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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Lunch with the President

There is no doubt that the partisan bickering in Washington DC despite President Obama's attempt at crossing the aisle is at a severe and diappointing level. In fact, regardless of party, most Americans are angry at Washington not because of philosophy, but because of this hateful and arrogant attitude by both sides. In another attempt at graciousness, the President invited Republican leaders to lunch. Instead of showing the respect that he deserves, they began to lecture him about his audactiy, his failed promises, his insufficient efforts toward compromise and his unwillingness to pass major legislation with Republican support. What they leave out, is that his compromising in so many ways caused the ultimate legislative result to tilt away from his personal philosophy. . But instead of gracious recognition of this willingness, Republicans like Senator Corker say the President sabotaged financial reform or ruined health care. The President holding his ground, left the lunch with no improvement in attitude. Republicans simply do not understand that compromise means giving and getting which they have gotten from Democrats. This group whenever they don't get it all, find the points they lost on, forgets their gains, and goes on the attack. They believe it is a strategy that will work. They believe disagreeing with the President will help them as they ride the anti incumbency attitude to victory. This strategy, although enticing to them, simply won't work because in the end, Americans will hold the Republicans responsible for inefficiency, hatefulness and politics. I truly believe this.......I am about to leave on a Senior High School trip for a few days. No blogs till Monday. Where are you Americans for reason an truth?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Helpless

We are coming to the end of the school year. In the world, we have North Korea sinking a South Korean ship and a potential danger in the area. We have the financial markets again acting wildly and discomforting. We haven't seen serious job growth. We have Americans turning irrationally away from recent Health Care reform in the most recent poll. We have delay threats by Senator Sessions to use politics as usual to hold up hearings on Elena Kagan. We have European financial meltdown continuing while we try and sort out this bailout plan. We have a continuing catastrophe in the Gulf region of the United States without any serious confidence in our ability to deal with it. I can go on and on but I won't. I have students who are about to graduate but simply cannot raise their consciousness to the seriousness of these problems. Now, I don't want to unnerve them or to stop the fun that they so desperately crave as they move on to their next phase of life, but if they can only show me that they care about these issues a little and recognize the seriousness of them, I would feel less helpless. Wake up America. Wake up kids. Where are you Americans for reason and truth?

Monday, May 24, 2010

Still Leaking

I have blogged multiple times about the crisis in the Gulf. It is a story that has affected me deeply for all the political, environmental, and human consequences that will arise not only today but for many years to come. We now know the financial hardship being caused businesses. We now hear the desperation in the Governor's voice as he complains and begs for Federal assistance having criticized them for being too involved in state issues in the past. We now know that water fowl and fish in the area are definitely going to have the normal chain of mother nature's events impacted by this man made disaster. We now know the limits of science and the limits of big business and yes, the limits of government in handling such a crisis. For all of the self praise we give ourselves as technological geniuses because we can speed a computer chip by one hundreth of a second or put a piece of music on a disk, we don't know the first thing about stopping a human disaster. We know how to drill, but not to stop a leak. The pictures that we are seeing from this area as oil reaches the marshland are frightening. The video from below the sea with a non stop gusher of oil into the water are staggering. The absolute failure of every attempt thus far to stop it is scandalous. If you can dig a whole but don't have a way out, perhaps not dig? Sounds simple, and I am a consumer of oil like the rest of us, but this disaster should point the way toward a relentless and aggressive change in priorities toward alternative energy sources. Nuclear is safe. It is used to power 80% of France. Until such time as we say to the big oil industry that we don't need your product, disasters like the one we are all witness to, will happen again and again. Everyone must follow this story and feel the pain of those most affected. It can happen again. Where are you Americans for reason and truth?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Character should count.

