Mind and Destiny

“I make no pretension to patriotism. So long as my voice can be heard ... I will hold up America to the lightning scorn of moral indignation. In doing this, I shall feel myself discharging the duty of a true patriot; for he is a lover of his country who rebukes and does not excuse its sins. It is righteousness that exalteth a nation while sin is a reproach to any people.”- Frederick Douglass

Name:
Location: Delhi, N.Y., United States

The author and his webmaster, summer of 1965.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Unceasing Hostility


Regarding today’s deadline for signing up for the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act, House Speaker Boehner complained: “The administration is now resorting to an honor system to enforce it.  What the hell is this, a joke?  The dates are the dates and the law is the law.  The president doesn’t have the ability to change the law whenever he wants.”

Boehner would have us believe, that extending a date never happened before.  Actually, George W. Bush declared: “You can apply after May 15th without penalty.  We want everybody to sign up, the system is modernized and it saves you money.  And that’s what we want.”

In 2006, Bush extended the Medicare prescription drug benefit deadline from May 15th to December.  

Republican attacks on Obamacare aren’t really about extending the deadline.  It’s just the latest attack of a full spectrum of opposition to the ACA.  These assaults bind together the entire conservative movement from FOX News, the Republican Party, and Koch brothers-funded groups like Americans for Prosperity.  Their unceasing hostility towards the ACA has become the defining feature of the conservative right.

The Supreme Court has begun considering the Hobby Lobby challenge, of the laws employer mandate to provide birth control coverage.

In a federal court, Judge A. Raymond Randolph, a George H.W. Bush appointee, described its launch as an unmitigated disaster.  But, a Carter appointee, Judge Harry Edwards pointed out: "What you’re asking for is to destroy the individual mandate and gut the statute.  That’s what this is about."

Conservative groups are holding tailgate parties to encourage young people not to sign up for health insurance.  And, Republican governors block Medicaid expansion around the country denying the working poor access to health care.

This is really all about destroying a law designed to get people health insurance.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Minimum Wage and Poverty


House Speaker John Boehner insists: “What I’ve long said is that raising the minimum wage destroys jobs.  What Americans are asking is, you know, where are the jobs?  And the President makes it harder for people to find one.  It really makes no sense at all.”

The White House reports, that raising the minimum wage would benefit women the most.  Actually, 55 percent of the workers who would benefit from increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour are women.  Analyst from the National Women’s Law Center show this gender pay gap is worse in states that haven’t raise the minimum wage higher than the federal level.

Women are more likely than men to be earning the tipped minimum wage in jobs such as restaurants servers.  On the federal level, that rate is only $2.13 an hour and it hasn’t been raised in more than two decades.

Senate Democrats are expected to take up a minimum wage bill next month, but House Republicans have shown no interest in allowing a minimum wage bill vote in the House.

Many women are concerned about the minimum wage as an issue that impacts families.  They don’t want to live in a country, where people are working full time and not able to pay for basic necessities such as food, clothing and rent.  People shouldn’t be working full-time and still living in poverty. 

Although a gender gap exists, it’s black and Latina women, who are the largest group holding minimum wage jobs.  Increasing the minimum wage shouldn’t even be debated on the House or Senate floor.  It should be something that all members of Congress would support.  Our economy is still recovering, and the best way to continue this recovery is to ensure that the minimum wage becomes a living wage.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Education for Profit


The public schools vs. charter schools controversy isn’t about whether parents should have the freedom to send their children to private charter schools, it’s about taking resources away from public schools.

The conservative Republican agenda is to demonstrate that charter schools can outperform public schools, and they want to make education a for profit venture.  The real issue is whether conservatives will be allowed to deplete resources meant for public schools to achieve that agenda.  Charter schools don’t serve all children, and if you cherry pick the brightest students and put them into charter schools of course you’ll get better test scores.

If you pick and choose children, you change the learning environment in a classroom, when you don’t have a good mix of children that have different abilities and different potentials, it brings down the learning curve.

Indeed, charter schools can be a stop gap measure for those who face an immediate crisis in terms of their educational preparation.  But, the problem is the greater structural impact, of systematically channeling taxpayer money, that is meant for public schools into private charter schools.  The schools funded the most are the one that are going to better prepare students for education in the future.

When you have public funds going to charter schools, you’re taking away from public schools, you’re picking the winners and losers in public education.  Consequently, the structural inequality that prevails in this country is being reinforced at the educational level when we chose a two- tier system. 

Georgetown University professor Michael Eric Dyson insists: “The best way to combat economic inequality, low wages, and the lack of stability in this country is to provide people an opportunity on the ladder of success.  And the ladder of success is about education and being able to educate one’s children.”

Friday, March 28, 2014

Thirteen Million Covered


Over six million people have enrolled in Obamacare, and seven million are likely.  One estimate shows that The Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act of 2010 has provided healthcare for over 13 million Americans.  This number includes those young adults under 26 who are able to stay on their parents plan, and expanded Medicare. 

For for the first time in decades healthcare costs are gong down.  In January, insurance costs fell 0.4 percent, and Medicare costs fell about 0.1 percent.  Obamacare is working, and Republican opposition to it is based not on facts, but on partisan ideology.

The average single premium in this country in 2000 was less than $2,471.  By 2008, it had almost doubled to an average premium of $4,704. 

Congressional Republicans did nothing to lower costs or cover more people.  The insurance companies were making a lot of money and they still are.  Healthcare costs are going down because more people to getting covered.

Republican Congressman Eric Cantor claims, that they’re coming up with an alternative.  This is the same political party, that was afraid to stand up to the pharmaceutical companies during the Bush administration and wouldn’t allow Medicare to buy prescription drugs in bulk, in order to save taxpayers money.

Ohio, Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur noted: “The region that I represent, 75 percent of the families that fall into bankruptcy do so because of the cost of health insurance.  They go health insurance bankrupt.

“I had a couple the other day with two children. Both of whom had mental illness and they could never get insurance.  They can get insurance now.”

