Monday, December 31, 2007

Bush takes a step towards helping Darfur

Today President Bush passed a bill allowing local and state governments to cut ties with Sudan. This was done in response to the genocide that is currently occuring in Darfur.

The legislation allows state, county, and municipal officials to seek ways to take out the money that they invested in companies that bring the Sudan government a lot of profit. These companies control oil, power production, mining, and military equipment.

I am so happy that Bush has finally started to do something about this issue. Like we have done in so many conflicts in the past (Armenian genocide, the Holocaust, etc.), we cannot just pretend that nothing is going on and do nothing.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Garbage Woes

In the San Francisco Chronicle, catering company owner Ari Derfel was profiled for his unusual quest to collect a year's worth of his personal trash to demonstrate how much waste a person creates in one year.

Derfel is now in his last month of collecting trash and ended up with about 96 cubic feet of waste.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Americans generate about 250 million tons of solid waste a year. As Derfel points out, "When we throw something away, what does 'away' mean?...There's no such thing as 'away.'" because "Each thing we throw away has been produced somewhere, shipped to a store, entered the home, and then is sent somewhere else - using up water, oil and land."

Do you think pollution and the subsequent event of global warming is a legitimate and/or looming threat? If you harbor concerns about the environment, will this affect who you vote for in the elections (based on their environmental platforms, rather than other factors)?

Bushy on Vacation

Did Bush shoot himself in the foot vetoing a military policy? Bush vetoed the bill because "of an obscure provision that could expose the new Iraqi government to billions of dollars in legal claims dating to Saddam Hussein's rule." Bush is now being accused of supporting troops in the past, and now not. But, is it fair? We learned in class how little provisions sneak into bills. This veto does not reflect Bush vetoing the entire bill, he is just upset at congress for trying to slide in a certain provision and therefore was forced to veto the entire bill.

The main question: How often are politicians misrepresented for voting against a bill because of one little provision? And how badly does it effect their profile? From this, it seems pretty bad to upset not just your opposing party but members of your own party as well!

http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/12/30/africa/veto.php

I want to know it all!

So this post was from a month or two ago, but I think it is quite interesting. The main problem I feel that effects American voters is the "best sounding idea", not the most realistic. Obama has plans on providing healthcare coverage to the 47 million Americans that currently do not have it. SOUNDS GREAT RIGHT? Well what this article goes on to say is that 1/3 of those 47 million Americans have the money for the insurance, but they just do not buy it. Now I am not saying anything like Obama has not thought out his ideas, I mean I should trust a man who graduated from Harvard right? And that is my point, HECK NO. Americans fall into the trap of voting based on these ideal proposals, but this one example shows that there are many controversial things with this plan and Americans need to see everything before they vote for the president who is going to stop World Hunger and bring World Peace.

http://www.time-blog.com/swampland/2007
/11/obama_rides_the_wine_track.html

Friday, December 28, 2007

With College on our mind, will we get to save a Dime?

Our friendly congress the other day apparently went to far according to our governors on a new higher-education bill that tells states how much money they must spend on their public colleges. Kind of sounds alright to me. Next year would it be great if the schools were nicer and there was money in our pockets? But, for all those out there the money has to come from somewhere now doesn't it? According to the NGA letter, "the new mandate 'would have a chilling, negative impact on future state higher-education investments.'"

Should our opinion count even if we are 17, I mean the ordeal effects us quite a bit. What do you think?

P.S. I came across this and I wanted to know if people thought things like this were funny, or are the absurd and should not be allowed?

http://www.overstock.com/Home-Garden/Hillary-Clinton-Nutcracker
/2568425/product.html

Pakistan Prime Minister Assassinated

Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated yesterday during a rally. Although it was originally thought that she was killed by a gunshot targeted at her by a suicide bomber (who is rumored to be associated with al Qaeda), they have recently discovered that she was actually killed by the shrapnel from the bomb.
Her funeral was held today along with riots throughout the country and throngs of people that brought the funeral procession to a standstill. (If you have not watched the news, watch to see her supporters surrounding her coffin showing how much they loved her.)
While this assassination was definitely expected, it still came as a shock and will have huge effects on the nation. Pakistan has its elections coming up soon; however, if they are postponed, it could be a huge set back to bringing the nation closer to democracy.
With terrorism coming back to the forefront of the news and many people´s minds, most of the presidential candidates have made speeches in response to this occurrence. While before Bhutto´s assassination the nation seemed to be most concerned with the economy, now it seems as if the nation is focusing again on terrorism. Presidential candidates with foreign experience like McCain and Giuliani may now have an advantage as terrorism once again consumes the nation. McCain even claimed that this may help him in the presidential race.
I personally think that it may help McCain and Giuliani as the nation changes its focus. What do you think?

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Choose Your Candidate

I have to admit that I've been pretty ignorant about the various presidential candidates, let alone their political positions.

But then I came across this online quiz! The quiz allows you to choose the candidate with the most similar beliefs to your own and it's great because it gives blurbs about each candidate's stance on 25 different issues.

Yes, taking the whole thing (and reading all the blurbs) takes a long time but you can skip to the end at any time.

You can check it out at:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/interactives/candidatequiz/

Senate meets for 11 seconds

While most of the White House and Senate had left Washington for the Christmas holiday, Democratic Senator Jim Webb stayed around for barely a minute. In the chamber for just 57 seconds, he called to order a Senate session and then closed it within 11 seconds. Senate majority leader Democrat Harry Reid claimed that "pro forma" sessions similar to this one will be held throughout the month of January.
The Democratic led Senate did this in order to stop President Bush from making any recess appointments. In the Constitution, the president is given the right to fill all top governmental positions for one year without consent from the Senate while Congress is in recess.
Earlier, talks between the President and the Democratic senators were held in order to avoid these short sessions. The senate said that the President could make as many appointments as he wished as long as he did not appoint Steven Bradbury as the head of the Office of Legal Counsel. However, the talks proved ineffective as Bush did not take the Democrats´offer and Reid did not approve Bush´s appointment of Bradbury.
What do you think? Do you feel that Bush did the right thing by not accepting the Democrats´ proposal? Are the Democrats doing the right thing by remaining in session and holding these short meetings?

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

For All You Sports Fans, and For All You Non Sports Fans

On Christmas Eve I flipped on to channel 38,
I did not find joy, nor Elima-Date.
Rather I watched as ESPN revealed,
That the Chicago Bull's Basketball coach disappeared.
Not literally but instead he was fired,
On Christmas even FIRED not HIRED!
Should things like this matter in the scheme of life?
Is it an insult, or just like any other day when he goes home and tells his wife?
They revealed that layoffs on New Years Day and Thanksgiving were not too rare,
But then again is life fair?
So to those who are strongly against lay-offs on "special" days,
Is there a solution or different ways?
Or should it not matter like the coach said for it is all sad,
Getting fired on any day is just as bad!

Some Holiday Cheer

Merry Christmas, Happy belated Hanukah, and for everything else or those who do not celebrate hope you are enjoying your break. So this anyone can reply to because it is a flat out opinion. Personally I do not mind it but I was wondering what everyone thought about how the biggest sales of the year are right after Thanks Giving, "Black Friday", and right after Christmas. What happens in the month of April, not too much but it seems like all sales are oriented around the Christmas activities. This may matter to some, others may not care, but I sure would like sales in May after I got my birthday money and I think it is not very fair :(!

A twist in the Writers Guild strike

Most everyone is aware that writers in Hollywood have been on strike for almost two months now -- since November 5. Collectively, they've lost $350 million in wages yet many strikers are apparently keeping an upbeat outlook as they are used to sporadic employment and they feel that they're working for the larger overall picture of labor movement.

However, the overall picture also contains 40,000 other workers such as electricians, carpenters, and prop makers who have been unvoluntarily out of work as a result of the writers' strike. The strike, which will probably benefit the writers, will not benefit these other employees who are not only losing paychecks but also hours for health insurance eligibility and pension coverage.

Do you think its fair for the other employees to suffer at the expense of the writers' strike? What could be done to fix this?

According to the Monthly Labor Review Online, the average length of work strikes in 2006 was 26.5 days, up from 20 days in 2005. The longest strike in 2006 lasted 211 days.

50 days into their strike, the writers are over the 2006 average but well under the longest strike that occurred last year. Will it do more harm than good all around to continue the strike?

Monday, December 24, 2007

Ron Paul may continue fighting after the primaries

Even though he does not seem to be doing well in the race for the Republican presidential candidate, we may see GOP hopeful Ron Paul after the GOP candidate has been announced even if it is not him.
In an interview on "Meet the Press" with Tim Russert, Paul implied that he may continue to pursue the presidency through a third party if he did not win the Republican primary election.
Paul has a history of running for president: once in the 1984 Republican primaries and then in the 1988 race as the Libertarian candidate.
With a loyal national following and incredible fundraising sums, he has a good chance of pursuing this.
What do you think? Would he be a good third party candidate? Would he add much to this election?

Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Dreaded Speeding Tickets

Yahoo had an "interesting" print today. They had an article that showed which states the heaviest speeding tickets occur in. I am not traveling this break, but is it okay for there to be such outrageous speeding fines? Especially if there are discrepancies between state's fines? I for one think it might be a little absurd once the State breaks the $400 dollar mark, but these states have fines above these. Seems like the states are taking advantage of their own residents and tourists!


http://finance.yahoo.com/family-home/article/104065/The-Most-Expensive-States-for-Speeding-Tickets-2007;_ylt=Aut66psLKBCoIG.rErFoxzW7YWsA

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Democratic campaigning techniques

Obama is closing in on the gap with Clinton--the shrinkage of her 25 point lead on Obama in October to her current lead of 14 points in California could bode ill for the New York senator in this important Democratic state.

Each side has its supporters:

Clinton, with the help of endorsers such as the United Farm Workers, is hoping to appeal to the strong Democratic groups of women and Latinos as her strenths lie in change, leadership, and experience.

Clinton is planning a 7-county tour in California with the goal of meeting voters at BYOP ("Bring Your Own Phone") parties. Supporters bring their cell phones and use their free minutes on weekends and evenings to advocate Clinton to their family, friends, and undecided voters. Additionally, many volunteers are expected to come to the parties "armed with gifts for disadvantaged children," a strategy to combine the current obsession on the holidays as well as the upcoming elections.

Obama campaign has turned to the internet, including a "virtual phone bank" allowing thousands of volunteers call targeted voters from now until election day.

Both have been sending out special appeals to absentee voters (an estimated 40% of all California Democrats will mail in their ballot).

Whose campaign do you think will be the most effective? Will Obama's internet aspect give him an edge in his grassroots movement? Will Clinton manage to nab the women and Latino votes?

Visit the following website for more information from the orginal article:
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/12/22/MNDPU1ISM.DTL&hw=democrats+go+all+out+for+state+primary&sn=004&sc=800

Is America getting into some Trouble?

Ok, so I was checking out yahoo finance the other day and read that apparently there have been some major investments in the United States from China. Right now, China is investing in America more than America is investing in China. Good you ask? Well that all depends. If China invests in America, then they are establishing that they will not risk"problems" with America because their money is at risk. One analyst even points as far to say that it would be a good thing if Middle Eastern nations were investing in America because they would want their investments to increase in value and not want to risk not supplying oil. The problem, is that if we are not investing back though we do not have to worry about the other nations. In an ideal situation, our investments would be equal to each others, but this is not happening.

What can happen? Well if American businesses began to be bought out from other investors around the world it will make us dependent on other economies, even though we already are, it will make us even more dependent. The problem though, is that if we do not invest back what is going to happen?

Will it turn out ok, will it all end up bad, or we will just have to wait and find out?

http://www.usatoday.com/money/world/2005-06-21-china-usat_x.htm

Friday, December 21, 2007

Republicans are still searching for a candidate

With the Iowa caucus just two weeks away, the presidential race is clearly heating up. But for the first time in half of a century, no vice president or incumbent is running. As the Democratic race is continuing to tighten, the Republican race is constantly changing with no clear winner in view.
According to a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney are tied for first place with 20% (which shows Giuliani's great fall from his original 10% advantage over Romney just six weeks ago due to negative press regarding his personal life and business transactions). Mike Huckabee follows with 17%, which is not much less considering that margin of error is 3.1% and in early november he only had a single digit percentage of support. Following Huckabee is John McCain with 14% and then Fred Thompson at 11%.
However, because there is no front runner, the race is becoming more unpredictable. For example, despite Romney's higher ranking in the polls, he has fallen behind Huckabee in the Iowa nominating contest.
While this confusion may easily be a result of Bush's current low approval rating, it may also be a result of the current coalitions that are known to define the Republican party finally not being able to work together any more. While the party combining social, economical, and foreigh policy conservatives may have been able to function properly under Reagan, it is apparent that it no longer can.
This next election will no doubt be a turning point in American politics. But it may be moreso than we are expecting. There is so much interparty conflict within the Republican party that maybe a split by one of the leading coalitions could happen changing the Republican party as we know it. Although this would be a huge ordeal, it seems to be more and more possible as this election plays out.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Good Luck

Hey everyone hope your finals are going well and I know you can not wait for me to start bloggin huh?

Sunday, December 16, 2007

"Major Crackdown on Terrorists", or fluke?

Bush's label as this case as a "major crackdown on terrorists" has been demolished again.

Yesterday, one of 7 men accused of trying to blow up a Sears tower in Chicago was acquitted. As for the other six, the jury was deadlocked and a mistrial was declared in the prosecution of them.
These people, known as the "Liberty City Seven," often gathered in a rundown warehouse in Miami, but never attained any weapons or threatening equipment. However, officials on the other hand wanted "pre-emptive terrorism precaution." They first became under suspicion in 2005 when a man contacted the FBI to report suspicious activity (he claimed they asked him for help in contacting Al Qaeda).

Was this charge justified? Does this hurt the Bush reputation any further? What can we learn from this? What will the verdict be?

So is this the crackdown on terrorism?

Full Article: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/14/us/nationalspecial3/14liberty.html?bl&ex=1197954000&en=2058e2ee314d1264&ei=5087%0A

The role of a political wife...

At 58, Ann Romney looks young, glamorous, and rich. Recently, Candidate Mitt Romney's wife has been the talk of the nation. However, this is because she seems to have shed the traditional "campaign spouse trawling for votes" and taken on a different approach.

She has never asked voters for their votes, rather going for a "just-us-girls" approach (as the NY TIMES states). Reminding me of Roosevelt's fireside chats, she tries to gain a closeness to the voters - showing off pictures of her children, sharing a heart-wrecking story about her battle against multiple sclerosis that disabled her. Not without her smooth political tactics, she also often describes a manicurist bursting into tears of gratitude because of a education program her husband introduced as governor of Massachusetts.

While she was a liability when Mr. Romney ran for Senate several years ago, the public now sees her much better at retail politics than her husband.

Do you think the spouse of the candidate assists in gaining votes? When you are looking at who to vote for, do you even consider their spouse? How much of a political role do spouse's play when the president is in the office? How much should people take this into account?

Full Article: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/16/us/politics/16romney.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

Saturday, December 15, 2007

American Healthcare at Its Worst

Evanthia Pappas, a Bay Area prosecutor is diagnosed with an uncommon, aggressive type of breast cancer. Oncologists at the University of TexasM.D. Anderson Cancer Center have offered her hope through a clinical trial. However, this clinical trial is unfunded and costs $235,000. This means that no drug company, the federal government, or any other source will pay for the cost of the treatment. Pappas’ health care provider, Kaiser Permanente, refuses to cover the cost of the trial saying that the procedure does not benefit patients (relying on data of 15 randomized high-dose chemotherapy studies carried out between 1988 and 2002 that found it did not benefit long-term survival rates). However, doctors disagree with Kaiser Permanente and say that the procedure may be successful depending on the patient’s responses to chemotherapy. Since Kaiser Permanente will not cover the cost, M.D. Anderson considers Pappas uninsured. In most cases, clinical trials in which the patient puts himself/herself at risk are sponsored by the federal government or private industry. Dr. John Park, a medical oncologist at UCSF, states “It is extremely unusual for a hospital to require a patient to pay large sums of money to participate in a trial. Usually if patients have to bear some costs, they are relatively small.” He says that insurers usually pay for the routine costs of care related to the trial. Pappas and her doctors believe that this trial may be her best chance for survival and finding a cure. So far, she has already accumulated more than $100,000. San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris states, “This is also a statement about what we need to do about health care in this country. She already has to suffer the physical and emotional toll in terms of her illness, and has to suffer the anxiety about whether she can pay for the treatment she needs." Most industrialized countries, like Britain, France, and Canada provide universal healthcare to all citizens, whether they can afford the fees or not. Do you think the American health care industry is doing its job by denying patients that need help? Should Pappas have to pay for the whole bill herself when it is not 100% sure that the trial will cure her and since in most cases, it is rare for the patient to pay a large amount of money to participate in the trial? Or, should Pappas pay for the bill herself since she agreed to the trial?

Friday, December 14, 2007

Senate Passes $696 Billion Defense Bill

Recently, the Senate approved a defense policy bill 90-3. The House passed the bill earlier and will send it to President Bush to endorse. This bill permits $696 billion for military spending, which includes $189 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and $10 billion for ballistic missile defense. The bill would also give more aid to returning troops, establish conditions for contractors involved in the rebuilding of Iraq and Afghanistan, and establish management guidelines for expensive weapon programs. The bill also includes a 3.5% pay increase for service members, guaranteed mental health evaluations for combat veterans within 30 days, no fee raises to the military’s health care system, and a guaranteed three additional years of Veterans Affairs health care for returning troops from Iraq and Afghanistan after being discharged. The bill requires that private security contractors working in a war zone obey military regulations and orders from commanders, and an auditing system would be created to watch over reconstruction contracts in Afghanistan. Do you think the US is spending its money wisely? Will this increased military spending help the war in Iraq and Afghanistan or will it just prolong the war? Should the US redirect this money towards domestic issues instead? If so, what domestic issue would you direct it towards?

