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Election '08

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Is House Speaker Pelosi Being More Presidential Than the President?

Nancy Pelosi is in the Middle East this week trying to find common ground with countries that the Bush administration has spent the last six years criticizing, maligning and accusing of being terrorists. Could it be that the Speaker of the House has the better way?

Many feel that the only way to win the “War on Terror” is with the support of countries that have had disputes with the U.S. in the past. One thing that was learned in the post cold war openness of Russia was that despite all of the rhetoric of the cold war, the people of Russia weren’t that different from people in the U.S. Of course there were differences and some particularly stark ones in the area of political views but overall, the Russians loved their kids, wanted a peaceful existence and hoped to leave the world better than they came into it. Will we find out similar things about the Middle East if we cool down the saber rattling and name calling? After nearly fifty years of mutually assured destruction (M.A.D. being a very appropriate acronym given the madness of the cold war), we found peace with Russia. We found peace through dialogue and diplomacy. Some argue that we “won” the cold war by outlasting the “commie bastards” and building more bombs than they could but what did we gain by it? Did it make the world any better? Are we any safer with all of those nuclear weapons in the world that weren’t here before the cold war?

With Ms. Pelosi’s trip to the Middle East she is doing the things that actually build peace. She is talking to the leaders of the nations that are the best equipped to help us stop the violence. If you only talk to the people that support you, you can never resolve the problems with the nations that oppose you. War does not facilitate peace overall despite what some leaders would have you think. From WWI we got WWII. From WWII we got the cold war, Korean War, Vietnam War, The Six Days War (and every other conflict involving the state of Israel), The Afghan – Soviet War, etc. From the Afghan – Soviet War we got 9/11 and the war in Afghanistan and on it goes. The losing side or wronged bystanders usually find a way to take some measure of revenge down the road unless they are utterly annihilated. War does not bring peace. War brings more war and the people who suffer are not the people giving the orders.

A real leader has the vision see that peace comes through dialogue and cooperation between nations and works toward peace without bombs and “collateral damage”. Perhaps it’s time for the old mindsets from America’s past to step aside and let people with a realistic vision for future peace take the lead. The old ways haven’t proven to be terribly successful. Thousands of dead Americans and tens of thousands of dead Iraqis is not success and is by no means progress nor has it made America any safer. Every day we refuse to talk to our “enemies” is another day that they can find another reason to hate us. We can’t kill everyone that hates us without committing genocide on a global scale. So the question becomes, how many more have to die for there to be a “win” for America so we can stop this current madness?

I for one applaud Nancy Pelosi in her efforts to begin a dialogue. Thank God someone in Washington has the sense to seek peace in the most likely manner to achieve it.
Troy Wilson-Ripsom - Staff Writer - Give your feedback on this article.


Independent View From the Campaign Trail

On Taxes:

Recently, I came across an article in the Wall Street Journal ( 3/21/07 Page A18) which parallels my views on the subject almost exactly. This article was written by Jeb Hensarling, Chairman of the Republican Study Committee, a group of over 100 conservatives in the House of Representatives and is titled “Contract Renewed”.

The article states:

The time has come for each member of Congress to show political courage. We must stop politicking and work to provide real solutions to the serious problems that our nation faces.. On March 21, 2007 Dick Armey, one of the authors of the original Contract with America, will be joined by taxpayers from across our country at the Capitol to endorse the American Taxpayer Bill of Rights, which was developed by the Republican Study Committee. These rights represent a renewed contract with all Americans to restore accountability to the halls of Congress. Here’s a glimpse:

1. Taxpayers have a right to have a Federal government that does not grow beyond their ability to pay for it.

2. Taxpayers have the right to receive back each dollar that they entrust to the government for their retirement.

3. Taxpayers have a right to expect the government to balance the budget without having their taxes raised.

4. Taxpayers have a right to a simple, fair tax code that they can understand.

I think they are on the right track here, pretty much. Let’s look at those more closely.

1. Taxpayers have a right to have a Federal government that does not grow beyond their ability to pay for it.
Our current debt is approximately $8.8 trillion dollars or over $29,000 for every man, woman and child in America . How did we ever allow it to get this big? This has to stop now. We are not in debt because we don’t pay enough in taxes, we are in debt because our politicians spend too much. It’s our money, not theirs.

