Monday, January 31, 2011

Obama's Prescient 2009 Cairo Speech.

TPJ: President Obama's 2009 Cairo speech seems prophetic now, 2 years later, as Egypt is on the brink of freedom from dictatorship. He has done well on foreign policy, so far into his presidency. I think it is very important for a president to have an understanding of the Muslim world as President Obama has. He, (unlike many other presidents) with his mixed background is the perfect president to have leading this country in the modern, global world that is less and less euro-centric.

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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Republicans Against Investments in America.

(PHOTO: Completion of first transcontinental railroad, Promontory Point, Utah)

It's a good thing that Republican President Abraham Lincoln and Republican President Dwight Eisenhower weren't president today, because today's Republican party would have never let them build either the transcontinental railroad or the interstate highway system. The transcontinental railroad connected the country, increased trade (thus, the economy boomed) and helped settle the West, which boomed the economy through mining and timber. The same is true for the interstate highway system, which also helps us get to work every day in a timely fashion. It is critical to moving our military to and from airports, seaports and land bases.,

So, Republicans decrying investments in modern America's crumbling infrastructure as being bad for the economy because it increases spending is illogical. This is coming from the party that calls itself the party of business, and yet, they don't remember that borrowing money from the bank (or government) to spend on an investment in your company (or country) is basic economics!! Businesses and banks across the country both benefit from this symbiotic relationship of the borrowing/lending cycle. Investments bring dividends (i.e. revenue). A business can't grow if it doesn't invest, and most can't invest without borrowing; the same it true for the government. We can't blame government for not improving the economy if we won't let it invest in America's infrastructure.

Europe, China and Japan are all enjoying high-speed, bullet-train, railroad lines that intersect their countries to enable travelers super-short distances to travel. That is something we can invest in that's big and would employ a lot of people both short and long-term. Or, what about an entire new, "green energy" industry investment (making sure it will all be built by American companies) that could replace the rusting, manufacturing industry? It could put millions of laid-off manufacturing workers back to work!! We have countless, out-of-work, manufacturing workers that are ready to go. We have sold our manufacturing base down-river to China and India, so this is a way to rebuild that, but we can't if these Republicans get their way.

But, no, Republicans say investment is bad for the economy because of the spending money bit. You can't grow as a company or country if you don't spend some money--period. Look at how building countless works projects helped get us out of the Great Depression!! There was the Hoover Dam, other dams, airports, bridges, warships for the Navy, as well as hospitals and schools. Imagine all the construction jobs alone from that kind or investment!! No wonder FDR's "New Deal" investments helped us get out of the depression. I guess many of these Republicans skipped history class. And, we can repeat that jobs boom because all the infrastructure built in the 30s is aging and needs repair.

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Monday, January 24, 2011

Republican Welfare States: GOP States Pay Less Taxes but Get Most in Federal Spending; Opposite True for Democratic States.

Those states who pay the least in taxes, get the most--and they tend to vote Republican. Those who pay the most in taxes and get the least back tend to vote Democratic. So, says the Tax Foundation (a conservative leaning group) in an article by Andrew Chamberlain (CLICK MAP ABOVE TO ENLARGE).
Some 84 percent of federal individual income taxes—which account for over 40 percent of federal revenue—are paid by the those in the top 25 percent of the income distribution. The majority of these taxpayers live in wealthy, urban, politically "blue" areas like New York, California, and Massachusetts.
So, throw this information back in the face of a Republican/Conservative/Tea Party person the next time they blast the Democrats/Liberals/Greens for being, so-called, "welfare queens." If it wasn't for the progressive tax system that most Democrats and Liberals favor, most Republican states would be screwed. Oh the irony!!

In other words, Democratic states are redistributing wealth to the Republican states (irony). I actually don't mind this, as a Liberal, (being that I believe in a progressive tax system), however, it would be nice if some of those on the right would come down off their high-horse on taxes.
I'd like them to acknowledge that the progressive tax system actually helps them!! I'm not holding my breath though.

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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Republicans Fumbling on Health Care and Jobs.

All we heard from Republicans and Conservatives for the last 2 years is that Obama wasn't doing enough to bring back jobs after Bush tanked the economy into the White House front gate. The economy struggled along under Obama but he has done some things that have helped, including the GM loans that the Republicans trashed. GM is now doing better and paying back the loans from the government. Slowly but surely the numbers of jobs lost has gone down under Obama and we are in a better position to rebound further.

