Archive for the ‘2015’ Category

Democratic Primary: Battle between the Left and the Main Stream

Wednesday, February 10th, 2016

la-et-ct-cnn-ratings-20151014-003The Democratic primary has become a hotly contested race as Bernie Sanders gives Hillary Clinton real competition in a race between the dreamers who wants to move quickly ahead and doers who want to stay the course.

One major divide has emerged between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton between the idealistic voices in the party, with Liberals and Progressives viewing Sanders as a lightening rod for rethinking traditional politics and policies and those Traditionalists who prefer the approach of governing by pursing practical, achievable goals backing Clinton.

Sanders is getting the support from liberal Democrats while centrists Democrats prefer Clinton.

The battle lines over the party are clearly being drawn. Groups like the Nation and MoveOn want to accomplish policy goals that press for broader political reform. They are intentionally not “part of the system that backs Clinton” and often criticize Democrats who are.

“He has summoned the people to a ‘political revolution,’ arguing that the changes our country so desperately needs can only happen when we wrest our democracy from the corrupt grip of Wall Street bankers and billionaires,” the Nation’s editors wrote this week in embracing Sanders. “We believe such a revolution is not only possible but necessary—and that’s why we’re endorsing Bernie Sanders for president.”

Clinton, the magazine declared, would be limited by her traditional goals of “seeking common ground with Republicans and making deals to ‘get things done’ in Washington.”

Both candidates are aware of a divide in the party, and both candidates are taking steps not to alienate the other’s coalition. Sanders increasingly refers to polls that show him leading in potential match-ups against Donald Trump and other Republican candidates, an appeal to the Democrats who care most about keeping the White House.

Polls suggested after the caucus and primary in Iowa and New Hampshire, where Clinton and Sanders had campaigned extensively, the candidates are unlikely to change voter perceptions of Sanders as the activist and Clinton the experienced statesman.

After Sanders fought to a virtual tie in Iowa and won impressively in New Hampshire, last night, this divide could become an interesting test with minority voters.

Clinton has the backing of many influential African-American political leaders, from state representatives and mayors to major figures. This fact mirrors Clinton’s strong support among whites in the political establishment.

Are African-Americans open to rethinking their position in American politics? The status quo has resulted in blacks having disproportionately low levels of wealth and power. Sanders’ proposal for dramatic changes in U.S. economic policy mirrors how the Black Lives Matter movement is seeking to disrupt racial politics and the status quo.

Clinton currently has a huge lead among minority voters overall in the south and in South Carolina, the first primary that will have a large percentage of black voters.

Polls in South Carolina shifted dramatically in 2008, once Obama won Iowa and proved he was viable. Can the same happen with Bernie Sanders? After all, his message mirrors those of Jessie Jackson and President Obama during their runs, gaining huge black support. Or will the Clinton machine roll once it enters into the south?

Regardless, the Democratic Primary has become very exciting as enthusiastic young people flock to Sander’s message as while the party base embraces Clinton.

Democratic Debate: The Adults Take the Stage

Thursday, October 15th, 2015

15.3 million Americans watched the adults take the stage in the first Democratic debate. Unlike the previous two Republican debates, the five Democratic candidates actually discussed issues and policies. There were no cruel personal attacks or attacks against women and immigrants. They did not call each other liars or make fun of each other’s looks. Who won the debate? The American people won because important issues were discussed.

Hillary Clinton showed a powerful performance. Bernie Sanders also scored points and performed well. Clinton landed strong punches on her opponents. She reminded O’Malley of his past support for her while scoffing at Bernie’s call for revolution and assailing him for being soft on guns. The debate may have solidified Clinton as a front runner but Bernie touted raising over 2 million dollars since last night’s debate.

There is glaring differences between the two parties. While the Republicans face growing divisions, Democrats have few divisions. They may have differences on how to achieve their goals, but they agree on many principles: They want to expand the social safety net, raise taxes on the wealthy, reduce mass incarcerations and use common sense to regulate guns. They also want to fight climate change and expand access to higher education.

