Sunday, March 31, 2013

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Quick Fact(s) - Wasting Time With the Senate, the House and the RNC

1.   Wasting time in the Senate
Earlier this month, the Senate voted on a non-controversial resolution commemorating International Women's Day.  Resolutions of this sort require a unanimous vote and similar resolutions have been passed each March without much comment.  This year, the resolution presented to the Senate had to be edited after Ted Cruz (R-Texas) objected to a phrase that referred to women in developing countries as being "disproportionately affected by changes in climate because of their need to secure water, food and fuel for their livelihood".

A nearly identical phrase was included in last year's Senate resolution; but Mr. Cruz, in his first opportunity to vote on such a document, objected because "A provision expressing the Senate's views on such a controversial topic as 'climate change' has no place in a supposedly noncontroversial resolution requiring consent of all 100 U.S. senators".

Can this man seem any more ridiculous?  His conscience wouldn't allow him to vote for the resolution because it contained the words "changes in climate"?  What a waste of time, all to feed one man's out-sized ego.  Makes me wish for the days of Poppy Bush, when Republicans didn't demonize environmental science and during whose administration Congress passed the nation's first Clean Air Act with overwhelming Republican support.

And, really, how can we even begin to discuss an issue--no matter which side you take--if we cannot even utter the words identifying the subject?

2.   Wasting time in the House
 Last Wednesday, while Democrats held a news conference to celebrate the third anniversary of the passage of the ACA, the House spent their time voting on yet another measure that would dismantle the act.  

I guess we should give them points for persistence, but even a dog eventually realizes that all the meat is gone off his favorite bone.

3.   Wasting time with the RNC
The Republican National Committee has voted to spend $10M on an "aggressive marketing campaign" designed to reach out to minorities and women in order to educate them on "what it means to be Republican".

Thank you, but as a woman, my place in your world view has been clear for some time.  No need to spend anything on me, thank you.  As for minorities, Republican attempts to pass restrictive voting laws before last year's presidential election speaks pretty plainly to your position there too.  

But, hey, if you want to waste $10M, go ahead and knock yourself out.  Just remember that your money isn't going to make your actions any less egregious.

Friday, March 29, 2013

The Republican Party's War on Women, the North Dakota Front

This is the second in a series of articles on the subject of women, abortion rights and the Republican Party. 

Republicans continue to say that they don’t have to change their core principles, they only have to change the language they use to get their message out.  One perception that they want to alter is the idea that they are running a “war on women”.  Looking at the news over the past few years, I’d say the Republican Party has a long way to go on this subject.

  • Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky): “Talk about a manufactured issue.  There is no issue.” 
  • RNC Chairman Reince Priebus:  “It’s a fiction.”

The War in North Dakota

the facts:   First, I want to note that North Dakota has one, and only one, abortion clinic in the entire state.  

Last week, the North Dakota state legislature passed a bill that would ban abortion after 20 weeks.  This week, they passed three additional anti-abortion bills.  One bans any abortion based on gender selection, a second bans any abortion based on birth defect.
My views on those first two bans are pretty grey--though I’ll admit that it might not take much to bring me to the conservative side of the argument on abortion based on gender selection--but in the end, it is not my decision and should definitely not be the decision of some stranger in my state capital, someone I’ve never met and who knows nothing about me or my family.
A third bill bans any abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected.  While the heartbeat bill does not state what method would be used to check for a heartbeat, members of the legislature acknowledge that they are aware that an intrusive vaginal probe could detect a heartbeat as early as 6 weeks after conception…earlier than some women would even know they are pregnant.

Republican Governor Jack Dalrymple signed all three abortion bills into law on Tuesday, March 26.  When asked about the constitutionality of the bills, Mr Dalrymple replied:  “Although the likelihood of this measure surviving a court challenge remains in question, this bill is nevertheless a legitimate attempt by a state legislature to discover the boundaries of Roe v. Wade." 
So the Governor acknowledges that the bills he signed into law are probably unconstitutional under federal law, but he is willing to spend time and resources to push the envelope anyway, while in the meantime, making the women of his state subject to emotional and physical hardship that he may or may not have had any right to impose. 
And just in case anyone would mistake the North Dakota legislature’s stand on abortion as too liberal, they also passed a resolution that defines life as beginning at conception, essentially banning any abortion in the state.  This measure will be put to the citizens of North Dakota on a November 2014 ballot.
I can’t help but think that if our politicians--and in this case I mean Republican politicians--would spend less time trying to circumvent laws that already exist, we’d be seeing a lot more progress in this country.

The Republican War on Women is "fiction"?


Thursday, March 28, 2013

Words of Wisdom by Will Ferrell

what eye thynk:   After spending two days writing about Proposition 8, DOMA and the Supreme Court and then spending this morning writing about a gun legislation filibuster, I find Will Ferrell's take on these issues to be a perfect coda.

Filibuster Warning!

