Thursday, August 30, 2012

Thurvey 8/30/2012

Thursday is here and it is time for the Thurvey.  The poll questions are on the right.  If you are on a mobile device you may have to go to "web version" to see the questions.  If you want to comment further on the questions, just do os below.  There will be no separate essay questions.

Last week we learned that most people look forward to the Autumn weather after Labor Day, with football season a close second.  Medicare needs to remain as is with fixes to make it sustainable.  Climate change should be addressed with an aggressive program for green energy.  And we don't know much about what to do about Alabama's budget/revenue crunch.

I like my politics, but there are things that trouble me about this political campaign.  Maybe you are troubled as well. Feel free to let your thoughts be known.

Otherwise, have a wonderful Labor Day Weekend.


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Forty percent chance of heavy pain . . . schools, public office, and hospital closings will scroll beneath the post

Seven years ago  Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans.   For an hour or two it seemed that the Big Easy would withstand the storm's fury with less wind damage than expected.  But then, within hours, the word came that the pump and levee systems were failing, and the Crescent City was flooding.  Soon tens, maybe hundreds of thousands of people were stranded because of man-made failure.  Nearly 2000 people died, hundreds of thousands were displaced, and about half the population never returned. Millions of dollars were spent on disaster relief as a result of Katrina.

In the past seven years the government has spent about fifteen billion dollars to construct a new system of levees, pumps, and flood gates to protect most of the city and surrounding parishes from the heavy water surge and massive rainfall.

And just in the nick of time as Hurricane Isaac made initial landfall tonight.  Officials are confident that the new system will handle the resulting flood of water.  I pray they are right.

Fifteen billion dollars.  And some people say that at least that much more is needed to adequately protect New Orleans from future Katrinaesque storms.

There is a bit of irony in the path Isaac took to get to New Orleans.  It first had to pass the city of Tampa, where the Republican National Convention has convened to officially nominate Mitt Romney to be the Republican candidate for President of the United States.

And it passed by Tampa and the Republicans without slowing up.

If Mitt Romney is elected president, it is likely Isaac will not be the last hurricane to get by the Republicans.

If one believes what Mitt Romney now claims to be his budget proposal, the federal government will have little or no money for such frivolous things as new pump and levee systems, comprehensive weather forecasting, and national disaster response and relief.

Mitt Romney has said he will increase Medicare spending for the next ten years.  Medicare presently represents fourteen percent of the federal budget.

Romney says that he will not cut defense and security spending.  Defense and security spending presently represent twenty percent of the federal budget.

Romney says he will not cut Social Security benefits. Social Security spending presently represents twenty percent of the federal budget.

So, Romney has promised to not cut, in fact to slightly increase, fifty four percent of the present federal budget.

But Romney also promised to make some dramatic cuts in spending right?  Yes he did.  He promised to cut 7 trillion dollars from the federal budget over the next ten years, or an average of 700 billion dollars per year.

So here's how that would look if you used the 2012 federal budget.  The total 2012 federal budget was 3.8 trillion dollars.   Romney has pledged not to cut anything off of 54 percent of the budget, which amounts to  2.05 trillion dollars.   That leaves 1.75 trillion from which to cut 700 billion.

Or to put it simply, nothing will be cut from social security, medicare, defense and security.

Everything else must be cut by forty percent to make Mitt Romney's proposal work.

Like hurricane forecasting, new levees and pumps, and disaster relief.

And medical and energy research. Medical insurance for children and the poor. Disaster relief. Education.  Public Safety, NASA, infrastructure . . .

It doesn't matter how nice a levee and pump system are, if forty percent is missing, you might as well forget the whole thing . . .

Maybe that's the whole idea.


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Birthers, bakers, and big wave makers . . .

Saturday. Sofa. Coffee.

A few things to ramble about this morning.  As usual, Saturday morning is not a time to get too het up.

Addressing a crowd in Michigan this week, Mitt Romney said it was great to be back in the place where he was born.  He then went on to say,

"No one has ever asked to see my birth certificate . . ."

The comment was greeted by the friendly crowd with laughter and applause.  It was greeted by those on the other side of the political fence with an explosion of tweets, posts, texts and messages of outrage that Romney would be pandering to the lunatic birther crowd.

That was not my initial reaction.

