Archives for: May 2011
The Medicare issue is something Republicans see as a subset of a much larger issue that they see as underplayed: the national debt. So here's how their plan addresses that critical issue.
Once you subtract all the slashes against little kids and seniors, once you reduce health care costs by privatizing Medicare and cutting back health care for poor folks, then balance that against tax cuts for the extremely wealthy, the Republican plan for reducing deficits can be summed up with the following bullet points:
- President Obama will end the war in Iraq and successfully reduce the threat in Afghanistan with fewer troops and expenditures.
Yup. That's the Republican deficit reduction plan. Obama will be a phenomenally successful Commander-in-Chief. I hope that part of it works.
The other part accomplishes a policy change, but no debt reduction. Giving retiring grandparents a set of vouchers and an encouraging pat on the back will do nothing to reduce the deficit, nothing to make Medicare more solvent, nothing at all for the future because all of it, all and then some, will go to the wealthiest Americans.
Here's the math:
Savings from Medicare Privatization
- More Tax Cuts for the Extremely Wealthy
Less Than Nothing At All
But the Republican Plan does encompass a bit more.
Less Than Nothing At All
+ Slashes to Education for Little Kids
+ Slashes for Medicaid and other Programs
+ Cuts for Veterans' Programs
Not much more than Nothing At All
But that can't be the end of it, right? Republicans did promise deficit reductions.
So here's the rest:
Not much more than Nothing At All
+ Obama pulls remaining troops out of Iraq (saves lots)
+ Obama reduces troops levels in Afghanistan to minimum levels (even more)
The entire Republican Deficit Reduction Plan (ALL of it)
Republicans are being urged to explain their program again. I am a partisan Democrat. Let me add my voice. Yes, yes, please take every opportunity to explain.
You can download the Health Care Freedom Amendment petition by clicking here. As you go to events this weekend in honor of our Armed Forces and the sacrifices made by generations of courageous Americans, I hope you will consider taking the petition with you and circulating it to your friends and family.
- - Kevin DeWine, Chairman, Ohio Republican Party, May 30, 2011
From GOP Memorial Day message
I like drunks. I like talking to drunks. I like being with drunks.
I am a drunk.
- - Judge Gary Larson, retiring in Hennepin County MN, May 29, 2011
A recovering alcoholic of 22 years, Larson has been known to step down
from the bench to embrace defendants who surpass sobriety milestones.
This chance meeting years ago has stayed with me:
Last evening he reacted with amazement. "You gotta be kidding me!" I had just mentioned I was writing about him. I thought for a moment he might object. As it is, I hope he forgives me for the details I may have gotten wrong.
It was one of several encounters I had happened upon with this impressive, self-deprecating man. I often stop by the local library, and that's where we kept bumping into each other. The first time, he was trying to recover a lost file on a library computer. I tried to help him, unsuccessfully as it turned out. We talked about the coming election. He was for McCain, I for Obama.
Then he told me a little of himself. He is a war hero from the Vietnam era. That's my description not his. He seems hesitant as he talks about it, and he talks about it sparingly. "I just went a little crazy," he says. His "craziness" saved others who were in mortal danger, pinned down and taking enemy fire. He was later awarded the Bronze Star for bravery. That medal is awarded for any of several acts, but when earned for bravery in combat, it is the fourth highest possible military citation given by the U.S. Armed Forces.
For years, modesty and uncertainty of how it might be regarded prompted him to keep the award stored out of view. He would not expose this symbol to derision. It was his father who changed his mind. His dad had served in the Air Force in World War Two, flying over the Empire of Japan with General Curtis Lemay. He confessed to his son that he felt just a little envious. The younger veteran was incredulous and so his father explained, it was that hidden Bronze Star. The son objected. The old man was a hero many times over. He pointed to the many ribbons, medals, and awards the elder hero had on his own wall. "But I never earned a Bronze Star," the father stated simply.
