Until Midterm Elections...

Scott versus Scott

Welcome to our blog. Here we will debate the days most serious topics and allow users the chance to discuss the topics as well. The range of topics will vary, but one thing will remain certain, the debate will rage on. Scott Lesinski is a proud conservative and Scott Jones is a proud liberal. However, the roles will switch on some topics. Stay tuned.

Scott Lesinski is currently an actuarial associate for a large human resources and insurance consulting firm in Saint Louis. He is also an avid student of US history and enjoys following current events, with an eye to their contextual relationship to the past. He is also, in fact, a former student of Mr. Scott Jones. Scott is working toward his FSA credentials, which is akin to earning a PHD in Actuarial Science.

Scott Jones is currently a high school social studies teacher at a high school in suburban St. Louis, MO. He teaches World History, AP American Government and Senior American Foreign Policy. He has a BS. Ed. (Secondary Social Studies) from the University of Missouri - Columbia and a M.A. (History) from Southeast Missouri State University. He is currently working on a dissertation in character education to earn a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Some random thoughts for the dog days of summer…

NEW COMMENT CONCERNING SENATOR SESSIONS' QUESTIONING OF JUDGE SOTOMAYOR. CAN BE FOUND IN THE COMMENTS SECTION.



Why is it wrong to trust the government?

In a simple answer, it isn’t. I understand that those of the right spend countless hours arguing that we can’t trust the government and spend even more hours worrying about the size of the government. However, it just doesn’t bother me.

The greatest eras of economic growth in America during the twentieth century were linked with government intervention/stimulation of the economy. Of course, no one can prove causation about this and anyone claiming is just nuts. We can’t prove the economy would’ve grown without the intervention nor can we prove the growth would’ve been greater with more intervention. However, the twentieth century unreal overall growth in the American economy and size of government, which means – I don’t actually know. Neither does anyone else.

So why is it wrong for me to want the government to get involved in the health care business? I don’t want to shop around for my own health insurance. I have an agent deal with my home, car and life insurance because I don’t want to deal with it. If the government can provide me a plan that is competitive with the cartel controlled health insurance industry plans, then I have no problem turning that over to them. I already let them build my roads, deliver my mail, navigate plane landings and takeoff, keep my neighborhood safe and many other things. I don’t fear a public option for my health care. In fact, I believe the government might be more willing to cover me than a for-profit private plan.

I understand that people have differing beliefs on this, but don’t criticize my overall trust in government. Just because you don’t, doesn’t mean everyone doesn’t. Isn’t that the essence of freedom of thought?


Sotomayor confirmation hearings.

I don’t understand why the Republicans are even making noise on this one. President Obama has nominated a loose constructionist to replace a loose constructionist. I know the Republicans want strict constructionists on the Court, but they act as if that is the only way to interpret the Constitution. Let’s take a look at other loose constructionists – Alexander Hamilton, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson (once he became President), John Marshall, Abraham Lincoln, John Harlan (of Plessy v. Ferguson dissent fame). Yet, to hear the Republicans speak, these men must have worked hard to destroy the Constitution with their wrong interpretations.

I think the Republicans would be better off to not fight the Sotomayor nomination and vote unanimously to confirm. They can save that political capital to fight a possible nomination from President Obama to replace Justice Scalia, Justice Kennedy or Justice Thomas if they should leave the Court during this administration’s time in office. If they spend too much on Sotomayor and ultimately lose, then they might not have enough capital left for a real fight. Just food for thought.

The national debt…

We need to something. I don’t know what, but we need to do something. However, for the Republicans to attack social programs and not listen to the need to trim the Department of Defense is the type of single mindedness that has gotten us into this problem. Democrats will never give up social spending as long the Republicans continue to protect Defense from any real reform.


Iran…

I am sick of tired of listening to everyone criticize President Obama for struggling on how to properly react to the events in Iran. I guess Republicans always believe we need to use hard power in all situations. I guess they forgot the failure of the hard power threats from President Bush’s dealings with Iran.


Israel/Palestine Statehood…

Speaking of Iran, we are at an historic moment. The Israelis and Sunni Muslims have a common enemy…Shia Iran. Can we broker this common element into a peace treaty creating a Palestinian state that peacefully coexists with Israel and have the support of the larger Arab world? With this peace, the Sunni and Israelis could work together to isolate Iran and stave off the possibility of a strong Iran, which neither the Israelis nor the Sunni Arabs want.


Ricci…

Just wondering where the conservatives on the Supreme Court found the right to a promotion in the Constitution.


North Korea…

How do we deal with an insane man? A straightjacket…Call the Navy Seals. Still can figure out what the North Koreans want. I still have a hunch this is more about China and North Korea than the United States and North Korea. He knows it would be suicide to actually bomb Hawaii, but knows that he can get attention by making noise about it. What should you do with a child that is doing stuff just get attention? Ignore it or recognize it by punishing it? Don’t know which one is right in this situation. I really don’t think anyone knows.


Michael Jackson…

The man was one of the first to make me fall in love with great music. Thriller came out when I was in junior high and his video releases were can’t miss television on MTV. All these people who are happy a “pedophile” died, I would like to remind you he was found NOT GUILTY in 2005 on those charges. We don’t know what happened and our justice system worked the case out and found the best possible answer to the situation. To say you know what happened is just a flat-out lie.


Truly random stuff…

I fell in love with frozen coffee this summer. Love the coffee and now don’t have to sweat it out to enjoy it when it is 95 degrees outside. QuikTrip comes through again.

The word golf turns out to be Scottish for “bad luck.” At least that is what it has meant for me this summer.

How did they live before that conditioned air stuff that comes into my house? For those who believe that good old days were in the past, then you must live without this wonderfully cool air.

I keep trying new beers, but Guinness keeps remaining my favorite. Is there a beer out there that will make me lower the status of the great Irish stout? Can’t wait to get to Dublin next summer and see my own personal Vatican.

