Let Me Get This Straight

Let me get this straight…

Obama is committing to stem the tide of illegal weapons crossing the boarder from the US to Mexico…yet does nothing to get a commitment from Mexico to stem the tide of illegal immigrants to the US?

Let me get this straight…

Obama promised that those making under $250K per year “will not see any of your taxes increase one single dime.”…yet steeply raised the tobacco tax (a regressive tax on the poor), is letting the 2001 tax cuts lapse (that’s a tax increase folks), and is proposing increasing the capital gains tax from 15% to 20% (ummm…people making under $250K per year invest too).

Let me get this staight…

Obama is closing Guantanamo Bay and releasing terrorists back on to the streets…in some cases in the US…while demonizing the dissenting voices of the peaceful Tax Day Tea Protests and in so many words calling them terrorists?

What the hell is wrong with this country? Things are so upside down. We’ve got to take our country back and restore the Constitution.

Congratulations to Barack Obama

barack_obama_portrait_20051Those who know me personally probably realize that I am deeply disappointed with yesterday’s presidential election result. Those who only know me by following this blog may not know where I stand. This is somewhat intentional–I don’t want this to be a heavily political blog. Let me make one thing clear: I didn’t like either candidate. I thought that they would both take us in the wrong direction–just that John McCain wouldn’t take us there quite as fast. Having said all that, I trust and respect the collective will of the American people. They have spoken loud and clear.

So congratulations to president-elect Barack Obama. Just 40 years after the end of segregation, we have our first African-American president. This really is a proud, landmark day for the country. It shows how far we have come in defeating racism. There will always be a few ignorant folks that hate just based on skin color, but we are now a very diverse and predominately tolerant people.

The challenges we face over the next decade are huge. We have deep, deep economic, budgetary, and security problems that threaten our very existence. While almost half of us wanted someone else to lead us through these dark times, today we must join ranks, put partisan politics aside, and work together on these issues.

I take Obama at his word that he wants to be my president too and that we will work on compromised solutions that we can all live with. These words are uttered after nearly every election. However, this time, we cannot afford to not follow through with it.

Please, Please, Please Vote!

This is said for almost every election, but this time I think it is actually true. I believe that this may be the most important election…perhaps in our country’s history. We are facing a huge perfect storm of challenges right now. We are in an economic crisis and I believe we are much closer to the beginning of it than the end. We also face numerous threats both abroad and I believe quietly organizing domestically.

The country has faced long odds many times and has always mustered the will and the right leadership to overcome the challenges. I still believe that the collective voice of the American people can, and will, select the right leadership at the national, state, and local levels to deal with the huge chaos I expect over the next decade.

So I don’t want to hear any excuses. Get informed and go vote. We need your input now more than ever before. Don’t let us down.

Let me address any excuses you might try to come up with:

I don’t have time: Give me a break, we don’t have time for you not to learn about the issues and candidates. Even at this late hour, there is time. Make time darn it.

I don’t understand the candidates and/or issues: Oh come on. There’s a wealth of resources on the Internet to help you understand where the candidates at all levels stand on issues that are important to you. It’s likely that your local newspaper and television stations’ websites have links to resources.

My candidate has already won/lost: Don’t let the polls sway you to not vote. When people start believing that it’s a foregone conclusion and decide not to vote, that’s when things can start swinging wildly from what the polls show. If you don’t vote because you think your candidate has won, you may cost them the election. Conversely, if you vote even though it looks hopeless for you candidate, you may just swing it for them if the other side gets complacent. Again, we get the best folks in office if everyone informs themselves and votes.

My vote one little vote doesn’t count: I think that I just addressed this. Every single vote does count. You have no idea how close some of the races will be. You really could be the one to put it over the edge.

Vote!

Joe Biden: Gaffe Machine Extraordinaire

This is my fourth and final post in a series where I find a video making fun of a presidential or vice-presidential candidate. Today’s victim is the walking gaffe machine: Joe Biden

The Sarah Palin Story

Ok, I’ve skewered the presidential candidates in earlier humorous video posts. Now it’s the vice-presidential candidates turn. First up, Sarah Palin. Forgive the ad for the movie “W” at the beginning–I couldn’t find a version without it.

John McCain: Too Old to be President?

In a previous post, I took a humorous swipe at Barack Obama. Now it’s John McCain’s turn. Enjoy.

Obamanation

Some say that Barack Obama, as president, would take us to Soviet-style socialism. Having said that, here’s a parody of the former Soviet Union’s national anthem. I don’t care which side you are for. Shut up and enjoy a laugh. I have no doubt that I will find something to post to poke fun at McCain.

Drill Here. Drill Now. Pay Less.

