Saturday, August 31, 2013


In light of reports of the use of chemical weapons in Syria's civil war, President Obama is contemplating our becoming involved in that conflict.

what eye thynk:   Anyone who follows this blog knows that I seldom, if ever, write about foreign affairs.  In no way am I an isolationist, it's just that national stories interest me more. But I have to say something about Syria.

Trying to come to a conclusion on the do we or don't we question has awakened my inner Gemini...both sides are arguing and they're both right--or wrong.

The only yardstick I have is our recent experience in the Middle East. There is Iraq where we lost over 4000 American lives and where today they have regressed to once again killing their own in the name of tribal and religious dominance. 

Then there is Egypt where last year we saw the end of a tyrant who controlled his country with the aid of the military and where we hailed the beginning of a new democratic government--which turned out to be more Islamist than democratic--and where today, that new democratic-in-name-only government has been replaced by, you guessed it, the military.  

And there is Afghanistan where President Karzai continues to send mixed signals--one day he wants us out now, one day he wants us to stay because he needs help with Pakistan or Al Qaeda.  The next he accuses us of working with the Taliban.   And every day he has his hand out for monetary assistance.

And now we have Syria where a civil war has continued longer than anyone could have imagined and where it seems that President Bashar Hafez al-Assad is using chemical weapons against civilian targets.  Anti-government fighters are asking for our help and decrying that we have delayed so long.  Our usual allies are hesitant to get caught up in another conflict.  Is our information accurate or is it another case of Bush/Cheney-ism?

Looking at what has happened in other Middle East countries where we have tried to intervene, the choice to step in or not is not an easy one.  If we step in now, we're heroes--until next month, or next year when we once again become a target of sectarian hatred because we didn't do enough or because we did too much.

But we can't ignore information that indicates over 1000 civilians are dead because of government sanctioned chemical weapons. This is not our war; but do we dare wait any longer?  If we had heeded warning signs in Germany earlier, how many Jewish lives could we have saved?

I don't have an answer.  I don't think anyone does.  But I hope for an American policy of no boots on the ground.  And if we do choose to get involved, make it quick, make it decisive and get out of there.  Do not become embroiled in trying to re-make their country into a mini-U.S.A.  Their's is a tribal culture we do not understand just as they cannot comprehend our Western style Democracy. And no more American lives should be wasted trying to change either view.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Eye Recommend --- Gay Marriages Get Recognition From the I.R.S.

Today marks my 500th blog entry; and it is one I couldn't be happier to publish...

Gay Marriages Get Recognition From the I.R.S., by Annie Lowrey --
This makes me so happy!
"All same-sex couples who are legally married will be recognized as such for federal tax purposes, even if the state where they live does not recognize their union, the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service said Thursday.

It is the broadest federal rule change to come out of the landmark Supreme Court decision in June that struck down the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, and a sign of how quickly the government is moving to treat gay couples in the same way that it does straight couples...

...As of the 2013 tax year, same-sex spouses who are legally married will not be able to file federal tax returns as if either were single.  Instead, they must file together as 'married filing jointly' or individually as 'married filing separately.'...

...As long as the marriage is legal: a same-sex couple who marry in Albany, N.Y., and move to Alabama are treated the same as a same-sex couple who marry and live in Massachusetts...

...Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew said, 'This ruling...assures legally married same-sex couples that they can move freely throughout the country knowing that their federal filing status will not change.'"
The article goes on to talk about how filing state income taxes will be more difficult in states that do not recognize same-sex marriages, (like my home state of Ohio), since most state tax calculations use federal returns as their starting point. Those states will have to make some changes.
"Nanette Lee Miller of Marcum L.L.P., a public accounting firm (says) she sees it as a paperwork bother more than a financial issue...

...The ruling applies to all legal marriages made in the United States or foreign countries."
Which is good news for my friends Matthew W. and David B. who were legally married in Canada.
"Separately, the Health and Human Services Department said Thursday that Medicare would extend certain key benefits to same-sex spouses, 'clarifying that all beneficiaries in private Medicare plans have access to equal coverage when it comes to care in a nursing home where their spouse lives.'...

...Medicare and Treasury officials said they would use a 'place of celebration' standard for determining whether gay couples are eligible for benefits...

...But the Social Security Administration is now using a 'place of residence' standard in determining spousal benefits, and a gay couple in Alabama might not receive the same benefits as a gay couple in New York until final determinations are made or Congress acts.  The Obama administration has pushed federal agencies to ensure the Supreme Court's ruling is carried out quickly and smoothly."
I expect that the SSA will move to a "place of celebration" standard to stay consistent with other federal agencies and that can't happen soon enough.
Friends and I were discussing--and yes, celebrating--this news last night and my friend David McC., who has been with his partner 35 years, said he saw this as the beginning of the end for LGBT inequality and that he had never expected to see this in his lifetime.  The happiness and peace on his face made me want to cry.
I expect there will screams of outrage coming from conservative bastions, and to them I can only say:  Your time is past.  In this age, we will say "that all men are created equal." 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Quick Fact: Military Same Sex Spouses Finally Get Equality

The Pentagon recently announced that, with the Supreme Court decision to overturn DOMA, military same sex spouses will begin getting full benefits including health care, housing allowance with access to on base housing, travel reimbursements for Permanent Change of Station moves, access to commissaries and survivor benefits.  Target start date is early September.
It's about time!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Pat Robertson, Poster Boy for the Un-Christian Right

The subject of AIDS came up on The 700 Club yesterday.  A caller explained to host Pat Robertson that she volunteered through her church to provide a ride to worship services each week.  Her church assigned a nursing home resident to be her passenger.  She found out that the man she had been driving is "dying of AIDS" and wanted to know if it was wrong for her church not to warn her.

Pat Robertson, self-proclaimed Mega-Christian, responded in a way that would have made Jesus weep.

what eye thynk:   First, I want to address the caller's question with two questions of my own: 

  • If you had known the man you were driving to church each Sunday was an AIDS patient, would you have refused to drive him?  
  • Where in your Bible will I find the lesson where Jesus explains that this would be the right thing to do? 

Obviously this woman's church was welcoming to this man, so I have to wonder where she got the idea that "Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of did for me" could be decided on a sliding scale of her own devising.

Now, as for Mr. Robertson, whose response--even for him--was amazing in its un-Christian-ness...

First, he lied by telling the caller that her church couldn't warn her about her passenger's illness because "There are laws now, I think the homosexual community has put these draconian laws on the books that prohibit people from discussing this particular affliction, you can tell somebody you had a heart attack, you can tell them they've got high blood pressure, but you can't tell anybody you've got AIDS."

