Sunday, November 30, 2008

Will Clinton and Obama work well as a team?

Most people agree that President Elect Obama and Hillary Clinton are strong, capable leaders, especially when it comes to foreign policy. But can they work well together? Technically, The President and his Secretary of State should work very very closely and have very similar goals and plans. Clinton and Obama do not have the same strategies when it comes to foreign policy, but it seems that they are going to be working together despite all this. Can it work? Would it be a good choice?

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Bush Supports India

Bush says he “pledges full support of the United States as India” recovers from recent terrorist attacks. He seemed to encourage the people of the US that this conflict will be resolved, stating “The people of India are strong. They have built a vibrant, multi ethnic democracy. They can withstand this trial”. How India's democracy will enable them to beat terrorism went over my head, but at least their government is united enough to begin conducting investigations and to begin seeking some sort of recovery/resolution. Either way, they have our help, as FBI agents have been sent to India and others are monitoring the situation. Speculation reveals that the group responsible is “a previously unknown Muslim group with a name suggesting origins inside India”. Although, the sole surviving member of the terrorist group is Pakistani. Therefore, India has jumped to blame Pakistan for the attacks while Pakistan “vehemently defended itself against allegations that it was involved in the attacks”. In addition, Pakistan seems hurt by the charges, as Pakistan's Ambassador to the US Husain Haggani was quoted stating that “it is unfair to blame Pakistan or Pakistanis for these acts of terrorism even before an investigation is undertaken”. So now the US is concerned about the tension between India and Pakistan, since the finger pointing has begun. Nonetheless, even American counter terrorism officials have found clues that are consistent with the style of Pakistani militant groups. These groups have been known to fight with Indian troops in the disputed region of Kashmir on the outskirts of the Himalayas. It seems to me the America's involvement can't be helping the tension between India and Pakistan. Furthermore if India has such a swell democracy they should be able to resolve the conflict themselves without our involvement. What do you say?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

"Obama wants blackberry and kids who do chores"

Hmmmm. I am taking the time to post this because I happen to find it amusing. Apparently, Obama has been arguing with his staff, insisting on finding a way to keep his Blackberry as the President because it is essential to his ability to conduct business...rather like teenagers an thier cell phones....does this mean our President to be is organized and careful, or overdependent on technology like the rest of us. In addition, he has claimed that his two daughters are going to be raised without special treatment and are going to be "Special only to their parents." On her last visit to the White House, Michelle Obama reportedly asked the White House staff to nix the maid service on the girls, who will be responsible for making their beds and cleaning up after themselves. There is no information as to if she requested the same lack of sevice for herself and her husband. Do you think she did? Just a little light-hearted blogging in the spirit of the holiday weekend. Gobble Gobble.

Obama Begins Choosing War Cabinet

Names are beginning to be floated for President Elect Obama's security team. His choices appear to reveal general bias for competent, experienced, Military-based individuals.....surprise, surprise. But the names currently in the airwaves include retired Marine general James Jones as National Security Advisor, and Robert Gates is to be maintained as Secretary of Defense. The best aspect of these choices would be that the continutity should help is strategize in Iraq. To be perfectly honest, I'm not sure exactly what this would mean for our country in terms of security and defense. Any thoughts?

Schwarzenegger Ends Gerrymandering!

Schwarzenegger's Prop 11, the redistricting plan taking control away from elected representatives and putting it into the hands of a bipartisan panel, is celebrating a victory with a 200 000-vote lead. The governor, frustrated by partisan divide in the capital has encouraged more competition in legislative elections, in hopes of bringing moderates from both ends of the spectrum into legislation. His philosophy is that this “will make it easier to reach agreements on budget reform and other state issues”. The passage is good for the governor because such legislation is something he's “been talking about since day 1 and it will be an important part of his legacy”.

Currently, Legislature draws the districts its members represent, which leads to efforts to “marginalize the minority party and to draw districts that favor incumbents of both parties. Schwarzenegger explains that when this happens “you have politicians picking votes rather than voters picking politicians”. The changes could bring increased competition for legislative seats across the state. The new rules of redistricting, which will start with the 2010 census, require a 14-member committee composed of multi-partisan individuals who will draw the congressional boundaries for the Assembly, the State Senate and Board of Equalization. The new rules do not allow space for “considering incumbent politicians or party registration numbers”. Instead they will create “communities of interest” and the districts will be composed of neighborhoods.

Prop 11, however will lead to changes not favorable to Democrats. The Democrats believe “as long as they control the redistricting gerrymander, they'll never loose control of the Legislature”. But, the reason why Prop 11 passed, in contrast to similar reform measures, such as Prop 77 in 2005, is that the Democrats did not fund the opposition team as strongly as they had in the past. Instead, Schwarzenegger put in his own $3million to support the measure, and good government groups, such as the AARP, Common Cause and League of Women Voters, raised $15million to support the bill, overshadowing the opposition's $10million. In addition, all the other important measures on the ballot allowed redistricting initiatives to “[fall] by the wayside in this month's election, overshadowed by the presidential race and Proposition 8. So because of the Democrats “other priorities”, their Congressional seats may not be as stable as they once were. Yet we all know the power of the incumbency and so I don't foresee massive changes in our legislature. But nonetheless, congratulations to the governor for his long sought victory, and may be have a more effective legislature in the future!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Don't Put Your Shirts Away Yet...

In spite of a cease fire, there is evidence that Sudan is still conducting military activity in Darfur. The UN/African Union UNAMID peacekeeping force investigated reports of air strikes, initiated by the Sudanese government, between November 21 to 22. There are visible effects of the air strikes, in the form of craters which would have been created by bombing and "the presence of unexploded ordnance on the ground".

This evidence of military activity is particularly upsetting due to the government's call for an immediate ceasefire on November 12, just one week ago. In addition, Sudan is heightening efforts to protect President Omar Hassan al-Bashir from charges of involvement in war crimes in Darfur (which include "10 counts of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity"). The Darfur conflict is 5 years old and has killed 200 000 while driving 2.5 million people from their homes.

And so, unfortunately, its still politically correct to sport our "stop genocide in Sudan" t's.


I've found other speculation that this ceasefire was initiated in hopes of persuading the UN to cease its indictment of the Sudanese president, Mr. Bashir. In addition, the call for a ceasefire was created by the Qatari-backed initiative, which the rebel groups did not join. Without the involvement of the rebel groups, Sudan is unlikely to achieve a state of peace.
Read more: http://www.csmonitor.com/2008/1113/p99s01-duts.html

Shop and Be Optimistic!

Today, during Obama's third news briefing of the week, he encouraged the nation to remain optimistic about the economy. He pledges to have an economic plan ready by day one, although the details of this plan remain unknown. They will surely be formulated by Obama's economic advisors and other members of his cabinet, which appear to include NY Federal Reserve President Tim Geithner and Congressional Budget Office Director Peter Orszag. Geithner, along with a few others, were members of Clinton's cabinet. In response to criticism about his choices coming from the Clinton administration, he stressed the importance of recycling employees saying "...I don't want to....somehow suggest that because you served in the last Democratic administration, that you're somehow barred from serving again." As to how these leaders and advisors will deal with his promises for change he plans to use them in order to "combine experience with fresh thinking". These plans and developments for the future of legislation justified Obama's message to the nation in lieu of the upcoming shopping season. He told the nation in his briefing that "People should understand that help is on the way" and that "as they think about the Christmas season that is coming up, [he] hopes that everybody understands that we are going to be able to get through these difficult times". Whether or not these words have a legitimate backing or not, they are an encouraging thing to hear. And there is some evidence of recovery, as the Dow Jones industrials climbed 247 points, which is significant because it will be the first time since the spring that for four consecutive sessions the average rose. So amid all the numbers, Obama insists that "we've gone through recessions before, we've gone through difficult times before, that [his] administration intends to get this economy back on track". It does sound nice, at least.

Holiday Uh Oh! At the White House

Our president and his wife, the first lady sent out the invitation inviting the leaders of America's Jewish community to the Hanukkah reception at the white house without paying close enough attention. The card they sent out had a picture of a Christmas Tree being pulled to the white house by a horse-drawn cart that had the words "White House Christmas Tree 2008" on it as well as Christmas wreaths in all the windows.

"Jewish community leader Isaac Abraham of Brooklyn had a simpler explanation.

