Nel's New Day

July 31, 2011

Debt Ceiling Quotes

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 2:05 PM

With the heated rhetoric in Washington, D.C. regarding the Republicans refusal to raise the debt ceiling without extorting  most of the nation’s population, people have a lot to say.

“Republican policymaking lately seems to have been driven at least as much by pure political venom as it has by ideology or interest-group pressure.”—Kevin Drum, Mother Jones

“President Obama hates it. Harry Reid hates it. Nancy Pelosi hates it. Why would Republicans want to be on the side of President Obama, Harry Reid, and Nancy Pelosi is beyond me.”—House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) while riling up conservatives to get votes for his punitive “raise-the-debt-ceiling” bill

“The fact Pelosi, Reid, and Obama hate it doggone makes it perfect enough.”—Rep.Allen West (R-FL) in response

“You can judge a society by the way it treats its most vulnerable members.”–Virginia Wepfer at a Townhall Meeting in Youngstown (OH)

“Social Security is not an entitlement; it is a promise to the American people who have paid into the system,”– Carolyn Williams, Youngstown (OH)

“I realize that a lot of the new members of Congress and I don’t see eye-to-eye on many issues. But we were each elected by some of the same Americans for some of the same reasons. Yes, many want government to start living within its means. And many are fed up with a system in which the deck seems stacked against middle-class Americans in favor of the wealthiest few. But do you know what people are fed up with most of all? They’re fed up with a town where compromise has become a dirty word.”–President Obama in his address about the debt ceiling crisis

“I didn’t sign up for going mano-a-mano with the president of the United States.”House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) following his response to President Obama’s address

 

 

July 30, 2011

Tea Party Reps Far from Reality

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 1:54 PM

When the Tea Party became visible, people sometimes looked at them as sort of kooks, outside the fringe and unknowledgeable but maybe having good hearts. Those days are now behind us. After their Congressional antics in the past few weeks, Tea Party representatives have clearly shown themselves as fanatic, dogmatic ideologists whose minds are ruled more by their emotions (especially fear and anger) than by rationality.

Their separation from reality is clearly demonstrated by the wide schism in perceptions between themselves and the public view regarding why they were elected and what positions constituents want them to take.

1. Tea Partiers believe they were elected to stop Obama and Democrats from destroying the country. Most people voting for the Tea Party candidate did so because of bad economy and high unemployment—unhappiness with the status quo.

2. Tea Partiers believe that Obama’s “socialist policies” have added to the deficit and burdened business. Most people think that the problem is lack of jobs.

3. Tea Partiers want to solve the deficit by giving more money to corporations and the wealthy; cutting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid; deregulating; and cutting spending except for the military. Most people believe that increasing government revenue needs to be a big part of the solution.

4. Tea Parties think that failing to raise the debt ceiling is no big deal. Most people think that this lack of action is insanity.

So who are the House Tea Party members? About 45 percent of them attend an evangelical church, compared to 13 percent of the other representatives. Another 30 percent are Southern Protestants. Many of them come from small towns or rural communities and own farms and ranches or small businesses. They live in a white world with little diversity. The 60 official Tea Party members come from states with only 16 percent of the population, yet they claim to know what’s best for the entire nation.

With their ideology coming from Ayn Rand, they are anti-government, not small government, and violently so. George W. Bush’s “Axis of Evil” speech writer said, “Their objective is not the correction of error but the cultivation of contempt for government itself.” Their goal is to show how tough they are and create chaos for everyone around them.

Ironically, they believe in government welfare when it applies to them. To most people, farm subsidies, for example, are really welfare going primarily to the huge farmers. Because several representatives receive this welfare, however, the entire rank-and-file refuses to eliminate it.

