Political Abyss

Archive for January, 2011|Monthly archive page

Texas Senate Passes Bill that will not Allow Texans to Vote Without Photo I.D. (I.D. Bill SB14)

In POLITICS TODAY on January 29, 2011 at 11:57 pm

 

Dont fear the Reaper, fear the Loop-Hole...

By Maurice E. Duhon, Jr.

Saturday, 01/29/11

On Wednesday night, the Texas Senate passed Senate Bill 14.  The republican sponsored “I.D. Bill”

The “ID Bill” or (SB 14) legislation will now proceed to the republican majority Texas House, which also is expected to approve the bill. Two years ago, almost evenly divided between democrats and republicans, the Texas House chose to keep a previous Texas Senate voter ID bill suppressed or “bottled up” in political terms, never allowing the bill to be brought to the State Senate floor.  If signed into Law, this bill will make Texas one of the most voter restrictive states in our nation. 

Voter restriction is not a popular trend, obviously due to the definition of the word restrict; to put within bounds or to confine within limits. Translated, this law would basically state, you MUST provide “state approved” photo identification in order to be ALLOWED to vote.   Just remember, a Student I.D. will not be accepted, but you can use your gun license? 

Texas voter fraud is not and has not been a plague upon our Texas voting system, so I am forced to ask; With Texas’ $27 BILLION budget deficit, nearly 9 percent unemployment, and an initial budget which proposes severe budget cuts that will devastate our schools, worsen our health care crisis, and lead to nearly 100,000 more lost jobs, why have our elected Texas State officials chosen to make solving a non-existent problem a very-existent priority?

During the six years this “I.D. Bill” has been debated, supporters of the I.D. voting requirement have emphasized the importance of changing the law to prevent voter identification fraud, but have yet to find a single example of voter impersonation that would be combated by this new restriction.   Study after study has shown that tens of thousands of legally-registered Texas voters do not have a photo ID.  Those same studies show that these voters will be disproportionately minority, poor, disabled or elderly.

Those whom are weary about the I.D. requirement to vote have every right to wonder why this new law seems necessary and how a voter I.D. requirement at the polls could simply remove their CONSTITUTIONAL right to Vote.  Please remain well informed and understand that in America today it is not illegal to be a U.S. Citizen and not have an I.D. while standing on U.S. soil.  Of course, if an officer of the law is accusing you of committing an offense and you cannot provide evidence of identification, that officer may charge you with a “failure to produce ID”, but that is hypothetical and that would be requiring you to present I.D. because you are the suspect of a crime.  Last time I checked, voting was not a crime.

If or when this bill is signed into Law, Texans will be required to show a “state approved” photographic ID before they vote.  This action will make it significantly more difficult for hundreds of thousands of legally-registered and eligible Texans to exercise their constitutional right to vote.  What about the registered Voter that happens to unfortunately have their wallet or purse stolen near the days of an election? What about the registered Voter who may have accidently lost their I.D. while enjoying a carnival ride, or forgot their wallet or purse at a restaurant near the days of an election?  What about the college student that does not drive and has no other need that requires said college student to attain a Texas I.D., how will that student be allowed to Vote?  Too bad the college student didn’t have a concealed handgun license of course?  The bill states Concealed handgun licenses are acceptable.

I must also mention those Americans who may owe any money to the Texas Department of Public Safety. If DPS has taken your license or I.D. because of a failure to pay whatever tickets or fines you may or MAY NOT have accumulated, most likely they will not be issuing you a photo I.D.  Sure everyone should pay their traffic fines and if you drove with a suspended license you did a bad thing, but I still believe you shouldn’t lose your CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS of U.S. Citizenship because you owe the Texas DPS an “amount” of money. 

With both cynical and logical thought I have only been able to comprehend, that in the midst of a national economic recession/depression and a $27 BILLION dollar state debt, the Texas Department of Public Safety’s financial coffers have been deemed more important and have taken precedence over the American Citizen’s CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT to Vote.  A Right enshrined in our nation’s Constitution and for which hundreds of thousands of Americans died earning or defending.  This solemn Right, the hub of our Democracy and the foundation on which the very ideal and basis of Democracy stands, allows EVERY Citizen to exercise their most important of Civil Duties and Liberties and cast their one Vote. 

If this Texas “Law” is passed, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, our great nation’s 32nd President, the man that helped America rise out of the grotesque grips of a total economic depression, would once again turn over within the confines of his hallowed grave.  If FDR were alive today, he would rue the day, identification of gun ownership was made more worthy of proving United States Citizenship than one’s United States Social Security Card.

