Monday, December 26, 2011

Ron Paul can't keep dodging.

  

   Anyone who has kept up with recent presidential campaign politics is aware of the controversy about the Ron Paul news letters from previous decades. They were sent to subscribers and contained numerous offensive, racist, and nutty ideas. The New Republic has links and summaries of them here. I was aware of them during the 2008 election but I bought Paul's excuse that they were written by a ghostwriter and that he had little involvement in them. I still buy that, but a recent revelation (for me at least) has made me reexamine whether that explanation is enough.

  Some of the newsletters make it very clear from the way they were written that the author is supposed to sound like Paul. They are written in the first person  in a kind of "from the desk of..." style. My impression had been that all of them were written as random unsigned articles under the heading of the Ron Paul Newsletter. The fact that some were written in his voice and that some even bore a signature, makes me question his judgement. Even if he didn't write them, I question why a person would think such words are the sort of thing Paul would endorse. Paul needs to answer to these emails with a fuller explanation.

   If he didn't write them, then, to put it bluntly, the media will need a scalp. Whoever did write them needs to be offered up. If he did write them, then he needs to admit it and then get out of the race. Those are the only options. As much as I can't stand her, I think about how much more extreme the response would be against a Michele Bachmann if she had published similar articles under her name. Fairness dictates that Paul must answer for this, no matter how much I appreciate his dissenting views on foreign policy and the war on drugs.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

GOP presidential candidate preference in descending order.

The candidates that this blog likes (or could live with) at this moment:

1. Jon Huntsman-a great background with experience as a governor, businessman, and ambassador. And a foreign policy that isn't neoconservatism but hasn't embraced isolationism either.

2. Gary Johnson-a very popular (in his state at least) former governor of New Mexico. Ron Paul with executive experience and less crankiness.

3. Ron Paul- just for the grand experiment his presidency would be. I predict a lot of gridlock, but maybe some meaningful reevaluation of our country's place in the world.

4. Mitt Romney- has definitely let a little bit of the meanness of the rest of the GOP field into his campaign, but at least he doesn't seem to preoccupied with Muslims, gays, or our "anti-colonialist" president.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Rick Perry enters pander mode.

In recent weeks we have witnessed two examples of a candidate drowning and grabbing onto anything that can pull his numbers up. That candidate is Rick Perry. Okay okay. I know this blog is sympathetic to Huntsman, and I'll admit that his numbers are low but at least they're so low that any movement has only been up (in New Hampshire at least). Perry's fall has been something to behold. He's even tied at 3 percent in some state polls with Huntsman. Perry's candidacy has been just as embarrassing and silly as Herman Cain's. But on to the panders...

Pander #1: this one hasn't gotten as much attention because of pander #2, but Perry recently went anti-Wall Street in a recent speech, which is fine and dandy for this blogger. But it's pretty hard not to see this as an attempt to grab some of the anti-Wall Street sentiment that is even on the right. After all, you'll see a few Ron Paul supporters and libertarians mixed in Occupy Wall Street crowds.

Pander #2: This is the biggie. In case you haven't seen the horrendous video, please enjoy:

 

I won't bore anyone trying to explain the BS and logical fallacies of this ad (The Daily Dish does a much better job of it here). But in putting the ad together it's as if the campaign put a list of hot button items that bother the most extreme cultural conservatives, threw darts at the list, and then picked the ones that the darts hit.  Thud (War on Christmas). Thud (prayer in schools).  Thud (gays in the military). Thud (Obama isn't really a Christian). 

Anyone who reads even just a little bit about Rick Perry would have a hard time believing that either pander #1 or #2 are very close to his heart.

Monday, November 28, 2011

The reason Huntsman hasn't had his moment (and Gingrich is having his)

  

   Pundits have been speculating for awhile as to why Jon Huntsman hasn't had his moment in the polls as the anti-Romney. There's been all sorts of reasons given, from his service in the Obama administration to his views on climate change and civil unions. But the real clincher in my opinion? The man doesn't talk enough trash for GOP primary voters.

  If it was only Huntsman's views then why the heck was Chris Christie forgiven for his lapses from GOP orthodoxy and so salivated over for a month or two during the "will he/won't he" phase of the primary? Because he was a big mean guy with a Tony Soprano-ish presence. Even Romney, the consistent frontrunner and generally reasonable seeming human, has engaged in hyperbole about Obama to try to sound tough. But Romney wasn't rough enough in his criticism. He's smart, and primary voters like smart....actually, let me rephrase that...they like the appearance of being smart. But he isn't a dirty SOB. Shooting verbal bullets at O and sounding like you read stuff, that's the golden combo. Have they found it with Gingrich? Maybe.

  Every answer the man gives in a debate is a mini history lesson and he still manages to get in digs in interviews about Obama's "Kenyan, anti-colonial behavior". Dang. Look at that quote. Pure partisan beauty. It's like something Rick Perry would say if he'd read a book or two in his life and could cobble together the brain cells to remember what was in those books.



   If Huntsman had managed a few more of those zingers his numbers would be the ones rising. Of course, those of us who believe there is still some decency hiding in the GOP are glad he hasn't.



Sunday, November 27, 2011

New West Memphis 3 article is a waste.

  

  The Democrat Gazette ran a new article on the West Memphis Three case that covered the reflections of two state crime lab workers. The article can be found here.  The only comment on the article, as of the time of this blogpost, pretty much nails my opinion of it. We know for sure that at least one of the men, Mr. Peretti, thinks the West Memphis Three are guilty. We also know that both men from the crime lab feel like their work was unjustly attacked. These attacks were by the defense trying to claim that the causes of the wounds on the victims weren't what the crime lab claimed.

  I'll agree that knowing what caused the wounds is an important element of this case, but this article never once explains why Mr. Peretti is so certain the three men who were convicted of the crime are the culprits. This man handled the physical evidence, the one part of the case that both sides agree is very weak as far as linking the WM3 to the crime. What did he see in his work that convinced him. He's free to talk about it now. Why didn't the reporter get more information?

    Not to be cynical, but I wonder if the purpose of this article is to further the subtle bias the Dem-Gaz has always had against those questioning the convictions from this case. Otherwise, all we are left with is a story that basically says "Two AR crime lab scientists were very sad from the West Memphis killings and think that their work was unjustly attacked." Wow, who would ever be surprised by that?

 Oh yes, and one more thing, the quote by Mr. Peretti, also mentioned by the commentor on the story, is absurd: “They are being worshipped as child killers".  That is what Mr. Peretti thinks of the WM3. I don't care if he thinks the supporters of the Three are wrong, but you'd think he'd be classy or intelligent enough to acknowledge that those who are supporters don't think the three men committed the crime.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

BUYcott Black Friday: even more stupid than Occupy Black Friday

  Caught this story about a Philadelphia Tea Party group that encouraged people to "BUYcott Black Friday" to help the economy and to respond to the OWS crowd that wanted people to "Occupy Black Friday". Both ideas are incredibly stupid but BUYcott takes the cake.

    So many Tea Partiers are criticizing the "violence" and "chaos" of Occupy Wall Street, was the Philly group not also aware of the violence and chaos of Black Friday? There have been deaths and severe injuries from shopping frenzy. Also, for a group that prides itself on fiscal responsibility I have to ask, just how fiscally responsible are the ill advised additional purchases that so many people make because they're in the Black Friday zone?

     Look at the pictures of people waiting in the cold or people in a constant state of shopping orgasm with mountains of junk in their carts. A lot of them look like the sort of people that Tea Partiers blame the housing crisis on. I wonder what the average credit score of a Black Friday line at Walmart is?

    So for your viewing pleasure, two great examples of what Philly Tea Party groups want for our country. And by the way, the item those people are scrambling for in the video? $2 waffle makers.





Monday, November 14, 2011

Further thoughts on Ferneau police officer incident.

 This post is kind of a reaction to a response to some comments I made on another blog. I don't know what happened at Ferneau, but then again I've never claimed to know. All I've done is told how things appear to me. This is partially based on my perception of the video and what I find believable about police officer actions. The latter is due to my witnessing the incident referred to in my previous blog post. Still I've never said that the officer should be fired or made similarly disparaging remarks about him, unlike many of those who commented on the Arkansas Times blog post about the incident.



