Posts tagged ‘Health’

02/23/2012

Republican Debate in Arizona (2-22-12)

WAR: Paul correctly said a “pre-emptive war” is a “war of aggression.” We have been fighting offensive, not defensive wars. If we go to war against Iran, Paul said, it should be done properly, by first asking Congress for a Declaration of War. Gingrich foolishly said there are moments when you engage in pre-emptive war (also known as illegal aggression under international law).

DEFENSE: Paul predicted the Draft would be brought back, because we are in way over our heads. He said foreign aid ends up helping our enemies. Santorum thinks Defense Spending takes a smaller portion of the budget than in the past, and he would not cut it. Romney accused Obama of shrinking the Navy, Air Force, and active-duty personnel by 50,000 to 100,000. He would instead add ships, planes, and personnel by 100,000. He responded to Santorum’s problem with women in the military, saying they have the capacity to serve in responsible positions.

MIDEAST/SYRIA/PAKISTAN: Paul said Al Qaida is bankrupting us as they bogged us down in the Mideast, where we have spent 4 trillion in the last 10 years. We don’t have money for another war in Syria, he said. Santorum thinks Syria is a puppet of Iran. Romney said Syria shadows Lebanon, and threatens Israel. He wants the Alawites in Syria to abandon Assad. He is also concerned with Pakistan’s nuclear weapons.

IRAN: Paul said we don’t know if Iran has a nuclear weapon, but they cannot possibly attack anyone, because we have 45 bases, plus submarines, all around their country. All we are doing is making them feel threatened, and encouraging them to get a bomb. Sanctions are already backfiring, he said, because they cause Iranians to rally behind their leaders. We don’t have money for another war in Iran, Paul said. Gingrich accused Ahmadinejad of being a dictator, of denying the Holocaust, of wanting to push the U.S. out of the Mideast, and eliminate Israel from the face of the map. Romney wants crippling sanctions against Iran. He actually believes if Iran obtains fissile material, they will give it to Hezbollah and Hamas, who will take it into Latin America, where they will “potentially” bring it across the U.S. border, and then detonate “dirty bombs.” He thinks Obama told Israel not to take any action.

LATIN AMERICA: Romney thinks Hezbollah is operating in Latin America. He noted Northern Mexico is a problem.

IMMIGRATION: Paul wants us to forget about the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, and deal with our own. We need to reward legal immigration, he said. He thinks the welfare state causes immigrants to cross over for benefits. Romney enabled his state police to take them out by enforcing illegal immigration laws. He fought for English emersion classes in schools. He said since e-verify allows employers to know who is here legally, illegals have dropped by 14%. Santorum would create a loophole in e-verify, by not requiring homeowners to use it. Gingrich said the failure to control our border is a failure of will. He wants a President who works with governors, not sues them. He said the fence between San Diego and Tijuana worked, even though it is in a densely-populated area. The further the fence was extended, the fewer crossed into California. He would move half the Dept of Homeland Security to border states to get the fencing done. He voted for a employer-sanction law in 1986, signed by Reagan, which was to have solved the immigration problem. He said people who do business in Mexico, do not want the border closed.

ENERGY: Gingrich does not want American Presidents to have to bow to Saudi Kings over energy. He believes Iran is partly responsible for what is going on at the gas pump, as one of every five barrels of oil goes through the Straits of Hormuz. We should get into the position where we could say we do not care what the Mideast does. If we opened up federal lands and offshore areas for development, Gingrich said, and replaced the EPA, the government would realize 16 to 18 trillion in royalties, and gas prices would drop to $2.50 per gallon.

BANKS: Romney said: “I didn’t want to save Wall Street banks.” He was worried the entire currency system would go down.

AUTO: Paul said the government should not be in the business of supporting auto labor contracts. He reminded the audience Santorum opposed the auto bailout. Santorum said he helped the airline industry after 911, because the government shut them down. He said Romney is not principled, as he was for the Wall Street bailout, but against helping Detroit auto workers. Romney admitted he wanted the auto companies to go through a “managed” bankruptcy, like the airlines did, to shed excessive costs imposed by the UAW. He took a contradictory position however saying: “No way would we allow the auto industry in America to totally implode and disappear.” Gingrich agreed a managed bankruptcy would have been best for the auto industry.

HOUSING: Paul said the government should not bail out housing.

HEALTH: Gingrich said when the government becomes the central provider of services, they inevitably move towards tyranny, as they force people to do things. Santorum promised to target Medicare for budget cuts. He pledged to repeal Obamacare. He said he always opposed Title X funds, but pushed abstinence-based program spending under Title XX. He accused the Mass health law of being the model for Obamacare. Romney said states have the right under the 10th Amendment to do what he did in Mass. He would repeal Obamacare, because he doesn’t think the federal government should cut Medicare by 500 billion.

EDUCATION: Paul said the Constitution gives the federal government no power in education. He said Santorum is a fake, because he votes for No Child Left Behind, but now he wants to get rid of it. Santorum said he is a home schooling father of seven children. When he voted for No Child Left Behind, it was a mistake, and he now thinks the federal government should get out of education. Romney agreed children should be tested in math and English before they graduate. Gingrich would shrink the federal Dept of Education down to nothing but research. He thinks teachers unions only care about protecting bad teachers.

SOCIAL SECURITY: Santorum said we need to “deal with” Social Security. He said “all” the seniors in Pennsylvania rely on it, because the rich ones moved to Florida and Arizona.

WELFARE: Santorum said poverty in single-parent households is five times greater than two-parent homes. His solution is to go after food stamps (to make sure hungry people go without). Romney would block grant Medicare, housing vouchers, and food stamps to the states.