Is Giving N. Korea Another Chance a Good Idea?

While doing a little more research on the previous post, I came across this cartoon.



Is it wise to trust N. Korea?
It also depicts the worthlessness of the United Nations, does it not?

Improved Relations with North Korea?

Today, North Korea's president Kim Jong-il agreed to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula as long as the US makes an effort to improve relations with them as well.

Bush told the press:
“I got his attention with a letter and he can get my attention by fully disclosing his programs, including any plutonium he may have processed and converted some of that into whatever he’s used it for. We just need to know.”

In October, the communist country had already agreed to dismantle its nuclear weapons and publicize all nuclear programs in exchange for 950,000 tons of oil (or the same in money). Some are displeased with this resolution because it doesn't make N. Korea fork over all the warheads and plutonium they have secretly stored up. Others believe that this is one of the few successes Bush has achieved in this period of disappointing foreign diplomacy.

The White House celebrates its victory: a letter passed through N. Korea's representative to the United Nations, from Kim Jong-il, stating that N. Korea would keep its word as long as the US stuck to its side of the bargain.

Do you guys think that Mr. Kim will REALLY disclose all the programs and disassemble all the nuclear warheads so none of them are operational, just for a oil? Is this a victory of Mr. Bush and show his competence in foreign diplomacy?


Full Article: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/15/washington/15korea.html?ref=washington

Thursday, December 13, 2007

New Jersey First to Prohibit Death Penalty in 40 Years

New Jersey will be the first state in forty years to eliminate the death penalty (the governor will sign the measure in a few days). Government members voted in favor of replacing the death penalty with life in prison without parole 44-36. Supporters state that the death penalty has not discouraged murder from occurring and the death penalty sentence provides the possibility of killing an innocent person. Opponents of the measure such as Assemblyman Richard Merkt, state that the bill is “a victory for murderers and rapists. It does not benefit families. It does not benefit New Jersey society. It does not benefit justice.” Senate Republicans offered a compromise of upholding the death penalty for those who murder law enforcement officials, rape and murder children, and terrorists, but the Senate denied the suggestion. Since the Supreme Court permitted the death penalty in 1976, 1,099 people have been executed. While some states have deliberated about prohibiting the death penalty, currently, 37 states use the death penalty. Is the death penalty too radical of a punishment, and should other states follow New Jersey’s example of banning the death penalty?

New Energy Legislation Passed by Senate, but Watered Down...

New energy legislation has been cleared through the Senate! It's good news, but the legislation was cut and stripped of many provisions that would cost the oil industry billions and billions of dollars before finally receiving its wide margin of approval.

This legislation includes an increase in fuel-economy standards for motor vehicles and boosts for alternative fuel. However, the 13 billion dollar tax increase on oil companies, and a requirement that 15% of electricity be from renewable sources were cut in order to secure Republican votes in the Senate.

To end debate on the bill, Senator Harry Reid, the Democratic leader, announced the removal of tax provisions, allowing for passage with a vote of 86 to 8.

The oil industry's own voice was clearly heard in their own campaigns to oppose tax increases; they argued that paying the government more money would get in the way of developing new sources of energy in terms of funding.

Do you think that the bill should have been watered down? What does this say about the power of the oil industry in Congress? Do you think the tax provisions should have been passed? Will they ever be able to make it through Congress?

Full Article: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/13/washington/13cnd-energy.html?ref=washington

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

New Government Stand to Control Immigration

Last Friday, landowners along the southern border (mainly Texas and Arizona) were told that if they did not comply with the federal government to build a fence meant to help prohibit and prevent illegal immigration, the government would take control of their land. Michael Chertoff, the Homeland Security Secretary, is allocating thirty days for these landowners to decide if they will permit US officials on their land to see if it is proper for fencing. If landowners decide not to let US officials on to their land, Chertoff warns that he will “turn to the courts to gain temporary access”. Also, if the department deems that the land is suitable for fencing and landowners do not oblige, the department will look to the courts to get permission. The government’s goal is to construct 370 miles of border fencing by the end of next year, but Chertoff says, “dealing with uncooperative landowners” is an obstacle. Many landowners oppose border fencing because they claim that the fence will thwart their access to the Rio Grande, their main supply of fresh water. Also, businesses claim that the border fencing will delay cross border traffic that is essential for local economies. However, some believe that the border fencing is not only to prohibit illegal immigration, but also to mend differences in the Republican Party on the immigration issue. Bush once supported an immigration bill that would provide some legal status to illegal immigrants in the US. Many Republicans were angry at Bush’s “amnesty” and argued that “enforcement should be the government’s sole response”. On one side of the issue, it is unfair to force these private landowners to build a fence on their property that would restrict their access to the Rio Grande and hurt local economies, but on the other hand, the fence prevents the major national issue of illegal immigration.

How would you feel if you were forced to comply with the government’s demand of building a fence on your property while restricting your rights, but it was to help prohibit these illegal immigrants that our taxes are helping to support and who are taking away jobs from your fellow American citizens? Should the government be allowed to force landowners to comply to help the national issue of illegal immigration, while infringing on the landowner’s rights?

President Bush Vetoes Child Health Bill

So President Bush has vetoed a Children's Heath Care Bill again!
His explanation?

“Because the Congress has chosen to send me an essentially identical bill that has the same problems as the flawed bill I previously vetoed, I must veto this legislation, too.”

This is the 10th veto of Bush's presidency and exemplifies his continuing conflicts with the Democrat-led Congress.

What is the debate about? Money! Spending has been the issue of frustration and dispute!

The current plan of which more than 6.6 million children are enrolled in, called the S-Chip program, needs more funding if it is to continue. To continue, an estimated $5.8 billion is needed per year, which is $800 million more than the current annual budget. Democrats sent the bill allowing increased spending of $35 billion and allowed another 4 million children to join the program.

However, the White House responds by saying
“This Congress failed to send the president legislation that puts children first, and instead they sent for a second time one that would allow adults onto the program, expand to higher incomes, and raise taxes,” said Dana Perino, the White House press secretary.
What will become of this constant debate between White House and Congress?

Full Article: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/12/washington/12cnd-bush.html?hp

Clinton to Attack Obama on Drug Usage?

How many times have we heard it? Competitors dig up dirt from background and use it against each other.

Perhaps Hillary Clinton feels threatened as Obama has pulled up to become her equal in New Hampshire polls (state that has long been seen as a "Clinton stronghold"). The co-chairman of her campaign, Billy Shaheen, has brought to the public's attention Obama's drug usage when he was younger.

"The Republicans are not going to give up without a fight ... and one of the things they're certainly going to jump on is his drug use," said Shaheen.

Shaheen also stated that this "scandal" would blow up into a whole new realm.

"It'll be, 'When was the last time? Did you ever give drugs to anyone? Did you sell them to anyone?'" Shaheen said. "There are so many openings for Republican dirty tricks. It's hard to overcome."

What do you guys think? Does Shaheen have a valid point in dinging Obama about this?
Personally, I find this annoying. Everybody makes mistakes when they are younger, and just because he made a bad decision when he was younger does not mean he does not has the smarts, ability, and ethics to be a leader.

I feel like Shaheen is just making this a big deal for the sake of publicity and it seems like a bunch of side-fluff not related to the main issues of campaigning, the presidency, and public policy. Thus, I feel this strategy will backfire on the Clinton campaign. What do you think?

Series of Articles: http://blog.washingtonpost.com/the-trail/?hpid=topnews&hpid=topnews

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Top Issues for Voters

In a recent poll, 57% of Americans felt that the nation was in a recession. Of those polled 29% believe that the economy is their chief issue. However, in October, 28% of Americans felt that the war in Iraq was the main issue. Besides the economy and the war in Iraq, the other top issues to voters are health care, illegal immigration, and terrorism. Democrats agree with voters that the economy is in a recession. Hilary Clinton states, “"I'd describe the economy as kind of a trap door where you're one medical diagnosis or a pink slip or a missed mortgage payment away from dropping through and losing everything." On the other hand, Republican Rudy Giuliani does not feel that the economy is in a recession, stating, “What country has had more success in creating a society of fairness and decency, in creating a society in which people move out of poverty, in which people have social mobility, have a chance to succeed?” What is your top concern? Is it the economy? Will Giuliani’s lax stance on the economy help him or hurt him in the election since his top issue does not correspond to the electorate’s top issue (his top priority is terrorism which is the fifth issue most important to voters)? Will Clinton’s opinion on the economy make a difference in the election?

