Search This Blog

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The gun nuts are coming out of the woodwork

Photo by Dave Parker
 There’s nothing I like better than debating with a bunch of gun fanatics. Some comments to The Dunning Letter posts on the subject are based on facts—no doubt delivered daily by the NRA to its members—but most are purely emotional and vindictive, attacking the writer who is genuinely interested in finding a way to keep killer weapons out of the hands of criminals. What I cannot abide is the fact that these devotees to the gun god won’t relinquish one drop of control.

David said “…your statement about gun shows is entirely false.” He goes on to say that the “gun show loophole” is a private sale, and is limited by law. Apparently the congressional investigation into this in July 2010 by Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA) didn’t have your information, David. The forum resulted from the brother of one of those shot in the Virginia Tech U. massacre walking into a Virginia gun show easily purchasing a glock handgun like the one used at Virginia Tech, plus several others without any background check.

And then there is the anonymous comment from one afraid to give his or her name, and with good reason since what is said makes little sense. The apparent point was that the Google search I did showed nothing in relation to Arizona shooting, with some other babble over film making and gang violence. I will let my normal readers decide by looking at the site, here, again, which shows page after page of Arizona shootings. I am sure you don’t have the slightest idea what you are commenting about.

Sean D Sorrentino—it’s rare you get a full name—thinks I should back away from my keyboard and get a grip on myself. OK Sean, I did, and came up with the fact that there are 300 million firearms in the U.S., of which 100 million are handguns. And since some states don’t require gun owners to register their firearms, these guns are not counted. In a 2007 report, the U.S. was the most armed country in the world with 90 guns per 100 people. Based on my point, and facts, about the gun show loophole, above, do we really need to chance this happening.

More answers to the gun lunacy tomorrow.


Monday, November 29, 2010

Arizona continues to lead the nation in putting more guns in the public’s hands

State Sen. Russell Pearce, who authored Arizona’s anti-immigration law, SB1070, stuck a provision in the bill that “pushes” local police departments to resell confiscated weapons to authorized gun dealers. Not satisfied that one Phoenix, Arizona suburb, Peoria, found a loophole in his law and passed a measure to continue destroying the weapons, a moonstruck Pearce now plans to “fix” that loophole in the next legislative session.

You would think that based on all the shootings I was able to Google, just in Arizona alone, some sanity might prevail and they would curtail all these insane gun laws that have been passed recently. In April of 2010, Arizona State Sen. Pearce once again authored, and Governor Jan Brewer readily signed, a bill allowing people to carry a concealed weapon without requiring a permit. Some fanatics never learn.

There are only two other states requiring the sale of confiscated weapons, Kentucky and Tennessee, both of which must have state governments almost as brainsick as Arizona’s. The NRA says why not sell these weapons to an authorized agent, and therein lies the problem. Gun show participants are authorized agents, and carry a loophole that would allow individual to individual weapons sales without background checks.

The Chaska, Minn. Police Chief doesn’t think that confiscated weapons should be recirculated in the market, as does the Peoria, Ariz. City Attorney. Peoria Police Chief, Larry Ratcliff, provides an illustration where weapons used in Las Vegas and Washington, D.C. crimes were traced to resales from Memphis, Tenn. Law enforcement. An Apache Junction, an Ariz. Police Captain commented, although they are not big “moneymakers,” you can make a “couple dollars” out of them.

Arizona is also known for supplying assault rifles to the Mexican drug cartels, although these sources scream vehemently that they aren’t aware they are going across the border. That kinda cinches the case for stronger gun laws doesn’t it?

Read earlier posts on gun control here.


Friday, November 26, 2010

Not sure she’s happy there, but do think she should stay there

Photo by DonkeyHoten
 Barbara Bush told Larry King on Monday night that Sarah Palin is beautiful, thought she was “very happy” in Alaska, and hopes she’ll stay there. I’m not sure she’s happy there, and am pretty sure she’d rather be cross-country. In a white house with a wrought iron fence on a street named Pennsylvania Avenue. With a cute little room to hold tea parties. And, of course a ballroom for dancing.

On the roof a telescope would be set up from which she could keep her eye on Russia. A special space would be set aside for Katie Couric interviews. A section of the Government Printing Office would be delegated to turn out more of the claptrap books she is now famous for. Finally, an American historian would be hired to try and keep Palin from making the stupid statements she has been known for in the past.

OK. Stop right there. This is getting bizarre. Barbara Bush did say the above, but the rest is my creation. Taken from this pathetic woman’s life since Arizona Senator John McCain made the fatal mistake of bringing her into the lime light as his vice presidential running mate, and then, thankfully, lost significantly to President Barack Obama in the 2008 election.

But it isn’t until the paltry Palin re-hashes Michelle Obama’s statement, "For the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country because it feels like hope is finally making a comeback," in her new book, that she reaches the bottom of the barrel. Richard Cohen’s OP-ED in The Washington Post is a “must read.” He calls Palin’s criticism of the first-lady’s comment “appalling” and shows her “ignorance of history.” He refers to the fact that Michelle’s ancestors were slaves, and how she was made aware of her “blackness” while attending Princeton University.

Palin never had to experience this kind of racial prejudice, a situation most whites will never be able to comprehend, while at the same time much of this country continues to hold an apartheid attitude in dealing with African Americans. I might expect this from the South—where, incidentally, I grew up—even though they have cleaned up there act somewhat.

But is it mere coincidence that 36 percent of the Tea Party members come from the South, and one was quoted as saying, “I’m a proud racist, I’m white.”


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Arizona Senator Jon Kyl just can’t give up earmarks

Photo by Mike Licht
It only took three days for Sen. Jon Kyl from Arizona to blow the ban on earmarks that even Sen. Mitch McConnell from Kentucky had agreed to. McConnell is one of the leading pork barrelers, having bragged in the past about the millions he had directed to Kentucky projects. His shift on the issue was one of the most decent things McConnell has done in the last two years.

This was all prompted by Tea Party influence, especially Sen. Jim DeMint from South Carolina who was instrumental in changing non-binding party rules to eliminate “congressionally directed spending.” That was all on November 15, the week in which Congress was supposed to take a vote on earmarks, but there is some doubt now it will pass. President Obama supports the ban and more, but even some from his own party are in dissension.

