Saturday, March 30, 2013

Oklahoma Governor Fallin Pushes Tax Cuts for Wealthy

What takes the biggest hit for the tax cuts for wealthy Oklahomans?  EDUCATION and INFRASTRUCTURE!  

Citizens of Oklahoma said no last year to tax cuts and wanted full funding for education and infrastructure.  Following the lead of the National Republicans, the Oklahoma Republican officials forge ahead with this idea we must have tax cuts for the wealthy even though it cuts into programs.  It is disgusting that the GOP at all levels cannot see the forest for the trees.  The money for wealthy tax cuts would be better spent on education to fix some of our poor performing high schools which sit within miles of the State Capitol.

It has taken years to get money to fix bridges in Norman that were losing concrete.  Try driving some of our accordion roads like I-40 eastbound or drive across crumbling bridges and you discover if the Federal Government has not funded or local bond issues, Oklahoma is way behind in fixing infrastructure.

Then there is fixing the State Capitol building that IMHO should not have had a dome added until you made sure the original building was fully repaired and structurally sound for the dome.  Now the Capitol sheds concrete while our GOP Legislature wants to wait 6-8 years to fix until they can pay cash but with the $100M hit for wealthy tax cuts, that's a pipe dream.  Just let it deteriorate more instead fixing the problem now using low interest bonds.  Are there no Republican engineers in the Legislature that are will to speak out about fixing the Capitol?

With the lack of funding for education and infrastructure, the state finds enough money to keep funding defense of social issues that keep getting overturned by the Courts as Unconstitutional.  Governor Fallin also turned down Medicaid funds from Obamacare so now over 100,000 people will not have healthcare but the wealthy are going to get a tax cut if the GOP has their way.  Let me get this straight -- there is not enough money to pay for additional people on Medicaid with Obamacare Exchanges but there is enough money for tax cuts?  Once again GOP is proving the wealthy come first no matter what.

Let's not forget the money wasted for the OK Attorney General to sue to block and/or end Obamacare which was declared Constitutional.  Shaking my head at the amount of money wasted in this state on using the Attorney General's office to defend bills that are Unconstitutional or in this case end Obamacre which is not going to happen.

All the while Oklahoma Republicans short change education and infrastructure not to mention state employees who very seldom get raises including 2013 where a pay raise for 34,000 state employees is not included in the budget.  Yet, they want to cut tax rates for the wealthy!  If I was a state employee, I wouldn't vote for a Republican if you paid me - actually I am getting that way as regular citizen.  Then there is this when it comes to Oklahoma education that was enacted before Republicans took control of the legislature:
This law was enacted just ten years ago, at which time it was unanimously adopted by both chambers. 
“It’s my understanding that the author of this bill as well as others consider the Fund Education First policy to be antiquated given the Legislature has effectively ignored this mandate for eight of the last nine years,” said Rep. Kay Floyd, D-Oklahoma City. “However, I am disheartened at this defeatist perspective, because as lawmakers we can and should champion the education of our children, and that goal begins with prioritizing appropriations to our public school system.” 
In 2004 the legislature met the Fund Education First deadline when the governor approved common education funding on March 22nd, 2004. Every year since, however, the deadline has come and went without much hoorah or explanation. 
Although the law requires legislators to create a common education budget by April 1st, there is no penalty if they fail to meet this deadline. 
In 2005 following 2004 election, Republicans took over the House and funding education no longer was a priority so they routinely go against the law they helped pass.  In 2004, Governor Henry, a Democrat, was in charge with an Oklahoma Democrat legislature so things got done.  Since the Republicans took over, the state has been going downhill on education and infrastructure funding in particular but number of ballot measures to push their hard right agenda has risen.

This headline is not something I would want to see as Governor if I was running for reelection:
Oklahoma Latest Republican State To Push Tax Cuts For The Rich 
By Travis Waldron on Mar 29, 2013 at 10:45 am 
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) is the latest Republican governor pushing for cuts to the state income tax, and like the plans from other states, Fallin’s would give most of its benefits to the state’s wealthiest residents. The proposal is gaining steam in the state legislature, where it has passed the House and is awaiting consideration in the Senate. 
Fallin’s plan reduces the top income tax rate from 5.25 percent to 5 percent, and while it is modest compared to tax cuts other Republican states are pursuing, it would still cost the state roughly $100 million a year. And according to the Oklahoma Policy Institute, more than 40 percent of its tax cuts would go to the state’s richest 5 percent of residents while the bottom 60 percent would see just 9 percent of the benefits. The poorest fifth of Oklahoma residents would see no tax cut at all
Oklahoma’s tax code is already skewed toward the wealthy: the poorest Oklahomans pay an average of 10.3 percent of their income in taxes, while the wealthiest 1 percent pay just 4.6 percent of theirs, according to the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy. And while Fallin is cutting taxes and reducing state revenues, Oklahoma will spend less this fiscal year on education than it did last year and is still spending 10.7 percent less on higher education than it did before the recession. 
Republican governors across the country are pitching tax cuts that benefit the wealthy, and like Fallin, they sell them as a way to boost their economies. A recent report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, however, found that after a similar round of tax cuts in the 1990s, states that cut taxes saw slower economic and job growth than states that did not. (HT Citizens for Tax Justice)
I opposed tax cuts last year along with many Oklahomans and oppose them this year as Republicans are going to take $100M out of the Treasury with nothing to show for it.  Wealthy are not going to create jobs but our education and infrastructure which future employers look at is going to take another hit.  What is with the GOP mentality about tax cuts for the wealthy is the end all be all?  It is shortsighted and foolish.

The people in the bracket below $175,000 better think twice before voting for any GOP for office in Oklahoma in 2014.  The small tax cut for wealthy Oklahomans is going to hurt the State in the long run but the stubborn GOP only cares about the wealthy so it makes them no difference.

Just say NO to Tax Cuts in Oklahoma!

Friday, March 29, 2013

GOP Attack on Obamacare with Flawed 'Study' Goes Down in Flames

Imagine that, a group bought and paid for by the Koch's with the help of ALEC who is loyal to the Koch's puts out a "Misleading and Highly Incomplete Study" on ACA

Figured when The Drudge Report had the headlines that Affordable Care Act (ACA) was going to cost much more then expected that somewhere there was a 'report' that probably didn't use full facts but followed a Republican narrative instead of facts to end up supporting Congressional Republican opposition to AHA.  The minute I saw the Heritage Foundation was involved knew there were major problems because former Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) has never played by the rules but follows a narrative.  He is going to damage the reputation of The Heritage Foundation to the point when they put out any research, it will be assumed to be tainted.  No wonder the Koch Brothers wanted DeMint to take over Heritage Foundation. They have their own little puppet in charge now who when they pull the strings dances to their agenda.
the latest “the sky is falling” study of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) has just been released by the Society of Actuaries (SOA) and its message is clear. Insurance companies are going to take it on the chin starting in 2014 and every year thereafter.
Imagine that, a group bought and paid for by the Koch's with the help of ALEC who is loyal to the Koch's puts out a "Misleading and Highly Incomplete Study."  Who would have thought?  Only about 60% of Americans or more instantly figured the Republican Party donors were up to no good again.  We are proved right again with ALEC being involved now in trying to turn people against ACA for Republicans.  This group just doesn't stop in attempting to damage the Country and this President.

To get to the high numbers Drudge was shouting would doom ACA, Politicususa looked inside the report:
It covers medical claims for only “individual health policies.”   No estimates were included for employer plans, the source of the majority of health insurance coverage. 
Only individual policies were studied not employee plans?  Right there you have an extremely flawed report without going any further discussion. They have completely ignored in their report how much our healthcare costs have been rising over the last ten years ( 131% increase in premiums).  The American people got sucker punched once again by the Koch Brothers on behalf of the Republican Party and their members of Congress.  Fortunately Americans are a lot smarter now after the 2010/2012 elections about what the hard right is up to when they release a so-called 'study,' and you look under the cover.

The Obama Administration found the flaws in the report immediately:
Administration officials pointed out more shortfalls in the design of the study; a design whose parameters in my opinion were intentionally drawn to result in a preordained conclusion. Tax credits and other special payments to companies that would in all likelihood insure most of the sicker clients were ignored.
Right there are the facts - the so-called 'study' is flawed but then when you have ALEC (think Koch Brothers) and Heritage Foundation (think Jim DeMint) involved, there is no other conclusion that could be reached.  When facts don't fit their narrative, this group eschews the facts to plow ahead with parameters that will fit their narrative.

The dots are connected by Politicususa as to who is behind this flawed 'Study' attack on ACA:
A Misleading and Highly Incomplete ‘Study’ Continues the GOP Attack on Obamacare  (excerpts)
By: Dennis SMar. 28th, 2013 
Here comes the juicy part. John Haley, an influential “Fellow” in the SOA is CEO and President of Towers Watson & Company. TW & C specializes in health and group benefits. Tasty when you can get the outfit you serve as a “Fellow” to do the heavy statistical lifting for your company. And, wouldn’t you know it, Haley’s company is the daddy to Extend Health, America’s largest private Medicare Exchange. There’s that competition I was talking about that was left out of the study. The health insurance industry must not be hurting too much; 2011 total compensation for Haley was $6,288,629; for 2012 a “healthy” $7,617,513 including stock awards and options. He also draws money from several boards he sits on. 
Here’s the payoff. I called the folks at SOA and asked them if this was an in-house study or was it commissioned by an outside source? Turns out 2 companies combined their resources in ordering the ACA chop-job. One of the companies was “The Lewin Group.” It’s a health care consulting firm with at least a dozen health plans and the far right American Legislative Council (ALEC)-connected Heritage Foundation among its clients
The other money contributor that commissioned the study is where it really gets interesting. The company is called OptumRX (at least as of this submission). It has also answered to Ingenix and OptumInsight in the past. Part of the name changes has to do with a $350 million dollar class-action restitution fund growing out rigging a database to underpay doctors and patients. The Optum parent company is UnitedHealth, a company that, according to Kaiser Health News has a reputation for denying or underpaying claims, especially to out-of-network physicians. I guess that’s how you become the #1 health insurance company in the country. 
It should come as no surprise to any thinking human being that United Health is a major ALEC player that has been a $50,000 “Chairman” level sponsor and exhibitor at an ALEC annual conference. 
So that’s how it works. The special interests bent on destroying Obamacare, keep the pressure building, oft-times through legitimate “non-partisan” organizations like the Society of Actuaries. Such organizations have expenses. For SOA there’s rent to pay at their Schaumburg, Illinois Martingale Rd. Suite and the tab for the Queensland Hong Kong office and staff (still semi-capitalist after nearly 16 years of Chinese rule), neither locale’s staff works for nothing. There are research and education projects undertaken by SOA itself plus conferences to go to and ordering in (Chinese?) for top management. 
You can read more of the article at  (Note:  My bold in the article)

As you read the details of this report you realize that the Society of Actuaries was well paid to do this so-called 'study' but seems they were provided the parameters to use which has resulted in a total flawed 'study' that can be labeled worthless.  That doesn't stop Republicans from touting the study to try and end Obamacare which makes no sense since it is essentially their plan from the early 90's.  Do they hate Obama and Democrats that much to trash a plan that they helped come up with in the 90's?  Sure looks like it and why the GOP no longer should be listened to in Congress as they are proving daily that most of them do not have the best interests of the Country at heart but their own selfish and wealthy donor interests.

What are Republicans going to pull out of the hat next to try and destroy Obamacare since this 'study' is going down in flames?  

Thursday, March 28, 2013

GOP Senators Paul, Lee, Cruz, and Rubio Want to Filibuster Any Gun Bills Before Any Debate

No debate necessary on gun control - the four member governing body of GOP Senators have spoken.

Republicans in the Senate are at it again - now want to filibuster Gun Reforms before bill is even debated on the floor of the Senate.  Rand Paul (R-KY), Mike Lee (R-UT), Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Marco Rubio (R-FL) are part of what is wrong in the Senate as they have the attitude as the minority they can just filibuster what they do not want as it makes no difference as long as debate and vote is stopped.  The problem is that it is not one or two issues but almost everything a few hard right Senators decide doesn't need to come to the floor.

Majority Leader Reid should NOT have made a deal with Minority Leader McConnell on filibusters because within days the GOP started abusing filibusters again and McConnell set back and did nothing.  You cannot trust today's Republican males in the Senate not to make utter fools of themselves as they seek to stop bills.  Over 90% of the American people want tightened background checks and the four stooges don't even want a vote.  Must be getting heavy donations to their campaigns from the NRA.  Am sick and tired of Republican Senator and House members  putting big donors over the Country.  This bunch of Republicans in Congress for the most part cannot be trusted as evidenced by what we are seeing on Gun Reform.  There are some Dems in the same category in the Senate who want nothing to do with gun control - afraid of reelection?  How about if both sides work for the American people not the NRA?
Reid’s Office Denounces ‘Outrageous’ GOP Filibuster Threat On Gun Reforms

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's (D-NV) office on Thursday lambasted a threat by a handful of Republican senators to filibuster gun legislation, after President Obama urged Congress to act in a televised speech. 
"While this threat is entirely unsurprising, it's outrageous that these senators are unwilling to even engage in a debate over gun violence in America," Reid's spokesman Adam Jentleson said in a statement to TPM. "No matter your opinion on this issue, we should all be able to agree with President Obama when he said that the children and teachers of Newtown, along with all other Americans who have been victims of gun violence, at least deserve a vote." 
The threat to vote against a motion to begin debating the bill was made in a letter by Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY), Mike Lee (R-UT) and Ted Cruz (R-TX), which was cosigned by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) on Thursday.
With parents who lost children to gun violence along with some of their teachers standing behind the President Obama, he is once again pushing Congress for action on gun control measures -- are they listening?

President Obama: We Have Not Forgotten What Happened in Newtown

Today, President Obama promised the American people that he had not forgotten the 20 innocent chidlren and six brave educators who lost their lives at Sandy Hook Elementary more than 100 days ago. Standing with parents and teachers of gun violence victims, he urged Congress to take action that will protect other children and families from the pain and grief these families have experienced. 
“As I said when I visited Newtown just over three months ago, if there is a step we can take that will save just one child, just one parent, just another town from experiencing the same grief that some of the moms and dads who are here have endured, then we should be doing it,” President Obama said. “We have an obligation to try.” 
In January, the President put forward a series of common-sense proposals to reduce the epidemic of gun violence and keep our kids safe, and in his State of the Union address, the President called on Congress to give these proposals a vote.  “And in just a couple of weeks, they will,” he said.
Excerpt:  Read More at White House website
No one is coming to take anyone's legitimate guns away from them but you would never know it from the hysterics from the NRA and those on the right.  Have never understood why increasing background checks to include all guns sold at gun shows is wrong.  Don't get the mentality of today's gun crowd which is nothing like my Dad when he owned guns to hunt animals not people.  IMHO I still think parents who leave a loaded gun around their house that a child gets access and kills themselves or someone else should be charged with child endangerment.  Put that on a website and see attacks start.  If your child is not in the proper car seat and dies in a wreck, you are held responsible so why not with guns.

Please contact your members of Congress and tell them to support reasonable gun control laws and to stop any idea of a filibuster in the Senate.  Tired of grand standers and this is what these Senators are doing with two of them Paul and Rubio hoping to run for President.  Not getting my vote but then my votes for the GOP are not happening with the crazy GOP of today.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) on the Ropes After SCOTUS Hearing Today

With DOMA on the ropes after arguments were heard by the US Supreme Court, hard right is in meltdown mode

Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) pertinent provisions:
The main provisions of the act are as follows: 
Section 2. Powers reserved to the states
No State, territory, or possession of the United States, or Indian tribe, shall be required to give effect to any public act, record, or judicial proceeding of any other State, territory, possession, or tribe respecting a relationship between persons of the same sex that is treated as a marriage under the laws of such other State, territory, possession, or tribe, or a right or claim arising from such relationship. 
Section 3. Definition of marriage
In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States, the word 'marriage' means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word 'spouse' refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.
Americans are finally waking up to the fact they are sick and tired of being told how to live their lives by the evangelical hard right as they are trying to do once again this time on DOMA.  Used to ask on websites who made them the judge and jury of anyone which would infuriate the hard right to no end.  You cannot imagine how disgusted I am at the 'my way or no way' crowd who wants to govern how you live your life every day based on their agenda.  'Narrow minded' are two words that come to mind today to describe the hard right evangelicals who are now opposing the right of two gays to marry.  Would someone please tell me what difference it makes to the hard right evangelicals because frankly it is none of their business.

