Saturday, January 31, 2015

Scott Walker: Taking from Students, Giving to Rich Sports Owners

College Drop-out and Governor of Wisconsin Scott Walker (R)

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (R) wants to give his state's university system more autonomy over how it budgets the funds it receives.  Each campus would be given jurisdiction over how it plans for available courses, professors, and building projects.

Governor Walker also wants to cut the University of Wisconsin's budget by $300 million over the next two years.

what eye thynk:   Mr. Walker would like the people of Wisconsin to believe that this cut is necessary in order to cover an unexpected state budget shortfall.   He would also like people to believe that this shortfall has nothing to do with the tax cuts he and his Republican legislature passed over the past few years.

The governor's office said this UW budget cut can be covered by eliminating "waste."  One possible method to staunch what the Governor sees as the university system's profligacy may be the closing of some campuses, though there are no plans to do so "at this time."  (How nice.)

Another cost cutting idea is the rethinking of tenured professorships.  Currently, state law prohibits the dismissal of tenured professors--which, really, is the whole point of tenure.  By removing that state sanction and putting the decision on how to handle tenure under each campus' autonomous rule, that protection--which is most often given only to the best professors--individual campuses could decide to save money by eliminating those who are the most experienced and may be more highly paid: tenured professors.  

Other probable ways to reduce "waste" would be the elimination of some student services, a cut in the number of graduate teaching assistants, fewer course offerings and larger class sizes.

University of Wisconsin Chancellor Rebecca Blank said "I appreciate the opportunity for additional flexibility and management efficiencies that a public authority might bring, and would work hard to implement these effectively on our campus.  It would be challenging, however, to engage in a major reorganization while also coping with a large budget cut."  The cuts, she added, "would have a harmful impact on our students and their educational experience."

And where, you may ask, does the Governor propose to use the money he will be saving on university costs?  Funny you should ask.  Further down in the Wisconsin state budget released by Mr. Walker this past week is an item proposing the state use $220 million of its taxpayers' money to build a new stadium for the Milwaukee Bucks.

Yes, that's right, Governor Scott (I-Want-To-Be-President-of-the-United-States) Walker proposes cutting $300 million from education so he can gift $220 million to a basketball franchise.  The franchise owners have said they will make $150 million of their personal fortune available to help pay for their new building. 

May I say how unimpressed I am by that?

Building estimates were originally quoted as $450-500 million; but more recent estimates quote "at least" $500 million. There is no word on where the additional $130 million is supposed to come from, but I'm sure Mr. Walker can find a police, fireman or teachers' union in Wisconsin whose members are overpaid, receive too many benefits and earn pensions that are too generous where cuts can be made in order to make it possible for a billionaire sports owner to provide his multi-millionaire players with a pretty locker room.

Governor Walker claims that the players, team employees and visiting teams will generate sufficient income to cover payments on the $220 million in state bonds.  "There's absolute security for the taxpayers.  No new taxes, no drawing on existing revenues, no exposure to the future."  

Where have we heard that before?  And I guess we're supposed to forget about the draw on existing revenues that will no longer be available for Wisconsin's young people who were hoping for a university education.

I applaud the Dropkick Murphys, an American Celtic punk rock band, (I'm still trying to figure out how that amalgam works), for telling Governor Scott Walker to stop using their music at his campaign events.  Their message: "We literally hate you."

If this budget passes, there will be thousands of University of Wisconsin students and their families who feel the same way.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Quick Note: Homeland Security Funding About to Run Out: Republican Response? "Meh"

Funding for the Department of Homeland Security runs out at the end of February. 

Citizenship and Immigration Services exist under the umbrella of the DHS.  Congressional Republicans have spent much of their short time in Washington trying to find a way to stop President Obama's recent executive action on immigration and to reverse earlier actions including his allowing young people who were brought to this country as children and have grown up here to remain in the U.S.  

First the GOP proposed defunding all immigration services, but they were told the President's latest action was totally paid for by immigration and green card application fees--Congress couldn't touch it. 

Next they proposed rewriting the rules for the entire department, putting all the funds under congressional jurisdiction in order to redirect any application fees to other divisions--thus leaving no funds to pay for the President's action.  That idea was passed by the House, but is unlikely to make it through the Senate.

Lately, seeing the DHS funding deadline swiftly approaching and with all positive movement on the issue stalled, Republicans have begun floating another idea: Let the deadline pass without doing anything at all.

A border security bill that was scheduled to be brought up in the House this week is now on hold until late February or perhaps March--after the funding deadline has passed.  Representative Matt Salmon (R-Arizona) said he feared the border security bill would become some kind of "bargaining chip," so "I don't want to do the vote until after February 27."
Because, God forbid the GOP should be caught "bargaining" compromising in anyway.
Representative Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Florida) told Politico that since most of the 280,000 employees in the DHS are considered "essential," they will continue to work anyway, even if Congress fails to provide them with paychecks. "It's not the end of the world."
I'm willing to bet that those 280,000 employees who have families to feed and mortgages to pay would disagree.
Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, echoed Mr. Diaz-Balart's opinion, explaining that, if the funding deadline is missed only 13.6 percent  (that's almost 40,000 people!) of the department's employees will actually be furloughed.  The rest will continue to "function no matter what happens."  He joined several other Senate Republicans in saying they really don't care if March 1 arrives without a new funding bill in place.

Appearing on Newsmax TV's American Forum, Senator Johnson accused the President of playing politics.  He also said he agreed with a 25 page memo entitled "Immigration Handbook for the New Republican Majority" written by Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) in which he urges his fellow party members to block all funding for the President's executive action on immigration.
Nope, no political games being played by anyone in the GOP.  Riiiiight.
When Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was asked about the approaching deadline, he said the Senate would try to pass a funding bill but "if we're unable to do that, we'll see what happens."
So much for "governing responsibly." 
The laissez-faire attitude among congressional Republicans--not only toward the people who depend on their jobs to provide for their families--but for the American people as a whole is unconscionable.   
And, until Barack Obama won the White House, unknown in American politics.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Quick Note: Not a Person of Faith? Todd Ross (R) Wants to Deny You the Right to Marry

On Tuesday, I wrote about Oklahoma State Representative Sally Kern (R) and how she is attempting to circumvent the fact that same-sex marriage is now legal in her state by introducing three bills that would make complying with that law illegal.  You can read my post here.

