who they are) who are now saying that the reason they won’t come to the table on immigration reform is that they don’t trust President Obama. Isn’t that their predicate for opposing all legislation? Those people don’t understand the “we the people” concept unless they are in charge.

A 51% threshold is all that’s required in the House of Representatives, so the majority (if they have enough votes) can run roughshod over the opposition, but it won’t get their legislation to the committee for reconciliation. That’s the beauty of our form of government. A small group can keep a bill from going forward on a partisan basis. However, that can be overridden on a bipartisan vote, and then it becomes a political decision for the GOP speaker. Point being, a small group cannot hold this country hostage, unless we allow them to.

Representative government keeps the Tea Party from sending themselves into oblivion because they want to impose austerity measures like we’ve never seen before and move this country further to the right socially. Oh sure, the Koch brothers would love to see the EPA, IRS, and the Dept. of Labor gutted but that’s not where the country is. It’s relatively easy to support an economic theory that has yet to be implemented. The Tea party is collectively opposed to Obamacare but just yesterday, New York became another state that is predicting lower health insurance rates because of the law. Sunday, David Gregory had to keep reminding Mitch McConnell that the Affordable Care Act is the law, not a bill. This is part of their strategy: keep calling it a bill, so people won’t know their new options.

I believe the Senate finally reached an impasse, so deal makers on both sides of the aisle went behind the minority leader's party’s back to try to reach an agreement and it enabled the president’s nominees to move forward in their nomination process, except for two; allowing the GOP to save face. This is the only way to break up status quo. Advice and consent does not mean “blanket filibuster” on the president’s nominees, and the majority party needs to respect the opposition right to voice their opinion. Joe Scarborough said it will hurt Democrats because they might lose the Senate next year; even thou the “nuclear option” was not imposed. I think that’s a lot of bull, because a Mitch McConnell led Senate won’t give a damn about the minority party. The president needs his nominees in place to implement his agenda to protect the rights of consumers, the environment and workers. The senate met in a closed-session in the old Senate Chamber where the participants had a unique friendly meeting and came out with a feeling of optimism. We’ll see how long it lasts.

I would be remiss if I didn’t answer the comments of a poster “When persons choose to start a fight or something, they should be aware that the person they are messing with might be armed, and they may die. This is not the fault of the person with the weapon. You make your own choices, and if you choose wrongly, then be prepared to suffer the consequence.That comment implies that the holder of the gun will always be innocent, and it gives credence to vigilante justice. We need to reinstitute the ideal thing to do is to call the police to resolve disputes, not  pull out a weapon because if we don’t, it takes us back to a 19th century mentality.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

We Still Don’t Get IT

The George Zimmerman trial was about everything that the lawyers, judge, and pundits told us it was not about. The prosecution, defense, and the judge agreed that this case was not about race, so the use of the words “racial profiling” was not allowed. This case was certainly about race. The same people told us that this case was not about the “Stand Your Ground” law, but it was.

Even the reporting the day after the verdict was so superficial. The co-host of “Morning Joe," Mika Brzezinski, said she was so horrified by the Twitter remarks coming from the left and right, about the verdict, George Zimmerman, Trayvon Martin and others that she had to turn off her phone, as if the comments were going to somehow follow her home. Come on, does she live such as sheltered life, that she doesn’t know that the crazies will take advantage of any tragedy? That’s not news.

I heard one pundit give credence to the juror who spoke to Anderson Cooper last night because she had more evidence in front of her than we did. That’s another one of those clichés that we take for granted because a lot of us saw things that the jury was not allowed to see. That particular juror should have never been allowed to serve because of what she said during voir dire. She does not pay attention to any kind of media and she presumed that there were riots after the Trayvon Martin shootings. Anyway, she did say that 3 of the jurors voted for acquittal in the initial voting, two were for manslaughter and one was for 2nd degree murder.

This case was also about the state of Florida where less than 2% of criminal cases ever go to trial; they’re usually plea bargained. When cases do go to trial, over 70% of the defendants get convicted. As we’ve heard, on one side, an unarmed teenager gets shot to death, and his killer gets set free; while on the other side, a woman fires a warning shot at a man who once abused her, gets 20 years. In east Texas, they call that another Saturday night.

