Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Yo, Joe!

I'll admit it. I prefer Joe Biden as president over both Edwards and Obama. I saw him give the best political speech I've ever heard back in '04. And that includes President Clinton and Obama's '04 convention speech.

But I like Biden for reasons other than his oratory. He's a pretty wonky guy who has delivered some common sense legislation for longer than Edwards and Obama have been in public office--combined. The latest is his amendment to get money for the COPS program. From his website:
Senator Biden is the author of the 1994 Crime Law that is widely credited with helping to create the lowest crime rates in decades, and has been pushing to get this legislation passed, particularly in light of recent FBI statistics that show a steady increase in violent crime. Last summer the FBI released its 2005 Uniform Crime Reports and found that murders were up 3.4%. Also, the Police Executive Research Forum recently released an updated examination of crime numbers from 56 cities around the country. They examined the two year trends and found that total homicides were 10.6% higher in 2006 than they were in 2004. Homicide rates in major cities across America were even higher according to the study, which reported 20% increases in Baltimore, Charlotte, Charleston, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Newark, and Seattle, among others.
Biden isn't my first choice, but he's not far behind my top two choices (Clark, Richardson) because of his pragmatism and understanding of how to get things done. In a fair world, he'd be getting a lot more publicity than he currently is. He is spoken of a lot when foreign policy is discussed, but his deep understanding of domestic issues is really quite impressive.

It's a shame that experience and results don't matter much in today's presidential politics.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

This guy should consider running for president

In a stunning move demonstrating that innovative, "out-of-the-box" thinking we've heard so much about, State Senator Dan Patrick (Idiot-TX) has proposed a gameshow-esque solution to the abortion debate. In his brilliant, brilliant scheme, the State of Texas would offer $500 in exchange for the pregnant woman not having an abortion.
It's libertarian "Deal-or-No Deal" policies like this that remind us of the power and grace of the American entrepreneurial spirit. And to think the idea is being criticized as "violating Texas laws against buying babies"!

"If this incentive would give pause and change the mind of 5 percent of those women, that's 3,000 lives. That's almost as many people as we've lost in Iraq," Patrick said.

Yes. If only we could have somehow prevented deaths in Iraq.
Hey! Maybe we could use a bizarre bribery program there, too!

[CNN: Texas lawmaker offers choice: Abortion or $500]

Friday, March 23, 2007

Good News For Richardson

Finally. Some good news for the most decorated and experienced Democrat in the presidential field, Bill Richardson. He just landed the support of Howard Dean's former pollster. I might be a little biased because I grew up in New Mexico, but if you want more than cheap and easy rhetoric, Bill Richardson is worth another look. It's a shame that a former UN ambassador (frequently called on for diplomatic efforts), who was also Secretary of Energy gets so little press when our country is in such a dire situation internationally and trying to develop an alternative energy policy. Oh yeah, he's also the popular governor of a key swing state in the "important" West. How he manages to go under the radar is beyond me.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

I Hope Everything Is OK

I know I haven't said much nice about Edwards lately, but I have been meaning too. He's taking some serious steps of late and has now moved above Obama on my list. I'm a little worried about the latest news on Edwards. I know he hurts my top candidates chances, but I hope he drops out for political, rather than personal reasons.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Do Unions Make the US Less Secure?

I'm up late working and not entirely focused on the news, but this was quite the jaw dropper:
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) criticized the legislation, saying it would weaken U.S. security overall by "pumping for big labor." By allowing the workers to unionize, Democrats "would make the Department of Homeland Security more like the Department of Motor Vehicles," he said.
Really, what else is there to say? According to mainstream Republicanism (only 10 GOPers voted for the 9/11 recommendations bill in question), skilled union workers are a threat to American security.

Welcome to Grover Norquist's America, folks!