Earmarks are spending items inserted in other bills, most likely by a Senator, going to a specific state. Just three days after the GOP renounced earmarks, Sen. Jon Kyl landed $200 million that will settle an Arizona Indian tribe’s water rights claim against the government. Kyl inserted it in a larger bill supported by the President, and then insisted it isn’t an earmark.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said on the floor of the Senate, “I do know an earmark when I see it. And this, my friends, is an earmark.

Kyl supposedly recently joined with the thinking of the senior Senator from Arizona, John McCain, also a Republican, and a stringent foe of earmarks. The junior Senator was impressive during the recent Bush administration when he agreed with everything GWB said or did. At best, Kyl’s congressional accomplishments are limited, consisting for the most part bring back pork to Arizona. Apparently that’s what gets him reelected.

Read more here, here and here.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Should General Motors have been allowed to go belly up?

Photo by John Eisenschenk
The Tea Party thought so. Rick Perry, elected in the midterms to Texas Governor and potential TP presidential candidate in 2012 agrees. Perry is yet another fanatic from that group that wants to get rid of all government, including Social Security. Hopefully, those seniors over age 65 and drawing their SS will realize the stupidity in the backing of the Tea Party. Probably not, since much of this movement is based almost 100 percent on emotional involvement.

In a Newsweek article linked below, Perry poses with a rack of guns, which means he probably doesn’t plan to support gun control. As a matter of fact, the Tea Party has a radical agenda to overturn gun control laws, while its candidates seem to have soft-pedaled the issue during the recent elections. According to a UCLA Today article by constitutional law professor Adam Winkler, “They seek an extreme roll back of the nation’s gun laws.”

With GM in the process of one of the most touted IPOs in history, the government’s investment was a good one, which saved a company and the jobs held by thousands of its employees. Perry doesn’t believe this, nor does he think saving the banking system was a good idea. Most consumers are anti-banks today—and with good reason—but only a fool would think we should allow our entire financial structure to collapse.

The last Bush administration has shown just what will happen when you lift too many government controls and regulations. How many TPs lost their homes to foreclosure? How many TPs lost their jobs due to the collapse of the economy? How many TPs would suffer financially if they did away with Social Security and Medicare? Whatever these people have been told, I haven’t heard one valid solution for any of the above come from any part of the GOP, including the Tea Party.

Read more here and here.

Read UCLA Today article here.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Health insurance industry still fighting health care reform

Wendell Potter, former media relations director for CIGNA, has written an expose of the health insurance business and it isn’t at all favorable to the consumer. In his book, Deadly Spin, he points out that the industry is governed by corporations that care little for the patients, but are greedy for profits. Between 2000 and 2008, private insurers hiked premiums by over 90 percent but payouts to care providers were up by only 72 percent.

Profits of the five biggest health insurers totaled an astronomical figure of $12.2 billion in 2009, an increase of 56 percent from 2008, reports Potter from his position as a Fellow with Center for Media and Democracy.

Photo by Shannon Kringen
Potter says that we are the only industrialized nation that connects health insurance with the act of being employed. And because of a ridiculous maze of federal and state regulations, there exists a “central ideological conflict.” The only thing the liberals and conservatives can agree on is that there is something wrong. What’s wrong? The author states he is convinced that “…managed care companies are fundamentally dishonest.”

Potter’s Senate testimony in 2009 revealed how health insurance companies make promises that they do not plan to keep. They actually show contempt for regulations that are in place to protect consumers. And they cease doing business with small companies whose medical claims surpass underwriter expectancy. To overcome all these obstacles, the insurance companies employ high paid PR executives—like Potter was with CIGNA—to do the dirty work of lobbying.

Michael Moore’s film, Sicko, helped him to decide to leave CIGNA and launch his current attack to expose the health insurance business for what it is. A greed laden industry obsessed with profits over providing the services they tout in misleading advertising and promotion. Potter says he needs to apologize to Moore for the role he played in the insurance industry’s attack campaign on Sicko.

It should be obvious to all that conservatives agree with this avarice and by attempting to scuttle President Obama’s Health Care Reform, plan to continue their support.

Read more here and here.


Monday, November 22, 2010

It’s time to send Arizona Senator Jon Kyl to the home

Killer Kyl wants to arm this country to the hilt as he continues to live in the past of Cold War doctrines that do not apply anymore. He still thinks we have to scare everyone to death with a storehouse of nuclear weapons that is way beyond this country’s needs. It is estimated the U.S. currently has around 9,200 warheads, but our nuclear deterrent requires only about 500 to 1,000.

Photo by Evelyn Proimos
 Republicans see this as yet another blow to Obama which the GOP is using to weaken the President’s administration. What actually happened is that Kyl surprised Obama with his opposition to the New START nuclear weapons pact with Russia. Killer has done this before when he bushwhacked Clinton in 1999 over the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

 Apparently an out-of-touch Kyl hasn’t done his homework, as usual, when he talks about a treaty that takes from the U.S. more than it gives. The treaty says:
  • "Each Party shall not convert and shall not use ICBM [intercontinental ballistic missile] launchers and SLBM [submarine-launched ballistic missile] launchers for placement of missile defense interceptors therein. Each Party further shall not convert and shall not use launchers of missile defense interceptors for placement of ICBMs and SLBMs therein. This provision shall not apply to ICBM launchers that were converted prior to signature of this Treaty for placement of missile defense interceptors therein."
The Senator also jeopardizes the pending “123 agreement” with Russia, which establishes a 30-year guideline for nuclear commerce between the two countries. If Killer Kyl succeeds in stopping New START, it could make sense that Russia would reinitiate missile trade with Iran that it had terminated last month.

It would seem that bringing down President Obama’s administration is more important to the GOP than the secutity of the U.S. government, and it is time for congressional leaders like Jon Kyl to be turned out to pasture.

Read more here.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Please say it isn’t so

It was in West Virginia that she apparently made up her mind to seriously consider a run for the highest office in the land. In 2012. No doubt as a Tea Party Republican. Yes, pretty soon you could be seeing political ads that tout Sarah Palin for President of the United States. Has a certain ring, doesn’t it? The kind of mayday bells that should set off warnings for all informed and thinking Americans. Stop Palin now…before it’s too late!

