Tuesday, June 04, 2013

I have a lot of respect for the Late Senator Frank Lautenberg. I am willing to give Governor Christi the benefit of the doubt on this one.

I know that won't go over well and I'll be the most stupid woman on the net. But. That is the way I see it. I sincerely do not believe Governor Christi is being that ruthless about this. As a matter of fact I think he is being more respectful than anyone wants to give him credit.

See, it would be wrong to provide focus on any enhancement to the Governor Race with expectations of 'help' from the Late Senator's seat. I sincerely believe Governor Christi wanted Frank to have his own election.

It is more than that, too.

Governor Christi could have replaced the Late Senator without the benefit of an election for the people of New Jersey until 2014. That wouldn't have been right.

The people of New Jersey loved Frank. I would not want to be the Governor to choose a replacement and then disappoint them because the replacement didn't measure up to Frank. Those shoes are hard to fill.

I find it more pleasant to think about this Special Election as an actual special event for a special Senate seat. I don't really care about the ruthlessness everyone is going to assign this race. The race will be what it will be, but, it won't be coveted for anything else, except, a race that will replace a rather amazing man.

I wish all those running for the Senate seat the best of luck. They will need it. It will be nearly impossible to replace a man like Frank Lautenberg. I suggest they and the media get started to find the best of the political playing field in New Jersey, Frank would want it that way. 

June 4, 2013 
Washington, DC

Chris Christi seems in no danger of losing his re-election bid (click here) this November. But for all of his bipartisan appeal, he does have a way of irking Republicans and Democrats alike. Under New Jersey's murky election laws, Mr Christie had wide latitude to schedule an election for the Senate seat left vacant by Frank Lautenberg's death yesterday. Republicans hoped he would choose November 2014, and then pick a Republican to fill the seat until then. Democrats demanded an election this year, and are still hoping Mr Christie replaces like with like in the Senate....

I think some folks forget who Chris Christi really is sometimes. They don't know him as the US Attorney committed to dealing with corruption. They don't realize how committed he has been to good governance. He is a force to contend with. I think he respected Frank as much as anyone and I dare anyone to say otherwise.

It is time to take a look at Jasper, Texas.

This is the map of the city of 7000 people. The city is 10.4 square miles, so everyone probably knows everyone else. I am quite confident the police know everyone in town. 

It is northeast of Houston. Houston, by the way, has a high murder rate.

I am not surprised the city doesn't think there is anything "W"rong with their social dynamics. That is basically the way racism works in the south. Hate crimes exist, but, it is eliminated from any lingering social reputation because it is assigned to the individual. In other words, when James Byrd, Jr. was brutally murdered in a hate crime, it was ONLY the problem of the murderers, no underlying social condition.

The city is organized around a town council and city manager. 

Currently, there is a Mayor and Mayor Pro-Tem, the phone numbers are listed on the city website (click here)

Mayor is Mike Lout - 409-384-2626 (That looks like an easy to remember business phone number actually.)

The Mayor Pro Tem is Raymond Hopson of District 4 - 409-384-6211.

The remainder of the council members are:

District 1 - Alton Scott - 409-381-1489

District 2 - Randy M. Sayers - 409-384-7711 (That looks like another easy to remember business phone number, too.)

District 3 - Hazel Johnson - 409-384-4270

District 5 - Mitch McMillion - He is also the councilman at large - 409-384-4334 (How about that at least three of these folks have easy to remember phone numbers that would appear to be business related.)

Interim City Manger - Denise Kelley - dkelley@jaspertx.org

Now, I would not be surprised if the council members that have businesses are elected more than any other member in town. I mean they are probably set up to get things done when the city treasury needs spending.

This is the city front page. Interesting. They tout all kinds of welcoming posture, but look, the population hasn't gone up in twenty years. As a matter of fact it has decreased. Aren't there babies born in that town? Twenty years the numbers of people living in Jasper should have gone up far more than this. This is way below the national average. If one looks at the programs touted by the town there are all kinds of equality opportunities including housing, so what's the problem here?

Jasper, Texas is in Jasper County. Is this the county seat?

Jasper County Courthouse
121 N. Austin
Jasper, TX 75951

I'll be darn. The police in Jasper are big fish in a little pond.

Steve Hollis - Criminal District Attorney (click here) 
Misti Spacek ACDA - District Attorney
Andrea Clinger - Assistant District Attorney
321 N. Austin, Room 101
Jasper, TX 75951
Phone: 409-384-4362
Fax: 409-384-1309

I do believe they have to enlist the local detective to investigate the latest hate crime by the local Jasper police. It could be called police brutality, but, it seems there are questionable problems in arresting someone in the early morning hours over a traffic ticket. Do you mean to tell me in a city relatively close to Houston there isn't anything else for police to do but harass and brutalize the black population in town?

In 1835, the town was renamed after William Jasper, a war hero from the American Revolution who was killed attempting to plant the American flag at the storming of Savannah in 1779.

Jasper has a proud history, that should be something the city should consider a place to gather to appreciate the idea of being an American citizen regardless of race or ethnicity.

