Monthly Archives: July 2010

Obama: GOP Will Move Country Backward

With a victory on the financial regulation overhaul in his pocket—a “key pillar” in his recession recovery plan—President Obama said a Republican plan for the economy would move the country backward to the job-killing policies of his predecessor. “It took nearly a decade of failed economic policies to create this mess, and it will take years to fully repair the damage,” Obama said in his weekly address that aired Saturday, vowing that his policies would move the country forward. That’s expected to be one of the White House’s main messages during this fall’s midterm elections. The president admitted that the growth since the credit crisis two years ago hasn’t created enough jobs, but said the GOP would make things much worse. House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) countered that the GOP would promote growth by cutting spending and taxes.

Read more here.

Or, listen to the address here.

4 Comments

Filed under Jobs, President Barack Obama, The Economy

Saturday, 7/24/10, Public Square

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Filed under The Public Square

Is this really the “future?”

(Chevy Volt – plug in electric car – soon to be on the market.)


This is not a “gearhead” column, (so you non-gearheads can continue reading) but rather a thread about oil dependency.

The thread photo is of the prototype Chevy Volt electric car. The version that will be available in November is a conventional four door sedan.

The Volt is not a true electric car, nor is it a hybrid in the normal sense. It is a “plug in” car that does not need a special charging station. It has a “battery only” range of forty miles, at which point a small, four cylinder gasoline engine will kick in, acting as a generator and providing electricity to the motors.

Tesla Motors, a So-Cal based company, produces an all electric model that has an effective range of over 200 miles, but does not have a secondary source for electricity. It can also be charged at home, although it does need a special docking station.

By the time you read this, BP may have capped the gushing well in the Gulf – then the clean up will be the greater issue as million of gallons of oil have fouled the waters and beaches.

True energy independence will take a collective effort by all Americans – an effort that seems unlikely given our divided society. While polls show that Americans greatly favor alternative energy sources, we don’t really want to pay for them.

Americans in are in love with gas-guzzling mega-cars, SUV’s and trucks. We could postpone the inevitable end of the gasoline fueled vehicle if we were to go to higher mileage cars, but most don’t want to give up the space and presumed (wrongly) safety of our large vehicles.

Are vehicles like the Volt and the two Tesla models the “future?” Definitely maybe.

If we were truly, honest-to-God serious, we would be immediately moving towards hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles, while using Compressed Natural Gas powered cars as an interim solution.

But we’re not serious.

The oil spill will be cleaned up, gas will hover around $2.50 a gallon, the economy will improve and more folks will have cash to drop at the gas station.

And we will kick the can down the road, once again.

Until the next crisis.


William Stephenson Clark

30 Comments

Filed under The Environment

Friday, 7/23/10, Public Square

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Filed under The Public Square

Are Wichita drivers really the worst?

It has been said, many times, sometimes at great volume, that Wichita drivers are the worst on the planet. There are days that I tend to agree.

I took a short trip down Seneca to 31st Street a short time ago, within the last hour or so. During that two mile drive, I twice had to slam on my brakes to avoid vehicles pulling out in from of me, one of which was a large truck. On two more occasions during the same drive, I observed people putting on their turn signals – in the middle of the turn they were making. I once watched a man texting as he drove. He was riding a motorcycle.

If it isn’t the high speed lunatics, it’s the “how slow can you go” morons.

Obviously, there are tragic results to bad driving, but I would rather not dwell on that, nor the obvious problem of impaired drivers. We have enough simpletons on the roads to make a simple trip to the grocery store into an adventure, with throwing those topics into the mix.

As many of you know, I rode motorcycles for many a year. As a confirmed biker, I rapidly learn from the beginning that a cyclist’s only friend on the road is himself. The “other guy” ain’t gonna look out for you, so you damned well better look out for yourself.

Many long-term bikers, myself included, develop a sixth sense of self-preservation and to use a motorcycle’s inherent superior braking, acceleration and maneuverability to keep themselves alive with the shiny side up.

Unfortunately, most folks don’t drive like a seasoned motorcyclist, they drive with little understanding of “defensive driving” and awareness of the potential consequences of even a momentary lack of attention.

If I could just teach Wichita drivers a few things they would be:

Traffic signs and signals are not “suggestions.”

It really isn’t a crime to use your turn signals.

The speed limit is the “maximum” allowed, not the “minimum.”

Store parking lots are not the place to practice your bumper car skills.

Wichita drivers may not truly be the worst on the planet – Chicago drivers hold that “honor” – but they are truly bad.

So what is it with Wichita drivers?