The high point was when Bernie Sanders noted that the American people were damn tired of hearing about Hillary’s emails. They want the candidates to discuss the important issues that face the middle class.

So who won the debate? Clinton is the clear frontrunner and most polished candidate on stage but Bernie Sanders has popular star power. It is now clear to see why Republicans created the special tribunal (Benghazi Hearings) to attack her and tear down her high ratings: they fear her and have good reason to do so!

The TeaParty Giveth and Taketh Away

Friday, September 25th, 2015

Speaker John A. Boehner, who rode a conservative wave to one of the highest positions in government, said today that he would resign from Congress at the end of October, undone by the very Republicans Teabaggers who swept him into power.

His rise and fall are noted in the following timeline:

Feb 2012 – He was swept into power on the Tea Party wave of 2010, the new speaker is immediately confronted by his powerful right flank with H.R. 1, the first bill of the new Republican House, which tries and fails to defund Planned Parenthood.

Jul 2012 – Pressed by conservatives, John Boehner dug in against raising the government’s statutory borrowing limit, risking a potentially catastrophic default on the federal debt. The White House blinked and signed the Budget Control Act establishing a “super committee” to slash the federal deficit, with strict spending caps set by law if the committee failed. The committee did fail and the Sequester was born. This is the only real victory can claim against President Obama but time has proven the Sequester is no victory for the country.

Dec 2012 – With all of President George W. Bush’s tax cuts set to expire on Jan. 1, John Boehner faced a major predicament. Most Republicans were elected on a pledge not to raise any taxes. President Obama had vowed to raise taxes on the rich. If they all did nothing, taxes would go up for virtually everyone. Mr. Boehner lost to President Obama and taxes went up on incomes over $400,000.

Oct 2013 – With the federal government set to run out of money, conservatives demanded on defunding the Affordable Care Act. He knew a shutdown would hurt the GOP politically but he could not avoid it. The government shut down on Oct. 1 for 16 days, until Republicans caved in to pressure and negative PR. Once again, President Obama won.

Feb 2015 – Conservatives once again forced the Speaker to stand their ground on continued funding for the Department of Homeland Security, demanding that any funds be tied to stopping Mr. Obama’s executive actions on immigration. Again, Mr. Boehner faced a threat on his speakership. Again, President Obama prevailed.

Sep 2015 – With the end of the fiscal year approaching, conservatives are again demanding that Planned Parenthood be defunded and the Teabaggers are prepared to shut down the government. John Boehner knew that a bill to fund the government beyond Sept. 30 would pass with Democratic votes, but conservatives said such a vote would end his speakership.

Sep 25, 2015 – One day after Pope Francis addressed a joint session of congress, an invitation from the speaker, John Boehner announced his resignation. He said he wanted to resign last year but when Eric Cantor was defeated by the Teabaggers, he said he decided to stay on for one more year.

Minority Speaker, Nancy Pelosi called Boehner’s resignation “a stark indication of the disarray of the House Republicans.”

Teabaggers claimed credit and victory for the Boehner’s resignation.Dont Laugh at ME

Koch Political Industries: The GOP’s Shadow Party

Saturday, September 19th, 2015

ImageProxyiiiThe Koch brothers have poured millions of dollars into controlling the turnout in state elections and they have gained control of a political party in the process.

They have also expanded their activities in the area of messaging, polling, medial buying, election law and their political operation exceeds that of the Republican National Committee (RNC) in many important areas.

They also control several for-profit companies and their party infrastructure funds and controls Americans for Prosperity, youth voter outreach groups and a Latino outreach group in several states. This gives Republicans. in Koch controlled states, support of two parties [the RNC and the Koch shadow party]. This unholy alliance has allowed the Koch brothers to buy legislatures in many states including Tennessee. As the acquire state legislatures they impose laws crafted by ALEC.

This is what Democracy faces in America. The sad news is elections are now bought and sold by the Koch bothers [dark money]. They have bought legislatures and congressman but can they buy the presidency?

