Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Merry Christmas 2013

Our family would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2014.  

Haven't posted on this blog much during December due to family visiting plus my bronchitis which is finally over.  Been finishing up shopping and getting packages in the mail for my granddaughters in the Denver area.  Over the weekend my youngest daughter, Heather, was here from Denver -- we spent time baking Christmas cookies and celebrating an early Christmas.  She has been helping me bake Christmas cookies from the time she was little.  We always baked Santa cookies on Christmas Eve and the three kids would decorate them.   Still using the same cream cheese sugar cookie recipe I discovered when we lived in Yucaipa, CA, back in the 80's.  

In California we would cut down our own tree as the tree farm was located right next to an orange grove.  Now I have the same type of tree we used to cut down but it is artificial as cut trees here are not a kind I like.    With my youngest daughter here the tree was finished -- this year it is a nostalgic tree with unbreakable ornaments after finding the boxes of unbreakable ornaments from when the kids were little until now and thought it would be neat to have tree with ornaments from down through the years including my OU ornaments -- bought one today to add to the collection.  

Our Christmas Tree (Heather's picture)

Christmas Village on German Buffet

Have a wonderful holiday season!  

Saturday, December 7, 2013

President Obama and Family at Robben Island, South Africa, 2013

This past June, the Obama Family visited the prison that housed former South African President Nelson Mandela as apartheid reigned in South Africa.  The 1986 Apartheid Act was opposed by President Ronald Reagan, Dick Cheney,  Strom Thurmond,  Jesse Helms and others.  President Reagan went so far as to veto the bill.  Guess many of us should not be shocked today at what we are seeing out of the Republican Party when you realize that in 1986,  Reagan opposed the end of Apartheid.

President Obama's Remarks on Death of Nelson Mandela, 5 December 2013
Background on the Reagan and Republican Opposition to the Apartheid Act:
1985:  Democrats in the Senate initially tried to pass the Anti-Apartheid Act in September 1985 -- could not overcome a Republican filibuster. Reagan viewed the act as an intrusion on his authority to conduct foreign policy and issued his own set of sanctions. 
1986:  Bill was re-introduced in 1986 and brought up for a vote despite Republican efforts to block it in order to give President Reagan's sanctions time to work. Passed unexpectedly in the House in June 1986 after Republicans agreed to a voice vote in the hopes that the bill would die later on in the process.  President Reagan publicly opposed the bill.  Viewed too extreme to pass in the Republican-controlled Senate.  In August 1986, Senate passed a version of the Anti-Apartheid Act with weaker sanctions by a margin of 84- 14.  
Democratic leaders in the House agreed to accept the weaker Senate version of the bill in order for it to have sufficient bipartisan support to avert a possible veto which didn't work.
Reagan vetoed the compromised bill on September 26, calling it "economic warfare" and alleging that it would mostly hurt the impoverished black majority and lead to more civil strife.  He again offered to impose sanctions via executive order, while also working with Senate Republicans on concessions to avoid them overriding his veto. Reagan's veto was attacked harshly by anti-Apartheid leaders like Desmond Tutu who said Reagan would be "judged harshly by history".  In the week leading up to the subsequent vote, President Reagan enlisted South African foreign minister Pik Botha to call Republicans on the fence, though this was seen to backfire.
Reagan's veto was overridden by Congress (by the Senate 78 to 21, the House by 313 to 83) on October 2. This override marked the first time in the twentieth century that a president had a foreign policy veto overridden. Apartheid opponents in America and South Africa applauded the vote, while critics argued that it would be either ineffectual or lead to more violence. 
President Reagan made the following statement after the override:
"Today's Senate vote should not be viewed as the final chapter in America's efforts, along with our allies, to address the plight of the people of South Africa. Instead, it underscores that America—and that means all of us—opposes apartheid, a malevolent and archaic system totally alien to our ideals. The debate, which culminated in today's vote, was not whether or not to oppose apartheid but, instead, how best to oppose it and how best to bring freedom to that troubled country. 
I deeply regret that Congress has seen fit to override my veto of the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act of 1986. Punitive sanctions, I believe, are not the best course of action; they hurt the very people they are intended to help. My hope is that these punitive sanctions do not lead to more violence and more repression. Our administration will, nevertheless, implement the law. It must be recognized, however, that this will not solve the serious problems that plague that country. The United States must also move forward with positive measures to encourage peaceful change and advance the cause of democracy in South Africa. 
Now is the time for South Africa's Government to act with courage and good sense to avert a crisis. Moderate black leaders who are committed to democracy and oppose revolutionary violence are ready to work for peaceful change. They should not be kept waiting. It would be tragic to lose this opportunity to create a truly free society which respects the rights of the majority, the minority, and the individual. There is still time for orderly change and peaceful reform. South Africans of good will, black and white, should seize the moment."
The override was seen as a major defeat for Reagan, coming at the hands of his fellow Republicans in Congress. It was subsequently revealed that there was significant debate within the White House between Reagan's political advisors advocating more compromise and those like Pat Buchanan and Donald Regan who supported Reagan's hard line against sanctions.
After 2 years of sanctions under President Reagan, the sanctions were seen as having little effect in hurting South Africa or moving them away from apartheid. In 1989, the General Accounting Office said in a report that the sanctions against South Africa had been only partially enforced by the Reagan administration.  In 1989, the newly elected President George H.W. Bush committed to "full enforcement" of the Anti-Apartheid Act, a departure from the Reagan administration`s policy.
When I was reading this from Wikipedia and following the sources, it was like I was reading it for the first time and then I remembered during this time our family made two moves in less than 10 months with two young children being in three different schools and a toddler at home.  Moving from the west coast to New England and nine months later to Ohio didn't leave a lot of time to know what was  going on in the world especially since we lived in Groton, MA, after moving from NH with NO cable and poor reception.  We could get the news out of NH where one guy reported everything or out of CT. We had one Boston station we could get a night yet we kept hearing how progressive Massachusetts was -- not where we lived.

Tomorrow President and Mrs. Obama accompanied by former President and Mrs. Bush will be attending the funeral of a man who never gave up and who will be remembered for the ages -- Nelson Mandela who with others ended apartheid in South Africa and started a movement heard round the world.

God speed President Mandela and thank you for opening the eyes of the world.  

Monday, November 25, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

This is to wish you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving - will be back after family leaves on the 3rd of December!

Stay safe and warm!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Oklahoma Republican Governor Mary Fallin Denies Benefits to All National Guard to Discriminate Against Gay Members

