Saturday, January 5, 2008

OK, for all those who need points, this one is pretty easy to get!

So I am a huge fan of YouTube, like many others and I came across this. I think this actually proves how uninformed voters are and why we get presidents who America does not like. This post is not against Obama in any way, rather just an informal posting to reveal American intelligence.

Statistics Anyone?

OK, as everyone knows the BIG Iowa results came through. And yes, many people became new fans in Obama and Huckabee. But it is only Iowa some may feel. Iowa currently is responsible for 7 electoral votes. Yep a huge SEVEN votes out of the 538 votes. For the mathy people out there, yes Iowas is equal to 1.3% out of the entire process, and would aid a candidate with 2.59% of the electoral votes they would need to become president. So yes, the question definitely needs to be, how can such a small percentage of Americans, have such a huge influence? Especially as Mr. Silton pointed out, one primarily composed of whites. They should not in my opinion. I do not care who wins the Iowa caucus, but the people who fund campaigns do! And unlike the 60 or so of us who study government, many Americans vote based on not wanting to choose the losing presidential candidate. So that is how Iowa gains its power.

Do you think it is fair, I sure don't. PS, New Hampshire will bring 4 electoral votes to which ever president the state decides to vote for. Yep a staggering .7% of the electoral college and they are almost as influential as Iowa.

Friday, January 4, 2008

The independents matter in New Hampshire

With the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday, the candidates have already moved passed Iowa and are thinking about their next step.
New Hampshire is one of the few states that holds open primaries allowing independents to vote in either party's primaries. And because 44% of the registered voters in New Hampshire are not associated with either the Democratic or Republican parties, these independent voters will clearly have a huge part in determining the winners of this contest.
According to the Wall Street Journal, this will greatly help Obama and McCain, the nonconformists.
Because Obama won Iowa, independents that were on the edge before will gain more confidence in him and his experience.
On the Republican side, Huckabee's win in Iowa weakened Romney's campaign. This helped McCain because he and Romney are the two Republican front runners in New Hampshire. Also, in the 2000 election 62% of independents voted for McCain helping him win the New Hampshire primary.
According to a CNN poll, this year, however, 63% of independents will likely vote Democratic.
So, who knows, Obama may win again and McCain seems like he has a very good shot of succeeding in this primary as well.

What is with this weather?

With hundreds of thousands of homes losing power today in Northern California, everyone is wondering what is going on.
California has not seen a storm like this since 1996 and is expecting for the storm to last through Sunday.
Here is a little update on what is going on throughout the state.

A Hero's Last Words

Read this and weep.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Obama Wins Big

Yo! A state 96% White just vaulted Barack Obama into front-runner status for the US Presidency. Half the caucus-goers were participating for the first time; Obama got nearly 60% of the vote of people under age 30. This qualifies as a political phenomenon, one of the more exciting moments in US politics in my lifetime.

Just when I was going to give up on this place...

Despite the objectively low participation rates in the Iowa caucuses (higher than ever, but still less than 15% of those eligible), the process I saw tonight was real democracy and I was pleased. You have to admire seeing elementary school libraries overflowing with people willing to listen and vote publicly.

Disclosure: I more or less decided to vote for Obama after hearing him for the first time at the 2004 Democratic Convention; I just loved his appeal to national unity and mutual respect and felt (rather than merely thought) that he would be President sooner or later. I am so tired of being cynical that I want to believe in his authenticity, and I hope that isn't blinding me, but seeing Iowa gradually tilt to Obama over time has helped validate that gut feeling I had 4 years ago; if his unity theme was superficial, eventually it would show, especially in a "retail" politics state like Iowa. So, at the risk of cliche, what went down in Iowa the past 6-8 weeks might qualify as historic. If Obama is how he presents himself -- as something more than a set of positions and a political strategy -- he has real potential to be a global leader. This could all turn out to be just a flash in the pan, but I don't think so. This feels different.

PS: most of my political predictions over the years have been wrong, but I am happy to have been correct about Hillary peaking too early, wearing thin on voters "up close" and the Biden/Richardson/Dodd/Kucinich voters tilting to Obama once their first choice candidate fell by the wayside. If this last trend holds -- especially with Edwards, who I think will fade pretty quickly -- it gives Obama a clear path to the nomination. And yeah, I was talking up McCain 3 months ago, too. Speaking of McCain, his resurgent strength in New Hampshire is the Hillary camp's biggest hope -- that he'll siphon off independent voters (NH has an open primary) who otherwise might have gone for Obama, dampening the bandwagon effect. I don't think it will play that way, but we'll see in 5 days...

Cloned Products in the Near Future?

As early as next week, the FDA may declare cloned animals and their products safe to eat. In 2006, the FDA tentatively ruled that cloning was simply "'a more advanced form' of breeding technologies already widely used in the cattle industry, such as artificial insemination, embryo transfer and in vitro fertilization."

On the plus side, lifting the informal ban on selling cloned food products may lead to superior food items, such as leaner and larger cuts of meat.

