January 31, 2007

If I ran things around here: #1

I've done a variety of working over the past several years, and, yeah, though I'm still young and pretty naive, I have a couple ideas that I think could make America a better place.

During the summer of 2005, I worked at a gas station (which shall remain nameless) in Brunswick, Ohio. People of all stripes came in, from Gary Kucinich (Dennis' brother who ran in the Dem primary for the 13th Ohio Congressional district) to stoner high school kids wanting to buy blunt wraps for their "tobacco" (or at least that's what they said it was for.) I was informed that McDonald's was always hiring when I didn't immediately authorize a pump (which sent me off to the bathroom in tears - that dude was a jerk and a half) and was twice accused of stealing money from the registers (something that I've always considered myself and have been above doing). One of the things that people on welfare/food stamps can do in the state of Ohio - and likely elsewhere - is purchase cigarettes and junk food. So here it comes: if I ran things around here #1.

If I ran things around here, no one would be allowed to use food stamps to purchase cigarettes, sodas, or junk food. Cigarette smoking and junk food eating (or gorging) create a further drag on an already taxed health-care system and if you're going to waste taxpayer money, you'd best waste it on a Bridge to Nowhere.
By no means am I saying people shouldn't eat 2 bags of Doritos, drink 3 2-liters of Pepsi, or smoke 1 1/2 packs of Camels a day, but what I am saying is that they should be spending their own money on it. What do I think should food stamps and welfare money be spent on? The basic stuff. No, not Basics. Basic food stuffs, like bread, eggs, milk, fruits, vegetables, meats, potatoes. You know, stuff that only clogs you arteries when used in combination.

How would this be accomplished? Well, we can figure out how to tax certain items and not others, we should be able to divvy up what can and cannot be purchased with food stamps. It's not that hard, it's just a matter of getting politicians to do what's right for country as a whole and not small-minded interests for a change.

Well, that actually is pretty hard.

But that's just the first thing on a whole laundry list of matters which I think ail our modern American society.

Next time: If I Ran Things Around Here, #2


Rumors abound!

Was it Hillary's camp who started the Obama madrassah rumors?

Wow. While it is not entirely surprising to me that Clinton's campaign would come out hot and quick on the attack, what is surprising, should this be true, is the nature of the attack. The current climate towards anything ending in "-slim" or "-slam" that isn't Slim Fast or body slam wouldn't and couldn't be described as warm and fuzzy. And Hillary's folk know this, but you'd think they'd be above it this early in the game. IF THIS IS TRUE, I think they view Obama as a tremendous threat and must work quickly to discredit him or otherwise deface his repute.

Buckle up, folks. We've got a long 21+ months ahead of us. (21, right? Er... something.)


Molly Ivins, 1944-2007

Molly Ivins, Texan and writer, has passed away today at age 62.

(Click image for NYTimes article.)

May her soul rest in peace.


January 26, 2007

Snopes debunks claim about Obama

H/T to Donklephant.

Here is the Snopes article.

What can we do when people who are below spinmeisters attack someone like Obama? Fight back with truth. Maybe that's why John Kerry lost. That or he was a heinous candidate.

No more worries about John Kerry, anymore, though.

Speaking of straw polls...

Here's a random find from the Maricopa County, Arizona GOP.

From Sonoran Alliance:

On Saturday, January 13th at the Maricopa County Republican meeting, a straw poll was conducted on the 2008 Presidential candidates and the reasons why the Republican faithful thought we lost the election last November. Here are those results:

458 Ballots cast

First Choice for Presidential Candidate:
1 Hunter 96
2 Romney 82
3 Gingrich 53
4 McCain 50
5 Rice 27
6 Tancredo 24
7 Giuliani 22
8 Brownback 14
9 Huckabee 10
10 Hagel 2
11 Barbour 1
12 Pataki 0
Unacceptable Presidential Candidates:
1 McCain 282
2 Hagel 272
3 Pataki 260
4 Giuliani 213
5 Barbour 113
6 Brownback 108
6 Huckabee 108
7 Rice 91
8 Tancredo 85
9 Gingrich 81
10 Hunter 71
11 Romney 65
Acceptable Presidential Candidates:
1 Rice 269
2 Gingrich 265
3 Romney 239
4 Tancredo 219
5 Barbour 182
6 Brownback 178
7 Huckabee 167
7 Hunter 167
8 Giuliani 157
9 McCain 89
10 Pataki 70
11 Hagel 28
Republicans lost last November because:
Primary Reason Iraq 136
Secondary Reason Spending 115
Tertiary Reason Too Lenient on Immigration 94


