A politics blog by Tom Jackson
Tom Jackson's baseball card - if he had one - would report he throws left, writes right. In his columns and blog, "The Right Stuff," southpaw Jackson provides insight into the evolving human condition from a distinctly conservative point of view.
By Tom Jackson
The Right Stuff does not know enough about the little town of Hampton, in north central Florida, to comment authoritatively, except to say reports of its thoroughgoing corruption and dysfunction make Port Richey sound, by comparison, like a model of ethics and competency.
Instead, TRS has chosen to weigh in – even as the Legislature mulls Hampton’s dissolution – because the name of its ex-mayor (jailed for attempting to sell OxyContin to an undercover cop not long after his election) caught our eye: Barry Lyndon Moore.
Right out of the box, we have to ask ourselves: What were his parents thinking, naming their baby boy for a character the late film critic Roger Ebert described as “narcissistic,” “self-pitying,” lacking “morals, character or judgment, unrepentant, unredeemed”?
The invention of 19th Century novelist William Makepeace Thackeray brought to the big screen in 1975 by Stanley Kubrick, Irishman Barry Lyndon is an cunning, self-absorbed rogue and adventurer who spends his life desperately clinging to the upper crust by wit, charm, flattery, larceny and dumb luck, but who oddly comes to ultimate comes to ruin as a result of a single noble act.
TRS does not know whether Barry Lyndon Moore has been guilty of any noble acts, but as he sits in a cell unable to raise $4,500 bail while his town approaches its probable demise, it is hard to imagine Hampton’s last elected chief executive having been named more perfectly.
By Tom Jackson
Saturday, this actually happened: Big Apple lefties (but I repeat myself) turned out to demonstrate against an expansion of New York-Presbyterian Hospital – the addition of what sounds like one heck of an ambulatory care center – for one reason and one reason only:
The add-on will bear the name of Billionaire Koch Brother® David H. Koch. As it should. He gave the hospital $100 million to get the project going.
Ah, but for certain liberals, no amount of philanthropy is sufficient to temper, let alone overcome, their revulsion at the Kochs’ libertarian philosophy and support for conservative causes and candidates. And so, reminding us no good deed goes unpunished, we get this (which you will want to see for yourself, because it includes cool pictures and tweets), as reported by Andrew Stiles, editor of the lively Washington Free Beacon:
“The Koch brothers are at it again. Their right-wing political Panzer Division descended on a New York City hospital over the weekend to protest (!) the addition of a new ambulatory care center. What the hell, Koch bros? Why not pro-America?
“Sorry. That’s not quite right. In fact, it was the New York State Nurses’ Association, the NAACP New York State Conference, and SEIU Local 1199, among others, who marched on the soon-to-be-built David H. Koch Center at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, which was funded in part by a $100 million donation from the man one prominent liberal recently predicted would go down in history as a ‘famously evil person.’
By Tom Jackson
As political games go, the one recently played on GOP congressional candidate David Jolly by the lefty blog ThinkProgress is one of the oldest in the books. In the trick, you get presumed allies of a candidate to disagree with one of your target’s high-profile positions. But that’s easy enough to do when you misrepresent the facts.
In this case, ThinkProgress sent a reporter to a meeting of the Bellair Women’s Republican Club Friday to ask what its membership thought of Lobby having lobbied against the Paycheck Fairness Act, a twice-failed piece of legislation supporters say will ensure gender blindness when it comes to workforce wages.
“Before seeking political office, Jolly, who is running in next Tuesday’s special election to fill the late-Rep. C.W. ‘Bill’ Young’s seat in Florida’s 13th congressional district, was employed for years as a lobbyist in Washington D.C. Though he worked on a number of controversial issues, one of them that has caused his campaign the most consternation was his lobbying against the Paycheck Fairness Act, federal legislation designed to help close the pay gap between male and female workers. …
“ ‘If you and I were doing the exact same job, we should both get the same salary,’ Bobbie Bernstein, who has lived in Pinellas County since 1961, said. Sue Salmeri, a lifelong Republican, agreed: ‘I think that women have come a long way, but they’ve got work to do. And they should certainly demand equal pay for equal work.’