Baby Boomers Cutting Into Kid's Inheritance Money

As wealthy Baby Boomers are beginning to retire, financial advisors say that these Baby Boomers are less inclined to pass their wealth on to their grown children and grandchildren, and instead, are opting to spend their wealth on a dream retirement plan of an active, comfortable lifestyle; thus, leaving a small amount or not an ample amount of money for the next generation. Joe Montgomery, a managing director of investments at Wachovia Securities, says, “They’re a lot more worried about maintaining their lifestyle than about leaving everybody else wealthy.” In a Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finance interview, less than half (48.4%) thought that it was “important to leave an estate to heirs.” Do you think that parents should be able to spend their hard-earned money as they please upon retirement on themselves, or do you think they should reserve some money to help their children and grandchildren?

Monday, December 10, 2007

Which G.O.P Candidate?!

There is no clear leading G.O.P. candidate so far in the 2008 presidential election. A new poll has shown that Republican voters are unsure of who to vote for. Not one of the Republican candidates has secured half of the Republican electorate.

Now, Republicans seem to be divided equally between former Gov. Mike Huckabee, Rudolph W. Guiliani, and Mitt Romney.

On the other hand, the polls show that Democrat voters are much more settled with Hillary Clinton than contesters Obama and Edwards.
Reasons for this include:
-many voters see Clinton as more likely to be able to unite the country
-more experienced and prepared for the presidency
-she has former President Clinton behind her

New polls also show that public satisfaction with Washington in general is at an all time low. The Democrat-led congress mustered a pathetic 21 % approval rate, while President Bush's is at 28%.

When I looked at this information, although the American people seem unhappy with the political status quo, I believe that they will not be as apathetic. Although they may not be happy with the choices they have, because their perception is so negative at the moment, it is likely that they will try to vote to change things because indeed, many things are wrong with the country at the time. Pressing issues: immigration, the war in Iraq, foreign policy, security, and the economy all need to be changed. Thus even though the public may seem to have an aversion to the political environment currently, I do not believe this will deflect the public's involvement in the 2008 election.

What do you think?
Why is the Republican electorate so undecided?
Will the election bring back a better perception of Washington?

Full Article: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/11/us/politics/11poll.html?ref=washington

Prison for Juveniles Without Parole

Today, at least 2,381 people in the US are serving life in prison without parole for crimes they committed when they were age 17 or younger. Most are in prison for taking another life. One such case is Michael Lee Perry. At age 16, Perry threw pop-bottle firebombs through a window of a house to settle a score in a game with his friend, killing three children. Now, he says, "I was wrong. I took people's lives who didn't even have a chance to grow up and experience life. But, I mean, I didn't even experience life myself. I'm not saying a child should go unpunished. ... (But) it's like I'm just abandoned, discarded, left for nothing." However, the question is, did these people suffer from a lapse in judgment as juveniles when they committed these crimes, and are they able to learn from their mistakes? Is putting them in prison for life too harsh of a punishment or can they be rehabilitated? Should we feel sorry for Perry, or was life in prison a fair punishment? (The judge had the option of releasing Perry from prison when he turned 21 or putting him in prison for life.) Should the punishment of life without parole be eliminated for all juvenile offenders? Many are hoping to reform the tough punishment law and believe these offenders should be given a second chance. They want to reconsider the life sentences that were dealt out to these people when they were juveniles.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Oprah campaigns for Obama!

Oprah Winfrey already raised $3 million for Obama last September after declaring her support for him in May, but now she's appearing with him in campaigning events around the nation.

The duo first held an event in Iowa (state holding first caucus in the 2008 election) which drew by far the largest crowd of any campaign event this year in that state. Oprah rallied for Obama, deflecting charges for his lack of experience by saying "
the amount of time you spend in Washington means nothing unless you are accountable for the judgment you made." She also showed the strength of her support for him with statements such as, "For the very first time in my life I feel compelled to stand up and speak out for the man who I believe has a new vision for America." This event also compelled volunteer work for Obama, rewarding them with priority seats.

Not only will Oprah campaign for Obama in the all too important state of Iowa, but is expected to appear in New Hampshire and South Carolina over the next few days.

While Hilary Clinton, her mother and daughter, also campaigned in the state,
a staff said "Senator Clinton is a big fan of Oprah's, and she thinks it is great for candidates to have surrogates campaign on their behalf."
What do you think? Is this just a publicity stunt? What good comes out of public celebrities rallying for politicians? Will this affect the opinion of the people in the election? What's in it for Oprah?

Article at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7134895.stm

Shooting at Christian Center in Denver

After the mall shooting earlier in the week, it's just bizarre that there would be another in the same week, let alone at a religious center. It's scary to think that at two places which would be considered safe to go would both have shootings.

"Two missionaries-in-training were killed early today and two more were wounded when a gunman burst into a residence hall at the Youth With a Mission center in the Denver suburb of Arvada, the police said."

Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/09/us/09cnd-shoot.html?hp

Friday, December 7, 2007

Senate rejects energy bill

"The House of Representatives on Thursday passed an energy bill that would boost vehicle fuel economy requirements by 40 percent by 2020, raise ethanol use by five-fold by 2022 and impose $13 billion in new taxes on big energy companies.
But the Energy Independence and Security Act... failed a key procedural hurdle in the Senate...
Majority Leader Harry Reid has agreed to modify the $21 billion tax package and drop a plan to require utilities to get 15 percent of their power from renewable sources like wind and solar by 2020, a Democratic Senate aide said."

To me this is really disappointing in terms of making steps towards a better environment. Hopefully, there will be some measure passed to start to combat global warming. I just feel really frustrated with Senate(ah, mostly the Republicans) for not passing this. What do you think? Is it too soon for such a bill? How long will it take for something like this to get passed?

http://uk.reuters.com/article/oilRpt/idUKN0734139220071207?pageNumber=1&virtualBrandChannel=0

http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/1207/p25s09-uspo.html

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Religion in Politics

Back in the 1960 presidential election Kennedy's religion came into play, as he would (and was) be the first Catholic president. Kennedy commented on his religion by saying, "a candidate's "views on religion are his own, private affair," which should not be "imposed by him upon the nation." "He promised, in essence, that his Catholicism would no more influence his politics than did Quakerism for Richard Nixon. And President Dwight Eisenhower's reaction to the Kennedy speech summarized this argument well: "I would hope that it [religion] could be one of those subjects that could be laid on the shelf and forgotten."

Today, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is taking the opposing viewpoint of Kennedy. If he were to be elected, he would be the first Mormon president. He made a speech today saying, "Whether it was the cause of abolition, or civil rights, or the right to life itself, no movement of conscience can succeed in America that cannot speak to the convictions of religious people... religion is not merely 'a private affair.'"

He did agree that, "no authorities of my church . . . will ever exert influence on presidential decisions."

Romney seems to be getting a lot of press recently. Even if this is just another excuse for him to get publicity, do you all agree with his statements?... How much of a role should one's personal religious beliefs play in their policies?

Link: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/12/06/AR2007120601968.html

Most Important for 2008

Sorry it's hard to follow. If you need to, look at the attached link.
ISSUES AND THE ELECTION
Looking ahead to next year's presidential election, what will be the most important issues that you will take into account when deciding whom to vote for?

2007 Nov 30-Dec 2 2007 Apr 13-15
War in Iraq 36 42
The economy 16 13
Healthcare/health insurance 15 11
Illegal immigration 10 5
Homeland security/military defense 6 7
Taxes 5 4
Honesty/integrity/credibility of candidate 5 5
Abortion 3 2
Domestic issues 3 3
Social Security reform 3 2
Education 2 5
International/foreign affairs 3 4
Terrorism 2 2
Budget deficit/spending 2 2
Environmental issues 2 3
Employment issues 2 1
Financial/money 2 2
Senior care/Medicare/Prescription drugs 2 2
Morals/values/Christian beliefs 2 1
Energy/gas/oil prices and issues 2 --
Gay rights 1 --
Bush (doing a bad job) 1 1
Judicial issues 1 *
Vote Republican/not a Democrat * *
Vote Democrat/not a Republican * 1
World peace * 1
Bush (doing a good job) -- --
Other 4 9
None 2 3
No opinion 6 6

http://www.usatoday.com/news/politics/election2008/2007-12-04-poll_N.htm

What do you think is the most issue that will affect your decision in the 2008 election?
Are you surprised at this poll?

