Saturday, April 6, 2013
In the name of deficit reduction, the House Republicans passed another version of Paul Ryan's Ayn Rand inspired budget. We will have to wait and see how farmers react to this budget, since it is their ox getting gored by the Republican Representatives for whom they tend to vote. That's right, Ryan puts farm subsidies on the chopping block.
Ryan's web page reports that "With farm profitability – and deficits – continuing at high levels, it is time to adjust support to this industry to reflect economic realities. This budget proposes two major reforms to achieve this: First, reduce the fixed payments that go to farmers irrespective of price levels, to reflect that soaring commodity prices are reducing the need for high levels of farm-income support. Second, reform the open-ended nature of government’s support for crop insurance, so that agricultural producers assume the same kind of responsibility for managing risk that other businesses do."
Roger Johnson, President of the National Farmers Union, said "The Republican Leadership in the House of Representatives and Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., have put forward an unrealistic and ill-advised budget. Their Fiscal Year 2014 budget proposal would cut $31 billion from farm programs – on top of the reductions that have already come by way of the farm bill extension and the sequester – and will turn the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) into block grants for states. The depth of the cuts to SNAP appear to be similar to last year’s House budget proposal, which totaled $134 billion. In 2012, the House Agriculture Committee passed a farm bill that would have cut $16 billion and the Senate passed their own farm bill with a $4 billion cut to SNAP.
"We are certainly willing to do our fair share for deficit reduction, but these projected cuts to farm bill programs are many times larger than proportionate and will likely make it impossible to pass a five-year farm bill," Johnson said.
The money for SNAP being sent to the states in the form of block grants may work in some places. It would not work in Kansas which is facing record deficits because of Governor Brownback's ill conceived tax policies. Remember what the states did with the millions they received from the tobacco settlement? Cash strapped states will squander money from the block grants at the expense of the hungry.
Monday, March 4, 2013
The assassination of Kansas City, Missouri civil rights activist and State Representative Leon Jordan on July 15, 1970 carries a message to Republicans in the Kansas Legislature: Don't politicize judicial elections.
One of many factors for Jordan's death was his failure to make an accommodation on behalf of a member of Kansas City's "black mafia with a judge who owed allegiance to Jordan's political organization, Freedom Incorporated.
Lord Acton is well known for the adage “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupt absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority; still more when you superadd the tendency of the certainty of corruption by authority.”
When powerful elements want favor, they can get it from a partisan judiciary that owes its allegiance to the whims of the ballot box. An independent judiciary, free from partisan political pressure, is insulated from granting favor and perverting the role of justice in society.
Currently Kansas has merit selection of judges. Under existing law, vacancies in the Court of Appeals are filled by appointment of the Governor from a panel of three nominees who have been determined to be qualified to serve as judges of the Court of Appeals by the Supreme Court Nominating Commission.
Kansas did not come to merit selection of judges willy-nilly. In 1956 Democratic candidate for Governor, George Docking, Republican Warren Shaw, who had defeated Republican Governor Fred Hall in the primary. Chief Justice Smith then resigned due to ill health. Hall resigned from office and his Lieutenant Governor, John McCuish took the oath of office becoming Governor. McCuish immediately appointed Hall to replace Smith on the Kansas high court. The political scandal was called the triple play.
It is imperative to keep politics and the potential for corruption out of selecting appellate judges in Kansas. A bill, H.B. 2019 is matriculating through the legislature with the intent of abolishing the merit selection of appellate court judges. Let your Representative know that you oppose H.B. 2019.
Wednesday, February 27, 2013
John Boehner just made an ass of himself. He did it this way: "The president "is going all over the country holding rallies instead of sitting down with Senate leaders," while, Boehner argued, "We have moved a bill in the House twice." "We should not have to move a third bill before the Senate gets off their ass and begins to do something," he added. http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-250_162-57571323/on-sequester-boehner-tells-senate-to-get-off-their-ass/.
Why, you ask did Boehner make an ass of himself? Because this is February, 2013 which means we are in the second month of the 113th Congress. During the 113th Congress has been in session 21 days, http://thomas.loc.gov/home/ds/h1131.html; today will make the 22nd day. That's right, the 113th Congress convened on January 3rd, now the rest of working America had to suit up and show up for 39 of those 55days. Assuming they got the two day weekends off.