Senators Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) hand delivered a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s office on Tuesday to tell him they planned to filibuster any gun control legislation he presents.

“We will oppose the motion to proceed to any legislation that will serve as a vehicle for any additional gun restrictions.”

what eye thynk:   You want to oppose gun legislation, fine.   Vote”No”!  But you have no right to stop another Senator from voting his opinion.  You have no right to keep this issue from being decided by the full Senate.  

Your threats are nothing but a childish piece of theater, more about making news than about making progress.  The fact that you announced your intentions to the media the day before delivering your letter just proves my point.  

You came to the Senate to make a difference.  If your interpretation of making a difference is to stand in the way of any progress at all, then you're doing a bang up job. But the rest of us wish you would just sit down, shut up and let the adults in Congress get back to work.

And Now We Wait

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Down with Doma! It's Not About Religion.

Today, the Supreme Court is hearing arguments for and against the Defense of Marriage Act.  President Obama calls this act, signed by Bill Clinton 16 years ago, unconstitutional and lawyers from the Justice Department will be arguing against it.  The Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group--which is, despite its name, a Republican led organization--was tapped to defend DOMA and the Republican led House voted funds to cover their case.

what eye thynk:  I am amazed that it took 16 years for DOMA to be argued in the Supreme Court.  It would seem to be so patently discriminatory that I can't believe it was ever signed into law in the first place. 

And I wish, (how weak that word seems right now), that our country's conservative religious community would butt out of this.  DOMA is not a religious issue.  Can you imagine the outrage if Congress passed a law saying all religions must perform same sex marriages?  The United States foundation in separation of church and state would be argued in every pulpit.  How is the reverse any less valid?

Gay and lesbian couples who want to marry are not trying to take away anyone's God, they are not trying to take away anyone's right to view God as they choose.  If a church believes that same sex marriage is wrong and wants to ban it, the separation of church and state should give that church the right to do so.  

Inversely, no church should be permitted to force other institutions to conform to its canons.  If federal government does not have the right to tell a church how to practice its religion, why should any church have the right to tell the federal government how to write laws?  Why should any church have the right to tell a same sex couple that they cannot legally be married by a Justice of the Peace, by a lay minister or by a church that is accepting.

The right to marry is a legal issue dealing with the rights of two individuals who are asking nothing more than equal protection under our law--the right to tax advantages we provide to heterosexual couples, the right to add a spouse to an insurance policy, the right to visit a hospitalized partner, the right to make decisions for a partner as next of kin, the right to inherit as next of kin, the right of guardianship of children.  The right to stand up and say "This is the person I love". These are simple, every day rights that heterosexual couples expect and accept every day, without thinking about them.

It is time our country recognizes that, just as one person may prefer pink over green, city over country or Art Deco over Jacobean, some people prefer same over different--and our constitution gives them that right.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Do the Right Thing!

The Supreme Court is hearing arguments on California's Proposition 8 today.

what eye thynk:   Please, please, please, please, please.....

Monday, March 25, 2013

March 25 - Monday Quote

Instead of a written quote today, I want to quote John Lennon's song Imagine and share this video.  To me, it speaks both to the gun reform debates and the Proposition 8/DOMA cases before the Supreme Court this week.  Enjoy.

monday quote:  Imagine. (song by John Lennon, musician/songwriter 1940-1980)

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Eye Recommend -- The G.O.P.'s Bachmann Problem

THE G.O.P.'S BACHMANN PROBLEM, by Charles H. Blow --

Mr. Blow begins his article by pointing out the intramural squabbles that seem epidemic in the Republican Party since last November.  He points out the name calling between John McCain, Paul Rand and Ted Cruz, Ann Coulter’s tacky digs at Chris Christie and his absence from the CPAC speaker schedule and the public spat between Sarah Palin and Karl Rove.   Donald Trump also gets a mention.

He goes on to compare the modern Republican Party with the Democratic Party during the McCarthy years, citing politicians like Michele Bachmann as the cause.

It makes for some very entertaining reading.

“But all this name-calling, as fun as it is to watch, is just a sideshow.  The main show is the underlying agitation.

The Republican Party is experiencing an existential crisis, born of its own misguided incongruity with modern American culture and its insistence on choosing intransigence in a dynamic age of fundamental change."
Sorry to break in here, but I have to applaud that sentence.  It may be the most efficient and intelligent use of vocabulary to explain the modern Republican Party...ever.  I am in awe.
"Instead of turning away from obsolescence, it is charging headlong into it, becoming more strident and pushing away more voters whom it could otherwise win.

Andrew Kohut, the founding director of the Pew Research Center, pointed out in The Washington Post on Friday that the party's ratings 'now stand at a 20-year low', and that is in part because 'the outsize influence of hard-line elements in the party base is doing to the G.O.P. what supporters of Gene McCarthy...did to the Democratic Party in the late 1960s and early 1970s...

...And too many of those hard-liners have a near-allergic reaction to the truth.

A prime example is Michele Bachmann...

