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Obama Calls Out Obnoxious Boyfriend of Nearby Voter: He Is A Fool

October 21, 2014

I don’t always like the President’s approach toward women; however, it seems that as his daughters have gotten older, he is starting to understand that equality for women is something for which he is responsible, too.

Huffington Post reports that when a woman’s boyfriend told Barack not to touch his girlfriend, is what is surely a kinky scenario, like the voting booth (for real), Obama told the man that he was just acting to embarrass the woman:

According to CNN, Obama stood next to Aia Cooper as he voted in Chicago. While the two were voting, Cooper’s fiancé Mike Jones warned the president: “Don’t touch my girlfriend.”

“You know, I really wasn’t planning on it,” Obama replied.

Cooper, clearly embarrassed, apologized to the president, saying, “Please excuse him.” But Obama called out Cooper’s fiancé, calling him “an example of a brother just embarrassing you for no reason, just for no reason whatsoever.”

Obama told Cooper she’d go home to tell her friends and family, “I can’t believe Mike, he’s such a fool.”

“He really is,” Cooper agreed, laughing.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how it’s done.

 

Human Beings Can Be Inspirational: Perth Train Dance Party

October 14, 2014

I found this on Huffington Post, and sometimes you just watch something that makes you laugh out loud. This is one of those videos. I want to be on the dancing train! How about you?

2013 Baby and Animals Cute Version

October 13, 2014

Something to lift your Monday. Those Mondays just don’t seem to go away…

 

Tea Party Governors Struggling With Their Austerity Budgets and Re-Election: Is There A Tea Party Governor Whose Budgets Have Escaped Federal Investigations?

October 9, 2014

The tea party incumbents were jubilant, arrogant, and one might even say, narcissistic. They promised that if we just cut education funding and welfare, all the big businesses would take over and stimulate growth. Get rid of all of that government interference, namely education and support for the low income, to funnel money into tax cuts for the business model–let the worship at the altar of big business provide unlimited returns. Except, the promised returns never showed. In the states that instituted big cuts, the economy has stalled, their deficits have grown and their gods of the box stores have failed to provide.

Four years later, most of these states are struggling. In Kansas, the budget ishemorrhaging revenue.Both Moody’s and S&P have downgraded the state’s bond rating. And since Brownback’s cuts took effect, job growth in Kansas has lagged behind the national level and all but one of its neighboring states.

Wisconsin is in a similar bind, ranking 35th in job growth during the first three years of Walker’s term, and dead last among its immediate neighbors, including Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan and Ohio. And now the state is facing a new $1.8 billion deficit in the 2015-17 budget “because of tax cuts enacted by Walker and lawmakers and lagging growth in other state taxes.”

Back east, the situation is the same. Forbes recently named Maine the worst state in the country for business, noting that “job growth projections are the worst in the U.S and only Vermont is expected to have slower household income growth over the next five years.” And Pennsylvania isn’t faring much better. The Keystone State ranks 42nd in job growth over the past 12 months — and 49th since the beginning of Corbett’s term.

Seems like the only state to survive the tea party incumbent was the one who disowned the tea party after he was elected:

Only Florida’s economy seems to be outperforming America’s as a whole, growing by 2.2 percent in 2013 vs.1.9 percent nationwide (after seven years of below-average numbers). But then, Scott is the only member of the class of 2010 who shed the tea party ties of his first yearafter polls showed him losing re-election by wide margins, recasting himself as “a pro-education champion of higher teacher salaries” and promising to restore some of his earlier environmental cuts. Last June he signed the largest budget in Florida’s history.

So why is it that budget cuts for education don’t work to balance a budget? Sounds good to punish poor people for not working, but then if there is no education, how do we get poor people into better paying jobs? Cutting education benefits apparently harms a state’s economy, because the jobs that are available to the undereducated just don’t produce enough income or a taxable base than can support the government. Consider the fact that the pay scale for low-paying jobs has been stuck since 1973. Or the fact that education cuts mean more low-paying jobs.

Half the jobs in the nation pay less than $34,000 a year, according to the Economic Policy Institute. A quarter pay below the poverty line for a family of four, less than $23,000 annually. Families that can send another adult to work have done better, but single mothers (and fathers) don’t have that option. Poverty among families with children headed by single mothers exceeds 40 percent.

Wages for those who work on jobs in the bottom half have been stuck since 1973, increasing just 7 percent.

It’s not just single parenthood that is the problem but the fact that education cuts mean low paying jobs for the poverty-stricken.

Rand Paul, a conservative cheerleader for disempowering the poor says that we just need to compare poverty to a Third World country to see how much better poor Americans fare:

Anyone who wishes to equate poverty with death must go to the Third World or seek out socialism and tyranny. Where you find command economies, you will find death and starvation. In contrast, those who wish to see death from poverty in our country are blind to the truth. While we all hope to lessen the sting of poverty, we need to put poverty in America into context.

Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation has profiled the typical poor household in America. The average poor household has a car, air conditioning, two color televisions, cable or satellite TV, a DVD player, and an Xbox. Its home is in good repair and bigger than the average (non-poor) European home. They report that in the past year they were not hungry, were able to obtain medical care as necessary, and could afford all essential needs.