You will hear supporters of this I.D. voting requirement state that Texas’ “I.D. Bill” mirrors the Indiana Bill that required an I.D. to vote.  Indiana did pass an “I.D. Bill”, but Indiana’s version was passed into Law with many various protections and safeguards for Indiana’s registered Voters.  Please be aware that every amendment that was added to the Texas “I.D. Bill” to mirror Indiana’s voter protections and safeguards were defeated in Texas and were not added to the Texas bill.  Voter I.D. supporters also promised “free IDs” to eligible Texas voters who cannot afford them, then killed every amendment to publicize or make these IDs available. The Texas “I.D. Bill” is no twin or even a close relative to the Indiana “I.D. Bill” and furthermore aren’t we all aware that “Everything is bigger in Texas”?  

The issue we know to be the greatest source of voter fraud, absentee ballots, were not discussed or reformed in this “I.D. Bill” debate, so it seems as if the State of Texas is attempting to “solve” a problem that does not exist, and choosing to ignore the problem that does.

I’m assuming the one amendment that survived was the amendment to allow the elderly to vote without I.D. But one is forced to ask; what is the definition of “elderly” if the “elderly” person doesn’t have proof of their age with them when arriving at the polls? Someone one year below the accepted age of “elderly” will be treated differently than their peers and any “elderly” person who has “aged well” may be deemed as not “elderly enough” and forced to provide further photo documentation in order to Vote.

Please allow me to also quickly add that many of the acceptable forms of I.D. that will be allowed at the polls require some form of payment, by the Citizen, to cover their costs.  In simple terms, a U.S. Citizen will be required to pay a sum of money to attain identification that will allow them to vote. 

Those of you whom suffer from “political astuteness” will be inclined to remember the infamous “poll tax” that was implemented during our county’s shameful Jim Crow Era. This poll tax, along with unfairly implemented literacy tests and extra-legal intimidation, achieved the desired effect of preventing African-Americans, Native Americans, and poor whites immigrants from voting in elections.

In 1937, in the case of Breedlove v. Suttles, the U.S. Supreme Court found the poll tax to be constitutional. The 24th Amendment, ratified twenty seven years later in 1964, abolished the use of the poll tax, or any other tax, as a pre-condition in voting in Federal (National) elections, but made no mention of poll taxes in state elections.

In the 1966 case of Harper v. Virginia Board of Elections the Supreme Court overruled its decision in Breedlove v. Suttles, and extended the prohibition of poll taxes to state elections, declaring that the imposition of a poll tax in state elections violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution.

On February 9 of 1966, Texas’ poll tax law was declared unconstitutional by Federal courts.

You will find no conclusion within these writings.  You must make your own conclusion.  Is this I.D. requirement just or unjust?  Is this I.D. requirement extremely needed or not needed at the moment. Particularly right now, at this very moment, is this “I.D. Bill”, paid for with your tax dollars, the most pressing and important issue that faces Texas and our United States of America? 

Today and tomorrow millions of Americans will struggle with the issues of home foreclosure, bankruptcy, rising debt, lowered wages, joblessness, lack of health care, lack of mental health care, rising food prices, rising fuel prices, and a low-performing school system.  Today and tomorrow many Texans will come to realize that their debt owed to the Texas Department of Public Safety, large or small, has caused them to be considered “less of an American”.  If one is unable to pay a DPS debt, has no passport, and no handgun license and their right to vote has been stripped away from them, is this person still an American Citizen?  Is this person being sentenced to “social death”?  Yes, it is a real phrase, please “Google it”.

Our nation’s low Voter turn-out numbers will now fall to even lower numbers than before.  Our nation’s Voter turn-out will evolve into an even more dismal state.

Average United States voter turnout from the past nine presidential elections has been 54 percent, leaving the United States behind Australia, Malta (both 95%), Austria, Belgium, Italy, Luxembourg (90 percent or higher), Iceland, New Zealand, Denmark, Germany, Sweden, Greece, Venezuela, the Czech Republic, Brazil, the Netherland, Costa Rica, Norway, Romania, Bulgaria and Israel (80-89%), Portugal, Finland, Canada, France, the United Kingdom, South Korea, Ireland, Spain, Japan (70-79%), and Russia reaching a level of 61 percent, after so many years of repression.  Did we not teach these countries the process of Democracy?  Do we now need a tutor for the subject?

