Saturday, December 24, 2005
Anyways, I thought I would share my joy all around. I haven't had anything to rant on recently, but there have been some topics brewing in my head. I just need to have the time and proper emotional state to write them down.
So, stay tuned for more rants. This blog is almost one year old... so I'll try to get some more stuff to make it a more productive-looking year.
That is all.
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
Brown asserted that "'My biggest mistake was not recognizing by Saturday that Louisiana was dysfunctional,' two days before the storm hit."
The article continues (and I'm going to skip some things in the article, mostly becuase I think they are there because the author specifically seeks to discredit Brown. So, wherever you see [...] you can feel free to go read the article itself):
Brown, who for many became a symbol of government failures in the natural disaster that claimed the lives of more than 1,000 people, rejected accusations that he was too inexperienced for the job.
"I've overseen over 150 presidentially declared disasters. I know what I'm doing, and I think I do a pretty darn good job of it," Brown said....
Brown in his opening statement said he had made several "specific mistakes" in dealing with the storm, and listed two.
One, he said, was not having more media briefings.
As to the other, he said: "I very strongly personally regret that I was unable to persuade Gov. Blanco and Mayor Nagin to sit down, get over their differences, and work together. I just couldn't pull that off."
"The people of FEMA are being tired of being beat up, and they don't deserve it," Brown said.
Referring to Brown's description of his "mistakes," [Representative] Jefferson [D-LA] said: "I think that's a very weak explanation of what happened, and very incomplete explanation of what happened. I don't think that's going to cut it, really."
Committee Chairman Tom Davis, R-Va., cautioned against too narrowly assigning blame.
"At the end of the day, I suspect that we'll find that government at all levels failed the people of Louisiana and Mississippi and Alabama and the Gulf Coast," said Davis.
Davis pushed Brown on what he and the agency he led should have done to evacuate New Orleans, restore order in the city and improve communication among law enforcement agencies.
[I'm going to throw some emphasis here]
Brown said: "Those are not FEMA roles. FEMA doesn't evacuate communities. FEMA does not do law enforcement. FEMA does not do communications."
Brown said the lack of a mandatory evacuation of New Orleans before the storm was "the tipping point for all the other things that went wrong." Brown said he had personally pushed Louisiana Gov. Blanco to order such an evacuation.
He did not have the authority to order the city evacuated on his own, Brown said.
I once again assert that Bush was courageous to take the blame for mistakes in this disaster. On one level, he basically shut people up and kept them from speculating about who was at fault. When push comes to shove--as it is starting to do--I think this commission is going to find huge failures at the state and local level. The state and local governments failed their people, and they are going to blame the federal government and then ask for FORTY BILLION DOLLARS to fix their mistake.
At this point, I'm going to quote Ms. Jordan from the AP article:
"Both Blanco and Nagin are Democrats."
(That is Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco of Lousiana and Mayor Ray Nagin of New Orleans)
As for Mr. Brown, he lost is job in a witch hunt. FEMA did mess up here, but he is not the only one to blame.
That is all.
Thursday, September 15, 2005
The full text is available at the White House Webpage, and you can access it by clicking HERE
Don't read Media reports about this speech. Go read the speech. Once again President Bush has risen to the task and challenge of leadership.
As President Bush once told me personally in a group setting: at times like this, a President either has it or he doesn't.
He's got it.
That is all.
PS: Might I say on the side that White House Photographer Eric Draper's photographs of the President are amazing, as always. Pay attention to his photos... they are always really good (the ones he can't publish are really cool too).
Mr. Brown, then director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said he told the officials in Washington that the Louisiana governor, Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, and her staff were proving incapable of organizing a coherent state effort and that his field officers in the city were reporting an "out of control" situation.
"I am having a horrible time," Mr. Brown said he told Mr. Chertoff and a White House official - either Mr. Card or his deputy, Joe Hagin - in a status report that evening. "I can't get a unified command established."
By the time of that call, he added, "I was beginning to realize things were going to hell in a handbasket" in Louisiana. A day later, Mr. Brown said, he asked the White House to take over the response effort....
Mr. Brown declined to blame President Bush or the White House for his removal or for the flawed response.
"I truly believed the White House was not at fault here," he said.