There is no such law; there is no such attempt by the homosexual community to pass such a law. There are, however, laws in several states that make it a criminal act NOT to tell a partner that you are HIV positive. But talking about those laws doesn't fit with the hate filled rhetoric of so called Christians like Pat Robertson.

Mr. Robertson then went on to advise the woman not to have sex with the man, (what?!), because he "used to think it was transmitted by saliva and other things, now they say it may be sexual contact."

But Mr. Robertson wasn't finished with the subject or his fact adverse philippic; and it is his next statement that demonstrates Mr. Robertson's willingness to sow his own brand of hate in anyway he can:  "You know what they do in San Francisco, some in the gay community there they want to get people so if  they got the stuff they'll have a ring, you shake hands, and the ring's got a little thing where you cut your finger.  Really.  It's that kind of vicious stuff, which would be the equivalent of murder."

Even Right Wing Watch realized that Mr. Robertson had gone too far and edited out that last statement when they posted Tuesday's broadcast on-line.

Later Mr. Robertson issued a semi-apology:  "I regret that my remarks had been misunderstood, but this often happens because people do not listen to the context of remarks which are being said."

How his remarks could have been misunderstood in any context remains a mystery; but his total disregard for the Ninth Commandment, (you know, the one that says you shouldn't lie) should be obvious in every context.

If truth in advertising laws were applied to people like Pat Robertson, the rules would prevent this man from calling himself a Christian at all.  

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Three Quick Facts: The Good (Starbucks), the Bad (San Diego Mayor) and the Ludicrous (Bradley Manning)

Another day of quick thoughts...

1.  The Good

The Affordable Care Act requires that employers provide health insurance for all employees who work at least 30 hours per week.  Starbucks does not intend to follow other businesses into cutting back employee hours in order to avoid paying for employee health care under the ACA.  CEO Howard Schultz says that his company already provides health insurance for part time employees who work only 20 hours per week and he has no intention of changing that now that the ACA requires less from him.
One more reason I'm a Starbucks fan--and their coffee ain't bad either.

2.  The Bad

San Diego Mayor Bob Filner is being sued for sexual harrassment and wants the city to pay for his defense. He blames San Diego for his problems because the city never gave him sensitivity training.
People like Mr. Filner are why our take-out coffee cups come with "hot" warnings.

3.  The Ludicrous

Bradley Manning, recently sentenced to 35 years in military prison for releasing over 700,000 classified files, battlefield videos and diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks, now wants the government to pay for hormone treatments so he can serve his sentence as a woman.  "As I transition into this next phase of my life, I want everyone to know the real me.  I am Chelsea Manning.  I am a female."
I'm sorry that BRADLEY is unhappy in HIS body, but I don't see where the U.S. government owes HIM any favors.

Monday, August 26, 2013

August 26 - Monday Quote

Today marks the 93rd anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote. Today's quote, taken from a speech given last week to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, speaks to both anniversaries.

monday quote:   You cannot stand by, you have to stand up, speak up, speak out, and get in the way.  Make some noise!  The vote is precious; it is almost sacred, the most powerful nonviolent tool we have in a democratic society and we've got to use it. (John Lewis, U.S. Representative from Georgia and the only surviving speaker from the 1963 march, 1940 -     )

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Quick Fact(s): New Mexico Stands Up for Same Sex Rights

New Mexico takes a couple of steps toward equal rights for same sex couples.

1.  Same Sex Marriage License News
Lynn Ellins, County Clerk in Dona Ana County, New Mexico got tired of waiting for someone in his state to say something definitive about same sex marriage and, after studying New Mexico's laws, (Mr. Ellins is also an attorney), concluded that they were "gender-neutral and did not expressly prohibit (him) from issuing marriage licenses to same-gender couples."

Mr. Ellins said his oath was to uphold state laws, which include laws prohibiting sex-based discrimination.  He stated that he sees this as a human rights issue covered by the New Mexico Human Rights Act.  "I see no reason to make committed couples in Dona Ana County wait another minute to marry."

Several churches in the county have performed marriage ceremonies for the same sex couples holding newly issued marriage licenses.

County Commissioner Ben Rawson (R), criticized Mr. Ellins' decision; but State Attorney General Gary King (D) told reporters that, while New Mexico law could be interpreted either way, he didn't believe that state laws prohibiting same sex marriage were constitutional; and, though he believes the matter should be decided by state courts, (there are lawsuits currently pending), he said he would not challenge any county clerk who chooses to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples.

After Mr. King's announcement, several other county clerks said they would also issue marriage licenses to same sex couples.

I am thankful that there are people like Lynn Ellins who are brave enough to stand up and say "I'm going to do what is right.  Follow me or get out of the way!" 

2.  Same Sex Discrimination Suit Ends
On Thursday, the New Mexico Supreme Court handed down a unanimous decision against Albuquerque wedding photographer Elane Photography.  The case was brought by Vanessa Willock after Elane Photography's co-owner Elaine Huguenin refused to photograph a commitment ceremony between Ms. Willock and her same sex partner.

Ms. Huguenin's attorney argued that Elane Photography was a private business and so was free to choose what events they would record.

The court thought otherwise.  They concluded Elane Photography is "a commercial photography business that offers its services to the public, thereby increasing its visibility to potential clients,(and so) is subject to the anti-discrimination provisions of the (New Mexico Human Rights Act) and must serve same-sex couples on the same basis that it serves opposite-sex couples. Therefore, when Elane Photography refused to photograph a same-sex commitment ceremony, it violated the NMHRA in the same way as if it had refused to photography a wedding between people of different races."

I wish New Mexico would make same sex marriage "official"; but there is healthy support for equal rights there and that is an excellent place to start.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Two More (Not So) Quick Facts: A Little ACA Confusion

Americans will begin shopping for health insurance through the ACA in just a few weeks. Republicans are still fighting it.

1.  600 New Jobs Created by the "Job-killing" ACA in Just One Missouri County
Missouri is a Republican led state that has not only refused to set up an ACA insurance marketplace, it has prohibited any public employee from assisting private companies that wish to do so and from answering any questions relating to the law that may be asked by Missouri's citizens.  You can read more on this here:

State Senator Scott Rupp (R), who represents St. Charles County, has actively worked against the Affordable Care Act, calling it, "the largest job-killing tax increase in American history".  A recent news story in the Post-Dispatch, a newspaper that covers Senator Rupp's home district, reported that, as a result of state government sanctioned obstructionism, a Virginia based company is stepping in to help Missourians understand the benefits to which they are entitled and is hiring 600 people in St. Charles County to staff a processing center there.

