Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Ideas that Need More Thought: Support the Republican Speaker Nominee or Be "Ostracized"

Apparently some Republicans in the House think it would help Republican unity to "ostracize" all Republicans who don't vote for the majority candidate for Speaker (and other positions?). From Pete Kasperowicz
House Republicans are considering a change to House rules that would force GOP lawmakers to either vote for the new House speaker nominee, or be "ostracized" from the Republican Party and lose all committee assignments. 
Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Fla., said on C-SPAN that the idea behind this possible rule change is to force Republicans to unite around one leader, and end the squabbling that has divided the party for the last few years. 
"There may also be a rule change proposed that says if you don't support the nominee of the conference on the floor of the House, that you will be ostracized, or otherwise removed from the conference, and your committee assignments may be taken away," he said.
The fear is that there will not be 218 votes to elect a Speaker.

Hmm. The Republicans now have 247 members in their caucus. They are afraid of losing 30 in the vote for Speaker. That same 30 means the difference between controlling the House or not.  If you need 30 for a majority, how smart is it to antagonize them? And push them out of your conference?

And what does it do to committee assignments? Do Republicans just give up their members on some committees so they no longer have the majority. Not smart. Or dole out the assignments of the 30 among the 217? As though the current committees are getting necessary work done.

Rep. Ross argues for open process in presenting bills in the House. But he seems not to have the same open process view as regards leadership positions. Sounds like his position needs some fine tuning to be consistent.

See the CSPAN video of the interview with Rep. Ross. About the 27:00 mark is where he talks about the possible rule changes.

H/T Byron York

Monday, October 05, 2015

How You Can Tell Real Conservatives in the Senate

On September 30th the Senate voted to continue funding the federal government at current levels through December 11th. The vote was 78 to 20 with 2 not voting.

Here are the list of Republican Senators currently running for president:

Ted Cruz
Lindsey Graham
Rand Paul
Marco Rubio

Only two senators did not vote. Interestingly they were both Republicans and both running for president: Senators Lindsey Graham and Marco Rubio. Hmm.

The other two Republican senators running for president voted against current funding levels: Senators Ted Cruz and Rand Paul. They backed up their current campaign pledges to cut the federal budget with this vote.

A lot of supposedly conservative Senators not running for president voted for the current budget to be continued. (see list below)

Of course the bill has a title that would lead you to believe it has nothing to do with the budget: H.R. 719 (TSA Office of Inspection Accountability Act of 2015), A bill to require the Transportation Security Administration to conform to existing Federal law and regulations regarding criminal investigator positions, and for other purposes. So much for Congress hiding their votes.

Here are the 20 Republican senators who voted against the bill:

Blunt, Mo.; Boozman, Ark.; Burr, N.C.; Coats, Ind.; Cotton, Ark.; Crapo, Idaho; Cruz, Texas; Heller, Nev.; Inhofe, Okla.; Lankford, Okla.; Lee, Utah; Moran, Kan.; Paul, Ky.; Risch, Idaho; Sasse, Neb.; Scott, S.C.; Sessions, Ala.; Shelby, Ala.; Toomey, Pa.; Vitter, La.

Here are the 32 Republican senators who voted for current funding to be continued:

Alexander, Tenn.; Ayotte, N.H.; Barrasso, Wyo.; Capito, W.V.; Cassidy, La.; Cochran, Miss.; Collins, Maine; Corker, Tenn.; Cornyn, Texas; Daines, Mont.; Enzi, Wyo.; Ernst, Iowa; Fischer, Neb.; Flake, Ariz.; Gardner, Colo.; Grassley, Iowa; Hatch, Utah; Hoeven, N.D.; Isakson, Ga.; Johnson, Wis.; Kirk, Ill.; McCain, Ariz.; McConnell, Ky.; Murkowski, Alaska; Perdue, Ga.; Portman, Ohio; Roberts, Kan.; Rounds, S.D.; Sullivan, Alaska; Thune, S.D.; Tillis, N.C.; Wicker, Miss.

