Saturday, October 31, 2009

Conservatives vs. Moderates: What is going on in the GOP?

Today's breaking news out of New York is that Republican nominee Dede Scozzafava has withdrawn from the race for New York's 23rd District. Dede cited a slip in the polls and a lack of funding for her departure from the race.

New York's 23rd has drawn national attention because it shows a fracture in the Republican Party where the far right seems to be taking hold of the party as a whole, as a far right candidate ran after not receiving the nomination as an independent, and has gained the endorsement of the Republican Party. Some are suggesting that this means the end of moderates in the GOP, while others indicate it is a shift right for the nation. I think the latter may be wishful thinking.

There is a clear rise in strange occurrences that are clearly not from the moderate wing of the GOP from the Tea Parties, to the Birthers, and so on. To better understand it, it may be worth looking to Kansas, where a Democrat won two terms as Governor in a state that is almost 2/3 Republican. It begs the question of "how does a Democrat win in Kansas?" And the answer was a rift in the GOP that may be showing up in many forms around the nation.

There are essentially four major factions of the Republican Party: Neoconservatives (Defense hawks, not primarily concerned with domestic policy), Paleoconservatives (small government), Christian Conservatives (religious, even theocratic at times), and moderates (pragmatists). In Kansas, the Neocons and the Christian Cons aligned against the Paleocons and the Moderates in a vicious battle. In the end, the campaign was so bitter that either the other faction didn't show up or it showed up for the Democrat to spite the faction that received the nomination.

In the case of that set of coalitions, it illustrates a fundamental problem in the GOP factions: A fight over government philosophy within the GOP. Christian Conservatives, fundamentally, want a theocratic democracy, where the government can enforce morality. Neoconservatives are focused on foreign policy and power, they almost share a Machiavellian view of controlling the people, which would naturally align with Christian Conservatives because when you control the religion of the people, you can control them.

These views are fundamentally at odds with Paleocons who believe in limited government almost to the point of Libertarianism, but not quite to that point. They believe there are some other things the government can do, but limiting that is the best course. Moderates in the GOP generally are softer, squishier Paleocons who want low taxes and limited government, but realize more things need to be run by government. They probably don't mind Social Security, and may think some Medicare is good, but are fundamentally at odds with a single payer system or any universal government run health care system as being too much government.

This is essentially the fundamental problem being seen today. It is why Sarah Palin and John McCain didn't generally see eye to eye, with McCain being a lifetime Paleocon to moderate Paleocon, and Palin being more of a Neocon-Christian Conservative, the views of government were fundamentally at odds at the most basic level.

The problem for the moderates and Paleocons is that the Neocons and Christian Cons are more easily organized and mobilized, and often are more extreme because they believe, at their core, that they are fighting a war about the future of the world, and if they lose, they have lost America's destiny or God's mission for them. That is why the Paleocons have harkened back to the Founders through the symbolism of the Tea Party.

Democrats are trying to fan those flames, to feed the extremes, and to expose those extremes to expand their party and their base. It is a large part of why President Obama isn't "taking" the spoils of victory but rather insisting about gaining moderates on legislation. To take it would be to unify the right against him and rally them, but to continually reach out makes the moderates feel, on some level, that the Democrats are willing to work with them as the extremists on the right start to kick them out.

This is why New York's 23rd has gained such national attention. It is a district that has traditionally gone Republican for over 120 years, but President Obama narrowly beat John McCain there, and a split in the GOP may well bode well for the Democrats. This district is a race that will tell us a lot more about the impact of this split going on nationwide in the GOP, and how far reaching its implications are. If a Democrat wins it, it will signal real problems for Republicans nationwide as contested primaries create major divides in the party, leaving openings for the recruiting of moderates for Democrats.

While demographics may be key to Democrats taking states like Texas, the New York race may start to foreshadow the primary between Perry and Kay Bailey for the Governor's office in Texas (assuming Kay Bailey actually starts to campaign seriously). If Texas goes Democratic, it will dramatically change the electoral map in the nation.

As for New York's 23rd, it may well turn out the way California's Governor race where Gray Davis used campaign dollars to influence the GOP primary getting the far right candidate the nomination, leaving the moderate by the wayside and Gray Davis, a rather poor and uninspiring Democratic candidate to win relatively easily. We will have to wait and see because it has been such a strong GOP stronghold, but the Democrat vs. the far Right makes you wonder where the moderate Republicans and Independents will fall in the race.

Boehner gives Framework for GOP Health Care Reform: Too bad it is light on Health Care and Heavy on Profiteering

House Minority Leader John Boehner proclaimed the GOP actually has a health care plan for America that they will be putting out a full version on the House Floor. Boehner points to some basic components of the GOP health care reform plan:

* To let individuals and small businesses look for better insurance deals in other states. Considering their control of Congress for so much of the last 15 years, and their proclaimed love of free markets, one has to wonder why they have isolated state markets for so long if this was such a good solution.

* To allow them to pool together to find better health care deals like big corporations get. Yet, there is no reason why they couldn't do that before. All they would have to do is create a group or organization already like the "Dairy Farmers of California" or some other similar name. This really isn't anything new.