Unicoi County Democratic Party “Make it Blue” Fundraiser

Thursday, September 17th, 2015

Erwin – The Unicoi County Democratic Party will kick off the 2016 Presidential Campaign with a “Make it Blue” Fundraiser. The event will occur on Saturday, October 17, 2015, 11:00 am at Erwin Town Hall. The luncheon will include a menu of Chicago Dogs, homemade Chili and Apple Cobbler. The event will include a silent auction of homemade cooked cakes and pies and quality items.

The cost of tickets is $10.00 and tickets will be sold at the door. Half of the proceeds will be donated to the Democrat Resource Center in Johnson City, TN. Representatives of the Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sander’s Campaigns will provide those in attendance with information on area events for both candidates.

Bernie Sanders Visits Liberty University

Thursday, September 17th, 2015

Bernie Sanders, who’s been rallying liberal Democrats on the presidential campaign trail, spoke Monday morning in an unlikely setting: Liberty University, a longtime haven for conservative Republican Evangelicals, and the University created by Jerry Falwell. But things are changing and there are signs of some shifts in how young Evangelicals are viewing important issues. Bernie made genuine attempts to touch the moral conscious of the predominately young crowd.

He was honest and open in his speech. This was a student body that appears to have diversified somewhat in recent years, with some students reportedly supporting causes that aren’t traditionally associated with Republicans.

Sanders’s courting of young and more liberal-minded Evangelicals was an unusual move but Bernie Sanders has drawn large crowd in all regions of the United States. But his presence at Liberty shines a light on an evolving voting bloc that is perhaps more open to his message of income inequality and social justice than in the past. More importantly, Mr. Sanders made an effort to tread in unfamiliar territory, something few politicians rarely do. More importantly, it was even more unusual to hear a liberal challenge the moral consciousness of young Evangelicals.

Listen to the full speech here.

Supreme Court Upholds ObamaCare Subsidies

Thursday, June 25th, 2015

logoRev1Washington – A few hours ago, the Supreme Court upheld a key provision of Obamacare. In a 6-3 ruling, millions of Americans will continue to receive tax subsidies that basically allows them to afford health care. Opponents attempted to kill ObamaCare by dismantling a key provision that allows consumers to receive subsides. This is a major victory for President Obama and the American people. Americans will continue to be able to purchase affordable health care for themselves and their families.

After 50 votes, two Supreme Court rulings and the 2012 elections, a reasonable person would say it is time to move forward and work for the American people. But, Republican candidates for president are already making false and empty claims to continue the war against ObamaCare. New poll numbers show that the lies are beginning to loose its deceptive power to deceive as a growing majority of Americans support ObamaCare.

It is obvious that ObamaCare is working and lowering health care cost. As the truth continues to be exposed on the facts of ObamaCare, support for the idea will only grow.

Clinton Calls Out GOP on Voter Suppression

Friday, June 5th, 2015

559953_545779358786752_100427983_nTexas – Yesterday, in a major speech on voting rights, Hillary Clinton denounced Republican efforts on voter suppression. She laid out a far-reaching vision for expanding access to the ballot box for all Americans.

Clinton, the clear front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, talked about voter suppression and called out by name several of her potential 2016 rivals for taking actions that restricted voter participation. She discussed Jeb Bush, Rick Perry, Scott Walker, and Chris Christie and their supporting/imposing restrictive voting policies. She said, “Republicans should stop fearmongering about a phantom epidemic of voter fraud.”

As demographic trends have shifted toward an increase in Democratic voting, Republican voter suppression tactics have increased in an effort to slow it down and/or stop it. Republicans have a long history of voter suppression tactics. As dark money bought elections putting Republicans in charge of state legislations, and in the face of losing five of the last six majorities in presidential elections, Republicans have used these victories to impose a variety of voter suppression laws.