“Democrats created Medicare, Social Security and now the Affordable Care Act.  In Ohio, 79,000 people who didn’t have insurance before have registered under the new program, and they have many more choices.” 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Deficit Falling


According to a new report from the  Congressional Budget Office the federal budget deficit has fallen sharply over the past few years and is on track to decline even further.
The non-partisan budget office has been reporting declining deficits, but a recent report shows that the deficits are shrinking faster than predicted.  This year's deficit is $46 billion smaller than CBO projected last year, and over 10 years those projections add up to $1 trillion in smaller deficits.
According to the CBO, the reason is that federal revenues are increasing by 9% and short-term spending cuts have held spending increases to just 2.6%.
Deficits are expected to decline until 2016, and then start rising again because of increased health insurance subsidies under the Affordable Care Act, mounting interest costs and an aging population receiving more entitlements.
The national debt, that is the cumulative effect of annual budget deficits remains the problem.  That debt will be $17.6 trillion this year, but will grow to a projected $27.2 trillion by 2024.
The CBO report insists: "Such a large and growing federal debt could have serious negative consequences, including restraining economic growth in the long term, giving policymakers less flexibility to respond to unexpected challenges, and eventually increasing the risk of a fiscal crisis."
Jason Furman, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers says: "The most important thing is that you're getting your debt down as a percentage of the economy, and that it's on a downward path."  But, he agrees with the CBO’s projection, that deficits will turn the corner again by 2016.  He adds: "They're not saying we've solved our fiscal problems."
Republicans and Democrats alike credited bipartisan budget agreements for helping to make progress, but they agreed that more work needs to be done.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Georgia Death Panel


Both the House and Senate of the Georgia state legislature have passed bills aimed at denying health insurance to hundreds of thousands.

They’ve made it harder to expand Medicaid in Georgia by taking the power to out of the hands of the governor and requiring approval from the general assembly as well. 

Another bill has cleared the Georgia legislature, that is more extreme.  Republican State Representative Jason Spencer, who sponsored the legislation, explained that the purpose of that bill: “is essentially noncompliance.”

What that legislation would do is to ban any state organization from running insurance navigator programs to help Georgia consumers buy health insurance under Obamacare.  It would also ban any state or local government agencies or employees from advocating for Medicaid expansion.

Reverend Dr Raphael Warnock, senior pastor of the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, argues: “History has not been kind to governors who have stood in the doorway denying American citizens the benefits of being an American citizen.

“In 1954, it was access to a decent education.  Sixty years later, we’re talking about access to decent health care.  A federal decision has been made.  In each instance, you have governors standing in the doorway, saying the president may have signed it, the Congress may have passed it, the Supreme Court may have upheld it, but we won’t give you access to the fruits of our great democracy.”

“You lose the argument, you try to win the election.  It seems that there’s those who say, if we can’t win the election, we will find a way to block people’s access to polls, block people’s access to health care.

“This is the worst kind of taxation without representation.  The citizens of Georgia have paid for this Medicaid expansion through their federal taxes.  And our state leaders have said, we will not expand Medicaid, although most Georgians have said that they would like to expand Medicaid.”

Georgia State University insists Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act would also have a positive economic impact on the state; $45 billion in Medicaid funds would come into the state, and it’s estimate that it would create 70,343 jobs statewide. 

During the debate, there were those who talked about death panels.  Today, the death panel is the Georgia state legislature, who have decided that the working poor don’t deserve to have decent health care in the richest country in the world.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Tar Sands Oil


Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu made a false argument for the Keystone XL Pipeline.  She argued: “A critical in my view a piece of infrastructure that will transport safely the cleanest barrel of oil produced in North America contrary to popular belief.  

“Canada is our closest and our strongest trading partner.  You are aware that their environmental standards are in fact higher than ours and among the highest in the world.  And this resource, a 30 billion barrels of oil, represents I understand the largest single free enterprise resource in the world.  So from my perspective and in particularly the people that I represent, it’s hard for us to even understand why there is a question as to whether this infrastructure is in the national interest.”

Senator Landrieu claims, that the tar sands oil is the cleanest barrel of oil produced in North America, but NASA Climate Scientist James Hansen expressed a much different opinion in a recent Senate hearing.

Dr. Hanson insists: “Tar sands are among the dirtiest and most carbon intensive fuels.  It makes no sense to setup a system to exploit them in a major way.  If we don’t approve it, a lot of that tar sands will never be developed.

“The world is going to realize pretty soon that we’ve got to limit the amount of carbon we put in the atmosphere and must going to have to do that via a price on carbon and that’s going to cause the most carbon intensive things to get left in the ground and that includes tar sands.”

Tar sands oil is one of the most toxic fuels on the planet.  Oil companies have to heat the sands with toxic additives to extract it from the ground, and the process creates three times more carbon emissions than conventional oil.

Monday, March 24, 2014

It’s Here To Stay


Wendell Potter was the former head of the communications at the Cigna insurance company.  Presently, he’s the senior analyst at the Center for Public Integrity.

Regarding the Americans for Prosperity ads (read yesterday’s post), Potter announced: “And they’re making facts up and they’re misleading people, to get them to appear in ads like this.  It’s really quite frankly despicable and it’s all for political ends.

“The insurance industry will continue to be, because this law is built on Republican principles of maintaining the multi payer system that we have in this country.

“I think you will see that they will actually applaud some of these ads, because many of the executives that I used to work with would like nothing more than to see more Republicans elected, since there’s a chance that some of the consumer protections can be rolled back if Republicans are in controlled of Washington.”

On national television, Potter proclaimed: “I am here because of another leukemia patient and the role that I played several years ago.  When a corporate executive got between a 17-year-old young woman, who was fighting for her life, and decided to overrule the decision that was made by her doctors.  She died at the UCLA Medical Center, five days before Christmas, because the insurance company said it didn’t think, that a procedure was medically appropriate for her.  When Madeline died, I made a decision that I was going to find some new way to earn a living because I just couldn’t keep doing it anymore.  

“Obamacare is saving lives.  I’ve met many people who’ve told me that they are alive today, because of that law.  It provides a way for people to get insurance coverage that they never had a chance to buy in the past.  It’s here to stay.”

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Dishonest Ads


The Republican Super PAC, Americans for Prosperity has injected itself into a tightly contested Senate seat in Michigan.  They’ve been running a political ad of cancer patient saying: My name is Julie Boonstra and five years ago I was diagnosed with leukemia.  I found out that I only have a 20 percent chance of surviving.  I found this wonderful doctor and a great healthcare plan.