When asked about the 600 new jobs which seem at odds with his "job-killing" rhetoric, he replied: "It doesn't change my view."
Of course not.

2.  ACA Haters Think Their State Exchange Insurance Plans Are "Better Than Obamacare"
An interesting phenomenon is being reported in Kentucky.  Kentucky is a heavily Republican state that just happens to have a Democratic governor.  On October 1, Gov. Steve Beshear's Kentucky will be ready to begin signing people up for health insurance through the state marketplace they are calling "Kynect".

Kentucky has spent millions of their federally allotted ACA dollars to staff outreach programs all over the state in order to explain the health insurance programs that will be available this Fall.   ACA policy experts like Reina Diaz-Dempsey are finding that, when people in Kentucky are presented with the facts about the ACA, they are impressed--but seem not to realize that what outreach leaders are presenting is simply the details of the ACA health programs they have been told are so bad.  Some Kentuckians are pleased to see that their state is not falling for that nasty ACA business and is instead offering benefits under Kynect.  Outreach leaders are reporting that many of the people they speak with tell them they are very happy with what the Kynect program offers and that it "is better than Obamacare". 

As Washington Post writer Jonathan Bernstein explained, this is not happening just in Kentucky.   "The law is going to make health care better for many Americans.  A lot of them just won't realize it's the same thing as the Obamacare they hate...Fortunately, the Limbaugh self-employed listener will think, I don't have Obamacare; I have the private health insurance I purchased on (my state's) web site.  But if the liberals had their way, everyone would be forced to have Obamacare, and...American would be ruined."

Speaking at a Kentucky Farm Bureau breakfast, Gov. Beshear pointed out that 640,000 Kentuckians are uninsured and many of them are self-employed farmers.  Kentucky is at or near the top of national charts for bad-health indicators.  "We've ranked that bad for a long, long time. The Affordable Care Act is our historic opportunity to address this weakness."

Pointedly referring to U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who was in attendance, he added: "It's amazing to me how people who are pouring time and money and energy into trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act sure haven't put that kind of energy into trying to improve the health of Kentuckians. And think of the decades that they have had to make some kind of difference."  

Gov. Beshear also cited a study that showed the ACA would inject $15.6 billion into Kentucky's economy over eight years and create 17,000 new tax paying jobs.
And still, the Republican Anti-ACA Zombie Parade continues. 

Friday, August 23, 2013

(Not so) Quick Fact - The National Gun Registry that the NRA Warned Against Already Exists

Remember the Senate fight a few months ago over new gun regulations?  Conservatives killed a bipartisan and publicly popular bill calling for universal background checks for all gun buyers. The right's main argument was that this would lead to some kind of national gun registry.  Oh, the horror!  Oh, the invasion of privacy!  How un-American!

It didn't matter to the NRA or to Senate Republicans that the bill specifically stated that the creation of such a registry would be a felony; they just wouldn't let go of their argument, and the bill died under a Republican filibuster.

Well guess what, there already is a massive and secret gun owner database.  And it wasn't created by the Justice Department or the Department of Homeland Security. According to one-time NRA lobbyist and former NRA Regional Political Director Richard Feldman, it was compiled--without the consent of gun owners--by the National Rifle Association. 

The massive database is housed in the NRA's Virginia offices and includes the identities of current, former and prospective gun owners.  The NRA has systematically built this file for years by purchasing gun permit registration lists from state and county governments.  A 2009 memo from a firm called Preferred Communications contacted the Virginia State Police asking to purchase the names of those who applied for a concealed carry permit "on behalf of the National Rifle Association."

"Can you please let me know if you offer 2008 and/or 2009 names?" and "Can you please let me know the address to send the check to and also whom to make it payable to?"

Officials in Oregon, Iowa and Arkansas reported receiving similar requests.

The NRA also collects the names of people who take gun safety classes and identifies potential gun owners by buying lists of names from gun magazine publishers and gun show attendee lists.

It must be noted that the NRA's secret database is not limited to NRA members--according to Mr. Feldman, they have the names of tens of millions of gun owners who have no association with the NRA--private citizens who have no idea that their personal information has been collected and is stored in a Virginia office building.
It would seem that the NRA's real worry wasn't the creation of a database, but the part of the bill that would make felons of themselves for already possessing one.
I didn't think there was anything the NRA and their bought-and-paid-for conservative congressmen could do that would make me dislike them more than I already did.  
I was wrong. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Ted Cruz - The Lie and the Birth Certificate

Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) wants to be our next President.  With that in mind, two news items caught my attention recently.

1.  The Lie
This past week Senator Cruz met with some of his constituents in his home state and, instead of telling the uninsured among them that their lives are about to get better, he continued his fight against the Affordable Care Act. In fact, he told them the ACA is so awful that even Congress doesn't want any part of it.  "President Obama just granted all of Congress an exception.  And he did it because Harry Reid and the Senate Democrats who passed this thing came begging and said, 'Please, please, please let us out of Obamacare.'  This thing ain't working."

what eye thynk:  This lie is so blatant that even I am amazed.  The truth is that Republican Senator Chuck Grassley put forward an amendment to the ACA in 2009 that specifically requires members of Congress  to purchase their health insurance through ACA marketplaces in their home states.  The amendment was accepted by all members--both Democrat and Republican--of the Senate Finance Committee without a single negative vote.  Mr. Cruz is not only lying about the exemption, he is denying Senator Grassley credit for getting his amendment into the law and disregarding his fellow Republicans who supported it.

The truth is that members of Congress and their support staff are entitled to employer, (in this case, the U.S. government), paid health care.  Under the ACA, members of Congress and their staffs will purchase insurance through their home state's ACA insurance exchange and their employer, (the government), will pay the cost of that policy.   This does not mean they are exempt from the ACA.  It's not any different from a private sector employee who chooses a health care plan from those offered by his company and gets that plan paid for by the employer.

2. The Birth Certificate
Republicans have questioned President Obama's legal right to be President since his first campaign in 2008. The birthers are still questioning it.  See my post "The Birthers Are Back":;postID=7901311533230850835;onPublishedMenu=posts;onClosedMenu=posts;postNum=1;src=link

Now it turns out that Senator Cruz has a bit of a birth certificate problem himself.  He was born in Calgary, Canada of an American mother and a Cuban national father.  His mother's U.S. citizenship automatically grants U.S. citizenship to Mr. Cruz.  His place of birth also grants him Canadian citizenship.  Mr. Cruz claims he was unaware of this, (really?), until this past week, when he announced that he would renounce his Canadian citizenship.

what eye thynk:   So let's compare...