For those who read my blog, there is little doubt that I lean toward one political party more than the other. There is, however, a strong independent streak that exists, particularly when it relates to issues of character. America has become very suspicious and jaded about its politics. We recongize that politicians lie, distort the truth, clarify what they said and meant at the time when caught in embarrassing lies and will say almost anything for a vote. Note John McCain's incredible denial of ever being a maverick or immigration reform advocate. Note Senator Vitter of Lousiana preaching morality while cavorting with prostitutes etc. Not all of our leaders are like this, but a growing number of politicians too stupid to realize the YouTube age of instant gotcha, records what they say. Usually what they say off camera or when comfortable there is no media around, is more truthful than when they use sound bytes and advisor written words. When politicians do these things as individuals it is bad enough, but when a party machine supports a candidate who lies, it is worse. So is the case with Connecticut State Attorney General Richard Blumenthal who has been lying about serving in Vietnam, leaving the impression he did and never correcting statements he has made that are factually incorrect. I have zero problem with someone who made efforts to avoid the war. I have problems with lying. This was not an innocent white lie. This came from someone who deliberately misspoke to curry favor with Veteran's groups. He was caught, gave a ridiculous and non believable explanation and had the audacity to suggest it wasn't important and that we need to move on. NO Mr. Attorney General. We must judge you on your character. It does count. Your true beliefs should mean something. Richard Blumenthal should have been a shoe in to replace Senator Dodd and keep this Senate seat in Democratic Party hands, but instead, he got caught and this issue will remain the focus of the real campaign. The democratic party has incredulously supported his continued candidacy and although he may win, they have perpetuated everything that is wrong with American Politics. Character counts, from the candidates and the party machinery that supports them. I hope he loses. Where are you Americans for reason and truth?

Friday, May 21, 2010

39

Today's number? 39. Who are these 39 Senators with the audacity to suggest that reigning in the banks and Wall Street will restrain capitalism? You should find out. You should check how your Senator voted. An absolute disgrace to cast such a vote. Banks and Wall street through unrestrained activity were in a large part along with Americans that acted irresponsibly, totally responsible for causing the calamatous economic crisis around the world. To think that partisan politics could be put above the good of America by these 39 is outrageous. Thanfully the Senate after much obstruction has passed a bill that can now be reconciled with the House. 39. Don't forget. They say they care about America, but they put the institutions of profit ahead of the institutions of right. Where are you Americans for Reason and Truth?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Jobs

This morning it was reported that unexpectedly, 471,000 new claims for unemployment were filed adding more fears about the strength of our recovery. Economic statistics are as reliable as a weather forecast but most of today's bloggers are out there blaming the President. I want someone to explain to me how the President should get you a job? We are a private enterprise, capitalist society and businesses determine when to and not to hire people. Stockholders rely on these companies to continue to pay dividends and prop up the stock prices so it is often in their best interest to reduce the largest cost to their business...labor. The President can try and influence business by encouraging them or recommending to Congress some incentives to hire, and he has done that. It is an incredible inconsistency and one that makes no sense at all to preach smaller government and then to blame the Executive branch of government for not finding you a job. Wake up people. Job creation is stalled because big business cares more about the bottom line that it does unemployment. That's the real bottom line. Where are you Americans for Reason and Truth?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

We're not all Stupid

Today's news reports are all about how the President has lost his clout as a campaigner, that the country has an anti-incumbent mood, that both parties need to worry. Ridiculous. What happened yesterday was that the more informed among us, who usually vote in primaries, did the responsible and intelligent thing. We voted as Democrats for the real Democrat. Not one who claims it for political expediency after 30 plus years as a Republican. We dont' like to be told who to vote for. Some of us can actually think for ourselves. We voted for an assistant to a recently deceased incumbent Democrat because we liked the job that Congressman Murtha did, not an anti-incumbent move at all. We voted to keep the race going between two Democrats, perhaps to force Senator Lincoln to act more like a Democrat than a Republican and again, do not like to be told who to vote for. We voted for an Independenct minded person who is challenging Washington DC and a Kentucky Republican establishment that is bad for the nation, not because of anti-incumbency. Neither candidate was an incumbent. So, before the media and the political pundits start picking apart yesterday's result as if there is an incredible movement against anyone in office or anyone supported by the President, hold your breath. In 2010 the vast majority of incumbents will be returned, the party in power will lose seats as is historically appropriate and the media will have to develop another story line. We are not all stupid. Where are you Americans for Reason and Truth?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Drip Drip Drip

