Top Of My Head

Thoughts on everything from Politics to Video Games

Tag: Government (page 1 of 4)

Justice Nominations and Senator Ron Johnson

United States Constitution Article II Section 2 Paragraph 2

He shall have power, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to make treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, judges of the Supreme Court, and all other officers of the United States, whose appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by law: but the Congress may by law vest the appointment of such inferior officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the courts of law, or in the heads of departments.

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died on February 13, 2016. Just over a month later, as is his right and duty granted by the United States Constitution, President Obama nominated Merrick Garland. And, our United State Senate voted on the nomination and confirmed Garland’s appointment to the Supreme Court. Oh, wait, the United States Senate has NOT confirmed Garland’s appointment to the Supreme Court. It is now the end of August and still, no vote.

Haven’t the American people waited long enough for a replacement for Justice Scalia?

We should be outraged that our duly elected officials are NOT doing their jobs. Unfortunately, our Founding Fathers didn’t anticipate this and put something in the Constitution to say what to do when the Senate refuses to do its job and vote on the President’s nominee. There is a clause about what happens if the Senate is in recess, the President can make the appointment.  But, not one word about the Senate not cooperating.  Not. One. Word.

“It’s just too highly politicized of an atmosphere. It’s not fair to the nominee, it’s not fair to the court. Don’t nominate anybody. That was our advice. President Obama didn’t follow it.” – Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI)

I’ll bet our Founding Fathers never thought, never even considered that we might have elected officials so obstinate that they wouldn’t vote on the President’s Supreme Court nominee.  I don’t have a problem with them not confirming – it happens.  I don’t have a problem with them holding hearings, we’ve been doing that my whole life and probably longer.  I do take serious issue with our Senate not doing their jobs.

Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) says he approves of this.  He tells his constituents that we don’t nominate and appoint Supreme Court Justices in election years.  Johnson said “It’s just too highly politicized of an atmosphere. It’s not fair to the nominee, it’s not fair to the court. Don’t nominate anybody. That was our advice. President Obama didn’t follow it.”1  (I should mention that in 1992, Joe Biden had the same idea. It was wrong then and it’s wrong now.)

This isn’t Senator Johnson’s only refusal to nominate a judge to a Federal Court. The US 7th District Court is still down a couple of judges and we have Ron Johnson to thank for it. He blocked the nomination of Victoria Nourse, who was nominated in 2010, before Johnson was even Senator. He said it wasn’t fair because he hadn’t been consulted. HE. WASN’T. THE. SENATOR.

Ron Johnson is up for reelection. We cannot in good conscience send this man back to Washington for another six years. These are not the only reasons not to reelect Johnson, they’re just my reasons today. I’ll have more as the election draws near.

1.Wisconsin Watchdog article...2/6/2016

The Moron’s Case for Hillary Clinton by The Contrarian Blog

This is NOT mine and I highly recommend that you follow this blog. Do yourself a favor. This is well written and factual. It cuts the crap you see in most blogs.

This blog about why you should vote for Hillary and how Donald Trump isn’t even in her same class is amazing.  Well written, concise, and full of ammunition for your consideration when you have a chance to debate Trump supporters.

Here is just a sample…

An old colleague and I were having breakfast this morning when he looked up at the news (I can’t remember which network …MSNBC, I think) and noticed a split screen of Donald Trump and Hillary Clint…

Source: The Moron’s Case For Hillary Clinton…because some of you really are that stupid.

Donald Trump – Time for him to Go

I’ve been steaming about Donald Trump ever since he said that John McCain isn’t a war hero.  He claims that nobody was insulted, well, I was insulted.  I’ve always thought of Donald Trump as nothing but a blowhard with more money than sense and, with his campaign for President, he’s proving me correct.  With even non-Republican friends saying things like, “I admire his honesty”, I thought I should write this blog to add some facts into Trump’s veneer.

