*sigh*
Comments like this bother me so much. Yes, our “duly elected president” Barack Obama is on vacation.  He just finished some of what are probably the most enjoyable negotiations of all time with our other elected officials, and managed (with all those other elected officials) to stave off financial crisis.  For now.  Granted, said negotiations haven’t actually fixed anything, rather, they have only postponed the consequences. But they did buy us a little more time to… um, negotiate.
So, yes, Mr. Obama is taking a breather.  He is spending time with his children and his wife, enjoying a few days off. Do you really think there is ever a day that he could take a vacation without missing some duty that he is supposed to do? Give the man a break, for heaven’s sake.
Oh, and one last thing.  He is “spending taxpayers[sic] hard earned money”? Yup.  That’s where his paycheck comes from. $400,000 a year, along with some other compensations is what the president gets paid to run our modest little country. However, I would like to point out that all of us wonderful taxpayers spend MUCH more on entertainment than on taxes every year. Professional athletes (yeah, we pay for them too) make much more than our president.  According to nflsalaries.org, “The average salary of an NFL coach.. is between 2 and 4 million dolars.” And that is just the coaches.  Players earn quite a chunk of change too…
So yes, America, Barak Obama is taking a vacation.  Even the president of the United States needs a day or three off every once in a while.  If you would like to make a change, write to your political representative or run for office yourself.  Stop moaning.

*sigh*

Comments like this bother me so much. Yes, our “duly elected president” Barack Obama is on vacation.  He just finished some of what are probably the most enjoyable negotiations of all time with our other elected officials, and managed (with all those other elected officials) to stave off financial crisis.  For now.  Granted, said negotiations haven’t actually fixed anything, rather, they have only postponed the consequences. But they did buy us a little more time to… um, negotiate.

So, yes, Mr. Obama is taking a breather.  He is spending time with his children and his wife, enjoying a few days off. Do you really think there is ever a day that he could take a vacation without missing some duty that he is supposed to do? Give the man a break, for heaven’s sake.

Oh, and one last thing.  He is “spending taxpayers[sic] hard earned money”? Yup.  That’s where his paycheck comes from. $400,000 a year, along with some other compensations is what the president gets paid to run our modest little country. However, I would like to point out that all of us wonderful taxpayers spend MUCH more on entertainment than on taxes every year. Professional athletes (yeah, we pay for them too) make much more than our president.  According to nflsalaries.org, “The average salary of an NFL coach.. is between 2 and 4 million dolars.” And that is just the coaches.  Players earn quite a chunk of change too…

So yes, America, Barak Obama is taking a vacation.  Even the president of the United States needs a day or three off every once in a while.  If you would like to make a change, write to your political representative or run for office yourself.  Stop moaning.

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Ok. First, a frustration: People that take every issue our country has, or any issue at all, sometimes, and proceed to blame the government. Specifically, let’s blame the president of the United States for every little thing we don’t like. I’m sure Mr. Obama has nothing better to do with his time than ruin our lives. The man was ELECTED president and is trying his hardest to make decisions the way HE thinks is right. 

On a sort of related note, I was having a government-related discussion today and was accused of thinking of fellow Americans as “neaderthals”(sic) because I think the government has to step in to enforce environmental protection. I implied that industry doesn’t do a good job of it by themselves. No sir - I think very highly of people. The government is, in fact, made of people. Those people are just doing things they way they think things should be done. Of course, I have my complaints with politicians too so I can’t complain too much. But I’m just always irritated when someone goes “This ____ is a problem… Stupid Obama…” Grrrrrrrrrr

On a happier tone, I watched Shawshank Redemption tonight! It was fantastic! It was a thinker movie :) It makes you appreciate the struggles and difficulty and perhaps even unethical existence of imprisonment. If the movie is accurate, I feel like the system it portrays is nowhere near effective in “punishing” crimes or “rehabilitating” criminals. It seems to do rather the oposite. Good movie, though! I liked it :)

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sarahstocracy:

huffingtonpost:

