Saturday, May 2, 2015

Earth to Kansas: "You Have a Problem...!!!" Seriously, An Awful Problem

Gov. Sam Brownback (R-Kansas): Ultra-Conservative on the road to ????
(doom and gloom does come to mind)

Empty thinking could equal empty classrooms
                                               (possible result of Brownback's latest move)

Major Update (original post follows): This story via Yahoo news shows how common average hardworking Americans struggling see the harshness of the GOP and their budget schemes - yes, schemes.

TOPEKA, KS (AP) — A waitress who left a message for Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback on his receipt at a barbecue restaurant said she thought it was more important to promote education funding than to get a tip. Chloe Hough of Lawrence was working her last shift Saturday night at Boss Hawg's in Topeka when she waited on the governor. The Topeka Capital-Journal reported here said that she later posted his receipt on Facebook, showing the line for the tip crossed out and the phrase “Tip the schools” written beside it. Ms. Hough declined to say how Brownback reacted to the receipt. A call to the governor's spokeswoman on Sunday was not immediately returned.
She also stressed that she had not discussed her plans with any manager or the owner of the restaurant, where she had worked for about a year, saying, in part: “It's a great restaurant and I didn't do it to hurt them.”
She also said that education funding is important to Hough because her sister receives special education services and because she believes it encourages social mobility. Her sister she also said, “… has lost so many dedicated educators who've been cut due to budget cuts," she said. "I think it should matter to everyone.”

So, Gov. Brownback: Meet a real person, not a harsh GOP-Conservative concept, that is hurt and impacted by your harsh impersonal budget policies:

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (John Hanna/AP); Chloe Hough (CBS Philly)
Gov: Meet a Hardworking Waitress. Ms. Hough: Meet the Gov, hard-nosed on education 
BACKGROUND THAT MS. HOUGH REFERS TO: Gov. Sam Brownback signed a bill in April that (1) dropped the state's old school funding formula and substituted it with block grant funding; now (2) school districts have reported their funding was cut and are anticipating further budget cuts in the next few years, and (3) just recently it was reported that at least six school districts in Kansas plan to close a few days early this month because of budget concerns.

I add: GOP standing with the kids, their education and future, eh? Um … not in Kansas anymore, Toto!!!  

Original Post from Here: Historical look back at Kansas, once known as “Bleeding Kansas, or Bloody Kansas, or the Border War" was a series of violent political confrontations in the United States involving "anti-slavery Free-State/pro-slavery Border Ruffian elements" that took place in the Kansas Territory and in some neighboring towns of Missouri between 1854 and 1861.  

Now, today, we see ultra-conservatives in charge there who appear to want to drain the last ounce of blood from the good citizens there. This letter from a Topeka, Kansas citizen says what I suspect a lot people there are saying about Kansas over the last few years. Her letter appeared in the Capital Journal.com on March 10, 2015 in total here:  

“There was a time in our country when citizens of the deep South didn’t like to admit where they were from. They were ashamed of their education standards and the integrity of their state leaders. They understood that their states couldn’t attract business because of the far-right morals of their leaders.”
“Surely, it is time for our Legislature to use its authority to rein in the ultra-conservative performance of our governor.”
“Gov. Sam Brownback should make decisions based on what is good for all the citizens. His actions shouldn’t manifest any personal beliefs or agendas.”
“I don’t want to be embarrassed to admit I’m from Kansas. Politics shouldn’t be Democratic versus Republican. The actions of our politicians should be based on good judgment versus lunacy, phobias and lies.”  /s/ Janice Supon, Topeka
First, who is Gov. Sam Brownback – let’s take a quick look – this short rundown from Rolling Stone:
Sam Brownback: The 56-year-old, a regular sight on Capitol tours, today happens to be wandering the corridor near his second-floor office. He's holding a coffee mug and sporting one of his signature sweater vests – such pleasingly Capra-esque touches that one wonders if a wardrobe consultant was involved – and when his eyes alight upon an unfamiliar face, he beams and gives the visitor a pleasant nod.

Just a few years ago, Brownback seemed washed up. A devout Catholic who attends mass several times a week, he'd built a following among the Christian right as one of the most socially conservative U.S. senators of the Bush era, but his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008 proved an embarrassing folly. Unable to raise money or make a dent in the polls after religious conservatives flocked to Mike Huckabee, Brownback wound up limping from the race before the first votes were even cast in the Iowa caucus.

But apparently, the notion of wielding executive branch power had become appealing. Two years later, he handily won the governorship, part of the class of Republicans elected in 2010 on a Tea Party-driven wave of anti-Obama sentiment.

Once in office, Brownback surprised critics and supporters alike with the fervor of his pursuit of power, pushing what reporter John Gramlich of Stateline described as perhaps the “boldest agenda of any governor in the nation like: (1) gutting spending on social services and education, (2) privatizing the state's Medicaid system, (3) undermining the teacher's union, (4) becoming the only state to entirely abolish funding for the arts, (5) boasting that he would sign any anti-abortion bill that crossed his desk, and – most significantly – (6) pushing through the largest package of tax cuts in Kansas history. His avowed goal is to (7) eliminate the state income tax altogether, a move that many predict will torpedo the budget and engender even more draconian cuts in spending.”

Pretty harsh words and from what I have read all accurate and the blow back has been harsh, too as the news has shown recently. Now Kansas’ latest move or stunt or whatever one chooses to call it has this headline: “Will the Kansas Board of Ed vote to de-professionalize teaching?”

