Archive for Republicans

A Taxing Contradiction

Posted in current events with tags , , , , on August 27, 2010 by Kyle Fleming

Taxes are interesting. They come out of our paychecks every day, and no one is really sure where they go. Some complain that there are too many taxes, because their paychecks don’t give them much. Others think that taxes should be gone forever, because they don’t really do anything.

Taxes are only a hot-button issue these days because the tax cuts for the rich from the Bush Presidency are about to expire. Some politicians are saying that it will be crucial that these tax cuts expire, as it will help to stimulate the economy. Others say that it is foolish to introduce more taxes in such an unstable economy.

Even the Tea Party is hopping on the bandwagon, calling for the elimination of taxes. “Taxed Enough Already,” read the signs, in a call to reduce wasteful government spending by reducing the amount of money they can waste.

What everyone seems to be ignoring should be a common sense thing: taxes are crucial to running America, and a lot of America is in shambles because there isn’t enough money to do anything.

Taxes pay for pretty much everything that we take for granted. A short list of things that taxes pay for:

  • Public Schools
  • Road Maintenance
  • Street Lights
  • Medicare
  • Unemployment
  • Emergency Room Care
  • Public Transit
  • Social Security
  • Police
  • Fire Department
  • Ambulances
  • Military
  • Garbage Services
  • Utilities
  • Prisons

And those are things that I came up with off the top of my head. There are probably so many other things that our taxes pay for that we don’t even realize pay for.

What’s really sad about this whole thing is that many politicians feel that it’s some big insult that people who make more should pay more in taxes. It makes me wonder if anyone is thinking any more.

The “American Dream” might be to make a bunch of money and have that be your measure of success, but if it is at the expense of my fellow American, then I’m done chasing the dream.

People who make more money should be expected to help out more than those who are hovering around the poverty line. It’s idiotic thinking to assume that by having a lot of money you’re just free to keep all of that. If I had that much money to spare, I would donate whole, multi-million dollar paychecks toward taxes.

There are roads around the country that are being unpaved because there isn’t enough money for upkeep. Street lights are being turned off because the city can’t afford to keep them on all night.

The lower and middle class can’t do it alone. The Bush tax cuts need to expire, and the rich need to quit whining. A lot of rich people think that making a big show of giving a lot of money to charity should be enough to get them off the hook. “Hey, look! I’m doing something great! Look how awesome I am!”

But giving to charity doesn’t stop a lot of public schools and police stations closing. Giving to charity doesn’t fix the roads. Giving to charity doesn’t provide for better health care. The rich should have to pay their fair share, and maybe even more. It’ll help us improve our economy, and it’ll definitely help to improve America.

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“America Speaking Out” for the Republicans

Posted in politics with tags , , , on July 19, 2010 by Kyle Fleming

As I was listening to NPR a couple of weeks ago, I heard of a new website started by the GOP called America Speaking Out. It’s an open forum started by the GOP looking to true and honest Americans for ideas in which to improve their government and America. Because of the open forum format, it allows all Americans, regardless of political affiliation to suggest ideas. Registration is free, and the process is simple: suggest ideas, vote on ideas, comment on ideas, and there is a badge earning system (for some reason).

There is just one tiny hitch, quoted directly from the website:

As House Republicans, we are committed to our principles of limited, more accountable government; economic freedom; lower taxes; fiscal responsibility; protecting life, American values, and the Constitution; and providing for strong national security.

Meaning: “Sure, open forum, suggest whatever you want. Just know that if your idea doesn’t follow party lines, it won’t be considered.”

This means that ideas that probably would benefit the majority of Americans–like health care reform, more taxes, or anything in which the government would be involved–aren’t going to be considered for inclusion, while ideas that probably would hurt the majority of Americans–like tax cuts, decreased unemployment benefits, or anti-abortion laws–will be compiled into a huge bill and taken to Congress.

Ordinarily, this wouldn’t bother me. This is a pet project of the GOP. They’re free to do whatever they want with the ideas they’ve been given. And even if this was a bipartisan idea, it’s impossible to take every idea into consideration, because most ideas will conflict with other ideas, and just the sheer amount of ideas that come in must be staggering.