* To create an environment that gives states greater range to experiment with cost-saving health care reforms. So exactly what "creates" this "environment"? This is so vague it allows them to keep saying things like "if it would create the environment, then we would do it" and every time someone critiques something they could easily say "well, that wouldn't create the environment, so we wouldn't do it." It is a way to dance a rhetorical dance without actually changing anything, and in all likelihood, it is a profit seeking ploy for insurance companies.

* To institute tort reform. This has already been done in some states like Texas, which has disempowered citizens and empowered insurance companies to deny coverage because it is cheaper to accept the lawsuit than it is to pay off the claim, especially around expensive cases like life-threatening cancers that require expensive treatments, or expensive diagnosis tests. This is just another profit making move for insurance companies and a way to deny coverage for you and me to save their bottom line.

The GOP continues to put forth tweaks and play rhetorical games that do nothing more than empower corporations to make big money off of us while denying coverage to us in order to grow their own bottom line. That isn't health care reform. That is the destruction of care for you and me while enriching their own pockets. We need something better than corporate rationed health care focused on their profit, not our health.

Fox vs. Obama, Cheney vs. Biden, Catholic Church: political or religious organization, and sleeping too much?

Quick Hits for October 31, 2009

* I have to admit I haven't really paid that much attention to the "war" between Fox News and the Obama Administration. After all, isn't it pretty obvious that Fox is a GOP "news" source? Heck, even my Republican friends admit that. It is kinda like saying "the sun rises in the east and sets in the west," everyone knows it so much so that no one has to say it or prove it anymore. It sounds more like Fox blowing it up because they need more attention to drive ratings. For what it is worth, Jon Stewart takes on the subject for about eleven minutes on a show and pretty much nails the topic. Take a look.

* When asked about Dick Cheney, Vice President Biden admitted he doesn't really like Cheney personally and doesn't care about what Dick Cheney says. It is about time that someone told Cheney he lost his relevance when he left office. Heck, until President Bush put him on the ticket, he had lost his relevance for the previous eight years after he put the plan in place to cut the defense budget that he later blamed President Clinton for.

* The Catholic Church has decided to speak politically against the health care reform bill because it allows people to have abortions even though it refuses to use federal funds for abortion. What I would like to know is when the IRS will start talking to the Catholic Church about their tax exempt status now that they are a political organization rather than a religious one. Talking about religion is one thing and must be protected, but when you openly start to campaign for or against legislation, and hand out fliers, you become a political, not a religious organization, and your tax exempt status should reflect that.

* CNN asks, "is too much sleep making you tired?" They report that people sleeping less than 5-6 hours or more than 10 hours often find themselves feeling lethargic and tired. My thought was "duh." The lack of sleep being a problem is well documented, and occasionally, having a long sleep day to rest is good, but if it happens a lot, of course you are feeling tired or lethargic. You are unmotivated, feel like you don't have a purpose to get up, and may very well be feeling depressed as a result. People need sleep but they also need purpose to feel like there is a reason to get out of bed. That is why we have motivational speakers everywhere or books like "The Purpose Driven Life" are so popular, we need to have a purpose and to feel motivated to act, and when we don't, we fall into that lethargic trap.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Smart Shopping, Economy Grows 3.5%, Health Care needs our help, Jeb Bush on Capitalism, Birthers, and Budget Numbers

Quick Hits for October 30, 2009

* I have long been an advocate of smart shopping to decrease your daily costs. I encourage bringing your own coffee in the morning to save the $5 from Starbucks for that Mocha. I encourage bringing your own lunch for $2-3 instead of paying $5-15 dollars for lunch. And there are a lot of other things. However, Kathy Spencer takes my shopping (I save about 50% on my grocery bill doing the same things) to a whole new level through her efforts of using coupons, advertisements, and stockpiling coupons while buying in bulk. I learned my tricks off of which I recommend to my friends to learn how to shop. One thing we lost from our grandparents is the focus on saving money and buying cheaply or smartly. It is something that will hopefully come back into popularity as a result of this recession.

* Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid blasted Republicans for filibustering President Obama's nominees for cabinet positions like Surgeon General claiming that Republicans have filibustered more nominees in four months than Democrats filibustered in the first four years under President Bush. That may point to the need for Democrats to filibuster more than they do, but it also points to the hypocrisy of Republicans shouting "up or down vote" on everything when there was a threat of a filibuster.

Maybe that should be a reminder on key policy issues like Health Care Reform, where we remind them that they said policies and people should get up or down votes. One such petition making the rounds demands an up or down vote on health care that has been given attention by Rachel Maddow on MSNBC can be signed here. Harry Reid has his own petition to share with other Senators to give him leverage here. Let your voice be heard.

* Note to Jeb Bush: Pure capitalism has long since been gone, probably for close to 80 to 100 years, if not longer. Bush's comments were probably an attempt to gain attention in the news cycle when he proclaimed that President Obama was attacking capitalism, but maybe he should remember his own brother's policies such as protectionism of steel industries, eliminating competitive government contracts for his friends, and more. However, we should remember that no major industry in America has become a major industry without help from the government in some way or another. America has long been a mixed economy, not a capitalist one. Maybe Jeb might want to spend some time understanding economics before making more comments that make him sound foolish.

