Saturday, July 27, 2013

Obama on Keystone Pipeline

++For reasons that escape me, climate scientists have been engaging in a huge amount of data dumping the last few weeks. We have had the NASA climate change scenarios until the year 2100, where we all get fried. Climate scientists have released data that we should say adios to Portland, Maine, Boston, New York,and Miami with sea rises. We are already into an era of species extinction. I would just urge climate scientists to get a better bed side manner. Speaking as articulate scientists with measured tones,you get a sense of the direction of the disease but not its fatality. 

++The New York Times just printed an interview with President Obama on his views on the Keystone XL Pipeline. He rebuked Republicans saying the pipeline is a "jobs generator". He claimed there would be 2,000 jobs for the first year or two of its construction, then there would be 50-100 jobs afterwards. It was a "blip relative to need". He also disputed the idea it would lower gas prices. Instead, it would allow the Midwest to export its oil to the global market and would actually lead to an increase in gas prices. He said he would judge the pipeline on the issue of generating carbon pollution and if Canada would take measures to reduce carbon outputs. Meanwhile the Alberta tar sands are leaking thousands of gallons per day onto forest lands. 

++If President Obama doesn't approve the Keystone XL Pipeline, it would be the first project in the world that would be cancelled because of carbon emissions. That would be a big thing.

Oceans of Tomorrow

++President Obama used Carl Sandburg's term in his speech in Galesburg, Illinois to outline his economic vision for America. John Boehner said it was "an empty shell of a speech" while Rep. Issa said that no Presidential speech created a job. The Washington pundit belt slammed the President for the lack of new ideas. But E.J. Dionne said that like FDR and Reagan Obama was setting down the framework which would guide future Presidents and dominate the future. Writing in Salon, Michael Lind said it was the Speech that won the Economic Debate. Throughout the speech, the President slammed trickle-down economics and refuted the economic arguments made for the past thirty years. He called for a middle out economy to stabilize the ever-shrinking middle class.He also challenged the inequality that has been growing in American society after a generation. 

++We are at that stage of summer when President Obama's approval rating droops as always. He is down to 49% and oil rigs are again burning off Louisiana. Congress' approval rating is now below cockroaches, head lice and America going Communist. The House will be leaving next week for a five week vacation and 9 days scheduled in September.

++The President isn't taking August off. He has already hit the road for economic speeches in Jacksonville and next week will hit Tennessee. Most of his points we heard last year when he was campaigning for support of his Jobs Bill. In Jacksonville, he made his pitch for infrastructure spending. Currently, the Senate is grappling with the transportation and urban housing bill and a $100 billion is hung up since the House hasn't passed a budget for the past 100 days. The President made the point that all industrialized countries are investing far greater in improving their infrastructure than we are. The Society of Civil Engineers has released its report card on the U.S. and given the country a D+ in several categories. The GOP, which once boasted of infrastructure spending, has taken their ball and left the field.

++The transportation bill in the Senate has bipartisan support but the House is seeking a cut of 50% to Community Development Block grants, an idea they once supported. 

++While the President had a great week with his economic speech and his comments on the Trayvon Martin case,Eric Holder stepped up to the plate to challenge the voter restriction acts they have mushroomed since the Voting Rights Act was gutted. Holder is using the remaining articles to seek pre-clearance from Texas and other states.

++Since VRA was gutted, Florida has happily begun purging voter lists again,Pennsylvania is defending their ID law and North Carolina has passed the most restrictive voting laws in the country so much so that I was surprised they didn't just outlaw voting altogether. What this will mean is open to debate but polls in North Carolina show the people are overwhelmingly opposed to such restrictions.

++We know what the general outline of the Republican plan is with voter suppression but even Ross Douhat of the New York Times is beginning to believe that such measures will spark a backlash against the party without any great compensation for the effort. 

++Nancy Pelosi made a statement that the Democrats may win back the House. Tom Coburn believes that a fight over raising the debt ceiling because of demands for defunding Obamacare will trigger the loss of the House. Personally,I didn't believe the Republicans can lose the House until 2021, after the next census. However, Republicans have placed two more members on the endangered list, bringing the number up to 20. 

++But this can't be true because turnout will be lower in the mid-term,minorities will vote less and the elderly will vote overwhelming for the Republicans. Not so fast,Charlie Cook has been rummaging around on the polls about the GOP base and found that , while the Democrats have lost seniors since 2008,losing them be a whopping 59-38 in 2010,there seems to be a reverse trend now where Democrats are only 5% behind on seniors. He doesn't know why that is but maybe it is that seniors realize by now that  President Obama didn't cut their Medicare benefits and that the GOP are gunning for their pensions. 

