Tag Archives: Barack Obama

Trump’s Legal Woes Are just Getting Started

Standard

Watching the right wingers rejoicing at Trump’s self-proclamation of exoneration within minutes of special counsel specifically stating he had NOT been exonerated is kinda sad….for them….but not for America. Because the right only hears news from one or two Trump-promoting websites, they are STILL unaware that Robert Mueller sent most of the obstruction cases were sent over to the Southern District, where Trump is legally helpless to manipulate his way out of them, since he has zero legal jurisdiction. Bwahaha! This will be a real shocker, because they don’t see it coming. It was strategic. It went right over their heads.

The closure of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 U.S. election does NOT mark the end of legal worries for Trump and people close to him. Not by a longshot. Other continuing investigations and litigation are focusing on issues including his businesses and financial dealings, personal conduct, charitable foundation and inaugural committee. This will be that which ends him.

Think about it. Mueller charged 34 people and three companies. Some of those cases resulted in guilty pleas, and one case went to trial, with former Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort convicted of eight criminal counts, including bank fraud and tax fraud. Longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone was indicted in January of this year and pleaded not guilty, but his trial is still pending. There are other cases involving indicted Russians that have not gone to trial. Other prosecutors within the Justice Department will likely take over criminal cases begun by Mueller.

Donald Trump is horrible for America.

Trump will face significant dents in his current jubilation from federal prosecutors in Manhattan, according to the legal experts viewing these cases. His former personal lawyer Michael Cohen said in Feb. 27 congressional testimony that the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York is examining Trump’s business practices and financial dealings. Cohen already has implicated Trump in campaign finance law violations to which he pleaded guilty in August 2018 as part of the Southern District investigation.

Cohen admitted he violated campaign finance laws by arranging, at Trump’s direction, “hush money” payments shortly before the 2016 presidential election to porn film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy magazine model Karen McDougal to prevent damage to Trump’s candidacy. Both women established that they had sexual relationships with Trump more than a decade ago,during his marriage to Melania, soon after the birth of their son, Baron. (As an aside, I have challenged my social media readers to document even ONE DAY that Trump has EVER dedicated to this child since he was born. ONE SINGLE DAY…..and not one person has been able to do that.)

Prosecutors said the payments constituted ILLEGAL campaign contributions intended to influence the election. Under federal election laws, such donations cannot exceed $2,700 and need to be publicly disclosed. Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford, received $130,000. McDougal received $150,000.

The New York District investigation has involved longtime Trump ally David Pecker, publisher of the National Enquirer tabloid newspaper, who admitted to paying McDougal for the rights to her story and then suppressing it to influence the election, an arrangement called “catch and kill.”

Cohen has already said he was in “constant contact” with federal prosecutors in Manhattan, and said other crimes and wrongdoing by Trump are being investigated by them. Trump WILL fall, and the Southern District will take him down, but it will be after this one term. Remember, Cohen said he could not testify about the nature of his last conversation with Trump in early 2018 because it was under investigation by the federal prosecutors in New York. They will get him.

A lawsuit filed by the New York state Attorney General’s Office has already led the corrupt Donald J. Trump Foundation, which was presented as the charitable arm of Trump’s business empire, to agree in December 2018 to dissolve, and the litigation continues.

The state of New York is seeking an order banning Trump and his three eldest children from leadership roles in any other New York charity EVER. The state’s Democratic attorney general accused the foundation of being “engaged in a “shocking pattern of illegality” and “functioning as little more than a checkbook to serve Mr. Trump’s business and political interests” in violation of federal law.

Charges stemming from this matter state that Trump and his family members used the charity to pay off his legal debts and purchase personal items. The foundation agreed to dissolve and give away all its remaining assets under court supervision, but the Trump’s have not yet faced a court over this illegal activity. Oh, but they will!

Then come the issues surrounding the emoluments. Trump is accused in a lawsuit filed by the attorneys general of Maryland and the District of Columbia of violating anti-corruption provisions of the U.S. Constitution through his businesses’ dealings with foreign governments. These are very serious charges that Trump has not been able to beat. The Richmond, Virginia-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments on March 19 in the Trump administration’s appeal of U.S. District Judge Peter Messitte’s 2018 rulings allowing the case to proceed.

The Constitution’s “emoluments clause” bars U.S. officials from accepting payments from foreign governments and the governments of U.S. states without congressional approval. The lawsuit stated that because Trump did not divest himself of his business empire, spending by foreign governments at the Trump International Hotel in Washington amounts to unconstitutional gifts, or “emoluments,” to the president.

Federal prosecutors in New York are also investigating whether the committee that organized Trump’s inauguration in January 2017 accepted illegal donations from foreigners, misused funds or brokered special access to the administration for donors. The Trump organization seems to have forgotten that Federal election law prohibits foreigners from donating to U.S. political campaigns or inaugural committees, and corruption laws ban donors from making contributions in exchange for political favors.

Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, said in December 2018 that the president was not involved in his inaugural committee, and that the $107 million raised by the committee, which was chaired by real estate developer and investor Thomas Barrack, was the largest in history, according to Federal Election Commission filings. However, there is copious evidence implicating Trump that is on its way back to haunt him.