GOVERNMENT: Romney would link government pay to private sector pay. Gingrich would repeal 130-year-old civil service laws.

BUDGET/DEBT/TAXES: Santorum said he was rated most fiscally conservative in his 12 years in the Senate. He explained earmarking is abused, and would oppose their use as President. We cannot default on the Debt Ceiling, he added. He said Romney is now suggesting raising taxes on the top 1 percent. Romney said the earmark process is broken, and he would ban it, because it opens the door to excessive spending. He supports a line-item veto to deal with earmarks. He would ask if a program justifies borrowing from China to pay for it. He claimed he balanced his state budget all four years. Santorum said the only reason Romney balanced his budget was his state constitution required it. Gingrich wants a balanced budget. He would eliminate capital gains taxes on more than just those earning less than $200,000. Paul said he never voted for a budget deficit, or an increase the National Debt. He said we pay gas taxes into a trust fund, and should get our fair share, but they spend it overseas.

CONSTITUTION: Paul said he is the defender of the Constitution and liberty, and his platform is the road to peace and prosperity. The Constitution does not provide “women’s rights or men’s rights,” There are no group rights. He said we take an oath to our office, not to a political party to vote the way they want.

RELIGION: Romney alleged we have never seen attacks like these against religious conscience, freedom, and tolerance.

ABORTION/CONTRACEPTION: Paul said the government should not spend money on abstinence. Pills don’t cause immorality, people do. Romney alleged Obama was trying to require Catholics to provide birth control, sterilization, and morning-after pills. He said he stood on the side of life, when his legislature refused to define it as starting at conception. He vetoed a bill regarding embryo farming and cloning. He said liberals go crazy over teaching abstinence. He denied requiring Catholic hospitals to provide morning after pills. He said the Mass. health law did not require contraceptive coverage. He said Santorum opposed contraceptives, but voted for Title X. Gingrich claimed state senator Obama voted to protect doctors who killed babies who survived abortions. He wants Planned Parenthood to get nothing. Santorum said, if elected, he would talk about the “dangers of contraception.” He illogically added we have a problem of children born out of wedlock. He said this doesn’t mean he wants a government program to fix it.

ADOPTION: Romney sided with Catholic adoption agencies regarding their preference for placement in homes with a man and a woman. He wanted the Catholic Church to stay in the adoption business, as they were responsible for half of them in Mass.

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01/19/2012

Republican Debate: S. Carolina (1-16-12)

DEFENSE SPENDING: When Ron Paul was asked if his policies would eliminate military jobs in South Carolina, he said he wants to cut spending overseas. Spending 1 billion on an embassy in Iraq, he said, is not defense, it is waste. He would follow Eisenhower’s admonition about the military-industrial complex, as he said, we don’t need 900 bases in 130 countries. Romney wants a military so strong no one would test it. He apparently believes our navy is now smaller than it was in 1917, and our air force is smaller than it was in 1947. (Does he really think this?)

FOREIGN POLICY: We should declare war before getting into one, Paul lectured. We no longer declare war. We now use the doctrine of “pre-emptive war” to start them. We don’ t even have enemies. We bomb countries and then wonder why they get upset with us. Paul was booed as he said we wouldn’t like it if other countries did to us, what we do to them. Paul was also booed when he said we should follow the Golden Rule in foreign policy.

AFGHAN: Paul wants to bring our troops home. His support is from military personnel, sick and tired of war. We are not leaving Afghanistan, even though 80% of America wants out. When Paul was in the Air Force (1962-68), he served in the Afghan-Pakistan region, and remembers the Taliban were our allies, when we opposed the Russian intervention. He warned us not to mix the Taliban, who oppose foreign intervention, with al Qaeda, who seek to kill us. Romney would not negotiate with the Taliban, because he thinks they declared war on us. He said Obama’s announcement of a withdrawal, weakened our ability to negotiate.

IRAQ: Paul said we are still in Iraq. Romney believes incorrectly we “had to” go to war “in the case of Iraq.”

IRAN: Paul said regarding Iran, they are building up for another war we don’t need.

PAKISTAN: Paul believes we have a flawed Pakistan policy.

SYRIA: Santorum said Syria is a threat to Israel. He wants to bring about the removal of Assad, but opposes U.S. intervention.

TURKEY: Perry, who lived in Turkey while in the Air Force in the 1970s, made the ridiculous and stupid argument they have been taken over by Islamic terrorists. He said their membership in NATO should be re-evaluated, and their foreign aid should go to zero. He lumped Turkey in the same category with Iran and Syria, even though these countries are vastly different.

RULE OF LAW: Paul denied he opposed the operation that killed Osama bin Laden. He in fact voted for the authority to go after him, following 911. He asked: What is so bad about capturing people? We captured Saddam Hussein, tried him, and hung him. Adolf Eichmann was also captured, given a trial, and executed. Why didn’t we try to get information from bin Laden? Gingrich said we need to just kill America’s enemies, not capture them. Romney also said the right thing for Osama bin Laden was a bullet in the head. He said we have a right to detain al Qaeda in prison, as enemy combatants, and deny them due process of law. Paul said the Patriot Act eliminated the 4th Amendment. The Defense Appropriation Act allows us to take citizens under suspicion, and hold them indefinitely, without a lawyer, or the right of habeas corpus. 260 al Qaeda have been tried and convicted Paul said, and we don’t need to give up on the judicial system. Perry said terrorists who cut off heads and hang contractors from bridges, commit despicable acts, not the Marines who urinated on corpses.

