Saturday, August 31, 2013

Last of August Mayhem

++Despite pundits claiming that Kerry and Hagel are pissed at President Obama for taking it to Congress,they report they're delighted. Liberal organizations who oppose intervention in Syria applauded the President for his daring in going to the Hill. The GOP leadership seems split on the issue.

++But I digress, the world lost a great man of literature this week with the passing of Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney at the age of 71.

++The White House dinners of Republicans and Democrats to has out budget differences ended this week and there appears no likelihood they will convene in the future.

++John Boehner says there are no budget deals. The Speaker will face a contentious Syria vote,a budget vote and a debt ceiling vote when he returns. 

++Rand Paul says Boehner will be ousted if he accepts any immigration reform that will resemble the Senate's bill in the least. Teabag resistance to immigration reform didn't explode like people anticipated but yesterday they heckled Marco Rubio.

++Over 100,000 attended the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. In my opinion, President Obama made an effective, but not electrifying speech on the agenda that remains uncompleted. He had the cadences at point but downplayed so no one would compare his oratory with Martin Luther King. Naturally, everyone criticized him for his speech, which was marred by a poor sound system. Presidents Clinton and Carter also spoke. 

++After a powerful ceremony, the biggest whiners were Republicans who claimed they had not be invited. Of course, five weeks before the event, every Republican Congressman and woman was invited, the leadership was invited to speak. But the GOP complained that the African-American Senator from South Carolina, Tim Scott, had not been invited to speak. Of course, it was untrue. Boehner was at fundraisers and Eric Cantor was in North Dakota at the behest of the oil lobby. Republicans did have a luncheon to commemorate the event with Jack Kemp's son,and minority representation. 

++Teabagger candidate for New Jersey Senator,"Blind Steve" Lonegan decided to attack Cory Booker as gay. 

++Pat Robertson said that gays spread AIDS by cutting people with special rings.

++Liz Cheney said she was against same sex marriage in response to an incoherent attack by Mike Enzi who suggested she was for pedophiles. Her system Mary, who is married to her long-term partner, said Liz was nuts.

++The two largest counties in New Mexico have decided to marry same sex couples because that state's law is so unclear that it does not prohibit it. GOP lawmakers are up in arms are trying to intervene to stop it.

++Ruth Bader Ginzberg will be the first Supreme Court judge to perform a same sex marriage.

++The IRS said it will recognize all same sex couples in any state whether marriage is prohibited or not.

++The Veterans Administration was ordered by the court to give benefits to same sex couples.

++The federal government has ordered the extension of Medicare to same sex couples.

++Eric Holder ordered the DOJ to recognize or tolerate the legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington State. Earlier he had ordered a review of sentencing guidelines for drug convictions.

++America's congressman Louie Gohmert appeared as guest host for the Focus on Your Family,not Mine Radio Show with former Teabag congressman West. Louie told the audience that global climate  change was a hoax promoted by Bill Gates to promote population control. This agenda included getting people to vaccinate their children so the population could be "culled".

++I guess the Ross Perot Foundation heard that and donated $1 million to Planned Parenthood in Texas.

++One benefit of global climate change has been the discovery of a canyon in Greenland that is longer and deeper than the Grand Canyon. The canyon had never been seen in all of human existence until the glacier sheet over Greenland melted.

++The Snowden leaks produced the first public disclosure of the Intelligence community's black budget. The AmazonPost printed the story. Frankly, I thought it was larger than that.
Among the revelations is that ,despite this huge amount of money, key areas of strategic concern are simply unknown. Another revelation is that we have been in an intense state of cyberwarfare.

++There were a lot of revelations about the whole Snowden event this week. Next week, I'll try to examine them.

First Reactions to Obama's Call For Congressional Vote

++The National Security Council advised President Obama not to ask for a vote. The White House said after the speech that Obama may go it alone even if the Congress votes against a resolution. This was a reply to the sole unanswered question yelled at the President after his statement.

++New York Republican Peter King said that President Obama abdicated his responsibility by asking for a vote. 

++John McCain and Lindsey Graham issued a joint statement that they would vote against a resolution unless President Obama made a larger military commitment and included regime change in his agenda. 

++Senator Mitch McConnell said that the Presidency would only be strengthened by President Obama request for a vote.

++David Koch said the United States must avoid Syria because it would be drag into a mess.

++Former UN Ambassador John Bolton said President Obama made a mistake and should have gone ahead anyway.

++NewsMax crows that President Obama caved to Republican demands for a vote.

++Rand Paul is against any intervention in Syria because Christians might be killed.

++Sarah Palin jokingly said, "Let Allah sort it out."

++Senator Inhof is against the operation until such time that Obama can explain how he is going to pay for it and the broader policy toward the Middle East.

++Steven Cook at the Council of Foreign Relations writes in the Post that he is now against intervention because it would likely destroy what remains of the country.

++Ezra Klein in the Post's Wonkblog writes how the bombing could kill more civilians than save and trigger another humanitarian disaster.

++Samuel Knight wrote a lengthy post for Washington Monthly on the disgusting horse trading that will begin. He says President Obama lacks all credibility,that his arguments were unbelievable. He cites why this is not an answer to the humanitarian disaster and since Syria has been at war for two years that there is no urgency. He points to Kurdish children being decapitated by The Nursra Front and that didn't provoke any intervention. He also wishes people would consult the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an independent human rights group, that the plurality of killings have been done to the opposition. 

++Josh Rogin reports that the Syrian opposition is still waiting for weapons and it was frustrated by the announcement, which would delay further actions until a vote. 

++Leftwing blogs joke about Boehner making defending Obamacare as a condition for the vote or Eric Cantor wanting a restoration of the Bush tax cuts.

Obama's Masterful Speech--The Guns of August

++When news that the Assad regime used chemical weapons on its population, the UK, France, Germany,Turkey,the Arab League and the United States said they should be punished. By today, it was down to France, the old colonial master of Syria,Canada and the United States. Prime Minister Cameron lost the parliamentary vote to use military force, the first such loss by a British Prime Minister since 1782. And Russian Prime Minister Putin thought the charge was ridiculous.

++President Obama spent the week giving informal interviews on the issue of Syria, with a specific reference on his concerns about proliferation and the challenge the use of such weapons placed on an international community, which has banned the use of such weapons after WWII. 

++John Kerry made one statement about the use of these weapons and then yesterday made a speech outlining the specific intelligence that enabled the United States to make its conclusions. The intelligence was ranked "High Confidence", which is one step below "Certain". The assessment was that communications intercepts located the specific instructions and preparations to use the weapons and the specific units commanded to carry the operation out.

++During the last few days, it was clear from the reactions from the Left and the Right that the ghosts of W and Cheney hang over the whole enterprise. Those who are against intervention question the information about chemical weapons, likening Kerry speech to Colin Powell's speech on WMD's to the United Nations. Powell's Chief of Staff, Col. Larry Wilkinson said, "It was deja vu all of again". 

++The difference in my opinion is that with Iraq we were talking about hypothetical WMDs, which never materialized, and here we are talking about the actual use of WMDS with vivid, graphic use of videos of adults and children dying.

++During the last two days, both President Obama and Senator Kerry briefed scores of congressmen in the Senate and the House. Nancy Pelosi and Dianne Feinstein came out for actions against Assad as did Senator Franken. One thought that was it. The President did his due diligence, briefed Congress, now he could make his decision and presumably act unilaterally. But House Republicans with 20 Democrats sent the President a letter demanding congress authorize military force, a situation that didn't occur under the prior administration.

++Comments, blogs and the punditocracy commented that Obama got himself in trouble previously by saying chemical weapons were a redline,the military was skeptical about the effectiveness of any action and progressives warned Obama about his campaign promises of changing a page for the the United States in the Middle East. 

++Everyone used their favorite analogies. Is this the beginning of World War I again, the first steps in a regional conflagration? Is this Kossovo or Iraq? The major points of agreement were that Syria was now a failed state torn apart by ethnic and sectarian strife and that any American intervention would make it worse, bring in Iranians and encourage attacks on neighboring countries. The week's discussions were about the various forms of Armaggedon about to occur.

++So today was the day. President Obama addressed the press corps. He had made his decision. He would authorize military strike of a limited nature and time frame. There would be no invasion. There would be no boots on the ground. Yesterday he had said the actions would not be aimed at "regime change". Today, he asserted he had the President right to embark on the decision even if the United Nations Security Council did approve.  He said the U.S. military was in position and that actions were not time specific. They could take place in days, weeks or  months. 

++He admitted the American public was war weary. He said the United States remained committed to the Syrian opposition, the refugees and to a government of reconciliation. He said he would take his message to the American public.

++President Obama said that these issues were too big for business as usual. He argued that we spent the years after WWII creating international norms to govern states' behavior and that the Syrian situation was a challenge to the United States and the international community. He said that not doing anything would have consequences and that people advocating this should be aware of the message to countries who aim to create nuclear weapons and proliferate biological warfare. He said he would be urging our international partners to politically stand behind us.

++He ended his statement by saying that this is not a partisan issue or who is in the White House. He urged Congress to vote on whether the United States would meet its commitments. He said it was time for Congress to take ownership of how America acts overseas.

++ The immediate aftermath was that Harry Reid wanted to call the Senate back into session and end their recess immediately to debate and vote on the measure. John Boehner issued a statement by the House Republicans that they would get around to it September 9th when recess ends.

++The blogosphere immediately applauded President Obama adroitly putting this on the back of Congress and ,depending on your politics, saying he basically wants it to fail. Personally, I don't agree. 

++The one very interesting effect this challenge to Congress will have is to trigger open warfare within the GOP between the isolationists and the internationalists. And it will be interesting to see whether the GOP wants to extract concessions from the President to even hold a vote. The repercussions for the GOP will be very serious.

