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Archive for the ‘2012 elections’ Category

Ted Cruz must know about Canada before denouncing citizenship

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Thanks to the Dallas Morning News, Ted Cruz has “learned” that he has been a Canadian citizen for the last 43 years. And Cruz still doesn’t quite believe it.

And this from a sitting U.S. senator who has argued before the Supreme Court of the United States.

Cruz wants to run away from Canada by instantly renouncing his Canadian citizenship to seem “more American” in order to run for president in 2016, and he may not even be eligible for the highest office.

Fortunately, Cruz has to go through a process before renouncing the citizenship he has had since 1970. And that will give him time to learn more about Canada.

For example, does Cruz know that Canadians can visit Cuba freely and without government interference. So Cruz can use his Canadian passport to visit his father’s homeland (Cruz’s father fought for Fidel Castro, really). Cruz can also learn that the United States gets more oil from Canada than any other country (his parents were working in the oil industry in Canada when Cruz was born), and that the two countries are each other’s largest trading partner.

With more on Cruz and his desire to renounce his Canadian citizenship, enjoy this column from our sister blog,

Farm Bill split should lead to frank food stamps discussion

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Instead of being subtle about its hatred for food stamps, the GOP is being openly hostile by splitting food assistance away from the Farm Bill. But for too long, the combination of subsidies for rich farmers and food assistance has stifled the conversation about changing our food approach.

So to match the aggressiveness of the GOP, the Liberals and progressives and Democratic politicians should fight back to not only hang on to the current food assistance but also increase its effectiveness. Dems would also benefit with pointing out some of the side issues involved in food assistance, such as raising the minimum wage. When fast food workers can’t afford to eat, when people are working more than one job and are still having trouble, the food system is broken.

For more on this, check out the latest column from our sister blog,

Barack Obama calls for infrastructure fixes 4 years too late

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In 2009, Barack Obama inherited a situation with crumbling infrastructure and a lot of people out of work. In a 2+2=4 world, the logical step would be to take the people out of work and have them build up infrastructure. Even if everyone couldn’t do those skills, there were enough people who could, and if they had jobs, other jobs and businesses wouldn’t have fallen in 2009 and 2010.

In 2009, if CBS or any other broadcast network came out with a show idea about giving someone a job, that could have turned into the next “American Idol” or “The Voice” or “So you think your smart 5th grader has talent.”

In 2013, President Barack Obama, having been elected to a second term, has proposed a “Fix it First” to help rebuild infrastructure. Obama said 70,000 bridges were in need of repair, among countless problems. Jon Stewart thought the bridges were a rather immediate concern.

In 2013, CBS is running a show called “The Job” where they make people go through humiliation for a “dream job” such as being an editorial assistant at Cosmopolitan magazine. As the promo notes — “the employer has all the power” — a rather depressing and not altogether accurate statement.

This feels more about humiliation than help; Stephen Colbert put it best when he labeled the program despertainment.

“And with one hire per show, ‘The Job’ should run for 12.3 million episodes.”

In both cases, the feeling is “too little, way too late.” The difference is that Obama is being sincere and CBS, well, doesn’t look like they really want to help.

Our infrastructure still needs fixing as does our job market. So we can certainly use the help. One bridge and one job at a time is too little, but better than we have had lately.

Getting infrastructure improved and a jobs program requires help from the GOP, and that party isn’t interested. Nor are Republicans game for raising the minimum wage.

Republicans preach about the value of work, yet they aren’t willing to pay for it. The proposed raise to $9/hour wouldn’t be immediate. The minimum wage would go up incrementally over three years to $9. Even then, the minimum wage will be undervalued, worse if someone is a tipped employee.

Liberals joke that the GOP wants the world of “Leave It to Beaver” brought to life. If the minimum wage reflected buying power in 1957, the wage would be well beyond $9 right now.

The United States needs rebuilding, but the GOP doesn’t want to pay for it. Poor people need a raise, but the GOP doesn’t want to pay for it. The GOP wants people to get jobs, but won’t submit any plan to get those jobs.

The good news for the Republicans is that Barack Obama can’t run for president in 2016. So they might as well give Obama the chance to succeed or fail based on his requests. Don’t worry, Obama won’t get as much horrible stuff as you think he will, or anyone else for that matter.

We need help, but the GOP doesn’t want us to get that help. The GOP House controls the House. So as the saying goes, “Lead or get out of the way.”

Senate needs Mo Cowan, mo’ African Americans

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Someday, you can tell your grandchildren that you were alive when the Senate first had two African-Americans at the same time. Hopefully, your grandchildren will find that strange, since the Senate would be full of African-Americans.

U.S. senators of Hispanic descent haven’t had much trouble getting elected. Women also have an easy time getting in, though not nearly at the level that they exist in the real world. But having African-Americans in the Senate is still a gigantic hurdle.

