Posts Tagged ‘Fine’

Michigan Legislature Needs to Get to Work on Permanent Budget

October 5, 2009

Last week, Michigan saw its second government shutdown in the state’s history.  In the history of this country, only two other states have had government shutdowns because of a budget crisis, and Michigan is the only state to have more than one shutdown.  What’s even more sad is that the 2 shutdowns came only 2 years apart.

I ended up watching most of the late-night sessions last week, as I followed the budget crisis, and while there were some humorous segments (such as “I can count!” coming from the chairman of the Senate), most of what I saw was just sad – it’s sad that the Michigan legislature can’t pass a budget on time.

So why does Michigan have problems passing a budget?  There has been a fundamental failure in leadership, as well as the overall impacts of having the state in such a poor economic state.

Michigan is essentially the same position as it was for the 2007 shutdown: a Democratic Governor with terrible economic policies, a Democratic-controlled House of Representatives with Andy Dillon (D-Redford) as Speaker of the House waiting until it is too late to work on the budget, and a Republican-controlled Senate who tried to get the budget done on time, but was unable to overcome the incompetency of the House.

In both the 2007 and 2009 shutdowns, work on the budget started too late, and many legislators (including Republicans) weren’t committed to finishing the budget on time.

While portions of the budget were being passed by the Senate late Tuesday night, the House had already recessed for the day.  We saw the same thing in 2007: Andy Dillon would go would only have the House in session once or twice a week over the summer, and he even took a five-day weekend trip to Mackinac Island after acknowledging that the state was facing a budget crisis.

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop (R-Rochester) had been getting Senate budget bills passed and sent over to the House faster than House bills were coming to the Senate.

But this isn’t to say that all Republicans were trying to finish the budget on time or that all Democrats were uninterested in finishing on time.  While the Senate Republicans seemed to generally work harder as the deadline got closer, NOBODY was working hard enough in the month and weeks beforehand.  Instead of passing a budget 2 hours into the government shutdown, the legislature should be passing a budget weeks or even months beforehand.

Representative Tim Bledsoe (D-Grosse Pointe) has suggested that the Michigan Constitution be amended to require the budget be done by July 1st, and legislators wouldn’t get paid after that date until a budget was passed.  Bledsoe told the Detroit Free Press, “We’ve had every opportunity to get this work done earlier in the year.  There’s no excuse to be moving the budget as late as we did.”

Senator Hansen Clark (D-Detroit) has suggested fining legislators $1,000 a day for each day after the fiscal year that a budget isn’t completed, with the Speaker of the House and Senate Majority Leaders paying $3,000.  He told reporters, “Even though many of us work long hours, we don’t have the same incentives as other sectors of the work force.  Typically, our incentive would be to do a good job so we can get re-elected, but apparently that’s not enough. … The leaders have to be accountable for results.  If you don’t perform the core mission of your job, and that’s to enact a balanced budget … there should be a penalty.”

Former Majority Leader Ken Sikkema (R) said that the problems run deeper than just legislators not cracking down in time: “The gap between revenue and spending is so large that there isn’t any structural issue that can compensate for it.  It’s a much deeper issue that legislators don’t want to deal with.  Michigan as a state can’t continue the level of spending it’s enjoyed for many years.  The economy has downsized underneath it.  Until you change the tax structure and the spending process, this kind of paralysis is likely to continue.  There is no process change that is going to make this a rational, timely, decision-making process.  Until there are fundamental changes, you can’t avoid this kind of chaos.”

And in part, I would agree with that.  The Democrats in the legislature have refused to accept that spending cuts are an inevitable result of the state’s deficit.  Taxes can only be raised so many times and only to a certain level, and when you’ve exhausted that option, you have to cut spending.  Michigan is not in a position to raise taxes.  Businesses won’t come to Michigan if we raise taxes, and we’ve even seen film companies come to Michigan now that we have a tax credit for film companies.  Raising taxes is only going to hurt the economy more and drive more people out of the state.

Fortunately, an interim budget was passed and signed by Governor Granholm only 2 hours into this year’s shutdown, but we aren’t in the clear yet.  The legislature gavels into session tomorrow, and a permanent budget still needs to be passed for the new fiscal year.  Unless legislators understand that spending cuts are not and option, but a necessity, and that they have to start cracking down and getting to work, we will wind up seeing a full government shutdown when the interim budget expires.