++Finally, whether you are for intervening or not, there should be agreement that the United States must step up the humanitarian efforts for the Syrian refugees, now numbering over 1.5 million spread over Turkey,Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Week That Was

**President Obama held a national security meeting on the issue of Syria. Chuck Hagel announced that American forces were en route to Syria. British newspapers reported that President Obama had talked to UK Prime Minister Cameron about aerial attacks on Syria. Syria has rapidly turned around saying that the UN could investigate the use of chemical weapons. The US said that it was too late because Syria's shelling of the territory contaminated the evidence. Congressional leaders from both parties urged "surgical strikes" against the Syrian regime. It was reported this week that there were over 1 million child refugees fleeing Syria.

**Al Qaeda declared war on Hezbollah for this week's bombing in Tripoli. Egypt has expanded its definition of Islamists to go beyond the Moslem Brotherhood to round up others opposed to the military government. The Egyptian government released Hosni Mubarack to house arrest, while rounding up leaders of the Moslem Brotherhood.

**Jack Kelly of the Pittsburgh-Gazette reported that the Americans killed at Benghazi were on a secret mission to buy back surface to air missiles from Al Qaeda when they were attacked. 

**Russia, Iran and Syria have warned the US not to engage in military strikes in Syria because it will ignite a regional war. Both Russia and Iran have steadfastly supported the Syrian regime of Assad. Syria contains the only port facility for Russia outside its country.

**This past week saw the DOJ call for amnesty for Bush, Cheney, Wolfowitz,Rice, Rumsfeld in a court case brought before a San Francisco Circuit Court by a Jordanian women on the Iraq War.

++Naturally, after such a move, Dick Cheney attacked President Obama on national security and voiced support of the NSA spying programs.

++Meanwhile, President Obama concluded his tour of New York State and Pennsylvania where he was met by enthusiastic crowds. He outlined his view of reducing student debt and challenged the Congressional Republicans to "defund" Obamacare.

++Republican town halls were a fizzle since there was pushback on Obamacare and little concern about immigration reform. John Boehner said that he was looking for an interim funding agreement to keep the government open past September 30 and Ricky Cantor said that Republicans would look at the debt ceiling debate as a way to have leverage on "defunding Obamacare". Democrats looked at the January session of Congress as an opportunity to end the Sequester. Because of procedural matters,January  begins $100 billion in Defense cuts, which Republicans say they opposed, even though they were the ones who agreed to them.

++Eric Holder initiated a lawsuit against Texas for their new Voting Law and vowed it was the first of many to come. Kudos to Rachel Maddow for covering the deplorable situation in North Carolina by broadcasting live from the Tarheel state.

++The commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington brought to DC over 100,000 people who heard John Lewis reprise his role from the first March to attack the Supreme Court on the Voting Rights Act and vowing to fight further attempts at voter suppression. 

++The end of August brought forth more craziness. Republicans seemed to have abandoned any pretense at reason suggesting now that President Obama should just be impeached since we have no other thing to offer. Maureen Dowd in today's New York Time highlights the delicious lunacy of the GOP in advocating this on the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.

++Ed Filner resigned as mayor of San Diego after the 19th women complained about sexual harassment. His former Republican rival, who still dreams of being Mayor, seems to share some of Filner's problems. He was caught masturbating in public in a men's room.

++Other crazy items. President Obama may have a cute new Portuguese water-dog but he has no white dogs and the new waterdog is actually called Sunni.World Nut Daily says that Obama's step-brother manages investments for the Moslem Brotherhood and received a non-profit designation from the IRS signed by Mrs. Lerner, the focus of Darryl Issa's investigations. While various religious fundamentalists have called for armed struggle against the American government,the Sovereign Citizens movement was busted in Las Vegas for plotting to kill police officers. If you didn't know, an argument against same sex marriage is that Lesbians will force Gay Males to have their children and enslave them. I don't know whether they will enslave the gay males or the children.

++The House Republicans have scheduled a full-blown hearing on Climate Change when they get back. They have subpoenaed all the agencies involved in implementing the climate change policies of President Obama. Expect a lot of attacks on climate change as a hoax. One of the GOP congressman claims that only radical environmentalists receive grants to study the subject.

++Pvt. Manning wants to be known as Chelsea. This sparked off a whole debate on transsexuals. Manning's lawyer says he will sue for hormone treatment and sex change procedures. The military says they have never done such things in the past. 

++The New York Times has finally teamed up with the Guardian to print Snowden's NSA documents. Glenn Greenwall promises more revelations. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

It is Suzuki's Night--Congratulations!

With half the game left between the Toronto Blue Jays and the New York Yankees, Ichiro Suzuki has hit his 4,000th career hit. Bravo!

Is This Ichiro Suzuki's Night?

**Ichiro Suzuki, now a Yankee outfielder after years with the Seattle Mariners, has 3,999 hits in his combined major league career of Japan and the United States. Only Ty Cobb and Pete Rose stand above him at the 4,000 hit mark. Or if you want to get fancy, add Stan Musial and Hank Aaron, who hit the 4,000 mark combining their major and minor league records. 

**Suzuki had a 10-year streak of 200plus hits,10 All Star nominations and a .320 career batting average. He now has 2,721 hits in his American career. He plans on playing two more years now that he is 39. He claims no one will debate his record once he hits 3,000 hits.

