What Next? A Summary of VOTE08

Obviously, we have made history. Some are claiming that they have helped “change the world” and I think that it is a bit premature for that analysis. Electing an African American president does not change the world or even our nation. The fact that we have elected an African American president is evidence that our nation has changed. When the color of our president no longer matters, then we can say that our nation has truly changed.

Much more important than the color of our president is the policy that will come out of this White House and Congress. What we know or Pelosi and Reid (and others) is that policy can not be liberal enough. Obama has the reputation of being the most liberal in the senate. According to his speech on election night, he wants to unify the nation. If he follows this rhetoric with actual governing from that position we will see two key results. First, the leftist ideologues and press corp that is largely responsible for getting him elected will feel betrayed and be very angry. Second, the nation will unify and the world will see us as less divisive and a stronger ally.

Some are saying; “he is not my president,” but he is our president and he is (or will be) the leader of the greatest nation on earth and we must unite behind our leader. Karl Rove said it best when he told us that we should work with our president, persuade him when we can and oppose him when he is wrong.

There are two aspects of our national circumstance over which President Obama has no control. The first is the war in Iraq. Three possibilities exist; it may be over before inauguration, he may be convinced to let General Petraeus complete the task since the surge is working and progress is being made, he may decide to pull the plug and we will be fighting the same terrorists on our soil within his administration. The second aspect beyond the control of the President (any president) is the economy. Most people blame the president, but Congress, consumer confidence, and economic powerhouses like the oil cartel who set price and production determine the state of the world economy, not the President. A friend of mine described it as dropping a new captain on the deck of the Titanic right after the iceberg was struck… too late, won’t matter. The only thing we can do to save our economy is to cut taxes and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. I don’t know how the rest of the country decided, but T. Boone Picken’s plan was voted down in California. Only time will tell how the people will respond, but in the 1930’s we began a rash of new thinking that pulled us out of the Depression. It took 20 years, but, by necessity, brought us to new thinking and new ways of doing things. That is what we need now.

Speaking of California… We voted to preserve marriage, but we indicated that the comfort of chickens is more important that parents talking to their daughters before killing a fetus. Go figure! Meanwhile, we have elected to spend billions on the investigation of the possibility of maybe building a high-speed train. The people who support gay marriage really believe that it is a “right” and so they will continue to fight and have already called for law suits and to place a new initiative on the ballot for the next election. Because they believe that marriage is a civil right, they see this as a battle equal to the “separate but equal” issues of racial discrimination. I hope we can ensure the rights of everyone and still protect marriage, which I believe is not a right, but an institution ordained by God and my religious beliefs and not to be twisted into something that it is not. Governor Schwarzenegger has just announced mid-year budget cuts, including $2.5 Billion from education this year. Teachers will lose their jobs and classes will become more crowded. There is less tutoring available and less support for students in general, but the expectations for standardized test scores continue to be raised. As the saying goes: “we have been doing so much with so little in such a short time for so long, that soon we will be expected to do everything with nothing in no time at all.”

Truth be told, only time will tell what the next 4 years will bring. I pray for my leaders, even (and maybe especially) when I disagree with them. Again I hope that the next 4 years are so properous and posititve that I will want to re-elect President Obama, but I haven’t decided yet. I am certain that it will get worse before it gets better.

Can we?

“The people have spoken and they have spoken clearly.” Senator McCain said as he delivered his best speech of the campaign in conceding the election. Senator Obama gave yet another great speech in announcing and accepting his victory. I suppose I could be angry that my guy didn’t win, but I don’t think that will do me, or us, any good.

Besides the obvious historical implications, Obama will inherit a Presidency unlike any other in any of our life times. It seems that every other generation or so our nation undergoes a major crisis and a subsequent political shift. We are watching that happen again now. Our economy is at an epic low not seen since the Great Depression. We will now find out whether President Obama will be the great uniter that he has claimed he will be or the far left leaning ideologue that his voting record indicates.

I believe the war in Iraq will be all but over by the time Obama is sworn in and he will be, basically, locked into following General Petraeus in completing the agenda there. I have big concerns about how the new president will handle Iran and further attempts by terrorists to destroy out nation. It is clear that President Bush made some errors in our relations with other nations and it may well be possible for Obama to create a better environment for dialogue with them.

