Wednesday, November 28, 2012

RNC autopsy to reveal...

Last night on Piers Morgan Tonight, Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, commented on his party's recent electoral setback, saying "in order to get back in the game, you've got to look at and do a full autopsy of what happened."

I might be able to save Mr. Priebus some time.

When the patient lacks both a heart and a brain, the outcome is pretty predictable.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

A very public thank you

Thank you to the state of North Carolina for providing me with an opportunity to pursue the vocation that I love, for providing my oldest son the opportunity to pursue a high-quality college education, and for funding the school teachers that taught and inspired both of my sons.

Thank you to Guilford County for providing school buildings, school books, teachers, and staff that also helped my children to develop.

Thank you to Greensboro for keeping my house safe and my neighborhood clean.

Thank you to the state of Virginia for providing me with a college education and with mentors who helped set my on the path toward my career. Thank you to the states of Virginia and New Jersey for most of my elementary and secondary education.

Thank you to the United States for employing my father for many, many years and giving my family not only prosperity but also an opportunity to travel throughout the Far East and Pacific. Thank you also for funding the terrific overseas Department of Defense schools that my sisters, brother and I attended. Thank you for your faith and support of many of my research projects. Thank you for making my parents' retirement easier, especially during a time when the economy and their savings were crashing. Finally, thank you for the military cemetery where my parents now rest.

These blessings did not just magically appear but came out of the toil and occasional good fortune of some neighbors I know and many more neighbors I don't. Thank you all.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Gov. Jindal -- "Stop being the stupid party"

Gov. Bobby Jindal yesterday wagged his finger at the rampant anti-intellectualism among his fellow Republicans. Politico reports
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal on Monday called on Republicans to “stop being the stupid party” and make a concerted effort to reach a broader swath of voters with an inclusive economic message that pre-empts efforts to caricature the GOP as the party of the rich.

...“It is no secret we had a number of Republicans damage our brand this year with offensive, bizarre comments — enough of that,” Jindal said. “It’s not going to be the last time anyone says something stupid within our party, but it can’t be tolerated within our party. We’ve also had enough of this dumbed-down conservatism. We need to stop being simplistic, we need to trust the intelligence of the American people and we need to stop insulting the intelligence of the voters.”
Wow, really? Excuse me while I clean up the coffee that just shot out of my nose and onto my keyboard.

This would be the same Gov. Jindal that signed a law in Louisana supporting the teaching of creationism.
"That law" is the Louisiana Science Education Act, which is named for what it is designed to destroy. Jindal signed it last year, clearing the way for creationism to be taught in biology class.

... the voice of reason cuts no ice with Jindal anyway, at least on this issue. He refused to veto the bill last year, ignoring the pleas not only of Satterlie's group, but the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a slew of other learned bodies and even his old genetics professor from Brown University.

The force behind the bill was the Louisiana Family Forum, a group of Christian soldiers that few politicians would wish to cross, given that polls suggest a startlingly high number of Americans refuse to accept that mountains of scientific evidence prove the truth of evolution.

While some politicians might kowtow to the forum out of expediency, Jindal does not appear to be one of them. He actually appears to believe this stuff. Darwin or Genesis? You pays your money and you takes your choice, so far as the Louisiana Science Education Act is concerned.
This would also be the same Gov. Jindal who used his 2009 Republican response to the State of the Union speech to belittle the federal government for allocating money to the U.S. Geological Survey to monitor volcanoes.
While some of the projects in the bill make sense, their legislation is larded with wasteful spending. It includes $300 million to buy new cars for the government. $8 billion for high speed rail projects such as magnetic levitation line from Las Vegas to Disney Land. And $140 million for something called ‘volcano monitoring.’ Instead of monitoring volcanoes, what Congress should be monitoring is the eruption of spending in Washington, DC.
And he's now criticizing Republicans for "being the stupid party."

Gov. Jindal has made a career of talking down to voters. It's a mark of his contempt for voters that he expects them to forget this now.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Questionable squared--your tax dollars at work

Rep. Darrel Issa used tax dollars to produce the following video, which was released just a few days before the election.

Without a doubt, the irony of the questionable use of tax dollars to call attention in a questionable use of tax dollars is lost on the congressman.

Let's hope that the House Ethics Committee brings this irony to his attention.

Republican mandate?

