Archive for the ‘United States Politics’ Category
Folks, sometimes I truly do not understand Washington, DC, whatsoever.
Former Republican United States Senator Chuck Hagel, of Nebraska, who has been nominated by the Obama Administration to become the next Secretary of Defense, has been effectively filibustered by the U.S. Senate on a 58-40 vote in favor of Hagel — with one Senator, Orrin Hatch (R-UT), only being willing to vote “present.”
Sixty votes were needed in order to end this stalemate. And the Senate could only muster 58. (Plus Hatch’s “present” vote.)
Here’s the four Republicans who voted against the filibuster and for Senator Hagel: Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Thad Cochran of Mississippi, Mike Johanns of Nebraska and Susan Collins of Maine.
Only four Senators voted for their former colleague, a well-respected, decorated military veteran. And a member of their own political party.
(Plus Hatch, who voted present — thus proving he was unwilling to vote against Hagel even if by doing so he looked timid, at best.)
What is wrong with the Senate, if they can’t even vote to confirm a respectable, responsible guy like Senator Hagel?
Look. I lived in Nebraska for several years. I know Hagel to be a political conservative, but he is honest and principled and understands the military extremely well. He has the courage of his convictions.
Hagel will make an admirable Secretary of Defense, as he would most likely be mighty unwilling to spend lives needlessly. And having a former military veteran as the Defense Secretary has to help, doesn’t it?
Well, apparently not if you’re a Republican Senator. Even when it comes to one of your own retired colleagues.
Now we get to wait ten days until another vote can be taken.
All I can say is, I remain unimpressed by what I’ve seen out of both houses of Congress this year. And I echo what Harry Reid had to say as quoted by this article via the Huffington Post:
Reid decried the outcome immediately after the vote Thursday evening, emphasizing the need to relieve outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta of his obligations and confirm Hagel at a time when the country continues to face military challenges.
“There is nothing going to change in the next 10 days about the qualifications of Chuck Hagel,” Reid said.
“I’m going to go call Chuck Hagel when I finish here and say, I’m sorry — sorry this has happened. I’m sorry for the president, I’m sorry for the country, and I’m sorry for you, but we’re not going to give up on you,” he added.
One final thought: Hagel will be confirmed, and deserves to be confirmed. So all of these machinations merely make most of the Republicans look foolish (save the four who voted against the filibuster, thus for Hagel). And that doesn’t give me a whole lot of hope for our country whatsoever.
Earlier today, news broke that the United States Postal Service (USPS) wishes to eliminate mail delivery on Saturday. (Supposedly, packages will still be delivered, but nothing else.) This is despite the fact that Congress, as a whole, has opposed eliminating Saturday mail delivery as it would be disastrous for rural communities, as many of the US Representatives have said — including Republican Rick Crawford (R-Arkansas) — along with Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont, a long-time US Rep. before ascending to the Senate) and Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine).
I picked these three members of the US Congress for a reason — none of them, not one, are Democrats. (Yes, Sanders caucuses with the Ds. But he still isn’t a D.) Which shows there’s bipartisan support to keep the Post Office open six days a week, both a sensible and logical decision.
It may not seem like it to those of us who live in cities, but post offices are desperately needed in smaller communities. There are places with only one post office for the town or municipality (and that one being the only one for miles around). There are states that are largely rural (Nebraska, for one). Having mail get delivered only five days per week would be incredibly harmful to Nebraska, much less Alaska . . . especially as in the latter, people get oil mailed as well as food, medication and paychecks.
For that matter, those of you who believe all checks are electronic need to think again, too. There isn’t always a viable alternative to a paper check, especially if you’re sending in a bill. Many companies charge you a “convenience fee” to pay by debit card or other electronic means, which is why checks are here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future. And if you think your car company, for example, is going to be more likely to give you a break due to your payment being late due to a postal service cutback, think again.
Senator Sanders was blunt about the impact of these potential cutbacks, especially considering how a bill he’d proposed last year passed the Senate with ease — but was never taken up whatsoever by the House:
“Providing fewer services and less quality will cause more customers to seek other options. Rural Americans, businesses, senior citizens and veterans will be hurt by ending Saturday mail,” Sanders added.