Oklahoma has a defense to fall back on. The state elected a governor who, on her very first day in office, swore “to offend” the United States constitution. We can fault Fallin for many things. But we certainly can’t accuse her of going back on her word.  (Mark Joseph Stern, Slate)
When I first heard this, I was appalled, but then I stop to think that Governor Fallin had just announced her re-election bid and needs to shore up the hard right base to get re-elected so no one from the Tea Party challenges her. Do I think she is that shallow?  You be the judge by reading the letter at the end of this post that was sent to her by the good friend of her daughter who happens to be gay.
Just waiting for the challenge to Oklahoma's DOMA to get to the SCOTUS and be overturned.  Will pop some popcorn and watch the implosion of the hard right who have some of the nastiest people I have ever met.  This defies good judgement of an elected official IMHO:
NOV. 20 2013 11:39 AM
Republican Governor Denies Benefits to All Soldiers to Discriminate Against Gay Ones
By Mark Joseph Stern
Constitution, schmonstitution: Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin.
Photo by Sue Ogrocki-Pool/Getty Images
When Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin was sworn into office, she promised in her oath to “offend the Constitution of the United States.” Many at the time assumed it was a blunder. But as it turns out, Gov. Fallin is true to her word. 
In September, Fallin vowed to prohibit Oklahoma’s National Guard from providing benefits to married same-sex couples, directly violating a Pentagon directive and a presidential decree. Now, after a Pentagon pushback, Fallin has doubled down, cutting spousal benefits for the entire Oklahoma National Guard, including straight couples. The Republican governor, in other words, would rather deny every soldier benefits than grant a few gay ones the rights they have been federally guaranteed. Her painfully mangled logic:
Oklahoma law is clear. The state of Oklahoma does not recognize same-sex marriages, nor does it confer marriage benefits to same-sex couples. The decision reached today allows the National Guard to obey Oklahoma law without violating federal rules or policies. It protects the integrity of our state constitution and sends a message to the federal government that they cannot simply ignore our laws or the will of the people. 
Not to harp on the point, but this notion is so deliriously erroneous, so undeniably and doltishly wrong, that I can’t quite believe Fallin believes it herself. The military’s policy of providing spousal benefits to same-sex couples is not a gentle suggestion. It is a federal mandate, prompted by the president himself, extending from the Pentagon to each (federally funded, federally supervised) National Guard base. It doesn’t matter whether the policy violates Oklahoma’s constitution: The Constitution of the United States declares in Article VI that “the laws of the United States ... shall be the supreme law of the land,” regardless of “the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary.” By presidential decree, the laws of the United States now require spousal benefits for gay soldiers; following that order is a constitutional requirement. And the federal constitution is not something a state governor can simply toss aside when it doesn’t suit her viciously homophobic beliefs.  
The author of this article may be wrong in one area -- some elected officials in Oklahoma including the Governor and Attorney General seem to feel state law trumps federal law.  If they don't mean it, they do a good job of convincing many Oklahomans that is what they believe.  How many other states keep passing laws that the State Supreme Court finds unconstitutional that end up at SCOTUS on appeal and they refuse to hear?  Bet Oklahoma trumps most states.  We just had two abortion bills that SCOTUS refused to hear that our Attorney General didn't like the ruling from the Oklahoma Supremes so they took it to SCOTUS and got rejected again. Now Republicans in Oklahoma want to do away with the manner judges are chosen in the State.  Typical Republican response -- don't get the outcome you want so change the laws.

When our family first moved here from Texas due to the closure of the Kelly depot, I complained about how archaic Oklahoma Republicans were -- little I did I expect them to get worse with the Tea Party and go back even more in time.   Governor Keating who was Governor when we arrived was famous for inserting foot in mouth when it came to teachers.  At my daughter's high school I talked to a lot of teachers who were Republican but never would vote for Keating with his anti-education agenda and his total lack of regard for teachers.  Gov Fallin was his Lt Governor.  She has the same stance on education and probably worse as her Administration touts charter schools.

The hatred of gays by the Republicans in Oklahoma go beyond anything I have seen from pulling books off the library shelves to demanding banners be taken down, and just being plain hateful.  I am still trying to figure out why -- are Oklahoma Republicans so entrenched in the hateful evangelical community that they only see their narrow view and forget that gays are people.   Many of the Tea Party not only hate gays but hate minorities.  We have had some of the nastiest bills against immigration submitted in our legislature that I have ever seen.  Then there are the attacks on women's rights.  The Good Old Boy system is alive and well in the Oklahoma Legislature and in many parts of the state.

In 2010 at a Norman City Council Meeting, an agenda item appeared concerning issuing a proclamation declaring October as Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender History Month in Norman. The meeting turned into some of the nastiest comments ever with some comments coming from people who didn't live here. Norman has a contingent of hard right conservatives led by a person who doesn't live in Norman who loves to attack Norman. Same person who led the nasty fight against changing the Christmas parade to Holiday parade.  Had first hand experience how nasty this group of angry hard right Republicans can get.  Cannot even fathom sitting through this City Council meeting.

What is sad that the one person, Dan Quinn, who voted against the proclamation was retired as the principal at Norman North High School -- suffice it to say that the Mother of my daughter's good friend had a lot to say about Quinn and how he ran things and none of it positive starting when the girls were Freshman. The fact that he was the lone dissenter does not surprise me.  Norman has a member of the City Council who is openly gay and is treated like everyone else.  We have a city council today that looks forward and don't see the messy politics I saw for the last 8-10 years here.  This council seems to work together.

