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An Opening for Republicans? Obama’s “Deficit Neutral” Health Care Reform Will Cost Twice As Much, Just As We Figured It Would

Back in 2009, when President Obama took advantage of Democrat control of the House and Senate and pushed through so-called healthcare reform, he assured the American people that the plan would be paid for and wouldn’t add to future deficits.  There were many people, especially those like myself who are familiar with health care costs and how health insurance works, were quite skeptical.  The plan did nothing to address rising healthcare costs.  Instead, it was nothing more than the opportunity Democrats had been waiting for get health insurers to change their rules for coverage and to get government-subsidized health insurance in the hands of Americans.  But to quote a popular line from “Thomas and Friends,” one of my toddler’s favorite shows, “then there was trouble.”

First, the administration can’t even get their act together regarding the mandate in the plan.  The White House said it isn’t a tax, but someone from within the administration testified on Capital Hill that it is.  Then, the CLASS act, which was a plan to tackle long term care, came under fire.  And for good reason–one of the accounting gimmicks used to make CLASS work was to make people pay premiums for the plan for years before the plan actually came into play.  Congress voted to remove it from Obamacare.

But the ultimate slight-of-hand used in getting the bill passed was to convince people the reform act would not add to future deficits, and in turn, to the national debt.  President Obama assured us that the plan would cost about $900 billion, and that the cost would be offset by money taken from Medicare savings and from revenue grabbed from insurers, medical device makers, etc.  Like Theo Huxtable in the episode of “The Cosby Show” when Bill tried to tell him it’s expensive to live on his own, President Obama deflected criticism by saying “noooo problem!”  What wasn’t apparent to average americans is that the cost projection used included years during which the plan would barely be implemented.

Now, the CBO has released projections on how much Obamacare will actually cost over the next 10 years, when fully in place.  The cost?  $1.76 trillion over the next decade.  And that number is expected to increase to $2 trillion next year.

On the one hand, the CBO also predicts that the government will increase revenue from taxes and penalties over those years so that *may* offset the additional costs.  But most people realize that while cost estimates typically run lower than actual, revenue estimates also tend to run lower, because as new taxes kick in, people tend to change their habits, which leads to lower revenues taken in by the government.  People will find ways to avoid paying additional taxes.

What we have here is another government implented program that is going to run over budget and need bailing out at some point in the future.  Maybe around that time people will finally realize that government can’t be trusted to be good stewards of our money.

Related link:
Obamacare to cost $1.76 trillion over 10 years

About Granting “exceptions” and Free Contraception

I saw a piece regarding President Obama and the uproar caused by saying church-sponsored institutions have to provide contraception to employees.  Today, he reversed course and said that insurance companies would be forced to provide it for free to the employees of such institutions.    What’s funny is, it still means the institutions will pay for it, because typically a company will pay for part of the benefits package provided to their employees.  So, they will still pay.  Remember, there is no such thing as a free lunch!

While reading said piece, I found something in the comments section that I found to be very interesting, and spot-on:

There is a deep and very troubling issue being missed in not only this debate, but permeating the entire Obama administration. See today and also  recall yesterday  just how often the word “exception” is now used in edicts from Obama and his administration. In manufacturing, banking, education, health care by-passed senate confirmations and now religion, we get word from Obama that “we have granted an exception”. Granting  exceptions requires one be in absolute authority over those seeking relief from an onerous government imposed obligation. We are no longer being governed with our consent, but are in fact ruled by edict through Obama’s consent. Obama has not yet superseded  that authority which the Declaration of Independence plainly says  our individual rights come from and Obama must be told that in plain and simple words.

It makes me wonder if folks realize that–if you have to grant exceptions to a rule, then maybe, your rule should be changed?

I also wondered about “free” contraception.  Why should contraception be free?  Or Viagra?  Why should the government be involved in it?  Maybe there is a good reason, but its not coming to me right now.

Random Blog Thoughts: Gay Marriage in Cali, Defining “Fairness,” Wisconsin Recall Election

Well, I’m back to blogging after a long hiatus. Let’s get back to the fun.

Recently, an appeals court overturned the gay marriage ban in California.  Proposition 8 had been voted into law with 52% of the vote in the state.  A lower court judge had ruled it unconstitutional, but proponents of Prop 8 appealed (one reason was the lower court judge was gay).  The appeals court upheld that ruling 2-1, saying there was no compelling reason for the law.  Proponents have vowed to appeal again, and take it to the SCOTUS if they have to.

As I mentioned the other day on my Facebook page, I don’t think that people understand there is civil marriage and there is church marriage.  Proponents of gay marriage bans tend to feel they must “protect the sanctity of marriage” by not letting gays get married.  Prop 8 proponents said that the government “shouldn’t be allowed to redefine” marriage.  If they want to maintain the status quo regarding marriage, so be it.  Do it at the CHURCH level.  But leave civil marriage alone.  Not everyone in religious.  And I have yet to hear exactly what threat allowing a subset of a group of people who represent about 3% of the population get married, civil unionized, or whatever, would have on heterosexual people getting married.  If gay marriage is such a threat, why is it that all the gay marriages that have occurred in states where it’s legal haven’t caused the world to come to an end?  More importantly, how can people who want to be called “conservative” and advocate for individual rights, then want the government to enforce a law simply in order to keep from being offended?  It doesn’t make sense.

