Tuesday, January 31, 2012
1144 delegates are required to win the Republican nomination; after today, Romney will have 80, Gingrich 18, Santorum 13, Paul 3, and Huntsman 2. Looking at these figures, do you think any of the other candidates will begin considering suspending their campaigns?
The Romney team has declared that he will almost certainly win the GOP nomination and that it would take an incredibly dynamic event (or series of events) to reverse this course. It was also stated that Romney is in a comfortable enough position to take his focus off of Gingrich and concentrate his rhetoric on Obama. On the one hand, if Romney really does have the nomination in the bag, I can see why he would want to focus on Obama: to minimize the division within his own party and get a headstart on uniting Republicans against the incumbent president. However, it might also be wise to continue keeping Gingrich at bay so as to shorten the competition and secure the nomination as quickly as possible. What do you guys think?
Due to these newly discovered securities, the enterprise profits as borrowers continue to pay their high-interest payments from their original mortgage. When these individuals refinance into cheaper loans, they pay off their first loan early, causing Freddie to lose this source of revenue (the valuable interest payments). To hinder refinancing, Freddie has implemented a number of new rules and regulations, including "high introduction fees and strict requirements on who qualifies for a Freddie-insured mortgage."
It is definitely not in Freddie's interest (no pun intended) for the borrowers to default on their loans, yet, as briefly aforementioned, it also does not benefit Freddie when borrowers shift to less expensive mortgages.
I think this revelation will cut deeply into the public's trust of such groups, which may translate into increased distrust of the government. It may also be used by the GOP candidates as ammunition against Obama, for not only did this happen under his watch (--> retrospective voting), but he did also promise reform in this area during his SOTU address.
If you'd like to learn more in detail about how Freddie Mac works or its questionable investments, here's the URL upon which I based this post: http://www.thenewamerican.com/economy/sectors-mainmenu-46/10713-freddie-mac-bets-against-homeowners-and-refinancing.
Monday, January 30, 2012
James Reilly, a 24-year-old copywriting student at the Chicago Portfolio school decided to go 90 days, or 3 months without any form of social media communication, such as Facebook, Twitter, Emails, and even Cell phones.
While doing so, James exclaimed, "I would sit in the park a lot, throw the football with my friends, go ice-skating, and all that kind of silly stuff that you take for granted. It's all around you. I think that was the best part and most people really overlook that." Without social media, James really got out and did active things that most people wouldn't even think of doing because they are inside and on the computer all day. This quote, for me, really sums up what Facebook and social media blinds people from seeing, "...silly stuff that you take for granted." Being outside, playing sports, running, are all things that we forget about doing because we spend so much time on our phones or computers.
Reilly, after being asked this question, "Do you think that those who rely so heavily on to interact with others are training themselves to communicate only at the most superficial level?" answered, "...it's superficiality on top of superficiality. You never get to see the real parts of people." I think that communicating through social media, although very convenient, does take away the "real parts of people" and is a place for people to be in some ways fake.
I have to say, even though I agree with Reilly and think that life would be so much different, quite possibly in a good way, without Facebook and other social media tools, I would have a difficult time living without my phone or computer. It kind of makes me sad to think that the society we live in is ALL social media based. Facebook is the newest place for artists, celebrities, products, and TV shows to attract and sell their products. People now don't ever need to leave the house to learn about the outside world. My life after school sort of revolves around Facebook and my phone and after reading this, maybe I'll try and change that! What do you think? Could you go 3 months without any contact with friends or family other then hand-written letters and face to face interactions. I haven't written a letter in maybe 10 years, and after reading this maybe I will. Receiving a letter would be cool!
Personally, I can't believe the type of BS our government is willing to consider in congress, and I hope there is another wave of progressive reforms once everyone realizes what's going on. It will have to come fast though - once freedoms have been taken away, people can grow used to them being gone.
Sunday, January 29, 2012
Saturday, January 28, 2012
Obama's plan is focused on increasing campus-based aid and will not affect the vast bulk of federal grants and loans. Since there is no central authority for higher education, the federal government has a very limited control over the real costs and significant gridlock in Congress.
University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman said that tuition increases are needed to make up for drops in state funding. Obama wants state governments to be more helpful, which Coleman agrees with.
Young said that the cost of educating students has actually gone down and that the state authorized tuition increases are only to make up for the state cutting their subsidies.
Obama's speech at the University of Michigan was part of a campaign to promote his SOTU agenda in competitive states.
