Saturday, December 31, 2011

Only One of My Least Favorite Colunnists

I had written this to send to my local paper. 

Since she is published in papers throughout the country I thought it might be alright to add it to my Blog.

                 Michelle Malkin is incredible.

She struggles so hard to find fault with President Obama and his family. Usually she launches her attack on Mrs. Obama.  She finds fault with the First Lady’s attempt to set an example for America’s kids by encouraging them to eat better and control their body fat. This has resulted in better school meals with more fruits and vegetables and less  french fries and other deep fat fried foods. How is this bad?

This week she decided to find scandals in the Obama administration where there are none. She begins by attacking Carole Browner, the President’s former adviser on air pollution. She negotiated an agreement with every supplier of cars in America which will require an average of 35.4 m/g by 2016, about the same as in China.

Malkin complains about the way this was achieved. As far as I’m concerned Ms. Browner could have locked the auto execs in a room and kept them there until they had worked out the details of this historic agreement. 

The Obama administration has built on that agreement to create a new one that will require performance equivalent to 54.5 mpg by 2025. It is estimated that these standards will over the next 14 years save Americans $1.7 trillion and by 2025 will result in an average fuel savings of over $8000 per vehicle.

I am sure Ms. Malkin and her far-right friends will still be able to find a gas guzzling truck or even a Hummer to drive around in. Maybe she should buy one now.  She can store it with all those incandescent bulbs she is saving.

She next turns her attention to the Affordable Care Act. She spouts tired old arguments regarding waivers that have been issued for existing but non-complying health care insurance packages.

There are a great many low income people who receive bare bones health insurance with big deductibles and low caps. These plans are usually referred to as “mini med plans”. Under the Act, real health insurance will not be available to them until 2014. The Act permits employers and unions to apply for waivers so these people will at least have some coverage until the act( the Supreme Court willing)  takes affect. In 2014 these plans must be replaced with plans that meet the standards set by the Act.
She also (along with most of her right-wing cronies) claims that the fact that a large number of plans in the district represented by Congresswoman Pelosi have been granted waivers shows that politics has been involved in this process. San Francisco, unlike most states or cities, requires small business owners to contribute to their employees health cost. In order to comply, a number of businesses combined to create funds known as HRA’s, which are mini med plans and qualify for a waiver. The large number of these in San Francisco accounts for the large number of waivers granted in that district. A plan administrator who obtained a great many of these waivers denied that politics was involved. In addition he pointed out that there would be no need for political help. The process was easy. You make application and if the plan qualifies it gets a waiver.

 My conclusion after reading this column was that Ms. Malkin considers any action with which she doesn’t agree a scandal. She quotes Dartmouth Political Science Professor, Dr. Nyhan, who wrote a scholarly 30 page paper setting forth the combination of events necessary to create a scandal. Ms. Malkin should have read more than the first page.

The rest of her “scandals” are the same, products of her far-right imagination. There are a number of thoughtful intelligent conservative columnists. George Will, David Krauthammer and David Brooks leap to mind. I would encourage  papers to employ one of them so that I don’t need to be, periodically, offended by Ms. Malkins far-right drivel.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Republicans Block a Tax Break for Working Class Americans

The children are at it again. In the House they are stamping their feet screaming and rolling in the aisle.

This time the adults are paying no attention.

The adults over in the Senate have decided not only to ignore this temper tantrum but to go home for the holidays.

The gang leader Jon Boehner has been left to beg the President to come talk to him and the Senators to come back from vacation so he will have some one to play with.

Mitch McConnell and the other kids in the Senate have realized how Santa feels about bad children. They hope that being good will be rewarded with lots of toys and other presents on Christmas morning. Not likely after the year they have had.

The President’s family has left to spend Christmas in Hawaii and I am sure he would like to be with them. His disappointment has been blunted by all the fun he is having in Washington.

 Every day he gets to go before the TV cameras or a press conference. Some of his best lines have been inspired by this tantrum. “Is Washington so broken that even when we all agree we can’t get anything done?” He had to bring people on stage to explain that a $40 tax break means a tank of gas to visit a sick relative, a present for a sick child, or being able to pay the heating bill.

I am sure the best part was watching his poll numbers climb, while the Republicans in the Senate chastised the children in the House.

Mitch McConnell had gotten major concessions from the Democrats. They had agreed to pay for the tax cut by imposing a fee on middle class people who receive a mortgage from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The alternative was to ask the millionaires and billionaires to pay for it. The Republicans moaned- “not the job creators”. Do this and they will not be able to afford a new Masserati next year. Think of the damage that will cause the Italian economy!

They argued that if the middle class can afford TVs and Refrigerators they can also afford to pay for this middle class tax break.

They got Obama to agree to decide whether the Keystone pipeline should be built within two months. It doesn’t matter whether the environmental studies are complete or not. Actually the only thing that matters to the children is whether they get their way or not.

