Friday, April 27, 2012

Massachusetts House Passes EBT Welfare Reform Full Text Amendment 804– Abuses Rampant – Roll Call – How Your State Rep Voted



The Mass. EBT Card - No Photo ID Required - Fraud Magnet

Massachusetts is known for their taxes and entitlement programs run amok – the program garnering most attention lately is the EBT card, which replaced traditional Food Stamps. The fraud and abuse has been fodder for news reports, and blight on the Commonwealth’s program. It is not so much that Massachusetts taxpayers would not lend a helping hand to those in need, however, this program has taken abuse to the level of the GSA (CNN), and residents have grown weary of being overtaxed, overextended, underemployed and abused by those taking advantage of the system. On need only “Google” EBT Fraud in Massachusetts” to come up with a bevy of reference such as the 53 In EBT Cards for Cash Fraud reported in the Eagle Tribune.

In a move that was highly unusual, the Massachusetts Legislature attached an amendment to the 2013 Fiscal Year Budget, an ACT that reformed the EBT Card System. Of the total Massachusetts House, all 33 Republicans voted for Reform, along with the majority of Democrats, with only 30 Democrats voting against the Bill. State Representative from Springfield, Coakley-Rivera voted against the reform, as well as reps from urban areas where most of the fraud and abuse take place. The roll call can be found below, as well as a link to the PDF. The program, which has cost the state billions, and is a boon to all types of industries, from the obvious grocery chains, to the less obvious noted in the text of the bill. The Budget now goes to the Mass. Senate, where Therese Murry believes that there is little interest in reform, in a radio interview yesterday, she concluded that it was not a big issue in her district – Plymouth – full contact information here

The amendment in full text follows

Ms. Walz of Boston moves to strike the text of amendment 804 and inserting in place thereof the following:-



SECTION 35. Chapter 18 of the General laws, as amended by chapter 84 of the acts of 2011, is hereby amended by striking out sections 5I through 5J, inclusive, and inserting in place thereof the following 2 sections:-



Section 5I. (a) As used in sections 5I through 5J, inclusive, the following terms shall, unless the context clearly requires otherwise, have the following meanings:-



“Access device”, a card, code, or other means of access that can be used, alone or in conjunction with another access device, to obtain payments, allotments, benefits, money, goods or other things of value, or that can be used to initiate a transfer of funds under the federal Food Stamp Act, 7 U.S.C. § 2011 et seq., or regulations issued pursuant to the federal Food Stamp Act.



“Cosmetics”, includes (1) articles intended to be rubbed, poured, sprinkled, or sprayed on, introduced into, or otherwise applied to the human body or any part thereof for cleansing, beautifying, promoting attractiveness, or altering the appearance, and (2) articles intended for use as a component of any such articles; provided, however, that cosmetics shall not include soap, shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste, or other personal hygiene products.



“Automatic teller machine”, a machine allowing for cash withdrawals of direct cash assistance.



“Department”, the department of transitional assistance.



“Direct cash assistance”, any manner of cash assistance provided by the department of transitional assistance, including, but not limited to, temporary aid to families with dependent children, wherein the assistance is provided directly to the recipient, rather than a vendor.



“Drinking establishment”, a business licensed to sell alcoholic beverages pursuant to chapter 138 that derives more than 50 per cent profit from the sale of alcoholic beverages.



“Electronic benefit transfer card”, a card that provides benefits through an electronic benefit transfer.



"Electronic benefit transfer”, a system for the food stamp program as an alternative to issuing food stamp coupons. An electronic benefit transfer system is a computer based system in which the benefit authorization is received through a point of sale terminal. Eligible households utilize plastic cards in lieu of food stamp coupons to purchase food items at authorized food retailers. This type of benefit may also be used to issue other types of public welfare benefits.



“Eligible recipient”, a person who meets the nonfinancial, financial and categorical requirements that the department of transitional assistance utilizes to determine, upon application or review, whether a person is entitled to direct cash assistance, barring any evidence of an outstanding default or arrest warrant issued by any court of the commonwealth.



“Immediate family”, the recipient and his spouse, and their parents, children, brothers and sisters.



“Liquor Store”, an establishment licensed to sell alcoholic beverages not to be drunk on the premises pursuant to section 15 of chapter 138 excluding any food store as defined pursuant to section 184B of chapter 94.

“Performance”, any commercially offered play, dance, concert, exhibit, including movies or simulcasts, any such entertainment at an establishment which displays live nudity for patrons as defined pursuant to section 9A of chapter 40A, or any such entertainment performed before 1or more persons, excluding performances offered by, at or through any preschool, school, college, university, public library, church or nonprofit organization.



“Performance venue”, any place at which a performance is conducted, including, but not limited to, a sports arena, stadium, ball park, race track, , or establishment which display live nudity for patrons, as defined pursuant to section 9A of chapter 40A.