But the thing that bothers me isn’t that they are picking and choosing ideas that go into the proposal to Congress, it was the way they presented the website.

Quoted from an article from Politics Daily:

There was plenty of bashing of Democrats in Congress and the agenda they developed “in the backroom in secrecy with just a handful of leaders,” as Rep. Candice Miller of Michigan put it, and lots of vows that Republicans, by contrast, would listen to the people.

Again, their conference, their freedom of speech, whatever. But if I can be perfectly honest, I think the Republican Party has lost any semblance of class that they once had.

I remember reading about politics of old, and about how even though the different parties had their different ideals, they would still all go out to the bar with each other. There was no bad blood outside of the halls of Congress, and yet somehow, all of that has changed. But that is for another entry.

As far as this new GOP website is concerned, I’m urging everyone to sign up. Yes, seriously, sign up. Submit ideas, vote on ideas, and earn your precious badges. The only stipulation I’m making is that the ideas that you vote positive on and submit are ideas that benefit Americans, and not Congress or the rich. Show the GOP that Americans have class, and are concerned about their fellow man.

I bet that if the website is flooded with beneficial ideas that don’t follow party lines, there won’t be much of a proposal heading to Congress in the fall.

Conservatives and Ethical Egoism

Posted in current events, opinion, politics with tags , , , , , on May 14, 2010 by Kyle Fleming

Recently in my Philosophy class, we discussed the school of Ethical Egoism. Essentially, Ethical Egoism is the idea that everyone’s actions are based on one’s looking out for their self-interest. No one does anything to help out other people; rather, people are only charitable when it is in their best interest to be charitable, when they will gain something from being compassionate. The thought of assisting others in need doesn’t even occur to them until their interests cross.

I am not a huge fan of this school of thought. I consider myself a pretty compassionate person, and the thought that I am only helping others because it is in my best interests is disturbing. The only satisfaction I get from assisting others comes from the positive feelings I get from giving of myself. I don’t seek recognition in my charitable acts, and anyone that does is missing the point.

In class, we discussed the advantages and disadvantages of subscribing to Ethical Egoism, and along with the reading, found that taken to the extreme, Ethical Egoism is bad news. One of the most conclusive arguments we discussed was that if everyone acts in their own interests, and do only those things that are beneficial to them, it opens up a wide world of pain wrong-doing (our book calls it “wickedness”). A physician, acting in his best interests of making a lot of money, will “water down” drugs but still charging the same amount of money. It is good for him, but terrible for his patients, who may die because of insufficient medication.

This made me think about our current political climate, and how it seems that our politicians are acting in their best interests and not ours. The most notable example of this idea comes with the health care reform bill.

For the record: I hate harping about health care reform. I hate hearing other people harp about health care reform. The issue is over and done with. It’s time to focus on bigger and better things.

Republicans, and some Democrats, tried their best to shout down the health care reform bill, saying that is wasn’t in the interests of the American people. On the contrary, reading a summary of the health care bill shows that it is in the interest of nearly every American: 32 million people will become insured, the deficit will be reduced by $143 billion in the first ten years, and by 2014, people with pre-existing conditions will no longer be denied coverage. (It should be noted that a “pre-existing condition” can pretty much be anything, from heart disease and diabetes to asthma and hay fever. Yes, hay fever.)

Although health care reform was definitely in the best interest of the American people, passing the reform wasn’t in the Republican’s best interest. It’s a well-known fact that Republicans are BFFs with insurance companies, and out current health care system loves insurance companies (as shown by this video describing why we need “government-run, socialized, universal heath care”).

I don’t know about you, but here, I see a classic example of Ethical Egoism: it was in the best interest of Conservatives to vote against health care reform because they were getting a lot of monetary support from the insurance companies, which make huge profits by taking out huge chunks of the money we pay for coverage. The cost of pursuing these interests is leaving millions of Americans in the dust. How ethical is that?

