Posts Tagged ‘politics’

The timer is ringing for dinner! I gotta run. But please go watch this video:



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Oregon’s statewide ballot measure numbers for November won’t be assigned until August 2, but at least one is already controversial: a measure brought to you by Bill Sizemore which would limit bilingual education in public schools.  Like the arguments about English becoming the official language of the United States (still making the rounds, courtesy of Colonel Harry Riley), this could get ugly.  Read more about it on Associated Content.

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This is really p*ssing me off.

Especially this quote:  “Now the ball is squarely in Congress’ court,” he added. “Democratic leaders can show that they have finally heard the frustrations of the American people by matching the action I have taken today.”

As I’ve said before, making new offshore oil leases available will accomplish exactly nothing — except to put more money in the oil companies’ pockets.

Members of Congress, Republican, Democrat, or Independent, can show us they care by taking action to make alternative forms of transportation and energy available to more people.  That won’t be easy, but it is necessary.

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So, Bush and McCain want to end the so-called ban on offshore oil drilling, in the name of lower gas prices and lessening our dependence on foreign oil.  There’s at least one problem with that idea, though.

They’re lying to you — or at least misleading you.

There’s plenty of offshore drilling going on. Seen Armageddon? People are using those offshore rigs — they’ve never been banned.  There are certain areas which have a moratorium on new drilling and new leases.  There are other areas where offshore oil rigs are still operating.  And according to the Associated Press, oil companies currently have 68 million acres in undeveloped oil leases outside the moratorium area, where they could still drill if they wanted to.

Under the moratorium, the government simply hasn’t been giving new leases to oil companies. That’s what Republicans want to give the oil companies — new offshore leases.

The oil companies don’t need them. They’re not fully using the leases they currently have! What the Republicans would do is give the oil companies additional “land” that they could then hold on to for the future. And in that future, when oil really has become scarce, they’ll be able to gouge us even more.

Speaking of gouging, ending the moratorium is highly unlikely to lower the price of gas at this time.  Factcheck.org says that according to a government report, opening additional offshore drilling opportunites wouldn’t have any impact on oil supply or on gas prices until 2030.  John McCain even recognized this in a speech on June 23.  “Even though it may take some years, the fact that we are exploiting those reserves would have psychological impact that I think is beneficial.”

Holy smokes.

The hard truth is that gas prices are not going to go down; at least not significantly.  The only way out of this is to CUT OUR OIL CONSUMPTION. We have to stop using the oil wherever we can.  We need to develop alternative energy sources, and we need to walk, bike, and use public transportation.

Some people aren’t currently in a situation where these methods are affordable or even possible.  Federal, state and local governments will need to act to make public/alternative transportation accessible and affordable for more people.

We need to face the facts and move forward, instead of holding on to an unsustainable way of life.

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Thanks to the Bush administration and the Supreme Court, there’s an ongoing debate about rights vs. security. The Supreme Court says that prisoners at Guantanamo Bay have the right to habeas corpus — they can go to court to challenge their detention by the U.S. The dissenters, in and out of the court, say that this decision hurts our national security, while others are glad that the right to habeas corpus has been protected.

I think protecting people’s rights is important (some people call this freedom). I also think economic and social justice is important, and that living sustainably (some would say green) goes along with this. I think economic and social justice gives people freedom as well — freedom to be the human beings we are meant to be. I know there are many others who agree with me.

Some people think violence is necessary in order to protect these rights and freedoms. Some of the same people think it’s necessary to violate the rights of some people in order to protect others. They place a high priority on security above all else.

Right or wrong aside, it’s unlikely that people who are strongly convinced of either of these points of view will change to the other. They see the whole world through this lens. These worldviews affect many different issues that people are concerned about, including the economy, military action, use of torture, protecting the environment, and more.

Jane Jacobs wrote in her book Systems of Survival about two systems at work in our society: the Guardian syndrome and the Commerce syndrome. The Guardian syndrome assumes that one does what it takes to protect society, even if that requires force or deception. The Commerce syndrome is concerned with honesty, efficiency, inventiveness, and collaboration. Jacobs said that problems occur when the values of one syndrome are applied to the other system.

