Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Fasten your seat belts or get off the ride.

It is a frightening world out there. And the Conservatives are more scared than anyone. That is understandable. It is a world that is changing profoundly and rapidly every few seconds it seems. Conservatives don't like change: it is in their DNA. Why do you think they are called "conservatives?"

Communication and global networking on the web now means that every lonely, bitter and angry nut can find solace and company with fellow "outsiders" to make mischief. The recipes for nuclear bombs are easy to find on the web. Terrorists of every shape and size can plan, plot and gather across borders and across politics.

Globalization ties our planet together in unforeseen ways. A few diabolically ingenious bankers concoct a plan to sell off worthless bundles of bad debt around the globe, while "betting" against the very products they sell, and the whole world is plunged into a crisis that all but carries us all over a cliff.

Whether man made or not, the planet is getting hotter ( and please don't tell me that it is getting colder because " look at all the snow we had this year!" If you melt millions of tons of polar ice into the gulf stream, the weather might well get colder; but that's because the planet is getting warmer. OK?!) Deforestation, pollution, over-use of natural resources....these are all powerful engines of change.

The old ways are not working. Friedman's, free-market policy has been debunked as naieve and dangerous. Markets will NOT self-regulate because MAN cannot self-regulate. Isolationism keeps us in a backwater, where we would rapidly become even less relevant or useful than we already are. And it would be dangerous. As a nation among a family of nations our responsibility is to ALL our citizens, not just the rich and privileged. The Wild West is done, it is not "every man for himself," we are too inter-dependent now and, unless we get with a new program, we will not be around to see the next millennium. The age of the Conservative is done. To cling to narrow views of exceptionalism or "manifest destiny" is as absurd as it is fatal. The only way forward is through progress: and that word is at the heart of the Progressive agenda.

Despite the "Right's" insistence that Obama is the anti-christ, his progressive agenda has made us safer in the world:
-through ruthless prosecution of the war against terror in Afghanistan ( actually, even more ruthless than Bush as he has taken out many more AlQuaeda leaders and is much more prolific in his use of the controversial drone attacks . Though I still refute the use of the term "war" rather than treat this whole terror thing as a criminal activity!)
- through his clear grasp of the nuances and subtleties of the roots of terror and disaffection as well as his geo-political savvy that zeroes in on the Indian sub-continent as the most dangerous place on earth NOT IRAQ!!!
-through his recognition of the futility of any kind of International MADD policy re nuclear weapons and is busy trying to make sense of a threat that puts nuclear weapons in the hands of a person and not a state. A most pressing re-think that is well overdue.
-through his bold and unpopular economic remedies, necessitated by the last administration's incompetence, that not only saved half the modern world falling off a cliff, but actually stemmed the bleeding and have begun to turn the tide well in advance of the predicted ten years.
(Retail sales are back up, unemployment has steadied, investment is up, ...but now Obama wants to put in the kinds of regulations that will prevent this kind of de-regulated stampede from happening again, who is back at the table yelling" NO!" ? ....that's right the Conservatives, who are angry that their croney-capitalist orgy might be curtailed.)
-through his breathtakingly focused success at insuring over 30 million Americans who suffered from the inability to take care of their own and their children's health in one of the self-declared "leading nations of the world," which was also overdue.
-through his tireless efforts to re-instate our credibility in the world community by shoring up old and creating new alliances and partners has reversed the last administration's disastrous policy of withdrawal and isolationism.

Look, you get my point.... this is a good President. He is doing a prodigious amount of good things. The muddled and confused anger among tea-baggers, militias, libertarians, and Republicans is stoked by ignorance, misinformation and self-interest. Of course, you are not all going to agree with me, but when I see these people talking about everything from Obama being a muslim, to a socialist, to an anti-constitutionalist, to the leader of a world wide conspiracy, I wonder at how so many out there still think Bush was a better, safer, smarter President!

Oh, and by the way, remember my friends, Only Connect!
Charles Shaughnessy

Additional Comments from Charlie on
15 April, 2010 at 15:44
and
15 April,2010 at 22:58
and
17 April, 2010 08:53
and
18 April, 2010 18:44

64 comments:

  1. Charlie, I agree with you 100%. I couldn't even begin to add more and your write so precisely and eloquently. I still want my health care and the Conservatives had better hear the pleas of many Americans who need change in this aspect as well.

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  2. Do you think that part of the problem is that most of americans didn't really know that much about Barack Obama before the presidential campaign?

    Many of us didn't even know who Sarah Palin was until well into the campaigns.

    Since our President is very devoted to the health care revisions I have been trying to research his support of it before his presidency - since we didn't know that much about him before...sorry if this seems out of touch..but I do remember Hillary's feelings on this subject - but of course she was in the white house at the time which made her opinion more available to us.

    If anyone has more info about the history of Barack Obama's stance on the health care issue before the presidency I would appreciate the references - Google isn't helping me much on the subject.

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  3. Charlie
    Well said. I am however posting a link here and hope someone will read its contents, as it depicts a lot of things you have written in this blog
    http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/0,1518,688782-3,00.html

    I have many American expat friends and they just say " this is not the America I left",and also mention that discrimination and racism is at its worst at present.
    Obama may not be perfect by any means ,and has even been critiscised here for his way of communicating with some of his foreign counterparts as Obama is a man with no "frills" and aparently needs getting used to! I think it is a great achievement of his getting 40 something nations together this week to try and make it a safer World for us all, and he was certainly heard.
    I have been quite shocked at what hate is being spread on some forums about him , and be assured America is being observed in its doings and getting lots of critic at present.
    On of my friends said to me" we Americans have to learn to accept changes which may not suit every one (healthcare) otherwise we will be back in the old wild west days" (metaphorically speaking of course)

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  4. WOW Charlie--wish I was just 1/4 as informed on this material as you--but I do think it's time that the conservatives, tea partiers, and seemingly "know it all" Republicans ( who have not come up with better ideas or plans despite their opposition to just about anything the President does) wake up to the fact that we elected a brilliant man to lead our country and let him go about doing his job-- recently I read in a letter to the editor in our local paper that someone was still questioning President obama's citizenship---COME ON PEOPLE-- haven't we gotten beyond that --I surely hope so---The only waqy this country is going to get back to the unified nation that it should be is for the people to pull together and work for the good of everyone--come on --WE CAN DO THAT--

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  5. Well said, Liane--it's always good to have an "outsider's" opinion

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  6. This is my very first post on a blog so please be gentle! I have never been able to express my political feelings in public...or I guess it's more like I feel uncomfortable expressing myself because, frankly, I'm a little out-numbered in my area of the country.

    I've sat quietly, observing and listening to countless instances of disrespect, racism, and lack of self-control or simple courtesy when comes to our President. It saddens me that there are those who get such utter joy from filling the American people with anger and hatred.

    I taught elementary school the year Obama won the election. There had been some talk in the lounge among teachers about politics but I always just listened without a saying a word...thought it was funny how the teachers would talk about a particular 4th grade teacher as "SHE'S the only Democrat here!" and not have a clue or the courtesy to ask what I thought.

    The day after the election, kids came into my music class all grouchy and disruptive. I finally asked what was up...it was all about the election! I couldn't believe all the regurgitated BS I heard! Those kids heard it from their parents the night before, and not a single one knew why they were saying it!! Several kids were "moving" to Canada...Hitler's name came up at least a dozen times. (I should've asked them if they even knew who Hitler was.) One proud teacher at the school announced her own 6th grade son took down the American flag at home that morning and put up the Texas flag. She was proud of him for "thinking for himself"! Ugh! It blows my mind!! At a loss for words to say in my classroom that morning (which was unusual for me!) I used the situation as a teachable moment. Explained that we, as Americans, are fortunate to live in a country where we can vote for our leaders, etc. I'll stay home the morning after elections next time!

    The most upsetting thing that day...and I'll never forget it...I walked up to some teachers...outspokenly devout Christian ladies...who said they hope "that man" gets shot.

    I just don't understand...

