Obama vs. GOP: Intellectual Symmetry R NOT US

Last night President Obama gave yet another magnificent State of the Union Speech to a joint session of the US congress and attended by most of the US supreme court.  Much of the nation watched this speech on television, as has become the custom since the days of the G W Bush administration and the 9-11 attack on the World trade Center and the Pentagon.  And when one recalls the rhetorical (of lack thereof) approach to speech of George W. Bush, who could not properly pronounce the word “nuclear”, with the oratory gifts of Barack Obama, the lack of oratory symmetry between that republican and this democrat is clear.

Thus, the GOP must have been shaking in their boots over Obama’s speech-giving capabilities last night because they deemed it necessary to respond with no less than THREE republicans.  Senator Ted Cruz from Texas criticized Obama for his use of executive orders, even though Obama has issued far less executive orders than GW Bush or Saint Ronnie the Ray-Gun .

Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky hemmed and hawed about Obama’s raising the minimum wage for employees of federal contractors  and about passing an extension of unemployment insurance that Obama promoted in his speech, repeating his claim that unemployment compensation is bad for the unemployed…You know, like food is bad for starving people.

But the official republican response to Obama’s speech was delivered by republican congresswomen Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington state.  She countered Obama’s concrete proposals of raising the minimum wage, equal pay for women, reducing oil use in favor of using more natural gas, increased spending for education, universal pre-K, innovative research and infrastructure jobs, immigration reform, etc., with her story of being raised on a farm in Washington, raising farm animals, saving money for college, praying a lot, and then going to college and praying a lot and getting married and praying a lot and having kids and praying a lot.

McMorris Rodgers offered the republican plan for prosperity for America which consisted of a positive attitude and hard work and good morale and praying and….no specifics.

With the mid-term elections a mere 8 months away, republicans are hoping that they can maintain control of the House of Representatives and take control of the US senate from the democrats in November.  But this hope comes on the heels of their tea-party-engineered government shutdown and near-US-debt default last October that the GOP got blamed for.  Were it not for the disastrous Obamacare website rollout at the same time, most political forecasters would probably be writing the republicans’ obituary now.

It’s true that during the closing moments of 2013 a bipartisan budget deal was reached between democrats and republicans to avoid yet another government shutdown early this year.  But the bipartisanship ended there.

The House is, after all, only interested in only three things:

1.  Making Obama and the democrats look bad;

2.  Making Obamacare look bad; and

3.  Helping their Super-PAC campaign contributors make and keep more money.

So last night, realizing that the GOP-controlled members of the House probably wouldn’t budge from their intransigent positions, Obama laid it out:

If he can’t get congress to enact common sense legislation that he can sign into law on these issues, he will unilaterally invoke and sign presidential executive orders.  Perhaps that sounds dictatorial to the GOP, but then his predecessor GW Bush signed 197 of them during his two terms as president, and St. Ronnie the Ray Gun signed 256 of them…far more than Obama’s 167.

However, you’d never know it by listening to the SCREAMING of republicans last night as they yelled about Obama ignoring the constitution.  But the facts are that there is no intellectual symmetry whatsoever to the number of presidential executive orders signed by democrats vs. republicans as seen above, just as there is no intellectual symmetry whatever to the number outrageous statements and behaviors demonstrated by republicans vs. democrats.

Take, for instance, (caught on camera no less) New York state republican congressman Michael Grimm’s actions against a NY1 news reporter, Michael Scotto, in which Grimm threatened to throw Scotto off a balcony for asking a question about a justice department investigation of Grimm for alleged illegal campaign fundraising.

Obviously, the reporter had the right to ask the question, but the republican congressman thought the reporter didn’t have freedom of the press, any more than some republicans say that women don’t have the right to equal pay, or that wives don’t have the right to say no to their husbands, or that women can’t get pregnant by an act of rape.  Democrats don’t run around making these idiot statements.

And finally, how would one explain that in this day and age, the number of republicans who reject the science of evolution in favor of creationism is actually rising, while the number of democrats sending their children to engineering/technology colleges is increasing?

No intellectual symmetry, is how.  🙂

So How Do You Like This Shoot-Em-Up Year So Far?

