Sequester: GOP Loses More Than Obama

On March 1, 2013 (two days from now) the human-made, totally avoidable, self-inflicted, meat-cleaver budget cuts known as the sequester will take affect.  But other than a descent in the stock market, most people will feel…nothing.

Why?  March 1 is a Friday.  Regardless of any action occurring on a Friday, the world doesn’t react before the next business day, which is the following Monday.  Even then, no one will really notice any difference in the world around them.  After all, it takes time for the money already paid to run out.  The GOP will be claiming, as some loud-mouth ultra-right wing pundits on Faux Noise and hate radio are claiming now, that the sequester was no big deal, that they were right and the democrats wrong, and that they’re winners and the democrats are a bunch of losers and alarmists.

And just like the person who stands at the edge of the beach, sees where the sea and the sky meet and confidently declares that the Earth is clearly flat, the celebrating GOP will likewise be claiming that the sequester is wonderful and we should have one every month.  The only problem with that declaration will be that in one month’s time, the effects of the sequester will begin to be truly felt by those ignorant masses known as the at-large electorate, and the GOP will suddenly be racing around trying avoid having to explain how and why they claimed four short weeks earlier that the sequester was good for children and other living things.

The reason for the delayed reaction is that it will take most agencies a month to implement the draconian cuts forced upon them by the sequester.  Those cuts will eventually cause reductions in service caused by reduced available resources, including people.  In the Federal Aviation Administration, Air Traffic Controllers and other safety-related personnel such as technicians and inspectors will begin serving furloughs.  So will private-sector controllers.  The same will occur at the  Transportation Security Agency, including the inspectors at the security gates at airports, as well as food inspectors at the Food & Drug Administration (FDA).  Senior citizens dependent upon Meals on Wheels will have to find their dinners elsewhere.  Unemployment insurance benefits will be dramatically reduced.

Programs that help children such as Head Start, vaccination programs,school lunch programs, etc. will be reduced or suspended completely, leaving needy children without early education, protection against childhood diseases, and the nourishment necessary to stay healthy and alert in school.  By April 1, 2013, unless congress finally agrees to compromise on budget reduction that takes into account both revenue increases, entitlement reform and spending cuts, we will begin to see these things actually occur before our eyes.

According to the latest polls, Americans would blame republicans more than they would blame Obama or the democrats for the sequester and inability to reach a compromise.  That is why the GOP has been attempting to spin that the sequester was Obama’s idea and his fault.  But facts are stubborn things.  23 republican senators out of 44 voted for the sequester, as did 174 GOP congresspeople out of 232.  In both cases, a clear majority of republicans voted yes, thus making it a bipartisan action.

All of this really boils down to the fact that conservative republicans teamed with the Tea Party Movement after the 2010 midterm elections and kidnapped the republican party.  They subsequently insisted upon a single goal:  shrink government by starving it of revenue, forcing abandonment of of all but the most basic programs such as defense and border security;  Say no to all tax increases, even if it means children go hungry and unprotected against disease, that food doesn’t get inspected, that oil spills pollute the environment, and that poor people starve to death or die of curable illnesses on the streets;  Let big business be free to do whatever it wants, and may the buyer beware.

As a result, the GOP refuses to compromise on deficit reduction, even when it involves closing tax loopholes that benefit the very rich.  They would rather preserve $8 billion a year in corporate welfare to the enormously profitable oil companies than pay for school lunches for the poor.  After all, those poor kids can’t come anywhere close to matching the campaign contributions that the oil companies routinely donate to the republicans, can they?

Thus, the democrats are betting that the republicans will paint themselves into a corner with their refusal to budge.  They have every reason to believe that more Americans than not will remember the harm done by the sequester and blame the republicans more than the democrats during the 2014 mid-term elections, which are, after all, only 18 months away.

In truth, it’s a national disgrace that the USA is even putting itself through this.  But the American people elected these inflexible ideologues into office.

Why would they now expect that they’re going to be flexible and logical?

Why Sequester Matters & Why Congress Doesn’t Care

On March 1st, 2013, a blunt-edged, slasher-movie, automatic $85 billion cut in the USA’s budget is scheduled to be implemented.  Roughly half of that cut will come from discretionary defense spending and the other half from discretionary domestic spending.  “Safety net” programs such as social security, medicare and medicaid are exempt, although medicare providers like doctors, clinics and labs will see a 2% reduction in medicare payments received.