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  7. Charlie..conservatism does NOT mean "status quo, no change". You support the environmental issues...when you tell us to "conserve", do you mean that we should use electricity/water/resources exactly as we do today, with no changes? Or do you mean that we should be better stewards of the resources we have, use them wisely, not waste, be realistic about how much we have? I suspect it's the latter, and that's exactly what Conservatism is. Small government, lower taxes, personal responsibility, and the big one...fiscal responsibility. We need to cut back, pare down, make some painful sacrifices and budget the money we HAVE wisely. So, yes..conservatives are leaving the Republican Party(but if you read David's blog, you knew that already), because we are just as angry at the Republican politicians as you are. You may want to take a good, honest look at your current Democrats, and see that they are doing the EXACT same things as those evil Darth Repubs. That's been amazing to me...to watch Obama do things exactly as Bush did(and a complete 180 from his campaigns and even his current speeches), and not see a problem.
    As for the individual issues...yes, we are leaving Iraq. That timetable was INHERITED from Bush, already in progress when Obama took office. Funny, how he neglects to mention that. Yes, he's concentrating on the Indian continent, and I'd assume it's because the military intel keeps him abreast on the situation. He does know more about the region, I'll give him that.
    As for the financial reforms, I'm going to go out on a limb and assume that this reform is as much a farce as the health care "reform"...with back door exits for all of his special interests, and fine print that shows that the "good things" aren't so good after all. Crony-capitalist orgy?? You mean like Geithner, Summers and Rubin? Those cronies?
    The health care law...we've beaten to death. It is NOT providing care for people and is forcing hardship on millions more. It is "allowing" people to purchase overpriced insurance with no controls on the premiums and no regulations on drug costs.
    Obviously, I'm not an Obama fan, but that doesn't translate into being a Bush fan. History did not begin in Jan.2000. Obama's own books present him as a radical left Marxist, and his years with Jeremiah Wright confirm that. We're "afraid" because we're watching those same policies being enacted here...to thunderous applause.
    I do think though, that the "progressive left" is in a bit of denial over how widespread the dislike of Obama's policies is. Moderate Reps/Dems, Independents, even some progressives who feel like they've been had. We are sick and tired of the corruption, the back room deals, the corporate sponsorship. They are crooks and need to be flushed out and replaced with REAL people who know how to balance a budget and care about their fellow taxpayers. The Beltway Boys are just as guilty as the big banks and corporations,making decisions that benefit their wallet and not us. Perhaps it's WASHINGTON that needs to be regulated.

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  8. Charlie--Yes, it's fasten your seat belts time. But I don't think it's in the way you intended, at least from my perspective.

    The frightening part is that the left STILL thinks that the Conservatives don't like change. Just because someone is conservative, does not mean that he or she does not like change. Perhaps someone is conservative because they are cautious and don't want to run full-bore into the storm; they want to make sure that they have an escape route. Perhaps they do not find the change that is occurring to be something that they can believe in, because they know that the nation is heading toward a cliff--so we do need to fasten our seat belts for a bumpy ride.

    Granted, President Obama has made commendable changes in foreign policy. His efforts this week alone have reflected a positive shift in diplomacy. At the same time, though, we still have the Patriot Act--renewed by the Democratic-controlled Congress—and the implicit assault on civil liberties. It’s certainly not the first time Democrats have supported a suppression of people’s rights—off the top of my head, the best example is the relocation of Japanese-Americans during World War II. And we still are involved in an “unwinnable” war in the Middle East. I was under the impression that the United States was going to be withdrawing our troops from Afghanistan and Iraq—and now there is a “timetable” that has us there another three years (at least) and sending more troops. It is starting to look like Vietnam all over again, with a Democratic president promising one thing to get elected and doing something else once he is elected president (shades of Lyndon Johnson—does anyone else out there remember the Democrats’ claim in 1964 that “A vote for Goldwater was a vote for the escalation of the war in Vietnam”—and Republicans stating later, “See, we voted for Goldwater, and that’s exactly what happened!”).

    Incidentally, Obama's "bold and unpopular economic remedies" were built upon the groundwork laid during the presidency of George W. Bush, under whose watch the first stimulus package (geared toward restoring business) was passed. The current stimulus package, from what I see, is one that is in effect a temporary fix that will be disappearing within the next year, unless there is another infusion of government funds to prop up programs that are currently relying upon these funds in order to survive. When the stimulus money disappears in 2011, higher education will be severely affected (we’re already working on a “workforce reduction plan” at the college where I teach in anticipation of the loss of federal funds), road construction will decrease or cease, and we'll be back to where we were economically two years ago, if not worse off. It took over a decade for the United States to recover from the stock market crash in October 1929, and really the nation did not rebound economically until World War II brought about full employment (mainly because soldiers went off to fight, and industry operated at 100% capacity). The economy has not turned around sufficiently, and the economic growth that has occurred is a result of the stimulus money—and will in all likelihood disappear when the stimulus money runs out. And, does anybody else wonder if we really needed all of the signs on the highways announcing that the road work is funded by money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009--I wonder how many people realize that stimulus money is being used to pay for signs that tell us how the stimulus money is being spent.

    More to come, as I am running out of space...

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  9. Okay, I'm back (yes, you can use the appropriate scary voice if you want).

    I'm still wondering why Democrats insist that Obama is so great. We are talking about a president whose approval rating has dropped below 50% according to the latest AP poll, and the polls show that only 44% of the American public approve of the health care plan recently passed by Congress. These pollsters can't just be talking to Republicans and Tea Partiers (not all of whom are Republicans); Independents and Democrats are disgruntled, too.

    The electorate is angry. Even folks who voted for Democratic candidates in the 2008 elections (such as myself--I did vote for Obama, and had high hopes of what he could accomplish) are rethinking their support of the party's candidates because of the way that Congress handled health care reform (of course, I'm using the word "reform" quite loosely; I don't think that Theodore Roosevelt, a true "reform" president, would have supported the plan that was rammed through Congress). On the bright side for Democrats, their fears about Scott Brown have proven to be unjustified, because he has supported Democratic initiatives so far and has drawn the wrath of the Tea Partiers who previously supported him (which means that the Tea Party can’t trust Republicans, either).

    And at what cost have we insured over 30 million Americans "who suffered from the inability to take care of their own and their children's health"? Why are Democrats still rejecting the fact that Republicans did have proposals for health care reform (one of which would provide Americans with the same health care plan that Congress currently enjoys, at a much lower cost)? Why does the new health care plan not cover members of Congress? What is in this plan that members of Congress don’t want to apply to themselves? Why are Democrats not accepting the fact that the figures provided by the Congressional Budget Office are soft figures, and that potentially 90 percent of the nation's economic production could be tied up in debt within a decade because of increased government spending? We are facing a $1.5 trillion deficit for this fiscal year. The total debt, incidentally, is projected to be over $14.5 trillion by the end of this year, an increase of over $5 trillion since 2008. The national debt accounts for over 87% of the GDP (gross domestic product) for this year, and the Office of Management and Budget forecasts that the gross federal debt will be 101% of the GDP by 2012 (yes, you are reading that correctly). More than 100% of your domestic production being tied up in debt is not a good thing--just like having over 100% of your income tied up in credit card debt is not a good thing. This is change that we can believe in?

    The deficit is increasing, and now it's going to be our grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren who will be paying off this debt—if the nation is still around in 100 years. We might not have to worry about manifest destiny, global warming, or terrorism. A national debt that put the nation on the brink of bankruptcy was one of the main contributing factors to the French Revolution (partly caused by French expenditures during the American War for Independence), and Britain's debt following the Seven Years' War (French and Indian War here in the colonies) was a factor in colonial unrest in the 1760s and 1770s (especially the methods that British government officials devised to have the colonists contribute toward paying down the debt). I'm not suggesting that we are on the verge of another American Revolution, but the debt issue/crisis is something we need to think about. Again, Charlie is right—we need to fasten our seat belts, because we’re in for a bumpy ride--one that we might want to get off, but can't.

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  10. Hi Charlie, you wrote a very powerful message. The only scarey thing for me is, I live in Orlando, Florida, a state with the highest unemployment rate in the country. I have been unemployed for two years; I am a full time student going for an Associate's Degree in Healthcare Administration, but I am very worried that there may not be anything out there for me when I graduate in 2011. I hope President Obama can come up with a cure for what is ailing Florida employers by then.
    Andrea Betzala EDT

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  11. A statement and a question:
    the independent CBS/Times poll ( and before anyone yells "liberal media," CBS is Viacom, a bastion of Capitalist corporate America,) The vast majority of Tea Baggers are white, male and rich....is it a surprise they don't want to pay taxes?

    If Obama is turning America socialist, how come the DOW Jones Index ( the barometer of healthy capitalism,) which was on life-support at Obama's election, is now, 20 months later, at a new high?

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  12. Some great statements here! Wow! Hard to bring much to Charlie's table on this subject. Also TxMusicGal's comment as well. But sorry to hear about your bad experience following this election. Agree that we have a great president here. We needed a pioneer and a great leader now more than ever. Hope more leaders will be like that and take chances. I can't understand these seemingly old fashioned type world views of some conservatives and in this day and age. The president doesn't seem hell bent on world domination to me. Seems to be a smart man who cares about America and her citizens. We are so lucky to be living here. We should start acting like a great nation united by brotherhood. Not by hatered against our government. Understand that we all have alot to worry about currently. And maybe that has alot to do with these protests. Fear maybe. Personaly, i love our government. Without her helpfulness and pity for the poor and less fortunate. I would probably not be here today. Was born in a car and dropped off at an ER sick and alone. Thanks to the care of hospital staff and being IV feed for 2 weeks and then on to foster care. Well,i am here. So i appreciate what my countrymen have done for me. Just wanted to share and also send out a"thank you" to fellow tax payers such as ya'll here. And as for others such as me, being poor is very difficult. They most likely appreciate the help as well. United we stand, divided we could fall.

