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Tag Archives: Republican

Limbaugh, Fluke, and the So-called “War on Women”

If you’ve aren’t up to speed on the whole contraception bru-ha thats’ been going on, here it is in a nutshell:

A few weeks ago, President Obama essentially stated that church-affiliated institutions would have to provide access to contraception coverage for their employees.  Religious institutions, lead by the Catholic church, immediately cried foul, saying they should continue to have an exemption based on moral grounds, i.e. the church does not believe in contraception.  After a huge stick erupted, Obama issued a compromise:  that insurance companies would not only be required to provide contraception directly to the employees of such institutions, which would circumvent the the employer, but that insurers would provide the contraception for free, as part of “preventive” coverage.  Conservatives say Obama is spearheading a “war on religion.”

Soon after, there was a hearing in the US House of Representatives about the issue.  Democrats criticized Republicans because the entire panel for the morning hearing was made up of men (there was an afternoon hearing with 2 women on the panel).  Dems had attempted to have a woman, Sandra Fluke, testify, but Republicans stated she was not added to the list in time.  Democrats say this is further proof that Republicans are at war with women.

A few days later, Fluke testifies at a Democrat-sponsored hearing.  The 3rd year law student at Georgetown Law spoke of how the fact that the school does not provide contraception coverage as part of its health plan made things difficult for female students, and that the contraception mandate should stay.  Jumping on this, radio talking head Rush Limbaugh called Fluke a “slut,” basically saying she implied she and other students want to be paid to have sex since they demand free contraception.  Under fire, Limbaugh has apologized.

Now, my thoughts, in no particular order…

Is there a war on women?  Personally, I don’t think there is.  However, Republicans aren’t doing themselves any favors.  Whether it’s the Georgia House passing a bill to lower the “deadline” for getting an abortion from 26 weeks to 20 weeks, or Virginia attempting to pass legislation requiring any woman wanting an abortion to have a trans-vaginal ultrasound first (referred to as a “mechanical rape” by one radio talk show host), one could say that conservative lawmakers, who are mostly male, do seem to have women’s reproductive parts in the crosshairs.  But its nothing new.  Things like this happen every year.  In this case, however, it’s an election year.  Gotta rev up the base!  Let’s see how independent voters respond.  After all, those are the voters that will determine the winners.

Sandra Fluke.  Who and why the uproar?  As mentioned before, Sandra Fluke is a law student who testified before the House.  She is also an activist who has advocated against child trafficking and for wider contraception coverage for women.  Fluke not getting to testify in that morning hearing actually worked to Democrats’ advantage; their later “hearing” where she spoke was not a hearing, and Fluke was not required to be under oath.  Plus, the public was introduced to the third year law student, not the experienced activist–very important for PR reasons.  Her main point of argument was that the policy dictating that students at religious institutions that do not want to provide contraception coverage be given direct access via insurance companies be upheld.  The impression given was, she came to Georgetown and didn’t realize contraception wasn’t covered.  However, in a previous interview, she acknowledged she knew before enrolling that it wasn’t covered but that she was “not willing to compromise the quality of my education in exchange for my health care.”  So, she knew what she was getting into ahead of time.

Medically necessary vs choice.  During her testimony, Fluke spoke of a student who had polycystic ovary disease.  Because she could not afford the cost of birth control out of pocket, and because the college didn’t cover it, she eventually had to have an ovary removed.  Fluke stated that in reply to Catholic supporters who asked what she expected when she enrolled at the institution, she answered that “we expected women to be treated equally, to not have our school create untenable burdens that impede our academic success.” I’m not sure where the unequal treatment is here.  Comparing contraception coverage to coverage of erectile dysfunction drugs is a false equivalence–one prevents pregnancy, while one doesn’t.  I would say that birth control pills used to cover a medical condition should be covered.  But how exactly does not having coverage for contraception impede academic success?  There are other forms of contraception available that are affordable on a college student budget.  And ultimately, though it sounds old school, if one can’t afford the ramifications of having sex, wouldn’t the ultimate answer be “don’t have sex?”

Rush Limbaugh and double standards.  Long story short, Rush Limbaugh issued an apology for calling Fluke a “slut” and making other disparaging comments.  It was an opening Democrats took full advantage of, taking his comments and implying that as the de facto leader of the GOP, his comments represented how the GOP felt about women.  They also stated he only apologized because he was losing sponsors–probably a true statement.  The problem is, there seems to be a double standard.  As outlined in a piece by Kirsten Powers, a number of left-leaning talking heads have made similar statements. Ed Schultz, Lawrence O’Donnell, Keith Olbermann, and especially Bill Maher have all gone off on women at one point or another, and didn’t get the wrath of the left dropped on them. Supposedly, the difference is the amount of influence Limbaugh has with the GOP, and that he is on the “public airwaves.” But bad statements are bad statements. Excusing your side while going after the other is simply political expediency.

I finish by pointing out two things.  First, credit to the President for using the situation as a way to score some bonus points.  He called Fluke to give her encouragement and see if she was ok.  How touching.  Second, a “right” is not a “right” if you are taking someone else’s stuff.  Free birth control isn’t a right, because someone else has to pay for it.

 

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White Men Have an Instinctual Fear of Black Men being with White Women? Who Is this Idiot??

There are many legitimate aspects of the Herman Cain sexual harassment scandal.  But we all know its the more salacious, suggestive, and often crazy things that are made up about the situation that will sell more papers, get more internet clicks, or get more viewers.

Today, we look at Toure, a contributor on MSNBC.  Nevermind that he has already described Cain as a minstrel character.  Ignore that he follows the liberal mindset regarding Cain, that he isn’t a serious candidate.  And let’s look past the fact that he only goes on shows where he can say such foolishness and not have someone from the other side to call him on how stupid he sounds.

During a recent appearance on “The Last Word” with Lawrence O’Donnell (another very-far-left-leaner who says the most outlandish things and never gets called on it by the left), Toure had this to say:

The instinctual fear in America of black men being sexually inappropriate or aggressive or dominating with white women is very, very deep. And when is this going to start to come out?

People start to feel this on a deep level. ‘This is wrong. He keeps going after our women. We don’t like this.’

Say WHAT?!

We already know that there is a part of the left that have to make things racial all the time.  The Tea Party is racist.  The GOP is racist.  The right is racist!  No surprise there.  But sometimes, when you hear statements like those, you wonder if the person saying them even takes themselves seriously.  I have no doubt that this Toure does, since he has many TV appearances and many chances to give his opinion on things.  But seeing or hearing statements like that makes me wonder:  isn’t HE the one that is coming across as minstrel-like?  “Oh, sure!  Put me on TV so I can talk more about the racist right and the clueless black politicians that support them!”

I say people like this make us look worse than a Herman Cain does.  Problem is, most folks don’t even realize it.

Cain Accused of Sexual Harrassment. Something to Worry About? Or Is He Gonna Get Clarence Thomas’ed?

The website Politico has done an investigation and found that while GOP frontrunner Herman Cain was head of the National Restaurant Association, there were two female employees who accused him of sexual harrassment.  The two were asked to leave the NRA in return for receiving cash settlements and promising to keep what happened under wraps.

You can read the article to get the details of the situation, but what comes to mind for me is simply this: how will this play out?  The criticism from the Left is already flying fast and furious.  He’s been called an Uncle Tom.  He’s being used by the Tea Party to cover up their racist leanings.  And so on.  Now, this gives detractors new ammunition.

But I wonder if many of the most vocal detractors will be people who were willing to give former president Bill Clinton a pass.  People who still talk about Anita Hill’s accusations of harrassment of Clarence Thomas while they were at the EEOC say nothing of how accusations of Clinton’s dalliances were floating around well before he ran for and won the presidency.  Paula Jones filed a lawsuit against Clinton in 1994 and was treated like a pariah–until “the dress” appeared and Clinton had to settle and also deal with getting impeached for perjury.

My point is, regardless of which side it happens to, its always interesting to see the reaction from the other side, whose supporters are usually quick to forget that they were fine with what happened when their person did it.  It’s only bad when the other side does it, right?

Having said that, is this something that, if true, should DQ Cain from the race?  Will this pass over, or will this become a stone around his neck?  Stay tuned.

When Repubs do it? “They’re Bad!” When Dems do it? *crickets*

As it has been stated before, the President is taking every possible opportunity to tell the public that Republicans are preventing Americans from getting jobs by not passing his jobs bill.  This, despite the fact that his own party members blocked the bill last week, and despite calls from Republicans to negotiate a more bipartisan approach.

This week we have more of the same.  Democrats have decided to attempt to pass the bill piecemeal in the Senate.  As expected, the Dems first attempt to pass a bill for teachers and first responders failed.  Republicans all voted against the bill, which would be paid for via a 0.5% surtax on millionaires.  There were also two Democrats and Independent Joe Liebermann who voted no.

