Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Thought On the Auto Industry

Some quick words of wisdom for Washington: Nobody in the real world likes the bailout. The left doesn't like it. The middle doesn't like it. The right doesn't like it. The reason: it is just plain stupid.

People who gave out loans that they knew couldn't be repaid should not be given a blank check (or any check for that matter) from the American tax payers. The government is giving loans that can't be repaid to businesses that are in trouble because they gave loans that couldn't be repaid (seems rather redundant).

Now the three major U.S. Auto Industries are asking for a loan. They asked for this money after traveling in three separate private jets to Washington, each costing $20,000 for a round trip. We cannot give money to people this greedy. Because of AIG, we know where that money is going to go: golden fountains, sports cars, and luxurious vacations for the CEOs.

If Washington does give the automakers the money they're asking for I would at least like to see a few guidelines for how that money is spent:
1) 50% of the cars they make must be hybrids by 2012, with an additional 25% all-electric.
2) The rest have to have a mileage 25 mpg or better (No more Hummers!)
3) CEOs get paid 100 grand a year (with no benefits).
4) Employees get health care, and a retirement program (no exceptions, ever).
5) CEOs must formally apologize to their employees and beg for their forgiveness.

The fifth rule doesn't have a practical purpose, I just want to see it happen.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Obama = FDR (I hope)

DISCLAIMER: An article by Peter Beinart of Time Magazine (Not equating me to Beinart) makes a similar argument to the one I am about to make. I assure you, however, that my thoughts are original.

In history class, we all learned that history is important because it tends to repeat itself. With this trend in mind, I have begun to wonder: which United States President is Obama most similar to historically?

Many have said that Obama is most similar to Kennedy. Obama is surely similar to Kennedy in age (Obama is 47, Kennedy was 43). They both had cultural differences that made it difficult for them to get elected (Obama is African American, Kennedy was Irish Catholic). For these reasons Obama may be similar to Kennedy culturally, but I find it very hard to find relevant historical similarities between 1960 and 2008.

The president that is most similar to Obama historically (in my oh so very humble opinion) is Franklin Delano Roosevelt. FDR entered the Oval Office after the second-worst president ever, Herbert Hoover (with LBJ at a close third); Obama is entering the Oval office after the worst president ever, George W. Bush. FDR faced the challenge of leading a nation out of the Great Depression; Obama faces the challenge of pulling this country away from an economic crisis that could very well lead to the next Great Depression (and probably will regardless of what Obama does).

Since FDR is (and always will be) my favorite president, perhaps this conclusion is biased. However, I think that Obama can learn many lessons from the 32nd President of the United States. First and foremost, Obama needs to put forth a third New Deal. It must include reformed versions of all of FDR's New Deal programs with an addition of affordable health care for all. Second, Obama needs to put new regulations on the stock market. I've been horrified that Washington hasn't even considered the possibility of freezing the market for a day.

Most importantly, Obama cannot govern from the center. There is a reason why the Democrats have been given a majority in both houses. There is a reason why we have elected a Democrat to the White House. President-elect Obama need not worry about America's fear of liberals. 1968 was 40 years ago; I think America is over its liberalphobia.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Schwarzenegger tells backers of gay marriage: Don't give up

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger of California is requesting that the supreme court overturn the much talked about proposition 8 (a ban on gay marriage). This is truly (in my oh so very humble opinion) one of the bravest moves made by a public servant in the past eight years. Gov. Schwarzenegger has gone against the will of his own party, and even the will of the people, to do what he knows is right.

Having seen this I must ask one question: Why are the Democrats so scared of making gay marriage an issue? During the vice presidential debate (I hate to bring the election up again), Sen. Joe Biden agreed with Gov. Sarah Palin that marriage should be defined between a man and a woman. People who believe in equal marriage rights were not given a choice in the national election, and I fear that they will not have their voices heard by the upcoming administration.

If Gov. Schwarzenegger is successful, he will prove to the citizens of California that gay marriage is not something to feel threatened by. He will also prove to Washington that supporting equal marriage rights, even as a Republican, is not political suicide (hopefully). For this reason, I hope that Gov. Schwarzenegger is successful in his endeavor, and I hope that the people of California will stand behind him.

read more | digg story

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Next Greatest Generation

Although every single person who voted played a vital and admirable role in this historic campaign, I must say that no other demographic proved to be more inspiring than the youth voters (I group that I am proud to be a part of).

For years, people have been saying that young voters will begin to mobilize to make real change, and they have been wrong in saying so until last night. Young people tried to get McGovern elected in 1968; they didn't even get him past the primary (he won the primary in '72 but times were different). Young people tried to get John Kerry elected in 2004; they tragically failed (but they were close).