Times are changing just like Norman and the University of Oklahoma did in the 1950's when Prentice Gault became the first black to play OU football.  Maybe this tragic incident of this young gay man was a wake-up call in Norman.  I can only hope that people look in the mirror and realize that gays are people just like you and me.  IMHO it is not my place to judge someone else no more then others have a right to judge me on what I do with my life.  The prejudice against gays at this City Council meeting and what this student went through after he came out he was gay, shouldn't happen to anyone.  I know today that the Norman schools are very pro-active in insuring that everyone is treated fairly.  Can only hope that parents instill in their students that no one has a right to be bullied no matter what.
October 10, 2010North grad took own life after week of 'toxic' commentsBy Andrew KnittleThe Norman Transcript 
NORMAN — A week after attending a Norman City Council meeting where a heated debate played out in public, 19-year-old Zach Harrington took his own life at his family’s home in Norman. 
At the Sept. 28 meeting Harrington attended at City Hall, the council acknowledged receipt of a proclamation recognizing October as Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender History Month in the city. Council voted 7 to 1 in favor of it, with only Councilman Dan Quinn casting a nay vote. 
Support for and opposition to the proclamation were fairly even and the public comment portion of the agenda item lasted for three hours — the entire time allotted. 
The entire process was an exercise in representative government, with both sides — and those in between — given their chance to speak their minds. 
One man said he moved to Norman because he thought it was the kind of place that would never accept the GLBT community with open arms. A woman, who described herself as “bi-racial,” said she was tired of the GLBT plight being compared to Civil Rights. 
Some of those who opposed the proclamation claimed that members of the GLBT community would use it to infiltrate the public school system, essentially allowing the “gay lifestyle” to become a part of the curriculum. 
Others claimed that council recognizing October as GLBT History Month was a waste of their time. Some members of the audience even suggested that any council members voting in favor of the proclamation may have trouble getting reelected. 
Numerous residents also claimed the Bible was their guiding light, citing the ancient text as their primary reason for opposing the proclamation and the GLBT community in general.
And for those in attendance, it was hard to ignore the intolerant grumblings, the exasperated sighs and cold, hard stares that followed comments from supporters of the GLBT proclamation. 
Even most council members admitted that a majority of the e-mails and phone calls they fielded regarding the proclamation were against it. 
Harrington’s family, who described him as a private young man who internalized his feelings and emotions, said it was this “toxic” environment at the Sept. 28 council meeting that may have pushed their gay son and brother over the edge. 
Nikki Harrington, Zach’s older sister, said her brother likely took all of the negative things said about members of the GLBT community straight to heart. 
“When he was sitting there, I’m sure he was internalizing everything and analyzing everything … that’s the kind of person he was,” she said. “I’m sure he took it personally. Everything that was said.”
Read More at The Norman Transcript 
We now have a Governor who not only took a stand against gays in the National Guard but she is the recipient of a letter from a good friend of her daughter's who is gay.  Obviously that letter made no impression as she pulled this stunt for her reelection.  What does that say about the Governor of Oklahoma?  Not much except she is a puppet of the hard right.  How can anyone receive this letter and act the way Governor Fallin does against gays that is now influencing heterosexual couples in the OK National Guard as well?  Some of these people consider themselves the only true Christians which makes me shake my head as they are always right even when it hurts others:
Dear Gov. Mary Fallin, 
I hope that this letter finds you well, and that your day is off to a great start. You may not remember me, so allow me to reintroduce myself to you. I'm Dillon Peña, a former friend and acquaintance of your daughter Christina. I've been to your house in northwest Oklahoma City. I've been to a festival at the Oklahoma River with you. I've broken bread and had dinner with you at Red Rock, and you have even been to church with me. Although I am currently a New York City resident, Oklahoma remains the home of my heart. 
I am an Oklahoma fan through and through. I cheer for the Thunder as well as OU and OSU. You see, Governor, I would love to move back to Oklahoma someday. However, today, Governor, in the eyes of the great state of Oklahoma, my two brothers and I are not equal. When you recently ordered that same-sex partners of servicemembers in the Oklahoma National Guard not receive the spousal benefits that their partners earned and that their heterosexual counterparts enjoy, you boldly declared that people like me are not equal in your eyes. Today I have a job in which I am excelling, but in Oklahoma I could be fired simply for being who I am. I could walk into any restaurant and be denied service for being who I am. Worst of all, if I were in the Oklahoma National Guard, I would be reminded that my sacrifice was not equal to that of my fellow servicemembers, solely because I love a man and not a woman. 
I was born and raised in the red dirt fields of western Oklahoma, the same place where the seeds of the American dream were planted for both my parents' families. My mother hails from tough stock: farmers who braved and outlasted the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression when so many of their neighbors threw in the towel and headed west. With sweat and blood they endured many droughts to raise their family on the land they loved. First-generation Americans, my father's parents were careful to maintain a connection with their Mexican heritage while instilling in my father a deep love and appreciation for their new home country, which gave them an opportunity for a better life, and a great pride in being American. While raising a dozen children, my grandparents chopped endless rows of cotton until they'd saved enough money to open our family restaurant. Although my two sets of grandparents were culturally different, they both believed their families to be the bedrock of their success. Being in Oklahoma, close to my siblings and extended family, would be a dream come true for me. 
Governor, it pains me to recognize that when you didn't know I am gay, you considered me equal. It pains me to know that my beloved Oklahoma appears to be like Alabama of the 1960s, not moving forward but stagnating in prejudice and inequality no longer suited for our country. My prayer for you and the state of Oklahoma is that you move forward on civil rights issues and certainly not take steps backwards. I pray that in future news I read and hear, Oklahoma is not a state of condemnation but one of acceptance. 
I've heard it spoken from the church pulpit that when you stand for nothing, you fall for everything. I also know that when hate is spoken from that same pulpit, the words are no longer anointed. So in closing, because the great state of Oklahoma regards me as less than equal, I would like to remind you of Matthew 25:40; in which Jesus says, "Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me."
I pray that in the future you remember, because you are a Christian, to think of Jesus. How would he treat someone? I know that in his eyes I am created just the same as you. And maybe someday I, along with many others who have fled the state, will be able to return to the place we call home. 
Dillon Peña
Oklahoma needs new leadership and a revival of what it truly means to act as a Christian and stop being so judgmental of people who don't think or act like the hard right evangelicals.  I am not hard right, not an evangelical, but I am white, a female, and heterosexual.  Today I won't even vote Republican or support Republican candidates after seeing the Republican Party of Oklahoma up close and personal.  They are mean, nasty, aggressive, underhanded, and have the empathy of a gnat for anyone not thinking like them.

Every morning I wake up with "This is the day the lord has made, be happy and be grateful" which comes from going to Sunday School every Sunday morning.  Grew up singing "God made the little children, all the children of the World...."  To this day, I remember standing in front of the Congregation singing that song when we were in first grade and looking out to see the migrant families our Church was hosting that Sunday.  It stayed with me my whole life that God made all of us - we look different, speak different, think different, and act different but we all the same in God's eyes.

None of us have a right to be judgmental over others just because they are gay.  Some of the evangelical and Catholic community who attack gays defend heterosexual pedophiles which makes zero sense to me.   The new Pope gets it about gays so when are evangelicals going to understand we are all just people with different wants and desires.  Why condemn two consenting adults because their sexual orientation is not like yours?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

President Obama's OFA Phone Call Asks Our Help to Make ACA Successful for a Generation of Americans

Last night's phone call reminded me of being at a football game at the University of Oklahoma with 85,000 of my closest friends pulling together for the Sooners.  There were over 200,000 on the call from the President all dedicated to making the Affordable Care Act work and supporting the President. 

We have his back not only against Republicans but many members of the media.

As I was sitting here, I kept thinking this is the President of the United States asking for our help in supporting his signature issue, Affordable Care Act, plus asking us to help him get his judicial nominees through the Senate.   My first thought was "WOW!"

While listening to President Obama, I am blown away at how down to earth he is on the phone like talking to a close friend.  Then it struck that this man truly cares about what happens to those Americans without healthcare and how much his own Mom's death to cancer affected his drive for affordable healthcare for all Americans.  This is not a whim but it is something he feels about deeply and what the Republican obstructionist have failed to take into consideration when dealing with the President using their underhanded tactics.  Have 'zero' respect left for the Republican Party and their elected officials.  If there could be less than zero, today's Republicans have earned that designation.

Many of us expected the Republicans were attacking which slowed it down which has turned out to be true -- 16 cyber attacks hit the site where people were supposed to sign up.  Like we don't know who was behind that.  I am not a betting person but I would bet whoever did it is aligned with the Koch Bros and their campaign wasting millions to stop the rollout and implementation of Affordable Care Act.  Are Republicans afraid ACA will work and eventually we will end up with single payer to cut insurance costs even more?  Today's hard right GOP are going to find themselves on the wrong side of history as they continue to try to stall, destroy, and turn back the clock on ACA.

Speaker Boehner and his leadership team that keep voting to repeal ACA I didn't think were stupid. Beginning to change my mind -- what other explanation is there for their obstruction against ACA and high fiving each other when the House votes to repeal ACA knowing it is DOA in the Senate except stupidity.  What a waste of our tax dollars.  Now we find out the conservatives/GOP have been launching cyber attacks on the site, GOP Governor's have refused to set up exchanges which put more workload on the Feds with the House refusing to grant more funding, and the Koch Bros with the help of the GOP elected officials launched a million dollar plus campaign for people not to sign up for ACA.  The GOP/MSM have told so many lies that you have to wonder if they know the truth any more.  

As a former federal employee who is part of the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program (FEHBP), I sit here in amazement at the members of Congress who fall under the same plan until they get booted out on 1 January and have to use ACA.  Over the years, it is not unusual to see different plans come and go who no longer meet the standards of FEHBP, and we have to choose a new plan.  The difference is that plans that were kicked out of or left FEHBP were not junk insurance but most people still waited until near the end of the time to actually switch their plan.  
Republicans have been touting people should be allowed to keep junk insurance plans that if they got sick, their plan would pay little and/or most likely their insurance would be cancelled.  Why do Republicans want junk insurance plans to even be available?  Are they that angry about ACA or is the real reason they are so deep in the pockets of insurance companies that they feel obligated to tout worthless insurance plans for Americans to keep instead of encouraging them to move to ACA?

