Saturday, October 27, 2007

Why is Gambling Illegal?

I think gambling should be legal, and personally I don't think there is anything wrong with gambling in general.

I strongly disagree with laws like the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act ( that was passed about a year ago. It prohibits online gambling and made many online casinos refuse to take US customers. If people want to gamble in their own homes over the internet, they should be able to. I believe this act restricts people's freedom.

Illegal gambling is quite common and it is very difficult to enforce gambling's illegality.

Overall I think people should be able to gamble if they find it enjoyable.

Obama sponsers concerts with anti-gay singer Donnie McClurkin

I think this issue could harm Obama in the Democratic primaries. Even though he issued a statement saying he disagrees with McClurkin (who thinks that homosexuality is a choice), some people may turn against him because he was involved with McClurkin at all. The article specifically states that John Aravosis, a prominent gay blogger, said that Obama was "sucking up to anti-gay bigots."

I really doubt that Obama can win the Democratic Primary, much less the presidency. Too many people dislike his "lack of experience" and issues like this one with McClurkin can only hurt him

Illegal Use of Campaign Money?

It is surprising how this current topic directly relates to what we were learning in class this week. Remember Idaho Senator Larry Craig, the guy who got busted during a sex sting in an airport (yes him AGAIN). Well this time, it is reported he spent $23,000 of his campaign money to pay lawyers to help him in court for the ethics investigation. If you were one of the individuals who donated money to him to help his election, would you be angered by this? Even though it is not directly affecting his campaign, doesn't using money to prove his innocence indirectly help his campaign? (Does that justify it?) FYI "Campaign finance laws generally ban using such funds on items not directly related to one's official duties as an officeholder or candidate". Post your thoughts!
More information at

Genarlow Wilson Finally Released

Wilson's story is briefly recounted in this article. A more complete and detailed account is here

Basically, when he was 17 Wilson had consentual oral sex with a fifteen year old white girl and was sentenced to 10 years minimum in prison because of an archaic law in Georgia. Wilson had rejected a plea bargain of 5 years and registration as a sex offender. He lost in court and was put in prison.

Shortly after, Georgia changed the archaic law but inexplicably did not free Wilson from prison, specifically wording the law so that it would not be retroactive. In Georgia, the prosecutor has the power to basically pardon the criminal, but Wilson's prosecutor refused to do so.

When I first read this story on espn I was shocked. I can't even undertand how he went to prison with a ten year sentance in the first place, and then afterwords they changed the law and still wouldn't let him out. And the prosecutor repeatedly refused to let him go. I can't imagine how he must have felt.

Now, two years later, he has finally been released.

I have to think there was racism involved in this case. That so many people could have ruled against him or fought against him is really ridiculous. I personally don't think he did anything wrong, but even if one believes that he did, the punishment was still horribly out of proportion to the "crime".

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Heat Is On: SoCal Wildfires

One of the most televised subjects these days happen to be in our home state. I am talking about the widespread wildfires taking place down in Southern California. As the fires still blaze and thousands of acres of land are being destroyed, I can say I am proud of how our State and National government is handling the evacuations and sending the plenty of resources to deal with the fires in a timely manner. It is good to hear the Federal government has sent "12 Defense Department firefighting teams,... and more than 17,000 National Guardsmen are potentially available if needed" according to Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense, Paul Mchale. (Read more at ) California has shown its ability to handle times of crisis having effectively evacuated 800,000 California residents, with only seven deaths. As we well know, nobody (especially the Bush Administration) wants to see a repeat of a Hurricane Katrina crisis and luckily this situation has yet to escalate to that level yet. It is nice to see the government has learned their lesson and now try to act accordingly to deal with disaster. Do you believe these disasters should be solely state issues or should the national government intervene? (and to what extent).

BTW: Clever title is attributed to Mike Kuo

Eliminating Income Tax

One interesting proposal I recently heard is the elimination of income tax. Many people feel that the system of income tax, especially the idea of graduated income tax and tax brackets, is unfair. They say that it's unfair that the more affluent people pay a higher percentage income tax than the poorer people.
In one more specific plan, income tax would be replaced by a sales tax, like we have in California (although much higher). Like state sales tax, costs like food, medicine and rent would be exempted, so that poorer people would not be hurt by having to pay high sales tax on their basic needs.
I think this is a interesting proposal. One positive is that people who don't pay taxes currently (like drug dealers or other criminals) would be basically forced to pay taxes whenever they buy something. Less time would be wasted filling out and processing income tax forms. It would be easier to enforce tax laws. Also, the more people spend, the more tax they would pay, which seems fair. And everyone would have more money in their pockets.
While I doubt such a reform would ever happen, I think the idea has merit.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Globalization and Developing Countries

In 2000, the UN adopted "UN Millennium Development Goals" (, one of which was to "develop a global partnership for development". This basically meant to help developing countries with technology, medicine and foreign aid.
Recently, the UN issued a status report, ( which stated that only a few countries met the UN target of .7 percent of the gross national income, the US not among them. It also states that the rate of increase in development programs will have to triple in the next four years if the donating countries are to deliver on their promises.
Basically, it says that countries are not aiding developing countries enough. My question is should developed countries attempt to aid developing countries, and should they be forced to keep the promises they made? I agree that the world should try to make globalization a positive force. I just don't know if that will be easy, especially as the nations still argue over what programs to implement in developing countries.

