Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Health Care reform still not popular as a package, but components are...

Results from the latest Kaiser Health Tracking Poll.

The Affordable Care Act is still not very popular, yet broken into its component parts, the individual parts are viewed favorably. The article looks at the current public perception of the ACA, with some very interesting findings.

Bottom line is public opinion hasn't changed very much since the Bill was signed into law. Also, the public has several clear misunderstandings on what the law does and does not do.

I've said it before but it bears repeating. The marketing job of this legislation was pathetic. The education of the American public has essentially failed, on a grand level. The blame falls mostly on the Obama Administration, with lesser blame at the feet of conservative media, which has led a very successful campaign of negative and fearful coverage.


Pike church takes stand against interracial couples | Faith & Values |

Pike church takes stand against interracial couples | Faith & Values |

Amazing story...

Michigan Senate Does the Right Thing Re: Anti-Bullying Law...

The good people in the Michigan State Senate have agreed to drop their anti-bullying Bill and adopt the House version. I wrote back on November 11th, 2011 about this. The controversy was the Republican controlled Senate's version which included language that some called a "license to bully." The phrase "sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction" was interpreted by some as problematic, to the point of possibly permitting some harassment by teachers and/or students.

As I said then, I think both Parties played politics with this, which is pitiful. I suspect the American Family Association of Michigan will not be pleased, but overall, a good thing has been done.

"Matt's Safe School Law" will now proceed to the Governor Rick Snyder's desk for signature.

No need to review all the points made in the original post, please go back and review them if you wish.


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

And Now a Word from Newt Gingrich and a friend...

Just seemed like time to post this:


Cain is Not Able...

Cain is Not Able...

Herman Cain has a problem.

So far, through all the various accusations brought forth by various women, he's denied, denied, denied any wrong-doing. Its a strategy that appears to have mostly worked. His campaign is still operational, but clearly viewed in a  worse light than six weeks ago. He's dipped in most of the national polls, but I think that's more attributable to his 9-9-9 economic policy, which independent evaluations have concluded would be quite tough on the poor. There's also concerns that Congress could too easily increase his 9% National Sales Tax and we'd wind up in a situation like Europe sees with theirs. (Started low, but grew over time...) His decline in the polls has also been exacerbated by his recent interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, where his responses to a fairly straightforward question on Libya were perplexing to say the least. He also canceled a scheduled sit-down with New Hampshire's largest newspaper, the New Hampshire Union Leader, earlier this month, after the Sentinel interview was released, which looked terrible. (Newt Gingrich has won the paper's much sought after endorsement.)

Now another woman, Ginger White of Atlanta, has come forward to an Atlanta television station with an allegation that she and Mr. Cain had a 14 year affair. Ms. White, according to WAGA, also provided telephone records that showed calls and texts from Cain's private cell phone number. Several of them. Actually, a lot of them over the last four months. 61 total calls or text messages over a roughly 120 day span, which is an average of 1 every other day. Mr. Cain admits to knowing Ginger White and claims he had been trying to help her with finding a job.

Is he telling the truth? I don't know, but the saying where's there's smoke, there's fire comes to mind. With as busy as you'd expect a guy who's running for President of the United States to be, I would think an issue like finding someone else a job would fall to the back burner.

Cain appeared yesterday afternoon on CNN and in an interview with Wolf Blitzer, claimed to know the accuser, describing her as a acquaintance and a friend. He denied any suggestion of an affair. "I did not have an affair" Cain said.

Cain's attorney, Lin Wood, released a statement from the campaign after the interview:

"This is not an accusation of harassment in the workplace -- this is not an accusation of an assault -- which are subject matters of legitimate inquiry to a political candidate," he said. "Rather, this appears to be an accusation of private, alleged consensual conduct between adults -- a subject matter which is not a proper subject of inquiry by the media or the public."

"No individual, whether a private citizen, a candidate for public office or a public official, should be questioned about his or her private sexual life," Wood said. "The public's right to know and the media's right to report has boundaries and most certainly those boundaries end outside of one's bedroom door."

The statement was confusing in that it basically suggests this isn't anyone's business, yet moments before its release, Mr. Cain appeared on national television and was quite willing to discuss it with Blitzer. Clearly they weren't on the same page so yet again the campaign looks disorganized, incompetent and amateurish. As news of the telephone records spreads, this makes things rough for the campaign to move on. He either has to find a way to discredit the telephone company's records quickly or convince us that, perhaps someone else was using his cell phone to communicate with Ms. White.

That will not be easy.

Is it time for Herman Cain to step away from the campaign? Probably. Even without this latest scandal, Cain was going to have an uphill fight. I think the cream is rising to the top of the GOP field and the notion that a lifelong businessman, who has never held office, could bring down both a former Governor of Massachusetts and long-time businessman in Mitt Romney and the current shooting star, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich is highly unlikely to me. Romney and Gingrich have been through many, many political races and wars.

Another issue that may suggest Cain should quit is fundraising. In the 3rd quarter reports, Cain came in fifth with  a reported $2.8 Million dollars in contributions. Rick Perry reported a whopping 17 Million in fundraising,  Mitt Romney 14 Million, Ron Paul 3.8M and Michelle Bachmann 4.1M. Cain's figure also includes a personal loan to the campaign from the candidate himself for $175,000.

The Cain campaign reported an increase in campaign donations after the first wave of allegations of sexual misconduct/affairs/etc. How this latest accusation will effect fundraising remains to be seen. I think there's a limit to the generosity of supporters, especially when this latest matter matures in the media. It's less than 24 hours old, so the non-stop news cycles still have a way to go before they tire of it. If the phone records aren't proven wrong quickly, the media pressure will only build.