Fairness.  A word that is getting used way too much.  More often it’s used lately in reference to the rich and how much they pay in taxes.  Mind you, there has been no definition given, but it creates a good soundbite.  Funny enough, a write wrote what I consider to be a humorous article in the Wall Street Journal, A Fairness Quiz for the President. Of course there is no chance there would be answers forthcoming from President Obama concerning the article. But asking questions such as “is it fair that the richest 1% of Americans pay nearly 40% of all federal income taxes, and the richest 10% pay two-thirds of the tax” and “Is it fair that wind, solar and ethanol producers get billions of dollars of subsidies each year and pay virtually no taxes, while the oil and gas industry—which provides at least 10 times as much energy—pays tens of billions of dollars of taxes while the president complains that it is “subsidized” can only leave us wondering what kind of answers the President would give if pressed.  And of course, the comments section below the article is quite entertaining.

And finally, there is the attempt in Wisconsin to recall Gov.  Scott Walker and other Republicans in office.  The main complain is that he took away public workers’ right to collective bargain.  Further, he dared do this having not said before he was elected that this was something he would do.  I didn’t realize a candidate has to spell out every single thing they hope to accomplish beforehand.  also, there is a corruption probe going on that seems to have nabbed someone close to him.  Its plain there is an effort afoot to get rid of him.  My problem is, how do you justify recalling someone whose  ideas are actually working?  There are school systems where collective bargaining didn’t take place that saved money and made no layoffs.  In other areas where the unions were able to force collective bargaining before the new law took effect, school districts are having to fire teachers to avoid budget gaps.  It will be interesting to see how the recall election plays out.

Can Blacks “claim” the Confederate Flag like we “claimed” the N-word?

A South Carolina college student has caused a stir by displaying the Confederate Flag in his dorm room.  The student, who is Black, acknowledged that its “kind of weird” because he is Black, but according to the article, he feels the meaning of the flag has been hijacked.

“I’ve been getting a lot of support from people,” Byron Thomas says.  “My generation is interested in freedom of speech.”

This isn’t the first time I’ve seen such.  Some years back, there was an attempt to use the flag on some hip hop inspired gear.  To my knowledge, the fad didn’t catch on.

But while many other people are freaking out about Thomas’ display of the flag, I had a different reaction.  I couldn’t help but wonder what the difference is between staking a claim on the confederate flag and doing the same to the N-word.

Now, for those of you who are not fans of the word “nigger” (or “nigga,” “nig,” “ninja,” or whatever variant you may have heard), this isn’t for you, as you will say both are hateful, devisive, and have no place in today’s society.  But then there are those of you who, like me, know the history of the word, yet admit to using it in jest among friends on occasion.  I’ve heard people say that we have taken the hateful word and claimed it to take away its negative power and energy.  Or maybe it’s that it’s fun to use and we just don’t care about its origin.  Regardless, it gets used.

But my point is this:  can those of us comfortable with the n-word be mad if today’s generation wants to do the same to the rebel flag?  My first inclination is to continue to treat them differently, but upon reflection, I realize it’s a hypocritical stance.  They both have similar histories.  It’s just that they hit in different ways–one hits the brain visually, the other audibly.  In the end, who am I to say that they are crazy for attempting to change the the status quo regarding one of the most divisive symbols in history.

Not everyone will agree.  But I guess all I can say is, more power to ya, Byron.

A Viewpoint on How We Elect the President

Many people don’t realize (despite taking Civics in high school) that the President of the United States is not elected via the popular vote.  Instead, we use the Electoral College.  In a nutshell, we use the vote count in each state and territory to determine which candidate gets the the votes from that state.  Some say this should remain the way things are done, while others say the electoral college should be abolished.  Here is an interesting video on the subject.

Tone Down the Rhetoric? Biden Says Pass Obama Jobs Bill or Rapes Will Increase

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think I remember not too long ago that there were calls to tone down the political rhetoric in the wake of the Gabby Jeffords shooting.  Anyone else remember this?

Obviously the message was lost.  Recently, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi implied abortion funding legislation passed by Republicans would result in women dying on hospital floors with doctors not allowed to save them–because somehow, the legislation in question would prevent them from doing so.  Common sense tells us that that assertion is wrong and way over the top.  But lets move on.

Lately, Vice President Joe Biden has been out pushing for passage of President Obama’s jobs bill.  Evidently, it was not enough for him to simply say the bill is needed to create jobs.  Instead, the VP decided to take a different tack.  He decided the best method is to pull out one of the things that terrifies women most–rape. His assertion? That without passage of the bill, the number of police on America’s streets will decrease, and rapes and murders will increase. He first stated this at a rally in Flint, Michigan and even cited statistics. He then said it again a week later at a fireman’s rally in DC.

But there is a minor problem.  As I like to say, don’t let facts get in the way of a good argument.