Presidential Candidates Previous Jobs

Before the many candidates for the 2008 election became office-holders, they had jobs that were very hardworking and some disgusting.
Democrat Hillary Clinton had to spoon guts out of fish and wash dishes at a national park while Republican Mike Huckabee cleaned the floor at JCPenney and had a gig on the radio.
Mitt Romney worked on a ranch in a sewage pipe.
Republican Fred Thompson stated "I've worked in a factory, I was a bouncer at my uncle's drag strip, I worked at the post office, I sold children's shoes, I sold ladies', I sold men's clothing, I was a night clerk at a motel."
Democrat John Edwards worked at a textile mill where he "cleaned out overhead in the weave room, which is where all the crap goes."
Republican John McCain stated "I've never really had a bad job."
Democrat Barack Obama worked at a construction site. He also said that "his worst job was scooping ice cream at a Baskin-Robbins because he ate too much of it."

I thought that this was kinda of funny at first but then I realized that it showed how hardworking and dedicated the candidates were.
What do you think about these jobs? What does it show about the candidates?

http://www.usatoday.com/news/politics/election2008/2007-12-05-candidates-worst-jobs_N.htm

Omaha mall gunman teen

After the chaos that was yesterday's mall shooting some of the details of the shooting are emerging. The gunman was identified as 19-year-old Robert Hawkins. People who knew him described him as "always being depressed." There were also felony charges pending against Hawkins at the time of the shooting.

According to USA Today:
"Hawkins was a troubled teenager who had recently been fired from his job at McDonald's and split from his girlfriend.
Warren said Hawkins stole the gun he used in the shooting from his stepfather and stored it at his father's home."

Is there anything we can do to prevent tragedies like this one from occurring? Since he, a mentally unstable person, was able to get the gun from someone else, is there really a way to prevent these types of people from having access to guns?

Link to updated story: http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2007-12-06-mall_N.htm

Political Relationships

I was watching a program on the History Channel about the Kennedy family, and during the show they talked about how the Kennedys were criticized in elections for using their family connections to get places in politics.

Whether this criticism is warranted is up to you, but how much do family connections, or connections in general, play into politics? Do those who know other have a natural advantage? The answer to this is of course so, but does it give an unfair advantage to other candidates? Is it skill or connections that matter most?

For example, Hillary Clinton ran for the Senate people felt that she used her husband as a way to win the election, and same could be true with her candidacy today.

Does someone without political connections even have a shot at winning an election today?

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Radar Guns in Burlingame?

Burlingame police is waiting for a proposal to be reviewed in the city attorney's office, which would allow volunteers, trained by Burlingame police, to patrol the streets with radar guns and make sure drivers are driving at the correct speed. Police will conduct background checks on the volunteers in order to make sure that they are law-abiding citizens.
"Drivers who are caught speeding will have their license plate number written down, and receive a warning letter from the Police Department. Although there is no fine attached to the letter, the hope is that people will slow down when they know they are being clocked. "

How do you feel about this proposal? Do you agree or disagree with it?
Do you think it will make people drive slower?

http://www.examiner.com/a-1088301~Volunteers_may_patrol_with_radar_guns.html

Birth Rate Among Teens Increases

In the year 2006 the birth rate among teenagers between the ages of 15 and 19 rose 3%, the first increase since 1991. Some question whether or not the Bush administration's abstinence-only efforts are actually working. The federal government has spent over $150 million annually funding abstinence programs.
"Robert Rector, a senior research fellow with the Heritage Foundation, said that blaming abstinence-only programs was “stupid.” Mr. Rector said that most young women who became pregnant were highly educated about contraceptives but wanted to have babies."

What do you think about these stats?
Would you blame the Bush administration? Why or why not?
What do you think the government should do to decrease the amount of teenage girls who become pregnant?

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/06/washington/06birth.html?_r=1&hp&oref=slogin

More information on shooting

USA Today(my Dad's paper!) published some more information the shooting...:

"Update at 6:02 p.m. ET: Less than a week ago, the bomb squad recovered a live grenade at the mall where today's shootings took place. Local news organizations report that the explosive device was found Friday night in a parking area near the Cheesecake Factory restaurant.
As the latest AP story points out, this is the second mass shooting at an American mall in less than year. Sulejman Talovic shot nine people -- five fatally -- in February at a shopping center in Salt Lake City.
Update at 6:46 p.m. ET: The gunman was 21-year-old Robert Hawkins of Bellevue, Neb., the AP is reporting, citing a law enforcement official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the incident. The AP also has confirmed the WOWT report about the suicide note." http://blogs.usatoday.com/ondeadline/2007/12/shooting-report.html

I thought it was interesting that the shooter was young, similar to the Virgina Tech gunman. Again, not all the information is out, so it's hard to make any conclusions.

What do you think of the person's age?... The note? Any other thoughts?

Mall Shooting in Omaha

There were nine people killed today just before 2 p.m. in Westroads Mall in Omaha, Nebraska. A gunman opened fire on 13 people, wounding five, and then killed himself. Seven died at the scene, while two died in the hospital. There are three in critical condition.

Although not all the background information of the shooting is out yet (i.e. who sold him the gun, his mental state) this is another example of how gun control laws, in my opinion, need to be tightened. Obviously this person had mental issues, since he went so far as to shoot people. The fact that this person had access to a gun is disturbing. Although it isn't clear if he purchased the rifle he used himself, it still raises many questions about gun control.

In Nebraska there are certain limitations on purchasing guns, but there are still some concerning aspects of the laws. Here's a link to the Nebraska gun laws: http://www.bradycampaign.org/legislation/state/viewstate.php?st=ne. One thing in particular that's concerning is the lack of safety regulations and the fact that police can't maintain gun record sales.

I hope that out of this, the country will take a closer look at gun purchases, regardless of whether or not the shooter was the one to buy the rifle.

What do you think of U.S. gun laws? What type of regulations need to be created, if any? Will anything change after this shooting?... Or will people continue to ignore the issue of gun violence, like people did after the Virginia Tech shooting?

Link: http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/12/05/mall.shooting/index.html

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Bush's Christmas Present



By John Darkow - Columbia Daily Tribune, Missouri

(http://politicalcartoons.com/cartoon/9c10ea47-8126-4d4f-af15-f537e9ab5664.html)



I thought this cartoon was kinda of funny so I thought I'd share it!

Britain Threatened

An Iraqi militant group threatened to kill 1 of 5 British hostages in 10 days if Britain does not withdraw its troops in Iraq. One of the hostages has been held captive for over 170 days and feels "forgotten."
Although violence in has significantly decreased over the past two years, do you think that it will continue to decrease?
Do you think that Britain will withdraw all or some troops?
Do you think that Britain did actually "forget" about the hostages? Why or why not?

For more info check out:
http://www.reuters.com/article/newsOne/idUSL0439309120071205?sp=true

"Romney fires landscapers for illegal immigrants"

Republican candidate for president Mitt Romney fired landscapers (Community Lawn Service of Chelsea, Massachusetts) working on his home's lawn for hiring illegal immigrants. He gave them a second chance this year to fire their illegal workers, but when they didn't comply he got rid of them.

"Romney said the company's failure to comply with the law is "disappointing and inexcusable, and I believe it is important I take this action."

Romney has also criticized Republican candidate Rudolph Giuliani, the former mayor of New York, for not being tough enough on illegal immigration. Romney accused Giuliani of "turning a blind eye to illegal immigration in New York." This is just one of a series of criticisms Romney has had of other candidates.

Is Romney contrasting?... Attacking?... Or just using a political maneuver to create a situation that makes himself look more consistent in his beliefs? Was his firing of the landscaping company a purely political move, or was that this genuine belief?

Link: http://www.reuters.com/article/topNews/idUSN0455219020071204

Facebook and Politics

I don't know how many of you have Facebooks, but I'm sure it's quite of few of you. If you do have one you know about the different groups there are to join. There are a significant number of new groups aimed towards political values. There are some such as "Stop Global Warming," "Americans for Alternative Energy," "Support Stem Cell Research," etc.

I also thought it was interesting that there are campaign groups for candidates running for president in 2008. There are some joke groups, such as "Colbert for President," or "Stewart/Colbert '08," but there are also some serious ones. I joined "California Students for Barack Obama," and I've received e-mails, messages, and invitations to phone banks and get- togethers to help Barack Obama. There was even essay competition in which the winner got to read there essay at an Obama event. (There are also other groups such as "Romney 2008," "Congressman Ron Paul for President 2008," "America's Mayor, America's President. Giuliani 2008," etc.)

Although there are thousands of students joining groups like these, do they really have any affect on the election, or is all of this work for nothing? What do you think of political groups on Facebook?

It seems like even if the candidate doesn't win, it's a great way to become involved in politics, network, and organize. It's also interesting that Obama's campaign is so organized, being that the Democrats are often critisized for lack of organizational skills.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Teddy Bear Scandal

British school teacher Gillian Gibbons, Khartoum, Sudan, was pardoned by the president, Omar al-Bashir, after she was arrested for allowing her students to name the classroom Teddy bear "Muhammad." The Unity High School teacher was reported by the school secretary, who felt that this was an insult to the Islamic prophet.