Amen, brother! Amen.
While the Los Angeles Times article about the proposed cutbacks pointed out another possible reason for the USPS to make this announcement at this particular time:
The announcement came with little advance notice to lawmakers, who were preparing to renew an effort to pass postal legislation this year.
Though many members of Congress insist they would have to approve the cutback, Donahoe told reporters that the agency believes it can move forward unilaterally. The current mandate for six-day delivery is part of a government funding measure that expires in late March.
“There’s plenty of time in there so if there is some disagreement” with lawmakers, “we can get that resolved,” he said.
Or in other words, the USPS did this to force the Congress to act.
Here’s the main problem with the USPS, folks. It’s that the Congress requires the Post Office to pre-fund retirements and health care fees for seventy-five years. (No misprint.) No other company in the world is forced to do such a thing, yet the Congress put this onerous burden on the Postal Service because it helps the Congress mask the deficit a little bit.
But change is not the biggest factor in the agency’s predicament – Congress is. The majority of the service’s red ink comes from a 2006 law forcing it to pay about $5.5 billion a year into future retiree health benefits, something no other agency does. Without that payment – $11.1 billion in a two-year installment last year – and related labor expenses, the mail agency sustained an operating loss of $2.4 billion for the past fiscal year, lower than the previous year.
So because the Congress has “fuzzy math skills,” the rest of us get screwed. (How typical.)
My view is simple: The Post Office should not eliminate Saturday delivery. The main reason for this is logistical. Right now on Mondays, there’s twice as much mail to be delivered. With the possible elimination of Saturday delivery as well, there would be three times as much mail to be delivered — but with the same amount of carriers. What sense does this make?
The US Senate plan, which was passed in April of 2012, should be followed. There should be a two-year moratorium placed on the Post Office eliminating one day a week from their delivery system, while every other way of cutting costs should be pursued. (Let’s hope the Senate will include rolling back the onerous requirement of pre-funding retirements and health care costs for seventy-five years, as that’s the main reason why the USPS is so far in the red.)
At the end of two years, if there’s no other way to proceed, then a day should be picked in the middle of the week to eliminate as that would be likely to be less harmful than the elimination of Saturday delivery.
So the way to fix the current problem is this — the US House of Reps needs to act. They need to pass a bill that goes along with the bill that has already passed the Senate in order to keep the USPS from unilaterally acting in a way that would be seriously harmful to rural residents.
“The postmaster general cannot save the Postal Service by ending one of its major competitive advantages. Cutting six-day delivery is not a viable plan for the future. It will lead to a death spiral that will harm rural America while doing very little to improve the financial condition of the Postal Service,” Sanders said.
So, the USPS has shown its hand. Many are upset about it, including Sens. Sanders and Collins and Rep. Crawford, the President of the National Association of Letter Carriers, Fredric Rolando, and talk show host and MSNBC analyst Ed Schultz.
(And if you haven’t guessed yet that I’m upset as well, you need to up your reading comprehension skills a bit. Seriously.)
Now, will the Congress as a whole act? Or will they do what they’ve generally done for the past four or five years — sit on their butts, point fingers, and otherwise be useless wastes of time and space who are getting paid for what seems like very little reason?
It’s all down to you, Congress.
Act responsibly. (Please.)
Folks, even though I can’t stand it when people snipe at each other over the election (as I said in my previous blog in a “quick hit”), there are legitimate issues that need to be discussed. To wit: health care.
Now, why am I bringing this up? It’s simple — I just read two heartbreaking columns in the New York Times online edition by writer Nicholas Kristof (the second one is called “Scott’s Story and the Election”) about the life and death of his friend, Scott Androes. Scott, you see, was self-employed, didn’t make a whole lot of money in his later years, and went without health care because he didn’t have health insurance.
Many people do this, in this day and age.
However, Scott’s story turned tragic when he found blood in his urine. At this point, he went to the doctor; after some twists and turns, it turned out that Scott’s PSA was extremely high (4 is normal; Scott’s was over 1100) and that he had Stage 4 Prostate Cancer. He started getting the treatment he needed — fortunately his local hospital was quite good and wrote off most of the care he needed (this was essential, as the cash cost was $550,000 — no misprint) — but it was not enough. Scott Androes died at only 52.
