Monday, October 30, 2006

I guess we'll see

Both sides are set to prove the other a liar:

House Majority Leader:

Rob, if we mobilize all of our resources and mobilize our voters to the polls on Election Day, we’re going to do just fine. There’s no question we have a very difficult political environment. First, we knew this when George Bush was re-elected in ’04—that the midterm election for the President’s party during the sixth year of that presidency, the average loss for the last 150 years is 41 seats. We knew history was working against us. And so, we’ve worked hard.

But I really do believe, as I get around the country, there are some open seats where we’ve got some difficulty. We’ve got a couple incumbents who are in trouble for various reasons, who are in very difficult races. But beyond that, there are a lot of races where we’re slightly ahead or we’re slightly behind. And this is where mobilizing our voters over the next eight days—making sure that they vote—will put us in a solid position.
The chairman of the Senate Democratic campaign expressed confidence Sunday his party can win a Senate majority in the Nov. 7 elections, calling the vote "more and more a referendum on George Bush."

"We're right on the edge. Every week things get better and better," said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. "With the exception of one candidate, no other Republican candidate uses a four-letter word - B-U-S-H. They're running away from him."
Hurricane or April Shower? I guess we'll have to wait and see.

My prediction? Republicans maintain control of congress. Is that the best solution? Probably. Am I excited about the corruption that's become evident and the utter lack of cooperation or fiscal restraint? Not particularly.

But Pelosi? Dems in control of congress? Can you say pull-out-of-Iraq-faster-than-you-can-blink? Say what you will about the situation over there, or how we got there -- to leave now would be like Saigon all over only worse.


Matt said...

If dems win control of either the senate or the house (or both) and in two years there is still a culture of corruption in washington you better believe that i'll be screaming for them to get kicked out. This corruption is out of control and voting for the party who's involved in 90% of it is like saying "hey, you can screw us voters over and over again, but we'll still vote for you!" What kind of message does that send to politicians? They can be the shadiest leaders in the world and still keep their jobs? I don't know how anyone can be a proud republican these days... what happened to true conservatism? Vote DEMOCRATIC, or don't vote at all. Voters are obligated to tell their representatives that it's not okay to do absolutely nothing but steal federal tax money for their constituents, cover their colleagues asses over political scandals and work less than 100 days in a full year. All these guys care about is keeping their power, nothing else. We need to send them a message and there's nothing more powerful than: "YOU'RE FIRED!"

k2aggie07 said...

Voters are obligated to tell their representatives that it's not okay to do absolutely nothing but steal federal tax money for their constituents, cover their colleagues asses over political scandals and work less than 100 days in a full year. All these guys care about is keeping their power, nothing else.

So your saying Democrats won't do the same? Unfortunately, ousting Republicans to get rid of corruption is like screwing for virginity. NO senators work more than 100 days. ALL of them only want to get reelected. The best way for them to do that is pork-funneling of money to their district. Thats the system.

The problem is, when people tell you they're going to do things like raise taxes, further our country along the path of socialism, and endanger us by voting against measures such as the repeatedly-proven-legal NSA wiretapping and the financial measures as well as removing us from Iraq, you have to believe them.

And by believing them, I realize that I cannot vote democratic. They're just not on the same page as me.

PS, Of all the incumbents only a few (16? in all of congress) are going to (possibly) lose their seats. Voting to swing congress over to the other side isn't some sort of holy purge. You know better.

Matt said...

Find me one democrat that's said they want to raise your taxes. Are you a millionaire? Your president and this congress haven't done jack for you if your in the broader middle class. What taxes have they cut besides the taxes of corporations and the richest 5% of americans? I've heard plenty of dems say that they want to raise taxes on the richest.... you know, the people who have actually benefited from a republican majority. How else do you presume that we balance the budget? I thought conservatives were all about fiscal restraint, like spending only as much or less than you take in.

