Friday, November 19, 2010

Can YOU Balance the Federal Budget?

Here is a really NEAT little game from the New York Times....it let's YOU balance the Federal budget...what would you cut? what would you keep? Do the things you THINK cost a lot actually make a huge difference? Will you have to cut something you care about?


Click on the link to "Play". When you're done...drop back by Rip and Read and leave a comment (you may post anonymously if you wish) letting us know what you cut and kept! Extra Credit if you want to explain "Why".

If you're reading on Facebook, please go to the original blog page to leave your comments...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Abram the psychopath?

Okay, I'm not sure why, but I happened to notice a post on Facebook where one friend wished some other friends a happy "Eid Al Adha"... not being something I see everyday...I just had to ask myself...what IS Eid Al Adha?

Well, it turns out, according to Wikipedia, that Eid Al Adha marks the anniversary of the day that Abraham showed his faith in God by showing himself willing to sacrifice his (at the time) only son...Ishmael. Yes, you read that right, Ishmael.

Anyone who remembers Sunday school will remember that Abraham and Sarah were very old and had no children, God said they WOULD have children, but, being very old they didn't have a lot of faith, and so Sarah "told" Abraham to go and sleep with Hagar, the servant. He did, and she beget Ishmael... and God was Angry and told Abraham to cast her out...so he took her to the desert and...for Christians (I'm not sure about Jews) that's pretty much the end of the story. Hagar and Ishmael are driven off into the desert and we never hear another word about them until Ismael's angry, angry grand-kids come out of the desert one day about two thousand years later, take over Spain, kick the Christians out of Jerusalem and eventually work their way up to 9/11.

But if wikipedia has it right, then according to Islamic tradition...Abraham later went back to the place where he left Ishmael and Hagar and built them a well. When he got there, he had a dream...he was to sacrifice Ishmael to God...


Hold the phone, say us Sunday School graduates....that's EXACTLY what he did to his LEGITIMATE son, ISSAC... In both stories, Abraham is about to plunge in the knife when God intervenes and sticks a sheep in a thorn bush...allowing Abraham to kill THAT instead...

Which all leaves me wondering about the three major religions of the West.

See, I have to admit, I had no real trouble swallowing the Issac story as a kid...it all turned out ok in the end: God got a display of loyalty, the kid didn't die, the sheep was good with mustard and everything worked out for the best...(except for the sheep, but who cares?)

...but now, I read that THIS WASN'T the FIRST TIME IT HAPPENED...Turns out this nasty old sleep-with-the-maid-leave-the-kid-in-the-desert man was fond of running around sticking knives in ALL of his kids... Father's Day must have been quite the trip!

Humm...as you look at the modern family of Middle Eastern Monotheistic Religions...Judaism, Christianity and Islam...is is any wonder we have such a bitter family dynamic and can't get along? I think not. Father Abraham was apparently some kind of a nut!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Election Summed Up in One Sentence....
albeit a long one

You've got to hand it to Wall Street...FIRST they get the Liberals to bail them out (which we did to save jobs) and NOW the get the RADICAL RIGHT WING to vote them a TAX CUT so they don't have to pay for their bailout! Sleazy, but Brilliant.

Also, a friend of mine posted a link to this article on Facbook... Personally, I think this writer lets the President off the hook...not for his lack of accomplishment, but for his lousy communication skills...still there is one paragraph here not to be missed...
If you are a lower to middle-class Republican, Tea Partier or flip-flopping indie voter, you are now in the most delightfully ironic position of all -- you think you just voted yourself more voice, when in fact you voted for far less. You think yourself a lion; you're actually the meat. You actually just voted yourself an even lower position on the food chain. Congratulations.

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2010/11/10/notes111010.DTL&ao=2#ixzz151cAzK4v

And dat's da truth....phhhhhttttttth!

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

OMG! Has the White House Got it Wrong AGAIN???

NOTE TO WHITE HOUSE: BIPARTISANSHIP DIDN'T WORK: you held out your hand and the GOP spit on it...and then they complained that you tried to touch them with a spitty hand!

Okay, just last night, as I watched John Boenher slur his way through a victory speech, I looked for some silver linings...and I found one: now that the GOP holds the purse-strings in the House, they will actually have to DO something, rather than carp, complain, and pretend that this is not their mess in the first place.

I am very confident that, by 2012, the seeds planted in 2009 will begin to pay off for Democrats, while Republican efforts will bring absolutely no relief to a nervous American people. Making 2012 a pretty good year for Democrats...and allowing them to finish the work they started. We need to get this country BACK ON THE RIGHT TRACK...we need to re-build our neglected infrastructure, incubate the industries and energy sources of the future and set ourselves up to compete with China and India...so that we do not wind up as a second rate power within the next three decades.

The only thing that really needs to be in place to make this happen is a White House Communications Team who understands that we are fighting for the future of our country...and that we are in a fight against a party who is completely wrong, and so completely bullheaded that they will never realize it, they will never compromise, they will never surrender. We must, therefore, do the same. Draw the Sword and toss the scabbard. The White House needs to cast itself as the underdog, show the country how arrogant and ignorant these republicans are and...FIGHT! (Have I said that before?)

But this morning...I have to admit, I'm a lot less optimistic than I was last night.

The first thing I read was this headline:
"White House aide: President Obama will heed election message"

The text doesn't get any better:

A top aide to President Barack Obama said not to look for a change in his “fundamental principles, but certainly there were messages that have to be heeded, and we will.”