There! See all you have! You don’t live like a Third World country inhabitant, so aren’t you happy? Ah, yes, there is some mythical poor family in America that has all of these possessions in good repair. I live in the second poorest county in my state and know of no family who lives like this. I didn’t know of any when I lived in Malden, MA either. But wait for it, there should be a blame game coming, some instance where Rand Paul blames the poor for being poor without talking about budget cuts to education or veterans. I will look…

Here it is! Basically the poor are fat slobs who should be grateful they aren’t starving in Somalia. It’s all behavioral, or otherwise attributed solely to someone’s actions or lack of actions or participating in the seven deadly sins (moralistic lesson surely to follow from Rand Paul):

To the extent that poverty impacts health, much of it can be attributed to behavioral factors. Over 30 percent of those living below the poverty smoke, compared with 19 percent of the rest of the population. Obesity rates are significantly higher among the poor than the general population, an unimaginable problem for those starving in North Korea or Somalia.

They smoke and are fat, nothing to do with education cuts, which make them poor.

Part of the problem is that conservatives like Rand Paul seem to be working with a different set of facts than the ones that state that low paying job wages haven’t grown since 1973. Rand Paul paints a picture of wealth, of poverty as a transient state:

We also need to understand that poverty is not a state of permanence. When you look at people in the bottom fifth of the economic ladder, only 5 percent are still there 16 years later. In a University of Michigan study of 50,000 families, 75 percent of the bottom fifth make their way up to the two highest quintiles. The rich are getting richer but the poor are getting richer even faster. U.S. Treasury statistics show that 86 percent of the bottom 20 percent on the economic ladder moved to a higher quintile.

Oh yes, he wrote that, our great and powerful Rand Paul behind the curtain. Rand Paul refuses to face the idea that cutting taxes just lowers revenue. Our government relies on taxes to support it. Cutting Medicaid or welfare doesn’t mean that people like Rand Paul got a pay cut. Senators are paid. So is the President of the United States. So are the Representatives, and so are the janitors, contractors, cooks, assistants and more. The government has a huge salary to pay, but cutting welfare can’t balance the government salary.

To summarize, the state closed a roughly $3 billion shortfall in Walker’s first budget, is now a little out of balance in his second budget — the current one — and is expected to face a shortfall in the next budget that is about half the size of the initial one.

To close that first shortfall, Walker lowered state aid to schools and local governments, and then covered most of that lost money by cutting the benefits and take-home pay of teachers, state workers and other public employees. Labor groups organized massive protests against those measures, which included a repeal of most union bargaining power for most public employees.

Walker and GOP lawmakers also reduced income and property taxes across the board in the state, along with other tax cuts for businesses such as nearly eliminating all income taxes for manufacturers in the state.

Walker’s administration is expected to provide a fuller picture of where the overall budget stands in an Oct. 15 report.

For now, the fiscal bureau said it expects a ripple effect into the future from an unexpected dip in state tax collections over the past year.

The challenge of a slow growth rate in the early year of a budget is the same for the state as it is for any worker given a low starting salary — it provides a small base that can hinder income growth in future years. For instance, a 2% raise comes to $400 for a worker with a $20,000 salary but adds up to $600 for a worker making $30,000 a year.

Another challenge is that there was relatively little cushion built into the current state budget — like most of the previous ones drawn up by both Democrats and Republicans over the past 20 years. That leaves Wisconsin vulnerable to gusts of unexpected economic winds.

The problem for Republican governors like Walker is that by cutting taxes to businesses, they cut the state’s biggest revenue producers. Businesses aren’t in the practice of handing out money to the government where it isn’t required, and businesses didn’t respond to governmental generosity by raising wages. Businesses just made more money, period, and the government lost out on that money.

Supporting education directly impacts the future workers in a state’s economy. According to recent research, a good number of high school drop outs left school to get a job, a direct indication that cuts to those most at risk directly impact the future work pool in a state:

Combating poverty with initiatives to lower high school dropout rates is also an essential ingredient, according to John Bridgeland in his article, “Fight Poverty: Lower High School Dropout Rates.” Without high school completion, young people experience higher unemployment rates and rates of receiving public assistance, going to prison, divorcing, and becoming single parents—all catalysts for a life and community plagued by poverty. Poverty is cyclical, yet academic options specifically designed to meet the unique needs of these low-income individuals can break the treacherous cycle.

For example, in Bridgeland’s co-authored report, “The Silent Epidemic: Perspectives of High School Dropouts,” nearly one-third of interviewed students said that they left high school to make money at a job and support their families. Family demands, along with lacking support, resources and options, inflate the number of dropouts who are more likely to work at low-income jobs and stay in an impoverished way of life.

Unfortunately, not many people like Rand Paul or Scott Walker want to acknowledge that taking away support for schools eliminates a future tax base. It’s an economic policy akin to cutting off a nose to save a face. Thinking that nothing will affect the current economy outside the now is not economic management, it’s emergency management that doesn’t plan for long term growth, hence the reason that the tea party politickers or bootlickers aren’t performing well in the polls.

Scott Walker has been a walking scandal since he was elected. He can’t muster enough support anywhere to seem to make it through the next election:

Seen through this lens, a pattern starts to emerge. Wisconsin’s Scott Waker is frequently talked up by RNC types as a leading 2016 contender, but he’sfighting for his political life at home, beset by a tsunami of scandals and running neck and neck with Mary Burke. Walker’s most-favored Midwestern governor status in D.C. is in trouble despite a misguided arrogance born of his surviving a recall attempt. His efforts to rein in the public sector unions have been successful, but his style and tone—and did I mention scandals—could make him an unexpected loser on Election Night.

Tea Party style politics Scott Walker style include funneling money to himself to help survive a recall election and then lying about it, prompting special investigations regarding his campaign financing faux pas to the tune of $700,000.

