Saturday, November 20, 2010

Conservatives: For every one good thing they do,...

There are some schools of thought that say if you are going to discipline, reprimand, constructively criticize someone you focus on what they did wrong and end it with something they did right.  Well, I'm not going to do that.  So, let's start with what Conservatives did right this week.

On Friday (November 19, 2010), by unanimous consent, the United States Senate finally passed the long awaited bill authorizing the funding to pay Black Farmers $1.15 billion in settlement money.  In the 1997 Pigford v. Glickman case, black farmers claimed they were systematically denied government farm loans and other support from the United States government because of race.  The case was settled in 1999, but thousands of black farmers missed the deadline to submit claims. 

In order to address this, in 2008 then-Senator Barck Obama sponsored legislation to reopen the case to allow those black farmers that missed the deadline to file a claim.  This past February the Justice Department announced the resolution to Pigford II, that the settlement agreement was dependent on funding by Congress.  Each qualified claimant is to receive $50,000 to settle claims of racial bias against the Department of Agriculture. 

Prior to the November 2nd Mid-Term Elections, this measure to fund the settlement was included as part of another bill, which was filibustered by Republicans.  The bill finally passed when Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) withdrew his objection after it was agreed the funding would not be financed through more deficit spending.  Included in the same piece of legislation was $3.4 billion to fund the settlement of a mishandled trust fund managed for Native Americans by the Department of the Interior, as well as four water-rights lawsuits relating to Native American tribes. 

Now for what Conservatives did wrong: 

Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-AZ) is holding up the ratification of the new START Treaty between the United States and Russia.  Senator Kyl is claiming that the new treaty puts the United States at a strategic disadvantage with only 1,550 long range nuclear weapons (missiles and long range bombers).  Russia is limited to the same number, but he is worried about the verification of that number on the Russian side of the treaty.  Treaty ratification requires 67 votes to pass. 

The fact is that if only one is used, we are all at a disadvantage.  Of all the fights to pick, this was the absolute wrong one for Senator Kyl to try and flex his muscles.  Even if it is during the "Lame Duck" session, not passing this has huge downsides and puts an uneasy and sometimes tense U.S.-Russia relationship in more jeopardy.  To read more about the story, click here

House Republicans held the line, denying passage on a three month extension of Unemployment Benefits by a vote of 258-154.  While Democrats still mustered a huge majority, under House rules for fast-tracking legislation they fell short of the three forths majority needed to pass.  House GOP members justified their opposition to the extension citing the need to have the benefits paid for by spending cuts in other areas. 

Starting in December, 2 million people will start loosing their unemployment benefits.  Keep in mind, the GOP is fighting hard to indefinitly extend the Bush Tax Cuts for the wealthy, which will cost the country $700 billion over the next 10 years.  So, how are they going to pay for that? 

This week President Obama awarded the Medal of Honor to Sal Giunta, the first living recipient since the Vietnam War.  But despite Staff Sgt. Giunta's valor in the line of fire, Conservative writer and Director of Issue Analysis for Government and Public Policy at the American Family Association, Bryan Fischer, feels it would have been more, shall we say masculine, if Staff Sgt. Giunta had died in order to be honored by our Nation's highest Military Honor.  Click here to read his piece. 

I don't know who this person is, or if he's even served in uniform, but to say or even imply that the awarding of medals for valor above and beyond the call of duty to our men and women in the armed service of our nation, should only be reserved for those that die, kill, or destroy is repugnant and disgusting. 

Like I said at the beginning, for every one good thing Conservatives do,...  

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Is George Allen a BIG FAT LIAR?

Evidently, YES. This is why PolitiFact, a project of the St. Petersburg Times, rocks! In the November 5th Richmond Times Dispatch, former U.S. Senator George Allen stated in his op-ed that since Barack Obama became President on January 9, 2009, the National Debt has exploded by nearly $6 trillion. To read the entire op-ed, click here.

Because of that stated-as-fact dollar figure by Allen, PolitiFact did what they do best and check the veracity and accuracy of the claim. The result was an unequivocal rating of FALSE. PolitiFact found that,

"According to the U.S. Treasury, the total national debt as of Jan. 31, 2009 -- 11 days after President Obama took office -- was $10.6 trillion. So, in order for Allen’s claim to be true on its face, the current publicly held debt would have to be about $16.6 trillion.

