"Don't raise the debt limit, defaulting will teach us a good lesson."
Defaulting on debt is not an unheard of thing for the U.S. Treasury. In 1979, the U.S. failed to make timely payments to all its bondholders. The result was not unlike what would happen if any of us failed to make the minimum amount due to any of your credit cards or other debts. If you miss one payment, the interest rates on all your loans goes up. This is because interest rates are set by a creditor's perceived ability to repay the debt at hand. Missing only a single payment is often enough to downgrade a credit score, for a very long time.
The previous U.S. Treasury default was over a mere $120 million dollars, and occurred in the middle of a debt ceiling debate, similar to the one occurring now. Even though the Treasury had some $800 billion outstanding at the time, the amount actually defaulted on was a very small proportion of the debt. At issue was the fact, that a few checks just didn't get written and sent out, due to bookkeeping and or computer problems, and this caused the federal interest rate to rise by .6%. This raised interest rate was not applied only to the $120 million that was defaulted on, but rather to the entire debt at the time, which was close to a trillion dollars. So, missing the $120 million in payments to bond holders cost the Treasury alone about $6 billion in increased interest.
The debt limit was eventually increased and the U.S. was then able to meet its following obligations, but even after 6 months of paying our bills in full, the interest rate was not decreased.
With a current debt of $14.5 trillion, a tiny rate increase of .6% would add an additional $87 billion to the interest we are already paying. Add to that, that the interest rates of all American debt, both private and public, would go up, further weakening an already unstable market and further tightening the loan industry's purse strings.
It is 30 years later, and the Congressional Freshmen brought into office by the Tea Party want no part of raising the debt limit. They are urging their Republican brethren to stand their ground and refuse to raise the debt limit, and demand that we cut spending, while at the same time refuse any notion of increasing taxes. The consequences of another U.S. default are both real and unrealized by the Tea Party.
Defaulting on our debt has in the past, and will most certainly in the future, cost Americans greatly. Sadly the Tea Party's history books, don't include past Treasury defaults and its effect on the debt and its interest rate.
"We should stop wasting money on manned space flight."
As a child of the 70's, the Space Shuttle was the only space craft I saw in operation. The movie "Space Camp" spawned my short lived 'wanting to be an astronaut' fantasy, wherein a group of camp kids get a free ride into space when they are aboard, when the Shuttle accidentally launches. The notion of someday looking down upon the Earth from heaven was and still is very appealing to me.
Within a short period of that I witnessed the Shuttle Challenger explode shortly after launch. Even at the age of 10, I understood that the Shuttle's launch was performed in stages. So when there was an explosion well before the solid rocket boosters were set to detach, I knew something was seriously wrong. While there were reports that some cheered unknowingly at the explosion, I feared the worst. The reality of how dangerous space travel truly is was made plainly clear, as the reporter described the scene as a "...major malfunction."
Less than 20 years later, I would witness another Shuttle come apart during re-entry, as Columbia's heat shield failed to protect the astronauts from the temperatures closing in on 3000 degrees. As with the Challenger, I knew immediately that all those aboard had perished. Space flight is dangerous, as humans have suffered losses in both flight operations and training procedures. The Shuttle was intended to ferry men back and forth into orbit, like our own space taxi, but re-ready procedures proved both lengthy and costly.
Shuttle Atlantis just touched down, for it's last official mission, bringing an end to the program. Shuttles Discovery and Endeavor had already been decommissioned and the hangared strip down process had begun. While Shuttle Enterprise never made it into space, it will be displayed as a museum piece soon. With these ends, so follows our immediate progress into the great unknown. There was a time when man sought to expand his frontiers, with an unbridled enthusiasm. Where has that spirit gone?
Have we lost the notion of how important it is to make our world bigger, our technology more capable, and our reach further? We will now rely on the Russians for space-service. If it was a marathon, I guess the Russians finally won the space race. It is no wonder, we can't even adopt the advance green technologies or solar panel or wind turbines. We have stopped leading the world, in anything but military endeavors.
"There are no tax increases of any kind, on the table."
Our country is in debt, and our yearly expenditures exceed the total tax revenue collected. One party doesn't want to raise taxes, or the debt limit, and seeks to cut federal spending to eliminate the deficit, but has no plans on how to recover from the debt. The other party is willing to cut some federal spending, in order to get a debt limit increase, and some new tax revenue, but also has no plans to solve the debt. The curious aspect is that BOTH parties are willing to cut funding to both Social Security and Medicare, to attack the deficit. I always thought one party was different than the other, in that it was supposed to stand up for protecting entitlement programs and responsible tax rates?
In order to merely pay our bills, liberals are willing to provide less health care and means on which to live to those who can least afford to provide for themselves. The only conclusion one can draw from this, is that liberalism is taking on new meaning or the the Democratic party is now conservative. How is it progressive to tell grandma that she gets a few less medical check-ups this year, and that she now will certainly be deciding between food and that prescription medication? Why aren't we standing up to say, "No, no, NO. We ARE going to meet our obligations to our fellow citizens. We ARE going to pay our bills on time, and we ARE going to raise taxes to do so." Surely there's one party is willing to step forward and say that we should meet our financial obligations head-on in a fully responsible manner?
The latest offering by Senatorial Republicans is to simply give President Obama authority to raise the debt limit unilaterally. This measure is intended to take their fingerprints off the matter, so they can go back to their voters and claim, "I didn't raise the debt limit, the President did!" Which I find ironic, because according to the Constitution, the President could have declared the debt limit entirely unconstitutional, and just raised it all by himself. When that notion was floated, Republicans bristled and claimed such efforts, a "silly notion".
In the end, neither party is willing to say that anyone is entitled to current entitlements, both are willing to cut from those who can least afford to sacrifice any more. One expects Republicans to quash compassion, but why are liberals now wearing the same hat, touting the same garbage?
Could it be that both parties are controlled by big money, and that neither has the middle class in mind?