They are everywhere, these heroes who have our lasting thanks and admiration, earned in far off lands. They are lucky to have made it back, and we are blessed in having them back. A choir director, members at church, workmates, and casual acquaintances are among them. There are many more unknowingly met in bank lines and pharmacies, the routine encounters that are part of everyday life. I have a letter from a onetime coworker, recently assigned to Afghanistan. He has my prayers until the moment he returns.
My friend in the library had a special relationship with his dad. They each shared an admiration of the other, quiet and well deserved. The last act of that regard came as the son gazed into an open casket. He placed next to his father the Bronze Star that had been awarded for an act of desperation decades ago in a land far away.
The father had chosen his son well.
(first published November, 2008)
I said it many times—this is like skinny dipping. Somebody has to be the first one in the pool and it is real lonely when you‘re the only one in the pool.
Paul Ryan is in the pool. We want the rest of the town to come along.
- - Representative Jack Kingston (R-GA), May 26, 2011
My brother Owen was 11 and I was 6 when the Soviets launched Sputnik. The race to space was on, and the United States was already behind. Not only that - the Soviets had nuclear weapons. So, America was terrified.
My parents sat me and Owen down in our living room and told us it was our job to study math and science to defeat the Soviets.
Now, I thought that was a lot of pressure to put on a six-year-old and an 11-year-old.
- - Senator Al Franken (D-MN), Monday, May 16, 2011
Commencement Address, University of Minnesota,
College of Food, Agriculture and Natural Resource Sciences
Logic: If people can lose their jobs for vile language against gays and women, people should be put in prison for offending the Lord.
Question: Can T.Paine and Burr Deming get JMyste rehabilitated in time?
In response to JMyste's Misty Biblical Morality
John, I have a distinct feeling that I could make a career just arguing point and counter-point with you each and every day, my good friend! (At least until you finally had that inevitable epiphany and came to the full realization that arguing against conservatism, capitalism, and Christianity is simply counter to common sense and ultimately from the truth!) :-) That said, I realize the futility of my arguments against yours at this point in time, as I am certainly not going to change your mind now. Nonetheless, I feel obligated to make at least a few comments in the short time I have available to write.
First, you state, "The non literalist completely creates God in his own image. The literalist tries to follow God, to create Him less." My response to this, while obvious and true to my tortured mind, may upset some folks. Such is definitely not my intention. That said, until Martin Luther came around some 1500 years after Christ, the ONLY Christian church was the one founded by Jesus Christ himself. That church was and is the Catholic Church. Christ placed St. Peter, his apostle, as the head of this new church according to scripture when he said, "And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hell will not overcome it." (Matthew 16:18)
Peter is thus realized by Catholics as the first leader of Christ's church on earth; the first pope. Now bearing with me please, it was the Catholic Church that determined which books were indeed divinely inspired and warranted being a part of the scriptural canon that became the Bible. That said, many of the teachings of the church were passed down orally and through repetition in practice long before the Bible's existence. Just as a father would teach his trade of carpentry or masonry etc. to his son, so would the apostles pass down the sacraments of the breaking of the bread and the prayers and parables that Christ taught them.
Catholicism by its very nature teaches that scripture is often not meant to be taken literally, particularly as applied to the Torah and the Old Testament. Rather, many of the concepts and stories told there are meant to teach lessons. It is why Christ often spoke in parables to teach lessons in the New Testament. I used the analogy of a child and parent before, which you did an amazing job of finding a few holes in my analogy accordingly. That in no way eradicates my points made, but simply points to the truth that my lack of imagination in coming up with a better analogy was lacking.
Anyway, as I continually digress, let me return to topic and point out that the perhaps in-aptly named "non-literalists" were indeed the ONLY Christians present for a millennia and a half, until Martin Luther threw out certain books of the Bible and re-structured part of the Christian faith into a Protestant schism from the universal Christian church. My point is that if the very church that Christ himself established was never intended to necessarily have a literal interpretation of the tenets of the faith thereof, how can one assume that a literalist interpretation two thousand years later is the correct path and one more faithful to God?
