Friday, October 31, 2008

A Sorry Opinion... Indeed

First, I want to say that I was much gratified to find another person who reads the New York Times each day for its entertainment value. Bernard Goldberg wrote a book titled, "Crazies To the Left of Me, Wimps To the Right," which I read this week. I don't agree with everything Mr. Goldberg says, but I can say that I'm on the same page with him in most things. I really recommend the read...

But on with today's subject!

The New York Times has an editorial piece titled, "More Money for Detroit." This particular opinion piece should highlight quite beautifully why I find so much entertainment from these people. They're clearly... nuts. The article begins by saying, 

Here is a measure of just how grim the economic outlook is: It seems to make sense to pump billions more taxpayer dollars into Detroit's automakers even though down the road they could quite possibly go bust anyway.

Really??? That makes sense to you? Pray tell, WHY?!?

They then go on to say that the request by GM and Chrysler is preposterous because both companies are losing money hand over fist and now they're requesting a load of cash to go along with a merger. The NYT says, "Gluing them together would not change this dynamic." But the editorial goes on to argue that the money should be tossed over to them anyway. 

Why? Get this: because "they are expected to offload responsibility for their retirees' health care onto a new fund... they have negotiated new contracts with the auto workers' union that eliminate retiree health care and allow for lower wages for new hires... Some analysts believe they finally have a promising lineup of fuel-efficient cars..." And last but not least, "Even if Detroit's car companies do not manage to survive in the longer term, it may still be worthwhile to keep them from going bankrupt next year. The economy and the job market will have their hands full dealing with the fallout from the near-collapse of the financial system." 

So... taxpayers are supposed to be fine with pumping billions of dollars into failing companies -- partly because these companies are no longer going to be providing their employees with health care upon retirement, which will lead the taxpayers having to pay for those benefits as well... Also, because the companies are now going to be paying less money to their workers, which means fewer tax payers (because people making less money really don't pay taxes). And because even though the bailout may not (and probably won't) work, we shouldn't let the companies go bankrupt next year -- we need to save that treat for another time. 

According to the NYT, allowing these companies to fail next year would be extremely costly to the government because the government's pension guarantee corporation would have to "pick up some of the tab for hundreds of thousands of retirees." Is the NYT actually trying to say that the government won't need to pick up this tab in a later year? Methinks not... 

They also state that, "Detroit's three automakers employ hundreds of thousands of workers and support several million jobs in related industries like auto-part manufacturing and car sales." Yes. This is true. But somebody needs to explain to me how pumping billions of taxpayer dollars into the companies is going to change their sales data? If they're not selling cars, they're not selling cars. So if we pump more money into their companies so that they can continue to make cars that aren't selling, we're just forestalling the inevitable -- and wasting billions of dollars in the process. 

The NYT ends its editorial with this paragraph:

We realize that helping Detroit involves big risks. After bailing out the financial system, it will encourage other companies to seek sustenance at Washington's trough. Washington will have to learn to say no. But at this juncture, Detroit is too big to allow it to fail. And who knows? It may learn to survive.

Oy. At least they have things right when they call it "Washington's trough." Ever notice that much of what comes out of Washington is in reference to pigs? The "public trough" and "pork" are the most prominent. And very fitting, if you ask me. 

Too big to fail... sheesh. Keep in mind, there's no such thing as a government that is "too big to fail." 

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Fix Our Broken Souls

"I think about this little girl in Newberry, South Carolina. And she was ten years old. She said,  'Do you realize that when your husband becomes the next president of the United States, it will be historical?' But I thought to say, 'Well, what does that mean to you?' And she said, 'It means that I can imagine anything for myself.' And then that little girl started to cry. I mean she broke down in hard tears, streaming down her face, sobbing. This little girl gets it. See, she knows what's at stake. She knows that she's probably already five steps behind in schools that are underfunded, without the resources to prepare her. She knows that if she or her family gets sick, she doesn't have access to a primary care doctor. She's going to be sitting in some ER for hours on end. She knows that her parents' work situation is hit or miss. They don't know what's going to happen day to day. She knows that. But you know what she also knows? That she's so much better than this nation's limited expectations of her. And all she has is hope. That's all she has, is a little hoping and praying, and she's hoping upon hope that we get this right. She is hoping that we get this right. There are parts of that little girl in all of us, especially those of us who are struggling, who have hit some ceiling where they've been told you're not good enough, that you're not ready, that you're not smart enough. 'No, don't, you can't, wait your turn.' We have all heard those limits." - Michelle Obama, 2008

"Generally the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties - it says what the states can't do to you, it says what the federal government can't do to you. But it doesn't say what the federal government or the state government must do on your behalf." - Barack Obama, 2001

It's interesting to learn more and more about the way Barack Obama thinks. Frankly, the more I hear, the less I like him... and I didn't have a whole lot of love to begin with. But to refer to the Constitution of the United States as a "charter of negative liberties" ...well, that's a new one. Limiting the power of the federal government isn't a "negative liberty." 

That said, Barack Obama is off in his assessment of our Constitution in a more basic way as well. The Preamble to the Constitution says, "We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

Words are important, so let's take a look at the words our framers used. They wanted to form a more perfect union. That's pretty self explanatory. 

They wanted to establish justice. They chose to do this through our governmental system which includes a distinct separation of powers. (Our framers understood a little something about human nature, it seems.) Thus, they created the legislative branch, the executive branch, and the judicial branch. All three branches work together to establish justice. 

They wanted to insure domestic tranquility and provide for the common defense as well as promote the general welfare of the citizenry. They did this through the "powers of congress" section of the constitution. Here are the specific powers granted to congress:

To borrow money on the credit of the United States.

To regulate Commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes.

To establish a uniform rule of naturalization, and uniform laws on the subject of bankruptcies throughout the United States.

To coin money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign coin, and fix the standard of weights and measures.

To provide for the punishment of counterfeiting the securities and current coin of the United States.

To establish post offices and post roads.

To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.

To constitute tribunals inferior to the supreme court.

To define and punish piracies and felonies committed on the high seas and offenses against the law of nations.

To declare war, grant letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water.

To raise and support armies, but no appropriation of money to that use shall be for a longer term than two years.

To provide and maintain a Navy.

To make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces.

To provide for calling forth the Militia and execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions.

To provide for organizing, arming and disciplining the Militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress.

To exercise exclusive Legislation in all cases whatsoever, over such district (not exceeding ten miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like authority over all places purchased by the consent of the legislature of the State in which the same shall be, for the erection of forts, magazines, arsenals, dock-yards, and other needful buildings.

To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.

I would make the argument, then, that the Constitution is specifically spelling out what the federal government must do for us. It says that they are to establish and maintain justice. They are to provide for our defense with armies and navies. And they are to establish and maintain a system of money. 

Then there's another section of the Constitution that imposes limits on congress. Here are the limits:

The migration or importation of such persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a tax or duty may be imposed on such importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each person.

The privilege of the write of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it.

No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto law shall be passed.

No capitation, or other direct, tax shall be laid unless in proportion to the census or enumeration herein before directed to be taken.

No tax or duty shall be laid on articles exported from any State.