“I was doing barely well fighting the cancer, fighting the leukemia, and then I received a letter, my insurance was canceled because of Obamacare.

“Now the out-of-pocket costs are so high, it’s unaffordable.  If I do not receive my medication, I will die.  I believed I could keep my health insurance plan.  I feel lied to.  It’s heartbreaking for me.”

The ad implies that Boonstra lost her doctor, and she claims the out-of-pocket cost are so high, it’s unaffordable.  However, the Washington Post thoroughly checked out Boonstra’s claims, and found that under Obamacare, she was able to keep her doctor.  Subsequently, Americans for Prosperity did a turned around and confirmed that fact.

Boonstra told the Detroit News, that under Obamacare her premiums had been cut from $1100 a month to $571 a month.  Overall, Boonstra’s old plan cost her $13,200 a year, and that was before co-pays and out-of-pocket expenses.  Her Affordable Health Care plan costs under $12,000 a year, and includes co-pays and out-of-pocket expenses.

Boonstra’s old insurance policy was canceled, because it didn’t meet the federal standards which Obamacare setup. 

Under Obamacare, Julie’s preexisting condition could never be dropped, because of lifetime limits.  The savings is quite clear.  It appears that Americans for Prosperity has deceive a cancer patient, in order to put her in a blatantly dishonest ads.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

SNAP


The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program) is the nation’s most important anti-hunger program.  In 2013, it helped more than 47 million low-income Americans to afford a nutritionally adequate diet in a typical month.

Nearly 72 percent of SNAP participants are in families with children; more than one-quarter of participants are in households with seniors or people with disabilities.

After unemployment insurance, SNAP is the most responsive federal program providing additional assistance during economic downturns.  It also is an important nutritional support for low-wage working families, low-income seniors, and people with disabilities with fixed incomes.

The federal government pays the full cost of SNAP benefits and splits the cost of administering the program with the states, which operate the program.

SNAP eligibility rules and benefit levels are, for the most part, set at the federal level and uniform across the nation, though states do have flexibility to tailor aspects of the program, such as the value of a vehicle a household may own and still qualify for benefits.

In order to qualify from food stamps an individual has to make less than $15,000 a year.  Most of the people who are receiving food stamps are below 130 percent of the poverty line, but large percentage of those families live at less than half the poverty level. 

Nearly 48 million people participated in SNAP at a cost of almost $80 billion a year.  Congressman Chris Gibson and House Republicans attempted to cut the food stamp program by 40 billion over the next 10 years.  They decide not to look at ways to trim the cost of our defense programs, but instead wanted to cut programs that take food out of the mouths of the hungriest people in America. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Newspaper Critics


In letters submitted to the Delaware County Times, Cpl. John Dent and Harold Kelly indicated that having served in the military makes the political views of veterans more creditable.

Should I sign my letters to newspapers: Former Sgt. Jim O’Leary USMC?  Does the fact that I enlisted in the Marine Corps during the Korean War make my political views more creditable?

I don’t think it should make a difference.  After all, former Army veteran Timothy McVeigh detonated a truck bomb in front of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995.  That bomb killed 168 people, and wounded were more than 500.

Republicans propagandist have proven to be very inconsistent with their praise of those, who served in the military.  In 2004, Republicans questioned the patriotism of Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, who had honorably served two tours of duty in Vietnam and was awarded three Purple Hearts, a Silver Star and a Bronze Star.

It’s reassuring to learn that John Dent isn’t a “foolish traitor.”  However, in my opinion he is a misguide alarmist regarding his claim that gun registration will result in the confiscation of legal guns and ammunition.

In his effort to discredit Sean Eldridge, Harold Kelly has failed to inform us of the accomplishments of Rep. Gibson.  Perhaps, that’s because Gibson doesn’t have any.

Gibson does want to limit the size of government.  Apparently, Kelly doesn’t realize, that there are approximately 600,000 fewer government employees under this president than there were under Bush.  And, if public sector employment rates had remained steady, about 1.7 million more Americans would currently be employed.

After campaigning on a platform of jobs, the first three bills Gibson voted for were direct attacks on women’s health.  He voted for H.R. 1, which would have totally eliminated Title X funding for family planning and teen pregnancy prevention.  It included an amendment that would have completely defunded Planned Parenthood.

Gibson voted for H.R. 2. “Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act,” that would have allowed insurance companies to once again discriminate against women by charging them higher premiums and deny women care because of so-called pre-existing conditions, such as pregnancy.  Gibson has voted to repeal the Affordable Health Care Act 51 times.

Gibson voted for H.R. 3, “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” that tried to redefine rape as “forceable rape” only, which would exclude statutory rape and women who were drugged or verbally threatened.                        

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Ignoring the People


It’s untrue, that the Second Amendment was designed to allow the people to defend themselves against a tyrannical government.  The legislative history of the Second Amendment supports the concept that gun ownership was intended to defend slave owners against a slave insurrection, and not to overthrow our democratic government, or void an election.

Adam Lanza brought nine 30-round magazines, to a Newtown, Connecticut elementary school, and fired 154 bullets that killed 20 children and six teachers.

The United States has 5% of the world’s population and 50% of the world’s guns.  There are more than 300 millon gun out there, as compared to 250 million vehicles.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime reported in 2009, that 66.9% of all homicides in America were perpetrated using a firearm.  Gun-related death rates in America are eight times higher than they are in countries that are economically and politically similar to ours.  Higher gun-related death rates can only be found in developing countries and countries with political instability.  Developed countries with strict gun laws, such as Australia, have essentially eliminated gun violence.

Two out of three gun-related deaths are suicides, and according to the Centers for Disease Control in 2011 guns killed 31,347 Americans.

On April 17, 2013, a bipartisan proposal to expand background checks in the Senate failed, although a majority of 54 Senators voted to support the bill.

In response to that legislation being defeated, gun shop owner Mike Weisser noted: “I don’t think the issue of background checks really has anything to do with whether or not people are in favor or opposed to the Second Amendment.  I know a lot of people who aren’t gun owners, and, of course, I know many gun owners.  And all of us recognize that a background check is a very important tool for keeping guns out of the wrong hands.  The fact that you have a tool like that doesn’t say that you’re opposed to the Second Amendment or to the rights of gun owners to own their guns.  There’s no connection between those two things.”

A statement by former Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly insisted, that the Senate had: "ignored the will of the American people," and that those senators who voted against the expanded background checks chose to "obey the leaders of the powerful corporate gun lobby, instead of their constituents."

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Congressman Gibson’s Record


Congressman Gibson is not a moderate. 

Prior to being elected Gibson signed Grover Norquist’s no tax pledge.  If elected Democratic candidate Sean Eldridge will examine the spending and revenue sides of a budget, and vote to increase revenues by taxing those who have benefitted most, if necessary. 

Gibson votes for H.R. 1, which would have totally eliminated Title X funding for family planning and teen pregnancy prevention.  It included an amendment that would have completely defunded Planned Parenthood.

Gibson voted for H.R. 2. “Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act,” that would have allowed insurance companies to once again discriminate against women by charging them higher premiums and deny women care because of so-called pre-existing conditions, such as pregnancy.  He has voted to repeal the Affordable Health Care Act over 51 times.

Gibson voted for H.R. 3, “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” that tried to redefine rape as “forceable rape” only, which would exclude statutory rape and women who were drugged or verbally threatened.          

Paul Ryan’s budget passed the House with Rep. Gibson and 234 Republicans voting in favor of a Medicare overhaul.  The plan, Gibson voted for would have required our government to no longer directly pay health care bills for senior citizens.  Instead, recipients would choose a plan from a list of private providers, which the federal government would subsidize.

Gibson joined House Republicans in shutting down our government in 2013, and in February, Gibson was not one of the 28 House Republicans that crossed party lines and voted with Democrats to avoid another government shutdown by raising the debt ceiling.


Although 46.2 million Americans are living in poverty, Gibson voted to cut food stamps by $40 billion.  He opposes increasing the minimum wage, which would lift millions of Americans out of poverty.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Political Atmosphere


Interest rates are low, and people want to work.  Our government should be rebuilding our roads and bridges, and the next generation of air traffic control, that could significantly reduce travel times for flyers all across America.  Those projects would reduce fuel and carbon emissions by about 30 percent, and they would create many more jobs for engineers, computer programmers and construction workers.  Why aren’t we rebuilding America?
For every dollar invested in early childhood education, we’d get 7 dollars back, while reducing crime rates, teen pregnancy, and dropout rates.  Why aren’t we doing it?
Speaker of the House John Boehner acknowledges, that our immigration system is broken, and should be reformed.  A bill has already passed the Senate on a bipartisan vote.  What’s preventing Boehner from putting it up for a vote in the House?
What’s holding us back is the political atmosphere in Washington that puts a premium on obstruction, with an eye on the next election instead of delivering for our people. 
In his State of the Union Address, President Obama said that he’s prepared to work with anybody in order to advance America’s agenda.  But, if Congress refuses to act, he’ll work with the private sector to see if they can come up with creative ways to finance our infrastructure needs.  And, he'll work with cities that are interested in doing early childhood education.  Administratively, he’ll try to make government work better, more efficiently, deliver better services and advance a broad-based growth agenda. 
It would be a lot easier if House Republicans would get serious about America’s future, because they have the power of the purse.  Actually, the Obama administration can’t improve our infrastructure, or repair our broken immigration system that has the potential to grow our economy by an extra trillion dollars, without Congress

Monday, March 17, 2014

Senate Intelligence Committee


As noted in yesterday’s post, CIA Director John Brennan is telling the leadership of the Intelligence Committee, something different in private than he’s willing to admit to in public.
Publicly, Director Brennan said: “As far as the allegations of CIA hacking into Senate computers, nothing could be further from the truth.  I mean, we wouldn’t do that.  I mean, that’s just beyond the scope of reason.
“When the facts come out on this, I think a lot of people who are claiming that there has been this tremendous sort of spying and monitoring and hacking will be proved wrong...
“I am confident that the authorities will review this appropriately, and I will deal with the facts as uncovered in the appropriate manner.  I would just encourage some members of the Senate to take their time to make sure that they don’t overstate what they claim and what they probably believe to be the truth.
“And if I did something wrong, I will go to the president and I will explain to him exactly what I did and what the findings were.  And he is the one who can ask me to stay or to go.”
Senator Mark Udall noted: “But, my role in the intelligence committee is to be an overseer of the executive branch.  That is a sacred responsibility.  We are the conscience of the nation.  We have to uphold the public trust.  And that role, to me, is very important.
“That’s why when I first went on the committee some three years ago, I went about understanding the CIA’s program of interrogation detention which was brutal.  It was ineffective.  It was clumsy.  It was filled with flaws.  I call it torture.
“And we’ve been pushing ever since to get this report released and to clear the record because we know in America when we acknowledge our mistakes, we’re the stronger for it.  We’re the better for it.
“And there were enormous mistakes made.  There was a stain on our country’s reputation.  We can lift that by letting the truth let us free, but as long as the CIA continues to stall and delay and not work with the committee in an appropriate way, we’re not going to get to that point.”

Sunday, March 16, 2014

A Comprehensive History


Readers are advised to read the posts made on March 14 entitled Missing Information, and on March 15 entitled Constitutional Responsibility before proceeding.
On the floor of the Senate, Dianne Feinstein alleged that a CIA staffer not only took part in the torture program but lied to the Department of Justice.  Although, Senator Feinstein didn’t name that CIA staffer, "The New York Times" reported that it’s likely the acting general counsel of the CIA, Robert Eatinger.
Furthermore, it was Robert Eatinger, who signed off at the CIA in 2005 when the agency decided to destroy those videotapes of those interrogation sessions, also known as, torture sessions.
The Senate quickly voted to confirm a new general counsel for the Central Intelligence Agency, after senators withdrew holds they had placed on the nomination over concerns that the spy agency was not cooperating with an ongoing investigation into Bush-era interrogation practices.
Justice Department lawyer Caroline Krass won confirmation to the job in a 95-4 vote after Majority Leader Harry Reid obtained unanimous consent for an immediate vote.
Our country must sometimes act in secret, but the only way we can have secret government agency and still remain a democracy is if there is a part of our government that is allowed to oversee what the secret agencies do.  And, if a secret agencies use their clandestine tactics against our government, it’s powers should be forfeited.
Colorado Senator Mark Udall pointed out that in her speech, Senator Feinstein laid out a comprehensive history of the facts.  Udall insisted: “ The situation begins with the CIA and it ends with the CIA.  And I would add one other note.  I’ve lost confidence in
Director Brennan, particularly because he won’t acknowledge the misdeeds and misconduct of the CIA.
“As Senator Feinstein in her speech pointed out, about six weeks ago, he acknowledged to Senator Feinstein and Senator Chambliss that the CIA had, in fact, gone into the computers of our intelligence committee staff.  Today, he denied it.  I don’t understand why he won’t come clean.  That’s why I’ve lost confidence in Director Brennan.”