This time around was different. We had a candidate that we could not only vote for, but work for. Every young person has friends who are enlisted in the military. Many of us were worried (and still are) that they would lose their lives oversees. Obama promised us (a promise we must make sure he keeps) to end this cruel war, and gained our support and love because of it. Obama registered young people (among other demographics) in record numbers, a strategy that proved to work since 66% of young voters went for Obama.

In government class last year (when I was still in high school), volunteers in Fairfax County registered all high school seniors to vote. In the Virginia primaries, you can vote as a seventeen year old so long that you will be eighteen by election day. Nearly every senior in my high school voted in the Virginia primary (and presumably in the presidential election). Although I am no fan of my Alma Mater (never going back), I am very thankful for what they did in those few months leading up to the primary.

In addition to voter registration, volunteers sent out absentee ballot applications to all college students who were not going to be in town on election day. It was because of these efforts that Obama won Virginia. If you were watching MSNBC last night, you would of noticed that Virginia did not go to Obama until they started to count the votes from Fairfax County (The county that certain people had the nerve to call "not real Virginia"). It was because of the efforts of volunteer orginizations, with youth voters as their foot soldiers, that Obama won Virginia. I'm sure that similar cases can be found all across the country.

GenX and the baby boomers have been worrying to much about my generation. I think we have proved to the rest of America that we will be the most diverse, smart, tolerant, prudent, and unified generation this world has ever seen. We know how an election should be run. We know what we should base our decisions on while choosing a candidate (for the most part). We know the challenges we face and how to approach them. We are going to do just fine.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

What This Election Means to Washington

There are many firsts about Sen. (soon to be president) Obama. One, above all, stands out to me: Obama is the first anti-war candidate to win the presidency. In the primaries, we were given two options: a candidate that supported the war (Sen. Clinton) or one that didn't (Sen. Obama). We chose the anti-war candidate, a position that has historically lost presidential elections.

In the presidential election, we were again faced with two options: a pro-war candidate (Sen. McCain) or an anti-war candidate (Sen. Obama). We reiterated what we said in the primaries: we want to end the war.

Obama is the first presidential candidate ever to run on the anti-war platform and win (its too early to say he won, but I think its a safe bet). Having said this, it is up to us to make sure that he sticks to his promise to end the war in Iraq (I have no idea how we are going to do this, but I'm open to ideas).

I can't stop thinking about how amazing this campaign has been. Obama first appeared in the national spotlight four years ago at the Democratic National Convention as a keynote speaker. He was then elected to the U.S. Senate and quickly became a popular figure in American politics. Obama announced his candidacy for President of the Unites States soon thereafter (a bold move to say the least). He built a coalition of Republicans and Democrats calling for change in how Washington works and an end to the war. Two years later, he won the presidential election.

I think the message we clearly sent to Washington is this: We are tired of how things are run. We are tired of lobbyists acting against our own interests.

Most importantly, we want the war to end.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Why am I so Worried About Tomorrow?

The most recent Gallup poll shows Obama winning by 11 points. CNN's electoral map shows Obama winning with 291 electoral votes. With this in mind I would like to ask one question: why am I so scared about tomorrow?

There are only two ways that Obama can loose this election. 1) The Bradley Affect. In this scenario, Obama looses because closet racists claim to vote for Obama, but when they are in the voting booth they vote for McCain. 2)Obama supporters don't show up. This is very unlikely because most Obama supporters aren't voting against something, they are voting for something (I know its cliche, but in this case the term applies).

Maybe I'm worried because I'm a Redskins fan. I'm watching the game right now and the Skins are playing really well. In 2004, the Redskins won on election week and so did Bush. Maybe this is a case where correlation does not imply causality. Or maybe I'm thinking about this too much and freaking myself out. I guess I'll have to be patient; I'll find out soon enough.

Update: Redskins lost, so I don't have to worry about that one.

One Day Left!!!

I find it really hard to believe that it is the day before the election. The election season has been so long that I almost forgot that we are actually voting for one of these people to be the next president (I already voted absentee so it has felt even less real to me).

There are two encounters I have had in the past week that I think characterize two types of voters that can really annoy me. The first one happened about a week ago. I was helping someone study for a chemistry exam when she noticed a big Obama poster I had hung up. Her response was "I'm a Republican but I'm voting for Nader because they both suck!" As the conversation continued another resident (a McCain supporter) walked into my room. The Nader supporter ended up storming out of the room yelling at both of us "I can't believe you're voting for either of them, they both suck!"

I'm not one to discourage third party candidates. They have made the democratic process more effective by preventing politicians from drifting too far to the middle without the worry of loosing the base. I also completely understand her cynicism (and for that matter encourage it). I would even respect her supporting a third party candidate in many previous elections. However, there is a war going on now. In this war (something people tend to forget) people are dying every day. This election is an opportunity to end a cruel and unnecessary war, if not anything else.