You yourself point out the tortured contortions that the literalist must make in trying to remain faithful to God in obeying and abiding by seemingly contradictory texts and passages due to their lack of understanding or context of the reason for those challenging passages. While it is true that mankind does try to create God in his own image, particularly for many non-literalists, that is not necessarily due to a lack of understanding of what Christ and scripture was intended to convey.
I realize that there is a slippery path here though, when one is inclined to speak for God and what He meant. Indeed the new atheism today seems to manifest itself as, "There is a God, and He thinks just like me!" That is a path I try not to ever start down. If I don't understand something scripturally or supposedly taught by Christ, I don't try to twist it into something different with which I am more comfortable. That is something that many a literalist and non-literalist do attempt though. I try to follow and worship God as He wishes me to do, not as I would like to do. That, I hope, is the difference.
Lastly, I would submit that God, even in the person of the Father, does not hate homosexuals as you asserted. It is not the person, His creation, that God abhors, but rather the sinful actions of the person that God detests. Not unlike someone stricken by a disease or having a propensity for addiction, I think that God gives each of us our own crosses to bear in order that we may turn to him in trying to overcome or learning to live with these things. So too, in my humble opinion, is the case with homosexuality. It is not the sinner that God hates, but rather the sin itself. The task that we as Christians have is not to condemn our brothers and sisters because of the burdens, the crosses, that they bear, but rather to love them anyway, even when they fall into sin as we all do, myself absolutely included.
After all, it is these challenges, these born crosses, that if we are able to overcome through Christ's love and mercy that teach us and strengthen us in courage and spirit. Succumbing to the sin or laying down one's cross without even fighting to struggle forward is where we fail to learn the lesson. After all, like the old saying,: taking the path of least resistance makes for crooked rivers and crooked men.
Recordings of the song were banned by the South African Apartheid government.
Hard to believe some US politicians were opposed to freeing Nelson Mandela.
Responding to JMyste's
Don't Blame GOP Heartlessness for GOP Mindlessness
In my first response to our beloved but politically misguided friend, John Myste, I posed the question, "Do we assume that the only fair way to fix this problem is to ensure equal outcomes instead of trying to have equal opportunities by penalizing the producers and subsidizing those that don't produce?"
John begins his rebuttal by stating, “I have NEVER heard a real life liberal propose this or believe it. Only FOX news and FOX news parrots ask this question. It does not represent the liberal position, as all conservatives realize.” Really John? I would submit to you that this is precisely the liberal position regarding most issues, even if it is not specifically articulated by the left as such, except in rare moments of candor.
The whole class warfare scheme that is constantly harped upon by the left is an excellent example of this mindset. While I do agree that the poor should not be taxed above their ability to pay, I certainly don’t think the wealthy are getting a free ride. Again, I refer you to the independent TaxFoundation.org which shows that the tax burden of the top 1% of wage earners now exceeds that of the bottom 95% of wage earners. See: http://www.taxfoundation.org/taxdata/show/24955.html.
Despite this, the left is still decrying how difficult things are for the poor and middle class and how those evil rich folks that “won life’s lottery” are taking advantage as we give more tax breaks to the rich. While it is true that times are exceedingly tough for the poor and many in the middle class, myself included, further redistribution of wealth through even higher taxation of the rich will not level that playing field and restore the semblance of equality for which the left seemingly longs.
I would give you another example of this desiring-equal-outcomes mindset that has manifested itself in recent years amongst many of our liberal friends of color. Leaders in the black community such as Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson have decried the plight of the poor amongst their communities, and understandably so. Their solution, however, is once again to punish the producers and subsidize others, this time through “reparations” to these good folks for the crimes of slavery perpetrated against their ancestors by other American’s ancestors. The concept behind it is ludicrous, and yet this is another manifestation of this phenomena in the liberal mindset.
If I had the time, motivation, and wherewithal I am sure I could find you some startling quotations to further back up my assertion, sir.