Why does the MSM not ask Republicans why they want Americans to have junk insurance?  If the MSM had any integrity left that would be the first question asked?  Many of today's media have not only no integrity but no ethics as they report Republican narratives/talking points they receive instead of facts.  Looks like when the wealthy donors like the Koch Bros bought Republican elected officials, they also did a great job of buying portions of the media. There is no other explanation for people like the Fox 'readers' who lie continually on the air reporting the talking points/narrative of the GOP House and some Tea Party Senators.  Are their hosts that stupid or are they that entrenched in the Republican Party to refuse to acknowledge that ACA is the law which was upheld by the Supreme Court.  Maybe 
Fox News thinks only they should get to determine what is constitutional now?

Chuck Todd, NBC News White House Correspondent, might as well go to work for Fox News as he continues to report the GOP narrative not facts.  As he so aptly reminded us, it is not his job to check to see if something is factual.  That is what you get from a political science major who does not have a journalism degree which means he didn't have a course in ethics.  Must admit that it really shows.
How many of the MSM even belong to the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) or know what the SPJ Code of Ethics excerpted below even says:
Preamble Members of the Society of Professional Journalists believe that public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy. The duty of the journalist is to further those ends by seeking truth and providing a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues. Conscientious journalists from all media and specialties strive to serve the public with thoroughness and honesty. Professional integrity is the cornerstone of a journalist's credibility. Members of the Society share a dedication to ethical behavior and adopt this code to declare the Society's principles and standards of practice.
Seek Truth andReport ItJournalists should be honest, fair and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information.  
Minimize Harm Ethical journalists treat sources, subjects and colleagues as human beings deserving of respect. 
Act Independently Journalists should be free of obligation to any interest other than the public's right to know. 
Be Accountable Journalists are accountable to their readers, listeners, viewers and each other.
As members of the MSM report lies and inaccuracies about ACA, judicial nominations, immigration, jobs bills, sequestration, etc., you are left disgust and anger toward the media who have problems reporting the truth when it comes to President Obama.  It is beyond anything I have witnessed and find it reprehensible by allowing their own personal feelings to replace integrity and ethics in reporting.  I just want the facts not spin when I hear or read what a journalist has to say about a subject.  If I want their opinion, I will read it on the editorial page.

That live call with the President last night made me even more disgusted with the media, the Republicans, and the Koch Bros for trying to nullify the results of the 2012 election by their attacks on President Obama.  Who do these people think they are?  Over 5 million more people voted for President Obama then Romney but we still have to listen to the Romney's espouse how much better he would have done along with the hard right GOP.  Today I would like to tell the Romney's along with the GOP -- "You Lost -- Grow Up and Get Over it!"

Monday, November 18, 2013

Sights and Sounds of the University of Oklahoma Football Victory over Iowa State 40-10

The home finale vs. Iowa State on Nov. 16 was dubbed the “Heroes Game,” featuring military presentations and recognitions to honor the many individuals who have served and sacrificed for our nation.

The game had it all Saturday including one event we have never witnessed in the 17 years our family has been attending OU football games -- a fan tackled by the body guard of OU Head Coach Bob Stoops, OHP officer Orr.

This was senior day to honor our 17 seniors who played their last home game -- they have two road games and a Bowl Game to wear the Crimson and Cream of the Sooners.  It was a beautiful day as the Don Key award winners, Gabe Ikard and Trey Millard were honored for their four years of leadership at OU.  The seniors with their families were announced to the crowd and then they left the field to go back to the locker room before coming through the tunnel for their last home game.  With the playing of the National Anthem, we had a flyover of vintage aircraft from Tulsa which was awesome.

The announcer told the story of Tobias and Titus prior to the team coming out of the tunnel.  As the Sooners came out to Boomer Sooner played by the pride they were led on the field by these two young boys -- really touching story and to see the young boy jumping up and down while Travis Wilson helped push the the stroller for his brother brought a lot of tears to eyes around the stadium.  It didn't end there.
Tobias, Titus Lead Sooners Out Of Tunnel On OU Senior DayPosted: Nov 16, 2013 11:55 AM CST
To make this day even more special, two young Oklahoma boys, who touched many
hearts across the world with their story, led the Sooners out of the tunnel on
game day. [Photo Courtesy: Oklahoma Football Twitter.]
NORMAN, Oklahoma - 
Saturday is Senior Day in Norman for the Oklahoma Sooners, as 17 seniors play their final game on Owen Field against Iowa State. 
To make this day even more special, two young Oklahoma boys, who touched many hearts across the world with their story, led the Sooners out of the tunnel on game day.

Tobias Bass, you may remember, wrote News 9's Kelly Ogle and Amanda Taylor a letter asking to borrow a stroller for his brother Titus, who has Cerebral Palsy. News 9 contacted Oklahoma Able Tech, and we were there when they delivered a jogging stroller to Tobias and Titus, not a loaner, a keeper.

That wasn't the end of tears at the football game on Saturday!
The women in our section all had tears in our eyes when we realized what was happening after Sergeant Curtis was on the video board and then we say him coming out on the Sooner Schooner.  All of us watch the coming home video's of our military on line many of them at sporting events but we never expected one an OU football game but we had that Saturday.  When realize what these soldiers sacrifice in order to serve our Country, it made Saturday even more special to see one of our finest come home early to his family:

November 16, 2013 
The circumstances surrounding an individual soldier’s homecoming are always unique, but the resulting emotions are often the same. 
Joy. Relief. Excitement. Love. 
For Lori, Brandee, Baylee, Cy and Mylee Curtis, add one more emotion to the list: shock.
The Curtis family thought they were being recognized on the field of the Oklahoma/Iowa State football game on Saturday afternoon on behalf of their husband, father and grandfather, First Sergeant David Brian Curtis of the United States Army National Guard. 
After all, the University of Oklahoma and Patriot Ford recognize one such “Patriot of the Game” several times a year at OU home football games. 
What the family wasn’t aware of was that Patriot Ford, the University and First Sergeant Curtis had an extra surprise hid up their sleeves. 
A native of Eufaula, Okla., First Sergeant Curtis has served his country for over 23 years as a member of the U.S. Army National Guard.  During his service, he has been awarded the Bronze Star Medal, two Meritorious Achievement Medals, three Army commendations and three Army Achievement Medals. 
First Sergeant Curtis’ unit has been deployed to Afghanistan and has been responsible for the closure of multiple bases in preparation for handover to the Afghani government. His unit recently closed the largest Forward Operating Base to date, and he was slated to return home to his family in several weeks. 
The Curtis family took the field midway through the second quarter for the “Patriot of the Game” segment. After hearing a list of First Sergeant Curtis’ achievements, the stadium turned their attention to the video boards for a special message from Curtis himself. 
“I want to thank Patriot Ford and the University of Oklahoma for this tremendous honor,” First Sergeant Curtis said in the video. “I also want to tell my wife and my entire family that I love them, I miss them, and I’ll see you in a few weeks. Sooners, go hang a half a hundred on ‘em. Boomer Sooner.” 
After being recognized by the public address announcer in front of a stadium filled with 80,000-plus fans, Lori and her family thought their time on field was done. Little did they know, however, that First Sergeant Curtis was about to come cruising onto the field on the famed Sooner Schooner and turn a good day into a great day for the entire Curtis family.
These 17 Seniors were special to the fans that fill the Gaylord Family Memorial Stadium on home games.  They are a fantastic group of young men that enjoy having a great time and have a fantastic sense of humor but they work hard on the field and in the classroom.  Saturday was a beautiful day to honor these 17 young men who are graduating:
2013-14 Oklahoma Sooner seniors:

This game had it all including the take-down of an idiot fan by the OHP Officer Brian Orr who is also Head Coach Bob Stoops bodyguard took place in our area of the stadium -- we had a perfect view of the one of the best tackles we have seen.  Could have been targeting!  Crowd cheered the take-down as it is well known at OU you don't go on the field unless asked.  The moron got what he deserved in my book. Maybe one of the greatest things I've seen at a sporting event.

