Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Let the good times roll . . .

Listening to the rhetoric during the election campaigns, you'd get the impression that Democrats are "tax and spend liberals" and Republicans are "for small government and reducing taxes." How accurate are those labels and doesn't this whole concept beg a larger question.

Are working Americans better off financially under Republican administrations or Democratic administrations. How would you measure the difference? Tax rates, wages, level of regulation, strength of the dollar, the spending power of your income? What has happened to the wage-earner's income under the two scenarios?

1) Write down your answers, then read:


2) After reading the article, share your reactions and make comparisons.

Click on Comments to make it happen.

Spread the Wealth

With accusations that Sen. Obama is a socialist because he suggested that those with net incomes of over a quarter million can afford more taxes and thus spread the wealth around, I'm curious about your reactions.

1) If you're collecting Social Security and using Medicare, where is the money coming from?
2) For those who hate the liberals and all the havoc they've created, are you willing to forego Social Security (1935, Franklin D. Roosevelt) and Medicare (1965, Lyndon Johnson)?
3) What would you propose in place of these two programs?
4) If your retirement funds are in a managed account (401k for example), share your post-economic meltdown insights.
5) Is a progressive tax structure a tool of socialism?

Click on the Comments button, let it all hang out.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Anti-American Views

I can't begin to string together -- at least with any coherency -- the logic fragments tossed out by Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) in which she tried to establish her credibility as a voice of the new right. The launch of this offensive came in the form of pointing out that, in effect, anyone who didn't see things her way was guilty of having very anti-American views.

( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=axf81ck_O-E )

Well, what are anti-American views? If I catch her drift:
- Raising taxes on the wealthiest citizens appears to be an anti-American viewpoint even when we are involved in two wars and the budget comes up so short as to double the national debt in 8 years time.
- Saying it is one's patriotic duty to pay your taxes.
- Considering it a worthy proposition that all Americans have access to quality health care seems to be an anti-American viewpoint.
- But it's not anti-American to eavesdrop on the phone calls between a serviceman and his spouse and family.
- It's not anti-American to use water-boarding as an interrogation technique so long as it is the CIA and not the US Army doing it.

Well, you can probably come up with a couple of supplemental or contrary points that would be worth pondering. Feel free to add your thoughts. Click on 'comments' below.

P.S. Oh, that Rep. Bachmann has as close a relationship with her constituents as she insists Sen. Obama had with Bill Ayers.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Most Liberal Senator

We've heard it stated many times during this campaign that Barack Obama has the most liberal voting record of any US Senator. This ranking was done by the National Journal.

Here are some details to provide more context:
1) The tally is for 2007; his ranking was 16th in 2005 and 10th in 2006.
2) Strange as it sounds, Barack Obama had a higher conservative score (4.5) than John McCain.
3) Three senators do not have scores for 2007 because they missed more than half of the rated votes in an issue area: John McCain, R-Ariz., who was running for president; Tim Johnson, D-S.D., who was recuperating from a brain hemorrhage and returned to work on September 5, 2007; Craig Thomas, R-Wyo., who died on June 4, 2007; and John Barrasso, R-Wyo., who was appointed to succeed Thomas on June 22, 2007.
4) Coincidentally, Sen. John Kerry was also ranked most liberal when he ran for president.

Reminder: McCain has chided Obama for voting "present" while in the Illinois State House, but has himself missed so many votes in the US Senate that his voting record could not be ranked by the National Journal.

Here are a sample of the bills that earned Senator Obama the ranking of Most Liberal:

1) Voted to establish a Senate Office of Public Integrity to handle ethics complaints against senators.
2) Voted against reapealing the federal minimum wage and giving states the authority to set minimum wages.
3) Voted for final passage of a bill implementing the 9/11 commission's homeland-security recommendations.
4) Voted to approve legislation reauthorizing and expanding the State Children's Health Insurance Program.
5) Voted to prevent Mexican Trucks from operating on most US roads.
6) Voted to require longer rest periods for US troops sent to war.

Source: National Journal's 2007 Vote Ratings.