As expected, the President released a statement condemning the vote and saying its “unacceptable” that Senate Republicans “have chosen to obstruct a bill that would create jobs and get our economy going again.”

However, Republicans brought to the floor a bill that would eliminate a 3 percent withholding tax on federal contractors.  Ironically, the idea came from Obama‘s own plan.  Ten Democrats voted for the bill along with the Republicans, but it was still three votes short.  So here we had a jobs bill, defeated through the efforts of Senate Dems who voted against the bill.

And just like when Dem Senator Harry Reid blocked a vote on the bill, there was no statement from the President.  No condemnation for not passing the bill.  Nothing but…crickets.

President Obama has not shied away from giving his own party a tongue lashing in the past.  But now?  Nothing.

It must be election season.

Don’t Use the Word “Break.” It’s Racist!

I’ve mentioned MSNBC’s Ed Schultz as someone who comes up with the most outlandish garbage, and no one ever checks him over it.  Fortunately, not many people watch him or his show.

Courtesy of Mr. Schultz, I have now learned something new!  “Break” is a racist term!  Didn’t know that?  I didn’t either.

See, Schultz is now on the taking shots at current GOP frontrunner Herman Cain.  Cain mentioned SC Senator Jim DeMint as a possible VP candidate.  DeMint, back in 2009, during the debate stages of what would become Obamacare, said that if Republicans could stop him, it would be Obama’s “Waterloo.”  For those at home, Waterloo was where Napoleon was defeated for the last time and marked an end to his reign as French emperor, and the term is often used to describe someone’s last stand and final defeat.  But then, DeMint said that such a loss for Obama would “break him.”

Evidently, this is, as Schultz described it, “break” is “an old Southern, racist term.”

He then brings on a Dr. James Peterson, a professor of African Studies from Lehigh University, who concurs with him, saying that it is “a term that was used to destroy, mentally and physically, slaves during the institution of slavery in this country.”

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying what Dr. Peterson says about how the word was used back in slavery days is wrong.  What I find rediculous is that he would attach DeMint’s comments to such usage.  If I didn’t know any better, I’d say people have been using that very same term in that very same manner, with no racist overtones, for years.  Coaches talk about breaking the other team’s back at the end of the game.  Military planners talk of breaking the backs of the enemy.  Even Ivan Drago told Rocky Balboa “I must break you” before their fight in “Rocky V.”  Was he a Russian racist?

Wait, I forgot.  DeMint is supported by the Tea Party.  AND he’s from a Southern state.  Put those in the mix, and I guess he really is racist!  Right?

Obama’s Proposal Stuck in Democrat-led Senate, but it’s Still Republicans’ Fault

On  Tuesday, the Senate held a vote on whether to bring forward President Obama’s jobs bill for discussion.  Mind you, this was not a vote on the bill itself.  Just a vote to bring it forward to debate, discuss, slice, and dice.  The vote was 50 in favor, 49 against, with 60 votes needed to move forward.  The President, of course, issued a statement blaming Senate Republicans for the lack of votes:

President Obama blasted Senate Republicans for blocking his jobs bill Tuesday night, saying the American people “won’t take ‘no’ for an answer.”

The president said in a statement that his administration will work with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to get votes on the individual components of the bill “as soon as possible.”

Yes, with the same Senator Reid who himself blocked a vote on the bill just last week.

But there are two things that the President so conveniently forgot to mention.  First, in the 50-49 vote there were actually two Democrat senators that voted along with the Republicans.  But the second thing he omitted is far more important–some of the Dems who voted in favor of bringing the bill to the floor for discussion would not vote for the bill itself:

The only Democrats to vote against the measure were Sens. Ben Nelson (Neb.) and Jon Tester (Mont.), but a number of other centrists in the party indicated they would vote against the package even though they supported launching a debate on the measure.

Let’s see how long before the President admits that his own party is as much to blame and takes them to task for it.

That Jobs Plan Sounded Good…Then Reality Set In

Last week I listened to the president outline a new plan to help create jobs.  “Pass this bill right away!” the president implored.  Initially, I was right on board with what he was saying, and was impressed that instead of the non-stimulating shotgun approach of the first bill, President Obama was firing targeted rifle shots with each line.  Even better, he started off by saying the plan would be paid for.

Then, about 2/3 of the way through, things started going downhill.

First, the president pulled out some of the tried-and-true garbage talking points.  He spoke of removing tax breaks for oil companies (hey, that *could* bring in a whopping $2 billion a year!), of millionaires and billionaires that don’t need tax deductions, and of the rich paying their “fair share” (I’m STILL waiting for specificity on what exactly their “fair share” is).  he even pulled out Warren Buffet’s claim of paying less in taxes than his secretary (I suggest people read up on capital gains taxes vs marginal income taxes to understand why this is bogus).

Second, President Obama punts the responsibility for paying for the bill to the newly-formed supercommittee, who will already have to find a way to cut $1.5 trillion in spending before December.  Seems to me there is a difference between saying something is paid for and saying “well, THEY are going to figure out how to pay for it.”

Then, for the coup de grace, the bill is rolled out on Monday…and its designed to be paid for via tax increases.

Sigh.

Though I don’t support the idea of absolutely no tax increases, the move makes the president look downright indecisive.  Not only that, but he knows that under the current environment, the chances of passing his bill (which came under criticism from all sides shortly after the post-speech euphoria wore off) just went from possible to “snowball’s chance in hades.”  Granted, a bill may get passed, but it definitely won’t fly through paid for just with tax increases.

“Tea Party Debate Audience Cheered Idea of Letting Uninsured Patients Die:” One of the Most Misleading Headlines EVER

While cruising through the news sites, I came across a disturbing headline:  “Tea Party Debate Audience Cheered Idea of Letting Uninsured Patients Die.”  Now, surely, people wouldn’t be so shallow as to cheer the idea of letting someone die!  That’s just not the American way!  So, of course, I clicked the link to see what the fuss was about:

CNN moderator Wolf Blitzer’s hypothetical question about whether an uninsured 30-year-old working man in coma should be treated prompted one of the most boisterous moments of audience participation in the CNN/Tea Party Express.

“What he should do is whatever he wants to do and assume responsibility for himself,” Paul responded, adding, “That’s what freedom is all about, taking your own risk. This whole idea that you have to compare and take care of everybody…”

The audience erupted into cheers, cutting off the Congressman’s sentence.

Now, let’s stop right here. Anyone reading this the say way I did notices something very important. The crowd cheered in response to Ron Paul’s comments, that clearly spelled out the idea of people taking personal responsibility for themselves. But just to make sure, let’s see what happened next:

After a pause, Blitzer followed up by asking “Congressman, are you saying that society should just let him die?” to which a small number of audience members shouted “Yeah!”

Paul, a doctor trained in obstetrics and gynecology, said when he got out of medical school in the 1960s “the churches took care of them.”

“We never turned anybody away from the hospital,” he said. “We’ve given up on this whole concept that we might take care of ourselves or assume responsibility for ourselves. Our neighbors, our friends, our churches would do it. That’s the reason the cost is so high.”

So…a few idiots (not even close to being the entire audience) decides to be stupid. But this is not how the headline portrays it. The casual observer (or staunch Liberal) is led into the story thinking everyone let out a roar when the option of letting an uninsured person die. Paul never implied that was the case.

For the record, a number of the republican candidates issued statements to condemn the cheering. But let’s be clear. This is an example of poor journalism, made even worse by the fact that many outlets picked up the story and ran with it. Now we get to hear about how the Tea Party wants uninsured people to die. Just lovely.

Wait–Did Chris Matthews Say Social Security was a Ponzi Scheme?

Oh my, oh my! With all of the left-leaning folks eager to shoot down the notion that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme, I’m sure they would be surprised to hear who agrees with that notion. Can you believe MSNBC’s Chris Matthews actually agrees?

Matthews first put forth what he thought Social Security was originally intended to be: “You pay for it while you work. When you retired and have no other form of income, this will help you out. In fact, a lot were impoverished in the old days without Social Security. It’s a great anti-poverty program. But then people started to live past 65. Even the great Franklin Roosevelt didn’t make it to 65. In those days, if you made it to 65, you were lucky. You got a few bucks on Social Security.”

Then he put forth what it has become: “Today, lots of people fortunately make it past 65,” he said. “They live into their 80s and 90s. They’re still getting checks. The system doesn’t work that way anymore. It’s not as healthy as it once was. So, how does a Republican deal with the fact it is a Ponzi scheme in the sense that the money that’s paid out every day is coming from people who have paid in that day. It’s not being made somewhere.”

The actual video clip can be found following the link.

