Saturday, January 31, 2015

Buy America Literally: Our Opening Bid $1 Billion — More As Necessary

Charles and David Koch
(Honestly Concerned About the Future, or Their Bottom Line)

Koch's for This (Big Time)
(So are those who pander to them)

Koch Fav: Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI)
(Huge Anti-Union/Public Employees/Public Anything)

All Koch Drinkers

Koch Cash Combined with Voter ID Movement
(Disaster in the Wings)


Original Story from here (January 27, 2015) and it follows this update (January 31, 2015:

Since Mitt Romney dropped out, all eyes are on a narrow field: The three pictured above, Walker, and maybe even Bush (if Koch's are convinced about him - more on that later). 

This Update Comes from EdVotes.org here.

At that recently concluded and infamous Koch retreat, which is always closed to the press, there was a gathering of key elected and wannabe elected GOPer types seeking the White House in 2016. The public has zero knowledge of exactly what the speakers say to try to impress on the audience of mega-donors.

But as far as Gov. Scott Walker is concerned, if we trust his comments, and we should, is that which were likely in keeping with what he also said to conservative activists at the Iowa Freedom Summit, an event organized by Citizens United (yes, that’s the radical conservative group behind the U.S. Supreme Court decision that opened the floodgates for unlimited corporate dollars to influence elections). If so, then lot more Koch cash may flow.

In Iowa at that time, Walker bragged about beating down public sector unions in his home state. He claimed to have strengthened Wisconsin, omitting any mention of his devastating $1.6 billion cut to public education or the fact that Wisconsin has plummeted to 42nd in the nation in job creation.
  
Also, recall how Walker was pranked by a phone call from a “fake David Koch” (Buffalo Beast reporter, Ian Murphy) regarding Walker’s efforts against Unions, and how the two of them bragged about “beating the bastards.” If you don't recall, here are two clips to refresh your memory on that call (in two parts):

PART I here (10 minutes) and PART II here (also about 10 minutes).

The Koch’s are behind anything pro-Union and especially public service Unions and public education … a fact.

So, hang on tight, it might be a bit bumpy and not so pretty trip until Jan 20, 2017, when a new president is sworn into office – let’s hope it’s not a Scott Walker type.

Five years after the Supreme Court’s landmark Citizens United decision, we are witnessing the legacy of a political climate where money equals speech. The Koch brothers are, in effect, spending enough to become their own political party. 

Here are some numbers to put that level of spending into context:

  • The $889 million they plan to spend is $250 million more than the Republican National Committee, the National Republican Congressional Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee spent in 2012 combined.
  • It is more than double the roughly $400 million the Koch network spent in 2012.
  • It is just under the total amount that either of the major parties spent throughout the 2012 election cycle. In 2012, the Democratic Party spent $1.07 billion, while the GOP spent $1 billion.
  • It is more than $150 million more than what John Kerry and George W. Bush together spent during the 2004 campaign.
  • It still less than the Koch brothers’ combined wealth can fluctuate on any given day.
  • Just two days ago, as the stock market went down, their combined wealth dropped more than $1 billion. 
As one Republican operative put it, “For that kind of money, you could buy yourself a president. Oh, right. That’s the point.” Indeed, if that’s the kind of money you now need to win a presidential election, it is no surprise that possible candidates at that confab included: Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Rand Paul (R-KY) all made the pilgrimage to the conference this weekend to pay their respects and kiss the Koch ring or whatever was needed to be kissed to garnish their support.

Yes, there are billionaire DEMS who fork over big money, but no one will top this pledge for 2016. The Koch brothers just pledged to spend nearly $1 billion to help win the White House for their own personal collection, I guess, but then to do what, pray tell?

Who in their right mind would have believed the USSC got it right on campaign financing when we see this type of what: Oh, yeah, just speech.

This Update ...

The political network led by conservative industrialists Charles and David Koch plans to spend close to a billion dollars on the 2016 elections, the brothers’ group announced at a retreat with donors Monday in the California desert. They announced a spending goal of $889 million to help pay for everything from advertising and data gathering to grassroots activation and massive donations to like-minded conservative groups.

It is an astonishing amount of money, even in this post-Citizens United world. More and more we see this astonishing sum of money as the “norm.”  How in the hell can that be normal, except for a multi-billionaire, so never mind.

What does that translate into? (1) About $1.36 million a day, every day, from now until November 8, 2016, or (2) $56,899 per hour, or worse, (3) $948 per second.

It’s almost a quarter of what was spent in the 2000 election by all candidates, parties and groups, both Republicans and Democrats, combined, when adjusted for inflation. We have made progress haven’t we? (Yes, we have. We have backed ourselves squarely into a smelly, bottomless cesspool).

Is there anyone left who doubts what is wrong with our system. If so, this should erase and clarify any wild thinking about “money is just speech” in nano second (that is one billionth of a second (1/1,000,000,000 sec).

