Saturday, December 13, 2008

Can Bill Clinton Save the Planet?

CNN just posted a story with the following headline: Bill Clinton Broadens Plans to Save Planet.  I pictured the planet flying off its axis and going dangerously close to the sun when William Jefferson Clinton flies to the rescue and pushes the planet back into its regular orbit.  With this in mind, I clicked on the story and it basically said that Clinton's organization partnered with the State of Arkansas to fight climate change.  I was so infuriated that CNN had mislead me that I wrote the following comment:

"Bill Clinton broadens plans to save planet?!? What a ridiculous headline. Bill Clinton cannot save the planet. Bill Clinton can't even save 1/10,000 of the planet. To have any plans to save the planet is outrageous. And then, to broaden those plans? Unconscionable. Here is an appropriate headline for you, CNN:

"Bill Clinton partners with Arkansas to fight climate change"

It's not perfect and I'm sure there are better options, but at least it is somewhat reasonable. Maybe people like sensational headlines, but your headlines should seem at least partially plausible.

Understand, this is not a partisan bashing of Bill Clinton and his "plans"; it is a non-partisan bashing of bad headlines, bad journalism, and bad taste. Shape up or I will broaden my plans to destroy the sun…where will you be then?"

On another note, how arrogant are we to think that any of us can save the planet?  The planet has been around for a looooongggg time.  It has suffered some pretty serious disasters and somehow always manages to bounce back.  I think it can handle some humans driving in SUVs.  And, if it can't, the planet will simply get rid of said humans and their SUVs.  This doesn't mean we shouldn't be wise stewards of the planet on which we live - regardless of whether or not we can have an impact on it; just that we should be realistic about our smallness in relation to the planet.

Friday, December 12, 2008

With Every Christmas Card I Write...

I posted this last year on another blog, but I have received requests to post it again.  Since I am a slave to all 2 of my readers, I will post it here...

** I apologize in advance for offending anyone who uses his/her Christmas card as an excuse to brag about how incredibly brilliant, talented, and/or amazing his/her kids are **

You know the Christmas cards I'm talking about, right?  They devote a full paragraph to each of their kids, usually starting out the paragraph with something like, "[kid's name] is our little future President."  Then they proceed to paint the most lovely picture of how each child is extremely talented and has a gifted intellect.  In case you aren't familiar with these kinds of cards, and you would like to write one of your own, I have come up with 10 steps to writing a really conceited Christmas card.  Here they are:

1. Definitely compare your 1 year-old to a genius - past or present.  Among the most popular geniuses are: Einstein, Mozart, Galileo, Shakespeare, etc.

2. By all means, please list every activity in which your child is involved and, of course, excels.

3. In addition to all of the in-your-face "we're-awesome" comments, throw in subtle comments that show how great members of your family are.  Example: "John is still playing a lot of golf - being in the Bishopric hasn't affected his game too much."

4. Project what your child will become in 20-30 years based on his/her present's fun and easy.  Example: 2 year-old Johnny bangs on a little piano, ergo he will be a concert pianist.

5. Write your own ambitions for your children as if they were your children's ambitions.  Example: "Britney( 2 years old) really wants to be a surgeon."

6. Mention a couple of negative things (to show you're humble) in a way that, in the end, show how great you are.  Example: (From Michael Scott; listing his "weaknesses") "I work too hard.  I care too much.  And sometimes I can be too invested in my job."

7. 1 page is not enough.  You should really be pushing 3 or 4.  Don't worry!  People love reading really long Christmas cards.  They don't want an overview...they want the nitty-gritty details.

8. Go very light on information that will help people get to know your kids.  Instead, it is extremely important to list their "accomplishments."

9. Tell us about what "people" say about your child without mentioning who these "people" are.  Example: "People say Elizabeth looks like a model."

10. Remember, the world revolves around you.  Assume that everyone on your Christmas card list is just as interested in every detail of your life as you are.  Always write from that perspective.

Good luck!  I look forward to hearing from you!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Conservative Pride!

Hi! My name is Garrett and I am a conservative. I have always known in my heart that I was conservative. When I was a kid and the other kids talked about abortion and gay marriage I was thinking about my newborn sister and how great it was to have a father and a mother. It was hard. I never felt like I fit in. There were times when I questioned my political philosophy, but I would just deny it and bury it. Finally, I was tired of living all the lies and pretending to be something I wasn't. When I was 23 years old, I told my liberal parents that I was conservative. They had a hard time with it, but they have grown to accept me and even joke about my being conservative.

