Saturday, October 27, 2012

My Tongue-in-Cheek Choice for Congress (Or Am I Serious)?

Did you read Joel Stein's column in the November 5, 2012 Time?  His work, which he calls "The Awesome Column", is now the first thing I read.  If it doesn't make me laugh, his supposed intention, it 's sure to tick me off .  For example, the time he told us all he was smarter than us because he went to a better college.

This issue he was making a proposal that nobody should be allowed to vote unless they were at least as smart as he.  In laying his groundwork, he mentioned low-information voters, a term coined by an author, Samuel Popkin.  Stein consulted Popkin and some other impressive sounding people who eventually convinced him he was not a low-information voter.  By the end of the column, I decided I had laughed more than I had been rankled.  I also was evaluating whether I was a low-information voter concerning my most difficult choice this year.

What were the bits of information I had about the people running for Congress from our district in the state of Kansas? 

___________, Libertarian

Kevin Yoder, Republican

About the Libertarian whose name I don't remember, I know not a word.  There were no ads.  There were no handshakes.  There were no pictures on fliers.  There weren't even any phone calls.  But, I may have finally figured out a way not to receive any of the latter.

About Kevin Yoder, I have this sketchy information. 

.  He's a rather handsome man who wears expensive looking clothing which fits him beautifully.  Oh, yeah, that's probably not a good reason for choosing a public leader.

.  He's not Dennis Moore.  Now, Dennis Moore, by the end of one term in Congress, had sent out a number of newsletters and invitations to talk sessions.  He even got out of Johnson County for some of them.  He spoke of ideas that agreed with some of mine and seemed a good, intelligent man.

.  He's not even Dennis Moore's wife who ran for the seat after Dennis resigned, but sadly lost the election.

.  Yoder did send me one communication.  There was a multi-paged questionnaire asking my opinion about the issues he wanted to accomplish in his next term.  It was accompanied by a b. s. letter telling me that because of my standing in the community he needed to know my wishes. 

Let's examine my standing for truth.

1.  Retired
2.  Poor
3.  Female
4.  Democrat
5.  Single -- no spouse to influence
6.  Smart aleck
7.  Opinionated
8.  Or is that opinionated smart aleck?

The letter informed me if I would include my e-mail address he would send me results of the survey in about a month.  I did, he didn't.  (And to think I gave him my blog address as well.)

I did hear about him one more time in the interim. He got his sorry behind in the news - almost literally -- for going skinny dipping in the Sea of Galilee. 

1.  In coed company
2.  There were other members of Congress there
3.  Some, including Yoder, had their spouses with them
4. The others wore their clothes

Now, for the above story I want to thank him for the laugh it gives me every time I think of it.  But I guess it does show poor judgment for a Congressman who wants to be reelected to behave in such a way.  Even though I'm sure Jesus, himself, may have skinny-dipped there a time or two, it wasn't considered a sacred body of water at the time. But, then Yoder may have been trying to save the crease in those lovely clothes.

Not to worry, Mr. Yoder.  I'm sure you'll win the election.  There were no Democrats running against you.  Your party didn't think they needed to run any ads against your opponent.  And the national politicians consider this state a lock-in for the Republican Party.

I was just h e double hocky sticks (remember me now?) bent on showing my ire with Republican dirty political tactics this year by voting for anyone else, especially Democrats.

Don't let my blog worry you either.  I can't get most of my friends and family to read it and none of them live in Kansas.  I'm sure you rushed to read the blog as soon as you received knowledge of it.  If you did, you'll note it says I have two followers, but that can't be right, can it?  It increased from one follower to two one time when I signed in to do an edit.  My granddaughter swears she read it at least once.  So did my brother, the Republican . . . and my nephew by marriage told me I was some kind of writer.  I'm sure he doesn't know I realize that may not be a compliment.  My friend from high school, who lives in California, said she would read one and I remember her as a person of her word.  My other brother, the Democrat, after many excuses why he hadn't, reluctantly said he would, and he's a minister.  They always tell the truth, don't they?  I know my best friend's sister read it at least once, because her nephew filed a comment and said she had recommended he read it.  And then there is my niece whom I fired up so badly she wrote two rebuttal comments. 