He focused much of his criticism on Governor Blanco, contrasting what he described as her confused response with far more agile mobilizations in Mississippi and Alabama, as well as in Florida during last year's hurricanes.
As I have said before, it is clear that Blanco's office failed to help FEMA organize a relief effort. At the same time, Mississippi and Alabama were taking care of business. You will notice we don't hear much about Mississippi and Alabama on the news anymore. Why? Because they have been successful at getting people out, and the Media doesn't like success.
Continuing... oh... this is the part where the times tries to blame Bush through Brown's "suggestion" of fault:
But Mr. Brown's account, in which he described making "a blur of calls" all week to Mr. Chertoff, Mr. Card and Mr. Hagin, suggested that Mr. Bush, or at least his top aides, were informed early and repeatedly by the top federal official at the scene that state and local authorities were overwhelmed and that the overall response was going badly.
A senior administration official said Wednesday night that White House officials recalled the conversations with Mr. Brown but did not believe they had the urgency or desperation he described in the interview.
"There's a general recollection of him saying, 'They're going to need more help,' " said the official, who insisted on anonymity because of the delicacy of internal White House discussions.
Mr. Brown's version of events raises questions about whether the White House and Mr. Chertoff acted aggressively enough in the response. New Orleans convulsed in looting and violence after the hurricane, and troops did not arrive in force to restore order until five days later.
What? They are really trying to stretch. I'm going to go try and find a transcript of the interview... but even so, they are really extrapolating a lot of politically-motivated messages from this interview. Is this news? or a White House Witch Hunt?
Let's jump ahead here a little bit (I encourage you to read the full article, the Link will be below)...
Governor Blanco said Wednesday that she took responsibility for failures and missteps in the immediate response to the hurricane and pledged a united effort to rebuild areas ravaged by the storm, adding, "at the state level, we must take a careful look at what went wrong and make sure it never happens again." A spokesman for Ms. Blanco denied Mr. Brown's description of disarray in Louisiana's emergency response operation. "That is just totally inaccurate," said Bob Mann, the governor's communications director. "Everything that Mr. Brown needed in terms of resources or information from the state, he had those available to him."...
As Mr. Brown recounted it, the weekend before New Orleans's levees burst, FEMA sent an emergency response team of 10 or 20 people to Louisiana to review evacuation plans with local officials.
By Saturday afternoon, many residents were leaving. But as the hurricane approached early on Sunday, Mr. Brown said he grew so frustrated with the failure of local authorities to make the evacuation mandatory that he asked Mr. Bush for help.
"Would you please call the mayor and tell him to ask people to evacuate?" Mr. Brown said he asked Mr. Bush in a phone call.
"Mike, you want me to call the mayor?" the president responded in surprise, Mr. Brown said. Moments later, apparently on his own, the mayor, C. Ray Nagin, held a news conference to announce a mandatory evacuation, but it was too late, Mr. Brown said. Plans said it would take at least 72 hours to get everyone out.
When he arrived in Baton Rouge on Sunday evening, Mr. Brown said, he was concerned about the lack of coordinated response from Governor Blanco and Maj. Gen. Bennett C. Landreneau, the adjutant general of the Louisiana National Guard.
"What do you need? Help me help you," Mr. Brown said he asked them. "The response was like, 'Let us find out,' and then I never received specific requests for specific things that needed doing."
The most responsive person he could find, Mr. Brown said, was Governor Blanco's husband, Raymond. "He would try to go find stuff out for me," Mr. Brown said.
Governor Blanco's communications director, Mr. Mann, said that she was frustrated that Mr. Brown and others at FEMA wanted itemized requests before acting. "It was like walking into an emergency room bleeding profusely and being expected to instruct the doctors how to treat you," he said.
On Monday night, Mr. Brown said, he reported his growing worries to Mr. Chertoff and the White House. He said he did not ask for federal active-duty troops to be deployed because he assumed his superiors in Washington were doing all they could. Instead, he said, he repeated a dozen times, "I cannot get a unified command established."
The next morning, Mr. Brown said, he and Governor Blanco decided to take a helicopter into New Orleans to see the mayor and assess the situation. But before the helicopter took off, his field coordinating officer, or F.C.O., called from the city on a satellite phone. "It is getting out of control down here; the levee has broken," the staff member told him, he said.
