Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Next Time...

The next time, someone mentions that "God helps those who help themselves" to you about why the government should not help the poor or have a safety net, please ask them where that it is found in the Bible. 

Hint: It's not in the Bible.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Barack Obama: The 1st Black President to be Re-elected?

I have been very cautious in my real life to not jinx Barack Obama from being re-elected so that he can serve another term as President of these here United States.  The reason for me being so cautious, is that I was under the impression that the Republican nomination would have been figured out by now.  I actually thought that Rick Perry was going to sweep through the Republican nomination process and there wouldn't even be a debate about it.  Since Rick Perry couldn't survive the gauntlet of debates the Republicans put together, he was out pretty quickly. I assume that Mitt Romney will win the nomination although I guess there is a chance of Rick Santorum running.  I don't have anything personal against either of these men.  In fact, I'm sure they're good people.  They will be running against America's first black president and it's going to be a long, dirty, expensive campaign.  By both sides, make no mistake.  Here are some arguments that people will throw out to try and make you seem like you're an idiot if you support President Obama.  I will provide you with counterarguments.  As always, this is part of a series.

1. Barack Obama is not an American citizen thus he is not eligible to be President of the United States.

Response: A) This is an implicit racial remark.  You are psychologically predisposed to think of your race moreso now than you ever were with any other president.  Because of the uncomfortableness you feel about having to think about your race's lack of superiority or monopoly on the job of president, you are looking for ways to show how Obama is different than you or I.  Instead of coming out and saying it is because he is another color and race, you are instead trying to pinpoint a location of his birth which flies in the face of conventional wisdom and logic.  By stating that he is not an American citizen and thus not eligible for being President of the United States you are implying that since he is black he is not worthy of being president.
That's what I would like to say but usually I go with choice "b".
B)  President Obama has released his long form birth certificate, you can see a copy of it on www.factcheck.org 's website.  In 2008, he released his certification of live birth. The State of Hawai'i releases the certification of live birth when citizens request for a copy of their birth certificate.  The Department of State acknowledges the certification of live birth as verification for citizenship and obtaining a passport.  The claim that Barack Obama obtained foreign aid scholarships as an undergraduate student at Occidental College is a hoax, an April Fool's joke, whatever you want to call it.  The Americans for Freedom of Information does not exist and is not a real group.  If you go FactCheck's website, you would be able to find this no problem, as well.

2. Barack Obama is a Muslim.

This is not true.  Even if it was, it doesn't matter.  The Constitution, in the 1st Amendment, allows us to have Freedom of Religion and guarantees that the country is not to pass any law which establishes a national religion.  Further, in the requirements to be President, there is nothing written that says that a president must be a Christian in order to be president of the United States.  It is certainly the case that a number of the Founding Fathers were not Christian or certainly not Christian enough for many evangelical Christians today.  For instance, Thomas Jefferson translated the New Testament and made Jesus a much more humanistic person by taking out all of the miracles.
But anyway, Obama is certainly a Christian he is a member of the Trinity United Church of Christ of Chicago.  His pastor made some controversial remarks during the 2008 campaign and Obama came under fire.  When he was sworn into the Senate, he did not swear in on the Koran.  He got sworn in with his own Bible and Dick Cheny swore him in.  There is a picture of it.  On National Public Radio on 28 March 2012, the religion of Islam in America was discussed.  It turns out that President Obama has not set foot in an American mosque during his time as President.  If you are claiming that he is a Muslim because he has apologized to Middle East Leaders, then George W. Bush is a Muslim, too.
By calling Obama a Muslim, you are resorting to using a racial slur that is still alright to say in American society today.  If you just called President Obama, black, like you want to, you would be more accurate and less likely to fall into the traps of misinformation. 

3. President Obama went an apology tour for America.

This claim makes absolutely no sense.  Let's forget what actually happened for a second.  Why does it matter if he went on an apology tour around the world to apologize for our actions?  Do we really believe that we have not done anything worth apologizing for?  Let's imagine a scenario where there is a president who does not apologize for things that we have done in the past.  What good arises from this?  Are we able to make new allies or fix relationships without apologizing for things that we have done wrong?  Forget being a president.  In any relationship, is it possible to have a healthy relationship in which one person does something wrong but never apologizes?  That's part of what builds a relationship is how people react when the going gets tough.
Enough hypotheticals.  There are two other points. 1. If he went an apology tour, he was certainly not the first president to do so.  George W. Bush apologized to the Jordanian King as the wars in the Middle East were happening.  He also explicitly apologized for the actions of America and its citizens.
2. President Obama NEVER went on an apology tour.  He never said I'm sorry or said regret.  He stated that the U.S. would not torture and was critical of the foreign policy under George W. Bush but did not apologize.  If a presdent is said to apologize every time that they are critical of foreign policy under another leader then it would be non-stop apologies.  You can read more here.

I've worked myself into a frenzy.  Hopefully, someone uses these points to you in the next couple of days before I post the next three arguments against President Obama.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Something That Makes No Sense

In The New York Times online article about the health care law, they interviewed a woman who was protesting from Seattle.  She claimed that her job had given her health insurance.  She remarked that since the government was so inefficient and wasteful, why should we allow the government to control our health care?  She also stated that if the Affordable Care Act was to stand and not deemed unconstitutional that she would drop her health insurance for the principle of the thing.  She stated that she would not trade her health for her freedom.

Why does she not drop it now?  If the law is not deemed unconstitutional then there will be penalties starting in 2014.  She could wait until the courts decide the constitutionaliy of the law or she could just drop the health insurance that she currently has.  The law is passed.  If your argument is that you will not have health insurance because you do not want the government to mandate that you have to have health insurance then you should not have health insurance now because the law is passed. The law isn't where it is going to be but the principality part of your argument is false.

So drop your health insurance.  The government has already interfered.  Your health has already compromised your freedom.

The question should have been asked to the woman, why do you continue to have health insurance then?

Scandalous

It has become somewhat common to put the word gate at the end of any pseudo-scandal or quasi-scandal in any realm of life.  We have seen it most recently with the scandal in the NFL with the New Orleans Saints.  Most people are referring to it as "bountygate."  As much as I get annoyed with people when they say incorrect things or things that have no backing whatsoever, attaching "-gate" to the end of a word to draw attention on the fact that it is a scandal is probably the most annoying thing to me.  The answer to the rhetorical question I was going to ask is obvious.  The reason for people to put "-gate" at the end of a word to make it seem more scandalous is to make everyone remember Watergate which was the scandal that brought down President Nixon's presidency. 

Watergate was the name of the office complex which hosted the Democratic National Committee.  It was not named "Water" and then had "gate" attached to it because of the fact that it was a scandal.  In all likelihood, if someone was writing the article today about Watergate they would call it Watergategate.  This is nonsenical.  But by putting "-gate" at the end we are clearly noting that it is a scandal.  There is no disagreement there.  There is no research that has to be done.  There is no conversation to be had.  We are done at that point.  Watergategate is so much worse than Watergate because we know it is a scandal before we even explain what it is about. 

Most writers who put the phrases together such as "spygate", "bountygate", or whatever probably remember what it was like being impressionable during the time of Watergate.  Or their editors do.  Hopefully, as my generation grows older, we'll realize the foolishness of putting "-gate" at the end of scandals to make them sound more interesting and we'll notice the nonsense of doing so.  In the meantime, can we please stop referring to things such as "spygate" or "bountygate"?  These are not the name of actual things but rather just ways of trying to sound smart or clever.  It would be much better if we grew up in a place where people would realize the difference between Watergate and Watergategate.  Unfortunately, we will continue to put "-gate" at the end of things because it sounds interesting or because it sounds "so much better."  It does not.  I assure you.