NSA hasn't been proven legal over and over again, you know that. It's unconstitutional, period. Democrats don't want to throw the system out (and they won't)... they merely want to make it legal and within the legal confines of the constitution. exp. FISA courts

Democrats also want to overhaul the campaign contribution system (again) and make it somewhat public so that representatives won't have to be campaigning constantly everyday instead of writing/reading/reviewing legislation like they're paid to do. They also wouldn't be obliged to cater to their contributors when writing bills, ie less pork.

These all sound nice to me and they make perfect sense, but I know that's very scary for you because it sounds too much like "socialism". Don't be such a paranoid.

k2aggie07 said...

The richest 1% of Americans pay 25% of the tax burden (roughly) at a rate of 30% of their income going to federal tax. Why should they pay an unfair, disproportional amount?

I say balance the budget by cutting fat from the LARGEST CHUNK of it -- personal entitlements. Not by choking the people who make this country great.

As for NSA -- here I show that it is constitutional. In many of the briefs filed, it has been ruled constitutional. Only ONE activist judge said anything about it being illegal, and her ruling was immediately discredited.

More later, class now.

Matt said...

Lets not go down the slippery "personal entitlement" debate slope and stick to fiscal responsibility. You know just as well as I do that this congress has increased federal spending at a higher rate than any democratic congress EVER, while at the same time cutting taxes for people who provide for the vast majority of federal funding. You can't have both, so which one is it? Expand government or cut taxes? It doesn't make any sense! For you to even imply that republicans would ever consider, or for that matter, pass legislation that cut out personal entitlement programs is laughable because we all know that would never happen. In your idealistic (and flawed) world view, that's for the best... but the party you support has strayed from their ideological roots and you know it, you just hesitate to admit it. Look at what they do, not at what they say they'll do.

k2aggie07 said...

Finishing up what I was saying earlier. There never will be a solution for pork as long as constituents vote in their representatives. People will always vote money into their pockets.

The campaign contribution system doesn't need to be overhauled. People should be free to give money to whomever they please. Government should stay out of it.

Finally, you say that the increase in federal spending is due to a republican congress. I submit that its due to the lack of a divided government. Bush didn't veto anything that limited spending. I suspect its because he's held hostage by pork. Without a line-item veto he can't ensure he gets the military funding he needs without wasting money in a plethora of other areas. Congress has him held hostage because we're in a war.

Would this change with a democratic congress? Perhaps; Bush would be forced to veto more over the next two years to keep the activists from hurting this country militarily. At the same time, that would end up taking money from our military.

You say republicans would never pass legislation to cut personal entitlement spending -- are you implying that democrats would?

The fact is, no party is ever going to cut spending because they want votes, and spending money in your district gives you votes. So, given that its a sunk cost, why would I go with the party that is going to spend or have pork (as ALL parties do -- nature of the beast) AND will screw over our national defense / morally undermine our nation? Thats a lose-lose situation. At least republicans in congress can be counted on for socially conservative legislation.

Matt said...

Need not patronize... I'm a big boy, I can understand politics. For the sake of saving space, I generally summarize my opinion so it's straight and to the point. I guess I'll just have to get a little more specific.

Pork and insane spending, incompetence and corruption is unique in this congress in that it is more widespread and frequent than it's ever been. (which is something that is obviously debatable)

I think the recent rollingstone article on congress pretty much sums it up perfectly. I'll include basic summaries of it here, if you want specifics, read the whole thing, it's like 8 pages long.Here are some excerpts:

It is no big scoop that the majority party in Congress has always found ways of giving the shaft to the minority. But there is a marked difference in the size and the length of the shaft the Republicans have given the Democrats in the past six years. There has been a systematic effort not only to deny the Democrats any kind of power-sharing role in creating or refining legislation but to humiliate them publicly, show them up, pee in their faces. Washington was once a chummy fraternity in which members of both parties golfed together, played in the same pickup basketball games, probably even shared the same mistresses. Now it is a one-party town -- and congressional business is conducted accordingly, as though the half of the country that the Democrats represent simply does not exist.