I wrote a column back in June about New York Congressman Anthony Weiner. The gist of which was that he should resign sooner rather than later to minimize the harm his personal scandal was causing the Democratic Party, especially in New York state. My reasoning was that Weiner was held in high regard by many in the upper circles of Democrat politics. There were suggestions that Weiner could win the mayoral contest in New York City if he so desired. If he played ball and left office. Go dark for a while. Let things settle down, work on his image and potentially return to open arms in a few years. Refuse and he did so at his own professional peril.

I think Herman Cain should seriously consider dropping out of the race for many of the same reasons.

He made a favorable impression in his first foray on the national political stage. There's plenty there to work with and if he's willing to do what former Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin wasn't, (educate one's self on the various weak links in their policy arsenals), Cain could emerge again in the future and be a  factor once again. One drawback is his age. Herman Cain will be five weeks short of sixty-six when the next Presidential election is held. Which means he would be 70 if he wanted to run for POTUS once more. That's unlikely, I admit. However, lessor positions, in a new Republican controlled Administration would be possible as soon as early 2013. (Secretary of Commerce, anyone?) His usefullness to his Party is on very shaky ground at this moment.

Its difficult to build a convincing argument where Cain runs the gauntlet and wins the Party nomination next summer. If you can't see a clear path to victory, then stepping away is a legitimate plan. The intensity of scrutiny factor diminishes rapidly should he leave the race. Not entirely, mind you, but if you're not in the race, the interest in you goes way down. Whatever shot he had at the beginning was probably sunk before he even declared his candidacy. Cain had to know there were these figures in his past that people would eventually dig up and report on. The Press is too expert at investigating public figures these days to not find out parts of a life Cain didn't want to deal with. If he thought they wouldn't find them, then he's fatally naive.

Profoundly naive.


Monday, November 28, 2011

Newt Gingrich Inc.: How the GOP hopeful went from political flameout to fortune - The Washington Post

Newt Gingrich Inc.: How the GOP hopeful went from political flameout to fortune - The Washington Post:

Great article on how Newt Gingrich went from Lazarus to the top group of Republican hopefuls. A story of reinvention.

GOP Debate Schedule for December...

GOP Debate Schedule for December...

The month of December has two GOP debates on the schedule. After a busy November which see the Republican hopefuls get together five times over just seventeen days, things slow down as we approach the Christmas Holiday. Consider it a breather before a very busy January which sees a total of six debates over nineteen days.

The first will be held on Saturday, December 10th at 9:00pm at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. It is co-sponsored by ABC News, ABC-5/WOI-DT, The Des Moines Register and the Republican Party of Iowa.

The other debate in December is scheduled for Thursday, December 15th at 9:00pm at the Sioux City Convention Center in Sioux City, Iowa. It is sponsored by Fox News and the Republican Party of Iowa.

Once we hit 2012, we start seeing the various State Caucuses and Primaries taking place. In January, kicking things off, will be the first four:

January 3rd - Iowa Caucus
January 10th - New Hampshire Primary
January 21st - South Carolina
January 31st - Florida

February has six votes planned, with twenty scheduled for March. At that point, 30 of 50 Republican Caucuses/Primaries will have been held and we'll be well on our way to knowing who the GOP nomination for president will be come next November.

What is the difference you ask between a Caucus and a State Primary? Let's ask

"In presidential campaigns, a caucus is a system of local gatherings where voters decide which candidate to support and select delegates for nominating conventions. A primary is a statewide voting process in which voters cast secret ballots for their preferred candidates."

For more detailed info, please click through...


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Blogging will be light for another day or so....

Taking some time off with the family and working on quite a bit of Holiday music. RC will be back up and running probably by Tuesday or Wednesday. Not a prolonged absence, just a few days to be with loved ones and prepare for my Holiday performances...


Friday, November 25, 2011


Guess I wasn't the only guy out there that missed President Obama's Thanksgiving Proclamation that included references to God...

While the remarks made for that day did not include God, his official proclamation a few days earlier, did. If you report that Obama left out God from the remarks made on the actual Holiday, it does warrant mentioning that his earlier proclamation did include it.

HUFFPO  did not mention it....

Nor did Gawker....

Calamaties of Nature for November 25, 2011

Our Thanksgiving Week edition:

(Click on image to enlarge)

See more smart humor at Calamities of Nature

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Mea Culpa, mea culpa, mea culpa....

President Obama, sometimes his own worst enemy...

Look harder next time, will you?

UPDATE: Below is a fairly extensive post that cites every President's Thanksgiving Day proclamation since Abraham Lincoln made it official in 1863. Also, at the end, is a fairly short commentary where I take President Obama to task for not referencing God in his remarks. Buzzing around the internet this evening were reports that Obama had offended many by not including God in his weekly address.

I searched the White House website for this year's proclamation and didn't see it in my first sweep. I compared, unfairly I should add, Obama's weekly address with other's proclamations. Turns out that President Obama did include references to God in his Thanksgiving Day Proclamation.

 As we gather in our communities and in our homes, around the table or near the hearth, we give thanks to each other and to God for the many kindnesses and comforts that grace our lives.  Let us pause to recount the simple gifts that sustain us, and resolve to pay them forward in the year to come.

The Original post is still intact below, but my entire premise is shot. I should've looked harder for his proclamation. I just missed it...

Mea Culpa...