While racial profiling and prior burglaries in the mind of Mr. Zimmerman, had an important role in the tragic death of Trayvon Martin, I still think the law that allows vigilante justice was the initial contributing factor. The “Stand Your Ground” legislation was introduced by a powerful right-wing policy group called the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which started in Florida and in 8 years, has spread to 24 other states.

These laws favor the shoot first and worry about the details later, paranoid people. It not only offers immunity to homeowners but to those who only have to say that they felt that their life was threatened. Stand your ground meant that a person no longer has the need to retreat. It seems to me that retreat would have been appropriate since only one person was armed. The law is what kept the Sanford police from immediately arresting George Zimmerman, instead of 44 days later. It certainly persuaded the jury because who can prove mindset? That’s why I don’t think the DOJ will take the case and considering the verdict. I don’t think a civil case will stand a chance. Guess what? The folks with ALEC knew that all along because it’s all right there in the template those legislators never read, regardless of length.

Monday, July 15, 2013

We Need to Change the Narrative

Saturday, I went to the new Costco store in Sugarland where I was surprised to see so many people lining up to get their new membership cards. I thought everyone in the Houston area had one but as we were leaving an hour later; long lines of brand new applicants were in line. It’s true, if you’ve seen one Costco, you have seen them all and that’s because they can build a new one every 100 days.

The Costco Sugarland location is ideal for Victorians; it's only about a 90- minute ride; close to all the big stores without entering the Houston city limits, and the exit takes you straight to 59 South.

I’m glad America is finally standing up to the largest retain corporation in the world, Walmart, by not cowering to their enormous pressure. The stories of Wal-Mart intimidations are legendary. It didn’t work in Washington D.C. where the city council stuck to their guns and did not give in to them on their new $12.50 minimum wage on companies with more than $1 billion in annual revenues and indoor retail premises of 75,000 square feet. Walmart said it would look for another city to build their six brand new stores.

I saw an interesting debate about the Wal-Mart/D.C. situation when Michael Smerconish, hosted the Chris Matthews show. He had libertarian economist, Stephen Moore, and another chap whose name is escaping me at the moment as his guests. Mr. Moore made the predicable “hey Wal-Mart offered jobs D. C. needed, and now they don’t have that.” The other guy made the status quo argument of income inequality. Mr. Smearconish made his “let the free market decide” argument.

Costco was used as an example of a company with an average payroll of $20 an hour  that could compete nicely with Wal-Mart whose typical payroll is a little over $8 an hour. Costco employees were not on the public dole while a lot of their competitor’s employees were. Even when Walmart pays for a portion of their employee's benefits, Costco workers’ pay a 12 percent out- of- pocket premium for benefits, while Walmart workers’ pay 40 percent. How does Costco do it? They don’t have the selection Walmart does but Costco averages $814 in sales per square foot, while Sam's Club makes just $586 per square foot. And don’t even try to compare customer service.

Companies have been allowed to set the narrative that they are the job creators, and they need the room to prosper, so it can have a trickle-down effect. That meant that they are not to be burdened with unions, minimum wage or equal pay legislation, regulations or environmental standards. They have gotten their way for over thirty years and are now benefiting while a great portion of the country continues to struggle. Even if Walmart raised their employee's to the required $12.50 an hour in D.C.,the customer would only see an increase of 46¢ at the cash register that day and about $12.40 annually. People are finally calling them out on  their talking points but it took them 30 years to catch on to what they were doing.

Walmart needs to continue to build in urban areas in order to survive; Washington D.C. knows that, so they feel that they don’t have to succumb to the standard Walmart threats.

The problem with Michael Smearconish “let the markets decide” theory is that it’s great in concept, but large corporations use it to their advantage by persuading politicians to skew the laws in their favor. Consumers are not political advocates; they will shop at a store for its convenience and prices and not pay attention to what they hear about the company’s payroll practices. It sounds good but before you know it, another Walmart has set up shop and the cycle continues. Victoria Caterpillar is another example of Fortune 500 Company getting away without having to pay top wages.Mr. Smearcomish did not like government interfering in the free market, but I’ve lived long enough to know that, we are the government and companies no longer do the right thing without a nudge from us as consumers or as part of the government.

I’m not a Walmart hater. I shop in their stores. I know that they add to our tax base, provide a lot of jobs and keep prices low. I just believe they should share more of their wealth with their associates who work hard so that the company can remain the global retail giant that they are.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Is it Really Justice?