Thoughts, reactions, reflections welcome.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Presidential Signing Statements

A signing statement is a written pronouncement issued by the President of the United States upon the signing of a bill into law.

There is an ongoing controversy concerning the extensive use of signing statements by President George W. Bush to modify the meaning of laws. In July 2006, a task force of the American Bar Association described the use of signing statements to modify the meaning of duly enacted laws as "contrary to the rule of law and our constitutional system of separation of powers".[1]

While it is in theory possible for other executives to issue signing statements, there is no record of notable signing statements by anyone other than an American president.

Excerpt from a New York Times article:

These things create uncertainty in the law that should not be there,” Mr. Cooper said.

The White House has defended Mr. Bush’s use of signing statements as lawful and appropriate. But in 2006, the American Bar Association called the device “contrary to the rule of law and our constitutional system of separation of powers.”

Mr. Bush has used the signing statements to assert a right to bypass more than 1,100 sections of laws. By comparison, all previous presidents combined challenged about 600 sections of bills.

Additional resource:

Current thinking in the White House makes it pretty clear that the President of the United States is above the law -- at least the parts of the law that pose impediments to the preferred modus operandi.

- Should the president be free to pick and choose which parts of the law he/she is going to uphold?
- If not, what should the consequence be.
- If so, does this put us on the path to a monarchy, dictatorship or theocracy?

Click on "comments" below and share your views.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Foreclosure and Eviction

The Sheriff of Cook County, IL is refusing to evict people from their homes based on notifications from the banks. This position comes after realizing that many of the evictions were of people who were current on all their bills and were living in a rental property. It was the owner of the property who was in default, not the tennant!

Proposition: In situations like that stated above, what do you think of the idea of having the government purchase that mortgage at the current value of the property and let the renter take over payments on a path to ownership? The person who has been diligent in payments is rewarded; the person who took the gamble and lost is in fact the loser.


Click on "comments" below and weigh in.

Angry Voters

In my opinion, this campaign is getting dangerously nasty. A story on MPR/NPR yesterday stated that in the last month, 100% of McCain's TV ads fell into the "negative" category and a third of Obama's did as well. The difference, according to the researcher, was that the negative ads of the McCain campaign attacked the character of his opponent while the negative ads of Obama's campaign attacked the ideas of the opponent.

1) We know that in the past, at least, negative campaigning has proven a good stategy for the Republican party.
2) There is still time for McCain to come back and win the election.

I'd like to hear your thoughts on:
- What will be the long term impact of the nasty tone that is coming out of McCain's rallies in the past couple of days? (Reference in particular to 9 Oct 08)
- If your rallies are getting people so worked up that those in attendance are making threats of violence against others, what is the leader's role in that situation.
- Is this getting to the point of "I can't win this thing, so I'm going to inflict as much damage as possible."

Click on "comments" below and add your thoughts.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Bush Doctrine

Part III: Taking on the questions that stumped the Republican VP candidate.

While some are crying "Foul!" and making accusations of "gotcha journalism," let's have you weigh in.

What is the Bush Doctrine?

Now, I hope you have the advantage of having seen the discussion and are thus "prompted" to know the correct answer. Let's go a bit further and explore what it means to America's status in the world and under what situations it should be practiced.

Post your comments by clicking on, well, the Comments link below.

Taking on the Supreme Court

Part II: Taking on the questions that tripped up Gov. Palin in recent interviews.

Alaska Governor and Republican Vice Presidential candidate, Sarah Palin, seemed to draw a blank when asked to name even one Supreme Court decision with which she disagreed -- other than Roe v Wade -- which she had just discussed in the interview.

Now it's your turn. With which Supreme Court decisions do you disagree, and why?

Click on the Comment link below and share your wisdom.

Where do you get your information?

Are you among those thinking that the press has been unfair in its treatment of the Republican candidate for Vice President?

Let's take up the questions (one at a time) that tripped up Governor Palin in recent interviews:

What do YOU read when you are looking to keep current with events around you and in the world. How do you gather the information you need to be a well-informed voter?

Click the Comment link below and share your thoughts.