Posts Tagged ‘Canada’

Live Analysis of President Obama’s Health Care Speech to Congress

September 9, 2009

I know it’s been a while since I’ve done a blog post (other than the one I did yesterday), but I figured this was an important issue to talk about, and I’ll probably be writing a column on health care sometime this week, so this will help me get some ideas down a little early.

President Obama is about to give  a speech to a joint session of Congress, and I’ll be giving my live analysis of his speech.  And this is live, so excuse any typos – I’m not always great at typing quickly.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has just gaveled the session into order, so we’ll begin in about 10 minutes here.

The President’s speech is expected to last about 45 minutes (not including applause), so I’m guessing that it will run close to an hour (maybe a little over) when it’s all done.

Speaker Pelosi has now called the session to order – Vice President Joe Biden by her side.

The Escort Committee is now leaving to follow behind President Obama when he enters the chamber.

Michelle Obama is now arriving.  The Cabinet is now coming into the chamber.

President Obama is now coming into the chamber – and he’s getting a lot of applause (as every President does during these joint sessions).

He’s now up to the podium – Speaker Pelosi is trying to bring the chamber to order.  She is now introducing President Obama.

He’s talking about the last time he spoke here – that it was during the worst economic situation we’ve faced since the Great Depression.  “We are by no means out of the woods … a full recovery is still months away.”  He’s saying that he won’t let up until “those who seek jobs can find them.”

Wow – Hillary Clinton looks out-of-place – she’s wearing this red suit and she’s surrounded by men in black suits.

President Obama is thanking Congress for their help and support in trying to fix America’s economy.  He’s talking about building a future for America, and that health care is central to that future.

“I am not the first President to take up that cause, but I am determined to be the last.”  It’s a nice quote, but there’s always going to have to be reform – things change – nothing will ever be perfect.

He’s talking about Teddy Roosevelt talking about health care reform, and Representative John Dingell (D-MI) introducing a bill every session to reform health care.

Talking about the hardships facing those who are uninsured – not those on welfare, but mostly the middle class.  He’s talking about people being denied insurance because of previous conditions.  “We are the only democracy … the only wealthy nation who allows such hardship for its people.”  But we’re also the democracy who other countries turn to for certain health care needs (such as Canadians needing some quick emergency treatments).

Talking about insurance companies dropping patients in the middle of treatment for bogus reasons such as having acne and not claiming it – and I’ll agree with him here – that’s a problem that SHOULD be addressed.

Talking about insurance premiums going up, and leading to businesses not being able to open/survive because of health care costs.

It’s “placing an unsustainable burden on taxpayers. … We will eventually be spending more on Medicare and Medicaid than every other program combined.”  Again – he’s right here – Medicare/Medicaid costs are getting out of control – it’s just the solution where I disagree with him.

Talking about a single payer system like Canada’s or a plan that individuals should buy their own health care, but both of these are radical shifts that would disrupt the health care system.  He’s saying we should use what works as a template and fix the problems in our current system, rather than switch to a Canadian-style system or a completely individual style system.

He’s now talking about the 5 committees coming up with health care bills in Congress – an amount of reform that has been unprecedented in history – and again – this is a good thing – if we have multiple ideas, we have more to choose from and more discussion going around.

Now he’s talking about opponents to reform using scare tactics and just trying to score political points.  “The time for bickering is over.  The time for games has passed.”  Games and bickering are part of the American political system – it’s a sad fact, but it’s true.  And both parties do it, but getting into a “Well the other party did __________” kind of mentality is bad for America.

“If you already have insurance … nothing in this plan will require you to change what you have. … What this plan will do is make this insurance that you have work better for you.”  It’ll make it illegal for insurance companies to deny you based on a preexisting condition.  And that got a LOT of applause.  It will be illegal for them to drop you when you get sick.

“No one should go broke because they get sick. … Insurance companies will be required … to cover routine check ups … and preventative care. … It saves money and it saves lives.”  And that was all for people who already have insurance.

For those who don’t, this plan will give you an opportunity to get quality insurance.  “We’ll do this by creating a new business exchange.”  Insurance companies will want this because it gives them more customers.

And for those who still can’t afford insurance, tax credits will be provided.  The exchange will take effect in 4 years.

He’s talking about immediate relief for those who get sick before then, citing a plan that Senator McCain proposed during the plan during the 2008 campaign – and Senator McCain just got a huge grin on his face.

He’s saying that some people may not want to pay for insurance, but when they get sick, we wind up paying for their health care when they wind up in the hospital.  “Under my plan, people will be required to carry basic health insurance” just like states require people to have basic auto insurance.

And this is where I disagree with the President.  Personally, I don’t think we should be forcing people to buy insurance; however, I also don’t think that we should then be paying for their hospital visits.  If someone decides not to get insurance, and they get sick, then we shouldn’t be footing the bill – they should just have to pay for treatment themselves or not get it.

Now, moving on to “key controversies that are still out there:”

  • Saying that there won’t be plans to try to kill off the elderly who are sick.
  • No money will go toward illegal immigrants. – and somebody just shouted “Lie!” and Speaker Pelosi gave him a stare of death – whoever it was, that was pretty unprofessional and immature.
  • No money will go toward funding abortions.
  • This will not be a takeover of the entire health care system.

These are all good points, and I’d encourage EVERYBODY to read the bill that finally gets introduced instead of just listening to either the Democrats’ talking points or the Republicans’ talking points.

“Consumers do better when there’s choice and competition.”  And he’s absolutely right about that – but instead of setting up a government program to do this, we should open insurance markets to cross state lines, so that companies can compete nationwide, adding more competition all over the nation.

He’s saying that he doesn’t want to drive insurance companies out of business, just hold them accountable.

He’s saying that he would like a non-profit public option (which that surprised me that he still pushed for that – I figured that he wasn’t going to try to push that tonight).  It would be an option for those who don’t have insurance, and people wouldn’t be forced to chose it.  He estimates that less than 5% of Americans would sign up.  He’s saying that this public option wouldn’t be funded by the government, but would have to be self sufficient.