Speaking at Texas Southern University in Houston, Clinton called for every American to be automatically registered to vote when they turn 18. She also backs a nationwide standard of at least 20 days of early voting. She urged Congress to pass legislation strengthening the Voting Rights Act, which was gravely weakened by a 2013 Supreme Court ruling. And she slammed restrictive voter suppression laws imposed by the GOP in North Carolina, Ohio, and Wisconsin, Texas, and Ohio.

Hillary said, “We have a responsibility to say clearly and directly what’s really going on in our country, because what is happening is a sweeping effort to dis-empower and disenfranchise people of color, poor people, and young people from one end of our country to the other.”
She continued by saying, “What is happening is a sweeping effort to dis-empower and disenfranchise people of color, poor people, and young people from one end of our country to the other.” Hillary Clinton put the GOP on notice that further efforts to make voter suppression will be used to motivate Democrats and increase Democratic turnout.

She is the first presidential candidate to discuss in detail the massive voter suppression/discrimination that has surged in “red” states since the Voting Rights Act was gutted in 2013.

Noting that approximately one third of all Americans aren’t registered to vote, Clinton called for sweeping modernization of the registration process – universal automatic voter registration, in which every citizen is automatically registered when they turn 18. Oregon passed such a law earlier this year, and several other states, including California, are considering doing the same.

Clinton said she believed, “this would have a profound impact on our elections and our democracy.”

She also called for 20 days of nationwide early voting; including evening and weekend voting should be implemented to help those who work or have family commitments.

North Carolina, Wisconsin, and Ohio [all Republican-controlled states] have cut their early voting periods, North Carolina and Ohio have also eliminated same-day voter registration. And a third of all states (most in the south) offer no early voting at all.

Clinton also bashed the Supreme Court for weakening the Voting Rights Act. She said, “We need a Supreme Court that cares more about protecting the right to vote of a person to vote than the right of a corporation to buy an election,”

Voting is the cornerstone of our nation’s democracy and voter suppression laws by Republicans are dismantling our nation’s democracy.

The Battle Over Insure Tennessee

Saturday, May 30th, 2015

The battle over Insure Tennessee wages on and a series of interesting revelations have been uncovered since Governor Haslam unveiled his Insure Tennessee Plan.

In February, records were provided that showed Republicans voting against Haslam’s Insure Tennessee were themselves on the state health plan, which funds 80 percent of employee premiums. These Senators were Health Committee Chairman Rusty, Mike Bell, Sen. Brian Kelsey, Sen. Frank Niceley, and Sen. Kerry Roberts.

In April, the Tennessean continued its investigation of Insure Tennessee and laid out the financial losses to Tennessee because of Republican political games.

If the Tennessee General Assembly had passed the Insure Tennessee plan to extend insurance coverage to the working poor, about $3.1 million would have been spent daily in Tennessee doctor’s offices, pharmacies and hospitals.

Instead, today, thousands of sick Tennesseans do without care or visit emergency rooms at the expense to Tennessee taxpayers. To date, an estimated 800 Tennesseans have died awaiting Health Care Coverage since Tennessee was eligible for ObamaCare coverage.

The Insure Tennessee plan proposed by Haslam, and rejected by a fearful legislature with virtually no debate, would have been one of the best economic stimulus programs for small towns and rural communities in this state.

A University of Tennessee Center for Business and Economic Research study released in January “estimated that the average person who enrolled in Insure Tennessee would “spend” about $5,700 each year on health care and that 200,000 Tennesseans would enroll in the various plans proposed by the governor to help the working poor who make too much for Medicaid insurance and not enough to qualify for the subsidies offered on the federal health insurance exchange”.

The study also projected that expanded insurance coverage would bring about $1.14 billion of spending into the state from the federal funds earmarked for Medicaid expansion when Congress passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act or Obamacare.

The spending generated from Insure Tennessee would create an economic boom, creating or maintaining about 15,000 jobs, mostly in our rural counties, where the bulk of those eligible live. The $1.14 billion would mostly flow into the paychecks of Tennesseans, adding over $900 million to their income.