So, of 54 Republicans in the U.S. Senate, 32 voted to continue budget spending as is, 20 voted against the current budget, and 2 didn't vote.

These 32 Republican senators are the same people who in their election campaigns rail against current federal spending that grows the national debt by $1.9 billion per day. So, this vote is a nice little cheat sheet for who stands behind their campaign pledges and votes for fiscal sanity.

When I got an email or regular mail solicitation from one of these asking for my support for their "conservative" agenda, I plan to bring up this vote as my response.

Friday, October 02, 2015

Senate and House Pass Change to Obamacare

From Caitlin Owens of The National Journal:
The Sen­ate quietly passed a bill that would over­turn the Af­ford­able Care Act’s ex­pan­sion of the small-group in­sur­ance mar­ket on Thursday—and it did so with sur­pris­ingly little fan­fare.
The le­gis­la­tion, passed by voice vote, gets rid of the ACA’s re­quire­ment that states in­crease the defin­i­tion of their small-group mar­ket from em­ploy­ers with 50 or few­er em­ploy­ees to 100 or few­er by Jan. 1, 2016. The change would have sub­jec­ted many small and mid­sized busi­nesses to dif­fer­ent rules. Among those was the re­quire­ment for cer­tain es­sen­tial health be­ne­fits to be covered, which is not re­quired in the large-group mar­ket.
The House passed the bill by a voice vote on Monday.
A little common sense from Congress. Let's hope President Obama has enough sense to agree. Bets on whether this will be ignored by the press and not commented on by the President?

H/T Byron York

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Germany Struggling with Prospect of 800,000 Refugees This Year

From the Washington Post:
BERLIN — Bracing for at least 800,000 asylum seekers this year — more than any other nation in Europe — Germany is rolling out one of the region’s largest emergency responses since World War II. Yet as it scrambles to shelter the refugees in tent cities, at sports centers and even on the grounds of a former Nazi labor camp, a nation known for its efficiency is struggling to absorb them.
Outside the main refugee processing center in Berlin, for instance, asylum seekers are caught in a bureaucratic hell. Dozens are camping out on cold sidewalks — some for weeks — as they wait for their numbers to flash on a screen inside to secure temporary housing. But each day, it’s a crapshoot. At closing time on a recent afternoon, hundreds of asylum seekers were left empty-handed, including Ahmed Hamadich, 27, who walked toward his blanket for another night outdoors.
. . .
The national and local governments are racing to hire thousands of new police officers and bureaucrats to manage refugees. Schools, meanwhile, are desperately looking for new teachers to help with an estimated 300,000 new students. Irina Wissmann, principal at Berlin’s An der Bäke Elementary School, said none of the 300 qualified instructors provided to her in a list by city officials were available to work. She said that with 20 new refugee students already and double that number expected by year’s end, she is afraid of surging class sizes as well as issues with traumatized children.

Some ironies here. Germany hasn't helped a whit with problems festering in the Middle East. It has been content to depend on the U.S. paying for its defense*. So, taking responsibility for helping refugees sounds pretty fair.

As for schools, Germany has imprisoned homeschoolerstaken away their children, and is making them refugees. So, refugees and public schools seem to go together for Germany. A few hundred thousand refugee children should test their public schooling mettle.

The stated reason for not allowing homeschooling is to prevent "parallel societies" and "ensure that children learn to live tolerantly with each other."

The 800,000 refugees should be a good trial for their no parallel societies goal--not to mention living tolerantly with each other. And maybe Germany will learn a thing or two about the necessity of getting involved in stopping a crisis before it results in the sort of misery that causes a million refugees. But, that's probably wishing for too much.
*This year Germany is set to spend only 1.16% of its GDP on defense (less than 60% of what NATO asks its member nations to spend). To put that in perspective, in 2007 the U.S. spent 5.2% of its GDP versus Germany's 1.5% of its GDP on military spending. Even for NATO the US provides about 23% of the military funding, Germany less than 17%, Canada only 5%.