We've seen this problem in other areas of our lives, as well.  We have people out there who like to sound clever and put words at the end of things to explain what they are.  That's why we have "Obamacare" and "Romneycare".  The sad part is that these are adults who are forming these words and phrases and yet my generation gets blamed for not knowing our history, destroying the English language, not knowing grammar, etc.  It's embarassing.  Just stop and think.  What contributes more to the conversation using made up phrases such as "Obamacare", "spygate", or "bountygate" or by saying the Affordable Care Act, the spy scandal with the New England Patriots, or the bounties put out for injuring players by the New Orleans Saints?  It is almost as if we are afraid to have conversations with people or to use the whole phrase or sentence.  When this happens, we become more easily susceptible to propagandized phrases such as "Obamacare", "Obama Nation", etc.  The ones destroying the English language by popularizing these phrases may need to look and see what the difference is between Watergate and Watergategate. 

Spring Break: A Primer on "Obamacare" and What We Do Not Know

1. Cost for Consumers- President Obama campaigned and promised that the cost for health insurance would decrease for all consumers.  Until the law takes full effect, we will not know for certain.  "The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office created projections showing most people’s insurance costs would either decrease or stay the same."  You can find this here. 

2. Cost for taxpayers- This will certainly cost the taxpayers some money to insure the millions who are currently uninsured.  The exact cost of this is unknown until the law takes full effect.  The CBO increased their last projections by 8.6 percent.  This is found in the same article linked above.

3. "Rationing"- some arguements have been made that the Medicare payment advisory board might decrease how much they pay doctors and could wind up putting pressure on patient care.  Politifact notes that this concern is present in our current system, as well.

Spring Break: A Primer on "Obamacare" and What We Know

Last week was my spring break, which probably should have meant that I would post every day, however, I was busy researching things and found myself unable to post anything substantial over the last week.

But I'm back, as Shaquille O'Neal would say.  Obama's health care act, the Affordable Care Act, also known as "Obamacare" by Republicans is going up against the Supreme Court to see if it is unconstitutional.  In preparation for this, the great website PolitiFact has been running through the different claims about the health care law.  You can find it here, here, or here. 

In all honesty, I am not here to debate the health care law.  I will just highlight what PolitiFact has found to be true about the health care law.

What does the Affordable Care Act do?

1. Leaves in place employer-provided insurance- "It does not require employers to offer insurance, but it does impose taxes on employers if they don't offer insurance and their employees qualify for new health insurance tax credits"

2. Health Insurance Exchanges where owners of small businesses and others who have purchased health care can compare prices on health insurance and figure out the best cost.

3. More regulation for insurers- requires health insurance companies to offer preventive care and no longer allows for insurance companies to offer catastrophically high insurance plans

4. More for all- "The plan expands eligibility for insurance programs like Medicaid and the state Children's Health Insurance Program. All poor people will qualify for Medicaid. (Previously, a person had to be poor and also elderly, disabled, pregnant or a parent to qualify.) People of modest means would receive tax credits to buy their own insurance on the health insurance exchange."

5. An individual mandate- requires people to buy health insurance unless they qualify for a hardship exemption.  Those who still choose not to buy health insurance would have to pay a penalty on their taxes.

6. Changes to Medicare- "The law makes changes to how Medicare pays doctors and other health care providers. Taken as a whole, the new rules aim to pay doctors for good patient outcomes instead of paying them per procedure, also called 'fee-for-service.' The law eliminates excess payments to the Medicare Advantage program, which typically offer seniors extra benefits beyond what traditional Medicare offers. An independent payment advisory board, called IPAB, will set rules to reduce the growth of costs and improve the quality of care for Medicare beneficiaries. Its recommendations would take effect unless Congress overrules them."

7. New Taxes- "To pay for the expanded health care coverage, the law institutes several new taxes. One of the biggest is increasing Medicare payroll taxes for couples who make more than $250,000 a year and individuals who make more than $200,000; their rates go from 2.9 percent to 3.8 percent, and the 3.8 percent applies to investment income as well. There’s a new tax of 2.3 percent on manufacturers and importers of certain medical devices. Those provisions start in 2013. There’s also a tax on high-dollar 'Cadillac' plans that cost more than average that starts in 2018. A new 10 percent tax on indoor tanning is already in place, as well as increased taxes on tobacco to pay for children’s health insurance."
It's important to note that the SCHIP law was the first one President Obama signed into law which raised taxes on tobacco prodcuts to help fund a state-sponsored children's health insurance program.

8. Research on better treatments- a research center will help reserach the best and newest treatments so that people will not rely on outdated treatments.

9. Electronic Records- making it so that there is a standard electronic record for each patient so that each person when they go to the doctor can have an updated list of all treatments and everything they have been treated for.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Up, Simba

The greatest article written by a non-political writer about politics and why it is important to vote is "Up, Simba" by David Foster Wallace.  If you have never read anything by David Foster Wallace you should either read that article or "Consider the Lobster"; those are my two favorites written by him.  I'll quote him in a few days when I write about the importance of voting.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Rule Breaker: George Washington

While sitting in my living room with a stomach ache that can only be described as having drank too much last night and not having enough water today, I was thinking about presidents and the Constitution.  I decided to see if I can look every president and find them breaking the Constitution in some way. 

Full disclosure, I am only going to put up the presidents breaking the rules as I find them. This will not be a comprehensive list but rather just a quick guide.  I hope this is useful when people tell you that Obama is the only president to break the Constitution or some ridiculous statement that is similar.

Let's start at the beginning.

George Washington: There's no way George Washington broke the Constitution because he was a founding father and knew the original intent. But I'll look anyway. 

Possible violations:
I can't confirm that the Senate voted on the appointments of George Washington.
Circumvented Pennsylvania's Gradual Abolition Act which made Pennsylvania inhospitable to slaveholders. Not breaking the Constitutional law but he is a lawbreaker.
The Residence Act of 1790 authorized the President to select the specific location of the permanent seat of government. Sounds like it should have been voted on.
Created a national bank. It is not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution.
The Whiskey Rebellion- he used military force to exercise control over citizens.
Executive orders or presidential proclamations- not mentioned in the Constitution
Executive privilege regarding the House ratifying the Jay Treaty. Executive privilege is not mentioned in the Constitution.
Also established the number of justices on the Supreme Court, there is no mention how many justices are supposed to be there.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

FactCheck Scratches Me Right Where I Itch

Thank you FactCheck for posting this.  Hopefully, this gives you some idea about global warming.  I only wish they had posted this earlier to put in my earlier blog post.  But, oh well.  Thanks FactCheck!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Something That Happened

A friend of my parents posted a status on Facebook on Super Tuesday that said "Newt Gingrich = $2.50 gas."

Naturally, I commented on the status hoping to keep the record straight.  I thought that he was being ironic with his statement.  I found this not to be the case.  I was defriended after doing the following so I am paraphrasing what was said. I commented with just links to the different FactCheck articles I have read showing that the $2.50 gasoline is just an empty talking point.

He said lame stream media is distorting what would happen.

I asked for a source from him that showed that $2.50 gasoline was a viable option.  I then commented that FactCheck is anything but a "lame stream" media source. Although, I am not 100% sure what that means.  I merely linked him to an article on FactCheck that showed that Democrats were lying about the Republicans ending medicare.

He asked why I linked the article.

I replied that I was showing that FactCheck does both sides of the argument.  Another person commented that Obama's socialist regulations were impacting gas prices and making them skyrocket.  I linked the articles again.  This time, asking why the gas prices were so high under George W. Bush if it was the regulations.  I closed my statement with saying that the president does not control gas prices or have really any impact on gas prices.

After several hours, I am hoping he was looking for a source to back him up, he replied with you don't know how politics work you are too young.

I answered that I am a senior at the University of Nebraska-Omaha with a political science major.  I also do quite a bit of reading on politics on my own and blog about it occasionally.

He answered that it doesn't matter what I'm studying in college. Until I go out in the real world, I will not understand what the president does or does not control.

After a few deep breaths, I typed that had I agreed with you on any of your other political statements you would not have appealed to such a fallacy in logic.  You are getting defensive because I am showing you something that is counter to what you believe.  This is a common bias in processing information, however, if you were to read the articles that I have posted and think about them, you would realize that FactCheck and other sources similar to it can be trusted.  If you are to continue posting things that are simply not true about politics on Facebook, I will call you out on it or at least ask you to soure your arguments.  This is the only way to have a rational discussion about politics.  I am sorry if you do not feel this way and wish only to discuss things with people who share your point of view.