The word golf turns out to be Scottish for “this sucks.” At least that is what it has meant for me this summer.

I heard that St. Louis air quality would always be good in the summer if we didn’t fuel our cars during the daylight hours. It turns out that spilled gasoline instantly turns into ground level ozone when the temperature is higher than 85.

I think the bumper on my car would taste good with hot sauce and/or ketchup on it.

The word golf turns out to be Scottish for “birdie the eighteenth so he keeps coming back.” At least that is what it has meant for me this summer.

Just found out my phone has MusicID on it. Seriously, I'm so psyched!!!

Almost one month away from getting to teach again. Honestly, I can’t wait. Eight weeks is too long to be away from one’s passion/job. We would do better to spread those eight weeks around and go to a year-around schedule. I keep hearing that we can’t do it because of athletics, but what is the purpose of schools again?

I hate listening to other teachers complain that I get to play golf for free. Get a job in the summer at a golf course. It is not really that hard.

Merry Christmas in July.



38 comments:

  1. Although it may be a random assortment of musings, many of these items are ones I consider on a daily basis. For what it's worth, I'm thankful that I'm not the only one who views things as I do.

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  2. 1.
    I would just like to point of order that couldn't the private sector do all of those things you listed better/more efficiently?

    I already let them build my roads, deliver my mail, navigate plane landings and takeoff, keep my neighborhood safe and many other things

    MOdot is quite possibly the biggest pain in the butthole company that has directly affected my life in several ways.
    US postal service is quite bad compared to FedX/UPS/____
    I love being safe in the air, especially since I've taken to traveling these last couple years. However again, I feel like a private sector takeover could be more effecient than the goverment.
    And safe is in the eye of the beholder :-P

    2. National Debt
    Why not trim back things that do absolutely nothing? The DoD is pretty important especially since there's a "child" with nukes across the bigger pond. DoE (education and energy) could be cut/eliminated, not to mention throw out the crazy goverment spending on things that should be spent for by the private sector (ie Omnibus/stimulus)

    3. Iran
    Did you see how Honduras loved Obama and his latest shenanigan?

    4. Israel/Palestine
    Again, it's hard to be friends with someone who will stab you in your back as soon as you turn around

    5. Ricci
    I think it was then the Supreme Court found that denying the Pursuit of Happiness for some because of the failure of others is unconstitutional

    6. North Korea
    You told me the same thing about Achmed. Where are we now with ignoring him? I would honestly rather not wait to see what a lunatic could do. Hindsight is 20/20, but in some cases foresight is pretty spot on as well

    7. MJ
    He also nearly dropped his baby off a balcony
    There was a report on CNN about "is there too much coverage on MJ?"

    This isn't so much on MJ, but more just towards celebs in general, that I feel they receive way to much attention and it sucks the brain power from the already dimmer public that would rather see who's dating who in Hollywood than what their government is trying to impose on them (cap n trade)

    8.

    I love Mountain Dew, never realized how much I missed it until Europe

    I realized more now than ever that timing is everything when it comes to anything (I might just write a book)

    Being a swim coach is a latin phrase for banging your head in the wall when you see your team lose because you lack boys in 2 age groups

    If you watch TV, I remember there being something that highschool is just a mock up for superb athletes to make it huge later in life

    ~good to be back

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  3. Well, I'll just make two points right now:

    The US mail is outstanding. Every time you send a letter it gets there quickly. Don't tell me that you're afraid to send a letter, because I know that isn't true. Everyone trusts the US mail because it is nearly flawless.

    On the National Debt you're so far wrong that you're not even close. Our total debt as a percentage of GDP is around 30%, headed for 80%. However, in World War II our debt reached 120%, right on the eve of the greatest economic expansion known to mankind. Our first US surplus came in 1736. From 1737-1743 we had one of the worst depressions in our history. In 2000 we had a surplus, and shortly thereafter the Nasdaq fell nearly 90%. Japan had a surplus in 1989, and the Nikki promptly descended more than 80% as the country drifted into a 20 year depression. That's one great thing about being conservative; you don't have to know anything.

    Mark

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  4. Mark you are showing correlation but not causation. First, we can't really credit anything prior to the real founding of the country...there were too many uncertainties and differences among the conglomeration of states.

    That being said, you are wrong about our debt this year, please check my previous post for the projections from Obama's OMB.

    Anyways, like I said before, in WWII, our government was creating huge demands for actual products and services with all of its spending. The country was unified and everyone was working towards the effort. Plus, our debt was largely to ourselves, not China.

    Japan had a surplus, and how did they try to get out of their 20 year depression? For 20 years, they did stimulus after stimulus. No dice for 20 years.

    In 2000 we had a surplus, yes, but it was based on faulty assets backed by a dot.com bubble that burst right at the end of Clinton's second term. But as I recall, shortly after that burst and brief recession, the Bush taxcuts encouraged growth and for 5-6 years of his presidency, we had a booming economy again. Along comes another bubble, this time the housing bubble, which bursts at the end of Bush's term, causing the turmoil we've seen in the past 18 months.

    In 2004, two UCLA economists, Harold Cole and Lee Ohanian, did an extensive study and they determined that Roosevelt's "ill-conceived stimulus policies" extended the Great Depression by seven years. In a nutshell, they figured out that by spending and spending and spending to try to prevent the inevitable market readjustment and pain that would follow, Roosevelt just prolonged that pain and suffering.

    Listen, I have said several times now that government spending CAN have a positive effect on the economy. Wartime spending, Eisenhower's highway system, railroads, are all examples of government projects that helped actually create real, lasting jobs that provided a needed and very useful product that offered economic stimulating side effects. Just look at the effect of the highway system on expansion and new settlement and development. However, as I've stated before and will continue to state, redistributing wealth can only redistribute wealth. Not create it!

