cur-mud-geon: anyone who hates hypocrisy and pretense and has the temerity to say so; anyone with the habit of pointing out unpleasant facts in an engaging and humorous manner
I have tended toward more politically-themed blogs of late than during non-election periods and came to the realization yesterday that I have been sucked into the vortex created by the candidates and news coverage. Between the bombast of Mr. Trump and the purloined e-mails and Benghazi issues of Ms. Clinton, it has become too easy to slip into the political gutter.
Republicans picked Cruz by about a 3.5% edge over Trump in ballots cast during the caucus event in Iowa. That also saw Trump finishing in second (24.3%), with Rubio in a very respectable third place with 23.1% of the vote. The nearest challenger after third place was Carson at 9.3%.
Which will it be? Unlikeable Hillary or Unthinkable Donald? That is a distinct possibility as Iowans troop to their respective caucus sites tonight to cast their votes in the homes of fellow Iowans in the most unique approach to primary elections we have.
Who won in the Republican Candidates’ Iowa debate hosted by Fox News last evening? Mr. Trump may’ve scored just by not being there. That made the process more appealing for me since I wasn’t wishing he’d be quiet or that he would quit with his assorted grimaces and faces. His absence also served to make Mr. Cruz the target of most of the other candidates on the stage last evening, and that proved interesting.
The National Review has taken its position on the candidacy of Donald Trump and has published the thoughts of many conservatives on its website.
Rahm Emanuel, Chicago’s Mayor, for now at least, is just about as effective and loved as his former boss, President Barack Obama. Emanuel has proved that he is, like his former boss, in over his head. He loves the trappings but seems indisposed to handle the day-to-day issues.
It is almost humorous now; the dumping of more of Hillary’s State Department e-mails continued yesterday when about 5,500 pages were released. State has apologized for being unable to get to this job sooner, and then mentions that it will release more next week. She even hides behind the Christmas season.
Our country has serious issues relating to data network security, and the violation of those networks by foreign agents. This is a critical issue since we could be plunged into almost total chaos by the planting of malicious code. Our national power system is among the targets and Iran appears to have been the latest culprit although North Korea has been in that same mode on a regular basis.
The lesser of evils? Is that what the next presidential election will come down to? Will we be forced to go through the exercise of deciding between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump? That could very well be the outcome of this political season. Hillary is a dead-lock for the Democratic nomination unless she finds herself indicted on some issue she has so far covered up from her Secretary of State days, something like Benghazi for example. And that, frankly, is the longest of long shots no matter how much we conservatives might hope for such an outcome.
The display of President Obama declaring that ‘global warming’ is the greatest threat our country and the world faces defies reality. We face a greater and more immediate threat in the world that the President seems to wish would go away since he isn’t actively taking any meaningful steps to engage it; and that is the threat of terrorism represented by ISIS/ISIL.
The UAW strike at Kohler Co. has shown a surprising, at least for me, gap between what the union has said to its members and what the company is saying to the press and its striking employees. Maybe this is a genuine difference of opinion but one would think that facts would be essentially factual. One or both sides in this strike may be at fault to one degree or another.
Politics of personal destruction? That seems possible, even probable, in the world that Donald Trump occupies. Mr. Trump seems to automatically move to a destructive approach applied to anyone and everyone who either gets too close in the polls or who is bold enough to question Trump’s positions on various subjects.
The Affordable Care Act, now much better known simply as Obamacare, is experiencing some financial difficulties but the cavalry is riding to the rescue. Or is it?
The Republican Presidential candidate debates tonight promise to be interesting. Given the hosting channel, Fox Business, and the people who will serve up the questions and control the debate (if debates can ever be controlled), I expect we’ll see a very professional, no nonsense debate tonight. The panel members are comfortable in their own skins and have no need to try to be the ‘star’ of the evening.
As the saga of the selection of a Republican Speaker of the House continues, we are seeing the ugly underside of this Congressional group as portrayed by the current ‘conservative’ element which is more the ‘ultra-conservative’ element as it presents itself. The largest group calls itself the House Freedom Caucus and is apparently the group that convinced Rep. Boehner to give up his seat. There is another group led by Rep. King (R-IA) talking up the preferred candidate of the Conservative Opportunity Society.
Many of us have heard of the ‘Cadillac tax’, as it is called, that is part of Obamacare (the inappropriately named Affordable Care Act). That tax is designed to hit those with ‘rich’ health care benefit plans. It assesses a significant penalty tax to discourage employers from retaining the health plans that cover most ‘everything’ from first dollar forward. Those typically have been thought of as being the plans negotiated and/or sponsored by unions for their members, although some non-union employers use very generous health plans, also.
