Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wednesday Leftovers

Christmas caroling in Arizona:  On the 13th day of Christmas my true love gave to me 13 AK47assault rifles

While I remain bullish about President Obama’s reelection, supports should not underestimate his approval ratings.  He has entered the dangerously low numbers of single term Presidents Ford and Carter.  Granted the competition will be an important factor, but the American electorate is fickle and desires instant gratification.  Just look at electoral results in 2006-2008-2010.
Ann Coulter getting bleeped on Morning Joe when she called John McCain a douche didn’t upset me.  What upset me was she wasn’t bleeped during her WHOLE appearance.
The same ratings agencies that were either incompetent or complicit during the Wall Street implosion are now being harangued for failing to downgrade Greece’s bind rating in 2008.  You might as well have Carrie, Bruno, and Len doing the debt ratings.
As a frequent visitor to Israel, I am very happy to see that MSNBC is now on the HOT satellite/cable system.  Fox & CNN dominate the US cable market which is one reason why President Obama has had difficulty in becoming popular amongst Israelis.
When Pat Paulsen used to run for President, we all knew it was a joke and we laughed with him.  These clowns running for the GOP nomination don’t know we are laughing at them.
So far I have heard Michael Bloomberg, Gary Johnson, and now Jon Huntsman as possible third party candidates.  My questions are: (1) if more than one gets in, do we call them 3rd and 4th party candidates and (2) who decides which is 3rd party and so on?
There are only 34 more days until the Iowa caucus and only 41 days until the New Hampshire primary.  Who the hell needs the NBA?
If you pull a Romney and flip flop mash up the recent Cain and Bachmann positions they actually sort of make sense.  We should prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons and threaten to close the Chinese embassy.  Shit, now I am scared.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Trying to get my head around a few things.

We have no problem removing undernourished kids from a home so why is it so controversial to remove an obese child?
Conservatives think it is wrong for The First Lady to promote consumption of fresh grown fruits and vegetables but they think is it ok to regulate a woman once something starts growing inside her.
We created financial behemoths that were too big to fail, and when they failed the Federal Reserve and Treasury’s solution was to make them bigger.
When Washington gets in gridlock, like now, we blame the President for inaction, when the President starts issuing executive orders he gets charged with violating the Constitution.
When not cherry picking Bible passages to support their religious beliefs, conservatives are cherry picking the Constitution to support their political beliefs.
Constitution loving Conservatives needed Congress to reaffirm the motto In God We Trust, yet God does not appear anywhere in the Constitution.
The 4th Amendment of the Constitution protects citizens from illegal search and seizure and the 6th Amendment entitles citizens to speedy trials and confrontation of witnesses, yet the new defense appropriations bill would allow the military to jail anyone it considers a terrorism suspect – anywhere in the world without charge or trial.
People in the south love to call themselves Patriots while still flying the Confederate Flag.
Republicans moan about the end of the Space Shuttle program and the thousands of layoffs at NASA, while they insist government outsource everything else.
Republicans like to slam President Obama’s community organizing background, yet one of Mitt Romney’s credentials is Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Chairman which is nothing more than community organizing with mittens.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Monday Mishegas

Sometimes I’m not sure if I am ambivalent or indifferent.

If you were a Doug Flutie fan but can't stand Tim Tebow, you may be a hypocrite.
When I picture Rick Perry and Joe Arpaio campaigning together all I can think of is:
Are we seeing a trend in Republican candidate’s wives?

There have been a lot of Democrats, including Arianna Huffington, who have grown fond of Republican Jon Huntsman.  Yes, he is moderate, believes in climate change, and understands globalization; but I am sorry folks.  Anyone who utters these words is automatically disqualified:
“Hockey moms of the world, unite! History will be made tonight and her name is Sarah Palin.” “In a world of artificiality, we are looking for originality. We are looking for authenticity. We are looking for a rebel, a renegade. We are looking for Sarah.”
I am still baffled about Gingrich’s rise in the polls.  How can social conservatives support this guy’s track record?  How can Tea Partiers support a guy who lobbied for Freddie Mac, Big Pharma, and the ethanol industry? 
Many on the right like Newt Gingrich because he is an intellectual; compared to his competition for the GOP candidacy that makes him the skinniest kid at fat camp.
The more Mitt Romney tries to be cool like Fonzie, the more he ends up looking like Potsie.

Cue the Music for these guests

So Congresswoman Bachmann didn’t care for the Roots “Lyin’ Ass Bitch” as her entrance music.  Might I offer some suggestions for her and the other Republican personalities?

