Republicans Continue To Play Politics, Point Fingers

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Posted on 26th May 2010 by Ben Krasner in In The News | Politics - U.S. National

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Republicans seem to have no trouble finding a microphone to spew rhetoric into and yet another example of that appeared today in a article about President Obama privately (okay maybe not too privately, apparently) telling members of his team and BP officials to “Plug the damn hole!” with regards to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  Missouri Republican Representative Roy Blunt said in a statement, “[the government's] lack of contingency planning for this kind of catastrophe should be a wake up call.”  He went on with, “The American people expect better from the federal government.”

My problem here is simply that it is abundantly clear Republicans are trying desperately to make this disaster in the Gulf a parallel to that of hurricane Katrina and the sluggish response by then President Bush and his team of folks that has me wanting to use the term ‘retarded’ here because of the words actual definition (slow, hindered, etc).  In reality, the differences between the two responses have been as clear as comparing night and day, but Republicans believe (and unfortunately, might be correct) that if they just keep pounding away at the microphones that are available everywhere to speak into they will eventually win over enough ears of the sheep that believe just about everything they read.

If the current President of the United States were a Republican and his cabinet were a full stock of ‘pubs as well, and the response to this grave problem in the gulf were exactly the same, Republican members of the House and Senate would be lauding the efforts as tremendous and superior of that of what transpired following Katrina – I have no doubt about that whatsoever.  Yet, here we are, listening to ‘pubs labeling the entire effort as substandard – as if there is some precedent for this accident, some standard for attending to what has happened, here.  Notice how you never hear new ideas or actions being proposed or taken by the ‘pubs, you only hear the need for “more” and “faster” – the easiest low-hanging press-ready fruit to pick on.

How much more can a government administration do in this instance than what has been done so far and what continues to happen?  The government is about policy, money, military assets and influential pressure.   They are not about drilling rigs and oil clean-up and the know-how to correct every problem any company might have on a public scale.  (Isn’t this very argument that was used by Republicans AGAINST the government rescue and management of GM?)  And what do we see aimed at the gulf right now?  There’s money, ships, scientists and “experts”, regulation, policing and natural resource research at every turn, not to mention an incredible amount of pressure being placed on BP to correct the situation – who technically didn’t even cause the accident at all, but is the only company with the resources to handle the aftermath and who, in fact, is responsible for the mess since the oil coming out of the well drilled by Transocean is owned by BP.  The response was pretty much immediate and was heightened at every turn of the process in accordance with new findings and new information that the government’s own resources were uncovering.

This is the kind of junk that often makes people just tune out politics and politicians and claim that the whole system is worthless.  People don’t want to hear tit-for-tat, they want action and benefits.  Actions will always speak louder than words, even if the media is super-penetrating and our eyes over-saturated with “news” and pundits railing about that which ails only their special interest.  If a ‘pub really had a problem with the way things have unfolded they would simply ACT and raise Cain within the confines of the committees and cabinets that actually produce actions and benefits for the situation and for those being affected by this mess.  So far we are seeing nothing … but we are hearing a lot.

Please, shut up and do your job as an elected official.  We’ll all be better for it.

SEC Staffers Caught Watching Porn While System Crashed

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Posted on 23rd April 2010 by Ben Krasner in Day to Day Goodies | In The News | Politics - U.S. National

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By: AP

Via: @

Senior staffers at the Securities and Exchange Commission spent hours surfing pornographic websites on government-issued computers while they were being paid to police the financial system, an agency watchdog says.

The SEC’s inspector general conducted 33 probes of employees looking at explicit images in the past five years, according to a memo obtained by The Associated Press.

The memo says 31 of those probes occurred in the 2 1/2 years since the financial system teetered and nearly crashed.

The staffers’ behavior violated government-wide ethics rules, it says.

It was written by SEC Inspector General David Kotz in response to a request from Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa.

