Saturday, February 28, 2009

Health Care - Are the Europeans as Bad off as the they Would Have Us Believe?

Since President Obama announced his budget plan last Thursday, I've heard the same thing over and over again-he wants to move us toward a European system, especially with health care, like it's a bad thing. What I want to know is, what's wrong with that? Do we hear Europeans complaining, ever? Do they hate their system so much that there is some mass exodus of Europeans fleeing to other continents?

Last fall, NPR ran a great series investigating health care in Western Europe. Listen and compare these two stories describing care in Amsterdam to the U.S. You tell me which you would rather have.

Yes, Chances Are You Will Get A Tax Cut

From AP, an article written yesterday breaking down your taxes in realtion to the new budget. Again, unless you make $200,000, you are going to see a tax decrease.

If You Love This Country, Pony Up

Some folks are born silver spoon in hand,
Lord, don’t they help themselves, oh.
But when the taxman comes to the door,
Lord, the house looks like a rummage sale

Fortunate Son
Credence Clearwater Revival


I am going to say something that nobody seems to be willing to say…

In order to restore this country’s strength, I am willing and prepared to pay my fair share.

Roads, schools, hospitals, police & fire departments do not pay for themselves. Bullets, bombs, tanks, jet fighters, and other tools and services of war are not free. Necessary Innovations like green technology or reforms to health care can only come about through Government investment, which is expensive. The banking mess, which we all had a hand in by not handling our money responsibly, requires Government intervention, which will end up costing a lot of money

All of these things must be paid for one way or another and it’s time for all of us to pay our fair share. Now, if you watch the talking heads, you would think that the Government is trying to squeeze every penny out of us. The truth is, I just got a tax cut, and chances are that you did too. The only ones who are getting a raise in taxes are those of us who make more than $250,000 a year. If you do happen to make that much a year, congratulations, pony up. We’re rolling you back to the Clinton year rates, and things weren’t so bad in the 90’s, were they.

Most people I know don’t have nifty ways to save on taxes because we just don’t have that much. My tax form is pretty straight forward. I own a home and have a kid. After that, it’s a copy of my W2. I’m sure if you’re one of the 1% getting the rollback, you ultimately pay a greater amount than I do, but you make more and can absorb the hit, so l don’t really feel that sorry for you. It’s not like you have to trade in the Benz for a Dodge. I’m sure you won’t have to sell your home and I’m confident your standard of living won’t change that much.

For the good of the country, be an American, and pull your weight. Everybody else does.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Friday Night! Outta Sight! - Stevie Wonder Superstition

Warning - Media Bias Against Budget Creating Class War

Yesterday, I commented on my displeasure with the Today show and their coverage of President Obama's budget proposal. Specifically, I was disappointed that they would have a Republican analyze the budget as opposed to somebody that might know something about it, like an economist.

Media Matters goes even further. It appears that there is a full court press against budget. It is being framed as a new class war is beginning with Obama leading the charge. Redistribute from the rich to give to the poor. Never mind the fact that we're talking about 1% of the population and rich folks have both the money to spend and save while the middle and the poor would just spend, ultimately stimulating the economy better than the rich. The media would have us believe everybody is getting a tax increase. Also note, that the reporters screaming the loudest are the ones making more that $250k.

The deck is stacked, the media is dealing. Read the article and find out for yourself.

Mr. & Mrs. Taxpayer - You Will Pay, One Way or Another!

I just heard the most frank discussion on the nations banking situation to date. The report comes from NPR's Morning Edition. In short, one way or another, the tax payer will pay, either though taxes or lost jobs. If that wasn't bad enough, the longer we wait, the worse it will get. The problem is debt and we're all responsible.

Listen to the story and brace yourself.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Bolton Uses Chicago as Nuke Joke-CPAC Laughs

Nothing is funnier than discussing a nuclear attack on a major American city, like, say Chicago. Not really. Watch and read in utter disbelief as Think Progress reports that is exactly what happened during John Bolton's speech at CPAC.

CPAC Kickoff! Be Very, Very Afraid!


Well, today is the first day of the Conservative Political Action Committee's (CPAC) annual ignorance fest. Check out this report from MSNBC First Read. Yikes! A 2012 Draft Palin Committee selling campaign posters? Joe the Plumber hosting a panel and discussing the possibility of running for office? NRA shooting ranges? Seminars on how the South will rise again? Movie previews touting the myth of global warming? Ann Coulter? Rush Limbaugh? John Bolton? They have more monsters in one place than the Universal Pictures lot!