          President Obama                                   Senator Cruz
          Place of birth: Hawaii, U.S.A.         Place of birth: Calgary, Canada
          Mother: U.S. citizen                             Mother: U.S. citizen
          Father: foreign national                    Father: foreign national
          Citizenship at birth: American     Citizenship at birth: American

The U.S. law requiring that our President be a natural born citizen has always been loosely interpreted to give natural born status to anyone born of at least one American parent no matter where the birth actually takes place.  This interpretation has been in place since the first meeting of our Congress in 1789.  At that time, a Mr. Smith's citizenship was questioned.  It was determined that, "It is an established maxim that birth is a criterion of allegiance.  Birth however derives its force sometimes from place and sometimes from parentage, but in general place is the most certain criterion."

So, while there is nothing in either man's birth that would legally prohibit him from becoming President of the United States, in the words of our forefathers, Mr. Cruz would seem to have more of a "birther" problem than Mr. Obama.  California conservative Orly Taitz, President of Defend Our Freedoms and an anti-Obama birther crusader, seems to agree with me: "Clearly there is an issue of eligibility.  It's basically the same issue as Obama has."


Of the two subjects, I find Mr. Cruz's willingness to lie openly to those he is supposed to serve in order to gain power for his own anti-cause a whole lot more worrisome than his birth certificate controversy.  But, personally, I just can't help but smile at the position Republicans find themselves in with their Tea Party darling, Canadian born, Presidential hopeful.

Pay's a bitch.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Questionable Republican Tactics -- North Carolina, Texas, Ohio, Wisconsin

So many topics, so little time.

1.  North Carolina and Texas:  Republican Anti-Voter Tactics 
As states like Texas make state-issued college IDs invalid for voting, and counties like Pasquotank County in North Carolina, (where the head of the Republican Party says he intends to challenge all student voter registrations), it would be wise to look to 1979 and a little Supreme Court ruling on a case known as Symm v. United States.  The Supreme Court affirmed a lower court decision, explicitly ruling that denying college students the right to vote in the county in which they go to school was unconstitutional.

what eye thynk:  I don't expect state Republicans to heed that ruling; but they will undoubtedly lose every challenge to their restrictions against college voters. 

2.   Ohio:  Only the Rich Should Run for Political Office
Ohio will be choosing a governor in 2014.  Republican Governor John Kasich's likely Democratic challenger is Ed FitzGerald, currently Cuyahoga County Executive.  Republicans are openly calling Mr. FitzGerald's lack of investments and savings a major strike against his candidacy. Mr. FitzGerald, who lives in Lakewood and has four children--one in college, and three at home and still in their teens--showed income of $178,000 on his tax return and claimed several modest investments in the $1000 range.

The Republican Party would like us to believe that Mr. Kasich, whose 2012 income tax return showed income of $1.4 million and who is being questioned about financial ties between himself and a company that received state aid, would be a better governor to serve the needs of middle class Ohioans.  This would be the same Mr. Kasich who attempted to de-unionize Ohio's safety forces, who refuses to set up a state run insurance exchange so uninsured Ohioans can shop for health insurance and who will not expand Medicaid for Ohio's poor.

what eye thynk:   Since when is being rich a prerequisite for political office? And, of these two men, who would know what it's like to live as middle class in Ohio?

3.  Wisconsin:  Where Anti-Governor Songs are Illegal
For two years, protesters, many of them elderly, have been gathering daily at noon in their state's Capitol to exercise their right to free speech, an American right that Governor Scott Walker (R) apparently holds in low regard.   The lunchtime, sing-along protest is a remnant of the massive demonstrations in 2011 when Gov. Walker stripped public employees of their collective bargaining rights.

The singers appear daily to warble popular songs with re-written lyrics--"Hit the road, Scott, and don't you come back no more, no more, no more, no more"--and have irritated Mr. Walker to the point that, under his endorsement, an "emergency rule" was announced this month requiring groups of four or more to have a permit to assemble in the Capitol.  A U.S. District Judge bumped the number up to 20 before a permit was needed; but you have to question even that apparently arbitrary number.  Where in the U.S. Constitution did Mr. Walker or the judge found a limit on the number of people who could peacefully exercise their right to free speech at one time?  And where is the "emergency"? The protesters have not blocked access to or stopped any other person from going about their business in the building.  They have simply stood to one side and performed anti-Republican songs, then left quietly.  No damage has been reported.

The new rule has only increased Wisconsinites determination to be heard.  Each day police arrest a dozen or so protest singers and each day the chorus grows bigger. Close to 100 have been handcuffed and received fines of $250.00; all have gone peacefully and have vowed to return.  So far, 68 citations have been dismissed by the prosecutor or a judge. Recently, footage was shown on a local newscast of police threatening to arrest those who had gathered simply to watch the singers.  These included people who work in the Capitol and stopped to observe the singing as they went about their own business.  

Some have questioned why the group doesn't just apply for a permit.  The reasons are many: it is an informal gathering with different people showing up every day, the number of singers vary on any given day, there is no official organizer to take responsibility for the gathering, once a permit is requested there is the chance, (a good one, I'd say) that it will be denied--then what?

what eye thynk:  Instead of declaring an "emergency" to protect his fragile ego, Mr. Walker might have instead chosen to listen to their complaints. After all, these are the people he is supposed to represent and they've been just downstairs from his office for two years. 

As Kevin Mathews of Care2-make-a-difference wrote:  "Walker would prefer to screw over his constituents in peace instead of having to hear from the people whose lives he's ruined."

Monday, August 19, 2013

August 19 - Monday Quote

Something to think about...

monday quote:

If only
Our tongues
Were made
Of glass

How much
More careful 
We would be
When we

(Shaun Shane, poet,  Shaun Shane is a pseudonym; real name is unknown. He was first published in the 1980s, then disappeared until 2008.  It was rumored at that time that he was terminally ill.  He has not been heard of since 2010.)

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Quick Fact: Texas S.W.A.T. Team Stages Drug Raid on Community Garden and Finds...?

On August second, using information provided to them by an undercover officer and helicopter surveillance, local police, including a S.W.A.T. team, staged a raid on a community garden in Arlington, Texas looking for what they believed was a marijuana growing operation.  The officers moved the people they found tending their plants to the perimeter of the garden and handcuffed them before filling a truck with confiscated plants. Gardeners were then released and no arrests were made.

The City of Arlington stated that "No cultivated marijuana plants were located on the premises. Narcotics detectives and members of the tactical unit cleared the scene within 45 minutes."  

Gardeners re-entered the garden to find that every tomato plant had been uprooted and removed.
Sometimes you just have to laugh.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Quick Fact - Gov. Christie Vetoes New Jersey Ban on 50-Caliber Rifles

Fifty caliber military style rifles are capable of penetrating an armored vehicle or of shooting down an airplane.  Among other things, our military uses them to target chemical plants, refineries and tanker trains.