I was then defriended.

Monday, March 12, 2012

A Totally Unrelated but Frustrating Note

Sarah Palin's SuperPAC website froze my computer. I'm taking it as a sign.

Some Clever Word Play with Sarah Palin's Name in it

So, I went to Sarah Palin's website.  Apparently, there are over 3 million people who like her on Facebook.  Really?  There are really 3 million people who admit to liking Sarah Palin.  I went to her website because I read an article today about the HBO movie Game Change about how Tom Hanks "has to destroy Sarah Palin."  At the bottom of the article was the comments section.  One of the commenters noted that originally he/she bought into the original liberal interpretations that Sarah Palin was too dumb to chew gum and walk at the same time.  He/she said that Palin was one of the few American politicians who probably knew what was happening in this country better than the rest.  I will not disagree that point.  She is a brilliant politician and a brilliant strategist.  She is also very attractive and likeable by some in the Republican party as evidenced by her 3 million likes on Facebook. 

However, she says dumb things. 

Remember this?  Here's a transcript as it appears in the Boston Herald, as linked on Palin's website.  Revere “warned the British that they weren’t going to be taking away our arms by ringing those bells and making sure as he’s riding his horse through town to send those warning shots and bells that we were going to be secure and we were going to be free.”

That's not quite what happened. Fair enough.

Here's what Palin put on her website.  If you click on read more and then read the rest, you finally get to the Boston Herald article she's referring to.  I click on it and it shows Paul Revere wrote in his letter that he warned the British after his capture that he had warned Americans about the fact they were coming.  Another historian noted that Revere basically told the British you would be confronting Americans.  There were church bells ringing and there were shots fired.

One of the historians at the Paul Revere House is not so sure that is what she meant.  He further called Palin lucky in her comments. 

Fine.  He warned the British.  Awesome.  There were warning shots fired and church bells ringing.  That's good because you know, he was warning the Americans that the British were coming.  So all that is right.  You know what didn't happen?  He didn't tell the British you can't take our arms.  Regardless. He never said anything of the sort.  The letter that they're quoting said,"there would be five hundred Americans there in a short time for I had alarmed the Country all the way up.”  Sweet.

I'm aware that the British were ostensibly there to take some of the ammunition supplies that we, as Americans, had.  There is nothing to indicate that Revere told the British that they were not going to take our arms away.  He may have talked to the British and said there are Americans to all the way up.  It sounds like a bluff to me, but oh well.

You should probably just read PolitiFact's ruling on it.

I'll note something quickly and move on.  Revere's famous ride was not made famous because he warned the British.  It was because he warned the Americans.  He knew the right people to warn.  There was another person who did the same type of midnight ride to warn Americans.  He was less susccessful and it was concluded by some historians that those were loyalist towns.  That was probably incorrect.  There's a small discussion about Revere's ride in the book The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell.

To claim this article is vindication for the fact that YOU messed up in history is misleading. It is compounded by the fact that you hide the article in three ways before we are able to click on the article itself.  If you did all that work then you would actually read what the article is about. 

Governor Palin, you talk about diversionary tactics that the far Left uses to distract us from the real issues.  This is a diversionary tactic, in its own right.  The real issue is that you were wrong about your history or at the very least confused.  You made some questionable comments.  Instead of moving on and admitting that you misspoke, you dug your heels in.  You claimed that if we knew our history we would see your side of the story.  So you became more stubborn.  Your followers believed you.  You were called out on it even more and you dug in even more.  The real issue isn't that you were wrong.  It's the way you reacted when you realized you were in the wrong. 


  

Saturday, March 10, 2012

My letter to Newt Gingrich

I e-mailed Newt Gingrich a letter for him and/or his staff to answer a few months ago.  I never heard back.  Here is a copy of the letter.

Dear Speaker Gingrich and staff,
I am a registered Independent voter in the 2nd District of Nebraska. I am a senior political science major at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. My area of interest is particularly in American political behavior and elections. Because of this, I am paying very close attention to the 2012 election.
I have a few general questions about the various issues that you have posted here on your website. On the website, you claim that we should repeal Dodd-Frank because it is killing small independent banks. On politifact.com, they ran that statement and found that community banks have nearly doubled their returns on assets. Chris Cole, senior vice president of the Independent Community Bankers of America has saved the community banks about $4.5 billion dollars in FDIC fees. He goes on to state that Dodd-Frank "has not been all that bad." In fact, most experts that I have read seem to indicate that Dodd-Frank is not that bad to community banks but rather is tougher on larger banks and corporations. I would like to know what information you are using to justify your claim that Dodd-Frank is killing independent or community banks?
Additionally, I am confused how you, as President, would balance the budget with the tax cuts you are putting in place? I see that we would have an optional flat tax of 15%, which is the effective tax rate of Mitt Romney. However, if we continue with the example of Mitt Romney, in your new tax plan his tax rate would be closer to zero as most of his income was from investments. Additionally, eliminating the death tax would limit the amount of revenue you are going to bring in, as well. I was curious as to what figures you were using that showed that eliminating different governmental bureaucracies would be able to cut enough money off the deficit to make up for the loss of revenue these tax cuts would make?
Your strategies for defeating radical Islamism seem like they would violate Constitutional rights of Islamic-Americans. If for instance, an American citizen was practicing radical "Islamism" in America, his rights are guaranteed through the Constitution under the First Amendment. Once the American radical Islamist moves to attack America, only then would he breaking the law but if you are in fact marginalizing and punishing him/her before then you are viiolating his/her Constitutional rights. This seems incompatible with what you say about the 2nd Amendment rights. I also think that marginalizing radicals would make them more likely to join in a terrorist attack. Osama bin Laden said that because America is interfering in the Middle East then they deserve the terrorist attacks. I would like more clarification on how marginalizing the radical Islamists will, in fact, stop radical terrorists. Also, is the war in Afghanistan effectively a war on Islam or on terrorists or are they the same thing?
On your website, you claim that we should remove bureaucratic and legal obstacles for the responsible development of oil and natural gas in United States both offshore and on land. What exactly are the bureaucratic and legal obstacles in the way right now? What classifies as responsible development of oil and natural gas? What if instead of devoting time, energy, and resources on non-renewable energy sources we devoted the same time, energy, and resources on developing better uses of renewable energy sources? If we were to develop our own renewable energy resources and be the best at that, would that not a) create jobs and b) develop new energy sources that are not from dangerous countries, especially the Middle East? A company in Michigan stated that for each kilowatt of wind energy produced, they created 4.8 jobs. I am curious as to why with your focus on creating jobs, expanding the economy, and ridding America of the dependence on foreign energy, that you are not discussing the need for the development of renewable energy resources?
Further, we could rely less on foreign oil if we are able to re-drill in some of the places we have already drilled because our technology has improved so much that we would be able to get more oil from where we already drilled.
I don't see how re-naming the EPA is going to solve any of the issues. While this may be a good talking point for some of the more conservative of your constiuents, it does nothing to address the issues that you have brought up. I think that by re-naming it and trying to re-shape it we are going to instead be terminating jobs and rely on the states to find the cheapest way to produce energy. In doing so, we are allowing there to be energy monopolies in states instead of innovating for newer technologies. We have an agreement in Omaha, Nebraska with OPPD and MUD.
I would also like some clarification on 2nd Amendment rights. Are you in favor of no restrictions of what arms I am able to bear? In the Constitution it states a well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. As I read it, that means that I am allowed to have a gun if I am connected to the militia. However, in District of Columbia v. Heller, the court ruled that I have the right to have a gun unconnected with the militia service. I would also like clarification about whether or not that was a judicial activist judge since strictly in the constitution it states that a well regulated militia is necessary and that is why we need guns. I fear that your claims about judicial activist judges are trying to make sure that you have judges who only agree with your interpretation of the Constitution and that is not the intent of checks and balances in the Constitution. But I digress. Setting aside the issue of the militia, if I am a strict constructionist of the Constitution does that mean I can only own guns that the Constitution knew about? For instance, since there were no automatic or semi-automatic weapons during the Constitution, do I have a right to this gun because the framers of the Constitution could not even imagine this gun? Where does it become a limit on what time of arms I might bear? Since the Constitution does not directly forbid me from owning bombs, am I allowed to own bombs? Is it not my right to own those, as well? Is there a limit?
Your Keystone Pipeline day one plan states that it would bring 120,000 jobs to the United States. I was curious as to where you got that figure. According to the testimony of Alex Pourbaix of TransCanada Corp., his estimation was that it would bring 20,000 jobs. The Washington Post stated the chief executive of TransCanada, stated that there would be 13,000 direct construction jobs that were one person one year, meaning that if the job was two years that would be 6500 jobs. Also, the Washington Post stated that most of the indirect construction jobs would come from outside of the United States. I would imagine that this is because of the cost of labor, parts, etc. According to factcheck.org, the United States Department of State's Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs study concluded that, the construction jobs would 5,000 to 6,000 workers, including Keystone employees, contractor employees, and construction and environmental staff. Since your figures are anywhere from 6 times to 20 times what others have said, I am curious where this number is coming from.
I have additional questions, too, but I was hoping to keep this as short, as I could. I know I failed at that, as well. At any rate, I am hoping that my questions get answered as I would truly want to be fully informed and want to avoid the misinformation that is out there. As we get closer to the 2012, I am hoping that politicians such as yourself, address questions such as these, so each voter can actually decide based on the correct information which candidate is right for them. Additionally, I think that the American public deserves to have politicians tell them the truth instead of a series of misdirections in ploys to get themselves elected.
Sincerely,
Josiah