The disclosure of the secret fundraising operation occurred in court documents that were unsealed for a short time Friday. The 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals made the documents public as part of ongoing litigation over a probe into Walker’s campaign, the Wisconsin Club for Growth and other conservative groups.

The appeals court is considering whether to reverse a lower court’s ruling to halt the investigation, which was started in 2012 by Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm.

The brief release of a 24-page document filed by the attorney for Francis Schmitz, the special prosecutor appointed to lead the John Doe probe, contained detailed information about how investigators believed Walker solicited funds for Wisconsin Club for Growth. An attorney for Schmitz has said that Walker is not a target of the investigation.

The document was supposed to have remained under seal but was mistakenly released, according to Andrew Grossman, an attorney for the Wisconsin Club for Growth. Among the documents released were several emails laying out the governor’s role in raising funds for the pro-Walker group.

“The Governor is encouraging all to invest in the Wisconsin Club for Growth,” said an April 28, 2011, email from Kate Doner, a Walker campaign consultant, to R.J. Johnson, an adviser to Walker’s campaign and the advocacy group. “Wisconsin Club for Growth can accept corporate and personal donations without limitations and no donors disclosure.”

In the email, Doner wrote to Johnson that Walker wanted Wisconsin Club for Growth exclusively to coordinate campaign themes. “As the Governor discussed… he wants all the issue advocacy efforts run thru one group to ensure correct messaging,” she wrote.

Wisconsin Club for Growth has a large base in a mining company, which then benefitted from Walker’s signature on laws lessening legal restrictions on mining after Walker was elected and survived the recall election with money provided by the mining company.

But the disclosure continued to reverberate Saturday, especially among those who were at the center of the fight over Gogebic Taconite’s efforts to build a massive open-pit iron mine in northern Wisconsin. In 2013, Walker signed a bill passed by the Republican-led Legislature that eased environmental regulations for iron mining.

Donations to nonprofits like Wisconsin Club for Growth are generally not disclosed to the public. Emails obtained by Schmitz’s investigative team suggested that Walker encouraged groups and individuals to give to Club for Growth during the recall in an effort to bypass state rules on disclosure and donation limits.

In Kansas, Sam Brownback is another tea party governor struggling with his own budget and prospects for re-election. Brownback essentially used Kansas as a budgetary petrie dish and has alarmed his public by the blooming growth of poverty that emerged. Even seasoned politicians are upset:

Wint Winter, a former state senator who has known Brownback since he was 14, is one of the Republicans backing Davis.

“I had hoped that it wouldn’t be as extreme as it’s been,” Winter told The Daily Beast of Brownback’s tenure. “I knew from Sam’s time in the Senate that he had a passionate affection for social issues, but what we didn’t know was that Sam would use this state as crash test dummies for his own fiscal experiments.  We have people in our group who are moved by different issues, but all of them come back to the fact that Sam did not have the right to use Kansas as an experiment.”

The experiment that Winter referred to is a sweeping income tax cut plan that Brownback enacted in 2011, which eliminated income taxes for small businesses, cut the highest income tax rates by 25 percent, and made smaller cuts for people with lower rates.  Brownback has also signed bills cutting state budgets, declared that life begins “at fertilization,” and created an “Office of the Repealer” to eliminate state laws, regulations and agencies. He’s also ended guaranteed teacher tenure, and narrowed eligibility for welfare and Medicaid.

So what’s the end result of legislation like this personal Brownback vendetta? Disaster, particularly financial disaster.

The Wall Street Journal reported that tax collections fell by $685 million in the first 11 months of the fiscal year, putting Kansas on track to blow through its $700 million reserve fund by the middle of next year.

Brownback has insisted that he’ll make up future shortfalls with economic growth, but with 40 percent of state revenue traditionally coming from those taxes and no specific plan to make up the shortfall, Moody’s Investor Service recently downgraded the state’s debt rating. In their decision, Moody’s cited both the tax cuts and a state Supreme Court decision that found that Brownback and the legislature had cut funding for schools unfairly and too deeply in 2011, and would have to find budget savings elsewhere.

Should go without saying, but if the Federal Supreme Court comes out and says your state budget violates laws, well then it’s pretty much a failure. But hey, Brownback hasn’t shown any signs that he is bothered by his apparently illegal budget maneuvers.

Despite the cuts and complaints, Brownback told MSNBC’s Chuck Todd he has no regrets over the tax cuts and promised to “hit the accelerator” on more of the same kinds of policies in a second term. “It’s really starting to work the way we hoped it would,” Brownback said.

Legality of his plans, be damned, Brownback, like other tea party governors wants to keep going. Never mind that the Kansas index was downgraded by Moody’s Investor index and Supreme Court intervention. Why quibble about details?

Why quibble about details, indeed? Tom Corbett compared gay marriage to incest, and doesn’t know why that’s a bad thing.

“It was an inappropriate analogy, you know,” Corbett said. “I think a much better analogy would have been brother and sister, don’t you?”

Corbett later apologized for his remarks, but his gay marriage comments have only inflamed a public already irate about education budget cuts. (Anyone notice a theme here about tea party governors cutting education budgets and having no income to work with at the end of their 4-year term, which also is coincidentally the term for high school graduation rates and college graduation rates?)

Chris Borick, a professor of political science at Muhlenberg College, said voters in the state have come to see education as their top issue.

