Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The truth is one of the first casualties of Obama Derangement Syndrome

Mark Twain once said "a lie will travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes."  In the world of the conservative blogosphere, now the lie makes it way all the way around the world and back again in that same period of time.

The latest example of this is the rumor that the number for information on the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is 1800FUCKYOU.  Hold on to your seats Obama haters, it aint true.

Buzz and I were having breakfast this morning while discussing the hot draft prospects in the WNBA, when we overheard a few customers talking to a waitress.  They told her that the number for Obamacare information is 1800FUCKYOU.  The waitress was a bit incredulous, but decided to give it a try. 

She called the number, and lo and behold, she got a message that said "press one for Obamacare."  It was enough to convince her, but like most of the crap fed to us by the right wing and suffers of Obama Derangement Syndrome (ODS,)  it just isn't true.

Buzz looked up from his WNBA fantasy cheat sheet and said.  "Excuse me, what did they use the phrase Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act?'

"Obamacare," was her reply.

Buzz went on to explain that the federal government does not refer to the Affordable Care Act as Obamacare.  It refers to the Act by its real name --- The Affordable Care Act.  Obamacare is the shorthand name given to it by the media, the right wing, or who really knows who first termed the phrase. 

One of the customers thought for a minute, and said, "that handsome gentleman in the tweed jacket and turtle neck is right."  Since I was wearing a Nehru jacket, I realized she was referring to Buzz and his Obamacare comment and not my overall choice for first pick in the WNBA draft.

When we got back to the VW Microbus, Buzz powered up the Univac 3000 to do a little research.

He found a article. Those who may be unfamiliar with should know that is a website dedicated to debunking or proving urban legends, myths, rumors, misinformation, and folklore

Here's what they found:

Although 800-318-2596 is the correct phone number for the Health Insurance Marketplace customer service line, and turning its digits into letters as they are found on telephone keypads does produce the phrase 800-FUCKYO (among many other possibilities.)  Of course, it only works by ignoring the "1," because standard keypads have no letters on the "1."

Technically, the 800-318-2596 phone number cannot correctly be rendered as 800-FUCKYO because that designation omits the essential '1' digit between the '3' and '8' and therefore does not represent an accurate phone number for the Health Insurance Marketplace hotline (or a valid phone number at all). A correct rendering of the phone number would be the somewhat less salacious 1-800-F1UCKYO.

Additionally, the 800-318-2596 phone number wasn't selected by the current administration, as it has been used as a toll-free government number for providing information about Medicare plans since at least as far back as 1999.

The current assignee of the 1-800-FUCKYOU number (a phone sex line) has now updated their initial recording greeting with a message asking callers to indicate whether or not they are calling about Obamacare.

Sorry we had to debunk this myth for our friends who suffer from ODS and all those innocent people who were duped by another ODS pipedream.

But, alas, there is still hope for ODS suffers, according to Buzz's research on the Univac 3000, the Obamacare death panels have decreed that ODS is a covered affliction under Obamacare, even if it is a pre-existing condition before you sign up for insurance.  There is one catch, however, treatment is long term "in-patient" at the FEMA internment camps.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

PA Governor Tom "Frank Drebin" Corbett strikes again with brother/sister marriage comment

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett has done it again.  He has shown us why Buzz and I believe that he may be , in reality, Detective Frank Drebin from Police Squad.

There has always been the physical resemblance, but his latest comments show a keen mental resemblance, too.

Corbett was on WHP-TV in Harrisburg when an anchor asked about a statement his lawyers made in a recent court filing, comparing the marriage of gay couples to the marriage of children because neither can legally wed in the state.

"It was an inappropriate analogy, you know," Corbett said. "I think a much better analogy would have been brother and sister, don't you?"

Pennsylvania is the only Northeastern state that does not recognize same sex marriage, and as long as Governor Frank Drebin is in office, the law won't change from the Executive branch of the government.

Fortunately for supports of same sex marriage, a number of law suits are pending in Pennsylvania state and federal courts.  Change will be coming.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Give it a rest GOP!!!!!!!

Guess what Republican Party?  We know you hate Obamacare, but now it's time to use your health insurance to seek a mental health professional.

It has often been said that the definition of insanity is "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result."  It's true, Buzz looked it up over a thousand times and came up with the same result.  The jury is still out on whether that proves Buzz is sane or insane.

Well, the House Republicans have attempted to repeal all or part of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) about 43 times.  Each time, the bill they passed never made it to the floor of the United States Senate, where even if it did, it was doomed to defeat.  None of this stopped the House GOP.

Now, the GOP controlled House has added a twist --- they will shut down the government in their never ending attempt to derail Obamacare.  Their obsession hasn't just been limited to the House of Representatives.  It has found its way to the United States Senate.

Last week, Texas Senator Ted Cruz rambled on for 21 plus hours, quoting from Dr. Seuss, among other bizarre things, in a pseudo-filibuster.  The Ted Cruz show captured the attention of all the suffers of Obama derangement syndrome (an affliction which causes Republicans to blame Barack Obama for everything that goes bad, regardless of whether Obama was responsible for it or even if the "thing" isn't really bad.)

