Thursday, October 31, 2013

A Republican Explains Why We Need to Cut the Food Stamp Program

what eye thynk:  Fortunately, this man is not in the U.S. Congress. Unfortunately, there seem to be some congressional Republicans who share his philosophy...because, you know, people just eat to breed.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Racisim (His) and Cowardice (Mine)

This morning, as I was turning my car keys over to the parking lot attendant at the theater where I would be performing in less than an hour, I was treated to a 40-ish, well dressed man, explaining to the attendant why he would never vote for a Democrat.  He seemed to believe that the Democratic Party had forced President Obama on the country through nefarious means and now the President is "giving everything to those and nothing to the people who made this country."  His expression and expansive gestures seemed to suggest that everyone within hearing distance, (my white self included), would agree with his opinion.  He wanted us to know that he was "not a racist", using the strange logic that since he was talking to the attendant, (a young black man), he was an open and fair-minded individual.   "Heck, I'm talking to you aren't I?"

what eye thynk:   I ignored him and went into the theater to get ready for a performance of Richard III for 350 high school students on a field trip; but I couldn't help thinking about his caustic attitude and how he and his fellow Republicans expect us to believe their non-racist claims despite their racist rhetoric.

Even if you ignore the plethora of new voter ID laws recently passed in Republican led states--laws that will diminish the number of minority voters in those states--you have only to listen to news reports or TV and radio talk shows to see that the Confederate mind-set is alive and well and flourishing in the Republican Party.  It seems that every week there is another racist "oops" moment that is quickly dismissed by Republican leadership as not representative of Republican values and even more quickly swept under the rug following an apology or explanation that the remarks in question were misunderstood. 

"Oops" moments like:
  • Representative Pete Reid (R-Texas), in reference to then candidate Obama's chances to win the presidency: His :"light skin" and "lack of Negro dialect" will help his presidential bid.
  • Don Yelton, GOP official in North Carolina, when questioned about his state's new voter ID law criticized "lazy black people that want the government to give them everything." And this: "When I was a young man you didn't call a black a black.  You called him a negro."
  •  Maine Governor Paul LePage, (R) speaking to a group of supporters:  President Obama could have been the best president ever if he "highlighted his biracial heritage" but said the president refused to do this because he "hates white people".
  • Ken Emanuelson, a member of Dallas' Tea Party steering committee, at a Republican event in support of new voter ID laws: "I'm going to be real honest with you, the Republican Party doesn't want black people to vote" because they'll vote for Democrats.  But, if they would vote the way Republicans tell them to, we would be happy to "allow" blacks to vote.
  • As the President spoke in Arizona earlier this year, a group of protesters sang "Bye Bye Black Sheep", shouted "He's 47% Negro" and carried signs reading "Impeach the Half-white Muslim".  
  • During recent protests over the government shutdown, Sarah Palin and Republican Senator Ted Cruz participated in a protest where a Confederate flag was waved in front of the White House. When the police showed up, one participant said it looked "like something out of Kenya".
  • Again, Representative Pete Reid who, during government shutdown negotiations, told the President "I can't even stand to look at you".  He claimed his remark "was not racially motivated...I am not a racist.  I can't stand this black president because I fundamentally disagree with his actions as President."  Then why was it necessary to describe him as "this black president"?
  • And Joe Wurzelbacher, (you may remember him as Joe the Plumber) Republican activist who recently posted an article on his website explaining that wanting a "white Republican" back in the White House doesn't make you a racist.  If race wasn't part of the equation, then why signify a "white" Republican?  
Man-on-the-street Republicans take their cues from Republican leadership; and the signals that party leadership has sent since 2008 is that intolerance and a lack of respect is okay--just don't get caught and if you are caught have a good explanation ready.

I am ashamed that I came face to face with my own cowardice when a chance to call out racism was thrust at me this morning.  I was embarrassed for the attendant, who had to listen to the condescending jerk, and  I gave him a bigger smile than I can usually summon before noon on any given day, but I wish I had said something to the speaker.  Would it have made a difference?  I don't know; but I should have let him know that our shared whiteness did not make us kindred spirits. 

 I will be regretting my silence for a good long time to come. 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Exhausted U.S. Representatives Head Home Early

The U.S. House of Representatives has not passed one major piece of legislation all year and they apparently have found that non-productive pace so exhausting that they have decided to work only three days this week instead of their usual four.  At the end of "business" on Wednesday, our well paid representatives will be closing shop until November 12. 

When asked about the fate of the farm bill and immigration reform, House leadership said that those are issues they would really like to take up this year if only they had more time.  

what eye thynk:  Most mere mortals are looking at 40 work days between now and January 1.  Even accounting for holidays off, most of us will work 35 days over the next eight weeks.  The House, however, is scheduled to be in session only 19 days through the end of the year...NINETEEN.  I imagine they'll spend some of those days looking for new ways to derail the Affordable Care Act, so I can see how time may be an issue for them.

Might I suggest a solution Mr. Boehner et al?   Stop treating your $176,000 (or more) job as part-time employment and try working 40 hours a week for a couple of months.  Really, surprise us all and put at least one finished bill under the national Christmas tree.

Monday, October 28, 2013

October 28 - Monday Quote

A reminder not to sweat the small stuff.

monday quote:  In the end, only three things matter: how much you loved, how gently you lived and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you. (Buddha, sage, approximately 563 BCE to 483 BCE) 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Should Republicans Outlaw the Name "Rick"?

1) Rick Snyder (R), Governor of Michigan is poised to sign a bill that would end unemployment benefits to people who failed a drug test while looking for a new job.
2) Rick Scott (R), Governor of Florida found only two examples of voter fraud in his latest investigation, (both were the result of fake registrations filed by a Republican voter registration worker), but will spend thousands more this year to re-do the investigation because he knows the first one missed something.
3) Rick Walker (R), Governor of Wisconsin tried to prohibit freedom of speech by denying people the right to protest at the state capitol building.  His decision was overturned by state courts.  He led the successful campaign to deny police and fire unions the right to negotiate better contracts and recently signed a restrictive voter ID law. He has decided that his state will not expand Medicaid benefits.
4) Rick Perry (R), Governor of Texas circumvented state law to get new abortion restrictions passed in his state.  He recently signed a new voter ID law. He is proud that his state will not be expanding Medicaid benefits.
---> RANDOM THOUGHT:  Maybe we should just stop electing Republicans who are named Rick.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

When is a "Glitch" Not a "Glitch"?