“Person”, a natural person, corporation, association, partnership or other legal entity.



“Travel services”, furnishing or facilitating interstate travel for vacation or foreign travel, except in the case of the death of a family member or family emergency.



(b) (1) No person shall knowingly use or accept direct cash assistance funds held on electronic benefit transfer cards or access devices for the purchase or sale of the following services or products: (1) alcoholic beverages as defined in section 1 of chapter 138; (2) lottery tickets; (3) tobacco products as defined in section 1 of chapter 64C; (4) any visual material or performance intended to create or simulate sexual conduct or sexual excitement as those terms are defined pursuant to section 31 of chapter 272; (5) firearms or ammunition as defined in section 121 of chapter 140; (6) admission to any performances; (7) cosmetics; (8) professional services, excluding medical care, provided by any member of the bar or any person licensed pursuant to chapter 112 professional services provided by any member of the bar or any person licensed pursuant to chapter 112, but excluding health care services and services provided for haircutting or funeral or final disposition; (9) travel services; (10) services, excluding childcare services, programs at a community center or similar nonprofit facility or memberships, provided by health clubs as defined pursuant to section 78 of chapter 93; (11) tattoos for the marking of the human body or other body art or piercings; (12) jewelry; (13) for the rental of goods or real property, except for rent paid for a primary residence; (14) for the payment to the commonwealth or any political subdivision thereof of any, fee, fine or penalty, including restitution or bail or bail bonds ordered by a court; or (15) gambling as defined pursuant to section 2 of chapter 23K.

(2) No person shall knowing use an access device or automatic teller machine to access direct cash assistance funds held on electronic benefit transfer cards at: (1) liquor stores; (2) gaming establishments licensed pursuant to chapter 23K; (3) performance venues; (4) adult bookstores or adult paraphernalia stores, as defined pursuant to section 9A of chapter 40A; (5) firearms dealers licensed pursuant to section 122 of chapter 140 and ammunitions dealers licensed pursuant to section 122B of chapter 140; (6) tattoo parlors; (7) manicure shops or aesthetic shops registered pursuant to chapter 112; (8) (9) rent-to-own furniture, electronics, or appliance stores; (10) jewelry stores; (11) drinking establishments; (12) on cruise ships.

(3) No person shall permit the use of an access device or automatic teller machine to access direct cash assistance funds held on electronic benefit transfer cards at: (1) liquor stores; (2) gaming establishments licensed pursuant to chapter 23K; (3) performance venues; (4) adult bookstores or adult paraphernalia stores, as defined pursuant to section 9A of chapter 40A; (5) firearms dealers licensed pursuant to section 122 of chapter 140 and ammunitions dealers licensed pursuant to section 122B of chapter 140; (6) tattoo parlors; (7) manicure shops or aesthetic shops registered pursuant to chapter 112; (9) rent-to-own furniture, electronics, or appliance stores; (10) jewelry stores; and (11) drinking establishments; or (12) cruise ships.



(c) The following types of businesses shall not house access devices or automatic teller machines that accept electronic benefit transfer cards: (1) liquor stores; (2) gaming establishments licensed pursuant to chapter 23K; (3) performance venues; (4) adult bookstores or adult paraphernalia stores, as defined pursuant to section 9A of chapter 40A; (5) firearms dealers licensed pursuant to section 122 of chapter 140 and ammunitions dealers licensed pursuant to section 122B of chapter 140; (6) tattoo parlors; (7) manicure shops or aesthetic shops registered pursuant to chapter 112; (8) rent-to-own furniture, electronics, or appliance stores; (10) jewelry stores; and (11) drinking establishments; (12) cruise ships.

(d) Any business that offers for sale the services or products defined by subsection (b), excluding businesses defined by subsection (e), shall display in an area conspicuous to patrons a sign advising patrons of the excluded products.

The department shall develop the sign and make a downloadable form available on the department’s website. Business associations may also maintain a downloadable form of the sign on their websites.

(e) Any business identified in subsection (b), shall display in an area conspicuous to patrons a sign instructing patrons that the business is prohibited from accepting electronic benefit transfer cards.

The department shall develop the sign and make a downloadable form available on the department’s website. Business associations may also maintain a downloadable form of the sign on their websites.



(f) No person shall knowingly access, or provide access to, direct cash assistance funds held on electronic benefit transfer cards or access devices to an eligible recipient from outside the commonwealth, except for states that immediately border the commonwealth; provided, however, that the department may permit direct cash assistance funds held on electronic benefit transfer cards or access devices to an eligible recipient to be accessed outside of the commonwealth or states along its border for a family or medical emergency or other such emergency purpose as approved by the department; and provided further, that an electronic benefit transfer card or access device shall be authorized to access federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits in any manner authorized by federal law.





