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Monthly Archives: November 2010

QuickHit: very good article about tax cuts and small businesses

today on Yahoo, there is a very good fact checking article about tax cuts and small businesses. As is usually the case, both parties are bending numbers to make their argument look better, but the truth is in the middle:
FACT CHECK: Small business caught in tax battle

“I’m Tired”

Back in 2009 a former Marine and state senator posted a vent on his blog.  It’s being circulated again, wrongly attributed to an actor with the same name.  But its an interesting read.  Read the original, it should make for interesting discussion:

I’m Tired.

someone needs to plug the WikiLeak

Today, the US is in scramble mode due to a website called Wikileaks.  For the uninitiated, Wikileaks has been gathering secret, unpublished documents from the US and publishing them for the world to see.  Previously, the site released secret documents somehow obtained from the US military, documenting information, negotiations, and unmentioned concerns about the war in Afghanistan.  This past weekend, they went one better, releasing thousands of cables (think secure emails) from diplomatic sources around the world, exposing a lot of opinions that were best kept under wraps.   In short, when people are making cracks at other world leaders–referring to them as “weak,” “easily swayed,” “useless,” and even comparing them to Batman and Robin–it can tend to ruffle feathers.

Further, a number of things the US wanted to keep under wraps now come to light.  Like how US allies wanted the US to take out the Iranian nuclear facility.  Or how the King of Saudi Arabia did not want the US to invade Iraq and take down Saddam because the US and Saudi Arabia, along with Saddam’s help, had been able to keep Iran in check.  Even negotiations about a missile shield in Europe came out–which showed that President Obama has not trouble playing hardball behind the scenes.

One politician even called WikiLeaks a “terrorist organization.”  It will be interesting to see how much damage the site can end up doing to the US and its Middle East efforts.

Tax shenanigans, or why $700 billion is unaffordable, but $3 trillion is affordable

The level of back-and-forth over the extension of tax rate cuts enacted under Bush 43 has reached a fever pitch.  From the right, we get “all or nothing!” or “no one should have a tax increase in this economy!” or, to borrow from a classic hip hop song by the one-hit-wonder group, The Double XX Posse, “not gon be able ta do it!”  From the left, we get “no tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires!” or “tax cuts for the rich” and “no subsidizing the rich” or “they don’t need it.”  But my favorite is that, in essence, we can’t afford the $700 billion cost (CBO projected).

For the life of me, I could not figure out how anyone would have the nerve to specifically talk about the $700 billion that extending the current rates for high-income earners may cost (remember, they are projections, so its only a guess), but not talk about how the cost of the rest of the cuts.  After all, the same CBO that produced the $700 billion number also stated that the TOTAL cost of extending ALL current tax rates would be $3 trillion.  So what gives?

Just more political shenanigans.

Let’s step back for a moment to 2007.  From wikipedia:

The PAYGO system was reestablished as a standing rule of the House of Representatives (Clause 10 of Rule XXI) on January 4, 2007 by the 110th Congress:

It shall not be in order to consider any bill, joint resolution, amendment, or conference report if the provisions of such measure affecting direct spending and revenues have the net effect of increasing the deficit or reducing the surplus for either the period comprising the current fiscal year and the five fiscal years beginning with the fiscal year that ends in the following calendar year or the period comprising the current fiscal year and the ten fiscal years beginning with the fiscal year that ends in the following calendar year.

Less than one year later though, facing widespread demand to ease looming tax burdens caused by the Alternative Minimum Tax, Congress abandoned its pay-go pledge.

So, to set themselves apart from the previous congressional crew, the swept-into-power Democrats in the House re-enacted a rule that makes a lot of sense–if we are gonna spend it, we are going to pay for it. Tub notice the next next line: it lasted less than a year. PAYGO was shelved, allowing major pieces of legislation, like the Bush Stimulus package in 2008 and Obama’s Stimulus package in 2009, to be passed without the rules applying. Then, new statutory PAYGO rules were again passed in February of 2010.
In addition, Obama signed new budget rules. From Businessweek:

Under the budget rules, any tax cuts benefitting individuals earning more than $200,000, or couples earning more than $250,000, must be offset with new tax revenue or spending cuts elsewhere.