My intitial reaction was,

"I don't doubt they never asked for your birth certificate, they probably asked for a warranty, maintenance record and instruction manual . . ."  or

"Is flash photography allowed?" or

"After that snoozer of a speech I would imagine they were more curious about your death certificate .  . ."

I'm not proud of my reaction.  Okay, actually I am. Sometimes I wish we would just let the candidates say what they want.  Maybe even let one of the debates be an insult contest.  The notion has a classical, historical basis reaching back over a thousand years in Europe. It even has a name. Flyting.   Seriously. I was thinking of selling it sort of like a major heavy weight boxing match.  Proceeds to reduce the deficit.

"Flyte or Fight, 2012"  the Thrilla in Wasilla (only because it rhymes so well), or better yet, Mobilla or Huntsvilla.  Alabama needs the money.  Trust me.

Mitt Romney should be able to make a good natured joke about the birther issue.  Barack Obama should have been able to laugh at Romney's remark and send a zinger right back.  Because the idea that President Obama is not an American is a joke, which should be laughable.  It is okay to make a joke if everyone knows you're only kidding.

But some folks just don't get it.

Speaking of taking yourself a little too seriously, I must poke a little fun at my alma mater this week.  The University of Alabama makes a lot of fortune from the fame of its athletic programs, particularly football. Hundreds of thousands, probably millions of fans buy shirts, caps, shorts, mugs, car tags, mouse pads, coolers, oven mitts, dog vests . . .the list is endless . . . with the University's trademarked athletic logos displayed prominently.

At this point I would normally insert a photo of the distinctive Crimson A which has become shorthand for excellence in Academics and Athletics.   But due to the events of this week I feel safer just referring you to, the official website of UA athletics.

 Northport is a city separated from the University of Alabama campus only by the Warrior River. It is as close to the campus as most of Tuscaloosa, which is the municipal home of the University.  In Northport, only a skipped stone's throw from the University, there is a small bakery called Mary's Cakes and Pastries.  Mary, the owner of the small business, received a "cease and desist"  letter this week from legal representatives of the University of Alabama.  The University of Alabama was poised to sue Mary over her illegal and unauthorized use of trademarked Alabama logos, like the Crimson A, on cupcakes, cookies, and cakes (some of which, an insider discloses, have been ordered for official University functions).    To view how far Mary had fallen in her lawlessness and where to order the cookies and other treats because she deserves it after what the University did to her, click here.

The University apologized and retreated after their threat became public.  Our A  turned even redder after the incident, and rightfully so.

On another, brighter Tuscaloosa sweet treat note, Krispy Kreme has reopened in a new building on McFarland Boulevard.  I think it is where the old building was, but, as is true throughout Tuscaloosa, it is difficult to tell exactly where things were before the tornado.  The week set an opening crowd record for the franchise. Anecdotal reports say that the crowds have been almost prohibitive.  By the time you got inside, what was advertised by the neon sign as "hot now" was more often neither.  But that doesn't matter now.  I'm just glad my Kreme-filled happiness cakes are back.  Sunday morning, Krispy Kreme and coffee. All is right with the world.

Which brings me back to the Republicans.

Hurricane Isaac is threatening the Republican convention in Tampa.  But I don't think the Republicans are in any danger.  They've already moved so far from the center they won't even notice . . . 

Sorry. Just wanted to give you a Flyting chance . . .

Have a good weekend.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Thurvey 8/23/2012. Right before the fall . . .

Thurvey time again.  Once again we will do this differently.  The multiple choice survey appears on the right. If you do not wish to elaborate, simply make your choices by clicking on the answer. If you want to elaborate, enter your elaboration  by commenting. For you on mobile devices, it may be necessary to change to "web view" to take the multiple choice poll, or just wait until you can come back to this site on your computer.  Other wise, the questions are as follows:

#1  What should be done about Medicare?
#2  What should be done about global climate change?
#3  Do you favor the amendment to be up for vote in Alabama to allow about 400 million dollars to be transferred from the Trust Fund to the general fund?
#4  Labor Day means the end of summer, but the beginning of several things.  What is your favorite thing that begins after Labor Day?

If you need starter ideas for your essay answers, look at the multiple choice options.  The multiple choice poll will stay up all week, so feel free to answer at any time.

Last week almost everyone liked the cooler weather of Autumn. Bad diet, followed by laziness was the cause of obesity. Alabama's biggest problems are poverty and education.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Cinnabon voyage . . .

