Friday, September 23, 2011

Last Call

The NRA's Obama Derangement Syndrome has reached legendary proportions.

In the eyes of National Rifle Association (NRA) executive vice president Wayne LaPierre, President Barack Obama’s decision not to pursue gun control legislation is a “massive conspiracy,” and just another reason not to give him a second term.

“[The Obama campaign] will say gun owners — they’ll say they left them alone,” LaPierre told an audience at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) Friday. “In public, he’ll remind us that he’s put off calls from his party to renew the Clinton [assault weapons] ban, he hasn’t pushed for new gun control laws… The president will offer the Second Amendment lip service and hit the campaign trail saying he’s actually been good for the Second Amendment.”

“But it’s a big fat stinking lie!” the NRA leader exclaimed. “It’s all part of a massive Obama conspiracy to deceive voters and destroy the Second Amendment in our country.”

“Obama himself is no fool. So when he got elected, they concocted a scheme to stay away from the gun issue, lull gun owners to sleep and play us for fools in 2012. Well, gun owners are not fools and we are not fooled,” La Pierre declared. 

Obama's complete failure to magically materialize the massive, scary conspiracy to take guns away from Americans is really a clever trick to take guns away from Americans, much like the fact the sun hasn't exploded into a supernova and destroyed the Earth and all life on it yet is really proof that the evil daystar is just waiting until we let our guard down to immolate all of humanity.

In all honesty, no matter how you feel about the Second Amendment, Wayne LaPierre is just frigging embarrassing.  Obama Derangement Syndrome has been the NRA's best friend for years now, but this is borderline mental.

A Serious Power Drain

Well here's the problem with the housing depression:  millions of empty houses mean power and water companies aren't earning any revenue.

“These are homes that were getting bills, and now they aren’t,” said Chuck Caisley, a spokesman for Kansas City Power & Light, which has 725,000 residential customers in Missouri and Kansas.

Despite the decline in electricity usage, customers shouldn’t expect rates to drop. Rates are only partly set by supply and demand. Regulators approve rates for utilities that also cover such costs as adding power plants to meet future demand, costs that must be paid whether usage falls or not.

The latest real estate reports aren’t encouraging to utilities looking for demand to pick up again. A RealtyTrak survey released recently said foreclosure actions were down in August in Missouri but up 18 percent in Jackson County, which had the most foreclosure notices of any county in the state. Foreclosures were up in Kansas, and Johnson and Wyandotte were No. 2 and 3 among its counties, RealtyTrak said.

Moody’s Analytics, in a separate survey, tracks the number of properties that lenders have repossessed and now own. It found that the Kansas City area ranked 25th out of the 384 metropolitan areas it surveys. In the Kansas City area there are 16.3 such properties for every 1,000 households, a rate more than double the national average and nearly three times the Missouri figure, which is 5.8 per 1,000 households.

Utilities have already been crimped by the housing slowdown because of fewer new homes being built. The effect of foreclosures has been more difficult to quantify, and the number of properties standing empty often isn’t tallied by utilities, or isn’t broken out in reports. The effect, if any, is typically lumped under “economic conditions.”

Missouri Gas Energy, for example, hasn’t singled out foreclosures but suspected they were becoming a factor last fall when the utility had fewer reconnections of gas service for homes that had been previously disconnected.

The Board of Public Utilities in Kansas City, Kan., said it hadn’t noticed any additional impact from foreclosures lately but added that some parts of its service territory were economically depressed before the recession.

Across the country, however, there is general acknowledgement that foreclosures are playing a role.

And that means the rest of America will see rates continue to rise at a time when they can least afford increases.  Combine that with the couple trillion needed to repair our rapidly deteriorating water and power infrastructure and you have a recipe for Americans to see their power and water bills skyrocket and do so exponentially.

There's a reason why Republicans don't want government to pick up the tab for fixing it.  They want to charge us for it instead.

Shutdown Countdown: Here We Go Again, Part 2

A day after his "embarrassing defeat" Orange Julius managed to get his Tea Party problem under control less than 24 hours later and sent the Senate a budget bill that pays for disaster relief by cutting jobs programs, daring Harry Reid to reject it...

House Republicans closed ranks just after midnight on Friday morning, and passed legislation to avert a government shutdown at the end of the month. The vote tally was 219-203.

But the bill received almost no Democratic support and faces an uncertain future in the U.S. Senate because Republicans have used the funding bill as a vehicle for disaster relief money, and insisted it be paid for by slashing funds for jobs programs Democrats support. Dems say the GOP legislation provides insufficient aid, and sets a dangerous precedent by requiring those funds to be offset with partisan budget cuts.

"The bill the House will vote on tonight is not an honest effort at compromise," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) in a statement anticipating its passage. "It fails to provide the relief that our fellow Americans need as they struggle to rebuild their lives in the wake of floods, wildfires and hurricanes, and it will be rejected by the Senate."