Domestically, I am fearful of the increase in taxes I think it will take to pay for the programs that Obama would like to put in place and I don’t trust anything Joe Biden says at all. Biden has already suggested that Obama’s $250,000 lower limit for tax increases may have to come down to $150,000. I think that it may come lower than that and it will cause problems for an already struggling economy. On the other hand, Asian markets are already opening up and I believe the rest of the world will follow suit, even if only temporarily. We will have to wait and see if President Obama’s policies will save the economy or sink it further into oblivion, but I believe that we will see improved consumer confidence, at least through inauguration and probably into Spring.

One thing that is certain is that Barack Obama is extremely intelligent and an excellent communicator. If anyone is able to unite people together for the good of the nation, I think he can. I am not yet convinced that he will. I am afraid that with the democrat controlled Congress and the number of extreme left leaders we now have in office combined with Obama as president, that we may move sharply towards socialism.

Truth be told, nothing would make me happier than to have such prosperous times for the next 4 years that I would want to re-elect President Obama. I can’t see that far just yet.

To sum It All Up… The propositions (part 3)

Well, here it all is. For those of you who can’t fill out and mail that absentee ballot or are filled with trepidation of facing the polling place next week. I know what you’re all thinking: “if only I knew how Kirk was voting on these… then I could make up my mind.”

1A – Take the fast train, or not. This is too expensive. It might be a good idea, but not now. Vote no.

2 – Protect the animals? Truth is, we already have laws for this. We don’t need more money spent to make duplicate laws and form committees. If you don’t like a way a company treats their animals, don’t buy from them. Let the system work. Vote no.

3 – For the Children, or the hospital beaurocrats? We just gave the same people a 10 year bond 2 years ago. What did they do with it? More accountability and no more money until you do. Vote no.

4 – Parental notification. The anti ads say this will endanger children. The only thing it endangers is Planned Parenthood profits. Don’t let a stranger take our daughters to get abortions without us knowing about it. Keep parenting rights with the parents. Vote yes.

5 – Non violent offenders rehab. This is the only measure on the ballot that saves us money. The program has been working, let’s expand it. Vote yes.

6 – Police funding. I hate t be stingy, but things are tough all over. I thought abut voting yes, because I don’t want to hurt law enforcement, but if 5 passes they have the money right there. Vote no.

7 – Energy A. This is the bad one. Not enough results. Creates a committee that will force energy companies to comply, but the consumer will pay much more. Vote no.

8 – Protect marriage. We already passed this and the liberal judges ignored us. The constitutional amendment can’t be ignored. It’s not about rights, it’s not about freedom. It’s about stopping people from forcing their liberal agenda down are throats and forcing our children to learn morals in school that we, as parents, don’t agree with. Ignore Jack O’Connell. Look at Massachusetts. Vote yes.

9 – Victim’s Rights. Victims already have these rights. This is an unnecessary law. Vote no.

10 – Energy B. This is Picken’s Plan. Google it. Sure, he will get richer (he’s a business man), but he may save our country in the process. This will cost more up front, but less to consumers in the long run and will encourage utility companies to develop clean energy rather than punishing them if they don’t. Vote yes.

11 – Redistricting. This takes the conflict of interest out of redistricting an lets a committee do it rather than congress. I usually vote against committees, but this seems like a good idea. Vote yes.

12 – Veteran’s bonds for homes. Give the returning soldiers an easier road to home ownership. Loans should be paid by the home buyers so no net cost to tax payers. Vote yes.

Well, that’s it. I am not going to say anything about candidates right now except that Alyson Huber’s ad really irritates me. It shows her running against some random “professional politician.” The deception is that she is running against small business owner, Jack Sieglock. He isn’t a professional politician. He has done a lot of good in Lodi and his county and now he wants to represent us in the State. Huber couldn’t find anything bad about her real opponent, so she created a fictitious one she could run against.

Truth be told, I think they all get paid. That makes them all professional politicians. Doesn’t it?