To ensure that Democrats can't alter any of the last-minute changes, Republicans have overseen a monstrous increase in the number of "closed" rules -- bills that go to the floor for a vote without any possibility of amendment. This tactic undercuts the very essence of democracy: In a bicameral system, allowing bills to be debated openly is the only way that the minority can have a real impact, by offering amendments to legislation drafted by the majority.

Under the Republicans, amendable bills have been a genuine Washington rarity, the upside-down eight-leafed clover of legislative politics.

In addition to ending generations of bipartisanship and instituting one-party rule, our national legislators in the Bush years are guilty of something even more fundamental: They suck at their jobs.

They don't work many days, don't pass many laws, and the few laws they're forced to pass, they pass late. In fact, in every year that Bush has been president, Congress has failed to pass more than three of the eleven annual appropriations bills on time.

In the Sixties and Seventies, Congress met an average of 162 days a year. In the Eighties and Nineties, the average went down to 139 days. This year, the second session of the 109th Congress will set the all-time record for fewest days worked by a U.S. Congress: ninety-three. That means that House members will collect their $165,000 paychecks for only three months of actual work.

What this means is that the current Congress will not only beat but shatter the record for laziness set by the notorious "Do-Nothing" Congress of 1948, which met for a combined 252 days between the House and the Senate. This Congress -- the Do-Even-Less Congress -- met for 218 days, just over half a year, between the House and the Senate combined.

And even those numbers don't come close to telling the full story. Those who actually work on the Hill will tell you that a great many of those "workdays" were shameless mail-ins, half-days at best. Congress has arranged things now so that the typical workweek on the Hill begins late on Tuesday and ends just after noon on Thursday, to give members time to go home for the four-day weekend. This is borne out in the numbers: On nine of its "workdays" this year, the House held not a single vote -- meeting for less than eleven minutes. The Senate managed to top the House's feat, pulling off three workdays this year that lasted less than one minute. All told, a full fifteen percent of the Senate's workdays lasted less than four hours. Figuring for half-days, in fact, the 109th Congress probably worked almost two months less than that "Do-Nothing" Congress.

"This Congress spent a week and a half debating Terri Schiavo -- it never made appropriations a priority," says Hughes. In fact, Congress leaves itself so little time to pass the real appropriations bills that it winds up rolling them all into one giant monstrosity known as an Omnibus bill and passing it with little or no debate. Rolling eight-elevenths of all federal spending into a single bill that hits the floor a day or two before the fiscal year ends does not leave much room to check the fine print. "It allows a lot more leeway for fiscal irresponsibility," says [Adam]Hughes-OMB Watch.

...the Republican-controlled Congress has created a new standard for the use of oversight powers. That standard seems to be that when a Democratic president is in power, there are no matters too stupid or meaningless to be investigated fully -- but when George Bush is president, no evidence of corruption or incompetence is shocking enough to warrant congressional attention. One gets the sense that Bush would have to drink the blood of Christian babies to inspire hearings in Congress -- and only then if he did it during a nationally televised State of the Union address and the babies were from Pennsylvania, where Senate Judiciary chairman Arlen Specter was running ten points behind in an election year. (ever heard of the 9 BILLION dollars of your tax money missing in Iraq that no one seems to want to investigate? The Democratic Congress during world war 2 investigated the missing capital of millions of dollars that was issued towards defense, even when there was a democratic president... why not now?)
---Congress for congress' sake, not another wing of the executive branch, even during the bloodiest war of all time.

"You talk to many Republicans in Congress privately, and they will tell you how appalled they are by the administration's diminishment of civil liberties and the constant effort to keep fear alive," says Turley, who testified as a constitutional scholar in favor of the Clinton impeachment. "Yet those same members slavishly vote with the White House. What's most alarming about the 109th has been the massive erosion of authority in Congress. There has always been partisanship, but this is different. Members have become robotic in the way they vote."

From the McCarthy era in the 1950s through the Republican takeover of Congress in 1995, no Democratic committee chairman issued a subpoena without either minority consent or a committee vote. In the Clinton years, Republicans chucked that long-standing arrangement and issued more than 1,000 subpoenas to investigate alleged administration and Democratic misconduct, reviewing more than 2 million pages of government documents.