No preference shall be given by any regulation of commerce or revenue to the ports of one State over those of another: nor shall vessels bound to, or from, one State, be obliged to enter, clear, or pay duties in another.

No money shall be drawn from the treasury, but in consequence of appropriations made by law; and a regular statement and account of the receipts and expenditures of all public money shall be published from time to time.

No title of nobility shall be granted by the United States: and no person holding any office of profit or trust under them shall, without the consent of the Congress, accept of any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince or foreign State.

So there are things the government must do on our behalf - and things the government must not do. Of course, in 1913, the government amended the Constitution with Amendment 16 saying that "Ya-huh! We can collect taxes on incomes!!" Of course, their wording was a bit better, "The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration." Whew! At least they got that out of the way for Obama... but now he's still not satisfied with the document... because it doesn't demand the redistributive reparations he is seeking. I would argue that it not only doesn't demand it of government, but it doesn't allow it of them. 

Now the games we're playing with words include:

"None of us want to see unnecessary burdens on business, but after what we've seen on Wall Street, isn't it obvious by now that we need some common sense rules of the road to protect consumers and our economy?" - Barack Obama (note - he uses the phrase "unnecessary burdens," followed by a "but")

"He (Obama) is not spreading the wealth around. He's talking about giving the middle class an opportunity to get back the tax breaks they used to have... We think the people should be getting that tax break are not continuing to redistribute the wealth up. We think middle class tax payers should get a tax break." - Joe Biden (note - "redistribute the wealth up." What in the world is that?)

"I think when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody." - Barack Obama

"I know this has been a pretty mean campaign. I was on a television station the other day and doing a satellite feed to a major network in Florida. And the anchor quotes Karl Marx and says in a sense, isn't Barack Obama Karl Marx? You know, I mean, folks, this stuff you're hearing in this campaign, some of it is pretty ugly." - Joe Biden

"What the critics are missing is that the term 'redistribution' didn't mean in the constitutional context equalized wealth or anything like that. It meant some positive rights, most prominently the right to education, and also the right to a lawyer. What he's saying - this is the irony of it - he's basically taking the side of the conservatives then and now against the liberals." - Harvard Law Professor Cass Sunstein, muddying the waters (and his brain) on Obama's "redistribution of wealth" comments. (Note the redefining of "redistribution." Not "equalized wealth," simply "positive rights.")

Ah, well. As Jonah Goldberg said, "In short, Obama and his disciples only demand one kind of transcendence from all Americans. We must, as Obama likes to say, unite as one people, one nation, one American family and transcend all our misgivings about Barack Obama. Then, and only then, will The One fulfill his wife's pledge and fix our broken souls. Only a racist could possibly disagree." 

Monday, October 27, 2008

How Politics Is Played

Joe Biden was interviewed by Barbara West of WFTV out of Orlando. Apparently, Bob Jordan, the news director, decided not to ask softball questions. For once, they were actually very good questions... such as:

"Aren't you embarrassed by the blatant attempts to register phony voters by ACORN, an organization that Barack Obama has been tied to in the past?" Biden answered by saying that he wasn't embarrassed because they aren't actually tied to ACORN. He claimed that the campaign hasn't given a dime to ACORN for registration of voters. 

When asked if Obama's comment to Joe the Plumber about spreading the wealth around was a potentially crushing political blunder, Biden said, "Absolutely not. The only person to spread the wealth around has been George Bush and John McCain's tax policy. They have devastated the middle class. For the first time since the 20s, 1 % of the people make over 21% of all the income in America. That wasn't the way before George Bush became president. All we want is the middle class to once again have a fighting chance. That's why we focus all our efforts on restoring the middle class and giving them a tax break and John McCain doubles down on Bush's tax cut..."

Next question... "You may recognize this quote: 'From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.' That's from Karl Marx. How is Senator Obama not being a Marxist if he intends to spread the wealth around?" This upset Biden. Clearly, the Obama campaign is not used to actually being questioned on their policies. Biden responded, "Are you joking? Is this a joke? Is this a real question? He is NOT spreading the wealth around. He's talking about giving the middle class an opportunity to get back the tax breaks they used to have. What has happened, just this year, people making one point four million dollars average, the top one percent - good, decent American people - are gonna get a new 87 billion dollar tax cut. A NEW one. On top of last year. We think the people should be getting that tax break, and not continue to redistribute the wealth up, we think middle class tax payers should get a tax break. That's what we think. It's a ridiculous comparison, with all due respect."

How funny. Obama said that he thought they should "spread the wealth around." Yes, this is a direct quote - you can watch it on YouTube. But now, politics requires that they say somebody ELSE has been spreading the wealth around and it needs to stop. Yes, Biden is actually claiming that up to this point, we've been guilty of redistributing the wealth UP. Not quite sure how he's thinking that's the case... but HEY. Whatever it takes to deflect attention from the mistakes of the Obama campaign. 

Well, one would think that Obama and Biden would be glad for a chance to rephrase their past blunders... but apparently not. Since this interview, Obama's campaign decided to punish the news station by pulling the plug on the already scheduled interviews in the future. The Central Florida communications director for the Obama campaign, Laura K. McGinnis, wrote to the news station, "This cancellation is non-negotiable, and further opportunities for your station to interview with this campaign are unlikely at best for the duration of the remaining days until the election." 

Oh, well... 

Wonder what it will be like if they get in office? Guess everybody will have to try really hard not to make them mad...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


I have to say, I hate it when the people I'm going to vote for do or say something stupid. But I'm certainly not going to fail to point it out when they do.

Just in case you've been living in a cave the past few days... did you know that Joe Biden said something really stupid? (No, I'm not supporting Biden... but this is background.) Yes, Joe Biden said, "Mark my words. It will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy. The world is looking. We're about to elect a brilliant 47-year-old senator president of the United States of America. Remember I said it standing here if you don't remember anything else I said." (Betcha he's wishing right now he hadn't asked folks to remember this.) "Watch, we're gonna have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy.... and he's gonna need help. And the kind of help he's gonna need is, he's gonna need you - not financially to help him - we're gonna need you to use your influence, your influence within the community, to stand with him. Because it's not gonna be apparent initially, it's not gonna be apparent that we're right." This is weird enough... but then he went on to ask the crowd to "gird your loins." Hooo---ee. Gotta love that. 

So, yes. This was stupid. And I really think the Republicans should just let the Democrats say their stupid things without trying to compete with them. But NO. We can't do that, can we? So McCain decided to get in on the action. McCain tried today to score some political points on his side by saying that enemies wouldn't similarly challenge him as president. "They know I've been tested. They know I've been tested. I've been tested many times." I'm sorry - but I think this is really dumb. First of all, we don't even know what kind of threat Joe the senator was talking about. We have no idea what kind of "test" he's manufacturing in his strange little brain.  But now McCain is going to come out and say that nobody's going to test him? Why? Because he was in Vietnam? 

Don't get me wrong - I know he's a war hero. I know he served his country well and with incredible honor during those years. But that doesn't mean our enemies are going to consider him thoroughly tested and not mess with the United States on his watch... that was just, in my opinion (of course), a really stupid thing to promise.

