Monday, September 30, 2013

The Obama Presidency Reaches Its Critical Point in History – Either Mr. Obama Becomes a Great Leader and a Very Good President


A Failed President Who Turned Governing Over to the Radical House Republicans

With the House rejecting the Senate bill to finance the government for the next several months and with the debt ceiling limit coming due in mid October, President Obama faces a very defining choice.  The House is demanding that Health Care Reform be delayed for one year, in effect killing the reform as a one year delay would mean the end of the law.  This would be in return for extending the funding of the government until mid December at which time the crisis would continue ad nauseum.

While some serious people will argue that the President should accept this position, if he were to do so it would end his Presidency and turn governing over to the House.  A cave in by the President would mean a cave in on the debt ceiling and further concessions in mid December when another deadline for funding the government comes due.  From this point forward the House Republicans would be dictators of national policy.

The radical Republican establishment wants this fight, they want to shut down the government and they want to block an increase in the debt ceiling.  Their motives are two fold, one to get their way on legislation and two to permanently cripple the Federal government whom they view as the source of all evil in the world.

Mr. Obama finds himself in this situation because he has long given the impression that he can be rolled.  He is now stating he cannot be rolled.  But he lacks the credibility and without a fiscal crisis where he withstands the pressure he will never have the credibility he needs to govern.  So Mr. Obama should welcome this test, he should welcome the situation where he has a chance to demonstrate his resolve.  It is the only way he can restore confidence in his administration.  And yes, the cost may be terrible.

Of course, that presumes that he has the resolve needed to govern.  He hasn’t in the past.  Does he have it now?  

George H. W. Bush Continues To Look Like a Much Better Person Than We Thought He Was

Except for the Socks Of Course

George H. W. Bush is one of the few American Presidents who was defeated in his bid for a second term.  But given his post Presidency actions and a realization of what he did do in office it is clear today that if the voters knew then what they know now Mr. Bush would have been handily re-elected.  In particular Mr. Bush recognized reality when he agreed to raise taxes to close a rising budget deficit, even as he had pledged not to, and his decision NOT to invade Iraq was a terrific one, and one which his son should have emulated as well.

Now comes the news that Mr. and Mrs. Bush were witnesses at a wedding, but not just any wedding.

George H.W. Bush is witness at same-sex marriage in Maine

Former President George H.W. Bush and his wife Barbara served as an official witnesses Saturday at the Maine wedding of Bonnie Clement and Helen Thorgalsen, co-owners of a Kennebunk general store. Thorgalsen posted a photo on Facebook of the 41st commander-in-chief signing a set of documents for them at an outdoor celebration: “Getting our marriage license witnessed!”

Clement, left, and Thorgalsen, right, watch as President Bush signs their license. (Courtesy of Helen Thorgalsen and Bonnie Clement)

Well nice going George and Barbara.  Nice going.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Nightmare of Senator Ted Cruz

And Breaking Our Rule About Re-Posting Cartoons

Sometimes you just cannot resist

Why Can’t U. S. Secrets Be Kept as Well as TV’s; Why Would Anybody Object to the U. S. and Iran Talking and

Other Short Comments on the News

Forget Breaking Bad, the most entertaining bad guys on display today are the members of Congress.  But speaking of Breaking Bad, how is it possible that a group of actors, producers, directors, and tech people can keep the secret of how the series ends, while the U. S. government with all its resources cannot keep its secrets?

Expect a torrent of criticism from Conservatives about the President talking with the leader of Iran.  This Forum just cannot understand why anyone would object to talking between adversaries, just how do the critics expect disputes to be resolved without resorting to massive violence? 

Is the most dangerous place to be in Washington is standing between Texas Senator Ted Cruz and a camera?

And speaking of Mr. Cruz, is Kentucky Senator Rand Paul kicking himself for being less outrageous than Mr. Cruz and ceding to the Texas Senator the title of the Craziest Republican ever? 

Does anyone else notice that on a lot of new TV shows the only presence of African Americans is in the role of bosses?  On the Michael J. Fox Show, on The Blacklist and on some show featuring Ichabod Crane resurrected from the dead into modern Sleepy Hollow African American men play the role of the boss.  But that’s about the only roles African American men have.  This condescending tokenism attitude of TV is almost as bad as when the banned African Americans altogether from the little screen.

The ace closer for the New York Yankees, Mariano Rivera is retiring.  He leaves the proper image of a regular person, a person who shows up for work, does it well and then walks off the mound without making a fuss about other things.  What a mensch.

With a new Major about to succeed Michael Bloomberg in New York City, one wonders how long it will take for New Yorkers to realize how incredibly fortunate they were to have had Mr. Bloomberg lead the city for 12 years. 

A judge in New Jersey has ruled that because the U. S. government must recognize same sex marriages and not discriminate against couples who are legally married regardless of gender, the state of New Jersey cannot bar same sex marriages as would violate the state’s Constitution requirement of equal rights because it denies same sex couples Federal benefits.  Just another messy legal battle thanks to the Supreme Court being unwilling to give a definitive decision of marriage equality, and another positive step towards the day of full equality.

With their lame lineup of new lame comedies and totally unrealistic dramas have the major networks taken a giant step forward towards having only news, sports and awful reality shows on their schedules?

If the Syrian crisis involving chemical weapons is ultimately resolved peacefully with no U. S. military action,  is there any way to console John McCain and Lindsey Graham?

New York Times columnist David Brooks has taken a leave to write a book.  Is there anyway to convince the Times to make the leave permanent?