I don’t think that anyone can dispute that we are in a full-fledged energy crisis. Skyrocketing oil prices are endangering our economic security and standard of living. We have seen the immediate impact at the pump, but sharply higher prices on the way with every good and service in our economy since everything is dependant upon oil in some way.

Do we need to conserve? Yes. Do we need more wind solutions? Absolutely. Do we need to look at solar energy? Of course. How about hybrid, electric, and hydrogen fuel cell cars? Duh.

We must do everything in our power to attack this energy crisis. That includes drilling for the oil we are currently sitting on in this country. We are the only country in the world prohibiting itself from further development of its own natural resources. Drilling can be done without major environmental impacts and must be done to protect our national security.

American Solutions is a non-partisan organization trying to rise above partisan politics to provide real solutions to our most significant problems. They are currently runing a petition drive demanding that our politicians remove the restrictions on domestic oil production for the sake of our economy and national security. I urge you to check them out and sign the petition if you are so inclined.

The Real Story Behind High Oil Prices

I’m getting tired of the knuckleheads on Capitol Hill wasting time parading oil executives into hearing rooms to pummel them over profits every week rather than actually solving the problem. Isn’t this still America? Aren’t we still a capitalist nation? A quick lesson on the purpose of a business: to make money. Yes, it’s that simple. The purpose is no greater or less than that. We should be cheering their profits.

Let’s say I were to grant you that a corporation could make “too much” money (I won’t, but let’s say I did). The oil industry has a profit margin well below the average of all industries. The reason for the huge profits in absolute numbers is simply the fact that it is the largest industry in the world. It would be like Joe’s Bar & Grill complaining that Applebee’s makes too much in comparison.

Anyway, let’s move on. Let’s take a look at what the mental midgets in Washington have done to address the issue of high oil prices:

  • They have made ANWR off limits to drilling
  • They forbid drilling off of the Florida and California coasts
  • They will not allow leases for drilling in the Gulf while China and Venezuela have signed leases
  • They are shutting down oil fields in Colorado
  • They won’t allow shale oil field development in some Western states
  • The EPA just added polar bear to the protected list even though their numbers have increased substantially. Oh yeah, and the polar bears are in the same area where we need to drill for oil.
  • They passed legislation allowing us to sue OPEC–I’m sure that won’t piss them off and cause them to cut off our oil.
  • There have been rumblings of a windfall profits tax (even though I pointed out earlier that they are below average in their profit margins). Trust me, increasing a company’s expenses, will not lead to lower prices.
  • All 3 presidential candidates have promised to pass cap and trade legislation (to fight the phantom global warming problem). The EPA estimates that this will increase the price of gasoline by $1.50 per gallon–other say it could be more like $5.00 per gallon.
  • They have not allowed the construction of a new refinery in over 30 years.
  • They will not allow the deployment of coal-to-oil technology. We are the Saudi Arabia of coal and could be energy independent with this technology.
  • They won’t reduce the federal gas tax–not even for the summer.

And they’re asking the oil executives why prices are so high? Stop the political grandstanding and provide real solutions folks.

George Carlin Quotes

I really like George Carlin’s brand of humor. I don’t really care for his religion bashing, but if I look past that, he is very funny. Here are a couple of my favorite one-liners:

“If you can’t beat them, arrange to have them beaten.”

“The word bipartisan usually means some larger-than-usual deception is being carried out.”

What Will Our President Look Like After 4 Years?

It is well documented that President of the United States may very well be the most stressful job in the world. You need only look at the pictures before and after a presidency. A young, vibrant, energetic candidate becomes tired, ragged, and haggard after just 4 years.

So what will our next president look like after 4 years? The folks at PopPhoto have attempted to give us an idea. They altered a photo of each remaining candidate to show us how they may look in 4 years. The results are dramatic.

Clinton Campaign in Total Collapse

Okay, you’ve heard all the bizarre things Hillary has said over the last several days on TV and the debates. She is in total desperation mode now that she is starting to see the writing on the wall with her campaign. What you may not have seen is a couple of absolutely hideous videos.

The first one is a way too happy band that performs a song that sounds strangely like the Jackson 5’s ABC song. We never really see an audience, but there is massive applause and cheering at the end. Personally, I think they recorded the crowd reaction at an Obama rally and dubbed it into this video.

Next up is a song Sophie B. Hawkins did for the Clinton campaign. She adapted her song “Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover”. In this song, it’s “Damn We Wish You Were Pres-i-dent.” Horrible.

Here’s Who You Should Vote For

Who should I vote for?

I’ve seen a lot of quizzes out there that are supposed to help you decide who to vote for, but most of them seem pretty seem pretty lame. However, I’ve found one that may be a step above the rest. No tool like this is perfect, but it may be a useful educational tool. It’s called Glassbooth. You start off by weighting 14 issues. You have 20 points in which to allocate among the issues. If you are a single-issue person, you can allocate all 20 point to one issue. Otherwise, spread around the points as you see fit.