Why the Tea Party is Ruining America

Posted in current events, opinion, politics with tags , , , on May 3, 2010 by Kyle Fleming

I’d like to begin this post by saying that I have no problem with protest movements. If you feel that you are suffering an injustice, by all means speak up. If you are opposed to war, hold a rally. If you are opposed to abortion, start a picket line.

However, what I have a problem with is ignorance and “unintelligence.” And from what I’ve seen from the Tea Party Movement, it is made up of nothing but.

In the 16 April 2010 edition of the Des Moines Register, there is a fantastic article on the Tax Day Tea Party Rallies. In the article there are several Tea Party protesters interviewed, and while Fox News and other conservatives want you to think that this movement is revolutionary and all of that, the quotes that are offered in the article are very telling:

… Ina Breeden, a 70-year-old great-grandmother… [said] that Obama wrote in “Dreams from My Father” that everyone he’s been surrounded by in politics is a Marxist…. Breeden said she hadn’t read the book, but had heard others talking about it.

… “Everything he’s done,” [Diana Clancy] said of Obama, “he’s followed the same orders as Hitler.”

The only problem with these sorts of statements is that they are blatantly wrong. Nowhere in “Dreams from My Father” does it say that he was surrounded by Marxists. Even Mrs. Clancy’s statement is followed by an immediate retraction from her: “Don’t put that. He’s going to come after me.”

The conservative pundits are up in arms about how the Liberals–with their unGodly, baby-killing, pot-smoking, gay-marrying, socialist, fascist, Communist ways–are wrongly portraying the “Tea-baggers” as racist and violent, because they are making sweeping generalizations about a few (which ironically enough, is what they’re doing to Liberals).

And I’ll concede to the fact that there might only be a few racists in the Tea Party movement. And maybe only a few people are throwing rocks in the windows of Congresspeople and are calling for the outright murder of those who voted for the health care bill. But what simply can’t be ignored is the obvious fact that most Tea Party protesters are stupid and ignorant.

Tea Party protesters and Conservatives didn’t want the health care bill “shoved down the throats of the American people.” Never mind that health care reform had been talked about for 50 years. Never mind that there was only a real push for change in the last year. Never mind that there were plenty of opportunities to engage in healthy and meaningful debate of the bill. And never mind that, despite having both HR 3200 and HR 3962 posted online, no one even bothered to read it. It was all too fast and not the change we wanted.

Maybe it’s not the fact that the Tea Party protesters are stupid. Maybe every once in a while a reporter finds a very articulate and knowledgeable protester who knows what he’s talking about, and that screws up whatever narrative that particular news source was going for. The biggest problem is that these people are misinformed about everything.

And what news source is the biggest supporter of the Tea Party movement? Fox News.

It’s amazing how Fox News and Conservative pundits so easily defend the violent actions of this movement, and yet somehow get offended when people call them out on it. It’s also been pointed out on several occasions that Fox News will even tamper with video to make it appear that these protests are bigger than they really are.

Misinformation combined with fear-mongering, combined with impressionable people who will loudly relay any information no matter how wrong it is, equals a dangerous creature that no one can control. The Tea Party movement is promoting ignorance and violence, all without a coherent message. And also their costumes are pretty dumb.

I just don’t get how people can still believe something that has been shown to be wrong over and over again. Is it that common sense is dead, or is it more that in today’s American society, free-thinking and intelligence isn’t in vogue?

Enough is Enough

Posted in current events, politics with tags , , , , on March 26, 2010 by Kyle Fleming

Republicans, Tea Party protesters, conservatives: This has gone too far.

I get that you’re upset about the passage of the health care reform bill. I get that you didn’t like some of the language in the bill. I get that you didn’t like how the bill was “shoved down your throats,” even though this was 100 years in progress, and major campaigning had been going on for a year.

What I don’t get is how inappropriate, violent, and childish this backlash has been. Take a look at what’s been going on since the health care bill was passed:

  • Two different people on Twitter called for the assassination of Barack Obama.
  • Rep. Bart Stupak got an obscene voice mail, calling him a “baby-killing motherf___er” and hoping that he “bleeds out [his] ass, gets cancer, and dies.”
  • Rep. Louise Slaughter had a brick thrown through her window and a voicemail threatening to have snipers kill all of the children of people who voted for the bill.

