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Campaign 2012

Will the Lame Duck be Lame?

President Obama

Will anything get done in the lame duck session of congress between now and the end of year holidays? The answer is yes. Like during the 2010 lame duck session, expect congress to get some stuff done, and the debate will be engaging. First will be dealing with the so-called fiscal cliff, and an easy prediction is that the country will avoid it.

On Nov. 6, just after the results of the election were known, the conservative Heritage Action released a video titled “Stand with Us,” that asserted “the election is over, but the campaign isn’t.” The video was a little scary with the closeup shots of Heritage CEO Michael Needham, and a musical score that sounded like it was from the movie “the Omen.” They warned viewers to be on the lookout for “Taxmageddon” (a.k.a. fiscal cliff) coming Jan. 1, 2013.

President Obama had other ideas about the fiscal cliff, which he expressed in his weekly address last Saturday. It is worth watching.

According to Thomas Kenny, “’Fiscal cliff’ is the popular shorthand term used to describe the conundrum that the U.S. government will face at the end of 2012, when the terms of the Budget Control Act of 2011 are scheduled to go into effect.

Among the laws set to change at midnight on December 31, 2012, are the end of last year’s temporary payroll tax cuts (resulting in a 2% tax increase for workers), the end of certain tax breaks for businesses, shifts in the alternative minimum tax that would take a larger bite, the end of the tax cuts from 2001-2003, and the beginning of taxes related to President Obama’s health care law. At the same time, the spending cuts agreed upon as part of the debt ceiling deal of 2011 will begin to go into effect.”

Either congress will kick the can down the road, or they will come together with a solution. If they attempt to extend rather than solve, then watch President Obama’s reaction. He made his position clear, saying, “if Congress sends me a clean bill extending the tax cuts on the first $250,000 of every family’s income, I will sign it right away.” After winning the election, President Obama has some political capital, and using it here makes some sense.

Other things to watch for in the lame duck session?

Will Social Security be on the table as the fiscal cliff is averted? Stay tuned, Harry Reid said no.

Senator John Kerry indicated he will call up the Law of the Sea Treaty for ratification, even though 34 senators have said they are against it (two thirds majority needed for ratification). The treaty is perceived by conservatives to infringe on American sovereignty, and they are against it. How dare the United Nations attempt to update laws in place since the 17th Century when international waters were defined by how far a cannonball flew from shore?

The farm bill may come up during the lame duck session, but don’t look for anything but an extension here. The types of reform needed are to end big ag subsidies and reform SNAP (food stamps) and other nutrition programs. There does not appear to be enough time to do either. While people on SNAP view the farm bill as a matter of survival, conservatives view it as a $1 trillion boondoggle.

Immigration reform and the DREAM Act. We’ll see if all the Republican talk about immigration reform is more than a cynical ploy to gain support among Hispanic voters in 2014.

Changing the Senate rules on the filibuster: I bet it gets filibustered.

Regardless of what happens, the lame duck session will be anything but lame.

Tired Of Right Wingers Claiming To Be Victims

Tuesday night a couple of weeks ago I was down at Muscatine City Hall for a forum for the Muscatine County candidates for state office. At the end of the proceedings, Bobby Kaufmann raised a ruckus about a mailer from his opponent. The mailer apparently listed Mr. Kaufmann’s run ins with the law, including one about 8 months ago. I knew nothing of it at the time, but I asked around after the forum what he was so upset about. I was told about the mailer and told he felt it was a ‘smear.” My first question was is the information accurate? If so, I don’t believe it can be a smear.

Along those lines the Republican Party is the group that calls loudly and often for “personal responsibility.” Seems to me that multiple run ins with John Law would indicate that “personal responsibility” is not his schtick.

He is hardly the first politician to have legal problems. Sometimes a public outing of a problem will bring remorse and a personal rehabilitation. But often the response is arrogance and defiance. Used to be that the voting public had a soft spot for those who show remorse and little time for those who show arrogance. Looks to me based on his response in the forum he is still in that arrogance stage. I used to have a Republican friend who used to speak bumperstickerese. One of his favorite slogans was “you do the crime, you do the time.”