“If you believe in democracy, we were swept in by a big wave, so you have to pay attention to these results and what people are saying,” the aide said. “They want us to work together, to focus on the economy – for jobs and growth — and we’re going to do that.”

The tone was more humble than is customary for this White House, and the aide promised a period of introspection.

The aide also mentioned deficits as an area that the parties can do a better job of working together.

JEESOM H FREEKING CROW!!! A better job of working together? What freaking planet is the "aide" living on?

And where have they freaking been for the last 20 years? When Republicans get their asses handed to them, they don't go talking about "working together"....HELL'S NO!

Republicans get Whooped, and immediately they go put their big boots on and start stomping around like they OWN the place! They start talking trash, throwing rocks, and pretending like they actually won...and nine times out of ten, it works. My god, by February of 2009, a mere month after Mr. Obama took office, you'd think the freaking GOP had actually WON the election of 2008!

But our Team Of Leaders in the White House is "Humbled" and talking about "working together"...

Look, kids: That's what you said when you WON in 2008. And I have to admit, that whole Bi-partisan reaching across the aisle thing...it was a nice try, it showed class...really, it did. But it didn't work. Again, in case you missed it: IT DIDN'T WORK: you held out your hand and the GOP spit on it...and then they complained that you tried to touch them with a spit covered hand!

If it didn't work then, what the hell makes you think it's gonna work NOW?

Look, Democrats...the policies are GOOD. They are working and will continue to work. But you are going to have to FIGHT.

Because that is what the other side is doing:

Boehner and many Republicans floated some conciliatory messages toward Democrats on Tuesday night, but many factions of the party, including those closely aligned with the tea party, remained defiant. Two leading tea party leaders -- Sarah Palin and South Carolina GOP Sen. Jim DeMint -- insisted that the election results were more an argument against compromise than a case for working with Democrats. "The GOP has to understand, that machine has to understand, we are not sending Republicans … to D.C. to sing Kumbaya with Obama," Palin told conservative talk show host Laura Ingraham. "We're sending them to stop Obama!"

That's a clear a declaration of war as you could possibly want... so stop showing up dressed for tennis, Mr. Obama, and come dressed for all out combat...

It Could have been better, It could have been worse

Alex's Blog-

It's about midnight, and I just returned home from the DFL Victory rally downtown. All in all, mixed emotions...on the local level, Kim Norton and Tina Leibling are returning to the Minnesota House...but we lost two great public servants, State Rep Andy Welti and State Senator Ann Lynch.

My main hopes for the night, however, seem to have been fulfilled...no Emmer, no Demmer (my wife has remarked often how much that sounds like Dumb and Dumber...). Our Congressman, Tim Walz will be returning to the US House...despite the fact that big GOP groups (or, more accurately, small groups of big donors) dumped a ton of money in to the district to try and unseat him. The word's not in yet, but it also looks like Mark Dayton, DFL, will be our new governor.

And, on the national level...we've kept the Senate.

Of course, we lost the house...and sitting through John Boner.....whoops...Boehner's speech was painful...the media now says he was trying not to cry...but I'm wondering if he was trying to just get his lips around one too many scotch and soda's.

In the end, the fact that the Republicans have now taken control of the US House may be the silver lining...in two years, assuming that the White House finds a communications team that can find it's ass with at least one hand....the American people will have seen that these guys and gals don't have a clue...there will be no jobs...a lot of hair brained schemes to cut taxes for the wealthiest Americans...and the stimulus programs will be cut...I think that, by then, the American people will realize that they have been had. We'll see...but that's my guess...and I'm willing to put money on it: Tonight's results will see the Democrats back in the White House in 2012.

POSTSCRIPT: And it just gets better...they say that there is a movement to draft Michelle Bachmann into the leadership....LET HER AT IT, I SAY! She'll do for the GOP what Christine O'Donnell did for masturbation.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Taking the Train! Ridership up in Midwest

I just got an email from the Southeast Minnesota Rail Alliance. Amtrak is showing record ridership on Mideast rail routes this year. As we look toward rebuilding our rail infrastructure, not only here in Minnesota, but around the nation, this is encouraging news.

Here's the press release:

Midwesterners love their trains!

Amtrak recently released its annual ridership and revenue numbers and the report revealed that people across the Midwest are riding the train in record numbers.

Here are a few highlights from the report:

  • The Empire Builder – beginning in Chicago and traveling through Minnesota on its way to the Pacific Northwest – is Amtrak’s most popular overnight passenger train. More than half a million people rode the route last year.
  • Ridership totals on the shorter-run corridor services is up 55% across the Midwest during the past five years.
  • The Hiawatha service between Chicago and Milwaukee has seen a 49% increase in ridership during the past five years and recently topped three-quarters of a million riders during the past year.

As Illinois Rep. Elaine Nekritz, chair of the Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Commission, put it, “These numbers confirm what state and federal officials are increasingly realizing – expanding and improving passenger rail service makes sense for the Midwest.”

These numbers are an affirming sign for local and statewide advocates of expanded passenger rail infrastructure in Minnesota. It is important that we have a variety of transportation options, including rail, as our state looks to enhance our economic viability and quality of life in the 21st century. Passenger rail – including a high-speed route from Rochester to the Twin Cities – will ensure the accessibility and capacity we need to meet those goals.

Upcoming Election
Election Day, November 2, is less than three weeks away. If you haven’t already done so, the Alliance encourages you to ask where your state and federal candidates stand on rail. The upcoming legislative and congressional sessions will be very important for the future of rail. Most important, don’t forget to vote.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Taking the Democratic Party Survey: Why I am a Democrat and Why I'm Currently Discouraged.