2006 -- Joe Barton (R-Texas), answering questions during W's presidency about problems with the roll out of Medicare Plan D: "This is a huge undertaking and there are going to be glitches."

2013 -- Joe Barton (R-Texas), in response to Democrats saying that the roll out of the Affordable Care Act is a huge undertaking and is experiencing "glitches":  That's just a ridiculous "cop-out".

what eye thynk:   In 2006, Democrats did not like Medicare Plan D; but once it became the law of the land, they did not try to undermine it by voting 40+ times to defund it.  They did not put up roadblocks designed to deny those eligible for the plan the information they needed to sign up.  They did not appeal to local sports heroes asking them not to support it.   They did not accuse contractors of crimes.  They did not demand that the Secretary of Health and Human Services resign from W's cabinet.  They did not hold the entire country hostage demanding that it be repealed.

 In 2013, the Republican Party has done all of the above and more.

Republicans have lost this battle, but that doesn't stop people like Joe Barton--the same Joe Barton who apologized to BP in 2010 after their huge oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, (have to keep the campaign fund money men happy, you know)--from attempting to score some cheap points for himself and his anti-ACA obsessed party. 

But, we shouldn't be too hard on them.  After all, cheap points is about all they have left.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Quick Fact: In Washington, You Can Spell Hypocrisy C-R-U-Z

During last month's government shutdown, Ted Cruz and his Tea Party cronies tried everything they could think of to derail the Affordable Care Act.   One measure, crafted by Senator David Vitter (R-Louisiana) and pushed by Mr. Cruz during negotiations to re-open the U.S. would have eliminated employer paid health care for all federal employees.  In the hope that Democrats would be shamed into capitulation, the proposal was voiced as a "see what we are willing to sacrifice" argument by Mr. Cruz.

When Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) questioned Mr. Cruz about his own health insurance, Mr. Cruz would say only that he was "eligible" for federal health benefits, but that he was "not currently covered under" the Capitol Hill employee program.  

It turns out that Mr. Cruz's "sacrifice" was really not a sacrifice at all--at least not for him.  He is fully covered, at no cost to himself or his family, by his wife's health care policy which she receives as an employee of Goldman Sachs.  
So, while Mr. Cruz was happy to offer that every federal employee give up their employer paid health coverage--from his fellow congressmen to the lowest paid of his own aides and every federal employee in his home state--in order to win a few anti-Obama bragging points, he did so knowing that it would come at zero cost to himself.
I give you Senator Ted Cruz, (R-Texas), Poster Child for the Hypocrisy Guild of America.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Ohio Gov. John Kasich Uses Wrong Method to Make Right Choice

Governor John Kasich (R), has done an end-around Ohio's Republican dominated legislature in order to expand Medicaid in his state.  

Earlier this year, Ohio's General Assembly voted against expanding Medicaid as part of the roll out of the Affordable Care Act.  After seeing the Tea Party federal government shutdown fail and with public opinion of the ACA slowly rising, Mr. Kasich, who has made many decisions in his tenure that have been highly unpopular with Democratic voters and who is facing a re-election bid next year, then asked the Ohio Controlling Board, a separate legislative entity that is charged with approving agency spending requests, to vote on the issue.   On October 21, this seven member panel voted in favor of adding 275,000 poor and uninsured Ohioans to their Medicaid roster.

Two-thirds of Republican members of the legislature have signed a letter of protest stating that they question Mr. Kasich's move on legal and constitutional grounds and plan to file a suit with the state court to stop the expansion.  In light of Mr. Kasich's questionable move, Republicans in the General Assembly and across the state have voiced their opposition to Mr. Kasich's re-election bid.

what eye thynk:   Governor John Kasich, faced with a losing Tea Party cause and looking to keep his job in 2014, (he won the governorship by only 2 points in 2010), did the right thing, but in a wrong--and possibly illegal--way.  So now, Ohio's Medicaid expansion will be put on hold while a costly suit makes its way through the Ohio court system, leaving Ohio's poor with no clear answer to their health insurance status next year.

Republicans can't seem to keep from shooting themselves in the foot even when they're taking the moral high ground. 

While I applaud Mr. Kasich's decision to back Ohio's Medicaid expansion, I have to question why he seems to believe that Ohio's State Constitution doesn't apply to him. Seven other Republican dominated state legislatures have been convinced by their Republican governors to expand Medicaid without resorting to backdoor tactics.  Mr. Kasich chose, instead, to force his (morally and financially correct) decision on the state without benefit of Ohio law.

I guess that's what comes from drinking the Republican messianic Kool-aid.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

John McAfee, Belize Police Want to Talk to Him...the Republican Party Wants to Hire Him

John McAfee designed anti-virus computer software that made him a very rich man.   Following some drug-induced escapades here in the U.S., he moved to Belize and surrounded himself with bodyguards, dogs, guns and teen-aged girls.  Mr. McAfee made himself unpopular with neighbors by chasing them off a public beach that fronted his cottage. A fellow American, Gregory Faull, who lived a few hundred yards down the beach, filed a  noise complaint against Mr. McAfee and his large number of barking dogs.  Soon after the complaint was filed, Mr. Faull was found shot to death.  When Belize police tried to talk to Mr. McAfee about Mr. Faull's death, Mr. McAfee fled to Guatemala, entering that country illegally.  Guatemala later deported him back to the U.S.   The police in Belize still want to talk to Mr. McAfee about his neighbor's murder.

And this is the man the Republican controlled House committee responsible for the oversight of the Affordable Care Act has asked to "guide our oversight and review" the implementation of federal marketplaces selling ACA insurance.
Has the entire Republican House been lobotomized?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

I Am Going to Miss Her Next Year

what eye thynk:   Apparently science is not a required subject in Minnesota.