I’ve watched most of the George Zimmerman trial, and now that it’s in the jury hands, I’m thinking Mr. Zimmerman will be acquitted. It won’t be because there’s a lot of evidence of his innocence but more because he was able to buy some expert witness to collaborate his version of the facts.

I admit that I have a bias because I still think that the person with the gun has a choice of walking away. The defense made the most of the injuries sustained by George in trying to convince the jury that Mr. Zimmerman was in fear for his life. The defense made George to be a  out –of -shape wimp compared to a 17-year-old  athletic teen- ager. The lack of Mr. Zimmerman’s DNA on Trayvon Martin was blamed on the  incompetent forensic technicians who missed it or  that the rain must’ve washed the blood away. It’s funny how the blood remained on George Zimmerman without it being washed away.

I don’t know who cried for help, who was on top of whom, or who struck the first blow because I heard two different versions from various witnesses. I do know Trayvon was unarmed and not doing anything illegal on the day he was shot to death. George Zimmerman certainly could have gone shopping at Target and left Trayvon Martin in the hands of the police. Those two pieces of evidence are not in dispute.

I don’t know why Bill O’Reilly and several right-wing talk-show hosts are saying that an acquittal will start a race riot. They are mistaking the anger a lot of people felt when George Zimmerman was not arrested, and the Sanford police was going to sweep it under the rug were it not for Al Sharpton using his MSNBC show to tell the world about the injustice. I think everyone will agree that the trial proceedings were fair and just maybe the state couldn’t overcome the lack of an actual witness. The trial became about hearsay and the opinion of expert witnesses.

This case intrigued me because I want to know what constitutes the right to shoot and kill someone if there is only one gun involved. Perhaps if a frail person was in fear of a much larger person and their back was against the wall, so to speak? I can understand a home break-in or protecting someone about to be killed, but those are the only two incidents. With all the concealed permits being issued, we just might see more and more of these cases because unless a shooting takes place in front of witnesses the one left standing will be the one to get to tell their version of the facts.

It will be interesting to know how the six jurors came to their decision. I wonder whether George Zimmerman will get to keep his concealed permit?

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Call Their Bluff

It's getting a little boring, listening to the excuses of a pretentious party making excuses for not wanting to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill. The 14 Senate Republicans had to have a $30 billion border enforcement sweetener thrown in before they dared to vote yes. Let’s move on Democrats, quit cowering and settling for a less than acceptable bill. The chickens will come home to roost.

If you’ve been around national politics awhile, you know it’s John McCain and Chuck Schumer calling the shots and with a wink and nod, allowing Marco Rubio to take the praise and the shots as if he is the man in charge. The White House has a lot of input but they are being told to stay in the shadows until President Obama gets to sign the bill. President George W. Bush made another passionate plea to his party to fix the broken immigration policy but it fell on deaf ears as it did when he was still the president. At least the House GOP is being true to their beliefs, even if it’s not in the best interest of the national party.

There’s a new  GOP strategy to pursue the 5 million white voters who sat out in 2012, rather than give up their core principles. That strategy assumes that over 90% of those white voters will vote for them and that the party will not lose the coalition they have. That’s a flawed plan. If white women make up at least 50% of those white voters who stayed home; the GOP’s current female health policies will continue to drive that group away. Giving up on any group means that you have no confidence that your policies are good enough to overcome any differences you might have.

People like John Price and others think the illegal immigration issue is about speaking English, calling the aliens criminals, and public assistance, so that leaves no room for reasoning and the same goes for the open borders crowd. We will always have a racist and unreasonableness component to the issue. People on both sides of the issue know it’s about amnesty or de-facto amnesty; whatever you want to call it. What are we going to do about the 11 million people who are here illegally?

I read a good post the other day describing the steps he had to go through prior to applying for citizenship. I understood why he didn’t think it was fair for anyone to go ahead of the line without going through the same procures that he did. I do think the poster went a little too far by equating entering this country illegally (misdemeanor) to murders and rapists. We have degrees of criminality and the circumstances are very different.

Just by going on what I’ve heard through the years, either in conversation, or listening to others (TV, friends, etc.); we to have two trains of thought about the path to citizenship. The Dreamers want immediate citizenship since they were brought to this country at a very early age. The laborers, entrepreneurs and others want legal status, because they don’t have to live in the shadows anymore. The laborers know that they will never be able to afford the penalty, pay enough back taxes, so legal status(work visas) would be great with them because they eventually want to return to their home country.