++Eugene Robinson has hit the summer doldrum in a column in the Washington Post. Robinson believes nothing is going to happen with Congress on the budget or immigration reform because of gridlock or Republican tantrums and the President's approval will continue to decline because nothing is getting done.

++Rep. King ,who got the House to pass a resolution for the deportation of the DREAM KIDs, blasted them again this week as being a bunch of drug smugglers. While the House leadership had to criticize him for this,the House Republicans are between a rock and a hard place on immigration reform. If Boehner caved and let the Hastert Law go by the boards, the House would pass the Senate bill with Democratic votes. But then again, he would lose his job. Paul Ryan, trying to save the party from catastrophe, claims now that the House will vote for immigration reform in October. He promises there would be a path to citizenship. Evangelicals will be meeting this week with the Republicans to explain why the immigration system needs to be fixed.

++House Republicans have been given little educational packets for their recess to argue to their constituents they are fighting Washington. They are also holding town meetings on the Emergency in Healthcare, which I guess means you might get some. The Koch brothers are handing out Obamacare cards so that college students may burn them--of course, while their parents carry them on their health insurance. Fall is looking to be quite nasty for Congress.

++Christie's Auction house has arrived in Detroit to appraise the collection at the Detroit Art Museum. New York art collectors are horrified by the prospect of over 660,000 items being sold off because they claim it will destroy the global art market. 

++The privately owned Detroit Windsor tunnel has filed for bankruptcy. 

++The Detroit Emergency City Manager has floated a $400 million bond so the Red Wings will have a new arena.

++Pennsylvania under its free market governor has sunk to 46th place in job creation. The state's attorney general will not enforce the law against same sex marriage and the first five licenses were issued in a town north of Philadelphia.

++Federal judges have stopped the strict anti-abortion laws throughout the country on the basis that they are so restrictive as to prohibit access in the states. 

The Coming Republican Obamacare Train Wreck

++The most impressive cabinet member has to be HHS' Kathleen Sebelius. You have not seen her much the last five years but HHS has been moving ahead with the implementation of Obamacare. You won't know it with all the hoopla over the House repealing Obamacare. This week they will make their 40th attempt or going by Dana Milbank it would be the 68th attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

++If you already have health insurance, Obamacare has already been implemented. Free preventive care, colonscopies, mammograms, and the ability to carry your adult children on your health plan for five years. For me personally,ACA has saved and saved me over $20,000. But I worry about the uninsured and whether the various attempts by the Republicans will stop it.

++About a week ago, Senator Al Franken appeared on the Rachel Maddow Show to talk about his contribution to the bill--health insurance companies have to pay at least 80% to healthcare and only 20% can be used for overhead and profit. Franken was very mellow in the interview saying in his trips around Minnesota that the 60-year olds and above liked Obamacare because health insurance companies no longer can deny people for pre-existing conditions and Medicare recipients like free preventive care and the closing of the Donut hole. His body language showed no apprehension about its further implementation.

++This week brought more news about the state exchanges and that they are projecting far greater savings on health insurance premiums than HHS and the CBO had projected. Maryland released its numbers which --so far--make it the lowest in the nation. Previous test projects in Oregon showed that ACA will work to expand the coverage of the uninsured.

++But what happens in the Republican states that opted out of the exchanges? I had assumed this was a broad attempt to sabotage the whole program. This was an out left in the Supreme Court decision. The federal government will allow citizens in these states to acquire health insurance on their exchange. But won't that be too complicated?

++Romneycare in Massachusetts was sold state-wide through the use of sports teams. When the Obama administration sent inquiries out to sports leagues for participation in selling Obamacare, Republicans in the Senate wrote threatening letters to the sports leagues to get them to back off. The Obama Administration has signed on comedy internet outlets and Hollywood to sell the program. 

++As a reaction the Koch Brothers-funded front groups like Americans for Prosperity have started a campaign to urge young people not to have health insurance. Great idea, heh? 

++Indiana led by Republican Governor Pence released figures that showed rate increases but reporters sank themselves into the figures and found it was not true. 

++I wondered why Republicans are hysterical now in mid-2013 about Obamacare. It seems too early for the 2014 race. The reason is that October 1 is the date the state exchanges start working and when hospitals will sign up people for health insurance subsidized by Medicaid. If you are a young person and have an accident and injury and go to the emergency room, the hospital will automatically sign you up for pre-clearance for Medicaid and if you don't qualify they will pick up the cost of the emergency anyway. Tell me people will not take advantage of this. 

