Monday, September 15, 2008

Beware...Political Post :)

It's my one and only political post. It’s a long one, but it’ll be my only one….I promise. These are just my opinions and a couple of facts/quotes I've found. I figured that everyone is tip-toeing around on their blogs and not talking about politics. Well I’m going to have my say (it’s my blog, anyway!) and then I’ll be done. You can take it or leave it. I hope that you all have an opinion one way or another and that your opinions are based on facts and/or feelings ... and not the hearsay or opinions of others. I hope you all get out there and vote. That's the most important thing. We are given this wonderful opporunity (gift) in America and there are millions of Americans who DON'T have an opinion either way.

I’ll start by saying that I know all politicians no matter what their “party” are mostly crooked – they change their statements time after time and when it suits them. They ALL do this, it’s nothing new, and if you think your candidate isn't wishy washy on some topics or hasn't flip-flopped … think again. They have. If you think they haven’t lied or told half truths to get them where they are….think again. Unfortunately, it’s the nature of their game – tell the American people what they want to hear.

I am a democrat by nature. I believe in the in the working class people, and while I’m anti-union because of what it has come to stand for (workers who do less making equal pay) I do believe in consumers as the advocates for just working conditions and equal pay, for civil rights, for protecting the environment, for reproductive freedom (pro-choice!), for gun control, for education, for better health care, and for a humanitarian social policy. That said, I've voted for both parties. I've tried to make “informed decisions” based on the issues and beliefs each candidate stands for and have not voted “democrat” just because that’s what my voter registration card reads. (I'm also argumentative....which I think has to be the trait of a democrat!)

I think as I am getting older politics in general, especially around election time, interest me more. I think it’s the hope and promise for a better future for our children, one where there is equal treatment for all, where women continue to have the right to choose, where everyone has the opportunity to have good health care and can get a good education. I am not as interested about the taxes. I know I should be…but either candidate is going to raise our taxes, it's a fact. We have to know that by now. (Otherwise how are they going to fund all these wonderful programs they keep telling us about?) I am more interested in seeing what our presidential candidates – and their “teams” can do for our planet and becoming less dependent on foreign oil so that we don’t have to live in as much fear that when the gas price hits a certain dollar amount how are we going to afford to get to work?

Prior to McCain picking Sarah Palin, I was more “on the fence” with who to vote for. I've always kind of liked McCain, even though he’s a hot-head, he’s always spoken his mind, something I respect. However, since choosing the Palin, my decision is easy. Obama. No question about it. I know that Palin is only a VP contender and not our President, but McCain chose her with the thought in the back of his mind that she would be running this country should anything happen to him. I believe that Palin is a hypocrite (hiding her pregnancy from her constituents until she was 8 1/2 months due), I believe that she is immorally dishonest – she couldn't tell her own kids that she was having a baby with downs syndrome – at least to prepare them – instead she chose to let them figure it out when they meet the baby for the first time. I realize that taking care of a DS infant is not that much different that taking care of a healthy infant and the additional care isn't needed until the child is a little older. However, I would imagine that her kids didn't know that, and that had to be horribly shocking, and even more heartbreaking to know that your mom knew but didn't tell you. And her reason for not telling her kids? “She wasn't sure how to tell them, because she was shocked and unsure if she was ready to embrace a child with special needs” is so pathetic … what are us Americans to think when she has some really horrible news to share with us? Is she going to tell us? Will she be holding something back, hiding it by the scarf she’s wearing? I find it cliche to see her up there talking about her policies when she has in her own state funded sexual education programs that included only abstinence … and yet her own teenage, unwed daughter is pregnant.

Prior to the RNC I was undecided. I thought it was disgusting the way Mayor Giuliani ripped apart people who donate precious time to “ community organizing.” The way they laughed and mocked at Barack Obama for trying to help his community was appalling to me. From Wikipedia: Community organizing is a process by which people are brought together to act in common self-interest. While organizing describes any activity involving people interacting with one another in a formal manner, much community organizing is in the pursuit of a common agenda. Many groups seek populist goals and the ideal of participatory democracy. Community organizers create social movements by building a base of concerned people, mobilizing these community members to act, and developing leadership from and relationships among the people involved. Organized community groups seek accountability from elected officials, corporations and institutions as well as increased direct representation within decision-making bodies and social reform. Where negotiations fail, these organizations seek to inform others outside of the organization of the issues being addressed and expose or pressure the decision-makers through a variety of means, including picketing, boycotting, sit-ins, petitioning, and electoral politics. Community organizing is usually focused on more than just resolving specific issues. Organizing is empowering all community members, often with the end goal of distributing power equally throughout the community. Community organizers generally seek to build groups that are democratic in governance, open and accessible to community members, and concerned with the general health of the community rather than a specific interest group. It surprised me that was the focus of their entire speech, since usually community organizers and people who support their communities (big or small) are usually selfless human beings who donate precious time away from their families and work for free. Remind me if I ever want to run for office not to help my community or organize any efforts to “help thy neighbor.” Apparently for John McCain’s group, community organizing isn't an important bullet point for a resume.