And maybe it's just me -- or maybe I'm just being affected by the polling data (that I know is none too accurate). But it's looking to me like we're going to end up with a president Obama. He's going to make Bill Clinton look like a mischievous little school boy. Maybe I'm just a bit low tonight, and the glass of wine is affecting my head. But I'm thinking that the economy is in the tank, the country is going to elect Socialist Obama (and NO, "socialist" is NOT code for "black" - gracious, did you hear about that one?), and... well, woe is me. 

Why can't the Republicans just let the Democrats implode? With Biden helping, it might work. And I really think the best strategy is a mostly silent one this time. But, alas... they didn't ask me. 

Saturday, October 18, 2008

"Non-Regulation" As I See It

"The concept of non-regulation means don't mess with business and business will take care of us," said Mike Jones 63, a geologist in Elko, Nev., who is considering voting for a Democrat for the first time in his life. "But I was looking to retire, and now what do I retire on?" -- "Beneath the Issues, Strong Personal Views," by Jennifer Steinhauer, published October 17th in the New York Times. 

It sounds to me like maybe Mike is a bit confused. The ideas behind unfettered capitalism don't include "business will take care of us." I'm pretty sure that a free, capitalistic society means that we're supposed to take care of ourselves. The whole point of a market economy is that it's the best way to make an economy strong. Supply and demand... all that good stuff. And a strong economy means more jobs. More jobs means the ability for people like Mike to earn a decent income and the opportunity to prepare for their eventual retirement. 

But where do grown men get the idea that their welfare is somebody else's job? Why do people think that there's always supposed to be somebody out there to take care of them? Where did the independent spirit of the American electorate go? 

Is it too late? Are there no longer enough people out there who wish to embrace freedom and the responsibility that it entails? Because you have to make a choice. You can either choose for yourself a sense of "security" or freedom. But wait - don't make that choice quite yet. Not until you completely understand all the implications.

Please notice that you are not choosing between freedom and security, but between freedom and a sense of security. And there is an enormous difference. Once you give over your freedom for that sense of security, you are no longer in charge of your welfare. 

I suppose there is a certain kind of person in the world who gets some satisfaction out of knowing that someone else is truly to blame for their misery. Maybe the idea of failure is so unthinkable that they would rather the failure belong to someone else. But keep in mind... if we decide as a country to give our freedoms up to be "taken care of" by our government, our misery and failure will be nobody's fault but our own.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Joe the Plumber

Joe the Plumber, or as he's known by the New York Times, "Mr. Liar Liar Pants On Fire," must be a fascinating individual indeed. I kind of like him. It seems that Barack Obama came to campaign on Joe's street - and Joe seized on the opportunity to ask a tax question of Barack Obama and got an answer that gave clear outline to Obama's Marxist leanings. Thank GOD for Joe the Plumber, because I honestly don't know if the last debate would have gone as well without that quote from Obama. 

But WAIT! Is Joe really a plumber?? You know, this matters a lot -- to the press. Anything to deflect attention from Barack Obama's grave mistake of telling the truth about his own policy. And the press has decided that NO. Joe the Plumber is no plumber at all. True, he works for a plumbing company... and true, he does plumbing work. But that doesn't make him a plumber. No, siree. What makes a plumber a plumber is, apparently, a state license. And Joe doesn't have one and thus cannot possibly be a plumber. But this... THIS... is only part of the "real deal" on Joe the Plumber (published October 16th in the NYT). 

It turns out that good ole Joe is almost as bad as - dare I say it? - Sarah Palin! Yes, the horrible truths the press managed to dig up are difficult and painful, but we must face them. After all, the press has no agenda... they only want to encourage truth, justice and the American way. Right?

So get this tidbit... the man's real name isn't even Joe. No! Say it ain't so! Well, the truth must come out. His REAL name is, according to the NYT, Samuel J. Wurzelbacher. So... if he's willing to lie about his own name... I mean, c'mon!! Gee... I wonder what that "J" stands for? Let's give a hand to the press for digging up the truth on this man! We certainly can't have him making policy for the country if he's not even forthcoming on his full name when asking a question of the anointed one. (Oh, wait - Joe, Samuel J., wasn't going to be making any policy, was he?) But the unbiased press just wanted to hear the truth... (only don't say Barack's full name because that's racist). 

We can also rest easy knowing that the press was willing to dig into this situation enough to have tax analysts look into Samuel J.'s taxes in order to show that Mr. Non-Plumber's question itself was flawed. Mr. Non-Plumber's taxes aren't likely to rise... that makes me rest easy. I was really worried about Joe! But if Joe's taxes aren't likely to rise, then that whole question about spreading the wealth around is a moot point, right? 

Samuel J. Non-Plumber is the very picture of a working American. Single father, works all day, comes home at night and fixes dinner while helping his 13 year old son with his homework. That said, though, he clearly needs to be brought down a peg or two for not looking to the Democrat party and Marxism - and other people's money - to better himself. 

Samuel J. works for a small outfit -- just himself and his boss, the owner of the plumbing company. Nervy little (or big) fellow didn't answer the New York Time's phone calls... so the NYT decided to publish that he "has provided only vague information on his and the company's finances since talking to Mr. Obama." The NERVE of him... I mean, if a citizen of this country is going to ask a question of a presidential candidate, they need to be prepared to have their finances, their taxes, and their entire lives under intense scrutiny. It's only fair, right?

So, in the interest of truth, justice and the American way, the NYT also reported that Mr. Non-Plumber has had two liens... a lien with a hospital which has been settled and a tax lien that is still outstanding. 

So the picture that the NYT presents is as negative as they could possibly make it -- Joe the Plumber is:
a.) not a plumber
b.) a liar
c.) a deadbeat

But the bigger picture is that Joe the Plumber is:
a.) actually a plumber, just not a licensed one
b.) a man who most likely goes by his middle name
c.) a man who has had medical issues... and still does not want nationalized health care
d.) a man who saw an opportunity to ask a question of Obama
e.) a hard working single parent who still doesn't want a hand-out from his neighbor

Okay - now that we've got that established, let's just talk a minute about truth, justice and the American way in the press. Look at all that scrutiny they gave to poor Joe. I'll bet they've almost made him sorry he asked the stupid question (which is probably the point -- fewer people will be willing to do so in the future, knowing what's going to happen to THEM). But what questions are they unwilling to dig into and report on when it comes to Barack Obama?

1., How is it possible that Obama went to church for twenty years without hearing the offensive preaching? Did he sleep while he was there?

2., In 2004, when talking to a reporter from the Chicago Sun Times, Obama named Father Pfleger as a "friend and advisor" who "helps him keep his compass set." Being a friend of Pfleger, did Obama know his views on race and politics? Were those views what helped set his compass then?

3., Obama's father was a Muslim. After his parents divorced, his mother remarried to another Muslim. What did this upbringing bring to Obama's worldview? Is this why he was comfortable with his pastor, friend and mentor praising the likes of Louis Farrakhan, leader of Nation of Islam?

4., What, specifically, has Obama's past and present affiliation with ACORN been? Obama's campaign gave ACORN over $800,000... what, specifically, was this money paid to them for? What contracts were signed and negotiated?

