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Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

money_handfullI’ve been watching and listening to the pundits hem-and-haw over the politics surrounding the stimulus bill, with all the hub-bub over tax cuts. I’m still waiting for and wondering when the transparency part will come in.

I don’t think politicians understand the concept of transparency. If they’re going to be spending our money, shouldn’t we be more fully informed about how all this money is being spent? Perhaps if we, the people, were told in plain English the who, what, when, where and how, we’d be more supportive and a lot more confident.

I just read an article by CNN that shows the items that got cut or partially cut from the bill that may be passed this weekend.

While I haven’t looked for info about what is included, just looking at some of the things that were cut gave me pause to wonder why some were included in the first place and why some were cut.

For example, the total for NASA amounting to $50 million was cut out altogether. I’m not sure that was a bad thing, especially with our current economic situation. However I am certainly a supporter of NASA for a lot of reasons, and if you look at what we’re going to end up spending, $50 million seems rather insignificant for a program that will benefit us in the future. What they learn there may ultimately be our salvation.

To be transparent, what I believe we need to know is how each and every item on the list will stimulate our economy? Exactly how will this money be spent? What programs will it benefit, and how will that directly affect us now and in the future? What are the related industries and jobs that will benefit from these funds? How many new jobs will be created or protected and what kind of jobs. Where will these new jobs be? I’m an unemployed graphic/media designer. Any programs for us?

While I realize that as more people get back to work, and more money is being spent in our economy, the more companies that hire designers will again be hiring. People need to understand how all this works. While we’re not stupid, we do need for the people in Washington – the supposed “geniuses” running the government – to inform us in a manner that we all can understand. They are our elected representatives, isn’t that their jobs?

That’s how transparent I think our government and this stimulus bill needs to be. We don’t have to be economists to understand when someone is spending our money foolishly. Americans, as a whole, are a lot smarter than the politicians and pundits would have us believe. If we’ve been “stupid” it’s because we’re kept in the dark. Just where they want us to be. While we’re in the dark, they’ve cleverly worked to create the loopholes that continue to screw the rest of us.

Take the September “bailout” for example. How can we trust any politician to manage our money when they allow themselves to be so deceived, so easily, with so much of OUR money? If they had been more thorough, more clearly informed as to the who, what , when, where and how before approving that bill, we would already be in a better position. Not rushing to meet the “demands” of Bush and friends should have been the first priority. The cloud of fear, created and skillfully manipulated by his administration, caused dire panic in Washington, fueled by the media. Quick decisions made to save us  resulted in giving away money we clearly flushed down the toilet. To the benefit of no one it was meant to help. And the economy has gotten worse.

Most people who have to live on $200 a week know how to spend a lot more wisely than you may believe. A lot more wisely – it seems – than Wall Street executives. Thanks to these greedy Wall Street geniuses, many people who had a whole lot more, now must live on a whole lot less. And Wall Street employees still get their bonuses, and continue to live high-on-the-hog, riding the backs of the American people.

It’s time the left hand of the people know what our right hand of government is doing. Clearly and completely.

While the pundits seem to try, they really don’t investigate and report the vital statistics of what is in these bills enough to make listening to them worthwhile. They like – and encourage – the political fight more than reporting the actual truth – the real news that we can use.

Tax cuts. I still can’t understand how cutting taxes is prudent when taxes are our economy’s source of funds. How will we ever see a surplus again if we don’t have a source of revenue?

Isn’t it like saying that by reducing our yearly income, we’ll have more money to spend? It just doesn’t add up to me. I’m not an economist, but isn’t the Bush/Republican tax cuts and war spending responsible for all this trouble in the first place?

Wouldn’t it be great to have that surplus Bush “inherited” right about now?

I’m not any happier than the next guy about the amount of taxes I pay. Yet, I know that they are inevitable and I consider them my share in helping to make our country the luxury palace it is. I don’t mind the government spending it on programs that benefit all sectors of society. Not just the rich or just the poor. It should be used to enhance the quality of life for all citizens.

If it is true, that our system of government is of the people, for the people and by the people, isn’t it time the government reported clearly to us for a change?

Especially when it concerns how they are spending our money.

Is that really too much to ask?