If you have a DPS driver’s license be thankful you can vote, but remember those who don’t drive.  If you have a passport, be thankful you can vote and remember some people don’t travel past Wal-Mart.  If you have a DPS identification card be thankful you can vote, but remember some lack the amount of money to attain one and if you own a concealed handgun license, be thankful you can vote and don’t ever worry about the US telling you what to do because in our country a gun will always be more respected than any feeble bank account. 

Enjoy these Helpful Facts found below:

  • There are no DPS offices located in most inner-city neighborhoods in Texas. For instance, in Houston, there are no DPS offices located inside of the I-610 loop.

 

  • According to the DPS Driver Responsibility Program, 1.2 million Texas drivers who have lost their licenses over surcharges cannot buy insurance until their fees are paid, but large numbers of them continue to drive.  What’s worse, under the “I.D. Bill”, they wouldn’t have a form of ID required to vote. 

 

  • You can lose your license for very minor offenses.  Unpaid surcharges, having no insurance, driving while license is invalid, passing a school bus, truancy or even simply failing to appear or pay a your fine for a traffic offense can lead to you having your license suspended.  That is potentially hundreds of thousands of Texans, not a relative few.

 

  • If you have a fine that has led to your license suspension, you have to pay DPS for the right to vote…not just your fine, but your surcharges and more.  That may well violate the Voting Rights Act.

 

  • None of the offices in Harris County are open on the weekend.  Save for an occasional 7 pm closing time, all of them are open from 8 am to 5 pm – when people work.

 

  • According to DPS, approximately 77 counties in Texas currently have no DPS center for voters, forcing Texans into long drives and more time in order to get a mandatory ID.  This is a double burden for those with no vehicles or access to public transportation.

 

  • According to testimony and studies, long lines and frustrating waits at DPS, and three or four hour waits aren’t out of the norm.  “I.D. Bill” also doesn’t take into account proposed massive budget cuts, which will further increase over-tasked DPS employees.

2011 State of the Union Address: A Humble Summary

In POLITICS TODAY on January 25, 2011 at 9:09 pm

Maurice E. Duhon, Jr.

Tuesday, 1/25/11

President Barack Obama walked into the House chamber and traded “happy” handshakes with the many attendees of our nation’s State of the Union address.  After recognizing the House’s newly recognized Speaker John Boehner, President Obama then recognized the seat that remained empty in the House chamber.  He was of course referencing the Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (Arizona), who suffered a near fatal gunshot wound to the head earlier this month and is now undergoing medical rehabilitation in Houston, TX. 

With Vice-President Joe Biden looking over his right shoulder and Speaker John Boehner over his left, two political polar-opposites, President Obama would begin the 2011 State of the Union Address speaking of America’s need to out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world. President Obama referenced the Soviet’s Sputnik entering into outer space before the United States could make such possible.  He spoke of how that event sparked the government’s interest in realizing our children’s education would be a catalyst for our nation’s success.  Obama stated that the time we find ourselves in now is similar to the “Sputnik” times. 

The President stated we need to invest in clean energy systems and then confessed that he is willing to cut federal subsidies to oil companies, Speaker Boehner did not seem amused.  Obama moved into detail describing the solutions for our education system, including adding 100,000 new teachers, rewarding excellent teachers, not making excuses for under-performing teachers, and as for children winning science fairs and succeeding in school; we should cheer louder for their accomplishments than we cheer for the accomplishments of our favorite sports teams. 

The President’s attention then shifted to declaring that the issue of immigration should be discussed and debated with a sound solution to follow.  Quick jump to infra-structure, including our nation’s infra-structure’s “D-grade”, given to us by our own Civil Engineers.  Within 25 years, American should all have access to high speed rail lines, said Obama.  Obama described the parade of Washington lobbyists that influence an unfair American tax code.  Obama then stated he supports a simplified American tax code. 

President Obama then recognized that some have found the New Health care Act as unsatisfactory.  Obama then described the good and fair contents of the Health Care law and declared if Congress doesn’t like it then “fix it”, but do not destroy it.  Obama then says he supports a federal 5 year discretionary spending freeze…  The small applause that followed was feeble and awkward. 

The President’s next words included, reigning in our debt to allow investment for the future. “We can’t win the future with a government of the past”, said Obama.  The president spoke of the archaic make-up of our federal agencies whose structures needed remediation.  He stated that salmon in our country’s fresh water is handled by one federal agency, salmon in salt water is handled by another agency, and Obama then noted it gets really complicated once the salmon get smoked.  This well placed and crafted joke even forced Speaker Boehner into a semi-chuckle. 

