Category Archives: Uncategorized

False Aplogies

Rush Limbaugh, that wonderful paragon of virtue, wisdom, and love, released a statement today recanting his words, but little else after viciously attacking a female Georgetown Law student who was supposed to testify before Congress. (www.rushlimbaugh.com/daily/2012/03/03/a_statement_from_rush)

What is going on in Washington DC and on the campaign trail is nothing less than disgusting.  These men are purporting to support liberty when in fact they are opposing it stridently.  Changes to a requirement that birth control be offered to allowing exemptions is nothing less than government again bowing to corporate and religious interests at the sake of simple human dignity and choice.  Instead individual freedoms are being curtailed in order to pander to special interests. 

I do not care what someone’s religious orientation or belief is, nothing allows you to superimpose your beliefs on individuals in the name of “protecting religious freedom”.  I would agree with some others if the requirement was for individuals to take birth control.  However the requirement is that health insurance must provide, if requested, birth control.  While some, like Rush, oppose this simple, common sense creation of opportunity, it is not a rational decision.  There has been over the last few years nothing short of a full offensive against women’s rights and choices in this country.  It is disgusting how little respect for women that many public and elected figures have for women.

I encourage anyone who reads this to think about this as you decide to vote this fall.  Are we going to support politicians who purport to defend freedoms and choice while stripping them away?  Or are we going to say no to the insanity and support those who actually want to protect basic freedoms, rights, and human dignity.

Republican Response

My own party sickens me with their response to the President’s State of the Union Address.  It appears that the Republicans continue their decade-long trend of a lack of vision and foresight and maintain the quasi-religious belief that all government action is bad.  While there are many failed policies, there is a time for rationality.

  • It does not make sense that healthcare is linked to your place of employment.
  • It does not make sense that we can fund foreign wars with over a trillion dollars while we let our own infrastructure decay and our schools turn to rot with a lack of funding.  Afghanistan was a just war, but Iraq was not.  However now future generations are stuck footing the multi-trillion dollar bill.
  • It does not make sense for the rich (defined here as $250k a year or more in annual income) to pay less money to support the very system that allowed them to become rich.
  • It is the Republican party that is dividing this country by engaging in class warfare – supporting the rich while the middle class and poor fail.  Otherwise why would they have blocked a tax cut extension (until the last minute) for millions of Americans while marching like lemmings to continue cutting taxes for the wealthy.
  • It is the Republican party that continues towards a self-fulling prophecy of cutting government services so that government fails.
  • It is not the wealthy who are job creators.  It is the middle class and the poor. This is simple math.  A human only needs to eat so much food, own so many cars, own so many houses.  With a fraction of the wealth distributed more evenly (so the US doesn’t have wealth disparity along the lines of most south American dictatorships), job creation would boom.  Go ask any millionare how much they spend on groceries a week against someone in the middle class.  It’d probably be about the same.  Guess how many middle class families you  could have for ~$1 million a year?  Let’s be generous and say 4.  That’s FOUR TIMES as much consumption.
  • It is the Republicans who advocate for more foreign energy imports (Hello Keystone XL, ITS IN CANADA) through their continued denial of climate change science and continue to promote monarchies and strong-men across the globe rather than fostering policies that encourage democracy.
  • It was the deregulation in California that caused the energy crisis, and it was deregulation of banks that caused the housing bubble.
  • It is the Republicans who claim to be for small government while advocating for invasive policies into individual liberties.  Heaven forbid someone should have the inherent right to control their own body (birth control, abortion, ability to end your life when it is the correct time), or marry whom they please.  They push their conservative religious agenda on everyone while complaining about how there isn’t enough protection for religious freedom.

My party needs to get off of it’s high horse and come to terms with the world we live in.  Not some fantasy dream land.  Bring me a candidate who applies reason and logic to policies, with a true view of small government and I will consider them.  The Enlightenment was one of the greatest occurrences in the West, but the Republicans turn their backs to reason.  Until they come to see reason again, I will continue to vote for the Democrats, who at least seem to get one thing right: basic human rights and the ability to pursue happiness without religious persecution.