OU football: OHP trooper Brian Orr — a former linebacker — laid out wayward fan
Orr was All-State honorable mention at Okemah, before going on to star at the University of Central Oklahoma.
This is one football game that will stand out for a long time!

Boomer Sooner!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Koch Bros, Chamber of Commerces, and Republicans are Enemies of the American Worker

From the Oklahoma Supreme Court hearing on the new Workers Compensation Law should be tossed to the Republican dominated legislatures and to the halls of Congress, the Koch Bros, ALEC, and The Chamber of Commerces work for big business against the American workers.

Note who was behind the passage of the Workers Comp Law in Oklahoma -- Chamber of Commerces throughout the state along with ALEC.  When our Republican Legislature and Governor are not bought by ALEC aka Koch Bros, they are bought by the Chamber.  With few exceptions like Senator Harry Coates, the Republicans do what they are told to pass bills in the legislature.  Oklahoma switched a heavily Democrat legislature for a heavy Republican legislature and the citizens got taken to the cleaners both times.

Today's younger Oklahoma Democrats like Rep Emily Virgin, D-Norman are more in turn with what the people want and are quick to stand up and fight for the citizens of Oklahoma.  Her Grandfather, long time County Commissioner George Skinner who retired in January, was probably the best County Commissioner I have had living around the Country.  Rep Virgin takes after her Grandfather which is good for the State of Oklahoma:
Workers comp law should be tossed, Oklahoma Supreme Court justices told 
Two lawmakers and the state firefighters union say it's unconstitutional
OKLAHOMA CITY —- A highly touted workers compensation reform bill should be tossed out for a number of reasons, an Oklahoma Supreme Court referee was told Thursday. 
Sen. Harry Coates, R-Seminole, Rep. Emily Virgin, D-Norman, and the Professional Firefighters of Oklahoma filed suit in September seeking to overturn Senate Bill 1062.
Passed last legislative session, the measure replaced a court-based workers compensation system with an administrative process and decreased benefits to injured workers.
Oklahoma City attorney John C. McMurry represents the plaintiffs. He said the measure should be invalidated because it is an impermissible special law in that a section of it allows some employers to opt out of the system. 
It is also a violation of the state constitution because it contains more than one subject, he said. 
In addition, it restricts workers' access to the courts, McMurry said. 
The state constitution requires courts to be open to everyone and to provide a speedy remedy, he said. 
In addition, the measure puts restrictions on attorneys fees, McMurry said, adding, "You can't do that." 
Patrick R. Wyrick, the solicitor general for Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, said the measure does not violate the single-subject rule because all sections of the law deal with workers compensation. 
Likewise, the measure did not contain a special law, he said. 
Oklahoma City attorney Robert McCampbell represents parties that have intervened in the case: the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce, the Oklahoma State Chamber and the Tulsa Regional Chamber. The State Chamber was one of the more vocal groups supporting the measure. 
Excerpt:  Read More at the Tulsa World
This Attorney General and his staff are trying to take Oklahomans back in time on so many issues that keep getting overturned by the Courts.  As Attorney General you are supposed to abide by the law not force your own agenda on the State which is what we see happen over and over again in Republican dominated states.  Cannot imagine the grief that Senator Coates is receiving as a Republican -- they can get really nasty here when a Republican sides with a Democrat against the legislature.

This is just so wrong -- workman's compensation needed some tweaks but the Republicans went so far overboard that if someone is injured on the job, you are out of luck if you get one of those companies that opts out or even meeting a board in lieu of the court system.  Might as well go back to the days when there were no rules about safety in the workplace, do away with minimum wage, pensions, number of hours worked, and no child labor laws.  Why not?  That's what is being advocated by the Koch Bros and their stooges.
Republicans want to eliminate your overtime pay.  A new $20,000 ad campaign targets working women, telling them to support the deceptively named “Working Families Flexibility Act.”  Originally a Paul Ryan brain child, this legislation would remove the requirement to pay someone time-and-a-half when they work over 40 hours per week, in exchange for so-called “compensatory time off.”  The major catch – when and how that time off can be used would be determined by your employer.   
The ad campaign will be featured on more than 100 websites that are typically frequented by woman, and the ads focus on the bogus benefit of not having “to choose between work and family.”  The fact is, employers can already offer flex-time scheduling, and many already do.  A worker shouldn't have to give up a federally protected employment right to get that benefit.  
They have a friend in the effort from Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor:

Meanwhile, Eric Cantor wants to pass a Federal Law to eliminate overtime pay but not overtime labor. Meaning, naturally, that the law Eric Cantor wants to propose will mean that millions of hourly workers in America would a) not be able to afford their family vacation, and b) might have to work overtime during a scheduled family vacation all without extra pay.
I have personal experience working for the Air Force at Wright-Patterson of working mandatory overtime for comp time but we were undermanned due to personnel cuts and could not take the comp time. Finally Personnel ruled we had to be paid.  This was the Federal Government wanting us to work for Comp Time we couldn't take.  The 4-star Commander got his hand slapped by Personnel because someone in Payroll saw all the hours that were being worked without pay.  

What gets me are the Koch Bros/ALEC/GOP campaign to do away with Child Labor Laws:
When Ryan admitted that Republicans’ goal was “destroying the health care system for the American people,” he was only hitting the tip of the iceberg. Republicans have proposed: abolishing child labor laws, eliminating the federal minimum wage, ending voting rights, slashing Social Security, abolishing public education, and eliminating regulatory agencies for the Koch brothers. Those objectives are discussed regularly at the Kochs’ secret policy meetings with the nation’s richest corporate leaders, two Supreme Court justices, and the Koch’s legislative arm ALEC. In fact, ALEC regularly writes template legislation for the Kochs that are routinely enacted in Republican states that have restricted voting rights, funneled public school funds to private religious schools and have also eroded environmental protections,  chipped away at programs that assist seniors, women, and the poor. Such as the Medicaid that is under attack nationwide.

As a lifelong Republican, I hate to say it but the Democrats and a few Republicans are all that are standing between the American worker and going back to the 20's with no laws to speak of.  It is sad that this group of Republicans have been so corrupted by money from donors at all levels that they have lot total common sense on what is right and wrong -- it is all about money and power today and screw the American worker.