The facts are simple:  The House and Senate passed Obamacare by majority votes, and it was signed into law by President Barack Obama.  Then after a couple of years of Republicans crying foul and claiming that Obamacare was clearly unconstitutional, the United States Supreme Court ruled, in an opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts, that Obamacare did indeed pass constitutional muster.

In addition to having been approved by all three branches of government, the American people weighed in in 2012, when they handed Obama a clear victory over the anti-Obamacare candidate Mitt Romney.

Give it a rest!  If the law is so terrible, just let it go into full effect and then hammer Obama and the Democrats for its utter failure.  Now that's a great election issue.  The problem is that the failure of Obamacare will only exist in the world of Obama Derangement Syndrome sufferers.  Obamacare, like Medicare and Social Security is here to stay, yeah it may be modified and improved, but it is here to stay.

The GOP's real fear brings them back to reality.  They fear, more than anything, that Obamacare will be an unqualified success.  All the fear mongering will prove to be unwarranted. 

The world will not end with the full implementation of Obamacare.  People who have private insurance or Medicare or Medicaid will keep doing what they're doing, but thirty plus million Americans will have health insurance for the first time in their lives. 

Just as it did in the Social Security debate of the 1930s and the Medicare debate of the 1960s, the GOP is on the wrong side of history. 

Message to the GOP, GIVE IT A REST.  Stop trying to get rid of Obamacare, and start proposing laws that will improve the faults of the law. 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Perhaps Cruz should listen to Sam-I-Am

Would you like Obamacare in a box?
Would you like Obamacare with a fox?

Not in a box.
Not with a fox.
Not in a house.
Not with a mouse.
I would not like it here or there.
I would not like anywhere.
I would not like Obamacare.
I do not like it, Sam-I-amacare.

For a well educated guy like United States Senator Ted Cruz, you would think he woulda realized that "Green Eggs and Ham" has a happy resolution for the obstinate character who protests a bit too much.

The Texas junior Senator spent 20 plus hours on the Senate floor this week telling the American people about the evils of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and ironically talked about the Dr. Seuss classic "Green Eggs and Ham."  Perhaps Cruz didn't see the irony, because like the character who goes on and on about his dislike for Green Eggs and Ham without trying it, Cruz did the same about a program that hasn't even gone into effect. 

Buzz and I strongly believe that the majority of Americans who have been fed constant attacks on Obamacare over the past 4 years will, like Green Eggs and Ham, come to love the program once it is fully implemented.

The Republican and Tea Party war on Obamacare has often crossed the line between reasoned debate and delusiondom many times.  The United States House of Representatives has voted 41, maybe 42 times to repeal all are part of Obamacare over the last two and a half years.  They continue to do this despite the fact that The United States Senate has no even entertained a vote on one of their 41 or 42 pieces of legislation, and even if the Seante acts, President Barack Obama would never sign a bill that guts his siganture achievement.

We heard about "death panels," sky rocketing premiums, job losses, loss of quality of care, doctors who will retire or high tail it out of the country, socialism, socialized medicine, loss of every freedom guaranteed under the constitution, comparisons to Hitler and Nazi Germany, comparisons to Marx, Lenin, Castro, Mao, and a whole bunch of right or left wing dictators, and of course our favorite "I don't want the government getting in between me and my doctor."

We agree with Steven Colbert who said "We don't want government getting in between us and our doctors, that's the insurance company's job."

We heard the same worn out arguments 48 years ago when Ronald Reagan preached against the evils of "socialized medicine" which would ensue when Congress passsed Medicare.  Medicare has become one of the most popular and efficiently run government programs ever.  And, guess what, it was the right thing to do. 

The system we have now downright sucks, and Ted Cruz and all of the Republicans have not come forward with any solutions to get healthcare for the 40 plus million who don't have it or to control the skyrocketing costs of healthcare. 

Yes we have some of the best healthcare in the world, but that is only if you can afford it.  For those millions of Americans who don't have healthcare insurance, their "primary care doctor" is the emergency room, and many times they delay going to the emergency room until a simple condition which could have easily been resolved by a primary care doctor, becomes necessitous of expensive medical care.

Obamacare is certainly not perfect, but to the Tea Partiers and Ted Cruz, how can you rant up and down about a program you haven't even "tried."  Next time, Senator Cruz, read the rest of the book before you go on quoting it.  Sometimes the endings will surprise you.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Pope Francis may make being Catholic kool again

Buzz and I may actually go back to church this week, and Pope Francis is the reason.

For years and years, in fact as long as we can remember the Catholic church has bitched about abortion, contraceptives, and homosexuals. Buzz and I sorta agree with the late, great, former Nixon Secretary of Agriculture Earl Butz.  When asked about Pope Paul VI's position (no pun intended) on various sexual matters such as birth control and pre-marital sex, Butz responded in a mock Italian accent, "He no playa the game, he no maka the rules."

Now, our new Pope, Francis says the church should back off on beating up the flock over abortion, contraceptives, and gay marriage.  It's no longer kool in the Pope Francis' eyes to damn people to hell if they vote for an elected official who supports a woman's right to choose or believes in marriage equality for gays and lesbians. Whether it will work its way down to your local parish remains to be seen.

Francis said, "The church sometimes has locked itself up in small things, in small-minded rules, The most important thing is the first proclamation: Jesus Christ has saved you. And the ministers of the church must be ministers of mercy above all."