The other type of voter that has bothered me is the kind of person which I have nick named "double speak voters." These people are voting for McCain under the assumption that he is simply pandering to the right wing religious nuts, and, once in office, he will revert back to the maverick (that word makes me cringe now) that he once was. This admittedly may or not be true, but it would send a message to politicians that reasonable people don't care if they pander to hateful people that they don't agree with. To vote on such an assumption is undemocratic (to put it lightly).

Here is how democracy should work (in my oh so very humble opinion): you have the candidates. These candidates make their argument for what they would do and why they think it would work. The people listen to the arguments and vote. The winner becomes the next occupant of that office. In closing, I would like to suggest that it may not require two years to carry out this process. Next time, can we please limit this kind of stuff to six months? I don't think my nerves can take another 2 year election.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Why is Sarah Palin Infallible?

In a recent interview, Gov. Sarah Palin claimed that her first amendment rights are in jeopardy by the mainstream media's portrayal of her attacks on Barack Obama's "associations." Palin told Chris Plante, a host on WMAL-AM: "If [the media] convince enough voters that that is negative campaigning, for me to call Barack Obama out on his associations, then I don't know what the future of our country would be in terms of First Amendment rights and our ability to ask questions without fear of attacks by the mainstream media."

I think that in order to put this in context we need to look at the first amendment and what it means: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Just at first glance, it is obvious that it is impossible for the media to, by definition, limit someone's first amendment rights because the first amendment prohibits congress from doing so, not the media. In practice, the first amendment can be extended to all federal and state government offices.

In this context, the only person who is jeopardizing first amendment rights is Palin, a government official attempting to supress the media. The only protection (this is a scary thought) that we have from the lies of politicians is the media. If a politician incorrectly labels another politician (like, say, calling Sen. Obama a Marxist), while credible evidence to the contrary exists in abundance, the media has the right (and the moral obligation) to discredit the claim.

Contrary to Palin's statement, I don't know what would happen to first amendment rights in this country if candidates didn't have to worry about attacks by the mainstream media. I find it hard to believe that Palin hasn't read the first amendment. She has to read it to get to her favorite ammendment, the second, which she believes gives her the right to shoot wolves from a hellicopter (Maybe constitutional law professors would disagree with that interpretation, but hell, it looks way too fun to pass up because of some legal mumbo jumbo).

It goes without saying that Palin's labeling of Barack Obama as a Marxist, terrorist, political operative etc. lacks evidence (to put it lightly, others would call it a lie and they wouldn't be wrong). Imagine what would happen if Sen. Obama said at a rally: "John McCain is an alien sent from Mars to infiltrate the highest level of U.S. government so he can send information back to his home planet about the space program to help them plan an invasion of Earth. Additionally, Cindy McCain is actually Ursula from The Little Mermaid."

Surely, every single journalist in the world would disprove it in a matter of seconds. The front page of every newspaper would be "Barack Obama Lies at Rally." This would then be followed by 24 hour news anchors bringing on UFO experts (if there is such a thing), NASA officials, scientists, historians, and a plethera of other experts onto their shows saying the words: "Barack Obama lied (accept about Mrs. McCain, the jury is still out on that one)."

However, Palin is doing essentially the same thing. She is making false claims about Barack Obama without held accountable for her lies. After getting an immunity card from the media (or whatever they gave her that has made her infallible), she had the nerve to claim that the media is being too critical of her.

The way I look at it, Sarah Palin is one of two things: dumb enough to not understand the first amendment of the constitution (which is really easy to find, its at the top of this list!), or smart enough to know that most of her supporters are too dumb to even spell constitution. In my oh so very humble opinion, its probably the first. (that is not to say, however, that the second half of the second possibility is false.)

Read the amendments of the constitution here; I think we could all use a refresher course.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Bush Pushes EPA to Let Power Plants Pollute More

The EPA is racing to meet a deadline Saturday set by the Bush administration to reduce regulation of pollution of power plants. Under this new regulation, it will be possible for power plants to increase the amount of fuel they burn without installing new controls to limit pollution. Why isn't this a bigger story?

I guess that the Bush Administration is smart in doing this under the cloak of an election. After all, the media has only been covering this election for 2 years, why should they move on to cover something more important now? (sarcasm)

If anything, I would expect that Bush would be trying to increase pollution regulation this close to the end of his term. He would be trying to put in a last minute change to turn this all around, after eight years of taking undeniably the wrong approach to every environmental issue (and every other issue) we face(in my oh so very humble opinion). Instead, he is trying to put one more thing on his oh so very long list of horrible things he has done to this planet. Why do I find this surprising? I shouldn't.

read more | digg story

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The next time a pollster asks you about a candidate's religion, you say: "I don't care."