IMMIGRATION: Romney opposes favoritism or special routes to citizenship. We have to stop the flood of illegal immigration, he said. Perry would secure the borders.

JOBS: Gingrich claims he and Reagan created 16 million jobs and he and Bill Clinton added another 11 million. He wants to find ways to help the poor learn how to get a job and someday own it.

UNEMPLOYMENT: Santorum thinks it’s wrong for the federal government to uproot state unemployment programs by extending benefits. Gingrich would connect UC to job training.

LABOR: Santorum admitted voting against a right-to-work law, saying he is from a non-right-to-work state. Perry claimed the NLRB is telling South Carolina, a right to work state, what to do.

FINANCE: Perry advocates repealing the Dodd-Frank financial regulations. Romney vowed if Europe has a financial crisis, he won’t give a blank check or go over there to save their banks.

VULTURE CAPITALISM: Gingrich asked Romney to respond to questions about taking money out of companies, walking off with profits, and letting them go bankrupt. Bain invested in over 100 companies, Romney said. Four created 120,000 jobs, while others lost jobs. He said Staples, Bright Horizons, the Sports Authority and a steel company in Indiana added 120,000 jobs. He was asked about American Pad and Paper, which after being purchased for 5 million, borrowed money, took 100 million in profit, and then went bankrupt. Romney said people who lost jobs were offered new ones in other plants. Perry accused Romney of picking a company apart in Georgetown, SC and causing people to lose jobs. Romney said the SC steel mill closed down, because of dumping from abroad.

ENERGY: Romney would take advantage of our natural resources and would use oil, coal, gas, and nuclear.

HOUSING: Perry thinks the federal government via Freddie and Fannie should get out of the housing market.

SOCIAL SECURITY: Romney would make no changes for those 55 or older, but he would add a year or two to the retirement age. Gingrich said Chile has a system that yields 2 to 3 times the government payment. He would make all Americans investors.

HEALTH: Romney wants a premium support program for Medicare. He would send Medicaid back to the states. He would repeal Obamacare.

BUDGET: Romney claimed to have balanced the Mass. budget every year. Perry wants a Balanced Budget Amendment.

TAXES: Romney claimed to have reduced taxes 19 times in Mass. He said tax rates are too high. He would reduce the top rate from 35% to 25% and eliminate taxes on interest, dividends and capital gains. When asked if he would release his tax returns, he said he had not planned on it, but maybe in April, if he becomes the nominee. Perry said the highest federal income tax rate should be 7%. He would have a flat tax of 20%, but would allow home mortgage, local taxes, and charitable deductions. He would get rid of capital gains taxes. Santorum wants just a 10% and a 28% rate. He would cut corporate taxes from 35% to 17.5%. Manufacturing would be treated differently, because they are in competition with the rest of the world. Gingrich wants a flat tax rate of 15%. Paul would reduce income taxes to zero.

DISCRIMINATION IN LEGAL SYSTEM: Paul said blacks are imprisoned at a rate four times greater than whites for victimless drug-related offenses.

VOTING RIGHTS: Santorum asked Romney if X-felons who have done their time should be allowed to vote. When Romney said he didn’t think former felons should be allowed to vote, Santorum reminded him that Mass allowed even those who still on probation or parole to vote, and asked Romeny why he did not try to change that law. Perry said South Carolina is at war with the federal government over their voter ID law.

CAMPAIGN ADS: Romney hoped super-PACs would run accurate ads. He favors getting rid of campaign finance laws. He wants campaigns to run their own ads, and take responsibility for them. He said he could not talk to Super-PACs running his ads.

EDUCATION: Gingrich said No Child Left Behind is a failure, as teachers teach to the test. He would eliminate Dept. of Education

ENTITLEMENTS: Romney thinks Obama is making the U.S. an entitlement society, another European social welfare state.

POVERTY/FOOD STAMPS: Santorum believes three things are need to avoid poverty: a job, high school diploma, and marriage before having children. He claims Obama no longer promotes marriage as a way of avoiding poverty. Gingrich claims 185 different federal bureaucracies deal with low income Americans. He thinks Obama wants to maximize dependency. He called him “the best food stamp president in American history.” When he was asked if it was insulting to suggest black kids should work as school janitors, and blacks should demand jobs, not food stamps, he said no, to wild applause from a white audience of prejudiced South Carolina Republicans. He believes NY pays their janitors an absurd amount of money. The crowd booed Juan Williams as he asked Gingrich if he was belittling racial minorities about a lack of a work ethic, and by saying Obama was a food stamp president. Gingrich said more people than ever went on food stamps during the past three years of the Obama administration.

RELIGION: Perry thinks Obama is at war against organized religion. He claimed the Catholic Church cannot receive federal funds, because of their position on abortion.

GAYS: Romney said he supports equal rights regardless of sexual orientation, but he has always opposed gay marriage.

GUNS: Gingrich accused Romney of signing a ban on assault weapons and of increasing fees on gun owners by 400%.  Romney said the Mass law was supported by both sides. Santorum said his support for trigger locks and background checks was backed by the NRA. He banned lawsuits against gun manufacturers, where injuries were sustained despite proper use of a firearm. Paul said we should not have national tort law, since these issues should be dealt with by the states. Santorum said lawsuits would have gone forward in liberal states, if there was not a national ban.

ABORTION: Gingrich opposes abortion and China’s one-child policy.

01/13/2012

Huntsman: Why New Hampshire Surge?

Former Rep. Utah Gov. John Huntsman, who lived overseas four times while serving Presidents Reagan, Bush Sr., Bush Jr., and most recently Obama, as U.S. Ambassador to China, finished third in the New Hampshire Republican primary, and is now a serious contender, primarily because of his foreign policy.