Guess how many subpoenas have been issued to the White House since George Bush took office? Zero -- that's right, zero, the same as the number of open rules debated this year; two fewer than the number of appropriations bills passed on time.

Here's a gem:

Despite an international uproar over Abu Ghraib, Congress spent only twelve hours on hearings on the issue. During the Clinton administration, by contrast, the Republican Congress spent 140 hours investigating the president's alleged misuse of his CHRISTMAS-CARD GREETING LIST.

And now, lets look once again at FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY: the supposed cornerstone of the ideology of true conservatism.

When Bill Clinton left office, the nation had a budget surplus of $236 billion. Today, thanks to Congress, the budget is $296 billion in the hole. This year, more than sixty-five percent of all the money borrowed in the entire world will be borrowed by America, a statistic fueled by the speed-junkie spending habits of our supposedly "fiscally conservative" Congress. It took forty-two presidents before George W. Bush to borrow $1 trillion; under Bush, Congress has more than doubled that number in six years. And more often than not, we are borrowing from countries the sane among us would prefer not to be indebted to: The U.S. shells out $77 billion a year in interest to foreign creditors, including payment on the $300 billion we currently owe China.

Favors for campaign contributors, exemptions for polluters, shifting the costs of private projects on to the public -- these are the specialties of this Congress. They seldom miss an opportunity to impoverish the states we live in and up the bottom line of their campaign contributors. All this time -- while Congress did nothing about Iraq, Katrina, wiretapping, Mark Foley's boy-madness or anything else of import -- it has been all about pork, all about political favors, all about budget "earmarks" set aside for expensive and often useless projects in their own districts. -Pay Attention- In 2000, Congress passed 6,073 earmarks; by 2005, that number had risen to 15,877. They got better at it every year. It's the one thing they're good at.

Even worse, this may well be the first Congress ever to lose control of the government's finances. For the past six years, it has essentially been writing checks without keeping an eye on its balance. When you do that, unpleasant notices eventually start appearing in the mail. In 2003, the inspector general of the Defense Department reported to Congress that the military's financial-management systems did not comply with "generally accepted accounting principles" and that the department "cannot currently provide adequate evidence supporting various material amounts on the financial statements."

Translation: The Defense Department can no longer account for its money. "It essentially can't be audited," says Wheeler, the former congressional staffer. "And nobody did anything about it. That's the job of Congress, but they don't care anymore."

What about stealing money for constituents for unnecessary projects, lining their own pockets and accepting unethical (and illegal) gifts from campaign contributors and lobbyists? Just ask:

Duke Cunningham
Bob Ney
Tom Delay
Conrad Burns
Dennis Hastert
Bill Frist
Rick Santorum
Roy Blunt
John Doolittle
Katherine Harris
John Sweeney
Curt Weldon
Tom Feeney
Charles Taylor
James Sensenbrenner
Don Young
Ted Stevens
Jerry Lewis
Tom Tancredo
Dick Pombo
Hal Rogers

One could go on and on about the scandals and failures of the past six years; to document them all would take . . . well, it would take more than ninety-three f@*^ing days, that's for sure. But you can boil the whole sordid mess down to a few basic concepts. Sloth. Greed. Abuse of power. Hatred of democracy. Government as a cheap backroom deal, finished in time for thirty-six holes of the world's best golf. And brains too stupid to be ashamed of any of it. If we have learned nothing else in the Bush years, it's that this Congress cannot be reformed. The only way to change it is to get rid of it.

Fortunately, we still get that chance once in a while.

Sure, this is the "nature of the beast"... but look how big, ugly and stinky the beast has gotten with your party in control. Everything is relative, and if you compare this congress with it's predecessors, democratic and republican, this one is by far the stinkiest.

Matt said...

In answering your other inquiries....

Personal entitlements and social programs are something I believe in, so no I wasn't implying that democrats would cut personal entitlements... the difference here is that democrats tell it like it is, "no we will not cut social programs" as opposed to republicans who think of america as a welfare nation, yet do-nothing about it.