It seems pretty outrageous that something such as a Teddy bear would cause such an uproar. It also reflects badly on the Sudanese government that they'd allow for such a faction to have influence. There didn't seem to be any malice intent in Gibbons' naming of the bear, so it's fortunate that the British government and the Sudanese president steeped in to help her.

This situation also shows the excessive amount of power the radical Islamic regimes in Sudan have.

Should such a radical group have so much power? Was the arrest at all justified?

Link:
http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1690280,00.html

Myspace Suicide Verdict

Megan Meier, a 13 year old girl in Missouri, killed herself last year after "Josh," an 18 year old boy she had met on myspace and had begun to like, told her that the "world would be a better place without [her]."
Little did Megan know, that "Josh" was really an 18 year old girl who wanted to know what Megan thought about her neighbor.
Today Missouri prosecutors ruled that no charges would be sought in the case however, those involved will be punished. Missouri law does not state any part of this case in its harrassment statute therefore there is nothing to be charged with.
Many young teens such as ourselves use Myspace, Facebook, and other networking sites on a weekly, if not daily, basis. If this had happened to someone close to you, wouldn't you want the person involved to be severely punished? And if so, in what way do you think is appropriate?
Do you agree with the prosecutors ruling?
Even though, there was no reason to charge the accused according to Missouri law, what would you have done if you were in the prosecutors position?

Iran and Nuclear Weapons

A new U.S. report concluded that Iran stopped development of a nuclear weapon in 2003, but still remains a threat.

"We judge with moderate confidence that the earliest possible date Iran would be technically capable of producing enough highly enriched uranium for a weapon is late 2009, but that this is very unlikely," the report says. A more likely time frame for that production is between 2010 and 2015, it concludes. "

"We have good reason to continue to be concerned about Iran developing a nuclear weapon even after this most recent National Intelligence Estimate," he told reporters at the White House. "In the words of the NIE, quote, Iranian entities are continuing to develop a range of technical capabilities that could be applied to producing nuclear weapons if a decision is made to do so."

"Sen. Joe Biden, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the fact that Iran was several years away from nuclear weapons capability meant "the international community has a significant window of opportunity in which to act to avoid the stark choice between going to war or accepting a nuclear Iran."

It seems really hopeful that there is time to find out about Iran's enriched uranium plants, and also time to decide what a smart plan for dealing with this situation because Iran won't really be a threat for the next few years. We can only hope that with the government has learned from the Iraq war and won't enter into a war without really thinking through the coincidences, and making sure the country is truly a threat.

Do you think that Iran will turn into another Iraq?... Or will we repeat history(as often happens), and make another brash decision, which enters us into war? Is Iran a big enough threat to us that we need to seriously consider entering before they become a bigger threat?

Link to article: http://edition.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/12/03/iran.nuclear/?imw=Y&iref=mpstoryemail

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Bush wants Congress to wrap it up before Christmas

Bush has assigned Congress three big issues that he wants figured out before Congress leaves for Christmas. The President wants a $196 billion request for war funding passed "without strings," which is probably not going to happen before Christmas (if at all) because the Democrats are refusing to send Bush a war spending bill this year at all. Bush is also asking for for legislation to change alternative minimum tax (AMT), which was created so that wealthy people could not use tax breaks or deductions to avoid paying any taxes. Bush wants to change this slightly so that middle-class Americans aren't affected. President Bush also wants Congress to extend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which allows domestic eavesdropping without warrants. "The original law required a court order for any surveillance conducted on U.S. soil, to protect Americans' privacy. The White House argued that the law was obstructing intelligence gathering because, as technology has changed, a growing amount of foreign communications passes through U.S.-based channls." (http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/12/01/bush.radio.ap/index.html) I feel that the war funds and domestic eavesdropping are especially big issues that will probably take a lot of time to sort out. The tax issue doesn't seem too complicated, but the other two issues have a lot more depth to them what with the war and terrorists. I guess Bush just has too high expectations or something, but I highly doubt that Congress can finish all this before Christmas.
What do you think Congress should decide about these issues?

Guantanamo Bay case reaches the Supreme Court


This week the Guantanamo Bay case will go the the Supreme Court. The central issue of the case is whether or not non-Americans have the right of habeas corpus. Is it okay for Americans to hold non-citizens in jail without a trial? This trial would help determine if the detainee camp(used for holding suspected terrorists) will be shut down, either releasing prisoners or keeping them locked up.


No matter what you think about the legal aspects of this situation, would you really want for these people to be released? Should principle or safety come first? It's been stated that "so far 30 released detainees are believed to have returned to terrorist activities."
Then there's also the issue of the abuse. It's been well publicized that there has been mistreatment of prisoners there. How will this play into the case?

I also thought it was interesting that as this article says, "So intense is the interest in the case that the court has ruled it will take the rare step of issuing audio recordings of opening arguments," being that the Supreme Court is usually not very friendly with the press; as we read in the last chapter of the textbook. This shows how seriously this case is to Americans.


Does diversity matter?

It's been a tradition for the Iowa caucuses to kick off the presidential nomination process. A lot of what happens in Iowa can help to influence the rest of the state's votes, contributing to candidates' momentum throughout the primaries. Yesterday, Democratic candidates met in Des Moines to discuss diversity. Immigration policy, the disproportionate amount of minorities incarcerated, college costs, and Cuban relations were brought up.
It's not a coincidence that Iowa was chosen because there has been much talk about the lack of diversity within the caucuses there. The question came up: Are caucuses with only 8% minorities representing the U.S.? This is less than a third of the country's non-whites. The answer is obviously no, but does should caucuses like these really have so much influence in the beginning of the presidential primaries? Do they have a lot of influence in the election, or is Iowa's influence on the election exaggerated? Should another, more diverse, state be the first primary held? Is it racist in itself to even question diversity?
For anyone who read Hardball, you'll remember how Matthews talked about the advantage of winning early primaries being that the nominee will have their image improved and influence other states' votes. Iowa's caucuses will be held on January 3rd for both the Democrats and Republicans.
Here's a link to the Wall Street Journal article on Saturday's meeting: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119660870919510917.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

Negative Campaign Ads 2008

As the presidential election nears, campaign ads are beginning to increase. With so many candidates hoping to win their party's nomination, it is very clear that this coming year's advertising will include political attack ads that could try to ruin a candidate's campaign.

Unlike other election years, though, the internet will be used as another tool for anonymous and unregulated campaigning.

There is a debate over whether negative ads change voter opinions and benefit voters by "helping them understand where candidates differ"or if they really do not affect voter opinions at all.
Do you think negative campaign ads will affect this coming election at all? If so, will they hurt certain candidates more than others?

Venezuela Votes!

Venezuelan voters cast ballots today to make a constitutional change which, according to the NY Times, "would abolish presidential term limits, extend [President Hugo] Ch├ívez’s term to seven years from six and raise the threshold for recalling him." Chavez also wants to make Venezuela a socialist state. People opposed to this change argue that it will make Venezuela more totalitarian than democratic, as Chavez argues. Voter turnout was surprisingly low. Lines, if any, were short and the streets were empty except for the few voters who had just cast ballots.
Criticized by many people for his proposal, President Chavez has "ordered troops to occupy oil installations over the weekend, threatening to cut off oil exports to the United States in the event of American interference in the referendum."
Unnamed sources stated on Sunday night that Chavez had won the referendum.
If Chavez did truly win, how do you think the changes to the constitution will affect the country in the long run?
Will the U.S. stay out of it, in order to ensure that they continue to receive oil?
Are Chavez's proposals really more democratic or totalitarian?

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Energy plan pushes automakers on mpg

Everybody knows about the soaring oil prices and problem with global warming. To help deal with this, Congress passed a bill to raise mile-per-gallon standards. Auto industries had already been planning to do this (such as they did for the Prius), however this bill will compel them to make more fuel-efficient vehicles on a faster timeline. "The auto industry's fleet of new cars, sport utility vehicles, pickup trucks and vans will have to average 35 mpg by 2020, according to the agreement that congressional negotiators announced late Friday...It would be first increase ordered by Congress in three decades." (http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071202/ap_on_go_co/more_mpg). Sen. Diane Feinstein said, "It is a major milestone and the first concrete legislation to address global warming." Unfortunately, the article holds that this bill "may face problems over requirements for nonpublic electric utilities to produce 15 percent of their power from renewable energy sources such as wind or solar."

I hope this bill (or perhaps a compromise of it) works. Everybody knows that things really need to get done to solve the oil and gas-emission problems, but not much progress has been made. This bill shows that people are starting to get serious about getting things done, instead of mostly talking about getting things done. Maybe we'll see some nice debates about this coming up in the primary debates, huh?