With their strong sense of “individualism,” they do not see anyone unlike themselves as part of the “Real America” (to quote Sarah Palin). Because they see government as “rigged” to benefit only liberals, Democrats, people of color, the disabled, and members of the LGBT community, they have the need to destroy government, thus eradicating this part of the population

In the past, they have gotten their own way through bullying, experiences that now reinforce their lack of willingness to compromise. Even if they get their own way, they turn it down to get more—and more—and more. They identity with John Galt in Atlas Shrugged who worked to destroy his nation or Samson who pulled down the pillars of theTemple of the Philistines to kill all the people inside.

Their bigotry and ignorance have led them to the philosophy that the government is useful only for protecting private property and that everyone is so honest that an unfettered free market will support all people if they are just willing to work. They believe that people should adjust to a much hotter world rather than trying to affect the climate in a positive way. Reasoning with these people is useless because they refuse to accept any evidence that does not fit their ideology. As long as their cult remains intact, they would be delighted if the country goes down in flames around them.

These are people who flaunt the Constitution as second only to their bible. The founders of this country (who were primarily deists and not Christians) believed that, through a balance of powers, men and women of reason could solve the problems facing the country. The founders believed in compromise, non-existent in the Tea Party, but Tea Party members have no ability to reason.

Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL) shows the detachment between personal perception and reality. Calling himself “the tip of the spear in this current debate,” he has continually denounced President Obama’s “reckless spending,” which he says has “bankrupted this country.” It appears that Walsh knows something about “reckless spending” and “bankrupted.” He won his seat after he showed that he was part of the “real America” by the $300,000 foreclosure on his condo. He failed to file his personal financial disclosure form as required by federal election law. His entire campaign was marked by allegations of financial mismanagement while he paid $3,300 per month for a house in upscale Winnetka.

After he took office, he did the Tea Party thing of refusing health care for himself and his wife despite the fact that they briefly had no insurance while his current wife had a pre-existing condition and needed surgery. At the current time, Walsh’s ex-wife, Laura, is suing him for $117,437 in unpaid child support for their three children during the past ten years. He first stated that this wasn’t true and then said he had no money in spite of the $35,000 he loaned his own campaign and the international vacations he enjoyed. Since then he has paid himself at least $14,200 for these loans but nothing on child support. Former campaign manager Keith Liscio is also suing Walsh for $20,000. Walsh’s annual salary is $174,000 with a little over $25,000 taken for child support.

“This is where real America is,” Walsh said about his unpaid child support. What a sad commentary that Joe Walsh and others like him can take money from the government and keep others from getting jobs because of their restrictions on the U.S. economy while they brag about saving the country for their children.

July 29, 2011

Teen Suicides Proliferate in Bachmann’s District

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 5:54 PM

Imagine a legislative district with such a high rate of teen suicides that state public health officials have named the area a “suicide contagion area.” One where the Departments of Justice and the Education’s Office of Civil Rights are investigating allegations of anti-gay bullying. The 6th District of Minnesota is such a legislative district, with nine teen suicides in the past two years.

The Southern Poverty Law Center is suing the Anoka-Hennepin County School District over its discriminatory “neutrality” policy, which the group views as a potential violation of the equal protection clause of the Constitution. In a letter to the district superintendent in May,  SPLC wrote: “The gag policy bears no rational relationship to any legitimate governmental purpose. On the contrary, the history surrounding the policy’s enactment clearly shows that the policy was adopted solely in deference to some community members’ disapproval of, and animus toward, a particular class of citizens—LGBT people. The law is clear that mere animus toward an unpopular group cannot constitute a legitimate governmental purpose.”

According to the SPLC, school officials ignored complaints from the students. One of the plaintiffs eventually dropped out of school and later attempted suicide, and another, who had reported anti-LGBT harassment for two years, was told by the school district to find another school because they couldn’t protect him. A third student claims that while he was violently assaulted and called a “faggot” in the hallway, a teacher stood by and watched without intervening. After he reported the incident, the school official blamed him for provoking the attack.

