Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Grandma's Share

Grandma's Share
by Michael Box

Kibbles and Bits, Blue Buffalo, and Meow Mix are great for cats.  Seeing Grandma eat this stuff drives me bats.  Used to be the Social Security checks came the 3rd of each month, now they put it on a card.  Getting old shouldn't be this hard.
The long months are the worst.  Stretch that fixed income old lady.  Live in fear of starvation or disease. Buy medicine or food?  What to do?
Old Grandma been getting her check for more than fifteen years.  A slicker talked her into putting her saved up money in the market.  They should flay those cheating, thieving, stealing bastards that robbed the Greatest Generation's nest eggs.  That's something to do.
Now the month runs out, take the medicine and hope to live?  Eat cat food because you're a ghost with nothing left to steal or give?  What to do?
There's  no help from Washington.  Senators and Representative are all Koch addicts.  No not coke, cocaine, that would be easy to explain this craziness.  Koch addicts crave  money and curry favor.  Grandma don't count. She'll be too weak to vote anyway.
As though she could vote.  She'd have  to register anew.  I doubt she ever had a birth certificate.   She was born in 1931. You remember, a babe of the Great Depression. 
Damn, she's pissed.  All this greed was fixed.  No more bank failures.  No more economic collapse.  Now they want a birth certificate before she can even get registered.  Before they'll even pretend to listen to her voice. Take a deep breath Grandma.   What to do?
Republicans want to shrink Grandma's share.  Say her load is too much to bear.  Grandma's dream ain't dying the horrid death of poverty, uselessness, or of taking up too much room. Grandma's seen the New Deal, Truman beat the Republicans on Social Security, and the Great Society.  Grandma expected better than this. Now when the fourth week of the month comes, she cries.  Hunger pangs haunt her broken dreams.  What to do?
Personally, I don't give a hang about the Chained Consumer Price Index or its superlative Tornqvist formula.  But that is where the Grand Old Party plans to nickel and dime Grandma out of enough weeks of real food to permanently kick her out of Social Security.
The Koch addicts yearn for the good old days when folks like Grandma just got sick and died without becoming a bothersome burden to the Republicans, and those they serve. 
What to do? 
Talk to Grandma, even if she ain't your Grandma.  These folks got pride, little else.  Be gentle, be kind, and offer a little food, if you've got it. 
Can't go to the state.  Republicans forced all the spending on the states.  States got no  resources.  Talk to Grandma.  Help her get her vote.  Don't let her die the death of being ignored, the death of being bored, or the mute death of not being allowed to speak.  This America remains Grandma's democracy. It ain't just for the rich.  Don't care what the Republicans say.
Grandma deserves her dignity.  Grandma is damn well entitled to it! And that monthly check!  Entitled because her labor paid for it, paycheck by paycheck she paid her dues.  She's got it coming.  Don't care what the Republicans say.

© 2011 all rights reserved

Saturday, August 27, 2011


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Friday, August 26, 2011


Preemption, the Supremacy Clause, and Medicaid top the list of legal arguments the Supreme Court will hear in the October Term.  This first argument comes from a consolidated group of cases from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals:  09-958:          Douglas v. Independent Living Center of Southern California;  09-1158:  Douglas v. California Pharmacists Association; and Douglas v. Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital.  The Court will hear one hour of argument on Monday October 3rd.     

This case is about the Medicaid Act, which the Court said in Gonzaga University v. Doe, 536 U.S. 273 (2002) does not confer "rights" upon Medicaid providers or recipients which are enforceable under the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. §1983.  Here providers are suing claiming the Medicaid Act preempts cuts in the reimbursement rate where the State failed to comply with requirements not found in the four corners of the statute, and where those cuts were made for budgetary reasons.

The Court granted certiorari on June 27, 2011 with Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor taking no part in the considerations.

The second case this term will look at the legal issue of standing and the Sexual Offenders Registration and Notification Act (S.O.R.N.A.).  In case number 1-6549, Reynolds v. United States Mr. Reynolds wants to raise claims about the Attorney General's interim rule. Does Reynolds have standing and does the Court need to resolve a conflict between the Circuit Courts of Appeal are the first questions presented in this case.

The argument will be limited to that first two-part question.  The other question asks if S.O.R.N.A. violates the Constitution, again asking if the Court needs to hear this case to decide conflicting opinions of the several Courts of Appeal regarding the Commerce Clause, the Ex Post Facto Clause, and Due Process of Law.  Remember that the Court will always be reluctant to settle an issue by declaring a law unconstitutional, especially a federal statute, hence no argument on the second question.

