Category Archives: Economy

Women And Hurricanes: This Congress Is The Worst

So, I don’t know how aware you are of this, but the 2010 and onward Congress has been one of the most objectively abysmal Congresses in the history of the United States. And yet, despite being horrifically awful, since the November elections it has somehow managed to continue to get worse. The GOP is absolutely imploding in Congress, particularly in the House of Representatives, with several Republicans refusing to vote John Boehner back in as House Majority Leader. Heck, some are even finally recognizing that they should all be fired. (His reasonings are, of course, not that sound, but his conclusion that the entirety of Congress should be fired seems about right with only a few exceptions, like Senator Al Franken.)

So, how exactly has Congress achieved their most monumental feat and gotten worse, ringing in the new year with absolute aplomb? (That last word is a joke, to be sure.)

Well, first of all, they managed to let the Violence Against Women Act suddenly become unfunded. It is perhaps the easiest, most bipartisan bill on the books, and all Congress had to do was say “Should we keep funding it? Yes.” But they couldn’t manage even that. Instead, programs proven to work all over the nation will now find their funds dried up, causing job loss and, oh yeah, women in abusive relationships to be severely curtailed in their options for help. Bravo, Congress.

And then, there’s Hurricane Sandy. Sandy, which rather thoroughly ravaged New York and New Jersey, leaving many homeless and somewhat hopeless, seems to be a simple cause. Vote to supply Sandy victims with federal money. It’s something that tends to happen with most every big natural disaster, and people don’t tend to complain too much.

Yet the House of Representatives majority party (that’d be the GOP led by Boehner for those playing at home) decided, after being thoroughly shellacked over the fiscal cliff, to not vote on the Senate’s Sandy relief bill. After popular opinion and massive in-party vitriol punched them in the face a few times, Boehner decided to let the House vote on Sandy relief. But not what the Senate had passed. No, they voted on a one page, two paragraph bill for $9.7 billion, and even then, some 67 Republicans couldn’t vote for it. Apparently because it had a bunch of pork attached. In that two paragraphs.

Bring it on, 2013. We’ve got a bumpy ride ahead.

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What’s This About Fiscal Cliff “Winners”?

So, we’re pretty much going to go over the fiscal cliff everyone’s talking about. Honestly, everyone seems to make it sound like a “Thelma and Louise” situation when in reality it’s probably not that bad. I don’t know enough about the economy to really make any guarantees, but I’m pretty sure it won’t even be as bad as 2008. Not even close. I have a friend that got a degree in understanding this sort of stuff that made it seem like the cliff won’t be so bad, but we won’t know until we get there, right?

Anyway, the big thing I’ve been reading over and over again is all the people talking about who “won.” General consensus is that Speaker of the House John Boehner has really screwed the pooch on this entire negotiation thing and President Barack Obama is coming out on top.

That seems to be about right. For goodness sake, Boehner sits there and flat says in a “drop the mic” type situation that the House will pass his Plan B, and Obama and the Democrat-run Senate had better step up and vote for it if they wanted a fiscal cliff deal… then none of the Republicans in the House wanted to vote for his Plan B. At which point he said, “It’s up to the Democrats!” and left. Really, it just read as a desperate ploy to try and shift blame to anyone but himself.

But this whole “Obama wins” thing seems silly. People are talking about how much power over Congress he’ll have after we go over the cliff… but people were saying the same things about after he won the election and Democrats retained the Senate and gained seats in both Senate and House. Now, it’s possible he’s started using up some of that political sway in the efforts to move on gun legislation… but no legislation has actually happened, yet, and there were tons of Republicans, even NRA-backed Republicans, saying that we do need to consider new gun control laws. So there wasn’t much power needed to get movement on those efforts.

Honestly, I’m pretty certain an Obama victory in this situation would have been yanking Boehner’s head out of the sand/other places the sun doesn’t shine and getting him to actually make a deal prior to going over the cliff. Now, could this all be a ploy to say Obama wanted us to go over the cliff? Possibly. But that sounds like we’re edging in on conspiracy theory territory. No, more likely, people are just being ridiculous and saying things for the sake of saying them and pretending their opinions matter.

…Okay, I know that’s awkward to say from a blog, but I’m not trying to get on national TV with my opinions and am fully willing to admit my ignorance on the entire fiscal cliff situation. I doubt you’ll find anyone in Congress/on TV willing to admit the same.