By the way, giving credit where credit is due, yesterday’s post about SS and Ponzi was spurred by a conversation with my buddy Carl, who blogs here.

Another Person Who Agrees With Me–Reagan Would Be Persona Non Grata in Today’s GOP

On a couple of different occasions, I wrote about how former President Ronald Reagan probably could get elected by today’s GOP no matter how much they revere him (see here and here). It’s an opinion shared by a number of pundits across the blogosphere. Here is another example of exactly what I mean:

After trying (and failing) to disembowel Social Security, Reagan did an dramatic about-face and bailed out the program to the tune of $165 billion and made Social Security taxes more progressive, forcing upper-income Americans to shoulder more of the burden than their poor counterparts.
Reagan raised taxes 11 times! He passed the largest tax increase since World War II and introduced hefty new corporate taxes.

While conservatives like Sarah Palin tout Reagan’s record for standing up to the Soviet Union, they ignore that Reagan was attacked by far-right conservatives for being too conciliatory to the Communist bloc. When Reagan engaged in direct talks with Gorbachev and the Soviets, conservative leader Paul Wyerich wrote in The Washington Post, “Reagan is a weakened president, weakened in spirit as well as clout.”

Go here to read the rest. It’s definitely worth the read.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry is Stupid. Oh, and He’s Racist. ALL Republicans are Stupid and Racist!

As expected, Texas Governor Rick Perry entered the crowded GOP presidential field over the weekend.  Him tossing his hat in the ring was a non-event, as people had been expecting him to enter for a while now.  No offense to Michelle Bachmann, but most bets right now are figuring this to be a two-horse race between Perry and former governor Mitt Romney.  (Sidenote:  is becoming president worth running multiple times and spending millions of your own money??)

Almost immediately, the attacks on Perry started coming.

It’s no secret that the Left loves attacking their political opponents via cracks at their intelligence.  Folks on the left will wax poetically on about how intelligent Obama is and how stupid George W. Bush is, or how stupid Michelle Bachmann is.  I can’t recall anyone on the Left referring to Al Gore being stupid even though his grades were actually worse than Bush’s.  And even when such an observation was made, it was done in a way to still make Gore–the Lefty–not look so bad:

His generally middling college grades at Harvard in fact bear a close resemblance to the corresponding Yale marks of his presidential opponent, George W. Bush, whose studiousness and brainpower have been more open to question during this campaign.

Gore arrived at Harvard with an impressive 1355 SAT score, 625 verbal and 730 math, compared with Bush’s 1206 total from 566 verbal and 640 math. In his sophomore year at Harvard, Gore’s grades were lower than any semester recorded on Bush’s transcript from Yale. That was the year Gore’s classmates remember him spending a notable amount of time in the Dunster House basement lounge shooting pool, watching television, eating hamburgers and occasionally smoking marijuana. His grades temporarily reflected his mildly experimental mood, and alarmed his parents. He received one D, one C-minus, two C’s, two C-pluses and one B-minus, an effort that placed him in the lower fifth of the class for the second year in a row.

But I digress.

Recently, The Huffington Post jumped into the fray by announcing they had obtained a copy of Rick Perry’s college transcript.  As is usually the case, the intended implication is that maybe Perry ain’t so bright:

One reason that might explain his hostility toward the system: He didn’t do very well in it. A source in Texas passed The Huffington Post Perry’s transcripts from his years at Texas A&M University. The future politician did not distinguish himself much in the classroom. While he later became a student leader, he had to get out of academic probation to do so. He rarely earned anything above a C in his courses — earning a C in U.S. History, a D in Shakespeare, and a D in the principles of economics. Perry got a C in gym.

Nevermind that the debate should center on what he has done since then, or maybe even focus on his term as governor, or even that release of a transcript without permission of the student may be illegal. No. Let’s go back to college so we can legitimately say (say it along with me now) “Rick Perry is stupid!!”

Now, the other preferred method of attack is to find a way of labeling the GOP as “racist.”  Nevermind that the word has been misused so much that most people don’t even know the real definition, or don’t realize that “bigot” or “prejudiced” would probably be better if the argument actually applied.

MSNBC talking head Ed Schultz decided to prove Perry is a racist.   Now, mind you, the Left is always on the case when it comes to calling out statements they don’t like, especially when they are made by Limbaugh, Hannity, and other Conservative talking heads.  Somehow, they never mind when people like Schultz pull absurd statements out of their sphincter void and toss them out like gospel.

Rick Perry gave a speech where he referred to America’s debt as a “black cloud hanging over us.”  So what did Schultz do?  He had his people do some selective editing:

Yep.  Let’s leave out a key phrase–“that debt”–and make a case out of it, going so far as to invite guests on who you know will agree with you.  Schultz did apologize.  “On this particular statement, we should not have included it in our coverage of his overheated rhetoric,” he said in a statement.   “That’s our mistake. The full context of all of these other statements show who he is and what he stands for.”

In other words, “sorry we faked THAT one, but he’s still a racist!”

Next, we’ll start hearing about how GOP candidates are ugly and dress funny.

Random Thoughts: Obama/Boehner Disrupting Prime Time, “Fair Share,” Political Garbage Speak, ect

Just some random thoughts:

Why did the President and the Speaker waste our prime time last night?  President Obama took his time to get in front of the mic and say the same things he has said in his press conferences the past few weeks.  He threw in some statements about negotiations, made some nice statements about Speaker Boehner, and made sure to trot out his tried-and-true, base-energizing catchphrases:  “corporate jet owners;” “millionaires and billionaires;” “breaks we don’t need” (paraphrased).  You pushed back the start of our 8 pm shows for this??  Even worse, I listened to Chris Matthews afterwards and heaven forbid, he said something I agree with; he said usually, Presidents only request prime time to make an announcement or to make news.  This speech was neither and shouldn’t have been done in prime time.  Write it down somewhere–I agreed with Chris Matthews!  Then, House Speaker Boehner jumps up with the canned response.  There are really only two things I pulled out of his speech:  1)he had a couple of zingers at Obama’s expense that were funny, and 2)Republicans are now going to position the President’s stance as wanting a “blank check” since he did not support their Cut, Cap, and Balance bill.  The election may be next year, but the game is already afoot.

Speaking of corporate jets:  First, if the tax break in question was eliminated, it would save a whopping $3 billion.  Over ten years.  Yes, ten.  Trillions in deficits and we’re talking $3 billion.  Second, Obama is responsible for the very tax break he criticizes.  See the stimulus bill for more details.  Third, he has people thinking these “corporate jet owners” are just average wealthy individuals with money to burn.  For the most part, based on the tax break, the owners of corporate jets tend to be…wait for it…CORPORATIONS!!  Way to muddy the issue for duh masses, Mr. President.

Did he really mention Reagan?:  Obama referred to Ronald Reagan in his speech in order to take a swipe at Republicans.  Reagan’s quote somewhat supported what the Left has been saying.  The irony is, I noticed Obama didn’t quote HIMSELF from 2006, when he was talking about how raising the ceiling was a failure in leadership.  Or what about Harry Reid, who  fought against a debt-celing increase that same year and asked  “How can (Repubicans) explain that they think it’s fair to force our children, our grandchildren, our great grandchildren tofinance this debt through higher taxes?”  Now THOSE are quotes that should’ve gotten some airtime.

If all else fails, let’s create some wealth and income envy:  My friends on the left need to own up to this.  Their belief in raising taxes creates a need to make the rest of America mad at the wealthy.  You can hear it when the President speaks of the previously mentioned corporate jet owners.  Or when he talks about tax breaks that high-earners “don’t need.”  You even get it when he speaks of the oil companies.  Lest we forget, Dems want to take a tax break away from the top 5 oil companies, since they are making so much money.  Absurdity, not only because we’re talking about a small amount of money ($21 billion over 10 years), but because it would then be a break that every company in America EXCEPT those 5 oil companies could take advantage of.  But hey, Big Oil is evil and they need to pay up!

Can someone define “fair share?”:  Sometime soon this will get its own post.  I’ve heard my friends and the President refer to fairness in various terms when it comes to taxes.  But I don’t understand what that means, since I’ve never heard it defined.  What is fair?  Based on the proportion of taxes paid, high-income earners pay a ton.  We hear about hedge fund managers paying less than their secretaries, but is it unfair that they take advantage of lawful tax deductions and such?  And do they really pay less than the secretary, or is that just another one of those garbage speak political catchphrases referred to earlier?  I would go with the latter.

A Nice Visual Explanation of How the Government Can “Cut” Spending…and Increase Spending at the Same Time

Been curious as to whether or not the government was really cutting spending in all these negotiations?  Wondered what “baseline spending” is?  Didn’t realize that all the crying about cutting programs for the poor is crap?  Check out this video.  You’ll never look at “spending cuts” the same again!