The NCAA is reducing its penalties on Penn State’s football program, penalties enacted because the program allowed an Assistant Coach to sexually assault children.    Apparently this is in response to the fact that this past year Penn State has no known incidents of coaches assaulting children.  The school must be very proud.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

2016 Ohio State Football Schedule - Major College Football Passes the Stage of Corruption and Descends Into Farce

And Here’s What The Future of College Football Looks Like

When Princeton and the other colleges started playing college football in the 19th century no one could have foreseen that billions of dollars would flow from the sport and that those billions would corrupt the players, the coaches, the universities and the game itself.  But higher education in many of America’s premier universities is now subservient to athletics, and money not education and learning is the driving force.

As a result of the corrosive funds now inundating college football, teams have taken to scheduling the weakest opponents possible in order to have a winning record and protect the jobs of the university athletic departments and the administrations.  On a just completed Saturday Ohio State beat Florida Agricultural and Mineral University 76 to 0.  Louisville, not exactly an athletic power but one that wants to be beat Florida International University 72 to 0.  And just so everyone knows that the state of Florida does not field a bunch of cupcake teams, Miami beat Savannah State 77 to 7 and Florida State beat Bethune Cookman 54 to 7.  And no, schools supported by religious groups are also part of the picture, Baylor beat the University of Louisiana at Monroe 70 to 7.

The schools that suffer these humiliating defeats are happy to do so.  They get a large payoff which supports their athletic department, and without acting as doormats they might have to scale down their own football programs.  If this sounds like big college just buying victories to pad the won/loss record it should, that’s exactly what it is.

So in the near future one can expect that a school like The Ohio State University will release the following football schedule.

Columbus, Ohio (AP).  Ohio State today released its 2016 football schedule and highlighted games with new opponents that the school said should make for an exciting and challenging fall season.  In order to beef up the schedule Ohio State has dropped two Orphanages from its 2015 slate and added quality opponents.  Here are the games that the Buckeyes will play in 2016.

Sept 1 – Johnstown, Pa High School Junior Varsity:  OSU says don’t be fooled by the fact that this is a high school JV team.  They have good football traditions in Pennsylvania and this team may well score a field goal against the 5th string Buckeyes who are expected to play the final 10 minutes to keep the score for Ohio State under 175 points.

Sept. 8 – Vassar College Women’s Field Hockey Team:  This will be a first for OSU, and a challenge since they will have no advance scouting report on the Fighting Feminists as the Vassar team is called because the Field Hockey team has never played football.

Sept. 15 – Grand Island Nebraska Junior College:  A game against the Growling Corngrowers will be a tough tune up for OSU’s upcoming Big 10 schedule.

Sept. 22 – at Hawaii Tech:  A nice two week travel award and a break from the grind of three hard games awaits Ohio State players.  But don’t count out the Postulating Programmers from giving OSU a real game.

Sept. 29 – Open:  Still vacationing in Hawaii

Oct. 6 – at Florida Pacific:  Another fair weather game against a college that will be fielding its first football team ever.  This game is contingent upon the Florida Pacific Confused Geographers  finding 11 men to try out for the team.

Oct 13 – Upper Arlington (Ohio) High School:  The beginning of a vicious home town rivalry.

Oct 20 – at Quebec College:  In another first, Ohio State will play the bilingual Fighting French Canadians in a game in Quebec City.  The athletic department has announced that boosters who contribute $100,000 or more to the athletic department will be given a free lecture on the history of American style football in France by Ohio State's award winning faculty. The faculty won the prestigious Madoff Trophy after compiling a record of granting an A in every course to every enrolled scholarship football and basketball player.

Oct 27 – Intra-quad Game with Non Scholarship OSU Players:  The NCAA has sanctioned games where the scholarship athletes play the non scholarship athletes, provided that no fatalities occur for a period of three years following such a game.  

Nov. 4 – at Indiana:  Opening the Big 10 season Ohio State will visit what they hope to be the weakest Big 10 team.  If Indiana has won any games against real opponents Ohio State has the option of requiring the Hoosier to play the game with only seven players.

Nov. 11 – Open with practice Session:  After playing a real college team the Buckeyes will rest its starters for a week.  A player optional practice will be held at the stadium with tickets priced at $95.00 so that kids can attend.

Nov. 18 – University of Texas at Dustville:  The athletic department has announced its intention to create a rivalry with the state of Texas, and this game against a previously unknown college whose existence had been considered a rural myth until explorers located it late last year is expected to be just the start of a long and entertaining series.

Nov. 25 at Michigan:  The season concludes, except for bowl games (the NCAA now allows each school to play two of them) with traditional rival Michigan.   Both the President of the University of Michigan and the Chancellor of Ohio State will share in the $20 million fee that ESPN will pay for the rights to broadcast the pre-game festivities.

Yep, that’s probably what it will look like.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Don’t Think Conservative Ideas are Upopular? - Republican Ken Cuccinelli in Virginia is Urged to Forgo His Ultra Conservative Ideas for the Campaign

Maybe the Only Way Conservatives Can Win is to Hide Their Views

In the Virginia Governor’s race this fall, the only election race that matters this year the Republican nominee Ken Cuccinelli is an extremist.  He wants to put adulterers in jail, wants to tell doctors what they can and cannot say to women patients and is avidly against basic rights for the gay and lesbian community.  He is the personification of the extreme social positions of Conservatives.  And according to the polls, he is losing.
So now the self appointed right wing political adviser Jennifer Rubin, masquerading as an opinion columnist for the Washington Post is telling Mr. Cuccinelli to abandon his beliefs and campaign on economic issues.

Knowing that social extremism was going to be a principle line of attack from McAuliffe, Cuccinelli should have been crystal clear from the get-go: Virginia doesn’t need new or different laws on these issues of conscience. He will focus on jobs and budget issues. Had he been saying that for months he could have at this point in the race honestly said that McAuliffe is the only one talking about divisive social issues. Cuccinelli committed the cardinal error of politics: He let his opponent define him before he defined himself.

One debate performance when most voters are turned off and already annoyed with both candidates is unlikely to change the trajectory of the race. However, there is over a month left. If Cuccinelli spends the final weeks of the campaign stressing a no-nonsense, bread and butter agenda and an aversion to Washington-style histrionics, some of those centrist voters might come back to him. It might not work. Nevertheless, if he doesn’t do something different he’ll surely lose the race.

Now all politicians try to fool voters by hiding or running away from their extremist views, but Conservatives are the ones who say they are morally committed to what they believe and so have a moral commitment to run on those views.  Except, as Ms. Rubin notes, those views tend to lose elections where voters actually decide on a candidate’s merits as opposed to blindly voting for the Party. 
So her advice is that the only way Mr. Cuccinelli can win is to hide his true feelings, hide what he really thinks and pretend to be something he is not.  That something he is not is that he is not a believer in effective government and a government that does not use its powers to inflict its social behavior preferences on an unwilling populace.  The lesson for Virginians is clear.  Vote for Mr. Cuccinelli because you really believe he will not use the power of state government to interfere in your private lives and you deserve what you will get. 

Utah High School Football Coach Demands Proper Behavior From His Players

A Man Who Has No Coaching Future

Every now and then the dominance of sports in the educational system is upset by someone who doesn’t go along with the program.  Such is the case in Utah with high school coach Matt Labrum.

Unhappy with reports that some of his players were cyberbullying a fellow student, and that others were skipping and failing classes, Union (Roosevelt, Utah) football coach Matt Labrum suspended his entire team after last Friday's 40-16 loss to Judge Memorial (Salt Lake City).

“We felt like everything was going in a direction that we didn’t want our young men going,” Labrum told the Deseret News. “We felt like we needed to make a stand.”

And here’s what he wants his team to do in order to be able to play.

Labrum met with his 80 players again on Saturday morning and gave them a letter titled "Union football character," which outlined the following criteria to earn the right to be reinstated for Thursday and Friday's JV and varsity games.

1) Attend all practices that we have planned and any others that may come up.
2) Be on time and totally prepared
3) No F's or discipline problems
4) Do an individual service project for your family, give me a typed report of it and pictures and have your parents sign it. (Due Wed. before study hall)
5) Memorize and pass this quote off to one of the coaches at some point during study hall

"Good character is more to be praised than outstanding talent. Most talents are, to some extent, a gift. Good character, by contrast is not given to us. We have to build it, piece by piece — by thought, by choice, courage, and determination."

If you meet ALL criteria by Wednesday night, you will have earned the privilege to play in the games on Thursday and Friday. If you fail then you will miss this week's game.

If you have to ask why a code of conduct like this is not standard operating procedure in all of America for athletes in school then you just don’t live in the 21st century.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz Sets Out to Capture the Laughing Stock Bloc of the Republican Party

Don’t Laugh, It’s the Party’s Biggest Bloc

The Republican Party in the last several election cycles has set up to nominate various candidates with various backgrounds.  Senator Bob Dole came from the Legislative Wing of the party, John McCain from the Warhawk Wing of the party and Mitt Romney from the Multi-millionaire Businessman wing of the party (yes McCain is very wealthy, but he married into wealth so that may not make him a true bona fide representative of the millionaires).

Hey, the Laughing Stock of the world needs representation too,
and who better to do it

Now Republican Senator Ted Cruz has apparently set out to be the 2016 nominee of the Republicans, representing the Laughing Stock Wing of the Republican Party (and every party needs a laughing stock to be a merry affair).  What did the Senator do to earn this highly praiseworthy leadership position?  Well there is this.

  1. Mr. Cruz set out to filibuster and prevent the Senate from taking up a bill to defund health care reform, a bill that he supports.
  2. Mr. Cruz’s filibuster was not even a real filibuster.
  3. Mr. Cruz then voted for the action that he was filibustering against.
Yes you read that right.  Mr. Cruz fought a valiant(?) fight invoking and reading Dr. Seuss to keep the Senate from taking up the House bill, then voted to take up the House bill.

What a putz!

Horror Story in America – Homeless and Mentally Ill in Nevada Bused to California and Just Left There

But It Saves the Taxpayers of Nevada Money!

The latest horror story is not one that is showing at the local cinema.  It is one that is being played out in the  mental hospitals in Nevada and the streets of San Francisco.  It seems the way a mental hospital in Nevada has been dealing with the problem of the homeless and mentally ill is to take them to the bus station, buy them a ticket to California, give them a couple of sandwich and a day’s medication and off they go.

Mr. Theisen is at the center of a class-action lawsuit brought this month by San Francisco’s city attorney, Dennis Herrera, against the State of Nevada on behalf of 24 mentally ill and homeless people. They were all, like Mr. Theisen, bused out of Nevada and left on the streets of San Francisco with little or no medication.

But that is just a small sampling, Mr. Herrera says, of the estimated 1,500 people who were bused all over the country in recent years from the state-operated Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Center in Las Vegas and other Nevada institutions, 500 of them to California.

It is hard to comment on a story like this, and on these details.