102 since January 1st…homicides in Milwaukee, that is. That is about one every 2 1/3 days. 102 killings in 236 days! That pace will see nearly 160 deaths by years’ end. The majority of those occur in the inner city. I don’t know how many have been solved versus how many are unsolved, but that doesn’t change the facts.
Clarence Darrow, an attorney who was a leading member of the American Civil Liberties Union, is quoted as saying: “When I was a boy I was told that anybody could become President; I’m beginning to believe it.”
We have been hearing about a shortage that has an astounding story behind it even though it refers to a shortage of relatively small creatures defined as “pollinators”. We are in danger of losing some of the things we dearly love to eat since these “pollinators”, typically honey bees, have been declining in numbers.
Take-aways from the first two Republican debates if you’re interested in my thoughts…
Medicare and Medicaid were signed into law 50 years ago today by President Lyndon Baines Johnson who praised former President Truman for getting that ball rolling. Here we are five decades later observing the two programs that are an integral part of life in our country, and that are huge federal budget items.
Health care insurers have been in a merger frenzy; fearful apparently that they might either get taken over or get lost in the dance of elephants. The top five in size have now succeeded in making that group the top three presuming that all requisite governmental approvals are received. These three will control a significant majority of the total market.
We are involved in the ‘Drone drama’ whether or not we wish to be involved. Drones have captured much of our attention. We were watching the audience at a recent July 4th Concert in Woodland Park, CO where a drone was being used to gather video to be used later in advertising, etc.
Madison lived up to its reputation yesterday when the Alliant Energy Center was filled with enthusiastic supporters of Bernie Sanders, the Senator from Vermont. Sen. Sanders is a self-described “democratic socialist” and is in the race to become the next President of the United States. He almost makes Hillary Clinton ‘seem’ conservative; almost.
The long awaited, or so it seems, decision on ObamaCare by the U.S. Supreme Court has been published and in a 6-3 decision the Supremes have upheld the language and say that the magic four words (established by the state) were ‘ambiguous’ but that all who enroll have access to the premium assistance given their view of the totality of the law.
Dynasties seem all the rage these days. Hillary and Jeb are banking on their belief that dynasties haven’t fallen on hard times. Mark Belling hit on this yesterday and made the point that both campaigns use only the first name of each candidate. We see Hillary and we see Jeb. We don’t see Clinton and we don’t see Bush.
The federal government has been hacked and it seems rather likely, in spite of their protestations to the contrary, that this was done at the hands of China. We have known of China’s organized approach to hacking and we have been shown pictures of the buildings from which all this activity seems to be driven.
Mandatory voting; an interesting subject and especially interesting since it was mentioned a few days ago by President Obama who seems to think that people ought to be required to vote so that they would lose their right to complain about the outcome of the election. I doubt seriously that those deciding to not vote are the ones who, the next day, complain about how the election turned out. I also doubt that the President thinks that to be the reason he might like mandatory voting.
We spend a lot of time, many of us anyway, on trying to promote the candidate(s) of our choosing. Many spend a lot of money on that effort, as well. For some, this is an exercise of personal power as we see with the billionaires who throw tens of millions upon tens of millions of dollars into the fray. For the majority, this is an exercise in the use of freedoms guaranteed us by our Constitution. For whatever our reasons, many of us are thoroughly engaged in the outcome we favor. Sometimes we win and sometimes we lose. Some of those outcomes hang with us; I still remember the field of flowers suddenly being destroyed in the flash of an atomic bomb explosion that took Barry Goldwater to the loser’s position in the first election in which I became an active volunteer.
Right-to-work has taken center stage within the Wisconsin Legislature. As was to be expected, this became an immediate political football with the Democrats decrying the possibility and the Republican leadership saying they can pass it and will pass it.
President Obama has taken a shot at Staples, Inc. because this company has had the audacity to try to find the best ways to work with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) while obeying the law and delivering good results for its stockholders. He has said they are “undercutting” his law and says further that large corporations should not use the health insurance issue as an excuse for cutting wages.
Those signed up for ObamaCare this year are averaging $268 per month in premium forgiveness. There are some 6.5 million people in that category. That totals nearly $21,000,000 annually in subsidies paid by the government to the health plans providing the coverage. It is easy to see why the major health insurance companies were so eager to jump onto the ObamaCare bandwagon. Their revenue streams have taken a significant jump and their profits have increased also.