While John McCain was flying missions over Vietnam and a POW,  Donald Trump was using Daddy’s money and government deferments to attend Fordham University and, then the University of Pennsylvania.  Once Trump graduated, he had a job at his father’s real estate company waiting for him and $200,000 in his pocket, according to a Washington Post article.  Trump makes himself out to be a self-made man, but the truth is – he didn’t do this all on his own.

Hell, all of us could be rich if we started with family connections and $200,000 in our pocket.  He isn’t someone to be admired.  People who should be admired are the ones who started with nothing and rose to the top of the heap.  People like Kenny Troutt (the founder of Excel Communications), Ralph Lauren (founder of Polo), Larry Ellison (Oracle founder), Oprah (like I have to tell you), Ursula Burns (CEO of Xerox), and John Paul Dejoria (co-founder of John Paul Mitchell) are the people to be admired.  Each one of them started from the very bottom and they worked their way up into Billionaire status and (as far as I know), unlike Trump, not a bankruptcy among them.

It’s time to relegate Trump and the blowhards like him to the ignore zone.  We shouldn’t be putting boys like him on pedestals and walking around clamoring like he’s worth our time.  His comments regarding immigrants from Mexico pander to the lowest of Americans, whom we should really leave behind.  Racists have no place in American society and, if Donald Trump wants to be their leader, let him do it outside of the view of TV cameras.

 

FCC and Net Neutrality

I sent the following to the FCC about Net Neutrality.  I encourage everyone to pass this around and encourage letters to the FCC to keep Net Neutrality going. Click here to contact the FCC.

Protecting the neutrality of the Internet is the biggest First Amendment issue facing us today. I am a blogger. Without Net Neutrality, Internet providers can make it difficult to find my site. They can charge me extra to guarantee a lane from a reader’s home into my site. I pay an Internet fee to my broadband provider. I pay another fee to have my site hosted. Without Net Neutrality, Comcast, Time Warner, Verizon could all demand that I pay them a fee to allow traffic through. This will end the ability for new ideas to be fostered. A large company could essentially pay to kill a news story, simply by out paying for traffic.

Further, from a consumer standpoint, killing Net Neutrality means that small Mom and Pop shops will not be able to compete with larger, well funded stores. Traffic can be slowed, delayed or even re-routed entirely because a small consumer store will not be able to pay extra fees. This kills competition and innovation.

Finally, Internet access is very much like phone access. By disabling Net Neutrality, you are allowing companies to decide where and who their customers see and talk to. Imagine if this was the phone company. AT&T cannot prevent their customer from calling a Verizon customer. In reverse, Verizon cannot block calls to their customers from AT&T customers. Without Net Neutrality, that’s exactly what these companies can and will do. They already skirt the issue by making their customers pay more for faster service – imagine what they will do when they can become the traffic cops of data and information.

Sincerely,

 

Left, Wrong and the Internet: Early Morning Ramblings

I love the Internet.  I love technology.  That said, I think the Internet – for all the good – has a dark side.

We’re not anymore divided in this country than we were back when brother raised arms against brother, but thanks to the Internet; it sure feels that way.  To paraphrase Mark Twain, a lie can travel the email boxes of the world before the truth can boot the computer. (And, actually, to say that’s Mark Twain’s quote might not even be true – it might be Baptist preacher Charles Haddon Spurgeon.)

And, speaking of lies, it is amazing to me how someone will believe the lie of an email rather than believe the actually fact.  And, it seems as if people want to believe the lie.  Further, at least in my life and my experience, these people are on the right.

For example, I don’t care who sent you the email, George Soros doesn’t own nor is he affiliated with Snopes.com.  But, since this information from about Snopes is from Snopes, I’m guessing those on the right won’t believe it.