I think it's important to point out that I did not choose to be a conservative. God made me this way. It is unfair for others to ask me to expand my thinking and accept homosexual lifestyles, because it would deny who I really am. It's difficult to be a conservative in this liberal world. We are constantly the butt of jokes and the objects of scorn. But, today I am proud to be a conservative. I am glad God made me this way, even if it does make things difficult for me sometimes. We are all different and you need to be tolerant of me and accept my lifestyle and ideas. To do otherwise, would make you hateful, divisive, and oppressive.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Reaching Across the Aisle

It's great to hear Obama and Democrats talk about the need to come together as one nation at this time. It is wonderful that they are so eager to put the past behind us and work together. I am also glad they are suddenly using words like loyalty and national unity. I stayed up late to Obama's entire speech live and, though I have no idea who the man is, I was encouraged that he appealed to the entire country, even those who did not vote for him. It sounded vaguely familiar.

"Today, I want to speak to every person who voted for my opponent. To make this nation stronger and better, I will need your support, and I will work to earn it. I will do all I can do to deserve your trust...We have one country, one Constitution and one future that binds us. And when we come together and work together, there is no limit to the greatness of America." - George W. Bush, 2004

I think we should listen to Obama and the Bush of 2004, even if the majority of the country did not listen to Bush in 2004. I don't think we should put a negative spin on everything Obama does. I don't think we should make outrageous claims about him - suspecting evil in nearly every decision he makes. I don't think we should bask in the nation's problems just to give us a chance to swoop in and criticize Obama and to provide an election platform for 2012. I don't think the media should scrutinize Obama's every move and take him to task for everything he does. I don't think we should blame EVERYTHING on Obama. I don't think we should make fun of how he looks, how he talks, or how many silly, irrelevant mistakes he makes when speaking (and yes, he does make them...)

On the other hand, I think we should support him to the extent possible. I think we should pray for his (and our) success. I think we should hope for the best. I think we should be reasonable in our assessments of his Presidency. I think we should refrain from using Obama's political failures as ammunition for our political gain. I think we should be understanding toward him and his supporters. I think we should be patient when he institutes something new. I think we should wait to pass judgment on him. I think we should actually read the Constitution before we accuse him of acting unconstitutionally. I think we should separate the things he can and can't control and only hold him accountable for the former. I think we should take pride in the democratic process that gave him the opportunity to be our President. I think we should be civil and fair. If we have criticism, I think we should make it constructive. If we have fears, I think we should combat them - to the extent possible - with facts and reason. I think we should take pride in America, despite how Obama is performing. We should ignore Obama's campaign message over the last two years, which was to bash PRESIDENT Bush - yes, the man holding the "office of the President". I think we should judge Obama by what he accomplishes and not by his approval rating. I think we should assume that, as President and Commander-in-Chief, he knows a lot more about our national security and international relations than we do. I think we should understand that he can't fix everything. I think we should point out the good things he does, even if he does some bad things. I think we should respect him and the office of the President. I think we should take accountability for some of our own mistakes, instead of taking the easy way out and blaming Obama for our problems. Above all, I think we should consider him OUR President, even if we didn't vote for him, even if we can't stand him, and even if we belong to a different party. We should let bipartisanship govern. We should be true patriots! We should be Americans!

To act otherwise, would be to continue the failed policies of the Democratic party over the last 8 years. I vote for CHANGE! This is change I can believe in. This is transcendent. It's easy to seek unity when one is in power; it's so much harder to swallow pride and seek unity in defeat. We can do it. The principles we believe in demand that we do it. Let us choose to overcome the hate, divisiveness, and slander of the last 8 years! Let us be better than that. Can we do this?


Sunday, November 2, 2008

Answer the Question (Part 2)

Here is my follow-up to the first part of this post, in which I examined Barack Obama's non-answer to a question in the 2nd Presidential debate.  Here I look at John McCain's non-answer.


Since World War II, we have never been asked to sacrifice anything to help our country, except the blood of our heroic men and women. As president, what sacrifices -- sacrifices will you ask every American to make to help restore the American dream and to get out of the economic morass that we're now in?