Oklahoma State Representative Todd Ross

On the same day I was writing about Ms. Kern, another Oklahoma legislator, Representative Todd Ross (R) was filing H.B. 1125.  Under Mr. Ross' bill, the only people who could obtain a marriage license and legally marry in the state of Oklahoma would be people of faith.  All marriage licenses would have to be approved by a member of the clergy.  And not just any clergy will do, only a Christian priest, minister, preacher or Jewish rabbi would be granted
power by the state to sign marriage licenses. This would seem to say that, if you are not a Christian or a Jew, you would not be permitted to marry in Oklahoma.

As for the rest of Oklahoma couples, Mr. Ross told KSWO-TV that if "they don't have a spiritual basis for a marriage and don't want to have a clergy member or a priest or someone involved in the spiritual aspect, then they can file an affidavit of common-law marriage."  

Mr. Ross is either unaware or doesn't really care, (I can easily believe either one), that Oklahoma is one of the majority of U.S. states that do not recognize common-law marriage.
 Republican legislators in Oklahoma seem to be overdosing on whatever additive the GOP prescribes for its members' drinking water.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

John Boehner and the Republican Senator from Israel

Rick Unger, writing for the conservative website has offered up a scathing opinion of John Boehner (R-Ohio), his Speakership, and the invitation to address Congress which he extended to Israel's Prime Minister.  Mr. Unger's full article can be read here.
(Any underlines in the quotes below are mine.)
Calling Mr. Netanyahu "the Republican Senator from Israel," Mr. Unger accuses Speaker Boehner of attempting "to create two conflicting foreign policies for the United States--one pursued by the President and the other pursued by the Congress." 

Mr. Unger wrote: "I get that the Speaker doesn't like the President or his policies...But what neither the Speaker, nor those who cannot manage to think beyond their distaste for this president, understand is the truly unprecedented step Boehner has taken by joining with the leader of a foreign nation against his own president.

Presidents come and go.  However, respect for the office of the presidency...should not.

Through his actions, Boehner may have scored some points for his party...But in the process, the Speaker of the American House of Representatives has succeeded in embarrassing the Office of the President.

Considering that Speaker Boehner has failed to accomplish anything of note during his Speakership, I can only wonder how it must feel to have his legacy be his effort to disgrace the American President in an effort to bolster the political chances of a foreign leader...

...Seeking to damage any American President by helping a foreign leader embarrass our own leader can never be considered something that is best for the nation."

what eye thynk:  Considering that Mr. Boehner's invitation is designed to undermine the White House's current nuclear arms negotiations with Iran, the Speaker's actions would seem to come very close to treason.

I agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Unger's assessment that John Boehner "has succeeded in embarrassing the Office of President," but I doubt Mr. Boehner or his fellow Republicans really care about that.  In fact, I would submit that embarrassing the sitting President is their whole point.

As for the Speaker taking action that seeks to do "damage" and "can never be considered something that is best for the nation," did I already mention treason?  Oh, yeah, yeah right, I did.

The fact remains that Republicans are determined to run the United States according to their own agenda, no matter who the American people elected to sit in the White House. Just this past week, Mr, Boehner announced the House is considering another lawsuit against the President.  With the Republican led Senate still dithering over funding for the Department of Homeland Security, the House wants to sue the President over his executive action on immigration.

In an e-mail, the Speaker wrote "We are finalizing a plan to authorize litigation on this issue."  He is supported by Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) who said, "Congress should defend its power from overreach by the executive branch."

It's as though the GOP, unable to grant itself veto power over the President of the United States, views suing the White House whenever they don't get their way as a kind of Republican wannabe executive action strategy. The Democrats propose something, Republicans hate it, the President waits and waits and waits for Congress to make any movement on the proposal then finally takes executive action himself, followed by the GOP suing because they say they have been left out of the democratic process.

Drew  Hammill, spokesman for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (R-California) replied to Mr. Boehner's announcement, "Once again, House Republicans are crawling to the courts to relieve them of their responsibility to govern...Republicans' loathing for immigrants and the President is already clear."

Let me put it another way:
Dear Mr. Boehner,  If you are so dead set against the President's executive order on immigration, instead of wasting time and dollars on a useless lawsuit, why not take a cue from the President himself, (I know, I know, you hate him, but maybe just this once?), and "Pass a bill?"  Like, for example, the bill the last Senate passed over 19 months ago--with solid Republican support?
Or maybe the White House should take a cue from Speaker Boehner and sue the Speaker and Congress for not doing their job--oh, and for treason.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Republicans Say the Darndest Things: One Legislator, Three Targets

Oklahoma State Representative
Sally Kern (R)

Ms. Kern appears to be an equal-opportunity hater.

On Homosexuality:  "Homosexuality is more dangerous than terrorist attacks."