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Constitutional Responsibility


As noted in yesterday’s post, the Senate Intelligence Committee is trying to carry out their constitutional responsibility of overseeing the CIA, by investigate what the CIA has done.  The CIA has taken back documents that the Senate was looking at by hacking into the Senate’s computers.

In response Senate staffers decided to take matters into their own hands.  There was one particular internal document, that Senate staffers believe undercut a lot of the CIA’s denials and they knew the CIA wished the Senate hadn’t gotten access to.  Consequently, Senate staffers physically took that document out of that secure location in northern Virginia and moved it to the Hart Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C.  The document is locked in a safe designed to handle secret intelligence information inside that building.

The chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Senator Feinstein announced: “The CIA has previously withheld and destroyed information about its detention and interrogation program, including its decision in 2005 to destroy interrogation videotapes over the objections of the Bush White House and the director of national intelligence.  Based on the above, there was a need to preserve and protect the internal Panetta review in the committee’s own secure spaces.”

The overseers and the agency they oversee are stealing documents from each other.  Now, the CIA has decided to refer those Senate staffers for criminal prosecution, for moving documents into that safe on Capitol Hill.

Dianne Feinstein, who has been very pro-CIA made an unprecedented 40-minute speech, on the floor of the Senate, by announcing: “Weeks later, I was also told the acting counsel general of the CIA filed a crimes report with the Department of Justice concerning the committee staff’s action.  I view the acting counsel general’s refer as a potential effort to intimidate this staff and I am not taking it lightly.

“I should note that for most, if not all of the CIA’s detention and interrogation program, the now-acting general counsel was a lawyer in the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center, the unit within which the CIA managed and carried out this program.  From mid-2004 until the official termination of the detention and interrogation program in January, 2009, he was the unit’s chief lawyer.  He is mentioned by name more than 1,600 times in our study.

“And now, this individual is sending a crimes report to the Department of Justice on the actions of congressional staff.  The same congressional staff who researched and drafted a report that details how CIA officers, including the acting general counsel, himself, provided inaccurate information to the Department of Justice about the program.”

Friday, March 14, 2014

Missing Information


On December 6th, 2007, "The New York Times" published a report saying the CIA destroyed videotapes the agency made of so-called harsh interrogations, where the CIA subjected prisoners to forms of torture.  Reportedly, in 2005 the destruction of those videotapes were against the wishes of the Bush White House, and the director of national intelligence.  The CIA made the decision to destroy those tapes on the advice of their own lawyers.

Congress, who is supposed to be overseeing the CIA, was horrified by that revelation.  The director of the CIA testified before the intelligence committee not to worry about them destroying those videotapes, because the didn’t show anything important.  He told Congress that the CIA had taken detailed written notes of everything they did in those interrogation rooms and those notes would be handed over to Congress in written information and that should satisfy their needs.

The Intelligence Committee send some of its staffers to read those written reports, and what they found in those reports apparently upset them significantly.

According to the Chair of the Intelligence Committee, Dianne Feinstein, what Senate staffers found in those reports "was chilling.  The interrogations and conditions of confinement at the CIA detention sites were far different and much more harsh than the way the CIA had described them to us."

As a result of what they read in those written reports, the Intelligence Committee voted to do a complete review of the issue.  They’d do a complete review of the CIA’s secret prisons and interrogations in those prisons.  The CIA was obliged to go along with that, because they are overseen by Congress.

The CIA sort of turn over millions of documents, but in a secure location in northern Virginia where they would allow members of the committee and staffers to come to an off-site facility managed by the CIA and review those millions of pages of documents.  They had to do it where the CIA could keep an eye on them.

Within a few months of starting to review millions of pages of documents, the Intelligence Committee and its staffers realized that something was wrong.  The documents they’d seen were disappearing.  The CIA was taking some information back, even after they had given it to the committee in the first place.  Apparently, the CIA was going through the computers that the Senate staffers were using to oversee the CIA and removing documents from those computers.

The Chair of the Intelligence Committee, Senator Dianne Feinstein insists: “In May of 2010, the committee staff noticed that the documents that had been provided for the committee’s review were no longer accessible.  Staff approached the CIA personnel at the off-site location, who initially denied that documents had been removed.  CIA personnel then blamed information technology personnel who were almost all contractors for removing the documents, themselves, without direction or authority.

“And then the CIA stated that the removal of the documents was ordered by the White House.  When the committee approached the White House, the White House denied giving the CIA any such order.  After a series of meetings, I learned that on two occasions, CIA personnel electronically removed committee access to CIA documents.”

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Risk and Rewards


The Executive Director of the Sierra Club, Michael Brune believes that two million comments, by people who feel strongly enough about the Keystone XL pipeline to take a stand against it, will have a significant impact on President Obama’s decision.

Although, the oil industry has millions of dollars to try to sway public opinion, there are millions of people who believe that this pipeline proposal is a boondoggle.  It’s a thousand-mile long pipeline, that goes through farms and ranches to the Gulf of Mexico, and most of the oil will be shipped overseas to China.  We assume all the risks and the oil companies get all the rewards.

The question is, do we want to put billions of dollars into more infrastructure or should we start to make a turn towards clean energy that creates more jobs and doesn’t create more pollution problems at the same time?  And, Do we really want to wed ourselves to another volatile fossil fuel for decades to come?