“The governor, as we’ve seen in the polls in the past couple years, has struggled to win over voters because of an array of factors, but I think it starts and ends with public perception on education budgets.”

Sure, comments on gay marriage inflame voters immediately and get the glory, but the conservative moral stance seems symptomatic of an absent economics understanding.

Cue the suspense music as we look at the money issues with Florida’s tea party governor. What? More money evasion? Outright fraud? Seems to be the norm for these tea party governors (check in with Scott Walker here, maybe Brownback.

Florida’s Gov. Rick Scott was a Tea Party-wave fluke to begin with. An unlikely messenger for less-government libertarianism, Scott made his fortune by founding the hospital conglomerate Columbia/HCA, which is now best known for the running up the largest Medicaid fraud in the nation’s history, totaling $1.7 billion in civil and criminal penalties.

Another source spells out exactly how Scott led the largest Medicaid fraud in history, and evaded prosecution for it:

Under Scott’s leadership, Columbia/HCA was found to have been keeping two sets of books, one with the fraudulent revenue included and another accounting for actual profits if their claims were rejected. Scott has long said he did not know about the existence of such practices—and he was never charged—but some of the whistleblowers who first brought the case to light have said they believe that he must have known. Irony isn’t enough to keep “accountability in budgeting” off the top of the “issues” page on Scott’s campaign website. And still somehow the specter of welfare queens is more emotionally offensive to people than businesses bilking taxpayers out of more than a billion dollars.

Every single tea party governor has problems with the legality of his finances. Apparently we can also add consorting with terrorist groups to the list of tea party governors’ attributes. Check out Maine’s governor, Paul LePage.

Paul LePage, the Republican governor of Maine, has met repeatedly for with members of a militia movement, labeled as domestic terrorists by the FBI.

The Sovereign Citizens group, also known as the Constitutional Coalition, has claimed that Sandy Hook was a “false flag” operation to help enable a “holocaust against America’s Christian population.” It calls any currency besides gold and silver “unconstitutional.” Despite these wild claims, the group had requested a number of meetings with LePage in the past and had always been ignored by his staff. But once LePage found out that they wanted to meet with him, he went out of his way to set up a total of eight meetings.

LePage can just be another page in the book of tea party governor financial scandals, involving federal inquiry here, too.

•    A national ethics watchdog group rated LePage the second worst Governor in the country when it came to corruption, mismanagement and partisan politics.
•    Scandal after scandal at the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).
•    LePage’s administration is now under FBI investigation because of a whistle-blowing casethat accuses senior leadership at Maine’s CDC of forcing employees to shred public documents and scorecards regarding 2012 Healthy Maine Partnership funding.
•    Governor LePage and the DHHS have drawn criticism for delaying the release of a portion of the Alexander Report study, a taxpayer funded study on Maine’s welfare system. Commissioned by LePage in a no-bid contract, the $925,000 study has drawn criticism for a $575 million error.

Dear Reader can find a total list of the LePage scandals here. It takes up multiple pages, so I didn’t copy it in.

In fact, is there there a tea party governor whose budgets have escaped federal scrutiny? Haven’t found one yet. I will keep looking. New York is no exception:

In New York, businessman Carl Paladino is gaining ground on Rick Lazio in the September Republican primary from the right as the self-nominated Tea Party candidate. You might know Paladino best for a series of racist and pornographic emails that were uncovered soon after he announced his candidacy. But his real scandal has to do with taxpayer dollars and common sense…

The Buffalo News discovered that this self-styled scourge of big government is one of its biggest beneficiaries—he is the state government’s largest landlord in Western New York. Paladino is slated to earn $10.1 million from 37 government leases this year, and he holds $85.3 million in state contracts. For New Yorkers suffering under one of the nation’s highest tax burdens, this lopsided transfer of public treasury to private pockets is insulting. But it’s no wonder Paladino is such a strong advocate of tax cuts: He’s gotten at least $12 million in tax breaks over the past decade. Yes, it takes a special kind of chutzpah to use taxpayer money to rail against taxes. Buffalo News columnist Rod Watson earned his props when he called Paladino “the biggest proponent of government involvement in the private economy since Karl Marx.”

Haha, so far, budget scandals requiring legal intervention are 6 for 6 with tea party governors.

Let’s make it 7 for 7 with Nathan Deal of Georgia, profiled by John Avlon in his new book, 10 Congressmen Who Should Be Fired. Nothing like benefitting privately from governmental contracts, again. According to a Daily Beast Report, from whom I have referenced in this article: Tea Partiers Who Have Gotten Rich Off of Big Government, Deal has millions at stake in government contracts, too.

Earlier this year, the Board of Congressional Ethics found, by a vote of 6-0, that Rep. Deal had violated House Rules and Standards of Conduct. At issue was a Georgia corporation named Recovery Services and co-owned by Deal that did inspections on salvaged vehicles for the state, making $1.4 million a year on a no-bid contract, of which Deal was pocketing an undisclosed $75,000 salary as well as at least an equal amount in dividends. When a new director wanted to open the process to bidding to increase efficiency and reduce costs tied to the $1.7 million that had been allocated to the program—an impeccable fiscally responsible impulse—Deal’s response was heavy-handed. According to the official report, he “sought to preserve a state vehicle inspection program that had generated significant personal benefit for him and a business partner.”

Even worse, Deal made it clear in closed-door meetings that he was appearing not in his capacity as a private citizen but as an elected official, bringing his congressional chief of staff to the meetings and allegedly getting the lieutenant governor to make his presence felt.