One of the problems with Francis' change in direction is the fact that almost all the Cardinals and Bishops in the Catholic Church throughout the world is the fact that they were appointed to their positions by either John Paul II or Benedict XVI.  Both of these guys believed in a non-bending and very conservative Catholic church.  Their position was "love it or leave it."  If you don't tow the line, don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out of Saint Paul's Cathedral.

We really hope and pray that the 76 year old pontiff lives 'til 100 and is healthy in mind and body.  That way, Francis will be able to appoint like minded individuals as the new bishops and new cardinals.  These men, and hopefully in a short time, women, will be able to enthusiastically institute the changes in attitude and policy set forth by Francis.

Francis has emphasized that the church should focus on helping those who are less fortune --- the poor, the uneducated, the disabled, etc. in a sense, believing the only reason to look down on anyone is to offer them a helping hand to get up.  This is the type of church of which Buzz and I would be proud to be members.

Gotta get to mass.... more in the future.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Can the GOP be a relevant national party again

Having lost the popular vote in five out of the last six elections, things aren't exactly rosy for the GOP.  The Grand Old Party just aint what it used to be, and things aren't looking any brighter in the near future.

Yesterday, the Republicans did their Don Quixote impression for the 40th time when the House voted, yet again, to repeal all or part of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare.)  Their action is only symbolic, because their measure won't even make it on the Senate calendar, and even if it did President Barack Obama would be sure to veto any bill that attempts to destroy his signature accomplishment.

The votes to repeal Obamacare are emblematic of the GOP's problem, they are all symbolic and with no substance.  We get it, GOP, you hate Obamacare, but just saying "no" is not a governing philosophy.

The only reason the GOP still even controls the House is, because they used their control of various state legislatures to gerrymander districts to disproportionately represent their true support across those states.  Pennsylvania is the perfect example.

Despite more than 100,000 Pennsylvanians voting for Democratic Congressional candidates in 2012, The GOP outnumber Democrats in the Pennsylvania delegation 13 to 5.  Pennsylvania is not alone.  Nationwide, the Democrats outpolled the GOP by just under a million votes, yet the Republicans won 34 more seats.

While the GOP can stack the deck in their favor in the House, the same is not true in the Senate, unless the GOP is successful in repealing the 17th Amendment which provides for the direct election of United States Senators.  There has been some clamor among the more virulent GOPers to return to the day when the State Legislatures selected Senators.  Then the GOP would control the Senate.

One of the major problems the GOP faces is hero worship by its base of the rhetoric of Ronald Reagan.  Reagan ranted against big government and high taxes.  He also paid lip service to many of the social conservative issues.  Unfortunately for the GOP, rhetoric of the 1980s doesn't play well in the second decade of the 21st Century.

The American people have become comfortable with the entrenched social welfare programs which the GOP have been fighting since the Presidency of Franklin Roosevelt. They also want their roads paved and their bridges repaired, and they realize that all government regulation is not bad.  It turns out that clean air and water and food you can eat that doesn't kill you are popular things.

The demographics are also killing the GOP.  The GOP has become a party of old, white men, and that demographic has been becoming a smaller and smaller part of the electorate. Women, the young, and most minorities are voting more and more Democratic and conservative Ronald Reagan rhetoric isn't going to win many votes in these fast growing demographic areas.

The average age of FOX news (the propaganda arm of the GOP) viewers is 66 years old, and their viewership among the 25 to 55 viewing demographic has dropped dramatically. As PoliticUSA put it, "In the long term Fox execs have to figure out some way to get non-senior citizens to watch or the network’s viewership will literally die off. Fox News either has to attract younger viewers, or hope that advancements in medical science push the average life expectancy to 90."

Throughout the history of the United States, political parties have reinvented themselves and risen from the ashes, but other parties have faded into the dustbin of history.  At their current pace, the GOP looks like reinvention is not the preferred option.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Worse than Watergate, yeah right!

During the Nixon Presidency, Sir Richard compiled an "Enemies List."  He then used the power of the federal government, including the IRS to come down hard on the inhabitants of this list.  Any comparisons to the current Obama "scandals" pales by the Nth degree.


It seems like every committee and sub-committee in the House is investigating the September 11, 2012 attack on the US Diplomatic Mission.  Of course, investigating is used quite loosely here.  The major focus of the "investigations" is to try to pin something on Barack Obama and/or Hillary Clinton.

Then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said it best when she testified before a Senate Committee.

“With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night decided to go kill some Americans? What difference at this point does it make?   It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again.”

The Republicans are hell-bent on smearing Obama and Clinton and don't seem to be the least bit concerned about the very real issue of making sure such a screw up doesn't occur in the future.

As far as a cover up, just ask yourself, "what did Obama, Clinton, or anyone else have to gain by 'covering up' anything for a period of a few days?"  They didn't.  They were going with the information on hand at the time and corrected it as more information became available.

The Obama administration, unlike the Mitt Romney campaign didn't go off half-cocked and start throwing blame around.  Obama sent Ambassador Susan Rice out as a spokesperson for the administration using "talking points" which were assembled through the bureaucratic wranglings of a number of government agencies who were each defending their bureaucratic turf.  


