Thursday, September 30, 2010

Democratic Enthusiasm Rises

Howdy Doody John BoehnerImage by uvw916a via Flickr
 Democratic strategists are -- quietly -- growing more optimistic about their chances in the fall election, pointing to improving poll numbers in individual House races as well as an uptick in enthusiasm.

When GOP House leaders introduced "A Pledge to America", John Boehner's remarks were telling.  He promised the same old policy positions, just a different day.  Hopefully that woke up the Democratic base.  Repeal healthcare, check on the President's birth certificate, reduce taxes for the rich which results in a $700 billion cost to the country's bottom line, keep Gitmo open and DADT in place...all the issues the 2008 election results called for changing.

Young folks, Latino and African Americans,  progressives and liberals...everyone better get out the vote in November if change from the Bush era policies is what you desire. Staying away from the voters booth in mid-term elections negates all the 2008 efforts to route the GOP.  If nothing else, the prospect of John Boehner as Speaker of the House, number three in the line of sucession to the Presidency, is enough to scare us all to death.

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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Republician Senator DeMint's Threat to Shutdown Government

Jim DeMintImage by Gage Skidmore via Flickr
Here's another tidbit from Ezra Klein's Washington Post blog Wonkbook:

(South Carolina Senator) Jim DeMint is blocking almost all legislation until the election, reports Manu Raju of Politico: "Bret Bernhardt, DeMint's chief of staff, said in an e-mail to GOP aides that his boss would place a hold on all legislation that has not been cleared by both parties by the end of the day Tuesday... With the Senate slated to adjourn Thursday until after the elections, DeMint's stance could mean trouble for Democrats if the two parties don't quickly agree on a stopgap spending measure to keep the government operating past Sept. 30. And that could mean the demise of a slew of other stalled and largely non-controversial bills that both parties are looking to clear before Election Day."
Did you ever think that one lone Senator could stop government in its tracks? Well, where were you when, for five days, retiring Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY) held his fellow Republicans hostage. He stood his ground, angry and alone, a one-man blockade against unemployment benefits, Medicare payments to doctors, satellite TV. He had forced about 2,000 federal employees into furloughs and imperiled jobless benefits for millions. Now it's Sen. DeMint's turn to play Emperor and end legislative activity.

Will fellow Republicans play partisian politics orchestrated by Chancellor DeMint?  Let's see how this one plays out.

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Judicial Vacancies Held Hostage

Official portrait of United States Attorney Ge...Image via Wikipedia

Here's a heads up I read in Ezra Klein's Washington Post blog Wonkbook:
Our courts are suffering from a confirmation crisis, writes Eric Holder: "Today there are 103 judicial vacancies -- nearly one in eight seats on the bench...The problem is about to get worse. Because of projected retirements and other demographic changes, the number of annual new vacancies in the next decade will be 33 percent greater than in the past three decades. If the historic pace of Senate confirmations continues, one third of the federal judiciary will be vacant by 2020. If we stay on the pace that the Senate has set in the past two years -- the slowest pace of confirmations in history -- fully half the federal judiciary will be vacant by 2020.
I went to the source of Holder's complaint, his article in the Washington Post. Partisian politics once again.  Read more details in the articles listed below.
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Saturday, September 25, 2010

Health Care Battle Rages On

May_30_Health_Care_Rally_NP (585)Image by seiuhealthcare775nw via Flickr

President Barack Obama's health care overhaul has divided the nation, and Republicans believe their call for repeal will help them win elections in November. But the picture's not that clear cut. A new AP poll finds that Americans who think the law should have done more outnumber those who think the government should stay out of health care by 2-to-1.

It'll be interesting to see if people buy into the House Leadership's "Pledge to America" and support efforts to repeal Obama's healthcare gains.  The GOP doesn't want to fix or change our healthcare program to make it stronger and better. Rather, Republicans wants to return to the status quo of yesteryear when insurance companies and drug manufacturers help the American people hostage.

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Christine O'Donnell-The Emerging Right Wing

Christine O'Donnell is a perfect example of the emerging right wing candidate. She's practically a Sarah Palin clone, one of the "mama grizzlies". She's youthful, perky, smart-mouthed and wacky. In addition, she brings some strange bags to the table. See the related articles below to get a feel for the Republican Senatorial Candidate from Deleware. (Folks better get out and vote for Democrats.)

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First Lady's Stunning Attire

Check out our First Lady's stunning attire at the White House State Dinner welcoming Mexican President Felipe Calderone and his wife Margarita Zavala.  I could not be more proud of her. Some haters said her "arms were fat" (ha ha ha) and some said "her chest was swishing out".  Of course everything the Obama's do is a subject for criticism.  Michelle Obama has the right idea...hold your head up high and do your thing.  Love her to death!

