Saturday, April 19, 2014

Choice: Koch 1st National, or Last Chance Democracy


         Have a Great Campaign
                  (Not Quid Pro Quo, Wink/Wink)            

Great 2014 Slogan


Reminder as we follow the most-recent 5-4 USSC ruling (McCutcheon v. FEC). This headlines: "Koch-backed political coalition, designed to shield donors, raised $400 million in 2012."

So, if money is speech and and there basically is no limit, per se, then how come all this secrecy about who is giving the tons of money. Are they afraid to let the public know about their speech. Silence is not golden this such cases, is it?

Original post begins here withe the basic story story — the highlights:

BEFORE McCutheon ruling (RED: kinda stopped the big money). AFTER (GREEN: Road to Hell):


Then add these key points, posted here for Chief Justice Roberts' eyes only and another look. Detailed five ways Koch Industries benefits from policies it lobbied for: So, question for the Chief Justice: If that still is not quid pro quo, then, sir, what is quip pro quo?

  1. Billions of dollars in oil subsidies.
  2. At least $85 million in federal government contracts.
  3. Asked for bailouts.
  4. On behalf of the Keystone XL pipeline, they stand to benefit from (more) taxpayer subsidies.
  5. Koch Industries contributed millions of dollars to advance anti-environment legislation, and they have been accused of outright bribery. 
Well, shucks, damn. Shut ma' mouth. Cut off my legs and call me Shorty, or any other cliché.

Who would have ever thought that big money from the Koch's would never seek a congressional favor, directly or otherwise? Just good access, right, Mr. Chief Justice?

Friday, April 18, 2014

Voter Suppression Still Spreading: More Bad News

               LBJ Signs 1965 Voting Rights Act                            Grand Father Shows Grand                                                                                                    Daughter How to Vote

Around the Corner: Uncertainty

Updated Voter Suppression Movement Map


Update (April 18, 2014): Recent quote from President Obama in a speech:

“Americans did not stand up and did not march and did not sacrifice to gain the right to vote, for themselves and for others, only to see it denied to their kids and their grandkids.”

Background from this Update: Last year alone (2013), at least 93 restrictive voting bills were introduced in 33 states, according to a Brennan Center for Justice at NYU, which builds on an earlier wave of voter suppression laws advanced in 2011 and 2012.

The vast majority of these harsh measure were pushed by Republicans bent on making voting harder, not easier, and many of roadblocks disproportionately affect minority, low-income, seniors, and students away from home.

The most restrictive are like Texas’s voter ID law and North Carolina’s sweeping voting law. However, they are being challenged in court. But that process may not move fast enough for Democrats (where most of the voters impacted normally vote), as they prepare for several critical midterm races that could determine control of the Senate for the rest of Mr. Obama’s presidency.

Two Segments in this prior update:

First Segment from Politics Nation 



Second Segment from HARDBALL 



Major update and review of this topic as well as this introduction from the article:

One of the enduring mysteries of Chief Justice John Roberts’s opinion striking down part of the Voting Rights Act is which part of the Constitution the landmark civil rights law actually violated. The Chief Justice argued that the Voting Rights Act violated the “tradition of equal sovereignty” of the states.

That concept is far more dubious than it might seem at first glance, according to a legal paper published by two longtime voting rights experts: one from UC Davis (CA) and one from the Loyola Law School (Los Angeles). They say in part: (my emphasis):

"Equal sovereignty was the basis of the longstanding argument, going all the way back to the founding of the United States, between the slave states and the free states. The slave states claimed that they were equally sovereign with the other states to decide whether to have slavery or not to have slavery. The equal sovereignty doctrine that Chief Justice Roberts relied on last year is rooted in the jurisprudence of slavery."

With that in mind, ask yourself: Do you believe that there is not need to protect minority rights in voting? Do you believe that the voter ID laws in some 20 states (many have been over turned) are fair and do not hamper the right to vote? Do you believe as I do that nothing should interfere with our right to vote as long as we are eligible, qualified, and registered to vote, and that the right to vote should be easy, open, and free in order for us to choose the kind of government we want and not the kind someone tells us is the kind they want us to have. Voting is the most-fundamental of our rights – it speaks to the kind of government we want that will set the rules we all must live under. That must not be suppressed or infringed on in any way.

Please continue from here and thanks for stopping by.
  
Review of this subject posted July 19, 2013 follows here: A good look back in history here. The highlights: “Section 2 is a ripe target,” stated Christopher Elmendorf, a law professor at the University of California Davis. His point was dealing with a forthcoming USSC hearing on the ACA, with this concern expressed by many:

If the Roberts court were to strike down or substantially weaken Section 2, then the Voting Rights Act (VRA) would technically still exist and would retain a few historically important functions  like the ban on poll taxes and literacy tests, for instance. But, on top of the demise of Section 5, the most successful civil rights law in the nation’s history would be all but a dead letter.  “There’s no question that Section 2 and 5 together are really the heart of the law,” said Justin Levitt, a professor at Loyola Law School.