It's interesting to note the strong opposition to McCain in this poll. While this, again, is early and it is hardly indicative of Republicans on a national level, it is interesting to note McCain's unpopularity amongst this segment of Arizona Republicans. George Pataki's finishing with 0 first-place votes and a high amount of unacceptability votes also makes known the dislike of the idea of a liberal northeast Republican running for President amongst this segment of the voting public. The same may also be said for Rudy Giuliani, though he did finish with 22 first-place votes.

I find it also interesting to note that Mitt Romney was the least unfavorable amongst this group. Given the "hype" that the media has given him because of his religion, I would have expected his performance in this poll to be much worse. I really think that his religion will become less of an issue and that other Republicans and Democrats can't count on stirring up some pathetic attack on his faith.

Another interesting note: Condi Rice finishes first amongst acceptable candidates, has a low unacceptability factor, and finishes in the middle of the pack overall. If this is a local or a national trend, I don't know, but it's something worth looking at.

(About the Sonoran Alliance, from their about page: We are an Alliance of Political Writers and Activists Dedicated to Promoting Conservative Thought and Principles in the Sonoran Southwest.)


January 25, 2007

The PBD straw poll: Obama wins

Redhorse, over at Psychobilly Democrat, posted the results of a straw poll taken amongst "local" (including bloggers). I use the parentheses with local, as I must disclose that I was a participant in the straw poll and am no longer very local to Northeast Ohio. That being said, there were some interesting results in an admittedly small sample.

I've said it, though not on the blog, and the polling results reflect it: Bill Richardson has the potential to be the Democratic darkhorse in 2008. He's got credentials shooting out the wazoo and he's got appeal, at least to me. Richardson finished fourth in total polling (59 points), finishing just behind Al Gore (60 points).

John Edwards has maintained his recognition amongst the politically knowledgeable, at least in the small NE Ohio smaple, and his populist message may resonate with voters. Edwards came in second (72 points).

Finishing well ahead of anyone is a name that people hear alot, but know very little about. Barack Obama came in first place (91 points). I think, personally, that Obama fever will peter out by the time next year rolls around, but I could be wrong. I mean, I didn't think Dennis Kucinich would be stupid, selfish, or arrogant enough to "run" for President again. Incorrect was I. More remains to be seen from Obama, though.

In a surprising fifth place finish was Hillary Clinton (35 points). Clinton came in second amongst female participants in the straw poll, running behind Obama.

Redhorse also breaks down the blogger distribution, which has Obama and Edwards running slightly closer than in the generic poll, and also has Richardson beating out Al Gore. A sign of things to come?

Probably not, when the baseline has only been established. In the era of instantinfo and YouTubeology, progress (or regress) tends to be swift and unforgiving. We must wait to see who can make the most progress... or least regress.


January 24, 2007

John Kerry finally makes a politically saavy move

Massachusetts Senator and 2004 Democratic Presidential nominee John Kerry announced today that he would not be seeking the same office he sought in 2004, but rather is focusing on getting re-elected to a fifth term in the Senate and organizing opposition to the war in Iraq.

The NYT article here.

I must applaud Senator Ghoul... err... Kerry, from Taxa... er... Massachusetts for finally understanding that his foot may be too much for his mouth and that his days seeking an office that demands less goofy-lookingness are, once and for all, over. The last thing the Democrats need is an individual whose last public foray was a terribly botched "joke" that further cast him as some sort of aloof Northeast "liberal".

What does this mean? It appears to me the Democratic 2008 nomination race is becoming everyone vs. Hillary campaign. A John Kerry absence from it removes all sorts of levels of distraction.

For once, Senator Kerry, a decision that is right. And for that, I applaud you.


Thoughts on the SOTU

Pretty much as I expected and was covered in the ABP that I posted previously.

Seeing McCain asleep on FNC made my night, though. Drudge had a story of McCain's "two-eye rest" up with a screenshot. I'll have to dig through cache to find it.

Redhorse did a very good recap of it, though. Go. Read it.

Democratic response:

Not many other thoughts for the time being, though.