When you are happy with your point allocations, you move on to the questions. The questions are chosen based on the issues that you allocated points to. Your answer is on a 5-point scale from Strongly Oppose to Strongly Support. Answer those question and you are given the top 3 candidates that match you the closest by percent.

From there, you can drill into each issue and find out why they agree or disagree with you. They support their assertions with speech quotes and actual votes on bills, so you can understand why they think you match up or don’t with a particular candidate.

You are not limited to evaluating the top 3. They give you the ability to look at how you match up with any of the current candidates and many of those that have dropped out.

In case you care about my quiz (I know you don’t), first here’s how I allocated my 20 points among the issues:

  • Medical Marijuana and Drug Policy: 0
  • Civil Liberties and Domestic Security: 3
  • Crime and Punishment: 0
  • Iraq and Foreign Policy: 3
  • Trade and Economics: 2
  • Environment and Energy: 2
  • Gun Control: 0
  • Immigration: 3
  • Health Care: 0
  • Social Security: 4
  • Taxes and Budget: 3
  • Education: 0
  • Gay Rights: 0
  • Abortion and Birth Control: 0

Here are the top three candidates it spit out based on my answers to the subsequent questions:

  • Mike Huckabee: 71%
  • Ron Paul: 65%
  • John McCain: 65%

I checked out the other two remaining candidates to see how I match up with them:

  • Hillary Clinton: 44%
  • Barack Obama: 38%

I’d be interested in seeing what John and anyone else interested comes up with on this quiz.

Cheers to Obama

Barack Obama is the son of a white American mother and a black Kenyan father. The Kenyan people are very proud of their “favorite son” and the success he is finding in American politics. They have actually taken to gathering in bars on primary nights to watch CNN while guzzling beer. Their favorite beer is called Senator, but they have unofficially renamed it Obama. The day after the latest primary, mountains of kegs could be seen outside of the local watering holes.

They love this beer because it is strong and cheap. Should Obama win, I think it would be entirely appropriate for us to drink Obama beer. We’ll need the strength of it to quickly drown our sorrows; and the cheapness since we’ll only be left with “change” in our pockets after taxes go through the roof.

I Thought You Wanted Change

Today Mitt Romney announced that he was suspending his campaign, paving the way for John McCain to win the Republican nomination. On Super Tuesday the Democratic race was pretty evenly split, but Hillary Clinton did finally pull into the lead on delegates. The race is far from over on the Democratic side, but Clinton now has more than 50% of the delegates needed for the nomination.

I thought everyone wanted change. If we end up with McCain and Clinton, that’s about as far from change as we can possibly get. They won’t even have to hire a moving company–they can just carry their boxes from their Senate offices over to the White House.

1968 Retrospect: Republican Primary

On November 18, Romney announced that he had “decided to fight for and win the Republican nomination and election to the Presidency of the United States.” Early polling indicated he was the leader among moderate Republicans. However, Romney withdrew from the race on February 28 after his internal polling showed that he was certain to lose.

So why am I telling you about Mitt Romney when I’m supposed to be talking about 1968? Well, I’m not. The story above is about Mitt’s father George and his short-lived run for the White House in 1967-68.

After Richard Nixon won the presidency, George Romney was appointed to Nixon’s cabinet as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. After the end of the Nixon administration, he largely fell out of the public eye to concentrate on public service and as well as work with his church.

Obama Takes Idaho By Storm

Idaho is the most conservative state in the country. In fact, I think we may have a law on the books explicitly banning liberalism. However, it appears the some have been able to sneak across the border.  🙂

Barack Obama held a rally in Boise today to an overflow crowd at Taco Bell Arena. Organizers originally setup the venue for 8,800 people–using a black curtain to block off part of the arena. However, they quickly had to reconfigure the arena to open it up completely. When the dust settled, more than 14,000 people were in seats and standing–a record crowd in the 25 years the arena has been in use. 1,000 people even braved the cold temperatures to stand outside and listen on speakers.

Say what you will about his politics, but this man is inspiring and exciting people in a way not seen since Ronald Reagan in 1980 and John Kennedy in 1960. He doesn’t have a prayer of winning Idaho in the general election, but I think we may see a surprising number of cross-over votes.

http://www.ktvb.com/news/localnews/stories/ktvbn-feb0208-taco_bell.81b065ff.html

Change, Change, Change: Shut Up Already!

Change. That seems to be what all of the candidates are talking about. Of course, they won’t tell us what that change is. We just need change for change’s sake, right? Regardless of who gets elected, I’m worried that change (in my pocket) is all that I’ll be left with.