Moving on, the president reassured America that Latinos, Hispanics, and Muslims are also American citizens and that our citizens in the Armed Forces need to be home, but we still have fighting to do.  Obama would then shift to foreign policy, including the continuation of the START Treaty, our integrity as seen from the eyes of our foreign allies, and even gave the United States credit for influencing the first diplomatic election to ever be held in Sudan, Africa. 

Reforming our schools, managing our deficit, and introducing new energy solutions will not be easy and of course we will fight about it, the President said, but we must work together for a solution.  A little bit of; “You can do it America.”  A dash of; “You are the best country on earth,” and there you have it, your 2011 State of the Union address.

2008-2009: U.S. Homelessness rose 3% and Foreclosures rose 20%; According to Recently Released Report

In POLITICS TODAY on January 13, 2011 at 12:48 pm

By Maurice E. Duhon, Jr.

Thursday, 1/13/11

In a report released Wednesday morning by the National Alliance to End Homelessness, a 3 percent rise is homelessness and a 20 percent increase in foreclosures from 2008 to 2009 both added to a 12 percent increase in the number of families who were forced to “double up” or move into the homes of their extended family and friends.

“We are seeing that, with a large percentage of families that enter the homeless system, their last previous address was doubled up with another family,” said Nan Roman, president of the National Alliance to End Homelessness. “So this obviously can be a precursor to homelessness, and the fact that it went up 12 percent in 2009 is obviously really alarming.”

Our country’s homeless population grew by another 20,000 people from 2008 to 2009, according to the NAEH report.  31 out of 50 US states saw an increase in their homeless counts while the homeless population in Louisiana nearly doubled.  The report suggested that 4 in 10 homeless people were found to be living on the street, in a car, or in another place not intended for human habitation.

President of the NAEH Nan Roman has stated that up until 2009, the number of homeless and families forced to double up had been decreasing since 2005, due in large part to a big push to improve the U.S. homeless assistance system by moving it away from band-aid strategies, such as shelters and soup kitchens, and more toward lasting solutions. But even improvements in the system could not overcome the double whammy effect of lingering unemployment and high housing costs on the working poor.

A major problem facing these “doubled-up” families is that they are currently not eligible for federal assistance through the primary homeless housing programs.

A bill introduced to Congress by Rep. Judy Biggert (R-Ill.) last week, The Homeless Children and Youth Act, would expand the definition of “homeless” and how it currently applies to the Department of Housing and Urban Development.  This is being done in hopes that more children living doubled up and in hotels would be eligible for its homeless assistance programs.

“During the 2008-2009 school year, over 72 percent or approximately 956,914 children and youth who were identified as homeless by the Department of Education did not qualify for housing support under HUD’s current definition,” said Biggert’s office in a release.

“So far, federal assistance has been inadequate to meet the needs of homeless and doubled-up families”, said Maria Foscarinis, executive director of the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty.

“It is time for our lawmakers, and the public, to treat homelessness like the human rights crisis it is,” she said. “In the new Congress, rather than cutting safety net funds, we must focus on adding more funding for homelessness prevention and rapid re-housing.”

Tom DeLay, Former House Majority Leader Receives Three-Year Prison Sentence

In CONTROVERSY on January 11, 2011 at 1:50 am

By: Maurice E. Duhon, Jr.

Tuesday, 1/11/11

Former House Majority Leader Tom “The Hammer” DeLay (R-Texas) was the recipient of a three-year prison sentence this week.

The once powerful lawmaker was convicted in November on charges of money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering.  In 2005, Delay was forced to step down as majority leader after he was indicted on charges brought from the Texas state level.

Delay is appealing his conviction, but the sentencing most likely will provide some sense of discomfort for the once feared and powerful politician.  In the peak of his power, DeLay managed to champion and macro-manage the openly and loudly protested total re-districting of Texas Congressional districts.

Delay faced up to life in prison for these serious charges.  State Judge Pat Priest sentenced DeLay to a three-year term on conspiracy, and then accepted 10 years of probation in lieu of a five-year prison term on the money laundering charge.  Basically this translates to three years and maybe even less time to be served, provided DeLay behaves himself while he’s in “the slammer”.

DeLay claims he always attempted to follow the law and continues to proclaim he is innocent of all charges brought against him.

DeLay will be released on a $10,000 bond while he plans his appeal.