A year ago, Fifteen-year-old Justin Aaberg hanged himself in his bedroom last summer. Samantha Johnson went home from school, put on old clothes, lay down in the bathtub, and put a hunting rifle in her mouth. Other students—TJ, Aaron, Nick, Kevin, July, Jordan, and Cole—also killed themselves. Of these nine teens, some were gay or perceived to be gay, and school officials knew that several were bullied.

No one knows if Samantha was gay. New to the district from a much smaller school, she was chubby, wore sweats, kept her hair short, and played sports. As one of the group who tried to form a Gay-Straight Alliance, she may have been looking for safety from bullying that at least one school staff member witnessed but failed to stop. Theater teacher Jefferson Fietek agreed to be the GSA adviser, but the school district kept fighting its formation. Samantha was dead by the time that he decided to hold a meeting without the school’s permission. Since January, seven of Fietek’s students at Anoka Middle School have been hospitalized for attempting or threatening suicide.

Since the mid-1990s, Samantha’s school district has had a policy known as “no homo promo” which makes LGBTQ people invisible in the school health curriculum—not even a mention of  HIV and AIDS. School employees could not teach that homosexuality was a “normal, valid lifestyle.”

The U.S. representative for this district is Michele Bachmann, currently a Republican presidential candidate. Describing gay rights as an “earthquake issue,” she and her supporters have launched and continued a fight against the “homosexual agenda,” opposing all efforts to allow tolerance for LGBTQ teens in the classroom.

After these suicides, students in Anoka-Hennepin schools participated in the Day of Silence, organized by the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network, which encourages kids to remain silent for the day in recognition of the effect of anti-gay bullying and harassment. Religious activists fought against this move toward tolerance by its “Day of Truth,” championed by the “ex-gay ministry” Exodus International. Students were encouraged talk to their classmates about homosexuality from a Christian perspective.

Even after the escalation of the suicide and attempted suicide rates, the anti-gay rhetoric continued. The Parents Action League worked with area churches to hand out T-shirts promoting the “Day of Truth” to students at Bachmann’s alma mater. The students were also told to “preach to the gay kids.”

Although Bachmann is on the record as opposing anti-bullying legislation, she has told state lawmakers: “I think for all us our experience in public schools is there have always been bullies, always have been, always will be. I just don’t know how we’re ever going to get to point of zero tolerance and what does it mean?…What will be our definition of bullying? Will it get to the point where we are completely stifling free speech and expression? Will it mean that what form of behavior will there be—will we be expecting boys to be girls?”

Justin’s mother asked for help from her legislators. Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) has introduced federal legislation requiring school districts to protect LGBT students; Bachmann has not responded to her constituent. Bachmann’s silence about these deaths has been deafening.

Bachmann’s  husband, who receives federal funding, operates a Christian mental health clinic that counsels people to “pray away the gay.” Before she entered politics, Bachmann was the educational adviser to the MFC-affiliated Minnesota Family Institute, and headlined a fundraising dinner for MFC this past spring. The MFC has waged a seven-year battle to pass a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage that will be on the state ballot in 2012 and have helped create a vitriolic climate filled with anti-gay rhetoric that is harmful to at-risk kids.

Tom Prichard, the head of the MFC, said that the suicides were not the product of anti-gay bulling but rather “homosexual indoctrination.” Prichard said students like Samantha died because they adopted an “unhealthy lifestyle” and that “homosexual activists” were manipulating the suicides to further advance their agenda in the school district. Bachmann ally Bradlee Dean, the head of the heavy-metal ministry You Can Run But You Cannot Hide International, said, “The homosexuals are now blaming [the schools’] stance as the reason that young homosexuals are committing suicide because of the schools’ intolerance to the lifestyle of homosexuality.”

No one can ever know what part Bachmann’s anti-gay activism played in these suicides and attempted suicides. She needs to know, however, that any legislator’s strong belief that homosexuality is a sickness and should be eradicated is a great danger and a threat to people’s well-being because it creates a climate in which people feel that their only escape is death.