This has to stop. This is absolutely unacceptable. I get that there was a better way to go around getting health care reform, but there is also a better way to go around voicing your discomfort.

People had their qualms with President Bush when he was in office. And I’ll even admit that I had a few choice words for the man every so often. But nobody threw bricks, nobody left voicemails, and definitely nobody so publicly and adamantly called for his assassination!

Where have our heads gone? What kind of world has this turned into that everything that is said is taken at face value, and that no thought goes into our actions anymore?

And these aren’t rebellious teenagers! The stereotypical demographic that would be causing this much destruction and mayhem are actually the peaceful once! It’s older Americans, people over 40 years old, that are acting like children, throwing tantrums like children do, and making nuisances of themselves.

The main argument I keep hearing from people is that as taxpayers, they don’t want to pay for abortions, the way the new health care bill proposes. Guess what? As tax payers, you’re already paying for stuff you don’t even realize you’re paying for. This website lays out where taxes currently go:

32% Social Security, Medicare and Other Retirement

  • Income support for retired and disabled persons
  • Medical care for the elderly
23% National Defense, Veterans and Foreign Affairs

  • Equip, modernize and pay our armed forces
  • Fund national defense activities
  • Veterans benefits and services
  • Military and economic assistance to foreign countries
  • Maintenance of our embassies abroad
19% Social Programs

  • Medicaid
  • Food stamps
  • Health programs
  • Unemployment compensation
  • Assisted housing and social programs
8% Net interest on the debt

  • Interest payments on the national debt
12% Physical, Human and Community Development

  • Agricultural programs
  • Natural resources and environment programs
  • Transportation programs
  • Aid for elementary and secondary education
  • Direct assistance to college students Space, energy and general science programs
2% Law Enforcement and General Government

  • Federal law enforcement
  • Prisons
  • General costs of the federal government
  • Collection of taxes and legislative activities

I’m a taxpayer. I don’t want to pay for military support, because I don’t feel we should be a warring nation. But I pay it anyway. I also pay for illegal immigrants to use the emergency rooms at hospitals. I don’t want to, but I pay it anyway. I don’t want to pay for prisons or unemployment, but I have to, because that’s what taxpayers do.

This is the only con I’m hearing. I don’t want my taxes to go toward something I oppose.

Too bad.

There are much better pros to the whole thing: better health care, more available treatments, better insurance, and so on and so forth.

You say you love America, but you can’t even help your fellow Americans. It’s pathetic. It’s horrific. It’s unChristian.

Something must be done, and it starts with the American people. Find better ways to express your disgust. Write a Congressperson, makes phone calls, campaign.

Don’t be losers, throwing bricks, making obscene phone calls and death threats. And for God’s sake, if you’re going to “threaten” to move out of the country, do so. Find out for yourself how well you have it here.

Words cannot describe how disgusted I am with you people. Shame on you. From the bottom of my heart: shame, shame on you.

Politics and the Playground: Democrats are Geeks and Republicans are Bullies

Posted in current events, politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 22, 2010 by Kyle Fleming

Normally, I don’t let my political views sway what I write about. I believe I mentioned earlier–perhaps a couple of times–that my views are strictly my views, and I rarely, if ever, push them on people.

That being said: Republicans are bullies.

And also: Democrats are geeks.

And further still: Politicians are children.

And one more for good measure: Americans are just as childish.

If anyone watched any part of the health care vote on any news outlet last night, they were treated to probably one of the most immature demonstrations of American governmental procedure of all time. Everything you expected (Tea Party protesters shouting racial slurs at House Democrats), and some that you didn’t (A Republican calling Rep. Bart Stupak a “baby killer”), and some that are just so completely off the wall you’d think it was a surrealist play or something (Bricks being through through Democratic Party office windows).

The House was rarely, if ever, in order. Though the Representatives were formal in there procedures (yielding time, “Mr. Speaker,” etc.), there was an obvious hatred and disdain for the other party.