Michele Bachmann: Crazy (Patsy Cline, Icehouse, and Gnarls Barkley medley)
Rick Perry: American Idiot (Green Day)
Mitt Romney: Changes (David Bowie)
Herman Cain: Crazy Train (Ozzy Osbourne)
Jon Huntsman: China Girl (David Bowie)
Newt Gingrich: New Girl Now (Honeymoon Suite)
Rick Santorum: Relax (Frankie Goes to Hollywood)
Rush Limbaugh: Comfortably Numb (Pink Floyd)
Michael Steele: Behind Enemy Lines (Demi Lovato)
Bill O’Reilly: Love the Way You Lie (Eminem and Rihanna)
Sean Hannity: Antichrist Television Blues (Arcade Fire)
Glenn Beck: Already Gone (Eagles)
John McCain: Lost in the Supermarket (The Clash)
Sarah Palin: Once in a Lifetime (The Talking Heads)..and you may ask yourself, well how did I get here?
John Boehner: Tracks of My Tears (Smoky Robinson)
Grover Norquist: Puppet on a String (The Hives)
Dick Cheney: Send Lawyers, Guns, and Money (Warren Zevon)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Congress Fails. Blame The President.

Republicans, some Democrats, the main street media, and a number of pundits have been laying the failure of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction on President Obama.  The JSCDR, inappropriately better known as the super-committee, was created by the Budget Control Act in August 2011 when the debt ceiling was raised by $400Billion.  The JSCDR was tasked with recommending at least $1.5 trillion in additional deficit reduction steps over a 10-year period, and had the options of coming up with the money from: revenue increases, including raising taxes; tax reforms, such as simplifying the tax code and eliminating some tax breaks and loopholes; military spending cuts; and measures to reform and slow the growth of entitlement programs.  In other words, everything was on the table.  Twelve members, six from each party and six from each House of Congress failed to come up with a compromise as mandated by the Budget Control Act, yet it was President Obama’s fault?  
So two questions: (1) Why did the JSCDR fail? and (2) How is it President Obama’s fault?
To start we need to wind the clock back to January, 2010 when the Senate rejected legislation calling for a congressional commission to recommend reductions in the federal deficit.  The 53-46 vote fell seven votes shy of the necessary 60 under an agreement both parties reached.   A group of 37 Democrats and 16 Republicans supported the commission, while 23 Republicans and 23 Democrats opposed it. The vote defeated an amendment by Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) and ranking member Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) that would have created an 18-member panel to propose spending and reduction policies.  
And with that vote the concept of Congress being able to tackle this long term issue went out the window because they couldn’t even agree to form a committee.  Republican Sens. Sam Brownback (Kan.), Mike Crapo (Idaho), John Ensign (Nev.), Kay Bailey Hutchison (Texas), James Inhofe (Okla.) and John McCain (Ariz.) all voted against the bill, despite being co-sponsors. A seventh GOP senator, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, had co-sponsored the bill and planned to support it but missed the vote for personal reasons.  But the commission was equally doomed by the 23 Democrats who voted against the measure: Daniel Akaka (Hawaii), Max Baucus (Mont.), Sherrod Brown (Ohio), Roland Burris (Ill.), Robert Byrd (W.Va.), Maria Cantwell (Wash.), Ben Cardin (Md.), Bob Casey Jr (Pa.), Chris Dodd (Conn.), Tom Harkin (Iowa), Daniel Inouye (Hawaii), Paul Kirk (Mass.), Frank Lautenberg (N.J.), Jeff Merkley (Ore.), Barbara Mikulski (Md.), Patty Murray (Wash.), Jack Reed (R.I.), Jay Rockefeller (W.Va.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Arlen Specter (Pa.), Debbie Stabenow (Mich.) , Tom Udall (N.M.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.).
Why did the Senate balk?  There are probably a number of reasons.  The Republicans turned against their alleged fiscal mantra simply to put the pressure on President Obama to create his own commission via executive order.  They also balked because they knew any legitimate commission would include revenue increases, an abomination in the eye of their master Grover Norquist, and likely defense cuts.  The 23 Democrats  likely voted no so they could continue to pound Paul Ryan and other Republicans on entitlement reform and cuts without getting themselves sullied.  So self-preservation and personal interest by this lame duck Senate superseded national interests.  That readers, is failed leadership by the members of that clique.
So good to his word, on February 18th, 2010 via Executive Order 13531, President Obama created the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, forever to be known as the Bowles-Simpson Commission.  As ordered, the commission was comprised of members of the Senate and House, and six presidential selections.  They were: highlighted members indicate Republicans who signed Grover Norquist’s anti-tax Americans for Prosperity Pledge:

Alan Simpson, former Republican Senator from Wyoming
Erskin Bowles, President Clinton’s Chief of Staff
Andy Stern, former President of Service Employees International Union
Ann Fudge, former CEO Young and Rubicam Brands
Alice Rivlin, former head of CBO and OMB
David Cote, CEO and Chairman of Honeywell
Representative Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) Co-Chair
Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI)
Representative Dave Camp (R-MI)
Representative Xavier Becerra (D-CA)
Representative John Spratt (D-SC)
Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-IL)
Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH)
Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK)
Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID)
Senator Max Baucus (D-MT)
Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL)
Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND)

This commission would report back in December, 2010 with recommendations to cut the deficit.  The bylaws were quite simple: The Commission's proposals were not guaranteed to be considered by Congress in a single up-or-down vote and 14 of the 18 commission members had to approve.  The commission split up into working groups to address discretionary spending, taxation, and mandatory spending.  When it was all said and done, the President’s commission offered up a plan that would reduce debt as a percentage of GDP to 30% by 2040 versus the current trajectory of over 200%, through tax increases, entitlement reform, and spending guts.  In other words, the commission’s plan met the fiscal objective.  In summary, the plan called for:
Achieve nearly $4 trillion in deficit reduction through 2020, more than any effort in the nation’s history.
• Reduce the deficit to 2.3% of GDP by 2015 (2.4% excluding Social Security reform), exceeding President’s goal of primary balance (about 3% of GDP).2
• Sharply reduce tax rates, abolish the AMT, and cut backdoor spending in the tax code.
• Cap revenue at 21% of GDP and get spending below 22% and eventually to 21%.
• Ensure lasting Social Security solvency, prevent the projected 22% cuts to come in 2037, reduce elderly poverty, and distribute the burden fairly.
• Stabilize debt by 2014 and reduce debt to 60% of GDP by 2023 and 40% by 2035.
However, the same commission that created the plan failed to get 14 of the 18 members to approve it.  Voting for the report were Bowles, Coburn, Conrad, Crapo, Cote, Durbin, Fudge, Gregg, Rivlin, Simpson, and Spratt. Voting against were Baucus, Becerra, Camp, Hensarling, Ryan, Schakowsky and Stern.  So once again, a mix of Republicans voted for and against the commission’s plans.  Criticism came swiftly from across the spectrum.  Those on the left attacked the spending cuts and entitlement reform.  Those on the right opposed tax increases and defense cuts.  In other words, nobody wanted to swallow the Robitussin.   
Yet somehow that was President Obama’s fault?
Without the commission’s internal approval the report’s recommendations never made it to Congress; just what the House and Senate wanted.  Another year goes by and the can has been kicked further than Forrest Gump ran.
Which brings us to the super committee and its twelve members: highlighted members indicate Republicans who signed Grover Norquist’s anti-tax Americans for Prosperity Pledge
Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) Co-chair
Senator Max Baucus (D-MT)
Senator John Kerry (D-MA)
Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ)
Senator Rob Portman (R-OH)
Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA)
Representative Xavier Becerra (D-CA)
Representative Jim Clyburn (D-SC)
Representative Chris Van Hollen (D-MD)
Representative Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) Co-Chair
Representative Fred Upton (R-MI)
Representative Dave Camp (R-MI)

Recognize any names?  Bowles-Simpson leftovers Camp. Hensarling, Baucus, and Becerra were once again chosen to be on the latest deficit fighting incarnation.  Not only did these get selected again, they also voted against Bowles-Simpson as members.  Did this committee really have a snow cone’s chance in Arizona?  Big emphatic no.
Yet somehow that was President Obama’s fault?
And now, in some sort of Dante’s Inferno, there are people in Washington calling for a return to the Bowles-Simpson plan.  Yes dust off a plan that died while still in the executive commission and never made it to Congress; yes because in Congress things get done so efficiently and effectively.  And what happens and it fails in 2012:
Somehow that will be President Obama’s fault.
So back to our questions (1) Why did the JSCDR fail? and (2) How is it President Obama’s fault?
The JSCDR failed because that’s what is was designed to do and it is President Obama’s fault because when you are the only adult in the room with 535 children you get blamed when one of them shits his diaper.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Some Early Christmas Gifts for GOP Candidates

Some Early Christmas gifts I picked up on Black Friday:

For Herman Cain: Box set of “Where in the World is Carmen Santiago”?
For Michele Bachmann: DVD copy of “He’s Just Not That Into You”
For Rick Perry: Guns and Ammo’s Guide to  America’s Most Racist Hunting Camps
For Mitt Romney: Fur lined flip flops for when he campaigns in New Hampshire.
For Jon Huntsman: An original edition How to Win Friends and Influence People
For Rick Santorum:  The home version of the Guantanamo Bay Waterboarding Game
For Newt Gingrich: Michelin Guide to Cruising the Greek Islands and Aegean Sea

The Politics of Immigration and Immigration Politics.