At a public hearing before the Senate Farm Relations Committee, Michael Brune will have the job of representing millions of Sierra Club members, and people, who don’t want to see a pipeline go through their farms, and ranches.  Many of these folks are concerned about climate disruption, because they’ve been experiencing extreme weather.  At the Senate hearing Michael Burne will have the opportunity to say no to the Keystone pipeline project and urged Obama and Congress to invest in clean energy instead.

Senate majority leader Harry Reid, Senator Boxer of California and Senator Schatz from Hawaii have shown leadership in the Senate on climate change, and have also been strongly against the pipeline.  There is a lot more that the Senate can and should be doing regarding the Keystone pipeline, and particularly on climate change.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Veterans First

In December, Congress passed a two-year budget deal that included a reduction in veterans’ pension benefits, but weeks later, Congress repealed many of those cuts.

Recently, Republicans voted to killed the largest veteran spending bill in decades.  It failed in the Senate by a vote to 56 to 41 vote, with only two Republicans voted for the bill.  Supporters insisted the measure would have brought the most significant changes in decades to our veterans’ programs.  It called for 27 new medical facilities to help a healthcare system that has been strained by veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

With Democrats pressing for passage, Senate Republicans attempted to attach controversial legislation calling for new sanctions on Iran that President Obama opposes.

The main sponsor of the bill, Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders pointed out: “The issue of Iran sanctions has nothing to do with the needs of veterans.”

The legislation had the backing of most veterans’ organizations, but Republicans voted against the bill because of the cost.  The bill would cost $21 billion over 10 years and to many of us it’s a small price to pay for our veterans.  It’s always about the money with Republicans, but it’s never about the issue of going to war.  Congressional Republicans voted to send our troops to war in Iraq and they should at least do the right thing and vote to take care of them when they come home.

Regarding, Russian President Putin sending troops into Crimea, South Carolina, Senator Lindsey Graham, and John McCain have been insisting that Obama is weak on defense, but they voted against the veterans.

President Kennedy once said: “Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate.”

Military force should be the last option that we use.  There are 65 percent of the people in Crimea who think that Putin is doing the right think.  If our government is going to support the idea that we have to support democracy in every corner of the world, it’s going to be very costly.

A decade ago, congressional Republicans claimed, that it was  absolutely necessary for us to invade Iraq, but after 11 years in Afghanistan, we’ve run up a $5 trillion bill, that was put on the credit card.  If there’s any priority that our government should honor it’s to take care of those veterans first.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

It Shouldn’t Matter


The following is an excerpt from a speech made by President Obama on 3/5/14.
“When I took office, we were in the midst of crisis.  We've now seen over four years of economic growth.  We've seen 8.5 million new jobs created.  We've seen the housing market bounce back.  We've seen an auto industry that has come roaring back.  We've seen manufacturing return for the first time since the 1990s.  There has been an extraordinary energy boom both in traditional energy sources and clean energy, at the same time as we've reduced our carbon emissions more than any other nation on Earth during this period. 
“We've made progress on school reform.  We have made sure that every American is able to get access to health insurance, something that Presidents from both parties have fought for, for almost 100 years.  And the country has moved decisively in the direction of justice when it comes to the LGBT community. 
“We see in our children and in our grandchildren greater tolerance, greater willingness to work with other people, desire for service.  We've got the best universities in the world.  We've got the best workforce in the world.  We've got the best scientists in the world.  We have all the ingredients to make sure the 21st century is an American Century just like the 20th.
“And yet folks are anxious, because in the midst of all this there’s also great change.  And what I've tried to do as President of all people, but also as the leader of the party, as a Democrat is to make sure that we're translating old, tried and true values into policies that meet the challenges of this time of change.
“And at the heart of it, the heart of who we are as Americans but also who we are as Democrats, as the party of Jefferson and FDR and JFK, is the simple premise that everybody in this country, if they work hard, can get ahead; that everybody has a chance to live out their dreams; that opportunity is there for the taking if you work hard, if you are responsible.  It doesn’t matter the circumstances into which you are born.  It doesn’t matter if you’re born on the South Side of Chicago and your grandpa was a janitor, or if you’re born in Hawaii to a teenage mom who ends up raising you without a dad.  It doesn’t matter.  You’ve got a shot if you’re willing to work hard.  And we as a society are going to create a platform and provide the tools to make sure people can succeed.”

Monday, March 10, 2014

A Political Revolution


According to a recent New York Times/CBS poll, 83 percent of Democrats, want Hillary Clinton to run for president in 2016.  However, she might not be the choice of 40 percent of Americans, who don’t believe Hillary Clinton is offering "new ideas."

In an interview with Time Magazine, Vermont’s Independent Senator Bernie Sanders said: “We need candidates who are prepared to represent the working families of this country, who are prepared to stand up to the big money interests, who are prepared to support an aggressive agenda to expand the middle class. 

“What we’re talking about is ideas and this country today faces more serious problems that anytime since the great depression.  The middle class is disappearing, more people living in poverty, and the gap between the very, very wealthy and everybody else is growing wider and wider.  What we need in America is not politics as usual, we need a political revolution.

“What does that mean?  It means helping the tens of million of people who are working longer hours for low wages, the people who don’t have healthcare, people who can’t afford to send their kids to college, and the people who are seeing their jobs going to China and Vietnam.

“The middle class in this country should be expanding.  We should be moving in a more moralist direction not in a oligarchic way.  We have got to shake that system up.  And that’s what the political revolution is about.”

“Look, I have known Hillary Clinton for many years.  I like and respect Hillary Clinton.  But, what I do know is that we need people to say that there is a war going on against working families.  We got to stand up.  We’ve got to fight back or we’re not going to have much of the country left.”

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Democratize Education


Many conservatives like charter schools because it’s privatization.  However, some liberals believe that charter schools are form of segregation, because charter school administrators pick and choose the children with the most academic potential out of neighborhoods.  At a time, when there is a lack of investment in public education, this approach has become a major concern, when it comes to an equal opportunity for all children.

The problem is that charter schools are not only a form of segregation, but they’re cherry-picking the children that will survive.  The choice is between saving public school education so that all of the resources can be democratized, or bailing out on our public schools, because of shrinking resources. 

Unless our government begin to redirect critical resources to provide equal resources for both charter and public schools, we’ll end up with a two-tiered system and institutionalized segregation.