Monday, October 21, 2013

October 21 - Monday Quote

As the federal government shutdown ended and Republican hard-liners looked for ways to claim victory while promising to fight the same fight again, President Obama, who refused to enter into a tit for tat battle with the Tea Party over the Affordable Care Act until they agreed to re-open the government and raise the debt ceiling, took his real victory and used it to start the process of moving the country forward, voicing his willingness to fight for progress on important issues like immigration and tax reform and, yes, even changes to the Affordable Care Act.

The President's push for immigration reform now is strategy as art.  If Republicans vote against it, they lose the Hispanic vote.  If Republicans vote for it, it will be seen as a victory for the President.

It is a perfect example of Sun Tzu's point in chapter 3 of his 475 BC treatise The Art of War.

monday quote:   Thus it is that in war the victorious strategist only seeks battle after the victory has been won; whereas, he who is destined to defeat, first fights and afterwards looks for victory. (Sun Tzu, Chinese military general and strategist, lived sometime between 500-320 BC)

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Quick Fact: Same Sex Wedding Bells Can Begin Ringing in New Jersey Tomorrow!

The New Jersey Supreme Court has ruled that sex couples can begin marrying in New Jersey on Monday!

Last month, Mercer County Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson ruled that, in light of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision on DOMA, New Jersey was in violation of the state's constitutional guarantee to equal rights and that same sex couples should have the right to marry in New Jersey. Governor Chris Christie (R), who last year vetoed a bill legalizing same sex marriage, immediately filed an appeal to the State Supreme Court to block these marriages from happening.

On Friday, the State Supreme Court ruled that, while oral arguments would be heard in January on Mr. Christie's appeal, in the meantime, he could not stop same sex marriages from going forward. 

In the Court's decision, Chief Justice Stuart Rabner wrote: "The State has advanced a number of arguments, but none of them overcome this reality: same sex couples who cannot marry are not treated equally under the law today...The State has not shown a reasonable probability that it will succeed on the merits (of the appeal)...When a party presents a clear case of ongoing unequal treatment, and asks the court to vindicate constitutionally protected rights, a court may not sidestep its obligation to rule for an indefinite amount of time.  Under those circumstances, courts do not have the option to defer."  

This decision does not bode well for Gov. Christie's scheduled appeal. 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Quick Fact: Larry Craig Says It's Okay to Use Campaign Funds for Airport Sex Sting Defense--It Was Official Business

Remember ex-Idaho Senator Larry Craig who was arrested in a bathroom sex sting at the airport a few years ago?  It seems he used $217,000 in campaign funds to pay for his defense and now federal election regulators say he has to give that money back.

"Mr. Craig used these funds converted from his campaign committee to pay legal expenses he incurred in connection with his arrest, guilty plea and subsequent efforts to withdraw his guilty plea in Minnesota."

Larry is fighting refunding all that money.  His reason?  He says that since he was in the airport on official government business, it was okay to use campaign funds in his defense.
I do not see this turning out well for Mr. Craig.

Friday, October 18, 2013

"Oppose the black guy" is Good Republican Politics

what eye thynk:  Mr. Crawford, a Republican state representative in South Carolina, supports the expansion of Medicaid as part of the ACA.  

His assessment of his party is, unfortunately, ugly--but refreshingly honest.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Eye Recommend --- Why We Miss Kay Bailey Hutchison

WHY WE MISS KAY  BAILEY HUTCHISON, by Houston Chronicle Editorial Board --
Curious to see how Ted Cruz' antics were playing in Texas, I took a look at the Houston Chronicle this week.  The news was not good.  In Wednesday's edition, I found Ted's hometown newspaper had published an op-ed piece apologizing for their endorsement of his candidacy in last year's election.   
"Does anyone else miss Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison?...

...One reason we particularly believe that Hutchison would make a difference in these hectic days is that if she had kept her seat, Cruz would not be in the Senate."
"When we endorsed Ted Cruz in last November's general election, we did so with many reservations and at least one specific recommendation--that he follow Hutchison's example in his conduct as a senator.

Obviously, he has not done so..."
So much for Cruz' claim that he is listening to and standing up for the 'voice of the people'. He's not even answering the message from his hometown.
"Cruz has been part of the problem in specific situations where Hutchison would have been part of the solution.

We feel certain she would have worked shoulder to shoulder with Sen. Susan Collins, (R-Maine), in crafting a workable solution that likely would have avoided the government shutdown altogether.  

But we'll never know."
A recent Washington Post/ABC poll found that 74% of voters disapprove of the Republican Party while an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found that just 14% of Americans approve of Cruz.  Now it looks like even Mr. Cruz's hometown can't find much good to say about him.  
My heart is not broken.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Quick Fact: Boehner Admits Republican Defeat...Budget Deal Will Get a Vote

The deal is done.  Voting taking place today and President Obama is expected to sign it this evening.

As posted by Steve Benen:
"Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), officially out of options, has agreed to bring the bipartisan Senate package to the floor, where it's expected to pass with largely Democratic support.  It will still need the support of no fewer than 17 House Republicans, but that's not expected to be a problem...Democrats will pay no ransom...The Republican Party has absolutely nothing to show for their efforts, except a collapse in public support,"
Please, please, please let the House come to their senses and pass this bill.  
And please, please, please, PLEASE stop this from happening all over again in a few months.

Quick Fact: House Republicans Offer Bill to Guarantee We Default On Schedule

In order to guarantee that the United States of America defaults on its debts on schedule, Republicans in the House have proposed a bill that would take away the Treasury Department's ability to move funds around in order to cover our bills for a few extra days thus giving our non-productive Congress more time to come to their senses and raise the debt ceiling as they did seven times under W and eighteen times under Ronald Reagan.

The whole idea behind this bill is to ensure that we wake up on Friday to worldwide financial devastation and that the damage is as fulsome as possible.  House Republicans believe that this will force the Senate to come to their senses and pass the budget and debt ceiling deal as designed by their delusional, ultra-conservative caucus.  

No vote is scheduled on this ridiculous bill. (Apparently even John Boehner has limits.)
House Republicans have allowed themselves to be backed into a corner by Ted Cruz and his homies and are throwing out smoke bombs in order to deflect their constituents from seeing how hopeless their position is.  
Since these people seem to so often enjoin Bible verses in their causes, I would like to offer this one:
Proverbes 16:18 Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.

The Republican War on Women - The (Budget) War in Congress

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

Republicans continue to say 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 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 Congressional Front 

the facts and commentary:   We are less than 48 hours from financial chaos.  Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has two choices:  he can continue to dance at the end of the strings held by the Tea Party puppeteers or he can save the country from financial disaster.  He cannot do both.

He continues to refuse to present the compromise budget passed by the Senate to a full vote of the House. If only 10% of House Republicans voted with the Democratic caucus, our financial dance with disaster would be over.  Instead, Mr. Boehner continues to follow the demands of the Tea Party-ers who insist that restrictions to the ACA must be part of a budget deal.

Their latest proposal?  They want to append language to the budget that would restrict a woman's access to birth control.  Any woman wanting contraception coverage would have to pay for it out of pocket at her doctor's office or purchase a separate rider at her own expense.  The cost of this rider could not be covered by employee benefits or paid for with the government stipend intended to help lower income women and families pay for health insurance.
I have just one question for these conservative nut cases:  Since when did my decision to have or not to have children become germane to funding the government?
It is obvious this proposal is going nowhere so why even waste time on it?  I am a woman, not a far right political pawn.  And I vote. 
The Republican War on Women is "fiction"?


Read more here:

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Million Vet March Organizers Condemn Tea Party Takeover

Last Sunday, a veterans' group organized what they called a "Million Vet March" to protest the government closing of veteran memorial sites like the WWII memorial in Washington DC.  Marches were held in over 60 cities across the nation.  "It is our official position that the purpose of this march and the accompanying rallies is focused on the re-opening of the Veterans memorials and keeping them open." 

Their demonstration was intended to be low key and apolitical.  The event turned ugly when Tea Party hardliners, led by Ted Cruz and Sarah Palin, (who were not invited to the event), tore down barricades at the WWII memorial and carried them to the White House where the demonstrators waved a Confederate flag and chanted anti-Obama slogans.  One demonstrator went so far as to say that the President should put down his Koran and come out with his hands up.

The original veterans group had, by that time, abandoned what was no longer the peaceful, apolitical demonstration they had planned.  The next day, the group posted this message on their website:  "The political agenda put forth by a local organizer in Washington DC was not in alignment with our message.  We feel disheartened that some would seek to hijack the narrative for political gain." 

Their Facebook page had this message regarding the Tea Party hijacking of their demonstration:  "We made the mistake of trying to partner with some Washington insiders that thwarted many of our genuine concerns for keeping this apolitical.  We do not support the manner in which they go about it...Our hearts were heavy by the disheartening acts of a few powerful Washington elite and political extremists jumping on the opportunity to make money."

what eye think:    I believe, that, if the government is shutdown, government offices closed, government workers furloughed and national monuments and parks closed, veterans' memorials should not be exempted from the shutdown. They are a government entity like any other, guarded and run by furloughed government employees.  I do, however, believe that veterans have the right to protest their closing, especially in the peaceful manner they had planned.  

What I cannot abide is the Tea Party's seeming belief that their anti-Obama hatred would be welcomed as one and the same with the veterans' message. The Tea Party's insular focus resulted in their inability to see that the veteran group's disagreement with one government policy did not mean disagreement with all policies nor did it equate with hatred of the man who stands at the forefront of those policies.  

As Jason Easley wrote for Politicus USA:
"Tea partiers are proud of themselves for taking an event about veterans and turning it into another platform to showcase their hatred of this president, but they should be ashamed of themselves. The people who turned the march into an anti-Obama rally shamed and humiliated our veterans.  Every vet knows that it doesn't matter what political party a president is from, (he is) still the Commander in Chief.  The organizers of this event may or may not be conservatives, but it is clear that they didn't want the Tea Party mob, or Palin and Cruz's grandstanding at their event.
Veterans are about honor and sacrifice.  The Republicans who politicized the event brought dishonor to the very values that our veterans embody.  To self-promoters like Palin and Cruz, veterans are nothing more than props to be used for political and financial gain, and they are proud to have tarnished our nation's veterans with their selfish extremism."
Tea Party hardliners like Ted Cruz and Sarah Palin are incapable of showing respect for any opinion that is not in lockstep with their own; and they have listened to no one but themselves for so long that they have reached the point where their egos allow them to believe they are speaking for everyone and are welcome everywhere.  They have become totally unaware that their focus on bringing down the duly elected President of the United States at all costs is shameful and antithetical to the principles of our democracy...the same democracy that these veterans fought to preserve.

The veterans' demonstration was an example of our constitutional right to free speech.  The Tea Party preemption  was nothing more than "me speech"--prime examples of their selective deafness to all but their own hate-filled bombast and their belief that no one is as important as themselves...even our nation's veterans.

Monday, October 14, 2013

October 14 - Monday Quote

I've always thought Jimmy Carter made a better ex-president than he did a president.  Either way, I've always admired his humility and social conscience--something that far right Republicans could use a little more of.

monday quote:

                                                                       (Jimmy Carter, U.S. President, 1924 -    )

Sunday, October 13, 2013

An Interesting But Not Really Political Quick Fact: A Conundrum in Ohio

Donald Miller of Ohio disappeared years ago leaving behind a wife and two small children to whom he owed thousands in child support.  In 1994, Mrs. Miller, being desperate for funds to take care of her family, went to court to have him declared legally dead so she could apply for Social Security survivor benefits for her two children.

Now Mr. Miller has re-appeared in Ohio saying that he has been bumming around Florida since his disappearance, but now he wants to get a job and can't get anyone to hire him because his Social Security number is on record as belong to a dead man.  He asked the Ohio court to have him declared alive and to reactivate his Social Security number.