It appears that some career Internal Revenue Service pencil pushers in Cincinnati, Ohio were overwhelmed by the influx of 501(c)(3)  applications.  (501(c)(3) refers to the IRS regulations governing non profit, tax exempt organizations which fall into one of the following categories:  Religious, Educational, Charitable, Scientific, Literary, Testing for Public Safety, to Foster National or International Amateur Sports Competition, or Prevention of Cruelty to Children or Animals Organizations.)

We have the United States Supreme Court to thank for this influx.

Note that "Political" entities are not including in this list of general welfare organizations.

A large number of these applications were really for political groups seeking the 501(c)(3) haven, and many of these groups were conservative groups associated with the "Tea Party."

Let's cut to the chase on this one, first, the groups targeted probably should have been targeted and get additional scrutiny, because there sole purpose tended to be the political objective of thwarting Obama and his agenda, and second, Obama had absolutely no involvement in the targeting.

Associated Press and leak investigations

The Justice department has come under fire for grabbing the Associated Press' emails and phone logs regarding terror plots, and other press entity emails, phone logs, and the like regarding leaks of confidential or classified materials.

The condemnation of the Justice Department actions have given rise to calls for Attorney General Eric Holder's head on a platter, but the Justice Department only resorted to such tactics after interviewing over 500 persons regarding the leak of information on a terror plot in Yemen.  The leak of information put a number of US government officials who were charged with uncovering such plots in danger.

Again, Obama had no direct involvement in any of these investigations.

Why Watergate and Nixon are sooooooooooo different

The major difference between Nixon and Obama is that Nixon personally ordered the government, particularly the IRS to his dirty work, and his actions were purely politically motivated to punish his enemies and gain political advantage for himself.  None of these "scandals" personally involve Obama or his inner circle plotting to destroy political enemies with the resources of the federal government.

Let's look at some of Nixon's "finest" moments.

We all know the Watergate story.  President Richard Nixon ordered the bugging of the Democratic Party headquarters, then dove through hoops, using all the government resources at his disposal, except the Pentagon, to try to cover it up when the "third rate burglary" went awry.  Here are some of his other gems.

On September 27, 1970, Nixon ordered Haldeman to get the IRS to investigate Ted Kennedy, who was then the presumed frontrunner in the 1972 presidential contest, sharing the field with Edmond Muskie and Hubert Humphrey, who Nixon also ordered audited.

Nixon personally put White House dirty trickster Tom Charles Huston in charge of setting up the new IRS "anti-radical squad" to make sure that the laggards in IRS's bureaucracy didn't drop the ball. Huston prepared a 43-page blueprint for Nixon outlining a government agency campaign targeting Nixon's enemies.

 The scheme included tapping phones without warrants, infiltrating organizations that had been critical of the President and, purging IRS agents who refused to tow the Republican line. Huston told the President, "we won't be in control of the government and in a position of effective leverage until such time or we have complete and total control of the top three slots" at the IRS. Nixon also enthusiastically authorized a series of "black bag jobs" including breaking into offices, homes and liberal think tanks like the Ford Foundation and the Brookings Institute which Nixon believed was home to many former Kennedy Administration officials.

On September 8, 1971, Nixon raged at his counsel and Chief Domestic Policy Advisor, John Ehrlichman, about the IRS's lack of progress on finding dirt on his enemies. "We have the power but are we using it to investigate contributors to Hubert Humphrey, to Muskie, and the Jews? You know they are stealing everybody....  Are we looking into Muskie's return? Hubert's? Hubert's been in a lot of funny deals. Teddy? Who knows about the Kennedys? Shouldn't they be investigated?"

On October 6, 1971, Nixon ordered H.R. Haldeman (his Chief of Staff) to have the IRS audit Los Angeles Times publisher Otis Chandler. "I want Otis Chandler's income tax," Nixon told Haldeman. Nixon then called his Attorney General and former law partner, John Mitchel, and ordered Mitchel to fire the Los Angeles Director of the Immigration and Naturalization Service. "The fellow out there in the Immigration Services is a kike by the name of Rosenberg." The President explained to Mitchel, "He is to be out."

Nixon told Mitchel, "I want you to direct the most trusted person you have in the Immigration Service to look at all the activities of the Los Angeles Times... let me explain as a Californian, I know everybody in California hires them... Otis Chandler... I want him checked with regard to his gardener. I understand he is a wetback. Is that clear?" When the Attorney General replied, "Yes, sir." Nixon crowed triumphantly, "We're going after the Chandlers! Every one, individually and collectively, their income taxes... every one of those sons of bitches." 

There's a lot more.  See Robert F. Kennedy's comparison of Obama to Nixon.

So the next time somebody says the Obama "scandals" are worse than Watergate or Nixon, tell them to hit the history books.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

College GOP focus group finds GOP "closed-minded, racist, rigid, old-fashioned."

In the ongoing saga of GOP election post mortems, the College Republicans (CRs) found that people think of the Grand Old Party as "closed-minded, racist, rigid, and old-fashioned."  Well, Buzz and I didn't need a focus group to come to the same conclusion.

See the full report.