With that thought on her little mind, she has proposed three pieces of anti-gay legislation:
  1. Preservation and Sovereignty of Marriage Act (H.B.1599) - would prohibit taxpayer money or government salaries from being used in "the licensing or support of same-sex marriage."  Further, no state or local employee would be permitted to "officially recognize, grant or enforce a same-sex marriage license."  Doing so would mean the official would no longer "continue to receive a salary, pension or other employee benefit."  She completes her campaign of total annihilation by saying that any judge who violates this law could be removed from office.
  2. Freedom to Obtain Conversion Therapy Act (H.B.1598) - would prohibit the state from interfering with a parent's choice to obtain conversion therapy for their gay child.
  3. (H.B.1597) - would give any business in Oklahoma the right to refuse to serve any gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender person or organization.
Never mind that same-sex marriage is now legal in Oklahoma.  Let's waste time trying to pass laws that would punish people who comply.  I call this the Republican Roadblock Plan--you know, where something is legal, (like abortion), but you don't like it so you try to stop it by passing laws that make following the law impossible.
On Minorities:  "We have a high percentage of blacks in prison, and that's tragic, but are they in prison just because they are black or because they don't want to study hard in school?  I've taught school, and I saw a lot of people of color who didn't study hard because they said the government would take care of them."
I live in a poor, mixed-race, inner-city neighborhood and believe me, I've seen a lot of this "I don't need no education" attitude--and, in my experience, it is not exclusively a minority notion.  Minorities--and everyone else--she was charged with teaching are better off without her in the classroom.
On Women and Equal Pay:  "Women usually don't want to work as hard as a man.  Women tend to think a little bit more about their family, wanting to be home more time, wanting to have a little more leisure time."
Since Ms. Kern is obviously a woman, does this mean that the state of Oklahoma is paying her a full salary but she is not working hard enough to earn it?  Will she be refunding the part of her salary wasted on not working too hard or thinking about her family too much or wishing she were home or hoping for more leisure time? 
Or maybe she figures it all equals out in the end since she deserves a bonus for providing so much hate-filled fodder for her fellow Republicans to treasure? 

Monday, January 26, 2015

January 26 - Monday Quote

I know this quote has been done nearly to death this past week.  I had just about decided to skip using it for this morning's post when I read an article quoting Republicans who were upset over the President's ad lib during his State of the Union speech.

Representative Tom Cole (R-Oklahoma) thought the President would be better off with "maybe a little more humility and a little more outreach, a little less provocation."

Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said the President's ad lib "doesn't make me feel warm and fuzzy about working with you."

Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) thought the comment was "not a recipe for working together."

They all seem to forget that, when President Obama won the presidency by large margins twice, there was no "humility" and a lot of "provocation" from their side of the aisle, and at no time in the past six years has there been any effort by congressional Republicans to work "together"--"warm," "fuzzy" or otherwise.

I would also like to remind them that, it was the Republican's childish response to "I have no campaigns left to run." that caused the President to pause and respond:

monday quote:  I know because I won both of them. (Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States, 1961-     )

Well said, Mr. President, well said.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Quick Note: I Stand with Bernie!

Governor Scott Walker (R-Wisconsin), Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida), Governor Chris Christie (R-New Jersey) plus wanna-bes Rick Santorum, Rick Perry, Mike Huckabee and, of course, Sarah Palin are attending, along with a throng of other congressional and state Republican hopefuls and conservative hangers-on.  Jeb Bush was invited but declined citing a scheduling conflict. 
At the risk of being politically incorrect...the conference is sort of like a 21st Century white man's slave auction.  In this iteration, grown men voluntarily put themselves on the auction block and take turns telling the Kochs whatever it is they want to hear. Then, one guy gets purchased; and he gets to go home to serve these billionaire brothers in any way they choose by saying whatever they tell him to say, voting however they tell him to vote, and doing whatever they tell him to do whenever they tell him to do it. 
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) cut debate on the Keystone XL pipeline short on Friday over objections from Democrats so that Senate Republicans could present themselves to their money-men without a delay.
I guess, because governing "responsibly" is less important than sucking up to a couple of billionaires.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Tea Party Signs - The Joke's On Them

Installment #16 of:
Dictionaries are a Liberal Plot
(and Grammar is Not My Cup of Tea Either)

Think about this:  If we made English-language spelling proficiency a requirement for citizenship, there would be no Tea Party.

Friday, January 23, 2015

The Republican War on Women: The National Front

This is the twenty-fifth in a series of articles on the subjects 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 National Front

the facts and commentary:  The 114th Congress has only been in session a few days, but Republicans are already taking advantage of their majority to create new roadblocks between women and their right to make their own medical decisions.

On Thursday, January 22, the 42nd anniversary of Supreme Court's ruling on Roe v. Wade, the U.S. House of Representatives planned a vote that would ban abortion after 20 weeks, a measurement beyond that in the Supreme Court's ruling.  Late in the evening on Wednesday, John Boehner's office announced that vote would not take place.

Instead, in a surprise move, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) allowed the U.S. House of Representatives to skip the committee process and put H.R.7, popularly known as the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Bill (a bill that strictly limits a woman's access to abortion at any time and for any reason), to a vote.  Every single Republican in the House voted in favor.  They were joined by either 15 or 17 Democrats. (There seems to be some confusion on the Democrat vote count.)

  • The bill prevents Medicaid from covering abortion. Poor women will be forced to have unwanted children with no way to provide for them.  I expect the GOP will continue to scream "Lazy! Freeloader!" and vote to cut government assistance for these families.  They will undoubtedly say these women should have taken "personal responsibility" for their family planning, while ignoring the irony presented by denying the family planning aspect of abortion services.
  • The bill restricts a woman's ability to purchase a private insurance plan covering abortion--even if she uses her own money. So, the GOP wants to reach into a woman's wallet and tell her what she can do with her own funds? Is this intrusion an example of the "less-government" or the "more personal responsibility" portion of their party dogma? 
  • The bill eliminates a small business tax credit currently given to those businesses that include abortion coverage in their health insurance plans under the ACA.  Not satisfied with telling a woman what she can and cannot do with her own body, the GOP also wants to tell small business owners they will no longer be permitted to choose the type of healthcare coverage they provide for their female employees.  Would this be considered another example of the GOP's idea of less-government?
  • The bill prohibits the District of Columbia from using its own local budget to subsidize abortion care for the poor families living within the District. The GOP just can't seem to help itself.  
  • The bill prohibits any tax deduction for abortion medical expenses, except in the case of rape or incest.  Apparently, the party of the right is totally unaware of the conundrum they have created with this prohibition.
Just last August, the House passed the Keep the IRS Off Your Health Care Act.  At that time, Representative Diane Black (R-Tennessee) said the IRS had "no business accessing or monitoring Americans' personal health information."  Representative Renee Ellmers (R-North Carolina) said "we cannot allow the IRS to have any say over our health and well-being."  Basically, the GOP has passed one bill prohibiting the IRS from having access to any personal healthcare information and another authorizing IRS auditors to demand proof of rape or incest.
This is what happens when you are a party run by hate.  It's like lying.  Eventually you lose track of the truth.
Before the vote was taken, over a dozen Democrats took to the floor to protest the bill.  Each read the same statement, "The House should vote for bigger paychecks and better infrastructure instead of attacking women's access to healthcare."
But taking on "bigger paychecks and better infrastructure" would mean actually moving the country forward, a direction that has been anathema to the right for six years and counting. 
Representative Gwen Moore (D-Wisconsin) submitted a motion to "recommit the bill" asking that it be amended to "prohibit any violation of medical privacy of a woman regarding her personal choice of health insurance coverage, including victims of rape and incest" which would have sent it to committee.  Republicans rejected the motion.