    Finally, just a little fyi, the US outsources much of its overnight work to Fedex...

    I do use the US post, but lets not pretend that its better than its private sector counterparts.

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  5. SJ, first, good to see you posting again. How was vacation?

    1) Don't trust the government because it is run by corrupt people (largely) that have never successfully done most of the tasks they take upon themselves to do. Look at the auto industry as an example. Obama's new car czar is a 30 something guy who has never run anything that has to do with cars. You can't convince me that HE was the best choice. I choose Rick Wagoner.

    On the healthcare side, again, just because you are too lazy to go out and shop around for the best insurance for yourself doesn't make the Government the best for this job either. Government run will necessarily lead to rationing by third-person bureaucrats who are looking at cost projections - not what is in YOUR best interest.

    And you're free to think whatever you want about the government, but if you think they have YOUR best interest at heart, YOU are being naive.

    2)I don't want to talk about Sotomayor. She's a racist who admits that policy is made from the bench. 'Nuff said.

    3)The Debt...well, please explain what defense programs we should get rid of, not just say "reduce defense spending by half". I can point out five programs off the top of my head that need reducing or elimination:

    Social Security - On a crash course with total bankruptcy. Benefits need to be slashed now to avoid the REALLY BAD crunch that WILL happen down the road

    Department of Education - Well lets just agree that our system sucks. This organization has been in charge for decades and it has failed. Dump it.

    Department of Energy - 62,000 employees whose purpose is to decrease our dependency on foreign oil. When it was instituted, we imported about 20% of our oil. We now import about 70%. Failed. Dump it.

    Immediately begin enforcing our immigration laws. Build the fence. Stop paying illegals and noncitizens all the entitlements they are getting.

    Medicare and Medicaid need draconian changes. Both are projected to be bankrupt within 10 years. We cannot afford these programs anymore, at least at the pace they are now being utilized.

    Stop Cap and Trade. Stop Nationalized Healthcare.

    There, I did my part.

    4)Iran - Well, we saw how great Obama's diplomacy worked. I really hope Israel bombs their nuclear facilities soon, because it is clear that we will not be.

    5)Israel Palestine...we've tried the two-state thing before. Palestine's leaders don't want it. They want NO MORE ISRAEL. Everytime Israel is attacked and they respond, the media complains of "overagression" or responding too harshly. I guess Israel should just aim their missiles as crappily as Palestine does.

    6)Ricci---your comment baffles me. I thought you agreed that Sotomayor's decision was stupid. Maybe not. In anycase, her decision was again, racist. RACISM isn't in the constitution, that's what was found.

    7) the Norks - The pipsqueak Kim Jong Il wants attention. I agree with ignoring him for the most part. But unfortunately, it has to be annihilation of their capital at least if he launches a nuke at us. I don't want commensurate responses. I want us to kick ass if it comes to it. I'd prefer peace, but its clear that the little fat-bellied despot is desperate. We will see.

    8)MJ - I agree that he was not convicted. Weird, yes, but acquitted. Leave it be. What makes me sick is that we have North Korea launching missiles and testing nukes, Iran threatening the world, this stupid Cap and Trade bill being rushed through Congress, and national healthcare a month or so off...and 92% of the coverage is MJ? He was a great entertainer, so what? We have bigger fish to fry.

    Random) Guinness is the best. Period. Especially fresh from the Gravity Bar at the Brewery. SJ, you will love it.

    Is anyone as pumped about the next Harry Potter as I am?

    Oh and I'm buying a used truck. Probably Ford F150. Gotta get it while I still can; Obama is probably going to have Sotomayor rule those unconstitutional in a few years here. Haha, jk. Or maybe not...

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  6. "for the Republicans to attack social programs and not listen to the need to trim the Department of Defense is the type of single mindedness that has gotten us into this problem."

    My goodness, single minded??? When have you EVER came up with something besides cutting defense spending? I don't consider cutting all the things Scott talked about being single minded. At least he's not like, uh, let's just cut education spending by half. I agree, what defense programs should we get rid of? You've brought it up on like five separate occasions but I don't see how you can ever get me on board with trimming, cutting, etc. if you never give examples and/or evidence.


    And just a real quick comment on the USPS. I have to comewhat agree with Mark. Forty-ish cents to get a letter to someone thousands of miles away ain't too shabby at all! However, I have received some TERRIBLE customer service at the post office (DMV too). The kind of service that if I were to provide that to my customers at work, I would lose them as customers forever.

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  7. Me? I'm for cutting social programs and defense. So which party should I vote for? As far as trusting big business (insurance companies) vs. big government, I trust neither. And I get this weird feeling - hair standing on the back of my neck - when big government and big business do one of their "public-private partnership" things.

    We've seen this movie before and the ending won't be changing...

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  8. If I don't trust the government to perform warrantless wiretaps (presumably intercepting international communications between foreign countries that are routed through the US) due to privacy concens, why would I trust the government to be involved in my health care information? As usage increases (because users are not impacted by cost), the government will be forced to control costs. They will have to do so in two ways: 1) through rationing of care (such as the recommendation by President Obama to not provide "unnecessary" care to at the end of life); and 2) through enforcing healthy lifestyles. Are you prepared to involve the state in every one of your actions that might impact your health, whether it's smoking, drinking, eating unhealthy, or driving dangerously?

    Also, it is erroneous to describe our current system as free market or capitalistic, since government currently accounts for more than 50% of all health care expenditures and the remaining portion which is "private" is not health insurance, but health cost insulation (where consumers are insulated from the costs of routine health care services).

    To prove my point, ask any Tom, Dick or Harry (you can add a Jane to the mix, too) how much their primary care physician charges for a standard visit to take care of a cold. Few if any will have a clue as to the cost (and that's the cause for costs spiraling out of control). Ask them howmuch their copy is and they'll know that amount (or %) right off the top of their head.