John, you do make an excellent point with which I wholeheartedly agree when you stated, “Opportunity and ability to seize it are inextricably bound.” Indeed, THAT is exactly my point, my friend! We, as Americans, should be working to increase the likelihood of a person to be able to seize the opportunities that exist for nearly all Americans. The key to this, I would submit to you, is to help to change the culture where education is valued and something of which one should take full advantage in order to better seize those opportunities. In other words, we work to improve the opportunities and the ability to seize them for ALL Americans!
Far too many kids skip school, or think of school as a place for socializing, rather than focusing on the primary purpose of the institution. Further, many parents don’t care and demand that their kids attempt to learn and achieve. It is this lack of value in our culture for education that is at the root of a person’s inability to seize those opportunities that abound in America. It is this reason why other nations are outstripping America in recent decades.
I, personally, have no problem helping those poorer folks that are putting forth great effort to better themselves, but I don’t think we achieve that success for which those people are striving by penalizing others to get there. To me, I would rather continue to take the conservative view of striving to increase the ability for folks to have an equal sharing of opportunities rather than the have the result be the equal sharing of misery that outcome-based politics guarantees.
Slant Right's John Houk has investigated by clicking on Pajamas Media and discovered that labor unions are part of an international communist conspiracy along with President Obama. Or something.
T. Paine's Saving Common Sense revives a seriously debunked complaint, that a disproportionate number of health care waivers went to Nancy Pelosi's district. Actually, one health care administrator applied for a ton of waivers all at once. The company is owned by a Republican who is usually hostile to Democrats and was responding to a local health ordinance. T. Paine is a very busy writer who frequently contributes excellent writing skills here. He is way too busy for mere fact checking.
Chuck Thinks Right is irritated that dirty rotten Democrats won a Republican seat in conservative upstate NY. It's all because of Medicare. Plus, says Chuck, some conservative voters are really stupid. Biting my lip until it bleeds.
Tommy Christopher of Mediaite fame reports on the NY election result and President Obama's official reaction. Tommy mentions speculation that the election may be a bellwether on Medicare privatization.
Ned Williams at Wisdom Is Vindicated says discrimination against older teachers is not really age discrimination. Older employees, including teachers, have, over their working lives, gotten pay raises. Younger employees are paid less, so it makes economic sense to fire all the older people first. We've always thought of Ned as being on the cutting edge of contemporary conservative thought. He definitely has a vision of where the GOP will be going next.
R.J.Opus, residing in Mad Mike's America says there is no more relationship between climate change and tornadoes devastating populated areas here in Missouri than there is between cigarettes and cancer. Just ask any tobacco executive. I suspect his sincerity may not be completely genuine.
- Max's Dad experiences the loss of another sports legend.
Washington (CNN) – Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich encouraged Congressional Republicans Wednesday to fight for the Republican Medicare proposal, despite his past criticism of the plan and the Republican loss in Tuesday's New York special election that became a referendum on the proposal.
It is excellent advice, and Republicans should take it.
Unethical, liberal, Mediscare, Democrats, like ... well ... me, have been accusing Republicans of trying to "phase out" Medicare. In fact, as Republicans point out, they only want to make the program solvent by replacing it, uh, with something completely different. This is not "phasing out" the popular program. Replacement is not ending.
In fact, all the Republican plan would do is to stop government from ever again directly paying medical bills for the elderly. In the replacement program, retired people would be given freedom of choice. They could compare all the intricacies of different private programs offered by insurance providers. The federal government would help out seniors with a set of vouchers as they pay for the private premiums on their own.
Everyone acknowledges that health care costs are out of control. It is a budget buster. Democrats want the government to take steps to reduce costs. Republicans don't like that because the government will end up pressuring huge corporations to reduce profits. This is against free enterprise, which is what America is all about.
Individual Americans, in this case the elderly, can accomplish more with individual independent action than government can. It is a vital difference in approach. Republicans point out that government action is collective, collectives are communes, communes are communistic, and we certainly don't want that. Reducing health care costs through individual action may seem rugged, especially for the infirm. But this country was built on individualism. Rugged individualism.