I have been getting TONS of email from national Democrats, asking me for money, asking if I've seen the President's latest You-Tube video, asking me for money....

Today, I received a survey asking me to share my opinion on the current state of the Democratic Party...since there was a place for long answers, I filled them out...and then decided to post them here, because A) this was the one place that some random web surfer might read them (I know they won't get read at party headquarters) and, B) because heaven knows it's time for a blog post.

So here are my responses.

How would you describe the current political climate? (Optional):
As a Democrat, I feel demoralized. In his first days in office, President Obama appointed two tax cheats (a Democrat who cheats on his taxes is just as bad as a Republican "Family Values" man who cheats on his wife.) Timothy Geithner felt like part of the same Wall Street Gang of thugs who got us into this mess in the first place. Then, the President was a month overdue before responding in a major way to the Gulf Oil Spill. He has done a lousy job selling his program, and when Democrats point out the missteps taken by the White House and ask them to please try and do better, they are told to "Stop Whining" by Vice-President Biden. So, the current climate: Grim and Uninspiring.

What do you believe the Democratic Party stands for? (Optional):
I think that's in flux right now...but here's what I think the Democratic Party SHOULD stand for:

A strong America.
A debt-free America.
An America that MAKES things again.

The Democrats know that, with the proper oversight, Government need not be an enemy. Instead, as long as our government remains free and open, it can be a powerful tool. Allowing groups of ordinary people to band together to create something larger then themselves (examples: The Space Program, Victory in World War 2, the Interstate Highway System, the Transcontinental Railroad, etc.). Government, again, kept under proper restraint, and driven by groups of activists, is also the only tool that has achieved the civil rights of the American People (The end of Slavery, the Enfranchisement of Women, the end of segregation.)

In times of great need, Government has successfully served as the great engine which restarts the economy...getting us moving again following the Great Depression, providing the needed economic mobilization to triumph over fascism. While these are the large examples, this pattern has been repeated in smaller crises throughout the century.

The Democratic party knows that, in order to create the conditions of prosperity and stability, taxes are necessary. Democrats know that the upper class may occasionally meet with success solely by their own efforts, but are more often aided by the efforts of their workforce, the public education system, the public police system, the public transportation infrastructure, the national defense, and, often, by doing direct business with the government.

Because of this, Democrats know that these people deserve to pay more in taxes, to support the society that supports them so well.

Democrats know that money taken from the top, and reinvested in the bottom creates a rising tide that raises ALL boats, not just those of the few...and brings financial growth and benefit to a greater portion of society. (Their prosperity, in turn, allows them to be customers of the rich...helping them well from this too.)

Democrats value and respect the entrepreneur. They understand that his vision and energy are a key part of the driving force of our economy. At the same time, they know that he is not the God-Like Figure imagined by Ayn Rand and her supply-side disciples. True Entrepreneurs thrive in an environment laced with infrastructure: Transportation, Police, Education, Energy, workforce. Because this successful businessman achieves success in aworld which has been tamed for him through the efforts of his fellow citizens acting together as a government, it is also understood that that self-same business person must pay to support that infrastruture. Not being a god-like figure, the entrepreneur is not to be placated by deferments, and releases from his obligation to provide support for the infrastructure without which his success would not be possible. Unlike Ayn Rand and her modern followers, Democrats do not heap sacrifices from the public treasury in the form of tax breaks at his feet.

Democrats know and respect the worker's role in economic success. Democrats also know that, by keeping the working class prosperous, a larger customer base is established, and the seeds of further economic growth are put in place, seeds which the business owner will harvest.

Democrats understand that, human nature being what it is, those who have money will seek to keep as much of it as they can. They will share no more with their workforce than absolutely necessary. They will voluntarily contribute to the infrastructure that supports them almost nothing. They will favor short-term profit over long term growth. Democrats understand that, while free market capitalism is the best way to run a successfull society, that it has an Achillies Heal. Left to its own devices, the free market will tend to stagnate, concentrating success and wealth in the hands of a few. Left in it's natural state, the only way to bring change is through periodic catastrophic failure. To avoid both the stagnation and concentration of wealth, which leads to tyranny of the few over the many, and at the same time to avoid economic catastrophe and devastation which leads to periods of anarchy, terror and hardship, Government is needed to bring stabilty....while it does tend to remove the highest of the high points (enjoyed only by very few), it also reduces the lowest of lows...and that helps the population as a whole.

Democrats should know that they need to be fiscally responsible...keeping the national account square, paying as they go, breaking this rule only in economic emergencies (such as the present crisis), and returning to normalcy as soon as possible.

The Democrats know that people often need a helping hand to lift themselves up. That children need a good education to rise in the world. At the same time, Democrats have come to understand that welfare should be a hand, not a handout, and that while there are no limits to our desire to help, there are limits to the amount of help we will give to those who will not help themselves.

Democrats know that this country must become as self-sufficient as possible, and especially in the area of energy.

Knowing that there is no one magic bullet that will replace foreign oil as a source of power, Democrats are ready to apply the power of Government to fund R & D that is not yet attractive to the private sector in search of the short term sure profit.

Democrats understand that these efforts will pay off in a big way, giving America a commanding lead in the renewable energy field, providing us, once again, with a a product to sell to the world, reversing our negative balance of trade.

Democrats should never be ashamed to be America. Democrats should never shrink from defending her. At the same time, Democrats know that "you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar" and that a foreign policy that, while always serving to advance American interests, does so with fairness and a a decent respect to the opinions of mankind.