And we need to learn from our mistakes – this cannot happen in 2010.  It’s just unacceptable.  Fortunately, 2010 is an election year, and lawmakers will be trying to pass a budget on time so that they can get reelected, but unless things change, we will see ourselves back in this same position in 2011.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican

2 Michigan Teens Arrested for Throwing Rocks at Cars

December 18, 2008

Yesterday, 2 cousins from Eastpointe, Michigan, both high school freshmen, were arrested for throwing rocks on cars driving along I-94 in Saint Clair Shores.  The teens claimed that they did it because they were bored of playing  video games.  In all, 16 cars were damaged, and in addition to probably paying for the damage, the teens have been charged as juveniles with malicious destruction of property.  Here’s a FOX 2 video report on the incident:

Now, these teens should have known better.  And they did know better.  Freshmen in high school aren’t stupid.  If you drop a rock on a car, that’s going to shatter the windshield if it hits it (as it did) or put a dent in the metal.  What happens when your windshield shatters?  Somebody could die.  And people have died in the past.

These teens need to be taught a lesson and need to be given a strict punishment.  Michigan Compiled Laws Chapter 750.377a (Act 328 of 1931) states:

750.377a Willful and malicious destruction of property; personalty.

Sec. 377a.

(1) A person who willfully and maliciously destroys or injures the personal property of another person is guilty of a crime as follows:

(a) If any of the following apply, the person is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than 10 years or a fine of not more than $15,000.00 or 3 times the amount of the destruction or injury, whichever is greater, or both imprisonment and a fine:

(i) The amount of the destruction or injury is $20,000.00 or more.

(b) If any of the following apply, the person is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than 5 years or a fine of not more than $10,000.00 or 3 times the amount of the destruction or injury, whichever is greater, or both imprisonment and a fine:

(i) The amount of the destruction or injury is $1,000.00 or more but less than $20,000.00.

(c) If any of the following apply, the person is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than 1 year or a fine of not more than $2,000.00 or 3 times the amount of the destruction or injury, whichever is greater, or both imprisonment and a fine:

(i) The amount of the destruction or injury is $200.00 or more but less than $1,000.00.

(d) If the amount of the destruction or injury is less than $200.00, the person is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than 93 days or a fine of not more than $500.00 or 3 times the amount of the destruction or injury, whichever is greater, or both imprisonment and a fine.

I’m guessing that most of the damage is going to fall under subsection (c), meaning that the teenagers could face  up to 1 year in prison or a fine of $2,000 (since I’m guessing that most of the repairs won’t be more than a few hundred dollars).

Personally, I’d be locking both of them up for 16 years (as long  as all the damage was over $200 for each car).  They knew better, and they need to pay, in both a criminal and civil court (civil court would be where the teens would have to pay for the damage, probably around $500/windshield if it’s totally busted, so they’re looking at a few thousand dollars depending on what all was done to the different cars).

Make an example out of these teens to show that you don’t play around with dangerous stuff like this.

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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Live Analysis of the October 7th Presidential Debate

October 7, 2008

Alright, we’re about 3 minutes away from tonight’s Presidential debate.  This one will be held in Belmont University in Nashville, TN.  Tonight, I’ll again be watching CNN and  the focus group will be undecided voters in Ohio (this time it’ll be broken up by men and women).  Tonight’s moderator will be NBC’s Tom Brokaw.

Alright, we’re now starting.

Allen Shaffer: “What’s the fastest solution to bail out” citizens, from economic turmoil?

Obama: We’re in the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, and many of you are worried.  This is the final burden on the failed economic policies of the last 8 years.  McCain agreed with Bush, and stripped regulations, and now we’re paying for it.  Step 1: Make sure last week’s rescue package succeeds.  Come on Obama, it won’t – the package sucked!  The focus group is liking this.  Step 2: Tax cuts for citizens.  Help people stay in their homes.  Help states create jobs.  Health care.  Have politicians thinking about middle class.  Women really loved him, and men were pretty high up there too.