**But tonight could be the night Suzuki reaches the amazing 4,000 hit mark.

They're Going to Take Me Away, Ho, Ho to the Funnyfarm

**29% of voters in Louisiana believe President Obama is responsible for the slow response to Katrina. 28% believe it was George W. Bush's fault.

**Terrible Terry McAuliffe has a six point lead over truly horrible Cooch in Virginia Governor's race.

**Rick Perry has asked the federal government for $100 million of Obamacare money to provide for the disabled and elderly. 

**It will Ted Cruz eight months to process his renunciation of his Canadian citizenship. No one knows whether he has to renounce a Cuban citizenship as well.

**Pvt. Manning was sentenced to 35 years today. His lawyer has asked for twenty five and the prosecutors asked for 75. Manning will be eligible for parole in eight years. I'm surprised that his defense never invoked his exposure of war crimes as a defense.

**Obama's ratings fell this month because of the NSA issue among the younger voters. August has been his worth month every year. But the Republicans are below the floor and congress sports a 10% approval rating. Observers say they may experience a dead cat bounce in the mid-terms but are falling apart as a party.

**Governor Le Page of Maine claims he did not say Obama hated white people despite Republican fundraisers saying he did. Le Page,Florida's Scott,Ohio's Kasich now face serious re-election difficulties next time around.

**Bill Kristol insists Sarah Palin could get her mojo back if she ran for Senate in Alaska. Teabagger Millers claims this time he will run against the Surveillance state. Begich looks solid in his re-election run.

**Bobby Jindal has the worst ratings of any GOP governor. Now it looks like Mary Landrieu is off to a good re-election campaign. She is ahead of her GOP counterpart by 10 points.

**Over 50% of young people in GOP families have signed on to health insurance under their family's policies as approved by Obamacare. Only 26% of Democratis kids have. So much for the tea bagger campaign for young people not to have health insurance. 

**Ted Cruz thinks shutting down the government to defund Obamacare may not be a good idea after all. Instead, he wants to do it with the debt ceiling.

**Bryan Ferry of the American Family group urges civil disobedience over congressional types not holding Townhall meetings.

**Glenn Greenwald is still pounding out the words of the Guardian case and his husband being detained at Heathrow.

**The FBI claims that have busted up Anonymous but concentrating on a splinter group within the hackers movement.

**Howard Dean told audiences in Iowa he favors Hillary Clinton at this point of time.

**The Right claims that President Obama doesn't have any white dogs and that his new one is really named Sunni.

**As we should have expected, women are crossing state borders for abortions as restrictions have been implemented in Red States.

**The GOP in North Carolina may be rigging the vote but there is good news from Winston-Salem. The GOP candidate had to pull out for calling city workers the "N" word. So the winner of the Democratic primary becomes mayor.

**The GOP co-chairman for the Iowa district of Steven King,the Cantaloupe Man, has resigned from the Republican party because it was gone too far right for his taste. Watch this space for more defections ,especially after the House comes back in session.

**Here are some things to think about--Mohammed Morsi is in prison,Mubarack is free. The Obama administration asked a federal court in San Francisco to give amnesty to Bush, Cheney,Rumsfeld and Condi Rice for war crimes in Iraq, while jailing PVT Manning for exposing those crimes.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Little Engine That Could--Obamacare

++It is an axiom that Obamacare will succeed in states which wanted to cooperate and fail in states that refused to implement it. Even that may be too pessimistic. Today, it looks like some Red States are moving toward the expansion of Medicaid for poorer citizens. The Virginia legislature, Ohio and Michigan look like they are moving on this. One half of the Pennsylvania legislature approved but it is now stalled because they are in recess. New Hampshire may soon implement the Medicaid expansion. 

++HHS estimates there are 11 million Hispanics who qualify for Medicaid or the health insurance exchanges. HHS has already gotten out the information how Obamacare helps Medicare patients. It's clear from recent polls of seniors that they haven't fallen for the GOP's campaign on Medicare cuts. Seniors led to the GOP tsunami in 2010 have now moved toward the Democrats in significant numbers.

++The great campaign to get the uninsured not to sign up for health insurance seems to be heading to a flop. According to a USA Today poll of 19 states with health insurance exchanges, the states report that 8.5 million will sign up. 5.3 million of whom reside in California. HHS did a survey of all 50 states concluded that 7 million would sign up. Apparently it is an underestimate. The states report that the vast majority of people signing up are not sick, which was a concern for those trying to game whether premiums would rise or fall.

++Since the exchanges are being set up October 1 for enrollment until March 2014,the issue of Obamacare may not surface as a potent issue in the 2014 elections. 

August is for the Insane Asylum

++Detroit's favorite son, novelist Elmore Leonard died this morning at the age of 87. He had a stroke while working on another novel. Thanks for dozens of good reads!

++Mariano Rivera overcame blowing three straight saves, something he never has done in his career, and saved one against the Bosox, while A-Rod blasted a homer. 

++Meanwhile, catch those Dodgers. 

