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“Heads Will Blow Up” Over GOP Budget Amendments Proposed For Joint Finance

July 1, 2015

An informed source told Caffeinated Politics late Wednesday afternoon that amendments requested by Republicans for the final day of Joint Finance deliberations will make “heads blow up”. “It will be an early Fourth of July” when news of what is afoot becomes public on Thursday morning.

This news, given what has already occurred in the budget process, should make rational and educated citizens nervous.   There seems no limit to the conservative excesses this Republican controlled legislature wishes to engage.

More to come as developments occur.

“They Could Write Like Angels And Scheme Like Demons”

July 1, 2015


Several days ago I thought, with the Fourth of July approaching, that it would be fun to read a book about something associated with the Founding Fathers.  I went through my unread books and decided on A Magnificent Catastrophe by Edward Larson.   When I started it the first line jumped off the page and I had to stop and consider if it was not perhaps the best opening line to any book I had read.

“They could write like angels and scheme like demons.”

The book is simply perfect.   The excitement of the 1800 presidential election which proved to be a barn-burner of a race featured John Adam and Thomas Jefferson in the first of what would become partisan and party affiliated features of our nation every hour years.   It was such a hard fought and intense election that year Jefferson would refer to it as “America’s second revolution.”

America is front and center as the news of the French Revolution made for unease, high taxes and a standing army created angst, and the possibility of war with France created political tension.  At the heart of the campaign was President Adams and his elitist Federalists who seem to delight in shutting down those who freely published their ideas that ran counter to the official line.  In opposition was Jefferson with his radically democratizing Republicans.  The personalities are huge, and the stakes higher than anything the political world of our new country had before encountered.    Add to the mix Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr and readers are set for a pure donnybrook that unfolds in about 300 pages.

The political intrigue as to how electors were chosen in such key states as New York and Pennsylvania, is in and of itself, a book within a book.  President Washington may have thought party politics to be an unwise force to encourage but it is nearly impossible to not understand how the political party structure started and once organized never could be stopped.  It is also easy to see how a whole array of characters such as James Madison, John Jay, James Monroe, George Clinton, John Marshall, Horatio Gates, and even George Washington himself all made political moves that created tensions that resulted in parties that would then fight it out at the ballot box.

As with so many other book I love, it is due in part, to the incredible research that the author engaged in while pouring over diaries and letters of the principal players as well as accounts in the newspapers of that period.  When I wanted a book to read about the Founding Fathers there was no better choice for me this week than A Magnificent Catastrophe.  

Words Matter

June 30, 2015

Several days ago I posted about a UW professor who stated the Affordable Care bill was “slammed through” congress.   I pointed out that was not in any way a correct assessment of the facts concerning how the bill moved through the legislative process.  One might be for the bill, or opposed to the bill, but there is no way to not recognize how the process actually played out.

As someone who has worked in broadcasting and reported a fair share of news stories, handled press relations in a legislator’s office which included writing at least one press release each week I know one thing for certain. Words matter.

Tonight while reading a book about the 1800 election, A Magnificent Catastrophe, by Edward Larson a perfect example from the pages of history jump out to make yet another point about why this is true.

John Fries was a Revolutionary War officer who in 1799 organized and led about 400 farmers to protest the paying of federal taxes. He and many others were arrested. President Adams asked his cabinet members for their ideas about how to proceed with several key members of the group, including Fries. Every member stated that he should hang for his offenses.

But after some thinking for reasons that ranged far and wide as the 1800 election neared Adams decided the activity that Fries was engaged in was a “riot” and not an “insurrection”.  Fries’ life was spared with a presidential pardon.

Words matter.

My father came from a generation where a handshake and “your word” were as solid as a legal document. I felt the sting of words slurred at me in my growing up years in school. And I have felt the power of “I love you” as an adult.

Over the years I have rejected calling everyone a hero for showing up on time for a job and then falling victim to terrorism. I am not one who calls everyone a superstar for having a high-priced promoter and a single song in the top ten.   To be the best, a classic, The King, one-of-a-kind and any other such label is just another way to underscore that words matter in all parts of our life. Too often words are taken lightly, misused, and over time then ring hollow.

But for me it is most troubling when words are used to misrepresent facts that need to be understood by our nation when it comes to policy. With enough effort partisan spin can be placed on just about everything. The damage this causes our nation when words are used to erase facts, or to create a new version of events far removed from what actually occurred must never be allowed to stand.   The misuse of words needs to be called out.