Since George Washington, United States Presidents offered remarks of thanksgiving at various points of their tenure in office. President Abraham Lincoln officially began our annual Thanksgiving Day celebration in late November 1863 with a proclamation making it a Federal Holiday.

An excerpt from Lincoln's Proclamation:

"I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union."

Typically, all Presidents since Lincoln have offered up remarks or a proclamation toward Thanksgiving. Usually, they also include a reference to God within those remarks. Here's a snippet from each POTUS since old Abe's...

Ulysses S Grant, 1869: 

Therefore I, Ulysses S. Grant, President of the United States, do recommend that Thursday, the 18th day of November next, be observed as a day of thanksgiving and of praise and of prayer to Almighty God, the creator and the ruler of the universe; and I do further recommend to all the people of the United States to assemble on that day in their accustomed places of public worship and to unite in the homage and praise due to the bountiful Father of All Mercies and in fervent prayer for the continuance of the manifold blessings he has vouchsafed to us as a people...
Rutherford B.Hayes, 1877: 

Under a sense of these infinite obligations to the Great Ruler of Times and Seasons and Events, let us humbly ascribe it to our own faults and frailties if in any degree that perfect concord and happiness, peace and justice, which such great mercies should diffuse through the hearts and lives of our people do not altogether and always and everywhere prevail. Let us with one spirit and with one voice lift up praise and thanksgiving to God for His manifold goodness to our land, His manifest care for our nation.

Chester Arthur, 1881:

I, Chester A. Arthur, President of the United States, do recommend that all the people observe Thursday, the 24th day of November instant, as a day of national thanksgiving and prayer, by ceasing, so far as may be, from their secular labors and meeting in their several places of worship, there to join in ascribing honor and praise to Almighty God, whose goodness has been so manifest in our history and in our lives, and offering earnest prayers that His bounties may continue to us and to our children.

Grover Cleveland, 1888:

"The American people have always abundant cause to be thankful to Almighty God, whose watchful care and guiding hand have been manifested in every stage of their national life, guarding and protecting them in time of peril and safely leading them in the hour of darkness and of danger...It is fitting and proper that a nation thus favored should on one day in every year, for that purpose especially appointed, publicly acknowledge the goodness of God and return thanks to Him for all His gracious gifts."

Benjamin J. Harrison, 1889:

A highly favored people, mindful of their dependence on the bounty of Divine Providence, should seek fitting occasion to testify gratitude and ascribe praise to Him who is the author of their many blessings. It behooves us, then, to look back with thankful hearts over the past year and bless God for His infinite mercy in vouchsafing to our land enduring peace, to our people freedom from pestilence and famine, to our husbandmen abundant harvests, and to them that labor a recompense of their toil.

William McKinley, 1897: 

In remembrance of God's goodness to us during the past year, which has been so abundant, "let us offer unto Him our thanksgiving and pay our vows unto the Most High." Under His watchful providence industry has prospered, the conditions of labor have been improved, the rewards of the husbandman have been increased, and the comforts of our homes multiplied. His mighty hand has preserved peace and protected the nation. Respect for law and order has been strengthened, love of free institutions cherished, and all sections of our beloved country brought into closer bonds of fraternal regard and generous cooperation.

Theodore Roosevelt, 1901: 

The season is nigh when, according to the time-hallowed custom of our people, the President appoints a day as the especial occasion for praise and thanksgiving to God...Now, Therefore, I, Theodore Roosevelt,President of the United States, do hereby designate as a day of general thanksgiving Thursday, the 28th of this present November, and do recommend that throughout the land the people cease from their wonted occupations, and at their several homes and places of worship reverently thank the Giver of all good for the countless blessings of our national life.

William Howard Taft, 1909:

It is altogether fitting that we should humbly and gratefully acknowledge the Divine source of these blessings. Therefore,I hereby appoint Thursday, the twenty-fifth day of November, as a day of general thanksgiving, and I call upon the people on that day, laying aside their usual vocations, to repair to their churches and unite in appropriate services of praise and thanks to Almighty God.

Woodrow Wilson, 1913:

The season is at hand in which it has been our long respected custom as a people to turn in praise and thanksgiving to Almighty God for his manifold mercies and blessings to us as a nation. The year that has just passed has been marked in a peculiar degree by manifestations of His gracious and beneficent providence.

Warren G. Harding, 1921: 

The season is at hand in which it has been our long respected custom as a people to turn in praise and thanksgiving to Almighty God for his manifold mercies and blessings to us as a nation. The year that has just passed has been marked in a peculiar degree by manifestations of His gracious and beneficent providence.

Calvin Coolidge, 1923: 

Wherefore, I, Calvin Coolidge,President of the United States, do hereby fix and designate Thursday, the twenty-ninth day of November, as Thanksgiving Day, and recommend its general observance throughout the land. It is urged that the people, gathering in their homes and their usual places of worship, give expression to their gratitude for the benefits and blessings that a gracious Providence has bestowed upon them, and seek the guidance of Almighty God, that they may deserve a continuance of His favor.

Herbert Hoover, 1929:

Now, Therefore, I, Herbert Hoover,President of the United States of America, do appoint and set aside Thursday, the twenty-eighth day of November, as a day of National Thanksgiving, and do recommend that all our people on that day rest from their daily work that they should extend to others less fortunately placed, a share in their abundance, and that they gather at their accustomed places of worship, there to render up thanks to Almighty God for His many blessings upon them, for his forbearance and goodness.