We are seeing the same thing out of Republicans at the National level we see at the state level which ties it all into the Koch Bros who want to do away with the minimum wage,  have no regulations, and have people beg for jobs.
On Tuesday, billionaire libertarian Charles Koch joined Republicans pushing to eliminate the nation’s minimum wage he implied was the ultimate secret to lift Americans out of poverty as well as the major obstacle to economic growth. In fact, Koch said “we need to analyze all these government subsidies, all these things that are creating a culture of dependency, and we’ve got to clear out what reduces the mobility of labor.” A Koch-funded ad in Kansas insinuated minimum wage Americans earning $34,000 annually should consider themselves fortunate, but an American working full-time making minimum wage only earns $15,080 annually, if they can find full-time work. As it is, the poverty level for a family of four is $22,283 annual income, and even in the poorest state in the nation a worker earning minimum wage has to work 67 hours per week to afford the most meager apartment if they are fortunate enough to find a full-time job; food, utilities, and clothing are luxuries out of the realm of a poverty-level worker’s budget. Most medium to large businesses prevent full-time employment to avoid giving lunch breaks or benefits, and those working-poor Americans make up a large share of food stamp recipients Republicans just drove into hunger by eliminating SNAP funding from their Draconian farm bill.
Koch funded ALEC is behind writing these bills that hurt the American worker in the States.  After all these years I have to admit my Dad was right about Right to Work.  I have gone from being against the unions over the years to realizing what an important role they play for the American workers.  My experience was based on seeing GM go on strike in Dayton over money during hunting season -- those workers like my Uncle and others did a disservice to the people who need unions because of companies like the Koch Industries.

Here is what Sen Sanders (I-VT) had to say about the minimum wage the Koch Bros want to see killed:
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Let me take it a step further and this will shock you and your viewers.This is the truth. The fact of the matter is that there are many many Republicans in Congress right now, perhaps a majority, who not only are opposed to raising the minimum wage. They want to abolish the minimum wage. That’s the truth. In a city like Detroit, remember, 40% of the black kids in this country are facing unemployment. 20% of the young people in this country facing unemployment. 14% of the American people unemployed. They believe that if they can hire, if an employer can hire a worker at $3 and $4 an hour that’s fine. That’s freedom. Get government out of the business of regulating a minimum wage. What I happen to believe is very, very different. 
SANDERS:It’s just that if we’re going to grow the middle class, we have to create decent paying jobs. One way to do that is to raise the minimum wage to at least $10 an hour which is what the American people want.Bernie Sanders was speaking from experience.
You could say it is just the Koch Bros, but it is also the Republicans in the Congress as Senator Sanders learned from Sen Alexander (R-TN):
In June, during a committee hearing, he got Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander (TN) to admit that he supports abolishing the minimum wage. This isn’t some theoretical Republican fantasy discussion centered around the great what if of abolishing the minimum wage. Republicans in power want to abolish the minimum wage. It is part of their goals and agenda. Earlier this year, Forbes ran an article from the Ayn Rand Center titled, To Protect The Defenseless, We Must Abolish The Minimum Wage
The basic Republican argument against the minimum wage is the same as their argument against unemployment benefits. The minimum wage creates an entitled class of freeloaders that want to be paid more than what they are really worth. It is the standard makers and takers argument that Republicans use to defend their positions on everything from cutting food stamps to denying children healthcare. 
The problem is that the Republican argument is based on ideology. Studies have repeatedly found that raising the minimum wage doesn’t negatively impact job growth. In June, President Obama called for the minimum wage to be increased to a living wage.
While Republicans are plotting to abolish it, seventy one percent of Americans support raising the minimum wage. Republicans want an America where workers will have no healthcare, privatized retirement benefits, no workplace safety regulations, no overtime pay, and will take whatever few pennies employers are willing to offer as compensation. 
There is something I do not understand at all levels of the GOP and that is their fixation on Ayn Rand, an atheist, when they profess to be Christians.  It boggles the mind they attacks on the poor by cutting food stamps while at the same time some of the Republicans in Congress get huge subsidies for their farms -- one over $3M.
Over the past week, Republicans who know there are over 47-million Americans living in poverty and dependent of the Agriculture Department’s SNAP (food stamp) program passed a farm bill providing $195 billion in subsidies to agricultural corporations and eliminating food stamp and nutritional programs they considered extraneous, or irrelevant. Half of those affected are children, and over 10% are senior citizens living in poverty. It was not even an assault on minorities because more white Americans receive food stamps than African Americans or Hispanics proving that the GOP’s goal is withholding food from all Americans living in poverty and they have enlisted a powerful ally to send more Americans deeper into poverty.
It is absolutely mind boggling today.  It is happening from the halls of the Congress to the state legislatures across the Country and even to a 20,000 person town in Iowa the Koch Bros tried to buy the election.  Their excuse they don't control Americans for Prosperity where they pour millions every year is a bad joke.  They are pushing the agenda of AfP but want to disavow them -- doesn't work that way.  ALEC is following the Koch agenda and Republican legislatures and Governors like Oklahoma are falling right in line. 

Guess you can put me in the category of a bleeding heart liberal today who cares about the workers in factories who need protection from the lack of ethics of some owners like the Koch Bros, to first responders, to teachers, seniors, veterans, young people, immigrants and regular Americans who want to provide for their families.  There is an uprising in this Country starting to happen as former Republicans join with Independents and Democrats to returning America to a country that cares about its people not just the wealthy.  You see it on Twitter and am proud to be adding my voice for those that cannot speak out.

One more time, I am doing a mea culpa -- my Dad was right all those years ago about Right to Work laws and I was dead wrong.  He was also right about the place for unions in the American workplace to protect the American worker when you have greedy people like the Koch Bros who run Koch Industries.  Time to strengthen the unions with honest leaders with integrity.  We need to take the Country back from the wealthy who only care about getting more wealthy.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

SCOTUS Leaves Intact Oklahoma Supreme Court Ruling on Ultrasound Abortion Law is Unconstitutional

The rebuff marks the second time this month that the high court has declined to reinstate Oklahoma abortion regulations.  

This should come as no surprise but to have this new ruling be the second time in a ten days SCOTUS has rejected an Oklahoma abortion bill may be a record.  First one that was rejected would have ended abortion in Oklahoma because of outlawing any drugs that could be used in abortion including to save the life of the mother.  If the baby died in the womb, the Mother had to carry the baby to term under that Neanderthal law.

First of all this is not a subject that I like to write about since I am opposed to all these new laws that affect a woman's right to choose which automatically gets me labeled as pro-choice when, in fact, I don't think it is any of my business to tell a woman what to do when it comes to an abortion.  It is a personal decision, and I don't walk in her shoes or know her circumstances.  What I do know is the pro-life community is one of the nastiest group of people I have ever met.  The very fact that they demand that we all think alike and they make NO exception for the life of the mother, incest, or rape is all I need to know.  What galls me the most is that many of the people so opposed to abortion for any reason are white males.

Once again the SCOTUS has rejected or outright thrown out an abortion law passed by our hard right legislature who cannot seem to get an education bill passed on time with full funding.  Let a social issue bill come up for a vote and it breezes through the legislature and the Governor signs even when they know chances of being implemented are slim to none.   Big waste of taxpayer dollars.  No one should be in office that allows their personal beliefs to replace the Laws of the Land.  It is not their job to impose their beliefs on everyone else but to conduct their job in an ethical manner according to the law even if they don't agree with the law.  Attorney Generals in red states are way overstepping today and costing the taxpayers millions with their lawsuits.  They need to do their job in an unbiased manner which is what they are elected to do no matter the party.

What is with ALEC Legislatures that pass bills, they get signed into law, and are unconstitutional? What may have started out as a good idea with ALEC has turned into a monster since the Koch Bros became involved.  They write most of the bills and for some reason have made anti-abortion a major centerpiece of legislation as the War on Women's Rights keeps increasing.  I have my theory that it is to raise money from the pro-life community who gives dollars at the mention of abortion to be used by the Koch Bros to defeat all moderate GOP and Democrats.