  But I also won't say for sure that the officer was justified. The video appears to show an unarmed man getting punched in the face by a police officer without sufficient reason. It appears to show this. I have no clue what happened before, but it appears to show this. Just as so many people on the AR Times blog were calling for the officer's head, just as many people were saying a stupid drunk got what was coming to him. Both of these kinds of people are blindly subscribing to one view or the other, and knowing nothing of the complete story. I have shared my initial reactions to the video since it's my blog and it's a forum for my thoughts and opinions. But in the end, all I've said is that it's not certain that an officer used excessive force, but it's definitely believable. If you don't even think it's a possibility you are naive.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

LRPD Excessive force: not certain, but believable

Many blogs have written about this incident so I thought I'd show this video and discuss my thoughts.

.
 

For anyone who hasn't heard, the above video is of an incident that happened outside the restaurant Ferneau. Having watched the video, the face punching is the one part that to me seems absolutely uncalled for. The rest of the video is hard to see, but I fail to see how an officer is justified in holding an unarmed suspect's neck and punching him in the face multiple times. I have friends who have been or are in law enforcement and this runs counter to all the training and handling of suspects that they have told me about.

I will also add to that a personal experience I had on Cinco de Mayo at El Porton in LR several years ago where I witnessed excessive behavior by an officer working security. The officer approached a man sitting at a table near ours and asked why the man was looking at him "funny". Having been at the front door the officer walked all the way into the bar area to ask that. The man denied looking at the officer any sort of "funny" way and it escalated into the officer asking the man to leave and then slamming the man on the table, knocking it over, and spraying mace. The mace then basically cleared the entire area of the restaurant as everyone started coughing and dealing with burning sensations. So the idea of a Little Rock police officer acting excessively isn't too crazy to me.

Glass Steagall, it's time to bring it back

  

  Caught this blog post from Slate the other day, which mentions both Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich basically agreeing that Glass Steagall should never have been repealed. Okay that's great, we agree on that, now what?

  This should be a non-partisan issue. For all the GOP debate talk about repealing Dodd-Frank, there was little discussion of what to do in its place (Huntsman came close in last night's debate with talk of an anti-bailout fund paid by the banks, as well as his touching on the need to "right size" our banks, shoot he even semi-called out Goldman Sachs!). A return to Glass Steagall's separation between commercial banks and investment banks would definitely help protect the assets of America's citizens and make headway into dealing with TBTF. Now if we could only get a candidate to say that onstage...

Sunday, November 6, 2011

House of Representatives proves it doesn't have amnesia



The House of Representatives voted recently to reaffirm that the motto of the United States is still the same motto that has been in place since 1956: "In God We Trust"

In other news they also voted to affirm that Abraham Lincoln's face is still on Mount Rushmore and that his position hasn't been usurped by William Henry Harrison...



Friday, November 4, 2011

Is Tea Partier Joe Walsh a "deadbeat dad"?



  Huffington Post carried a story whose implication was that "deadbeat dad" U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh (not the totally awesome guitarist who was the only cool thing about the Eagles) hypocritically accepted a pro-family award from the Family Research Council. The story can be read here.

  That Walsh is a child support owing deadbeat has been the spin in a lot of the left leaning media for a little while, but a little bit of further reading shows that it's not that clear. I'm no fan of Mr. Walsh and I definitely think the FRC is full of it and spends most of its time assaulting the liberties of others rather than "protecting the family". But since this is a blog that has no use for spin and smears, even against those with whom it disagrees, it decided to delve into this.

  This story from examiner.com has this section which definitely paints a less black and white picture:


According to Joe Walsh, $2,134 a month is being withheld from his government paychecks to support one teenager.  Two other children are now 20 and 24 years of age.  The three children are from Walsh’s 17 year marriage which ended in 2004. 

The Representative also says that his wife’s allegations have given him a reputation as one of those ‘deadbeat’ dads – a term used to describe men who do not pay child support for their children.  He argues with that label by saying that he has been involved with his children.  In fact, he says that his youngest child lived with him for a time in 2009 and 2010 while his wife was off in Indianapolis making a six-figure salary by being employed by Eli Lilly & Company.  During that time, the Representative claims he only made $39,000 in 2009 and $61,000 in 2010. 

  I don't know the whole situation so I won't make a judgment on the topic.  But based on the above information definitely raises some questions about the spin of the first article...but then again this section from a Huffington Post story (here) seems to call some of the previous article's section into question:

A withholding order currently deducts $2,134 each month from Walsh's income as a member of Congress -- a $174,000 annual salary -- which goes toward his back child support obligations.
Largely thanks to the child support issue, Walsh was named as one of Congress's thirteen "most corrupt" members in a Citizens For Responsibility And Ethics In Washington (CREW) report in September. In her December filing, his ex-wife claimed that Walsh said he could not afford to make the payments for their three children while, at the same time, he loaned his own campaign $35,000 and took vacations abroad.

  The time frames and salary figures from these two opposing sections muddy the waters in this whole affair quite a bit. The echo chambers on either the right or left send out messages that fit into the reinforce the preconceived notions of their base. I think digging into all sides of an issue is the responsibility of anyone who has a love for the truth, takes an interest in our nation's politics, and isn't a partisan hack or dirtbag. And if what comes up isn't a clear answer, well, there's no sin in saying "I don't know".  So, I don't know whether Joe Walsh is a deadbeat dad.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Herman Cain's enigmatic ad/comedy extravaganza!!

I don't have anything too serious to share with this post but I have to comment on Herman Cain's ad which has become an almost viral sensation. I was trying to explain it to someone recently, and I found it difficult to speak through my laughter. Here it is:

                                                     

Okay, so did the campaign just suddenly decide "we need an ad, time to break out our secret weapon: Mark Block!"? And the smoking at the end. So perplexing. Is it supposed to be the smoking of the desperate down on their luck, lower class American? A symbol of America's need for a smoke break? Is it supposed to make Mark Block look somehow cooler? Is it a "screw you" to all those liberals and their anti-smoking laws? No campaign ad will top this for pure, almost avant garde, weirdness.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Obama and Steve Jobs: the significance of their meeting

  


    Recently people in the media have been poking fun at the Occupy Wall Street protesters for using iPhones and other products that are produced by corporate America. The implication being that they are hypocrites for protesting corporations while using their products for their own betterment. An example of this can be found in the picture below:





This of course ignores the real target of the protests, and the fact that most Americans can point to very few beneficial things that the average prop trading desk for a Wall Street firm does but they can hold an iPhone in their hands and find millions of uses for it. Which brings us to Steve Jobs.

   In excerpts from an upcoming biography of  Mr. Jobs there is a story of a meeting between President Obama and Mr. Jobs in which Jobs told Obama that he could be a one termer. You can read a little about it here.

   While there are some things Jobs said that I disagree with, like his scapegoating of teacher's unions for the failures of our country's education system, when he moves to the topic of business I'm all ears. Jobs said that regulations in our country had made it harder for companies to build factories in the U.S. This is something I'm accustomed to hearing from whatever generic Koch brothers mouthpiece you hear on FOX News, but coming from a Buddhist, acid dropping, lefty like Jobs it carries a little more weight with me.

  Political views aside, Jobs recognized that Obama wasn't doing a great job in aiding the growth of the economy. And he didn't parrot a call for more government intervention in the economy, he called for the opposite. If Jobs had made these statements public it could have been an "only Nixon can go to China" moment for a lot of liberal Apple loving citizens in our country (who, speaking of China, probably don't give much thought to the fact that their iPhones are made there). One can only hope that the release of this biography brings more attention to the business views of a man whose company has done so much to advance our country for the better.

 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Breitbart is no Taibbi.

  I just read this story from Andrew Breitbart's Big Journalism about the alleged role of the "mainstream media" in working with the Wall Street protesters.


  I have to say that the concept of the piece is pretty flimsy. Dylan Ratigan doesn't have near enough of a following to influence hardly anyone. Matt Taibbi and Glenn Greenwald aren't super mainstream either. Definitely not any more mainstream than Breitbart himself.

