Tag Archives: Republicans

I Get Blogging and Rick Santorum Gets Some Love

So, I drifted past an email from WordPress just the other day and it came to my attention that I haven’t posted anything since November. It’s not like I quit having opinions and I’m always excited to share them. So after an extended hiatus, Independent Kansan is back. It’s good to see you all again. There is much to talk about as Republicans and Democrats bicker away. The President is running for reelection. Republicans are trying to pick his opponent, and I’m just trying to live my life like most of us. So here are some random observations I’ve been having lately.

1) Mitt Romney is more out of touch with the average american than anyone in the world. I swear he has no concept of what it’s like to be an average guy. I’m not saying it’s bad that he’s wealthy. I don’t even mind that he’s running for office because he appears to think its a cool thing to do. When he makes a quip about how he’s not worried about the extremely poor or when he breaks out his stump joke that he understands America because he’s, “unemployed too,” he just  comes across as totally detached. I’m amazed he was ever the front-runner.

2) Rick Santorum is finally getting some of the attention he deserves. Mr. Santorum and I don’t agree about anything but that’s fine. At least there is little in my mind that doubts his conviction. When comes out and says he’s against abortion, even in extreme circumstances, I don’t think he’s saying that for political reasons. I can respect that. When Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich says some of these things I’m pretty sure if I had the right poll numbers they would change their minds pretty quick. I’ve long said I thought Santorum would make a great VP candidate. He may be proving that VP is beneath him.

3)”Class Warfare” should be stricken from the English language. I’m so tired of hearing about how a 1% or 3%  raise in taxes on millionaires is “Class Warfare.” How is it not class warfare that wages for the middle and lower classes haven’t kept pace with inflation. Or that the rich do not pay social security or Medicare taxes on all of their income.  The rich in this country have it as good as they have in decades. After WWII people making over two hundred thousand dollars a year had that income taxed at 91%. We’re worried that currently millionaires might pay 34%, and that’s if most of their income doesn’t come from investments. I hat e to be the crazy liberal here, but taxing these people will not hurt them, and it won’t hurt you and me.

4)Republicans should continue to fight for the rights of the wealthy. They’ve started a trend here and every fight where they push back on unemployment and a tax cut for working people just to prevent 1% on millionaires. They are writing the campaign commercials that will lead to their demise.

Anyway, I’ve been needing to get that out for sometime. I gotta tell you it’s good to be back. I’m not optimistic, but I hope maybe we can have a real conversation in the coming months. To begin with I’m going to write about a series of electoral reforms I think we need in this country to help give democratic power to the people. I hope to see you there.

Okay, Let’s Talk About Jobs

Well, as I mentioned in my last post Bank of America is planning to lay-off thirty thousand employees over the next couple of years. This news was announced with stunning irony, on the same day that President Obama sent his recently announced “American Jobs Act” to Congress. So, the talk in politics is all about jobs. What can Congress, or the President really do to create jobs in this country? The answer is. . . not much.

All the talk is about the record of job creation a person has. Rick Perry is touting the economic success “he’s had” in Texas. Mitt Romney is taking shots at him about it, and all the Republicans are blaming President Obama for the economy. John Boehner gave a speech today in Detroit basically outlining the fact that congressional Republicans aren’t going to work with the President. Unless, of course, he does whatever they want. Their ideas are the same tired ideas they’ve had for years, but I will deal with that later.

There is an idea that is more broad and it needs addressed. The American public has a huge misconception about the role of government in the economy. We talk about a President’s record of creating job, but the truth is that president’s don’t create jobs. Unless, they require the government to hire more people. George W. Bush, for example, created the job of Secretary of Homeland Security. President’s can only provide incentives, like tax credits and tax cuts, for employers to hire more people, but that won’t work.