FOREIGN POLICY: Huntsman said we need to leave lingering Cold War thinking behind. While some UN members are anti-American, he said, the organization serves a useful peacekeeping and humanitarian purpose. We should not use water-boarding, as he labeled it torture. He said it diminishes our standing in the world as to human rights. We must balance individual liberties and security, and project America’s goodness.

AFGHANISTAN: Huntsman said we need an honest conversation about our sacrifices in Afghanistan the past 10 years. We listened to the generals in 1967, but that didn’t serve our interests. At the end of the day, he said, the President, not the generals, must decide as Commander-in-Chief. He made clear it’s time to leave Afghanistan, as only the Afghans can save their own country. While security is still lacking, it is time to come home, he said, since we achieved our objectives. We drove the Taliban out of Kabul, dismantled al-Qaeda, held elections in 2004, and killed Osama bin Laden. We should not do nation-building with 100,000 troops, as 10,000 to 15,000 troops, with Special Forces and drones can gather the intelligence we need.

IRAN: Huntsman predicted sanctions will not stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, because Russia and China are not going to play ball. In a contradictory way, he said our foreign policy in the Mideast is to insure Iran does not go nuclear.

PAKISTAN: Huntsman said only Pakistan can save Pakistan. His concern is they have 160 million people and 100 nuclear weapons. They have troubles along their border, and risk becoming a failed state, due to the Midrasha Movement. Expanded drones over Pakistan would serve our interests, he said.

ARAB SPRING—SYRIA—BAHRAIN–LIBYA: He said the American interest in Syria is called Israel. He would remind the world what it means to be our ally. He accused President Obama of missing the Persian Spring in Bahrain, saying he failed on that front. On the other hand, he felt we had no interest in Libya.

TRADE: If we apply trade sanctions against China, Huntsman worried, we will get the same in return, because we also manipulate our currency, and a trade war will only hurt our exports. He said we cannot sue China in the WTO over currency issues. He warned Europe is second only to Canada as a U.S. export market, and if they go down, the problem will spread to us.

BANKS/ANTITRUST: Huntsman appeared to be concerned about “too big to fail” and wants a proper size for banks. We must address the problem of banks being too big to fail, because they are setting us up for a long-term disaster. He said six institutions have 9.4 trillion or 60 to 65% of our GDP, with unfair implied taxpayer guarantees of protection. They need to be “right-sized,” he said. The banks must pay to take the risk away from taxpayers.

CORPORATE WELFARE: Huntsman said we should not bail out corporations, because we spent trillions with nothing to show for it. He would also phase out corporate welfare and subsidies. As to those protesting against Wall Street, he wants to be the President of the 99%, as well as the 1%, but disagreed with anti-capitalism messages made by some in the crowd.

JOBS: Huntsman thinks we can create jobs for the 15 million who are unemployed through regulatory reform, repealing Obamacare, tax changes, energy independence, and ending corporate welfare.

IMMIGRATION: Huntsman reminded listeners legal immigration is a growth engine. Two of his seven children, from India and China, help him see the issue through their eyes. He said the number of illegal aliens in the U.S. is down due to the economy. While Utah governor, he gave Drivers Licenses to illegal aliens.

AUTO INDUSTRY: Huntsman thinks we can regain our industrial base by lowering taxes and lessening regulations. He did not think the 68 billion dollar auto bailout was a good use of taxpayer money. Americans are sick and tired of bailouts, he said.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT: He wants energy independence, but thinks we can’t use wind or sun right now. He would develop natural gas to get rid of our heroin-like addiction to imported oil. The true cost of oil and gas, he said, includes federal spending to keep the Persian Gulf sea lanes open. He accused the EPA of running a “reign of terror.”

BUDGET/DEBT: Huntsman would never let the U.S. default on our debt, which he labeled a cancer, but we have to have an honest conversation about our sacred cows, as everything has to be on the table, including the 650 billion dollar Defense Budget. If we do not, he warned, we will soon look like Europe. He explained: Greece has a 170% debt to GDP; Italy: 120% to GDP; Japan: 100% to GDP; and ours is 70% debt to GDP, and it is moving up. A 70% debt-to-GDP ratio is a national security problem, which will cause us to stop growing, as it gets too high.

TAXES: Huntsman said this is the worst time to raise taxes. He would lower tax brackets to 8%, 14%, and 22%. He would phase out loopholes and deductions for individuals, as recommended by the Simpson-Bowles Commission. He would also phase out corporate welfare and subsidies. As Utah governor, he delivered on a flat-tax. He refused to sign a no-tax-hike pledge.

HEALTH: Huntsman said the government’s health care approach is wrong, because it contains a costly individual mandate. He warned the IRS is gearing up with 19,500 employees to administer the mandate. He delivered on health care reform in his state, he said, without a mandate. We need truly affordable insurance by addressing health care cost containment. We have to get costs out of the system. Half of health care spending is nonsense, he said. He wants a health care solution that works in the market. We need affordable health insurance to reduce the number of uninsured. Patients need to be empowered. The Ryan plan puts everything on the table, he said. He would send Medicaid back to the states. He would let the states experiment.

EDUCATION: He thinks early childhood literacy is important, but wants education local, and he would send it back to the states, with no unfunded mandates.

EQUALITY: Huntsman does not bash gays, and accepts civil unions. He asked fellow Republicans to do better on equality.

JUSTICE: Huntsman limited his approval of Supreme Court Justices to just Roberts and Alito.