And this is how people get both longer sentences than they truly deserve and how some guilty are allowed to go free. With Casey Anthony, the prosecution 'thought' they could prove murder one, and because of that mistake, someone responsible for the death of her own child, will end up spending less than 5 years in prison.
Casey is now protected by double jeopardy, and can not be retried on lesser charges, for the same crime.
The problem of course is our appetite for revenge. A child is dead, and the mother had something to do with it. After that story hits the news, constituents start screaming for blood. Rather than follow where the evidence leads, prosecutors here allowed screaming mob obnoxious talk show hosts to set the agenda. Had the prosecutor went with a less charge, he would have been accused of being soft on crime. In the end, we are still Rome, and those in attendance at the Colosseum, still want blood for blood.
In this instance justice was served because jurors were unable or unwilling to arrive at the prosecutors' position. Believe it or not, the worse outcome would have been a finding of guilt, without a reasonable doubt. Now, conservatives are all up in arms, because a child killer will end up walking after merely a few more months behind bars.
If only prosecutors weren't elected based on their 'perceived' stance on crime... If only talk show hosts didn't whip listeners and viewers into frothing frenzies, over allegations and accusations, but merely reported on JURY's 'findings'... If ONLY the media treated people like 'innocent' civilians, UNTIL they are found guilty in a court of law.
"A marriage, as my religion defines, is between a man and a woman."
So, why is the government involved in the affairs of religion? The government shouldn't be issuing marriage licenses, at all. What the government should do is issue Civil Union Licenses, which would allow couples to share resources, grant access to each other in emergency situations, and any other thing afforded legal couples in America. Then you could take that license to whatever church you'd like and have it sanctified or blessed with a ceremony of some kind, so that it a recognized 'marriage'.
I'd have no problem with a church deciding which licenses to sanctify, and which ones it wouldn't. There are already some churches willing to bless same sex unions, so if you don't like a religion's doctrine, you can shop elsewhere. In the same respect, I don't think anyone should be able to force a church or religion to bless every union they are presented with.
What I've never understood is how allowing homosexual couples to share their lives with one another, is an attack on traditional marriage? The only way I can interpret this action is they, those who oppose gay marriage, are attacking someone's lifestyle by denying them equal protection under the law. Moreover, these attackers are claiming to be victims, and no one is calling them on it. They are claiming they want to "protect" traditional marriage, but from what, exactly? Moreover why do they find the need to deny people civil rights, to protect theirs?
Why liberals are so bad at branding, and how conservatives get away with blatant misbranding, is beyond dumbfounding to me. The problem with democrats is that they are on the average more passive, and not forceful with their agendas or arguments. They sit back and allow the opposition to set the stage and lighting, and even give stage directions.
Not only are we allowing the other side to run the show, but we haven't even offered a clear Constitutional compromise- a Civil Unions Law, that recognizes all unions equally without prejudices. We should leave it to churches to sanctify those unions as marriages, and end this debate once and for all.
"People need to take more individual responsibility."
I stand on the other side of that fence, where people believe that 'individualism' is a relic of state of nature, and that we left that state in order to form this more perfect union. Conservatives will rail on and on about how, if people would just be more independent, and wasn't so dependent on government, that everything would be just fine. Civilized people a long time ago abandoned that concept, because they realized that this is a united we stand and divided we fall world, that we live in.
This weekend, my hometown suffered a severe wind storm, that left power-lines and trees strewn about, and most of the town without power. Rather than each individual taking care of his or her own property damage, I saw a community become one super-efficient tree debris clearing machine. It didn't matter if you didn't personally own a chain saw, flatbed trailer, or a tree shredder, if you had limbs down in your yard it was mostly cleared by the end of the day. There was no need for someone without any of those tools or the ability, to lift logs that weighed hundreds of pounds or worry about hiring a tree clearing service, because with the whole town's resources combined, there was all of the personnel and equipment we needed at arm's length.
It was easily one of the most impressive sights I have ever seen. Without electricity, burdened by heat and humidity, those who had the means and ability, helped those who didn't. They did so without chastising those not doing as much, with less. No one required the disabled or elderly to brave the clutter, and if you didn't own a chainsaw you weren't required to 'rent' one from your neighbor. Without elongated thought or consideration, and without instructions or orders, people realized that there was something that needed to be done, so those who could, banded together and got the job done.
It was the best example of liberalism that one could demonstrate. Had conservatism won the day, half of the town would still be waiting for private contractors to clear the roads, people's yards, and local market areas. Thankfully, individualism had no place here, this weekend. People accepted the notion of community and outreach without hesitation, and we are now the better for it.
So, that means here in Texas, you can buy as much land and the mineral and water rights to it as you want, and basically do what ever the hell you damn well please, with it. There's literally no limit to how much water you can draw from the underground aquifer, even if it causes all your neighbors' wells to go dry. If you want to start a hog farm so big that it taints the entire water shed, have at it! Texas is a Republican State, and when election time rolls round, Texas is "red" indicating our Conservative voting nature.
Tonight, I attended a local information dispatching gathering, where a group of local land owners were voicing concern over a well known energy company setting up shop, to mine and distribute fracking sand. They were concerned that released particulates could cause health problems, and most importantly that once fully operational, the processing plant would consume some 3,700 gallons of water EVERY minute... In fact, total estimated usage would easily surpass all current local municipalities' use combined.
The presenters of the information were clearly liberal activists, well versed in corporate tactics, and offered those in attendance good contact information to offer some stumbling blocks for the incoming sand mining company. However, I left with little hope that anything could ultimately be done to stop the operation from continuing forward.
The reason is that those in attendance tonight have all voted for Republican, for a long time. They voted to ALLOW people to rape and pillage the land and our natural resources. If we had proper oversight and regulations, there should be nothing wrong with any business moving in and setting up shop. Those in attendance were mostly old wealthy land owners, who don't want to see another large industry move into their countryside landscape. The irony is that these people are the same ones who would decry the E.P.A., as tree huggers who need to get out of businesses way to create jobs.