I'd also like to note something extra about this article. "Rick Wagoner, General Motors Corp.'s chairman and chief executive, said the new rules [in the bill] would 'pose a significant technical and economic challenge to the industry.' He said GM would tackle the changes 'with an array of engineering, research and development resources.'"
The article makes GM sound really supporting and into all this, however I encourage people to check out a 2006 documentary film titled "Who Killed the Electric Car?" General Moters had a line of battery electric vehicles (which they called EV-1's) in the 1990's. The film accounts that GM wrongly felt that there was no demand for their product and so took back every EV-1 and disposed of them. The films also explores a couple of other reasons for the destruction of EV-1's, such as: both the oil and auto industries were unhappy with this line because they were afraid of losing money. Again, I encourage people to watch the documentary or even just look it up online. For a small link to get you going, someone else posted a small blog entry about it here: http://tonyguitar.blogspot.com/2006/07/why-did-gm-kill-ev-1.html. Check it out.

More on Hostage Situation

New information has been released about the hostage situatio and I just wanted to clarify what i wrote earlier. It turns out that Eisenberg didn't have a bomb, but a bunch of road flares. Also, police discovered that he had been raped in the past by a priest, and then tried to commit suicide, which is why he was in a psychiatric facility. So, it seems like the whole situation was an overreaction to one man's cry for help.

Clinton, however, got some publicity from the situation, and even met with the hostages.

Don't ask don't tell

Yesterday marked the 14th anniversary of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. The act passed under the Clinton administration requires any homosexual or bisexual person enrolled in the United States armed forces to keep their sexual orientation a secret. It also prohibits commanders from investigate their sexuality. If any members revel their sexuality they would be automatically discharged.
Military veterans and activists protested the act, arguing that the act forces citizens to lie, and discriminates against gays. The Human Rights Campaign estimates the policy is responsible for the discharge of 12,000 men and women in the military. This topic was brought up in the recent GOP CNN/ youtube debate. What do you think about this policy?
For more information go to http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/11/30/military.protest/index.html.

I agree with Bryan J. Scrafford's response (http://ambivalentmumblings.blogspot.com/2007/11/edwards-on-dont-ask-dont-tell.html) that gays should be able to openly serve in the military without fear of discriminate or discharge. After all, with the Iraq war still in process, we're going to need all the able bodied we can find.

Huge beer heist

Someone stole 450 kegs from a Guinness Brewery on Thursday. The total cost of the stolen goods is calculated to be over €160,000 (US$235,000). For more information go to http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/11/29/europe/EU-GEN-Ireland-Beer-Bandit.php#end_main.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Bald Eagles, the American Symbol

As you may or may not know, the blad eagle, the emblem of the United States, is no longer an endangered species. On June 28, 2007 the Interior Department took the American bald eagle off the endangered species list, however the eagle will still be protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act because they are still "threatened." The eagles have been in danger of extinction since the mid 1960s, mainly due to DDT's (a pesticide that is now banned) and overly aggressive hunting. For example, over 100,000 bald eagles were killed in Alaska from 1917 to 1953 because Alaskan salmon fisherman feared they were a threat to the salmon population. (http://www.baldeagleinfo.com/eagle/eagle11.html)

"Here in the San Francisco Bay Area, we now have over 200 breeding pairs, and nationally we have nearly 10,000. This is up from the frighteningly small total number of fewer than 35 pairs America had in the 1970s, but is still only half the historical high of 400 pairs California had before the problems affected them. " (http://kyledesigns.wordpress.com/2007/06/30/amazing-bald-eagle-comeback-just-in-time-for-independence-day/) Actually, most of the eagles for CA were bred at the SF zoo. One of my friends' father works there, and he said that the program was shut down there because it did so well it accomplished its goal. That puts a negative spin on it, but it did serve its purpose.

I decided to put this on the blog because of what the bald eagle represents to America and because many people do not know these things (myself included). We have eagles on the backs of our gold coins, the silver dollar, the half dollar and the quarter, and even on the Great Seal of the United States. I found an amazing site at http://www.baldeagleinfo.com/eagle/eagle9.html which all of you should check out. It is really interesting and funny, and I learned a lot of things. For example, did you know how the bald eagle became the national symbol? Maude M. Grant said, "...at one of the first battles of the Revolution (which occurred early in the morning) the noise of the struggle awoke the sleeping eagles on the heights and they flew from their nests and circled about over the heads of the fighting men, all the while giving vent to their raucous cries. 'They are shrieking for Freedom,' said the patriots."

The website also says that Benjamin Franklin wished that the turkey, and not the bald eagle, had been chosen as the representative of our country because the eagle "is a bird of bad moral character, he does not get his living honestly..." (basically he steals fish that other birds hunted) and is not suited for the "brave and honest" America. I find this very ironic because today America seems to fit Franklin's description of an eagle extremely well (substitute fish for oil, for example).

Unicef to the Rescue

Cholera, picked up from contaminated water, is claiming innocent lives in a Baghdad orphanage due to a bad sewage system. So far there have been 24 deaths across the nation, but they are scared of an outbreak. Cholera can kill in a few hours if it is left untreated. Luckily, Unicef is doing all that it can to help clean the water. They are trying to get the Iraq government to clean the water storage tanks and providing tablets to cleanse the water.


I think we're pretty lucky to live in a place which demands the water be clean, and our health be protected. With these poor children in such a bad environment, it seems like everything we complain about is pretty pointless. Next time unicef is selling those candy bars, maybe we should all pick up a few with some extra tip.


Hostages held at the Clinton Office

Lee Eisenberg walked into Hillary Clinton's campaign office in Rochester, New Hampshire with a bomb strapped to his chest and took members of Clinton's campaign staff hostage. He called CNN officials multiple times, speaking about a need for better health care coverage for average people who can't afford it.

Eventually he gave in, having made no threats and ending the hostage situation. It seems pretty trivial, but it reminds me of those small rebellions that we learned about in US history. I think it was Shay's rebellion in which the rebellion wasn't that large but it represented the desires of the people. Is he representing others like him who want better health care coverage?

Or, another possibility was taht he wasn't coherent becuase the article did say "He said he'd been to a local psychiatric hospital," although it didn't specify if he was a patient.

Either way, this is antoher wake up call about security and safety in our modern world.

Here are some articles about this story: http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/11/30/clinton.hostagetaker/index.html
http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/11/30/clinton.office/index.html

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Layoffs in the Pentagon

President Bush plans to layoff workers in the Pentagon if he doesn't receive the funding he has requested for the war. He is demanding $196 billion extra funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Bush argues that this is hurting our chances of saving more American lives, while the democrats argue he should be supporting a plan to pull out the troops.

It seems to me this is an unfair and undemocratic way to accomplish his goals. He should not be threatening us to get what he wants, it should be supported by all with government power. Also, his plan so far hasn't been working, and I don't see how more money is going to help him succeed. If you want to read the full story, you can check it out here.

GOP youtube debate political cartoon


Donations from the graveyard

Top donations from deceased individuals

Below is the list of the top 30 recipients of political donations from individuals listed as deceased in federal campaign-finance records between 1999 and 2007.

Democratic National Committee
$224,516
Republican National Committee
$93,143
National Committee for an effective Congress
$73,200
LaRouche in 2004
$64,749
Green Party of the United States
$12,219
Oklahoma Leadership Council
$10,000
Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund
$7,596
California Democratic Council
$5,000
Colorado Democratic Party
$5,000
Council For A Livable World
$5,000
Democratic State Committee Delaware
$5,000
North Carolina Republican Executive Committee
$5,000
Women's Campaign Fund
$6,014
Feinstein For Senate
$2,000
John Kerry For President, Inc.
$2,000
Lincoln Chafee U.S. Senate
$2,000
Nita Lowey For Congress
$2,000
Stenholm For Congress Committee
$2,000
Lydon LaRouche Political Action Committee
$1,850
Rudy Giuliani Presidential Committee, Inc.
$1,350
Bob Filner For Congress
$1,000
Chambliss For Congress
$1,000
Sailors' Political Fund (FKA) Sailors' Union Of The Pacific Political Fund
$1,000
Stevens For Congress
$1,000
Sue Kelly For Congress
$1,000
Texas Bankers Association-Bankers Political Action Committee
$1,000
Friends Of John Barrow
$900
Libertarian National Committee
$808
Family-PAC Federal
$750
People For English
$750
Source: USA TODAY analysis of data compiled by the non-partisan CQ MoneyLine.

It hadn't even occured to me that people would be donating money in thier wills to thier favorite political organization. According to CQ MoneyLine's data, deceased gave almost $ 96,000 in federal donations between January 1 and September 30. I just thought this was an interesting way to contribute. Currently, donations from the dead are acceptable as long as they follow the legal limits and thier intentions are clear. Although donations from the deceased are minuature compared to the overall donations major parties, such as the Democratic and Republican Parties, receive, there is a possibility that this trend could grow larger and be exploited.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Republican Debate

The Republican debate took place today. During the debate, Romney and Giuliani got into an intense clash about immigration. Giulani was accused of protecting immigrants in a "sanctuary city" when he was mayor of New York City. Giuliani defended himself by stating that he did his best to enforce immigration laws. He also accused Romney of having many "sanctuary cities" and a "sanctuary mansion" when he was governor of Massachusetts. Romney replied that he can't confront any person with a "funny accent" to check his citizenship.