In general, there are statistics out that show that in many places, even with fewer officers on the beat, crime rates have still gone down.  Specifically, the Fact Checker at the Washington Post obtained numbers for crime in Flint, where Biden first made his assertion, and showed that Biden overstated the number of rapes by a lot. On top of that, the Chief of Police in Flint has previously stated there was no real correlation to the size of the force and the amount of crime:

As the Flint Journal reported in May: “Officials said the fact that 46 police officers were laid off last year had little to do with the escalating crime. Most of the crimes were between people that knew each other. ‘No matter how many officers we have, we can’t stop disputes between two people in their own homes,’ Lock said.”

Lock made a similar assertion in September, 2010, when FBI statistics were released showing violent crime in Flint had decreased in 2009. The Flint Journal reported: “A smaller police force doesn’t automatically mean more crime, said Flint police chief Alven Lock. ‘There’s been years when we had 300 officers and we still had more homicides,’ he said, referring to 1986, when he was in the homicide division and homicides hit an all-time high of 61.”

I’m willing to bet that many other members of law enforcement say the same thing. Of course, that doesn’t make for a good political soundbite when one is trying to paint a picture of the opposing party as being ok with an increase in crime.

8 CEOs Who are Overpaid Based on Performance, via MSNBC

I have mixed emotions about the level of compensation paid to CEOs of some of the largest and most successful American companies.  On the one hand, based on the level of responsibility they take on, the number of hours they work, and other factors, I definitely think they should be compensated well above the average worker.  Let them get their cash, options, limos, and other perks.

However, that understanding gets put on pause if the company that exec is running is underperforming, or just plain out sucking wind.

A new piece on MSNBC.com has a list of 8 CEOs that earn a high level of compensation, but run companies that had a negative performance on the stock market in 2010.  The stock prices of the companies these men helm dropped between 3% and 31.4%, yet they still continued to earn over $18 million in pay and perks (no breakdown of how much is cash, options, or the dollar value of non-cash perks).  Now, one could say that even though the stock price went down, in some cases revenues were flat or increased.  But the writer points out something I’ve believed for a while as well, that the high compensation can be blamed on the stockholders, since  “shareholders who cannot effectively vote to have management removed are saddled not only with those ineffectual executives, but also with their pay packages.”

You can read the article here.

What I Got Out of Last Night’s Republican Candidate Debate

Just a few thoughts:

1)As Newt Gingrich pointed out, Herman Cain’s plan will be a hard sell.  Cain insisted that people go to his website and read the analysis of his plan.  The problem is, most people won’t.  People only have time for soundbites these days so they take what they hear at face value.  And I can guarantee that if somehow Cain became the nominee, Obama would constantly repeat that the plan would be an increase for low-income people and the middle class.  Cain needs to either refine his message, refine his plan, or move on to another thing to harp on.

2)Romney and Perry REALLY don’t like each other.  Perry decided “screw the debate rules” and repeatedly talked over Romney, even when Romney reminded him he would get time to rebut.  At one point Romney put his hand on Perry.  Since they were in Vegas, someone should’ve erected a ring and let these two go at it.

3)I don’t think Ron Paul has a chance, but I found his plan to cut $1 trillion in his first year as president to be quite interesting.

4)Quote of the night goes to Newt Gingrich:

If you want to understand how totally broken Washington is, look at this entire model of a supercommitte, which has now got a magic number to achieve and if it doesn’t achieve the magic number then we’ll all have to shoot ourselves in the head.  So when they come back with a dumb idea to merely cut off our right leg, we will all be grateful that they are only semi-stupid instead of being totally stupid.

5)Cain was attacked by his fellow candidates over how the additional sales tax would add to the state taxes already being paid by citizens.  Cain said it was comparing apples to oranges.  All he really needed to say was that federal tax policy can’t be dictated by the tax policy of each and every state.   That’s why it’s apples and oranges.  Simple, right?

6)Bachmann is done.  Some of her answers were just plain weird.  When asked what can be done about foreclosures, she starts talking about moms who are losing their nests.  Huh?

Obama’s Proposal Stuck in Democrat-led Senate, but it’s Still Republicans’ Fault

On  Tuesday, the Senate held a vote on whether to bring forward President Obama’s jobs bill for discussion.  Mind you, this was not a vote on the bill itself.  Just a vote to bring it forward to debate, discuss, slice, and dice.  The vote was 50 in favor, 49 against, with 60 votes needed to move forward.  The President, of course, issued a statement blaming Senate Republicans for the lack of votes:

President Obama blasted Senate Republicans for blocking his jobs bill Tuesday night, saying the American people “won’t take ‘no’ for an answer.”

The president said in a statement that his administration will work with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to get votes on the individual components of the bill “as soon as possible.”

Yes, with the same Senator Reid who himself blocked a vote on the bill just last week.

But there are two things that the President so conveniently forgot to mention.  First, in the 50-49 vote there were actually two Democrat senators that voted along with the Republicans.  But the second thing he omitted is far more important–some of the Dems who voted in favor of bringing the bill to the floor for discussion would not vote for the bill itself:

The only Democrats to vote against the measure were Sens. Ben Nelson (Neb.) and Jon Tester (Mont.), but a number of other centrists in the party indicated they would vote against the package even though they supported launching a debate on the measure.

Let’s see how long before the President admits that his own party is as much to blame and takes them to task for it.

Final Thoughts on the Troy Davis Case

I can’t think of a time when I have been drawn to a court case the way the Troy Davis case has pulled me in.  Who can honestly say they have sat down and read a 100+ page court ruling?