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Back in September, when Bush appeared with the Treasury Secretary  Henry Paulson, urgently needing 700 billion dollars, or rather just some “big” number to bailout our economy – my first thought was that this is a parting gift to Bush’s financial friends.  (As if he hadn’t done enough already!)

My first instincts are usually right, though I don’t always listen.

What we have seen is that that is just what it turned out to be. $200,000 bathroom renovations, a new corporate jet, big bonuses to the very people who claimed how desperate the economic situation was, and the very people responsible for the situation!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, Love George W. Bush.

What color is the sky in their world?

And the people who were supposed to be helped by this? Still waiting.

The situation for most of us regular Americans is dire.  However, the financial industry  simply doesn’t care. As long as they get their bonuses and can buy their jets and renovate their luxury bathrooms, why should they?

We are the peons, they are the princes.

Now, four months later, the new recovery plan is for almost one trillion dollars. Thinking about just how much a trillion dollars is, I was curious to know what that would mean if we, the people, who are the ones who have to pay this back, would get if it were divided up and given to us.

One trillion is a 1 followed by four sets of three zeroes.

$1,000,000,000,000.00

According to one source, the population of the United States is about 303,824,640. If you gave the money directly to each one of us, that would be $3,291.37.

If you used the number of households, which according to one source stated there was 111,162,25 households in the US in 2007, then each family would receive almost $9,000.00. ($8995.86 to be exact.)

I don’t know about you, but I definitely could start to stimulate our economy with my share.

However, for most people, we would just be giving it back to the banks anyway. By the time you get your mortgage up to date, and pay up your credit cards, there’s nothing left to spend, except by using your up to date credit cards.

The banks are going to get it, one way or another.

And just remember, if we include this current “recovery” plan along with the original bailout, we would get almost double.

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I just finished watching a video, caught by a surveillance camera of the actual landing of Flight 1549 on the Hudson. I was amazed at just how smoothly the pilot, Capt. Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger, landed the commercial airliner in the Hudson River.

Beautiful.

Facing a catastrophic situation – Capt. Sully was quick to make a decision and act on it using his piloting skills resulting in minimal injuries and no loss of life. What surely could have had a devastating outcome, became the stuff of legend, heroes and inspired optimism. That, even while fearing the worst, the best can happen.

His well trained crew were also quick to seize the moment and led everyone off the plane to their safe rescue.

What makes us proud to be Americans was also shown as all those on the Hudson who could help came together, worked together and rescued all 150 passengers and 5 flight crew.

At the time, I was also watching the Obama inauguration train arriving in Washington, DC on TV.

Perhaps this extraordinary event – the remarkable safe landing and rescue of Flight 1549 is a good omen for our future.

That in spite of the catastrophe the Bush administration has created and is leaving us with, Obama will be able to seize the moment when he takes the wheel and steer us to safety.

Like the passengers of Flight 1549, we may have to endure a critical time in icy cold, and dangerous water.

Hopefully, Barack Obama will prove to be our Capt. “Sully”; his recent cabinet appointments will be his expert crew. And we, the people, seeing the need will answer the call and do whatever it takes to help salvage our country.

Ah, only three more days to go and Barack Obama will officially be our President.

Godspeed, President Obama.

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Who doesn’t remember where they were the morning of 9/11? When they first heard that one, then another plane had hit the World Trade Center towers. How can we ever forget the footage of the towers plunging to the ground, and the devastation we witnessed that morning?

I remember waking that morning and my husband telling me a plane had hit one of the WTC towers. WHAT?

Jumping out of bed and running to the tv, I witnessed seeing another plane crashing into the second tower. Was I watching a repeat of the event? My husband had said one tower. No – it was happening live, right in front of my eyes. My mind went blank in disbelief, and my husband said – “it has to be terrorists”.

As the media caught up with my husband’s observation, and the connection to the Taliban and Osama bin Laden was made, we witnessed – in shock – how horrible the situation in Afghanistan was under the rule of the Taliban. What horrified me was watching footage of the women being trucked into a public area and shot for menial “crimes”.

It was the plight of the women of Afghanistan that touched my heart.

I also knew that a war was inevitable. It was only a matter of time. America will get Bid Laden. We had no doubt. In that moment, our nation was unified.