   My biggest gripe is the way Matt Taibbi is portrayed as being some sort of scheming journalist trying to influence the movement, even getting a mention on the Rush Limbaugh show. Here are two of his responses, here, and here. Taibbi is a journalist, but he's still opinionated.

   I fail to see a big difference between him giving suggestions to OWS protesters (if he was doing this) and Breitbart's speaking at numberous conservative/Tea Party gatherings. As it is, nothing that I've seen shows me that he is personally trying to relay anything to the OWS people that he hasn't written in his articles.

  The concept of Breitbart's website going after Matt Taibbi is hilarious. Breitbart fashions himself a "journalist" but he's really just a spastic kid who takes (often dubious) information from other people and gathers it together. Breitbart would be lucky if he had a person with even a drop of Taibbi's talent working for him.


UPDATE: Another article from Big Journalism does actually have some info on Dylan Ratigan possibly giving guidance David DeGraw who was actually going to be interviewed by Ratigan's fellow NBC employee  Brian Williams. That would cross a line in my mind, especially since they work for the same news network with Ratigan as more of an editorialist and Williams as a straight newsman. Still, I see no concrete info that Taibbi is nearly as involved as Ratigan. Even if he is, I don't have a problem with him trying to get his ideas out to people who could make a difference. If there were more conservatives and liberals raking up the same muck as him then this would probably be a better country.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Perry, Bush, and Beer


It was said that when Dubya ran for president, he was the kind of guy that people felt they'd enjoy having a beer with. If that's the case, then does that make Rick Perry the loudmouth at the bar telling you how many beers he has had and maintaining that he still isn't drunk?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

H.R. 1981 , and your online privacy



HR 1981 is a bill that is called the "Protecting Children From Internet Pornographers Act" but could be more accurately titled the "Internet Power Grab Act". It requires ISPs to store all their customers' information such as name, address, phone number, credit card numbers, bank account numbers, websites visited etc. for 18 months. This is done under the pretense of catching child pornographers by basically treating everyone who has a computer like they could be one.

I'm hearing a fair amount of opposition from both sides of the aisle on this one, and sadly support for it as well. If this bill bothers you as much as it does me, call/write/email your representative and Senators and tell them how you feel.

Here's a video summary:

                           

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Democrat-Gazette disses Egypt (and Turkey too).



    Tuesday's issue of the Dem-Gaz had a stunningly pessimistic editorial about the trial of Mubarak in Egypt, and about Egypt's future as a whole. Of course it delved into their raging "Muslim Brotherhood is going to take over Egypt" hard-on that is seemingly shared by every right wing commentator in existence.

  They pointed to Mubarak's being in a cage as if that had some sort of inherent significance, ignoring the fact that the use of the cage in the courtroom is commonplace in the region (and even in Italy, France, and Germany when a particularly violent defendant is on trial). They even titled their piece "Lion in a cage: Hosni Mubarak on exhibit". References to the French Revolution were also made, and the whole thing was enough to make the reader believe that the writer expected guillotines in the street at any moment.


   Look, I don't dig the Muslim Brotherhood. Their presence in Egypt is unsettling. But they will have some sort of role in whatever government Egypt ends up having. We can deal with it, or we can freak out over it. If one reads the Economist the situation doesn't seem nearly as bleak as the Dem-Gaz's editorial would have you believe, but still very much up in the air.


  An article in the same issue dealt with Turkey as an example for the region. Of course if one read the Dem-Gaz's Mubarak LionMan editorial or whatever you want to call it, you would think that an Egypt headed in the direction of Turkey would be a scary prospect indeed. They described Turkey as a place that is is slowly heading the way of a theocracy. Meanwhile a poll in the aforementioned issue of the Economist addressed the percentages of Muslims that support harsh punishments like whipping for theft, stoning for adultery, and the death penalty for leaving Islam. Of all the Muslim countries mentioned Egypt had the highest percentages in favor of such punishments, hovering around 80% support. Turkey on the other hand saw the lowest percentages in favor of any Muslim country on the list, less than 20%.


  I understand 20% is still too much, but if Egypt were going to head any direction I would be pretty pleased if it was Turkey's.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Thoughts on Federal Charges for Abdulhakim Muhammad

A story in the Democrat Gazette dealt with the topic of federal charges being brought against Abdulhakim Muhammad for his murder of Pvt. William Andrew Long and wounding of Pvt. Quinton Ezeagwula. Long's father Daris hoped that the filing of federal charges would help the case of his son and Ezeagwula being awarded Purple Hearts, which would in turn help Ezeagwula receive medical benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Listen, I'm all in favor of honoring Pvt. Ezeagwula and the memory of Pvt. Long. I'm also not opposed to some way being found for Ezeagwula to receive medical benefits. But filing federal charges against Muhammad, and even to a degree giving his victims Purple Hearts, would play right into what he wants. From the beginning, Muhammad has tried to make himself out to be something more than he is. As far as anyone can tell he's not a true terrorist, he's a wannabe. Instead of a wannabe gangster he chose to be a wannabe jihadist. Federal charges and giving his victims honors like those suggested would make Muhammad's day. The memory of Long should be honored and Ezeagwula should be taken care of, but Muhammad needs to disappear.

Monday, July 25, 2011

The thinking that got our country into this mess.

I'm reading William Greider's 1981 Atlantic article, "The Education of David Stockman." , about Ronald Reagan's incoming budget director. Not only is it a great glimpse behind the scenes of the beginnings of "Reaganomics", but there's a quote from Stockman that jumped out at me in light of today's problems:

Social Security was much more volatile, but Stockman noted that the Senate had already expressed a willingness in test votes to reconsider such basic components as annual cost-of-living increases for retirees. In the House, the Democrats, led by J. J. Pickle, of Texas, were preparing their own set of reforms to keep the system from bankruptcy, so Stockman thought it would be possible to develop a consensus for real changes. He didn't much care for Pickle's proposals, because the impact of the reforms stretched out over some years, whereas Stockman was looking for immediate relief. "I'm just not going to spend a lot of political capital solving some other guy's problem in 2010.

For some reason I feel like this terribly unflattering moment for Mr. Stockman, captures so much of the attitude that led us to this point with our debt/deficit problems and with issues of entitlement spending. It's something few people in Washington have ever spoken aloud, but a mindset that their daily actions speak to.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Dustin McDaniel vs. Jon Hubbard.

For those of you unfamiliar with the whole Dustin McDaniel and Rep. Jon Hubbard spat, here's a brief summary from the first part of the Democrat Gazette's story covering it:

A Jonesboro lawmaker has accused the attorney general of pandering to Hispanic voters and providing special treatment to the group by offering a Spanish-language version of the office’s website. The attorney general responded that the legislator could be seen as “an angry, misguided person.”
Rep. Jon Hubbard, a Republican, made the accusations in e-mails to Attorney General Dustin McDaniel, a Democrat, between July 12 and Monday that also went to news media, the GOP lieutenant governor and about 30 Republican members of the House of Representatives and the Senate.
“Dustin, I regret that you are not as passionate about representing the people of Arkansas as you are about propping up this person masquerading as [the president of the United States],” he wrote in one of them. Hubbard said by phone Tuesday that he believes that President Barack Obama is not a natural-born citizen as required by the U.S. Constitution.


And the Arkansas Times has a post that has the full texts of the emails. It can be found here.

My thoughts?  It's a little frustrating that I totally dig McDaniel's response (aside from the personal digs involving his former seat in Jonesboro which I could really give a crap about) considering how much I don't dig any number of other things that he's done with his office.

A section of Hubbard's first email also cracked me up:
     
Is there a state policy that provides special treatment for Hispanics in Arkansas, while no other ethnic groups are given the same special consideration?
    I seriously doubt Hubbard was caring very deeply about the concerns of any other ethnic groups in our state when he wrote that. There's a reason that across the majority of the country you can select Spanish on an automated voice system or an ATM. It's because it's the only other language that has a big enough presence to warrant it. Most of our country isn't going out of its way to put every freaking language as an option.