McCain: Americans are angry and upset and fearful.  I have a plan to fix this problem: energy independence.  Don’t send money to countries who don’t like us.  “Let’s not raise taxes on anybody–today.”  What was that – what was that “today” – that sounded bad.  “We’re gonna have to do something about home values.”  People can’t afford mortgage payments (well, that’s mainly their fault).  Have government buy up bad mortgages so people can pay them off – come on McCain – that plan sucks.  People had been liking him a lot there (more men than women), but it dropped down a bit toward the end.

Brokaw: Who would you appoint to Treasury Secretary?

McCain: Not you Tom.

Brokaw: With good reason.

McCain: Somebody who people can connect with.  Meg Whitman – CEO of some company – oh – Ebay.

Obama: Warren Buffett would be a good person, but there are others as well.  McCain said, “The fundamentals of the economy are sound.”  That’s because they are.  The principles of our economy, and the American work ethic is sound.

Oliver Clark: How will the bailout bill help people?

McCain: “You described bailout, I believe it’s rescue.”  I left my campaign to go back to Washington to make sure that there were protections for the taxpayer – oversight and a way to pay back taxpayers.  Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are what lit this thing on fire, and many hadn’t heard of them before this crisis.  Democrats in Congress defended what Fannie and Freddie did while they got money from the two.  Obamagot the second highest amount of money from Fannie and Freddie.  Fannie and Freddie started this forest fire.  And he’s not doing to well with the focus group during that, although it came up toward the end.

Obama: Right now, the credit markets are frozen, so small businesses can’t get loans, and can’t make payroll, so they may have to lay people off.  “That’s why we had to take action.”  The biggest problem in this whole thing was the deregulation of the financial system.  I argued for more regulation, but nothing happened.  I never promotedFannie, but McCain’s somebody on his campaign–was something with Fannie Mae (I didn’t catch the whole statement).  The President has to make sure that the homeowners are protected.  He got pretty good ratings there.

Brokaw: Are you saying it’ll get worse before it gets better?

Obama: No, I am confident in the American economy.  Isn’t that what McCain said when he said the fundamentals are strong?  HYPOCRITE!  He got great ratings there.

McCain: It depends on what we do.  If we stabilize it and buy up bad loans, and get rid of special interests in Washington, we can fix our economy.  Our workers are the best in the world.  They’re the fundamental aspect of our economy.  “We gotta give them a chance to do their best. … They’re the innocent bystanders of” this crisis.

Teresa Finch: “How can we trust either of you with our money when both parties got us into this global economic crisis?”

Obama: I understand your crisis and cynicism.  “You’re right, there is a lot of blame to go around. … But remember, when George Bush came into office, we had a surplus … now we have a deficit.”  We’ve almost doubled our deficit.  Nobody is completely innocent.  I’m going to spend money on key issues that we have to work on, health care and energy.  Ratings are really high here.  Invest in college affordability.  “I’m cutting more than I’m spending.”  And men just plummeted in their ratings there.  And what exactly is he planning on cutting?

McCain: “The system in Washington is broken.”  I’ve been a reformer and crossed the aisle, working with Senator Feingold on campaign finance reform.  “The situation today cries out for bipartisanship. … Let’s look at our records as well as our rhetoric.”  Obama is proposing 860 billion dollars of new spending, and voted for every increase of spending that came across the floor.  He voted for nearly a billion dollars in pork barrel spending, including a projector for a planetarium in Illinois.  We need to get Americans working again, and get more jobs for Americans.  We need nuclear power.  We need to stop depending on foreign oil.  Ratings were pretty bad there, but came up at the end.  McCain was right – Obama’s earmarks are just atrocious.

Brokaw: Health care, energy, and entitlement reform – order of priorities?

McCain: Do all 3 at once.  We won’t be able to provide same benefits for future retirees as we are able to today.  I’ve worked across the aisle.  We can work on nuclear power plants, create new jobs.  We need alternative fuels, wind, tide, solar, natural gas, clean coal.  Health care – everyone is struggling to make sure they can afford their premiums.  We can do these all at once, and we have to do them all at once.