I just think that maybe we shouldn’t be seeing Senators and Representatives on TV talking about who’s winning in the fiscal cliff debates, but rather we should see them actually trying to come up with a compromise. But what do I know? All I know is that I get in trouble if I don’t do my job. Congress apparently gets a pay raise.

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And Now, We Wait. Then Vote.

Tonight was the third and final presidential debate, and the first and only one I managed to watch all the way through live. In my personal opinion, President Barack Obama won the debate. Mitt Romney did put some strong points out there at times, but most of the time, while the debate was still thoroughly on foreign policy, Romney looked and sounded less than confident. Many times, Romney contradicted himself (such as complaining that Obama attacking him isn’t talking policy, then turning to attack Obama, or his stating that killing doesn’t solve thing,s then advocating for our ability to have multiple conflicts simultaneously). Other times, Romney simply seemed to say, “I agree with the president, I’d’ve just done it better.”

In the end, though I know people will likely say I’m biased, I think Obama came out strong and clear, working on his record and calling out Romney’s “mistakes.” Romney, meanwhile, seemed to capitulate and only on occasion fight back with any conviction.

If you missed the debate and want to see them talk foreign policy (and often slip back into domestic policy and the economy, where Romney felt far more sure of himself), you can view the debate here. (Someone tell me if that doesn’t work, by the by.)

Anyway, after Tweeting up a storm (most of which didn’t end up on Facebook… probably a good thing), and not sleeping much ever, I feel exhausted. I also need to go start working on cooking up my two chilis for Thursday’s chili cook off. I have to let the flavors sit and mingle, though I’ll add most of the chocolate to the sweet chili the day of, I think.

Now that the debates are over, though? Go vote. Seriously. Do it.

So. From me to you, goodnight and talk to you later.

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The Failed Math Of The Romney/Ryan Budget

Now, fair warning before I get started: I’ve not seen this budget that these two have worked out. As far as I can tell, almost no one has. See, the two of them are nearly adamant in refusing to actually tell anyone how their budget would work. In an interview with Fox News, Paul Ryan nearly said that he didn’t have the time to give Chris Wallace the numbers and said, “It would take me too long to go through all of the math.”

Which might be true. It’s an interview. But maybe Ryan and Mitt Romney could supply some of those numbers, considering Ryan is claiming that the budget is “revenue neutral.” Which, from my understanding, means that their budget plan won’t earn America any money, but it will certainly stop America from losing money.

That means, numbers wise, that they have to cut $1.1 trillion (the current deficit, as I recall) from the current budget, or add it to the government’s income. Generally speaking, the government’s income comes from taxes. So, the solution is to cut spending and to raise taxes.

Now, Romney’s been having a bit of a problem on the road of telling anyone what he’s going to actually do in any specifics whatsoever. He’s said, specifically, he’ll cut funding to PBS and NPR. Okay. That’s specific. He’s said he’d slash funding to education. …a bit less specific, but alright. He’s said he’ll close tax loopholes… though, apparently, we have to wait until he’s elected to find out which ones.

“The Daily Show,” my go to source for a collection of clips of candidates and others saying things that don’t seem to add up with one another, had a rather excellent segment on Romney’s odd mathematics, or lack thereof.

See, it’s hard to find the specifics of what Romney wants to give up. We could look at Ryan’s budget, but Romney has said, very firmly, that his budget is different. Things changed. So it wouldn’t really do us much good. There are, however, some specifics on Romney’s website here. With the numbers provided there, it tallies up to a total of:

$219.6 billion slashed from the deficit. With a potential extra $100 billion from “empowering states to innovate.”

That’s a chunk, but it’s not deficit eliminating chunk. So, is he going to do something else?

Well, apparently, Romney is going to cut taxes across the board by 20 percent, and then he’s going to restore the defense budget to pre-Obama spending and increase it by building a lot more boats and three subs a year.

…which is where things start to get wonky for me. See, the way I understand it, if taxes, the federal government’s biggest revenue, go down, then the deficit goes up. For taxes to lower, things have to be slashed en mass to get the deficit lowered. But Romney wants to increase defense spending. All of this seems to almost eliminate the (let’s say) $319.6 billion cut from the budget.

“But it takes time! You can’t eliminate a deficit this big in one night!”