Let’s Put the “We Can’t Guarantee the Checks Will Go Out” Myth to Bed, Shall We?

Once more, with feeling!

If you haven’t heard, President Obama said he couldn’t guarantee that Social Security checks would go out on August 3rd, the day after the US is projected to go past the debt ceiling and somehow default on every debt under the sun.  While some of us recognize that even after that point, the money coming IN to the Social Security Administration will still be coming in, which means the money going OUT in terms of checks will still be going out, the scare tactic is being echoed by those on the left as though its a done deal that recipients (along with recipients of veterans benefits) won’t be getting their money.  How could the mean, rich-loving Republicans do that?

Then we find out that there is plenty of tax revenue to cover the benefits:

he Daily Treasury Statement for June 30—which any American, including the president, can look up on the U.S. Treasury Department’s website at this link—says the government took in $196.994 billion in revenue during the month.

The same statement says that the government paid out $50.719 billion in Social Security benefits in June, $4.196 billion in veterans’ benefits, and $2.961 billion for other Veteran Affairs department programs.

The combined $57.876 billion that the federal government paid out for Social Security benefits, veterans’ benefits and other veterans programs during June equaled 29.4 percent of federal revenue for the month.

The only way the checks don’t get paid is if the government DECIDES not to send them out.  And we know who is in charge of the government in DC right now, no?

So, let’s do the math. The government had about $140 billion extra over what they paid out in benefits. And unless time stops, there is a very good chance the same thing could happen during July as well. So it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that there will be money to pay out those benefit checks, right?  Ding  Ding!  Ding!  We have a winner!  Now, go to the front of the line and get that Social Security check!

It will be waiting for you on August 3rd.

Guliani: the Republican Party should stop focusing on gay marriage and “get the heck out of people’s bedrooms.”

So much for Guliani running for President in2012.

In a recent article, former NY mayor Rudy Guliani addressed the recent vote to allow gay marriage in NY. He took aim at his own party in a way that I suspect will raise some hackles among the base:

“I think that marriage should be between a man and a woman, but I think that the Republican Party would be well-advised to get the heck out of people’s bedrooms and let these things get decided by states,” Giuliani said. “I think it’s wrong, but there are other things that I think are wrong that get decided by democratic vote.”

As I have mentioned previously, I’d say the party that is supposedly big on individual liberties takes a turn to the hypocritical by “defending” marriage.  Mr. Guliani raises what I consider the second biggest reason why the GOP should move on from gay marriage–there are bigger things to worry about than gay people tying the knot.

President Obama says “Hey! You Don’t Need That Money!”

Yesterday amongst my online pals, I was lamenting a new law that pushes for light bulbs to be more efficient, but in effect ends up pushing the masses to use more efficient but also more expensive and more hazardous CFC bulbs.  The focus of my complain was a statement from Energy Secretary Steven Chu, who said: “We are taking away a choice that continues to let people waste their own money.”  Yes, we the masses would be lost if we didn’t have the government guiding our way.

Now, we have President Obama, who is currently trying to get a deal done to raise the debt limit.  During a press conference, he stated:

I don’t want a deal in which I am able to keep hundreds of thousands of dollars that I don’t need, while a parent struggling to send her kid to college finds they have a couple thousand dollars less in grants and student loans.

For now, let’s move past the second part of the statement, where he invokes the time honored tradition of scare tactics. Let’s talk about the “need.”

On the surface, Mr. Obama is talking about himself not needing a tax break, and not needing money he considers to be extra money.  It’s quite humorous that he states this, since as President, he has everything taken care of.  But let’s go below the surface.  Obviously, his statement implicitly implies that the higher income earners should be happy to pay more in taxes because they don’t “need” the extra money they have in the bank.  Once again, here is the government to our rescue, to guide us!

Hey!  You’ve earned enough money!  It doesn’t matter what your plans are for you money, we the government have decided FOR you that you have more than you need!  Ignore that we are notorious for overspending!  Its your patriotic duty to pay up anytime we feel we need more money!

Oh, and let’s do revisit the second part of the statement, regarding grants and loans. We are in a dire financial situation.  Isn’t it a natural assumption that folks are going to feel the pain? And even if taxes go up, wouldn’t that money go to pay down the debt?  Evidently, even in a situation where cuts should be the priority, and paying down deficit and debt right behind that, the administration will find ways to either increase spending somewhere or attempt to keep things status quo.  Hello!  McFly!  Is that what Joe Public does when he needs to cut spending in his own household?

Just remember:  the government knows what’s best!

When Spending Cuts Aren’t Really Spending Cuts (or, “They Think We’re Stupid”)

In the ongoing battle between the parties to negotiate a debt-limit increase, there has been much talk of spending cuts.  Republicans are strongly taking a stand on cutting spending but no new taxes.  Democrats are open to spending cuts but are looking for ways to increase revenue to increasing taxes or cutting tax breaks.  But people won’t be surprised to know that both sides are choosing not to be up front with we the people.

When we the people look at a budget, we base it on what we have coming in at the time.  We then decide where we will spend those funds.  We won’t get into the notion that if we were out of money and needed more, if we did as the government does sometimes and print our own, we’d be hauled off to jail rather quickly.  In general, most people don’t have the luxury of just going out and getting loan after loan while continuing to spend above their means.

Not so with the government.

I got a call from a good friend of mine who was watching a show on CNBC.  He said a guy was on talking about how spending cuts weren’t spending cuts and how he’d remembered hearing it from me months ago.  You see, the government doesn’t operate the way normal people do.  Matter of fact, the government doesn’t even operate like a good company does.  And here is where they pull the wool over our eyes.  Let me explain using an example.

When Joe Public is doing a budget, he bases it off of how much he has coming in, and how much he as going out.  If he has more going out than coming in, he has no choice but to cut spending.  If he decides that he must make a spending cut, typically its going to result in him spending an amount less than what he is spending now.  So, where he may be spending $1,000 per month now, a budget cut may result in spending $950 per month next year.  That is a budget cut.

Now, the government doesn’t do that.  The government uses a nice little trick called baseline budgeting.  The government has already planned ahead as to what spending increases will be.  For example, while the budget for program A is $1,000 for 2011, they have already planned that in 2012 it will be $1,100, for 2013 it will be $1,200, and so on (sidenote:  the government tends to project increases in terms of percentages.  I’m using real numbers so I don’t have to use a calculator.).  So when there is talk of a spending cut, it is not like Joe Public, who takes his spending below what he was spending before.  Instead the government says, “well, instead of spending $1,100 in 2012, we’ll spend $1,050, and in 2013 we’ll spend $1,100.”  As you can see, overall spending still goes up, just not as fast.

This is why complaints about spending cuts have to be taken with a grain of salt.  Politicians will make things seem like a program is going to die due to budget cuts, but that is making the assumption that the reduced spending increase won’t be enough.  They also assume (correctly) that the majority of the people have no idea of how they are pulling the wool over their eyes.  If there is to be a serious, authentic discussion about spending cuts, then lets see some serious, authentic reductions in actual spending!

GOP Claims “Reagan Conservatism” but Reagan Would Disagree

I’d written before that if Ronald Reagan ran for president, he wouldn’t make it our of the Republican primaries these days. Why? Because of his stance on taxes. You see, for all the railing today’s GOP is doing about no tax increases or ending of tax breaks, what gets overlooked is Reagan’s overall record on taxes and revenue.

Surely we’ve all heard that Reagan cut taxes. The storyline goes “Reagan cut taxes and the economy grew.” But therein lies some serious policy omission. After a massive tax rate cut in 1981, Reagan along with Congress (which included a Republican-led Senate) proceeded to pass a number of measures designed to raise revenue. Any of those measures would be criticized today as tax increases.

I’d been surprised that little has been said about this. But finally, an article in Politico spells it out:

The Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982 (TEFRA) is the most famous, because of its historic size and timing, a dramatic course correction that quickly followed Reagan’s signature income tax cuts in 1981. But in the six years after were four more deficit-reduction acts, which combined to almost double TEFRA’s revenue impact on an annual basis.

Translated into current dollars, the total revenue increases for the five bills would then be equal to about $190 billion a year. That’s far in excess of anything that has been proposed by the White House in recent deficit talks led by Vice President Joseph Biden, yet most of these increases were approved when Republicans controlled the Senate in the 1980’s.

Democrats could really bash Republicans’ heads with this. Instead of the insipid arguments we keep hearing about “tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires” and “tax breaks for Big Oil” a simple tack of “well, Reagan did it” would be nearly impossible for Republicans to counter. After all, Reagan is patron saint of conservatism.

Gay Marriage Law Passed in NY. The Debate Continues.