Wow ... I wonder what the Koch's want for that kind of money? Any wild guesses: How about a lifetime pass to the White House? Or, a flight on AF-1? A birthday cake right on schedule? Or a new necktie on Christmas from the President and First Lady?

Or, I surmise, how about total control of the country? Now that sounds plausible.

There are still a lot people who say, "Hey money is speech, so what, they all do it. No biggie." Some also say "issues don't matter." Maybe not, until they do...

America's old symbol about to be replaced by a new one:

    

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Human Trafficking in the U.S. — Full Congress Must Act in Unison

Logo from the FBI Homepage on the Subject


A subject worth tracking.

Background: the FBI page here highlights FBI cases about their commitment to anti-trafficking efforts worldwide.

Congress also has once again moved to act (article on that here), in part, and elsewhere (here) and on at the House.gov page (here) and (here) with examples of recent vote(s):

A total of 13 bills focused on trafficking passed the House last session and one, “The Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act,” was signed into law last September. The bills were lauded by lawmakers from both sides of the aisle as important steps toward ending the practice, seen across the globe as a modern form of slavery. 

The House is advancing the same bills that mostly stalled in the Senate… maybe they will be highlighted and move forward for passage into law this session - one hopes they will.

The FBI case cited in the link about “… the young Ukrainian men and women — many of them out of work and with few prospects — promised good-paying jobs in the United States, but instead of living the American dream, they were thrust into a nightmare of violence, threats, and forced servitude. For years, the five brothers who ran a human trafficking organization victimized dozens of unwitting Ukrainians, underscoring the reality that modern-day slavery exists in the United States and around the world — and requires a strong response by governments and law enforcement.”  

That case story is truly astonishing in detail. It underscores the need for concentrated and coordinated action on a grand scale worldwide and across all lines to combat and stop this awful stain on humanity. It must be stopped and I think it will be stopped — it is a worthy cause.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

W/H Wannabee Strategy: Kiss Up to Nutroll Rep. Steve King in Iowa

    GOP Field of Dreams in Iowa



Yeah, this Steve King. His award category and winning streak: 
  • Bullshit Award Winner = 1
  • Bigot/Racist Award Winner = 3
  • Joseph Goebbels Truth Teller Award Winner = 1
  • Lunatic Award Winner = 1
  • Moron Award Winner = 1
  • Rodney Dangerfield Award Winner = 1
  • Screwball Award Winner = 1

The icing on his proverbial cake is this gem:

King is one of the most prominent opponents of immigration in the House. He always expresses this position with wonderfully colorful language. In a recent interview with the conservative site Newsmax, King said sure, “Some kids who would be able to stay in America under the DREAM Act are upstanding citizens brought into the country by their parents — but just not enough to make the law worth it.” He went on to say, “Some of them are valedictorians, and their parents brought them in. But, for everyone who's a valedictorian, there's another 100 out there that weigh 130 pounds and they have calves the size of cantaloupes because they're hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert." 

King said his opposition to immigration “doesn't mean that there aren't groups of people in this country that I have sympathy for, but the law would legalize both the valedictorians and the weed-lifters,” or as King referred to them later in the interview, those who are “undermining our culture and civilization.”

Undermining – Um, I wonder if he even knows what that word means? Doubtful to say the least. 

The bigger issue is of course is how can any prospective GOP candidate pander to this man, this insect of a human being, really? This is not a rhetorical question,either.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Boehner Wants to Be Foreign Policy Guru Instead of the President

Man in the Middle of Nasty GOP Politics
(thanks to Speaker Boehner)

A lot of coverage on this subject - most all bad:

First this short segment from FOX news here.

Background on Who Sets U.S. Foreign Policy: The Constitution doesn't say anything about foreign policy per se, but it does make it clear who is in charge of America's official relationship with the rest of the world, and that is the President, not the Speaker of the House. Although Mr. Boehner has the right to invite anyone to address a joint session of Congress, snubbing the President is very unbecoming and quite frankly pretty low-down to say the least.

Article II of the Constitution does give the duties and powers for setting U.S. Foreign Policy to the President, saying in part that he has the powers to:

1.  Make treaties with other countries (with consent of the Senate).
2.  Appoint US. Ambassadors to other countries (with consent of the Senate).
3.  Receive Ambassadors from other countries.

Thus, the president has plenty of company in steering the ship of state within those powers.  

For example, Congress plays a key role in oversight of foreign policy as noted and they sometimes play a direct role as well as seen above (e.g., the Senate’s role in approving treaties and appointing U.S. Ambassadors).

Article II also establishes the president as Commander-in-Chief of the military, which gives him a lot of control over how the United States interacts with the rest of the world. As Clausewitz once noted: “War is the continuation of diplomacy by other means,” and that means foreign policy.  