Under the Constitution, the president, vice president and “all civil officers of the United States” can be removed from office by Congress through the impeachment process for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” The House of Representatives acts as the accuser – voting on whether to bring specific charges such as obstruction of justice – and the Senate then conducts a trial with House members acting as prosecutors and the individual senators serving as jurors. A simple majority vote is needed in the House to impeach. A two-thirds majority is required in the Senate to convict and remove.

I don’t think Trump will be impeached, because he has so carefully shielded himself, but he WILL face charges after he is voted out of office in the next election. Just you wait.

Ah, the Conspiracy Theories…..When Ignorance Runs Rampant

Standard
Ah, the Conspiracy Theories…..When Ignorance Runs Rampant

It is a fact that I  have no liberal friends who buy into the notions of conspiracy theories.   All of the liberal friends that I have know how to read research.  They know what reliability and validity mean.  They know that isolated studies do not substantiate anything, and that an empirical body of evidence must exist in support of a hypothesis before one can consider it to be true.  I’m not saying that ALL liberals do….but the ones that I know do, which is probably why we’re friends.

I do have Republican friends and a lot of Libertarian friends who do believe in conspiracy theories, however.  They love to spout off about the “science” they heard someone else talk about at some point in time……with no substantiation, whatsoever.  While I love some of these people dearly, they’re the ones who frequently quote Einstein without a clue about how to interpret his work, the context it was intended for, nor bother to even check up to see if the little Facebook memes they post and attribute to Einstein actually came from the man.

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 11.01.42 AM

Take, for instance, the conspiracy theory about chem trails.  The theory is that Bill Gates or, at times, someone else, is spraying the atmosphere with harmful chemicals in order to attain mind control.  Tell me something.  When was the last time you experienced mind control?  I mean…if you’re broke, it’s probably because you can’t manage or earn money…..Not because your mind is being controlled.  If something doesn’t turn out the way you want it to, it probably has to do with the decisions that you make rather than because your mind is being controlled by the government.  Right?    What I don’t particularly understand  about the chem trails conspiracy is this.   Chem trails are made of aluminum, strontium and barium.  Look it up.  That is what they contain.  These things….. Aluminium, Strontium and Barium aren’t even particularly harmful, so my reasoning is that  you are going to imagine a global conspiracy to dose people with stuff you should pick something more dangerous than some random metals.  Right?    You know,  go with drugs or something?

Then, there are the conspiracy theorists who DO go with the drugs theory….saying that the government is putting drugs in our drinking water in the form of fluoride.  Yes, research supports the fact that exposure to excessive consumption of fluoride over a lifetime may lead to increased likelihood of bone fractures in adults, and may result in effects on bone leading to pain and tenderness.  Children aged 8 years and younger exposed to excessive amounts of fluoride have an increased chance of developing pits in the tooth enamel, along with a range of cosmetic effects to teeth.   BUT HOW MUCH FLUORIDE DOES IT TAKE TO DO THIS?  They don’t ever stop to do the research about THIS aspect of the argument.

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 11.03.17 AM

The fact is, that the amounts of fluoride used in public drinking water are so small that one would have to consume virtually an entire lake before experiencing the negative results.  The benefits are FAR more prominent, in fact.    Listen to this.  Fluoride exists naturally in virtually all water supplies and even in various brands of bottled water.  IT IS ALREADY THERE.    What’s at issue is the amount of fluoride in water. There are proven benefits for public health that come from having the optimal level of fluoride in the water — just enough to protect our teeth.  In 2011, federal health officials offered a new recommended optimal level for water fluoridation: 0.7 parts per million.  0.7 parts per MILLION!!!  Do you realize how tiny that amount is?

In the 1940s, more than 15 percent of World War II recruits were denied the ability to enlist in the Army because they lacked six pairs of opposing teeth.  The adult human mouth contains 32 teeth, and yet just 70 years ago a large number of 21- to 35-year-olds did not have even 12 good teeth.   Much of the credit for the nation’s better oral health can be attributed to the decision in the 1940s to begin adding fluoride to public drinking water systems. According to the American Dental Association, fluoridation reduces tooth decay in all age groups by 20 percent to 40 percent “even in an era with widespread availability of fluoride from other sources, such as fluoride toothpaste.”  People aren’t being “dumbed down” by the Federal government due to the addition of fluoride in the water.    I have a friend who keeps saying this, yet when I ask for evidence to support it, all I am told is to look up the website of another conspiracy theorist where there is absolutely ZERO evidence to support this bizarre claim.

Then, there is the whole thing about gun control.  When people quote Adolf Hitler about disarming citizens in order to conquer a nation, they seem to forget that no one has ever turned up a source documenting that Hitler literally said this (or something very similar).   There is absolutely NO evidence ANYWHERE that the man made this statement.  If you don’t believe me, I challenge you to find the original quote….via a RELIABLE source other than that by some conspiracy theorist.

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 11.06.33 AM Whether this quote could be considered “true” in the sense that it compactly paraphrases an idea that Hitler once expressed depends upon how one interprets its meaning.

The book Hitler’s Table Talk, 1941-1944: Secret Conversations records Hitler as having said the following sometime between February and September 1942:

The most foolish mistake we could possibly make would be to allow the subject races to possess arms. History shows that all conquerors who have allowed their subject races to carry arms have prepared their own downfall by so doing. Indeed, I would go so far as to say that the supply of arms to the underdogs is a sine qua non for the overthrow of any sovereignty. So let’s not have any native militia or native police.