Boehner would mislead you into believing that the House of Representatives has acted twice in those 39 days. They haven't. The bills to which Mr. Boehner referred are the same bills the House GOP spin machine fed Lynn Jenkins to spew out in her email to me. You recall, H.R. 6365 (a bill by former Representative Allen B. West exempting the military from any budget cuts and H.R. 5652 (that infamous Ryan budget).
So politicians lie, we should expect politicians to lie, and how does this make the Speaker of the House of Representatives an ass, you ask? Just as Representative West no longer having a vote in the 133th session, so also are all of the bills passed by one chamber but not passed by the other null and void. All bills not passed by both houses of Congress and signed by the President expire. The authority for those bills to continue through the legislative process lapsed with the termination of the session of Congress.
Well, isn't it time for the Senate to get off its ass anyway? Maybe, but were the Senators to cease endless gridlock and pass a bill pertaining to revenue it would be a meaningless gesture. What? It is that little known document, the great secret that Boehner hasn't yet been able to synthesize into his Speakership. It is called the Constitution.
Article 1 Section 7 of the Constitution says: "All bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments as on other Bills." It is the job of the House of Representative, of Speaker Boehner, of House Republicans to open up the legislative process and get the ball going on a compromise to avoid sequestration, which is now appropriately called Boehnerquestration.
If John Boehner doesn't know the basics of Article 1 of the Constitution then he is not qualified to be the Speaker of the House. I suspect he does, he is just making an ass of himself.
Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Lynn Jenkins sent me an email describing her position on avoiding the sequester. In her missive Representative Jenkins noted that she supported H.R. 5652 (112th Congress) as a better solution to avoiding the Boehnerquester. Now most people will take that at face value, being accustomed to being spoon fed information. I, however, am not one to accept Jenkins's propaganda machine's output as Gospel.
H.R. 5652 (112th Congress) is terrible legislation that tries to bury the progress made during President Obama's first term. There is a lot wrong with the bill, and you may see more than one blog on this bill. It is that bad!
In this piece of work Jenkins turns to one of her favorite topics, protecting Golden Parachutes for the executives that, in the true vulture capitalist tradition, wreck their businesses while skating off with massive ill gotten gains in the form of bonuses and other compensation.
The Dodd-Frank Act §210 puts it this way: "The FDIC may avoid or invalidate certain prior transfers, agreements, leases, or compensation to executives that hinder the ability of the FDIC to carry out its duties." Those duties are winding down the failed business while providing that claimants get at least as much as they would have received under a bankruptcy liquidation." In bankruptcy parlance that means the FDIC can reach back and bring those monies back into the estate to be liquidated.
What, you ask is Jenkins's voting record on Golden Parachutes? Let's review.
From this Blog on June 5, 2010: Lynn Jenkins never saw a Golden Parachute she didn't like. H.R. 1664, and the title says it all: "To amend the executive compensation provisions of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 to prohibit unreasonable and excessive compensation and compensation not based on performance standards." This is another attempt to reign in Wall Street Fat Cats giving themselves big paychecks and bonuses on the taxpayers dime. Lynn Jenkins voted against us and for the Wall Street Fat Cats on roll call 247.
Then on June 10, 2010: H.R. 3269 the CORPORATE AND FINANCIAL INSTITUTION COMPENSATION ACT OF 2009 gives stockholders rights some teeth when it comes to executive compensation and golden parachutes. This bill gives the Securities and Exchange Commission authority to make rules regarding these compensation packages. Lynn Jenkins loves those golden parachutes. Again she votes to keep exorbitant executive pay packages and those golden parachutes they way they are. In roll call 686 Lynn Jenkins voted against H.R. 3269.
On September 28, 2010 I wrote: Lynn Jenkins voted several times to do nothing about those Golden Parachutes being paid out of taxpayer money. She voted against letting shareholders have a mandatory binding vote on exorbitant executive pay practices, H.R. 3269. She voted against a bill allowing the Treasury Secretary prohibit financial institutions from paying excessive executive pay from taxpayer money, H.R. 384 and H.R. 1664. She consistently voted against restraints on executive pay for Big Bankers while the Big Banks are being Bailed Out! H.R. 3269 contained one weak provision permitting non-binding shareholder votes on Golden Parachutes, which Lynn Jenkins voted against.