++I was at an empty Russell Building a few days ago, reminding myself we are all safe when Congress in not in session. I remain skeptical that Congress can reach a budget agreement before September 30. Conventional wisdom has a continuing resolution and a whale of a fight over the next phase of sequestration in January. Mitch McConnell says he's saving the real battles for the debt ceiling clash.

++Teabag town halls are not going the way the GOP thought. Republican representatives have been challenged about their lies about Obamacare. Meanwhile, the immigration reform blowback has not materialized.

++Jim DeMint and his Heritage Action has targeted six states for the remained of the month to mobilize reaction to Obamacare. While on vacation, President Obama in his Saturday address said that efforts to defund Obamacare are not a game and he vowed to implement the bill as efficiently as possible. George Will claimed that Obama is as bad as Nixon in postponing the implementation of the individual mandate since that was law. Unfortunately for Will, the Supreme Court twice ruled that the executive has the power to decide when to implement a law because it is more aware of the concrete circumstances and problems involved in such a maneuver.

++Jim DeMint said today he didn't know whether President Obama would sign a bill that would defund Obamacare. Then again no one can explain how you defund Obamacare because it is mandatory spending.
This simple fact has not stopped the Teaparty from mounting primary challenges to Mitch McConnell,Lamar Alexander and Lindsey Graham.

++Maine's Teabagger Governor LePage said that Obama hates white people. LePage yesterday faced half the Maine Republicans in the legislature resigning from the party because he dared raise taxes in his budget.

++Ted "Calgary" Cruz released his short form birth certificate that showed he was born in Canada to an American mother. When it was brought to his attention that he was a Canadian citizen by law,he said he would renounce his Canadian citizenship.

++Conservatives are jubilant that there exists another fabricated study that showed the "Invinciables", younger voters with no health insurance, could save $1,000 a year by not signing up for Obamacare. Of course, they didn't figure on costs if these younger people actually got sick. Freedomworks, Americans for Prosperity continue their campaign to get younger people to to enroll in health insurance exchanges because they would sabotage the cost-savings of the program.

++There is another fierce fight among the Right. Diana West wrote a new book that suggests that American politics was occupied by the Soviet Union under FDR. She points the figure at Harry Hopkins as a Soviet agent. The counter-attack was blistering. Conrad Black, a conservative who wrote a biography of FDR, called her worse than Oliver Stone, and Ron Radosh dissected her claims with the existing scholarship on the subject. Interestingly, a younger generation of college professors who do not know the primary literature thought she did a splendid job.

++The weekend brought more drama from Glenn Greenwald. Glenn's husband,a Brazilian man named Miranda, was held up at Heathrow having come from Berlin with thumb drives of more Snowden material. This act got Andrew Sullivan and Rachel Maddow up in arms when Miranda was detained under the UK's terrorist act. Naturally, equating journalism with terrorism raises legitimate concerns. But it gets murkier because Miranda isn't a journalist. Glenn says that he will expose more of the UK's secrets in revenge. Also both Miranda and the Guardian are suing the UK authorities. Somehow I get the sense there is less here than meets the eye.

++The Washington Post published an investigative piece that showed the NSA "violated privacy rights" over 3,000 times last year. Pretty bad, hey. Except the computer geeks who know this game claim that all such violations combined would equate to illegally downloading a Justin Beiber album. or about 58MgB. Pretty slim stuff.

++Meanwhile Julian Assange won the hearts and minds of the Left by backing Rand Paul and the libertarian wing of the Republican Party as the only hope for America. Assange's Wikileaks Party in Australia decided to back white supremacists in the parliamentary elections. Who's goofing whom?

++Meanwhile Snowden remains in Moscow and alerted the world that they should not listen to his father. He is surrounded by a team of the world's leading lawyers and will not be represented by Bruce Fein, the libertarian lawyer from D.C. 

++The basic problem still remains--the United States farms out its intelligence to private contractors like Booz-Hamilton who are not responsible to anyone. This costs us $50 billion a year. To prevent another Snowden, the DOD can not even estimate the cost of its preventive program. Meanwhile the FISA court said that it could not determine whether the NSA is really in compliance with the law. Down the rabbit hole we go.

++Meanwhile, Howard Dean is in Iowa. No, not for a 2016 run but Howard wants to revive his 50-state strategy to elect Democratic legislators in Red States. In case, you have missed it Republican legislators have had a field day in the states passing the most onerous anti-abortion laws, anti-voting laws, and primitive educational laws. Basically, these legislatures are passing a vision of life the Right wants to believe--with catastrophic results for anyone else.

++Democrats in Washington believe they have a secret weapon against House Republicans. Next year's sequestration will hit defense spending far greater than domestic spending because of changes this year that eased defense sequestration. They believe that the Republicans will have to suck it up and eliminate tax loopholes for corporations and the oil industry. I don't believe it.

++The Chamber of Commerce is moaning that going Big behind Republicans has not paid off the way they wanted. They were behind the Jobs bill, the Highway Bill,and Immigration Reform and now they have nothing to show from the millions they contributed to GOP campaigns. 

++The Cooch has doubled down on his attempt to revive Virginia's Sodomy Law. Now he explains that this was an instrument to prosecute pedophiles. Don't believe it.