(g) Any eligible recipient of direct cash assistance who knowingly makes a purchase in violation of this section shall reimburse the department for such purchase and shall be disqualified from the direct cash assistance program for a period of 3 months for the first offense and permanently for the second offense.



(h) Any person, except an eligible recipient, who knowingly violates clause 1 of subsection (b), subsection (c) or subsection (d) of this section shall be punished by a fine of not more than $500 for the first offense, a fine of not less than $500 nor more than $1,000 for the second offense and a fine of not less than $10,000 for the third or subsequent offense.



At minimum, the department shall identify all violators on a monthly basis and direct the appropriate vendor to technologically prohibit the respective access device from accepting electronic benefit transfer cards.



(i) Any person, except an eligible recipient who knowingly violates clause 2 or clause 3 of subsection (b) shall be punished by a fine of not less than $1,000 for the first offense; not less than $3,000 for the second offense and not less than $10,000 for the third or subsequent offense.



(j) The alcoholic beverages control commission may suspend or revoke the license of any person who is found to have knowingly violated subsection (b) or subsection (c).



(k) The state lottery commission may suspend or revoke the license of any person who is found to have knowingly violated subsection (b) or subsection (c).



Section 5J (a) No person shall knowingly, transfer, acquire, alter or possess an electronic benefit transfer card or access device in any manner not authorized by the federal Food Stamp act or this chapter.



(b) No person shall present for payment or redemption an electronic benefit transfer card or access device that has been illegally received, transferred, or altered.



(c) A person who is found to have knowingly violated subsection (a) or subsection (b), if such benefits are of an aggregate value of less than $100, shall, upon the first conviction thereof, be imprisoned in a jail or house of correction for not more than 1 year or fined not more than $1,000, or both, and upon the second and any subsequent conviction thereof, shall be imprisoned in a jail or house of correction for not more than 2 1/2 years or fined not more than $1,000, or both.



A person who is found to have knowingly violated subsection (a) or subsection (b), if such benefit has an aggregate value of more than $100 but less than $5,000, shall, upon the first conviction thereof, be imprisoned in a jail or house of correction or in the state prison for not more than 3 years or be fined not more than $10,000, or both, and, upon the second and any subsequent conviction thereof, shall be imprisoned in a jail or house of correction or in the state prison for not more than 5 years or be fined not more than $10,000, or both.



A person who is found to have knowingly violated subsection (a) or subsection (b), if such benefits are of an aggregate value of $5,000 or more, shall be imprisoned in a jail or house of correction or the state prison for not more than 20 years or be fined not more than $250,000, or both.



(d) Any person who is found to have knowingly violated subsection (a) or subsection (b) shall forfeit to the commonwealth all property, real and personal, used in connection with the violation or any proceeds traceable to said violation.



The proceeds from any sale of forfeited property and any monies forfeited under this subsection shall be used by the commonwealth to reimburse the bureau of special investigations in the office of the state auditor, established under section 16 of chapter 11, or any other state or local agency for any cost incurred in the investigative effort resulting in the forfeiture.



No interest in property shall be forfeited under this subsection as the result of any act or omission established by the owner of the interest to have been committed or omitted without the knowledge or consent of the owner.



(e) The alcoholic beverages control commission may suspend or revoke the license of any person who is found to have knowingly violated subsection (a) or subsection (b).



(f) The state lottery commission may suspend or revoke the license of any person who is found to have knowingly violated subsection (a) or subsection (b).



Section 5K. Whoever embezzles, steals or obtains by fraud any funds, assets or property provided by the department and whoever receives, conceals or retains such funds, assets or property for his own interest knowing such funds, assets or property have been embezzled, stolen or obtained by fraud shall, if such funds, assets or property are of a value of $100 or more, be punished by a fine of not more than $25,000 or by imprisonment in a jail or house of correction for not more than 2 1/2 years, or imprisonment in the state prison for not more than 5 years, or both such fine and imprisonment, or if such funds, assets or property are of a value of less than $100, by a fine of not more than $1,000 or by imprisonment in a jail or house of correction for not more than 1 year, or both such fine and imprisonment.



Section 5L. The department shall charge all eligible recipients of direct cash assistance a fee of $5 for each requested replacement card. All fees for replacement cards shall be deducted directly from the recipient’s direct cash assistance.