Apparently, the tax cut line-in-the-sand was drawn long ago. After bucking the PAYGO rules, now the rules must apply and for those high-income earners, tax cuts aren’t affordable.
Here’s what’s missing.
Lets be honest. If there is an argument to be made, its that NONE of the tax rate cuts are affordable. But let’s stick to the current discussion. The reason that Democrats are saying we can’t afford the $700 billion is not because we can’t afford it. That can’t be the case, since evidently, financing $2.3 trillion via debt is not a problem (and allowed under the rules!). The real problem is that offsetting spending cuts would have to be made. History has shown that Democrats are not big on cutting spending (unless its Defense related). Any mention of cutting programs, especially entitlement programs, is met with more resistance than a goalline stand in the national championship game. Any other arguments, like referring to lower tax rates as a “subsidy” (how can the government grant or gift a person their own money) or “welfare for the rich” (once again, its their money) just distracts from the true discussion.

Don’t worry, my Dem friends, I’ll tackle the Repubs too.

Who has more disposable income–a minimum wage household or a $60k household?

I was forwarded an article-about-an-article that shows that “a one-parent family of three making $14,500 a year (minimum wage) has more disposable income than a family making $60,000 a year.”  Seemed unbelieveable, but the writer of the piece spelled it out very concisely.

In a nutshell, based on income, there are certain sources of financial assistance that are available to that minimum wage household that are not available to the $60k household–Food Stamps, Free Lunch, Medicaid/CHIP, and others.  When the available programs are added in in terms of financial benefit to the family, and compared to what the $60k household would have to do for similar benefits, the lower income household has more money left over.

Just left out there with no discussion, I suspect this would prompt a couple of scathing responses.  There will be those who will make it partisan and say something about conservatives attacking.   Some will be offended because how dare ANYONE say anything negative about programs that benefit the poor!  Still others will look at it as class warfare.  Obviously, things could go in a number of different directions.

Anyway, the article: Entitlement America.

Guest Writer: OCD3 on the GM bailout and IPO

My Thoughts on the GM bailout and recent IPO

While, I’m very happy that the American automotive icon GM is still in business, I initially had mixed feelings regarding the bailout and spending taxpayer dollars to shore up what appeared to be a dying company.

But first understand that I’m a fan. I’ve driven and owned only American cars my entire life. From my first car, a ‘83 Pontiac Firebird (black of course), to my mom’s ‘85 Chrysler Reliant which I drive for a short time in college I’ve been a fan. From the used ’87 Chevy Celebrity that I bought for $700 upon graduation to the ’98 Pontiac Grand Prix which I still drive today…I’ve been a fan. What many people don’t always understand is that GM DOES build high quality products…and they have done so for a long time now. The issues of the 80s are long gone. The focus on quality has been evident since the 90s but a bad reputation is difficult to shake.

I’m not happy for GM for nostalgia’s sake. I’m not even happy for GM because I drive one of their cars. The Pontiac brand which I’ve come to love has been retired…for the time being anyway. I’m happy for the people who build cars and feed their families because of it. I’m happy for the automotive suppliers and parts suppliers and the suppliers to those suppliers. This was not just about GM. It was about an industry that supports a significant part of our economy and the people who rely on that industry to survive. You see, I was once one of them.

I used to work for GM. I started as a young engineer fresh out of college. I felt lucky because GM was one of those big companies that so many engineers wanted to be part of. I enjoyed my time there. But I also saw things that made me feel concerned. I saw some employees who took their jobs for granted. I would tell them that some of their actions were leading to jobs being sent to Mexico. Some responses were to the effect of: I don’t care, my job is union guaranteed. I saw some who took advantage of union agreements in ways that scream lunacy.

For example: a material mover fell asleep in a closet. A foreman grabbed a box of parts to keep the line from shutting down while the mover was missing. When the mover later learned that a non-union worker did union work, he filed a grievance and was awarded time-and-a-half for the day.