The reason Kristof cares (aside from being a compassionate human being) is that Scott was Kristof’s college roommate. Their lives diverged to a degree, but Kristof knew what was going on with his friend — knew that Scott Androes was, in general, a thoughtful and practical human being who tried his best to do what he felt was right. But because he was low-income in the latter years of his life, Scott skimped on health care because he couldn’t afford health insurance — something Kristof’s first column about Scott called, in its headline, “A Possibly Fatal Mistake.”
It’s wrong that the United States allows men like Scott Androes to die far earlier than they should, merely because they lack financial means to buy affordable health insurance. (Note that Kristof carefully explains that for many years, Scott did have enough money to buy health insurance and chose not to do so. But my guess is that in the last few years of Scott’s life, where he was only making $13,000 per year as a part-time tax consultant, Scott no longer had the means to buy the health insurance that may have saved his life.)
Kristof is right that when people lack health insurance, they are afraid to go to doctors. Thus, they put off regular screenings. Which means if problems are found later, they’re going to be harder to treat — if not impossible — and far more expensive to treat, to boot.
I know this full well, because my best friend, Jeff Wilson, died last year one week before his 48th birthday. (I wrote extensively about Jeff at the time; please see previous blogs about Jeff’s life, death, and my difficulties in coming to terms with his loss.) Jeff definitely is someone Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney needs to know about, as Romney has insisted that people supposedly do not die in the United States because they’re poor because “we have emergency rooms.” Yet that completely misses the point; people do die every single day because they lack money, they lack health insurance, and thus they don’t go to doctors when perhaps their illnesses are still treatable.
And in case I haven’t made the point strongly enough, here it is – my friend Jeff died because he was poor. Because he didn’t have medical insurance. And because he was afraid of racking up big bills he knew he couldn’t afford to pay, he didn’t go to the doctor soon enough.
That is the main reason why my friend, Jeff Wilson, one of the brightest and kindest men I’ve ever known, did not live to see his 48th birthday. And for anyone to say otherwise is completely and utterly ludicrous . . . which is why I have no sympathy for Republicans like Mitt Romney or his running mate, Representative Paul Ryan, when they insist that people don’t die in this country for lack of health care due to being poor.
Maybe Mitt Romney means well; I’d like to think he does. Maybe Paul Ryan means well, too — as he’s my U.S. Rep., I know his record rather well, so I have a much more jaundiced view of him than I do of Romney — and of course I’d like to believe that Ryan, too, means well.
However, the fact is that our health care system is completely and irretrievably broken. And while the Obama “Affordable Health Care Act” is far from perfect — I don’t think it went nearly far enough, and the burden on independent doctors to get portable health care records up and running is completely asinine — at least it attempts to do something about the problems with the health care industry in this country, rather than ignore it and do nothing.
Or worse, what Romney and Ryan are doing right now in their insistence on hammering home the hard right talking point that “no one dies in the U.S. due to a lack of health insurance,” which is at best misleading, and at worst is wrong to the point of absurdity.
All I’m saying is this: if you like Romney and Ryan, fine. But use your heads; think about the choices you’re making. And then ask this one important question: if you had no money, and you had a bad health condition, would you be more likely to wait because you were afraid to pay the bill? Or would you instead be virtuous (as the hard right in this country believes we all must be) and go in and rack up those big medical bills, then wonder how on Earth you’re going to pay for it all?
Even if you’re in the second category (and get the charity care deductions, manage to get things written off as did Kristof’s friend Scott), how can you believe that this is the right way for any society to behave, when better alternatives clearly exist? The city of La Crosse, Wisconsin, has a healthcare exchange that’s worked very well, for example. Championing that makes sense. So why don’t the right-wing candidates seem to believe that’s a viable strategy, rather than using this “us-versus-them” stuff that’s got us all in such an uproar that FB friends of long-standing are frothing at the mouth whenever any political comment is raised whatsoever?
