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WORKING TOGETHER, WE CAN FORCE CHANGES ON THE TSA
2011 is almost here, so it is time to discuss resolutions for the New Year. Everyone always seems to come up with the same old stuff--losing weight, spending more time with the family, cutting down on the Wild Turkey. It is time to think a little broader. Therefore, I am proposing that everyone adopt the following resolution: “I resolve to do everything in my power to work toward dismantling as much of the federal bureaucracy as possible in 2011, and to continue to work toward this goal every year thereafter.”
I know that resolution does not sound nearly as cool as promising yourself that you are going to go to Spain and run with the bulls; however, it is more important to your future, and less physically dangerous.
The TSA is, perhaps, the best example of a bureaucracy in need of dismantling, or at the very least, repair and restructure. For months, all we have heard from the TSA is how it is necessary that its agents be allowed to feel up anyone that decides to fly. The type of hand-to-body contact that the TSA claims is perfectly fine, qualifies as a great deal more than heavy petting. If you recall the old baseball analogy from your youth: TSA agents are free to round second and head for third--dinner and a movie, not included. But, in the name of safety, the public is supposed grin and bear it.
At the same time, the TSA feels comfortable in conducting absolutely no screening on airline ground crews. This little tidbit was made public by an airline pilot--pilots and flight attendants are subject to screening--via the internet a few weeks ago. Obviously, a person slipping onto the tarmac while posing as a ground crew worker and placing a bomb into the baggage department of a plane poses a much greater risk to the public than a man or woman carrying more than three ounces of hand sanitizer while flying.
Rather than acknowledging the obvious, and vowing to fix the problem, the TSA attempted to kill the messenger. According to ABC News, after the disclosure, the TSA sent a letter to the pilot stating, “A Federal Flight Deck Officer (FFDO) must not engage in conduct that impairs the efficiency of the TSA or causes the loss of confidence in TSA.”
TSA followed up on the letter by sending two sky marshals to the pilot's home to confiscate his TSA issued weapon. I for one have lost confidence in the TSA, not because of the pilot's actions, but because of the TSA's reaction.
The TSA is of the opinion that pilot's actions pose more risk than ignoring a problem that the TSA has been aware of since 9/11. Heads should roll at the TSA for allowing this type of obvious security breach to exist while subjecting the general public over the top, needless and useless scrutiny. But it is a government bureaucracy that will continue to violate the letter and the spirit of our laws, until legislative action is taken.
Don't get mad at the people on the front lines doing the screening. They are simply doing the job to which they have been assigned. Anger at that level is misplaced, and will solve nothing. It is the higher ups that must be dealt with. As an individual, you have more power than you might think. Call, write and e-mail your elected representatives. Encourage your friends and co-workers to do the same. Politicians react when prodded by constituents. Working together we can force change on the TSA and every other bloated federal bureaucracy.
2011 is upon us - resolve to take America back from the bureaucrats.
(Russ Purvis can be screened via email to email@example.com)
BLOCKAGE OF THE OMNIBUS SPENDING BILL IS A CHRISTMAS GIFT
Merry Christmas! Even if you do not find every gift that you desire under your tree, or in your stocking, be happy for the fact that your elected representatives in Washington have given you three important gifts: an extension of the Bush era tax rates; repeal of the idiotic “don't ask, don't tell” policy; and, blockage of the $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill. It is enough to make even a Grinch like me feel a little warm and fuzzy.
The extension of the Bush era tax rates is a gift that comes with an expiration date. But look at it like a new ipod. Just as an ipod can be updated with new software every couple of months to keep it up to date, the tax rate issue can be addressed by the new Congress again next year. Perhaps rates will actually be reduced, rather than simply held steady.
“Don't ask, don't tell.” Well what can I tell you, if you are some type of homophobic Neanderthal, this gift just might ruin your Christmas. Get over it. Even the military agrees that it was a stupid idea. The same arguments that have been made in support of “don't ask, don't tell,” were made against desegregation of the military and against allowing women to serve. It is time to acknowledge the fact that homosexuality exists, and should not be allowed to be a reason to discriminate against any man or woman that wishes to serve in the military.
Hopefully this will be a gift that keeps on giving. Perhaps this repeal will be used as a precedent for the repeal of other laws that discriminate against homosexuals, such as healthcare benefits for same sex partners.
To understand why blocking the omnibus spending bill is a gift, one must first understand how such a pork-laden monstrosity was ever proposed. The federal government, for budgetary purposes, began the 2011 fiscal year on October 1, 2010. If the Congress had been doing its job, the budget for fiscal 2011 would have been debated, and passed well in advance of October 1st. Of course, as has been its habit for the last several years, Congress fiddled as Rome burned. In fact, not a single appropriations bill was passed during 2010.
At this, the 11th hour, the Democrats, with the aid of many Republicans, attempted to wrap everything up in one spending bill. Of course, to pass such a bill, it had to be loaded with sweeteners, and threats of the dire consequences of the failure to pass it had to be predicted. Fortunately, either out of fear, or a sense that the Democrats were like chum in the water, Republicans bailed, effectively killing the bill. For now, until a budge is passed, the government will continue to operate on a continuing resolution that simply allows spending at current levels. Therein lies the gift.
When the Congress reconvenes in January, Republicans will have a real opportunity to pass a budget that reduces government spending. Not a bill that simply reduces the growth of spending, but actually reduces spending. Perhaps, take government spending back to 2000 levels. Whatever the benchmark, it must result in real spending cuts.
Have a great Christmas, and start thinking about what you can do to make 2011 your best year ever.
(Independent Russ Purvis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)
'THE PERFECT IS THE ENEMY OF THE GOOD'
It has been said that constant change is the only thing that never changes. The deal that President Obama and the Republicans have been attempting to craft, to avoid the huge tax increases at every income level, that will result if the current tax rates are allowed to expire, clearly demonstrates this fact.
Whether it is a result of keen political acumen, or simply a desperate attempt to salvage what is left of his first term, and position himself to run again, Obama has definitely changed. During the first two years of his presidency, Obama engaged in blatant class warfare, arguing, among other things, that the “rich” should pay more taxes. Obama's definition of rich has been a moving target. Prior to agreeing that the current tax rates should be extended for everyone for another two years, Obama had last pegged the “rich” at those making around $250,000.00 per year. Not a small sum of money; however, there are tens of thousands of small business owners making close to that amount that might disagree with Obama about being rich.
Democratic leadership has also changed its view on the tax issue. Just a few weeks ago, Nancy Pelosi was bemoaning the fact that Republicans were not willing to agree to any extension of the current tax rates that resulted in a tax increase at any income level. Pelosi expressed outrage that the Republicans, by failing to soak those making over $250,000, might allow the “middle class” to be subjected to a tax increase. Of course that was then, and this is now. The Democrats in the House, on Dec. 9, passed a nonbinding resolution calling for a rejection of the proposal offered by Obama and the Republicans. If the House does reject the tax rate extension, the net effect will be a tax increase on the very middle class that Pelosi was allegedly so worried about.
Apparently the Democrats and the Republicans have both changed their views on unemployment benefits. Not so long ago, the Democrats were seeking a three month extension of unemployment benefits. Republicans, suddenly becoming deficit hawks, demanded that any extension be offset by spending cuts elsewhere. As part of the Obama Republican package that is now floating around, Republicans have agreed to a 13-month extension, without any offsetting spending cuts --so much for fiscal responsibility.
The Democrats are poised to get a longer unemployment benefit extension than they could have ever dreamed possible, yet they are opposing the Obama/Republican package because of the tax rate issue. If they hold on to that posture, and block the legislation, no amount of explanation will satisfy those impacted by that action. Those voters will be lost for the foreseeable future.
The Obama/Republican proposal is far from perfect. But, as Voltaire pointed out over 300 years ago, “the perfect is the enemy of the good.” The extension of the current tax rates is a good thing. It overshadows the bad that is the extension of the unemployment benefits, without offsetting spending cuts. This proposal needs to become law, without too much pork being added. Then, in January, with new representation taking over, maybe a better solution can be found.
(Email independent Russ Purvis at email@example.com)
WITH MONTEE AT HELM, STATE DEMS CAN RISE FROM THE ASHES
As its first order of business in 2011, the Missouri Democratic Party should drop the donkey and adopt the phoenix as its emblem. With the selection of state auditor Susan Montee as the new chair of the Missouri Democratic Party, the MDP, like the mythological phoenix, is now poised to rise from the ashes of the last election.
Montee was selected as the new chairwoman of the MDP at the December 4, 2010, meeting. If the Democratic leadership did nothing else right during 2010, it still hit a homerun with Susan's selection as the new chair. Montee knows that the Missouri Democratic Party must change if it to return to relevance. I say return to relevance because, although Missouri's governor, secretary of state and treasurer are all Democrats, and the Democratic Party can claim one United States Senator from Missouri, the Democratic Party apparatus in Missouri has been irrelevant for several years. The 2010 election results simply demonstrated how bad things have become.
The Missouri Democratic Party must recognize that Missouri Democrats are not Obama Democrats. Missouri Democrats still believe that the ideals of Harry Truman and JFK have meaning. County committeemen and women understand this. Unfortunately, the state party has largely ignored its county committees for several years. Under Montee's leadership, I believe that will change almost immediately. I expect that the there will be a level of communication between Montee and the leadership at the county level that has never before existed.
But, communication between political insiders will not be enough to save the Democratic Party in Missouri. While 2010 was a disastrous election cycle, the 2012 cycle holds the key to the future for the Democratic Party in Missouri for the next decade. If Democrats can pick up seats in the Missouri House and Senate in 2012, it is possible for Jay Nixon to lose in 2012 and the Democratic Party to still become relevant. The same can be said of Senator McCaskill. If the Democrats gain seats in the house and senate, and both McCaskill and Nixon lose, those gains will provide the Democrats as base from which to move forward in 2014.
