House Republicans restrict scientific research funding

The AFP news agency reports that the Congressional House Republican passed within the last couple of days a bill restricting scientific research funding unless it complies with their very restricted views.

The article states: “US House Republicans voted to place limits on funding for scientific research, including climate change studies, as they passed legislation that more narrowly defines their priorities.

 

Many in the American scientific community criticized the bill, which passed 217 votes to 205 and sets funding guidelines for the National Science Foundation for fiscal year 2016 beginning October 1.

………But scientists expressed concern that Republicans were locking in specific funding amounts to each of the seven directorates of the research foundation.

In previous years the NSF itself determined the allocation of federal grants and funding.

Democrats fumed that the bill automatically slashes social, behavioral and economic sciences by 55 percent compared to 2015, while geosciences including climate research shrinks eight percent to $1.2 billion.

Research budgets for green energy programs would be hit too.

 

Conversely, Republican prioritize funding for biology, computer science, engineering, mathematics and physical sciences.

“Unfortunately, NSF has funded a number of projects that do not meet the highest standards of scientific merits,” Republican Lamar Smith, who chairs the House Science, Space and Technology Committee.

Many Republicans in Congress openly reject or doubt scientific evidence that climate change is driven by human activity.

The bill prioritizes “basic research and development” and requires that federally-funded scientific projects are “in the national interest.”

A coalition of more than 140 researchers, universities, laboratories and other organizations protested against the law, joined by Democrats denouncing what they called the politicization of research.

Considering other restrictive legislative policies Republicans have passed or attempted to pass at state and national levels, it is really not surprising. But again, does this serve the interest of most Americans, or only those few. Knowledge is power it is said, but do you restrict knowledge or let science lead you to new conclusions rather than verifying those conclusions people want to find?

 

Former CEO Carly Fiorina knows how to squeeze a dollar

Company CEO’s need to b fiscally responsible and how to control expenses of their company’s to make them run well. But doing it on the backs of the people hired to make money always is beyond the pale in understanding.

Reuters news agency  is reporting that 12 people out of 30 who worked for presidential aspirant Carly Fiorina in her 2010 California Senate bid, did not get paid for four years after Fiorina failed to be elected. And these people say they would not work for her again.

The article says Twelve of about 30 people who worked on Fiorina’s failed 2010 California Senate campaign, most speaking out for the first time, told Reuters they would not work for her again. Fiorina, once one of America’s most powerful businesswomen, is now campaigning for the Republican nomination in 2016.

The reason: for more than four years, Fiorina – who has an estimated net worth of up to $120 million – didn’t pay them, a review of Federal Election Commission records shows.

On the campaign trail, the former Hewlett-Packard CEO has portrayed herself as a battle-hardened business leader who possesses the best financial skills among fellow Republican presidential hopefuls. But some former staffers on her Senate campaign are now raising questions about that portrayal.

 

Federal campaign filings show that, until a few months before Fiorina announced her presidential bid on May 4, she still owed staffers, consultants, strategists, legal experts and vendors nearly half a million dollars.

FEC records show, for example, that her former campaign manager Martin Wilson was owed $80,500; legal counsel Ben Ginsberg $60,000, and the widow of California political adviser Joe Shumate, who died during the final month of the campaign, at least $30,000.

Ultimately, Fiorina paid them. Fiorina’s campaign declined to give reasons for the delay, which was first reported in the San Francisco Chronicle.”

One wonders if she disagrees with people employed by the federal government is she would opt to withhold their paycheck until they acquiesce to her demands.

 

 

Gov. Scott Walker has some explaining to do

A couple recent articles examine Gov. Walker’s honesty and perhaps his ethical stances when comes to “favoring” friends and being totally honest with his constituents which means those people who do not support him as well as those that do.

The Washington Post reports that Gov. Walker is being sued for withholding records,  documents as to why he wants to change the mission statement of his state’s university system.