Revisiting Don't Ask, Don't Tell

Life long Republican and former Senator from Wyoming, Alan Simpson, thinks it's worth reviewing and overturning the anti-gay "don't ask don't tell" policy. I don't have much to add to what Senator Simpson says since I share many of the same thoughts. But one thing he says is worth pointing out:
First, America's views on homosexuals serving openly in the military have changed dramatically. The percentage of Americans in favor has grown from 57 percent in 1993 to a whopping 91 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds surveyed in a Gallup poll in 2003.
Young people, and the ones most likely to be joining the military these days, overwhelmingly support this idea. It's time the older folks start looking to the views of the people who will be serving instead of their own outdated views. It's not just about equality, it's about national security.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Leave Me Out Of It, Senator Obama!

I'm a little tired of hearing Obama say that our enemy is cynicism, subtly implying that Dems are equally to blame for the current political problems. I find that offensive. It wasn't Democrats who spent tens of millions of dollars trying to "nail" Clinton, who had an illegal phone-jamming operation in New Hampshire, who sent harassing and misleading phone calls to voters in key battleground districts; it wasn't Democrats these past 6 years who have abused the power of the presidency, who decimated FEMA, attacked the American safety net and screwed over our veterans. It was the GOP.

The cynicism that I see is from the fact that Bush and the GOP have continually topped themselves on incompetence and dishonesty. I never trusted Bush to do a good job (I didn't vote for him in 2000 or 2004), but even I was surprised just how atrocious he turned out to be on so many different issues.

Based on their records and achievements, I have Obama over Edwards. But Obama's consistent lumping the Democrats in the same league, however subtly, is making me reevaluate that. Our problems are predominately one-sided at this point. Blurring that distinction gives the Republicans who have most contributed to the current cynicism some cover.

I'm tired of hearing Cheney and Fox News say that I want to help the terrorists. I'm also tired of Obama implying that I'm part of the current political problems. I realize he may not have a campaign if he stops, but it's starting to wear a little thin.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

The Politics of 2Pac

There are many contradictions that surround 2Pac's worldview that weren't addressed in his biographical movie, 2Pac Resurrection. But he has provided me with a lot of things to think about. For instance, this snippet from his song, "Dear Mama":
They say I'm wrong and I'm heartless, but all along
I was lookin for a father he was gone
I hung around with the Thugs, and even though they sold drugs
They showed a young brother love
I moved out and started really hangin
I needed money of my own so I started slangin
I ain't guilty cause, even though I sell rocks
It feels good puttin money in your mailbox
I love payin rent when the rent's due
I hope ya got the diamond necklace that I sent to you
There is so much in there when you take a close look at it. Not every child is lucky enough to have loving parents and that, as Hillary Clinton would say, "it takes a village" to make sure that our children have enough support and love.

I don't agree with his justification for selling drugs, but there is definitely something wrong with our society when a lot of young people feel that the only way to "pay rent when the rent's due" is by selling drugs. No young child should ever feel that way and its our failure. I know there are some who will talk about personal responsibility--and I agree that we are all responsible for ourselves--but when young Americans no longer have the ability to dream of a promising future, we are failing miserably.

Not sure if it's kosher to post 2Pac on a political website, but here I go anyway:

American Liberalism

It's pretty well known that self-described conservatives outnumber self-described liberals. But, as Kevin Drum notes,
Harris has been tracking liberal vs. conservative ID for several decades, and the numbers have been pretty rock solid. Ronald Reagan made conservatism slightly more popular and Clinton made it slightly less, but the changes have been modest and today we're in almost precisely the same spot as we were in 1976. What's more, the fact that this supposedly conservative country continues to favor operational liberalism hasn't changed much either. Apparently we just don't like to admit it.
I think this is important to remember and is part of the Republican overreach. We saw this with the Social Security scare. We are seeing the appreciation of liberal ideas in many states that are demanding the federal government do more to provide insurance for all children. Republicans tried to cram their conservative agenda and Americans don't like it. That's not to say that Iraq hasn't been a catalyst, but that is a symptom of the failures of conservative governance.

I consider myself a moderate because I think a deep skepticism about getting government involved in our lives is healthy. But I think there are real reasons why Americans overwhelmingly support some bedrock liberal policies: Social security, public education, medicare/medicaid, etc. We like things that work and make the country better. It just so happens that many liberal policies work and make the country better.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Hagel Announces Press Conference On Monday

Steve Clemons spreads the word.

Is Hagel Jumping In?