The video below put together by Hugh Atkin is fantastic. The first 45 seconds or so are a bit tedious, but then he takes sound bytes from speeches to sing David Bowie’s song Changes.

I Need Some Stimulation, Please

So it looks like we’re going to get an “economic stimulus package” jammed down our throats whether we like it or not. It’s all about politics. If either party had refused to go along, the other party would have used it against them in the upcoming elections. So in the end, they all agree to squander our future to win the next election. The problem is, stimulus packages don’t work. Our economy is too big for a $300-$600 check per person to have any real impact. Plus, think about it: we import most of our stuff, so a good chunk of the money will be going overseas.

However, the real problem is that we are just adding to an already crushing federal debt (see my previous post Looming Federal Fiscal Crisis: A Wake-up Call). It is simply immoral. We are going to go out and buy another iPod, TV, iPhone, or take a mini-vacation and put it on the national credit card that our kids and grand-kids are will have to pay. Proleptic Life has a great post on this angle of the story–check it out.

Looming Federal Fiscal Crisis: A Wake-up Call

Here at DITH, the topics are normally pretty light. However, today I have come across some information that you just aren’t hearing anywhere else and you need to. It quite literally involves the financial survival of our nation. Please realize that I don’t make such a statement lightly. I know this is going to be pretty dry information and not something any of us wants to think about. But please bear with me through this. This is an important topic.

Setting the Stage

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) is a federal office charged with keeping the government’s financial books and keeping government accountable to the people. David Walker is the Comptroller General of the United States–basically the head accountant for the federal government. This is a non-partisan, professional position. He was appointed by President Clinton and was unanimously confirmed by the Senate. I say all of this so that we can establish that this is not a politician and that he has nothing to personally gain or lose by the information he is sharing.

Mr. Walker has been on a Fiscal Wake-up Tour since 2005, and will continue through the elections. He is attempting to educate the public on the dire financial straits the US government is in. His hope is that if we are aware of the situation, that we’ll demand action from our elected officials. Let’s look at a some of the information he is sharing.

Cooking the Books

You probably heard that the federal deficit decreased from $412 billion in 2004 to $318 billion in 2005. That is technically true using the cash accounting method. However, using the accrual method (the method the federal government requires businesses to use), the actual 2004 deficit was $616 billion and it increased to $760 billion in 2005. You see, the federal government keeps two sets of books: one that the politicians share with us and another that they are required to use when accepted accounting methods are needed (dealing with bond markets, etc.)

Okay, how about the debt? You’ve probably heard that it’s just over $9 trillion dollars right? Again, that’s technically correct. That is our current outstanding debt. Once again, corporate America could not get away with this kind of accounting. What the politicians are not telling you as that we have about $46 trillion in unfunded commitments. That is, we have a $46 trillion shortfall in our upcoming commitments to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid (that is up from $20 trillion in 2000). Add our unfunded commitments and our debt, and our actual liability is about $53 trillion. That’s a big number. Let’s put it in perspective: If we divided it up, that would be $411,000 per US household.

The Grim Future

That’s all very alarming and disturbing, but it is an important setup for a look at the future. According to GAO projections, by 2015 federal spending on just Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and Interest will consume nearly all of the revenue coming in. And that’s assuming that no new programs are added in the interim.

We are on a path that is simply unsustainable. We have heard for many years that the entitlement programs are growing. Our politicians promise reform, but then fail to do so. We are at the end of our rope. Mr. Walker thinks we have 5 to 10 years at most before it all comes collapsing down.

The Solution

Well, it’s not going to be easy. It’s going to be painful for all of us. Those who think our economy will grow enough to solve the problem are kidding themselves; tax increases alone won’t solve it–this would require an immediate $11,000 per year increase per household; cutting programs alone won’t solve the problem, and the pain would be far too deep. In fact, it’s going to require a combination of all 3. The sooner we get started the better, because the price tag gets higher every day we wait.

So What Can You Do?

Mr. Walker has been a lone voice in the wilderness on this. He has been trying to get the word out, but the media has largely ignored it. Our politicians aren’t going to talk about it of their own accord, because bad news doesn’t get votes. We need to do everything in our power to get out the word and then force our elected officials to act quickly and decisively.

Here are some thoughts on what you can do:

Become Informed

  • Check out Mr. Walker’s 11-minute talk on this topic. I know it’s a lot of time to ask you to invest, but he lays it out very nicely and has graphics to help illustrate his points.
  • If you have the time and interest, his Fiscal Wake-up Tour page has some other presentations and information.

Tell Others

  • Make a similar post on your blog. If you don’t have the time to write new material, copy my post. This is too important for me to worry about plagiarism.
  • Talk to people
  • Write a letter to your newspaper

Take Action

  • Talk to every elected official you can and demand immediate action
  • Talk with those running for office to make sure they are on the correct side of this issue