Oh and another thing:  The media, with some exceptions, is a tool of the left.  Fox News and the right may want you to believe that, but it simply isn’t true.  The media, again with some exceptions, is a business.  Businesses like to make money and whatever ups the ratings or sells newspapers is what’s going to be printed.  Don’t believe me, check out the ads for your local news.  Go ahead – it’s all:  Water – is it going to kill you or The danger lurking in your kitchen.  It’s designed to get you to watch.  Sometimes, you might get the full story, but most of the time you don’t.  And, radio news is just as bad (if not worse) than TV news.  I happen to have a long commute and no matter which station I listen to in the morning, that station will have the news on 3 or 4 times.  And, it’s always the same stories.

And, who owns the media?

Well, The Disney Company owns ABC, so they might lean a little to the left. Comcast owns NBC. Clear Channel owns 850 radio stations.

Our media, which translates into our news and information, is slowly being owned by less and less companies. In other words, more stations are being owned by the same company.

And, don’t even get me started on the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which was supposed to deregulate Cable and lower our rates (seen your rates drop? Anybody?) and it allowed companies to own more and more stations. There was a limit before.

Anyway, even for a rambling post, I’m getting off track.

I’d like to bring up Trayvon Martin – I know, I know, you’re all sick about the subject and your tired from all of the coverage, but I fought with my father about this yesterday and it’s on my mind.

  1. I’ve made this statement before and I’m making it again:  Once George Zimmerman left the safety of his vehicle (after being told by police not to do so), it wasn’t self-defense.  Once he approached Martin, he was taking the law into his own hands and whatever transpired after that made him a murderer.  And, that’s why stand your ground laws are dangerous, because the victim is no longer here.
  2. The picture of Trayvon Martin with tons of tattoos?  It’s not him.  And, the blatant lie of him flipping off the camera?  That’s a Trayvon Martin, but not THE Trayvon Martin.  Check out Snopes.
  3. I don’t care what Martin was doing that night.  I don’t care what he did in his young life before that night.  I don’t care if the kid was flunking out of high score and planning on scoring some drugs that night.  I don’t know if any of that is true and I don’t care.  He had a right to be on that sidewalk and he had the right to not have someone without any legal authority stop and question him.  It doesn’t matter that Zimmerman thought he had some right or was justified – he wasn’t.  Follow me in your vehicle at night and then approach me?  You might be the one down on the sidewalk looking up at the stars.  Pull a gun on me in some sort of “self-defense” and be prepared to die.
  4. Personally, I think Zimmerman deserves vigilante justice.  He stalked and hunted Trayvon Martin; he should only get the same.  And, it’s amazing how right wing people are offended by that.  They think that’s horrible.  How could I possibly feel that way? I feel that way because I believe in an eye for an eye.  Zimmerman totally disregarded Martin’s rights by approaching him.  Zimmerman knew he had a gun.  He knew the police were on their way.  He knew he was safe and then he got out of the car.  I think the real justice will be the fact that Zimmerman for the rest of his life will have to look over his shoulder to make sure he’s not being attacked.

As much as I would like to continue my ramblings (and, I never did reach my original point), I have to get going and head to work. I know, a liberal who works for a living! Imagine that! No government aid! It must be some leftist, Marxist, fascist, Communist conspiracy!

Being Anti-Union Equals Anti-Worker

In nearly every single argument regarding Unions I receive two responses:

  • Unions did a lot, but we don’t need them now.
  • Unions protect bad workers, so we don’t need them.

I find both of these arguments ridiculous and let me tell you why.

Unions protect bad workers, so we don’t need them.

I have had a lot of jobs in my lifetime and I have never belonged to a Union.  At a lot of my jobs, I have sat next to or worked with someone who to put it bluntly sucked at their job.  They either didn’t work very hard (or, as hard as I think they should) or they were difficult and some we’re so busy holding on to knowledge that they actually hindered the work of the people around them.  Some people in this world are lazy.  This isn’t an opinion – it is an observable fact.  Some people rise as far as they can on the food chain and then stop putting in the effort – in other words – they just do what they need to do to get by and that’s it.

But, to say that Unions protect bad workers as a reason to not have a Union means that you’ve never experienced how bad workers are protected every day.  I once worked with a woman that was so bad that I wondered if she had pictures of our boss dancing naked at a pool party because nothing ever happened to her.  I don’t know if he felt sorry for her or what, but she did as little as possible and when you asked her a question, you usually got a blank stare.  For the record, I hate blank stares and I hate pulling someone’s teeth to get an answer, so I become an non-team player and just go find the answer myself and refuse to work with people who don’t want to work with me.  Oh, I’m pleasant, but pretty much, I’m calling you a moron in my head.

We’re never going to eliminate bad workers, but eliminating protections for good workers just to punish the bad ones is a lousy idea.

Unions did a lot, but we don’t need them now.

I once had a job where I busted my butt.  I was the second one in (in a group of 35) and the last to leave at night.  I would stick around work writing reports until 6 or 7 after arriving in the office at 8 and skipping lunch or eating at my desk.  I received near perfect reviews, which should have translated into large raises, as you received a percent based on the five point scale you met (earn a score of 5, you received 5%, for example).  However; since I was at the top of the food chain for my wage group, I never received the top raise.  Never, not once.  And, before you say, “Well, Julie, that’s just one job.”  This has actually been at the last three jobs I’ve held.  It’s one of the reasons I move around – to get that wage I feel I deserve.

At one position, I was told by my boss that yes, I did a great job; but you’re overpaid, so I’m not giving you a raise.  That wouldn’t happen in a Union position.  There would be set rules to follow.  I’m all for merit pay, but it seems like merit pay means, bust your ass and we’re give you whatever we feel like giving you.

Now, I’m blessed in that I have a college degree and I work in a field that has more positions than available workers.  When I’m unhappy or feel unappreciated, I just send out my resume and, usually, within three months (sometimes more, sometimes less) I have a brand new job with a brand new higher salary.

However; most people aren’t blessed to have a skill or live in an area where their skill is in high demand.  They get what the market pays and when times are a little tough, they cut salaries of the workers.

Have you ever noticed that CEOs never take pay cuts?  CEOs always have health care.  CEOs have paid sick days and vacation days.  Why is that?  Have they worked harder than the rest of us?  Hardly.  Have they made the company more profitable or run better?  Only if they’ve laid off a bunch of people for the first one and not very likely for the second.  There’s a reason the CEO of your company doesn’t want the workers to join a Union.  And, it has NOTHING to do with “You shouldn’t have to join a Union to work here.”  When employees join together to negotiate salaries and benefits, all of the employees benefit: from the dishwasher up to the computer programmer or sales clerk.

Want some hard facts?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), “In 2012, among full-time wage and salary workers, union members had median usual weekly earnings of $943, while those who were not union members had median weekly earnings of $742.”  That’s a difference of $201.  Over the course of a year, the amount adds up to $10,452 more that the Union member earns.

Still think Unions are bad for you?

Indiana’s Unconstitutional Anti-Gay Law

According to Indiana law, which will take affect next July 1st, breaks the separation of church and state in a manner that is shocking:

IC 31-11-11-5
Solemnization of marriage in violation of this article
 Sec. 5. A person who:
(1) is authorized to solemnize marriages by IC 31-11-6; and
(2) solemnizes a marriage in violation of this article;
commits a Class C infraction.
As added by P.L.1-1997, SEC.3.

In other words, if you are legally capable of performing marriages in the State of Indiana and you perform a gay marriage, you commit a Class C infraction (“A person who commits a Class C misdemeanor shall be imprisoned for a fixed term of not more than sixty (60) days; in addition, he may be fined not more than five hundred dollars.*“)  Really? And, two sections down, there’s this:

IC 31-11-11-7
Solemnization of marriage between persons prohibited from marrying
Sec. 7. A person who knowingly solemnizes a marriage of individuals who are prohibited from marrying by IC 31-11-1 commits a Class B misdemeanor.
As added by P.L.1-1997, SEC.3.

