Friday, April 05, 2013
The UN Statue -No Need for Words here - image from Chicago Outdoor Sculpture Blog - New York and Chicago
Rand Paul, the Senator from Kentucky, is pretty darn smart – that from someone who watched C-Span for hours on end, while the Senator spoke endlessly, with certainty, eloquence and did not miss a beat hammering home the dangers of an Executive Branch who could not, or would not answer a simple question – did the President believe he had the authority to drone U.S. civilians into oblivion? The answer came to Paul in the form of a note after endless hours on the floor of the senate – Nope – the President does not have that authority. That’s when the nation stood up and took notice of Senator Paul - and it was a varied bunch supporting him – a vigil of sorts, watching C-Span into the wee hours of the morning and tweeting “I stand with Rand” – from Code Pink to your grandmothers who had never tweeted – to Republicans and Democrats who found a common issue.
In other words, the Senator breached the political divide - he’s also headed to New Hampshire and Iowa – a sure sign that he has eyes on running for President in 2016. Now the Senator is a crackpot – according to the Press. There will be derogatory remarks made against this Doctor turned Senator, some will be more aggressive than others, there may even be the outright lie, here and there – however, one knows he is upsetting the applecart of DC when the press goes nuclear.
The latest attempt to suggest the Senator may have a screw loose comes from the Washington Post – the blog title: ”Rand Paul and the Politics of Paranoia”, written by one of those anti-gun nuts that are battling the NRA and the Second Amendment (more on that). In the article, it suggests that Rand Paul is “feeding the craziness” that surrounds sane gun control measures, simply because he believes that that UN is pushing the US to a global gun-control measure, and that is stopping progress of insuring that law abiding citizens can’t get their hands on guns without going through hoops.
One who understands that Senator Paul is a Libertarian leaning Republican, and one who understands the differences between the political philosophies, will also understand that Libertarians are keen on the U.S. Constitution – A global treaty that the UN is pushing would restrict U.S. citizens second amendment rights – which is fine with the Post’s blogger who obviously cannot see the forest through the trees.
The UN is a political body that is protected and funded by the U.S. as its headquarters sits in NYC. They unsuccessfully attempt to solve world conflicts, and come up with ways to stop hunger in third world nations (also not going swimmingly well) – which is where their “authority” should stop.
Therefore, when the US and some members of its body politic are seriously considering a UN treaty that would be a conflict to our Constitution – it would not be unusual for a Libertarian to suggest it’s a bad idea. It should not be unusual for the entire nation to stand up and say – hey- bad idea. Those Democrats and some Republicans who are pushing for gun control, most likely have good intentions, but there is the Law of the Land (Constitution), and they might find another way to control violence.
However, the article on the face of it is not solely about gun control (as it appears) but at taking a swipe at someone who is currently polling in single digits against Hillary Clinton in 2016 (Public Policy Polling). (She polls ahead of every Republican named in this survey by single digits – and she is the frontrunner for the Democrat Party in this 2016 poll.) It’s planting the seed for 2016 – just in case there is a repeat performance of support for Paul – in a primary and general election. Out will come the “crackpot” articles and interviews on CBS, NBC and ABC, et al. The problem these sources have, is that the louder they scream, it appears the fewer viewers they have – go figure. Expect more of the same in the coming months and through the 2016 election cycle.
On the gun control issue – the problem we face is multi-faceted, and unless and until the politicians and the media get a grip on the situation we are faced with in this nation – mass shootings such as the ones in Newtown Connecticut and Aurora Colorado, will continue to occur. The focus should not be on those who legally own guns, who already go through background checks in the licensing process (Check the individual state, pick one, any one licensing requirements, such as Massachusetts for example: you will find that a criminal background check is in order, complete with FBI fingerprinting, a mental health questionnaire, et al.) The individual attempting to legally own a gun is doing so for protection, hunting, and or sport, not to go out on a rampage. Massachusetts, with some of the strictest gun control laws, has murders nightly and routinely (just Google shooting in Massachusetts) – those that take place, are generally gang related, and one can bet the house it was a gun purchased on the street – when no gun is available, knives do quite well. Yet no one appears to be talking about legislation that would lock up someone for possession of an illegal weapon for an extended period of time – no parole. Neither is there much talk of monitoring those who have serious mental nervous issues that might suggest a mass killing. If one looks back at the multiple murders (high profile) committed over the past few decades, one finds a disturbing pattern – the majority were males, with serious mental/nervous conditions. Yet, the big focus is on the individual citizen who is in possession of a firearm. Those that are sitting in ivory towers may theorize that if the citizens can’t get guns, neither can the criminals, may also be a step closer to the crazy train than those who feel that having a gun may protect one from those same criminals, or that the UN has no business interfering with U.S. Constitutional Rights. Surely the Post Blogger is smart enough to grasp that concept – therefore, one might suggest that it is a “political hit”.