But what would happen if it stopped being self sufficient?  Would it essentially turn into a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac?

He’s saying that some are suggesting that the public option only go into effect where insurance companies aren’t competing well, or that we have a private co-op instead.  Saying that he won’t back down from giving a choice to people who can’t afford health care.

And the screen just panned over to the Republican section and they really do not look happy about this.

“Now he’s talking about how we’ll pay for the plan – “I will not sign a plan that adds one dime to our deficit – either now, or in the future. … Period.”  He’s saying that in his plan, there will be a section that will require spending cuts if the means of saving money aren’t there.  He’s now talking about the past administration making a mistake in passing tax cuts that we couldn’t afford as well as the Iraq War.

And while he does have an excellent point with the Iraq War part (which is a whole separate issue), I don’t think that that jab at the Bush Administration is going to help win any Republicans over – and with Senator Kennedy gone, they’re going to need an additional Republican vote in the Senate.  That was a bad strategic move on the President’s part.

Talking about ensuring that Medicare will be there for future generations.  Saying that seniors pay too much out-of-pocket for prescription drugs.  Saying not to pay attention to “scary stories that your benefits will be cut.”  GOP members don’t look happy.  “I will protect Medicare.”

“Making [Medicare] more efficient will [help make] the entire system more efficient.”  Saying that if we reduce waste in Medicare and Medicaid, that will pay for his plan.  Well why don’t we just reduce waste in Medicare and Medicaid anyway!  Why do you need to add one “good” thing to get rid of one bad thing?  Why not just cut waste out of M&M whether or not the other health care reforms pass or not.

Talking about malpractice reform bringing down costs of health care – and all the GOP members stood up and started cheering – even Biden stood up for that one.  Saying that we need to put safety first and let doctors focus on practicing medicine.  Saying that the Bush Administration wanted to test some of these ideas in individual states, and he likes that plan too.  So now he’s playing to the Republican side a bit – which is good because he’s going to need to do that if he wants this to pass the Senate.

Now talking about it’ll cost $900 billion over the next 10 years, but that’s less than the Iraq War…and I think he said something about the Bush tax cuts – I didn’t catch it.  Whatever it was, the Dems liked it, but the Repubs looked pretty pissed off – Rep. Thad McCotter (R-MI) really didn’t like whatever was said.

Saying he won’t stand by as the special interest groups fight to keep things the way they are.  “I will not accept the status quo as the solution.”  And he’s right – we DO need reform – I just disagree with him on the type of reform we need.

Talking about reforms leading to saving lives.

“We cannot fail … there are too many Americans counting on us to succeed.”

Talking about the late Senator Kennedy (D-MA) on his death bed talking about this year being the year that health care reform will be passed.

Health care reform has been a source of “rigorous and intense debate”.

Obama’s talking about Senators Hatch (R-UT) and McCain (R-AZ) and Grassley (R-IA) working with Senator Kennedy.  That his p”assion was born out of his own experience … having 2 children stricken with cancer.”  He’s saying that “concern for others … is not a partisan” issue.  “We are all in this together, and when fortune turns against us, others are there to give us a helping hand. … Sometimes government has to step in.”

Saying that Republicans and Democrats joined together in 1965 when they created Medicare.

“When any efforts to help people in need are attacked as unAmerican … and we can no longer engage in a civil conversation” … I missed that last part.  Whatever his point was (I’m sure it was something about engaging in civil debate) – I agree here – we need to discuss it, not try to drown one side out.

“I still believe we can act when it’s hard.”  Saying we need to have “civility” and not gridlock the process but make progress.

“I still believe we can do great things, and that here and now we will meet history’s test.  Because that is who we are.  That is our calling.  That is our character.  Thank you, God Bless You, and may God Bless the United States of America.”

Now the Republican response by Representative Charles Boustany (R-LA):

Republicans are ready for reform.  We’ve lost jobs since February.  “Americans want health care reform … [They’re saying] it’s time to start over with a … bipartisan plan.”

He’s saying that Obama’s plan will cost Americans more – that even the Congressional Budget Office agrees – it’ll create 53 new bureaus and raise the deficit.  It won’t make the program better for seniors.

“The President [could have] taken government run health care off the table, but he didn’t.”

Americans should be able to get insurance with preexisting conditions.  We should give incentives for healthy choices and preventative care.

“We’re grateful that the President mentioned medical liability reform.”  “Junk lawsuits drive up the cost of medical care.”

We should establish a plan that would enable people to buy insurance across state lines – and that was one of McCain’s big pushes during the ’08 campaign that I really agreed with.

“This Congress can pass meaningful reform soon … working together in a bipartisan way, we can lower the cost of health care.”

Alright – I wasn’t able to catch that much of the response because there weren’t any pauses in that speech, but it was basically the same thing that McCain said during his Presidential campaign.

Overall, I think the President did a moderately good job.  I wish he would’ve gone into detail a little more than he did, and there are some things that I definitely disagree with, but there were some good points:

Malpractice/tort reform is a huge part of the plan that will help lower costs of health care.  Eliminating waste in Medicaid and Medicare is another great thing that we need to do.  Ensuring a way that people can keep their coverage even when they get sick is another necessity that almost everybody agrees with.

I disagree with the public option, and I disagree with forcing people to have some sort of insurance plan.

I wish that he would consider adopting the plan to allow people to cross state borders to purchase health care plans.

Overall, it was a good speech, but I think he took a couple too many jabs at Republicans and the Bush administration (he’s going to need some Republicans’ votes, and that wasn’t a way to win them over).  I also wish he would’ve had more details of his plan, but with only having 45 minutes, that’s hard to do.

I’m not sold on the President’s plan, but I do think there are some good parts of the plan that I’d like to see develop.

We’ll see what’s introduced and what Congress does with the bill(s).

Done Analyzing,

Ranting Republican

Should the U.S. Government Be Tracking Santa?