++So if people start liking what they see or hear, can those states who refused state exchanges and Medicaid opt in at any point. The answer is yes. 

++This morning Ezra Klein has a piece how entrepreneurs are taking advantage of Obamacare to break the insurance monopoly and create their own. And besides thousands of jobs will be created in the IT sector. 

++While people have observed the legal suits by the Catholic Bishops over contraceptives, we've all missed the negotiations with Catholic hospitals on their ad campaign for Obamacare. Democratic Underground ran one yesterday that makes it plain and simple, something I thought couldn't be done.

++Paul Krugman has a piece about the Republican panic over Obamacare. In short, the wiser of the group knows it will work and that once it is working people will like it. I, for one, believed it would only get half implemented because of GOP obstructionism but the Administration has been far cleverer than I believed. 

++An open fight has broken out in Washington among the GOP over Obamacare. Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and the Presidential wannabes are threatening not to raise the debt ceiling unless Obamacare is defunded. Tom Coburn, a fiscal conservative, says this is all bunk and hype and these guys should be ashamed of themselves. Senator Roy Blunt has also chimed in by saying defunding Obamacare is not an option. 

++AEI's Norm Ornstein wrote a blistering article for the National Journal basically calling GOP congress critters treasonous for trying to nullify and sabotage Obamacare. He wrote that it can not recall any other episode in American history where an opposition party willfully tried to ignore a law. Congessional offices have often refused to help constituents about how to access Obamacare. 

++All this is being played out for the October 1 deadline for the budget, the debt ceiling and the implementation of the healthcare exchanges. So we can be assured of more hysteria. But the way this is going , we should all thank Sec. Sebelius for keeping under the radar.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Hapless Harry Rides Again

**While President Obama stole the show with his remarks on the Trayvon Martin case, it was Harry Reid who won the week. Threatening his nuclear option to stop the GOP's filibustering of President Obama's nominees, he actually wangled his way to the confirmation of the head of the Consumer Protection Agency,the Environmental Protection Agency,and the Labor Department. More fights are on the way with the Labor Relations Board.

**Harry Reid also was the inadvertent hero in Mark Leibovich's "This Town" where he appears as the only normal person in Washington. If you don't live here,read the book. If you do, it will make you nauseated about how corrupt the D.C. culture is.

**John Kerry in a bit of shuttle diplomacy has brokered an agreement for Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and the creation of an independent Palestine. Since the news broke out, all sides are hedging their bets but their noises seem to be the normal ballet before the talks begin.

**Feisty Helen Thomas died at 92, spending nearly 40 years tormenting Presidents. Her most remembered barb was asking George W. Bush,"Mr. President, tell us why you really invaded Iraq?"

**John Boehner said the true measure of success for the House is how many bills they repealed and not how many passed. 0 to date. This Congress is the least productive since the mid-1940s,having sent only 15 bills for the President's signature. The country is safe, the House will be in recess all of August and only meet 9 says in September. Then we are supposed to face the dance on the debt ceiling, even though with the deficit declining by the most rapid pace in history the raising of the debt ceiling may be put off until next year.

**Liz Cheney is getting whomped in the first polls out of Wyoming. Senator Mike Enzi has a huge lead.

**But we may not know anymore about the state of elections with the great "Poblano",the king of 538blog,master baseball statistician,caller of the 2012 election, the one and only Nate "the Great" Silver leaving the New York Times to go to ESPN and ABC News. It's worse than when Steve Benen left Washington Monthly for the Rachel Maddow show. Ah, these careerists!

**This weekend was the first debate between the "Cooch" and "the Macker". The "Cooch" said gays were "soulless" and "destructive", while Terry McAulliffe said he favored same sex marriage and anti-discrimination laws protecting LBGT individuals and couples. The "Cooch" is still pushing the revival of the anti-sodomy laws in Virginia, which had been found unconstitutional. The new law would prohibit oral and anal sex among any couple of any sexual orientation as well as married couples. The good news is that it would outlaw bestiality. The "Cooch" is facing a big backlash by large corporate donors who hate his anti-abortion positions and social conservatism. They are switching sides and going with Best Friend of Bill Terry McAulliffe. The Macker only leads the Cooch by 4 points. 