So called “Pledge to America”…

… and why no one who advocates for smaller government should fall for it.

Today the House Republicans issued their so-called “Pledge for America“.  It is merely another source of worthless pandering from a party that likes to think it still has some shred of fiscal conservatism left to it.

In the first page, it manages to raise the specter of tyranny, creates ghosts of “an unchecked executive, a compliant legislature, and an overreaching judiciary” which have “combined to thwart the will of the people”.  So let me get this straight: President Obama has managed to pass every bit of legislature he wanted to, there have been no filibusters in the Senate, and the CONSERVATIVE MAJORITY Supreme Court led by Chief Justice Roberts is overreaching? (Okay, I’ll agree to this last point, but not as something that is leaning in the direction the House Republicans who drafted this document would want you to believe.)

For all the fact that the document raises these issues, it is worthwhile to note that I have heard tell that about the only thing the Founding Fathers feared as much as tyranny was the uneducated masses, and some probably would have sided with tyranny.

Assorted pledges take up the bottom half of the first page and roll on the second.  However, when looking at the track record of unethical “family-values” behavior (how many sex scandals do you need?), lack of transparency (how many millions were “misplaced” or “lost track of” under President Bush and the Republicans?), and honest in its dealings (again, how many WMD did we find in Iraq?), this document is nothing more than wool that is being pulled over people’s eyes.

It talks about “job killing tax hikes”, yet taxes were higher under Reagan and Clinton (and boy were those Clinton years good economically).  It offers vague platitudes about stopping “out-of-control spending” when the Republican record on massive growth of government (don’t forget the military budget folks) actually has changed, almost flipped, over the last few decades.  I haven’t vetted this source, but I’d recommend checking it out (also check here).

It talks about the horrors of government run health care: Fine, be honest, get out there and start talking about repealing Medicare and Medicade.  That same crappy government run health care that had conservative protesters out on the street telling the government to not take it away.  That is the will of the people.

The “tax hikes” that are coming are an end is the expiration of the Bush-era tax cuts that were deceivingly set to end after 10-years, so that their impacts wouldn’t need to be analyzed and the impacts to debt shown.  While the GOP focuses often on GDP, I agree with many that a better measure is median and mean average income.  This Times article is quite informational on the topic, and the charts here on State of the USA also paint a picture that the GOP doesn’t like to bring up.  Yes, the USA as a whole has increased GDP quite drastically.  However, for the average person, you were better off, substantially, a decade ago (before the tax cuts) than you are today.

The most infuriating issue with the “Pledge” is that it has few to no concrete details about what programs will be cut.  It talks suddenly about the need for fiscal constraint, during a recession, after 8 years of reckless spending.  It talks about how much we are spending on the paying debt for the US having more in debts than in income.  Yet, when one looks at a chart on US debt, such as this one on Wikipedia, there is a decided trend.  President Regan enters office… debt skyrockets, dips in the latter Clinton years, and then explodes under Bush.  But maybe this is why the “Pledge” likes to couch things in terms of “non-security” discretionary spending.  Maybe it is because of the amount of money (ignoring the literal human cost) poured into Iraq (a war we didn’t need to go into), to the tune of, about $750 billion in roughly the last 8 years.  That’s money that’s not going towards better roads, better education or health care.  Money not going towards the American people that the disingenuous Republican party leadership would have you ignore in the accounting.

All of these falsehoods, burying of true costs, yet the document at the beginning would have you believe it was going to be more transparent.  It’s another pack of lies that the Party leadership would have us believe.  Instead they should come clean and support PRECISE programs they would cut and their impacts.  Otherwise it’s nothing but more hot air.