December 26, 2008

noradsantaAlright, I already know that I’m gonna take some heat for this post, but I’ve never been one to back down due to unpopularity.  This year, like they have for the past 53 years, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) tracked Santa as he travelled from the North Pole around the world delivering presents.  Now, NORAD isn’t all U.S. funded, since it’s a joint organization of the Canadian Forces Air Command and the United States Air Force.

So, I began thinking, “Isn’t this kinda wasting government money?”  So, I did some research.  I went to www.noradsanta.org and began looking around.  I found this information about NORAD’s Santa tracking operation:

Since that time, NORAD men, women, family and friends have selflessly volunteered their time to personally respond to Christmas Eve phone calls and emails from children. In addition, we now track Santa using the internet. Last year, millions of people who wanted to know Santa’s whereabouts visited the NORAD Tracks Santa website.

So, from what I understand, the people aren’t getting paid, but that still doesn’t account for the website and actually running the operation on Christmas Eve / Christmas.  I know I must seem like such a Scrooge, but I just can’t justify the government tracking Santa, since he poses absolutely no threat to our air space.

Now, that being said, the nice, loving side of me is hating my fiscally responsible half right now, but I still can’t justify our government spending money on this.  If anybody from NORAD is reading this, could you tell me how much is actually spent on the Santa tracking operation?  Now, if this is all paid for by some fund or volunteers, I have no problem with NORAD being the face of the operation, I just can’t justify government funds going toward tracking Santa.

Alright, now it’s time for your opinion:

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Live Analysis of the Final Presidential Debate

October 15, 2008

Alright, we’re moments away from the beginning of the debate.  As always, I’ll be watching CNN, who will have a focus group (undecided voters in Ohio) with a tracking rating of how people like what they’re hearing (broken up by men and women).  WordPress just added an option to add polls, so I’ll see if I can get that working after the debate is over and post a poll about who won.

Tonight’s debate will be moderated by Bob Schieffer (CBS’s Face the Nation).

We’re about 2 minutes away.

Schieffer: Why is your plan better than your opponents?

McCain: Thanks to everybody, my prayers go out to Nancy Reagan.  “Americans are hurting and angry.”  They’re innocent victims of greed.  “They have every reason to be angry.”  We have to have a short term fix and long term fixes.  Short term fix: Fannie and Freddie cause the sub-prime lending situation, that caused the housing market to collapse.  We need to reverse the decline in home ownership.  People need to know that they can stay in there homes.  Let’s take $300 billion of the $750 billion and buy mortgages so that people can stay in their homes.  What about people who could already afford to stay in their homes?  It’ll drive home value down if there are abandoned houses.  I didn’t like the answer (because I’m staunchly against any of the bailout), but it’ll go over well with voters, and the focus group liked it.

Obama: I think this’ll take some time to work itself out.  We need an economic package for the middle class.  The fundamentals of the economy were weak before this crisis (it depends what you’re defining fundamentals of the economy as).  Tax cut for people making less than $200,000.  Buying mortgages could be a bailout to banks, so I disagree with McCain there, but we do need to help homeowners.  Need to fix energy and health care.

McCain: Obama had an encounter with a plumber, Joe (somebody) Wurzelbacher.  Joe wants to buy the business that he’s worked in, and  he looked at Obama’s plan, and he saw that he’d be put in a higher tax bracket, and that’d cause him to not be able to employ people.  Joe, I’ll not only help you buy that business and keep your taxes low, and provide a way for you to provide health care to your employees.  You want to increase people’s taxes, like Joe the plumber’s.  And he’s right there – he’ll kill small businesses if he raises taxes.  The  focus group liked that.

Obama: McCain wants to give tax breaks to some of the wealthiest companies, including oil companies.  I want to give tax cuts to 95% of Americans.  Income tax, capital gains tax.  THAT’S A LIE ABOUT CAPITAL GAINS!!!  He wants to take capital gains taxes back to levels before Clinton lowered them!  I want to give small businesses tax breaks.  He lies here – 11.5% of Americans don’t even PAY income taxes, because they don’t make enough money!

McCain: Obama says, “We need to spread the wealth around.”  “I want Joe the plumber to spread the wealth around.”  Why would you want to raise taxes?

Obama: I want to cut taxes for 95% of Americans.  Not true!  I want to cut taxes for Joe the plumber before he was able to make $250,000.  I want to give families with kids going to college a break.  I’d prefer that nobody pay taxes, but we have to pay for the core of the economy to remain strong.

McCain: Companies will go overseas if we raise our business tax rates.  “Of all times in America, we need to cut taxes and encourage business, not spread the wealth around.”  Great answer – McCain actually did better with the focus group there than McCain, and that surprised me.

Schieffer: Talking about reducing the budget deficit.  Won’t some of the programs you’re proposing have to be trimmed or eliminated?

Obama: If the $750 billion works as it’s supposed to, taxpayers will get their money back.  I have been a strong proponent of pay-as-you-go.  Some of the cuts we’ll need are subsidies to insurance companies.  “It’s just a giveaway.”  I’ll go through the federal budget line-by-line, and eliminate what’s unnecessary.  We need to invest in the American people.  We need to prevent diseases when they’re young, so they won’t spend as much Medicare money.  The same with college – they’ll drive up the economy.  He’s getting very high ratings right now – he’s appealing to the average American people.

McCain: Back to home-ownership.  During the depression, we bought homes and home values went back up.  This was a plan that Senator Clinton proposed.  We need to become energy independent.  I need an across-the-board spending freeze.  I oppose subsidies for ethanol.  Sorry – got interrupted there.  I will veto earmarks.  Senator Obama put in an earmark for a projector in a planetarium in his hometown.

Obama: An across-the-board spending freeze is a hatchet, and we need a scalpel.  Senator McCain talks about earmarks, but they account for 0.5% of the federal budget.  Eliminating them will help, but it won’t solve the problem.  When President Bush came into office, we had a budget surplus, and now we have a deficit.  Pursuing Bush-esque budgets will worsen the situation, and McCain voted for Bush’s budgets, 4 out of 5 times.