July 28, 2011

Congress Far Away from Reality

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 9:16 PM

Just when you thought that Washington couldn’t get any crazier than it has been, it turns “bizarro,” to quote Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). Much as he tried to put a bipartisan spin on how the Democrats will compromise (as if they haven’t already when they dropped the possibility of any increased revenue in their proposal), you know that he’s shaking his head at the freshmen Tea Party representatives in the House who seem convinced that not raising the debt limit means not having to pay all the bills that the conservatives have rolled up in the past decade while taking away government revenue.

Like immature fraternity boys out of control, the ultra-conservatives have signed pledges for every far-right issue they can find, the latest one from 40 conservative organizations. The representatives signing this document vow to vote against any bill raising the debt ceiling unless it has devastating cuts, spending caps, and an amendment to the Constitution (which requires a two-thirds majority vote in both the House and Senate) that would require a balanced budget. And all this in five days before the deadline of disaster.

Tea Party freshmen have consistently said that they don’t care if they get re-elected, that they are being obstructionist because that’s what they promised when they ran. Yet they drink the Kool-Aid given to them by these organization that provide them with millions in campaign funds. “Congress has proven itself incapable of responsibly handling taxpayers’ dollars so constraints need to be placed on the government to get our fiscal house in order,” Club for Growth said in a statement. “The conditions in this pledge help achieve that.” Obviously the conservative organizations believe that Tea Party members can’t be trusted to vote for cuts without their signature on a pledge.

Rep. Mike Lee (R-UT) is an example of this craziness. Interviewer Chris Matthews asked him, “You want the Democratic Senate, by a two-thirds vote, to pass a constitutional amendment or you want the house to come down?” Lee responded, “Yes. That’s exactly what I’m saying and I’ve been saying this for six months.” Part of what Lee would write into the Constitution is that every single senior would lose one quarter of their Social Security and Medicare benefits. And that’s just one example.

Lee isn’t the only person who “wants the house to come down.” Donald Trump speaks for many conservatives when he said on Fox & Friends that if the GOP wants to ensure that President Barack Obama isn’t re-elected, all it has to do is not make any deals with Democrats and default on Aug. 2. These are the people who are in almost total control of what has been the greatest country in the world.

Mark Meckler, leader of the Tea Party Patriots and one of the organizations pushing the pledges, just wants spending cuts but has no suggestions of how to do it: “It’s not the job of individuals or outside organizations” to decide what cuts to make. His attitude toward a total refusal to raise the debt ceiling shows how far from reality the far-right folk are. When asked if he’s worried about defaulting on the country’s loans, he replied, “It’s irresponsible for anyone to talk about defaulting on our obligations because we’re not going to unless we choose to.” According to his “logic,” the country has no money because Congress will not raise the debt ceiling, but the country will pay their debts.

Boehner is much closer to that touch with reality when he told conservative radio host Laura Ingraham that some conservatives refusing to a compromise debt ceiling agreement are hoping to unleash “chaos” to force bigger concessions out of the White House and the Senate Democrats. At least he understands that failure to raise the debt ceiling would be devastating and the “chaos” plan will fail. “I think the closer we get to August the second, frankly, the less leverage we have vis a vis our colleagues in the Senate and the White House,” he said.

No matter how hard Speaker of the House Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) has tried to get his rampaging mustangs into some sort of order, they won’t follow his lead despite the fact the House has historically been much easier to herd than the senators. In fact, these next few days may take Boehner from his position. The Tea Party Nation and Patriot members want to replace him. Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) has been salivating to get the position, but the Tea Party prefers someone like Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) or Rep. Peter King (R-NY).

The hardest argument to swallow in this mess is the comparison of family and government, the idea that because a family has to pay all its bills so should the government have massive damaging cuts. People don’t see the flaws in this false comparison. First, in raising the debt ceiling Congress is actually deciding whether to pay its bills, not whether to increase its spending. It had already increased the expenditures. Families don’t sit around and decide whether they plan to pay their rent or their electric bill—or whether to buy any food. Second, if families need more money, they tend to get a second or third or fourth job. But the conservatives are blocking all additional revenue—no extra jobs.