 C'mon Hubbard just come out and say it, you don't like people speaking a language other than English in Arkansas.  There's no point in couching it in all that pretty talk.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

American Exceptionalism and "the best health care system in the world"

As I listened to the radio today (take a guess which show), I heard state representative David Meeks say that America had "the best health care system in the world". I also recall Rudy saying that in a debate a few years ago when he ran for president. Saying something along the lines of "where are Canadians going to go to get their health care?"


                                     Well, that's how I remember Rudy in 2007/2008



Does our country really have the best health care system in the world? I don't think so.

Of course I don't think we have the worst either and I'm not sure anyone has the best. People who hail from countries with more socialized health care have spoken very highly of it. Their stories are a far cry from the horror stories your average Republican tells about socialized medicine. But there's also the occasional reliable story that tells about the negatives of socialized medicine, such as long waits for crucial procedures.

As much as I hear the health care horror stories from own country that have led to people on both sides of the aisle saying we need to do "something", I also hear people who are more or less satisfied with the care they get when they go to a doctor/hospital. I also have my own experience to go by which has been mostly positive (but I've yet to deal with anything catastrophic).

Our country has some of the best doctors in the world and some of the best hospitals. But something must not be perfect if our citizens are taking trips to places like India for procedures. Of course, as this article in Forbes points out, the largest segment of medical tourism going on in the world is that of people coming to the United States. This is because our health care is considered the most advanced in the world.

So basically our health care system is a gas guzzling pimped out luxury SUV with the highest level of trim out. Whereas you could compare the health care system of a European country to a Honda Civic that gets 40 miles to the gallon. If you want a car that will basically drive itself, tell you bedtime stories and rob from your bank account at the same time, go with the SUV, if you want a car that is simple and does an affordably basic job of getting you from point A to point B go with the Civic.


                  U.S.A                                                           Europe                                             
       
                 
 My point with all this is that "best" is all in what you're grading on. Our country has the most advanced health care in the world, but I couldn't call it the best. Just like I couldn't call Great Britain's the best.

Which brings us to American Exceptionalism. Anytime someone tries to point to American being the best for anything other than the concepts that we were founded on, I get somewhat annoyed. So many of the positive things about this country have been a direct result of many of our founding concepts. I remember Palin flipping out because Obama said that our military was one of the best armies in history. Apparently "one of the" wasn't enough for Sarah. I guess she had all these matchups in her head where our army fights the hordes of Genghis Khan or Alexander the Great's army in Death Valley with spears and win.

Okay, sorry to digress. My point is that I don't need to think my country has the best health care system in the world to love it. A system ranking among the best is enough for me. Wait, I don't believe in American Exceptionalism? Shut up.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Update: Crawford's office says quote was not referring to FBI and veteran's benefits.

A call to Rep. Crawford's D.C. office yielded a spokesman who said that the section quoted previously was part of a lengthy interview and was referring to the stop on U.S. borrowing, not the specific programs and agencies that the writer of the story mentioned.

Of course, I don't know enough to say for sure that the programs and agencies mentioned wouldn't be affected by the stop in borrowing. I just know that while I would hate to see veterans benefits affected, I would REALLY hate to find our government unable to fund the FBI.

Update: A search revealed that the Arkansas Democratic Party also caught the article. Which of course they are inevitably spinning to say basically,"Crawford wants to end FBI and veteran's benefits for years."

From the news release:
     
“There simply aren’t words for the disastrous effect this ‘solution’ would have on our economy, our national security, and the quality of life for our veterans who have put their lives on the line to protect our country,” Candace Martin, communications director of the Democratic Party of Arkansas, said. “Crawford’s only solution is to let America default. Close the FBI. Close the VA. Not just for a day, but for years. Crawford is willing to put our country in harm’s way to protect his special interests like big oil and tax breaks for millionaires.”

You can view their post here.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Did Rick Crawford really say we could do without the FBI?

A Washington Post story carried in today's Democrat-Gazette, seems to imply that Rick Crawford thinks our country would be just fine without the FBI for a couple of years. Here's the relevant section (with the bits I'm talking about in bold):

"Crawford, a freshman legislator, said the president could cope with a full stop on U.S. borrowing by using incoming tax revenue to pay for the services he thinks are essential: soldiers, Medicare and Social Security, and interest on existing debt.

That approach, outside experts have said, might mean the government wouldn’t be able to afford the FBI, veterans’ benefits or other federal services.

That’s all right with Crawford.

'That wouldn’t work for just a few days. That would work for a few years,” said Crawford, who added that he would agree to raising the debt limit only if such a bill included major changes in federal budget priorities. Budget deficits, he said, require “that we take some painful measures now. I’d rather swallow that bitter pill today.'"

The question is whether or not Crawford was speaking specifically about the government not being able to afford the FBI, etc, or referring to the plan to allow Obama to pay for essential services with incoming tax revenue.

This section of the Post's story needs a little more clarity. I, for one would like to know. What we have is either a newspaper article that is structured to make it sound like a congressman thinks we don't need the FBI for a few years, or a congressman who actually does think that.

I would hate to see veterans not get their benefits but I would hardly put that in the same category as the FBI which has a hand in investigating many crimes, including homegrown terror plots, that are very relevant to the security of the general public. It's too late to contact his Washington office but I'll definitely be following up on this.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Haven't heard any anti-global warming jokes lately...

Anytime it snows in Arkansas, or gets drastically cold in the winter, I inevitably hear or see someone making a joke whose point is that in essence "Al Gore is full of crap, on this global warming stuff." It's funny how you don't hear any of that during a hellish Arkansas summer.

I'm pretty much apathetic on the topic of global warming, but I realize that climate scientists aren't claiming that there will no longer be winter. Making the whole "there's snow on the ground, global warming is BS" joke is pretty stupid.

I really don't care about global warming that much and I get annoyed by people who talk oh so passionately about the need for green energy on one side and the people who spew venom against cap and trade on the other. Nothing mankind could do would make much of a difference at this point anyway. I take the P.J. O'Rourke view: "My suggestion is install air conditioning and buy beachfront land in Greenland."

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Assessing the GOP candidates.

This is an admittedly silly exercise. But everyone is doing it, so screw it. Here's my take on the GOP presidential candidates. Most of my thoughts will probably sound like what the rest of the media is saying but I can't help it if some of what is said is true.

Michele Bachmann-- Has proven herself as more than Palin-lite. Of course, I never liked Palin and I don't much care for Bachmann either. Her limited government rhetoric would probably only go so far as spending if she were president, probably has more standard issue hawkish Republican views and would probably not care much for civil liberties she didn't like.  Also can't admit when she misspeaks. Assigns blame to media when she makes a mistake, rather than admit it and move on. A very Palin trait.

Mitt Romney-- Romneycare would be far less of a liability in the general election than the primary. He looks presidential and doesn't come across as too batty (sorry Bachmann). His coming from the business world would probably be a strength if the economy and unemployment rate stay dire. Not so sure it should be though since most of his business experience was with streamlining and firing rather than hiring. Not that I really believe that government can create private sector jobs anyway...

Ron Paul--- Has certainly had an impact on the past few years. Libertarian ideas would play very well with the public in a general election if Republicans would get behind them. Still, Paul is very clumsy in his speaking and, as much as I respect him, goes very off track during some lines of questioning. It would be much better if libertarian ideas were presented by someone more like...

Gary Johnson--Has been royally screwed in this process so far, as with his exclusion from the most recent debate. Did admittedly come across as very squirrely in the first debate but could improve. Too bad the media narrative has in essence put up a ceiling for him. Built up a construction business from practically nothing to one that employed over 1,000 people. Also an athlete who has climbed to the top of Mount Everest. Two term governor of New Mexico so he's a libertarian with executive experience, and a record that matches with his beliefs. He is also more popular in his state than most of the other former governors running are in their states. With a story and credentials like that, only a Republican party still clinging to the last vestiges of its social conservative element would write him off like this.

Jon Huntsman-- Would be a great general election candidate. Not angry enough for most primary voters but the right temperament for the office.  Ambassador to China is a nice bit of experience and so what if it was under Obama? It wasn't like he was a cabinet member or something. Seems to have had a decent record of policies in Utah that promoted growth. As far as cap and trade and civil unions, I doubt this election is going to be decided on those things and I doubt either of those are high on the average American's list of concerns. Too bad I can't say that for the average GOP primary voter with any certainty.