The crowd in the Superdome, the city's shelter of last resort, was already larger than expected. But Mr. Brown said he was relieved to see that the mayor had a detailed list of priorities, starting with help to evacuate the Superdome.
Mr. Brown passed the list on to the state emergency operations center in Baton Rouge, but when he returned that evening he was surprised to find that nothing had been done.
"I am just screaming at my F.C.O., 'Where are the helicopters?' " he recalled. " 'Where is the National Guard? Where is all the stuff that the mayor wanted?' "
FEMA, he said, had no helicopters and only a few communications trucks. The agency typically depends on state resources, a system he said worked well in the other Gulf Coast states and in Florida last year.
Meanwhile, "unbeknownst to me," Mr. Brown said, at some point on Monday or Tuesday the hotels started directing their remaining guests to the convention center - something neither FEMA nor local officials had planned.
At the same time, the Superdome was degenerating into "gunfire and anarchy," and on Tuesday the FEMA staff and medical team in New Orleans called to say they were leaving for their own safety.
That night, Mr. Brown said, he called Mr. Chertoff and the White House again in desperation. "Guys, this is bigger than what we can handle," he told them, he said. "This is bigger than what FEMA can do. I am asking for help."
"Maybe I should have screamed 12 hours earlier," Mr. Brown said in the interview. "But that is hindsight. We were still trying to make things work."
By Wednesday morning, Mr. Brown said, he learned that General Honoré was on his way. While the general did not have responsibility for the entire relief effort and the Guard, his commanding manner helped mobilize the state's efforts.
"Honoré shows up and he and I have a phone conversation," Mr. Brown said. "He gets the message, and, boom, it starts happening."
Mr. Brown said that in one much-publicized gaffe - his repeated statement on live television on Thursday night, Sept. 1, that he had just learned that day of thousands of people at New Orleans's convention center without food or water - "I just absolutely misspoke." In fact, he said, he learned about the evacuees there from the first media reports more than 24 hours earlier, but the reports conflicted with information from local authorities and he had no staff on the site until Thursday.
There were also conflicts with the Congressional delegations that wanted resources for their offices and districts, FEMA officials said. Senator Trent Lott of Mississippi said he "resisted aggressively" a decision by Mr. Brown to dispatch a Navy medical ship to Louisiana instead of his home state.
Mr. Brown acknowledged that he had been criticized for not ordering a complete evacuation or calling in federal troops sooner. But he said the storm made it hard to communicate and assess the situation.
"Until you have been there," he said, "you don't realize it is the middle of a hurricane."
(http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/15/national/nationalspecial/15brown.html, Free Registration Required)
Ok, I think they included that last statement to make the man look stupid, but that's not the important issue.
From these chain of events, does it sound like Bush is to blame? Brown was to the point where he called the President of the United States asking him to tell a Mayor to evacuate his city. Shouldn't that be the Governor's job? Shouldn't Blanco's office be there telling her mayor to evacuate the city?
Brown's biggest mistake was waiting too long to call in the cavalry. But, he was overwhelmed. I agree that Brown was the wrong man for this job, but he is being crucified by media sadducees.
Overall, I continue with my assertion that Blanco needs to take some heat for this one. Everyone is blaming the failure on Bush and Brown... clearly Blanco's failure and incompetence eclipses the failures of either.
After all, she is responsibile for the state of Louisiana. And, aren't Democrats supposed to save the helpless through government intervention? Maybe she's not taking any media heat because she's a Democrat.
At least Bush cares.
That is all.
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
But, the news have been saying that President Bush admitted to "Blunders." Here are his exact words:
"Katrina exposed serious problems in our response capability at all levels of government. And to the extent that the federal government didn't fully do its job right, I take responsibility. I want to know what went right and what went wrong. I want to know how to better cooperate with state and local government, to be able to answer that very question that you asked: Are we capable of dealing with a severe attack or another severe storm....
"One thing for certain; having been down there three times and have seen how hard people are working, I'm not going to defend the process going in, but I am going to defend the people who are on the front line of saving lives."