The Family Research Council applauded the bill's passage saying, "This is another victory for taxpayers, women, and their unborn children."
Statements like this drive me nuts.  Taxpayers are going to end up paying to raise the unwanted children born as a result of this bill.  Women who don't want an abortion are not being forced to have one; it is only those who do not want a child who will be forced to give birth to an unwanted one.  The only victory I see in this is that the far-right once again gets to tell me and my family how we will live our lives.
The bill now goes to the Senate.  President Obama has said that if the bill lands on his desk, he will veto it. "The Administration strongly opposes H.R. 7.  The legislation would intrude on women's reproductive freedom and access to health care; increase the financial burden on many Americans; unnecessarily restrict the private insurance choices that consumers have today; and restrict the District of Columbia's use of local funds, which undermines home rule." 
I am a woman, a fully functioning member of the human race.  I am capable of making my own family decisions.  I am capable of deciding if I can afford a child.  I am capable of deciding if having a child at this time in my life is right for me.  I am capable of deciding how I spend the money I earn. I am capable of deciding how I will provide for my employees.  I am capable of voting on how the area in which I live should spend my tax money.  And no one, not some politician in the House or the Senate, not a member of a church to which I do not belong, not an employee of a conservative organization to which I hold no membership, and certainly not some clerk at the IRS, has any business judging my choices. 

The Republican War on Women is "fiction?"


Thursday, January 22, 2015

Quick Note: McCain's Keystone Amendment Does WHAT?!

Senator John McCain (R-Arizona)

With all the hoopla over President Obama's State of the Union speech and the not-quite-as-advertised "identical" Republican dual language rebuttals, a surprising piece of news coming out of the Senate got swept to the side.

Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) has introduced an amendment to the Keystone XL pipeline bill that would effectively gut the Jones Act, part of the Merchant Marine Act of 1920.  His proposal would remove the requirement that ships operating exclusively in American waters be built in the U.S. and crewed by U.S. citizens or legal U.S. residents.

According to the U.S. Maritime Administration, there are 23,450 shipbuilding jobs in Mississippi alone, jobs that add $2 billion to that state's GDP each year--employment and state income that would disappear under Mr. McCain's proposal.

The amendment would also mean that foreign oil companies with off shore rigs in our coastal waters, rigs that are now manned by American oil workers, could replace their entire crews with foreign employees, putting even more Americans out of work.

Tom Allegretti, chairman of the American Marine Partnership said, "The McCain amendment would gut the nation's shipbuilding capacity, outsource our U.S. Naval shipbuilding to foreign builders and cost hundreds of thousands of family-wage jobs across this country.  The shipbuilding requirement, which Senator McCain seeks to eliminate, is in place to ensure that the United States maintains the industrial capacity to build its own ships, to protect and defend the American homeland.  It is hard to believe that Congress would endorse a change to the law that would outsource U.S. jobs and reduce national security by effectively creating dependence on foreign countries to build out ships."

Thomas Curelli, first vice president of the Great Lakes Maritime Task Force in Toledo, Ohio replied to Senator McCain's proposal this way: "Why would anyone subject an industry that produces such superior products to unfair competition from government-subsidized shipyards throughout the world?   It's not just about the new construction we'd be losing, it's all the work related to keeping the vessels in service.  Without construction, we cannot sustain this industry."
Coming from a man who is gung ho for increasing our military spending every time there is a budget vote and who is always ready to involve the U.S. in a seemingly never-ending series of foreign conflicts, a man whose party has been on a "Where are the jobs?" rampage for six years, I can only echo Mr. Curelli, "Why, Mr. McCain? WHY?!"

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Quick Note: SOTUS, Just Another Republican Opportunity to Cheat

President Obama giving the State of the Union Address on January 20, 2015

The Republican response to the State of the Union address was supposed to be an identical speech, presented in two languages.  In a written announcement, the GOP told the media that Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) would give the official Republican rebuttal in English and Representative Carlos Curbelo (R-Florida) would deliver the identical "Spanish Language translated address of Sen. Joni Ernst (sic) response."  At least that's what the GOP said; the reality was a bit different.

The irony of Ms. Ernst, who is a proponent of English-only would have to share the spotlight with a Spanish-speaking congressmen was delicious in itself, but the details of the two "identical" speeches were even tastier.

In truth, Ms. Ernst, a fierce opponent of immigration reform failed to make any mention--not a single word--of the President's remarks on immigration reform (because, well, white people, you know.) while Mr. Curbelo made it sound like the Republicans were chomping at the bit to get immigration reform passed if only the President would cooperate (because, well, you know, We-Heart-Immigrants-Especially-Hispanics).

Despite Ms. Ernst's silence on the subject, Mr. Curbelo's "identical" speech told the Spanish speaking audience, "We should also work through the appropriate channels to create permanent solutions for our immigration system, to secure our borders, modernize legal immigration, and strengthen our economy.  In the past, the president has expressed support for ideas like these.  Now we ask him to cooperate with us to get it done."