...Last year The Washington Post quoted Jim Drinkard, who oversees fact-checking at The Associated Press, as saying, 'We had to have a self-imposed Michele Bachmann quota in some of those (presidential primary) debates.'

It's sad when you are so fact-challenged that you burn out the fact-checkers.

People like Bachmann represent everything that is wrong with the Republican Party.  She and her colleagues are hyperbolic, reactionary, ill-informed and ill-intentioned, and they have become synonymous with the Republican brand. We don't need all politicians to be Mensa-worthy, but we do expect them to be cogent and competent.

When all the dust settles from the current dustup within the party over who holds the mantle and which direction to take, Republicans will still be left with the problem of what to do with people like Bachmann.

And as long as the party has Bachmanns, it has a problem.”

Saturday, March 23, 2013

It is Time to Speak Out Against a Congress That Worships at the Altar of NRA Money

An independent Quinnipiac University nationwide poll was conducted on March 7 to measure public support for universal background checks for gun buyers.  The results show that 88% of all respondents support a law calling for universal background checks; 10% are opposed.  Support among gun owners was 85% in support with 13% opposed.

A sampling of statewide results show even stronger support:  
Florida              all polled 91% support, 8% opposed -- gun owners 88% support, 11% opposed 
Connecticut      all polled 93% support, 6% opposed -- gun owners 89% support, 9% opposed
Ohio                 all polled 90% support, 8% opposed -- gun owners 86% support, 12% opposed
Pennsylvania    all polled 95% support, 5% opposed -- gun owners 95% support, 4% opposed
New Jersey       all polled 96% support, 3% opposed -- gun owners 95% support, 7% opposed
Virginia            all polled 92% support, 7% opposed -- gun owners 91% support, 7% opposed

 McClatch-Marist released their nationwide poll earlier this month showing similar results:  84% of Americans in support of universal background checks, including 81% of gun owners.

what eye thynk:   And still, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says he is undecided about including universal background checks in the bill he will present to the full Senate because of a lack of support from Republican Senators.  

And House Speaker John Boehner, after first saying that we should be doing “real background check(s) on everyone”, had his office issue a statement saying that he “misspoke”.

When even gun owners come out as overwhelmingly in support of universal background checks and still our Senators and Representatives voice their opposition, it speaks to me of a government no longer by the people, for the people; but instead one paid for by the money, for the money. 

I have not been personally touched by gun violence.  I can only imagine the pain and frustration experienced by those who have when their government turns a deaf ear; when poll after poll shows that the American people recognize and support the need for universal background checks but still Congress--the same men and women we elected to represent us and our opinions--cannot bring itself to recognize the people’s voice, choosing instead to follow NRA money.  

Please, this issue is too important to let money out-shout us.  Let your congressman or woman know that you support gun reform including universal background checks. Congressional contact information for all states can be found here:


Friday, March 22, 2013

Eye Recommend --- Boehner (Briefly) Supports "Real Background Checks on Everyone"


"House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) sat down with CNN's Jake Tapper (on Wednesday), and their discussion turned to the Sandy Hook shootings.  The host asked about the Speaker and his emotional reaction 'as a dad', and Boehner replied with a complaint about President Obama.

'Our hearts go out to those who are victims of Sandy Hook, or these other mass shootings', Boehner said.  'I would hope the president would have focused on the bigger problem, you know, violence in our society.'

It led to this interesting exchange:

TAPPER:  Do you think background checks, improving background checks might be part of that?

BOEHNER:  They should actually do a real background check on everyone.

It was unexpected response.  After all, a policy that requires real background checks on everyone is the centerpiece of President Obama's efforts to combat gun violence, and it's an idea that enjoys overwhelming support from Americans.  But Republicans and the NRA continue to strongly oppose the policy, making Boehner's respsonse on national television a pleasant surprise.

Alas, it was a fleeting development.  Tapper later reported that the Speaker's office said Boehner misspoke."
The NRA must have been dialing Boehner's number before he finished his last word...and Boehner crumbled.  Again.  Wouldn't it have been refreshing if Mr. Boehner--instead of making the easy politic decision to back down--stood up and told his party why he supports universal background checks?  Maybe, just maybe, his explanation could persuade some members of his party to stand with him on this common sense issue and to finally tell the NRA that enough is enough. You don't get everything you want.  We stand for the people.
Mr. Benen goes on to give other examples of Boehner's penchant for backing away from previous statements--including those he made on tax increases and oil company subsidies--in order to re-align himself with his handlers.  It is an interesting look at Mr. Boehner's brand of "leadership".
"But the Speaker seems to realize soon after that he's the nation's highest-ranking Republican officeholder, and reasonable positions on controversial issues put his career in jeopardy, so he keeps having to explain that he doesn't really mean what he says."

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Eye Recommend --- Senate Gun Bill Will Exclude Assault Weapons Ban


This article appeared in print and digital editions under different titles. 
 The underlines are mine.