    Ask them how much they pay for an oil change at a Jiffy Lube and they'll tell you an amount that's accurate within 5 bucks. Although you have auto insurance, you don't send the bill for your oil change to your insurer, right?

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  9. New report from SCOTUSblog on Judge Sotomayor.

    http://www.scotusblog.com/wp/over-1000-law-professors-join-letter-endorsing-sotomayor/

    Wardo - New report from teh DoD - they have $21 billion dollars unaccounted for in the last fiscal year. We continue to build the F15 despite none of the services actually want it (see Sen. Bond for that one as pork for St. Louis). Despite bipartisan military support for creating a 21st century light fighing military, Congress continues to fund to maintain the Cold War army. Don't stereotype me as wanting to eliminate the DoD, but it is a huge bureaucratic black hole of money. Seems like you don't attack that bureaucracy as much as the "pet bureaucracies" like DoE and EdDept.

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  10. Don't tell me that there's waste, fraud, and funny accounting going on at a government agency! I'm shocked, shocked! (And only $21b? I'm wondering where the $1 trillion in bailouts has gone, but we can certainly focus on a mere $21b. ;-)

    This little app from IBM is useful in showing the extent of our problem. The more government controls, the more government spends.

    http://manyeyes.alphaworks.ibm.com/manyeyes/visualizations/us-government-expenses-1962-2004

    You can drill down into any category and see the trends for subcategories as well. The interesting thing is the comparatively flat trend for defense versus other expenditures. (click the Percentage checkbox in the bottom right.)

    George W. Bush was supposed to be an evil guy shrinking government while expanding national defense, but the numbers just don't prove that out. Expand Human Resources and click on Education. These are only 4 years of his presidency and you'll see that the #s skyrocketed.

    In truth, George W. Bush and the GOP from 2000 to 2008 were no more fiscally responsible than drunken sailors on shore leave - which is only slightly better than the Democrats.

    Is there waste in DOD? Certainly, but it's not unique to DOD and it will become ever more prevalent as the government expands to provide more services of everyday life and the bureaucracy to support such involvement expands. Note that this graph doesn't show budgetary predictions moving forward and the skyrocketing costs of Medicare and Social Security.


    This is not sustainable... And our leaders from both political parties think that the ponzi schemes can continue ad infinitum.

    The only thing that is sustainable is the finger pointing and the back & forth between those on the left and right over political gotchas. They feel good to point out and score some points, but the house is burning down and it doesn't help us put out the fire.

    We're truly in the Age of Unreason - and we've been here for some time.

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  11. Mr. J-

    I absolutely love what you said about trust in government. I just don't understand why some feel the need to bite the hand that feeds (loosely).

    Also, I'm glad to hear that I'm not the only one who is counting down the days before school starts. Though I say that, I still have to admit that I haven't touched my three chapter Chemistry packet. I have started the Jameson books for next year though!

    Cheers to the rest of Summer!

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  12. Posted on behalf of Mark Kasen who was having trouble with the anti-mass post code.

    I have three points:
    Most people lost giant amounts of money during the last two stock market debacles, largely because the country is illiterate when it comes to economics and markets. We don't know how to sell short or when to sell short; and anyway, we think it's anti-American.

    Next, we are headed towards disaster anyway, since Medicare will soon consume 100% of the federal budget. We can either find a less costly system which will require that we cover everyone, or we can let old people die in the gutters. Republicans might like that idea, only they may have second thoughts when they realize that they will be the ones in the gutters.

    Finally, while we're sitting around philosophizing about how all of the left wing political people are totally incompetent, remember that the people who now own us are none other than: THE CHINESE. In other words, Mao wasn't as stupid as you thought.

    Mark

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  13. First of all,

    I love how my words have been twisted by the "intellectual right" on this blog. I make the job because I have heard too many times that liberals are stupid and only conservatives have the ability to think...Yeah, whatever....


    I said that I don't mistrust the government. You do. Fine. I don't. Don't think I'm stupid because I trust our government. Our government is the most democratic and responsive to the will of the people in the world. We have some of the type minds in the world working for our government and some of the hardest and most caring workers employed by the government. Funny, the conservatives are very willing to trust the governmnet when it comes to defense (at least when a Republican is in office), but nothing else. Why don't Republicans believe we should privatize the army as well? According to their talking points, privatization is the perfect answer for everything and government sucks...

    Lski - the pursuit of happiness statement is exactly what conservatives attack liberals in the way-to-old activist judge argument. Just be careful when choosing your arguments.

    By the way, the conservatives set national policy in Ricci...Don't hear the outcry of activism over that one from the right...

    Scott L. - do you believe every justice in the 1950s and many from the 1960s and quite a few from the 80s, 90s, and 00 to be racist? Just because someone supports affirmative action does not make someone racist...I know you will point to Judge Sotomayor comments on hispanic women, but those were taken out of context...She was speaking to an hispanic organization about her life experience and how she was able to make something out of her self despite her extremely poor and disadvanted childhool. What is wrong with trying to motivate a minority group? Don't we need more minority role models for people of color and/or disadvantaged childhoods?

    On the USPS - last time I checked, UPS or FedEX or other private shippers don't offer first class letter pickup/delivery. The USPS, FedEx and other private shippers share cargo space on planes. Yes, USPS outsources some shipping route to UPS, but UPS does the same back.

    Why haven't UPS or FedEx offered first class letter delivery as efficiently as the USPS? Because they can't do it as well. The USPS is a government corporation that operates free of Congressional control. If the USPS can deliver mail in an amazing fashion, then it might do the same for health insurance.

    Remember, the government isn't as horrible as conservatives make it out to be.

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  14. "I just don't understand why some feel the need to bite the hand that feeds (loosely)."