A lot of details from here (NEA.org), in part:  

Kansas educators and parents are speaking out against a dangerous proposal being considered by the state board of education that would remove restrictions on hiring untrained, unlicensed individuals as teachers. The proposal would allow administrators to hire unlicensed individuals for schools that are part of the Coalition of Innovative School Districts. While superintendents insist the required waivers would be used sparingly, there are virtually no limitations on how the waivers could be employed in the proposal currently on the table.

Here are some top concerns the Kansas National Education Association has about the proposal, according to KNEA legislative director Mark Desetti. In the current proposal: *click the NEA link for more good reading to see the dangerous ground for sure.

Check back later or research the Kansas effort on your own … main point: when conservatives get power, they go nuts and can't handle it.

Monday, April 27, 2015

What Price Tag Should We Put on Those Who Protect Our Freedoms

Soldiers at Fort Drum, NY (10th Mountain Division): Heading Back to Afghanistan

Possible Future Scenario Awaits Those Like Them

The current military pension system, in which you are qualified to get a pension after 20 years of service, but none at say 15 to 19 years is probably due for an overhaul. I am open for discussion; not ramrodding it down the military's throat, however. Let me explain:

Such changes must not mean include handing the system over to greedy Wall Street brokers, or to a handful of fancy “money managers,” or to some whiz-bang sort of privatized system that would be vulnerable to another 2008 near total meltdown. Sadly, that is precisely what the GOP-run House Armed Services Committee is seriously considering. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter has praised the idea. So, hang on tight...!!!  Here is what recently appeared in a Military Times report in part:
  1. The plan would create some sort of 401(k) style investment accounts for the troops.
  2. The government would offer up to 6 percent of basic pay for troops who contribute their own out-of-pocket money.
  3. Troops would own that investment account regardless of when they leave the military.
  4. It would give troops, say, who reach 12 years of active duty service, some level of a lump-sum “retention bonus” in exchange for a new four-year service commitment (if they were to reenlist) with any final amount in place varying by their branch of service and probably career field specialty.
However, Secy. Carter, in his remarks about any such proposal, did not mention another central and more controversial component: the overall shrinking of the current pension by some 20 percent. Oops…!!! (Guess he forgot that little tidbit).

I profess that getting to a fair way to get allow some retirement benefits to the 83 percent of enlisted personnel who do not stay in the military for 20 years is a good idea, but as they say: "the Devil is always in the the details," and that is what matters most, or at least it should. 

We know from past experience that civilian low-paid workers have trouble putting money in any available 401(k) account. A plan for the military impacting junior enlisted personnel would be a tough nut to crack, too. 

However, I am open-minded, but not to the idea or prospect of having your retirement at the mercy of the stock market — it is simply too risky. Many Americans found that out the hard way in 2008. On the surface in mind it degrades and belittles the time-tested concept of “you protect us and put your life on the line to protect our freedoms and the country will provide for you, except from now on ... well simply do your duty, finish your job, then get out. We don’t care how you survive after discharge or retirement.” Or words to that affect it seems.

Let's also be clear that while this is being sold as a benefit to people in the military, there is a big upside for the government (which the GOP dearly loves): it would ave up to $4.7 billion per year.  

So, again I ask: How much is our freedom worth?

Wouldn't it be nice if the powers that be were talking about expanding retirement benefits to more people in a way that didn't also involve cuts for their duty and sacrifices? I strongly think so.  

Topics related Pensions from DailyKos Library – a good read. 

Thanks for stopping by. Stay tuned to this topic – it’s a keeper for sure.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Need More, Not Fewer Guns, and Easier Access: /s/ 2016 GOP Field

If you got 'em, pack 'em, if not, git one and then pack 'em...

My recommendation for the weapon of choice for those candidates...

Good rundown here from Think Progress. By this article it sure seems like this GOP field is working on their “short pee-pee syndrome” with the kind of lingo that follows they are flinging around. To wit:

Republican presidential candidates lining up for 2016 are eager to flaunt their support for the Second Amendment, whether it’s by speaking to pro-gun groups, talking up their own experience with guns, or literally posing with guns.

The latest issue these early GOP presidential contenders are tackling is how far they would extend gun rights and how easy it should be to carry a firearm in public, literally anywhere, anytime, and for any reason.

Expanding where people can carry guns and how — concealed or open — has become a controversial issue between gun owners and groups attempting to put limits on those rights they perceive as absolute.

Pro-gun activists argue that having people carry arms would better protect them from potential shootings, while others cite research showing more guns would lead to more violence.

The NRA is pressing Congress to pass legislation which would allow people to carry their concealed weapons across state lines (in essence make states follow Congressional mandates – neat, isn’t it for the “less government/not more” crowd.”

The NRA is counting on the support of 53 Senate Republicans — including a number of presidential candidates to get that kind of bill passed, and the candidates are eager for the NRA’s support (read: money and endorsements).  

The NRA spent $18.6 million in the 2012 election, an amount that dwarfs that of any gun control group. Not being on the receiving end of that kind of dough could substantially hurt a candidate’s chances of winning and certainly the NRA can’t have any of that, now can they?

More at the story link. Enjoy... a bit scary, but we've gotten used to these tactics, right? Yeah, sure we have. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Rightwing Fired Up About "Clinton Cash" Book: Hoax & Hooey Crap

Peter Schweizer, author of Clinton Cash and Backed by Koch Cash 

Give Schweizer a couple of butts to calm him down
(grabbed from ABC News - source unknown)

This headline from Think Progress kinda sets the tone:

Think Progress Report: “Schweizer Admits He Cannot Prove Allegations in Clinton Cash”

As they say, “No shit, Sherlock.” Or maybe like Gomer Pyle: “Surprise, surprise, surprise.”