When the Republican deception was caught, neither Ms. Ernst nor Mr. Curbelo nor their aides were available for comment.  Michael Steel, spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) responded this way, "As in previous years' State of the Union responses, Senator Ernst...and Congressman Curbelo...spoke of the GOP vision of commonsense solutions and greater opportunity for everyone in this country framed by their unique stories and experiences.
Yeah, right.   
Dear GOP, why the need for deception?  You either believe in something or you don't. You either support something or you don't.  If you believe your position is correct, then have the guts to stand up and say so--to everyone! Or maybe you just don't believe in anything at all?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Eye Recommend --- The Republican Party is Driven by Two of the Most Destructive Forces in Human History


"When it comes down to my issues with the Republican party, the root of most of my opposition lies in my belief that their ideology just doesn't make sense.  They talk endlessly about freedom and liberty, while simultaneously pushing for religious rule over our government...How can someone be 'free' if they're forced to follow religious rules that control people...especially if someone doesn't believe in that particular religion?...

...The same goes for their economic ideology.  The Republican party's economic beliefs are entirely predicated on the belief that 98 percent of Americans will be better off by making the top 2 percent richer.  Even now one of the biggest right-wing attacks used against President Obama is wage stagnation.  But...when they complain about stagnant wages...they're actually admitting that trickle-down economics doesn't work.

When you get right down to it, the two biggest driving forces behind the Republican party are greed and religion.  And those just happen to be two of the most destructive things human beings have endured throughout our history...

...But I don't just mean greed for money, but power as well.  Empires that weren't satisfied with what they had--they wanted more.  They had to conquer and grow.  It was no longer enough to simply be powerful and wealthy, they wanted to be the most powerful and wealthy...

...Then when you mix religion into all of that, it's a very dangerous and often deadly mixture.

That's what Islamic radicalism is really all about.  It's corrupt individuals using religion to justify their greedy desires for power.  It's all about control.  And let's face it, religion is the ultimate mechanism to use if you want to control large amounts of people.

Here in the U.S. Republicans use religion all the time to manipulate people into voting against their own interests.  The GOP has successfully managed to get conservatives to actually mix their politics and faith together...It's a whole lot of people who honestly believe that the only way to be a true Christian is to be a Republican.  And they'll never question the Republican party, because that's tantamount to questioning their faith...

...When you remove all the right-wing propaganda and rhetoric and get to the core of the Republican party, their social philosophies are built on religion and their economic ideologies are based on greed.  They want to create a society run by theocratic government where the rich and the powerful have unregulated control over practically everything.

And when you look through all of human history, those are the two things that have been the catalysts behind some of the most horrific acts every committed."
I have often said the Republican party believes no one should be in charge of anything--whether it's the White House, wages, the environment, religion, or a woman's body--unless it's them.  This Our-Way-or-No-Way philosophy is at the root of their focus on tearing down rather than building up.  They are seemingly incapable of formulating any original ideas until they are satisfied they have destroyed all vestiges of Democratic achievements. 
I see their lust for absolute power as a sign of a hollow core, a core so fundamentally weak that their fear of "the outside" has frozen any hope for progressive thought, leaving them clinging to an unsubstantiated belief in their own greatness and mired in a nostalgic yearning for a time that never really existed.  
In short, they are a party befouled by their own fecklessness.

Monday, January 19, 2015

January 19 - Monday Quote

Hard to argue with this comment on today's GOP.

monday quote:  Republicans know many things that aren't so, and no amount of contrary evidence will get them to change their minds.  (Paul Krugman, New York Times columnist, professor of Economics and International Affairs at Princeton University, winner of 2008 Nobel Prize in economics, 1953-     )

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Quick Note: Church Hosts then Halts Gay Woman's Funeral

Vanessa Collier, left with her wife, Christina Higley and their daughters

On Saturday, January 10, friends of Vanessa Collier gathered inside New Hope Ministries in Lakewood, Colorado for a funeral service to remember her and to celebrate her life.  New Hope Ministries had been chosen because it was non-denominational and its geographic location was central to Ms. Collier's widespread family and friends.

Following an hour of open viewing of the casket, where photos of Ms. Collier with friends and family were displayed, and minutes into the service, Pastor Ray Chavez halted the memorial and stated that it could not continue until all evidence of Ms. Collier's life as a gay and married mother were removed from the sanctuary.  Mr. Chavez said there could be no images of Vanessa with her wife Christina and no video showing this loving family's life together.

The photos and the video along with a check to pay for the service and the name of the minister who would officiate had been in Mr. Chavez' possession for a week prior to the day the memorial was scheduled, so Mr. Chavez could have quietly denied the request to use his church.  Instead, he chose to accept their money and falsely welcome them into his sanctuary in order to halt the service in a way that would impose the most pain and humiliation on the people who loved this woman.  

Those in attendance were in shock.  Eventually, they picked up their programs, the flowers and Ms. Collier's casket and carried them across the street to a funeral home where the service continued, albeit in cramped quarters with very little seating for the hundred or so mourners.

The Denver Post attempted to talk to "Pastor" Chavez, but he refused to comment, choosing instead to demonstrate his cowardice by hanging up the phone.

On Monday, about four dozen friends and family members of Vanessa Collier held a demonstration on the sidewalk outside New Hope Ministries.  They were kept from stepping onto church property by security guards hired by the church.

Ms. Collier's family is still waiting for a refund of the money they paid to Mr. Chavez and his Church-of-the-Holy-Hypocrisy for the use of his sanctuary.
Jesus wept.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Eye Recommend --- Despite Obama's National Economic Success, Republican State Economies Are Failing