Why is entering the United States illegally different from other crimes? The answer is; intent and demand. The majority of the people entering our southern border have been enticed by broken immigration system and willing employers but that does not excuse the breaking of laws. The immigrants were willing to work for subpar wages and under subhuman conditions because it’s better than what they had, so it was a win- win situation for the employer and illegal immigrant and that satisfied the demand and intent.

Today, we have 11 to 12,000,000 people who either overstayed their visas or entered this country illegally, and that’s unsustainable for obvious reasons. We can militarize the border, implement E-Verify, build a 2000-mile fence, but we’re still left with the question of want to do with the undocumented immigrants. If you say deport them all, then tell me how you plan to do that and how much it would cost? Imagine that you have twelve bees in your house (and I’m not equating bees to the immigrants) so  you seal up your doors and windows but guess what? The GOP wants attrition to solve the problem but that’s never shown signs of working.

I understand the argument of not rewarding law-breaking but I also know that sometimes we have to make exceptions like the plea-barging agreements we make with criminals on a daily basis.

You can’t tell me that employers do not know (for the most part) who they are hiring. Small construction companies, packing companies, and restaurants are all supposed to verify Social Security numbers with the state but the agency says they do not. A lot of immigrants are paid in cash to avoid the documentation and it provides a bigger profit for the company. With all the sequester moves, the government cannot possibly keep up with their audits. I bet if I could make a trip around Victoria (good VA article for a young reporter) and asked to see the Immigration -9 (I-9) form, many employers would not know of its requirement and those that did would not have one. The I-9 form requires the employer to get two forms of ID from the new employee, complete with address, phone number and other relevant information.

A comprehensive immigration bill would put a lot of private immigration detention prisons out of business, and it would force companies to comply with our labor laws. I think the eventual documentation of those who are here illegally will be its greatest value.

I haven’t found a good argument to counter those who say “giving amnesty will only encourage more illegal entries.” But then again, I know that we don’t live in a perfect world.

I have a lot more but it’s almost time for my grueling torn rotator cuff therapy..Sad smile 


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Just More Right Wing Rhetoric

Striking Down the Voting Rights Act
I agree John Price; the minority is changing things with the overuse of the filibuster while the majority sits idly by. The country wants a gun purchaser to go through a background check, but the Senate cannot get the 60% majority. Oh, your complaint is about the majority wanting prayers back in school and at sporting events. I assume that’s for public schools and Christian prayers, or would you allow Muslim children to throw down their prayer rugs in the middle of a science test?

I have gone over prayer in school so much that I almost have it memorized. First, let’s break down the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. Originally, that amendment only applied to the federal government but with the addition of the 14th Amendment, now the law is  also applied to the states. Would you agree that we shouldn’t be establishing a religion? If you do, then we would have to allow all prayers, Christian or not and adhere to their everyone’s special holidays. We are already behind in education.

The second part is known as the Free Exercise Clause and it means that the government cannot prevent you from worshiping. In Lemon v Kirtzman,guidelines were set to meet the Free Exercise Clause and they were:
· Have a secular purpose;
· Must neither advance nor inhibit religion; and
· Must not result in an excessive entanglement between government and religion
That also means that an employee of the state (teacher) cannot lead a prayer.

Why it is that today’s conservatives want to have so many barriers to cast a vote? So is it that in any given year, you want us to take our tax return to the voting place, so they can tell us if we are allowed to exercise our constitutional right? So, if we should happen to receive  a refundable credit large enough to eliminate our tax liability; then we shouldn’t be able to vote that year? I guess if you get laid off, then you should give up your right to vote? We vote for politicians and they cast the votes,so in your  "makers and takers"world, the poor should not be represented!I'd be willing to bet you are in the 47% unless you are still working,receiving enough taxable income to be paying taxes on your Social Security benefits.

You don’t get to define entitlements just because you are drawing from them. I’d be willing to bet that you will receive more benefits from Social Security and Medicare that you paid in. I know I will. An entitlement means that legislation was created that entitles us to receive Social Security and Medicare.