A recent LA times/ Bloomberg Poll shows that 7% of registered voters in Ohio and Florida believe that Barack Obama is a Muslim. Another 44% in Florida did not know what religion Barack Obama is (that seems like a lot to me). I must admit that a part of me feels like I should not bring it up because it would bring some sort of sense of accomplishment or validity to those who began this smear.

However, I think the reaction to this smear shows a harsh and overlooked reality: throughout this election, Muslims have been demeaned by both Republicans and Democrats in a way that is disgraceful in a country this great. As Colin Powell put it on Meet the Press a few weeks ago: "it doesn't make any difference who you are or what you are, if you're an American, you're an American." What if Barack Obama were a Muslim? (he's not) Should it matter? (no) What if there's a Muslim-American child doing his civics homework who decides that someday he wants to be president? Is someone to tell him: no you can't have your shot at your American Dream because you're a Muslim? (of course not!)

Anytime Obama has been confronted with the question "are you a Muslim?," he has responded with the answer "no I am a christian." In doing so, he has implied that being a Muslim would disqualify him as a candidate. The correct answer to this question (in my oh so very humble opinion) is: "Not that it is any of your business, but I happen to be a Christian. However, if I were a Muslim, there would be nothing wrong with that because we live in a great country where we don't discriminate against people because of their religious beliefs" (or lack thereof for that matter).

So, next time a pollster calls you and asks: "What religion is Barack Obama/John McCain/any other candidate for public office?" you say: "I don't care."

Read more about the poll here

Obama to voters: Our future depends on this week

Obama told voters yesterday that we can't get over confident in the upcoming weeks. Obama is in a safe position, but he can still lose this election if he is not careful. So my advice, if I were given the opportunity to give it, to Barack Obama is to take his own advice.

Obama has a huge lead in the polls that can guarantee him victory on election day (in my oh so very humble opinion). All he needs to do is hold his ground. I hope with every fiber of my being that he doesn't try to reach out to any new demographics. As Kerry learned in 2004, you can't win an election as a Democrat by appealing to the Republican base (I am referring to the cultural ones, not the fiscal conservatives).

Obama will loose too many of his supporters if he goes any further to the right to pander over some more Republicans. He has enough of them as it is. Senator Obama, I beg of you (not that I suspect that you will do this) to stand your ground, stay cool (as you so often did during the debates), and most importantly to remember the promise you made to me and the rest of America when you are finally elected after a two year campaign: to change the way Washington works and end the war.

read more | digg story

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Best Worst President We Could Hope For

I would like to preface this by saying that this election is not yet a forgone conclusion. There are still many things that Democrats can do to lose this election. It is imperative that we do not get overconfident.

Having said this, I think that we can all pause and take a brief sigh of relief to recognize that eight years of the worst presidency ever is almost over. I must admit that in one major way however, (brace yourself for this) that George W. Bush , the unequivocal worst president in United States history (in my oh so very humble opinion) has been good for the democratic process in this country by unintentionally causing a necessary split in the Republican Party (I know it may not sound like a big deal, but stick with me on this one).

What the Republicans are left with is the group that has been a destructive force for American democracy since their emergence as a major political force in 1980: the "moral majority" (because, of course, they are more moral than those horrible people known as democrats), now better known as evangelical voters. George W. Bush won the election in 2004 by mobilizing the right wing evangelicals and alienating everyone else; John Kerry lost the election by doing essentially the same thing.

With Bush's approval ratings so awe-inspiringly (and kind of amusingly) low, McCain will not win by concentrating only on the base. McCain has been given the impossible task of uniting the Republican Party that Bush divided. Bush furthered democracy (unintentionally, mind you) by dividing the Republicans into the two parties that they really are: the right wing religous nuts, and the understandable fiscal conservatives.

This correction that George W. Bush has made to the Republican Party will change the way Washington works for the better. Republicans from more civilized states (yes that wording is intentional) will feel more comfortable voting against old party lines in such non-issues as gay marriage and flag burning while being champions in understandable goals such as cutting spending and reducing the national debt.

For this reason, George W. Bush, who came into power in 2000 in spite of losing the popular vote (and possibly the actual election), suppressed the rights of gays and other minorities, increased the national debt to unprecedented and unimaginable figures, and performed favors for the rich while throwing the less fortunate into the streets, is the best worst president any country could ever hope for.

Many thanks, Governor Bush (as George Carlin put it, governor is the last position he held legally) for being so incompetent, uninformed, out of touch, and in many cases just plain lazy during your eight long, painful years in office. Through your failures, America has learned much about what they really need in a president, and, most importantly, that they should never elect someone like you ever again.