 
Teenage girls in ponytails and boys in long athletic shorts dash across the gym at Abraham Lincoln Middle School, pausing their game of indoor tennis to motion “Y-M-C-A” with their arms as the Village People’s song blares from the loudspeaker.
It’s a scene happening less frequently these days. Budget cuts and teacher layoffs have forced the school to cut some PE classes, reduce library hours and eliminate small literacy classes for problem readers and Spanish for sixth- and seventh-graders.
This is horrifying. 
Educators Fear Deepest Cuts Are Ahead

“This is horrifying”?
HAS NOBODY BEEN PAYING ATTENTION TO EDUCATION FOR THE PAST TEN YEARS?! Because I’m pretty sure educators have been predicting this for a long, long time. Only NOW everyone cares, when it’s too late. Did you care before, when you didn’t want to pay higher taxes? Did you care before, when “No Child Left Behind” increased the focus on standardized tests? Did you care before, when everyone became enamoured with charter schools? Did you care before, when they began eliminating ESL and ELD classes? Did you care before, when you took the ACLU’s side in forcing schools to pay more and more for special education students instead of getting the money out of a different governmental monetary pool?
No. You didn’t. So shut up and don’t pretend to be shocked at the way public education is going. YOU MADE IT GO THIS WAY. You dismissed us in the hopes that you could get away with not having to actually pay money for public social services. 
Spoiler alert: YOU CAN’T GET GOOD GOVERNMENT SERVICES IF YOU DON’T PAY FOR THEM.

I don’t understand why education budgets keep getting cut. I have never talked to someone who said, “You know what? I think our schools have too much money. Let’s cut their budget!” EVERYONE I’ve EVER talked to about the issue has always said, “Education systems should not be subject to budget cuts!” So why on earth do budgets keep getting cut? Who is voting for representatives that do such things? Why aren’t people protesting more?
Also, Sarah is completely right - “YOU CAN’T GET GOOD GOVERNMENT SERVICES IF YOU DON’T PAY FOR THEM" Some things are worth paying for, America…
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sarahstocracy:

huffingtonpost:

Teenage girls in ponytails and boys in long athletic shorts dash across the gym at Abraham Lincoln Middle School, pausing their game of indoor tennis to motion “Y-M-C-A” with their arms as the Village People’s song blares from the loudspeaker.

It’s a scene happening less frequently these days. Budget cuts and teacher layoffs have forced the school to cut some PE classes, reduce library hours and eliminate small literacy classes for problem readers and Spanish for sixth- and seventh-graders.

This is horrifying. 

Educators Fear Deepest Cuts Are Ahead

“This is horrifying”?

HAS NOBODY BEEN PAYING ATTENTION TO EDUCATION FOR THE PAST TEN YEARS?! Because I’m pretty sure educators have been predicting this for a long, long time. Only NOW everyone cares, when it’s too late. Did you care before, when you didn’t want to pay higher taxes? Did you care before, when “No Child Left Behind” increased the focus on standardized tests? Did you care before, when everyone became enamoured with charter schools? Did you care before, when they began eliminating ESL and ELD classes? Did you care before, when you took the ACLU’s side in forcing schools to pay more and more for special education students instead of getting the money out of a different governmental monetary pool?

No. You didn’t. So shut up and don’t pretend to be shocked at the way public education is going. YOU MADE IT GO THIS WAY. You dismissed us in the hopes that you could get away with not having to actually pay money for public social services. 

Spoiler alert: YOU CAN’T GET GOOD GOVERNMENT SERVICES IF YOU DON’T PAY FOR THEM.

I don’t understand why education budgets keep getting cut. I have never talked to someone who said, “You know what? I think our schools have too much money. Let’s cut their budget!” EVERYONE I’ve EVER talked to about the issue has always said, “Education systems should not be subject to budget cuts!” So why on earth do budgets keep getting cut? Who is voting for representatives that do such things? Why aren’t people protesting more?