But, while you'd think the Republicans would talk about jobs and improving the economy, they instead, went straight into this ideological exorcism where they repealed the Obama inspired health care reforms in the House of Representatives. Including, the well-liked provisions that end the practice of an insurance company being able to refuse you insurance or coverage due to a "pre-existing condition. Also, Republicans ripped out the provision of reforms that allowed your kids to stay on your insurance until they are 26, and graduated from college with a job to be able to support themselves. It's hard in today's economy for new graduates to find a solid job right out of college.

So, America wants to know, Mr. Boehner (Speaker of the House of Representatives) where are the jobs? That's what he said, every time he could get his face in front of a microphone, while they weren't in control of the House. So, now, I want to know why they aren't using their new control of the House to work on getting more jobs in America?! They claim we on the left were too distracted by health care reform to work on jobs, so why then would the Republicans distract themselves by diving back into health care? My answer? They don't seem to know how to govern--Republicans know how to dismantle government (by their own admissions) but they don't know how to make it work.

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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Sarah Palin's New Video: It's Everyone's Fault But Mine.

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin on Monday night provided the nation with her definition of "blood libel" and defended her initial response to criticism of her map that featured the district of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) in crosshairs. The map was released almost a year before the shooting that nearly took Giffords's life earlier this month. "Blood libel obviously means being falsely accused, or having blood on your hands," Palin said.

TPJ: Well, not exactly. Blood libel is a specific myth that Jews murder and drain the blood of Christian and Muslim children. It's a bit more than just "blood on your hands." Her's is a very sanitized version. Also, if she just wanted to say that she thought she was being falsely accused then why not just say that instead of using a very controversial, anti-Semitic myth to make that point? As for the gun sight? She admits using it on that now infamous map, "targeting" Democratic districts for defeat; including Congresswoman Giffords district but saw no problem in using it.

Well, that map wasn't an original graphic. In fact, for many, many years maps in political races have been used to target certain districts.

TPJ: She either is willfully ignoring the recklessness of mixing of guns with politics or simply doesn't care. She should know better given America's sensitivity over political violence. There have been too many assassinations of political figures in our history to ignore the dangerous potential. Do I think Sarah Palin is directly responsible for the shooting in Tucson, Arizona of Congresswoman Giffords? Of course not, but I do think she has greatly contributed to a political environment that has been infused with violent metaphors. The idea that she can't even admit that the "gun sight target" flier was probably a mistake gives the impression of a lack of maturity and a stubbornness to listen to reason; not exactly traits of a national political leader.

She plays the perpetual victim and that's not what I think Americans want to see in a leader. They seem to want a strong figure that is still willing to be humble enough to admit a need in course change. She couldn't even hold back her immaturity long enough to unite together over the memorial in Tucson, Arizona led by President Obama. She had to instead critique the cheers he got from the crowd upon his arrival; questioning his motive by saying the memorial was more of a "campaign stop" and "pep rally."

The problem is that 70% of Republicans found the president's speech during the memorial to be appropriate. The same Washington Post-ABC News poll found a 54% overall approval of the president. I was really impressed with how non-partisan his speech at the memorial was. If we can't even come together for a memorial then how can we come together on anything? You all know that I wasn't a George W. Bush fan but I thought he did a great job during his speech at Ground Zero with the bull-horn after 9/11.

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Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Arizona Memorial: President Obama Calms a Nation.

I thought President Obama's speech last night, at the memorial in Arizona, was a uniting and soothing speech. It showed how a president behaves in times of crisis--dignified and mature. I was very proud and assured to see and hear him express the feelings of a nation. His cool, calm words are welcome in a time of over-heated politics. It's good to see an assured leader in such chaotic and fearful times. I thought he really rose above partisan politics and spoke to our hearts and our shared humanity. He struck a balance between uplifting us and mourning our loss without sounding trite and stiff. He really gave me the feeling that we can get through these bumpy times together but only together.

My hope is that out of this senseless tragedy we can unite together and help this country move forward and live up to the hopes and dreams of little Christina Green who was killed in the Tucson shooting. She was there to meet her Congresswoman because of a budding interest in politics. She had a hopeful and optimistic view of politics that wasn't soaked with cynicism. So, it is our duty to make her proud and fulfill her expectations for America. May we take this moment and heal together, so that we might see this once great nation rise to the heights and glory that we know is possible. The hour is upon us to return to greatness--let us not miss that chance and dash the dreams of our children.