Bush openly admitted that we could have done better, and took responsibility for failures on his watch. That is courageous. He is also the first one asking what went wrong so we can fix it. That is leadership.
I'm personally annoyed that the media calls this "Admitting to Blunders" rather than simple good leadership. Maybe they don't know what good leadership looks like.
Even worse, the Media completely overlooked the other half of that meeting. At the same meeting, President Jalal Al-Talabani of Iraq said the following:
"Today, American and international presence in Iraq is vital. The American and international presence in Iraq is vital for democracy in Iraq and in the Middle East, and also for prevent foreign interference in the internal affairs of Iraq.
"We will set no timetable for withdrawal, Mr. President. A timetable will help the terrorists, will encourage them that they could defeat a superpower of the world and the Iraqi people. We hope that by the end of 2006, our security forces are up to the level of taking responsibility from many American troops with complete agreement with Americans. We don't want to do anything without the agreement with the Americans because we don't want to give any signal to the terrorists that our will to defeat them is weakened, or they can defeat us.
"We are proud that one day will come -- as soon as possible, of course, we hope -- that American troops can proudly return home, and we tell them, thank you, dear friends, and you are faithful to friendship. Of course, we are sorry for the sacrifices of American people in Iraq, but I think a great people like America has a mission in the history -- they have sacrificed hundreds of thousands of their sons in the war -- first world war, second world war, and in liberating people in Afghanistan, Kurdistan. And the great leader, Mr. George W. Bush is continuing the same mission of the American people. We are grateful. We are grateful for American generosity, and we honor -- we honor -- sacrifices of America in Iraq -- and everywhere, not only in Iraq."
(see link above)
The President of a free and independent Iraq stood in front of the medial and declared that "American and international presence in Iraq is vital." He also promised and hoped his country would be stable enough to leave soon.
President Talabani concluded with the following statement:
"To those in America, in other countries, still ask of war of liberation in Iraq, if it was right -- the right decision. I say, please, please, come to Iraq, to visit the mass graves, to see what happened to the Iraqi people, and to see what now is going on in Iraq. To those who talk of stability, I say, Saddam imposed the stability of the mass graves. To the terrorists, I say, you will never win; freedom will win in Iraq."
Did the media report on this statement? Were we excited to hear the President of Iraq stand up and thank us for our sacrifices? No... all we want to talk about is our President and his blunders.
That is all.
Monday, September 12, 2005
Now, in the political aftermath of this disaster, many people are blaming President Bush for not reacting fast enough to the disaster. Granted, he seemingly did not grasp the magnitude of the disaster in the first few days. Strangely, nobody within the normal chain of government seemed to get it. But, from everything I've read, when George W. Bush did learn about conditions in Louisiana, he was not a happy camper. One report said he "screamed." I would too, if I realized that people hadn't updated me on the situation.
But, if we are going to blame people for not reacting to this disaster, we can't point all fingers to the Federal Government. The real failures in the wake of Hurricane Katrina were Mayor C. Ray Nagin of New Orleans and Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco of Louisiana. It is the local government leaders who failed here. And, in the aftermath, they're trying to blame Bush for all their problems.
Immediately after the Hurricane, when the levees were starting to break, the Governor should have called for all available resources in the state. She is the one who knew this storm was coming. She and the entire world knew what would happen to New Orleans if hit by a Category 4+ storm. Did the Governor react? NO. For the first few days, she ran around like a headless turkey, entirely unable to function. Reports say that she refused some relief shipments to the Superdome because she didn't want it to attract more people. She did not do enough to make that shelter at least semi-secure and safe. It is not the President's fault that her supply system failed miserably, it was her responsibility and, therefore, her fault.
Personally, I'm willing to accept that there were logistical difficulties getting supplies to the survivors. The place was flooded! Roads were impassible. Even so, somehow the media news trucks made it to the scene to film the horrors. But, did they stop by Costco on the way down to bring a few cases of bottled water? Nope.
I'm tired of people pointing fingers and blaming in the aftermath of a huge tragedy. I'm sickened by people who think President Bush withheld supplies because the people were black. Give me a break! It's time for people to buck up and take responsibility. That starts from the state and local level, then extends to the national government. Even so, it was a tragedy, we failed. Now, what are we going to do about it?