William Stephenson Clark

36 Comments

Filed under Kansas, Psychological Disorders

Thursday, 7/22/10, Public Square

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Filed under The Public Square

Hypocrisy of the right-leaning media

David Frum makes a smart observation: When Dan Rather fell for a hoax about Bush’s war record in 2004, CBS kicked him to the curb. Now that Andrew Breitbart has published doctored videos that make a Department of Agriculture employee appear racist—and cost her her job—will he have to do the same? “Breitbart is the conservative Dan Rather,” Frum writes, “but there will be no discredit, no resignation for him.” Indeed, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and other conservatives are actually blaming President Obama and the NAACP for the whole brouhaha while neglecting to mention that Breitbart is the one who disseminated the video in the first place. Frum draws a connection to the right’s fury over leaked emails from Journolist, an email list-serve for several liberal journalists, that showed a few journalists expressing a wish to quash stories about Jeremiah Wright during the 2008 election. “Only, of course, the Wright story was not quashed—unlike the story of Breitbart’s role in Sherrod’s firing, which has been, at least among conservatives.”

Read more here.

18 Comments

Filed under hate groups, Media, Radical Rightwing groups, Wingnuts!

Let’s have a Tea Party! Part III

We now have an idea of what and who the Tea Party is, but what does it all mean?

Despite the obvious racism of the thread photo, the Tea Party is not, in my not so humble opinion, inherently racist.*  As with any large group of people, there will always be that element that has “darker” motivations.

(In the interest of fairness, the man holding the sign in the thread photo was booted out of his local Tea Party chapter.)

It is clear, however, that much of the anger-fueled rhetoric from the Tea Party is focused on President Barack Obama and his “liberal” agenda. That is curious in light of the fact that most progressives feel that Obama has not been liberal enough.

The “Tea” in Tea Party is an acronym for “Taxed Enough Already” and much of the focus of the Party is on taxes and spending. Another focus is on the Constitution and the constitutionality of recently passed laws.

Tea Party wrath is aimed at incumbent politicians, yet those same office-holders and former office-holders regularly speak at Tea Party events, so it would seem apparently that the majority of the wrath is directed at incumbent Democrats.

A few incumbent Republicans have been deemed insufficiently conservative for the Tea Party and some have even been turned out of office for that reason.

So, is the Tea Party movement a grassroots semi-organization that is non-aligned, or is it merely the hard-right arm of the Republican Party?

The political landscape of America is largely a two party system. While third parties periodically pop up, most are short lived and fail to actually win state and Federal offices.

Tea Party goals and the rhetoric that backs them up is exclusively that of the far right champions such as Glen Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin. You can dress up the pitbull and slap on the make up, but it’s still a far right, Republican pitbull. There isn’t enough lipstick in the country to make that dog into anything else.

Is the Tea Party a viable political force for the future? A negative focus rarely makes for longevity, and the Party focus is largely negative.

The Great Recession will end, deficits will be reduced, benefits of TARP, the Stimulus and HCR will be recognized and, perhaps more important to the Tea Party, Barack Obama will leave office (after two terms) and the Tea Party will fade into a historical footnote.

Thoughts?


*(Since I wrote this, the Tea Party Federation has kicked the Tea Party Express out of the Federation for a racist parody written and published by their spokesperson, Mark Williams. While I agree with little of the Tea Party philosophy, I do have to applaud their quick and decisive manner in dealing with a racist element within the Federation.)


William Stephenson Clark

18 Comments

Filed under Tea Party Movement

Wednesday, 7/21/10, Public Square

62 Comments

Filed under The Public Square

Let’s have a Tea Party! Part II

Much has been made of the so-called inclusive grassroots nature of the Tea Party movement. While that sounds all American-y, warm and friendly, it basically isn’t true.

Note: (From the New York Times/CBS)

  • Tea Party supporters were 89% white, 10% Hispanic and 1% black.
  • 18% of Americans consider themselves Tea Party supporters.
  • 90% of Tea Party supporters think the country is headed in the wrong direction.
  • Tea Party supporters tend to be Republican, white, male, married and older than age 45.
  • 54% of Tea Party supporters have a “favorable opinion” of the Republican party compared to 38% of the general public.
  • 6% of Tea Party supporters have a favorable opinion of the Democratic party compared to 42% of the general public.
  • 30% think President Obama was born outside the United States compared to 20% of the general public.
  • More than half (52%) told the pollsters they think their own “income taxes this year are fair.”
  • 25% think that the administration favors blacks over whites — compared with 11% of the general public.
  • 7% approve of how President Obama is doing his job compared to 50% of the general public.
  • 92% feel that President Obama’s policies are moving the US towards “socialism”, compared to 52% for the general public.

So, if you were to “build” an average Tea Partier, he would be male white, older, Republican, think that we’re headed for socialism and generally have an unfavorable view of Democrats and President Obama. While it was not noted in the polling, he would be a church going Christian with a secret crush on Sarah Palin.

The polling does not bear out the contention that the Tea Party movement is a “big tent” organization populated by a cross-section of average Americans.

So, what to make of this Tea Party?

(Tune in tomorrow for Part III)


William Stephenson Clark

12 Comments

Filed under Tea Party Movement

Tuesday, 7/20/10, Public Square

9 Comments

Filed under The Public Square

GOP answer to budget shortfall — “Who knows?”