According to one article, there are three tea party governors still doing well:

Against this backdrop, it’s notable that center-right Republican governors like Iowa’s Terry Branstad, Ohio’s John Kasich, New Mexico’s Susana Martinez, and Michigan’s Rick Snyder seem in fine shape for reelection. They’ve been fiscal conservatives, but they’ve shown some flexibility on working with state Democrats and they’re not overly strident social conservatives.

Rick Snyder has his own share of financial scandals in Michigan, the latest over prison contractors who have been fined for things like having sex with inmates, failing to provide food,a nd being let out of their fines by none other than Rick Snyder’s office. This was reported by the Detroit Free Press:

The e-mails, obtained under Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act by the liberal group Progress Michigan, show Heyns promising to ease off on Aramark — whose three-year, $145-million contract had been plagued with problems including meal shortages, unauthorized menu substitutions, employees smuggling contraband, and employees fraternizing with or having sex with inmates.

(The article continues…)

“I know where you want to go,” Heyns said in a March 13 e-mail to Muchmore.

“I will tone down my attack dogs, delay or cancel any fines and give Aramark time to solve the problems,” Heyns said.

“I met with one of their honchos today and he gets the picture. We were concerned about losing control of a joint, and told them repeatedly with no improvement. Our corrective action was too harsh.”

Wardens had attributed demonstrations and prison unrest tounhappiness over the food.

As first reported by the Free Press, Corrections Department spokesman Russ Marlan confirmed Thursday that Heyns withdrew a $98,000 fine the department had assessed against Aramark for contract violations earlier that month.

The state, which initially redacted the prior e-mail message Muchmore sent Heyns, on Friday released that missing message.

In it, Muchmore asks Heyns: “Do we need to get drink?” Heyns’ response begins: “I can always use one of those but not necessary.”

Marlan couldn’t immediately say why the e-mail message from Muchmore had originally been redacted.

Schauer said the e-mail exchange shows a top aide to the governor pressuring a department director to give special treatment to a contractor.

Snyder, who bills himself as “one tough nerd” has surely set fire to the prison reform, this time by issuing another fine and pushing for it to be paid…

In August, as widespread problems continued, Snyder announced a new $200,000 fine and a new contract monitoring system. Marlan said Thursday the $200,000 fine has been paid.

Schauer also called on Snyder to immediately disclose whether Aramark Correctional Services of Philadelphia or any of its officials had donated to the New Energy to Reinvent and Diversify (NERD) fund, a Snyder nonprofit fund that accepted undisclosed corporate donations and which Snyder announced in October he was disbanding.

Considering Aramark’s revenue for the 2013 calendar year was reported at $13.95 billion, there is nothing tough about Snyder’s imposition of a $200,000 fine, even worse when one considers that the State of Michigan has a 3-year $145 million dollar contract with Aramark. That fine is little more than one thousandths of a percent of what the contract is worth, tough nerd becomes corporate cesspool.

Snyder has also been accused of writing legislation to support his family’s furniture business, with emails released from George Snyder to Rick Snyder’s office voicing “concern” over legislation that could allegedly hurt the Snyder family business:

In an April 2011 email, documents show, George Snyder contacted Richard Baird, a top Snyder adviser, saying that he was “very upset and nervous about the language in the Senate budget bill on furniture.”

Baird forwarded the email to John Nixon, then Michigan’s state budget director, who responded, “we are on it.”

In a subsequent email between Baird and Nixon, Baird identifies that George Snyder is the Republican governor’s cousin, forwarding along a second request for information about the state’s “furniture process.”…

While Snyder campaigned for governor as “One Tough Nerd” with the promise of transforming the state’s government, Democrats at the time criticized his budget proposal as favoring businesses and corporations while harming working families and seniors.

The release of the emails is likely to revive that argument. Democrats charge that Snyder’s goal wasn’t shared sacrifice, but instead politics as usual where Snyder picked and chose favorites, allowing his family and associates to benefit.

“While parents and seniors were being told by the governor they must sacrifice to balance the state’s billion-dollar deficit budget, Rick Snyder’s family and political friends were being taken care of,” Lon Johnson, the Michigan Democratic Party chair, said in a statement to accompany the release of the emails. “This scandal reveals hypocrisy reaching directly into the governor’s office and is a serious and disturbing breach of public trust.”

Really, all I have had to do to find these budgetary discretions is to go to Google and type in the governor’s name, followed by the words, “budget scandal.” It’s not hidden.  8 for 8 with tea party governors.

What about Ohio’s governor? He supposedly had a good ratings? Not according to polls in his state:

Kasich’s short tenure has been marked by several mini-scandals, including an incident last month when he called a police officer who issued him a ticket an idiot — three times, on camera. Then came the contentious budget debate, when he forcefully pushed for a bill to strip state employees of their collective bargaining rights. That bill goes even further than the one recently passed in Wisconsin, which prompted weeks of enormous protests and has sparked a recall petition for the state’s republican senators.

Kasich’s approval rating now appears to be deeply underwater. In the poll, only 35% of respondents said they approve of his job performance, while 54% sad they disapprove. In a University of Cincinnati poll released Monday, 30% approved of Kasich’s job performance, compared to 52% who disapproved.

Well, what does the Ohio budget and job prospect look like? Seems like Jobs Ohio, a reporting group fed by Good Governor Kasich ostensibly misrepresented job findings, obfuscating actual job losses in Ohio:

According to the Bureau of Labor statistics, since January 2011, Ohio’s employment is up 139,600 – not 162,000.