I am happy to see that humanity is triumphing over this disaster, even though it seemed to arrive a little late. Our fine military men and women had to come in to stop the senseless looting and establish peace in our own borders. Regular people across this great land have opened their doors, their storehouses, and their wallets to help those displaced by this storm. And, in the end, things will get back to normal.
And, as we learn from this storm, I can't help but ask: Why would we have a major population center in hurricane alley that is 7 feet below sea level? What's wrong with this picture? And, even more, why haven't we built a new oil refinery in the last 30 years? (You might notice that Bush's proposed energy bill sought to significantly increase our refining capacity... nobody gives him credit when he turns out to be right).
Overall, the southern Gulf Coast suffered greatly at the hands of two despicable women:
A Hurricane named Katrina and a Governor named Kathleen
Friday, June 17, 2005
Well... I'm sitting on the floor in Paris/Charles De Gaulle Airport. And I will officially dub this place "the twilight zone."
Upon arriving, they allowed us to deplane on these super-modern-looking glass Skyway bridges. But, someone failed to unlock the door at the far end of the bridge, so we were stuck in a long line in this enclosed tube (insert claustrophobia here). Because they were glass (and modern-looking, which is important in Paris) we got a great view of the bedlam of little carts driving back and forth below us. Holy crazy! Imagine a traffic jam of golf carts all wanting to go different directions. So much for traffic rules (or sense). The modern-looking sassy glass bridge also gave us another great demonstration of the greenhouse effect. Hmmm... maybe building these sassy bridges with clear glass and no air conditioning wasn't such a hot idea after all.
When they finally released us, I followed the signs telling me how to get to my terminal... only to find out that they led me right out to the tarmac (see bedlam referred to above). After asking the unhappy lady in the yellow traffic vest where on this green earth i was supposed to go, she ushered me onto a bus... which then took off and joined the airport traffic bedlam (all this, in a "secure" area).
Yeah... the next fifteen minutes were more like driving in Cairo than driving in Paris... except there were no cabbage-laden donkey carts. But, finally they pulled me up to a back entrance door marked by a hastily-made sign: "2E"
Now, for those of you who don't remember Paris CDG Terminal 2E, check this out: http://www.inq7.net/wnw/2004/jul/07/wnw_5-1.htm
Yep... leave it to Paris to invest billions of dollars into a new, ultra-modern, space ship-inspired terminal (which was already over capacity the day it opened) and then have it collapse a year later. So, what is terminal 2E now? Well, it looks a lot like a bus station. They took the signs from the old terminal, repainted a storage area, added doors, put up a few coke machines (charging 2 EURO for a can of coke... vive le france), and have tried to move on. I guess they are rebuilding the terminal.
Now I am sitting next to the ONLY open plug in the entire area (and I cased the place... I'm glad I found this one). And, it seems they added a WiFi hub to keep their passengers from tearing their ears off and gnawing on the ugly furniture.
So, I'm off on an adventure. People say I should be afraid of the Middle East. Personally, I'm more afraid of the Paris airport. When stuff like this happens in the Arab world, it is quaint; when it happens in Paris, it is an embarrassment.
Those are my thoughts. Where to next? Oh yeah... The Middle East.
That is all.
Friday, June 10, 2005
But, as I read the news, I am finding out that hundreds of thousands of children around this country are NOT LEARNING TO READ. Yes... we are the strongest country in the world, yet 70% of inner-city fourth grade students can not pass a basic reading test. That is appalling! What are we accomplishing in this country if we aren't even teaching our children how to read???
For the last six months, I have been around people who were pushing that legislation because they believed in it with all their hearts. I have kind of followed along for the ride... because I didn't understand enough about the legislation. Then, a few days ago, I commented about the law to a fellow student. Said werf responded with disgust: "It's a crappy law."
Huh? Why is it a crappy law? This is what I understand is the purpose of the No Child Left Behind Act:
1) That schools be held accountable for student performance. That means, that schools should be encouraged to accomplish something.
2) Schools who wish to recieve federal funding should use researched and proven methods of teaching literacy.
3) Students should be tested regularly to make sure they are meeting basic literacy goals.
