Friday, August 10, 2012

Stick With the Facts, They Are Enough

While I'm no supporter of President Obama, never voted for him the first time and won't vote for him this time either, I must also declare I cannot condone falsehoods spread about him or the First Lady which are out right fabrications, lies and dirty politics. I don't appreciate it when it is done by those on any side of the political spectrum, be it coming from the right, left or middle.

Talking about the issues is one thing, character assassination is quite another.

Two particular items come to mind. Both have been a part of the anti-Obama campaign for some time now and have made the rounds on the internet with some impact. One is the image of the Obamas during a ceremony in which they are pictured with their left hands over their hearts. It is a mirror image craftily done by a faker. The other is the video of Michelle Obama supposedly saying "All this for a damned flag." I even fell for that one for a while until I did some serious checking into its validity. While it is indeterminate what she said to the President, the fact is no professional lip readers were ever hired to verify she said that. Professional lip readers have officially stated that it is nearly impossible to determine what the First Lady actually said, but from her and the President's reaction it was probably a personal moment between the two and not related to the ceremony that was taking place.

As a professional blogger and retired news editor I know the importance of getting the facts and story straight. On this site I try generally to keep to the policies coming out of Washington D.C. and State houses while letting the sewer dwellers play in the character assassination game. I may not like Obama's policies and some of the actions he has taken or his genuinely European socialist ideas, but to attack him or anyone else as a human being, especially with lies simply destroys any credibility of the accusing person, website, paper or magazine doing so, and it makes the job of those of us out there trying to mete out the facts a whole lot harder. Does that mean a blogger or journalist can't express their personal opinions? Of course not. That is how blogging and the editorial page was born. But, we must never mistake personal views for news fact and I'm afraid that since the introduction of the internet and 24hr cable news stations that thinly veiled line has been crossed to the point of blurring the two into one media.

Since this situation isn't likely to change anytime soon then it is left up to the intellect of the reader, listener or viewer to be able to distinguish fact from hype, personal view from actual news and expressions of distaste over policy versus character assassination. It will require the people to do their own homework to seek out the facts of any situation instead of relying on personal trust in the article, blog or news feature. I can only hope we are up to that kind of scrutiny.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Share the Wealth and Share the Burden

There are many, especially those on the far left of the political spectrum, who simply do not understand how the middle class can support a plan that would allow the rich and big corporations to pay less in taxes than they currently do. They view the middle class as "broke, white people" and completely ignorant of their situation believing that they have somehow been duped by the rich into thinking that they are tied to the hip with the success and failure of these "fat cats."

What some of my friends on the left fail to understand is that most in the middle class are not broke or going broke, and while the majority are white, those numbers are beginning to change with the so-called middle class now being populated by more and more people of color, particularly blacks, latinos and asian Americans. The other thing not understood well by these misguided souls on the left is that not only is the middle class's future fortunes linked to the success or failure of the very rich and big corporations, but so are all supposed classes of Americans, including that of the United States government complex. The old adage is true - "So goes the fortunes of the wealthy elite, so goes the fortunes of the country."

Some believe that the way to level the playing field is to tax the rich and large corporations even more. This is the case even though the individual rich, those having an income of $1 million dollars per year or more, and big companies, those making billions of dollars in revenue are already carrying most of the water for the nation to the tune of between 78% to 85% of the current tax burden, while a staggering 90% of Americans, even many working lower income and middle class Americans are paying no taxes at all. The remainder of the middle class, generally those making between $70 and $100 thousand a year, are stuck with the huge remaining 10% to 15% of the taxes collected.

If those on the left and right, as well as our own Congress and President were really serious about leveling the tax playing field they would get their spending under control and perhaps should consider this concept:

I believe that all working people, regardless of their status in society should be paying into their share of the tax burden. That is why I prefer a level playing field of a flat tax of no more than 15% for individuals and companies, remove all loopholes for individuals and corporations, remove all tax incentives and refunds, allow absolutely no deductions of any kind for any reason, remove tax exempt status from all entities, including religious and charitable organizations. If you make a dollar you pay 15% no matter who you are. If you are unfortunate enough to not have employment and are not making a taxable wage then you share the burden by doing a certain number of hours of volunteer services for your area where it is deemed to be needed the most for that particular community.

Enough of these class distinctions. It has been part of the reason for the ruin of every great society in history and it is happening in this society as well. If, as our founders proclaimed, we are all truly created equal then we all need to be treated equally and share the burden of society equally as well.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Curiosity Lands Safely On Mars

Curiosity lands successfully and perfectly on Mars' surface in Gale Canyon. Congratulations NASA and all the wonderful creative people at JPL.

Here are the first pictures the rover took after touchdown:

Both were taken with the rover's fisheye camera, the first camera to deploy after its safe landing. The normal camera will kick in likely by tomorrow after Curiosity begins receiving it's first commands and marching orders from JPL.

The first image verifies a smooth and safe landing and shows one of the massive wheels on the rover. The second picture reveals the shadow of Curiosity on the Mars surface as it is reflected by the late afternoon sun.

Now the real work begins as Curiosity begins its planned two year mission to discover if Mars was ever conducive for supporting life and if life could be maintained on the Red Planet for future trips by human astronauts.

The 1000 pound rover is the largest craft ever landed on a planetary surface beyond Earth and is a virtual motorized laboratory capable of doing a plethora of experiments that neither its much smaller cousins, Spirit and Opportunity were designed for. It is a geological lab, a chemistry lab, a photo lab and a radiation monitoring lab, as well as having the ability to perform a whole array of other tests.

Mars now has several devices residing on its surface, all having been placed there by NASA over the last few decades. The United States is the only country to have achieved this phenomenal success story.

Every citizen of America, and the entire world, can be very proud of this accomplishment and with great happiness call Curiosity Earth's Rover.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Rome is Burning. "FORE!"

We've all heard or read of the mythical story of how Nero fiddled while Rome burned. There was nothing mythical about the fire that devastated nearly all of Rome's old quarter but the part about Caesar playing his fiddle in gleeful delight is a fanciful tale.

However, there is a modern day equivalent in which none of its story is myth.

In today's 21st Century Rome, also known as The United States of America, a modern Caesar-wannabe by the name of Barack Obama has been the overseer and person partly responsible for the horrendous fire of joblessness and economic debt that is consuming the life-giving oxygen of growth, stability and morale of the nation.

Unlike his counter-part in Rome this leader isn't mythically playing the fiddle as his nation burns but is literally playing golf.

On Saturday, August 4, 2012, to celebrate his 51st birthday, Mr. Obama played his 104th round of golf in just under four years in office as President of the United States. While his nation and empire crumbles around his feet of clay this President's highest ambition is to score a hole-in-one.

The most prolific golfing President in American history was Dwight D. Eisenhower. In his entire eight years as President he hit the links a total of 88 times. He served during a time of financial prosperity and relative world peace and stability. Mr. Obama has been in office less than four years, rules a nation in near economic collapse, oversees an economy and housing market in decline second only to the Great Depression for its volatility, and is leader of the free world at a time of multifple wars and calamity and yet he somehow finds the time to vigorously campaign for a second term and get in a staggering, unprecedented, grand total of 104 rounds of golf.

Perhaps that helps explain some of the reasons why the United States still finds itself in such a sorry state of affairs after nearly four years of this man at the helm.

I think it's time for a change. Hopefully, a non-golfer.