I find that argument intensely ironic, as that’s what supporters of President Barack Obama have been saying for a while now. And he still had to drive through the storm for a couple years before coming out on the other side. Romney would be starting his presidency, if elected, with unemployment rates lower than Obama started with and a stronger stock market than Obama started with. It’d seem that the sluggish removal of the deficit would have almost no excuse.

“If you lower taxes, the economy improves!”

Now, this gets into big economic theories I’m not personally familiar with. However, using logic, I can determine a few things. First, that likely isn’t true as a rule. If lower taxes improved the economy, then why tax at all? There is likely a point after which to lower taxes any more would be detrimental. Second, I feel like if that were a fact, the economy would have been doing nothing but improving since Ronald Reagan. In fact, it should have seen a strong hey day during Bush’s presidency. And it was strong for a while. Then it crashed. Which reminds me of the 1920s in America. The economy was going swell… and then it shattered. Could it be that there were not enough regulations and policies were passed that saw brief economic booms traded in for lengthy depressions?

But whether the economy improves or not isn’t what I’m discussing. I’m talking the federal budget. Simple as that. An improved economy would help, certainly, as it would potentially increase tax revenue, but I don’t think the economy will improve that much during a Romney presidency. It would be slow. Which sounds like his recovery plan.

And that’s the thing. Romney’s specific slashes and changes to the budget (which are, in my opinion, quite irresponsible) would move the deficit down some, while our debt continued to increase. Then he’d put policies in place he thinks will improve the economy (and let’s hope it won’t crash it), which would slowly move the deficit down some more. And if no one touches anything, maybe, in 10, 15, 20 years, the deficit will be gone. Tada!

But that’s not enough. There need to be some harsh realities. Taxes need to be raised. Loopholes need to be closed, particularly for corporations that get to keep their money overseas for free. We need to make it more expensive for companies to give their jobs to other countries, and make sure no corporation goes without paying taxes. The defense budget needs trimming, as does the rest of the budget. If you eliminate charitable donations tax deductions, close off tax deductions and loopholes that tend to only apply to the extremely wealthy and the big corporations, and bring corporations and companies back to the US with their jobs, you might start seeing a flow of money both in the economy and in the government’s pocketbook. THAT is what needs to happen.

Dunno if Romney will do that or not.

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So, Why Kill Big Bird, Exactly?

And by “kill Big Bird,” I am of course referring to Mitt Romney’s comments in the presidential debate stating that he would cut federal funding to PBS.

Now, I’ve talked about this before. I’ve made a generally philosophical and cultural plea to continue funding the arts. I could make a plea to education, or a plea to emotions about education…

…but the more I think about trying to convince people to not take federal funds away from PBS and company, the more I realize that I have no idea WHY people want to take those funds away.

“The Daily Show” has a bit discussing the ridiculousness of it all and supplying some reasoning for why people might want to cut it: Propaganda. …which I honestly can’t recall ever seeing on any show on PBS. Seriously. It seems like, more and more lately, the right is wanting to condemn education and facts as propaganda and warp them to fit their own narrative. Intelligent design, make history exclude certain people, et cetera. Which, really, is a frightening prospect. It’s like a war against reality. Considering Mr. “Pack of Lies from Hell” from yesterday’s post, I feel that might be accurate, sadly.

There’s another argument to keep funding PBS going around lately, from the Twitter account of fictional “The West Wing” President Josiah Bartlet. The tweet read: “TLC was founded in 1972 by NASA and the Health Department as an educational channel. It was privatized. Now it shows Honey Boo Boo.#SavePBS”

And that’s a really disturbing thought. I have heard counter-arguments, saying if PBS were defunded, it would pay for thousands of Pell Grants… Which sounds great, until you remember that the guy that wants to defund PBS wants to cut Pell Grants, too.

So, why defund PBS? There are SO MANY OTHER items in the budget that could be dropped, items which would return SO MUCH MORE money. “The Daily Show” has clip after clip after clip of Republicans dismissing the president’s attempts to cut amounts from the budget that are “insignificant” and “too small to matter” before they turn around and support cutting PBS and company, which gets a far lesser amount.

Before I can really form an argument to defend PBS and NPR and the like, defend their spread of education and facts to everyone, people who might not be able to access other methods of education or somesuch, I need to know why this is Romney’s big slash to the budget. As far as I recall, it’s one of the only things he’s flat out said he’d cut from the budget. For everything else, apparently he’ll tell us after he’s elected? I dunno. But he has said, unequivocally, he will cut funding to PBS. I would just like to hear why, exactly.