GOP House Speaker John Boehner has clearly stepped way over the line with his recent invitation extended to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address a joint session of congress without even coordinating that with the present that is scheduled for March 3rd, which is only a few days before general elections in Israel to discuss Iran

Some say this is a stick in Mr. Obama’s eye or a slap at him show him that Congress can and will act without him regardless. 

An excellent segment is also seen here addressing that point (it runs about 10 minutes):

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Old Issue: GOP Has New Extreme Tricks - Wordsmithing Comes to Mind

Should Be This Way

Ends Up This Way
(if GOP gets its way)

Abortion foes, encouraged by this new GOP control of the House and Senate, are rallying behind a bill they believe will be the first step in a new campaign against the procedure.

The GOP is about to “fast-track” a bill that would prohibit abortion 20 weeks after fertilization: it’s called and now get this – another fancy label: “The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.” They want to vote on it January 22 to coincide with the anniversary of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.

Over in the senate, Sen. Lindsey “Mint Julep” Graham (R-SC) is expected ​​​introduce a version in the ​​​​​​Senate. GOP ​Majority Leader Mitch “Mr. Peepers” McConnell (R-KY) has already promised to bring it to a​ vote.

A similar ​​ban ​after 20 weeks, reflecting a belief that the fetus can feel pain , was approved in ​the GOP-controlled House ​in 2013 but ever got a vote in the Senate under the DEMS.

That bill didn't pass the House ​without controversy, however.

In response to calls for a rape-exemption, Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) said​​​​ (now get this – sound familiar): ​​​ “The incidence of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low.”

T​he latest version of the legislation, introduced by Franks on the first day of Congress includes exemptions for incidences of rape or incest and to protect the life of the mother. However, even some female GOP lawmakers believe those exemptions aren't wide enough (a report from Politico), with this sticking point: Women seeking the rape exemption would be required to report the assault to police.

Some GOP women in the House first stated their opposition to the language on one day and now a day later, reversal - they must have been threatened someway - that part of the reason why they backpedalled, I am sure, will come out. Story here (TPM.com) about one GOPer Rep (woman):

Wh0okyovjxbi7uen3g5o
Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC) 

Wow – talk about GOP wanting to control a woman from rape to whenever … yet, they proclaim there is no war on women. Yeah, right. Okay, maybe not a “traditional” war, just a limited engagement with light combat and only a few dead and wounded scattered around. No biggie, right boys? I say boys because the boys are leading the pack as it were.

I’m surprised this GOP does not call this new bill “The Todd Akin-Richard Mourdock-Foster Friess Bayer Aspirin Sex and Rape Prevention Act.”

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Testing the Presidential Waters: Sen. Lindsey "Duck" Graham (R-SC)

Graham Taking "Aim" at ISIS 
(before they come here and kill us all) 

First, this short clip today from "Meet the Press" from Senator Graham.

Then of course we have the longer version of his official track record, as it were here. Here is a 5-minute walk down memory lane:


 My best political advice for Sen. Graham: G O * F E R * I T *D A R L I N G ...

Friday, January 16, 2015

GOP on Immigration: TRUST US ... What a Difference a Year Makes



What a difference a year makes - never mind a day like in the song by Dinah Washington: “What a difference a day made / Twenty-four little hours / Brought the sun and the flowers / Where there used to be rain…” great song. Today, however, instead that Sun and those flowers we see a dark cloud and soggy rain property of this all-new grumpy and as angry as ever GOP ...

The basic story comes from HERSHEY, PA – At their annual retreat just one year ago, House Republican leaders announced an ambitious proposal to eventually allow millions of undocumented immigrants to stay in the U.S.

This year, immigration is still a leading topic for them, only now their internal debate is over how best to threaten all 11 million undocumented immigrants with blanket deportation and whether it’s worth shutting down the Department of Homeland Security to do so in a bill they just passed in the House. Oops!! 

A bit more:

Republicans remain divided on how to handle pressing problems, not only like immigration, but homeland security funding, and a contingency on health care (getting rid of Obama-care).

The honeymoon from their massive election victory gave way to a recognition that the only thing uniting them was their opposition to President Obama, as they take on the challenge of running both chambers of Congress. Unlike previous years, the party was unable to find a path forward on key issues.

Senate Republicans didn't settle on a viable plan to avoid a shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security next month. Leaders acknowledged that the House-passed GOP plan, which also blocks Obama's executive actions on deportation relief, may not pass the upper chamber.

“We're going to try to pass it,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), “and if we're unable to do that we'll see what happens.” (Note: It's all but guaranteed to fail).

However, many GOP senators lack enthusiasm for an all-out brawl with Obama on immigration, and a faction of House Republicans openly criticized their leaders' bill, too recently, like: “I think it's a clear overreach,” said Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA). Then he added, “I think not having a clear message on the issue is a drag on the party.” Just change our image and all will be okay, eh, boys? I mean after all ... first erase this image:



All the while and perhaps worse, the GOP has the unmitigated gall to look America in the eye and say: Trust us. Trust is not a one way street!!  