And moves to further amend the bill, by inserting at the end thereof the following sections:-



SECTION. Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, the department of transitional assistance benefits in the form of vendor payments with respect to rent and utilities, whenever a determination is made that the grant has not been used in the best interests of the child or the assistance unit or other chronic misuse of benefits is occurring, provided that implementation of vendor payments will not increase the risk of homelessness, decrease the ability to escape domestic abuse or impair the assistance unit’s ability to withhold payment as a reasonable exercise of consumer or tenant rights when there is a legitimate dispute as to whether terms of an agreement have been met. The department of transitional assistance may presume mismanagement of benefits whenever shelter costs, including, but not limited to, rent, heat, fuel, utilities, have regularly not been met without reasonable cause. At eligibility determinations and redeterminations, the department shall screen households to determine if they have chronically failed to pay rent and utilities to determine if vendor payments are appropriate and shall refer households to the housing consumer education centers and community based resources for assistance in meeting their expenses.





SECTION. Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, the department of transitional assistance and the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority shall coordinate to ensure that by June 30, 2013, direct cash assistance funds held on electronic benefit transfer cards be accepted for payment of public transportation fares at electronic fare vending machines.



SECTION. Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, there shall be an independent commission to study and report on the development of a cashless payment system in using electronic benefit transfer, or EBT, cards. The commission shall consist of the following 9 members: the commissioner of transitional assistance, or a designee, who shall serve as chair; the inspector general, or a designee; the state auditor, or a designee; 2 members of the house of representatives, 1 of whom shall be appointed by the minority leader; 2 members of the senate, 1 of whom shall be appointed by the minority leader; and 2 persons representing eligible recipients as appointed by the governor. The commission shall research, assess and develop recommendations to implement a cashless payment system and investigate and report on the feasibility of expanding the direct vendor payment system for rent and utility payments for all eligible recipients.. The commission shall hire an independent consultant to conduct the research and assist with the preparation of any recommendations. The report shall include, but shall not be limited to, the following: (1) the costs associated with and any technological improvements necessary to implement and the time frame required for the expansion; (2) the implementation of a vendor payment system for the non-cash payment of rent and utility bills for all eligible recipients of direct cash assistance; and (3) the feasibility of placing fluctuating limitations on the percentage allocated to direct cash assistance and point of sale use. The commission shall submit a final report of its findings and recommendations, together with drafts of legislation necessary to implement those recommendations, by filing the same with the clerks of the senate and house on or before December 31, 2012.


Therefore one can surmise, from the above text, that EBT Cardholders use the taxpayer dime for alcohol, gambling, adult bookstores, gun purchases, tattoos, manicures, rental of wide screens for the big game, jewelry, a night at the bar, and finally a cruise – instead of say – food.

The language should read: The EBT Card will only be effective when used for Food items purchased from Grocery Stores, and for the following items (list healthy nutritional food items and throw in a few snacks for the kids.) However, this is a start.

The Roll Call can be found here couresty of WRKO Radio



Roll Call Above, Click on Image to Enlarge


As a taxpayer, this blogger, feels some sense of outrage, but more frustration at the never ending abuse of taxpayers’ funds at the state and federal level. Term Limits – all around.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Obama To Hit Campaign Trail – Universities in VA and OH, Romney On The Trail in OH – Also Speaking at University - Battle of the Professor vs. A CEO


Romney Speaking at Lawrence University Students Line Up to Hear Romney Speak - Obama Enters the Twilight Zone - image Appleton Post Crescent

From the Boston Globe: President Obama will officially kick of his 2012 re-election campaign on May 5th at two University rally’s, one in Virginia and one in Ohio Best line from the Globe: “Not that Obama hasn’t been campaigning for months.”

Obama has earned the moniker Campainger in Chief from the media, Ann Arbor.com’s headline: “Campaigner in chief: Obama address to Ann Arbor crowd sounded like stump speech”suggests that the President’s tone is more about his re-election and less like a “speech designed to “move Congress,” not his standing in the polls”, as suggested by his Campaign Manager, David Axelrod (Boston Globe)

When the administration is transparent, they deny it – go figure.
Meanwhile, Mitt Romney will be campaigning with Governor John Kasich in Ohio Romney's campaign announced Wednesday afternoon that the presumptive Republican presidential nominee and Kasich will hold a 2 p.m. meeting with graduating seniors at Otterbein University in Westerville.(Cleveland.com).

Now, as to style, the President holds a rally, and Romney holds a meeting – while one is looking to rouse up a crowd, the other is seeking input from the crowd – The President is big on “forgiveness of student loans”, while Romney will most likely speak to the same theme, yet include something about opportunities, and putting that education to good use – by working in one’s chosen field. The two could not provide a sharper contrast in a Campus setting – as the youth vote seems to be the target.

Which brings up a question, just how interested are the “youth” in this election and in Obama’s re-election in particular? Apparently, the enthusiasm from 2008 has “waned” a bit according to the News Observer (Raleigh, NC) although the youth vote in North Carolina still favors the President, they are not all that excited about him – he’s lost his “aura” one student noted in the article. – And that’s Raleigh, NC, where the President is expected to do well.

Overall the “youth vote” was at 9% in the 2010 midterm elections, and in 2008, the Youth Vote, gained 1% over the 2004 elections, for a stunning 18% of the total vote, (up from 17% in 2004) (study of voter patterns from 1960 through 2008 from Nonprofitvote.org.
The study also concludes the Youth vote splits party affiliation, and in viewing the statistics by year, one can see a pattern emerge, economics drive the youth vote.
Suddenly Mitt Romney is looking like a Rock Star.

Obama does have that “get to see a sitting President and get out of class by attending a rally advantage”, however, one has ask: if the youth vote are disenfranchised with Obama (except for the student loan forgiveness effort aimed specifically at the youth vote), a percentage of those students might prefer to put their education to good use, rather than say, have their loan forgiven. As Romney will be speaking in terms of education equals a future with a job and sufficient salary to leave Mom’s house and get a real job that might make the difference as to who gets the vote.

One would think that the youth vote is of some import, and while both candidates are on the stump (one who may have a bit of difficulty running on his economic record, and the other, campaigning on his record of financial successes, the other demographics to consider are the people that have jobs, and those that don’t.
A final note highlighting the ridiculous comment, made by a Congressional Democrat, via Real Clear Politics: “The Unemployed will vote for Obama to Keep their benefits.” One would think that those who are receiving “taxable” unemployment benefits, would much prefer to have a job, rather than collect a check that does not reflect their potential earnings. It is the divide between the Democrat Party thought, and in the aforementioned case “speak” that all American’s prefer to get their money from the government, while – Romney is out there campaigning for individual freedoms and the ability to make one’s own cash, with the only government interference being taxes, not limits on how much one can collect from the government.

Although it is true, the education system in this nation, run by Progressives, has been dummying down the electorate since the 1970’s, turning them into the “masses” that would be sheep – yet, sheep revolt when they are hopeless, and see no future, until some old white guy, comes along saying: “Look I made Millions, you can too – all without the help of the Federal government.” – Romney just may end up being the pied piper of prosperity. Then again, if the youth vote holds true to Progressive tenants, then Obama just may end up with 17% of the vote.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

North Korean Eyes South Korea – No Fears of Retribution – Boast Missiles Capable of Hitting U.S. – Déjà vu 1979


North Korea shown by satellite at Night - clearly a nation in the dark -image: chartercities.org

The secretive and, one might consider, mad, monarchical dictatorship that is the Communist State of North Korea, once again has its eyes on uniting the peninsula under one leader - the South Korean’s are preparing for the worst case scenario, in light of direct threats made by the North Korean regime. (VOAnews). The North Korean’s are seeking to “reduce the South Korean’s to ashes”, while 30,000 American troops are stationed in South Korea USA Today, unmasking the paper tiger so to speak - there simply is no fear of retaliation by the United States, and that coupled with the stability of the North Korean Leader is a recipe for impending disaster.

It is not so much the fact that the North Korean’s are a poverty stricken bunch, with every penny going to the military, while keeping it’s citizenry under control by threats of sending entire families (down the 4th and 4th cousins) to camps where they are detained until death) should a family member dare to speak out, or worse, attempt to leave the country – it’s the fact that they are not stable, by any reasonable measure – they are literally in the dark. The impending North Korean crisis is some what similar to the Iranian Revolution in 1979, where a westernized and modern nation was decimated by a group of religious zealots.

Once the Mullah’s were completely installed, they took American’s hostages, they forced women back into the stone age, and well, the rest as they say is history. They are still a thorn in the side of everything decent, however, at the very least, their people, the Persian People understand that they are ruled by crazy people and have attempted a revolution. It was Carter who’s “give peace a chance” foreign policy lost Iran to the religious right, and the Iranian people were plunged into the Stone Age.

There is no comparison "crackpot wise" when it comes to the reclusive regime of North Korea, at least with the Iranian Mullah’s, who are driven by some distorted interpretation of the “Religion of Peace”, there is no excuse for the North Korean’s – making them somehow more dangerous.

Unless of course, one counts the religion of secular worship of one man - Kim Jong-un, who had spent time receiving an education in, of all places Switzerland (Reuters) - He was sent there as a child of undetermined age, and spend 8 years there before going back to the underground world of North Korea exposed to the tutelage of his family.

What we are dealing with in an unknown but clearly unstable entity, one which is now suggesting that North Korean is capable of hitting the U.S. with a missile! The North Korean’s insist they can make a credible attack on the U.S. – the U.S. response:

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned North Korea not to engage in any further provocation.
He told reporters in Brazil that he had no knowledge of any specific actions being planned by North Korea but said he would "strongly urge" the North to avoid any destabilizing acts.
(Atlanta Journal Constitution)

Depending upon how advanced (with a little help from the Chinese Government) the North Korean’s may be (which is played down somewhat, however, they are sticklers for perfection, and although the last test failed (missile, satellite), they now are fairly certain this one will get off the ground , let’s just hope that they change their minds, on this nuclear test/rocket planned for perhaps Today.(ABS-CBN News).

If the regime is capable of getting a missile (nuclear or not) off the ground, and airborne, likely targets are Hawaii and Alaska – Hawaii, perhaps in some convoluted recollection of Pearl Harbor, where the Japanese, who literally owned Korea, began WWII’s Pacific arm, otherwise, blowing up a tourist attraction may be of little use- Alaska, however, with natural resources and tons of snow, might be the more preferred target – and both are within easy reach - the most likely spot – the ocean (given past history).

What the problem is precisely is that the nation of North Korean will continue to try, simply because it can, due to a lack of any ability to bring it under control by those that value life, and non-irradiated fish. They do not fear the U.S., or any other military power – of course, China, lent a helping hand in getting the right materials to the North Korean’s – or at least one of their companies did, and one knows, communist countries, own everything, there are no private corporations in China (CanIndia.com) (well, with the exception of General Motors and G.E.).

When will the international insanity stop? When the U.S. has an administration that is looked upon as somewhat “dangerous”, one that just might launch a weapon, or retaliate if the North Korean’s get out of hand – one cannot recall the Iranian’s and the North Korean’s acting like saber rattling toy soldier’s when the Bush Administration was in “power” – it’s all in the delivery. Therefore, one the one hand, Romney asked: Are you better off than you were four years ago? (Speaking of economics, the answer, of course, is “no”, and perhaps he may have asked: “Do you feel secure in leaving your fortified home bunker?” (Seriously there is as program called “Doomsday Preppers”, these people read the news, no doubt”).

Romney, of course, is no Bush, not even as hard as the Obama Campaign will try and portray him as such, he doesn’t pull of a cowboy hat with any panache, and is more comfortable in a business suit, which is fine – one can issue a stern threat in a business suit, still be seen by the European’s as despicable, and well, keep the crazy’s at bay, even if they only offer a small threat to a school of flounder in the Pacific, does it matter?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Mitt Romney Expected To Win CT, DE, NY, PA, RI Republican Primaries April 23 – Newt Gingrich to Reassess His Campaign – Obama Clinches DNC Nomination


The 2012 Presidential Candidates: Mitt Romney (R) and Barack Obama

Mitt Romney is expected to add to his lead in the GOP primary race today by winning the five April 23rd GOP primary contests in five states: CT, DE, NY, PA and RI. (CNN) After Rick Santorum bowed out of the race, the two remaining challengers, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul, would have little opportunity in theses state contests. Gingrich, who currently has 137 Delegates according to the New York Times, will reassessing his campaign after today’s primaries(WXIA-Atlanta). With Gingrich out of the race, Ron Paul, with fewer than 100 delegates, will be the last “competitor” Romney will face in the remaining contests. With Santorum’s exit, Romney literally became the presumptive nominee, given the low delegate count of the remaining candidates, and the number of available delegates remaining added to a dose of reality.

Turn-out is anticipated to be low in all five primary states – including the Democrat Primary’s, where Barack Obama is the only candidate on the ballot - MSNBC summed up the Democrat Primary contest as: Ho Hum Obama on Brink of The Democratic Nomination.

To say the least, the 2012 contest excitement collapsed after Rick Santorum excited the race – and that excitement was on the GOP side, with the most enthusiasm coming from political junkies, pundits, reporters and the various candidate supporters.

The next phase: picking the V.P. (once the nomination is secure by virtue of accumulated delegates on the GOP side), followed by the beginnings of the General Election Campaign. The debates between the two candidates: Mitt Romney and Barack Obama, might not be a “grab the popcorn” moment, but then again, Romney, who’s debate skills have sharpened in recent years, has a take no prisoners approach to the debate, and the President, who’s oratorical skills are the legend of the media, may be found to ramble on a bit if cornered – between the two candidates, it may end up being more entertaining than previously imagined. In addition, Romney, who has been seriously vetted during the primary process, leaves little for the President to attack: should he attack Romney’s Health Care Mandate as Governor - Or Romney’s change of heart on issues? (Notably both candidates have flipped and flopped over the course of the past four years with lightening speed.) Romney, on the other hand has mounds of ammunition, those relating to the economy, foreign policy, and scandals within the green energy companies which were propped up by the Administration (see Solyndra).

What is somewhat unfortunate, in any general election, is that the State’s who hold primary contests after March, are left out of choices, other than protest votes, should they not approve of a candidate. The last competitive race in a general election was in 2008 between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. The race ended with the June Primaries, and was settled at the Democrat National Convention by virtue of Super Delegate votes handing the nomination to Barack Obama. Clinton had the popular vote going into the Convention, the rest is, as they say, history.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Mitt Romney and the Press – let the Negatives Begin


Romney versus Obama - Image CNN Political Ticker

Mitt Romney has not yet clinched the Republican Nomination, although he is seen as the presumptive nominee due to little competition and large primary states coming up between now and May, which will put him over the top. With that “title”, the press has begun to ratchet up the negatives, while the number of news alerts on Google has dwindled to a trickle. It is John McCain II – once the “say anything to get a story” Mike Huckabee finally conceded to McCain, it was as if McCain has fallen off the face of the earth – the news outlets given exponentially greater time to Candidate Obama, and an obligatory short story, on McCain. One can expect that this will be attempted a second time, however, success may elude the press, as well as the President.

One article of out of the 7 alerts over the weekend that contained an article on Mitt Romney, was fairly positive, and that came from the Washington Post, and op-ed by Jennifer Rubin titled: “5 Things About the Romney Campaign”. In order: Romney can walk and chew gum at the same time, Romney’s Campaign understands what it needs, (regarding hiring the right support staff), Romney’s game plan for reaching out to Hispanics (he has one), Romney has rallied the base without moving to the right, and finally, Romney isn’t going to turn himself inside out to “bond with voters”. (WAPO).

Of note, Rubin’s column is entitled “Right Turn”, however to note that Romney can walk and chew gum at the same time, suggests that his ability to return a punch is on target, and frankly, that’s a given. Romney’s rough and tumble primary had prepped him for anything, and he’s able to take punches with the best of them – looking righteous rather than petty. He also believes that he can make the economy work, and work with Democrats to get things moving again in Washington – he knows this because he accomplished this, in part, in Massachusetts. In part, only because as Govenor, he was vastly outnumbered by Progressive and often felonious legislators, who gave no quarter to the Governor. Working with a more national body of legislators, Romney would be able to convince and leverage. He also acts with a sense of urgency – something that has been missing for the past four to twelve years.

Romney’s campaign knows what it needs: both in terms of balancing its own budget and making cuts hewn necessary, in months where the campaign need to spend heavy, to bring it up to a surplus, and in hiring, one has to know Romney did not get where he is in the business world by hiring friends and supporters rather than actual qualified individuals.

Romney’s plan to reach out to Hispanics is anyone’s plant o reach out to Hispanics, Hispanics as a group (like women, like Asians, like anyone who is an American), are hurting economically – they know it, and are not blindly partisan – the promise of prosperity versus more entitlements is the key which Romney holds. Hispanics, like any other American, wants to succeed, own a businesses, work to send their children to college- they, like anyone else living in the Untied States, understand we’ve gone backwards, not forwards, and it is a question of leadership.

Romney has rallied the base without turning to the right – The base, and or anyone that remotely considers themselves a Republican or Independent or Democrat leaning Republican does not necessarily care if Mitt Romney or Mickey Mouse is the GOP #1 – It’s the press who cares, Romney need only be himself – which is “anybody but Obama” – In 2008 some of the GOP electorate felt McCain and/or Palin as his running mate, was not particularly exciting, so they had no real reason to get out and vote (and by the way, the constant Romney as inevitable nominee, managed to keep voters at home in the primary – which is not the general). Romney may not be able to carry at tune, he may even be burning at times, but now the electorate has a comparison – Romney or – Obama. Republicans are going to vote, and so are Independents, and one might hazarded to guess more than a few moderate to conservative (blue dog) Democrats who have had enough.

Romney’s bond with voters – One has to be living under a bubble not to have noticed that Romney is at the least trying to bond with voters, and looks more comfortable doing so – plus he has Ann Romney – no need to go further. In the primary process, with individuals choosing candidates and sides, the rhetoric often becomes heated – mean-spirited, and ridiculous – that’s the point, once those “hard feelings” fade away (well before August), one will see a bond that is tighter than one might imagine. (See hard feelings and PUMA vis a vis, the Obama – Clinton wars leading through June and up through the Democrat Convention in 2008.

One of the many ridiculously “why Obama is the better Choice” or “What wrong with Mitt Romney” articles, comes from the Daily Beast, of all sites: entitled: “Democrats Have Bigger Anti-Mormon Problem in Election Than GOP” a recitation of a Gallup poll on religion and preferences with voters, who apparently cannot readily accept Mormonism as easily as say Catholicism (ask Rick Santorum about that point), the gist, more Democrats take issue with Romney’s Mormonism and religion in general because they are secularist.

The reality, Democrats as a whole are more bigoted.