So, conservatives: Your turn. Tell me why.

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The Lazy, Wretched, Undeserving 47 Percent

Okay. This news is just a bit old now, by at least a week… I’ve even already written one or two posts about it. But, if you’ve somehow missed out entirely, the crux of the 47 percent issue is this: In a private fundraiser held in Florida in the month of May, GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney kind of demeaned 47 percent of the nation by saying this:

“There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what […] These are people who pay no income tax. […] And so, my job is is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

People have exploded over these comments. Romney at first doubled down on the comments, and since then has had to clarify that he supports 100 percent of America. But he’s still doubling down on the philosophies this statement is rooted in, and is thus perpetuating a rather dangerous and false narrative, an ugly class war far more hateful and brutal than that of the Occupy Wall Street crowd, where so many derided their class warfare against the 1 percent.

Actually, an example pops to mind. Back during the height of the Occupy Wall Street movement, there were stories of disdainful and rude people going around and dumping McDonald’s applications on the OWS crowds. The emotions behind that disrespect for fellow Americans are the same emotions behind Romney’s statements about the 47 percent: You have to contribute a certain amount to society, in job creation and in tax collection, to be considered worth anyone’s time.

See, Romney associates anyone in the 47 percent of people not paying income taxes with people dependent on government. Apparently, if you’re not paying income taxes, then you’re irresponsible. You don’t take care of your life. You’re on government assisted living. You’re on welfare or getting free health care or living in government housing.

And the implication is that you’re worthless to society.

Now, as we should ALL know, this isn’t even remotely true, although now there are people pretending that 47 percent of Americans don’t work despite our unemployment rate being around 8 percent… I can’t really make that up. For those of us that aren’t total idiots, though, it’s easy to figure out this isn’t true. Much of that 47 percent works. Most of them do, in fact. It includes families of five making $50k, individuals earning less than $20k and active soldiers fighting in Afghanistan and other countries.

See, I’m in the “makes less than $20k” category. As is anyone with a minimum wage job, even if it’s full time. And if you mention this to supporters of Romney’s philosophy, they’ll simply say: “Get a better job.” Ignore that simply “getting a better job” isn’t something one walks out the door and just does. There’s a deeper problem here. And that’s a disdain for the minimum wage workers.

The Romneys will tout the job creators day in and day out, talking about how amazing they are. How they’re the most important thing to the American economy. But what good is a job creator if no one takes it?

Hey, I just created a new job: My personal maid! Any takers?

Let’s pretend, for a moment, that every single person working for $20k or less a year got a better job. What would the result be? No more fast food restaurant workers. No more Walmart associates. No more paid interns at office jobs. And then what happens? Those big companies collapse. What is Walmart without its associates, McDonald’s without its burger flippers, O’Charley’s without its waitresses? A failed business.

So many have talked about the government and its welfare checks and how those keep people in the lower classes… yet the big companies, these job creators, keep creating minimum wage jobs. Those crappy jobs are the most easily attainable things on the job market these days. So people take them. And get enough money to skim by, to pay the bills, buy some groceries and maybe see a movie or two a month.

And then, the Romneys of the world condemn them as though they are lazy, as though it’s THEIR fault they don’t earn enough money. Hey, why don’t you just go work four crappy jobs, even though it was hard enough finding one? Meanwhile, Romney earns enough to pay extra in taxes despite his earlier saying that doing EXACTLY that would make someone unqualified to be president.

All this talk of the rich paying so much in taxes and the job creators creating so many jobs (that apparently 8 percent of the nation can’t seem to find) is a load of crap. Making them to be the pillars of the economy, the things supporting and keeping America going, is wrong. Because the ones that truly keep America aloft? Well, in truth, it’s all Americans working together. All 100 percent. But, apparently, according to Romney and his beliefs, anyone not paying income tax, anyone receiving government assistance to get support in troubled times… they’re not worth any attention.

And that’s the real problem of Romney’s 47 percent statement. He’s written them off not only as votes he’ll be unable to get, but also as undeserving Americans, not worth being considered in the American dream.

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How Romney Ruined His Last Asset

I don’t know how closely any of you follow the news, be it political or not, but GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney has been having an awful campaign. Like, seriously. Since its inception, no one really wanted him as the nominee, and he had gaffe after ridiculous gaffe, but his gaffes were outshone by the gaffes of others and his money blasted through all the other candidates like they were wet tissue paper.