Remember the Matrix? You know how the machines enslaved people to power their machine world? If the Matrix ran on this kind of brainpower, the machines would be dead.

Note to Media-Please Find and Use Credible Experts!

The White House released it's budget today. There are three things that I strike me as positive. First, the $634 billion down payment on health care. Second, for the first time, they are budgeting for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Finally, and this is the most controversial, another $750 billion for the financial industry.

I am aware that people are worried about the deficit and the amount of money being spent. That said, Mr. Obama warned us about this in his Address to Congress. He warned us that more money was required for banks so they could loosen up credit for regular folks and small businesses. He told us that he was going to aggressively attack the problem of health care. Finally, he told us that he was going to change the accounting practices of past budgets, which would require that he actually budget for the wars. Frankly, if you've been paying attention, then you shouldn't be surprised.

That said, my purpose today is not to debate the budget itself. Today, I would like to ask the Main Stream Media to stop bringing in politicians and political spokespeople to discuss these things and start bringing experts! This morning, the Today show had Republican spokesperson and former George W. Bush advisor, Mary Matalin, on to discuss the new budget. Golly, I wonder where she stood on the matter? If you guessed "We need to stop stimulating the Government and start stimulating the economy" and "tax cuts for small businesses will get us out of this mess" then you are right. It's the same thing every time and they keep trotting these people out like they know. However, the only thing they really know is the party line.

You know who actually does know? Well, we are talking about the economy, so maybe we should hear from economists! I don't care if you have a Democratic economist and an Republican economist or a conservative economist and a liberal economist. If you talk to enough economists, then you'll probably come to a majority conclusion! Let's say we're talking about global warming and the environment, wouldn't we want to hear from environmental scientists? Politicians know politics. I take that to mean, they know how to play their game to get what they want. That doesn't necessarily mean that they always know what's best, otherwise we wouldn't be in this recession, right?

So please, Main Stream Media, please give the public the benefit of the doubt and bring out some real experts and let us make up our own mind. Now is not the time for simple, easy, party line politics.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

In Appreciation of President Obama's Address to Congress

Last night Address to Congress was everything that I had hoped it would be. As I previously stated, my initial reaction was overwhelmingly positive. Obama has always been a great speaker and I was confident that he would rise to the occasion yet again. Delivery is one thing. Content is another and there was a lot to like in what he said. What stuck with me the most was the middle section, which discussed energy independence, health care and education. These three things will do more long term good for our economy than any tax cut ever will.

Start with energy independence. The benefits are simply amazing. Starting with government investment, there is no doubt in my mind that the U.S. will become the leader in renewable energy. Sell this technology around the world, technology that is developed and made in America. Not only do we create jobs and new growth, but we begin to save the planet as well, leaving the Earth better for our children and their children. Oh, and it's good for the economy.

As for health care, well, we can debate this all we want, but I think that's the #1 killer of American business today. Maybe you've heard the story about how Starbucks spends more on health care than on coffee. I have personally heard stories of premiums of $400 per month followed by $2000 deductibles. How is that possibly fair to the working individual? What are they paying for? This country will be crushed by the weight of this kind of overhead. There's so much talk about protecting small businesses. I think they should start by fixing health care. Oh, and it's good for the economy too.

Finally, the President brought up education. I have thought about this for a long time. My thoughts are selfish. There is a distinct possibility that I will end up in a nursing home someday. I want the absolute best care and I don't want a bunch of nit-wits that can't read working on me. Even more important than that, we need to give our children the very best education simply because better educated citizens can do more. Smarter Americans equals a stronger America. Oh, and, yep, you guessed it, a smart America is good for the economy.

The one thing I have always liked about our President is that he tells it like it is. He never talks down to us and gives us credit for having the ability to think for ourselves. He can be brutally honest one minute and completely uplifting the next. Frankly, he's cool. But what I appreciate the most is his instance in thinking and planning for the long term in spite of short term gains.

Jindal Response Panned by Fox News!

You know things are bad when your own support system, in this case Fox News, rips your presentation. But that is exactly what happened last night after Gov. Jindal finished the Republican response:



Think Progress has a little more here and TPM has a nice observation here. As for comedy, check this from the Huffington Post.