    @Workaholic,

    Your sentiment is exactly our problem. Too many Americans view government as the hand that feeds. Government has nothing with which to feed you without TAKING IT from somebody else who has produced it. The government is not a producer - it is a regulator. It is a redistributor. It is supposed to be a protector of rights, yet it violates property rights everyday by taking confiscatory levels of tax dollars from some Americans and awarding those people's money to others who have not worked for it.

    Mark Levin makes a great point in his book, "Liberty and Tyranny". He states that we ought to move to either a flat tax or a universal sales tax, and that ALL Americans should pay. This way, ALL Americans have some stake in keeping taxes low. There is a difference between a government levying minimal taxes to fund the necessary and proper functions of government and a government progressively taxing its best and brightest citizens at ever-increasing levels in order to buy votes and create a dependent subclass of citizens.

    You should not view government as the hand that feeds. It is the hand that taxes and penalizes. The hand that can only block growth and entrepreneurship.

    Free people pursuing their own self-interest, creating jobs and wealth, inspiring new technology and medicine, seeking happiness and wealth; these are the hand that feeds. We must not continue to punish these people. We must lift them up and encourage more people to join their ranks.

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  15. "Next, we are headed towards disaster anyway, since Medicare will soon consume 100% of the federal budget. We can either find a less costly system which will require that we cover everyone, or we can let old people die in the gutters. Republicans might like that idea, only they may have second thoughts when they realize that they will be the ones in the gutters."

    Mark, you make my argument, but then you seem to think that the fix for the problem which we both realize is looming is more government involvement.

    I will not allow you nor Obama to keep using the strawman argument that we conservatives are just the party of "NO" and that we are for inaction.

    I am not for doing nothing! I just do not want to impose on ourselves the plan put forth by Obama and his followers. As Todd Larkin explained, government controlled healthcare for everyone will necessarily be rationed. You speak of old people dying in the streets...Mark, have you investigated the plan in Britain? Women over 70 have no choice, if they get breast cancer, they are told "too bad."

    As a rule, healthcare costs increase dramatically in the later years of life. Whats the best way to control costs, hmmmmmmmm!?

    Deny healthcare to seniors. That is what happens in other socialized systems and that is what will happen here. A national system, where government is the payer, will lead to "old people dying in the streets" - so to speak.

    I am not going to sit here and defend the status quo, however. As Mr. Larkin put it, our system is already screwed up, and it is largely the fault of government. Insurance costs are very high due to the mandatory coverages imposed by the various state insurance agencies. Consumers of care do not know the cost of care since instead of true insurance, most of us have prepaid healthcare. Thus, we overuse our insurance, which drives up the cost of care. Healthcare providers know that we, the consumers, don't pay the full boat and are sheltered from the costs, so they sell as much as possible. Also, healthcare providers charge high prices in order to recoup some of the lost revenues due to the incredibly low Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement rates. Many doctors are not accepting new Medicare/Medicaid patients because it is overly cumbersome to comply with all the paperwork and even get paid, and when they eventually are paid, it is a paltry percentage of what they should be getting paid.
    Finally, ambulance chaser lawyers constantly threaten frivolous lawsuits that drive up doctors' malpractice coverage.

    What we need is common sense and a return to market principles in the medical and insurance market. Government cannot provide these.

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  16. As far as the Chinese are concerned...its not so much Mao's brilliantly conceived communist plan as it is our own government's lack of foresight and irresponsibility.
    Both sides are guilty, but as the liberals in Congress have shown, they are FAR more capable of driving deficits than the Republicans. I know that the finger pointing is not all that productive, but lets just look at what Obama has done since becoming president:

    $800+ Billion "stimulus" package
    $450+ Billion "omnibus" package
    $4,000+ Billion 2010 budget

    Obama doubled our deficit THIS YEAR and the conservative estimates of our ten-year forecast show catastrophic debt levels.

    I've said many times before and I'll keep reiterating: I am no George Bush cheerleader. He spent ridiculous amounts of money. He failed to address illegal immigration. But he did keep us safe.

    Obama wants to dismantle our SDI program of missile defense in the midst of North Korea nuking up. This is just stupid and irresponsible. Any defense against intercontinental ballistic missiles needs to be heavily pursued and implemented. I don't care how uncomfortable it makes the Russians; we need it for ourselves.

    "Our government is the most democratic and responsive to the will of the people in the world"

    USED to be. If this were still the case, the House would have never passed Cap and Trade, the phone lines to Congress were being melted down. If this were the case, instead of issuing a directive labeling the 1.2 million Americans who dared to protest the ridiculous government spending on April 15 "right-wing extremists", the government would have done a little introspection and made some changes.
    If this were the case, we would have a fence built along the southern border of this country.

    I know you'll disagree that this should be the case, and like I've said, I'm still deciding whether I think this is necessary, but if our government was truly as responsive to the will of the people as you say, marriage would be defined as a union between one man and one woman.

    Our government is beholden to special interest groups that fund their election campaigns. We need true campaign finance reform, not a loophole that prevents private citizens from donating to the candidates they support during the critical last weeks of the campaign.

    Sotomayor has made that same statement about an hispanic woman making a better decision than a white man on multiple occasions. Its not out of context, its what she believes.

    Affirmative action devalues the actual effort and is unfair to those who are more qualified than the minorities awarded positions based on quota systems. If a white man happens to be far more qualified than a black man, but the employer hasn't filled his quota of black employees, is it really a good thing to force that employer to award the position to the black applicant? Everyone suffers. The more qualified white applicant does not get the position he has worked harder for and earned, the employer has a less qualified employee, and the black employee has the stigma of having received unfair preferential treatment and will never be recognized for his achievement, instead it will be viewed that he benefited from an unfair system.

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  17. I love it when conservatives shoot themselves in the foot as Senator Sessions did today in the Jusge Sotomayor hearings.