Why are you a Democrat? (Optional):
I am a Democrat because I believe in a strong America. I believe that this nation should offer both political and economic freedom to all. I believe that the Democratic Party's record on the economy for the last 80 years speaks for itself. Economics, practiced with a Keynesian bent, has created a wide-spread prosperity in all segments of this society. Supply-Side economics has concentrated wealth in top 1% of our society, during the years (from Reagan on) that supply-side economics have been in the drivers seat, we've seen this nation become a debtor to the world. We have seen our manufacturing jobs move overseas. We've seen government have to ride to the rescue of the Savings and Loan Industry and now the Financial Sector...all because we've removed the regulations in place that keep one company from growing so big that it crowds out the others, growing so big that it becomes "too big to fail".

I am a Democrat because I believe that,in the long run, the Democratic party has a better history of taking care of the nation as a whole (rather than of it's leading citizens). I believe the Democratic party, for all it's faults, and they are many, is a better steward of the economy and of our political freedom.

There are times when, as a Democrat, I become discouraged. There are times I become discouraged because the left wing of our party has seized control, forgetting that, while we believe in an active government with a strong role to play, we are NOT a socialist party. While we believe in a fair and level playing field, we are not a "leveling" party...we do not seek to enforce equality of outcome.

At the present time, I am discouraged for other reasons.

President Obama is a pragmatic centrist. He understands the need to use government to stabilize the economy and has done a fair job ending the free fall. The American Recovery and Reinvestment act has represented a strong investment, not only in jobs, but also in building for the future. Back in the day, people called the CCC "make work" - but today, as we enjoy our parks, roads, etc. we realize what a debit we owe to the men who worked in the program and the government who, not only saved them from starvation, but bequeathed a legacy to us. I strongly believe that some 20, 30 years hence, we will look back at the ARRA and realize that we made some good moves.

Obama's appointment of Geithner and the moves to bail out Wall Street are probably necessary, even though they leave a bad taste in my mouth.

Less excusable are Obama's constant early efforts to meet the Republicans more than half way. Screw Them....the new Radical Republican party of Bush, Gingrich, Limbaugh, Fox, Beck and Boehner have never shown the slightest consideration for us. Those of that ilk have never shown the slightest indication to wish to reason together, or compromise...they are radical fundamentalists. Their motto is "join us or die"....our motto in regard to the radicals should be: Cathago delenda est. To any others who wish to talk, then yes, we'll hold out the hand of friendship...but those kinds of Republicans are damn few and far between theses days (and the few that remain are being driven from their party by the Christine O'Donnells and Sarah Palins of the nation.)

Because of the President's need to play nice, there are those who have argued that the stimulus package was too SMALL- big enough to make Americans nervous about the debt, not big enough to create movement in the economy fast enough.

On the Gulf Oil Spill, the President was, quite frankly, on the wrong side...even before it happened. As a nation, to remain strong, we MUST break the addiction to fossil fuels. And yet the President was advocating offshore drilling off the most populated areas of our coastline.

A mere month later, the BP spill proved the folly of that approach in a major way. President Obama did reverse his drilling policy, but he remained silent on the spill for over a month, while the Gulf coast suffered.

From the stand point of policy, President Obama (far from being too far to the left, as his Tea Party critics paint him) has been, if anything, too much on the side of the establishment and big business. For the most part, I can live with this...especially since he heads a party who can tend to drift too far to the left if not properly skippered.

But in terms of shear political performance, the ability to sell your policies and vision to the people, President Obama has just not done a good job of staying out in front. His minions have even been bitter, when we, the foot solders of the party have criticized their approaches, they tell us to "quit whining"about their political ineptittude...and yet they still send me emails...up to three a day...asking me to give money to the DNC.

Well, sorry guys...but no. No little (but big to me) check for you this year. I will work with my local party to reelect my Congressman, Tim Walz. I'll work with my local Democratic party to make sure that we return our local legislators to the State's House and Senate....but as for you in Washington...no...no cash for you...not until you get your act together.

Who knows, an enemy Congress actually helped spur Bill Clinton on to great things (Welfare Reform, a Balanced Budget)...maybe having a bunch of nuts in the House will help put some hair on Obama's chest. He has great potential, but so far, he hasn't lived up to it.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Are You in the Top One Percent?

I want to tell you about neat little web page I found today.

Then I want you to take a little test...get some idea about where you fit in on the American scale of wealth and power.

Democratic Politicians (and those further to the left), often site the uneven distribution of wealth and power in this country. You'll often hear phrases that say the Top 1% of the country holds 30, 40, 50 ...take your pick...percent of the wealth.

But one thing that seems quite clear is that, yes, larger and larger amounts of money have flowed into to a smaller and smaller number of hands since the "Reagan Revolution" of the 1980s. (Here is a report published by the Federal Reserve.)

It seems somewhat incredible that Americans would allow this to happen. After all, most of them have seen the good jobs head overseas, most have seen their wages (as defined by how much their dollar will actually buy) sink down through the years....

And yet, time and again, they end up voting FOR the people who argue in favor of this trickle down system, the party which promises them that they'll be better off holding the short end of the stick. If the polls are to be believed, they will AGAIN vote for the GOP and support it's efforts to redo the slight amounts of damage that the Obama administration has managed to undo.


Could it be that it is because, somehow, the GOP has convinced a significant portion of the people that THEY are in the top one percent? And that the Democrats have done a pretty poor job of communicating just exactly why THAT AIN'T SO?