++A special prosecutor is investigating Governor Perry's abuse of power in Texas. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Stop Obama Before he Legalizes Everyone

++Marco Rubio explained to a Florida audience that immigration reform has to pass in order to prevent President Obama from legalizing all undocumented immigrants and making them citizens by executive order. Or,conversely, stop the Democratic plot to make Republicans not pass immigration reform so that they can campaign against the GOP on this. Greg Sargent explores this bizarre twist in today's Amazon Post. And if Obama won't defund Obamacare himself, we might have to pass a budget to prevent him from shutting down the government. You know, this was once a major political party in the developed world.

++Kathleen Sebelius travelled down to Atlanta to explain the Affordable Care Act. She made the obvious point that where Democrats controlled a state government and were "all in" on the plan,ACA will work very well. Where Republican state legislatures interfered with the implementation ACA will not work as well. The reason it will work well in states that buy into the plan is because accurate information is being transmitted to the citizen, while Republican states generate misinformation and raise fears. By the end of her tenure, Sebelius might be made a saint. Her tolerance of nonsense is amazing.

Obama Has Left the Building

and he is playing golf on Martha's Vineyard. On this return he will resume his road tour of upstate New York and Pennsylvania talking about the middle class.Rick "Frothy Mix" Santorum said in Ames, Iowa that the middle class is a Marxist idea. 

Before he left from Washington, President Obama gave a press conference which covered reforms in the NSA and the FISA court, healthcare,and immigration reform. Depending on your politics, it was either a superb performance (my opinion) or a dismal failure on the subject of surveillance. The more the NSA, Snowden and other subjects are debated,the weirder the conversation. President Obama referred everyone to his Defense College speech on May where he outlined changes in the surveillance regimen and the use of drones but nobody seemed to listen. 

++Flying from Washington, Obama spoke to the veterans with disability and promised them that there would be a cutting of the backlog of care. While there he was greeted with birthers,the Florida doctor who invented Obama as an African medicine man, and other racist reminders of the tea party.

++Yukking it up a Missouri rodeo clown decided to dress as Obama and urged a bull to gore him to the applause of the crowd. Later he was ritually fired and banned from the Missouri State Rodeo for life.

++Florida's Governor Scott began another purge of the voter lists and North Carolina's Pat McCory implemented the most suppressive voting bill in modern times. Today, Hillary Clinton spoke at the ABA Convention about the tsunami of voter ID bills that hit the states who were past violators of the Voting Rights Act before it was gutter by the Supreme Court.

++Mitch McConnell came up with another ingenious way to delay Obamacare. He argued that the threat of cyber attacks and hackers meant that Obamacare should be postponed. Ted Cruz and other Republicans arguing that they want to shut down the government to defund Obamacare have their facts wrong--Obamacare is mandatory spending and would continue on even if the government was shut down.

++Eric Cantor and Rand Paul keep saying the deficit is growing. But today the figures are out that it is shrinking at the fastest rate since just after WWII and the fastest rate in over 5 years. But it doesn't matter because Eric Cantor is saying that beginning in 2016 it will pick up again. 

++The new Washington Post owned by Amazon claims that Republicans have figured out a way to keep funding the government. However, the pre-Amazon Post ran an article that all three of the major Republican staffers who did the gritty detail work in the past have all left Congress, leaving no one left in the GOP side, who knows anything about the budget.

++An Arizona couple who feared the US repression of Christianity and the rise of homosexuality set sail for Kiribati to seek refuge. Their boat was overwhelmed by storms and they were rescued by a Japanese freighter. The couple and their kids were delivered to Chile where the repressive US government paid their way back to Arizona. 

++In Ames, Iowa, the Holy-Rollers of the Religious Right were entertained by Ted Cruz and his father Rev.Rafael, who turned on the crowd with analogies between Fidel Castro and Barack Obama. The Religious Right were commanded the vote against all those who were for same sex marriage, pro choice and against gun rights like Jesus would do.

++For your amusement,check out the Lakers section of the LA Times to see the video of a young Kareem Abdul Jabbar playing against Wilt Chamberlain, the two best centers in NBA history. Wilt actually came to play for a change.

++Mariano Rivera blew three straight saves but won one. He still has 35 saves and 3 wins this year, his last. Watch A-Rod. It will be the last you see him once his appeal to MLB fails. Ichiro Suzuki is nearing 4,000 hits in pro baseball, a combination of Japan and America.

++There are now 6 states who are refusing to enforce the changes to health insurance under Obamacare. Refusing the Medicaid extension and the regulations on the health insurance industry, Texas is now sinking toward 50 in terms of healthcare in the United States. Florida has announced skyrocketing new health insurance premiums but as the Orlando Tribune reports this is because Florida actually passed laws to allow the health insurance industry to ignore all caps.

++The GOP is disturbed that they may fail for the third time to take the Senate. A very messy primary in Georgie between extreme right candidates may favor Sam Nunn's daughter, who is running as a Democrat. In South Carolina, Lindsey Graham now faces two challengers, one of whom called him a Nancy boy. And the Kentucky race with Matt Bevin, Alison Grimes and Mitch McConnell looks like it will be the most expensive in the country.

