NFG Government


When President Obama came to office, it became congressional Republican policy to simply oppose and block anything and everything he wanted. Whether it was the tax cut stimulus or Obamacare and everything in-between, the Republican minority in Congress made it a central theme and strategy simply to reject everything the President wanted. So soon after the McCain campaign’s “Country First”, Republicans put party and partisanship first, country be damned.

“The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.” That was the sole policy aim, as Senator Mitch McConnell so succinctly put it, and they failed. They weakened the stimulus, but didn’t destroy it – as a result, our recovery is weaker than it needed to be, but still better than the UK, where its conservative government is now reaping the myriad failures of austerity. They weakened Obamacare by rejecting the public option, but they couldn’t kill it. They’re still trying.

Disagreement and partisanship are to be expected and accepted within the context of representative pluralist democracies. But in 2008, the Republican Party twisted that into not just political, but governmental sabotage. It’s how the now-weakened tea party was conceived and was built on a foundation of denigrating President Obama as being foreign, un-American, not one of us. As Carl Paladino emailed on Monday, Obama wasn’t just a Kenyan usurper, but an “affirmative action” President.

But Obama is now finishing up his second term of office, and will likely never run for office again. Therefore, the constraints of electoral politics no longer hold him back, and he can give “no fucks“. Similarly, outgoing Speaker of the House John Boehner – pushed out by tea party hard-liners – gives no fucks, either. Because they no longer fear political consequences,  they are free to govern. They’re free to compromise.

In point of fact, our federal congress was specifically designed to require and encourage compromise. Ours is not a parliamentary system where a majority government has, in effect, the political equivalent of carte blanche to implement the policies on which it run and won election. Here, a Senate minority can block legislation, and compromise is often required, if not encouraged.

Today, the NFG Congress and NFG President will cut a budget deal to raise the debt ceiling and prevent a government shut-down until some point after the 2016 election. This is Boehner and Obama unconstrained by political considerations acting in the best interests of the country. This is compromise. This is how our government is supposed to work, and was designed to work.

For one day, at least, the grownups are back in charge.

Net Neutrality: Achievement Unlocked

On Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 to keep the internet free and open. Classifying broadband internet service – including mobile broadband – as a Title II public utility, the FCC banned ISPs from trying to control what you – the consumer – get to see while using the internet. Some ISPs had already extorted additional fees from content providers like Netflix, threatening to throttle data streams unless they basically paid a ransom. That’s illegal now.

Now, the company from whom you buy your broadband service can’t speed up or throttle content you want to access, for any reason.

This is especially important for home broadband, which remains monopolistic in most areas of the country. Even here in WNY, unless you live in one of the small handful of places that have FiOS, you’re stuck with Time Warner. Do you want Time Warner to have the ability to dictate what you do and don’t get to access? Do you want Time Warner to slow Netflix down so it becomes unwatchable, while speeding up the stream of some competitor that paid TWC off?

People who seemingly don’t know any better have denounced this move as “Obamacare for the internet” and tried to frame net neutrality as excessive government regulation. This is, of course, utter nonsense. As this piece in Engadget notes, the loudest voices against this rule are from Republicans, libertarians, and big telecoms. The libertarians hate everything, but the connection between the Republicans and the big telecoms isn’t accidental, and GOP opposition to net neutrality has been well remunerated.

The telecoms opposed net neutrality because it forever closes off an additional potential source of revenue through holding content hostage in exchange for paid ransoms. It’s estimated, however, that Time Warner enjoys a 97% profit margin on broadband service. The guaranteed open internet guarantees that content providers can continue to innovate and provide incredible and competitive creative content.

From this Engadget article,

“It [the internet] is our printing press; it is our town square; it is our individual soap box and our shared platform for opportunity,” said FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel during today’s open commission meeting. “That is why open internet policies matter. That is why I support network neutrality.”

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler responded to telecom-backed critics thusly:

“This is no more a plan to regulate the internet than the first amendment is a plan to regulate free speech. They both stand for the same concept: openness, expression, and an absence of gatekeepers telling people what they can do, where they can go and what they can think.”

As a contributor to a content provider on the internet, I am grateful that the FCC has taken this step to ensure that the people who control that series of tubes we call the broadband internet can’t dictate to us what we can and cannot see.

If Cuba’s Dissidents are Happy, I’m Happy

@yoanisanchez Via Google Translate

@yoanisanchez Via Google Translate

We’re not lifting the embargo. We’re simply going to normalize diplomatic relations. This means we’ll have an embassy in Havana, they’ll have an embassy in New York, and we will conduct diplomatic business with each other as we would with any other country.

This does not mean that we’re friends, even. It just means that we’re talking.

We normalized diplomatic relations with Stalin in 1933, and with Maoist China in 1979. We normalized diplomatic relations with Communist Vietnam in 1995. We had diplomatic relations with all sorts of despots and horrible places.

Normalization is not an endorsement of the Castro regime, nor for Cuba’s communist system. This is not an endorsement of Cuba’s oppression.  If anything, the diplomatic process will go a long way towards expanding US – Cuban ties, and hopefully doing for Cubans what trade and contact did for ties with China and pre-Putin Russia.

It is, however, high time the embargo was lifted. It has given Castro 50+ years’ worth of excuses for his oppression and economic stagnation.  Taking that excuse away will go a long way towards making Cubans free again.