Ms. Woods, the spokeswoman for Nevada’s health agency, said that from July 1, 2008, to March 31, the state bought out-of-state bus tickets for 4.7 percent of the patients it discharged, an estimated 1,473 people. “The findings show there were 10 instances in the course of five years where there was not enough documentation to know for certain if staff confirmed there was housing/shelter and supportive services at the destination,” she said.

The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, however, said last month that its inquiry showed a more widespread problem. About 40 percent of the mental patients discharged by the hospital went into local homeless shelters or were shipped elsewhere, the federal investigators said, and most of those were sent directly to a Greyhound bus station with a ticket but without proper documentation or instructions on what they should do when they arrive.

And Nevada of course is the playground of the rich and famous.  So it is easy to see that the state doesn’t want mega millionaires play time disturbed by the sight of the homeless and mentally ill.  Easy for all to understand except for the homeless and mentally ill.  They probably don’t get it at all.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble Claims Success in Economic Policy in Europe – And the Telegraph Takes Him Down

Don’tcha Just Hate It When Someone Elses Does What You Do and Does It Better

Thanks to Paul Krugman we have a link to a commentary in the British newspaper The Telegraph, a commentary on the extraordinary (in every sense of the word) article in the Financial Times by German Finance minister Wolfgang Schauble on the great success of the German imposed austerity on Europe. 

It is tempting to just repost the entire article, it is that good, but in the interests of time here is just a delicious sampling. 

My grovelling apology to Herr Schäuble

By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard Economics Last updated: September 17th

Mr Schäuble says Germany pulled it off the old-fashioned way earlier this decade, with root-and-branch reform. The UK did it in the 1980s, Sweden and Finland in the early 1990s, Asia in the late 1990s:

The recipe worked then and it is working now, somewhat to the chagrin and bemusement of its numerous critics in the media, academia, international organisations and politics.

In just three years, public deficits in Europe have halved, unit labour costs and competitiveness are rapidly adjusting, bank balance sheets are on the mend and current account deficits are disappearing. In the second quarter the recession in the eurozone came to an end.

Systems adapt, downturns bottom out, trends turn. In other words, what is broken can be repaired. Europe today is the proof.

So there we have it. The problem is solved. How can I not have seen it? How can any of us on this blog thread have missed it?

I apologise for mentioning that unemployment is 27.8pc in Greece, 26.3pc in Spain, 17.3pc in Cyprus, and 16.5pc in Portugal, or for pointing that it would be far worse had it not been for a mass exodus of EMU refugees. Nor was is proper to mention that Greek youth unemployment in 62.9pc. These are trivial details.

I apologise for pointing out that the EU-IMF Troika originally said the Greek economy would contract by 2.6pc in 2010 and then recover briskly, when in fact it contracted by roughly 23pc from peak-to-trough, and will shrink another 5pc this year according to the think-tank IOBE. This slippage is well within the normal margin of error.

And here is the dessert, the even more delicious conclusion.

 I apologise personally to Mr Schäuble for calling him a dangerous mediocrity: arrogant, shallow, narrow-minded, provincial, and unscientific in equal degree. This was shockingly rude. It brings shame to Fleet Street.

I should not have questioned his wisdom in thinking it is possible to harmlessly enforce contractionary policies on the South of a single currency zone without offsetting expansion in the North. Events have shown that he has the finest mind in Europe, and a superb grasp of European politics. Moreover, people have seen the light even in Greece, where he is now adored.

The only complaint about all this , when someone does what this Forum attempts to do, and does it so much better the motivation here begins to wane.

Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz Makes a Mockery of Democracy in His Senate Filibuster Speech

Talking About the Inane, the Unrelated and the Downright Stupid Because He Has Nothing Real to Say

In order to prevent a vote on a bill he supports (huh?) Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz is talking.  And by talking on the floor of the U. S. Senate he is preventing a vote on a bill he supports (huh?).  And by using his time to talk about a bunch of things that don’t concern anyone he is using his time to cement his support among die hard, rock hard and head hard conservatives (huh?).

Sen. Cruz - This is all about him, that's all it's ever all about with Sen. Cruz
What a putz

As he outlined his opposition to the health-care law, Cruz’s hours of oratory against the law touched a broad mix of subjects and sources, including lyrics from a song by country music star Toby Keith; excerpts from the book “Atlas Shrugged,” a favorite of libertarians; quotations from the popular reality television show “Duck Dynasty;” the unemployment rate among African American teenagers; how his father, Rafael Cruz, used to make green eggs and ham for breakfast; a recent acceptance speech by actor Ashton Kutcher at an awards show; and the restaurants Denny’s, Benihana and White Castle.

At one point Tuesday night, Cruz opted to read bedtime stories to his two young daughters, who he said were home in Texas watching television with his wife. Cruz first read King Solomon’s Wise Words from the Book of Proverbs and then the Dr. Seuss classic “Green Eggs and Ham,” saying that it was one of his favorite children’s books.

Yes, somewhere James Madison is weeping, and the person who coined the phrase that the Senate is the “world’s greatest deliberative body” is issuing a qualification, saying he never met Ted Cruz and would now like to rethink his position.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Thanks to Republican Intransigence on Federal Spending, FBI May Shut Down 10 Days Next Fiscal Year

Does It Get Any Dumber Than This – Maybe, Just Wait

Republicans hate the Federal government and think all Federal spending is a big waste (except of course for defense spending and spending on large Congressional salaries and massive perks, that’s ok).  So they refuse to budge on something called the Sequester which cuts spending from domestic agencies. 