It's like looking into a weird mirror where you see yourself as Newt Gingrich

A quick profile of Newt Gingrich.

Finances:
Here is his opensecrets page
As you can see from his financial records, 1.2 million dollars has been raised from small individual contributions and 1.6 million dollars have been raised from large individual contributions.

If we break it down by industries, over $300,000 have been raised by something that opensecrets labels as retired. My assumption is that, retired means those are individual contributors who are, in fact, retired. Approximately $250,000 was given by the label of miscellaneous business. His third highest, was finance, insurance, and real estate at approximately $200,000. In fourth place, was health at approximately $90,000. Rounding out the top 5 was lawyers and lobbyists at approximately $80,000.

This report was given in September 2011.

Newt Gingrich and Debates:

I've outlined some of his other talking points earlier and these are some of the ones that come up time and time again.


1. The foodstamp president.
Gingrich has stated that more people have been put on food stamps under Barack Obama than any other president. While the number of people currently on food stamps is at its highest level, the number of new enrollees being added to foodstamps under President Barack Obama is currently at 14.2 million (according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food and Nutrition Service) but during George W. Bush's presidency the number of enrollees rose by 14.7 million. Factcheck investigated this claim and stated that "It’s possible that when the figures for January 2012 are available they will show that the gain under Obama has matched or exceeded the gain under Bush. But not if the short-term trend continues. The number getting food stamps declined by 43,528 in October."
Of those who had income low enough to qualify only 54 percent actually signed up for it in 2002 but that number rose to 72 percent in 2009. USDA has stated that the rise in those signing up for foodstamps has been because of the efforts of state and local governments who streamlined the application process, as well as reduced the amount of information that applicants have to report in order to maintain their eligibility and benefit levels. Others have speculated that since there are no longer actual food stamps but rather EBT (Electronic Benefits Transfer) cards that are used similarly to credit cards.

2. Balancing the budget
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich likes to claim that he balanced the budget for four years. This is not true in the first place, as two of the years that the budget had a surplus for were after Gingrich was no longer the Speaker of the House. There are legitimate debates on how much he was responsible for the second year of the balanced budget, as well, since he was done by the end of the fiscal year.
Further, how much responsibility did Gingrich have in balancing the budget?
Per politifact.com, "The budget ended up balancing faster than either party expected simply because economic growth was so strong," said Chris Edwards, an economist at the libertarian Cato Institute. "I don’t think either party had much to do with that."
In his 1996 budget, "Clinton proposed to stabilize the deficit at around $190 billion. He did not propose to balance the budget. The Republicans under Gingrich pushed him into it," Edwards said, and that materialized in the Balanced Budget Act of 1997.
Steve Ellis, vice president for Taxpayers for Common Sense stated that the tax increases in 1993, which generated more revenue, was at least somewhat responsible for Congress to be able to balance the budget.

3. Right to work states vs. Union States

This one is a bit of an old claim but Gingrich claimed that the right to work states are creating a lot more jobs than the unionized states. Since April 2001, there was a slight increase in private sector jobs in the 22 right to work states. In the 28 other states, there was a small decrease in private sector jobs.

To read politifact's ruling, click here

4. Gingrich "reminds people who probably didn't know that she was on the ethics committee, that it was a very partisan political committee and that the way I was dealt with related more to the politics of the Democratic Party than to ethics. And I think in that sense, it actually helps me in getting people to understand, this was a Nancy Pelosi-driven effort. They filed 85 charges and 84 were dismissed. The only one was a conflicting lawyer's letter. And then the Democrats just held out for partisan reasons."

Well, no. Politifact rated that as a "pants on fire" claim. The ethics committee is the only committee in the House that has an even number of Democrats and Repubicans. The committee does not move forward with a formal investigation unless the committee has majority support. In case, you are scoring at home, that means that at least one member of each party has to vote to move forward with the full investigation.

Per politifact, "on Jan. 17, 1997, the full committee held nearly six hours of televised hearings before voting 7 to 1 to accept the subcommittee’s recommendation. Voting to accept it were three Republicans -- Chairwoman Nancy Johnson of Connecticut, Steve Schiff of New Mexico and Porter Goss of Florida."

The House voted to pass the ethics report, 395 to 28. 196 Republicans voting for it and 26 Republicans voting against it.

Further, Gingrich accepted what some have called a plea bargain. He agreed to admit one count of wrongdoing and pay $300,000. It seems to us, at The Informed Voter and Politifact, if Gingrich really thought that the process was unfair, he could've taken his case to the House floor where the Republicans held the majority.

To read politifact's statements, click here
5. The war on Christmas.
Gingrich claimed that no federal official at any level can wish anyone a Merry Christmas. Politifact "checked with the American Federation of Government Employees, a labor union for federal workers. A spokeswoman said she checked with the union’s legal staff and they confirmed the view that federal workers are allowed to say 'Merry Christmas.'"

While it is true, that the White House fits the political party for the bill to send out their Christmas cards, this is because of the separation of church and state, as well as the idea that the Christmas cards might be political in nature.

The House and Senate are both restricted with their use of taxpayer funds to send out Christmas cards, birthday cards, anniversary cards, condolence cards, etc.

Per politifact, the House regulations are dated back to June 1998 when he was the Speaker of the House and John Boehner was on the committee that wrote the rules.

To read politifact's ruling, click here

6. Gingrich continually claims that Dodd-Frank is destroying community banks.

Thank goodness for politifact, "the first thing to note is that one year after the passage of Dodd-Frank, community banks are healthier. By convention, any bank with assets of less than $1 billion is a community bank. According to the latest report from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, for that group of banks, a key measure of profitability, return on assets, has doubled in the past year, growing from 0.26 percent a year ago to 0.57 percent in the second quarter of 2011. Return on assets has been higher this year than in any quarter going back to the start of 2008 before the great meltdown."

Chris Cole, senior vice president of the Independent Community Bankers of America stated that the community banks are actually healthier than they were last year. While Dodd-Frank has done both some good things and bad things to the community banks it has saved community banks about $3.5 billion in fees that they pay to the FDIC.