January 23, 2007

SOTU propaganda from the POTUS' office

Read it before he botches it.

State of the Union: Upset

President Bush will be delivering the State of the Union address tonight.

I don't expect anything surprising, just more justification of the war in Iraq and calls for bipartisanship now that he's dealing with two (D) chambers. No grand plans. Just more of the same nothingness.

Hip hip hooray for non-leaders.

Democratic response? I don't know what it might entail, apart from "I'M against it."

Pardon the mood.


January 22, 2007

Richardson: In

New Mexico governor Bill Richardson has officially announced his candidacy for the 2008 presidential race.

Richardson for President

I was watching Good Morning America (which is feeling more and more like Good Morning Baghdad) and they did not mention Richardson's candidacy, but rather spent their opening segment blathering about something which the whole country has been aware of for more than the greater part of a decade: Hillary Clinton running for President. It bothers me that there's this air of celebrity in politics, because that's what Hillary Clinton is. Hillary Clinton is the Paris Hilton of the political world, less the sex tapes (eww.) Barack Obama is the same: all hype and no one knows shit about what he stands for, just what he (and 95% of all Democrats) stands (or sits) against.

The modern mainstream media stands in diametric opposition of what good media should do: report news and not speculate. Our modern media, in particular the television media, is all in the business of "gotcha" journalism. Just ask Howard Dean about the "scream" and ask anyone who was in the room.


The media make the rules and if you break their rules, they will break you.


January 20, 2007

Hillary 2008, Richardson soon to follow

Adding to the mass chaos which is quickly becoming the race for the Presidency in 2008, Hillary Clinton finally announced her candidacy for President.

Baggage? Yes. But she is a centrist, no matter how the other side would like to paint her.

Also looking to announce this weekend is New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, a former member of the Clinton administration.

BTW: since I'm now in Georgia, you'll be finding a new listing of local blogs that I will be adding in my sidebar.


January 11, 2007

By the way...

Don't forget it.

Steve LaTourette (OH-14) does the right thing

My current Congressman, Steve LaTourette (R-14), was one of 8 Republican legislators in the House of Representatives to send President Bush a letter to ask for an end to the lunacy that has become our government's policy on Iraq. From the San Jose Mercury News

In the House, eight Republicans sent Bush a letter warning him that adding troops would make matters in Iraq worse. They said there was no evidence that more American forces could stop the sectarian violence, and that an increase would deepen Iraqi dependence on the United States, reduce the number of American troops poised to respond to other crises around the world and give al-Qaida more recruiting power.

The eight were Reps. Walter B. Jones and Howard Coble of North Carolina, Ron Paul of Texas, Wayne Gilchrest and Roscoe Bartlett of Maryland, John Duncan of Tennessee, Phil English of Pennsylvania and Steven LaTourette of Ohio.

From The Plain Dealer's Openers

Congressman Steve LaTourette, a Republican from Lake County, is among the Republican lawmakers against President Bush's proposal to send more troops to Iraq.

In a letter to be sent to Bush but still being circulated for congressional signatures this morning, in advance of Bush's prime-time address tonight, LaTourette and several other Republicans said:

"Dear Mr. President,

"We fully support your consideration of alternatives to the
current U.S. policy in Iraq and eagerly await your announcement of a new
U.S. strategy. We respectively urge you not to include an escalation or
"surge" of U.S. military forces as part of that new strategy."

But LaTourette is the only Ohioan to sign the letter. Other Ohio Republicans are not as certain. Ralph Regula says that he wants to give new U.S. military leaders in Iraq a chance to decide what's best. Those new leaders are Admiral William Fallon, leading the Central Command, and Lt. General David Petraeus, who will lead the forces in Iraq.

While there should be no rush to send more forces, Regula says, that does not mean he's against a surge. "I'm not against a surge. I'm not necessarily for sending 20,000 (troops) next week. I think the president's going to say that this is one of the options available to the two new commanders...once they get the lay of the land."

Look for other Republicans to pose a raft of questions: Where would the troops go? When? Would there be benchmarks to measure the performance of the mission? What will be demanded of Iraq's leadership?