As a result the FBI, you know, the people protecting the citizens against terror attacks and national and international crime, may have to completely close its offices for 10 days in the next fiscal year which starts October 1.

FBI officials are hinting that the agency might furlough employees for more than 10 weekdays and shut down its offices on those dates if the government-wide spending cuts known as the sequester continue through the next fiscal year.

Such a plan would affect FBI personnel more than the agency’s current sequester measures, which do not involve unpaid leave. It would also impact investigations and intelligence gathering, as only essential employees would remain on the job during furlough days.

Of course spending cuts have already affected law enforcement.

The FBI’s sequester reductions for fiscal 2013 included cutbacks in hiring, training and equipment purchases. 

But Republicans don’t care.  Anything that endangers their vision of America, a vision that includes a crippled central government, tax cuts for the wealthy, reduction in aid for the young, the poor, the students, the ill and the elderly must give way.  And if a reduced FBI fighting crime and terrorism is the cost to give the Mitt Romney’s of the world lower taxes, well too bad.  Besides Mitt and his friends can pay for their own private security, they don’t need no stinkin badges.

North Carolina Continues to Lead in the Race to the Bottom – County School Board Bans Book on Modern Library List of 100 Greatest

Yahoos Are Alive and Well in the Tar Heel State

Because one author of this Forum lives near North Carolina, admires North Carolina and really likes North Carolina this Forum reports a lot on North Carolina.  The problem of course is that radical conservatives now dominate government in the state, and the rest of the nation needs to understand what these people will do if they gain national power.

So here is a report from a school district in the state where the Board of Education has decided that nationally recognized literature is not suitable for high school students.

RAMSEUR — “Invisible Man” by Ralph Ellison is banned from the shelves of Randolph County Schools libraries.

By a 5-2 margin, the Randolph County Board of Education voted Monday night, at its regular meeting held at Eastern Randolph High School, to remove all copies of the book from school libraries.

Afterwards the school board did not issue the following invitation.

Randolph County Residents Invited to Book Burning

Every concerned citizen is invited to the book burning and fish fry to be sponsored by the Randolph County Board of Education.  In what we hope will be a regular event, the School Board will set up a bon fire behind the high school where everyone will be encouraged to throw books they think other people should not read into the fire.  Local residents will be given preferred positions near the fire, and anyone bringing a book authored by an African American will be given first priority.

Parents in particular should use the upcoming open house at their local schools to take any books off the shelves of the school libraries that they don’t like and bring them to the burning.  Please note that having actually read a book that is submitted for the burning is not required. In this way we can accommodate many of our citizens who have, in fact never read a book.  Furthermore the School Board thinks that the community will be better served by burning books that the residents have not read.  In that way they will not be contaminated by impure thoughts or ideas such as racial equality, equal justice for all or other commie/socialist inspired doctrines that are preached on a daily basis by our Kenyan born President.

After the fire dies down attendees will be allowed into the school auditorium to hear a lecture by the head of the National Association of Bigots on why fascism is not as bad as it was made out to be by the liberal press.  Donations to that group are tax deductible and checks should be made out to “Maim a Liberal for Jesus, LLC” a 501 (c) (3) corporation. 

Expenses for the event will be underwritten by the Koch Brothers.

Y’all come!!

Monday, September 23, 2013

If Breaking Bad Took Place Anywhere Other than the U. S.

Thanks to Buzz Feed

Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker John Boehner and Virginia Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Ken Cuccinelli Have the Most At Stake in the Government Funding Fight

Getting the Real News the Established Press Ignores

Listening to the broadcast stories and the news reports on the battle by Republicans to shut down the Federal government over funding for health care reform one would think that Texas Senator Ted Cruz is the story here.  He is not.  Mr. Cruz is simply taking the farthest right position one can take, that being the position that best positions him in the Republican party.  But the real story here is the fate of three seldom mentioned Republicans

  1. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell:  Sen. McConnell has been notably absent from this fight.  This is because he really, really doesn’t want to take a stand.  Sen. McConnell is facing a challenger from the extreme (really extreme) right wing of the party in his bid for re-election from Kentucky in 2014.
Sen. McConnell certainly does not want the negative press that will come down on him for causing the Federal government to shut down. But he also does not want to have to side with the reasonable people and severely damage his chances in the Republican primary.  So he wants nothing to do here, but unfortunately some time this week he will have to vote.

Politically Senator McConnell should side with Sen. Cruz and expect to lose.  This is the best possible outcome for him, being on the losing side in this case is winning. And nobody remembers the losers.  But Sen. McConnell has announced he will not support Senator Cruz, which can only mean that there are some Senators and some positions that are so odious that even a blatantly political animals like many U.Senators are have a limit.  So will Senator McConnell's position here hurt him in his primary?  Tune in next year to find out.

  1. House Speaker John Boehner:  Mr. Boehner will have a choice later this week.  He can bring up a vote on a budget funding bill that has been stripped of de-funding health care reform, and incur the wrath of his party and the possibility of the loss of his Speakership.  Or he can send a bill with de-funding back to certain defeat in the Senate, and probably causing a shutdown.  Either way this is a losing situation.
Look for Mr. Boehner to punt.  He will likely promise his Republican members that he will take the issue to the debt ceiling fight, and that he will really, really, really cause a government financial crisis in order to get the will of the Republicans to triumph over health care reform. And he may make an effort to send a partial defunding or delay of health care reform back to the Senate.  But Mr. Boehner's Speakership is on thin ice here, and Majority Leader Eric Cantor is right behind him, not to support him to but to stick a knife in his back at the first opportunity.  If Cantor doesn't support the Speaker, look out John.