If the term “conquering a nation” in the original quote is interpreted to mean that establishing and maintaining oneself as the autocratic head of a country (as Hitler did in Germany) requires disarming the civilian population, then the Table Talk passage cited above doesn’t really fit — Hitler was speaking of the need to disarm non-Aryans in the parts of Russia that had been occupied by German forces in the midst of a war, not of stripping all Germans of their guns. (And it’s unlikely that Hitler would have expressed such a concept in this context, as the 1938 German Weapons Act passed during Hitler’s rule actually loosened gun ownership rules for non-Jewish Germans.) If the term “conquering a nation” is interpreted to mean that the forcible overthrow and takeover of another country’s government and territory necessitates the disbanding and disarming of even local security forces, then the passage cited above might be considered as expressing the same idea as the original quote.

Gun control is not about taking guns away from American citizens.  It is about using common sense and making it difficult for mentally ill people who are most likely to commit murder, to actually procure weapons.  It is about reducing sales of high powered, automatic weapons that were CREATED to DESTROY HUMAN LIVES and that have absolutely nothing to do with what the founding fathers termed “a right to bear arms” when all they had were muskets that took 5 minutes or so to load with a single bullet.  People who twist the words of the Constitution to include all of these new, unnecessary super weapons are negating the point of what the original framers meant.  I call it cherry picking.

Many of my conservative/libertarian friends still eat red processed meats, drink copious amounts of alcohol and suck on cancer sticks all day long, but will raise issues about how the Federal Government is conspiring against them with this or that “right” being violated.  If they are so concerned about these alleged claims about the government, whey are they doing things to themselves that will, no doubt, end their lives, because valid and reliable scientific evidence supports the harm that these activities cause?  It makes no sense, whatsoever.

The point of all this is that when a conspiracy theorist is cornered and asked to provide substantiation (other than hearsay from other conspiracy theorists), or to present an isolated study that falls apart when tested for reliability and validity, they will try to dodge the question.  Some get mad.  Some claim that they’re not here to do my research for me.  (I love that one….) but, across the board, NONE of them EVER produce scientific substantiation with validity and reliability, that supports a word they say.  Not one.     SO many ignorant people quote science to try to make points when they are not even aware of what the different types of validity and reliability are!  Many didn’t even make it through college and have no idea how to actually read and interpret research.  For instance….reliability.  Here are the different kinds:

  1. Test-retest reliability is a measure of reliability obtained by administering the same test twice over a period of time to a group of individuals.  The scores from Time 1 and Time 2 can then be correlated in order to evaluate the test for stability over time.

 

Example:  A test designed to assess student learning in psychology could be given to a group of students twice, with the second administration perhaps coming a week after the first.  The obtained correlation coefficient would indicate the stability of the scores.

  1. Parallel forms reliability is a measure of reliability obtained by administering different versions of an assessment tool (both versions must contain items that probe the same construct, skill, knowledge base, etc.) to the same group of individuals.  The scores from the two versions can then be correlated in order to evaluate the consistency of results across alternate versions.

 

Example:  If you wanted to evaluate the reliability of a critical thinking assessment, you might create a large set of items that all pertain to critical thinking and then randomly split the questions up into two sets, which would represent the parallel forms.

  1. Inter-rater reliability is a measure of reliability used to assess the degree to which different judges or raters agree in their assessment decisions.  Inter-rater reliability is useful because human observers will not necessarily interpret answers the same way; raters may disagree as to how well certain responses or material demonstrate knowledge of the construct or skill being assessed.

 

Example:  Inter-rater reliability might be employed when different judges are evaluating the degree to which art portfolios meet certain standards.  Inter-rater reliability is especially useful when judgments can be considered relatively subjective.  Thus, the use of this type of reliability would probably be more likely when evaluating artwork as opposed to math problems.

  1. Internal consistency reliability is a measure of reliability used to evaluate the degree to which different test items that probe the same construct produce similar results.
  1. Average inter-item correlation is a subtype of internal consistency reliability.  It is obtained by taking all of the items on a test that probe the same construct (e.g., reading comprehension), determining the correlation coefficient for each pair of items, and finally taking the average of all of these correlation coefficients.  This final step yields the average inter-item correlation.

 

  1. Split-half reliability is another subtype of internal consistency reliability.  The process of obtaining split-half reliability is begun by “splitting in half” all items of a test that are intended to probe the same area of knowledge (e.g., World War II) in order to form two “sets” of items.  The entire test is administered to a group of individuals, the total score for each “set” is computed, and finally the split-half reliability is obtained by determining the correlation between the two total “set” scores.

  Then, there is the issue of validity.   Validity refers to how well a test measures what it is purported to measure.  You have to have validity in research or the research cannot be supported as true.    While reliability, as discussed above,  is necessary, it alone is not sufficient.  For a test to be reliable, it also needs to be valid.  For example, if your scale is off by 5 lbs, it reads your weight every day with an excess of 5lbs.  The scale is reliable because it consistently reports the same weight every day, but it is not valid because it adds 5lbs to your true weight.  It is not a valid measure of your weight.

Here are the different types of validity:

 

1. Face Validity ascertains that the measure appears to be assessing the intended construct under study. The stakeholders can easily assess face validity. Although this is not a very “scientific” type of validity, it may be an essential component in enlisting motivation of stakeholders. If the stakeholders do not believe the measure is an accurate assessment of the ability, they may become disengaged with the task.

Example: If a measure of art appreciation is created all of the items should be related to the different components and types of art.  If the questions are regarding historical time periods, with no reference to any artistic movement, stakeholders may not be motivated to give their best effort or invest in this measure because they do not believe it is a true assessment of art appreciation.

 

  1. Construct Validity is used to ensure that the measure is actually measure what it is intended to measure (i.e. the construct), and not other variables. Using a panel of “experts” familiar with the construct is a way in which this type of validity can be assessed. The experts can examine the items and decide what that specific item is intended to measure.  Students can be involved in this process to obtain their feedback.

Example: A women’s studies program may design a cumulative assessment of learning throughout the major.  The questions are written with complicated wording and phrasing.  This can cause the test inadvertently becoming a test of reading comprehension, rather than a test of women’s studies.  It is important that the measure is actually assessing the intended construct, rather than an extraneous factor.

  1. Criterion-Related Validity is used to predict future or current performance – it correlates test results with another criterion of interest.

Example: If a physics program designed a measure to assess cumulative student learning throughout the major.  The new measure could be correlated with a standardized measure of ability in this discipline, such as an ETS field test or the GRE subject test. The higher the correlation between the established measure and new measure, the more faith stakeholders can have in the new assessment tool.

4. Formative Validity when applied to outcomes assessment it is used to assess how well a measure is able to provide information to help improve the program under study.

Example:  When designing a rubric for history one could assess student’s knowledge across the discipline.  If the measure can provide information that students are lacking knowledge in a certain area, for instance the Civil Rights Movement, then that assessment tool is providing meaningful information that can be used to improve the course or program requirements.

  1. Sampling Validity (similar to content validity) ensures that the measure covers the broad range of areas within the concept under study.  Not everything can be covered, so items need to be sampled from all of the domains.  This may need to be completed using a panel of “experts” to ensure that the content area is adequately sampled.  Additionally, a panel can help limit “expert” bias (i.e. a test reflecting what an individual personally feels are the most important or relevant areas).

Example: When designing an assessment of learning in the theatre department, it would not be sufficient to only cover issues related to acting.  Other areas of theatre such as lighting, sound, functions of stage managers should all be included.  The assessment should reflect the content area in its entirety.

What are some ways to improve validity?

  1. Make sure your goals and objectives are clearly defined and operationalized.  Expectations of students should be written down.
  2. Match your assessment measure to your goals and objectives. Additionally, have the test reviewed by faculty at other schools to obtain feedback from an outside party who is less invested in the instrument.
  3. Get students involved; have the students look over the assessment for troublesome wording, or other difficulties.
  4. If possible, compare your measure with other measures, or data that may be available.

References

American Educational Research Association, American Psychological Association, &

National Council on Measurement in Education. (1985). Standards for educational and psychological testing. Washington, DC: Authors.

Cozby, P.C. (2001). Measurement Concepts. Methods in Behavioral Research (7th ed.).

California: Mayfield Publishing Company.

I guess the crux of all this is that if you want to be taken seriously, be able to back up what you say in a way that can be supported by studies that actually measure the thing that is under question (validity) and that have repeatable results whenever a study is repeated more than once.  THEN, I’ll listen to you.

Barack Obama in Austin

Standard
Barack Obama in Austin

Once again, under extreme fire from the Right, Barack Obama calmly, and oh, so cooly, tells the GOP and Texas Delegates what time it is. Last Thursday night, in Austin, Texas, the president slammed the Republican agenda, and brought up their pending lawsuit. He makes it very clear this ain’t his first rodeo.

In his own words:

“As long as Congress will not increase wages for workers, I will go and talk to every business in America if I have to. There’s no denying a simple truth: America deserves a raise, and if you work full-time in this country, you shouldn’t live in poverty. That’s something that we all believe.

Now, here’s where it gets interesting. There are a number of Republicans, including a number in the Texas delegation, who are mad at me for taking these actions. They actually plan to sue me. Now, I don’t know which things they find most offensive — me helping to create jobs, or me raising wages, or me easing the student loan burdens, or me making sure women can find out whether they’re getting paid the same as men for doing the same job. I don’t know which of these actions really bug them.

The truth is, even with all the actions I’ve taken this year, I’m issuing executive orders at the lowest rate in more than 100 years. So it’s not clear how it is that Republicans didn’t seem to mind when President Bush took more executive actions than I did. Maybe it’s just me they don’t like. I don’t know. Maybe there’s some principle out there that I haven’t discerned, that I haven’t figure out. You hear some of them — ‘sue him,’ ‘impeach him.’ Really? Really? For what? You’re going to sue me for doing my job? Okay.

I mean, think about that. You’re going to use taxpayer money to sue me for doing my job — while you don’t do your job.

