My friend from long ago, Thomas Foley, Former House Speaker, Dies at 84 –

There were many Sunday mornings that Congressman Foley was a guest on my program on the old KSPO. The remarkable thing is that, afterward, he would settle down in the break room and we would just talk. It might last hours. I learned so much about government and politics from Tom Foley and he was always considerate. He was very aware of division in the Democratic Party and reminded me that, if we lived in Europe, there would be no Democratic Party. Instead, there would be five different parties that might sometimes work together.

Lesser people tried to dream up some sort of accusations about a supposed lack of devotion to the Second Amendment. That is always a beautiful political stunt because there is just about nothing a regular person can do to satisfy a frothing gun nut. Lee Atwater launched the most despicable of attacks, although Atwater had the good grace to apologize for all his wrongdoing before entering eternity’s iron gates.

Folen was nothing like the current crop of headhunters. He was unfailingly polite and understood that not everybody was born with the silver spoon snugly tucked between the lips. I got to spend so much one-on-one time with Tom Foley and every minute was a gift. He has been sorely missed for a long time.

Here is a link for the New York Times story.

Thomas Foley, Former House Speaker, Dies at 84 –

Pres. Obama proposes new survailence study (I told you so!)

First of all, let me say that I told you so. Back to the 1980s, I warned about the creeping demolition of the Fourth Amendment. The reaction was typically something between indifference and scorn. NSA spying on regular American citizens? I told you so!

The President (and I voted for him, something I do not regret) says there will be new standards, safeguards, studies, protections, and restrictions on domestic surveillance on law abiding citizens. The odor of steaming excrement fresh from the dark nether regions of choice bovines fills the room.

We already have a standard. It is the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution. President Obama, who is supposed to be some sort of law professor, took an oath to uphold the Constitution. “Preserve, protect and defend.” Remember? Here is the text of the Fourth Amendment.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

No secret courts! No exceptions for national security! No warrantless wiretaps. Surveillance  was a favorite tool of intimidation by George III and the red coats. Searching papers and reading mail served to investigate the innermost desires and beliefs of the intellectual troublemakers who founded this nation. The tyranny we have accepted at the hands of domestic snoops may be worse than the supposed threat of international extremists.

American freedom is in the intensive care unit and may soon be headed for the embalming room. I told you so. I warned you. No blood on my hands.


Think Progress: 12 Programs Congress Refuses to Save From Sequestration

Jet-setters protected from government cuts. Thanks for nothing. This is from “Think Progress.”

12 Programs Congress Refuses to Save From Sequestration

As they were rushing to board their flights home for the weekend, Senators and members of Congress pushed through a bill to allow the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to reshuffle funding in order to avoid the flight delays caused by FAA furloughs due to the sequester.

Unfortunately for millions of Americans who cannot afford to get on a plane, Congress has yet to repeal the disastrous and devastating cuts to important programs for the poor, mothers, children, and many others.

A flight delay is inconvenient, not being able to receive your cancer treatment is a matter of life and death. Here’s 12 important programs that Congress has so far refused to save from the sequester’s automatic cuts, even though they’ve been in place for nearly 2 months. By contrast, the FAA furloughs caused flight delays for just four days.

1. Long-term unemployment: There are 4.7 million Americans who have been unemployed for longer than six months, but sequestration cut federal long-term unemployment insurance checks by up to 10.7 percent, costing recipients as much as $450 over the rest of the year. Those cuts compound the cuts eightstates have made to their unemployment programs, and 11 states are considering dropping the federal program altogether because of sequestration — even though the long-term unemployed are finding it nearly impossible to return to work.

2. Head Start: Low-income children across the country have been kicked out of Head Start education programs because of the 5-percent cuts mandated by sequestration, as states have cut bus transportation services and started conducting lotteries to determine which kids would no longer have access to the program, even though the preschool program has been proven to have substantial benefits for low-income children. In all, about 70,000 children will lose access to Head Start and Early Head Start programs.

3. Cancer treatment: Budget cuts have forced doctors and cancer clinics to deny chemotherapy treatments to thousands of cancer patients thanks to a 2 percent cut to Medicare. One clinic in New York has refused to see more than 5,000 of its Medicare patients, and many cancer patients have had to travel to other states to receive their treatments, an option that obviously isn’t available to lower-income people. Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC) proposed restoring the funding, but the legislation so far hasn’t moved in Congress.

4. Health research: The National Institutes of Health lost $1.6 billion thanks to sequestration, jeopardizing important health research into AIDS, cancer, and other diseases. That won’t just impact research and the people who do it, though. It will also hurt the economy, costing the U.S. $860 billion in lost economic growth and at least 500,000 jobs. Budget cuts will also hamper research at colleges and universities.

5. Low-income housing: 140,000 low-income families — primarily seniors with disabilities and families with children — will lose rental assistance thanks to sequestration’s budget cuts. Even worse, the cuts could likely make rent and housing more expensive for those families, as agencies raise costs to offset the pain of budget cuts, and sequestration will also cut from programs that aid the homeless and fund the construction of low-income housing.

6. Student aid: Sequestration is already raising fees on Direct student loans, increasing costs for students who are already buried in debt. The budget cuts reduce funding for federal work study grants by $49 million and for educational opportunity grants by $37 million, and the total cuts will cost 70,000 college students access to grants they depend on.

7. Meals On Wheels: Local Meals on Wheels programs, which help low-income and disabled seniors access food, have faced hundreds of thousands of dollars in cuts, costing tens of thousands of seniors access to the program. Many of those seniors have little access to food without the program, but Congress has made no effort to replace the funding.

8. Disaster relief: The Federal Emergency Management Administration will lose nearly $1 billion in funding thanks to sequestration, jeopardizing aid for families, cities, and states right as the spring storm season begins. The aid package Congress passed for Hurricane Sandy relief will also see more than $1 billion in reductions.

9. Heating assistance: The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) helps nearly 9 million households afford their heating and cooling bills. Sequestration will cut the program by an estimated $180 million, meaning about 400,000 households will no longer receive aid. These cuts come on top of $1.6 billion in reductions since 2010.

10. Workplace safety: The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has long suffered from a lack of funds, which means its staff is so stretched that many workplaces go without an inspection for 99 years. The fertilizer plant that exploded in West, Texas, for example, hadn’t had a visit from OSHA since 1985. That will get worse, as sequestration will cut the agency’s budget by $564.8 million, likely leading to 1,200 fewer workplace inspections.

11. Obamacare: Sequestration cuts a number of important programs in the Affordable Care Act: $13 million from the Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan Program, or CO-OPs; $57 million from the Health Care Fraud and Abuse Control program; $51 million from the Prevention and Public Health Fund; $27 million from the State Grants and Demonstrations program; and $44 million from the Affordable Insurance Exchange Grants program, or the insurance exchanges.

12. Child care: Child care costs can exceed rent payments or college tuition and waiting lists for getting assistance are already long. Yet sequestration will reduce funds even further, meaning that 30,000 children will lose subsidies for care. For example, Arizona will experience a $3 million cut to funding that will force 1,000 out of care.