It’s About The Money… the propositions (part 2)

You have probably noticed that the economy is not having its best week monthyear. Yet, most of the propositions on the State ballot are asking for more spending. Five of the twelve propositions create bonds to be issued. What many voters do not seem to realize is that “bond” means “loan.” The state has to pay that money back, with interest.

Take the train: Prop 1 was removed from the ballot because it was poorly written and could have resulted in a $9.95 billion bond (pay back nearly twice that at $647 million per year) to do research that may or may not result in a high speed train. Prop 1A has replaced Prop 1 on the ballot and creates the same bond and associated costs to research, develop and build a high speed train system.

Things to consider: A high speed train could reduce individual transportation costs and reliance on fuel (at least for the consumer), but the train still needs energy to run and the money to build it has to come from our depleted state budget.

Energy:  There are two energy related propositions on the ballot. Prop 7 requires utilities to increase their clean energy production significantly. The cost to the state is only $3.4 million per year to monitor the adherence of the utilities. Prop 10 is part of the T. Boone Pickens Plan to reduce or eliminate our nations dependence on foreign oil. This proposition creates a $5 billion bond ($10 billion to pay back at $335 million per year) to fund research and construction of wind and solar energy producing sites.

Things to consider: Energy companies never increase their costs without increasing yours and mine. The energy produced as a result of prop 7 will cost us more, at least in the beginning. T. Boone Pickens is the 131st wealthiest man in the country. His plan will make him richer. It will also make our nation free of our dependence on foreign oil. All of the people I can find who oppose Pickens’ plan do so because he is rich and not because they disagree with the plan (although they say they do). Maybe they would like it better if he just agreed to give his money to Obama and let him “spread the wealth around.”

From the sublime to the ridiculous: The children’s hospital bond, Prop 3, creates a bond of nearly $1 billion which would cost twice that to pay back at $64 million per year. The bond provides for construction and renovation of children’s hospitals throughout the state and requires children’s hospitals to provide care for children with life-threatening and terminal illnesses.

Things to consider: I am all for children’s hospitals. Just last election I voted for a 10-year bond to support children’s hospitals. Wait, that was only 2 years ago. Who did what with that money? Maybe we should pay that back before we take out a new billion dollar loan. Don’t children’s hospitals already do the things required by this statutes? I would be concerned that there are those who would take advantage of us by asking for a billion dollars “for the children” when it is not really needed… just a thought.

Truth Be Told, when you look at where the money comes from and who gets it, you sometimes have an easier time deciding what to vote for and what to vote against. It is left to us as voters to decide if the proposition provides something worth the cost and if we can afford it or not. I’ll agree that some things are worth the money, even if we can’t really afford it. On the other hand, with the economy the way it is, I might just vote against anything that costs.

Fiction, Falacies, and Lies… the propositions (part 1)

With the election less than two weeks away, it behooves us to do a little research into the myriad of propositions proliferating the California ballot this year. Let’s tackle the easy ones first: Propositions 4 and 8. I say “easy” because most people fall sharply on one side or the other of these issues.

Prop 4 is the one requiring parental notification and a waiting period for minors requesting an abortion. Opponents would have us believe that this law somehow makes children unsafe. It is not about safe children! I would like to know what is “safe” about my daughter getting an abortion without me knowing about it. Opponents of this are really in favor of two things: the removal of parents’ rights and the unabated access to kill babies before they are born. It seems that parental rights are the only rights that liberals want to do away with. Planned Parenthood makes a huge amount of money performing abortions and the majority of abortions are given to young women, many without their parents’ knowledge. Planned Parenthood loses money when we, as parents, meddle in the raising of our children. One ad proclaims that we should not pass this law because the girl and her parents should be able to decide what happens. That is exactly what this law provides for: that the girl and her parents, rather than some other adult, decide what happens. Don’t let them take our right to be parents and take care of our children away.

Prop 8 is the constitutional amendment to re-define marriage as between a man and a woman. Several years ago the people of California voted on the definition of marriage. Several liberal judges and San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsome decided to break the law and choose their own course of action, as Newsome says “whether you like it or not.” This amendment does not remove any rights from any alternative life style. It does not outlaw civil unions or rights to visit a loved one in the hospital or even the right to choose a beneficiary. It simply mandates the term “marriage” be reserved for the union between a man and a woman.