When conservatives point out that black people have made it because Barack Obama was elected president, now twice, the United States has only had three elected African-American senators.

Mo Cowan is the newest senator, being appointed by Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (one of two total elected black state governors) to replace John Kerry, the new Secretary of State.

Cowan joins Tim Scott, appointed by South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley to replace Jim DeMint. Cowan will have a short stay in the Senate with the special election to fill the remainder of Kerry’s seat on June 25. Scott gets to stay at least until 2014, though Scott is likely to run again to keep the seat.

The only other African American to represent the Commonwealth of Massachusetts was one of the three elected senators. Edward Brooke held the seat as a Republican from 1967-1979. Our current president, Barack Obama, is one of the three to be elected. Carol Moseley Braun is the other elected senator, representing Illinois from 1993-1999.

Scott and Cowan join Roland Burris (D-IL) as appointed senators since Reconstruction.

The common political adage is that African Americans can win local races but not statewide races. After all, the Congressional Black Caucus proves that African-Americans can get elected to the House. Interestingly, Scott is the only one on the list who has served in the House of Representatives. Often, senators get elected out of the House.

3 elected senators, 2 elected governors — this isn’t progress. Appointing senators gives the power of incumbency, which can lead to re-election. Burris had no chance of winning re-election and Cowan is trapped in a scenario where running for the election isn’t viable.

Scott has a chance to be elected to his seat; if that happens and no other African Americans run and win in 2014, then he will be the fourth elected senator and the second Republican.

Obama became president by serving less than a term in the U.S. Senate, an unusual path regardless of race. Governors and senators run for president, yet very few of them are African American. At this pace, we’ll look back fondly on the just past Inauguration. We just saw the re-election of America’s first black president. It will be awhile before we see that again. maybe our grandchildren will tell a different story.

Massachusetts Dems should learn from GOP on Senate succession policy

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When Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-HI) died, the terms of succession fell to the governor who had to chose between three candidates supplies by the party of the senator.

When Sen. Craig Thomas (R-WY) died, the terms of succession fell to the governor who had to chose between three candidates supplies by the party of the senator.

In Hawaii and Wyoming, both governors happened to be from the same party as the senator in question. Those two states are likely to have that scenario of Democratic in Hawaii and Republican in Wyoming. The law is a good safeguard in case the circumstances change.

When the Massachusetts legislature changed the rule for senator succession, the Dems were trying to avoid having Mitt Romney pick a Republican to replace John Kerry. The Dems didn’t go the route of Hawaii, Wyoming, Arizona, and a number of other states. After all, when John McCain ran for president in 2008, a similar law was in place.

The Massachusetts Dems got victimized when Scott Brown won a special election against Martha Coakley for Ted Kennedy’s seat. And they could suffer the same kind of bite, ironically for John Kerry’s Senate seat.

The play by McCain, Lindsay Graham, Kelly Ayotte, and Joe Lieberman (behind the curtain) against Susan Rice was made to open up Kerry’s Senate seat. And it worked, at least in opening up the seat.

In the 2004 scenario, Gov. Romney would have had to pick a Democratic replacement. In 2009, Gov. Deval Patrick, a fellow Democratic politician, would have had to pick a Democratic replacement.

The only way the law could have backfired on the Dems is if a Republican in the seat died or left the Senate, and the Dems couldn’t get back the seat right away.

Somehow, this feels a bit more democratic (small d). The voters voted in someone whose values reflect on the majority of those who voted for the senator. Giving the governor the all-knowing decision power has, on occasion, been abused. You might be thinking Rod Blagojevich (Illinois), and this is true. Would also offer up Frank Murkowski (Alaska), who upon going from the Senate to the governor’s chair, replaced himself with his daughter, Lisa. (Sarah Palin beat Frank Murkowski in the governor primary in the next election, so you can blame Frank Murkowski.)

Barack Obama has 4 more years, but we need to help to improve U.S. food supply

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Just before Noon Eastern, Barack Obama will have about 4 more years to do what he can for the U.S. food supply.

Obama has a lot of his mind, but no president has tried to do more for the problems with the food supply than Barack Obama. And his wife has done more than he has on the issue.

For a look at what may come in the second term of the Obama Administration, check out this column from our sister blog,

Way too soon to critique diversity in Obama second-term Cabinet

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President Barack Obama finally got a strong bipartisan consensus on a move that he has made. The situation wasn’t easy, and maybe some people in each party can live with the decision that Obama has made, but the extremes in both parties are not happy with Obama’s decision.

That’s right, Obama has bipartisan consensus … against Chuck Hagel to be the next Secretary of Defense.

Hagel, a former Republican senator from Nebraska, is disliked by the right because he wasn’t conservative enough. He’s from Nebraska; how “liberal” could he be?