Still have not recovered from the fact that the US House of Representative Republicans in this time of austerity has spent $3M of our tax dollars to defend  the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) which I never understood.  What right did the House Republicans have to spend out money on a social issue?
Huffington Post reports: 
House Republican leaders took over the legal defense of DOMA in the spring of 2011, when Attorney General Eric Holder announced the Obama administration would no longer defend it on the grounds that they found it unconstitutional. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and other GOP leaders hired attorneys at the law firm Bancroft LLC to represent the House in court cases involving the federal ban on gay marriage — all with taxpayer dollars. 
On Jan. 4, Rep. Candice Miller (R-Mich.), who chairs the House Administration Committee, signed a revised contract with Bancroft LLC that increases the spending cap to $3 million to allow Bancroft attorneys to keep defending DOMA in court. The revised contract also bears the signatures of Bancroft partner Paul Clement and Kerry Kircher, general counsel for the House of Representatives.
Personally think the House should take $3M out of their budget and return it to the US Treasury.  IMHO they had no right to spend our tax dollars on DOMA.  House Republicans by all accounts are about to lose the war not just the battle when it comes to overturning DOMA at the Federal level:
A majority of the Supreme Court justices delivered a beating to the Defense of Marriage Act during oral arguments Wednesday, signaling a positive outcome for marriage equality.
The four liberal-leaning justices and Justice Anthony Kennedy appeared deeply skeptical that the federal government has legal justification for treating gay and straight couples unequally. They seemed inclined to overturn Section 3 of the 1996 law, which prohibits federal recognition of same-sex marriage and thereby denies benefits to gay and lesbian couples even if they are legally wed in their states. 
In his line of questioning, Kennedy, who has a track record in favor of gay rights, repeatedly contended that the federal government had exceeded its constitutional authority.
“You are at real risk of going in conflict … with federal police powers,” he told Paul Clement, the lawyer arguing in favor of upholding DOMA. When Clement tried to argue that it was a valid exercise of federal power and does not infringe on states’ rights, Kennedy responded, “I see illogic in your argument.” He wondered why Congress could deny marriage benefits in states “where the voters have decided” that same sex marriage ought to be legal.
Some of the reaction on the right to the possibility that DOMA may be overturned has made me laugh as they see one of main issues going down in flames.  Never has made sense to oppose gay marriage when it is an individual matter.  No one is telling churches they have to marry gays or anyone else so I don't see a problem.  There are a lot of gays in a relationship that is more enduring then heterosexuals IMHO.

Personally have thought it was a state's rights issue for years up to a point.  If a gay couple has been married in a state recognizing gay marriage, then I think their marriage should be recognized wherever they move.  Think it is shortsighted for states to oppose gay marriage but it should be up to voters.  In Oklahoma I would have bet a lottery never would have been passed but it did.  Once you get in the voting booth, no one can see your vote and from reaction I have seen locally not sure DOMA would be upheld here today. Thought I would include some comments from the hard right to show some examples of how out of touch today's Republican Party has become:

Former Governor Mike Huckabee:
Huckabee:  Evangelicals Will Walk if GOP Backs Gay Marriage
Mike Huckabee warns that Republicans risk losing the vote from evangelical Christians if they back away from their opposition to gay marriage. 
Last week, Ohio Sen. Bob Portman announced he has reversed his position and now supports gay marriage. 
In an exclusive interview with Newsmax TV, former Arkansas Gov. Huckabee — and ordained Southern Baptist minister — was asked if he sees the GOP ever pivoting and backing gay marriage.  
“They might. And if they do, they’re going to lose a large part of their base because evangelicals will take a walk,” he responds.
Governor Rick Perry (R-TX):
Rick Perry Warns Of 'Unsettling Time In Our Nation's History,' Says Gay Rights Activists Lack 'Tolerance' 
Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) stood before conservatives gathered at a Faith and Family Rally in Austin on Tuesday and spoke about what he perceives as a sustained attack on their values by gay rights activists. 
“This is a very unsettling time in our nation’s history,” Perry said, according to the Associated Press. “These are the days when a person is vilified when they state that they believe fundamentally that marriage is between one man and one woman.” 
Perry spoke just hours after the Supreme Court heard arguments on Proposition 8, California's gay marriage ban. On Wednesday, the justices will consider a case challenging the federal Defense of Marriage Act. 
Perry went on to suggest that the decision by LGBT rights advocates to fight for equal treatment was proof that they were themselves intolerant. 
“The underlying problem is that there is this very vocal, very litigious minority of Americans willing to legally attack anybody who dares utter a phrase or even a name that they don’t agree with,” he said. “In a twisting of logic, they insist on silencing the religious in the cause of tolerance. Now I ask you, where is the tolerance in that?”
Guess Perry doesn't see himself as being intolerant which shows how far his head is buried in the sand.  His comments are the height of intolerance.

Red State's Erick Erickson:
Erick Erickson Pretty Certain Gay Marriage Is Step One Of Leftist Holocaust Against Christians
What [libertarians] ignore is that the left will never take marriage out of the hands of the government. The left cannot. But it goes beyond that. The left cannot take marriage out of government because for so long it has been government through which marriages were legitimized to the public and the left must also use government to silence those, particularly the religious, who refuse to play along.
We would be remiss if we didn't include Rush Limbaugh's comments since he seems to speak for the hard right GOP today:
Limbaugh: High Court’s ‘Exalted’ Lawyers Should Not Decide Gay Marriage
Conservative radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh said on Tuesday that the Supreme Court’s “nine exalted lawyers” should not validate gay marriage because it is against the will of the American people. 
“The court could issue a narrow ruling that would create a right to gay marriage in California only, maybe a few other states, or it could announce a constitutional right to gay marriage everywhere,” Limbaugh said on his afternoon radio show. “Do you realize what the problem is with all of this? The problem is that, once again, nine exalted lawyers are determining something that has been a tradition since beginning of time. Nine exalted lawyers.
For more comments from the right, please visit Media Matters.  The hard right with their comments is in a total meltdown that DOMA will be overturned.  From Pat Robertson, to Focus on the Family James Dobson, to Pat Buchanan, Michael Savage, Mark Levin, Mark Davis on Rush, and others, the meltdown mode is picking up steam - waiting now for the usual it is the end of the world comments.  Just think the conservatives have several more months before a SCOTUS ruling comes down.  They may totally implode by then.

From all reports it looks like that DOMA passed by Congress and signed into law by President Clinton on Sep 21, 1996, may be history in June.  Today Bill Clinton opposes DOMA and has come out in favor of gay marriage saying it was a mistake to sign the original bill and now wants DOMA overturned.

Stay tuned as the meltdown on the right continues!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

President of NRA David Keene Shows NRA Arrogance on Gun Control Measures

"Wayne and I had both warned that if the president were to win a second term," Keene said, "it would be but a matter of time before he launched an assault on private firearms ownership. And that is what has happened." (Interview with Howard Fineman, Huffington Post)

Talk about delusional in order to sell more firearms, this is it.  Guess they missed Newtown and the impact it had across America which started individuals demanding gun/ammo control along with much tougher background checks.  People on the left were mad at President Obama for not doing anything on gun control in his first four years.  NRA doesn't think twice about lying and stirring up people in order to sell more guns/ammo to gun enthusiast.  Charlton Heston most likely wouldn't recognize today's NRA.

What we are seeing today from the NRA is an organization formed for gun owners to tout gun safety morphing into a lobbying group for gun and ammo manufacturers.  Find Wayne LaPierre creepy and David Keene, former head of American Conservative Union, someone who will do and say anything to make money.  Didn't realize his former wife embezzled from the ACU which explains why he left.  Found this from the Huffington Post interesting as the President of the NRA in the past has been a regular guy and now they named a political type?
In the years before Columbine, Aurora and Newtown became synonymous with gun violence, the National Rifle Association chose hunters and sportsmen to hold what was regarded as a ceremonial post. "They had Charlton Heston, of course, but the presidents tended to be guys from Montana or Wyoming who knew very little about politics or Washington or the media," said Craig Shirley, a political consultant and leading historian of the conservative movement.
"He's the NRA's first political president," said Shirley. 
(Keene's career also has been marked by trouble and controversy. In a sad irony given his current role, his son David was sentenced to 10 years in prison for firing a gun during a road rage incident a decade ago. More recently, Keene's former wife, Diana Hubbard Carr, pleaded guilty to embezzling funds from the American Conservative Union.)
No wonder the NRA is out of touch with most Americans including some current and former NRA members   who they refuse to acknowledge are former so their numbers stay high.  Naming Keene who was out of touch with most of America with CPAC shows that the NRA doesn't care about most Americans only the gun and ammo manufacturers as their rhetoric has shown since Newtown.  The use of scare tactics to get people to buy more guns is reprehensible.  The rhetoric is a scam so they can make more money as the NRA gun lobbyists for gun/ammo manufacturers.  What got to me out of his interview with Howard Feinman's were Keene's comments about Wayne LaPierra and the NRA after the Newtown Shooting.  Obvious that Keene refuses to face reality.
For I had asked him whether he or the NRA regretted its first responses to the mass murder of children by a killer with an assault weapon at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. 
The answer was "no." 
Not long after the December 2012 shooting, Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the NRA, had said that the only way to prevent more Sandy Hooks was to place armed guards in every school. The NRA had posted a web ad calling President Barack Obama an "elitist hypocrite" because Secret Service agents are posted outside his daughters' school. More recently, the NRA has pushed its case via robocalls throughout Connecticut, including Newtown, ostensibly to fight a tide of new gun control measures pending in the state Legislature. 
Keene told me that the NRA had no regrets or second thoughts and that gun control advocates had seized on the Newtown tragedy to pursue their own unconstitutional political agenda.
"We had to try to get some balance into the conversation," he said. "And we are in better shape now than our critics and even some within our ranks believed possible when this battle started."  
Keene is delusional if he thinks the NRA is in better shape then when this battle started as the American people are turning against the NRA in much bigger numbers and demanding gun control/tightened background checks now not years away.  NRA has bought so many members of Congress that they are pretty convinced no gun control laws will pass even tightened background checks as their puppets in Congress vote the NRA line.  The very idea you can go to a gun show and buy a semi-automatic rifle with no ID from a private seller tells most people with common sense that the NRA is out of control or they would be on board with tightened background checks.