These two propositions have something very important in common. God created marriage for one man and one woman, He created sex for those married couples to express love to each other and to have children. The world (pronounced “Satan”) has perverted both of these God given concepts into selfish and corrupt versions of what the Creator intended them to be. So now, any two (or more) people can be joined in “marriage” and sex can be used for selfish pleasure with no consequences. If a baby is conceived, you can just kill it and you don’t even have to tell your parents.

Truth Be Told, this is not just an election, this is a culture war, and we have to take this country back, one proposition at a time.

There… isn’t that clearer?

The “fundamental difference” between the vice-presidential candidates is not their view of the problems facing Americans, but how they see we should address the issues which are most critical to the people. Just in case you are not up to speed, here is a list of issues I think are most important and how the candidates stand on them… for now anyway.

Economy: The elephant in the room has started stomping around and knocking things over. Elected officials on both sides of the aisle have been too busy taking advantage of earmarks and other perks provided by lobbyists to do their job protecting the folks from corporate greed. Sub-prime mortgages, price gouging, CEO’s running their companies into the ground and walking away with a golden parachute have collectively put the economy in worse shape than it has been in almost 70 years. To me, Biden made the most profound statement of his beliefs when he described middle class America as sitting around the kitchen table wanting “help.” Obama/Biden promote bigger government (more programs) which means more taxes. They claim that taxes will not go up, but the programs they propose increasing will cost money and it has to come from somewhere. McCain/Palin plan to lower taxes. Neither plan works if the government doesn’t stop earmarks and protect the folks from greedy CEO’s.

Iraq: The government’s primary job is to protect the people. Most people agree that mistakes have been made in the war in Iraq. People are still divided on how and whether we should have gone in at all, but looking back at that question does us no good. The question is how and when do we get out? McCain/Palin say we finish the job and then leave a stable Iraqi government. Obama/Biden want to leave now, and claim that McCain’s plan has no end. However, everyone, including those who oppose the war, conceed that the surge is working and it can now be said that we are winning in Iraq. The war on terror continues, however, and how we handle Afghanistan and continue to persue Bin Ladin, as well as how we deal with Iran and North Korea (not to mention Russia) will be dictated by the next administration.

Moral issues: This may be the clearest topic of discussion. McCain opposes partial birth abortion and favors required parental consnt for abortions for minors. Obama supports unfettered abortion for all ages as a right of privacy. Marriage has been defined as a union between a man and woman since before recorded history. Obama would change that and supports homosexuality being taught in elementary schools and adoption by homosexual parents. Obama would allow gun control. McCain would not.

Truth be told, it’s really not that difficult to pick a side when the choices are so clear. One more thing – change is coming either way.

It’s Only Money… We Can Print More

The Democrats are blaming Bush, the Republicans point to the Democratic Congress, the lenders are blaming the consumer and the borrowers ask the banks why they were given a loan they couldn’t afford. So whose fault is this big mess?

The media is calling this the biggest economic crisis since 1929. It really started with Enron, although I don’t know if that led to everything else, the greed of Enron was not isolated to that company. Greedy lending institutions awarded mortgages to people who could not afford to make the payments when rates adjusted. They (both the lenders and the consumers) assumed homes would continue to increase in value, but they obviously didn’t. Dropping home values and rising mortgage rates combined with salaries that did not rise as expected (“I’ll be making more money by the time our mortgage adjusts”) to force thousands into foreclosure. Mortgage companies suddenly found themselves owning homes they could not sell for what was owed on them and the mortgage companies began folding like a house of cards. Investment bankers, who had invested in mortgage companies were in trouble. Stocks dropped sending the investment banks further into the red. This week, Lehman Brothers folded and took with them AIG, who was their insurer. The chain of events started with greed. False home values, unwise lenders and consumers, selfish politicians with ear marks and pork to benefit themselves and their cronies all contributed to what may be the closes we have been to total economic collapse in 80 years.

The big surprise to me is how the stock market has experienced its largest two day increase in over six years after the federal government pledged to bail out all these failing companies. Seriously?! What, in our nations history, has instilled such confidence in our government’s ability to handle money? Maybe it’s the record deficit. Maybe the money we just borrowed from China has encouraged investors to trust our government’s economic decision making process. Maybe Obama will get elected and raise our taxes enough to pay for it all. Maybe McCain will win the war on terror and Iraq will pay us back. Maybe not.