Let’s put a couple other things out on the table, since I know you Obama haters are already going there: (Smile)

On Obama voting “present”: He voted “present” 129 of 4000 votes – or roughly 3% of his votes while in the Illinois Senate. For anyone who is interested, a present vote is a third option to an up or down "yes" or "no" that is used with great frequency in the Illinois General Assembly. It has many varied and nuanced meanings that, in the context of the actual bills, border on boring. It's most important use is as a signal -- to the other party, to the governor, to the sponsor -- to show a willingness to compromise on the issue if not the exact bill, to show disapproval for one aspect of the bill, to question the constitutionality of the bill, to strengthen the bill. Basically to me – it says “let’s keep working on this” and it seems to be what he did when he didn't agree with some portion of the legislation but perhaps agreed with the bill in theory. As well, if you look at the facts, in many cases it seems he voted “present” as part of a group strategy. By the way – FYI - you can’t vote “present” in the US Senate. You can miss the vote, but present isn't an option. And to be clear – in this present term of congress, Senator Obama missed 45% of the votes, while his running mate Senator McCain missed 64%.

On EFCA – (The Employee Free Choice Act) This is something I totally and completely disagree with, and I hope that Obama and his team revisit this legislation. I don’t think many people even know what this is and/or how it will affect them. I believe that many union workers today (particularly teamsters – sorry if I’m offending anyone) use the union as a way to work less and get paid more. NOT ALL PEOPLE, but I've personally, first hand, witnessed people who think they are entitled to the same benefits and pay just because they are part of the “union” and not because of their work ethics. And unfortunately, the union backs this theory up. I understand the reason unions were formed, and think they had their place in history, I do not believe they hold many benefits for our society today – which I know is a major conflict to my democratic beliefs. However, with that said, since unions are unfortunately an everyday part of our society - we have to respect their place and try to work with them and those who organize. There are companies who threaten employees pay, benefits, employment …even physical harm should they consider organizing. That isn’t right either. EFCA will mean many changes to our workplace. Here are some other facts you might not know about this piece of legislation, this is very important:

EFCA Excludes Employers From The Representation Process. Secret ballot elections work. In fact, the overall union election win rate has remained steady at 58-61% in recent years. The NLRB’s time-honored election process establishes a fixed timeline and gives employers, unions, and employees adequate time to communicate facts and share points of view. By contrast, EFCA will create a largely unregulated atmosphere where employee “choice” is sealed off from any input save the union’s. This violates the spirit and intent of the free speech rights expressly set forth in our labor laws.

Employers Must Consider Year-Round Campaign. EFCA allows a union to gather signatures without the employer knowing anything about it until the union asks the NLRB for certification. At that point, it is too late for the employer to do anything about it. Facing that scheme, an employer would have to consider seriously communicating with employees throughout the year about the benefits of operating union-free. This not only would be a major distraction for the entire business, but also any discipline would take place in the context of the employer campaigning against the union. The odds of any adverse employment action becoming the subject of an unfair labor practice charge would increase dramatically.

EFCA Allows A Government-Paid Arbitrator To Set Wages and Benefits. Perhaps the most shockingly anti-employer provision in EFCA is its requirement that the union can call for mandatory arbitration if the parties have not reached a first labor agreement after only 120 days following certification. EFCA’s mandatory arbitration provision is essentially government-mandated interest arbitration. The arbitrator – a government employee – writes an entire two-year labor agreement for the parties. Imagine just these few examples of potential outcomes as a result of this provision:

Arbitrator imposes on a struggling employer a restrictive no-subcontracting clause, a plant closing moratorium, or a broad successor and assigns clause obligating a purchaser of assets to assume the contract.

Arbitrator grants significant pay raises when the employer sought concessions.

Arbitrator requires the employer to make contributions to an underfunded union defined benefit pension plan instead of providing a 401(k) plan.

Arbitrator establishes overtime pay on an 8-hour day instead of a 40-hour week.

Arbitrator says that seniority – not merit – is the basis for promotions, transfers, layoff and recall, etc.