Rep. John Boehner claimed on election night that the reelection of a Republican House majority told him that there is "no mandate for raising taxes."

Sen. Mitch McConnell also claimed that Republican voters delivered a mandate for the President (not Republicans) to change course, remarking "Now it’s time for the President to propose solutions that actually have a chance of passing the Republican-controlled House of Representatives and a closely-divided Senate, step up to the plate on the challenges of the moment, and deliver in a way that he did not in his first four years in office."

ThinkProgress, however, notes an interesting issue regarding the Republican House of Representatives.
Although a small number of ballots remain to be counted, as of this writing, votes for a Democratic candidate for the House of Representatives outweigh votes for Republican candidates. Based on ThinkProgress’ review of all ballots counted so far, 53,952,240 votes were cast for a Democratic candidate for the House and only 53,402,643 were cast for a Republican — meaning that Democratic votes exceed Republican votes by more than half a million.

...The actual partisan breakdown of the 113th Congress will be very different, however. Currently, Republicans enjoy a 233-192 advantage over Democrats, with 10 seats remaining undecided. That means that, in a year when Republicans earned less than half the popular vote, they will control a little under 54 percent of the House even if Democrats run the table on the undecided seats.
Imagine, as looked possible last week, that President Obama had won reelection through an electoral vote victory but a popular vote loss of 590,000. What would Republicans be saying about his "mandate?"

Also, how does the Senate get to be "closely-divided" when Democrats and independents who caucus with the Democrats have 55 percent of the seats while the House is "Republican-controlled" with a similar majority of 55 percent of the seats?

Divided government is a reality, but it's hard to see much of a strong "mandate" for a party that represents a minority of Americans.

An additional lesson here is that non-partisan redistricting reform is sorely needed throughout the country.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The tide has changed for gay marriage

The tide has changed for LGBT civil rights.

In three historic votes, citizens in Maine, Maryland, and Washington approved measures that sanctioned same-sex marriage. In another vote, Minnesotans rejected a Constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

Same-sex marriage is currently legal in Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and Vermont. However, in each of those areas, the recognition of same-sex marriages came from either courts or elected officials. Yesterday's vote marks the first time that same-sex marriages were recognized through popular referenda. It also marks only the second time that restrictions on same-sex marriage were rejected by voters.

In another milestone for LGBT acceptance, U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin became the first openly gay person to be elected to the U.S. Senate.

The struggle for LGBT civil rights is far from over, but the momentum toward equality is now undeniable.

Friday, November 2, 2012

President Obama -- net job creator

This month's federal jobs report makes it official--President Obama gets to claim the mantle of being a net job creator.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimated that the U.S. added 171,000 non-farm payroll jobs on a seasonally-adjusted basis in October. The BLS also revised the payroll jobs growth in August upward by 50,000 and revised job growth in September upward by 34,000, meaning that the October jobs estimate is roughly a quarter of a million jobs higher than last month's estimate. With these additions, the estimated number of payroll jobs stands at 133.8 million compared to 133.6 million when President Obama took office. When the BLS estimates are revised and re-benchmarked early next year, job growth is likely to be higher by another 300,000 to 400,000 positions.

The net addition of 200,000 to 600,000 jobs might seem modest, but it sure beats the 300,000 jobs that the previous Republican administration lost over the same period of its first term and the hundreds of thousands of jobs that were being vaporized at the end of its second term.

The job growth during the Obama administration is even more remarkable given the decline in public sector employment. Over the Obama administration, there has been almost no net growth in federal government jobs (there were 2.79 million federal workers when the President took office, and there are 2.80 million now), and there have been considerable losses in state and local government employment (113,000 fewer state employees and 466,000 fewer local government employees). Over the same period of the previous administration, just over 800,000 public-sector jobs were added.

The Romney campaign is already seizing on the other figure from the jobs report--that the unemployment rate ticked up from 7.8 percent on a seasonally-adjusted basis in September to 7.9 percent in October. But even this figure carries good news, as the increase is due to a jump in people looking for work. From September to October, the proportion of the adult, civilian population that was in the labor force (working or looking for work) increased from 63.6 percent to 63.8 percent, and the proportion of the population that was employed increased from 58.7 percent to 58.8 percent. Another sign of growing confidence in the economy is that the number of people who are unemployed because they voluntarily left their jobs increased in October.