"Senate Democrats plan to introduce after the Easter recess a bill widely supported by both parties that would increase the penalties for people who buy guns for those barred from having them, known as straw purchasing.  But Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, told (Dianne) Feinstein on Monday that her assault weapons ban would not be included in the bill...

...This month, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed four pieces of gun legislation: the straw purchasing measure, the assault weapons ban, which included limits on gun magazine sizes, a grant program for school security and enhanced background checks for gun buyers..."

  • Because not all of these proposed regulations have enough votes to avoid the filibuster, Mr. Reid now plans to introduce only the straw purchasing measure to the full Senate.  

"...(The bill) may be expanded to include the enhanced background checks.  But Mr. Reid is weighing the relative merits of bringing that measure to the floor, which for now has limited support from Republicans.

Mr. Reid said he would allow the assault weapons ban and limits on magazine sizes to be offered as amendments, Ms. Feinstein said...

...But a bill that is limited to stemming straw purchases would be all but certain to enrage groups that have been seeking broader legislation.  They want measures that would make it more difficult for criminals and mentally ill people to obtain firearms and would limit the size of magazines.

If Mr. Reid considers only the straw purchasing measure, it is likely that senators who favor gun rights will offer a flood of pro-gun amendments...which could essentially turn a bill intended to strengthen gun regulations into one that enhances gun rights.

Mr. Reid must also weigh whether to add a provision that would extend background checks to private sales of guns...While that idea has broad support among Democrats and some Republicans, many oppose it because it would require the same record-keeping that is done by gun stores..."

  • And without record-keeping, what would be the point?  We just take their word for it that a background check was done?  How effective do you think that would be?  New York State now requires background checks and record keeping at all gun shows.  The New York Times investigated several gun shows last month and found that they were compliant with the new requirement. Gun show organizers, gun sellers and gun buyers reported very few problems.  So it can be done!

"...As it stands, the assault weapons ban will probably still receive a vote as an amendment to the underlying package, as will a separate measure that would limit magazine sizes to 10 rounds..."

  • These amendments have little chance of getting 60 votes.  The least we can say is that we will have a record of which Senators value their NRA money over the safety of the people.

"...'The enemies on this are very powerful,' Ms. Feinstein said, referring to the National Rifle Association. 'I've known that all my life.'"

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Republican Party's War on Women, the Arkansas Front

This is the first in a series of articles on the subject of women, abortion rights and the Republican Party.  What I am planning is to lay out some facts to show what is going on in our more conservatively run states and to demonstrate how women's lives are affected.

Republicans continue to say that they don’t have to change their core principles, they only have to change the language they use to get their message out.  One perception that they want to alter is the idea that they are running a “war on women”.  Looking at the news over the past few years, I’d say the Republican Party has a long way to go on this subject.

  • Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky): “Talk about a manufactured issue.  There is no issue.” 
  • RNC Chairman Reince Priebus:  “It’s a fiction.”

The War in Arkansas

the facts:   February 18, 2013 - The Republican led Arkansas General Assembly became the 10th state to ban abortion after 20 weeks.  Governor Mike Beebe (D) vetoed the bill, but the legislature voted to override his veto.  The 20 week ban is in clear violation of federal law which says that abortion is legal up to the time a fetus would be viable outside the womb with viability determined by the medical community.  Doctors say this would be at around 24 weeks.  

  • Apparently, Republicans get an medical degree when they join the Party since they obviously know more about fetal viability than any licensed M.D.

March 6, 2013 - Jason Rapert (R) decided that the 20 week ban wasn’t extreme enough so he introduced a bill banning abortions at 12 weeks.  Again, it was passed, then vetoed by the governor and returned to the state assembly where they voted to override the veto. The veto was recorded and the ban became law at 2:11 CST.

At 4:40 CST, just hours after the 12 week bill passed, Mr. Rapert was back at the podium introducing a bill to defund Planned Parenthood in Arkansas.  “We are going to take this country back for conservatism.  And we are not going to allow minorities to run roughshod over what the people believe.”

  • With his unfortunate choice of words, Mr. Rapert seems to imply that minorities are not people.  Freud would love this.
  • So these Republicans would deny the women in Arkansas not only access to perfectly legal and safe abortion, but also access to any preventative health care?

The Republican War on Women is "fiction"?


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Quick Fact - Nevada Looking to Join the Marriage Equality Train

Nevada has begun the process to legalize same sex marriage in that state. 

State Senator Tick Segerblom, (D) has introduced a resolution that would repeal the Nevada constitution's section identifying marriage as only between a man and a woman.  The resolution is expected to pass.  It then must pass the state legislature again next year before it can be put on a the 2016 ballot, making the decision to accept same sex marriage up to the people of Nevada.

It's a long process, but I'm always happy to see another state recognize that marriage inequality is bigotry, and bigotry is wrong.