McCaskill and Nixon will both be running races that will be somewhat independent of the Missouri Democratic Party, and Montee and the MDP's role in shaping those races will be minimal. However, the MDP's role in getting out the vote and recruiting and supporting candidates for the Missouri House and the Missouri Senate will be crucial in turning Missouri from a bright shade of pink to a light shade of blue.
I have known Susan Montee for a very long time. The best thing that Missouri Democrats can hope for is that the Republicans, high on the gains of this past November, will underestimate her. They will do so at their peril. If you are a Democrat that has been feeling disillusioned, beaten down, or just plain afraid for the future of your party, now is the time to think about what you can do to help out. If you are a Republican that has been feeling a little too cocky about the current state of politics in Missouri, you better start looking over your shoulder--Susan Montee is on her way, and her one desire is to wipe that smug look off of your face by beating you in 2012.
(Email our independent columnist Russ Purvis at firstname.lastname@example.org)
AIRPORT SCREENING SHOULD INCLUDE THE USE OF PROFILING
If you traveled by air over the Thanksgiving holiday, there is a good chance that someone, working for your government, made it to second base with you, and possibly came very close to third without even giving you a kiss for your trouble. No, it was not an employee of the IRS. We all know that they have permission to simply go all the way with you, like it or not. But, why is the TSA, with the full support of the U.S. government, given permission to play slap and tickle with anyone that attempts to board an airplane?
If you believe that the need to “stop the terrorists” is the reason for this violation of your civil liberties, you are wrong. We are all simply being sacrificed on the alter of political correctness. In its infinite wisdom, your government has decided that we must all be subject to the violation our liberty, so as not to offend any particular group. The problem is that this approach employs the use of broad axe where a scalpel is needed. If the government wishes to efficiently and effectively prevent a tragedy on an airplane, the screening process should employ the use of profiling.
The word “profiling” carries many negative connotations. However, it is a much more efficient and useful tool than anything the TSA has done thus far. Profiling does not mean that an individual will always be subjected to enhanced screening due to race or national origin; however, race and national origin should be given consideration, along with other factors. The Christmas day bomber is a perfect example of the truth of this statement. If you recall, this guy was traveling from a known terrorist location, on a one way ticket, with no luggage. Those factors alone should have flagged him for enhanced screening.
The TSA should adopt the Israeli approach to airline security. Israeli security questions every person going to and coming from Israel, prior to allowing the boarding an aircraft. The security officers base the decision as to whether to subject an individual being questioned to another level of security screening, based on the individual's responses to the questions and the person's general behavior. My brother-in-law was subjected to this type of screening as he was leaving Israel. Unfortunately for him, his laptop computer locked up and he could not get it to start up when requested to do so by security. This led to a very extensive security screening which included directly contacting his employer regarding the purpose of his trip, and an escort by Israeli security to his assigned airline seat. Profiled? Yes. Invasive? Yes. However, he felt more secure as a result of the process. Not so here, with untrained TSA agents feeling up the young, the elderly and the infirm.
The downside to the Israeli process is time and money. It will take longer to process passengers; however, it will be less physically intrusive for the great majority of us. To hire and properly train a security force capable of carrying out an Israeli style screening process will cost a lot more than hiring TSA agents that are simply tasked with patting people down.
In the end, we must all insist that our government give up the political correct policy that needlessly violates the rights of the many, rather than focusing on the few that actually might pose a threat.
(Email Russ Purvis, an independent thinker, at email@example.com)
REPUBLICANS AND DEMOCRATS BOTH HAVE CHALLENGES AHEAD
Thanksgiving is here again. Aside from all of the food, football and family, whether you are a Republican or a Democrat, there is much for which to be thankful.
Obviously, Republicans are thankful for the midterm drubbing of Democrats. Controlling the House and gaining seats in the Senate have placed Republicans on the cusp of greatness. However, once they have gained power, Republicans tend to act like the uncle that spends Thanksgiving watching football and drinking beer, and then loads up on wine and turkey during dinner. The result is a tired, incoherent, and sometimes flatulent person that has to be shown the door--think Newt Gingrich with better manners. If you doubt the Republicans are quite that inept, consider 1994 when Republicans took control of the House of Representatives for the first time in 40 years. By 2006, they were back in the minority.
The Republicans can also be thankful for the fact that the inside the beltway, Democratic lawmakers were so arrogant as to believe that voters are simply sheep, and will gladly accept the return of Nancy Pelosi as the Speaker of the House and Harry Reid the Senate Majority Leader. Pelosi and Reid, along with Obama, were the architects of the recent election disaster. If the election was the Republican version of a Thanksgiving turkey dinner, Pelosi and Reid continuing to lead is the dessert--like a big old Republican pumpkin pie.
Democrats can be thankful for the Republicans' past history, and hope that history does in fact, repeat itself. More importantly, Democrats should be thankful for the fact that they now have the chance to reinvent the Democratic Party. This will be no easy trick, and will involve leaders of the Democratic Party at the state level separating from the national Pelosi, Reid, Obama wing. It is no secret to those of us in flyover country that the national Democratic Party has lost touch. The party of Pelosi is so far left that socialists appear conservative.
The national Republican Party knows this; however, the Republicans have moved so far to the right that they have also lost touch with those who feel abandoned by the current incarnation of the Democratic Party. The Republicans cannot build a bridge to this group without losing their base. Centrist Democrats can reach this group by stealing a page from the Tea Party movement.
The Tea Party started as a grass roots effort with one goal: to change the political dynamic. Along the way, it picked up support and forced the Republican Party to adapt to its demands. Democratic Party leaders at the state level can take similar action by openly challenging the national leadership for the heart of the Democratic Party. If the current state party leaders are not up to the task, county leaders must take on both the state and national leadership. In the end, it may be messy, and it will definitely be difficult; however, if, during the next election cycle, the Democratic Party does not return to the principles espoused by John F. Kennedy, it will wander in the wilderness for a generation.
(Email Russ Purvis, independent, at firstname.lastname@example.org)
GIVE THE NEW REPS TIME TO FIND A CROOKED LOBBYIST
Congress is back for its lame duck session. However, since this entire session has been lame, there is real work left to be done. For example, the 2011, fiscal year started on October 1, 2010, yet there is not a federal budget. The irony is that this group of mental midgets likes to spend money like it is going out of style; however, they are so inept that they cannot even pass a budget that will allow them to keep on spending.
But what can you expect? During the midterm elections, the Democratic Party literally had the family jewels chopped off, put on a dirty paper plate and handed back to it with a message from the Republicans that simply said: “Bon Appétit.” Instead of learning a lesson, the Democrats have concluded that Nancy Pelosi provides just the right spice to make such a meal palatable and, therefore, they have decided to reelect her as Speaker of the House. A party that is that forward thinking is bound to be made up entirely of eunuchs, after 2012.
At least Charlie Rangel is providing comic relief. Faced with thirteen ethics violations, he appeared before the committee conducting the investigation and cried poverty--alleging that he can no longer afford legal representation. I thought crime paid better. I guess Charlie will have to sell his crib in the Dominican. This situation would actually be really funny, if it did not shed so much light on how our elected leaders behave, and the sense of entitlement they possess.
Republicans are also behaving like children. The new mantra is “no compromise.” That is potentially the dumbest Republican slogan since “Mission Accomplished.” As Obama has shown, you cannot effectively govern, and expect to remain in power, without some compromise. However, compromise does not mean that ideals must be sacrificed. As the Rolling Stones so eloquently sang: “You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you might find, you get what you need.” For example, agree to a temporary extension of the Bush tax cuts, and take the issue of making them permanent up at a later date. Unless the Republicans are concerned that they will not remain in control long enough to make the cuts permanent, agreeing to an extension now gives the country what it needs, continued tax relief.
Both Republicans and Democrats are showing a tendency to return to their old palm greasing ways. If either party had truly learned anything from the most recent election, both would be vehemently opposing giving another “one time” $250.00 payment to social security recipients. There is no reason to make the payment. There has been no inflationary pressure in the economy warranting a cost of living increase. To decide to simply make a lump sum payment, to make up for the lack of any cost of living adjustment, is nothing more than an attempt to buy votes with taxpayer money.
There may still be hope for the Republic. The new representatives just arrived on Capitol Hill this week. Give them time to find an office, a crooked lobbyist, a hooker with a heart of gold, and a tavern with a discreet bartender and then, after all of the important stuff has been taken care of, maybe they will actually do something to save the United States.
(Email the independent Russ Purvis at email@example.com)
OBAMA SHOULD NOT BE THE DEMS' CANDIDATE IN 2012
It was Albert Einstein that said: “Insanity is doing the same things again and again expecting different results.” In a few days the Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate will have to decide who will lead the newly minted, minority party in both houses of the Congress. Nancy Pelosi wants to remain in her current role as leader of the defeated in the House. Many Democratic representatives are expressing support for Pelosi. In the Senate, Harry Reid also wants to continue in his role as the leader of the Senate Democrats. If the Democrats allow either Pelosi or Reid to remain a part of the party's leadership, then Democrats will truly show the world that the Democratic Party is insane.
If a new, successful Democratic Party is to rise from the ashes of the last election, neither Pelosi nor Reid can remain in any type of leadership position. Unfortunately, both probably will. What remains of the Democratic Party presence in the House of Representatives, represents the far left of the party. Pelosi is the poster girl for that faction of the party. Most of the moderate Democrats, think Ike Skelton, were defeated for supporting the Pelosi agenda. In the Senate, the clubby atmosphere always seems to outweigh common sense. Reid, having pulled out an unexpected victory, will argue he deserves to hold his position out of respect to the detriment of the party.
Obama should attempt to intervene, if he cares about the future of the Democratic Party. A rare opportunity exists to return to power; however, the window is small. The Republican victory was not based on ideology, but voter anger. The Republican Party appears to have misread the meaning of its victory, and is turning hard to the right, leaving moderate and independent voters behind. Democrats should immediately rebrand their party. Return to the party of Kennedy. Do not be afraid to be strong on defense, limit the federal government and return power to the separate states. Espousing such beliefs is not enough, the Democrats must take action.