On Tuesday October 4th the Court will begin with a capital case, number 10-63, Maples v. Thomas.  Here the Eleventh Circuit is divided.  Alabama wants to proceed with the execution of Maples.  Here the state inmate gets no federal review of the merits of serious constitutional claims.  Maples missed the filing deadline.  What happened was that the state court sent a letter containing  order to Maples lead attorney of record.  The letter was returned unopened and marked "Return to Sender - Left Firm" written on the envelope.

I would have liked to see the question presented framed in terms of whether the Due Process Clause, in the interest of fairness, requires the deadline to be tolled where counsel for the convicted is no longer representing the client.  I see the case in light of the Sixth Amendment and the Fourteenth Amendment.  What do I always say?  The decisions of the Court are framed by the questions presented. 

And yes the Sixth Amendment is not applicable to all aspects of post-conviction relief.  Here, if the deadline was triggered by an order of a state appellate court where Maples was represented, then the Sixth Amendment imposes a duty on the lawyer to, at minimum, notify the convicted client of the court order.  That is because triggering the deadline is a significant event in the proceedings against the client.  If, on the other hand, the deadline was triggered by an order of the state trial court, then the Sixth Amendment applies. In Douglas v. California, 372 U.S. 353 (1963) the Court held that counsel must be provided for the first statutory appeal of right.  In either case the attorney in question is ineffective for failing to notify the Court of his correct mailing address.   

The first question actually presented asks if the decision of the Eleventh Circuit went wrong deciding that the state procedural default rule was adequate as a matter of federal law in barring federal habeas review of serious constitutional claims.  In this case the appellate court disregarded state law permitting untimely appeals in analogous circumstances, reconstructed state law based on distinctions the state courts have not made, and relied on cases decided after the default had taken place. The Court will not hear arguments on this question.

Maples' second question will be argued before the Court.  That question is "Whether the Eleventh Circuit properly held - in conflict with the decisions of this Court and other courts - that there was no "cause" to excuse any procedural default where petitioner was blameless for the default, the State's own conduct contributed to the default, and petitioner's attorneys of record were no longer functioning as his agents at the time of any default."  Perhaps the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendment arguments will weigh in on this case after all.  

Picking up where Maples v. Thomas leaves off is the next Tuesday case, Martinez v. Ryan, number 10-1001.  Martinez was convicted of sexual conduct with a person under the age of fifteen and sentenced to two consecutive terms of 35 years to life by an Arizona court.  Lawyer "A" was Martinez' first state appointed appellate attorney.  Lawyer "A" initiated the first statutory appeal of right under the  Arizona Rules of Criminal Procedure by filing a "Notice of Post-Conviction Relief".  Martinez says he was not notified by Lawyer "A" of that filing. Lawyer "A" filed a motion with the state appellate court claiming that after a review of the trial transcripts and file she could find no colorable issues to raise on appeal.

Lawyer "A" asked the court to grant Martinez 45 days to file a pro se petition in support of post-conviction relief. Martinez alleges that his counsel filed this statement without prior notice to him and without his consent. He alleges that his counsel failed to advise him to file a pro se petition. On April 28, 2003, after time had expired for Martinez to file a petition, the trial court dismissed the Rule 32 action for post-conviction relief.

Exit Lawyer "A" and enter Lawyer "B".  Lawyer "B" filed a second motion for post-conviction relief alleging that Martinez' trial counsel was ineffective and raised Sixth and Fourteenth Amendment issues.

The Arizona Superior Court deemed Martinez' claims to be procedurally defaulted because he had failed to raise them in his first Rule 32 action for post-conviction relief. Martinez sought review in the Arizona Court of Appeals. That court granted review, but denied relief to Martinez on the basis that his claims were precluded. Martinez sought further review by the Arizona Supreme Court, which denied review without opinion.

The Ninth Circuit affirmed the Arizona courts, concluding that Martinez is procedurally barred from seeking federal habeas relief absent a showing of cause and prejudice to excuse his default.  The Ninth Circuit found no constitutional right to effective assistance of counsel in the post-conviction stage of the proceedings against Martinez.