Monday, March 18, 2013

March 18 - Monday Quote

For myself, I have to agree.  And I know there are a lot of members of the Over Fifty Club in Congress, and I don't see them getting any smarter either.  

monday quote:  The older I grow the more I distrust the familiar doctrine that age brings wisdom. (H.L. Mencken, writer, 1880-1956)

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Rob Portman Supports Marriage Equality. What Took Him So Long?

Senator Rob Portman, (R-Ohio), announced on Friday that he now supports marriage equality for those in the LGBT community.  Mr. Portman said that he is changing his stance on same sex marriage in support of his son, Will, who told his parents two years ago that he is gay.

what eye thynk:  So the only way a Republican can empathize with someone who is “different” is to be personally affected by that difference?  Considering how few Republican members of Congress are poor or middle class, this would explain their rush to discount the value of those fighting to keep their heads above water when considering budget cuts.

To be fair, there are just as many millionaires on the Democratic side of the congressional aisle, but they seem to be able to remember that not everyone is so blessed.  Maybe it’s something they put in the Republican drinking fountain.  

And it took Mr. Portman two years to decide his son should be treated equally?  I applaud his change of heart.  It’s not easy to stand up to your peers and tell them they’re wrong, but two years?  That’s kind of sad.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Eye Recommend --- Partisan Politics and Gun Violence

PARTISAN POLITICS AND GUN VIOLENCE, by the New York Times Editorial Board --

"Three months after the Newtown, Conn., school massacre, the Senate Judiciary Committee has finally produced three major bills that could each make a significant difference in lowering the number and firepower of guns on the street and keeping them out of the wrong hands.  But they have a deeply uncertain future as they head to the Senate floor, underscored by the utterly partisan split in the committee votes.

A bill to ban assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines:  10 Democrats voted yes, eight Republicans voted no.  A bill to require background checks on buyers in all gun sales, including from private sellers:  10 Democrats voted yes, eight Republicans voted no.  A bill to stop illegal trafficking of firearms:  10 Democrats and one Republican voted yes, seven Republicans voted no.

Many Republicans claim to share the national concern over unabated violence, but, as the committee hearings showed, whenever there is an opportunity to do something about it, they find a way to object."

I was completely prepared to see the Republicans on this committee speak out against new gun control laws, especially ones that might upset their NRA handlers; but these votes are beyond even what I had expected.  Are there no Republicans willing to stand up to the NRA?  Are they all totally deaf to the people they say they represent?

And only one Republican supported a bill to stop illegal gun trafficking?  Really?  Only one?   What is wrong with these people?!!

If there is any stronger proof that these congressmen represent the NRA and not the people, I cannot think of it.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Eye Recommend --- The Worst of Paul Ryan's Budgets

THE WORST OF PAUL RYAN'S BUDGETS, New York Times editorial --

"All the tired ideas from 2011 and 2012 are back:  eliminating Medicare's guarantee to retirees by turning it into a voucher plan; dispensing with Medicaid and food stamps by turning them into block grants for states to cut freely; repealing most of the reforms to health care and Wall Street, shrinking beyond recognition the federal role in education, job training, transportation and scientific and medical research.  The public opinion of these callous proposals was made clear in the fall election, but Mr. Ryan is too ideologically fervid to have learned that lesson...

...And in its laziest section, it sets a goal of slashing the top tax rate for the rich to 25 percent from 39.6 percent, though naturally Mr. Ryan doesn't explain how this could happen without raising taxes on middle- and lower-income people.  (Sound familiar)?"

Yes, sadly, it does sound familiar.  What Mr. Ryan has done with this "new" budget, is show just how deaf to the desires of the people he and his party are.  The country voted "No" on these points in November, choosing instead a President who promised to look for ways to more evenly share the sacrifices that must be made if the U.S. is going to continue to move forward out of recession.  

Perpetually re-introducing the same ideas may be a badge of honor to conservative policy wonks; but the people who soundly rejected these ideas in November--and those people are clearly in the majority--have to wonder when, if ever, these Republican slow-learners will catch up to the rest of us. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Republicans Have a New Budget; the Middle Class, the Elderly and the Poor Have Been Chosen to Fund It

Paul Ryan has a new budget proposal that he says will balance the federal budget in ten years.  He presented it to the House this week; but first, he spoke about the high points with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday.  One of the main components of his new budget is the repeal of the ACA.

what eye thynk:   Paul, buddy, I know you hate the ACA, but the House has tried this 34 times already and it always fails.  The ACA is not going away.  The Supreme Court says so.  Even more importantly, the people say so.  Did you notice the election results last November?  The candidate who promised to repeal the ACA lost--big time.

Even Chris Wallace was amazed.  When he heard that Mr. Ryan's budget is based on the repeal of the ACA, he responded with an incredulous "Well, THAT'S not going to happen."  Mr. Ryan stared blankly for a moment--clearly that was not the response he expected-- before saying that we have to make tough choices and this is one of them.