Arbitrator mandates employer participation in an expensive union health and welfare plan.
Substantial labor unrest is a strong possibility when these first contracts expire as employers take a hard-line approach in renegotiation's to achieve the terms and conditions they wanted two years earlier. This could result in more strikes and have a destabilizing effect on the economy.
EFCA Makes Increased Litigation Inevitable.

If EFCA becomes law, it will likely come under legal challenge before the ink is dry on the President’s signature. Employers will find themselves mired in more NLRB litigation because year-round campaigning could “taint” otherwise legitimate disciplinary decisions (or so employees and unions will argue). Union pressure tactics to gather signatures could lead to legal objections when the union claims representation. Some employers may have no choice but to seek to modify or vacate arbitration awards setting the terms of the first labor contract. Employers may be less inclined to settle cases where the NLRB insists on EFCA’s harsh fines and penalties.
Higher Union Density Could Mean Higher Costs. EFCA will undoubtedly reinvigorate Big Labor’s organizing efforts. This renewed energy and EFCA’s card-check process will almost certainly result in more organizing “victories” and thus increased union membership. As union membership climbs in various industries and geographic areas – combined with mandatory arbitration of first contracts – employers could see corresponding increases in labor costs. When you consider this on a national scale and in the context of highly competitive cost pressures, EFCA’s impact becomes significant.

The Impact of the Employee Free Choice Act on Employees
Employees Will Make Uninformed Choices
. It is ironic that a law named the “free choice act” is designed to inhibit employees from making an informed choice. Union organizers lawfully can promise employees higher wages, more paid time off, guaranteed pensions, and a host of other “goodies” to induce a signature. Who will give employees the facts about the collective bargaining process? Who will inform employees that union promises are not guarantees? What about employees who want to speak out against unionization?

EFCA Would Create An Atmosphere Of Peer Pressure … Or Worse. The NLRB’s secret ballot election process protects employees from any undue pressure at the crucial moment when they are being asked whether or not they want to be represented by a union. No one ever knows how the employee voted, unless s/he volunteers that information. EFCA would strip away the secrecy of the process and introduce the potential for high pressure tactics in its place. It would subject the employee to the urgings of professional union organizers and pro-union coworkers in an unregulated atmosphere.

Employees May Lose The Right To Vote On Their Labor Contract. Ignoring the “Employee” in its title, EFCA’s mandatory arbitration provision gives employees no opportunity to ratify their first contract. The union presents its case for the labor agreement it wants, and an arbitrator decides. The employee is left on the sidelines, even though the union expects him/her to be a dues-paying member.

EFCA Invites Work Stoppages After The First Contract. In situations where the parties are living under the two-year first contract mandated by the arbitrator, there is a strong possibility that the employer would seek wholesale changes in negotiations upon contract expiration. Unions typically oppose concessions, so the stage for labor unrest and work stoppages would be set.

Basically - a union would be considered organized if 50% of the workers just sign union cards. This could put pressure on the workers (who may not otherwise WANT to organize) to join the union for fear of retaliation. There are also a lot of other little things which makes EFCA something we don’t want, but it’s something Barack Obama strongly supports, and the Teamsters are one of his biggest supporters. Unfortunately, some version of EFCA is not something that John McCain doesn't reject so strongly that he wouldn't consider EFCA in conjunction with another bill – for example, he might sign EFCA in order to get an energy bill passed. So EFCA is a very real possibility with either candidate. Let’s just keep our fingers crossed on this one.

On Obama’s experience:
Everyone is commenting on Obama’s experience versus Palin’s experience. Let’s get some facts out:

B.A in political science from Columbia University, with a specialization in international relations
J.D. in Law from Harvard, graduated magna cum laude; President of the Harvard Law Review
12 years (92-04) teaching constitutional law
7 years State Senator: sponsored more than 800 bills
4 years Senator for Illinois, a state with 12.8 million people

Bachelor's in journalism from University of Idaho
4 years Wasilla City Council (8000 people)
6 years Wasilla mayor (8000 people) Left the town in a financial deficit.
1 year "Ethics Commissioner of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission"
20 months governor of a state with 660,000 people

