Oh, thats encouraging

TIME.com: Why The Democratic Wave Could Be A Washout — Oct. 2, 2006 — Page 1

Ken Mehlman, chairman of the Republican National Committee, says the opposition hasn’t sold a vision for handling terrorism, Iraq or jobs. He also cites a drop-off in turnout for most Democratic primaries this year as one sign that the Dems aren’t strong enough to mount a takeover of power on Capitol Hill.

This article is a little short on content, but it speaks to what I can’t figure out about the Democratic party. People are abolutely livid about the way things are going with our Republican-led government. All the Democrats have to do is say, “Hi, we’re not Republicans, and we have a plan.” And then demonstrate with a few talking points that they might, in fact, actually have a plan. That’s all they have to do to win just about every contested election in the country.

But they can’t seem to do that. I haven’t seen a poll anywhere that suggests the Democrats are going to win any big battles. It’s disgraceful. Democrats, this is why Republicans make fun of you. You’ve been handed half the elections in the country on a silver platter, and you’ve done nothing at all.

I’ve said it before – if the Democrats don’t take the Presidency and a strong majority in Congress, the party should be disbanded for absolute and utter incompetence.

Not even Republicans are Republican

Michael J. New on Buck Wild: How the Republicans Broke the Bank and Became the Party of Big Government on National Review Online

Even worse, many agencies which have received large budgetary increases are not even remotely related to the war on terror.

Because, of course, if you aren’t fighting the war on terror, obviously you don’t need any money.  Education and health care don’t matter if the terrorists hate our way of life so much they want to kill us.

I’ve often wondered about today’s Republicans.  Previously, being Republican meant small central government, lower taxes, let the local governments take care of as much as possible.  I think that, in general, is a good idea.  The government should step into our lives only when necessary, and then it should do it as gently as possible.  The government exists to help the people live their lives, not as an entity for itself.

But no one seems to want small, localized government these days.  And when the National Review starts bashing Republicans for not being very Republican, you know we’re in trouble.

Stop using terrorism as a political tool

CNN.com – UK lowers threat level to ‘severe’ – Aug 14, 2006

“The threat level is at severe, indicating the high likelihood of an attempted terrorist attack at some stage, and I urge the public to remain vigilant.”

I’m glad that was the British Home Secretary saying that, and not someone from our DHS. It would have been really embarrassing if Chertoff said something that dumb. Now, if I had a devoted readership, it would be mere minutes before someone would dig up an equally stupid quote from Chertoff. But, since my devoted readership is about five people, I’m not sure it’s going to happen.

Anyway, the point of this post is not to attack stupid quotes. I mean, if the British government wants to terrify their citizens over the threat of attempted attacks, that’s fine. It’s idiotic, but it’s fine.

The point of this post is that all of these security measures are ridiculous. You can bring electronics on this flight, but not that flight. You can only bring a clear plastic bag on this flight, but three days later you can bring a regular carry-on. You can bring a computer or a hair dryer, “provided they are visible at security checkpoints”. So, I’m free to put a bomb in my suitcase and use my hair dryer to set it off, but I ABSOLUTELY MUST ensure that the hair dryer is visible to the security folks.

None of this is making us safe.  This is making us afraid, and this is making it a pain in the ass to travel.  But it does nothing for our safety.  It’s so frustrating that I don’t feel as if there’s anything I can do.  I could make a fuss at the airport, but what will that accomplish?  The people there are just following orders from higher up (If anyone makes a “the Nazis were just following orders, too” comment, I’m going to block your IP.  If I can figure out how to do that.), so complaining to them is useless, and likely to only delay me further.

So I bitch about it here, and to anyone else who will listen.  I’ve heard people suggest that many of these terrorists we’ve caught were planted by the government as an excuse to do things in the name of national security.  I don’t think I’ve sunk quite to the level of paranoia it takes to believe that, but the fact that it doesn’t sound all that far-fetched anymore worries me.

Note to any and all government agencies who may be listening in:  I am not a terrorist.  I am not bringing any bombs on any planes, nor have I ever even seen a bomb.  I love my country, for better or for worse, and have no ties to any terrorist organizations.  When I talk about being free to bring a bomb on a plane, I mean that in a purely hypothetical sense.  I would never actually do it.

This is actually great for the country

CNN.com – Lieberman concedes to Lamont, vows to run in November – Aug 9, 2006

Lamont wins, and now Lieberman is going to run as an independant.  Screw you, two party system!  First, Lamont shows that you don’t have to be the candidate that the national party likes.  You can use the internet to get your name out and bypass the big party machine.  And now, Lieberman shows us that the two party system is not enough, that sometimes you have to go outside the system.  Let’s abolish Democrats and Republicans.  They’ve had their time in the sun.