++Today Democrats vote for whether Cory Booker will be the nominee for Senate. I like Pat Holt, just because he's a scientist. Booker is supposed to win.

++Eric Holder announced yesterday plans to reform our criminal justice system with an emphasis on eliminating mandatory sentencing for drug use and possession. A federal court ruled Stop and Frisk in New York City was unconstitutional because it was racial profiling.

Friday, August 2, 2013

The Congress Has Left The Building-Who would know?

** The House repealed for a record 40th time Obamacare.

**Rep. Issa now claims the IRS is obstructing his investigation and will subpoena records directly from the Treasury Department.

**President Obama intervened directly to solve the Obamacare problem for Congress and its staff, according to Politico, so the congress critters will not have to pay huge increases in insurance.

**The State Department shut down all the embassies in the Middle East and issued a terrorist warning for all travel because of threats of an Al Qaeda attack. Seems to be based on real intelligence that Al Qaeda and comrades out of the Arabian peninsula are up to something.

**Last night, the Senate approved without dissent 4 gay ambassadors and one gay official of the Justice Department. Times have certainly changed.

**The economy added 162,000 jobs and the unemployment rate fell to 7.4%, the lowest since December 2008. 

**Gun deaths since Newtown are at 6,734. The number exceeds American deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

**Believe it or not, the NRA has requested the Supreme Court overrule prohibitions against minors from owning guns.

**Vacationing Paul Krugman phoned in his blog claiming we are on the verge of Impending Chaos because Republicans have gone insane. Krugman's concern has been politely repeated in the Washington media who finally are waking up to the idea that there can be no budget deal in time for September 30, when funding for the government runs out. Instead, people are saying that we are looking at years of sequestration, which will gut the social safety net and erode the military. The trigger for concern was yesterday's failure of the Senate to pass the Transportation Bill, which would have passed if the Republicans didn't filibuster it.

**Senate Republicans are telegraphing that when they return from recess they will conduct a mother of a filibuster on all of President Obama's judicial nominees.

**There is movement on the Hill for changing the NSA and reforming parts of the Patriot Act. While true, caution should be taken because the problems with the NSA do not register significantly in the polls. The same can be said about torture,where a plurality approve--wherever polling takes place.

**Charlie Cook ranks the Kentucky Senate race a "toss-up". With Sam Nunn's daughter in the Georgia race,Nate Silver's 50-50 chance of the Republicans taking control of the Senate grows a tad dimmer. Lindsey Graham is being tea bagged in South Carolina. Reaction to North Carolina's passage of voter suppression laws and severe anti-abortion laws have bolstered Kay Hagan's chances at re-election.

**Another same sex couple in suing Oklahoma for recognition of same sex marriage.

**Lindsey Graham and John McCain are being sent to Egypt on behalf of President Obama to scout out the Egyptian military's position on restoring democracy. The administration refuses to acknowledge that it was a coup that overthrew Mohammed Morsi so that aid can continue. The Egyptian military has vowed to break up the pro-Morsi demonstrations.

**John Kerry has secured promises from Israel and the Palestianian Authority to start negotiations over the next 9 months to reach agreement on the final status of a Palestinian state.

**Bobby Jindal is heading to Iowa to test the presidential waters. Tom Harkin and Senator Dick Durbin are traveling to Steven King's district to pump for immigration reform. 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Snowden Has Left the Airport

++Whistleblower and former Booz-Hamilton employee Snowden has left the Moscow airport and been given one-year asylum in Russia. He has been offered a job by Russia's Facebook. The U.S. says it is  sad.

++Award-winning writer Samantha Powers was approved as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. Most important about Ms. Powers is that she is married to Cass Sunstein, whom Glenn Beck said was the "most powerful man in America". She was approved by the Senate by a vote of 87 to 10. Marco Rubio led the dissenters.

++Patricia Millett made it out of the Senate Judiciary Committee today, putting confirmation of Obama's judicial nominees off until September.

++Illinois' Governor just signed the bill legalizing medical marijuana, making the state 20th to do so.

++Mitch McConnell successfully filibustered the Senate's Transportation bill sending Susan Collins in a huff about the Senate not being able to do its work.

++The Post's op-eds tonight were filled with Republicans lamenting the carnival atmosphere of the GOP's threats to close down the government. Michael Gerson tried to lecture the tea baggers that Obamacare will fail anyway of its own weight but that their nonsense to repeal it only breathes new life in it. Basically he cautioned the GOP on threatening to defund Obamacare as a recipe for electoral disaster. Charles Krauthammer lectures the libertarians on the threat of isolationism.

++Same sex marriages are now legal in Minnesota, Rhode Island and Washington,D.C. A lesbian couple has launched a federal suit to have same sex marriage recognized in Virginia. A Gallup poll now has over 50% of Americans believing same sex marriages should be legal in all states.