But, I'll leave it to you all my non-reading followers.  Was I a low-information voter or not?

There was one thing of note.  Mr. Yoder said on the survey form that he was working to get term limits for Congress.  Fat chance his colleagues will go for that, but it is an idea I can get into myself.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Pre-Election Overview of Trickle Down Politics

A friend asked a person for information I needed for this blog. That person said he would like to meet and shake the hand of the individual -- me -- that cares enough to write a blog that nobody reads. It does seem that way sometimes, but I certainly have ticked off a lot of conservative Republicans with it. Some have filed formal comments on the blog. Joel Osteen said in his sermon today that sometimes we have to go through a thousand or so closed doors before we walk through the one that God answers with a yes, but we need to stay in the faith and keep trying.

This campaign has left a lot of citizens confused and frustrated. The died-in-the-wool Democrats and Republicans remain almost blindly and unthinkingly faithful to party lines. The rest of us have to keep listening, reading and evaluating. We also need to be prayerful that we hear and understand the issues well enough to make the best choices for most Americans. Believe me I have prayed my way through these blog articles.

Throughout the process, the blame games have grown very tiring and have not been constructive. Yes, our debt grew considerably because of two wars, tax cuts and an unsubstantiated belief that cutting taxes for the wealthy and businesses would cause trickle down affluence to Main Street. Yes, the current congress and administration colluded with the previous ones and continued those same questionable practices. What part of "they are not working" do both parties not understand? The best that can be said is they are leading us through a sluggish recovery.

Granted this recovery was destined to be sluggish anyway. There is a reason this period was called The Great Recession. It was named such because it is the worst recession since the Great Depression. We won't recover overnight.

In "The View From Mainstreet", the first article in the blog, I said that the average head of household knows how to fix a financial crisis -- at least as long as jobs are available. One, stop fighting about the problem and creating more stress. Two, cut out all frivolous and unnecessary spending. Three, increase revenue. In a family, that means people take on extra jobs. In government that means increasing taxes. If it means Congress needs to tax my $797 monthly Social Security Transfer, so-be-it. Tax it! As a neighbor says when we get no or niggardly Social Security increases, "we can learn to do with less". Whatever it takes, get that national debt paid down. It is sheer insanity to be in debt to a country that has clearly not been our friend for decades. The Chinese are no dummies. Are we?

Focusing on whether or not we like the personalities involved should not be the issue. After the Republican primary, I e-mailed my Republican brother that I'm glad Romney had won. I rather like the man. I simply disagree with his waffling on issues in order to improve his poll figures as well as his newly acquired conservative politics.

I understand why that brother is a Republican. He is a small business owner and Republicans, by orientation, tend to favor businesses, both large and small. But most of my friends and family, as well as myself, have worked for schools, local governments, serving or helping professions, and in other people's businesses. Democrats are the ones more likely to protect the interests of the little people like us. From them you don't get the feeling that they are saying if they can live on their $10,000,000 annual income and save for their futures, why can't we live on the minimum wage $15,080 and save for our retirements as well. Even wealthy Democrats have a better understanding of what it means to be poor or Middle Class. The Republicans seem not to care anymore.

In this economy of less than one job per working-aged employee, there are some conservatives who actually think that Social Security should be entirely eliminated or at least reduced to a state that it supplements our retirement jobs. There is a reason why the very young and the very old do not work. The very young are learning how to survive and the very old are trying use the skills they learned while young. Even people as remarkably healthy as I, still have physical issues that can impede productive work -- visual disturbances, hearing problems, arthritis, etc. How can they convince a prospective employer that they can be as useful and productive as their younger selves? Many of them need afternoon naps to keep up their strength or rest their eyes.

Remember that funny old saying, "them what has, gets"? Social Security recipients, while having an average monthly income of $1050 received no raise for 2010, 2011, a 3.6 per cent raise for 2012 and a prospective increase of 1.7 per cent for 2013. Supposedly our Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) is based on the Consumer Price Index -W. Having lived through the years 2010, 2011 and 2012 to date, can you honestly agree that we had no cost of living increase in 2009 and 2010 or just 1.7 per cent in 2012? If these figures are correct, why can we buy so much less than we could a few years ago. The COLA is supposed to keep us at the same purchasing power as when the Index was lower.