This book bothered me when I read it, because I simply can’t believe that it’s morally OK for Guardians to use violence and deception — especially deception — whenever it seems necessary. Maybe I’m looking at this wrong. I’m looking at it as it applies to the Bush administration (lies, deception, unnecessary war, unlawful imprisonment, torture). If I think about a police officer, it makes more sense. There are certainly situations where I appreciate police using force to protect the public. Then again, we do have to make sure that it’s a reasonable use of force! And we have to be sure that police are respecting people’s rights. So, I just can’t see Guardians being given license to do ANYTHING in the name of protecting the public.

Isn’t there a better way? Or are we doomed to repeat the past?

Perhaps that’s a good question for my other blog.

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I’ve got to be quick here — as you’ve probably heard, the Supreme Court ruled today that “Guantanamo Bay prisoners have the right to go before U.S. federal judges to challenge their years-long detention” (Reuters).

This was a 5-4 decision.  According to Reuters, the majority consisted of the four liberal members of the court (Stevens, Souter, Ginsburg, and Breyer) plus swing voter Kennedy.  Roberts, Alito, Scalia and Thomas (I’m wanting to throw up just from typing those names) voted against.

This vote, among others, clearly illustrates one thing that’s at stake in the presidential election:  the make-up of the Supreme Court.  What kind of justices would McCain and Obama be likely to appoint, and which would you prefer to have on the high court?  Would you like to continue having the right of habeas corpus, among other rights?

Think about it before you cast your vote.

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Barack Obama is opening his campaign for the general election with a two-week tour focused on the economy. Finally! We’ve heard about racism, sexism, statements of various pastors, and lack of foreign policy experience. Hillary Clinton has finally ended her campaign. Now we’re getting to the meat, as in “how are we going to be able to put meat and other foods on our tables?”

Obama says that help for families in financial distress “can’t wait until the next President takes office.” I applaud that thinking. I’m not sure about his plan, though. He’s calling for another $50 billion in economic stimulus payments, expansion of unemployment payments, and relief for homeowners facing foreclosure (to include a $10 billion Foreclosure Prevention Fund).

While checks are always welcome in my household, another round of economic stimulus payments is most likely to be used for food, gas, and credit card payments. This isn’t likely to create more jobs or expand businesses. And even if people do buy TV’s and computers and cell phones, where’s the money going? Overseas?

I don’t think tax cuts are the answer, either. Supposedly, cutting taxes for businesses and investors results in expansion of businesses, more jobs, and more money for everyone.

So, are we all better off now than we were in 2001?

I think Obama did hit the nail on the head in this part of his statement: “I think it’s time we invested in our roads and schools and bridges and started to rebuild America.”

Exactly. If the government is supposed to create jobs (or at least facilitate their creation), why not just do it directly? Hire people to fix roads and bridges, and teach children, and build our energy independence.

Yes, more government jobs means taking taxes from those who have money, and redistributing them in the form of jobs to those who don’t. If you have money, why should you have to do that? Why should you be forced to share with others.

Well, government exists for the public good (to promote the general welfare, as the Constitution says). It also exists because not everyone considers the public good in their actions.   Do people and corporations who have more money always think of others?  Do they always hire more workers when they’re doing well?  Not necessarily.  All too often, excess corporate profits are reserved for shareholders and CEO salaries, and not used for the public good.

I think it’s in the public interest for people to have jobs; jobs that allow them to support themselves and their families. I’m not talking about taking your tax dollars and just giving them away to anyone who doesn’t have a job. I’m talking about paying people to work, and not just to do busy work — we need people to work on roads and bridges, and to develop sustainable energy sources. We need people to teach children.

Yes, we have people who do those things now, but the work still doesn’t get done. We have plenty of roads and bridges falling into disrepair; hundreds of bridges that don’t meet safety guidelines. We could put more teachers in schools, and limit class sizes to 20 students (meanwhile, hiring people to build more classrooms). That would go a lot further than standardized testing toward leaving no children behind. And as far as energy goes, we need to make energy independence happen, and we need to make clean energy happen. It’s a necessity for maintaining life on this planet, and we should be putting all the resources we can into figuring it out.

And of course, people who have jobs are then able to spend money and help keep the economy going for everyone.

I know, this doesn’t give people any immediate relief.  Maybe we do need that, too — but I suggest giving that relief to those who really need it.  For instance, we could give assistance primarily to those who are currently receiving food stamps or unemployment assistance.

Which brings me back to another Obama statement:  “My vision involves both a short-term plan to help working families who are struggling to keep up and a long-term agenda to make America competitive in a global economy.”

That’s what I think, too — but let’s be smart about it.

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