The article states: “A nonprofit watchdog group filed a lawsuit in a Wisconsin circuit court against Gov. Scott Walker (R) on Tuesday, alleging that he is refusing to make public documents relating to an effort by his office to change the mission of the University of Wisconsin that is embedded in state law.

Earlier this year, Walker submitted a budget proposal that included language that would have changed the century-old mission of the University of Wisconsin system — known as the “Wisconsin Idea” and embedded in the state code  — by removing words that commanded the university to “search for truth” and “improve the human condition” and replacing them with “meet the state’s workforce needs.”

The change is not insignificant; the traditional mission speaks to a role for the university system of broadly educating young people to be active, productive citizens in the U.S. democracy, while Walker’s suggested change would bend the school’s mission towards becoming a training ground for American workers.

Walker didn’t mention the suggested change in a speech he gave about the budget, but it was discovered by the nonprofit Washington -based Center for Media and Democracy and widely publicized. Walker quickly backtracked and said it was a “drafting error.”

The governor’s office says it is not required to turn over all documents citing protection by deliberative process privilege, which the Center for Media and Democracy says is not recognized under Wisconsin’s law.

One wonders why politicians just can’t be honest with its constituents and the public. Such a simple but evidently hard thing to do, and such a novel idea. NOT.

On top of that, Wisconsin Democratic lawmakers call for an investigation into the privitization of Wisconsin’s economic development organization which Walker is CEO of according to a Huffington Post article.

The article reads in part: “When Walker created WEDC in 2011, he named himself Chairman of the Board.

Although it was a privatized agency, WEDC was in charge of a staggering amount of taxpayer dollars: $519 million in bonds, grants, loans, and tax credits in 2011-2012 alone, and the WEDC board is ultimately responsible for those dollars. While experts debate the role state government plays in job creation, one set of jobs Walker can more precisely lay claim to are those created by the economic development corporation he governs.

In 2012, new reports indicated WEDC had lost track of $12 million in loans because it never asked businesses to pay back them back. The federal housing authority demanded changes at WEDC after determining it had spent some $10 million in federal funds without authorization. A damning 2013 audit by Wisconsin’s professional, nonpartisan state audit bureau made headlines when it documented dozens of ways in which the new agency was breaking the law. The audit showed that WEDC made awards to ineligible recipients, for ineligible projects, and for amounts that exceeded specified limits.

WEDC promised to clean up its act and reported to the legislature and the state audit bureau in October 2013 it had addressed all the concerns raised in the May 2013 audit.

But a new May 2015 state audit shows the situation is even worse.”

So, instead of hitting the presidential campaign trail to convince Republicans and other voters he is worthy of consideration for his tough yet fair stances in turning around economic conditions, maybe he should get his own house in order at home and explain his failings of this organization and how he plans to “fix” it again, since it didn’t lead to the expectations he claimed.

 

 

Gov. Jindal’s scientific education degree at odds with his current beliefs

A recent Slate.com article written by an acquaintance of Louisiana’s Gov. Bobby Jindal calls into question his current belief and pursuit of Gov. Jindal’s creationism legislation in Louisiana’s schools.

The article’s author writes: I remember the day that this act became law. I was sitting in the car, pulling off my shin guards after soccer tryouts, when a family friend, the editorial writer for our local paper, the Advocate, walked by. I heard him ask my dad, “Did you hear that Jindal signed the creationism bill?” I couldn’t believe it. For most of my life, my family has known Bobby Jindal.

He and my father had worked together under Gov. Mike Foster, and my parents had been friends with Jindal and his wife, Supriya. The Jindals still send my family a Christmas card every year. When Jindal first ran for governor in 2003, when I was a fifth-grader, I talked up his campaign to my classmates at the University Lab School, the same school that Jindal’s own children now attend.

Earlier in that 2008 summer, the creationism bill had come up at our dinner table, and my family was sure that the governor would veto it. We knew him. He wasn’t a creationist, he was a Brown University biology major. But Jindal wanted to run for president, so he became a creationist.”