So if you believed Nichols numbers, you’d think JobsOhio helped create more jobs than the state even gained in the past two and half years!

And that’s where Nichols thinks he being clever – using the phrase  “private sector jobs”.   When you look at ALL the numbers you find that there were actually an additional 22,200 jobs lost over the same time period.

And did these job losses come from the downsizing of state government, a key campaign promise of candidate Kasich?

Hell no.

Instead, Ohio has lost  5,100 federal workers and a whopping 18,400 cops, firefighters, teachers and other local government jobs thanks to Kasich’s disastrous cuts to cities, towns and counties.

At the same time, state government has actually GROWN by 1,300 workers as state spending skyrockets under Kasich with GRF appropriations increasing by over 20%.

And how are we stacking up compared to other states?

Last month, Ohio lost 12,500 jobs – more than every other state but one.  Over the past 12 months Ohio’s job growth is 47% in the nation.

Jobs Ohio was supposedly a non-profit group, but it had not disclosed the money it used from the State of Ohio in budget reports:

“They are our state”s economic development entity,” said Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols, describing JobsOhio”s role with the administration.

JobsOhio doesn”t have the ability to award state grants or tax credits, but as it works with companies it can recommend to the Development Services Agency, the successor to the Department of Development, that such aid be considered, said JobsOhio spokeswoman Laura Jones.

JobsOhio has a lease with the state to run Ohio”s liquor operations through its subsidiary, JobsOhio Beverage System. It sold bonds against those liquor revenues to raise money for its own operating expenses.

JobsOhio sold bonds against state revenues to fund its operations, and then says it doesn’t have to release its financial information? Selling bonds against state shares is using state money. Apparently Ohio is in a litigation state with its own Supreme Court over the budgetary grounds, again, a common theme amongst tea party budget backers:

“Our message to Ohio is, ‘We’re open for business, but, once again, you still can’t look in the windows,’” state Rep. Matt Lundy, an Elyria Democrat, said at the time from the House floor. “JobsOhio is fertile ground for corruption. We could have done much better.”

The new approach quickly became the subject of a lawsuit. ProgressOhio, a left-leaning think tank, and others sued, arguing that the bill which established JobsOhio and created the rules under which it will operate, violated the state Constitution. In November, the Ohio Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on whether the ProgressOhio and other plaintiffs even have standing to file their suit, let alone go to trial.

While the suit challenges how JobsOhio was created, it’s part of a larger discussion, said Brian Rothenberg, ProgressOhio’s executive director.

“The constitutional issue is outsourcing the public money and accountability,” Rothenberg said. “I do cringe now that it’s in the political arena because I think it’s a much bigger issue than politics and it’s a much bigger issue than one governor. It’s really about how we spend money on job creation and does it get the job done.”

Ok, another one bites the dust, if we are looking to eliminate legal investigations into budgets and lawsuits about the constitutionality of funding. 9 for 9 in budgetary problems. How about Iowa’s governor, Terry Branstad?

Terry Branstad has his own share of financial missteps, including pushing the hiring of his friends, having those in his administration try to push for judges to decide in their favor, and more tales of tea party regalia:

(April 17, 2014)Today before the Senate Government Oversight Committee, Public Employee Relations Board (PERB) Chair Jim Riordan testified that Governor Terry Branstad’s staff put pressure on him to hire a Branstad cronyor else there would be consequences.

Riordan, a longtime PERB board member with 30 years of public service experience, said he felt he had a gun to his head to hire Branstad friend Bob Wilson as an administrative law judge, or the PERB budget would be cut.

In response to this latest scandal – the first one that directly implicates members of the Governor’s staff – Terry Branstad said what he has said every time another corruption story surfaces – he flat out denies it.  Unfortunately for Branstad, the last time he issued such a statement, it was revealed that Mike Carroll lied about hush money payments and was promptly fired.

Riordan’s accusations are just the latest in a series of scandals that have rocked the Branstad Administration in the last month.  Those include:

It’s just amazing who these governors hire or manage and then know nothing about. So, the big question is: what was the result of the Oversight Committee’s investigation into Iowa’s Governor Branstad? That Branstad paid hush money to former employees with the State of Iowa’s bank account.

FINDING:  Former DAS attorney Ryan Lamb testified that he discussed putting confidentiality language into settlement agreements with Branstad’s legal counsel, Brenna Findley.

FINDING:  Hush money was given and offered to former state employees.

  • Carol Frank and Dean Ibsen, former DAS employees, testified that they were offered hush money in exchange for a confidentiality clause in their settlement agreements with the State of Iowa.

FINDING:  Governor Branstad and Department of Administrative Services did not provide Iowans accurate information regarding secret settlements, hush money and their costs to Iowa taxpayers.

  • Governor Branstad’s internal investigation team — comprised of the director of DOM, legal counsel and chief of staff — released 24 cases totaling $500,000 on March 18, 2014. The State Auditor’s report revealed 42 confidential settlements, totaling nearly $700,000.
  • Former DAS legal counsel testified that he notified Branstad’s Chief of Staff and DAS Director that there might be documentation indicating a payment was negotiated in a settlement agreement. This notification occurred prior to the DAS Director’s testimony before Oversight and the Governor’s news conference denying Ms. Frank’s testimony.

FINDING:  Funds used for settlement agreements were not disclosed to legislators or the state agencies that paid into those funds for their specific purposes.