There is much we can learn from the goings on of this case.

IN GENERAL, PEOPLE DON’T RESEARCH.  We are a busy society.  We don’t have time to fact check, research, look up things.  We like the first part of what former president Ronald Reagan said (“trust”) but leave out the second part (“but verify”).  It is not a stretch to say that many people made a decision based simply on hearing many times how 7 out of 9 witnesses recanted their testimony.   I’m willing to bet that for many, they immediately assume there were 9 total witnesses, and that 7 previously said Davis did the crime but were now saying that he didn’t.  Simply reading even a synopsis of the testimony given would show that wasn’t the case.  Further, even the media doesn’t get it right.  Members of the media would also use the 7 out of 9 line.  But we must remember, whether its an opinion piece or a non-slanted article, it’s all meant to sell newspapers (or drive clicks to a website). My buddy over at the Nullspace has a good piece on that:  http://thenullspace.wordpress.com/2011/09/26/on-capital-punishment-troy-davis-media-bias/

UNDERSTANDING THE COURT SYSTEM IS KEY.  Reading through court docs was very eye-opening.  One of the main points I took from this is that simply saying someone recanted is not grounds enough for a new trial.  The judge from the Savannah hearing stated it best in his ruling.  If it were that easy to get a new trial, especially after the fact, we would have people gathering witnesses to recant all the time.  Then, said witnesses would just fail to show up for court.  When requesting a new trial, defendant needs to show that new evidence not shown at trial has become available, or that the prosecution acted improperly.  Most importantly, whatever the new evidence is must be enough to where the jury in the initial trial would have found the defendant not guilty.  We may look at that and say its bad, or that the system is broken, but without that, the justice system could implode from trials and retrials.

HOW MANY WITNESSES DOES IT TAKE?  Take away the witnesses who are on the “recant” list.   When looking at the people who did not change testimony, who identified the shooter based on what he was wearing, and based on other testimony, it seems there is still a strong case that Davis was the shooter.  The question is, if there was a new trial, how would you handle the testimony of those who didn’t change theirs, especially if they weren’t available for the new trial?

AFFIDAVITS DON’T CARRY A LOT OF WEIGHT IN COURT.  The recanters all signed affidavits.  Sounds good.  But the difference between an affidavit and a statement on a piece of paper is simply a notary stamp.  They don’t carry a lot of weight until the person making the statement can be cross examined in court to determine credibility.  In Davis’ case, there were at least two who were actually at the last hearing but were not called to testify.  In the court’s eyes, that make their statement suspicious.  Also, without cross examination, the statements by people saying that Coles (the guy Davis said shot the officer and who was with him that night) did it is considered hearsay. This link– http://legalcases.info/troydavis/ –has a good breakdown of the case and further, has a very good breakdown of what the witnesses said at trial and later so that you can actually see what is and isn’t a recant.

 

Actual Court Documents From the Troy Davis Case

After a long, very good conversation with one of my closest friends, I realized that with my last post, I should’ve put a disclaimer.  The article I used as reference did not itself reference any actual documents.  So though much of what Mr. Erickson put in seemed to be factual (I applied my “why would he lie” filter), its better to have actual information with reference to remove doubt.

We did discuss the Wikipedia entry on the case, though we know that wikis can sometimes be full of wrong information (anyone can log in and edit to make a wiki slant in a desired direction).  Since this entry was chock full of reference entries, I will assume there is at least some validity there.  But further, I wanted court documents.

A search produced court documents f rom the Southern District court case in South Georgia in 2010.  Within the documents are the original statements from witnesses the night of the shootings.  If going by the statements, and even giving a second look to the statements made by those who recanted, I would be interested in knowning what other lawyers and law experts saw that the courts didn’t see.  It would seem from testimony that there were many other witnesses that did not recant who gave enough info in testimony to convict Davis as the shooter.

The court docs from the case are here: Part 1 and Part 2. For those interested, the wiki for the case is here.

I am interested in getting opinions from people after reading the court documents.

The Troy Davis Death Penalty Case: It Helps to Know the Whole Story

I am not a supporter of the death penalty, so I wanted Troy Davis’ death sentence to be commuted on those grounds, for starters.  Then, over the last few months and years, many of us have heard things that seemed to make the case for Davis to be spared, and possibly be innocent.  The other day, discussing the case among my Facebook crew, I stated that I really need to get up to speed on what appeals courts look at when a case comes before them.  I figured that maybe, I’m relying too much on just the anecdotal information being put forth in the news, mainly by people who support his innocence.

Interestingly enough, I came across a piece by Erick Erickson, radio talking head and editor at Redstate.com, where he lays out the case.  It was just the information dump I was looking for and made me come to a simple conclusion–Troy Davis was guilty as charged.

What he points out make arguing to the contrary very difficult.  There were three Air Force airmen who were firsthand witnesses to the murder.  Troy Davis had Officer McPhail’s blood on his clothes.  Davis had a .38 that had been linked to a previous crime, and a .38 is what was used to kill Officer McPhail.