"'A lot of the stuff in Dodd-Frank is really meant to be targeted at the big guys, not the small ones,' said Arthur Wilmarth, a law professor at George Washington University Law School who testifies regularly on Capitol Hill on banking issues. Wilmarth said many more rules could exempt smaller banks depending on how they are written. The ultimate decision on debit card fees is a good example. Not only did regulators raise the allowable fee, the law exempted all banks with assets under $10 billion from the new rule."


There are other issues that may come up later, but these are the major ones I've been hearing. If there are other issues that you want to see addressed here, put it in the comments.

Arm yourself with knowledge so you're ready when people make ignorant statements. Get yourself ready because ignorant statements will always be around

20 Actual Truths That Will Shock Conservatives Part 2: 11-20

11. George W. Bush was the president who first started the bailouts.

It's true. You can look it up. I'll wait. You can just google it if you want. Just type in stimulus plan 2008. More accurately, it would be called TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program).  The first half of the funds were released in the fall of 2008.  The second half of the funds was released after Obama took office.

12. The stimulus plan/package has crated jobs.

Despite what many Republicans have said when they claim that the stimulus plan has not created any jobs, the stimulus package has created anywhere from 1.4 and 3.3 million jobs. If you check this out, you'll see that the stimulus package raised the GDP by between 1.7 and 4.5%.  It also lowered the unemployment rate by 0.7-1.8%.  PolitiFact went over this, too.  If you click on that link, you'll see that they go over it time and time again.  Further, there is accountability from the government.  If you bothered to try and track it, you'll see where the money is going.

13. The "liberal bias" in media is overblown, unless you are watching a comedic news show.

I would argue that there is a stonger bias out there in the media for conservatives, with Fox News and MSNBC among others, including local news in conservative strongholds.  More than likely conservatives are reacting to a bias in process.  There are a number of biases in processing.  The two most common are confirmation bias and defensive bias.  Confirmation bias is the most common.  In this bias you actively seek out information that confirmas your original belief.  To give an example, if you know that the stimulus plan didn't create any jobs you're going to find news out there that shows that it didn't create any jobs.  Defensive bias is the bias where you see competing information and you get defensive just confirming your original knowledge of the situation.  These two biases are constantly at work and are probably largeley responsible for the ideat that there is an active bias in the media.

14. Barack Obama has worked hard to try and get the majority of his promises turned into reality.

If you're interested, you can go here.  So far he has kept 170 of his promises, compromised on 52, broke 63, 67 of them are stalled, 154 are in the works, and 2 are not yet rated.

15. Part of the problem that people have with Barack Obama is implicit racism.

I am not claiming that each person whodoes not like Barack Obama is an explicit racist.  What I am saying is that since Barack Obama is our first black president, we, as white people, have had to face something we have never faced before.  There is substantial literature on political psychology and racism out there if you want to do the reading, if you do not believe me.  But basically, since Barack Obama is black every time that white people see him, we are reminded that he is not white. This gives us a heightened sense of our own race.  In doing this, we realize that Obama is different than us.  We begin to look for things so we can derogate him and his policies. You can see this in action with the claims from mainly white people that Obama is not from the United States or any number of the ridiculous claims that people make.  It's not explicitly racist, it's the fact that in our minds we are suddenly more aware of our race than ever before.

16. Not all regulation is bad.

Without any regulation we can go back in time to time of the robber barons.  We could go back in time and see the effects of a monopolizing company such as Standard Oil.  We don't even have to go that far back in time to see the effects of monopolization.  A fun fact of the day, according to Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell and common sense 14 of the richest 75 people ever in the world were born within 9 years of each other.  They were all born from 1831-1840.  You had the creation of the railroads, the switch to an oil energy source, the creation of Wall Street, etc.  This was before regulation set in.  Does this mean liberals are anti-wealth because they favor regulation? No. In 2000, the Glass-Steagall act was essentially repealed DEREGULATING the banking industry.  Within ten years, we had the banking collapse that we saw in 2008 and continuing to present day.  I could go through all of the examples where deregulation led to a collapse of an industry but I only needed to find one to show that not all regulation is bad.

17. Supporting the war and supporting the troops are two totally separate ideas.

Logically, this makes sense, however, people will sometimes claim that if you do not support the war you do not support the troops.  I would argue, by not supporting the war you are supporting the troops even greater because it creates a possibility for the war to no longer to continue.  The greatest way to support a troop is to ensure that he or she will not die in vain.  If I don't support the wars in the Middle East, which I don't, it doesn't mean I don't support our troops over there.  If it wasn't for the largely young and poor troops volunteering then I would have to be a soldier.  I would be a terrible soldier.  I have friends in the military, they make a larger sacrifice than I ever could. Most of them are disenchanted for the reasons why we're over there. 

18. Allowing gays in the military will not destroy the integrity of the military.  Also, the straight soldiers will not get raped.

To claim otherwise, is so homophobic and ignorant.  I'll just link this.  I'll point out a couple of other things real quick. 

1. I went to a history conference a few years ago about the definition of warrior or soldier in our society.  One of the panelists argued that we should repeal "don't ask, don't tell" because marines stationed in islands during World War II would have sex with each other during their long time together. 
2. Baron von Steuben was gay.  You might remember him for his work in training Washingtion's soldiers in the Revolutionary War.  Arguably, you could say that there would not be an America without the gays.

19. Allowing gays to marry does not destroy the idea of marriage.

It seeks to re-defined the traditional defintion of marriage.  This is not the first time that we are seeking to re-define this definition.  Before the civil rights movement, it could be argued that the traditional definition of marriage was between two people of the same rae.  In Biblical times, it was not uncommon for a man to have several wives and concubines.  Just look at Solomon.  He had over 700 wives and 300 concubines.  So, if you argue that gays should not be married because of what the Old Testament, then you must allow for polygamy.  You must also for the death penalty for a whole multitude of sins.  Just look through Leviticus sometime.

You know what destroys the idea of marriage?  Escalating divorce rates, drunk marriages, celebrity marriages, shotgun weddings, immigration marriages, etc.  Yet these are all acceptable.

20. Global warming is not a myth. What is debated is how much of global warming is caused by humans. 

I'm tired of debating this with people.  I believe that we are the cause for much of what we have noticed is global warming. 
I'll just put some links here that you can look at, at your convenience.
This, this, this

The point is this: global warming is happening.  It's a matter of debate of how much is due to humans and how much of it is due to the natural ebbs and flows of the earth cycle.  It's not something that somebody made up and then claimed didn't exist anymore.  It's happening.

If you're like me and want to stop humans contributing to global warming, write your congressman to try and get more renewable energy sources, call for the creation of more hybrids, ask for federal funding for the creation of renewable energy source research, and close out factory farming.  My suggestions for the most part come from The End of Oil and Eating Animals.   Two more books that come highly recommended.  Yes, I read more than the average person.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Why I Get Upset on Facebook


It should probably read "Repost if you're against abortion."

A Few Random Probably Nyquil Induced Thoughts

Nyquil is unofficially sponsoring this blog as it is helping me beat this sinus/cold thing that I have.

Rick Santorum: "When my grandfather came to this country back in 1925, there were no government benefits."
Is there a funny YouTube video I can post with this?  Hmmm. I guess I'll just stick to the facts.  To sum up: There were Veteran's Benefits (started in 1862), Worker Compensation (started in 1908, enacted in all but four states by 1929), Local government aid to the poor, schools and universities (tuition was much cheaper due to subsidies), and health funding for mothers and newborns ("President Warren G. Harding signed the Sheppard-Towner Maternity and Infancy Protection Act, which gave states matching federal funds to build and operate prenatal and child health care centers.").

The House passed a bill giving small businesses easier access to investments. Apparently, there is some heated words between Democrats and Republicans about who should receive credit for passing this bill. Who cares?  We'll see if it does any good.

The Keystone Pipeline is stalled again.  Barack Obama personally called Democrat leaders to vote against passing the bill. Mitch McConnell: “Think about it. At a moment when millions are out of work, gas prices are literally skyrocketing and the Middle East is in turmoil, we’ve got a president who is up making phone calls trying to block a pipeline here at home. It’s really almost unbelievable.”