So, with that in mind, check out this web site. The authors note that in 2000, Democrats warned that the Bush Tax cuts would bring benefits to only the top 1%. They write that, after the election...

a poll about this issue was conducted, and twenty percent of the people who were surveyed claimed that they were part of that richest one percent! These people clearly didn't realize how unequally wealth is distributed in this country. They were probably doing pretty well in life, at least compared with those around them that they could see, and so felt they were near the top. However, at the same time, they weren't doing well enough that they could feel totally secure, so they not only assumed (wrongly) that Gore was talking about them, but felt threatened by that talk

So, go on, visit and enter a few round numbers. Take the test. Are YOU in the Top one percent? When the Republicans talk about taking "OUR" money away....are they REALLY thinking of you?


Take the Test!

Republicans and Tea Partiers beware, however, you may find that you're NOT QUITE the player you think you are!

Go on...Take the Test!


Monday, July 19, 2010

Extending Unemployment: Obama Hits the Right Note.

It's no secret that we here at Rip and Read (and when I say "we", I mean me and the mouse and my pocket.) have been less than enamored with President Obama of late. Where we've looked for the soaring rhetoric and infectious confidence of a Franklin Roosevelt, we have found instead a less than inspiring style of leadership which reminds us of something between Richard Nixon at his most bland and a package of damp saltine crackers.

Still... there is, in the end, no doubt where our loyalty lies and we WANT to find reasons to champion the President.

Today, on You-Tube, he gave us one. In his speech on the need to extend unemployment benefits, President Obama hit the nail on the head when he said:

"After years of championing policies that turned a record surplus into a massive deficit, the same people [Republicans] who didn't have ANY problems spending hundreds of billions of dollars on tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans are now saying we shouldn't offer relief to middle class Americans...who really need help"

Unlike former Vice-President Dick Cheney, I DO believe that deficits matter. I think that it is of great importance that the United States Government remain strong and solvent.

As a concerned citizen, I am sick at the thought of how much money we have spent bailing out large corporations and banks, and, while I think that the infrastructure projects undertaken through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act are long overdue, I am by no means sanguine about spending the money now, when the cupboards are bare.

However, we really have no choice. Not only is continuing to extend a hand during profoundly uncertain times the moral thing to do, it is also the economically sane thing to do.

Time and time again, in this country, we have watched as the Republicans have returned us to "Supply Side Economics". We have watched as first the Reagan Era and now the Bush Era came crashing down in a giant recession, mired by scandals and the need for massive government action to clean up the mistakes (and crimes) of the unregulated Rich. We have watched as the "Trickle Down" theory has failed to work, and the gap between rich and poor has grown...leaving the ranks of the middle class both thinned and precariously placed.

So, yes, I'm worried about deficits. But the time to REALLY scream, rant and rave about them was six years ago, when George W. Bush and his tame congress where giving away money right and left. When they were not minding the store at the SEC or the Bureau of Mineral Management...laying the groundwork for disasters and deficits to come.

And all this comes years, decades, after the verdict was in supply-side economics. Trickle Down economics and an unregulated marketplace lead us into the Great Depression. Republican Herbert Hoover, clinging to his policies, was powerless to offer any relief. Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal began to put people back to work. World War Two, and the MASSIVE Government Spending that came with it, finished the job. The jury of history is so solidly in with the verdict that it seems unbelievable to me that we are evening debating it again.

We can argue how about how much we should spend, how much we should tax and when, but to waste time debating the merits of the case when Americans are out of work is ...well, it's just plain crazy.

I think that is what keeps me so near boiling point when it comes to politics these days. That those who drove this country off an economic cliff have the temerity to think that they should be allowed back at the wheel.

President Obama is right to call them out. He is right to remind both his opponents and supporters just WHOSE MESS THIS REALLY IS.

I, for one, am hoping for more of the same.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Education Spending Wasted...Cut 'em Loose.

Maybe the Mad Hatters over at the Tea Party have a point after all. The United States Census Bureau just released some data on school spending. Here are the results:

The percentage of public school funding from the federal government was highest in
Louisiana (16.8 percent),
Mississippi (16.0 percent)
and South Dakota (15.2 percent)

and lowest in:
New Jersey (3.9 percent),
Connecticut (4.2 percent)
and Massachusetts (5.1 percent).

What this means, of course, is that we in the Blue States are PAYING the taxes but we're spending them on the kids in the Red States. Obviously, it's pretty plain to see that our tax money isn't doing any good- we keep spending, but Louisiana and Mississippi remain too dumb to know what side of the bread their butter is on.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Obama's Oval Office Address: The Return of Nixonian Rhetoric

Watching President Obama's BP speech last night, all I could think was: "It's Richard Nixon. He has returned."

It pains me to say this, not only because I'm a passionate Democrat (that's no secret) but because I voted for Barak Obama. Not just as the lesser of two evils, but because I was impressed. Mr. Obama seemed to bring something back to politics that we haven't seen for decades. He seemed to bring an intelligence and eloquence that could inspire people to step up to the plate and make the tough choices America needs to make to get back on track.

And those choices will be tough. As soon as we've recovered from this recession, we need to curb spending and raise taxes to bring our debt under control. We need to begin ween ourselves off of oil. We need to give birth to entire new industries, probably "green" in nature, which will put our people back to work at jobs in which real products are made and sold to a world which cannot compete with our industry and ingenuity.

Duringt the campaign of '08, the right wing carped that Obama was "All talk" and "Just Words". But the supporters of candidate Obama knew that the BEST American ideas are just words. The Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, The Gettysburg Address, the inaugural speeches of FDR and JFK, in which one leader told us we had nothing to fear but fear itself and the other exhorted us to ask not what our country could do for us, but what we could do for our country, these are all "just words"... words that inspire our people to reach deep within themselves to find the needed energy to complete the job.