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) took to CNN Sunday to bash Democrats’ “gargantuan spending spree,” the latest in a long line of Republican attacks over the deficit that began almost immediately after President Obama’s inauguration. But what, exactly, would the GOP do to reduce the substantial budget shortfall–a much of it coming from the sea of red ink President Bush bequeathed to President Obama?

The answer: Who knows?

That, of course is nothing new — talking about belt-tightening in the broad sense is always easier than throwing out specifics.  Since Sen. Jon Kyl’s clarification on Fox News earlier this month that extending unemployment benefits is fiscally dangerous but deficit-financed tax cuts to the tune of $678 billion are just gravy, Republicans have been under new pressure to clarify how exactly they intend to reduce the national debt.  Sen. Pete Sessions’ (R-TX) appeared Sunday on Meet The Press and under persistent questioning from David Gregory, he failed to offer any specific examples of what spending programs the GOP would cut.

This evasion probably won’t keep them from being elected or reelected, it hasn’t in the past.  And if they should regain the majority and are asked to present a budget they’ve painted themselves into a corner.  They’ve signed pledges to not increase taxes, they’ve endorsed an array of new tax cuts that blow a further hole in the budget.

The GOP recently rebranded itself as the holy defender of Medicare during the health care debate, putting another huge chunk of the budget out of play. Let’s assume that Defense Spending is an unlikely target as well. That pretty much leaves Social Security and a handful of popular spending programs like SCHIP on the block, which are as politically disastrous targets as they come.

Pinned down by a conservative base demanding drastic spending reductions AND tax cuts, it seems extremely unlikely a Republican House would be able to produce a workable budget that would get past the president’s desk, leading some observers — most notably Paul Krugman — to predict a government shutdown.

fnord

6 Comments

Filed under Financial Rules & Regulations, Republicans, taxes, The Economy

Let’s have a Tea Party! Part I

Your not so humble columnist will make every effort to be even-handed with this piece, but sometimes you just run out of lipstick.

Tea Partiers claim that their movement is a Populist grass roots phenomenon, but there is much evidence that it is more Astro Turf and less natural grass. That aside, a few quick Tea Party factoids:

The Tea Party Contract from America

  1. Identify constitutionality of every new law: Require each bill to identify the specific provision of the Constitution that gives Congress the power to do what the bill does.
  2. Reject emissions trading: Stop the “cap and trade” administrative approach used to control pollution by providing economic incentives for achieving reductions in the emissions of pollutants.
  3. Demand a balanced federal budget: Begin the Constitutional amendment process to require a balanced budget with a two-thirds majority needed for any tax modification.
  4. Simplify the tax system: Adopt a simple and fair single-rate tax system by scrapping the internal revenue code and replacing it with one that is no longer than 4,543 words — the length of the original Constitution.
  5. Audit federal government agencies for constitutionality: Create a Blue Ribbon taskforce that engages in an audit of federal agencies and programs, assessing their Constitutionality, and identifying duplication, waste, ineffectiveness, and agencies and programs better left for the states or local authorities.
  6. Limit annual growth in federal spending: Impose a statutory cap limiting the annual growth in total federal spending to the sum of the inflation rate plus the percentage of population growth.
  7. Repeal the health care legislation passed on March 23, 2010: Defund, repeal and replace the HCR.
  8. Pass an ‘All-of-the-Above’ Energy Policy: Authorize the exploration of additional energy reserves to reduce American dependence on foreign energy sources and reduce regulatory barriers to all other forms of energy creation.
  9. Reduce Earmarks: Place a moratorium on all earmarks until the budget is balanced, and then require a 2/3 majority to pass any earmark.
  10. Reduce Taxes: Permanently repeal all recent tax increases, and extend permanently the George W. Bush temporary reductions in income tax, capital gains tax and  estate taxes currently scheduled to end in 2011.

These are the “official” Tea Party positions.

What do you think?


(Part II tomorrow, Part III Wednesday.)


William Stephenson Clark

62 Comments

Filed under Tea Party Movement

Monday, 7/19/10, Public Square

8 Comments

Filed under The Public Square

Run Sarah Run, See Sarah Run

This newly released SarahPAC video has already had almost 400,000 views.  As of June 30, SarahPAC had more than $1 million cash on hand.  It all hints that Palin plans to run for POTUS in 2012.

She stands a good chance of winning the nomination of the GOP.  Can she win the general election?  If she decides to run and doesn’t win the nomination, will her fervent fans support another nominee?  If Palin runs, wins the nomination and then loses the general election, she could leave the Republican brand in pieces.

If Palin is smarter than she is ambitious, she will not run in 2012 — she has fame, fortune, and multiple platforms to leverage for years to come.  Who wants to speculate on whether she is more ambitious than smart?

fnord

25 Comments

Filed under Elections, Radical Rightwing groups, Sarah Palin