"It's obvious what's going on here: The Christmas tree is being taken out of the White House and the menorah is being brought in the back," he quipped."


Note, both picture and article are in the link

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Zimbabwe refuses Carter

Former US President Jimmy Carter, former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Graca Machel (Nelson Mandela's wife) attempted to visit Zimbabwe (in Southern Africa) for a humanitarian effort—to speak with Zimbabweans and assess their situation—they are victims of hyperinflation and are facing immediate starvation in addition to an outbreak of cholera. Zimbabwe's crisis is due to internal leadership issues, which began in the spring and have deteriorated since. President Robert Mugabe has refused to step down after an inconclusive March election which caused a runoff with opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai. The two have not be able to reach a power sharing agreement, despite pressure from other African nations that Mugabe should yield power after his 28 years in office. Mugabe has refused to issue these humanitarians a visa and the local newspaper stated that the prospective visitors were hostile to Zimbabwe. Carter, Machel and Annan were hoping to get a first hand sense of the crisis facing Zimbabwe and asses the nations needs, while ensuring the people of Zimbabwe that they are not alone. Despite not being able to enter the country, Carter said he believes the situation in Zimbabwe is much worse than expected. Most do not have an optimistic view of the problems Zimbabwe faces—South African President Kgalema Motlanthe stated that “Zimbabwe may implode and collapse” if the “root cause of this political absence of a legitimate government” is not resolved. With humanitarian efforts blocked, it appears the only hope for Zimbabwe lies in pressuring the country to take initiative to help its people and itself. South Africa has begun withholding $3.3 million in agricultural aide to the nation until the government and the opposition forces of Tsvangirai have reached an agreement. Other African nations have been encouraged to do the same. This appears to be a conflict only Africa herself can solve, since no others seem capable of penetrating the forces of Mugabe.

Race, Religion, Eight

Prop 8, the now infamous gay marriage ban, continues to cause controversy. Speculation reveals the role of Catholic Bishops and African Americans in contributing to passage of the bill, as reported by The Chronicle. While San Francisco houses many gay Catholics, and Catholic churches are friendly to gays, bishops continued to maintain traditional views on marriage, and were not afraid to share them with their congregations. Clearly San Francisco churches are not in accord with the times—while willing to accept gays in their congregations, they do not appear to accept their lifestyles. This would force many who have gay friends, whom they support, to choose between them and their church. A tough decision. Which leads to tension—the “teaching church and teaching bishops” and “faithful people with very strong personal opinions”; and leaves us with the question: “How do all those come together in a way that is fruitful and authentic?” It appears until there is a resolution to this, progress will remain stalled.

Although, Prop 8. started another form of progress. At a No on 8 forum, participants agreed that they will not allow Prop. 8 to create divisions among the African American community and the gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender community. This is a good sign, when some feel that the result of a poll justifies blaming the African American community for the passage of Prop 8. This exit poll, produced by CNN said that 70 percent of African Americans had voted yes on 8. A No on 8 campaign worker noted that “In less than 24 hours, you had rampant reporting that African Americans voted yes on 8. You couldn't get away from it”. Despite such reports, most find that this “viewpoint [of voting yes on 8] wasn't reflected among...friends and associates”. In spite of this, others are willing to blame internal issues within the No on Prop 8 campaign itself for the defeat. Some said that the campaign was not culturally competent and that it should have extended into areas in San Fransisco and the greater Bay Area where there is a less friendly attitude toward gays. Despite all this, gay marriage supporters appear to be attempting to reexamine their strategies and work together—instead of pointing fingers—which can only be good news.

Internet Activists Aren't Done With Involvement

During his campaign, Obama managed to obtain a huge support base through the Internet. People self organized to support him on social networking sites. Now that the campaign is over, these individuals have not returned to their normal lifestyles. They want more. And Obama and his team are willing to give it to them. Obama has continued to post videos about the activities of his transition groups, while including speeches and other useful information. This is helpful because it counters the news media's 30 second sound bytes from his speeches and other addresses—Americans now have the opportunity to get the full story. And the involvement doesn't end there. Obama and his staff hope to direct this positive and hyperactive electorate energy in a positive direction. They have begun by conducting polls asking what type of involvement these activists are hoping for, along with what they feel are the most important goals for the “movement”. The general feeling about this public activism is that their energy will come from government meeting them “in the middle”. Mostly their goal for channeling this energy is to advance policy. If the electorate's Internet activism was so influential in Obama's election, hopefully their energy and influence will help his policy initiates. The hope is that there will be “a new campaign to help Barack win big changes—like health care and clean energy”. But ultimately, Obama's main purpose in his continued use of the Internet to connect with the electorate is in hopes of making government more transparent.

Has Obama already initiated the change he promised?—never before has the electorate been this excited and passionate about the possibility for reform and the capabilities of government.

Finally!! Some money thrown to the consumers instead of the banks!

The Federal Reserve introduced two new programs to help out the consumers in this crisis.

The first program details how the Federal government will buy up to 100,000,000,000 ( or 100 billion) dollars with of debt issued by govt.-sponsored morages enterprises (Fannie, Freddie, and Federal Home Loan Banks) and up to 500,000,000,000 dollars of mortgage securities backed by Fannie, Freddie and Ginnie Mae.

Program number two lauches a 200,000,000,000 dollar facility to "support consumer finance, including student (woot!), auto, and credit card loans and loans backed by federal Small Business Administration" which will lend to investors who hold securities backed by this debt. There is a safety net as well! (gasp!) $20 billion will come from the $40 billion in allocated funds from the $700 billion rescue fund that will help cover any losses the Fed might face.
Hopefully by detracting from the massive amounts of debt plaguing American citizens people will begin to invest again and American will find itself moving back onto the track to economic prosperity. I can only hope the government has found someway to pay for this and/or will be making cuts accordingly otherwise we may rescue the populus only to have to dig the government out and there will be inflation like nobody's business but with any and all luck we won't be using it to fuel our fires or as toys any time soon.

Cross your fingers and hope we make it out of this with both economy and global reputation/status intact.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Bush Pardons 14 and Commuted the Prison Sentences of Two

Bush takes some time out of the remaining two months he has left in office to pardon 14 individuals, whose crimes vary, and commute the sentences of two others. This may seem like a lot of pardons all at once, but he has been remarkably stingy and has only given out 171 pardons and 8 commutes including these, which, believe it or not, is less than half of the number given out by both Clinton and Reagon, both of whom were two-term presidents!
Whether or not Bush will be able to handle the sudden influx of people asking for pardons is another question, but more importantly, whether or not he will pardon those involved with the violent interrogations of individuals thought to have been involved with the 9/11 attack.

The debate lies in this,should the fact they were just trying to protect their county or were just following orders keep them from being charged for war crimes or other criminal charges?

Obama Names His Economic Team

For those of you who don't know, today Obama named key members of the economic team for his administration including New York Federal Reserve President Timothy Geithner as his Treasury Secretary nominee and former Harvard President Lawrence Summers as the director of the National Economic Council. Their first job during these next few weeks will be to define the details of a two-year recovery plan that will eventually create 2.5 million jobs. The team will also be charged with overseeing the dispersal of the funds from the ginormous wad of cash our government has decided to throw at the economy in response to the recent crisis.
Obama's choices have given the stock market a brief rise although it seems to fluctuates at the drop of a hat these days. Hopefully the people President Elect Barak Obama has picked the right people to lead us through this crisis and their effect will not be limited to a brief rise in the stock market.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

gobble, gobble, gobble

With thanksgiving coming and this week having been such a bleak news week, I thought I would end my blogging week with a bit of comedy...unless of course you are a turkey. As Sarah Palin was giving an interview after the traditional governor's turkey pardon, she talked about the state of Alaska, her agenda and energy, oblivious to the fact that turkeys were being slaughtered behind her. While I am not sure whether this was her fault or an aids fault, it certainly wasn't a pretty picture. Anytime the news commentator has to come on and tell viewers that they might want to turn off the TV because of carnage, I definitely don't think you want to be the oblivious governor in the front of that screen shot.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Better safe than sorry

As planning for the inauguration of Barack Obama continues at full speed, many security measure have been taken into account. Washington is bracing for the largest crowds in inaugural history, an estimated FOUR MILLION people will watch President-elect Barack Obama be sworn in to office.