To many people, particularly voters under 30, The Simpsons character  Montgomery Burns has come to symbolize the GOP.  It has become a party that will protect the interests of the privileged until its dying breath, which might be that long off in Presidential elections if they continue on the same path.  The CRs said the GOP is perceived as the party that will pat you on the back when you succeed, but won't help you get there.

And just as Mr. Burns lacks empathy and the self awareness to see how anyone could view the world differently, so does the modern Republican Party.  Karl Rove's meltdown on election night when the FOX News number crunchers called Ohio for President Barack Obama is a perfect example of the bubble in which much of the GOP lives.

Obama Derangement Syndrome

Many in the GOP suffer from Obama Derangement Syndrome (ODS).  ODS is the affliction which causes one to believe that everyone hates Obama and everything Obama does is evil.  This is the affliction that caused many GOPers to convince themselves, that despite all the independent polling which showed Obama ahead in almost every battleground state, that Romney would, as GOP guru Dick Morris predicted, gather more than 300 electoral votes and cruise to victory in 2012.  Well, for those who still didn't get the news, Obama won quite convincingly.  And, believe it or not, the polls were right.

It is not surprising that many in the GOP believed Romney would win, and win big.  After all, many in the GOP are enveloped in a world which feeds into their ODS.  There are two main ways the GOPers remain in this bubble.  They only associate with people who hold Obama in disdain, thereby reinforcing the belief that "everybody hates Obama,"  and they get their information solely from the propaganda wings of the GOP (talk radio and FOX News.)

GOP positions on social issues out of touch with younger voters

The GOP has also taken positions on particular social issues which turn young voters off.  The GOP is totally opposed to same sex marriage, whereas most recent polling shows over 70 percent of voters under 30 support gay marriage.   The GOP is also radically pro-life, calling for a constitutional amendment to ban all abortions, whereas only about 20 to 25 percent of voters under 30 agree with that position.

Another issue which the GOP totally missed the boat with young voters is Obamacare.  One of the first facets of Obamacare to be implemented was the ability of parents to keep their children on their health insurance policies until they are 26 years old.  The Republicans, instead of embracing this popular part of the program have voted 37 times in the House to repeal Obamacare.

The conclusion of the report is to slightly tweak the GOP positions to take the harshness away from them.  For example  to "focus on the economic issues that affect young people today: education, the cost of health care, unemployment," but does not say to embrace Obamacare.  The report says, "Don’t concede 'caring' and 'open-minded' to the left," but does not call for the outright backing of gay marriage.

The report also stresses the importance of contacting young voters where they are, to go seek them out to get the GOP message across.  This could work rather well if the GOP were "selling" something young people wanted to buy.  The problem is they are not.  It's not the message medium, it's the message.

Buzz's Dream

One issue near and dear to Buzz's heart is the legalization of marijuana, but the College GOP don't even mention it.  This is an issue which the GOP could really make some headway, no pun intended.  Grab onto the legalization issue and make it a freedom and fiscal issue. 

They can make it an individual liberty issue, without sacrificing any principles, the "get the government out of our lives" mantra.  It also becomes a fiscal issue, because instead of spending money on cops, courts, prisons, and more guards, money can be raised by taxing it.  (On the taxing side, this is where Buzz would join Grover Norquist.)

To quote Bob Dylan, "the times they are a changin'," and if the GOP doesn't change, it will become increasingly more irrelevant.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Party of Family Values elects Mark "Appalachian Trail" Sanford to Congress

The man who gave a whole new meaning to the phrase "Hiking the Appalachian Trail" is back.  Mark Sanford is about to become the newest member of Congress, having defeated Elizabeth Colbert Busch in a special election in South Carolina.  

Sanford, the sitting married Republican Governor of South Carolina at the time, came to fame in 2009, when he "disappeared" for about six days, telling staffers that he was hiking the Appalachian Trail.  It turns out that he was "hiking" an Argentinian woman. (He is now divorced and engaged to the woman.)

 Sanford censured, but not impeached

The Republican controlled legislature threatened impeachment, but decided instead to censure Sanford for dereliction of duty, official misconduct and abuses of power that “brought ridicule and dishonor to himself, the State of South Carolina, and to its citizens."

A lot of Republicans have raised the specter of Bill Clinton and his affair with Monica Lewinsky to rationalize their support for Sanford, however, the Sanford affair is a little different.  First of all, because the GOP is supposed to be the party of family values, not the party of affairs with Argentinian women or any women for that matter.

Secondly, as a result of the "Appalachian Hike" it came to light that Sanford was playing fast and loose with the public's dime.  The state's Ethics commission filed 37 charges against Sanford, including spending taxpayer money on business-class flights, using state aircraft for personal travel and spending campaign funds for non-campaign expenses.

Where's the family values party?

Has the GOP abandoned its family values platform and become more understanding and forgiving of individual flaws, or has our country become so politically divided that Republicans will elect an ethically challenged Republican over any Democrat.  We believe the later to be true. We now live in a country where party triumphs over character and all other issues.

Competitive districts are rare

20 years ago, there were over a hundred Congressional district which were considered competitive (a district where the winner's victory is fewer than 10 percentage points.) Today, that number is about 35.  That means that about 400 of the 435 districts are not even in play every two years.  These districts are either so heavily Republican that a Democrat doesn't stand a chance, or vice versa.