Bigoted Donald Trump Perfect Problem For Republican Party

June 29, 2015

Anyone who watched only the snippets of Donald Trump’s announcement that he is now a presidential candidate for the Republican nomination knew he was aiming more for personal ego- stroking than anything serious politically. The guy is a nut.

But even nuts can cause damage. In this case, Trump damaged his party and himself.

With language that no one with any serious notion of being a candidate would ever make he went out of his way to insult Hispanics and Latinos. He disparaged people crossing the border as “bringing drugs… bringing crime… rapists,” to our nation. It was simply appalling.

In one harsh brush stroke Trump as a Republican candidate smeared 54 million people.   The GOP which has been trying to find a solution to the national electoral problem they have with these voters started to sweat. And rightly so.

Meanwhile the rest of us–which included huge swaths of the nation who are not Hispanic–sought a remedy.

Today we found it.

NBCUniversal cut all ties to the bigot with the God-awful hair. In case you want to know how he combs that mess check it out here.

The Miss USA pageant, scheduled for July 12, will no longer air on the network. Nor will the Miss Universe pageant, scheduled for next January. Both pageants were, until now, jointly owned by NBC and Trump.

Lets be honest about these shows. They have no where to go as no broadcast operation is willing to throw a lifeline to a bigot because there will be a severe backlash. (One can also make a clear line of reasoning why pageants are outdated and ridiculous.)  In others words the only person who thinks a piece of crap can be picked up from the clean end seems to be Trump, and it now seems like he is holding a bag of pure poo that no one wants.

The GOP deserves to have the problems that comes with Trump.  Too many of them have not divorced themselves from the anti-immigrant rants from the far-right crowd of angry white men.  They fail to understand how they are only assets to Democrats in national races.

Trump is an idiot and while the majority of the country understands that there will be just enough Republicans who keep his numbers afloat to make him a thorn for the GOP—a thorn that will not be forgotten in the general election.

Democrats could not have engineered a better mess for the Republican Party if they had tried.

Fourth Of July Flags–Part Four

June 29, 2015

There was no breeze to speak of during the day we had the Betsy Ross flag up–so the picture is not very impressive.  In fact, I waited all day for the flag to unfurl in the wind and finally just took a photo at night prior to taking it down.

The Betsy Ross flag is an early design of the flag of the United States, popularly — but very likely incorrectly — attributed to Betsy Ross, using the common motifs of alternating red-and-white striped field with five-pointed stars in a blue canton. The flag was designed during the American Revolution and features 13 stars to represent the original 13 colonies. The distinctive feature of the Ross flag is the arrangement of the stars in a circle.


Cutting To The Core Of Confederate Flag Issue

June 28, 2015

One of the ways I look at the controversy surround the Confederate flag is akin to how I try to be a good neighbor. I do not mow the grass at 8 A.M. or have lights on my home—even though I live on a corner– that shines into the windows of others.   If we know something is genuinely troubling and hurtful for others than why continue to do it?  It is rather a simple way to live and also a proper way to reflect on matters such as the flag.

There are many people who feel intimidated and fearful of what the Confederate flag represents. We also know the flag became a governmental symbol in the early 1960’s as the civil rights era was gaining momentum. So we need to ask what matters more—knowing there are people who are impacted by the flag in negative ways or some ‘right’ that did not exhibit itself on buildings until nearly 100 years after the Civil war ended?   I opt for caring about people who are pained by symbol of hate.

The leaders from both parties who have come out for the removal of the flag this past week are correct, and in short order this hateful image will be a sight for historical exhibits.  Being a good neighbor is also a good way to view the role of a being a thoughtful politician.

12-Year-Old George Winslow Gives Honest Answer, Ends Career

June 28, 2015

Once again it is an obituary that brought a smile.

George Winslow, a child actor with a deep, raspy voice and deadpan delivery who made a big move on Marilyn Monroe in “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,” died on June 14 at his home in Camp Meeker, Calif. He was 69.

It was not his death, of course, that brought about my reaction, but instead the following.

George Winslow retired from show business in 1958, at the age of 12, and no wonder. When his film contract with 20th Century Fox was being approved in 1953, the presiding judge asked him if he liked to act. He answered, “Nope — not a bit.”


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