Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Joe Biden's Intro

I hope you all took the time to watch and consider the 30 minute infomercial from Barack Obama. I was moved to act. Energized to realize that this country can come together, rise above the troubles we are in, and be better than ever before. We do face a difficult future, full of uncertainty for many of us, my family included. It ain't gonna be easy, never is, but yes America, we can.

Joe's intro wasn't part of the televised program. But it's good. I'm liking Joe Biden more every moment for his conviction, realizing his background is just what we need in a VP. He's a good guy to have at Obama's side.

Home run guys. Now get to work.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Redistibution of Wealth

It's the war-cry of the McCain/Palin campaign these days - that Barack Obama wants to "redistribute the wealth." When horribly guilty of something, the best propaganda is to attack your opponent as more guilty than yourself.

I think Barack has gotten the message across pretty well, but here it is:

1. Take back the George Bush tax cuts to the most wealthy.
2. Lower taxes for 90% of working Americans.
3. Those making between $225-$250K, no tax change.
4. Don't currently pay taxes? No more, no less, to you.

The worst part of the lie is that McCain wants to spend as much or more than Barack. McCain wants to give billions in tax breaks to profitable corporations and continue to borrow money from the House of Saud, the Chinese, and other nations to pay the current bills. He is willing to continue to bankroll the present on the backs of the future. Of course he doesn't mention that.

The folks McCain is talking to (and that advise him, apparently) have read Ayn Rand too much and thought about it too little. Kind of like me thinking a commune was a wonderful idea when 16, but realizing I had a world to live in, and work in, if I wanted to achieve some of what I desired.

In "Atlas Shrugged" (which is a great read but man can that woman write a long speech that says the same thing over and over) Ayn Rand writes of a utopia hidden in the Rocky Mountains, built entirely by the industrialists that ran away from a government unlike any ever seen, taking their profits with them. Nothing wrong with that, but it only works if you're a major mogul industrialist of great success.

These days the wealth is being redistributed to the corporations that planned poorly. They made huge profits for decades and paid them out to their cronies. They made bad loans and the American public is now bailing them out. Yes, there is plenty of blame on both sides of the aisle but the blatant ignoring of any responsibility on the part of our government officials is something I wish Obama would strike back with.

Current counts have it at somewhere around $1.5 trillion already promised or spent in bailouts. $700 billion before the bailout, the $700 billion bailout, and another $25B for our car companies. Word on the street is that the insurance companies will have their hands out next, followed by Visa (who just recently went public to get out while they could) and other credit card companies. The credit card companies currently carry about $1 trillion in debt for us foolish consumers.

The war in Iraq, by the way, is expected to cost some $3 trillion in total, including vet care over the next 50 years or so. I will support to my last breath the care of our returned vets. They aren't heroes, they aren't better than anyone, but they served and we should serve them in return.

Vote your hearts, people, not your pocketbooks or wallets. Learn to live below your means. Save money. Reduce your standard of living and save before your standard of living is reduced whether you want it to be or not.

At my earning peak I paid somewhere around $100K in taxes per year, probably more, don't really want to look it up. Yeah, sure would like to have that now, but also realize that I feel safe because we do have a strong (if tired) military, a good fire department, decent roads, schools, cops, the FDA, the EPA, HUD, and other worthy, community serving organizations that the people chose to place in charge of needed things. Without America I wouldn't have had the opportunity to make that money in the first place.

The question of the day is: Can we become a post-consumerism society and still be happy? What are our other options?

Why McCain Has No Specifics

I've looked at John McCain's web site in depth, I've watched the debates, the speeches, and too much political chatter from the chatterboxes, and I'm agreeing with Barack Obama, John McCain has few specific plans for the economy, healthcare, the wars, the future of America. Here's why:

John McCain is a good man.

He doesn't want to lie to America. Sure, he's willing to bend the truth a bit, glad to throw a line that sounds right but isn't even when he knows it, but his basic principals don't allow him to say he's going to do something that he won't.

His problem is that he doesn't know what he IS going to do except with the wars, and then he doesn't want to advertise his plan to the enemy. He just wants to win. So does everyone.

When it comes to the economy, McCain wants to create jobs, but has no plans on how to do it.