Franklin D. Roosevelt. 1933:

I, Franklin D. Roosevelt,President of the United States of America, do set aside and appoint Thursday, the thirtieth day of November, 1933, to be a Day of Thanksgiving for all our people. May we on that day in our churches and in our homes give humble thanks for the blessings bestowed upon us during the year past by Almighty God.

Harry S. Truman, 1945:

Now, Therefore, I, Harry S. Truman,President of the United States of America, in consonance with the joint resolution of Congress approved December 26, 1941, do hereby proclaim Thursday November 22, 1945, as a day of national thanksgiving. May we on that day, in our homes and in our places of worship, individually and as groups, express our humble thanks to Almighty God for the abundance of our blessings and may we on that occasion rededicate ourselves to those high principles of citizenship for which so many splendid Americans have recently given all.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1953:

As a nation much blessed, we feel impelled at harvest time to follow the tradition handed down by our Pilgrim Fathers of pausing from our labors for one day to render thanks to Almighty God for His bounties. Now that the year is drawing to a close, once again it is fitting that we incline our thoughts to His mercies and offer to Him our special prayers of gratitude.

John F. Kennedy, 1961:

"It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord."

Lyndon Baines Johnson, 1963:

"...let us gather in our homes and in our places of worship and in other suitable places to give thanks to God for His graciousness and His generosity to us-to pledge to Him our everlasting devotion-to beseech His divine guidance and the wisdom and strength to recognize and follow that guidance--and to pray to Him that the forces of evil, violence, indifference, intolerance, and inhumanity may soon vanish from the face of the earth and that peace, reason, understanding, and goodwill may reign supreme throughout the world."

Richard M. Nixon, 1969:

Throughout our history, Americans have celebrated this day in both a spiritual and festive fashion, rejoicing in the blessings bestowed upon them by our Creator.

Gerald Ford, 1974: 

It is a time when the differences of a diverse people are forgotten and all Americans join in giving thanks to God for the blessings we share - the blessings of freedom, opportunity and abundance that make America so unique.

Jimmy Carter, 1979:

Now, Therefore, I, Jimmy Carter,President of the United States of America, do proclaim Thursday, the 22nd of November, 1979 as Thanksgiving Day. I ask all Americans to give thanks on that day for the blessings Almighty God has bestowed upon us, and seek to be good stewards of what we have received.

Ronald Reagan, 1981: 

As we celebrate Thanksgiving in 1981, we should reflect on the full meaning of this day as we enjoy the fellowship that is so much a part of the holiday festivities. Searching our hearts, we should ask what we can do as individuals to demonstrate our gratitude to God for all He has done. Such reflection can only add to the significance of this precious day of remembrance.

George H.W. Bush, 1989:

Now, Therefore, I, George Bush,President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim Thursday, November 23, 1989, as a National Day of Thanksgiving, and I call upon the American people to gather together in homes and places of worship on that day of thanks to affirm by their prayers and their gratitude the many blessings God has bestowed upon us and our Nation.

Bill Clinton, 1994:

On Thanksgiving Day, we set aside our daily routines to acknowledge the bounty and mercy of Divine Providence.

George W. Bush, 2001: 

As we recover from the terrible tragedies of September 11, Americans of every belief and heritage give thanks to God for the many blessings we enjoy as a free, faithful, and fair-minded land.

Barack Obama, 2010: 

As we stand at the close of one year and look to the promise of the next, we lift up our hearts in gratitude to God for our many blessings, for one another, and for our Nation...As Americans gather for the time-honored Thanksgiving Day meal, let us rejoice in the abundance that graces our tables, in the simple gifts that mark our days, in the loved ones who enrich our lives, and in the gifts of a gracious God.


I found just three Thanksgiving Day remarks by all the Presidents since Lincoln that did NOT include a direct reference to God. Richard Nixon in 1969, Jimmy Carter in 1978 and now, Barack Obama in 2011.

Given the tenuous position Mr. Obama currently calls his own in the polls, it would not seem to be prudent to take such a road less traveled, with regard to using a reference to God in your Thanksgiving Day remarks. Adding a short line or two would not have detracted from your main message whatsoever, and would prevented the media frenzy that is beginning to grow.

This is a small thing. I just can't see how you felt this was the wise way to handle this. Its small, yes...but clumsy. Don't give your opponents something so delightfully easy to skew you with.

I've said this before about President Obama and I'll said it again. He must knock off the silly stuff if he hopes to get re-elected in 2012. This was self inflicted and totally unnecessary.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

GOP Power Rankings 11/22/11...

GOP Power Rankings 11/22/11...

Romney still the guy to beat, field reshuffling every few weeks...

It's less than a year until we go to the polls and vote for the next President of the Unites States. Heading into the debates former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney was considered the front runner by most pundits. Today, after about a dozen GOP debates, I say Romney is still the prohibitive favorite to secure his party's nomination next Summer. Others in the Republican field have had their moments in the spotlight. Michelle  Bachmann winning the Iowa straw poll last August. Rick Perry declaring at the same time and garnering much attention when he did so. Herman Cain riding his charm and his 9-9-9 economic plan to early success earlier this Fall. Others have not had their "moment" yet. Rick Santorum and John Huntsman have avoided large glaring gaffs, but have not gained any serious traction as of yet. The two oldest GOP hopefuls, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul have each taken their own paths to where they stand today. Paul, with support a foot wide but a mile deep has held fast to his ideals. Gingrich, with his rather inauspicious first few months in the campaign, battled regrettable utterances on Meet The Press about the Ryan Budget Plan, saw his staff quit on him and had to fend off a mostly bullshit thing about his Tiffany's account. Both are interesting men and terribly flawed candidates.