What would a suspected 5-4 Roberts court do? Naturally no one knows for sure in advance, but not for their lack of trying and that is based on the recent 5-4 ruling that triggered me to start this tracking the subject on this Blog. A very good analysis of where we are and how we got here is in order.

From the same author is seen here, and the most-important aspect is this: Less than one year after Sections 4 and 5 of the Voting Rights Act stymied voter suppression efforts in the 2012 election in Florida,  Texas and South Carolina, Chief Justice John Roberts in his opinion in Shelby County v. Holder (above link) heralded that the “reat strides the nation has made in combating such suppression and the fact that blatantly discriminatory evasions of federal decrees are rare.” But, not so rare. Even before the sun set that day, June 25th, officials in Texas and North Carolina had moved forward with restrictive voting measures that had been blocked by the federal law.
 
Quite frankly Andrew Cohen's two pieces are excellent sources on the topic for anyone interested in this subject, and also as frank: we should all be interested and greatly concerned. To suppress the vote, or employ anything makes voting more difficult or registration more of a burden is in a word: un-American. It is the greatest single most-important right we have: the right to vote easily and choose the kind of government we want. Apparently, 5-4 decisions like this one take away from that premise, at least in my view.

That June 25, 2013 Supreme Court (5-4) decision to roll back an important and critical part of the law, cited here in part that was overturned is reported on by NBC News and from USA TODAY this way:

The Voting Rights Act requires nine states with a history of discrimination at the polls, mostly in the South, to get approval from the Justice Department or a special panel of judges before they change their voting laws. The rule also applies to 12 cities and 57 counties elsewhere.  The law was renewed most recently in 2006, but the coverage map still uses election data from 1972 to determine who is covered. Some jurisdictions, including a county in Alabama brought the case, complained that they were being punished for the sins of many decades ago. 

Chief Justice Roberts cited census data showing that black voter turnout now exceeds white turnout in five of the six states originally covered by the law and he wrote in part: “Our country has changed, and while any racial discrimination in voting is too much, Congress must ensure that the legislation it passes to remedy that problem speaks to current conditions.”

Another excellent source for information on voting and voters rights is the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU. Their statement on that 5-4 ruling follows (the emphasis is mine): 

The Brennan Center for Justice released the following statement:  “The Supreme Court’s decision is at odds with recent history. The Voting Rights Act was vital in 2012, not just 1965. For nearly five decades, it has been the nation’s most effective tool to eradicate racial discrimination in voting. And it is still critical today. Last year, Section 5 helped block laws making it harder to vote. There is a path forward. Section 5 stands. Congress now has the duty to upgrade this key protection and ensure our elections remain free, fair, and accessible for all Americans.”

I hope we all can agree on this part of statement: “... to ensure our elections remain free, fair, and accessible for all Americans.” I strongly believe nothing should ever hamper that right. 

What or how will Congress update the law quickly as to not cause any disruption for the 2014 midterms and beyond? That is questionable considering the stalemate and gridlock attitude down in DC with this harm-everything and be anti-everything Congress.

I draw their attention to this quote from Chief Justice Earl Warren in the Reynolds v. Sims (1964) case: “Legislators represent people, not trees or acres. Legislators are elected by voters, not farms or cities or economic interests.” That still has strong merit today and unless people can freely, openly, and not hampered in that vote then nothing will have changed for the good and the ugliness of all those past decades and the "good old days (that some still want)" will stick up that ugly head and we will be no better than a third rate nation moving backwards.

Finally, I wonder if any member of the GOP side of Congress or at the state levels knows what it means for all the grand daughters and grand sons in the future not to have the right to vote freely and openly. What is means to the future of our country for everyone? That is the question.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Life, Liberty, Happiness, Job, Family, Home, Security

GOOD  CYCLE
[Click to Enlarge]
NOT SO-HOT CYCLE
[Click to Enlarge]

Here ya' go Mr. and Mrs. T.O.P. Crust
(/s/ your Congress)

HOT and Immediate Update that blends right into subject discussed in the following post. This story comes from here, that if you can read and stomach it without puking: It's about "The Tax Extenders" they're bacccccccccck.

A bill is all neatly wrapped and packaged and about to be handed over to Mr. and Mrs. T. O. P. Crust.

