Oh the agony of dealing with such cynical citizens of the United States. No President can get popular support during times of economic recession. Try as they may - Nixon, Ford, Carter, Regan, Bush (41), Clinton, Bush (43), and now Obama and his administration are trying to lead a country where everyone knows what is right and the President and Congress are idiots. However - everyone who knows what to do will not step upon the leadership stage and subject their vision, ideals, and performance to challenges on a daily basis. Through our Constitution, we the people instituted a representative government composed of the judicial, legislative and executive branch. We turned our collective voices over to elected representatives and instituted checks and balances to insure no one branch of the government exceeded or abused the power and privilege the people bestowed upon the office holders. Despite a super majority currently held by the Democrats in the legislative and executive branches, the politics demonstrated by Republicans have gained significant popular support and is keeping the super majority in check. But still, the know it all cynical facet of Americans find it more satisfying to label any person in government with derogatory terms instead of engaging in a respectable conversation about the issues.
I salute and truly respect anyone who has sought and been elected to public office. I can not imagine the added stress of having your life on display for public comment 24 hours a day and seven days per week. Negativity and contempt sells in the media - while positive productive actions are left for campaigns and corporate glossy performance reports.
Our local, state, and federal government offices are truly treasures of our American struggle to gain independence and become one nation, indivisible with liberty and justice for all. The offices are institutions of our government that provide the forum to create rules for individuals and business and lay the foundations for justice by interpreting challenges to the rules we created. The goal is to promote liberty and freedom for all Americans. The institutions of our government deserve the same respect as we pledge and give to the Stars and Stripes. For without local, state and federal government institutions, the Stars and Stripes would not be worth the blood that has been shed to promote the ideals of freedom, liberty and justice for all. The people who hold offices deserve respect first. Any person who would liable or slander local, state or federal representatives with derogatory names and inflammatory innuendo disrespects the institutions of the United States as much as someone who would burn our flag. And while I will proudly defend your right to free speech, I call upon all Americans to demonstrate respect to the office and the individual holding that office. It is not a matter of political correctness. It is a matter of civil behavior and respect of our institutions and the people who hold positions in those institutions. It is a matter of civil behavior and respect for the broad diversity of individuals and opinions that define our American society.
Expanding the Military's Policy on Same-Sex Relationships - Don't Ask Don't Tell Revisited
I proudly display and reflect upon pictures with Dan Quayle, Al Gore, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush. I managed to capture both President Bill Clinton and Prime Minister John Major in a photo at Cambridge Cemetery on June 7, 1994 recognizing the 50th Anniversary of D-Day and the British and American lives lost in WWII. While I have voted Republican for eight of nine Presidents, I try to understand the leadership style and agenda of each of our elected Presidents. I may not agree with all the agenda items, but I still respect the person and the Office of the President. For example during the Clinton administration, at first I was totally opposed to the "don't ask, don't tell policy." But as I continued research I began to understand that homosexuals successfully served in the military even before Thucydides first documented the Peloponnesian War between 431-404 B.C. I discovered the United States military enlisted and commissioned homosexuals in the ranks from the Revolutionary War through current times, and they served quietly with honor and valor. And just like heterosexuals - some have served dishonorably and without valor.
President Obama left the military to resolve the expansion of the don't ask, don't tell policy. In my opinion this is the best decision as defense policy makers have to resolve how to define behavior that is typically carried out off-duty. The decision will affect equal opportunity and treatment policies, fraternization, off duty public behavior, housing, combat operations, recognition of marriage/partnerships, and the Uniform Code of Military Justice to name a few areas of concern.
The decision to expand the recognition of same-sex relationships in the military is as challenging as individual states decisions to recognize same-sex marriage. The decision of one state to recognize the legality of that marriage is now a challenge to other states that ban same-sex marriage. The military decision is a complex issue with comprehensive implications to all states and countries where our forces are employed.