It is clear that at every opportunity to support Wall Street, Big Banks, and the Silk Stocking Financial Sector Lynn Jenkins is with them and against us. Why she would remind us of her callous disregard for the people during this debate over the sequester is baffling. She does not represent us, she represents the 1% and you waste your vote on them when you vote for her.
Saturday, December 8, 2012
Cool Chicks from History, http://coolchicksfromhistory.tumblr.com/, posted the following Washington Post article on Tumblr. When I read the piece two things struck me.
First, society has come a long way from the protective paternalism demonstrated here. Men imposed their notions of protecting women by shielding them from obvious facts. Those were the days when such things were not discussed. The editor of the Honolulu-Star Bulletin did not publish the article because it might further frighten the women of Honolulu. He is oblivious to the reality that humans communicate, and for a newspaper editor that is irony. Those women were already finding a voice and sharing their common experiences. Having their story published would have given cohesion to their initiation to war, serving to make permanent the record of events from their perspective.
Second, at the end of the article the author, Elizabeth McIntosh, told another story, that of the women who had known war, World War I. Those women remained prepared against the day when terror came calling. They were able to jump right in and assist in the war effort. Why, I wonder, didn't the editor give the reporter instructions to expand on that effort?
Here is the link to the video that accompanied the article:
Here is the link to the article:
Thursday, December 6, 2012
This piece was originally written for publication by a local newspaper. The editor of that paper had invited me to write from a progressive perspective. Unfortunately, he had a habit of forgetting to publish my work. I withdrew permission for that paper or any of its affiliated papers to publish my work.
You probably saw the overly simplistic ad sponsored by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saint Louis demagoging the mandate that employers provide their female employees with a birth control option.
The first woman said: “You wouldn’t force an atheist to buy a Bible. It’s that simple.” Then the second, “You wouldn’t force a vegetarian to buy you a hamburger. It’s that simple.” Finally the last intones “Why, then, would you ask a Catholic employer to purchase your birth control?”
It is not that simple. No one is asking the Catholic Church, operating as a Church, to provide female employees with birth control. The Church wants to be empire within the Republic. By that I mean it wants not only to be the Church, but the dominant force in the hospital industry, and its own insurance company.
There is a long tradition of Catholic Hospitals, a good tradition. And we are no longer in the age where nuns man the wards and work for nothing. Today's Catholic Hospitals are modern facilities competing successfully in the marketplace.
Across the nation Corporate Healthcare is the template for Catholic Healthcare. Wealthy Catholic systems purchase smaller hospitals, often to extend health services to the less fortunate, requiring Catholic standards regarding reproductive rights be enforced by secular institutions. This imposes Catholic theology on institutions and employees that do not share Catholic beliefs. In this respect the Catholic Church is trying to do an end run around the First Amendment rights of others.
As a practical matter strict bans on birth control and choice have not always worked. The Catholic part of the equation has made arrangements for physicians to lease a floor of the hospital with a separate elevator entrance so that women had full access to their health care choices. Creating this Chinese Wall did not seem to violate Catholic religious liberty, as long as the revenue continued flowing.
Self-insurance complicates the Bishop's gambit to extend the cloak of religious liberty to traditional secular activities. It also tossed a wrench into the compromise forged by the White House with the Catholic Church. That compromise tried using the same Chinese Wall device permitting Catholic Hospitals to sidestep full access to women's health care by shifting the burden to a third party. But the rub is that the insurance company is now the Catholic Church.
At the heart of the dispute is the definition of a religious employer. Here it is:
Group health plans sponsored by certain religious employers, and group health insurance coverage in connection with such plans, are exempt from the requirement to cover contraceptive service. A religious employer is one that: (1) has the inculcation of religious values as its purpose; (2) primarily employs persons who share its religious tenets; (3) primarily serves persons who share its religious tenets; and (4) is a non-profit organization under Internal Revenue Code section 6033 (a)(1) and section 6033 (a)(3)(A)(i) or (iii). 45 C.F.R. §147.130(a)(1)(iv)(B). See the Federal Register Notice: Group Health Plans and Health Insurance Issuers Relating to Coverage of Preventative Services Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (http://www.healthcare.gov/law/resources/regulations/prevention/regs.html). The Bishops want a broader definition.