The Democrats should immediately do four things: first, make the Bush tax cuts permanent; second, agree to discuss changes to the health care legislation; third, introduce serious deficit reduction legislation, and force the Republicans to object to it, which they will, because it will invariably impact the special interests that the Republicans are in bed with; and finally, recruit someone to run against Obama in the 2012 Democratic primary.
Obama will not support the tax cuts, changes to the health care legislation or deficit reduction because Obama is an uber liberal; and, he does not care about the Democratic Party. Obama cares about Obama. He failed to do anything during the recent election cycle to help the moderate Democrats that he led to slaughter. The alleged master communicator played golf while his party burned. Obama is all about his agenda. He is convinced that he knows best what is good for the nation. He does not care if the public supports his agenda, or if his agenda destroys the Democratic Party he leads. For all of those reasons, Obama should not be the Democratic candidate in 2012.
The Democrats must act, and act decisively. If the public believes that the Democratic Party is nothing but a bunch of liberal nuts in 2012, the party will die. Republicans will control the nation until a new party that represents the fiscally conservative, socially liberal majority is born. Perhaps only then will there truly be change that we can all believe in.
(Independent Russ Purvis can be reached via email to firstname.lastname@example.org)
OBAMA MUST CUT
THE LIBERALS LOOSE
OR HE IS DOOMED
The midterm election results are in. As expected, Republicans gained power. However, the Republican leadership should not be foolish enough to believe that the electorate has provided it a broad mandate. Tuesday's results were truly a vote against the Obama administration, and its left of center agenda. Unfortunately, a large number of good Democrat officeholders were also caught in the crossfire.
Next up: The race for president of the United States. No, it is not too early to begin this discussion. How the Republicans handle the next two years will have more to do with whether the next president is a Democrat or a Republican than any action by Obama.
With power comes the responsibility to use it wisely. The Republicans can no longer simply stand back and blame Obama. The voters are still angry. If the Republicans do not live up to their campaign rhetoric or at least create the illusion that they are living up to all of the overblown hyperbole they created during the election cycle, 2012 will favor the Democrats. If that happens, neither the Republicans nor Obama may win the White House. Hillary Clinton may wind up leading the nation.
Obama is now in a very precarious situation. He faces not only a threat from the outside but also a threat from within. Any rational thinking Democrat must consider Obama to be the architect of the Democratic Party's destruction in 2010. Obama is going to have to work across the aisle with the Republicans if he is to have any hope of convincing the moderate and conservative Democrats that he should remain at the top of the ticket in 2012. If he cannot point to some legislative success that appears to help the economy, such as, at the very least, extending all of the Bush tax cuts, he will face a challenger, probably the aforementioned Hillary Clinton, for the Democratic nomination in 2012.
The liberal side of the Democratic Party already believes that Obama is too pragmatic. Any move toward the middle will cost Obama with the liberal wing. However, the math is simple: The liberal part of the Democratic Party is loud but small. Obama has to cut the liberals loose or he is doomed. But Obama, while somewhat pragmatic, is a liberal. It will be difficult for him to separate himself from his core beliefs, even if it is necessary for his political survival.
The Republicans will only maintain their momentum going into 2012 if they control the agenda. Talk of working with Obama has to be forbidden. The marching orders to all Republicans on Capitol Hill should be that Obama must work with the Republicans. It may sound like a semantic argument, but it is not. As the party controlling the political agenda, Republicans cannot appear to be under the thumb of an unpopular president. But offering solutions is fraught with risk. Decisions that may prove unpopular with the electorate will be required, if the economy is to be saved and deficit spending curbed. Will the Republicans have the stones to make tough decisions, or simply try to duck and cover?
The next legislative session will be telling. Have the politicians heard us? Even if they did hear us - were they listening? If not, 2012 may make 2010 look like the calm before the storm. Buy your rain gear; because if past history provides us any indication of the future, we are in for a Category 5 political hurricane in 2012.
(Email the independent-thinking Russ Purvis at email@example.com)
TO BUY OFFICE
OF STATE AUDITOR
Can a person really buy a statewide office? Hopefully not; however, Republican candidate for state auditor, Tom Schweich, with the help of big money St. Louis donors, is doing his best to purchase the office of Missouri State Auditor.
Susan Montee, the incumbent state auditor, is a certified public accountant. Schweich is not a certified public accountant and is obviously not qualified for the position. Even Montee's Republican opponent from the 2006 election, Sandra Thomas, believes that the state auditor must be a certified public accountant. In a May 28, 2006 article in the News Tribune, Thomas argued that being a CPA should be a requirement to run for state auditor. In the article, Ms. Thomas stated: “You need to have someone who has those qualifications - someone who really understands.”
Schweich was described by my fellow columnist, Republican insider James Thomas, in a July 28, 2010 column, as a candidate “who has never even run for dogcatcher before.” And, as a candidate that “actually thought his first ever political campaign was going to be for the U.S. Senate before he was ‘paid off’ to switch to the state auditor's race.” Thomas went on to state that he “laughed at first, but this candidate is backed by big dollar donors, including a donor who offered Sandra (Thomas) $100,000 in 2006 if she would support human cloning. (She said “No!”).”
Not to be deterred by lack of qualifications, Schweich turned to his big money cronies for help. Even with their support, he almost lost the primary. When it became clear that Schweich might lose, Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder gave Schweich $120,000. St. Louis moneyman Sam Fox came up with another $30,000; and, Schweich's family donated $10,500. In fact, during the final 30 days of the primary campaign, Schweich was only able to raise $13,500 beyond the aforementioned contributions. Having been able to buy the Republican primary, Schweich decided to employ the same strategy in the general election.
Schweich is relying on big money for a simple reason: as his campaign disclosures clearly demonstrate, he is a candidate with very little support within the Republican Party. Since July of 2009, Schweich has raised 1.3 million dollars of which $1.214 million has come from only 247 donors. Of the 1.3 million, 28.3% of the money has come from three sources: Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder ($220,000); Sam and Marilyn Fox ($78,000); and David Humphreys ($70,000).
Contrast Schweich's attempt to purchase an office with Missouri State Auditor Susan Montee's campaign. Since 2006, the Montee campaign has raised just under $800,000. The real difference is how the money has been raised. The Montee campaign has raised money from 1,361 individual contributors, clearly demonstrating that Montee does have the broad-based support that Schweich is lacking.
When it comes down to it, Schweich is an unqualified little man with a big plan--let my rich buddies buy me an office that I can use as a platform for my campaign for the U.S. Senate. Susan Montee is your Missouri State Auditor. She has been demonstrating her qualifications and commitment to the job for the last four years. The choice is clear: On Nov. 2, vote for Susan Montee.
(Independent Russ Purvis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)
ROB SCHAAF WILL
DEFEAT MARTIN RUCKER
If more evidence of the fact that politicians are out of touch is needed, Harry Reid provided it this week, when he compared President Obama to the formerly trapped, Chilean coal miners. He then went on to praise the hard work that Obama has done to get out of the hole. What Reid missed is the fact that Reid, Obama, and their cronies are the ones responsible for our economic cave in. The voters have not forgotten. Reid is on the cusp of losing his bid for reelection. What about the races closer to home? It is time for my election year predictions.
In the race to replace Kit Bond, Roy Blunt will prevail. Depending on the poll, he is six to 10 points up. Given the mood of the country, the majority of independent and otherwise undecided voters will break his way. This race, barring a miracle, is over.
Sam Graves will be reelected in another landslide. As I have previously stated, Graves will be safe as long as Pelosi holds the speaker's gavel.
Susan Montee will be reelected as Missouri State Auditor. Susan has done a fabulous job during her first term. Her audits have been fair, and she has never acted in a partisan manner. Additionally, her opponent is not qualified for the job. Susan is a certified public accountant. Her opponent is the type of political hack that voters are trying to get rid of, not elect.
In the race to represent the 34th District in the Missouri Senate, it looks like Rob Schaaf will beat Martin Rucker. At the end of the day, the Republican tidal wave will just be too much for Rucker.
Jason Grill will hold on to the 32nd District representative seat. The race will be close. However, Jason has positioned himself well, and campaigned very hard. His opponent, although well financed, and running in a Republican year, will come up short.
In the race for the 30th District, to replace term limited Jason Brown, who is running for Platte County Presiding Commissioner, Lexi Norris has the edge and will add the seat to the Democratic Party column. Norris is a native of Weston with strong ties to the community. She will be a welcome addition to the Missouri House of Representatives.
In the 29th District Bill Caldwell will be the next representative. Caldwell has a long history of working in the community and will bring a wealth of knowledge to the seat.
Jason Brown will be the next Platte County Presiding Commissioner; despite the fact that he recently sent out a campaign mailer praising the spendthrift habits of Betty Knight. We can only hope that Brown will be a better steward of the Platte County's resources than Knight.
Siobhann Williams faces a tough battle in her campaign to be re-elected as county auditor; however, she will prevail. This is another race that requires an individual with a unique skill set. The auditor should be a certified public accountant. Williams is. Her opponent is not.
Sandy Krohne will be elected as the Platte County Clerk. She has done a good job while in office and has strong community support. Even in an election year that is trending Republican, Sandy will come out on top.
Eric Zahnd is running unopposed for prosecutor and Gloria Boyer is unopposed in her reelection bid for recorder of deeds.
Platte Countians will be electing a new collector this November. Republican Sheila Palmer will win this race.
Overall, Republicans will gain some ground this cycle. However, if all three of the state representative races turn out as predicted, Platte County will be represented by three Democrats for the first time in a very long time.
TREATMENT OF DOGS
A few months ago, I let all of you know that based on its opposition to a primary ballot measure attempting to place puppy mill legislation on the November, 2010, ballot, the Missouri Farm Bureau hates puppies. Fortunately, the ballot measure, now known as Proposition “B,” survived the primary and will be appearing on the November ballot. The Missouri Farm Bureau still hates puppies. Apparently, a few Tea Party members and a few animal breeders also oppose Proposition “B.” They must also hate puppies. Obviously, such people are heartless freaks of nature, better suited to being confined to wire cages, like the puppies they so despise, than representing the interests of normal, animal loving humans. Maybe I am being a little melodramatic, but not by much.