GOP Image Under Construction

And, now about a hearty BS.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

GOP Threats and Actions on Presidental Executive Order Authority


The above is a screen grab from Mr. Obama’s televised address to the nation wherein he defends the legality of his EO actions back in November. He challenges GOP lawmakers to focus their energy not on blocking his actions, but on approving long-stalled immigration legislation to take its place.

He said in part: “To those members of Congress who question my authority to make our immigration system work better, or question the wisdom of me acting where Congress has failed, I have one answer: Pass a bill.”

Here is the GOP official response now: The House votes to over turn the EO on immigration ... see any irony here in that bill? The legislation is tied to the funding of the Department of Homeland Security, which expires on February 8, 2015. Key part follows in an amendment to the bill that was offered by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) - my slant this way:

Rep. Blackburn (R-TN)

Observation on Rep. Blackburn: For anyone who ever listened to her I believe they will reach the same conclusion as I have: she is about as loony as Rep. Louie Gohmert (TX) and Rep. Steve King (IA) when it comes to this issue. Her amendment to halt the DACA program, which passed by exactly the 218 votes needs, is I think, 100% disgusting. 

Her amendment to the bill with focus to cancel Mr. Obama's EO on immigration says in part:  ”... halt the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program (DACA), which lifts deportation for some illegal immigrants who came to the United States [even] as children."


More follows here: The department will partially shut down if a bill isn't enacted by then. The rest of the government is funded through September. “We do not take this action lightly but, simply, there is no alternative” said House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said in a fiery floor speech, adding: “This executive overreach is an affront to the rule of law and the Constitution itself. What we're dealing with is a president who has ignored the people and ignored the Constitution, including his own past statements.”  

So, Homeland Security may shut down ... see the GOP irony here, folks? Like a nice message for our enemies

Does “Loose lips” ring a bell?




Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Heck of a Guy: GOP Rep. Joe Heck (NV) and Army Reserve Brig. General

GOP Rep. Joe Heck Speaking to Supporters 
(Elected to House in 2010: NV 3rd CD)

Heck Will Fight for Troops Not Unnecessary Weapons

Basic article came to me via my email account with this headlines: Congressman Seeks Pay and Compensation Reforms — Week of January 12, 2015 from here Military Update.

GOP 3rd term Rep. Joe Heck (NV) vows to take a “practical, non-parochial” approach in tackling two far different yet still critical priorities for the military while serving as the new chairman of the House armed services' personnel subcommittee.

1. To review, and possibly reshape, and then shepherd into law some recommendations of the Military Compensation and Retirement Reform Commission, which is to deliver its report by February 1, 2015.

2. Find ways to improve DOD efficiency before considering more proposals to cap annual pay raises, dampen housing allowances or boost patient out-of-pocket costs under TRICARE, the health insurance program for military families and retirees.

Full article is here Military Update.

Who the heck is Heck?

Rep. Joe Heck (R-NV) is the new GOP-controlled House subcommittee chairman on military personnel. He has called on the Pentagon to cut waste and cost overruns on weapons systems before looking for savings by trimming pay and benefits for the troops. Heck acknowledged that DOD has a difficult task in managing budgets under the Congressional-mandated sequester process, but he says “that before you start making significant changes in compensation, you'd better figure out where every penny can be saved in procurement and acquisitions.”

He further says his goal is make sure that the government does not “break faith” with the promises made to currently serving troops on pay and benefits to protect the budget line for “weapons systems that sometimes never come off the assembly line. That doesn't mean we can't change pay and benefits in the future.”

He was also critical of Pentagon leaders for pushing reforms on quality of life issues ranging from housing allowances to commissaries ahead of the recommendations of the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission, which was authorized by Congress in 2013. His top priority as new chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Personnel is to review the Commission's final report and recommendations, which were expected on February 1, 2015.

Rep. Heck: He is a Brigadier General in the U.S. Army Reserves, and one of 25 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans in the new Congress.

I would add a personal note: I totally support his concept at this early stage. He is my kind of guy – looking out for the troops first then stuff later – seeking a balance but fairness for those who serve and would man the equipment and weapons, etc.

Expect him to do a good job – we’ll be watching. Good luck to him on winning this fight, but we all know the power of the MIC and other members protecting their turf (back home in districts what make the stuff). We ought to see where our Reps. stand: with the troops or not.

Stay tuned — a lot to watch.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Sen. McConnell is a Poor Substitute for the Needed Senate Leadership

Outgoing Senate Leader: Harry Reid (D-NV) and Incoming: Mitch McConnell (R-KY)

Senator Harry Reid is 100% correct about his comments relating to Senator Mitch McConnell's assertion that the GOP deserve credit for the economy. Some would call McConnell's assertion the joke of the century — they would be correct. It is one for the history books.