We don’t need an official language because everyone knows that in order to prosper in our country, English is a necessity. We should want everyone to vote regardless of their proficiency in English. It’s funny how those  politicians who want the bar ballots written for  Spanish-speaking people, but they will go on Spanish-speaking television and make campaign ads in Spanish. The business owners will put a sign on their window that reads “Se habla Española.” Some think that bilingual ballots are not worth the cost but think of what an amendment to make English the official language would cost. First it would take 2/3 Congress and the president signature; followed by a 2/3 state legislators and wait about ten years. I don’t think we’ve been hurt by not having an official language. I’ve always thought that speaking multiple languages will help us; not hinder us.

It’s well known that a consumption tax, the Fair Tax, or a flat tax will hurt the poor and that the rich would enjoy the benefits of such a system. The problem is inequality and stagnant wages. The poor already pay a consumption tax (sales tax) and payroll taxes. What we need is good paying jobs and we’ll get the revenues we need without having to resort to class warfare rhetoric.The people who supported the demonization of the 47% lost badly.

The Patriot Act has been reauthorized several times since 2001, so I’m not giving Congress a pass for not reading the bill. The Affordable Care Act is from the blue print of the Massachusetts healthcare plan Mitt Romney put in place in 2006. In fact, Jon Gruber, an MIT economist who advised Romney on his health care plan attended Obama’s health care meeting to offer input. Staffers usually read the bills for their bosses and then school them on the important parts of the bill.,so I’m not buying the “I didn’t have the chance to read the bill.” In fact it’s on the White House web page.

People lost their jobs in every one of the so call scandals Mr. Price mentioned. I doubt seriously that Mr. Price will come back and say that he was wrong about the IRS scandal because you never hear apologies from the right.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Lying Should Have Consequences

After looking through several dictionaries I settled for this definition of  lying: “the deliberate act of deviating from the truth.

Some people in the position of authority don’t realize that their lies can set the wheels of motion  that might have devastating consequences for their subordinates.

A friend of mine told me a story that had me seething yesterday. He said that his premium increase in his health care coverage will cause him to withdraw from his 401k and use that money to pay off his mortgage.

The friend said that his old company had been bought out by another company. The new company representative said that their company had to raise their premiums because of Obamacare and that they should have considered that when voting for Obama. You see what happened? The representative knew that the employees would start grumbling about the higher health care premiums, so he defused that by getting them to start blaming their fellow coworkers for voting for Obama. As the meeting went on, the representative told them the new company would not match their 401k contributions like their old company did.

My friend is a reactionary, and he does not leave anything to chance. He immediately removed all of his family members from his health-care plan and created a new budget for the rest of the year, which included the complete withdraw of his 401k. He is not 59 ½ years old, so he will have a 10% penalty and have to pay the taxes on his 401k withdraw at ordinary income tax rates. He will have a mortgage free house but his savings plan will have to start all over and will have to wait until he can afford to put his family members back on his plan, even thou he makes $75,000 a year.

I don’t know if the company approved of what the representative told the new employees, but I sort of doubt that he did on his own. The company probably has plausible deniability, which is another form of lying. I believe that the healthcare premiums' increase had more to do with their insurance company than anything else. It wasn’t as if Mitt Romney or the GOP, for that matter, had this great new health care solution that would have prevented the increase. According to my friend, this is not an isolated incident. He told me that his cousin in Lubbock was told the same thing under similar circumstances.

So what happened here? The new company has just convinced most of their employees to vote Republican, and only then will they have a chance to see their premiums go down. That is on the very edge of lying to their employees. Something tells me that the company will later shift to Health Savings Accounts; making it even harder for their employees who live paycheck to paycheck.

Later during the day as I was watching the George Zimmerman trial, I saw witness after witness swearing that the screams for help were coming from their friend George Zimmerman. Last week, I saw testimony where the witness said the complete opposite. Either someone is lying or they all have convinced themselves that they are telling the truth. Why not, there’s no penalty for opinions and we hardly ever punish anyone for perjury. We never punished the major league baseball players for lying in a congressional hearing, by saying that they never took performance enchantment drugs. Former Atty. General Alberto Gonzales lied to both congressional chambers under oath. Just recently, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper apologized to Congress for lying to them, so that’s about the best we can hope for.

Monday, July 8, 2013

I’ll Try a Different Approach

I’m tired of arguing with the climate-change deniers like Howard Weise and J.W. Harrison. Howard thinks the whole climate-change issue is some sort of socialist plot to control us. Mr. Harrison thinks that 98% of the climate-change scientists are on the government take to commit fraud.