I sincerely hope we don't hear from this guy for a while. It is apparent that he is positioning himself for a run at the Presidency, so you can bet we will hear from him again. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Initial Reactions to Address to Congress & Response

I just finished watching the President address Congress.  President Obama has left me with an overwhelming feeling of confidence and hope.  I am optimistic for the future and have a firm belief that we have the best possible leader at the helm.  I believe that we will recover and America will be stronger than ever.



Bobby Jindal is on TV right now.  He's sounds like Mr. Rogers.  I'm surprised he didn't put on a sweater and change his shoes while singing a song.  I'm waiting for muppets to pop out from either shoulder telling me this message is brought to us by the letter "D" for devoid and the number zero, as in zero ideas.


Congressman Jindal Voted for Unemployment Money

This is just too good!  You've been reading in these pages about Jerk Store favorite, Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA).  Gov. Jindal has been everywhere, making sure that everybody understands that he is firmly against the stimulus and that he is going to take a pass on nearly $100 million of unemployment aid for the out of work folks of his state.  Think Progress Reports that former Rep. Jindal voted for similar unempolyment legislation while he was in Congress.  

Last night on Countdown, Keith Olberman interviewed Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL), who lit Gov. Jindal, and his fellow Republicans, up.  



What!?! Dong Bags Would Have Saved Tax Dollars?!?

Did you hear about the one about the stimulus?  You know, the one where Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) tried to slip in some money for rubbers and the Republicans were like "No way, lady!  We hate this stimulus enough without you trying to get money for free Rough Riders!"  And then, the Administration was all, "Yeah, we're trying to create jobs here, so we'll take it out."

Well, it turns out that we would have saved 4 dollars for every dollar spent!  As said in the clip below, "Maybe if we spent a little money on condoms and education, then maybe the next generation wouldn't have so many stupid people running around, ruining our economy!"

Amen!


The Time for Sacrifice is Now

During last years election, I had a wonderful political discussion with a Republican friend of mine. It was civil and while we didn't agree on much, we weren't that far apart either. The one thing he said that I couldn't have agreed more with was "we need to start talking about sacrifice."

I don't think I need to point out that times are tough. It seems like every night, the news features another 300 point drop in the Dow. Bad unemployment figures and foreclosures are daily headlines. The experts can't seem to figure out how to stop it. Yesterday, Nobel laureate, Paul Krugman, wrote an excellent piece in favor of nationalization. This morning, Jim Cramer is on the Today show saying take nationalization off the table:
Most, like Rick Santilli's now famous rant from last week, don't offer any ideas, but they know they don't like what's going on.
I don't have any expertise on this subject and will not offer up any solutions. Obviously, I think what we're seeing here is a massive, painful correction. The bill for all the loose money is due. The minimum payment has been raised and we're all to blame. That said, we're Americans and we have a history of learning from our mistakes. We can come out of this situation with a better and stronger system than when we went in. As a country, we need to get back to the simple things that matter and quit worrying about things that don't. Things will be much better again, but we need to start at home, sacrifice some wants and concentrate on the needs.
President Obama has a speech tonight and I hope you all watch it. My gut tells me that he will touch on the same themes and I'm sure he will be more elegant than I am here. Just keep your chin up! We'll get through this and we'll be better for it!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Stimulus Watch - State by State Line-up of Projects

A good friend sent me this link this morning.  Just look up your state then your city and see what they have planned for your area.  As my friend pointed out, our city, South Bend, Indiana, is not listed.  I hope the paperwork is in the mail.  We have some potholes that need filling!

Take Care of the Money, Jabroni Governors!


After a lovely evening at the White House, complete with entertainment by personal favorite Earth, Wind and Fire, the Nation's Governors got the same message from the President the Nation's Mayors got Friday.  

The message is clear, know your roll, spend the money wisely or be called out, and don't play politics with the money or you'll be checked into the Smackdown Hotel!

If you smell what Barack is cookin'!

Case of the Mondays

Alright, so I stayed up way too late watching the Oscars last night and the baby had me up way too early this morning, so I'm dragging a bit.  Knowing that the news cycle waits for no one, I should have some real thought provoking news items up shortly.  In the meantime, enjoy this clip from SNL, which I enjoyed a great deal:

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The World Bush Left Behind

Check this out.  It's a table showing the world as it was when George W. Bush arrived and the state of things when he left.  Very informative, and telling.  Not that you didn't already know.