Conservatives are fond of comparing government to business, a far more practical comparison in this case. “Typical businesses borrow money and they never pay it off,” said Dean Baker, the co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. He added that a corporate board would think a CEO was crazy if he announced that while the company lost money, it had paid off its debt. And all business leaders know that spending money is required in order to make more money, a philosophy that worked very well for Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton. On the other hand, George W. Bush’s tax cuts led the country into an almost-disastrous recession, and the continuation of them put the nation headed back into the same hole.

Conservatives can’t even get away with saying that they are doing this “for the American people” because those “people” want a mix of tax hikes and spending cuts with a compromise between Democrats and Republicans. In his summary of the polls, Mark Blumenthal said that “the surveys all show Americans expressing significantly more confidence and trust in President Obama’s handling of the issue than of either the Republican or Democratic leadership in Congress.”

Sad to say, the Democrats have caved to almost all the conservative demands . Starting with three-fourths cuts and one-fourth additional revenue, their latest proposal has no additional revenue. No getting rid of the government sugar daddy payments to big business and the rich. The two big points of contention are that the conservatives want a balanced-budget amendment—instantly—and the chance to come back in six months to argue about why they won’t raise the debt ceiling again. In the six months since Boehner took his Speaker position, the House has passed 12 bills compared with 558 during Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s 48 months. Fighting about the debt ceiling for over a month every six months would completely stymie any government progress.

Meanwhile the lobbyists are suffering. No Congressional bills, no revenue for them. All they could hope for was a major restructuring of the tax code, and that’s off the table right now.

Some of the “people” are now calling for representatives and senators to stop receiving pay checks until this is settled. It’s all about money; maybe that would stop the incessant politicking with no concern for the lives of U.S. citizens.

July 27, 2011

Media Concept of Terrorist in Norway

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 5:12 PM

United States reaction to the bombing of a government building and killings of a youth camp in Norway:

First: It’s a radical Muslin militant!

Second: The person was blond, blue-eyed, and fair-skinned: he was disguised!

Third: Well, it was a far-right Christian man, but you need to watch out for those Muslim terrorists! (Oh yes, and the right-wing Christian did this horrible thing because he was insane.)

As the conservatives consider profiling to search for terrorist, perhaps they would want to profile tall, blond Nordic-looking people or look at right-wing Christian fanatics. But probably not.

Conservatives, including Fox News Host Bill O’Reilly, are “appalled” that the media would refer to the killer as “Christian.” O’Reilly denied that the man could possibly be Christian. “That’s impossible,” he said. “No one believing in Jesus commits mass murder. The man might have called himself a Christian on the net, but he is certainly not of that faith.” (So the people who kill doctors who perform abortions can be Christians because they murder only one person at a time?)

July 26, 2011

Tea Party Needs to Grow Up

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 12:14 PM

As an adolescent, I admired the philosophy of Ayn Rand because of her independence. What teenager doesn’t want independence! But Tea Party leaders are past their teenage years, and they are worshipping at the trough of her beliefs.

Republican budget leader Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) says Rand is his guide. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) claims her Atlas Shrugged is his “foundation book.” Rep. Michelle Bachman (R-MN), presidential candidate, uses Rand’s term “collectivism” to justify her wanting to kill social programs. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas requires his law clerks to watch The Fountainhead. Fox News and conservative blogs promote Rand. Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh started pushing Rand years ago although Beck is getting a bit wary of her. Alan Greenspan implemented her ideas before the housing bubble crashed and he figured out he was wrong.

So what is the recent political result of Rand’s “on your own” philosophy praising the wealthy and discarding the rest? Ryan tried to destroy Medicare, punishing seniors while at the same time trying to raise debts by over $1 trillion in the next ten years because of increased tax cuts for the wealthy. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has said that his primary goal is to destroy President Obama and has blocked every major jobs program for more than two years. Eric Cantor stomps out of the debt-ceiling talks like—a teenager!