This exercise in shooting a mosquito with an assault rifle is called “Sequestration“, which was meant to address the”spending cuts” half of the fiscal cliff.    The other half of the fiscal cliff was the tax increases on everyone when the Bush tax cuts finally expired on December 31, 2012.  Because of the last minute agreement between the republicans and the Obama administration that made those tax cuts permanent for those making less than $400,00o a year (while allowing them to expire for those making $400,000 a year or more), the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012  was signed into law in early January 2013.  That delayed implementation of the “spending cuts” portion (sequestration) of the cliff until march 1, 2013, to allow congress to negotiate a bipartisan agreement to avoid the meat-ax impact of blunt and indiscriminate budget cuts.

All of this resulted from the passage of the Budget Control Act of 2011, which itself was caused by the republicans’ initial refusal to raise the idiotic debt ceiling. Raising the debt ceiling does nothing more than authorize the USA to pay its bills for goods and services ALREADY BOUGHT but not yet paid for.  The USA and Denmark are the ONLY countries with such a stupid law.  The debt ceiling debate in the summer of 2011 produced nothing more than the Budget Control Act, and the downgrading of the USA’s international credit rating.  It also pissed off Wall Street.

The sequestration was designed to be so painful that both political sides would be forced to compromise on tax increases and spending cuts.  Ultimately, sequestration would force $1.2 trillion in cuts over 10 years, with $85 billion in 2013.  However, most reputable economists are advocating that in order for the USA to get its fiscal house in order, it requires a 10-year deficit reduction of $4 trillion.  Even with the full unbridled implementation of sequestration, there would still have to be a further deficit reduction of $2.8 trillion, more than double what a very painful sequestration would provide.

According to many sources, the Obama administration has already reduced the 10 year deficit by $2.5 trillion, both in actual spending reductions and with the expiration of the Bush tax cuts on the highest earning 1%.  If true, than to meet the $4 trillion target only requires another $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction.  Sequestration would accomplish much of that, but with a huge price tag in terms of reduced government services including defense spending (the sacred cow of the GOP), aviation security, food inspections and other things Americans take for granted.  So why is the sequestration probably going to take effect anyway?

Despite its embarrassing election losses in November, the GOP is back to its “my way or no way” mantra.  Republicans insist that the entire deficit reduction must be accomplished ONLY with spending cuts and completely without revenue increase.  They don’t want defense spending touched in an way.  Instead, they really want to target the safety net programs.  They believe the American people will side with them on this, all evidence to the contrary.

Conversely, the democrats want “hands off” regarding social security, medicare and medicaid.  They’re not against spending cuts, but they want the safety net programs fenced.  They want significant defense spending reductions.  And they want the rich to pay more in taxes by closing the loopholes that the rich use to reduce their tax rates to less than many middle class taxpayers.

It seems incredible that this totally manufactured crisis hasn’t already been resolved through honest compromise.  You know…like the way congress used to work before the loonies “sequestered” the mainstream republican party away in the batshit-mobile?

Incredibly, some conservative tea party congresspeople see the sequester as a good thing.  They want smaller government, they don’t care how, so let’s do it even if it causes another recession or a stock market crash.

On the other hand, since most safety net programs are exempt from the sequester, some congressional democrats see the sequester as the only realistic opportunity they’ll ever have to significantly reduce defense spending.  No one is budging, and in fact, congress is on vacation!  So the smart money is on the sequester actually happening (unless Obama can pull one more rabbit out of the hat)

In fact, congress has its own safety net, don’cha know.  It will take a month for the sequester to really start being felt.  That provides congress cover to work something out before the final hammer falls.

Maybe, for the good of the country, they’ll do that.

Yeah, and maybe the tooth fairy will visit you tonight.

Marco Rubio: GOP Rising Star That Fell Back to Earth

Yesterday was quite a day for news junkies.  The stories about the Pope resigning continued to spread, along with speculation as to his real motives.  The ex-LAPD cop was reported to be trapped by law enforcement officers in a burning cabin and was presumed at the time to be burning to a crispy piece of char-broiled ex-person.  And president Obama rudely cut into the news stations’ mesmerization of mindless America by repetitious reporting of the burning cabin in California, by giving his State of the Union address to a joint session fo the US congress.