Now they are upset that a business is going to move in, suck the place dry, and leave a fine powder over everything. Well, of course "Enron" is going to do this, that's what energy companies do. They identify a natural resource, then they go in and exploit that resource. A strong E.P.A. and rigorous oversight is our only check against corporate greed and their willingness to destroy our world for a buck.
I just wish Conservatives understood that corporations don't care about them, and tree hugging progressive liberals, who want meaningful regulation, are looking out for everyone.
We don't. There is no massive relief plan, who's purpose it is to direct America's potential, its market forces, and indeed its people. America doesn't have a plan for future greatness. We are in a financially unstable period, and we've already tried tax cuts, and stimulus packages, to what result? We have an unemployment rate of around 9%, but actual under-employment, combining those who are working part-time and those who have stopped looking for work altogether, well that number is +20%.
So, with so many unemployed or under-employed what is the plan?
There isn't one, or at least liberals are utterly failing to deliver, mention, or otherwise indicate that there is. The Republicans' seem to think that the cure all is "more tax cuts", that people need to be able to keep more of their money, as though 'individuals' would use their personal wealth to repave roads, repair bridges, or build the transportation system of tomorrow. The really rich people in this country mostly just put their names on planes, helicopters, and buses, and travel around telling people how great they are.
So, my "progressive" plan is to update our rail transportation infrastructure, to build a high speed rail system, powered by renewable energy sources, that is earthquake resistant, and tornado proof. We should be able to load both people and vehicles onto it, and it should showcase the American landscape. This high speed rail system should have at it's core, a basic building principle of 'sustainability'. It must be designed to support itself.
Of course, this means that we are going to have to raise taxes. We have to make and win the argument that we need to invest in America again. Individual wealth does not help 'us'. Revenues are down, raising taxes is the only way to gather funds necessary to both repair and improve our the very systems we depend on.
That is what the first official press release said anyway, about a search warrant being served on United States Marine LCpl. Jose Guerena, by SWAT Officers, while he slept. 54 seconds later, he was bleeding out through 60 bullet holes. Then it would then take an hour for SWAT to allow paramedics access to him, to confirm his death.
The second story released by Pima County Officials was that the point SWAT man 'fell' backwards, and they thought he had been hit, so they opened fire.
Most recent, is a 54 second video that clearly features a siren sound for about 8-9 seconds, a team of SWAT officers standing at a front door, there's some muffled yelling, and banging on the door, then a breach of the door. Once it swings fully open, a full 5 seconds elapses, then the SWAT team opens fire on the Marine, missing 11 out of 71 shots fired.
The question is what did this two tour combat hardened Marine actually DO to cause the SWAT team to open fire?
Well, for starters, he was asleep at 9:30 A.M. when the raid began, as he had just finished working a night shift. He awoke to his wife saying, I think someone is trying to break-in the front door. By this time, there are no more sirens, and SWAT is at his front door. At this point, it is important to note that some of the Marine's extended family members had suffered a break-in about a year prior, in their home at a different location, and had all been shot and killed. With potentially armed intruders at his doorstep, the Marine's training took over.
If you wake up a sleeping Marine, and tell him someone is trying to invade his perimeter, he will grab his weapon, shoulder it, train his sights on the point he expects to receive hostile forces from, and make his weapon ready to fire. Upon SEEING the targets he will take aim and begin firing, IF the Marine concludes they are indeed hostile forces. That the door was open for a full 5 seconds is evidence that the Marine did NOT perceive a threat. Further investigation found that not only had the Marine NOT fired a single round, but his weapon was safetied. So, upon SEEING Uniformed SWAT Officers, the Marine did exactly as his training dictated. He put his weapon on safety, disengaged the target, and probably raised his weapon and hands and began to make himself visible.
SWAT Officers opened fire on a Marine actively surrendering... We know this is what happened, because these are the actions the Marine's training would dictate.
As the Marine laid bleeding to death, this same SWAT team barred medical personnel from administering first aid for the length of an hour.
Mistakes within this operation by law enforcement occurred at each and every level, with each and every step, and sealed the fate of a law abiding citizen and Marine Vet, who had no history of criminal behavior, and possessed nothing illegal on his person or in his home.
Marine LCpl. Jose Guerena is dead today, his wife a widow, and his children left fatherless, because law enforcement officials failed to serve and protect him.
"Government shouldn't tell people how they can build a house."
Recent tornado destruction had me wondering why progressives can't use these events to raise building standards. At the very least, shouldn't the government provide public storm shelters, to give those in the path some refuge.
We are spending billions each month to 'protect' Americans from terrorists. Care to guess how much we spend on protecting us from weather? The National Weather Service receives exactly .03% of the budget or around $800 million, while NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) operates on $5.5 billion each year or .19% of the budget. Why is it surprising that hundreds of people die every year from 'bad storms'.
Tornados are not going away, in fact they appear to be on the rise. As good stewards of our union, we should take steps to fix what is clearly broken in these senseless deaths and injuries. Sirens that sound occasionally when there may, or may not be, tornado activity, is not working as adequate tornado protection.
In my hometown, warning sirens have sounded twice this year, and we've had exactly zero tornados. This happens so often that sirens send people outside, to see what going on for themselves. In Tuscaloosa people did not take cover when the warning sirens sounded, as in Joplin, for the very same reason I stated here in my town. Sirens are often sounded without cause. When you tell citizens that warning sirens mean, "a tornado has been spotted, take cover now", then no tornado occurs, you have 'Cried Wolf'.
If we are going to protect people from bad weather, we are going to have to develop more reliable warning systems and employ them properly. We are going to have to raise building standards, and we are going to have to provide some sort of public shelter facilities, nationwide. Tornados are no longer only inside Tornado Alley.
"The federal government has no place telling schools, municipalities, or States what religious ceremonies or monuments they can sponsor."
What the First Amendment actually says is, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." The First Amendment states that 'Congress' shall not, but it goes on to say that it can not prohibit the free exercise thereof, when it comes to religion.
