GOP Waste List in Senate Spending Bill

February 3, 2009

See CNN story here:

http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/02/02/gop.stimulus.worries/index.html

I have two big problems with this list.  One, the total amount of the “pork” that the GOP has found is 19.0905 (if I’ve used my Calculator right) Billion.  Not that 19 Billion isn’t a lot of money, but it makes up just over 2% of the stimulus bill.  If you agree with 98% of something, I feel that “compromise” should cover the other 2. 

Second, I reject the idea that most (not all) of the provisions they’ve mentioned don’t go towards stimulating the economy.  Recently I heard someone say something rather interesting on the radio.  It went something like this: “If the sole objective of the Government is to create the greatest number of jobs per dollar they should spend half of the $900 billion to pay unemployed Americans to dig a ditch and the other half to have it filled back in again.”  His point, of course, was that mere “job creation” is not the goal, but job creation that is good for America.  Keeping that in mind, here is a rundown of the GOP’s objection list.

• $2 billion earmark to re-start FutureGen, a near-zero emissions coal power plant in Illinois that the Department of Energy defunded last year because it said the project was inefficient. –I’ve never been a big supporter of Clean Coal.  It seems that the consensus from smart people who know more than I do is that it’s pie in the sky.  That being said, a lot of other smart people seem to think it has some potential.  Either way, a clean-coal plant creates jobs across the whole spectrum, from blue-collar plant workers to white-collar researchers.  When Obama talks about “green-jobs” these are it.

• $800 million to buy hybrid vehicles for federal employees and funding for the lease of alternative energy vehicles for use on military installations.   I see this as a “two birds with one stone” solution.  It pumps some money into the American Automobile industry and helps the federal government set a good example on energy conservation.  Also, the displaced non-green vehicles will likely be auctioned.  This will be great for state and local governments which can’t afford new vehicles. 

• $2.885 billion for rural waste disposal programs, the Washington sewer system, canal inspections, flood protection, and Amtrak. Everyone likes to talk about “investing in our infrastructure,” but when it comes time to doing it we seem to chicken out.  Piling up garbage, overflowing sewers, breaking canals, rampant flooding and a broken rail system is all part of our infrastructure.  That 2.885 billion is going to employ a lot of people in a very wide range of professions.  If you were wondering what “public works” meant – that’s it.

• $1 billion for the 2010 Census – The census employs a LOT of short term workers to go count heads.  An accurate counting of persons in the United States is not a wasteful luxury that liberal governments love – it’s a constitutional mandate.  Underfunding it is simply not an option.  From a more political position, it should be noted that the GOP has historically tried to hamper the efforts of the census.  The census tends to show that urban (blue) locations have increased dramatically in population, the result of which is more electoral votes in blue states. 

• $6.005 billion to turn federal buildings into “green” buildings and improving energy efficiency – Again, this easily translates into jobs.  White collar jobs to research green technologies to put into buildings and blue collar jobs to implement them. This also works towards reducing the federal government’s dependence on foreign oil.

• $500 million for state and local fire stations.  – I disagree that adequately funding our nation’s first responders is wasteful pork. 

• $1.36 billion for “youth activities,” including youth summer job programs and for “paid volunteers” at the Corporation for National and Community Service. – As many jobs typically held by high school and college students (such as supermarket cashier) are increasingly taken by displaced adults, providing worthwhile work to our nation’s youth becomes a serious objective.  I could see how this money might end up being wasted, but a world of good might come out of it too.  For the sake of argument though, I’ll include this in waste.

 $934 million for salaries of employees at the FBI, to construct a “security training” facility for State Department Security officers, for the Coast Guard to design a new polar icebreaker (arctic ship). for constructing the Department of Homeland Security headquarters, and for furniture at the new Homeland Security headquarters. – You don’t need to convince me that the US spends too much on its military and domestic counterparts (firefighters and police excepted).  That being said, I’m a little surprised to see the GOP on this side of the argument.  If it were a liberal calling this wasteful they’d be a “Muslim loving traitor who hates his country.”  For the sake of argument though, I’ll include this in the “waste” part. 

