Before I get into this, I want to ask a question. How many of you would say, "I'm not interested in politics?" How many come to read my blog and if it's about politics decide to check back another day? How many of you would say, if asked about healthcare, "I don't know, that's too boring for me"?
I hope the answer is none of you, but there are a great many people out there who tune politics out. I know. Until this point last year, I was one of them. Until this point last year (maybe a couple of months earlier), I was going to vote Democrat (in full disclosure, I voted Democrat in both 2000 and 2004 - yup, that's right, I never voted for George W. Bush, just so you know). I haven't voted Republican since Clinton's second term. If you're sensing a pattern - that I have never voted for a winning President - ding, ding, ding. Tell 'em what they've won, Johnny!
My point is here, that I did not realize, for far too long, that politics affects every aspect of my life. Taxes, the economy, healthcare, cap and trade, immigration, education, national security - all these things have a direct effect on my freedom and, more importantly, the freedom and well-being of my children. I never thought about this before. Maybe it took owning a house and having a children...or, maybe it took the threat of losing our liberty to ever-expanding government, but either way, I was awakened and I hope, if you are like I was, you have been too. If my blog has or can assist in that in any way, I am happy, but I encourage you to not sit idly by. Take the time to read from various sources. Don't dismiss Fox News because it's conservative or the New York Times because it's liberal. Pay attention to both. Make your own decisions. I read Time magazine, read New York Times articles and Op-Eds, listen to conservative talk radio, watch network news, watch Fox News. I am getting information from both sides and I have made my decisions based on what appears to be logical, in my mind. I hope you'll do the same.
As an example, let's talk about the economy. What could directly affect your life more?
Despite Newsweek declaring the recession over and Obama and his flunkies telling you how they've rescued the economy, things still suck. People are struggling all over. My wife just went shopping for bridesmaid dresses with my sister, who is to be married next October. There was a time when my wife would go out and have to spend a ton of money on a dress she'd never wear again (thank God tuxedos are rented as I was in 7 weddings in two years, best man 3 times - and one of those weddings was my own..). At least now, with the economy, the goal is to find a cheap bridesmaid dress (in price, not quality because nobody needs a bridesmaid dress just falling apart on the dance floor. ....well, I guess it depends on the bridesmaid...Anyway...)
Now I know some of you are saying, "Are you really talking about bridesmaid dresses?" And, now that you mention it, I'm saying that too...but the point is that people are cutting back. Why? Because people around the country would be hard pressed to tell you what part of the economy they feel has been rescued. Have stocks rebounded a bit? Sure. And that's good, but what people want are jobs. Now, bolstered by the return to work of some auto workers and parts manufactureres after the GM and Chrysler restructuring (though GM may need to get rid of some more jobs after some money savings programs fell short of expectations according to Bloomberg), the jobless rate actually dropped to 9.4% from 9.5%. David Leonhardt of the New York Times also explains that a large number of people have stopped bothering to look for work, so therefore were ineligible to be counted. Economists still seem to feel that the jobless rate will surpass 10% in early 2010.
What does this all mean? Well, don't go jumping on the stimulus rah-rah train just yet. Only 10% of that has even been spent and much of it did not go to job creation. The cyclical nature of the economy, a cycle that would have occurred without a trillion dollars in spending, seems to be playing a good part here.
So, as predictable as always, Obama is out in full force with his "Woe is me" whining about what he inherited from Bush. While that may be true - simply because Bush was in office - that this economic crisis was the fault of the evil Bush is a false claim. Nor was it the evil Democrats. Nor was it the evil bankers and CEOs. More accurately, it was all of them (a great article from factcheck.org). Bush, as I mentioned in yesterday's blog, is just an easy target and a face to an enemy.
Frankly, bad situation or not, I look for more out of my President than whining. Bush mentioned early on in his Presidency that he had inherited a recession from Clinton and he was excoriated by the media (even after revised economic data was released that seemed to prove him right), yet here we are, 6 months into Obama's Presidency and it's all Obama's got.
"Don't forget who put us here!"
"8 Years of failed policies..."
"The economic crisis I inherited from my predecessor..."
"I was given a $1.5 Trillion dollar bill and am expected to pay it off in 6 months..."
As to the last one, no Mr. President, we didn't expect you to pay it off in 6 months, but we sure didn't expect you to quadruple it either. The fact is, people need to get back to work. Savings are running out, unemployment benefits are running out and now we're being told to expect a 'jobless recovery' - that it could take years before the jobs start to return. That man or woman who is out of work, certainly doesn't feel that this constitutes a 'rescue'.
So, what to do when the economy is bad and people are cutting back on essentials like, oh, say...food? Spend more money!!
That's right! Spend a couple hundred million on new jets for members of Congress so they can get around the country! Yes, the same members of Congress who gave the auto executives a brow beating for flying to Washington, D.C. Or, spend a few trillion on a bad healthcare reform plan. No? Increase taxes to pay for it? Increase taxes on Americans for using electricity? Raise taxes on the middle class (don't be so quick to accept the White House's claim that that won't happen, as this article points out). Hmm. Maybe I just don't have any ideas.
Either way, I'm angry and, oddly, that anger wasn't manufactured or paid for by an insurance company. And to top it all off, John Hughes died, so I'm really angry! That man defined a generation - Ferris Bueler, 16 Candles, Pretty in Pink, Say Anything, the Vacation movies, Weird Science, Some Kind of Wonderful. I'm willing to forgive him Flubber. He even inspired the journey of Jay and Silent Bob in Kevin Smith's Dogma.
What justice is there in this world when a man like that dies, and a woman like Nancy Pelosi will exist forever, sleeping by night and feeding by day on the blood of innocents? Oh, the humanity.
Rest in Peace, John Hughes. Rest in Peace. And to all my readers, stay vigilant.
It's what John Hughes would have wanted.
J.E. Braun is the author of Paranoia, a 9/11 survivor's tale. Jim survived 9/11 but his life did not. Follow one man's journey through post-traumatic stress as he attempts to rediscover what once made life worth living. 10% of profits will be donated to the Twin Towers Orphan Fund (www.ttof.org). For more information, visit www.jebraun.com.