Howard thinks the earth is cooling because of what he saw on Fox News. He didn’t provide any links to substantiate his facts. The last I heard, the 10 hottest years on record have all occurred since 1990, and man had something to do with it.

I’m not an expert in the science of climate-change by any stretch of imagination, but I do know that the glaciers are melting, the snow doesn’t stay on Pike’s Peak as long as it used to, sea levels are rising, droughts, forest fires and storms are more intense and it’s due to the increase in the earth’s temperature. It doesn’t matter if it’s due to solar activity or man made greenhouse emissions. I don’t think it will hurt to try and find ways to alleviate our existing problem.

We do know that carbon is a heat trapping gas and a pollutant. We wouldn’t turn up the heat on a boiling pot unless we wanted it to spill on the stove. I also know that since we practically replaced coal with natural gas, our greenhouse emissions are coming down significantly.

Howard is wrong because the president knows that new legislation to curb greenhouse emissions will never pass through the House of Representatives, so he is issuing executive orders to reduce greenhouse emissions by 17% over the next three years. The Supreme Court said that carbon was a pollutant, but they also said that the EPA should control its use and keep it from being a health hazard. I guess Mr. Harrison thinks that the conservative Supreme Court is also on the take.

Mr. Weise is an old libertarian, so anything that comes from the government in the form of regulations, taxes, fact sheets, or recommendations are causes for alarm. How ironic, he doesn’t mind socialism in the form of Medicare for all, but he complains of the control in a private insurance system like Obamacare. Forget the fact that exercising, eating well, and living a healthy lifestyle would lead to lower costs. He worries about the 2,700 pages in the health care law but I’d be willing to bet that he doesn’t know how many pages are in the Social Security or Medicare program. The first thing a republican lawmaker does nowadays is count the pages of a bill and anything over three pages is a bad bill. Oh that’s right, the original 2008 bailout bill was only three pages long.

If progressives are really socialist, they’re really bad at it because the stock market is at record highs and companies on the Fortune 500 have never had it so good. Wall Street borrows money a 0.75%, yet our students have to pay 6.2% as it stands right now.

Howard says progressives have a lust for power but on any given day, you can see  GOP controlled states exercising their power without hearings or a debate. No, Howard, Michelle Obama saying we should eat our vegetables is nothing our own mothers didn’t do and Bloomberg banning 32 ounces sugary drinks at some public places is for his city only. In neither case, no one is trying to impose their will on you.

I don’t usually drift as much, but I had to if I was going to keep up with Howard’s latest complaints.

Lately, I’ve seen conservatives admit that the earth is getting hotter, but now they’re saying that we cannot do anything about it because the solutions would be too expensive, and it would destroy our economy. I believe the fossil-fuel industry and chemical plants want to find ways to control their greenhouse emissions that will not destroy their bottom line. That’s why we need a bipartisan energy commission but that’s going to be hard to do, if over half of Republican legislators are climate-change deniers. Those folks still think global warming is about a local weather report.

Things are looking up,Wm Paul Tasin just got the facts hot off the press“the solid statistics are in, and the culture of death that we live in is losing badly to the culture of life.”  The study he provided sated that “ religious Americans enjoy superior mental health, are happier and far less likely to commit suicide.” Now,I don’t know if Mr. Tasin is making a sales pitch or trying to prove his superiority. I still believe if you are all that great,you won’t need stats because your example will be enough.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

My Way or the Highway

I grew up thinking that Roe v. Wade was settled law, and it was never discussed at the kitchen table.  It wasn't like there was " what do you think about abortion and by the way, pass the mashed potatoes.” I really hate that this issue is at the Federal level because it prevents us from working on more important issues, and I'm not saying it in a way to disrespect the pro-life movement.  That group will nobility continue working in shifts, 24/7 -365 days a year, fighting for the rights of the unborn.

It's getting to where a person like me cannot ignore the issue any longer because every day I hear of a Republican controlled state passing another intrusive abortion law, in the dead of the night without the debate or hearings. Yesterday,Wisconsin governor Scott Walker signed a mandated ultrasound law along with closing more abortion clinics.  Republican legislators across our country would not only  criminalize abortion after 20 weeks but they would close down most abortion clinics  and effectively close all of them with harsh restrictions. I think a rational person knows that this will only make it harder and less safe for poor women seeking an abortion. We know that the upper middle class and rich people will be able to afford other means to get an abortion.  You only have to look back 40 years to verify the realities.