A livid Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) told reporters Thursday night "We're fed up with this...we're sick of it, we're tired of it."

Nice guys, Republicans.  Not only do they continue to ignore the President's jobs legislation, they are trying to force Democrats to pay for disaster relief by slashing jobs programs.   The hostage taking nonsense continues, because Republicans don't want more jobs, they don't want the economy to improve, they want you to suffer and blame Obama so they win.

That's all that matters. 

This afternoon the Democrats in the Senate responded by rejecting the GOP disaster relief mess.

The Senate on Friday defeated by a vote of 59 to 36 a GOP-authored short-term funding measure designed to keep the government running through mid-November, ratcheting up the pressure on party leaders to resolve an impasse on federal disaster relief funds ahead of a deadline at the end of next week.

It remained unclear Friday afternoon how leaders in both chambers would resolve the stalemate.

Shortly after Friday’s vote, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced that the chamber would return Monday afternoon to vote on its own funding measure, a move that cuts into an already-scheduled week-long recess.

The House is also scheduled to recess next week, and House Republican leaders declined to say Friday morning whether they would call lawmakers back into session to continue work on the funding dispute.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency could run out of funding as early as Monday, and the resolution currently keeping the federal government open is set to expire on Sept. 30.

One week to go until shutdown.  You thought we had problems before?  Wait until the GOP blows up the government with the country on borderline recession...

Flash From The Past

Missouri isn't known for change or even for being remotely modern.  I think that is best illustrated by a few things our local news has brought to our attention lately:

A sudden upswing in cattle rustling.  Expected in hard times, but not quite what you expect to be happening in peaceful farm towns.  Not only that, but reports of summer gardens being raided and cellars robbed of canned goods have started to pop up from tiny to larger towns.  Yet another sign that people aren't eating enough.  An Amish community I am familiar with has started leaving food out for strangers in need.  Country folks go hungry first because they don't have nearly as many resources as their city cousins.  Some of our smaller communities are truly drying up and disappearing.

Bass Pro is under investigation for discrimination, racially more than sexual.  It would appear that in a corporation that size this wouldn't be allowed, and I am waiting on more facts before I dive in.  At a glance, it seems the management made harassing statements such as "it's getting a little dark in here" and a known problem particularly with treating black employees fairly.  I noticed the Springfield office got little mention in the investigation, which makes me feel a little better about living here.

Until this, that is.  Prime Trucking has also been investigated by the EEOC for discriminating against female drivers.  This is a problem I can vouch for.  I have known several women who have worked for Prime over the years, and they have always said it is a man's world and that male drivers and coworkers were given special treatment over women.

While I'm happy we have agencies watching out for that, I'm still a bit sad that they're necessary.  I'm not black, so I do understand there is an aspect to the complaints that I will never understand.  But I'm a woman and I can tell you firsthand it stinks to work harder and better than male coworkers and never get a raise.  Or in my case, get four promotions without a raise and managers I was in charge of making more than me because they pee standing up.

It's time to stop this.  If these businesses are found guilty, I hope they are nailed to the wall.

The Right To Vote In Ohio

As you read this story of Dems' crusade to stop the efforts by Ohio Republicans to roll back early voting days and eliminate absentee ballots, ask yourselves who benefits in a democracy when fewer people are allowed to vote.

As President Obama visits Ohio, his army of campaign volunteers there is engaged in a "make-or-break" fight to roll back Republican-imposed voting restrictions they say will limit critical support for the president ahead of Election Day 2012.

A new law, signed by Republican Gov. John Kasich in July, would shorten by two weeks the window for early voting by mail and in-person, eliminate early voting the three days before the election, and cease automatic mailing of absentee ballots to all registered voters in the state's largest counties, among other measures.

Democrats and Obama relied heavily on the extended early voting period to turn out support in 2008 and 2010. They are now fighting to save the system with a statewide petition campaign, driven largely by Obama's grassroots volunteers.

If they reach more than 231,300 signatures by the end of the month, the new law will remain on hold through the 2012 election, giving Obama an advantage headed into the campaign and allowing voters a chance to weigh in directly through a referendum.

If they don't get the signatures by Sept. 29, the law will immediately take effect, potentially hampering Democrats' efforts to turn out their vote.

"We're ahead of where we need to be," said Brian Rothenberg, who's leading the coalition of progressive groups fighting the change, "but it is very critical." 

So that's the difference between the parties:  one wants more people to vote, the other is doing everything they can to limit the vote.  No matter how you feel about the other issues before the American people today, under no circumstances should we allow such dangerous actions.

GOP Asks Harvard to Stop Paying Elizabeth Warren

The Massachusetts Republican Party is taking issue with Democrat Elizabeth Warren getting paid by Harvard University as she campaigns for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Scott Brown.