Reid basically laughed off McConnell's proclamation that the recent credit for economic growth belongs to the GOP more than to Mr. Obama.

Reid is absolutely correct as he argues that Democratic policies helped the recovery despite overwhelming Republican obstruction since the beginning of the Obama presidency, Reid further said:  “If Republicans had cooperated with us even a little bit, the economy would have been even stronger than it is now. Think where the economy would be, if we didn't have programs like Cash for Clunkers and the bailout of Detroit (referring to parts to the stimulus legislation passed early in the recession, that the entire GOP was against).”  

Reid cited Wall Street reform legislation (e.g., the Dodd-Frank law), the ACA (Obama-care), FDA regulation of tobacco, and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, just to name a few Democratic successes in the past six years that have contributed to a growing economic recovery we see today. 


For example, the latest employment reports show 252,000 jobs gained in the month of December. 

Reid also argued that Republicans had actually hurt the economy by blocking student loan reform and hikes in the minimum wage as two other examples. 

There are plenty more listed here from Crooks and Liars. Some you may have forgotten with this lead in: “Republicans have obstructed every effort to help the economy. In the Senate they filibustered hundreds of bills. In the House they refused to allow votes on efforts to help the economy. And then there's the sabotage.”


Thanks for stopping by. Come again.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

ACA (Obama-care) Still Under GOP Fire and Another 5-4 Looms

Will the USSC Hurt People in Need???
(If so, why)

Key Q in this story:  Is another 5-4 USSC really callous enough to rule against Obama-care and this key part? We are about to find out ...

looming Supreme Court case against Obama-care threatens to undermine millions of Americans’ access to affordable health insurance. And the latest data about the current enrollees in the law’s new marketplaces suggests that the stakes may be even higher than analysts initially predicted.

In November, the Supreme Court agreed to take up King v. Burwell, a case that would essentially gut the current system for extending financial assistance to help Americans purchase health insurance plans. If the legal challenge is successful, the government will no longer be authorized to provide tax credits in the 37 states with federally-run marketplaces. Those states declined to set up their own marketplaces under Obama-care because they’re governed by politicians who oppose the law.  

A ruling against Obama-care’s subsidies would affect the vast majority of the people who are signing up for plans in those states.

Then as a wrap-up, set the suicide watch for the GOPers ... two related stories:

1.  The Boehner/McConnell Obama-care “fix” could hurt millions of Americans (LA Times).

and

2.  Amazing fact: Obama-care “beyond repair” (says Paul Ryan) yet it brings insurance to millions of Americans (also the LA Times).

Thanks for stopping by - a critical issue to keep tracking. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

More Scare Tactics: Repeal Medical Device Tax on the ACA or Else

More of the Same from the Grand Old Poops 
(Some DEMS have signed on, too - just to be fair)

First watch this very good segment on the subject here from MSNBC - about 7 minutes:


Then consider this fine article about the Pros and Cons of repealing the medical device tax (posted here from Forbes.com), in part:

The tax has been in effect for over a year and a half and some say the negative effect on U.S. sales of medical devices persists. Note this analysis on the largest manufacturers of such devices (anything ranging from tongue suppressors to artificial hips and knees):

Of the ten largest medical-device companies (as defined by the online trade publication, Medical Device & Diagnostic Industry), it is possible to discover relevant information regarding the tax’s impact from eight of them as they all indicate that U.S. sales are flagging, relative to international markets due to the tax:

  1. Johnson & Johnson Johnson & Johnson’s medical device and diagnostic sales were down 1.5 percent in the U.S., versus up 1.8 percent internationally, in the first half of 2014.
  2. Siemens Siemens reported that healthcare orders were down in the Americas, for the first nine months of 2014.
  3. General Electric reported that the U.S. healthcare market continues to be “challenging”, and sales shrank by 2 percent in the second quarter, versus up 2 percent in Europe.
  4. Medtronic’s U.S. sales for the 2014 fiscal year were up 1.7 percent, versus 5.9 percent internationally.
  5. For Baxter, U.S. sales of medical products were down 15 percent for the quarter ended June 2014 in the U.S., versus up 8 percent globally.
  6. Fresenius’ U.S. sales of dialysis products were down 1.2 percent in the first half of 2014, versus up 0.6 percent internationally.
  7. Philips report for the first half of 2014 states that: “comparable sales in Western Europe were flat and other mature geographies showed low single digit growth, while North America recorded a low single-digit decline.”
  8. Covidien does not clearly segment U.S. sales from international sales in its results. Nevertheless, during the nine months ending in June 2014, Covidien’s excise-tax liability was $47 million. For the same nine months ending in June 2013, it was only $30 million.
So, the business environment in the U.S. continues to deteriorate, versus international markets. And these are the largest, global medical-device manufacturers, which can more easily overcome U.S. weakness by beefing up international sales. Perhaps that explains why large firms have added jobs.