Meantime, LaTourette leaves less room for ambivalence. The letter says:

"As members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have indicated in published reports, even a short-term escalation of the number of U.S. troops in Iraq could create larger problems in the long-term. It would increase Iraqi dependence on our forces, deplete our strategic reserve and force extended tours of duty for soldiers and Marines who are scheduled to return to their families. Hostile militias could respond by simply melting back into society until the surge is ended. The Pentagon has warned that an escalation of our troop levels in Iraq could lead to an increase in al-Qaeda attacks, provide more targets for Sunni insurgents and fuel the jihadist appeals for foreign fighters to attack U.S. soldiers."

And it concludes, "Mr. President, we applaud your re-assessment of U.S. strategy in Iraq. However, we urge you to reject any recommendation for either a short or long term increase in the number of U.S. troops. We are persuaded by all available evidence that an escalation of U.S. troop levels is not the way forward in Iraq."

UPDATE: The letter has now been sent to the White House, but only eight congressmen, all Republicans, signed it. Along with Walter Jones of North Carolina, who spearheaded it, the signers were John Duncan of Tennessee, Wayne Gilchrist and Roscoe Bartlett of Maryland, Phil English of Pennsylvania, Ron Paul of Texas, Howard Coble of North Carolina and LaTourette.

In a statement, LaTourette said, "Like many Americans, I desperately want America to succeed in Iraq and I would welcome a fresh approach. This isn't a fresh approach. This is more of the same."

As much as I am not a fan of Rep. LaTourette, I have to say that what he did was the right thing. He deserves that.

If only it wouldn't fall on deaf ears...


A little information on the move...

As most of you know, I will be moving to Athens, Georgia, on Monday, where it looks like I may be getting my MPA with a focus in Public Policy and (hopefully) minors in Spanish and Arabic.

In the meantime, I've been trying to get to know the area, what it's about, etc.

Athens, Georgia
Georgia Law and Government
Governor Sonny Perdue (R)
Senator Saxby Chambliss (R)
Senator Johnny Isakson (R)
(Warning to the weak of constitution: both of our Senators look like the living dead.)
Congressman Charlie Norwood (R-10)

Hmm... that's an awful lot of (R). Sad. Much work to do.


January 10, 2007

The burdens of freedom

That phrase seems like it should be an oxymoron, but given what context it was in, it seems fitting to be the title of this post. President Bush offered a prime-time offer to a prime-time nation tonight.

20,000 more troops in Iraq to be "embedded with Iraqi forces." 5 brigades are to go to Baghdad alone.

20,000 more troops to get us deeper into a morass. 20,000 more troops to endure a burden of freedom that the American public didn't ask for, but was sold on through false pretenses and outright lies.

He offered good ideas for the Iraqi end of the bargain: the Iraqi government is to appoint a military commander and two deputies. These commanders are to oversee 18 military police units, most of which are to be dedicated to the area around the capital. These units are to be run from local police stations and I think that this is a good idea... it seems like a grassroots effort of sorts. Gain the trust of your fellow countrymen by staying local. However, depending upon sectarian loyalties, it may actually exacerbate the problem.

Bush threw out a statistic that makes sense, but I didn't really realize until he said it: 80% of sectarian violence occurs within thirty miles of Baghdad.

"Millions of ordinary people are sick of the violence."

You said it, Mr. President.

"A democratic Iraq will be a country that fights terrorists instead of harboring them."

This is the logical fallacy that irritates me the most. A democratic Iraq will fight terrorism. What is democracy? Democracy is government by the will of the people. What if a democracy wills to allow terrorists? No, what Bush means is that a government friendly to American policy will "fight terrorists." And so long as that government is friendly towards US policy, Bush (and probably succeeding administrations) will label it as a democracy.

Such are the burdens of freedom.


House votes to raise the minimum wage

People on the lowest rung of the income ladder, not unlike myself, can expect to be getting raise: $7.25/hour.

House Votes To Raise Minimum Wage - from the NY Times.

The Senate needs to concur and its likely that the Senate version of the bill will include tax breaks for small business. I am fully in support of the Senate's effort at including the tax breaks for small business, given that small businesses are those hit hardest by wage increases. Now the question is whether or not the final conference bill will have $7.25/hour and the tax breaks. Of course there's that larger question: Will Bush sign the damned thing?

IF Bush vetoes it, can enough votes be accrued to override the veto?


January 5, 2007

One Hundred Hours

Democratic leaders of the legislature have an opportunity to make good on several campaign pledges.

O, furies, lay your arms at rest.

January 4, 2007