Robert's Random Ravings

Can’t we all just get along?

Tomorrow is the 2010 midterm elections (finally!!). I know that I will be glad to see it done with. The tone of the elections has been so negative – it seems to get more and more so each election cycle. Billions of dollars are being spent nationwide to elect Governors, Senators, State Representatives and scores of other government officials. But at the end of the day, what will really have been accomplished?

The Tea Party is a recent movement that seems to be riding on a groundswell of dissatisfaction with the federal government. People are supposedly tired of Washington and its inability to actually listen to the citizens and do what they need done. The Tea Party is not alone in this. I am not a tea-partier, but I am also very dissatisfied with the direction of the federal government and the state government here in Texas.

I voted for Obama in the 2008 presidential election. I was hopeful that it would be the start of a new day in Washington. Of course, the minute President Obama got elected, the Republicans started to march in lockstep in total and complete opposition to any and everything that Obama’s administration tried to do. Obama is far from perfect. Don’t get me wrong. But what do you think might have been accomplished if the Democrats and Republicans had decided to work together to fix the things that are wrong in our country as opposed to making sure their own party retains power? There is something seriously wrong with a system that encourages little more than a 24/7/365 election cycle. Our Senators and Representatives are supposed to work for us – “we the people.” Not the other way around.

When I see candidates on both sides slinging mud at each other instead of telling me what their plans/ideas are, I am disgusted. When I see gross misrepresentation and outright lies used in campaign commercials, it literally sickens me to my stomach. Unfortunately, both parties are guilty of this.

At any rate, after this election is over and the counts are in, it is likely that, at the very least, the House of Representatives will become a Republican majority. It is possible, though not nearly as likely, that the Senate, too, will pass into Republican control. It will be interesting to see how this plays out over the next 2 years. Will the Republicans continue to be the party of No? Will they continue to oppose any proposals that come from the President or the Democrats (even when they include ideas they themselves used to champion), without actually making proposals of their own? Will there be any fresh ideas on either side of the political spectrum?

Unfortunately, I think we will see more of the same. With the Republicans in power, we will probably see the Democrats start using a lot of the same obstructionist tactics that the Republicans have used over the last 2 years. Instead of taking the hint from a sea change that the people of America want to see a balance in government and all sides working for the betterment of the country, we will probably see more entrenchment and bickering. This simply cannot continue.

I don’t care if you are a Democrat or a Republican. We are Americans first and that should be our concern, not a political party. We have pushed too much to the extremes in both major parties and it is leaving the moderates (both liberal and conservative) in the dust. Let’s hold our elected officials accountable for representing our interests – not the interests of their allies/supporters/friends. Public office should not be a get rich quick scheme. It is service to the public. I think it is high time we demanded that level of service from our elected officials.

11/01/2010 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Political Firestorms

We live in a “scandal of the day” culture now.  A lot of people complain about the relentless 24/7/365 news culture.  Just about everything gets taken out of context.  Much of the news is more like propaganda than news.  Spin is the name of the game.  Both major parties are to blame.  I like President Obama, but the unending “spin” from the White House is tiring.  Put the facts out there and let us make up our own minds.

I don’t care which side of the political spectrum you are on.  There are right-wing nut jobs as well as left-wing nut jobs.  Unfortunately, it seems that many of them are coming out of the woodwork now. People who hate the government spout off anything they want, convincing uninformed people of their conspiracies, and couching it in terms of “saving” the country.  (Anyone recall the “death panel” discussions?) What are we being saved from? Communism? Socialism? Government Interference in our lives? No one wants the government to interfere until they need it to interfere.

In addition, everything gets politicized.  The BP Oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico is a disaster for ALL of us.  It is not a Democratic or Republican problem. It is an American, even global, problem.

I wish our “leaders” would spend a little more time trying to solve the nation’s problems and a lot less time trying to get re-elected.  No one has the guts anymore to stand up for what is needed, despite the political cost.  And with corporate lobbyists running amok on Capitol Hill and in our State Capitols, corporations are getting all the attention.  Why is it unfair for BP to have to pay for the damage it has done to the Gulf?  Anyone who thinks otherwise is out of their mind. (Joe Barton, I am talking to YOU!)  It is making them take responsibility for an almost comedic (if it weren’t so tragic)  series of mistakes, cost-cutting measures and downright incompetence.  We should not be apologizing to BP. BP should be worried more about cleaning up its mess than its image.

I am getting more and more disillusioned with our government.  I don’t feel like it gives a damn about me, so I understand the many other people that feel the same way.  But the way to fix that is not to throw out the whole thing.  We need to work on not allowing the almighty dollar to be the determinant in our daily lives.  There is nothing wrong with being successful and having money.  But where’s the compassion?  We can give tax breaks to oil companies and corn farmers and sugar farmers, but those that are truly in need get pushed farther and farther down.  This government should be for the people, not the corporations.  Despite what the Supreme Court says, a corporation is NOT a person and never will be.

Most of all, we should allow people to disagree with us.  A discussion does not need to turn into an argument.  We should be talking about the issues – both with people that agree with us and those that disagree with us.  If you never hear all points of view, how can you really think you are making an educated choice on anything?

07/27/2010 Posted by | General, Politics | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Why is our Congress so out of touch with the lives of the rest of us?

US Capitol Building

US Capitol Building

Just in the last few weeks, they were asking the Pentagon to add a few extra planes to their budget so that they could travel in style. See, when Senators or Representatives travel, they want to travel in luxury. The same planes that we travel in, stuffed with 140 or so passengers, they want to use to shuttle around groups of ten or twelve or so. This is supposed to help with their productivity. All I see it helping is their comfort.

Nowhere in the Constitution is there a guarantee of luxury for those that serve the nation in the Senate or the House of Representatives, yet this is what they believe that they are entitled to.