On the flip side, the allowance of genetically modified food items would not only allow biotech companies to monopolize the market, it would also introduce hard-to-track food products. That is, if tracking systems are insufficient, consumers may not be able to choose whether they are eating natural food or not.

Then again, many products on shelves today include technological innovations such as pasteurized milk and any items with genetically modified corn or soybeans.

What do you think about the rise of GMOs/cloning? Do you support this show of progress? Do you think the FDA should refrain from approving them before any long-term effects can be demonstrated? Is this the answer to world hunger? Would you like to know what exactly is in your food?

California Primaries Rise in Significance

Now that Obama and Huckabee have won the Iowa caucuses, California's role in the primaries has become more important. Over the last few elections, the California primaries have been pushed from March 7 in 2000 to March 2 in 2004 to a huge jump to February 5 in 2008.

As we learned in class, earlier primaries mean a bigger impact on the overall primary election. However, analysts say that California's impact can be more decisively seen after New Hampshire's primary--if a candidate from either side wins both the Iowa and New Hampshire primaries, California will be less relevant as the race would already be lopsided. If both primaries are split between two winners, there will be more incentive to win California and thus for candidates to cater to California voter's interests.

Any speculations on who will win California?

This Is Why I am Voting for Mike Huckabee

Just watch it, it is self explanatory!

And yes it is true, if you watched the interview of Mike after the results of the Caucus you did see the "Man" in the background.

Iowa Caucus Explanation and Update

We have heard so much about the Iowa caucus. But I know that we all don't really know what goes on in this small state with lots of power. So here is a very brief summary of what has been going on today:
At 7:00 p.m. 1,781 caucuses started. Normally, the turnout at this contest is very low, so every vote counts. (One strategy that the Obama used to gain more votes was to organize babysitters for people attending the caucus.) The Republicans and Democrats have different ways of conducting their caucuses. The Republicans have each caucus-goer give support once to a candidate. However, the Democrats have a two part process. First, the caucus-goers say which candidate they support. Then, if their first choice does not get 15% of the support, they must say who their second choice is.
As of right now (not all of the votes have been counted), here is how the votes are turning out:
Democrats: (85% of the precincts have been reported)
Obama 37%
Clinton 30%
Edwards 30%
Republicans: (65% of the precincts have been reported)
Huckabee 34%
Romney 25%
Thomson 14%
McCain 13%
Giuliani 4% (He has been focusing his campaign more on Super Tuesday)

Recess is in Session?

Not my best play on words, but it is alright. This being an election year, investors are counting their fingers waiting to see who gets elected and how they will effect the overall economy. According to CNBC, today their were not to many fears of an upcoming recession. However, in my opinion would a market channel publicly announce that "A recession is coming" blatantly, just as the colonists yelled the "British are coming" to prepare? If any report gave news that they were confident of an upcoming recession, a reliable report of course, not only would billions of dollars be lost through investors taking out their money, but come on, even the news site would lose viewers/readers as Americans would not want to spend their money! (A little drastic)

If anyone wants to hear what the Trillion Dollar Survey reported on CNBC, check out this link. It is a collection of the nation's top money managers, investment strategists and professional economists.

Iowa Caucus

The Iowa Caucus starts tomorrow. Check out the graph on this web page to see who is leading.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Tom Lantos announces retirement

This morning Democratic Congressman and chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Tom Lantos, announced that he will not be seeking reelection to the House due to cancer in his esophagus. He has been in Congress since 1981 and is known best for being a Holocaust survivor, an advocate for human rights, and a supporter of Bush's war policy and the war in Iraq.

If he had chosen to run again, he would be running against Jackie Speier in this years Congressional election.

How do you think this will affect Congress? I feel that it will be a huge loss because he has been a very effective and well respected Congressman over the past 27 years; however, it will also window of opportunity for someone with differing opinions on the war in Iraq.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Same-Sex Divorce

In Massachusettes, a new problem is challenging the legal system: same-sex divorce. This is a messy issue for many reasons: in cases of child custody, the maternal preference doesn't apply because there are either two mothers or none at all; it's hard for some couples to find lawyers familiar with how the law affects gay divorce; if a gay couple was married in Massachusettes, both people must remain residents in Massachusettes in order to get a divorce because other states may not grant divorces as they may not recognize the marriage in the first place; divorced same-sex couples can be financially ruined as the IRS does not recognize same-sex marriages and so the support money paid from one spouse to the other is not tax deductible, etc.

A good example of some of the complications the question of same-sex divorce presents is child custody--a child born to a heterosexual couple is considered a child of the marriage whether or not both spouses are its biological parents. However, a child in a homosexual marriage must be adopted by both spouses or else give up any legal attachment to the spouse that has not adopted it. Because of this rule, spouses have lost children that were not their biological offspring as well as child support money (because the other spouse had no legal obligation to the kid).

A further complication is seen through a lesbian couple who married in Massachusettes and then moved to Rhode Island. Although they now wish to get divorced, there is no way to do it unless they move back to Massachusettes and establish residency for one year before filing for divorce.

This raises a question debated between the presidential candidates in our election simulation - should the federal government intervene in this issue or stay out of it? Will leaving it to the states cause too much confusion?

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!

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.