• $1.5 Billion  for renovating the headquarters of the Public Health Service, CDC buildings and property, building and repairing National Institutes of Health facilities and for the Centers for Disease Control to screen and prevent STD’s, and substance abuse reduction.  – The argument is that a healthy population is a productive population.  FTSOA though, into the waste it goes. 

 

• $2.6 Billion for Smithsonian museum facilities, wildland fire management on forest service lands, Hollywood movie producers to buy motion picture film,  digital television converter box coupon program, and public computer centers at community colleges. I happen to think that museums, parks, and computers for students are important.  I’d say that its nice of the government, who mandated that some peoples TV’s become obsolete, help cover the costs.  As for the Hollywood thing, that looks like crap to me.  FTSOA though, onto the pile.

I’m now left with 6.394 billion in “waste.”  That pans out to 7/10 of 1percent of the bill.  .007%.  Less than one penny on the dollar.  If 99.3% agreed spending isn’t enough – we’re in serious trouble for the next four years. 

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When the news takes a day off

December 6, 2008

CNN — the most trusted name in news. 

This has been a long time coming.

I’m not sure where to start with this — there is so much wrong with CNN that I find focusing on any one thing hard.  I’ll start with a story linked from their main page today from the segment Prime News.

 “Cheerleaders booted after naked pix [sic].” 

http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/bestoftv/2008/12/04/pn.cheerleader.trouble.cnn

The story, although lacking great detail, seems to suggest that some high school cheerleaders were booted off the team after they sent naked pictures of themselves using cell phone cameras to their boyfriends.  The parents have sued the school.  The story did not, sadly, mention what the stated reason for their ‘booting’ was or the grounds for the suit.  The gentleman, Mike Galandos,  from CNN Prime news, speaking in front of a backdrop with the words “sex crazed teens” scrawled on it.  He asked the audience to come call in, and call in they did, all supporting the schools decision and agreeing that the suit was bogus.  There was also a “doctor” guest talking head who suggested that “getting your kid a phone without a camera” is the solution. 

The phrase “morally presumptuous” does not even begin to describe the situation here.  Where does the school get off on dictating the personal activities of its students?  It’s not like they were having sex on school grounds, or doing anything illegal.  Some students, on their own time, not at school, are engaged in a consensual sexual relationship — and they are being punished for it.  I should also note that there was no mention of any punishment for the men receiving….just the woman sending.  Good for you Mike Galandos — you have fun judging those teenage girls. 

Further research into this Prime News segment (which I had never seen) reveals that it is billed as such. “”Prime News” host Mike Galanosuses the day’s most powerful headlines as a starting point for diverse perspectives and spirited debate. In each show, Galanos challenges newsmakers and experts to help viewers gain a clearer understanding of the “right vs. wrong” conflict playing out across the country every day.”

Are you serious Mike?  You, an employee of a major news network, who has sought to engage Americans and your fellow newsmakers in debates on rights and wrongs in this country picked THIS story?  THIS was the biggest moral quandary you could come up with?  Nothing else is going on in the world of moral ambiguity? 

At this point in my reading and watching I was starting to feel confused — and then I saw the T-Shirt icon — and then it clicked.  If you’ve looked at CNN’s site at all you’ll notice a little picture of a T-Shirt next to some headlines.  The idea is CNN will sell you a shirt with the headline printed on it.  “Cheerleaders booted for naked pix” on a shirt. 

Here’s a suggestion CNN….stop finding stories that make good one-liners for shirts and start reporting the news.

Of Palin, the GOP, sowing succession and reaping rapture

September 9, 2008

My qualms with Gov Palin are quite simple and fundamental: I disagree with almost all of her positions.  The purpose of this article is not, however, an attack on Palin.  Rather it is an observation and a question as to the nations reaction to our politicians, liberal and conservative.

Obama has had one heck of a time proving that he is “American” enough to be president.  Lest you’ve all forgotten, here are some of the criticisms leveled at him.

1) His pastor is a racist, so so is he

2) He’s a muslim (therefore a terrorist?).  Or at least he was a muslim?