If you or I or anyone gets too far into debt you have to cut back and only pay for the necessities until your finances are more in balance. That is exactly what needs to be done with the nation’s finances.

2. Taxpayers have the right to receive back each dollar that they entrust to the government for their retirement.
I would take this one step further by saying that taxpayers have the right to receive back each dollar that they entrust to the government for their retirement plus a reasonable rate of return. Most of the younger generation does not believe that social security will be around for them when it comes to their turn to retire. The system must be modified to ensure that it is or Social Security is just another tax.

3. Taxpayers have a right to expect the government to balance the budget without having their taxes raised.
Income taxes are just the tip of the iceberg. We are taxed for trash, water, gasoline, telephone, property, vehicles, you name it. If the politicians can find a way, they will slap a tax on it. At one time those taxes made “some” sense since they were established to support the items that were actually being taxed. However, as time went on, more and more taxes have found their way into the general fund instead of being used for the purpose for which they were intended.

So I have two suggestions:

First, if a tax is on a specific item, gasoline for instance, that tax money must be used for what it was intended to be used for – maintaining and building roads, bridges and other infrastructure.

Second, we must have a balanced budget amendment. That is the only way to ensure that Congress will propose budgets that are within our ability to pay for them out of our current income.

4. Taxpayers have a right to a simple, fair tax code that they can understand.
The current tax code is ridiculously complicated. So much so that approximately 60% of taxpayers pay someone else to prepare their taxes and that should truly not be necessary. In order to get better and more complete compliance with paying taxes we need to make the whole system much simpler and easier to use. For that reason, I strongly believe in a flat tax system.

Although I agree wholeheartedly with the above four proposals, it is interesting and amazing to me that a group composed of 100 House members have come forward with this “Contract” given the fact that they are probably a lot of the same people that are responsible for the 43% increase in the Federal budget over the last 5 years. It is, however, a step in the right direction.
Frank McEnulty - Independent Candidate For President - Give your feedback on this article. | Visit the Campaign Website




Who's FICA and what's he doing with all my money?

Taxes suck! Nobody wants to pay them. But we all have to. Sure we lie to reduce them. We'll pay someone else to prepare them 'cause most of us don't understand them. If a mistake is made, it doesn't matter who made it, you have to pay for it, usually with interest. So, except for the very few Americans who can afford great tax accountants and lawyers, every year the government will take roughly a quarter to half of your income.

Everyone has had trouble with the IRS, if you haven't yet, don't worry you will. You got too much of a refund, didn't pay enough, shouldn't have claimed all of Bolivia as dependants, forgot to file for six years...doesn't matter. They may be slow, but in the end the government will get their money. Don't take my word for it, just ask Willie Nelson. They didn't just take his money, they took his house.

Everyone pays taxes. Illegal immigrants, they pay. They have to if they ever want resident status. No excuse, there are programs in place so that they can pay their taxes. Lost your job, on government assistance, your broke government-cheese-eating-self is still required to pay taxes. And it's not just the Federal government, the state and city or county you live in get their share of your money as well. Buy a beer, fill up the gas tank, you paid a tax to somebody. Hell, most of the time you are paying taxes with money that has already been taxed. Win the lotto, have a long shot come in at the race track, the government will take their cut. You win ten thousand on a game show, you come home with about four and change, guess who gets the rest. That's right, doesn't matter if it borrowed, found, earned or stolen, some how, some way you will give the government your money.

So why the hell don't people vote!?! You wouldn't contribute half your paycheck to the family grocery fund, then not have a say in what kind of cereal gets bought. Yet year after year, millions of Americans pay billions in taxes and don't say a damn thing about where the money goes, or even worse who has to pay what next time. You want to keep more of your money? Get off your ass and vote. Otherwise we'll keep paying Halliburton to build Burger Kings in Baghdad while Katrina victims get evicted from their trailer park refugee camps because there's no more relief funding to rebuild America.
Kyle Pesonen - Staff Writer - E-mail Comments on this article.




Who Owns Your Candidate?

With more than a year and a half before the presidential election, the major candidates have already raised tens of millions of dollars for their campaigns. Who is footing the bill and what will they get for their investment?