**After surviving the threat of killer Tampons, the Texas Senate wants to double down and outlaw abortions after 6 weeks. Already with the 20 week law, several clinics have closed down. A federal judge has just stopped North Dakota's Fetal Heartbeat bill that limited abortion ton 6 weeks.

**During the last debate in Texas,the American College of Gynecologists finally after two years of restrictions across the nation came out blasting further diminution of reproductive rights because they claim politicians are interfering with the practice of medicine and actually endangering their patients' lives. What took them so long?

**The Weekly Standard wrote an article that sexual abuse in the military doesn't exist. Since it exists everywhere else, why doesn't it exist in the military?

**The Great City of Detroit has declared bankruptcy. But the judge may not let them do it because the creditors want public sector employees to lose their pensions. Rand Paul vows that President Obama will have to kill him before the administration bails out Detroit. Poor Paul Krugman had to put on his waiters again to walk through the sludge of the Right's arguments about why Detroit must go bankrupt. Well, if the United States isn't Greece, then at least we can make Detroit Greece. CEO Governor Snyder has other cities on his hit list including Pontiac. Stay tuned.

**President Obama will start the week with another series of talks about the economy.And they will not go anywhere because of Congress.

President Obama Unscripted

On a slow news day, President Obama made a surprise appearance at the White House press room and delivered unscripted remarks about the Trayvon Martin case and why the African-American community has been emotional about it. 

Only the day before Eugene Robinson wrote in the Post that the President wasn't the right one to talk about race given the guff he gets every attempt he's made from the Henry Gates incident on has provoked backlash. But sure enough, the man did it and succeeded.

President Obama's remarks about how he knows what it is to be followed in department stores and car locks clicking when he walks by triggered a flood of African-American males on television recalling similar incidents. The refrain was that each African American male has to sit down and tell his son the same things his father taught him about dealing with the police, how to to look threatening, how to be polite. 

Two most interesting responses, I thought, were Michael Steele, the former RNC Chairman, talking about being followed by cops in Rock Creek Park, and Jonathan Capehart, Post editorial writer and MSNBC contributor. How this is the sorry war story of African-American males was demonstrated by Eric Holder talking to the NAACP about "The Talk" he had to give his son and the audience just murmuring their agreement.

I found Capehart's story the saddest. Here is a young nerdy black guy with glasses who could not be perceived as threatening in the least. You would have to be a raving racist to think otherwise. He was moving because he was in the White House briefing room when President Obama made his remarks. He said his eyes filled with tears when the President talked about his own personal experience that he himself had shared.

Former presidential candidate John McCain complimented the President on his remarks, calling them "impressive" and picked up on his remarks on the "Stand Your Ground"Laws, which McCain said should be reviewed in all the states,including his own Arizona. While the major media were--by and large--complimentary like FOX News Wallace, others thought it was race-baiting and polarizing. Former George W. Bush press spokeswoman Dana Perino criticized Obama for not talking about black males shooting white babies. Sean Hannity blasted the President, suggesting he identified with Trayvon Martin's drug use. 

While some argued it was too late in the African-American communities, there was much relief that the President stood up for the anguish and anxiety the community felt over the not guilty verdict. During the weekend hundreds of cities held marches in solidarity with the Martin family and for justice in the case.And should be said that even after the verdict there was little violence except police riots in L.A. and Oakland.

I found the President's remarks refreshing and his call for a national conversation on the subject appropriate. While this case was especially fraught with racial overtones, the big elephant in the room seems to me the economic and social issues facing all young males in society, white, black and Hispanic. We are commemorating mass shootings in Aurora ,Tucson and Newtown carried out by white males, a Boston bombing carried out by another young male and a shooting in Sanford, Florida by a Hispanic cop wannabe. Homicides caused by guns since Newtown have far eclipsed the deaths in the entire Iraq war. Ladies and gentlemen, we not only have a gun problem but a Young Male Problem. 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Look On The Sunny Side Of Life*

*Monty Python--Life of Brian

* In the beating the dead horse department, the House repealed Obamacare for the 67th time. This fact is courtesy of Dana Milbank. Marco Rubio promises he will shut down the government unless Obamacare is totally defunded. In other news, New York state projects health insurance costs for the self-insured will drop 50% because of Obamacare. A pilot project of Obamacare has reduced Medicare costs significantly. Even if you live in states that didn't expand Medicaid to benefit poorer citizens, you will be able to get cheap health insurance.

*Richard Cordrey was finally confirmed as the new head of the Consumer Protection Agency after a nearly  two year wait. 

*The Senate finally agreed to temporarily solve the student loan crisis.

*Nelson Mandela is 95 today and apparently is recovering from his illness.

* Mariano Rivera wins his second All Star MVP and retires with a 0.00ERA in his all star appearances.

*AEI's Norm Ornstein floated an idea about a 21st century Voting Rights Act, which would expand the franchise and apply to the whole nation.

*The NRA accuses President Obama of using the Tayvon Martin case to make his case against gun violence.

*The NRA claims "Stand Your Ground" is a basic human right.

*A Florida woman--naturally black-- was sentenced to 20 years for shooting a ceiling to chase away her abusive husband.

*Elizabeth Warren submits a 21st century Glass-Steagall law to remove speculative investment from normal banking. She was joined by John McCain.

*Terry McAulliffe leads the Cooch in Virginia 43-39. The "Cooch" has doubled down on his attempt to reinstate the anti-sodomy laws, now claiming it is meant to protect children. 

*Voters in North Carolina oppose the latest anti-abortion laws and over 80% were against the way it was passed. Kay Hagen now enjoys double-digit leads for the U.S. Senate race.

*It's legal to carry concealed weapons into the state capital in Texas but not tampons and maxi pads because they may be thrown at legislators.

*Liz Cheney has announced her campaign to run for the Senate in Wyoming. Senator Enzi doesn't understand why and she says because he is 69 he is confused.

*The Prop 8 crowd lost another attempt to stop same sex marriages. 

*The United Kingdom approved same-sex marriages. Ireland approved a bill, allowing abortion in extreme circumstances.

*The House's immigration took the high road yesterday when one member argued Donkey DNA didn't mix with thoroughbred DNA to produce race horses. 

*Tom Marino, R-Pennsylvania, wants to sue President Obama for delaying the implementation of the individual mandate for Obamacare, saying it is unconstitutional.

*The House passed a farm bill and voted down Food Stamps, the first time this has ever happened in the history of food stamps. Ironically,over 50% of food stamps are received by non-Hispanic white. The % is even higher in Republican districts in the South, where sometimes it reaches 70%. 

*The Beltway pundits are skeptical that John "The Tan Man" Boehner can even get piecemeal immigration bills passed. The Club of Growth, Grover Norquist, the Chamber of Commerce, David Brooks are all saying if the GOP doesn't go along with this then it is political suicide. Yesterday Boehner and Eric Cantor claimed they were for some type of DREAM kids legislation. Even this is jeopardized because there is no motivation for any movement among the House GOP because of gerrymandering.

*Stevie Wonder says he is boycotting Florida until they repeal their "Stand Your Ground" law. He also said he would not play in any states where such a law exists.

*George Zimmerman's brother is off to Hollywood to try to launch an acting career. 

Saturday, July 13, 2013

George Zimmerman acquitted in the murder of Trayvon Martin

++In Sanford, Florida, the same place that ran Jackie Robinson out of town, the jury acquitted the murderer of Trayvon Martin, who was slain at sundown. Don't worry you will see George Zimmerman again he has a record and problems of impulse control. Tensions were high during the day as whites provoked the crowd standing out of the courthouse in support of the Martin family. It is another skeezy story from the South complete with a corrupt local police force.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Deeper into the Summer Doldrums

++Spent four glorious days in upstate New York where thanks to Nelson Rockefeller,Hugh Carey,Mario Cuomo, and Andrew there exists a modern infrastructure. Who knew there was an Irish Catskills? The Mike Quinn Irish Cultural Center? Remember Mike Quill, the old corrupt union leader. All I could think about was when can I move to the North again.

++So how is the Republican rebranding going? Rand Paul is up to his eyeballs in a controversy that his spokesman and co-author of his book is The Southern Avenger, a man who toasts John Wilkes Booth on his birthday, thinks Lincoln is a monster, and that writes that the South should have won the war. Mike Huckabee traipsed down to Texas to speak for the anti-abortion bill, calling abortion slavery. Rick "Frothy Mix" Santorum followed the day after but he admitted he was confused. Louie Gohmart moved to strike all the Democrats' complaints about the House Farm Bill lacking foodstamps from the record. Rick Lowry and Bill Kristol wrote in the National Review that the House must kill the immigration bill. Mitch McConnell was raising funds off his remark that if Harry Reid eliminated the filibuster he would have "He Killed the Senate on his tombstone". Marco Rubio will not say the term "Obamacare". The House will repeal Obamacare again next week--38 or 39th time if you are counting. The North Carolina legislature voted an anti-abortion law as part of its motorcycle safety law. The net effect it would close 15 out of 16 abortion clinics in the state. Ted Nugent wants to run for President in 2016. Rick Perry already is with his visit to Israel next month. The Alaskan chairman of the state GOP says he has never met Sarah Palin or heard anything from her about her desire to run for Senate. Reince Preibus says he is totally down on the Cooch campaign for government, despite stories that the governor and the Cooch are corrupt as hell.There is still no House budget after 100 days.

++Now if you are banking on winning with a greater percentage of the white vote, why would you go out of your way to insult 51% of the white vote--the women? And if you are banking on winning back lower-middle class white voters, why are you cutting off all food stamps for the first time in 50 years when the bulk of those using them are no longer minorities?And why would you schedule a vote in the House to privatize Medicare, especially when your core constituency is the elderly?

++Pundits point to demographics as the problem with the GOP. But why would you go out of your way to starve your base and kill them off? A new report released by the Department of Health shows "death by zip code". If you are a male living in Marin County, California, you leave to 85, 81 in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia and 67 in Franklin County , West Virginia. If you live in a blue state, you will live at least ten years longer than the male in a Red State. And if your base of support is in the Red States, your base dies off 10-15 years earlier and minorities overwhelm them earlier.  Red States have lower levels of education, lower levels of health, lower levels of income and higher percentage of children out of wedlock.  This goes for whites as well as minorities. So why then do you campaign against healthcare, women's reproductive rights,and economic progress? 

++While the Simpson-Bowles Catfood Commission recommended curtailing Social Security and Medicare and gutting the social welfare net because of the deficit, the United States just posted its largest budget surplus in its history. Will someone apologize to Paul Krugman who saw this all along?

++Quinnipiac has a poll that dispels the myth that President Obama is just not a good politician and can't get anything done. 51% believe gridlock is caused by GOP obstructionism, and only 35% believe it is because Obama can't persuade Congress to come together. 

++On Immigration, no matter how you cut it, the majority of Americans and a large plurality of Republicans believe there should be a road to citizenship or at least immigrants should have the right to stay here. Only 28% of the overall sample and Republicans believe immigrants should leave the country.  Watch this space because immigration is eventually going to get done--probably late in the year.

++ENDA, the bill to end discrimination against gays in the workplace, passed out of committee 15 to 7, with two Republicans. It is close to a majority in the Senate.

++The rash of anti-Obamacare ads are not really aimed at the healthcare bill per se but the expansion of Medicaid in Republican states. The scare tactics in the ad with the young mother are just that--none of the claims are true but the deeper goal is aimed at depriving the very poor of healthcare. 

++Democrats are giddy over the Looney-Tune quality of the Republican positions now. But dreams of taking the House are far-fetched because the gerrymandered districts show Republicans in districts with only about 15% total minorities. So there exists no incentive for the House Republicans to do anything--at all about anything.

++Louie Gohmart has introduced at the behest of Focus on Your Family, Not Mine, a bill sponsoring proselytizing by evangelical Christians in the military. He claims Obama is biased against Christians.

++The Republican Attorney-General of Pennsylvania will not defend the state's anti-gay marriage law. 

++The fight over filibuster reform is getting dire because the GOP does not want to fill spaces on legally constituted bodies like the National Labor Relations Board. The net effect when 3 conservative judges ruled Obama's recess appointments unconstitutional is that no labor law in the country can be enforced. This is also true for the EPA,and the Consumer Protection Agency, two other bodies the GOP hate. So the issue becomes can one political party in the minority actually gut the government because they don't like the legally created bodies? In the case of the 2nd Circuit Court, Senator Grassley accuses Obama of wanting to "stack"the court when all he is doing is filling the vacancies. Unless Mitch McConnell gives on this issue, watch for a showdown soon. It is basic politics that the winning Presidential candidate gets to nominate the persons of his or her choice as long as they are qualified.

++In mulling over current GOP strategy, I don't see how the GOP deals with Hillary Clinton, except to dredge up old Clinton scandals that no one remembers and in fact if they do, consider her a victim. She is a woman, who was the First Lady of a Slave State--Arkansas. So how does that work if you are depending on the white South?

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Back to the Summer Doldrums

++How bitter will the next few years be? Maybe it is just the humidity but already the nuts are beginning to surface again.

++The House is developing a menu to present President Obama in order for them to raise the debt limit. President Obama said this time he was not negotiating it. Observers expect it to reach climax by December recess. One of the options is to "privatize social security", which would only increase the debt but never mind. 

