Monday, September 26, 2011

Better than a Super-Mom?

Russia has an interesting way of doing politics. Somehow or other, Vladimir Putin will be switching places with their President Dimitri Medvedev next year (Putin would probably still be president now rather than prime minister but for their constitution's banning a president from serving more than two consecutive terms). Sure, they'll have an election, but we all know who will win.

And I think a I know what did the trick.

Take a look at some of these photos recently published by
The Atlantic in Ann Taylor's article "Vladimir Putin--Action Man" (you should see the whole thing). What Russian wouldn't want this guy for president?

Seriously? I mean, this guy is like Buckaroo Bonzai! Can he do brain surgery on Mars, too?

I don't know, but I'm saying whoever his publicists are, maybe Mitt should give them a call. I'd love to see our future President Romney flying the space shuttle and curing cancer and saving the white rhinos from a satellite falling from the sky. Only, Mitt would do it all without a hair out of place.

Hey, if anyone can do it, Mitt can! That's what the American spirit is all about!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Whose Fair Share?

I grew up with three brothers and five sisters. I had a fantastic childhood. I have wonderful parents who treated their children kindly and encouraged us to reach our fullest potential. Each of us was important to them. They taught us to serve others and to work hard. We all pulled our own weight (and made sure everyone else did, too). If the boys had to mow the lawn and weed the garden so did the girls. If the girls had to make dinner and clean the kitchen so did the boys. We were always reminded of the Golden Rule.

But there was a phrase repeated more than occasionally, and I hear it more often than I'd like with my own children: "That's not fair!"

And now we hear President Obama touting the same sentiment when it comes to taxes. He was speaking recently in Ohio on his new jobs bill saying the poor shouldn't have to pay as high of taxes as the rich . "That's not fair. It's not right."

He wants the rich to “pay their fair share” Well, who is determining what’s fair, and what the share is? Does everyone get an equal share? No.

True, everyone has the same right to use streets and bridges and parks, everyone should benefit from firefighters and have equal opportunity to receive a speeding ticket (unless you drive a red sports car).

But is it possible some people are getting FAR more in their “fair share” from the government, and not paying much for it? While those who are paying 29% taxes are paying for food stamps, subsidized housing, Medicaid, even abortions, those high-income/high tax-paying people aren't using those benefits (there are a few exceptions—some people, like the Obamas live in government housing, use government transportation, and loads of public safety resources).

So, to say that because a person is “rich” that person’s “fair share” should be so much higher than someone who does not make a lot of money, but still uses just as much, if not much, much more of the resources, doesn’t sound so “fair.”

Now, I’m all for compassion and being my brother’s keeper, but that’s something that should come from one’s heart, not from one’s tax code. If we really wanted to have everyone pay their fair share we would have a flat tax--like everyone pays 10%.

Let’s not call it “fair share.” Let’s just call it what it is—someone’s idea of how much different income brackets should pay in taxes and what those taxes should pay for. Figuring all this out can get pretty ugly, so let's also remember that rule we all learned as kids: "Play fair" or at least "Play nice."

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Remembering September 12

For most of us September 11, 2001 is a date that changed our lives. But for my oldest son, the date that changed his four-year-old life was one week before—the day his “B” disappeared.

“B” was his little green security blanket. We had brought him home from the hospital wrapped in it, and he’d been attached to it ever since. Now it was gone.

We searched high and low, then re-searched again and again. He was certain someone had stolen “B”. We then began the search for the replacement. Nothing.

“I’ll never be able to go to sleep again,” he said and cried and cried. I cried too. I felt his anxiety as I imagined the sleepless nights. And perhaps even worse was the fact that in less than two weeks we would be getting on a plane and flying to our new home in London. I wasn’t sure either of us would make that nine hour flight without his “B.”

Just when I was losing hope, he pulled out his little, blue fleece jacket from the suitcase. “This smells like ‘B,’” he said. He wrapped a sleeve around his hand, pulled it across his face and fell asleep. He’d found security once again , and I’d found relief. At least temporarily.

On the one-week anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the United States my family got ready to begin our trans-Atlantic flight. I’ll admit I was more than just a little nervous. I don’t like to fly under the best conditions, but when passenger planes had just been used as weapons, I was feeling scared. It felt as if our nation’s security blanket had been taken, and we were still crying ourselves to sleep over it.

I put on a brave face. Next to me my son had his little blue jacket. He was set. I wished for a security blanket of my own. I watched him all comfortable in his seat, testing out his tray table. I just wanted to lean over and ask, “Can I borrow a sleeve?”