5., How many close relationships has Obama had that have been questionable? And how many more people can he possibly distance himself from without becoming very, very lonely?

These are not questions I expect the press to actually dig into... but I have to say, the work they've done on Joe the Plumber has been expansive and vigorous (to say the least). And to think - all he did was ask a question.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Finally - A Real Debate!

I have to admit, my hopes were not high going into last night's debate between McCain and Obama. The last two debates were so dull I couldn't even make it through. But I was pleasantly surprised on many fronts, although it didn't start out looking like I would be. McCain started out by saying, "Americans are hurting right now, and they're angry... They're innocent victims of greed and excess on Wall Street and as well as Washington, D.C." At this point, I thought it was going to just be more of the same... and I thought, "What about those of us who are frustrated and angry because we're innocent victims of the American government taking money from us to fix the bad choices of our neighbors?"

I was somewhat gratified, however, to hear from McCain that the $300 billion he wants to use to shore up the housing market comes from the $750 billion already passed. I highly doubt that he will have any success in extracting this from congress at this point, since they're already working on even more bailouts, but at least his idea wasn't to pass an extra bill for that.

McCain launched into Joe the plumber right at the beginning of the debate. Most people had no clue about Joe the plumber until last night... so a bit of background on this for you. Joe Wurzelbacher approached Obama in Ohio and asked him a question about the taxes on a plumbing business he is preparing to purchase. According to Joe, the business makes between 250K and 270K each year. He took issue with Obama wanting to charge him a higher tax rate. Here's Obama's somewhat lengthy response:
"Well, here's what's gonna happen... First of all, you get a 50 percent tax credit, so you get a cut of taxes for your health care costs. So you would actually get a tax cut on that front. If your revenue is above two-fifty, then from two-fifty down your tax is gonna stay the same. Now it's true that from two-fifty up, say from two-fifty to three hundred or so...(Joe tries to interrupt and Obama talks over him) I just wanna answer your question. So for that additional amount, you go from 36 to 39 percent which is what it was under Bill Clinton. And the reason we're doing that is because 95% of small business make less than two-fifty. So what I wanna do is give them a tax cut. I wanna give all these folks who are, you know, bus drivers, teachers, auto workers who make less, I want to give them a tax cut. So what we're doing is we are saying that the folks who make more than two fifty, that marginal amount above two-fifty is going to be taxed at a 39 instead of a 36% rate... There are two ways of looking at it. I mean, one way of looking at it is - now that you've become more successful (Joe interjects 'through hard work') through hard work, you don't want to be taxed as much, which I understand. But another way of looking at it is, 95% of folks who are making less than two-fifty, they may be working hard, too. But they're being taxed at a higher rate than they would be under mine. So what I'm doing is... project, put yourself back ten years ago when you were only making whatever - sixty or seventy - under my tax plan, you would be keeping more of your paycheck, you would have lower taxes, which means that you would have saved and gotten to the point where you are faster... My attitude is that if the economy is good for the folks from the bottom up, it's gonna be good for everybody. If you've got a plumbing business, you're gonna be better off if you've got a whole bunch of customers who can afford to hire you. Right now, everybody's so pinched that business is bad for everybody. And I think when we spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody."

So McCain accuses Obama of making the American dream of owning your own business more difficult. Obama responded by saying that McCain wants to give $200 billion in tax breaks to the wealthiest corporations in America. (This is funny... because the idea of a plumbing business bringing in 250K per year being one of the wealthiest businesses in America is ludicrous - and yet Obama is wanting to raise their tax rates, too.) He also said that independent studies have looked at their respective plans and concluded that Obama gives three times the amount of tax relief to middle-class families than Senator McCain. (Of course, this becomes an easy thing to achieve when you're even mailing checks to people who don't pay any taxes at all.) Obama also claimed that 98 percent of small businesses make less than 250K, which doesn't hold up under the microscope of government statistics. According to the numbers available through the economic census, only 54% of small businesses make under 500K. (I couldn't find any statistical information that went only to 250K.)

In going round and round on the tax issue, Barack Obama says this:
"I want to cut taxes for 95 percent of Americans. Now, it is true that my friend and supporter, Warren Buffet, for example, could afford to pay a little more in taxes in order to give additional tax cuts to Joe the plumber before he was at the point where he could make $250,000." And then on and on to the people who are trying to figure out how they're going to afford food and save for their kids college education. (Maybe it's just me, but I think if people don't know where their next meal is coming from, they're probably not thinking about college.) So Obama knows that nobody likes taxes, but that "ultimately we've got to pay for the core investments that make this economy strong, and somebody's got to do it." Call me crazy, but I didn't know that our economy was ever made strong by taking from the rich and doling it out to people who aren't as rich. Because let's get real here... if you're working, and you're coming home to cable television and X-Box and internet access... if you're smoking cigarettes and buying beer and going outside on your four-wheeler, you're not poor. If you have those things and you don't know where your next meal is going to come from, you need a lesson in budgeting. 

After Obama once again tried to connect McCain with President Bush (which is pretty funny, considering how often McCain went against Bush in the last eight years), McCain said, "Senator Obama, I am not President Bush. If you wanted to run against President Bush, you should have run four years ago. I'm going to give a new direction to this economy in this country." Not a bad response, really. 

And on the issue of reform, McCain challenged Obama to come up with one issue where he stood up to the leaders of his party. Obama answered that with supporting tort reform which wasn't very popular with trial lawyers (so?) and supporting charter schools which isn't popular with teachers' unions. But neither the teachers' unions or trial lawyers are the leaders in the Democrat party, so I guess he doesn't have one.

Both men were asked about the tone of their campaign. McCain responded by saying that he regrets some of the negative aspects of both campaigns - and then went on to cite Congressman Lewis' remark about McCain and Palin being like George Wallace (segregation, deaths of children in church bombings, etc...). Then he said, "And Senator Obama, you didn't repudiate those remarks. Every time there's been an out-of-bounds remark made by a Republican, no matter where they are, I have repudiated them." He also reminded people that Obama had signed a piece of paper that said he would take public financing for his campaign if McCain did and he didn't keep his word.

Obama's response? "Well, look, you know, I think that we expect presidential campaigns to be tough." He goes on to say that the impressions of the American people according to polls is that McCain is more negative than Obama. Well, hoooeee! I guess if the American people have that impression (even though it's not true) we'll just keep it that way, huh? Nice. McCain ended up holding Obama's' feet to the fire on this one and said, "But again, I did not hear a repudiation of Congressman Lewis's remarks." Obama's response was to defend Congressman Lewis.

McCain was asked about Obama and "terrorists" and he responded by saying he didn't care about an old washed up terrorist, but that we need to know the full extent of that relationship. He also brought up Acorn - and the fact that the Obama campaign has paid Acorn 832K for "lighting and site selection." Obama was not honest on either the Ayers point or the Acorn point in his response and I wish McCain had held his feet to the fire on that as well.

A couple of times in the debate, McCain commended Obama on his eloquence right before pointing out his slippery words. I think he scored a few points there. 

And on to the Supreme Court. McCain did a good job of communicating his view on the justice nomination process. He said that he voted for Breyer and Ginsburg not because he agreed with their ideology but because they were qualified and selected by the president.