Also, Sarah is completely right - “YOU CAN’T GET GOOD GOVERNMENT SERVICES IF YOU DON’T PAY FOR THEM" Some things are worth paying for, America…

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I was reading an article in my school’s newspaper today about Rick Perry and his ideas for balancing the federal budget. He is proposing to “cut the salary of the president of the United States in half until that budget is balanced.” The president currently makes $450,000 I believe, plus allowances for things like food, travel and entertainment. Altogether, not too ridiculous for the person who runs (and takes the brunt of criticism for) one of the largest countries in the world. Well Mr. Perry, let’s see how your plan would pan out:

Federal Spending

Looking at this graph, we can see the president’s salary near the top included in the Executive Office budget. I would put it at about 10 billion, give or take a bit. Other common scapegoats for federal spending cuts are also on this graph: Take a look at NASA (between $20 and $40 billion) and the Department of Education ($80 to $100 billion). And at the bottom of the chart we have the real culprits… The Department of Defense and Health and Human Services. Mr. Perry, a %1 decrease in 2011’s Health and Human Services budget would be equivalent to a 100% decrease in the Executive Branch budget. I think we can find a way to cut our Health Care down a bit; make it more efficient, etc. Oh wait - I think we already tried that and got shot down. How about cutting the defense budget a bit? A 2% decrease in the Defense Budget would more than equal the Executive Office budget. There is absolutely no reason that our defense budget should be 7 times larger than our education budget. So, Mr. Perry: I think your plan is a load of crap.

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So, I get emails every so often from groups like Change.org (I believe that’s what their URL is) or AmericanCensorship.org, and I find them kind of exhausting. I really do care about internet censorship, but apparently not enough to call my representative… :P

The truth is, I know what I believe is right and what I think is a good course of action for many political issues, but when it comes to “fighting” for them, I’m rarely motivated to do anything.  I think this reflects on the current political atmosphere of the whole country, really. On most issues, the Democrats and the Republicans go head to head, fighting to the death, and at the end of the day, ZERO progress has been made. No decisions, no compromises, no fixes, no deals. My reaction is most often one of apathy, and I think most people have very similar reactions…

Cheers, America!

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So I managed to catch an hour and a bit of the GOP debate tonight. What a crew… Here are a few of the things that I found ridiculous:

1.) For some reason, most of the candidates seem to feel that aggression is the way to solve any foreign issue. Mediators brought up the issue of Iran holding one of our spy drones, Iran’s supposed possession of nuclear arms, and Iran’s aggressive attitude towards Israel. And many of the candidates supported the view that we should go and show Iran that we’re the big bad boys on the block. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! NOOOOO! First let me cite our nation’s Christian morals, as established by our conservative friends, and ask one simple question: Did Jesus teach that beating up everyone who doesn’t do what you want is the right thing to do? NO. The answer is, and has always been NO. Candidates criticized Obama for being “weak” by trying to talk to Iran. When is talking ever a bad first step? Do you know why so many people in the world HATE the United States? It is because we take what we want and we fight for what we think is right. I don’t really like that phrase, “fight for what is right.” I think “stand up for what is right” is far better because it deletes the aggressive part of the phrase without deleting the strength. I also used the words “what we think is right” because, as Americans, we seem to be arrogant enough to assume that what we think is right, is right. The fact is, my narcissistic friends, we’re very often wrongBottom line: It is ridiculous to go and try to force people to be how we want them to be. That is arrogant of us, and downright wrong. These types of tactics only make more enemies.

2.) Energy issues… A pipeline construction project was brought up. Several candidates said something along the lines of “if we don’t become energy independent by drilling for more oil and shipping more down from Canada, we’re all going to die while China becomes the biggest power in the world.” (side note: I don’t think America’s ego could take China being more powerful… We might throw a fit like a three year old…) There is a fundamental flaw in the premise of trying to find more oil. It is all going to be gone in x number of years. There will be no more. Nada. Niet. Mr. Huntsman had an interesting proposal to use natural gas, of which we have an abundant supply, to fuel things. However, that plan also involves using finite resources. The only real way to procede is to use renewable energy sources. Sure, they may be more expensive. Sure, they may look a little funny. But they will create jobs! That should get those republican candidates grinning. They also create NO CO2, and will run off of resources which will last for the foreseeable forever. I mean, the sun will go out in 5,000,000,000 years or so, but I plan to have colonized other galaxies by then. (Another side note: Michelle Bachman went so far as to call people like me “radical environmentalists” for supporting renewable energy over oil) Bottom line: Yes, improving our oil infrastructure will create jobs and inflate the economy in the short term. But in the long term, when we run out of oil and the entire system comes crashing down around our perfect little ears, the economy is going to take a major, potentially fatal, dip. The responsible thing to do, since we know these facts, is to procede by investing in energy we know will last in the long term.