The struggle here is between what the federal government can't do, and what it can't stop us from doing. If a city wants to make Islam the official religion, so long as a majority of the citizens agree with the decision, Congress isn't supposed to be able to stop such an endeavor, according to the First Amendment. So, suits against Nativity Scenes on a Court House lawns, that weren't placed by Congress, should be thrown out, according to the First Amendment.
If the power or authority isn't enumerated as belonging to Congress, then it falls to the States and Municipalities themselves to decide. There is literally no separation of church and state issue to be found in the First Amendment.
As long as Congress was not making the establishment directly, I think a State could well do so itself, and even enact a State Religion and make State Holidays. Certainly, according to the First Amendment, no prohibition of religious statues or monuments on or in schools, court house lawns, or council halls. These issues should be decided by locally 'elected' officials. So long as they act as good representatives of their electorate then they should remain in office, and any such ordinances they issue upon this, stand a First Amendment Constitutional challenge.
Within only the bounds of the First Amendment, the People, not the federal government get to decide what, if any religious monuments or ceremonies take place on publicly owned land or buildings. If that means school prayer, religious monuments, of ANY nature anyone chooses. The right to the "free exercise thereof" is an absolute right, meaning it is explicitly stated, as belonging to the individual not to states.
UNTIL THE XIV AMENDMENT, that is...
Wherein you find that, "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."
Hereby the Constitution clearly limits the states' ability to infringe upon citizens with anything that would deprive them of freedoms and their protected rights.
While not found in the Bill of Rights, there ARE Constitutional protections for citizens against state sponsored religion.
So, while there is no separation of church and state claus to be found in the Bill of Rights, there are Constitutional protections that extend from the Fourteenth Amendment to those who don't wish to have state religion or religious iconography funded with their money.
"I don't care dead or alive... I don't know if we are going to get him today, tomorrow or a year from now, but we are going to get him!"
President G.W. Bush said that shortly after the 9-11 attacks. Years later he would say "Bin Laden isn't important." When faced with the opportunity to kill or capture bin Laden at Tora Bora, President Bush instead had intelligence and military planning resources transferred to begin planning the next war in Iraq. This refocus on Iraq and Saddam Hussein allowed Osama bin Laden to escape. So, President Bush failed to stop the attacks of 9-11, then failed to kill or capture America's #1 enemy. In fact, President Bush failed in every way you could fail in a War on Terror.
President Obama on the other hand, took the exact opposite course. Upon arrival into office, the President made the capture of Osama bin Laden the C.I.A.'s number one priority. These actions led to doing in 2 years what President Bush could not do in 8. Clearly, no one can now doubt the resolve in our President's stand on defense?
To which, I must now give due respect to one Rush Limbaugh, who said things of our President I would never have imagined possible. Unabashed praise and even thanks unto God, for him. Well done, sir. I hope this event and the corresponding actions of our President give our nation the strength and courage to move forward in a bold fresh manner. Let us now unite as Americans once again, all striving toward a single cause.
Let the days of strict partisanship be done, and have us usher in the real days of hope and change, leaving behind us the days of Conservative 'government is the problem' type of thinking. Once America sets it mind to do something, there is nothing that can stop us.
It would seem that the moment of unity is passing us by, and politics has taken over, as discussion of the 'bin Laden bump' fills the airways. Some have turned this event into President Obama's re-election guarantee.
Rather than embrace this event as a 'win' for America, some liberals have decried the event as an assassination and chastised those who have and are celebrating the action. Our leader made the decision not to bomb the compound that could have been harboring the most wanted man on the planet, and instead chose to send in "Seal Team 6" to end THE terrorist threat against America. Osama bin Laden is over, and for this all Americans should be thankful, and moreover appreciative to our President Barrack Obama and 'his' decision not to bomb from afar, but to use ground troops to insure there would be no escape for a man plotting daily to harm Americans.
Let there be no doubt, that President Obama is STRONG on defense.
"President Obama isn't doing enough to lower gas prices."
The truth of the matter is that gas prices aren't high enough for Americans to be willing to take any real steps to change them. Let's face it, if gas prices were a real problem, we would outlaw gasoline-powered racing. We'd heavily tax the most inefficient vehicles, or make them illegal. We would institute higher gas milage standards for new vehicles, or we would take serious steps to replace gasoline-powered cars entirely with electric ones.
NO ONE has mentioned doing anything like this. In fact, if the President were to take drastic steps like the ones outlined, he'd be attacked and accused of interfering with the free market.
Interestingly, a look at our free market reveals that there are factors at work herein, that are anything but free. Oil production is up, while actual gas usage is down. So, we have high supplies and low demand, yet prices are still climbing. Why?
The answer in a word is "speculators"- those who purchase gas not to consume, but to hold, in hopes that prices will continue to go up. Such speculation is fear driven, and ignores actual market place consumption. Unrest in the middle east isn't a new thing, and the current turmoil hasn't represented any serious interruption in crude oil supplies, and refineries are operating at around 80% capacity. So, there is a sincere disconnect between supplies, demand, and pump prices.
The really sad thing is that unless gas prices get much much higher, there will be no political will to take serious steps to fix this problem. The only real solution to high gas prices is much higher gas prices than the $4.25 per gallon we saw under President Bush. In order for America to take rising gas prices seriously, we are going to need to see $6 per gallon, or possibly more.
Until marketplace consumption and real demand take the place of speculative pricing, we will continue to see fuel prices completely disconnected from actual usage.
Admittedly, I am a tree hugging progressive, attempting to garden my way into a greener world, and encourage others to do so, as well. I have always tried to be connected to the land on which I lived, trying to grow whatever I can where ever I live. When there is good growing weather, predictable patterns, I can get my crop(s) in safely. In my youth, I was told that living in north Texas meant that we were right in the middle of "Tornado Alley", which continued up into Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska. Most of the tornados occurred in this area.
There was a tornado in Vermont last year. Tornados east of the Mississippi were once a rare thing, but not anymore. Just a few days ago tornados killed 45 people in North Carolina. The weather is becoming more unpredictable.