But there were two p0ints he made that really jumped out at me in this case that really point to Davis’ guilt:

For the first time in 50 years the United States Supreme Court ordered a federal court to conduct an entire rehearing of all the evidence. The court did and found all the new stuff was, again, “smoke and mirrors,” including the retracted confessions. And while building the case to claim that Sylvester Coles was the real murderer, the defense would not call Coles in for examination.

One would presume that with all the reviews of evidence and the rehearing, one of the courts would raise a fuss if there was a chance he wasn’t guilty.  None did.  Then, the second thing:

MacPhail reported in that he had run passed Sylvester Coles. MacPhail was shot from the front in the chest and face — not from behind where Coles was, but from the front where MacPhail himself located Troy Davis.

That one is hard to shoot down.

You can read the entire piece here.

NFL Player Passes New Contract to Go to Grad School and Help Kids

Came across this story of Jason Wright. Instead of signing a new contract with the Arizona Cardinals, he opted to accept entry into the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. His reason? He wants to help inner-city kids:

After agent Mike McCartney informed the Cardinals that Wright was retiring, general manager Rod Graves insisted he would improve on the running back’s previous contract, which was for two years at $2 million. But in making the decision, the Northwestern graduate questioned himself.

“That was the thing that was on my mind, the biggest hiccup,” says Wright, who spent seven seasons in the NFL. “What’s the motive behind me playing longer? What is it in there that draws me? So people would know my name?

“For me, it was superficial. For me and my family, and our belief in God, it wasn’t a good enough motivation.”

The rest of the story is just as inspirational, about how he and his wife have taken in people who just needed someone to point them in the right direction.  Props go out to this family, not as an indictment to others who may not have made the same decision, but for following what they feel is the best course for them.  Also, a few brownie points to the Arizona Cardinals.  Seems they have been good at picking some decent guys who happen to be able to play football.  Wright follows Pat Tillman (RIP) who gave up millions in the NFL to join the Army after 9/11.

That Jobs Plan Sounded Good…Then Reality Set In

Last week I listened to the president outline a new plan to help create jobs.  “Pass this bill right away!” the president implored.  Initially, I was right on board with what he was saying, and was impressed that instead of the non-stimulating shotgun approach of the first bill, President Obama was firing targeted rifle shots with each line.  Even better, he started off by saying the plan would be paid for.

Then, about 2/3 of the way through, things started going downhill.

First, the president pulled out some of the tried-and-true garbage talking points.  He spoke of removing tax breaks for oil companies (hey, that *could* bring in a whopping $2 billion a year!), of millionaires and billionaires that don’t need tax deductions, and of the rich paying their “fair share” (I’m STILL waiting for specificity on what exactly their “fair share” is).  he even pulled out Warren Buffet’s claim of paying less in taxes than his secretary (I suggest people read up on capital gains taxes vs marginal income taxes to understand why this is bogus).

Second, President Obama punts the responsibility for paying for the bill to the newly-formed supercommittee, who will already have to find a way to cut $1.5 trillion in spending before December.  Seems to me there is a difference between saying something is paid for and saying “well, THEY are going to figure out how to pay for it.”

Then, for the coup de grace, the bill is rolled out on Monday…and its designed to be paid for via tax increases.

Sigh.

Though I don’t support the idea of absolutely no tax increases, the move makes the president look downright indecisive.  Not only that, but he knows that under the current environment, the chances of passing his bill (which came under criticism from all sides shortly after the post-speech euphoria wore off) just went from possible to “snowball’s chance in hades.”  Granted, a bill may get passed, but it definitely won’t fly through paid for just with tax increases.

Random Thoughts: White House and the Ratings Downgrade, Al “global warming” Gore Unhinged, Wisconsin Recall Elections

Just a few thoughts and observations:

With the recent downgrade of the country’s credit rating by Standard & Poor’s, the White House had to blame someone for what happened.  So they complained loudly about how S&P had made a mistake with the downgrade, even pointing out an accounting error that S&P made that made things look worse than they really are.  Then, they came out and blamed the Tea Party for causing the downgrade.  I’m confused.  If S&P made a mistake, it would have nothing to do with the Tea Party, right?  Then again, everything is the Tea Party’s fault, from what I hear.

The other day, President Obama did a press conference to address the credit downgrade.  While he was giving his speech, the stock market dropped 200 points.  Ouch.

Speaking of Standard & Poor’s, how do you go forward with a downgrade even after you’re told you made an accounting error?  Simple.  Just blame the politicians!  Say it’s because Congress can’t work together.  Come up with a worthy excuse.  But just don’t own up to it.  By the way, they didn’t downgrade Lehman Brothers until AFTER they imploded…

Former Vice President and current Global Warming–uh,  Climate Change– crusader Al Gore was giving a speech recently and ran off the rails.  Seems he was calling BS on those who don’t agree with him, and called the scientists who put out anti-warming info fake.  I could’ve sworn that the main basis for the argument is whether or not the changes occurring are man made or natural.  But I digress.

It’s recall season in Wisconsin.  Democrats, angry that the Republican-led Legislature changed collective bargaining law, were able to collect signatures to force a recall election for 6 Republican state senators.  In order to have a chance at taking control of the state Senate, they needed to win 3 of the seats up for recall.  Unfortunately for them, they only won 2.  There are more elections coming but they will have no chance at winning control until the next election.  If the Dems had succeeded, I think it would’ve sent shockwaves nationwide.  Having said that, pay attention to the redistricting fights going on in the states.  Redistricting happens every 10 years and the party in power at the time in a particular state usually tries to stack things in their favor.  Look and see how strange some districts end up looking just to accomplish either keeping a rep in office or getting the opposition OUT of office.