The last argument on Tuesday is Howes v. Fields, case number 10-680.  The question for the Court is when is a prisoner "in custody" for purposes of the Miranda warning under 28 U.S.C. §2254, a part of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996. Fields was incarcerated in a Michigan prison, taken from the general population, placed in a locked conference room, and interrogated about issues unrelated to the crime that landed him prison in the first place.  Although he was told he could go back to his cell during the seven hour interrogation, he couldn't just get up and leave.  Returning to his cell required the summoning of a guard to open the conference room and escort Fields back to his cell.  Fields did not ask for a lawyer but did say several times that he did not want to speak to anyone about the new accusations being levied at him by police.  Fields was not given a Miranda warning before, during, or after his interrogation.

On Wednesday the Court shifts gears and looks into the far reaches of the "ministerial exception".  This is First Amendment doctrine barring most employment-related lawsuits brought against religious organizations by employees performing religious functions.   

In Hosanna-Tabor Church v. EEOC, case number 10-553, the question presented goes beyond the heart of the exception which the Circuits all agree covers hiring practices for pastors, priests, and rabbis.  This case looks at the hiring of teachers who fill clearly secular roles teaching  non-religious subjects and also teaches daily religion classes, is a commissioned minister, and regularly leads students in prayer and worship.

The final case to be heard on the first week of the 2011 October term focuses on the Progress Clause of the Constitution which is Article 1 § 8:  "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries".

The dispute in Golan v. Holder, case number 10-545, centers around §514 of the Uruguay Round Agreements Act of 1994.  Here Congress restored thousands of copyrights on works that had been placed in the Public Domain. 

The Petitioners in this case are orchestra conductors, educators, performers, film archivists and motion picture distributors, who relied for years on the free availability of these works in the Public Domain, which they performed, adapted, restored and distributed without restriction.

There are two questions being presented to the Court in this case.  First, does the Progress Clause of the United States Constitution prohibit Congress from taking works out of the Public Domain?

Second, does Section 514 violate the First Amendment of the United States Constitution?

Friday, August 19, 2011


Help Lynn Jenkins help seniors break the horrible culture of dependence.  Collect coupons for products like these and mail them to Lynn Jenkins at the address below.  


For crying out loud Lynn Jenkins tells us that America doesn't want old folks engaged in a culture of dependence.  So please send your coupons to  Lynn Jenkins! 

Do it now.  Clip those coupons from your paper.  Save, peruse, and use the coupons the grocers send to you in the mail.  Obliterating Social Security won't be easy, and we don't want to bother the wealthiest 2% by asking them to pay their fair share. 

Do It Now!  Help Lynn transition to the pre-Truman days when people just got old, sick, and died, without becoming a bother to Republicans.  Send the coupons to:

Representative Lynn Jenkins
Room 1122
Longworth House Office Building
Independence Avenue and South Capitol Street
Washington, DC 20003

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

THE CASE AGAINST LYNN JENKINS - CHAPTER 58: I don't know what Lynn Jenkins is smoking, but it can't be legal!

I don't know what Lynn Jenkins is smoking, but it can't be legal.  The Second District Congresswoman just sent me an e-mail confirming that she doesn't have a clue about history.  She excels at making propaganda points and is a spin doctor's star pupil.  To see how far afield she is from fact based truth I'll start with her conclusion.

Jenkins, speaking somewhat mindlessly about federal spending said:  "This plan is not perfect, but it took us more than 230 years to get into our current fiscal mess and with a Democrat Senate and President Obama in the White House it is an important step as we continue to fight to reform Washington and get our nation on a course toward financial accountability."

As reported previously on this blog (, during the Clinton Administration, employing those Clinton Era Tax Rates,  we had a Budget Surplus ($237 billion), the single largest three year pay down of the Public Debt ($363 billion), paid for Social Security, and reduced the interest payment on the debt by $125 billion.

Reality to Lynn Jenkins:  This problem is clearly rooted with a Republican President not using his veto pen while the Republicans in Congress were spending like crazy, plus the predictable negative effects of deregulation of Wall Street - which critically wounded the economy,  and George Bush waging two wars off the books.  America got into the current fiscal crisis for these reasons and not because of our 230 year history.  Rather than demagogue the issues why can't Lynn Jenkins just tell the truth?  Because she can't handle the truth!
Even MicroSoft Word found Representative Jenkins' grammar questionable.  But I can live with bad grammar better than with bad logic.  Jenkins' rambles in the beginning of her letter.  "This change we seek, from a Washington, D.C. culture of spending and increased government dependence toward a culture more consistent with Eastern Kansans that encourages opportunity, not dependence, takes time."   

I think what Jenkins is trying to say is that those who rely on funds from the government are dependent on the government.  That dependence, Jenkins believes, runs counter to the values of Eastern Kansas.