That’s why I urge you to use your head for more than just a hat rack, folks; do your homework, and vote accordingly. Then do whatever you can to remember that compassion is not a lost art, and that we really do have more in common with our fellow man than not, which is why we should work together rather than allow ourselves to be any further divided by petty partisanship than we already are.
Time for some more quick hits, folks . . . especially as I’ve been too busy to come up with a complete blog post this week. Yet it’s wrong to neglect my blog, now, isn’t it? (Don’t answer that.)
Anyway, here’s a few things I’ve been thinking about since my last blog:
- I’m sick and tired of all the sniping about the election on Facebook. Whether you’re liberal, conservative, independent-minded or somewhere in between, watching people who otherwise like each other decide to savage each other instead over differing political beliefs just disgusts me. Jason Cordova wrote an excellent blog about this very thing; I strongly urge you to read it, then reflect upon it.
- In case you missed it, Shiny Book Review turned two years old (and Jason Cordova got the domain name, finally) . . . and I forgot to get it a present! (Unless you figure my ongoing series of book reviews is a present of sorts, that is.)
- The San Francisco Giants, behind Madison Bumgarner, won again tonight and have gone up two games to nothing over the Detroit Tigers in the 2012 World Series. So far the Giants look like a juggernaut, while the Tigers look like they’ve run out of gas. Look for more of the same in Game 3 unless the Tigers are able to regain some sense of life or energy in the meantime.
Other than that, it’s all writing, editing, and commenting, as per usual . . . and I will be reviewing Mercedes Lackey’s newest Valdemar novel, REDOUBT, tomorrow at SBR. (Due to circumstances beyond my control, my review of Michael Casey’s THE UNFAIR TRADE is going to have to wait for next week. That book requires more concentration than I’ve had lately to explain, and I want to do it justice.)
So keep an eye out for tomorrow’s book review, folks . . . and maybe between now and then, I’ll figure out something to blog about, else.
After listening to tonight’s Vice Presidential, one thing is clear: both current Vice President Joe Biden (D) and United States Representative Paul Ryan (R), who is the Republican Vice Presidential nominee, are thoughtful and articulate individuals.
However, everything else depends on context, to wit:
1) Did you expect Biden to lay an egg? If so, Biden is your clear winner because he didn’t do this.
2) Did you expect Ryan to lay an egg? If so, Ryan is your clear winner, because he also didn’t do this.
Or to put it another way — if you were expecting a game-changer, you didn’t get it. Instead, you got two impassioned individuals who are well-versed in both domestic and foreign policy (Ryan was surprisingly well-versed; I know Ryan well as he’s my U.S. Rep.) and managed to make most of their points.
Since I wasn’t really expecting much from either candidate, I was pleasantly surprised with both.
Pluses for Biden: he was much more articulate and much more forceful in this debate than he was in 2008 against Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska.
Minus for Biden: he interrupted Ryan. (A lot.)
Bottom line for Biden: he made the points he wanted to make. And of course Biden sounded like he could do the job of President, should it ever fall to him, as Biden sounded much better in this debate than President Obama did last week.
Pluses for Ryan: he sounded like he knew what he was talking about, and sounded like he’d make a good Vice President. That he also sounded like he’d be a loyal lieutenant for Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney was a bonus, especially due to past media coverage that had depicted a strain between Romney and Ryan. Best of all for Ryan, he seemed like he’d be capable and confident if he ever had to step in to the job of President.
Minuses for Ryan: he didn’t have the specifics he needed regarding the new health care plan (“Obamacare”) and he also didn’t have the specifics regarding Romney’s proposed tax plan, which purports to cut most loopholes yet raise more money. This seems like a logical impossibility on its face, and Ryan certainly wasn’t able to make it sound any better. And he, too, interrupted Biden — a lot.
Bottom line for Ryan: he did well, and made the points he wanted to make. But for a policy wonk like Ryan to not be able to make numerical points is a bit troubling, as that’s something Ryan should know in his sleep as he’s on the House Ways and Means Committee (and has been for over ten years).
My view: Biden stayed more on point despite having less time to make his points (as Ryan tended to give lengthy answers). And as I had half-expected Biden to lay a huge egg — as Biden can be scattershot in his approach, which doesn’t always lend itself to either interviews or debates — I have to admit that I found Biden’s poise and confidence to be quite refreshing.