The city of Jasper is split nearly 50:50 in racial numbers (click here). It is a poor community. Those men that were fired from the police department are going to feel their lack of employment. I would think they would appreciate their jobs more. But, sometimes poverty lends itself to loose associations to loyalty to work and more toward social dynamics. The rewards of low income demand looking elsewhere.

Median household income is about half of what the State of Texas it. Texas chimes in about $50,000 per year while Jasper is $25,000 with more than 31 percent below poverty level. The population in Texas below poverty is 17%. Governor Perry needs to look into the lag in these small towns to economic growth. They appear to be hurting. It would be helpful to find reasons for a tour stop or something like that.

I can't get over the lack of population growth. The growth nationally from 1990 through 2010 was about 10.5% according to the US Census Bureau. Jasper has negative growth while having more people per mile than the Texas average. Jasper has 7 and a half times more residents per square mile than Texas does. Jasper has 726.6 residents per square mile while Texas touts 96.3. I realize that would be different if Houston was under a microscope, but, it is still densely packed. A square mile isn't that big.

Jasper has a 75% high school graduation rate, but, there are dearly few college grads still living in their home town. I get the idea this little town is rather stagnant in it's population, economy and city income.

About 60 percent homes are occupied with a value of $81,000. That is not much income to that city if it relies on property taxes. Minorities are about 50% of the population, but, only 22% of business owners.

The economy in Jasper is very bad. It is completely stagnant and self-contained. The only college folks that live in Jasper are those with their own businesses. I guaranteed most of the folks that have lived there for most of their adult lives feel trapped to accept 'things as they are.' There is a city economy, stagnant, without options for their residents except poverty, except for those that go to college and don't come back. 

Jasper has problems. The Governor needs to pay attention to these towns and find a way to move along their economies and improve the lives of their citizens and the quality of life of everyone. There is no opportunity in Jasper and race relations show it.

I am quite sure if Governor Perry is stuck on how to improve the quality of life of the people of Jasper, the Obama Administration has plenty of ideas. These folks don't know how to find their way out of a paper bag, yet alone try something different to improve the lives in Jasper. Those in power are happy with their power. Those in poverty are hopeless in their lives. When the two face off in any social setting there is a lot of hostile feelings and it shows up in violence and victimization of the minorities. Perry needs to do something here.

Oh, by the way, these are the states complaining about food stamps, welfare and the Affordable Care Act, yet they can't improve the quality of life of their citizens. Typical southern economic strategy - starve the beast until those at the bottom of the social ladder die of starvation or end up in prison for stealing the bread off the grocery shelf. Economies like this breed crime and given the high crime and murder rate in Texas, this violence in Jasper is no surprise.

Good night.
President Putin should come to North Carolina to visit the wild horses there. We don't have tigers, except, for those in the zoos. But, we have wild horses. We have bears, too.

President Putin should also consider having his own brand of microbrew. President Obama has his.

Microbrewing could be an entirely new industry for Russia, especially Moscow. He should come to tour our microbrews in the USA, they are quite good and add to a local culture and economy.

Maybe there could be beer concessions at the Olympics, too. I assume there are adults that come as tourists, yes?

I am not at all surprised Steven Seagal would be a welcome populous figure in Russia.

To begin, I'd rather have Russian drinking beer than vodka. It would reduce the dangers to Russian livers. Glasses of beer rather than shots of vodka can deter some levels of alcoholism. It makes drinking more social, too.

But, if I am not mistaken President Putin is quite the martial arts expert. Steven Seagal fits well into that picture.

Russia really is not an enemy to the USA. If it wanted to be it could have been far more an enemy than currently postured. Some of the misinterpretation of Russian within international relations is due to having a convenient enemy for politicians on both sides to point to for blame than accepting responsibility for wayward policy decisions.

I hate to disappoint anyone, but, Russia is not much more than a hand shake away from coordinated efforts to stem terrorism and find partners to peace. Economics could be different for any country if Russia was not forced into being THE balance of power in the world.

I don't want to hear any two-faced mumbo-jumbo from these folks either. They met with people in Russia that helped and that is what I want to hear them say to their constituents and THE PARTY as well. 

Abby Ohlheiser 
June 2, 2013

A group of GOP-led congressmen, (click here) with Steven Seagal as tour guide, have wrapped up a fact-finding trip to Russia, where they apparently failed to find any significant clues related to the radicalization of the brothers behind the Boston bombings. But the mission had a secondary effect: it looks like the group, which included Rep. Michele Bachmann, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, and Rep. Steve King, have found some rhetorical common ground with Russian officials.
Seagal is pals with a handful of influential Russian officials, as Michael Weiss at the Atlantic explained earlier this week. And it sounds like the actor called in a bunch of favors to get the congressmen access to officials they wouldn't have otherwise spoken to — including members of the the Federal Security Service, known as the FSB. The lawmakers were impressed, as evidenced by the Associated Press story on the trip:...

Syria is an excellent place for the UN Treaty on Guns. There are child soldiers. Without guns, children could not be this victimized.