  • DAS used other state agency funds to pay for settlement agreements that were intended for other uses, such as construction management costs, energy efficiency programs and general operations.

  • A Department of Administrative Services document shows the state used at least six separate accounts to pay more than $500,000 in employee settlements since 2011.

FINDING:  Iowa has hired at least 990 employees since January 2007 without advertising their jobs on a statewide public notification system, thereby allowing state managers to hire their friends instead of the most qualified candidates.

FINDING:  The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) had to intervene when Iowa Workforce Development Director tried to reclassify a merit judicial position to an at-will position.  The DOL noted this violated established legal principles that say judges must be insulated from political influence.

Unfortunately the findings were long and not in Branstad’s favor. What is it about tea partyism that shares the common core of Godlike omnipotence and levitation that escapes normal legal procedures?

Stay with me, Dear Reader, because we are almost done. Just one more senator, New Mexico’s Susana Martinez? Has blurred the lines between government and private agenda, like all the tea party governors.

Gov. Martinez’s administration has a recurring problem using private and campaign email addresses to shield official business from the public. The New Mexico Attorney General’s office is investigating whether Gov. Martinez’s administration violated state law when her political advisor requested the Public Education Department engage in political research that was circulated throughout her administration via private and campaign email.

Additionally, the FBI appears to be examining whether the state improperly awarded a 25-year lease to the Downs at Albuquerque racino, a major donor to Gov. Martinez’s campaign and PAC, to continue operating the state fair despite past performance problems. Leaked emails revealed communications between the governor’s staff and lawyers for the Downs during the selection process.

Am I at 10? 10 for 10 tea party governors with financial problems, the same agenda of cutting education funding and problems with their budgets? Funny how that austerity budget falls flat without any revenue to support the governmental employees, governors included. I am sure big business is crowing at the top of the financial empire; these tea party governors were ripe for the picking, like taking candy from a baby. Sure, Big Business, smiles sweetly and takes all the hand outs, but Big Business didn’t create revenue–seems that people working decent wages are required for that.  Tax cuts for Big Business equal budget collapses for states. Tax cuts for Big Business cut off the largest revenue generating engine a state can hold; no wonder Big Business supports the tea party. Welfare cuts don’t generate revenue, and neither do cuts to education; however, tax cuts for Big Business spell failure for the tea party.

The Notorious RBG on Gay Marriage Bans And Michigan

October 8, 2014

I am proud of it, so I’ll say it again: I love Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She stoked the fires of my admiration just this past week when talking about gay marriage bans, particularly those playing out, I am ashamed to say, in Michigan.

My partner and I joke that if we want to see how the backwards’ minds work, we look to Michigan. Michigan politics are so frequently backward and backwoods, that it’s often a matter of reading Michigan news to find another example of compelling evidence that there is a great mind suck happening in Michigan, a vacuum left by the most educated fleeing the state is sucking whatever brain power is left of our hapless inhabitants, and none could be more glaring lately than the gay marriage commentary. The Notorious RBG takes that on by saying that the Federal Supreme Court is watching the 6th Circuit, one of the most backward federal courts, to see if they are out of step with the nation. (There is ample proof that they are, having been remonstrated only in the last year or so for treating pro se plaintiffs so badly that they 6th Circuit was called out by the Federal Supreme Court of the United States, out of all the courts in the nation, for failing to grant pro se plaintiffs their rights.)

People seeking clues about how soon the Supreme Court might weigh in on states’ gay marriage bans should pay close attention to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg told a Minnesota audience Tuesday.

Ginsburg said cases pending before the circuit covering Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee would probably play a role in the high court’s timing. She said “there will be some urgency” if that appeals court allows same-sex marriage bans to stand. Such a decision would run contrary to a legal trend favoring gay marriage and force the Supreme Court to step in sooner, she predicted.

Reports on Ginsburg’s comments tell me two things 1) that the Federal Supreme Court is not looking to overturn the legal sweep happening nationwide that has thrown out gay marriage bans and 2) that should the Michigan/6th Circuit Contingent go agains the recent tide of overturning gay marriage bans, the 6th Circuit would once again emerge with egg on its face. It’s not a new trend for the 6th Circuit, so this shouldn’t come as a surprise, but I love the fact that Ginsburg is calling it out. Put it out there RBG!

Ginsburg credits this sweeping change with the open quality of dialogue about gay/lesbian relationships:

“Having people close to us who say who they are — that made the attitude change in this country,” Ginsburg said at the University of Minnesota Law School.

I love you, RBG. Always have, always will.

ISIS In America: ISIS In Michigan: Radical “Cleric” ISIS Supporter Living In Michigan

October 3, 2014

ISIS seems like a problem situated far, far away, in dusty towns and cities with foreign sounding names that have no relevance here in the United States. Turkey, Syria, and other countries are fighting a brutal war, but that doesn’t affect us here in Michigan, or does it? According to media reports, ISIS has arms in Michigan, with a “cleric” who supports ISIS, and a federal felon, living in Michigan and promoting ISIS from Dearborn:

The federal government got a green light to use the “actions necessary” to collect a quarter of a million dollars in restitution owed by a Dearborn cleric who is popular with the Islamic militants who beheaded U.S. journalist James Foley and was banned from local mosques because of his fiery rhetoric.

Ahmad Musa Jibril, 43, (aka Ahmad Jebril) owes $250,000 in restitution and costs related to fraud convictions that landed him in prison for 6½ years,the Detroit Free Press reports. He and his co-defendant father were convicted on 42 counts bank and mail fraud, failure to pay income tax and money laundering.