Take a look at it this way. I’m CEO of the Worldwide Widget Corporation, J. Pierpont Finch. We sell two million widgets a year that are produced in two factories employing 100 people. The accountants come to me and say if we build a new factory and hire 50 more people, we’ll get a tax credit. What would you do? If your smart you’d go to the sales team and ask, “If we build a new factory how many more widgets can we sell?” If they say there is no more demand for widgets, you would be crazy to spend the money on a factory and employees that you don’t need. You would be throwing money away. Yes, the government is going to reimburse you for some of it but then your stuck with a factory that is a drain on your profit.

Now, if the sales team comes to you and says, “If we build a factory and hire some people we can sell one million more widgets and our profit will grow 50%.” What would you do? You’d build the factory, and I bet you would do it even if you weren’t getting a tax credit. You’d build it because it is good for Worldwide Widgets.

The President and Congress have no actual role in that decision. Only one thing does, and that is demand. The economy isn’t a physical thing. It is the compilation of all of the uncountable transactions that take place between people and business every day. The mood of the masses drives the economy. President Bush issued rebate checks to American taxpayers. If you filed a tax return you got a $600 check if you were a single person and a $1200 check if you filed jointly. That could stimulate the economy, but only if people spend that money. If the public puts it in their savings for another day, it doesn’t do anything until that other day.

That means that people are the economy. We make it succeed or fail, grow or retract. Capitalism is built on people spending money. That’s why consumer confidence is so important. If we believe the economy is going well and we can afford to spend money, then things will be okay. Christina Stein wrote an interesting article about this at the Kansas Free Press.

I’ve said before that the best way to stimulate the economy would be to eliminate taxes on the poorest people. Poor people are unique in that they are the only group of people who spend every dollar they have. The middle-class, and the wealthy don’t do that. They can afford to have a savings or a retirement account. If you give poor people more of their paycheck, a lot of money will immediately be returned into the economy.

The real truth about the economy is that it hinges on the behavior of people. Presidents don’t control that. Congress doesn’t control that. If you vote on the state of things now, you are voting for the wrong reasons. We need to be voting for the person who is thinking about the future. We need to look at a candidates vision, intellect, and drive. We need to take our eyes off of today and think about tomorrow, and pick the right person to lead us there.

A Poll You Should Pay Attention To

In my last post I was upset about an ABC report on a political poll that I believed was ridiculous. It put the President up against a generic Republican and found more people would vote for the Republican. You can see what I said about it here.

I’m not a fan of polls. In general I don’t think predicting human behavior is all that easy. To a great extent we have gotten quite good at it, but there is still no way to predict what a particular person will do in a particular moment. My bias aside there is one poll I think all Americans should take a look at.

The Pew Research Center describes itself as a “nonpartisan “fact tank” that provides information on the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world.” Every few years they put out a particularly interesting poll. It’s called “Beyond Red vs. Blue.” In essence the poll breaks down the American public into many more groups than the Republican, Democrat, Independent model that we are used to.  Based on questions about a variety of subjects it gives a much more in-depth look at American voters. There is a lot of interesting information included.

It gets even better. They provide a quick online quiz to show you where you land on the political spectrum. At the end you are provided with a great deal of information. I think it is a great example of the research into politics that should be happening. I encourage all of you to go to this site and take the political typology quiz. Let me know where you land and any comments about the poll you might have.

It might not seem surprising to any of my readers, but I came down as a “Solid Liberal.” Who knew?

Why Do We Take These Polls?

President Obama’s going to lose. It’s all over. I read it right on ABC.com.  They reported that the President is losing to a generic Republican in a recent poll. Specifically, 44 percent said they would vote for the Republican, only 39 percent would vote for the President.

So what does this mean? Well, I suppose we should say, “nothing.” Let’s go over the reasons why this poll is basically useless. First, the election is 18 months away. If we went by a poll like this is 2007 , we’d be talking about President Giuliani today. Secondly, let’s think about the benefits of the generic Republican. He’s the perfect small-government, fiscal conservative. Yes, “he’s” a he, and he has no negative side effects. He didn’t pass a healthcare law similar to the President’s law, he doesn’t support the legalization of drugs,  his entire campaign staff hasn’t resigned, he doesn’t back off of his rhetoric when his opponents are in the room, he isn’t “the pizza guy,” and he isn’t Michele Bachmann. Remember, “he” is a he. Until either party nominates a woman, I won’t change my view on that.