Yet, Congress, some time ago, allowed themselves an automatic annual raise unless they voted before the end of the previous year to forego it. Ordinary Congressmen have an income of $174, 000, but they need an increase sometimes even when the Seniors and handicapped do not. "Them what has, gets."

In psychology and education, we talk about a phenomenon called the "Self Fulfilling Prophecy". If we think something negative might happen, our subconscious is likely to set up conditions so that something negative happens. Well, the current climate in Congress is that Social Security needs to be reduced or discontinued so it won't go bankrupt or cause the entire country to be bankrupt. So what does Congress do? They stop taking Social Security taxes from employee's paychecks. And what are Conservatives threatening? Republicans want to privatize the program. President George W. Bush suggested since people would like to leave something for their children, he thought privatizing was a good idea. Besides the fact that private funds would be threatened over and over by a volatile stock market, how can failure to tax the current workforce for Social Security or letting heirs inherit the private funds save the program? Subtracting funds from an already crippled system will kill the system, which is exactly what some Republicans such as Todd Akin of Missouri want to do.

Next we need to address issues related to large and small government. Right after the Civil War, a Union could not have been possible had the states not been given a lot of power and latitude. The entire concept of small versus large government is kind of a dinosaur, but the country keeps playing the old tapes over and over. Per small government conservatives, there are a lot of areas where the Federal Government does not belong. For Mitt Romney, one of these is health care. He presented once that his State Health Care plan would be a good model for the country, but for each individual state, not the Federal Government. Well, what a waste of time, manpower and dollars to replicate it 49 times. And, would there be equal protection fifty different times? Can't you envision a mass exodus to the state with the most popular plan? But more importantly, doesn't this underscore a basic hypocrisy in Conservative thinking? The very party that believes that the less government the better, is the one that wants to micromanage our individual lives -- what we do with our bodies, who we marry, what wattage light bulb we use, whether or not we use birth control. Our God is a taxing master, but even He offers us a choice. Local, state and federal governments do not belong in our private and religious lives. Mucking around in them is evidence of politics and government out of control.

We have yet to hear the debate about foreign policy. That hasn't stopped people on both sides from devining what the policies are or should be.

A lot of my family is up in arms over our relations with Israel. Per our military leaders, our country still has good rapport with the Israeli military. From what I have discerned from my reading, Israel does not have enough manpower or supplies to carry on a prolonged war with Iran. If they go into battle with that country, whether it is started by Israel or Iran, they will have to have the backing and support of the U. S. and their other allies. It would be to Netanyahu's advantage if he could coerce all of us to start the war for them. Some of the other Israeli leaders, however, do not believe the time is yet here when Israel and it's allies need to act. President Obama and our leaders are well aware that two recent wars are the major cause of our never-ending debt and that our troops are exhausted and stressed to the point of suicide. We do not need another war. We need to rest, grieve and heal both emotionally and financially. But Netanyahu will not cease his pressure to get the U. S. and the U. N. to go to war for him. Through his efforts to achieve his personal agenda, he has offended our President on more than one occasion, including dressing him down in a televised photo op on his first visit to this administration.

In addition, Russia and China do not want military interference between these two countries at this time, and yes they have a say. Our government and the other countries have opted to use sanctions in an attempt to avoid bloodshed and achieve a peaceful resolution. Besides, Ahmadinejad said that Putin informed him we had several thousand nuclear weapons, and that one bomb would be nothing compared to that. But go ahead, critics and continue to criticize our President and the U. N. for not engaging in our usual guilt-ridden knee jerk reaction to Israeli concerns. Then the next presidential election you will be able to complain about a war of your own making.