“Ann Castro, an asthana yoga instructor who had worked at the Republican National Committee when she was younger, said equal pay hadn’t been an issue for her personally, ‘but I know for my girlfriends it has been a problem.’ She said it bothered her that women make less than men for the same jobs. ‘I think there should be equal pay for equal work. I mean, obviously.’ ”
By Tom Jackson
The Right Stuff is not often grateful for the many alerts delivered to its email inbox by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, but on those rare occasions when gratitude is appropriate, it likes to acknowledge its indebtedness.
Wednesday afternoon, the DCCC commended TRS’s attention to the Pinellas County living arrangements of Republican David Jolly, running to fill the final nine months of his old boss’ congressional term.
According to a blog post in the Tampa Bay Times, Jolly claims a homestead exemption in an Intracoastal Waterway condominium complex that is otherwise owned by investors and second-home vacationers. The post also notes that Democrat Alex Sink rents space in Feather Sound.
So, bottom line: Jolly owns; Sink rents.
The Right Stuff is glad the Times pointed that out, and pleased the DCCC made sure it noticed.
By Tom Jackson
If this sounds like something you’re heard before, you have: There’s another unilateral amendment rumored coming for the Affordable Care Act. You know, the eminently malleable Law of The Land. Honestly, if the thing were a member of the animal kingdom, it would be a centipede; that’s how many shoes it’s dropped.
Clodhopper No. 30 is yet another delay. Actually, it’s an extension of an existing delay, which in this context is sort of like spreading rancid meringue on one of Minny’s chocolate pies.
According to The Hill, which prides itself on being the news center of record in Washington, the White House plans to extend the grace period for allowing medical insurance plans that don’t fulfill all of Obamacare’s ambitious (and in many cases useless) coverage dictates, such as maternity care for men, and pediatric care for post-menopausal women.
Having failed last fall to convince Americans that cancelled plans were the substandard fruit of “bad-apple insurers,” the extra-legal one-year “keep your plan” so-called “fix” was the administration’s hard-to-swallow solution … until Obama’s political operatives figured out the calendar. Without an additional delay, fresh cancellation notices would have gone out in the weeks before Oct. 1, putting even more pressure on Democrats battling to keep their teetering majority in the Senate.
According to an industry source quoted by The Hill, “I don’t see how they could have a bunch of these announcements going out in September. Not when they’re trying to defend the Senate and keep their losses at a minimum in the House. This is not something to have out there right before the election.”
By Tom Jackson
Warren Buffett’s word is liberal gospel when he talks about the inequities of the tax code. But there was considerably less rushing to his side when, Monday, the guy who says he shouldn’t pay a lower tax rate than his secretary (nobody’s stopping him) sounded off on the looming disaster posed by public pensions.
According to Bloomberg News: “Citizens and public officials typically under-appreciated the gigantic financial tapeworm that was born when promises were made,” Buffett wrote in his annual report to shareholders of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. released on March 1. “During the next decade, you will read a lot of news – bad news – about public pension plans.”
It is precisely this sort of trouble Republican leaders in the Legislature are attempting to head off in this year’s session, which opened Tuesday. Speaker of the House Will Weatherford, of Wesley Chapel, is again championing a switch to a defined-contribution program, much like a private-sector 401(k) plan, for new employees. Sen. Wilton Simpson, of Trilby, has a similar proposal, but adds the option of a “cash-balance plan” that would shield workers from stock market losses in exchange for slightly limiting overall gains, and leaves out first responders (police, firefighters).
The goal of each is to slowly ease the state’s unfunded pension liability, which stands at $21.6 billion. The Legislature spends $500 million each year to meet its obligation more than ease the state slowly off the hook, money.
It’s looking like another uphill battle, however; some more moderate Republicans, such as Pinellas Sen. Jack Latvala, remain resistant to change.
By Tom Jackson
I can’t begin to fully appreciate what it is about the Billionaire Koch Brothers® that drives the left around the bend, but it’s endlessly fascinating. Tuesday, it was the turn of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Fabulist) to wax delusional.
Then again, irresponsibility is Reid’s M.O., as we recall from his unsupportable claim about Mitt Romney’s taxes, one of the more deplorable episodes of a tawdry 2012 presidential campaign.
Of course, Floridians won’t take part in November’s balance-of-power tussle in the Senate, but it’s nonetheless instructive to note what – Reid’s continued choke-hold on leadership – is at stake.
“Harry Reid delivered another salvo against the Koch brothers on the floor of the Senate [Tuesday]. On reading it, the reaction of any normal person would be that he has gone off his meds. That a Senate Majority Leader should indulge such crazed vituperation against a couple of private citizens, on the floor of the Senate, dramatizes how low our democracy has fallen.”