Despite the fact that there has never been an assassination attempt at a persidental inauguration, threats against Obama have been higher than any other president-elect in American history so some precautions are being take. They range from thousands of video cameras, sharpshooters, air patrols, searches by machines and security personnel, undercover officers, and bomb sniffing dogs to countersnipers who are trained to hit a target the size of a teacup saucer from 1,000 yards away.

So for those who are going on the Washington trip watch out for suspicious activity and remember...you can run but you can't hide.

Obama's Communications Team

Downsizing...? Downsizing?

The stock market's crash and the shakiness of the economy continues to affect working Americans. Companies are still trying to cut down on spending by laying off employees left and right. Although this seems like a necessary move on the business's part, it definitely causes concern for most Americans. Citizens throughout the country are losing their jobs, losing their homes, and are worrying about what tomorrow will bring and how their bills will ge paid. It is very depressing to see America in this state and the country needs to take action right now. Since people have lost their jobs, spending has gone down and it seems like a never ending downward cycle...Hopefully Obama's economic plan (which we blogged about earlier) will be just what this country needs.

If you want information on which companies are downsizing (in the words of Dwight Schrute) go to the following site!

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/27840008/

Obama's economic plan

In what could have been a speech by FDR, president-elect Barack Obama promoted his economic plan today. His plan will supposedly create 2.5 million jobs by rebuilding roads and bridges and modernizing schools while developing alternative energy sources and more efficient cars. Obama explains that it will take support from Democrats and Republicans to pass the economic plan, Obama said. "I'll be welcome to ideas and suggestions from both sides of the aisle," he said. "But what is not negotiable is the need for immediate action." This is huge proactive change from the current administration, which has done almost nothing to try to create jobs and make effective changes. Will the plan work? I guess we will just have to wait and see.

Friday, November 21, 2008

It's down, it's down, no wait it's up?

Wall Streets incredible volatility continued today with the Dow rising 494 points. Why? It didn't rise because of better unemployment numbers, better economic indicators, an improvement in the housing market, or even a change in the value of the dollar. So what was it? Obama announced today that he will nominate New York Federal Bank President Timothy Geithner as his new Treasury secretary. It was this announcement that seemed to prompt the rally. Investor confidence has lessened to the point that any glimmer of hope seems to bring about short term gain. This just goes to show how little confidence people really have in our current administration. Even this small hint of intelligent change brought about positive result on Wall Street. When investigators wake up on Monday and realize that the Bush administration hasn't changed, who knows what’s going to happen. I wish I could be more optimistic.

For more info:
http://money.cnn.com/2008/11/21/markets/markets_newyork/index.htm?postversion=2008112118

Thursday, November 20, 2008

...and you would think they would be smarter, wouldn't you?

Genius political one-liners can have the power to stick with voters throughout a politician's campaign. They can create an image of a politician that represents them forever...but this may not be such a good thing for some..It is incredible that despite all that a politician does and sacrifices for the country, their entire career can be destroyed by a single one-liner...but do they deserve it? That's for you to decide!

The following is a collection of the top ten unfortunate political one-liners of America's history:
"I am not a crook." -Richard Nixon, 1973
"I did not have sexual relations with that woman." -Bill Clinton, 1998
"Read my lips: no new taxes." -George H.W. Bush, 1988
"The fundamentals of the economy are strong." -John McCain 2008
"I've looked on a lot of women with lust. I've committed adultery in my heart many times." -Jimmy Carter, 1976
"It's vile. It's more sad than anything else, to see someone with such potential throw it all down the drain because of a sexual addiction."- Mark Foley, 1998
"We still seek no wider war."- Lyndon B. Johnson, 1964
"That depends on what the meaning of 'is' is." -Bill Clinton, 1998
"The fundamental business of the country, that is, production and distribution of commodities, is on a sound and prosperous basis." -Herbert Hoover, 1929
"You know, I always wondered about that taping equipment but I'm damn glad we have it, aren't you?" -Richard Nixon, 1973

Depressing News

With all of the talk regarding the bailout, the newly elected president, and other economic issues, it’s easy to ignore the long term global destabilization that is likely to bring about increased terrorism and even increase the chance of nuclear weapons being used. I think the fact that Europe and Asia followed in the US economy’s downturn, reinforces how interconnected the world has become. The “smaller” world we inhabit really increases the scariness of existential threats brought about by rouge states with high tech weapons. US intelligence sources revealed today, that nuclear warfare is becoming increasingly likely in the future. The world seems headed down a path that will include more nuclear weapons by rogue states, population increases in the poorest parts of the world, climate shifts brought about by global warming, and terrible food shortages. (Just the highlights from a long list of depressing future possibilities.) Maybe, the nightly news isn’t so depressing after all.


Nuclear weapons use more likely in future: US intelligence

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The use of nuclear weapons will grow increasingly likely by 2025, US intelligence predicted Thursday in a report on global trends that forecasts a tense, unstable world shadowed by war.
"The world of the near future will be subject to an increased likelihood of conflict over scarce resources, including food and water, and will be haunted by the persistence of rogue states and terrorist groups with greater access to nuclear weapons," said the report.
"Widening gaps in birth rates and wealth-to-poverty ratios, and the uneven impact of climate change, could further exacerbate tensions," it concludes.
Called "Global Trends 2025 - a Transformed World," the 121-page report was produced by the National Intelligence Council, a body of analysts from across the US intelligence community.
It has good news for some countries. Among its conclusions:
-- A technology to replace oil may be underway or in place by 2025;
-- Multiple financial centers will serve as "shock absorbers" of the world financial system;
-- Global power will be multipolar with the rise of India and China, and the Korean peninsula will be unified in some form.
But the report also says some African and South Asian states may wither away altogether, organized crime could take over at least one state in central Europe; and the spread of nuclear weapons will heighten the risk they will be used.
"The likelihood that nuclear weapons will be used will increase with expanded access to technology and a widening range of options for limited strikes," it said.
The report highlighted the risk of a nuclear arms race in the Middle East where a number of countries are thinking about developing or acquiring technologies that would be useful to make nuclear weapons.
"Over the next 15-20 years, reactions to the decisions Iran makes about its nuclear program could cause a number of regional states to intensify these efforts and consider actively pursuing nuclear weapons," the report said.
"This will add a new and more dangerous dimension to what is likely to be increasing competition for influence within the region," it said.
The report said it was not certain that the kind of deterrent relationships that existed for most of the Cold War would emerge in a nuclear armed Middle East.
Instead, the possession of nuclear weapons may be perceived as "making it safe" to engage in low intensity conflicts, terrorism or even larger conventional attacks, the report said.
"Each such incident between nuclear-armed states, however, would hold the potential for nuclear escalation," it said.
The spread of nuclear capabilities will raise questions about the ability of weak states to safeguard them, it said.
"If the number of nuclear-capable states increases, so will the number of countries potentially willing to provide nuclear assistance to other countries or to terrorists," it said.
"The potential for theft or diversion of nuclear weapons, materials, and technology -- and the potential for unauthorized nuclear use -- also would rise," it said.
The report said terrorism would likely be a factor in 2025 but suggested that Al-Qaeda's "terrorist wave" might be breaking up.
"Al-Qaeda's weaknesses -- unachievable strategic objectives, inability to attract broad-based support, and self-destructive actions -- might cause it to decay sooner than many people think," it said.
"Because history suggests that the global Islamic terrorist movement will outlast Al-Qaeda as a group, strategic counterterrorism efforts will need to focus on how and why a successor terrorist group might evolve during the remaining years of the 'Islamic terrorist wave.'"
The report was vague about the outcome of current conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and nuclear armed Pakistan.
In 2025, the government in Baghdad could still be "an object of competition" among various factions seeking foreign aid or pride of place.
Afghanistan "may still evince significant patterns of tribal competition and conflict."
"The future of Pakistan is a wildcard in considering the trajectory of neighboring Afghanistan," it said.
(http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20081120/pl_afp/usintelligenceforecastnuclear;_ylt=AmK2SdXCiSatOVZt9f0wrp6s0NUE)

Change or simply more of the same?


