Gabrielle Giffords Steals the Show

August 2, 2011

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Last night was supposed to be all about the House voting on the bill to raise the nation’s debt ceiling.  A compromise had been reached, and the Republican House and the Democratic Senate were poised to pass a bill and send it to the President for his quick signature.  Crisis averted, economy back on track, cue the chorus of Hallelujah.  The United State of America could once again return to what we do best – spending money!

Suddenly, in a moment, the political wrangling had been shoved to the side.  The politicians put their ideological differences aside and welcomed back one of their own.  Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-Arizona), still in recovery from a January assassination attempt, entered the chamber and cast her vote.

It’s worth noting that Giffords, a Democrat, did not return on Friday to help her party defeat the Boehner.v3 bill – which squeaked through with a 218-210 vote.  Instead, she returned to support a bipartisan effort last night.  In truth, her vote wasn’t necessary to secure passage of the bill, as it sailed through by a 269-161 margin.  There’s much to be learned from Giffords’ actions – it is a time to work together, rather than being quite so adversarial.

What does the future hold for congresswoman Giffords?  I hope this is a sign that she will be able to resume her full duties before long.  One of many unfortunate effects of Jared Loughner’s rampage is that her constituents have been without representation in congress.  (A sidebar – perhaps we need to prevent this situation from occurring in the future?  Allow a temporary replacement to be appointed in situations where a legislator is temporarily incapacitated.)

Will she run for re-election in 2012?  I think House Democratic leaders will strongly urge her to do so.  If there was ever a candidate who was a slam-dunk for re-election, it’s Giffords.  Short of a major scandal (along the lines of embezzlement), I’m not sure she can lose.  Her opponents may point out ideological differences, but will this be enough to outweigh public sentiment in her favor?

The fact of the matter is that it’s quite easy to paint Giffords as a martyr for democracy.  She wasn’t shot as she was lounging around the pool or eating filet mignon at an upscale restaurant.  She was shot in the line of duty.  Not even at some mundane committee meeting in a far away building in D.C. – but at an event (Congress on Your Corner) where she was actively soliciting feedback from her constituents.  It wouldn’t take a spin master to turn this to her great advantage.

Is it wrong to play on the sympathy of the public for political gain?  Of course not.  This is politics, where you push every advantage and the game is no holds barred.


(Let us not forget the six people that died in the January shooting – Christina-Taylor Green, Dorothy Morris, Judge Roll, Phyllis Schneck, Dorwan Stoddard, and Giffords staffer Gabe Zimmerman.)

Pissed Off About The Debt Ceiling Debate

July 28, 2011

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There are five days left until the threat of default and the circus continues in Washington over the debt ceiling. Feeling the pressure? The Republicans seem to be as The Man With The Fake Tan seem to be getting more and more agitated by the day. First he is overheard saying he didn’t sign up to go head to head with the President and then you have him telling his party colleagues to get their asses in line behind his ideas.

Here is how I see the whole ordeal. First you have a Democrat as President sounding like a Republican – well one before they were taken off the cliff by these nut jobs anyways. Making every effort to come closer each day to anything the right had wanted at the expense of his own support from progressives in the long run, Then you have the Republicans that are insatiable in their desires and keep wanting more and wanting it now. It looks like the Tea Party is more the Veruca Salt Party and all bad nuts to me.

It really pisses me off to see every compromise being offered their way on every single damn thing and, not once any compromise by the other side. No matter what he does to alienate his base, the right will always view him in a bad light. Heck he could suddently decide to outlaw abortion effective immediately and I am sure the right would reconsider its position on that.

Right now it seems that there are two last ditch efforts to avoid default. The one that is proposed by the Democrats has more dollars in cuts than it raises the debt ceiling and gives the Treasury room to pay the interest on past debt through 2013. It is not a good proposal, as it does not have any revenue side reform. However it will do suffice to avoid the end result and, what the hell, we can continue this circus without putting our credit rating on the table. Then on the other side you have a proposal of more cuts, but only enough debt ceiling room made to last until Christmas. Heck you even have teabaggers proposing we should vote to lower the debt ceiling – what absolute morons they are indeed.