Then a different view on the same subject here, also in part:

If you’re interested in the Affordable Care Act’s 2.3% medical device excise tax (pro, con, or neutral), you should read the Congressional Research Service’s economic analysis of it. You might also want to pay attention to The Center on Budget and Policy Priority’s take.

Though no stranger to the limelight, repeal of the tax has received growing attention in wake of the midterm election that will bring a Republican majority to the Senate. But the politics of the tax has far outpaced its economic import

My view based on the above: Repealing as noted in the segment would “blow a funding shortfall hole” in the ACA (and natch, the GOP’s loves that since it would weaken the law – which is their long term aim anyway). Also, note that the actual tax would be smaller than the 2.3% - why? The big medical guys get plenty of tax breaks and write off's ... and still they make a bundle ... they can afford it I am sure. 

Of course that or anything else would hurt people who now by the millions finally have decent affordable health care, some for the first time in their lives.  

One wonders how the GOP can be so callous and cruel about health care that they are this persistent in their aim to toss this law and thus be against healthcare for millions? In fact, not one GOPer even voted for the bill back in 2010 – so, what leg do they have to stand on, or what claim can they make about any part of the law they oppose so much. My first hunch: None, not one single part.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Economy: GOP Fear-Mongering Ø — Obama and Reality 1 — Booming






Major Update (Revision) to the Following Original Post (below). 

Some of the headlines today (January 5, 2015:

U.S Economy Booming due the mighty dollar

Much of the recent decline in the Euro has been about the strength of the greenback.

During the second half of 2014, the U.S. dollar made significant gains against all other major global currencies, such as the British pound, Swiss franc and Japanese yen.

The U.S. economy is motoring, growing by 5% in the third quarter, and creating jobs at a rapid pace. That has allowed the Federal Reserve to end its emergency stimulus -- or quantitative easing -- and begin talking about when to raise interest rates from their record lows.

Compare the U.S. with the Eurozone: unemployment is stuck near record highs, the economy is stagnating, and the risk of deflation looms large.


In Japan officials are going all in with stimulus. 

Yet all across the GOP, the ones about to take total control of Congress tomorrow, we see the faces of these two GOP "leaders" in that Congress - why? They couldn't make Mr. Obama a "one-term" president, most of the scandals they hung on him did not produce anything except smoke and mirrors, and despite their pledge to "serve the American people" (their standard floor sound byte), they have have nothing to help - only hinder and block. Again, why?

Speaker Boehner (R-OH) and new Senate Majority "Leader" McConnell (R-KY):
Looking depressed and rejected or dejected: Why???

Original Post Starts Here: Mr. Obama faced a dark office and country filled with fear and uncertainty when he took office on January 20, 2009:

  • Dark days hung over Mr. Obama and the country - we nearly fell into the 1929 abyss.
  • Everything looked and was in fact, pretty ugly. 
  • Gloom and doom were the operative words of the day.
  • The entire system looked bleak - aggressive action was needed.
  • Some of above number prove the point.

Added to that misery was the GOP who commenced and pledged their massive, relentless anti-Obama everything campaign. Their stated #1 priority was: “To make Barack Obama a one-term president” thus stated Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY). Um ... so how'd that work out Mitch???

Yes, the GOP gets their majority next month ... but what have you done since 2009 and what does the future hold? My first guess would be zilch, nada, nil, nothing, oh except sustain a 10% job approval rating and seemed to have worn it with pride and continue their anti-Obama everything campaign.

A lot of credit is due Mr. Obama. The country owes him a great deal.

My post here has these charts and video that reflect the GOPer's own words to back up the Obama success and the GOP's utter failure. Also, I blame the DEMS for losing in November, why? Pretty simple: they did not back Mr. Obama and take credit for the successes and take that to the voters. In short, the DEMS fell for the massive, sick, very effective GOP negative PR machine ... THE BIG LIE worked, and the DEMS failed the country, too. Harsh, yes; accurate, damn right (and I’m a lifelong DEM, so that is my privilege to be harsh to them – they earned it).

Measure the GOP words and actions and road blocking against the facts. In the end, facts matter and political hype does not.

The Obama economy good news and the above update:







Sunday, January 4, 2015

The Root of Evil in American Politics: Out of Control Money

Typical Platform to Run on for a Seat on Congress
(kinda shameful, isn't it)


(Right next to OpenSecrets.org)


One of my top issues, maybe the very top issue of all issues, which is the basis for everything in our country is this:

The Subject is Money in Politics (yes, the green stuff)

Q:  Let me ask you: Have you ever wanted to join a movement, or just have a voice on a very critical issue that impacted the whole county and  you didn't pitch in to do whatever you could and later regretted not getting involved finding out the issue was the correct and honorable one? We all have I am sure. Well, here's a chance to rectify that. Sign on to this issue.