Ohio law prohibits this sort of reversal after three years of the original "you're dead" declaration. (This comes up so often that Ohio has a law to cover it?!)  The court denied his request.

Mr. Miller plans to appeal; but Mrs. Miller's lawyer is fighting against him.  Why?  Because, if he gets his way and officially regains his living status, the Social Security Administration will want Mrs. Miller and her children to return every penny they've received in benefits for the past 19 years with interest--money that she and they, of course, do not have.

Mrs. Miller would have to go back to court to sue Mr. Miller for all the back child support he owes--money he does not have, though getting a job would seem to be the first step in rectifying that.  (But having fled the state to avoid paying child support in the first place, would he be willing to pay now?)
And here we have a classic case of damned it you do--damned if you don't.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Eye Recommend --- An Open Letter to Speaker Boehner

An Open Letter to Speaker Boehner, by Mike Selinker --
This was posted on Schrodinger's Blog on October 6, 2013.  It is brilliant.

"Hello, Speaker Boehner.  Thanks for reading this.

We haven't met, so let me introduce myself.  I'm Mike Selinker, a game designer from Seattle.  (My job is) a far less important one than you have.  But every now and then, my job can be useful for someone who has one like yours.  I hope today is one of those occasions.

I'd like to talk to you about something you said on Friday, October 4.  You said, referring to the government shutdown, "This isn't some damn game!"

I would like to commend you for that statement, because as a game designer, I can tell you that it's absolutely true.  But I think you've only scratched the surface of why.

That's because the shutdown your party caused isn't a game.  It's a puzzle.

As someone who designs both puzzles and games professionally, I often get asked to define the difference between a game and a puzzle.  There are many possible answers to this question, but the one I've settled upon is this:

A game is an activity where, if fairly constructed, two sides given the same advantages will have a rougly equal chance to win.  A puzzle is an activity where, if fairly constructed, one side will have all the advantages, except that the disadvantaged side is expected to win.

So, if you don't mind, let me break that down a bit.

In a game...both sides face each other on a more or less even playing field...If both sides show up with equal knowledge, skill, and preparation, there should be a reasonable question as to which will win.

One critical aspect of creating a fair game is acceptance of a set of rules.  We can't be expected to play hockey if my team brings hockey sticks and your team brings machine guns.  Thankfully, the rules of hockey are rather strict on what equipment we can use.  If someone breaks those rules, they're not 'negotiating.' they're cheating.

If the shutdown were a game, your side would have broken the rules.  The rules of the American government are that if the Congress passes a law, and the President signs a law, and the Supreme Court upholds a law, the law should be enacted.  As of last count, your side had decided 40+ times to stop playing by the rules. Which, if this were a game, would be cheating.

But as I said, this is not a game, it's a puzzle.

In a puzzle, the field of play is horribly imbalanced.  The puzzlemaker has as much time as desired to prepare...and knowledge of the answer.  The puzzle solver has none of these things...The puzzlemaker would, in a game situation, be favored to triumph every single time.

So to put this in context, the GOP has placed this puzzle in front of the Democrats:  We have all agreed to fund the Affordable Care Act.  However, the House has hidden the funding.  What is the set of actions that will get the ACA funded?...

...It's a tough puzzle.  But this gets me to the final piece of my definition, which is that, if the puzzle is properly constructed, the puzzle's disadvantagd side is expected to win.

In a puzzle, the puzzlemaker isn't looking to beat the solver.  Instead, the puzzlemaker gives the solver all the tools to beat him.  If the solver attacks the puzzle in the right way, she will defeat the challenge...

...That's why you're losing.  The Democrats are figuring out the puzzle.  When the House unanimously promised back pay to furloughed workers, you paid 800,000 government workers to do nothing.  That's counter to your side's principle of crusading against wasteful government.  The more the Democrats encourage you to abandon your principles, the better off they are.

And--I hope this doesn't come across as too judgemental--I don't think you know how to solve your own puzzle.  In fact, I'm pretty sure that a fringe group of maybe 50 Tea Party Congressmen designed it for you, and encouraged you to give it to the President.  I would never present a puzzle I didn't design and didn't know how to solve.

So here's what I would suggest:  Take your puzzle back and redesign it.  Test it on some of your more rabid party members, threatening to block all of their proposals until they adhere to the rule of the law.  Or maybe just shoot it into the heart of the sun.  Either way, realize that you're not play a damn game either.

Thanks for listening, and I hope this is useful.

Mike Selinker"

And, if House Republicans, Speaker Boehner  and his Tea Party handlers still think they're "winning", they might want to consider this graph:

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Republican War on Women -- The Battle in Ohio

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

Republicans continue to say 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 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 Ohio Front

the facts and commentary:   Ohio has abandoned the national conservative Republican stance being used in many states that abortion restrictions are needed to protect the health of women.  Ohio anti-abortion crusaders blatantly acknowledge that their purpose in enacting new restrictions is to eliminate abortion completely in their state and that they intend to do it in small steps so as not to attract federal oversight. 

Last year, anti-abortion groups failed to garner enough signatures to get a fetal heartbeat on the state ballot.  In the face of apparent citizen support for abortion rights and in attempt to avoid federal scrutiny of outright abortion bans, the state legislature began a program of small, incremental steps to prohibit abortion.  Most recently, Ohio's Republican lead legislature thought they would sneak new regulations into Ohio law by adding abortion restrictions onto the state budget at the last minute. Governor John Kasich (R) has signed all the new abortion restrictions into law including those tacked onto the state budget.

In his anti-abortion crusade, Mr. Kasich has even gone so far as to appoint Mike Gonidakis, anti-abortion crusader and President of Ohio Right to Life, (and who is NOT a medical doctor), to the Ohio State Medical Board and Marchal Pitchford, another anti-abortion crusader and chairman of Right to Life to a panel that will help choose who will fill an Ohio Supreme Court vacancy--the same court that will review upcoming challenges to the legislature's new abortion restrictions.  I guess if you can't win fairly, stacking the deck in your favor is seen as an acceptable option.

