Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Guns vs. Butter in earnest

Our federal legislators are currently considering a budget for next year that imposes a spending freeze for most domestic programs yet somehow there's money to spare when it comes to nuclear weapons pork. The budget requests $7 billion for nuclear bomb making capacities, a $1 billion increase over last year's budget for the same programs and an astounding 40% jump over average annual spending, after adjusting for inflation, on nuclear weapons during the Cold War era.

The budget has hundreds of millions for new bomb plants that would enable the U.S. to increase its capacity to create new nuclear weapons in the future. A new plutonium facility in New Mexico to enable a huge increase in the production of radioactive cores for nuclear weapons is just one example of several proposals in the budget. This piece of pork will cost taxpayers $225 million in the coming year and about $4 billion by the time construction is complete.

While the president is working with the Senate to ratify the New Start Treaty which would reduce the threat of nuclear war, we don’t need to be building capacity to make more nuclear bombs. Just as importantly, we shouldn’t be spending money on unneeded weapons when we can’t balance our budget without cutting domestic spending in areas such as education and alternative energy that would create jobs now and be investments in our future.

Congressmen Lamar Smith and Henry Cuellar need to know that we want to invest in our future not our past.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Lamar Smith's hypocrisy continues - $485 million for a jet engine the Pentagon doesn't want

Congressman Lamar Smith makes much of the deficit on his campaign website referring to it as “a mountain of debt for our children to pay” then going on to say “which why is Congressman Smith voted against the stimulus”. Unfortunately his hypocrisy is showing because he voted to keep $485 million in the Defense Appropriations bill that pays to continue to develop a jet engine that Secretary of Defense Robert Gates says the military doesn’t want. This is an alternate engine for the Lockheed built F-135 Joint Strike Fighter which already has an operational engine from Pratt & Whitney. According to Rear Admiral Mike Manazir, the Navy doesn’t want an alternate engine as it “would deploy only one type of engine in its JSFs that go to sea to optimize logistics and supply chains.”

I don’t know about you but if the Pentagon doesn’t want a piece of military hardware I think that’s a pretty good indication that we don’t need it. Smith’s vote amounts to corporate welfare for the GE/Rolls Royce consortium that is developing the engine. I might be able to understand his vote if the engine were being built in his district but it isn’t so he can’t claim local jobs are at stake.

If the deficit is so important to Mr. Smith why is he voting to spend nearly half a billion dollars unnecessarily? According to the logic he espouses on his website that money should go to reducing the deficit.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Ken Mercer continues to mislead when questioned about evolution

In a recent interview of candidates for the State Board of Education in District 5, Ken Mercer responds to the question: What is your position on the teaching of evolution? “My biggest quote was, ‘If our kids do not have the freedom to raise their hands in science class and ask honest questions, then we are no longer living in the United States of America.’ You can call it strengths and weaknesses, but we won the right for kids to ask questions in class, and that was the battle. It wasn’t religion. It was just a right to ask questions.”

I don’t know about you but I’ve never been in a classroom whether as a student or as a parent observing where children didn’t have the right ask questions. Our teachers encourage questions as a way to participate in class and clarify understanding. Mr. Mercer’s answer is an evasion because he never states his position on the scientific validity of evolution. What he and the other conservatives on the SBOE did was encourage our children to not just ask questions but to argue with their teachers about whether or not scientific principles are appropriate to the study of biology.

Texas has some of the lowest performing schools in the nation and Mr. Mercer’s actions will keep it that way. That’s all the reason I need to send him packing in November by voting for Dr. Rebecca Bell-Metereau.