Thursday, April 04, 2013
2016 Begins - Rand Paul Headed for New Hampshire – PPP Poll Show Paul Gaining Ground on Christie While Clinton Leads Overall – for Now
The 2016 Field Suggested by PP
Senator Rand Paul will be in New Hampshire in Mayto attend the New Hampshire GOP Liberty Dinner. Rand Paul will be the first potential 2016 candidate to step foot in the Granite State, according to CNN. Paul is also schedule to attend Lincoln Day Dinner in Cedar Rapids, Iowa in May(USA Today). This puts the Kentucky Senator in the two “first” states for 2016 – the first primary being held in New Hampshire and the first caucus being held in Iowa. To those watching the 2016 field begin to unfold, it is a clear sign that Paul has intentions of running for the Oval Office.
If one questions how well Rand Paul would fare, Public Policy Polling has begun their 2016 survey’s – the Miami Herald offers an overview of the poll which shows Paul gaining significant ground on Marc Rubio (R-FL), now coming in second place, pushing New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to 3rd. On the Democrat side, it is clear, at this point, that Hillary Clinton has the majority of support, followed by V.P. Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren (the new Democrat Senator from Massachusetts) and rounding out the field, Andrew Cuomo of New York. This poll shows Clinton besting all rivals, on both sides, but in match-ups against Republican’s the margin is at 7% approximately – Christie fares the best (Clinton 46, Christie 42), with Rand Paul in second (Clinton 49, Paul 43)(Miami Herald)
In reality it is still far too early to poll seriously, given the fact that there are potential candidates on both sides of the usual aisles that have not either been included in the polling, or have not come to the forefront. There are two key points that can be taken from PPP’s early polling. The first is that Rand Paul is a potential candidate that requires watching. His brand of Libertarian Republicanism appeals across a broad spectrum, which includes individuals from both parties. He is young, and fresh, compared with the balance of those forecasted (with the obvious exception of Marc Rubio). Hillary Clinton commands serious speculation; however, one must be wary of the powers that be in the Democrat machine when it comes to Clinton. She is more than qualified, as she was in 2008 (compared to the field which included John McCain and Barack Obama). However, despite winning the popular vote in the primary, she was shut down at the Democrat Convention as the party leaders used Super-Delegates to oust Clinton and hand Barack Obama the nomination. Those operatives in the same Progressive segment of the Democrat Party have decided to push one Elizabeth Warren in 2016 – should Clinton decide to throw her hat in the ring, Warren if she runs as she told to do – and one could very well see a repeat of the Super Delegates voting the half term Senator from Massachustts to the top of the ticket. Warren, a former Harvard Professor, sailed to a win in Massachusetts against the popular Scott Brown, basically due to Massachusetts Democrat Leanings, during a general election, on a ticket with Barack Obama, who has one of his highest approval ratings in the nation in Massachustts. In other words, Democrats swept Massachusetts on Barack Obama’s coattails. This does not bode well for a general election candidate on their own, regardless of, or perhaps especially if that candidate is a woman.
From the perspective of a feminist, Clinton was the no-brainer candidate in 2008, the one chance the Democrats had of being the first major political party to put a woman in the White House. Statistically, the odds are not good that there would be a woman nominated in such a short period of time (given the 3 decades between the first woman to be nominated to the bottom of a ticket, (Ferraro) and the last to e nominated to the bottom of a ticket (Palin), and in both cases, that ticket lost. Have hearts and minds towards women in leadership positions changed in the last eight years? That is the question, which, political correctness aside, anyone with any sense understands it has not. The only woman that would stand a chance and only a chance of besting an opponent would be Clinton, and that would strongly depend upon who the opponent might be.