Oh, yeah…and there were not just one, but two GOP responses to the State of the Union speech.

One of them was by republican senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, a member of the ultra-conservative Tea Party Express.  If you missed it (and almost everyone in the world did..after all, the news outlets’ coverage of a burning cabin has a higher ratings factor), you can watch it HERE.  Suffice it to say it was typical Rand Paul, who is suspected of really being his own father, Ron Paul of Texas, in a clever disguise .

Obama is a great speaker, and last night’s performance was no exception.  He got a lot of applause, some of it actually from republicans.  One exception, however, was when he called upon congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would it easier for women to seek redress for unequal pay for equal work.  As most of the hundred of people present stood up and applauded, a large number of republican congressmen and women (no less!) sat silently.

How or why would anyone be against equal pay for equal work, regardless of gender???  Go ask the GOP.

Or better yet, go ask Marco Rubio, the republican junior senator from Florida.  Rubio is a young and energetic politician whose parents emigrated from Cuba years before the Castro regime took control of that country.  He is extremely conservative for his years, a favorite of the Tea Party and a rising star within the GOP, which hopes to win the back the presidency in 2016.

Rubio was tasked with providing the official” GOP response to the president’s State of the union address.  In doing so, he seemed to have a few “physically awkward” moments.  One that is being talked about a lot occurred when he stopped his speech momentarily to take a drink from a plastic water bottle.  In fairness to Rubio, this should not be a big deal.  If anything, the GOP operative who supervised the scene for the TV camera is at fault for not having the bottle very close to Rubio so that he could easily reach it to take a swig.  Instead, it was placed on a stool off-camera far enough way from him that he had to make a very noticeable effort to reach the bottle, and again to put it back.  Very awkward, but who cares and let’s move on.

What seems far worse was how Rubio kept lifting his hands to scratch parts of his face.  It happened at least three times, and looked like he was being bitten by gnats or maybe noseeums” (pronounced no-see-ums).  It was disturbing to watch and it distracted from Rubio’s typical tea party message.  That message bashed Obamacare, any tax increase of any amount for any reason, government in general, and government spending in particular.  He advocated serious non-specific cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security,

Although Obama mentioned fixing the voting process in the USA that forced some people to wait in line for seven or more hours to vote in the last election, Rubio mentioned nothing about this in his speech.  Keep in mind that Rubio is a senator from Florida, the laughing stock of the USA during the November 2012 general election due to the very long (seven-hour-plus) voting lines.  Those were caused by conservative GOP governor Rick ScottWith the help of the GOP-controlled state legislature, he reduced early voting days and times in Florida by almost half.  Obviously, the good people in the Florida state government missed the limelight they had enjoyed during the 2000 presidential vote debacle in Florida.  🙂  Rubio had a chance to distance himself from this debacle, and he blew it HUGE.

Rubio did something else that should make people sit up and note:

Rubio mentioned God three times in the body of the speech, used the word “blessed” twice,  the word “pray” once, and pushed pro-life, while inferring that Obama’s gun proposals are unconstitutional.  He promoted burning coal instead of investing in clean energy.  And then he mentioned God again…THREE TIMES…in a single final sentence.

The Tea Party and the GOP’s ultra-conservative base must have enjoyed endless multiple orgasms over Rubio’s opening volley of the 2016 GOP primary season!

All everyone else heard was same-old same-old, my way or the highway, & say NO to everything.

So much for the GOP’s “rebirth”.

BSA: Boy Scouts of America? Or Bigots Seriously Anti-gay?

There was a time perhaps half a century ago when many American boys looked forward to joining the Cub Scouts (ages 8- 11) and/or Boy Scouts( BSA) (ages 11 & above).  Their parents encouraged their sons to became scouts because they knew that scouting stood for good citizenship and for learning skills such as camping, living outdoors, and a whole myriad of other skills that could be useful in adulthood.  Scouting also taught other basic skills such as cleanliness, teamwork, and of course, to “Be prepared”, which is the BSA motto.

Although the BSA had some minor militaristic characteristics such as uniforms, rankings based upon required accomplishments, and standing assemblies, it generally was not considered a militia or right-wing organization, nor was it considered politically or religiously right-wing based.