I guess we can call it more of the same: “Corporate SNAP Program.”  Bennies for the rich without the EBT card. Here are a few specifics from the bill now in the Senate:

1.  $71 million tax break to help NASCAR track-builders.

2.  $336 million excise tax on rum imported to the U.S. from Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands that goes back help their rum industries.

3.  $27 million film production credit for movie studios that make their films in the U.S.

4.  $10.4 billion to continue what’s known as the active financing exemption, which lets Wall Street firms and multinationals defer taxes on financial activities conducted overseas.

5.  $6.5 billion, that I call the “THE BIGGIE:” A huge gift to individuals as a deduction for state and local sales taxes that will disproportionately benefit the high-income taxpayers.
Mr. and Mrs. T.O.P. Crust probably will be insulted at my label as they prefer to call this: "Getting back what the “Takers” took from us “Givers” – that seems fair, right? 

The Original Post Starts Here: This post is based on the two charts I picked from the movie (shown above). The film was: “Inequality for All” (out in September 2013). The topic is presented by and stars former Clinton administration Labor Secretary Robert Reich. It can be viewed on Netflix with an account, or for a small fee from iTunes, Amazon.com, Google Play, or Vudu.com. I believe it still can be seen here free  – a pretty good site:

Here is how the film is described at one site: 

“A passionate argument on behalf of the middle class, this film features Robert Reich, professor, best-selling author, and former Clinton cabinet member as he demonstrates how the widening income gap has a devastating impact on the American economy. The film is an intimate portrait of a man who's overcome a great deal of personal adversity and whose lifelong goal remains protecting those who are unable to protect themselves. Through his singular perspective, Reich explains how the massive consolidation of wealth by a precious few threatens the viability of the American workforce and the foundation of democracy itself. In this inconvenient truth for the economy, Reich uses humor and a wide array of facts to explain how the issue of economic inequality affects each and every one of us.”

What I gleaned from the two charts:

The Positive Economic Cycle (Top Chart). It works for everyone from top to bottom:

1.  Government invests in Higher Education, Job Training, Vo-Tech Training, and Retraining.
2.  Workers Become Better Educated Prepared to Compete in Worldwide Economy.
3.  The Economy Expands.
4.  Productivity Grows.
5.  Wages Increase.
6.  Workers Earn and Spend More.
7.  Companies Hire More and Businesses Expand.
8.  Tax Revenues Increase.
9.  Government Reinvests and the Cycle Continues

The Negative Economic Cycle (Bottom Chart). It impacts and hurts the needy and leaves many behind:

1.  Wages Stagnate.
2.  Workers Earn Less.
3.  Companies Layoff or Downsize or Move Jobs Off-shore (lower wage workers).
4.  Tax Revenues Decrease.
5.  Government Cut Programs (i.e., Food Stamps, WIC, Vets, Public Health Care, Public Education to stop spending, financial obligations still remain).
6.  Workers Spend Less.
7.  Unemployment Rises.
8.  Deficit Grows (borrowing needed to meet obligations, vital programs).
9.  Government Slows Down, People Suffer, Recession, or Worse.

Politics sets in and both sides (left and right) draw battle lines and offer solutions when the problem we face, income inequality, seldom if ever gets solved and has not since the 1970 according the facts and figures presented in the documentary.

The GOP-Ryan budget now before the Congress is not the solution. It is a rehash of the past and does not solve problems for the future, and in some cases, makes problems worse. 

Let’s face it: people want a good education, a good job, stability, security, a happy life with a nice home to raise their family, try and stay healthy, and look forward to a nice enjoyable retirement at the end of their working days. That is human nature. That is the American Dream. 

Politics aside: That is what we all strive for as we make things better for those who follow, just like those before us left for us to build on. That is the positive American cycle.

So, I encourage everyone to watch this absolutely excellent presentation by Mr. Reich – it is awesome in its presentation, context, scope, and his inspirational message. Sadly, some will write even before watching as soon as they see his name attached to it. However, 90 minutes of anyone’s time is worth it. Then they can decide. 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

RNC Chair Reince "Not Toyota Carwash" Priebus: STFU

GOP: One Note Johnnies - No Limits on Money

Ready for Next RNC Confab: Don't Come Empty Handed. It's Just Good Access

This piece is from Think Progress.org: With the 2010 decision in Citizens United v. FEC, the Supreme Court unleashed a flood of money from wealthy donors into American elections, and 2012 proved that point, implying the money is okay “…so long as it given to independent groups such as super PACS. At least that is what the five conservative justices claimed in that ruling adding: “… it does not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption.”

Since that decision, “outside spending in federal elections has increased markedly — as much as 245% in presidential elections, 662% in House elections, and 1,338% in Senate elections”

FYI: more than 70 percent of the outside spending in the 2012 cycle alone came from conservative groups.