Now, ten years after “9/11,” it’s still difficult to think back to that terrible day. But the day I do like to remember is September 12. That was the day the healing began in full force. A blanket of hope was already wrapping our nation, woven with the threads of friendship and faith, of courage and kindness. Whether it was firefighters risking their lives or strangers passing out shoes and peanut butter sandwiches, we were bound together with the indomitable American spirit of strength and determination. That’s what makes us who we are.

We still stand now, not only the greatest nation on earth, but also the greatest hope for the world. I love this verse of our national anthem:

Then conquer we must

When our cause it is just

And this be our motto

“In God is our trust.”

May that spirit live on forever in America.

Monday, September 12, 2011

It's a Bird...It's a Plane...No, it's the Super-Committee!

I happen to love old Doris Day movies. I love her perfect yellow hair and pristine voice, and the wholesome, down-home characters she usually played (I find her “scandalous” characters endearing, too).

Last week our President made me think about Doris’ movie “Lover Come Back” with Rock Hudson. If I remember correctly, in the show Doris Day and Rock Hudson are competing ad executives. Somehow they both end up putting together big campaigns for a product called VIP. The only problem is, VIP does not exist! So, in order to avoid bigger trouble, Rock Hudson hires a scientist to create a product he can name VIP. The product turns out to be an after-dinner mint with the effects of a triple-martini. Well, in true Doris Day movie fashion, Doris ends up marrying Rock, and they all live happily ever after.

So, what does this have to do with President Obama? Apparently he gave a very stirring speech on his new jobs bill (I missed it, due to a little black-out in our area, but more on that another time). As I read through the text of the speech, I was impressed with much of the language. I could imagine that listening to it may have been inspiring—like a pep rally.

However, reading it without the passion and drama, the words were just that—words. And I think I missed something. He seemed to say over and over, “Pass this bill now.” But I’m not quite sure what that bill is exactly. The president said his deficit-reduction proposal will include spending cuts, modifications to Medicare and Medicaid, and tax increases for the wealthy and big corporations. But not a whole lot of specifics. He will send his jobs package to Congress soon. He said that the changes needed to pay for the effort would be folded into a broader attempt already underway to cut federal budget deficits. But still, pass this bill NOW.

So, let’s see if I get this—he’s started this great ad campaign for VIP, I mean a jobs bill, and he wants it passed NOW. So all that’s left to do is actually invent VIP bill. And who’s going to do that?

I think we’re seeing more and more clearly that the task for at least figuring out how to pay for his jobs plan will fall on the shoulders of the new special congressional Super Committee.

Obama said, “The agreement we passed in July will cut government spending by about $1 trillion over the next ten years. It also charges this Congress to come up with an additional $1.5 trillion in savings by Christmas. Tonight, I’m asking you to increase that amount so that it covers the full cost of the American Jobs Act.” Then he said that a week from Monday [today] he’ll release the more ambitious deficit plan—a plan that will not only cover the cost of this jobs bill, but stabilize our debt in the long run (by the way, shouldn’t he have done that a long time ago?).

So, he has a few more hours to come up with what VIP actually is.

But in the mean time, and I’m checking again to see if I’m still following—Obama has a plan requiring half a trillion dollars, which he is expecting Congress to find a way to pay for. When they argued for weeks over a few billion dollars this summer, Congress, or more specifically, the Super-Committee, is now expected to find the $1.5 trillion savings already expected, along with an additional $450 billion to cover this bill.

That super committee is going to not only have to be super heroes, but miracle workers.

I don’t know—maybe the President had a few too many VIP mints before he presented this “plan.” Unfortunately this isn’t a Doris Day movie where everyone works things out after a few funny misunderstandings, and they all live happily ever after. Should we really pass this bill now? I’d say wait, until we see what VIP really is before we pass this bill.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Perry's All Hat and No Cattle

In the words of my Texan husband, Rick Perry is “All hat and no cattle” when it comes to presidential substance. Well, I admit I’ve never heard that particular saying, but I think it “fits better than J R Ewing’s cowboy hat.” Ok—I’m not from Texas, so I’m not practiced in the art of Texan phraseology, but you get what I mean, especially if you watched the GOP presidential debate this week.

Perry made his debut at the Reagan presidential library, and he did an ok job. The only problem is that we don’t want an ok president. We want an outstanding president.

If we wanted a president with not much substance who could utter practiced responses, well, Perry would be our choice. If we wanted someone who could side-step questions and turn issues into talking points, Perry would be the one. He'd be ok.

If we want a genuine, super-intelligent, future-focused president who not only sounds and looks presidential, but thinks presidentially, Mitt Romney is our man. If we want concrete plans, solid understanding, and clear vision, we want Mitt Romney. If we want someone who knows what America needs and how to accomplish it, we want Mitt Romney. If we want an outstanding president, we want Mitt Romney.