There’s a great movie called ‘The Departed’ — a little violent for kids. But there’s a scene in the movie where Mark Wahlberg — they’re on a stakeout and somehow the guy loses the guy that they’re tracking. And Wahlberg is all upset and yelling at the guy. And the guy looks up and he says, ‘Well, who are you?’ And Wahlberg says, ‘I’m the guy doing my job. You must be the other guy.’ Sometimes, I feel like saying to these guys, ‘I’m the guy doing my job, you must be the other guy.’

So rather than wage another political stunt that wastes time, wastes taxpayers’ money, I’ve got a better idea: Do something. If you’re mad at me for helping people on my own, let’s team up. Let’s pass some bills. Let’s help America together.

The President on Trayvon Martin

Standard

trayvon

“…For those who resist that idea that we should think about something like these “stand your ground” laws, I just ask people to consider if Trayvon Martin was of age and armed, could he have stood his ground on that sidewalk? And do we actually think that he would have been justified in shooting Mr. Zimmerman, who had followed him in a car, because he felt threatened? ” 

~ Barack Obama

Gun Control – Ignorance Strikes Again… (TeaParty Ignorance, that is…) THERE IS NO LEGISLATION AFOOT IN WASHINGTON TO BAN GUN OWNERSHIP!!!

Standard

Image

“…No law or set of laws can keep our children completely safe, but if there’s even one thing we can do, if there’s just one life we can save, we’ve got an obligation to try…” 

Barack H. Obama,

President  of The United States of America

I cannot do an Internet search without finding some T-Partier whining about his or her 2nd Amendment rights being “violated,” claiming that the President is trying to ban guns in America. Feeding right into the right wing media machine of misinformation, they are…..as usual.    Fact is, there is no legislation on the table to ban firearms in this country.  There never has been.

Typically, the teaparty has misrepresented what is going on with the current gun legislation, and they have, as usual, completely disregarded the  historical significance of gun ownership.

The second amendment was written during a time when it took a good 3 or 4 minutes to load a very primitive rifle, and would probably have been written differently had the forefathers known about today’s permitted weapon arsenals of assault weapons.  It very well could have, in fact, have been written to preserve barbaric slavery in America!  Doubt me?  Please read the following article!                                         

(http://truth-out.org/news/item/13890-the-second-amendment-was-ratified-to-preserve-slavery)

 The President simply wants to reinstate the assault weapons ban that expired in 2004. We’re not talking about hunting rifles and sporting handguns.  We’re talking  ASSAULT WEAPONS here!  Assault weapons, which are  semi-automatic firearms  that have certain ergonomic or construction features similar to those of military firearms.   An assault weapon has a detachable magazine, in conjunction with one, two, or more other features such as a pistol grip, a folding or collapsing stock, a flash suppressor, or a bayonet lug.   Why does ANY  U.S. citizen need an assault rifle in his or her home??!!  Expecting a wild elephant attack?  Oh…wait…Assault weapons were not created to kill elephants.  They were specifically manufactured to kill people….and, of course, there hasn’t been quite enough needless killing in America.  Has there?  Just ask the parents of those babies at Sandy Hook Elementary school.

Obama wants to instate universal background checks for gun purchasers. What’s wrong with that?  It is a great idea.   He wants to increase mental health resources to help unstable individuals such as the sick young man who slaughtered those innocent children at Sandy Hook Elementary School , or the other mentally ill person who took those lives over the Christmas holidays mere blocks from my daughter’s house here in Portland …and he wants to do it BEFORE the violence has a chance to occur!  Wow!  Save lives?  That Obama!  Barack  Obama  wants to designate an increase in funding to make our schools more secure and to lift the restrictions that currently prevent our government from studying why gun violence occurs.  I say, hats off to the President.  These actions are crucial in keeping us safer overall.

I am probably much more anti-gun than President Obama is.  I have always had a disdain for gun ownership.  You couldn’t pay me to own a gun.  That is MY right.  I find them distasteful…low class, even.   I have no objection to qualified adults owning them, if they choose, but as a personal stance, I would never own one …..unless maybe if  I lived alone, far up in the wilds of Alaska or some other part of bear country.  I don’t eat meat and do not see a need to hunt.  I’d rather admire wild animals and allow them to live.   Target practice?  Well, it’s loud and obnoxious.  I’d rather shoot an arrow, frankly.  However,  I accept those who disagree with me, and I accept their right to own firearms. This is just how I, personally, feel about gun ownership for me.

I do not believe that the government is chomping on its bit, waiting to remove all firearms so it can “take over” our lives.  I believe that is a stupid conspiracy theory, one of many ignorance-rooted conspiracy theories that that teaparty comes up with that make me sick to my stomach.  The government is too busy trying to get out of Afghanistan, trying to improve education, helping the poor and the elderly, trying to provide medical coverage for those who cannot afford it….more important things than “taking over” some suburban household and its wide screen television, SUV and beige carpet.  No one’s rights have been infringed since Obama took office.  The political right needs to stop with this complete and utter nonsense!

THIS  is Obama’s stance:  ” I have a profound respect for the traditions of hunting that trace back in this country for generations. And I think those who dismiss that out of hand make a big mistake.” and

“Part of being able to move this forward is understanding the reality of guns in urban areas are very different from the realities of guns in rural areas. And if you grew up and your dad gave you a hunting rifle when you were ten, and you went out and spent the day with him and your uncles, and that became part of your family’s traditions, you can see why you’d be pretty protective of that.

and

“So it’s trying to bridge those gaps that I think is going to be part of the biggest task over the next several months. And that means that advocates of gun control have to do a little more listening than they do sometimes.”