* House Democrats have unveiled a new $894 billion health care plan over the next 10 years which will be attacked by Republicans as "almost costing a trillion dollars" and be blown out of proportion. To keep it in proportion, realize that the current defense budget is over $6.5 trillion over the next 10 years. If they lowered the defense budget to $5.6 trillion over the next 10 years, health care with public option included would be totally paid for. Maybe it is time we start talking about policies in the same timeframes so that people don't get confused.

* U.S. District Court Judge David O. Carter ruled against "birthers" who proclaimed that President Obama was not an American and thus, could not be President. He isn't the first judge to do so, but he is the first one to say that the constitution only has one way to remove a sitting President and the courts are not that way. While the "birthers" proclaim to know the constitution well enough to attempt to split hairs and proclaim government documents as fakes, apparently they aren't able to read the constitution on how to remove a sitting President.

* The third quarter numbers are in and the recession is officially over because it broke a string of four quarters of negative growth, though the road ahead may still be filled with roadblocks. The growth for the quarter was at 3.5%, ahead of expectations of economists. However, the growth was largely created by the economic stimulus package through projects like cash for clunkers. Without the stimulus bill, it is thought the GDP would have been even or in negative growth.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Glen Beck's Meatless Rant, Another Deviant Republican Caught, Washington Times claims Donors get Access, and Texas allows Parents share porn with kids

Quick Hits for October 29, 2009

* Is it any surprise that anti-abortion moralist, former Republican lawmaker in South Carolina, and just resigned Assistant Deputy Attorney General Roland Corning was found by police with a stripper, prescribed sex enhancement drugs, and sex toys in his vehicle at, of all places, a cemetery. When asked about the sex toys, Corning said they were there "just in case." If I was his wife, I would be asking "just in case" of what, you went on a drive with a stripper in our SUV in a CEMETERY? He no longer had his job two hours later and I have to wonder how long he will have his wife. Just another in a long list of Republican moralists who turned out to be not quite so moral in their own lives.

* Glenn Beck's latest rant focuses on the "indoctrination" of kids to vegetarianism as he criticized "Meatless Monday" in a Baltimore school, and responding to the UK Climate Chief saying not eating meat would be better for the planet. This is just one more in a long line of mindless rants by Beck who is becoming the voice of the far right, but being mocked by everyone from the conservative moderates over. What he is criticizing is far from controversial, making him sound like just another person wanting to make money off of raw emotionalism.

Afterall, going meatless for a meal isn't new or unusual. Think of all of the Italian, Spanish or Mexican, and Asian dishes that are meatless. While Americans do love their meat, having a meal without meat really isn't that unusual. Heck, "Meatless Monday" could simply mean Mac'n'cheese or spaghetti without meatballs or cheese enchiladas or fettucini alfredo or cheese pizza or any one of a ton of dishes we eat without meat all the time.

As for going meatless planetwide, long before global climate change was a major issue, we were told that it would be better for the planet just because it took 10 lbs of grain to make 1 lb of meat, which means 10 lbs of grains that we can't eat. It was simply inefficient, and that doesn't even count the water. Now that we know some meats are linked to increased risks for heart disease, cancers, etc., and we know that their gas adds to climate change, and as we start to reach the carrying capacity of global population leaving some to starve, of course it makes sense that going meatless would help the planet and all of us. That doesn't mean I am giving up my Double Western Bacon Cheeseburger anytime soon. But it does mean that maybe we should alter our eating patterns to reflect a healthier diet both for ourselves and others on the planet.

These aren't really controversial statements at all. But Glenn Beck is playing on the raw emotions of people who don't want to see any changes to their lives because they don't want to give up a burger no matter how bad it may be for their own health, and often times, playing on their ignorance because these health studies are often not widely publicized by the right as information but rather as attempts at leftist indoctrination. It is amazing how information and suggestion is now brainwashing. Ironic considering they spend so much time and effort trying to isolate their audience from any other information other than what they tell them.

* Much to my surprise, Texas is such a "keep the government out of our lives" state that it is totally legal to get drunk and share your porn with your kids. Now, I am pretty open to teaching children things at young ages to prepare them for the real world before they have to deal with it first hand, but showing them Debbie does Dallas might be over the top. Apparently, any changes to the law might be difficult in Texas. I guess I understand why they don't want Child Protective Services around, but it would probably be a flag of potential sexual abuse in my world, not something that should be shared with young children. Makes you wonder why Glenn Beck isn't talking about this story.

* The Washington Times has reported an article proclaiming quid pro quo between the Obama Administration and donors. At this point, the White House has denied the accusation and there is no concrete evidence of any such move. We should remember a this administration raised record amounts without relying on major donors, as well as that the Washington Times is one of the few major news organizations that does NOT have a fact checker on staff, and has a major right wing bias. It also doesn't hurt to remind the right of the policy "discussions" that the Bush Administration had with major donors like oil companies setting up energy policy in meetings with Dick Cheney.

