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.