Like I've stated before, the President has nothing to do with gas prices.  Seriously, this is getting ridiculous. There was an amendment in this current bill that required the steel and all the materials gathered for the pipeline to be created for the United States.  Even if we operate under that assumption that is not going to make a dent in the unemployment numbers.  Newt Gingrich is wrong when he claims 120,000 jobs will be created.  I've been using the research from the Washington Post and FactCheck that shows that only about 20,000 jobs will be created.  It remains to be seen how many jobs would have been created if the new amendment would have been passed.  My guess?  Not much more than 20,000. 

Happy International Ladies Day!  To celebrate, the governor of Virginia is only going to require abdominal ultrasounds when you need to get an abortion instead of transvaginal ultrasounds.  Remember. This is important. You're not required to look at the ultrasound.  That's too invasive.

Lee Terry Fun Fact of the Day: This is my favorite fun fact for him.  Lee Terry voted against HR 847- 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.  This basically paid for 9/11 first responders' health care and extended coverage of the 9/11 victim compensation fund.  He then voted to prohibit funding to Planned Parenthood.  But he voted against House Amendment 92 which would have prohibited the use of federal funds for NASCAR sponsorships.  Planned Parenthood and 9/11 first responders and even 9/11 victims are not worthy of federal funds.  NASCAR is.

The Religious Right: Smoking and Voting

It probably comes as no surprise for those out there who know me but I believe that we should legalize marijuana.  Guess who agrees with me? Pat Robertson.  According to the New York Times Pat Robertson said, “I really believe we should treat marijuana the way we treat beverage alcohol.”  That seems like a pretty solid statement.  One that I probably agree with. Pat Robertson went on to say that he believes that "this war on drugs just hasn’t succeeded.”  I would agree with that, too.  Instead, because of the war on drugs we have thousands of people in jail for non-violent crimes and millions arrested. 

Sam Harris in The End of Faith argues that "any drug...to which spiritual or religious significance has been ascribed by its users has been prohibited.  Concerns about the health of our citizens, or about their productivity, are red herrings in this debate, as the legality of alcohol and cigarettes attests."  I am going to quote Sam Harris extensively for awhile.  If you have not read The End of Faith it comes highly recommended from me.

Let's compare alcohol to marijuana.  Millions of people have done this, this is only a slight exaggeration. You could probably find a more complete list of the comparisons on any number of sites promoting the legality of marijuana.  Alcohol "has no approved medical use, and its lethal dose is rather easily achieved" (Harris).  "The manner in which alcohol relieves people of their inhibitions contributes to human violence, personal injury, unplanned pregnancy, and the spread of sexual disease" is beyond dispute (ibid.).  Further, when it is "consumed in large quantities over many years, it can lead to devastating neurological impairments, to cirrhosis of the liver, and to death" (ibid.). "In the United States alone, more than 100,000 people annually die from its use" (ibid.).  As a personal note, I have gone to the hospital for the effects of alcohol poisoning and very nearly reached the lethal dose.  According to most reports around the BAC (blood alcohol content) level of 0.4, it would be the lethal dose.  My BAC, as measured at the hospital was a 0.32.  Alcohol is also more toxic to a developing fetus than any other drug of abuse. Harris reports that "crack babies" appear to have been really suffering from fetal alcohol syndrome (ibid.). 

Harris, then, turns his attention to marijuana.  "As a drug, marijuana is nearly unique in having several medical applications and no known lethal dosage" (Harris).  It should be noted around this point, that Harris is a neuroscientist.  Harris argues that "while adverse reactions to drugs like aspirin and ibuprofen account for an estimated 7,600 deaths (and 76,000 hospitalizations) each year in the United States alone, marijuana kills no one (ibid.).  The claim of "marijuana as a 'gateway drug' now seems less plausible than ever" (ibid.). 

Harris argues that "under our current laws, it is safe to say, if a drug were invented that posed no risk of physical harm or addiction to its users but produced a brief feling of spiritual bliss and epiphany in 100 percent of those who tried it, this drug would be illegal, and people would be punished mercilessly for its use" (ibid.).

So why am I excited for Pat Robertson to come out and say that he is for the legalization of marijuana?  I agree with Sam Harris.  I think that we are religious prudes and are afraid of a drug that provides us with any sense of spiritual bliss or epiphany.  We punish those who have any interest in having these epiphanies.  I know that those who are against smoking marijuana, I won't convince, and those that are for the legalization of marijuana will just use this for confirmation bias.  It's tiring to campaign for something you believe in such as the legalization of marijuana and seeing nothing take place at a federal level.  However, as states relax their current laws, we may finally see the laws reduced to the point where we say an outright legalization of marijuana.  We came close in California but as Stephen Colbert said, "right now, it's easier for people to get marijuana right now in California than it is for them to vote."  We actually need to show up and vote at the elections.  We need to read the ballot measures and show up. If you don't vote, you are essentially giving two votes to someone who does vote. The lesson, as always, show up and vote. Otherwise nothing will change.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

George W. Bush: Great President or Greatest President?

My favorite George W Bush moment.

I miss him.

George W. Bush Apologizing for America?

There has been a new Facebook post out there that lists a bunch of (P)Residential Firsts. First person who explains to me why the "P" is in parantheses, I will award 50 bonus points.

One of these firsts is that it's the first time a President went on an apology tour for America.  Well just today, as I was researching my latest blog post, I came across the following nugget of George W. Bush goodness.

You can read it here or here.

But basically, George W. Bush apologized for America. "I told His Majesty as plainly as I could that the wrongdoers will be brought to justice, and that the actions of those folks in Iraq do not represent the values of the United States of America. I told him I was sorry for the humiliation suffered by the Iraqi prisoners, and the humiliation suffered by their families. I told him I was equally sorry that people who have been seeing those pictures didn't understand the true nature and heart of America."

Did you see that?  He said I'm sorry! Oh goodness! He's the first president EVER to go overseas and apologize for America!
(Note: I am not being serious.  Nor do I think it's a big deal that a president would go overseas and apologize for the actions of a country.)
Where the hell was the liberal media on this?

On a serious note, why is it a big deal for the President of the United States to apologize for the way his country has behaved?  Do we really live in that big of an American love bubble that we think we have been perfect?  Is it not a bigger deal for the President to not apologize for past actions?  I honestly don't understand the catastrophe that is going to happen if a president goes around the world apologizing to countries for our wrongdoings. 

Listen (more accurately read). We screw up. We're humans. That's what the Bible says. What matters is that typically we are around to pick up the pieces when we screw up. Stop blaming Obama for apologizing for America when a) he didn't do it and b) it's not a big deal if he did.

For a country that is supposedly trying to tout its Christian values shouldn't we practice the art of confession and forgiveness?

My apologoies for sounding overly cynical or sarcastic.  I had to edit it so I didn't talk about gay marriages and abortions. I'm a terrible person. Time to load up on Nyquil.

20 Actual Truths That Will Shock Conservatives Part 1: 1-10

After the list that I saw yesterday, I decided to post my own 20 truths that will shock conservatives.  My truths will actually be backed up by facts.  Let's define truth.

Truth- the actual state of a matter or a verified or indisputable fact, proposition, principle, or the like.

1. Barack Obama is eligible to be president because he was born in the United States.

Barack Obama released his long form birth certificate in 2011. You can find it here.  If you want a more detailed explanation of debunking the birther myths.  You can click here, here, or here.  I'm sure there's plenty else out there.  But that's a good starting point.

2. The national debt has not risen as much as you think.

You can plug in the dates here to make sure I'm right.  The total debt on Barack Obama's inauguration date was $10.6 trillion.  Today, March 5, 2012 it is almost $15.5 trillion.  The numbers that FactCheck use are from the end of January 2012 and show the debt at $15.4 trillion.  You can see their analysis here.  The rise in the national debt in terms of actual dollars will be the highest dollar increase in United States history.  But, George W. Bush's increase of the national debt was at a higher percentage of 85% as compared to Obama's 45%.  Additionally, we see that Reagan increased the national debt by 190%.