Rick Perry -- Probably does stand a good chance for the nomination if he enters the race. Could appease several disparate parts of the party. The specter of Cameron Todd Willingham should be something that is brought up, but appearing tough on crime seems more important than justice to many on the right. Doubt any Republican campaigns will bring it up if he runs. If he won, would Obama's campaign bring it up?

Herman Cain-- Probably one of the best candidates running as far as delivery. A wonderful voice. As far as what that voice says on policy... well...seems like he's still working on that at times.

Tim Pawlenty-- An Esquire profile of Jon Huntsman featured a quote by his chief strategist about Pawlenty. Might be the most accurate description I've heard of him so far: "There's nothing worse than seeing a nice guy pretend that he's angry."




Newt Gingrich---


Rick Santorum-- Even in a GOP primary race, this election isn't going to be decided by who is the most pro-life, anti-gay rights candidate. So Santorum needs to calm down before his veins explode.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Can I please have a political party that talks like this?

  Just wanted to post a video that someone I know linked to. It's of former Reagan budget director David Stockman on the Dylan Ratigan Show. It's one of the clearest explanations of the stupidity of the bailouts that I've ever seen and also a clear explanation of the failures of the Ben Bernank . It would be nice if there was a party that would spend more of their time talking about and trying to educate Americans on these issues, rather than just throwing red meat to their base.




Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Fourth of July!

And in honor of the 4th I present to you the most absurd, yet awesomely American, picture ever.



Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Would you vote for a Mormon?

For the Republican nomination for president there are now two Mormons running, Jon Huntsman and Mitt Romney. So the question I have for anyone who might read this is simple: "Would you vote for a Mormon?"

As anyone who has seen or heard "the Book of Mormon" musical or read "Under the Banner of Heaven" can attest, some of the beliefs of the faith are fairly strange.

Personally, I think most politicians are so full of it and insincere when it comes to their religious beliefs that religion doesn't enter into my voting decisions. What do you think?

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Ethanol Subsidies: Coburn vs. Norquist

 This article from the Daily Beast made my day.

Only someone with Grover Norquist's level of slime and scuzziness, would oppose ending ethanol subsidies. If there has ever been a more no brainer issue, this is it. I'm glad to see someone like Coburn clear the way for a truly fiscally sound decision by the Senate. It has yet to be seen what the fate of the suspension of subsidies will be in the House, but this is a great step.

Signing some silly tax pledge does not equal fiscal responsibility. Franky I find it distasteful that any elected official would sign such a pledge with any private interest group. It's nice to see that Coburn, who did sign it, came to his senses along with some of his fellow Republicans.

And just to pile on Norquist a little more, here's this post on Frum Forum which shows just what a classy individual he is.

And a picture of the previously referred to scuzz face:


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

"The president can bomb anybody he likes."

 In one of my favorite scenes in Oliver Stone's film "Nixon", Nixon is told of four articles of impeachment that Congress is considering against him. The last one mentioned is the bombing of Cambodia, to which Nixon replies,"The president can bomb anybody he likes."

What was true then is true today. The way that White House spokesman Josh Earnest brushed aside the two Libya resolutions by Congress as "unnecessary and unhelpful" illustrates this. Ramble on about "Obamacare" and how disappointingly secretive this administration has been, but this cavalier attitude about the War Powers Resolution puts Obama in a class with the previously mentioned former president. While I do think there were many redeeming qualities to Nixon as a president, his view of the office as an almost imperial position was not one of them.

Of course every president since the Resolution was passed carried this sense of executive power, but Obama is the first one to so blatantly ignore it when it comes to military action. And it doesn't look like Congress is doing much about it. Long live Tricky Dick.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A very curious ABC/ Washington Post poll

 The most recent poll by the two news organizations in the title of this post has a wide range of questions featuring most of the GOP candidates for president. For some reason though, the question on how each Republican candidate would fare in a face off with President Obama only features six candidates. Ron Paul is among those left off which is odd considering John Huntsman is one of the six. Huntsman scored some of the lowest scores in the previous questions when it came to voter consideration and preference. Definitely way lower than Ron Paul.

 I've suspected for a bit now that the Huntsman push is coming from a small group of wealthier voices in the GOP, along with a bit of egging on from the media. His name being one of the six in the key 2012 election face off question confirms that for me. Huntsman has the handsome presence to be president and has come across as totally likable. He definitely looks like a president and I have no reason yet to not consider him. I like what I hear so far. What I don't like is the idea of an unseen hand pushing him ahead of candidates with larger bases. Already I'm seeing the worst elements of the 2008 primary coming through.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Gary Johnson excluded from NH debate. Bring on our media approved choices.

 So CNN and the sponsoring organizations have decided to exclude Gary Johnson from their upcoming New Hampshire debate because he doesn't meet the needed percentages they laid out. Nevermind that the most recent, and I would think relevant, polling by Gallup shows him at the 2 percent threshold, the same level as Rick Santorum.

 It's funny that the one issue that is usually brought up to highlight Johnson's long shot chances is his support for marijuana legalization. Nevermind the fact that Ron Paul, one of the better polling candidates at the moment, supports that as well, and that it doesn't seem to be affecting his poll numbers. And that was even after Ron Paul's infamous heroin legalization moment. 

The reason Johnson's chances are so remote is name recognition. The point of debates is to make the viewers familiar with the candidates and their views. Before the FOX debate, how many people other than staunch Tea Partiers knew much about Herman Cain?

 I'll admit that Johnson's FOX debate performance was pretty bad, but I was looking forward to seeing some possible improvement in his presentation. Here's hoping CNN changes the standards and lets a two term governor in.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

So that's what Dave Elswick is...

Caught Elswick's show for a brief bit as I drove home from work. He described himself as a Rand Paul/neo-libertarian. He said this meant he supported border security and opposed abortion. How these two things made him jump right over Ron to Rand is beyond me. I'm pretty sure Elswick and Ron Paul are on the same page on these issues, and that those are two issues that have room for debate in the libertarian world.

Let's be honest, the first main difference between Paul and most on the right is that he doesn't love war. The second is that he isn't a vicious SOB. He probably wouldn't yell out "YOU LIE!", or question in public the loyalty of Muslim citizens, or accuse Obama of "hating" America. Today's party is built on lapping up vicious soundbites that tap into whatever built up frustrations they have with ...well...fill in the blank really.

When you've got a party with jokers like Palin who are so enraptured with militarism that they hop on Obama just because he said in a speech that our nation's armed forces are, "one of the finest fighting forces the world has ever known", anti-war elements on the right just don't stand a chance.

Anyway, enough Elswick talk. Just thought it was a nice conclusion to the last two posts. Moving on next time.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

For the GOP, liberty starts and ends with guns, low taxes, and the Bible.

If there's anything that I distrust these days it's the increasing number of conservatives and Republicans that are describing themselves as "libertarian" in their thinking. See my previous post on Dave Elswick for an example. While I definitely think Ron Paul and Gary Johnson can lay valid claim to the word, I've never been so sure about Paul's son Rand.

Senate campaign interviews with him made it sound like he was watering down some of the more controversial (and some would say principled) views of his father. His recent stand against some items in the Patriot Act renewal made reconsider him briefly, but an interview with him referenced in this post from the Volokh Conspiracy makes me return to my original opinion of him.

In the interview comment Paul seems to support jailing people who attend radical speeches, by people who speak of violently overthrowing the government. Not people who say these things, just people who attend speeches by those who say these things. I'd be willing to hear some more context from the whole interview if anyone can provide it, but I have a hard time thinking it would shed any new light on Paul's comments.

The GOP only cares about liberty when it applies to the holster, the wallet, and the Good Book.

Here's a video of his comment from Think Progress:

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Dave Elswick could suck a lot less if he really tried.

Like many of my fellow Arkansans I listen to Dave Elswick many afternoons. Unlike (or maybe like, I don't have a clue) many of them though, I'm usually frustrated by his show. Frustrated because he has shown glimpses of being slightly more libertarian in his thinking than a standard issue conservative talk radio host but that's usually only ten percent of the time.