The danger for Connecticut Democrats, I suppose, is that Lamont and Lieberman split the liberal vote and hand the election to a Republican challenger.  But since Connecticut voters have already made it quite clear that supporting President Bush and his war on civil rights and separation of power is not going to fly, perhaps they’ll get a nice, intelligent Republican who goes against the President because the President has, as a Republican, lost his way.

Is this what it takes to get people to vote?

CNN.com – High turnout in Lieberman-Lamont showdown – Aug 8, 2006

Connecticut Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz predicted Tuesday that turnout for the primary could reach 45 to 50 percent.

So, it takes a Republican pretending to be a Democrat and supporting an unpopular President to get an almost reasonable voter turnout. Congratulations, Connecticut – you’re way ahead of most of the rest of us, although you should still be embarrassed about your turnout.

The rest of the country is watching this race very closely, I know. Many think this is a good indication of what’s going to happen in other states. I hope it is. I would love to see record voter turnouts. Of course, I would always love to see that.

I don’t know that I really have a point here. I don’t really like Lieberman. Lamont obviously has a lot of support in the blog community, which could be good or bad. I think there’s some great stuff coming out of the blog community (Much of it from right here), and I think it’s great to fill in some gaps in the mainstream news coverage and help get people involved and paying attention to the news. But it’s dangerous to put too much stock in a random blogger. Me, for example. I don’t know jack. But sometimes I might sound like I do.

Whether that’s a reason to support Lamont or not, I don’t know. I like to see people using alternative means to promote a candidate, taking power away from the centralized party and the special interest groups and maybe actually responding to the people. But I can’t tell you whether or not their faith in Lamont is misguided.

Okay, I’m done rambling. I don’t know whether Connecticut should have voted for Lamont or Lieberman. I’m just happy that a bunch of them voted.

Hillary, Health Care, and the Morbidly Obese

As you may know, I’m in favor of universal health care, although it would need to be watched carefully to prevent inefficiency and abuse. If every American is guaranteed public schooling, it’s ridiculous not to offer health care as well.

I’ve always wondered, though – how do you stop abuse? I don’t want my tax dollars to go to pay for repeated bypass surgery for someone who refuses to even try to be healthy. Should everyone have to pay for the 400 pound man who smokes two packs a day and never gets off the couch?

I was talking to a friend of a friend of my fiancee, a guy who happens to be a Canadian citizen (Through a rather confusing set of circumstances). The conversation came up just as we were leaving, so it didn’t go as far as I might have liked, but he made the point that there will always be people like that, no matter what is being paid for, and we can’t choose yes or no on universal health care based on that.

It got me thinking. What about the kid in the public school system who cuts class when he can, and sleeps or misbehaves when he can’t? I don’t want to pay for his schooling, either. Or perhaps the couple who fight constantly – I don’t want to pay for the police to come break it up once a week. For any service the government provides, there will be people who abuse it.

So we have to figure out how to prevent abuse. We don’t want people rushing to the emergency room every time they sneeze in search of expensive prescription drugs. We don’t want people to abuse their bodies, knowing that corrective surgery will be available when they need it. We also need to protect the system from abuse by politicians. It would be a matter of minuntes after a universal health care system was put in place before someone tried to pass a law saying that the government would never pay for anything to do with birth control.

So, how can we make this work? I think a co-pay system might help. If people have to pay some amount, it would make them think twice about going to the doctor for something trivial. Of course, there’s virtually no way to keep a co-pay system from being like a regressive tax, and putting more burden on those with lower incomes.

A non-partisan council to determine what is necessary and what is elective might help, as well. Of course, I have no idea how such a council might be created.

So, Hillary, I’ll make you a deal. If you present a realistic and feasible plan for universal health care, I’ll vote for you, despite my misgivings. And I’ll even consent to paying for a bypass surger for the fat smoker on the couch. However, I reserve the right to throw rotten tomatoes at his house while he’s in the hospital.

How does this help the American people?

Senate Rejects Estate, Minimum Wage Bill

The GOP strategy put Democrats in an uncomfortable position. Either they could vote against the bill – thus rejecting a minimum wage increase – or they could vote for it – thus agreeing to cut taxes on multimillion-dollar estates. Most rejected the bill, blocking a GOP victory months before the election.

Never mind that it’s disgraceful that the minimum wage is tied to the whims of politicians rather than some real measure of economic conditions.  That’s a post for another day.  I fail to see who benefits from tying together two unrelated bills.  This is (or should be) an abuse of the system.  If I have a bill that no one wants to vote for, then I tack it on to a bill that everyone wants to vote for, and therefore get my bill passed, that only serves me.  It does not serve the public.