In this process, the federal government will provide funding to schools that reach basic literacy goals, and focus on helping schools that do not.
I'm just trying to figure out why it is so evil that we expect kids to learn how to read? Why is it a bad law that requires results out of our school system?
Oh... of course... the federal government should not be involved in education. Personally, if our education sector is perform as badly as it says it is, let's get the government involved. I'm a conservative, but if something ain't working, maybe sometimes the government should get involved.
That is all... for now.
Dear 100 Hour Board,
What are some virtues of the Democratic party?
This was my response:
The Democratic party does have a lot of virtues. Recently, they don't seem to be implementing or pushing those virtues very well.
Democrats have always been the champion of those without a voice... the little guy. They have effectively courted groups that represent the poor or afflicted: Unions, ACLU, blacks (although this is changing... more blacks voted for Bush in '04 than any other previous Republican), and the environment. They have also actively courted liberal women by promoting abortion and women's rights. Generally Democrats also believe that government can more effectively manage an economy rather than leaving management to free market forces. This usually applies to more universal health care benefits.
A friend of mine just said: "THIS incarnation of the dem party has done a shoddy job of things." And that friend is exactly right.
Recently the Democratic party seems to have lost its vision. It has spent a lot of time trying to put together a majority from a variety of minority interests. In the 2004 election, John Kerry lost because nobody could figure out what he believed. Democrats hate the word "flip-flop," but it is the buzz word that lost them the Presidency.
According to Karl Rove (who I found to be a surprisingly charming fellow), today's Democratic party has not articulated a vision of where they want the country to go. They are playing defense constantly. Check out the 2005 State of the Union by President Bush and then the response by Harry Reid and Congresswoman Plasti-Girl (Nancy Pelosi is her real name... but she looked like a stretched plastic doll that day). Bush talked a lot about a bi-partisan vision of going forward... even quoting prominent democrats (for which he was booed by the Democrats). The Democratic response was all defensive, offering no real view for where the country should go... only saying that "President Bush is wrong, we can do better."
So, historically speaking, the Democratic party has a lot of virtues. The most recent incarnation of the party, however, seems to be focused only on bringing down President Bush at all costs. And, to me, that isn't good enough. Give me a vision of where you want to go... and lets talk about it.
This leads me back to a rant I wrote in my http://horatiotastic.blogspot.... in March. Political parties reflect the beliefs of those who are most active in them. They represent the aggregate beliefs of those who participate. If we don't like the way a party is moving, we need to get involved. Right now, the uniting force of the Democratic party seems to be: Get Bush. The Republican party at least has a direction: spreading democracy around the world.
Giving the option between taking out the Commander in Chief during a war and a broad vision of spreading democracy... give me democracy. I may not agree with all the methods, but I like the direction they are going. Then, it is up to me to get involved and make sure my ideas are known.
There is my rant on Political Parties. Believe and vote as you will.
That is all.
Horatio the Political Junkie
Friday, April 01, 2005
If you ever drive around in Washington DC, you will notice signs on various posts talking about a "Snow Emergency." You would laugh... until it snows in Washington DC.
THE ENTIRE METRO AREA SHUTS DOWN at even the hint of incoming snow. School is cancelled, the government sends non-emergency people home, traffic is horrible... even the grocery stores get ransacked of non-pershible food and toilet paper.
Um... people... it's going to SNOW. Why do you need a year's supply of toilet paper if it is going to snow tomorrow?? The snow will, in fact, melt... and it will most likely melt the next day.
Now, you all have to understand that I grew up in the mountains. School was never cancelled unless we got a storm of biblical proportions. And what did we do when school was cancelled? We slept in for another hour, threw on our gear and went for the slopes. Snow days were blissful... no school, great skiing!
So, pardon me if I am a little confused by the whole Snow Emergency concept. Earlier this year every school in the DC Metro area cancelled classes just because snow was forcasted. How much snow did we get? Um... none. About 4 flakes fell pensively from the sky around noon. Otherwise... it was just a cold cloudy day. I learned that day that a Snow Emergency doesn't even require snow... just the HINT of POTENTIAL snow.
Anyways... I'm perplexed. But, thankfully Spring is approaching quickly and we won't have to deal with this emergency junk anymore...