In that interview, Priebus told Hewitt that we should not “have caps at all” — and id Sheldon Adelson (who gave $93 million in 2012) wants to write a single $100 million check to the RNC, then he should have the right to do so.

Money does not always win, we all know that, but big money keeps out smaller people who cant raise that kind of money or dont have Adelson-type Fat Cats in the wings. More importantly, it kills representative democracy and contrary to what the Chief Justice says, I strongly believe, it is not speech and certainly not for “good access” either. Giving a $100 million dollars and believing that nothing in return is expected is both naïve and narrow-minded. If money is speech then the handful of billionaires we saw in 2012 must surely own every dictionary in town???

The problem, however is: How to prove quid pro quo. 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

* BOHICA: Open Wide Say Ah, or Oh Crap, Another 5-4

Citizens United v. FEC (2010)
(It just got bigger and wider)


Drawing from SCOTUSblog.com
(Another 5-4 oh shït moment in American history)


* BOHICA – “Bend Over Here It Comes Again” (old military slang word meaning to get shafted again).

Updated (April 3, 2014) from Politico here. I call this the most pathetic and büllshït excuse for common sense and decency that I have ever heard re: this ruling that now floats to the top as a big Fat Cat worry:

Call it the "Woe is me headline:"  Big donors fear shakedown after decision

I'll See Your Million and Raise You Two

The story: The biggest Washington donors used to have a great excuse to keep their wallets closed when fundraisers came knocking: "Sorry, I’m maxed out." 

But this latest Supreme Court ruling swiped that line away from them. The 5-4 ruling tossed out the rule that limited how much an individual can give to candidates, party committees and PAC's. Now, fundraisers hope donors, many of them lobbyists, will embrace this new legal right with gusto and give more across the board to candidates and party committees (and lest we forget: all those incumbent "Leadership PAC's" - note: 2/3 of all House members have a "leadership" PAC - which I think should be called a slush fund).

Those 'po whittle worry warts. Don't you just feel sorry for them. I guess they never used the word "No." Just too darn impolite, I suppose.

Original Post Starts Here:

Flashback (January 21, 2010):  Another day that will live in infamy.

Holding: Political spending is a form of protected speech under the First Amendment, and the government may not keep corporations or unions from spending money to support or denounce individual candidates in elections. While corporations or unions may not give money directly to campaigns, they may seek to persuade the voting public through other means, including ads, especially where these ads were not broadcast.

Justice John Paul Stevens was so outraged by the decision that he read his 90-page dissent from the bench in the Supreme Court chamber, an almost unheard-of act of protest. His summary is worth recalling:

This ruling threatens to undermine the integrity of elected institutions across the Nation. The path the Court has taken to reach its outcome will, I fear, do damage to this institution.”

And, now today, here we go again (from SCOTUS Blog) — I call it "pleasing the rich (the top rung) while suppressing the rest of us."


Highlights: The main opinion delivered by Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., said confidently that corruption in politics will be kept in check by caps — left intact — on how much each single donation can be.  Removing the ceilings on the total amounts that may be given in each election cycle will not undermine those limits, Roberts predicted.

The decision was not as sweeping as the Court’s ruling four years ago, removing all restrictions on what corporations and labor unions can spend of their own money in federal campaigns (that Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission), which has led to billions of dollars spent on politics through financing that is supposed to be independent of candidates or parties.  The new ruling leaves that option open if a donor does not want to directly support a candidate or a party committee and stay within the per-donation caps.

Even so, the practical result of the new ruling is almost sure to be that wealthy individuals favoring specific candidates or party positions will be able to spread their money around among more candidates and political groups.

Donors will get into legal trouble, the ruling emphasized, only if they demand a specific favor in policy or legislation in a direct exchange for the money they give.  That is the only kind of corruption that the First Amendment will allow the government to attack, the decision stressed.

The Chief Justice’s opinion said that other recent changes in campaign finance law will work to reduce the risks of abuse, and it offered several other ideas for new limits that it implied might be constitutional. Whether the votes are there in Congress to pass any of those suggestions is problematic.

Media reporting:  

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court struck down limits Wednesday in federal law on the overall campaign contributions the biggest individual donors may make to candidates, political parties and political action committees.

The Justices said in a 5-4 vote that Americans have a right to give the legal maximum to candidates for Congress and president, as well as to parties and PACs, without worrying that they will violate the law when they bump up against a limit on all contributions, set at $123,200 for 2013 and 2014. That includes a separate $48,600 cap on contributions to candidates. 


But their decision does not undermine limits on individual contributions to candidates for president or Congress, now $2,600 an election. 