When one considers, that your basic Progressive believes in a system that elevates “elites” and the rest of the population is delegated to the role of the “masses”, that should send off warning bells left and right. The notion that the minorities must be “taken care of” simply because they are not capable of taking care of themselves, is a big theme – and that includes: Hispanics, African American and Women – all of whom are too stupid to understand what they might need to do to help them. To bring up religion as an issue with a Progressive or Democrat, is not particularly germane to their bigotry, but more as a point of order when it comes to the campaign. If a Religion is different, then they have something to go on, and, as the macho, rank and file, (masses of the union), get their heads wrapped around a talking point – its businesses as usual. Meanwhile, press releases will be out and the press will tout the Democrats as the party of unity, which literally means putting groups into units, or categories which are more easily controlled as voting blocs. Strong words, true, however, how else does one explain the utter hypocrisy of a political group that categorizes, and then continues to do little to improve the “plight” of each category?

It is not to say that Republicans are much better, because they fail to point out the obvious often enough. Also one has to admit – Pink Elephants – the women’s arm of the GOP – could have been renamed something less insulting – it sounds like a cocktail.

Now the Beast was referring to the fact that one the one-hand there is the incumbent-African-American President and on the other, a Mormon! The aforementioned are just two groups that have face discrimination, one of ethnicity and one of religion - its comparing apples to oranges. There we go with the categories again – Going back to the day Roger Williams left the rigid Pilgrims in Massachusetts to form Rhode Island and offer a bit more religious freedom than allowed under the Massachusetts Colony – religion has been a point in the American Culture. This is most probably the point of the Constitution pointing out most explicitly that there would be separation of church and state, and no one state religion would be allowed. The purpose was not to remove religion from the public square; it was to prevent a religion from being a state religion, with all members of the nation, practicing the same. (See Iran).

From the beginning, whether was a Papist (Roman Catholic), a Jew, or any number of the Protestant denomination, and later in the 1800’s a Mormon; one faced some sort of disdain from the other. The fact that the Mormon question is appareling more frequently suggests that the Press and the President’s campaign will use that as a way to leverage votes among those masses who are not bright enough to think for themselves. (Women, Hispanics, African-American’s, the list goes on).

Here’s the crux of the matter, none of the above matters in this election. The only thing the voter has to ask themselves is: Are you better off today than you were four years ago? This does not necessarily apply to the very little left of the middle income American’s who are struggling, but to those who are trying to make ends meet on fixed incomes, or smaller incomes (even with families working two jobs). All the promises, and the rhetoric in the world, all the lies, and the division that will come from the left (speaking of division) will more than probably fall upon deaf ears.

The things about history and its repetitive cycle is that if one lives long enough, one can see the patterns develop that have a déjà vu about them – predictive of an outcome. Although with a certainty, one can say Mitt Romney is no Ronald Reagan, one can most certainly look to a comparison between Carter and Obama and see the writing on the wall. Which may account for the Ostrich effect shown by the Media (of which, it is apparent, Romney has no problem letting them know where he stands, a plus), in attempting to either hide (by lack of coverage) or demean (though coverage) Mitt Romney’s candidacy.

Bloggers Note: Those who have read this blog, even causally, understand that this blogger had supported every GOP candidate with the exception of Ron Paul, as the “anti-Romney” – for reasons as simple as “Fees” versus “Taxes” and the whole mandate on insurance, or on anything for that matter, including use of helmets – it is, the streak of independence that pervades, and the inclination to “stick it to the guy who raised the cost of fishing license.” (That would be Mitt Romney). However, in the real word, those aside, one is faced between the lesser of two evils, and in reviewing Romney, with all his flips and his flops, one finds him infinitely preferable to the current resident of the White House. Romney knows ups and downs, he’s won, he’s lost, he’s lived in an apartment and he managed to make something of himself – a success – one can disagree with business tactics, but that’s a 1960’s school of thought that sees all “corporations” as evil (See Hippies, including those leftovers that are currently Professors or teachers in our schools and on campus). Finally, it’s the pocketbook – as I watched my salary decline, while actually rising, as I watched food prices slowly rising and packaging slowly shrinking, as I watched people in grocery stores look at meat, meat, and walk away (see fixed incomes), watching the job market shrink and well-qualified, degreed and competent individuals be grateful to work for retail at minimum wage rather than face unemployment again. We have downsized as a nation, where those of us old enough to remember understood that was not the natural order of the U.S., that we would rise, and that we would have retirement savings or the ability at least for modest savings, that we would be self-sufficient, and enjoy the protection of the government (i.e. military protection to trash pickup), rather than rely on the government for the basics of food and shelter.), that our children would go to college, and find employment and be able to comfortably find an apartment, and pay off their student loans, similar to what those of this bloggers generation did in the 1970’s – this is not the course we are on now, and the only way out is to exercise to vote. Warn to Romney – You betcha – hook, line and sinker.

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