Between the top three Republican candidates and top three Democratic candidates over one hundred million dollars have been raised since January. Over half of that is divided between two candidates, one Republican and one Democrat. Neither party can legitimately claim that they are not beholden to their donors because both sides are feeding at the money trough like pigs being slopped. With all of this money being poured into their coffers who will they really represent when they get elected?

So is it now a case of picking which corporations we want running the country? Do we pick our candidates by the companies they represent? How do we get any representation in Washington? It is clear that they are not afraid to take as much money as the wealthy will pour into their coffers as virtually every major candidate has waived federal matching funds because there are limits on how much money you can raise and still qualify for matching funds. Hillary Clinton, Barak Obama, Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney all waived federal funds before ever officially declaring their candidacy because they knew that they would well exceed federal limits with their fundraising machines.

Knowing that the major candidates are all seriously indebted to the interests of corporations who have shown their devotion to the American worker by sending our jobs overseas and fighting a higher federal minimum wage so Americans can afford to feed their families, how can we support the candidates that take their money? It seems that the time has come to stand up and tell the politicians that "We The People" want to come first instead of last in Washington. The American workers made this country great and it’s past time for us to tell the politicians that if they don’t fight for us first, we’ll vote for the people that will fight for us even if they don’t have Democrat or Republican next to their name on the ballot.

Staff Writer - Give your feedback on this article.



As Records Fall, Who Is Looking Out For Us?

With gasoline prices over three dollars per gallon in many places there has yet to be any action from Washington to seriously address the issue of price gouging by the oil companies. It seems like the passing of the election has also meant the passing of any concern over gas prices from the politicians.

The presidential campaign is gearing up and there are a lot of fundraisers going on with oil executives ponying up their money for access which may explain in part the silence of the politicians. How can we expect to be represented by the same politicians that are taking money from the oil companies to run for office? It seems like as soon as the elections ended, the politicians went right back to not being interested in the burden that the outrageous price of gasoline is putting on the American workers depending on our cars to get to and from work every day.

It seems that once again it's up to the American people to vote with their wallets and find ways to cut off the money supply. One solution is to carpool. Cutting down on usage will cut into profits and drive prices back to reasonable. The most important tool is shopping for the lowest price no matter what. Even if it's inconvenient, the only way to get the prices to drop is to only buy from the lowest priced station every time. When the higher priced stations stop getting business, they lower their prices to compete with the other stations. Each time the price gets cheaper at another station, change stations. And don't buy into the hype of how the gas is better at one station than another. It's just not true. There are a limited number of refineries producing gasoline and they all distribute more than one brand so when you hear the ads touting the great gas from one station, keep in mind they have the same delivery truck as Joe's Gas N Go that has the cheaper price. Ads are not facts. They are manipulative tools to get you to buy a brand. Don't fall for the hype. Shop smart and remind them who made them rich in the first place.

Staff Writer - Give your feedback on this article.



A Serious Candidate for the Green Party Nomination

Green Party Presidential hopeful and former Black Panther Elaine Brown stands as far to the left on the political spectrum as she can. She is an activist fighting for the release of wrongly convicted prisoners and working to change the system to remove racial bias from the criminal justice process. The mother, author, activist and scholar is an intelligent woman with an agenda of change.

While some might dismiss her as being too liberal, many of her stands are such that a majority of Americans would benefit from her ideas in the long term. The criminal justice system, which is her main focus, is without question flawed and in need of reform. While some of her plans might take things further than some would like, there is sometimes value in scrapping the whole plan and coming up with a new one. Since America has never actually tried to base its criminal justice system on realistic rehabilitation programs, there might be some value in trying that approach. If our justice system could ever achieve the blind ideal of the statues that supposedly represent American justice, all Americans would unquestionably benefit from that achievement. Whether you're a liberal or conservative, you're better off with a fair justice system than one that can incarcerate you for little more than being of a certain ethnicity. Ethnic majorities change in diverse populations and top can become bottom faster than you might think.

One thing is certain, with another hat in the ring, the Green Party nomination is not a one horse race so debate among the party members about the direction of the party will undoubtedly be interesting to follow. Even if the Green Party doesn't produce the next U.S. president, the fact that more people are running in more parties is getting more Americans involved in the process which is always a positive thing for the nation.

Staff Writer - Give your feedback on this article.



 

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