    I remind you that this same Senator once viewed the KKK as a good organization of brotherhood and only renounced it after he found out members smoked marijuana. He also called white civil rights lawyers traitors to the white race.

    Anyway, Senator Sessions today said that all minorities (including women, since he used Justice O'Connor's quote to start the stamement/question) are biased and unable to put aside their biases when determining justice.

    Apparently, only white men have the ability to carry out justice in America.

    So much for the Republican Party trying to break the stereotype of the part for the white man.

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  18. Scott L - then how come so many minorities often lack the qualifications necessary to get the job? Wait, I know, inferior education for minorities. Again, we educate our white kids to the second best ranking in the Western world. However, we rank worse than all other Westerners in our education of minorities. Muslims in France and Turks in Germany get a better education than your typical black/hispanic does in the US.

    I agree with the overall argument against affirmative action, but until we actually face the achievement gap problem, we must continue it so at least something is fair for the minority sometime in their life.

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  19. For those of you who keep denying that Obama wants a single-payer nationalized healthcare system like they have in Canada or Britain, please read the following story from Investors' Business Daily:

    http://www.ibdeditorials.com/IBDArticles.aspx?id=332548165656854

    I'll summarize:

    The House bill that is being considered outlaws new issuances of insurance from private insurance companies.

    This so-called "public option that will compete with private plans" is a Trojan horse and must be stopped. The bill is 1,018 pages long and IBD discovered the banning of private insurance on page 16. What other ridiculous destructions of our liberty does this bill also contain? Time will tell.

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  20. "Then how come so many minorities often lack the qualifications necessary to get the job?"

    Key word, QUALIFICATIONS.

    If one of those guys didn't pass the test that showed if you were QUALIFIED to be whatever you're taking the test for...

    WHY THE HELL WOULD I WANT THEM DOING WHAT THEY'RE NOT QUALIFIED TO DO?!?!?!

    You know what? I don't care what color your skin is, if you're not qualified, YOU'RE NOT QUALIFIED!!!

    I think it's pretty ignorant to think that someone could be qualified...for a minority.

    And why does what Sessions said automatically speak for me or all conservatives? It's disgusting for anyone to think that the KKK was ever ok. Is the man a racist? I don't know. If he is, he needs to be voted out. But there it goes to show how you can take what Sotomayor said about her being able to make a better decision because she's Latino and if you flip it around to be a white guy saying he could make a better decision because he's white, outrage. Either way it's wrong!

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  21. SJ -

    So let's just for the sake of argument accept your premise that, for the vast majority of minorities in this whole country, we are pushing them into these sub-par corrupt schools. They (minorities - but for you it seems to mean more Hispanics and Latinos...don't see too many Indian or East Asian minorities having all too many problems doing well in school) are born with an inherent obstacle in the form of a terrible, racist, poorly run, corrupt school system, while whites get the benefit of all the wonderful schools, the best new stuff, the best teachers etcetera.

    As I've stated before, I am not against fixing our public schools, especially in areas such as downtown Saint Louis. I understand the value of a good education - and I am a product of the Hazelwood Public School System (right before it took a severe turn for the worse, I might add). But, however, it seems that our wonderful president, The One, Mr. Obama IS against fixing the problem.

    You see, he championed an effort to kill the fantastic voucher program that was helping about 1,700 low income inner city students per year escape the crappy public school system in Washington DC, despite receiving hundreds of calls in protest from BLACK MINORITY STUDENTS living in DC!

    So what do we call this? It surely isn't racism, how could it be? A liberal Democrat BLACK president put an end to the best alternative other BLACK students living in the squalor that is DC had to escape to a better education.

    My friend, I do not believe conservatives are the ones we ought to be upset with over the treatment of minorities. I will not sit here and say liberals = racists either, that is not true. But we need to actually address the problem, root out the corrupt individuals, and solve the problem.

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  22. I always find it funny to see bias out of conservatives that claim they only judge the facts and let them speak for themselves.

    "You see, he championed an effort to kill the fantastic voucher program that was helping about 1,700 low income inner city students per year escape the crappy public school system in Washington DC, despite receiving hundreds of calls in protest from BLACK MINORITY STUDENTS living in DC"

    TALK ABOUT CHERRY PICKING THE STATISTICS. Of course, the other statistics don't help prove a faulty point. Somehow this isn't bias and you are just being an umpire judging the facts...Yeah, right.

    Story from the Washington Post on the D.C. school district...

    "Compared to 20 percent of large central city public school fourth-graders who read at or above the proficient level, only 11 percent of D.C. fourth-graders did so. And while 70 percent of the white fourth-graders in the District met or exceeded the proficient standard, only 7 percent of black students did. Nowhere else in the nation was the racial achievement gap so large."

    The DC school system has approximately 55,000 students in it. 5.3% of the students are white and 94.7% of the district is minority with 81.2% black, which means about 44,660 black students attend Washington DC public school.

    Now, lets assume the 7% proficiency rate among black fourth-graders is consistent throughout the district (we know that performance drops when students get to high school, but for the sake of argument let's assume the schools do a better job in DC of retaining the levels of performance among these high performing black students). This would mean that 3,125 (7%)black students perform at acceptable levels while 70% of the white students do so (2,040 students).

    Scott L. then argues that 1,700 minority (98% black) were having success in this charter school system that President Obama has shuttered. However, Scott L. can not prove the charter school CAUSED the increased performance. It is possible, and entirely likely, the charter schools chose minority students that were ALREADY performing well in the DC public schools and SHOCKINGLY had success in the charter school.

    These are the fact. I wonder why we as the most prosperous nation on the planet can't manage to educate ALL children and not just the smart one who look like us.

    Of course, it is the liberals that are biased, right?