12/22/2011

Republican Debate in Iowa (12-15-11)

PAUL ON IRAN: What is happening regarding Iran, Paul said, is no different than the 2003 propaganda as to Iraq. There is no proof Iran has nuclear weapons. There is no UN or IAEA report with evidence. Why do we have 900 bases in 130 countries? Why are we flying drones over Iran? Why do we bomb so many countries? They may want to harm us, because we bomb them, not because of what we believe. They would not attack Switzerland or Sweden for what they believe. Sanctions are an act of war. They could lead to economic calamity, if oil is kept from Europe. The greatest danger is Presidential overreaction and a bombing of Iran. Even Israel’s Head of Security said it wouldn’t make sense to bomb Iran. While we don’t want to see Iran with nuclear weapons, it’s dangerous to declare war on 1.2 billion Muslims. Paul said when he was drafted in 1962, the world was dangerous, but as nuclear missiles were sited in Cuba, Kennedy talked Khrushchev down, and we avoided a nuclear exchange. We lived through the Cold War with 30,000 missiles pointed at us, and we shouldn’t jump the gun now. We just don’t need another war, Paul said.

OTHERS ON IRAN: Romney called Obama weak regarding the spy drone incident. Perry would have destroyed or retrieved the drone, but Obama did neither. Bachmann believes Iran will use nuclear weapons to wipe out Israel and attack the U.S. She believes an IAEA report says Iran is just months away from obtaining the bomb. Santorum thinks Iran has been at war with us since 1979. They tried to assassinate a Saudi Ambassador, and they make IEDs that kill our soldiers. He called them a radical theocracy. If they had nuclear weapons, it wouldn’t be like the Cold War, since they believe in martyrdom. He made the ridiculous argument: “they don’t hate us because of what we do, or the policies we have, they hate us because of who we are, and what we believe in.” He said we should work with Israel ro plan strikes against their facilities. Gingrich said the Iranians plan to close the Straits of Hormuz.

FOREIGN POLICY: Paul would adopt a pro-American foreign policy, which is the opposite of policing the world. Huntsman wants a policy driven by economics, which leaves the Cold War behind. Perry said we should assert the Monroe Doctrine as to Iran, Venezuela, and Mexico, like we did in the 60s with Cuba.

CHINA: Huntsman was questioned about a 22% tariff China imposed on U.S. sport utility vehicles, but he sidestepped it saying we need shared democracy, human rights, and religious toleration.

IRAQ: Bachmann said Obama intentionally chose to lose the peace, and Iran will now become a dominant influence in Iraq.

LATIN AMERICA: Santorum said Obama embraced Chavez and Ortega, and thinks jihadist training camps are working with drug cartels in Latin America, planning assaults on the U.S.

MILITARY: Romney wants to increase the number of Navy ships built each year from 9 to 15. He said we need another 100,000 military troops, but he did not explain how he would get them.

SYRIA: When Perry was asked if the U.S. should intervene in Syria, he said he supports a No-Fly-Zone, because he says they are attached at the hip to Iran, and we need to stand with Israel.

ISRAEL: Gingrich said 200 missiles were fired at Israel this year. He neglected to say how many strikes Israel made against others.

UN: Gingrich called the UN a corrupt institution that beats up on our allies. He would not fund it and would dramatically reduce our reliance on it. He claimed UN camps are training grounds for terrorism, and their textbooks are funded by the UN. Huntsman said the UN serves useful peacekeeping-humanitarian purposes, but noted they have anti-American and anti-Israel sentiments.

IMMIGRATION: Romney promised an ID card for legal aliens to use when applying for jobs, along with E-verify checks. If employers hire without the card, serious sanctions would apply. He would send illegals to the back of the line. Perry said the El Paso border is not safe. Gingrich suggested a loss of tax deductions for those who hire illegally. He would drop the lawsuits against AZ, SC and Alabama. Huntsman would not pander to Hispanics, adding illegals are down due to the economy. He reminded us legal immigration is a growth engine.

JOBS: Romney said 25 million Americans are out of work, but the government doesn’t create jobs, the private sector does.

MANUFACTURING: Romney said manufacturing will come back to the U.S., but he did not explain how. Santorum thinks manufacturing is not competitive and tax rates should be lowered to zero and regulations should be repealed.

VULTURE CAPITALISM: Romney claimed he successfully ran Staples, Bright Horizons Children’s Centers, and an Indiana steel mill. Some of the 100 different businesses he was involved with laid people off, but they also added tens of thousands of jobs. When Obama took over GM, he said, dealerships were closed, and he had the same experience. Gingrich accused Romney of making millions by laying off people and bankrupting companies. He appeared confused when he suggested electric coops and credits unions are government sponsored institutions.

HOUSING: Bachmann accused Gingrich of taking 1.6 million from Freddie Mac to influence Republicans into keeping the scam going. Gingrich did not deny earning 1.6 million and he said he liked “government sponsored enterprises” like Freddy Mac, because they made home ownership more affordable. He thinks it’s a conservative principle to help families buy homes. He now would break up Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Paul said government sponsored enterprises received excessive credit from the Fed under the Community Reinvestment Act. Money comes from taxpayers, and when they go broke, we bail them out. Huntsman complained of banks that are too big to fail.

ENERGY: Romney said we have energy resources and should give out permits to drill for natural gas and oil. Gingrich said the Keystone Pipeline from Canada to Houston will bring oil to the U.S. and create 20,000 American jobs. If not, the Canadians will send it to Vancouver, where it will be shipped to China. Huntsman wants to use natural gas to get rid of our heroin-like addiction to imported oil. Bachmann criticized Obama’s moratorium on Gulf drilling and supports Keystone. She thinks Obama opposes it, because he would lose the support of radical environmentalists.

