Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Funny math...

Something doesn't add up. Oh, right, it's the idea that we can make up a budget deficit of over a trillion dollars by cutting spending. Our total budget is just shy of 4 trillion, so the idea of cutting essentially one fourth of that seems ludicrous. This is the federal government we're talking about. Sure, there are several places where cuts are not only needed, but probably necessary, but that still does not mean that we can possibly make up the deficit simply by cutting out one fourth of all government expenditures.
And the - excuse me, but *bullshit* - idea that Republicans want to cut government for the good of the economy is just that - bullshit. If Republicans truly cared about the economy, they wouldn't call for cuts in only Democrat-supported programs, while supporting the continued massive tax cuts for the top 1% of income-earners in this country, that got us into this mess in the first place. Not to mention the fact that the "Bush years", where Republicans controlled both the presidency and all of congress, weren't exactly years of fiscal conservatism or austerity in the federal government. Republicans want smaller government...whenever the government is controlled by Democrats.
So where does that leave us? That leaves us the with politically unpopular (though not as unpopular as politicans would lead us to believe) decision to raise taxes. And I guess "raise" taxes is not really the proper term. We should simply let the unpaid-for tax cuts that the Bush administration put into place expire.
Two arguments Republicans make about this don't many any sense to me. The first is that letting the tax cuts expire on the richest 1% would hurt the "job-creators", and therefore would be detrimental to our efforts at stimulating the economy and creating jobs. My issue with this, as discussed in a previous post, is that this has proven to be demonstrably false. The so-called job-creators have NOT been creating jobs since these tax cuts have gone into affect, and have in fact been continually whining in an effort to get the rate even lower. The second argument is that we as a society should not continue to "feed" the government more and more money over time, because we're just creating a bloated system that doesn't actually use our money wisely. The problem with this argument is that operating costs increase over time; therefore it stands to reason that it would cost more money to run the government than it did twenty years ago - or even ten years ago. But somehow the Republicans believe that we can go back to some magical government expenditure amount that we had at some magical time when everything worked out perfectly. The problem is that there was never a time, and there is no magic number. Our government costs what our government costs. Should we eliminate or modify programs that dont' work...certainly. Should we try to eliminate waste wherever we can...of course (we could start by getting rid of congressional pensions and lifetime healthcare benefits). But overall, any business person has to admit that over time, the cost of operation goes up - that's a simple fact of life.

Monday, November 21, 2011


I can't say I'm terribly surprised that the debt-reducation "super-committee" did not accomplish their task. Congress, whether as a complete body, the house, the senate, committees, subcommittees, or super committees, have been completely unable to accomplish anything substantial in the past couple of years, especially with regard to the the debt and deficit, and tax policy.
Congressional Democrats and Republicans have diametrically opposed views with regard to debt-reduction and taxes, and therefore it is understandable that these discussions and coming to agreement would not be an easy thing to do. However, the job of congress, of our government in general, is to serve the people in this country. So it doesn't really matter whether they disagree or not, the very nature of politics, and their responsibility as politicians, is to compromise and come to agreements regardless of their differences.
Therefore, by the simple standard of serving the citizens of this nation, and compromising to pass legislation to take care of the debt and deficit, these men and women on this committee have failed us.
But let's not let us forget that the President (regardless of his actual ability to affect legislation, or not) has also been a failure. It's a failure of a different kind, but Republicans are correct in one critique of the president - his failure of leadership. There's been a lot of hand-wringing by Republicans and Democrats, blaming the other side for the failure to pass legislation, by saying the other side is not willing to give in on anything. This would indicate to me that both sides are acting childish and obstinate. But the failure of the president has been to push congress to act, regardless of whether Democrats or Republicans are getting exactly what they want. The president has wanted to remain above the fray, but the problem is that he's been characterized as uninterested (whether fair or unfair, if people are seeing him seemingly uninvolved, it looks bad as a leader). The president needs to push the congress, house, senate, subcommittee, super committee...whatever, to get their act together and pass legislation.
So now that the super committee has failed, we're left with these "trigger" cuts that will slash funds toward both military spending and heathcare and medicare. Falling back on "trigger" cuts is totally unacceptable; not to mention the fact that Democrats and Republicans are already trying to alter the trigger, indicating that cutting military spending is a no-go (Republicans), or cutting medicare and healthcare is a no-go (Democrats).
As a liberal, I have to admit that I see a large part of the problem being Republicans standing firm on the Grover Norquist strategy of never, under any circumstances, raising taxes. We're in a MAJOR debt/deficit crisis, which is not as dire as it's made out to be, but will become so if we fail to stimulate the economy. The problem with the current tax structure, is that it continues to give tax breaks to people who do not need it, and who are hoarding the money (NOT stimulating the economy). The real tax breaks that would help the economy, should go toward the middle class who will spend the money, get the economy moving again, and then those that have the means to start or build their businesses will do so, because it will be profitable, regardless of their tax rate.
A member of congress cannot be hard-lined; especially a member of a super committee whose sole purpose is to come to an agreement about debt and deficit reduction.