The rhetoric is over the top on this issue because how can you call a young 17- year-old girl a murderer for following the advice from her physician, her conscience and family members?  I'm not ready to turn that decision over to the government ,nor would I as a juror vote to convict her or her doctor of murder.  The term pro- abortion and murder doesn't stop with the woman and her doctor, it goes to all those who don’t believe life starts at conception.  That could be Planned Parenthood, Democrats, and people who call themselves pro -choice.  Even I know that so- called abortion clinics like Planned Parenthood  provide preventive care, family planning, STD testing, cancer screening, and abortion is about 3% of what they do. Think about it, not accepting Medicaid expansions and closing down these clinics will be devastating for poor women.The Texas Health Department projected that the current legislation will produce an additional 24,000 births and that’s in a state where 25% of its citizens are uninsured. According to what I have heard,Texas Democrats are not necessarily balking on the 20-week abortion ban but the necessity of such legislation. Texas is funding 176 fewer clinics than it did in 2011 and 200,000 women have already lost their only access to birth control and cancer screening and there is no provision for rape or incest.  The Democratic politicians also know that this legislation is just one of  many coming down the road.  They know that GOP controlled states are chipping away at  Roe v. Wade.

Abortion is a sensitive issue, but it's also being used as a political football to score political points with the pro-life groups.  For example, Senator Marco Rubio might introduce a 20- week abortion ban to gain back some conservative street credit that he lost for supporting and leading the Senate immigration reform bill.  The House of Representatives have already passed a 20- week abortion ban knowing that it will not pass the Senate, but it keeps the money and votes flowing in.  Having said that, I have to acknowledge that a lot of them would support a 20-week abortion bill on core principle beliefs anyway.

While the pro-life movement has gained strength in recent years because of the technology like sonograms ,which show the baby’s movements, it's still an emotional and divisive issue.  Polls show that people are overwhelming against late -term abortions but they are also for keeping Roe v. Wade. Unfortunately this issue is being fought on religious and political grounds, so the battles will continue. It seems to me like we could convene an all women panel from both sides to come up with a workable solution because we have already seen what we get when men , who will will never have to endure childbirth, are left to make the decisions.

One of the first questions that a potential supreme court judge will be asked during the Senate confirmation is his stance on Roe v. Wade. Every nominee so far has invoked “Stare Decisis” when they answer that question. I wonder why that is? In reality, I think if one of the more radical abortion bills gets to the supreme court, the John Roberts conservative leaning court would seriously consider overturning Roe v Wade by a 5-4 margin.  You should consider that when you vote for a president.

Friday, July 5, 2013

It's a Hiccup Not a Catastrophic Disease

Recently, the Obama Administration decided to put off making small businesses of 50 or more employees provide health care or pay penalties until the year 2015.  That decision made the GOP jubilant. They said  that it just proved that Obamacare is a train wreck about to happen.  Nothing could be further from the truth because this only affects about 6% of the companies in that category or to be more precise, 250,000 of them.

I agree with Ezra Klein of the Washington Post, making small companies of 50 employees or more provide health insurance will just cause the company to layoff  employees or cut their hours back so they don’t reach that magic number.  The larger companies already provide 100% health insurance to their employees and those companies that hire less than 50 employees were never affected by law.  It probably should be based on the company's revenues. I believe the 50 or employee mandate idea was provided by former Senator Olympia Snowe and it was one of many ideas from the GOP that was implemented in the new healthcare law.

Whether the White House admits it or not; it takes the issue off the table in the midterm elections.  The Republicans can't say that small businesses will definitely be hurt because the administration has another year to come up with a better plan.  You would think that this would be an opportune time for the Republicans to come up with an alternative plan for small businesses, but they don't have one.

The GOP has two main goals: wait until the midterms when they gain control of the house and senate and don't give Obama any victories.  That's the reason they won't come up with a plan to fix what's wrong with health care or vote on an infrastructure project that will bolster the 195,000 jobs that were created in June. The House immigration reform bill will only include border enforcements measures in piecemeal fashion and it WILL NEVER include a path to citizenship.

The Republican governors know that it's ludicrous to pass up Medicaid funding where the Federal government picks up most of the  tab for the first three years ,knowing that if they lose the midterms, they will only hurt their taxpayers for that short period.  They don't care if  hundreds of thousands of people will be hurt for their political decision because it’s not their constituents besides those states are enacting laws to keep them from voting in high numbers anyway. They haven’t figured out that the state  and taxpayers will still pick up the tab for the use of the emergency rooms.