The memo was first reported Thursday evening by ABC News. It summarizes past inspector general probes and reports some shocking findings:

  • A senior attorney at the SEC’s Washington headquarters spent up to eight hours a day looking at and downloading pornography. When he ran out of hard drive space, he burned the files to CDs or DVDs, which he kept in boxes around his office. He agreed to resign, an earlier watchdog report said.
  • An accountant was blocked more than 16,000 times in a month from visiting websites classified as “Sex” or “Pornography.” Yet he still managed to amass a collection of “very graphic” material on his hard drive by using Google images to bypass the SEC’s internal filter, according to an earlier report from the inspector general. The accountant refused to testify in his defense, and received a 14-day suspension.
  • Seventeen of the employees were “at a senior level,” earning salaries of up to $222,418.
  • The number of cases jumped from two in 2007 to 16 in 2008. The cracks in the financial system emerged in mid-2007 and spread into full-blown panic by the fall of 2008.

Read the rest of “SEC Staffers Watched Porn as System Crashed” @

Jim Bunning – Causing Ruckus On Jobs Issues

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Posted on 1st March 2010 by Ben Krasner in Politics - U.S. National

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Is Bunning just being a headache?  Or is he correct in being  financially responsible?
Many feel Jim Bunning is being nothing more than a headache for Democrats in Washington, D.C.

It seems Jim Bunning is back in the news for a couple of his efforts over the past week.  Democrats publicly ripped Bunning for blocking a heavily followed bill dealing largely with the proposed extension of federal unemployment benefits and the Department of Transportation is none-too-pleased with him, either.

Working on emotionally charged issues – as saving or creating jobs and unemployment benefits certainly are these days – Bunning single-handedly threw a filibuster into the works (what else is new from the GOP in Washington) to block a bill which would have both extended federal unemployment benefits and provide a short-term extension of the Highway Trust Fund which was set up to pay for projects around the country.  As a result of the bill not passing, more than a million of the unemployed will be losing their federal unemployment benefits this month and up to 2,000 employees at the Transportation Department will be sent home without pay due to insufficient funding on projects.

In his defense, let me point out that Bunning’s one and only objection to the bill is the funding issue itself.  This is a good thing and something that no politician should ever be put on trial for… I believe the item that has most people hot under the collar is purely the timing of the effort.  Now that “pay as you go” has become a key phrase in recent politics, Bunning, who is retiring at the end of the year, is likely looking to go out to pasture in noble fashion (like most politicians try to do) by finally showing that  Republicans are interested in appropriate finance and budgeting.  This is a great time to start, after all… while the Democrats hold control and are trying to push bills through quicker than a quarter mile in the movie ‘The Fast and the Furious”.  NOW the republicans wise up – convenient.

So the question is simply this: is this decision to block this bill in balance?  What we have is a bill that about 1.2 – 1.4 million people are relying on to either bridge the gap until they can (or want to) secure employment or to stay afloat for a while longer along with an unknown amount of people involved with the construction projects that are now put on hold and who may need to be added to the unemployment circuit.  The cost attached to this bill is $10 billion.  Doing quick math we’re talking about $8,333 for each of the 1.2 million (using the lower number) people on the unemployment chopping block, and that number does NOT include the funding for the DOT projects that is a part of the bill.

Does that seem to be at all in balance?  We’re not talking about a couple pet projects, here, we’re talking about people – somewhere between a million and 1.5 million individuals.  If you’re still teetering on the edge of that decision, consider the sunk costs (what we’ve already spent, in essence) of the stimulus as a whole.  I know that when you’re budgeting and planning you’re never supposed to be looking at sunk costs, but I find them relevant when we’re talking about people – not just capital investment and marketing.  So while I give a golf clap of applause to Bunning for trying to play ball the right way on his way out the door, I think we need to take another look at what we’re doing on the bills at hand.

My guess is Bunning is financially right, here, but has simply not been able to do HIS JOB as a politician in Washington; and that is convince people he’s right, rally them to his cause and find a solution.  There’s not much I can’t stand more than those who are unwilling to act to find a solution to problems staring them right in the face.  My guess is I’m not alone on that one, either, judging by the reaction around the web after this news broke.