All in the Family (Part II) Wednesday, Feb 15 2006 

This is the continuation of a previous entry where I get a tiny bit belittling and slightly belligerent to my overwhelmingly Republican family. It all started when I got a letter published in my local newspaper (woo-hoo). My cousin Carmine came across it and decided to email answers to my 10 Questions to my grandmother. She in turn emailed it to me and although my cousin Carmine had some very good points, I still think there’s a little more to it than that. So, I decided to compose a few responses to his responses (am I confusing you yet?) and bing, bang, boom, long story short, I’m awesomely witty & brilliant and my family can’t handle it. No, really, out of a huge family with excessive breeding tendencies, I’m one of 3 liberals floating among a sea of tightly clenched-cheeked Republicans. Can you just imagine the family gatherings?

And once again, his responses are italicized.

Why, in your first year in office, did you add billions of dollars to the deficit, which was greatly reduced under former President Bill Clinton?

Check the figures, especially check them after he was in office for less than nine months to September 11, 2001. Other than Pearl Harbor there has been no single life changing event as far reaching as 9/11. If one were to somehow extract the costs associated with the response to 9/11 (even prior to the war in Iraq) it would be interesting to see how the federal budget would have fared. Look back at the political pages of the news papers in August and September of 2000. There is a famous political cartoon which shows two prize fighters in the ring, They are depicted as George Bush and Al Gore and waiting outside the ring is a much larger, dark hooded boxer and on the back of his robe, it read “The Economy”, the implication meaning that after this fight the economy was next.

An all out war for the economy broke out in 2000 when Dubya & Gore went head-to-head for the Presidency. The nation watched in awe as it happened — I know I was glued to CNN as much in 2000 (when I wasn’t even legal to vote yet) as much as I was in 2004 when Kerry almost had it and then “oh well, I give up!”. I knew Kerry wouldn’t win before I even made my trip to the polls that day, but I had to have a little hope that the nation would Carter out Dubya. But alas, my faith in humanity dwindled away when Bush took office for a second term. And we were so close. Now, I would not have interpreted the political cartoon you’re talking about the same way. Is that because of our political differences? Or perhaps the age difference? Or is it because everyones’ opinion is different, even if they agree on the same topic? I think it’s a little bit of both, I would see such a cartoon and say that it was merely a representation of the bitter “battle” it was for both Dubya & Gore. The economy is bound to suffer a little bit after every President is shuffled out and a new one ushered in. That’s an adjustment process, but, how do you explain the massive depression to the national budget even before the 9/11 attacks? One may often neglect the almost 8 month period between Bush taking office in January 2001 and the attacks on September 11.

It has been reported that the government has borrowed $1.7 trillion from the Social Security trust fund. What has this money been used for and how will it affect my [future] Social Security benefits?

Money was also borrowed from the trust fund during the Clinton Administration in that the excess FICA taxes generated to put in the Social security trust fund where set against the budget deficit there by showing a surplus. This has been done for many administrations. Social security was never meant to be the sole support of one retirement. Unfortunately it has been a political football for a generation now. We are wise to save for our own retirement as well as choose employers who contributed to retirement funds (like 401ks) that are managed by the employee.

Touche. I am aware of past administrations borrowing against the Social Security trust fund and though it is wise for one to not rely soley on Social Security and to have a solid self-earned retirement fund, many Americans just aren’t that smart. But even then, is it really a matter of smarts? Not everyone has a benefit of a 401k or even the means to save for retirement. Not everyone has a bank account. It’s true that some Americans live paycheck-to-paycheck and when they age and become eligible for Social Security, they might not have anything else to fall back on. What about them? Isn’t this just another example of the rich “triumphing” over the poor?

Do you have any comments for those who adamantly oppose your term in office?

In a democracy the manner to get another point of view is by the vote. The democrats have not been able to put a candidate in front of the American people who can convince them that they have a better idea. Given the wide shift in political opinion, that will probably change in the next election. However, is Hillary the best the democrats can come up with?

Why should I have to wait every four years for one single day to make a difference in the way I, as an American citizen, to get another point of view — a second opinion, if you will? This office has been so secretive and so insistent on turning a deaf ear to the people they were chosen to represent. This office has been so dead-set on it’s own agenda rather than dealing with the at-hand problems. Unfortunately, Democrats have been guilty of this in the past as well. And besides the fact that I’m not a Democrat at all, I’m not rooting for Hillary. Sure, she may have been “the woman behind the man” per se, but I don’t think she’ll have a chance in hell. The feminist-action part of me wants to be screaming “YESSSS! GO HILLARY, KICK THEM IN THE NUTS!” but I like to think of myself as more of a realist. I personally believe that there will not be a woman in the Presidency until woman are truly treated as equals amongst men.