I am sitting in my classroom right now having just given my Economics students an essay to write. I asked them to decide whether or not they would impose a price ceiling on gasoline, should our ability or desire to drill for oil in the gulf region stop. We get 30% of our oil from this area and if we were to stop, gasoline prices would skyrocket and our economy would be hurt in inestimable ways. So, I have asked them to think about this. While this assignment is being conducted, the oil continues to leak into the water with failed attempts to correct. Currently there is a strategy underway that is capturing small amounts of the leaking oil, but not nearly enough to stop this ongoing environmental disaster. Drip, Drip, Drip. There are environmmentalists that are expressing concern, news reporters covering the story and cable network hosts expressing outrage. Drip, Drip, Drip. Non-stop. BP is blaming the rig operator. Republicans are blaming the Obama Administrations' Minerals agency for not following up. Congress is fighting over how much to allow in a law suit. Drip, Drip, Drip. Shrimpers remain out of work. Blame continues to be placed. Drip, Drip, Drip. Already, there is oil washed up off the waters of Key West, Florida and soon it will be seen across many other pristine beaches of our gulf coast regions. Countless businesses failing. Environmental disaster awaits. I must say that ordinarily I am a great supporter of our President, but in this case I do not believe he has risen to the occasion in expressing either empathy or a coherent strategy for government' s role. If this blog can do anything, it should be to awaken us to this incredibly large problem with our collective voices demanding action. Drip, Drip, Drip. Where are you Americans for reason and truth.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Blame Game

When I was young, my friends and I used to play the Blame Game. It's mom's fault that I can't go out. It's the teacher's fault because I have too much homework. It's because I didn't get enough sleep last night. etc. etc. If you look around today, you can still see the Blame Game being played. Republicans are walking down the rode of blaming big government and trying to thread the needle. They are trying to ride the populist anti-Wall street sentiment while seeking campaign donations from the very Banks being blamed for financial unrest. And We the People are playing the game too. It's because my taxes are too high that I can't get ahead. It's because my stock broker gave bad advice. It's because Government is too big. It's because my bank won't give me a loan. We play this game, by the way while we collect our Social Security checks, unemployment insurance, use Medicare, finance our homes with Government tax breaks and pay for college with Federal loan money. We're not blaming Government for that. What about not blaming anyone but ourselves? If you took out a mortgage for a house you couldn't afford, whose fault is that? If you didn't save money because your real estate agent told you your house would go up in value forever, whose fault is that? If you bought stock in a company because your stock broker told you to and now it is worth half, whose fault is that? Now I am not suggesting for a minute that we should let reckless politicians and financial executives off the hook for their role in the crises of the day. However, it is our responsibility to learn, to become informed, to research before making important decisions, to read and to get more than sound bytes of information before deciding. It is our responsibility not to take the easy way out, but to really do in depth investigation on the important issues of our times. If we don't and then make bad decisions for ourselves, there is no one to blame but ourselves. While Republicans blame the President and Democrats blame the Republicans. While BP oil blames the rig operators and your stock broker blames Greece, our job is to grow up and stop playing games. We are smarter than that. Where are you Americans for reason and truth?

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Gun Toting Sarah

Our failed VP candidate, pretend author, and quitter Governor Mrs. Palin is at it again spewing her vitriol and her ignorance just to get her pretty face on TV again. Yesterday she attended a fundraiser for the NRA and complained about how Presdent Obama hates guns and wants to take them away. The audience, drunk on their obsession, cheered raucously hailing Sarah as the modern day Annie Oakley. Here is the real deal. When a candidate for President, Barack Obama was asked his opinion about the second amendment. Surprising to me, he indicated based on his own exptertise as a Constitutional scholar, that the second amendment did imply an individual right to bear arms. This is not a very liberal friendly analysis. Additionally, left wing gun control advocates have been loudly expressing serious disappointment with President Obama, having expected support for gun control while not seeing this issue at all on the President's agenda. As usual I must say: "Sarah, what the hell are you blathering about" As Senator Moynahan once said, and I paraphrase: you are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts. Where the heck are you Americans for reason and truth?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Truth

If you were to listen to the Tea Party Activists and partisan Republicans, you would think that we as Americans are taxed to death. Daily doses of Rush Limbaugh's hate speak and saying something whether truthful or not, leads people to begin to believe something regardless if true or not. Watching the rallies of these ant-Obama folks, most of their signs make some reference to high taxes. On Chris Matthews "Hardball" the other night, he cited a report to his audience which gave evidence that contradicts the notions of Tea Party and Rush Limbaugh haters. Not since 1950, when Harry Truman was President, has the tax burden on Americans been as low as it is after the first year of the Obama Presidency. This fact eradicates the credibiltiy (if there ever was any) of these obsessive haters. If truth cannot convince these folks, then nothing ever will. Hate is tough to change. Where are you Americans for reason and truth.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Republican Knee Jerkers

Here we go again. Republican Senator Jame Inhoff from Oklahoma expressing opposition to President Obama's selection of emminently qualified Solicitor General Elena Kagan before even one question is asked during a confirmation process that hasn't even begun. Republican Majority Leader McConnell up to his usual games, not outright rejection yet, but concerns. This selection is a further example of the thoughtful approach of our President who is looking outside the box of the usual experience, advice that many Republicans in the past have encouraged him to take. Unless something drastic or dramatic happens, Ms. Kagan will be confirmed, but when will it be possible for the opposition to wait before the usual knee-jerk political obstructionist reaction to everything President Obama does? Perhaps never. Where are you Americans for reason and truth?