A question for you, Mr. Ryan...Why do all the tough choices seem to involve de-funding Democratic supported programs?  Tax increases would appear to qualify as a "tough choice", but they're off the table. 

  • John Boehner - "Obama got his tax increases." (Though, truthfully, these "increases" were only brought about by allowing W's tax breaks for the wealthy to expire. I'd call that a reversion, not an increase.)
  • Mitch McConnell - "The tax issue is finished, over, completed.  That's behind us."
  • Marco Rubio - The President needs to "abandon his obsession with raising taxes.
Thirty-four failed attempts to repeal the ACA would seem to indicate that THAT "issue is finished, over, completed",  "it is time to "abandon (our) obsession".  Instead, Paul Ryan makes its dissolution the basis of his latest budget proposal...and Republicans cheer.  Are we supposed to accept that anything passed by a Democratic majority is open to constant reassessment, while anything decided by a Republican vote is immutable?

Republicans voted to put an entire war on a credit card,  and now that the bill is due they have decided that the middle class, the elderly and the poor are solely responsible for its payment.

Everyone wants a balanced budget, and the only way we're going to get there is with a balanced approach--and that means putting spending cuts AND tax increases on the table.  Every leading economist agrees. Even a few fair-minded Republican Senators agree.  The Senate could pass a budget right now if the Republicans would stop their wasteful, self-indulgent use of the filibuster.   

The latest Pew Research Center poll shows that 76% of Americans favor a mix of spending cuts and tax increases to balance the budget.  Broken down by party, 90% of Democrats, 56% of Republicans and 76% of Independents want a mixed approach.  As John Boehner is fond of saying "The people have spoken". 

Mr. Ryan, you say we have to make some "tough choices".  Then convince your fellow Republicans to make one themselves:  choose to compromise. For the Republican Party, that may be the toughest choice of all.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Quick Fact(s) - Gun Control Run Amok and Senate Republicans Just Can't Seem to Play Nice Together

1.   What's going on with gun control across the U.S....

On April 1, city officials in Nelson, Georgia will vote on whether to make gun ownership mandatory.  If this is an April Fool's joke, it is not funny.

Spring City, Utah has passed a resolution making gun ownership mandatory, and has scheduled a vote in the next few weeks to decide whether the resolution should become a city ordinance.  What?

In Kennesaw, Georgia, mandatory gun ownership is already the law.  Double what?

On March 8, South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard signed legislation that will allow all of that state's school districts to arm their teachers.  Good grief!

The town council in Sabattus, Maine has rejected a citizen proposal to make gun ownership mandatory.   That's it, I'm moving to Maine.

2.   Meanwhile, in the Senate Republican Sandbox...

Last week, John McCain took the Senate podium to publicly chastise Rand Paul and Ted Cruz for wasting the Senate's time with a 13 hour filibuster before the John Brennen confirmation vote.  Afterwards, Rand Paul said in an interview that McCain doesn't respect him.  John McCain responded in a Huffington Post interview by calling Paul and Cruz "whacko birds" who seem to get all the media attention. Newt Gingrich, who isn't even in government anymore, got into the fray by saying that John McCain should not say anything against a fellow Republican--which is exactly what Gingrich did by talking about the Senatorial spat, but never mind.

Grow up, people!  You sound like three year olds fighting over the sand pail.

Monday, March 11, 2013

March 11 - Monday Quote

Today's quote is taken from Nicholas Sparks' novel THE LUCKY ONE.

monday quote: 
(Nicholas Sparks, author, (1965-     )

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Eye Recommend --- Rubio Opposes Government Funding Bill Unless Obamacare De-Funded


"Rubio made the statement on the Hugh Hewitt radio show: 'Senator Cruz from Texas is offering this amendment to de-fund Obamacare.  If that gets on the bill...I will vote for (it), even if it's temporary, because it does something permanent and that is de-fund this health care bill, this Obamacare bill that is going to be an absolute disaster for the American economy.'...

...While Republicans have railed against (the ACA) since its implementation in 2010, most admit the prospects of repeal dimmed significantly with the president's re-election last year."

If Republicans would spend as much time looking for ways to move the country forward as they do  looking for loopholes to avoid implementing laws that already exist, we'd all be a lot better off.  There is no progress when you're stuck in reverse!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Eye Recommend --- Boehner Explains the Battle of the Cliffs


Earlier this week, House Speaker John Boehner tried to explain why the country seems to be careening from one fiscal crisis to another:  the problem is that President Obama won't reduce spending.  This has become the standard Republican excuse for everything that is stalled, wrong or not working in our government--the President is at fault.  Everything would be running smoothly if only the President would do things their way.

Mr. Benen does a nice job of pointing out how flawed this position is.  (The underlines are mine.)

"There are, of course, two glaring problems here.  The first is that President Obama has already cut spending by about $1.5 trillion, which is a heck of a lot more than Republican policymakers cut during the Bush/Cheney era when folks like Boehner simply put new expenses on the national credit card.  Obama has also offered hundreds of billions of dollars in additional cuts, as part of a bipartisan compromise, which the GOP refuses to consider.