Obama: Your list of priorities.  Energy, we have to deal with today.  Gas is expensive, and it may go up.  Some countries like Russia, Venezuela, and Iran are gaining from high oil prices.  In 10 years, we need to be free of foreign oil.  Just like Kennedy said we can go to the moon in 10 years, this can be done.  That was a great analogy!  I missed what he just said.  I want to go line-by-line and eliminate programs in the federal government, and eliminate programs that don’t work, and make others cheaper.  Women are rating him really high now.  Money given to big oil companies, which McCain wants, takes money out of the system.  Don’t mislead, Obama, he wants to give tax cuts to ALL companies, but that doesn’t exclude oil companies.

Brokaw: What are you gonna ask Americans to sacrifice to get out of the depression?

McCain: Talking about defense contracts that were done corruptly.  Get rid of earmarks, and some of those are “good” projects, but they have to be eliminated still.  Except for Defense, Veterans Affairs, and other crucial programs, we will have to have a spending freeze.  Keep everything transparent.  Don’t allow for the government to hide earmarks.

Obama: After September 11, everybody came together, and President Bush did some smart things at the outset.  We need leadership to focus on problems inside and outside of government.  We need to think about how we use energy – we need to tell oil companies to start drilling and invest in clean coal technology.  We need to think of ways that we can conserve energy, and provide incentives to buy American cars that are fuel efficient.  The young people of America want to serve, and we need to increase the Peace Corps.  Ratings were really high there, especially among women.

Brokaw: President Bush last summer said Wall Street got drunk.  Now many think that both Washington and consumers also got drunk.  How do you get people to reduce easy credit and overspending?

Obama: We have to cut spending and increase revenue.  There are $18 billion in earmarks, but McCain wants to give tax cuts to CEOs, and that’s not sharing the burden.  Actually, it IS sharing the burden – it’s sharing it equally.  All of us need to contribute and make sacrifices.  We don’t need an across-the-board freeze.  That way, we only help those who need it.

McCain: Obama wants to raise taxes.  The last President who raised taxes during hard times was Herbert Hoover.  We’ve lost 700,000 jobs in America, but300,000 jobs have been created by small businesses.  Obama’s tax increases will increase taxes on over 50% of small businesses, meaning that jobs will have to be cut.  Obama said he’d fore go his tax increases if the economy was bad.  The economy is bad.  I don’t want to increase tax cuts.  I want to leave tax cuts alone, but give tax credits to people, and give credits for health care.  Let’s get our economy going again.

Obama just tried to keep going and Brokaw shut him up!  YEAH!

Brokaw: Would you tell Congress to do something about Social Security and Medicare within 2 years?

Obama: We won’t solve Social Security and Medicare without solving tax problems.  I want to provide a tax cut for 95% of Americans.  THAT’S A LIE!  ONLY 90% of Americans even make enough money to PAY taxes!  We provide a 50% tax credit to small businesses to buy healthcare.  And the ratings are really high here, again, especially with women.  McCain wants to give tax cuts to large corporations and the rest going to CEOs.  “That is not fair, and it doesn’t work.”  If we reverse the policies of the last 8 years, then we can deal with Social Security and Medicare, because we’ll have a health care plan that works for you.

McCain: “Hey, I’ll answer the question.”  It’s not that tough to fix social security – we have to sit down and fix this together.  Reagan and Tip O’Neill sat down and worked together.  Have a commission come together withrecommendations.  Then have Congress vote up or down, and not fool with it.  Obama has voted to increase taxes and voted against tax cuts.  I have fought to reform government.  “We’ll get our economy going again, and our best days are ahead of us.”

Ingrid Jackson: Congress moved pretty fast with the economic crisis.  How would you make sure they move fast with environmental issues?

McCain: “When we have an issue that we may hand our children a damaged planet–I have disagreed strongly with the Bush Administration.”  We brought this issue to the Senate.  We need nuclear power.  Nuclear power is safe and clean, and creates hundreds of thousands of jobs.  My liberal roommate’s getting mad that the focus group doesn’t like this: “These voters suck.”  And the ratings went up a bit at the end there.

Obama: “It is absolutely critical.”  We need to create a new energy economy.  We need to understand that this is a national security issue.  I favor nuclear power as one component.  OK, the focus group does suck.  They’re now rating him high, and he’s saying basically what McCain said.  The focus group seems kinda biased.  McCain’s problem withenergy is that he hasn’t done anything with alternative fuels.  It’s easy to talk about this stuff, but McCain hasn’t done anything.  McCain talks about drilling, and that’s important, but there’s not enough here at home to “drill our way out of the problem.”