Either way, Schweizer's own words pretty much say it all:

Schweizer makes clear that he does not intend to present a smoking gun, despite the media speculation. The book relies heavily on timing, stitching together the dates of donations to the Clinton Foundation and Bill Clinton's speaking fees with actions by the State Department.  He explains that he cannot prove the allegations, leaving that up to investigative journalists and possibly law enforcement.” 

Schweizer: “Short of someone involved coming forward to give sworn testimony, we don't know what might or might not have been said in private conversations, the exact nature of the transition, or why people in power make the decision they do. We cannot ultimately know what goes on in their minds and ultimately provide the links between the money they took and the benefits that subsequently accrued to themselves, their friends, and their associates.”

Well, hell, case closed, then. Or maybe not - we outta maybe perhaps stay tuned. There might be rough roads ahead before November 2016, so caution is advised (smile).

Monday, April 20, 2015

Fund Charter Schools, Get Visa, Green Card, Fast Track to Citizenship

We, The Big Money Foreigners Want to Own American Schools

This story is a couple of years old but still a serious topic worth reviewing and tracking. At the same time, I am sure GOP free market, let it all hang out, trickle down zealots love this sort of stuff.

This is subject is both simple and complex: Help fund an American CHARTER school, get a special Visa, then green card and fast track to U.S. citizenship. What a deal.

(Reuters - Oct 12, 2012) - It's been a turbulent period for charter schools in the United States, with financial analysts raising concerns about their stability and regulators in several states shutting down schools for poor performance.

The volatility has made it tough for start up schools to get financing. But an unlikely source of new capital has emerged to fill the gap: foreign investors. Wealthy individuals from as far away as China, Nigeria, Russia and Australia are spending tens of millions of dollars to build classrooms, libraries, basketball courts and science labs for American charter schools.

1.  In Buffalo, NY, foreign funds paid for the Health Sciences Charter School to renovate a 19th-century orphanage into modern classrooms and computer labs.

2.  In Florence, AZ, overseas investment is expected to finance a sixth campus for the booming chain of American Leadership Academy charter schools.

3.  In FL, state business development officials say foreign investment in charter schools is poised to triple next year (that was 2013) to $90 million.

It is now 2015 – I wonder where we stand now?

How this worksChina example (linked from the above story):

In a conference room in an office building in downtown Shanghai, Jason Lee, literally sells the American dream. (BTW: Who is this Jason Lee? Well, on the day that Reuters spoke with Lee in Shanghai for the story, he was selling an investment in an Idaho gold mine that has been closed for decades but which a U.S. business now wants to reopen. Suddenly, Lee reminds me of a modern-day Flim-Flam Man (same title as the 1967 movie) version of Mordecai Jones).

Lee BTW runs Maslink, a firm that connects cash-hungry American businesses with Chinese investors keen to move to the United States. His company is part of a global cottage industry that has popped up in recent years to profit from a program that allows foreigners who invest in certain small U.S. businesses to get on the fast track to U.S. residency and then citizenship.  

Interest in the program, officially known as the EB-5 Immigrant Investor, is so high that Lee’s Maslink, now has offices Shanghai, Beijing, Hangzhou, and Chongqing, and with plans to expand into two more Chinese cities.

Firms like Maslink, and the U.S. companies that pay them, all promote the EB-5 visa as a quick, easy way to gain legal entry to the United States, and naturally: to make a potential profit in the bargain, and their pitch is very effective.

For example, in 2010, nearly 2,000 would-be immigrants, many from China, applied for EB-5 visas, the most ever in a single year, and that is according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) who oversees the program. The surge has been driven in part by a 20-fold increase in the number of U.S. companies looking to participate.

My bottom line: Foreign investments are okay just like U.S. investments abroad are okay, but somehow I want to draw the line regarding their ownership of the American education system. 

That simply does not tickle my fancy as they say. I think Congress should step in shut down this aspect of the program. Why? We ave enough Corporate greed a lot of other areas -- we do not need it in our schools like this. So, stopping it here and now seems to me like a good place to start.

Thanks for stopping by ... leave a note if you want. Certainly pass this along to others of a like mind.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Fake, False, or Misleading Media Reporting: Dare We Ask Why

Case in Point: This Headline
(Must Read More to Find Out the Real Story)

Backdrop for this Post: I at first blush when I read this headlines thought: “Gosh, the AZ Republic Supports the VA Privatization Move by the Koch's.” Ding… wrong assumption!!

Ding – I would be wrong. However, the headline is very misleading and carefully constructed to force the reader to read the entire article to see what Paul Harvey used to say, “And, now the rest of the story.” (Kinda like if it bleeds, then it leads)…

This post continues that I posted earlier about the Koch brothers sponsoring a move to privatize the VA while waving the red, white, blue like they are the only patriots in the country. 

My focus for this post is long – so bear with me - I think this is a critically important issue. It comes from remarks JEB Bush made while speaking at a Colorado Springs IHOP about this subject, wherein he said, in part: “This is where I think empowering people with the equivalent of a voucher that gives you the same economic benefit of receiving care inside of a clinic or a hospital.” (As noted, Bush previously called for a system change saying he was all in on the voucher thing.