The other thing that kind of surprised me is that surely many people must have known about this record, yet no one stood up and said “maybe he’s not ready yet?” I know had I been in a similar situation, I would not have had to go any further than my father to get a straight answer. He would have told me to clean up my act. NOW!

This is just one local example of a party that is truly arrogant and feels that any criticism of them, their words or actions is wrong and they are therefore “victims” of – well who knows what? – a biased press, distortion, mass hypnosis? Before Youtube and cell phone cameras and other technologies recorded major screw ups for posterity many politicians would deny, deny, deny. Then it became the reporter’s word against the politician’s. But today it is really hard for a politician to deny. Yet they still try to.

Who can forget George Allen in Virginia being recorded calling a member of his opponent’s staff “macaca” knowing full well it was a racial slur. First he denied, then he tried to lie his way out of the incident. I can’t remember whether he eventually apologized, or did the Republican version of apologizing. The Republican apology is the one that starts out “I am sorry if anyone was offended….” No actual feeling of remorse or contrition on their part. No personal responsibility taken. By stating the “apology” that way they set themselves up as a “victim” of those who are too politically correct.

The Romney campaign has been rife with a constant victim mentality. For one thing, they (Romney and Ryan) are constanly lying, then playing a victim card when their lies are pointed out. And they show no remorse for their lies. No siree, they just keep on telling them. Like the one about Medicare, or how about the never happened Obama apology tour? Then there is the one about how they will not turn Medicare into a voucher program, even though that is exactly what is in Ryan’s budget plan. How about the whopper of how Romney really had the plan to save GM. And how he (Romney) never said “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.” No contrition for the lies, but when media points out the lies Romney falls into a ‘victim” mode.

Who can forget that poor, poor victim David Vitter? Caught using prostitutes, he tries to lie his way out. When that won’t work, he drags his poor wife on the stage to bring sympathy.

But my favorite this election year is Romney and his financial situation. For one thing as a candidate to lead the most powerful country in the world, he refuses to reveal his financial holdings. These holdings may have information that would indicate that Romney may on occasion make a decision that is not in the interest of the United States, but in his own financial interest. The Sensata incident is a good example of that. Yet when calls are made to reveal his investments, he cries out that his opponents only want to use the information against him. In other words he is saying “I am a victim.” Romney also has investments in tax-avoiding overseas accounts. For the same reason the public should see what his holdings are. Again he claims that he is a victim when someone calls to see these oversea tax avoiding accounts.

And of course there is the tale of his taxes that he refuses to reveal. Again he cries victimhood. It is indeed a very sad commentary that our media simply reports this. And it is also a truly sad commentary on our country that Romeny can get away with playing the victim. He even has his wife running cover for him.

And finally there are the various Republican politicians who have claimed in one way or another that there are no true victims of rape and there is no way possible that a woman can get pregnant from rape (Todd Akin, Richard Murdoch and our own Steve King). When this insane position is taken to task, they act like that they are victims of  those who are too politically correct.

Enough with the false victimhood. Take the credit for your actions. Show real personal responsibility.

Five Ways to Get Involved with the Democratic National Convention

Not everyone can attend the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. next week, but the planners developed five ways to people to get involved, if you can’t be there in person. Check out the full story at the link, and here’s the list:

1. Host or attend a Watch Party in your community. On Thursday, September 6, Americans will gather together at watch parties across the country to watch President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden deliver their nomination acceptance speeches. Find a party near you and join, or get a group of friends together to host your own.

2. Download the 2012 DNC Mobile App. The first-ever DNC mobile app offers another opportunity to engage and participate in the convention. Live stream the convention from gavel-to-gavel straight to your phone; get an all access pass to convention events; and share your favorite convention moments and photos, all right at your fingertips.

3. Watch the live stream on The entire convention floor program, from the Keynote Address to the platform approval to the President’s acceptance speech, will be broadcast live on the DNCC website and YouTube channel so you can watch from your mobile phone, computer, or tablet device.

4. Join the conversation @DemConvention and #DNC2012. Use social media to engage with fellow Americans as you watch the convention unfold. Use the official hashtag #DNC2012 and get updates from @DemConvention on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, Flickr, and YouTube.