Guess the NRA leaders figure that the voters will just go along and vote their puppets back into office.  They may be in for a rude awakening in 2014 and then in 2016 because people are getting madder at the NRA and their puppets in Congress.  They can brag about gun sales going through the roof but guns/ammo are being sold mostly to the same people not to new gun owners.  With the amount of deaths of young children in homes with loaded guns, you would think the NRA would go back to pushing safety not more guns.

I want to know why when a person leaves a loaded gun in their home and a child shoots himself or someone else charges are not filed against the gun owner for child endangerment.  It makes no sense.  The number of people killed by guns today leaves you wondering when this is going to end with common sense laws passed.  No one is taking guns away but I object to anyone walking into a gun show with no ID to buy a gun from a private owner.

Watch this video from and ask yourself why these type semi-automatic weapons are needed by individuals.  This ad is for Senator Flake of AZ but there are more on their website for other Senators:

More from the Interview with Howard Fineman at the Huffington Post:
Keene, LaPierre and others worked to put gun rights front and center during the 2012 GOP primaries (Mitt Romney lamely bragged about hunting "varmints") and in congressional and local races. 
The NRA and the GOP have lost ground, of course. After Newtown, surveys show that nine in 10 voters favor "universal" background checks. But the NRA remains a fearsomely focused force on the Hill, and in late March GOP Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Ted Cruz of Texas -- two stars of the conservative movement -- vowed to block even a background check measure from coming to a vote. 
"Wayne and I had both warned that if the president were to win a second term," Keene said, "it would be but a matter of time before he launched an assault on private firearms ownership. And that is what has happened." 
"Gun control advocates were ready," Keene argued. "Newtown gave them the chance to do just that. They launched their current anti-gun campaign even before the kids and teachers who died in that tragedy had been buried. [Democratic] Senator [Dianne] Feinstein [of California], who had her new assault weapons bill in a drawer, pulled it out. The president and vice president went after guns. Their question was not 'What can we do to prevent gun crime or mass murders?' but 'What can we do about guns?'" 
Keene has helped plan and carry out the response to those efforts since December. The idea is to amp up gun rights support by stoking populist resentment of the supposedly "elitist" gun control advocates, to threaten members of Congress with campaign-year retaliation if they stray from the NRA-approved line, and to push for school security and mental health measures to show the organization's concern. 
Keene's roots are libertarian, but his arguments tend to be more political and legal than philosophical. 
"Gallup and other pollsters began to find that most Americans blamed not guns, but the lack of school security, a dysfunctional mental health care system and a culture of violence more than guns," he said. 
"Still, to most people, the idea of something like a universal background check sounds logical, and it therefore has public support," he conceded. "The problems lie in interpretation and execution. Should it apply to relatives, neighbors, friends or just to people who buy guns at a gun show? Should it be legal for a firearms owner to lend a shotgun to his neighbor when they go out to the duck blind or allow his nephew to use a .22 to shoot at tin cans?"
Inside the NRA and on its web page, the rhetoric is heated and apocalyptic, and almost any proposed gun regulation is treated as the first step toward a government that will "take up the guns" from law-abiding citizens. 
Keene shrewdly focuses on mechanics. 
"If it were possible to provide an essentially instantaneous background check not just for purchases from licensed dealers or private parties at gun shows but for others, that didn't impose an unreasonable burden on their right to exercise their Second Amendment rights, that would be one thing," he said. "But many of the current restrictions and proposals for universal background checks would impose just such unreasonable burdens on that fundamental right." 
At lunch and in later follow-ups by email, I asked Keene about assault weapons and other matters: 
I get guns and handguns. I get that the Constitution says the right to bear arms shall not be "infringed." But it is not the right to bear ANY kind of arms, is it? 
No, the Second Amendment does not extend to a private right to own bazookas, rocket launchers or RPGs [rocket-propelled grenades]. When the Constitution was written, the authors were concerned with making sure citizens would always have the right to own personal arms (long arms and sidearms). 
It didn't extend to cannons then, or to ballistic missiles today. The Supreme Court recognized this distinction in the [District of Columbia v.] Heller case (in 2008), which is why severe restrictions on the private ownership of fully automatic firearms imposed in the thirties are seen as legitimate. The Court said the test was whether arms in the hands of the civilian population are widely owned and commonly used for legitimate purposes.
It is the explicit language of the Court in its Heller decision that forces me to the conclusion that a ban on semi-automatic long arms such as Senator Feinstein supports will not meet constitutional muster if enacted. There are today more than 4.5 million AR-15s in private hands. They are the most used firearm in training and competitive shooting. They are widely used by hunters (particularly for varmint hunting) and are often the firearm of choice for women seeking a long arm for home protection because of their ease of handling and light recoil. 
So the NRA's educational and PR initiatives in effect make banning such weapons all the more difficult because they are becoming more "widely owned and commonly used for legitimate purposes."
We are developing several programs designed to reach beyond our base support because firearms are so much more popular today than they were a decade ago, that far more women, minorities and young people are getting involved in the shooting sports. We're trying to reach them not simply to talk about gun rights, but to let them know of the many enjoyable activities in which they might want to engage. 
Where do you see all of this headed? 
I have said consistently that gun owners and the NRA are going to lose a battle or two as we have in the past. But we aren't going to lose the war. Moreover, we aren't going away. We have sometimes taken a decade or more to roll back obnoxious restrictions or pass legislation we believe enhances gun rights, but we have never rolled over or given up.
The arrogance of Keene, LaPierre, and some more outspoken NRA members is an affront to my intelligence and ability to reason - know I am not alone.  How Keene can even think that owning a semi-automatic weapon with huge magazines is allowed by the 2nd Amendment is ludicrous.  If you want to protect your property, get a shotgun.

Many of us will be remembering the votes of House and Senate NRA members when we go to the polls in 2014/2016 and vote out the members who put the NRA over the safety of the American people.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Senate and House Republicans Refuse to Face the Fact they Lost in 2012 as Their Obstruction Continues

Group of small minded Congressional Republicans today who since they didn't win in 2014 they want to take the ball that belongs to their opponents and go home.

As I was going through my email this morning, I found the link to this article from Politicususa by RMuse, Making It Up As They Go Along, Republicans Use Fantasies To Block Obama Nominees which I have excerpted.  All of a sudden it is beginning to make sense.  In the Senate the GOP is using the power of the new style filibuster to make it difficult on President Obama to put his team together.  Maybe if he had a full cabinet and heads of agencies like ATF, the GOP wouldn't be able to be so obstructive as the Obama Administration would have more voices to speak to the American people.

The very idea that Republican Senators don't think President Obama has the right to pick members of his Cabinet and Administration goes against everything we have been taught over the years that the Senate will only hold up really bad nominations like Harriet Miers, the Bush nominee for SCOTUS, which both parties tabled.  The attacks on Obama nominees are so far over the top that I have a hard time believing that Republicans in good conscience can even bring up the lies to keep someone from getting confirmed when they know it is false like "Friends of Hamas" which Cruz (R-TX) and Inhofe (R-OK) used as part of their attacks on Secretary of Defense Hagel.  Group of small minded Congressional Republicans today who since they didn't win in 2014 they want to take the ball that belongs to their opponents and go home.