What a coincidence because the Koch brothers are ALSO in on “the voucher thing,” too as we are finding out. But what does it all mean? I mean, what is their purpose?

Back in February, a Koch-funded organization calling themselves Concerned Veterans for America (CVA) released a report calling for extreme policy changes including privatization and tougher enrollment standards that if implemented under their scheme would make one-fifth of future veterans ineligible for care at any VA - oops.

Those radical policy proposals are widely unpopular with veteran groups like the American Legion and Paralyzed Veterans of America because they see and know what Bush doesn’t know: that privatizing their care does nothing to “empower” them – not one bit.

If Mr. Bush is smart and at this stage on this issue it appears he is not so bright, then he would check his facts before cashing in is/potential Koch check. JEB Bush it appears has fallen in line with no only the Kochs on this but right along side Rubio, Rand Paul, and a ton of many other Republicans.

Some of the proposed “reforms /changes are here from this fine article from USA TODAY that I have used for this posting. It is quite long but very detailed discussing the reform measure, that if enacted would affect some 22 million Veterans dramatically and especially about 8.5 million already enrolled with the VA for their care. Some of the impact:

•  Health care should be re-prioritized to focus on veterans with service-connected disabilities and specialized needs. Patients already in the VA medical system would retain their access and eligibility while gaining new options.  

•  All enrolled veterans would be able to continue using VA health facilities or shift to subsidized care through private providers. The government would pay a percentage of medical costs via insurance programs, with coverage levels determined by each veteran's eligibility status. (The VA already provides benefits based on tiered eligibility calculations.

•  Future veterans and those not already enrolled in VA health care would be required to enter a new VA insurance system with varying levels of coverage, and NOT all would qualify for subsidies.

•  Nearly one-fifth of future veterans — those in the lowest VA benefit levels (Priorities 7 and 8) would not be eligible under the new system at all.  

•  About 1.6 million patients now are rated in those two categories, but their benefits would be grandfathered. 

• The Veterans Health Administration, with 275,000 employees, would be divided. Half of it would morph into a non-profit government corporation that provides medical care in competition with private providers. The other half would oversee payments, or insurance coverage, for medical care on behalf of veterans using non-VA services.

By way of background, the VA today has the VA has 150 hospitals nationwide and about 820 clinics. The reform package also calls for the closure of inefficient medical centers and other facilities, similar to the shutdown of military installations under the controversial Base Realignment and Closure Act of 1990.

VA Secretary Robert McDonald could not attend the summit, but he issued a statement opposing the proposal, saying: “Unfortunately, many of today's proposals advocate 'contracting out' a sacred mission to care for those who have borne the battle *Lincoln’s words. There is an important role for outside care in the veteran health model to supplement VA's own care, but that role should not diminish or obscure the importance of VA's health care system. Reforming VA health care cannot be achieved by dismantling it and preventing veterans from receiving the specialized care and services that can only be provided by VA.”

Noteworthy is what Sen. John McCain described the task force report as “pretty radical stuff” but said he endorses the basic tenets. He rejected Secretary McDonald's criticism, saying in part: “What he is doing is binding the veterans only to VA health care and that is wrong (because) . bureaucratically, they are trying to circumvent the intent of the law.”

(Note: During a Q&A session, McCain was interrupted by a heckler who yelled, “Hey, John, how many lives could you have saved in Phoenix if ...?” – then McCain interrupted the man, which the CVA later identified as an Arizona resident, calling him a “jerk and declaring he would match his service for veterans to anyone else.” (So, Vets are jerks for asking questions.) What a deal.

Dr. Bill Frist (TN), the former GOP Senate majority leader and now a co-chair of the task force, said the VA has become an outdated organization that evolved by reacting to past problems rather than as a result of planning. He envisions the summit proposals as a new system that focuses on patient needs with accountability, flexibility, efficiency and cost controls saying in part: “Incremental change simply will not fix the system. We've got to change. ... It's all about modernization.”

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) told summit participants the VA “is simply buckling under the weight of its own bureaucracy, and that repairing the medical system for America's veterans is a measure of our honor as a society because we have an obligation to serve them with the same devotion they have served us – we owe it to them, and this system simply cannot provide it.”

The American Legion made clear in a statement Thursday that it would not back the plan, saying it opposes privatization and vouchers as a long-term solution. Additionally, no members of Congress have yet to sign up as sponsor of any reform bill thus far.

It is not immediately clear whether such a dramatic overhaul stands any chance of congressional passage, let alone endorsement from President Obama.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has endorsed the basic tenets advocated by the task force, saying: “Let's not be afraid to take the traditions of the past — why we created it — and apply them to a changing future.”

A backlash from some Veteran organizations, some lawmakers, some federal employee unions, and other groups is expected. They all basically argue that the proposed “Vets Care Choice Program” (VCCP, I guess it would be called) program would: (1) explode costs, (2) reduce benefits for some veterans, (3) privatize a system that the government should run and in fact since George Washington was CINC and said we must take care of our wounded soldiers, and (4) could also have coverage options that would bewilder elderly veterans and those with brain injuries, and PTSD.

The Task Force also included: former Rep. Jim Marshall, a Georgia Democrat and Purple Heart recipient, who had served as one of four co-chairmen in developing Fixing Veterans Health Care, then Frist, a lung surgeon; Dr. Michael Kussman, former VA under secretary for health; Avik Roy, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute's Center for Medical Progress (and BTW: a former Romney adviser); and  Sam Foote, the Phoenix veterans hospital physician who exposed health care failings before his retirement last year. 