When it comes to taxes, John McCain wants to hold them where they are or decrease them, but he realizes that will incur massively more debt which he doesn't want to talk about, so he doesn't speak to the issue.

When it comes to healthcare, he wants change and somewhat defines what that change will be but doesn't go into the detail of who pays for what, how it affects employer coverage other than admittedly higher taxes, and speaks to the industry being self-regulated. OK, more specifics here than on most other issues, but not a good plan in my humble opinion.

John McCain is in a tough spot. He doesn't want to lie to us, but he can't really tell us the truth either. So he goes on and on against Barack Obama with stuff that doesn't matter.

How disappointing.

Friday, October 24, 2008

60 Senate Seats

That is what we Democrats need to have a government that works, sixty seats in the Senate. Here's why:

Bipartisanship is an idea that placates the losing party's voters, spoken of as "reaching across the aisle," as a bully reaches down to the beaten opponent in a schoolyard fight. Once Congress is in session, bipartisanship goes out the door as we have seen from Newt Gingrich to W's "uniter not a divider" statement prior to Dick Cheny's single finger salute to Dems.

The Dems, in the past, have been too kind. Things like "No Child Left Behind" being left behind at the budgeting phase is what happens in a Republican controlled Congress. Sounds nice on paper, the GOP saying "Look what good we did" when they did nothing but make it necessary to teach to a test without giving funding to teach well.

The stagnation of Congress in the past two years, when the Dems had a technical majority, can be seen as a result of the GOP having enough seats to control debate. Given a Democratic party president and fewer than controlling power in the Senate, the remaining GOP faithful will do whatever they can to preserve their "Real America." (I'll leave that concept for another writing)

We need vast change in our government and I'm one to want to trust Barack Obama and the Dems to do the right thing. I could be wrong but without giving them the opportunity, we won't know. I believe taxes won't go up on 95% of us. I believe we'll have to trim in some places, slash in others, and start afresh on energy both as a stimulus to the economy and the solution to energy dependence.

"Pay as you go" was the GOP mantra when I was a kid. They were fiscal conservatives but that is no longer the case. A willingness on the part of the GOP to spend big by borrowing bigger is now long standing. It's a cash grab by the richest, a greedy denial that our children's children will be stuck with the bill, regardless of what it might do to the American economy then.

These days it's the Dems that are fiscally conservative. Amazing, I know, and still denied by many that simply want lower taxes. To them I say "Look in the mirror and ask yourself if it's right to borrow that which you have no intention of paying back." It isn't.

If you are a voter in Colorado, North Carolina, Georgia, Minnesota, or Kentucky, your vote for the Senate is key to the turn of tide that we need. If you are concerned that this might give the Dems too much power I ask, "Do you want gridlock, or do you want progress?"

Give Barack the support he needs, please. In these economic and security minded times we need a united Congress that will be held responsible in two short years. Barack has got four years to prove his policies will work. Let's give him the team to get it done.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Colbert & Farris - An Even Match - Who Knew?

This was too good not to share. A Christian chancellor, or dean anyway, holding his own with Colbert. I love them both.

And yes, Michael Farris got it right. Harder to get into college than heaven. Trust me, I'm paying as my two daughters go.

and thankful.

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Trickle Down / Trickle Up

I'm a salesman in advertising. I know, not a very noble career, but here I am, might as well enjoy it. In the past two weeks I have had three clients, one an agency owner, one a freelance designer, and another a fairly high up account guy at a major agency, tell me that their clients, virtually all of them, have put everything on hold "until the economy becomes more clear" or some such. Sorry for the run-on sentence.

When corporations stop spending money the trickle down effect is immediate. I make less. I spend less. My artists make less and spend less. Their crews, ditto. The caterer (yeah, we eat well), the studio owner, the prop person and more, all are making less TODAY and spending less TODAY. Fewer purchases at Circuit City, a new car put on hold, dinner out not an option.

The "trickle down" theory works more slowly. Or shall I say not at all. But for sure, much more slowly. Think of it this way: the CEO makes an extra $18 million, puts it into a hedge fund and goes out to dinner, blowing $1200.00 on dinner for two with a decent bottle of wine and tips included. His chauffeur does OK (oops, price for the night just went up to $1800.00), the restaurateur does OK for a night, and then a credit default swap snafu wipes out half of the $18 mil. CEO decides to yank his money and put it into T-bills.