Celebrity Influence

As I was looking through the New York Times website, I stumbled across the headline "Obama Event Includes Boxer Mayweather" which got me thinking. Do the endorsement of celebrities and athletes really influence the average American's decision on who to vote for? I can understand how the endorsement from interest group's leader can affect people with that certain point of view to vote similarly, but celebrities and athletes are merely entertainers. Because a celebrities endorsements of political leaders seem to make headlines on a weekly basis, it is logical to assume people actually do care about who George Clooney or Floyd Mayweather vote for. I wonder if the American people have become shallow enough (and maybe even dumb enough) to be influenced by an actor's attractiveness or a certain athlete's jump shot. Even though I may believe that Jessica Alba is the hottest actress on the planet, my vote for who the next president will not be the same as hers solely based on her endorsement. Society has become very superficial in recent times but do you think celebrities have this much control over people? Or do you think the media just makes it seem like celebrity endorsements are a big deal? POST IT.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Bush Asks for Extra 42 Billion for Wars

It really annoys me how President Bush can veto a Children's Health Care Bill because he says it is too expensive, but can ask for an extra 42 Billion dollars from Congress to fight the wars currently in Iraq and Afghanistan. Without adding this increase, the war in Iraq is already costing the Pentagon about 2 billion dollars a week. The President is just piling on more and more money for this hopeless cause. Although I see why President Bush would want to aid our troops and give them as many resources as possible, the greatest help to the troops would be to get them out of enemy territory. I feel all this money being sent overseas could be put to better use to improve life in America such as health care for children. I feel the President should just admit he made a mistake and get America out of Iraq. While I see why it is irresponsible for America to just abandon Iraq, there are no clear or logical solutions other than cutting ties with Iraq.
Do you believe there is any way to effectively deal with this Iraq issue? And also do you believe it is justified to put so much money in a war where winning is almost impossible?

The War on Drugs

For decades, the US has fought a "War on Drugs", intended to stop the shipment and use of psychoactive substances in the country. This costs the government billions of dollars each year, and is in my opinion wholly unnecessary. Putting drug offenders in prison with violent criminals is ridiculous in my opinion.
From an ideological standpoint, I would rather see all drugs be legalized and regulated, giving people the choice of whether to use them or not. Now I understand that such a stance could be harmful in reality, but I definitely believe that money is better spent on teaching people the harmful effects of drug use and setting up rehabilitation clinics. The dollars spent fighting, prosecuting, and detaining drug users should be instead spent on these measures.
Using drugs can certainly be unhealthy (obviously in varying levels depending on the drug) but I don't really believe that the government should ban people from doing something simply because it is unhealthy. I guess I believe that drug use is a "victimless crime". There should at least be lesser penalties for drug users, simply because they aren't really hurting anyone but themselves, and that is punishment enough. People that are addicts have trouble getting help because they are criminals to the government. It also doesn't make sense that some unhealthy, addictive activities like drinking, smoking and eating junk food not punished while drug use is. I think that most people that will do drugs will do them regardless of their legality.
As Ron Paul said on the subject "The government can't make you a better person".

Monday, October 22, 2007

Why Run If You Don't Stand a Chance in Winning?

With the Primary Election coming up, many politicians are battling it out to win the title as their party's representative for the presidential election. While I was looking at the list of people running under each party, I realized there were a bunch of names I have never even heard of. I am pretty sure the majority of people cannot even tell me which party Tom Tancredo is running for. There are many other names such as Mike Gravel and Dennis Kucinich that are unknown to me. Although I am not the smartest when it comes to political knowledge, I can surely guarantee that the candidates mentioned above will not win the presidency in 2008.
I wonder how if it is worth it to run for presidency if you know you have no chance in hell of winning. I know miracles can happen but I bet these candidates are realistic and know in their minds they won't win. How do you feel about these bottom feeder candidates who run even though they don't stand a chance in winning? Do you think it is worth while for these candidates to campaign and use (waste) their fund raised money (from their few supporters) even if they know they are going to lose? POST YOUR THOUGHTS!

Events with disproportionate media coverage

Over the years, I have noticed that the major news outlets seem to have constant coverage of events that don't necessarily deserve it. For example, this year's "Trapped Miners" story was covered for multiple weeks as a national story, when it only directly affected people in a small area. I could see it becoming a local or even statewide story, but I don't understand why it was such a large national story. Another example of this was the whole Terry Schiavo case that recieved coverage for years. While I think that story was overly covered by the media, at least it had an underlying principle (whether the husband or the parents had the right to decide what to do with her). Many of these stories are simply irrelevant to the nation, and will have no long lasting impact. I guess people like hearing about these stories, but I personally find them annoying and feel that they distract viewers from more important news.

Factions & Factcheck, revisited

As a follow up to the post about Armenia, I offer you this.
This stems from a controversial book that gets into the influence of AIPAC, the primary pro-Israel lobby in the US.

And worth a bookmark in general, here is the Annenberg center site that calls out misleading claims made by politicians, in ads and otherwise.