Let me ask you this, since you are a hardline conservative: Why is it okay to grant corporations (with obligations to stockholders), corporate welfare, but it's NOT okay to grant individuals (with obligations to children who cannot feed themselves) personal welfare as long as they meet strict government rules and regulations? This is the nature of conservative ideology that exhibits the most hypocrisy.

Moving on... you have absolutely no evidence whatsoever that shows a democratic agenda leaning towards "undermining our military" or "screwing our national defense", do you? Didn't think so. Once again, like countless times before, I feel obliged to explain the democratic idea of "national defense".

When a war becomes a fiasco, becomes a chaotic civil war between factions of the very people you are trying to liberate, while at the same time breeds animosity towards your country from people all over the world, which has been proven to increase the rate of recruitment of the very people you are attempting to destroy... common sense people call that war a FAILED foreign policy. Despite your rosy picture of "progress" in that country only 2-3 months ago, it has gotten worse and worse and worse. Democrats are willing to admit it, the people who led the initial charge into Iraq, aren't so much.

And for the last time, Democrats are all for increasing spending on national defense (and not decreasing capital input, --ie taxes-- like any sane company would) You can't have a war on terror without EVERYONE bearing the burden of increased spending and sacrifice.

As for "socially conservative" legislation... what have your Republicans done to satisfy your hunger for attacking personal liberties? Absolutely nothing.. a failed marriage ammendment, a confusing attempt at destroying the legality of free speech through flag burning and can you say abortion? Where'd that go...? Abstinence programs are SO BAD that congress won't even allow them to be investigated for their rate of success, the rapture faction of your party is so concerned about what americans do in their bedrooms that they've attempted to make it illegal to buy contraceptives ANYWHERE! This is what you want? I admire your concern (although I couldn't disagree with it more), but your leaders are a complete joke in standing up for your religious beliefs and I just want you to admit it to yourself. Please just swallow your pride and admit it.

k2aggie07 said...'re saying that the republicans are big meanies and play hard ball politics?

All this article is showing is that the state of politics is in decline in America. I could have told you that. The number of work days was decreasing fairly linearly throughout the Reagan years when there was a democratic congress.

You say congress didn't investigate Abu-Ghraib and counter that with the time Republicans spent looking for a way to impugn Slick Willie. if to imply that, somehow, democrat freeze-your-money-and-lie-to-the-FBI politicians are more honorable and concerned with the relevant issues? Give me a break.

You say the republicans are mean, anti-democratic, and morally "stinky". OK. I guarantee you the next session of congress will be worse, no matter the political affiliation of its members. And the one after that will be worse yet. This is the degradation of America, you're seeing it happen. Its not really news.

As to the corporate welfare, I assume you're talking about the bailouts of industries such as air travel and the like? I say because the government has a vested interest in ensuring that these companies stay alive. It would be massively detrimental to the state of the nation to not do so.

People shouldn't be taken care of by the government. More to the point, the people you're talking about simply don't exist. See my earlier, repeated posts over the minimum wage statistics.

Sure I have evidence over their undermining our military and hurting our national defense. They say they want to pull us out of Iraq -- which would be a nightmare. They fight against the government's measures to combat terrorism in the form of the LEGAL NSA wiretapping program and bank measures.

Finally, I'd like to assign you some homework. You talk on and on about the debt of the United States. Go find me the average debt of the average American and divide that by his average American salary, to get number of years he is in debt.

Now go look up the GDP of America (yearly income) and do the same for our debt. We're not in nearly as deep as you've been led to think.

Matt said...

You're absolutely hopeless.

Matt said...

All you do is excuse horrible things by saying "THAT'S JUST THE WAY IT IS MATT, GET USED TO IT!" What a patriot you are...

Matt said...

----As to the corporate welfare, I assume you're talking about the bailouts of industries such as air travel and the like? I say because the government has a vested interest in ensuring that these companies stay alive. It would be massively detrimental to the state of the nation to not do so.----

It's called our energy policy, look it up it'll be YOUR politics homework for the night.

k2aggie07 said...