I believe it is the most-pressing of all issues we face since it speaks directly to the way we want our government to function – that is: what we want and not what big money tells us they think we need.

Today, new forms of big money threaten to undermine American democracy. Citizens United and other court rulings obliterated a century of campaign finance laws. Now a handful of special interests threaten to dominate political funding, often through Super PACs and shadowy nonprofits. Public trust in government has plummeted.

The Brennan Center at NYU is a leading intellectual force in developing policies that ensure the public interest can counter the power of special interests.

First, we seek to advance a new system of small donor public financing for federal and state elections. This would provide multiple matching funds for small gifts and give ordinary voters a far louder voice in presidential and congressional elections.

Second, to counter the outsized role of big money in politics, we must flood the system with millions of new voters. Our signature pro-participation reform, Voter Registration Modernization, would use digital technology to register all eligible citizens, automatically and permanently.

We also seek a new legal context for money in politics: a long-term drive to overturn Citizens United so that the Constitution is once again read as a charter for a self-governing democracy.

We work with policy makers and activists to help draft and enact legislation, defend campaign finance laws in court, and promote innovative public financing solutions nationwide, particularly small donor matching fund systems.

Sign up for our General Newsletter here.

THE NEXT LOGICAL STEP:  GET INVOLVED AS IF THE FUTURE REALLY MATTERS – BECAUSE YOU KNOW WHAT, IT DOES ....

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Re: Again - Many from Top-Down Involved in Torture Escaped Justice

Torture case that hit the world headlines with this photo
Female U.S. soldier, thumbs up, leaning over the body of Mr. Manadel al-Jamadi
(He died in 2003 while held at Iraq’s infamous Abu Ghraib prison)


Source for this post is a look back at this fine article hereby Law Professor Jonathan Turley, posted here in part (my editing is included). Mr.Turley (bio - who is BTW one of my favs) wrote this in part: "Let it not be said that President Obama does not keep his promises." Then he continues - these are the parts I wanted to emphasize in this post:

As he prepared to accept his nomination for re-election, the president made good on a promise he made at the beginning of his term: “No CIA officers will be prosecuted for torture.”

AG Eric Holder quietly announced before the [DNC] convention that the last two torture investigations would close (like all the prior investigations) without any charges. As a virtual afterthought, the DOJ added that it would not address the “propriety of the examined conduct.” That “impropriety” involved two suspects who died under torture by CIA officials.

Background: “Order is an order”

Though the White House denied the stories, Mr. Obama later gave his controversial speech at the CIA headquarters. In the speech, he effectively embraced the defense of “Befehl ist befehl” (German: “An order is an order.”) and, in so doing, eviscerated one of the most important of the Nuremburg principles (The Nazis on trial then for killing millions all claimed they were just “following orders”).

Mr. Obama assured the CIA that employees would not be prosecuted for carrying out orders by superiors. That was later affirmed by Holder’s Justice Department, which decided that employees carrying out torture were protected because they followed orders. The administration then decided that those who gave the orders were protected because they secured facially flawed legal opinions from the DOJ. Finally, the DOJ decided not to charge its own lawyers who gave those opinions because they were their … well … just opinions.

All that, of course, still left two “inconvenient corpses in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

The first was in 2002: Gul Rahman was grabbed in Pakistan while seeing a doctor who is the son-in-law of an Afghanistan warlord. He was taken by the CIA to the infamous Salt Pit, a former brick factory north of Kabul. He was beaten by guards, stripped and shackled to a cement wall in near freezing temperatures. He froze to death overnight. (Note: The CIA officer in charge of the prison who ordered the lethal abuse has been promoted according to the AP and The Washington Post).

The second was in 2003: That was the torture case of Manadel al-Jamadi, who died in Iraq’s infamous Abu Ghraib prison. Al-Jamadi’s face was featured in pictures with smiling U.S. troops posed with his dead body — giving the thumbs up sign (photo seen above). A CIA official had interrogated al-Jamadi by suspending him from a barred window by his wrists, which were bound behind his back. The CIA interrogator, Mark Swanner, continued to demand answers even when al-Jamadi stopped responding. Swanner accused him of “playing possum” and ordered him to be repositioned for more interrogation, according to a New Yorker account. The guards finally convinced Swanner that the man was deceased. Al-Jamadi’s death was officially ruled a homicide.

Summary: We have gone from prosecuting torture as a war crime after World War II to now treating allegations of torture today as a “question of propriety” under President Obama. Hundreds of officials, including former President George W. Bush, were involved.

FYI - a review of the soldiers punished for Abu Ghraib (their role in torture).

A  lot of what is posted here today is also documented at my main detainee/torture page here - FYI. Check it out. 