As tornados march east, the lack of rain and humidity have left western states like Texas in a tinder-box condition, resulting in over 1 million acres burned by wildfires. With over 125,000 acres burning at once, several reporters described Texas as burning from border to border.
While easterly tornados and western wildfires are not unheard of, both are occurring on a more regular basis and with greater intensities. Granted, these observations are anecdotal and based on a period of only 30 years, but when one addresses even broader historical data, the same inferences are drawn.
Our climate is changing, this is not in question. Whether or not this change is caused by our own hands, or is simply part of our planet's natural process, might be. Given that the global market has seen no indisputable proof that it is man-made, all broad sweeping efforts to alter made-man CO2 emissions standards were halted or outrightly discarded. So, if our world is changing again, and there is nothing we are doing to cause the change, nor anything we are willing to do to avert the change...then expect to see drought areas get wider, while some storms in other areas get more severe.
The Earth's climate is changing, and we are ushering it forward.
With this I agree with Republicans. Our debt needs serious attention, and the sooner we start making serious payments, the sooner American Stock, the U.S. Dollar, will go up.
We should raise a debt tax, the sole function of which would be, to pay down our debt. Rather than include this new tax in or as part of the general revenue, like we did with social security, ALL of the revenue collected is to be applied solely to the national debt. Instead of being 'tax & spend liberals', we can be 'tax & PAY DOWN the debt progressives'.
Rather than waiting for after the re-election, we should run on 'responsible tax rates', in regards to debt payment. We can win the middle if we demonstrate real responsible stewardship over an economy that sees both job growth, and the increase in the value of a dollar.
Cuts in spending to offset deficits should be met with increases in taxes to pay off long overdue debt. That Republicans managed to threaten a government shutdown, and get over $70 billion in spending cuts, while Democrats only managed to save Planned Parenthood and ZERO tax increases is simply mind blowing. This shutdown aversion was a missed learning opportunity, as far as I am concerned. People need to understand that taxes and services are directly proportionate.
Raising tax to pay down the debt will do two things, first it will show voters how truly detached Conservatives are from fiscally sound policy, but more importantly it will raise the value of the American Dollar, providing us with more spending power, further stimulating the economy.
Democrats need to start talking about the benefits behind raising taxes, and showing how we can raise taxes while at the same time stimulate economic growth.
Above all, Democrats and Progressive Liberals alike, need to make better arguments about raising taxes.
"...'time is up', no more short term funding bills to avert a government shutdown."
I for one, hope the GOP follows through with this threat. Moreover, I hope that Democrats will stand firm on not allowing cuts to essential services. In the end, I hope all this leads to a shutdown of the federal government.
Far too many Americans have or are taking our government for granted. Especially among Republican voters, and or those who hold the Tea Party in such high esteem. "We need less government!", they exclaim. Let them sit with only 'essential services' operating and see how that works out. Our infrastructure is crumbling beneath us, everything from roads and bridges to our power grids and our waste and water delivery systems.
So as America collapses and degrades before our eyes, we are engaged in now 3 wars in 3 different countries, and Republicans are toying with the idea of shutting down the federal government. I say "Let'em!"
We need a healthy dose of what our government does around us, and where your tax dollars are spent. As a nation, we have to be made aware that taxes equal services. Tax cuts have led to shortfalls, and given these cuts didn't 'stimulate' the economy as intended, there were even greater revenue shortfalls. Now, Conservatives want to cut services, to cover the deficit.
What Democrats need to do is allow Republicans to get what they are asking for, and then just sit back wait for the public backlash.
The problem is Americans haven't felt the sting of underfunding government, because we've been offered tax cuts, while we ran deficits. We simply haven't felt the years of our underfunding government.
Well, we need to. Shut it down, we have a lesson to learn.
Unless you put nuclear plants near earthquake prone areas that are also susceptible to tsunamis. Additionally, there is the having to deal with the waste produced by the nuclear fusion process. Spent energy rods tend to need a place far away from humans for about a quarter of a million years so, there's that. Worst case scenario in a nuclear power plant is the cooling systems fail, the plant melts down making the area within a 20 mile radius inhabitable, while releasing tons of radioactive material into the atmosphere, and killing tens of thousands with cancer.
Solar energy on the other hand does not require the same production footprint. While there are waste products created in the construction of solar panels, and fossil fuels consumed to create them, once completed, solar energy produces no emissions. The worst case scenario is a newer more efficient one is developed, and you have to toss the old one in a land fill.
The difference between the two is efficiency. A small nuclear power plant can power over 25,000 homes. To produce that amount of energy you'd need around a million solar panels, or around 30 to 40 per house. The real difference is that nuclear power plants work all day and all night, while solar power only works its best during clear sunny days.
So, while solar panels have never killed anyone, they aren't washing the market clean of other energy sources. Even though solar energy is ambient, meaning that it is just sitting out there, most of it is still just sitting there waiting to be collected and employed. One doesn't even need solar cells to collect it, a series of mirrors all aimed at the boiling pot of a steam engine will produce usable clean energy.
Rather than fully employ a rather benign energy source that is all around us, it is cheaper to attempt to control a nuclear reaction. $9,000 per kwh for solar and we kill no one vs. $1,500 per kwh for nuclear, and we could possibly destroy 100 sq miles for decades and kill tens of thousands of people... which seems more reasonable?
We need energy, because we are a consumption nation. So let's invest in energy sources that won't kill us, and we don't have to kill anyone for... Rather than create a process we can't 'always' control, that makes waste that remains toxic for millennia, why not just fully employ what is all around us and is perfectly safe?
At present, this is true. The reason is that Conservative Republicans are actively undermining government initiatives, then crowing about how inefficient it is.
Allow me to present an example. A Democrat proposes the building of a highway, and estimates cost to be $1 million. It is proposed that taxes should be 'raised' to increase revenue, by 2%, to fund the project. Republicans claim that this increase will slow economic growth, so they only agree to a 1% increase, resulting is less revenue in which to fund the project. The result is the highway is paved only partially, then Conservatives say, "Look how inefficient government is, they can't even properly pave a road!"