This is the Elswick who had Wendell Griffen on quite awhile back to chat about whether or not judges should be free to speak their opinions when not on the bench. The Elswick who has had on Michal Graves, singer for the Misfits for many years (even though he was still no Danzig), to talk about the West Memphis 3 case. The Elswick who recently made marijuana legalization the topic of his show. The Elswick who had on a guest who questioned the need for a tax to raise money the Garland County Jail project and who advocated more varied (and inexpensive) degrees of punishment for crimes.

And then you have the other 90 percent represented by the Dave Elswick heard today who spent much of his show yukking it up with two fellow conservatives whose names I didn't catch. One of whom basically gave a water carrying endorsement of any Republican who would run against Obama (thankfully Dave was slightly more principled and stuck to his guns against Romney).  There was also mountains of praise heaped on Sarah Palin from one of the guests and a comment form Dave that she "looked good wearing leather." The cherry on top of all this was Dave saying he thought Satan would do a better job as president than Obama. Hyperbole for sure, but jeez.

When Dave talks about liberty issues he's at his finest, when he's railing against liberals like they were spawned from Hell's anus he loses me big time. All he's doing is playing to the simplest elements in his audience when he could be trying to elevate the dialogue a little bit. There is an opening in media markets both local and nationwide for a larger embrace of truly libertarian thinking. It would be nice if someone with a built in audience took that full on plunge and spent less time comparing our president to Lucifer.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Absolutely legal, and rat bastard, move by State GOP

  In case anyone reading this hasn't heard, liberal blog Blue Hog Report was shut down following a freedom of information request by the state GOP aimed at two individuals behind the blog, both of whom are state employees. This FOI request by the GOP followed numerous Blue Hog FOI requests for the Secretary of State's office, which is currently occupied by Republican Mark Martin. The state GOP wants to make sure that Blue Hog blogging wasn't done on state time and computers.

  Both sides are well within the law with these requests. But the request by the state GOP does have a potent rat bastard smell to it. In all honesty if a little blogging was done on state time and computers, but not to the point that it hindered their work, I really wouldn't care all that much. Party affiliation wouldn't matter to me. I know the rules are the rules, but I assume that most workplaces with Internet access have a little bit of blogging/shopping/screwing around/"look at this funny video" internet activity going on anyway.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Obama no different than Bush on Israel.

Days like these make me so glad McCain wasn't elected president.

Don't get me wrong, Obama has been a colossal disappointment. But to have to live through four years of McCain doing some of the same things that Obama is doing now and receiving nary a negative Republican word? The silent hypocrisy could have killed me. Kind of like the way the very vocal hypocrisy of Republicans criticizing Obama over his Israel comments is killing me now.

As this article in the Economist points out, Obama has basically spouted the same line on Israel as Dubya and Clinton. Of course you'd never know that if you listened to Newt and some of the other mouth breathers in the GOP at the moment. (Dear Jon Huntsman, if you run, please try to drown out these morons a bit.)

At the very least Obama is forcing many of the more serious issues facing our country to the forefront in a way few presidents have. Largely because most Republicans would have been silent and happy if a member of their party had won. And no, I don't think we would have had a Tea Party with a McCain/Palin ticket winning. The Ron Paul supporters would still be around, but the rest of the Tea Partiers, the Bachmann branch we'll call them, would have been lapping up VP Palin soundbites on a daily basis.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Netanyahu's "Ancient nation" isn't that old

Having just read a news story about Netanyahu's visit with President Obama, I was annoyed that he called himself the "leader of the ancient nation of Israel". Can we drop the whole notion that Israel is a continuation of the biblical nation? Your country was founded in 1948, we are more "ancient" than you are.

Acknowledging would have no bearing one way or the other on U.S. policy, it would go a long way towards stripping all that premillenial garbage that clogs up U.S. dialogue about the Middle East. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

My feelings on Dubya, a few years out

Andrew Sullivan had a post a few days ago that is the first thing I've read that perfectly captures the way I feel about our former president:


"He still befuddles me, this man. His heart seems so often in the right place, and then he defers to thugs and cowards. Maybe he was just out of his depth. But my feelings about him remain much more complicated than about Cheney, Rumsfeld and Yoo. And when you see him again relieved of the burden of office, you realize how he got elected twice to the White House. He'd rather have been cycling."

My thoughts exactly. I never understood the visceral hatred for Bush anymore than I understand the visceral hatred for Obama.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Obama's shot in the arm for U.S. politics.

  This comment on a recent Reason.com article I was reading summed things up nicely:

   "Point being, why didn't these groups organize themselves to oppose TARP and the bailouts when they happened, instead of waiting until a D was in office, and then rebelling (initially at least) over a very specific program he proposed to use those funds for?

    It's a pointless thought exercise, but I've always imagined that if McCain was elected, and proposed the exact same programs as Obama, the whole thing wouldn't have blown up. It would have remained as grumbling amongst the punditry and blogosphere, instead of blossoming into a full-blown movement. That's just my opinion, and it's worthless, but it influences how I view the TP in broad strokes (there are plenty of individual TPers who I've met who would be hardcore libertarians; I'm not trying to make a blanket statement about all of them)."

I agree with everything about this statement. The libertarians did get a shot in the arm from the tea party's focus on economic issues (but not much else from the tea party), enough to where libertarian views are in the GOP primary like never before. The mainstream GOP rode the tea party wave to victory in the House. The moderate Democrats got a surprisingly hawkish charismatic president who, while he didn't get a single payer system, passed what is basically Nixon's version of healthcare. And what moderate Democrat doesn't love to look tough on defense and cut sly compromises behind closed doors?

Honestly the only political group that gained very little from Obama's election was true blue liberals.

Monday, May 9, 2011

The credit Obama deserves, FTW

Someone in the past week made the point that if you don't give Obama any credit for Bin Laden's death, then you can't blame Bin Laden for 9/11 since he wasn't flying the planes himself.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Bin Laden's dead. Now what?

  It's late and I'll keep this brief because I'm tired. Bin Laden is dead. He was killed in Pakistan. The country where our CIA is conducting a cover war. Gen. Petraeus is being moved to head the CIA. Panetta (whose primary mission from Obama was apparently to get Bin Laden) is being moved to Defense. So surge-master Petraeus has basically been made leader of that covert war. For some reason I'm feeling that Bin Laden's death is only the highest profile incident to come of our covert war in Pakistan. Not the terminus. With a military, counterinsurgency man at the helm I think our involvement in Pakistan is going to get a lot more hot.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Since it's 4/20 and all...

"To make marijuana against the law is like saying that God made a mistake. Like on the seventh day God looked down, "There it is. My Creation, perfect and holy in all ways. Now I can rest. [Gives shocked expression] Oh my Me! I left (expletive deleted) pot everywhere. I should never have smoked that joint on the third day. Hehe, that was the day I created the possum. Still gives me a chuckle. But if I leave pot everywhere, that's gonna give people the impression they're supposed to … use it. Now I have to create Republicans." " … and God wept", I believe is the next part of that story."   ----Bill Hicks

Not a weed smoker, and I don't think God wastes his time smoking indo, but dang it the way Bill Hicks could construct a joke and continue it makes me miss him every time I'm subjected to any Blue Collar Comedy tour comedian or most network TV sitcoms. And so many of our drug laws are very stupid.

Which brings us to Gary Johnson. The pro-legalization former GOP governor of New Mexico. He's supposed to announce his candidacy tomorrow in New Hampshire. He's a refreshing, laid back, and fiscally responsible face for the GOP. Here's hoping his support doesn't come too heavily from the legalization crowd and that he can focus on many of the other issues in our country. Otherwise I'm not sure how far he'll make it in the primary. He'll certainly insure that the debates will suck a little less though.

Monday, March 28, 2011

How Republicans respond to Libya

This chart has been making the rounds and I think it's a decent illustration of how idiotic the response of most Republicans has been to Obama's response to the happenings in Libya.