The right doesn't care about truth or right, simply power. It truly makes one miss the days of William Buckley and Ronald Reagan, when integrity, honor, and finding the best policies for America and the American Dream meant something.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Harris County GOP Corruption, Lieberman denies Americans, 95% of GOP House against H1N1 Vaccine, Sex for Tickets, and Lessons of the Recession

Quick Hits for October 27, 2009

* The big news of the day has to be the public option moves by "moderate" Senators. I am not sure whether to blame Harry Reid for incompetence in leadership or Joe Lieberman for his shift to the Republican Party, though he hasn't done it in name. Al Gore's greatest mistake was bringing Lieberman to national notoriety. Either way, the public option continues to be at stake, and it is the one thing that can force insurance companies to start playing fair with the care and coverage for all Americans or lose the business of Americans who are given an alternative. Remember, if the public option sucks, not one single American is forced to sign up for it. We can all still buy our own health insurance. There is no reason NOT to do it.

* Reminder: While many grow frustrated by the H1N1 virus news of more deaths, people have to remember a few things: First, the primary reason that there are not as many flu vaccines is due to what it actually takes to make a vaccination, which include the growth of materials needed to kill the flu virus. Second, we must remember that at the time the funding for the H1N1 virus vaccine was on the table, 95% of all of the House Republicans opposed the funding. If they had their way, we would have had no funding for that vaccine. The party of "no" tried to prevent the funding that people are being critical of as not doing enough now. Thank goodness that some had the foresight to get us at least this far considering the virus didn't even exist a year ago.

* Talk about taking things a step too far: Philadelphia Phillies fan Susan Finkelstein apparently took her love for the team to another level when she posted an add on Craigslist offering sex for Phillies World Series tickets. I have long been a sports fan, but at some point people need to maintain their dignity and self-respect. One has to wonder about our priorities when we give an entertainment event such as a baseball game such significance but we don't put nearly as much effort into the very decisions that will have real impacts on our lives. Maybe Susan is a lesson to us all.

* Too often we assume that everything works and we don't pay attention until it is too late. Harris County, Texas may be one of those areas. The Burnt Orange Report reports the Voter Registration Office of Harris County has engaged in voter suppression tactics by the Republican Party where candidates paid Ed Johnson and Dwayne Bohac more than $140,000 resulting in the rejection of more than 70,000 voter registration applications, and attempting to block or disqualify just under 7,000 provisional ballots. The result may have been at least 2 seats for the GOP that they might not have won otherwise. Watch for more of this as Texas seems primed to turn blue soon.

* The Christian Science Monitor pointed to five lessons of the recession that Americans have learned that include: reducing nonessential purchases, building a cash cushion, shifting to low risk investments, consulting a financial adviser, and diversifying portfolios. Let me suggest a few others that are showing up but need to become lasting lessons: reducing the costs of your daily expenses like grocery shopping by using smart shopping methods like coupons, price matching, asking for discounts, and smartly utilizing return policies; building your own home business to shore up your income or create income alternatives to offset potential job losses in a bad economy; and managing credit better through the smarter use of credit cards, and the moving away from variable rate mortgages and teaser rates.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Afghanistan Adrift, Public Option Optional to Reid, GOP and Halliburton, and "FEMA Camps" Today

Quick Hits for October 25, 2009

* Bush Advisor Ed Gillespie decided to stand up for the Bush Administration on Afghanistan. In response to Rahm Emanuel's statement about the Bush Administration's Afghanistan policy being adrift, Gillespie said that wasn't true indicating that the Bush Administration had a proposal and a review of the situation in Afghanistan. What Gillespie never explains is why none of the things Emanuel addressed like an Afghani Army, an Afghani Security Force, and Afghani services were addressed over the previous 7 years. Maybe if they had paid attention to Afghanistan for the previous 7 years, a last ditch review and proposal before leaving office wouldn't have been necessary to cover their collective political backsides.

* Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is talking about a public option with an opt out clause in the final Senate version of health care reform. While it is an improvement to see that Harry hasn't given up on a public option, the notion of giving states an opt out clause is one that completely undermines the purpose of a public option. The healthiest state 2008 report indicates that blue states have an average ranking of 20.7, but the red states that voted for McCain and that are most likely to opt out of the public option average 31.6 in ranking. In other words, the people who most need a public option may well be held hostage by the far right in their states. Given that they are the least healthiest, if they can't afford health insurance now, they probably can't afford to move to a blue state to get medical care of a public option.

If it is the view of Democrats that they need to stand up and protect those who can't protect themselves from others, whether it be abusers or Republican extremists, then it is Majority Leader Reid's responsibility to pass a public option that doesn't allow Republicans to deny Americans the health care they deserve.

* While it isn't unusual for political parties to do some things to protect their backers, or their interest groups; the Republican Party has taken it to new heights. Apparently, a woman was gang raped while working for Halliburton in Iraq, and when she tried to report it to the company, they locked her up until they eventually released her. She tried to sue the company and was told she couldn't sue because of a clause in her employment contract. As a response to this, Senator Al Franken put forth an amendment to prevent these clauses by eliminating government contracts for employers with these clauses. Of the 100 Senators, 30 voted to reject protecting employees and their liability while protecting an environment that promotes gang rape. None of the 60 Democrats voted against it, but 3/4 of all Republican Senators voted against the amendment. Wow.

There is a ton to say about this, but Jon Stewart said it better than I can. Take a look, it is well worth a few minutes of time.