Now, let's deal with the Libyan debate. CBS did a timeline last week about what and when the Administration stated that the attack on our embasy was probably terrorism. In a meeting with some of his staff, Obama is said to have stated it was probably terrorism, and he mentioned not tolerating terrorists in his public news conference, less than twelve hours after the event. If ten kids get into a fight on the playground, the school staff may believe, while stopping it, that they know what caused it and who all was involved. But if they walk into the fray saying they know the gang kid started it and take action based only on opinion, they could come up short later when they find out Johnny four-eyes stole a candy bar from a little girl and the others began to protect her. Wherever the fight and whatever the cause, sane individuals have to methodically sift through the facts, examine forensically and make sane decisions before acting. And to think if he had come out swearing vengeance for terrorism and it turned out regular mob violence, all the critics would have risen against him for that. We need to leave personalities and our favorites out of this and think forensically ourselves.

The uprising in Egypt seems truly to have been provoked by the ill-timed and ill-conceived video that a coptic Egyptian published on-line from our country. Nobody seems concerned that Egypt has taken responsibility for their own cleanup.

The situation in Syria is a heartache. Our government considered sending in weapons to help the rebels, but could not because there was no guarantee they would not be used by AlQaeda, The Talliban and their sympathizers. Just think, we could have wound up with another gun/Cartel expose for everybody to bitch about.

But the bottom line is that Ron Paul is probably right. The United States is not the police force of the world. We are neither obligated nor qualified to be. We have more than we can handle policing within our own borders.

We all need to learn as much as we can. We must discern what remarks -- from both sides -- are fact and what are half truths and what are misdirections, or downright lies meant to win votes. We need to honestly assess if we are cherry picking points to support our pre-conceived party position or if we are really trying to eke out all the facts.

It is imperative that we align ourselves with politicians whose records to date show that they share our interests and have policies that will facilitate our own financial and life-sustaining needs. It is ludicrous when a part-time teacher or a hospital nurse's aid identifies so closely with a member of the upper one per cent that they think their needs and goals are the same. They are totally in conflict. And there are 99% more of us than there are of them.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Which Mitt Romney Would Be President?

Should Mitt Romey become President, which Mitt Romney would we get?  Would it be the one who signed a health care bill into law while he was Governor of Massachusetts?  You remember the law -- it was used as the model for the Affordable Health Care Act currently called Obamacare.  Or would we get the Mitt Romney who vows to get rid of Obamacare his first day in office?

Would the pro-choice Mitt Romney, Governor of Massachusetts, arrive in the Oval Office, or would the currently pro-life "Romney for President" be the one? 

Perhaps we will get the Romney who said the next President might eliminate the Dream Act that President Obama enacted by Executive Order or perhaps the one who now proudly exclaims he has an ancestor who was born of American parents in Mexico.  Or better still, we might get the one who says this country was built by immigrants and even his ancestors were immigrants. Well, duh, except for those few of us who have native American origins, all of us were born of immigrants.

Perhaps we will see the man who favors giving senior citizens vouchers for Medicare and sending them off to fight the wars with insurance companies (but please don't call them vouchers, because that's an unpopular idea).  Or maybe we will get the one who now says we'll have to have a governnment sponsored option as one of the Medicare choices.

Just possibly we will get the Romney that doesn't want the government in Affordable Health Care because the government doesn't belong in what should be a private industry.  Or possibly we will get the Romney that believes in the afforementioned government option for Medicare.

Maybe we'll get the Romney that says to trust him with the details instead of the one we observe making them up as he does interviews.

Will we get the Romney who said that kids who want to go to college or start businesses should borrow from their parents, or will we get the Romney who now says educating our young people is important and he truly embraces Pell grants?

Do we anticipate the Mitt Romney, who as a representative of Bain, closed companies and cut jobs, not the one who says his Bain experience taught him how to create jobs?  Or, will the Mitt Romney who took Bain's profits from the top and walked away, leaving some companies to file for bancruptcy, be the one we can expect?

Will we get the Romney that wrote 47 per cent of the population off in a private meeting, or the one who now embraces all of us as best friends -- the poor, the pregnant, the handicapped, the middle class, the Food Stamp People, the people he cannot comprehend, the multitudes who are too lazy and selfish to live off the always too low minimum wage, and the ones who cannot find two or three jobs in an economy that offers less than one each? 

For sure we would be getting the Romney that wants to be president even more than a kid wants a candy bar -- so much he will say anything at all to get the nomination and the job. 

But what we don't know from all the verbiage is which Mitt Romney will actually show up for work every day.  How could we?