California is not any better off. The budget was 81 days late and no one in the legislature cares. They laugh in the face of the Governor when he threatens consequences. The Governor now wants to spend millions we don’t have on a special election to borrow money from the lottery. Isn’t that money supposed to go to education? Hasn’t Schwarzenegger raped the pubic schools enough? He also wants to create an emergency fund (with what?) to help prevent future financial emergencies.

Last year I opened a special account to save for a new TV. I hoped to siphon off a little each month and buy the big screen I have been waiting for. Now, I have to tell you, I am much better at managing my money that the State of California, and I can tell you that you can have as many accounts as you want; they do no good if you don’t have any money in them… I still don’t have a big screen TV.

Truth be told, we have poor leadership (that may be the most non-partisan group of all politicians), making selfish decisions. We have greedy corporations gouging the public with virtually no oversight. We are overtaxed and underpaid. We are under-insured. The government isn’t doing its job serving the people because it is too busy trying serve itself. We need good leadership, without more taxes. We need people to step up and do what is best for the folks rather than what seems best to themselves. I still say “fire em all!”

These too… two… three are useless

Sometimes something seems like a great idea at the time, and it might be, but after it runs its course, served its purpose, it’s time to let it go. Here are some examples of things that should go the way of the Dodo bird.

Labor unions. There was a time when saying this could get me killed, or at least unemployed. Labor unions did some great things for the American worker.  They created child labor laws, they stopped unsafe work environments and stabilized wages for similar jobs. However, what they mostly do now is force the work force to surrender a portion of their wages for the sake of “negotiations” and line the pockets of union leaders who spend union money to promote their own political agenda. The Teachers’ Unions are prime examples of this. They get kick-backs for promoting “benefits” for teachers that are no benefits at all. I am constantly receiving union sponsored mailings for car and home insurance at discount rates for teachers. The problem is that the offerings are significantly more expensive than other sources of the same service, but the CTA takes donations in exchange for promoting these companies. The biggest problem I have with unions is that they spend way too much time and money promoting a political agenda that usually has little or nothing to do with labor or the specific part of the labor force they supposedly represent. Union leaders get very wealthy from mandatory union dues. When they negotiate a contract they may force their laborers to strike while they, the leaders, continue to collect their salary. The unions no longer ensure that good workers receive fair treatment, they, more often, protect the jobs and wages of all workers, whether they are effective at their jobs or not. Unions no longer do what they were designed to do. They have left the arena of their purpose and expertise and become a negative influence on the work force.

Lobbyists. With apologies to my nephew, the entire lobbyist industry needs to disappear. At its inception the industry gave people a direct line of communication to law makers. However, once certain wealthy parties discovered that they could purchase influence they began perverting the system into what it has become. Now special interest with substantial funds persuade (bribe) law makers to create/support/sponsor laws that will benefit their own interests. Lobbying firms prostitute themselves to the highest bidder and law makers receive campaign contributions, conferences (read vacations), and other donations in return for their favor. Lobbyists do not represent the people any more than the electoral college (let’s get rid of that too).

Pork Barreling. Come on! How did this ever get this far? I understand the concept. Law makers negotiate for certain concessions so that they will support a law that benefits another law maker’s constituents in exchange for that law maker’s support of a law that benefits their own. However, now the majority of law makers tack on pork barrel riders to benefit themselves. If it keeps regressing the way it is, I’ll be writing about why we should eliminate Congress. Elected by the people for the people? No, more like elected by special interest money to benefit the highest bidder and the elected official. The vast majority of Congress is no longer running to help the people of their constituency, but to see what they can get out of it.

Truth be told, if you or I did the things that union leaders, lobbyists, and congressmen do every day, we would be in jail. If we don’t do something about it, we will be watching the complete disintegration of our country and we will have no one to blame but ourselves for our silence.

Running Mates

In the search for a running mate the presidential nominee seeks a partner, one who stands for the same ideals and has the same basic goals for the nation; one who will compliment the candidate’s strengths and compensate for their weaknesses. At the same time, the candidate tries to choose one who will bring with them a significant number of votes and supporters who might otherwise not support the ticket.