* Every once in a while, I start searching terms on say Twitter to see how people are portraying things. Right now, the right is attacking "progressives" and putting forth grand distortions such as the use of "FEMA Camps" for the "homeless" as a way to control the population. This is a myth by the paranoid about government in general, and part of it feeds the view of small government people, but the other part feeds those paranoid of government. What they fail to realize is that what gave FEMA and the military the ability to do these things like create FEMA "camnps" was the Patriot Act put forth by the Bush Administration. Maybe the people we should be afraid of for the fantasies of the paranoid are the neocons who wrote in these kinds of ties, not the progressives who fight for civil liberties.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Public Option, Net Neutrality, Conservative Media Bias, and H1N1

Quick Hits for October 24, 2009

* Some Democrats are starting to get serious about health care and Democrats are starting to notice. If anyone has any misunderstandings, it should be clear that one of the really key issues for Democrats is health care but specifically a public option. There are few things more important to Democrats than the public option. Any Democrat failing to realize that may feel the recent petition being started whereby many Democrats are refusing to fundraise for ANY DEMOCRAT who votes AGAINST the public option, while supporting those that do, even outside their own states. I have joined it, I hope you do too.

* Apparently, the Republican Party has taken up the agenda of corporations yet again in opposition to net neutrality, a concept whereby the internet remains wide open as it is today for lawful activities. Some would prefer to control what people can and cannot see on their networks charging consumers extra fees to get out to the open internet. In other words, you could reach what your local provider said was acceptable, but if you want access to the full internet that you see today, you would have to pay an additional fee beyond your current services. Net neutrality argues that those extra charges are wrong and limit the freedom of choice of internet users to access the internet, and that it is more like a Chinese policy of censorship to hide content from your eyes, thereby allowing your ISP to control what information you get. Freepress has their own petition supporting net neutrality that I encourage you take a look at and research.

* It is interesting to hear about the "liberal media" when it turns out that the newspaper editorials are heavily balanced in favor of conservatives with 60% of newspaper editorial pages weighted to the right, 20% to the left, and 20% are "evenly" balanced in terms of columnists they carried. It isn't all that surprising, but one more indication of the "liberal media bias" myth is just that... a myth.

* Some are asking why H1N1 is creating such a stir when the flu kills more people every year than H1N1 has killed. And to an extent, I can understand. Our priorities are a little out of whack when we keep things like tobacco legal that kill 400,000 people a year. However, in the case of H1N1, the reason it is such a major concern is simple: It is all about the children. Years ago, someone told me that when it comes to people caring, children dying always outweighs even 100 times more adults dying. There is something special in our hearts for our children. In this case, we have barely started the flu season and more children have died from H1N1 than they do in most full flu seasons. It is serious because, quite simply, it has targeted our children. And there is no sign of it slowing down because of vaccine production taking time to make. I am not worried about myself, but if I had children, I would be concerned for their safety.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Rush vs. Sharpton, Swine Flu Update, Health Care Reform and Premiums, and Cleavage on Fox?

Quick Hits for October 18, 2009

* Apparently, Rush is so upset about being left off the owners group for the St. Louis Rams that he is lashing out at everyone he can find. However, apparently Al Sharpton is threatening a lawsuit against Rush for his statement about Sharpton and his role in a riot that resulted in a death. I don't think Rush cares about the threat and Sharpton doesn't sound all that strong as he threatens to sue. Sharpton should have simply waited for the reaction after the suit was filed instead of making a public threat.

In the case of Rush, he will continue to browbeat people and attack them, continuing to play the victim lashing out, and never face up to responsibility for his own actions or rhetoric. Threats are a waste of breath. Sharpton should simply file and let the cards fall where they may.

* Lately, health insurance companies have been claiming that health care reform will increase their premiums. They proclaim that this is contrary to what President Obama claimed it would do. What they aren't telling you is that with a public option, they will start writing exclusively the more expensive policies going for the profit dollars while dropping cheaper policies that don't offer nearly as much of a profit for them. They had taken on these cheaper policies to stave off government intervention and competition, but with a public option, they will drop them.

It isn't a product of competing for them as much as they simply will be shifting towards a higher profit margin, leaving the policies that they lose money on for the government to run. However, it is this refusal to compete on the part of insurance companies that may lead to a single payer system eventually. These companies have a choice: compete or siphon off profits on their way out of the medical insurance areas. Their pricing actions will show us the direction they are choosing.

* There is no doubt that Fox is the media outlet for the Republican Party. However, I thought the GOP was all about family values, yet I see more cleavage on than on any other "news" website that I have ever seen. As I write this, I see the cleavage of Angie Harmon, Jenna Fischer, a random Playboy bunny, Kim Kardashian, and January Jones. That's all on the front page on the top 1/3 of the website from the news source that panders to the Christian Coalition on the right. It continues to show how the morality talk is just that: talk. Their actions prove that.

* As of this point, Swine Flu has claimed the lives of 86 children, which is alarming considering it is only the beginning of the flu season and that number is higher than some full seasons. That this flu is targeting children primarily, and children are in one of the easiest places to spread illness, it leaves for a potentially horrible flu season this year. As the season continues, remember, the GOP told us how this was a hoax to get health care passed. I don't think we can call this a pandemic for the U.S., though it is around the world, it appears to have some serious consequences coming this year.

Parents should work to boost the immune systems of their children through natural immune system boosters. Orange juice, chicken soup, garlic, ginger, onions, and other natural boosters of the immune system should become part of the daily diet for many Americans, especially for children. Additionally, foods rich in Vitamins A, E, and B all help to fight against illnesses for various reasons. Avocados, bananas, carrots, tuna, and salmon all help with these vitamins. Here are some links to immune booster articles that give some tips that may help you and your family avoid the Swine Flu this year.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Balloon Boy Family Attacked, Judge Refuses to Marry Interracial Couple, and Fox blaming Democrats for GW's Deficits

Quick Hits for October 17th, 2009

* I gotta feel for the Heene Family and ask what this tells all of us in terms of how to deal with possible accidents. This is a family that almost had a major loss but it turned out to be a normal childhood mistake that got more media than it ever should have in a slow media cycle craving ratings for the unusual. The result has been a bashing of the family, even in the times where people thought the child might still be in the balloon, that no family should have go to through. The unintended consequence of this media bashing may well be that the next family that has a real problem may not report it to avoid this kind of scrutiny and media circus. I feel for the loss of the family that loses a child as a result of this circus that deterred them from getting the help they needed.

* The Louisiana case of a Judge refusing to issue a marriage license because the couple was of two different races really has to make me wonder. The Judge, Keith Bardwell, claimed that he was protecting the children that may result from the couple because in his experience, interracial couples "don't last." The problem is that his actions unconstitutionally restrict the choices of the couple to associate with other adults of their choice in the ways of their choice. Whether or not their marriage lasts is up to them, but given the overall divorce rates in this country, regardless of race of the couple, to proclaim it as grounds for denying them is shallow justification at best which may hide other racial issues.

To his defense, Judge Bardwell proclaimed he married black couples all the time to indicate he wasn't racist, but it may indicate an "us", "them" view of the world whereby they are "acceptable" as long as they "stay in their place" which would be "with their own kind." While those aren't his words, it certainly seems to be a reasonable interpretation of his statements to this point, which certainly does show racist issues on his part. America has a freedom of association for individuals, and a Justice of the Peace has no right to deny that freedom for the reasons Bardwell gave. To his credit, Governor Jindal is calling for Bardwell's removal from the bench. Score one for Jindal.

* Fox News is reporting that Democrats are getting defensive over the budget deficits, but I am not sure why they should. Given the economic situation, it would seem normal to run deficits to spur the economy. That is a normal economic action to create stimulus by cutting taxes or spending more, which creates deficits. The deficits are worse because of the deficit situation that Republicans created from 2001 to 2006, and the first stimulus packages to save Wall Street that President Bush pushed last fall as part of his bailout proposal. Republicans sometimes forget that this year's budget deficit is the result of President Bush's budget and budget priorities. President Obama's budget is about to kick in for the next fiscal year, but this deficit belongs to GW and given the news of the deficits, it isn't surprising that President Obama will end up cleaning up another Republican budget deficit mess.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Rush Limbaugh, Jeff Flake's pansy moment, GW on Twitter, Wall Street Bonuses, Dems, and Birthers

Quick Hits for October 14, 2009

* I guess I am semi-surprised that Rush Limbaugh was forced out of the NFL bid to own the St. Louis Rams by his fellow bidders claiming that Rush just made things more complicated. I just have to wonder what kind of business people they are if they didn't foresee this obvious reaction and plan for it before they started.

* Representative Jeff Flake (R-AZ) decided to tell people he felt like a pansy so he stayed on a deserted island for a week last summer. I am not sure what makes a man feel like a "pansy" or why he would want to be quoted using the term "pansy," nor why he would think that anyone would care that he couldn't feel like a "man" in Arizona, so he had to go to an island in the Pacific; but what I do want to know is why CNN thought this was worth putting in their political "ticker."

* Political Ticker II: I am not sure why it is a "ticker" issue that President GW Bush decided not to join Twitter "just yet." I am just not really sure why that is news at all. Should we report that he hasn't bought an iPhone just yet either?

* Major bonuses for AIG and others on Wall Street being reported should surprise no one. The real question is are they paying back their loans. If they are paying them back on time, no one should care about their bonuses. However, the growth of these companies without improvement in their procedures of doing business should send a message to Washington and the financial sector that new financial businesses need to rise up to be in position for when they eventually repeat their mistakes so we can let them fail and have other companies ready to take their place. Maybe someone should wonder if they are "too big to fail" if maybe they have too large a part of the market and may have monopoly issues, but if they don't have a monopoly essentially on the field, then they aren't "too big to fail" anymore.

* It is about time that Democrats stop bickering internally and get something done on health care. There is no reason that it is taking this long other than that the DNC is the same disorganized disaster that sunk health care reform in 1994, and caused people to joke, "I don't belong to an organized party, I belong to the Democratic Party." We need energy, environmental, and health care reform (with a public option) this year. If the Democrats can pull that off, they might just find themselves re-elected if they can do it well.

* President Bush appointee fines Birther leader for frivolous lawsuit and motions, proclaiming they were using the legal system to put forth political attacks. It is good to see someone putting this garbage in its place. Maybe enough mocking and they might wake up from embarrassment.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Romo, Quinn, and Russell: The Problems or the Symptoms?

Normally, I would avoid the sports talk, but living near Dallas, it seems all I hear is talk of Cowboys football and their problems. It seems that the media has gotten tired of talking about coach Wade Phillips and focused on quarterback Tony Romo, laying blame on him for all the Cowboy ills leaving some to start apologizing to Jessica Simpson for the attacks on her role in his previous failures.

Unfortunately, for Romo, he suffers from a failure of coaching just as some of the other quarterbacks being attacked by the media today. John Lopez writes on that Romo, Brady Quinn, and Jamarcus Russell are the three worst and most disappointing quarterbacks in the NFL. Yet, I have to wonder how much of the problem is the quarterback and how much is the coaching.

For Tony Romo and the Cowboys, their story has continued its downhill flight with the addition of Wade Phillips as head coach to replace Bill Parcells. Wade has a winning percentage of .596, but that is deceiving. Every team Phillips has taken over has gone from one record to a worse record over short periods of time. His two longest stints as a head coach illustrate the point as he took over the Buffalo Bills in 1998 with a record of 10-6 to take them to a record of 8-8 in 2000. The Cowboys seem to be following that path as they went from 13-3 in Wade's first year to 9-7 last year with a 2-2 record so far this year, and a career 0-4 mark in the playoffs.

Teams keep turning to Wade because of his defensive coaching skills, but that has not translated to head coaching success. In the case of the Cowboys, he has essentially isolated himself to defensive coordinator in a two head coaching system where he gets the official title. In this case, Jason Garrett has had full control of the offense which should turn out well for Phillips given that Garrett has been highly hyped in the Cowboy organization as an offensive guru. However, one has to wonder how much of a guru Garrett is given the predictability of the offense last season and the play calling this season in the red zone.

Either way, it appears clear that neither Phillips or Garrett is doing Romo any favors. Calling two fades in a row in the red zone when your team is running up and down the field on the Giants makes little sense compared to more rushes or better yet, play action passes to say a tight end (don't they have an all pro tight end?) when the linebackers jump up to attack the run. Following that up with the last two plays going right at Champ Bailey, an all pro lock down cornerback that may be one of the best one or two in the league to end the game against Denver makes even less sense. Yes, quarterbacks can audible or change the read, but coordinators call plays with specific first options in mind, and those options make little sense in helping Romo.

There is a similar case in Cleveland, where Eric Mangini is a young, unproven commodity who failed to maximize potential in New York with the Jets after a bright first season, leaving the Jets with a 4-12 record in his second season and a 1-4 season ending collapse in 2008. While we really can't blame him for Brady Quinn's development over the last year or more, he hasn't done his quarterback any favors this season. However, truth be told, Quinn was probably a reach quarterback in an attempt to find a local star to create the kind of following that Lebron James has as a local hero.

As for Russell, the answer is probably Al Davis. Given the turmoil and coaching changes, it is no surprise to me that he has even regressed after Lane Kiffin's first year. It seems as though even good moves get short circuited. Jeff Garcia was a perfect back up for Russell to teach the youngster how to prepare mentally and physically how to be an NFL quarterback, as well as to light a fire under the young quarterback because of the threat of losing his job to the veteran if he should not improve his efforts. Yet, they cut Garcia in a cost saving measure, with a rumor of bringing him back again given Russell's problems. Then again, given the rest of the Raider problems, they probably start with a senile Al Davis more than a young quarterback.

It is easy to pick on coaches considering it is often more expensive to fire or replace players, but in some cases, owners need to make smarter coaching decisions and general manager decisions before they can expect to get the right players much less to get them playing well. Mike Singletary is but one of many examples of the difference a coach can make, and it is obvious that Tom Cable is not the coach to turn the Raiders around. Then again, he may be the last person insane enough to take the job.

I guess it gets to be an old story of beating up on the same coach over and over, but beating up on a young quarterback with potential and put in a difficult position of being coached by a bad coach doesn't help them or their teams.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Graham goes after pundits, GOP looks for Libertarians, Dems improve economics stances, Olympics and Patriotism, and Wilson and Grayson

Quick Hits for October 4th, 2009:

* Reps Joe Wilson and Alan Grayson both have had significant booms in their fundraising since their "bold" statements. Wilson blurted out "you lie" in the middle of President Obama's speech in Congress, and while it also was a fundraising boon for his opposition, he has become a significant fundraiser for the GOP base. Grayson was on the House Floor during morning comments, which historically get a little aggressive, and was noted for saying, "Don't get sick. That's what the Republicans have in mind. And if you get sick, America, the Republican health care plan is this: die quickly." Grayson has also seen significant fundraising success right after his speech.

The comments motivate the base and create fundraising opportunities, but are they what we should hope for in our representatives? While I agree with Grayson's general sentiment, are there really any Republicans who would want people to "die quickly?" I doubt it. We should demand more from our leaders than pandering to the extremes to raise money while getting nothing done.

* Roland Martin of CNN wrote an interesting article about the GOP's proclaiming anyone who speaks badly of America as unpatriotic, and beyond that, those on the right proclaimed opposition to the war in Iraq as "wanting America to fail" and called them "unpatriotic." As the Olympics were given to Rio, it appears that the right has started their own giddiness about America failing or losing the Olympic bidding. It seems that they have their own little hypocrisy to deal with.