Republican economic lies continue, Republican led states continue to falter and no one on the right wants to admit they might be wrong. (Any underlines are mine.)
"...(In 2014) Republicans ran on, and won big with their claim that the GOP is 'the party of solutions' founded on conservative pro-growth economic policies, deregulation, and tax cuts for the rich they claimed were more successful than anything 'hapless' Democrats or Obama could every hope to achieve.  This is despite the President's nearly five-year job growth record, world-leading GDP growth, and increased revenue paying down the nation's debt at a record pace."
Democrats, demonstrating a pathological fear of confrontation, ran timid campaigns, choosing to mollify their Republican foes rather than point out how successful Obama's policies, including his economic policies,  have been. 
"This column has given special attention to the trickle-down economic disaster in Kansas, but plenty of other Republican states' economies are failing miserably; especially states with Republican governors held up as the model for the nation in hopes of winning the White House...Republicans said throughout 2014 that Democrats and the President consistently offer up 'ineffective economic policies' responsible for the President's failed economic policies leading to increased income inequality plaguing the poor and middle class."
Conversely, the GOP has very little to say about how states with Republicans at the helm are faring under their policies of corporate tax cuts and reduced taxes for the wealthy.
A look at three states whose governors are hoping to become president in 2016.  
"In New Jersey, Chris Christie campaigned on and entered office on a pledge of balancing the state budget and 'replenishing the state's pension program.'  Instead, Christie's 'pro-growth agenda' of cutting corporate taxes drastically increased pension liabilities, created Kansas-style revenue shortfalls, and earned the state a record eight credit downgrades, a new mark for a sitting governor.  New Jersey is also, like Kansas, lagging the rest of the nation in creating jobs according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and while the national unemployment rate has been steadily dropping, New Jersey's is growing just over the past year."
Maybe it's because of all those people who lost their jobs over that bridge closing fiasco.
"In Louisiana, Republican Governor Bobby Jindal's conservative economic policies have the state facing 'a very large shortfall as we go into the spring session of 2015 because (the Governor) has been relying too much time funds for recurring expenses' according to (Brett Geyman) a fiscally conservative Republican state representative.

The 'very large revenue shortfall' is in spite of 'the steepest cuts to education ever proposed for the state' that the Republican speaker of the Louisiana House has vowed to block because they 'will set us back generations.'  Jindal claims the steep education cuts are necessary to balance the state's budget even though with the drastic cuts, the state still faces a substantially large reveue shortfall.  Jindal wants to completely eliminate corporate taxes and raise them on the bottom 80% of the population...(because) eliminating business taxes will be 'a great benefit to big corporations.'"
In other words, screw the poor.  They don't vote Republican anyway.
"Republican Scott Walker of Wisconsin is also facing a 'pro-growth agenda' revenue shortfall this year to the tune of $2.2 billion as well as a record 'slower than average job and wage growth' compared to the national figures...Walker claims the facts are false, and that he will make up the $2.2 billion shortfall by 'adjusting funding priorities' that in Republican economic parlance means cuts to domestic programs and pension payments.  Walker already cut taxes for the rich and funded them partially with Medicaid cuts."
See comment above re: screwing the poor and add policeman, fireman and union members.
Common sense tells you that cutting taxes for the rich is not going to feed the economy.  Cutting a millionaire's taxes is not going to make him spend more; they have plenty to spend already. They can only eat out so many times a day, they can only buy so many cars or new suits or new dresses or new handbags.  A weekend in Bimini is not going to add anything to local coffers.  Give a millionaire an extra thousand, and it's going into their portfolio; or maybe into the re-election campaign of their favorite Republican candidate to make sure this largess keeps on coming. The only ones who profit by tax breaks for the rich are the rich and their politician toadies. It's a closed loop that only the wealthy and those who worship them are permitted to join.
But cut taxes for the middle class and they will spend more.  If a middle class family that has been pinching pennies to pay their bills suddenly finds it has an extra $25 a week, they are going to spend it--at a local restaurant, maybe on a movie night out or clothes that don't come from a thrift store.  Give a poor family $25 a week and they might visit a farmer's market or maybe make a down-payment on a washing machine.  This is money that goes directly into the local economy and supports small businesses that hire local employees--a self-feeding system of economic improvement open to everyone.
What is really depressing about red state economies and the economic fate of their citizens is that those citizens are so easily duped into believing their personal fiscal situation is entirely the fault of Democrats and President Obama.  They look around, they see their state spiraling down and down, just shake their heads and mumble "Obama."  And it angers me that Democrats in these states fail to stand up and fight this misconception.   
By failing to point out the truth about positive national economic indicators, by failing to offer examples of states that have raised taxes (hello, California!) and are now seeing their state economies booming, Democrats are allowing Republicans to continue to serve the kool-aide first offered  up by a George W. Bush aide in 2004 when he told Ron Suskind that it is wrong to live "in what we call the reality-based community (where people) believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.  That's not the way the world really works anymore.  We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality."
He might have added, "and we don't care who we hurt as long as we stay in power." It would go a long way to explain why Republicans see education as expendable and one on the right wants constituents who think.  
Someday--and may it come soon--citizens in these failing Republican led states are going to wake up, look at liberal states where the citizens are fat, happy, employed and covered by healthcare and realize they've been lied to.  I expect the blow-back will be swift and ugly.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Tea Party Signs - The Joke's On Them

Installment #15 of:
Dictionaries are a Liberal Plot
(and Grammar is Not My Cup of Tea Either)

Makes you wonder how this idiot passed the written part of the driver's test.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Quick Note: India Says It Will "Cure" Homosexuality with Yoga

The state of Goa in India is creating a program that, according to the Ramesh Tawadkar, Minister for Sports and Youth Affairs, will help young, gay people to lead "a normal life."  The state's government will set up "camps" where they will treat gay, bisexual and transgender young people.

"We will tell them what to do and how to get over same-sex feelings."

Along with counseling, yoga guru Baba Ramdey will bring his yoga institute to the camps where these young people "will be free from this habit most definitely."
Coming to a conservative church near you?! 
Putting aside how cruel this plan is, I couldn't help but picture a room full of gay men in yoga pants and wonder if Mr. Tawadkar and Mr. Ramdey had really thought this whole idea through.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Quick Note: Obama, Paris, Fox News, Social Conservatives & Misogyny -- Connecting the Dots

By now, everyone who doesn't live in a cave has seen photos and video of the massive demonstration of solidarity in Paris last weekend following the horrifying terrorist attack at Charlie Hebdo.  European leaders linked arms and marched through the capital joining millions of French citizens.  

Our Ambassador to France was there, but the President was not.  Fox News has been ranting about his absence non-stop since then.

Should President Obama have been there? Yes, I believe so; but Fox News would have been ranting anyway, because, well, it's what they do best.