Trickle up works. Give the people money and dear Lord, they haven't learned the smarts of living within their limits yet. They spend it. The economy loves that. Flat screen TV's, dinner out, vacations, Christmas gifts, all that good stuff that we love, we buy.

Trickle down, not so much. More like trickled on.

Sorry, not much faith in this system at the moment.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Joe the Plumber

Well, his 15 minutes are about up, so it's time for me to write about it. I'll be brief!

Joe, the plumber that wants to buy the business he's worked at for about 12 years asked Barack Obama if he would pay more taxes under Obama's plan. Obama asked back how much Joe's business would make. The reply was "somewhere between $250,000.00 and $280,000.00."

An amount suspiciously on the cusp of the answer being yes. I'll say it again before I let it go: suspiciously.

What Barack didn't ask, nor has any of the media which no longer surprises me, was if that amount was the gross or net of his business. If gross, expenses would be pulled from that amount and his final profit is what would be taxed. The net would likely be below $250,000.00 and would therefore be taxed at a rate lower than currently imposed.

If the $250-280K was his net profit, I say let me buy a business like that. I'll mortgage the house for collateral. Small businesses don't kick off that kind of profit in the first year after being purchased; if they did the going rate would be about three times gross which, in this case, would be a purchase price of somewhere between $1.5 million and $3 million. I think this entire paragraph not to be the case of Joe's business decision.

If, however, a business could be purchased that kicked off $250K per year to the new owner I'd say yes, let them pay a little more to the public coffers, they achieved because America offers great opportunities and it's their responsibility to give a bit back. We are a selfish lot, us humans, and greed is rampant among us. The framers of our constitution learned this quickly as told by Eric Lane and Michael Oreskes in today's L.A. Times.

Friday, October 17, 2008

GOP Racism

The latest newsletter by a California Republican women's group depicts Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama surrounded by a watermelon, ribs and a bucket of fried chicken, pointing to a racist element in the GOP, ignorant of their ignorance. This isn't representative of all Republicans by any means, but coming from a racist GOP background I can with certainty tell you that there are many folks that feel this fine fodder.

The October newsletter by the Chaffey Community Republican Women, Federated says if Obama is elected his image will appear on food stamps -- instead of dollar bills like other presidents. The statement is followed by an illustration of "Obama Bucks" -- a phony $10 bill featuring Obama's face on a donkey's body, labeled "United States Food Stamps." Amazingly, it's the images of food that most of the media decry as racist, the fact that it's food stamps and therefore pointing to poverty being a black issue, not a white, or Korean, or Hispanic or ...

I'll say I know a good number of white folks that use food stamps to get by and they are glad to have them. If this economy drops much more, there will be many more in those rolls.

The GOP newsletter, which was sent to about 200 members and associates of the group by e-mail and regular mail last week, is drawing harsh criticism from members of the political group, elected leaders, party officials and others as racist.

The group's president, Diane Fedele, said she plans to send an apology letter to her members and to apologize at the club's meeting next week. "It was strictly an attempt to point out the outrageousness of his statement. I really don't want to go into it any further," Fedele said in a telephone interview Tuesday. "I absolutely apologize to anyone who was offended. That clearly wasn't my attempt."

I am no longer surprised by the ability of people to make such transparent apologies for such stupid acts. They rely on Murphy's law of retribution: "It's easier to get foregiveness than permission."

More importantly, following Sarah Palin's lead in "
But there are real changes going on in our climate. And I don't want to argue about the causes." we find the GOP faithful apparently unwilling to discuss things that they have vastly different opinions from the general public about the common good.

Not discussing things is how stuff doesn't get done. Politicians are PAID to discuss things, important issues that affect us all. What's next, "I don't want to discuss the economy because if we do that we lose."?

Oh, right, that has, in essence already been said.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Final Debate 2008

I'll admit I didn't find Barack's performance all I wanted it to be in this the final presidential debate of 2008. McCain had said he was going to come out swinging, a fight was called and I wanted a little blood.

But Barack Obama rose above that.