3) His name is kind of (but not really) like Osama.

4) His middle name is the same as that bad guy! OMG!

For these things, and more, Obama has been covered in a shit storm of protest from a large chunk of the American people. The conservative right has bred hatred and fear of Obama because of petty reasons.  It’s not new, they always do this.  They tore down Kerry as a “fake war hero” calling him a fraud.

And this brings us to their unlikely choice of Palin.  In review, here are the negative things that have cropped up.

1) She was part of the Alaskan Independence Party (a collection of people who, in short, probably seek succession)(the AIP currently asserts she was never a member)

2) A speaker at her most recent church (not the Pentecostal one she was part of…they speak in tounges!) said that terrorist attacks on Jews in Israel is Gods Judgment.  My readings also seem to turn up some level of fascination with the rapture (at least among Pentecostals).

3) Her kids knocked up!

So….and this is important…..I Dont Care.

That’s right, I don’t care.  I Don’t care of Obama is or was ever a muslim, if Palin is or was ever a pentecostal, if speakers at Obama or Palins church are racist, what strange language either of them mumble in, or if her kid is pregnant.  Doesn’t bother me in the least.

However.  To the GOP, you reap what you sow.

You planted the seeds of an angry campaign, attacking Obama on false or greatly exaggerated claims about his family and his past.  You started this.  And now this is what you deserve to reap.

But (and this is the part that tickles me), you’re not going to reap it.  Why? Because we, the left, aren’t like you.  Sure, a fair number of us on the left ARE going to rant about how Palin is unqualified to be the VP because of the things I mentioned above.  But most of us (like me) aren’t, because we don’t care.  You Tube isn’t going to be overrun with ill-spoken liberals talking about how “Palin isn’t ‘Merican ‘nough ta lead MY country.”  or ” ‘Palins a terrorist because she wants succession.”  Rather, you’ll get a few of those, and just as many liberals as conservatives will tell those people to shut up.

Which brings me to my final point: Take responsibility for the actions and words of those you claim to be in the same party as.

I grow tired of finding moderate republicans who mumble things at me like “well of course I don’t agree with all the racists and bad people in my party.” Then do something about it.  If the intelligent, moderate, non-crazy members of the GOP (of which there are many) really disagree with the hateful tactics of their fellow party members, stand up and say so. Tell them that their tactics aren’t welcome — their hate, not needed.

Of Hillary Supporters and Making Beds

September 8, 2008

The issue of Hillary Supporters For McCain has been somewhat troubling to me as of late. Most of my trouble stems from an inability to lock down the amount of truth in the matter. Sure, the internet is full of self-professed “life long democrats who are voting for McCain who were Hillary Supporters;” but every election has these people, and I’ve always assumed most of them are frauds. That being said, I keep hearing these polls about 50% and 20% that, and those seem like big numbers. My large hold up on the matter is that I haven’t actually found a real live living breathing person who would stand in front of me and say “I liked Hilary, but now I’m going to vote for McCain.”

Regardless, I’m going to assume that there are some of you out there. And for you, I’ve the following questions.

Hillary is for ending the war quickly and bringing our troops home. She is pro choice. She had lofty goals for universal health care. She believes in equal pay for men and woman. She had a sensible energy policy that involved more then a far away short term solution (I refer of course to off-shore drilling).

If you endorsed Hillary, I am assuming that some (or all) of those positions match your own. I am assuming you did not support her merely because of her double X chromosome.

McCain (and Pallin) believe the war could go a hundred years. They are anti-abortion. McCain voted against measure to guarantee equal pay. Drill, Baby, Drill?

I get it, you’re pissed off. You think Hillary got the short end of the stick — that Hillary, the life long political insider and wife to one of the most powerful political men ever lost because the party elite was in the sack with a freshman senator. You want to show the Party that you wont take it, and you’re going to vote for McCain.

You respect Hillary so much you’re willing to sacrifice everything for her. You’re willing to vote for someone you may not even like, just to show her how much you care. The only thing you aren’t willing to do, is vote for the candidate SHE is currently endorsing (Obama).