We survived a revolution against the most powerful military of its day--Great Britain. We united a scarred country after a bloody and senseless civil war and weathered the economic collapse of the Great Depression. We united and defeated the enemies of tyranny and darkness from two world wars to become the most prosperous country in the world. We did it before, and we can do it again.

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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Sarah Palin Decrys Heated Political Rhetoric; Before Defending it.

The "Momma Grizzle" herself, Sarah Palin has emerged from her den long enough to speak out about critics of her long-used gun analogies in political rhetoric. They include calls from Palin to not, "retreat but RELOAD" when dealing with Democratic opponents. As well as using a campaign flier that had gun sight targets dotted across a map of America for Democrats to "target" for defeat during a recent election.

One of those politicians, "targeted" by Palin's gun sights was Congresswoman Gifford's district. Is Sarah Palin directly responsible for the killing of Congresswoman Gifford? No, but her rhetoric has contributed to a political environment that is charged with too much hatred and incendiary language. I don't hate Republicans or Sarah Palin, nor see them as evil; but I do question their politics.

So, given these gun play references many in and outside the media have wondered why she would have used such violent innuendo when discussing political contests. This isn't unfair given the recent events. It is the natural questioning that occurs after a senseless massacre, involving a politician, within a political environment that has seen a nearly unprecedented use of violent rhetoric.

I think it's a good and fair question given the bad history America has had when guns are combined with political disagreements. We have faced too many assassinations not be questioning such reckless use of gun-play analogies that she favors so much. And, I don't think that's engaging in a witch hunt against Sarah Palin; words and actions have consequences. So, if she doesn't like people questioning her motives and tactics then perhaps she shouldn't have played with that fine-line between guns and political violence in the first place.

This brings us back to present day, where Palin has defended herself by calling for an end to questioning her rhetoric by saying it, (as quoted in TPM) "serves only to incite the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn. That is reprehensible." In other words, she's above being questioned. I don't understand how simple questioning of her use of gun metaphors is inciting violence? So, she's not just shifting the responsibility of her actions and words, but using the same rhetoric of blaming that she claims to be condemning!! Yet, how can she criticize her critics, for being critical, by being critical in return?!! She continues by saying that heated rhetoric is just an American tradition, which gives the impression that there's nothing wrong with it:
There are those who claim political rhetoric is to blame for the despicable act of this deranged, apparently apolitical criminal. And they claim political debate has somehow gotten more heated just recently," Palin wrote on Facebook. "But when was it less heated? Back in those 'calm days' when political figures literally settled their differences with dueling pistols?
TPJ: So, what is she insinuating? That gun metaphors in politics are just good old fashioned Americana, and therefore ok? Would Ronald Reagan or Dwight Eisenhower have said things like, "Don't retreat, reload?" Of course not because they knew that the political trust of the people was sacred and not something to play games with. They knew the importance of tact in politics. Reagan was nearly assassinated by a bullet, so I think he understood the danger between guns and politics. I didn't agree with his policies but at least he didn't recklessly use gun metaphors when talking about his political opponents.

And what's with the dueling pistols analogy? Is she saying that it wasn't necessarily a bad thing to use dueling pistols to settle disputes?? Because she is basically calling such heated disagreements in American politics, "traditions" and we all know that traditions are almost always seen as good things--that's why you continue a tradition. She said as much in the following quote from the same article, "Vigorous and spirited public debates during elections are among our most cherished traditions." So, here she is conflating democratic debate with heated rhetoric involving gun metaphors. We're not talking about the Reagan/Tip O'Neil debates that were spirited but civil.

It sounds to me like she thinks it's as cherished an American tradition as apple pie and baseball!! In addition, she defends herself, again, with gun analogies!! The dueling pistols!!!! She can't seem to restrain herself, even in the wake of this shooting; and after all the questioning of her use of weapons when discussing politics!! Those of us who are questioning her political games aren't doing so without reason. These are legitimate questions being asked about the value of gun metaphors in politics given America's history of political assassinations. She was proud of her analogies from the gusto with which she told them at many different campaign stops; and actions have consequences.

