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.

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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.