Saturday. Sofa. Coffee.

I was trying to book a flight this week, looking for the cheapest ticket I could find.  I assembled my team of experts . . . the travel gnome, Captain Kirk of Priceline, and the rest of the websites that contain the words "cheap flights", though I don't really like the word "cheap" attached to my flying machine.  In an effort to keep my cost down I checked the prices from Birmingham, Huntsville, Nashville and Atlanta, and as many different flight time permutations as I could manage.

Flights from Birmingham may be a little higher, and the flight schedules don't always fit my plans, but it is hard to beat the thirty minute drive to an easily navigated airport where security takes twenty minutes.  There is a Starbucks close to all of the gates.  But it doesn't have a Cinnabon.

Huntsville is about forty minutes farther drive than Birmingham.  Sometimes its fares are cheaper, sometimes they are not, and like Birmingham, the flight schedules are limited.  But  you barely notice security. They seem happy to have someone to talk to.   The traffic at the Huntsville airport is so low that I can park just a few yards from the terminal. Again, no Cinnabon, but the hotel restaurant has a nice breakfast buffet.

Then there's Nashville and Atlanta.  I thought Atlanta was farther. After checking, the mileage to the airport in Atlanta is actually shorter.  It's just the walking distance that makes up the difference.  First from the parking lot to the terminal.  Then inside the terminal.  If you stop to have your shoes shined you might have to get them re-soled.   Both airports are over a hundred miles farther away, but often have much cheaper fares and a variety of flights.

Both Atlanta and Nashville have all kinds of food and coffee places. But Atlanta alone has a Cinnabon.

Some airports have TV news playing in the gates area.  I like that.  Some are locked into Fox News. Not my preference. Some have wi-fi. I like that. Some make you pay for it. I hate that. Some airports have high quality sound systems. That's good. Some apparently use a tin can and string with a cat screeching in the microphone. Not a plus. Some airports have those moving sidewalks.  I love them.  I love them when I am tired because I can just be still and get where I need to be.  If I need a boost in confidence I can run while on the moving sidewalk and pretend that I am a world class sprinter, watching those less amazing slow people fall by the wayside.  If I need a challenge I don't take the moving sidewalk, but try to beat those poor losers who did, even those who are running along, pretending they are world class sprinters.  And all airports have those annoying carts that try to run you over, making you disabled so that you have to ride in one of their carts.

Sometimes I wonder, as I walk with head down through the first six or eight rows of seats on the plane what it would be like to be first class . . .

But money is an issue.

As it turns out, there is a lot for me to think about before I purchase my ticket.

But the first thing I have to decide, before I do anything, is my destination.  If you don't know where you're going, it doesn't matter all that much how you get there, and you can probably get there cheap.

Cinnabon is wonderful.

But Cinnabon will never get me where I need to go.


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Thurvey 8/16/2012. The long and short form . . .

If you are looking at this on a mobile device you may need to go to the bottom of the site and click on @view the web version" to be able to take the short form thurvey. Thursday is a day of hope, as it seems we can make it to the weekend.  We can hold our breath that long if we have to.  So it is the perfect time to take stock. The weekly survey. The Thurvey.  We'll try something different again this week.  You can give essay answers to the Thurvey, as usual, or if you wish, simply take the simple survey that appears above or beside or somewhere close to the post depending on the device you are using at the time. I know some of you don't want, or don't have time to write your thoughts, but, this will give you an opportunity to simply click on a few responses.  Of course, it is important to hear the thoughts of those who still wish to respond to the traditional survey, please continue to do that if you wish.  There have been some really cool responses the past few weeks.  The point and click Thurvey is self-explanatory and quick once you find it.  The traditional essay is the same as always.  Enter your responses as comments to this post.

#1   A fact about Republican VP candidate Paul Ryan that has been overlooked is that he loves to noodle.  Before you women (or you men who may have a man crush or otherwise) get too excited, please check the link, it may not be what you think.  If you think you're significant other is a cold fish, then perhaps you can relate.  Anyway, do stories like this affect the way you view a political candidate?   What other present or past candidates' favorite past times have affected how you feel about them?  Have you ever noodled or anything like that?