The problem is students, who have parents without the sufficient means are beginning left behind, at a time when we need rapid proliferation of technical education.  The success of charter schools are suspect because they don’t take in every child who applies.  

What we need in America is what the other high performing nations have.  They don’t have charter schools or vouchers, and but they do provide great teaching professionals.

The schools that don’t get sufficient resources end up failing.  We have disparities between suburban schools that have new schools with high speed internet, and we have intercity schools that can’t even provide firsthand textbooks or running water.  Whenever we spend a thousand or two thousand dollars more per student attending a charter school, of course we’re going to get much better results.

Charter schools are putting a squeeze on the fundamental system of education that has in the past brought this country to greatness.

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Charter Schools


There is an effort to destroy public education in our country.  New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is working to slow the growth of charter schools and improve public schools. His commitment is being met with criticism from conservatives who want to divert taxpayer money from public schools to charter schools.

The CEO of Success Academy Schools Network, Eva Moskowitz is angry, because Mayor de Blasio refused to grant three of her school space in city school buildings.

She insists: “Parents are very determined and it’s actually just morally wrong.  He’s trying to close the highest performing middle school in Math in the entire State of New York in fifth grade.  I don’t think of anyone can get away with that.”

Moskowitz expects to be giving free space to run her charter schools and make a larger profit for herself.  Charter school administrators are outraged, that de Blasio will charge them rent for their spaces.  At least 16 charter schools CEO’s including Eva Moskowitz earned more money than the New York City schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott in 2011-2012 school year.

De Blasio approved 39 out of 49 new charters advocated by Mayor Bloomberg.  He approved three new charters, for Moskowitz, but denied her three.  Subsequently, she took a full page ad in the New York Times, and went on television to say: "I can’t pay rent."  Moskowitz makes a half of million dollars year, but acts like a victim because she isn’t getting free rent.

The privatization of education is undermining public education for those who are stuck at the bottom.  If a child is very bright, they’ll get chosen.  However, many don’t get chosen, and those who don’t mature until later will be left behind.  That is organized segregation that needs to be contested.

Friday, March 07, 2014

Vulnerable Americans


Since, the 1960’s the number of women in the workforce has increased by more than 50 percent.  However, by age of 65, the average woman will have lost $431,000 over her working lifetime, because of an earning gap with male employees, who do the same job.

Today, 49 million children depend on women’s salaries and two thirds of those earning the minimum wage are women.  Liberals understand that some people will earn more money than others, however, a majority of Americans also agree that no one who works full time should have to raise a family in poverty.

In the developed world only Mexico, Chili and Turkey have a higher rate of children living in poverty than America.  Approximately 16 million of our children live in poverty and half live with a single mother.

Very profitable companies that pay a subminimum wage are costing taxpayers billions in food stamps, because their employees don’t earn enough money to stay out of poverty.

Workers, who come back after their jobs have been shipped overseas often come back at a significantly lower wage scale.  I’ve always believed that opportunity and hard work go hand and hand, but good things don’t always happen to hardworking people, who are more vulnerable today, because of the global economy.

According to a Pew Research poll, 51 percent of Republicans think people are poor because of a lack of effort, and only 32 percent of Republicans think poverty is due to circumstances beyond a person’s control.

Although 46.2 million Americans are living in poverty, Congressman Chris Gibson voted to cut food stamps by $40 billion, over a 10 year period.  He also, voted not to raise the debt ceiling.  Does that mean that it’s okay for us not to pay our school taxes?  Will Gibson oppose increasing the minimum wage?

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Reliable Workers


The U.S. Chamber of Commerce claims a minimum wage increase would be a job killer.  Republicans and the Chamber also insist unions are job killers, workplace safety regulations are job killers, environmental regulations are job killers, and the Affordable Care Act is a job killer.  The California Chamber of Commerce even publishes an annual list of “job killers,” including almost any measures that lift wages or protect workers and the environment.
Former Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, Robert Reich has pointed out: “When in 1996 I recommended the minimum wage be raised, Republicans and the Chamber screamed it would ‘kill jobs.’  In fact, in the four years after it was raised, the U.S. economy created more jobs than were ever created in any four-year period.
“For one thing, a higher minimum wage doesn’t necessarily increase business costs.  It draws more job applicants into the labor market, giving employers more choice of whom to hire.  As a result, employers often get more reliable workers who remain longer thereby saving employers at least as much money as they spend on higher wages.
“Even when raising the minimum wage or bargaining for higher wages and better working conditions, or requiring businesses to provide safer workplaces or a cleaner environment increases the cost of business, this doesn’t necessarily kill jobs.”
A higher wage can help build employee morale, resulting in better performance.  Gap, America’s largest clothing retailer  recently announced it would boost its hourly wage to $10, and Wall Street seemed to agree. 
Wall Street analyst, Dorothy Lakner acknowledge: “You treat people well, they’ll treat your customers well.  Gap had a strong year compared to a lot of their peers.  That sends a pretty strong message to employees that, we had a good year, but you’re going to be rewarded too.”

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Our Backyard


Rex Tillerson the CEO of ExxonMobil is opposed to a water tower that could be used for fracking in his own backyard, but seemed fine with it elsewhere.  Tillerson claimed: “Go out and talk to people.  If there was a problem, state regulators would have already been all over this.”

Lou Allstadt is the former executive vice president and operating officer for exploration and production in the U.S., Canada and Latin America for the Mobil Oil Corporation.  After the merger, he worked at ExxonMobil for six months.   

Allstadt lives in upstate New York, and in an open letter to Tillerson, he wrote: "For the past five years, I have been actively trying to keep your company and the rest of the industry from fracking here.  You and I love the places where we live, but in the end, if they are ruined by fracking or frack water tanks, we can afford to go someplace else. However, many people can’t afford to move away when they can no longer drink the water or breathe the air because they are too close to one of your well pads or compressor stations.

For 30 years, Allstadt worked in the oil and gas industry, but about five years ago, people who knew that he had worked in that industry asked him what he thought about drilling wells close to the lake that provides drinking water for Cooperstown, where he lives.

In a national TV interview, Allstadt explained: “And when I started looking into it, I realized that the New York State regulations, even if you thought it was worth getting the gas out, those regulations were just woefully inadequate, allowing wells very close to people’s homes, allowing disposal of cuttings, all sorts of things.”