McCain: I will give a new direction to this economy.  I’m not President Bush.  If he wanted to oppose him, he should’ve run 4 years ago.  Mayor Bloomberg just put in a spending freeze in New York, so it can be done.  I’ll eliminate spending.  Obama voted for the last 2 budgets that Bush proposed (the only 2 that came up since he’s been in office!).  I have fought against spending and special interest.  When have you stood up to your party?  He’s getting good ratings, and I really think that he’s appealing to American people.

Obama: The first major bill I voted on was against tort reform.  I support charter schools.  I support clean coal technology.  I have a history of reaching across the aisle.  If I mistaken your policies for President Bush’s policies, it’s because on the core economic issues, taxes, spending, etc…, you’ve been a supporter of President Bush.  You’re been against him on stuff like torture, and I commend that, but for the majority, you want 8 more years of the same thing.

McCain: It’s been clear that I’ve disagreed with Bush and my party: climate change, opposition to earmarks, torture, conduct of the War in Iraq, Medicare prescription drugs, HMO patients’ bill of rights.  I have stood up to my party’s leadership.

Schieffer: Both of you promised to take the high road, but both campaigns have turned nasty.

McCain: This has been a very tough campaign.  If Obama had responded to my request to do town hall meetings, like he originally said, the tone of this campaign could’ve been better.  The tone of this campaign has taken a nasty turn.  I apologize for some of the negativity that has come out of my campaign.  I hope OBama will repudiate the remarks made by Congressman John Lewis.  Obama didn’t keep his word about taking public financing.  He’s getting high ratings from men here, but average ratings from women.

Obama: 2/3 of the American people think McCain’s running a negative campaign, versus 1/3 of the American people thinking that of mine.  100% of your ads have been negative (BULL CRAP!).  There’s nothing wrong with having a vigorous debate like we’re having now, but not having town hall meetings doesn’t justify the ads that have come out from your campaign and 527s.  I don’t mind being attacked for 3 weeks, but we can’t afford 4 more years of failed economic policies.  He’s actually getting negative ratings from women, and average from men here.  He’s really attacking McCain during a question about negativity in campaigns, and I think he’s really making himself look bad here.

McCain: If you turn on the television, every other ad was an attack ad on my health care policy, saying that I oppose federal funding for stem cells.  I don’t.  Obama is spending unprecedented amounts of money in negative attack ads on me.  Of course we’re talking about Joe the plumber and restoring jobs to America.  That’s what my campaign is all about.  Again, I didn’t hear a repudiation of Congressman Lewis.

Obama: Lewis, made a statement with what he was troubled with hearing some of the rallies that your running mate was holding.  People were yelling “terrorist” and “kill him,” and your running mate didn’t stop them.  I do think that he gave a good comparison between what’s happening now and the civil right’s movement.  What the Americans want is for us to focus on the challenges that we have now.  We have serious differences on health care.  When people bring up me being with terrorists, that’s not the issues.

McCain: Whenever you have big rallies, you’ll have fringe people, and that’s not appropriate.  But for the majority of people, they’re not saying anything negative.  These people are the most patriotic people in this nation (veterans and wives of veterans).  There’ve been thingsat your rallies that I’m not happy with either.  I have always repudiated out of line statements, and I will continue to do that, but we cannot stand for the things that have been going on.  I haven’t.

Schieffer: Do you take issue with that?

Obama: What I think is most important is that we recognize that in order to solve 2 wars, a financial crisis, creating jobs, then we all need to be able to work together.  “We need to disagree without being disagreeable.  What we can’t do is try to characterize each other as bad people.”

McCain: We need to know the full extent of Obama’s relationships with Ayers and ACORN.  If there’s nothing there, I don’t care about it, but we need to know what all went on there.

Obama: Mr. Ayers has become the centerpiece of McCain’s campaign.  Bill Ayers is a professor in Chicago.  40 years ago, he engaged in despicable acts.  “I have … condemned those acts.”  I served on a school board with him 10 years ago.  “Mr. Ayers is not involved in my campaign … and he will not advise me in the White House.”  ACORN: Apparently, they were paying people to get people registered to vote.  The only thing I did with them was represent them with some thing in Illinois – I didn’t catch it all.  I associate with Warren Buffet on economics.  On foreign policy, it’s Joe Biden or Dick Lugar, or General Jim Jones.  “Those are the people who have shaped my ideas and will be surrounding me in the White House.”

McCain: While you and Ayers were on that board, you gave money to ACORN, and you launched your campaign from Ayers living room.  In 2001, he said he’d wished he’d have bombed more.  We need to know all the details here.  And my (not McCain) view is that with Ayers – it’s no big deal if Obama’s honest.  With ACORN, there are some serious problems there – ACORN has supported Obama, and Obama has supported ACORN, and ACORN has shown to have some serious legal problems.

Schieffer: Why is your running mate better than his?

Obama: He’s been there a while – he knows what he’s doing, especially when it comes to foreign policy.  Biden has never forgotten where he came from.  He fights for the little guy.  He has always been fighting for working families.  “After 8 years of failed policies [we] will have to reprioritize … give tax cuts to small businesses … and individuals who are struggling.”  We need to become energy independent, and make sure that our kids afford can go to college.  Biden has always been on the right side of the issues.

McCain: Palin is a reformer.  She took on the old governor, who was part of her party.  She’s given money back to taxpayers and cut the size of the government.  “She is a reformer through and through, and it’s time that we have that breath of fresh air and sweep out” the old politics of Washington.  “She understand special needs families, and understands that autism is on the rise.”  She has united people all over America, and I’m proud of her.

Schieffer: Is she qualified to be President?

Obama: That’ll be up to the American people to decide.  Her work on special needs kids has been commendable.  He didn’t answer the question!  If we have an across-the-board spending freeze, special needs kids will suffer.

McCain (on Biden): Biden is experienced, but he’s had some bad foreign policy ideas, such as dividing Iraq into different countries, and we’ve seen Iraq become united as one country.  Every time Obama says we need to spend more.  Why can’t we have transparency of these government organizations.

