Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 209

On Politics
Here are my key reasons why I did not watch the State of the Union (SOTU):

  • It’s a collection of applause lines over many topics with little substance
  • Congressional behavior is predictably pathetic (Suggestion: Stand and clap at the beginning; sit, listen, and be quiet; stand and clap at the end, then leave to run to the cameras)
  • The SOTU is a Constitutional requirement, but the opposing party’s response is nothing more than political grandstanding
  • I’m unhappy with the both parties

Given the predictable responses by both sides in Congress, I ask them this question about their legislative prowess: Which is worse: Sending a bill to the other chamber knowing they won’t act or not acting on a bill that was sent?

Here are a few fact checks on the speech: Fact Check, PolitFact, Fact Checker, Politico, and ABC News.

The Onion took this great picture during the SOTU.

The past week delivered Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) declaring President Obama started the war on women, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) blaming Democrats (again) on the government shutdown, Mike Huckabee (R-AK) making a ridiculous statement about libido, and the Arizona Republican Party censuring their senior senator from their own party, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).

I said it before and it’s time to say it again: China carrying the bulk of US debt is a common misconception. Here’s the breakdown.

On This Week’s Headlines from The Onion

  • Dad Delivers State of the Union Rebuttal Directly into Television Screen
  • Increasingly Worried Man Hasn’t Yet Come Across any Guacamole in Burrito
  • Area Grandma Enjoys Flourishing Correspondence with Mailer-Daemon
  • Best, Most-Original Idea Man Ever Had Returns 14,000 Google Search Results
  • Spookiest Sound Effect Grammy Goes to Lord Chillingsworth

Interesting Reads

On Potpourri
The anticipated debate between science advocate Bill Nye and Answers in Genesis President Ken Ham is approaching, and no doubt will deliver a narrow view, thus providing a false choice. Here’s an article.

The recent Grammy Awards were big news. The show now focuses on performances and promotion over the awards. After all, there are over 80 categories, and how many did they broadcast? 10?

The AFA musical production for 2014 will be …. (click here for the drum roll) …. Life: The Musical. The production date TBA.

The Explorer of the Seas, the Royal Caribbean ship in the news with the recent norovirus, is the ship we were on this fall in Canada …. and no, the news doesn’t discourage me from cruising with Royal Caribbean in the future.

FYI for those living in/near metropolitan areas: When needing a new appliance, don’t forget the local independent dealer. We went to one and discovered the big-box stores were NOT close on price!

Here are your weekend celebrations

(Fri) Brandy Alexander Day, Fun at Work Day, Backward Day, Inspire Your Heart with Art Day, Hell Freezes Over Day, Baked Alaska Day, Working Naked Day

(Sat) Serpent Day, Freedom Day, Hula in the Coola Day, Robinson Crusoe Day, Change Your Password Day, Decorating with Candy Day, GI Joe Day, Ice Cream for Breakfast Day, Spunky Old Broads Day, Take Your Child to the Library Day, Face and Body Day

(Sun) Crepe Day, Dump Your Significant Jerk Day, Groundhog Day, Groundhog Job Shadow Day, Hedgehog Day, Sled Dog Day, Play Your Ukulele Day, Wetlands Day

Let’s use a dose of the 80s to whip everyone into the weekend with Ohio’s own Devo. Have a safe weekend and in the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

On Playing with Words

Over the past several weeks, there has not been a shortage of discussions and commentaries around the debt ceiling. If nothing else, this topic demonstrates that politics involves playing the word game, which sometimes capitalizing on what the listeners do not know. For instance, let’s consider the following phrases/terms: size of government, deficit, and debt.

What is the meaning of size of government? To me, size refers to how big government is … the size of the organizational chart. On the other hand, some use size of government to refer to the amount the government spends. However, amount refers to the number of dollars involved. If the org chart remains the same, a budget decrease means the amount spent decreases while the government’s size remains the same. Of course, some also incorrectly use size of government when they actually mean the role of government.

Does the user mean debt or deficit? The two are not interchangeable terms. The recent debate involves plans for deficit reduction, but not necessary the debt. Yep, they actually agreed upon a budget decrease that reduces the rate of debt increase. That is, the debt still increases.

Deficit and surplus refer to the difference between income and spending – specifically, during a particular 12-month fiscal year. If income is greater, that’s a surplus. If spending is greater, that is a deficit. In other words, deficit and surplus only refer to a one-year period.

Debt is a long-term word involving an ongoing accumulation of yearly deficits. Interestingly, if the surplus does not cover the interest on the debt, a surplus does not reduce the debt. Even the GOP recognizes that it will take 10-years of concentrated deficit reduction to reach a point of the debt not increasing. Yep, at that point, a large debt remains.

The moral of this post is the following. As you either listen or read the commentaries, or even better, read comments and letters to the editor or comments on blogs, take note of these terms and you will notice correct and incorrect use … and misleading use.

On More Debt Ceiling

As today went on, I began believing that the House would not pass the plan. So to my surprise, they did. Below are some random thoughts about the debt-ceiling discussions.

Although I do not agree with their tactics and noncompromising attitude, I give the Tea Party credit for pushing the discussion. On the other hand, they continue the tradition of misreading election results.

Did Speaker Boehner dupe the rebels by including the balanced budget amendment in order to initiate the dominoes to move the process out of the House and to the Senate to set up a deal that can pass without Tea Party votes?

Our elected officials have done an excellent job of talking past one another with their ears on mute.

About the balanced budget amendment: The Constitution is a set of basic rules for American governance – thus not a political vehicle for a policy preference. Republicans are not only using it to promote their agenda, the amendment does nothing to solve the problem at hand. Nothing!

As both parties continue to paint a messy picture of the other side by using shallow and twisted facts, both parties continue to avoid responsibility for their actions, continue to skirt decisions, and continue to protect their interests.

Although President Obama did not put his plan in writing (again, I have no problem with that), I do wonder if how flexible/rigid he has been in this process.

Count me as one saying that a duty of Congress is to legislate in order to pass the effort to the president. In other words, I place this mess is on Congress.

Since I wondered about how large corporations escape taxes on large profits, I offer this advice to anyone else wondering about the same. 1) Corporate tax rules and individual tax rules are different. 2) Talk to an accountant to have them explain how the tax process works on the corporate side. Keep politics out of it, and the accountant will help you understand. Yes, I recently talked to my CPA.

Continual resistance to increased revenues continues to appall me. Because there is no evidence that sensible revenue increases will harm the economy, the stance is based on special interest groups and the re-election of receivers of that special interest money. Even those saying that revenue increases are for periods of economic growth are missing the boat because it’s during those times is when government should let it grow, then help it when it is down. (Economics 101)

Deficit reduction directly resulting in positive economic growth is a theoretical pipedream.

Why are we one of only two countries in the world that have a self-imposed debt ceiling?

I wonder who would take a boat ride with someone who is willing to drill a hole in the bottom of the boat?

If liberal Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and conservative Senator Tom Colburn (R-OK) can agree while others cement themselves with their ideology, could this be the worst Congress ever?

Putting the pieces together, I get the following: Republicans are doing what they can to regain the White House in 2012 while the Democrats are doing what they can to retain the White House. In other words, it is all about who controls the bully pulpits of each end of Pennsylvania Avenue.