Romney find himself atop this issue of the power rankings for a few reasons. First, he's the best debater of the bunch except for possibly Gingrich. Secondly, with one exception, he's emerged from every debate without a scratch. He's prepared, he's relaxed and he's avoided any significant blunders. Bachmann quickly proved she couldn't sustain her success in Iowa. Perry has had terrible debates and has accordingly, paid a high price in the GOP polls. Herman Cain was flying high until his competitors and outside think-tanks shot his 9-9-9 economic plan full of holes and he was accused of having sexually harassed several former employees/associates from his National Restaurant Association days. The Cain train has slowed a tad, and its unsure if he can reverse the trend before irreversible damage is done to his campaign. Of the other, Gingrich is rising, but the rest of the bunch seem mired in the lower ranges of the field right now.

This weeks Power Rankings: 

1. Mitt Romney-The front-runner...
2. Newt Gingrich-Let's call him Lazarus, ok?
3. Ron Paul-Perhaps the most principled name on this list...
4. Herman Cain-Welcome to the big leagues, Mr. Cain...
5. John Huntsman-Has moments of high appeal, but then...fizzles...
6. Rick Perry-Hasn't come close to living up to his billing...
7. Rick Santorum-Targeting the far Right of the Conservative electorate, small upside...
8. Michelle Bachmann-Seems utterly outclassed by the rest of the field on most issues...

NOTE: We're taking a different approach with our rankings at this time. From a healthy early lead, Romney is so far ahead on the cumulative score its pointless to continue that. From now on, I'll simply rank the candidates how I see them at this time. Giving the most credence toward elect-ability, but also factoring in other more fluid attributes like current issues/events, finances, etc.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Christmas Trees at White House? You betcha...

From Facebook:

It was announced that there will not be Christmas trees at the White house this year. They will be called Holiday Trees. Obama says this is no longer a Christian Country, it's a country of many faiths. We as Americans must send the message to Obama that this Country was founded on Christian beliefs and we are STILL a Christian Country. Please re-post this and let's stand up for CHRIST!!

For Christ's sake, this is an old rumor that has been debunked back in 2009 by the good folks over at 

To my friends and relatives that like to post unsubstantiated claims like this, I wish you'd stop. I feel bad for you when less than 10 seconds of research can blow these wild sounding claims right out of the water. There are plenty of legit reasons to dislike the President. You look a little foolish when you just make stuff up or worse yet, pass it along without checking anything...

Merry Christmas!


Freedom of Speech Just Sucks Sometimes, eh?

Freedom of Speech Just Sucks Sometimes, eh?

I've seen this post lately making the rounds on Facebook:

So the US Supreme Court has ruled that you have the right to protest military funerals. I invite you to start your protest in my front yard, and we can see If your First Amendment right is better than my Second Amendment right. Re-post If you're a vet, love a vet, or just support vets!

That was a ruling from the United States Supreme Court back in March. Why a post like this is suddenly making the rounds on Facebook, I don't know. I don't take it literally and don't think anyone should either. Its a not so clever play on the Amendments. I think its trite. 

Before someone starts to think that I somehow supported the Westboro Baptist Church protesting Military Funerals, slow down. I do not support that church or its apparent mission to protest at funerals all across the land that involve US servicemen. 


I'm not very keen on Churches in the first place, but these guys are way off the beaten path. I find them disgusting, un-American and unlike most Christians I ever met. I'm glad that most people look at them as fools or a cult like organisation. This piece isn't about me trying to defend their message. 

What I find interesting is that the people that are posting it to their status updates on FB are doing so, I imagine out of a sense of support for Veterans, the Military, etc. Which is fine. I've said before I don't think Facebook is the best place to honor someone's military service, but for this post, let's look past that, ok?

The Military historically fights to preserve and protect our freedoms. Yes, there's other reason usually involved, but the overarching justification for the armed services is to protect us. We've all heard countless times that those soldiers died in battle so we could live free. Or some variation thereof. One of those freedoms what the first Amendment touches on. The Freedom of Speech. 

The Supreme Court ruled 8-1 on the case that Westboro had a right to express its speech, regardless of its sickening message. Chief Justice John Roberts said, "Westboro believes that America is morally flawed; many Americans might feel the same about Westboro. Westboro's funeral picketing is certainly hurtful and its contribution to public discourse may be negligible," he said. However, "As a nation we have chosen a different course -- to protect even hurtful speech on public issues to ensure that we do not stifle public debate."

Doesn't sound like the Court wasn't jumping up and own in joy over its decision. If it had voted against Westboro, our Constitution would've taken a pretty big hit. The irony of the facebook post is that these people who are so supportive of servicemen, if they'd received a favorable vote, would be applauding a weakening of one of our first Amendment rights, which thousands of fallen soldiers died trying to, indirectly, protect. 

Yes, protect for assholes like the Westboro Baptist Church. 

We don't want to let anyone detract from our freedoms, certainly not a motley crew like Fred Phelps and his lot...


Saturday, November 19, 2011

150th Anniversary of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address...

150th Anniversary of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address...

(Note: My annual tribute to Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, originally posted in 2011...)

Today marks one of the most memorable speeches ever given by an American President. One hundred and forty eight years ago, President Abraham Lincoln gave remarks at the dedication of the National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Lincoln was not the keynote speaker of the day, that honor fell upon Edward Everett, who was a famous politician, educator and public speaker of the day.