#2   It seems the Iowa State Fair has become an important forum for Presidential candidates as they stand on a stump and speak to the crowds.  But the Iowa State Fair has a larger claim to fame.  You can buy almost any food at the concession stands, all deep fried.  Being a southern boy, this claim by Iowa to frying superiority is troubling.  What is the most unusual food you have eaten, or refused to eat, fried?

#3   Speaking of fried foods, a new report out this week ranks Alabama as the fourth most obese state in the union.  Why is that?  (You can go either way.  Why are we so obese, or why are we only number 4?)

#4    The days are getting shorter, the leaves are fading, the vegetable vines are wilting, the temperatures are slowly dropping.  Autumn is a month away.  What are you looking forward to the most in the fall?

#5   What is the solution to our health care cost problem?

#6   Do we pay enough taxes in Alabama?  Why or why not?

#7  What question of your own do you want answered this week?

Monday, August 13, 2012

The all you can eat buffet rule . . .

Alabama has the fourth highest obesity rate in the United States.

But don't worry.  Our fatness cannot be blamed on us.

It is the federal government's fault.

If only the federal government would get busy on a good anti-porker policy, we could get off our formidable derrieres and do something about it.

Darn that federal government.

Silly isn't it?

When President Clinton left office in 2001, the United States economy was booming. Or at least bubbling. Debt and deficit were under control.  Revenues were good.

Shortly after taking office, in 2001 and again in 2003,  President George W. Bush advocated, and achieved, a dramatic reduction in income taxes.   Additionally Bush began a dismantling of the evil government regulation that would set the job creators and business investors free to create.

Still drunk on the excesses of the internet bubble,  big business and job creators deftly transitioned to another champagne, the real estate bubble.  Happy days were here.again.

Big business and job creators got everything they ordered.   Lower taxes. Less regulation. Life was good.  And it got real good.  With trays loaded with money to invest and fewer pesky regulations, business and investment speculators took advantage of the plentiful offerings of delights at the all you could eat business buffet. Their appetite was insatiable.  They even found a way where they didn't have to pick up the tab.

And they stayed at the trough for years, feasting at the excellent Bush concession stand.

But it turned out, there is no such thing as "all you can eat."   We call that the other Buffet rule.

In 2008, the all you can eat buffet closed down.

By the end of the year the economy had been picked as clean as a turkey carcass at the family Thanksgiving by big business and job creators while willing Bush Administration  waiters served it up on a silver platter.  The tips made it worth the while.

As far as government policy is concerned, nothing much has changed, even now.  The same tax rates are in place.  Actually the rates are a little lower. The anticipated regulation reform by the Obama administration has been restrained, at best.

Big business and job creators have had it their way for over a decade.

Big business and job creators got obese, diabetic you might say, after years of eating up any and everything they wanted without a concern for health, theirs, or anyone else's.

But it's the federal government's fault.  If they would only fix it.  Just another deadly Whopper. And we the people have swallowed this ridiculous logic.  I can't believe we ate the whole thing . . .

Silly, isn't it?

No, it's not that simple.  I know that.  

But spoiled big business and job creators have been having their cake and eating it too.  The collapse of our economy was in great part their fault.  They indulged their gluttony but refused to repent.

And now they insist that the federal government fix the problem they created.  They insist on help.  On government welfare.  They must have more tax cuts.  More deregulation.

More of the same sweet diet they enjoyed for the last decade.  The same diet that almost killed them. And took many of us with them.  Now that is really silly.

I'm sick of this feeling of entitlement, this idea that the federal government is supposed to be their nanny.

It's time they went to work like the rest of us.

Or at least be drug tested.


Sunday, August 12, 2012

Sunday sermon. Class favorites . . .

As a disclaimer, on Sundays I often write about something that is bothering me in my faith life. I am a Christian, and today's post refers to the New Testament of the Christian Bible.  

The Mobile Press Register reported today that Governor Bentley will cut another third of a billion dollars from the State budget. He has already cut two-thirds of a billion.  He is shooting for more than a billion in budget cuts. The governor quoted from the Bible, the Book of James, Chapter 1, verses 2 and 3:

2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 

He cited the passage in a speech to  five hundred members of one of the most powerful religious denominations in the state,  the Business Council of Alabama,  suffering as servants at the austere accommodations of the Grand Hotel at Point Clear.  We are all feeling the pinch, I guess.