For Those Who Are Interested: Obama’s Top 10 Lies

Interesting article from Human Events of what they consider to be Obama’s Top 10 Lies. Its really 9 since #10 is just a goofy accusation. Speaking of #9, its my favorite:

9. Transparency: Obama pledged that transparency would be a top priority, but his administration refused to grant one-third of the Freedom of Information Act requests, according to an Associated Press analysis. He also was dishonest about transparency when he said that health-care negotiations would be televised on C-SPAN and that he would wait five days to sign a bill so people would have a chance to read it online.

Is the Death Penalty Really Necessary?

I’m sure a lot of my conservative pals will completely disagree with me, but it’s past time that we got rid of the death penalty in America.

3  states–New York, New Jersey, and New Mexico–have done just that in the past 2 years.  Recently, Illinois joined the club

The governor of Illinois signed a law on Wednesday ending capital punishment, saying it was impossible to fix a system that wrongly condemned 20 men who were later found to be innocent.

When the law signed by Democratic Governor Pat Quinn takes effect on July 1, Illinois will become the fourth state in the past two years to dispense with the death penalty after New York, New Jersey and New Mexico.

“To have a consistent, perfect death penalty system … that’s impossible in our state,” Quinn told reporters. “I think it’s the right and just thing to abolish the death penalty and punish those who commit heinous crimes — evil people — with life in prison without parole and no chance of release.”

The ultimate punishment will remain an option in 34 states and for federal inmates. No other Western democracies carries out executions.

Anybody catch that last line? We are the only Democratic nation in the West that puts people to death. That really jumps out at me. I’m sure folks will say that just means the other countries are soft, but does it?

Aside from that, here are my other reasons why we should abolish it across the board:

1.  It’s  not a deterrent for crime

If someone could show me that the possibility of getting the death penalty has stopped someone from committing murder (which is typically the level of crime that nets execution), then I may be open to changing my mind.  I don’t believe the stats exist.  People will still kill.  They will still maim, assault, ect.  The death penalty just isn’t something that sticks in the mind of someone about to do something bad.

2.  It’s not necessary

Back in the old days, I’m sure that it was easier for criminals to escape from jail and go back to doing whatever it was they were doing in the first place.  Now?  Escape is a rare occurrence.  The logic behind having a death penalty is to ensure that the criminal never gets back into the general population to become a menace again.  You going to tell me sending someone to a supermax prison doesn’t do the same thing?

3.  Its costly

I’m sure this reason may get dismissed out of hand, but do the research.  It costs more for the state to pay for dealing with the appeals process involved with someone on death row than it does to actually house them as an inmate.

4.  Its barbaric

Every time I hear “Death Penalty” and “closure” used in the same sentence, i cringe.  I’m not ridiculing those who lose someone and feel the only way they can get closure is if the person responsible is put to death.  No, I have a problem with the fact that no one has told them “an eye for an eye” doesn’t work.  To put it bluntly, killing the murderer does not bring back that person’s loved one.  Closure comes in accepting that that person is gone.  As for “justice,” to me justice is making that murderer live the rest of their natural life knowing they no longer have freedom because of their crime.

I would be interested in hearing a case for the other side of this discussion.  But under the circumstances given, other than “it’s justice,” I don’t forsee much coming from the other side in this.

Forget Picking Winners in the Budget Fiasco; We All Lose in the End

Unofficial seal of the United States Congress

Image via Wikipedia

After the absurd theater that was the “oh-my-god-the-government-will-shut-down” nonsense of last week, many news sites were picking “winners” and “losers.”  Frankly, the loser in all of this is clear–the American People.  If it takes this much effort to get Congress to cut a few billion dollars from a 3-plus trillion dollar deficit, what happens going forward, with expected trillion-dollar deficits for the next ten years?

Contrary to the posturing being done by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and President Obama, Democrats came out on the losing end of the battle.  At least temporarily (since success can be fleeting in politics), many Americans scratched their heads as Democrats dug in and fought against budget cuts that make up less than one percent of the total budget.  One looks silly fighting to hold on to every penny when nearly everyone knows that the level of debt we are piling up as a country is unsustainable and a threat to national security.

Wait.  I digress.  Based on the number of people who actually supported the Dems position in all of this, either “nearly everyone” is far from accurate, or there are a lot of people in denial.  They are convinced the way to fix this is to maintain the spending and only increase taxes.  But that’s a different story.

Since we’re talking budgets, and in Washington, its always about the baseline, let’s look at the baseline of the budget battle.  If Democrats had passed a budget back in 2010, while controlling Congress and the White House, none of this would’ve happened.  It was the first time in many years that there was no budget submitted.  Even worse, the fact that the Dems punted in June of 2010 in order to go into butt-covering mode for the upcoming elections seems to have been swept under the rug.  I’m very surprised some person within the Democrat machine didn’t point out that if they didn’t get it done, it could possibly be out of their hands in 2011.

Meanwhile, the Tea Party, whose focus is and always has been spending cuts (don’t be fooled by accusations to the contrary), powered an election that sent new people to Congress with the mission of reigning in spending.  I’ve actually gotten a kick out of watching how people who were quick to defend the ramming through of Obamacare by saying “that’s what we elected them to do” turn around and actually criticize members of Congress for being beholden to the Tea Party!  It’s more important to demonize the TP than to recognize that their criticism of spending is legit.

But back to the budget fight.  Republicans aren’t without criticism here.  This was no time to inject social issues into the fray.  A fight over funding for Planned Parenthood had no business occupying time and space in this.  Or did it?  One analysis of the battle said the Democrats fell for the okey-doke in that regard; that really, defunding Planned Parenthood wasn’t really the big priority that Democrats thought it was, and when they agreed to give up something in return for a dropping of that issue by Republicans, they were suckered.  Further, as part of the final agreement, Obama and Reid agreed to allow a debate and vote on defunding PP to be brought up in the Senate.  Still, any future fight over defunding Planned Parenthood just because they are an abortion provider is a waste.

There is one upside to the way the deal went down.  Democrats hoped to achieve cuts by simply delaying some projects (which did happen) and/or freezing funding for certain programs and refunding them in the next budget.  Republicans didn’t play ball.   Instead, many programs were terminated in order to get to the nearly $40 billion in cuts.  For the other programs with reduced budgets, they have a new baseline to start from in the 2012 budget.  In other words, even if there is a programmed funding increase, they will still spend less going forward.  This serves to reduce the monsterous deficits already projected for the next 5-10 years out.

So, after all of that, why do I say we all lose?  Because this bears repeating:  we nearly had a government shutdown over cuts amounting to less than 2% of the overall budget!  So much hinged on so little.  In order for the country to win, spending has to come down.   Is that so hard to understand?

Has it been 11 days??

I knew it had been a while since my last article.  But 11 days?  Wow, I’m slacking!  Gotta get on the ball!  Anyone interested in contributing to the blog, let me know!

Let’s Talk About “Uncle Tom”

In a recent documentary on Michigan’s “Fab Five,” Jalen Rose charges that Duke only recruited black players that were “Uncle Toms.”  Of course this has raised a ruckus all over.  But this is nothing new.  The term “Uncle Tom” has been used by Blacks against Blacks for years.  Often interchangeable with that other favorite term, “sell out,” it’s used to describe someone who, in essence, acts white in the eyes of the person who is throwing out the term.  Of course, if you’re Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, you are called Uncle Tom, sell out, AND depicted on the cover of a black-oriented magazine as a lawn jockey, but I digress.

The Original Uncle Tom was from Harriett Beecher Stowe’s novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Stowe, who was anti-slavery, used her novel as an eye-poke to the pro-slavery folks of the day. But many blacks in the day (and after) weren’t happy with the fact that Uncle Tom was a very subservient, “God will save me” character instead of one who fought back against his situation. Fast forward some years. As blacks continued to fight for rights and fight to be treated equally, some managed to do well and begin to assimilate to what at the time were lifestyle activities more akin to whites in the US. Those who went too far were prone to catch the “Uncle Tom” nickname.

So, back to Mr. Rose. He looks at his own background, which wasn’t so easy. He looks at the black players at Duke, including Grant Hill, who many people know came from a 2 parent household, with a former NFL player for a dad and a highly educated mom. And instead of saying “well, we’re just different,” he plays the UT card.

Now, to paraphrase (and agree with) what my friend Hashim Uqdah tweeted just this morning, I doubt he had even read the book to know where the term came from. Then again, MOST folks who say it probably didn’t read the book. They heard it and decided its nice and handy to use. But ultimately, it comes down to one thing: the person using the term has decided that the target of the slur isn’t black enough.

When I heard about Rose and his quote, I wasn’t thinking this, but then that jumped into my head and I realized it was true.  Somewhere, there is a “Black Handbook” that lists all the things a black person should say, do, like, eat, drink, and even think. Violators are treated harshly (look up the movie “DROP Squad”). Now, I’m not condoning those decide to completely forget their life, history, and heritage (example: OJ Simpson seems to be in that category, and made a triumphant return to being black around the time he went on trial for murder). But for the majority, simply doing the activities mentioned earlier was enough. As things have changed in the 2000s, and we see more and more starting to “make it,” the Uncle Tom moniker tends to be focused more on politics. Black and conservative? Yep, Uncle Tom. Disagree with affirmative action? Oh, yeah, UT. And don’t be a Tea Party member!

Bottom line is, it is a true shame that within the black community, we often end up tearing down others who may not fit a certain mold instead of simply saying “to each their own.”  One wonders if we will ever get to that point.

MLK: “How Long? Not Long!”

“How long?  Not long!  Because no lie can live forever!”

MLK: “We Shall Overcome”

MLK’s Last Speech

Dr. King’s last speech.  The next day, he was assassinated.

MLK “I Have a Dream” Speech

Martin Luther King, Jr and his “I Have a Dream” speech from the march on Washington.