At that time, I was taking a video editing class. Our current assignment was a music video, and we were free to use whatever song we desired. Although there were several I had been thinking of using to create this assignment, the magnitude of 9/ll made one stand out as very relevant to this event and my personal feelings about it.

The song, “We Don’t Need Another Hero”, performed by Tina Turner in the movie “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome” seemed to have been written as a preordained commentary to the 9/11 event. As well as a plea from the citizens of Afghanistan and the world.

Here are the lyrics:

Out of the ruins
Out from the wreckage
Can’t make the same mistake this time
We are the children
The last generation
We are the ones they left behind
And I wonder when we are ever gonna change
Living under the fear till nothing else remains

We don’t need another hero
We don’t need to know the way home
All we want is life beyond the thunderdome

Looking for something we can rely on
There’s got to be something better out there
Love and compassion, their day is coming
All else are castles built in the air
And i wonder when we are ever gonna change
Living under the fear till nothing else remains
All the children say

We don’t need another hero
We don’t need to know the way home
All we want is life beyond the thunderdome

So, what do we do with our lives
We leave only a mark
Will our story shine like a light
Or end in the dark
Give it all or nothing

While listening to this song, over and over, I was watching the news almost non-stop. Bid Laden was emerging as a hero to many in the Islamic world. I started recording all the news coverage and other programs about Afghanistan and the tragedy of 9/11 and I used some of this footage in my music video editing assignment. It was and still is a very powerful and moving music video. (I wish I could share this video with you, but I’m uncertain how to do that using the song and plundered tv footage.)

As I sit, writing this blog, I’m listening to the song again – I can’t help the tears that continue to well up as I fathom how great a failure the past 8 years have been toward our goal of getting rid of the people who not only attacked us, but are again gaining ground in Afghanistan.

One of my more ardent objections to going to war in Iraq was that, once again it seemed, we were choosing to abandon the people of a country who truly wanted our help and friendship. People who, with hope, longed for us to rescue them. Is it any wonder that people around the world are just as disgusted with this current American administration as we are? Finding Bid Laden and Al Qaida was the “Just Cause”. Yet, through deception, this administration has bankrupted our country for their own self interests, abandoned those who would have embraced us and created more enemies who pose to cause us more harm.

This administration has not only trampled on our hearts, but also those of the people in the world, who – in spite of everything – still look to America as a symbol of hope, freedom and justice. We’ve all been betrayed.

Obama touched a nerve in all of us during his campaign when he focused his attention on Afghanistan. A country and an opportunity this administration lost has now been found with the incoming new administration. Wrongs can be righted. It is our only hope.

I know it’s not going to be easy. However, as an American, I’ve always known in my heart that finishing the job in Afghanistan is the right thing to do.

For all of us, the people in Afghanistan and the world.

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The new chapter in the Sarah Palin saga is the prospect of a new book about her and her family. Wow! Can’t wait to see it on the shelf at my local Dollar Tree store.

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I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m sick of the all the media coverage of Sarah Palin.

This will be my only comment on this topic. We’re so inundated with Sarah Palin news on the media these days that it is now quite easy for me to return to my real life without watching any news at all.

Prior to the 2008 election, I had stopped watching any news, except for an occasional view of BBC America. What prompted me to totally stop watching? Well, basically the totally biased coverage of the 2000 election was the beginning of the end for me. I felt – as many Republicans complain of now – that the media coverage at that time had a biased slant toward Bush, and not so much Gore. They were more fixated on Clinton’s morality than on Gore. But I continued to watch, even after the election – with one exception. I have never been able to watch and listen to Bush speak. Some say he is intelligent, however I’ve never seen any evidence of that when he speaks. So, whenever he came on the news, I would simply change the channel. As news coverage continued to feature him – the less I watched the news. I never watched any of his State of the Union addresses. Just couldn’t stomach watching or listening.

Then, 9/11 happened. And we all were fixated on that event and the political issues surrounding it. However, I still clicked to any non-news program as soon as Bush came on.

Then the 2004 election. Again, biased coverage toward Bush, against Kerry. So, since I had made my decision to vote for Kerry, and didn’t need the aggravation of biased news coverage – I simply stopped watching the news altogether.