Proposition “B” is good piece of legislation, aimed to help cure a disease that is running rampant in Missouri: puppy mills. According to the Humane Society of the United States, (HSUS) Missouri accounts for over a third of the puppy production in this country. The HSUS has stated that Proposition “B” will “impose standards that dogs must be fed and watered, protected from extremes of heat and cold, housed in enclosures other than stacked wire cages, provided with space for exercise, and guaranteed at least one annual check-up from a licensed veterinarian. The measure would not apply to any commercial breeder with 10 or fewer reproductively intact animals, and it would not allow a single dog breeding operation to have more than 50 intact animals--which would still allow a single operator to sell upwards of 200 dogs a year.”
The arguments against puppy mills all revolve around economics or fear mongering. Breeders that oppose Proposition “B” argue that it will lead to increased costs and put breeders out of business. The argument is without any merit. Most decent breeders are already in compliance with most of the proposed changes in the law. The expense of becoming compliant can be passed on to the consumer. Breeders that do not wish to come into compliance with the proposed law should leave the business.
Missouri Farm Bureau, and a few Tea Partiers, argue that this legislation is the first step toward removing meat from our tables and banning domestic animal ownership. The argument is stupid. That it has even been asserted demonstrates how dumb those that have stated it believe voters to be. The fact is that this argument is really an attempt to shoot the messenger-- the Humane Society of the United States. The Missouri Farm Bureau so dislikes the HSUS that no matter how much merit the legislation has, the Missouri Farm Bureau opposes it because the HSUS supports it.
I believe that most of you are like me--good hearted puppy lovers. We are people that believe the way we treat the least among us, including animals, is a true reflection of our character. If you are considering getting a dog, I encourage you to skip breeders all together. Your local animal shelter has a wide variety of dogs. Every age, shape, size and breed imaginable is available. In fact, I adopted another dog last weekend. Even if you do not want a dog of your own, do what you can to help guarantee the humane treatment of all dogs--VOTE YES ON PROPOSITION “B.”
(Russ Purvis is a former Democrat, now Independent, who tells it as he sees it every week in your Landmark. Email him at email@example.com)
PROOF THAT LIFE’S
Earlier this month, I thought of my father. You may have, too--though you probably did not know it. The third Friday of September each year is National POW/MIA Recognition Day. Many Missourians paused that day to pay tribute and respect to those men and women who have been designated Prisoners of War and Missing in Action. My father was an aviator reported lost over Southeast Asia in 1965.
Dad was a career Marine, the spit-and-polish kind that they used as recruiters. We were living in Springfield when he put in for an overseas assignment. It was the 1960s and the war in Vietnam was occupying the United States military, the same way Iraq and Afghanistan have for the past decade.
My mom and siblings had a routine for my dad's occasional deployments: we moved to St. Joseph to be closer to my dad's family. Their support made life easier for us. And that's where we were living when the military told us that my father's plane, a re-fueling jet, was missing.
He wasn't supposed to be on that mission. Another navigator left a letter at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial War saying that my dad had taken his place at the last minute--a favor. Somebody who had been to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Collection maintained by the National Park Service sent me a copy of what he wrote.
For years, I thought my father was coming back. It was a family tenet that he was. But, he never did. We lived in hope, then in resignation. The federal government was generally unresponsive; the people in St. Joe were wonderful. Sometime during high school, I decided that he wasn't coming home. My mother never remarried.
(Years later, I had the chance to review the file on my father's status. It was a thick, thick file, but inside its covers was a single bare page of known facts sandwiched into the hundreds of letters that my grandmother had sent the Marines, the Pentagon, the White House, and every elected official from Missouri asking for information--and the replies, form letters and heartfelt notes, that she had received back.)
My life after my father was lost taught me many lessons. Faith is stronger than fear. Knowing is better than not knowing. Family is everything. Government can help--and hurt. St. Joseph, Missouri, is the best place in the world.
I have a box full of jewelry, gifts from my family and things that I fancied for myself over the years. All have stories, though few of them are as satisfying as the one that belongs to an engraved copper bracelet. I was the speaker at a POW/MIA event a few years ago and a man came up to me afterward. From his own wrist, he removed a POW/MIA remembrance bracelet, one of 5,000,000 or so copper and nickel ones that Americans once wore. He said he had traded his original bracelet for it years and years ago, because it had a Missouri connection. Engraved on it were my father's name, rank, and date of loss. He had not known it was my father's inscription until he heard me speak.
Life is unexpected, isn't it?
(Susan Montee is your Missouri State Auditor who fills in for Russ Purvis for The Landmark when Russ is away. Our thanks)
REPUBLICANS SHOULD BE SUPPORTING O'DONNELL, NOT TEARING HER DOWN
We are a month away from Halloween, and Tea Party candidate Christine O'Donnell has already selected her costume; and she does not plan to trick or treat as a slutty witch that opposes masturbation, or as a come hither devil worshiper that picnics on satanic alters. This year, Christine O'Donnell plans to dress up as the next United States Senator from Delaware. In early November she plans to turn the costume into reality--maybe with a little help from a few special spells, some satanic intervention and a healthy dose of voter turnout.
The fact that O'Donnell is still in the race, after easily dispatching the Republican Party's hand picked candidate, Mike Castle, has Republican Party leadership acting like a weird combination of a villain in a Scooby Doo episode and the down on their luck, singing hillbillies on Hee Haw. The Republican view of the Tea Party in general, and Christine O'Donnell in particular, is simple: The Republicans believe that they would have succeeded with their plan to retake the U.S. Senate, if it weren't for those “meddling Tea Partiers.”Since O'Donnell's victory, the Republicans have been singing/screaming at the top of their lungs: “If it weren't for bad luck I'd have no luck at all, gloom, despair and agony on me!”
Rather than view the Tea Party as an asset, the Republicans, because they fear what they do not know (in this case millions of individuals that actually possess true, fiscally conservative principles), attempted to destroy O'Donnell in the primary. Delaware Republican Party chairman Tom Ross said that O'Donnell was “not a viable candidate for any office in the state of Delaware. He went on to say that "she could not be elected dog catcher.” After O'Donnell won the primary, Republicans, apparently temporarily too stupid to realize that she now represents the only path open to a Republican pick-up of the Delaware senate seat, continued to assault her.
Following O'Donnell's primary victory, Karl Rove congratulated her by stating: "One thing that O'Donnell is now going to have to answer in the general election that she didn't in the primary is her own checkered background. There were a lot of nutty things she has been saying that don't add up," Rove added. "Why did she mislead voters about her college education? How come it took nearly two decades to pay her college bills so she could get her college degree? How did she make a living?" To make matters worse, O'Donnell's primary opponent, Mike Castle, has refused to endorse O'Donnell. If O'Donnell loses in November, the Republican Party will certainly have to share the blame.
The Republicans are truly acting stupid. O'Donnell now carries the Republican banner in Delaware. The Republican Party should do everything in its power to support her candidacy. Yes, she does have some interesting (crackpot) social views. But, in the big scheme of things, she is no crazier that Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, or a whole host of other wingnuts that the Republican Party has been happy to call its own. Besides, social issues will not carry the day in this election. It is about the economy, and opposing the Obama agenda. If that is enough to win in other Democratic strongholds, surely it can work in Delaware.
Quite frankly, the Democrats should hold this seat. But, being Democrats, defeat can always be snatched from the jaws of victory. In this case defeat is spelled B-I-D-E-N. Apparently, the Democratic brain trust believes that it is a good idea to send the vice- president to Delaware to help Democratic candidate Chris Coons. Of course, it makes perfect sense. There is no better way to gin up support for a Democratic candidate, in a Republican leaning election year, than to remind all of the Democratic candidate's potential supporters exactly why they are disenchanted with the Democratic Party.
I predict that years from now, the Delaware campaign will be considered a case study in political stupidity.
(Email Russ at firstname.lastname@example.org)
AMERICANS WON'T FALL FOR THE INTELLECTUAL CLASS WARFARE
Obama now favors continuing the Bush tax cuts. Before you get too excited, understand that he really does not favor any such action. Obama and the rest of the Democrats are riding the sharp edge of the knife toward a blood bath in November. The tax proposal is not only too little, too late; it is also part of a larger class warfare campaign strategy.
Earlier this summer, the Democrats thought that by simply stating that the economy was in recovery, they would turn the tide, and avoid huge losses in November. The public did not buy into the storyline. Democrats have been forced to retool their message.
The attempt to paint all Republican and Tea Party candidates as radicals who are hell bent on turning the country to some type of racist, homophobic, fascist state is pure, intellectual class warfare. It simply attempts to spin the conservative, small government message into a toothless redneck versus everyone else debate.
While the argument may appeal to left leaning elitists, the problem facing Obama and the Democrats is that the majority of Americans do not fit into the left leaning elitist category. The majority of Americans favor smaller government. The majority of Americans believe in providing a hand up, not a hand out. The majority of Americans will not be fooled by the spin.
Obama's tax proposal, extending, but not making permanent, the Bush tax cuts for those making less than $250,000 per year, is nothing more than economic class warfare. For centuries, politicians have attempted to pit the “haves” against the “have nots,” all for political gain.
The Obama political machine, in search of an issue, is risking alienating a part of its big government, tax-loving base in a blatant attempt to appeal to Americans feeling the economic pinch. Obama's offer of a temporary extension of the Bush tax cuts for those earning less than $250,000 obviously sounds good to everyone who will not face a tax increase next year. But failing to make the tax cuts applicable to everyone, and failing to make the tax cuts permanent, is a political calculation that cannot be allowed to stand.
Obama has argued that anyone with a taxable income in excess of $250,000 can afford the tax increase. What he fails to take into account is small business. Small businesses make up the majority of this nation's economy and employ a majority of Americans. Many small businesses make more than $250,000 per year. If a small business is forced to pay higher taxes it will either have to raise its prices or fire one or more employees. Either way, Americans will suffer.