    BTW - Scott L., the Hazelwood Schools are still great and West is no different than when you attended. We have students attending Harvard, Penn, USC, Purdue, Michigan, Loyola of Chicago and etc. One often thinks of schools as better when they attended them. Its okay, but it is basically amnesia brought on by nostalgia.

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  23. Somehow, I feel like you in no way showed that I was biased.

    There is still the phantom argument that "well why can't we just educate all students the same?" And why did you have to throw in the bit about them looking like us? I don't care at all what race or sex someone is. Equal opportunity should be equal opportunity.

    Look, Scott. I am not arguing against trying to improve our inner city schools. I merely pointed out the fact that a black president sentenced to death (no more enrollments, so the school is technically still around) a very successful voucher program that was helping out 1700 minority students in the DC area, condemning them to the really crappy DC public schools (I think the fact that they are crappy is confirmed by your statistics).

    Why does it matter that ONLY 1,700 kids benefited from this program? Why shut it down? Here's why: the private schools are not as subject to government control as the DC public school system.

    Scott, not you nor anyone else has managed to address the point brought up by Jon and myself regarding the differences in performance between the races IN THE SAME SCHOOL DISTRICT.

    As has been pointed out in the past, East, Central, and West get the same curriculum and are funded under the same bureaucracy. East is majority black students and West is majority white students. West out performs East in every metric.

    Why?

    Also, back to my point about the voucher program. You contend, with no evidence whatsoever, that the voucher program only awards scholarships to the minority students who are already succeeding.

    Even if that is true...SO WHAT? Why not encourage those few students who ARE interested in pursuing academic excellence? Why not offer some incentive to high performance in the classroom? In other words, why not reward those students who have worked hard and performed well with scholarships to attend the charter schools which might actually offer a higher calibre education?

    I was in GALACTIC as a child, and SAIL as a middle schooler. Those are programs that seek to inspire the students who are high achievers. Are you saying that those programs should be discontinued because not everyone gets to benefit from them? Because if that is the case, then I will use that argument to deny EVERY SINGLE REDISTRIBUTIVE BENEFIT PROVIDED BY OUR GOVERNMENT TO ANYONE. If not EVERYONE gets to benefit, then NO ONE can benefit.

    So no medicare, no social security, no food stamps, no public housing, no taking of wealth from one group to benefit another group of any kind whatsoever.

    I do not see it this way, but it seems you don't like it when only certain folks get to benefit from a school voucher program while others stay stuck in a crappy school. I say, why not have at least some lifeboats?

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  24. "Scott, not you nor anyone else has managed to address the point brought up by Jon and myself regarding the differences in performance between the races IN THE SAME SCHOOL DISTRICT."

    I'll do ya one better. How 'bout in the SAME SCHOOL.

    According to greatschools.net at Hazelwood West:

    Percent at or above proficient MAP test:

    Grade 10 - Math
    Black - 17%
    White - 49%

    Grade 11 - Communication Arts
    Black - 18%
    White - 41%

    Hmmmm.

    I pose the question once more...

    Could it be that we don't just pass off the "bad schools" on the minorities and that it has something to do with culture and family values and how each perceives education?

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  25. As much as I'd like to see the schools like the St. Louis City Schools put the MASSIVE amounts of money that they get to good use, there has to be a point where the parents of those students have to take matters in to their own hands! Where's the outrage from the parents??? I for one would be PISSED and trying to do something to change things! Where are the parents, man? Where is the outrage? Sad.

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  26. Oh, wait, I get it now. Somehow people who have been screwed for over 300 years in this country should just get over it and do what white Republicans say. Yeah, I know it is the party of Lincoln, but it is also the party of Nixon's 1968 "Southern Strategy" that sought the ulitimate goal of resegregation.

    Come on, Wardo. Blacks don't trust the establishment because it screwed them for so long. We must try to refocus our efforts in an honest way (start with schools and general good hearted poverty relief efforts). I don't hear Repbulicans with much of that.

    Everyone makes choices they believe are good. Blacks who choose to forgo education are making a choice they believe to be the right one. Conservatives talk about making the "right choices," but everyone does this. They might not make the choice we think they should make, but they make it with the way they think. You want to have people making good choices - educate them to be good problem solvers. It isn't easy, it won't always work, but it is a start.

    Scott L. - I do believe in the opportunity that things like SAIL and Galactic achieve. However, all I want is access/opportunity for everyone that want it. As it stands right now, the system doesn't allow access for everyone who wants it. The public school system is the only thing that can accomplish this. We must work to change the views of our schools and allow more people to understand their value. We do have an achievement gap, but the solution isn't to segregate those who can from those who cannot. This is classic game theory. The high achievers don't want to reach out the low achievers because everyone is in the game for themselves. We must change this attitude so that families can take advantage of a great system if they so choose. BTW, the DC public school system woud be a success if it in Wildwood. This is a social problem that we've been avoiding in this country for too long.

    Wardo - sorry about lumping all conservatives with Senator Sessions. You need to stop doing the same thing about liberals. Don't be a hypocrite.

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  27. "I do believe in the opportunity that things like SAIL and Galactic achieve. However, all I want is access/opportunity for everyone that want it."

    G ifted
    A lternative
    Learning
    ACT ivities
    I nvolving
    C hildren

    So that fits the mold of EVERYONE???

    The program is an integrated approach that allows for advanced learning, at an accelerated pace and with extended experiences.

    But EVERYONE should be able to go to GALACTIC if they want?

    Guess the 5th place team should get a trophy too huh?

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  28. Wardo - nice job of taking my words out of context. I guess conservatives do that to.

    I did not say everyone should be able to go. I said I want to create a society where everyone would have an opportunity to be able to have the ability to go.

    In order to accomplish this we could (and these are just ideas and open to debate)...

    Fund programs such as Head Start so that ALL children would have an opportunity to develop cognitive ability in those first critical five years and parents would have the ability to send their kids to such a program, which in too many instances today, they cannot afford to.