Her exact quote was: “I’m engaged in the internal deliberations candidly, and having that discussion with my family, because my family is the most important consideration here.” Maybe we could get the family to convince her of the idiotiocy of this whole idea. Oh, I forgot, husbands and apples don’t fall far from the tree.

Palin talked about the lack of “meaningful differences” in policy between GOP candidates. Didn’t know she had any policies other than to espouse the Tea Party hogwash she seems to have attached herself to. And then she talked about proving her record, on which she would run. Does that record include how her opposition to Senator Lisa Murkowski probably helped the candidate to win her race in Palin’s home state?

My theory is most people listen to her for entertainment, much as the fans of Rush Limbaugh do. But like Limbaugh, it aint funny anymore, and any rerun on television is better entertainment. The Republicans are scared to death of a Palin run for the presidency, but the Democrats can hardly wait and are already licking their chops.

Read more here.


Know the enemy – Part 3

Apparently the question is not ‘is there racism in the Tea Party?’ but rather ‘just how racist is the group?’ Lee Fang on says there is “definitive proof” there is, and provides some examples you can see here. Maybe the TPs put that behind them, but there is more confirmation in a CBS News/New York Times study done in April of 2010. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it probably is a duck.

88 percent of Tea Partiers disapprove of President Obama’s performance, compared to 40 percent of Americans overall. 50 percent of all Americans approve of Obama’s job performance, while only 7 percent of the TPs think he is doing a good job. The latter were pinned down to why and of their own volition they actually made the following statement about why they held these views.

First and foremost, “they just don’t like him,” numbering 19 percent of the organization’s supporters. This is no edict on a person’s beliefs, but when you combine that with past racial epithets, a new question arises of ‘why almost a fifth of the Tea Party just doesn’t like Obama?’ Racism does still exist whether we like it or not, as evidenced by one Tea Party activist who said: “I’m a proud racist, I’m white.” 36 percent of the TPs come from the South.

Fortunately, we are saved by an American public that doesn’t agree with the TPs. 84 percent of the group’s supporters claim the views of the Tea Party are shared by most Americans. When asked only 25 percent of the latter agree…not necessarily what most would consider sincere support for this aggregation of reactionaries.

If it is a racist disapproval that moves Tea Party supporters, and only they really know that, it is time for progressives to stand up and be known that they are still fighting for the rights of all Americans.

Read more here and here.

Read earlier posts on the Tea Party here.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Know the enemy - Part 2

Sarah Palin, a Tea Party favorite, said it is revolution time. Apparently the TPs took that literally, resulting in the Tea Party endorsing violence against the U.S. government; 24 percent of all Tea Partiers, 32 percent of the more radical activists think it is justified. When you combine that with the fact that 58 percent have a gun at home, the concept becomes scary. I researched, but couldn’t find, how many TPs are NRA members.

Tea Party activists are the angriest and most pessimistic about the country and President Obama. 72 percent of this gang are angry with Washington and 96 percent disapprove of the job Obama is doing. 55 percent think the income tax we pay is not fair, but only 44 percent hold a favorable opinion of the Republican Party. 77 percent like Glenn Beck and 75 percent like Sarah Palin. And 50 percent of these wackos think Palin is qualified to be President.

63 percent of all TPs get their political news from Fox News, 77 percent of the activists, which could explain where they were derailed in the first place. It also explains how 75 percent are conservative with 39 percent very conservative. 66 percent always or usually vote with the GOP, and an even more-scarier statement that the U.S. needs a third party. Maybe Beck and Palin are planning to run as Tea Party candidates.

The TPs are angry about health care reform, lack of representation in government, government spending, and unemployment and the economy. 92 percent of them feel America is on the wrong track, compared with only 59 percent of the overall population. Half of all Americans approve of President Obama’s job, compared to just 7 percent of Tea Party supporters.

NEXT: How racist is the Tea Party?

Read more here and here.

Read earlier posts on the Tea Party here.


Know the enemy

Photo by Peppercorn pixie's
 Chinese general and author Sun Tzu, born in 544 BC said: “Know your enemy and know yourself and you can fight a hundred battles without disaster.” Progressives today are faced with unethical, sometimes illegal tactics from Republican conservatives, particularly the Tea Party movement. Since this group is so new on the scene, The Dunning Letter will document some of their demographics, while exposing their extreme beliefs. Hang on. This may take a while.

CBS News and the New York Times surveyed 1,580 adults, more than half of which were self-identified Tea Party supporters. A summary of the results started with: “They're white. They're older. And they're angry.” 89 percent are white, 75 percent are age 45+ with 29 percent 65+. Their political dogma comes later, but in the meantime more profiling of just what these reactionaries look like.

They are from the South, 36 percent, the West, 25 percent, the Midwest 22 percent and the northeast 18 percent. Apparently voters become more mentally sound as they move north and east. Supposedly they are better educated, but a college philosophy teacher once told the class, “You can educate most individuals but you can’t teach them to think for themselves.” 56 percent earn more than $50,000 annually.

41 percent are female, 59 percent male, 39 percent Evangelical Christians, 61 percent Protestant and 22 percent Catholic. Some 38 percent attend weekly religious services. It wasn’t too long ago that progressives had to contend with the sometimes fanatical actions of the religious right, and then Jerry Falwell died in 2007 and the movement seemed to weaken. Tea Partiers could be a rebirthing.

NEXT: Is revolution on the horizon?

Read more here and here.

Read earlier posts on the Tea Party here.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

You know you’ve done a bad job when voters go through the back door

Since many midterm voters were voting against President Obama and his administration, they weren’t necessarily voting for the opposing candidate. It would be interesting for one of the research organizations to officially poll just how many were protest votes. I call that going through the back door, since you didn’t really vote for something, you voted against something.

Photo by Serge Malki
 The question: Is this politically sound when the result is placing an individual in one of the highest offices in the land, one who will be running our country? The next two years will tell.

A guilt-by-association theme became evident in exit polls that were conducted during the elections. Although not a scientific measurement, 40 percent of exit interviews stated their purpose in voting was to snub Obama. Animosity did carry over for Senate leader Harry Reid of Nevada and current House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi.