Thank you, I’m available for the next 4 weeks to rant about politics and our stupid American attitude that we’re better than everyone else. :P

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It’s so frustrating that conservative politicians feel the need to push this issue. I concede that having sex when you’re in middle school is certainly an awful idea and that teachers shouldn’t encourage their students to have sex. However, it is completely ridiculous to only teach kids about abstinence. Here are a few reasons:

  • Adolescents are going to have sex. Period. At least one couple. Wouldn’t it be better for them to, say, know how to avoid creating a baby?
  • I have no data to back this hunch up, but… Isn’t it logical to think that if you force students to sign/say a pledge to not have sex that some of them will go and do it out of spite? Rebellion is a fairly common teenage motivator.
  • Even if all teens abstained from having sex until they married, sooner or later every couple is going to tire of having babies… It’s worthwhile to teach people about contraceptives even if they’re not going to need the information for years. At least then they have a few keywords for that Google search…
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It looks like we have won, for now. SOPA and PIPA were dropped by Congress today!

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Gov. Daniels started out tonight by telling us that Obama falsely painted a cheery picture of the state of the union. Gov. Daniels ended by saying, “There is nothing wrong with the state of our union,” and referred to the United States as a “city on a hill.” I see we’re quoting Jesus now.

My favorite moment is when Mitch Daniels said that Pres. Obama is trying to divide America, and has been for some time. HAS HE EVER LISTENED TO OBAMA SPEAK? Every other word out of Obama’s mouth is about “working together”, “bipartisan”, or “crossing the aisle.”

Also a good metaphor: “Niagara of death” - I don’t remember what Daniels was referring to, but I laughed…

This was my homework break for the evening. woot.

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I’m watching last night’s GOP debate, and I have to say I’m pretty disappointed in Newt Gingrich… He told this little story in reference to the Palestine-Israel conflict:

Now imagine in Debauw (sp?) County, that twelve rockets hit, from your neighbor. How many of you would be for a peace process, and how many of you would say it was an act of war?

*sigh* Do you consider yourself a Christian, Newt? Do you believe in the teachings of Jesus. How about the golden rule? One of the biggest tragedies in the world is that people feel like they always have to retaliate! Palestine bombs Israel, Israel bulldozes some Palestinian settlement… Five year old Jonny steals his brother’s crayon, his brother smacks him…

Matthew 5:38-42

You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

Luke 6:27-31

27 But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you,

28 Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.

29 And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloke forbid not to take thy coat also.

30 Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again.

31 And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.

Does anyone actually read this and say, “You know, that sounds like a good idea,” and then actually do it? The world could be such a peaceful place if everyone understood the power of forgiveness. It is so frustrating to see political movements that identify themselves with God and Christianity blatantly ignore the teachings of their Savior.

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Also, I’m really confused about this supposed “war on religion / Christianity.” How is our current administration suppressing religion?

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This deserves to be on my Tumblr…
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This deserves to be on my Tumblr…

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 I don’t think I’ll ever support a politician who wants to cut funding to the arts. I don’t have many logical reasons, just feelings. I suppose it makes logical sense to cut funding to arts programs because they don’t directly benefit the economy; they seem like a black well into which we throw money and get nothing back. You have to be a lot deeper than logic to appreciate art, though. Art doesn’t supplement the nation’s pocket books, it enriches the nation’s hearts. As a student at one of the top engineering colleges in the nation, I can testify to the love of art in this generation’s engineers. We have musicians, graphic artists, painters, and singers. None of us could stand to concentrate only on math and science; it just isn’t that interesting. Engineering is really more about mixing art and science anyway. We draw from our artistic sides when designing a new plane, or a bridge, or a phone. Do I even need to mention Apple?