Clinton comes across are formidable, out of all the candidates named in the PPP poll. However, a mere 7 points separates her, even this early in the game from the GOP names tossed into the poll. Pretending all things are equal and Clinton would be viewed on a par with male counterparts, and would be treated the same by media and the populace in general, she would have a dickens of a time against the Doctor turned Senator from Kentucky. Paul would have no problem with the youth vote, his fiscal conservative credentials would bode well with the Republican base, with the exception of some social conservatives that may have a problem with his stance certain positions – however, that said, his stance on those positions from a Libertarian standpoint, coincide with the Constitution – giving States the power to decide social issues - that’s a plus and could easily be used as a persuadable. He’s already shown he can cross partisan line (See the variety of supporters of his now-infamous drone filibuster.), and to boot, he’s younger. The later attribute should not be a factor, however, it was used successfully in the last two elections, the first with John McCain, no need to explain that one, and the second, with Romney as being “out-of-touch”, parodies as being more from the 50’s - not quite as “hip” as the President. It was pitting Thurston Howell the Third, against James Dean. Therefore, if one were looking through a crystal ball (which does not exist), at the current crop mentioned in the PPO poll, one would see Paul taking the GOP primary field, and, based on recent history, Elizabeth Warren as the opponent. No need to speculate on the outcome there. To be fair, it would be difficult for any Democrat to contrast themselves to Paul’s brand of Republicanism, unless the Democrat nominee were to come out of the closet as a Socialist and all that implies. The only powers capable of mucking up the waters on both sides of the spectrum are the party players not mentioned those in the National GOP and DNC, especially if one is running as a Republican.
All said and done, it is still wildly early to speculate, as again, there are the unknowns at this point, and far too many variables that exist, given the year before one starts to see those who would begin to challenge. That should logically occur after the mid-terms in 2014.
Wednesday, April 03, 2013
North Korea and the Dangers of Insulation, The Press and the Unhinged. What if Young Un gave a threat and Nobody Reacted?
Enough Said - image from T2C online
When one thinks of North Korea, one normally knows very little about the country – other than it is a communist dictatorship, propped up by China, which starves its population of both food and light, especially those who are perceived as a threat to the “government”. There is literally no escape from North Korea, except by a treacherous route, and should one survive the journey, one is then sentencing their family to a life in a camp that will kill them. In meeting an individual from the north of China, speaking about the Korean’s, the stories told are chilling. The North Korean’s, should they escape to China, are summarily returned in a fashion similar to that used during the Dark Ages, and then executed. This is plain sight of nationals on both sides of the border. It is in keeping with a culture that is incomprehensible to those living in the West, as are most eastern or “exotic” nations-those that are perceived to be “modern”, are, in essence, dangerously living centuries behind in terms of human rights, and those governments relationships with their citizens. This is the non-politically correct assessment.
North Korea, under a third-generation dictatorship, is the unusual position of having a young individual as the “Head of State”, and as the “Supreme Rule”, or some such moniker, Kim Jung Un. He is attempting to establish himself both globally and one would suspect with a nation where, although starving and deprived of essentials, the admiration of the citizen is essential, in his own country. Therefore, in order to show his strength, the young man has decided to threaten the world with nuclear war.
How is the world reacting, especially the U.S. where the majority of the threats are aimed, as well as our ally, South Korea, which, is one of the most developed nations, along with Japan in that area, on a par with the U.S. This young man, who, according to ABC News, is not running the country at all, it is his Aunt and Uncle that are pulling the strings, however, this is based on speculation. One would suspect that not unlike the Caesar’s of Rome, or any of the European Kings brought early to the throne, he is of his own mind, regardless of whether or not he has the wherewithal to lead someone across the street, let alone a nation.
This is why the situation is now growing increasingly out of control. The North Korean’s have the capability of launching missiles, as to how far is still open to speculation, however, with the aid of their allies, such as China, they are on target to produce a nuclear warhead, if they do not already have them, again, that’s an unknown. The U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry is issuing warnings to the North Korean’s, suggesting the “rhetoric is provocative, dangerous, reckless”, in an attempt to warn the young leader that the nation has gone too far. (Guardian UK) Meanwhile, the North Korean’s have suggested they will reopen a nuclear complex that is capable of producing bomb grade materials. (Guardian UK). This morning, the New York Times and other media are reportingthat the North Korean’s have blocked the South Korean’s from entering a shared industrial complex, adding “fuel” to the fire.