Another question arises of just how much of this anger against Democrats was a result of GOP mud-slinging? Everyone is sick of it but many are also swayed by the negative advertising, according to the experts. Although pathetic, it is human nature. What we need is a national drive to encourage the public to think for itself, not be driven by hate campaigns.

Read more here.

Read earlier post on the midterms here.


The hush before the storm

A lame-duck Congress can be a do-nothing group or the Democrats could surprise everyone, including themselves, and get some important things done before the end of the year. Because, come January 1, 2011, the GOP swoops in to take over the House, and the Senate is hobbled with its less than 60 majority mandate. They could turn the almost seven weeks left into something more than mediocrity.

The Bush tax cuts must be handled, and there are several proposals on the table for negotiation. This issue alone will no doubt strike a cord for just how much cooperation we can expect between Democrats and Republicans in the next two years. There’s the Medicare reimbursement cut for doctors that legislators had better consider carefully for the sake of future health care for Seniors.  For Hispanics, the Dream Act.

A $250 one-time payment is being looked at for Social Security recipients to offset no cost-of-living increase next year, unemployment benefits need to be extended, and action is needed to stop earmarks for good, especially now with Rep. Mitch McConnell’s support. There are several other issues that the Dems could run up the flagpole, but the key is how the outgoing lawmakers handle this session, and just how they lay the groundwork for January 1.

Is it possible that Congress could amaze us and turn a hush into competent productiveness?

Read more here and here.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Democrats need to fight and here’s why

Sure, they’re discouraged, feeling like they have been hung out to dry by a fickle and uninformed public. The midterms shouldn’t have been a huge surprise; although it is obvious the Dems thought they “might” be saved at the last minute by Hispanics, Blacks, and the youth vote. It didn’t happen, at least in most of the country. Where something did happen was in California where Latinos put a Democrat in the Governor’s chair and reelected another Dem to the Senate.

So now in a lame-duck Congress, the left has to prevail, at least in two issues. One, they mustn’t allow the repeal of the Health Care Reform Act. A majority of Americans agree with this, and the GOP had better take notice. Since John Boehner, the new Republican House Speaker-to-be, has said it is his priority to repeal this law, the Democrats must stand together in strong opposition to Boehner.

The second is the GOP push to make the tax cuts permanent for the wealthy. It should be pointed out to the public, particularly those who aren’t millionaires, that this move will increase the deficit by $700 billion, and why do such deficit-conscious Republicans want to put this country in that kind of position. I personally believe there is room to move the identification of “the wealthy” from the current $250,000+ figure to perhaps $1 million.

Eugene Robinson in The Washington Post said it is time for President Obama to stand his ground, and quit taking crap [my word] from the bullies. Right on!

Read more here.

Read earlier posts on Health Care Reform here, and tax breaks for the wealthy here.


Does Karl Rove eat at McDonald’s?

Photo by Consumerist
 Fast-food is known to be a favorite of some politicians, like former President Bill Clinton who frequented McDonalds’s. But Karl Rove is a snake of another color, and his tactics were used recently in a restaurant in this famous chain in Canton, Ohio. Wait, this is also the state that House Speaker-to-be John Boehner represents. Well, anyway, it turns out the employees from this McDonald’s were “urged” to vote for the Republican candidates for governor, Senate and Congress.

There was actual coercion involved when it was pointed out to the workers that this could affect their pay and benefits. They were told: “If the right people are elected, we will be able to continue with raises and benefits at or above the current levels. If others are elected, we will not.” That’s not coercion, that’s a threat. McDonald’s corporate called the incident an unfortunate “lapse in judgment” on the part of the owner.

The president of the Canton City Council, Allen Schulman, a Democrat and also a lawyer, says the act violates Ohio law. Very Rovian. It is bad enough that the Supreme Court has allowed business to contribute to political campaigns anonymously, using malicious, negative attack ads, primarily against Democrats. Now we have to worry about unethical business owners politically threatening their employees.


Read more here.

See earlier posts 0n Karl Rove tactics here.


Monday, November 15, 2010

How many divas does the Republican Party need?

A prima donna, or diva, is described as “a person who takes adulation and privileged treatment as a right and reacts with petulance to criticism or inconvenience.” Some famous divas have included Madonna, Britney Spears, and Paris Hilton. But none of these or any others in the past can compare with the elephant the GOP has in the room that refuses to go away. Sarah Palin. Early on in the midterms, she identified the adoration by Tea Partyers, and rode that momentum to success.

All is not rosy, however, as one Alabama Republican stated that “Sarah Palin cost us control of the Senate,” referring to Delaware and Nevada election results. This didn’t even slow Palin down as she quickly signed up to do a docu/reality show, “Palin’s Alaska.” The show is already being questioned for having a hidden agenda to lay the foundation for a presidential bid in 2012.

Geez! Her daughter, Bristol, couldn’t even stop dancing long enough to vote in the midterms.

In a Washington Post article by Kathleen Parker, another word being used to describe Palin by the GOP is “dangerous.” That pretty much says it all, and I am sure President Obama could not find any other opponent he would rather run against in 2012. But the key to Palin’s success could be the outcome of Tea Party recruitment in the next two years. In checking the Internet, I found hundreds of sites announcing recruitment drives in states throughout the country.

When will this madness end?

Read more here.

See earlier post on Sarah Palin here.


New House Speaker-to-be completely detached from reality

Either the media in Ohio where John Boehner is from is dropping the ball, or the man has just elected to secede from an authenticated world. Me thinks it is the latter. He called the American health care system the best in the world. Richard Cohen in The Washington Post, went to the “CIA World Factbook” to discredit Boehner’s statement.

To begin with, the United States is 49th in life expectancy, trailing Japan, France, Spain and Great Britain. And that’s just for starters. In infant mortality we are better off than Africa, but lag behind Cuba, Italy, Hungary, Greece, Canada, Portugal, the U.K., Australia and Israel. Either Boehner has a lousy research team, or he just chooses to ignore facts and go with the typical Republican strategy of “scare tactics.” Me thinks it is the latter.

If you make these stupid statements enough times, the population eventually begins to believe your lies. Unfortunately, America’s health care system comes in first only when you consider health-related bankruptcies.