The point is that a generic Republican isn’t representative of anyone who could possibly be the nominee. All the possible candidates have things that make them more or less appealing to conservatives and more or less appealing to moderates and independents. A “generic Republican” a year and a half from the election is useless.

I just don’t understand these polls. They don’t mean anything. A poll about who might be the Republican nominee is useful. We can have polls that track who is winning and losing that race. That’s news, but until we know who the nominee is it isn’t important how a “generic Republican” will do.  For now the President is likely to lag because he has a history and a personality. We know him.  We will see how this race really shapes up when the Republicans have a face, a history, and a personality to represent them. Until then, ABC should quit wasting our  time.

Will Palin “Roosevelt” The Republicans?

Sarah Palin has been making news lately. In fact, she’s been making a lot of news, and not in her normal fashion. For the past couple of years, we’ve all been dragged through the Palin’s lives. People watched the reality show. They voted for Bristol on “Dancing With The Stars.” Even I read the Men’s Journal interview with Todd. Sarah herself has offered all her views at any event for one hundred thousand dollars. She even appears on FOXNews so regularly that they built a studio in her house. Recently things have changed a bit. Now Palin is on the road.

The “One Nation” bus tour sent sparks flying through the political arena. What is she doing? Is this a prelude to a presidential bid? Why won’t she tell us? There are a few interesting things about this tour that may provide a glimpse at the future. First is her treatment of the media. People following Palin have complained about the lack of information they are getting. There are no public schedules, no real information at all in fact. Palin is not hiding her disdain for the mainstream media. She did do an interview with Greta Van Susteran. Otherwise, she’s basically told the media to screw off. Why are they surprised? With no information coming from the bus tour, there is still plenty of news coverage. It’s like the media is saying McDonald’s should be delivering cheesburgers to them even though they go through the drive-thru daily. All the while Sarah Palin is getting all the media coverage she could want and reinforcing her image as an outsider or does things her way.

She continued to enhance that image breaking unspoken party rules. She rolled into New Hampshire on the same day that Mitt Romney was going to officially announce his campaign. The Romney event was staged from start to finish, and all the good details were leaked to the press. It was a classic political event. Everything Palin is doing is the complete opposite of that. She’s reinforcing her “rogue” persona while stepping all over the toes of the Republican establishment. I think she preparing something big. Perhaps a once in a century event. Let’s start with a little history lesson, and no, it’s not about Paul Revere.

The election of 1912 is possibly the most successful campaign by a third party in American history. Incumbent Republican President William Howard Taft is campaigning for reelection, but there is another big Republican name in the race. Former President Theodore Roosevelt, unhappy with his hand-picked successor, is running for the Progressive Party after a failed campaign for the Republican nomination. In a unprecendented campaign, the incumbent President was basically a non-factor. Roosevelt received more popular and electoral votes. In the end, the split of the Republican vote propelled a former college professor and New Jersey Governor named Thomas Woodrow Wilson to the White House.

If all the votes cast for Taft and Roosevelt were combined the Republicans would have defeated Wilson. This is the effect Sarah Palin could have on this race. In 2000 it was suggested that Ralph Nader did the same thing. His impact was probably minimal in reality, but it was an extremely close election. Ross Perot had this kind of effect in 1992 when he gained 18.9% of the popular vote. Sarah Palin is poised to take up the mantle of the third-party candidate. She wouldn’t win the election, but she could effectively destroy any Republican chances of defeating President Obama.  People are fed up with the establishment. Congress’ approval rating has been staggeringly low for years. The Tea Party is continuing to make waves in national politics. All this is going on and Sarah Palin is being pushed from the media spotlight by an increasing focus on the presidential race. She started changing that with her bus tour. Palin gets all the media attention she wants. FOXNews will bend over backwards to put her on TV.