This past week, the New Jersey legislature passed a new gun bill.  One part of that bill banned the sale of all military style 50-caliber rifles.  On Friday, Governor Chris Christie vetoed that part of the bill. A Gov. Christie appointed task force had recommended a ban on only Barrett 50-caliber long-range rifles and Mr. Christie said that banning all 50-caliber rifles would unduly restrict lawful recreational gun related activities. "Tellingly, the Legislature points to no instance of this class of firearms being used by even a single criminal in New Jersey."
50-caliber recreational activities?  Is blowing up armored tanks a recognized sport in New Jersey? 
Just because there are no examples of this type of firearm "being used by a single criminal in New Jersey", doesn't mean there isn't some warped idiot out there--especially now that this has been headline news--who will try to set up camp outside Teterboro and see if his new 50-caliber, perfectly legal, long-range rifle really can bring down a passenger plane. 
Gov. Christie, would it be so wrong to be pro-active in this case instead of re-active?  I'm sure sport gun enthusiasts can find something else destructive to fill their leisure time.

Friday, August 16, 2013

North Carolina Governor Signs Restrictive Voter Bill That He Obviously Hasn't Read

One more word on Republican led voter discrimination, (okay, two words): North Carolina.  

This week, Gov. Pat McCrory (R) signed North Carolina's new voting bill into law. Among other changes, the bill eliminates same day registration and requires voters to present a photo ID.   A few weeks ago, when the bill first passed, he was asked if he would sign it.  At that time, he told reporters he was in favor of the bill because it would prevent voter fraud in his state.

When pressed for details, he seemed confused about what was in it.  He bragged about the new on-line registration option--there is no such provision.  When asked how eliminating pre-registration for those under 18, (an annual high school voting registration drive has, for years, been seen as a right of passage for graduating seniors), he replied "I don't know enough, I'm sorry.  I haven't seen that part of the bill."

what eye thynk:   You would hope that in the weeks between the bill's passing and his signing it, and after admitting that he wasn't really very knowledgeable about the bill's details, he might have spent a few minutes informing himself of the bill's particulars...but no.

In three separate interviews, including one with NPR, he said  the new law would give voters two weeks of early voting and that all precincts would be open during that period.  He was wrong on both points.  The new bill reduces early voting from 17 days to 10 days--thus eliminating one full weekend of early voting.  His claim that all precincts would be open for early voting is blatantly false. One example is Wake County NC which has 198 precincts. During presidential election years, only 15 precincts will be open for early voting.  

And it seems that individual counties are free to eliminate even more early voting precincts.  Four days after the bill was signed into law, the Watauga County Board of Elections announced that it was eliminating one early voting site and a voting precinct location on the campus of Appalachian State University, a historically black university.

In Pasquotank County, the Board of Elections ruled that an Elizabeth City State University senior who was running for city council, would not be on the ballot. They reasoned that his on-campus address did not establish local residency.  The head of that county's Republican Party said he plans to challenge all student voter registrations at Elizabeth City State University, which just co-incidentally happens to also be a mostly black university.

State Senator Kay Hagan (D) has asked the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate.

Gov. McCrory's claim that "This new law brings our state in line with a healthy majority of other states throughout the country" is true to a point. A more accurate statement would be "...a healthy majority of other Republican run states throughout the country."

When I look beyond the obvious exasperating bias in these new Republican sponsored restrictive voter laws, what I see is desperation. It can only be desperation that would make a major political party in this country feel they have to cheat to stay in the game. 

But it is their own policies--policies on voter rights, on women's rights, on gay rights, on immigration, on taxes, on budgets, on the environment--that has put them in this position.  They have become their own worst enemy, becoming more and more intransigent, more and more reclusive, more and more resistant to moving forward, mired in a love of what was instead of a confidence in what can be.  

Only the GOP can save itself from the GOP, but first they have to give up their battle to weight the playing field in their own favor.  Democracy only works when everyone is equally represented.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Texas (Sort of) Admits Voter Discrimination--But Not Against Minorities

Within days of the Supreme Court's decision to remove the "permission needed" section of the Voters Rights Act, Texas announced it would re-instate a voter ID law and a redistricting map--both of which had previously been found to be unlawful by the Justice Department.

The re-introduced ID law says that voters must present a valid photo ID which can include a drivers license, state issued ID card or a gun license--they will even accept a gun license issued in another state.  Student picture IDs--even those issued by Texas state universities--are not considered valid. 

There are few state bureaus that can issue a drivers license or state photo ID in rural or minority neighborhoods and none on university campuses.  The federal panel that overturned the ID law last year pointed out that some rural areas were 120 miles from the closest state ID facility and urban offices were almost exclusively located in affluent white neighborhoods.

The reinstated redistricting plan was originally designed in secret by the white majority--minority legislators saw the new map for the first time when it was presented to the full legislature for a vote.   The Justice Department found that the map was clearly intended to put minority, poor and younger voters, (all of whom tend to vote Democrat), at a disadvantage.  I noted in an earlier article how Democratic voters had been isolated within heavily Republican districts.  One minority Democratic legislator in particular found that his new district included two lily-white country clubs while the low income community center that had been his center of voter power was now located in a Republican district.  

what eye thynk:   The Justice Department watched states like Texas revert to previously rejected voting requirements and decided that, while it is no longer in a position to say yea or nay to changes in state voting laws prior to their implementation, they nevertheless do have the power to step in if  "intentional voting discrimination" is found.  Three weeks ago, the Justice Department filed suit to stop the changes in Texas.

This week, Texas answered the suit.  Their three-part argument in defense of the new requirements, which includes a convoluted admission of guilt (sort of), is amazing in its "good ol' boy" brand of honesty.  Attorney General Greg Abbot admits that Texas may have tried to discriminate previously and as recently as 2011; but the Justice Department overturned those violations, so, since there are no current violations, the court now has no reason to step in to give "equitable relief."

Their second argument harkens back to the civil rights era by claiming that, even if Texas is discriminating, it isn't as bad as the "pervasive", "flagrant", "widespread", and "rampant" discrimination that put Texas on the Justice Department's preclearance list back in 1965 when the VRA was passed.

Their third argument may be my favorite. They claim that the Department of Justice's accusations of racial discrimination are entirely baseless comes the honesty part...they weren't targeting racial minorities, they were targeting Democrats.  They point out that, in 2011, both houses of the Texas legislature were controlled by Republicans and the redistricting choices they made were designed to increase their party's re-election chances at the expense of the opposing party.  The DOJ claim that their redistricting map was racially motivated is false and there is no evidence to the contrary.