Absolutely no Republicans at all supported anything about the health care reform bill. At all. At times I wondered if it was because they truly thought the bill needed some work. But looking at the campaigning against the bill, the hateful propoganda against the bill, and the constant references to the bill as “ObamaCare,” I realized that it was only apposed because of it’s Islamo-socio-fascist tendancies.

If we’re to believe the gross exaggerations the most vocal Republicans were throwing out, you’d think that the Health Care Bill required that all American citizens were to become Muslims, be euthanized at 65, and have a manditory abortion twice a month, regardless of gender. You’d think that all of your money is going toward illegal immigrants getting cosmetic surgery, and that if you so much as thought about speaking ill of the bill, you were to be shot on sight.

That’s not to say that Democrats are perfect. Far from it: if they had been more vocal about what was actually in the bill, and would actually take a stand against Tea Party protesters who simply attended hearings to down down the Senators and Representatives, something more might have been done with the bill. Maybe there would have been a more productive discussion. Maybe there would have been changes made, and an actual compromise to the bill, rather than, and I’m quoting every Fox News “journalist” here, “shoving it down the American people’s throats.”

The whole debacle reminded me of my days as a child, playing on the playground, and watching the bullies and the geeks abuse and be abused.

Play this scenario out with me: Republicans are bullies, Democrats are geeks, the American people are the rest of the playground, and the health care bill is tag:

A friendly game of tag is being played, when one of the geeks realizes that the game is kind of becoming unfair, so he proposes a new game of tag. Maybe they were playing normal tag, and this geek would like to play freeze tag.

One of the bullies says, “You just want to change the game because you’re sick of losing all the time!”

The geek says, “Actually, I just don’t like how this game works, and I want to play a version that works for everyone.”

And the bully says, “The game is working fine as it is. We don’t need to change it.”

And other geeks start saying, “Actually, I’m not really having fun with it. And neither are other people on the playground.”

And the rest of the playground says, “Yeah, let’s change the game.”

And the bullies say, “You guys are just wussies. You’re just bringing up a change in the game because you want to avoid the fact that you’re losing!”

And the geeks say, “Well, everyone is losing right now. Let’s just play freeze tag.”

And the bullies say, “Look around you! Nobody else wants to play freeze tag!”

And the rest of the playground says, “Actually, I don’t mind changing the game.” But a few say, “Actually, yeah, I don’t want to play freeze tag.”

So the bullies start shouting. And the geeks can’t handle the shouting. They try to reason with the bullies, to get a compromise, maybe just tweak the rules, but they end up getting beat up after school.

Finally, the time comes when they want to change the game once and for all. The geeks gathered a lot of support for freeze tag, but the bullies know that it’ll never get changed, and they hope to play one last game of tag before the bell rings, signaling the end of recess.

They take a vote, the way all kids do when they want to be fair about changing the game. None of the bullies want to change the game. More geeks than bullies want to change it. The motion passes.

Then the bullies start calling the geeks names, evil names, and threaten to beat them up again unless they change their mind. But the game has been changed, and there’s nothing the bullies can do about it except whine and moan some more and pout because they didn’t get their way.

This is an important, 100-years-in-the-making decision that could mean better health care for everyone in America, and the Republicans don’t like it, only because it is Islamo-socio-fascist-ObamaCare.

Kids these days and their running the country. Whatever shall we do with them?

Your Children Are Not Being Indoctrinated

Posted in pop culture with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 5, 2010 by Kyle Fleming

Normally, I don’t have a problem with Glenn Beck. In all honesty, I’m a huge fan of the show. Occasionally, he makes some great points, and he tries his best to be in the middle ground, calling out Republicans along with Democrats. Normally, I don’t have a problem with him. But every once in a while, Beck says something, or has a topic, that is absolutely ridiculous, and it frustrates me to the point where I can no longer think straight.

It’s rare for me to be writing a blog topic at the same time that the topic at hand is still in process. Yet here I sit, watching Glenn Beck rant and rave over something that isn’t a big deal, because it’s not a deal at all. Apparently, the “progressives” are indoctrinating your children by telling them that they are just as intelligent, if not more intelligent, than you. It’s an abomination, and it’s all the progressive Democrats’ fault. “Aren’t you shocked that people are using your children this way?” he just asked.