By Tom Jackson
In light of Russia’s post-Olympics shenanigans in Ukraine abundantly proving he was right, The Right Stuff hasn’t yet seen where Mitt Romney – much maligned in 2012 for predicting mischief by Vladimir Putin’s uber-nationalistic Bear – has squashed that toldja-so grapefruit in his detractors’ faces.
Luckily, Mediaite’s Noah Rothman is here to perform the honors on Romney’s behalf. It’s a joyful, maddening tour-de-skewering, not least because the know-nothings coasted on their naive, irresponsible world view to four more increasingly dangerous years. But revealing where the left has been aggressively, spectacularly wrong in the past is almost certainly a predictor of future outcomes.
You should read it all here, but this little tease offers a glimpse of Rothman’s thoroughgoing takedown:
“The smug self-assuredness that often suffices for expertise on cable news was perhaps never smugger than when former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney warned the American public that Russia was rapidly positioning itself as America’s ‘number one geopolitical foe.’ Among the worst offenders were the hosts and guests who provide MSNBC with content on a daily basis.
“In early 2012, President Barack Obama was caught on an open microphone telling Russia’s then-President Dmitry Medvedev that he would have more ‘flexibility’ after the presidential election in his dealings with Russia. Romney reacted strongly to that comment. Appearing on CNN, the GOP nominee said that the United States should regard Russia as a geopolitical adversary and should work to limit Russia’s flexibility rather than to secure it. His observation was soundly criticized by the president’s defenders who, at the time, were still attempting to rehabilitate Obama’s floundering ‘Reset’ with Russia. ...
By Tom Jackson
Ads promoting the candidacy of Democrat Alex Sink, the former Bank of America executive and state chief financial officer, continue to misconstrue – employing the politest possible term – Republican David Jolly’s position and statements regarding Social Security, making it sound like he’s all for handing the whole business over to Jordan Belfort or Bernie Madoff.
Instead, what Jolly said is Social Security payments are not guaranteed. They are not, as The Right Stuff noted more than a couple of weeks ago. On the remote chance that readers do not believe everything they read here, TRS is happy to note the findings of an unaffiliated researcher who arrived at precisely the same conclusion.
The researcher is Joshua Gillin of PolitiFact/Florida, and here is the essence of his report:
“[B]eneficiaries could be denied benefits for any reason if Congress passed a law making it so, as long as the change wasn’t arbitrary. The court said Congress had the power to modify the rules, which it has done several times — such as gradually raising the full retirement age over time.
“Political debates over Social Security payouts have been fueled by budget projections illustrating the widening chasm of the program paying out more than it is taking in. A 2005 Congressional Research Service report on Social Security reform pointed out that beneficiaries were not guaranteed “full benefits in the case of a shortfall, unless Congress amends applicable laws.”
By Tom Jackson
There’s plenty to the opinion handed down by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, in which judges found schools have the right to prevent students from wearing the American flag if officials reasonably suspect violence might result. The trigger was a ban on such clothing each May 5 after Mexican students threatened violence against their Caucasian classmates who came to school in American patriotic clothes on Cinco de Mayo 2009.
After acknowledging the roots of their decision trace logically to a 1969 case in which the Supreme Court first granted schools authority over problematic speech on campus, Eugene Volokh gets to the putrid heart of the ruling, in which the court appears to have validated – against First Amendment tradition – the “heckler’s veto,” in which “thugs threaten to attack the speaker, and government officials suppress the speech to prevent such violence.” But Tinker v. Des Moines Indep. Comm. School Dist. grants administrators latitude in keeping the campus peace.
Nonetheless, writes Volokh, there are deeper problems suggested here:
“The 9th Circuit decision may thus be a faithful application of Tinker, and it might be that Tinker sets forth the correct constitutional rule here. Schools have special responsibilities to educate their students and to protect them both against violence and against disruption of their educations. A school might thus have the discretion to decide that it will prevent disruption even at the cost of letting thugs suppress speech.
“Yet even if the judges are right, the situation in the school seems very bad. Somehow, we’ve reached the point that students can’t safely display the American flag in an American school, because of a fear that other students will attack them for it — and the school feels unable to prevent such attacks (by punishing the threateners and the attackers, and by teaching students tolerance for other students’ speech). Something is badly wrong, whether such an incident happens on May 5 or any other day.