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Two Weeks After Election, Republican Focus Remains On Everything But Jobs & Economy

It has been two weeks since Republicans made significant  gains across the country on Election Day.

The focus of the election was jobs and the economy. 56% of folks in a recent CBS News poll say the most important issue for the new Congress is jobs and the economy.

Yet as millions of Americans still deal with unemployment and underemployment, the Republican focus is on everything but jobs and the economy. Where incoming Republican governors have addressed jobs, it is to kill jobs by refusing already approved federal dollars for high-speed rail infrastructure projects.

Examples—

* Republicans in control of the House of Representatives are planning nearly 300 investigations of President Obama. The last time a Republican House went after a Democratic President, it led to a destructive impeachment process. What excesses will we see this time?

* Newly-elected Republican Governors are killing high-speed rail projects that will create jobs. In Wisconsin, soon-to-be Governor  Scott Walker received large amounts of campaign cash from road builders who have a direct interest in stopping rail projects. Wisconsin had an unemployment rate of 7.8% in September.

* The Republican President of the Kentucky State Senate, David Williams, declared his allegiance to the Tea party and said  he supported repeal of the 17th Amendment to the Constitution. This amendment allows for the direct election of  U.S. Senators. Mr. Williams believes that returning election of Senators back to state legislatures would move our nation back to the limited measure of popular sovereignty first written into the constitution.  Many Tea Party supporters back this position.

Do you want to give your vote for United States Senator away? This is Tea party extremism in action.  In September of 2010, Kentucky had an unemployment rate of 10. 1%. Yet what the Republican President of the State Senate is discussing is no longer allowing the public to vote for U.S. Senate.

* In Texas, Governor Rick Perry and Republicans in the state legislature are considering pulling out of Medicaid and out of the Children’s Health Insurance Program. This is being considered even though 3.6 million Texans use these programs. You can be certain that many in Republican rural Texas use these programs. Is this what these folks were voting for earlier this month? We’ll see about that when people find out that benefits are being cut.

What about all the people in Texas who work in jobs connected to health care? With such drastic cuts in funding, where will these people find work? Isn’t it good and honest work to be employed in health care so people can get better and go on with life? Where will we have any jobs in this society if we go after everything?

The leader of the U.S. House Tea Party Caucus, Rep. Michele Bachmann, spent her time spreading a lie that President Obama’s trip to India was costing 200 million dollars a day. This assertion was simply not true.

What exactly  is the point of undermining the President of the United States as he goes to visit a globally important nation like India?

For Republicans in Washington and in states across the nation, this election was not about jobs and the economy. Instead, the election was about extreme ideology that puts the jobs and the health of the American people at risk.

Anger at Washington is not going to get you a job. It is not going to pay the bills if you get sick. The Republican bait-and-switch is in already in evidence. These folks have no constructive thoughts.  It is the same anger-driven politics that led to President Clinton’s impeachment and to the placement of Sarah Palin on the national ticket two years ago.

It’s up to all of us to be aware of what is taking place, and to make sure that Congress is focused on jobs and the economy and not on sideshow hearings and ideological tangents.

November 16, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Passing The Health Reform Bill Is Worth Risking Democratic Majorities In Congress

The Health reform bill passed with 60 votes in the U.S. Senate late last year would extend coverage to most Americans and would block insurance companies from denying coverage on the basis of pre-existing conditions.

As flawed as the bill may be in some aspects, when will we see something better? It could be decades before we see something better.

Think of the difference it would make in the lives of people not currently covered by health insurance to be able to get health insurance.

The House could pass the bill right now and by so doing make sure that most Americans are covered.

If they feel they must, the House could change at least some portions of the bill. At least some portions of the bill could win Senate approval with just 51 votes by the process known as reconciliation.

Democrats in the House and Senate seem afraid to act because they are worried about the political  consequences of moving ahead.

Beyond the fact that lawmakers might be rewarded by the public for finally acting on this matter, passing the bill would be worth losing Democratic majorities in the House or Senate.

This bill would bring about near universal coverage.  It would help so many people. It is difficult to think of a more important thing that could be done for the American people.

If we can’t count on Democrats to put the needs of others first, then we are out of luck in this society.

I urge the large Democratic majorities in both Houses of Congress to work this out regardless of the risks.

I urge the large Democratic majorities in both Houses of Congress to move ahead with the hope that doing the right thing will bring success on Election Day.

February 1, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 2 Comments

90% AIG Bonus Tax Is Wrong—Taxes Are Not A Punishment

The 90% tax on AIG bonuses passed by the U.S. House of Representatives yesterday is  wrong.

Taxes are not a punishment. It is an honor to pay taxes in a free society.

If government can retroactively tax one group of people it does not like at a 90% rate, it will be able to do the same to some other group down the line. 