The only anti-U.S. involvement in Libya argument that resonates with me is that put forth by Ron Paul and his left wing equivalent Dennis Kucinich. They have gone so far as to say it's an "impeachable offense" because the dropping of bombs could be considered an act of war and the president didn't consult Congress. Paul has backed off of that some, but I do have to say that the Dems would have been flipping out if Bush had done something similar without taking it before Congress.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Mandatory Gun Ownership?! Really?

   The daily question on morning call-in show on KARN has always seemed like it's designed to be a big hunk of red meat for the ultra-conservative callers of Arkansas. It's as if the idea is "let's ask the most broad open-ended question that will be guaranteed to draw negative calls." This approach isn't totally surprising since I'm aware that the self styled libertarian (but generically conservative sounding at times) Dave Elswick isn't just a host on KARN, he's also programming director. The hosts of the morning show attempt to sound neutral but their occasional tossed off comments and chuckles in response to the comments of some callers belie this.

    The other day the question was "How do you feel about the president of the NRA refusing to meet with President Obama?" Well one of our resident geniuses in this state said loudly, and proudly "I think it should be illegal to not own a gun." Whaaa???

    And herein my dear readers is the main reason I can't align myself with conservatives. While I don't agree with the fiscal soundness (or unsoundness) of everything liberals want for our country, I could never align myself with a side that has people like Mr. Gun Dude on it. I know he's probably an exception, but can you deny that there are some people deep down inside who think they are just slightly more American for owning guns than those who don't?

   The most "radical" thing most liberal callers I've ever heard on any radio show have ever proposed has been a single payer health care system for all Americans. I'm not coming out in support of universal health care here, but considering so many of our citizens in this country have received government health care before "Obamacare" even, that sounds a lot less crazy than forcing everyone to own a firearm. And in all honesty, liberals are such wusses for the most part that their extremist wing scares me a lot less.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Well just to lighten things up a bit...

Wow. This has been a rough week, what with natural disasters hitting Japan and human disasters unfolding before our eyes in Libya. So for a quick Friday night post I thought I'd share something somewhat humorous for any readers who might be watchers of HBO's "the Wire", and familiar with the character Clay Davis, the corrupt Maryland state senator, and his ubiquitous use of a certain word. This poster may have existed for awhile, but I've only recently seen it and it is easily my favorite parody of the famous Obama campaign poster.

Cheers.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Obama's handling of Egypt

   Mike Masterson writing in today's Democrat-Gazette points to a video that can be found on YouTube of an MSNBC interview with Niall Ferguson. Masterson quotes a friend of his who apparently said of the video, "finally someone in academia who gets it." The video can be watched here.

   I'm fairly tired of the criticism of Obama's handling of Egypt. Believe me, there are plenty of things we can criticize our president for at the moment, but his response to the revolution in Egypt should not be one of them. The funny thing is I haven't heard any suggestion as to what he should have done differently that resonates. I've heard from his critics that he either should have said more or said less, or supported the protesters more or supported Mubarak more. I think he hit about the right note.

  The sillier criticisms I hear are that since Obama "didn't say enough" during the protests following Iran's most recent presidential election, it was inconsistent for him to come out in the end for a change of power in Egypt. Iran's leaders are no friends of ours and any strong or vocal support for those protesting the regime would just allow those leaders to paint genuinely domestic revolutions as U.S. engineered. Egypt on the other hand, since Mubarak was an ally, was a totally different dynamic and the same principle wasn't in place.

  As far as Mr. Ferguson and his comments in the video, all I can say is that if you take away his oh-so-intelligent sounding accent he doesn't really sound any different than Hannity or any other blowhard you hear on FOX. Something along the lines of "Blahblahblah Obama blahblahblah Muslim Brotherhood blahblahblah".

 

Friday, March 4, 2011

And why am I supposed to care if Obama is an anti-imperialist?

  Mike Huckabee, of whom it was said in this this blog recently, looks like a viable presidential contender, is trying his darnedest to prove otherwise.

  Not only am I becoming more and more privy to the scope of his pardoning blunders, and his unpopularity among many conservatives who know him best, but I've come to the conclusion that he has no idea of what he is talking about half of the time.

  The biggie recently is his saying that Obama grew up in Kenya and adopted the anti-imperialist/anti-colonial views of his grandfather. Everyone has honed in on the first part of this, but let's look at the second. Why on earth is it a bad thing if our President is an anti-colonialist?

  Is Great Britain a country whose history of imperialism we would want to imitate? There are moments in the 20th century, and even in this new one, that would indicate we have stepped in that direction occasionally. For the most part though, we have been a country that supports self-determination. The best of us are giving moral support to that right now as we see what those in Egypt are going through.

  Huckabee said at one point of Obama, "his view of the Brits, for example, [is] very different than the average American." If anything we, as a country started by former British colonies, should have plenty in common with the anti-imperialist sentiment expressed by some former colonies. And as far as what the average American thinks of the Brits, I would cynically have to ask whether the average American thinks about the Brits at all (aside from The Beatles and James Bond films, I guess you could insert whatever other pop-culture export the island has blessed us with...I'm partial to the Stones, at least up until the "Some Girls" album).

  I know that some Brits were uncomfortable with Obama giving them back the Churchill bust (another thing Huckabee mentioned in the same interview) but as an American I'm totally fine with it being replaced with a bust of Abraham Lincoln. And I don't think David Cameron is losing any sleep over a statue, no matter how much it is worth.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Harding gay newspaper makes "the New Yorker" website

 It'll be interesting to see how far this story goes....

The New Yorker story can be found here.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Harding University now has an underground gay newspaper...

...and I'm sure chatter around campus has just gotten much more interesting. Here's to free speech.

The first issue can be found here.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Dissecting the Democrat-Gazette Opinion pages.

If I'm ever desperate for something to blog about the Dem-Gaz Opinion page comes through in a clutch. The contrived folksiness of the Editorial, the predictability of its political columnists, and the nuttiness of at least one letter means there's never a shortage of things to address.

In today's paper we get to enjoy:

1. An editorial about a topic I actually agree on, putting a stop to Senate Bill 568 and House Bill 1572 which would open the door to predatory lending. My beef though is with the reference to the grocery tax. They once again refer to it as "The Shame of Arkansas". Okay, I'd love to see the grocery tax gone, I think that's a worthy goal. But I'm tired of the paper referring to it in such dire terms. It just sounds, well, silly.

    Are we supposed to picture other states laughing at us behind our backs because we have this tax? Do our neighbors really care that much? I'm pretty sure that we have a lot of other things to be ashamed of in Arkansas. How about our low placing in U.S. rankings for percentage of citizens to finish high school or our high poverty rate? But no, our tax on groceries is "The" shame.

2. Letter writer Bobby R. Bemis says that students are being taken out of Wisconsin schools and made to protest by their teachers.  I have seen video of students interviewed at the protests saying their teachers brought them, and that they were just taking advantage of not having school. They never said they were forced. But there are many students who are freely joining the teachers, but from Mr. Bemis's letter you'd never know that.

   And his solution to this? A law restricting teachers from taking students out of class except for emergencies or extracurricular activities where permission is granted. Ha. I find it funny that conservatives decry the nanny state and the abundance of nitpicky laws and regulations and then suddenly want to pass a whole new law over one incident that they saw on a video. I'm pretty sure what he's asking for is already the way students getting out of school is handled. And unless he or anyone can produced something proving that a student was forced to protest against his/her will, I will continue to think that.

3. Mike Masterson has an article about the bill for the elimination of capital gains taxes on "new" business investments. The arguments of  bill sponsor Rep. Ed Garner make sense, but he doesn't give any examples of companies who have relocated businesses over the tax, even though he says to "ask" them. He also mentions that the DF&A didn't project increase from potential new income taxes generated from job creation. Okay, what formula should they use to project that?

I've never had a satisfactory explanation of how a government can estimate potential revenues from job creation resulting from corporate tax cuts. And if anyone reading this does, then please tell me. I'm not saying it can't be done. Unless they have ten businesses on the line just waiting for the tax cuts, how can they give a concrete figure on this? The idea makes sense, but I'd like to know how there's any way to estimate or predict businesses coming into this state. It'd be nice to know that before we pass a tax cut that has no spending cuts to accompany it.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Dear Christian abortion protesters: Is it worth it?