In the 1950’s and early 1960’s, most people weren’t thinking in terms of gay-rights or the religion-right taking over government.  Americans’ concerns were directed at the perceived Soviet/communism threat of global domination.  The civil rights movement was just beginning to gain national attention. The USA had not yet gotten irreversibly mired in the Vietnam war.  But as the decade of the sixties progressed, the social/sexual/anti-war/anti-military-industrial complex/anti-draft revolutions blossomed into full-fledged historical change agents that resulted in new standards of human interaction.

Most people probably never even knew that the BSA did not allow gays or lesbians to serve as either members or staff.  During the 1970’s and even the 1980’s, many gays and lesbians were still “in the closet”.  If they served as cub scout den mothers or boy scout troop leaders, they certainly didn’t let anyone know ab0ut their homosexuality.

In the 1980’s when Ronnie the Ray-Gun was president, Jerry Falwell’s “Moral Majority” was given free reign to dictate its version of morality to America:

1.  Sex is evil.
2.  Premarital sex is particularly evil.
3.  Homosexual sex is even more evil.
4.  In all cases, abstinence is the only acceptable policy.
5.  In the case of procreation, as long as you are married, #4 is waived, but only if you don’t enjoy the sex part.

Gays and lesbians were considered to be dangerous Satanical deviates hell-bent upon bringing godless communism into every home in America.  rejection of gays and lesbians was crutical to receiving God’s love.  As proof, HIV/AIDS was reported to be God’s punishment against gays, bisexuals, Hollywood liberals, and disco lovers.

Curiously, gays pedophile priests in the Roman Catholic Church that have been raping and sexually torturing/traumatizing children for almost 2000 years don’t seem be covered under the same limitations or restrictions as BSA members and staff…..but that’s another blog..    🙂

In any event, as the issue of gay rights gained traction in the 1990’s and 2000’s, the BSA moved further and further to the right, partially motivated by the fact that some of the locales they had used for decades as meeting places, such as schools, began to impose non-discrimination policies.  Religious organizations rushed to fill that gap, and along with other conservative groups began to exert increasing pressure and influence on the BSA to maintain its anti-gay, pro=religious policies.

The result of all this has been that with over 70% of all BSA troops now affiliated with religious organizations, membership in the BSA has declined from approximately 8 million members in 1999 to 2.7 million today.

This decline of 2/3 of their membership numbers, as well as the total acceptance of gays and lesbians in the US Armed Forces, brought enormous pressure to bear upon the BSA to get their act together and join the 21st century by eliminating their  anti-gay discrimination policies.  To that end, the BSA proposed a change that would allow individual troops to decide whether or not to allow gays and lesbians into their troops.  Their final decision was expected today.

Unfortunately, this policy, if it had been adopted, would have allowed gays into some troops while others that suffered from homophobia or severe religious overdose could continue to discriminate.  However, over time, the lunatic-fringe-controlled troops would be singled out in the face of other “all-inclusive” troops becoming the majority.

Nonetheless, the BSA today announced that it will delay its decision on this defective policy until its national meeting (or Jamboree) in May 2013  because “due to the complexity of this issue, the organization needs time for a more deliberate review of its membership policy.

Translation:  The religious organizations, reinforced by ultra-conservative organizations such as the Family Research Council, are exerting enormous pressure on the BSA to hold the line on gay participation in the BSA;  they need time between now and May to do the intense lobbying necessary to hold back ANY change in the BSA’s anti=gay, anti-lesbian, anti-transsexual policies.

The smart money says that the extreme-religious right will probably prevail in May.  If that happens, the BSA may well degenerate into a militia-style ultra-right wing Hitler-youth type of organization.

Or…they might get adopted by the organization seen picketing here:  the Westboro Baptist Church:

<br /><br /><br /><br />
	Shirley Phelps-Roper (R) and her daughter Megan of the Westboro Baptist Church, a Kansas church known for its vehement anti-gay positions and for protesting at US soldiers' funeral, stage a protest across the street from Northwestern High School in Hyattsville, Maryland, outside Washington, on March 1, 2011. The church was demonstrating against what it claims is a 'pervert-run' school and said teachers across the country have 'broken the moral compass of this generation.' <br /><br /><br /><br />