I think the President always wanted to build it. Now he can say those nasty anti-environment Republicans made him do it.

Senator McConnell finally had to point out to the children in the other House that he had not only won but would get another bite out of the apple after the New Year.

Finally, after being attacked not only by the Democrats but Republican Senators, conservative columnists, the Wall Street Journal and Fox news Speaker Boehner raised the white flag and they went home to their constituents who must be wondering what they had elected.


Saturday, December 10, 2011


I have enjoyed the Republican primary including the never-ending debates. I have put off writing about the candidates, thinking things would shake out and I would have fewer to talk about.

I picture  it as a circus, with a center ring which contains a different act every few days. Outside is the freak show where performers are sent after they are kicked out of the big top.

Michele Bachman,  the first performer in the center ring, looked great swinging on her trapeze, high above the others. Then she began to talk.  She announced her candidacy in Waterloo, Ill where she said John Wayne was born. It turned out to be the wrong Wayne. It was John Wayne Gacy, the serial killer who lived in Waterloo.

She finally advised parents of young girls that their children should not receive an STD vaccine. She based this advice on a survey consisting of one mother who said her daughter suffered from autism after receiving the shot. People then realized that she was just a short Sarah Palin, and she fell into the net which funneled her into the Side show where she has remained.

Next into the center ring strode the lion tamer, snapping his whip and sticking a chair into the faces of the snarling lions. This man, Rick Perry, Governor of Texas, famed for protecting his dog from wolves while jogging in the morning, and for his willingness to attack even social Security in his fight for conservative purity.

 In a debate he spent minute after minute struggling to describe Mitt Romney s flips and flops but ended the effort in embarrassing failure. He grandly proclaimed that he would cut the federal budget by eliminating three departments Education,Commerce and....  He had forgotten the third  and after a seemingly endless struggle to recall could only mutter "oops".  At that point the lions were laughing so hard that the audience was left to chase him out of the center ring, out of the tent and into the furthest corner of the side show.

Then comes Herman Cain, the handsome ring master snapping his whip as horses mounted by pretty ladies trot around  him. Strong, handsome, debonair.. the crowd loved him. Then two of the ladies slid off their horses and announced to the crowd that Mr. Cain had sexually harassed them. The crowd seemed unimpressed until a third lady, riding bareback, preceded to the center of the ring and announced that the Hermanator had offered her a job in exchange for sexual favors.  Even this wasn’t enough to arouse this crowd, but when a fourth lady rode her horse into the center of the ring and told the crowd that she had been his mistress for thirteen years and sprinkled  texts and e-mails around the ring to prove it, the women in the audience chased him out of the big tent, past the side shows and home where I am sure his wife will watch him much more carefully in the future.

During all of this Mitt Romney has remained in the Big Top, carefully working his way across, while balancing on the high wire. While he has generated little excitement, a substantial portion of the audience has offered support and encouragement. He has remained calm, thoughtful and in control...Presidential, one might say.

 But then, looking up, he sees starting out on the wire from the other end, his nemesis- the Newt. The Newt- whose campaign staff had resigned because he went on vacation instead of campaigning. The Newt- who preaches family values although he has been married three times and was committing adultery with the second wife while married to the first and with the third wife while married to the second. The Newt- who visited his first wife in the hospital while she was recovering from surgery to discuss their impending divorce. His answer to all of this? Do as I say- not as I do.

Despite carrying all this baggage and a great deal more, the Newt is advancing steadily, maintaining his balance and forcing Mitt to retreat.

In the meantime there are those who started in the side show and have stayed there. First there is Ron Paul. He wants to abolish five departments including the Department of Energy. This Department is responsible for overseeing all of our nuclear programs both commercial and military. It oversees almost all the basic research being done in this country. Does he really intend to abandon these programs?

Mr. Paul does get kudos for sincerity. He honestly believes the things he says.  During one debate he was forced to admit that a guy who was sick with no money and no insurance would just have to die. He also pointed out that not one member of his audience would shoot up heroin if drugs were made legal. Both of these responses drew applause.

It all makes you wonder who is attending this circus.  Hope no children are allowed.

Rick Santorum started in, and has remained part of the sideshow, bashing gays and fighting against free choice.

There is one who has been sitting in the parking lot. Handsome, intelligent, experienced both in government and business. He served as CEO of the family’s multimillion dollar empire and has worked for his country under four presidents including President Obama. He won a second term as Governor of Utah with over seventy percent of the vote. He recognizes that the world is warming, has advocated cap and trade although not now. He believes homosexuals should have the same rights as the rest of us but not the right to marry. He believes that we must do something to end the constant problem of illegal immigration, tightening our borders while helping those that are already here.

This crowd, at this time, won’t let him in the tent When the next circus is staged four years from now hopefully there will be a different audience, one seeking moderates who can work with others to find ways to move America forward. Jon Huntsman will be on that high wire but The Newt and Mitt will be home watching the circus on TV.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


A friend gave me an editorial criticizing President Obama for failing to encourage Congress to vote on the Simpson Bowles’ (The national Commission on fiscal responsibility and Reform) recommendations to reduce the deficit.

The plan was never voted on because there were very few Democrats or Republicans who would support it. The democrats hated the proposed changes in Medicare and the Republicans hated it because it proposed, through tax reform,  large increases in government revenue.

The Commission recommended a $500 deductible plus a 50% contribution to the next $5000 of medical expense incurred by seniors. Voting for that would have been tantamount to submitting your resignation.

It also recommended, in the guise of tax reform, a substantial increase in taxes including a 15% tax on gasoline. Can’t picture there being much Tea Party support for that one.

It would have been wonderful to hear honest debate on the issues raised but in this political climate everyone is afraid to offer a compromise for fear of it being used in an attack ad in the next election.

If a Republican suggests that he will support tax increases if a Democrat will support spending cuts... he will face charges in the next election that he favors tax increases. If a Democrat were to vote for the changes in Medicare he would have been blasted for destroying Medicare.
Look at what happened to Democrats who voted for health care reform although the changes to Medicare made by that bill were minimal!

I believe that the President's big mistake was not allowing the Bush Tax Cuts to expire unless Congress acted to get our deficit under control. When he agreed to compromise he lost the battle but perhaps not the war.

It is possible that he didn’t want the tax cuts to expire while our economy was so fragile and in fact through that compromise and the recent one resulting from the Republicans blocking the increase in the debt ceiling, simply postponed the day of reckoning.

A year from now - 1.2 trillion dollars, 120 billion a year, will be automatically cut from the budget, half of it from defense. At the same time the Bush tax cuts will expire adding 300 billion a year in revenue. Together they will reduce the deficit by over 4 trillion dollars in 10 years ,enough to erase the deficit, without Congress doing anything (something they are really good at) . Neither side wants this and the result might be honest, real and hopefully public negotiations which may result in tax reform and budget cuts similar to those recommended by Simpson Bowles.

All of us should read the Commission’s plan. It is short and both easy to read and to understand. While it is easy to find fault with particular recommendations, it is hard to fault the plan in its entirety. The end result, a balanced budget, is of course what is really important.

Anyone wishing to review their recommendations can access them by clicking on this link:

A number of other plans have been offered. The Paul Ryan Plan can be found at

are two of them.

The Commission did not try to dictate specific spending cuts to specific programs (although it does make a number of suggestions) It attempted to provide a broad outline to follow in order to achieve both reductions in spending and increases in revenue.

Unfortunately it was completed after the 2010 elections and flew in the face of the newly elected Tea party candidates pledge to not increase taxes. The election also made it apparent that if you wanted to win a Republican primary, revenue enhancement was off the table.

The plan reduced tax rates, but by eliminating what it calls tax expenditures (deduction and subsidies that favor the rich and special interests) it increased revenue. It decreases everyone’s after tax income but the poorest 20% by only .025% and the richest 20% by 3.4%. When your income is over a million dollars 3.4% is a lot of dollars.

There were a lot of other suggestions for revenue enhancement that should have pleased democrats but apparently by not enough. A 15 % increase in the tax on gasoline (the proceeds dedicated to much needed highway construction and maintenance), a reduction in the corporate tax rate, eliminating mortgage interest as a deduction except on your personal residence, an increase in the capital gains rate and the tax rate on dividends to the rate your other income was taxed at and other changes which all seemed reasonable to me.

It says there are 75 special tax breaks for different corporations and other special interests. It proposes eliminating almost all of them. I saw that as a make-work project for lobbyists. It took them 25 years to convince Congress to stick these breaks in the tax code. If the Commission's report was approved the lobbyists could go back to full employment trying to obtain those exemptions again!

The reductions in discretionary expenditures were divided between security and non security spending with both areas suffering cuts. These recommendations were made in general terms leaving it to Congress and the Administration to decide where these cuts could be made while causing minimum damage. Again all of these recommendations seemed reasonable.

The recommendations were also sensitive to our present economic problems. Most provisions did not take affect until 2014 or 2015.

The plan contains much to love but you could make a multitude of changes and still end up with the same result. We are never going to create a system which satisfies everyone. We need to compromise. If we are going to save the country we need to elect people who are ready to do that. Centrists who are willing to engage in calm debate... not slaves to the Tea Party nor to the far left.

The polls show that 77% of Americans understand that tax increases are required.

The other 23% listen to Rush Limbaugh and Fox news. Unfortunately they are also the Tea Party and are choosing our Republican Congresspeople.