Brokaw: Do we need a Manhattan-like project to deal with the energy crisis?

McCain: We need government involvement initially, and then once it’s started, release it to the private sector.  Obama (this is where he said “that one”) voted for a bill that Bush/Cheney backed with lots of money for oil companies, and I voted against it.

Lindsey Trella: Health care has become a profitable industry.  Should health care be treated as a commodity?

Obama: Health care is a very important issue.  Premiums have doubled over the last 8 years, and co-pays have increased as well.  We have a moral and economic imperative to do something about this.  Here’s what I would do: you can keep your plan if you like it, and we’ll work with your employer to lower your premiums.  We’ll work on making forms electronic, instead of on paper.  You’ll be able to have the same health care plan that Congress gets.  McCain has a different approach.  He’ll give you a $5,000 tax credit, but then tax your employer health care benefits.  He’ll then take out regulations that states have that make sure that you get certain things covered under your insurance.

McCain: You’ve identified one of the major challenges that America faces (directed to the audience member).  We need to impose efficiencies.  There’s a fundamental difference between me and Obama.  Obama will pose mandates.  If you’re a small business owner or parent, and you can’t afford health care for your employees or children, Obama will fine you.  How does that help the situation?  He’s ABSOLUTELY RIGHT!  How will that help you if you can’t afford health care already?  95% of Americans will have increased funds to get health care under my plan, except the really rich people.

Brokaw: Is health care a privilege, right, or responsibility?

McCain: Responsibility.  The government shouldn’t mandate that health care must be provided to all.  There shouldn’t be fines for these companies or parents, and Obama hasn’t said how much the fine is yet.

Obama: Right, for every American.  Talking about his mother dying at 53, and arguing with insurance companies.  He’s really rating high right now.  If you have a plan that you like, you can keep it, I’ll just help lower the premium.  Small businesses won’t have a mandate, they’ll get a 50% tax credit.  We don’t want kids going to ERs for treatable illnesses like asthma.  McCain voted against (something dealing with children and health care).  Crack down on insurance companies cheating their companies.  The problem with going across state lines is that companies will go to states that have laxed laws and cheat their customers, like banks do in Delaware.  DID HE JUST USE HIS RUNNING MATE’S STATE AS A BAD EXAMPLE!!!

Phil Elliot: How will our economic distress affect our position in the standing of the world militarily?

McCain: Much of the criticism of our foreign policy is justified.  We are peace makers and keepers.  We need to know when to go in and when not.  That question can only be answered by someone who understands these things.  We need to prevent the spread of genocide.  He’s rating really high here.  My opposition to sending Marines to Lebanon, and my stance on Bosnia, Russia, and others show that I understand these things.  Obama has been on the wrong side of some of these issues.

Obama: I don’t understand how we invaded Iraq when bin Laden is still free.  McCain said that Iraq would be quick and easy.  We’re spending money in Iraq when Iraq has a surplus.  We need that money more than them, and they have a surplus.  We are the greatest nation in the world, but we can’t maintain our military superiority if our economy continues to decline.  He is right about that.  We need to fundamentally change our foreign policy.

Brokaw: Let’s establish doctrines for using force when national security isn’t at stake, but in humanitarian issues?

Obama: Would’ve stopped Rwanda and the Holocaust.  When we stand idly by as genocide occurs, that diminishes us.  We should intervene when possible, but we can’t be everywhere all the time.  We need to work in concert with our allies, such as in Darfur.  We need to lead the international community.

McCain: If we had withdrawn from Iraq when Obama wanted to, it would have been a travesty.  Genocide is terrible, and we never want it to happen again.  We need a person who understands the limits of our capabilities.  We went into Somalia being peace makers, but had to withdraw in humiliation.  I stood up against Reagan with Lebanon.  We have to be able to beneficially affect the situation, realizing that we’re sending Americans into harm’s way.  I won’t make these decisions lightly.  We can’t have another Holocaust or Rwanda, but we can’t make the situation worse.

Katie Hamm: Should we respect Pakistani sovereignty and allow terrorists to stay there or invade like we did with Cambodia during Vietnam?