Obama has also argued that the government cannot afford to allow the tax cuts for those making more than $250,000 to become permanent, or to even be extended for a short period of time. The argument only has merit if you believe that government cannot be forced to spend less. Perhaps this issue, the government's inability to “afford” a tax cut, more than any other, demonstrates the need for a change in leadership. When the ruling class gets to the point that it cannot even comprehend spending less money, rather than taking in more, that ruling class must be removed from power. If not removed, it will surely only destroy all of those it allegedly represents. They really do think you are stupid. Vote early, vote often and prove you are not.
(Contact Russ Purvis, former conservative Democrat now conservative Independent, at email@example.com)
THE GOVERNMENT THINKS YOU'RE STUPID
A reader recently sent me an e-mail, wherein he suggested that I end every column with the following statement: "The government thinks you're stupid." Initially, I chuckled. Then I thought about it--the government really does think we are all stupid.
The courtroom war against the State of Arizona is a perfect example of the federal government's belief that the average citizen is a mental midget. The Justice Department has filed three separate lawsuits involving the State of Arizona: one against the State of Arizona relating to its illegal alien deportation law; a second against Maricopa County, AZ, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, alleging that the sheriff has failed to cooperate with a federal “investigation,” relating to Arpaio's efforts to deport illegal aliens; and, finally, the Justice Department is suing Maricopa Community Colleges for being audacious enough to request a green card as proof of legal status in the country.
At the State Department, a human-rights report has been provided to the United Nations Human Rights Council, taking issue with the Arizona immigration law, and raising the question of whether the law creates human rights violations. The law in question essentially restates existing federal law, and seeks to help with enforcement. So is the State Department actually stating that the federal government is a human rights abuser? Keep in mind that this is the same State Department that has consistently refused to take China to task over human rights violations.
If you really believe that the federal government's battle with Arizona is really about immigration, you probably are stupid. The federal attack on Arizona is all about federal power. Arizona has dared to challenge the great and all knowing federal bureaucracy. If the federal government was actually doing its job, the separate states would not be forced to respond to the problem.
By focusing on Arizona, the government is sending a clear message to the states: fall in line, or get your head kicked in. The government hopes that the general population will fall for the ruse that Arizona is anti-immigrant, and that the federal government cares about civil rights. What we are really seeing is a test case.
The impact of the government's health care takeover legislation has just begun. Many states have decided to challenge the legislation. If the Justice Department, the State Department and the Executive Branch, convince Arizona to capitulate voluntarily to avoid continued harassment, you can bet that the same strategy will be utilized against any state, county, or local jurisdiction that dares question the implementation of the federal health care legislation.
In the immortal lyrics of Warren Zevon, there is “disorder in the house. There's a flaw in the system. And the fly in the ointment's gonna bring the whole thing down.”
Your vote in November will help bring order back to the house. With regard to the “fly in the ointment,” we must force our elected leaders to kill off the bureaucrats that are buzzing overhead by reducing the size and scope of government. All that is left is hope; and the knowledge that the government thinks you're stupid.
(Email Russ at firstname.lastname@example.org)
NORTHLAND NEEDS TO BE PAYING ATTENTION TO KANSAS CITY REDISTRICTING
The City of Kansas City, Missouri: If you live north of 112th Street, in Platte County, you probably give as little thought to the inner workings of KCMO as possible. However, there is an issue that the city is now attempting to bungle, that does have a direct impact on every citizen of Platte County, Missouri: redistricting.
Like Many cities, KCMO has adopted a city charter. The charter dictates many of the aspects of how the city must operate. Redistricting of city council seats is governed by the charter. In Kansas City, MO, redistricting is mandated following every two election cycles. That means that council seats must be redrawn before the April, 2011, citywide elections. The fly in this ointment is the fact that the final 2010 census results will not be available until after the April 2011 election cycle. However, reliable census estimates are available, and have been provided.
By all accounts, the Northland, both the Clay and Platte County parts of greater Kansas City, have experienced dramatic growth since the last redistricting, and this area of Kansas City is entitled, yes, I did use the “e” word, to greater representation. Currently, the Northland has only two of the six council districts. And if redistricting does not take place prior to the April election, residents of the Northland will be disenfranchised. Without adequate representation, the Northland will continue to be generally ignored, as it has been since the City of Kansas City, MO annexed the area, and promptly forgot that any part of it, with the exception of the narrow ribbon of highway that leads to the airport, exists.
If you believe that I am overstating the case, simply drive around the northern most reaches of Kansas City. What will stand out most is what does not exist. The city has consistently lied, delayed, or simply refused to bring basic infrastructure to the Northland. But the Northland can no longer be ignored. Despite the city's neglect, it is quickly becoming the economic engine that runs Kansas City. Greater commercial and residential development will benefit the entire county. But, if redistricting is delayed, development will continue to be stymied by the lack of infrastructure, due to the lack of adequate representation to force city action.
Those that have controlled the city for too long, let us simply call them the “Southies,” do not wish to cede power. The greatest irony of all is the Southies’ argument, that if redistricting occurs before the April elections, they will be disenfranchised; when, in fact, the Southies, by attempting to delay redistricting, are blatantly embracing the disenfranchisement of the fastest growing part of Kansas City.
The Southies voted 8-5 in support of a proposed ballot issue, placing a charter change before the voters in November that would, in effect, disenfranchise the Northland by delaying redistricting until after the April 2011 elections. Luckily, Mayor Funkhouser vetoed the measure. Not to be dissuaded, the Southies have vowed to override the veto. Since the time for placing issues on the November ballot has passed, the Southies will also have to obtain a court order to put the issue on the ballot.
If the issue does wind up on the ballot, we Northlanders have three choices: mount an aggressive counter campaign and turn out and vote down the proposal; or, focus our energies on seceding from the City of Kansas City, Missouri; or, vote the issue down and then secede. I know seceding might sound radical; however, it is possible, and quite frankly, makes the most economic sense to the Northland, and Platte County, over the long term. I, for one, am up for that fight. Are you?
(Russ Purvis is an Independent who can be reached at email@example.com)
WE ARE NOW IN THE SILLY SEASON FOR POLITICS
In politics there are five seasons - spring, summer, fall, winter, and the silly season. In non-election years, the silly season generally runs from late August to early October. During election years it begins in early August, and it ends on the day after the elections. We are now in the silly season.
Locally signs of the season abound. In Kansas City, Missouri, something as pedestrian as a law firm deciding to build a new building, remain in Kansas City, Missouri, and continue to employ several hundred people in the city has turned into a political firestorm. The kindling for the firestorm is the fact that the building will be located on the Country Club Plaza. A few Plaza purists, who, in all likelihood, know little of the original Plaza history or J.C. Nichols' views on development, are complaining that the building's design is all wrong for the area. The Kansas City Star, finding little else to be newsworthy, provided the wind that has turned the matter into a little, political firestorm. For example: Tuesday's Star's, above the fold, large font headline: “'Save that tower' cry may force new design.”
It is interesting that the Star has decided that this property rights issue is worthy of its breathless reporting. The Plaza is private property. It does not have state or federal historic site status. Short of a zoning issue, there is little to prevent old buildings from being razed and the new one from being built. Yet the Star drones on about it; in stark contrast to its coverage of the mosque being proposed at Ground Zero.Essentially the same property rights are at stake. Why no big outcry from the Star about the mosque and its impact on the ground zero site?
In state politics, Republicans went to the polls on August 3rd, and decided that Rob Schaaf should be the Republican candidate for the state senate seat being vacated by Charlie Shields. Silly is a tame word to use to describe that decision. A self-described slave, hopefully if elected Schaaf will be able to throw off his shackles and provide some leadership. Don't bet on it. This doctor-turned-insurance-man has a lot on his plate; not the least of which is first having to beat Democrat Martin Rucker. In a normal election year, I would predict Rucker to win by 10. This year it is too close to call.
In national politics, Democrat Robin Carnahan is now advocating allowing the Bush tax cuts to remain in place. Carnahan's recent flip on the issue has to be causing indigestion within the Democratic Party. Carnahan defended her new stance last week at the Missouri State Fair, where she stated: "We're still in the midst of a downturn in the economy, so we need to keep those tax cuts in place - all of them."
Carnahan blames the economic downturn on the policies that her opponent, Republican Roy Blunt, supported as a congressman during the Bush years. The problem for Carnahan is that she is trying to have it both ways. On the one hand, she is now supporting the Bush tax cuts which Blunt supported during the Bush years, while on the other, she is attempting to argue that those same policies caused the current economic mess. Reading the tea leaves, it is obvious that Carnahan believes that her campaign is in trouble.
Ignore the silliness if you can. If you find yourself being drawn in, do not forget that it is simply political theater. At the end of the season, all you can do is vote early, vote often, and hope for the best.
(Russ Purvis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)
GERMANY MAY HOLD THE ANSWER TO U.S. ECONOMIC PROBLEMS
Germany and Mexico may have answers to two major issues that our own government cannot seem to figure out. Germany has adopted a fiscal policy that has its economy back on course. Mexico's former president Vicente Fox is advocating the legalization of drugs, an act that could curb violence in Mexico, and if adopted in the United States, could get government out of one more aspect of its citizens' lives while increasing treasury revenue.
It is obvious to anyone with any sense that the Obama administration's spend, spend, spend, method of dealing with the current economic crisis has been inept. On the other hand, Germany decided to take the road less traveled, and is now well ahead of the United States and the rest of Europe on the road to economic recovery.
Last year, the German Parliament enacted a law requiring that the country limit its debt load to 0.35% of GDP by 2016. In response to the new law, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, earlier this year, introduced a major austerity package. In typical fashion, those that benefit from government largess howled in protest. However, Merkel has held firm, stating: “Everything is up for discussion.” “Everything” includes cutting up to 10,000 federal jobs, but does not include tax increases.
