Author: Robert Love

Ten Years of War

  Ten years ago George W. Bush was sitting in a Florida classroom with a 51 percent approval rating. When the dust had cleared at the end of the day, three buildings had collapsed into rubble and 3,000 Americans were dead. American foreign policy would never be the same. America needed a leader, and Bush was it. By 9/12 Bush’s approval rating skyrocketed to 90 percent, the highest of any president in U.S. history. Bush and Cheney were so giddy with their newfound popularity and power that they couldn’t wait to take America to war, wars which proved financially beneficial to both Cheney’s former company, Halliburton, and the Carlisle Group, a defense contractor partially owned by the Bush family. They were so eager to go to war that they did not want to waste precious time researching who attacked the United States and why. Bush had already sent troops to Afghanistan to hunt down Osama bin Laden before Bush had even assembled the 9/11 Commission in late 2002. And before the 9/11 Commission had finished their report, Bush had invaded Iraq. Both of these wars continue today. The war in Afghanistan has cost America $451 billion and the Iraq War has cost $797 billion. And these numbers do not include the future health care costs of veterans and the interest on the money borrowed from China to fund these wars. Over...

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Austin City Council Needs a Lesson in Statistics

  Austin needs public officials who can understand and base their decisions upon statistics. Austin also needs money, lots of money. Austin City Council planned to generate $3 million by extending parking meters downtown until midnight Monday through Saturday. Currently, parking is free after 5:30 pm on weekdays and all day Saturday and Sunday. The Urban Transportation Committee, a committee appointed by the city council, conducted a survey regarding extending the paid parking hours, posting the survey on the city Web site. Eight thousand Austinites took the survey. 76 percent said they choose free parking over convenient parking and 81 percent of this group of respondents said they would be less likely to visit downtown if parking meters were extended. Of the 24 percent responding that they choose convenient parking over free parking, 42 percent responded that they would be less likely to come downtown with extended parking hours. Musicians and bar owners have been outspoken against the extension, arguing that extending the meters would deter people from coming downtown and enjoying the live music that makes Austin famous. It would also endanger service employees returning to dimly-lit parking garages carrying wads of cash. When told that over 70 percent of the total respondents opposed the parking meter extension and would be less likely to go downtown, Mayor Leffingwell seemed confused about the significance of these findings. He told Fox News...

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Reducing the Deficit with Drugs

  Our national debt is $14.2 trillion, which is more than our gross domestic product. Currently we borrow 43 cents of every dollar that we spend. Both Republicans and Democrats are concerned about our growing debt, yet both parties have exacerbated the problem. President Bush Jr. more than doubled military spending during his presidency, from $300 billion in 2000 to $650 billion by the time he left office. President Obama has continued that trend and we are now spending over $700 billion annually on defense. Worst of all, our current debt projections do not take into account future obligations, such as Social Security and Medicare. When those future obligations are taken into consideration, our national debt isn’t $14.2 trillion, but somewhere between $70 trillion and $140 trillion. With such a massive debt hanging over our heads, we can all agree that something drastic must be done. We have two choices: decrease spending, or increase revenue. An ideal solution will do both. Legalizing marijuana will stimulate economic growth, reduce crime, reduce the need for welfare, increase revenue and cut government spending. There are many legitimate concerns regarding legalizing marijuana: 1: It’s a gateway drug and will lead people to harder drugs like cocaine and heroin. 2: We already have a drug problem in this country and we shouldn’t make it worse by legalizing another drug. 3: Legalizing marijuana will make marijuana more...

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Hemp: The Solution to Climate Change

  What if we could reduce CO2 emissions without raising taxes? What if a carbon-neutral source of renewable energy could be grown on American soil and generate all the power the United States needed? What if one plant could bolster the economy, provide nutritious food, bio-degradable plastics, durable fiber, carbon-neutral energy, and save the world from global warming … would you grow it? The only thing that needs to happen is for the federal government to get out of the way. The solution is hemp. Background Hemp, not to be confused with marijuana, is the most versatile plant on the planet. Over 20,000 products are made from hemp, including shower curtains, shoes, soaps, breads, protein powder, plastics, paper, and energy. Hemp is not a psychoactive drug, it is an industrial agricultural product. Popular Mechanics in 1938 asserted that “The connection of hemp as a crop and marijuana seems to be exaggerated … If federal regulations can be drawn to protect the public without preventing the legitimate culture of hemp, this new crop can add immeasurably to American agriculture and industry.” Cannabis hemp is important in American history. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew hemp on their estates. The first laws concerning hemp actually required citizens to grow hemp. In 1619 a law was enacted in Jamestown Colony, Virginia “ordering” all farmers to grow Indian hempseed. An early draft of the Constitution was...

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Fusion Centers: Effective Tool in Fighting Terrorism or Big Brother on Steroids?

  There is something watching you. It can access your bank records, your credit records, who you texted on your cell phone, whether or not you are vaccinated … all without your knowledge. It isn’t an identity thief searching through your garbage, it is a highly sophisticated federally funded data center called a Fusion Center. Thankfully, the Austin Police Department is leading the way for the nation in protecting our privacy and civil liberties from unregulated Fusion Centers. General Info: A Fusion Center is a law enforcement hub for collecting and sharing information. Fusion Centers were created after 9/11 to help fight terrorism and are currently free to document the activities of Texans engaging in First Amendment protected activities (e.g., protests and political rallies) and collect non-criminal information (e.g., bank statements, credit card statements, medical history) on private citizens. Fusion Centers “increase the ability of law enforcement to think about the causes and patterns of crime rather than being simply reactive,” Dr. Michael Lauderdale, Chairman of Austin’s Public Safety Commission, said. Lauderdale was instrumental in bringing a Fusion Center to Austin and he sees the potential negatives of Fusion Centers. “They may gather data that is interesting but may not be appropriate or legal, or become very unwieldy because of the amount of data collected.” According to Matt Simpson of the ACLU of Texas, “The problem is that the...

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