On FOX and in stump speeches is where Palin shines. People recently ran her through the ringer about her account of Paul Revere’s midnight ride. Live Q&A is not her strong suit. She’s not good on the fly. Her Paul Revere account could have been completely accurate and it would have sounded like gibberish. However, if you put her in her comfort zone she is the ultra-Republican. She can send out buzzwords and catchphrases with the best of them, and she seems like a normal person doing it. She appeals to a significant portion of the Republican party who hates liberals, and is tired of the old white male conservatives who have been running the party. She could steal enough of the vote to doom Romney, Pawlenty, or any of the others to a life of celebrity golf.

The real question is would she? Would Palin ensure a victory for Obama just to stay in the spotlight. I think history says she would. It also allows her the chance to show the establishment that she needs to be listened to. After the 2010 midterms, Palin took a credibility hit. She endorsed some candidates (like Christine O’Donnell) that cost Republicans some congressional seats. If she wants to get back to the table it might be worth it force an election loss for her personal gain. This election will mark the 100 year anniversary of the election when the Bull Moose Party cost Republicans the White House. So we have to ask, will the Mama Grizzly so the same. I think she will.

Wisconsin Legislature Attacks Firefighters and Police Officers. That’s A Good Idea.

I really can’t believe it. First, Wisconsin Republicans attacked the collective bargaining rights of teachers and municipal employees. That drew tens of thousands of protesters to Madison. They were smart to exempt firefighters and police officers from that bill. Teachers were an easy target. They don’t work the full year; they get decent benefits. Republicans easily painted them as freeloading public employees. They didn’t mention that teachers do one of the most important jobs in our country. They educate people. Nearly all of us went to a public school and based on that education have achieved great things. Public schools made it possible for people to work hard and succeed. Prior to nationwide public education you were taught by anyone availible. Most likely you ended up working in a factory for very little money. It is not surprising that thousands of protesters wound up at the Wisconsin Statehouse.

It is far more surprising that emboldened by their success dealing with teacher’s rights, Wisconsin Republicans are now taking on firefighters and the police. As the Associated Press reports, the Wisconsin legislature is trying to raise the amount of money police and firefighters pay for healthcare and pension benefits. They also are trying to strip collective bargaining rights over design and choice of healthcare plans. While cost may be negotiated, they can’t bargain for a better coverage plan. In other words, Wisconsin Republicans are trying to eliminate competition in the market. Interesting, if you consider the fact that Republicans constantly rave about the free market and competition.

What is really at stake here is much more important than ideology. Police officers prevent crime. It is that simple. If we take away incentives for people to become police officers then less people will do so. It will become harder for police departments to find qualified personnel. The same is true for firefighters. These people put their lives on the line everyday to help protect us. Just today a police officer died in Missouri. He was struck by lightning during the search and rescue operation in Joplin. This man was trying to find survivors of a deadly tornado in a dangerous environment. His courage like the courage of firefighters and police officers around the country, should be celebrated.

If it were possible to make healthcare and retirement benefits free to all public employees, then we should. It’s not possible, but we should make these benefits cost as little as possible. A simple fact about government is often ignored. Without government, society as we know it wouldn’t exist. You can trumpet the benefits of private enterprise all you want, but without government to keep it in check we would be worse off.

Sarah Palin recently said she believes any mandate from government is bad. She was loosely referring to the “individual mandate” in President Obama’s healthcare law. She wanted to stir up some anti-government sentiment. That’s something Mrs. Palin is quite good at. She’s counting on the notion that people won’t think too hard about her statement. In reality, a “mandate” is just a law or regulation that requires someone to do something. Mrs. Palin seems to think these are all bad for America.  I’d like to provide a couple of examples to the contrary.

The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938: This is a law that limits the amount of time a person can be required to work in a week without additional compensation, establishes a minimum wage a person can be paid and restricts

The Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990: A law that ensures people with physical and mental disabilities are not discriminated against in various ways. Signed into law by a Republican President.