Find these tactics out of Republicans in Congress reprehensible and is not why they were elected by voters to go to the Congress.  This group of Republicans continue to put wealthy donors and party over what it good for the Country and all Americans not just a privileged few.  The longer this is going on, the more Republicans I know who are saying we are supporting Democrats in 2014 and 2016 because this Country cannot take another Republican President until it gets back on its feet completely if ever.
Throughout the President’s tenure, Republicans have raised false concerns about every nominee and judicial appointment to the point that instead of listing the nominees and appointees they have obstructed, it is easier to cite those they did not obstruct; John Kerry. Kerry was easily confirmed without objection because Republican chose him to be Secretary of State, and as long as this President allows Republicans to run the government and choose who serves in high-level positions, the confirmation process moves quickly through the Senate. 
Typically and historically, the duly-elected President gets to choose his own cabinet members, department heads, and federal judges, but this is the 21st century, and either Senate Republicans decide who serves in government from their minority position, or they will block, place holds, and obstruct nominees and appointees regardless the Constitution or results of two elections. 
Over the course of the past two-and-a-half months, Republicans have used Benghazi, drones, and now a levee and lone African American with a beret to hold up the President’s nominees to serve as Secretary of Defense, CIA director, Labor Secretary, and head of the EPA for no other reason than obstructing the President and the government. It is no small coincidence that every single high-profile position in the President’s administration has been blocked, held, obstructed, or warrants a special investigation by Republicans in the Senate, and it is not because they are radical extremists or pose an existential threat to America, but because Republicans have to block the President to prevent the government from operating and serving the people. 
It is time to cite the real problem, and reason, Washington is dysfunctional and government is ineffective, and it is not poor personnel choices by the President, it is Republicans refusal to accept the results of two elections coupled with their belief that they control the African American in the Oval Office and run the government, and if he fails to comply, they will block and obstruct. The problem is not isolated to Senate Republicans either, because House Republicans refuse to allow a vote on any matter that does not eliminate anti-poverty programs, slash domestic spending, kill jobs, or raise much-needed revenue to run the government, but they will push entitlements for the rich and impose religious edicts on women and gays with ferocity and single-minded determination. 
Republicans have distinguished themselves as the most ineffectual Congress in a century, if not in America’s history, through their obstructionism and inability to govern, or serve the people who elected them. They have, though, managed to say no, block, and attempted to prevent anyone from governing effectively, and used their deviance to find absurd reasons to keep government from working. As incompetent and worthless as congressional Republicans have been over the past four years, at least they are efficacious at something, but saying no, blocking progress, and obstruction for obstruction’s sake is not why they were sent to Washington. The media, Democrats, and especially President Obama need to tell the American people why government is not working, but only if Republicans give them permission to speak without citing deficit reduction and entitlement reform.
Seems Congressional Republicans are okay with spending money like a drunken sailor when they have a Republican President but when it is a Democrat especially a black Democrat, they have a real problem and refuse to face reality or to listen to most of their constituents preferring to listen only to the hard right.  This has created a bubble like I have never witnessed where these obstructionist Republicans feel perfectly free to go against the wishes of the majority of Americans on issues like gun control, sequestration, budget, job bills especially for veterans, or aid for farmers still hurting from the drought which were left to flounder in the House until they went in the trash can when the new Congress took over.

Problem in the Senate is that Majority Leader Harry Reid, (D-NV) seems too weak to handle being Majority Leader cutting deals with GOP Minority Leader McConnell which is like trying to feed an alligator with your bare hand - going to get bit off every time.  It takes outrage from voters across America to give Senator Reid a backbone on gun control measures like the Assault Weapons Ban which will be brought up for a vote in a few weeks after originally saying he doesn't have the votes.  Need to keep the pressure on to make sure Senator Reid keeps his backbone and cuts NO more deals with Republicans.

From Rolling Stone
After watching voters punish the GOP in the 2012 elections, Republican elites have been talking a brave game about reforms that would make the party less repulsive to Latinos, women and gay-friendly millennials. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, the GOP's hip-hop-quoting young standard-bearer, is pressing conservatives to back an amnesty for undocumented immigrants. Dozens of party stalwarts, headlined by former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, renounced their opposition to gay marriage in a Supreme Court brief. GOP bigwigs have even launched New Republican – a group modeled after Bill Clinton's centrist Democratic Leadership Council – which seeks to rebrand the party as "colorblind," "not anti-government" and dedicated to "ending corporate welfare." 
How the GOP Became the Party of the Rich 
Don't be fooled. On the ground, a very different reality is unfolding: In the Republican-led Congress, GOP-dominated statehouses and even before the nation's highest court, the reactionary impulses of the Republican Party appear unbowed. Across the nation, the GOP's severely conservative agenda – which seeks to impose job-killing austerity, to roll back voting and reproductive rights, to deprive the working poor of health care, and to destroy agencies that protect the environment from industry and consumers from predatory banks – is moving forward under full steam. 
The hardcore rump of the party is even working to punish moderate outliers like New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie – the party's most popular leader – who was denied a speaking role at the conservative movement's annual convention, CPAC. Today's GOP may desperately need to remake itself as "culturally modern, environmentally responsible and economically inclusive," argues David Frum, a veteran of the George W. Bush White House, but it remains, he says, in the throes of a "Tea Party tantrum." 
As it works to lock in as many retrograde policies as possible before it finally chooses to either modernize or die, the Republican Party is like a wounded beast: Rarely has it been more dangerous.
Finally dawned on me why it became easy to support President Obama after being on the other side - he reminds me of President Eisenhower and the way he governed.  Ike didn't believe in the huge defense/industrial complex and warned the Country that it could be a huge problem in the future which has turned out to be 100% right.  He believed everyone had the same rights to an education when he integrated schools in Arkansas.  Ike was my Dad's hero and turned into mine - read every book I could find on Ike and then used for book reports to the stage by English teacher asked if I could ready other types of books.  Turns out that Ike is turning out to be the last Republican President who truly understood what was best for all Americans.
Progressive ideas of today are similar to Republican Presidents Dwight Eisenhower, Teddy Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln
Ike is also why my premise that Republicans want to return to the 50's is wrong as today's hard right Republican Party doesn't like President Eisenhower - too much of a progressive.  Received my "I like IKE" bumper strip in the mail which is sitting on my desk -- thinking of putting it on my car to irritate the hard right in my state.  Will take warmer weather but about 95% sure, it is going to end up on my car.
In the Tea Party narrative, president Obama is a reckless socialist spending America into oblivion. In reality, the president has governed like an old-school Republican. Despite having taken heroic measures to rescue the economy in 2009, Obama has presided over the slowest expansion of federal spending since Eisenhower – and repeatedly offered to help Republicans slash the social safety net as part of a "grand bargain" that would restore the nation to fiscal balance. 
Thanks to a rebounding tax base and the nearly $1 trillion in budget cuts that both parties agreed to in the first phase of the debt-ceiling deal, the deficit, entering 2013, was shrinking at a faster clip than at any time since the peace dividend after WWII. Federal outlays on both guns and butter were on a path to hit postwar lows as a percentage of gross domestic product by the end of Obama's second term.
Anyone who believes what the RNC Chair Priebus and other Republicans are peddling about an outreach need to understand this is for media consumption only as they have no intention of changing their policies or making the GOP inclusive as long as the hard right and donors like Koch Brothers run the Party.  As soon as Priebus came out with his $10M plan to better get out their message, I laughed.  It is their message that is out of touch and delivering that message to more voters will help the Democrats.

Democrats would be in better shape if they had better party organizations in Red States where they are not all that competitive even though they outnumber Republicans.  State Democrat Parties need an infusion of a backbone like the one Reid needs.  It is almost like they ask Republicans if it is okay to do something in the states and don't seem to be able to strike back very well.

The new Organizing for Action (OfA) that grew out of the Obama campaign's Organizing for America is a whole different story and believe they are the future of Democrat wins even in the Red States.  They are organized, have people from all walks of life, welcome all Americans to help, and have one of the best GOTV operations I have ever seen.  On Twitter a new group which supports OfA, Unite Blue, is doing the same thing with bringing people together to support Democrat candidates in 2014 and 2016.

Time to join the efforts of Americans across the Country who want obstructionists ousted from the Congress as they are not listening to "We the People" but a small group of wealthy donors and supporters from the hard right.  Time to move American forward not backward like members of the Republican Party want to do to women in particular with their wanting to return to the back alley abortions after restricting birth control.  Neanderthals had more brains then this group of anti-women hating men of today's Republican Party.