Kathleen Sebelius,Secretary of Health and Human Service, recently wrote letters to the commissioners of professional sports, asking them to help explain to people how to sign up for the health care exchanges and  to point out other parts of the new health care law. Mitch McConnell immediately wrote the NFL Commissioner and advised him against it and the commissioner declined the offer of the secretary. I've seen professional sports make public health announcements all the time but now it's political.

I understood from the very beginning that it would be difficult to persuade the 90% of the people who had health insurance, that we needed to insure many more in order to bring down costs.  It would be especially hard to convince those who were very skeptical and didn't trust government to get anything right.  Some thought they were going to lose some what they had to distribute it to others who had none.  I didn't expect the exaggerations such as death panels, or as much obstructions as I've seen ,on the right.  The speaker said it was a law of the land; yet he allowed votes to repeal the law knowing  it would be the dead-on arrival in the Senate.

I used to think good jobs numbers were  what the Americans wanted to hear, but not according to one source at Politico. The writer said the decent jobs figures was a bitter pill to swallow for Democrats because that meant that the fed chairman would stop trying to stimulate the economy.  It used to be that good job numbers meant  our economy was improving; not a political win for one party and a defeat for the other. 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

When you have the facts on your side, argue the facts. When you have the law on your side, argue the law. When you have neither, holler……………………………………….. Al Gore

Mack Simons of Wharton wrote a confusing letter this morning accusing the Democrats of following double standards on leaks. He thinks Democrats believe that President Obama is a messiah.

Mr. Simons doesn’t know that this matter is now is in the hands of law enforcement and when  and if the time comes, Snowden will be arrested for stealing state secrets, tried in a civilian court and not put to death because he’s being charged with espionage; not treason.

The open and transparency policy refers to domestic issues, such as putting the Affordable Care Act online for all to see as it was being voted on. This administration has also made the visitor's log available on-line. The White House has also established a website where 100,000 signatures on a petition mean that petitioners are entitled to an answer that addresses their complaint. Admittedly, they have a long way to go as far as being more open on national-security issues, but if they do, they will be the first administration to do so. I have to remind Mack Simons that the White House is a lot more transparent than the Ohio Republicans who added in an intrusive abortion amendment to a budget deal, without hearings or debate.

The condemnation of Edward Snowden is bipartisan but those calling his actions treasonous are coming from Republicans. Yes, this administration has been more aggressive going after whistle blowers, more than any other administration in our history, but I can remember Republican legislators condemning President Obama and for being soft on leakers. The administration can only go as far as Congress allows it to. Time after time, Democrat and Republican legislators have reauthorized the Patriot Act and the NSA surveillance systems.

Comparing Edward Snowden stealing state secrets to the actions of Sandy Burger at the National Archives is ludicrous. I remember several Democrats saying it was a stupid action by Mr. Berger, and that he was rightly punished for it and that includes this liberal Democrat. I believe that was just your opening to bring in your Clinton era conspiracies.

The actions of Daniel Ellsberg brought to what some consider the unjust war in Vietnam, to its eventual end. The Pentagon Papers was not favorable to President Johnson “They revealed that the government had knowledge, early on, that the war could most likely not be won, and that continuing the war would lead to many times more casualties than was ever admitted publicly. Further, as an editor of the New York Times was to write much later, these documents "demonstrated, among other things, that the Johnson Administration had systematically lied, not only to the public but also to Congress, about a subject of transcendent national interest and significance."

The anger, resentment, or pleasure that was taken when people found out what Edward Snowden had done was more about the tolerance of civil liberties more than anything else. The hypocritical stances have more to do with trust; the Democrats trust President Obama more than they did President Bush. Libertarians are the only group that does not trust government with their civil liberties, no matter who’s in power. Republicans are in favor of the NSA surveillance programs.

Unless the Republican candidate for president is Rand Paul (I’m praying for that) I don’t  think we’ll be hearing anything about Edward Snowden or NSA for that matter, in the 2016 presidential election.

I can see where Mack Simons might get his information. Unfortunately, I had to wait over two hours to see the doctor about my torn rotator cuff. I had to sit there and watch two hours of Fox News bad mouthing President Obama in every segment they had.