Gee, that sure sounds good.  But Lynn, when America is borrowing money to pay for the Bush Era tax cuts (and we are), then doesn't that throw a rod in the engine of your argument?   And who is it that Lynn thinks is too dependent on the government?   Well, I bet she doesn't think its these folk.  Ending the "Bush Era" rates will cost the Koch Brothers $2 billion, the Wal-Mart Walton family $7 billion, the Campbell Soup Dorrance Family more than a half a billion dollars, and the family at the center of the Mars Candy Co. fortune will lose a $2.5 billion savings on their estate taxes. 

And she doesn't think that Defense Contractors are dependent on the government dole.  Jenkins voted for H.R. 1473, the Department of Defense and FullYear Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011.  That measure outspends Budget Authority on Defense spending by $72,116,000.  That's just the nonemergency spending! To be fair every category got outspent from its Budget Authority.

Jenkins then turns our attention to the Draconian budget passed by the Republicans in the House,  H.Con.Res. 34.  The first confusing thing we see about the Republican Budget is that despite cuts it still perpetuates deficits.  Jenkins voted for these Budget Deficits: 

Fiscal year 2012: $1,081,462,000,000,

Fiscal year 2013: $787,260,000,000.

Fiscal year 2014: $578,441,000,000.

Fiscal year 2015: $523,938,000,000.

Fiscal year 2016: $574,365,000,000.

Fiscal year 2017: $499,984,000,000.

Fiscal year 2018: $463,988,000,000.

Fiscal year 2019: $492,064,000,000.

Fiscal year 2020: $467,907,000,000.

Fiscal year 2021: $439,622,000,000.

When Bill Clinton left office we had a Budget Surplus.  The Republicans can't get us back to zero with a ten year plan.

The Republicans want to spend more on Defense.  They plan, despite the winding down of the Middle East Wars, to ramp up spending for the Military-Industrial Complex.  Here are those numbers:

Fiscal year 2012:

(A) New budget authority, $582,626,000,000.

(B) Outlays, $593,580,000,000.

Fiscal year 2013:

(A) New budget authority, $600,283,000,000.

(B) Outlays, $597,211,000,000.

Fiscal year 2014:

(A) New budget authority, $616,451,000,000.

(B) Outlays, $606,903,000,000.

Fiscal year 2015:

(A) New budget authority, $628,847,000,000.

(B) Outlays, $618,837,000,000.

Fiscal year 2016:

(A) New budget authority, $641,976,000,000.

(B) Outlays, $635,475,000,000.

Fiscal year 2017:

(A) New budget authority, $653,695,000,000.

(B) Outlays, $643,275,000,000.

Fiscal year 2018:

(A) New budget authority, $665,679,000,000.

(B) Outlays, $650,246,000,000.

Fiscal year 2019:

(A) New budget authority, $677,884,000,000.

(B) Outlays, $666,959,000,000.

Fiscal year 2020:

(A) New budget authority, $690,273,000,000.

(B) Outlays, $679,088,000,000.

Fiscal year 2021:

(A) New budget authority, $702,903,000,000.

(B) Outlays, $691,494,000,000.

The Department of Energy, where we pay for our nuclear weapons, gets consistent overspending treatment for the next five years by the Republican Budget.

Fiscal year 2012:

(A) New budget authority, $6,996,000,000.

(B) Outlays, $16,174,000,000.

Fiscal year 2013:

(A) New budget authority, $3,850,000,000.

(B) Outlays, $10,053,000,000.

Fiscal year 2014:

(A) New budget authority, $1,215,000,000.

(B) Outlays, $4,547,000,000.

Fiscal year 2015:

(A) New budget authority, $1,101,000,000.

(B) Outlays, $1,360,000,000.

Fiscal year 2016:

(A) New budget authority, $1,021,000,000.

(B) Outlays, $340,000,000.

Fiscal year 2017:

(A) New budget authority, $1,010,000,000.

(B) Outlays, $460,000,000.

Fiscal year 2018:

(A) New budget authority, $1,075,000,000.

(B) Outlays, $539,000,000.

Fiscal year 2019:

(A) New budget authority, $1,211,000,000.

(B) Outlays, $497,000,000.

Fiscal year 2020:

(A) New budget authority, $1,179,000,000.

(B) Outlays, $470,000,000.

Fiscal year 2021:

(A) New budget authority, $1,195,000,000.

(B) Outlays, $476,000,000.