Americans have a prolific propensity to blame someone for their personal failures or national ills.  We love our heroes and we denigrate our goats.  And when our national economy struggles and staggers we can’t help but want to blame someone or something.  We blame the President, Congress, Wall Street, the Federal Reserve, consumers, businesses, and foreign nations.  And when it’s time to fire up the electoral base immigrants become public enemy number one.   Depending on circumstances, immigration can be a lightning rod issue and sometimes it can be a secondary issue; but it’s never far from the forefront, especially with the socially conservative Tea Party.
In the Fox News/Google September Republican Presidential Debate Texas Governor Perry defended his 2001 Texas Dream Act: "If you say that we should not educate children who have come into our state for no other reason than they have been brought there by no fault of their own, I don't think you have a heart.” 
Perry was immediately assailed by the other candidates and right wing commentators, pundits, and politicians for promoting amnesty and creating magnets for future illegal immigration.  The fact that Perry was addressing the notion that there are 11million undocumented immigrants in this country was lost in the noise.
During Tuesday’s Republican Presidential Debate, the topic of illegal immigration came up and it was telling how quickly the candidates went nativist.  Newt Gingrich swam against the tide: “If you’ve come here recently, you have no ties to this country, you ought to go home. Period. If you’ve been here 25 years and you got three kids and two grandkids, you’ve been paying taxes and obeying the law, you belong to a local church, I don’t think we’re going to separate you from your family, uproot you forcefully and kick you out.”
Unsurprisingly, the backlash against Newt was swift and widespread from the right.  Yes, only in the nativist Tea Party dominated Republican Party can a candidate’s plan to create 2nd class individuals be so heavily criticized.  Mind you, Newt isn’t talking about citizenship; he is talking about some sort of guest residency.  Makes you wonder if gay pro-labor atheists would be welcome in Newtfoundland?
Perhaps the most despicable display of opportunism comes from Mitt Romney.  In a Meet The Press interview in 2007, Romney told the late Tim Russert:  My own view is, consistent with what you saw in the Lowell Sun, that those people who had come here illegally and are in this country, the 12 million or so that are here illegally, should be able to sign up for permanent residency or citizenship, but they should not be given a special pathway, a special guarantee that all of them get to stay here for the rest of their lives merely by virtue of having come here illegally, and that, I think, is the great flaw in the final bill that came forward from the Senate.”
Romney, trying to prove his credentials to the Social Conservatives, has criticized Perry and Gingrich for creating magnets through amnesty or quasi-amnesty.  Romney stuck in the low 20’s in Republican polling is pandering to the SoCons and claiming “ (Illegal immigrants)should not be given a special pathway, a special guarantee that all of them get to stay here for the rest of their lives merely by virtue of having come here illegally."
Immigration pandering and politics further exemplified that ALL of these Republicans have moved so far to the right of the Bush and McCain positions in 2000 and 2008, that they are unwilling and unable to address the simple question:  “What do you do with the 11million undocumented people in this country?”  Everybody knows mass deportation is immoral, illogical, and impractical.  Besides, while no one on the right will admit it, the adverse impact to the U.S. economy could be devastating.  Perhaps debate moderator CNN’s Wolf Blitzer should have asked that difficult question?  We probably would have seen more dancing from these guys than Rikki Lake and JR Martinez.
Alas we have the elephant in the room.  Any hint of a path to citizenship will be called amnesty and that candidate will be crucified.
But we must be honest.  President Obama and many Democrats haven’t necessarily championed the cause of the 11million either.  Some like Illinois Congressman Luis Gutierrez have been very vocal on developing a pathway to citizenship that include several prerequisites such as learning English, biometrics, and no criminal record.  Instead, the DNC has remained mostly quiet while the Republicans shoot themselves in the foot and alienate the Latino community.  The DNC’s silence is politically motivated as they obviously feel they will capitalize on the Latino vote without disenfranchising some moderates who are still on the fence about 2012.  Just to show how the immigration debate has become a hot potato, here’s how the immigration debate has upset the apple cart of traditional ideological positions:
·         Republicans are pro-business and Democrats pro union
·         Undocumented workers keep costs down but depress wages
·         Republicans want security Democrats want civil liberties
·         Republicans are mono-color Democrats a rainbow
·         A traditional Republican would welcome immigrant labor to help businesses keep costs down
·         A traditional Democrat would push for middle class wages and oppose cheap labor
·         A new breed Republican wants to deport all undocumented workers
·         A new breed Democrat wants to pander the growing Latino minority as a voting bloc