3. The President does not control gas prices. 

I've already posted about this.  You can click through my article and see the research I put into finding this information.  The article can be found here. 

4. President Barack Obama did not go on an "apology tour."

Mitt Romney began his 2012 Presidential campaign by saying that Barak Obama began his presidency going around the world apologizing for America.  This is simply not true.  In case you didn't click on the link.  Here's a quick summary:
He never apologized.  He never said,"I'm sorry" or "sorry".  He spoke in conciliatory tones.  PolitiFact argues that by "using this standard, you could argue that any change in foreign policy that’s undertaken after a presidential transition and announced to the world would constitute an "apology" for the previous policy."

Even if he went on an apology tour, he was certainly not the first president to apologize.  Just to give an example, George W. Bush apologized King Abdullah of Jordan in 2004.  Saying,  "I told His Majesty as plainly as I could that the wrongdoers will be brought to justice, and that the actions of those folks in Iraq do not represent the values of the United States of America. I told him I was sorry for the humiliation suffered by the Iraqi prisoners, and the humiliation suffered by their families. I told him I was equally sorry that people who have been seeing those pictures didn't understand the true nature and heart of America."

5. "Obamacare" will not destroy jobs.

Here's FactCheck's analysis.  You can click here, here, or here.  Basically, there will be a small loss of jobs which are low-paying, part-time, or seasonal.  This is without even looking at the various jobs gained by health insurance companies and the like.

6. Pro-life people and pro-choice people have the same end goal.

If you're pro-choice, it does not make you pro-abortion or pro-death.  The ultimate goal of both pro-life and pro-choice people is to end all abortions.  Pro-lifers are waiting to try to get rid of all abortions by waiting until there is no other way out.  Pro-lifers and pro-choicers need to form an alliance and try to eradicate unintended pregnancies.  Unintended pregnancies account for nearly half of all abortions.  Nearly 40% of all unintended pregnancies end in abortions.  So, let's try to get rid of unintended pregnancies.

7. Attributing beliefs to the "Founding Fathers" is dangerous and you're probably wrong when you do these things.

I broached this subject in my last post when I did a response to "20 Truths that will Shock Liberals."  But, I'll repeat some of what I said.
The first problem when you do this is you need to define what you mean by the "Founding Fathers."  Some people might define it by those who signed the Declaration of Independence.  Others might define it by those who signed the Constitution.  Others, still, might define it by those who were some of the first presidents or who served in Washington's cabinet.  You could define it by saying those are any of those who were apart of the Revolutionary War peiod.  So you need to have a strict definition of what you mean by the "Founding Fathers."
The second problem is that you're attributing your belief system to what you think they believed.  More importantly, you're attributing thoughts of Modern Day America into the thoughts of those who lived 200 years ago.  They don't have any thoughts about abortion, gay marriage, etc.  They had no concept of these processes.
The final problem is where I approach a strawman fallacy. Most people who try to attribute beliefs to the "Founding Fathers"say that they were for a small government, gun-toting, religious, right-wing nut jobs.  If we remember our history lessons, we would remember that America originally had the Articles of Confederation.  But that failed, miserably.  It had no concept of raising a national army, taxes, and didn't have a chief executive.  It was replaced by the Constitution.  The Constitution as it was written, was just going to be the outline of how the government worked.  Thomas Jefferson argued that we should not have the Bill of Rights attached to it.  Jefferson also was a Deist or wrote a more humanistic version of Jesus.  No matter how you define it, Thomas Jefferson was a "Founding Father" and it is very difficult getting around his beliefs.

8. Gun control isn't about infringing on your 2nd Amendment Rights.

FactCheck did a little analysis on this.   Basically, they found that the claim that Japan was afraid to invade the United States because they were afraid of finding all American citizens were armed, was false. 
The number of gun homicides are much higher in the United States than of the countries of NATO.  They are nearly 10 times higher than the countries in NATO.  You can find this information here. 
There are some gun laws that have been passed that have tried to reduce what guns are going to which people.  Some of these laws were the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban and The Domestic Violence Gun Ban. 
The Assault Weapons Ban "prohibited for 10 years the possession, transfer, and manufacturing of semiautomatic assault weapons and large-capacity ammunition feeding devices." This information found here .
The Domestic Violence Gun Ban "bans anyone convicted of a misdemeanor domestic violence offense from owning or possessing a firearm, even if the person had it before the conviction. "  (Found at same source)
There was some talk about a National Right to Carry Reciprocity Act of 2011.  This would have made any state that allows concealed weapons to recognize other states concealed carry permits.

9. States rights sometimes violates human rights.

Do we really have to look much further than the Civil War?  We could look at Jim Crow Laws regarding voting, or inter-racial marriages, etc. 

10. The idea of "separation of Church and State" was not something invented by modern day liberals. 

Thomas Jefferson said the phrase in a letter to a friend arguing that there should be a wall of separation of church and state.
John Locke, famous political philosopher, who most of our ideas about government are from argued that the government cannot infringe upon an individual's conscience. 
Now we have presidential candidates who claim that no federal official at any level could say "Merry Christmas."  Which is a pants on fire claim from PolitiFact. 

I'll come back for the other truths.  I hope you enjoyed part one.




  

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A Quick Follow-Up

I could've addressed more of the so-called truths in the last response but I was getting too angry and too tired of reading the same old statements that are trying to pass themselves off as fact.  It's frustrating to me because people will quote from articles like those when arguing about politics. It is actually the main reason why I believe people are less interested in politics than ever before. 

A Response

There is an article that is being shared via Facebook that is titled 20 Obvious Truths That Will Shock Liberals.  I'm not a liberal but I guess to most Republicans I would be considered a far left liberal.  So we'll go through each "truth" and see how many are actually truths and how many are this person's opinion being touted as truth.

Truth- a verified or indisputable fact, proposition, principle, or the like.

1) "The Founding Fathers were generally religious, gun-toting small government fanatics who were so far to the Right that they'd make Ann Coulter look like Jimmy Carter."

So, where to start?  Any time you quote the Founding Fathers as saying something you are approaching dangerous territory.  This is because there is no set definition of what any one person means when they say the "Founding Fathers."  So, I will steer clear of arguing along that point. 

Yes, originally the Founding Fathers were all about small government.  They drafted the Articles of Confederation.  This failed fairly quickly and was replaced by the Constitution.  This created a much stronger central government.  The Articles of Confederation did not have the chief executive, established courts, or even taxing power.  So basically, the experiment with such a small central government failed when it was first tried out and was replaced with a much stronger version of the central government.

Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence, was the one who originally used the phrase separation of church and state when he was discussing this in a letter.  He was the one who also said that the best government is the one that governs the least.  Except, when he was president he decided to go through with the Louisiana Purchase despite nothing being expressly written in the Constitution about the President being able to do anything like that.  He also argued against having the Bill of Rights added to the Constitution.  He argued that the Constitution itself, would have enough of a safeguard against people's liberties that we wouldn't have to put that in.  He also wrote about Jesus of Nazareth but took out all of the miracles and all of the supernatural elements.  He was more often referred to as being a Deist.

If you are to argue that the Founding Fathers are only about small government, you would have to have an explanation about the Articles of Confederation and why they failed so quickly.  You would also need to talk about Thomas Jefferson and how he was not religious, coined the phrase separation of church and state, and that he did not think the Bill of Rights should be in the Constitution.  Further, you would need to define the term "Founding Fathers" and actually prove that the Founding Fathers thought what you're attributing them to think.

2. "The greatest evil this country has ever committed isn't slavery; it's killing more than 50 million innocent children via abortion."

Well, that's a subjective claim in the first place.  When you are ranking how much more evil is over another, you are making a relativistic claim.  I could argue that slavery is the greatest evil.  Neither of us are communicating any truth but rather making claims that neither of us can prove or disprove.  I'll indulge you with the key components of epistemic relativism.