Second fact of note:  In 1994, RONALD REAGAN supported the ban of further manufacture of assault weapons.  Reagan signed  the “Firearm Owners Protection Act”, which we all know as the machine gun ban, and his anti-gun stance did not end with his presidency. In 1991, Reagan endorsed a bill that would have made a seven day waiting period mandatory nationwide.

Reagan said, “With the right to bear arms comes a great responsibility to use caution and common sense on handgun purchases and it’s just plain common sense that there be a waiting period to allow local law-enforcement officials to conduct background checks on those who wish to purchase handguns.”

Reagan was also anti-gun before he became president, having signed the Mumford Act back in 1967. The act prevented Californians from carrying a gun in their car, on their persons, or in any public place. Yet, I have not read a single sentence written by a member of the Tea Party that mentions this.  No, we must demonize President Obama….whether he is right or whether he is wrong.   This has gone far enough!

I was reading the blog of an acquaintance from Connecticut the other day.  He made some viable suggestions about how we could make our society safer.  First, he proposed putting an electronic device on guns that could disarm them remotely, but the gun’s owner.  It would be similar to the iPhone app that I have.  If anyone steals my phone, I can disable it and wipe out the data from my home computer.  He also practically suggested that some type of internal GPS be installed in every firearm so that if they are taken by an unauthorized party, they can be easily traced.  While these methods of gun safety are not perfect, they do demonstrate that there truly are possible practical measures that can be taken toward ending the untold future violence that is sure to occur if something is not done immediately.

Above all, the lies about President Obama and his position on gun control need to stop.  The Presidents efforts toward gun control are not to take over other people’s lives.  They are intended to make our country a safer place in which to live….they are intended to protect our children and ourselves.  Misinformation is toxic.  It is harmful to all, and it perpetuates the state of violence that exists in this country.  The Tea Party specializes in misinformation.   Rise above it.  Use your intelligence.  Please.

The Candidates’ Debate

Standard

Image

Hands down, Romney did better than Obama in the debate last night.  Obama’s explanation this morning was a good and logical one.  He had prepared for the match by studying Romney’s campaign trail claims.  However, when the two candidates got to the podium last night, Romney did a complete about-face and changed everything he had been saying.  Toss in the many outright and outrageous lies that he added and Obama was, indeed, stumped.

Mind you, Romney fans are the types of people who send around pictures of Buckwheat that are labeled, “Obama”.  They start false rumors such as the one an old high school “friend” posted on his Facebook wall, saying that the communist party had endorsed Obama.  (They don’t endorse ANY political candidate.)  Said “friend” then sent around hate mail to some of my other friends from high school urging them not to have anything to do with me, because I busted him on this claim.  (Good “Christian” values…)  sigh….. Stories such as these are rampant, and the point is that the Romney demographic doesn’t really care. They suck up the Faux (Fox) News B.S. believing that they have an authentic “alternative” “news” source and Rupert Murdoch is laughing all the way to the bank.  (Another story….for another time…)

Ignorance is something that bothers me more than just about anything.  Willful ignorance is even worse.  Not caring about what is true or not is inexcusable, in my books.  Romney knows that his biggest fans really don’t[ care about the truth one way or the other.  They just want “Buckwheat” out of the White House. Fact checking?  Forget about it!  They don’t care if he lies or not.

What follows is an article by Igor Volsky that outlines….AND SUBSTANTIATES…Romney’s lies from the debate last night.  Mr. Volsky calls them, “myths”.  I call them lies.

Enjoy.

Pundits from both sides of the aisle have lauded Mitt Romney’s strong debate performance, praising his preparedness and ability to challenge President Obama’s policies and accomplishments. But Romney only accomplished this goal by repeatedly misleading viewers. He spoke for 38 minutes of the 90 minute debate and told at least 27 myths:

1) “[G]et us energy independent, North American energy independent. That creates about 4 million jobs”. Romney’s plan for “energy independence” actually relies heavily on a study that assumes the U.S. continues with fuel efficiency standards set by the Obama administration. For instance, he uses Citigroup research based off the assumption that “‘the United States will continue with strict fuel economy standards that will lower its oil demand.” Since he promises to undo the Obama administration’s new fuel efficiency standards, he would cut oil consumption savings of 2 million barrels per day by 2025.

2) “I don’t have a $5 trillion tax cut. I don’t have a tax cut of a scale that you’re talking about.” A Tax Policy Center analysis of Romney’s proposal for a 20 percent across-the-board tax cut in all federal income tax rates, eliminating the Alternative Minimum Tax, eliminating the estate tax and other tax reductions, would reduce federal revenue $480 billion in 2015. This amount to $5 trillion over the decade.

3) “My view is that we ought to provide tax relief to people in the middle class. But I’m not going to reduce the share of taxes paid by high-income people.” If Romney hopes to provide tax relief to the middle class, then his $5 trillion tax cut would add to the deficit. There are not enough deductions in the tax code that primarily benefit rich people to make his math work.