Then, once he pretty much became the de facto nominee, he proceeded to continue slipping up all over the place. He got caught lying. He got the United Kingdom pissed off at him. It’s been a painful cycle. But, money and time does wonders, and people have let his screw ups slip into the back of their minds.

But the closer it gets to election day, the harder it is for Americans to simply forget these screw-ups. People will likely remember Clint Eastwood’s odd Republican National Convention speech for years. Romney’s failure to actually give any details on his policy at the convention was glaring, and people are starting to notice that he refuses to give details in any venue. Maybe he’s saving them for the debates, but he’s losing the interest of independents by the minute.

Last week, he made a crass, stupid and unnecessary comment about the tragedy in Libya that upset many people and broke his own promise to not make any personal attacks on President Barack Obama on Sept. 11. That outlined his complete naivete when it comes to foreign policy and his inability to properly handle a crisis.

But then, today, news broke out of something else he said that ruins his financial image, the one thing he’s been hanging his hat on since day one.

It started with a damaging video this weekend about how, while at Bain Capital, Romney went to China to help with the potential purchase of a factory there. The video, taken secretly at a high-dollar private fundraiser, puts a blemish on Romney’s tales of not sending jobs to China and also makes him look like a hypocritical fool, thinking of business before human rights. Sure, he’s trying to say “Americans have it easy,” I suppose, but it certainly doesn’t come off sounding that way, especially since he seems to buy the stories about the towers keeping people out. Which doesn’t seem highly likely.

But then, moving to today, another secret fundraiser video was taken. This video has a LOT to say.

Of course, there are many in the GOP that are actually okay with the things Romney said here. Considering it’s about slamming Obama inaccurately, but it’s all stuff that they’d already generally agree with, that’s understandable. But there’s a reason Romney was saying this stuff in a private fundraiser and not on the campaign trail: Because it sounds terrible to everybody else.

The video, broken up into a series of videos, has two main points to pull away, I think. First, it’s that Romney has absolutely no idea what’s going on when it comes the finances and the market.

“They’ll probably be looking at what the polls are saying. If it looks like I’m going to win, the markets will be happy. If it looks like the president’s going to win, the markets should not be terribly happy. It depends of course which markets you’re talking about, which types of commodities and so forth, but my own view is that if we win on November 6th, there will be a great deal of optimism about the future of this country. We’ll see capital come back and we’ll see—without actually doing anything—we’ll actually get a boost in the economy. If the president gets reelected, I don’t know what will happen. I can—I can never predict what the markets will do. Sometimes it does the exact opposite of what I would have expected. But my own view is that if we get a ‘Taxageddon,’ as they call it, January 1st, with this president, and with a Congress that can’t work together, it’s—it really is frightening.”

Allow me to pull out the good parts.

“[…] but my own view is that if we win on November 6th, […] we’ll see—without actually doing anything—we’ll actually get a boost in the economy. If the president gets reelected, I don’t know what will happen. I can—I can never predict what the markets will do. Sometimes it does the exact opposite of what I would have expected.”

He touts how the market would react to his getting elected. Then, in the immediately following train of thought, he admits that he “can never predict what the markets will do.”

Well! Sign me up! That sounds like a guy that knows what he’s doing.

The second major takeaway, the one that most people are getting from this video, is Romney’s complete disdain for about 50 percent of the country. In the video, Romney talks in length about the people that will vote for Obama… he initiates a class warfare similar to the one Republicans have tried to say Obama’s been perpetuating. Obama is separating classes by demanding more from the rich. Romney is separating classes by writing off 47 percent of Americans, the lower class, as a lost cause to be ignored.

There are already many who are pointing out how massively false and misleading Romney’s statements are, but this is the campaign that said they weren’t going to be letting fact checkers dictate how they run this thing. Who needs facts, anyway? Others have pointed out that Romney’s suggestions that people wanting food and shelter are (implied lazy and) looking for entitlement is extremely unpalatable. It’s like a “let them eat cake” moment. Or a moment where Romney basically says, “Let the starving starve.”

The thing is, from his point of view, it’s all about math. He just needs that 270th electoral college vote. That’s it. So he’s gerrymandering his campaign. He’s abysmally low in popularity among blacks, Hispanics and every other racial minority, and he isn’t doing great with women or the poor. But he’s got a cold, hard game of calculations that leads him to think all he needs to do is appease a very specific demographic, and damn all the rest.