The problems were not just employee based or union-based. I strongly support the unions. I’m just against the abuse of them. I saw management making decisions and putting policies in place that had no practicality. I saw a lack of innovation in product design to capture a new market. I saw a failure to understand the buying habits of a new generation. Gone were the days of brand loyalty where one would buy a Pontiac Sunfire as a teenager, a Pontiac Grand Am as a young adult, a Pontiac Firebird as a young professional, a Pontiac Grand Prix as a middle class family man, and a Pontiac Bonneville as a middle-aged man set in his ways who just “loves his Pontiacs”.

There were things happening that I didn’t see as well…such as the aging work force, the rising cost of healthcare for employees and retirees, and no plan to deal with it all.

I say all of this because I believe I have a personal view of the company as a former employee and a long-time customer. When the bailouts were announced, I thought it was a big mistake. I don’t believe in throwing good money after bad. I left the company because I saw a plan to move most of the operations in my area to Mexico as soon as natural matriculation allowed. There wasn’t much of a future for me there. I felt that the failure of GM to get its house in order is not the taxpayer’s problem. Furthermore I felt that the effort was futile. I did not believe GM could be saved. I felt they needed an overhaul of management, both at the company and the unions. I felt employees needed a change of attitude. Their union contracts may be guaranteed but their jobs are not. They forgot about the free market’s right to decide that they don’t have a job regardless of their contracts.

Then the bailouts passed and I was…not angry. I was relieved. They have a chance. The industry has a chance. An American icon has a chance. The justification was not just saving the company, but the cumulative effect it would have on the industry and our economy.

This week GM issued stock in a new IPO that was one of the biggest ever. Bush 43 started the automotive bailout and Obama continued it. From all accounts it worked and they both deserve the credit. Taxpayers will get their money back and then some. Jobs were saved. The economy did not slip into depression. Some say they could have gone into bankruptcy and might have come back a stronger, leaner company. They could have also gone into bankruptcy and disappeared forever.

Our government interfered with free market forces. I hope it never does so again. This along with TARP, healthcare reform, and other policies caused the Democrats the majority in the House. Politicians choice to ignore the will of the people and they were punished for it. But in this case, their actions have proven to be a success. I grade on performance and outcome, not on whether or not my ideology won or loss. Their actions save an important piece of Americana and likely kept us from entering a depression. To criticize it by saying that it might have been fixed another way is foolish. If you could go back in time and risk the economic health of the country by changing the decision while knowing that the decision as is did indeed work, would you?

To our government let me say: well done! This was $50B well spent. Please don’t do it again.

OCD3

*Note:  OCD3 will be making frequent appearances here at F&C so show him some love!  –Hal

The left says the GM bailout is a success. The right disagrees. Who is correct?

Logo of General Motors Corporation. Source: 20...

Image via Wikipedia

This week, GM launched an IPO, moving forward in a turnaround that many thought unlikely a few years ago.  Just a couple of years ago, GM was losing a ton of money, closing dealerships, and about to go into serious bankruptcy.  Bush 43 began the bailout process with over $17 billion in loans.  Obama and Co continued the bailout, but with a caveat that many still consider controversial to say the least:  the United Auto Workers came out with a larger stake in GM than the shareholders and bondholders, even though the amount GM owed the union was less than that owed to the shareholders.  Many feel that letting GM go into bankruptcy and emerge leaner and profitable would’ve been better and allowed the pain to be shared more equally.  Many also felt that allowing the unions to end up with a larger share that seemed out of proportion was an obvious example of the Dems giving special treatment to their union supporters.

Sidenote:  many of the left leaning sources that are celebrating the IPO are saying the company would’ve died without the bailout.  This isn’t necessarily true.  A large number of companies that go into bankruptcy eventually come out.

So my good friend Ocie asked me this morning:  “GM IPO, we’re making American cars, people are employed, was the $50B bailout of GM worth it?”  My immediate answer to him was that it would be worth it once the US breaks even on its investment at least (the US Treasury owns a 33-35% stake in GM, that it took instead of money payback).  Having thought more about it, I would say that it has its positives and negatives.  I agree jobs were saved, but there is no guarantee jobs would not have been saved via bankruptcy.  I will say that bankruptcy may have had more of a negative impact “down the line,” as in the vendors that do business with GM.  But it can’t be denied that politics played a part in the end result–the union ended up with a larger stake than stock and bond holders.  And it will be years before the US is fully divested and paid back on their “investment.”