Imagine if our leaders would agree to actually peg the percentage of allowable government debt to GDP, decrease the size of government and not raise taxes. The United States, like Germany would be on the road to recovery. If you doubt that Germany is on the right road, consider this: Germany's economy experienced its largest quarterly growth since reunification, 2.2%, during the second quarter of 2010. Austerity works. Unless and until the United States adopts a similar philosophy, our economy will continue to underperform.
Mexico is a mess. Drugs are a major reason that the mess is so bad. Illegal drugs have corrupted the entire government. The country is little more than a banana republic. Legalizing drugs would eliminate much of the violence and corruption. The government could then tax the drugs in the same way that alcohol and tobacco are taxed and use the money to stabilize the country. The United States should consider taking the same action.
Before you scream in protest, consider this: Drug laws, at their core, are but another infringement on an individual's civil liberties. Why should the government have the right to tell any one of its citizens what he or she can ingest? If the government wants to enact laws that punish those that use drugs and then engage in acts that impact the liberties of another, much like the government handles alcohol offenses, that is a different matter. If you truly believe in a limited government and individual freedom, then you have to believe that government should not be engaged in a battle over what any individual might want to eat, drink or smoke.
The alleged “War on Drugs” has been an abject failure. Billions have been wasted in an effort to prevent people from engaging in what may be a stupid act. But as Americans, are we not free to be stupid? Legalize drugs, tax them and use the money to pay down the deficit. At the same time, adopt the German austerity model and the economy will be back on track very shortly. Radical times require radical action.
(Russ Purvis is a former Democrat, now Independent, who can be reached at email@example.com)
BUREAUCRACY SO ENTRENCHED IT THINKS IT'S ABOVE THE LAW
“This memorandum offers administrative relief options to promote family unity, foster economic growth, achieve significant process improvements and reduce the threat of removal for certain individuals present in the United States without authorization. It includes recommendations regarding implementation timeframes and required resources.” U.S. Department of Homeland Security Memorandum- Subject: Administrative Alternatives to Comprehensive Immigration Reform.
Take a second, and read again the quote set forth above. There is no doubt that the federal bureaucrats are working against us. The Department of Homeland Security is actively investigating ways to bypass immigration laws to allow illegal aliens to remain in the United States. The sheer audacity of the memo clearly demonstrates the fact that the Department of Homeland Security has absolutely no respect for the rule of law. Today it is illegal aliens; tomorrow it could be your most basic individual freedoms.
Of course Obama's administration has tried to distance itself from the memo since it was leaked to the press last week. The administration's belief that the American people will be gullible enough to believe that the Department of Homeland Security decided freelance on the issue of illegal immigration would be comical, if it was not a clear indication of how stupid Obama's people believe the average American happens to be.
On the one hand, Obama sues the State of Arizona for simply seeking to help enforce existing federal law; while at the same time the administration works to circumvent the law of the land by bureaucratic fiat. Is there any wonder that fewer and fewer average Americans trust the federal government? Obama is a president, not a king. Apparently, if he was ever aware of that fact, it has slipped his mind.
The memo in question is incredible. It outlines over fifteen separate ways to circumvent our immigration statutes to allow illegals to remain indefinitely in the United States - without fear of deportation. The memo boils down to the selective use of delay (deferred action in the vocabulary of Homeland Security), willful ignorance and creative statutory construction, to reach the stated goal of reducing the “threat of removal” for illegals. You can read the memo in its entirety at http://www2.nationalreview.com/memo_UCIS_072910.html
The great irony is that the Department of Homeland Security itself appears ready to break the law in order to allow lawbreakers to remain in the country.
Fortunately, some politicians have caught wind of the Department of Homeland Security's plans and are demanding answers. Referring to the memo as a possible attempt at “backdoor amnesty,” Senators Orrin Hatch of Utah and Pat Roberts of Kansas, among others, have demanded that the Senate Judiciary Committee hold a hearing on this matter. Senator Mike Crapo of Idaho has, likewise, demanded that the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee schedule hearings. Hearings should occur immediately. Unfortunately, so far no hearings have been scheduled. As citizens, we should all be offended that the bureaucracy has become so entrenched and arrogant as to believe that it is above the law.
Call your elected representatives and demand that they hold hearings. As a citizen it is not only your duty, but also your right. Fail to exercise your right to hold government accountable, and rest assured that the Department of Homeland Security will eventually take that right away, and give it to someone who broke the law to get here.
(Russ Purvis, Independent, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)
WATCH OUT FOR THE ANGRY WHITE MAN!
Watch out for the angry white man! The angry white man is the bogeyman that hides under the bed of every Democrat incumbent that feels he or she may be on the verge of being booted from office.
To Democrats, the angry white man represents all that is wrong with the country. By God, we should know our place. If all of us angry white men would sit down, shut up, give up our guns and memorize the lyrics to Give Peace a Chance, the United States would be a much better place. After all, we are just a bunch of knuckle dragging racists. We must be, given the fact that the default argument of anyone disagreeing with the political views of a white man, is to call the white guy a racist. Surely, no one would unfairly make such an allegation against a fellow citizen.
After all, what have all of us angry white males contributed to society? It is not like we founded the damn country. Any contributions that we claim to have made were obviously possible only due to our abuse of others. We are simply bastards.
But, we are the bastards that can change the political makeup of Washington, D.C. We are the bastards that can put the brakes on the headlong race toward socialism that is occurring in the United States. We are the bastards that can restore true meaning to the phrase “democratic republic.”
White males constitute the second largest group of voters. White women are the largest group. However, white women tend to split their vote almost equally among liberals and conservatives. White men tend to lean heavily toward a conservative, small government view. Republicans are counting on white men to deliver the House and Senate in November. The white male vote may very well cause such an upheaval in the status quo. However, Republicans must then deliver on their promise of a smaller, constitutionally respectful government.
What both parties do not seem to realize is that angry white men have lost faith in both political parties because both parties lie, cheat and steal with the same level of skill; and, both do so with impunity. What angry white men most desire is for our elected leaders to put the country first, and party affiliation and the desire to be reelected a distant second.
Putting the country first involves all of the following: respecting the limits imposed on the federal government by the Constitution; securing the borders; reducing the deficit; reducing taxes; and, generally staying out of our personal lives. Failure on the part of either party to address these basic concerns must lead to radical change. Political wisdom, now there is an oxymoron, suggests that a third party never amounts to anything more than a spoiler. But that is because angry white men, as a group, have not in recent history, set their mind to really altering the political landscape in such a way.
The November election may change the power structure in Washington D.C., but angry white men, with a little help from our friends, will still be the bastards that have to save the nation.
(Email former Democrat Russ Purvis at email@example.com)
VOTE YES ON PROPOSITION C
The Aug. 3 primary is less than a week away. Whether you consider yourself a Republican, a Democrat or an Independent, you will have an opportunity to send a message to the federal government by supporting Proposition C. If Proposition C passes, Missouri will become the first state to say no to the jackboot of injustice commonly known as Obamacare.
The relevant language of Proposition C is quite straightforward: “Deny the government authority to penalize citizens for refusing to purchase private health insurance or infringe upon the right to offer or accept direct payment for lawful healthcare services.” The proposition is a direct response to Obamacare's mandate that everyone carry health insurance or be subject to a fine of $750. Essentially, this provision of Obamacare, if allowed to stand, kicks the barn door open and sets a precedent for allowing the federal government to mandate that each of us purchase anything that it decides we need to buy.
Proponents of this bit of injustice argue that it is constitutional under the wide umbrella of the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution. The argument is that an individual's failure to purchase healthcare insurance will have an impact on the economy because fewer people purchasing coverage shrinks the insurance pool, thereby increasing the risk of payment for healthcare services with fewer dollars to cover the risk.
For decades the Supreme Court did allow the Commerce Clause to almost swallow the Constitution; however, in State v. Lopez, a case centering around the federal Gun Free Schools Act, the Supreme Court rejected the argument that the federal government could legislate control over public schools under the Commerce Clause. The Supreme Court found for such action to be constitutional, the court would “have to pile inference upon inference in a manner that would bid fair to convert congressional authority under the Commerce Clause to a general police power of the sort retained by the States.” The same argument holds true for forcing individuals to purchase insurance under Obamacare.
Some proponents argue that requiring health insurance is no different than requiring auto insurance. That argument is simply wrong on its face. Auto insurance is a requirement that is placed upon citizens by the states. States, pursuant to their police power, have the right to do this. The federal government has no specific constitutional authority to take any action not set forth in the Constitution. For that reason, automobile insurance is generally subject to state control. Furthermore, operating an automobile results in a voluntary act that places the general public at risk. If you do not drive, you do not need insurance. However, if you do drive, you create a risk to the general public. State government has the right to attempt to shield the public from that risk.
The Republican Party and the Libertarian Party both support the passage of Proposition C. The Democratic Party has taken no position. The Kansas City Star opposes Proposition C which should tell you all you need to know about why it should pass. At its core, this is not an issue about insurance. It is an issue about personal freedom. No government should be able mandate that you purchase something because the government believes that it is supposedly good for you as an individual. Stand up and be counted. VOTE YES ON PROPOSITION C.
(Email Russ Purvis at firstname.lastname@example.org)
DEMOCRATS TRYING TO USE UNEMPLOYMENT AS A WEDGE ISSUE
President Obama, in an address from the Rose Garden on Monday, said “it's time to do what's right, not for the next election, but for the middle class.” He is correct; however, his version of what is right is completely wrong.
Obama is using his bully pulpit to, once again, push for an extension of unemployment benefits. The extension will cost $34 billion, and if Obama gets his way, the cost of the extension will be placed on the United States' already maxed out credit card. With the appointment of a successor to the seat of the recently deceased, West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd, Obama and the Democrats have enough votes to pass the extension.
Obama is not wrong for pushing for an extension of unemployment benefits. In fact, the majority of Americans agree with the concept. More money in the pockets of Americans, rather than the government, like a tax cut, will spur economic growth. However, Obama is wrong in insisting that the cost be added to the national debt. Every politician, Obama included, has given lip service to the idea of pay as you go, with regard to spending legislation. With a few exceptions, the Republicans that are standing in opposition to the extension are doing so only because it adds to the deficit.