5. Take an “I’m There” photo to show your support, and encourage others to get involved. Take a photo with the DemConvention logo and tweet it or post it to Facebook. Get your friends and family to follow your lead and let us know that you’re “there” for the President.

There’s No Excuse For Dogfighting. There’s No Excuse For King.

Romney’s Position On Wind Power Could Mean Trouble In Iowa

Mitt Romney opposes tax breaks for wind energy.

President Obama supports tax breaks for wind energy.

You do the math.

Marcos Moulitsas posted about it yesterday.

Iowa is quite competitive this year.  [Click here to see the trendlines on DailyKos].    So in an election where marginal parochial issues may make a difference, it’s surprising that ethanol isn’t center stage. It’s wind power.

The lines are now drawn on a political hot button in Iowa: a lucrative tax break for wind energy.

Mitt Romney is against it, President Barack Obama favors it — opposing stances that could have political and economic implications in Iowa, which has more wind energy jobs than any other state in the nation.

And it’s not just Democrats attacking Romney for his position.

Top GOP leaders in Iowa — including Republican Gov. Terry Branstad and the entire congressional delegation — champion the tax break as a vital economic development tool.

Monday evening, U.S. Rep. Tom Latham said the position Team Romney laid out “shows a lack of full understanding of how important the wind energy tax credit is for Iowa and our nation. It’s the wrong decision.” Latham called for Romney to re-evaluate.

A spokeswoman for U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley said Monday he considers the tax credit he authored to be a tremendous success, but he has been talking with wind backers “about options that include a multi-year phase-out along with tax reform.”

(click here to read the entire article)





Preserve Medicare — Vote Democratic

Vote Democratic

The Republican plan to eliminate Medicare is known, but Iowans have no idea what’s in store for them. It is a scheme to transfer health care protections for aging Americans to private companies over time.

Their plan would end Medicare as we know it for all Americans born after 1956, in ten years. This is an aggressive political calculation that pits young against old in an attempt to gain unwitting support for the plan among voters whose current Medicare benefits would not be the first to go.

Medicare would increase the eligibility to age 67 over ten years, an idea they have tried to lead us to believe is necessary because of longer life expectancies and better health outcomes.

The trouble with the Republican plan is that it replaces the current system with vouchers that they think they can sell the public as something better and cheaper than nothing. Do the math.

The proposed annual voucher payment is about $8,000, which is the per capita dollar amount projected for 65-year-olds in traditional Medicare in 2022. After that, the voucher values would change over time based on indexing to the consumer price index. Sound reasonable? Not really.

I pay my own health insurance premium and it is $9,120 per year. We expect an annual increase of at least 11 percent. Project that rate of increase for ten years and the amount would be $23,655 per year for health insurance. People born after 1956 would have to make up the gap between the voucher and actual cost. Who could afford that at age 67?

So what’s a person to do to preserve Medicare? Two words: Vote Democratic.

Preserve Social Security–Vote Democratic

Lowden, Iowa - June 5, 2012

When it comes to Social Security, the Democratic Party supports the promise made when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed The Social Security Act on Aug. 14, 1935. That promise is that people in society would contribute to Social Security to fund a benefit to help retirees as they become unable to work.

Republicans would change the promise of Social Security if they could enact the Paul Ryan budget, as Second District Congressional Candidate John Archer said he would, if elected. Why is this important?

The Ryan plan would create social conflict. Current benefits for those 55 years and older would continue as they are, creating a division between young and old in society. That is a mean spirited political calculation.

Instead of being a social program, the plan would be converted to one of property rights, similar to the Thrift Savings Plan available to federal employees. Up to a third of Social Security taxes could be invested by the contributor into a personal retirement account. The funds in the accounts could be passed on to heirs. This would effectively nullify the commitment from society to prevent our elders from living in poverty, and move society to answering the question “what’s in it for me,” instead of “what’s in it for us?”

Finally the Ryan plan claims to make Social Security permanently solvent. The trouble is that removing the protections for our senior citizens would create a permanent class of impoverished elders, with a social and financial cost that would be transferred to other parts of society that are ill-equipped to handle it.