The panel also stressed that the government needs to address dramatic declines projected in the veteran population — falling from 24 million in 2006 to an estimated 16 million by 2029.

Also, the report predicts that combined reforms would be revenue-neutral, (huge laugh here) though authors acknowledged the calculation is murky because the Veterans Health Administration failed to provide critical data on expenditures, or comparative costs for private and VA medical care.

The issue of VA shutdowns and closures: Very likely will generate local opposition and political fallout, but the report said closures would save money and eliminate inefficiencies, allowing for improved health care overall (odd: GOP-run things like this always worry about costs – except when they drag us into the next war).

About focus on cost: “How much is our freedoms worth?”

What has Congress done since the flap erupted? They passed the bipartisan Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act in 2014, which was signed into law. It set aside $16.3 billion to hire more caregivers and allow stonewalled patients to obtain private care, which is a good idea if the local VA are full or not able to offer the treatment – that is common sense reform – not total abandonment and handover to some Wall Street broker or Koch-supported entity.

However, some still say that piecemeal changes will not change the VA – I say: Why not – make the changes needed and hands off thing that work. 

GOP Rep. and Chairman Jeff Miller of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee (R-FL) said amid “the biggest scandal in VA history the department is struggling to change under congressional oversight, and if we don't take the opportunity to fix this very broken health care system today, then we may never get the opportunity again.” (That is scare tactics; not leadership, Mr. Miller).

Miller went on to devote much of his address to the VA's failure to fire any employees to date in connection with the crisis over delayed care and falsified appointment data, adding: “People are still asking the question: 'Where is the accountability?'” (He is right, but are firing needed)?

The report's summary said medical efficiency and care diminished even as the VA budget grew by $91 billion from 2006 to 2014, and as staffing increased by more than 100,000 despite a declining population of U.S. veterans.

And, so it begins. Big money at work for what? The betterment of the public’s best interests, or their bottom line? The answer I believe is self-evident.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Koch's "Wet Dream" View for America: Privatize It All — Even the VA

Washington Post Coverage

Koch-funded "Shadow Group" Behind the Move
(Concerned Veterans for America - CVA)

Palin Supports the Idea
(so, it must be a good deal, right)

The idea of privatizing the VA has been brewing for some time in GOP-conservative circles - watch this short clip and see for yourself.

This background here from Koch facts. It makes a good reference, so keep it handy with a bookmark - I have.

In all honesty, what the hell is it with the Koch brothers about buying and owning America? What a huge ego trip those two are on ... very disturbing and now a move on the VA.

Yes, the VA has issues, but those are leadership issues and supervision problems not medical problems per se ... overall Vet care is good, quite good in many places in fact. Just ask the Vets. Just don't ask FOX, Talk Radio, Palin, or the Koch brothers... you won't like their answers.

As retired Marine (VN-era infantry NCO and officer) I can say without hesitation, privatizing the VA wold be a huge huge mistake for a thousand reasons. Again, just ask the Vets like here and here.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Congress is Proud of their Shitty Poll Numbers - Why


It is amazing to me how this GOP-run Congress, and all members therein (from both sides), feel they must be involved in deals the White House makes, now like the Iranian nuclear deal, which is not even approved, and worse, regardless of the outcome. They just want to derail it and ensure that Mr. Obama takes the blame (which for this GOP is SOP).

Yet they have had over the last few years a JAR in the crapper as reflected above from Gallup.

So, it’s funny, if not totally pathetic, how those in office seem to never feel that they are part of the shitty poll results ... why is that??? (huge smile included).

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Corruption is Corruption Regardless of Place or Public Interest

The scales of political justice category
(the envelop please)

And, the winner is
(as if it weren't prearranged)

All that green and it's not even St. Pat's yet
(Albany, NY)

Quite a lengthy post, but one that needs public airing, for the "what's it worth department." Much has been taken here the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU.

Amid a never-ending parade of scandals, the New York State legislature and governor (Andrew Cuomo) recently agreed to the third set of ethics reforms in four years. But, the package barely touched the single biggest conflict of interest in Albany: The loophole-ridden campaign finance system.

It remains a system that allows special interests to dominate political discourse through nearly unlimited and often secret contributions of large sums of money to officeholders and their challengers. It is painfully obvious that those in office don’t want to kill the proverbial “Golden Goose” thus the culture of corruption feeds on big-money donations and never blinks an eye.

Heart of the story: With one stroke of the pen, three commissioners on New York’s Board of Elections (BOE) can help fix a major problem and close a huge loophole, to wit:

For years, good government groups and editorial boards have complained about the so-called “LLC loophole,” which allows special interests to funnel millions of dollars into campaigns anonymously. Some call it “the mother ship of Albany corruption.”

How it works: The BOE classifies LLC’s as individuals rather than “corporations” or “partnerships,” just like they are treated under Federal law (FEC). 

The conflict: While most corporations can give no more than $5,000 every year, LLC's can give hundreds of thousands of dollars and also never blink an eye.

Then worse gets worse: Individuals with multiple LLC's use them to evade contribution limits entirely while giving more and more. Even worse, if that's possible: LLC's do not have to disclose the identities of their members or officers, thus the public is kept in the dark and has no idea who is behind those huge sums of money that is uncontrolled and basically running the show.