The other half of the equation is the question of national security and safeguarding the border.  This is where the Republicans love to assail the President and Democrats in general for abdicating responsibility for defending the nation’s borders.  Whether it’s local leaders like Arizona’s Governor Jan Brewer, State Senators Steve Smith and Ron Gould, recently recalled State Senator and anti-immigration SB1070 champion Russell Pearce, Sheriffs Babeu and Arpaio or national leaders such as Arizona Senators McCain and Kyl , Texas Congressmen Gohmert and Barton, and presidential candidates Bachmann, Cain, and Santorum  conditions along the border are a matter of national security.  We have seen the ‘Build the Dang Fence’ ads from Babeu and McCain, claims of beheadings in the desert by Brewer, “Phoenix is kidnap capital of the world” by McCain and Kyl, and now a privately funded enterprise being championed by Smith to build a fence using prison labor that has raised $250k or enough for a ½ mile. 
Fact is none of it is true.  In a recent article in The Economist titled “Crying Wolf” border apprehensions are down to one fifth of the 2000 peak while the number of border patrol agents has doubled over the same period.  Has improved security slowed the number of immigrants trying to come across the border?  Probably.  But the real reason why we have fewer undocumented workers in this country today versus 2008 is the economy.  Because Mitt, amnesty isn’t a magnet, financial opportunity is. Is there a criminal element involving drug and human smuggling?  Absolutely, but that is about crime prevention, and the cartels have been greatly hampered by joint local/state/federal taskforces.  Recently, Republican candidates, namely Michele Bachmann, have switched fear factor tactics to warning us about Iranian and Hezbollah terror cells in Mexico.  Is border security an important issue?  Of course it is; but to think that a static fence or wall will stop terrorists from getting in as na├»ve and silly.  More red meat.
Next to abortion, immigration maybe the most polarizing topic in the country today and it’s a deep rooted issue as old as the country.  Starting with the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798, this country has had periods of deep anti-immigration fervor often correlating to difficult and challenging economic times.  The great recession of 2007 – 2009 was no exception and in states like Arizona, the debate has moved from the streets to the state house to the court house where the anti-immigration forces blame immigrants, legal and otherwise, for the high unemployment, state expenses, crime, and other societal ills.  Blaming illegal immigrants is easy as they have way of really fighting back.  But do illegal immigrants cause more crime, higher unemployment, state services costs, and contribute to negative economic impacts?  That depends on who you chose to listen to as there are some extremely partisan reports out there.  I chose to look at two university papers: the exhaustive 2008 study by Judith Gans, manager of the Immigration Policy at the Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy at the University of Arizona and Arizona State University’s Morrison Institute’s analysis “Illegal immigration vs. Arizona’s fiscal crisis.”
The simple formula is revenues generated form taxes minus healthcare, law enforcement, and education costs.  The Gans paper goes much deeper into the analysis, methodology, and assumptions and is quite comprehensive.  And while it is based on 2004 data, this study shows that the presence of immigrants is a $1 Billion gain for the state and the presence of non-citizen immigrants is neutral or slightly positive.  The Morrison Institute piece states the economic impact is minimal.
Non-citizen immigrants do take low paying jobs form the less educated and they depress wages.  But they also keep employer costs down, and they make up a significant percentage of agricultural, construction, and service workers.  Doesn’t it make sense to find some method to bring these people into the fold and make them citizens?  Instead our state government focuses on further anti-immigration legislation even though immigrants (naturalized and non-citizen) are less likely to commit crimes compared to native citizens.

So what do I recommend we do? We shall establish a pathway for undocumented residents to achieve citizenship within 4 years.
a.      All citizens will have identification cards
b.      English comprehension will be mandatory
c.       Felony convictions will result in deportation
d.      Conservatives will cry ‘amnesty’ I say that the vast majority of the undocumented are established in the community and are good citizens why not give them a pathway.
e.      More individuals in the system means more people paying taxes
f.       Pass the DREAM Act

Good thing I’m not running for the Republican nomination.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Not a Hallmark Thanksgiving Card