Progressive taxation, where the wealthy pay more because they can afford more, is fair and just. It is how we pay the expenses required to maintain society.

Taxes as a punishment are an injustice. Such taxes are step towards repressive government.

Shamefully, 85 of 172 Republicans in the House voted for this measure. They talk a lot about oppressive taxes and intrusive government. Yet on one of the few times these often-paranoid notions have merit, they run like cowards.         

If a criminal act has occurred with these bonuses, then prosecute.

If the bonuses are wrong, as they are, take steps to stop them from happening again.

But don’t punish people who engaged in legal acts with a measure that could lead to attacks on political dissenters or some other controversial or unpopular group at some later time.

March 20, 2009 Posted by | Politics | , , , , | 2 Comments

Looking For Republican Moderates Like Looking For Bigfoot

There has been a lot of comment on the small to non-existent number of Republicans who voted in favor of the stimulus bill.  No Republicans supported the bill in the House and only three in the Senate. My own take has been that most of these Republicans just don’t  favor a large role, or any role, for government in the economy. If they vote yes on this they are pretty much giving up the farm.

Also, how can we expect so-called Republican  moderates to vote for the bill when so many have been targeted and defeated in the last two election cycles?  There are hardly any of these people left. In New England, other places in the northeast, Maryland,and the upper midwest, less conservative Republicans in the House have been knocked out  by Democrats. These moderates took a beating in both 2006 and 2008.

They were targeted because they served in areas where Democrats felt they could win. To the extent that these Republicans remain, what’s to be gained by voting yes on the stimulus? They will still be targeted. Senator Arlen Specter will not get a free ride from Democrats if he runs for reelection in Pennsylvania in 2010.

In looking for Republican votes for the stimulus, we’re looking for people who for the most part no longer in Congress. They are no longer in Congress because Democrats knocked them out of Congress. You’d have a better chance of finding Bigfoot. (Actual Bigfoot photo above.)

February 13, 2009 Posted by | Politics | , , , | 1 Comment

Democratic Majorities In Congress Have Obligation To Keep Close Eye On President

Democratic majorities in Congress should be as tough on President Barack Obama, as those of us on the left wanted the Republican-led Congress to be tough on former President George W. Bush.   

While I support most of what I’m seeing so far from the new President, we can’t forget that we are giving this man a lot of power. President Obama is proposing spending great amounts of money and he is discussing more troops for Afghanistan. 

The longer the economic crisis goes on the more power the President will seek to acquire.  It is always possible that the new President will seek new powers to fight what he determines are security threats to the nation. 

We’ve seen in recent years what happens when Congress looks away from what the President is doing. Just because the President is now Barack Obama instead of George Bush, doesn’t mean we should forget the lessons learned.

January 28, 2009 Posted by | Barack Obama, Politics | , , , , | Leave a comment

I Thought Republicans Were For Rallying Around Our President In Time Of Crisis

I thought Republicans believed that in a time of crisis all Americans should rally around our President. I can recall Republicans who said we had to get behind George W. Bush and all his wars so we could avenge the attacks of September 11, 2001. I might even be able to recall suggestions—subtle and otherwise—that people who did not support George W. Bush were not fully loyal.  

Well—This does not seem to be the case for Republicans anymore as President Barack H. Obama works to fight our economic crisis. Where is the Republican message of “country first” that John McCain kept pushing at us for all those months?

I guess supporting our President in these hard times for our nation is not as important as the Republican religion of tax cuts as the cure to every ill, and the Republican fear that a government that helps people will show a path outside of ceaseless brutal competition with each other.

Patriotism is sitautional with Republicans in Congress. That is if loyalty to the nation is what motivated them in the first place after September 11. Maybe what they saw was Karl Rove’s vision of a permanent Republican majority in a nation always afraid of another terrorist attack.

Barack Obama should not get everything he wants just because he says so. The Democratic majorities in Congress must be independent in a way that the previous Republican majorities were not. Just don’t expect much constructive input from Republicans. Whatever it is that truly moves them, the good of the nation is not so high on the list.

January 26, 2009 Posted by | Barack Obama, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

59% Would Replace Entire Congress And Start Again—How Many Would Replace All The People They Know?

The polling service Rasmussen Reports says that 59% of the public would replace all members of Congress and start again with an entirely new Congress.

This got me wondering about how many would, if they had the chance, get rid of all the people in their lives and start with a whole new bunch?

New spouse. Nicer neighbors. Better boss. Less disappointing kids. More loyal friends. Maybe even a more obedient and well-trained dog.

I’m not sure this solution would work either for Congress or in our personal lives. You’d start off hopeful because the new people would be on best behavior at first, but soon enough you’d find that they are just as human and flawed as the people you ditched.

I think even the new dog might not change your life in the way you hoped.