4 June 2013 Last updated at 08:42 ET

...Children have been taken hostage (click here) or forced to watch torture, it says, while others have been killed while fighting.

It says it suspects there are "reasonable grounds" to believe chemical weapons have been deployed.

And it urges foreign powers not to increase the availability of arms in Syria.
The issue of arms has been high on the international agenda of late, with the EU lifting an embargo on the sale of arms to Syria while Russia has insisted it is going ahead with the sale of an advanced S-300 surface-to-air missile defence system to Syria.

On Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the contract had not yet been fulfilled and Russia did not want to "disturb the balance in the region".
He said he was "disappointed" by the EU move.

The international powers are struggling to set a date for a peace conference on Syria, where the conflict is believed to have cost at least 80,000 lives....

None, too soon. Make them sit at the table. Both sides of the equation have to put down their arms and negotiate a future for their children without first killing them in a hideous and heinous civil war.

This is a war of ethnicity. It is more than sectarian. The Taliban are sectarians, but, this Syrian war is one of ethnicity. If one group is armed in favor of another it would mean ethnic cleansing. That can't be tolerated by any nation, including the European Union.

The first order of the peace process is to bring humanitarian assistance to all those that need it. The desperation of food, water, shelter against the elements and medical supplies has to end to first place an incentive for peace. All impetus to war has to be addressed, but, ending the neediness of the people for a day to day survival is paramount before any of them will be willing to negotiate.

The Obama administration has decided (click here) that it will sign a new U.N. treaty on arms regulation despite resistance from members of Congress who are concerned the new resolution will lead to stricter gun control in the United States.
Secretary of State John Kerry made the announcement on Monday, saying the U.S. "welcomes" the next phase for the treaty.
"We look forward to signing it as soon as the process of conforming the official translations is completed satisfactorily," Kerry said. He called the treaty "an important contribution to efforts to stem the illicit trade in conventional weapons, which fuels conflict, empowers violent extremists, and contributes to violations of human rights."
Countries that accept the treaty would be required to establish regulations for transferring conventional weapons and arms components, and to control arms dealers. The treaty will not control the use of weapons in any country, but gun-rights advocates are concerned that it will lead to further gun regulation....

With any of this is the responsibility of chain of custody.

The Supreme Court on Monday (click here) upheld the police practice of taking DNA samples from people who have been arrested but not convicted of a crime, ruling that it amounts to the 21st century version of fingerprinting.
The ruling was 5-4. Justice Antonin Scalia, a conservative, joined three of the court’s more liberal members — Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan — in dissenting.
The five justices in the majority ruled that DNA sampling, after an arrest “for a serious offense” and when officers “bring the suspect to the station to be detained in custody,” does not violate the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition of unreasonable searches....

I think Mr. Werfel did really well at the hearing yesterday. Rep. Issa needs to take his advise.

If the House wants to cut the spending of the IRS then they need to leverage against that budget, but, don't tell me for one minute this wasn't complete indulgence of the agency for political pandering while the rest of the nation faced The Sequester.

Some of the budget provided to the IRS was to prevent political backlash by a very powerful government agency. The IRS budget is cowardice more so than the agency leadership misspending their budget. It is a strategy to saturate the IRS with monies for indulgence of their power. We saw the same mess with the Minerals and Mining Management. The agency was treated like Astor's Pet Bulldog to keep the government off the back of the petroleum industry. So, Rep. Issa can stop acting as though this is a surprise. The House holds the budget strings. They could have controlled this a long time ago, but, haven't.

Additionally, the leadership of these agencies are oriented to the fact their spending adds to any economic paradigm. Basically, these budgets are also used as government stimulus. So, the government officials making 'Shame, shame," at the IRS meetings, need to point the responsibility at themselves.

Additionally, these conferences are planned years in advance. So, what is being observed actually started long before 2010. The "Shame, shame," needs to stop and the House needs to take up their own responsibility for this mess. Let's face it, if the IRS could be pursued to cater to special interest groups through indulgence this would never be an issue in the first place. All this mess went on a long time before Minerals and Mining Management was found out, too.

The oversight of the government agency spending for necessary conferences needs to have citizens sitting within a panel, too. That is the problem here, it is a closed loop between government and agency without a panel of citizens oversight as well. There are many shareholders within all these agencies and they are not a part of the process that lends itself to this type of exploitation of taxpayer monies.

So, while Rep. Issa is playing "Shame on you" with the IRS he is also not proposing changes that are meaningful.

...Adding to the recent IRS woes (click here) is an upcoming inspector general’s report expected to show that the agency spent an estimated $49 million on at least 220 conferences over a three-year span beginning in fiscal 2010. The House oversight committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on that matter Thursday....
I am looking forward to the Christi appointment to the vacant seat of the late Senator Frank Lautenberg. I have no doubt any appointee will seek to work across the aisle and bring bipartisan resolve to many issues including immigration reform. I have confidence the Christi appointee will seek to bring an end to divisive party politics in the legislature. It would be a disappointment of that weren't the case.