Very interesting start to the Republican takeover

The fun has begun. The 112th Congress has been sworn in, signaling the start of what folks on the right hope is a successful effort to take over DC in 2012. But things are getting off to a very wacky start.
First, the decision was made to hold a vote to repeal the healthcare reform bill, aka “Obamacare.” The chance of this going through is somewhere between zero and minus ten percent. But as is the case when the new team takes power, they have to make an immediate splash, and this is it.
But, wait! Hold the phone!
Shortly after the votes were held, its discovered that 2 members who participated in votes had not been sworn in with the rest of the House members, rendering their votes invalid. To their credit, House Dems didn’t use the opportunuty to call for a re-vote. But who forgets to come into the chamber for the swear-in? (Both members were out in the lobby with constituents and said the oath, but rules say they basically have to be in the chamber.)
On top of all that, after changing the rules for how bills are debated and amended, they then bypassed their own new rules.
This is going to be interesting to watch.

“Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”: DADT is now D-E-A-D

Over the weekend, Congress voted to repeal the controversial “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” rule.  For those not in the know, the rule–put in place under President Clinton–prohibited gay military members from being “out” while serving.  After much fighting, screaming, kicking, and gnashing of teeth, the vote over the weekend begins  what will be a months-long process to eliminate the provision and allow people to…well, just be themselves.

Of course, there are many who don’t like what has happened.  Many of a conservative mindset when it comes to homosexuality (whether Dem or Repub) are unhappy, because this represents the idea that being gay is ok.  But the biggest blowup has come from some of the leaders of the branches of the military.  No less than the head of the Marines said that the repeal would result in soldiers losing life and limb.  Others have said it will be detrimental to morale.

Really?  Corporal Joe Doe being gay is going to completely undermine the unit?

Let’s look at reality here (no disrespect to those leaders, who have many years of serving their country under their belts).  First, other top notch militaries in the world have allowed gay soldiers to serve openly for years, and they are quoted as saying that allowing that to happen has been a non-event.  Second, Joe isn’t going to all of a sudden stop being an accurate shooter, or not want to make sure he has his fellow soldier’s back just because he’s now openly gay; likewise, other soldiers won’t assume that Joe being “out” is going to make them less effective.  Finally, one point my barber (ex-Navy) mentioned, the people in the unit probably know ALREADY that Joe is gay.

Furthermore, what people don’t realize is that there isn’t going to be this sudden increase of incidents where gay dudes (lets be real–folks usually think gay men here) start playing grab-butt in the common shower.  The Uniform Code of Military Justice is very clear and strict in regards to fraternization and harrassment (example:  in civilian life, adultery isn’t a crime.  in the military, you could end up in Leavenworth for it).  Any gay soldier is going to behave like a true, professional soldier.  Just like they were doing before.

In the end, its like this:  break it up folks, nothing to see here.

Republican Sen. Voinovich: vote “no” on compromise to force tax reform

Republican Sen. George Voinovich is officially my hero of the day.  He has stated that he is going

to vote no on the compromise announced by President Obama on extending tax cuts and

extending unemployment:

“I’m going to vote to no on everything,” Voinovich said Tuesday about the proposal

to extend all tax rates by two years and federal unemployment benefits by 13 months. “I want to not extend them. I want to force us to do tax reform.”

and:

“We borrowed the money to pay for the first one; we borrowed money from China to give me a tax break; we borrowed money to pay for our wars; I’m tired of borrowing

money,” said Voinovich. “I want tax reform, which means that we’ll pay more taxes, but we’ll get tax reform and make some sense out of this terrible situation.”

“We’re sticking my kids with debts for things we weren’t willing to do without or pay for,” Voinovich added.

Wow.  A politician actually making sense!

Read the rest here:GOP senator slams deal on taxes, vows to vote ‘no on everything’

December 7, 1941

Let’s sue that kid for everything she has!

A judge in NY has ruled that a 4 year old can be sued for negligence.

Citing cases dating back as far as 1928, a judge has ruled that a young girl accused of running down an elderly woman while racing a bicycle with training wheels on a Manhattan sidewalk two years ago can be sued for negligence.

4 year old on bike runs into elderly lady. Elderly lady falls and has to have surgery. Accident, right? I mean, what 4 year old would maliciously run down a nice old lady?
Not so, I guess. The family of the elderly lady is suing the 2 children that were racing their bikes and their mothers for negligence. What?? What are you going to win in judgement? Animal crackers and milk? It would be one thing if the suit was to cover surgery expenses or something. But it doesn’t appear that is what is driving this case.
Ah, the society we live in.

Let’s get this party started…

I was told once that I treat politics like its a sport.  That I spend too much time playing devil’s advocate just to tick people off instead of expressing my own opinions.  That being an independent means not taking a stand on anything.  That having a conservative stance on anything makes me a Republican.  That I never say anything good about Democrats or the left.  And so on, and so on.

 

I’ve found myself often trying to say “well, do you not remember when I said blah blah blah?”  of course, the answer is typically no.  So I’m looking forward to putting this space to good use.  Because everything i say or debate will be here for all to see, and easily searchable.  As will all of our good discussions usually reserved for my Facebook page.  Of course I’ll occasionally put up something good on Facebook.  It has served us well.  But here, we have lots of room to grow and play–its like turning a bunch of kids loose in the yard with a kickball!

 

Anyway, enough of the small talk, let the beatings begin!