"These issues are legitimate, but they are localized.  I am now much more concerned with the greenhouse gas impacts of fossil fuels generally, particularly the huge impact of methane emissions from natural gas production and transportation.  These are global problems that local zoning cannot protect against.  Only a major shift towards renewable energy sources can begin to mitigate their catastrophic climate impact.

“It was just barely coming to the surface when I was still working before 2000.  But it has clearly become more and more obvious.  More scientists, 97 percent of climate scientists say that global warming is a real issue and that we have to do something about it.” 

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

What Happened?


The Republican Party platform for 1956 included the following pledge to American voters.

“The Eisenhower Administration will continue to fight for dynamic and progressive programs which among other things will: “Stimulate improved job safety of our workers, through assistance to the States, employees and employers.

“Continue and further perfect its programs of assistance to the millions of workers with special employment problems, such as older workers, handicapped workers, members of minority groups and migratory workers.

“Strengthen and improve the Federal-State Employment Services and improve the effectiveness of the unemployment insurance system. 

“Protect by law the assets of employee welfare and benefits plans so that workers who are the beneficiaries can be assured of their rightful benefits. 

“Assure equal pay for equal work regardless of Sex.

“Clarify and strengthen the eight-hour laws for benefits of workers who are subject to Federal and Federally-assisted construction, and maintain and continue the vigorous administration of the Federal prevailing minimum wage laws for public supply contracts.

“Extend the protection of the Federal minimum wage laws to as many more workers as possible and practicable. 

“Continue to fight for the elimination of discrimination in employment because of race, creed, color, national origin, ancestry or sex.

“Provide assistance to improve the economic conditions of areas faced with persistant and substancial unemployment.” 

Eisenhower launched the most massive government undertaking in our history known as the Interstate Highway System.  Some complained that it was too costly, but it turned out to be the most successful economic stimulus programs in American history.

The Republican Party of 1956 has become increasingly more dependent on the southern racist voters of the former Confederacy.  The turning point was the civil rights legislation, that JFK  called for in a speech on June 11, 1963.  That landmark piece of legislation outlawed major forms of discrimination against blacks and women, and sought to ended racial segregation.

At the time, both Attorney General Robert Kennedy and Vice President Johnson had pushed for the introduction of that civil rights legislation, and LBJ predicted that the Democratic Party would lose the south. 

Now, Texas Republican gubernatorial hopeful Greg Abbott campaigns with Ted Nugent, who first became known a rock musician, but is now a National Rifle Association board member.  
Prior to Obama being re-elect, Nugent said: "If Barack Obama becomes the president in November again, I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year."  Recently, he describe Obama as “a Chicago communist-raised, communist-educated, communist-nurtured subhuman mongrel...”

Monday, March 03, 2014

Desperate, Deceitful Republicans


On September 16, 2012, five days after the Benghazi attack, Susan Rice said on Meet The Press: “Putting together the best information that we have available to us today, our current assessment is that what happened in Benghazi was, in fact, initially a spontaneous reaction to what had just transpired hours before in Cairo, almost a copycat of the demonstrations against our facility in Cairo, which were prompted, of course, by the video.  What we think then transpired in Benghazi is that opportunistic extremist elements came to the consulate as this was unfolding.”

Those comments sparked Republican charges of a cover-up, but the substance of what Susan Rice said was accurate.  Her assertion that the attack had been a reaction to unfolding events initially set off by the anti-Islamic video was confirmed last week by a bipartisan Senate committee, who reported: "Intelligence suggested the attack was not a highly coordinated plot but was opportunistic.  Some intelligence suggests the attacks were likely put together in short order following that day’s violent protests in Cairo against an inflammatory video."

Republicans attacked Rice for using the word "extremists" instead of "terrorists."  But, the word choice came directly from the intelligence community’s talking points.  She was also attacked for removing the words “al Qaeda,” but according to the Senate committee report, the reference to al Qaeda was removed to protect intelligence sources and methods.

CIA Director David Petraeus testified that the intelligence community got it wrong, and acknowledged that they thought initially that this was a protest that was either hijacked or got out of control, that terrorists and extremists were involved in, but that it began with a protest.

As National Security Adviser, Susan Rice recently told David Gregory on Meet The Press: “ The information I provided, which I explained to you was what we had at the moment.  It could change.  I commented that this was based on what we knew on that morning -- was provided to me and my colleagues, and indeed to Congress, by the intelligence community.  And that’s been well validated in many different ways since.  And that information turned out in some respects not to be 100 percent correct.  But the notion that somehow, I or anybody else in the administration misled the American people is patently false.  And I think that that’s been amply demonstrated.”

Desperate Republicans hope Benghazi will keep Hillary Clinton out of the White House.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Grand Bargain Unlikely


President Obama believed in the summer of 2011 that he was going to get somewhere negotiating with Republicans.  He put forward a specific proposal, negotiated in good faith, and moved more than halfway in order to achieve a grand bargain.  He offered over a trillion dollars in additional spending cuts so that there would be two dollars of spending cuts for every one dollar of increased revenue.  Tea Party Republicans rejected that deal.     

Last year, Obama put the idea of chained CPI, i.e., an adjusted Social Security formula in his budget.  He knew Republicans weren’t going to go along with it, but wanted to prove it to the country.

He’s become tired of not getting credit for being willing to make concessions, and taking the heat from Democrats who were furious for his being willing to cut Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. 

Most Americans don’t seem to want a grand bargain, that would significantly reduce the deficit.

Obama isn’t technically taking the idea of chained CPI off the bargaining table.  He still holds out the possibility that if Republicans come back to the table with increased revenues, he’ll be open to making a deal.

We’re hearing two radically different things from congressional Republicans.  On the one hand, the national debt threatens the future of the country, and how dare Obama walk away.  On the other hand, we’re not hearing anything from them about increasing revenues.

If Republicans change their tune, Obama is saying that he’s still open to a grand bargin.  It’s not gong to happen, and Republicans recognize they’ve had every opportunity to accept historic concessions that Democrats have never offered in 
the past. 

At this point, Senator Harry Reid wouldn’t bring it to the floor, because Tea Party Republicans in the House will not vote for tax increases.