Sunday, February 12, 2006

Bush's Proposed Cuts...

"For War, Billions More,
For the Poor, No More" - Unknown

Source: The Associated Press

There is no doubt that government spending is out of control and with a budget deficit of $400B is an embarassment for the formerly cost conscious Republican Party and that something must be done.

Bush has propoed increased spending for his feckless war in Iraq, as well as Afghanistan and some other Bush Administration pet projects,

His excuse for his pet projects are always the usual 911, 911!, his universal get out of jail free card.

But look where some of the 141 programs he wants to gut or eliminate entirely:

No doubt that there are many superfluous programs can be cut like 'The Exchanges With Historic Whaling and Trading Partners" program which gives money to museums, aquariums and historic sites in Alaska, Hawaii and Massachusetts. I love educational programs and historical sites as much as the next guy, but we ALL need to make some sacrifices and this program amounts to $9M.

Some programs I have less sympathy for such as reading programs for jailed young people. Hey, if they would have concentrated on the books in school in the first place, they probably wouldn't have wound up in jail, now would they?

But most of Bush targets are programs that target the poor and not politically connected, like one provideing $107M for food for the elderly poor. He wouldn't want HIS mother to go hungry so why would he allow someone else's mother to go hungry?

The 'No Child Left Behind' President wants to eliminate $3.5B from the Department of Education budget (!). Republicans have been trying to drive AMTRAK in to bankruptcy for years, slashing 30% of its budget. After all, AMTRAK is considered 'public transportation' and who uses 'public transportation'? The poor. Just look at the ones who were left behind in the wake of Hurrican Katrina - those without cars. And people wonder why the US can't compete with the Europeans in having a decent national rail system.

With 45 million people in this country with health care, look where the Bush Administration wants to cut: Community Services Block Grants, programs that provide $630M in grants for local social services to provide poor people with emplyments services (do you want them to WORK or what, go on welfare?) housing, food and health care.

Agriculture research: Bush wants to cut $196M in local grants for agricultural research like asparagus. Good idea. We don't need to spend so much. Plenty of books have been written about asparagus. Go to the library and find one.

Food aid: Cut $107M from the Community Supplement Food Program which provides monthly food packages for low income seniors. Gee, all this from an Administration that likes to flaunt its 'Christian' values. Turn your backs on the least of your brothers. As Marie Antoinette and Barbara Bush would say, "Let them eat cake", I guess.

Energy research. The Administration wants to cut $64M from the budget on ways to cut the cost of oil and gas exploration. They argue that the oil companies have enough money that they can fund this project themselves. With record profits of $10B, I am in rare agreement with the Administration.

But here are some other cuts I'd like to propose:

Elimination of Tom Delay's $3M "Teaching Core Values through Golf" program. If you are going to cut programs for after school programs that go a long way in reducing drugs and local crime, this one should definitely be on the chopping block.

Eliminate all subsidies to the US Post Office: Is this a government agency or is it not. If it is, it gives an unfair advantage over UPS and FedEx who don't get subisides and besides they keep raise the cost of a stamp anyway.

Cut some fat from the Pentagon budget. In an era of 'insurgent' warfare, mega planes and tanks are up little use for house to house hunts for individual terrorists. You can't tell me that there are obsolete hardware out there still being funded. Take a cue from hardware and software manufacturers: At some point, old hardware and software becomes an orphan and os no longer supported.

End subsidies to farmers. Stop telling farmers what to grow and what not to grow. Let the market decide. Farmers will instinctively plant what is in and what is not and they can sell the excess overseas. Most of todays farms are large commercial agribusss outfits, since many of the small 'mom and pop farms have gone the way of the small "mom and pop" stores, out of businessiness.

Give back the raises: Since workers in the airline and automotive industries have been asked to take wage cuts and forego raises shouldn't Congress do the same? Since they are Federal workers, they could bear some of the pain of a 'squeezed lifestyle' just like their middle class constituents.

And lastly, can making the tax cuts for the wealthy permanent. This NOT the time for cutting the governments income and like I've always said, let the Millionaires feel the pinch too. It is a tired old song and dance that taking care of the rich will 'trickle down'. It just has not happened and all these tax cuts have served to do is widen the gap between the rich and poor. Smarten up leaders.

I have completed my own tour of Haunted Alaska. Not as extensive as Alabama's 220 sites, but Alaska's 31 sites brings the total to 251.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Scandals Playbook

You've heard a lot in recent days about the Abramoff scandal and its far reaching effects that started with payoffs from Indian tribes in their attempts to either achieve tribal recognition or to getting approval to put up a casino on lands that may or may not be ancestral tribal lands. In the same Time article that talked about the Abramoff scandals just look who was Abramoff's 'connection' to those in power chiefly, Karl Rove, White House mastermind, - one Ralph Reed, former head of the 'Christian Coalition', the guy who once said that gambling was a 'cancer on the body politic'. Reed had no problem being the 'go to' guy when Abramoff needed a favor. After all, he and Abramoff were former roommates, especially when Abramoff didn't want the someone who was a big supporter of John McCain to get a government job. Ralphie is now running as Lieutenant Governor of Georgia, let's hope as more of the primarily Republican scandals heat up before this falls elections.

Now for the Playbook for the other scandal, 'Plamegate', where the Administration tries to discredit any and all critics, here is the who's who of all the main players:

George Bush - President
Dick Cheney - Vice president
Karl Rove - Top Bush Aide
Lewis Libby - Top Cheney Aide
Stephen Hadley - Deputy National Security Advisor
Ari Fleischer - former White House Press Secretary
Scott McClellan - current White House Press Secretary
Marc Grossman - Under Secretary of State

Patrick Fitzgerald - Special Prosecutor (Remember how popular they were under Clinton?)
Joseph Wilson - CIA Envoy
George Tenet - former CIA director

Nicholas Kristof - New York Times
Tim Russert - NBC
Judith Miller - New York Times
Bob Novak
Matt Cooper - Time

It would be helpful to keep a pad of paper handy to list all the main players of the Ken Lay/ENRON implosion to see who this particular scandal, the largest case of corporate crime in US history will touch. You can do what the intelligence community failed to do pre-911: Connec the dots.

Is it any wonder why House Republicans chose John Boehner as their majority leader. They firmly rejected Tom DeLay's choice. A chain smoker, no wonder why he takes so much money from the tobacco industry and supports their interests.

I have completed my tour of Haunted Alabama, the first of the fifty states - There are 220 haunted sites in Alabama. Let's see how many I can complete in time for Halloween.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

January Stats

Last month they came from:

MA- Hingham, Arlington, Arlington Heightd, Avon, Dover, Braintree, Springfield
CA- Sunnyvale (multi), San Fran, Fullerton

US - DC, FL, GA, KY, KS, ID, IL, IA, MO, NV, NJ, NY, OR, RI, SC, TN, TX, UT, VA and WA and WI with multiples from some.

Global - Argentina, Brazil, Canada (Quebec), Denmark, France, Netherlands, Spain and the UK