Reason for this rant: Mitt Romney has come out against funding for the arts. His campaign claims that he will cut the budgets of cultural and art grantmaking agencies in half!

Article link here

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I just listened to Mitt Romney’s speech about “Faith in America”  from 2007 on YouTube. It was actually a very good speech! I appreciated that fact that he reached out to Muslims and Jews rather than just Christians. However, he said a few things that I disagree with and would like to comment on.

"We separate church and state affairs in this country, and for good reason. No religion should dictate to the state nor should the state interfere with the free practice of religion. But in recent years, the notion of the separation of church and state has been taken by some well beyond its original meaning. They seek to remove from the public domain any acknowledgment of God. Religion is seen as merely a private affair with no place in public life. It is as if they are intent on establishing a new religion in America - the religion of secularism. They are wrong.

"The founders proscribed the establishment of a state religion, but they did not countenance the elimination of religion from the public square. We are a nation ‘Under God’ and in God, we do indeed trust.

"We should acknowledge the Creator as did the Founders - in ceremony and word. He should remain on our currency, in our pledge, in the teaching of our history, and during the holiday season, nativity scenes and menorahs should be welcome in our public places. Our greatness would not long endure without judges who respect the foundation of faith upon which our constitution rests. I will take care to separate the affairs of government from any religion, but I will not separate us from ‘the God who gave us liberty.’

He says “they seek to remove from the public domain and acknowledgment of God.” I disagree with this argument. Most of the “they” he refers to feel that references to God should not appear on our money, in our pledge of allegiance, etc. That is because our money is printed by the government, and ours schools, where children recite the Pledge, are run by the government. Yes, the founders of our country believed in God and made him an important part of their lives. We believe in the separation of church and state though, and including “In God We Trust” on our government-printed money is clearly a lack of separation.

Perhaps Mr. Romney would argue that all Americans believe in God, and therefore the references to God are justified as they reflect the sentiment of the American people. However, let’s look at some quick statistics from the 2008 Census Data

  • Total People Surveyed:               228,182,000
  • Religious:                                   182,198,000       79.9%
  •      Christian:                              173,402,000       76.0%
  •           Mormon:                          3,158,000           1.4%
  •      Other Religion                       8,796,000           3.9%
  • No Religion                              34,169,000        15.0%
  •      Atheist, Agnostic, Humanist  3,696,000           1.6%

[This data was based on a sample of the US population in 2008]

As we can see, there are actually a significant number of people who describe themselves as having “no religion.” Those which we can be fairly sure have doubts about the existence of God (Atheist, Agnostic, Humanist) make up 1.6% of the population.

As an interesting side note for my family who read this blog, I included the Mormon statistic. If we extrapolate the data to 2010, with a US population of 308 million [data], we get about 4,273,000 LDS members in the US (0.0138 * 308,745,538). In 2005 the church stated that membership in the US was 5,690,672 [data], and they also state that growth is positive, which would indicate that the membership in 2010 should be higher than 5.6 million. I’m not saying the church is lying. I’m just suggesting that the number of people on record is not the same as the number of people that call themselves members of the LDS church.

Anyway, I think that Mr. Romney is wrong in saying that “we should acknowledge the Creator as did the Founders - in ceremony and word. He should remain on our currency, in our pledge…” The government cannot be allowed to do so. Citizens are free to practice whatever beliefs they may have; this is freedom of religion. Schools cannot be allowed to force students to recite a pledge of allegiance in which they say “under God.” If the numbers were reversed, how many Christians would be upset if their children were reciting, “One nation under Allah?” I would think that at least a few would be. It is better to leave religion out of government. This is not a war on religion. By qualifying America as a “Christian Nation” and endorsing Christian beliefs rather than simply refraining to endorse any religious beliefs, our government is failing to do their job: to represent all Americans equally.