Anti-abortion proponents say these restrictions "rightfully make women think twice before ending a pregnancy".  Do these idiots really think a woman has NOT thought long and hard about her choice before entering a clinic?  

Ohio's recent incremental restrictions include:
  1. ending competitive bidding for federal family planning grants in order to assure that none of that money goes to Planned Parenthood. ----- The one-thought legislature fails to take in account that--by law--PP uses NO FEDERAL MONEY to fund abortions. All abortion costs are covered by private donations, so their punitive action accomplishes nothing on the anti-abortion front but does prevent poor Ohio women from obtaining services like mammograms and pap smears which PP does use federal money to provide.
  2. arranging new financing for state rape crisis centers if they agree to never mention abortion as an option. ----- Because carrying a rapist's child for nine months would not add to the trauma a woman has already experienced?  
  3. naming a specific drug protocol for doctors who perform medical abortions.  Ohio doctors and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists state that this protocol is outdated and less safe than the protocol they recommend. ----- Apparently we are supposed to believe that being elected to state office grants you instant access to more medical knowledge than the M.D. who has gone through years of rigorous training.  
  4. barring public hospitals from signing emergency transfer agreements with abortion doctors. For years, Ohio has required abortion clinics to obtain emergency transfer agreements before granting them a license to operate, so this restriction is designed simply to override a previous law. ----- Maybe Ohio legislators are unaware that this particular restriction has been ruled unconstitutional in North Dakota and Oklahoma?  And do these legislators really think they have the right to decide who gets emergency care and who doesn't?
Ohio's latest attempt to curtail abortions, includes a law that took effect just this month requiring abortion providers to perform an ultrasound--even if the doctor deems it unnecessary--ask the woman if she wants to see it; and, following a mandated discussion of fetal heartbeats, ask the woman if she wants to hear it.  After this, the woman must wait 24 hours before returning to the clinic for the actual procedure.  As one Cleveland woman, who already has two children and who suffered severe postpartum depression after the last birth, said "It's a hard decision for anybody to make. To make it more difficult by passing these laws and making women feel guilty is terrible."

This past week, the ACLU filed a challenge to Ohio's latest restrictions, asserting that, because they were added to an unrelated budget bill, they violate the Ohio Constitution's "single subject" rule.

Currently, prodded by activists like Mr. Gonidakis, Ohio legislators are considering a heartbeat bill that would ban all abortions after six weeks--before many women even realize they're pregnant.  This would be the exact same heartbeat bill that failed to garner enough votes to be put on the state ballot last year. 

 The Republican War on Women is "fiction"?


Read more here:

Thursday, October 10, 2013

"Negotiation" Simplified so Republicans Can Understand

So yesterday, House Republicans tried again..this time they offered to talk about re-opening the government if the Senate agreed to postpone the personal penalty for the uninsured who refuse to purchase health insurance through the Affordable Care Act.

what eye thynk:  When will they realize this anti-ACA tactic is dead in the water?  The Senate can't make changes to the law through negotiations even if they wanted to, (and they definitely don't want to).  Certainly Congress can make changes to the law, they can even repeal it; but to do that they must write a bill, debate that bill, (where they are welcome to negotiate all they want to), and vote on that bill. 

A law that was passed by both houses of Congress--no matter how lopsided or partisan the final vote--signed into law by the duly elected President of the United States and upheld by the Supreme Court is not negotiable; you can't blackmail it out of existence.  That is not how our democracy works. 

Maybe passing a class in constitutional law should be required before allowing children to sit in Congress; though I wonder how much difference that would make to the adolescents currently playing at Tea Party-ing since they have made it clear that they believe themselves to be so exceptional that the rules don't apply to them.  

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Eye Recommend --- The U.S. Fringe Festival

THE U.S. FRINGE FESTIVAL, by Thomas L. Friedman
Mr. Friedman points out that moderate Republicans need to stop blaming the President and take charge of their own party; that only if they stand up to Ted Cruz and his Tea Party hardliners will our country be able to move forward.  
Any underlines are mine.
"There is one group of people with an even greater interest than Democrats in President Obama prevailing over Tea Party Republicans in this shutdown showdown, and that is mainstream Republicans....

...If the 'Ted Cruz Wing' of the G.O.P. prevails and forces the president to curtail Obamacare in anyway in return for funding the government, mainstream conservatives will be looking at a terrible future.  In the near term, they'll be taking orders from Senator Ted Cruz...

...In the long run, because this fringe would be dictating the party line, Republicans would stand zero chance of winning the White House in 2016.  If the country rejected Mitt Romney's bad imitation of far-right conservative--one hostile to immigration reform, health care, gay marriage and a grand bargain--imagine how the real thing would fare...

...The only thing standing between mainstream Republicans and a hellish future of kowtowing to Ted President Obama's refusal to give in to the shutdown blackmail that Cruz & Co. have cooked up.  The more pragmatic Republicans, who know that this is a disaster for their party but won't confront Cruz & Co., have settled on this bogus line:  'Well, sure, maybe Cruz and the Tea Party went too far, but it's still President Obama's fault.  He's president.  He should negotiate with them.  He needs to lead.'

President Obama is leading.  He is protecting the very rules that are the foundation of any healthy democracy.  He is leading by not giving in to this blackmail, because if he did he would undermine the principle of majority rule that is the bedrock of our democracy.  That system guarantees the minority the right to be heard and to run for office and become the majority, but it also ensures that once voters have spoken, and their representatives have voted--and, if legally challenged, the Supreme Court has also ruled in their favor--the majority decision holds sway.  A minority of the minority, which has lost every democratic means to secure its agenda, has no right to now threaten to tank our economy if its demands are not met...

The president has said that he would give the G.O.P. an agenda for negotiations that could start when the government is funded and the debt ceiling lifted...What Obama will not do, and must not do, is pay an entry fee to that negotiation--say giving up the medical-device tax--just to help Boehner down from the tree...