Mr. President, have you ever heard the phrase, “the love of money is the root of all evil?” Or, “absolute power corrupts absolutely?”

I would love to ask that question of our former president as well. I don’t disagree with the point, it is pervasive through many part our society.

Honestly, I would love to ask every President that question.

How has your father, former President George H.W. Bush, influenced your positions on issues?

I think there are similarities in their views just like their were similarities in the views of John Kennedy and his father. There are examples of that throughout history. I do not think having similar views as his father is necessarily a bad thing unless of course if you disagree with both of them. Just like I would like to know what are the similar view of Hillary and Bill Clinton. Besides being a lawyer and married to Bill what makes her a viable candidate for president?

Being that I’m neither Republican or Democrat, I must say, I tend to disagree with most points that HW, Dubya, and Hillary make. Still, I do believe that Hillary would make any Republican look awful in comparison because I sincerely think that she was “the woman behind the man”. The kind of vibe I got from Clinton was that he was more interested in the benefits of his term in office than in actually running the country. That was his downfall and also the reason he was elected in the first place. He was just a regular guy. The same has been said about Dubya, but I think that’s a little off. He reminds me of just some dumb rich boy who fell into daddy’s shoes because he felt he had to. He had always been an average student (more like a C student) and was pretty much handed everything to him because of his father, the big shot Texan oil tycoon. The future of the Beverly Hillbillies, had Jethro stayed in the south.

What were your true intentions in imposing a war on the people of Iraq? Were they of your own accord or the unfinished business of your father?

The tyranny of Saddam Hussein spanned several decades >> Thousands of people in Iraq lost their lives and their freedom during his reign. Most importantly he provided safe harbor for those who would cause harm to our country and those of similar views. Is the world a safer place without Saddam Hussein in power? Certainly no exchange for the loss of human lives but how many would have been lost without the terrorist harbored in that region and his reign over Iraq.

Dictatorship = Tyranny. Yes, the terrorists that Hussein harbored in Iraq could have posed a threat to our great country, but, they only could have. We stopped em good didn’t we? Went after them without solid evidence, didn’t we? We sure know how to bag our criminals. Isn’t it kind of funny now that Iran is the one closer to a nuclear weapon and North Korea has already gone and threatened us with a nuclear attack? Yet, Iraq, who turned out to merely have a leader full of himself & all talk, we go charging into, making Iraq a police state. It’s now an entire country with their religion being bastardized, the way of life their used to and not really too much opposed to now in crumbles. We didn’t give them freedom, we’re trying to force the people of Iraq to become America. Is that what they want? Or is it something that Dubya had to finish for senior because HW didn’t get the chance at a second term?


All in the Family (Part I) Monday, Feb 13 2006 

I decided not to post this weekend because I was terribly busy fending off my very, very Republican family. My cousin came across the letter in the paper and sent a response to my questions to my grandmother who in turn forwarded that onto me. It gave me quite a laugh, I have to say. Then, when I called my grandmother to thank her for sending me this, and so on, and then she told me that she also sent it to every other member of the family. My first thoughts, “Oh. Shit.” When I say that out of 7 uncles & 8 aunts, 35 (or so) 1st & 2nd cousins, more than enough 3rd, 4th & 5th cousins, I am one of three Liberals in my entire family. I am not kidding. I’m also the only one in the family who has a tattoo. I’m the only one (only female, I should say) in the family who didn’t get married at 19 (except for my mother, the other black sheep). I tell you what, being part of a very large Roman Catholic/Italian family has many benefits, but god forbid you’re considered a black sheep by all except for one or two NOT EVEN CLOSELY RELATED relatives.

That’s besides the point. I could complain about my family all day and all night if you gave me the chance, but through all their faults and political choosing, they are still my family. There, now if one of them finds this, they can’t get pissed.

Anyway, my cousin Carmine had some very interesting, although overly standardized Republican, answers to my ten questions. His answers are in italics.

Mr. President, given the infamous bond between Texas and the death penalty, and the fact that you were once the governor of Texas, how do you feel now that most states are doing away with the death penalty? Also, how do you feel about America being the last so-called civilized country that has yet to abolish the death penalty?

I don’t agree with the death penalty. But we need to find ways to stop the criminal from taking away every liberty we have. Because of violent crimes we live in fear, have many restrictions placed on our personal, everyday life.

Although Carmine makes an excellent point, why should we live in fear of every off chance that we might get mugged or raped or murdered? Why fear something that may not ever happen? That’s like being afraid of lightening striking you dead in the face, but what are the odds of that? A million to one. Unfortunately, terrible things happen that we cannot control. It’s a fact of life. Does killing another human being justify their crime? Taking a life for a life is a little outdated these days. Instead of the death penalty, send them to jail for life without parole. They’ll never get out and enjoy the wonderful earth that god has made. Plus I personally believe that the electric chair, lethal injection, and the gas chamber are means of cruel and unusual punishment. Thus, I believe the death penalty is unconstitutional.