Even worse for Mr. Boehner is that the President is on record as being unwilling to move or even negotiate on the debt ceiling.  Now no one really believes the President, but this time he may actually live up to what he said he would do.  If so the crisis is moved from October 1 to mid to late October.  And then what do you do John?

  1. Republican Candidate for Virginia Governor Ken Cuccinelli:  This is the only race that matters this fall.  Mr. Cuccinelli is a rabid conservative trying to run away from his past.  In fact the biggest opponent Mr. Cuccinelli has in his race is Ken Cuccinelli because his opponent is a lackluster Democrat who against any other Republican would be losing badly.    Mr. Cuccinelli would obviously support shutting down the Federal government, except that the prosperity of his state depends upon the Federal government. 
His opponent, the lamentable Democrat Terry McAuliffe, a man with no program, no plan, and no credentials will try to make Mr. Cuccinelli the face of the shutdown even if Mr. Cuccinelli turns renegade and does not support the House Republicans.  So Mr. Cuccinelli really, really, really wants this problem to go away.  But at this point is hard to see how that will happen.  Right now Mr. Cuccinelli is trailing but is close enough to pull out a win, Virginia Republicans being the type that will vote for whoever has the Republican label, no mattter what.  A government shutdown/default that dooms his chances would send a strong message about the politics of this whole issue.

So these are the three really important political stories in the budget/debt ceiling fight.  Too bad the media is not covering them but then this Forum is so there is enlightenment.  No humility here, just enlightenment.

Stupidity Abounds Even Among Progressives – Ezra Klein’s Idiotic Column on How to Manage Your Personal Finance

He Says the Rules Fit on an Index Card – NO NO NO

Americans love the quick fix.  They want to eat a terrible diet, and then want a single pill or simple rule to keep them from getting morbidly obese and seriously ill.  On health care, the government just needs to do “something”.  And on getting rich, gosh just a simple set of rules that can fit on an index card.

From Ezra Klein, normally a reasonable and intelligent fellow at the Washington Post we have this as the way to solve all one’s financial problems.

Harold Pollack's index card.

Yeah, what is on the card is true, and a little redundant.  But it is also vague and unworkable and insufficient.  But the crowning idiocy of Mr. Klein is this comment here.

It's really hard to be poor (see Pollack's amazing interview on how being poor changes the way people think for more on that).

Uh yes Mr. Klein it probably is hard to be poor if you are a white male with a college education, endowed with a high degree of intelligence and have a great job at the Washington Post with a fantastic way above average salary and super benefits like health insurance and a retirement program. 

But try having a mountain a health care bills because you didn’t have insurance.  Or try having huge credit card debt because you lost your job, couldn’t get another one and had to feed the family.  Or try paying off college loans that amount to $50,000 or more on a $30,000 a year income.  Or try getting refinancing on your mortgage because you were sold a teaser loan that now has a huge interest rate and a mortgage on a house that is underwater.

In short Mr. Klein, try living like a large number of Americans do today.  You will find it quite easy to be poor.  Really, you will.  Tens of millions of Americans do it every day, you can to.

Anthony Weiner, Mitt Romney, Darrell Issa All Grace Politico With Absurdities

And That’s Not All

Sometimes a single political site has a bunch of laugh out loud stuff, and Politico recently had just that.

  1. Anthony Weiner, the defeated mayoral candidate (and we mean really, really defeated) had to go on the radio and declare that he was not an idiot.  Uh Anthony, when one’s persona has sunk so low that one has to publicly state that one is not an idiot, the odds are pretty good that one is.

  1. The chief inquisitor of the House, Rep. Darrell Issa has spent months trying to make the tragedy of the death of American in Libya into a scandal.  He has not succeeded, because this was a tragedy, not a scandal (although tragedies are not immune from Republican politics if they think they can score some points).  So now Mr. Issa is going to Libya to ferret out more info.  Well it takes one ferret to know another one doesn’t it.

Mitt Romney and his grandchildren are shown. | AP Photo
Look around Mitt, really, count 'em
  1. Mitt Romney the man who was supposed to be the numbers oriented business guy doesn’t know how many grandkids he has.  To be fair, the number is in double digits so Mitt could be excused for having difficulty here.

  1. Sen. Rand Paul says the Republicans are “winning like Charlie Sheen”.  No we don’t know what that means either, but then most of what Mr. Paul says is incomprehensible. Anyway comparing a political party favorably to actor Charlie Sheen doesn't seem to be an  entrance ramp on the road to success.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Minnesota Governor Wants Mega Wealthy Team Owner of Vikings to Pay Share of New Stadium Costs Instead of Fans


In Minnesota as after the state government started up after Republicans shut it down in a tax revolt against funding vital welfare programs the state passed laws that would commit substantial taxpayer funding for a new football stadium.  It’s a great project, as long as one overlooks the fact that the new stadium creates no new permanent jobs and is basically corporate welfare for the wealthy owners of the team.

But the deal did require the team to put up some money.

The Vikings are responsible for paying $477 million of the stadium's $975 million construction cost with the state of Minnesota and city of Minneapolis responsible for the rest.

The team's portion of the funding includes a $200 million NFL loan and revenue from stadium naming rights as well as the sale of personal seat licenses to season ticket holders. Revenue from those sources could easily be tens of millions of dollars or more, leading critics of the stadium financing package to question whether the owners and team have much financial exposure at all.

Notice that line about sale of personal seat licenses.  Basically what those are is a charge to season ticket holders for the right to buy a season ticket.  Yes you read that correctly.