One extreme yet typical example: A prominent real-estate developer reportedly used 27 LLC’s to contribute at least $4.3 million to political committees in the last election cycle. In recent years, he used other LLC's to give over $1 million to both the New York State Senate Republican Campaign Committee and to Gov. Cuomo reelection bid as well and to a substantial amount to recently indicted and former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

For those who think that kind of money doesn’t buy results, then they need to think again since they are either totally jaded in their thinking and seriously cynical, or just simply not paying much attention as they brush it off with the old cliché: “Just politics as usual.” No problem some say – maybe not, until it is!!  

Common Cause New York tracks this aspect very closely. They noted back 2013, that a trail of special favors won a lot and and bills unfavorable were killed on arrival in the Legislature.”

So, you might ask: “How did the Legislature get away with creating this kind of loophole?” Well, they didn’t, not exactly. The the Board of Elections did, and they it got it terribly wrong.

For example, back in a 1996 opinion, the BOE reasoned (loose word it seems) that because the statute creating LLC’s called them “unincorporated organizations, and that they were not corporations or partnerships and thus not bound by the corporate contribution or partnership limits.”  This little loophole ignored the rest of the statute and past precedent and here we are today still stuck on stupid as it were. Worse again, the BOE while making that decision they relied on a FEC rule that was changed just three years later, but the NY's BOE law and rule with that loophole remain in place.

Now, it’s high time and well past time to change that.

Gov. Cuomo and the Legislature failed to bring that into play with the latest "ethics reform," which I strongly believe is precisely the most-needed ethics and campaign finance reform Albany needs

With one simple vote, the Board of Elections can close that LLC loophole, curb unlimited campaign donations, and bring more disclosure to New York politics and open up the process the way it should have been all along.

It's an easy call foe the BOE. So now what will they do? Sadly, probably punt!!!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Schumer on Thin Ice With Backstabbing: He Needs to "Cease & Desist"

Schumer in March 2010 Speech: "I am the guardian of Israel..."

The coup de grâce for President Obama
(Not even the Ides of March, either (L: Idus Martiae)

Second Update: More on the Schumer backstabbing of the President and his undermining of the Iranian nuclear framework process from Talking Points Memo here:

Schumer stated in a release to Politico: “This is a very serious issue that deserves careful consideration, and I expect to have a classified briefing in the near future. I strongly believe Congress should have the right to disapprove any agreement and I support the Corker bill which would allow that to occur.”

However, the bigger and more key question is "… how hard Schumer will push his Democratic colleagues to stand with him against the White House on a grave matter encompassing war and peace.”

The Coker proposed legislation right now has 66 Senate supporters — which is one vote shy of a veto-proof 67 majority — including 12 Democrats, some of whom have qualified their support. Schumer's office wouldn't discuss his internal role in the matter but other Senate Democratic aides close to the Iran debate said he could be important.

One DEM aide said about Schumer: “I think he votes for the tough Iran measures that the White House won't love. A no vote would be a really hard for him.”

Another DEM aide said: “It's just counter to who he represents and to his history. And I don't think being the Democratic leader-in-waiting changes that, but I think he's crafty enough that if there were Democrats on the fence, will he make them feel like they can vote no if he's voting yes? Maybe. I think it'll come down to how close you are to 67.”

His “history of who he support?”  - ha … well, let’s review for he has said repeatedly that he is (in his words, not mine): “[….] a Guardian of Israel as long as I’m in the Senate.” 

That is a direct slap in the face of Mr. Obama plus a dangerous path for him to be on. Schumer is a United States senator from New York, not a guardian of Israel.  

It is painfully obvious to anyone that Schumer is defending Israel at all costs, no matter the outcome or reason to include potentially world peace in the ME if in fact Iran can be stopped from producing a nuclear weapon of any kind... defending Israel in time of war or turmoil it right and just - this approach by Schumer is wrong and unjust!!

If Schumer persists in this stance by being a "Guardian of Israel" and to hell with diplomacy, then he deserves to be challenged for reelection  and in fact, deserves to lose his seat on this paramount important issue, plus a few other key issues. That challenger might very well be me since I feel so strongly about this issue and his very demeaning and simply wrong approach. 

In short, the way Schumer is backstabbing the President at this early stage of the Iranian nuclear framework talk the way he is underscores my contention that he needs to leave the Senate along with Harry Reid, and the sooner the better.

First UPDATE:  Clip here from MSNBC (about 10 minutes) .... folks this is getting serious and I think not in a positive direction ... decide for yourself (link is here). And, also here from MSNBC (later clip specifically about Mr. Schumer)

Original post starts from here: I know his intent in the March 2010 AIPAC speech, but Mr. Schumer: You are not the guardian of Israel ... you are the guardian of the United States and New York State. 

He addressed the AIPAC crowd and he did not disappoint the crowd, urging backing for legislation that would immediately impose sanctions on Iran. He the noted that his name is a derivative of the Hebrew “shomer - or guardian of Israel,” and then he concluded by pledging to guard the security of the Jews and Israel as the while he was in the Senate.  

He also said that God, himself, had deputized him to be Israel's man in the Senate and concluding in his own words: “You know, my name comes from the word Shomer: Guardian, watcher. My ancestors were guardians of the ghetto wall in Chortkov. And I believe Hashem [Orthodox word for God] actually gave me that name for that reason. One of my roles, very important in the United States senate, is to be a Shomer -- to be the “Shomer Yisrael” GUARDIAN OF ISRAEL, and I will continue to be that with every bone in my body ... as long as I’m the United States Senate.”

Now the nuclear framework deal: Schumer, the one expected to lead the Democrats in the Senate after Harry Reid retires is very much at odds with the Obama administration on Congress’ role in accepting a deal with Iran.