Obama campaigned on the slogan of "change we can believe in" but as he continues to form his cabinet, he is appointing many people in high positions who are definitely not new to Washington. Although it is favorable that the people appointed have experience, many are angered by the lack of "change" in Obama's cabinet. Many want to see new faces in Washington instead of the recycling the same leaders. However, if Obama were to have chosen completely new politicians to advise him during his presidency, I believe that American's would also be angered because some think that Obama himself isn't experienced and at times would need Washington insiders to lead the way. Also, it seems as though Obama has been using Clinton's cabinet as a model for his own. Many perceive Clinton's cabinet in a good light (despite his affair...) because of what they were able to accomplish as a team. It may be beneficial that Obama rely on Clinton's cabinet as an example so that completely new and inexperienced people are not appointed to the highest positions in the government. Although many would like to see new faces in government it is vital that these positions are filled by people who are accustomed to Washington and American government.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

More on the bailout





Here are some political cartoons regarding the much debated bailout.

What are they thinking?

What would people say if a homeless man drove up to a soup kitchen in a limousine claiming that he was starving and asking for food? Similarly, the major auto company leaders showed up in Washington DC today in corporate jets, begging for a 25 million dollar bailout. It is ironic that the same men who are claiming that they are going to modify their business models to make them more effective, are still living so lavishly. Ultimately, I do not know if the auto bailout should happen or not, but what I do know is that selling their corporate jets would be a good start both in lowering auto industry costs and showing a commitment to not doing “business as usual”.



(CNN) -- Some lawmakers lashed out at the CEOs of the Big Three auto companies Wednesday for flying private jets to Washington to request taxpayer bailout money.
Chrysler CEO Robert Nardelli, left, and Ford CEO Alan Mulally testify on Capitol Hill on Wednesday.
"There is a delicious irony in seeing private luxury jets flying into Washington, D.C., and people coming off of them with tin cups in their hand, saying that they're going to be trimming down and streamlining their businesses," Rep. Gary Ackerman, D-New York, told the chief executive officers of Ford, Chrysler and General Motors at a hearing of the House Financial Services Committee.
"It's almost like seeing a guy show up at the soup kitchen in high hat and tuxedo. It kind of makes you a little bit suspicious."
He added, "couldn't you all have downgraded to first class or jet-pooled or something to get here? It would have at least sent a message that you do get it."
The executives -- Alan Mulally of Ford, Robert Nardelli of Chrysler and Richard Wagoner of GM -- were seeking support for a $25 billion loan package. Later Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid reversed plans to hold a test vote on the measure.
An aide told CNN that Reid decided to cancel the test vote when it became clear the measure would fall well short of the 60 votes needed. Reid did, however, make a procedural move that could allow a vote on a compromise, which several senators from auto-producing states were feverishly trying to craft.
At Wednesday's hearing, Rep. Brad Sherman, D-California, pressed the private-jet issue, asking the three CEOs to "raise their hand if they flew here commercial."
"Let the record show, no hands went up," Sherman said. "Second, I'm going to ask you to raise your hand if you are planning to sell your jet in place now and fly back commercial. Let the record show, no hands went up."
The executives did not specifically respond to those remarks. In their testimony, they said they are streamlining business operations in general. Watch Nardelli ask for help »
When contacted by CNN, the three auto companies defended the CEOs' travel as standard procedure.
Like many other major corporations, all three have policies requiring their CEOs to travel in private jets for safety reasons.
"Making a big to-do about this when issues vital to the jobs of millions of Americans are being discussed in Washington is diverting attention away from a critical debate that will determine the future health of the auto industry and the American economy," GM spokesman Tom Wilkinson said in a statement.
Chrysler spokeswoman Lori McTavish said in a statement, "while always being mindful of company costs, all business travel requires the highest standard of safety for all employees."
Ford spokeswoman Kelli Felker pointed to the company's travel policy and did not provide a statement elaborating.

But those statements did little to mollify the critics.
"If it is simply the company's money at stake, then only the shareholders can be upset or feel as it might be excessive," said Thomas Schatz, president of the watchdog group Citizens Against Government Waste.
But in this case, he said, "it's outrageous."
"They're coming to Washington to beg the taxpayers to help them. It's unseemly to be running around on a $20,000 flight versus a $500 round trip," Schatz added.
The companies did not disclose how much the flights cost.
Analysts contacted by CNN noted that the prices vary with the size of the plane and the crew, and whether the aircraft is leased or owned by the company.

Al-Qaida Scares Me...

Today, a video of Ayman al-Zawahiri, a member of Al-Qaida, has appeared on the internet. This video is the group's first response to Obama's victory and employs racist comments and slurs against. him. The video aims at attacking his policies, race, and religion. For example, he refers to Obama as a "house slave" who serves his white masters.

The video also includes a picture of Obama wearing a kippah (Jewish skullcap) while praying at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. Al-Zawahiri then makes the comment that Obama has betrayed his Muslim father and of creating ties with Jewish organizations to further his political ambitions. He continues and states, "You have reached the position of president, and a heavy legacy of failure and crimes awaits you". He later says that Obama must "Be aware that the dogs of Afghanistan have found the flesh of your soldiers to be delicious, so send thousands after thousands to them" and that despite claims Obama is not a force of change.

Wow. He must be living in a cave with Osama Bin Laden.

Although it may seem that foreign groups may be more accepting of America once an African American is president, obviously this will not be the case. Hatred toward America continues to grow despite a shift in power. This will be a major struggle that the Obama administration will have to face and try to overcome in the future.

you should not go to the following site or watch the following video if you are sensitive...

http://abcnews.go.com/video/playerIndex?id=6291091

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

more information: continuation of the previous prop 8 blog!

I just came across this article, which relates to the previous post I made...so if you're interested and want more info go here: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/18/us/18marriage.html?_r=1&ref=politics&oref=slogin

To bail or not to bail? That is the question.

Unfortunately this is very scary! Losing three of the biggest employers in the United states would be an unimaginable blow to the economy. However, trying to keep three businesses in business that are operating with business models that keep them from being able to be competitive and turn a profit seems like we would be throwing our money away. What to do? I'm not sure, but I am sure that there isn't a ground swell for automaker reform coming from either Bush or Congess. If congress decides to go for a bailout, which I ultimately hope they do, it can't happen without huge reform. Perhaps Warren Buffett has a yen to be the next Henry Ford. Somehow the automakers are going to have to find a way to make desirable small fuel efficient cars profitable. It is hard to picture anything else as the future of the automobile industry. Can labor costs controlled by big powerful unions really be reduced to make them competitive with the international market? Will executives take dramatically reduced salaries? Will the automakers be able to refocus and make a more desirable product while increasing efficiency and reclaiming the role of technology leaders? With the very shaky future of oil will car makers rise to the challenge and create new technology that ultimately frees the US from foreign oil dependency and makes the creators of the new technology and their companies long term profitable? While I have no idea if any of these things are really possible I remain hopeful. The idea of losing a entire industry is to bleak to fathom.
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081118/ap_on_go_co/congress_autos;_ylt=ArmsqrYOlJCXi0_AiT09oHeMwfIE

Senator Stevens bites the dust

Reason rules out, and a convicted senator has been booted out of office. Stevens has served six terms in the senate, the longest serving senator in the history of Alaska. He will be replaced by Mark Begich, a democrat. Interestingly Begich ran on a platform that not only differed from his opponent, but greatly differed from former vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin. Begich 's platform included promises to return Alaska to an education policy that respects community values, work across party lines to implement a new Alaska energy plan that works for Alaska families and communities, and to safely and responsibly redeploy our troops out of Iraq. Personally, I think he is the real maverick from Alaska.

WASHINGTON— Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens has lost his bid for a seventh term. The longest-serving Republican in the history of the Senate trailed Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich by 3,724 votes after Tuesday's count. That's an insurmountable lead with only about 2,500 overseas ballots left to be counted.

Stevens, who turned 85 Tuesday, also revealed that he will not ask President George W. Bush to give him a pardon for his seven felony convictions.

Stevens had already been removed as top Republican on the Commerce panel and his ranking position on the powerful subcommittee responsible for the defense budget.

(http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2008-11-18-stevens-gop_N.htm?loc=interstitialskip)

What's your news IQ?

Where do Aragon gov students fit into the national average?

Take the quiz at http://pewresearch.org/newsiq/quiz/

Anger over the outcome of Prop 8 anyone?


































There may be hope!