Rather than address this issue head on, and make the spending cuts necessary to create a revenue neutral extension package, the Democrats, not the Republicans, have decided to make this a political issue. Had the Democrats simply agreed to cut less important spending, to offset the cost of the unemployment benefits extension, the legislation would have passed weeks ago. Instead, being behind in the polls, and searching for something to use against the Republicans in November, the Democrats, showing absolutely no concern for the impact of their actions on the average, unemployed American, chose to create a wedge issue.
This fall, Democrats around the nation will be running ads accusing Republicans of being out of touch with the average American, while at the same time using the unemployment benefits extension as an example of the “fact” that only Democrats are the champion of every day Americans. Of course, that will be a lie. However, the Democrats are banking on every day Americans being too stupid catch on. he Democrats take such action at their peril.
Americans are smart enough to know a lie when they hear it. They are also smart enough to know that the unemployment benefits extension is a band aid, treating a symptom and not the disease. The main reason that unemployment remains so high is that businesses are simply not hiring. They are not hiring because the environment is such that they are afraid to do anything. Your average business is facing a tax increase in 2011, due to the fact that the Democrats are allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire. Businesses are also concerned about the impact of the socialized medicine bill and how much it is going to increase fixed costs; and with governmental interference in every aspect of the private sector.
Until the Democrats get serious about getting the economy moving, rather than simply expanding the role of the federal government, unemployment will remain high and it is a safe bet that there will be another request for a longer extension of unemployment benefits. By that time, however, the Democrats will no longer control the House and Senate and, hopefully, the next extension will be revenue neutral.
(Former Democrat Russ Purvis can be reached at email@example.com)
DRASTIC REDUCTION IN THE SIZE OF GOVERNMENT IS NEEDED
As I stated in last week's column, Americans, politicians included, must start putting America first. Getting out of Iran and Afghanistan, and making the economy the nation's first priority, constitute only two steps forward along the long road to truly realizing the ideal of putting America first. Step three involves a drastic reduction in the size and scope of the federal government.
In theory, this should be an easy thing to do. Politically, it will be difficult. Politicians, by their very nature, do not want to do anything that might cost them a vote. This self-centered attitude, combined with the attitude held by many Americans, that the country owes them something, is largely responsible for the condition the United States now finds itself in. However, if the country is going to be successful going forward, the alphabet soup of administrative agencies and governmental departments that make up the federal government must be given a top down review, and in most instances disbanded.
The IRS is the perfect place to begin. I know it is an easy target, but consider this: If the nation instituted a simple flat tax system, with no deductions, the role of the IRS would be that of a collection agent attempting to collect from delinquent taxpayers. That role could easily be delegated to a private contractor working for a percentage of the delinquent taxes collected.
Move on to the Department of Agriculture. Eliminate the farm subsidy program and the Department of Agriculture will serve no purpose that private industry cannot handle better, and more efficiently.
Eliminate the Social Security Administration. Allow anyone that wants to, to opt out of the system now, with the understanding that any benefits earned will be forfeited and, once a person opts out, he or she cannot opt back in. Require every person that remains in the system to set up a private investment account. The government is stealing the money now, at least allow individuals to play the market; the risk is less and the potential reward greater. Finally, going forward, do away with all forms of disability payments paid by the Social Security Administration.
Almost every department and agency is really nothing more than a bureaucratic shell seeking a purpose to validate its needless existence. Cut them all down to size and let freedom reign.
America first also requires a fourth step: energy independence. Nuclear power must be embraced. It is not that dangerous, is readily available and extremely efficient. All bans on drilling for oil should also be lifted. Abandon the idiotic cap and tax idea that is being pushed by Obama. Finally, offer tax incentives and research grants to individuals and companies that are working to develop alternative energy resources.
Education is the fifth step. Every man woman and child in this country must be able to communicate using the English language, do basic math, have an understanding of scientific theory and have an understanding of this nation's history. If schools wish to teach other subjects, so be it. However, there should be a rigorous, standardized, core curriculum. If America is to maintain its position in the world, its citizens must be competitive in math and science and able to communicate in English, the international language. History is equally important. No American should ever forget this country's greatness and the struggle to attain and preserve it.
The proposals that I have made are not revolutionary. Unfortunately, a revolution may be required to enact even a part of them.
(Russ Purvis, formerly a Democrat, is a self-declared independent who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)
IT'S TIME FOR AMERICA TO EXERT ITS WILL ON THE REST OF THE WORLD
Animals can be categorized as predators or as prey. Nations can be categorized the same way. It is time that the United States stop acting like prey, and return to its roots as a predator. The United States became a world power, not by acting like a timid rabbit, but by being a powerful hunter, willing to exert its will on the world around it.
It is time for America to look inward and put America first, last and foremost! We can no longer allow our country to be used as a pawn/punching bag on the international stage. We can also no longer allow international business interests to do the same.
First, get out of Iraq and get out of Afghanistan. Neither serves enough of a strategic military purpose to warrant the billions that are being spent to keep troops on the ground. Drones and missiles can certainly be used to kill anyone that needs killing. If both countries wind up with terrible rulers, that will be sad; however, if America stepped in every time something sad occurred, this nation would have failed long ago. It may not be popular with the rest of the world, but the United States can no longer afford to be the world's policeman.
Second, make the economy the one and only priority. Cancel the alleged “stimulus” and use a carrot and stick approach. The first carrot should be not only allowing the Bush tax cuts, set to expire, to remain in effect, but to cut individual taxes by at least another five to ten percent. Individuals will immediately have more disposable income to pump into the economy.
The second carrot should be the elimination of corporate income taxes. If the United States eliminated taxes on corporate profit, international businesses would rush to headquarter in the United States, creating jobs and revenue across the entire national economy. Other nations might suffer; however, America must come first.
The stick involves the selective use of tariffs. The first tariff stick should be used to beat down any nation that uses government subsidies to allow corporations to dump products in our country at a price at which U.S. companies cannot compete. This does not mean that tariffs should be used if a U.S. company is simply inefficient. Any money collected should, by law, be used to pay down the national debt.
The second tariff stick should be used to encourage corporations to employ Americans. Any U.S. corporation that moves manufacturing to another country should be hit with a tariff equal to twice that amount of the prevailing U.S. hourly wage for time necessary to produce that product. All money collected should, here again, be used to pay down the national debt.
The third tariff stick should be used to prevent corporations from other countries importing to the U.S., from using cheap labor to undercut U.S. businesses on price. Either impose the same tariff that I have proposed using on U.S. corporations, or agree to waive the tariff and provide further incentives, if the corporation manufactures in the U.S., everything it sells in the U.S. Further incentives can be awarded if the corporation agrees to headquarter in the U.S.
Will such action result in an international uproar? Yes. However, our economy is strong enough and large enough that it cannot be ignored. But this is only a small part of what must be done. I will address more issues next week.
(Russ Purvis is an Independent who can be reached at email@example.com)
EUROPE DOING MORE TO PROMOTE DEMOCRACY THAN OBAMA
The 4th of July is upon us. It is the time of year that we should all take stock of our freedoms and consider what our leaders are doing to secure or erode them.
The Supreme Court struck a blow for freedom this week when it ruled that the Second Amendment actually does apply to cities and states. I know it sounds like common sense; however, Chicago had a law on the books for decades banning handgun ownership. The law was found to be unconstitutional. This is great news for anyone that truly supports the Constitution. It is bad news for the anti-gun crowd.
On the international scene, Europe is doing more to promote democracy over socialism than our own president. The G-20 is meeting this week in Toronto. Most of the countries that make up this group are abandoning the Obama, spend your way to prosperity, plan. Obama continues to push for more and more international spending. Luckily, his pleas appear to be landing on deaf ears.
Even at home, deficit spending is falling out of favor. The attempt to add $35 billion in extended unemployment benefits to the deficit was defeated. The measure could have easily passed if the Obama administration would simply have agreed to find a funding source. Alternatively, a $35 billion cut somewhere else would also have done the trick. Instead, the issue will be used as a prop in this season's political theater.
Unfortunately, Afghanistan is still a quagmire. Obama did the right thing in sacking General McCrystal. However, the criticism, especially regarding our ability to succeed in Afghanistan, must be addressed. I am not holding my breath. It is truly a FUBAR!
Back here in flyover country, freedom is being eroded in Kansas. In what can only be described as an act of unneeded paternalism, the legislators in Kansas passed a law banning smoking in public places. If there is a great demand for smoke free, public places, the free market will provide such places. The Kansas law simply takes away the market's ability to provide what the public wants. Even if there is a valid health related argument, it is not the government's role to dictate private choices.
The Missouri Legislature is now in special session to vote on tax incentives for Ford and to modify Missouri's state pension system. There is a legitimate fear that Ford will be closing its Kansas City plant. However, Ford has not asked for any tax incentives. In fact, Ford has stated that even if it receives tax incentives, it will not guarantee that it is going to stay in Kansas City. Our elected officials are about to put the cart before the horse to the tune of $150 million.
Allegedly, this spending will be offset by changing the state's pension system. The pension system does need to be changed. However, any savings should be used to shore up the massive hole in the budget, not to cover the cost of a handout that has not been asked for and may not even accomplish its stated purpose.
Overall, our elected officials are still doing more harm than good, and our freedoms continue to suffer. But, at least for this weekend, put aside the negative thoughts and simply try not to blow your hands, or other important body parts, off with your soon-to-be-banned fireworks.
(Russ Purvis will never be banned. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org)
GIVE KAGAN THE KIND OF HEARING SHE PREFERS
Elena Kagan, President Obama's nominee to the Supreme Court, will begin her confirmation hearing next week. You need not watch a single minute of this chest thumping, political circus, to decide whether or not Kagan should be confirmed. She will be; however, she should not be.