I'd like to argue that we should go the other way. What if government could provide better or ideal services, and still save taxpayers money, all by raising taxes?
Skeptical? Allow me to explain...
Government should take over the entire insurance sector. Instead of paying bloated premiums to for-profit private insurance agencies that are legally allowed to discriminate, you pay 'part' of that money as higher taxes. Without the need to turn a profit, advertise, or pay high salaried executives and board members, government could offer you more delivered claims for lower prices.
Insurance companies don't produce anything. They simply collect, hold, and distribute money, while keeping some for itself. That sounds like exactly what government was designed to do. Insurance companies are legally allowed to discriminate to set premiums, then legally allowed to deny claims, and lobby for broader ability to do so. Why?
Why not allow government non-profit agencies to do a better job, while costing less?
Raising taxes could save money while offering better services. The savings of which, would further stimulate economy growth, all by offering full coverage government.
"Gaddafi is a brutal killer and Libya – not to mention the world – would be better off if he were out of power."
Sarah Palin is right, we should be helping and publicly supporting those in Libya who are fighting to oust Gaggafi. Although, I don't think that the institution of a no-fly zone is enough. Were I President, I'd be sending in covert operatives to help organize and arm rebels actively fighting Gaddafi forces.
The other thing we should be doing as a freedom-loving democratic nation is calling for the U.N., N.A.T.O., and any other international organization to take direct action against Gaddafi, and assist those struggling against him.
America's problem is that we don't really support freedom and democracy, beyond our borders, in a consistent reliable manner. In fact, our government has allies and long standing relationships with unelected dictators, repressive monarchies, and not so democratic leaders. We tolerate these nations' actions because we get something, usually oil, from such outlets. Saudi Arabia one of our biggest crude contributers is not a democracy, or republic of any kind. Yet, this royal family has been the honored guest of more than one U.S. President, and our ally.
We support what is in our economic interest to support, if that's a democracy, great. If it's a repressive monarchy, oh well...
We live in a complicated world, but what shouldn't be complicated is saving people from being murdered by a violent dictator, bent on staying in power by killing civilians until everyone gets back into line. One of the reasons we went into Iraq was to stop Saddam Hussein from his oppression of Iraqis, and his people weren't even actively complaining or actively protesting.
All that said, even if our economic needs keep us from taking principled public stands, we should be taking covert steps to organize, arm, and train democratic rebellions.
Allowing Gaddafi to maintain control over Libya is entirely unacceptable.
"Public workers shouldn't be allowed to Unionize."
That's right, Republicans do not believe that Teachers, Firemen, and the Police, or any other public sector workers deserve the right to join Unions, and collectively bargain for wages and benefits. The people who educate our youth, protect and serve you and your home, DON'T deserve to decide among themselves how much money they make? How did that argument win the day?
The recent economic downturn has indeed seen a drop in tax revenues collected, and it would be and is wise for Unions to realize that we all need to sacrifice, which they have. Wisconsin's and other Unions have accepted cuts in pay, reduced pension benefits, and agreed to pay in more for their health benefits. They fully accepted the reductions, cuts, and increases in benefits dues. This wasn't enough for Conservatives, however. Because they managed to elect some overwhelming majorities, Republicans see this as an opportunity to strip Unions of all their collective bargaining power.
Were I a Union boss, I'd be preparing everyone for a nation-wide walk out. Republicans and by extension those who voted them into office, need to appreciate the work Teachers, Firemen, Police, and other public sector workers do for the United States and Americans. What voters need is a huge dose of the reality of underfunding public works.
Taxpayers seem completely removed from the rate of taxes they pay, and level of services they receive. This is because we have been operating on deficits for over a decade. Our current tax rate isn't paying the bills. It is not enough to pay for our military efforts, or even the general maintenance on our degraded infrastructure, and those charged with molding our future and protecting our livelihood are willing to take a pay cut...but this still isn't enough for Conservative Republicans.
I say we let Republicans try to enact ALL their policies. Let them drive Unions away from the bargaining table, and allow things to really fall apart. People need to understand what happens when you don't fully fund a working government that can respond to all of its citizens' needs.
People deserve to know what collective bargaining really means.
It took a while, but the Internet is connecting the world in ways its creators could only have dreamt of. People living literally under brutal dictatorships are using "Facebook" and other social networking sites, to foment and incite outright Revolution. This digital age is freeing people, and the world may never again be the same.
Egypt is now under military control, but only because the people of Egypt have successfully ousted Mubarak. Libya's Maummar Gaddafi is now facing the same fate. The people Libya, despite being shot at with military jets, stand united to demand free democratic elections. There is now an online petition to begin revolts in Saudi Arabia, but I predict that, that will be a tougher freedom-nut to crack.
Questions have arisen from Conservative talking heads, as to why President Obama isn't speaking up or doing more to support these endeavors. While I'd like to see the President be more outspoken in these regards, I think it is equally strong, to sit back and watch freedom and revolution create democratic nations without expanding U.S. military forces. President G.W. Bush spent billions overthrowing Saddam Hussein, when all we needed to do was send them a bunch of laptops and mobile internet devices.
Given any opportunity to speak out, be heard, and unite with others yearning for freedom, people will do it. You don't need guns, knives, bomb, or bullets. The pen, or in this case the keyboard, is mightier than the sword, I mean jet fighters...
The Internet is finally now beginning to help people achieve real freedom. So, let's invest in global WiFi, rather than another aircraft carrier. Wars cost more than websites.
"We spend too much money on education administration."
On the contrary, we rank 37th in the world, in percentage of GDP spent on education. The result is that our students are well behind the rest of the world in both performance and ability. In fact, depending on which website you look at, there are some 15-30 countries that score better than the U.S. American students are failing to compete with students from other countries that spend almost twice the amount that we do on education. Surprise!