Protests againts prop 8 are being held across the state by supporters of same-sex marriages, and frankly they're making a splash. Currently, the California Supreme Court is reviewing the propostion to decide if the passage of eight is constitutional or if it should be overturned. In 2000, proposition 22 was passed with 61% of the votes in order to prevent California from recognizing same-sex marriages. Although voters did pass the propostion, in May 2008 the California Supreme Court struck down the initiative, thus giving same-sex couples the right to marry. So, although proposition eight has been passed by 52% of voters, it is a possibility that the court will overturn the decision and give the same rights to gay couple as straight couples. The only issue is....how long could that take?


If you would like to read an article covering the specifics or the protests..here it is! http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/16/us/16protest.html?pagewanted=1&ref=politics
I found this article extremely interesting and I take pride in the fact that American's have taken it upon themselves to create change and bring light to an important issue.

Anger over the outcome of Prop 8 anyone?

Monday, November 17, 2008

for your entertainment :)

Will Obama really emulate Lincoln?

Obama often references Lincoln as his political hero. After the civil war, faced with calls to exact painful reparations on the south, Lincoln refused and tried when possible to include former enemies in the newly re-united nation. Speculation has abounded that Obama will include republicans in his new cabinet. Just yesterday he met at length with his former competitor John McCain to discuss how they can work together to help solve the nations problems. Building bridges before he even assumes power is definitely not something I've seen in my lifetime.

Here is some of the speculation out there from the horses mouth regarding republicans he might appoint to cabinet posts. (Obama's answer to a question about republicans he would work with at a town hall event in Manchester N.H.):

1. Dick Lugar who is a moderate republican that Obama says he liked working with in the senate. (He has been consistently mentioned as a candidate for Secretary of state.)

2. Sen. Chuck Hagel who is a moderate republican and Vietnam war veteran.

3. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger who as the republican gov. of California has been a worldwide leader on global warming and environmental issues.

Since his election he has repeated his promise to have at least one republican in his cabinet. Abraham Lincoln? I'm not sure, but to borrow his campaign catch phrase, appointing a republican really will be change.

View the following links for more info:

http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/11/15/obama-pledges-to-appoint-republican-to-cabinet/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tdGYHC3XNj8

http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalradar/2007/12/obama-says-hed.html

Obama and McCain: working together?

Recently, President Elect Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain met to discuss issues America is facing and how they may work together to solve these problems. Obviously, Obama is making an effort to reach bipartisan solutions.

It is important that politicans set an example for American citizens when it comes to being open to working with people that may not share the same ideals/beliefs. Often it is easy for us to reject the ideas of members of the opposite political party, but this is only holding our nation back from reaching its fullest potential. Politicians must work together to solve this nation's problems because the issues we face today do not face only Democrats or only Republicans but every single American. Although it may be more difficult to work with someone that is not exactly like you, it is important that politicians go through the struggle in order for the govermment and its policies to represent and meet the needs of as many citizens as possible. Also, by working together Obama and McCain are unifying Americans and demonstrating that to succeed everyone must be eager and willing to work together and reach solutions.

During the election/campaign process, hatred between the opposing parties has been more evident than ever. McCain and Obama's attempts to work together have displayed that American's must put their differences aside for the good of the country.

If you would like to know the specifics when it comes to what was discussed during the talks visit....http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122694399164234073.html

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Farewell to Illinois

Today, Obama resigns his post as junior senator of the State of Illinois. His farewell letter is published in Illinois newspapers and marks an important milestone in the transition to presidency. Here it is in its entirety:

Today, I am ending one journey to begin another. After serving the people of Illinois in the United States Senate -- one of the highest honors and privileges of my life -- I am stepping down as senator to prepare for the responsibilities I will assume as our nation's next president. But I will never forget, and will forever be grateful, to the men and women of this great state who made my life in public service possible.

More than two decades ago, I arrived in Illinois as a young man eager to do my part in building a better America. On the South Side of Chicago, I worked with families who had lost jobs and lost hope when the local steel plant closed. It wasn't easy, but we slowly rebuilt those neighborhoods one block at a time, and in the process I received the best education I ever had. It's an education that led me to organize a voter registration project in Chicago, stand up for the rights of Illinois families as an attorney and eventually run for the Illinois state Senate.

It was in Springfield, in the heartland of America, where I saw all that is America converge -- farmers and teachers, businessmen and laborers, all of them with a story to tell, all of them seeking a seat at the table, all of them clamoring to be heard. It was there that I learned to disagree without being disagreeable; to seek compromise while holding fast to those principles that can never be compromised, and to always assume the best in people instead of the worst. Later, when I made the decision to run for the United States Senate, the core decency and generosity of the American people is exactly what I saw as I traveled across our great state -- from Chicago to Cairo; from Decatur to Quincy.

I still remember the young woman in East St. Louis who had the grades, the drive and the will but not the money to go to college. I remember the young men and women I met at VFW halls across the state who serve our nation bravely in Iraq and Afghanistan. And I will never forget the workers in Galesburg who faced the closing of a plant they had given their lives to, who wondered how they would provide health care to their sick children with no job and little savings.

Stories like these are why I came to Illinois all those years ago, and they will stay with me when I go to the White House in January. The challenges we face as a nation are now more numerous and difficult than when I first arrived in Chicago, but I have no doubt that we can meet them. For throughout my years in Illinois, I have heard hope as often as I have heard heartache. Where I have seen struggle, I have seen great strength. And in a state as broad and diverse in background and belief as any in our nation, I have found a spirit of unity and purpose that can steer us through the most troubled waters.

It was long ago that another son of Illinois left for Washington. A greater man who spoke to a nation far more divided, Abraham Lincoln, said of his home, "To this place, and the kindness of these people, I owe everything." Today, I feel the same, and like Lincoln, I ask for your support, your prayers, and for us to "confidently hope that all will yet be well." With your help, along with the service and sacrifice of Americans across the nation who are hungry for change and ready to bring it about, I have faith that all will in fact be well. And it is with that faith, and the high hopes I have for the enduring power of the American idea, that I offer the people of my beloved home a very affectionate thanks. 

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Obama promises.




On NPR this morning, I heard that the Obama website, change.gov, has deleted the promises page completely. The entire platform is gone. Could it be that it is infeasible for him to make good on some of his promises? we will see.

On Affirmative Action

As many of you may know, Barak Obama graduated Harvard Law School Magna Cum Lauda. As a child living on food stamps in his early ages, he showed great promise.Because of the poor area he grew up in, and his family circumstances, there would have been no way he could have gone to Harvard without affirmative action (albeit he did attend a prep school). But this is not a bashing of Obama nor affirmattive action, merely a comment on the past. It worked, he is now president. Furthermore, it should be eradicated now because it has come full circle, a man who 50 years ago would have been segregated now has great power, he is the quintential maverick.
Now that we know it worked, the program should be disabled. Although they are exceptions, some minorities hide behind affirmative action. It is a fact that an African-American in a poor area has a much better chance of going to an Ivy-League University with financial aide and scholorships than a white person in an affluent suburb, even thought the latter probabaly went to a better school.
This is my opinion, what do you think? I have yet to hear any compelling arguements for affirmative action that do not have something to do with segregation, newsflash: the students benefiting from the program never experienced it.

Fireside Chats 2.0


"President-elect Obama plans to to publish these weekly updates through the Transition and then from the White House."
It seems that President-elect Obama is going to bring FDR's fireside chats to the modern age by going to be the first President to deliver their weekly address by video. From his first video address, it is quite clear that he plans to do something about the current economic crisis when he is inaugurated. One of his points is, "It means investing $150 billion to build an American green energy economy that will create five million new jobs, while freeing our nation from the tyranny of foreign oil, and saving our planet for our children." seems like an ambitious plan, perhaps too ambitious....
Regardless of his plans for the future, his decision to make his weekly address more accesible to everybody deserves merit. +1 Obama

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Keith Olbermann on Prop. 8

Powerful stuff.

Election Simulation Articulation (Open Thread)

This is going to be an open thread for you to comment on the upcoming election (Woot! It's tomorrow for Corti's class at least). Feel free to promote the party you support and bash the ones you don't (just kidding).  Even if you have already voted, your comment is nevertheless important.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Racial profiling? Since when?