The Republicans begin to show their true colors when you look at the deep cuts they plan for Commerce and Housing Credit.

Fiscal year 2012:

(A) New budget authority, $14,317,000,000.

(B) Outlays, $16,275,000,000.

Fiscal year 2013:

(A) New budget authority, $4,040,000,000.

(B) Outlays, $2,611,000,000.

Fiscal year 2014:

(A) New budget authority, $508,000,000.

(B) Outlays, -$13,986,000,000.

Fiscal year 2015:

(A) New budget authority, -$2,609,000,000.

(B) Outlays, -$19,417,000,000.

Fiscal year 2016:

(A) New budget authority, -$3,260,000,000.

(B) Outlays, -$23,459,000,000.

Fiscal year 2017:

(A) New budget authority, -$293,000,000.

(B) Outlays, -$23,592,000,000.

Fiscal year 2018:

(A) New budget authority, -$261,000,000.

(B) Outlays, -$25,981,000,000.

Fiscal year 2019:

(A) New budget authority, -$222,000,000.

(B) Outlays, -$17,547,000,000.

Fiscal year 2020:

(A) New budget authority, -$128,000,000.

(B) Outlays, -$17,992,000,000.

Fiscal year 2021:

(A) New budget authority, -$196,000,000.

(B) Outlays, -$19,650,000,000.

The silent killer in this budget is found at §502 of  H.Con.Res. 34.  Social Security is not funded out of General Revenues.  Social Security has  its own revenue stream and is not, by law, allowed to borrow money.  The Republican Budget wants to micro-manage Social Security, on an annual  basis, to permit an expedited process for cutting Social Security.  That is something new. That is something bad, very, very bad.

Paul Ryan's template for slicing and dicing Social Security, and Lynn Jenkins is on board with this, is the Bowles-Simpson proposal.  That came from the Fiscal Commission, otherwise known as the Cat-food Commission, because it will force senior citizens to rely on generic Kibbles and Bits for nutrition.
Now remember that Congress can't just cut benefits, but for any year where Social Security is out of a 75 year balance, then they bring out the butcher knives.  And Bowles-Simpson wants to cut benefits for the poorest, they want to slash benefits for 60% of the very low wage earners.  Republicans  want to raise the full retirement age to 69, with earliest eligibility at age 64.  Bowles-Simpson and the Republicans want to negate cost of living inflation by using a new statistical tool called the Chained Consumer Price Index (C-CPI) by the Bureau of Labor Statistics(BLS).

The BLS says this C-CPI "index employs a superlative Tornqvist formula and utilizes expenditure data in adjacent time periods in order to reflect the effect of any substitution that consumers make across item categories in response to changes in relative prices."  Well, that's about as clear as mud!  What is lucid is the Republican plan to use the C-CPI to slash $108 billion in benefits over the next decade.

No thanks Lynn, you see the poor, the underemployed, the elderly, those needing housing, or seeking an education as dependent on the government.  I see them as citizens. I see them as persons.  I see them as "We the People" and your plan to cut their Social Security is despicable.
Representative Jenkins then tries to tell me how good H.R. 2560, the Cut, Cap, and Balance Act of 2011, is.  Please.   This is the knee jerk Balanced Budget Amendment bill.  It is a rotten idea.  Please read the Washington Post's article in the Post Partisan section written by Robert J. Samuelson on July 18, 2011,
Or listen to the short and simple advice from  The Incidental Economist who agrees that the Balanced Budget idea doesn't hold water,
The Baltimore Sun, on its opinion page says "Amending the Constitution won't move us toward a balanced budget anytime soon, and it will rob us of needed flexibility in hard times."  Read Phillip Joyce's op-ed at
The people know what the answer is.  Eliminate the Bush Era tax cuts for adjusted net incomes above $250,000.  Make responsible cuts to every department in the government.  Pass jobs bills now to get people back to work now.  Quit taking the American economy hostage by partisan stunts such as refusing to raise the debt limit.  The debt limit is never about new spending,  it is always about paying for what we've already spent. 
The difference between Lynn Jenkins and the mainstream of Eastern Kansas voters is clear and stark.  In my memory I can still hear the weekly call from my pastor, before we passed the collection plate.  "Where your heart is there also is  your treasure."  Good logic tells me if I follow the money going into Lynn Jenkins war chest that I'll find that which fuels her heart.  You can review that information at 
From where I am standing, it sure looks like Lynn Jenkins could benefit from a heart transplant.