HEALTH: Huntsman said he delivered on health care reform in his state, without a mandate.

BUDGET & TAXES: Paul said the budget is out of control because of earmarks, which he never voted for. He said there are two factions; the warfare group that wants cuts in welfare; and the welfare group wants to cut warfare. He would eliminate 1 billion in spending from the federal budget in the first year. Romney said the debt is now 15 trillion, and the President racked up as much as all others combined. Huntsman as governor delivered on a flat-tax, and refused to sign a no-tax-hike pledge. Perry supports a Balanced Budget Amendment and wants tax policies that help business become competitive. Bachmann pledged no new taxes, because we’ve been taxed enough. We cannot spend more than we take in.  Gingrich claimed to have balanced the federal budget and paid off 405 billion in debt.

JUDICIARY: Gingrich would subpoena judges before Congress as to controversial decisions and would impeach them. He said the courts have become dictatorial, too powerful, and arrogant. Jefferson abolished 18 of 35 federal judges in 1802. He thought it absurd to view the Supreme Court as supreme. Lincoln repudiated Dred Scott in 1861. Bachmann said the Founders wanted courts to be the least powerful branch. They do not have power to make law. She would appoint only judges who believe in the original intent of the Constitution. Paul said Congress can get rid of courts, but he questioned Congressional authority to subpoena judges, as this would violate the Separation of Powers. When Romney was accused of appointing Democrats to be judges in Mass., he said a 7-member council made the appointments. He promised to appoint prosecutors. He said Congress should not oversee judges, because they have less credibility. Perry’s favorite justices were Alito, Roberts, and Thomas. Romney added Scalia. Gingrich and Bachmann liked all four. Huntsman limited himself to Roberts and Alito. Paul said all of them have good and bad features. Perry called for a part-time Congress and a 50% cut in their salaries.

GAYS: Romney opposed discrimination against people based on sexual orientation. He also opposed same-sex marriage. Santorum said Romney issued gay marriage licenses, but Romney explained the Mass Constitution required him to do so.

GUNS: Romney signed an assault weapons ban, but is now pro-gun.

ABORTION: Romney changed his mind on abortion, saying he was a pro-choice governor, but realized he was wrong when he vetoed an embryo bill. He is now pro-life. Santorum, who is 100% pro-life from conception to death, said Gingrich could have defunded Planned Parenthood, but he chose not to. Gingrich insisted he has a 98.5% pro-life record. He said life begins at conception, when embryos are conceived. They should be regarded as life and not experimented with. He opposes partial-birth abortion.

RELIGION: Gingrich complained of a 9th Circuit ruling that said “one nation under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional. He called the judges anti-American.

10/06/2011

Health Care: Start With School Phys. Ed.

While exercise is universally accepted by the medical community as the best way to remain in good shape, political debates regarding national health care, and related insurance problems, always seem to avoid the topic. Since there is no disagreement exercise makes both the body and the mind function better, lawmakers should enact a National School Exercise & Health Act requiring all students K-12 to have some Phys. Ed. every day.

Americans have gained too many pounds and have now tipped the scales far in excess of what standard weight charts recommend. Our collective weight gain has created a huge culture of diabetics. Extra poundage raises total cholesterol, fats in the blood, and increases the risk of blood vessel disease and heart attack.

Americans gained weight, because they burn too few calories. They no longer exercise. Children walk much less, and are now chauffeured everywhere in cars. They sit at desks, not only at school, but at home, working on laptops. In their free time, they move to couches, to watch excessive amounts of TV. The culture has become lazy, and it needs a National School Exercise & Health Act.

Exercise improves blood circulation, breathing, digestion, and metabolism. It causes sweating and makes the body lose weight. It reduces fats, lowers triglycerides, and brings down blood sugar levels. It reduces bad cholesterol, while raising good cholesterol.

There are many simple inexpensive types of exercise Americans could engage to regain their health. Walking is perhaps the best example. Students should be required to walk at least 10 minutes a day. The more ambitious could engage in hiking or jogging. Simple stretching, twisting, and bending, could be done by students right at their desks, to clear their minds during 5-minute breaks. Biking is also a great idea. The people of the Netherlands never give up their bikes, and they have remained relatively healthy. Indoor courts could be used for basketball or volleyball.

If schools are not already requiring students to exercise, they need to be ordered to do so. We as a society need to get all Americans on the same page in this regard. Requiring children to exercise daily is an issue that should gain bipartisan support, since the cost of implementing it is low, and yet the rewards are very high.

08/12/2011

Restaurants: Dinner in America

Dinner in America is typically a choice between Asian, Barbeque, Chicken, Fish, Greek, Italian, Mexican, or a Steakhouse.

ASIAN: American Asian, whether Chinese, Japanese, Thai, or Vietnamese, is almost always served with rice. A Vietnamese place in Pinellas Park, FL, named Pho Quyen, served a very tasty chicken stir fry with ginger. I just can’t seem to find it anywhere else. I noted Japanese restaurants are more expensive. I gave the best restaurant name award to a Chinese place called Hu Hot.

BARBEQUE: Ribs can be great if the meat is thoroughly cooked and falls off the bone. Most barbeque places add carbohydrate loads, by serving baked beans, potato salad, corn bread, and Texas Toast. I like the beans, as long as the sauce is not sweet. Potato salad has to have a kick. The toast and corn bread must be fresh.