I wish he had continued to read aloud from James.  It wouldn't take long to get to chapter 2.  Forgive me for using a long passage, but there really is some great stuff in the Bible:

2 My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. 2 Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. 3 If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” 4 have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?
5 Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? 6 But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? 7 Are they not the ones who are blaspheming the noble name of him to whom you belong?
8 If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,”  you are doing right. 9 But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. 11 For he who said, “You shall not commit adultery,” also said, “You shall not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.
12 Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. 

I don't mean too be hard on the governor.  Being a governor of a welfare State, that is to say, a state that is dependent on the Federal government, is challenging in these tough economic times.

But the governor attempted to justify the deep budget cuts to education, to youth services, to food safety, to services for the poor and elderly by quoting scripture.  

Perhaps James (Jesus' brother, not the former governor of Alabama) would have suggested that the Governor go to a shelter, or an orphanage, or an inner city or rural school,  or the Church of the Reconciler in Birmingham this morning, for instance, and discussed the needs of the people gathered there and how the state can best handle those needs in a terrible economy.

But, as many are quick to point out, meeting the needs of the poor and hungry is the job of the church, not the government. Apparently it is the task of government to meet the needs of the business and wealth.

So we quote scripture to the Business Council of Alabama to justify balancing the budget on the backs of those who have no voice, no power . . . no money.

I am sure the Governor addressed this with the Business Council.  I mean, he didn't have to bring up the Bible in a meeting of business leaders, but he did.  So I am sure he insisted that James also called on us all to take care of the poor and needy.  I am sure he told them that it might be necessary to raise their taxes just a little bit so that the needs of the least of these Alabamians could be helped.

I am sure he reminded them he couldn't play favorites, cause it says so, right there in the Book of James.

Surely he did.  It's in the Bible.


Saturday, August 11, 2012

We're only human . . .

Saturday. Sofa. Coffee.

Wow.  This morning is perfect. Cool. Sunny. No massive lightning displays.  Most of the flooding has subsided, except that apparently my roof is leaking a little bit, evidenced by a small puddle of water in the hall.  I will have to pick up a few limbs out of the yard later before I mow, but I need the exercise. Of course I can't get to outside chores until I load the dishwasher and do the laundry. I need to go to the grocery and drug store. But I can't do that any of that until I sit on the sofa and drink some more coffee. At some point I will brush my teeth and groom and do other necessary things.

This week  I spent considerable time watching  TV.   I watched the Olympics a lot, far more  than I had time for. In addition to the games there were the side stories about British Royalty since the Olympics were held in their backyard. And Rafalka.  Then there were the  highlights of the Mars landing of Curiosity and the reactions of the folks that got it there. I watched the continuing saga of Chick Fil A and gay rights.  And of course there was the ever present politics on the cable news channels and Comedy Central when they weren't preempted by the games.  Or more accurately, the other games. And I saw two movies, The Dark Knight Rises and The Campaign.

Perhaps this explains why I've got so much to do today.

So my week was filled with watching the lives of bigger-than-my-life characters.

Considering my life and days I wonder about these bigger than life characters.  Do they have mornings when they sit on the sofa in their boxers, drinking coffee and breakfasting on popcorn left on the coffee table from a day or two before?  Do they know how to load their dishwasher so that the tops of the glasses don't have a Cascade residue after they dry?  Do they wonder how a two foot high weed suddenly grew up in the middle of their driveway?  Do they spend part of their Saturday trying to find where the roof is leaking?  Do they occasionally forget to buy new toothpaste and end up sucking the toothpaste tube to get the last bit for the final brushing?

Do they ever go to the bathroom?

Okay, that's a little gross, but it makes my point pretty well, I think.

Everyone I watched and followed this week is human, except Rafalka, and that horse dances better than most of us. Anyway, sometimes I wonder about the real lives of our celebrities.  We keep them in their spotlights.  But you know they have to come down from the stage sometimes to take care of business.

Michael Phelps addressed this in a real way last week. He told the Wall Street Journal that competitive swimmers pee in the pool, since they don't have time, during training, to get out and go to the bathroom.  Fortunately most six year olds won't be reading the Wall Street Journal.

Mitt Romney also tried to set my mind at ease this week.  He went to the Hardware Store. By himself. When asked what he bought, he replied, "hardware stuff."  Then he went to the grocery store.  By himself.  He bought an ear or two of corn and wasn't sure whether to get a cart or a basket.