Snow comes NEXT year!!!! (Insert dramatic music here).
Thank heavens for my SUV.
That is all.
Wednesday, March 02, 2005
I've always tried to be a political neutral. I'm genetically republican, but I didn't just want to vote for a party because my parents vote for that party.
I vote Republican because the candidates of that party most accurately represent what I want. Neither Republicans nor Democrats have a monopoly on good ideas or good people. The important distinction is not "Who belongs to what party?" it is "Who represents me best?"
At the core, what is a Political Party? It is a aggregation of the beliefs, values, wants, ideas, desires, and dreams of every person who participates. The Political Party is (ideally) a gigantic mirror representing what tons of people thing is important.
But, aren't some people better represented than others? Yes. Why? Becuase they are the ones speaking the loudest. Those who to participate more get heard more. That's just the way life is, my friend.
So, Now What?
I'm a religious person who was raised in a strong family (for which I am very thankful). I have strong values that make me who I am, and I want those values represented in government. What? You mean you have ideas you want represented too? Why don't we march on Washington and have a huge demonstration! Wouldn't that be worthwhile?
Personally, I think large demonstrations aren't very effective. They do more to annoy traffic than really change policy.
On the contrary, if you want ideas represented, get involved with a political party. I don't care if it is Republican or Democrat. If you present values that you think are good and important... that is all that matters. Both parties need people with strong values. They need to hear voices of the moderate public. If we don't say anything, we are letting both parties be controled by the active and radical extremes.
Recently I went to a Conservative Political Action Conference. And, let me say, that was one of the weirdest groups of people I've seen outside a Star Trek Convention. My friend who wandered around with me, a very kind hearted young lady, summarized the experience thusly: "I'm glad to see that neither political party has a monopoly on crazy people."
Nope... neither party is lacking in nuts. But both parties are seriously lacking in normal people. Both political parties need people that represent the moderate majority of American values.
So, Party On! Get out and be politically active. Politics isn't just for corrupt, money-hungry, millionaires anymore! Politics is for you and me.
After all... that's what Democracy is all about.
That is all.
Horatio for President.
Sunday, February 27, 2005
I was watching one of those 24-hour-random-pointless-rambling-news stations the other day... and bless my soul, BILLY IDOL was being interviewed. And it wasn't just one of those "so, you're old and washed out, we should take pity on you" interviews. There was actual news involved...
BILLY IDOL IS RELEASING A NEW ALBUM! The first track is already availible, it's called "Scream" and can be easily (and legally) downloaded on the iTunes Music Store. The Album Devil's Playground hits stores March 22nd (so make sure you wait in the midnight line at WalMart... 'cause I know this is going to be big... for about 3 people).
Billy is starting a grand-ish tour of the US/Britain starting March 14th in Texas. I'm sure he will be spotted flying on a non-existent commercial airline drinking a full bottle of wine on the way to Vegas. But, he will help the wedding singer get his love and all will be well. Sound familiar?
So... Billy is BACK!! It's a nice day for a ... um... White... um... Billy Idol Album.
Ok... so this is not really someone I care two hoots about... but i still think it is funny.
That is all.
Horatio the Music Critic.
Thursday, February 17, 2005
Think of this... if every year of my life were an hour, I would have just finished a very, very, very long day. And I probably wouldn't be sleeping quite yet.
So, on those various subtle levels... I wish you a very Happy My Birthday. It's a new and exciting holiday (...and so close to Singles Awareness Day).
That is all.
Wednesday, February 16, 2005
Now, I know that it is a long way away... but two score and one (or maybe three) years from now I will reach the official retirement age. So, the question is, will I have a rats chance of getting a Social Security check? Will that FICA stuff, ripped away from my paycheck, ever come back home? Up until recently, I would have said "No" and promptly written another check to my Roth IRA.
But, with President Bush's new campaign to reform Social Security, I'm starting to rethink my pessimism.
Social Security reform should be the top of my agenda (no matter how anti-social I may be), because any reform will benefit ME... and every other young professional. Social Security was designed to give everybody a small financial safety net for their retirement. It provides each eligible retired worker with a monthly check. It may be small, but it is still an important safety net.