As my Texan husband might say, Mitt Romney has got both "the hat and the cattle." He's clearly the outstanding choice.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Good News for the future

In the upcoming GOP debate and also the President’s speech, I’m predicting we will hear a great deal of rhetoric about the burdens future generations will inherit because of the mistakes we have made. We already hear a lot about how the problems our nation faces are just going to be put on the backs of our children.

Well, I for one have great confidence in my children’s generation. Looking at even just what my oldest son and his friends do, I am blown away. They get themselves up at 5:15 am every morning to attend seminary class before school. They go to honors classes and do their homework without being asked. They participate in school activities and sports, and still make time for Boy Scouts and service and church. They’re not even 15 years-old! They are kind and smart and brave, not to mention wise. They know the importance of learning from the past (including studying history) and planning for the future.

I know I’m biased because I have such wonderful and amazing children. But if my kids represent even a little bit of what the future holds, then America will be in great hands!

(The handsome one in back with the suit and green tie is my son--yep, that's the face of the future--looks pretty good, doesn't it!)

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Talk of the Town

Should I be excited next week to hear the President’s plan for job creation? I’m trying, but I just can’t get up the enthusiasm. I’m just not sure I can trust him or even take him seriously.

Not too long ago he recommended that we spend money now to stimulate the economy, then start living within our means. At a very difficult economical time in our nation, he chose to take a long and less-than-frugal vacation to Martha’s Vineyard. I’m not saying he shouldn’t have vacations, but were the timing and the location wise? It appears the Blue Heron Farm where the Obamas stayed rents for around $50,000/week. Of course, that’s just the house. Then there are the helicopters, planes, entertainment, food, staff, secret service, and golf to throw in to the cost. I suppose they are vacationing as much as they can to hold up the “spend now” part of his advice. But if I’m helping to foot those bills as a taxpayer, well, that isn’t within my means.

Recently President Obama admonished the car companies to stop building trucks and SUV’s and just make small cars to save fuel. But then, once again, he took Air Force One on vacation and sent his family a couple of hours ahead of him on a separate jet, not to mention all the vehicles in the motorcades on the ground (and I don’t think any of those vehicles is a Prius).

The President promised to get serious about reducing debt and deficit. Since the start of his presidency the national debt has increased by $3.5 trillion. Currently the national debt is over $14.2 TRILLION.

He said the Administration’s stimulus package would keep unemployment under 8%. It hasn’t been that low his entire presidency.

He said he would have the troops out of Iraq within 16 months. Still there.

Obamacare—that word says it all.

Earlier this year he called for more civil and honest discourse—I’m still waiting for that from him, but I’m not holding my breath for Thursday night. In fact, with cub scouts, two soccer practices, and homework, I’m guessing I’ll be lucky to catch a breath at all that night.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Pride or Ploy?

Last night I had a bit of a calendar crisis—I needed to pick up one child before heading to my first back-to-school night, which ended at the same time another child’s soccer practice began, which overlapped with my second back-to-school night, which all hit right at dinner time and the time my husband was leaving on a cross-country trip. Trying to deal with hungry kids, picking-up, sports, teachers, packing and saying good-bye to my husband for the entire holiday weekend—alone, was a bit crazy. I can’t keep track of everything! I need a secretary!

But not one from the same agency as the President got his.

Now, I fully appreciate how tough it is to keep a schedule and try to fit everything in for everyone. But I‘m just trying to run our household, not our nation. I’m not the President.

Who’s running his schedule? Who originally planned the President’s speech for the same night as the Republican debate? Was this a political ploy or just plain pride? Or maybe it was door number three—pure and simple obliviousness?

If it was a political ploy, maybe trying to make the Republicans look unreasonable or partisan, well that pot just called the kettle black. Asking the republicans to just set the DVR for the GOP debate (and the debut of Perry) isn’t a very big step toward trying to smooth over bi-partisan squabble. I'd say that plan back-fired.

Maybe it was just pride. Maybe the President really believed that Americans, including the Republican leaders would rather watch his speech (trying to convince us that this time his plans are really going to work), rather than watch a lively political debate.

Perhaps we should give our President the benefit of the doubt and say it was all just a coincidence, that he really had no idea there was something else going on that night, too. In which case, we just see again that he just doesn’t have his finger on the pulse of what’s happening in this country.

But, you know, there is still another possibility—maybe President Obama didn’t actually want as many people to tune in to his speech. Maybe he’s afraid his ideas are just no good. Hmmmm…

Well, the switch has been made. Rather than be up against Republicans battling it out on cable, President Obama will be up against the NFL. And you can bet that if he doesn’t finish up before kick-off, that ball won’t be the only thing getting kicked around.