Well, Fiorra, I'm going to ask the American people to understand that there are some programs that we may have to eliminate.”

So, he is going to ask us to understand stuff.  Is that one of the sacrifices?  I don’t know, John; that is a lot you’re asking of me.  I simply don’t want to understand stuff.  I have a Constitutional right to not understand or to not even attempt to understand.  That’s a tough one.

“I first proposed a long time ago that we would have to examine every agency and every bureaucracy of government. And we're going to have to eliminate those that aren't working.”

Sacrifice #2 is that we the American people will have to do without government agencies and bureaucracies that aren’t working.  Hmm.  That also won’t be easy.  We have all grown accustomed to our useless agencies and bureaucracies.  Is it really a “sacrifice” to give up something that isn’t working?  Many people don’t even know we have certain agencies.  Is it a “sacrifice” to give up something we don’t know we have especially when it isn’t doing anything to help us? 

“I know a lot of them that aren't working. One of them is in defense spending, because I've taken on some of the defense contractors. I saved the taxpayers $6.8 billion in a deal for an Air Force tanker that was done in a corrupt fashion.”

So, we are going to have to sacrifice $6.8 billion on deals that you already saved us because you took them on?  Is it really a sacrifice for the American people to give up deals that are done in a corrupt fashion?  It is hard to see the sacrifice here.  Are you just blowing your trumpet here?  Is this just a chance for you to brag about something you did because it doesn’t really seem to fit with the question. 

“I believe that we have to eliminate the earmarks. And sometimes those projects, not -- not the overhead projector that Sen. Obama asked for, but some of them that are really good projects, will have -- will have to be eliminated, as well.”

Okay, at least you have mentioned something specifically.  Great job.  But, again, I don’t know that anyone in the American public sees earmarks as a positive thing.  I’m quite certain that most citizens are against them.  Therefore, they will gladly give them up without any argument.  So, they will be voluntarily and happily doing away with them; not sacrificing.

“And they'll have to undergo the same scrutiny that all projects should in competition with others.

So we're going to have to tell the American people that spending is going to have to be cut in America. And I recommend a spending freeze that -- except for defense, Veterans Affairs, and some other vital programs, we'll just have to have across-the-board freeze.”

This is better.  Much better.  Cutting spending on certain programs may force some Americans to make sacrifices.  However, many Americans want to see lower spending by the government and if not lower spending, then smarter spending.  So, at least something good will come of it.  In addition, non-vital programs are just that – not vital.  One would ask if a program is not vital, should it be a program at all?  Therefore, freezing spending on that program will be viewed as a triumph.

“And some of those programs may not grow as much as we would like for them to, but we can establish priorities with full transparency, with full knowledge of the American people, and full consultation, not done behind closed doors and shoving earmarks in the middle of the night into programs that we don't even -- sometimes we don't even know about until months later.”

Again, we will be sacrificing things (earmarks) that we don’t want in the first place.  No big deal. 

“And, by the way, I want to go back a second.

Look, we can attack health care and energy at the same time. We're not -- we're not -- we're not rifle shots here. We are Americans. We can, with the participation of all Americans, work together and solve these problems together.

Frankly, I'm not going to tell that person without health insurance that, "I'm sorry, you'll have to wait." I'm going to tell you Americans we'll get to work right away and we'll get to work together, and we can get them all done, because that's what America has been doing.”

Thanks for including another answer to the previous question which you didn’t answer that time and you’re still not answering now.  It is extremely helpful.  How do you propose we all work together on this?  Should we get a huge conference room and talk it out?  The truth is, Americans aren’t going to work together on this.  The politicians are going to work together, or at least democrats and democrats and republicans and republicans will work together.  Also, are you implying that Canadians are rifle shots?  Or that other countries couldn’t do this at the same time?  Are we somehow better than others? 

The truth is, politicians just say words they think people want to hear.  I think they are grossly out of touch, because the people I talk to are sick of these types of "answers" and want more substance.  The real problem is that when we allow them to side-step important questions or just ignore questions, we cannot hold them accountable for the things they say.  How can we hold Obama and McCain accountable for these answers?  We don't even know what they have actually said.  I don't know what they've promised, so I guess I will never know if they have come through on the promises.  I would guess that one of these guys is going to be saying the same things in 4 years and we won't have a clue whether he did anything in the previous 4 years.  