The future looks bright for America if we can defeat the Obstructionists in the House in 2014 and keep the Senate but it is going to take hard work to oust some of those House Members who are in gerrymandered 'safe' House seats.  Those so-called safe seats do not take into consideration how mad a lot of Republicans are at today's GOP.  We will be helping Democrat candidates oust the obstructionist in 2014 and see where it goes from there.  Don't think it is going to change as the hard right shift of the GOP doesn't look to be ending.  For many of us who used to vote and support Republican candidates, putting the Country first while turning our backs on Republicans has been an easier process then we could have ever imagined.  That tells me the GOP I knew no longer exists with the hard right shift.

Progressive ideas of today are similar to Republican Presidents Dwight Eisenhower, Teddy Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln.  Just call me a progressive today following the lead of those three great Republican Presidents.

Sooner Men's Basketball Program is Back!

After watching my NCAA brackets get blown to pieces for the most part except for the Elite 8, I am back to politics this morning after commenting on this year's Sooner Men's Basketball Team.  Tonight I will be rooting for our Sooner women in their second game of the Women's 64 Tournament.

Before I launch into politics today, want to say how happy Sooner fans are to see our men's basketball team make it to the 64.  No way at the beginning of the year would most of us given them a chance as this was still a rebuilding year after the Sooner program had fallen on hard times.  With the hiring of Coach Krueger in the spring of 2011, our program is back on the map in 2013.  My son and I were at the Iowa State game for Senior Day when the Sooners tied an NCAA record 34 straight free throws and broke the Big 12 and OU record by a mile.  Great game for the Sooners that Saturday afternoon after seeing the seniors honored.  Win #20 was sweet!  

Must admit I would feel worse about the loss to SDSU if it wasn't for the fact that they had to play Florida Gulf Coast in the next game after ours and got smoked.  I would hate to be watching that highlight reel every time I turned on ESPN if they had been playing the Sooners.

The leader of the team, Senior Romero Osby was responsible IMHO for bringing our program back with hard work, dedication, and being a leader for the team especially for the younger guys.  He is a player if I was an NBA general manager, I would be looking at to draft - he is very good, a leader, and extremely hard worker which you don't find in a lot of NBA players today who are one and done thinking they can just show up and their talent will win out.  They forget it is a team sport.

Congratulations to #24, Romero Osby, and the Sooner Men's Basketball on a job well done in turning the Sooner program around.  The fans are going to miss Osby as he was a key player on and off the field for the Sooners.  All the Seniors are graduating with their degrees which is an accomplishment in itself.

Best of Luck to those Seniors and looking forward to next fall with the new recruits and returning players who have a ton of experience from this year.  Our team will be ready to go come the fall and this year won't be overlooked as a team everyone can beat.

Boomer Sooner!


Friday, March 22, 2013

NCAA Men's Tournament Brackets - Day Two

No politics today just talking about the NCAA Basketball Tournament - Sooners play San Diego State tonight in Philly and places to find the best hamburger along with great BBQ in Norman

Today is the second full day of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament.  Don't think you can beat yesterday for shockers - the biggest one being Harvard over New Mexico which stunned the Nation of brackatologists including this one.  Did get Oregon over Oklahoma State because I thought the Ducks had a seed that was much lower then it should have been plus always pick against Little Brother up North.  All in all I got 12 out of 16 picks and am tied for sixth place in one of my brackets.  If today goes like yesterday one of my regions is going to be blown up.  Almost lost a Final Four pick when #1 Gonzaga came close to getting beat by #16 Southern University in a very close game.  This probably is an omen Kansas could lose - pick them every year to go far and every so often they do, but generally they blow up my bracket.

Harvard celebrates its first win in NCAA Tournament in School History with win over NM
There was one shining example yesterday for the team I have picked to be the eventual champion - Louisville.  They left no doubt they are the team to beat in the tournament as Coach Petrino has them playing great right now.  Looking forward to seeing Miami play today as well as they also seem to also be playing very well at the end of the regular season.  At the end of today, we will know who makes it into Round 2!  Then I can get a restart on one of my brackets, CBS Bracket for Coaches Against Cancer, where you pick by round not the whole bracket!

Today marks the end of Spring Break in Norman and my cutting across campus to get to the other side of town during certain hours.  Walked into our favorite place to go for hamburgers yesterday "The Garage" and could actually find a table with no problem yesterday but usually you grab the first table you can find.  Even found a parking place right out front yesterday for lunch - that hasn't happened in a long time.  BTW, if you are ever in Norman, "The Garage" is the place to go for the best hamburgers (beef, buffalo, or veggie) with some of the best fries I have ever tasted.  They are now spoiling me on ordering hamburgers any place else - everything about the beef burger from the buns to the meat to the way they are cooked with the vegies added is mouth watering.  My brother always orders the buffalo burgers when he is visiting.

Lunch in a short time is going to be at Billy Simms BBQ - the Sooner Heisman winner from 1978 has some of the best BBQ turkey with small baked potato in the area.  Was very happy when Billy Simms brought his BBQ to Norman or as Billy calls it BoomerQ.  Norman has some of the best BBQ places I have seen in our travels - all different types.  Also celebrated when Rudy's BBQ out of the San Antonio area opened here in Norman - we used to go their original one when we lived in Boerne, TX, at Boerne Stage Road off of I-10.  Then there is Ray's Smokehouse BBQ owned by former OU football player Darrol Ray - BBQ is really good voted the best in Norman with great sides and located blocks from campus.  Van's Pig Stand is a local BBQ place who was in Norman when we first arrived - love their sliced brisket with best curly fries ever.  We rotate around for the different flavors used in the BBQ by the various restaurants.  Don't think we have found a true favorite that is heads above the rest as they are all really good.

We need a really good seafood restaurant and my world would be complete as we have some really good Italian restaurants, great Mexican restaurants, some great Greek food, some very good steakhouses and excellent Oriental Restaurants.  Chuys from El Paso, TX, opened here last summer.  When we were in El Paso for the opening football game for the Sooners, the recommended Mexican place to eat by the locals was Chuys - same restaurant that was open in Norman.

Palm Sunday is this Sunday which will be celebrated around the World.  Always loved getting the palms from our Church on Palm Sunday when I was a kid - could never figure out then why the palm wouldn't grow into a palm tree if I put it water.  One thing I miss are the Palm Trees of Southern California and in parts of Texas.  It is too cold for palm trees in Norman except the small ones you can bring inside for winter which I plan to plant in a container this year, I can bring it into the sun porch for winter and think warm when the weather is cold.

Have a wonderful weekend - order some food, kick back and relax to watch basketball this weekend if you are into sports.  You can also go to your nearest sports bar/restaurant to watch the games on multiple screens and cheer for your teams.

Whatever you choose to do, make this a fun weekend and ignore the political chattering class for a few days to get rejuvenated to fight the good fight that lies ahead against obstructionists!

Boomer Sooner!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel Meeting with Veterans Groups Today

Secretary of Defense Hagel gives Veterans a voice in his tenure at the Department of Defense

This is one reason that Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel garnered so much support among not only active duty but retirees veterans in his nomination fight with Senate Republicans.  We knew that a priority with the Secretary of Defense would be a reach out to veterans groups on how they can receive the help they need in the future.  The House GOP killed the veterans job bill last year which the military community will never forget. Saw this email in my inbox this morning from which brought a smile to my face as it is a promise kept from the Secretary of Defense that he will never forget our veterans.