Chief Justice John Roberts announced the decision, which split the court's liberal and conservative justices. Roberts said the aggregate limits do not act to prevent corruption, the rationale the court has upheld as justifying contribution limits. 


The overall limits “intrude without justification on a citizen's ability to exercise 'the most fundamental First Amendment’ activities,” Roberts said, quoting from the court's seminal 1976 campaign finance ruling in Buckley v. Valeo (from Cornell law). 


A man who usually is quiet, Justice Clarence Thomas, greed with the outcome of the case, but wrote separately to say that he would have gone further and wiped away all contribution limits. (My Note: That kind of thought is totally insane). 


Summary: So, the bottom line is by a 5-4 margin: Money is speech ... thus, I surmise that based on that, that a handful of billionaires (less than 200 people fully funded the 2012 cycle BTW) are now allowed to own, possess, and control every word, book, dictionary and Ad on the planet since they are the only ones with the means to buy voice? After all, money is speech, right? So, they own all the speech? I see, I see. Still a very, very sad day for the country, indeed.


So, why bother to even vote: Just let the big bucks buy their favorite candidate, pour millions into nasty Ads, smear everyone they hate, appeal to the base that loves the money input (just as long as they don't have to donate a dime), keep the base in tow and make sure they turn out to vote, and bingo: to Hell with the rest of the country, we got what we wanted. Now they have the majority in their pocket (in DC), so bye, bye democracy and representative government and hello Mr. and Mrs. Billionaire. It's been one helluva ride that now ends with a 5-4 vote. Great!!!


The Original Posting: 


Reversed, in that 5-4 ruling: An opinion by Justice Anthony Kennedy on January 21, 2010 in a 5-4 decision with an opinion written by Justice Kennedy. Justice Stevens dissented, joined by Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, and Sotomayor. Corporate growth and influence since, including power of a handful of billionaires can be seen here (Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) report) (.pdf total 3 pages). 

Corporations continue to grow as seen herepay little in their share, and now they are perhaps about to gain the ultimate prize:  Control of our entire lives with a new forthcoming USSC ruling (Hobby-Lobby and the Birth Control mandate case ).

A reason to reflect: Think back four years ago to the case that expanded the rights and privileges of corporations as “persons” just like you and me.

That was the 5-4 ruling in Citizens United that said business corporations were entitled to the same First Amendment speech protections as private citizens and other associations when they spend money (called “independent expenditures”) to influence elections. 

Recall too that previously, the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law barred business corporations and labor unions from engaging in that kind of spending during the last weeks before an election.

The court tossed out those restrictions. Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote, “independent expenditures, including those made by corporations, do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption.”  The reaction from critics was WTF (or words to that effect).

And, let's not forget the current "Man behind the White House cash Hunting Party..." 

Sheldon Adelson - billionaire who spent $93 million in 2012 - his candidates lost - so what
(tax write off anyone?)

More here about Adelson ... and the brass ring kissers (next photo) - my take at least:


Kiss the ring, get his talking points for 2016 platform
(hope to win the GOP nod) 

Neat segment here:




More at my voter suppression library files below — FYI. Enjoy the research on these topics. Thanks for stopping by.
  1. http://www.danzview.blogspot.com/2014/03/voters-react-and-lash-out-at-voter.html
  2. http://www.danzview.blogspot.com/2014/03/citizens-united-iii-mccutcheon-v-fec.html
  3. http://www.danzview.blogspot.com/2014/03/memo-to-gop-voters-will-win-you-will.html
  4. http://www.danzview.blogspot.com/2014/02/suppress-vote-with-harsh-id-laws-to-win.html
  5. http://www.danzview.blogspot.com/2014/01/gop-voter-suppression-movement-oozes.html
  6. http://www.danzview.blogspot.com/2013/12/nc-leads-on-voter-rights-leads-straight.html
  7. http://www.danzview.blogspot.com/2013/11/infamous-gop-wars-really-honest-cross.html
  8. http://www.danzview.blogspot.com/2013/10/gop-wars-aca-women-students-voters-poor.html
  9. http://www.danzview.blogspot.com/2013/10/citizens-united-part-ii-worst-is-about.html
  10. http://www.danzview.blogspot.com/2013/08/gop-and-5-4-supreme-court-voter.html
  11. http://www.danzview.blogspot.com/2013/07/gop-win-in-2014-suppress-vote-and-then.html
  12. http://www.danzview.blogspot.com/2013/07/north-carolina-armpit-or-cesspool.html
  13. http://www.danzview.blogspot.com/2013/07/gop-conservatives-prepare-to-kill.html
  14. http://politicalrapids.blogspot.com/2012/11/oh-lord-its-hard-to-be-humble-when.html
  15. http://politicalrapids.blogspot.com/2013/02/gop-election-strategy-block-vote-or.html
  16. http://www.danzview.blogspot.com/2012/06/voter-suppression-issue-with-legs.html
  17. http://www.danzview.blogspot.com/2012/05/voters-under-attack-all-accross-land.html
  18. http://politicalrapids.blogspot.com/2013/02/gop-message-image-policy-or-hardnose.html
  19. http://www.danzview.blogspot.com/2012/07/poll-tax-from-polecats-mustelidae-gop-us.html