He spoke to the people, defended at times, but mostly let the attack slide off him like water off the back of a duck, facing the people of the nation and saying "Look, here's my plan ..." as he calmly recited the details related to his ideas of helping the middle-class, investing in energy to boost the economy as well as solve our addiction to oil, and creating a health care plan that will cost less, benefit more, and benefit better.

I really wish he'd lose that "Look," that starts most of his statements, but he made sense. He specified differences with conviction and logic for his point, he denied the lies as they were spoken. He just didn't satisfy my blood lust.

There were so many opportunities to cut McCain. Easy openings. Invited openings, feints and jabs from McCain a little giddy, but Obama took it in stride. I wished for him to strike, gosh I wanted that. But no. Not tonight.

Barack chose to rise above the fray. I'm not sure it was the right call but I hope it was. The pundits in the two hours since the debate all call it for Obama, even Fox which surprises the .... well it surprises me alot.

If you want Barack Obama to be the next president, with Joe Biden by his side, talk to people, people. This vote is to worry about. This vote is still a vote to win. Be a part of the transformation.

Comparing the Candidates 2008

For the 2004 campaign I put together a comparison of the two candidates on the issues which both offered opinions of via their websites. Almost oddly, those already seem like simpler times. We were at war, we were hunting terrorists abroad, and that was about it. Now we have banks failing, the middle class heading towards poverty, most experts predicting a recession at best, still at war, still fighting terrorists, nuclear Iran, resurging Russia, and unemployment in reality probably over 10%.

For me, and I know some of you may disagree, the #1 issue is the Supreme Court. The next president will likely replace three Supreme Court justices, defining the lay of the legal land for decades to come. This isn’t just about Roe v. Wade, although for some that is the defining decision, it is about big business favors regarding regulation, the environment, bankruptcy laws and other things that we don’t even know about yet.

Many Christians think that American law should match that of the Bible. I disagree. Should that come to pass we would be not far different from the Sunni, Shia and Kurds of Iraq. I’d fall into the “Sunni” camp, believing in God and accepting the responsibility of grace. More fundamentalist Christians would fall into the “Shia” camp, using the legal system to require all citizens to follow Christian law. The “Kurds” are the secularists.

Very simply, I accept God’s law for myself but don’t feel it should be imparted to others unless they have come to faith and to that conclusion through faith. For those of you that disagree with the concept of a fair number of fundamentalist Christians being similar to the Shia, you either don’t know any, or are one.

The economy is the hot button issue of the moment and likely to remain that way for a while. An economic mess awaits whichever party wins this election and frankly, it could get ugly for the middle class and those below as measured by income. This bailout is a Bandaid without Neosporin – it might work, but it won’t be quick, and we’ve got to hope it isn’t infected under there.

Both candidates have plans for the economy, with Barack’s being more fully thought through. McCain’s has been changing weekly if not daily. McCain will surround himself with advisors as economics aren’t really his thing. He’ll take their opinion and add his 2¢, then let them hammer out the details. Barack wants tax cuts for 95% of earning Americans and investments in energy as “the next great thing.”

McCain wants to offer relief at the pump (and I kid you not, I pulled this from his website just now under the heading of “Immediate Relief for American Families") “the United States will be telling oil producing countries and oil speculators that our dependence on foreign oil will come to an end - and the impact will be lower prices at the pump.”

I am amazed to say that isn’t some item dragged out from a corner of the website, but the FIRST item in his plan to offer families relief. Yeah, that’ll work.

Energy is a huge issue, some would say the cornerstone to both our current fiscal situation as well as our recovery, and I see that as true. We all know the $700 billion number for what we’re sending to the Middle East to drive as we do, but the solution to the energy crisis is our next moon shot, our next Internet, our next television.

America invents great stuff that the world buys. Unfortunately, America doesn’t make much of it anymore but we do license the right to make our inventions pretty nicely. That’s what we need to do with the next great energy source. We don’t know what it will be and yes, we need to use current technology to get away from oil, but we also need to invent the next great thing in energy production.

If someone had told us in 1975 that the Internet would be what it is today, most would have laughed. Same for television in 1940. Or walking on the moon in 1950. Barack’s plan of investing $150 billion per year for ten years serves two purposes – it creates jobs and will hopefully invent a new energy source. America can do that.