It’s been two weeks since our 2014 predictions, and while it’s still to early to determine how close to reality we came, some new stuff is happening worth commenting on.

On top is that Americans’ love affair with the old wild west is continuing unabated, considering that no less than two shootings made national headlines within the first two weeks of the new year.  The first was a 71 year-old ex-cop from Florida who decided to shoot a fellow movie-goer with a .380 pistol in a theater in a Tampa, Florida suburb because the victim was texting on his cell phone during the previews.  Granted, texting is rude and inconsiderate and annoying to anyone seated nearby who can see the light coming from the cellphone.  Also, the guy doing the texting threw his popcorn at the ex-cop after a shouting match ensued.  But to be shot for it??  Yep.  Because this is America, where everyone has a right to a gun, even in a movie theater.

The second shooting incident occurred in a Roswell, New Mexico (Yep!  Of area 51 fame!) middle school gym, where a 12 year-old boy came to school with a 20-gauge shotgun with a sawed-off stock and just started shooting at fellow students.  The reason?  No one knows yet.  But did he really need a reason?  After all, this is America, where everyone has a right to a gun, even if they’re crazy.  Just ask the senate republicans, who filibustered a bill that would have extended background checks, including mental health checks, to gun shows and internet sales.

The other event, or non-event to be more accurate, is that as of this late date, the senate has yet to pass an extension of the long-term unemployment benefits that ran out for 1.3 million long term unemployed and their families on December 28, 2013, because senate republicans want to squeeze extra spending cuts out of the democrats that they could not get in the bi-partisan budget deal agreed to a couple of weeks ago.  As a result, they’re going into a  “cooling off” period, then they’ll go on a one-week vacation (after being off for several weeks during the Christmas-New Years season), and then MAYBE when they return they’ll try to work on a compromise.

And while these millionaire (yeah, really!  Most are MILLIONAIRES!!) politically conservative republican congressmen and senators who are blocking those unemployment benefits for the needy return to their homes districts in the dead of winter when nothing is really demanding their attention back home (or perhaps spend a week in St. Thomas studying how they make rum), those chronically employed may not be able to heat their homes, or may have to choose between eating food, or buying medicine.

But rest assured:  republicans care about you and the economy.  That’s why they’re fighting to keep the democrats from raising taxes on the wealthy.  If they can just cut spending where it really needs to be cut…in food stamps, heating assistance, meals on wheels, unemployment insurance, Obamacare, school lunch programs, education, pre-K programs…and eliminate useless agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency…just think of all that extra money that could be saved to reduce taxes even more for the job creators.  and then EVERYONE could have a $7.25 an hour job!

Except for one inconvenient truth:

This doesn’t work.

Even republicans are learning that most Americans aren’t buying what they’re selling anyone.  That is why the GOP latched onto Obamacare as the ISSUE OF THE MILLENNIUM, because they knew that none of their own agenda items were maintaining traction with Americans.  The latest polls demonstrate it clearly:

Republicans oppose raising the minimum wage but 71% of Americans support it.   Republicans oppose unemployment benefits, but 58% of Americans want them extended. (source: Quinnipiac)

When people were asked their party affiliation by Gallup this year, only 24% identified as republican, while 29% called themselves democrats.  The rest claimed to be independents, of which 5% leaned left and 5% leaned right.

This means that on its best day, the GOP can only depend on 29% of the vote.  Therefore, to win an election, the rest of their support MUST come from winning independent votes on the issues, and the GOP is doing a terrible job of that.  Do they really think that the rest of America didn’t notice when senate republicans filibustered the gun background check bill last year, even though 90% of Americans were in favor of the bill?

Additionally, the GOP has done NOTHING about the “American 21st century cowboy shoot-’em-up culture” and NOTHING about solving the toxic class division and divided economy of have’s & have-not’s it helped to create by allowing the corporate conglomerates to run amok during the first eight years of the 21st century.

Since then, GOP has done nothing but attempt to block every single attempt of the democrats and even moderate mainstream republicans to mitigate all of that damage and rebuild the jobs market and the middle class economy.