Surprise! "Generational Theft" Started a Long Time Ago

A friend forwarded me this story from the Daily Kos, discussing, and debunking, the claims of, among other things, the idea of "Generational Theft, " coming from the Right.  This article confirms what I was illuding to with this post.

Meet the Press - Charlie Crist

Governor Charlie Crist (R-FL) is a Republican that I can appreciate.  Here's a man, as opposed to Bobby Jindal, who is thinking about the good of his state before his political beliefs.  I applaud his recognition of the good aspects of the stimulus while admitting that it's not a perfect bill.  More importantly, I thank him for being thoughtful about his state and this country without worrying about his political affiliation.  It will serve him well in many years to come.

Meet the Press - Bobby Jindal

I just saw Jerk Store favorite, Governor Bobby Jindal (R-LA) on Meet the Press.  This man, along with the rest of the hard line conservative Republicans, just doesn't get it.  He is allowing his "fundamental disagreement" with the stimulus negatively affect his state.  He's sitting there saying that if President Obama really worked with Republicans they would have a more agreeable plan.  He's sitting here saying that if they had worked in Republican favorites like more tax cuts for small business and capital gains that there would have been more support from the right.  Personally, I find the capital gains argument funny because, these days, NOBODY HAS CAPITAL GAINS!  I am also amused with the fact that Republicans, when citing examples of where tax cuts worked, lump Kennedy with Reagan.  There is never any mention of the New Deal as an example of how Government spending fixed the economy.

Anyway, this interview proves once again that the firm Republican opposition has it completely wrong.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Jerk Store - Bobby Jindal Sale! Takes a Pass on $100 Million in Unemployment Benefits

Welcome back to the Jerk Store, where we specialize in the biggest jerks around! Lookie what I have here. Think Progress reports that Governor Bobby Jindal (R-LA) has passed on nearly $100 million in unemployment benefits. If I understand this correctly, the good Govenor claims that he would have to ultimately pass a law that raises taxes on businesses because the stimulus money is temporary. The tax would be required because they would have to cover the gap created after the stimulus money is gone.

In case you don't know, after Sarah Palin, Bobby Jindal is a Republican wet dream. He was mentioned as a finalist for John McCain's running mate and is constantly mentioned as a 2012 Presidential candidate. If that is the case, then this Jerk Store owner has to ask, what the hell is he thinking? Strategically speaking, now is not the time to think about future tax hikes. People, especially the people in his state, are hurting now. Let's suppose that he is right, the stimulus doesn't work, unemployment continues to rise and lasts long after the stimulus money is gone. Well bully for you, Mr. President Jindal. He stuck to his guns and the businesses in Louisiana don't have to pick up extra weeks of unemployment. But let's suppose he's wrong, and I think he is. He doesn't take the money, the hurting people in his state remember, the economy gets better, and the Democratic challenger wins in a landslide.

Look, I don't care what happens to Bobby Jindal. I do care what happens to the unemployed citizens of his state. If he would put the people of his state ahead of his beliefs, I think it would pay off in the long run. That said, if we've learned anything about Republicans, it's that they don't have the ability to look at things with the long term in mind.

But I digress! Exposing Jerks is my business and business is good! With jerks like these, my store is recession proof!



Head on Fire-Rolling Back Bush Book Cooking Schemes

I would like to welcome you to a new segment titled, "Head on Fire," as in, I'm so mad, my head is on fire.

My friend Amy Shirk turned me on to this article, found in today's New York Times. President Obama has decided to ban "four accounting gimicks that President George W. Bush used to make deficit projections look smaller." Why am I not surprised. They lied about almost everything else! Let's cook the books too! Add another $2.7 trillion to the budget over the next 10 years!

Excuse me while I douse my head in water to extinguish the flames that are coming off the top of it.

Ugh.

Sharing Some Joe Scarborough

I must be honest, I do like this comment from Joe Scarborough found on the Huffington Post. In case you don't know, Joe is a conservative and hosts "Morning Joe" on MSNBC. Watching his show, there have been times when I wanted to reach through the screen and strangle him. There have also been times where he has surprised me. I share this with you because I think he makes an important point, exchange of ideas is good and healthy, even when those ideas run against your own. I love to debate politics, especially with somebody I disagree with because I don't know everything and I might learn something. Far too often, people take things personally and what started as a civil debate turns ugly. I understand, we're talking about firmly held beliefs. I just think we might do much better as a society if we would learn to agree to disagree. Touchy feeley, right?