We can thank the gerrymandering of Congressional districts in the various states.  Originally, sort of an incumbent protection act, a number of GOP controlled legislatures have turned gerrymandering into an art form which tilts the field to ensure the election of more Republicans to Congress.

Pennsylvania is a prime example of this.  13 of 18 of Pennsylvania's Congressional districts are represented by Republicans, despite the fact that Democrats received over 100,000 more votes for Congressional candidates than Republicans.

The PA legislature created "super" Democratic districts to eat up Democratic votes.  Take Democratic Congressman Chaka Fattah of Philadelphia for example.  Since his first election in 1994, he has never received less than 86 percent of the vote in a general election.  Democratic Congressman Bob Brady also has never received less than 85 percent in a general election since 1998.

Part of this disparity across the country is due to the fact that a lot of Democrats tend to live in concentrated population centers (big cities,) while Republicans are more scattered, but GOP controlled legislatures have magnified these population concentrations to their advantages.  The existence of these super Democratic districts have allowed for the creation of relatively safe GOP districts in suburban and rural areas.

South Carolina's 1st district, the one Sanford now represents, used to be more Democratic, but the South Carolina legislature moved traditionally Democratic areas to Democratic Congressman Jim Clyburn's already safe Democratic district.

More competitive districts would benefit the nation

The problem with the loss of competitive districts is that we have lost the political center in Congress.  In districts that are not competitive, the more extreme candidates tend to win the primaries, and thus the general election.  There is no more to the center at any time, because in the 400 safe districts, you need not look for votes on the other side of the aisle.  There are enough partisans to help you cruise to victory.

This hyper-partisanship has destroyed compromise.  It doesn't help with conservative media portraying all Democrats as evil, America-hating, Socialistic, atheists hell-bent on destroying America as we know it.

We need more competitive districts through the country, because that is the only way we can get the Congress to do something productive and stop electing ethically challenged candidates the likes of Mark Sanford.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Milton Shapp announces exploratory committee for 2014 Governor's race

    OneVoteCounts has learned that the former late Governor of Pennsylvania Milton Shapp has formed an exploratory committee to test the waters for a run for Governor of Pennsylvania in 2014.  Poor polling numbers by current Governor Tom Corbett has opened the door for many Republicans and Democrats to consider taking on Corbett.
    Shapp has some major obstacles to overcome, the least of which is being dead.  Shapp also must get around the Pennsylvania Constitution which prohibits anyone from serving more than two terms as Governor.  Shapp was Pennsylvania's first two term Governor, being elected in both 1970 and 1976, after the change on term limits came about after the 1968 Constitutional Convention.
    "I believe Shapp has a lot going for him," said Marshall and Franklin University Political Science Merry Tadonna.  "First of all, even a dead Shapp has more personality than a live Senator Bob Casey. Secondly, he has eight years of executive experience. And, finally, since he currently resides underground, he has a unique perspective on Marcellus Shale."
    "I don't believe Article IV, Section 3 of the Pennsylvania Constitution (prohibiting persons from serving more than two terms) applies to me due to my lack of a pulse," Shapp said while addressing one of the hurdles he faces in being elected to a third term.
    "The fact that Governor Shapp died in 1994 may not be as big of an obstacle as it seems," said national political pundit Cames Jarville.  "We've have dead people in Pennsylvania voting for years.  Following in that tradition, I don't see any reason why we can't have deceased people being elected to office."
    Buzz has run the numbers and conducted an automated telephone poll last night.  Among likely voters, Shapp leads Corbett 38 to 34 percent, with a 32 percent margin of error.
    "Shapp's polling numbers are very encouraging, not only among the living," said Buzz,  "but he also out polls the late Governor Gifford Pinchot, the late Governor Samuel Pennypacker, and the late Governor Thomas Mifflin by significant margins."
    Only former Governor Tom Ridge has more favorable polling numbers than Shapp.  Ridge has not announced whether he will consider a third term, but said the Shapp run is "unusual."
    Dead people have been elected to office in Pennsylvania before, but most of them were alive when their names were placed on the ballot.  All of these elections involved the recently dead. 
    "I was a ground breaker in Pennsylvania, being the first two term Governor," Shapp said when asked about only recently dead people winning election.  "The fact that I've been dead for almost 20 years, would be truly ground breaking (no pun intended.)"
    Democrats throughout the Commonwealth have been enthusiastic about a Shapp run.  "Shapp started this eight year Democrat, eight year Republican trend (referring to the fact that Pennsylvania has alternated between eight years of a Democratic governor with eight years of a Republican governor, said a well known Pennsylvania Democrat. "Who better than Shapp to end that streak."   
    Calls to Governor Corbett's office for a response a possible Corbett-Shapp match up in 2014, were not returned at the time of posting.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Wayne La Pierre would never pass a background check

Buzz and I have come to the conclusion that the reason Executive Vice President of the NRA Wayne La Pierre is so opposed to background checks is that he'd never pass the mental health aspect of the check.  He did support background checks in 1999, but that was during has sane years.  Today, he is just plain nuts.
    Since I'm not much of a hunter, sportsman, or gun enthusiast, and my idea of self defense falls into the Monty Python's Holy Grail retreat, "run away!" I had to consult Buzz on this one.  Buzz is a lifetime NRA member and quite the small game hunter.  Like Mitt Romney, he hunts varmints.  He has quite the collection of stuffed squirrels, racoons, rabbits, and prairie dogs adorning his living room walls.