What exactly is the philosophy of this woman who died in 1982? She glorifies Nietzsche’s Ubermensch, the superman who need not be concerned by “the ordinary man.” Adolf Hitler’s Master Race theories came from this superman philosophy: ego-deification, social Darwinism, arbitrary stratification of human types. Thus capitalism gives license to those who own nearly everything to take the rest, because they can.

Early in her writings Rand became fascinated with a serial killer named William Hickman and wrote that he was an “ideal man,” a superior form of human because he didn’t let society impose their morals on him. Although Hickman dismembered a 12-year-old girl,Rand admired his sociopathic qualities: “Other people do not exist for him, and he does not see why they should.” She wrote that Hickman had “no regard whatsoever for all that society holds sacred, and with a consciousness all his own. He has the true, innate psychology of a Superman. He can never realize and feel ‘other people.'”

This woman worshipped by Ryan, Thomas, etc. was actually a pacifist who opposed the Vietnam War, a feminist (although she hated the term) who supported abortion, an adulteress who preached free love, a bohemian who ridiculed family life and child-bearing, an elitist who sneered at the common man, and, after all her “nanny state” rhetoric, a recipient of Social Security and Medicare and a convert to socialized medicine because of her personal needs.

In Rand’s ideology, religious faith was “a sign of psychological weakness,” a sniveling retreat from the hardheaded, self-centered “objectivism” that she had her heroes impose on the world. She rejected Jesus and his gospels because Christ’s message that the poor are blessed and the meek will inherit the earth is antithetical toRand’s belief that the poor and meek are no more than garbage. Rand’s solution to a problem was to blow it up–literally.

Those conservatives who worship at the foot of Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead also probably don’t realize what she would think of them. She rejected Libertarians as “emotional hippies of the right.” Opposing Ronald Reagan, she said, “His likeliest motive for entering the Presidential race is power lust.” Although she believed in extremely limited government, she also said, “Government ‘help’ to business is just as disastrous as government persecution.” And she did most of her writing while on amphetamines and nicotine.

This is the person who Tea Partiers follow. Like many teenagers in their first year of college, freshmen Congressmen act as if this is the first time that they have left home, eager to sign pledges like good little first-year fraternity boys. They have so much ego that they have no common sense or decency. Rep. Allen West (R-FL) is a prime example. He’s 50 years old but takes a debate on the House floor personally when Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL) disagrees with his position on Medicare and dashes back an email calling her “vile, unprofessional, and despicable.” Like all the other Tea Party conservatives, West needs to grow up and heed Rand’s statement: “Upper classes are a nation’s past; the middle class is its future.”

July 24, 2011

Quotes from Conservatives

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 1:57 PM

“Would you rather reduce deficits and interest rates by raising revenue from those who are not now paying their fair share? Or would you rather accept larger budget deficits, higher interest rates, and higher unemployment?”–President Ronald Reagan [This quote describes Reagan’s support for raising the debt ceiling. Today’s conservatives brag on being Reaganites; in this case they need to follow his lead.]

“If English was good enough for Jesus Christ, it’s good enough for the children of Texas.”–Texas Gov. Miriam “Ma” Ferguson [Although she may not have initiated this statement, she used it during her leadership of Texas in the 1920s and 1930s in opposing the teaching of foreign language in schools.]

“Board of Education of Texas Approves Evolution Materials”–Newspaper Headline [Normally this policy would be a no-brainer, but in Texas it’s revolutionary. Of course, it may be overturned when new people are elected to the state school board.]

“God designed our eyes to be attracted to the woman’s body.”–Marcus Bachmann [The husband of Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann claims that he doesn’t teach “gay reparative therapy”–sort of a “pray the gay away” approach–but he certainly opposes homosexuality.]