2009 Milestones

I wanted to wish a happy new years to all my readers.  There are several milestones for my blog that I would like to share, as well as new features added:

  • Over 1000 visitors since the blog started in June
  • 36 posts
  • 28 comments
  • Ability to subscribe to my blog for email updates

Thank you to all my readers, and here’s to another year!

Nat

Franken Amendment, Republican Strategy, and the Failure of Governance

Earlier this week I posted an article from a guest author to my blog.  Since reading her post and doing some additional research, the issue has come to disgust me even more.  As I posted in a comment to her article, Politico stated that the Republicans had a strategic error in allowing the vote to go for a Roll Call rather than a voice vote.  I think this error is a blessing, for it lets the public know where elected representatives really stand.

The text of Senator Franken’s Amendment is as follows:

  • Sec. 8104. (a) None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act may be used for any existing or new Federal contract if the contractor or a subcontractor at any tier requires that an employee or independent contractor, as a condition of employment, sign a contract that mandates that the employee or independent contractor performing work under the contract or subcontract resolve through arbitration any claim under title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or any tort related to or arising out of sexual assault or harassment, including assault and battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, false imprisonment, or negligent hiring, supervision, or retention.
  • (b) The prohibition in subsection (a) does not apply with respect to employment contracts that may not be enforced in a court of the United States.”

In interviews I have watched, those who voted against the Amendment (Franken Amdt. No. 2588), seem to be under the misguided idea that they have no responsibility to change the actions of Halliburton / KBR, or any other Government Contractor.  I have italicised Government contractor because of the first word – Government.  This means that our government, with our tax money, has selected these companies.  It means that they are beholden to the citizens of the US for their actions.  For any elected representative to state otherwise is absolutely ridiculous. 

In most business, I always like to ask myself the question, “How would you feel if it was yourself/family member/neighbor in this situation.”  I can guarantee you, that if it was the representative’s daughter who was gang raped, that there would be a witch hunt going on.  Instead, what we have, is the revealing of what these representatives really feel about the appropriate actions the government and its hired help should take towards your daughter, sister, wife, or neighbor. 

In the uproar’s aftermath, the great responses included such fallacy as this: ““This would be a major, fundamental change in U.S. labor law and I believe it would be very detrimental to employees to eliminate arbitration as an option,” Isakson said.”  (The Sun News)    I’ll convert this statement by Senator Isakson to english for the rest of us: “Allowing rape by US contractors is fine.” 

Before my anger at these Senators overrides the rest of my good judgement and I go overboard, I’ll present the good names, and states, of those who oppose allowing American citizens the chance to have their day in court against companies, funded by the US government, that allow these practices to go on:

Alexander (R-TN)
Barrasso (R-WY)
Bond (R-MO)
Brownback (R-KS)
Bunning (R-KY)
Burr (R-NC)
Chambliss (R-GA)
Coburn (R-OK)
Cochran (R-MS)
Corker (R-TN)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Crapo (R-ID)
DeMint (R-SC)
Ensign (R-NV)
Enzi (R-WY)
Graham (R-SC)
Gregg (R-NH)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Isakson (R-GA)
Johanns (R-NE)
Kyl (R-AZ)
McCain (R-AZ)
McConnell (R-KY)
Risch (R-ID)
Roberts (R-KS)
Sessions (R-AL)
Shelby (R-AL)
Thune (R-SD)
Vitter (R-LA)
Wicker (R-MS)

I have bolded Senator McCain’s name here for a specific reason.  He is one of the members of Congress that I used to respect the most.  However, I believe the Maverick has lost his steam, his drive, and his innate, fundamental sense of what is right and wrong.  Not only did he oppose Franken’s amendment, last year he also voted against the torture ban

My only question really at this point for the Republican Party is this – WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?

Thinking outside the Health Care Box

This will be a short post, which I would like to solicit the thoughts and comments from all / any of my readers.

I was talking with a colleague about health care today, and the benefits / perils of a government-run health-care system.  I had two distinct observations I would like to share, without going into too much detail at this point.  The first is mostly a comment, the second is a more radical thought that I had arising from point 1, but in no way have gone in to evaluate yet.

