Archive for the ‘National Politics’ category

The First 100

January 4, 2007

As the clock ticks down to January 4th, when Democrats take control of the House and Senate, they are reminded of their “First 100 Hours” promises.  Those that may stand in the way of accomplishing Pelosi’s promises are not only Republicans, but anti-war Democrats as well.  Protesters lead by Cindy Sheehan, demanding that the Democrats cut funding for the war and bring the troops home beforedoing anything else, showed up during the Democrats press conference on lobby reform today.  They were so disruptive, that the intended speaker actually gave up and left the room. 

Pelosi has made many promises for the Democrats first 100 hours in control, but cutting funding and bringing the troops home was not one of them.  Will the extreme left wing of the Democratic Party keep the party from acting on the things they actually promised in the First 100 Hours?  Probably not.  Will they be very, very unhappy when they see that bringing the troops home is not the Democrats first priority?  Absolutely.  Will the American people see that the Democrats may be rendered ineffective by extremist elements they happily embrace during campaign fund raisers?  Time will tell.

 Let’s examine what Pelosi has promised for the First 100 Hours of the Democratically controlled Congress.  The first two are what would be considered the minimum.  The rest have been labeled as “if we have time”.

  1. Put new rules into place to break the link between lobbyists and legislation
  2. Enact ALL the recommendations made by the commission that investigated the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001
  3. Raise the Minimum Wage
  4. Cut Interest Rates on Student Loans in Half
  5. Allow government to directly negotiate with pharmaceutical companies to get a better price for medicare recipients
  6. Broaden stem cell research
  7. Pay as you go spending policy – no deficit increase

It will be interesting to watch the effectiveness of the Democrats over the next 100 hours, stay tuned for results.

Gay Sheep Are People Too?

January 1, 2007

sheep.jpg

According to the Times Online, Scientists at Oregon State University are conducting experiments to genetically remove traits in sheep that may cause them to be born with homosexual tendencies.  It has raised fears of one day being able to reverse homosexual tendencies in humans prior to birth.  This research, of course, raises many ethical and Constitutional questions. 

The ethical questions are numerous, but the primary issues can be summarized into two categories.  The first, animal rights involving genetic research.  Testing on animals has always contained a controversial element, and animal rights activists have fought hard to protect them against harm.  Genetically altering animals to eliminate certain traits would fall under the same category of genetically enhancing animals to possess certain desirable traits.  This practice has been going on for years involving livestock used in the agricultural industry.  It has been labeled by animal rights activists as cruelty, particularly when the desirable trait that may improve marketability leads to a decrease in the quality of life for the animal.  The second ethical category involves the assumption that the supposed homosexuality trait is bad.

When researchers begin studying how to remove homosexual tendencies genetically, it must be assumed that the researchers’ premise contains the idea that homosexual behavior is undesirable.  Some would agree with this statement.  Others would argue that homosexual behavior is benign in its effects on society as a whole.  Should researchers be able to make this “undesirable” determination unchecked?  If the research yields results, should mothers be able to have the option of removing the gene from unborn babies?  One possible result of this practice could potentially breed homosexuals out of existence. 

Constitutional issues must also be considered.  For example, if homosexuality is genetic, it would be assumed that the condition must be treated much like race as far as civil rights are concerned.  Therefore marriage, and all the benefits associated with it, are certainly in play. Homosexuals would have a much stronger Constitutional case under the Bill of Rights.Whether you view the issue as an ethical or Constitutional one, the consequences of genetic research on animals with homosexual tendencies could be dramatic.

The Name Game

December 21, 2006

Labeling certain people or certain types of groups negatively seems to be on the increase in society.  For example, it’s easy to call someone with a different point of view a “left wing cook” or a right wing wacko”.  We often hear these and other terms used by the talking heads on television; and we read them every day in the blogoshpere.  The labeling and wording used in posts (such as “track record of dishonesty”) only serve to inflame, rather than inspire, analytical debate.

Labeling someone in this manner is simply taking the lazy, easy, way out.  It is much easier to do this than, for instance, examine someone’s point of view and challenge it in the realm of political thought when it disagrees with your own.  Currently, the most popular form of labeling seems to be against the President of the United States.

Words like dumb, moron, imbecile, and stupid are used daily on a wide variety of blogs to describe Mr. Bush.  When these words are used to describe anyone, particularly the President, I usually stop reading a post at that point.  So what has the person posting achieved?  He certainly hasn’t changed my mind on any issue and has (to me) described with the use of one word or phrase exactly the type of person he is.  If one is looking to change the mind of someone else, usually the best method is not to resort to name calling of any kind.  Rather, challenge the ideas with counter points of your own in a clear, concise manner.

