Daily Politics Blog – How to Find a Good One

So you are interested in the world of politics but do not know where to find a good daily politics blog. In this article I will provide you with the best method for finding the blogs you want to read. I will not tell you what to read, I will tell you how to find a political blog you want to read -one that suits your specific tastes.

If you know essentially nothing about the world of political blogging you should understand a few things right off the bat.

Firstly, a daily politics blog can come in one of two forms. The first type is the kind most people probably think a political blog looks like. It is the “personal blog”. It is made by one individual. The second type is the corporate type. It is like a company as it has several writers or “contributors” who make up the daily blog into what is very similar to an online newspaper.

Secondly, the thing you need to know right away upon entering the politics blog universe is that the vast majority of political blogs are biased or at least “lean” one way or another -they are opinionated news. There are however many politics blogs that take a non-partisan or neutral approach to their blogging. Remember, this kind of blog might be articulating a point of view just like partisan blogs.

Finally, the most important thing to do, in my opinion, is to do research on the political blogs you start reading. If the blog is a personal one try to understand where they are coming from. If the blog is a corporate one look them up on Wikipedia. See who owns them and possibly which way they “lean” (left or right for instance).

Alright, so now that you are schooled in spotting blog types and their content you can start searching for a great daily politics blog.

I suggest you immediately figure out what kinds of political blogs you want to follow before you start following them. You should have an idea of what you are trying to accomplish by reading a blog online. Are you trying to educate yourself? Are you looking for other people who will articulate your shared positions on politics? Or maybe you want to act like a media analyst by looking at daily politics blogs on both sides of the political spectrum!

Whatever you are looking for and wherever you might be on the political spectrum, there is really only one final step to finding a great blog you can follow every day and it involves Google.

Search Google for the words “politics blog” (or blogs) or “political blogs” (or blogs) while combining a word that specifies exactly what kind of material you want to see. For example, if you are a life long Republican in the United States you might want to put “conservative” or “Republican” in front of politics blog. If you are a centrist you might want to type “moderate” or “centrist” at the beginning. What you put in addition to the first words is up to you and will depend on your political views.

Using Google is the best way for newbies to get settled in to the political blogging world as the first page results are usually the more established personal and corporate blogs. Since so many mainly personal political blogs die in their first year (people just stop writing), using Google is the ideal first step. Keep in mind you can use other search engines but Google superior in my humble opinion.

Happy reading!

Cruising With 200 Of Your New Best Friends

If you can collect a group of friends, family, colleagues or even people you’ve never met but with whom you share a common interest, hobby, lifestyle, sport or passion to go on a cruise, you can cruise free. I think a 100% discount trumps a 50% discount any day of the week.

Arranging a group cruise is surprisingly easy to do as long as you consult a travel agent who specializes in group cruises. An experienced group consultant will help you determine the most important aspects of a group cruise: departure date plus which cruise line, ship and itinerary is best for your group. Best of all, you don’t have to fork over money, worry about booking cabins or mail out documents.

I consulted Alishah Kier, one of America’s Vacation Center’s affiliate travel agents who has been booking groups for eight years. I asked her to walk me through the steps of getting a bunch of people together, talking them into taking a cruise together.

The first step is deciding what the group will be; I discovered the list of potential groups is as long as my arm. A group is a bunch of people with something in common. They may be family, friends, church members, golf buddies, fellow gym rats, Republicans, Democrats, Independents, Jane Austen fans, computer geeks, people of Scottish – or any – ancestry, hikers, accountants, lawyers, photography buffs. Thanks to the Internet, it’s easy to target others who share my interests. In addition to the more obvious celebrations such as a wedding, sweet 16 party, birthday, wedding anniversary, bar mitzvah or high school/college reunions, group cruising may be used as a vehicle for fund raising or workshops. For example, Alishah worked with a minister in setting up a marriage retreat at sea. An added bonus is that meeting space and audio-visual equipment is available at no extra charge should your group need them.

Once the group is decided, it’s time to consult your group specialist. Alishah questions clients about the members of the group. “If they’re more conservative we’ll go with one cruise line whereas if they’re liberal, I might recommend resort casual. Have they cruised before and if so, what have their experiences been?” With this kind of information in hand, she’ll make recommendations for cruise lines and itineraries.

Alishah recommends a lead time of at least 15 months prior to departure. The more time you have, the easier it is to market the cruise and most people can commit to a trip that far in advance.