The State of Texas is facing a $15 billion revenue shortfall, due in part from a drop in sales tax revenue and federal mandates on Medicaid spending. Because Texas operates on a balanced budget amendment, the revenue shortfall demands either an increase in the tax rate or budget cuts. Given Texas rates 49th in verbal SAT scores and 43rd in math, nationally speaking, guess which way Texas Conservatives went? That's right, regardless of our already winning the race to the bottom, Texas Republicans want to spend even less, wholly ignoring the fact that Texas ranks 6th in student population growth.
Texas high schools see 68% of their students graduate, ranking it 36th among other states. The Texas school system is literally failing students and taxpayers, is at the bottom of the heap nation-wide, and is one of the driving forces pushing America well behind the rest of the world. Rather than raise taxes to maintain this already subpar standing, Texas legislators are cutting educational spending by $5 billion.
Texas leads the nation and the world in a race to the bottom of high school student performances.
All this because Conservative Republicans fail to understand that there is a direct correlation between how much money a nation spends and the quality of services it provides. Tax cuts hurt student performance, period.
"Build the damn fence, (between the U.S. and Mexico)."
'Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!' That is what I remember President Reagan saying about walls between people. Yet, today's republicans forget that notion, and exclaim that we must begin to control our borders. How can you control the whole of your borders, in a country this size? Every great empire wasted resources, and utterly collapsed trying to wall itself off from outsiders and invaders. China's Great Wall and Rome's Hadrian's Wall immediately leap to mind.
America is the world's greatest marketplace. If you have products and or services to offer, the U.S. is the best place to try to sell them. Instead of building walls around us, we should be building high speed railways in. We should make the process of citizenship instantaneous, and not the 3-5 year, thousands of dollars, arduous task it is now. America benefits by having hard working entrepreneurs come here and invest themselves in our economy. So, why isn't someone calling conservatives for this trespass upon the seminal moment of Reagan's Presidency? Why do conservatives forget everything about President Reagan besides the letter that appeared by his name?
One could even go further, and point out the fact that President Reagan realized that budget shortfalls are cured by tax increases, not cuts. He realized that cutting government spending meant that some Americans would bleed as a result. So, the only way to balance the budget, without harming Americas, is to raise taxes, something President Reagan did as the situation required.
I was in junior high, when President Reagan held office, and was only faintly aware of politics in general. What I remember were the moments he was a part of, like his remarks about the Challenger disaster, and when he spoke directly to Soviet Union, demanding the re-unification of Germany. What I learned later in high school and college was that he was a middle of the road conservative, who had great support from many independent liberals, because he could and did compromise.
Today's conservative republicans are nothing like President Reagan, and they are currently working in direct opposition to his efforts, yet they herald the man's name to no end.
President Reagan would have very little in common with the republican agenda, and would not support nor receive support from the Tea Party.
The Egyptian people took to the streets in peaceful demonstrations, that turned violent, when government riot police were sent in to disperse a crowd, who would not be dispersed...
Egypt is a democracy, who has elected the same President for 30 years. Days ago a quarter of a million people marched on the capitol, calling for his resignation.
People on both sides have died, and with the prisons mysteriously opened, there is chaos in the streets...
Putting Egypt back together again, will take more than all the King's horses and men, it is going to take a peaceful patient citizenry, willing to undergo great political hardships. The country will have to try to unite with sparse cell service, a single functioning internet service provider, and no readily available sources of a free media. This is going to be a sight to behold.
My hope is that America will take this opportunity to review its support for other less than fully Democratic nations, that we presently give aid and support to. We support Saudi Arabia's royal family, who owes its lifestyle to oil reserves they sell to the U.S., on the cheap. While the people of Saudi Arabia don't live quite so lavishly as their leaders who defecate upon golden toilets. Maybe we will begin leaning on other political allies who oppress their people, rather than supporting less than fully democratic governments.
Absolutely nothing can look quite so bad as stamped "Made in the U.S.A." tear gas canisters, being employed as a tool to help dictators disperse peaceful protesters. Simply put we should be exporting tools to help spread freedom, rather than passing out crowd disbursement paraphernalia.
The Egyptian people decided they would no longer be ruled by someone who had won 30 years worth of elections. They did not believe the elections were free, fair, or representative of their goals for government. These protests have led Hosni Mubarak first dismissing the whole government, then him saying that he will not seek re-election, in September. This is not enough for protesters, who want him to step down.
Two million people marched on Cairo, and now pro-Mubarak thugs, armed with whips riding horseback are attempting disperse the crowds, as violence once again grips the streets.
Freedom, friends, is not free. It is procured only by the blood of patriots.
"President Obama only talked about more spending in the State of the Union."
This is what Republicans heard and hear, when Democrats call for government to fulfill its purpose, by collecting taxes and providing services. "This is just more tax and spend liberalism." Republicans simply don't get that taxes = services.
Our infrastructure is crumbling beneath our economy. Roads and bridges in disrepair cost drivers $290 billion every year to person and property. The American Association of Engineers gave our transportation system a "D", and it is costing us daily. We need here and now to spend money, to repair and upgrade our roads and railways, and in doing so we will save both time and money. With more roads in better condition, we will all spend much less time in traffic and less money on fuel, and more time actually working.
The President called this our "Sputnick moment", an opportunity to build the future that times now demand. This is the time for us to show our kids that science fairs are as important as sports championships. This is our time to out build, out teach, and out innovate the rest of the world. The time is now for us to create and embrace those better ways, to lead us all into better days. We have to invest in a world better than this one.
To pay for this, instead of proposing tax increases, the President asked that we eliminate tax loopholes, that allow far too many to avoid paying their fair share. He said that by eliminating these loopholes, we will be able to cut corporate taxes, and yet Conservative Talk World flatly called the State of the Union- "a call for more spending."