Everett spoke for two hours before President Lincoln gave his address, which last about two minutes. Everett then famously sent Lincoln a note of admiration on his speech, "I should be glad if I could flatter myself that I came as near to the central idea of the occasion, in two hours, as you did in two minutes."

The text of the Gettysburg Address: 

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
A. Lincoln November 19, 1863

Actor Sam Waterston performing the Gettysburg Address...

The only known picture of President Lincoln at Gettysburg...

(Thanks to Tom Piselli for the reminder...)

NOTE: I've read several very good books about Abraham Lincoln over the last 18 months, here's my reading list...

Team Of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin
A. Lincoln - A biography by Ronald C. White
Bloody Crimes - The Funeral of Abraham Lincoln and the Chase for Jefferson Davis by James L. Swanson
Chasing Lincoln's Killer - by Robert Swanson
Manhunt - James Swanson


Thursday, November 17, 2011

2012 Presidential Candidates Quiz: Find Your Match

 Which Presidential candidate do you match up best with?

Take this twenty-five question survey to see which candidate aligns closest to your thoughts...

Take the quiz here...


My results:

Your matches:
Click a candidate to see his/her positions under the questions.
85% agreed
55% agreed
53% agreed
50% agreed
36% agreed
35% agreed
31% agreed
29% agreed
29% agreed
20% agreed

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Pew Budget Challenge - The Pew Charitable Trusts

The Pew Budget Challenge - The Pew Charitable Trusts:

Just saw this new Debt reduction calculator and it appears to be very detailed. Over 100 options in terms of spending/cutting options to reach a more manageable level of debt.

The Budget Super Committtee's deadline is approaching quickly and the reports on their ability to find common ground aren't very promising. Failure to agree on the necessary cuts will put the "trigger" into effect which then automatically takes a chunk out of military spending.

Calamaties of Nature for November 16, 2011

Let's graph Happiness and Intelligence....

See more smart graphs and comics at: Calamities of Nature

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Obama: America's once and future president - Opinion - Al Jazeera English

Obama: America's once and future president - Opinion - Al Jazeera English:

This sounds familiar...

The "Occupy" protests are failing, its time to regroup...

The "Occupy" protests are failing, its time to regroup...

On the third Saturday in September, the Occupy Wall Street movement began in Zuccotti Park in New York City. The basic goal was to, via mass protests, bring attention and hopefully fundamental change to how the financial industry, with its political mistresses of all ideological stripes does business.

The protests grew over the coming weeks, with some impressive numbers in various marches/encampments all around the Country. There's also been some participation in several cities around the world. The abuses of Wall Street and the buffoonish behavior of politicians and Presidents in dealing with said abuses leaves many of us feeling exploited, wronged and to some degree, generally screwed over.

The growing income disparity is real, not imagined and should be a topic for serious discussion and policy work.

The core issues are worthy of serious thought. The organisation or lack of it with these protests are leading to its failure. The sideshows of civil disobedience, outright law breaking and anti-social behavior are hurting the Occupy cause much more than helping it. All Occupy encampments should close up shop immediately, clean up your areas to match or exceed how they looked before you took those spaces over. While I certainly don't believe everything I see or read about the off the chain behavior of a few whack-jobs, someone in this movement needs to realize your message has been tainted terribly by the images and reports regarding many of these Occupy sites.

I say scrap the occupation mentality totally and come back next time with something a little smarter, a little more reasonable and a lot more accessible for most Americans to understand, support and condone.

Want to know why the Tea Party protests have been mostly without controversy and arrests? (No, its not Fox News and the Koch Brothers.) Its because, perhaps because of the ages involved, the Tea Party people didn't "take over" anything or anyplace for more than a few hours at a time. Usually, they left it looking in terrific shape. While I disagree with their politics, you can't blow that off as the wrong way to handle things. They were organised, they were civil, they were responsible, etc. I'm pretty sure if they'd misbehaved the way so many have at these Occupy locations, it would have been all over the "lame stream, liberal media," right? There were a few incidences here and there, but nothing approaching the levels we see with Occupy.

I think most people in mainstream America think the Occupiers are mostly young people in their 20's, hippies, vagrants, some union activists and troublemakers. While not fully or even mostly accurate, I think its what a lot of people think. You have to own that, too. Its a shame really, because if you'd not taken this approach, but perhaps something less invasive, I think the message would've resonated much more effectively.

It doesn't do the movement any good if people think those people behind the movement are the undersirables. Perception in this case isn't really reality, but for a lot of folks, it is. Most people aren't going to investigate to see for themselves. They're going to watch a 5 minute clip on the TV each night and make their opinions from that.

As I said, the cause and goals are very worthy. The tactics and strategies employed so far are creating a dangerous diversion to securing credibility and progress on the issues that need to be addressed. My progressive friends may feel I've assumed a traitorous stance, but I have not. I want there to be change at the intersection of politics and Wall Street. This just isn't how I feel it should be pursued.

Clean up, go home and figure out a different tact to use. You'll probably get one more kick at the can, but it better be a different looking, sounding and behaving effort. If it is, you may get the traction you want and need with mainstream America. If it isn't, you'll be written off as a bunch of whiny clowns.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Vouchers for Veterans, and Other Bad Ideas -

Vouchers for Veterans, and Other Bad Ideas -

Would Mitt Romney's plan to give veterans vouchers to buy private insurance really be better than what exists now?