CHICKEN: Like ribs, a chicken has to be in the oven long enough to separate the meat from the bone. Pollo Tropical Chicken sells a descent chicken dinner, with bread, beans, rice, and mashed potatoes. At Boston Market, you can pick up turkey, or a tasty chicken pot pie. I gobbled up a turkey served with gravy, mashed potatoes, dressing, and corn bread. A pumpkin pie slice was thrown in to complete the picture. I don’t care for chicken wings.

FISH: If the smell of fish is in the air when you walk in, you’re probably in a proper seafood restaurant. Fish is one of those dishes I don’t know how to prepare, so I want it done right. Although deep frying is unhealthy, it can really hit the spot, like it often did at the St. Petersburg Ale House, where I would order the 36-piece shrimp dinner. It was large enough to feed two people, and cost just over $10. At the Cajun Café on the Bayou in Pinellas Park, FL, I had a good Catfish dinner, with bread and butter, and a superb dirty rice, which was actually white rice, laced with beef. Blackened salmon with garlic mashed and rice can be surprisingly good. Though Long John Silver is a catchy name, don’t go there, as they serve a horrible frozen batter-fried thing dipped in grease.

GREEK: I love gyros made with warmed pita bread, covered with the perfect sauce, and then loaded with meat, lettuce, onions, and tomatoes, to a point where napkins are needed, because the bread is too hard to hold. Greek salads are also a great choice, if they have ricotta cheese, and are served with fresh bread and butter. Athenian Gardens on 9th in St. Pete had a tasty potato salad and a superb Gyro Platter, with pita bread, onions, and sauce.

ITALIAN: The Italians load up on pastas, breads, and other carbs. I usually ordered lasagna, or a cheese manicotti, but I didn’t care for the manicotti, if the correct sauce was not used. The problem was I didn’t know what sauce was correct. All I know is most in St. Pete didn’t have it. Also, the garlic bread has to be fresh, and served with butter, not olive oil. Can we stop the olive oil trend?

MEXICAN: Someone once told me Mexican food is always some sort of bean and rice combination. I like burritos, but I won’t go to Taco Bell, where they serve a wrap that has no food in it. On the other hand, the Chipotle Mexican chain is serving a filling burrito.

PIZZA: I want a thin crust, with as little bread as possible. Please, no deep dish, which is 90% bread. I generally do not care for chain portions or prices. I stay away from Pizza Hut, where the toppings are invisible. Toppings should include at least sausage, cheese, onions and peppers. Do pizzas need mushrooms or olives? All pizzas need a tasty kick, but please, no greasy puddles.

STEAK: A good steakhouse for a formal dinner needs a relaxed atmosphere and soft lighting. Outback is not bad for a chain, but I don’t like low-hanging bright lights in my eyes. Start with a crisp lettuce salad, with cheese and ranch dressing. Add fresh soft bread with butter. Follow up with a soft baked potato, and a medium-cooked, but juicy, sirloin steak. That is about as good as it gets. The Longhorn Steakhouse in Largo, FL perhaps did it best. A Brazilian Steakhouse in Pinellas Park, FL let the customers eat all they wanted for $15. After doing the salad bar for a lettuce salad, potatoes, and other tasty stuff, the chef keeps touring each table, and continues slicing off excellent cuts of meat.

08/10/2011

Restaurants: Lunch in America

“Lunch in America” defined generally means: unhealthy fast food eaten rather quickly by passengers and drivers of motor vehicles.

BURGERS: Fast Food places, beginning with McDonalds, started popping up in the 1960s. While McDonalds has continued to hold their lead and maintains fairly good quality control, Burger King, once a competitor, lost their oversight and the place took a dive. Wendy’s, another chain that had a good run, recently snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. If I find myself in of these places, I look at their burgers, and wonder where the beef came from.

FRIES: French Fries, the universal staple in all fast food places, is undoubtedly the greatest single contributor to obesity in America. There is just nothing at all healthy about dipping potatoes into hot grease and then adding loads of salt.

CHICKEN: Although breaded deep-fried chicken is unhealthy and is also helping fatten up the American public, the menu at KFC has always been a tasty winner, and I have to admit I like it.

PIZZA BY SLICE: Pizza by the slice is now part of the fast food madness. Now sold in gas stations, they use more and more bread to fill up and fatten an already obese America. While there is nothing worse than a frozen grocery store pizza, the pre-cooked slices warmed up and sold in filling stations run a close second.

SUB SANDWICHES: The sub is a later-day lunchtime invention. These sandwiches can be cool and refreshing, if they are done right. Subs should never be made with day-old, dry, or too much bread. The bun has to be soft and tasty. I just like tasty buns. Cousins Subs got it right when they said: it’s all about the bread. Ham and cheese with onion, lettuce and tomatoes is probably my favorite. The quality of a hot Philly cheese-steak depends on the cook. Quiznos came up with a reliable formula, and Firehouse has a tasty “hook and ladder.” I won’t go to Subway, where the pressure is on as you walk in the door to make your own food. If I knew how to cook, I wouldn’t go out in the first place.

08/09/2011

Restaurants: Breakfast in America

If you take a vacation in the U.S. and want to know what Americans are eating, the logical place to start is breakfast. I realize most Europeans don’t even have breakfast restaurants, and their days often start with just a plain croissant, here in America, big breakfasts are a tradition, consumed by millions.

NEWS: Breakfast is when many get out and read the newspaper. A daily news box will be located by the restaurant door. Buy one.