The East Palo Alto police department recently has been inundated with burglary and breaking and entering reports. The vast majority of witnesses say that they saw black males leaving the properties. The police chief of East Palo Alto, following her logic, instructed her police officers to look for suspicious middle-aged black males and ask who they were. This incited an uproar, and there have been multiple marches and protests about the "racial profiling" that the police department is engaged in. This is not racial profiling, it is merely looking for a suspect based on eyewitness reports and the descriptions of the perpetrators thereof.
If the police department was arresting minorities because they thought that such people may have committed a crime, but had no evidence to support this, then that is racial profiling, but looking for suspects based on criteria which is based on eyewitness descriptions is good police work. It would not make sense to question Hispanic females rather than black males when all reports point to black males committing the crimes.
However, recently, the East Palo Alto police chief went to a black church to apologize for the misunderstanding, but they shunned her, and refused to hear her point of view, and dismissed her as a racist. The lieutenant, a black woman, argued for the chief, and said that what she was instructing her officers to do was in no part racist.
The debate ensues, and is drawing the attention of the NAACP, ACLU and other minority rights organizations, outraged at the racism that the police department is allegedly proliferating.
In my opinion, this is ridiculous. Nothing is wrong with searching for suspects based on eyewitness reports, and this whole fiasco should never have happened.

(by the way, the article linked to in the title is an argument that it is racial profiling)

What ever happened to priorities?




After this summer's war between Georgia and Russia, threats to the United States from Russia over the missile defense shield, and two casualty intense wars that have no end in sight, all the news networks can cover is the scandal over whether the Obama family will cave to the public and buy a dog from the pound. This seems a little ridiculous. after all of the domestic problems in America, be it home forecloses, poverty, the recent spike in burglaries, and the manic-deprissiveness of the NYSE, all the media (and most of America for that matter) cares about are frivolous issues of non-import.
Something has got to give. The media has truly overstepped its madate this time; they should be covering to housing crisis, or how Iran's president supported Obama until he realized that Obama doesn't want Iran to have nuclear weapons either. Seriously, can anyone say they acutally care about what kind of dog the Obama family will have over serious international and domestic crises?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Yay! It's Veterans Day

Ninety years ago, World War I ended with the Germans signing the Armistice on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. Today, we celebrate and honor the services of those who served in our country's military. It is interesting to know that another name for World War I was the War to End All Wars, but it has evidently failed to do so. Nonetheless, today remains the day to pay our respects to veterans, in both wartime and peacetime. Whether or not you agree with United State's current involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq, it is important to recognize the sacrifices that soldiers give to their country. 

Anyhoo, enjoy your holiday and may God bless America. 

Here is George C. Scott's rendition of Patton's famous speech to the members of the Third Army. 

Caution: Strong Language


Monday, November 10, 2008

The war on terror has gone way too far.

In a recent article by the Guardian, cross-border attacks from Iraq and Afghanistan are apparently the tip of the iceberg of illegal raids into foreign nations in order to perform strikes on Al-Qaida. The article details raids into at least six nations other than the ones that the United States is occupying, including Ethiopia, Somalia, Pakistan, Yemen, Oman, Syria and reconnaissance missions into Iran. This is unacceptable. America has overstepped its mandate on combating terrorism around the world. America must stop, or we will face dire consequences with both the world community and the UN.
However, it is important that we save face in the world community by finding Bin Laden and finishing the Iraq war, both of which President Obama plans to do. This may prove risky, as the war is unpopular and many people have forgotten the war in Afghanistan. I think that all troops need to be sent home today, period. But practically, this is impossible.

Obama is already sitting down with an unpopular, aggressive world leader without preconditions!

For many, this sight would have been impossible to imagine. George W. Bush, the 43th president of the United States, walking side by side with the future president of the United States, Barack Obama. Today, the Obamas toured the sacred halls of the White House, a place they would be living in for the next four years. President Bush talked with President-elect Obama about the change of power that is going to occur when Obama is inauguarated to be President and leads the country in a new direction. Ironically, both Obama and Bush wore nearly identical suits. Judging from their appearances, I would have naively assumed that they might be similar. However, it seems that the only thing the two have in common in the picture is their clothing. Obama promises to be a complete change from the Bush Adminstration  and repair the nation back to its glory. In constrast, the lame duck president is looking to ride out the rest of his troubled presidency.

Today, for the first time in his life, Barack Obama saw the Oval Office in person. In ten weeks, he will not only take the oath to be the highest political office in the United States, but also be the first black American to do so. Along with the White House, Obama is given a mandate to command and a democratic Congress. However, whether or not Obama will preside wisely and carefully have yet to be seen. Like they say in Spiderman the movie:
"With great power comes great responsibility." 
I hope President Obama will heel these words.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Obama Making Good on Campaign Promises

As I'm sure many of you recall, President Obama made many promises to the American public through out his campaign. One of his many promises was that he would go through "the federal budget, line by line, eliminating programs that no longer work". He has also promised to fix "the failed promises of George W. Bush". It looks as if Obama is already making good on this promise. Obama and his advisors have already begun the process of reveiwing all of Bush's executive orders. Reports have said that Obama's transition team has already identified a number of issues where Obama can issue executive orders once Obama assumes the office of president.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

International Congrats

I have a lot of friends and family abroad and the day after Obama was announced the President-elect I got several emails from them commenting on our new president. My Norwegian friend said "maybe the whole world won't hate you anymore!" and she tells me often the dislike her country has for Bush which by the way she describes it rivals ours. So I just thought it was interesting to do a search for news articles concerning our election in other countries, like this one by the Prime Minister of Norway. If you go to Google news you can pick which country you want news articles from although not all of them offer English settings. There are some funny articles from Google EspaƱa for anyone speaking Spanish...

Edit: For anyone who gets the San Francisco Chronicle look at the front and back cover of the front section today (sunday). It is exactly what I was looking for when I made this post last night, it shows a ton of front pages from newspapers around the world. The Chronicle publishes most of their articles free online as well but I couldn't find this particular one.
Here is another interesting link though concerning Obama and the President of Russia.
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/11/09/MNG514152T.DTL

Obama's Winning Demograhics!

How exactly did Obama secure victory for the Democratic party? Who do we get to thank for this amazing acomplishment? Well for starters, no surprise but Obama won the low income vote. Surprisingly, Obama also did well with the wealthiest of Americans. According to exit polls Obama won 52% among voters who earn $200,000 and more. Obama also won the Catholic vote, something that John Kerry was unable to do when he ran for President, despite the fact that Kerry is Catholic, while Obama is a Protestant. Obama won 66% of the youth vote. Among suburban areas in Florida, Ohio, Virginia, and Indiana, Obama managed to win counties that had gone to Bush in the 2004 election. So Obama secured a pretty impressive victory! He managed to win the votes of some groups that have historically recently gone republican. So congrats to President-Elect Obama!

Friday, November 7, 2008

As the Election dies down, the economy troubles return.

"People all over the world are celebrating Obama’s victory. Sarah Palin watched the Russians celebrating from her house. ---Craig Ferguson

I saw this quote and it reminded me, suddenly of the economy, but it's kind of confusing why it reminded me of it. Here we are, all pumped for the outcome of this election, but I've forgoten about the current ecomonic crisis, not only here in the US, but also overseas (like in Russia, that's why the quote reminded me about this subject in the first place).

On a more serious note, Obama has much to think about regarding the economy. Obama held his first press conference as president-elect, stressing that the focus of his efforts would be the struggling middle class.

"We need a rescue plan for the middle class that invests in immediate efforts to create jobs and provides relief to families that are watching their paychecks shrink and their life savings disappear," Obama stated.

I think that the choices he makes first will reflect stopping the economic disaster that is hanging in the balance. I searched for an article of any sort regarding Obama and his ideas to "rescue the middle class" with jobs and such, but all I found was that statement. Obama might be too busy preping for the White House, but in my opinion he should lay out his ideas to get us out of this mess.

CBS news this morning said that although the economy dropped a few weeks ago, here in California we are only just being hit with it. For some, it won't be too bad, but for others, it means losing jobs and homes. Nonetheless, this is an important issue and I think Obama would be making a smart choice by making it his top prioity when entering the White House.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Prop Hat8? No, just 8

A fair number of students asked me this week what will happen next in regards to gay marriage in California now that Prop 8 is part of the Constitution.

Here are several excellent sources on this:

Eugene Volokh on what will likely happen, legally speaking
Matthew Yglesias on the "backlash"
And of course Andrew Sullivan has a bazillion posts on this subject, which is fitting, since he -- FAR more than Gavin "Whether You Like It Or Not" Newsom -- really helped make gay marriage a reality over the past 15 years.