The reason so many mainstream Republican lawmakers want Obama to give something to Cruz & Co. is that they want to get out of this mess, but they're all afraid to stand up to the far-right fringe themselves--with its bullying network of barking talk-show hosts and moneymen.  But Obama shouldn't take them off the hook.  Only Republicans can delegitimize the nihilistic madness at the base of their party...

...American needs a proper right-of-center conservative party to challenge a left-of-center Democratic Party. Without a healthy opposition party--one that is ready to win some and lose some and learn from its losses, one that has a real agenda for upward mobility, not just a low-tax obsession and boiling anger--our two-party system doesn't work, and neither does the country."

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Quick Fact: Republicans Offer Assault Weapon as Top Raffle Prize

The Republican Party in Rhode Island is holding a fund raising raffle.  Top prize is an AK15, a military style assault weapon.

They got the idea from the NRA which is holding a "Banned Weapons" raffle later this month. Their advertising notes that they will be raffling off examples of all the weapons Congress failed to ban after Newtown.
Are you as disgusted as I am?

Monday, October 7, 2013

October 7 - Monday Quote

The House of Representatives comes quickly to mind...

monday quote:  The trouble with America is that there are far too many wide-open spaces surrounded by teeth.  (Charles Luckman, businessman, 1909-1999)

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Quick Fact: Demand Exceeds Supply = Fail

On Tuesday, the first day people could sign up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, 2.8 million people jammed phone lines and internet sites causing many to receive messages asking them to try again later. 

If the same thing had happened on the release day of a new Apple iPhone, we would be hearing about how wildly popular the iPhone is and how the millions of people who couldn't wait to get their hands on one crashed the Apple website, proving that it is the most popular phone in the world. 

Yet, Republicans are still holding the country hostage, still demanding that the President dismantle the ACA because "nobody likes the law, nobody wants to buy health insurance through the federal government, the law is a failure." 
 So, in Republican-land when demand exceeds supply it is proof of failure?  Who knew?

Saturday, October 5, 2013

The Republican Shutdown Digest: Clueless, Gimme and Druthers

Three semi-connected thoughts on the federal government shutdown and how House Republicans are dealing with the fallout...

1.  We Have No Idea What We're Doing
Representative Marlin Stutzman (R-Indiana) told the Washington Examiner:  "We're not going to be disrespected.  We have to get something out of this.   And I don't know what that even is.

what eye thynk:  "Disrespected"?  Sounds like something I'd expect to hear from some urban gangsta wannabe. It does not make me feel any better to find out that even some Republicans have no idea what they're doing.

2.  Give Me My Money
Representative Renee Ellmers will not be deferring her congressional paycheck during the government shutdown as some Representatives are doing.  "I need my paycheck.  That's the bottom line.  I understand that there may be some other members who are deferring their paychecks, and I think that's admirable.  I'm not in that position."

what eye thynk:  Ms. Ellmer's husband, a general surgeon, makes between $250,000 and $400,000 a year, so I can see how it would be a struggle for her to make ends meet without the $174,000 we pay her.  And I'm sure the 800,000 furloughed Americans--both the low paid clerks out in the hinterlands and her own aides, (who are paid an average of $60,000 a year)--and who will be going without a paycheck while she and her fellow Republicans in the House hold the country hostage, will understand too.

3.   We Want to Destroy Something--You Choose
A Twitter-er, (is that even a word?) by the name of Judd Legume, (great "handle"), described the House's insistence on sending multiple spending bills to the Senate, each putting a different piece of the ACA on the chopping block and expecting the Senate to support one of them this way:  

  • House:  Can I burn down your house? -- Senate:  No
  • House:  Just the second floor? -- Senate:  No
  • House:  How about the garage? -- Senate:  No
  • House:  Let's talk about what part I can burn down. -- Senate:  No
  • House:  You aren't compromising!

what eye thynk:  This links back to Mr. Stutzman's clueless quote to the Washington Examiner, because only a completely nescient House could honestly be surprised that the Democrats in the Senate and the President would be unwilling to identify what part of their signature health care law they are willing to put to the torch in order to satisfy the Republican hunger for destruction.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Maybe the Senate Should Communicate in Child-ese So the House Can Understand Them?

Prior to the federal government shutdown, House Republicans added a list of "must haves", (defund the ACA, agree to build the Keystone XL oil pipeline, eliminate funds for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, drop regulations on greenhouse gases, open federal lands to private oil drilling...), if they were to sit down and talk about a new budget with the Senate.
 --->  RANDOM THOUGHT:  Now that Vice-Speaker Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and his assistant John Boehner (R- Ohio) are crying to the heavens that the Senate won't sit down and talk with them, wouldn't it be fun if the Senate sent their own list of "must haves"?  --  We'll sit down and talk about the budget if you agree to pass a bill requiring universal background checks for gun purchases, vote for immigration reform including the Dream Act, fully fund the food stamp program, budget enough money to begin the rebuilding of our roads and bridges and give up your three year war on the ACA.  Childish, I know; but Child-ese does seem to be the native tongue of House Republicans these days.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Eye Recommend --- John Boehner's Shutdown (and Republicans posing for their Oscar)

JOHN BOEHNER'S SHUTDOWN, by the New York Times Editorial Board --
This New York Times Op-ed piece puts the blame for the government shutdown squarely on the ineffectual shoulders of John Boehner (R-Ohio)--and rightfully so.   
As always, my comments are indented and in italics.
"By Tuesday morning, the leadership failure of Speaker John Boehner was complete.  In encouraging the impossible quest of House Republicans to dismantle health care reform, he pushed the country into a government shutdown that will now begin to take a grievous economic toll. 

At any point, Mr. Boehner could have stopped it.  Had he put on the floor a simple temporary spending resolution to keep the government open, without the outrageous demands to delay or defund the health reform law, it could easily have passed the House with a strong majority--including with sizable support from Republican members, many of whom are aware of how badly this collapse will damage their party.