As a final thought, please check out the website 14ymedio, which is operated by Cuban citizen journalists like Yoani Sanchez, of the Generacion Y blog. They are happy, so I am happy.

Obama Channels Presidents Romney and Gingrich

In 2012, Mitt Romney told Time Magazine’s Mark Halperin that by the end of his first Presidential term (i.e., 2016), he would get the unemployment rate “down to 6 percent, perhaps a little lower”:

HALPERIN: Would you like to be more specific about what the unemployment rate would be like at the end of your first year?
ROMNEY: I cannot predict precisely what the rate would be at the end of one year. I can tell you that over a period of four years, by a virtue of the polices that we put in place, we get the unemployment rate down to 6 percent, perhaps a little lower.

He later went on Fox News to repeat his promise, and added,

“People all across the country are saying, ‘Wow, 6 percent sounds pretty good,’”

Mitt Romney lost. So, how did the unemployment rate do under Marxist Fascist n0bummer?

Well, consider this:

1. During George W. Bush’s second term, the US saw a net loss of 671,000 jobs. So far, in President Obama’s second term, the U.S. has a net gain of 4,784,000 jobs.

2. Friday’s jobs report showed 321,000 new jobs, and 91% of them were not in health care, showing that other sectors are showing signs of growth, confidence, and improvement.

3. Here’s how employment has gone, starting with the 2008 Bush economic collapse:


Courtesy @ddiamond

In 2012, President Newt Gingrich blamed President Obama for high gas prices, claiming that he had a plan to bring prices at the pump at or below $2.50/gallon. Just about anyone with a brain dismissed Gingrich’s promise as utter nonsense. The President has no power over global oil prices, much less the cartel of oil producing nations. The price of gasoline had climbed during the last decade with turmoil and supply disruptions arising out of the Iraq war, and was exacerbated by Hurricane Katrina, which took a huge chunk of America’s refining capacity offline. Gas prices plummeted in late 2008 / early 2009 thanks to the global economic downturn, but oil prices soon rebounded and until recently had been north of $100/bbl.

But OPEC leaders recently were unable to agree on production cuts to prop up the price of oil, and prices have plummeted – both crude and at the pump. The average price for a gallon of gas right now is reaching $2.50 nationally.


Of course, when you compare the national average to Buffalo, you get higher spikes locally, and much slower responses to drops in prices.

Even if you compare us to Rochester, it’s evident that Buffalo seems to be taken advantage of.

I don’t think it’s because we’re at the end of some pipeline, and it can’t be taxes. It’s something else, and it’d be nice if someone figured out what.

But if you look at the national average, Gingrich’s dopey promise is coming true. The national average for a price of a gallon of gas is close to $2.50, and that’s under President n0bama.

So, thankfully we didn’t have to do a thing – the economy has been making improvements in spite of Congressional gridlock and malfeasance, such as the 2013 shutdown. The price of gas has fallen in recent months because of things that have happened in the global marketplace, rather than by Presidential fiat.

As consumers find they pay less to fill up cars that are now significantly more fuel efficient than 20 years ago – the average MPG has jumped from 20 to 25 just since 2007 – that’s money back in their pockets and helps to stimulate other spending. American crude oil production has skyrocketed since Obama took office, thanks in large part to shale oil (not to be confused with hydrofracking, which produces natural gas).

So, more efficient cars help to lower demand, and a combination of increased domestic production, and OPEC stalemate help to keep supplies high, and even with a rebounding domestic economy, we’re seeing gas prices come down to Gingrichian levels.

The current unemployment rate is 5.8%, which outperforms what Mr. Romney promised might happen under him by 2016. December’s jobs report represented the 10th straight month of job gains surpassing 200,000.

Thanks, President Obama!

When Kathy Told Rush She Was Going Galt

Courtesy of @KathyWeppner4NY, Here is the audio of Kathy Weppner’s (R-Galt’s Gulch) pledge to His Rushness that she and her husband are going to earn less before Obummer’s cadre’s take it all.

Is anyone going to follow up with her on this? Has Dr. Weppner, in fact, cut back his hours so as to protect his income from Barry’s commissars? Also, when can we expect to see her audio and text archives come back online? Is there something she’s hiding?

Personal, not Principle

The Republican Congress didn’t reject universal gun background checks on principle, but because

The magnitude, intensity, and obsession of rightist hatred of the president is unprecedented in the history of American politics because it has poisoned the ability of Republican leaders in Congress to work in good faith with a twice-elected American president.

This GOP leadership’s fear and sanction of rightist hatred towards the president foments a near total obstruction against anything the president and Democrats propose, creates a near total gridlock of government in Washington and demonstrates a contempt for long-held notions of American civic life that have traditionally been accepted by all major political parties.

That comes from that leftist rag the “Hill“. 

Oh, My God

Buffalo City Hall

Photo by Flickr user W Alex Fisher

Consider this scenario: 

Antoine Thompson returns to Albany, replacing Tim Kennedy. 

Byron Brown goes to Washington, replacing Brian Higgins. 

Tim Kennedy moves into the 2nd floor of City Hall, replacing Byron Brown. 

All of these rumors are floating around town, gaining steam. So my question is, are we living a Stephen King novel?