Already received a few emails asking if I saw that Hagel was meeting with Veterans Groups so word is spreading that Veteran's voices will be heard at the Department of Defense under the new Secretary of Defense:
Hagel meets with more than 20 veterans groups today 
MARCH 21, 2013By Gordon Lubold   
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will meet with representatives from about 20 veterans and military groups for a roundtable discussion on a host of issues, from the fiscal 2014 budget to transition assistance to veterans employment to the mental health of the force.  
Who's attending today's meeting? A who's who of veterans and military groups, Situation Report is told: representatives from the Air Force Association, the American Legion, AMVETS, the Armed Services YMCA, the Association of the United States Army, Blue Star Families, Disabled American Veterans, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, the Marine Corps League, the Military Child Education Coalition, the Military Officers Association of America, the National Military Family Association, the Navy League, Operation Homefront, the Reserve Officers Association, the Student Veterans of America, the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), the USO, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, the Vietnam Veterans of America, Wounded Warrior Project, Fisher House Foundation, Inc., and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (Hiring Heroes Program). 
Then, tonight, Hagel boards a military jet for Tampa, where he will "RON" (remain overnight). On Friday morning, he'll have a "working breakfast" with Adm. Bill McRaven, commander of U.S. Special Operations Command. Then he'll preside over the change of command at U.S. Central Command, the combatant command that could be known as the tinderbox command since it's responsible for some of the countries that pose the biggest threats to international security: Iran, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and more than a dozen others. Gen. Lloyd Austin is taking over for Gen. Jim Mattis, otherwise known as "Chaos," who is retiring. 
Staffers on a plane - Acting Chief of Staff Marcel Lettre, Senior Military Assistant Lt. Gen. Tom Waldhauser, and chief speechwriter Jacob Freedman. 
Reporters on a plane  - None.  
Is the Distinguished Warfare Medal the "New Coke" of medals? 
Hagel's meeting today with the veterans groups is about budgets and other issues, but the one topic that will generate the most lively discussion will be the Distinguished Warfare Medal. The medal, announced as Defense Secretary Leon Panetta walked out the door, recognizes the contributions of drone pilots -- to many, the unsung heroes of modern day warfare. But it has caused an uproar on Capitol Hill, in the Pentagon, and from groups across Washington. Critics decry less the creation of the medal than its "precedence" -- where it sits in the hierarchy of medals for the hierarchy-heavy military. The new medal will be above the Bronze Star and Purple Heart, and just below the Legion of Merit and the Distinguished Flying Cross. Many in the ground service believe its placement denigrates medals recognizing acts of merit, heroism, or valor in a combat zone since it would be typically awarded to a drone pilot who maneuvers planes remotely.
It's likely the award would only be given under rare circumstances -- and for highly classified operations. That may have contributed to the thinking in the Pentagon that its creation wouldn't have caused so many problems.

Still, although the award underwent what one Pentagon official referred to as a "serious process" and the service chiefs all apparently signed off on it, there is now widespread recognition that the vetting process should have been better. "There's a sense that all of the right  bases weren't touched and that the degree of opposition was underestimated," the official told Situation Report.

Although it wasn't his doing, Hagel confronted the controversy soon after entering office and, perhaps seeking credibility with the uniforms, directed that a study look at the award and its precedence. But the review does not necessarily mean there will be big changes. "It's not leaning in any direction," the official said.

Some officials suggest the award could be downgraded to below the Bronze Star but, possibly, still above the Purple Heart. Or, the Bronze Star and the Bronze Star with the "V" device for valor could be split into two -- an unprecedented move for awards -- giving the new Distinguished Warfare Medal precedence over the Bronze Star, but not over the Bronze Star with "V," in a move that would still put valor above joysticks. Even some of the award's most ardent supporters think changing the precedence of the medal in some form would probably be acceptable. But Dave Deptula, the retired three-star who oversaw the Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance program, says the fight over the medal represents legacy thinking.

"We need to be able to award brains as well as brawn," he told Situation Report this week. "And doing so takes nothing away from those who risked their lives in combat. The fact of the matter is that we have moved from an era of industrial age warfare to an information age where the battle space is not defined by lines on the ground and can occur in every domain." 
Read More from the Situation Report about North Korea at Foreign
Looking forward to four years of Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel at DoD who is the first enlisted man to hold this prestigious position which is fitting for a man who has worked hard to get where he is today from the days of an Infantryman in Vietnam.  Looking forward to his first trip back to Capitol Hill as Secretary of Defense to face the nastiest bunch of Republican Senators I have witnessed in a hearing.  Wonder if Sen Cruz of TX will bring up 'Friends of Hamas' again?  Sorry, couldn't resist.  Still cannot believe those hearings of Hagel's filled with half-truths and outright lies against the former Senator from NE.

Have to admit that the funniest part of the article comes from his visit to Tampa later today:
Reporters on a plane  - None. 
That made me laugh as it is so fitting that no DC press is accompanying the Secretary of Defense on his trip to CENTCOM.  Bet President Obama would love to leave some of the White House Press Corps behind when he travels like NBC's Chuck Todd who made a fool of himself once again this time in Israel when he asked questions not one question:
President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu both jabbed at NBC's Chuck Todd for asking multiple questions at a press conference in Israel on Wednesday

Time for a restart on the White House Press Corps - out with a lot of the old like Chuck Todd - in with new, younger reporters who seem better fitted for the task.  Maybe some younger reporters have actually filled out the NCAA Basketball Tournament Brackets like the President.  Todd is just one of many jerks in the White Press Corps.  Don't see how the Press Secretary Carney handles all the dumb questions thrown at him in his Press Conferences from the White House and on the Presidential trips.  

Bet President Obama didn't realize he was going to explode GOP heads when he filled out his Bracketology picks for the NCAA Tournament as Speaker Boehner used the moment to insert politics about the budget.  Then GOP heads are exploding all over on how well he gets along with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu who he calls Bibi which Republicans hate.  Whiners!  Then there is one of my most disliked WH Reporters Chuck Todd getting outed for being the jerk he is with his questions in Israel. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel is meeting with Veterans Groups today and flying to CENTCOM in Tampa with "no press".  To top it all off, the NCAA Tournament is underway.  Good week so far when you ignore the Congress and RNC.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

ESPN Reveals President Obama's Picks for the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship

Woke up this morning to watch ESPN as President Obama's picks for the NCAA Basketball Tournament were revealed:

Barack-etology President Barack Obama makes his selections for the NCAA tournament 

From ESPN:
President Barack Obama is favoring the Big Ten in this year's NCAA tournament, ultimately selecting Indiana to win it all. The president predicted that Louisville, Indiana, Ohio State and Florida will reach the Final Four and that Louisville and Indiana would meet in the title game.
"I'm going with Louisville. I know it's not a surprise pick," he said on a tape shown on "SportsCenter" Wednesday. "And I'm going with Indiana These are the two best teams right now, and for the championship I'm going back to the Big Ten. I think this is Indiana's year." 
Obama filled out brackets for both the men's and women's tournaments Tuesday in an exclusive interview with ESPN. This is the fifth consecutive year Obama has filled out a men's bracket for ESPN. He correctly picked two Final Four teams -- Ohio State and Kentucky -- last season, but his national champion selection of North Carolina lost in the Elite Eight. This year, Obama picked Louisville, the tournament's top overall seed, to reach the Final Four out of the Midwest Region. Obama believes the Hoosiers will win the East Region as the only other No. 1 seed in the Final Four. Obama likes Ohio State for the second straight year, picking the second-seeded Buckeyes to win the West Region. He went with the third-seeded Gators in the South Region. 
The president has Baylor, Connecticut, Notre Dame and California in the Final Four of his women's bracket, which will be unveiled in its entirety Friday.
NCAA Basketball is taking over this week with play-in games last night and tonight - then the real NCAA Tournament kicks off on Thursday morning.  NIT, where teams go that miss the Final 68, started last night with last year's NCAA Tournament Champion, Kentucky, going down to defeat by Robert Morris.  They played the game at Robert Morris due to the fact that Kentucky is hosting some games in the NCAA.  Robert Morris fans stormed the court after the game as this has to be the biggest win in the history of their program.

This time of year people turn into basketball games that haven't watched many all year as this is the Road to the NCAA Championship for 68 teams, eight of them playing games to get into the Tournament.   There were two good games last night for two of the play-in spots won by North Carolina  A&T in a close game with Liberty while St Mary's beat Middle Tennessee.  There will be two more games tonight to complete the brackets.

Tomorrow the NCAA officially begins its 64 Team Tournament Challenge, brackets are being filled out across the Country and now we can see how well we did against the President's picks.  If anyone wonders why President Obama favors the Big 10, it is because he comes from the Big territory with Northwestern in Chicago and University of Illinois downstate.

Today if you are in Norman, you can send off our Men's Basketball team to the NCAA Tournament in Philadelphia from the Lloyd Noble Center around noon.  Since this is Spring Break for OU and Norman Public Schools, you will be seeing a lot of high school kids plus adults who are part of Krug's Crew at the event.  Early Friday morning there is a send-off for our Women's Basketball team to Dayton.  We are one of ten teams in the NCAA where our football program went to a Bowl Game and both of our basketball teams are in the NCAA.

