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.


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.


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.


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!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Global Warming and the daily weather.

If we are going to have a debate on global warming, and it looks more and more like our country is going to have to, can we please move past the comments about so-and-so day being extra cold?

One letter writer in today's paper wrote a tongue in cheek letter mentioning Oaklawn's opening day having to be moved because of the coldest temperatures in 15 years, as evidence that global warming is BS.

It's extra interesting because these same people tend to shut up when summer rolls around and we have record high days.

If a real debate is going to happen in this country, recognize that climate change theorists call for cold winters that are just as extreme as hot summers. Your punchy one-liner comments reveal nothing except your silliness.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Journalists vs. Columnists

Just a quick question. Do people not understand the distinction between a columnist who works for a news entity and an actual news reporter?

After the Arizona shooting I heard so many times about this news paper saying this or that network saying that.

The problem is that anytime an example was given it was always just one of their pundits saying something. People who are hired to give THEIR opinion, not do reporting or give the opinion of the network or newspaper.

I'm sure we can argue that FOX or the New York Times, to give two examples, have their respective agendas. But not one time that anyone made an accusation like this, did I ever see it backed up with anything other than the words of an opinion columnist or TV pundit.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

If only someone had had a gun.........

  I've heard the argument in the title of this post........well.......not as much after the Arizona shooting as after other shootings. Probably because it happened in one of the states with the least restrictions on carrying firearms. And look what good that did.

 But I'm sure I'll hear the argument again when a guy shoots people in a state other than Arizona. The whole concept of if people were freer to carry guns then there would be less incidents like this is flawed because most of these mass shooters don't seem to care if they die or not. Of course the follow up statement is that "yeah but they would kill a lot less". That might be true if suddenly every person carrying weapon is trained enough to hit their target in such a high stress situation. And let's face it, most gun training classes don't train you for that crap.
  Also, what if there were multiple, everyday people armed and ready to try to stop the shooter from various sides? Boy would I love to be caught in the middle of that mess.

  My point in all this is that if you are an unreserved supporter of the rights of citizens to bear almost anything, just be honest and say so. Say "I like guns and I believe the founding fathers wanted us to have the right to bear arms to this degree". Don't pull the altruistic, public safety argument. Because it's a losing one for your side. Our murder rate in this country versus the rest of the civilized world (who don't have gun laws near as free as ours) is ultra high. And the fact that people don't have enough guns isn't the reason.


Friday, January 14, 2011

Tennessee Tea Parties declare war on history textbooks.

The Commercial Appeal has a story that says that a group of Tennessee Tea Parties want, among other things, to change references to the Founding Fathers as slave owners. You can scope it out here .

 From the story:

"The material calls for lawmakers to amend state laws governing school curriculums, and for textbook selection criteria to say that “No portrayal of minority experience in the history which actually occurred shall obscure the experience or contributions of the Founding Fathers, or the majority of citizens, including those who reached positions of leadership.”

Fayette County attorney Hal Rounds, the group’s lead spokesman during the news conference, said the group wants to address “an awful lot of made-up criticism about, for instance, the founders intruding on the Indians or having slaves or being hypocrites in one way or another."

I'm sorry but the truth is the truth and our schools should teach our nation's history warts and all. I haven't been in school in a little while so I can't speak on current textbooks, they may very well be biased and disproportionately point out the flaws of the founders. What I can say is that removing all reference to this is pathetic. Schools should give students all the info and let them think for themselves, not guide them into some sort of predetermined view of history dictated from above. Plus none of the things that Mr. Rounds mentions are "made up".

Also, I think the effectiveness of various Tea Party movements is being diluted as they take on more issues and topics. As an anti-debt, anti-deficit, and anti-reckless spending movement it had a pretty considerable effect. It moved these issues to the forefront in a big way. It could have even had a lasting impact on our national conversation regarding debt and deficit reduction. Right now I see it turning into another conservative movement focused on vague "anti-Americanism".

A movement of fiscal responsibility could have continued to grow across the board. A great many people in our nation think our government spends way too much, but a lot fewer of them want to go around rewriting our textbooks.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Arizona sees the mundane face of evil

     Here I sit, halfway watching the BCS championship, but also sitting and reading updates on the sad shooting that took place in the same state.

     The harm done and lives taken and affected by this is very far removed from my comfy living space at this moment. But from the descriptions I've read all I can say is that several good people were killed or hurt by one very stupid man. And sometimes that's all that there is to a story. I don't want to trivialize this by referring to a work of fiction, but to illustrate this point I'm going to mention a thought I had while watching the new Coen brothers film of "True Grit" a few weeks ago.

     In the film, when we first meet the man who killed Mattie Ross's father he is a mumbling moron. Not super sinister or intimidating. Just a dummy who had a gun and a desire. At times like this in our country, we see that evil isn't always a mesmerizing figure who has power over others like Hitler or Charles Manson. Sometimes it's just some guy that wouldn't be all that scary if he didn't have a gun in his hand.

     To all you trying to politicize this I say stop. And that means everyone. I know Olbermann and those on MSNBC have said their bit referring to the Tea Party, but those on the other side are doing the same thing. Conservative hosts love to play the victim when something like this happens. They get to say that the "liberal media" is blaming conservatives. Nevermind that when they say that, they're usually referring to a select group of loudmouth commentators. Just leave it alone. There are no great lessons to learn here, except perhaps from the lives of the victims and the heroism that was displayed by some. When evil comes bringing death sometimes it comes in the form of a community college student who writes bad poetry.