I think ensuring the supply of energy remains flowing lies under "support the general welfare". Ensuring joe schmoe lazy guy with no job has money does not.

Matt said...

The decision as to whether or not the supply is "flowing" is almost entirely up to OPEC, the most notorious cartel in the world. I don't think giving big business companies with RECORD HIGH GROSS PROFITS (i always capitalize words that your brain just doesn't seem to normally absorb) in the US is going to have any effect on the decision of arab leaders to cut or overflow the market with oil. Read my Republican Disorder Promotion Act post when it comes to the issue of burning coal. The bush administration lied about the potential for efficiency in coal plants (because it's more profitable to waste energy than it is to conserve it) so I highly doubt that they're looking out for consumers. Speaking of consumers and "general welfare", here's some more homework: ask your leaders why they keep blocking the imports for prescription drugs? Oh yes... republicans are SO concerned about the general welfare of the American people! My ass....

This is what I meant about the slippery personal entitlement debate slope. I don't want to Joe Lazy Schmoe to get my tax dollars either... life is much more complicated than you assume it to be. You grew up in a nice home, food on the table every night right? Well what if you had the fortune of being born into Joe Lazy Schmoe's family and there was no food to eat? Do YOU deserve to starve because of the sins of your father or your mother? I don't know about you, but I'm willing to give a buck or two to feed some poor child, who embodies the very nature of innocence, it not being their fault that they can't eat because their parents were "lazy" in life. On top of that, just like politics, all economies are local. If you have a job in a town that very few options for employment, and the main factory in town goes out of business, and you can't sell your house because its not worth anything... what are you going to do? This is why I'm a liberal, because I was raised as a generous christian and I was taught by reading the new testament that GENEROSITY was one of the key messages of christ. I've had those beliefs instilled in me. Call me a radical, but the Bible makes some pretty radical claims. Like the fact that material possessions should be distributed equally among all people.

The book's four central chapters are devoted to historical-critical treatments of passages that focus on the status of wealth or possessions. These, respectively, are Mark 10:17-31 (the rich man who cannot accept Jesus' call to discipleship), Luke 12:22-34 (Jesus' words on worrying about what we need to sustain life, with an injunction to "sell your possessions and give alms"), 2 Corinthians 8:1-15 (Paul's urging of his readers to complete their contributions to a relief effort for Jerusalem)

Spirituality Demonstrated, thats what that name is all about. Modern Christian's too often settle their issues of morality seperate from the teaching of their own doctrine. Either that or they ignore the passages that they don't like and focus on the ones that suit their own personal lifestyle.

Want to keep talking about personal entitlements?

k2aggie07 said...

I don't know about you, but I'm willing to give a buck or two to feed some poor child, who embodies the very nature of innocence, it not being their fault that they can't eat because their parents were "lazy" in life. On top of that, just like politics, all economies are local. If you have a job in a town that very few options for employment, and the main factory in town goes out of business, and you can't sell your house because its not worth anything... what are you going to do?

If that case were true, you'd be right. But if people are starving in American, I'm not seeing it. The fact is, people don't starve in America. Even if they did, throwing money at the parents of those "poor kids" isn't going to fix anything. It'll just buy Joe Lazy more crack or booze.

As for your scripture, every person has difficulties in reaching the kingdom because everyone is different. Christ never implores the masses to give up their wealth. He DOES say that for that particular man, wealth is an obstacle. That is why the one thing that that man needed to do was to sell his possessions -- as long as he was rich, he would be too proud to believe.

The point of the Do Not Worry passage is to get people above the trudge and grind of materialistic life. If you love money, you'll have problems. He never says that you have to beggar yourself in order to believe.

This is rather silly, though, because if I were to sell all my belongings and give them to the poor, I sure wouldn't have that done through the government! Christ never said "steal from your neighbor to give to your poorer neighbor". Enter entitlement spending.

Off topic thread.

Matt said...

No kidding.