Let’s take another example. We have seen a circus lately around the whole debate for health care reform. Anyone that has been paying attention lately (or has had to go to the doctor) knows that something needs to be done. Even if you have insurance, you have to jump through such hoops to get the care you need. Of course, Congress does not have to. They have great health care. So, of course, they aren’t all that concerned with reforming health care. Theirs is already fine.

The members of Congress are elected to serve us, the people. It is not the other way around. They should not be entitled to have better health care, or better access to loans from banks (at considerable discounts), or get free travel from lobbyists, or any other gifts, just because they are elected officials. All of this has to stop.

I think one of the best ways to make this stop is to finally put term limits in place on Representatives and Senators. We have term limits on the President. Most states have term limits on the governor. Why, then, do we oppose term limits on the other high offices in the land? When people get entrenched into their positions in the House or the Senate, they become more and more susceptible to corrupting influences from all sides. This has to change, and soon.

We changed Presidents last year after much talk about the low approval ratings that President Bush had. Yet the Congress has much lower ratings than President Bush had. Why are we not bringing in new blood there? I don’t care how much you like any particular politician. I challenge any and all to vote for new blood in 2010. Let’s dump the incumbents. Let’s start anew.

Are you with me??

08/18/2009 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Republican Party – What is it thinking?

I am beginning to get really disgusted with the way things are going on Capitol Hill now. The Republican Party is busy crying out against a power grab by the White House. They seem to think that President Obama wants to do an end-run around the Constitution and violate the law by having the Director of the Census Bureau report directly to the White House. This position reports to the Commerce Secretary. As anyone reading this may know, the nominee for Commerce Secretary, Republican Senator Judd Gregg, withdrew his nomination for the post, citing “irresolvable conflicts” between his ideology and that of the President.

Gregg was part of President Obama’s attempts to reach out across party lines and include Republicans in his Cabinet. But it seems that the Republican Party is more concerned with thwarting any and all efforts of the new President than it is in actually helping resolve the problem.

The idea of a Republican outcry against a Presidential “power grab” is so ironic. We have spent the last 8 years watching President Bush redefine the role of President and grab as much power as possible for the Executive Branch of the government. No one was crying out against the power grab then.

The Bush Administration inherited a country that was growing very rapidly. We were adding jobs by the hundreds of thousands. We had a budget surplus. Now we have lost over 3 million jobs in the last year, and had a budget deficit of more than $1 trillion last year. That is a number so large that most people probably cannot even conceive of it. I know that I can’t.

Reducing taxes is NOT the solution. Putting up roadblocks and crying that Obama is trying to turn us into a Socialist or Communist state is not the answer. The answer is working together. The answer is NEW ideas, not recycling old ones.

Get with it Congress. Get with it Republican Party. We, the people, are tired of your games, and tired of your vitriol. We want to live our lives in peace and harmony. We do not want to be told that “if you don’t do this, the result is catastrophe.” The economics of fear is so last century. We are in a time where we need hope, not fear. If you are not part of the solution, you need to get out of the way. Pointing out that something is wrong is not helpful unless you can help with a solution to the problem. President Obama is trying to solve problems that were not even of his making. Give him and his plans a chance. They certainly cannot leave us any worse off than the previous 8 year administration has.

02/13/2009 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

President Obama – So Help You G-d

Hope and Progress

This week, we here in America and interested parties all over the world got to witness history being made. The United States swore in its first African-American President. This is certainly an exciting time in America.

Click here to watch the Inauguration Speech, as posted on the White House Web Site.

There is a spirit of enthusiasm and excitement over the potential of the next 4 years (and beyond) while we wait and see what the administration of Barack Hussein Obama will really be like.

Up to now, it has only been talk. “We plan to…” “We hope to…” “We expect to…” It is easy to say you are going to do something. It is much harder to actually do it.

These are scary times for the US and the rest of the world. We are still involved in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. There is a significant energy crisis – and we all saw how quickly things changed when the price of oil spiked to $150 a barrel, causing gasoline to top $4 a gallon in the US. We are damaging our environment with pollution. Our economy is in shambles. Home prices are dropping like a rock. The American Dream is on shaky ground right now.

There is still an ongoing crisis in the Middle East between Israel and its neighbors (almost all of which have sworn to see the complete destruction of Israel).

There is still genocide and ethnic cleansing occurring in Darfur and Zimbabwe and other regions of the world. There are still millions of people that are hungry and homeless.

President Obama is taking the reins at a time when this country is very divided – he may have a party majority in both the House and the Senate, but that does not mean that Congress will just hand him everything he wants. Nor should it.

Our system was designed as a three branch system so that each branch will keep the other branches accountable.

Yes We Can!

It was a beautiful thing to watch the pageantry of the Inauguration and the Parade and the various Inaugural Balls afterwards. Showing the world how the peaceful transition of power is possible, even when the parties involved have very distinct differences. President Bush was very gracious throughout the ceremonies, even when he was called out on his policies by the incoming President. This is what our country is all about.

Differences of opinion – discussing a situation and coming to a reasonable conclusion as a result of learned discourse – this is one of the things that makes our country great.

While I may not agree with everything that President Obama does, or the people he has chosen as advisors, I am cautiously hopeful for our future. I see a man that is willing to do what it takes to “save” this country. I see a man that is ready to change the “business as usual” money machine that has been the US government into an entity that is really and truly by the people and for the people.

I know that I will have disappointments over the next 4 years. It is impossible not to. But I am willing to give this President a chance. He was not my first choice, but I did vote for him. And even if I had not voted for him, he is my President. May G-d bless him as he leads this nation, guide him to the proper path and save him from any and all that wish him or our country harm.

01/22/2009 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment