Archive for government shutdown

2013 Was A Kick Ass Year -- According To The Song

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Troye Sivan

YouTube pop star Troye Sivan put out a song about 2012 last year and it went viral. So, when you've hit gold once, you go for it again. His tribute to the social phenomena, the political events and the year's pop culture in 2013 are amusing, poignant and very addictive. It may not be "Dumb Ways To Die" in its 'can't get it out of your head' quotient, but it sure is light, breezy and fun. So here it is for you. Look back at 2013 and it's cultural imprint (including, twerking, Nelson Mandella, Robin Thicke, the royal baby, One Direction, the LGBT world, the government shutdown and the Harlem Shake.)

Enjoy: (warning, adult language)

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In Congress It May No Longer Pay To Die

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Mr & Mrs Frank Lautenberg

Most family's rely on the earnings of "the head(s) of household" to see them through. From their earnings, they must put a shelter over their family's heads, feed and cloth them, also provide for all other exigencies of living. If something catastrophic happens and the key wage earner(s) in the family die, hopefully there's some insurance to provide for the survivor's future.

That's why there's life insurance. Not everyone takes advantage of it because it can get costly and there's so many other things that seem to be more pressing. After all, not too many of us think we're going to die until the moment it's upon us. Death is generally something that happens to other people, not us.

When I read about the bill passed that refunded the government after it's shutdown recently, I was surprised by one of the add-ons. No, not the funding of some dam project in Mitch McConnell's state of Kentucky. It was the funding of money for the widow of Senator Frank Lautenberg. He had died shortly before the shutdown and his poor dear widow was assuredly counting on his death benefits package to get her through.

I was struck by this $174,000 to Bonnie Englebart Lautenberg, wondering what all that was about? I mean it had to be important if it was a crucial attachment to the bill to reopen our government. And now I know. It's known as a death gratuity.

HuffPo:

Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) introduced a resolution in the House this week, proposing a ban on death gratuities for spouses of deceased lawmakers.

When a member of Congress dies in office, an item is inserted into the next appropriations bill, granting the equivalent of one year's pay to the survivors of the lawmaker.

On Saturday, Cooper told The Hill that members of Congress should not receive such "special treatment," but should secure their families' futures through life insurance, "like regular citizens."

At first when I read about Cooper's resolution, I thought it was cold. Someone has to die to get this money and I'm sure the family could use any help they can get at this time of need. But when he laid it out that this was special treatment, I got to thinking. I pay annually for life insurance to protect my family. My employers don't contribute. So why should Congress?

It can't be because they need it. It's actually a bit archaic -- a holdover tradition and maybe one past it's necessity.

"The death gratuity became customary starting in 1918 before the birth of modern life insurance (1924), the creation of Social Security (1935), the establishment of civil service pensions (1942), and health benefits under Medicare (1965)," Cooper said. "A lot has changed since 1918, and the gratuity custom should have been abandoned a long time ago."

According to Open Secrets: In 2011, the average net worth of a U.S. Senator: $11.9 Million and the average net worth of a U. S. Congressperson: $6.5 Million. So maybe Cooper's onto something here.

Oh, and in case you're wondering about the particular financial state of the late Sen. Lautenberg -- his recorded net worth was $56.8 million in 2012. Hardly a pauper, yet reopening our government required this money added to our overhead? Really? At that crucial time, this was what the shutdown was over? 

And add this little nugget. We also paid Jeffrey Chiesa who was appointed to fill Frank L's seat a full salary for serving until a special election could be held for a permanent replacement, Cory Booker.

Anyone smelling special treatment here? Republicans, this is what you held out for? I thought it was defunding Obamacare. You didn't get that, but you settled for this?

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GOP Refuses To Pay Government Shutdown Costs

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Zion National park

Well, Utah is unhappy with the Obama Administration, the department of the Interior specifically. So are the states of  Arizona, Utah, Colorado, South Dakota, New York and Tennessee.

But their anger is actually misplaced. Their problem is actually with the GOP and the House of Representatives. They're the ones who voted to defund the government, not the Department of the Interior.

Each of these states makes millions every year from revenues derived directly or indirectly (tourism related) from their federally maintained national parks. Parks like the Grand Canyon and Zion National park.

In the past shutdowns, these states were actually rewarded with money paid post-shutdown, to make up for their losses. Well, it seems the Republicans on the Hill this year have decided not to do that this time

So the next place the states took their demand was the Department of Interior. And they're saying no dice. Due to the sequester, they don't have the funds. They had gone to Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell who had told them in the past her department had been authorized to make that repayment for direct lost revenues. But that money came as part of "post shutdown funding bills" voted on by the Congress. She herself could not guarantee that money, but suggested that if past history was any indication, the state should lend their parks the money to stay open. When the shutdown was over, Congress would authorize funding for them to be repaid.

Seems the GOP  turned their backs on these states, once again.

Grand Canyon

Well, when Utah and the other states DEMANDED the repayment of the money they loaned their own parks, it fell on deaf GOP-led Congressional ears. The Representatives voted to repay furloughed workers but not the parks.

So, now it's up to the Republicans to clean up their spilled milk. Two GOP bills have been proposed, one to repay the states for this past government shutdown and another to force them to pay in case of another closure. According to the Hill:

Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah) is pushing a bill aimed at ensuring national parks remain open in the event that the government someday closes down again.

Rep. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) has another bill that would require states to be repaid for expenses within 90 days after a shutdown ends. The House committee will consider it on Wednesday as well, and there is a companion bill in the Senate.

Sadly for the states, it doesn't seem that the congressional leadership is in any hurry to see these bills happen.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) does not yet have plans to bring either bill to the floor, his office said.

So much for the Republicans caring about the damage they've done. They're trying to put the blame on the Department of Interior as if they have extra money sitting around since the sequester. This is just another example of the Republican passing the buck tactics and their true lack of compassion. They're bulls in a china shop and they refuse to pay for what they've broken. Let's see how long these Red states take to become purple -- with rage, now that they've been stiffed.

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Rep. Peter King (R-NY): "Cruz is a fraud, he's a false prophet, he's leading us into the valley of death."

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valley of death

Rep. Peter King (R-NY) had a thing or two to say to the Associated Press about a Rafael "Call Me Ted" Cruz thing or two. He's angry and he's not gonna take it any more. Or something.

Not only does he think the GOP shutdown of the government served no purpose (ya think?), but he also expressed his disgust with some in his fellow party members who haven't stood up to Reckless Raffy.

King popped out with this little nugget referring to the repeatedly futile and insane attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act:

King called on GOP leaders to "denounce him by name, say Ted Cruz is ruining the Republican Party." ...

"I actually went and said, 'This is crazy, Cruz is a fraud, he's a false prophet, he's leading us into the valley of death.'"

Raffy's your guy, Republicans, because, hey, he's a "real leader," right? And he's leading you straight down the toidy (of death).

Enjoy!

flush flush again toilet

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VIDEO: "Sen. Gridlock Mitch McConnell can't light the house on fire, then claim credit for putting it out."

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mitch mcconnell lundergan ad

Mitch McConnell first has to win a primary against tea partier Matt Bevin, and if he does, he'll have to beat Alison Lundergan Grimes in order to remain in the Senate.

She's been ahead in the polls recently, in part because of McConnell's involvement in the GOP government shutdown, so poor old McTurtle has his shell hands full.

Don't mess with Alison, Mitch.

gop shutdown lundergan adCheck out her new ad:

Alison for Kentucky:

If you've read anything about Senator Gridlock Mitch McConnell's role in the government shutdown, then this new video from our campaign is a must see.

We won't stop until voters across Kentucky know the truth about Senator McConnell. So please, watch our video and then help us put it on the air and retire Mitch. Join Team Switch: https://secure.actblue.com/contribute...

Together, we will make this campaign a success.

Please donate if you can. If you do, and she wins, that means you will have helped rid the U.S. Senate of Mitch McConnell.

Mitch McConnell gop obstruction gridlock lundergan ad

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He Said, She Said, They Said -- It's All B.S.

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did I say that

Politics is built on rumor and innuendo. Just look at the campaigns for elected office. Then, when someone finally wins, they take office and the mud doesn't stop. Like a Timex, it takes a licking and keeps on ticking.

Now get your scorecards ready. You'll need one for this highly publicized brouhaha.

Ready?

Supposedly Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) reportedly said to President Barack Obama, "I cannot even stand to look at you," during a debt deal meeting between the president and top House Republicans. 

Okay, let's break it down with help from Ashley Alman over at Huffington Post.

1. Obama Meets With House Republicans To Discuss A Debt Deal
Obama meets with 20 House Republicans for a 90-minute meeting on Oct. 10

2. After The Meeting, Sessions Tells CNN He Clashed With The President
Following the meeting, CNN's Dana Bash asks Sessions, "Did you clash with the president? Is that fair to say?"

"I did," he responds.

3. Nabors Tells Democratic Senate Leaders What Happened In The Meeting
White House Deputy Chief of Staff Rob Nabors meets with Senate Democratic leaders and tells them about the supposed Sessions incident,

4. Reid Tells Senate Democrats What Happened
On Tuesday, Oct. 15, Reid relays the story to his Democratic caucusand names Sessions, according to two Democratic senators.