In an interesting side-note,  an ultra-conservative newspaper in Israel published the iconic photo showing European leaders lined up together, but with one huge difference.  The Israeli newspaper edited out all the female leaders.  (Their newspaper photo department must have been a dull place to work during the Golda Meier years.)

This supports my belief that, no matter how you characterize yourself--Christian, Jewish, Muslim (or Republican)--when it comes to social issues, if you identify with the far-right, conservative spectrum of your rubric, misogyny is in your DNA.
And when you're weak, hate--whether it's directed at a President, another religion, a gay person, a magazine or women-- is a powerful crutch to mask your own fear.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Je Suis Charlie

what eye thynk:  I cannot imagine a more perfect response than this, the cover for the next Wednesday's issue of "Charlie Hebdo."

Quick Note: "Christian" Self-Help Book Ends Atlanta Fire Chief's Career

Former Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran

Atlanta Fire Chief, Kelvin Cochran, wrote a Christian self-help book., "Who Told You You Were Naked?" intended to be used as a Bible study aide.  

In one section, he defines "uncleaness" as "whatever is opposite of purity; including sodomy, homosexuality, lesbianism, pederasty, bestiality, all other forms of sexual perversion."  

In another he writes, "Naked men refuse to give in, so they pursue sexual fulfillment through multiple partners, with the opposite sex, the same sex, and sex outside of marriage and many other vile, vulgar and inappropriate ways which defile their body-temple and dishonor God."

Rather than use the book appropriately within his church and belief circle, he decided to pass copies out to co-workers, including those who worked under him.  Gay rights supporters took offense and brought the book give-away to Mayor Kasim Reed's attention last November.  The Mayor immediately suspended Fire Chief Cochran and began an investigation of the Chief's actions. 

In announcing the suspension, Mr. Reed said, "I profoundly disagree with and am deeply disturbed by the sentiments expressed in the paperback regarding the LGBT community.  I will not tolerate discrimination of any kind within my administration."

Last week, Mayor Reed formally fired Kelvin Cochran, saying that he questioned Mr. Cochran's judgment and management capabilities.  "This is not about religious freedom.  This is not about free speech.  Judgment is the basis of the problem."

Mr. Cochran responded to his firing this way: "It's ironic that the city points to tolerance and inclusion as part of its reasoning. What could be more intolerant and exclusionary than ending a public servant's 30 years of distinguished service for his religious beliefs?"
Why is is that religious bigots are the first ones to yell "foul" when faced with the consequences of their own bigotry?  No one is telling Mr. Cochran or his church they must support or accept homosexual members.  No one is trying to prohibit Mr. Cochran from writing any hateful thing he wants to put in print.  Atlanta's mayor is saying that choosing to share your hate with co-workers--especially those who need your good opinion in order to keep their jobs--is not an acceptable management style.
Proselytizing on the public dime is not America's way--at least not yet.
Of course, state religious leaders are up in arms about this. Georgia Baptist Convention President Robert White said, "It's a frightening day in the United States when a person cannot express their faith without fears of persecution following."
I wonder if Mr. White was equally frightened by Georgia's public, open, and ultimately unsuccessful persecution of same-sex partners by fighting to deny them the right to marry?  And don't get me started on Georgia's fight against legal abortion--a fight based entirely on one side's religious views without respect or acknowledgement that not everyone goes to the same church--even in Georgia. 
A so-called "religious freedom" law has been pre-filed in Georgia's State House of Representatives in anticipation of the session that starts on Monday.  State Representative Ed Setzler (R) cites the Cochran case as one of a number of "outright examples of individuals' religious beliefs being deemed unacceptable by government entities."
The separation of church and state has been in place for 238 years for a reason. 
Last January, the Orange County, Florida School Board voted to allow Bibles to be passed out in their schools.  The Satanic Temple sued for equal representation and a state judge agreed.  So this school year, students are not only bringing home the Good Book in their backpacks, but a copy of "The Satanic Children's Big Book of Activities" as well.
Be careful what you wish for, Georgia.

Monday, January 12, 2015

January 12 - Monday Quote

The past couple of days have been exceptionally cold here in North East Ohio, and today it is snowing--a beautiful even coating of white.  

Some people see Winter as a dead season.  I see it as beautiful. 

I've always been fascinated by what must be going on below the snow.  When I was a little kid, I imagined there was a secret, tropical world just out of my sight populated by tiny subterranean fairies busy serving droplets of water to baby tulips.  (Yes, I was a weird child.)  I was also 700 years behind.

monday quote:  I don’t think the garden loses its ecstasy in winter.  It’s quiet, but the roots are down there riotous. (from "Form is Ecstasy," by Rumi, Persian poet, 1217-1273) 

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Quick Note: Bryan Fischer on Charlie Hebdo "God Did It to Punish Christians"

Bryan Fischer took to his radio show this past week and told listeners that the terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo was God's way of punishing Christians for committing blasphemy.   He called Muslims a "pagan, evil, foreign, wicked nation" that God has chosen to use in order to punish Christians.

As Stephen D. Foster Jr. of wrote:  "At a time when we desperately need mutual peace among the religions of the world, Fischer is actively portraying Muslims as the villainous instrument God supposedly uses to punish Christians who break commandments...

...Religious satire is protected free speech and always should be.  If God is the creator of all things, that means he granted us a sense of humor, meaning an all-powerful deity should be able to take a joke.  Apparently, Bryan Fischer was not granted such a gift, as he is incapable of taking a joke.  Probably because he is one."
Mr. Foster, I don't know whether to wince or cheer.  
Hate is hate, whether it comes from a radicalized Muslim jihadist or a self-styled "Christian" evangelical who chooses to ignore the verses in the Bible that declare "God is Love." 