The last issue I’ll touch on here is national security. With the economy at front of mind those nasty terrorists have been moved to page 6 but they are still out there. Important to realize is that our sheepdogs, those that keep us sheep safe, will continue to do their job regardless of who is elected. There are many on the ground here in America and more throughout the world. Soldiers in common clothes, well armed and well informed. Silent hits from snipers and Predator drones. This war goes on regardless and I fully support it.

Diplomacy is key to fighting this war, too. Is there a comparison between the two candidates on diplomatic ability? One speaks reason and lays the possibilities on the table up front. The other carries the big stick but won’t admit he’ll use it. One is a charismatic person, well educated and fully informed. The other an honorable war hero seen often as angry. And then there’s Sarah Palin, the pit bull in lipstick, who might wink and shout out to Israel while ignoring Iran because, like her boss, she can’t pronounce their names.

But that’s another issue and I said national security was the last one.

Monday, October 13, 2008

"Second Dude" Todd Palin

An interesting pair of articles in the L.A. Times yesterday, the first on Todd Palin seeing his role as husband to the executive as quite involved, the other about Pit Bull Palin's unhappiness with the media actually looking at her actions in Troopergate.

OK, I'll admit it, Todd is hunky. A sportsman. A man among men when things are judged by how fast you can go and what you've killed with a gun from a safe distance. Nothing in his background points to any ability in the political arena which is why his very quick jumping into the fray of getting his ex-brother in law fired from the State Police in Alaska is seen by so many as wrong. It was within two weeks of Pit Bull's taking office that Todd had her office arrange the meeting to begin discussions about getting that trooper fired. But jump he did, using the title of "First Gentleman" to his wife's "Governor." I'll amend my description of Todd to include the adjective "cheeky." Would "power-obsessed" be better?

Pit Bull, on the other hand, has her lawyers making the case that since no money was received there is no wrong doing in her using her office to get the trooper fired. Well, no legal wrong-doing anyway. It's this fine line between legal and moral right and wrong that some Christian politicians (OK, many politicians, Dems, too) have no issue stepping over that bugs us all. Wrong is wrong. Christian or secular politicians know right from wrong and politics is supposed to be a higher calling. Faith even more so, especially when publicly proclaimed. When seculars sidestep "right" in the name of "ME!" we see it as normal human behavior. When self-confessed Christian politicians do it, I say time to get back to Bible study.

I don't know any of these people but I sure don't want Pit Bull, who I really see as Dick Cheney in high heels with less experience but no less destructive behavior, to be that heartbeat away from the presidency. Actually, she's more dangerous than Dick in that she enjoys the spotlight, the crowd assembled for her honor and glory cheering her on. Nor do I want our "Second Dude" to be Todd Palin, a high school graduated hunter that gathers nothing but kudos for kills and wins.

Following the eight year international joke that our president has been, the zealot idiot as seen by many, the stubborn wielder of a big stick he has no idea (or is that no concern) of the consequences of, do any of us want Pit Bull and hubby to be that close to continuing the embarrassment of us all?

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Kid Rock Sells War

Ai yai yai, this youtube/blogger thing is making me crazy. Went to youtube, tried to post the "Warrior" video and it worked pronto. Deleted it, went back and spent about a half hour typing out my thoughts, posted it and darnit if it didn't post, I lost my words and here I am typing again. Oh well.

I'm sickened by this video on so many fronts.

Kid Rock is a never-seen-war punk. Coke-slim in his rock star persona. He screams of being a "warrior" when the biggest fight he's been in was against Tommy Lee for Pamela, and he lost that one.

Our government spent probably $5 mil making this video, and likely another $50 mil or more in the media buy. That's your money and mine being used to propagandize American youth into being warriors for a cause that we were lied into, that is throwing us further into debt, a debt that makes the Wall Street bailout pale by comparison.

I know kids that have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. More that are planning on enlisting when they can. Some of them have no other ticket to the dreams they have. Some have parents that believe Iraq to be the central war on terrorism. I don't speak against them. We, as a church, and I personally, pray for them.

But we as a people shouldn't be paying for Bush and crowd to glorify that which we were lied into. We aren't warriors, we are defenders of freedom. To glorify war is to appeal to the basest of instincts among the male make-up. To have to advertise for soldiers is sickening.