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mr. Bennett

Now I am not a big supporter of the kind of conservatism preached by active minority groups in the Mountain areas of our country. After all, I am an urbanite. I grew up in a big city, live in a big suburb and do not have to deal with the same issues as does a Utah farmer or Wyoming rancher. I do recognize however that no matter where we are from, we are all Americans. I also recognize that in our history, uncompromising partisanship has not been good for our nation. Yesterday in Utah, Senator Bob Bennett, a republican, was ousted at the State GOP convention in favor of more radical conservativism which for now and perhaps in the future is uncompromising. In 18 years as Senator, Bob Bennett has probably cast votes that are diametrically opposed to my beliefs about 80% of the time, but I pine over his loss. Not because he comes anywhere close to my beliefs, but because he is reasonable, willing to compromise to move big legislation forward, is respectful of alternative points of view and because he is a decent man. This Utah decision by the republican party machine is happening in one of the least liberal or moderate states in our land so it may not be surprising to many, but if this trend continues, our country will be more divided, use more hateful language to describe political adversaries and shift the republican party so far to the right, that its ability to offer real choice to America will be gone. Killing the adversary party is not good. Two parties are needed to check and balance our national viewpoints. When one party becomes so extreme that it does not offer mainstream choices, this is bad for America. Sorry Mr. Bennett, your loss is not the nation or your party's gain. Where are you Americans for reason and truth? Happy Mother's Day to the real heroes...our mothers.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Good News Bad News

So just when you think there is good news about the economy, there is bad news, but it is really good news. HuH? Today, an economic report indicated the largest increase in job growth in four years. Another report showed an increase in unemployment. Is this good or bad? It is simple, but complicated economics. When there is a recession, it becomes very difficult to find a job. After a while, many of the unemployed get so discouraged for not finding a job, that they stop looking. These discouraged workers are no longer counted as unemployed. As the economy improves and jobs are created, the discouraged worker who is not looking, starts looking again for work and until he/she finds a job, he/she is again considered unemployed. Isn't it great that positive news makes bad news good and good news bad? I really do love economics. Where are you Americans for reason and truth?

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The importance of Knowledge

I have discovered that some of my students have found my blog. It wasn't purely by accident as I did nudge them a little. It has always been my practice to avoid sharing my specific political disposition with them until after graduation, but since that day is coming so close to being a reality it really doesn't matter that much if they read my views. So students, if you are reading and taking the time to find out a little more about my beliefs, so be it. Do not feel obligated to accept my points of view, just take the time to learn all perspectives. The fact that I believe that Government has a purpose beyond just the basics, the fact that I believe that we need the best and brightest to run our government instead of the many idiots we have, the fact that I believe that understanding the world and respecting our neighbors is the role of our leaders, the fact that I believe that politicians should raise our expectations with truth and justice instead of empty slogans and platitudes and the fact that I believe that big government is not the enemy but sometimes a dear friend, does not mean you need to share these views. It is all about knowledge and appreciating learning as an important daily exercise geared toward the health of our minds. The future challenges left to the next generation are fierce and deep. They are almost insurmountable, but armed with knowledge, anything is possible. Where are you Americans for reason and truth?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Great Job Brownie

President Bush's infamous words "Great Job Brownie" to congratulate former FEMA Director Michael Brown's stewardship over the Federal response to the Katrina disaster were among the most out of touch words ever heard. While people stood stranded on rooftops with images of poor, homeless Americans crying for Federal help, the President was complimenting the man who presided over the botched effort. Unreal. Now, this man Mr. Brown, Brownie, is a paid consultant who works to guide companies on disaster relief plans and efforts. Such incompetence rewarded. This man now has the colossal nerve and testicular fortitude to go on news programs as a guest, challenging the motives and response of President Obama to the latest catastrophe in the Gulf. His absence of credibility and moral compass is exceeded only by his arrogance. Awful, awful job Brownie. You are an ass. Where are you Americans for reason and truth?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Shrimpers

Blogging makes me feel good. It is very cathartic to express yourself with the written word and whereas I do not seek recognition nor solicit followers, I still feel compelled to write something every day. I have two posts already that relate to the Environmental disaster which is upon the state of Louisiana and other gulf states. It will have devistating consequences for the economy of the area but more important will be the human consequences. I watched Rachel Maddow do an extremely effective broadcast last night from Venice, Louisiana and most striking to me was the interview she did with a charter boat captain. He described how hard working people, who live for these waterways, whose lives and the lives of their children are tied to the Gulf, have overnight had their lives disrupted. Hard working shrimpers who feed our unquenching desire for shrimp in our soups, and gumbos, and cocktails and plates at Red Lobster may have their livlihoods disrupted forever. It touched me deeply. We often watch and react with sadness when unexpected events overtake us, but we don't really understand the true impact it has on peoples' lives. Thank You Ms. Maddow for awakening my consience to these innocent people's distress. I am having my Advanced Placement Government class do a project on the role of government through the lens of this crisis. I can do without my shrimp, but cannot ignore the pain and suffering of those affected. I wish them well and yes, we do need Government to help those that are subjects of private enterprise error. BP's passion is not enough. Where are you Americans for Reason and Truth.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Smaller Government....Really?

British Petroleum, a private company, not run by the United States government, sufferred an explosion of one of its Oil Rigs on April 20th. Since then, thousands upon thousands of barrells of oil have been leaking into the Gulf area of Louisiana and efforts to control the oil as it drifts toward environmental disaster have been ineffective to date. The President has warned of wide damage and his call for the need for alternative energy sources seems to me to have greater meaning than at any other time. As this disaster looms, there continues to be the daily grind of politics in Washington revolving around the size of government. These cries from tea partyers and Republicans and nervous Democrats pound the same drum beat over and over again... Too much spending in Washington... government takeover of the private sector...deficits out of control....bankrupting the future....and on and on. In today's newspapers all across America is a picture of people standing in front of a sign as the President's motorcade rides toward the threatened area. The sign says "Obama Send Help". This is a state that regularly screams that government is too big and whose governor tried to score political points in rejecting stimulus money. Now, its citizens, very loud activists against big government, have their hand out to the President for help. You see, we say we want smaller government as long as it gives us as individuals what we want and need. Our hyperpluralistic process, where every voice and interest group screams for help, and our government's desire to please them all, is why we have big government. It isn't to steal from the taxpayers. It is often times to do what we want government to do. We say we want smaller government, but in reality, we really don't. Where are you Americans for reason and truth?

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Be Careful Out There

I was in NYC yesterday seeing a show within a few blocks of the attempted car bombing. Luckily no one was hurt and we actually left the area 90 minutes before the incident occurred. While our nation deals with financial reform, unemployment, continuous partisan bickering in Washington, health care reform implementation, state budget trauma, the growing deficit, ineffective immigration laws, the make-up of the Supreme Court, the Middle East crisis and a growing environmental disaster in Louisians, the news today is all about a few gallons of propane, batteries and a clock, all easily purchaseable by anyone and the luck that made this home made bomb fail. It should wake us all up to recognize that there remains a vulnerability in this country because of our own complacency and apathy. Today's message...be aware and Be Careful Out There. Where are you Americans for Reason and Truth?

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Sunlight

Former Supreme Court Justice, Louis Brandeis once said that "sunlight is the best disinfectant." This quote represents a philosophy of openness in government. The Freedom of Information Act, local sunshine laws and an aggressive and insistent press core are all examples of this. We are an open society in America and no matter how hard politicians try and hide certain behaviors and activities, in the end, it always gets out. President Obama has been calling for a little of Brandeis's disinfectant with his criticism of the recent court ruling that has claimed first amendment rights apply to unlimited corporate donations for political campaigns. I do believe that if you have it, flaunt it. Spend your money the way you want to. Most of us, however, have seen how money impacts our politics. The day after an election, the candidate begins to fundraise for the next one. We all know how candidates are influenced by donors, voting for or against a policy not out of constituent desire or conscience, but as a payback to a donor. All the President is asking for is that these donations from corporations are disclosed publicly so we see where corporations stand politically. Instead of hiding behind some front, or some slogan, let us require the truth from our big donors. If Halliburton wants to donate its money to a candidate, fine, but let it not be represented as "Citizens for DC influences" (DC=Dick Cheney"). Already, the Senate Republicans are lined up against the President. They could join John Boehner at his tanning salon while the rest of us enjoy the Sunlight. Where are you Americans for truth and justice?