There’s one problem: your children aren’t being indoctrinated. Beck used an Al Gore quote–“There are some things about our world that you know that older people don’t know”–as proof that progressives are taking over your child’s mind. But really, all this quote (which, by the way, is taken extremely out of context) says is that, in changing times, the younger generation has a better idea of the world than older folks. It’s common sense.

In the speech, Gore uses the Civil Rights Movement as an analogy of changing times. The quote, in context…

When I was your age and the Civil Rights Revolution was unfolding, and we kids asked our parents and their generation, ‘Explain to me again why it’s okay for the law to discriminate against people for the color of their skin color? And when our parents’ generation couldn’t answer that question, that’s when the law started to change. There are some things about our world that you know that older people don’t know.Why would that be? Well, in a time of rapid change, the old assumptions sometimes just don’t work anymore because they’re out of date.

… is not a huge deal. Not only is this common sense in a changing world, it’s also a clever ploy to build up a child’s self-esteem. If a child feels that his or her efforts are worthwhile, he or she will be more inclined to make a difference in the world.

But Glenn Beck doesn’t seem to see this. He seems to see any sort of push to support children–future leaders of the world, mind you–as some Islamo-fascist-socialist-communism ploy to destroy America. This whole show just seems to be a distraction from some other humongous  problem; he says in the rant before the commercial break, “I can’t teach God in school, but I can make kids pledge allegiance to the Earth? The Earth is God now! The Earth is greater than human beings!”

I understand Glenn Beck is a proud American, and I can kind of see how pledging allegiance to the Earth goes completely against that. But, really, the Earth is greater than the people who live on it. Any slight change in the natural world can completely wipe out the human race. And my religious upbringing tells me that God not only created everything, but is also in everything. God created the Earth, and God is the Earth. I would gladly pledge allegiance to the Earth, because I am pledging allegiance to God in this way.

If anyone is watching the show, you know how awkward this suddenly has become. He spoke directly to “progressive bloggers,” and quoted Malachai 4:6–“He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse.” He says that this verse says that indoctrinating our children is evil. And he also recommended that I spell EVIL in capital letters. Just for kicks, I’ll go a step further: EVIL!!!!!!!!!!!1

But again, Beck is quoting out of context. Chapter 4 of Malachai, in its entirety:

1 “Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and that day that is coming will set them on fire,” says the LORD Almighty. “Not a root or a branch will be left to them. 2 But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall. 3 Then you will trample down the wicked; they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day when I do these things,” says the LORD Almighty.4 “Remember the law of my servant Moses, the decrees and laws I gave him at Horeb for all Israel.

5 “See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes. 6 He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse.”

Looking at the passage as a whole, it actually says that the EVIL!!!!!! world will be destroyed unless the hearts of the fathers are turned to the hearts of the children, and vice versa. God himself is saying that unless children and fathers learn from each other, the world is going to be struck down.

But I digress. The real reason this episode of Glenn Beck is bothering me so much that I felt like I had to blog as the show is in progress is because throughout the whole show, Beck has been talking down to my generation. The whole episode has been a “Get Off My Lawn, You Crazy Kids!” episode, with Grampa Beck telling us kids that our generation is out of control, just like, I’m sure, his grandparents told him when he was young. He was born in 1964, after all.

I’m not a fan of people being condescending to me. But that’s all this was. It was Glenn Beck Knows Best, and because I am younger than he is, I am an idiot.

Thanks, but no thanks, Mr. Beck. The fact is that the world is changing. My generation has a greater access to knowledge than your generation did. And in fact, I may go out and buy “Eric’s Book” (Generation-We by Eric Greenberg, in case anyone was wondering), just because. I appreciate you trying to protect me, but everything in this show had no evidence. I was always taught that to have an effective argument, I need claims and evidence. Sadly, this show only had the former.

To my generation: This show should be incentive for us to get out there and change the world even more. Don’t even think about politics, don’t think about being “too progressive”. We have a higher calling, and we need to do everything in our power to change our world before our world changes us.