Fast forward to the 2008 Democratic Convention. Since I had stopped watching the news, and the Democratic candidate was Barack Obama, I needed to know more about him. I had hoped that Hillary Clinton would have been the candidate, but that just didn’t happen. I also only knew what people I knew had hinted to along with my own questions about a man with such an unusual name, and how he raised so much money.

After watching the convention, I knew he was the right candidate. A man who can actually articulate thoughts intelligently! How refreshing. I was also impressed that he had graduated from both Columbia and Harvard. And he did so on his own with scholarships and student loans. Yes, he was a community organizer – you know where his heart is. He was a person we can be proud of to represent us to the rest of the world, and that is very important.

What was even more exciting was that I found MSNBC. A station that now had news people who were actually FOR my candidate. I fell in love with Chris Matthews, Keith Oberman and Rachel Maddow. I became addicted to MSNBC. While most other main stream media stations were more positive about Obama, they still didn’t have the heart I found at MSNBC. I was watching Chris, Keith and Rachel almost all night – every show and repeat!

Then the announcement of Sarah Palin as McCain’s running mate. It was clear, from the very first Katie Couric interview, that this was another Bush – a person who can’t articulate her thoughts, (if she has any), or think on her feet. It was obvious to me that she was picked because she’s “pretty”, and because she is a woman and the Republicans thought they could win Hillary supporters on that basis. How out of touch can anyone be to think that Sarah Palin comes even close to the character and accomplishments of Hillary Clinton?

Then media coverage turned into the non-stop Sarah Pain show. I don’t even want to go into all the lies she spouted, or her actual connections of palling around with radical secessionist groups. But I do want to say, that I was amazed at the lack of media coverage of these facts.

While I applaud Keith Oberman and Rachel Maddow on their coverage of this issue, I was disgusted that Chris Matthews did not. Even when come of his guests mentioned the topic of her connection to AIK, he would “sush” them. Chris was enamored with Sarah from the beginning – she’s so pretty.

The most irritating thing during the campaign was that the amount of time MSNBC gave to covering Palin and McCain was far greater than to Obama and Biden.

And the fascination with Sarah Palin continues. Can’t we just let her go the way of Geraldine Ferraro? Maybe they’ve all been “bewitched”.

Maybe it’s a good thing. I’m now almost back to my regular life, watching anything but the news all day. I’ve tried watching Chris, but he’s still infatuated with Sarah – and while Keith and Rachel do focus on other issues – they can’t seem to help themselves. I’m down to watching less than one of their shows each. As soon as Sarah appears – I click to something else – anything else. The thrill of watching all the show repeats has definitely gone.

I’m not surprised to hear that their ratings fell – when we all click to something else – they have no viewers. I’ll try watching, I do like their coverage of everything else. But just know – that as soon as Sarah comes on – I’m gone.

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treeinfog_21This topic has been on my mind a lot lately. Perhaps because of all the media coverage of the California Proposition 8 it stirred up a lot of feelings I have – not only on gay marriage, but also abortion. In many ways the two are similar in that it involves some people trying to enforce their sense of morality onto others.

I’m not gay, but I have known many gay people. Some of the best people I’ve ever known are gay.

When I was much younger, and lived in the NYC area, I, like many professional women in my area, used to hang out in this one particular gay bar. After work, like many men, we’d go for a drink or two to unwind after a hard day at work and there we could enjoy the company of men who were not spitting out lines to get you in the sack, but were intelligent conversationalists. A gay man’s perspective on a lot of issues is the best of both worlds – male and female, and they have a sensitivity to the feelings of others you don’t find in macho man. They were always great listeners. In fact, looking back, I regret that I lost touch with my best “girlfriend” Bill after I got married.

The issue of gay marriage is a lot like the issue of pro-choice. Perhaps gay marriage is the new political twist on the pro-choice, right to life debate.

About a year ago, as I was driving back to North Carolina for Thanksgiving, my mind wandered to a variety of things during the 10 hour trip. As I passed each billboard along I-95, I fantasized about having enough money to create an advertising campaign to promote a business venture I was thinking of using the copious number of signs you’re faced with along that route. As I was driving through the heart of Dixie – Georgia, South Carolina, with all the little Jesus saves and other religious signs along the way, it occurred to me that billboards could be used to put out some powerful messages.