Many Democrats think Obama should put Hillary on the ticket. Here are three reasons why that is a bad idea. Reason one: it looks weak. As several analysts have mentioned, choosing Hillary as his running mate indicates weakness on Obama’s part. Even if it isn’t true, it will look as if he was bullied, or at least manipulated, into the decision. The Clintons come as a package. Even if Obama is the strongest personality (which I do not believe he would be), the Clintons outnumber him two to one.

Reason two: she wouldn’t bring the support it might appear she would. Although they like to think the opposite of themselves, neither Obama nor Clinton (either of them) are unifying personalities. In fact, they are both quite divisive. The Democratic Party has never been more divided. Although Hillary and Obama seem close on several key issues, they are completely different in their approach. More importantly, Clinton supporters will not vote for Obama because he is too far left. I don’t think a significant number of Clinton supporters would vote for Obama even with her on the ticket. Some Obama supporters may leave his camp with Hillary on the ticket because they oppose her so strongly.

Reason three: if he were to win with Hillary Clinton as Vice-President, Obama’s life would be in danger. Seriously, I don’t think Hillary would directly suggest that he be assassinated, but she has already suggested it indirectly when she “mentioned” (twice) the assassination of Bobby Kennedy. I believe Hillary Clinton’s desire to be President outweighs everything else for her, but more dangerous for Obama are the Clinton supporters who would take her comments as an invitation, or even a request, to clear the way for her to get to the Oval Office.

Obama should choose a running mate who agrees with his key positions and can bring some of the groups that supported Clinton n the primary.

On the other hand, here are three reasons that John McCain should choose Joe Lieberman as his running mate. I know that suggestion may surprise some of my readers, and it kind of surprises me to think of it, but hear me out.

McCain won the nomination because of his moderate leaning policies and his willingness to cross party lines. Lieberman is already estranged from the Democratic Party, but has the support of many other democrats who are disgruntled with the direction the party is going. Reason one: Lieberman brings left leaning moderates without making McCain a “traitor” to the GOP.

Reason Two: no matter who he picks, the GOP ticket will be far more conservative than the Obama ticket. Obama is so extremely left that many democrats question the direction he would take the country. His claims of wanting to unite the country do not match his brief voting record nor his John Kerry-like “global approval system? for our thermostats and SUV’s. The majority of the country seems to want to move left of where we are, but not that far. The Right, on the other hand, will vote for the candidate closest to them, so McCain could choose a running mate to bring more of the middle to him without losing those on the right.

Finally, reason three is that Lieberman’s position on issues that move him right of his ex-party are very similar to McCain’s positions on those same issues. It is these very issues that many conservatives feel McCain is too liberal on, but he is far more conservative on these issues than Obama.

Truth be told, the Presidency will be decided by the middle 5 -10 % of the voters. The candidate who is best able to woo those voters will be our next president.

Missing the point!

Two years ago, in the mid-term elections, voters sent a loud and resounding message by ousting congressional incumbents in alarming proportions. Democrats in general and liberals more specifically took that as acceptance of their agenda and carte blanch to proceed with higher spending and increased taxes. Both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are basing their campaign on “change.” Whether they are actually providing a change is up for debate, but let’s suppose they are. What change are they promising and is it what the people want?

The democratic candidates are promising more… more taxes, more government programs and government control in our lives. In essence, they promise socialism from government sponsored health care to open border policies and a “world approval” method of foreign policy. The problem is this isn’t what the voters were upset about. Congress is corrupt beyond belief. Most of our elected officials work half the year or less. They consistently vote themselves pay increases and dip into all types of  money  sources to  provide themselves with travel and entertainment and, let’s not forget, to get themselves re-elected. They represent, not those who elect them, but those companies whose lobbyists best provide for their needs (or wants).

I think I know what the majority of Americans want: safety from terrorists, economic security, and a government comprised of leaders with integrity. Truth be told, with no incumbent running for president, the change that needs to be made is still in congress. Check your local senator’s or representative’s voting record, attendance record, and spending record and then… oust another incumbent!