My disappointment this morning is not with the President's lack of words, but in their dead and droning quality.

Last night's Oval Office speech needed to be a stirring call to action. Instead, we were treated to a laundry list of lifeless facts and figures:
From the very beginning of this crisis, the federal government has been in charge of the largest environmental cleanup effort in our nation's history -- an effort led by Admiral Thad Allen, who has almost 40 years of experience responding to disasters. We now have nearly 30,000 personnel who are working across 4 states to contain and clean up the oil. 1000s of ships and other vessels are responding in the Gulf. And I've authorized the deployment of over 17,000 National Guard members along the coast.

As I listened to Mr. Obama drone through his address, all I could think of was the enumeration in Richard Nixon's famous Checker's speech:

First of all, we've got a house in Washington, which cost 41,000 dollars and on which we owe 20,000 dollars. We have a house in Whittier, California which cost 13,000 dollars and on which we owe 3000 dollars. My folks are living there at the present time. I have just 4000 dollars in life insurance, plus my GI policy which I've never been able to convert, and which will run out in two years. I have no life insurance whatever on Pat. I have no life insurance on our two youngsters, Tricia and Julie. I own a 1950 Oldsmobile car. We have our furniture. We have no stocks and bonds of any type. We have no interest of any kind, direct or indirect, in any business. Now, that's what we have.

I've noticed this alarming Nixonian tendency in the President before- one of his catch phrases seems to be: "Let me be clear"...how different is that from Dick Nixon's famous..."Now, Let me be perfectly clear".

But more dangerous than the hackneyed rhetorical style is a tendency toward the disingenuous.

In his speech last night, Mr. Obama referred to his action in March, authorizing drilling off the American East Coast. He said:

A few months ago, I approved a proposal to consider new, limited offshore drilling under the assurance that it would be absolutely safe –- that the proper technology would be in place and the necessary precautions would be taken.

That obviously was not the case in the Deepwater Horizon rig, and I want to know why.

As if there was some big mystery. On what possible grounds could the president believe that drilling, just off of our billion dollar fishing and tourist beaches, would be "absolutely safe"? If he'd said "worth the risk", I might have bought it. But "Absolutely Safe?"...even a lowly blogger with 10 or 11 readers could have guessed that it was not "absolutely safe"...and this one did, back in March.

Mr. President...cut the crap. You've still got me (and I'm just one of millions), but if anyone else out there is feeling as I do, the depth of your support is drying up. It goes without saying that I prefer you to a Republican Party which spews intolerance, voodoo economics, and just plain yokelism, but I don't want to go to the polls this fall out of a sense of resigned duty...I'd prefer to be inspired to do great things. It's hard to do that when your speeches are of a Nixonian level of dullness, and your actions are even less inspiring.

Sorry, but it needs to be said.

We know you can do much better, and it's time to start.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

HItting the Nail on the Head: How Liberals Have helped Right wingers

I have to admit, I'm not always a huge fan of Micheal Moore...from what I've seen, he tend to use cheap film making tricks to illicit emotion. Cold hard facts, a la PBS' Frontline, bring you to the same conclusions, but give you more of a leg to stand on.

Maybe it's because last night, I had to listen to a cousin, whom I'm very fond of, imply that ALL six hundred and fifty thousand of the people who've been put to work by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act this year are all welfare cheats and/or drug addicts....

In the face of such blind suspicion and anger, it's worth remembering what liberals have actually done, and this piece, posted on the website of lefty propagandist Micheal Moore actually does a pretty good job of that..

Day in the Life of Joe Middle-Class Republican

by John Gray

Joe gets up at 6:00am to prepare his morning coffee. He fills his pot full of good clean drinking water because some liberal fought for minimum water quality standards. He takes his daily medication with his first swallow of coffee. His medications are safe to take because some liberal fought to insure their safety and work as advertised.

Read the Rest...

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Silly Facebook Arguments: The Oil Spill....

Yesterday, I saw a great idea on Facebook, and posted it as my status.

Alex: just joined the "Stop the Spill by Using Sarah Palin to plug the pipe"....awesome idea!

I got a fair number of positive responses, but a good friend of mine, who also happens to be a die hard Republican wrote back:

GOPFriend: Oh sure... Your boy has sat back with his arms crossed for a month and yet you feel the need to throw Palin in the drink? Hmmm....

Here's my answer to my friend. I don't make any claims for scholarship or style...but in substance, it seems about right on the nose:

Alex: Sorry, buddy, I know you GOP types want your Katrina moment...and I'll even admit that I give Obama a pretty low grade on his response to this. But that does NOT change the fact that BP was allowed to put a dangerous rig in place with out adequate safety plans, etc.
On who's watch did THAT happen?
Why George W. Bush...of course.
Now, who campaigned on DRILL Baby DRILL?
Why...Sarah Palin, of course.

To be completely fair, Obama said he would allow more off-shore drilling about a month before this happened...if you saw my FB posts at the time, you'll remember that I expressed displeasure with "my boy" and urged other Democrats to write to the White House.

(This by the way was on March 31- by early May, the BP created disaster had struck. It was only a matter of time...it's ironic that it came so quickly.)

But, while Mr. Obama's reversal was disappointing, when it comes to comparisons between the two parties...there isn't one.

Between the failed banking system and Republican inspired lack of regulations....the irresponsible tax cuts which have helped plunge this country further into debt (Bill Clinton had the deficit headed in the RIGHT direction...and that's not politics, that's HISTORY- you can look it up.)...and now, with what we see was an 8 year free ride for the Oil Industry to do any damn thing it wanted and take any stupid risk it cared to...