Obama's 'Arab Problem' - Opinion - Al Jazeera English

Obama's 'Arab Problem' - Opinion - Al Jazeera English

Interesting write-up on President Obama's "Arab problem." It occurs to me that while each of the eight republican candidates consider freedom essentially a birthright, when Middle Eastern Countries pursue that same freedom, seven of them feel its a problem.

Its a problem, of course, because the GOP subscribes to a "better the devil you know" approach. As long as these former dictators didn't get too far out of line, we could count on them more or less, to play ball with the United States. We didn't seem too concerned how the citizenry of these countries felt about it. Now that several countries in that region have experienced some historic changes in leadership, Conservatives are suggesting that because those people have chosen freedom in their government, President Obama has put the US in danger.

Many are the same voices that criticized Obama for "leading from behind," where they apparently felt he wasn't doing enough to lead the charge towards regime change in that area.

Excluding Congressman Ron Paul, the seven other Republican candidates are all over the place. They want freedom all over the world, but not if it means Islam grows in official government capacities anywhere. They prattle on how freedom is worth fighting for, but then turn it into a cheap political punch line for campaign purposes. "Isn't freedom great?" They claim, but deride the choice of those in a different pat of the world who simply want to enjoy the same self determinism that our Country was built.

Its hypocritical and makes them look foolish.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Michelle Bachmann: Against child abuse, but not so much bullying?

Is this a reasonable disconnect from Mrs. Bachmann?

Michelle Bachmann:  NBC's Meet The Press, November 13, 2011 on the Penn State child sex abuse scandal...

"I think about my children -- if that was my child -- and I think my automatic reaction would be – even though I'm a small woman – I'd want to go find that guy and beat him to a pulp. I think that's what any parent would want to do when they think about their child."

Michelle Bachmann:  Minnesota State Legislature, 2006 commenting on anti-bullying legislation...

"I think for all of us, our experience in public schools is there have always been bullies," Bachmann said. "Always have been, always will be. I just don't know how we're ever going to get to the point of zero tolerance... What does it mean?... Will we be expecting boys to be girls?"


 In no way am I attempting to suggest that Michelle Bachmann is pro-bullying. She's not. However, she's always stood against anti-bullying legislation in Minnesota, but now says she'd want to beat to a pulp the guy that may have sexually abused many young boys at Penn State. 

 Sexual abuse of children isn't the same thing as bullying, but in both cases, children are being abused, hurt and scarred in both emotional and physical ways. I wish Mrs. Bachmann would take a fresh look at the anti-bullying subject. While the specifics of the abuse are very different, I think both should enjoy the vigorous protection by law that currently only one of the two scenarios above has in place. 


The weakness of the Republican field...

The weakness of the Republican field should be a concern to those Conservatives who are counting on Barack Obama being a one term President.

In about a year, we'll go to the polls and vote for the next President of the United States of America. Our current President, Barack Obama, is by many predictions facing no better than a 50/50 shot to serve another four years. Ask some Conservatives and they'll claim "Obama has no chance" to get re-elected. Citing the sluggish economy, unemployment still over 9%, and tepid support for the President's signature piece of legislation, healthcare's Affordable Care Act, it all adds up to an uphill climb for Mr. Obama. That is real, not imagined. Throw in Obama's approval ratings and you can easily make the case that enough Independents plus virtually ALL Conservatives will send a new person to Washington D. C. to serve as the Commander in Chief next November.

The "Change you can hope for" mantra is mostly retired these days. The fantasy that a relative new face on the national political scene could stroll into our Capital on the mojo from a stirring speech in Boston a few years prior, a sizzlingly efficient campaign for President, and a personal story like none other and fundamentally change how politics and/or the Government works has proven to be just that. A fantasy. Obama loses more than he wins. An obstructionist Congress, an inability to construct an attractive message for the US public on his goals and programs, etc. all add up to a less than stellar first four years and abounding doubt and uncertainty from all sides.

Progressives feel dissatisfied that Obama hasn't fought harder for their causes, while Conservatives feel that Obama is at the very least unqualified and ineffective and quite possibly a Socialist leaning nightmare trying to drag the USA into the European Union. Even with a super majority as he entered office back in 2008, Obama did not have the sway within his own party (probably due to his lack of experience and relationships within his party) to take full advantage. At no time more evident than during the health reform battle, the new President was not only battling Republicans every step of the way, but also Congressional Democrats from Louisiana to Nebraska who wanted/needed special deals to be able to support Obama's Health care reform. The whole process was clumsy and sucked most of the political capital he entered office with. Obama is not what you call popular. Polls suggest that most Americans think Obama is a good person, but not quite heading us in the right direction.

Eight Republicans are each making the case that they should represent the Grand Old Party next year to try and unseat President Obama. These are mostly candidates from the world of Politics. From a sitting Governor (Perry) to former Governors (Romney) to current Congressmen/women (Paul/Bachmann) to former Congressmen (Gingrich/Santorum) and a diplomat (Huntsman). The other candidate Herman Cain, former CEO of Godfathers Pizza, who has worked mostly in the private sector but has a long history of involvement with Government and politicians.

Lots of experience in that field. Which should, you'd think, play to the appetite of the electorate. "Sure, we liked Obama, but he just didn't know how to get things done..." This group of eight Conservatives know how Washington works and should provide Independents with an appealing option for those wanting change. Whoever emerges from this group should absolutely crush Obama in the next election, sending him back to Chicago, Hawaii or wherever the hell he comes from.

Easy, eh?

There's just one problem.