One thing worth fighting for is that our votes be counted. Currently the GOP, which stole at least one of the last presidential elections and probably the last two, is complaining about voter fraud in Ohio where Obama's team is legally registering voters and legally collecting their ballots. I wonder why voter fraud is so much on the GOP mind?

If this election has a hint of voter fraud from the GOP and McCain wins, may there be riots in the streets.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Presidential Debate #2 - Healthcare

I'm catching the replay of the debate after a really good night of youth ministry. I caught about 20 minutes of the debate before going but was more focused on the lesson of the night, John 13:1-17, Jesus washing the feet of His disciples, Jesus the servant. I'm thrilled to say that my co-leader and I reached a couple of kids on this concept and perhaps made all of them think of what service is all about.

But this is about the debate, and hearing Barack speak of service, the Peace Corps and more, as a key part of where we need to go as a nation, did my heart good.

To the debate, for me it was all about healthcare which I've only recently come to understand Barack Obama's position on. For those of you that read here regularly, you may know that I was more in favor of John Edward's position on healthcare. I like universal healthcare and that isn't what Barack espouses. He's smarter than that, so smart it almost got past me.

We can's imply throw however many million people work in the health insurance industry out of work. We can, however, offer the public a better plan, the same plan that congress is given, and at a lower cost than most of us, or our employers, are currently paying. Plus, that plan can cover people with pre-existing conditions which is the great "back door" that insurance companies use to toss out expensive claims while tossing the "insured" into the fire of bankruptcy.

Barack's plan let's free markets work with the people represented in that free market in their best collective interest. It doesn't close business for those that run insurance brokerages (my brother-in-law, for instance) but provides a real competition for them that isn't part of their consortium. It doesn't put the workers out of work but given a length of time it may put the fat-cats out of business and have their employees working for the government program, saving ...ahem ... trillions of dollars in fat-cat salaries and bonuses while keeping the workers employed if, perhaps, with a different employer.

As for the other issues discussed, I hope you took the time to watch the debate in it's entirety. That's your job as a voter. Watch, consider, vote. Here's part 1. Here's part 2.

One final thought - if we are looking for change in Washington, and I think we are, do you want the guy that's been there for 26 years and admits to having ticked off folks on both sides of the isle, or do we want a guy that has spent his adult life in service to the community, the last three years in Washington learning it's ways, and pledges to continue to serve the people given the opportunity?

Friday, October 03, 2008

Pit Bull Palin & Plain Joe Biden

Perhaps one of the more boring debates of all time, but with it's well rehearsed moments and perhaps one of sincerity, the loser was the nation with a format tailor made to the total stage-play that has become our political forum.

Pit Bull didn't surprise me. I expected what we got - a well rehearsed cheerleader for her boss, a reciting of positions given with a curled lip and a wink, a smile smacking of pride at hitting a note when needed. I don't like this woman at all. I think her one of the great non-thinking individuals of all time, best capable at conveying the party line as she has been fed it.

I have come to realize that Republicans can be very smart people. It ain't easy playing Machiavellian games and they are great at it. Pit Bull is a pawn. An eager pawn, a "foamer" in train-folk speak, but a pawn nonetheless. She lost the debate.

Plain Joe did his job and I thought well enough. Better in the second half with a little more spittle in his invective. His choke-up, real and unrehearsed, the one sincere moment of the night. Pit Bulls absolutely ignoring that moment showing her true killer instinct.

She doesn't want to argue about the source of climate change. That's GOP-speak for we won't do anything about it.

She wants to run the Senate.

and she's an energy expert. Uh huh. Which of her five colleges in six years did she major in "energy?"

Biden knows Washington but isn't really a part of it. He is one of the lowest net worth guys there, especially based upon his years. He is small town, with a great heart and a quarter century of world view experience. He is fit for the office of the President if needed.

Sarah Palin is not.


Just for the record, I either got the necessity or bought the koolaid a couple of days ago. Without the bailout we were in for tough times with fair certainty. Or at least I think so. Maybe.

I was amazed at the pork tacked on. The Senate and House up to their usual tricks, but so blatantly, knowing it would be seen and reported to all. Amazing ... in our face, this is how business is done in Washington, and no transparency.

It's time for Change.