President Obama view, has stated congress has a role, adding: “My hope is that we can find something that allows Congress to express itself but does not encroach on traditional presidential prerogatives.”

Schumer released a statement saying that Congress should get behind legislation proposed by Republican Bob Corker that would give Congress approval power on a deal.

He said in part: “This is a very serious issue that deserves careful consideration, and I expect to have a classified briefing in the near future. I strongly believe Congress should have the right to disapprove any agreement and I support the Corker bill which would allow that to occur.”  

Flashback to 2013: Schumer expressed his disappointment in a deal reached then about their nuclear program. At the time, he said, “The disproportionately of this agreement makes it more likely that Democrats and Republicans will join together and pass additional sanctions when we return in December.”

Three points: (1) Schumer is a media hog and will attack any topic with or with rational thought and who stays in office with a ton of Wall Street money, (2) he does not deserve to be the Senate DEM  leader, period, and (3) if the final agreement were a treaty, then yes, the Senate would be involved to ratify it or not, but not this type of a deal. Schumer should know better.

Finally, if Schumer is a guardian of anything as he says, then need I remind him that he is a guardian of and for the United States and all Americans and all of New York, and not for Israel. He surely can support them, yes as our main ally in the ME, but that he is not his primary duty to be a guardian for them the way he described his role in the Senate.

I have been offended by those remarks and implications of his words.

No matter what, it must always be: America and Americans first, then rest of the world. That is 100% imperative!!..

Related Topics: The situation from the BBC

More Background

Monday, April 6, 2015

Hateful and Mean GOP is Frightened of Any Possible Obama Success

No Matter the Issue: GOP Will Turn 180° Due South to Resist Obama
(and especially health care)

Biggest GOP Goal: Stymie Nuclear Non-Proliferation Talks with Iran

From Yahoo News and various sources:

President Obama is appealing to Congressional lawmakers to reconsider their proposed contentious legislation giving them Congress a say-so (final say-so some GOPers want) on the final Iran nuclear deal that is hopefully forthcoming after the framework talks that just concluded in Switzerland.  One of the co-authors of a bill (Sen. Corker (R-TN) vowed to hold a key vote next week. 

Mr. Obama said recently in a NY Times interview with Tom Friedman that the newly agreed framework of a nuclear deal with Iran represented a ”once in a lifetime opportunity” to prevent Tehran from acquiring a nuclear weapon and move toward stabilizing the Middle East, then adding: “I've been very clear that Iran will not get a nuclear weapon on my watch, and I think they should understand that we mean it. But I say that hoping that we can conclude this diplomatic arrangement – and that it ushers a new era in US-Iranian relations – and, just as importantly, over time, a new era in Iranian relations with its neighbors.”

Mr. Obama also cautioned there are many details that still need to be worked out with the Iranians and there would be “real political difficulties” in implementing an agreement in both countries as he reiterated his opposition to legislation that would give Congress final say in approving or rejecting a deal, but added that he hoped to find a path to allow Congress to “express itself” and not necessarily approve any final deal short of a formal treaty that the Senate would have to ratify or not.

Corker said on FOX naturally – the PR arm of the GOP that Congress would exercise its “rightful role to scrutinize and approve any agreement to curb Iran's nuclear program in exchange for lifting international sanctions,” adding: “It's very important that Congress is in the middle of this, understanding, teasing out, asking those important questions."

Corker's office also said that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee would vote on April 14 on the review legislation but that even amid sustained opposition from the White House, that the Senate is two or three votes shy of the 67 needed to override any Presidential veto.

I would have to say that this threat by the Senate is just about as bad as seeing one man in Iran, the Ayatollah (Ali Khamenei) being the final say-so for them. These two clashing things could make the situation worse and the whole issue could get real shitty real fast and for what: world peace and less nukes or pitiful, raw GOP politics with the purpose to sustain their hatred for any success that Mr. Obama might achieve while he is still in office?

Ha …the answer to that is painfully obvious.


  1. The P5 nations (U.S., UK, France, China, and Russia) + 1 (Germany) have until June 30 to agree on all the details of a final deal with Iran before anything is signed. 
  2. Apart from the Senate rattling their swords, there are also comes concerns to handle from Arab allies who are skeptical about a possible agreement (i.e., Saudi Arabia – a long time foe of Iran).    
  3. Mr. Obama has invited leaders of six Gulf nations to Washington this spring saying he wants to “formalize” U.S. assistance with them in exchange, I guess, for their support of a final agreement since it primarily benefits them in the hot-bed region.
  4. These nuclear talks are a remarkable shift in the frozen relationship between the U.S. and Iran. Now, hopefully it is becoming normal for officials from both countries to communicate and hold face-to-face meetings even though Mr. Obama has not yet met with Iranian President Hasan Rouhani, although they did speak on the phone, and Mr. Obama has exchanged letters with Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. 
  5. Khamenei allowed the negotiators to make concessions in the nuclear talks and that suggests that he realizes that the sanctions on Iran have and would continue to weaken them over the long term, and that Iran wants to see themselves back in the world community, then there were going to have to be changes, perhaps distasteful to the U.S. and Iran, but for world stability and fewer nuclear weapons. 
All this, it seems to me, should remain the most-critical part of any deal despite crappy jockeying for silly-ass political reasons or gain under any label. Time will tell – it could go either way.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Sorry, Mr. and Mrs. Gee Old Poops: Armageddon Has Been Cancelled

Obama Scores Another Achievement: GOP Goes Bananas 

Dateline: RNC HQ. "Gawd, what do we do now for 2016??"