So it becomes clear that some Republican candidates tailor their beliefs to those of their party, even if they possibly don’t believe in the issue. Although they state they do. Drive and ego for more power seem to be a bad decision to reach for higher office.

And even though individuals and public officials can “maintain” conflicting views themselves about an issue, they should at least be honest enough with the public to talk about it openly. Maybe it would engender more debate, something very necessary these days in political discourse.

Mainstream Republican politicians support conspiracy theories

Just when one thinks the fringe right can not possibly be acting any crazier,  the Texas governor  declares his sovereign state is being invaded by……. the federal government.

Newsweeks’ Kurt Eichenwald recently wrote an editorial about this crazy notion that training for the United States’ military in Texas is somehow an invasion and takeover.

But what is more incredulous than the fringe believing this is that “mainstream” politicians like Texas’ Gov. Greg Abbott and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz lends support to this notion.

Eichenwald writes: “There was a time in modern history when the GOP was a party of ideas—agree with them or not, its leaders were dominated by smart people who assembled ideologically consistent policies based on facts, statistics and history. But, as Bruce Bartlett, a former senior policy analyst for Ronald Reagan, recently said, “Now it’s the party of crazy people, ignorant Tea Party people—people who know nothing and are proud of it.”

Look at the lunacies from the last few years: President Barack Obama is a Muslim; Obama was taught to hate America by his Christian minister (don’t try to reconcile those first two); Obama engineered Hurricane Sandy with a secret military radio-wave system; Obama ordered $1 billion worth of coffins for federal detention camps; Obama faked the assassination of Osama bin Laden; the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School was a “false flag” operation so Obama could take Americans’ guns; Obama told Nigeria that the United States wouldn’t help it fight terrorists until its government recognized gay marriage; Obama is arranging a deal with Iran and ISIS for them to launch a nuclear attack on America so he can obtain a third term… The list of the irrational and illogical just grows and grows.

But the real danger is not that swaths of Republican voters babble nonsense that would make an eighth-grader roll his eyes. Instead, it is that policy discussions frequently jump the track when GOP leaders treat the tinfoil hatters’ latest obsession as worth anything other than derision. Whether these officials are demagogues seeking votes from the unhinged or—the more frightening possibility—believers of this toxic flapdoodle, the result is the same: Cradling the crazy has made many GOP politicians midwives to madness.”

He continues: “The latest conspiracy theory emerged in the past few weeks, and it is so bizarre that it finally forced some Republican officials to proclaim that the party’s paranoia must end.

Here it is: The federal government is preparing a military takeover of Texas using secret tunnels built under closed Wal-Mart stores so troops can move silently about the state. Take a moment to digest that. The Obama administration is sending American forces into Texas to…ummm…I dunno. Take control of NASA? (Nah, feds own that.) Seize Lackland Air Force Base or Fort Hood or Naval Air Station Kingsville? (No, they run those too, along with 28 other military installations in the state.) Overthrow the Legislature and the governor? (That would require dismantling Congress and seizing the Supreme Court, since a Texas takeover would be unconstitutional.) Wait! That’s it! Obama is going to seize control of Texas for some incomprehensible reason and then launch national martial law!”

And to think that Sen. Cruz wants to be President. What kind of policies would he institute based on fringe information and what wars he might start based on the same. Now that truly would be worrisome.

 

Wisconsin Gov. Walker hands out cash, forgets about follow up

It’s one thing for state governments and public officials to hand out cash to corporations saying it is good for the state and its people to help create jobs. No matter which state or which politician, that largesse should always be met with some skeptism.

A recent posting on thinkprogress website has a story about Wisconsin’s Gov. Scott Walker giving corporations cash and then forgetting about following up to see if the intended purpose of that cash handout was met, that is, in creating jobs.

The piece states: ” The job creation agency founded by Governor Scott Walker has been routinely violating its own rules and state law, according to a damning report released Friday by Wisconsin’s non-partisan Legislative Audit Bureau.