But Mr. Boehner refused.  He stood in the well of the House and repeated the tired falsehood that the Affordable Care Act was killing jobs.  He came up with a series of increasingly ridiculous demands:  defund the health law, delay it for a year, stop its requirement that employers pay for contraception...strip Congressional employees of their health subsidies..."
That last one really came out of nowhere.  Members of Congress and their staffs are required--by law--to purchase their health insurance through their home state insurance exchanges.  The cost of that purchase will be paid for by the federal government, (their employer) as part of their employee benefit package. 
What would taking employer paid health care away from low paid congressional staff members accomplish other than to punish the people who do all of Congress' grunt work?  It was like Boehner was going under for the third time and in his panic had started speaking in tongues!
And notice, there was no mention of stripping actual members of Congress of THEIR health care subsidies. 
"All (the demands) were instantly rejected by the Senate.  'They've lost their minds,' Senator Harry Reid, the majority leader, said of the House Republicans.  'They keep trying to do the same thing over and over again.'

Finally, at the last minute, when there was still time to end the charade with a straightforward spending bill, Mr. Boehner made the most absurd demand of all:  an immediate conference committee with the Senate.  Suddenly, with less than an hour left, he wanted to set up formal negotiations?

For six months, the Senate has been demanding a conference with the House on the 2014 budget...but the House leadership has adamantly refused...For Mr. Boehner to call for a conference near midnight was the height of hypocrisy...

...Having let down the public, Republicans will now, inevitably, scramble to save their reputation.  They are desperate to make it appear as if President Obama and the Democrats are the ones being intransigent, hoping voters will think that everyone is at fault and simply blame 'Washington.'
This tactic was on full display Tuesday morning when, instead of actually working on the budget crisis in any positive way, House Republicans staged a piece of theater for the press. They set up a long table, sat eight serious looking Republicans on one side facing eight empty chairs, then invited the media to take photos.  This was supposed to demonstrate how they're ready to work if only the Democrats in the Senate would show up.   

Eric Cantor, House Majority Leader offered this self-serving tidibt:  "The way to resolve our differences is to sit down and talk.  And as you can see, there's no one here at the other side of the table." The whole display was pathetic. 
"Mr. Boehner even mocked the president...for refusing to negotiate over health reform, as if he actually expected Mr. Obama to join in wrecking a law that will provide health coverage to millions of uninsured Americans under threat of blackmail...

...Earlier in his presidency, Mr. Obama made the catastrophic mistake--in the face of just this sort of extortion--to believe in Mr. Boehner's willingness to be reasonable.  This time, however, the cynical games of the Republicans are not going to work.

The Republicans' reckless obsession with destroying health reform and with wounding the president has been on full display.  And, as the public's anger grows over this entirely unnecessary crisis, it should be aimed at a party and a speaker that are incapable of governing."

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Quick Fact: The Government is Closed (and, by the way, our President is Gay!)

Okay, the government is closed, the Republicans can't decide whether they're winning or losing and the Democrats are waiting for whatever cockamamie idea John Boehner allows the House to vote on next.  This is all very serious stuff; but sometimes you just have to take a step back and laugh.  To fill that need, I give you Dean Chambers, the conservative self-titled polling expert who claimed to "unskew" the polls during the 2012 election to show that Mitt Romney was really ahead by a landslide.  

His latest claim, as reported by

"The conservative activist who gained fame during the 2012 election for 'unskewing; polls favorable to Barack Obama explained this weekend his newest revelation:  the president is 'actually' gay.

Dean Chambers, founder of who now appears to work for The Examiner, said that Newsweek got it wrong when it ran a cover praising Obama for his evolution on gay marriage last year. Obama was not 'basically' the nation's first gay president for his progressive stance on the issue, but actually so.

'I do believe that Barack Obama is in fact our first gay president,' he wrote.  'But I believe this for entirely different reasons.  I believe the man actually is gay.  Don't tell me his marriage to Michelle and having two children disproves that he's gay.'

In the article, Chambers cites various sources claiming to show Barack Obama's closeted life in Chicago as a state senator.  He takes it even a step further, however, in defending Obama's Christian faith by arguing that people of Muslim faith 'are known to stone someone for being gay.'

'Would you be a Muslim if it put you at risk for being killed because of your lifestyle choices?' he asks."


I could find no evidence that Mr. Chamber's site, still exists.  All links to it seem to lead nowhere.  However you can read his entire Obama-is-a-gay-Muslim-masquerading-as-a-straight-Christian article, which was published by The Examiner, here:

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

C L O S E D !

As of midnight last night, the United States of America is officially closed.   The children running the Republican Party stamped their collective feet and refused to fund the government unless the President and his party defunded the Affordable Care Act. 

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) put his cowardice on open display and refused to put a clean spending bill to a full vote of the House, choosing instead to meekly allow the radicals in his party to hijack the country. Representative Peter King (R-NY) tried to rally enough moderate Republican votes to force the Speaker to call for a full vote under some obscure procedure called "the rule";  but he couldn't find 17 Republicans to join him.  

In a statement late last night Mr. King said:   "We have people in the conference, I believe, who'd be just as happy to have the government shut down.  They live in these narrow echo chambers.  They listen to themselves and their Tea Party friends.  That keeps them going, forgetting that the rest of the country thinks we are crazy."

Some Republican members of the House indicated that they would vote for a clean bill if the Speaker presented it, but would not stick their necks out to force a vote for fear of a Tea Party backlash come election time. 

At 12:01, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) sent a message to the Senate asking them to negotiate.

what eye thynk:   NOW they want to negotiate?  Where were they six months ago when the Senate sent their budget to the House and requested the creation of a conference committee to work out a compromise budget between the two chambers?  Oh, yeah, that was when the House sent a return message saying that they had no intention of  negotiating unless the ACA was defunded or repealed.  (Maybe "negotiate" has a different meaning in their dictionary?)

Forget that the law was debated and  passed by both chambers of Congress. Forget that the President signed it into law.  Forget that we had an election and the citizens of this country showed their support of the ACA by rejecting the candidate who promised to put an end to it.  Forget that the Supreme Court upheld the law.  

The Tea Party is all about defending democracy and the will of the people--until the people vote their opposition--then democracy is just a word and the people are just an inconvenience.