The case originated with prosecutors claiming that the Texas Republican and his political allies violated Texas state election law by illegally funneling “soft money” in 2002 state legislative races.

Soft Money: Contributions are sometimes called “nonfederal” contributions because they are given to political parties for purposes other than supporting candidates for federal office. Unlike “hard money” contributions, there are no limits on the amounts of soft money that can be given by individuals to political parties. Moreover, while labor unions and corporations are prohibited from giving money to candidates for federal office, they can give soft money to parties. (thisnation.com)

Under the FEC Act, money given directly to candidates for federal elective office is known as “hard money” and is strictly regulated. Money given directly to political parties for the purpose of supporting candidates for federal office is also regulated “hard money.” (thisnation.com)

In September of 2002 Tom DeLay and Texans for a Republican Majority (TRMPAC), an organization founded by DeLay, donated $190,000 to the Republican National State Elections Committee, which is closely affiliated with  the Republican National Committee.

TRMPAC made the donation to the elections committee in the form of “soft money” and the elections committee then donated that same amount in “hard money” to the Texas republican candidates.

Texas republicans would then seize control of the state legislature that year for the first time since Reconstruction and would promptly get to work redrawing a number of congressional districts that were held by democrats. This controversial move allowed the strategic electoral removal of a handful of these Congressional democrats and helped cement DeLay’s power in the House.

State Revenues are at Lowest Level Since U.S. Began Keeping State Revenue Records

In POLITICS TODAY on January 6, 2011 at 6:25 pm

By Maurice E. Duhon, Jr.

Thursday, 12/6/11

The Census Bureau has stated its recently collected data and statistics reflect the most dramatic drop in state revenue amounts since 1951, the year the US Census began recording state revenue data.

A total $477 billion drop in “insurance trust revenue” – mostly money from pension funds, while tax collections fell by $66 billion, states reported.

In an interview with The Washington Post, Nicholas Johnson the director of the state fiscal project at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities stated Fiscal 2012 “will actually be the most difficult budget year for states ever”.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reported last month that states will see budget shortfalls totaling more than $140 billion next year as they continue to wrestle with depressed revenue levels while federal stimulus dollars and reserves run out.

In 2009 states suffered record-breaking losses to their pension funds and in their tax revenues, as the recession wreaked havoc on payrolls and investments.

Revenues plummeted by 30.8 percent, from $1.6 trillion in 2008 to $1.1 trillion in 2009, according to the report.

 

Can’t Judge a Book by its Cover; Also True With Homeless People

In Uncategorized on January 5, 2011 at 3:16 pm

There is nothing for me to say or describe about the two videos posted below.  Enjoy the warmth that grows in your heart as you watch both of them.  If this story does not warm your heart, well then you’re a mean one Mr. Grinch.

 

Health Care Repeal to be the 1st Action of 112th US Congres

In POLITICS TODAY on January 5, 2011 at 5:39 am

By Maurice E. Duhon, Jr.

Wednesday, 12/5/11

So let it be written, so let it be done.  Your 112th United States Congress will begin conducting serious business today.  Hopefully all of the incoming freshman Congressmen and Congresswomen know where the Congressional restrooms are located and they’ve been given an informative tour of the on-site Congressional gym facilities, cafeteria, and barbershop.  Now, with these trivialities cast to the side, we can get down to the 112th Congress’ first objective of business to be conducted.

The envelope please…  The winner, in the category of “1st Priority & Objective of business to be conducted by these United States of America’s 112th Congress”, is…

The Repeal of the year-long debated and recently passed H.R.3590 – Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, scheduled to take effect in 2014.

By no means do I imply the newly passed health care law is perfect nor am I attempting to avoid informing you of the law’s inclusion of a federal mandate or, in this particular case I use the term loosely, “forcing” of the American people to purchase some form of corporate health care.

The new health care law sits in my political belly with the same discomfort as would a spoiled piece of meat or a glass of spoiled milk, but I am forced to ponder whether the American people’s discomfort with the, for now, 2014 “sleeping” health care law outweighs the painful physical wounds and abrasions suffered by the American citizen in the form of a severe lack of employment and no new job creation.  Should an attempt to re-enter Washington’s endless health care debate to, once again, fight over what was and still is a corporate take-over of our nation’s health care system rightfully be our 112th Congress’ first action.