While I think we could do with fewer Republicans in Congress, a hope that may come true, for the most part we will have to move ahead with the people we’ve already got.

Maybe the issue is that we fail to ask enough of the people in Congress and the people in our lives.

October 7, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, Politics | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Colorado’s 6th U.S. House District—These Are The People Who Elect Immigrant Basher Tom Tancredo

  

Immigrant-basher Tom Tancredo is a U.S. Representative from Colorado and a candidate for the Republican Presidential nomination. 

As a member of the Colorado House, Mr. Tancredo was a member of a group called ” the crazies.” These were representatives engaged in extreme tax cutting in Colorado. Before joining Congress, Mr. Tancredo was head of a libertarian think tank.

Congressman Tancredo has written the book  In Mortal Danger  about immigration to the United States. ( That title might also cover the genocide of Native Americans that made white settlement in Colorado possible.) He has called Miami a “third-world country.” Mr. Tancredo wants to tax money that immigrants send back home. He may feel that Mexico is not poor enough already. 

Here is the Tancredo Watch blog which stopped adding new entries when Mr. Tancredo announced he would not be running for reelection.

I’ve wondered who would elect such a mean person to Congress? ( I know— Plenty of people would.)

Representative Tancredo represents the 6th District of Colorado.

Here is information about the 6th District of Colorado from the 2008 Almanac of American Politics.

” Two generations ago, most people in metro Denver lived inside the city itself….Today, more than three-quarters of metro Denver residents live outside the city, some in long-settled suburbs, some in huge new subdivisions raised up in the 1990’s and 2000’s…..You can see the boundaries to these areas in Littleton, originally a long-settled suburb just south of Denver, but now extending to vast new tracts; this is the site of the massacre at the Columbine High School….Just south of Littleton is Douglas County…from 1990 to 2003 it was the fastest growing county in the United States as young families moved into 35 acre “ranchettes”…and took high paying telecommunications jobs.

In 2000, Douglas was the nation’s most affluent county in median household income and had the smallest percentage of people living in poverty….This is patio land, as David Brooks has described, with a high-tech economy, a highly educated population with relatively conservative cultural values, family men and women who want to create a safe, comfortable environment for their children with the serenity if not the personal ties of the traditional small town…”The fastest growing regions of the country tend to have the highest concentrations of children, young families move away from what they perceive as disorder, vulgarity and danger and move to places like Douglas County,” Brooks wrote…”

Just a few thoughts–    

What took place at Columbine High School was awful, but can you imagine how mean some of those kids must have been to students who were different or perceived as “losers.” You don’t deserve to die for insulting people, yet one wonders what adult supervision and help there was to create a culture of respect in the schools of a community such as the one detailed above. It’s clear enough that the parents in that school district were content to have a Congressman make his name off of attacking people who are different.

I also note that the people of this district do not seem very vulnerable to losing their jobs to lower-paid immigrants. What is it they are afraid of? Denver-proper has long had a large Hispanic population. I don’t always subscribe to fully racial explanations of anti-immigrant sentiment, but in this case it seems race might play a large part.

Here in Houston many of the high-growth areas are very ethnically diverse. That does not seem to be the case in at least Mr. Tancredo’s part of the Denver-area. His district is listed as 1.9% black, 2.6% Asian and 5.8% of Hispanic origin.

I’m glad Mr. Tancredo is leaving Congress at the end of his current term.     

December 10, 2007 Posted by | Books, Campaign 2008, Immigration, Politics, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Ron Paul To The Left Of Three Texas U.S House Democrats?—Rating Texas U.S. House Delegation From Right To Left

I recently bought a copy of the 2008 The Almanac of American Politics.

It’s a big book. It has information about politics in Texas and across the nation. If you follow politics, this book is well worth the $74.95 cover price. 

What better way to spend your time than reading about Ron Paul, Pete Sessions and Sheila Jackson Lee?  

The Almanac profiles each member of the U.S House, Senate and all the Governors. For members of Congress, a rating computed by the National Journal magazine is used to rank each member on a liberal to conservative scale relative to other members of Congress. 

The ratings in the 2008 Almanac take into consideration votes from the Congressional session of 2005-2006. Each member is rated between 0 and 99 on economic, social and foreign votes for both years. This is a total of six ratings from these three categories over a two year period.   

I took the ratings, added them up and divided them by six to come up with an overall liberal rating for each U.S House member from Texas. It is somewhat depressing.  

For example, my U.S Representative, John Culberson, voted on the liberal side of economic questions 26% of the time and 2005 and 32% in 2006. That might seem high and I wonder if some of it comes from protectionist votes from this immigrant basher. (Though I see he voted for the Central American Free Trade Agreement.)  