We are used to the girl's being in the Tournament, but our Men's team was down for the last several years missing the tournament until Lon Krueger became the OU Basketball Coach who is in his second season.  Krueger now has OU in the NCAA Tournament which is a record setting fifth team he has taken to the tournament.  The Sooners led by All Big 12 Romero Osby will be playing the last game on Friday night against San Diego State.  Know what this Sooner and many more are going to be doing Friday night at 8:30 - watching our Sooners play San Diego State in Philly.  Might even go buy some Philly Cheesesteaks in honor of Philadelphia today although they are not as good here as the original.

The rest of the week is all about basketball.  The President is in Israel and can imagine, he will be checking his cellphone regularly for scores.  Love how this President is so down to earth with his cell phone, texting, on Twitter, loves playing basketball and just an all around American guy you could have a beer with who happens to be President.  Maybe that's what the media hates - he is down to earth not some pretentious Mitt Romney type.  He has totally earned my respect even if I do disagree with him that Indiana is going to win - I have Louisville against University of Miami in the Finals with Louisville winning.

Must admit that I am slightly prejudiced for University of Miami as the Cincinnati Reds star shortstop Hall of Famer Barry Larkin's son plays for The "U."  Our family ties go deep for the Reds having grown up in Ohio and my Dad being the biggest Red's fan of all.

Good Luck to the Sooners and hope they break my Final Four bracket!

Boomer Sooner!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

When it Comes to GOP, Facts are Stranger than Fiction

Some of what comes out of the mouth's of today's Republicans is truly shocking but today's winner of dumb comments goes to Henry Barbour, author of the latest reboot fot the Republican Party.

The latest from RNC confirms what I have been saying for years that they are in a bubble hiring friends and family of donors, Governors and other elected officials.  RNC Chair Priebus made headlines yesterday with his voluminous report on what went wrong with the Republican Party in 2012 starting at the top with the Presidential race and then Congress.  Still haven't recovered that the GOP actually believed Romney was going to win.  More of inside the bubble telling each other what is happening.  Thought his comments about the report shows a general lack of understanding why the GOP is in such trouble.
On Monday, RNC chairman Reince Priebus rolled out his party's Growth and Opportunity Project plan, aimed at identifying the mistakes the GOP made in 2012 and fixing them before 2016
The person who wrote the plan to reshape the GOP, Henry Barbour, is the nephew of the former MS Governor and RNC Chair Hailey Barbour so this all stayed in the RNC family.  It gets better as "Henry" called President Obama a "Socialist" yesterday after the report was released - you cannot make this stuff up as the stupid party gets more stupid by the day:

Henry Barbour, the nephew of the former governor of Mississippi and author of the RNC’s plan to reboot the party and broaden its appeal, thinks President Obama is a “socialist.” 
“We all want to make America strong economically and militarily and every other way but you can’t do that if you’re not in office,” he told The Hill. “We’ve got a socialist in office right now — how’s that working for us?” 
When pressed on his choice of words, Barbour said: ”I don’t care. I mean, look, I think he’s a socialist. I’m not saying he doesn’t love our country,” he said. “No, I don’t care.”
The RNC is spending $10M to get make sure their message gets out but the problem is with the 'message' not delivery which they don't seem to understand even a little. What Priebus and others fail to realize that the old grassroots who were not hard right are totally disgusted with hard right lunge and no amount of messaging (rhetoric) is going to change that.  A lot have moved on to becoming Independents or Democrats.  Then there are those of us in states with a State Democrat Party that leaves a lot to be desired so we joined Republicans for Obama, are now part of Organizing for Action after being part of Obama's Organizing for America during the campaign.  We will helping Democrats win in 2014 because have had enough of today's hard right GOP to last a lifetime.

One thing I will admit is the Obama campaign was much more effective at getting at the message out to supporters through email and social media then the snail mail of the RNC/Romney campaign that didn't even make it into my home as I stopped by the trash barrel to deliver the snail mail which sometimes was 3-4 letters in one day asking for money.  Still cannot believe they send $1 in snail mail for you to make a donation.  Obama was much smarter sending out emails asking for small donations which I clicked on numerous times.

As a woman, there is no amount of packaging/rhetoric that is going to convince me that today's RNC/GOP isn't in a War Against Women:
"The 'we need women and Hispanics to stop thinking we hate them' message belies a core set of policies that are hostile to these demographics and can't be papered over by some rhetorical reboot," said Kelly Steele, a longtime Democratic operative who helped Sen. Harry Reid win another term in 2010. "Look at the fact [Sen.] Marco Rubio didn't utter a single word about immigration at CPAC, and that its audience was openly hostile to any reform."
The White Press Secretary, Jay Carney, sums up perfectly what is wrong with today's Republican Party.  It does not look to be changing anytime soon after what was witnessed at CPAC:
"I think it's important to note that the best way to increase support with the public for your party is to embrace policies the public supports. And embracing policies the public does not support or aggressively rejects makes it more difficult to earn the public's support," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said at the briefing Monday. 
"And when it comes, again, to matters like how we grow our economy and, as we grow our economy, how we deal with our deficit and debt challenges," Carney said, "the public overwhelmingly supports a balanced approach to that challenge." 
When you stop and realize how many issues today the GOP is on the wrong side, ways to deliver your message are not the answer:
  • NO on Sequestration offer by President Obama to cut spending while closing loopholes for the wealthy
  • NO on Violence Against Women's Act by the vast majority of GOP in Congress including Republican women voting NO.  Some GOP were trying to say after voting NO they voted YES 
  • NO Contraceptives Provided by Prescription Plans
  • NO Money for Women's Health provided by Planned Parenthood
  • NO on Abortions for any reason including Rape
  • NO on Gun Background Checks (Over 90% want checks)
  • NO on Assault Weapons Ban (Over 60% want new ban to also include magazine clip limits)
  • NO Budget Deal unless Affordable Healthcare Act (AHA) is repealed by Obama
  • NO on Implementation of AHA as OK Congressman Bridenstine & OK Legislature consider it 'unconstitutional' even though SCOTUS ruled it was Constitutional but John Birch Society now recognized by the GOP is for state nullification of Obamacare
  • NO on Gay Marriage
  • NO on True Immigration Reform that eventually gives path to citizenship 
These are just a few items from the Republican Party of NO which is a perfect name for the GOP as anything that President Obama recommends, they automatically say NO.

Now learning there is push back from the hard right on the Priebus/Henry Barbour RNC plan to win over voters.  This was a given the day Priebus was reelected and now has come out with this plan.  Most longtime Republicans think Priebus is the worst chair ever who is owned by the Koch Brothers after what we saw in Wisconsin.  Now Priebus who catered to the hard right during the election now has a problem with the hard right when he tries to go back more to the center.  Please pass the popcorn:

The 'nutters' push back against RNC blueprintBy Steve Benen  -
Tue Mar 19, 2013 11:08 AM EDT 
Reflecting on the Republican National Committee's "Growth and Opportunity Project," Dave Weigel noted that the blueprint "is less a program of reform than a rough blueprint about how to marginalize the nutters." 
That's clearly true. The structural reforms are intended to "marginalize the nutters" in terms of their electoral influence; the rhetorical reforms are intended to "marginalize the nutters" in terms of public perceptions of the party; and the policy reforms are intended to "marginalize the nutters" who are pushing Republicans to embrace an even more radical policy agenda. 
At times, Reince Priebus and his report aren't subtle on this, specifically criticizing "third-party groups that promote purity." 
With this in mind, the simmering intra-party "civil war" between the Republican base and the party establishment is intensifying, right on cue:
"It looks like a system of the establishment, by the establishment, and for the establishment," said conservative P.R. executive Greg Mueller, a veteran of Pat Buchanan's campaigns. [...] 
Davie Bossie, head of the conservative group Citizens United, fretted that the proposals would mean conservative grassroots candidates, already outmatched organizationally and financially against the GOP establishment on the presidential level, "even less opportunity to break through." 
"I don't think that is a good thing for the party and I definitely don't think it's a good thing for the conservative movement," said Bossie. 

Rush Limbaugh wasn't happy, either, saying Republican leaders have been "bamboozled" by focus groups. "They think they've gotta rebrand and it's all predictable," the radio host said. "They gotta reach out to minorities. They gotta moderate their tone here and moderate their tone there. And that's not at all what they've gotta do. The Republican Party lost because it's not conservative." 
As this excerpted article form MSNBC shows, it is a total mess and what happens to a political party when they go too far to the extreme either way.  In this case it is made worse with the very idea that the wealthy loopholes have to be protected at all costs leading to a lot of longtime GOP grassroots telling the GOP to "Shove It!"

No wonder Democrat strategists are not that worried as they know the plan is DOA in Los Angeles during the Spring Meeting of the RNC when it has to be approved.