The U.S. has already deployed naval support to the area, including radar that has the capability to transmit data to equipment that would then block the missiles from hitting their intended targets. The young leader has mapped out targets in his “war room”, that include U.S. cities on the east and west coast, as well as Hawaii – one of the cities suggested is Austin Texas. (Washington Post.)
It is, and has been, a great deal of posturing, however, that is what makes the situation and the way it is handled diplomatically dangerous. Perhaps, not unlike those living in nations where threats against the U.S. are constant, there is a rage against the west, primarily because the West has the capabilities to produce and distribute much to a free people, including soft drinks, and one would suspect in the minds of the North Korean’s, ample electricity allowing even the most remote U.S. cities to have actual lights on in the evening. Thus the family dictatorship chose to focus on a military build-up, spending every cent on attaining the pretense of power, while their citizens starve and live in the dark.
There is no reasoning, or threats, or bribes (the U.S. has given aid to North Korean in the past in exchange for their promise not to build nuclear weapons under several administrations.) that are adequate in the face of what is, for lack of better words, insanity and ignorance of the world.
What if the U.S., instead of issuing warnings, just ignored the young sprout? What if, the U.S. quietly, without the media blaring World War III, moved a few ships to Japan, which is not usual on the face of it? What would happen if the youngster did not get world press and turn into a parody of a cartoon character hell bent on destroying the world? What would one’s 2 year old do? The child might throw a fit, perhaps break something, but if no one responded, would they not come to realize that perhaps, just perhaps, their tantrums were being ignored, and perhaps, just perhaps, better behavior was in order?
That scenario offers a risk yes, but in a world that is on the brink of a potential catastrophe, using a little child psychology mixed in with diplomacy might just do the trick. In the event that junior deicided to lob a missile at the U.S., then, it is apparent we have the capabilities to deflect that action. At that point, it would behoove our allies, especially China, to step in and put down the very heavy economic boot, refusing to give further food or military aid to the nation. Actually, in a perfect world, such a gesture from China would be the first step, however, better late than never.
Tuesday, April 02, 2013
Stockton CA, Bankruptcy – State of California 127 Billion in Debt – Highest Tax Rate in Nation – Comparison on States – Texas on Top, Budget Excesses, No Program Cuts – Find Your State to Compare
Some residents are fleeing California for Texas - images: calisscreaming and daydreamtoy.
The City of Stockton, California has court permission to file bankruptcy according to the Los Angles Times The City is one of “a half-dozen” that are currently seeking bankruptcy protection, creditors were fighting to have Stockton cut its payments to the State Employee Pension plan, which had to be funded under CA state law. “The $900 million Stockton owes to the California Public Employees Retirement System to cover pensions is its biggest debt -– as is the case with many cities in California.” Ruling on the case, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Christopher Klein, suggested to creditors that the state’s employees pension plan may also end up on the chopping block This may set a precedent for other cities that are under water with public employee pensions and benefits, allowing cities in California and elsewhere to restructure under Federal bankruptcy laws.
Meanwhile, the state of California has a negative net work of 127 Billion dollars. A negative net worth equates to 127 billion in the red Not included: the States “much-disputed unfunded liabilities for state employees' future pensions, nor the $60-plus billion in unfunded liabilities for retiree health care.”(Sacramento Bee).
Since the State of California has the highest State Sales Taxes, Gasoline Taxes, Personal Income Taxes, Corporate Sales Taxes and even property taxes despite proposition 13, (California Tax Payers Association), why it is that they are in the red, with cities that are filing under bankruptcy protection? California bought and sold the concept of higher taxes on Millionaires – therefore, they should have a boatload of cash – unless of course, when a State levies burdensome taxes on corporations and individuals, added to the taxes on Obama care and Federal Income and Corporate taxes, those individuals tend to move to less taxing environments. As do corporations that employee individuals who would then become taxpayers. Therefore, with the highest tax rates, one would think California would have an excess.