This is SOP for Oklahoma abortion laws because our legislature keeps overreaching and forgetting that Federal Law trumps State Law which they should not have to be reminded but thought I would throw that in since the hard right GOP seems to forget that fact.  
Oklahoma Rejected by Top Court on Ultrasound Abortion LawBy Greg Stohr - Nov 12, 2013 12:01 PM CT 
The U.S. Supreme Court refused to revive an Oklahoma abortion law that would have required doctors to first perform an ultrasound, show it to the woman and describe what the image depicts. 
Rejecting an appeal by state officials, the justices left intact an Oklahoma Supreme Court decision that invalidated the law as placing an unconstitutional burden on abortion rights.

The rebuff marks the second time this month that the high court has declined to reinstate Oklahoma abortion regulations. The justices earlier dropped a planned case over restrictions on drug-induced abortions after the Oklahoma Supreme Court said the state’s law would have outlawed all such procedures.
The rebuff is “another clear message to lawmakers across the U.S. that attacks on women’s health, rights and dignity are patently unconstitutional and will not be allowed to stand,” said Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights. That group sued to challenge the law on behalf of Nova Health Systems, an abortion provider. 
Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt argued that the ultrasound requirement was a legitimate effort to ensure that a woman wouldn’t later regret her decision to have an abortion. 
Pruitt said in a statement that a federal appeals court had upheld a similar ultrasound law in Texas
“The unfortunate message sent by the Oklahoma Supreme Court’s decision in this case is that when it comes to abortion regulations, what is legal in other states is illegal in Oklahoma,” he said. 
Excerpt:  Read More at Bloomberg
Making women pay for an ultrasound when they want an abortion is just wrong.  Can you imagine having been raped and having to endure an ultrasound or even worse having to terminate a pregnancy due to the danger of a mother's health?  In some states, you cannot get an abortion after 20 weeks even if your baby has died or will never be a viable person.  Do these neanderthal Republicans even think of the consequences of their action?  Is this all about being a he-man on procreation.  The white male dominated GOP of today has idiots in it that say you cannot get pregnant from a rape because of some hormone that prevents the pregnancy.   How demeaning to a woman that has been raped and does get pregnant.

These are the same white males who are cutting the SNAP program for the poor, want to do away with the school breakfast and lunch, head start funds,  and almost forgot the WIC Program that provides nutrition to the mother and child.  What we are left with is a Party that wants no abortion and is against contraceptives, but do not want to take care of the children AFTER they are born?  That defies common sense but then common sense is not two words I would use with the GOP today -- there is none left in about 90% of the Tea Party base as they drove the rest of us out.

Will never understand the fixation on abortion, contraceptives, and pregnancy in the GOP.  Have asked for years why it is okay for men to get male enhancement drugs or drugs for erectile dysfunction but not okay to pay for contraceptives to prevent pregnancy?  The standard reply on a website was that it affects their 'manhood' and that their job is to 'make babies' so I assume they believe that a woman only has one job and that is to have their children with a mentality like that.  Cannot tell you the number of times I have blasted these Neanderthals.  They are the original women should not be allowed to vote or express their opinion on politics, should not be in the workforce unless they work for them, and are to be the good little housewife who stays home with her children and doesn't venture into the real world.

True story:  Was leaving a restaurant talking to a guy about politics when he said he tells his wife he votes for her because she doesn't understand anything about politics and would vote wrong - he got my raised eyebrow, rolling eye look.  I kept telling myself to keep my mouth shut but I said finally said "you must be kidding" and he said "honest truth" and was left to get to my car as fast as I could and then later ask someone close if he really meant that and he concurred he meant that.  Welcome to the GOP white males of today who want to dominate everything when it comes to women.

When someone asks me why I can no longer support Republicans, it is easy -- believe I have as much right to my vote, my opinion, and my beliefs as any male -- they have no right to tell me how to vote, think, or to sit down and shut up.  Women need to become more vocal who are willing to stand up for what is right and fight these GOP Neanderthals at every turn as they attempt to turn back the clocks on women's rights across the board.   The so-called "Patriotic" Republican white male dominated party with their wives who listen to them and follow their lead need a lesson on elections since they cannot take losses and still try to enforce their beliefs on the rest of us starting with abortion after they lost nationwide.  

Monday, November 11, 2013

Veterans Day, November 11th, 2013

This comes from the 2011 Memorial Daily Celebration on the Mall but the songs from the five services, Coast Guard, Air Force, Navy, Marines, and Army are reminders of the men and women who have served in our military over the years and the ones serving today.

My family has a long line of serving our Nation going back to the Revolutionary War to the most recent service of my daughter in the US Navy along with my son-in-law who is retired Navy.  My Dad served in the Army, my children's Dad in the Marine Corps and after being around the Air Force the last 35+, it is near and dear to my heart.   

God Bless those who are serving and those that have served over the years who deserve a lot more then the current group of Republicans are giving them.  GOP talks a good talk but when it comes to approving a Veteran's Job Bill, SNAP benefits for Veterans and some Active Duty, or upgrading the Veterans Hospitals, the current Republicans are all talk and no action.  They are proving by their actions they don't care about our veterans at all if it means closing a loophole and costing their wealthy donors money. 

Time for everyone to join on helping our veterans because they have given so much to this Country and asks for so little!  Please thank a Vet today for their service!    

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Oklahoma Won't Process Benefits for Married, Same Sex Couples on State Property

Welcome to Oklahoma where the Governor and Attorney General believe that state law trumps federal law!
Oklahoma Governor Ignores Pentagon Criticism, Still Won't Offer Benefits For Married Gay Couples
The Huffington Post  |  By Paige Lavender 
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) said her state's taxpayer-funded National Guard facilities and employees will not process benefits for married, same-sex couples, despite Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel criticizing the move days ago. 
On Nov. 1, Hagel said it's "wrong" for states to defy the Pentagon by refusing benefits for same-sex spouses of military members. 
"Not only does this violate the states' obligation under federal law, their actions have created hardship and inequality by forcing couples to travel long distances to federal military bases to obtain the ID cards they're entitled to," Hagel said during a speech. 
According to the AP, Fallin said Wednesday that all marriage benefits will be processed by federal employees at four federally owned National Guard facilities and at the state's five military bases. Her refusal to allow federal employees to process benefits for same-sex couples is not new -- in September, Fallin ordered the National Guard to stop processing gay couples' requests. 
Tulsa World reports Fallin reached her most recent decision with Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt. She said in a statement that her decision wouldn't put Oklahoma in conflict with federal law despite the apparent conflict with Hagel's orders: 
Oklahoma law is clear. The state of Oklahoma does not recognize same sex marriages, nor does it confer marriage benefits to same sex couples. The decision reached today allows the National Guard to obey Oklahoma law without violating federal rules or policies. It protects the integrity of our state Constitution and sends a message to the federal government that they cannot simply ignore our laws or the will of the people.
Do State Leaders know how dumb that sounds when so many of the bills passed through the overwhelmingly GOP Legislature and signed by the OK Republican Governor get overturned as Unconstitutional.  The one that gets me the most and waste our tax dollars is the requirement that only "ONE" subject be in a bill but that doesn't phase our legislature and Governor as they continue to put more then one subject in a bill at the last minute to sneak it through and then it gets overturned because it is against the Constitution.  That is just dumb but frankly that sums up our State Government.  Don't know how many Press Releases have gone out on grading standards for Oklahoma schools as the Governor and her staff try to clarify the clarification.