There are 51 million in the U.S. without health insurance. John Boehner would have these families, including the babies who will never make it to their first birthday, hang around and wait for a GOP that is full of road blocks to President Obama’s policies, but completely devoid of how to tackle any of the major problems that face this country.

Read more here.

Read earlier posts on health care reform here.


Friday, November 12, 2010

Get off Pelosi's back!

While President Obama has recently been somewhat mute on achievements of the Democrats, current House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, has been targeted by many, including those in her own party, as the "fall guy" for their problems.  This would include the economy, and related issues like unemployment.  No one gives her credit for pushing for more stimulus money, which many say could have created more jobs by now.  The White House said no.

Instead of concentrating on joblessness, Obama and the Senate went all out for health-care reform, while Pelosi in the House passed several jobs bills that didn't make it out of the Senate.  The Speaker was busy all this time and was instrumental in passing the President's health-care reform, financial reform and cap-and-trade bills.  She also serves as a major force in combating GOP efforts to undermine Social Security and medicaid.  Nancy sticks up for the little guy and gal, and Democrats should stick up for Nancy.

Read more here.

Medical records: A treasure chest for identity thieves

AARP is re-reminding all seniors that even more precious than your financial records are you medical data, which are a goldmine for the ID crooks. The younger generation should also take notice since there is no prejudice when it comes to stealing identities. The records are either heisted by someone who needs medical treatment they are unable to pay for, or the bad guys who steal it to sell on the underground Internet market. Either way it can be deadly, literally.

As an example, someone has surgery with special needs like insulin, uses your medical ID without your knowing. Later you go in for surgery and in an emergency you are given insulin based on the thief’s records. Could be deadly. According to research, medical identity theft has more than doubled since 2008. One sure way to prevent disaster is to check your medical insurance reports just like you would your financial records for fraud.

Read more here.

Read past posts on the subject from The Dunning Letter.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Uninsured v. Insured: The huge difference Health Care Reform means

New and old House republicans say they are committed to creating jobs, but they want to deny those Americans currently out of work medical assistance by repealing the Health Care Act of 2010. More than 61 percent of the uninsured have no more than a high school education, thus, not likely to find a job with benefits. Some 40 percent of uninsured have family incomes below the federal poverty level of $22,050. The plaintiffs make their case as follows.

The new health care law will provide incentives for employers to offer coverage to low-income workers. Young adults are the highest uninsured, but could remain under their parent’s plan to age 26. Over half of uninsured adults have no access to medical care, delaying conditions needing attention that develop into serious health problems. The law also prevents insurers from rejecting individuals or raising premiums due to pre-existing conditions.

Since the bulk of the new health care reform bill doesn’t go into effect until 2014, these are only a few of the items that will make a difference.

Read more in an excellent report from the Kaiser Commission here.

Republican John Boehner wants to blow off millions without health insurance

There are almost 59 million Americans that do not have health insurance coverage, according to Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Rep. John Boehner from Ohio, the new Republican Speaker of the House says, who cares, let’s repeal healthcare reform now. Let these adults, and their kids, do the best they can, and if some of them suffer serious illness, or die, they are simply a victim of the system.

Plans by the GOP include thwarting the new law by eliminating the funds for it. The CDC says there were 4 million more that lost their health coverage in the first half of 2010. The survey by the agency was huge interviewing just under 90,000 individuals from about 35,000 households ages 18 to 64. These are hard facts and anyone who can’t sympathize with this kind of situation is completely devoid of empathy.

NEXT: Just how much difference health insurance makes to the family

Read more here.

Marginal voters likely deserted the Democrats in November

Photo by DB King
 Marginal voters include those who hardly ever vote and those who are voting for the first time. These folks helped to award the Democrats 21 House seats and 8 Senate seats in 2008. They stayed home in 2010, according to a pre-election projection by American University’s Center for the Study of the American Electorate. Participation in a history-making election was just as important in 2010 as 2008 when Barack Obama was elected President. Just for the other side.

Turnout in the 2006 midterms was 40 percent, with a small improvement in 2010 to 41.5 percent. What’s worse, the most marginal of the marginals are the ages of 18 to 24 who voted 2 to 1 for Obama. Between 22 and 24 million in that age range voted in 2008, but normally seem to lose interest in the midterms. Who knows what actually happened but along with losing the younger vote, plus Hispanics and gays, apparently the Dems didn’t have a chance.

Read more here, here and here.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Deepwater Horizon type incidents likely to increase under Republican control

Photo byUSCGLantAreaPA
It is a fact that that Halliburton knew weeks before the explosion that killed 11 workers that the cement mixture being used to seal the well was not stable. But they used it just the same in the Deepwater Horizon Gulf oil spill. This was confirmed by a presidential commission investigating the accident. There have also been several House and cabinet level investigations launched.

Time will tell but at least the foundation has been laid to find the faulty party(s). That is…until January when the GOP takes over the House, and this body reverts to its philosophy that big business can do no wrong. Especially a company like Halliburton once run by former Vice President Dick Cheney, which was also part of a defense scandal during the Bush administration.

It is even harder to imagine what could happen if Republicans take over the Senate and White House in 2012.

Read more here.

Someone should talk about the good the Democrats have done…They are

Froma Harrop of the Providence Journal reports in a Rodney Dangerfield sort of way, “Democrats don’t get no respect.” But there’s a reason. They didn’t have the courage in the midterms to appreciate what their party had done for the country. Like leading us out of sure economic disaster. Or making healthcare available to ordinary Americans. Or saving General Motors from going down the tube.

It’s a fact that Republicans, with the help of a few Democrats, deregulated Wall Street to the point that it almost put this country in the tank. In addition to coming to the rescue of the uninsured, Healthcare Reform will help improve employers’ medical costs, and make them more competitive with foreign firms.

This ultra right-wing and Tea Party nonsense of touting absolutely no government is getting old. How many of them have Medicare and are on Social Security? Would they give either up? I think not.

Read more here.

What’s wrong with a little “hyper-liberalism”?

I am not exactly sure just what he means by the term, “hyper-liberalism” in his recent piece in The Washington Post, but Charles Krauthammer does make it clear that President Obama’s two-year experiment in it didn’t work. Proof of that was the scathing defeat taken by progressives and the Democratic Party in the 2010 midterm election. It is not clear to me if the vote was actually against the legislation, or just Obama and liberalism in general.