It is Kagan's stated belief that the U.S. Constitution must be viewed as a “living” document. In other words, Kagan views the Constitution as a large word salad, to be interpreted as she sees fit to serve her purpose.It is an outcome based judicial philosophy. Following her view, you can simply eat around the parts of the constitutional word salad that you do not like, or simply add the spice of a new concept that does not exist in the original text of the Constitution, and still have a tasty meal.
This judicial philosophy makes it very easy to square the Second Amendment with increased gun control. Such thinking has allowed the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to become a sledgehammer, used to destroy the freedom to acknowledge in the public square, a person's belief in a religious concept. The Establishment Clause should actually act only as a shield, to guard against the creation of one national, state sponsored religion. And, no matter your position on the issue, only by use of this philosophy did abortion gain federal constitutional protection. The idea of a judicial philosophy based on the theory that the Constitution is a living document can be defined in one word: sophistry.
The competing view of constitutional interpretation revolves around the concept of strict construction of the framers' original intent. Strict Constructionists believe that words have particular meaning, within the time frame they are chosen, and convey specific concepts. They also believe that the framers of the Constitution chose the language used for a particular purpose. A strict constructionist also understands that times do change; however, the Constitution cannot be changed by reinterpreting its plain meaning.
The framers also knew that different times might require constitutional changes and allowed for an amendment process. Amending the Constitution is difficult by design. The difficulty of the process protects against tyranny. If the meaning of the Constitution is allowed to be changed at the whim of a judge, or judges, the Constitution will lose all meaning because it could mean anything.
Kagan has never been a judge. She has no prior decisions that can be reviewed to determine her stance on issues, and her published works provide a thin paper trail. But, she did write, prior to being considered for nomination to the Supreme Court, that she favors confirmation hearings like the one experienced by Reagan nominee, and strict constructionist, Judge Robert Bork. Bork was not confirmed, mainly due to his record being misconstrued by those without the intellectual capability to carry his briefcase. Referring to the Bork confirmation hearing, Kagan stated: “The debate focused not on trivialities” but more important issues, including “the understanding of the Constitution that the nominee would carry with him to the Court.”
Kagan must receive exactly the type of confirmation hearing that she prefers. To be sure, there will be howls from those protesting that she is being given rough treatment. To be sure, she will be evasive and will attempt to focus her answers only on trivialities and avoid the more important issues. And, to be sure, our Constitution is too important to allow its very existence to be placed in the hands of a judge that believes it is a “living” document.
(Russ Purvis is a living independent. Email him at email@example.com)
PAY THE COACHES, PAY THE KIDS, TAX THE PROFITS
Break out the booze and cheer. The Big 12 appears to have survived with ten teams. Why? Money, money, money! The reconstituted Big 12 believes that it has figured out how to grow the green. That is great news for every sports fan in this part of the country. But riddle me this: Why is it that collegiate athletics is tax exempt?
The events that have played out in the Big 12 over the last few weeks have made it very clear that college athletics is all about money. The grand arguments about student athletes simply do not ring true. There are athletes. There are students. There are also athletes that are students. And make no mistake about it, in the revenue generating sports like football and basketball, those young men and women are athletes first and students second.
Universities argue that the revenue generated from sports is used to “improve education.” That is a nice theory; however, the reality of the situation is that universities do not provide a detailed accounting of where the money goes. For instance, it is rumored that the each member of the Big 12 team may receive $17 million per year under the terms of the television deal reached this week. All of that money will be tax free. How much will be used for education? That is the great unknown. To be sure some of the money will go to education, but the vast majority will benefit the each school's athletic department.
The fact that head coaching salary packages are routinely in the seven figure range proves what a big business college athletics has become. That is fine; however, college athletics is a for profit business and it should not be tax exempt. Furthermore, the business should pay its employees (athlete students) for the services they provide. Instead, at even the hint of pay for play, school administrators begin the violated virgins act, and wash the kids out of school.
College sports provide great entertainment. As consumers of that entertainment, it is time that we pull our heads out of the sand and stop pretending that it is anything less than professional in nature. Pay the coaches, pay the kids, tax the profits and allow the universities to reap the monetary rewards. The various tournaments and bowls will still go on and the audience will not be diminished.
In the alternative, if taxing the profit makes you uneasy, force the universities to disclose, to the penny, the gross revenue generated by athletic programs and require that forty percent of the gross revenue be used to fund programs wholly unrelated to athletics. Given the track record of college athletics, an annual accounting of where the revenue that is not be swallowed up by the athletic departments is used will be required. Education will benefit and athletics will not be adversely impacted.
If you are still uneasy about taxing athletics consider this: If the government can tax your estate after you die at 55% starting in 2011, college athletics should also pay up. It is a matter of fairness. In fact, the Fair Tax could resolve all of these issues and more--but that is a column for another day.
(Independent Russ Purvis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)
RADICAL ISLAM IS THE ROOT OF THE PROBLEM
"Israel is the very embodiment of Jewish continuity: It is the only nation on earth that inhabits the same land, bears the same name, speaks the same language, and worships the same God that it did 3,000 years ago. You dig the soil and you find pottery from Davidic times, coins from Bar Kokhba, and 2,000-year-old scrolls written in a script remarkably like the one that today advertises ice cream at the corner candy store." Charles Krauthammer, The Weekly Standard, May 11, 1998.
“Get the hell out of Palestine.” Helen Thomas, internet interview, May 27, 2010.
Those two points of view go to the very heart of the Arab/Israeli problem, and demonstrate why Israel must not cave to international pressure as it relates to its blockade of Gaza.
Whether the other middle eastern nations, or the rest of the planet for that matter, like it or not, Israel is a sovereign nation. As such, Israel has a right, and a duty to its citizens, to protect itself from those, such as Hamas, that wish to overthrow the nation and, once again, drive Israelis out of their homeland. Make no mistake, Hamas is a terrorist organization that, if allowed to do so, will ally itself with Iran and spread its anti-Israel and anti-American message around the globe. As Americans, we should be rooting for Israel to succeed in not only containing, but in destroying Hamas. We should be cheering Israel's grit and determination. Instead, our government is wringing its hands over the fact that a few blockade runners were killed, when the entire situation could have been avoided if those attempting to run the blockade would have docked when and where Israel told them to do so. It is called the assumption of risk: If you intentionally put your safety in peril, you assume the risk that you might die.
The idea of a separate Palestinian state is a farce. The Arab nations in the region want nothing less than Israel's destruction. For Israel to survive it must draw a hard line. If the United States is to be successful in its attempts to thwart terrorism aimed at destroying the American way of life, a similar line must be drawn.
Our government can start by acknowledging the obvious: radical Islam is the root of the problem. Islam is a religion. Radical Islam is not. It is simply a group of terrorists bent on accumulating power by any means necessary. By wrapping themselves in the garb of religion, these terrorists seek to accomplish two things: First, to receive some small bit of legitimacy; and, second, use our concept of freedom of religion in an attempt to operate freely within the boundaries of our nation.
The government and the military also need to rethink the Afghanistan strategy. An occupying force will never destroy the threat that exists. Supporting those that will expose, kill and refuse to provide safe harbor to the terrorists makes more sense. Combine that effort with the use of surgical, military strikes on known terrorists, and terrorist sympathizers, and the impact will be large. This action may not lead to the development the type of democracy that exists in the United States. However, the preservation of our way of life is paramount. Our freedom requires us to severely punish those that threaten it.
(Email Russ at email@example.com)
LET'S ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY FOR OUR OWN LIVES
Not sustainable. Those words have been tossed around a great deal recently when referring to the ever-expanding U.S. deficit. Even President Obama has stated that we cannot just keep borrowing from China. However, actions speak louder than words, and Obama's actions show no sign of giving up on big deficits. But the large deficit is only a symptom of an underlying problem as a nation, the United States is not sustainable unless dramatic changes are made relating to the role of government and the public's expectations relating to government.
We, as a people, have simply lost our way. It is easy to blame the politicians and “big business” for our nation's current predicament. And, while it is true that both government and business interests were complicit in creating the mess, they represent only two legs of a three legged stool. As citizens we must stand up and take responsibility for our part in allowing ourselves to get to this point.
Our short attention span, no responsibility, give it to me exactly as I want it and give it to me now culture is as much to blame as any corporation or government program. This point was brought home to me by a recent article in the New York Times about people that have decided to quit paying their mortgages, yet remain in their homes until they are forced to move. These are people that voluntarily entered into a financial agreement, have now decided not to pay it, but feel entitled to remain in the home they cannot afford.
One person discussed in the article is Alex Pemberton. Mr. Pemberton lives in Florida and is not paying his mortgage. His home is in foreclosure; however, that process can take over a year in Florida. Mr. Pemberton knows he owes the debt but has hired a lawyer to slow down the process. According to the article, “Foreclosure has allowed them (Pemberton and his family) to stabilize the family business. Go to Outback occasionally for a steak. Take their gas-guzzling airboat out for the weekend. Visit the Hard Rock Casino.” I submit to you that anyone that has allowed his or her economic condition to get to the point that the family home is in foreclosure should not be eating out, boating or gambling. In fact, the boat should have been sold long ago.
Pemberton's home is worth less than what is owed. According to the article, “Pemberton and his wife refinanced at the height of the market, taking out cash to buy a truck they used as a contest prize for their hired animal trappers.” I know, truth is stranger than fiction, and you and I are subsidizing this stupidity every time a lender raises a fee or rate.
In Pemberton's mind this is not his problem. Pemberton believes that the loan was a “stupid move” by the lender. He is also quoted in the article as stating that “they (the lender) went outside their own guidelines on debt to income. And when they did, they put themselves in jeopardy.” Unfortunately, Pemberton is not a unique individual. Across this country there are millions of Pembertons, each refusing to accept responsibility for millions of different actions, both large and small. It is exactly this lack of personal responsibility that has moved our nation so close to becoming Greece.
If this nation is to survive all of us must first accept responsibility for our own lives. We then must elect leaders that will curtail the role of government by radically reducing it in both size and scope. The free market should not be toyed with. It is a simple remedy that for many may be a bitter pill to swallow.
(Reach Russ Purvis at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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