July 23, 2011

Conservatives Block Obama’s Appointments

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 9:26 PM

As if there isn’t enough chaos while Republicans block the raising of the debt ceiling and FAA’s operating authority, they also insist on dragging their feet over having a director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Although there was broad bipartisan acceptance of President Obama’s decision to keep Robert Mueller III as FBI director for another two years past his ten-year term, Senate Republicans keep causing trouble. First, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) objected on constitutional grounds and wanted Obama to nominate him for a special new term so that the Senate could work through their confirmation process. Obama did that.

Then Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) invoked a senate member’s right to block a vote, refusing to lift this block until he personally met with Mueller. After the meeting, during which he asked questions that had already been answered ad infinitum, he said that he would lift the block. The Senate actually voted on the two-year term extension last Thursday; the vote now goes to the House. But this vote doesn’t confirm Mueller; the bill just says it’s okay to confirm. Then the senate has to go through the confirmation process.

Mueller was appointed by a Republican president. With leadership changes for both the Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency, stability at the FBI would be a bonus. Paul is known for grandstanding: he blocked the vote on reauthorizing the Patriot Act until hours before they were to expire. (Although that may have been a good thing!) Because Obama was not in the country when Congress finally passed that bill, he had to “sign” the bill into law by directing an aide to run his signature through a White House autopen machine, causing more criticisms from anti-Obama folk.

Technically Mueller’s term ends on September 3, but a legal team has determined that his last day without a term extension is August 2 because George W. Bush signed his appointment on Aug. 3, 2011. August 2 seems to be a busy day for endings—like the debt ceiling. By that time, the House has to take two votes on Mueller and the Senate needs another one vote unless they can’t agree and toss the bill back and forth.

Mueller’s appointment is only one of many nominees that the Republicans block or ignore or reject because they’re waiting to get a Republican president. They’re not even subtle about this reason; some of the senators have openly stated this.

Republicans have continually fought the possibility of Elizabeth Warren as chair of the Consumers Financial Protection Bureau although, to be honest, they declared that they would not confirm anyone until all the agency’s power was removed. (Obama has now made another nomination for that position; we can take bets on how months it takes for the senate to drive him away.)

A group of 44 senators has also promised to block any commerce secretary or other trade official until they have free trade agreements with South Korea, Panama, and Colombia. “Creating jobs,” nominee John Bryson said in a hearing, “will be my relentless focus” as Commerce secretary. Evidently Republicans aren’t interested in creating jobs.

Republican senators use confirmations as blackmail. Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), the man who illegally procured prostitutes before he got caught and then elected to another term, blocked a vote on the head of the Fish and Wildlife Service until the government granted 15 deepwater drilling permits. He got them. Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) blocked the nominee until the Interior Department backed down on its order to identify and protect swaths of land with wilderness characteristics. That happened. Then Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) wanted a review of the protected status of wolves before he would lft his block. After a seven-month wait, Dan Ashe was confirmed on July 4. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) blocked the nominee for the head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Last year’s nominee failed Senate confirmation, so President Obama nominated a new person this year.

Unfilled judge positions are just as bad if not worse. Nearly one in seven judgeships is unoccupied, and more than a third of those vacancies are considered judicial emergencies–which means that criminal defendants, who are normally guaranteed a trial within 70 days, wait up to six months. Only 62 percent of his choices for district judge have been confirmed, compared to 74 percent of George W. Bush’s and 86 percent of Bill Clinton’s. There are currently 57 pending appointments in the Senate leaving 36% of the vacant posts without an appointment. So far this year there have been 29 confirmations.

Republicans blame Obama because he’s made appointments for fewer than half of the existing vacancies. They say they can’t confirm nominees who haven’t been chosen. It seems that they also can’t confirm nominees who have been chosen. It’s no wonder that Washington is totally dysfunctional.

July 22, 2011

Conservatives Block Revenue, Jobs

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 10:04 PM

The conservatives not only walked out on negotiations today about raising the debt ceiling but also rejected collecting revenue and forced people to lose their jobs—all because of their petty approach toward colleagues.