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  13. I assume you're referring to this CBS poll?
    http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-20002529-503544.html
    They polled 1500+ people over the phone. 1500...you have more than twice that many fans on Facebook. A little more than 1/2 of the Tea Partiers(please stop using that offensive slang term..ewwwww) make 50K/year. That is not a tremendous salary for a group that the poll reports as "older". That's describing hard-working, middle-class people, who probably have saved for years to put their kids through college and seeing it vanish through corruption in government and its incestuous relationship with Wall St. And since this CBS poll was in conjunction with the NY Times..yeah, that's liberal media. Polls are notoriously wrong, wrought with lies, damned lies, and statistics. As for the "white" issue, there is another side to that race card. 98% of blacks voted for Obama, so naturally they aren't at the Tea Parties. The poll didn't ask questions like "Did you vote for Obama and now regret it?".
    As for the DowJones, I don't understand it as well as another replier might, but I do know that economics is cyclical and takes years to bear fruit. We don't know if the stimulus or anything else this administration has done has caused it. Wall Street is doing well...and yet they are the enemy? That tells me the "system" is working...the revolving door between Wall St. and K St. benefits them.
    I'll defer to someone else to explain the financial stuff. But I DO know a lot about health care. I think I can safely assume that the banks/Wall St are going to have their needs met and backs scratched just like the insurance cos, PhRMA, and hospital lobbies did.

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  14. Charlie, you're making this one too easy for me. I guess you have seen the news stories about the Tea Partiers protesting income tax day. First, does anybody really want to pay taxes? I don't think people are joyfully lining up today to send their hard earned money to the IRS (I certainly wasn't smiling when I mailed my taxes on Tuesday). And how do we know the wealth of these people? Are they wearing signs indicating their income?

    Anyway, opposition to taxes by the "white, male, and rich" is not new. The concept of a progressive income tax (which is what we have on the national level and in some states) is something that first gained support with efforts to organize labor in the late 19th century, as workers thought that an income tax would lead to higher wages (the idea was that industrial leaders like Andrew Carnegie would opt to pay his steelworkers more money instead of paying income taxes on profits to the government). The Populist Party adopted the idea of an income tax to attract the vote of industrial workers as part of its platform in 1892, and the Progressives carried it forward, culminating with the ratification of the 16th amendment in February 1913--which means that the income tax took effect during a Republican administration (Wilson was not inaugurated until March 4, 1913). Yes, the "white, male, and rich" objected, but it was now the law of the land. Shortly thereafter, the 17th amendment was ratified that provided for direct election of Senators--which means that the 16th amendment was supported by Senators who were political appointees and often were in the pockets of the same industrial leaders who they were now taxing (one senator from New Jersey even was facetiously referred to as "the Senator from Standard Oil").

    And the people of the United States have objected to taxes dating back to the colonial period. While there wasn't a lot of discontent when individual colonies levied taxes (such as for road construction, defense spending, etc.), there was considerable protest against Parliament levying taxes in the 1760s. One issue was the idea of "taxation without representation," since the colonists' experience with direct representation (in which the eligible voters chose their representatives to the provincial assemblies, and their representatives levied taxes) meant that they were objecting to taxes being imposed by a legislative body that they did not elect (in this case, Parliament). The colonists also rebelled because these new taxes were (1) specifically designed to raise revenue; (2) being imposed during an economic downturn; and (3) required to be paid in specie (typically they could pay their taxes with goods, produce, etc., not coins, which were scarce). The fact that people who did not pay these taxes would be tried before vice admiralty courts (which did not have trial by jury) further led the colonists to perceive that there was a conspiracy by royal officials to deprive them of their rights.

    Protests really started with the Stamp Act, when groups like the Sons of Liberty found some rather creative ways to oppose the Stamp Act (actions that make these Tea Partiers seem like pikers--I haven't seen the homes of government officials burned, tax collectors hung in effigy, etc.). The original tea parties (those lovely folks from Boston who dumped tea into the harbor were, too, white and male, but not necessarily rich--just disgruntled colonists expressing their frustration and perceived injustices.

    So tax protest is nothing new--it's just that "Tea Partiers" are now perceived by the left to be the enemy, when they are just following an American tradition. Just remember--protests against taxation are not new, and people opting not to pay taxes in protest is not new, either.

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  15. And, in case anyone is interested, the record high for the Dow Jones Industrial Average occurred on October 9, 2007, when it closed at 14,164.53, and its highest intra-day level occurred two days later. Today's closing number is 11,144.57, over 3,000 points lower than its height (but still over 4,000 points higher than when President Obama took office). By the way, the Dow Jones Industrial Average ended 2008 slightly below the 9,000 level and continued to drop after Obama took office, with the low point 6,547.05 on March 9, 2009 (the drop was almost 20% in the six weeks after he took office). So the argument that Obama is solely responsible for the economic growth is a bit off, because they economy continued to decline after he took office and has just begun to turn around.

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  16. I don’t think any one person can be blamed or particularly take credit for the stock market. That said, I often think that the market relates to the whims of a crzy world where one day a can of tomatoes can roll off a cart and the next day that can has rolled down a bridge, fallen onto a barge, jammed into the propellers of a ship making its way to port causing the barge to go askew, hitting a rock and NEXT thing ya know we got the biggest oil spill of the century, THUS hiking up the price of oil. … But that said, the price of oil is really regulated by a few very wealthy individuals who control the prices of lots of other stuff too. I’m being a little facetious here, but there just might be some truth to what I’m saying.

    The timing of the demise of the stock market while Bush was still in office is very clear, no matter what the overall Dow Jones numbers were. Some Republican friends of mine were so distracted by losing their money in the market that they nearly voted for Obama. After Obama was elected, as Charlie stated, he hired some folks who very simply put, kept the capitalist system alive. And my friends have gotten some of their money back since he’s been in office. Oh yes, it was very coincidental and all, but these are the facts. Wish I could have gotten bailed out too. But lest I digress.

    With the vestiges of US policies such as the support of the Shah of Iran and Israel’s domination of the Palestians incurring much wrath, the Bush administration’s decision to bomb the hell out of Iraq, as payback for 9/11, (but really as payback for Kuwait) left us hated in the Arabic world beyond what one could possibly imagine. There is no question that Obama has gone out of his way to try and derail some of this hatred. This is a fact.

    I wish that the nonviolence that was invoked by Ghandi and MLKing could be a response to terrorism and that we were not in Afghanistan. I don’t see a way out. Meeting violence with violence is unlikely to end well.

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  17. As I said, Conservatives are buried deep in the past and their futile attempt to preserve a time and place where white, landed, males counted as "everyman," and a tax revolt was aimed at a tyrannical, absentee, imperial power that refused to grant representation,could take your house any time it wanted and hanged people who breathed sedition against a foreign king!
    It's a little different now. How do they think their wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are to be paid for, how about our gigantic national infrastructure, how about our roads, security and education system? How about their homes when hurricanes, floods or fires destroy them? Is FEMA funded by the tooth fairy? Truly, I just don't understand this idea that we have some god given entitlement to a better life for our country without having to pay for it.

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  18. If you don't think the government can take your house any time it wants, just ask Susette Kelo.

    Funding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? The same way all the wars prior to 1913 were funded. (For those who have forgotten, there was NO INCOME TAX before 1913, yet there were wars.)

    Education? Who said it's the government's job to educate? Isn't that the parents' job?

    Roads? Should be paid for by the people who use them. Raise the cost of license plates to pay for roads and take the burden off those who don't use them.

    Security? Yes! That is the job of government. But they can do that without all the money they are taking for activities they shouldn't be involved in.

    FEMA? State Farm and Allstate aren't good enough for you? If people don't care enough to buy insurance for their property, why is it everybody else's responsibility to bail them out?

    Truly, I just don't understand this idea that we have some entitlement to the money of our fellow citizens when it's forcibly taken by the government!

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  19. We had a group of tea partiers (teddy bears and fresh linens were optional) here in Wichita. We also had a group called the "coffee party" here to protest them. I really liked one of the signs a coffee party member was carrying.

    It said: "Here's What 'No Taxes' Means to All of Us"-
    No defense and National Security, No social security retirement benefits,
    No medicare, medicaid and CHIP health insurance,
    No veterans and Federal retiree benefits,
    No safety net programs,
    No scientific and Medical research,
    No National parks,
    No highways and Infrastructer,
    No education programs,
    No social services,
    No student loans.

    And for the last time...Obama is not a socialist. He's mildly liberal for gawd sakes. He's not doing everything I'd like him to, but he definitely is moving in the right direction instead of off the cliff we were heading over before.