Schieffer: Energy and climate control.  Presidents have said that we need to reduce our dependency on foreign oil.  Give us a number of how much you believe we can reduce foreign oil during your first term.

McCain: We can eliminate our dependence on Middle East countries and Venezuela.  Canadian oil is fine.  We need nuclear power plants, and that’ll be how we eliminate those 2 sources of foreign oil.  We need wind, tide, solar, gas, clean coal.  He’s getting huge ratings, and for good reason – it’s a good energy plan.  Especially the nuclear part!!!!

Obama: In 10 years, we can reduce our dependence so we don’t have to import oil from the Middle East or Venezuela.  “Nothing is more important than us borrowing … money from China and sending it to Venezuela.”  We need to expand domestic production, by telling oil companies, “Use them or lose them” in terms of oil fields being leased here in the U.S.  We need to drill offshore, but that won’t solve the problem.  We need wind, solar, biofuel.  We need efficient cars built here in America, not in Japan.  And he’s got good ideas too, but I WISH he would’ve said he wants nuclear power – nuclear power is safe (we use it on subs) and VERY efficient.  NAFTA didn’t have enforceable environmental agreements, and we should’ve included those.  When it comes to South Korea, we have an agreement with them, and they’re sending more cars here than we are to them.  That’s not free trade.

McCain: “Obama said, ‘We will look at offshore drilling.’  Did you catch that?  ‘Look at.'”  We need to do more than look at it, we need to do it.  AGREED!  Our businesses are paying money into Columbia, but because of previous agreements, they’re getting their goods into here for free.  We need a free trade agreement with Columbia, which Obama has opposed.  Obama hasn’t even travelled down there, and he doesn’t understand Columbia.

Obama: I understand it.  Labor leaders have been persecuted, and we need to stand for human rights.  Workers who are trying to organize for rights shouldn’t be persecuted, and that’s why I supported a free trade agreement with Peru.  When I talked about automakers, they’re getting hammered right now, not only because of gas prices, but with the financial crisis.  People can’t get car loans, so we need to get loan guarantees.  We need more efficient cars and cars of the future.  That’ll help create new jobs.  He’s getting VERY high ratings – he’s maxed out with women, and men are rating him high too.

McCain: Obama doesn’t want a free trade agreement with our best ally in the region, but wants to sit down with Hugo Chavez without preconditions.  Jobs and businesses will be created if we open up those markets.  Obama wants to restrict trade and raise taxes, and the last President who did that was Hoover.  We went from a deep recession to a depression.  I won’t let that happen.

Schieffer: Would you first lower health care costs, instead of providing more health care?

Obama: We need to do both.  My plan will allow you to keep your plan if you have health insurance.  We will lower costs so that cost savings are brought back to you.  If you don’t have insurance, you can buy into the same kind of federal pool that federal employees enjoy.  Insurance companies won’t be able to discriminate against people with preconditions.  Drugs will be lower, and we need to look at preventative care.  This will require more money up front, but will lower costs in the long run.  VERY high ratings at the end there.

McCain: Premiums and copays are going up, and health care costs are going up and inflicting pain on Americans.  We need walk in clinics and community health care centers.  We need nutrition and physical fitness programs in schools to keep kids healthy.  I want to give all American families a $5,000 tax credit.  Under Obama’s plan, if you have employees and they have kids, if you don’t have a health care plan, Obama will fine you.  I still haven’t heard what that fine will be.

Obama: Your fine will be $0.  I exempt small businesses for the requirement that large businesses have to provide health care.  Well, Senator Obama, what do you consider a small business???  The average family is paying higher premiums because of the uninsured.  I’ll give small businesses a 50% credit so they can afford it.  If not, you can buy into the plan I have.  McCain will give you the tax credit, but what will happen to older folks who can’t afford the health care plan?  McCain will tax the health care benefits you have from your employer, the first time in history this has ever happened.  Insurers right now are restricted statewide.  Those rules would be stripped away, and you’d see companies excluding people.

McCain: People like Joe are rich, because Obama said about him that we need to “spread the wealth,” so he’s rich enough that he would be fined.  Under my plan, people will be able to go across the country, giving them the chance to choose their futures.  “Senator Government–Senator Obama wants government to do the job.”  Senator Obama and the Democrats have been in charge the last 2 years, and things have gotten worse.

Obama: Under McCain’s plan, there’s a strong risk that you will lose your health care from your employer.  All I want to do is lower costs.

Schieffer: Could either of you nominate a Supreme Court Justice who disagrees with your view on Roe v. Wade.

McCain: I have never had a litmus test.  I think the Court decided incorrectly there, but I’m a Federalist – it should be left up to the states.  We need to nominate people based on qualifications, not if I agree with their ideology.  There should be no litmus test.  These nominees should be picked based on qualifications, who adhere to the Constitution, not people who legislate from the bench.  (But people who stick to the Constitution would oppose Roe v. Wade).  I’ll have no litmus test.

Obama: I’d agree that we shouldn’t have a litmus test.  Fairness and justice should be given to the American people.  It’s very likely that one of us will be making 1 or more appointments, and Roe v. Wade hangs in the balance.  I support the decision in Roe v. Wade.  I believe that women are in the best position to make this decision.  The Constitution has privacy built into it that shouldn’t be subject to state referendum or popular vote.  “I will look for those judges who have an outstanding record … intellect.”  McCain and I disagreed when the S.C. made it harder for some woman to bring suit for equal pay for women.  The Court said that she waited too long.  If a woman is being treated unfairly, the Court needs to stand up if nobody will.

McCain: You can’t waive the statute of limitation 20 to 30 years.  Senator Obama, as a member of the Illinois State Senate voted in the Judiciary Committee against a law that would provide medical attention to babies who were not successfully aborted (essentially passive infanticide).  Then he voted present on the floor.  He did the same with partial birth abortion.  Men are liking this, but women not so much.