So let’s declare that it was worth it, but should’ve been done differently.

Why do people hate Sarah Palin so much?

I’ve often seen how people (usually left-leaning) react to anything that has to do with Sarah Palin.  Just the mention of her name evokes a visceral reaction from many that makes me scratch my head.  I’m not  a fan of her, but I don’t see her as being any worse than any other politicians.  The only difference between her and most other politicians is that she actually has a following.  Is that it?

On the Huffington Post, there is an article about how Palin child Willow had a meltdown on Facebook in response to someone criticizing her mom’ s TLC show.  While what she said was enough to have gotten me grounded for life if I had said the same at age 16, it has given Palin detractors another chance to take shots at her and her entire family.  It is as though people are so anxious to hate the other side that they must make it personal.

Calm down, people.  She’s just another politician.

Earmarks: most states give much more than they get (NYers, ya’ll get hosed!)

People hear about “earmarks” but many aren’t sure what they really are.  In short, an earmark is when a piece of legislation is added to a bill directing money be spent on a specific project.  Members of Congress do it all the time to steer federal money home to their districts to fund different things.  Of course, many will yell about pork until it pertains to their own district.  Then, its not pork, its critical.  Need an infamous case?  Look up the “Bridge to Nowhere” debacle in Alaska.

Brandon Arnold writes a good article in Politico about how most states are getting less in earmarks than they should based on how much tax revenue comes from that state:

You and Your Neighbor’s Pork.

 
The article is good, but his follow-up is even better, with a chart showing how much states pay in taxes and receive in earmarks. New Yorkers are definitely getting the screwjob here:

 
Earmark Donor States.

 
Of course, if all earmarks are banned, we won’t have this problem.

TSA workers will be allowed to unionize

Full disclosure:  I’m not a fan of unions.  I’ve spent my working life at companies where you were hired based on your ability to fill a position, retained based on you continuing to do the job, and pay increases were based on merit.  Beyond the many things unions helped with in the past (workplace safety, 40 hour workweek), I don’t see a need for them now.

Last week, the Federal Labor Relations Authority decided that TSA workers could vote to unionize.  While workers could already individually join a union, they will now be able to vote as a block, and be able to collectively bargain.

Why do I not support this?  Well, in addition to all the other reasons I’m not a union fan,  what happens when the union doesn’t get everything they want in a contract and they decide to strike?  What happens to air travel?  Yep–gridlock, coming to an airport near you.

QuickHit: Charlie Rangel on trial–it could be ugly

Congressional Rep Charles Rangel from NY will be on trial this week on ethics charges.  Rangel has been in Congress for many years, representing his Harlem district.  He has already threatened to walk out due to the fact that he ran out of money to pay his legal team.  Look for this one to be popcorn worthy.

More here: Rangel Ethics Trial Begins

Tax cuts, small businesses, and the $250k line

During the long drawn out battle regarding the Bush Tax cuts.  Democrats have drawn the line at $200k/yr for individuals and $250k/yr for families as the dividing line between those who should get permanent tax cuts and those who shouldn’t.  The main argument is that the $700 billion in lost revenue over the next 10 years is unaffordable.  Republicans counter that not only should there be no tax increases in these economic times, lots of small businesses will be negatively affected.  Of course, the truth (as I see it, of course) is somewhere in the middle.

A logical approach would be to extend them all temporarily (give it a year or 2), then let them expire.  Now, people are right now saying I’m crazy.  But if we’re going to be for real about getting the deficit under control, that should be option 1 on the table.  Republicans like to say “no tax increases” but there has to be a middle ground where folks aren’t overtaxed and the government is getting more revenue.  If anything, add a new bracket for folks making a million per year or more.  Either way, its illogical to completely remove the idea of a tax increase of some kind to combat spending.