So Texas' entire defense against the Justice Department's suit is that, 1) our voting laws were found to be unlawful last year, but that was LAST year; 2) no matter what we're doing now, it's not as bad as what we did in 1960; and 3) we're not trying to stop minorities from voting--just minorities who want to vote Democrat.

Lord, help us.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Ohio Republican Legislators Trying to Turn Back the Voter Rights Clock

A few months ago the Supreme Court effectively gutted the Voter Rights Act.  Republican run states immediately began introducing new voter restrictions--and not just in the South.

In 2011, the Republican dominated legislature in my home state of Ohio passed House Bill 194 which would have cut early voting days in half and banned early voting during the weekend before the election. The citizens of Ohio gathered enough signatures to force a referendum vote to overturn the bill.  Republicans, seeing the writing on the wall, voluntarily repealed part of the bill, but left in place the restriction against early voting during the weekend before the election. 

There was a lot of back and forth over some districts being permitted to allow voting during that weekend. No one was surprised to see that the districts chosen for the special weekend-before-the-election dispensation were overwhelmingly Republican.  The court stepped in and replaced weekend voting rights for all Ohioans and HB 194 disappeared from the state ballot. 

Skip ahead to August 2013:  On August 5,. State Representative John Becker (R) began seeking co-sponsors for a new bill that is essentially a copy of 2011's HB 194.  "This bill would reduce the length of time for absent voting from 35 days before Election Day to 17 days; limiting early voting to two weeks prior to the election concluding on the Friday before the election."

Mr. Becker is not alone.  Several other bills are in the seeking co-sponsorship stage, including bills that would introduce reduced early voting and the elimination of weekend early voting as separate pieces of legislation, another bill that would require a photo ID and still another bill to eliminate February and August special elections, (typically used for local tax levies).

what eye thynk:   The Republican plan appears to be to make each voter restriction a separate bill, thus making it nearly impossible for Ohioans to support a referendum vote on all of them.

Before I go on, I have to point out that in 2004, (when W. won the state) and Ohio voters complained of  long lines, state legislators voted to expand early voting to ease the problem.  In 2008, when early voting appeared to reduce polling place wait times, (and Barack Obama won the state), suddenly Republicans were moving the other way, introducing legislation to reduce voting hours.  In 2012, Mr. Obama won Ohio for the second time and Republicans are back with the same games.   One political writer called it "deja news."

But here is what's really wrong with states re-introducing voter restrictions struck down by the Justice Department before the 2012 election: while the Supreme Court's decision eliminated the section of the VRA that required states with previous voting rights violations to seek federal approval before instituting any voting changes, it did NOT change the essence of the law.  This is an important point and one  that is being missed by many of our Republican led states.

Think of it this way, if the Supreme Court said the I.R.S. could no longer audit federal tax returns that would not mean that you no longer had to pay federal taxes.  If your State Supreme Court said that local judges were no longer permitted to try defendants on murder charges, that would not make murder legal.  The Supreme Court's decision on the Voter Rights Act only blocks the "permission needed" section of the Act, it doesn't make voter suppression licit.

Put simply, the voting restrictions that were illegal last year, are still illegal today.  There just isn't any easy way to enforce them.  And that loophole is being taken advantage of by Republican run states at a pace that should surprise no one.

There is one hope in this mess.   The Justice Department recently decided that when "intentional voting discrimination" is found, they can step in to stop it.   This decision has resulted in a suit against the State of  Texas.  Texas' response is enlightening as well as unique in its honesty.  I'll be writing about that tomorrow. 

 C'mon back, y'all.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

ACA Mandated Insurance Exchanges - Two Sides of the Coin

On October 1 of this year, state insurance exchanges are to begin selling health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

what eye thynk:    With apologies to Charles Dickens...this is The Tale of Two States.

Colorado - "It (is) the best of times..."  

Colorado has received $180 Million in federal dollars to cover the cost of setting up and running their ACA insurance exchange for the first year.  And the exchange, Connect for Health Colorado, is just about ready to go. Television commercials are touting the new market and encouraging people to be ready to sign up on October 1.  Employees of the exchange, outfitted in t-shirts that read "Got Insurance?" are blanketing Colorado explaining how the system will work.  Four hundred guides are being trained to help the uninsured sign up for coverage.

In 2011, believing that it would be best for Colorado to have control over the way the ACA market was run in their state, Republicans, who controlled the state's House of Representatives at the time, joined with Democrats to pass legislation allowing for the creation of a state-based insurance market.  This year, they approved the expansion of Medicaid, both parties again agreeing that assistance was better  than hindrance.

Not everyone in Colorado is a supporter of the Affordable Care Act, but there are enough reasonable Republicans in that state that when a bill was introduced in February that would have stopped the insurance exchange from going forward, the majority of Republicans voted with Democrats to defeat it.

Patty Fontneau, executive director of Colorado's insurance market said "Will it be perfect? Unlikely, but we have the right team in place to ensure that we're going to be open and running, and as close to perfect as could be, on October 1."  Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) added "We'll do whatever it takes.  I'll ride around the state on a bicycle if I have to."

Missouri - "It (is) the worst of times..."

Missouri has refused to create an ACA insurance exchange, opting instead to turn down available federal money and to let the federal government run the insurance market in their state.  But state officials have taken their refusal to cooperate a step further. Missouri law now forbids state and local officials from providing "assistance or resources of any kind".  This includes co-operating with anyone working for the federal exchange.  Any local or state official who flouts the restrictions can be sued by the state legislature or even by a taxpayer.  

State Senator Rob Schaaf (R) who authored the law preventing the creation of a state-run exchange:  "We can't afford everything we do now, let alone provide free medical care to able-bodied adults.  I have a philosophical problem with doing that."   It should be noted that Mr. Schaaf. who is himself able-bodied, is covered by health insurance paid for by Missouri's state employee insurance program.

The result of Missouri's no-assistance law is a market place with no marketing, no local office, no official voice, no board of local advisers, and no way to obtain detailed information about the available insurance plans or their prices.  Missouri has set up additional roadblocks for the companies that want to offer insurance through the ACA by requiring them to obtain state licenses before they can begin to help consumers navigate the new insurance market. And, like many Republican run states, it has refused to expand Medicaid for its neediest citizens.

Missouri's stand on forbidding local officials from providing information on the insurance market is hurting not only insurance customers, but also insurance sellers.  Kenneth Schmidt, an insurance broker who is hoping to sell health insurance in Missouri:  "We have not seen any evidence of the federal exchange--how it will be run, how it will be structured in Missouri...Who will watch over it? No clue." 