Obama: That’s not true.  There was a bill put forward that said that you need life saving treatment that would undermine Roe v. Wade, but there was a law alreay on the books.  On partial birth abortion: I’m supportive of a ban on late term abortions as long as there’s an exception for the safety of the woman’s life.    Both men and women are rating him a bit above average now.  Surely there is some common ground, when both sides can come together and prevent unintended pregnancies.  Communicate that sex shouldn’t be engaged in carelessly.  Adoption choices should be out there.  Those things are now in the Democratic platform, for the first time ever.

McCain: “Health of the mother” has been stretched to mean almost anything (such as mental health in some cases).  Cindy and I are adoptive parents.  We need to promote adoption and protect the rights of the unborn.

Schieffer: A question about education and national security – I missed what all it was.

Obama: No nation has had a bad economy and a good military.  Education is a huge part of this.  We need better pay for teachers.  We need college to be more affordable.  We’ll offer an exchange of community/military service with money for college.  We can’t do this just in schools.  Parents need to show responsibility too – encourage thirst for knowledge.  And he’s absolutely right here.  It starts at home.  People rated him as high as they could.

McCain: Choice and competition among schools are some of the key elements – New York and New Orleans – where we find bad teachers another line of work.  We need to give parents a choice in sending kids to good schools.  Charter schools are one option.

Schieffer: Should the federal government play a larger role?

Obama: The states need to be in control, but the federal government needs to step in and help struggling local school districts.  Bush did this with No Child Left Behind, “but unfortunately, he left the money behind.”  That was a good line.  McCain and I agree on charter schools.  I think we need to encourage competition between schools.  Bad teachers need to be replaced.  “Our kids need to have the best future.”  We disagree on vouchers, and we disagree on college accessibility.  McCain doesn’t have programs that help college groups.  (That’s because he’ll simplify the tax code to make finding tax credits for college easier to find).

McCain: Vouchers need to be provided, because parents WANT vouchers.  They wanted to chose the schools where their children go (this was in Washington, D.C.).  As far as NCLB, it had its flaws and problems, but it’s the first time we looked at this from the national perspective.  Head Start is a great program.  It’s not doing what it should do, so we need to reform it and fund it.  We can’t just give more money, we need to reform it too.  We need transparency, rewards, and funding.  We’ll find and spend money to find the cause of autism, but to have a situation that the most expensive education is in America means that we also need reform.  We can’t throw money at a problem without reform.  Vouchers work.

Obama: On vouchers in D.C.  The D.C. school system is in terrible shape.  The superintendent there is doing a great job (McCain interjected that she supports vouchers).  There’s not proof that vouchers solve the problem.  We need a President who will tackle this head on.

McCain: Obama said that because there’s not enough vouchers, we shouldn’t have any.  That’s wrong.

Schieffer: Closing statements.

McCain: Thank you.  We need a new direction.  “We cannot be satisfied with what we’ve been doing for the last 8 years.”  I’ve been a reformer.  I’ve opposed my party.  I’ve been a good steward of your tax dollars.  We need to make health care and education affordable to all.  We need to stop this wild spending.  All of these promises made tonight will be made based on whether you trust us or not.  I ask you to examine both my record as well as my proposals for this country.  I’ve put my country first.  “It’s been a great honor of my life, and I’ve been proud to serve, and I hope you’ll give me the opportunity to serve again.  I’ll be honored, and humbled.”

Obama: Washington has been unwilling to address the problems.  We cannot adopt the policies of the last 8 years.  We need change.  You’ve invited me into your homes.  “Our brighter days are still ahead, but we have to invest in the American people.”  College needs to be more affordable.  Wages need to be higher, and we need to grow the middle class.  “It’s not gonna be easy.  It’s not gonna be quick.”  Republicans and Democrats will have to come together.  “If you give me the … honor of being President, I will work tireously and  honorably to ensure the future of our children.”

Bob Schieffer: As my mother would say: “Go vote now.  It’ll make you feel big and strong.”

McCain/Obama: Thank you (to each other).

Alright, overall, I think this was BY FAR the best debate we had.  I commend Bob Schieffer.  He was by far the best moderator we had.

Overall, I think McCain won this won.  This is the first time I’ve called a debate (other than the VP debate, where I called Biden the winner), and I think McCain won.  He was VERY strong toward the beginning.  I think Obama was weak at the beginning, but picked it up toward the end, but overall, I think that McCain was the winner.

Again, I think McCain was definitely stronger here.  I think Obama was too weak.  This was definitely the debate McCain needed, but I’m not sure that it’ll be enough for him to recover.

Done Analyzing,

Ranting Republican
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Don’t Put Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick In Jail for Violating His Bond …

August 10, 2008

… because it’s just too dang funny to watch him violate his bond over and over again.  But seriously, I would rather have him out of jail and committing more crimes, than kept in jail where he can’t commit any, and here’s why: I don’t trust Detroiters to remove him from office yet.  Normally I’d say throw him in jail, but I’ll make an exception for this case.  The more crimes he commits, the more likely it is that he gets the boot, and as long as he’s not harming anybody right now, I say let him continue to violate his bond.

I brought you the first story of his bond violation, but accusations have come out today that he talked to his sister, Ayanna Kilpatrick, and that violated his bond because he was banned from talking to any witnesses for his assault case (it was her house where he shoved the cop off the porch).

The more times he commits these bond violations, the more felonies he will get charged with, and that means he’ll (hopefully) be removed from office, whether that’s through the City Council, Governor Granholm, or the people of Detroit.

Keep him out to kick him out!

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Sharon McPhail, Aide to Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick Gets into Verbal Scuffle as She Ardently (and Obnoxiously) Defends Mayor

August 8, 2008

You know, every blogger at on point or another sees a story unfolding before him/her and thinks, “This is gonna make an incredible blog post,” and the news interview I saw today was exactly that.  Watch the following interview between WDIV’s (NBC-4) Devin Scillian and former Councilwoman turned Mayoral candidate turned Mayoral aide:

http://www.clickondetroit.com/video/17138172/index.html

I haven’t seen that much bull crap since – heck – I can’t figure out when I’ve seen that much bull crap.