The second is that disagreements over spending are not much of an excuse--Boehner's argument, in effect is, 'We'll stop hurting Americans the moment the president gives us what we want.'  The fact that the House Speaker doesn't see the flaws in saying this out loud is disconcerting.

What's more, Boehner wants 'the Senate to finally do their work,' which is to say, Boehner's House is still not will to do any work at all.  As the Speaker probably knows by now...most of the Senate already supports a compromise fiscal plan.  It would be finished were it not for a Republican filibuster, which prevents passage."

In all fairness, Senate Democrats had the chance to end their filibuster gridlock during the first few days of the 113th Congress and they failed to do so.  Now they are forced to live with the consequences while we wait for someone in Congress to stop acting like a petulant child and get in touch with their inner adult.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Quick Fact(s) - Gossip Edition: Shelden Adelson, Mark Sanford and Florida Voter Fraud

1.   Sheldon Adelson.  Remember him? He's the billionaire supporter of Newt Gingrich and then Mitt Romney who promised to give whatever it took to conservative organizations calling themselves "social welfare" groups in order to disguise his multi-million dollar political contributions, all in the hope of defeating President Obama. Well, it seems that Mr. Adelson is in trouble for bribing foreign officials in order to get his casinos running in Macau.  The SEC and the Department of Justice are investigating.  His own auditors admit they "might" have been involved in bribes.

Couldn't happen to a more deserving 1%-er.

2.   And speaking of remembering--how about Mark Sanford, ex-governor of South Carolina, who told everyone he was hiking the Appalachian Trail last Summer when he really was in Brazil with his mistress.  The newly divorced Mr. Sanford, who is now engaged to the mistress who cost him the governorship, is running in the special election for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Jim DeMint.  Seems Mr. Sanford, realizing that he is going to face some tough questions over Appalachian Trail/Brazil Doxy-gate, asked his ex-wife if she would join his campaign in order to soften the public's perception of him as, perhaps, not a totally trustworthy or honest candidate.  The ex-Mrs. Sanford declined.

Well, you have to admire his guts if not his class.

3.   And, finally, one more "remember" with an "oops" addendum:  In the countdown to last November's election it appeared that every Republican run state was screaming about voter fraud and rushing to pass new voter registration laws to curb the problem.  Republicans never actually  came up with any examples of rampant voter fraud, but it looks like the Democrats in Florida will be able to cite one that the GOP wishes it could make disappear.  Earlier this week, voter registrars who worked for Strategic Allied Consulting,  (the company hired by the Republican National Committee in states including North Carolina, Virginia, Texas and Colorado), have admitted to forging Republican voter registration cards in Florida.

At least now the GOP can say that they were right about that fraud problem.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Happy Blogging Anniversary to Me

One year ago today, I began this blog after I found myself sitting in front of the television and crying in frustration over the latest political news.  It was a story about another attempt to restrict access to legal abortion that pushed me over the edge. But it was the cumulation of out and out lies, the lack of respect for anyone who wasn't a cookie-cutter copy, the rush to take away hard earned rights like union status and health services, the denial of equal rights for my gay friends--all were issues that birthed the avalanche.   How did my America reach this point?

I've never considered myself to be a writer and I don't think fast enough to hold up my end in a live debate; but I do know how to check the facts and distill them into some sort of order.  This helps me keep a handle on what I know, what I don't know and what I think about both.

Over the past year I have written 299 blog entries covering just about every politically tainted issue that attracted my interest or my ire. I've found that I'm more informed and more comfortable with my convictions.  I've enjoyed sharing articles that I found particularly interesting.  I've found a certain satisfaction in pointing out the absurdities in our political arena and I've delighted in the opportunity to wield the occasional well-deserved sarcastic smack-down. 

When I started this blog, I thought I'd run out of words in a month or two; but here I am, 365 days later and I find that I still have things to say.  
Thank you to everyone who has read, commented or e-mailed me.  Don't stop.  We all need to keep the discussion going.

Eye Recommend --- The Unpopular Party

THE UNPOPULAR PARTY, by Rick Lowrey --

Mr. Lowrey, conservative columnist and editor of the National Review has some harsh words for his party.

"The national party is leaderless and nearly issueless...

...The latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll has Democrats leading on:  looking out for the middle class, Medicare, health care, reducing gun violence, Social Security, immigration, taxes and the economy.  The good news for Republicans is that they lead on everything else.  The bad news is that everything else is only spending, the deficit and national security...

...At times, 'we have a $16 trillion debt' seems the sum total of the party's argumentation.  When party leaders say that they have to become the party of growth again, the policy they invariably advance to that reducing the $16 trillion debt.

This necessary, but hardly sufficient, message is almost all we hear from Republicans in Congress..."