First Lady Michelle Obama continued her movie star glam style streak at the annual Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Phoenix Awards dinner, stunning in a red gown. See the related articles for additional photos of her unique fashion statements.

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

GOP's "A Pledge to America"

Election Day is on the way in about 5 weeks, so House Republicans rolled out their propaganda piece, "A Pledge to America". Some had the nerve to call it a "policy blueprint" suppossedly outlining what to expect if the GOP gains majority control of Congress.

To show you how phony this whole act is, GOP Leaders John Boehner of Ohio, Eric Cantor of Virginia, and Kevin McCarthy took their photo op in a lumber store in shirt sleeves to show their identification "with middle America" and "their intent to get down to work". When I read those statements, I wondered what took them so long and why they hadn't rolled up their shirt sleeves until now. Of course, they "pledged to take our country back". whatever that means.

As expected, I saw little substance, just a bunch of well worn platitudes. The document "pledges" to freeze federal spending at the same time the GOP is supporting continuation of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. Also, the plan calls for the repeal of President Obama's health care plan. Nothing new, just the same old same old agenda. The pledge uses the same scare tactics, i.e. vowing to keep Guantanamo Bay open to "prevent the government from importing terrorist onto American soil". I noted that there's no mention of some of the positions supported by GOP Candidates about ending Social Security.

Read the document and let me know if I missed something. In my opinion, it was the same old crap the nation was subjected to under George Bush; it was just a different day.  It should be enough to make folks get out and vote for Democrats.

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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Noted Civil Rights Photographer Was FBI Informant

After a two-year investigation, the Commercial Appeal, a newspaper in Memphis, reveals that photographer Ernest Withers spied on the civil rights movement for the FBI.The Memphis paper reports how Withers' spying assisted J. Edgar Hoover, the controversial FBI director who long covertly monitored King and others considered radicals. Withers, the paper notes, gave the bureau a "front-row seat to the civil rights and anti-war movements in Memphis." In the 1960s, he provided information on everyone from the Invaders — a militant black power group — to church leaders, politicians and business owners. Experts believe the FBI paid Withers for spying.

Wash. D. C. Education Reform on Chopping Block

Adrian Fenty and Michelle Rhee

Washington D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty lost his bid for reelection to D.C. Council Chairman Vincent Gray. Now his ambitious education-reform plan—and the job of its leader, Michelle Rhee—is all but over. How'd he blow it? Staffers for the once-popular Fenty warned him early this summer that he could lose. Focus groups said Fenty was oblivious to the needs of city residents, and his style was off-putting. They wanted him to apologize. So Fenty's chief political strategist, Tom Lindenfeld, drafted a one-page mea culpa to be sent to thousands of D.C. voters, along with a promise to do better. But Fenty threw it away, saying he was proud of his record. The mayor was sure his overhaul of the school system, new police chief, and added soccer fields were enough to keep constituents loyal. Fenty, a strong believer in the infallibility of his own gut instinct, ignored warnings from aides and friends, and The Washington Post chronicles how the campaign slowly fell apart.

Washington Post columnist Dana Goldstein writes that Adrian Fenty's defeat puts Washington, D.C.'s aggressive school reform efforts, spearheaded by schools chancellor Michelle Rhee, on the chopping block—and is a lesson for the president from voters.

Fenty's Loss is another political lesson with consequences for his political party and education reform efforts. It's well worth reading on both counts.

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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Gingrich View: Understanding President Obama

WASHINGTON - AUGUST 13:  Former Republican Spe...Image by Getty Images via @daylife

Newt Gingrich keeps his name in the public view by whatever means is necessary.  Most recently, in an interview with the conservative website National Review Online, he adds his view on how to understand our President.

Gingrich said the following: "What if [Obama] is so outside our comprehension, that only if you understand Kenyan, anti-colonial behavior, can you begin to piece together [his actions]?" According to Newt, this is "the most accurate, predictive model" for the president's actions, or policies or something.

According to Eugene Robinson, Washinton Post, Gingrich was speaking in praise of a big gob of gibberish in Forbes by conservative "intellectual" Dinesh D'Souza. In the piece -- much of it strikingly lazy -- D'Souza argues that Obama somehow absorbed a fully elaborated, frozen-in-time, anti-colonial worldview from his Kenyan father. Who left the family when the future president was 2.