The question of morality and individual rights are juxtapose with state authority legalizing same-sex marriages and federal authority legalizing same-sex relationships to openly serve in the military. We must remember that while we are one nation under God, we may choose to believe or not to believe in God, yet our citizenship is granted either by birth or naturalization. We maintain citizenship unless we renounce citizenship. If we choose, we can worship God in one of the many ideologies and faiths either as a member of a religious institution or at large. Same-sex relationships are an abomination in many religious faiths as far back as the Canaanites from 2090-1897 B.C. In my belief and understanding of The Holy Bible, New King James Version (Nelson, 1982), Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed because the angles sent to find 10 good men found one good man, Lot. Other members in Sodom - old and young men surrounded Lot's house demanding Lot bring out the angles so the young and old men of Sodom could know the the visiting angels "carnally." As I understand - forcible sodomy rape - a crime against the individual just under the most immoral crime of murdering a person. Lot opposed the mob, and the angels pulled Lot back into the safety of the house while inflicting blindness upon the attackers so they could not find the door. The story goes on how the angels directed Lot to take his family members from Sodom before the wrath of God was fulfilled by raining fire and brimstone down upon them. Some of Lot's family thought he was joking and Lot was guided out of the city by the angels with only his two daughters and his wife. The idea to treat God's visitor's with respect; and sodomy rape as a crime against man; are clear lessons to me. And this is the first time sodomy with another man is mentioned. (Genesis:19). Later in Leviticus we start to see the Mosaic laws clarified forbidding homosexuality - "You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination." (Leviticus 18:22) during a period between 1,445 BC and 1,443 BC. This biblical discussion is important regardless if a person is a believer or not as the books of the Old Testament establish civilized laws man has followed through the ages. As citizens though, we are members of the country and subject to the ideals, principles, and laws of our chosen country. Included in those ideals are equality, and our right to privacy. The only way a citizen can be free from the laws of the United States is to renounce citizenship. Yet even if citizenship is renounced the former citizen can be deported back to the United States and be held accountable to the laws of the United States. (Section 349(a)(5) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) (8 U.S.C. 1481(a)(5)).
As same-sex marriages are approved from state to state, and as the military contemplates same-sex relationships within the ranks, the federal courts will once again have to rule on the rights of individuals to engage in same-sex relationships. The last challenge in the U. S. Supreme Court was in 1986 where "the Court refused to construe the right of privacy to protect consensual homosexual activity by adults in their own homes. A 5 to 4 majority in Bowers v. Hardwick upheld a Georgia law that criminalized both homosexual and heterosexual sodomy." (Maltese, J. 2009). As individual states continue to legalize same-sex marriages and the military contemplates same-sex relationships by military members, this issue is bound to return to the Supreme Court as same-sex marriages conferred in one state demand equal treatment under marriage laws in states ban same-sex marriages. The military is just another facet to the argument facing a Supreme Court decision. The Supreme Court's decision will not be popular with at least one side of the polarized argument.
In a sense, our civil laws evolved from Mosaic laws to man-made laws and established principles and punishments far more liberal than Mosaic Law. Yet we as a country have not resolved how to separate our religious fundamental foundations in Mosaic laws from our fundamental Constitutional foundation of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The chasm between our religious foundations and Constitutional foundations are constantly in friction - especially with same-sex relationships.