GOP Budget: It's the Money, Stupid — From Needy to Rich

The GOP Budget
(The Ryan Budget)
The Good (None), the Bad (A lot), the Ugly (Plenty)


April 1, 2014 headlines from here and no, it was not a joke, but will be as the details emerge:

“Ryan’s Budget Would Cut $5 Trillion in Spending Over a Decade” 

On the surface, I and most Americans I suspect, would agree and say: “Yes, we need to reduce our overall spending to reduce the budget and stop deficit spending and foreign borrowing.” 

In theory that makes perfect sense, but not in GOP laa-laa land. It also makes sound and rational fiscal sense, again theory but not reality, as we peel away the onion skin and start crying when we see the damage inflicted by the cuts and meat-axe approach that would again hit and take away from the most-vulnerable and give more breaks to the top crust (call it the Robin Hood approach in reverse or as Romney and Ryan liked to say: “...taking from the “takers” and returning it to the “givers”). 

Does any of that sound familiar? It should — we've heard it all before. The only difference: updated methodology and timeline. A half-dozen highlights sure to please the top crust rubbing their grubby mitts in anticipation of the yellow brick road being paved their way include:

  1. He (Ryan) said it (this budget) would bring federal spending and taxes into balance by 2024.
  2. Have steep cuts to Medicaid and food stamps.
  3. Repeal of the Affordable Care Act (Obama-care) just as millions are reaping the benefits of the law.
  4. Increase Defense spending.
  5. And most domestic programs would be reduced to the lowest levels since modern government accounting. 
  6. Convert Medicare into a “premium support” system (those vouchers), where people 65 and older could buy private insurance with federal subsidies instead of government-paid health care (and hope the voucher covers it, it not, then what)?
So, stay tuned ... just scratching the surface here — a lot more coming on this. We call it the midterms ...

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Congress Top Crust: Never Worry About Their Paycheck

From Taxpayers to Mr. and Mrs. Member of Congress
(We always pay you on time)

Why Can't You Pay Like You Promised 


The headlines says it all

Boehner blocks passing unemployment insurance

Republicans continue to turn their backs on unemployed Americans, as Speaker Boehner refuses to bring legislation to the floor (again) - more below:


Who cares for Americans unemployed long term — hint: It ain't the Grand Old Poops. The timeline is clear.

Promises made — promises broken. Nothing new about that.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Tons of Election Money: PAC, Super PAC & Dark Money

Most-Important Concept 
(For Ultra Rich)

This post was gathered from the well-known Bill Moyers Report. Good stuff.

This map from the Investigative Reporters and Editors organization will point you to your state’s campaign finance site. 

If it’s federal data you want, you can’t go wrong with this from Open Secrets.org, a project of the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP). 

Everything you could possibly want to know about congressional and presidential campaignsPACs and super PACs, and dark-money nonprofit groups is just a few clicks away.

Then there is the official government site for all Federal candidates here from FEC.gov. At that site, click on Campaign Finance Disclosure Portal, then the 2014 House and Senate Elections link, and then the House and Senate map. On that map, click on your state and then your local district. From there you can see each candidate and how much money they have, who is giving, and how much – it is a real eye-opener and great research tool. 

Weasels Again Gnawing & Chipping Away Voting Rights

Win at Any Cost No Matter What It Takes

Good review here from MSNBC (about 8 minutes):


At the forefront of implementing the boilerplate or standard package for GOP lawmakers to write and set into law is the infamous Kansas Secretary of State, Kris Kobach (R), seen in the segment.

Impact: New voting laws for states following Kansas, like Wisconsin come just in time to impact the 2014 midterm election to favor the GOP anyway possible.

Look at Mr. Kobach — bio extract from here: While campaigning for Kansas secretary of state in 2011, Mr. Kobach decided to have some fun at a Republican barbecue in Leavenworth. Lifting a joke from Rush Limbaugh, he asked his fellow conservatives what President Obama and God had in common. The punch line: neither has a birth certificate. Later, he told another rally that the questions about Obama's birthplace were fair as long as the president failed to produce a so-called “long form” birth certificate.