The issue was the extension of the Federal Aviation Administration’s operating authority which expires at midnight today. When long-term authority for the FAA expired in 2007, conservatives refused to allow this long-term operating authority unless FAA members were refused union rights. Only 8 percent of the private sector are still allowed to belong to unions so the rich-people-supporters spend our time (when they’re not complaining about energy-efficient light bulbs) guaranteeing that public workers’ rights will be eliminated. Without this long-term operating authority, Congress had to keep giving extensions to the FAA—20 during the past four years, an average of five times each year.

By not renewing the operating authority, the country forfeiting $2 million each week because it won’t be collecting taxes that include the 7.5 percent ticket tax; a separate excise tax of $3.70 per segment, or a takeoff and landing; a $16.30 tax on international arrivals and departures; and a 6.25 percent tax on freight shipments. Airlines can collect the passenger security fee of $2.50 per segment and the “passenger facility charge,” or PFC, of up to $18 per round trip, which helps pay for local airport projects. Some people (not me!) might say that $2 million a week isn’t much money, but it amounts to almost $1 billion each month—every month. This inaction doesn’t mean you can get cheaper airline tickets: some airline companies such as U.S. Airways Group are simply raising prices to match what they would be if you had to pay taxes.

More loss for the country comes from not renewing FAA’s operating authority. Almost 4,000 employees will be “put on furlough,” meaning they have no jobs. Furloughed employees include engineers, administrative assistants and computer specialists but not air traffic controllers. Other jobs will also disappear because $2.5 billion in airport construction projects will immediate come to a halt. Companies who provide materials for the projects will lose money as well as more employees. Thanks to Congress, there’s more trickle-down-poverty. (Where are the jobs, Mr. Boehner?)

Because they passed a bill to keep the FAA funded through September 16, a generous 60 days, conservatives in the House may blame the Senate. This is where the pettiness ties in. Author of that bill, Rep. John Mica (R-FL), chair of the House transportation committee, added a provision restricting subsidies to small airports in 13 rural communities, including towns inNevada, home state of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid; West Virginia, whose senior senator is Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller; and Montana, whose senior senator, Max Baucus, chairs the Finance Committee. Is it obvious that all three of these senators are Democrat? And that Mica is a Republican?

Baucus and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) backed extension legislation without the rural airports language, but Republicans blocked that bill from a floor vote. Mica must have been looking in mirror when he ranted about Congress’s inability to pass the FAA extension: “Our nation’s aviation system cannot operate effectively under the Senate’s ongoing political gamesmanship.” He continued, “Clearly, some in the Senate have made a political decision to put special interest labor provisions above the safety of our nation’s aviation system.” He should have added “House” because they are initially to blame.

The earliest the issue can be taken up again is on Monday, when the Senate next meets.

July 21, 2011

U.S. Already Spent the Money!

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 5:49 PM

Ten years ago, Dad had an automobile accident and needed a new car. Although he and Mom did the budget together, he bought an expensive one and didn’t bother to put the car’s expenditure into the budget. They hadn’t been married for long, but he figured that they had the money because their combined salaries were enough for them to live on if they used some of Mom’s savings.

He loved the new car so much that he decided to get an RV. He got his sons and wife to agree but, again, didn’t tell them how much it would be and didn’t put it into the budget. As the years moved on, both his and Mom’s salaries shrank, and he had more problems paying for the RV. They ended up increasing their debt each year.

When Dad died in 2008, Mom married again, this time someone who thought that they needed to pay off the debts that Dad had acquired. Unfortunately, the sons thought they were wrong. They wanted to keep the money themselves and not use it for the debt that Dad and Mom had acquired during the eight years that they were married. Now the sons have flat-out refused to pay any of their debts, even with an impending foreclosure.

And that’s the problem with the current debt ceiling crisis. Dad’s sons (Republicans) think that they should not have to pay Dad’s debts; Mom (Democrats) understand that, ethically, she should pay these debts. And we’re almost to the foreclosure deadline.

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