That interview was so hilarious (yet sad) that I called my grandma (a hard-core liberal, but anti-Kwame advocate) halfway through the interview and said, “Grandma, turn on Channel 4.  Sharon McPhail’s making an idiot out of herself.”

Let’s look at some of what McPhail said:

  • Arguing that Windsor is “across the street” and should be treated as part of this country!  Come on – he broke the terms of his bond.  There’s no way that you can say he was justified in going to Windsor. (3:45)
  • Saying that a “bar member means nothing.”  Bull crap – he should’ve known better.  He DID know better.  If you can’t tell the legal difference between Windsor and Detroit, you shouldn’t have passed the bar.
  • On to my favorite part, the exchange about this being the media’s fault:
    Scillian: “Detroit is being splattered all over the headlines in very bad terms.  We’ve got a mayor whose spent the night in jail, the first time in 300 years that this city’s been in existence that that’s happened.”
    McPhail: “Here’s a thought: stop printing those headlines.”
    Scillian: “Ignore the truth?”
    McPhail: “No, I didn’t say ignore the truth, I said, “stop printing the headlines.’  I would really love it if people stopped ignoring the truth.”
    Scillian: “I’m confused.  Are you blaming the messenger?”
    McPhail: “You are, and that’s exactly the point. … you do not have to take the position that everybody else is wrong and you are right, because usually that’s not true.”
    Now, I’ve been one to criticize the media, and say they need to be put in their place every once in a while, but this was just crazy.
  • Arguing that the cops intentionally went to the mayor’s sister’s house to serve the subpoena on Ferguson.  They saw the vehicle, and hoped he was there.  Even IF they did it knowing whose house it was, that’s not illegal.
  • Scillian: “Sharon McPhail, it is always an experience talking to you.”

What a cocky, stubborn idiot.  I mean, the level of support for the mayor there is just incredibly sad.  Even after all he’s done, she supports him!  And her arguments are just incredibly stupid as well.  She really has come a long way from once running against the mayor.  The way she defends him, she’s acting like she’s sleeping with him too!

So, hopefully that provided you non-Detroiters some entertainment.  For you Detroiters, I’m sorry that you have to live with that.  I pray that this ends for you soon (hopefully our Governor will act on this – there’s a hearing coming up, I THINK next week).

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick Jailed for Going to Canada

August 7, 2008

Well, Kwame Kilpatrick has been sent to jail, after it was revealed that he went to Windsor, Ontario for a business trip, violating his bond.  Kwame apologized for the mistake in not telling the judge of the trip, saying, “I’ve been living in an incredible state of pressure and scrutiny.”  He said that he had gone to Windsor to discuss the sale of the tunnel between the U.S. and Canada, saying, “We got the deal back on track. … It wasn’t a spur of the moment, willy nilly, I can frolic in Canada.”

Prosecutor Robert Moran told the court, “It’s not serious to him that he’s a criminal defendant. … This court should be outraged.”  And that’s true.  This is all just more fun and games for Kwame.

36th District Court Judge Ronald Giles said, “What matters to me … is how the court overall is perceived and how if it was not Kwame Kilpatrick sitting in that seat, if it was John Six-Pack sitting in that seat, what would I do?  And that answer is simple.”

Kwame’s defense attorney, Jim Thomas, told reporters, “I think it’s the most extreme measure he can take,” as he headed to the circuit court a few blocks away to have the ruling overturned, but Circuit Judge Thomas E. Jackson asked for a transcript from Judge Giles, and said that he wouldn’t hear the case until tomorrow morning at 9:00 A.M., meaning that Kwame will spend the night in jail.

Thomas pleaded with Jackson to here the case today, but Jackson told Thomas, “I just gave you my answer.”

Meanwhile, Jim Parkman, said that the defense team would  attempt to try to get an electronic tether for Kilpatrick to keep him out of jail.  That also failed.

Kwame will NOT be kept in general population, due to the fact that he is a high-profile individual.

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy applauded the ruling, saying, “Judge Giles treated this defendant as any other defendant would have been treated.”

I think this is FINALLY justice for Detroiters.  Kilpatrick is finally being treated how he deserves to be treated – LIKE A CRIMINAL!

I’ll keep you updated as this case just keeps getting more interesting.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Michigan’s Enhanced Driver’s License Program Passes Legislation

March 3, 2008

On Febraury 28th, the Michgian Legislature passed bills (Senate Bill 966, introduced by Cameron Brown [R-Sturgis] and House Bills 5535 and 5536 introduced by Steve Tobocman [D-Detroit] and Ed Clemente [DINO-Lincoln Park], repectively) that would put Secretary of State Terry Lynn Land’s Enhanced Driver’s License Program into practice.

Here’s what the program outlines:

  • Create the Enhanced Driver License and Enhanced Official State Personal Identification Card Act.
  • Require that enhanced licenses and personal ID cards include security measures to protect against unauthorized disclosure of personal information.
  • Require an applicant for an enhanced driver’s license or ID card to provide documentation demonstrating his or her U.S. citizenship, full legal name, Social Security number, and other information.
  • Require the Secretary of State to verify the genuineness, regularity and legality of every application and other documentation submitted for an enhanced license or ID card.
  • Provide that a person who made a false certification or statement in applying for an enhanced driver’s license or state ID card would be guilty of a felony punishable by up to five years in prison.
  • Permit the Secretary of State to enter into a memorandum of understanding with any federal agency to obtain approval for an enhanced license or ID card as proof of identity when entering the U.S.

(Read more here: http://www.michigan.gov/sos/0,1607,7-127–186510–,00.html)

Representative Tobocman said that he sponsored the bill because “Michigan depends on the flexibility of same day travel that enables people to visit and spend dollars at local restaurants, casinos and businesses in Mexicantown, Greektown, and other attractions.  The legislation acknowledges the need for secure borders while minimizing obstacles to our vital trade partnership with Canada.”