The problem is, the president, once president, is president of the entire United States. Sure, you may not get many votes from the poor, minorities or women… but that doesn’t mean you write them off in your campaign promises.

I suppose, technically, Romney’s last asset is that he’s not Obama. But with everything that he’s been saying, and all the other assets he’s been burning behind him, even that’s starting to look more like a problem than a benefit.

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Fund The Arts

Yeah. Politics. It’s been a while, hasn’t it?

In an article written for The Huffington Post last week, Lucas Kavner discussed how a focus of Mitt Romney’s potential term in office as president would be to completely defund the arts, federally. Apparently, this is all part of his attempt to balance the federal budget. Econ/Math 101, spend less and earn more if you owe money. That’s how you get money back (assuming that it’s as simple as balancing one’s checkbook). Fine. That’s fair.

In a deficit of $16 trillion, with spending of about $3.5 trillion a year (and only $2.3 trillion in income) (all according to a couple of charts on last year’s money), what would cutting the funding to the National Endowment for the Arts, the Public Broadcasting Service and National Public Radio net us?

About $2 billion.

Put that into perspective, that’s 0.0125% of the deficit, and 0.057% of how much we spent last year. In smaller money terms, that’s only taking off two cents from a $160 debt. Meaning you still owe $159.98.

So how is this a priority for Romney? Sure, cutting a bunch of tiny things can add up… but maybe we should look at the bigger spenders, like the defense budget, which spends hundreds of millions of tax payer dollars on projects that are often cancelled or failed in some capacity.

But it’s not enough to argue that cutting funding to the arts is ultimately a pointless pittance when budgetary slashes should find focus elsewhere. No, instead, it would help to think about what the funding brings people.

Now, is everyone going to be happy with their tax dollars being spent on the NEA, PBS and NPR? No. No one will be totally happy with how their tax dollars are spent. Ever. It just won’t happen.

But there are some things that benefit the tax paying populace at large more than others.

Public schools and libraries. Roads. Police and firemen. The TVA. The FDIC. And, of course, the NEA, PBS and NPR.

See, the arts are about more than some sort of random, indiscernible painting locked away in a museum that you swear your five-year-old could have painted with their bare butt. It’s about education and discussion, looking into the soul of humanity and our nation and forcing people to better themselves.

When we think of great people in history, who are inevitably some of the names that pop up? People that had major, long-lasting impact?

The Beatles. Shakespeare. Beethoven. Elvis Presley. Michelangelo. Leonardo da Vinci. Mozart.

Artists. Musicians. Wordsmiths. They created permanent beauty, messages that carry on thousands of years later, things that bind the human race together in experience. Things we would be worse off without.

And the NEA, PBS and NPR do more than that. They educate. They inform. They shine a light on the dark plague that is the ignorant masses.

Just think about PBS. If you’re my age and watched PBS as a kid, you likely watched “Sesame Street,” “Bill Nye the Science Guy” and “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.” All of these shows did more than entertain or distract. They taught. They gave children vital information to the foundations of their adult intelligence. For all we know, Bill Nye inspired some kid to be the next Albert Einstein. “Sesame Street” may have encouraged someone to be a teacher, a teacher who guides that young Einstein through school. The possibilities are endless. These are sources of good for our nation, our culture, our children.

Romney needs to start taking a look at the value of the things in America. Not just the monetary spending, but the actual value of them. The arts can and will survive without federal funding… but not unharmed. Think of Shakespeare. There was only one of him. If there had been an NEA in his time, maybe there would have been three or four. Perhaps technology would have advanced faster.

It’s all hypothetical, I know. But there’s one thing I know isn’t hypothetical. Defunding the arts will do nothing but harm America’s potential. We should be treating them with respect and reverence, honoring and lifting them up instead of casting them aside.

Think on it.

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The Boycotting Conundrum

Today is the day that former Arkansas governor and GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee declared the national “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day.” For those unaware of why the nation needs to appreciate Chick-fil-A, you can read my earlier post about the entire issue.

For those unwilling to read that, here’s the issue in brief: Chick-fil-A’s president and CEO Dan Cathy affirmed that Chick-fil-A is anti-same-sex marriage. This caused people to be upset, especially when the knowledge of Chick-fil-A’s donations to several organizations that work against homosexuals and homosexuality was made more widely known. The Jim Henson Company cut ties with the restaurant, the mayors of Chicago and Boston told Chick-fil-A to not bother trying to open stores in their cities… It’s become a bit of an explosive big deal, as many things have done in this age of social media and knee jerk reactions.