1) Health care reform should focus on either expanded coverage or limiting cost increases.  Taking one or the other will have spillover effects, but I believe the current focus on both is likely to end up with something that doesnt really achieve much of either.

2) We (insurance holders) already are paying for everyone’s healthcare.  Higher premiums provide more service, but I am sure they are also going to help pay for higher costs generated by doctors and health care facilities for uninsured people or  those who cannot or will not pay for services rendered. 

Holding this in mind, there are as I see it, two choices.  Cost containment under the existing system which could potentially lead to bankruptcy of hospitals, insurers or doctors or erosion of services; or Capturing Rates from the uninsured so they, not the insured, pay for benefits. 

Such a system would not need a government-run plan to operate.  It would function off of regulation of some sort while still functioning within the existing system.

Your thoughts?

Obama, Nobel Peace Prize, and Right-wing pundit lunacy

I woke up this morning, and during my usual cycle of reading the news, stumbled across the fact that President Obama had won the Nobel Peace Prize.  My first thought was “that’s quick” followed by, “boy, the right-wing pundits are going to go crazy.”  And certainly they have.

Tommy Seno, of JustifiedRight.com, does a wonderful job of creating worthless hyperbole and false hype.  As much as he likes to claim that the award was given for his first twelve days in office, the editorial note on Fox News states: “invitation letters are sent out in September” – by this point in time, Obama was the Presidential candidate on the Democratic ticket, and the first major African-American contender with a solid shot at the presidency.  February 1st is merely the deadline to submit nominations.  The rest of the shortlisting process and analysis of candidates takes place until October. 

Rush Limbaugh in particular steps way out of line:  “The Nobel gang just suicide bombed themselves. Gore, Carter, Obama, soon Bill Clinton. See a pattern here? They are all leftist sell-outs. George Bush liberates 50 million Muslims in Iraq, Reagan liberates hundreds of millions of Europeans and saves parts of Latin America. Any awards?”  What Rush fails to understand is that the Nobel Peace Prize is for PEACE.  Not war.  Reagan liberated because his arms buildups helped finally bankrupt the Soviet Union.  President Bush, perhaps in time, might do deeds worth a Nobel Peace Prize.  We’ll see.  However, he engaged in war to liberate.  An unjust war in the case of Iraq.  I note that Rush does not invoke Afghanistan in this case, where just war was undertaken.  Perhaps because of the long litany of failures there and the sideshow in Iraq is the reason why.

Now, about that Nobel Peace Prize.  “As described in Nobel’s will, one part was dedicated to ‘the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses’.”  (Facts on the Nobel Peace PrizeObama was awarded the prize “his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples”.  I agree that he has taken steps towards this, but I am generally inclined to agree with those who believe that the award is premature. 

Why is it premature?  There has been little delivery to date.  If or when that changes, I will feel more comfortable with the decision, until then, it is likely to be a point of controversy domestically within the States, and perhaps abroad.

However, as I think of the potential positive impacts that arise from having a Nobel Laureate, they are many.  First, it carries a great deal of weight internationally (and should nationally as well, North America has had 19 Nobel Laureates for the Peace Prize) which will only boost US stature by having a sitting President who has earned the award.  Second, it may inspire many domestically and internationally to strive for higher odds.  For the first time in decades (the last was Woodrow Wilson in 1912 – 1921), a Peace Prize winner is sitting in office.  Third, it brings an additonal level of prestige to the White House.  It might give America’s allies added succor to know that a Nobel Laureate is on their side.  It is certain that it brings our enemies distress:” ‘We have seen no change in his strategy for peace. He has done nothing for peace in Afghanistan,’ Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told AFP. ‘We condemn the award of the Nobel Peace Prize for Obama,’ he said by telephone from an undisclosed location.” 

Mujahid’s statement sounds familiar.. oh wait.. just like Glenn Beck.