I could go on and on, but let’s also mention that their are government mandates that say you can’t kill someone else, take somebody else’s stuff or yell “fire” in a crowded theater. That last one isn’t just a mandate, it actually restricts the 1st Amendment.

I don’t understand this anti-government zealotry. I know Sarah Palin is taking advantage of it, but what I don’t understand is why so many people buy into it. We are so willing to blame government, and so slow to blame business. We are so eager to think that public employees have such a great deal, but slow to realize that it is the corporate culture that keeps that great deal from so many of us. We seem to be so afraid of hurting the economy that we vote for policies that do not benefit us. There was a compromise over raising taxes for the wealthiest Americans by 3%. Enough Americans thought that a 3% increase in a few peoples taxes would actually hurt the economy substantially.

If we continue to assault the poor, and middle class, we will only harm America. Firefighters, police officers, and teachers aren’t getting rich, but they are providing the most essential services. We should remember that.

Be Subject To One Another

“Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.” -Ephesians 5:21, New Revised Standard Edition

In this day in age of 24 hour cable crap devoted to feeding the voyeuristic gluttony of an American public hooked on bad soap opera that passing itself off as important, don’t you think we could find some relevance in verse 21″ – President Josiah Bartlet on “The West Wing”

In this time of natural disaster when communities across the country are ravaged by tornado and flood, wouldn’t it help if we were concerned more with others than ourselves. Tornadoes ripped through the South recently killing hundreds. Just two days ago a huge tornado leveled much of Joplin, MO. In between those two events the Mississippi River overflowed causing damage to hundreds of thousands of acres of farmland. People all over this country have lost their livelihoods. Families have been destroyed. Communities of been splintered. Now, I am not the pinnacle of a devout Christian, but if ever there was a time for us to be subject to others, it is now.

That is why I firmly believe House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) should be run out of Washington. To be fair, I’ve never liked Mr. Cantor. I stand opposed to nearly everything he believes. That would be fine. Disagreements are good. A healthy debate is necessary in this country. Unfortunately, Mr. Cantor is not concerned with what is best for the people of this country. He seems more concerned with winning. Politico reported on Monday that Mr. Cantor said, “if there is support for a supplemental, it would be accompanied by support for having pay-fors to that supplemental.”

In other words if were going to help people whose lives have been destroyed, we have to cut spending in an equal amount. In February, Mr. Cantor voted no to an amendment that eliminated funding to build an extra engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The Defense Department didn’t want the engine, but Mr. Cantor thought the program was a good way to spend 435 million dollars a year. That money could buy a lot of bottled water for people in Joplin, Tuscaloosa and Vicksburg.

I can’t express how angry I am that Republicans are trying to tie everything that happens in this world to spending cuts. It would be one thing if they wanted to balance the budget, but they don’t. They want to reduce the size of the federal government so that they can slash taxes for the rich.

This is about helping people who have lost everything.  In this country when our fellow citizens are lying at rock-bottom we reach out and lift them up. We find the money. It doesn’t matter if  we have to borrow it from China or raise taxes on everything from business to income or property.  We look after our own.

Mr. Cantor should apologize to every American who has lost a family member, or friend in these disasters. It is offensive to suggest that we should be talking about how to make disaster relief deficit neutral less than twenty-four hours after the second deadliest tornado since 1950 is confirmed to have killed 125 people. 700 residents of Joplin are still missing. The death toll is likely to rise significantly, and Mr. Cantor wants to talk about spending cuts.

America is only a great nation if it takes care of its citizens at their greatest time of need. That means when disaster strikes FEMA sweeps in and does all it can do to help. It means we do whatever we need to do, and pay for it however we can. We don’t haggle over deficits, and spending cuts. We do the job of helping people rebuild their lives. That is the most important thing the government can do. Mr. Cantor could learn something about being subject to others. In 2012, I hope he remembers that he is certainly subject to the voters of Virginia’s 7th district. I hope they hold him accountable.