The 111th Congress failed to create our nation’s budget for 2011 before exiting office.  By hearing this fact and applying reason and rational thought, one should deduce any new public funding or fiscal decisions that were made during our 111th Congress will not be carried out or applied until a new Federal budget for 2011 is passed by our 112th Congress.  That simply means all legislative progress made in 2010 is and will be stagnate in process until the new budget is created and approved.

Maybe approving the 2011 Federal budget should have been the 112th Congress’ first action?  Unfortunately, approving the new 2011 budget would have thus approved funding for the inner-workings of preparation for the new health care law so technically the republicans would have supported funding for the very law they wish to repeal.

Due to a temporary halt in 2011 Federal funding, the fault of democrats and republicans, what child will not receive that book?  What road will not receive that repair?  What worker will be forced to furlough?  What patient will not receive that medical attention?

The health care law as it sits and sleeps is a quiet beast, imperfect in many ways, much like us.  It was created by our Congressional representatives in the midst of the most polluted and misinformed political discourse to be witnessed by our bronze Lady of Freedom whom stands atop our nation’s Capital dome.

The “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” and its calamity of existence exemplifies the outcome of a purposeful misinforming, a refusal of compromise, a soiling of Congressional integrity, and a massive and unjust corporate sponsored influence of our nation’s governmental bodies and their legislative actions.  The honorable Thomas Jefferson rolled over in his grave years ago.  Alexander Hamilton would have at least said, “Shame on you”, once or twice, maybe.

Before I am drowned in this depressing Shakespearean tragedy, that is today’s “American politics”, let me make what I am trying to say clear, simple, and plain.

The health care debate of 2009 happened.  It happened every day and every night.  The American people were able to attend their Town hall meetings, find their freedoms, and lose their voices.  With the passing of the “historic” health care bill into law we observed the Public-Option “Alka-Seltzer” out of existence in favor of a Federal mandate for health insurance purchase, pre-existing conditions are now “technically” a thing of the past, heath care corporations will receive loopholes and law avoidance opportunities, and corporate health providers will be drowned in a sea of new customers who are now forced to purchase their over-priced and unfair services.

My point remains mute, for I have yet to make myself and my point of conversation clear.  As with my life, there are many issues within the new health care law that I would like to change.  A person is not insane to look within themselves and recognize their activities and actions have a non-productive and destructive effect on their own life and those they are amongst.  The insanity begins with one’s recognition of having these destructive qualities and refusing to change them for the better.

When Congress begins today and the House majority republicans bring this issue of repealing the new health care law to the floor, it will be made official that in two years, two whole years, since our country’s current President assumed office, aside from the Bush Tax Cut extension (assuming the tax cuts were progress), our Congress has accomplished nothing, nada, zip, zilch, zero, a goose egg of change, if you will allow the term.

*That of course being said with this to follow as a disclaimer:

  • Don’t Ask Don’t Tell repeal was a monumental and historical political landmark for American Civil Rights.  It was also a common-sense issue that needed to be addressed years prior and everyday it shadowed our nation’s military it provided an injustice to a large number of American citizens and service men and women.
  • The START Treaty revisions (Nuclear Arms) Congress’ choice to ignore this international issue was inexcusable and depreciated or country’s foreign policy stance.  Each day the START Treaty lingered in limbo was a non-productive day for the dismantling of nuclear arms.

I truly support debating the new health care law, adding amendments to provide needed revisions, repairing its loopholes, and maybe even replacing it with a more worthy bill, but if in American politics two long years of woe and struggle for the American citizen produces only this unscrupulous mutation of a health care law; Who practicing a rational pattern of logic and thought would want to quickly re-enter this health care debate immediately upon arrival to Congress today and risk ignoring the imminent and threatening issues that the American people will be subjected to as they carry out their current daily lives?  Who would risk another two years of doing absolutely nothing?

We ignored our $13 trillion dollar debt to argue about health care.  Through tax incentives and tax havens we promote the corporate outsourcing of American jobs while we argue about health care.  Unjust foreclosures on homes and mortgages cast American families into the streets and our Social Security program is tampered with while we argue about health care.  When we are all uneducated, jobless, and homeless will we still wish to argue about healthcare?

If you must repeal the new health care law and cancel its existence then repeal it after you introduce a jobs solution.  Repeal the law and all its wretchedness once you have brought forth a proper revised tax policy.  Repeal the new health care law, rescind it, revoke it, renounce it, render it obsolete, enforce it to be no more but do so only after you have tended to the matters of extreme importance that, in the two years of your Congressional boondoggle, have severely affected the wellbeing of the hard working and ever so patient American people.