New Jersey got the message when their DOMA was overturned by SCOTUS so how long will it be before Oklahoma DOMA is overturned?!
On June 26, 2013, the US Supreme Court ruled DOMA unconstitutional which opened the way for gays to eventually marry in New Jersey.   On October 18, 2013, after a ruling approving gay marriage by the NJ Supreme Court, Gov Christie back off and even though he personally objected, he decided to abide by the law and help the people of New Jersey who were gay and wanted to marry.
Whether you agree or disagree with Governor Christie that is one example of why he was overwhelmingly re-elected in New Jersey as he abides by the law which is rare out of a lot of GOP Governor's today who believe they know more than the Federal Government.  They have taken the 10th Amendment way too far.

Cannot wait to see heads explode one of these days when the Oklahoma DOMA gets overturned. Today's hard right put out in front social issues as their litmus test which I fail miserably because frankly most of their social issues turn me off as they are so hard right and dictatorial  with no wiggle room.  I am going to sit back and laugh when the day arrives that DOMA in Oklahoma is dead.

There is no place in this Country for discrimination on any level and time Oklahoma finally woke up out of the Republican slumber and realized that we are part of the United States first and Oklahoma second.  When the SCOTUS rules, it affects every last American even if the Oklahoma Governor and Attorney General don't think it does.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Is the GOP Tea Party on Life Support? Not Even Close -- More Spin from GOP!

The vast majority of Republicans in the House, however, allowed that shutdown to happen. Most establishment lawmakers have sat by quietly for years as the party was pushed to the extremes, too afraid of a primary to speak up. Many benefited from secret super-PAC spending provided by the likes of the Koch brothers, or took Tea Party stands without ever really believing in them, all because they liked being back in power and didn’t particularly care what kind of bargain would keep them there.
Former Rep LaTourette sounds good if you are a Republican but you have to remember for years he was Speaker John Boehner's Lieutenant in the House and would do what was necessary to protect him. Is this is what is going on today as they want to raise large sums of money and run ads against Tea Party candidates.  How about getting a backbone and standing up to the Tea Party and the Koch Bros so people know you are serious?  That looks unlikely to happen.
A new Republican group called “Main Street Advocacy” is about to begin running ads against the hard-liners who have done so much to embarrass the party. One of the ads puts losing candidates like Todd Akin and Sharron Angle in a “Hall of Shame,” and ends with the word “defund” — a reminder of the failed attempt to end health care reform, which led to a widely reviled government shutdown. 
“We want our party back,” the group’s leader, former Representative Steven C. LaTourette of Ohio, told Eric Lipton of The Times. “And we are going to do what it takes to accomplish that.”
Call me the skeptic as I don't think any of the GOP have the backbone to stand up to the Koch Bros who are calling the shots and the reason I refuse to support any GOP in 2014!  As stated in an article below we have a case in Oklahoma with a GOP ALEC Governor who has backtracked on what she said about threatening school administrators to basically shut-up or lose school funding.  Then comes along and says she didn't say that and people who say that she did are wrong.  That is how I see what happened in the House of Representatives that led the shut down -- try not to take the blame for what they did.

The minute former Speaker Denny Hastert said there was NO Hastert Rule that required that you have to get a majority of your conference to bring a vote to the floor, he effective yanked the rug out from under Speaker Boehner and his conference.  Then he revealed he never talks to Boehner.  OOPS!  We are starting to see that the House is filled with a group of Republicans who run back to their district saying one thing and voting differently in DC like no one has access to the internet.  Seems Republicans are really stuck in the Way Back Machine.

This from the David Firestone article at the NY Times made me laugh:
Standing up to the speaker and taking a public position on divisive issues would require actual courage, which is rarely on display in the Republican Party. Instead, the moderates would rather raise corporate money and hide behind the anonymity of a TV ad, making fun of easy targets like Christine O’Donnell, notorious for declaring that she was “not a witch.”
Lost track of the number of times I have referenced the "I am not a witch" O'Donnell since I first saw the video and she was dressed in black.  I still chuckle today -- that was a classic video.

Been sitting here today reading and listening to the fallout from elections last night and seems I have a different take on which race to look.  IMHO the key race with the numbers that count is the Lt Governor statewide race in Virginia which gives a better indication of what it is like for a Democrat to take on a hard right Tea Party Republican who won at the Virginia convention for Lt Governor. Republican Jackson, who turned out to be extremely hard right which even caused the GOP candidate for Governor Cuccinelli to back away from him lost big.  Democrat State Senator Northam ran a quiet race and ended up winning the Lt Governor's race 55.14% to 44.49% -- there is your real difference when you have a candidate like Northam who is well liked.

Democrats were concerned about McAuliffe running because of baggage from the beginning.  Looks like even though Cuccinelli was hard right who made some really dumb statements, being a Clintonite hurt McAuliffe with some independents and disgusted moderate Republicans.  Democrats would be well advised if they want to pick up those extra house seats to choose their candidates looking to the general election.  Don't Democrats understand that independents and moderate Republicans don't like the Clintons any better then the Democrats like GW Bush -- call it a standoff.  Independents are an important part of the electorate you need in some states to win.  I say no more Bush's or Clinton's - have had enough.

The Democrats need younger blood to run IMHO as they have some outstanding candidates on their bench versus the hard right of the Republican Party who is still in charge of the GOP.  Last thing we need is an aging baby boomer running with baggage for President from either party.  Don't be fooled into thinking Christie is a moderate who has a hard right base who will push him further to the right. He is pro-life, anti-gay marriage, anti-raising the minimum wage, etc. but he takes credit for it after the Court struck him down on gay marriage and his veto gets overturned on various issues.  Christie will not be able to to play it down the middle if he runs for President.  His record will catch up with him.

Washington Post article by Reid Wilson hails the fact that today would be the time to sell Christie if he was a stock as he most likely has reached as high as he will go:
Chris Christie just won a higher percentage of the vote than any Republican running in New Jersey since 1985. He won a huge majority of independent voters. He made inroads among African Americans, Hispanics, women, even Democratic voters. The northeastern-centric media universe will hail Christie as the savior of the Republican Party. 
All of that is why, if he were a stock, today would be the perfect day to sell shares in Chris Christie. 
Christie has plenty of assets that will serve him well as he prepares his all-but-inevitable presidential bid. He is aggressive at a moment when Americans crave decisive leadership. He is certain of where he stands in an era that abhors flip-flopping. He is highly intelligent and savvy enough to avoid an “oops” moment. He’s even more popular than the average presidential candidate is before launching a bid. 
But the reality is that Christie faces enormous hurdles if he wants to run for president, which means today, as he basks in the glow of an adoring media spotlight after his historic win, is probably at the apex of his political career — at least until he wins his first early nominating process.
These are just a few of my takes on last night.  The days of the Tea Party GOP would be numbered if there were any backbones left in the GOP leadership but when you are bought and paid for by big donors, it doesn't leave much wiggle room when you put your career head of the Country.  There is another example of that coming once again from Pete Sessions (R-TX) (what is with the TX water?):
"Everything we do in this body should be about messaging to win back the Senate,” Sessions said. “That’s it. If you don’t want Benghazis to happen or you want an investigation for Benghazi, if you want an investigation on the IRS as opposed to the excuses that [Senate Majority Leader] Harry Reid [D-Nev.] is all about, if you do not like what’s happening at the [National Security Agency], then you gain the Senate.” Rep Pete Sessions
Republicans are not there to Govern but obstruct to take the Senate back.  Show the GOP the door from the Congress straight to the unemployment line in January 2015.