Too many talking heads and bloggers use the name calling, “hit and run”, method to try and express their points of view.  Following are some examples of posts, articles, and people that use labeling to try and bolster their own beliefs by tearing down others.  Are they contributing anything to the public debate?  Do they care?

PresidentMoron.com / Canadian official called Bush ‘a moron’ / Another Idiot in Congress / Another Virginia Congressional Whack Job / The Outrageous Silence of Dumb & Dumber

Some of these sites even have some interesting ideas, but most are simply full of hate.  For those that actually do have good content, it’s too bad that all but other’s who already have similar points of view have turned a deaf ear once the name calling begins.  For no one with an opposing point of view is going to sift through the trash to find a coherent argument.  If the objective of the writter is to change the opinions of those who do not agree, he has not acheived his goal.

Thanks to Stephen for his comments on my post “Should We Stay or Should We Go?“.  His contributions assisted me in shaping my point of view on this issue.

Dems’ Grade Updated

December 20, 2006

The first update of The Dems’ Grade is complete.  The grade rose a bit from it’s original B- to a B.  Although the national unemployment rating slipped a tenth of a percentage point, the rise is negligible.  Additionally, the rise in the 30 year fixed mortgage standard was offset by a climbing Dow Jones Industrial Average, NASDAQ Composite Index, and S&P 500 Index.

 You may remember that The Report Card began grading the Democrats just after the election.  This was done because, although they are not yet in power, the 2006 election put Democrats in a position to take some of the credit for government’s successes and failures.  As future events unfold, other categories may be monitored as well as the one’s currently displayed on the page.  As always, you are welcome to suggest categories that should be added for future grading.

Clinton / Obama Ticket May Spell Dem Disaster

December 19, 2006

With the buzz beginning regarding the 2008 Presidential Campaign, certain candidates are already starting to stand out as “front runners”.  Recently, some liberal talking heads have seemed almost giddy over the prospect of a ticket containing both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.  Even some Republicans admit that the prospect of this ticket has them fearful of Democrats taking the White House in 2008.  But before Democrats parade their anointed ones to the stage at the Democratic Convention, they may want to consult the history books.

 Since practically anything can happen between now and the primaries (character assassination, scandal, insufficient funds to continue), it is virtually impossible to know who will come out ahead after Super Tuesday.  However, recent history shows us that an electable ticket must have a Southern name on it.  Only one ticket since 1929 has succeeded in winning the White House without one.  The exception was Republican Richard Nixon (California) when he ran successfully with Spiro Agnew (Maryland) in 1968 and 1972.  Does this spell doom for a Clinton / Obama ticket in 2008?  Possibly, but arguments can be made for this ticket eluding the history books as well.

Some will argue that Hillary Clinton is from the South.  After all, Bill Clinton was governor of Arkansas before earning his ticket to the White House.  However, Hillary has solidified herself as a New York politician with her Senatorial victories; and has primarily been backed by northeast liberal donations.  Others will argue that this ticket will be about breaking more than just one historical norm; as the first Presidential ticket with an African American and a woman on it.  Will the novelty of the ticket be enough to override the influence Southern States seem to have on our electoral process?  Only time will tell.

Should the Democrats decide (due to history or other factors) that a Clinton / Obama ticket is not the best option for 2008, then what would the alternatives be?  Although it seems a bit ridiculous to begin seriously discussing candidates with the election more than 22 months away, the last few elections have shown that those who can get a jump start on fund raising often have the advantage going into Iowa and New Hampshire.  Of course a lot can happen in 22 months, but just for fun let’s use the historical formula depicted above to see who may have good potential for a 2008 victory.  This list was obtained from Wikipedia, and can be found here.

Rebuplican
John Cox – Illinois
Michael Smith – Oregon
Sam Brownback – Kansas
Duncan Hunter – California
Rudy Giuliani – New York
John McCain – Arizona
Tommy Thompson – Wisconsin
Jim Gilmore – Virginia
Newt Gingrich – Georgia
Chuck Hagel – Nebraska
Mike Huckabee – Arkansas
Frank Keating – Oklahoma
George Pataki – New York
Mitt Romney – Massachusetts
Tom Tancredo – Colorado
Democrat
Mike Gravel – Alaska
Dennis Kucinich – Ohio
Tom Vilsack – Iowa
Joe Biden – Delaware
Wesley Clark – Arkansas
Hillary Clinton – New York
Christopher Dodd – Connecticut
John Edwards – North Carolina
John Kerry – Massachusetts
Barack Obama – Illinois
Bill Richardson – New Mexico
Al Sharpton – New York

This may get a bit controversial, but let’s pair this list down to those that I consider to actually have a shot at making it to Super Tuesday.  Based on lack of national name recognition (i.e. lack of funding), we’ll eliminate the following candidates: Cox, Smith, Hunter, Gilmore, Hagel, Keating, Tancredo, and Gravel. Based on idealistic beliefs (i.e. too far right or left), we’ll eliminate the following candidates: Brownback, Gingrich, Kucinich, Clark, and Sharpton. We will also eliminate those candidates who have successfully obtained their party’s nomination before and lost, as very few are nominated again: Kerry, Edwards. Anyone’s blood boiling yet, I told you it would get controversial.