McCain attacked Obama on the issue of abortion and cited the fact that Obama voted against legislation in Illinois that would require medical attention for the surviving babies of botched abortions. Obama responded by saying, "If it sounds incredible that I would vote to withhold lifesaving treatment from an infant, that's because it's not true." Unfortunately, though, it is true. You can look it up.

To sum up, I think that McCain did a really good job. I don't know if it's enough to help boost him to win in November, but he stood up and held his ground. And I have to say, I was impressed. Thank you, Senator McCain for finally not trying so hard to be nice that you don't say anything at all. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

John McCain And His "Jobs for America"

After doing my duty looking into Barack Obama's economic plan for the good old US of A, I decided I needed to be "fair and balanced" and look into McCain's as well. The good news is that McCain's plan cannot possibly be worse than Obama's. The bad news is that I won't be throwing any parades in honor of John McCain based on his plan for the country, either. But I guess we already knew that. 

Let's start with McCain's idea for meddling in the workplace, titled "Workplace Flexibility in a Changing Economy." Here, John McCain is said to understand that today's changing economy is making it harder for parents to balance the demands of family life and their jobs. This irritates me, and I'll tell you why. (I'm sure you were sooooo afraid that I wouldn't.) We had our first child back in 1997 and at that time made the decision that I would stay home with our kids. My husband has a college degree in English, and was (at that time) working in credit card collections. As you may already know, people who work in credit card collections are making their entire living off commission - yes, that's right. 100% commission on how much you're able to collect from people who don't pay. Needless to say, we had some exceedingly lean times on that income. 

From there, we moved across the country and my husband got a job in a different industry making 30K per year. It wasn't easy to live on that - we did without many things that others may consider to be necessities. But we had food, diapers, and as much clothing as we needed - and I was home with our son, which was what really mattered to us. It wasn't easy, just important. 

McCain is also said to understand that our "changing economy forces many families to deal with the disruptions that come with a job change." Because of this understanding, I guess, he believes that workers should be able to "choose new training that fits their personal situation so that they can build new skills as their careers change." Are you serious?? Is there some goober somewhere telling people what training they can and cannot experience? Or does McCain believe that I should be paying for their training? 

He also believes that "as our workforce ages, many older Americans want to continue to stay in jobs." He thinks that more flexible arrangements would enable these folks to continue their careers. Well, fine... start a company and implement that, then. But coming up with the "Wish I Were Retired Act of 2010" isn't probably a good idea.

To sum up, here are the things McCain finds important to mess with in the workplace:
Modernizing labor laws to allow for more flexible scheduling arrangements.
Ensuring labor laws don't get in the way of working at home.
Promoting telework.
Making health care more portable.
Ensuring that workers can "choose retirement plans" that suite their needs.
Providing workers job training assistance.

In health care, McCain is offering the following:
Cheaper drugs.
An emphasis on prevention, early intervention, healthy habits, etc...
Coordinated care, collaborating providers.
Government walk-in clinics in retail outlets.
Reform Medicaid and Medicare.
Smoking cessation programs.
Tort reform.

McCain's tax plan is "Taxes: Simpler, Fair, Pro-Growth and Competitive." He wants to keep tax rates low. Top tax rate of 35 percent, maintain the 15 percent rates on dividends and capital gains, and phase out the AMT. He wants to cut the corporate tax rate from 35% to 25%, saying that keeping the corporate tax rate low is essential to keeping good jobs in the United States.

He wishes to ban internet taxes and cell phone taxes.

McCain is also promising "Immediate Relief for American Families." According to his site, "John McCain will help Americans hurting from high gasoline and food costs." He'll act immediately to reduce the "pain of high gas prices." How will he do this? He's going to send a strong message to world markets. Yes, he's going to be "telling oil producing countries and oil speculators that our dependence on foreign oil will come to an end - and the impact will be lower prices at the pump." Uh-huh. Now why didn't anybody else think of that?? We should have told them that a long time ago!! Sheesh.

Also, John McCain is going to "increase the value of the dollar and thus reduce the price of oil." Somehow, we're supposed to believe that by the mere existence of John McCain in the White House, Americans "will have a stronger economy, a stronger dollar and greater purchasing power for oil, gas and food." C'mon, dude. I'm a Republican... and I really want to be on your side here... but I'm going to need a little more to go on than that

He also says he wants to begin a summer gas tax holiday. But John, I'm not thinking you're going to have much success in getting something like that to pass in the House and Senate. Sorry.

McCain wishes to "keep well-meaning, deserving home owners who are facing foreclosure in their homes." Yes, there must be some folks out there who are not paying their mortgages who still deserve to keep their home. O-kay. Here is his approach:

No bailouts for investors or speculators. Only homeowners.
Holders of a sub-prime mortgage taken after 2005 on their primary residence who 1, can prove creditworthiness at the time of the original loan, 2, are either delinquent or can demonstrate that they will be delinquent, and 3, can meet the terms of a new 30 year fixed-rate mortgage will be eligible. All they have to do is pick up a form at any post office or download the form over the internet to apply. The FHA certifies that the individual is qualified and contacts the individual's mortgage servicer. The FHA replaces the existing mortgage with a new one. I have to be honest with you and tell you that I don't get this. Not that I don't understand what he's trying to do -- but I don't understand why it's a good idea. Why cut it off at 2005? Why would you have people apply who are still making good on their current mortgage payments? Why would you bail some people out of their bad decisions and not the others? How is this right?

McCain is also dedicated to "Reforming Washington to Regain the Trust of Taxpayers." I have two words for this idea: TOO LATE. Seriously, he does go into some reforms he would like to see -- they're on his website if you want to know what they are. Call me jaded, but I just don't believe it for even a minute.

That being said, I still think that McCain is less scary than Obama. He's still scary, but much less so. So here's how I feel about this whole mess... I don't much like horror films. I'm just not into the scare-me-silly-by-showing-me-a-slaughter thing. (Call me crazy.) And if somebody told me that they were going to take me for a night out and I had to choose between two films, one of them being petrifying and the other being less scary, I would opt out of the entire night out. Unfortunately, there will not be a place on the ballot for scrapping it all and starting over, so I'm probably stuck with the less scary film choice here. I'm in for a night out that I didn't ask for - and I'm not going to like it either way. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

How Obama Will "Jumpstart" the Economy

According to Barack Obama, the economic struggle can be laid out in two main problems. One, wages are stagnant as prices rise. Yes, this is the case. Prices are getting a bit out of hand (even the basic necessities are becoming ridiculous). And two, there have been "tax cuts for the wealthy instead of the middle class." No, this is not the case. The tax cuts were for everybody. We all got some. It's true that the more money you make, the bigger your tax cut -- but that's because the more money you make, the more taxes you pay. 

Also outlined as a problem in the "tax cuts" section is the fact that the Bush administration has not "tackled health care, education and housing in a manner that benefits the middle class." Oy. Well, I don't think the government tackling health care is going to benefit anybody, regardless of class. And the Bush administration DID try to tackle education and made a holy mess of it. Unfortunately, it looks like somebody might be tackling housing, too, before the end of the year. 