Friday, January 2, 2015

What Does the GOP Think About Immigration Reform: Ask "Jeb" Bush




John Ellis Bush (Jeb Bush) infamous quote for the GOP to ponder. Then we can all watch them start their happy feet tap dancing around the issue all the while they work to repeal Mr. Obama's EO on immigration ... it outta be a hoot:




When the GOP went to bed late in November they livid at President Obama and his executive actions (EO) that would shield millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation. The GOP warned that the president was setting up a “constitutional crisis,” panned his actions as a “direct insult” to Americans and accused him of acting precisely like the “emperor” he has said he is not.

It probably will take an emperor to solve this problem if left to the inactive GOP as history well knows, but first they need to review what President Reagan said about that issue, too. A reminder is here and below:


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2015 Wish: GOP to Take Back Their Nasty Words Re: The U.S. Economy

GOP Has Bashed "The Obama Economy" (their label) Since 2009)

When Republicans speak of the economy with their arrogant snarky and snide remarks "The Obama Economy" this or that, etc. well, it leaves a sour taste in the mouth of fact checkers ... to wit. Watch this clip ( the first 8 minutes or so) ... in their own words - not mine, not from DEMS, not even from President Obama, but from the GOP ... practically en masse. 

Or watch it below, and then assess yourself and then ask yourself this question: How in the hell did they win in November  2014 midterms to get the honor of holding the majority in both houses of Congress with all the power to write laws they way they want ... ? This is not a rhetorical question my friends - not one bit.


As you watch ponder this afterwards: Is this the place the GOP hangs their collective hat and their collective hopes on for the future of our country? The economy is great - even Bloomberg (here) and others agree - the GOP is in denial.


It's nice to see some of the networks with such great archives, isn't it ... I expect the GOPers would not agree, but hey guys, cold crow is hard so swallow, isn't it?

Friday, December 19, 2014

Put Cheney Out to Pasture and Save a Spot for John Ellis Bush (JEB)

An Average Poker Hand: 3-of a Kind
(Or a simple man caught in the middle hiding in the bushes)


It seems that the latest Bush to test the waters for a White House run, Jeb Bush, is really little or no different from the other two who occupied that office. Thank goodness for media archives about the man.

With this post and perhaps others, we must all prepare to see whether his “team” starts tap dancing in the process – something I am sure would shame Fred Astaire.

First, some background:

Jeb Bush left public office as the Gov of FL (after two terms: 1998-2007) with a net worth of $1.3 million, but he also had an unapologetic determination to expand his wealth, telling friends “that his finances had suffered during his time in government.” (poor Jeb, but I digress).

His efforts since leaving that office have been to capitalize on his resume (* and family name natch) and their reputation (I guess). All that has thrust him into situations that may prove challenging to explain should his “exploratory campaign” to get the Republican nod proves successful.

Sample from records and past interviews show, for example, that Mr. Bush participated in the fevered, last-ditch efforts to prop up Lehman Brothers, a big Wall Street bank weighed down by toxic mortgage-backed securities that nearly brought down the entire financial sector. 

As a paid adviser to that company in the summer of 2008, he also met with Carlos Slim Helú, the Mexican billionaire (and richest man in the world), as Lehman sought to persuade Mr. Slim to make a sizable investment in the firm (email records).

The above and some more is here >>> from the NY Times (April 2014). Continue there and keep this question in mind: Is Jeb Bush ready for prime time or simply a repeat of the past and the same old, same old political crap we have grown to look at with total disdain?  

The answer to that question I think, is self-evident. There will be a heck of lot more in the coming months about his effort. Stay tuned and thanks for stopping by.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Two Americas: Ultra Rich and Wall Street vs. The Rest of Us



A Few Views from Around America 




First, I would ask you to review this 60 Minutes segment from 2011it is about 13 minutes:


Then I would ask you to check out the article below (at the links below). It may not be precisely overlapping the time since that 60 Minutes 2011 segment, but it’s in the same time frame since nevertheless:

Over 48 million Americans live in poverty, according to a special report by the Census Bureau Thursday. It provides an alternative look at the worst off people in the nation than the official numbers that came out in September. Government programs such as food stamps do help some people, especially children, but even so 16% of American children are living in poverty, according to the supplemental report (could reach 25% unless massive changes are made).


Pretty stark isn’t it? Yet this GOP wants to loosen or discard programs that help those most in need and a biggie, as Sen. Warren noted in her great speech on the spending bill wherein the GOP wants to roll back Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform and let the good times roll again for the biggest banks – seen here:


This is a critical issue especially in view of the massive GOP effort and plans to cut food stamps, rollback or repeal the ACA, and their constant assault on the homeless and hungry and poor in our country. Oh, BTW: this is more than merely my view or opinion – it’s pretty darn accurate.  

Thanks for stopping by … and stay tuned.