The choice of Hagel is disliked on the left for his remarks about gays. Barney Frank, who want to be John Kerry’s interim replacement, initially went against Hagel but changed his mind. Oh, and this annoying trait of Democratic centrist presidents choosing Republicans to run defense.

For the centrist Obama, Hagel is the choice that makes the most sense to him, but is one of those decisions that Obama makes that alienates his base but doesn’t give him any credit from the other side.

Obama took the token symbolism of picking a squishy centrist person from the other party for the cabinet and cranked it up. Obama kept Bush’s defense secretary, Robert Gates, added Ray LaHood for transportation, something Dems actually care about, and wanted (foolishly) to pick Judd Gregg for Commerce. How many points did Obama score with the GOP and the MSM? Zero.

Leon Panetta wasn’t a great defense secretary, but Panetta was the first Democratic defense secretary since 1997. Still waiting for the first Republican president to put a Democratic person in charge of defense.

Yes, Bill Clinton and Obama showed they could work with people on the other side of the glass. The moves haven’t been complimented by actions from the other side. Yes, critics could cite Norman Mineta, but if you don’t remember who Mineta is or what he did, then it wasn’t that memorable, was it?

The pick of Hagel, along with a few preliminary Cabinet selections, has led the MSM to create a false scandal and some outlets to invoke the “binders of women” on Obama. WTF?

The basis of this “scandal” is that four white men are the nominees for State, Defense, CIA, and Treasury. However, the current people in those positions and three white men and Hillary Clinton. So where’s the scandal?

Susan Rice could have been the State nominee but her name was pulled before a nomination thanks to bullying by McCain-Graham-Ayotte (MGA?). Michèle Flournoy is a very good contender for Defense, and the immediate thought if the Hagel nomination doesn’t go through the Senate. No woman has ever served as the head of Defense.

Lisa Jackson is leaving EPA and Hilda Solis just resigned as the head of Labor. Solis was the first Latina female in a Cabinet post. But the Obama Administration hasn’t announced replacements.

In terms of representation and competence within that, Obama’s numbers are off the charts. This isn’t to say Obama handled the Susan Rice situation well. But Rice is still the UN Ambassador, a rather important position.

If the end result is a significant loss of diversity, then feel free to criticize the president. One position change doesn’t amount to a scandal.

President Obama takes the ‘Bush tax cuts’ and makes them his own

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The Bush tax cuts are dead. Long live the Obama tax cuts?

Even if the Obama tax cuts are retroactive, the millisecond(s) in between mean that the deficit-running, economy-collapsing Bush tax cuts are finally done and gone. And they are replaced by the deficit-running, economy-collapsing Obama tax cuts.

When Sen. Barack Obama ran for president in 2008, he ran against the Bush tax cuts. Sen. Obama had a convenient record in that he wasn’t in the Senate when the tax cuts came down. Obama ran against the tax cuts, even before the economic collapse in September.

Obama was elected with a Democratic-controlled House and Senate, though the Senate was bogged down by the insistence that bills needed 60 votes. Yet, the Bush tax cuts remained. The Obama team extended the tax cuts when they were set to expire.

In running for re-election in 2012, Obama set a threshold of keeping said tax cuts for the “middle class,” putting that at $200,000 (single filers) and $250,000 (joint filers). Even if you believed in extending some of the tax cuts, those figures were significantly higher than were necessary to protect the middle class.

In December 2012, after winning a convincing electoral victory, President Obama negotiated with himself to set a more ridiculous level of $400,000 (single filers) and $450,000 (joint filers).

So as we go into the second term of Barack Obama as president, the tax cuts will live on at least two more years if not more for 99% of the country.

And how are we getting that prosperity back?

Obama’s opponents aren’t just trying to make him look bad. They don’t want job growth; they want the legacy of Barack Obama to be ineffectual economic leader. They want to compare him to Jimmy Carter. And Obama is helping them every chance he gets.

The middle class that Obama and the Dems were trying to protect got hit with a “tax hike” in that the payroll tax cut expired. While that should disappear at some point, the cruel irony is that once you reach about $109,000, you don’t pay any more into Social Security and Medicare.

Obama should have set the threshold of the tax cuts with the payroll tax cut. Either raise the level where people contribute to Social Security and Medicare or lower the level for the new Obama tax cuts.

Obama “protecting the middle class” at $200,000 was far-fetched given that in the words of Barack Obama in May 2008, 94% of Americans make under $100,000 a year. This was before the economic crash. $400,000 is even more incredible.

Obama had the momentum on his side, and he gave away part of the store. He could have waited for a better Congress with fewer teabaggers and more Dem senators — and had a much better deal. If compromise was that important, then start low. Obama never said, “Hey let’s get rid of the Bush tax cuts entirely.”