We need a total public outrage about this anti-voting issue. More is posted below. 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

2016: GOP-Rightwing-Conservative-Fox Top Candidate

GOPers Can't Even Spell Putin or Know How Dark He Is: They Just Love Him
(Влади́мир Влади́мирович Пу́тин)



Moscow (AFP) – Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree recognizing Crimea as an independent state following their vote to secede from Ukraine and join Russia in a referendum that has fanned the worst East-West crisis since the Cold War. The Kremlin's official website quoted Putin's decree as: “Recognizing the Republic of Crimea ... as a sovereign and independent state, considering the expression of the will of the people of Crimea at the general Crimean referendum.”

The scary part: Russia's lower house of parliament is expected to debate legislation on Friday simplifying the process under which the Kremlin can annex another part of a sovereign state. So, stay tuned on this part.

U.S. sanctions against 11 of Putin’s supporters and pals seen here: 

1.  When President Obama announced he was imposing the most comprehensive set of sanctions against Russia since the Cold War, he designated seven Russian officials as targets for having their bank accounts and property frozen for supporting Crimea’s vote to secede from Ukraine. All seven of them are close associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin, but many are unknown to Americans.

2.  That was followed by the Treasury Department targeting the personal wealth of four additional pro-Russian Ukrainians for their roles in the Crimean peninsula breakaway.

Now, back home meanwhile, the GOP’s Right wing branch of the crazy tree (mostly rabid and hardcore Conservatives) have gone all bug-fü¢ked about their praise of Putin while basing President Obama openly and without remorse in the most nasty and ugly ways possible, or not having a care in the world about how that would play out in Moscow and across the world for more Russian style propaganda. All their words I have to say in all honesty are pretty low-down and flat-out insane, and quite frankly un-American to say the least. 

If anyone wants scary, then folks, I give you scary. Most of these people appeared on Fox — as if that's a surprise. Here in their words, not mine. There is also a short clip here from the Daily Show (Jon Stewart).

ERIC BOLLING (3/4/2014): “Putin likes to hang out with his shirt off.  Obama wears mom jeans.  Putin tells the West, "If you mess with me, I'll kill you all." And, on 8/27/2012: “Obama gutted the Constitution with Obama-care.”

SARAH PALIN (3/3/2014): “People are looking at Putin as one who wrestles bears and drills for oil. They look at our President as one who wears mom jeans and equivocates.”

CHARLES PAYNE (3/4/2014): “This is a guy that wrestles tigers while the President wears mom pants!”

RALPH PETERS (3/4/2014): :Russia has a real leader. ... and our President just is ... he's incapable and unwilling to lead.”

BILL O'REILLY (3/4/2014): “In a way, you gotta hand it to Putin.  He knows the West is weak.”

RUDY GIULIANI (3/3/2014): “Putin decides what he wants to do, and he does it in half a day. ... He makes a decision, and he executes it, quickly.  Then everybody reacts.  That's what you call a leader.”

SEAN HANNITY (3/5/2014): “It's like they want Obama to seem weak to the Russian people, that they don't respect weakness. ... There you got Putin, big, strong, muscular, on a horse.” And, on 2/11/2013: “Obama’s an imperial president shredding the Constitution.”

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN (1/14/2014): “Did President Obama miss the class about the three equal branches of government?”

JON SCOTT (2/14/2014): “Doesn't he (Obama) act more like a king than a president?”

JASON MATTERA (10/4/2013): “Barack Obama needs to be reminded that he is not a dictator.”

Can it get any sillier or crazier than this — um, yeah, it can. Stay tuned.

FYI:  I studied Russian at the Defense Language Institute (DLI) in Monterey, California for one year (while on active duty in the Marine Corps).

Я внимательно изучил русский язык на защиту языка институт (РМИ) в Монтерее, Калифорния на один год.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Want to Save Tax Money — Then Raise Minimum Wage

Help the Underpaid and Solve Other Problems

Interactive Map: Hover Cursor Over State for Details


The basic story is from here (Alternet.org). It helps debunk an old GOP playbook line about people on public assistance robbing the rest of the public blind. Those gosh darn lazy bums and welfare queens - remember that phrase? Or the 47% that Romney “warned us about”. 

A key debunk:  “... those opposed to giving low-income workers a raise offer a number of claims suggesting it would be a supposedly bad idea. For their cause, most if not all of their arguments fall apart under close scrutiny. Here are the ones deployed most frequently.”  (Refer to the story for more. It is a very good review).


The map above and following story is from here and it makes a very obvious statement of a fact: 

“Increasing the minimum wage — as some states have already done — would not only provide a much-needed raise for low-wage workers but also it would decrease the amount that taxpayers spend on public assistance programs like SNAP (Food Stamps). Examining how states’ minimum wage laws have affected their SNAP enrollments and spending over the past two decades alone sheds light on the effects a similar minimum wage policy could have at the national level.” 