Losses from their scheme, which involved deliberately vandalizing their rental properties so they could collect insurance money, amounted to $400,000.

Since his release from the federal prison at Terre Haute, IN, in March 2012, Jibril has made only a small $2,790 dent in the obligation, the government said at a hearing earlier this month.

So why the money laundering? Seems like a way to funnel money to the terrorist groups he supports. It’s a sobering thought that radicals here in Michigan are funding fighters in Syria and Iraq, with the express purpose of using Facebook to recruit more militants.

Details about Jibril’s criminal past and growing influence as a cheerleader for ISIS were among those included in a report released in April by researchers at the Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence at King’s College in London. The researchers – three security experts affiliated – concluded after their year-long study that “social media represents an essential source of information and inspiration” to militants, and the conflict in Syria may be the first in history in “in which a large number of western fighters have been documenting their involvement in conflict in real-time.”

The researchers’ findings about Jibril’s growing international following among radical Muslims were troubling enough to prompt the government to ask U.S. District Judge Gerald Rosen in June to restrict Jibril’s travel to eastern Michigan. He also must turn over his computer if asked to do so by his probation officer, according to Rosen’s ruling…

The pioneering study from the King’s College researchers offers telling anecdotes about Jibril’s prominence in radical Islam politics and suspicion aimed at him from the United States.

The researchers cited federal prosecutors’ special memorandum filed at the time of Jibril’s sentencing, including details about a radical web site Jibril operated at the time that “contained a library of fanatically anti-American sermons by militant Islamic clerics.”

Lectures “turned into angry rants about Western crimes against Muslims and he peppered his talk with invectives against Shi’a Muslims and called on God to turn Jewish children into orphans.”

The government also said Jibril sent a fax to CNN in 1996 claiming responsibility for the Kohbar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia, warning of “a series of bombings that will follow no matter how many lives of ours are taken.”…

Within 13 days of his March 2012 release from Terre Haute federal prison, Jibril began Tweeting support for Syrian rebels, The Guardian said.

During the next two years, he developed a strong social media following, his popularity “particularly strong among groups like ISIS,” according to the researchers. More than half of the militants they surveyed who either liked his Facebook page or followed him on Twitter were also affiliated with ISIS.

According to media reports the Dearborn based cleric was dismissed from two mosques for being offensive; however, it hasn’t seemed to stop him from encouraging fighters online.

 

Is Domestic Violence In the NFL A Racial Issue?

September 24, 2014

Women’s eNews just published an op-ed by a woman who says that the only way to trust that the NFL really is addressing the issue of domestic violence perpetrated by many of its players is by assigning a black woman or more than one black woman to its advisory council on domestic violence:

As much as Goodell would like to continue to operate under the illusion of the irrelevance of race, with full ignorance of the intersecting realties faced by those of us who navigate life in the United States as both black and female, the fact is, the racial representation of his advisory panel matters. And his stubborn disregard of the importance of including black domestic violence experts displays a stunning degree of disrespect for black women specifically — the very women in the United States who are most likely to face this horror — as well as an utter disregard for the safety of those women most likely to be on the receiving end of the abusive behavior within his own league.

Because of the wide range of nuanced factors that are distinct to the African American experience, it is critical that any advisory team Goodell amasses specifically include black female domestic violence experts to ensure the cultural competency this complex issue requires and deserves.

For those of you who might not know who Goodell is, he is the incompetent ass acting as the NFL Commissioner, who has downplayed felonious acts of domestic violence by  NFL players. Goodell really should be fired for his incompetence, but in true NFL style, the abusers are still paid to play, even if they act as the NFL Commissioner.

When confronted with the video evidence of Ray Rice, an NFL player, punching his then-fiancee in the face, the NFL Commissioner acknowledged that he should have done more than give Ray Rice a two game suspension. Goodell didn’t do enough to punish Ray Rice, and the NFL hasn’t done enough to punish Goodell. Goodell came up with the idea of having a domestic violence advisory committee made up of women, and then Goodell failed to appoint any women of color to that committee.

The Women’s eNews contributor feels that without black women on the domestic violence advisory panel, the panel can’t be effective, because apparently only black women can minister to black women’s needs? While the author acknowledges that domestic violence is an issue for every woman, she then tries to argue that because more black women suffer domestic violence than supposed white women, that black women need to be on the advisory panel:

Domestic violence goes way beyond the realm of the NFL, touching every community, regardless of race, ethnicity or socioeconomic status. But the sad reality is no woman in the United States today is more likely to be beaten or die at the hands of someone she loves and trusts than a black woman.

The author then finishes with what is perhaps her most unsatisfying argument, the I-story, to argue that black women should be on Goodell’s committee:

I know this, because I’ve lived it.

I am that 1-in-nearly-3 black women who have survived an abusive relationship. I understand all too well the deadly mix of isolation, fear and racial solidarity that makes exposing the pain of abuse paralyzing for some and a complete non-starter for others. I’ve been that woman who’s had the police show up at my door only to send them away in the desire to defend the indefensible and to protect the person I still, inexplicably, loved.

Contrary to the editorial stance behind publishing a piece like this, the author’s argument that she refused to allow police to interfere in her abusive relationship does not make her qualified to address domestic violence issues–it argues that she is not only ill-equipped to address domestic violence issues within the letter of the law, but that she supports the concept of hiding the abuser. So, is the NFL issue of domestic abuse a racial issue?

 

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