Health care Repeal will be introduced to the floor of Congress today.  This of course was a republican campaign promise and will set up the symbolic “republicans vs. Obama” fight some seem to drool over.  The republicans have simply shown that the plight of the American people will be placed on the back burner to allow a showdown with President Barack Obama over what some may call his signature domestic policy achievement.

According to Majority Leader-elect Eric Cantor (R-Va.) the bill posted Monday, the Rules Committee meets Thursday, and the rule for the debate is to be considered on the House floor Friday with the repeal vote to follow on Wednesday, Jan 12.

Who told you things move slowly in Washington?  As you can see you were sorely mistaken.

In an attempt to link the repeal effort to job creation, Republicans have named the bill “Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act” (Congressional maturity at its finest).

Democrats maintain a control of the Senate and the President can veto the repeal legislation.  The democrat majority in the Senate have already vowed to strike down the bill so in layman’s terms that translates to this whole process being merely symbolic and a total waste of the American tax payers’ money and time.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) stated, “With the evidence showing that health reform is helping our economy, I can only imagine that Republicans are trying to appease the extremist elements who have taken over their party. I expect cooler heads will prevail in the Senate.”

Monday, in a letter to House Speaker-elect John Boehner (R-Ohio) the Senate democratic leadership detailed the benefits that would be lost if Republicans succeeded in repealing the law, such as closing the “doughnut hole” in the Medicare prescription drug benefit for senior citizens.

“This is no minor reform. But almost as soon as it has taken effect, it is already in jeopardy,” the letter stated.

The ideological disconnect and gaping void of miscommunication that separates the American people from our duly elected political representatives continues to grow larger as the days come and go.  Once loud enough to shake the world and literally bring walls tumbling down, if not already silenced, the American voice is now just a faint inaudible tone unrecognized by Congressional, Senatorial, and Presidential frequencies.

Your Payroll Tax Holiday is No “Walk on the Beach”

In POLITICS TODAY on January 4, 2011 at 3:12 am

By Maurice E. Duhon, Jr.

So many dots... So little time.

Tuesday, 12/4/11

Well 2011 is upon us and if the 2011 Payroll Tax holiday affects your paycheck’s figures then I honestly hope you take full advantage of the “extra dough” in your pocket or purse.  Just make sure you keep in mind the extra money you may be receiving due to this “holiday” was originally meant to continue to be stored away in a Social Security trust account specifically meant for safeguarding your Social Security funds until you may need them later in your life.  Sure you will get a small boost in pay, emphasis on small, but politicians have failed to inform the masses that it is the Payroll Tax that funds the tax payers Social Security Trust.  The Politicians also failed to mention that this “holiday” is our government’s first recorded case of altering our Social Security system. 

The current political spectrum includes many Washington voices that are quick to volunteer a dismantling of our Social Security program in order to contribute a “quick fix” for the debate concerning our nation’s debt.  The US Social Security program is funded for the people, by the people, and was designed to be self-sufficient.  It is a government program that has a surplus, yes a surplus.  It is a government program that has brought dignity and decency to the lives of older Americans.  It is a government program that both republicans and democrats will bicker, squabble, even conspire over all year and come November they will all tell you they would never want to take it away from you.  Once the cameras and voice recorders have exited, they’ll return to legislatively “eating away” at one of our governments only efficient and self-funded programs.  Unfortunately the answer is simple.  The term “government program”, in today’s political climate, allows Social Security to be scapegoated into being seen as a burden on our nation’s debt while in reality it remains as solid as it was the year it was founded.

Democrats and republicans, mostly republicans, have shown deep interest in altering or phasing out the program.  President Obama’s deficit commission seems to be in favor of deep benefit cuts, in particular a sharp rise in the retirement age.

The main Congressional and Senate proponents of Social Security cuts claim their efforts are genuine and have been bought about through fears for the program’s financial future.  Since Social Security has its own funding via the Payroll tax (FICA) and the program has been running surpluses for the last 25 years, banking those surpluses in a special loosely termed “trust fund”, one is hard-pressed to give actual data that supports the Social Security program’s status of being supposedly “in danger”.

Without any hard facts to stand upon, these politicians who wish to see your Social Security become a thing of the past will be unable to affect current retirees and those soon to retire.  They did however achieve a small victory for this subtle yet powerful violation that was forcefully thrust upon our Social Security policy and referred to as the “Payroll Tax holiday”.  This “small win” will encourage these political figures to propose cutting benefits to future retirees and maybe even a gradual phasing out of the program all together.  I am not over-reacting.