The reason I return to this issue is multi-fold. First, I want to revisit the idea of the boycott. Why are people doing it? What does a boycott entail? What should the boycott mean? Second, I want to revisit the support of the issue. Third, I want to just revisit the entire issue, because today exploded in commentary and I think some people are rather unfortunately missing the point of things.

A friend of mine posted something on her Facebook today… Here’s a truncated version of what she said:

“Chik-fil-A doesn’t discriminate in hiring or when they give out employee scholarships so their employees can go to college. They also give tons of meals to homeless people and kitchens every year. OF COURSE CHIK-FIL-A IS ANTI GAY MARRIAGE. They don’t serve chicken on Sundays for goodness sake. They’ve been this way for years. This isn’t news any more than Anderson Cooper ‘coming out’ was news.

You cannot possibly boycott every company that doesn’t support Gay rights. You need gas for your cars, right? Well, the owners of OPEC are responsible for the DEATHS of gay people. You ever eat at Domino’s? Anti-gay marriage. You ever shop at Urban Outfitters? They’re anti-gay marriage. Walmart? Anti-gay marriage. Exxon? That’s right. Anti-Gay marriage. So why is Chik-fil-A getting all this attention?

Boycotting is Slactivism and I deplore slactivism.”

I feel a bit dirty cutting up some of what she said like that, but that’s basically the meat of it all. And she raises some good points. First, the knowledge of Chick-fil-A’s donations to the groups has been out there for years. I think I read about it years ago in brief. And it’s fine to be upset about those donations. Truly, it is. But people that are letting the opinion of one guy in the organization be what they’re rallying against… that’s a bit problematic.

After all. The company doesn’t discriminate against the LGBT community in the inner workings as far as anyone has noticed. The big problem for LGBT members and allies is the donations. Make that the issue.

Further, there is a problem with the idea that Chick-fil-A is not the only company with that opinion, or with someone at the head that has that opinion. If there are other companies that donate to anti-LGBT groups, then, really, you should consider boycotting them as well. It’s good to fully commit to your principles. Make this movement a movement for what you stand in. Don’t simply pick the easiest spot to turn away from.

And can we please not make this a hate issue? I have a bit of a problem with the word hate getting tossed around so cavalierly. The problem is that Chick-fil-A is comprised of many people. Lots of them. And some of them are very likely pro-LGBT and pro-same-sex marriage. The organization itself holds no discrimination against LGBT individuals that I’ve ever heard of.

This doesn’t mean I’m supporting them. I dislike the donations. But that’s the stance I’m taking. All this talk of hate and bigotry… it gets to a personal level unnecessary in the grand movement that should be taking place. It causes resentment by association. Suddenly anyone that works at Chick-fil-A could be labelled someone that hates homosexuals. This is an unfair and erroneous stance to take.

As for the people coming out in droves to support Chick-fil-A… Another friend of mine made a good point on Facebook. If all the people willing to divulge of their money simply to support “the freedom of speech” or, more often than not, Chick-fil-A’s stance against same-sex marriage were to take that money, time and effort and direct it at a cause like world hunger or curing AIDS or cancer… maybe we could actually make this nation, this world a better place to live. Instead, this has become a petty squabble, a foolish battle of the offended where money is tossed back and forth by people taking offense to something that has absolutely nothing to do with them. That is a poor position to take on this entire thing, too.

If Americans were to begin actively boycotting every single major corporation that did not agree with its views, there are several possible solutions.

One: Nothing would change. Depending on which stance is being boycotted over, there are several close call hot button issues in America that find themselves dead even amongst the consuming public.

Two: Corporations would be forced to amend their professional stances (a.k.a. who they’re giving money to) in order to salvage business. Personally, this is a dream result. Such things can happen, and it would be great if they did. If money were no longer funneled into hate groups, the world might improve. But the reality of the possibility of that not happening must be present in the minds of our intrepid boycotters.

Three: America would find itself at an economic standoff. There are so many people with so many varied opinions on so many varied subjects that, if applied full force, this sort of methodology could cause a capitalistic catastrophe where the stubborn stick with their views and the stubborn consumers suddenly find themselves consuming less and less. Depending on how stubborn people are, this could last long enough to hurt the country in some way.