It seems that the Pubes want to redo this side show again at Christmas and then I am sure once again during the heat of summer campaigning, all with the country’s economic fate at stake each time. When August 2nd gets here and there is obviously nothing going to get done the President should just use the 14th Amendment to avoid the end result the teabaggers want to see and then let us all continue this circus without holding the country’s credit rating ransom.

Now let’s discuss the Bad Nuts of the Month.

Glenn Beck: He may not have his show on Fixed News anymore, but he still has other outlets to put forth his agenda of lies and hate. This week in the aftermath of the tragedy in Norway, he compared the camp that the kids were killed at to being like the Hitler Youth. Saying who has a camp that is all about politics. Who? Well Glenn Beck, that is who – with his 9/12 indoctrination camp for kids this summer in Tampa. Anyways, what was with the comparison anyways? Does he think the kids deserved to die or something because they were at a camp run by a political ideology he does not agree with? Unfortunately that is probably the case.

Bradlee Dean: Well it seems that the nutcase that runs You Can Run But You Can’t Hide International did not take well to his own words putting him in bad light and has made a frivolous $50 million lawsuit against NBC, MSNBC, Rachel Maddow, The Minnesota Independent. It stems from it being reported that Dean referred to Muslims as being at least more moral than us in executing gay people. Now he did not come out and say so in many words, but when one preaches for morality and says that the moral thing to do is to execute gay people, then you pretty much are advocating for that stance. I guess Dean thinks he can hide from his own words and thinks that you should not be able to make him beheld accountable for them.

Allen West: As you may know as Crunchy talked about in her article last week, Allen West, a Congressman from Florida, took issue with fellow Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wassermann Schultz. He did not like her talking about his publicly known views on issues on the floor of Congress when he was not in the room. In an email her West basically said that DWS was the most vile piece of trash in the entire Congress an that he was not going to treat like a lady because she was not one and she needed to know her place. Now what does not treating her like a lady mean? If she does not stop talking about his views then he is going to beat the crap out of her or something? Anyways I am sure there is no evidence of West ever talking about someone else in a bad light when they were not present are there? Sure there are plenty of those. I guess DWS can just remember that West will likely soon be out of Congress after the next election and find peace in that like we all will.

Space, the Debt Ceiling, and the NFL Lockout

July 25, 2011

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The United State Space program

With the landing of the Space Shuttle Atlantis last Thursday, the Space Shuttle Program comes to an end and a chapter of United States history also comes to a close. Based on the current priorities within the beltway of Washington DC, there has been insufficient budget to have a replacement vehicle in place for a seamless transition from the Shuttle program. The United States is in the same position it faced in the mid-1970s when the Apollo/Skylab programs ended and the nation had to hold its breath until 1981 as we had no manned presence in space.

This time we will still have the Space Station, but we will be dependent on other countries to keep that vehicle properly manned and supplied. Most notably, we will be dependent on the Russians who, as the Soviet Union, were our chief rivals in the space frontier for more than forty years. Now we will take a break from manned space travel as we work towards a new vehicle (which appears most likely to be upgrades to the capsules used in the 1960’s and 70s) while the Chinese push forward with an aggressive program of their own. We have a significant lead on the Chinese, but we cannot depend on that lead when we consider our national safety. The Chinese will not have to spend as much time or money to get to the level of the United States simply because we have shown what can and cannot be done.

I therefore want to make a call out to all Americans and specifically those who have been elected to run our country. Refocus on Space – NOW.

The United States Debt Ceiling

There are a lot of opinions about raising the debt limit for the United States federal government. Frankly, I do not care. If the debt limit is not raised, automatic budget cuts are activated to keep the country running, which is exactly what individuals have to do. There is a lot of noise about the county’s credit rating dropping if we do not get the limit raised. From what I have seen, if you keep upping your limit your credit score goes down, not up. If you pay off your debts your credit score goes up not down. Now maybe things work differently in Washington DC then they do in my house, but I would prefer that they did not.

I find it comical that we hear on the news that the only way to get of debt is to spend more money that does not exist. My whole life I have learned that the only way to get out of debt is to pay off that debt. That means, on a personal level, a reduction of funds spent on entertainment, transportation, housing, and, at times, even food. When ever I have resorted to getting more credit, I have used that credit and gotten further into debt. My take on this debate is to let it keep going with the congress doing nothing at all. At least while they are arguing about this, they are not enacting more laws that make the nanny state that much more intrusive. Over the last few years, the federal government has decided how much water we can use to flush, what kind of water heater we can have, the amount of energy a dishwasher or clothes dryer can use, and what kind of light bulb goes into light fixtures. I have always been much more at ease when congress is NOT in session

The NFL Lockout

This is probably the most important topic I wanted to bring up this week. Are we going to have a professional football season this year or not? This is not a life or death question. I can always survive watching college football, and I am sure that many more games will be broadcast if the professionals cannot get their act together. Some dollar conscious schools will move games to Sunday and even Monday night to fill the void.

As of this writing, the Billionaires (owners) have approved and presented a proposal to the Millionaires (players). Now the Millionaires have to reorganize and vote on whether they like the proposal or not. The reorganization is required because they dissolved their union. Many people do not understand why they dissolved, thinking it is just adding more difficulty to the decision. They dissolved to avoid federal arbitration. If a union and a corporation come to a deadlock in negotiations, either side can ask for binding federal arbitration. What ever the arbitrator decides is binding to all participants. The players did not like the odds when most of the owners are politically active at the federal level (one is even an ambassador), so they dissolved the union. No union means no union-employer deadlock, therefore there is no basis for arbitration.

I personally have no idea what the overall conflict was about or what is in the proposal. I really do not care either. I just want to know what I will be doing on Sunday afternoons this fall. The players and the owners are the only ones who can decide if there will be a season. That decision will determine whether I spend time watching their product and the advertisements that substantially help pay their income, or whether I spend my time doing something else. Their choice, I hope they choose well.

Random Thoughts From Kosmo

July 22, 2011

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There’s much debate in Washington – and much discussion around the nation – about whether or not to raise the nation’s debt ceiling. Realistically, everyone knows that the debt ceiling must be raised. In recent history, neither party has had a track record of balancing the budget. There’s chatter about cutting spending, but when the rubber hits the road, members of both parties have their own pet projects.

Wondering how to make some money in the financial markets?  Figure out where the money will go after the gold bubble bursts.  When people realize that the speculators have turned gold into a de facto currency – while at the same time criticizing de jure (fiat) currency – they may realized that investing in shiny rocks might not be the best idea in the world.  When the crash comes, investors will be scrambling for a safe place to put their money.  If you can figure out where they will put their money, you might be able to ride a bit of a surge when demand outstrips supply in that market (at which point, you should consider selling).

The NFL owners ratified a new labor deal with the union. It could be a while before the players ratify the same deal. More often than not, I side with players in sports labor issues – but not this time. I really feel that many of the tactics of the players – most notably their sham decertification of union (a union which continues to bargain on their behalf) – amount to bargaining in bad faith. I’d actually be interesting in having the courts weigh in on the issues. If a deal isn’t done soon, we’re looking at the possibility of some lost games (pre-season, at least) and a compressed off-season. The proposed shortened free agency period seems like a very bad deal for the players – giving them little time to shop around for a deal. Personally, I’ve been staying away from the NFL for the last two years after my team signed Brett Favre – and I’m really close to walking away from the NFL permanently. There’s plenty of baseball year-round to keep my occupied.

The Colorado Rockies have been listening to trade offers for ace Ubaldo Jimenez.  In talks with the Yankees, they were reportedly looking for a deal in which Yankees catching prospect Jesus Montero – an elite hitting prospect – did not make up the bulk of the value in the deal.  Although Jimenez’s number are not close to his 15-1 start at the beginning of last year, he’s not doing as poorly as you might thing.  After a horrible start to the year (0-5, 5.86 ERA though the end of May), Jimenez is 6-3 with a 2.58 ERA since June 1.  A big key to his success has been a dramatic reduction in number of walks.  Jimenez has also been downright dominant this year on the road – a 2.28 ERA and a stunningly low .158 batting average allowed.  I’d prefer to keep Jimenez, but I trust GM Dan O’Dowd.  After all, he did very well in the Matt Holliday trade, obtaining Carlos Gonzalez and Huston Street in the deal.

I’ve been reading an old book by a favorite author lately. The Kindle edition of Lawrence Block’s Killing Castro is available for $2.99.  Not only in the story set in 1961, it was published in 1961 under a pen name.  I’m about 75% of the way through the book, and am thoroughly enjoyed it.  How often can you read a 50 year old book by an author who is still producing new books?

Speaking of Amazon … if you like The Soap Boxers, consider using the big Amazon ad at the top of the right side of the screen as your entry point into Amazon.  This will give us a small commission when you buy things, and there is no additional cost to you.  Consider this to be payment for the many articles on this site 🙂

Childish Behavior In the Debt Ceiling Debate

July 21, 2011

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As a mom, I am concerned about bullying. I went through it in junior high and high school but honestly, I think it made me the person I am. It gave me a bit of a thick skin so I can tolerate all of my critics (and I have plenty). And I’m not innocent in it all. I did a bit of bullying myself. I wouldn’t say I was a “Mean Girl” but there were times I wasn’t very nice. Here’s the deal, I grew out of it.

The “leaders” of our nation seem to play the role of worrying about bullying but they are taking part of it in the worst way. I think the leaders need to grow up, quit the bullying and just plain knock it off.

I am beyond annoyed with our leadership. As a mom, I wish I could give them all a time out. And Barack Obama thinks Americans should “eat your peas”? Whatever, dude.

The next day he yelled, “Don’t call my bluff” and stormed out of a meeting. Grow up, President. Put on your big boy pants and act like an adult. Quit being the bully. I’d expect this kind of behavior from my toddlers, not from the leader of the free world.

And it’s about the debt. Here’s the deal. It’s not the debt limit, it’s the spending. When you find your credit card is almost to max out, the sensible American doesn’t call the credit card company and ask them to increase their limit. They sit down and they figure out where they’re overspending. You don’t need Dave Ramsey to tell you that.

And then there’s the back and forth between Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and Allen West, both representing Florida. She called him out on the House floor, calling into question his stance on Medicare during the debate over a spending cap and balanced budget bill before the House. She, of course, waiting until he was not able to defend himself to speak out.

So West sent her an email. The subject line of the email: “Unprofessional and Inappropriate Sophomoric Behavior from Wasserman-Schultz.” The e-mail said: “Look, Debbie, I understand that after I departed the House floor you directed your floor speech comments directly towards me. Let me make myself perfectly clear, you want a personal fight, I am happy to oblige. You are the most vile, unprofessional and despicable member of the US House of Representatives. If you have something to say to me, stop being a coward and say it to my face, otherwise, shut the heck up.”

I agree with him. What a cowardly chicken she is. To wait until he can’t defend himself and rail on him in front of the nation? That might fly in junior high but not on the floor of the House…and now she’s acting like the victim in it all? Grow up, sweetheart. Don’t write a check your tookus can’t cash. If you don’t want people to call you out on your actions, don’t act like a member of the “A” group who talks about people behind their back. It’s as simple as that.

It’s time for our leaders to start acting like leaders. They need to start acting like adults. No more talk of peas, bluffs and talking behind each other’s backs. Quit threatening to “take your ball and go home.” We voted you in to your current position to do a job. If bullying is all you’re willing to respond to, here’s a proposal, “DO YOUR JOB OR RISK LOSING IT.” How’s that for bullying? Do I have your attention now? Good. Get to work.