What can a person do about this? Vote Democratic on Nov. 6.

Observations – Branstad Loves Education?

Pardon me if I am skeptical, quite skeptical, about Terry Branstad being a wild eyed reformer in favor of education. This is not the old Terry Branstad who was bad enough. No, this is the new, much more ALECy Branstad. My guess is that he is maneuvering the state education system into a situation where in a couple of years he and his corporate cronies will come up with the next great education ideas – vouchers to private schools. This is – surprise, surprise, – a maneuver that has taken place in many states to angle the state into starving the public schools system while taking state taxpayer funds in the form of vouchers and handing that money over to fat cat corporations.
Education should be the province of the state, not that of the Washington Post or the Koch Corporation. If citizens want their kids to go to private schools that should be in addition to taxes for public schools.
If we go to a voucher system, public schools will become a depository for only the poorest and most troublesome of kids. At the same time the other kids will get an education as distorted through the prism of whatever the corporation in charge believes. Doesn’t seem like a formula for success.

The marriage of church and state.
Every week I start to write about this and then back off. No doubt writing about someone’s church will bring out motions. But with the recent huddling of the Catholic Church with the Republican Party, I can’t help but wondering what the hell the bishops are thinking. If they believe they can get in bed on only one issue and not be expected to be used to show approval for the whole Republican agenda, they will be surprised. Rep. Paul Ryan has already used the Catholic Church as cover for his incredibly immoral budget that starves the poor and feeds the military and corporations. And the Catholic Church was surprised by this?

Stephanie Miller on TV.
It has been a delight to be able to see the Stephanie Miller show on Current TV in the morning. One thing liberals have that is seldom seen on the so-called conservative side is humor. Stephanie has humor in abundance.
If you want to hear the show on the radio, streaming on the computer is your friend. I usually listen to KTNF out of Minneapolis. WCPT from Chicago also carries Steph daily. Just use the googles to find those stations.

Will Paul Ryan be the most powerful Republican even if Romney is elected?
“Some conservatives say Mr. Bennett might have the reality reversed. “Paul Ryan effectively captured the Republican presidential candidates,” Representative Tom Cole of Oklahoma, a member of the House Republican leadership, said admiringly.”
“Grover Norquist, the Republican strategist who heads Americans for Tax Reform, said in an interview that he did not expect Mr. Romney to lead as president. He just wants him to sign the bills that put Mr. Ryan’s vision into practice.
One of the deceptions you buy into if you are a Republican is that the president leads your party. Sorry, it is Charles and David Koch, Rush Limbaugh, Grover Norquist, Richard DeVos, Paul Ryan. Lot of people in the Republican Party more powerful than their presidential nominee.

No April snow in Iowa and unusually warm
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) _ The state climatologist’s office says that for the first time since 1890, no snow was recorded anywhere in Iowa during April as the warm weather continued.
National Weather Service records show Iowa is experiencing the warmest year on record for the first four months of the year.
The average temperature was 43.8 degrees, breaking 1921 record of 40.3
Need I add anything?

Wait! Argentina doesn’t follow rules, is very successful!
As Europe seems determined to plunge themselves into a deep recession and the Republicans pushing hard to follow suit here in the US, it was quite interesting how Argentina faced down international pressure and has turned itself into a booming economy.
Also of note is that many of the so-called leading economists give the credit to a commodities boom which is far from the truth. Sell the myth.

Bob Kerrey Sings, Democrats Dance

This is an amazing video of one of the most touching and authentic moments in politics ever. Lawrence O’Donnell devoted a large portion of his show to Kerrey last night after his surprise announcement that he will run for his old senate seat in Nebraska currently held by Ben Nelson, greatly increasing the odds that Democrats will retain control of the senate. Kerrey was Governor of Nebraska from 1983 to 1987 and a United States Senator  from 1989 to 2001.  A veteran of the Vietnam war,  he was awarded a Medal of Honor for “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a SEAL team leader.”   LINK

Welcome back, Bob Kerrey. Your country needs you again.