On a ten hour trip, a mind can wander to many different things. Why it turned to pro-choice, I don’t really know. Maybe all the little Jesus saves signs were pissing me off. I was driving through “far right” country, and of course they are the ones who want to force their views of just about everything onto everyone else.

A flash of inspiration, revelation if you will – came over me. God is pro-choice, that’s why he gave us free will!

The gift of free will means He gives us the right to make our own choices – for better or worse – in our own lives. If the choices we make are unacceptable to Him, then that is an issue that is between the individual and his Creator. Not between an individual and another person or group of people.

“Do not judge, lest ye be judged” is a principle that has guided me through life along with the golden rule. In fact, I can’t see how a person can truly live by the golden rule if he or she does render judgment onto another. In judgment, our hearts are not pure.

That doesn’t mean that another person’s choices are right for you. If your own personal opinion about abortion or homosexuality is that it’s not right for you based on any principle you have – (religious or otherwise) – then that’s OK. But when you believe that you must stamp out the God given gift of free will to other people, you are in fact depriving others of that same gift.

I respect the Right to Life. However, I think that until a baby is actually born, until it takes its first breath of life, its fate will always remain with that of the mother. How many pregnancies naturally terminate in miscarriages? How many pregnancies result in a still birth, where the baby dies while in the womb? No one can say – with true certainty, until the actual birth of a baby, that any pregnancy will result in a new life.

How many babies have been born to mothers who just don’t want them? How many babies have we heard about that were abused and died at the hands of these “caretakers”? If a woman will not give up her baby at birth, and also doesn’t want the burden of motherhood – for whatever reason, then let her make her own choice. Let her use the gift of free will to determine what she believes is the right choice for her. Whether you believe it is right or not should have nothing to do with her own personal decision.

That brings me to the Gay Marriage debate. I think this is an issue, much like the abortion issue, where some want to force government to intervene in what is primarily a personal decision which is quagmired within a religious issue. Seeing that the forefathers of our system of government set it up to have a division of church and state, I see this issue as government overstepping into the personal rights of others.

Marriage is traditionally between a man and a woman. I’m not sure when it was required to have an “official” marriage license, but I do know that marriages in ancient history were sanctioned by a religious ceremony – not by a government. In God’s eyes, an “official” marriage license is not required. Only the government and divorce lawyers need that.

I suppose the need of government to have some legal verification that two people were actually married was so that when one partner died, or the two decided to part, that an equitable division of property could be litigated. A “legal” marriage also allows one partner to have a voice in difficult decisions when the other partner needs medical care and is unable to make decisions for themselves. Who else would you want making decisions for you except a person who you love and who loves you?

I know that many gay people are opposed to “civil union”. However, that is exactly what a “legal” marriage is. A legal partnership. Nothing more in the eyes of the law. It’s two people who enter this partnership because they love and cherish the other. They want to share all they have together – til death do they part. (Or until they decide they don’t want to be married anymore.)

While it’s true, that legally, marriage is nothing more than a partnership, the premise of “marriage” denotes a partnership that transcends a legal document. The love between two people who love and care for and about each other does transcend a simple document. Marriage does imply a sacredness of passionate devotion between two people. I think that people who need a special ceremony to seal this element of marriage seek this as a blessing. I don’t see any problem with doing this with or without a “legal” document. However, the legal rights two people wish to give each other still needs to be recognized by the government.

While people opposed to gay marriage may revel in denying others this legal right, it will not prevent two people – of any race or creed – of loving and being devoted to each other. It will not stop them of having wedding ceremonies where they confess their love for each other. The only thing they do is deny these people of the civil rights they deserve as citizens. Rights that these opponents have decided – because of their religious belief – that only a man and a woman can share.

Like abortion, who you marry is a personal decision and should not be “governed”. If you feel that God’s gift of free will is given freely to everyone, then – without judgment – you should feel compelled to live and let live. Do what your own conscious guides you – personally – to do, and don’t condemn others when their choices differ from yours.

If love for one another – for all mankind – is our highest principle, then let us accept with joy and without judgment – those who wish to honor the sanctity of two people who desire to declare their love and care for each other.

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