Now the Governor is saying no, that the Vikings should not rely on fan money after relying on hundreds of millions of government money.

. . . in a letter Monday to the Minnesota Sports Facilities chairwoman Michele Kelm-Helgen, Dayton urged the authority to make sure the owners and team contribute "significant equity" to the project, and not rely heavily on personal seat license fees.

"I strongly urge you to negotiate a final financial agreement, which requires the Vikings' owners to provide a signficant share of their financial contribution from their own resources, and not from Vikings' fans through the sale of expensive personal seat licenses," Dayton wrote.

Wow, here’s a Governor who doesn’t understand the basic principles of government.  He doesn’t know or care that the responsibility of a cash starved state is to provide massive subsidies for wealthy owners of sport franchises.  Where has this man been?

What Kind of Government Officials Would Work to Undermine the Ability of Citizens to Obtain Low Cost Health Insurance? - Republicans Of Course

Why Do You Even Ask

With the new health care reform law to go into effect on October 1 it appears that some of its success will be that people will be able to obtain low cost health insurance from the health insurance exchanges that the new law creates.  That apparently is a huge affront to many Republicans, particularly those in state government positions where they have very nice, very comprehensive government provided/subsidized health insurance.

So these people whose philosophy is apparently “I got my government health insurance, you don’t get any health insurance” are now moving to make it more difficult for the uninsured to get access to the new, lower cost plans.

MIAMI — As many states prepare to introduce a linchpin of the 2010health care law — the insurance exchanges designed to make health care more affordable — a handful of others are taking the opposite tack: They are complicating enrollment efforts and limiting information about the new program.

Chief among them is Florida, where Gov. Rick Scott and the Republican-dominated Legislature have made it more difficult for Floridians to obtain the cheapest insurance rates under the exchange and to get help from specially trained outreach counselors.

Missouri and Ohio, two other states troubled by the Affordable Care Act, have also moved to undercut the law and its insurance exchanges, set to open on Oct. 1. In Georgia, the state insurance commissioner, Ralph T. Hudgens, has said he will do “everything in our power to be an obstructionist.”

Yep, just when everyone thought that Conservatives could not get any worse, something like this comes along.  And yes, in this case it is or could be a matter of life and death. 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

No Profiles in Courage in New Mexico Over Marriage Equality

Elected Officials in the Only State With No Law Defining Marriage Go Into Full Retreat

It came as a complete surprise that the state of New Mexico neither allows or rejects same sex marriage.  Really, it turns out there is one state of the union that hasn’t defined the issue.  Naturally this presents all sorts of confusions.

For years, state legislators have tried to settle the debate, with conservative Republicans introducing bills to describe marriage as a union between a man and a woman and liberal Democrats stalling those efforts or proposing bills of their own without gender-specific restrictions. None ever succeeded.

That has left New Mexico as the only state in the country that has no statute or constitutional amendment explicitly barring same-sex couples from marrying, but also no law saying they can. Since March, same-sex couples in three cities — Santa Fe, Albuquerque and Los Alamos — have filed lawsuits in an effort to get a clear ruling on the issue.

So in New Mexico it appears that it is up to county clerks to issue or not issue marriage licenses to whomever they please.  And here is what some please.

The first among them, Lynn Ellins of Doña Ana County — where Governor Martinez began her political career — said he was tired of waiting when, on Aug. 21, he began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples from his office in Las Cruces, an increasingly liberal city in the largely conservative southern part of the state. Five other county clerks followed, though not until a court order gave them justification and permission, a move that also served to limit the legal options available to stop them.

Ok, so in New Mexico the politicians have to take a stand. 

Gov. Susana Martinez, a Republican, has kept a dispassionate distance, affirming her personal opposition tosame-sex marriage but saying the decision should be left to voters. In June, Gary King, the state’s attorney general and a Democrat, punted, telling reporters he was not going to take a public stance on the issue. More recently, he has said he would not challenge any county clerk who decided to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Or maybe they don’t.  Political cowardice no knows party boundaries.  In New Mexico conscience doth not make cowards of them all, fear of losing elections makes cowards of a bunch of them elected officials.

Boy That Bailout of the Auto Industry by Mr. Obama Just Didn’t Work at All

Or Did It?

Gee, remember all the Republican criticism of the auto industry bailout by the President.  Wonder how that turned out?  Obama the Socialist!!

The Wall Street JournalThe Wall Street Journal

Slim Pickings for Most Popular Cars

Auto Dealers Run Low on Some New Models Amid Booming U.S. Demand

Jason Henry for The Wall Street Journal
Taz Harvey, above, had only one Nissan Sentra at his Harvey Nissan in Dublin, Calif., on Friday. Strong demand and limited supplies of some vehicles have him and other dealers unable get enough models of new, hot selling cars.

Ford Motor Co.  launched U.S. production last week of the auto maker's hot-selling Fusion sedan at a factory in Michigan, a move that highlights a broader problem for auto makers: They are short of the cars U.S. consumers want to buy.
At Dublin Nissan in Dublin, Calif., owner Taz Harvey started August with just one Sentra on his lot. The car was redesigned for 2013 and with its improved fuel economy luring shoppers sales of the subcompact have soared.
"I sell five or six a month and normally have 15 to 20 in stock," Mr. Harvey lamented.
It is a similar story for Mike Rouen in Woodville, Ohio. His Chrysler Dodge Jeep store outside of Toledo has a half dozen Jeep Wranglers and about the same number of Grand Cherokees. "I can sell more than that in a month, and it's tough. We're having a hard time getting enough Jeeps," he said.
On Tuesday auto makers are expected to report U.S. car and light-truck sales rose about 14% in August, to more than 1.4 million vehicles, even as spot shortages dog Subaru, Ford and Honda Motor Co. 