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Republicans Propose Sequester Relief for Their Pet Programs and Warn Democrats Not to Interfere

The House GOP has unveiled a new plan to lessen the effect of the sequester, but it only covers items that they have handpicked.  In their bill, instead of an across the board defense sequester, the military will be permitted to choose which programs get reduced funding and which programs continue to operate at 2011 levels. The GOP backed bill also returns monies for federal prisons, the FBI, border patrol and weather satellites to pre-sequester levels--and it adds $2B to the embassy security budget.  These changes reduce the savings to under $1T--a figure that Republicans have been touting as a "must reach" number for months.  

Democrats, including Barbara Mikulski, (D-Maryland), Appropriations Committee chairwoman, countered that programs that pay for housing, education and health care also need special thinking.  In an interview with CNN, Ms Mikulski said she would also like to see some relief for the transportation budget where work on our infrastructure generates jobs across the country.

Republicans responded to Ms. Mikultski's interview by warning Democrats that moving to change the sequester "beyond non-controversial items" could delay swift passage of any government funding bill.

what eye thynk:  When did Republicans become solely and uniquely qualified to identify which budget items earn "non-controversial" status?  Was that on the ballot last year and I missed it?  Or was this ability somehow divinely granted--in which case when does John Boehner get fitted for his mitre?

The GOP's agree-with-us-or-we-will-bring-the-country-to-its-knees threat is as childish as it is counter-productive.  And their latest salvo flies in the face of what they said just a few days ago when Republican leaders were claiming that they would not carry the sequester fight over into the coming budget debate.  On Friday, Republicans were saying they welcomed "fiscal peace" and looked forward to a more "orderly budget process".  

Note that at the same time some Republicans were making we-promise-to-play-nice sounds, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) was quoted as saying "I will absolutely not agree to increase taxes" and Representative Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) was saying that he planned to present a plan that would balance the federal budget in ten years without raising taxes but would move the sequester cuts away from defense and into other programs whose budget reductions would be permanently locked.

In the Senate, Patty Murray (D-Washington) said she will offer a plan that will undo some cuts, introduce some new spending reductions and increase some taxes.

So basically, Republicans are saying that only they will decide who gets sequester relief, that the budget will not include any new revenue and Democrats should just shut up and listen to their dictates because if they dare to raise any objections, Republicans will delay the passage of any budget at all--again.  I don't know about you, but this doesn't sound like fiscal peace to me.

Monday, March 4, 2013

March 4 - Monday Quote

All those Republicans, (I'm talking to you Mr. McConnell), whose main focus has been--and continues to be--to foil President Obama, this is for you...

monday quote:   If you don't want government to work, then government not working proves your point and you probably shouldn't be trusted with government. (Rachel Maddow, political commentator, 1973-    )

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Eye Recommend --- The Sequester: Poison Pill Politics


"Republicans have defined their position, regardless of how reckless: austerity or bust.  However, as economists have warned, austerity generally precedes--and, in fact, can cause--bust.  Just look at Europe.

But Republicans are so dizzy over the deficits and delighted to lick the boots of billionaires that they cannot--or will not--see it.  They are still trying to sell cut-to-grow snake oil:  cut spending and cut taxes, and the economy will grow because rich people will be happy, and when rich people are happy they hire poor people, and then everyone's happy...

...The president said Friday that 'there is a caucus of common sense up on Capitol Hill' that includes Congressional Republicans who 'privately at least' were willing to close loopholes to prevent the sequester.

Those privately reasonable Republicans might want to be more public before their party goes over another cliff and takes the country with them."

If I have to hear one more Republican say we don't need more revenue "it's spending that is the problem", I'm going to scream. Where were they when W's administration was putting billions of dollars on a credit card to fund a purposeless war?  THAT was a spending problem.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Quick Fact(s) - Republicans Want Better Enforcement of Existing Gun Laws...or Do They? and the VAWA is Renewed!

1.   Republicans  keep saying  we don't need any new gun regulations; instead, what we need are better enforcement of the laws we have.  At the same time, they have refused to confirm anyone to head the ATF--for SIX YEARS!

Enforcement begins at the top.  Feel free to form your own conclusions.

2.   After being held up by the House for nearly a year, the Violence Against Women Act has finally been renewed.  The renewal passed with a vote of 286 to 138, (199 Democrats along with only 87 Republicans voted for the re-authorization). 

The renewal includes protection for members of the LGTB community and grants American Indian women the right to face their abuser in a Native American court, no matter the abuser's ethnicity.  The House tried to pass their own version without these two new provisions but it failed, with some Republican Representatives voicing displeasure that they needed Democratic votes to move the bill forward.  (So Democratic votes shouldn't count and only 100% Republican backed laws should be enacted?  Where is that provision in our constitution?)  The Republican lead House was then forced to accept the Senate's version or face the wrath of every female voter in the country.  

The House may have been shamed/forced into acting, but still it's done.  And it's about damn time!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Our $14.3 Trillion National Debt

what eye thynk:  And Republicans still insist that President Obama is at fault.  *sigh*