Ok, Obama did not run a city, a corporation and he wasn’t a governor of a state. I will give you all that. However, he obviously has political experience beginning with his education all the way through his career. Does running a state with 660,000 people make Palin more experienced? Nope. She said it herself, she hasn't really been that focused on the war in Iraq. (HUH? And this woman could possibly be put in charge of our military????) <-- more on that in a second. She talks a big talk – she has definitely got her speaking skills down, and she definitely wins the “Sexy VP” award. I love that she brings up how she “gave up the luxuries at the governors mansion” for the good people of Alaska – such as the corporate jet – which she listed on eBay. It cracks me up that she apparently tells that story over and over but ALWAYS fails to tell people that the plane didn't sell and that they finally sold it to a plane broker, at a loss to the state of about 500,000.00 (check She also fails to mention that she left her little tiny town of Wasilia in a deficit. Hmm. So she ran a city into the ground, sold the infamous plane for half a million dollars less than it was worth … but because she has some management skills she’s more qualified? HELLO PEOPLE….she has been quoted as saying she hasn’t been that focused on the war in Iraq. Read this: Alaska Business Monthly: We've lost a lot of Alaska's military members to the war in Iraq. How do you feel about sending more troops into battle, as President Bush is suggesting? Palin: I've been so focused on state government, I haven't really focused much on the war in Iraq. I heard on the news about the new deployments, and while I support our president, Condoleezza Rice and the administration, I want to know that we have an exit plan in place; I want assurances that we are doing all we can to keep our troops safe. Every life lost is such a tragedy. I am very, very proud of the troops we have in Alaska, those fighting overseas for our freedoms, and the families here who are making so many sacrifices. WTF! That quote infuriates me, and literally has me seeing red!!! And you want to put your trust in this woman…..who hasn’t been “really focused” on the war in Iraq? I don’t know one single person who the war in Iraq doesn’t affect, hardly know anyone who doesn’t know someone who is there or recently has been there on a tour since we’ve been “at war” … and the death tolls are on CNN practically every night (4157 Americans as of today). So I don’t know one person in this country who can say they haven’t been focused on the Iraq war…particularly someone who is actually involved in our government?

I watched some of the RNC and DNC. I will tell you that I thought there was much more excitement and overall hope for change watching the DNC. Perhaps that is the eternal optimist in a democrat. There was just “joy” – people were clapping and crying and hugging with the prospect that maybe we’ll work towards a better and more peaceful future for our children. But with the RNC, what I saw was mostly anger … let’s win at all costs, let’s drill (remember “drill baby drill”),and we’re going to take down anyone who threatens us…we’re ready! I know the conventions are mostly rhetoric, but I’d GLADLY stand beside someone who was getting people as excited as Obama was – people who WANT to see change and at least TRY ... experience or no experience rather than the same old same old.

My husband told me something that a co-worker said to him – apparently there is something in the bible that indicates that a Muslim/person of middle-east descent will get into power and that will be the beginning of our end, and they believe that if Barack Obama gets into office, that this could be it. Well, if you look back at Barack’s family tree (check Wikipedia) – there is no middle eastern blood running through his veins. He is African and American. His father’s people were from Africa (Kenya) and his mother’s people were from Kansas. His father adopted the Muslim religion because of all his travels to the middle east and found it intriguing, as people have done with many religions. It just shows you, though, how when people hear something, they believe it without checking out the facts! They hear Obama – and they think: Muslim from the Middle East. Ha! How wrong they are!

And I’ll leave you with a couple more differences ON THE ISSUES:

•Withdraw all combat brigades during first 16 months in office
• Temporarily keep a much smaller "residual" force there to fight terrorists, but no permanent bases
• Opposed going to war with Iraq in 2002
• Opposed the troop surge

• Withdrawal if Iraq is secure, no timetables (If the end is in sight, why won’t you give a timetable McCain??)
• Would support a long-term non-combat troop presence in Iraq, unless Iraqis want us to leave• Supported going to war with Iraq in 2002
• Believes our initial strategy in Iraq was a failure, but that the troop surge is succeeding

• Seeks universal coverage through federal subsidies
• Mandates that insurers cover all who apply
• Allow private plans, but monitor them for fairness
• Invest in technology, regulate insurance and drug company profits

• End tax exemption for employer-based insurance
• Create healthcare tax credit to help people pay for private or employer-based insurance
• Thinks individual responsibility will lower costs
• Would work with state governments to cover uninsured groups

Energy and the Environment:
• No offshore oil drilling, subsidize clean coal
• Subsidize corn ethanol, keep tariff on imported sugar ethanol
• Large subsidies for renewable energy research
• Consider constructing more nuclear plants
• Double fuel economy standards within 18 years
• Cap-and-trade plan to reduce emissions 80% below 1990 levels by 2050
• Auction off all emissions credits, limit the use of offsets
• U.S. must take first step in emissions reduction, but all countries must join in

• More domestic oil drilling, subsidize clean coal
• End corn ethanol subsidies, lower tariff on imported sugar ethanol
Stable tax breaks, not subsidies, for wind and solar
• Construct 45 new nuclear plants
• Enforce existing fuel economy standards
• Cap-and-trade plan to reduce emissions 60% below 1990 levels by 2050
• Give away many emissions permits to industries, allow unlimited use of offsets
• U.S. must take first step in emissions reduction, but all countries must join in