So... on to the Obama fix! First things first, right? They're going to "jumpstart the economy." How are they going to do this? It's all somewhat vague... but they're going to start by imposing a "windfall profits tax" so that they can send a $1000 emergency energy rebate to American families. Common sense would say that American families are going to still be paying their energy costs... it's just that the energy is going to need to cost more so that the oil companies can afford to pay the "windfall profits tax" that needs to be generated in order to make this work. Please keep in mind, companies don't pay taxes - consumers do. It all gets passed on.

Then they're going to provide $50 billion to jumpstart the economy and prevent 1 million Americans from losing their jobs. They're going to do this by making sure they're preventing state and local cuts in health, education, housing and heating assistance or counterproductive increases in property taxes, tolls or fees. Somehow, with a mere $50 billion, Barack Obama is going to save the day by preventing excess property taxes at the state level, tolls and fees... and he's going to pump up the governments with enough money to prevent them from having to make cuts in any of their services or employees. Really can't figure out how he's getting the numbers to work... but maybe it's like Jesus with the loaves and fishes and I just need more faith. 

After the generous jumpstart to the economy (which is better translated as a jumpstart to big government, because his injections are all for government jobs), he's going to provide middle class Americans with tax relief. Well, whew!! Here comes that relief that 95% of Americans are going to get!! 

The first step is to "restore fairness" by providing 150 million workers tax relief. This is done with a "Making Work Pay" tax credit of $500 per person or $1,000 per family. According to Obama's website, the "Making Work Pay" tax credit will completely eliminate income taxes for 10 million Americans. And yes, he really does appear to think that this somehow "restores fairness." His logic to get there must be a bit dizzying, but I digress...

Secondly, he's going to eliminate income taxes for seniors making less than $50,000. Okay... I don't really have an issue with seniors' IRAs not getting taxed as they pull that money out. According to Obama, this will eliminate income taxes for 7 million seniors and provide an average savings of $1400 per year for them. Under the Obama plan, 27 million American seniors will not need to file an income tax return. 

Thirdly, he's going to simplify tax filings for the middle class. According to their plan, they're going to "dramatically" simplify things so that Americans can do their taxes in less than five minutes. Maybe it's going to be a simple form such as:
"How much did you make? _______________
Go ahead and send it in."
Frighteningly enough, Obama's plan counts on having the IRS use the information it gets from banks and employers to give taxpayers "pre-filled tax forms to verify, sign and return." Got that? He doesn't even trust us to do our own paperwork. He wants to tell us what we owe and have us send it in. 

He then goes on to say, "Experts estimate that the Obama-Biden proposal will save Americans up to 200 million total hours of work and aggravation and up to $2 billion in tax preparer fees." Oh, yeah... that's funny. He's going to increase government jobs and that's how he's going to "jumpstart" the economy... meanwhile he's putting the tax accountants in the country out of business. 

On trade, they're going to "fight for fair trade." They want to open up foreign markets to support good American jobs. They're going to stand firm against agreements like the Central American Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA). They will work with Canada and Mexico to "fix" NAFTA... and he doesn't mention the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), possibly because the FTAA is not yet in place, but the DR-CAFTA was looked at as a stepping stone to an FTAA treaty.

Obama wishes to increase what was once known as the "School To Work" program. Supposedly to help workers adapt to a "rapidly changing economy," they want to create "flexible education accounts to help workers retrain" and provide "retraining assistance for workers" where people are "vulnerable to dislocation." I'm sorry, but what happened to people taking responsibility for themselves? If you can see that the industry in which you work is in deep trouble, then go get some training for yourself and change jobs! (Hint, hint -- people working for GM.) They're also going to create a new jobs training program for "Clean Technologies." 

Somehow Obama is going to make sure that companies are not financially benefited by moving their operations overseas. I'm not sure how he's going to do this because he doesn't say. Maybe he's not sure, either. 

Also, Obama "will create new federal policies, and expand existing ones, that have been proven to create new American jobs." He doesn't state what these specific policies might be, but I have a question. How can he create a new policy that has already been proven

Barack Obama is also going to improve our economy by creating "new jobs through national infrastructure investment." I am beginning to think this guy has no interest whatsoever in the private sector except to dismantle it. He is going to create a "National Infrastructure Reinvestment Bank" to expand and enhance, not supplant, existing federal transportation investments.

And this one? I  just need somebody to tell me what it means:
Barack Obama and Joe Biden will support entrepreneurship and spur job growth by creating a national network of public-private business incubators. Business incubators facilitate the critical work of entrepreneurs in creating start-up companies. Obama and Biden will invest $250 million per year to increase the number and size of incubators in disadvantaged communities throughout the country. What in the heck is a public-private business incubator??

Obama will increase the minimum wage and ensure it rises every year.

He will ensure freedom to unionize. I really hadn't realized this was in jeopardy. I know more people who would prefer to opt out of the union and are not able to than I do who would like a union and can't have one. (Or perhaps this is again directed at Wal Mart?) Obama will work to ban the permanent replacement of striking workers. See, I have an issue with this, too. If a group of employees are refusing to come to work, and there are other able bodied people there willing to fill those places, why shouldn't the company be allowed to replace those refusing to work? Rendering the employers completely powerless doesn't seem like such a good idea to me.

Obama is going to "reform bankruptcy laws." He is going to cap interest rates on payday loans at 36 percent. Frankly, anybody willing to pay that has to be insane anyway... and should probably seek some sort of help. They're going to "encourage responsible lending institutions to make small consumer loans." Get this: "Obama and Biden will encourage banks, credit unions and Community Development Financial Insitutions to provide affordable short-term and small-dollar loans and to drive unscrupulous lenders out of business." Well.... kind of hard to drive them out of business when you're handing them billions of dollars in bailouts! And I don't know that I would want the government "encouraging" my bank to make certain kinds of loans anymore. We all saw what happened the last time they did that! And he's going to create an exemption in bankruptcy law for individuals who can prove they filed for bankruptcy because of medical expenses, creating a process that forgives the debt and lets the individuals get back on their feet. Does anybody else see how all this costs an incredible amount of money? Where is it going to come from?? Back to that loaves and fishes thing again...

They're also going to balance work and family life for us. "Obama and Biden will double funding for after-school programs, expand the Family Medical Leave Act, provide low-income families with a refundable tax credit to help with their child-care expenses, and encourage flexible work schedules." That's a tall order, really. 

They want to expand the FMLA to be enforceable with even smaller businesses and to cover more purposes. Employers would be required to allow time off for elder care needs, for parents to participate in their children's academic activities, and leave to address domestic violence.

This is an awful lot to take on -- and some of it is just downright scary. But since, according to Louis Farrakhan, Obama is the new messiah, I guess it really is a loaves and fishes thing. 

My best advice to you is this: grab your wallet, grab a shovel. Go to your backyard and dig a big hole, insert your wallet. Fill in with dirt, packing it down hard so the government can't find it. Because this economic plan is what they're all saying is a shoo-in come November.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Investigation of Governor Palin

I think we all know by now that politics can be a very dirty business. A thick skin (preferably one tanned into leather) is required. But I have to say, I find the hoopla over Governor Palin to be one step short of hilarious. One step short simply because while ridiculous, I cannot actually find it funny - and I'm a twisted soul, thinking politics is usually full of some good humor. But this stuff is just downright ugly. Let me explain.

I opened my browser today to the headline, "Palin Denies State Report She Abused Power." I thought, "Well, this one I have to see..." And I'm glad I did. What I would like to do is highlight the scandal for you in its entirety - so that you can see this in the same light as I do. 

Back in 2005, Mike Wooten was on his third marriage, being married to Sarah Palin's younger sister, Molly. Their marriage was not a fun one, apparently. On April 11, 2005, Molly filed for divorce and a protective order against her husband. They had been married for four years. After several complaints, the state police opened an investigation into Wooten's conduct. This investigation led to the Grimes Report, which noted that "unacceptable conduct appears to have continued and even escalated," and "clearly indicates a serious and concentrated pattern of unacceptable and, at times, illegal activity occurring over a lengthy period." And that, "a civilian investigated under similar circumstances would have received criminal sanctions."

In spite of this, Wooten continued to be assigned to patrol the neighborhood of the Palins' family.

There were further accusations (of death threats made by Wooten, of Wooten scamming disability pay while not injured, etc...) but these things, as far as I can figure out, were not included in his suspension. Whether this is because the accusations were not substantiated or because the suspension had already taken place, I don't know. 

Palin herself never contacted Commissioner of Public Safety Walter Monegan regarding Mike Wooten. Todd Palin, however, did. And Frank Bailey (of Palin's administration) did on February 29th of 2008. They wanted to know why a person with this checkered past was (and is) still serving as a police officer. Monegan refused to fire Wooten. 

On July 11th, Governor Palin decided that Monegan would be a better fit for the state Alcohol Beverage Control board, and she asked him to transfer. He refused and was relieved of his duties. According to Palin, Monegan was not supportive of the direction she wanted to take Public Safety (disputes over budgetary issues and the filling of trooper vacancies) and was insubordinate. 

An investigation of Monegan's firing was launched on July 28th of 2008. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Hollis French (a Democrat) managed the inquiry. On September 2nd, French told ABC News that the investigation could lead to an "October Surprise" for the GOP ticket.

The official report concluded that Palin abused her power as governor and violated state ethics law in trying to get her brother-in-law fired from the state police and that Monegan's refusal to fire Wooten from the state police force was "likely a contributing factor" to Monegan's July dismissal, but Palin had the authority as governor to fire him. 

A few more facts to consider when making our judgment:

Since Mike Wooten's divorce from Molly, he has already been married and divorced again.

In an interview with CNN, Wooten admitted to tasering his stepson "in a training capacity." His stepson was ten years old. He admitted to shooting the moose illegally. He denies drinking and driving, although there was sufficient evidence of this that he was disciplined for it, and he denies having made death threats against the Palin extended family. He admitted to the interviewing reporter that he has "issues" with relationships.

In the same interview, CNN asked Wooten what he would like people to know about him and his response was, "My priorities are my children, being the best father I can be... my job, being the best trooper I can be for the state, for the citizens... I was young, I made mistakes. I was punished for those mistakes, learned my lesson. They're behind me, I'm trying to move on and be the best dad I can be to my children and be the best trooper I can be. You know, I love my job and I love this state and those are my priorities." Really??? You were young? That's your thinking? This was three years ago. The I-was-young excuse usually needs a little more growing room before one can effectively use it. Also, the man was suspended for five days - five days!! And we are to conclude from this that the severity of that punishment enabled him to realize his grievous error? Sorry, but... I really doubt it. 

In light of all this, here's how I see things:

Why in the world are they investigating Governor Palin and not the Public Safety Commission? Why would they allow someone with this history to continue "serving" as "public protection?" Does it strike anybody odd that the government officials are this unconcerned with public safety? Would anybody like to volunteer to have Mike Wooten come and patrol their area?? I sure wouldn't!

But here's where the politics of the matter get really interesting. Alaska State Senator Kim Elton said that about 1,000 or more pages of documents compiled during the inquiry against Sarah Palin will remain confidential because they "involve private personnel matters." Isn't that interesting? They get to publish a conclusion without revealing a bunch of facts... and then Elton goes on to say, "I believe that these findings may help people come to a conclusion on how they should vote" in the presidential election. Guess what? Elton is a Democrat.

Isn't it interesting how partisan our politics have become? And to try and take down the Republican ticket this way is... well, yucky

You can all look back on my previous posts to see how disenchanted I am with the Republicans right about now... so I'm certainly not feeling like a partisan myself in writing this particular blog. But given all the evidence, I think they're really hitting Palin below the belt here. It's just not right.

Friday, October 10, 2008

A Powerless People

Sometimes following politics can lead to depression. How did we become so powerless? Supposedly, we are a country "of the people, by the people, for the people." But in reality -- not so much. 

I am a registered Republican (no surprise there). But I must say, my loyalty is beginning to wane. I find myself wondering, first of all, how we ended up with John McCain as our candidate. I have not yet talked to a fellow Republican who is on his wagon. He's driving the thing, and Republicans are grudgingly following - with the dust being kicked up in their faces... They're generally irritated by both the wagon and the driver. Ever since McCain chose Palin as his running mate, she's been dutifully riding the back of the wagon, fanning a rug in an effort to disperse the dust off to the sides. But as McCain whips the horses at the front into a frenzy, Palin's fanning is becoming less and less effective. 

I am usually a glutton for political punishment... but even I cannot stomach sitting through an entire debate between McCain and Obama. It's like watching two children arguing over "who is worser." 

Explain to me this: Why would a Republican presidential candidate, after seeing the American people up in arms over the idea of a "bailout," suspend his campaign and rush back to Washington in order to ensure a bailout? September 23rd, CNN ran the headline, "Needed Financial Bailout Rewards Bad Behavior." On the 26th, the headlines "Poll: Most Americans Against Bush's Bailout Plan" and "Poll: Bush's Bailout Plan Not Popular" both ran by FOX News and UPI, respectively. It almost seems like McCain decided to stick his finger to the wind, figure out exactly what would alienate his base the most, and then took that course of action. It was the worst political move he could have made. 

We appear to have a bunch of nimrods in both the House and the Senate who refuse to listen to what the people want. Fine... but then the House should have just passed the bill the first time instead of waiting until it was laden with so much pork it was actually "oinking" while sitting at the trough of the public treasury.

Now here we sit, 700 billion dollars later -- the stock market still crashing, the financial system still crumbling... and McCain gets out on the campaign trail and pushes forward the idea of another 300 billion dollar bailout for homeowners who aren't paying their mortgages on time. Well, now... THERE'S an idea! Why didn't we all think of that?? That will certainly fix things! After all, these unfortunate souls were "taken advantage of" by a greedy Wall Street, right? It's only right that we offer to pay down their mortgages for them to a more affordable level. That's certainly going to fix a volatile situation in the housing market... OH! But wait! What about all those people who also bought at market peak? Those who are upside down by sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars and yet are still dutifully paying on their mortgages? Have we thought about the fact that those people are also being asked to pay yet an extra measure? And what about those who didn't purchase at peak, those who watched their equity go up, up, up... and then down, down, down... without purchasing all that fun stuff with the equity in the meantime? Yes, those people are then being asked to pay for the fluff of others. I honestly can't think of a better way to make a wreckage out of our system. But bully for McCain... way to win the trust of the people. (Do you detect a moment's sarcasm? Can you see my eyes rolling way back into my head??)

So now I'm being asked to go to the polls and vote. My choices are between foolishness and utter recklessness. Hmmm... which one shall I choose? Do I want to watch my country die a slow and painful death? Or do I want to order a quick trip to the guillotine? Lovely.

I recently told my husband that it's like McCain is trying to make it more difficult for me to vote. I'm once again thinking I might as well stay home. And my husband jumped on that Bob Barr wagon again... telling me I should go and cast my vote for him. Well, I just might do that. I don't know... of course, the only way I would is if we carpool. A vote for Barr isn't really worth the gas it will take to get me to the voting booth.

Ah, well... maybe I should vote for McCain. Maybe I should vote for Barr. Maybe I should stay home that day... or maybe I should stop blogging when I'm so angry. 

Monday, October 6, 2008

Oh, Woe Is Our Economy!!

Well, they did it. They passed the legislation -- a pork-filled-piece-of-junk legislation, but they passed it anyway. They passed it warning of dire consequences if it didn't pass... and no real promise of a rosy future once the money was promised and spent. 

Of course, it's a good thing they didn't promise any such thing. Have you been watching the stock market lately?? The DOW closed today at 9955.50. The year to date change in the DOW has been a whopping -2939.44. Anybody care for a spoonful of economic doom and gloom? 

The one good thing that seems to be coming of all this is that Americans have stopped spending everything hand over fist and living large. Better late than never, I guess. This could have something to do with the fact that many Americans aren't making enough to cover living that large even on credit, but I think there are a decent number of responsible Americans out there still... Americans who are seeing the downward trend in the markets and are trying to tighten their belts early, knowing that it's going to be a necessity to do so down the road. 

I talked with a neighbor the other day. She had been watching the nightly news and they were saying, "Don't buy anything unless you absolutely have to." And while I think this is probably good advice, I also think it rather obvious that this action is going to further slow the economy. 

The fact that people have been living on credit to such a large degree in order to grow the economy should tell us something. This recession is a market correction of its own sort. Credit has dried up and people can't spend... the economic growth up to this point hasn't been real growth. It's a bit of a mirage. Almost like claiming my salary grew simply because somebody enlarged my credit line. 

Don't get me wrong, I'm not hoping for some vast depression to sweep the United States to teach us a lesson. But if we're hit by a serious recession, even a depression, I sure hope that we're willing to learn a lesson from it.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Joe Biden Got Beat Up By A Girl

I've been sitting here for some time, writing and writing about the Vice Presidential debate -- going over it, point by point, until I've quite bored myself to death. Rather than posting that nightmare of a post, I've decided to start over.

Here are some of Palin's finer moments during the debate:

" fact, when we talk about the Bush administration, there's a time, too, when Americans are going to say, 'Enough is enough with your ticket,' on constantly looking backwards, and pointing fingers, and doing the blame game... but for a ticket that wants to talk about change and looking into the future, there's just too much finger-pointing backwards to ever make us believe that that's where you're going."

"Oh, yeah, it's so obvious I'm a Washington outsider. And someone just not used to the way you guys operate. Because here you voted for the war and now you oppose the war. You're one who says, as so many politicians do, I was for it before I was against it or vice-versa. Americans are craving that straight talk and just want to know, hey, if you voted for it, tell us why you voted for it..."

"I beg to disagree with you, again, here on whether you supported Barack Obama or John McCain's strategies. Here again, you can say what you want to say a month out before people are asked to vote on this, but we listened to the debates."

"Say it ain't so, Joe, there you go again pointing backwards again. You prefaced your whole comment with the Bush administration. Now, doggone it, let's look ahead and tell Americans what we have to plan to do for them in the future. You mentioned education and I'm glad you did. I know education you are passionate about with your wife being a teacher for 30 years, and God bless her. Her reward is in heaven, right? I say, too, with education, America needs to be putting a lot more focus on that and our schools have got to be really ramped up in terms of the funding that they are deserving. Teachers need to be paid more. I come from a house full of school teachers. My grandma was, my dad who is in the audience today, he's a schoolteacher, had been for many years. My brother, who I think is the best schoolteacher in the year, and here's a shout-out to all those third graders at Gladys Wood Elementary School, you get extra credit for watching the debate."

Joe Biden's role as Vice President according to Joe: "And the primary role of the vice president of the United States of America is to support the president of the United States of America, give that president his or her best judgment when sought, and as vice president, to preside over the Senate, only in a time when in fact there's a tie vote. The Constitution is explicit."

Well, let's just take a quick look at that "explicit" wording in the Constitution. Under Article II, "Executive Branch," the Vice-President is mentioned twice. Once in this statement: "The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He shall hold his Office during the Term of four Years, and, together with the Vice-President chosen for the same Term." The only other time in Article II that the Vice-President is mentioned is when the Constitution is laying out who takes power in the case of the President being removed from office, either through death or impeachment.

However, in Article I, "The Legislative Branch," the Vice President's job is laid forth. "The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided." Yes, I agree - the Constitution is explicit. The Vice President is the President of the Senate - but has no voting power unless there's a tie. 

But, according to Biden, his job is to be the White House slug. And unless his opinion is sought, he's supposed to sit in the waiting room - hoping for a tie in the Senate so he can actually do something. 

Joe Biden lied a minimum of 14 times during the course of the debate. On the tax vote, meeting with Ahmedinijad, on offshore drilling, troop funding, opposing clean coal, alternative energy votes, health insurance plans, oil taxes, principles of the surge being used in Afghanistan, stances on regulatory procedures, the Iraq war, tax increases, the bailout, and the tax rates under Reagan. While watching the debate, I was bummed that Palin didn't call him down on more of his "misstatements," but... it all turned out alright since she kicked his butt. 

Why do I say this is the case? Joe Biden, throughout most of the debate, was kept on the defensive. He was clearly uncomfortable through part of it -- reading his body language, sometimes it appeared that he was saying whatever he had to in order to get through the moment. 

Palin, on the other hand, was (through most of the debate) comfortable being herself. She used the fact that she's a relative newcomer to the scene to her advantage, even going so far as to highlight "how long she's been at this" and saying she hadn't had much of a chance to promise things to the American people, other than the fact that she's going to put government back on their side. She effectively used Biden's previous comments against him, she used plain and simple language to get her ideas across, and she often spoke directly to the American people. Even the New York Times said she "used a steady grin, folksy manner and carefully scripted talking points to punch politely and persist politically." I didn't find Palin's performance scripted, but I guess it's all in the eye of the beholder. The Times, in an editorial piece, bemoaned the fact that Palin started out with such low expectations and she "had to do little more than say one or two sensible things and avoid an election-defining gaffe." 

Well, congratulations to the media for that. All their attacks only fed the idea that Sarah Palin was going to come out on stage drooling, she had so little in her head. 

Regardless, Joe Biden got beat up on Thursday night by a girl.