Democrats, on the other hand, have established $250k as the line in the sand.  Mind you, no one has any idea why this number is the magic number.  But as Dems often do, it becomes an emotional issue.  That approach started from the beginning, when the tax cuts were enacted.  Despite the easily researchable facts that the cuts actually removed a number of lower income taxpayers from the tax rolls, reduced the lowest tax rate, and shifted the overall tax burden to the highest income levels (look it up), the cuts have often been referred to as “tax cuts for the rich” simply based on the sheer amount that an upper income earner got to keep (not “was given to them” as is often used as yet another argument).  What’s often heard is that folks making that much money either “don’t need a cut” or “won’t spend it.”  Or, that they cost too much.  I usually wonder how it can be said that the estimated $700 billion over 10 years is considered unaffordable, when the rest of the cuts are estimated to cost over $2 billion over the same time.   This is why if anything should be done, ALL should be rolled back.

I predict that the White House will give in to all cuts being renewed for 2 years in order to avoid all of them expiring on 12/31/10, which would be a political disaster.

Quack! Quack! The Lame Ducks are here! What to watch for.

No, I’m not talking about all those Canadian Geese that are blocking traffic and crapping all over your lawn.  I’m referring to the “Lame Duck” session of congress.  For the uninitiated, the term refers to the congressional session between the elections and the beginning of the new congressional term, when many of the members of congress are simply biding their time before they are shown the door and replaced.  It’s a time where lots of shenanigans can occur; if you’ve been voted out and you only have a few weeks to “live,” you can vote on some things with no concern as to how it will affect you.

In this case, congressional democrats originally had lots of plans for the session.  Unfortunately, November 2 hit like a category 5 hurricane and messed up their plans.  But no worries, there will be fireworks.  Here is a sample of what to watch for:

  • The biggest issue to be resolved will be the extension (or not) of the Bush Tax Cuts.  Republicans want all of them made permanent.  Democrats want to draw the line at people making $200k/$250k individual/family.  There is talk of a 2 year extension of all cuts, but Obama and Pelosi are holding firm that they want no compromise.  Another compromise by Senator Chuck Shumer (D-NY) popped up over the weekend.  We will see if anyone pays attention.
  • The estate tax, aka the “death tax,” if not addressed, will go from 0% back to its original level of 55%.
  • Funding of the government is currently done via a temporary spending bill.  Congress will have to put in place a new spending bill for the year.  Should be a simple thing, right?  No.  Dems are refusing to accept a Repub proposal to hold spending at 2008 levels to reduce spending.

Other things that may come up include “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” (which needs to go), the DREAM Act (a little too soon and too controversial right now), and the Alternative Minimum Tax, which could hit a lot more people if nothing is done.

Politicians aren’t serious about fixing problems

President Obama has installed a Debt Commission in order to come up with ways to reduce the deficit.  The report of the commission is due in December.  Everyone knows going into this that there will be some hard decisions that will have to be made, and not everyone is going to be happy.

Wednesday, an initial copy of the Commission’s report was released.  In it they suggested many ways to get the deficit down.  Among them:

As expected, folks on both sides have gone nuts.  The idea is, yes cut the money–but not for the folks that I support!

I’ve linked to a breakdown, as done by radio host Neal Boortz.  Some don’t like him, but read it anyway, since he breaks down each of the suggestions:
Let the Games Begin.
As mentioned, the negative responses weren’t slow in coming:
Response to deficit plan–tepid to “unacceptable”.
They just aren’t serious about fixing things.

QuickHit: Shout out to Vets

Just wanted to give a special shout out to all the folks who are serving or have served in the military.  Even though I did a brief stint (in the Air National Guard) I keep forgetting that I guess I fall in that category as well.  FYI, Veterans Day was originally Armistice Day, enacted to celebrate the end of World War I.

Flashback to 2008 and the Democratic Party wave

While reading an article from 2008 that discussed the victories of the Democrats during that election cycle,  one thing really jumped off the screen:

Nearly two-thirds of those polled after they cast their ballots called the economy the most important issue facing the country — the most single-minded electorate in two decades of exit polling.

So much of the country puts the economy as the number one priority. So what do the Dems do? Ram through a stimulus package that was inefficient and then spent months on health insurance reform. In other words, the recent loss shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. And its not so much that the American voters were fickle as it was that the American voters spoke–but the Dems didn’t listen.
From 2008, In congress, a Democratic Wave.

Alvin Greene for President??

Alvin Greene. A name that makes democrats in SC simply cringe. I won’t go into his backstory here, but now he’s considering another run…

Alvin Greene might run for president.