Business owners are also being left in the dark.  David Griggs, store owner: "I have not seen or heard a word about it."  Kat Cunningham, President of Moresource, a company that provides payroll services for Missouri businesses said she has been deluged by clients asking "Where do we go to purchase health care coverage?  How much will it cost us?"  When she went to local officials for information, she came away with nothing.

Josephine Waltman, health officer for Phelps County says that she and her staff want to help, and are equipped to sit down with the uninsured and assist them in understanding the world of available subsidies and insurance plans; but state law forbids them from doing so. Instead they answer questions with vague references to the federal exchange, leaving those who need insurance the most with little information required to navigate the confusing new programs by themselves.

Private organizations are trying to step up to fill the gap--Missouri Foundation for Health is spending $8 Million in their attempt to get information out, but their efforts also run into roadblocks.  State and local officials who have knowledge of the federal exchange are hesitant to share it for fear that the legislature will sue them.


I can't help but wonder what people like those in Missouri will think when they look across state boundaries and see people in other states enjoying rights that should also be available to matter who is in charge.

Monday, August 12, 2013

August 12 - Monday Quote

This week's quote is for all the world's religious zealots who value nothing so much as their own piety. 

monday quote:   Ah, well,  I suppose that's the problem with trying to make others follow your own beliefs:  what starts out as spiritual ardor too often becomes arrogance and bigotry.  (from CHILD OF THE NORTHERN SPRING, by Persia Woolley,  1935 -     )

Sunday, August 11, 2013

N.R.A. Comes to Newtown. Starbucks Closes Early.

The Starbucks in Newtown, Connecticut closed four hours early on Friday.  Blame it on the N.R.A.

All across the country, if local laws permit you to carry a weapon in public, Starbucks will welcome you and your gun into their coffee shops.  Their corporate position is that they neither support nor oppose open carry laws and will abide by the local laws in the areas where their stores are located.  Their well thought out statement on the issue can be read here:

The N.R.A. decided to show their appreciation of Starbucks' attitude toward gun carrying customers by holding a Starbucks Appreciation Day.  Instead of choosing a shop in Texas or Wyoming where open carry laws are popular, they made the tasteless and unbelievably callous choice to hold their "celebration" at the Starbucks in Newtown, Connecticut where just eight short months ago 26 children and teachers were murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School by a gun carrying madman.
There are no words to describe my outrage.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Stephen Colbert's Take on Becoming Gay

I've been following a message board discussion where responders are attempting to answer the question "Are more people becoming gay?"  The positions voiced are so ridiculous that they should make me laugh; but then I remember that the people who are posting actually believe this stuff.

  • By giving gay people equal rights, liberals are making being gay "cool", so more people want to put that tag on themselves to up their "cool factor".
  • The government is trying to create more homosexuals so that liberals can take over the country  They're doing this by lining kid's juice boxes with estrogen to make little boys gay.
  • Liberal support for gays is making heterosexual men who have had a bad opposite sex relationship think that, because that relationship was not successful, then they must be gay.
  • More people are trying to become gay so they can get more benefits from the federal government.
  • Poor minorities are being brainwashed into becoming gay by the white majority so that white people can control them better since gay people tend to be more submissive.
what eye thynk:   I can't explain what made me start reading that message board--I don't even know how I came across it--but once I started, I was so fascinated by the crazy ideas being exposed there that I couldn't stop.

Just when  I thought I couldn't take anymore, I remembered this quote from Stephen Colbert...

Thank you Mr. Colbert.  I feel much better now.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Quick Fact: Mitch's 2014 Campaign is Not Off to a Good Start

There is no love lost between Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) and libertarian newcomer Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), but Mitch is running again in 2014 and knows he'll need the Tea Party votes that Mr. Paul can give him.  So, in an effort to gain those ultra-conservative numbers, Mr. McConnell hired Jesse Benton, former top Rand Paul strategist, as his campaign manager.

It turns out that Mr. Benton has no love for Mr. McConnell either, but took the job for another reason completely. The Washington Post obtained a recording of a phone conversation between Mr. Benton and Dennis Fusaro, former campaign manager for Mr. Paul's father:  "Between you and me, I'm sort of holding my nose for two years because what we're doing here is going to be a big benefit to Rand in '16, so that's my long vision."
Old cynic meets new opportunist = major fail?

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Republicans and Racism

On Tuesday President Obama visited Desert Vista High School in Arizona to talk about housing and the economy.   Outside, protesters waved signs and shouted anti-Obama slogans. 

what eye thynk:   Protesting is to be expected, but these people were not there to voice their opinions on the President's thoughts on housing or the economy.  They were hell-bent on re-fighting the 1960s.   And while the racist tone of the protest is upsetting, it is the support given that tone by some Republicans that revolts me.

One University of Arizona student was quoted as saying that President Obama "needs to go back to where he came from."  Where would that be exactly? Hawaii?  The same student, when questioned about her obviously racist remark shot back, "I am not a racist!"  Maybe they define the word differently in Arizona.

Protesters sang "Bye Bye Black Sheep" and one added a touch of religious paranoia, by carrying a sign that read "Impeach the half-white Muslim!"  

U.S. Representative Mike Kelly (R-Pennsylvania) responded to the racist bent of the protesters by saying that the President "divides" Americans "on race".   "Listen, I'll tell you what; it's self evident.  I don't know if people who aren't reading or not watching, maybe, don't have the same opinion, but I think it's pretty obvious where we're going with some of this stuff."

There seems little point in  addressing Mr. Kelly's vague warning about "where we're going", but I do agree with him on one point: there is a racial divide in this country.  However, the President isn't responsible for it. That blame rests squarely on people like Mr. Kelly, people in leadership positions who are able to voice a response to stop the hate but choose not to. People who don't shout down racism when it rears its ugly head but choose instead to pass the blame. 

The Arizona protesters may be lost in a sad anachronism; but the Mr. Kellys in this country aren't sad or lost, they're simply abhorrent.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Quick Fact: The "Birthers" Are Back

U.S. Representative Steve Stockman (R-Texas) is floating possible birther legislation to other members of his party.  Ted Yoho (R-Florida) told the folks at a recent town meeting in his home state that he would support Mr. Stockman's legislation if he were to present it to the House of Representatives.  

Mr. Yoho told the crowd that he felt the issue of President Obama's birth certificate was serving as a "distraction" from more important topics like the national debt.  He said that a thorough investigation could bring down the whole government--a result he said he was hopeful would happen. "If it is true, it's illegal, he shouldn't be there and we can get rid of everything he's done, and I said I agree with that."