Most of that $900 million would be spent in local businesses. And so on … get the picture. Obviously, Republican hatred of President Obama trumped any chances of economic boom for Tennessee. Their fear of being primaried by fellow wing-nuts also trumped economic benefit to Tennessee.

The opposite of an economic boom is what our legislator’s want, a vicious cycle of delaying health care until it becomes a crisis, or an act of charity, and/or paid for by the rest of us. The decision of our legislature has created a living on the edge mentality where financial disaster and ruin, for many, is a simple accident away from destroying a Tennessee family.

It is hard to recall a time when the General Assembly has so ignored the wishes of a business and Tennesseans. A recent Vanderbilt poll showed two out three Tennesseans want/support Insure Tennessee.

Early this month the Tennessee Legislature got excited when the Tennessean exposed the fact that many of the same folks who voted to deny poor Tennesseans health care coverage, are covered by health care, on the backs of Tennessee taxpayers.

Taxpayers have paid almost 6 million for health care for these hypocrites since 2008. Several lawmakers tried to stop the release of how much money the state spends on their individual health premiums. They argued the release of the information would violate privacy laws.
While Republicans have fought to keep expenditures on their health care private, Democrats have been supportive of the release.

“It is the ultimate in hypocrisy,” said state Rep. Mike Stewart, D-Nashville, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus who is enrolled in the health plan. “To refuse to provide for the working poor of Tennessee, while trying to keep the insurance benefits they receive a secret illustrates their [Republicans] contempt for Tennesseans.”

PREMIUM COSTS

Lawmaker – Years on Plan – Lawmakers Contribution – Taxpayer Contribution
Sen. Rusty Crowe – 1992-2015 – $48,162.32 – $202,730.79
Rep. Beth Harwell – 1992-2015 – $49,242.94 – $198,134.99
Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey – 1993-2015 – $44,924.74 – $187,796.77

NOTE: Records only go back to 1992. They may have received coverage for a longer period.

As revelations related to Insure Tennessee have been unveiled, activists across the state have taken action to pressure legislatures to support Insure Tennessee. In NETN, activists have purchased ½ page ads in various area newspapers designed to put pressure on Rusty Crowe and Ron Ramsey. This same group of activists engineered a town hall meeting that focused on Medicaid expansion and Insure Tennessee. Over two hundred folks packed Munsey Memorial United Methodist Church in Johnson City in the Town Hall meeting.

The meeting was filled with questions mostly aimed at Rusty Crowe. Why would the legislature vote against a plan that would not cost Tennessee taxpayers a single penny while providing 300,000 Tennesseans with health care? Why don’t working people in Tennessee have health care? Those in attendance hammered Rusty Crowe with those and other questions. Petitions were being signed after the meeting was over.

Tennesseans would prefer their elected representatives act like leaders and support the will of the majority and the best interest for Tennessee. And maybe stand up for what is right; instead of trying to protect their chances in a primary election challenge by a wing-nut. When it comes to the Tennessean legislature doing their job, they prefer to do nothing and blame it on Obama, unless it is one of the wealthy friends or lobbyists who demands special consideration. They will waste a whole week with legislation designed to pander to folks like the NRA.

Freedom Tower Tours Begin Today

Friday, May 29th, 2015

11193440_10207001524225056_1573255773319261096_nNew York – Today, fourteen years after the tragedy of 9-11, the Observatory tours atop of the Freedom tower begin. Tickets are $32 for adults. The panoramic views of New York City are breath taking. Some views can be seen here.

The Ground Zero memorial is a must see but difficult to view without tearing up. Feelings of visitors are still raw with emotions. The Freedom Tower is beautiful and an appropriate response to the tragedy of 9-11. Word of warning, don’t visit hungry, some food vendors are charging $30 for a hotdog and coke. A camera is a must.

I visited Ground Zero on the one year anniversary of 9-11. Photos of those lost and memorials were still in tack. It was the saddest thing I have ever seen. I visited Ground Zero for a second time this month on May 2-8. The memorial and Freedom Tower are impressive but sad.

Everyone should visit this site when they visit New York, you will never forget it.