My debate grades:
Joe Biden: A-minus.
Paul Ryan: B.
Which means the advantage goes to Joe Biden . . . who’d have thunk it? (Probably not me, even though on balance I like Biden despite his scattershot approach — or maybe because of it.)
Folks, I’ve seen some bad politicians in my lifetime. And I’ve seen some stupid ones, too. But rarely have I seen such utter stupidity — not to mention total ignorance of biology — on display by a bad politician as with the comments of United States Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO), currently running for the US Senate against incumbent Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO). Akin believes that victims of “legitimate rape” are not likely to get pregnant because apparently the female body “will shut (stuff like that) right down.” Here’s his full comment, in context, from a recent post at Talking Points Memo:
Rep. Todd Akin, the Republican nominee for Senate in Missouri who is running against Sen. Claire McCaskill, justified his opposition to abortion rights even in case of rape with a claim that victims of “legitimate rape” have unnamed biological defenses that prevent pregnancy.
“First of all, from what I understand from doctors [pregnancy from rape] is really rare,” Akin told KTVI-TV in an interview posted Sunday. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
Akin said that even in the worst-case scenario — when the supposed natural protections against unwanted pregnancy fail — abortion should still not be a legal option for the rape victim.
Obviously, Akin is plain, flat wrong. (Not to mention unlettered, ignorant, and in need of a basic health refresher course.) Pregnancy can occur with any unprotected sex between two people, and while rape is much different than “unprotected sex,” rapists don’t usually wear condoms, nor do they worry about birth control.
You’d think all of this goes without saying, but apparently to someone like Akin, it doesn’t.
Indeed, many in the GOP has condemned Akin, yet the main problem the GOP has right now is that Akin, along with GOP VP candidate Paul Ryan, himself a US Rep. from Janesville, WI, tried to get a law through the House of Reps. that used a similar term — “forcible rape” — to limit government aid for abortions.
Here’s a link to one of the best articles I’ve managed to find yet regarding why Akin’s shocking remark may torpedo the GOP’s chances in Missouri and elsewhere; the upshot is that Akin knows Ryan well, and because of what amounts to secondhand contamination — and well-known, long-held similar views with regards to rape — this may hurt the GOP Presidential ticket in the fall.
Conservative commentator John Podhoretz, writing in Commentary Magazine (here’s the link), describes Akin’s remarks thusly:
The moral, intellectual, and spiritual ignoramus who spoke those words is Todd Akin. He won the Missouri primary two weeks ago in a three-way race against two other conservatives, taking 36 percent of the vote—his two major rivals together won about 60 percent.
The PJ Tatler bluntly says this about Akin’s remarks:
This isn’t a gaffe. It’s a nuclear bomb.
My advice to Akin is this: withdraw from the US Senate race while the getting’s good. (As I understand it, Akin has about a day to withdraw, then the Missouri GOP can field another candidate. Anyone would have to be better than this guy.) Then figure out a new line of work, hope your Congressional pension will be good enough for you to while away your golden years, and do your best to stay away from microphones for the good of all concerned.
I’d also suggest taking that refresher course on basic human biology, too, as that might keep you from making any more small-minded and uninformed comments. But that’s only something you should do if you wish to rejoin the rest of the human race as an informed, thinking, and feeling human being . . . no pressure.
I’ve had a number of comments recently about various things, but none of them have reached the level of a full blog post. So here goes with the latest edition of Odds and Ends.
First, I’m taking the summer off from watching television. This is the main reason I haven’t written about the fourth season of “Drop Dead Diva,” despite all the hits I’ve had on my review of the season three finale. I do know that Fred the angel is off the show and there’s a new angel there instead — an impossibly gorgeous male who, sight unseen, bothers me. But that’s the only thing I’ve really gathered, aside from the fact that Kim Kardashian seems to have a recurring role this season.
Second, the Wisconsin GOP has, quite predictably, slammed the District 21 state Senate election, all because Democrat John Lehman won over R Van Wanggaard. Rep. Robin Vos (R-Rochester) has led a number of prominent Rs in proclaiming that the Racine elections had “numerous errors” and that supposedly, Racine County must get its act together before the November elections — all because we had the temerity to throw out our one-year Senator when the rest of the state held the course.