Mr. Yoho is also the guy who claimed that the Affordable Care Act is racist because it calls for a tax on tanning booths.  Since he feels that white people are the only ones using tanning booths, that makes the ACA a racist law.
I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Eye Recommend --- Republicans Against Reality


"The sad truth is that the modern G.O.P. is lost in fantasy, unable to participate in actual governing.

Just to be clear, I'm not talking about policy substance...I'm talking about their apparent inability to accept very basic reality constraints, like the fact that you can't cut overall spending without cutting spending on particular programs...

...Consider what went down in Congress last week.

First, House leaders had to cancel planned voting on a transportation bill, because not enough representatives were willing to vote for the bill's steep spending cuts.  Now, just a few months ago House Republicans approved an extreme austerity budget, mandating severe overall cuts in federal spending--and each specific bill will have to involve large cuts in order to meet that target. But it turned out that a significant number of representatives, while willing to vote for huge spending cuts as long as there weren't any specifics, balked at the details...

...Then they held (a) pointless vote on Obamacare, apparently just to make themselves feel better...And then they went home for recess even though the end of the fiscal year is looming and hardly any of the legislation needed to run the federal government has passed.

In other words, Republicans, confronted with the responsibilities of governing, essentially threw a tantrum, then ran off to sulk."
At this point in his editorial, Mr. Krugman attempts to explain how House Republicans were flim-flammed by Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin).  He is the one who wrote the austerity budget that the House passed a few months ago--the same budget plan that the Congressional Budget Office said was so devoid of detail as to be meaningless.
"What's happening now is that the G.O.P. is trying to convert Mr. Ryan's big talk into actual legislation--and is finding, unsurprisingly, that it can't be done...

...When it comes to fiscal policy, then, Republicans have fallen victim to their own con game.  And I would argue that something similar explains how the party lost its way, not just on fiscal policy, but on everything...

...And the party establishment can't get the base to accept fiscal or political reality without, in effect, admitting to (their) base voters that they were lied to.

The result is what we see now in the House:  a party that...seems unable to participate in even the most basic processes of governing...

...So America can't be governed at all unless a sufficient number of...House Republicans are willing to face reality.  And that quorum of reasonable Republicans may not exist."
It's become a case of rhetoric meets reality, and the Republicans are adrift in the riptide.  Let's hope Mr. Krugman is wrong and a reasonable Republican quorum can be found before they pull the entire country underwater with them.       

Monday, August 5, 2013

August 5 - Monday Quote

Somebody should have told Anthony Weiner and his ilk...

monday quote:   I've never really gotten lying because all you do is postpone the day at which you're revealed to be a liar.  (Tabitha King, author, 1949-      )

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Quick Fact: U.S. Announces Visa Equality for Same Sex Partners

On Friday, Secretary of State John Kerry announced that, effective immediately, same sex couples who marry in a state where same sex marriage is legal will have their visa applications treated equally with opposite sex couples.   The policy will apply to couples where one spouse is an American citizen as well as couples where both partners are foreign born.
Another step on the road to equality!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Forty Times and Counting. Republicans Need Our Help.

This past week, prior to adjourning for a five week vacation, the House voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act--for the fortieth time.  This latest effort involved prohibiting the I.R.S. from enforcing the law.  

what eye thynk:   The House voted to repeal the ACA 30 times during the last Congress.  I would think that was sufficient to get their point across. We get it--you hate Obamacare.  But they can't stop themselves.  It's like every Republican member of the House of Representatives is addicted to the same drug. 

Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) said that more votes were needed in the 113th Congress because freshman Representatives wanted their chance to be on the record against the law.  As juvenile as that seems, if we accept the idea, wouldn't one vote be sufficient?  Do we really need ten?

If I add the salaries for the 435 members of the House together with the allocations each gets for support staff and divide that figure by 365 days in the year, I estimate that running the U.S. House of Representatives costs $1.9 Million PER DAY.   Using that information, I estimate that the House's incessant symbolic votes against the ACA have cost the taxpayers approximately $76 Million to date.  And when you consider that the House works significantly less than 365 days a year, the cost only goes up.

How many cuts to social programs could be eliminated if that money were allocated to the budget rather than to salving conservative egos? 

Really, 40 votes are enough.  Shouldn't someone suggest an intercession before the House bankrupts the country in their effort to get everyone "on the record"?

Friday, August 2, 2013

Texas Republicans Got What They Wanted--a New Abortion Law; but It's Not Enough for Some

First, the facts, in chronological order:
1.  The Texas state legislature meets every two years, in January of odd-numbered years, for a regular session that is limited to 140 calendar days.
2.  In 2013, during their regular bi-annual session, a restrictive abortion bill was presented in committee, but didn't make it beyond that point--the full legislature never took up the bill. Under Texas law, this should have killed the bill.
3.  Another bill, this one dealing with transportation, was presented to the full legislature, and was still being debated when the scheduled session ended.  A vote was never taken.
4.  Gov. Rick Perry (R) called a special session of the legislature in order to finish the necessary business of the transportation bill.
5.  Near the end of the 30 day special session, while the transportation bill was still being debated, Gov. Perry, who is the only person who can call a special session and is solely responsible for its agenda, added the abortion bill to the docket and pushed it to the forefront of business to be decided.
6.  By this time, everyone knows of Texas State Senator Wendy Davis' solo filibuster that stopped her state from passing the new abortion law in the last minutes of the special session. 
7.  Undeterred, Gov. Perry called a second special session in order to take up the business of the abortion bill.  At the end of this special session, the abortion bill passed.
8.  Gov. Perry has now called a THIRD special session, this time to finally take up the transportation bill that was scheduled to be voted on during the first special session.

what eye thynk:   Now we get to the really ludicrous part.  So far, these special sessions have cost Texas taxpayers $2.4 Million.  Texas State Representative Giovanni Capriglione (R) told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that he believes Wendy Davis (D) should reimburse the state for the cost.

"I am upset at the cost.  I think we need to remember why we are having this extra special session.  One state senator, in an effort to capture national attention, forced this special session.  I firmly believe that Sen. Wendy Davis should reimburse the taxpayers for the entire cost."

Anyone with an ounce of common sense knows this is never going to happen. But by giving voice to this ridiculous idea, Mr. Gapriglione did get to tack a few seconds onto his personal 15 minutes of fame with the added bonus of getting in a final dig at the losing side in the abortion debate.

A main fact that seems to be forgotten here is that the abortion bill died in committee during their regular special legislative session.  According to Texas state law, it should never have been brought up in special session in the first place.  Had Texas law been followed, the transportation bill would have been decided in the first special session, and the second and third sessions would never have been called.

Maybe Gov. Perry should volunteer to pony up the price instead?