Grand Bargain

I honestly don’t understand why people don’t believe this is coming, when Obama has told us what he plans to do again and again. In fact, I have people yell at me when I insist it’s coming. It’s as if I spat on the flag or something.

I’m not the person who needs to feel ashamed over this.

This is not a matter of “the mean Republicans are making me.” This is what he’s always wanted. He was talking about a “crisis” in Social Security before he was even elected.

What could possibly go wrong with cutting fire funds during record droughts?

It’s a helluva way to run the richest country in the world, isn’t it? We are going to play chicken with every potential catastrophe in a time of extreme weather (and so, extreme risk), just so politicians can make a lot of noise about cutting the deficit:

In the worst wildfire season on record, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service ran out of money to pay for firefighters, fire trucks and aircraft that dump retardant on monstrous flames.

So officials did about the only thing they could: take money from other forest management programs. But many of the programs were aimed at preventing giant fires in the first place, and raiding their budgets meant putting off the removal of dried brush and dead wood over vast stretches of land — the things that fuel eye-popping blazes, threatening property and lives.

Recently, Congress stepped in and reimbursed the Forest Service and the Interior Department, which plays a far lesser role in fighting fires, with $400 million from the 2013 Continuing Resolution, allowing fire prevention work to continue. Forestry experts at state agencies and environmental groups greeted it as good news.

But they also faulted Congress for providing at the start of the fiscal year only about half of the $1 billion dollars it actually cost to fight this year’s fires. They argued that the traditional method that members of an appropriations conference committee use to fund wildfire suppression — averaging the cost of fighting wildfires over the previous 10 years — is inadequate at a time when climate change is causing longer periods of dryness and drought, giving fires more fuel to burn and resulting in longer wildfire seasons.

Once running from June to September, the season has expanded over the past 10 years to include May and October. It was once rare to see 5 million cumulative acres burn, agriculture officials said. But some recent seasons have recorded millions more than that.

This year’s wildfire burn was nearly 8 million acres at the end of August, about the time that the budget allocated to fight them ran dry.

“They knew they were running out of money early on, in May,” said Chris Topik, director of North American Forest Restoration for the Nature Conservancy. “They were telling people in May, ‘Be careful, don’t spend too much [on prevention].’ ”

Over seven years starting in 2002, $2.2 billion was transferred from other accounts for fire suppression when the budget came up short, according to records provided by the Forest Service. Congress at times reimbursed a fraction of those funds.


While I was at the Octoberfest this weekend, I saw some lovely pots at one of the vendor booths. Now, I like handmade things, but mostly if you’ve seen one pot, you’ve seen them all. These were quite unusual:

Some Republicans like Obamacare

CNN has a piece on how many Republicans are torn this election, because Obamacare really helped their families. Most of them seem to be carefully weighing their voting decision. But be sure to read all the way to the bottom!

Jon Campbell may become one of the Republican “defectors” Traugott says could make a difference in battleground states.

Campbell, 49, has voted Republican in nearly every presidential election since he cast his vote for Ronald Reagan in 1980, but this year might be different. For two years his 22-year-old stepdaughter, a self-employed dog trainer, didn’t have health insurance. Then Obamacare kicked in and she was allowed onto her father’s insurance.

“If something had happened to her during those two years it would have been a disaster,” Campbell says.

The Olathe, Kansas, resident is leaning toward Obama, but not just because of his stepdaughter. Campbell’s wife, Barbara, has diabetes and is in the final stages of breast cancer treatment. She’s now on his insurance, but if he ever lost his job, his wife would be faced with trying to buy insurance on her own and would surely be rejected.

“I’m really torn,” he said. “Because of Obama, I now have a wife who can get covered. But really, at heart, I’m a limited-government kind of guy.”

Campbell said if the election were held today, he’d vote for Obama, but not without a lot of reservations.
“It’s really an intriguing conundrum,” he said.

Like Campbell, Sara Nicastro feels conflicted about her vote. A popular diabetes blogger, Nicastro, 31, knew a woman who stopped taking her insulin regularly when she lost her insurance, and Nicastro thinks it might have contributed to her death. Nicastro said she herself would be “in a pickle” if she were ever laid off because insurance companies don’t want to offer policies to diabetics.

Still, Nicastro, a lifelong Republican who lives in south Florida, will vote for Romney in November. She cares about other issues besides health — most notably the economy — and she’s voted Republican in every election. She even remembers the excitement she felt when she shook Bob Dole’s hand at a rally at her high school 16 years ago.

“The Republican party most closely matches the things I value and the beliefs I have,” she said. “I’m pretty passionate about it.”

Katherine Weaver, who also has diabetes, hasn’t considered voting for Obama for even a minute.

“I’m born to be a Republican,” she said.

Weaver, 52, knows it would be difficult if not impossible to buy insurance on her own because of her disease, but she said she’s not worried because she has good insurance through her job as a public school teacher in Dallas, where she’s worked for 20 years.

“It’s very hard to get rid of teachers,” she said. “I’m very protective of my job. I document everything I do.”

Ha, ha! “Born to be a Republican” who counts on her union job to give her perpetual benefits, not even bothering to connect the dots that Republicans have imposed massive and draconian cuts in Texas. She thinks there won’t be any more?

Poor thing! She’s not so bright, for a teacher. Maybe she teaches phys ed and took one too many volleyballs to the head!

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