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  20. Conservatives want no such thing. Have you actually talked to any in real life? Or do you just "know" what we're thinking? Everyone understands the need for taxes..to pay, as you said, for our military, roads(which are military and we're only allowed to use them because we're not having a war at home), schools, the infrastructure, etc. That's NOT the issue. The issue is the fiscal irresponsibility with the monies they're already taking(and the internet has given us greater access to that waste). Check out the "Citizens Against Govt. Waste" website. They pay $500 for a toilet you can get at Home Depot for $49.99. They make contracts with their benefactors instead of shopping for the best price like normal people. The pork in the budgets is for idiotic things like observing mating habits of birds. And don't even get me started on Congressional salaries, perks, and lifetime benefits.
    But, Charlie...you said:
    [[Truly, I just don't understand this idea that we have some god given entitlement to a better life for our country without having to pay for it.]]
    I almost spit my tea on my keyboard. We have a tax setup where 40% of the people do not pay any tax! Many of whom are "generational welfare" who have never worked or paid into the system, do not pay taxes, and get all of the benefits(actually MORE, because they receive perks for which the rest of us don't qualify). I'm not talking about the truly disabled or people in need of temporary help...I'm talking gaming the welfare system...and we've all seen it, and it's not rare. That's where the question needs to be asked "why do you feel you are entitled to use things without contributing?". Have you gone down to a housing project and approached young men who are wearing designer clothes and sneakers, carrying an I-phone, and smoking a cigarette..and asked them why they are ENTITLED to all of that when the taxpayer pays their rent, food, and medical??? How do they pay for those gadgets and smokes? We have a system in this country that pays people to be a couch potato(and watch their big screen tv's with satellite dish), and then we also pay people to do jobs "Americans won't do"(but they don't pay tax either). Why is picking lettuce and mowing lawns not "good enough", when you CHOSE to drop out of school and get into trouble? Oh yeah, the ACLU said it was "forced slavery" to make people work for welfare. But, it's NOT forced slavery to make people work to pay for that welfare? The public is angry. The CBS article described the Tea Partiers as "Angry Protesters"...when was the last time you saw a deliriously happy protester? That's what PROTEST means.
    We should all pay our FAIR SHARE. The rich get tax shelters, the "entitlement mentality" crowd gets programs...and the middle class gets to pay for it. Something is seriously wrong here. The taxpayers are not the ones who are acting like they are "entitled". We're trying to keep our heads above water and expect people to buck up and take responsibility for themselves(with small help if needed), and for our government to be responsible with OUR money.

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  21. Okay , the following may not exactly fit into this blog, but if you have followed the news what is happening in Europe at present regarding the eruption of the Vulcano on Island, I think we should all stop winging .I have always said that nature revenges itself if we humans go overboard and this is a warning firstly to be gentle to our enviroment.
    I wonder however if this cloud reached the US if Obama would be blamed!!LOL As an outsider it seems what ever goes wrong is blamed on him. AS for the economy not only the US had to support these greedy bankers to stabilize the economy, otherwise there would have been more chaos. I don´t agree that they are making horendous profits again,but then look at it in another way if there was no money around where could the Govs. get credits to keep things going!! That is the case everywhere.I think America has to learn to accept a slower growth as such and what do people expect of this president that he shakes jobs out of his sleeve. To be honest America has lived beyond its means for years and has now to get back to normal.In this point I think the Europeans have more foresight
    in respect of looking at their future by insuring themselves healthwise etc.
    In the US I have the feeling that many think it is more important to insure their car than their health.
    I know my critique will not find approval with many of you , but I´m truly tired of seeing all these hate paroles that are being published. Contructive critic but not hate please.I have a feeling some people are making it a "sport" to find these things. I truly don´t think that the majority of US citizens agree with all these postings, but a you all know a minority can do lots of harm as the "bad" things are read easier than the good and constructive critic.
    I´m afraid I don´t go on to a couple of these forums much anymore because I see too much hate and it spoils it for those that just want a little fun. A pity.

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  22. Charlie,
    It’s nice to see that you are becoming more active in the blogs—it feels less like ungraded homework when I participate. I think what we might have, though, is a bit of a language barrier. There is a difference between “Conservative” (with a capital C) and “conservative” (with a lower case c). Conservative refers to an actual political party—the Tory Party in England, for instance, has also been called the Conservative Party (and yes, they are white, landed, and male). As far as I know, New York is the only state with a Conservative Party, and it is distinct from the Republican Party (although they do occasionally support the same candidates). In contrast, “conservatives” come in many shades—there are indeed conservatives who are white, landed, and male, but there are also conservatives who are female (like other participants on this blog), African American (former Oklahoma Rep. J. C. Watts, for instance), Latino/a, etc. who are not landed, white, and male. I identify myself as a moderate, because I see both sides of the picture—I do favor social reform, as long as it’s fiscally responsible (and it can be). There are landed white men who are liberals (Ted Kennedy fit into this category), just as there are property-poor conservatives today. Conservatism also comes in a variety of forms; you can be socially conservative (such as opposing abortion) and liberal in your political views, just as you can be socially liberal (such as supporting human rights) and conservative in your political and economic views. Yes, conservatism does include people who resist change—certainly conservative southern Democrats like Strom Thurmond and George Wallace resisted the civil rights movement. But conservatives are also taking a long-range approach to policymaking, as they see and anticipate the future impact of legislation.

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  23. I agree with Charlie about taking history out of context and using it for a platform.

    We need to hear more about what's new in "waste management of taxpayer money" on Capitol Hill.

    There is no hero or conquering army in all of this.

    Americans don't like anyone in leadership that use us so we want to do something about it - but do we need to trample each other going thru the EXIT door of the building of corrupt government?

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  24. Also, it appears that we have different interpretations/perspectives on the colonists’ resistance to imperial tax policies in the 1760s and 1770s (which is understandable, given our diverse educational backgrounds). Colonists did NOT object to paying taxes to support road construction, colonial defense, education (where applicable), or even to support a particular religious denomination (such as in New England or the southern colonies). They accepted it and did not rebel, mainly because they knew that the taxes were being imposed by legislators of their choosing (and establishing provincial legislatures was required in the colonial charters—so it’s not like the British government opposed the establishment of these assemblies, even if royal governors tried to shut them down in the 1760s and 1770s). They recognized the importance of developing an infrastructure as they were conquering the wilderness (displacing Native populations in the process, but that’s another story). They certainly did not object to paying taxes to support defense; in Pennsylvania, for instance, there was a mini-revolt in the 1750s because the Quaker-dominated assembly was not appropriating funds to build forts to protect settlers along the frontier who were facing the wrath of Native unrest. They were willing to pay more taxes if it meant protecting their lives and property. But when the imperial government began imposing new taxes in the 1760s to pay down the debt incurred during the Seven Years War and expected the colonists to help pay for the costs of administering the global empire that emerged after the 1763 Treaty of Paris, that’s when the colonists resisted for a variety of reasons (which I mentioned in a previous post). I guess you could consider Sam Adams, Patrick Henry, and the others as conservatives because they opposed this change, but I don’t think that you could really consider someone a conservative if the end result of his/her actions was to rebel against and overthrow imperial authority.
    The War for Independence/American Revolution was more than a revolt against imperial tax policies; it was a rebellion against what the colonists perceived to be increasing interference by royal officials in their daily lives (among other things—there really isn’t just one cause for the American Revolution). It was far more than a conservative movement of landed white men; it was supported by colonists of all socioeconomic groups, by both men and women, and by people of all races and ethnic groups. Yes, there were people who opposed the Revolution—some were Tories/Loyalists, and some did so on religious grounds (Quakers and other pacifist groups opposed the Revolution because they opposed any kind of warfare). And, in Pennsylvania, it became a democratic revolution that not only saw the overthrow of the British imperial government but also the removal of the Penn family as proprietors—and with it a total overhaul of the state government to make it more responsive to the needs of the people through more proportionate representation and more equitable tax policies.
    Meanwhile, I don't think the imperial officials hung anyone for sedition prior to the war breaking out in April 1775--and, once war is underway, it certainly was an acceptable (although unpopular) action. After all, Benjamin Franklin did state when the Continental Congress was declaring independence, "We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately." The signers of the Declaration of Independence knew that they were signing their death warrant if the British won the war, and they were willing to accept that fate. They were willing to die for their convictions, something that I'm not sure a lot of people would be willing to do today.

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  25. The Conservatives object to paying for poor people to live on welfare (particularly those who “abuse the system”) or to get social security or healthcare paid by their taxes, etc. that’s the point, I believe. Isn’t it true that they want everyone to pick themselves up by their own bootstraps, to knuckle under and stick it out? A very self interested demagoguery!