I should mention that he has a response to Bob Cesca's article, which I commented on yesterday.

Anyway, I appreciate what Mr. Scarborough is saying and now share it with you.

Here is why the Stimulus Will Work

Per the Huffington Post, President Obama spoke to a group of Mayors today and asked them to be responsible with the money they will receive from the Stimulus.  I think that it is important to watch the video below the story and note the tone.  There is no other way to say it, this man is a leader.  Even though things are bad, I am comforted to know, and feel confident that, he is doing everything he possibly can to fix things in this country.

Maybe you disagree.  Feel free to leave a comment.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Bob Cesca Puts it to Right Wing Pundits

I finally had a chance to read Bob Cesca's post yesterday on the Huffington Post.  I really enjoy reading Mr. Cesca and this is no exception.  In this installment, he calls Sean Hannity and the rest of the right wing punditry to the mat for their supposed "War Against Socialism."  The stuff about socialist roads and socialist police and fire departments is awesome.  Also, the stuff about the amount of money some of these states could get gets back to my post about Republican Governors

Regardless, it's a great column.  Enjoy!

Got Good Information? Send it my Way!

As you know, I am just starting this blog and I am having a good time with it.  That said, I don't always have the time to look for good stories, pictures, and videos.  

So, if you have a juicy tidbit that you think is post worthy, please send it my way:

andrewt522@andrewtisonthecut.com

I look forward to hearing from you!

Best,
Andy

Republican Governors May Pass on Stimulus Funds-To the Detriment of their State

I came across this article about some heavy Republican Governors, many of them potential presidential candidates in 2012, toying with the idea of rejecting the stimulus money for their state.  While I read it, I was thinking about my post from yesterday about Congressional Republicans, all but three of whom voted against the stimulus, now positioning themselves for a piece of the stimulus pie.  I've thought a lot about this overnight, and while my initial thought was screw 'em, I started thinking about all the people who can really use the help.  I would hate to see people in South Carolina or Louisiana not get the help, or the jobs, they need because their Governor was too stubborn with their political convictions.

Republicans are walking a slippery slope on this one.  Obviously, if it fails, then they can play the "I told you so" game all they want.  However, if things go according to plan, and I think things will, then they're good as dead, or at least until Democrats loose sight of what's right and get booted.  See, I believe in competition, which appears to be nonexistent right now.  There are no good ideas coming from the Republican Party because all of their ideas are old, dead ideas.  Their policies are why we're passing stimulus bills today.  The same people who told us to spend after 9/11 don't want to spend.  The same people who doubled the national debt don't want to spend.  They simply aren't making sense and they're not coming to the table with original ideas.

That is why I am proud of the job President Obama is doing.  Unlike W., he is taking action.  Regardless of whether you think that action is wright or wrong, he is acknowledging the problem, getting the best people in the country to work on a solution, and doing something to fix it.  The fact that these Governors would rather put their ideology before their people sickens me.  It could be all bluster, a way to tip the hat to their far right constituents.  And, it may be moot anyway because their respective state legislators could accept the funds regardless.  However, if they do manage to reject the funds, and the stimulus works for everybody except them, then I hope they get theirs come the next election.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Republicans Position Themselves for Stimulus Cut

I came across this piece in the Huffington Post. It appears that the same Republicans who voted against the stimulus now have their hands out, looking for their cut. I am honestly torn on this subject. On the one hand, I say don't give them a dime. If they truly represent their constituents, and their constituents don't want the stimulus, then their constituents shouldn't get any. But that doesn't solve our problems as a country now does it. I mean, we're only as strong as our weakest link.

Anyway, read the story and come to your own conclusions. Let me know what you think in the comments.

Aerosmith Responds! No "Saddle" for You!

I love Aerosmith. Specifically the 70's version (Rocks, Toys in the Attic), not the soundtrack, ballad heavy 90's version. Well, they come through yet again! It appears that Jerk Store blowout Eric Cantor (R-VA) has been told he can't use "Back in the Saddle" to promote fake victory anymore.

As Wayne would say, Excellent!