None of these eight folks seem to have that much appeal, at least so far, to the general public. In recent polls, the candidate most likely to represent Republicans, Mitt Romney is just about even with President Obama in head to head comparisons. No one else of that group of eight does as well as Romney does when compared to Obama. Which means whatever message that's being received from the GOP hopefuls isn't connecting with Independents. Maybe it will in time, most people aren't really paying attention yet, but it hasn't yet.

Romney should be the guy who takes down Obama. This, his second kick at the presidential can, seems to be progressing rather nicely and without any major problems. He's got truckloads of money, more endorsements than any other Republican has so far, and well, dammit-he looks Presidential, doesn't he? The debates seem to be no problem for the former Massachusetts Governor and even the presumed Achilles heel of his "RomneyCare" which served as a blueprint for Obamacare, hasn't seemed to be a poison pill. The biggest concern for Mitt Romney is that apparently many Conservatives don't find him Conservative enough. He's evolved a few positions over the years and hard liners dont' known if they can trust him. That's more of an issue during the primary season than it will be during the General Election. Is Romney as Conservative as Rick Santorum or Michelle Bachmann? No, but what will Conservatives do if Romney is what the Party puts up against Obama? Vote for the other guy? No way. They'll vote for Romney just to get Obama out of office and worry about the rest later.

"Anybody but Obama" is more than just a bumper sticker, trust me.

In the early days of this campaign, Michelle Bachmann stormed through Iowa and won the straw poll there as well. A Congresswoman from Minnesota, she is known for saying rather odd things at times and isn't well known outside of her State and hard core Conservative circles. Ridin' high she was, but that very same day Bachmann won in Iowa, another Conservative, a Governor from Texas named Rick Perry announced his candidacy for President. Whooosh, went Bachmann's energy. She's never been the same since. Gov. Perry, a late entry to the field, has not exactly delivered what he was expected to. With consistently poor, at times excruciatingly bad, performances in the debates so far, Perry numbers have dive-bombed as Bachmann did before him. Combine the debate debacles with some questionable policy stances, Mr. Perry doesn't seem to be nearly as attractive now that we know him than when we didn't.

Ron Paul, a long time Texas Congressman with strong Libertarian leanings has done so far, what everyone expected him to do. Less Government, smaller Military, less Foreign Aid (even to Israel), a more diplomatic approach to Iran, etc. Mr. Paul seems the most genuine of the pack. He has been saying the same message for a long, long time. He doesn't shape it to boost his poll numbers, which is honorable. His politics don't have a mainstream appeal within the Republican party, let alone across all Independents.

Newt Gingrich, the former Speaker of the House during the '90's, has had an up and down campaign. Early on, Gingrich made some inartful remarks towards Paul Ryan's budget plan which he then blamed on the media. Then there was a dustup about his credit account at Tiffany's. Then changes in his campaign staff produced rumors that he was about to drop out. Gingrich assumed a low profile and has enjoyed a resurgence of sorts over the last few weeks. Still a long shot, the former Speaker seems to have found a comfort zone over the last several debates, attacking alternately both President Obama and the Media, which are two very easy to swallow messages in Republican circles these days. Its very questionable this will lead to meaningful national approval among independents and Gingrich seems to represent the old guard to the modern voter.

Herman Cain, the businessman, produced a fresh, bold economic plan called 9-9-9. Criticized by many for being too hard on the poor, that idea has failed to give him the national traction he hoped for. The allegations of sexual harassment by several different women from Cain's professional past hasn't hurt him too badly in the court of public opinion...yet. Voters looking for a more experienced person to replace Obama probably don't find Cain's never holding elected office disconcerting. The Cain train may be charming and refreshing to some, but doesn't seem to have captured the imagination of the party, let alone the nation.

Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum has aggressively planted his flag to the right of just about everyone else in this group, but doesn't seem to be getting rewarded for his effort. Performing terribly in the polls, the Santorum campaign is running out of money and time.

Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman is running a very weird campaign. Despite being in New Hampshire with a promise to win that state's primary, Huntsman has maintained an oddly low profile in the State. For example, the Huntsman campaign has zero television advertising running in New Hampshire. For a nationally unknown candidate such as he, you'd expect a bigger media push, but there isn't one.

So, if its accepted that Romney will most likely be the guy to go up against President Obama, it will be a romp, right? Nope...

By having what I consider a weak GOP field, Romney isn't being pushed very hard at all. While he's easy to take, he's representative of the big corporate world, which is hardly a popular image these days. I'm not sure Romney excites anyone, either. Barack Obama, even after these lack-luster four years, still knows how to give a speech and raise money. Mitt Romney seems really good at not doing anything dumb to hurt his chances at becoming President next November. Conversely, President Obama is now very accustomed to being under attack, from all sides.

By lacking a more formidable opponent, Romney should slide right through to the nomination. Which sets up a Republican candidate who's barely had to sweat to secure his party's nod, against a sitting President, who has been under attack since day one. Can Romney turn it on when he needs to? Can he match Obama's debating skills, which are assured to be far more aggressive than anything the other Conservatives threw at Romney during the primaries?

I think if Tim Pawlenty had stayed around longer than he did, if Chris Christie, Sarah Palin, Mitch Daniels, etc. had participated in the primary fray with Romney overcoming all of them to secure the Republican Nomination, Obama would likely be toast. But they didn't.

If the economy comes back another 1.5% in the next 8 months, if unemployment falls under 8%, etc...Obama will have plenty of weapons in his arsenal to use against a mostly untried opponent in Mitt Romney. It will be anything but a slam dunk. As Obama cites his various victories, Republican obstructionism, etc. Romney will no longer get the kid glove treatment. It should be quite the show