...your "boys and girls" have proven that they can't even be trusted to go to the corner store to pick up a loaf of bread...let alone run the country.

So, there is blame enough for all...the American People (and I'm included) for using a car when feet or a bike will do and the Democrats (including President Obama) who play it politically safe and give into the calls of the addicts when they cry "Drill Baby Drill"...

...but I still think we may be allowed to reserve a special circle of blame for those members of the Republican party who cheerfully, actively lead us into the mess. Don't forget, and don't let anyone else forget, that from 1994 to 2008 the GOP controlled at least TWO of the THREE branches of Government- and from 2004 to 2006 they controlled all three branches. The patterns of today were set in those years.

To be honest, I thought my friend Jennifer had the best plan...postulating that ex-Governor Palin was too skinny stop up the pipe, Jennifer suggested that we add Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck and Sean Hannity...sounds like a plan to me.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Freedom Isn't Free: Civilian Side

Note, this is an email I sent earlier today. I copy and paste it here, spelling mistakes and grammar glitches intact due to lack of time to fix them.

I got the following email today, and I have to admit, this kind of thing waggles me enough that I can't help but respond:

Here's the email:

Congressional Reform Act of 2010
We need to get a Senator to introduce this bill in the US Senate and a Representative to introduce a similar bill in the US House. These people will become American hero's..

1. Term Limits: 12 years only, one of the possible options below.

A. Two Six year Senate terms
B. Six Two year House terms
C. One Six year Senate term and three Two Year House terms

Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, serve your term(s), then go home and back to work.

And my answer:

I just can't agree with you. Think about it for a minute. Right now, the Gulf of Mexico is going under, as oil burbles to the surface, killing the envirnment, killing tourism, killing jobs, killing the fishing industry..and...need I go on?

Now, how was that allowed to happen? Answer: Short and Sweet...NOT because of TOO MUCH GOV'T ...but too little, and what there was was BAD. Bad Gov't in that the Republican Congress of the early 2000s and the Republican administration took BP's word that they had a safe rig and adequate safty plans in place...

The economic crisis? Same thing..not too much gov't, but not enough. Where were the lawmakers? Where were the regulators...answer? Off cheerleading for big business.

The article you forwarded talks about term limits. We already HAVE term limits...they are called "Elections"...if you don't like your current Senator or Congressman, campaign against him. Knock on doors, write emails, join citizen's groups, contribute small amounts to his/her campaign. Anyone who tells you that it won't work is wrong...

But as for me, I happen to really appreciate much of the work of my current Congressman, Tim Walz, here in Minnesota. I think our Senators Amy Klobucher and Al Franken are doing a great job.

And back home in Vermont? Well, Patrick Leahy is head of the judiciary committee...and Bernie Sanders, god bless his loudmouthed soul, is raising holy hell right now, demanding that BP and not the Taxpayer be forced to pay the tab for this clean up.

Leahy has been in the Senate since the 70s and I hope he NEVER retires. Because when BP, or AIG send polished, slick, smart and crafty executives who have experience stretching back 20 to 30 years to a Senate hearing to testify about how what they are doing will be so great for the American people, I want them to be questioned and held accountable by a smart, sassy, experienced Senator who is ALSO wise in the ways of the world and who knows what questions to ask...I do NOT want my safety and quality of life left in the hands of some greenhorn who just arrived in Washington last week with 50 other greenhorns who don't know (pardon my french) shit from shinola.

Talk about the guinea pig guarding the hen house.

As for the pay issue...again...the United States is the biggest organization in the world. If you expect intelligent, qualified people to do the job, then you've got to pay them what they are worth. As it is, the monetary compensation of gov't work are such they are already paid MUCH less than their counterparts in the private sector...

This note talks about the founding fathers wanting "citizen" legislators. Okay, there may be some truth to that actually, but keep in mind that with VERY few exceptions most of the founders were VERY wealthy men. They did not envision that anyone BUT the very wealthy would ever participate in government...so they could afford to be "citizen legislators....but as for the idea of Term Limits? Forget it. The founders KNEW they were the most qualified boys on the block to run the show, and do any less but continue to serve throughout their adult lives would have been repugnant to them.

George Washington was first elected to the Virgina House of Burgesses in 1758...he ended his political career in 1797 That's a political career just short of 40 YEARS...

John Adams, who perhaps did more, politically, to get the Declaration of Independence drafted and through the Continental Congress and who went on to be the second president, began his career as an elected official in 1770 and left the White House in 1801-- that's a political career of 31 years. He would have gladly served longer but he lost the presidency to...

...Thomas Jefferson, who began HIS political career 1769 left the White House in 1809--another 40 year political career.

Ben Franklin- first elected to city council in 1748, elected to colonial Pennsylvania Legislature in 1751, and served in various diplomatic and political roles until his death in 1790.

Let's talk about some other great Americans. Abe Lincoln is often thought of as the Log Cabin President, and most people seem to imagine that he came from nowhere...not so...Lincoln ran for office the first time in 1832, served in the state legislature, was elected to the US Congress for a term, and ran, unsuccessfuly for the US Senate...all the while remaining a very powerful political figure in his home state of Illinois...his career ended in 1865 upon his death. His political career, which was cut short, lasted 33 years.

Teddy Roosevelt? Started in 1881 with his election to the NY state assembly....left the White House in 1909...ran AGAIN for the Presidency on a third party ticket in 1912. 31 years.