Newtown should have changed everything

    After the tragic deaths of 20 children and 6 adults in Newtown, Connecticut, public outrage seemed to finally be on the side of gun control.  Three areas seemed ripe for reform:  background checks for all gun sales (criminal record and mental health,) limits on magazine clips (probably 10 or so per clip,) and a renewal of the expired assault weapons ban.
    The mental illness poster child Wayne La Pierre is opposed to all of these. They all infringe on the outrageous profits of gun manufacturers which La Pierre is trying to protect..... Oh sorry, I meant they infringe on the precious Second Amendment right to bear arms which La Pierre is trying to protect.
Second Amendment

    For the sake of argument, let's assume that the US Supremes were right when they decided in a 5 to 4 vote that the Second Amendment includes an individual right to bear arms (despite the clear meaning of the clause protects a state "militia's" right to bear arms.) With this said, no right is absolute.  If it were, we wouldn't have libel and slander laws or laws preventing speech which calls for imminent violence or the violent overthrow of the United States government.  (Remember, the First Amendment says, in part, "Congress shall make no law" prohibiting freedom of speech.)
La Pierre's argument that the reasonable laws being proposed are an infringement on Second Amendment rights are the stuff that should cause all reasonable gun owners to take pause and question La Pierre's sanity.

The public wants new gun laws

    94 percent of Americans polled by CNN in January favor background checks, including over 70 percent of NRA members. 61 percent favor bans on semi-automatic weapons, yet La Pierre says "nyet."
    President Barack Obama continues to press for background checks, magazine limits, and an assault weapons' ban, but it is highly unlikely that the magazine limits or assault weapons ban will pass through Congress.  Background checks do have a chance.
    La Pierre's opposition to background checks is pure bullshit.  If the NRA supports the rights of law abiding citizens to own guns, how does a background check get in the way.  No one in their right mind wants violent criminals to possess a firearm of any kind.  The same goes with those who are mentally ill.  People like the Colorado theater killer, the Gabby Giffords gunman, and the Newtown shooter should never have been within a mile of a loaded weapon.
    With regards to the magazine limits, Buzz and I were listening to satellite radio today, and they read a message from a 57 year old lifelong hunter.  In Newtown, the killer shot about 150 rounds in about 6 minutes, this 57 year old avid hunter said, "I haven't shot 150 rounds in my lifetime."  Sorta brings home the point on magazine limits.  For what lawful purpose would anyone need a 30 round magazine.  Heck, when I went through basic training, my M-16 had only a twenty round clip, and our job was to actually kill people in battle.
   The final piece is the assault weapons ban.  We had an assault weapons' ban in the US for about ten years.  Originally passed in the mid 1990s by Congress and signed into law by President Bill Clinton, the ban was allowed to lapse under the Republican Congress and President George W. Bush in 2004.  (Yes, Bush's screw ups weren't only the war in Iraq, the war in Afghanistan, unnecessary tax cuts for the rich, running the economy into a ditch....)
    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid didn't even include the assault weapons' ban in his gun control bill, for fear that it could kill the background checks.  He did say it could be offered as an amendment to the bill.  Really?  Apparently too many Senators have been hanging out with La Pierre.

Time to wake up Congress

    It's time to wake up.  Congress needs to know that a good majority of the American people want new gun laws. 

   Republicans have been arguing against the new laws, in part, because they say we should enforce the laws already on the books.  Buzz and I agree, but there's no reason why we can't do both --- pass new laws and enforce the ones already out there.
    As for Wayne La Pierre, let's get him a mental health exam.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Will the GOP go the way of the Whigs