Dear Christian Abortion protesters,

     Greetings from a fellow believer. I see you marching, holding signs, and taking out billboards protesting the legality of an act that our country has deemed legal. I don't like it either. But I've had a question regarding abortion that has been in my head for years. I've only recently shared it and I will do so here as well.

     Doesn't an aborted fetus automatically go to heaven in your view? That's a pretty standard view among Christians that a fetus has a soul. Is protesting for the life of a soul that is assured entry into the pearly gates worth alienating a life that may or may not have decided to accept Christ? I look at some of your signs and billboards (the most recently newsworthy one can be seen here ), and I think "are these people trying to win hearts and minds and change policies or just trying to irritate a lot people?"

     I think it's safe to say that your signs aren't working. Oh sure there may be an isolated case here or there, but think about the people whose hearts you have probably hardened against your views. And also think about the way our country's abortion policy has remained pretty much consistent for decades, even with a so called "pro-life" party in power at different times.

     I know that we can never know what could have come of the lives lost to abortion, but is this world or the next your priority? I'm actually asking this because so much of the suffering in this world doesn't stir near the feeling out of my fellow Christians as this act.

     So once again:   "Is protesting for the life of a soul that is assured entry into the pearly gates worth alienating a life that may or may not have decided to accept Christ?"

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Arkansas's Congressmen and the F-35

The US House recently voted to stop funding for GE's alternate F-35 engine. This has been touted as an example of making the military sacrifice during these hard economic times, even though the engine is being called a redundancy (therefore not a sacrifice) at the same time. While I support the vote to stop it, I saw an ad in the Dem-Gaz which raised my curiousity.

The ad congratulated all of Arkansas's Congressmen for "protecting the American taxpayer" by voting against the alternate engine, all the Congressmen that is, except for Mike Ross. Yet Mike Ross, the lone Democrat in the delegation, voted to kill the engine too. But he wasn't thanked in the ad. Curious.

The ad was taken out in the paper by Pratt&Whitney Engines and United Technologies. Why would these companies take out an ad for this? Oh yeah, that's right because they're the ones making the F-35 engine.

Pratt & Whitney is the subsidiary of United Technologies that makes the engine. A more honest wording of the ad would probably have been, "thank you for taking care of our competition".

I'm as much for cutting waste as anyone, but I don't like companies being disingenuous.

As far as why Mike Ross wasn't mentioned, the mystery goes on. It would be interesting to see info on recent and future campaign contributions from United Technologies, and on GE for that matter, to members of the U.S. House and see if any of them correlate to yea or nay votes.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Spike Lee at UCA

Spike Lee spoke at UCA last night and if you didn't catch it then it was your loss. Regardless of your opinion of his films and his politics (I think the former are brilliant and the latter hit or miss), his lecture was one of the least divisive things I've heard in a long time. He touched on the lack of and need for more black, male teachers ( and as someone pointed out during the Q&A male teachers in general). His other big topics were hard work, having a supporting family, and self reliance (I'm sure my GOP readers loved to hear that, although shouldn't we all?).There was also a great surprise during the Q&A time when Lee found out that Minnijean Brown-Trickey of the Little Rock Nine was in the balcony and he had her come down to the stage to a standing ovation. It was definitely a big moment for both of them and the pressure was on from the audience for him to make a Central High film.

Hearing Lee's story firsthand about how he became a filmmaker, and then having it followed by Miss Brown-Trickey was inspirational. He mentioned with sadness how back when he was growing up, intelligence wasn't something that was frowned upon among black youth. Those with brains were as respected as those with basketball skills, or those who could "rap and talk to the ladies" as he said.  I don't care what you think about his views, the black community could use a few more Spike Lees and a few less Jay Zs (although dude can flow, I'm not hatin'), and so could our nation. I'm pretty sure that those 9 men and women who made a stand for education would agree.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

State of the Union wrap-up: Loop style

We'll break this into three parts folks, Obama's speech, Ryan's response, and Bachmann Turner Over..........oops, Bachmann's response.

Obama: 

1. Our deficit problems go back further than the past 10 years Mr. President. It is true that Clinton put us on a path that would have helped end our deficits and start paying on our debt and that Bush undid that. But aside from Clinton, every President since Nixon has continued the path of running up deficits like mad. Obama mentioned Sputnik in his speech for crying out loud, I'm pretty sure he could have gone back further in his speech on the deficits.

2. Speaking of the deficit, Obama soft-pedaled deficit and debt topics in his speech. Very much a let down on these topics. A spending freeze is not a bad idea, but one can't off handedly mentioned that Medicare and Medicaid are the single biggest contributor to our long-term deficit. That's not something you just throw in. Obama gave Republicans a big upper hand by not taking these issues on more forcefully and not doing that actually helped the impact of Ryan's response.

3. Investment really is just the political way of saying more spending, which I'm not opposed to always. But while I think high speed rail and rural internet access are swell, I'm not so sure that they are the kind of things that will help our economy in this current situation.

4. Thank you for putting defense spending cuts on the table. One of Obama's smartest decisions was on the foreign policy and defense front. Keeping Robert Gates was Obama's wisest decision and gave him gobs of political cover. Gates, having worked for the CIA during a time when we had another superpower as an enemy, is a man whose opinions I trust on our defense budget. A man with his experience has an eye on a militarily rising China while at the same time focusing on threats from less advanced terrorism. I just wish he'd stay on for all of Obama's term.

5. Education starts in the home. A cliche but it can't be said too much, and I'm glad Obama said it. Our teachers in this country are expected to do more than their job description entails. A nation of parents that have screwed up dodge blame while a nation takes out its anger on teachers.

6. College is over-emphasized. I don't think every person in this country needs to go to college. If we had more people who knew how to do more things that didn't require degrees then maybe illegal immigration or our jobs going overseas wouldn't be issues.

7. People who have lived here their whole lives and worked hard don't need to be sent back home. Immigrants aren't taking American jobs near as much as the ultra right would have us believe. Look at my number 6 above. If we clamped down, I'd be skeptical that our citizens would fill the jobs they leave. Also I agree with Obama about the need to keep gifted people from other countries who get degrees here in this country.

Ryan:


1. I'm glad Paul Ryan hit the debt issue forcefully, since I agree with the Republicans (and I guess the Democrats, since both sides give this issue lip service) that the debt and budget deficit are pressing issues and since Obama dropped the ball on it in his speech. My main problem is that both sides propose piddling little things to appear fiscally  responsible. I honestly think that if many in the GOP got their way and somehow repealed "Obamacare" then they would go home back to their villages cocky, like knights who had just slain a dragon, and not give a rip about the debt or budget deficits. Paul Ryan, Ron Paul, and Rand Paul and some others might care, but aside from a few folks it'd be back to "deficits don't matter" Cheney-ism.

2. Did anyone else think that Ryan looked a little red-eyed? It was enough to make me go look up his stance on marijuana legalization. I mean even Pat Robertson has drifted to that view. I haven't found anything  on his stance though, so.....

3. The UK isn't in the same position as Greece, it's trying to get it's crap together so it doesn't turn out like Greece. And if we were smart, I think we'd look to the UK as an example of making tough decisions of this nature.

4. Chris Christie was right to turn down giving response. We'll be hearing New Jersey governor Chris Christie's name a lot more often in the future. Turning down the response was smart on his part because regardless of how good one's speech is, it's a very awkward format and the speech usually pales in comparison to the one that preceded it (Jim Webb's response to Bush in 2007 was an exception). There was very little incentive for Christie to give it, his star is already rising.
 

Bachmann:

1.Seriously woman, I know you hate him, but take some teleprompter lessons from our President. I was trying to figure out the entire time who the heck the person two feet to the left of the camera was that she was looking at. I also have a hard time listening to anyone who has said, "We also know that the very founders that wrote those documents worked tirelessly until slavery was no more in the United States." Well gee, I guess that whole slave state/free state thing was all a lie. There never was any slavery in our country, our founders ended it! You sit on a throne of lies Abraham Lincoln!