++The House says they will have a conference July 10th on their immigration bill. Whether it includes a "path to citizenship" is anyone's guess.

++If you believe CNN, Republicans are demanding something be done about student loans. Last I looked it was Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat, who was spearheading the charge to cut interest rates on them.

++Sam Adams Lager had a 4th of July ad that quotes the Declaration of Independence but omitted the word "God".  A Fox news commentator said that was "letting the terrorists win."

++The Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity are running ads in Georgia warning the state about the dangers of solar energy and that their rates will skyrocket if state power plants use solar.

++The same Americans for Prosperity have cut ads aimed a younger women warning them about Obamacare.

++Republicans are attacking Obamacare again because the employer mandate has been delayed a year. Now they are arguing this is illegal while others are proclaiming this is Doom and Gloom for the health insurance industry like they did when it was passed the first time.

++Rick Perry is using his anti-abortion stunt in Texas as a launchpad for his 2016 run for the Presidency.

++Scott Walker, who also has higher aspirations, quietly signed his ultrasound anti-abortion bill into law. The ACLU and Planned Parenthood are suing.

++In Michigan, New Jersey and Alabama, same sex couples are suing for the right to marry.

++Mississippi is attempting again to pass a strict anti-abortion law after the success of Ohio, Wisconsin and Texas.

++House Republicans sort of admit that there is no there in the IRS "scandal case". What's worse there smoking gun was the director of the IRS visited the Whit House over 150 times to see President Obama. Forbes rained on their parade in an article that no he never went there.

++House Republicans think they have found the person who can expose the Benghazi scandal. The only problem is that the man is a retired Marine and wants nothing to do with them.

++The Russians think it would be best for Edward Snowden to go to Venezuela for asylum. No one seems to be making the point that Booz-Hamilton, his employer is owned by the Caryle Group, which is now owned by foreigners.

++The Obama scandals all seem to have Republicans as major players. The Scandal to me is the NSA and the Fisa Court. So the head of the NSA is a Republican and the head of the FISA Court is none other than John Roberts. As the New York Times piece indicated this morning, Roberts appoints all 11 judges and they have vastly expanded national security law,which is of course totally secret. The NSA has rejected all FOIA requests by American citizens and the DOJ has just urged the FISA court to keep their decisions secret, contrary to some in the Senate.

++A Mexican sheriff was killed over the weekend with a gun from the Fast and Furious program. This should give Darryl Issa something to play with now that his scandals keep shrinking.

++Liz Cheney wants to be Senator from Wyoming. The only problem is that Republican Mike Enzi doesn't want to retire. Allan Simpson says this will get ugly.

++Only a year ago Mohammed Morsi won the first election in Egypt's modern history. A year later the largest demonstrations in modern history led to his removal by the military. The Saudis applauded Morsi's removal as a sign that authoritarianism would return to the Middle East. The Wall Street Journal urged that Egypt should have a leader like Pinochet. Great. Now The Moslem Brotherhood is waging counter-protests. El Baradei was going to be the Prime Minister, now he's not and he cancelled his appearance on the Sunday talk shows. It looks like the military can't run things any better than Morsi.

++John Kerry was on a yacht during the Egyptian crisis or not. A video shows he was, giving the right new fuel for a Benghazi-type scandal.

++Syria's Assad applauded Morsi's overthrow. The Free Syria Army are waging a war against the Islamists as if that struggle was over and now they are gearing up to take power.

++While Republicans are figuring out ways to suppress the vote in 2014, Hispanics are registering at high rates in reaction to Republican opposition to immigration reform.

++A Fayetteville ,North Carolina man had a July 4th float in a parade celebrating White History Month. I didn't know whether the negative reaction was because of his racism or that his float had a confederate flag. 

++Ted Nugent wants to run for President in 2016. I think he would be older than Hillary Clinton.

++Environmentalists warn that the new border security provisions in the immigration law will jeopardize several animal species because they migrate back and forth between the United States and Mexico.

++Oh, by the way, Mariano Rivera made the all-star team in this, his last season.

++The right is circulating a video about a new Civil War where Texas would be the first to secede. The theme is that the confederacy is born again. Strange that your ideal is the confederacy. In Iain Bank's last novel "The Quarry", one of his characters makes the sage comment that libertarianism is the new Marxism for political ideology. I think we are seeing that fused in the United States where after the minorities are suppressed,the whites will have a libertarian paradise. 

++With Mohammed Morsi gone, does that make North Carolina's law against Sharia moot?