All of the candidates were concentrated on attacking each other, which I think really puts them under pressure and helps voters decide which candidate is the best. If you didn't get to see the debate, you should check it out here and decide which candidate you support.

Annapolis Conference political cartoons

This reminded me of Noelle's comment on Carter's attempts for peace in the Mideast. I thought this cartoon was very appropriate in showing how many of our past presidents have tried to reach this unsuccessfully to reach this huge goal.

I was looking around and I found this blog http://hammeringsparksfromtheanvil.blogspot.com/. It just posted a ton of political cartoons regarding the Annapolis Conference and how the promise of peace just dosen't seem realistic at all. Check it out!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Venezuelan Referendum

In Venezuela, Hugo Chavez hopes to be reelected at the upcoming referendum. If he wins this referendum, he will be allowed to rule for as long as he likes, if he can win the elections, and will be granted dictatorial powers. He will also have the power to cease oil production, giving the United States a major problem since we receive some oil from them.

CHavez wants to turn the state into a socialist state, much like Cuba. Because he is anti-U.S., it he would like to prove that capitalism does not work. And he has gained support. Bolivia, Ecuador, and Nicaragua already support him.

I think that we need to be careful with him before he gets out of hand. It may seem overly cautious, but considering past incidences with leaders gaining power, I think it is reasonable to be careful of possible dictators. What do you think? If he wins will we have a major problem on our hands?

If you want to find out more information, try this article or this opinion article.

peace in the middle east?

Today in a national conference in Annapolis, Israeli and Palestinian leaders resolved to restart peace talks. President Bush also pledged to help the two nations achieve peace. Bush read from a pre approved text on the behalf of the two leaders which gave a vague out line for future plans of peace. However, this goal is already threaten with the thousands of Hamas supporters protesting against the Annapolis Conference. For more information go to http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/mideast_summit;_ylt=AmcH2sMJc4rnVLkgmLL7ENcUewgF .

Personally, it seems so depressing to see such anti-American rallies on the eve of a supposedly historic moment of peace negotiations. Even if Bush hopes to "devote himself to ending the six-decade conflict in the 14 months he has left in office", he barely even has the support of the American public. How can he muster up enough international respect to truly help these two nations gain peace?

Monday, November 26, 2007

A blushing bride in disguise

I thought this was pretty funny. Apparently a group of terrorists tried to drive into Baghdad disguised as a wedding convoy. One of the terrorist was even dressed in a dress and veil to play the part of the blushing bride. You can find the full article at http://www.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/meast/11/26/iraq.bride/index.html. Perhaps the terrorists thought that the guards at the checkpoint would have been more lenient when they saw a newlywed car passing by, or maybe they thought that they would have been given more privacy due to nature of such a sacred union, but to me this seems like such a ridiculous plan. The good news is we managed to catch the insurgents before they reached their destination and managed to carry out any more acts of terror.

Are you getting enough milk?

Rickets, a disease where bones become soft, has been appearing more and more. The reason is children now are not getting enough calcium in their diet as in the past. Lack of calcium, a lack of exercise, and a lack of sunshine has endangered adolescents of possibly getting osteoporosis later in life and has caused the increase in rickets.

Children now are busy staying inside, on their computers and not outside in the sunshine where they can be getting vitamin D to help them absorb calcium. In addition, they need to be drinking more milk and exercising so that they can increase their bone density. For example, the dominant arm of a tennis player has 35% more bone than the other arm. Clearly, exercise is an important factor.

So be sure to get some calcium in your diet, lots of exercise, and a little sunshine.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Hero in Arizona Desert Deported

Yesterday, a nine-year-old boy was found in the middle of an Arizona desert accompanied by a man who apparently had just illegally entered the US. The boy and his mother (their names remain unreleased) had just suffered from a car crash Thursday night in which the mother had not survived. The boy’s father had just died two months ago. The boy left the car disoriented but unhurt and was later found by the man whose name is Jesus Manuel Cordova.

Cordova tried to pull the mother out of the car and when he was unable to, he comforted the boy while they waited for help. He also stayed with the boy throughout the night, building a bonfire and lending him his jacket to help with the cold. They were found by hunters, who called the authorities the next day. Cordova was then arrested by Border Patrol agents and returned to Mexico.

I think it was very generous of Cordova to stay with the boy, who had probably experienced some form of trauma brought about by the accident (and perhaps his father’s death just two months ago). It took a lot for him to help the young boy after coming such a long way from Mexico that I think that he shouldn’t have been deported. Shouldn’t he have deserved a chance to get what he came all that way for especially because he helped a traumatized boy?

Helping Afghanistan

The Farm Euro Insurance is now preparing for the Christmas season packing boxes full of jackets, sweatshirts and socks. These boxes are intended to be shipped off to Afghanistan to be donated to children in need.

Apparently the agency is doing this out of inspiration from one of their agents now in Afghanistan, Captain Brian Pinson. Pinson has kept in touch with the agents back home and he told them that all he wanted for Christmas was for donations to be sent to the children of Afghanistan. He reports to them that there is nothing there and that the kids are not prepared for the winter to come.

I am glad to see the people of our country doing something that is almost completely, objectively moral. I am proud to be of a nation that can help others in need.

Friday, November 23, 2007

President Bush Pardons a 21 Week-Old

(This was meant to be my post for yesterday, so forgive me for posting something Thanksgiving-related today)

Out of the 265 million turkeys raised just this year, two were spared from ending up on a dinner table thanks to the annual presidential turkey pardon started by President Harry Truman exactly 60 years ago.

Last Tuesday, President Bush pardoned 21 week-old May as this year's National Thanksgiving Turkey and Flower as May's alternate. May and Flower were raised in Dubois, IN under the direction of Ted Seger, chairman of the National Turkey Federation. After the National Thanksgiving Turkey presentation, May will be flown first class to Orlando to be grand marshal of Disneyworld's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Knowing that one turkey gets first class treatment, doesn't make me feel too bad for the millions of other turkeys that end up getting killed. As admirable as the tradition of saving one (or two!) turkey's life is, I hope you all had a delicious one yesterday!

Less Troops, More Time

The Democratic Party's proposal on Iraq might be successful at bringing troops home without any success at really ending the war. This proposal would require that troops be sent home within 30 days, as President Bush is already working on as he attempts to reverse this year's troop build-up. The proposal also sets a goal of ending combat by December 15, 2008, making troops left behind focus only on three goals: counterterrorism, training Iraqi security forces and protecting U.S. assets, including diplomats.

There are currently 164,000 troops in Iraq and this proposal is estimated to leave as little as a few thousand to at least 70,000 troops in Iraq. However, Maj. Gen. Michael Barbero, Deputy chief of staff for operations in Iraq, states that it would be difficult to accomplish any of the three goals the military has set up without significant US military presence in Iraq.

This proposal angered anti-war groups who feel that such a proposal would only maintain the a long-term US presence in Iraq. Republicans in the Senate also oppose this because they believe it would create an "artificial timetable" on the progress already made in Iraq.

While I feel that this proposal might lessen US military presence in Iraq, I think that a withdrawal of troops should affect all of them rather than just a group of them, whatever size that group may be in number. Since this proposal only serves to withdraw some troops with the possibility of extending the amount of time that the others will remain there, then this proposal is not very helpful for all. Even though this may help decrease the number of military deaths in Iraq, I feel it's quite unfair for some troops to get to return home while others are kept away from their families.

How's Dinner?

Before getting into my post this evening, I would like to congratulate the Aragon Chamber Choir for an excellent performance at the Oakland, California Jack London Square Tree Lighting Ceremony. The choir performed three pieces: Words, Ubi Caritas, and Russian Dance. Al though the group did not place for the competition, it was a great effort and I am proud to have been a part of it.

Now to the good stuff....

With the second term running out for President George W. Bush, he has veered away from big-picture decisions to smaller, more focused actions that he calls "kitchen table issuess". An example of these "kitchen table issues" is the following, Bush recently took a trip to Chesapeake Bay, Maryland to help preserve two species of game fish (ny times). Bush's administrators claim that he is taking these steps in order to "keep his hand in the game", knowing that his administration is known for mainly anti-terrorist actions.

Many people are upset with Bush for many decisions he has made like the war and the huge expenses spent on border control. These actions are obviously ENORMOUS, I wonder if the electorate wants to see Bush make more gigantic moves that will get us out of these dilemmas in stead of little ones that only affect one city.

I ask the readers to answer me this:

What do you make of this kitchen table? How's Dinner?

Do you approve of what Bush is doing with his remaining time?