By law, the retirement age will be raised to 67 and there is already news out of Washington stating some in our nation’s capital would like to see a rise of the retirement age to 70.  Supporters of this idea are quick to note the rise in life expectancy we have witnessed in our country.  What they fail to mention is the fact that this rise is true in more affluent and “well to-do” lifestyles, those who need Social Security the least.  Those engaging in manual labor, those whose lives are an everyday struggle whether physically or mentally do not have the pleasure of being entitled to a greener pasture. 

For some, the Social Security program will be and is the only support system they will have in the later years of their life.  Not only is this a just and rightful program, it is a just and rightful program that the American people have paid for themselves and no one, but the American people will hold the right to chip or strike at its foundation.  The question that must be asked…  When your Congressman or Congresswoman speaks, is it the people’s voice that is heard?

US Secretary of Education is Ready to reform ‘No Child Left Behind”. Will Congress Agree?

In POLITICS TODAY on January 3, 2011 at 4:31 pm

By Maurice E. Duhon, Jr.

Monday, 12/3/11

In an op-ed published Monday in the Washington Post, US Education Secretary Arne Duncan shared his views concerning the potential common ground he believes republicans and democrats can share when it comes to updating the law that funds elementary and secondary schools.

“Few areas are more suited for bipartisan action than education reform,” Duncan wrote.

He continued on to say democrats and republicans both see problems with our No Child Left Behind Act of 2011.  The US Secretary of Education also stated it is this shared dissatisfaction for No Child Left Behind that should be used to build new legislation regarding our public school system.

Duncan supports a possible consensus in areas concerning “flexibility and fairness” in accountability policies, more spending on teachers and principals and new ways to help at-risk schools and students.

“No one likes how NCLB labels schools as failures, even when they are making broad gains,” nor that the law includes federal mandates that may not be right for all schools. Stakeholders worry that the law “is driving some educators to teach to the test instead of providing a well-rounded education,” Duncan wrote.

Statistics regarding the United States Public School System:

  • HISD 7th largest School District (14,000 total)

 

  • Sam Houston High School (Houston, TX): Lowest performing campus in the state of Texas.

 

  • High School Drop-Outs are 8 times more likely to go to prison.

 

  • 82% of prison inmates are high school drop-outs.

 

  • USA ranks 18th concerning industrialized country graduation rates.



Oil on the Horizon

In POLITICS TODAY on January 3, 2011 at 6:20 am

By Maurice E. Duhon, Jr.

Monday, 1/3/11

Some experts believe current oil price activities are leaning towards $100 a barrel status for the warmer months of 2011.  This could mean, in certain parts of the US, $4 a gallon prices at the pump this summer.  The experts cite a global economic rebound that sent prices surging 34 percent since May.

The United States remains the world’s largest oil consumer but doesn’t hold all the blame for the hike in prices.  The rising demand for oil in developing countries, especially China, has been deemed the most likely reason for the rise in the black crude’s worth.  Compared with the United States’ projected growth forecast of 1%, China’s oil consumption is expected to rise 5% next year.

The New York Mercantile Exchange witnessed standard oil prices enter into 2011 at $91.38 per barrel. Before closing out 2010 the NYME would see prices reach $92.06, the highest price for oil per barrel since Oct. 6, 2008. The American people are, on average, seeing a price of $3.072 per gallon.

Gasoline expert Fred Rozell believes 15 states will see gasoline prices top $4 a gallon by Memorial Day. “A dollar more per gallon isn’t that much – probably about $750 more per year for each motorist, but there’s a psychological aspect to gas prices,” Rozell continues, “People are going to be up in arms about this.”

This massive oil demand has continued to fill the pockets of big business oil with substantial profits.  BP excluded, Exxon Mobil Corp., Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron Corp. and Total posted combined profits of $59.7 billion in the first nine months of the year, a 49% increase from the year before, as full year profits are expected to reach $81 billion.

Analysts speculate British Petroleum BP, held responsible for the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history and penalized $39.9 billion in charges related to the disaster, will still earn $20.2 billion in 2010 with exclusions towards special expenses like the Gulf of Mexico spill.

“There’s nothing this industry can’t survive,” Oppenheimer & Co. analyst Fadel Gheit.

With China’s oil demand on such a wave of consistency, The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is unlikely to raise output in order to lower the cost per barrel.  In 2008 oil supply pressures preceded the price spike that soared oil prices to $147 a barrel.

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