Well, is it?

Nope, not even close. The publicly held debt as of Oct. 31 was $13.7 trillion, almost $3 trillion short of Allen’s claim."
So, where did the former U.S. Senator from Virginia get this number, or for that matter his information? It seems he was citing a CBS News report on October 18, 2010 by White House Correspondent, Mark Knoller, where he states,

"The Debt increased $4.9 trillion during President Bush's two terms. The Administration has projected the National Debt will soar in Mr. Obama's fourth year in office to nearly $16.5-trillion in 2012. That's more than 100 percent of the value of the nation's economy and $5.9-trillion above what it was his first day on the job."
Now, there's nothing good about having all this DEBT.  But, you'd think that when Congressional Republicans have a 52% disapproval rating (Democrats are at 53% disapproval according to the Election Day Exit Polls), being honest and getting your facts correct before making eye-popping claims like this would be important to someone that might be running for statewide office, again.

I guess the only positive thing out of the PolitiFact fact-check on Allen is they didn't give him a rating of "Pants on Fire" False. 

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Monday, November 8, 2010

GOP stuck in campaign mode, signalling they haven't learned anything

If the Sunday morning Talk Shows are any indication of the GOP's plan for governing (at least from the U.S. House of Representatives), they haven't learned a thing.  Time after time Sunday morning, GOP House Leaders were pushed to provide specifics on what their plan was for balancing the budget and cutting the deficit.  All they could say was "repeal Obamacare and cut spending."  But what exactly? 

Then there's this bit from the likely incoming House Finance Chair, Congressman Spencer Bachus (R-AL), warning of a potential "mass exodus" from U.S. Banks if the Volcker Rule is fully implemented. 

According to the letter Bachus sent to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner as reported by CNN,...

"If the Volcker Rule's prohibitions are expansively interpreted and rigidly implemented against U.S. institutions while other nations refuse to adopt them, the damage to U.S. competitiveness and job creation could be substantial."
So, in other words we need to keep the Banks at the pre-2008 Great Recession regulatory status, which is more or less UNREGULATED with no separation between Commercial and Traditional banks. 

All this could just be placating to the incoming Tea Party "Caucus", but then again it could mean they have learned nothing from the economic and regulatory history they heavily shaped over the last 30 years. 

Friday, November 5, 2010

If you can't argue the facts, then just make something up

So, Anderson Cooper of CNN was interviewing Congresswoman Michele Bachmann a couple of nights ago and was asking her some questions about specific things she would cut to reduce the National Debt and get the Federal Budget under control.  Here's the interview... 

Not sure if the cool response Bachmann received from the GOP Leadership (establishment) was a result of this interview, but I'm sure it didn't help her chance to move into the Leadership.  If this is the way the Tea Party "Caucus" Chair plans to govern, the GOP is in trouble. 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Michele Bachmann is knock, knock, kockin' on the GOP Leadership door

In all due deference and respect to Guns 'n Roses classic, "Knockin' on Heaven's Door", the first real test of the Tea Party's influence is Congresswoman Michele Bachmann's bid to move up into the GOP Leadership.  Click here for the story from Politico. 

If there's a poster child for demagoguery and evangelical nationalism, Michele Bachmann fills that role perfectly.  Let's see if the Speaker-in-waiting, John Boehner, and the Majority Leader-in-waiting, Eric Cantor, will answer the Tea Party darling's call. 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Will fiscal discipline mean longer Bread Lines?

Despite the demagoguery of TARP and the Stimulus by establishment Republicans, and the Tea Party movement that is being co-oped by the GOP, one of the things that is keeping people fed is TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families). 

So, with Tea Party candidates poised to have a better than noticeable presence in both the House and Senate, banging the drum of "No Compromise" with Democrats or the White House, what does this bode for the nation's strained social safety net? 

In today's Roanoke Times, there's an article on the modern-day version of Depression Era Bread Lines.  Despite the so-called waist and failure of the Stimulus, TANF funding, along with Unemployment and a whole host of other programs, have been a life line to millions directly impacted by the Great Recession.  These programs are in the cross hairs of the Tea Party Movement and the GOP Establishment. 

The reality is that contemporary Bread Lines exist.  But what if the Stimulus had not passed?  How much longer would they be?