Once the ship, itinerary and departure date are determined, your cruise specialist will get the ball rolling with the cruise line. “An experienced agent knows what kind of cabins and the best locations to book.”, Alishah says. She says the minimum number of staterooms that can be reserved is eight and says that number can grow very quickly. She cites a minister who thought he wanted 15 cabins for a marriage retreat; his group ended up with 200 staterooms.

Your work involves marketing the cruise to prospective group members. Alishah helps clients create special brochures and gives a crash course on marketing, radio advertising and press releases for newspapers.

Alishah explained the logistics of booking a group cruise. A $25 deposit is expected 25 days after the group space is reserved. Each participant works directly with the the travel agent in booking the cruise from the initial deposit and cabin selection to obtaining cruise documents. Your group will have until 90 days prior to departure to get people and the total price is expected 70 days before departure.

An experienced group specialist can arrange a complimentary cocktail party for your group, reserve function rooms, special shore excursions and nice touches like champagne and chocolate delivered to staterooms. If your group needs special activities, such as tee time at island golf courses or break out rooms for seminars aboard ship, your travel agent will do that as well. If you have ten people or more in the group, Alishah will book group air space for you and arrange transfers between the airport and the pier.

So what about the free cruise? According to Alishah I only need 25 cabins to get a free cruise including port charges, taxes and fuel surcharge. Since I have plenty of time to find people interested in cruising in my group, it should be easy.

Layman’s Guide to the US Debt Ceiling Crisis

The ongoing ‘discussions’ or rather political point scoring for raising or not raising the US Debt ceiling, is not doing the US economy or the world much good at the moment.  Increasingly the US economy appears to be jittery, the people are in limbo and some have already lost their jobs as reported in today’s news.

So what exactly is the ‘debt ceiling’? Well it is the limit on the amount the U.S. Treasury is allowed to borrow, without further Congressional authorization, to manage the national debt (the total amount currently owed by the U.S. government). And don’t worry, upping the debt ceiling is not unusual, it’s already been increased 78 times since 1960 and this would make it the 11th time in the last decade -up $8 trillion since 2011- what does that tell you about our spending/gambling/fudged accounting by Governments in recent years…

With the US about to lose its authority to borrow more money under its current $14.3 trillion limit on August 2, this effectively means there won’t be the cash for it to pay all of its bills as per Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, so Treasury is currently working on a plan to decide who does get paid and who doesn’t- now that’s a really cheery thought! Basically the US Government will not be able to meet its existing obligations and pay its bills, whether they are for Treasury securities or Government Programs.

We’re getting closer and closer to the August 2 deadline with not much hope in sight with the Republicans and Democrats still not on the same page for the sake of the US short term or long term, not to mention the rest of the world. Most people have probably believed until now something would be worked out rather than send the economy into a further downward spiral and upset the global financial markets once again. Now, this seems a real possibility with the Federal Reserve preparing guidance for banks in the event the US debt limit isn’t raised and the Treasury Department runs out of money to pay all of its bills. Get your money out now people.

Even Blind Freddy can see that not raising the debt limit would have severe consequences. Of course, President Obama, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke all realise this but all the proposals put forward for trying to address the country’s budget deficit are just not going anywhere because everyone seems to differ on just how to begin to reduce that deficit.

Should the debt ceiling NOT be raised the consequences are likely to be major as alluded to previously. The US credit rating would be harmed and investors would end up charging higher interest rates for buying Treasury securities which in turn would increase the country’s borrowing costs, making the national debt problem even worse in the long term. Not to mention how the rest of the world would react with the world’s richest and most powerful nation in the poo.

The Tea Party Republicans (with a name like that, need we say any more!) and in Congress since all of January 2011, are definitely flies in the ointment for the negotiations to be finalised sooner rather than later. With Democrats suggesting failure to reach an agreement will be the fault of the Republicans there’s no love lost between anyone.

Any agreement also unlikely until the last minute is what we keep hearing – well, Hello – it’s now 29th July – didn’t think Congress met over the weekend.. However, when an agreement is finally reached it will likely be temporary as has happened before, albeit the US economy and debt level hasn’t been as high. But, it will then lead to several short-term debt ceiling increases before a longer-term agreement is reached.

Not being able to pay it’s bills or meet its obligations is unprecedented in US history. Let’s hope the US doesn’t start this trend on August 2.

Oh and I bet you can’t wait for the issue being debated  during the upcoming 2012 Presidential election campaign – how the US is going to deal with its budget deficit! Riveting stuff.