We know this isn’t about her (if it was you’d respect her and vote for McCain), its about you, and some damned point you have to prove. My question is, is it worth it? My second question is, what will you tell your kids?

What will you tell your daughters when safe legal abortions are no longer available? How will you explain why they don’t earn equal wages to men? What will you tell your sons when they have to go fight in the hundred (or thousand) year Iraq war? To all your children when energy costs are hurtling upwards because we pissed away another 8 years not researching alternative energy? And what, will you tell the, when they ask you why you voted for the man (McCain) who did these things?

When you vote McCain, Obama doesn’t lose, we do.

Never Will I Ever….

April 21, 2008

Never will I ever crucify a politician for making true statements.  I’ll begin by mentioning that I’m an Obama supporter, but would gladly vote for Hillary in the general election (assuming she doesn’t win by some odd method like counting the delegates from Michigan).  I praise Obama for running a cleaner (although it dirties by the day) campaign, although I respect both candidates.  Now that that’s established, 3 true things everyone is wigging out over.

Point 1: Ferraro and related substance

We all remember the Clinton camp member Ferraro.  She was forced to resign upon noting that Mr. Obama would not be the democratic front-runner if he was not black.  She made the fatal mistake of suggesting that race is a critical factor in the election.

Guess what.  IT IS.

Looking at the exit polls 

New York:

Clinton 57% Obama 40% (among black voters Clinton captures only 37% to Obamas 61%)

Among those who voted for Hillary in New York, 85% identified gender as the most important issue.  

In Georgia, where Obama won (67% to 31%), he captured 88% of the black vote.  

Now…is it possible that the fact that Obama regularly scores 20% higher among black voters then overall a coincidence? Yes.  Is it a coincidence? No.

In short, a large part of Obamas success is because he is black.  Not that being black was ever probobly helpful to him in the early stages of his life (as he pointed out as a response to Ferraro), but right now, in this moment, it helps.  The same goes for Hillary. A student at Clark University, I was treated to Hilary coming to speak at my school before Super Tuesday.  The introducing speaker who went before her ended with the following little snippet, which I shall now loosely paraphrase.  “Yesterday, when I dropped my daughter off for 2nd grade, I was able to say, for the first time ever ‘when you grow up you can be anything you want, even President of the United States'” to which of course there was much applause and cheering and joy.  

So, we’re all allowed to cheer because we may have the first Woman President; but we’re not allowed to point out that part of Hillary’s support comes from the fact that she’s a woman. 

Point 2: The Reverend

 His comment was, in essence, that 100 years of violent aggressive foreign policy that smacks of disregard for civilian life may have earned us a few enemies, and that we shouldn’t be surprised that someone hit back in a less-then-gentlemanly way.  Do I think that was the fault of the people in the towers that day that they died? No.  But I don’t think he believes that either.  What he believes is that 9/11 was long in the making, and we didn’t behave in the best way to avoid it.  This is true.  

Point 3: Bitter people

 

 

“You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them.And they fell through the Clinton Administration, and the Bush Administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not.”

“And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

I’m waiting for the offensive part.  Guess what, it sounds rather on-the-mark to me.  Apparently people in Penn find this offensive.  Guess what…I’m really bitter and frustrated.  Polls seem to suggest that most people nationwide are frustrated with the Federal Government.  Now, I suppose Mr. Obama suggests that they aren’t dealing with their frustration in the most constructive way possible, but my guess is that he’s quite correct with his remarks.

 

The interesting part of all of this is that when I talk to friends about these remarks, they all take stance that “well, of course those remarks are true, but they’re not allowed to say them.”  No no no, a thousand times no.  We’ve stumbled through 8 years of a President who babbles nothing but lies and half-truths, I will NOT crucify the current Presidential candidates for making true but “not PC” remarks.  