1. There are no absolute facts about what belief a particular item of information justifies.
2. If a person, S's epistemic judgments are to have any prospect of being true, we must not construe his utterances of the form "E justifies belief B"as expressing the claim E justifies belief B but rather as expressing the claim: According to the epistemic system C, that I, S, accept, information E justifies belief B.
3. There are many fundamentally different, genuinely alternative epistemic systems, but no facts by virtue of which one of these systems is more correct than any of the others.

According to the epistemic system of conservatism, the information about the number of abortions performed justifies the belief that abortions are the greatest evil.
According to the 3rd component of epistemic relativism, we would all have to accept that we are all going to come up with a different belief of what the greatest evil is.

3. "Conservatives are much more compassionate than liberals and all you have to do to prove it is look at all the studies showing that conservatives give more of their money to charity than liberals do."

The link sends you to a place called rightwingnews.com.  I wonder if that's a biased source.  I'll concede this point.  Their study shows that the poorest people give a lot of their income to charity noting that they are more likely to need charity.  Over the past 10 or so years we have seen an increase in the amount of poor people joining the Republican party.  But the middle class is the one group that gives considerably less compared to the rich and poor. 

But the biggest single predictor of donating money to charity was to find out whether or not they were religious.  Which political party has more people openly identifying themselves as Republicans or Democrats? 

4. "When the Founding Fathers were actually around, there were official state religions and the Bible was used as a textbook in schools. The so-called "wall of separation between church and state" has absolutely nothing to do with the Constitution and everything to do with liberal hostility to Christianity."

Thomas Jefferson was the one who used that phrase in a letter.  So, he was actually around.
The Supreme Court did not rule on how this was to apply to the states until 1947.  In 1947, when they finally ruled on it, all nine of the justices found that there was a wall of separation between church and state.
The phrase for the separation of church and state could be attributed to John Locke.  He argued that the government lacked authority in the realm of individual conscience. 

I'm getting a headache from how angry I am getting from this.  We're only a fifth of the way through.

5) "The biggest problem with our economy today is Barack Obama. His demonization of successful people, his driving up gas prices, his regulatory overload and threats to increase taxes have terrified businesses into hunkering down, refusing to spend money, and declining to hire new people. Replacing him would do more than any government policy to spur economic growth."

So many wrong statements.  How is he driving up gas prices?

6) "Not only are conservatives more patriotic than liberals, but most American liberals "love" America in about the same way that a wife-beater loves his wife."

Let's take the case of Pat Tillman. Pat Tillman was a football player for the Arizona Cardinals when the 9-11 attacks happened.  He volunteered to join the Army soon after.  While serving, he wrote in his diary openly questioning the reason for him being there.  He was killed in friendly fire.  The government tried to cover it up, including George W. Bush.

This is yet another statement of opinion.  I am just going to claim that liberals are more patriotic than conservatives. Sweet.

7) "Out of every 100 cries of “Racism” you hear these days, 99 are motivated by nothing other than politics."
This is especially true of white people calling out racism for when they fail to get something accomplished because of affirmitve action.
White people are pulled over less often than blacks and Hispanics.
I'm going white with rage.

8) "Anyone paying income taxes is certainly paying his “fair share" -- and then some -- compared to the people who pay nothing."

Whatever.

9) "You don't have a "right" to anything that other people have to pay to provide for you"
So if you make the claim that Americans have fought for our rights or have otherwise paid for our rights with their lives then we have no rights.  We do not have any of these rights.  Thanks. Glad to know.

How do we have a right to bear arms?  My head hurts. This is so fucking messed up.

10) "If we can ask people to present an ID to buy alcohol, drive a car, or get on an airplane, then asking them to present identification to vote is a no-brainer."

I would be fine with this but minority voters are less likely to be able to have an ID to present to be able to vote.  The Department of Justice agrees with me.

11) "There's absolutely nothing that the government does smarter, better, or more efficiently than the private market with roughly equivalent resources."

I don't think that's necessarily true.  When you speak in absolutes, you leave youself vulnerable.  If I find one thing, then I disprove your point. 

12) "The biggest problem with education in this country is liberals. They fight vouchers, oppose merit pay, refuse to get rid of terrible teachers, and bend over backwards to keep poor kids trapped in failing schools."

I don't even know what this means.  It's not as if Rick Perry cut spending for education in Texas.  No worries.  Rick Perry = liberal.

I'm getting bored and frustrated.

13) "Fascism, socialism, and communism are all left-wing movements that have considerably more in common with modern liberalism than modern conservatism."

Typically fascism is listed to the right on the left-right political spectrum.  Fascism generally talks about having a shared national identity through connections such as blood, ancestry, and culture and seeks to destroy anything that tries to get in their way especially if it's a foreign influence.  Fascism opposes both socialism and communism.

Socialism is the social ownership of the means of production and a cooperative management of the economy.

Communism is a hypothetical classless, moneyless, stateless social order structured upon common ownership of the means of production. 

I may have had a rage stroke.

14. "The Democratic Party was behind slavery, the KKK, and Jim Crow laws. It was also the party of Margaret Sanger, George Wallace, and Bull Connor. It has ALWAYS been a racist party. Even today, white liberals support Affirmative Action and racial set-asides because they still believe black Americans are too inferior to go up against whites on an even playing field."

I support Affirmitive Action because African-Americans and other minority groups are discriminated against.  Further, the money spent on education for African-Americans is significantly lower than the money spent on whites.  If we make it a level playing field and not incarcerate more African-Americans maybe than we can get rid of Affirmitive Action.
The KKK was founded by white protestants.  Unless you want to say all liberals are white protestants, they have very little in common.
Those living in the South during the Civil War time advocated for the states to have their own rights.  This sounds like conservatives.

15. "A man with good morals who falls short and becomes a hypocrite is still a far better man than a liberal who can never be called a hypocrite because he has no morals at all."
This is a value statement.  This is a relativistic claim. See earlier.
Are we ever going to be done?

16. "The most dire threat to America's future and prosperity in the last 150 years hasn't been the Nazis, the Soviets, or Al-Qaeda;, it's the spending and overreach of our own government."

Let's set aside the fact that you just followed a semi-colon with a comma.  How much of the spending and overreach of the government was because of the Nazi's, the Soviets, and Al-Qaeda?
Let's take a quick look.
Joseph McCarthy and the Red Scare.  Vietnam War. Korean War. PATRIOT Act.  Guantanamo Bay. Spending on the defense sector.  Military spending because of the wars in the Middle East.  I could keep going on and on and on.
The spending and overreach of the government looks like a direct response to each of these threats. 
Also, we don't have any rights.

17. "Greed isn't someone wanting to keep more of what he earns; it's people demanding a greater share of money that someone else earns."

Greed- excessive or rapacious desire, especially for wealth or posessions.

18. "Most of the time in American politics, the liberal "victim" is really a bad guy who is absolutely delighted by the opportunity to pretend to be "offended.""

This statement is full of nonsense. I don't know where to begin.

19. "Jesus Christ was not a conservative, a liberal, or a politician. He was also not a capitalist or a socialist. Still, you can say this: Jesus drew sharp lines about what's right and wrong, he wasn't tolerant of what the Bible categorizes as sinful behavior, and there's absolutely no question that he would adamantly oppose abortion and gay marriage."

He also stated that the greatest commandment was to love your neighbors as yourself.
I get tired of arguing about the Bible with people because you can find a verse that contradicts itself later. 

20. "When you demand that other people fund your sexual escapades by buying your contraception, your sex life becomes their business."

We were already funding most of these "sexual escapades."  The fact that you're so opposed to paying for contraception for others proves how much you're really not pro-life.  A true pro-life person would argue that we want as few unintended pregnancies, as possible.  
I would argue against this for awhile but I'm just tired. My head hurts and I want to punch this guy in his jaw.

Stop passing off your opinions as truths.  These are your opinions.  This is just a statement of his core beliefs as a Republican.