Rebuplican
Rudy Giuliani – New York
John McCain – Arizona
Tommy Thompson – Wisconsin
Mike Huckabee – Arkansas
George Pataki – New York
Mitt Romney – Massachusetts
Democrat
Tom Vilsack – Iowa
Joe Biden – Delaware
Hillary Clinton – New York
Christopher Dodd – Connecticut
Barack Obama – Illinois
Bill Richardson – New Mexico

From the list above, something interesting develops:  there are no candidates from the South remaining on the Democratic side of the list.  If the assumptions made above regarding who will make it to Super Tuesday prove accurate, history would indicate that the Democratic ticket may have some electability problems come election day.  To be fair, this assumes that Republicans have someone from the South on their ticket (Mike Huckabee).  Should the Republicans come away from their National Convention without a southern candidate on the ticket, the election would seem to be a toss up, historically speaking.

Although any of the assumptions made above may become moot as we get closer to the primaries and election day, they are no more unrealistic than those political pundants who are already overjoyed by the prospect of a Clinton / Obama Presidential ticket.  Personally, assuming the Republicans have a Southern politician on the ticket, I would love to see a Clinton / Obama Democratic ticket.  After all, historical data is very rarely wrong when predicting who will win the Presidency.

Saudi Arabia Gets It, Why Can’t The Extreme Left?

December 13, 2006

The New York Times is reporting that Saudi Arabia has told the Bush administration that it may financially assist Iraqi Sunni’s in any war that breaks out with the Shiites due to an American troop withdrawal.

What I fail to understand is the reasoning behind those on the left who continue to insist that Congress pull funding and bring our troops home now.  Do they not comprehend what the rest of the world finds to be such an obvious concept?  Is it entirely impossible for them to realize that American troops are the only plug in a genocidal dam that would most likely burst as soon as the last American boot left Baghdad?

Arguments can be made on both sides as to whether or not Iraq is already engulfed in civil war.  That point, however, is minor compared to what would happen  if American troops would leave before the country is stabilized.  Should Saudi Arabia support the Suni’s, and Iran Support the Shiites after an American pull-out, it is quite possible that the “civil war” in Iraq would grow into a regional conflict.  We, as American’s, cannot allow this to happen. 

Once we began this conflict by ousting Saddam from power, going home at our convenience was no longer an option.  Immediate withdrawal just isn’t a valid choice given the current situation.  It’s time all Americans wake up to this reality. 

Should We Stay or Should We Go?

December 13, 2006

In his speech announcing his candidacy for President in 2008, Dennis Kucinich said he was running because the Democratic Party has been ineffective in getting our troops out of Iraq.  According to Yahoo News, Kucinich said “”We Democrats were put back in power to bring some sanity back to our nation…We were expected to do what we said we were going to do — get out of Iraq.”

Even though Kucinich has been in Congress for 12 years, perhaps he hasn’t taken the time to study the workings of American Government.  His party has not yet taken power.  How can he claim this prior to his party taking Congressional power back?  It is an interesting question, however, as Kucinich probably sees the Democrats as unwilling to cut funding for the troops and simply pull out of the war.  If the Democrats do not cut funding, would they be neglecting campaign promises?  Not necessarily.

As is the case with most politicians, many Democrats did not put a time line on this promise.  Therefore any action, including acting only in an advisory role to the President, could be construed as living up to their promise…as long as it leads to America getting out of Iraq, eventually.  Kucinich, and others who demand an immediate withdrawal, can be considered farther left than the mainstream Democrat.  Most Democrats, as well as Republicans, agree that an immediate withdrawl would lead to cataclysmic consequences for the Iraqi people.  I contend that an immediate withdrawal would be the most morally bankrupt action the United States has ever taken.

Those who fail to see what effect an immediate withdrawal  would have on Iraqi’s, not to mention the entire Middle East, are so wrapped up in their ideological beleifs that the probable massive loss of life following such a decision seems of little consequence to them.  Should this extreme leftist viewpoint prevail, the genocide would most likely be blamed on the Bush administration.

The current administration is to blame for the loss of life (Iraqi, American, and others) that has already occurred in Iraq.  Because of it’s previous actions, the administration would certainly share the blame of any genocide that would occur after American withdrawal; but if that withdrawal is immediate, the far left will also be to blame for the political pressure they have placed on the administration.  Although unpopular, the best course of action is to stay until the job is done.  Changing strategy instead of staying the course is a good idea, but that strategy must include Iraqi stability prior to American withdrawal.