Compare Texas with California : NASBO, (THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF STATE BUDGET OFFICERS), survey of states (in PDF) Texas at year end 2013, had a “rainy day fund” of over 6 billion, second only to oil rich Alaska, at 14 Billions. The chart on state general funds is found on page 4; California has a negative balance, the only state that has that distinction. On page 12 are enacted budget cuts for 2013, showing states with possible cuts in K-12 Education, Higher Education, Public Assistance, Medicaid, Transportation Corrections and Other. With this table one sees both Texas and California cutting programs, however, moving to the next table on Page 13, one finds that in the Case of Texas and California, the cuts are negative (an increase in those programs). In the case of Texas, this is across the board, while California has actual cuts in Higher Education and Other, but budget increases for other programs. Check your state by clicking anywhere in this paragraph.
The reasoning behind this particular comparison is the fact that Texas has one of the lower tax rates nationwide, is right next door to California and finally, many of those Californian’s earning and hoping to keep at least a portion of their paychecks, or wishing to find a job periods, are moving to – Texas.
This overview of the State Governments, and the size of the State Governments (not unlike the current size of our Federal Government) suggest that state where the tax rates have been cut or are lower for individuals and corporations, create a climate of prosperity, whereas, those that have high tax rates for both simply do not.
Other factors for states in the black with surpluses, not surprisingly, are those where the State’s government tends to be run by fiscal conservatives, have right to work laws (Non-Union), and actively court new business and residents with the promise of lower taxes.
State employees according to Government Executive Magazine, out-earn private sector peers by 6%. How do states compare? Governing, the State and Localities, “By the Numbers”, offers a chart here comparing states based on which offers Public employees the highest percentage above the Public sector: California is the Highest differential of the 50 states, while in Texas, the private sector earns slightly more. (Other states that offer a competitive edge (even slightly) to the private sector are: Alaska, Louisiana, North Dakota, and New York (which includes Upstate).
The proof as they say is in the pudding. If one were to restructure the public sector employees’ salaries and pensions to those of the private sector, offer realistic corporate and personal tax rates, the states, like Texas, might find themselves out of the red and into the black.
One might also suggest that if the Federal Government budgeted similarly to the states (specifically Texas, (based on the size, population density, industry, ports, and natural recourses’), the nation would experience growth. John F. Kennedy realized this, so did George W. Bush - more money in the hands of Washington DC does not make for national prosperity. One need only examine the States to see where success may be had, and note that programs do not suffer as a result. This is a classic Jeffersonian philosophy of moving the power to the States rather than the Federal Government. (See Jefferson on States’ rights at www.loc.gov/exhibits/jefferson.jeffed.htm
Monday, April 01, 2013
Election 2013 – Massachusetts Special Election- Primary – Does One Vote their Conscious, their Wallet or their Party? Who are the Candidates for the Senate Seat and why It Matters. – Issue: ObamaCare
In the Bay State, there appears to be one political power that is a powerhouse, the Democrats, who control the majority of seats in both the State House and the State Senate, as well as the Governor’s office, and the varied city, town and municipal offices – yet, Democrats comprise approximately 35.3% of the States Electorate, when it comes to registered voters, according to the Massachusetts Secretary of States’ office. The Balance of registered voters (from the 2012 voter rolls), 11.5% Republican, .15% Green Party, .4% other, and a whopping 52.58% who are unenrolled and hypothetically vote for whomever they please having no party affiliation. (MA Sectary of State).
There are five candidates running – two Democrats, both U.S. Congressional Representatives: Ed Markey, who has been in the U.S. Congress since 1976 and is a solid Democrat vote in the House, he voted straight party line for The Affordable Health Care Act (ObamaCare). (U.S.House) Stephen Lynch is the opposition Democrat candidate in the Primary, is also a U.S. Congressman, has been in the U.S. Congress since 2001, and his vote was against Obama Care. He is not, always, a reliable Democrat vote in the House, it depends upon the issue, and on this particular Issue, he voted against his Party. (U.S. House)
On the Republican Ticket, one has Gabriel Gomez, a young, former Democrat, who is in favor of repeal, believing the States should design their own programs.(Gomezforms.com). Gomez had written a letter to Governor Deval Patrick outlining his support for the President, and his policies, asking the Govenor to appoint him as an interim Senator. In the letter, he described himself a as moderate, and, as New England Cable News points out, he then suggested he also supported Republican John McCain in 20008.