Abortion and Stem Cell Research:
• Supports Roe v. Wade & Freedom of Choice Act
• Allow partial-birth abortion bans with expanded exemptions for health of mother
• Pregnancy prevention through contraceptives and comprehensive sex ed
Federally fund embryonic stem cell research
• Amend constitution to ban abortion except in cases of rape, incest, and risk to mother's life
• Ban partial-birth abortion
• Pregnancy prevention through adoption and abstinence-only sex ed (Yeah, that worked for Palin's daughter!)
• Federally fund embryonic stem cell research
NOTE: Palin is fiercely pro-life and supports overturn of Roe v. Wade and is anti-abortion in all cases EXCEPT in case of risk to mothers life, even in cases of rape and incest. This is probably the biggest sticking point for me on Palin – a woman’s right to choose – I’ve never been in this situation, and I’d never have an abortion, personal choice. However, I am pro-choice because I believe people have the right to make the decision that is the best for them. I believe they will have to live with that decision and will stand up someday and face their Maker with the decisions they’ve made and have to answer for them. I cannot imagine my daughter being brutally raped, and then being forced by our government to carry that baby to term, and my belief (wrong or right) is that our God would understand that. I totally get the "Pro-Life" movement and do not believe in abortion as a form of birth control. However, in cases of rape, incest, etc. - I do not see, and will refuse to understand where ANYONE has the right to tell someone what they have to do with their body, especially after that trauma. (I get that the baby didn't have a choice either.)
I also find it extremely disturbing that one could be so pro-life on one hand and so pro-death penalty on the other hand. You don’t get to take away someone right to choose about their body in one aspect – especially if that choice was taken from them by being raped, and then decide for them in another aspect.

Gay Rights:
Do not reverse state court decisions that legalize gay marriage
• Supports national civil union legislation
• End "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"

• State voters, not courts, should decide on gay marriage
• Leave decisions on civil unions to states
• Continue "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"

Economy, Taxes, and Spending:
• Several tax increases for highest-income earners
• Tax cuts for low- and middle- income earners and many other specific groups
• 5-minute filing for taxpayers who do not itemize
• Has not pledged to balance budget
• Spending increases for healthcare, energy, military
• Economy and tax code too skewed toward wealthy
• New stimulus package with rebate checks and aid to local governments
• Extend and expand unemployment insurance
• Government-backed mortgage relief for some subprime mortgage-holders

• No tax increases, make Bush cuts permanent
• Further tax cuts for people with dependents, businesses, estates
• Create an optional flat income tax
• Balance the budget by 2013
• Cut earmarks, subsidies, other unspecified areas
• Believes tax cuts will best strengthen the economy
• Stimulate economy with tax cuts for businesses
• Create personal accounts for unemployment insurance
• Government-backed mortgage relief for some subprime mortgage-holders

Social Security:
• Social Security funding problem is real but manageable
Fund by raising payroll tax on people making over $250,000 a year
• Opposes personal accounts and privatization

• Current Social Security system is broken and unsustainable
• Do not reduce benefits for current retirees, reduce future benefit growth to fund system
• Add voluntary personal accounts with which young workers can invest money

Guns and Crime:
• Some restrictions on certain types of guns
• Supports death penalty in more limited circumstances
• Ease some drug sentencing requirements
• Undecided on medical marijuana

• Do not restrict guns for law-abiding adults (This means even automatic weapons!)
• Keep death penalty as it is now used
• Tough drug sentencing except for first-time users
• No medical marijuana

I just hope we can get past all the petty crap in the media today and focus on the real issues at hand. Lets focus on the hope that is real and the people (us) who know we can make a difference and elect Barack Obama!!! It's time for a change in our government and we can do it.

By the way, I watched these clips - John McCain on The View. These ladies were TOUGH on him! They need to be on the debate panels!!

Oh, and anyone who thinks JM isn't out to overturn Roe V. Wade .... Um, think again! I LOVED Whoopee Goldberg's comments - does she have to worry about returning to slavery .... perfectly put Whoopee! Again, after watching this - I have no doubt who I'm voting for.

Good luck to everyone, and Happy voting!

And one last thing that I found on a blog that I read- VERY INTERESTING! The political compass. Take this test to find out whether you lean more left ... or right. It turns out, i'm not as FAR to the left as I thought! (Smile!)
Have good evening everyone...


1 comment:

Ashley said...

Great Post! And I just watched all of those videos.. interesting.. thanks for all of the info!!!