Do the Tea Party republicans really think that the rest of America doesn’t notice?
Maybe they think they’re invisible??  😉

2014 Predictions!!

It’s first day of 2014.  What better time to issue a whole new set of predictions than while everyone is looking around and trying to figure out what they should be doing today?  🙂

So here goes.  Considering the monumental changes are occurring in the USA today, let’s hit them:

1.  ObamacareAs of today, this law (with delayed exceptions for both employers as well as for people whose plans were terminated because they are now considered sub-standard) is now fully implemented.  This means that the for-profit health insurance companies can no longer deny coverage due to pre-existing conditions or because you happened to get sick.  For many Americans, it will be a vast improvement.  But it is far from ideal.  Republicans still think that they can squeeze control of the senate out of it during the 2014 midterm elections.                                                                   Prediction  Assuming that the democrats get their strategy right, they will advertise all the health improvements and all of the lives saved because of Obamacare.  They will use the refusal of the GOP to address the minimum wage, unemployment compensation, jobs programs, and immigration reform.  They will also concentrate on the $24 billion 2013 government shutdown caused by the lunatic ultra-right-wing tea party wing nuts.  And when the GOP talks about Obamacare problems, the democrats (if they are smart) will point out that none of those problems would have happened if there had been a public option or “medicare for all”.  🙂  That will severely incense the Tea Party, which will become even more extreme than they are now.  Despite how unpopular the polls say they are, they’ll entrench even further to the right.  Most Americans will simply not vote that far right.  The dems will maintain the senate and will even pick up seats in the House.

2.  Colorado, Washington, Portland, ME. & Pot:   As the eyes of the nation watch, these states and particularly Colorado start allowing marijuana to be legally sold, grown, smoked and possessed within these states.  It is regulated and taxed.  It cannot be used in public nor can it be legally taken out of state (uh huh……….  🙂             Prediction:  The economies of these state will soar far higher than their pot-smoking residents.  People all over America will be flocking into these states by air, sea, highway and rail to experience for themselves what it’s like to legally buy pot in a store.  The hotels, motels and restaurants in these states will swell with people and do a huge business.  All that tax money that was being spent tracking down, arresting and jailing pot users will now actually be spent arresting and jailing murderers, rapists, bank robbers and terrorists.  Additionally, massive amounts of money will pour in via taxes on pot, which people will gladly pay  in exchange for the ability to buy it in the open, free from fear of having to look over their shoulder or the fear of getting ripped off.  Other states will be watching and licking their chops at the revenue stream being created, much as when native American tribes began to open casinos years ago.  But of course, there will be those who will oppose any change to the status quo.  The drug cartels, the ultra-right, and the private prison contractors will hate it.  They will join together and mount huge, well funded campaigns against it in their states.  Everyone else will love, though.  🙂

3.  Climate change/global warming:  Data taken from Arctic and Antarctic ice cores demonstrate the climate record going back thousands of years.  Every reputable scientist in the world agrees that climate change is real and that human activity is, at a minimum, accelerating it.  Unfortunately, warnings issued over the past couple of decades have been largely ignored by large for-profit corporations.                                   Prediction:  In July 2014, for the first time in recorded history, the “northwest passage”, i.e. a navigable sea route from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean via the northeast and west across northernmost Canada, the northern Alaskan coast and then south through the Bering Strait separating Alaska and Russia, will open up as the last of the blocking Arctic ice sheet in the area melts away, revealing open ocean.  Numerous small islands along the way will become disputed between Russia, Canada and Alaska, due to the discovery of oi and fertile fishing areas.  Fishing fleets as well as numerous wealthy thrill-seeking ocean-going yacht owners will all be vying for the limited space in the passage before the onset of colder temperatures in the fall causes the now-seasonal refreezing of the blocking ice sheet over the winter.  Ultimately, relations between Canada, USA and Russia become hostile because of the multi-island dispute.  By year’s end there is talk of possible military occupations of the islands in question….after they thaw out in the spring of 2015.

In a new years eve radio broadcast on December 31, 2014, Rush Limbaugh again calls global warming the biggest hoax ever.  🙂