Walker set up the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation in 2011 in order to give taxpayer dollars to private corporations to help them create jobs for Wisconsin workers. But a new audit of more than 100 grants from the agency found that the WEDC failed to follow up on whether the companies were actually using the funds to create and retain jobs.

The group also gave loans and tax credits to companies that did not meet its requirements, and did not even attempt to fact-check claims by the companies about the number of jobs they created. Additionally, the agency forgave, wrote off or deferred more than $4 million in loan payments that the corporations were supposed to pay back to the state.

 

Critics of the Governor, including Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Mike Tate, cited the new data as evidence of his “ineptitude…bordering on criminal negligence” and called for legislators to pass reforms.”

It makes one wonder what kinds of handouts Gov. Walker would be in favor of if he were elected President. And would his staff follow up to make certain any deals would then adhere to the law. So far his track record is not too convincing he would.

Congressman King to rewrite the 14th Amendment

A few days ago Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank wrote about Iowa’s illustrious Congressman Steve King and his and other Republicans pursuit of changing the 14th Amendment.

Milbank writes, ” A House Judiciary subcommittee took up the question Wednesday afternoon, prompted by legislation sponsored by Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) and 22 other lawmakers that, after nearly 150 years, would end automatic citizenship.

The 14th Amendment, King told the panel, “did not contemplate that anyone who would sneak into the United States and have a baby would have automatic citizenship conferred on them.” Added King, “I’d suggest it’s our job here in this Congress to decide who will be citizens, not someone in a foreign country that can sneak into the United States and have a baby and then go home with the birth certificate.”

It’s no small task to undo a principle, enshrined in the Constitution and upheld by the Supreme Court, that defines the United States as a nation of immigrants. It’s particularly audacious that House Republicans would undo a century and a half of precedent without amending the Constitution but merely by passing a law to reinterpret the 14th Amendment’s wording in a way that will stop the scourge of “anchor babies” and “birth tourism.”

Interesting how many times Republicans have taken President Obama and other Democrats for not adhering to the Constitution. Yet, the “do as I say and not as I do” crowd has its own ideas about granting status.  It makes one wonder what other rewrites this group of Republicans have in mind.

Congressman King with creative bill

Iowa’s Fourth Congressional District representative, Rep. Steve King, ha come up with a novel way of safe guarding the Biblical sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman.  Huffington Post reports that Rep. King will introduce a bill in Congress that will stop the U.S. Supreme Court from ruling on gay marriage.

“We could pass this bill before the Supreme Court could even hear the oral arguments, let alone bring a decision down in June,” he said at a press conference. “That would stop it right then, there would be no decision coming out of the Supreme Court. This is a brake, and whether we can get the brake on or not between now and June, that we don’t know.”

This is very novel. Surprising this wasn’t tried when Brown vs. the Board of Education was coming up, or Roe v. Wade, as well as voting rights for women.

Congressman King wants to take away an individual’s right to a court hearing he disagrees with. He also wants to corral that third leg of government he is afraid may not decide something he doesn’t agree with. So much for checks and balances. Why is Mr. King afraid of letting the courts rule? He didn’t introduce this when the Affordable Care Act first went before the highest court in the land.

Of course he may be having second thoughts about that now.

It’s still a wonder what persons like Mr. King and other conservatives are afraid of. How does two people loving one another interfer personally with his own life or that of his family?

Marriage is a sacred vow before God, generally in a church. How does that affect the contract between two people when it comes to government? There is no Church of America, as there is a Church of England, at least not one that has been made public.

It’s not okay for government to tell people how to behave (think women’s reproductive rights) unless it goes against what I personally believe. Again, I have mine, you are not allowed.

It seems when people are secure in their own right, others do not and will not intimidate them or affect adversely. But if you are not secure, there could be a bogey man/woman behind or under any rock.

It’s generally from those places where  the beast awaits to show its ugly head, whosever head it may be.

 

Woodbury County Democrats, promoting democratic ideals and greater participation.