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  26. Deidre , well said!I there were no tzaxes where would we be?However not only in the States are the taxes burdened upon the hardworking middle class, it is all over the World that perks are given to to wealthy and if not they put their money elsewhere like Zwitzerland!
    JO (ZMT) I do agaree with you that it is unfair that only a small percentage pay any taxes at all, and mostly I´m surprised to hear that it is possible for someone to live on social services all their lives in the US I must admit I didn´t know this. Unfortunately you get these people everywhere,and I understand your anger.If a GOv wants to make achange there will always be thos "do gooders" who come up with a law that is against humanity. Believe me i know what I´m talking about!! We here in Berlin have criminal migrant families who have been on the system since they arrived over 25 years ago,and if they are to be deported some organisation comes up and prevents this and Germany is called racist!!I´m not talking about the integrated migrant who works and keeps the laws.
    I don´t mind paying tax if it is used properly but at present lots of the money taken in is going towards wars in Germany as in the US and education and other projects are on ice.
    Mind you I still think is everyones own responsibillity to see that their kids have schooling and provide some healthcare for themselves, and maybe it will just take getting used to making healthcare compulsary. Mind you when i see what US medics take for a consultations, I can understand why people don´t have insurances , as I´m informed despite insurance not all is paid for. If all were insured then "prices " would have to go down as there would be some competition among the medics that those that are reasonable will have more patients.
    When one looks at history ther have always been protests of some sort or the other and I not sure if everyone would agree you pay what you use as Gitel mentions! That would really bring up cheating, but maybe on the otherhand it would create jobs employing people to check up if one has paid for what one has used!!LOL

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  27. @Kathy...you said "The Conservatives object to paying for poor people to live on welfare (particularly those who “abuse the system”) or to get social security or healthcare paid by their taxes, etc. that’s the point, I believe. Isn’t it true that they want everyone to pick themselves up by their own bootstraps, to knuckle under and stick it out? A very self interested demagoguery!"
    You've misunderstood what I was saying. There are necessary and valuable social programs that are needed in any society to help those who are disabled and CAN NOT work, for those who need temporary assistance, and for those who are the working poor but can not make ends meet. Gaming the system(as many do) to me is STEALING..stealing twice actually. They are taking the hard-earned money from the taxpayers and worse, they are stealing money that is needed to care for those who are truly needy. If being angry about that makes me a "self-serving demagogue", well than that's what I am.
    I'd apply the same principle to our government...we know we need taxes for things, we give them the money...and they squander it then vote to take some more! Our money is being spent on frivolous pork projects(probably given to buy a vote) and on bureaucratic waste. They can't keep voting to raise taxes for some "do good" program, while still being foolish with what they've been given. And we have reached a point where the money you NEED to support your family and the charities you value is being taken by the government and used inappropriately. I think it's appropriate to be concerned about corrupted, corporate-owned government getting involved in more and more of our lives. We don't trust them....and for good reason.
    I will say though,in defense of Obama, that this did not start with him nor is it all his fault. It's been brewing for decades. It's just now, the internet has given us so much more information about the goings on in Washington, the details of bills, etc..that we are more aware. Especially since this last election got many more people(both sides of the aisle) involved in political discussions. He is the target of wrath that really is meant for ALL of them, Republican AND Democrat.

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  28. @ Liane...thank you dear for understanding what I'm trying to say. Yes, we have "generational welfare" in this country, and it has become a way of life. That's not how the program is meant to work, and it is creating a lot of anger. Truly disabled people have to jump through bureaucratic hoops to get accepted into the system(and have to prove they're still disabled every year)..while others collect.
    But you said "We here in Berlin have criminal migrant families who have been on the system since they arrived over 25 years ago,and if they are to be deported some organisation comes up and prevents this and Germany is called racist!!"..and that is EXACTLY what is happening here in the US.

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  29. Replying to ZMT's last comment about the welfare program. I live down the street from a government housing project. You are correct. There are alot of young males with designer clothes on. And i can tell you that alot of them get there dough from dealing drugs and/or stealing. There has been a recent amount of robberies and identity thefts over there. They are getting their relatives social security numbers by snopping and getting phones turned on etc. in grandma's name. Also lying on income tax returns about fictious self-employeement. They will prob get caught in the end. Have a friend who stays over there if you are wondering where i got my tips. Wanted you to know their money is most likely not from the welfare program. Since president Clintons welfare reform came into play. Welfare is nearly impossible to get. Unless you have a newborn baby. And that part is very temporary. It is easier to get social securtiy than to get welfare now. And the reformation (welfare to work) meant that they do have to report for job searches weekly and the penalties are stiff. They loose medicaid and foodstamps as well. With 30 day penalties, even if they get a job. There is no more generational welfare reception. And has not been for 10-15 years. Research the qualifications for welfare and you should see. Perhaps there is some housing assistant. Due to state cutbacks alot of federal programs have been cut down or out. Easy acess to drugs. Like perscription abuse etc is your problem here. As well as the high crime rate. That is why the law is cracking down with stiffer penalties for prescription street sales and crimes involving weapons. Such as 10/20/life. Here where i live. 25 years for pedaling presciption pain meds. Is making it harder for people who need it to get it as well. A waiting period. Drugs are a huge problem here in Florida and imagine most likely all over. Don't know about Charles, but i talk and agrue with conservatives alot. Most everyone i know has conservative views. Every blue moon i get (a rare oppro) to have a conversation with a liberal. Which is a nice change! Have felt like the oddman out alot. Only once in a while to we agree on current gov or world views. And lately it seems as though some are growing more afraid of the possible arrival of the 2012 apocolytic scenarios. Which in their defense, mother nature sure has been showing her wrath here lately!

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  30. @ anonymous(skat)...thank you for that post. I'm showing my age when I use the term "welfare" which to me, encompasses Section 8 housing, food stamps, medicaid, etc. Perhaps I should have used the word "entitlement". And, there is generational welfare. My friend is a teacher in an inner city high school, and these kids come from homes on public assistance(in some or all forms), get pregnant at 16, get their own card and benefits, and the cycle continues.
    So, this housing project near your home...these guys are in trouble with the law, dealing drugs, stealing identities..yet they live in taxpayer subsidized housing and COLLECT SOCIAL SECURITY??? How in God's name are they getting on SS? Ok, so call it SS instead of welfare...it's still wrong and needs to be handled.
    This blog really isn't about welfare, and I wouldn't have mentioned it if Charlie hadn't talked about "entitlements to take without paying in". But, it's an example of the government mishandling the taxes with which they are entrusted...which IS the point of the blog. The Tea Partiers are not trying to get out of paying taxes, we're trying to get an honest, responsible government.

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  31. Oh i see! As "welfare" you meant foodstamps & medicaid too. Just misunderstood. No They are not on SSI, unless they live with or care for someone who is poor and disabled. I just meant it is easier to get these days than welfare. Or AFDC. Is the actual name. These boys date or stay with someone who gets help with housing. Or they are just hanging out. Also, you can't recieve AFDC if you are under 18 and pregnant. Not sure about food stamps. These folks probably do get stamps, housing and some get medicaid or medically needy (share of cost). But if you add housing on assistance, your food stamps amount goes down. Or if you add more child support (which for the record alot of these women don't get) or SSI then your stamps go down etc. Understand that this is not what the blog is about. Just think sometimes folks may not understand this system. Even though it seems as though they are getting a free ride, these folks usually have no transportation, sometimes little furniture and often live with violence etc. Is no picnic, i assure you. I hear what you mean about repeat family stamp holders. This is because that way of life is what they know and are used to. Their parents may be encouraging them to apply. Understand that this is upseting the thought that they may never get a job. But i feel that day will evenutally come that they will not have much choice. Is not much fun to struggle with financial troubles all the time. We need to somehow show them a better example. Mostly education, i think. I agree with you that there is abuse. We need more anitdrug programs as well as counseling for women in poverty areas to give them better self-esteem. Also gangs and bad crowds are a problem for guys. Course i am not a social worker. Just ideas. Thanks for commenting back ZMT. I need to remember to stop clicking through facebook. Keep messing up my name by not logging in through blogspot.

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  32. @Gitel: There was public funding for education in several New England colonies in the 18th century, and public schools were standard in the north by the mid-19th century. Public education wasn't common in the southern states until after the Civil War. The idea wasn't that it was the government's job to educate, but it was the government's job to provide funding for schools so that children could be educated by trained teachers (instead of by private tutors). It was the parents’ responsibility to make sure that their child/children received sufficient education (usually just reading, writing, and simple math, along with some occupational training), and often this was enforced by law. One reason for child labor laws during the Progressive era was to enable children to attend school (instead of parents forcing the children to work to supplement the family income). The funding was paid for through taxes--in many states today, it’s through property taxes, which means that property owners are paying taxes to support local schools long after their children have ceased attending them (which in some cases has led to taxpayer revolts and proposals to develop new ways to fund public schools, including casino revenue).

    @JoAnn: I think we did see some deliriously happy protesters in the 1960s, but I think that their delirium was medically-enhanced. Also, I think that part of the problem is that Social Security has become much more than the old age assistance plan that was developed during the New Deal, as it now encompasses disability benefits in addition to Aid to Dependent Children, Medicare, Medicaid, etc. So the folks who are living taxpayer subsidized housing and collect Social Security probably are receiving disability benefits. I agree, though, that it doesn’t seem right that they dress better than we do and drive better cars than we do (but I suspect that I do get better gas mileage).