Republicans have been taking a beating, in no small part because the cuts they offer, in such programs as medical care for the elderly and Head Start for little kids, will be diverted to additional tax cuts for the extremely wealthy. As Paul Ryan (R-WI) explains it, "Leaders are elected to lead. I don’t consult polls to tell me what my principals are or what my policies should be. Leaders change the polls. And we are leading in the House."
Ryan contrasts the Republican plan of individual responsibility for reducing medical costs with the Democratic approach which gives that responsibility to the federal government. "Rather than putting the government in charge, our plan provides financial support to help future Medicare patients pay for the insurance plan that works best for them and their families."
Conservatives point out that voters are turning against the GOP mostly because Republicans have not clearly explained the privatization program. Voters would embrace the Republican approach, not only concerning the abolition of Medicare but the elimination of a host of programs for children, the unemployed, and the impoverished, if they just understood it better.
Basic principles of self-reliance have always provoked some resistance, particularly in a culture trained in dependency. It takes bold leadership and clear communication to get the message across. Representative Rob Woodall (R-GA) showed just that leadership with one senior citizen during a town hall meeting.
“Hear yourself, ma’am. Hear yourself,” Woodall told the woman. “You want the government to take care of you, because your employer decided not to take care of you. My question is, ‘When do I decide I’m going to take care of me?’”
As Gingrich points out, and as Ryan and Woodall show by example, Republicans would enjoy widespread support once again if they simply campaigned on a platform of clarity.
Conservatives must focus on explaining Medicare replacement, elimination, privatization, voucherization, ending, not ending, whatever focus groups lead them to call it.
The American electorate, armed with new understanding, will most certainly show the degree with which they appreciate such policies. In fact, the direction of national politics may hinge on how much they show their appreciation, now and for generations to come. All Republicans need to do is to explain it, explain it, and explain it some more.
If conservatives stand firm on their principles, the nation will react. Woodall speaks for many successful self-reliant people who have achieved complete independence from Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.
"I’m going to take care of me."
With that sort of explanation, it all becomes clear as crystal.
(Note: T. Paine commented on JMyste's
In Semi-Defense of the Republican Heart as follows:
If we don't think the public is smart enough to look out for their best interests and only government can adequately fulfill that roll, then what is next?
Do we assume that the only fair way to fix this problem is to ensure equal outcomes instead of trying to have equal opportunities by penalizing the producers and subsidizing those that don't produce? In other words, is Karl Marx right?)
So what then, my friend, is your solution to the problem? If attempts to level the playing field and provide some semblance of an equal opportunity do not exist, than what is the solution?
If we don't think the public is smart enough to look out for their best interests and only government can adequately fulfill that roll, then what is next?
Do we assume that the only fair way to fix this problem is to ensure equal outcomes instead of trying to have equal opportunities by penalizing the producers and subsidizing those that don't produce? In other words, is Karl Marx right?
Mr. T. Paine asked: "Do we assume that the only fair way to fix this problem is to ensure equal outcomes instead of trying to have equal opportunities by penalizing the producers and subsidizing those that don't produce?"
I have NEVER heard a real life liberal propose this or believe it. Only FOX news and FOX news parrots ask this question. It is does not represent the liberal position, as all conservatives realize. If you don't understand the liberal position, trying to refute it is pointless.
Liberals obviously do not believe anyone should "ensure" equality, or in any other way compromise the capitalistic idea of the American Dream. Being intellectually honest about equal opportunity, what it is and what it is not, is not tantamount to this Republican proposal. I reject this Republican proposal as socialist. I think they should come up with a different idea.
Liberals want to lessen tax as the ability to pay it lessons. They consider this just. Conservatives argue that everyone has "equal opportunity," even if they do not have the ability to use that opportunity equally. Intellectually honest liberals admit that this assumption is false. Opportunity and ability to seize it are inextricably bound.
Republicans claim that vouchers could work if the elderly were wise enough to haggle appropriately with insurance companies. My article neither supports or attacks vouchers versus Medicare. It simply points out the fallacy of conservative thought: If the elderly were capable of things that we know they are not all capable of, then vouchers would be a good solution. Therefore, vouchers are a good solution.