The dilemma with the Bishops' gambit is that push eventually leads to shove. Ultimately the Courts are going to paint a bright line that says when the Church acts as a Church it has full First Amendment protection. When the Church acts transitionally as a business those protections begin to abate. As the Church fully engages in traditionally non-religious commercial activity, the protections of the First Amendment, as to religious liberty, do not attach.
The Bishops are overreaching.
Saturday, December 1, 2012
With thanks to Real Clear Politics, for their "create your own map" feature, see, http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2012/president/obama_vs_romney_create_your_own_electoral_college_map.html, I wondered what would it be like if the result of the Presidential Campaign looked like the Powerball Map. First, here is the map.
To begin with there are 538 Electoral College votes. How, you ask did we get that number. It is simple, there are 435 Members of Congress and 100 Senators. Add those two numbers together and you get 535. The three missing votes come from the District of Columbia. As you remember, the minimum number of votes a state can have in the Congress is 3. Each state gets at least 1 Representative to the House and 2 Senators. Missing from this map are the U.S. Virgin Islands, which shows up on the Powerball Map but since they are not a state not on the Electoral College Map.
What would be the circumstances that would cause Hawaii, California, Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming to join with two states from the Heart of Dixie, Mississippi and Alabama and be the losers in the Electoral College? This is a big loss because the winner gets 449 votes to the loser's 89; And a victory of 449 votes is a landslide.
History shows us big wins (or losses depending on perspective). In 1964 LBJ beat Goldwater by 486 to 52. Goldwater was painted as an extremist and carried only Arizona, the Gulf States of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and the old Dixie States of Georgia and South Carolina.
In 1972 Tricky Dick Nixon rode his secret plan to end the War in Vietnam to a landslide victory over McGovern, who won only Massachusetts and the District of Columbia. That margin was 520 to 17. Nixon did not finish the term, he resigned in disgrace on August 8, 1974.
Ronald Reagan swept into a 1980 victory with a populist conservative message and tough talk against Iran, who was holding Americans taken during a siege of our embassy. Reagan defeated Carter by 489 to 49, and the hostages were released on inauguration day.
Carter got more electoral college votes against Reagan than did his Vice President who lost four years later by a margin of 525 to 13. Regan easily handled Mondale in the Presidential Debates, sexism may have played a role as Geraldine Ferraro was the Democratic Party's choice for Veep, and the negatives in the first term didn't stick to Reagan who was called the "Teflon President". Mondale won his home state of Minnesota and the District of Columbia.
George H. W. Bush beat Dukakis in 1988 by 426 to 111 painting the Massachusetts Governor as a crime coddling liberal. Dukakis carried Washington, Oregon, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, West Virginia, New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Hawaii, and the District of Columbia. Since 1988 no candidate has topped the 400 electoral vote count.
Winning by large margins is not always good. In a college level Political Science course, years ago, Southwest Missouri State's Professor Alice Fleetwood Bartee suggested the best wins are the closest wins. Employing the theory of Occam's Razor, otherwise called the law of economy, she taught that winning the simple majority puts less pressure on the Administration to satisfy competing pressures. So winning a great majority means that the President has to deliver on promises to competing groups, which often spells doom for reelection.
In 1928 Republican Herbert C. Hoover beat the Democratic candidate Alfred E. Smith by 444 to 87. Smith carried Massachusetts, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina.
Four years later FDR trounced Hoover 472 to 59. Of course there was enormous economic pain following the Wall Street Stock Market Crash of 1929 and the onset of the Great Depression. In 1936 FDR continued on to another legendary win beating Kansan Alf Landon 523 to 8. Republicans started to make inroads in 1940 win they ran Wendell L. Willke, who only lost to FDR by 449 to 82. In 1944 FDR again topped the 400 electoral college vote mark besting Thomas E. Dewey 432 to 99. FDR died April 12, 1945, having won more electoral college votes than anyone else in history.
The 400 vote total didn't get topped until Ike ran in 1952. The man who commanded the Allied Forces in Europe in World War II beat Adlai Stephenson by 442 to 89. Four years late he did it again 457 to 73.