Imagine if you were proposing a a new program to your boss and he or she asked, "What sacrifices will the company have to make in order to incorporate this program?"  What would happen if you said something like, "Well, boss, I'm glad you asked that and I thank you for listening to my presentation.  Over the last few years I have worked hard for this company and I have cut spending in my group.  And we are going to have to start thinking about our budget and some other things.  We will work together and together we will make this program go forward and all employees of this company will see the benefits.  We can do it but we have to start thinking."

Pack your bags and clean out your desk, because you just got canned or demoted!  And yet, the leaders of the greatest country in the world can get away with this when they are dealing with our safety, health care, taxes, etc.  There is something wrong with that.  Since this is a democracy and the politicians should have to answer to us, I say we fire or demote them.  I would appoint Obama to be the National Motivational Speaker and John McCain wouldn't hold office but we would all be his friends.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Answer the Question!!! (Part 1)

If you watched the Presidential debates, then you were probably as frustrated as I was when listening to our two Presidential candidates "answer" questions. It is almost as if they are allergic to answers. Just to give you an example, here was one of my favorite exchanges. The "answers" are long, so I will start with Obama's "answer" and then will post McCain's "answer". Also, I could not resist commenting on various paragraphs, so I put the "answers" in italics and my comments in plain font.


Since World War II, we have never been asked to sacrifice anything to help our country, except the blood of our heroic men and women. As president, what sacrifices -- sacrifices will you ask every American to make to help restore the American dream and to get out of the economic morass that we're now in?


You know, a lot of you remember the tragedy of 9/11 and where you were on that day and, you know, how all of the country was ready to come together and make enormous changes to make us not only safer, but to make us a better country and a more unified country.”

You know when an "answer" starts like this, you are in for a very long, answer-free tangent.

“And President Bush did some smart things at the outset, but one of the opportunities that was missed was, when he spoke to the American people, he said, "Go out and shop."

“That wasn't the kind of call to service that I think the American people were looking for.”

Alright, straw man arguments. I love these. Is that what he said? Is that all he said? I'm pretty sure that was one of his suggestions about how to get the economy moving again. And actually, Bush said a lot of things around that time and had the highest approval rating (85%+) of any President ever. So, the straw man doesn't work here. But, I digress, because the question was about sacrifices and we haven't heard anything about that yet.

“And so it's important to understand that the -- I think the American people are hungry for the kind of leadership that is going to tackle these problems not just in government, but outside of government.”

Is that a sacrifice? Are we going to have to sacrifice our hunger for leadership for actual leadership that will give us the results that we crave? Wow. I don’t know about that. You ask hard things of us.

“And let's take the example of energy, which we already spoke about. There is going to be the need for each and every one of us to start thinking about how we use energy.”

Whoa, whoa, whoa…Do not bring up the “T” word. That is a huge sacrifice and I just don’t think Americans are ready to do it. What good ever came of "thinking"? But, as long as we only have to think about how we use energy, I might be okay with that. As long as I don’t have to do anything about it, I guess I could think about it a little bit. I'm fine with thinking about sacrifices as long as I don't have to make any.

“I believe in the need for increased oil production. We're going to have to explore new ways to get more oil, and that includes offshore drilling. It includes telling the oil companies, that currently have 68 million acres that they're not using, that either you use them or you lose them.”


“We're going to have to develop clean coal technology and safe ways to store nuclear energy.”

Please tell me there will be a sacrifice somewhere in here.

“But each and every one of us can start thinking about how can we save energy in our homes, in our buildings. And one of the things I want to do is make sure that we're providing incentives so that you can buy a fuel efficient car that's made right here in the United States of America, not in Japan or South Korea, making sure that you are able to weatherize your home or make your business more fuel efficient.”

I'm glad he backed off of the "thinking" sacrifice so that now we only have to "start thinking". That means we get a little bit of pre-thinking time where we can warm our brains up a little bit before we do some actual thinking. At the same time, he mentioned Incentives, fuel efficiencies, and saving energy…these are the kinds of "sacrifices" I can live with.

“And that's going to require effort from each and every one of us.”