What is it about Democratic presidents and their insatiable desire to compromise with Republicans? Those on the left grew frustrated in watching Bill Clinton would take Republican ideas and use them as his own. Obama has taken a page or two from Clinton.

When Dems wanted single-payer, Obama brought out Obamacare. When Dems wanted no Bush tax cuts, Obama kept them and has now made them his own.

The best way to help the debt is to raise tax revenues from the people who did well in the last four years and the eight years before that. The threshold of $400,000 and $450,000 fails that mission. Even if somehow the Dems get back the House in 2014 and keep the Senate, President Obama isn’t eager to get these rates back to the Clinton era, the talking point Obama pounded into our heads during the campaign.

If those rates were so great, and they were, Obama wanting an exception for approximately 96% of the country never made any sense.

President Obama has proven to be a strong leader in many cases and has shown puzzling leadership on economic issues. He almost lost the election in 2012 because of the economy. Obama’s response was to blame Bush, which was true to a point. But President Obama took one of Bush’s signature moves and made it permanent. That is failed leadership and sells short his base and those who are suffering as a result of the failed economic policies.

Sandy Hook is latest time to finally have gun control discussion

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While many questions pour from the horrific Connecticut school shooting, the one question that comes up in all of these mass shootings is “Will this be the time that we finally start changing the gun laws?”

Columbine was horrible but that didn’t change anything. You would think the assassination attempt on a sitting Congresswoman would unnerve Congress into doing something. Or the Aurora movie theater shooting. Or Virginia Tech.

Something did feel different about the Sandy Hook shooting. True, young children died in the other shooting. A 9-year-old girl died in Tucson. A 6-year-old girl died in the Aurora shooting.

Was it finding out that the kids were shot more than once? Was it that the authorities took pictures of the kids faces so the parents could identify them rather than seeing the horrible damage to their little bodies? Was it that the teachers and principal who lost their lives trying to stop the gunman? Was it the idea of kids hiding in closets and teachers pleading with students to be quiet until the good guys could show up?

Was it that all the kids were 6 and 7 years old? Was it that the number of students killed was 20? Was it that next year’s 2nd grade and the following year’s 3rd grade are essentially gone from this school?

Was it that the damage was so bad that almost all of those who were shot were killed. Think about that. Even in the coverage of the shooting, we didn’t hear much about the wounded. Two kids made it to the hospital before dying from their wounds. Ambulances were turned away before the carnage was that thorough and devastating.

The Dems in Washington have run away from this issue since the assault weapons ban expired. Up to now, President Barack Obama hasn’t shown much desire to use any political capital on this issue. For all the cries about “a black president taking guns away from white people,” Obama’s track record on guns to this point has gone against the wishes of his base.

At least Dems want to do something on gun control, loopholes, assault weapons. Finding a Republican who wants to tackle these issues is as likely as Honey Boo Boo taking etiquette lessons.

We could run a list of suggestions and requirements to improve the gun attitude in the United States. Closing gun show loopholes and bringing back the assault weapon ban would make a huge difference. When we mean “assault weapons ban,” that would be one without the loopholes of the 1994 bill.

The conservatives, political and non-political, have their usual cries. “This isn’t the right time to talk about this.” “Criminals don’t pay attention to gun control laws.”

They are right on one point: laws won’t be enough. Loopholes and an assault weapons ban will help greatly, but they aren’t enough. Those on the left try to fight conservatives directly on the gun issue, but forget that conservatives don’t even offer a non-gun solution.

Why aren’t conservatives fighting for more money for mental health coverage? Why aren’t conservatives fighting to make things easier for those with mental issues to get help through our convoluted health care system? If conservatives don’t think guns are the issue, ask them what else can we do?

To say that nothing can be done about this, that these shootings are just going to happen is the ultimate cop-out. Tuning out what happened at Newtown, CT, Aurora, CO, Tucson, Columbine, Virginia Tech isn’t going to work. Or so we hope. The question is whether those that want to make things better will spend political capital, and whether those who don’t want to make things better can offer solutions, even if they don’t involve gun control.

Ontario is better destination for jobs thanks to Michigan’s ‘right to work’ status

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Ontario isn’t in the best shape these days. Huge debt, teacher problems, and a premier with a minority government who is still in office but not for long.

Compared to the folks across the border in Michigan, Canada’s most populous province is singing Hallelujahs.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has been signing bills right and right (not left and right) taking away worker rights, access to birth control, overriding voters insistence on getting rid of the takeover-a-city law. Snyder would have signed a bill allowing for guns in schools and day care centers, but the Sandy Hook school shooting made that virtually impossible to do right now.

Snyder was worried about competing for jobs with Indiana. He should have worried about Ontario.

For more on this story, check out this column from our sister blog,


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