* The GOP has decided to blast President Obama for his policies and their effect on jobs, insisting that deeper tax cuts for small business and individuals are the key to job creation.

Maybe someone should remind the GOP that stimulus often takes 9-15 months to filter through the system before it hits its full impact. Sure, it will have some impact immediately just from its perception, but it takes a while for it to have an impact, not simply 6-7 months. Because this is government programs, it will take longer because it takes time to design, set up, hire, and implement the programs themselves. To proclaim their failure only shows ignorance in economics.

I have to wonder why they think tax cuts for individuals are key to anything. Maybe they should realize that 47% of Americans pay NO FEDERAL INCOME TAX at all. Six thousand people making over $1 pay no federal income tax. Why doesn't the GOP just come out and say it, they want to repeal all taxes of every kind? If you want a great country, you have to pay for it. 47% of America paying no federal income taxes is too much!

The GOP fails to understand the great impediment to small business isn't taxation. It really isn't. It is the aversion to risk that people now aspire to have a good job instead of to start a new business, while the GOP continues to treat massive corporations as if they are people we should all beg for jobs, and subsidize them so they can undermine and eliminate small businesses.

It used to be that Republicans understood economics better than liberals, but it is clear that can't be said anymore.

* Fox's John Tantillo called for the rising up of the American Capitalist Party, proclaiming the Democrats as Socialist, and the Republicans as the party of "No." Maybe he missed it, but they are called the Libertarian Party. Get to work John.

* John McCain and Lindsey Graham have both become critical of the movement to the far right of the Republican Party, as pundits push away from the moderates and toward the extremes. While Rush, Beck, Palin, and O'Reilly push to the far right and extremes, the GOP continues to believe the far right is the overwhelming majority, something elections have disproven for quite a while.

The right lost its credibility in about 2005 under President Bush and never got it back. In the last election, it was their lies that lost the 2008 election as much as President Obama won it. They proclaimed that President Obama was radical, was socialist or communist, was a radical black nationalist, anti-American, etc., and as people listened to President Obama, it simply wasn't true. After a while, the lies just had no impact anymore.

The right has now deluded themselves into believing that the far right is the norm. Social Movements, what political parties are essentially, never get larger by playing to the zealots. That is just historically true. Someone ought to remind the GOP of that if they are to have any hope of rebuilding their party.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

U.S. Chamber of Commerce must Face its Fears

The latest United States Chamber of Commerce actions and responses is sending a clear signal on the just how far behind America is on the debate of Climate Change and responding to it. Wednesday saw shoe giant Nike walk away from its position on the Board of Directors over the decision of the Chamber to challenge the Environmental Protection Agency and all legislation over climate change initiatives.

Nike isn't alone in its opposition to the Chamber's stance on climate change, where the Chamber has demanded a "scopes monkey trial" on the science of climate change, later to reverse its decision as a "mistake." The largest electric company in the U.S., Exelon, joined Pacific Gas & Electric, and PNM Resources in their refusal to renew their memberships in the 97 year old "voice of business" this year. What does it say when the power companies who would be hurt most by environmental regulation lead the way in advocating it?

America has long hesitated in accepting regulations over the environment in favor of oil and energy companies dating back decades, but it finds itself behind in innovations for the energy future of the world despite having invented many of the technologies now being utilized or developed globally. Energy companies are starting to realize that they will be so far behind the world in efficiency that they will lose money in the long run.

Good business models often view businesses as seeing market opportunities and utilizing them as ways to move forward. American businesses for the last few decades have been stifling innovation, resting on profits on decades old technology in many areas, allowing the world to get generations ahead of us in civilian technologies, and then begging for help later. The politicians are left with a choice of letting them fail and letting Americans go unemployed and the foundation of the American economy die, or bailing them out to preserve jobs for those who suffer most from their failure to look forward: the workers.

There is a reason why companies like Wal-mart and Nike are industry leaders: they attempt to move forward to not simply stay ahead of the competition but to dominate their fields by being the best at what they do. While their labor practices may not be great, the decision by Wal-mart to make all stores that would provide their own energy through alternatives wherever possible was a decision that made business sense and put rivals behind the eight ball in the long run as they had to pay for energy bills that Wal-mart wouldn't face, and they would be closed in blackouts that Wal-mart would never see.

Nike's decision to design shoes around artist visions and personal creativity first instead of basic shoe design moved the personality of athletic shoes leaps and bounds ahead that the rest of the industry has never recovered from. Their pushing of technology has given them a marketing boost and most professional athlete endorsements.

It is this kind of thinking ahead, this kind of looking to be better than the rest of the industry, this kind of planning beyond today that has made them industry leaders for the foreseeable future. Someday, the sun may set on their leadership, but the pattern of behavior is what has set all leading companies apart from the mediocre: anticipate a niche in the future, and fill it; anticipate problems arising as Southwest did with oil prices, and address it in creative and smart ways; and to see the future and take advantage of it as Microsoft did with computers and the need for an operating system.

It is time for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to take its head out of the sand and as the "voice of business," maybe it should stop shouting the fears of business and start reminding its members that they should lead innovation and change, not fear it if they are to be successful business leaders of tomorrow instead of the leaders of yesterday. Exelon gets it. PG&E gets it. Nike gets it.

Just do it.