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Republicans Say the Darndest Things: That Mitch, What a Jokester

Senate Majority Leader 
Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky)

"After so many years of sluggish growth, we're finally starting to see some economic data that can provide a glimmer of hope; the uptick appears to coincide with the biggest political change of the Obama Administration's long tenure in Washington: the expectation of a new Republican Congress."
I've been a political junkie for more years than I care to count, but I cannot think of a statement that is more blatantly self-serving or more completely lacking in fact than this from Mitch McConnell...ever.  Mitch has demonstrated a startling lack of respect for the average American's awareness of what has been going on in Washington for the past six years while exhibiting a pair of cojones that he surely must need extra support to carry around.   
It is obvious the GOP needs a new slant on the improving long can they continue to blame the President for failing when he clearly isn't? But this credit grabbing is so obvious it comes off as laughable, (so the White House wasn't really "cooking the books" on the economy as Republican leadership claimed just a few months ago?), and more than a little desperate.  
As Democratic National Committee's Communications Director Mo Elleithee said about Mitch's claim, "The fact is, under President Obama we have had 57 straight months of private sector jobs growth leading to nearly 11 million jobs added.  All the Republicans have given us is a government shutdown that cost the economy 24 billion.  I get why he wants to take credit for the economic recovery, but maybe he should first do something to contribute to it."
Mitch has worn the Majority Leader mantle for only a few days, and already I'm entertained.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Quick Note: The New, Responsible GOP: Where Dismantling Trumps All

This month marks the beginning of having a Republican majority in both Houses of Congress, the beginning of their promise to prove they are capable of "governing responsibly."  So, how is it going so far?

1. Dismantling "Obamacare"
On Thursday, the House passed legislation that would redefine full-time employment under the Affordable Care Act as someone who works 40 hours/week instead of the current 30 hours.  Their argument is that, at the 30 hour threshold, employers can easily cut workers back to 29 hours to avoid having to provide employer mandated healthcare.   

Apparently, it has never occurred to these geniuses that it would be just as easy to cut 40 hours to 39 in order for employers to gain the same result.  

And, how does a change from 30 hours effect government spending?  The Congressional Budget Office said this legislation will move 1 million people onto government insurance programs raising federal spending by $53.2 billion over the next decade.  And, according to government statistics, since more than half of American workers actually put in a 40 hour work week, the threat of all of them losing employer provided healthcare would add even more to government spending.

Representative Kevin McCarthy (R-California) had this to say, "Mr. President, you say you care about those who have fallen on hard times.  show it, and sign this bill.  You care about low-income workers, about working women, and about small businesses.  Then show it, and sign this bill."

No explanation was offered on how denying health care to low-income workers, working women or those who have fallen on hard times is supposed to improve their lot in life.

2. Dismantling the President's Executive Action on Immigration
Disappointment reigned when Republicans found out they couldn't stop the president's executive action by defunding the Department of Homeland Security because Citizenship and Immigration Services, the agency charged with carrying out the president's order, is completely funded by the fees it collects from immigration applications.  No congressional approved funds are used.

What's a Republican to do?  Enter Representative Mick Mulvaney (R-South Carolina) and Representative Harold Rogers (R-Kentucky).  They are developing legislation that would change the way fees are processed by depositing them directly into the main Homeland Security budget and then allowing Congress to allocate their use.

3. Dismantling Environmental Regulations
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) has vowed to halt the Environmental Protection Agency's attempt to curb pollution from power plants through new regulations that were approved by executive action last year.  

One of the loudest and proudest climate deniers is Senator James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma), new chairman of the Senate's Environment and Public Works Committee, who claims the earth has experienced "no warming for the last 15 years."

With attitudes like these, it is no surprise that one of the first pieces of legislation to be passed was the Keystone XL pipeline.  The President has promised to veto it, and Republican leadership is already busy drumming up support for overriding that veto; but it is all still a publicity stunt.  Nothing can be done until a lawsuit currently making its way through Nebraska's court system reaches its conclusion.  It may look good to GOP supporters and they can rant about the President stopping it, but it's nothing but stage dressing, and they know it.

4. Dismantling Social Security
The funds budgeted to pay for those on Disability Social Security is running low.  Over a period of years--years overseen by both Republican and Democratic presidents--money was transferred without debate from the main Social Security account to cover this shortfall.

On the first day of the 114th Congress, buried in a list of new rules, Republicans voted to stop the transfer unless there is a tax increase or spending cut to cover the dollar amount.  

Now everyone knows that a Republican led Congress is never going to pass a tax increase; so, by the end of 2016, 11 million disabled Americans will see their monthly payments reduced by one-fifth.

5. Dismantling Roe v. Wade
The House began its tenure by voting to ban abortions at 20 weeks, in direct contradiction of current U.S. law.

The War on Women continues.  

6. Dismantling the Hope of Bi-Partisanism
Heritage Action, the political arm of the Heritage Foundation, the breeding ground for conservative ideals, is planning a two-day Republican conference next week to push right-wing legislators to be more aggressive on far-right issues.  The conference will feature Senators Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), neither known for their belief in working with the other side.

The foundation has issued a booklet saying that they intend to convince attendees to embrace the "reform conservative movement;" and Jim DeMint, former Republican senator from South Carolina and current president of the Heritage Foundation said the purpose of the conference is to show congressional Republicans that "there's a pathway for bolder ideas."

One of the issues on the docket is the re-thinking of across-the-aisle ideas that were evident in last month's spending bill.  Proposals on how to address student loan debt, health care and the tax code will also be taken up.

The conference is being billed as "Opportunity for All, Favoritism to None;" but, in light of the fact that it will be held just days before Republicans and Democrats leave Washington for a joint retreat meant to promote working together in Washington, I would suggest that it would be more accurate to call it "We Heart Bi-Partisanism As Long As We Don't Have to Do It."
Quick Note: Everything this new Republican-led Congress has either accomplished or proposed is focused on dismantling, blocking or denying.  Where are the new ideas to move the country forward?  Where are the new attempts to raise the living standards of the citizens these men and women represent?  Where is the responsibility? 
They seem only to want to return the country to some time in the past, when healthcare was only for those who could afford it, when immigrants came only from Europe, when polluting the environment was accepted practice, when Social Security was just a twinkle in FDR's eye and when women died from back alley abortions. 
What they want is a world where a black man could never be president.