5. Durbin Tells His Facebook Friends What Happened

6. White House Spokesman Jay Carney Throws Durbin Under The Bus
White House Spokesman Jay Carney denies that any Sessions-Obama exchange ever took place.

7. Democratic Senators Tell HuffPost That Reid Told Senators About The Alleged Sessions Incident, Undermining Carney's Denial
Two Democratic Senators confirm to HuffPost that Reid told his caucus about the insult during their Oct. 15 caucus meeting.

8. The White House Says It Was All A Big Misunderstanding
A White House official tells HuffPost the administration did, in fact, tell Reid and other Senate Democratic leaders the story about Sessions, but says there was a miscommunication.

9. Sessions Offers An Awfully Strange Denial
Sessions denies the alleged insult when speaking with reporters on Thursday, saying anyone who may have been within earshot is lying, and anyone who taped the conversation broke protocol.

Pete Sessions

So if you were close enough to hear this alleged insult, you didn't really hear it. But if you have me saying it on tape, you didn't have the right to tape me (...not saying what I evidently did say).

Well, now, there you have it. The offending statement was reported, denied, verified, miscommunication blamed, clarified, denied, verified, and finally sort of denied (at least on a technicality), but not really.

Ain't politics swell?

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Fed Up: Special Comment by my 76-year-old friend

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fed up

My impassioned “72-year-old”  friend (who is now 76, but who’s counting?), who goes by the Twitter name @42bkdodgr, would like to share his feelings of frustration about the state of politics and our dysfunctional Congress. I am more than happy to oblige, especially because I feel the same way.

This rant reminds me of one I did awhile ago: We have no choice. It might be time to revive that one.

Now on to "Fed Up." But first, a personal note from 42bkdodgr:

Many of you may wonder why I chose to use the “72 year old friend” as the introduction to my Special Comments. I selected the moniker so readers could see that from my age and life experiences I give a different perspective to the issues of today.

Now for his Special Comment:

FED UP

Like most Americans, I'm FED UP with the dysfunctional government we have.

I'm FED UP that there is a segment within the Republican caucus that refuses to compromise.

I'm FED UP that Republicans have more loyalty to a pledge they signed with Grover Norquist, to never raise taxes, forgetting the oath they took when sworn into office.

I'm FED UP that Republicans in Congress would rather spend government funds on phony investigations than pass a jobs and infrastructure bill, that would create jobs for millions of people, which would move our economy forward.

I'm FED UP with all the hate and racism that exists in our country.

I'm FED UP that the leaders of the Republican Tea Party don't denounce the use of racist remarks, hateful signs and pictures, displays of the Confederate Flag at rallies they attend in Washington D.C. and in their home states.

I'm FED UP with the disrespect shown President Obama and the office he holds. This has been going on since Joe Wilson yelled "You lie!" during a speech President Obama was giving to a joint session of Congress.

I'm FED UP that, after five years, there are still Americans who don't consider President Obama an American citizen or a Christian.

I'm FED UP with a party that lost a national election in 2012, that tries to use a government shut down and threat of default on national debt to force their ideology on Americans-- which the people had rejected-- and in the process, cost the country $24 billion.

I'm FED UP that a political party felt shutting down the government was a good thing, and brags about it and is threatening to try it again in 2014.

I'm FED UP that there are members in Congress who got elected with the sole intent of destroying the government.

I'm FED UP that the Republican Party is trying to defund and kill the Affordable Care Act, knowing full well it can't be done, in the process wasting more government funds.

I'm FED UP with members of Congress willing to cut funds that help those Americans in need while continuing to provide subsidies to farmers and oil companies, plus they refuse to close tax loop holes that benefit the rich.

I'm FED UP that states have or will enact laws to suppress the voting rights of Americans, when voter fraud doesn't exist in the country.

I'm FED UP that states have passed laws that don't allow women to control their own bodies.

I'm FED UP that the Evangelical Christians wanting to impose their religious ideology on all Americans and want to bring down the wall separating church and state.

I will continue to be FED UP, until these issues are addressed, or we will remain an extremely divided country pulling in different directions.

It's sad thing to say, but we are becoming a government, that unless one party controls Congress and the presidency, the chances of any important legislation getting done is almost nil.

That why it is extremely important for Democrats to vote in 2014 if we want to retain control of the Senate and possibly gain control of the House. Americans better begin to wake up and learn; the foundation of our democracy is being threatened by the radical right and it must be addressed.

Many thanks again for another thorough, relevant piece, @42bkdodgr. You often say what many of us are thinking and feeling, and we thank you for your unique perspective.

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