I have no problem with former Senator Wanggaard saying “I shall return!” as if he’s a modern-day incarnation of General Douglas MacArthur, because he’s a politician and that’s what politicians of either party tend to say. (Maybe not quite so stridently as Wanggaard. But then again, as the only R to go down on June 5, 2012, I suppose he must feel terrible.) Nor am I upset with Wanggaard for asking for a recount, pointing out various issues he and his staff have been alerted to, etc. — he’s a politician, so he has to say those things. And considering he lost by less than 2% of the vote, I suppose that’s his right.
My problem remains with the Wisconsin GOP as a whole; they didn’t slam Waukesha County in 2011 when there were massive problems there — problems that make the City and County of Racine’s issues look extremely small in comparison — because those problems benefitted them.
So, if an election goes the Rs way, even if there are terrible and systemic problems with a County Clerk like Waukesha’s Kathy Nickolaus, the Rs are OK with it. But if the election goes the way of the Ds, the Rs aren’t standing for it, even though whatever problems Racine had were due to an overwhelmingly high turnout (the highest on record for any election, including Presidential elections), nothing more. That’s why the WI GOP’s stance regarding Racine County’s recall election smacks of sour grapes as well as political expediency; I remain unimpressed.
Third, what on Earth does the United States House of Representatives, led by Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner, think they’re doing taking vote after vote to repeal Obama’s national health care plan? (Especially as they know, just as the rest of us do, that the US Senate will never go along with them.) Here we are in a jobless recovery; the economy, overall, is terrible. We need jobs, we need more economic development, and we need it right now. Yet they’d rather waste our time, and our taxpayer dollars, by taking these unnecessary votes. This is political grandstanding and it should not be tolerated. Period!
Fourth, are the Milwaukee Brewers going to get any better this year? And will Zack Greinke stay a part of the team? Stay tuned.
Fifth, and finally, the summer is a bad time for me. It’s not just my asthma, or other associated summertime health woes, which have been exacerbated as we’re having one of the hottest, driest summers on record in SE Wisconsin. It’s that I have a number of important dates on the calendar that I observe — my wedding anniversary. My late husband’s birthday (even though he didn’t observe it). Etc. — and the fact that I must observe them alone, always alone, is a trial.
Look. I despise the fact that I’m a widow. (Very few people will come right out and say this, but I will.) If I had the power, my husband would be alive right now and I’d not be typing out these words. But I’m human, mortal, fallible, all that, and I don’t have that power.
What I do every day is to try to find some meaning, some purpose, in whatever remains of my life. I continue to write (as you see). I continue to edit. I play my instruments. I compose music when I have the time, energy, and ideas. I talk with my friends, as I’m able . . . all the things I have to do in order to continue to stay alive in any sense.
But of course it’s difficult to be without the love of my life. I’d be lying if I said anything else.
And that difficulty is made much worse because the person who understood me best since that time is also dead — my good friend Jeff, whom I’ve discussed many times on this blog. That I haven’t been able, as of yet, to go to Colorado and make any peace whatsoever with his passing has assuredly not helped.
I know it doesn’t matter — would never matter — to Jeff where I mourn. But it would help me to go there and visit the places he told me about. Which is why at some point I will go there; it’s just a matter of when. Let us hope that down the line, I will find enough work at a good rate of remuneration, so I can finally take that trip.
Folks, today was a historic day in United States politics. It was the first time, ever, that a sitting U.S. President, Barack H. Obama, said that he is in favor of same-sex marriage. (Before this, he’d only said that his beliefs were “evolving.”)
Here’s a link (which includes a link to the video interview with ABC News reporter Robin Roberts):
Here’s a few words from the President as to why he’s changed his position:
“I have to tell you that over the course of several years as I have talked to friends and family and neighbors, when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together; when I think about those soldiers or airmen or marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ is gone, because they are not able to commit themselves in a marriage, at a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married,” Obama told Roberts in an interview to appear on ABC’s “Good Morning America” Thursday.
While I’m glad the President has come out in favor of same-sex marriage, the timing of this announcement seems a bit odd. Earlier in the week, Vice President Joe Biden was castigated because he said he was in favor of same-sex marriage (here’s a link to an excellent article at the Christian Science Monitor if you don’t believe me), and actually had to backtrack. Yet now, on Wednesday — a day after the President was embarrassed in West Virginia as a convicted felon who didn’t even live in the state garnered 41% of the vote in the Democratic primary — the President has admitted that, just as Biden said last week on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Obama indeed is in favor of marriage equality (marriage for all people regardless of sexual orientation, which obviously includes same-sex marriage).
Still, it’s great that Obama has come out in favor of marriage equality regardless of the timing. It is historic, and it should give my friends in the GLBT community hope that, sooner rather than later, they will be able to marry the person of their choice. That is the right message to be sending in the 21st Century, even if Obama’s Republican opponent, Willard “Mitt” Romney, strongly disagrees.
Folks, if you haven’t heard this one yet, hold on to your hats: the United States Secret Service, which protects the President of the United States and is supposed to be discreet and above all, above reproach, has completely embarrassed themselves in Cartagena, Colombia.
The specifics relate to twelve male Secret Service agents who were there to prepare for Barack Obama’s impending visit to the area due to an important summit going on. These agents apparently visited prostitutes. Some of the agents were married; apparently more than one was indiscreet. At least one must have shot his mouth off about being there to protect the President (because as gloriously embarrassing as a bunch of Secret Service agents going to local prostitutes is, that in and of itself would be unlikely to get all these guys sent home, much less get the “official spokesman” of the Secret Service into the act), which is a big “no-no.”
Please take a look at this link at Yahoo (which is easier to load):
And to get a further idea what’s going on, go to the Huffington Post, which has more details (but is much tougher to load, even on broadband):
My quick take? I’ve never heard of such a thing before, so either our Secret Service doesn’t have quite the pick of personnel it used to, or these particular twelve agents must’ve had the most colossal lapse of judgment in the history of the Secret Service.
What I hope happens here is that we will find out more in coming days, as something like this needs to be exposed (pardon the inadvertent pun) in order to keep it from ever happening again.
And as for the Secret Service’s assertion that sending home twelve well-trained agents wouldn’t make any difference to the level of protection for President Obama? B.S.! (Or “banana squishies,” as this is a friendly site.)
Folks, you’re going to hear much in the next 24 to 48 hours about Rick Santorum, because Santorum won both Alabama and Mississippi this evening. While that is correct, the real news is that Mitt Romney, despite spending an enormous amount of money, finished third in both contests. (Newt Gingrich finished second.)
You must keep this very simple fact in mind in upcoming days, because assuredly Santorum and Romney are going to attempt to frame this narrative to benefit themselves.
The fact is that Romney finished third, which proves that Romney is extremely unpopular with Republican voters. (This makes me wonder just who’s going to vote for the guy if Romney does, indeed, get to the general election against the current President of the United States, Barack Obama.) There is absolutely no argument left for Romney to position himself as a moderate except to run on his record — and if he does that, he’s going to alienate even more conservative voters than he already has.
What’s odd about all this is that Romney views himself as an “inevitable” candidate; some of his campaign staff and surrogates have even hinted that Romney believes his candidacy to be “divinely inspired.” Yet finishing third after spending such a huge amount of money is not the way an “inevitable candidate” is supposed to win, something Gingrich pointed out in his concession speech tonight.
This points out that, at least for the moment, Gingrich has his pulse on what’s really going on with the Republican voters. Neither Santorum, nor especially Romney’s people — as Romney did not make a speech this evening at all — are going to say this, but it’s the plain, flat truth: between them, Santorum and Gingrich won over 60% of the vote (closer to 70% in Alabama), and that shows that around 2/3 of the Republican voters in these states really do not want Romney as their nominee.
This is the real story: how many people are going out to vote in the Republican primaries and caucuses solely to vote against Romney in some way, shape or form. Any other story, up to and including the fact that Santorum won (providing he doesn’t acknowledge this “inevitable” point), is nothing less than an incredibly distorted framing of the narrative.