I am thankful for Jon Stewart, the Daily Show, Stephanie Miller, and all of the other Sexy Liberals who make being progressive cool and funny.
I am thankful for Twitter and other social media for putting information and knowledge at everyone’s finger tips.
I am thankful for a world where GOOD cynicsm, sarcasm, and satire are cherished like a fine wine.
I am thankful that I live in a country where hard work DOES pay off.
I am thankful that I live in a country where there is a safety net for its citizens when they fall upon hard times.
I am thankful for the Republican Party for producing such qualified candidates as Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, and Michele Bachmann.
I am thankful for politicians for giving me so much material for and Twitter.
I am thankful for for being the anti-venom to ridiculous chain e-mails.
I am thankful to and for arming us with facts and data against the lies and falsehoods (PS I am talking about Michele Bachmann especially)
I am thankful that I can choose.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Scenes from Republican Thanksgivings

·         Michele Bachmann “Let’s give thanks to the Pilgrims for bringing the Constitution with them from England.”
·         Pat Robertson “Colored people stuff their turkeys with Mac and Cheese.”
·         Herman Cain “Hmmm I love breast and thighs.  And the turkey is good too.”
·         Megyn Kelly “Make sure you season your turkey generously with salt and pepper spray.”
·         Mitt Romney “I like mashed potatoes, no I like French Fries, no mashed potatoes…”
·         Rick Perry “Let’s join hands and give our thanks to the Father, the Son, and the Other One.”
·         Newt Gingrich “If we’re not careful militant Islamists will implement Sharia Law and instead of sweet potatoes we will be eating baba ghanoush.”
·         Jan Brewer “Please pass the peas and show me your papers.”
·         Sarah Palin “Why does everyone laugh when I say Baked Alaskan for desert?”
·         Bill O’Reilly “Abraham Lincoln used to watch It’s a Charlie Brown Thanksgiving every year.”
·         Grover Norquist “Grover Jr. please recite your pledge to clean your plate in order to get Pumpkin Pie.”

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tuesday's Luncheon Specials

What do Bill Maher, Bill O’Reilly and Chris Matthews have in common?  No matter what the political ideology, shilling one’s book is more important that politics, beliefs, consistency, and hypocrisy.  O’Reilly clearly didn’t bother researching, Matthews believes JFK is the gold standard and uses his show to shamelessly plug his book, and Bill Maher makes a living mocking the ladies of The View and then runs to sit on the sofa with them when he has a new book out.  Charlatans.
No frills airline Ryanair is considering allowing passengers to watch porn on hand held devices.  Which brings me to:
a)      What are they doing with the other hand?
b)      I guess they won’t be serving nuts.
c)       Watch me bring this tray table up without any hands.
d)      Pesky seatbelts
Predictions for tonight’s GOP debate on National Security:
a)      Romney will repeat his line that if Iran gets a nuke it will be Obama’s fault.  But SuperMitt will prevent that from happening.
b)      Gingrich will charge the President with a failed foreign policy of appeasement and make some arcane reference to Neville Chamberlain.
c)       Bachmann will promote her litter and repeat her pledge against ObamaCare, both of which have nothing to do with national security.
d)      Paul will say we need to bring all of our troops home from everywhere and in their place send all employees of the departments of education, commerce, and the other one.
e)      Perry will talk about having a tough national defense like we had at the Alamo before Wolf Blitzer reminds him we lost that battle.
f)       Huntsman will tell us we can’t have national security without economic security.
g)      Cain will unveil his new plan of invading 9 countries in 9 days and staying for 9 years.
Ever notice in the blame game that this the United States we always have to assign blame when something goes wrong and conduct a survey to see who everybody else thinks must be blamed.
Congratulations to Tigers Pitcher Justin Verlander for winning American League Cy Young, American League MVP, an American Music Award, Dancing With The Stars, and the Spanish general election.
At 5pm EST on Monday MSNBC’s Chris Mathews, Howard Fineman, and Chris Cillizza were criticizing President Obama for failed leadership in dealing with the super committee and Congress.  When Matthews and Fineman returned at 7pm EST they were praising President Obama for his leadership because of his four minute press briefing when he said he would veto any plan coming from Congress that bypassed the mandated spending cuts.  Weather vanes. Click.

Monday, November 21, 2011

A Biased Analysis of the Affordable Care Act and The Supreme Court

Sometime around June or July, The Supreme Court of the United States will rule on the constitutionality of President Obama’s signature1st term legislative achievement: The Affordable Care Act.  The arguments will center on whether the individual mandate is constitutional under the ‘Commerce Clause’, (Article I, Section 8, Clause 3), that states the United States Congress has the power: "To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes."  Opponents will say that allowing the federal government to mandate buying insurance will establish a precedent that the government could mandate that everybody must eat Brussels Sprouts.  Defenders say that there is sufficient precedent in place as they point to Medicare and Social Security payroll deductions.  What is unquestioned is without the mandate, the entire law collapses.  What about the political aspects?  If the Court rules the law is constitutional, it’s hard to see how Obama doesn’t benefit and the opposite is true should the court rule against the law.  Yet the confident Obama administration could have let the multitude of legal challenges make their way through the courts before arriving at SCOTUS in 2013.  Is it a sign of confidence or hubris?  What would have happened if the Obama administration had not allowed the fast track to occur AND he loses the 2012 election?  Would the Republican administration, say Romney’s, not argue the case?  Also, the Supreme Court has asked for arguments on the mandate, severability (if the mandate is ruled unconstitutional can the law still stand), and jurisdiction. 
Prediction: The Supreme Court rules 6-3 in favor of the law, though Roberts sides with the majority to write the opinion and to make sure the limits of the Commerce Clause are spelled out.  I expect Alito, Scalia, and Thomas to be in the minority.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Top Ten Reasons Why NASCAR Fans Hate the Obamas

10) The President killed Dale Earnhardt
9) The President wants to ban bump drafting
8) The President prevented NASCAR from adding gun racks to the Truck Series
7) The checkered flag reminds them of his heritage.
6) Union workers make the cars they race.
5) The President will charge race teams for their carbon foot print.
4) Michelle Obama will ban the corndog and deep fried butter from the concession stands
3) The President ruined left hand turns for them.
2) He doesn’t wear cowboy boots.
1) He uses words with more than one syllable.

Sunday Brunch

Political wonks, like me, love polls and to see how their candidate stacks up.  Fact is we are still weeks from the Iowa Caucus and New Hampshire primary, almost a year from the election, and President Obama still doesn’t have an opponent.  Keep in mind that McCain and Obama were neck and neck, even with Palin on the ticket, until the GOP candidate infamously said on September 15, 2008 “still the fundamentals of our economy are strong.”  So enjoy the sideshow that is the Republican Primary but campaigns are not decided until the final quarter Sep – Nov.
National debt crossed the $15Trillion mark this week while the Supercalifragilisticexpialidouches Committee fiddles away their task.  Where are the grown-ups?  Social Security and Medicare need to be reformed to meet the greater demand of benefits from the aging baby boomers, longer life expectancies, and advances in medications and surgical procedures.  Tax reform is also required to expand the tax base and increase revenues from the top income earners.  The Republicans have it half right; we do have a spending problem.  But we also have an income problem.  Corporations and top earners need to be paying at least an effective tax rate of 28%.  And we have a debt problem, which means we ALREADY spent the money.  Cutting future spending does not address you existing debt.  That requires revenue.
I think we all ideally wish for freedom for all and a world without tyranny.  When we see public protests in Syria, Yemen, Bahrain, Egypt, Tunisia, and Jordan we sympathize with the protesters as they strive to overthrow the yoke of tyranny and corruption.  But are we willing to accept a Salafist, jihadist fundamentalists, led governments in these nations?  Dictators, for all their heinous and monstrous faults, do maintain order.  Who among us hasn’t thought, “I think people should be free, but it is in out best interests?”  That is what diplomacy is all about.  That is what the Obama administration understands better than the neocons and chicken hawks on the right.  We over threw a democratically elected leader in Iran and propped up the Shah, and 32 years later we are facing  an existential threat from a soon to be nuclear armed Iran.  Would things have been different if we had reached out to the Islamists?  Who knows?  But we always fail to see the long term repercussions of our acts.  I think President Obama realized that continued backing of Mubarak was not a in our long term best interests.  Will we have short term unease, even chaos as the liberal secular reformists joust with the Islamists and Salafists?  Yes. 
Anybody want to argue with the fact that the SEC West Division isn’t the hub of excellence in college football?  LSU, Alabama, and Arkansas are 1,2, and 3 in the AP poll.  That would be like having the Packers, Saints, and Steelers in the same division. 
Finally, while everyone is focusing on President Obama’s handling of anti-terror issues in the Middle East, Libya, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, his national security team and state department have quietly reestablished US strength and presence in Southeast Asia, Africa, and South America.  Through strong coalitions and leadership, the Obama administration is building anti-China counterweight to protect trade routes and build potential trade partnerships.  In South America, in spite of Chavez’ bombastic speech, Mr. Obama has built strong alliances with the heads of state in Colombia, Argentina, and Brazil.  Now, the administration is looking to reach out to Myanmar, a depsotic regime, in the hopes of increased engagement will lead to freedom.  Yes engagement and networking is a lot better than cowboy statesmanship from Bush, Perry, or any other GOP wannabe.

Friday, November 18, 2011

I got all this stuff swirling around in my head.

I got all this stuff swirling around in my head.
1.       Have you ever met a compassionate conservative?
2.       Ever notice that neighbors of serial killers and sexual predators always describe the suspect as “Well he was quiet and kept to himself.”?
3.       The only way to keep Iran from becoming nuclear armed is for all members of the security council and key Muslim states like Turkey to offer a  way out that allows them to save face.
4.       Electoral Math:  President Obama has a solid lock on 222 electoral votes and would need 48 more to get re-elected.  By the way, there are 138 more electoral votes available in states Obama carried in 2008. 
5.       Are these Mormon public service announcements supposed to help Mitt Romney get elected?
6.       Does anyone care what Pat Robertson thinks?
7.       I know political campaign ads and speeches are supposed to attack the opposition, but how the right attacks the President’s patriotism and heritage makes Swift Boating look mild.
8.       NBC is bringing back The Munsters next year.  The networks really cannot come up with an original idea.
9.       Will Turkey send in its armed forces to protect Syrian citizens and enable an exit by al-Assad?
10.   Intercompany mail envelopes are an endangered species.
11.   According to House Republicans pizza is a vegetable.  According to vegetables House Republicans are douches.
12.    Why can’t people see that Republican plans of siphoning off wealth form the nation are no different than Mubarak and Ben Ali who stole billions from the national coffers?
13.   The biggest difference between Republicans and Democrats: should government keep business from ruining the environment, endangering the economy, and creating a two class society.
14.   Biggest similarity between Democrats and Republicans: their elected representatives are looking out for themselves ahead of their constituents.
15.   I think Romney the only Republican in the field who REALLY wants to be President.  The others are just doing book tours or some bucket list thing.
16.   Will Charlie Sheen give Demi Moore a call?  Why is that even swirling in my head?
17.   If I think Tim Tebow is a bad QB, it does not mean I am against religion.  There are a whole lot of other reasons to be wary of organized religion, (1) Crusades (2) Inquisition (3) KKK (4) Salafism (5) Militant Orthodox Jews
18.   Remember when people used to come to Arizona for respiratory relief?  Not any longer.  Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale is now the 9th unhealthiest metropolis in the country.
19.   People shouldn’t claim that GOP governors like Kasich, Walker, Scott, and Brewer have been slapped down recently because of overreach.  They are only doing what they privately and publicly said they would.  Nonetheless, time for them to go.
20.    Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is a dark disturbing movie.  That scene on the boat is creepy and if you don’t think so, check out these lyrics:
Not a speck of light is showing
So the danger must be growing
Are the fires of Hell a-glowing
Is the grisly reaper mowing

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Doing Some Quick Electoral Math and I like President Obama's odds

Electoral Math 2012
If you give President Obama
·         Maine: 4
·         Vermont: 3
·         New York: 29
·         Pennsylvania: 20
·         Massachusetts: 11
·         Rhode Island: 4
·         Connecticut: 7
·         New Jersey: 14
·         Delaware: 3
·         Maryland: 10
·         Washington DC: 3
·         Michigan: 16
·         Illinois: 20
·         Washington: 12
·         Oregon: 7
·         California: 55
·         Hawaii: 4
He already hits 222 electoral votes of the 270 needed for election.  That means he needs to pick up 48 more electoral votes from:
·         New Hampshire: 4
·         Virginia: 14
·         North Carolina: 15
·         Florida: 29
·         Ohio: 18
·         Indiana: 11
·         Wisconsin: 10
·         Minnesota: 10
·         Iowa:4
·         Colorado: 9
·         New Mexico: 5
·         Nevada: 6
A total of 136 votes from states he carried in 2008.  Tracking polls and favorability polls don’t mean that much because we have 51 independent elections; thanks to the 12th amendment.
President Obama has several avenues to re-election, some of which could become more available as anti-republican fervor builds in Florida, Wisconsin, Arizona, and Ohio.  Likely scenarios for the President’s reelection:
1)      Go West: Pick up 20 votes from CO, NM, NV and FL gets him 271
2)      Go West and MidWest: Pick up 20 votes from CO, NM, NV and 26 votes from MN, IA, WI and find 2 votes somewhere else.
3)      Go MidAtlantic and South: Pick up VA, NC, and FL for 57 for 279.
4)      Go Rust Belt in IN and OH for 29 and mix in West or MidWest
I’m no Nate Silver, but I am fairly bullish about the President’s chances in 2012. Perhaps that is why this GOP field is so lame.  Perhaps they can do math afterall.