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Well, I only caught the last bit of this debate (had to finish my Electricity & Magnetism HW…), but there were several interesting points.

The first issue I heard the candidates talking about was the issue of Iran and the possibility that they develop nuclear weapons. First of all, Newt Gingrich said (paraphrased):

We live in a country in which we have to worry about nukes going off in our own cities

I really have no idea what he means by that. Believe me Mr. Gingrich, nuclear warheads will not explode on a whim. You could probably drop one out of a plane at 30,000 feet and it wouldn’t explode on impact: you have to start a nuclear reaction.

However, the real issue is the candidates’ (except for Paul) lust for war in Iran. Gingrich claimed that a preemptive strik in Iran is necessary to keep them from developing nukes. The general argument went like this:

  • Iran will build/develop a nuclear weapon
  • They will sell those weapons to radical groups like Hezbollah
  • Those groups will smuggle those weapons into the US through South America
    OR
  • Iran will use their one or two nuclear warheads to threaten us and “get away with whatever they want”

Yeah… One or two nukes… SCARY! According to the Federation of American Scientists, Russia has 11,000 nuclear warheads, and the US is close behind with 8,500 [source]. What kind of threatening power could Iran possibly gain with one or two warheads? As pointed out by Mr. Paul, we dealt with the Cold War and the constant threat of nuclear attack. We’ve done this before, and Iran is no Russia…

To address the point of smuggling warheads into the country, yes, that is possible. However, as far as I am aware, there is no evidence that Iran is developing a nuclear warhead (or several), so we’re not exactly there. Trying to plan for every possible future is impossible.

Many of the candidates (all of them except Ron Paul, I think) criticized Obama for being “timid” when it came to action in Iran. The three of them have so much enthusiasm for taking our military into Iran. It’s upsetting. I strongly disagree with the sentiment that we must fight other nations if they don’t adhere to our policies. Besides, we’re hardly the ones to criticize Iran for having a nuclear warhead or two; we have thousands of times as many. I agree with Ron Paul - we need to talk to Iran, like we did with Russia, to navigate through this tricky mess. We cannot treat Ahmadinejad like he is a child, or like he is crazy. The only way to get him to respect us is by respecting him.

All of the candidates agreed tonight that the federal government has no place in the education system. They also seemed to think that the Federal Teacher’s Union is a bad thing rather than a good thing, putting the emphasis on protecting teachers rather than doing a good job of teaching students. I’ll admit, I really know nothing about this issue. I’m open to the idea of education reform. Newt Gingrich said that he would turn control of the school system over to parents rather than local, state, or federal governments. I understand that he wants government out of our schools. What I don’t understand though is where he thinks the money would come from? Our schools are funded by the government, and that funding has been getting slimmer and slimmer every year. Is he suggesting that we turn education into a commercial venture? That would be a large overhaul indeed, and I don’t think it would succeed - at least, not without a very detailed plan, which I’m fairly certain he doesn’t have.

Oh, here’s a good reason not to vote for Newt Gingrich: he claimed that he would “open up federal lands, open up offshore drilling, and replace the EPA” in order to bring oil prices down. Oh Lordy… Yes, Newt, let’s just do away with our nature preserves and the Environmental Protection Agency so we can drill for oil. What kind of sick, perverted people are we? We would rather have cheap oil and continue polluting like crazy than preserve the beauty of our planet. You want to lead the world, America? Why don’t we show the world (including India and China) that we can develop an efficient energy infrastructure that doesn’t depend on oil (or coal!)?

One final note: Rick Santorum commented on how he voted for “No Child Left Behind” by saying, “It was against my personal values, but sometimes when you’re part of a team, you have to take one for the team.” By team, he was referring to the Republican Party. I wonder if this comment will sink him? As Ron Paul later pointed out, this “team sport” approach to politics is precisely what is wrong in Washington. Our politicians shouldn’t be voting based on what their party believes in. They should be voting based on what they think is right! By “playing” on “teams,” we have a polarized government that excels at getting absolutely nothing done.

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