What is your definition of the phrase separation of church and state? Doesn’t the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives negate the separation of church and state (the government should have no control over a person’s undeniable right to freedom of religion) by giving money to faith-based organizations?

The separation of Church and state was part of the constitution to prevent the government from instituting a wide sweeping mandate of religion on the people of this country (much like what had been done in England). The definition of the separation of Church and state is one that has been overused in so many cases that the true meaning of what the framers meant for our country has been blurred significantly. The funding of the programs in the faith based initiative is a realization by the government that in order for our government to do their job effectively they must utilize outside resources. For example, not every program that the government is responsible for is run at the grass root level by the government,. For example, here in our county, many government programs are operated by entitles like Trio County Community action, a non-profit group which runs facilities programs (etc) that receives grants from the government . However the data has shown that faith-based programs have had a significant effect on the areas of concern (aid to the poor, counseling for those in need, etc) examples of this would be Catholic Social Services, many protestant and African American church groups, Salvation Army,as well as many other faiths.

Again, Carmine is making an excellent point, however, the separation of church and state is a very simple thing. It’s definition is as clear as the phrase itself “separation of church and state”. The government should have no control over the peoples’ choices of religion. And vice-versa, as many seem to forget, the church will have no hand in the government. Religion these days has turned more into a blind faith and a “belief because you have to and not because you want to”. After my time served in private (primarily Catholic) schooling I learned that the line between church and state is significantly blurred. I have found that instead of teaching individuality and the persuit of one’s own belief and opinion is absolutely wrong. I was once told by a teacher “You’re in private school, your opinions is as meaningless here as it will be in the outside world”. Is that a positive influence? Is that how the church plans to keep it’s parishioners? It’s parishioner’s children (and so one and so forth)? Now, the reason this teacher said this to me is because of an essay I wrote on how Bush was relying too much on blind faith rather than clearly thinking about the aftershock of September 11th. For my school, flaming the right is as bad as a death threat on a student. The Christian right (and I’m not trying to offend anyone’s personal beliefs here) has so severely blurred the lines between church and state that it’s effects will damage the future of this nation. It’s aftershock will cause a societal revert to the time where religion was mandated by the government. Bush has done nothing in his office but rip the Constitution to shreds since he was handed his position on a silver platter (much like everything else in his life, especially the coveted Barbara Bush Scholarship … gee, wonder how he got that one?).

Do you have a response to the American journalists [and bloggers alike] who have said, because of the upcoming Senate hearings on allegations of illegal wiretapping, that you are this generation’s Nixon?

The similarities to other wiretapping in the case of Nixon are in name only. The method and the purpose are totally different. Nixon and his team were wrong were what they did and they paid the price for that. Other wiretaps have been executed by various administrations, most notable Robert F. Kenned during JFK’s team wiretapped Martin Luther King and his now departed wife Coretta Scott king. It is interesting to note that Jimmy Crater brought this up during her funeral (in very bad taste, I might add) and yet it was his democratic predecessor JFK who wiretapped the civil rights leader not a Republican as Carter tried to infer… Should we know if an terrorist-connected person residing or visiting in the US is able to converse with terrorist or terrorist organization outside the US?

No matter the circumstance, wiretapping is illegal. ILLEGAL. If it’s illegal, it’s unjustifiable. Not to mention that again, it’s another example of Bush shredding the Constitution to bits (metaphorically speaking, of course). As for JFK, RFK, and Carter (he wasn’t a very smart man and isn’t to this day, but he still had that silly southern charm that somehow captivated a nation, but I suppose is also the reason he wasn’t elected a second term), it’s still unjustifiable. Just because two assassinated men did it, doesn’t mean it was right. Plus, the comparison is seriously outdated as was the general consensus at the time of JFK and RFK that “black people were to be feared”. Now we know better (even though some people are still living in the 50s) and should realize that skin color should never matter. The wiretapping of Martin Luther King, Jr and Coretta Scott King was a matter of race. MLK brought forth a worthy revolution that I believe did such wonders for the American people.

What is the current relationship between your office and the Fox Broadcasting Company?

I would say the current relationship is that just as many of the other news organizations favor a more liberal viewpoint, Fox Broadcasting favors a more conservative in theme terms balanced view point. To say that any news organization is unbiased is shortsighted. As an example watch George Stefanopolis reports on ABC and then watch the same new report on Fox and or other channels The Fox example stands out because most of the mainstream media tends to slant more toward the liberal rather than conservative view point.. That’s why there are many channels on the cable system. Watch them all and draw your own conclusions.