H/T Byron York

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Super Moon Eclipse

A super moon. God's super show. I'm thankful I was in the audience (with my new Canon superzoom).

Here's some video. This is the earliest I could get any real image. Before this point in the eclipse (about 8:30 pm) the camera optics couldn't sense an image to video.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Thank You, John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman

John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman (NY Daily News)
This is our third year with MLB.TV. Because the Seattle games are blacked out for TV, we came to know about John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman who do the radio broadcast for the Yankees.

Nothing against the TV broadcasters, but half the fun now is spending time with John and Suzyn. And with baseball that's three to four hours.

They enjoy the game even when the Yankees are playing poorly. Meaning they bring their happiness with them and share it with the listener. I especially like John's chuckles and asides and Suzyn's special interest stories.

There are apparently people out there who don't like John and Suzyn. Each to his own. Some don't like it that John sometimes starts his home run call and then when the ball is foul or is caught he has to correct the call. Or that he amends a double play call. They prefer that he wait and make the call only after it is done. Bosh. When I'm watching baseball, the excitement comes in seeing a ball hit hard and anticipating that it might be a home run or a double play. I don't sit without excitement until after a play is over. And no one in the stadium does either. That's why roars go up at the crack of the bat irrespective of if the ball is caught.

Before the newest version of the MLB media player, I would open up two windows. One with the TV feed and one with the radio feed and turn down the TV feed audio to spend the time with John and Suzyn. The only down side was that the radio feed was anywhere from 10 to 40 seconds ahead of the TV feed. So, I knew what was going to happen before it happened on screen. Thanks to the newest MLB media player one can click the audio feed as an overlay, and they sync it to the video feed. So, I'm even happier.

It's one reason why I keep signing up with MLB.TV.  A hundred and sixty two (3 to 4 hour) games can become a little boring (even though we don't watch them all or the whole game of the ones we do watch). Not with John and Suzyn. They help make the MLB.TV season plan ($129.99) worth every cent of the subscription price.

Other than spending time with my dad at a game, my second favorites are John and Suzyn. They are very nice people who have a talent for making the game fun (even when the Yankees are losing). Thank you, John and Suzyn!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Ben Carson Apologizes to Donald Trump; Trump Doesn't Concur

UPDATE: I think Donald Trump apologized in his own way last night to Carly Fiorina when he said "I think she's got a beautiful face and I think she's a beautiful woman." That showed some character.

Good for Ben Carson for apologizing.
“I said something that sounded like I was questioning his faith. I really wasn’t, I was really talking more about mine,” the former physician told The Wall Street Journal Monday. “But it was said in an inappropriate way, which I recognized and I apologized for that. It’s never my intention to impugn other people.”
However, Donald Trump didn't seem to accept the apology.
Trump on Saturday continued to slam Carson on the faith issue a day after the other candidate had apologized.
"In all fairness, Ben hit me on my faith, and you don’t hit a person on his faith," Trump said. "I don’t know him, he knows nothing about me."
[emphasis added]
Appears like Donald Trump is hitting himself on his faith. Forgiveness is a hard issue for Mr. Trump.
Moderator Frank Luntz asked Trump whether he has ever asked God for forgiveness for his actions.
"I am not sure I have. I just go on and try to do a better job from there. I don't think so," he said. "I think if I do something wrong, I think, I just try and make it right. I don't bring God into that picture. I don't."
Trump said that while he hasn't asked God for forgiveness, he does participate in Holy Communion.
"When I drink my little wine -- which is about the only wine I drink -- and have my little cracker, I guess that is a form of asking for forgiveness, and I do that as often as possible because I feel cleansed," he said. "I think in terms of 'let's go on and let's make it right.'"
Maybe his church isn't very good at teaching the basics of Christianity or Mr. Trump isn't good at listening. In any case, Trump seems never to have said the Lord's prayer or understood the words in it if he has said it. It includes: And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. (Matthew 6:12)