We the people are a nation divided in debate over the issues but we need to be one nation supporting the laws and decisions our representatives reach during their deliberations. We may continue debate after a decision is reached, but as a nation we must be steadfast supporting the decision until the debate drives a change in policy. In this country, I have a voice - I can freely tell my local, state and federal elected officials my opinion on issues and try as best I can to sway their vote with my voice and vote. Prohibition is a great example of a righteous 18th Amendment overturned by a tolerant 21st Amendment thirteen years later. I disagreed with President Bush (41) on the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq as a reason for invading Iraq preferring to take relentless pursuit against Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan. Yet when the President Bush reached his decision - I fully supported the money spent to accomplish the mission. I as a citizen of the United States am as culpable for the decision made to invade Iraq as the President. I agreed with the 2003 tax cut to stimulate the economy and the 2011 expiration. I have disagreed with President Obama on expanding the war in Afghanistan yet I fully support this mission now the decision is made and I applaud his sobering comments about the staggering long-term cost and the timetable to assess the results against the stated objectives to determine how to proceed. Despite critical claims that a timetable tells the enemy too much information, the commitment of troops and spending coupled with increased cooperation from Afghanistan, Pakistan governments tells our terrorist enemies we are determined to "distupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and to prevent their return to either country in the future." (Obama, B. 2009, March 27)
The Economy and Unemployment
President Obama continues to be criticized about high unemployment rates stating that he is finally getting around to addressing high unemployment. Those rates were 7.6% and climbing when he took office January 20, 2009. Yet I found articles from Fox News criticizing President Obama's jobs plan in April 2009 - barely 100 days in office. (AP, 2009, April 7) The article discussed President Obama's claims about job savings and creation as opposed to the results and it discusses how the employment numbers are derived. So President Obama is not finally getting around to jobs, President Obama is continuing to work on this vexing issue that requires business to have the confidence in growth to hire for new positions to enable and sustain growth and increased productivity. Yet in the same vein, the critics blast the stimulus packages passed by both Bush and Obama to maintain jobs in the financial and auto industries. There is no doubt in my mind that the stimulus actions taken by Bush then Obama saved hundreds of thousands of jobs in both the financial and automotive industry. In fact, we know that for every one job in a manufacturing industry, there are four jobs in the supply chain for that industry, and five jobs in the community that support and host that industry. So the ripple effects of taking no action by both Bush and Obama would have been catastrophic. Colonel Jessup (Jack Nicholson) shouted "You can't handle the truth" when driven by Lieutenant Kaffee (Tom Cruise) who demanded "I want the truth" in the movie A Few Good Men. (1992, Sorkin & Reiner). We the people not only can't handle the truth about how bad it could have been had Bush and Obama not championed stimulus funding, but we the people could not handle or fathom the reality of inaction either. We are already screaming about the pain of the economy and unemployment and we avoided feeling the full effect with stimulus funding.
Economist generally agree that during war and recessions, government stimulus money softens the effects of recession and caution must be exercised to allow the stimulus time to work before government reduces money supply (increases interest rates to banks) to stymie rising inflation. Recession followed by inflation is expected. Stagflation as experience in the 1970's is an exception. Others critics implore President Obama to refrain from blaming past administrations for the current deficit levels. Yet you have to examine the sources or how did we arrived at the deficit in order to take action to corral further increases. The biggest contributors to the increase in the deficit in the last decade was the 2003 tax reduction championed by President Bush; Medicare Reform; off-budget spending – above base-line spending - to support the War in Iraq and Afghanistan; and the initial stimulus package to bail out the financial institutions. I supported those decisions. However 405 economists including 10 Nobel Prize Laureates cautioned the Bush administration against the tax cutting measure because of the deficit increasing nature of the tax cut. To be fair, Brian Ridell of the Heritage Institution wrote that the tax cuts did not increase the deficit in 2006, but the deficit increased because of above baseline spending. (Ridell, B. 2007, Jan 7). But, President Bush feeling the pressure of the 2002-2003 recession sought to stimulate the economy by increasing the dollars in individual Americans pockets. That tax cut is due to end in 2011. Will we the people have the courage to tell our Democrat and Republican Senators and Congressmen and the President that we want our taxes to increase? Shall we tell entitlement recipients to expect no cost of living increases and a reduction in benefits at a time when their ability to generate additional income is limited?
