How to Succeed in Politics*

  1. Love your gun unconditionally.  Join the NRA.
  2. Love Grover Norquist unconditionally and sign his pledge not to raise taxes under any circumstances.  No matter how many people are out of work, homeless or sick.
  3. Love your country unconditionally and stick to the belief that America can do no wrong.  Do not get a passport and do not ever travel outside the United States.
  4. Love your ideological purity. Never compromise.
  5. Love your God and label any policy that benefits the majority of citizens, especially the weak, the young and the old, “socialist.”
  6. Love your mother, except when it comes to equal rights, equal pay and the right to choose when and if she is capable of bearing a child.
  7. Hate government:  Be proud that you are an outsider, have no previous experience in public service and  believe that makes you the best qualified candidate for the job.
  8. Never leave home without your flag lapel pin.

*Not to be confused with how to succeed in governing.

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Welcome to “Democracy” – Where the Minority Rules

  • 90% of Americans are in favor of expanded background checks on gun purchasers. 
  • 54% of the Senate voted in favor of the Manchin-Toomey Amendment
  • 46% of the Senate voted against the Amendment
  • Amendment defeated.

When the next Newtown or Columbine or Virginia Tech happens, remember these Senators who failed to enact a moderate, common-sense measure.

 Senate Hall of Shame Naysayers:

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H.

Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo.

Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont.

Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska

Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo.

Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark.

Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C.

Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga.

Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind.

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla.

Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss.

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn.

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas

Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas

Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo.

Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb.

Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D.

Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev.

Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D.

Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla.

Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga.

Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb.

Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis.

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah

Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio

Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark.

Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev.*

Sen. James Risch, R-Idaho

Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.

Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C.

Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala.

Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala.

Sen. John Thune, R-S.D.

Sen. David Vitter, R-La.

Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss.

*Reid voted no as a procedural move so that he would retain the ability under Senate rules to bring up the measure again should supporters believe they’ve mustered enough votes to secure passage.

Source: U.S. Senate

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Republican for a Day

Every time someone tells me that a simple flat income tax would be the fairest way to go, I sigh deeply and consider:  is this a discussion I need to have?  If it’s a stranger sharing his opinion, the answer is no.  If it is someone I care about, I explain why progressive taxes are fairer than regressive taxes.  Which is what a flat tax is.

But then April 15 rolls around.

My accountant sends me an electronic workbook every January in which I enter all my income and expenses.  It is a task I despise.  Every year I pledge to get organized and get it done early.  I am not a wealthy person, but I have modest rental income, some small investments, W-2 earnings, children in college, and a spouse on social security.  Turbo Tax is not sophisticated enough to generate my tax return.  I have no choice but to use an accountant.  That is, if I want to stay sane.

In Little Dorrit, Dickens invented the Office of Circumlocution. It’s all too real. Here’s an example of just ONE calculation from my tax return:

If line 7 is greater than or equal to line 6, skip lines 8 and 9, enter -0- on line 10. Otherwise, go to line 8.

8 Subtract line 7 from line 6

9 Multiply line 8 by 50% (.5). Do not enter more than $25,000. If married filing separately, see instructions.

10 Enter the smaller of line 5 or line 9. If line 2c is a loss, go to Part III. Otherwise go to line 15.

“See instructions” is liberally sprinkled throughout the return.  I can’t imagine squinting at the 6 point type in the IRS booklet to read those instructions even once without losing my mind.

So every April 15, my latent Republican tendencies emerge and I grumble about my taxes.  But then on April 16th, reason prevails and I realize that it is precisely because of the Republicans that our tax returns are so complicated.  The 1% can afford armies of accountants.  GE has a tax department of over 500 people whose raison d’etre is tax avoidance.  Who says the government doesn’t create jobs?

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The Death of Reason

In response to the massacre of 20 innocent children and 7 adults in Newtown, Connecticut on Friday, the state’s Governor, Dannel Malloy, said “Evil has visited this community today.”

Most people will interpret his remark in reference to the shooter – Adam Lanza. But using the word “evil” to describe Lanza is an over-simplification. “Evil” is a medieval kind of word.  It is a word that belongs in a time when people ascribed things they didn’t understand to sorcery and witchcraft and treated mental illness with exorcism.

Using the word “evil” to describe this horrific crime assumes that Adam Lanza’s actions were inexplicable.  But they weren’t.  Although mental illness is still not fully understood, we fully understand that guns in the hands of some mentally ill people will end in tragedy.  Yet we do next to nothing to prevent it from happening.  Treatment is inadequate and gun control is an oxymoron.

Adam Lanza appears to have been a disturbed individual who, through his mother’s and society’s negligence, had access to enormous firepower. The evil that visited Newtown, CT on Friday was the National Rifle Association, the gun manufacturers, and the gutless politicians who refuse to regulate access to deadly firearms and ammunition. If you want to know where the real evil resides, check out the NRA leadership.  Welcome to the Middle Ages.

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Karl Rove’s Stock is Down

Or at least it should be. All those big donors who gave millions to Rove’s  evil spawn –  American Crossroads Super Pac and Crossroads GPS  (the sham “social welfare” organization) –  should be having second, third and fourth thoughts about their return on investment (ROI).

Angus King, the newly elected Independent Senator from Maine, thanked Rove for all the volunteers and money he (King) raised as a direct result of the negative ads that Rove’s group sponsored in Maine.  I’m pretty sure that was not the result donors were looking for.

Nor did Rove’s obscenely wealthy patrons get what they wanted around the rest of the country.  They shelled out big bucks for a whole lotta lipstick, but in the end, a pig is still a pig.

Next election cycle, they should give their millions to the real social welfare organizations who actually work for things like peace, justice and equality.

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What Donald Trump Really Wants to Say

Last night, Donald Trump tweeted “This election is a total sham and a travesty. We are not a democracy!”

What he really wants to say is: What is this country coming to when you can’t even buy yourself an election?!?

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Why I Hate Verizon

So the other day I got a text message from Verizon saying that we were over our plan limit in voice usage and would be charged extra. How much extra? 45 cents a minute! So I did some investigating to see which of our four family phones was responsible. It turned out that my son had logged over a thousand minutes to a Toll Free number that he had to call for on-the-job training. But, one might ask, aren’t calls to “toll free” numbers – um – toll free? Well, apparently, only if they are to other Verizon accounts. And how would one discern the phone carrier one was calling? One wouldn’t.

Since when did the term “Toll Free” become ambiguous? I know I can’t be the only one who is mad as hell about the myriad ways we are gouged every day by telephone and cable companies. But free market competition and deregulation keeps prices down, right? That’s what they tell us. It’s a lie.

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