Retort to "Today" Stimulus Reporting

There was an interesting little story on the Today show this morning about some of the more questionable items "hidden" in the recovery package. I quote hidden because I had heard about the things highlighted in this story before. Before I offer my critique, watch the package for yourself:



Also consider this country desperately needs an infrastructure upgrade. If you are skeptical to this fact, please see the 2009 Report Card for America's Infrastructure. Note the overall grade listed in the lower right. It's a solid D. The investment cost to bring this country up to snuff is $2.2 trillion. This train is a small, much needed beginning. Start with one stretch that costs $8 billion. Show that it works and is cost effective and build another and another until the entire country's rail system has been upgraded. Yes, $8 billion is a lot of money, but put in the context of the $787 billion total, it's 1%.

Second, they attack $1 billion on clean coal. Wasn't this constantly mentioned during the election as a priority for both candidates? If this is a viable option for reducing carbon emmissions then why wouldn't we do it? Same with the "neighborhood electric vehicles." We're talking about $300 million out of $787 billion! Use them in parks, on army bases, wherever. Plug them in anywhere and don't fill them up. You don't have to! They're Good for the environment and good for the wallet. Again, it's a good, small step in the right direction.

Finally, if you didn't think Republicans were behind the production of this story, they go on to tick off education, health care, and the arts as examples of liberal wasteful spending. Oh, and don't forget the nice little "STIMULUS PORK-$787 Billion For This" title at the bottom. Ugh!

Folks, President Obama has said this time and again, this is a spending bill. Our economy works when people spend money. Seeing as how the Government is the only institution with money these days, they're the only ones who can spend. Again put this in perspective. The total amount of the projects presented here is $9.3 billion dollars, or 1.2% of the $787 billion stimulus. Frankly, I'm all for spending like this.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Recovery.gov is Up

You have to respect people who do what they say they're going to do.  President Obama signs the Recovery Act into law and the transparency website is up and running same day!  If you care about how your tax dollars are being spent, then check into www.recovery.gov.

Monday, February 16, 2009

What did You Say That 2001 Tax Cut Cost Again?

Here's an interesting little tidbit posted last Friday, February 13, from First Read comparing the 2001 tax cut to the 2009 stimulus package.  In case you didn't know, the approximate cost of the 2009 stimulus is $790 billion.  The cost of the 2001 tax cut was $1.35 trillion.  

Like I said, interesting.

Jerk Store - Now Open for Business!!!

Come one, come all to the grand opening of the Jerk Store!!! In this world, there are no shortage of jerks! We stand at the ready to give you the very best of the biggest jerks around.

Why, look at what we have here. It's House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA)! He's so freakin' hot right now! Just look at the video his office created to let everybody know that the House Republicans are Back in the Saddle! Personally, the more appropriate song is "Dream On!" But what do I know, I'm just sellin' the Jerks! Seriously, don't you have to win something before you go spouting off about how you're bad ass you are? I'm just sayin'.

If it's quantity and quality of Jerks you're looking for, look no further than the Jerk Store! We'll be serving them up fresh! Like I said before, in this world, there is no shortage of Jerks!

Word!

Shout Out to My Moms

Mothers always love you no matter what and my mom is no exception.  this is evidenced by the fact that she is the first follower of these pages.  

Thanks, Mom.  For your support and love.  I love you very much.

Friday, February 13, 2009

A Valentine


Back in the day, I used to say that my nation didn’t recognize Valentine’s Day.  Of course, my nation meant just me, my body being a border and my brain as Parliment.  The truth was I didn’t have anybody to enjoy it with.  Fortunately for me, I now have somebody to enjoy it with.  Actually, I have two people to enjoy it with, my wife, Amy and my Daughter, Ingrid.  

This is a quick little love letter to all the ladies in my life.  Happy Valentine’s Day!  I love you all very much.


Republican Dig-in

It is becoming increasingly more apparent to me that the Republicans in Congress do not care about this country. This really breaks my heart.  Not that I am a Republican.  I am far from it.  As an optimist by nature, I would hope that our leaders could put aside their differences for the betterment of our country.  Feel free to call me a sucker.  Understand, I believe in fighting for what you believe in.  The Republicans believe as they have for at least the last thirty years.  In order to stimulate the economy , cut taxes and let the people do what they want with their newfound riches.  The Government shouldn't have the money because the Government bureaucracy can't possibly do what the private sector can.  So give businesses tax cuts to stimulate job creation and leave the job to them.  But when your policies, your theories on how the world should be run, have failed to the extent as they have today, then maybe it's time to open up to new ideas.  