I am far from monetary wealth, but even I reaped the benefits from President Bush's tax cut through increased take home earnings and reduced capital gains and dividends taxes on my investments. But as conservatives like to lament about the tax-and-spend current administration and congress - the gains I enjoyed during the Bush administration are deficits our posterity will be paying 30 to 40 years in the future.
Ridell's article cited above is worth examining in respect to his argument that the Bush Tax cuts led to economic growth and 5 million jobs. He cites entitlement programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits due the retiring boomer generation have the largest impact on the deficit. Yet President Bush sought to reform Medicare with a 2,000 page legislation that cost tax payers $400 billion over ten years starting 2003. By the following budget year after enacting Medicare reform, the cost had balloned to $572 billion - and by fiscal year 2005, that cost had again tripled to $1.72 trillion. The impact to the senior population decreased prescription drug cost at the expense of growing debt - a debt current Republicans are declaring with indignation that we can not afford to pass on to our children and grandchildren.
President Bush claimed his administration and economic policies created 5 million jobs. Yet by May 11, 2009, the Bureau of Labor Management reported
Since the recession began in December 2007, payroll employment has fallen by 5.7 million.
(TED, 2009, May 11)
View the BLS Chart at this site http://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2009/may/wk2/art01.htm
3.82 million payroll jobs were lost between January 2008 and January 2009 during President Bush's final year in office. This could be the effects of a loosely regulated financial sector fueling a sub-prime housing industry as those two industries failed in 2007 leading to a collapsing domino effect across the financial and banking industry, housing industry, durable goods industries, and hamstrung consumer discretionary spending. It took 4 years for the Bush economic growth policies to burst. Are Americans ready to acknowledge that increased revenues (taxes) are required to pay the entitlement (Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid) that the boomer generation paid into to support preceding generations? Or should we tell the boomer generation to expect less benefit at a time when they do not have enough employable time to make a significant difference in their retirement savings.
We the people continue to live and expect a standard of living best expressed by Queen in their lyrics "I want it all, I want it now." We the people want jobs, health care reform, financial reform, energy reform, strong national defense, impenetrable boarder control, the end of illegal immigration yet we shudder if the cost requires taxing our earnings or decreasing entitlements or decreasing government funding in our districts. To resolve the contentious issues we face, we must respect individual opinions as a right to free speech. And we must respect the decisions of our elected representatives as if they were our own decisions. Our individual voices can continue the debate and make change but until the change is made we must continue to abide with the current laws and regulations. If we as Americans want it all and want it now, we better be willing to listen and discuss with respect and civil behavior to strive to reach decisions that emulate the highest ideals of our Declaration of Independence, and Constitution. For programs and policies that require funding, we as Americans must be prepared live within our means and pay the taxes to support the programs or we must respectfully and civilly engage in the debate to pare and tailor the programs to the means we can afford.
AP (2009, April 7). Fact Check: Obama's Job Creation, Deficit Clams, Questionable. Retrieved January 22, 2010 from http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2009/04/30/fact-check-obamas-job-creation-deficit-claims-questionable/.
Maltese, J. U.S. Supreme Court: Homosexuality. Retrieved January 22, 2010 from Answers.com; http://www.answers.com/topic/homosexuality
May, B. (Writer) & Richards, D. & Queen (Producers). (1989). I Want it All. The Miracle (studio album). Capitol Records.
Obama, B. (2009, March 7). What's New in the Strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan. Retrieved January 22, 2010 from http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/Whats-New-in-the-Strategy-for-Afghanistan-and-Pakistan/).
Riddel, B. (2009, January 7); Ten Myths about the Bush Tax Cuts. Retrieved Jan 22, 2010 from http://www.heritage.org/Research/Taxes/bg2001.cfm )
Sorkin, A (Writer), & Reiner, R. (Director). (1992) A Few Good Men. Columbia Pictures.
TED: The Editor's Desk. (2009, May 11). Payroll employment in April 2009. Retrieved February 17, 2010 from http://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2009/may/wk2/art01.htm