Why it doesn’t matter if the Patriots lose the Super Bowl

January 28, 2008

That’s not true.  It does matter if the Patriots with the Super Bowl, just not as much as everyone seems to think.  I find myself constantly treated to anti-Pats people (who until this year held no animosity to the team, they merely resent their success).  In fact, I have had one friend go so far as to suggest that they are the “Yankees of football” (not meant as a compliment).  He ignores, of course, the fact that there is a salary cap in football, preventing the money dichotomy of baseball, and Tom Brady was an original Patriots draft pick (the 199th player to be drafted that year) not just some purchased player that another team couldn’t afford.  The most common assertion, however, is that “the Patriots aren’t that good, they only beat my team by X (where x is some small number).” This is followed by the statement “besides, if they lose the Superbowl, this whole season will have been for naught.” 

 Wrong

Even if the Pats lose the Superbowl, even if they had lost to the Chargers, this would have been a landmark season, and they would still, in my mind, have been up there for one of the best teams ever. 

1. Revililization of football:

I do not mean to suggest that football was dying, merely that this seasons Pats have whipped up an uncanny amount of interest. I submit as evidence the December Pats Giants game, the first game to be simulcast since the 1967 Super Bowl I  and the first ever to be simulcast on three networks.  With approx 34 million viewers, it was the most watched regular season game since the ’95 Thanksgiving game, which had 35 million. 

2. Records

Sure, it would be great if the Pats could have a perfect season.  But failing that, we’ll have to “live with”

1) Most TD passes 2) most TD receptions 3) total points in a season 4)Players with a TD (tie, but it shows team diversity) 5) TD’s in a season (75) 6) highest completion percentage in a game; and more Franchise records then is appropriate.  This gives the Pats (assuming the Internets are to be trusted) 37ish NFL records. 

 3. Outstanding displays of athleticism

What? I know.  It’s crazy.  You must understand though that this article comes from someone who likes both the Yankees and the Red Sox, under the rational “they’re both really good at playing baseball.”  People have, on occasion, accused me of being a “front-runner.” I do not entirly deny this claim.  In general, I am uninterested in sports. The only time I ever watched hockey was the ’99 ’00 season (I lived in NJ at the time) when the Devils won the Stanley Cup.  I generally only ever watch the playoffs in Baseball, and this is the first year I’ve really followed the Pats.  However, I do NOT follow and support the winning teams because “I like to be on the winning side.” Rather, I support and follow them because I enjoy outstanding displays of athleticism.  Yes, I get that you like to follow your teams, support them through think and thin, follow the players around, blah blah.  Not for me.  I get it, I appreciate it, I just don’t enjoy it.  What I recall from the ’99 Devils was that they made hockey look easy.  They were fun to watch, not because they did crazy wacky stunts, but because they were solid.  They plade with such grace, elegance, perfection, coordination that sometimes the games looked scripted.  They were awesome.  So are the patriots.  Sure, its fun to watch Brady bomb it Moss, miss, run the same play again, and make it.  But the patriots engage in outstanding displays of athleticism noy only in their “wow” plays (see the fake Statue of Liberty) but also their normal plays.  They aren’t sloppy, they have their shit together.  They are good at everything they do.  Again, grace, elegance, coordination, perfection. 

 So, in short, rock on Patriots.  Even if you lose the Super Bowl, you should be proud of yourselves.  You’re a credit to the Patriot franchise and the NFL. 

“Fairy Tale”

January 13, 2008

I signed onto AOL today to print an email attachment off for my parents today, and was treated to a story about the latest election scandal.  It seems that the Clinton’s have drawn the ire of ‘black leaders’ for making racially insensitive comments.  I have found the video of Bill on youtube, and this is how it goes

[blah blah blah talking about obamas voting record as compared on the Iraq war as compared to how he talks about it in debates, mentioning some speech which was deleted from his site, etc.  Namely that he supported it in his voting, and now says he never did]. “Give me a break. This whole thing is the biggest fairy tale I’ve ever seen.”

 It seems some people have heard “this whole thing is the biggest fairy tale I’ve ever seen” as being essentialy the same as “Because Obama is black, the idea that he could ever be elected to president is a fairy tale.” 