In the end, really, you do what you want. Do what you think is right. However, I feel like the personal level this has been spiraling toward is a dangerous thing, something that needs to exit the national discussion immediately. This goes for all boycotts. Commit to a stance, but know why you’re committing to an action, and know exactly who that action should be directed toward. And, while you’re at it, maybe talk to your senators and representatives and try to get some political actions in play.

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Bain: The Bane Of Romney

First, let me be clear… Yes, “The Dark Knight Rises” comes out on Friday. Yes, the villain is the rather terrifying Bane, the man who broke Batman’s back. Or, if you don’t know anything about the comics and had the “pleasure” of watching “Batman & Robin,” the brain-dead overly muscular luchador/chauffeur for Poison Ivy. …I suggest you at least get some knowledge of the comics if that’s all you know of Bane.

My point is, unlike some people (yes, you, Rush Limbaugh, and even if you didn’t mention a conspiracy you definitely left the insinuation there, so stop trying to cover your tracks), I don’t believe there is any sort of dastardly connection between the villain of this film and Mitt Romney’s connections with Bain Capital. Especially since no one really even wanted Romney to get this far, as you may recall.

Okay. That now being out of the way, time to talk about the actual matter at hand.

Romney’s associations with Bain have become a huge problem for him. President Barack Obama’s campaign has hit him hard and heavy over this issue, especially after a report in The Boston Globe suggested Romney’s not-quite truthfulness concerning his involvement at Bain.

I don’t know if it’s all true. Is it possible Romney committed perjury? Sure. Is it possible he remained involved in Bain after he claims? Certainly. Is it possible he oversaw the creation of businesses in countries other than America? Definitely. But whether he did or did not doesn’t much matter. It’s how terribly he’s handling this entire thing that’s causing his nightmares.

First off, this “retroactive retirement” thing… That’s just… I don’t know what that’s supposed to be. I mean, you’re working at a place, you take a leave of absence, like being gone, so you say, “Hey. Instead of ‘leave of absence,’ let’s just say I retired back then, okay? But I’ll totally keep the money and the benefits I had during that time. Thanks.” That’s just… stupid and disingenuous. Not to mention, it really doesn’t make much sense. The New Yorker has a pretty decent humor article lambasting the entire procedure.

Second off, there’s this whole tax returns thing… Pretty much everyone that has tried to be president has released years and years of their tax returns. Lets Americans know what you’re doing with your money. Romney swears he’s got nothing to hide… but then proceeds to hide all but two years of tax returns. The two most recent ones. Y’know, during his actual presidential run.

…sigh. No, Romney, that doesn’t show people anything. That shows us that you only want people seeing what you’ve done with your money during the time you’re trying your best to look good.

I don’t know if he’s got something to hide, really. And I don’t much care. I’m not going to vote for the guy, if you haven’t caught onto that. The problem is that, unless you’ve shown yourself to be an utterly honest person, people won’t trust you when you say “I have nothing to hide” while you openly hide things. It arouses suspicions, makes people raise questions and the like.

So, with all of this, Bain is really weighing Romney down. Badly. The more he goes on about the entire issue, the less in control and trustworthy he seems.

Take, for example, this clip from “The Daily Show” wherein Jon Stewart meticulously breaks down the issue and lays out all the problems Bain and Romney’s responses are causing Romney. Meticulous in this case also means humorous. (I will argue that Bane is not the most frightening Batman villain… That’s totally Joker.)

Stewart raises some excellent points. Romney is attempting to distance himself from his finances and business creation, the two things he’s been counting on to put him ahead of Obama in the race. The clip of him in 1994 talking about how blind trusts are ruses is extremely damaging to his credibility as well… and then there’s Stewart’s last argument.

I really have to applaud “The Daily Show” for this bit. Somehow, it wasn’t even a connection I had made. Romney, and the GOP at large, have condemned the lower classes and their attempts at “class warfare,” asking the rich to give a little. They have scoffed at government programs and people being given things for free. They have declared the system broken.

Yet Romney, and so many other affluent people, use that system to dodge taxes. To retain and regain money that they should be paying to the government. The system IS broken, but they don’t offer to fix the parts that get them more money. Instead, the offer to correct the parts that help some people do things such as survive.

Until Romney comes clean with his finances and admits that the rich benefit disproportionately from a broken system, his clout will likely continue to dwindle rapidly. And he will ultimately fail.

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