Greene, the unlikely Democratic Senate nominee in South Carolina who lost overwhelmingly to Republican Sen. Jim DeMint last week, called the state Democratic Party on Tuesday to ask how much it would cost to run for president.

Read the rest here (and scratch your head): Alvin Greene Mulls Presidential Bid

A shot at Bush and Republicans–from a Republican

Many times, I’ve tried to explain that the anti-spend, anti-government angst didn’t just start when Obama took office.  Many conservatives’ ire began during Bush’s 8 years in office.  Many were upset at how much money was being spent by Bush and the republicans in congress, but such complaints were overshadowed by the war and the economy to an extent.  Now, re-elected governor Rick Perry takes a shot at Bush and his republican congress:

“They cowardly and selfishly empower themselves politically by compromising liberty issue by issue, often selling principle for a bridge, a museum, or some building named after them back in their home district or state,” writes Perry in the 187-page polemic.

Read the rest here:

Rick Perry knocks George W. Bush, Mitt Romney for ‘big government’ policies

D. Kuhn: “Jim Webb: Why Reagan Dems Still Matter”

Interesting article on Senator Jim Webb, described as a “Reagan Democrat.” I’d forgotten that term existed.
Jim Webb: Why Reagan Dems Still Matter

“Obama did Muslim prayers?? I TOLD you he was a muslim!!”

I would imagine that’s what some folks are saying if they saw a recent article about President Obama’s planned trip to Indonesia. A quote from his teacher:

Mr Obama attended classes on Islam while the Christians attended classes on Christianity, said Effendi. Barry, he said, was alone among the pupils in that he insisted on attending both.

“His mother did not like him learning Islam, although his father was a Muslim. Sometimes she came to the school; she was angry with the religious teacher and said ‘Why did you teach him the Koran?'” said Effendi.

“But he kept going to the classes because he was interested in Islam. He would also join the other pupils for Muslim prayers.”

Heaven forbid he actually want to find out about both religions!

More here: Barack Obama joined Muslim prayers at school, teacher says

Unwittingly, taxpayers help public unions finance candidates they like

Came across an interesting article in the Washington Examiner about how public sector unions and campaign financing.

When government employees favor one candidate for public office over another, and the disfavored candidate wins, this creates a poisoned atmosphere and an awkward situation in the workplace.
Public officials are chosen, either directly or indirectly, through popular elections, and the government employee should be indifferent as to the outcome of the election.

More here: Diana Furchtgott-Roth: Stop campaign funds from public-sector unions

Finally, a simple explanation for why oil (and our gasoline) is expensive

Came across an article about today’s oil prices.  In it, it explains why oil prices are high (which is why gas prices are as well):

Oil is priced in dollars and becomes cheaper for holders of foreign currency when the dollar falls. Europeans, for example, get more dollars for their euros and can buy more oil for fewer euros. Since oil is cheaper for them, they buy more, sending up the dollar price of oil.
Energy traders expect this to happen, so they buy oil when the dollar falls, boosting the effect.
When the dollar weakens, investors would rather hold hard assets like oil and other commodities because hard assets protect them against more weakening and inflation.

Link to article is here: Oil above $87 in Asia, at highest since early May

QuickHit: Show me REAL Healthcare Reform

People are thinking that Republicans have a snowball’s chance in Hades of repealing the so-called Health Care Reform bill.  That’s a waste of time.  You know what would impress me?  If they turn around and say that they are going to create legislation to provide REAL healthcare reform.  Reform that addresses what the previous bill should’ve addressed–the rising costs of health care.  Every year, the costs of getting medical care goes up.  Ladies and Gentlemen, THAT is the main reason the cost of health insurance goes up every year.  So let’s see if someone comes up with a way to address that.

“Bush Screwed the Working and Middle Class.” How?

I was in a discussion where someone stated “Bush screwed the middle and working class.”  My reply was to ask exactly how he screwed them.  We then got into a discussion about corporations, tax breaks, and outsourcing.  But it really made me wonder:  do people know the difference between when something the government does puts them in a bad situation, vs when they themselves do it?  When they hear that a policy or program is bad, or doesn’t benefit them, do they actually do the research to find out why?  Or do they simply believe what they hear and don’t research for themselves?

Its apparent that many people don’t bother to find things out for themselves.  We are a nation of people who tend to enjoy being led around by the nose, trusting others to tell us what we need to know instead of finding out for ourselves.

In the end, I didn’t get an answer as to how Bush screwed the working and middle class.  I’m sure someone has an example.

QuickHit: Smoking causes insanity

It’s official–smoking causes insanity.  Proof?  Even on the coldest, rainiest, nastiest day, you will see folks standing outside a building, freezing to death, all to get a hit of nicotine.  When someone is willing to risk pneumonia to get a smoke, that’s insanity.   And we won’t go into those folks who can barely afford necessities, but will go and by smokes by the carton…

“its only been 2 years”

Similar to the “sky is falling” argument that I’ve seen a number of times, I’m also seeing a number of people express their surprise at how the American people voted Republicans back into power after just 2 years.  But that ignores an important fact.  Democrats trounced Republicans in the 2006 Congressional races.  In the House of Representatives,  the demographics went from being 229 Republicans, 201 Democrats and 1 Independent, to being 233 Democrats and 202 Republicans.  Dems also came out with a 51-49 seat edge in the Senate.

Translation:  Democrats have had 4 years to make things happen (Bush did NOT do a lot of vetoing).  Not the 2 years most are saying.  So maybe people don’t really have such short memories after all.

The sky is falling!!

Unless you’ve been sleeping under a rock, you have heard or seen that republicans took over the House, gained seats in the Senate, and won a few governors races.  From the reactions of many of my left-leaning friends, one would think the world is about to end, or that something large, dark, and ominous is coming (Think the dark planet in “The Fifth Element” or a comet or asteroid in “Armageddon” or “Deep Impact”).

While I’m sure this puts a wrench in the plans of Dems to get certain things passed, its not the end of the world.  The government has gone back and forth between the major parties for years and the country has yet to fall off the edge of the flat planet and drift into outer space.  Its not even the first time that one house was controlled by one party, while the other (and the White House) was controlled by another.  Republicans and Democrats will have to figure a way to work together.

Now we get to see if President Obama really meant all those nice bipartisan things he said before getting elected.

Joe Scarborough might be my new hero

This one is worth reading. Joe Scarborough wrote a kick-butt piece about how the media should stop throwing gas on the fire–as in, stop exaggerating political differences for the sake of ratings.
Give hyperbole, partisanship a rest

Democrats can’t win for losing

Interesting piece by Steven Pearlstein in the Washington Post. I don’t agree with all he says (and explaining why is not the point of this post). but a lot of what he says makes sense. A couple of things he said i REALLY agree with:

It’s one of the great fallacies in politics: Candidate Jones says X, Y and Z during the campaign. Candidate Jones wins the election. Ergo, the public agrees with X, Y and Z.

and:

Most voters – particularly the swing voters – aren’t as well-informed as they might be on major policy issues. What they do have are experiences and instincts and emotions that politicians play upon in order to win elections. Rarely, however, do the election results add up to a mandate. More often it’s nothing more than a temporary license to govern. 

Read the rest here: Democrats suffer from Americans’ unwillingness to accept economic reality

A review of outgoing SC governor Mark Sanford

After seeing a couple of my friends disagree on the performance of outgoing governor of South Carolina, Mark “I’m Hiking the Appalachian Trail All The Way to Argentina” Sanford, I tried to do some quick reading to see if I could find some reviews. As is custom, Democrats thought he sucked. Republicans gave him more favorable reviews, though he ticked some of them off as well (he brought pigs to the capital!).

Sanford gets passing grades from large majority of South Carolinians

I voted. Did you?

The voting deed is done. Barring a runoff of some type, the voting pen (or finger, for the touch screen) has been put away until the primaries of 2012. I won’t go into which candidates I voted for, but the candidates I voted for represented all 3 parties. I noticed that someone named “write-in” was running for every office, but I didn’t vote for them. How did they do that??

Sidenote: Interestingly enough, there was no one running for “Gwinnett County Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisor.” Maybe I’ll run for THAT next time!