It looks like he is getting close:
Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel has not announced whether he will run for president in 2008. But his decision to tell two labor groups that he wants to participate in their upcoming presidential "cattle calls" might be showing his hand, according to the firefighter and construction groups which are slated to hear from the Nebraska senator in Washington, D.C. over the next three weeks.

"It was made absolutely clear to him that he was coming to speak at a forum where all the major presidential candidates were invited to speak," said Jeff Zack, a spokesman for the International Association of Fire Fighters, regarding Hagel's decision to speak to the firefighters in Washington, D.C. on March 14.
I've mentioned before, this could be a problem for the top three Dems. Hagel has one of the most extreme conservative voting records in Congress but comes across as a moderate. The GOP would be foolish to ignore him because he disagrees with the administrations current war strategy. After all, that would mean that the GOP supports: lack of body armor for the soldiers, extended and extra tours for the soldiers, no clear political strategy or even exit strategy.

Hagel is the one Republican I fear in this race. However, he is one of the few Republicans that doesn't come across as purely ambitious or as someone who would sink as low as the other top GOPers already have. Yeah, I'm scared of him, but I'd like a good fight over the issues. I think we'll get that most with Hagel.

Monday, March 05, 2007

What I Like About Obama

I interrupt my Obama bashing to note the postives I find in his candidacy. He constantly emphasizes that government shouldn't be the answer to all of our problems, but neither should it be unfair. Our govenment is of the people and should be for the people. Responsible government can be a powerful force for good. That belief is what drove me to drop the charade that I am not a Democrat. Perhaps I take for granted that sentiment and its relation to the Democratic Party, but if that isn't something that differentiates the Democratic Party then it's great the we have someone like Obama championing that idea.

Second, in his latest book he talks about the importance of empathy. I think that's important too. My political philosophy is very much aligned with that of John Rawls' updated "Theory of Justice" and the whole "veil of ignorance" concept. Not only does this apply to social/economic situations, but it also applies to the beliefs of different people. I have strong views that may not be shared by everyone and its important to approach problems with others' views in mind. I don't mind partisan views and debates, but its unfortunate if after strong passionate debates we cannot remain cordial or even friends with our opponents. If this seems like a novel idea, then we need to have Barack Obama running and championing this common sense idea.

Third, at the danger of having a Joe Biden moment, I think it is great that a black man can be on the verge of the presidency. Even if he doesn't win, he's proof that a person of color can make it on any level. Growing up as a minority myself, I was told that I wasn't smart enough or good enough. Unfortunately, there wasn't always prominent contemporary heroes to look up to beyond my parents in which to challenge the negative stereotypes. Having Barack Obama, along with Bill Richardson and Hillary Clinton in the top five in the Democratic running is something I find extremely inspiring because it gives the finger to old stereotypes.

Finally, though I don't think hope in and of itself will solve problems, its nice to believe in something. These days it is way to easy to get disheartened or frustrated and a little hope isn't such a bad thing.

I will be critiquing Obama down the road--after all, I do support another candidate--but that shouldn't be taken as a lack of respect and admiration. Nor should it ever diminish the postive aspects he brings to this race.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

The Evangelical Choice

Rudy Giuliani is pro-choice and in favor of same-sex unions, though, it seems, not same-sex marriage--definitely not a cultural conservative. But he also is also close to Grover Norquist on economic matters. A "you're on your own" type.

I'm interested to see where the evangelical voters stand on Giuliani--there are hints many are starting to warm up to him. I can understand and sympathize with people who are not comfortable voting for for a pro-choice candidate or a candidate in favor of same-sex institutions. I can somewhat understand them voting for an anti-choice, anti-gay candidate even though that candidate gives the shaft to people lower on the economic ladder.

But what of a candidate that is the worst of both worlds? I'd be very interested to see the justifications of those who would support the "socially liberal", economically conservative Giuliani over a "socially liberal" and economically progressive Democrat. I'm interested, not for any "gotcha" reasons, but I'd like to understand the philosophical arguments--political philosophy has been a hobby of mine for years. Ralph Reed tried to argue this at one point, but he has no credibility and his argument was pretty lame.