I didn’t know it was shortsighted to think that possibly money changed hands at some point (as is most often the case) when every single news channel declared Gore the winner in 2000 except for Fox News. Despite the fact that Gore had one popular vote. If I remember correctly from even my most basic History lesson, the electoral college was formed because during the time when our country was still only a few years old, most citizens could not read or write, thus voting was a befuddlement for most. So, men (and no women as they were the “devil” at one point just is as everything different than the considered “norm”) were appointed to go from colony to colony campaigning for the right man for Presidency. The electoral college depended on popular vote and were chosen to represent it. The electoral college failed in 2000 when it decided that money was better spent on a President’s son rather than a man that probably would have done a better job in handling all the disarray that our country is in now with Bush at the head.

My Coffee is Already Cold Friday, Feb 10 2006 

Privacy fears hit Google search (source: BBC)
Islam-West divide ‘grows deeper’ (source: BBC)
Warning Urged for ADHD Drugs (source: Washington Post)
Patriot Act Compromise Clears Way for Senate Vote (source: Washington Post)

On a more personal note, about a month ago I sent a letter into my local newspaper (I also posted it here) and have been waiting since then to see if they would actually print it. Well, they did! It took long enough, but I’m satisfied (even if they did cut out quite a few lines of my sarcasm, as was certainly expected). In the actual print version of the newspaper, I have two columns. Take that you employed journalists.

Reader dreams of chance to ask President Bush 10 questions

Politics, Shmolitics. Thursday, Feb 9 2006 

Bush Gives New Details of 2002 Qaeda Plot to Attack Los Angeles (source: NY Times)
Never let it be said that the New York Times doesn’t have a grip on irony & wit. Through the entire article they refer to Dubya simply as Mr. Bush, rather than “the President” or “President Bush” (etc). Also, the photos used with the article are genius! The plane in with the shot of the U.S. Bank Tower (just off to the left) and the photo of Mr. Bush speaking, notice the Paul Revere in the background. I think the photos correspond with the article very well. Well done New York Times, well done.

As described in the staff report by the independent commission that investigated the Sept. 11 attacks, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, who is said to be the mastermind behind them, had originally envisioned an elaborate plan with 10 planes that would attack the East and West Coasts simultaneously on Sept. 11, 2001. But Mr. bin Laden rejected the plan, the report said, because of its difficulty.

Related: Bush details foiled 2002 al Qaeda attack on L.A. (source: CNN)

Lawmakers, White House strike deal on Patriot Act revisions (source: Forbes)
Okay, so, concerns about the mockery of civil liberties included in the Patriot Act have been revised. Well, which ones? Basically, the Act has been revised and they have yet to vote on it. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that it will simply be tossed out with the daily trash – just as it should have been in the beginning.

New video of kidnapped journalist airs (source: USA Today)

“I am here. I am fine,” journalist Jill Carroll says in the new video. She urges supporters to do whatever her captors want to get her released.

And the world waits to see what happens next.

10 Questions … Wednesday, Feb 8 2006 

10 Legitimate questions I would ask the President if given the opportunity:

(1) Mr. President, given the infamous & synonymous bond between Texas and the death penalty, and that you were once the governor of Texas, how do you feel now that most states are doing away with the death penalty? Also, how do you feel about the fact that America is the last socially considered “civilized” country, in the entire world, that has yet to abolish the death penalty completely?
(2) Mr. President, what is your definition of the phrase “separation of church and state”? With the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, does that not knock out the proper definition of “separation of church and state” (exactly that, separate, the government should have no control over a persons undeniable right to freedom of religion) by the government giving money to faith-based organizations?
(3) Mr. President, do you have a response to those certain journalists in America who have said, due to the upcoming Senate hearings on allegations of illegal wiretapping, that you are this generation’s Nixon?
(4) Mr. President, what is the current relationship between your office and the Fox Broadcasting Company?
(5) Mr. President, why, in your first year of office, did you spend well over 5 trillion dollars of the deficit – a deficit, I might add, that would not have existed if it weren’t for the Democratic representation of former President Bill Clinton – leaving the countries budget at a mere one trillion dollars? With that said, can you explain why the conflict in Iraq cost over one trillion dollars?
(6) Mr. President, it has been reported that the government has borrowed 1.7 trillion dollars from the social security trust fund, what has this money been used for? How will it affect my social security when I’m eligible? I feel there is not enough information for me to fully understand what exactly is going to be done with social security. What if I do not want the government to have control of the money that I have worked so hard for?
(7) Mr. President, do you have any comments to those who feverently oppose your term in office?
(8) Mr. President, have you ever heard the phrase “Money is the root of all evil”? Or, “Absolute power is absolute corruption”?
(9) Mr. President, how has your father, former President George Bush, influence your current position?
(10) And last, but surely not least, Mr. President, what were your true intentions for imposing a war on the people of Iraq? Were they that of your own accord or “unfinished business” of your father’s?