As an example, one of the policies in contention is Cap and Trade, which places a mandatory cap on emissions to help the environment. Another, the Health Care Reform bill that many experts agree has promise, probably needing fine tuning, but despised by the GOP. These are some of the things progressives and liberals do, for the good of others and the world. Krauthammer quotes someone as saying, “…this wasn’t an election so much as a restraining order.”

Isn’t that just what Republicans have been doing the entire two years of the Obama administration?

Read more here.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Rush Limbaugh should take his act to Hollywood

Photo by Belltown Messenger
 Imagine my surprise when strolling down the Walk of Fame on Hollywood Blvd., I spied a star with Rush Limbaugh’s name on it. Well, it was pretty far down the street from all the important celebrities, and it was laid somewhat crooked in the sidewalk. But it was there. My hero, in all his glory finally being recognized for what he is, an entertainer, and not a very good one at that. This is satire, of course…and tragic.

Newsweek did a piece recently about Limbaugh that should scare any sane and informed American to death. In it, this maniac even dreams of replacing William F. Buckley, a conservative I had a great deal of respect for, in right wing thinking. That’s like comparing a moron to a genius, and believing you have a match. But you can’t argue with his audience of between 15 and 20 million.

What you can question is whether they really believe him, or just turn on their radio for a good old-fashioned laugh. Like the old “Jack Benny Show.” But, oh no, that really was entertainment.

Read more here.

Running numbers on the midterms

Harold Myerson of The Washington Post did an interesting take on the November elections using certain numbers to define results. It’s his way of explaining what happened. As an example, “zero” is for the number of newly elected Republican senators in competitive races who got the 18 to 29 age vote. “One” represents the number of white democrats in the next Congress from the Deep South.

Here’s an interesting one, “twenty-two,” the percentage of Hispanic voters in California compared to 18 percent in 2008. This overwhelmingly carried Democrats like Governor-elect Jerry Brown, and Senator Barbara Boxer to victory. It points out what could have been for Democratic candidates in other states with a heavy Latino population like Arizona. It also illustrates that the Sunshine State is more advanced in their political thinking than most other states.

There are more “number” comparisons you can read about here.

How do U.S. drug costs compare with other forms of universal health care?

Photo by Fibonacci Blue
Our neighbor to the north is the best example, and the comparison is very unfavorable when it comes to U.S. citizens. In Canada, the per capita spending on drugs is $509, in contrast with $728 in this country. Drug prices in Canada average from 35 percent to 45 percent lower than here, which has prompted Americans to spend around $1 billion per year north of the border. One of the reasons is a system of centralized buying that controls costs. The GOP has made sure so far that this doesn’t happen here.

In conversations with two Canadian families that have recently left that country to resettle in the U.S., I hear nothing but admiration for their form of socialized medicine. They agree it is not perfect, but it does exceed U.S. health care in both costs and full coverage of its citizens. Also, the Canadian Patented Medicine Prices Review Board has the authority to set fair and reasonable prices on patented drugs.

Our new health care law does provide saving for seniors in dealing with the “doughnut hole, which could translate to all citizens in the long term. Of course, if you are flush and don’t worry about the costs of your medications, or you don’t really care if your fellow Americans have medical coverage, go ahead and bash President Obama’s health care reform.

Read more here.

Read earlier posts, “Drug makers desert public over profits 1 and 2.”

Monday, November 08, 2010

This is what you heard but probably didn’t understand re. the midterms

Photo by Lord Jim
Thanks to the Supreme Court, there was a frenzy of spending by outside Republican and Democrat special interest groups with their source of income the right-leaning large corporations. It was highly organized with one of its chief coordinators on the GOP side Karl Rove and his organizations American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS. Republican groups outspent the Democrats by $54 million for a total of $245 million.

Since the GOP are the masters of attack ads, compliments of old crafty Karl, and because of their outspending the Dems, the focus here is on their groups. Rove’s Crossroads spent over $38 million, followed by the Chamber of Commerce, $31 million. The American Action Network, chaired by the infamous Fred Malek, another questionable conservative, spent $14 million. All this on attack ads.

In all likelihood this election was decided by smear tactics incorporated into negative campaigning, and it is entirely possible that many voters made their decision based on not the issues, but an antagonistic response to the repugnant ads. It was so effective, that plans are afoot to use these same methods by the same groups for the 2012 Presidential election. It is a political system completely out of hand.

Read more here.

Voter intimidation in Wisconsin. By Republicans, who else?

The Center for Media and Democracy is reporting a plan uncovered by the group, One Wisconsin Now, accusing the Wisconsin Republican Party, Americans for Prosperity and the Tea Party for suppressing votes in the 2010 midterms. The charge stems from the discovery of right-wing groups training “election observers” to challenge people suspected of fraudulent voting.

These groups also mailed into “communities of color” to try and determine ineligible voters through undeliverable mail. In most cases the undelivered mail was due to wrong or lack of an apartment number, or the person had simply moved.

Photo by Dutchlad

Wisconsin’s body overseeing elections cried there was nothing illicit going on, and those making the charges were simply delusional about minorities voting more than once. And it was also found that right-wing assertions over fraudulent votes in Minnesota’s last Senate race were grossly exaggerated, as well as in Wisconsin’s 2004 elections. Karl Rove politics on the go.

Read more here.

The fight ahead for progressives – Part 3

Photo by DanPerry
In additional midterm history, 1978 saw the Democrats retain control of Congress, but Jimmy Carter’s Panama Canal Treaties ended up defeating some Dems in the election. It also spawned the young republicans from the South espousing confrontation rather than compromise. In the same year California Governor Jerry Brown boldly opposed Prop. 13, which capped local property taxes, requiring a two-thirds majority in the legislature to raise state taxes.

When Prop. 13 passed with 65 percent of the vote, Brown promptly turned into a crusader for tax cuts. Now that’s compromise.

Photo by DBKing
But in 1994 the GOP did take over the House and Senate after a Dem monopoly for all but 6 years since 1954. And these were dedicated right-siders that were responsible for implementing the conservative revolution on Capitol Hill. Enter Bill Clinton on the concession express announcing that big government was over. One of the big questions before the 2010 November elections was whether they would be a 1994 or 1946, when Dewey didn’t beat Truman. Now we know.

Read more here.

Friday, November 05, 2010

The fight ahead for progressives - Part 2

George Santayana, a philosopher from Madrid, Spain, said: “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” The progressive movement has a lot to learn from the past ten years, and even before. In 1946 Republicans also took over the House with a screaming crusade that Democrats were soft on communism. This jolt moved Harry Truman to the right on national-security issues.

In 1966 the midterms brought Lyndon Johnson’s efforts to build a Great Society to an end. The GOP then had the Vietnam War, inflation and race relations to work with. A Republican coalition was emerging that would continue easily into the Nixon administration. Although “Tricky Dick” subscribed to the GOP’s fiscal responsibility, he did accept that there was a need for government's expanded role and accepted the basic need for a welfare state.

At least there was compromise…something that is missing in the recent behavior of Republicans, particularly the intolerance of the Tea Party and the religious right. Santayana also said: “Fanaticism consists in redoubling your efforts when you have forgotten your aim.”

Read more here.

More to come.

The fight ahead for progressives

President Obama told the Democrats not to be apathetic. They were. If Republicans do win, the next two years will be fraught with the same nonsense the GOP has been pushing for the last ten years. They won. And it won’t be an easy battle, as evidenced from the history of midterm elections for the last one-hundred years. There are already signs of this from the mouths of John Boehner and Mitch McConnell.

In 1938, even after his landslide reelection victory in 1936, FDR suffered a setback after overestimating his persuasive powers when attempting a “court packing” scheme that even Democrats opposed. He was going for a “Third New Deal" when the economy took a big downturn, while at the same time he was unsuccessfully trying to purge conservative Democrats from his party who were fighting his policies.

While Obama hasn’t taken the latter approach yet, the Democratic Party did desert many of its own in the midterms when it was obvious they couldn’t win.

Read more here.

More history to come.

Mitch McConnell leads GOP “bickering as usual” drive

No doubt McConnell is ticked off since Senator Harry Reid of Nevada won his election, as did other Democratic Senate candidates to keep control of that body. McConnell must have been dreaming of becoming the next Senate Majority leader so he could cause more congressional gridlock for the Democrats. It is the continuation of this style of politics that voters on Tuesday saddled this country with.

Boondoggling Boehner’s top priority was to repeal Obama’s Health Care Reform. The misguided McConnell’s top priority is to repeal President Obama, in 2012. The latter is just further indication of a Republican electorate that has no idea how to address the major issues of this country…other than oppose everything the President does, including the man himself. McConnell is even counting on the 23 Democrats up for reelection in 2012 to support him.

Progressives have never had a better opportunity to prove their ideology than in the next two years.

Read more here.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

NRA makes it impossible to trace gun ownership effectively – Part 3

Mexican Border
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives says the difficult task of manually tracing guns has slowed the process in this country as well as Mexico. The ATF confirms that most of the weapons seized south of the border come from U.S. gun dealers. Traces are most helpful within the first few days but due to the hand-operated system they are stuck with, it takes an average of two weeks.

To further compound matters, in thirty-eight years, the ATF has not added a single agent. It had 2,500 in 1972 and it has 2,500 today. Since that same early date, the FBI went from 8,700 agents to 13,000, the DEA from 1,500 to 5,000, and U.S. Marshals from 1,900 to 3,300. The ATF has only 600 inspectors to cover more than 115,000 gun retailers, or one for each 191 dealers. A former agent said “It is easier to close a restaurant kitchen than a gun store.”

There is something wrong with this reasoning and it is spelled NRA.

Read more here.

NRA makes it impossible to trace gun ownership effectively – Part 2

The National Rifle Assn.’s 4 million members say the ATF should concentrate on prosecuting the bad guys and not harassing gun dealers and owners. Poor babies. This results from the fact that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives simply wants to create a computer database of gun owners for quick tracing in a crime.

Chris Cox of the NRA makes the brilliant statement: “The only reason to register products is either to tax ‘em or to take ‘em.” It couldn’t possibly be to trace a gun to an owner who has committed a crime, even murder. Of course not, says the NRA. [my words]

Gun dealers are forced to report to the ATF within five business days when more than one handgun is purchased. The NRA has been successful in fighting this same ruling for rifles and shotguns, which includes automatic rifles like AK-47s. Just one more reason so many of these weapons move out of U.S. gun stores into Mexico to support drug cartel warfare.

John C. Frazier of the NRA comes up with yet another dazzling statement: “[AK-47s are] less likely to be used in crime.”

Read more here.

More to come.

NRA makes it impossible to trace gun ownership effectively

The only place in this country authorized to trace gun sales is The National Tracing Center in Martinsburg, W. Virginia. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives works frantically in an environment that doesn’t have to be. They are doing it by hand, searching through thousands of pieces of paper and an equal number of phone calls. And why don’t they have the computer technology of the day like DNA techniques and digital fingerprinting?

The National Rifle Assn. lobby.

The NRA’s lobbying efforts have resulted in the government being prohibited from putting gun ownership records into an accessible database. The NRA and their gun totin’ bubbas are afraid of any type of registration, which they fear could lead to confiscation. If they have the damn guns legally, why are they so afraid the government will take them away? The ATF is supposed to regulate the gun industry, but many within this bureau say it is the other way around.

Read more here.

More to come.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

The people have given a mandate

The mandate is not so much a vote for the Republicans…rather a vote against the Democrats. But it is a vote for the President and Congress to fix this country, and stop the partisan bickering that has gone on for the last ten years. That includes Democrats, as well as the GOP. The first thing every new, and old, member of Congress should do is poll his constituency to see what they really think about the major issues in front of this country.

To name a few, they are taxes, the economy, jobs, health care, Social Security, Medicare, the housing market, immigration reform and the environment. I am not convinced this mandate has drawn clear lines on where the public stands on these issues. As an example, new anticipated Speaker of the House, Republican blowhard John Boehner, comes out today with the statement that Obama’s health care reform is a “monstrosity.” He plans to repeal it.

In an October poll, 42 percent of Americans expressed a favorable view of the plan; 44 percent against.

It would appear the practice of offing anything President Obama does will continue. Since the GOP is held in lower esteem that the Democrats in another recent poll, Boehner and his conservative cronies should watch their step.

Midterm political distortions of the facts - Part 2

More from as compiled by Newsweek.

Taxes – Republicans said Democrats are going to assess a “huge” tax increase on the “typical family” or small-business owners. Pathetic Palin calls it the largest in U.S. history. In fact, the Dems would let some of the 2001 and 2003 tax cut expire—those for the rich—and only 3 percent of small business would show an increase.

The Stimulus – The GOP widely claims the economic stimulus has failed to create jobs. In fact, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the stimulus added or retained from1.4 million to 3.3 million people on payrolls.

Outside Group Contributions – These groups are funded by undisclosed sources, including corporations, primarily attacking Democrats. The ads, thanks to a business-prone Supreme Court, are often misleading, some of which are covered in the Newsweek article.

And the king of GOP misinformation, Karl Rove, is a part of one of the largest of these purveyors of trash falsely that claimed labor unions weren’t disclosing the millions they were spending. The truth is, the money comes from dues and most everyone knows it. Indicating business as usual no matter the outcome of the election.

Read more here.

Midterm political distortions of the facts

How wrong can you be?
 If you haven’t visited, you should, if only to experience the wide array of subjects covered on this site. Their 2010 FactCheck Awards were published today and the political ads they cover are a cross between the bizarre and the ridiculous. From the use of dog excrement to make a point, to the Alabama Tea Party hillbilly candidate that clearly doesn’t know his Tea Party history. They are worth an after-election laugh or two.

At the same time, Newsweek did an excellent article on midterm “misstatements” that is a must-read. One of their quotes is that, due to undisclosed, unaccountable sources of campaign financing from corporations, “…the amount of deceit in political advertising is at least as high as we’ve ever seen.”

Health Care – Misrepresentations by Republicans on this issue have been common throughout the campaign with false claims like: Medicare patients would lose their doctors, or that the Dems favored giving Viagra to sex offenders, or Seniors would lose some of their benefits.

Social Security – Democrats in certain states claim that Republicans want to abolish or “privatize” Social Security. Mostly a serious overstatement since what the GOP has really said was to allow younger workers to invest a portion of their payroll tax in the stock market.

Read the Newsweek article here.

More to come.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010



                        Where do I vote?

Is today’s election a repeat of the Truman/Dewey fiasco of 1948? Part 3

Truman was able to take advantage of a Dewey gaffe in Illinois, when the train he was speaking from the back of started backing up. Although no one was injured, Dewey said the engineer “should probably be shot at sunrise…” Truman’s retort, “He doesn’t mention that under that great engineer, Hoover, we backed up into the worst depression in history.” Things like this, plus the connections made in his 31,000 mile train trip, helped him gain the following of the people.

A milestone in the 1948 election was the first-ever televised Republican Convention. This exposed the pollsters to a national, even international, audience of viewers who were eager and gullible for the numbers. The Truman upset prompted organizations like Gallup, Roper and others to search for what went wrong. The media had relied almost entirely on the polls which turned out to be their downfall. The legend of “Give ‘Em Hell Harry!” was born.

Read more here.


Is today’s election a repeat of the Truman/Dewey fiasco of 1948? Part 2

In the 1948 election, The New York Times also made the statement: “The Democratic Party might as well immediately concede the election to Dewey and save the wear and tear of campaigning.” At the time, a Gallup poll reported that Truman had only a 36 percent support of the people. It seems the nation was frustrated with taxes and the rising cost of living. The Republican prospects seemed excellent.

Another setback for Democrats in the 1948 election was the emergence of the Progressive Party which really appealed to liberals. They were critical of Truman for not doing enough on his domestic agenda, and didn’t like him standing up to the Soviet Union. Thomas E. Dewey, smelling victory, proceeded with a subdued campaign. Truman, assuming he had nothing to lose, embarked on a 31,000-mile train trip across the U.S.

Read more here.

More to come.

Is today’s election a repeat of the Truman/Dewey fiasco of 1948?

In November of 1948, The New York Times emblazoned the headline: “Thomas E. Dewey’s Election as President is a Foregone Conclusion.” On November 1, 2010, Newsweek gives Democratic candidates a manual to know when to fold ‘em. If this looks like a reasonable similarity, there is more. President Harry Truman, at the time, was running his campaign against the Eightieth Congress, rather than Dewey.

Truman had also proposed a very unpopular bill—even with his own party—that would guarantee the rights of Blacks. This caused a clash in the Democratic Party resulting in a split that led to the forming of the Dixiecrats. During the convention, all Mississippi delegates, half of Alabama, for a total 35 walked out. They in turn ran their own candidate, South Carolina Senator, Strom Thurmond, for President.

The odds against Truman could not have been worse.

Read more here.

More to come.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Tired of Obama bashing? Here are answers for the hate-mongers – Part 9

This is a special post on Obama Bashing from The Dunning Letter and will appear daily until the November 2 elections

Photo by John Thompson

President Obama would say…GO VOTE TOMORROW. Sure, he hopes you will vote for Democrats, but so does The Dunning Letter, and lots of others who are scared to death of returning to the George W. Bush policies of before plus other fanatics like Tea Party candidates. But you must vote, because if you don’t, you do not have the right to complain when the conservative Republicans drag us back into the same ditch we are just now beginning to emerge from.

So put all of your concerns over the state of the nation today on hold just long enough to GO OUT AND VOTE tomorrow for the state of the nation you want in the next two to six years.

Tired of Obama bashing? Here are answers for the hate-mongers – Part 8

This is a special post on Obama Bashing from The Dunning Letter and will appear daily until the November 2 elections

Photo by Jurvetson
 Israeli Relations - President Obama renewed loan guarantees for Israel.
Infrastructure rebuilding – Increased infrastructure spending on roads, bridges, power plants; former Bush administration first since Herbert Hoover to make this a priority.
Wall Street Reform Bill – Obama signed the historic Wall Street reform bill to regulate the industry and provide consumer protections.
Environment – Ended Bush-era policy of not regulating and labeling carbon dioxide emissions.
Travel – Signed order to limit delays on airport tarmacs including the time passengers must sit in the planes during those delays.

Comments are welcome.