The Boston Globe reported that the GOP has asked Harvard to stop paying the law professor's salary, suggesting that doing so gives the impression that the Ivy League institution supports her candidacy.

So what, she can't be paid for doing her job? The article makes it clear that she has duties that she fufills, both in and out of the classroom. Mind you, they can't show that she has violated any policies, nor have they tried to prove any wrongdoing. They have just asked that they stop paying her.  The people who "grasp America's job situation better than Dems" don't seem to understand that she can hold a job while she campaigns.  And that it's legal.  Or maybe they do and are just trying a dirty blow, already angered that she isn't home barefoot and pregnant, dependent on her man for sustenance.

Jackass times infinity. A jackass so large that it has its own gravitational force, creating a jackass of such mass that no light or intelligence can escape its pull. 

The Big GOP Debate Thread

Pretty much everything you need to know about last night's FOX News Clown Car 2012 debate (yes, gods above and below ANOTHER ONE) was summed up by Rick Santorum's answer to a gay soldier on what he would do about DADT.  Dave Weigel:

On replay, Santorum's dismissivness is positively Dukakis-ian. A soldier in Iraq has just posed a question. Santorum's first response: "Yeah. I would say any type of sexual activity has no place." Jimmy LaSalvia of the gay Republican group GOProud (which has asked for Santorum to apologize) pointed out the political flub here.

"I don't care if you're running for dog-catcher," said LaSalvia. "If a soldier asks you a question, the first thing out of your mouth is: 'I thank you for your service.'"

The other issue: Santorum's answer was incoherent, especially after Megyn Kelly's smart follow-up. He would reinstate DADT, but "people like that" (in the video) wouldn't be thrown out. How, exactly? Would there be a special dispensation for gay men and women who came out from September 2011 to January 2013? Santorum doesn't say, and no serious candidate gets the question.

There's more and more discussion on conservative blogs about why, in a lackluster Republican field, Rick Santorum doesn't get taken more seriously. Here's one reason: The other candidates don't go through so many contortions when contemplating the privacy and humanity of their fellow Americans.

Also, the other candidates tend to hide their revulsion better at the notion that mighty America has gay soldiers.

Rick Santorum?  Not so much.  And no, none of these idiots are even remotely ready to actually govern the country.  Their entire plans start and stop with "Well I think I can beat Obama in an election next year" and that's it.

That's all they have.  That's all they ever have.

Broken Dreams, Broken Youth

A new study finds a quarter of kids under 6 are in poverty.  One in four.

The number of children living in poverty in the United States increased by 2.6 million since the recession began in 2007, bringing the total to an estimated 15.7 million poor children in 2010, according to researchers from the Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire.

The researchers estimate that nearly 1 in 4 children under the age of 6 now live in poverty.

Big cities and rural areas have the highest rates of poverty among young children. Thirty-one percent of children under age 6 in America’s cities and 30 percent of young children in rural areas are poor.
In contrast, 19 percent of young children living in the suburbs are poor.

"It is important to understand young child poverty specifically, as children who are poor before age 6 have been shown to experience educational deficits, and health problems, with effects that span the life course," the researchers said.

The report was based on the U.S. Census Bureau annual report on poverty, which outlined the dramatic decline in income and employment in the U.S. The definition of poverty was an annual income of $22,314 for a family of four, and $11,139 for a single person in 2010.

Republicans of course want to do everything they can to dismantle early childhood education and assistance.  If they grow up poor and lacking in basic needs then they are vulnerable.  And if they pretend all social programs are people gaming the system, then they vanish into a puff of indifference.

What poor people?  Not in the greatest country ever.

School's Back On In Tacoma

After 8 days, teachers in Tacoma, Washington have ended their strike and classes will resume today.

Teachers in Tacoma, Washington, have voted to end their eight-day strike, meaning classes will resume Friday for 28,000 students, Tacoma school district spokesman Dan Voelpel said.

A lawsuit that the school district had filed against the teachers' union will be dropped, Voelpel said.
A tentative agreement was reached Wednesday. Contract talks between the school district and union had fractured over teacher pay, class size and how educators are transferred between schools.

In the deal that teachers accepted Thursday, according to Voelpel, class sizes will remain the same (the union had pushed for smaller class sizes); teachers will not face a pay cut (the district to cut pay by 1.35%); and a joint committee appointed by the district and union will determine how teachers are transferred.

This is the power that Ohio, Wisconsin, and other states are desperate to permanently remove from America's workers, government or otherwise.  Republicans are doing everything they can to gut public schools, because an ignorant public is more pliable for their purposes. Teachers have to fight for class sizes in 2011. Incredible.

Never forget the real goal of any GOP action is always to further permanent GOP power at the expense of 99% of Americans.


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