    Finally, we must remember that the Progressive agenda was first introduced by Republicans over 100 years ago--so the idea that only Democrats can be agents of change is inaccurate. Republican lawmakers passed the Federal Reserve Act in 1913 to regulate the banking industry. Republicans broke up the large trusts (for example, Standard Oil) during the early 20th century; it was during the Democratic Clinton administration that oil companies started merging, with the federal government implicitly condoning mergers that in at least one case combined companies that had been dissolved earlier in the century. So if you want the nation to pursue a Progressive agenda, it cannot be an agenda that solely is the purview of the Democrats in Congress, as there are some Republicans who do support a more liberal agenda (the two senators from Maine are good examples of this). Hopefully Congress will start addressing some of the problems we are currently facing and truly cooperate in a bipartisan manner. The purpose of an elected legislature has always been for members to use their best judgment in determining how best they can serve the needs of the people they are representing—not those of special interest groups or lobbyists. But our government is one in which the people ultimately rule—at least that’s what it states in the Preamble to the Constitution.

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  33. I just wanted to comment on Food stamps. My son works for at super market. He's seen what food stamps buy these poor people. Lobster, the best steaks, the things that most middle class people cant afford. There should be guild lines on what can be bought with food stamps. There used to be. But anything goes anymore. We live in a very nice area. Middle to higher class incomes. He's told me that he's seen people that he knows has money use food stamps. There's a man that my husband works with, the 50.000 rang, and he comes in and uses food stamps. We have no idea if they are his, or he gave one of his clan the money and they gave him the stamps. They are from India, and they call their family, their clan. Not my word, theirs.
    The point is, that there is no supervision of where are tax dollars are going. I dont have a problem if the money goes to the needy or the disabled. But I do have a problem with people using the system to milk it for all its worth.
    As for the government, they are doing the same thing.
    They use the money as if its theirs. Its not. Its ours. They work for us. Not the other way around.

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  34. Karen-

    As one who receives SS and Medicare and medicaid-I must remind you that those of us who are , shall we say , "age challenged--have paid into this system for many years--I am still working full time and drawing SS and still paying into SS and I wouldn't have it any other way-- There are those who abuse the system and I resent that-but I also am aware that many others would be destitute without it and if my taxes help pay for that--then so be it--sorry to have digressed from Charlie's -"Fasten Your Seat Belts"-

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  35. Good point here queenleeno1. There should be exceptions to what you can purchase on stamps. Lobster is just overboard. Also, some people will loan out or sell their stamps for cash or drugs. Which is illegal! But as long as you have the pin#, anyone can use them. They should check the name on card and drivers license. We also have the self checkout lane. So i guess this idea wouldn't help a whole lot.

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  36. @nanabev: I'm not objecting to Social Security, Medicare, etc. I do think that they serve a purpose, and I have worked with people who were drawing Social Security and were still paying into it because they were employed (and they also had an earnings cap because they were receiving their monthly checks after turning 65). I'm just stating that what comes out of the Social Security fund covers a lot more than it was initially intended to do, and that's why some people (not me) object to paying FICA, Medicare, etc. I'm also realistic enough to know that the system we have today probably won't be around when I'm old enough to receive the benefits (and I'm not exactly a spring chicken myself), just like I'm not counting on the $184.25 per month pension from my previous job to survive (mainly because it probably won't be there after the company emerges from bankruptcy court).

    I know firsthard how much this assistance means to many of the mature citizens (age-enhanced?) in this country. It's a way for them to maintain at least a semblance of their independence, even if they might have to adjust their spending expectations because the money just doesn't go as far as it used to (although hopefully those adjustments don't include cat food instead of tuna fish).

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  37. @my dear friend Deidre...your post:
    "It said: "Here's What 'No Taxes' Means to All of Us"-
    No defense and National Security, No social security retirement benefits,
    No medicare, medicaid and CHIP health insurance,
    No veterans and Federal retiree benefits,
    No safety net programs,
    No scientific and Medical research,
    No National parks,
    No highways and Infrastructer,
    No education programs,
    No social services,
    No student loans."

    Those things ARE necessary and that's why we have taxes. The TEA party logo says "Taxed Enough Already"..not no taxes ever. What we're upset about(and it sounds like the Coffee Party is too) is the IRRESPONSIBILITY of the government. They do not budget the money wisely and spend it frivolously...then come back for more!! Could you do that to your boss? Buy yourself manicures, clothes, jewelry, phones, satellite dishes(and shamelessly flaunt it no less), then go to your boss and demand a raise because you can't pay your mortgage? He'd laugh in your face, and rightfully so. That's what's happening in DC, with OUR money. Pork barrel nonsense, wasteful "shopping", lavish meals and booze for the lobbyists. It's beyond ridiculous. As David Vidal says,most of us(except for the fringes) agree on about 90% of the stuff and can compromise/work with the other 10%. It's like we're fighting over who gets the bigger bedroom while the house is on fire...and that's JUST what the politicians want us to do. Blame each other, because if we unite against them...they are screwed.

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  38. Yes, there are cheats, but are you suggesting that no one cheats on their taxes? or are you saying that because some people do,we should abolish taxes, like we should abolish food stamps? In divorce papers, recently, it was revealed that the McCourts ( owners of the LA Dodgers, amongst other multi-billion dollar holdings,) had not paid taxes for over 8 years!!

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  39. I'm certainly not saying that no one cheats on their taxes, but I know that I don't (and I'm guessing that you don't, either, Charlie, or you wouldn't have brought it up). I take the standard deduction, and I fill out the extra Schedule C and Schedule SE to declare a small honorarium I get as an officer in a professional organization and pay the proper taxes (and yes, I do complete my own income tax forms--federal, state, and local). I'm probably an idiot for doing it myself, but since I know how to fill out the forms, and my deductions wouldn't exceed the standard amount, I don't see the sense in paying someone to do what I can do myself. I might be an historian, but I also worked over a decade in finance, so I do know my way around a balance sheet.

    I also don't think that we should abolish taxes, as they do serve a purpose. Our schools are in dismal shape with leaky roofs and outdated textbooks (the one local school is still using books published in the 1960s--someday, man might walk on the moon!), and they are facing serious financial challenges because of declining tax revenue, including a reduction in extracurricular activities and decreased services for at-risk and special needs students. Our roads and bridges are in trouble, with potholes swallowing up small cars (or breaking our cars' axles). Social Security as we know it won't be around by the end of this decade, because the baby boomers will begin tapping into the pool. We may grumble about having to pay taxes, but we do know that our government would not be able to function these days without that revenue. It's why state and local governments are always looking for more sources, such as table games, slot machines, lotteries, etc. It just would be nice to know that everyone is paying their fair share and not trying to find loopholes to avoid paying (and obviously, since I don't itemize, I'm not being very creative when filing my taxes).

    I do think that the IRS should be more aggressive in going after people like the McCourts who fail to pay their taxes (eight years!). I still remember when the government seized Willie Nelson's assets in the early 1990s and he recorded a couple of albums called "The IRS Tapes" (with all proceeds going to pay off his back taxes). Perhaps now that the McCourts' finances are out in the open the government can reclaim its lost revenue (with severe back penalties, of course). After all, failure to pay taxes can come back to haunt you--it's how they finally caught Al Capone.

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  40. Charlie, I'm not sure if you're speaking to me or Lee(or perhaps both)? I assume that Lee and I agree...we NEED programs like food stamps, subs. housing, medicaid etc. Can't we have those things for the truly needy, and still deal with the fraud issue? As more people need assistance, the government expands the program and doesn't deal with the waste and abuse. WIC has an approved list of foods, why can't food stamps? There's something fundamentally wrong when taxes are used to buy gourmet food while those how pay the tax are eating hamburger helper. It also hurts the truly needy, because they are judged by the behavior of the cheats.
    Just because people cheat on taxes, doesn't mean we don't need taxes! But if the govt. needs the money, why are they raising the taxes on the honest citizens instead of getting the money from the cheaters? Again...no accountability and a mismanaged mess.
    Hard to take the government's concerns about tax cheats seriously, when the head of the Treasury Dept can't figure out TurboTax and had been a cheat for so long, the statute of limitations had passed and the head of the Ways and Means Committee(which writes tax code)is under investigation for tax fraud and claims it's because he didn't understand the tax code! That worries me a lot more than the owner of a baseball team.

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  41. Charlie,
    Just out of curiosity, did your choice of the McCourts as an example of tax cheats have anything to do with being a disgruntled Dodgers fan? After all, the financial aspects of their divorce proceedings did impact the way the Dodgers' management (especially the general manager) approached the off-season. They only signed a few free agents (including a couple who re-signed with the Dodgers) and are projected to not make the playoffs this season because of the financial uncertainty. I would think that better examples of tax cheats would be the first few Attorney General prospects during the Clinton Administration who had to withdraw their names after it was disclosed they did not pay taxes for their domestic help who were illegal aliens. There's probably a few Congressmen on that list of tax cheats, too, along with assorted Cabinet members over the years. At least we do know that President Obama paid his taxes this year (and how much he paid--a lot more than I did, but then his income was a lot higher than mine).