Mr. Culberson was at 0% on social issues for both ’05 and ’06 and at 11% on foreign issues in ’05 and 0% in ’06.

Add up these percentages, 26, 32, 0, 0, 11, and 0, and you get 69. Divide that by the six categories and you get a dismal 11.5%. 

Here are the ratings for each member of the House from Texas along with their district, party affiliation and hometown as listed in The Almanac. The last number is the percentage of voters in 2004 who voted for John Kerry. 

I have a few thoughts on Rep. Paul and a few others at the bottom of this post.

The list goes from right to left. (The left being such as it is in Texas.) 

( Nick Lampson and Ciro Rodriquez, both Democrats, were not part of the last session and are not rated.)

30. Pete Sessions 3.5%—32, R, Dallas, Kerry 40%

30. Randy Neugebauer 3.5%—19, R, Lubbock, Kerry 23% 

28. Sam Johnson 4.6%—3, R, Dallas, Kerry 33%

27. Kenny Marchant 8.3%—24, R, Cappell, Kerry 35% 

26. John Carter 11.0%—11, R, Round Rock, Kerry 33%

25. John Culberson 11.5%—7, R, Houston, Kerry 36%

24. Lamar Smith 13.3%—21, R, San Antonio, Kerry 34%

23. Kevin Brady 14.3%—8, R, The Woodlands, Kerry 28%

22. Jeb Hensarling 14.7%—5, R, Dallas, Kerry 33%

22. Michael Burgess 14.7%—26, R, Highland Village, Kerry 35%

20. Joe Barton 15.6%—6, R, Ennis, Kerry 34%  

19. Mike Conaway 17.0%—11, R, Midland, Kerry 22%

18. Mac Thornberry 17.5%—13, R, Clarendon, Kerry 22%

17. Louie Gohmert 19.3%—1, R, Tyler, Kerry 31% 

16. Mike McCaul 19.7%—10, R, Austin, Kerry 38%

15. Kay Granger 21.8%–12, R, Fort Worth, Kerry 33% 

14. Ralph Hall 22.0%—3, R, Rockwell, Kerry 30%

13. Ted Poe 25.0%—2, R, Humble, Kerry 37%

12. Henry Cuellar 53.3%—28, D, Laredo, Kerry 46% 

11. Chet Edwards 56.0%—17, D, Waco, Kerry 30%

10. Solomon Ortiz 58.7%—27, D, Corpus Christi, Kerry 45%

9. Ron Paul 60.3%—14, R, Surfside, Kerry 33%

8. Silvestre Reyes 63.2%—16, D, El Paso, Kerry 56%

7. Gene Green 63.3%—29, D, Houston, Kerry 56%

6. Ruben Hinjosa 63.8%—15, D, Mercedes, Kerry 49%

5. Charles Gonzalez 68.7%—20, D, San Antonio, Kerry 55% 

4. Al Green 76.3%—9, D, Houston, Kerry 70%

3. Sheila Jackson Lee 77.3%—18, D, Houston, Kerry 72%

2. Eddie Bernice Johnson 80.3%—30, D, Dallas, Kerry 75%

1. Lloyd Doggett 85.2%—25, D, Austin, Kerry 54%      

Just a few observations—-

These ratings, a rough but accurate enough measure, do not really capture what Ron Paul is about. The economic Darwinism of libertarianism is right out of the jungle. Yet you see how Mr. Paul’s views on social issues and opposition to the Iraq War are fooling some on the left.

In a 30% Kerry district, I’d say Chet Edwards is doing his best.

It seems to me Gene Green, Al Green and Shelia Jackson Lee could move just a bit more to the left.

Pete Sessions seems somewhat out of step for even a 60% Bush district.  

I know better days are ahead for Texas and for our U.S. House delegation.  

November 26, 2007 Posted by | Books, Campaign 2008, Houston, Politics, Texas | , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Should Genocide Resolutions Be Considered For Nations That Exterminated Western Hemisphere Native Populations?

  

With the recent discussion about a Congressional resolution declaring Turkey guilty of the genocide of Armenians between 1915 and 1918, should parliaments and congresses across the world consider similar resolutions against nations responsible for the extermination of Native American populations in the Western Hemisphere?    

These nations would be Portugal, Spain, France, England and the United States.

Portugal for the widespread death and servitude brought to the Tupi people of Brazil.    

Spain for a trail of genocide extending through the Canary Islands, the Caribbean, Mexico, Peru, Florida and present day New Mexico and Texas.

France for deaths of natives in Canada and throughout North American New France.

England for the liquidation of native peoples in, among other places, Virgina and New England.

The United States for a long history of wiping out native populations.  

I think such debate and resolutions around the world might only be fair.  

October 26, 2007 Posted by | Colonial America, History, Politics, Texas | , , , , , , , | 8 Comments