This is just the latest ff the wall offering from Gingrich.Last year during the confirmation hearings for Justice Sonia Sotomayor, when he used her "wise Latina" remark to prove she was a "racist." He made the same lightning-quick allegation of racism against Shirley Sherrod.Gingrich's stupidity reached a new high, or a new low, last month when he accused supporters of the Lower Manhattan mosque of "triumphalism" and compared them to the Nazis.

How do people forget Gingrich's history? In 1997,the House voted 395 to 28 to reprimand Gingrich for ethics violations dating back to September 1994. The House ordered Gingrich to pay a $300,000 penalty, the first time in the House's 208-year history it had disciplined a Speaker for ethical wrongdoing. Gingrich denied the charges over misuse of tax-exempt funds; however, he admitted to providing inaccurate statements during the probe over the college course and agreed to pay $300,000 for the cost of the investigation. The House Ethics Committee concluded that inaccurate information supplied to investigators represented "intentional or ... reckless" disregard of House rules.

What we ought to be doing is understanding Newt Gingrich.  You don't need to find a reason or rationale for Gingrich's crazy views and provocative comments.  It's simple. He just wants to stay in the spotlight, sell copies of his books and get more gigs on television and radio making comments on whatever.  He's another "celebrity" trading his comments for a few more dollars and fifteen more minutes of fame.

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Saturday, September 4, 2010

Jan Brewer Stumbles

Terry Goddard (D) and Jan Brewer (R)

It was commonly agreed that Jan Brewer was unlikely to win the coming race for Governor in Arizona.  She replaced Janet Napolitano who went to Washington as Obama's head of Homeland Security.

When Brewer signed the Az proposed immigration law, she gained national attention and her political fortunes changed.  Her verbal sparing with President Obama and others who spoke against the proposed law made Brewer more popular at home and enhanced her chances for election in the fall.

In a recent debate with Democratic challenger, Arizona's state attorney general Terry Goddard, Brewer suffered two blows to her efforts to retain her seat. The first blow occurred during the debate itself, while she was making her opening statement and was attempting to list her accomplishments. That should have been the easiest part of the debate. But no."It will go down as one of the most painful openings to a political debate in recent memory," noted NPR. However, Peter Grier, the vote blog, Christian Science Monitor, says "debate gaffes aren’t fatal" as he relates other debate gaffes in history.

The second blow came after the debate when she was confronted by reporters asking about her previous claim that decapitated bodies of illegal immigrants had been found in the Arizona desert – although there is no evidence to support Brewer's claim. Goddard had challenged Brewer to recant her statement on the beheadings during the debate. But Brewer enjoys a huge opinion poll lead and her twin meltdowns seem unlikely to make enough of a dent.

After running from the press on several occassions, Brewer finally recanted her statement on the beheadings saying she "misspoke".

I guess gaffes only matter if your name is Barack Hussein Obama.
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Thursday, September 2, 2010

Rick Scott Win GOP Primary

Generic image of rick scottImage via Wikipedia

As Naples millionaire Rick Scott accepted Florida’s Republican nomination for governor late Tuesday night, GOP insiders felt tension and discord. Behind the scenes, GOP activists were pressing for Scott to put controversy over his business history to rest.

Opponent Bill McCollum, for instance, had yet to call or endorse Scott, referring to him in a post-midnight concession statement as "a multimillionaire with a questionable past" and deploring the "negative tone" of the race. Now, Scott will have to ease lingering concerns about his past and pivot from his record-breaking self funded $50 million primary campaign to a credible general-election strategy.

The Daily Kos clearly echoed my sentiments.
This is one primary I just don't get. How in the world does a party nominate someone who was CEO of a company that was forced to pay a $1.7 billion fine due to Medicare fraud committed under his watch? How could you possibly trust to run your state government with the knowledge that he's already presided over a massive fraud scheme? On what page of the teabagger's manual does it say "Reward Corruption"?

The beauty of a democracy is that the voters get what they ask for.  Wonder if Florida voters will ask for the likes of Rick Scott.

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Fact or Fiction: Gov't Collecting BMI Data

GOP Candidate Ann Buerkle

"The Obama Health and Human Services Department is planning to compile a federal health record on all U.S. citizens by 2014," including "each individual’s Body Mass Index."

GOP Candidate Ann Marie Buerkle on Tuesday, August 10th, 2010 in a page on her campaign website

Fact or Fiction:  False Information
It sounds like a claim from a chain e-mail, but it's posted on the website of a Republican candidate for Congress.

Buerkle -- who describes herself on her campaign website as a "nurse and accomplished attorney working in health care," added, "I believe this is an unacceptable intrusion by government into the private lives of Americans. It is costly, and susceptible to abuse. As the financial burden and unbearable strain of Obamacare has started to take its toll on healthcare costs, such information like BMI can eventually be used to help government bureaucrats to ration health care. Even if that’s not the case, I’m opposed to the expansion of federal bureaucracies, out-of-control spending, tax increases, and increasing dependency on government."