Fat chance!  Instead, we have a Congressional Republicans digging in, spouting the same policies like they worked!  There's no acknowledgement of failure.  Oh, but there's hope.  The same people that portrayed hope during the campaign as some drippy pipe dream now hope that these new policies fail.  Let me repeat that, THEY WANT THIS PLAN TO FAIL.  I can understand to a certain extent.  As an opponent in any game, you want to beat the other team.  However, THIS IS NOT A GAME!!!  We're talking about people's lives here.  We're talking about our lives today and tomorrow.  We're talking about the future of America.  Since their plan failed I don't see how we have the luxury of having another plan fail.  In my mind, if this plan fails, then America as we have known it is truly lost.

So, Republicans, please, I'm begging you.  Grow up and play nice.  I'm not saying bend over and take it, but I'm saying acknowledge mistakes and work to save this country.  After all, you started it!


Thursday, February 12, 2009

My A-Teva (Say it Like Run D.M.C.)

My man Jason just sent me an e-mail asking me to write about Tevas, as in Teva sandals.  According to him, I was the first person he had seen wearing them.  The legend goes something like this:  He saw me at Outpost Sports, a sporting goods store that specializes in the outdoors, i.e. skis, bikes, and camping, representing a fresh black pair and that set off the trend that took the South Bend area by storm.  This has been his favorite story about me for years.  In fact, I believe Jason is still kicking around a pair.  If I'm not mistaken, they're his summer go to.

For the uninitiated, Tevas are heavy duty sandals with a thick, grippy sole and two straps, one around the ankle and one just above the toes, that are secured by industrial strength velcro.  In preparation for writing this, I had to see if they were still making them.  Truth be told, I haven't owned a pair since.  

I know that for many people, Tevas are the absolute most comfortable thing they can possibly wear.  For me, they were the cause of many nights of the most atrocious foot stink imaginable.  I do ok with cheap old flip-flops, but any serious sandle sets off glands in my foot that make even the most iron stomach return lunch.  These same glands created a vegetable oil type sweat that would make the space between my foot and the Teva a Wet Banana.  The sandle would plant to the ground just fine, but I would keep right on going.  Not that I ever fell, but it wasn't pleasant.  There might have been a squeek when I walked too, but this is like 16 years ago and I'm not completely sure on that one.

This is why I rock Chucks.  For those of you that rock the Tevas, keep doing what you're doing.  It works for you.  For me, I keep that smell and slime locked indoors, for the good of my fellow peoples.  

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

An Agreement

I have to say that I'm happy to hear that there is an agreement on the stimulus.  As I stated in a previous post, I think, ultimately, it's a good bill.  With luck, it'll be signed on Friday.  

It's important to note that, as a country, we need exercise a little patience.  Don't expect this to work overnight.  It's going to take some time to get the money to where it is supposed to go.  Also, just because Congress has decided that it's time to inject some money into the economy, don't sit around and wait for it to come to you.  Never wait around for the Government to save you.  They can only do so much.  It is you who are responsible for your life.  Be smart, budget your money, and eat right.  Take care of your neighbor, yourself and your family and everything will be fine.  

As for indications that the stimulus is working, I think we need to watch for small changes when the weather starts to break.  I know there are a number of different things, but the one thing that will affect us all is road construction, which I hope will be going full blast this summer.  Remember, try not to be upset when you're stuck in construction traffic.  Tell yourself that it's for the good of the country and we're working again.  

I know these are difficult times.  They are certainly difficult for me, but truthfully, I am doing better than most.  In order to get past this, we need to get together, take care of each other, our families, and ourselves.  Be strong.  Be American.  We will get through this.

God bless.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

In Anticipation of "Watchmen"

Sitting here in my living room, I just saw a new preview for the upcoming "Watchmen" movie.  I first read it back in college.  Actually, I don't think I finished it as I am sure I got distracted and forgot I was reading it.  After recently talking to a friend who had read it multiple times and had downloaded the visual audiobook from iTunes, I decided that I should read it again.  So, in anticipation for the movie, I finished it and I happy to say that I did and enjoyed it very much.  

Confession, I am not much of a reader.  I mean, I read a lot online, but I'm not one to sit down with a book, and if I do, I rarely finish it.  I do love films and have seen many movies that were based on books, but did not actually read the book.  You know how people always say the book is always better?  Yeah, well I haven't read enough books that became movies to make an opinion.  The one exception was "L.A. Confidential" which was both an awesome movie and book.  The book had so much more detail, but I didn't feel that the extra detail hindered my enjoyment of the movie.