As my mother said, you can choose your actions but not the consequences. So, we are merely questioning her actions and now she wants to change the consequences of those actions but it doesn't work that way. If she wants to be a major national political figure then she has to take ownership of her words and deeds. Otherwise, she's just another pretender.

Oh, and what's with the use of the phrase, "blood libel?" Just even the word "blood" is not the best word to use when talking about this shooting in Tucson. But, "blood libel" is a phrase from Biblical times. I've researched online today that this phrase, "blood libel" is a questionable phrase that was used to accuse Jews of murdering children and using their blood for certain religious rituals. Another poor choice of words from Mrs. Grizzle Bear. And what is it with her and the Bible? Can she go an hour without invoking the Bible and or guns? Apparently, not.

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Possible Compromise on Assault Weapons.

Yesterday, I wrote a piece on the possibility of re-banning assault weapons but I know gun enthusiasts enjoy shooting them for the thrill. Also, I realize that in today's complicated world that compromise is often essential. I prefer a complete ban but if that's not possible, I'd be willing make allowances for gun range owners to own them for rental at the range only; not for private ownership. That way we greatly reduce the chances of the average citizen from owning and misusing them but licensed gun owners still have a chance to shoot these weapons for the sport of it. I wonder if that would be able to pass through the divided Congress, or if conservatives are so radical today about guns that they would reject any attempt at regulation.

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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Reinstate the Assault Weapons Ban in America.

(Above: Glock handgun with an extended magazine of bullets)

Why does anyone need an assault weapon except to kill people? True, it can be used at a gun range but the potential for misuse by an unstable person is too high. We need to re-ban assault weapons. They aren't needed or wanted when hunting. I'm all for protecting the 2nd amendment but believe that sensible restrictions should be in place too.

The shooter in AZ who killed or wounded a dozen people, including a duly elected Congresswoman, had an extended clip to his pistol, which means he had 30 bullets per clip!! That means he transformed a regular pistol into an assault weapon. Such a clip was banned under the assault weapons ban in America until the Republicans and President Bush let the law sunset in '04. It could have prevented this shooter from having 30 bullets, which would have greatly limited the damage. He was only tackled after he ran out of bullets. That would have been sooner had he only had a regular clip. I'm I'll for the right to have weapons and the right to hunt but I don't believe I'm a "radical" for wanting sensible restrictions.

Can assault weapons and extended clips still be found and/or bought? Yes, but it would make it harder and any thing we can do to make it harder will help reduce violence; not end it because that's nearly impossible but reduce it. It would also lower the lethality of an attack. Will it solve the problem completely? No, but we must do something to help curb the lethality of these attacks. In addition, we need to do better about screening people who shouldn't be allowed to carry weapons such as the mentally ill; for their own safety too due to high suicide rates. It's harder to get into college than it is to get a gun in some places!!

I don't think it's infringing upon anyone's right to bear arms to have sensible restrictions on a device that has the potential to kill mass people. Where do gun advocates suggest we draw the line? We don't allow people to have tanks or fighter jets that cause mass destruction but assault weapons of mass destruction are o.k.??? I don't want to ban your hunting rifle, your shotgun or your pistol, so don't accuse me of being anti-gun. I have many family members who own and enjoy guns--that's not my problem. I just want to make it harder for the unstable to get these kind of mass lethality causing weapons.

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Sunday, January 09, 2011

What Drove Jared Lee Loughner to Shoot Congreswoman Giffords?

What is it that drove Jared Lee Loughner to shoot and kill? Some on the right-wing are saying that we can't say he had extreme rightist views because it is said that he likes both the Communist Manifesto and Mein Kampf; and perhaps if we stop there they might be right. However.

Despite the evidence of the two extremes (Manifesto and Mein Kampf) he has said other things about the gold standard, debt, English speaking only, anti-government hate and abortion. He has also been linked to an Anti-Semitic, white supremacist hate group (it turns out Rep. Giffords was Jewish). These are
all positions that are straight out of the conservative wing of the political spectrum.