    Expand SCHIPS to cover ALL children from conception to end of full-time student status. Threfore, kids get the important pre-natal care that is critical for good development, the immunizations they need, the proper medical care for the various infections/virusus kids get and proper advice on nutrition/activity/etc that is important.

    These are just two ideas and as a country we could come up with all kinds of ideas to help kids develop properly without regards to socio-economic status. Once we create such a society, then it truly becomes the job of the parents and child to take advantage of the wonderful schooling. This isn't just a black and white thing. I taught four years in Potosi, MO and this is a rich and poor thing. Help the poor so that the opportunities afforded to the affluent kids (I was one - at least if you consider the life of a son of a middle class auto worker affluent, which in this situation I do).

    Then, we truly have a meritocracy where it is possible to reward those who work hard in school with programs such as GALACTIC and SAIL.

    By the way, I was never in SAIL nor GALACTIC because I was what they call a late-bloomer. I think I've turned out fine (PhD next spring) without these wonderful gifted programs you want to point out as key to educational success.

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  29. SJ - regarding Galactic and Sail, I never said these were essential to educational success. I was merely recognizing them as very useful programs that only benefited a few.

    Life is not equal. People are not equal. But that is no reason to deny things like Galactic and Sail or the DC voucher program to some kids just because not all kids are equal. The system is inherently unfair for whatever reason, but by denying access to all because not EVERYONE has teh exact same outcomes is completely unfair.

    I'll give another example:

    Missouri Scholars Academy. Roughly 300 soon-to-be highschool juniors get to attend annually. There are something like 70,000 such students. I'm sure not even all the kids who would be eligible for the program are considered for attendance. Yet, I champion this program. I went to it. My brother Brett went to it. Not many get the chance, but we both benefited greatly from it.

    Why not "make an investment" (as Obama is wont to say) in at least some of our best and brightest? This is a wonderful program that really can help bring about revolutionary change in a student's outlook and attitude toward life. But I suppose we ought to nix it, since not every person in Missouri who may be eligible if they all received the same, best education around gets to go.

    Oh, and Scott...SCHIP already covers "children" through age 30. I'm sure there is some definition of "poverty" that administers the eligibility, but c'mon. If you are still living with your parents and you're 30...Get out of their house.

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  30. "Wardo - nice job of taking my words out of context. I guess conservatives do that to."

    Wrong sir!

    You said everyone that wants access should have access!

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  31. stop calling me a conservative. I prefer the term "classical liberal," "TANSTAAFL-er," or "Galty."

    Thank you and good night. (And I think many of the canards thrown around here are equally applied to both sides - it's very common to call conservatives (or anyone who doesn't bow down to an all powerful state) stupid.

    Keep pointing fingers at each other. Pretty soon it will all come crashing down.

    http://abcnews.go.com/Business/Politics/story?id=8127005&page=1

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  32. SJ-
    What is wrong with seperating high performers from the rest. You could make the argument that the high performers help the low performers, and that ay be true. However by the same token, one can say that the low performers hurt the high performers. There comes a point where you hae to determine whos education is more important. Especially with the US falling behind as rapidly as we are in the world job market, we need to let students capable of rapid advancment advance rapidly.

    I know what your response to this will be. "We need to arrive at a system where eeryone achieves at the same level." You believe that should be the goal of education. In my opinion this is fundamentally flawed. We need people to work at McDonalds and to sweep floors just as much, if not moreso than we need astrophysicists. If everyone achieved the same, then we'd have qualified people not getting jobs. Haing low performers and high performers just ensures that more people will be able to get a job that is reflective of their ability. In short, competition is what drives everything and it should not ever be eliminated.

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  33. MJ was definitely not a pedophile and he will be missed. It is just very unfortunate that he always had to live his life in sort of sheltered way.

    There is definitely a gap as far as education goes in different demographics. If there were the same opportunities and things being taught because of this difference, then yes it's alright for everyone to take the same tests. The case of the firefighters is a glimpse into a larger problem across the nation. Just because the white firefighters were the high peformers on the test, doesn't necessarily make them better for the job and doesn't even give a real reflection of their performances as firemen.

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  34. KJay-
    How is a test about firefighting not reflection of someones performance as a firefighter? The fact that no minority firefighters scored high enough on the test is a pretty good indication that none of the minority candidates know enough about firefighting for the promotion. Any other conclusion drawn from that is simply ridiculous.

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  35. Kjay, on what basis then do you propose a city evaluate which of its applicants are due for a promotion within its firefighting system?

    Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm!?

    There has to be standards. Certain baselines for knowledge must exist and be both demonstrable and met by a candidate. In this instance, none of the black candidates performed well enough.

    Your argument is akin to saying we may as well not have State Boards for licensing RNs because high performance on those tests doesn't necessarily make a nurse better on the job nor does it even give a real reflection of their performances as nurses!

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  36. Yes, we will all miss MJ, but does anyone stop and think about the fact that this man was pumping huge amounts of serious narcotics into his body for "sleep"? Give me a break, no one needs demoral for sleep unless you are an addict. Not to mention the fact that they found a very powerful drug used for anaesthsia in his body and it was probably what killed him.
    I am getting sick and tired of the controvery surrounding his death. He was an addict and he overdosed! The End!

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  37. I appologize for my incorrect spelling in my last post. I was typing quite fast and got a little heated about the subject. Anesthsia and controversy were misspelled. Too bad there isn't a spell check on this thing. lol

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  38. To address the situation with North Korea I find it very scary that a crazy man has nuclear weapons and is actually testing them. Wether or not he plans to use them we simply don't know, but the fact is that it is possible and for that reason we should not ignore this issue. My hope is for the United States to come to some kind of agreement or peace treaty with North Korea.

    I also commend President Obama for taking up where Bill Clinton left off, and where Bush screwed us once again.

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