Obama: We got distracted from Afghanistan and Al Qaeda, and went to Iraq.  They’re now stronger now than any time since 2001.  They’re plotting to kill Americans right now.  We need to end the war in Iraq, put troops into Afghanistan, eliminate drug trafficking, and change policies with Pakistan.  We need to encourage democracy, and if we have bin Laden in our sights, and Pakistan won’t or can’t take him out, we will take him out.  That’s our number 1 national security priority.

McCain: Obamawants to announce when we’re going to attack Pakistan.  It’ll turn public opinion against us.  We drove Russians out of Afghanistan with Afghani freedom fighters, and that led to bin Laden coming to power.  General Petraeushad a strategy of getting the support of the Pakistani people, and working with them to get Al Qaeda.  Don’t threaten to attack them, but talk with them.

Obama: Nobody called for the invasion of Pakistan, but to strike inside of Pakistan if bin Laden is available to be taken out.  And I agree with Obama here on this one.  McCain IS twisting his words, and not taking bin Laden out when Clinton happened is one of the things that led to September 11th.  Pakistan was not promoting democracy, and it undermined our fight on the war on terrorism.

McCain: I have supported efforts that the U.S. had to go in militarily, but opposed it when it wasn’t necessary.  I was joking with a veteran about Iran (Obama used McCains “Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran” quote).  I will act responsibly as I have through my military career.

Brokaw: In Afghanistan, the senior British Commander has said that we’re failing in Afghanistan.  The Afghans need to take over.  We need an acceptable dictator.  What’s your opinion?

Obama: We need to withdraw from Iraq responsibly, and make the Iraqis take control so that we can put more troops into Afghanistan.

McCain: The same overall strategies between Afghansitan and Iraq are the same.  We need more troops, like Obama is saying.  Obama still won’t admit that the surge worked, and that’s the same strategy that we will need in Afghanistan.  Once they feel secure, they can lead normal lives, the same thing that’s happening in Iraq today.  And he’s absolutely right here.

Brokaw: How can we get Russia to behave better without starting another Cold War?

McCain: We won’t have another Cold War.  I warned about Vladimir Putin a long time ago – I saw a “K,” a “G,” and a “B.”  He was wrong with Georgia.  Ukraine is in Russia’s sights now (it’s in the sights of the Somalians too – that whole pirate thing is just weird).  We need to talk, such as in the G8 summits.  Russia must realize that this is not acceptable, and we need economic and diplomatic means to show that that this is not acceptable.  Really high ratings there, and he’s absolutely right.

Obama: Russia will be an issue that we’ll have to deal within the next 4 years.  I agree with Senator McCain on most of that.  We can’t just have diplomacy.  We need to support, financially, former U.S.S.R. countries, such as Georgia, Estonia, Latvia, etc.  Georgia is suffering, and that’s probably what Putin wanted to happen.  Russia was trying to obtain territories, and this is unacceptable.  We need to be proactive, not reactive.  He is right here – we have to be a step or 2 ahead of Russia.  Energy will be key in dealing with Russia, that’s one of the things that happened in Georgia’s situation.

Brokaw: Is Russia under Putin an evil empire?

Obama: No, but their actions are sometimes.

McCain: If I say yes, it reignites the Cold War.  If I say no, it seems like I’m ignoring it.  Energy is a key issue.  My liberal roommate just said that both want to say yes, but it’d be political suicide to do so.

Terry Shirey: If McCain attacks Israel, would you send troops or wait for UN Security Council approval?

McCain: We wouldn’t wait, because Russia and China would pose obstacles to sending troops.  Iran with nukes is a threat to the stability of the Middle East – other countries would acquire nukes.  Obama would meet with them without preconditions.  I would impose tough sanctions, and we can abridge their behavior, and hopefully they’ll abandon this quest for nukes.  We can never allow a second Holocaust to take place.

Obama: We cannot a nuclear Iran.  “It would be a game changer in the region.”  It would threaten Israel – one of our strongest allies.  As well, it would lead to nukes in the hands of terrorists.  I will never take military action off the table.  If we can work more effectively with more other countries to tighten sanctions, we should.  He’s getting rated higher, but said the same things as McCain – the focus group is biased folks.  Neither of them answered the question about if Iran ATTACKED Israel.  When we stopped talkingwith Iran, their nuclear pursuance increased, as did North Korea’s when we stopped talking.