Not completely unlike me later today, except for the video crew that was filming his outing for public release and the security detail assigned to him.  The only security and video involved in my outing will be the little camera aimed at the check out counter at the store to prevent me from shoplifting or writing a bogus check.   But still, it's sort of the same.

It's easy to forget that we are human, all of us (except Rafalka).

Especially when we get to know people in two dimensions.  No depth. No context.  It is easy to believe that we know people because we see them on a flat screen for a few seconds or minutes, or read someone else's opinion about who they are or what they've done. The spotlight is bright, after all.

And it is easy to be mean, because, despite what Captain Kangaroo or Grandfather Clock told us, as grown ups we know that they cannot hear us when we say mean, judgmental things about them back at the TV screen .  .  . or on facebook, or around the coffee table at McDonald's.

So that makes it okay.

But what if Mitt Romney was drinking coffee with me this morning (after I cleared him off a space on the sofa)?   Or President Obama was eating a sausage biscuit around the coffee drinking table at Jack's?

Or what if a friend sitting next to you in church told you he or she was gay?

The spotlight is only a few feet wide.  And there are shadows all around it where nothing is revealed,  shadows created by the spotlight itself, shadows that are cast and fall behind the person in the spotlight, for sure, but huge, endless shadows that fall outside the spotlight's dimension.

Maybe we fool ourselves into thinking the small circle of white light reveals everything we need to know, that there is nothing outside its illumination.

But that tiny circle is so small in comparison to the darkness of our ignorance.

Sometimes we are critical of each other for making fun, making fun of Mitt Romney's staged shopping trips, his dancing horse, or his car elevator, or President Obama's method of eating ice cream, his need to burst into an Al Green tune,  or even his efforts to quit smoking.  Of Boehner's propensity to cry and his fake tan. Of Harry Reid's exciting demeanor.  Of the unique problems of gayness and straightness.

Of course we shouldn't be cruel or mean.

But I'm not sure we are really making fun.

We just need them to be human.

And I am sure that outside the spotlight, we all really  are.

Except Rafalka.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Thurvey 8/9/2012 . . . favorite contests, protests, vice pres and the rest

Thurvey time.  Your chance to take a stand without  blowing your diet or elevating your cholesterol.  Enter your answers to any or all of the Thurvey questions, or just freelance if you wish, in the comment box below, click on the "comment as" drop down menu, click on "anonymous" and click on publish.  Use your name if you want the fame.

#1  What has been your favorite Olympic moment so far?

#2  If it is necessary to go out to eat to send a moral message, where would you most like to take your stand, or possibly be seated on the back patio?  What would you order?

#3  Your pick for Republican VP?  Not necessary to choose from the popular list. Serious is fine. Humor is better.

#4  What is your favorite conspiracy theory?  Current theories preferred, but golden oldies are also nice.

#5  What would Jesus do?

#6  What question of your own do you want answered this week?


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Mittle white lies . . .

When I was a child my dad would often punish his children as a group.  On Sunday afternoon he wasn't all that interested in taking time to ferret out truth and blame.  He just wanted a good nap as soon as possible.

That's the way we look at politics and politicians these days.  We have been told that they all lie, so we make no effort to discern who is misleading us and who is not. Nor do we want to take the time to ferret out truth and blame.  We just want a good nap.

I'm not talking about normal politics. I would expect a candidate to tell me his story in the best light that he can cast it.  For instance, I would expect Governor Romney to use his business experience as a positive.  Much of it is.  He should be hammering on that experience.  I don't expect him to tell me the negatives.  That's why he's got an opponent. It's not lying to put your best foot forward.   It is helpful. I am also not talking about putting a questionable spin on positions and performance of your opponent.  If Romney wants to claim that the economy has gotten worse under Obama, then it is up to Obama to refute that.  I'm not even talking about the minor mistakes or mis-statements about statistics or experiences.  That is politics.

But Governor Romney has lied about President Obama.  Intentionally,boldly and repeatedly.  And no one seems to care.  There have been many. So many that we seem to accept Romney's lying as normal.   It is not.  Well maybe it is for Romney. Here are a few.

#1 Romney lie

It began with one of his first TV ads against President Obama in November, 2011.  The commercial showed the President speaking to a crowd, saying,

“If we keep talking about the economy, we’re going to lose.”