Friday night, New York became the 6th state to legalize gay marriage.  There was lots of cheering and applause in the gallery of the NY legislature as the bill won passage by 4 votes.  This was the second attempt to pass same sex marriage legislation in the last 3 years, as a similar bill was defeated in 2009.  The difference?  Something I think will lead to more states passing same sex marriage in the future (and noted in a huffington post article:

As older New Yorkers passed away and younger ones with more tolerant attitudes took their place, the percentage of voters in favor of gay marriage kept on going up and up, from 37 percent in 2004 to 58 percent at the beginning of this month.

Granted, a large percentage of voters nationwide still oppose same sex marriage, the issue is one handled at the state level. I’m pretty convinced that as younger voters take up more space in the voting block, we will see the percentages of people in favor go up.

There are two noteworthy things about New York becoming state number six.  First, New York becomes the largest state to become a same sex marriage state.  Further, unlike the other 5, one doesn’t have to be a resident of NY to get married in NY.  So, not only should we expect to see a number of gays go to New York to get married, it wouldn’t be surprising to see a number of them actually move to the state and take up residence.

Of course, conservatives are already sounding the alarm.  Michelle Bachmann, who is currently one of the front-runners for the GOP presidential nomination (it is early, folks, so that doesn’t mean much), has said that though she feels it should be left up to the states, she would offer up a federal amendment that would ensure marriage would be constitutionally guaranteed as being between one man and one woman:

“Every time it’s going on the ballot, the people have decided to keep the traditional definition,” she said. “After all, the family is the fundamental unit of government.”

I respect that many oppose same sex marriage on religious grounds.  But I have yet to understand how such a stance is not hypocritical from the traditional conservative stance of fighting for individuality.

It seems as though its all about individual rights, up until it’s something conservatives don’t agree with.  Suddently, its all about “what’s best for the country.”  Many a time, especially in debates, conservatives will be sure to use the talking points most effective with the base:  the Bible says homosexuality is a sin; marriage is traditionally between man and woman;  a mom and a dad are best for child- rearing.  The arguments have some validity to them.  But the discussion usually stops there.  I would love to ask Rep. Bachmann exactly how two people of the same sex negatively affects her or her own marriage.  Then I would ask how advocating for a constitutional amendment–in essence creating something else to be officially enforced by the federal government–does not contradict a call for limited government.  Further, I’d ask if she (or others opposed to same sex marriage on religious grounds) would advocate for a ban on divorce, since the Bible is pretty clear on that as well.

Bottom line, I’m sure that one can oppose religiously but recognize that the church and the state are two different things.  And in the absence of any substantial proof that society will end or the world will implode, there isn’t really a reason why it shouldn’t be allowed.

I Said We All Lose With the Budget Deal; It’s Worse Than I Thought

In my last post, I explained why I thought we all lose out in the end when it comes to the budget deal agreed on last week.  Well, now that they put out the details of the agreement, many people are realizing that it’s worse than we thought.  In many cases, “cuts” aren’t cuts at all.

So, what constitutes a “budget cut?”

Many of the cuts appear to have been cuts in name only, because they came from programs that had unspent funds.

For example, $1.7 billion left over from the 2010 census; $3.5 billion in unused children’s health insurance funds; $2.2 billion in subsidies for health insurance co-ops (that’s something the president’s new health care law is going to fund anyway); and $2.5 billion from highway programs that can’t be spent because of restrictions set by other legislation.

About $10 billion of the cuts comes from targeting appropriations accounts previously used by lawmakers for so-called earmarks – pet projects like highways, water projects, community development grants and new equipment for police and fire departments. Republicans had already engineered a ban on earmarks when taking back the House this year.

Republicans also claimed $5 billion in savings by capping payments from a fund awarding compensation to crime victims. Under an arcane bookkeeping rule — used for years by appropriators — placing a cap on spending from the Justice Department crime victims fund allows lawmakers to claim the entire contents of the fund as “budget savings.” The savings are awarded year after year.

For those keeping count at home, that block of funny money amounts to $24.9 billion of the $38 billion in budget cuts! Yes, the shutdown drama was over about $13 billion in actual cuts, which amounts to a miniscule percentage of the overall budget. Oh, and they managed to find time to tell D.C. how they can and can’t spend their money, too.

This is the type of tomfoolery we have to put up with. Both sides should be ashamed. But we know its just business as usual.

Forget Picking Winners in the Budget Fiasco; We All Lose in the End

Unofficial seal of the United States Congress

Image via Wikipedia

After the absurd theater that was the “oh-my-god-the-government-will-shut-down” nonsense of last week, many news sites were picking “winners” and “losers.”  Frankly, the loser in all of this is clear–the American People.  If it takes this much effort to get Congress to cut a few billion dollars from a 3-plus trillion dollar deficit, what happens going forward, with expected trillion-dollar deficits for the next ten years?

Contrary to the posturing being done by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and President Obama, Democrats came out on the losing end of the battle.  At least temporarily (since success can be fleeting in politics), many Americans scratched their heads as Democrats dug in and fought against budget cuts that make up less than one percent of the total budget.  One looks silly fighting to hold on to every penny when nearly everyone knows that the level of debt we are piling up as a country is unsustainable and a threat to national security.

Wait.  I digress.  Based on the number of people who actually supported the Dems position in all of this, either “nearly everyone” is far from accurate, or there are a lot of people in denial.  They are convinced the way to fix this is to maintain the spending and only increase taxes.  But that’s a different story.

Since we’re talking budgets, and in Washington, its always about the baseline, let’s look at the baseline of the budget battle.  If Democrats had passed a budget back in 2010, while controlling Congress and the White House, none of this would’ve happened.  It was the first time in many years that there was no budget submitted.  Even worse, the fact that the Dems punted in June of 2010 in order to go into butt-covering mode for the upcoming elections seems to have been swept under the rug.  I’m very surprised some person within the Democrat machine didn’t point out that if they didn’t get it done, it could possibly be out of their hands in 2011.

Meanwhile, the Tea Party, whose focus is and always has been spending cuts (don’t be fooled by accusations to the contrary), powered an election that sent new people to Congress with the mission of reigning in spending.  I’ve actually gotten a kick out of watching how people who were quick to defend the ramming through of Obamacare by saying “that’s what we elected them to do” turn around and actually criticize members of Congress for being beholden to the Tea Party!  It’s more important to demonize the TP than to recognize that their criticism of spending is legit.

But back to the budget fight.  Republicans aren’t without criticism here.  This was no time to inject social issues into the fray.  A fight over funding for Planned Parenthood had no business occupying time and space in this.  Or did it?  One analysis of the battle said the Democrats fell for the okey-doke in that regard; that really, defunding Planned Parenthood wasn’t really the big priority that Democrats thought it was, and when they agreed to give up something in return for a dropping of that issue by Republicans, they were suckered.  Further, as part of the final agreement, Obama and Reid agreed to allow a debate and vote on defunding PP to be brought up in the Senate.  Still, any future fight over defunding Planned Parenthood just because they are an abortion provider is a waste.

There is one upside to the way the deal went down.  Democrats hoped to achieve cuts by simply delaying some projects (which did happen) and/or freezing funding for certain programs and refunding them in the next budget.  Republicans didn’t play ball.   Instead, many programs were terminated in order to get to the nearly $40 billion in cuts.  For the other programs with reduced budgets, they have a new baseline to start from in the 2012 budget.  In other words, even if there is a programmed funding increase, they will still spend less going forward.  This serves to reduce the monsterous deficits already projected for the next 5-10 years out.

So, after all of that, why do I say we all lose?  Because this bears repeating:  we nearly had a government shutdown over cuts amounting to less than 2% of the overall budget!  So much hinged on so little.  In order for the country to win, spending has to come down.   Is that so hard to understand?

In Wisconsin, a Union Shakedown in the Name of “Supporting Workers Rights”

The story in Wisconsin continues.  The bill taking away state employees ability to bargain for things other than wages may have been passed, but a judge has kept the bill from being put into force due to possible violations of a 24 hour meeting notification rule.  Meanwhile, union members are telling businesses to openly support them or be boycotted:

Members of Wisconsin State Employees Union, AFSCME Council 24, have begun circulating letters to businesses in southeast Wisconsin, asking them to support workers’ rights by putting up a sign in their windows.

If businesses fail to comply, the letter says, “Failure to do so will leave us no choice but (to) do a public boycott of your business. And sorry, neutral means ‘no’ to those who work for the largest employer in the area and are union members.”

So, let’s get this straight. If you are a business owner, and you are not interested in getting involved in the ongoing battle, you could still get boycotted for choosing not to get involved. In the current economic atmosphere, I have no doubt that some businesses will capitulate to ensure their doors remain open. But how is this behavior ok? How can unions complain about how they are being treated in the legislative process, then turn around and basically threaten business owners?