Effort? What effort? Is the effort in thinking about how we save energy in our homes? To be honest, that really doesn’t require much effort. I think it will come pretty easily. Now, it may require effort for energy companies to invent new ways of saving energy, but the question asked what Americans will have to do. I think that implied the general population.

And the last point I just want to make. I think the young people of America are especially interested in how they can serve, and that's one of the reasons why I'm interested in doubling the Peace Corps, making sure that we are creating a volunteer corps all across this country that can be involved in their community, involved in military service, so that military families and our troops are not the only ones bearing the burden of renewing America.

I think this is actually the first point you are making. And, in all honesty, it's not really a point. I’m not bashing the idea, but how does this have anything to do with the actual question? Doubling the Peace Corps – thus creating jobs – to help Americans is not a sacrifice to Americans. It could very well be a blessing.

“That's something that all of us have to be involved with and that requires some leadership from Washington."

Don’t try to tell me that we are all going to be down in the trenches doing this together. Politicians are going to be doing this and if their ability to answer questions has anything to do with their ability to work we are all in big trouble.

Did you hear a real sacrifice in there? Did you hear something like "Well, Americans are going to have to be realistic when applying for a home loan. And if they don't qualify for a loan, they are going to have to sacrifice home ownership until they can afford it." Or perhaps, "The rich are going to have to sacrifice some of their hard-earned money to help the poor."

There is nothing like that. Is this for real? This is really a guy who might be running our Country and he can't even answer a simple question? It just baffles me. For those who might think I am picking on Obama, wait until I post my rant against McCain's "answer".

Bar Stool Economics

Suppose that every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to $100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this:

The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing
The fifth would pay $1
The sixth would pay $3
The seventh would pay $7
The eighth would pay $12
The ninth would pay $18
The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59

So, that's what they decided to do. The ten men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a curve. 'Since you are all such good customers, he said, I'm going to reduce the cost of your daily beer by $20. Drinks for the ten now cost just $80.

The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes so the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free. But what about the other six men - the paying customers? How could they divide the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his 'fair

They realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody's share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer. So, the bar owner
suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man's bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay.!

And so:
The fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% savings)

The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3 (33% savings)
The seventh now pay $5 instead of $7 (28% savings)
The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% savings)
The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 (22% savings)
The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% savings)

Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four
continued to drink for free. But once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings.

'I only got a dollar out of the $20, 'declared the sixth man. He pointed to the tenth man, 'but he got $10!'
'Yeah, that's right,' exclaimed the fifth man. 'I only saved a dollar, too. It's unfair that he got ten times more than I!'
'That's true!!' shouted the seventh man. 'Why should he get $10 back when I got only two? The wealthy get all the breaks!'
'Wait a minute,' yelled the first four men in unison. 'We didn't get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!'

The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.

The next night the tenth man didn't show up for drinks, so the nine sat down and had beers without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important. They didn't have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill!

And that, boys and girls, journalists and college professors, is how our tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the
most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up anymore. In fact, they might start drinking overseas where the atmosphere is somewhat

David R. Kamerschen, Ph.D.
Professor of Economics, University of Georgia
For those who understand, no explanation is needed.
For those who do not understand, no explanation is possible

Thanks to Adam Poyfair for sending this to me.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Halloween Costume Idea - ACORN Worker

Halloween is getting closer and I'm sure many of you don't have costumes yet. Well, don't worry! I have a great idea for a low-cost Halloween costume - all you really need is a clipboard, some voter registration cards, and some candy. Here's how you do it:

Get a clipboard and a bunch of voter registration cards. When trick-or-treaters come to your house for candy, just tell them that you will give them candy as long as they register to vote - for Barack Obama, of course. It's that easy! If you want to make a little ACORN sign that would be great, but it is in no way necessary. I think you will get a lot of laughs and, since you will have a bunch of signed voter registration cards, you might as well turn them in. Everybody wins, right?

Now, I know what some of you are thinking: "Didn't you tell me two years ago to sign trick-or-treaters up for sub-prime mortgages? Look where that got us."

Well, don't blame me for that. We all know that the Bush administration is 100% to blame for that crisis. If you're worried about the ACORN thing, we can find someone else to blame. Just enjoy Halloween and don't think of the consequences...oops! I used the 'C' word. Just enjoy Halloween!