++All the noise about the debt ceiling,defunding the government and Obamacare seems not to make sense but it does. Congress will be away on recess until September. The House will only be in session for  9 days in September. By the end of September,there has to be either a budget agreement or a continuing resolution and lifting of the debt ceiling. October 1, another phase of Obamacare kicks in. So the nihilists among the Republicans want to bring the house down but others think any budget deal is going to be close to impossible except for a continuing resolution. But the problem with this is that sequestration will then continue--gutting both domestic discretionary spending and the military budget.

++ Ted Cruz will join Jim DeMint on the "Defund Obamacare Tour" funded by the Heritage Action for America, the activist arm of the Heritage Foundation. 

++The House will conclude tomorrow with its 40th attempt against Obamacare. This time it is a bill to prevent the IRS from being involved in enforcing the bill. Testimony from the staff rolling out Obamacare infuriated Republican congressmen because the Obama official said that she has met with thousands of small businesses and small business associations and there have only been anecdotal evidence that a small number of small businesses will not ensure their employees. The CBO projects the delay in implementing the individual mandate will cost the government about $10billion and mean that 500,000 will not be insured in 2014 as planned. 

++The Tea Party Republicans hope that lightning will strike twice this summer and they will repeat the uprising of 2010. But this time they will have to confront the basic benefits of Obamacare and reality might de-rail their game. The big money players are still hoping to dissuade young people from applying for medical insurance so that the "exchanges" will become more expensive than advertised. Kaiser polls indicate that young people or the "invincibles" now believe health insurance is important for their lives. The key will be how many act on their beliefs.

Cruising to Recess

++The House finally passed the student loan bill, which is heading to the President's desk. It will work for several years before rates explode again.

++Democratic representative Braley from Iowa insists the House should stay in session until a real Farm Bill is passed. The House bill excludes SNAP, the food stamp program, and would leave 50 million without nutrition.

++The Senate--for the first time in history--approved a director of the AFT. Since 2006, the post has been made a position that needed Senate confirmation. Because of the Reid deal with McConnell,Obama's nominee went through but at a small margin that threatened the whole filibuster deal.

++House Republicans defunded the non-existent ACORN for the second time. They are expected to repeal Obamacare another time before the August recess.

++Obama's seeming preference of Larry Summers for FED chair met with blowback from the Senate Democrats and House women. The Senate Democrats informed the President that Larry Summers would have a tough time getting confirmed. The preference of people like Senator Elizabeth Warren is Janet Yallin. Yallin would be the first woman in history to head the Chair. An alternative is the former head of TIAA-CREF, which would make him the first African-American.

++All nominees for the NLRB have been approved so that we now have labor law back. Until now, the failure to have a full board met there was no way to enforce any labor law or the right to unionize. 

++Paul Ryan hints that immigration reform could pass the House if Boehner gets rid of the Hastert Law and vote on it piecemeal. Ironically,immigration reform is the only is which the majority of rank-and-file Republicans are in favor of. A new Pew poll of Republicans indicate that the rank-and-file want the party to move even farther Right.

++Groundswell a new rightwing group of the conservative press,congressional staffers and Clarence Thomas' wife have met with John Boehner and Darryl Issa to get them to push Benghazi. The purpose of the ground is to create talking points to counter progressives and also to counter Karl Rove, whom they think is not conservative enough.

++On immigration reform,evangelical Christians, the Chamber of Commerce and Karl Rove are pressing House Republicans to move forward. 

++President Obama has offered Grand Bargain 2.0, which consists of cutting corporate tax rates in return for raising the minimum wage and building infrastructure. Both Boehner and McConnell have turned it down.

++THUD went thud. The bill for Transportation Housing and Urban Development was pulled in the House because Republicans did not want to cut the bill to fit their own Ryan budget. It was a sign that when push came to shove when filling in the numbers on their budget, they failed. The THUD bill is considered a job creator for congressional districts.

++On Obamacare, Ted Cruz bemoans the Republicans lack of guts to defund it. Mike Lee, teabag Senator from Utah, said that if you fund it, you own it. 

++The big fly in the Obamacare issue is the deal that the GOP made with the Democrats. To de-rail the bill when it first cae up, the GOP dared the Democrats to make Congress have to participate in the exchanges. They normally participate in the exchange for federal employees. The Democrats agreed and now everyone is faced with paying for insurance at higher rates than the federal health plans. To counter the news that health insurance premiums are falling under Obamacare,Florida and Georgia have announced massive increases. Both states neglected to agree to the Medicaid extension or to create their own exchanges. Meanwhile, Vermont is chugging on to a one-payer system and Montana has embarked on an innovative system of clinics, which has both saved the state and patients' money. 

++The American economy has grown slightly more than predicted at an anemic 1.5%.  Manufacturing has expanded the fastest pace in 2 years. The Car industry reports record sales. The S&P 500 has eclipsed 1,700 for its first time in history. Jobless claims are the lowest in 5 years. 

++PPP has Sarah Palin galloping to a Senate nomination in Alaska but losing to Sen.Begich by 52 to 40.

++PPP also has Alison Grimes edging Mitch McConnell 45 to 44. More Importantly, over 50% of Kentuckians believe McConnell doesn't deserve re-election.