After losing the popular vote in 5 out of the last six elections and facing an electorate that just doesn't agree with a lot of their hard right policies, the Republican Party is hurting and may be headed down the road to marginalization at best or extinction at worst.  They may join the Whigs on the ash heap of history.
For about 30 years, the Whig Party was a major national political party in the United States.  They won two Presidential elections, one in 1840 with popular General William Henry Harrison, and one in 1848 with another popular general Zachary Taylor.  Both died in office.
In the 1850s, the party fell apart.  It was primarily replaced with the Republican Party, but many Whigs jumped ship and joined the Democrats or one of a number of smaller parties, including the Know Nothing Party and the Constitutional Union Party.  In fact by 1856, the party failed to nominate a standard bearer.
The major causes of the downfall of the Whig Party were a failure to keep the coalition of divergent views together and the issue of slavery.  Many Southern Whigs supported slavery, while Northern Whigs generally opposed it, at least the expansion of it beyond the Old South.
The Republican Party of today is facing its own crisis, primarily brought on by a drift to the conservative right.  There are no more moderate Republicans.  Moderate is a dirty word in the Republican Party.  It has come to take on the same bad connotations as "liberal."
This drift to the right is popular with the base, but has little to attract swing voters.  The great middle in this country that decides elections is okay with the fiscal conservative policies spouted by the GOP, but the GOP stance on women's issues, gay marriage, and immigration has turned off a substantial portion of the voters in the middle.
The Republican Party also faces a demographic problem.  The GOP has become the party of older white men.  The electorate is becoming browner and blacker and more female.  These are three groups that vote Democratic, and it appears the numbers will only get worse for the GOP.
The African American vote has been strongly Democratic for over a generation.  The Hispanic vote has dropped from around 40 percent for the GOP to about 25 percent.  The women's vote has switched from fairly even to about a 15 point edge for the Democrats.  All three of these groups are growing in numbers, with the Hispanic vote growing the fastest.
The National Republican Committee (NRC) conducted an "autopsy" on the 2012 election, and came to the obvious conclusion that they need to get a better percentage of the vote from these three groups.  The problem is they believe it is a failure to get their message across, and if they fine tune their message, these groups will flock to the GOP.
The NRC is dead wrong.  These groups have heard the GOP message loud and clear, and they don't like what the GOP is selling.  It's not the branding of the message that turns off these groups, it is the message.
A large percentage of these groups are totally turned off by the GOP's harsh stance on immigration, their attempts to suppress the African American vote, and their 1950s attitude towards women. Hispanics favor some sort of amnesty and path to citizenship for undocumented aliens, African Americans want to be able to vote without facing Jim Crow type hurdles at the polls, and women don't want the government interfering with decisions they make on their own bodies.
If the GOP doesn't break free from the stranglehold of the conservatives and religious right, they will join the Whigs on the ash heap of history.  We won't see a one party state, but it may take a while for a new party, more moderate than the GOP, to challenge the grand Democratic coalition.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Will the Roberts Court end up on the right side of history?

In 1857, Chief Justice Roger Taney wrote for a 7-2 majority in the case of Dred Scott v. Sanford.  The Taney court basically held that persons of African descent were not citizens of the United States under the Constitution. 
     Taney and his court will forever be remembered for that one case and for coming down on the wrong side of history.
     This week the John Roberts United States Supreme Court heard two cases involving same sex marriage.  Will the Roberts court come down on the right side of history, or will the Roberts court end up on the trash heap of history next to Roger Taney?
     Public opinion has come a long way since Congress passed the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in the mid 1990s.  It has also come a long way since Karl Rove, et. al. decided to use gay marriage as a wedge issue in the 2004 Presidential campaign.

Public Opinion has changed dramatically 

     In 1996, only 27 percent believed that gay marriage should be legal.  In 2004, about 33 percent believed gay marriage should be legal. A Washington Post poll conducted earlier this month showed that support for gay marriage had risen to 58 percent, with most recent polling showing support for gay marriage above 50 percent.
     What is even more compelling is the fact that the generational divide on this issue is enormous.  Where the Washington Post poll showed that only 44 percent of respondents over 65 supported gay marriage, the number swelled to 70 percent in the 18 to 39 demographic and 81 percent in the 18 to 29 demographic.
     The two major reasons for this change are that younger people tend to know a gay or lesbian friend or family member, and thus they are more accepting.  This can be attributed to the fact that most gay and lesbian people don't hide the fact that they are gay or lesbian anymore.  To put it simple, they are no longer "in the closet."
     The other reason is that as states pass same sex marriage laws, people have come to realize that the gay couple who got married down the street are going to destroy traditional marriage between a man and woman like we were all lead to believe by the opponents of gay marriage.
Buzz and I never understood this argument, and as people really began to think about the issue of same sex marriage, they came to the same conclusion.  The fact that two lesbians get married doesn't effect anyone's "traditional marriage" in the least bit.

Two same sex marriage cases were heard this week

     The Roberts Court heard arguments on whether California's Proposition 8 (outlawing gay marriage) should be upheld.  It's really a moot point, because if Proposition 8 were revisited by California voters in 2013, it would be soundly defeated.  This fact only may persuade the court to punt this case on some procedural ground.
     DOMA may face a similar fate.  Questions have been raised as to whether the Court has jurisdiction to hear the matter.  The Supreme Court throughout the years has been happy to boot a case and not come to a decision on the merits, especially if the justices are divided.  They can at least come to an agreement not to make a decision.
     Veteran court watchers believe that five justices (including the "swing justice" Anthony Kennedy) have serious doubts about DOMA.  The only question that remains is whether those five justices will pen a broad decision holding that marriage is a fundamental right available to all citizens, whether gay or straight, or will the court toss out DOMA on some less dramatic grounds.
     The Court could also decide the Proposition 8 case on broad or narrow grounds.

Will the decisions to strike be 5 to 4 or 6 to 3?

     What Buzz and I find particularly intriguing is where will the Chief Justice land.  As we saw in the case upholding Obamacare, the CJ was quite cognizant of his role in history when he jumped sides and penned the majority opinion. Will Roberts do the same thing with regard to gay marriage.
     If Kennedy leads a five justice majority in either of these cases, he will by virtue of his seniority decide who writes the majority opinion.  He can take it himself or assign it to another justice.  We believe he will keep both of these if he is the fifth vote. This all changes if Roberts comes down on the side of same sex marriage.
     If Roberts is in the majority, he by virtue of being the CJ will decide who writes the majority opinion.  Buzz and I would not be surprised if he does.  Roberts does not want to spend eternity next to his former fellow Chief Justice Roger "African=Americans are property" Taney.