None of these great American leaders would have developed the experience they needed to be great American leaders if they had been subjected to Term Limits.

Term limits is a cry taken up by two kinds of people...the far right, who just can't understand why most Americans, despite their mild conservativism, won't agree to cut their own throats and throw away all the progress that we've made...so they blame "congress" because they can't get their guys elected.

The other kind of person who espouses term limits is, in my opinion: Just Plain Lazy. They often say that "Freedom isn't Free" and usually, they are talking about the military. But it's just as true on the civilian side...as I've noted before, the US is the largest organization on the face of the earth, and as citizens- WE are actually the ones charged with running it. Sure, we have representatives, because 300 million people can't all talk at once- but it's OUR job to pay attention. It should be our job to spend at least one hour a week staying informed, going to public meetings, writing informed letters to our representatives, and volunteering for the campaigns of those who wish to represent us.

Instead, however, lazy people who don't want to watch carefully those people they've hired to represent them, want to have some kind of automatic system.in place to do the job for them....and, the biggest irony is, that system won't even work.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day Thoughts

I never served my country in the armed forces. So not only am I in debt to those who have for my freedom, but I also hold them in awe.

It bothers me when they are used to score political points. Perhaps I am playing politics by responding, but I'd rather think that I am trying to keep their memory sacred by not allowing others to drag them down into the mud of partisan bickering.

I managed to get myself on the mailing list of the local Tea Party. Today, I received this message from them:

Remind those of our sacrifice and don't confuse arrogance with leadership.

The American Cemetery at Aisne-Marne France .. A total of 2,289
The American Cemetery at Ardennes,Belgium A total of 5,329
The American Cemetery at Brittany,France A total of 4,410
Brookwood, England at American Cemetery. A total of 468
Cambridge, England ..3,812
Epinal, France American Cemetery.. A total of 5,525
Flanders Field, Belgium .. A total of 368
Florence, Italy.. A total of 4,402
Henri Chapelle, Belgium, .. A total of 7,992
Lorraine, France .. A total of 10,489
Luxembourg, Luxembourg .. A total of 5,076
Meuse-Argonne .. A total of 14,246
Netherlands, Netherlands .. A total of 8,301
Normandy, France .. A total of 9,387
Oise-Aisne, France .. A total of 6,012
Rhone , France .. A total of 861
Sicily, Italy .. A total of 7,861
Somme, France .. A total of 1,844
St. Mihiel, France .. A total of 4,153
Suresnes, France .. A total of 1,541

The count is 104,366 dead brave Americans.

And we have to watch an American elected leader who apologizes to Europe and the Middle East that our country is "arrogant".


To honor those who fell in Europe helping to fend off, first German Imperialism enforced through a policy of "frightfullness" and then, later to face Nazism and defeat is ABSOLUTELY CORRECT.

But the radical right go further, as they always seem to do. They use this solemn American Day to try and an paint the president as unpatriotic, AND they accuse the French, Dutch and British of being cowards, of not having fought for "us".

Perhaps it is worth considering, as these radicals try to appropriate Memorial Day to their own ends, that it was right-wing groups in the 1930s, namely the German-American Bund and the America First Movement, who ensured that, while Great Britain began her fight against Hitler in 1939, America did not enter the war against evil until December 1941- over two years later.

So, Tea Partiers, while you are correct to honor Americans who fell on foreign fields, you are wrong, very wrong ...and arrogant...to insult our allies.

The Dutch, the French, and the British DIED where they stood to defend AMERICAN freedom to oppose the fight against fascism. While right-wingers in America had the freedom to criticize FDR for his sympathy for the struggle of England, France, Denmark, Holland and Belgium in their fight against the dark powers, our European cousins lost their homes, cities, families and lives...sacrificing ALL to buy us time to decide to do the right thing. Just as you do today, these other American right-wingers of days gone by complained about "European Arrogance".

Just as you owe the American Solider a debt today, you owe an equal debt to those from other lands who fell in their own countries to keep you safe.

So, you've said you're piece, I've answered with mine. I suggest now that EVERYBODY shut up and pay some respect to those to whom we owe everything.
War Memorial In St. Paul Minnesota

War Memorial In London, UK

Monday, May 24, 2010

Rep. James Oberstart at DFL DInner

I got to do a guest shot today as "reporter" at the Rochester Democrat...thanks Paul!

The entry is here:

Friday, May 21, 2010

Right Wing Slap!

Recently, I've been playing a game with some young (and liberal) friends on Facebook, which I've come to call "Right Wing Slap!". This game started after my friend slapped a picture of Ronald Reagan on my FB page- not the visage upon which I wish to look while enjoying my morning coffee.

The game works like this.

SLAP a picture of a right wing figure (if playing internationally, the figure should be from THEIR country. For example, someone from the UK would slap me with Reagan, I might counter by slapping them with Margret Thatcher.)

When you've been Slapped, you must first post an antidote (example: I get slapped with Joe McCarthy, I post a picture of Edward R. Murrow as an antidote. I am THEN free to SLAP my friend with, say, David Cameron.)

When playing against people from your OWN country, of course, you are free to use figures from you political spectrum.

This game can also be played against a Right Winger...if playing against someone from the GOP- I might slap a picture of Bill Clinton on their page, they may choose George W. Bush as their antidote.

One of the benefits of this is that it provides an excuse to take a trip down memory lane... in searching for great conservative moments in recent British History, I found this awesome you tube video of Maggie Thatcher running the table against Labor's benches.

I wouldn't have voted for Maggie, but it is not to be denied that she had style!