The absurdity of the logic is amusing to me. That's all. It is for this reason, that I wrote the defense of Republicans in the first place. The liberal camp is trying to act as if the faulty Republican logic is indicative of heartlessness. They are not heartless because Rush Limbaugh and FOX news brainwashed them, and they repeat what they learned by rote without applying reason to it or examining it for known fallacies. I am sick and tired of my liberal camp taking out their frustration on my innocent Republican brethren, just because they are frustrated with the intentional deception practiced by FOX News and Rush Limbaugh. It like blaming a bullet for murder.
In response to Raymond's Slamming GOP on Auto Rescue
Hmmm... nice DNC advertisement. Too bad it is a little shy on the facts, sir. Please see the two links below for the meat of my rebuttal here.
Quoting from The Atlantic story,
About $40 billion of the money that the government gave GM was converted to GM common stock. In the November IPO, the government made about $20 billion selling 478 million shares, leaving us with around $20 billion more to recoup on our remaining 26.5% stake in the company. That means we need to sell the approximately 365 million shares we have left at about $55 per share, net of underwriting and legal costs. At the current share price of $31, we'd be left with a loss somewhere north of $9 billion--plus the $1 billion we gave the "old GM" to wind things up, and the $2.1 billion worth of GM preferred stock we own. Since I don't know the details of the preferred transaction, I'll leave that out, which gives us a loss after expenses of $10 to $11 billion on our investment in GM.
But of course, that assumes that the current share price holds. It could well fall over the next few months--or when the government dumps an enormous new supply of GM stock on a market that isn't showing all that much enthusiasm for the product.
Far better to have let GM and Chrysler go through bankruptcy and shed most of their debt through re-structuring, especially the unsustainable union labor contracts that they had which added thousands of dollars in legacy costs to every car GM made simply to pay for pensions and benefits for union members. No wonder GM wasn't competitive with foreign auto makers!
Instead, Congress and President Obama decided to federalize a private corporation, fire the executives, put in place their own executive team, tell them what their salaries would be, tell them what cars they would make (no more Hummer and Pontiac!), and then give the assets of the company to the union members instead of the debt holders and stock holders! Hugo Chavez is quite proud of Obama accordingly.
The fact that the outcry from the public has been minimal scares the hell out of me when the federal government can seize, by law now, any company it deems too big to fail. There were already structures in place for dealing with corporate mismanagement. It is called bankruptcy. Chances would have been far better for the long term survivability of GM had they taken that route. I assure you their troubles, due to the current path taken, have only been delayed and NOT solved, accordingly, sir. Of course, that doesn’t really matter though, because GM will likely survive long enough for Obama to attempt his re-election campaign in 2012, and isn’t that what really matters?
Billionaire businessman Donald Trump, who staged a weeks-long public campaign questioning Barack Obama's eligibility to be president during March and April – and rose to the top of the pool of potential candidates for the 2012 GOP nomination then as a result – says he believes the "birth certificate" released by the White House is forged.
The Republican voucher plan, among its many other flaws, assumes that the elderly can correctly select the right insurance company and will not be exploited by effective marketing from the insurance companies with the largest bankrolls. That is a big assumption. I don’t think I could find the best deal, or even a good one, and my mind is sharp as a Republican tack.
It is the same mistake they make with “fair taxation.” They assume that all people have “equal” opportunity, so everyone should be taxed “equally.” The fact that equal opportunity is not possible unless everyone has equal skills to take advantage of it is irrelevant to their assumption, even though it invalidates it.
Their whole fiscal philosophy is built on patently false assumptions that aim to be fair if those false assumptions are true.
Some, like our friend Mr. Jodell, attack conservatives as heartless and mean. I find myself again feeling the need to defend my Republican brothers. Lack of ability to reason sensibly in a given philosophical does not make one mean.
Defense of Republican socio-fiscal philosophy complete.