As mentioned in class, I don't see there being a legal remedy besides putting it back on the ballot and convincing more people on the merits. Maybe this will be ruled to be such a significant change that it requires a 2/3 vote, as there are 2 mechanisms for changing the California Constitution, and that would invalidate prop 8 (and enrage its fervent supporters.) But I doubt it. The best way to get gay marriage is to increase the respect in society for gay people, and frankly, I thought the no on 8 campaign completely failed in that respect. To earn more respect, we have to embrace the real fears that people have and talk them down. I find it telling that prop 8 passed by wide margins where few gay people live and was voted down by pretty wide margins where gay people are commonplace. Hmm. Familiarity breeds respect.

The Yes on 8 campaign capitalized on those fears, and their ad and direct mail campaign was pretty outrageous to me. "Hate is not a family value" remains the best bumper sticker of all time. Yet, while there is some irrational prejudice that borders on hate out there, calling all the Yes voters haters is not a winning strategy. Turning the other cheek and talking to people with respect? Much more difficult, but much more effective.

So tomorrow, some number of people, including myself, will be wearing black as a symbolic protest. I hope that no one gets overly confrontational about it on either side. Asking someone to articulate their reasoning is not offensive. Being outraged about holding a position that approximately half the State holds could be, and, moreover, it doesn't change anyone's mind.

I must admit that it was more than a little disheartening to be left out of what was a moment of national pride and reconciliation. Obama's victory was a very nice moment for the country that I celebrated heartily. Many Republicans who couldn't vote for Obama on policy grounds were similarly patriotic. Progress is good, even with a band of counties from Texas up through West Virginia that went against the otherwise across-the-board trend for Democrats which can't be explained away without involving race.

Still, it stung, more than I would have thought. As a teenager, as I realized that I was actually a disrespected minority, I became very interested in the struggle for racial justice. I loved my college coursework on the subject, and the civil rights movement was my favorite unit when I taught US history. I fear that had I not faced prejudice of my own that I might not have had much empathy or understanding for cultural identities beyond my own experience. So, far beyond the policy and politics of the moment, I cherished Obama's rhetorical calls for unity as well as his victory. And then, a few hours later, a major letdown, one that would not have happened had African-American turnout been especially high for this particular election. Had prop 8 been defeated by a narrow margin, it would have felt like a huge win, but really, we are talking about a different level of respect from 5% of the population, which is within sight, and I thank the many students who have expressed their solidarity over the past few days. There is little doubt that by the time your generation takes the reins of national power this issue will be about as settled as race seems to be here in 2008.

What would the world be like if...

I was emailed an extremely funny video of the possible futures for both candidates, depending on who won. It's quite funny, but could some of it be a little more truth than parody? You can be the judge of that:

http://www.comedy.com/blog/2008/11/03/what-the-world-will-be-like-if-obama-wins-vs-what-will-happen-if-mccain-wins/

Obama chooses Emanuel as White House Chief of Staff

Today Obama announced Rahm Emanuel as his White House Chief of Staff. This is the first of many appointments our president-elect will have to make and allready there is controversy over his very first pick. Emanuel has a reputation for tough politics, a disregard for hurting feelings, and for relishing media attention. He once mailed a dead fish to a political foe. Emanuel has been a Democratic member of Congress since 2003. While some critics of Obama's choice claim he is too aggressive, others praise his agression as a perfect complement to Obama's general disposition. So, is this choice a shrew political move on the part of the president-elect, or is this something we should be concerned about?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

106 year old woman.




If you watched Obama's speech last night then you probably heard Obama mention Ann Nixon Cooper, a 106 year old woman who voted for Obama. Cooper was born a generation after the end of slavery. She lived to see women earn the right to vote, and the end of segregation. This is a woman who has lived through a lot!!! It was only fitting that Obama honor her with his speech, and with this call that you see in this video.

San Mateo County Info

I was interested to see the particular results of our county and this is the official site, its interesting to see what you can find. A list of all the precincts showed the percent outcome, the lowest one is about 42 percent and the most was 92 percent but mostly the averaged around 60 and 70 percent, so it's good to know lots of people vote in atleast our area.
And HERE:
http://www.shapethefuture.org/elections/results/november2008/resultsarchive.asp
It shows all the other results from past elections which is really cool to see the difference in turnout.

McCain's Concession Speech

Again, for anyone interested.

Obama Acceptance Speech

For anyone who didn't get to see this last night.

Why Obama won.

Obama, the winner of 349 electoral votes, including Virgina, Florida, and Ohio, was the estimated president as of last night at 8:01pm PST after the West Coast polls closed.

Both candidates had a tough campaign, and there were times when both looked like they could come out on top. McCain stated he would put his "Country First" something the citizens needed to hear, while Obama won support through by contrasting himself with the current office. In his victory speech, Obama thanked his organizational teams, campaign volunteers and all his supporters. But those people are not the only reason he won.

For starters, Obama focused on a core theme of change. Americans everywhere are struggling and he gained support by offering them hope. Obama constantly slammed McCain for being "just more of the same", when the country really needs different approachs.

Second, Obama made a great decision in not taking public funds, allowing him to expand past the maximum ammount set, and raise as much money as possible. The money helped get his ideas published, television adds, and more volunteers.

Thirdly, (something we didn't exactly touch on in class) was that Obama had a difficult fight in the primaries against Senator Clinton. Unlike McCain, Obama had to start the race, with "full arms a-blazing" and was on the defence and offense from the get go. I'm not sure how much this greatly effected the outcome last night, but it's still something to consider.

Any other opinions? Is there something I missed?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I don't mean to spam this blog but it's been difficult to find the results of the propsitions as they come in so here it is:

http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2008/results/state/#CA

Only prop 8 and prop 4 are at the very bottom. So far it's not looking too good.

And the winner is...

CBS just announced Senator Obama as the new president of the United States. 283 electoral votes to Senator John McCain's 145.

!!!!!!!!

I THINK OBAMA JUST WON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

You call the election!!!

http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2008/calculator/

So this website is fun to play around with. It shows what states CNN has allready called and it allows you to play around with the other states and determine who will win in them. Basically it becomes clear that if you make the assumptions that Obama will win CA (not exactly a risky bet) and Hawaii, then Obama really only needs one other state that has more than 3 electoral votes in order to secure the neccessary 270 electoral votes. In order for McCain to win he would need to win every other state that has not been called by CNN (excepting CA and Hawaii which i continue to assume will go to Obama. So McCain needs 15 more states to win, while Obama only needs 3 more.

Ohio--the deal breaker?

Based on the current exit polls, Ohio has been taken by Obama.
No Republican candidate who has won the election has ever lost Ohio.
Is this bad news forshadowing for McCain?

Still, more states to come, it could still sway either way.

Does anyone else find this whole horserace thing a little absurd?

So I was just watcing chron 4 and they were saying that Obama has the lead in New Hampshire and McCain is leading in Kentucky. That all sounds fine and dandy and I'm sure there information is accurate. Then they proceed to say that they are basing this information off the 1% of precincts that are reporting in New Hampshire and the 2% of precincts reporting in Kentucky. Hold up!!!! 1 and 2%, well clearly that means that the race is won in those states, why bother counting the rest of the votes!!!! I'm sure that it is entirely possible, perhaps even likely that these results will be accurate, nevertheless, it seems absurd.

Election: 4pm Exit Polls



Now exit polls are not always accurate, but for now it's all we have.
So far, Obama has potentially secured Vermont, and McCain has gotten Kentucky. Indiana and Virgina are too close to call.
Indiana is 50% McCain, 49% Obama.
Virgina is 53% McCain, 46% Obama.
We are toying with the idea of updating every hour or so.
Any comments so far?

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Latest Polls


With elections literally hours away, most people have finally chosen their favored candidate. As the campaign continues in full swing for both parties, some people have claimed to still be undecided. About 4% (says the most recent Gallup poll) are still weighing the pros and cons of both candidates and probably won't decide until tomorrow in the polling booth. But as for now, the current standards leave Obama at 53% and McCain at 40% of the registered voters.