When I vote for Congressmen and Senators, I don’t do it with the idea that my Congressmen and my Senators will fight for exactly what I want at the expense of everyone else.  I vote for them so that they can take some views I agree with into the larger discussions of what’s best for the country.

This particular case is pretty despicable, too.  Bill Frist desperately wants to repeal the estate taxes so that wealthy people can leave more to their wealthy children.  He can’t get enough votes to do it, so he (or someone else, I don’t know) attaches the bill to a raise in the minimum wage.  So, take a bill to help put more tax burden on lower income people, and tie it to a bill that people mistakenly thinks helps some of those same lower income people, and voila!  You have a bill that everyone likes.

Except what we really need is a simplified tax code that treats all income like income, and then makes some exceptions to promote things we want to promote, like saving and investing and charitable contributions.  Then we need to rethink the minimum wage laws.  Yes, I know I said this was for another day, but I’m on a roll.  First, determine what the minimum wage is supposed to do.  Is it supposed to guarantee that a couple on minimum wage can raise a family?  If that’s the case, it’s way too low.  Is it supposed to be a guideline for what to pay a sixteen-year-old kid on his first job?  Well, then it at least needs to incorporate cost of living adjustments.  Whatever it’s supposed to do, it’s broken now, and this bill isn’t going to fix it.

Look, the ABA agrees with me

CNN.com – ABA: Bush violating Constitution – Jul 24, 2006

A little while back I wrote about how some people thought President Bush’s signing statements might be overstepping the bounds of his position:

Honestly, when you have prominent Republicans like Specter saying that our Republican President is overstepping his bounds, we’re all in trouble.

And now the American Bar Association, which might know a thing or two about the law, says that, sure enough, President Bush is doing “grave harm to the separation of powers doctrine”.

Perhaps more worrisome is that those very same people who may lose power to the President are backing him in this.

The ABA report said President Reagan was the first to use the statements as a strategic weapon, and that it was encouraged by then-administration lawyer Samuel Alito — now the newest Supreme Court justice.

That suggests that the Supreme Court might not fight back very hard if something relating to this pracitce came across their respective desks.  It also means that the signing statements might carry more weight if the Supreme Court thinks they’re okay.  Now, that may be reading too much into what could be a coincidence.  But when it comes to the Bush administration serving its own interests under the guise of fighting terror and at the expense of our freedoms, I’m not inclinded to give much benefit of the doubt.

The perils of the Blogosphere

I want people to read my blog.  I have pipe dreams of getting 200,000 unique hits a day and making a living with Google Adsense.  I like to think that I have interesting and humorous things to share with the world (My mommy and my fiancee tell me they think my blog is good). In my quest to expand my readership, I’ve been searching around for other blogs and such where I can contribute a comment with a link back to my site, so that maybe I’ll say something interesting, and someone will come read a post or two here, and they’ll enjoy it, and keep coming back.  So I was poking around at del.icio.us, looking for interesting things to read.  Wow, are there some crazy people out there.  There was one person who dissected and refuted an Onion article, accusing them of pushing their agenda, whatever that is.  I won’t link to the post, because I don’t want to encourage her to post anything ever again.  I found an article from some reputable news site that claimed to talk about politicians in Washington regulating the internet, but never really saying anything.  Politicians regulating the internet is a big deal.  There’s lots to say.  Why write an article about it and not say any of them?  I don’t know, either.

My point is that you never know what you’re going to get when you read a blog.  So you need to be careful.  If you read a story at the Washington Post, or the Wall Street Journal, you’re probably getting someone who at least did some research.  And of course, everything you read here is thoroughly researched, down to the most mundane detail.  I swear.

But what about those scurrilous bloggers who would deceive you with lies and half-truths?  They’re out there.  You’ve got people paid by companies to promote products.  You’ve got insane people making things up as they go along.

I’m here to tell you not to trust anyone.  Except me.  You can trust me.  Just ask my mommy.

And this solves what?

US wants passenger info before overseas departures – Yahoo! News

This article is a little thin on details, but apparently DHS wants to get a list of all passengers on a plane, plus a bunch of info about them, before any plane in another country leaves the gate bound for the US.  Each passenger must then be cleared by customs before the plane can leave. 

Does anyone really think this makes us safer?  Do we somehow have a list of the names and addresses of every terrorist in the world?  If so, maybe we’d be better served by going to their respective houses and asking them to please stop being terrorists. 

This seems like an excellent way to delay plane departures and make a show of making us safe without actually doing anything.  And there’s the added bonus that most of the passengers will blame the airline, not the government.  It’s really a stroke of genius by Homeland Security.