Shame on you, congress.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Anything new...? ...No? Okay...

Another Republican primary debate down, another night of uninteresting hackery. The more I pay attention to the Republican debates, the more I become convinced that President Obama is likely to run away with this election - even if the Republicans happen to do the smart thing and nominate Mitten at their candidate.
What strikes me most about the modern Republican party is that there is absolutely no vetting process for their primary process. Not to say that there necessarily should be, but at least in the past it seemed that the number of completely unelectable candidates was grossly outnumbered by the number of those that were (at least by experience). Admittedly, President Obama was not that credentialed when he entered the race, but the guy is a constitutional scholar and a brilliant campaigner and political mind (no Bill Clinton, but pretty good). The current crop of primary candidates are barely able to discern their own policy ideas within their own brain, let alone describe them clearly and succinctly in a nationally televised debate. Herman Cain is a wild card - I'll give him credit for that. The guy comes on the scene out of nowhere and sincerely excites a terribly unexcited Republican primary audience. His actual policy is a bit unclear (except, of course, for his 9-9-9 plan, which he promotes at every chance he gets), and his memory and ideas continue to shift in any direction he finds to be politically advantageous. Herman Cain has no possibility of winning the Republican nomination (even without the sexual harassment issue), but at least he's presenting himself as an outside candidate, and freely admits that he doesn't have much foreign policy knowledge. Several other candidates; Rick Santorum, Michelle Bachmann and Rick Perry are all running on essentially a platform of who is most conservative. None of them have the domestic or foreign policy credentials to be qualified as president, and their reliance upon one narrow topic show that they don't have the bonafides to be the leader of the strongest country in the world.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Punctuation is important. Right...

I'm not sure where people learned typing and grammar (I'm not saying my punctuation and/or grammar is perfect; but at least I know the rules, even if I don't follow them), but there seems to be a misconception that two spaces are needed after a period. I'm not sure if this got started in grade school or middle school when we as students were struggling to write our five hundred word essay, but somehow the trend has continued for many into adulthood and professional life.
It baffles me. The two space after the period rule was created long ago in the age of typewriters, so that one could actually tell that there was a space between the period and the proceeding word. However, in this "new" digital age of computers, I think we've moved past the point of necessity; similar to the electoral college for presidential elections (I had to throw at least something about politics in there). The problem is that the majority of people, even working people, even professional working people, have simply not received the memo that the time of the two spaces after the period is over. I no longer have to count my words when turning in an assignment at the office, and I'm not trying my damnest to make my work assignment five pages by adding two spaces after a period and not only double spacing, but using the largest font I can find to expand the text to another page. If anything, our modern society, especially in professional settings, is about brevity* and keeping this tight and concise.
Get with the now - just ditch one of the spaces after the period.

*I'll freely admit that I am incredibly long-winded and therefore it is hypocritical of my to espouse brevity as a modus operandi. However, though I don't always follow my own advice, I think it's important to give it anyway.

"Do I contradict myself? Very well then, I contradict myself; I am large, I contain multitudes." ~ Walt Whitman

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

It's real, baby...

I was just listening to some songs on Youtube the other day, and I happened to think of a song I had not heard in a while, so I checked it out once again. R. Kelly's "Real Talk" is a VERY funny song.
Basically, the song is Kelly on the phone with his lady, asking him about some supposed dallying he was doing at the club with some other girls. Kelly goes off at one point during the song, telling the girl that her skanky friends aren't to be trusted, and that his girl should have just asked him about what happened, instead of accusing him based upon the word of her friends.
Kelly gets super serious in this song, and basically is just screaming at his lady the whole time. Check it out.