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  42. @JoAnn, I was quite offended by how you choose to discribe "corruption in goverment and it's incestuous relationship with Wall Street." This statement does a great disservice to myself and to all survivor's of incest. Incest happens between close relatives not improper relationships within our goverment.

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  43. Just a reminder to everybody: We didn't always have welfare. Before welfare (and any other entitlement program) we had charities take care of poor people. And they did a mighty fine job.

    Since Lyndon Johnson declared a "war" on poverty, and the government took over what the charities did so well, the number of poor people has risen tremendously.

    There is not one case in the history of the US where the government took over a service that was previously done privately and done it better. Usually they did it worse.

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  44. @JoAnn~@Charlie,
    Thanks JoAnn for answering Charlie's comments. I agree with you that we were referring to the ones that milk the system that we all pay for. Not the ones that truly need the help. I've seen what Medicare and Medicaid are used for when my mother was in the nursing home, and such.
    Also there was a time when she needed food stamps and other helps so she could get back on her feet when she was younger and needed the help. It was temporary, just to help out for a short time.
    That's what it was intended for.
    Not a life long insurance policy, so you never have to work again. Unless there is a physical problem that stops you from earning a living.
    No one is saying that we should do away with Welfare, or SSI, or SSD, or food stamps or Medicare/Medicaid. Just keep things as honest as possible.
    I know that is asking to much these days. But its a good goal to work towards.

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  45. Not sure that charities were doing enough back then. Or now. Which is why the government probably took over the program. Have you guys ever been to a homeless shelter or these food and or clothing lines? The conditions i have seen in the shelters were horrible. The smell is bad enough to almost knock you down. The food lines give people a very small amount of food. A small box or bag to hungry people. To last a week or a month. Sometimes they even run out of them. Most of the people in these lines are adults with children or eldery & physcially disabled persons. It is hard to stretch a social security check through to the end of the month because you have bills to pay at the beginning of the month. Currently there are also the "working" poor or unemployeed. Personally i feel that churches should be helping out these charities and the government more. I have been told that churches used to do more for the poor in the past. I think since the government stepped in, maybe they've stepped back some. Hope not to offend anyone here. Seems they do help out more at Thanksgiving and Christmas time, which is nice.

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  46. @skat...you made some good points. BUT...I see it from the "other side"(I'm in leadership in an Evangelical Church with a food pantry, clothing closet, a room for household goods like pots/pans/dishes, even ESL classes). ALL of it is totally self-sustaining...we all pick up a few things every week(and if a certain item is running low, an email goes out). Very easy to do with sales and double coupons...anything that I can get for "free" or pennies goes into the pantry. We all save our diaper coupons and put them in the nursery for the moms.
    The PROBLEM is that these churches also want you to know Jesus(and we don't force it, but don't hide it either..it's called "Lifestyle Evangelism"). We don't get government subsidies, like the "bad smelly shelters" get. Perhaps the "bleeding heart liberals" are not donating enough to these secular programs? Hmmmm?

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  47. @Charlie I just wanted to talk a little more about this “global warming” that you have mentioned. You said and I quote “and please don’t tell me that it is getting colder because ‘look at all of the snow we had this year!’”
    So, I won’t!! You are very right in this area because according to Dan Shapely of “The Daily Green”, weather events are NOT “climate”; climate is the accumulation of weather events over an extended period of time. With that in mind… according to the “Friends of Science” website, over the last THREE decades accurate satellite, balloon, and mountain top observations have NOT shown any significant change in the long term rate of increase in global temperatures. How does that explain a “global warming effect”?
    I will agree, though, that according to research we have had a very, very slow increasing in global temps with a few cold streaks along the way. However, as stated above it is nothing of MAJOR significance. And as for the claims of CO2 having such an effect on everything that is just a plain and simple farce. NASA reports that because of Solar Flares the Sun is the hottest it has been in over 100 years. That’s strange because as I recall there are NO cars on the Sun! “Global warming” is said to be causing ice to melt on Mars. Hmmm…there are NO cars on Mars, either! Most of the temperature increase happened before 1940 (Before most carbon dioxide was released by cars and factories). The hot year of 1998 was caused by El Nino.
    Environmentalists are fond of jerking heartstrings with pictures of polar bears struggling on supposedly melting icebergs, but it’s estimated that there are now 22,000 polar bears compared with 5,000 in 1940. That’s like implying that the government is “shrinking” when in reality the bureaucracy is growing out of control.
    Politicians love the green agenda, of course, because it means more control, more regulation, more taxes, more summits, and more opportunities for displays of self-important zeal. Who actually benefits from this “global warming” hoax? The answer is many people , from an ex-Vice President to the head of the UN’s IPCC to every scientist receiving grant money to research it.

    So, it comes as no surprise to me that in the 1996 report by the UN on global warming, two statements were deleted from the final draft. Hmmmm….I wonder why?!
    Here they are:
    1) “None of the studies cited above has shown clear evidence that we can attribute the observed climate changes to increases in greenhouse gases.”
    2) “No study to date has positively attributed all or part of the climate change to man–made causes”
    To this present day there is still no scientific proof that man-made CO2 causes significant global warming.
    That’s because it ISN’T!! There is NO such thing as man-made “global warming”! It is, however, similar to a man-made “religion” in the fact that it requires devotion rather than intellectual rigour from its adherents. And, just as in many religions (with the exception of Christianity), the route to personal salvation lies in the performance of superstitious rituals, such as changing a light bulb or arranging for a tree to be planted after every airplane journey.
    My point that I am trying to make is that this belief in “global warming” is just a scare tactic being used to manipulate the population so that certain individuals or parties can attain political power. I won’t mention any names *wink, wink* but isn’t it alarming that Al Gore has the power to silence so many people who disagree with him by making the statement that “the debate is over in the scientific community” when obviously it is NOT?! The UN claims that they have nearly 2,500 “scientists” who state that there is “global warming” yet there are more than 31,000 scientists that state otherwise? YOU all do the math!! That’s about 8% who are deciding its real vs 92% who oppose their claims. Something just isn’t adding up with math now, is it?!

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  48. Public assistance isn't a new concept--it certainly is not a product of the New Deal or Progressive legislation of the 20th century. Almshouses (forerunners of present-day public housing) date back to the colonial period in North America and back to the 10th century in England. In the colonies, these were public facilities funded by tax money that served the needs of the poor, infirm (which meant a lot of things back then, ranging from physical disabilities to mental illness), aged, etc. They would operate a farm that would grow food to feed the residents and sell the surplus to help with operating costs. By the middle of the 19th century, specialized state institutions were developed to address the needs of people with a variety of physical and mental ailments (for example, schools for the blind, mental hospitals, etc.), and the almshouse became more of a home for the indigent until they could get back on their feet economically. Churches were also involved, but their facilities were somewhat different from the public ones (they certainly were better maintained). So the idea of public assistance for those in need is not a relatively new concept, but one that has existed for almost 300 years in what is now the United States. The difference is that the expectation then was that it was a temporary situation; you did not plan to remain in the facility for the rest of your life (unless you were aged), and it certainly wasn't something that you wanted your children and grandchildren to experience if it could be avoided.

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  49. About global warming--Thanks, Valerie, for bringing in the scientific debate. I guess when the astronauts in Apollo 15, 16, and 17 drove the Lunar Roving Vehicle on the moon in 1971 and 1972 they contributed to global warming. And, of course, since a Republican was president then, we can blame the Republicans--right? Or do we blame the Democrats, since the space program was Kennedy's brainchild?.

    Also, does anybody else besides me wonder how Al Gore (and others) who are touting global warming/climate change as the end of the world as we know it can in good conscience promote environmentalism and yet drive SUVs that get less than 20 mpg? I must admit that I could probably leave a smaller carbon footprint than I do, but I am active in recycling (at least as much as our local area permits), and I drive an economical car that gets 30-35 mpg. Where I live, though, we are considered one of the "dirtiest" counties in the U.S. for air quality, but there is hardly any industry here--it's the blasted cows releasing methane that are causing the problems. So does this mean that we need to eliminate cows, because they contribute far more pollution to the air than do cars? Or do we hope that the folks who pride themselves on providing carbon offsets realize that they are leaving a greater footprint with their gas guzzlers, as they are not only creating pollution, but they are increasing our nation's dependence on foreign oil?

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  50. Some talk of the Constitution as written in stone, yet they are also the ones who insist that this should be a "Christian Nation." The Constitution made it VERY clear ( and Jefferson's writings even more so,) that the Christian religion had no place in our nation as any kind of "official" religion. Where were these "Constitutionalists" when the words..." under God" were arbitrarily written into our Pledge of Allegiance in the '50's?

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  51. What exactly is worth conserving in this great country? Is our Constitution worth conserving?