With that in mind, I would expect I could apply the same theory to my enjoyment of Watchmen.  However, I honestly cannot see how this will be a good movie.  I mean, there is so much going on in the book, so much depth of character, I have a hard time wrapping my head around how they can pull it off for a wide audience.  Somehow, I don't feel like I'm alone on this and fanboys everywhere are chomping at the bit to trash this movie.  I actually want this movie to succeed.  I like good comic movies, specifically the last two Batman and the first two Spiderman.  I'm just concerned that the creators will dumb it down and pump up the action, and cheapen what is a great piece of art.

Like I said, I really want to like this movie.  I'm just voicing a concern and in no way want to start a negative campaign against it before it even comes out.  I'll let you know what I think after I see it.  With luck, this will all be for naught.


Children of Hope

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Gramps McCain

For me, the most entertaining phrase to come out of the stimulus debate has been Senator John McCain's (R-AZ) poetic "Generational Theft." I take it that he means that if Congress passes this bill, we are effectively stealing from the next generation as the bill will be due in their lifetimes. It is truly a masterful phrase that gets right to the heart of the matter, at least, in Senator McCain's mind.

However, no matter how clever the phrase, it's not only the next generation that will have to pick up the tab, it's ours and probably the next three after. It began when the deficit doubled over the last eight years. It began when the powers that be relied on the private sector to invest in the country when all the private sector cared about was the bottom line. It began when we started blowing up things instead of building them.

The fact is, Congress has been mortgaging the future of this country for a long, long time. So, I guess you're right, Senator McCain. Unfortunately, we have to do something because your ideas, and the rest of your party's, are bankrupt and I blame those ideas for where we are today.

Thanks a lot!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Foresight

The stimulus has passed the Senate and it is my belief that this is a good thing. I have a really hard time understanding how it's OK to blow up so much money in Iraq in the name of safety and security, but somehow it's wrong to spend money here at home. Here's one, ask the people who survived the bridge collapse in Minnesota if they felt safe that day. I promise you that the people in the Twin Cities area could have given a rats ass about terrorists when they heard about the collapse. I'm willing to bet the only security they wondered about was the security of the rest of the bridges around town. What about the people in Greensburg, Kansas? You remember the little town in Central Kansas that was wiped off the map. I remember listening to NPR while the Governor was pleading for help because the Kansas National Guard didn't have the tools necessary to help the survivors. I'll also mention Katrina, but I'm confident that I don't need to go into details as you know all about it.

No, for far too long, we as a country have taken our eye off the ball taking the blessings of our country for granted. Blessings like a strong manufacturing base, good roads and bridges, and quality education. The belief that the American Dream is alive and well and will never die. The truth is, and if you follow the news, I don't need to tell you, the American Dream should have had a check up a long time ago because now it's on life support. Think about it a second. Imagine if we had spent the last 20 years investing real money in our infrastructure. Do you think the stimulus would be as large as it is? What about public transportation? What about commercial transportation? I'm talking about those sweet super trains that work on magnets, super efficient and cost effective. That's foresight. That's thinking ahead. How about Detroit? What if they had spent incremental money since the gas shortage of the early 70s to make fuel efficient cars. Would they be in the position they're in now?

Ah, but doesn't innovation cost money? Yes it does! But it also creates jobs and new opportunities. So, now we have a stimulus package that is supposed to do in one year what the dunderheads that run things should have been doing the whole time. Yes, it hurts, but it is sorely needed and I, for one, would rather spend that kind of money here in our own back yard.

Greetings

Howdy all!  I wanted to make a quick, general post to say hello and share a little about myself.  My name is Andrew T. Mason.  My friends call me Andy.  I am married with a new daughter, our first.  Needless to say, we're very proud.  Other than that, I live in the Midwest and have a job that I love.  I think it's safe to say that life is good.

About this blog...

I don't know what it's going to be about and I'm not sure what shape it will take as I am new to this sort of thing.  I am looking forward to see where it goes.  I suppose I'll write about what I know (or think I know) and share some things that I find interesting.  Music, film, arts, politics, and family life immediately come to mind.  It will certainly be my two cents and, since it will most likely be opinion, it won't always be right.  I suppose there's enough opinion in the world these days.  That said, I appreciate you stopping by.  With luck, you'll find something interesting.

Best,
Andy