Seems like a possible return to old fashioned union bullying tactics.

Sorry, Michael Moore; Taking the Billionares’ Billions Won’t Bail Us Out

Mary Katherine Ham took Michael Moore’s idiot idea of confiscating wealth and using it as a “national resource” and basically showed how much of an idiot he is

The grand total of the combined net worth of every single one of America’s billionaires is roughly $1.3 trillion. It does indeed sound like a “ton of cash” until one considers that the 2011 deficit alone is $1.6 trillion. So, if the government were to simply confiscate the entire net worth of all of America’s billionaires, we’d still be $300 billion short of making up this year’s deficit.

Read more: Michael Moore’s National Resources

Different Perspectives on the Republicans’ “Win” in Wisconsin

After the move made by Republicans in Wisconsin to pass a bill taking away some collective bargaining abilities, the response are coming in.  On one side, its said that what was done was no different than what Dems have done to get legislation passed, and that to decry it would be hypocritical.  On the other side, the criticism is blistering, and the governor may find that support from his own party supporters may have slipped away.   Here are a couple of good pieces of analysis.

From the Washington Post, on the “Plum Line” blog, Greg Sargent speculates that the amount of maneuvering needed by Gov. Walker and Republicans to get the collective bargaining bill passed means the fight is only going to get worse:

There’s no quibbling with the fact that if it does stand, Walker and Republicans will have gotten their way in the short term fight. But let’s recall an important fact: Republicans control the governorship and state legislature. The fact that they were forced to resort to this trick is itself a concession that they had lost the battle as they themselves had previously defined it. And in so doing, they were forced to pull a maneuver that will only lend even more energy to the drive to recall them.

On the other hand, Mickey Kaus at The Daily Caller says the situation was definitely a win for Gov. Walker:

If Walker’s concessions had been accepted, he still basically would have won (largely because of the dues provision). But the Dems could have returned to Madison claiming that their dramatic walkout had resulted in a non-trivial victory of sorts, and the press was poised to portray them as brave, victorious heroes. This outcome denies the Democrats that media triumph.

So, it can be said that the Wisconsin Republicans either stood their ground, or they ignored the will of the people. It can also be said that Democrats did represent the will of the people, or they are being hypocritical (reconciliation is ok, but just when they do it). We shall see who wins the messaging war.

Wisconsin Dems Now Angry After Their Holdout Backfires

14 Democrat Senators in Wisconsin continued to stay holed up in Illinois in what had been a successful attempt to prevent the passing of a bill that would strip collective bargaining abilities from public workers (important sidenote:  they would retain the ability to bargain for pay, something that seems to get ignored).  In their view, leaving town was their way of fulfilling the will of the people–even though the obvious “will of the people” was that they wanted Republicans in charge, based on the last election results.  They were determined to prevent what they felt would be a removal of of rights from occurring.

All that changed in minutes.

Republicans realized that a quorum is only needed for spending bills.  So, they removed the collective bargaining piece from the spending bill and passed it as a separate bill which did not need a quorum.  Just like that, Dems’ out-of-state foray was rendered moot.  Of course they are crying foul. One senator, speaking on the Lawrence O’Donnell show on MSNBC, talked of how he was driving back doing 80 miles per hour in an attempt to stop what was happening. O’Donnell, sympathetic to the guest, failed to make an obvious point: if they had actually been in Wisconsin instead of hiding out, there would’ve been no need to have to “come back!”  Very simple idea, really.

Now, there you have it.  a group voted into the minority who leaves the state in order to avoid legislation they don’t like and putting the government process on hiatus now screams bloody murder because business continued on without them.  How does THAT make sense?

Links:
CNN: Union supporters to rally after Wisconsin Senate passes limits
Runaway Wis. Dem Drove Back As Fast As He Could To Stop GOP

Georgia Politicians Back off of Birther-inspired Bill

Either they got cold feet, or they realized they were getting laughed at by most of the country, but the bill in the Georgia Legislature to require proof of a presidential candidate’s citizenship seems to be losing sponsors:

When state Rep. Mark Hatfield, R-Waycross, dropped his bill to require next year presidential candidates to provide hard proof of their birth on U.S. soil, the paperwork contained the signatures of 93 of his House colleagues – 92 of them Republican.

Word of House Speaker David Ralston’s coolness toward the legislation spread through the Capitol on Wednesday. Those concerned with the Port of Savannah made their opinions known.

The article and an image of the bill with names of the former sponsors scratched out can be found here.

Is there ANY proof that Birthers will accept?

After hearing about a bill in the Georgia Legislature to require citizenship proof for a presidential candidate (which we all know is an effort to keep Obama off the 2012 ballot), I had to scratch my head.  What’s with these people??  Do they not realize how dumb they come off?  Anyway, soon after, I heard someone call into a radio show and ask a question that shuts the entire Birther argument down:  if Obama’s mom was an American citizen, doesn’t that make Obama an American citizen?”

Game.  Set.  Match.  If she was a citizen, it doesn’t matter WHERE she gave birth.  He’s a citizen.

Anyway, since Google is my friend, I did a little looking and came across what is (in addition to the info above) the ultimate “shut up, Birthers!” argument.  Never mind that they can’t prove their own argument (notice they always ask Obama for proof instead of offering up their own proof).  The article lays out every main argument by birthers– then shoots them down one by one:

Based on this working understanding of U.S. citizenship, three things have become obvious to me:

1. Those promoting the Birther fiction don’t have the first clue about almost anything having to do with how American citizenship really works.
2. Given that Dr. Orly Taitz (one of the main poo-stirrers spinning the fan in this fracas) is herself both an immigrant and a licensed member of the California bar, she should presumably know this stuff cold. But the national case that she’s built almost entirely on spurious legal fictions is one of incompetence.
3. The Google’s been around for over a decade now, but nobody on the right seems to have figured out how to use it yet. You can find confirmation for most of what I’m about to tell you in about 0.86 seconds, assuming you can type and spell and think well enough to concoct a basic search string. Apparently, nobody in Birtherland has that level of skill.

Link: Firing Back on the Birthers: Where’s Their Evidence?

Georgia Legislature Considering Bill to Require Proof of Citizenship

Republicans won’t pass a bill to allow Sunday alcohol sales, but evidently, verifying a candidate’s citizenship is much more important!

Georgia has become the 10th state to require proof of citizenship for a presidential candidate before they are allowed to be put on the ballot:

Even though Hawaii officials have repeatedly confirmed Obama’s citizenship, his birth certificate has been made public and courts have rebuffed challenges, the so-called ”birther” issue hasn’t gone away.

Georgia Rep. Mark Hatfield, a Republican, said he still doesn’t know if Obama is eligible to serve as president, and 92 of his GOP colleagues and one Democrat support the bill introduced Monday.

”Most people feel it’s an issue to a significant enough portion of our population that it needs to be addressed by the state,” Hatfield said. ”It is, in a sense, a response to … the sitting president and his inability or unwillingness to release his original birth certificate.”

Lets be clear. This is nothing but playing politics. Somehow, these folks don’t realize how stupid they look. If there is anything about this that is shocking, its that one of the sponsors is a Democrat.
Need proof that Georgia deserves the bottom ranking for education in the US? Just look at our politicians.

In Wisconsin, the line between Unions/Dems and Repubs is drawn in the sand

In the state of Wisconsin, the state government has a $3.6 billion shortfall.  Similar to other state legislatures across the country, they are coming up with a number of measures to attempt to close the budget hole.  One of the ways new Republican governor Scott Walker has proposed has created an outcry from teachers and unions:

In addition to eliminating collective bargaining rights, the legislation also would make public workers pay half the costs of their pensions and at least 12.6 percent of their health care coverage — increases Walker calls “modest” compared with those in the private sector.

According to Walker, the proposal will save $300 million over the next two years. But Dems are not at all happy with what they see as being deprived of a right. Teachers have staged massive “sick outs” so that they can protest. Democrats in the Wisconsin legislature have left and gone into hiding to prevent any vote from occurring. Protesters at the capital have been heard chanting “Freedom! Democracy! Unions!”

Wait. Did they actually include the word “unions” with freedom and democracy? Wow.  I thought democracy is people getting out to vote, voting in politicians whose job it is to steward taxpayer money, and make cuts when necessary when there is a deficit, even if the other side doesn’t like it.  Which would mean the unions are actually trying to stifle a democratic process by protesting and causing school closings.  But I digress.

Having spent my entire young working life in a right-to-work, merit pay environment, I have yet to develop much sympathy or support for unions. I admire the important things they helped with over the years (40 hour work week, child labor laws, ect). But am I supposed to be upset because they wouldn’t be able to force people to pay union dues? That they wouldn’t be able to to negotiate for things other than pay? Or that they would have to pay more money for pension and benefits just like most of us in the private sector?
Sorry, but I say no. Especially when taxpayer’s money is involved.

Links to the story can be found here and here.

Never thought i’d see it: Dems accusing Repubs of cutting too much defense spending!

Usually, Dems will yell at the right for never cutting defense spending. But in an interesting move, the shoe is on the other foot.

Since there is no official budget in place, the government is being funded through continuing resolutions–in short, declarations that say the government will continue to be funded at current levels temporarily. In the latest offering, republicans have suggested a number of deep spending cuts, including to the department of defense. But the president isn’t having it, saying he will veto the GOP spending measure:

“The statement said the GOP proposal goes too far and proposes cuts that would sharply undermine core government functions and investments key to economic growth and job creation, and would reduce funding for the Department of Defense to a level that would leave the department without the resources and flexibility needed to meet vital military requirements.”

Expect this drama to drag on for a while.

Reagan is Conservatism’s Patron Saint But Would Never Get Elected By Today’s GOP

Official Portrait of President Ronald Reagan

Image via Wikipedia

Aside from Feb. 6th being Super Bowl Sunday, it was also what would’ve been President Ronald Reagan’s 100th birthday.  As Reagan is considered a hero by many on the right, there have been remembrances, dedications, shout outs, flashbacks, and countless other looks back on Reagan and his legacy in the last week.  Of course, folks on the left are having none of that, understandably choosing to focus more on those “accomplishments” that they feel did more bad than good.

I (as is often the case) am in the middle on Reagan.  I wouldn’t call him a hero, but then again, I wouldn’t try to back over him with a MARTA bus, either.  But I’m pretty convinced that based on his overall record, if an exact Reagan clone popped up today and attempted to run for President saying he would do exactly as Reagan did and be exactly as Reagan was, he wouldn’t even make it out of the primaries.  Why?  Simple.  Reagan doesn’t fit the mold of today’s Republican.

First, there is his track record on taxes.  In 1981, Reagan signed the The Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981 also known as the ERTA or “Kemp-Roth Tax Cut.”  The top marginal rate for personal income taxes went from 70% to 50%, and the bottom rate dropped from 14% to 11%.   In general, the Act lowered marginal tax rates on average 23% across the board.  He also lowered taxes in 1986.  After that, the top marginal rate was 28%.  While tax revenues decreased over the short term, over the long term there was not only an increase in the amount of tax revenues to the government, but also a long period of economic growth.  But, that’s not the entire story.

As the budget deficit grew, Reagan knew something had to be done.  So, he signed into law legislation that, in essence, were tax increases.   Bills signed in 1982 and 1984 closed tax loopholes and increased the tax base by making more transactions taxable.  The 1986 reform bill eliminated many deductions that high income earners had been allowed to use, increasing their tax bills.  In the end, his tax increases actually increased tax revenue to the government and offset much of the revenue lost from the earlier tax cuts.

In 1982, Reagan led efforts to privatize Social Security.  Not only did it not work, but (as is usually the case in midterms) the GOP lost many seats in the following elections.  In 1983 he signed legislation that bailed out Social Security.  Pricetag:  $165 billion. Results of the bailout included higher  payroll taxes for higher income earners and the self-employed, expanded the system to include federal workers, and made Social Security benefits taxable.

These tax increases are rarely mentioned.  In today’s environment, once it came to light, the Reagan-clone would get skewered for ever considering tax increases as fiscal policy.

The national debt also tripled under Reagan.  It went over $1 trillion during his first year, and was $3 trillion when he left.  Of course, that was a bipartisan effort, as the House was under Democrat control all 8 years of his presidency, and the Senate was for 2 of his 8 years.  But evidently, veto wasn’t an option.  Of course, many will say that much of the spending was to counter the Soviet Union.  But SOMEONE has to account for the money vacuum that was SDI, which never worked.

Among other things that are rarely mentioned:

  • Reagan promised to reduce the size of government, in part by eliminating the Departments of Energy and Education.  Instead, he added a new Department of Veterans Affairs.
  • There was little done in the way to reduce government spending over Reagan’s 2 terms.
  • Many will always repeat Reagan’s call to Gorbachev to “tear down this wall” and say “see?  you have to be tough!”  In actuality, Reagan and Gorbachev nearly agreed to eliminate ALL nuclear weapons from each country’s arsenal.  Plus, to help Gorbachev enact reform, the US reduced defense spending in the latter part of Reagan’s second term.  How’s that for “peace through strength?”

Finally, the the proverbial straw that would bring our Reagan-clone’s hopes to an end–and yet one more point rarely mentioned–is immigration.  In 1982, Reagan signed a bill that allowed any illegal alien in the US before that year to be eligible for amnesty.  Yep, blanket amnesty.  In today’s environment, that would be a big no-no.

In the end, Reagan gains sainthood by default.  For those keeping up with conservative politics, there is no one else that can take his place.  Nixon resigned.  Ford was considered weak.  Bush I lost his reelection bid despite removing Saddam Hussein from Kuwait (taxes played a role in his defeat).  Bush II had two terms, but many on the right don’t consider him conservative enough.  So who is left?  No one but the Gipper.  But he’d never make it today.

Hmmm, more clear evidence that its only the consevatives that are violent

It seems I’ve spent a good bit of blog time this past week trying to show that yes, lefty rhetoric is at least equal to that from the right.  It also seems that many on the left will never accept this, no matter how much evidence is shown to them.  That’s ok.  After a while, one either accepts it or just continues to look out of touch.  Just a few more bits of how nice and polite the gentle left is…

From Big Journalism:  someone posts a nice, pleasant message on Twitter about Palin, then gets upset that it gets publicity and asks youtube to take it down due to “privacy issues.”

The result was this video, Twitter Users Wish Death on Sarah Palin, originally posted at YouTube. It’s since been cross-posted on Vimeo because of a takedown notice they received from YouTube in response to a privacy complaint. That’s right, one of the haters who was brave enough to publicly tweet her yearning for the death of a former Governor and Vice Presidential candidate is now suddenly concerned for her Twitter privacy.

A politician says new Florida gov Rick Scott should be put up against a wall and shot. Guess which was a Dem and which was a Repub:

“That Scott down there that’s running for governor of Florida,” an Oct. 23 Times-Tribune story quoted Kanjorski as complaining. “Instead of running for governor of Florida, they ought to have him and shoot him. Put him against the wall and shoot him.”

Ok, we can safely say “point proven” and move on.

Palin’s Map or when crosshairs aren’t really crosshairs

Interesting article on Townhall from Neal Boortz.  Whether or not you like him as a host, he actually makes an interesting comparison.  While members in the Palin camp say that the marks on her infamous Facebook map were not crosshairs (and Boortz backs this up), there are other maps that do depict bullseyes with politicians as targets–and they were created by Democrats:

OK … just what map are we talking about here? Several months ago during the heat of the 2008 midterm elections Sarah Palin put Giffords on her “target list” of Democrats in vulnerable districts who voted for ObamaCare. The list included a map featuring what the media and those on the left are calling telescopic sight images placed over vulnerable districts. Somehow, the liberals have construed that to mean that Sarah Palin literally wanted to “target” Giffords to be shot.

Very interesting start to the Republican takeover

The fun has begun. The 112th Congress has been sworn in, signaling the start of what folks on the right hope is a successful effort to take over DC in 2012. But things are getting off to a very wacky start.
First, the decision was made to hold a vote to repeal the healthcare reform bill, aka “Obamacare.” The chance of this going through is somewhere between zero and minus ten percent. But as is the case when the new team takes power, they have to make an immediate splash, and this is it.
But, wait! Hold the phone!
Shortly after the votes were held, its discovered that 2 members who participated in votes had not been sworn in with the rest of the House members, rendering their votes invalid. To their credit, House Dems didn’t use the opportunuty to call for a re-vote. But who forgets to come into the chamber for the swear-in? (Both members were out in the lobby with constituents and said the oath, but rules say they basically have to be in the chamber.)
On top of all that, after changing the rules for how bills are debated and amended, they then bypassed their own new rules.
This is going to be interesting to watch.

Politicians: Let’s wait to avoid the political fallout

United States Capitol in daylight

Image via Wikipedia

One would think that politicians in Congress would think it normal to work all the time.  But it seems that there is usually a good excuse to be used every election year:  wait until after the election to avoid fallout.

What?  Are you serious?

I along with many other people believe in a saying that goes:  “what’s a politician’s primary job?  To get reelected!”  Now, maybe it’s that I don’t understand the game, or wouldn’t want to be a player in the game, or just think the game is stupid.  But to me, if I’m in congress to get things done and represent the people, then I should be constantly working on the important legislation of the day, and letting the chips fall where they may.  But let’s look at how the waiting game has been played by looking at the current lame-duck session.