Michael Sullivan, former U.S. Attorney and crime fighter, is a stalwart Republican, pro-life, Catholic, who was part of the Romney Administration in the State, he has no website for his campaign that appears in Bing or Google searches. In the Republican Debate, he suggested repeal of Obama Care – and does not support the Health Care Law as written (Gazette.net)
Lastly, there is the Libertarian leaning Dan Winslow , - Dan Winslow’s Issue Page, does not refer to the Health Care Act, rather, focuses on the Debt, Jobs, and Energy as the first three priorities. That said, In a recent debate, he is somewhat opposed to Obama Care, and emphasized state’s rights options, citing Massachusetts having an adequate program in place, and suggesting states that meet guidelines under the law, would be exempt from the law, including taxes Mass Live.
As far as the Health Care Act, its hyper-inflated bureaucracy, the fees’ for non-compliance, the increase in insurance premiums for private policies, and the obvious boost to the Insurance companies (one big DC lobby or two), the list goes on, appears to be a hodge podge of options that those that wrote the bill suggested, placing them willy-nilly in no specific order (having read this monstrosity, it is somewhat intelligible, but that’s about it – there are no true costs savings measures, rather additional debt, and the unformatted suggestions that with the cost of implementation, the taxes that are attached to cover specific programs, that there will still be 50 million uninsured in 10 years. In other words, the bill as written gives no assurances that there will be any net positive changes to U.S. Health Care delivery.
But what does Obama Care, Abortion, the Defense of Marriage Act, really have to do with someone running for Senate, other than give the public who may or most likely will not vote in the primary (but will vote in the general election), an idea of how that individual might vote if, and this is a big if, that issue ever was brought to the Senate Floor. With the abortion issue, one knows that it is stated law, and has been decided in the Supreme Court. With the Defense of Marriage Act (or the current, case before the Supreme Court on striking down the Law (which defines marriage as between one-man and one woman), again, it is a Supreme Court issue, and not an issue that will be address in any Federal office (unless of course, someone is running (either party) and needs to use it as a way to strike fear into the hearts of those pro and con in order to get votes.
What the next U.S. Senator will be is either a “party stamp” or someone who thinks for themselves and will vote as they feel the people they represent will best benefit. The only two that strike a chord at this point for this blogger are Stephen Lynch and Dan Winslow. The defense is made by Winslow, who is from Western Massachusetts (not a reason to vote for anyone), but his ability to annoy both major parties, with his Libertarian views.
Lynch would be a second choice, as he is not a straight party vote, but..he is party identified.
What we have here is a somewhat new phenomenon of Liberation-Republican’s, who strict Constitutionalist and are big of personal liberty. They are anti-war, unless of course, to defend, and they are pro-individual and states’ rights, they are above all, fiscally conservative, while being less than enthusiastic about social issues.
On Social Issues: Although this blogger is pro-life (no abortion- no death penalty), and sees no purpose in changing the meaning of marriage as it now stands (given that it is, for the most part a religious term), rather would see legal partnerships that would allow for all “couples” be they strait, gay, or otherwise, allowed to care for one another, with benefits associated, across the board. Those wanting to have a religious aspect or Marriage would do so by going to their church or synagogue or mosque.
On abortion; as the Supreme Court is about to decide on the issue of Gay Marriage in two cases, one brought to strike down a California proposition banning Gay Marriage and one that cites DOMA as Unconstitutional, a ruling in June is anticipated. As no one knows how the justices will finally rule, one understand that all justices, those liberal those conservative on the court, are not thrilled to be voting on this issue, and many have indicated through oral arguments that this belongs to the states. Should they decide to rule it a State issue, that will have a bearing on those who would attempt to change Abortion, bringing it back to the court, and with the precedent set (should that be the course) that Gay Marriage is a state issues, why not abortion? This is of course hypothetical now as no one knows the minds of the justices, but both those battles will be fought in the courts.
Leaving Candidates to claim they are anti-or pro on social issues, that they have little or no say over.
One might think in this election therefore, one should be concerned more with their pocketbook, and in that wise, the fiscal conservative, Winslow, will go the distance to protect the rights of the taxpayer.
Note: Although this will be a little watched, and low voter turn-out primary, with an anticipated low-voter turnout special election, it will be decided by those who are more politically minded, and in as this is Massachusetts, those who declare no party.