    I believe very strongly in social programs as every nation that has neglected their weak poor and infirm has failed. Is there waste, fraud, and abuse, most definitely, and it needs to be addressed. Unfortunately it will not be addressed because there are too many officials that are benefiting greatly from said waste, fraud, and abuse. There is no way to stop that abuse as long as the program is a viable source of income. It is sad that with every social experiment in stopping 'welfare' it has cost society a lot more than these entitlement programs have. As for charities, history has proven that even the best funded of the bunch cannot provide for the poor on donations alone. Jo, how would your church handle it if 30,000 more people came knocking at the door for assistance?

    For those of you who claim that we had it better before this so called 'welfare state': Why did we have the uncontrollable rise of Worker's Unions? They literally became a civilian government. I detest unions, but agree with the purpose of them--to hold corporations accountable to their employees. Altho well intended, they too became corrupt. Major corporations would fire tenured workers, avoiding paying retirement, and those were not isolated incidents, they happened by the hundred's of thousands. Then came the crash and millions were on the street, and it wasnt just irresponsible, greedy corporate execs. it was everybody, they add severe drought and a massive cat5 hurricane along the east coast and with all of that, it was proven that charities were unable to keep up with the demands.

    Now as for generational welfare recipients, stop to think what kind of mentality it takes to live in abject poverty. When I was on welfare 22 yrs ago, I received $470 cash and $260 in food stamps, can a single parent raise a child on that? NO!!!! I would rather see a person with food stamps buy lobster then pre-prepared meals, those that are buying the lobster show more of a sign of knowing how to cook and plan meals. And do be careful, not all that flash that Quest card are on food stamps, I know several that get their child support payments that way.

    Schooling is soooooo necessary. Some claim that is the responsibility of the parents alone, no it is not. The reason we went to the socially supported schools is because too many people were not educating their children. It was more important for the child to work along side parents in order for the family to survive. With today's drop out rate, could you imagine if basic schooling wasn't mandatory?

    Cheating on taxes, either legally or illegally is an age old tradition. just think of where our deficit would be if everybody payed the taxes they owed.

    lotsalu

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  52. I would much rather see children working alongside parents than going to school for a few years, not learning anything, being disruptive, then dropping out to hang out on a street corner.

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  55. (sorry, I needed to edit something)
    Charlie:
    If you are wondering where the “Constitutionalists” were when the words “under God” were added into the Pledge, they probably were in hiding. The early 1950s were the time of McCarthyism, when civil liberties were limited, people took loyalty oaths to hold jobs, and the “Hollywood Ten” were blackballed because of communist sympathies. Questioning how the government was interpreting the Constitution would have been considered treasonous, and you could have lost your job, been imprisoned, or forced to flee the country.

    The only place in the Constitution where religion is even mentioned is in the 1st Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion….” Nowhere does it state “Christian religion,” nor does it require a person to follow any religion. Several states refused to ratify the Constitution without the inclusion of this protection (among other guarantees in the Bill of Rights); Virginia had already adopted The Statute for Religious Freedom (authored by Jefferson in 1779), and Pennsylvania had included religious freedom as part of its colonial and state constitutions since its inception in 1681. Connecticut and Massachusetts, however, continued to require church membership (as in membership in the Congregational Church, formerly Puritan Church) in order to vote into the 19th century.

    The words “under God” were NOT “arbitrarily written” into the Pledge of Allegiance in 1954. They were added by a Joint Resolution of Congress, with President Eisenhower (raised a Jehovah’s Witness, but a recent convert to Presbyterianism) endorsing the change. Including the phrase “under God” had its inspiration with the Gettysburg Address (in which Lincoln stated, “that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth). The pledge itself was originally written by a Baptist minister and first used in public schools on October 12, 1892—the 400th anniversary of Columbus “discovering” America. The idea of adding “under God” to the pledge came from the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Sons of the American Revolution, and the Knights of Columbus began including the phrase in 1951.

    How many of you have looked at the money in your pocket lately? Does it bother you that your coins and currency state “In God We Trust”? Did you know that “In God We Trust” is our national motto, adopted in 1956? This, along with “under God,” comes out of the Cold War, when the United States was “fighting” against those irreligious Soviets (and other communists) who abhorred religion. We were making a statement to the world, in a sense, that we were ready to fight the good fight and save the world from the forces of evil, and that God was behind us. The inclusion of “In God We Trust” on money and “under God” in the pledge, incidentally, has survived numerous court challenges, even though they clearly can be construed as violating the 1st Amendment.

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  56. (continuation of previous post)

    And, if we want to bring Thomas Jefferson into the conversation, he probably would be supporting the Constitutionalists today. The modern-day Democratic Party can be traced back to the party created by Thomas Jefferson in the 1790s (then known as the Republican Party, because Democrats were those crazies chopping off the king’s head in France) in opposition to Alexander Hamilton (leader of the Federalist Party) and his loose interpretation of the Constitution in creating a National Bank. The Jeffersonians opposed the formation of the Bank because it did not state in the Constitution that one could be created—in other words, they had a literal or strict interpretation of the document (one that obviously has relaxed over the years, as nowhere does it state that the U.S. could buy land from another country—such as Jefferson did with the Louisiana Purchase). So, in many ways, Jefferson would have supported the folks who want a strict interpretation of the Constitution today and would have opposed an extension of the federal government into people’s daily lives. After all, he would have considered that to be quite similar to what the colonists had faced in the decade before the American Revolution (had to throw that in on Patriots’ Day). He would not, however, have supported the notion of the United States as a Christian nation, because he really considered himself more a Deist than a Christian—plus endorsing one particular religious belief is contrary to his views on religious freedom. Jefferson was so proud of this accomplishment that it was one of just three things noted on his tombstone (in addition to writing the Declaration of Independence and founding the University of Virginia).

    Now if the question was what would Jefferson think if he were alive today, I'm not sure if I would trust the opinions of someone who would be 267 years old. I certainly would welcome the challenge and adventure of talking with someone who was present when this nation was formed and who is considered to be our most intelligent president.

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  57. So, Gitel, you would support illiteracy? You said you would rather have the children working than going to school, now if they do not learn to read and write, how are they going to teach their own children when the time comes?

    Tetsa, have you looked at your own state laws to see what health care laws are already in place? most states have even more stringent
    laws than what this new insurance bill has.

    Nanabev, there were many different proposals by the republicans that went totally and completely unheard. Every says they were just saying no, but they were providing other alternatives, but those suggestions were falling on deaf ears. It really surprises me that President Obama gets both the praise and the blame for this insurance bill when it was Max Baucus (D-MT) that authored the majority of it.

    lotsaluv

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  58. I don't support illiteracy. However, I also don't support "students" who have no interest in learning sitting in a classroom taking up space and disrupting those students who do want to learn.

    And if you look at studies of home-schooled children, you will find they do better than their government school-educated counterparts, regardless of the education of the parents.

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  59. Gitel, you are comparing apples and oranges here. Let us compare a student that has an IQ of 135 in public school, private school and home school and you will find that there is NO difference. Those who want to learn, learn regardless of those disruptions, those who are just passing time will do it regardless of those disruptions and use those disruptions as an excuse and those that are disruptive, well let's just toss his/her arse out of school and put them to work. My husband and his family were migrant farm workers and they relied on his wages to survive. There is absolutely NO reason that a family should have to rely on the wages of a six year old to survive. Altho I respect your perspective, I do firmly disagree with you.

    lotsalu

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  60. I know this might not be the right place to bring up this topic, but is anyone else on this blog troubled by this Facebook page:

    DEAR LORD, THIS YEAR YOU TOOK MY FAVORITE ACTOR, PATRICK SWAYZIE. YOU TOOK MY FAVORITE ACTRESS, FARAH FAWCETT. YOU TOOK MY FAVORITE SINGER, MICHAEL JACKSON. I JUST WANTED TO LET YOU KNOW, MY FAVORITE PRESIDENT IS BARACK OBAMA. AMEN

    Aside from the fact that the creator misspelled Patrick Swayze's and Farrah Fawcett's names, I think that this page demonstrates some of Charlie's concerns about the direction of this country. It currently has over 500,000 fans (well, now over 500,000 people "like" this page--and I'm certainly not one of them).

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  61. I forgot to mention that the creator of the page indicates that they wish no harm toward the current president but want to express their disapproval of the President Obama through humor. Does anyone else think that there is a better way to indicate your discontent than to create a Facebook page that could attract the attention of Secret Service? There's now 570,000 fans and counting...

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  62. @Karen..I do agree with you there..stupid move. The political climate is just too volatile, to be making jokes about wishing death on ANYONE. All this will do is feed the monster.
    I've received this "joke" over email many times this year, in various forms. Sometimes it's "my favorite Speaker", other times a sports team or Dancing with the Stars contestant. I don't think anyone is seriously praying for the death of another, but it's not funny.

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  63. Anytime that people use prayers in such ways and then refer to themselves as religious or patriotic are just full of BS. Kidding or not! Can not think of much more hypocritical than this.

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  64. Sorry, am I missing something? Where is the humor in that? It is so sick for anyone even to suggest such a thing--How low can we go-

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