Friday, September 20, 2013

Today in Cruelty – House Republicans Pass Draconian Cuts to Nutrition Assistance for Low Income People

Why – Because That’s What They Do

For those looking to find the worst in America the Republicans in the House of Representatives just made themselves the conspicuous target.  They passed a law that would sharply reduce funding for nutrition assistance and require those receiving assistance to face large new hurdles.

The bill would cut $40 billion from the food stamp program over the next 10 years. It would also require adults between 18 and 50 without minor children to find a job or to enroll in a work training program in order to receive benefits. It would also limit the time those recipients could get benefits to three months.

It’s hard to comprehend how these Conservatives can pass such a law and still refer to themselves as deeply religious.  Or as decent human beings.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, nearly four million people would be removed from the food stamp program under the House bill. A Census Bureau report released on Tuesday found that the food stamp program had kept about four million people above the poverty level and had prevented millions more from sinking further into poverty.

But these men and women are not decent, are not religious and embody all of the mean spirited characteristics of Dickensian villains of the 19th century.  One can imagine a House member going home to his or her family.

            Child:  Hi Daddy (or Mommy),   What did you do today

            Conservative Republican House Member:  I voted to pass a bill that would make millions go to bed hungry.

            Child:  Oh dear, does that include us?

            Conservative Republican House Member:  Oh no, I have a nice government job and I make hundred of thousands of dollars each year.  The people that will go hungry are poor, lazy men and women who just want a handout because they cannot find work.

            Child:  What are you going to do tomorrow?

            Conservative Republican House Member:  Well with hard work I may be able to deny those hungry people health care.

            Child:  Do we get health care?

            Conservative Republican House Member:  Oh yes, I have a nice government job and the government provides all of us with a fantastic health care insurance plan that costs us very little.  But there is a mean President who wants the government to help other families have health care, and that is just wrong.

            Child:  Why, it doesn’t sound wrong.

            Conservative Republican House Member:  Well it is, because we say it is.  Now go to bed before the mean Democrats come with their plans to have plenty of good nutrition and health care for everyone.  And don't worry, we're gong to stop that sort of nonsense.  

In New York City and Texas the Judicial System Shows Its Worst Side – Reinstating a Teacher Who Possessed Heroin and Overturning Conviction of Tom DeLay

It’s Supposed to Be a System of Justice and Protection

Most people agree that prisons are not the place for housing low level drug users.  But possession of heroin does not indicate a low level drug user.  So there is justifiable outrage when a New York City teacher was found to have 20 packets of heroin in his possession and had the charges dismissed after he had a one day drug rehab session.

Damian Esteban, who taught at the Williamsburg High School for Architecture and Design, was arrested in October 2012 when he reported for jury duty and a court officer found he was carrying 20 small bags of heroin inside a cigarette pack. The tenured teacher claimed he didn't know the heroin was in his backpack. He said he had successfully completed a drug rehabilitation program months earlier, and had picked up an old backpack on his way to court without knowing there were still drugs inside.

Sure, right.

But justice was done when an arbitrator upheld the firing of this person. 

The case made tabloid headlines and last May the city persuaded a hearing officer that Esteban should be terminated from his $66,000 a year job. Although criminal charges were dismissed, and Esteban completed a day of community service, the Department of Education claimed that his conduct and notoriety had seriously compromised his ability to do his job.

And justice is now terribly perverted as a judge has overruled the arbitrator (exactly how does an arbitration decision go to court?) and ordered the teacher reinstated.

But Esteban appealed to a state judge and won this week. State Supreme Court Justice Manuel Mendez said the teacher's dismissal was "excessive and shocking to this court's sense of fairness."

Mendez noted that there was no proof to justify the arbitrator's conclusions that the teacher's conduct would have affected his performance, or that his teaching would suffer from the negative publicity. Nor did he see any evidence that Esteban had ever brought drugs into the school building or posed a risk to students. He recommended suspension without pay.

How can a judge reach this conclusion?  How can a judge so callously disregard the welfare of young student?  How can any judge be so un-judicial?  How many people think it is correct for a person who possess heroin to be a teacher?   In what set of morality and ethics and concern for students does that exist?   The city will appeal and hopefully justice will be done.  Good grief!

In other judicial news an appeals court in Texas has over-turned the conviction of former Republican House member Tom DeLay.  The court found that the jury didn’t decide the way the appeals court judges felt they should have decided and so substituted their opinion for that of the jury.  Now appeals courts are and should be free to overturn a jury verdict when there is overwhelming indications that the jury acted incorrectly.  But the standard is very high.  In our system of justice the role of the jury is to determine if the defendant is guilty, and the jury sits through the trial in order to do so.  An appellate court has not sat through the trial and should only reverse the fact finding of the jury when it is absolutely clear that it is right to do so.

The background of the appellate judges is not known, but in Texas the government has long been controlled by conservative Republicans and it is difficult to imagine that the judges who voted to overturn Mr. DeLay’s conviction were no politically aligned with Mr. DeLay.(The Times reported that the 2 to 1 decision broke along party lines)   But for anyone who followed the DeLay case the objective conclusion is that Mr. DeLay did indeed violate the law.  But then he is a conservative, and in the minds of conservatives the law is just an inconvenience to be ignored in their rush to force their views on the rest of us.