They missed, or outrightly ignored his call to re-organize and make government more efficient, by eliminating bureaucracy and waste. The President said, "Let's do away with the programs we can honestly do without." Before that he started with, "We have to confront the fact that our government spends more than it takes in." He even froze federal salaries and offered multiple cuts, even to his beloved community outreach programs, but Republicans heard none of it.
What I heard, is that we are wasting money, and that we can and must do better..."We can't win the future with a government of the past."
Mr. President, I agree. We will not see better days without employing better ways.
The problem is that Republicans don't understand this, and have no faith in government to fulfill its purpose.
"Rhetoric about guns, second amendment remedies, encroaching tyranny, and Obama Care had nothing to do with the Tuscan shooting."
Given that our entire political environment has been awash with 'inflamed rhetoric' since President Obama took office, I would argue that it had 'something' to do with shooting at a Democratic Congresswoman. This is true, because commercials sell products. If you hear how great hamburgers are, and see people smiling while eating them 24/7, there is an increased likelihood that you are going to hit a burger joint on the way home from work. Microsoft didn't spend $12 billion dollars last year because commercial programming doesn't work.
Now, while there are no commentators outwardly saying point blank, "We should shoot people we don't agree with, politically." Sharon Angle said, "You know, our Founding Fathers, they put that Second Amendment in there for a good reason and that was for the people to protect themselves against a tyrannical government. And in fact Thomas Jefferson said it's good for a country to have a revolution every 20 years." Besides butchering Thomas Jefferson's words, she thinks you can keep the tyranny of a Democratic Republic at bay with personal arms. Rather than encourage people to become more democratically active, she thinks you'd be better off arming yourself against your government. Thankfully, she lost her bid for the senate.
The point here is that we are all shaped, at least somewhat, by our environment and everything in it. If you hear 50 times a day, from sources you trust, that President Obama is fundamentally changing your country, and leading the U.S. into communism or socialism, you'll begin to believe it. We hear Sarah Palin every time she opens her mouth say, "Don't retreat, reload." Talking heads like Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, Sean Hannity, and Glenn Beck all literally make a living using inflamed rhetoric to drive their ratings higher. The more outlandish or overtop the more attention they garner, driving their behavior to even worse extremes.
Glenn Beck has said on Fox News, that he believes President Obama has a deep seated hatred for white people, and if you'll tune into his show, it will only be a matter before you hear how America is under direct attack from the left. This is to say nothing about Ann Coulter, who's antics make me weep for America.
The most interesting thing about this latest shooting tragedy, is that the Congresswoman said she felt targeted by Sarah Palin's placing crosshairs over her district. Then Congresswoman Giffords gets shot, and Sarah Palin acts like SHE is the victim in all this. Only Sarah Palin could wrap herself in gun metaphors and hunting euphemisms, while placing a sniper scope over someone's congressional district WHO GETS SHOT, and then play the unwitting victim. She has since taken the crosshairs map down, but has admitted no wrong doing, and offered no apology to Congresswoman Giffords for the targeting she felt or the actual shooting that occurred.
The real victim in this whole thing is civility. The Republicans see and have spoken about Democrats as their literal enemy, and an actual attacker of America, Freedom, and Liberty. When you tell your constituents that the other party is the enemy that is currently attacking your America, they diminish their ability to compromise with them, without looking like a turncoat to voters.
When Republicans or Democrats refer to the other side as the enemy, America loses.
So, to you people who've just witness thousands of birds fall from the sky, hundreds of thousand of fish wash up on your river bank, or hundreds of tons of fish or crabs wash ashore...ignore it. This stuff happens all the time, we are just so connected and aware thanks to the Internet, that all this seems abnormal. While that statement seems palatable, it leaves a bad taste in my mouth upon consumption.
I have never heard of 150 tons of fish washing ashore in my lifetime. Nor have I heard of an event where 5,000 birds fall dead out of the sky, due to fireworks, but that is what the experts claim caused the initial mass bird death. So far this year almost 1,000 buzzards have died, in Florida. Do you have any idea what it takes to kill a turkey vulture? They eat every manner of road kill imaginable, for a living. These it would seem took a wrong turn over water.
40,000 crabs washed ashore in Britain, possibly from colder than expected water. 2 million fish washed ashore in the Chesapeake Bay. 4,300 ducks died in Minnesota. 2,000 bats died in Texas. So far there have been around 30 such mass death events, click here for the Google map, showing each event and its location. There's a good message board discussion here.
I think it possible that our planet's magnetic field is beginning to weaken, as all of these animals use the Earth's magnetic field to navigate. Fluctuations in this field lead to disorientation, fish running aground, birds falling to the ground, or dolphins beaching themselves. Sadly, I fear that more of these events are coming, followed by food shortage related deaths as these loses represent very large holes in the food chain, now. Whatever feeds off of these things is or will be missing several meals soon.
This is to say nothing about the recent disappearance of honey bees, nature's little pollinators, whom our agricultural livelihood depends upon. Some states have seen as much as 90% bee loss.
Less food being produced by plants, and fewer critters to munch on, means lean times are right around the corner for everyone.
"We need to create incentive for the private sector to invest in the economy."
I am not sure we can do such a thing, nothing we have tried has worked yet. What we can do is chart a path to a new future, one less dependent upon fossil fuels, with a focus on sustainability as its mainstay virtue. We can say that the status quo is simply unacceptable, and that we need to build a better system. This too will spur economic growth.
Our country's current rail system is operating on 100 year old technology. Most railways now are designed to handle traffic not to exceed 90 mph. Current high speed rail systems operate at rates more than double our fastest rail capabilities.
Imagine a rail system that could get you and your car across the country in a day. The railway itself is covered with solar panels and wind turbines, so that the entire system is fueled by renewable energy. Once built, it would offer inexpensive fast travel of both you and your vehicle to anywhere in the U.S.
I think this would spur all kinds of economic growth. We'd need to hire people to build the structure here, and if we used an American company, we could put our citizens to work building the railcars and tracks.
Let's build a high speed rail system, by and for the American economy, in a completely green manner.
The hitch is that you can't pay for this with tax cuts.