It is surprising to learn (tongue firmly in cheek), but our Congress is fighting over the budget numbers for the Homeland Security Department. I had to think hard about just what this Department is responsible for and who it oversees. If there is going to be a budgetary lapse, just who will be affected and at what cost to our country?
The Wisdom of Solomon would be handy for our U.S. Supreme Court as it decides the issue raised concerning government subsidies to help pay for health coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare. A look at the current information for Wisconsin gives some background:
Republicans reportedly will test the waters on changes to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by proposing to move the definition of full time from the current 30 hours per week back to the traditional 40 hours per week. They feel this is the slam dunk issue if one exists.
The following came to me this morning from a good friend and I thought it worthy of being shared. My comments are found at the very bottom of the piece.
A largely unanticipated issue has apparently been recognized: medical debt appears to be a significant issue on credit reports. That is not too surprising except that it affects about 20% of the people in the country to one degree or another.
The December 9th Opinions page in our Milwaukee Journal Sentinel featured an article written by Stephen T. Parente titled “Obamacare spikes are coming”. It discusses the relatively hidden things in that law that will almost assure a major spike in the cost of health care coverage that will hit in 2017 and after. Mr. Parente is the director of the Medical Industry Leadership Institute at the University of Minnesota. He is also a professor of health finance at the U of M. With his credentials having been displayed, we can proceed to the expectations he sheds light on:
With the defeat (a/k/a dumping) of Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), there are some amazing numbers floating around:
Let’s hear it for OPEC…and especially for OPEC’s continued greed and perceived lack of alternatives. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries has decided to avoid reducing the production of its member countries which almost assures a continued slide in the price of gasoline that you and I pay at the pumps. I paid $2.689 as a Costco member yesterday; I cannot remember paying this little for a long time (little, of course, being a lot more than I used to pay).
Where does anyone begin to review and assess what our President did last evening? He, of course, claims that what he did was completely within his legal authority. He told us that he wasn’t doing anything that every Republican president since Reagan did with Executive Orders.
The Washington world is one of intrigue, broken promises and broken laws. That promises to be demonstrated more and more as we find ourselves watching the final two years of the Obama Presidency with a Republican-dominated Congress.
The Capital Times in Madison seems to have difficulty in accepting the fact that Governor Walker managed yet another victory. Oh, it accepts the fact that Walker has won three times in a row but it somehow has managed to reach the conclusion that even if Walker won, his policies lost.
Considering the hand that was dealt, the Republicans came out of this dust-up in better position than expected. The Bush tax rates were largely codified permanently and the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) was made permanent without the need to have it annually updated for inflation. The AMT will now be automatically updated.
This video (click here) will show you, in a few short minutes, the predicament we've permitted ourselves to get into, and it is sobering at the very least.
Paul Ryan, as you already know, made Mitt Romney his selection in the race for the Republican nomination. That may be enough of a push to assure a significant victory for Romney in our election.
Uncertainty is at the root of much of the disruption we face today in the various markets that exist in our economy. When that is coupled with energy costs, we have the makings of a tough summer and fall right when we will elect or re-elect a president.
Private sector adds 233,000 jobs was the headline on the story in the morning Journal Sentinel. Then followed the statement: Unemployment rate unchanged at 8.3% after 3 strong months.
Eric Hovde is officially in the race to replace Sen. Herb Kohl (D) who is not running for re-election. Hovde has a lot of competition and will take his lumps as the long-time politicians who are his opponents in the Republican primary work him over. Hovde has made a lot of money, so he is similar to our other Senator, Ron Johnson (R), in that he can provide a lot of funding from his own bank account if need be, and that is likely to be needed given the number of hands already reaching out for contributions.
The latest step in the dance that has been ongoing for a long time took place yesterday in the Whitehouse when President Obama met with Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu.
General Electric announced a tough new program that required its employees with company vehicles to use Chevrolet Volts or lose their company auto privilege. This involved GE buying tens of millions of dollars worth of these electric vehicles.
President Obama has published his version of a 2013 budget, even though his Democrat-controlled Senate is unlikely to do the same since they haven't for well over 1,000 days in spite of the requirement they do so.
There is little secret that this White House wants to control virtually everything about our lives. Health care, of course, has been the big target since PPACA (a/k/a ObamaCare) was passed in the dead of night.
The last, I hope, Republican Presidential candidate debate was televised last evening. I watched a good portion of it after returning home late in the evening. First, I thought that John King of CNN did a decent job of spreading time around and of staging the questions.