Computerizing medical records has long been a goal of policymakers across the ideological spectrum. The idea is to shift from paper-based records to electronic ones, so that doctors can access information about patients more quickly and easily and make better clinical decisions as a result. Supporters hope that electronic medical records will reduce the frequency of medical errors, unnecessary diagnostic tests and inappropriate treatments. They also hope that, in the long term, streamlining record-keeping could bring down the rapidly escalating cost of health care.

Why isn't Buerkle right? Because providers will be reporting information on patients' vital statistics only in aggregate, not with any personal identification attached. So while the federal government will have a new, large data set on Americans' weight, it will not know who weighs how much.


Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Scandal

Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson

Members of the Black Caucus are given $10,000 every year to award scholarships. They must follow certain rules in awarding the privately raised money, including a requirement that winners live or study in the lawmaker's district. Any funds awarded in violation of the rules must be returned.

Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) has admitted that she "unknowingly" broke Congressional Black Caucus Foundation rules by awarding scholarship money to four relatives and the two children of a top aide.

Of the 43 scholarships her office awarded, The Dallas Morning News determined that 15 went to relatives of Johnson or Rod Givens, her district director.

Rep. Johnson has stated that she will repay the funds in question.

Johnson, 74, is expected to easily win a tenth term in November over Republican Stephen Broden. It is unclear whether she has violated any Congressional rules or Ethics.

Source: Dallas Morning News

Religion and Glenn Beck

Glenn Beck's "Restoring Honor" Rally, Washington D. C.
In public appearances and on his Fox News show, Glenn Beck has made religion a central part of his message, although he rarely refers to his Mormon faith. I guess he's too busy talking about our president's faith and providing the world with his own explanations about the president's beliefs.

Salt Lake City lawyer and member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Stephen Owens didn't follow his in-laws to Glenn Beck's Washington rally. When he read that fellow Mormon Beck publicly questioned President Obama's "version of Christianity" the day after the rally, he was so angry that he wrote a letter to the local newspaper.

"I think it's arrogant of anyone to say whether someone is a Christian or not," said Owens, a 42-year-old Democrat. "My view of that is, if someone says, 'I follow the teachings of Jesus Christ,' then they're Christian, and who am I to say, 'No, you're not,' let alone [to] the president of our country? I was offended at that."
Michael Otterson, managing director of public affairs for the church, said that opinion of Beck is just as divided among Mormons as it is elsewhere. While Mormons consider themselves Christians, key tenets of the Mormon Church are disputed by mainstream Christian denominations - a disparity that critics say adds to the irony of Beck questioning another person's Christian faith.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

State of Alaska Enjoys Mega Stimulus Dollars

How often have you heard Republicans talk about then evils of the government's stimulus program?  Many profess that they will roll back "this entire socialistic experiment". Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and state lawmaker Carl Gatto of Alaska are prime examples. Governor Jindal didn't miss the photo opportunity when his state received massive stimulus dollars from the federal government. Here are Gatto's own words about the stimulus money Alaska receives:
"I'll give the federal governmnet credit: They sure give us a ton of money.  For every $1 dollar we give them in taxes for highways, they give us back $5.76." 
I'm sure you've heard the anti- stimulus rhetoric from former AKGovernor Sarah Palin, but did you know that, as reported by Michael Powell, New York Times News Service, "despite mistrust, Alaska feasts on stimulus dollars".  Unemployment in Ak is 7.9%, just 2 percentage points below the national rate, they received $3145 per capita in federal stimulus dollars as of May 2010, the most in the nation.  Nevada, my home state, is running 14% unemployment, but only received $1034 per capita in recovery aid.

It must be nice to be anti-big government and decry the intrusion of government while pocketing loads of federal money.  The federal government spending drove the state's growth over the past 15 years. Former Senator Ted Stevens(R-AK) was Chief of the Senate Appropriations Committee for several years and while in the Senate, he feed AK appetite for federal dollars.  In 1996, federal spending in AK was 38% above the national average.

Alaska is also dependent on the oil companies, drilling and mining, in addition to handouts from "big government". The state makes so much money from oil companies that it sends every man, woman, and child a dividend check each autumn.  This year's dividend was $1300 for everyone. State residents do not pay sales tax or state income tax.

Oil production is slowing down and non-stimulus federal dollars have slowed, too. It will be interesting to see incoming legislators live up to their campaign promises and refuse federal dollars. Wonder if they'll just talk a good game as everyone's done in the past and take the money and run.