++What would be our unemployment rate if we had the 1 million government employees back?

Saturday, July 6, 2013

To Counter the Summer Doldrums

** Bryce Harper of The Washington Nationals won an All-Star starting berth, making him the youngest All-Star since Ken Griffey,Jr.

**The Dalai Lama celebrates his 78th birthday today.For a great read about the 14th Dalai Lama, I can't recommend Pico Iyer's "The Open Road" enough.

**Veteran guitarist Michael Mattice released his first solo album this past month. Mike of the famous Virginia band "Shapes Not Sounds" goes acoustic in "Comin' Home", which is available on Amazon's MP3 store. Check out his Youtube videos to see Mike the magical shredding in his electric incarnations. Congratulations, Mike.

**The Drummer for "Shapes Not Sounds" released his first solo album of experimental percussion. Ian G. McColm cut "Virgin Skins" for Pidgin Records out of Frenchtown, New Jersey.  Ian has another album coming out next month whose production was funded by Kickstarter and recorded on Sly Stone's old soundboard in Michigan. I first heard Ian G. McColm's experimental compositions as the soundtrack for Man Ray's surrealistic film "Starfish". Now we need a "Shapes Not Sounds" reunion CD.

++Contrary to the negative press and reviews, Johnny Depp is back with a terrific performance as Tonto in the Lone Ranger. It is a Lone Ranger for somewhat grown ups. I saw it with only three other people in the audience.

++Pope Francis paved the way for John Paul II and John Paul XXIII becoming saints. But he muffed it with a treatise co-authored by Pope Benedict against same sex marriage.

++Andrew Sullivan celebrated July 4th by reproducing the best national anthems. My picks are Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock, Marvin Gaye at the 1984 Lakers Playoff game, and Lady Gaga at the recent Gay Pride Day in New York.

++KGB agent Ann Chapman proposed marriage to Edward Snowden who is still sequestered at the Moscow airport. Venezuela, Bolivia,and Nicaragua  have offered asylum and Iceland's parliament rejected an offer of citizenship.

++The economy saw 195,000 jobs created last month. Although everyone saw this exceeding expectations,many pundits proclaimed that it meant trouble for Obama, Obamacare and the Democrats. If you added the 5,000 government jobs lost, it would have been 200,000--about as good as it gets.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Female Trouble--To John Waters

++As of last night,in 2013 alone there have been 625 bills around the country to regulate women's bodies. There have been none for men's bodies, although a women legislator in Ohio wanted to introduce a law that before a man could get viagra, he would have to have a stress test, a medical exam, and a note from his partner he was impotent. 

++Last night North Carolina remains committed to destroying all gains it has made in the last twenty years by slipping an anti-abortion law onto a bill outlawing Sharia Law. This is another one of the pro-life stunts--imposing onerous license requirements for doctors and bizarre architectural mandates on clinics. Between Virginia and North Carolina, it seems anti-abortion people want to stimulate the construction trade.

++Surrounded by all men, John Kasich of Ohio signed his budget into law, including another strict anti-abortion law. The whole purpose is to lay the groundwork for a presidential run. A rape counseling law makes it illegal for a victim to be informed about choices including abortion.

++Another Governor checking his anti-choice credentials is Rick Perry in Texas as the special session of their Senate has been convened for the sole purpose of restricting access to abortion rights.

++Trying to protect himself from the fallout of his support for immigration reform, Senator Rubio will introduce into the Senate a draconian anti-abortion bill.

++Nate "The Great" Silver says polling on abortion bills is tricky. Huge majorities of the public believe abortion should be legal for the first trimester, a significant drop-off occurs for the second trimester, and a further erosion of support for the third trimester. Only 1.5% of abortions, according to the Guttmacher Institute, occur in the second trimester. But the second trimester extends beyond the current state 20-week limits. 

**The ultimate aim of these states are to make it physically impossible for women to get abortions within state limits. The dramatic shrinkage of clinics in Texas after the new law wipes out the viability of those clinics in west and central Texas. 

**Andrew Sullivan argues the Catholic Church should be tolerant of same-sex marriage since it lives in a society of divorce, which is the only thing Jesus prohibited. I would argue like George Carlin that they should support same-sex marriage because gays and lesbians have the lowest incidence of abortion in the country. Natural allies, no?

** Women's reproductive health is going to be under even greater threat as we move toward the 2014 elections. The next issue up will be the availability of contraceptives for unmarried people. The American Taliban knows no limits.