Then there is the evidence that her office was attacked previously during the health care debate. Her office was also one of the districts targeted by Sarah Palin's fliers showing gun cross-hairs on each of those districts. Then there is Sarah Palin saying to supporters after losing elections to not get mad but to "reload." And what about all the violent, hateful rhetoric that poured out during the health care debate on a general level? People shouting down supporters of the health care bill at town halls, racists asserting themselves, gun nuts brandishing their weapons in public venues as a not too subtle threat, conservatives stepping on left-wing supporters' heads and death threats to Democrats for supporting Obama.

To say that there is violent rhetoric on both sides is splitting-hairs and a weak argument at best. There have been violent, leftist radicals in the past but today's violence within the political spectrum has unfortunately been heavily centered on the right-wing.

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Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Poll: Americans Say Raise Taxes on Rich, Cut Defense to Reduce Deficit.

(Photo Credit: CBS News)

The Republicans have run around with their tea bags flying saying that Democrats aren't listening to the people. They say that now they are in power they'll listen to the people's will and not report the mistakes of their last majority. The Republican power base in Washington D.C. will tell you that they think the American people want tax cuts for the rich and cuts in entitlement programs (Medicare and Social Security). The problem is, that's not what the people want!!

In a recent CBS "60 Minutes"/Vanity Fair poll, 60% a Americans say we should reduce the deficit by raising taxes on the rich!! Ha!! So much for listening to the people!! The next popular choice (20% of Americans polled) was cut defense!! Something I've been saying for years (in addition to the tax hikes on the super-rich). Republicans said in the last Congress that, "everyone needs to take a haircut" and "everything is on the table" as far as ways to reduce the deficit.

Well, they've come out now that they're in control of the House of Representatives and said defense cuts are off-limits. Despite all the money, lives and time we've lost in Iraq and Afghanistan. And why do we still need bases in Germany and Japan? They're doing very well for themselves--better than us in some regards. So, why aren't they paying for their own damn defense?!! And do we really need troops in Italy and fighting a failing drug war in Central and South America? The Republicans better wake up quick or else they'll be back out on their rich asses in 2012.

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Rep. Polis of Colorado Pushes Decriminalization of Marijuana at the Federal Level.

If Colorado was allowed to treat marijuana like alcohol — or any other medicine, for that matter — pot dispensaries could freely set up business bank accounts without fear of federal prosecution and marijuana could, like corn and wheat, be grown openly in national forests.

This is according to U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, a Boulder Democrat, who said he plans to push a law in the new Congress that would decriminalize marijuana at the federal level so that states with medicinal laws on the books, like Colorado, could treat it as they wish. Under Polis' structure, marijuana laws would be extremely local — similar to states that have so-called dry, alcohol- free counties.

"It's not in the federal government's realm," Polis said. "I'm proud of Colorado being a pioneer in this regard and setting up a regulatory structure. We've benefited in tax revenues and I think it's dealt a big blow to criminalize it."

TPJ: I'm proud of Colorado too. Our pioneer spirit has bred a very strong desire of independence, which often is most evident in personal independence. In other words, "If I'm not hurting anyone, leave me alone." We favor personal liberties over authoritarian power structures that often over-reach their authority.

Marijuana use has never directly killed ANYONE--EVER; It's virtually impossible to over-dose on. It isn't nearly as addictive (if at all) as alcohol or cigarettes and the sales taxes from it have helped Colorado weather the Great Recession!! I have heard from several news outlets that many, many politicians actually support legalizing marijuana but are too afraid to stand up for it.

So, as usual, we the people will have to do most of the work in pushing the politicians to do the right thing. Thankfully, people like Representative Polis are stepping up and it is important that we acknowledge such an action. Please, call his office (202) 225-2161) or send an email. if you have a few minutes and tell him you are glad he is taking this issue on. And, if you can--donate to his campaign. LET FREEDOM RING!!

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Tuesday, January 04, 2011

POLL: Opposition to Obama Health Care Law Over-Stated.

Overall, 54 percent oppose the law, down five points from March, with 43 percent in favor of the measure, up four points from earlier this year. But roughly a quarter of those who oppose the new law do so because it is not liberal enough. Only 37 percent of the public opposes the new law because it is too liberal.

TPJ: I think it is safe to assume that those who oppose it because it's, "not liberal enough" in their view, do so because they think it's the right direction but not going far enough toward a true, universal system. So, if you throw the "No, but only because I want more" crowd to the 43% who outright support it, you get 53% who general support the direction of the law. So, for the right to say that a huge majority oppose this health care reform law is pure hyperbole.

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