I absolutely agree – although I have a passport, many people don’t, and this allows for a cheaper way to travel to Canada.  I should also point out that passport waiting periods are up to a couple of months now, so this is a way for people to get a document for international continental travel much quicker than waiting for a passport (although I’m sure that the lines at the Secretary of State are abou 10 times worse than they are at the Post Office).  This ALSO gets rid of the waste of time of having to drive to Walgreen’s (the only place I found who does passport pictures) to get your picture taken for the passport.

As far as I know, Governor Granholm has not yet signed the bill, but that may have changed today – I’m not sure, but I’ll try to find some information (as always, if you find something, leave a comment and you become my hero for the day).

Done Reporting,

Ranting Republican
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Analysis of Kosovo’s Declaration of Independence from Serbia

February 23, 2008

OK, so election stuff plus a research paper kept me from talking about this as it happened, but now let’s take a look back on all that’s happened.  On February 17th, 2008, the Autonomous Province of Kosovo declared their independence from Serbia.  Since then, some countries have weighed in (see below for the map).  Some Serbians rioted (1 assumed protester was found dead); our embassy in Belgrade got torched a little bit, causing all non-essential personnel to have to be evacuated to Agence France-Presse (apparently the world’s oldest news agency) – no biggie.

So, who recognizes the Republic of Kosovo as it’s own sovereign nation?  And should we?

Well, I say we absolutely should!  They were an oppressed region who the UN put under its control after the 1999 Kosovo War.  I think that for the people of Kosovo to be treated fairly, they HAD to secede.

According to a poll an unscientific ABC News poll on Facebook, 79% of people agree with me, 12% disagree, and 9% are unsure.  Some of the arguments I’ve heard are “What if Texas seceded?”  Well that’s different – Texas isn’t being oppressed.  (Not to mention that Texas could probably put up a heck of a fight.)

So, who says what about Kosovo?  Well, here’s a map from Wikipedia:

Admin edit – apparently Wikipedia updated it to just a recognizes / doesn’t recognize map. So here’s an updated version (this will update automatically as wikipedia updates it, so if you’ve visited this page and are coming back to it now, refresh [F5] to make sure that this map is up to date). The map above is the map version from when I originally posted this post, and the map below is the current map:

██ Kosovo

██ States which formally recognize Kosovo as independent.

██ States which have stated they intend to recognize formally Kosovo as independent.

██ States which have delayed or have expressed neutrality on recognition of Kosovo’s independence.

██ States which have expressed concern over unilateral moves or expressed wish for further negotiations.

██ States which have stated they will not recognize Kosovo as independent.

██ States with no reported position at present.

Now, let’s highlight some key countries:

  • The U.S. obviously supports it.
  • Essentially the entire former U.S.S.R. opposes it, and Russia is blocking its entry into the UN.
  • Costa Rica was the first (by local time) to recognize it – kinda odd.
  • Afghanistan was the first (by international time) to recognize it – again, seemed kinda odd.
  • Taiwan recognizes it, but Kosovo may not recognize them, in order to get China to side with them – this angered me a little, as I’ve always been a HUGE supporter of Taiwan, the TRUE China!  Here’s a quote from the Foreign Ministry: “We congratulate the Kosovo people on their winning independence and hope they enjoy the fruits of democracy and freedom. […] Democracy and self-determination are the rights endorsed by the United Nations. The Republic of China always supports sovereign countries’ seeking democracy, sovereignty and independence through peaceful means.”
  • The British Kingdom (with the exception of Canada and South Africa) seems to have supported Kosovo.
  • Obviously Serbia doesn’t.
  • Oddly, Bosnia says not in the near future – most other countries who have seceded or are trying to have sided with Kosovo, so I thought they would.
  • Vietnam doesn’t – who didn’t guess that one.
  • China expressed “grave concern” (thus Kosovo’s reluctance to acknowledge Taiwan, since China is also a member of the UN Security Council).
  • South Korea is in favor of recognition, but still somewhat skeptical.
  • The Organization of the Islamic Conference backs Kosovo.
  • The International Olympic Committee does not plan on recognizing them.
  • The Basque Country, Catalan Government, Chechnya, Crimea, and Transnistria (at least their minister) all support Kosovo.
  • Western Sahara is bitter, because Kosovo was so quickly recognized and they weren’t.
  • Canada is in a pickle.  Their motherland, England has sided with Kosovo, but if they side with Kosovo, that sends a HUGE message to Quebec which has been trying to break free from the U.S. state of (I’m kidding – it’s a joke, so don’t get all offended about it) Canada for quite a while now.

So, go Kosovo! (and they’d better not change the name to Kosova – I’ve heard rumors and that’d be stupid).

 

Done Supporting FREEDOM,

Ranting Republican
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Royal Canadian Mounted Police TASER Man in Vancouver, “Resulting” in His Death

November 17, 2007

OK, here’s a link to a news story about it – if you want the whole video, go to YouTube and look it up (my apologies, I had originally triedto embed a CBC news story about it, but it didn’t work, but I thought it had, so I lost the link.  Here’s my alternate video clip):

Here’s my thoughts: should the RCMP tried to get an interpreter?  Yes.  Was he a threat?  Maybe – he was obviously not with it – he was throwing things in an airport, and with today’s threats, you can’t take chances.

Now – the big question, did the TASER kill him (as many anit-TASER advocates claim)?  NO!  This is what really bugs me – people who are against police brutality are using this as evidence for their cause against TASERs, but what they don’t realize is that a TASER would kill the man instantly.  If you are electrocuted, you don’t die minutes later, you die instantly of cardiac arrest (and it’s obvious that he didn’t, because he was TASERed twice).

My theory is that he was already way to stressed (he’s throwing stuff in an airport – something’s wrong) – and the arrest put him over the edge, leading to a heart attack.  Are the police partially to blame?  Yes.  Is it murder, no.  So although I don’t defend the RCMP’s actions, I don’t think they did anything worthy of being criminally charged, and I DEFINITELY think that TASERs should still be used.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican


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