So, who is paying attention – that is the question. Apparently it is not the GOP.

Added is that article is this link (.pdf format): “How do minimum wage policy increases affect enrollments and expenditures on means-tested public assistance programs like the SNAP?”

A simple question for the GOP: Why aren't you all pushing this issue based on this common sense solution to a problem you always complain about? You Republicans should be way out front line on this issue. Why? I say, because it solves a lot of lingering problems, including helping those in most need. So, what are you waiting for?

I conclude that this should be a major 2014 campaign issue, but will it? Stay tuned.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Money Suppress Vote Ugly Campaigns = Lame Congress


I call this post: Velkom to Democratic-We the People-Open Elections-Level Playing Field for Everyone-Equality, Justice, and Fair Representation in Congress. Were it true — it ain't!!! That chart caught my eye and I pretty much already knew that fact. It is posted here with a ton of money-related data that is good to know, for those who like this stuff like I do. I love their logo:




My input for what's it worth:


Hey, it’s just good government and only access to your Representative and Senator, right – ha – think again. How about quid pro quo – you donate to me and I’ll scratch your back or – the real return on the big money’s investment: 

Big money bundlers:

·        In 2000, there was just one tier of money bundlers disclosed by George W. Bush: those who raised at least $100,000.
·        In 2004, Mr. Bush added other tiers.
·        President Obama has had four tiers of bundlers for each of his campaigns.

The amount raised for winning presidential candidates has also grown:

·        In 2000, it was at least $55.8 million.
·        In 2004, at least $79 million.
·        In 2008, a minimum of $76.25 million.
·        In 2012, the floor was $186.5 million.

Hand-in-hand with the increasing sophistication of and reliance on bundlers is the heightened rate of personal reward or return for those who bundle (payback for their sweat and effort as it were, eh?).

George W. Bush during his eight years in office appointed about 200 bundlers to posts in his administration.
President Obama had already appointed 184 bundlers to his administration in his first term alone.

It is clear that bigger bundlers get more recognition, as nearly 80 percent of those collecting more than $500,000 for the Obama campaign took key administration posts as defined by the White House.
Thirty-five of Obama's ambassador-level appointments as former bundlers for his campaign. The ambassadorships to France, the United Kingdom, and the European Union all went to campaign bundlers.

The value of each member’s assets, that is their income and liabilities is reported in ranges, so it is impossible to pin down an exact figure. This oddity, which is not seen elsewhere in public filings, is actually a feature of the Ethics in Government Act of 1978, which requires the disclosures and is intended to sacrifice precision for the sake of lawmakers' privacy. The result is a complicated set of data that is difficult to analyze and compare. 

For example: Options for these ranges on the disclosure forms vary from between $1,000 and $15,000 to between $250,000 and $500,000, and even between $25 million and $50 million. However, the top range used for assets held by a filer's spouse is over $1 million, meaning that the worth of public officials married to billionaires is vastly understated. 

And, to be honest, spouses could have hundreds of millions invested in companies that lawmakers regulate, but we wouldn't know that from the disclosure statements. (Call it pillow talk politics).

I always remember this when talking about this issue and how it greatly (and negatively) impacts us. At least form my point of view, that is knowledge and enlightenment about our government and what we want, not what others tell us they want us to have: 

“Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.”  — James Madison (4th President)

Sunday, March 9, 2014

The Sun Never Sets on Weasels, Big Oil, Gas, and Energy

Keep on Shining and Keep on Pumping
(fingers crossed behind back)

Occasionally, we hear rumblings and some genuine concern about questions like this one and others seen here: “How much longer will the oil last?” 

Here's what one big oil producer, BP, had to say about that, in part: 

Eventually, we will run out of oil. It takes at least 10 million years, specific geological processes and a mass extinction of dinosaurs and other ancient creatures to create crude oil — making it the definition of a nonrenewable resource­. But it's impossible to tell exactly when we will run out of oil, since we can't look into the Earth's mantle to see just how much is left.  

BP said that we've got plenty of oil left, according to its Statistical Revi­ew of World Energy published in June 2008. In that report, the company said that the world has as many as 1,238 billion barrels of oil in proved reserves.  

That would equal about 40 years of uninterrupted oil supply — just from oil pumped from the ground and held in reserve alone. These data were compiled from reported reserves from nations around the globe and oil consortiums like OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries).

At the same time, BP's report invited a hail of criticism from oil industry observers, who waved off BP's data as unfounded. 
Related article is here and here. →