4) “My — my number-one principal is, there will be no tax cut that adds to the deficit. I want to underline that: no tax cut that adds to the deficit.” As the Tax Policy Center concluded, Romney’s plan can’t both exempt middle class families from tax cuts and remain revenue neutral. “He’s promised all these things and he can’t do them all. In order for him to cover the cost of his tax cut without adding to the deficit, he’d have to find a way to raise taxes on middle income people or people making less than $200,000 a year,” the Center found.

5) “I will not under any circumstances raise taxes on middle-income families. I will lower taxes on middle-income families. Now, you cite a study. There are six other studies that looked at the study you describe and say it’s completely wrong.” The studies Romney cites actually further prove that Romney would, in fact, have to raise taxes on the middle class if he were to keep his promise not to lose revenue with his tax rate reduction.

6) “I saw a study that came out today that said you’re going to raise taxes by $3,000 to $4,000 on middle-income families.” Romney is pointing to this study from the American Enterprise Institute. It actually found that rather than raise taxes to pay down the debt, the Obama administration’s policies — those contained directly in his budget — would reduce the share of taxes that go toward servicing the debt by $1,289.89 per taxpayer in the $100,000 to $200,000 range.

7) “And the reason is because small business pays that individual rate; 54 percent of America’s workers work in businesses that are taxed not at the corporate tax rate, but at the individual tax rate….97 percent of the businesses are not — not taxed at the 35 percent tax rate, they’re taxed at a lower rate. But those businesses that are in the last 3 percent of businesses happen to employ half — half of all the people who work in small business.” Far less than half of the people affected by the expiration of the upper income tax cuts get any of their income at all from a small businesses. And those people could very well be receiving speaking fees or book royalties, which qualify as “small business income” but don’t have a direct impact on job creation. It’s actually hard to find a small business who think that they will be hurt if the marginal tax rate on income earned above $250,000 per year is increased.

8) “Mr. President, all of the increase in natural gas and oil has happened on private land, not on government land. On government land, your administration has cut the number of permits and licenses in half.” Oil production from federal lands is higher, not lower: Production from federal lands is up slightly in 2011 when compared to 2007. And the oil and gas industry is sitting on 7,000 approved permits to drill, that it hasn’t begun exploring or developing.

9) “The president’s put it in place as much public debt — almost as much debt held by the public as all prior presidents combined.” This is not even close to being true. When Obama took office, the national debt stood at $10.626 trillion. Now the national debt is over $16 trillion. That $5.374 trillion increase is nowhere near as much debt as all the other presidents combined.

10) “That’s why the National Federation of Independent Businesses said your plan will kill 700,000 jobs. I don’t want to kill jobs in this environment.” That study, produced by a right-wing advocacy organizationdoesn’t analyze what Obama has actually proposed.

11) “What we do have right now is a setting where I’d like to bring money from overseas back to this country.” Romney’s plan to shift the country to a territorial tax system would allow corporations to do business and make profits overseas without ever being taxed on it in the United States. This encourages American companies to invest abroad and could cost the country up to 800,000 jobs.

12) “I would like to take the Medicaid dollars that go to states and say to a state, you’re going to get what you got last year, plus inflation, plus 1 percent, and then you’re going to manage your care for your poor in the way you think best.”Sending federal Medicaid funding to the states in the form of a block grant woud significantly reduce federal spending for Medicaid because the grant would not keep up with projected health care costs. A CBO estimate of a very similar proposal from Paul Ryan found that federal spending would be “35 percent lower in 2022 and 49 percent lower in 2030 than current projected federal spending” and as a result “states would face significant challenges in achieving sufficient cost savings through efficiencies to mitigate the loss of federal funding.” “To maintain current service levels in the Medicaid program, states would probably need to consider additional changes, such as reducing their spending on other programs or raising additional revenues,” the CBO found.

13) “I want to take that $716 billion you’ve cut and put it back into Medicare…. But the idea of cutting $716 billion from Medicare to be able to balance the additional cost of Obamacare is, in my opinion, a mistake. There’s that number again. Romney is claiming that Obamacare siphons off $716 billion from Medicare, to the detriment of beneficiaries. In actuality, that money is saved primarily through reducing over-payments to insurance companies under Medicare Advantage, not payments to beneficiaries. Paul Ryan’s budget plan keeps those same cuts, but directs them toward tax cuts for the rich and deficit reduction.

14) “What I support is no change for current retirees and near-retirees to Medicare.” Here is how Romney’s Medicare plan will affect current seniors: 1) by repealing Obamacare, the 16 million seniors receiving preventive benefits without deductibles or co-pays and are saving $3.9 billion on prescription drugs will see a cost increase, 2) “premium support” will increase premiums for existing beneficiaries as private insurers lure healthier seniors out of the traditional Medicare program, 3) Romney/Ryan would also lower Medicaid spending significantly beginning next year, shifting federal spending to states and beneficiaries, and increasing costs for the 9 million Medicare recipients who are dependent on Medicaid.