Brokaw: What don’t you know, and how will you learn it?

Obama: It’s the challenges that we don’t expect that consume most of our time.  I wouldn’t be standing here if my country hadn’t given me great opportunity.  The question in this election is will we pass on this same American dream?  That dream has diminished – people are losing health care and going bankrupt.  Kids can’t afford college.  We can’t keep doing the same for the next 8 years.  We need fundamental change.  Really good ratings there!

McCain: I think what I don’t know is what’s gonna happen both here at home and overseas.  What I don’t know is what the expected will be.  I know what it’s like in dark times.  I know what it’s like to fight and hope through dark times.  “I know what it’s like to have your comrades and neighbors reach out to you and put you back in the fight.  That’s what America’s all about.”  It’s been my privilege to serve this country, and I’m asking for an opportunity to serve you more.  I’ve always put my country first.  Good ratings at the end, but not as good as Obama’s.

Brokaw, thank you… “You’re in the way of my script.”  Thank you, and goodnight from Nashville.

Alright, overall, I thnk that both candidates performed pretty poorly.  Overall, I can’t really pick a winner.  I hate doing this again, like I did after the last debate, but I’m going to have to call this one a tie.  McCain wasn’t as strong on foreign policy as he could’ve been (and that’s his strong point).  On economic issues, he had some good plans but he didn’t seem to appeal to the average Joe citizens.  The media has been commenting on McCain calling Obama “That one” when he was talking about Obama voting for money given to oil companies (and I’ve put it in italics in the text above).  Apparently it caught some people as awkward.  The consensus on CNN was that it was intended as “that one” versus “this one” (meaning “me” from McCain’s stand point).  Sure it was maybe bad wording, but I don’t think it was anything to get worked up about (and again, my liberal roommate agrees here).  Look, politicians use poor choices of words all the time.  I’m not saying McCain should’ve said it, but it’s nothing that people need to complain about.

Also, Obama seemed to get a little overconfident at the end, and he was stuttery at times.

Both candidates wanted to violate the rules of the debate, and just keep talking.  I think Brokaw needed to do a better job of moderating.  Instead of just saying, “You didn’t stop when the red light turned on,” he should’ve said, “Your time is up.”

At some points, some of McCain’s humor was just sucky (kinda like my fathers at times – he’ll tell these lame jokes when he’s doing announcements at church that he’s got this reputation, and people just kinda laugh to humor him, and the fact that he’s tried to tell a joke becomes the joke – it’s not always a bad thing, but it was with McCain).

Again, I do think that this was a tie, and this was one that McCain could not afford to lose.  McCain is going to need a couple small miracles to actually come back from where he’s at now.  I’m not giving up hope, but it’s definitely Obama’s race to lose at this point.

CNN just released a poll – Obama gained favoribility and lost unfavorability, but McCain stayed the same on both.  Overall, those polled thought Obama won (56%-30%).

Done Analyzing,

Ranting Republican
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Cop Fined $18,000 After Arresting On-Duty Firefighter

February 17, 2008

Well, this story just enraged me.  Here’s a 2003 video of Hazelwood, Missouri, police officer Todd Greeves arresting a Robertson Fire Protection District Captain (whose name I can’t find anywhere – if anybody has it, leave a comment and I add you to my list of those I adore forever) David Wilson (a huge thanks to my reader Roger Jollie for finding an article with Wilson’s name in it.  Roger, you’re my most adored reader, until the next time something like this happens), while the firefighter is working on scene at an accident in order to rescue Joe Mack (again, thank you to Roger Jollie for this info):

In Missouri, firetrucks can park wherever they want, whenever they want, but police officers are the one grouop that can overtrump their decision in where to park.  Personally, I’ve seen enough videos of cops getting hit or almost hit while on the side of the road, that I think that it’s worth backing traffic up for 2 hours if it helps save a life.  Limiting traffic one more lane isn’t that bad when you’re protecting the victims, the police, and the firemen.

I think it’s great that this cop was fined $18,000, and he needs to either be fired or put on desk work, but he just does not have the judgment to be working out in the field – it’s obvious that he can’t be trusted to not abuse his power.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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