 Now, I will concede that Bill doeshave a way with words, and that it not unknown that he should use subtle ways to communicate things. I will also concede that the word ‘this’ is a pronoun, and as such there is sometimes conusion regarding what it points too.  This is not one of those times.  Racial remarks and prejudice are something that Obama and his supporters should be concerned about, but attempting to cast the Clintons as closet racists over this is doomed to failure because it’s quite obviously just not the case.  I would advise Sharpton and Co to hold their punches until the actual racist remarks start coming from the other side of the isle. 

It is true that Obama has not come out against what Clinton said…but he also hasn’t come out dismissing the complaints.  It would speak volumes to his character if he stood up and said “hey guys, stop worrying about it, because I’m not. ”  This being said, Obama still likely has my vote in the primary. 

An Introduction, a Welcome, and a Beginning

December 31, 2007

Hello,

Hello and welcome to my Blog.  I should like to use this space to tell you a little about myself as well as my motivation for creating a blog.  My name is David, and at the time of writing this post I am a senior at Clark University, a private university in Massachusetts.  I am a philosophy major and an economics minor.  I read the news –not as often as I should–, gripe about the world, listen to music, and do all the other things that a normal college kid does.  So, why am I making a blog?   The motivations are twofold.  I increasingly find myself wondering if I am alone.  I do not mean ‘alone’ in the ‘I have no friends so I went to the Internet for pity’ sense of the word; rather that I sometimes wonder if I’m the only who feels that the best word to sum up the state of affairs of the country is in fact not a word, but some sort of exaggerated-hand-waving-arm-flapping gesture, thing.  So, I look to the wide world of the Internet to see if anyone else out there is on the same page as I am.  While I am confident that some of you will agree with me on most things, I am equally confident that some of you will disagree with me on most things; and certain that none of you will agree with me on everything.  Which takes us to the second purpose of this blog, debate.  It is my hope that this blog will be a place for people to discuss, argue, and debate things.  I have no doubt that every blog writer and forum owner who has come before me has wished his or her blog to be a place of great discourse; and likewise that no writer has ever wished to have his blog filled with tiresome hate mongering by both sides of every issue…but if all of them got to dream, so do I. 

I do not mean to suggest that every topic I discuss on this Blog will be serious.  Quite to the contrary, I fully intent to include things I find amusing, product reviews for stuff I intensely like or dislike, my random thoughts on movies, etc.  I will, however, make a good-faith effort to take advantage of the Categories feature supplied by the fine folks at WordPress. 

Please find below my promise to you, the reader.

1.  I shall make every effort to be sure of my facts (citing as appropriate) when I make statements of fact. 

2.  I sall distinguish as clearly as possible when I am making statement of fact, and when I am stating an opinion.

3.  I will be extremely cautious in my ability to delete or moderate comments and discussion on posts. 

Once more, I welcome you to my blog, welcome your ideas, your thoughts, your feedback and your experiences. 

Respectfully,

David Glenn

Privacy Rights Quotes (Last Updated 12/30/07)

December 31, 2007

1. The essence of a Fourth Amendment violation is “not the breaking of [a person’s] doors, and the rummaging of his drawers,” but rather is “the invasion of his indefeasible right of personal security, personal liberty and private property.”

———————-

2. “The makers of our Constitution undertook to secure conditions favorable to the pursuit of happiness. They recognized the significance of man’s spiritual nature, of his feelings and of his intellect. They knew that only a part of the pain, pleasure and satisfactions of life are to be found in material things. They sought to protect Americans in their beliefs, their thoughts, their emotions and their sensations.”

Privacy Rights Quotes (Last Updated 12/30/07)

December 31, 2007

1. The essence of a Fourth Amendment violation is “not the breaking of [a person’s] doors, and the rummaging of his drawers,” but rather is “the invasion of his indefeasible right of personal security, personal liberty and private property.”

———————-

2. “The makers of our Constitution undertook to secure conditions favorable to the pursuit of happiness. They recognized the significance of man’s spiritual nature, of his feelings and of his intellect. They knew that only a part of the pain, pleasure and satisfactions of life are to be found in material things. They sought to protect Americans in their beliefs, their thoughts, their emotions and their sensations.”