In the last few weeks, there have been votes on bills to extend current tax rates, dont’ ask don’t tell, and the extention of unemployment benefits.  While some politicians (namely Dems) said before the election that they “didn’t have the votes needed to pass (insert legislation here)” before the election, other politicians went on record condemning the action.

Quite frankly, the entire “we have to pass it now or the unemployed will lose their benefits and everyone will get a tax increase” drama was unnecessary.  Regardless of what we heard in the media, are we to believe that there was seriously a concerted effort to hammer out those issues before the election?  I think not.  Both sides sensed blood in the water, and for the side in danger, they didn’t want to put themselves in a worse position.  Don’t want to do anything that might jeopardize the free access to the Congressional spa, do we?

Republicans inciting violence! oh, wait. She’s a Democrat. Will she get condemned?

I’ve lost count of the number of times I have seen those on the left calling for condemnation of statements made by folks on the right.  But what about when one of their own says something in the same category?   It seems a senator was suggesting that americans take up pitchforks…she’s a Democrat!

But lets look at some of what she says:

“…they insist on a permanent tax cut for the wealthiest americans, completely unpaid for”

Lets look at this the way it should be looked at. If the projected loss in revenue is indeed $700 billion over 10 years, that means spending would need to be cut from elsewhere for it to be “paid for.” The problem is, instead of suggesting that cuts be found, its easier to criticize the cost. Further, someone should ask a pertinent question: if continuing a tax cut that is unpaid for is such a bad thing, how is continuing ANY of the tax cuts good, since NONE of it is paid for?

“we are fighting for the middle class”

No. you are pulling the wool over the eyes of the middle class in hopes of getting them vote for you and keep you in office.

“70% of Americans don’t itemize deductions.”

So what? That has nothing to do with extending tax cuts. Wait…unless you’re building towards a bigger point…

“so that big ol complex tax code? its been written for wealthy america.”

Ah, there it is! Let’s dig at the high income earners! THATS what you were getting at! Unless there are rules in the tax code that say “only wealthy americans can get these deductions,” you just bent the truth, Senator.

“they have all kinds of ways that they can use the tax code to avoid paying taxes.”

Ah, yes, a famous tactic, used often by Democrats. Let’s imply that the high income earners aren’t paying their “fair share.” Too bad that the top 5% of income earners (making over $158k/yr) make 35% of all adjusted gross income (AGI) in the US, but pay almost 60% of all income taxes paid. The top 10% ($114k and up) make 46% of US AGI, but pay 70% of all income taxes paid. So, that leaves the bottom 90% of income earners to pay the remaining 30% of income taxes paid. This includes the bottom 50% of income earners, who pay less than 3%. The point? High income earners pay a lot in taxes, as they should, but implying they aren’t paying their share is rediculous.

“Its about leveling the playing field”

Its not the government’s job to redistribute wealth and calling it “leveling the playing field!”

“If they think its ok to raise taxes for the embattled middle class because theyre gonna pout if we don’t give more money to millionaires, it really is time for the people of america to take up pitchforks.”

Where do I start on this one? First, Republicans want to extend tax cuts for EVERYONE, not just the wealthy. Second, can someone explain to the Senator that a tax rate cut is not giving money away? To give something away implies there was possession in the first place. When someone has a tax cut, that means they get to keep more of THEIR OWN MONEY! I can only assume that she and other Democrats feel the government is entitled to everyone’s money and should be able to tell folks what they can and can’t do with it. Finally, the pitchfork comment, which is what came to my attention in the first place. I’ve heard many of my left-leaning friends screaming about something someone on the right said, how it should be condemned, and implying that Dems don’t do such. Well, let’s see if those people step forward and comment on this one.
The rest isn’t worth breaking down, other than to mention that she throws in a few digs at the wealthy just to get her constituents even more ticked off at Republicans and at the filthy rich people. It’s a shame that Congress can’t have serious discussions about this type of thing, but also a shame that people don’t realize people like her are part of the problem, not part of the solution.

Why do people hate Sarah Palin so much?

I’ve often seen how people (usually left-leaning) react to anything that has to do with Sarah Palin.  Just the mention of her name evokes a visceral reaction from many that makes me scratch my head.  I’m not  a fan of her, but I don’t see her as being any worse than any other politicians.  The only difference between her and most other politicians is that she actually has a following.  Is that it?

On the Huffington Post, there is an article about how Palin child Willow had a meltdown on Facebook in response to someone criticizing her mom’ s TLC show.  While what she said was enough to have gotten me grounded for life if I had said the same at age 16, it has given Palin detractors another chance to take shots at her and her entire family.  It is as though people are so anxious to hate the other side that they must make it personal.

Calm down, people.  She’s just another politician.

Earmarks: most states give much more than they get (NYers, ya’ll get hosed!)

People hear about “earmarks” but many aren’t sure what they really are.  In short, an earmark is when a piece of legislation is added to a bill directing money be spent on a specific project.  Members of Congress do it all the time to steer federal money home to their districts to fund different things.  Of course, many will yell about pork until it pertains to their own district.  Then, its not pork, its critical.  Need an infamous case?  Look up the “Bridge to Nowhere” debacle in Alaska.

Brandon Arnold writes a good article in Politico about how most states are getting less in earmarks than they should based on how much tax revenue comes from that state:

You and Your Neighbor’s Pork.

 
The article is good, but his follow-up is even better, with a chart showing how much states pay in taxes and receive in earmarks. New Yorkers are definitely getting the screwjob here:

 
Earmark Donor States.

 
Of course, if all earmarks are banned, we won’t have this problem.

Quack! Quack! The Lame Ducks are here! What to watch for.

No, I’m not talking about all those Canadian Geese that are blocking traffic and crapping all over your lawn.  I’m referring to the “Lame Duck” session of congress.  For the uninitiated, the term refers to the congressional session between the elections and the beginning of the new congressional term, when many of the members of congress are simply biding their time before they are shown the door and replaced.  It’s a time where lots of shenanigans can occur; if you’ve been voted out and you only have a few weeks to “live,” you can vote on some things with no concern as to how it will affect you.

In this case, congressional democrats originally had lots of plans for the session.  Unfortunately, November 2 hit like a category 5 hurricane and messed up their plans.  But no worries, there will be fireworks.  Here is a sample of what to watch for:

  • The biggest issue to be resolved will be the extension (or not) of the Bush Tax Cuts.  Republicans want all of them made permanent.  Democrats want to draw the line at people making $200k/$250k individual/family.  There is talk of a 2 year extension of all cuts, but Obama and Pelosi are holding firm that they want no compromise.  Another compromise by Senator Chuck Shumer (D-NY) popped up over the weekend.  We will see if anyone pays attention.
  • The estate tax, aka the “death tax,” if not addressed, will go from 0% back to its original level of 55%.
  • Funding of the government is currently done via a temporary spending bill.  Congress will have to put in place a new spending bill for the year.  Should be a simple thing, right?  No.  Dems are refusing to accept a Repub proposal to hold spending at 2008 levels to reduce spending.

Other things that may come up include “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” (which needs to go), the DREAM Act (a little too soon and too controversial right now), and the Alternative Minimum Tax, which could hit a lot more people if nothing is done.

Flashback to 2008 and the Democratic Party wave

While reading an article from 2008 that discussed the victories of the Democrats during that election cycle,  one thing really jumped off the screen:

Nearly two-thirds of those polled after they cast their ballots called the economy the most important issue facing the country — the most single-minded electorate in two decades of exit polling.

So much of the country puts the economy as the number one priority. So what do the Dems do? Ram through a stimulus package that was inefficient and then spent months on health insurance reform. In other words, the recent loss shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. And its not so much that the American voters were fickle as it was that the American voters spoke–but the Dems didn’t listen.
From 2008, In congress, a Democratic Wave.

“Bush Screwed the Working and Middle Class.” How?

I was in a discussion where someone stated “Bush screwed the middle and working class.”  My reply was to ask exactly how he screwed them.  We then got into a discussion about corporations, tax breaks, and outsourcing.  But it really made me wonder:  do people know the difference between when something the government does puts them in a bad situation, vs when they themselves do it?  When they hear that a policy or program is bad, or doesn’t benefit them, do they actually do the research to find out why?  Or do they simply believe what they hear and don’t research for themselves?

Its apparent that many people don’t bother to find things out for themselves.  We are a nation of people who tend to enjoy being led around by the nose, trusting others to tell us what we need to know instead of finding out for ourselves.

In the end, I didn’t get an answer as to how Bush screwed the working and middle class.  I’m sure someone has an example.