Gallup has predicted that Obama will win the general election in 2008, and they've only been wrong twice since they started polling in the late 1930s. Things look good for Obama, who currently holds the vote of about 83% of all non-white voters. McCain might have a slight lead in non-white votes (51%-44%), but Obama's lead is now more significant because of the increase in non-white registration this election.

Although the polls have been released, and Gallup has picked it's candidate, things are still up in the air--things could always change. We will only know for sure (hopefully) tomorrow night so in the mean time, get some sleep and remember to vote tomorrow (if you can). Have fun, poll workers. :)

The Death Penalty

My Special Interest Group is the Justice For All Criminal Justice Reform Organization and it made me wonder where the candidates this year stand on the subject and I thought it was interesting to see that their views didn't vary too much. In researching Interest Groups that are pro death penalty I had trouble because the overwhelming majority of the groups and websites out there are ANTI death Penalty, and the US is one of the only developed countries practicing the Death Penalty to the extent we do and we have received a lot of criticism for that. But it doesnt seem to fit with how many anti death penalty groups there seem to be out there.
This Articles in this Teen Magazine is very good and here are some links of what the candidates think about the death penalty.

Teen Inc:
http://www.teenink.com/Opinion/article/49841/Capital-Punishment-Is-Dead-Wrong/

Obama:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kcl-T0P7xYU

McCain:
McCain supports the death penalty for federal crimes. McCain says we should extend use of the death penalty and implement stricter penalties for violent felons. McCain supported legislation to prohibit the use of racial statistics in death penalty appeals and supports banning it for persons under eighteen.

( http://cfc.wciv.com/external.cfm?p=mccain )

Arizona, not Necessarily a Lock for McCain

http://www.time.com/time/politics/article/0,8599,1856048,00.html?iid=tsmodule
According to this article, it is not necessarily a given that McCain will win his home state of Arizona. McCain served two terms in the House of Representatives for Arizona, before his four terms as Senator for Arizona. For a state that he has served so loyally for so long, to turn there back on him now is not an encouraging sign. The 20 point lead McCain held over the summer has now been reduced to only 3.5 points, a drastic change. This doesn't bode well for his success in the polls tomorrow. Bush, Clinton, Bush, and Reagan all managed to secure the electoral votes from their home states, and not that he can't possibly win without Arizona, but this speaks volumes about how loyal his constituents are to him. So will Arizona go red or blue? Thoughts?

Some Serious Negative Campaining

The ads in this article just jumped out at me as being super negative, especially the second one though. I haven't seen a lot of ads from this election so I don't have that much to compare them to but it just seems so nasty. McCain's last ditch attempt to link Obama to the "Muslim" world. I see this as being rather general and maybe offensive to the muslims here in America? who might be then driven away from McCain... I remember this issue of linking him to the middle east because of his name coming up a lot around the time of the primaries and now they are bringing it up again, running old ads again.

Record Turnout Predicted

http://www.venturacountystar.com/news/2008/nov/03/83-percent-voter-turnout-expected/

According to this article there is over 80 percent turnout expected tomorrow. I am signed up to help at the polls tomorrow and last night when I was talking to the supervisor of my precinct he said he's heard that 80 percent were expected to vote and I was shocked, because as we know from our wonderful AP gov class, normally the percent of people who CAN vote who DO, cirlces around 50 percent. But some polls are expecting up to 83 percent this election which is awesome. Could it be that these candidates apeal to a wider range of people? we know men are more likely to vote than women, but now we have a woman candidate, and also Clinton possibly got a lot more women involved at the primaries, and whites are more likely to vote than minorities, but here we have a black man running, so that could get minorities more involved.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

I'm Helping, Dontchaknow?

Sarah Palin has saved McCain's campaign, and McCain is ahead in the polls. McCain could win this election by a landslide. Oh wait, my apologizes, good people. What I meant to say was that Sarah Palin looks as if she has done more harm than good to the McCain Campaign.

Recent studies by a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Sunday indicated that Palin has steadily been growing less popular among voters and may be costing McCain the election. With such a close race, it makes one think about what might have happened if McCain had chosen someone else? Democrats rejoice at the news of this survey, while Republicans are disappointed at the results.

Who would have thought that a Governor from Alaska, with little to no experience or qualifications for the Vice-Presidency would have generated bad beat? That someone who cannot speak for herself publicly, people tell her what to say, confuses her, and then she doesn't know what is what anymore, would create such a fuss and would potentially cost McCain the election.

Palin's popularity rating may prove to be the cause of McCain's downward spiral, but this is just one survey. Perhaps more surveys will pop up, but as of now, it could only possibly be suggested that Palin dragged McCain down with her.

A Losing Race?

With only two days to go, polls are being taken and it would appear that McCain is going to lose. 4 years ago, Bush carried many swing states that may be difficult for McCain to achieve. Does McCain have what it takes?

For the past two weeks, McCain has been spending a lot of time in Pennsylvania trying to convince voters to vote for him. Although Pennsylvania is Democratic, and Bush lost Pennsylvania four years ago, McCain seems to believe that he has a good shot at taking Pennsylvania. Should McCain be worrying about Virginia instead?

It seems that Virginia has become a swing state in this election. Although Virginia has usually been a state won by Republicans, in recent years, Virginia is becoming an example of the "crumbling of the GOP coalition." Virginia may yet be a harder state for McCain to win.

These two states are important swing states along with many others. For McCain, seemingly a maverick in a losing battle, these states could cost him the elections. Does McCain have what it takes to win these swing states knowing that Bush barely won them? Even though Bush had lost by only 2.5% vote in Pennsylvania, should McCain have focused on swing states that he could have had a better chance at? Like Ohio?

The Final Stretch

What a campaign trail it has been. With only two days to go, the candidates are going all out. As of Sunday, both campaign made millions of calls, had people knocking on very door, and mailed letters to potential voters bringing the cost of the campaign to a record breaking 1 BILLION DOLLARS. It is estimated that it would cost each of them 8 dollars per Presidential vote.

Where did all the spending go specifically, you might ask? Well a majority of the money went to advertising through media resources. Examples of this would include the Robocall made by the GOP stating that Clinton is endorsing McCain. Another example is the Republican party calling Pennsylvania and Ohio voters and taking Obama's words about coal-burning technology out of context and claiming that he will "bankrupt the coal industry."

A lot of negative campaign still continuing with the Republican party. But, they are not only to blame for the spending. the Democratic party released a new TV ad highlighting Cheney's endorsement for McCain as Cheney states that he is "delighted to support John McCain."

The spending doesn't stop at media spending. The spending continues into the employment of people to support them. workers run around, going door-to-door asking people to support and vote for Barack Obama. It has been a tough run, but the candidates aren't stopping till the "fat lady sings."

Another GOP Robocall

The GOP released another Robocall featuring Hilary Clinton seemingly endorsing McCain by speaking out against Obama.

Of course, you shouldn't always believe what you hear. During the Democratic primary campaign, Clinton is quoted as saying "In the White House there is no time for speeches and on-the-job training. Senator McCain will bring a lifetime of experience to the campaign and Senator Obama will bring a speech that he gave in 2002. I think that is a significant difference." Although Clinton is heard saying this, she clearly states that she is not endorsing McCain.

A spokesperson for Clinton stated that "Senator Hillary Clinton does not approve this message, and as she crisscrosses the country, she has said time and again that the choice in this election could not be more clear. The McCain/Palin ticket offers only more of the same failed policies while the Obama/Biden ticket offers the vision, leadership and positive solutions we need. I wonder why the Republicans aren't using those words."

I Would Change My Vote To McCain Now That He Is Endorsed By My Favorite Deer Hunter, Dick Cheney!

So, with the final stretch to go, Dick Cheney endorses McCain. Oh dammit McCain, You were so close! Well here's a video of that.



And here's a random video I came across of a prank call made by a Quebec Comedy Show:

England likes to blow up Sarah Palin's image

The town of Battle, England demonstrated a traditional event where they blow up a likeness of a political character. In this case, the term "blow up" is used quite literally meaning to explode.

The people of Battle, England created an effigy of Governor Sarah Palin holding a machine gun with a slogan at the base saying "too hot to handle." After this effigy was created the people blew it up with fireworks and other explosives.

click here to see the picture

Organizers of the event stated that this "was not meant to cause offense."

The townspeople of Battle have been doing this since 1646. In recent years, the people have done the same thing with their last prime minister and Tony Blair.