The Romney campaign later admitted to editing the video.  The President actually said,

“Senator McCain’s campaign actually said, and I quote, if we keep talking about the economy, we’re going to lose.”

Obama was quoting Republican Presidential candidate John McCain.  Romney's edit made it seem the President was expressing his own fears. You can see how the Romney campaign edited Obama's words in this video.  The ad was withdrawn shortly after the news media universally questioned its veracity.

#2  Romney lie

This one is famous now.  Most people still believe that President Obama told business owners that they didn't build their businesses.  On July 13, 2012, Obama said,

 "There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridge If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen."s.

Obama was clearly referring to the "American system" and "roads and bridges," not the business. Nearly every major news outlet agrees.  But most of the country didn't see the whole statement.

The Romney editors once again went to work. All you saw and heard Obama saying on the Romney ad was,

" If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen."

Romney's campaign admitted the edit, but never backed down.  Romney went on to express the identical sentiment as Obama less than a week later.

#3  Romney lie

 Last Saturday, Governor Romney issued a statement headlined,


In the statement Romney called a lawsuit filed by Obama's organization in Ohio,

“an outrage. The brave men and women of our military make tremendous sacrifices to protect and defend our freedoms, and we should do everything we can to protect their fundamental right to vote.”

Romney's statement, and that of his legal counsel, clearly left the impression that the President was attempting to limit the military's voting during an early voting period.

The lawsuit was actually attempting to restore the rights of Ohio citizens to the early voting period. If you are wonky enough to care, check out the lawsuit complaint.  This article from Time Swampland is a good explanatory piece as well.

#4 Romney lie

In an ad released today, Governor Romney claims that President Obama gutted the 1996 Welfare Reform Act by executive action back in July.  Romney said that the President's action did away with the requirement that welfare participants work.

The ad is a lie.  The President's action merely invited the States, who are in charge of administering welfare programs, to apply for waivers to manage and operate their welfare systems in a different, more cost-effective way.  The federal government would have no say so in the proposed changes, other than saying no.

It is like an action  requested of the federal government by Republican Governors and endorsed by Mitt Romney when he was Governor of Massachusetts.  You can read the letter here if you wish. Or this article in

President Obama did not gut the Welfare Reform Act.  He simply turned over more control to the States, as any good Republican would ask. Or already have.

There are more, but this is getting too long.

But it's okay, they all lie.

No they don't. Not like this. And it's not okay. Not for the candidates.

And not for the rest of us.

It's time to wake up. We can nap later.


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Thurvey 8/2/2012, go for the golden arches

Thursday again. Time to survey. The Thurvey is open for business and looking for a piece of the public opinion pie  that has been selling like hot chicken sandwiches this week. Don't waffle . . .try.  If you have soured on public discourse, here's your chance to make sweet lemonade out of the lemons of the week.  Just enter your answer to any or all of the Thurvey questions, in the comment box below, click on the "comment as" drop down menu, click on "anonymous", and click on "publish."  I feel a good Thurvey coming on . . .

#1  This one may take some effort, but I have confidence in you.   It has always been tough for the socially conscious consumer.  Do we buy the world's coolest shoes made in the world's hottest sweatshops?  Do we by gasoline from a company that burned the people of Africa?  And now this whole Chick Fil A thing.   .   .  Maybe fast food places and other businesses should just go ahead and identify themselves with a political or moral position.  Chick Fil A could go either way.  Chik First Amendment Filet, or Chik Feeling Homophobic Today, depending on your viewpoint.  Be creative.  What politically revealing names would you suggest for popular businesses?  Humor will score higher than relevance here . . .

#2   The Olympics have been great.  Which Olympic events would you like President Obama and Governor Romney to compete in, either separately or against each other? Why?  Predict the winner.  Be serious on this one . . . not really.

#3   August is here. The Alabama legislature gave us a couple of extra weeks before school will start again. What would you like to do for the last fling of summer?

#4   There is a campaign under way to let Blount County vote on whether to make the sale of alcoholic beverages legal . . .a "wet-dry referendum."    Here's your soapbox . . .or whiskey barrel.  Step up and take a stand.  Even if you don't live here.

#5  As summer begins to wind down, what fresh fruit or vegetable will you gorge yourself on because it won't be around much longer?  How do you best like to eat it?

#6  What question of your own would you like answered this week?


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