15) “Number two is for people coming along that are young, what I do to make sure that we can keep Medicare in place for them is to allow them either to choose the current Medicare program or a private plan. Their choice. They get to choose — and they’ll have at least two plans that will be entirely at no cost to them.” The Medicare program changes for everyone, even people who choose to remain in the traditional fee-for-service. Rather than relying on a guaranteed benefit, all beneficiaries will receive a premium support credit of $7,500 on average in 2023 to purchase coverage in traditional Medicare or private insurance. But that amount will only grow at a rate of GDP plus 1.5 percentage points and will not keep up with health care costs. So while the federal government will spend less on the program, seniors will pay more in premiums.

16) “And, by the way the idea came not even from Paul Ryan or — or Senator Wyden, who’s the co-author of the bill with — with Paul Ryan in the Senate, but also it came from Bill — Bill Clinton’s chief of staff.” Romney has rejected the Ryan/Wyden approach — which does not cap the growth of the “premium support” subsidy. Bill Clinton and his commission also voted down these changes to the Medicare program.

17) “Well, I would repeal and replace it. We’re not going to get rid of all regulation. You have to have regulation. And there are some parts of Dodd-Frank that make all the sense in the world.” Romney has previously called for full repeal of Dodd-Frank, a law whose specific purpose is to regulate banks. MF Global’s use of customer funds to pay for its own trading losses is just one bit of proof that the financial industry isn’t responsible enough to protect consumers without regulation.

18) “But I wouldn’t designate five banks as too big to fail and give them a blank check. That’s one of the unintended consequences of Dodd-Frank… We need to get rid of that provision because it’s killing regional and small banks. They’re getting hurt.” The law merely says that the biggest, systemically risky banks need toabide by more stringent regulations. If those banks fail, they will be unwound by a new process in the Dodd-Frank law that protects taxpayers from having to pony up for a bailout.

19) “And, unfortunately, when — when — when you look at Obamacare, the Congressional Budget Office has said it will cost $2,500 a year more than traditional insurance. So it’s adding to cost.” Obamacare will actually provide millions of families with tax credits to make health care more affordable.

20) “[I]t puts in place an unelected board that’s going to tell people ultimately what kind of treatments they can have. I don’t like that idea.” The Board, or IPAB is tasked with making binding recommendations to Congress for lowering health care spending, should Medicare costs exceed a target growth rate. Congress can accept the savings proposal or implement its own ideas through a super majority. The panel’s plan will modify payments to providers but it cannot “include any recommendation to ration health care, raise revenues or Medicare beneficiary premiums…increase Medicare beneficiary cost-sharing (including deductibles, coinsurance, and co- payments), or otherwise restrict benefits or modify eligibility criteria” (Section 3403 of the ACA). Relying on health care experts rather than politicians to control health care costs has previously attracted bipartisan support and even Ryan himself proposed two IPAB-like structures in a 2009 health plan.

21) “Right now, the CBO says up to 20 million people will lose their insurance as Obamacare goes into effect next year. And likewise, a study by McKinsey and Company of American businesses said 30 percent of them are anticipating dropping people from coverage.” The Affordable Care Act would actually expand health care coverage to 30 million Americans, despite Romney fear mongering. According to CBO director Douglas Elmendorf, 3 million or less people would leave employer-sponsored health insurance coverage as a result of the law.

22) “I like the way we did it [health care] in Massachusetts…What were some differences? We didn’t raise taxes.” Romney raised fees, but he can claim that he didn’t increase taxes because the federal government funded almost half of his reforms.

23) “It’s why Republicans said, do not do this, and the Republicans had — had the plan. They put a plan out. They put out a plan, a bipartisan plan. It was swept aside.” The Affordable Care Act incorporates many Republican ideas including the individual mandate, state-based health care exchanges, high-risk insurance pools, and modified provisions that allow insurers to sell policies in multiple states. Republicans never offered a united bipartisan alternative.

24) “Preexisting conditions are covered under my plan.” Only people who arecontinuously insured would not be discriminated against because they suffer from pre-existing conditions. This protection would not be extended to people who are currently uninsured.

25) “In one year, you provided $90 billion in breaks to the green energy world. Now, I like green energy as well, but that’s about 50 years’ worth of what oil and gas receives.” The $90 billion was given out over several years and included loans, loan guarantees and grants through the American Recovery Act. $23 billion of the $90 billion “went toward “clean coal,” energy-efficiency upgrades, updating the electricity grid and environmental clean-up, largely for old nuclear weapons sites.”

26) “I think about half of [the green firms Obama invested in], of the ones have been invested in have gone out of business. A number of them happened to be owned by people who were contributors to your campaigns.” As of late last year, only “three out of the 26 recipients of 1705 loan guarantees have filed for bankruptcy, with losses estimated at just over $600 million.”

27) “If the president’s reelected you’ll see dramatic cuts to our military.” Romney is referring to the sequester, which his running mate Paul Ryan supported. Obama opposes the military cuts and has asked Congress to formulate a balanced approach that would avoid the trigger.

Happy Birthday, Mr. President…..and also Mr. Husband

Standard
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SWEETHEART!!

I’m taking John to the coast for a romantic, 2-day getaway, this afternoon.

Just a line to say that I hope our President has a great day today, on his 51st. birthday.  I also want to wish my beloved husband, John, a happy birthday.  We’ll be leaving for the coast this afternoon, where I am treating him to 2 days at his favorite coastal resort at Otter’s Crest, where we shall try to remain cool, on what is supposed to be a hot, hot day.

Be back on Monday!

xoxo