If you perform a gay marriage, you commit a Class B misdemeanor, which can result in 180 days in jail and a $1000 fine*. I’d like to mention that this is not only against the Constitution of the United States of America – it is, also, hypocritical. One of the right-wing arguments against gay marriage is that it is against their religion (which isn’t true).  But, if they believe in religious freedom, how can they possibly support a law that restricts religious freedom?

Oh, who am I kidding?  Anti-Gay people would give up their own freedom in order to harm gay people.  They’re truly crazy!

Obamacare and unAmerican Companies

Here’s a quick, yet truthful thought.  Every large company that is announcing cutting employees’ hours to avoid paying healthcare for them isn’t a company that should be held up in esteem.  It is a company who should be avoided as much as possible and derided for being unAmerican.

It is time the profit hogging corporate types and Wall Street bozos start taking care of business and the American Worker.  You break your back for forty years, do you get a pension?  Hell no, you probably don’t even get a watch.  You get a 401K that isn’t worth shit if the banks and Wall Street screw with the economoy, like they did in the run up to the crash of 2008.

Our health care system needs  a lot of changes.  We spend more than nearly every other developed country and, yet, we’re sicker than ever.  Part of this is that we don’t take care of ourselves and part of it is that companies don’t take care of employees.

I have healthcare.  I happen to have a skill set that will remain in demand probably until the day I die and beyond.  I am blessed because of this.  Many people – in fact, the majority of people – are not blest as I am.  I will not have to worry about health care, because I’ll never have to work for a company that doesn’t offer it.  Even when I worked as a contractor, because of my earning power and salary, I was offered health care paid for by the company – that doesn’t happen often in contracting jobs.

Don’t blame President Obama for forcing companies to do what they should’ve been doing all along.  The CEO has health care.  The President of the company has health care.  So should the workers on the floor who actually perform the duties that keep the company going.

The Republicans don’t understand this.

Fox News doesn’t understand this.

The people in the red states don’t understand this.

We do the work, we should reap the benefits.  The guy on top – he didn’t dig that ditch, put that car together, bake that pizza – the guy on top is receiving the big salary made possible by YOUR hard work.

Don’t forget that.

Gay Marriage: The Real Inequality

Last week, the US Supreme Court ruled that DOMA was unconstitutional.  That means that gay people in states that recognize or have gay marriage will have their marriages recognized.  This is good – for them.

For those of us who are gay, in non-legally recognized marriages and living in the wrong states, nothing has changed.  We still do not have the right to inheritance, hospital visitations and joint income tax returns.  It, also, means we don’t have the responsibilities and protections that marriage offers.

There are legal ways around this.  My wife and I have registered as Domestic Partners, so we have some of these rights.  And, prior to Domestic Partnerships being legal in my state, we had signed power of attorneys for health and legal matters.

BUT…

What we can’t do is file a marriage, filing jointly income tax return.  And, this is what burns my butt.

By myself, I will pay $12,260 in Federal Income Taxes in 2013.  My wife (who earns less than I do) will pay $2,978.  Together, that’s $15,238.  (This is based on the IRS Withholding Calculator.)  Using the same calculator, I calculated what we would owe if we could file as a married filing jointly couple and the amount is $13,901.  That’s $1,337 less than what we’re separately paying now.

I don’t think I’m receiving $1,337 in extra Federal Benefits, do you?  What am I getting for this money?  Why is MY marriage not recognize by the Federal government because a bunch of bigots didn’t want gay marriage nine years ago – and they won. (By cheating, the question was worded so that yes meant against gay marriage and no meant for gay marriage.  I can’t tell you the number of my friends who were happy it passed, because they couldn’t figure out the difference.)

In any case, we have a long way to go.

A Little Truth Goes A Long Way.

Who tells the truth the most often?  Who gets it right?  Check out the image below.

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