COFFEE: While Europeans make strong coffee, by slowly grinding beans, and then pouring hot water over them, into a small cup, not much larger than a shot glass, Americans reject that hard-core approach, and instead make large, but relatively weak pots of coffee, so they can continue pouring all morning into large American-style cups. Americans are satisfied with coffee this way. Most will not go to a Starbucks, because they just don’t need or want expensive brews. All they want is hot coffee, with unlimited refills. Americans just want to keep the coffee flowing.

SPECIALS: Americans like to order the special at family-owned places, which usually means: two eggs, bacon or sausage, two pieces of toast, potatoes, and coffee, all for a reasonable price.

OMELETS: The stereotypical American breakfast would have to be the Western or Denver Omelet. Ham, peppers, and onions must be cut finely, and cannot be too numerous. In the Upper Midwest, every omelet has cheese–it’s an absolute necessity. QUICHE: I am surprised more places don’t offer a ham and cheese quiche, but I suppose it sounds too French for most manly-men.

BACON: American breakfasts include some kind of meat, usually bacon or sausage. Since the origin of a sausage is unclear, bacon is usually my choice. The bacon has to be served hot; it cannot be burned to a crisp, or worse yet, undercooked.

TOAST: Toasted whole-wheat or whole-grain bread is usually best. Some restaurants seem to be using less butter these days, but I for one just cannot eat toast, if it is cold, or too dry. BAGELS: Some have deviated from toast, by opening bagel shops, but for me, food from an Einstein’s Bagel place just doesn’t cut it.

POTATOES: I could skip potatoes, in any form, but everyone now seems to be serving them, and in much larger quantities than needed. In the North, they are known as hash browns, and in the South, they are called home fries. Whatever their name, they have to be laced with grated onions, and seasoned, so they are not too bland. The worst potato crime of all is to serve them raw.

FRUIT: Some forward-leaning restaurants are now offering a fruit substitute in place of potatoes. A place in Florida offered bananas.

PANCAKES: I have to admit I always liked the Grand Slam breakfast at Denny’s, consisting of 2 eggs, 2 sausage, 2 toast, and 2 pancakes. There is however something unhealthy in pancake mixes that must be avoided. Regular syrup, loaded with sugar, is also a killer. So, go somewhere other than an IHOP or Perkins.

BAKERIES: Sweet rolls have a way of calling out your name. We must learn to ignore them. We must deafen our senses to the taste of sugar. Dunkin Donuts wisely switched to an egg and cheese combination, since they know the days of sugar are doomed. Their reformed menu now serves tasty sausage and egg croissants.

CONCLUSION: Buy a newspaper, as you enter. Order coffee, not tea. Pick the special. You’ll get eggs, bacon, toast, and hash browns. Just eat it. Try a Western Omelet, if you want to unload more cash. Eat fruit, if they serve it, but turn down pancakes, syrup, and sweets. When in America, eat like an American.

08/08/2011

Restaurant Rules in General

While living in Florida the past 2½ years, I made the following observations about restaurants.

CROWDS: Pick a crowded restaurant over an empty one. Busy places usually have lower prices, tastier food, and better service. If the parking lot is empty, drive on.

COST: Keep driving if you see valet parking: you can’t afford it.

CHAINS: The problem with chain restaurants is they generally charge more for less.

TABLES: You don’t want to sit outside when the temperature is too hot, the humidity is too high, or the wind is too strong. Go inside. There is nothing appetizing about eating next to road kill.

MUSIC: Chose a place with a relaxed atmosphere and soft background music. Customers should never have to raise their voices over loud or annoying sounds. Clarinet and violin players went out when the Beatles arrived–someone should just tell them.

MENUS: The menu should be no more than 4 pages. Big chains, like Applebees, Chilis, and TGI Fridays, now use massive picture books, instead of old-fashioned menus. The one at Applebees was actually 14 pages, filled with pictures of food one can only dream of eating. Some have even gone to the point of sticking one menu inside another, as if we didn’t already have enough to read. The menu should simply tell us in plain English what they do best.

DRINKS: While restaurant menus should be short, they should never delete the drink prices. Since more and more restaurants are now doing this, consumers need to fight back. One way is to order nothing but water, until they get the message.

CLEAN DISHES: Kitchen helpers just have to get the soap out of the coffee cups, before they put them back in circulation. Cream in coffee is ok, Borax cleanser is not.

SERVERS: Table servers, known as waitresses in the day, can make or break the experience. I do not care for those who ask how is the food is tasting, because I am always this close to giving a serious long-winded answer. I also don’t like it when they come around too often, since I don’t want to be pampered. I do however expect a few things.

ORDERING: I sometimes don’t know what I want to eat, so I ask what they are good at. I am disappointed when the server is dumbfounded. It also troubles me when they direct me to the most expensive item in an attempt at increasing their tip.

COOKING: After ordering, the food should be prepared within a reasonable time. If they are going to microwave everything, the least they could do is not tell us. One place made it painfully obvious by serving everything in microwavable bowls.

DELIVERY: Before delivering the food, the servers should be sure the kitchen prepared what was ordered. If it is supposed to be hot, please don’t serve it cold. If the order is totally screwed up, the server has to take it up with the kitchen. At a Chili’s, I ordered a pita with steak, but received no meat or lettuce, too many onions and peppers, and no sauce at all. When the server failed to even offer to solve the problem, my disappointment turned to despair.

FINAL THOUGHTS: I don’t mind busy places, if the food and service is good, and the prices are reasonable. Just give me a table where I am not subjected to excessive heat, freezing air, or noise. Give me a simple menu that says what the restaurant does best. Post all prices. Clean all dishes. Hire table servers who are interested in their jobs. And most of all—serve what was ordered.