When he signed Social Security Legislation, President Franklin D. Roosevelt said:
This social security measure gives at least some protection to thirty millions of our citizens.... We can never insure one hundred percent of the population against one hundred percent of the hazards and vicissitudes of life, but we have tried to frame a law which will give some measure of protection to the average citizen and to his family against the loss of a job and against poverty-ridden old age.
(Presidential Statement Signing the Social Security Act, August 14, 1935).
But Frankie, we now have a problem. This great "moral victory of the 20th century" is slowly failing. As President Bush said in the 2005 State of the Union address, the Social Security system, "on its current path, is headed toward bankruptcy" because today "people are living longer and, therefore, drawing benefits longer."
Just today, Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan declared that "benefits promised to a burgeoning retirement-age population under...Social Security and Medicare, threaten to strain the resources of the working-age population in the years ahead. Real progress on these issues will unavoidably entail many difficult choices. But the demographics are inexorable, and call for action before the leading edge of baby boomer retirement becomes evident in 2008."
Ok, I know he talks like an economist, but he is saying that there is a problem that is only getting worse. He's pretty much the most powerful economist in the world right now... so he's probably a good person to reference.
So, Social Security is in trouble. It isn't a disaster yet, but it is in trouble. And if we can see a train wreck coming, we should probably do something about that. In fact, President Bush is speaking in a New Hampshire hangar, trying to convince people that there is a problem.
And if younger people don't do something about it... um... we're going to suffer here.
But, as we hear about Social Security reforms, there are a lot of people whining about reform... especially on Capitol Hill.
Here are some important things to remember as you watch the news and learn about Social Security Reform:
- Benefits will NOT change AT ALL for anyone born before 1950. This is important to remember, because seniors are the most active voters. So... that "working retirement" add from MoveOn.org is a load of bunk. Don't let anyone over 55 think that they will lose their check. Bush has been quite clear on this... and most people agree about this.
- Bush is not calling to privatize social security. Privatization implies that the government will pass responsibility for the program to another company. But, if you read any proposals that President Bush presents, he never uses the word "private." He is proposing Personal Accounts, similar to Government employee benefit programs. That means that I will actually have some control over how my social security money will get invested.
- President Bush has said many times that he is open to any viable suggestions, as long as they do not affect people over 55 and do not raise payroll taxes. In fact, every suggestion he gave during his State of the Union address came from people in the Democratic Party.
- Social Security Reform is still in the planning stage. Right now, our congresspersons need to hear from constituents. Call/write/e-mail your congressperson and say you SUPPORT SOCIAL SECURITY REFORM, and encourage him or her to investigate the problem. They need to know what you think.
Social Security is an important problem, especially for younger workers. If I have any chance of getting any retirement benefits, we need to change Social Security SOON.
I reccomend that anyone visit the White House Social Security information page. There is some really good stuff there.
That is all.
Tuesday, February 15, 2005
That name is Karl Rove. Assistant to the President, Deputy Chief of Staff and Senior Advisor.
I got to sit in a meeting with Mr. Rove and ask him a few questions. While others asked him about political movements and strategies, I was curious about him personally.
I asked Mr. Rove how he dealt with all the negative things that people said about him. I was quite interested in his answer.
His response was simple: "Don't make youre life centered around what people say about you." He encouraged us to find our information from a variety of sources and stick with our ideals.
The most interesting thing he said was about President Bush: If you don't believe that the President is a smart, driven, visionary leader... then you have to look for some other explanation. Then he laughed at the idea of being "Bush's Brain."
Needless to say, the person many call the most powerful man in the Adminstration was really quite humble. Imagine that!
That is all.
Welcome to Horatiotastic... Horatio's Land of Joy. My name is Horatio, and I will be your guide this evening through a fabulous journey beyond the realms of sight and sound.
You have entered, the Horatio Zone.
I welcome you. Make yourself at home and grab a cup of cold herbal tea and a Twinkie. They are on the table behind you (next to the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Trawl).
This blog will discuss randomness of politics and the fun things that happen in my life. Few shall know who I actually am... at least by name. But all shall know what I think. Well, by "all" I must say just the people that actually read what I write.
That is all.