Pop Quiz: How do you know when you are too harsh and too rabid of a GOP-Conservative?  

Um ... for starters, when you believe and trust and subscribe to this stuff:

For the GOP crowd that believes war is always the answer, today's announcement represents an utter catastrophe. While it remains to be seen if the framework will lead to a viable and enduring agreement ahead of a June 30 deadline, a whole bunch of conservatives have already concluded that the framework is a complete failure, perhaps even an invitation to Armageddon.

And these top three from here:

What’s interesting about some of the Republican responses so far, though, is that much of the criticism focuses not on the nuclear issue itself but on Iran’s broader role in the Middle East.

  1. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) infamous letter writer again writes: “These concessions also do nothing to stop or challenge Iran’s outlaw behavior. Iran remains the world’s worst state sponsor of terrorism. Iranian aggression is destabilizing the Middle East. And Iran continues to hold multiple Americans hostage.” 
  2. Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) now Israel said: “After visiting with our partners on the ground in the Middle East this week, my concerns about Iran’s efforts to foment unrest, brutal violence and terror have only grown.” 
  3. Even  the deal was announced, when things weren’t looking good, but turned okay, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said the faltering talks demonstrated that: “Any hope that a nuclear deal will lead Iran to abandon its decades-old pursuit of regional dominance through violence and terror is simply delusional.” 
Gloom and doom – the new GOP mandate.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Local Troops Deploying Back to Iraq: Will We Win Wider War

1st BDE, 10th Mountain Division (Fort Drum, NY): Heading Back to Iraq
(Salute and Follow Orders: Aye, aye, sir)

SecDef Ashton Carter Speaking at Fort Drum Recently
(Making the deployment announcement)

About 1,250 soldiers from the division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team will deploy in August or September to train, advise and assist the Iraqi security forces as they battle the Islamic State. The deployment will last nine months.

They will replace soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division.

While there, as we Marines (my generation in Vietnam) were fond of saying when we were about ready to deploy into a war zone and engage in combat: 

“Watch your 6 o'clock.” (all troops know what that means).

We wish them good luck and a safe return home – all of them

Monday, March 30, 2015

Does ACA (Obama-care) Cover GOP Mental Health Pre-Condition

Hard to Dispute this Isn't It???
(Seen on the Colbert Report)

GOP Takes a Page from FDR
(LOL LOL Guffaw)

Introduction: A few tell-tale signs of GOP mental illness (over the years) (a few more below):

(1)  Denial: Humans did not evolve.
(2)  Denial Double Down: Obama is not a native-born American Christian.
(3)  Delusional: Climate is not changing and if so, not human caused.
(4)  Hallucinations Galore: God ordained me to run and be President.
(5)  Disordered Thinking:  Being for small government and big business but mandating a
woman’s health care is okay.
(6)  Anti-social Behavior: Being against most women’s rights; gays and their rights; minority voting rights; anyone without big fat trust.
(7)  Sexual Preoccupation: A fixed and fervent compulsion to control when we can mate with whom and how.

Conservative media is a fear-based industry without doubt.

That statement is no surprise, yet it is a carefully crafted messages are blasted over the airwaves and in print wherein most Republicans believe that President Obama is the most immediate threat to the country (worse than Putin, Assad, or even ISIS to hear their comparisons).

Their massage is clearly anti-Obama dealing about him being a threat to us is delivered daily and hourly (and even on repeated and the "best of "shows on the weekend), on almost all conservative websites, Talk Shows, and especially from the  hate industry leader: FOX News.

Spreading fear of and about our first black president has become a very productive and good-paying industry with a lot of people earning tons of money by scaring Republican listeners (e.g., Limbaugh and Hannity to name two who are well-paid and effective in their nasty daily messages).

The reality is that most Republicans, namely the conservative and ultra-conservative TEA bases, are terrified of Mr. Obama - the President who signed into law a bill that lowers the cost of health care (CBO says so, to); saved the economy from a 1929 style depression that started in 2008 (just before he took office); and actually has cut taxes for millions of Americans; and oh yes, got bin-Laden.

If any Republican president had accomplished those tasks, conservatives would be calling for him to be added to Mount Rushmore, but their fear trumps logic along with common sense and decency of or about Mr. Obama. 

The good he has done is never talked about and seldom mentioned and any are, the GOP puts a negative spin on them as well, like: Yes, health care is important, but it costs too damn much. Um … do they remember the cost before the ACA?  They truly suffer from selective memory loss or I’d have to say a failure to remember. The sad part, Republicans also spread terror about what Mr. Obama might do, like:.

  • Obama is creating death panels.
  • Obama is coming for your guns.
  • Obama was not born in America.
  • Obama has a chip on his shoulder.
  • Obama hates white people and white America.
  • Obama is telling you what you can and can’t do.
  • Obama will steal our freedoms and liberty for Islam.
These are the kinds of messages we have heard even before he was sown in to office on January 20, 2009 and worse now that he won a second term despite Mitch McConnell’s pledge to make him a “one-term president.”

Worse, the Republican base believes this stuff and they joyfully elect people with those same views. It is safe to say that Republican fear of President Obama has become their collective mental disorder. That is the major reason very little gets done in Washington as Republicans tell him to cooperate and reach out to them all the while they disregard those words.

This is a medical fact but with no known Rx for the cure.