I did not understand what University of Washington President Young meant about university costs. Were his university's state subsidy cuts greater or less than decreases in the cost to educate? And if they were lesser, what was the point of the tuition increase?
This does seem like a pre-campaign season campaign targeted at younger (college age) voters who are a growing demographic among registered voters. And young people were more likely to vote for Obama in 2008.
I am doubtful that any federal plan to keep tuition from rising can make it through the gridlock of Congress, but I have my fingers crossed for an effective plan to be enacted within the next several months. What are your thoughts, AP Gov folk?
Friday, January 27, 2012
She stated that she plans to work as hard as she possibly can until the last minute.
Her announcement was a response to a question at the forum, which was held to mark the anniversary of the Department's "Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review" which Clinton considers to be one of her major accomplishments while Secretary of State. She has said that she had planned on only serving one term in her current position.
However, it has been noted that she is one of the most popular politicians there is a lot of speculations regarding her plans.
I think that this may have some effect on Obama's campaign when the time comes. Clinton is a popular figure around the world, and unless he announces a new replacement with similar acclaim, he may be looked at negatively.
What are your thoughts AP Gov folks?
Afghan President Hamid Karzai said that he does not want to make such an agreement with the US unless "NATO-led night raids" are stopped. He holds the US responsible for the civilian casualties such operations cause, despite being NATO-led. Karzai also wants a handover of US detention facilities.
"The U.S. is our largest and most important ally. What’s important for Afghanistan is the quality of the document, not how fast we can rush the signature," said Janan Musazai, a spokesman for the Afghan Foreign Ministry.
Blaming the US for civilian casualties of NATO operations seems like an attempt to appear strong and sovereign on Karzai's part while still leaving other means of support open. Kabul needs foreign aid to be able keep its influence in the country.
Thursday, January 26, 2012
In response to an episode where Gingrich called Romney the most "anti-immigrant" candidate, Romney responded saying that he found the charge repulsive and that such over-the top-statements have characterized politics for too long. Santorum and Romney then agreed that blocking immigrants form jobs would get them to "self-deport," while Ron Paul though a better economy would keep out illegal immigrants (Though this seems counter-intuitive), but that we should patrol the borders more anyway.
For those of you that don't know, ACTA is an anti-piracy treaty similar to the US's SOPA which has been debated since 2008. The treaty will be signed by the US, Australia, Canada, Japan, Morocco, Ireland, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, and as of now, every country in the EU.
You probably haven't heard as much about this in the US due to the more well-known SOPA and PIPA, but ACTA is every bit as powerful/dangerous
The reason? China. And probably oil.
The US is increasing its military presence in Asia to counter China's increasing ability to assert itself (rightfully or not) in the international affairs of the region. This is also a move at supporting the claims of US allies to oil rich parts of the South China Sea. The Philippines is currently in a dispute over the oil-rich Spratly Islands with several other countries. The ability of the the US to assert itself (rightfully or not) in the region is gaining importance as the US military presence in oil-rich Iraq decreases.
The stated priority of the Philippine officials is to strengthen maritme defense, especially along the South China Sea. A Philippine official mentioned increased US military presence in Australia, Singapore, and Japan. He stated “We’re not the only one doing this, and for good reason. We all want to see a peaceful and stable region. Nobody wants to have to face China or confront China.”
Robert Scher, a deputy assistant secretary of defense said that the US is focused on developing stronger ties with allies over developing bases for US use only.
The plan is for the Philippines to host periodic rotations or temporary assignments of US troops and battleships. The wording regarding temporary assignments can elastic though. Since 2002, there have been 600 US Special Operations troops assisting the fight against al-Qaeda sympathising rebels in the southern islands. The Philippine government has also been working to aquire US military equipment such as 16 fighter jets.
I think that as China expands its power, other countries in the region feel the need to do the same. There is already a bit of tension regarding claims in the energy rich South China Sea. We may be looking at an arms race. The US now has a greater ability to participate in this as more resources are removed from Iraq. What do you think, AP Gov people?
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
A notable political point Daniels made regarding helping his state: "First, make money. Be successful. If you make a profit, you'll have something left to hire someone else, and some to donate to the good causes we love."
Daniels talked about opposition to "extremism" regarding energy policies and called for greater private sector activity to create jobs and a simplied tax code to minimize loophole abuse and be less favorable to the rich. He called for Medicare and Social Security reform. He also blamed the Democrats of the Senate for all the gridlock in Congress and said that the Republicans were responsible for anything Congress managed to accomplish.
He ended his speech saying that Republicans can restore America from the damage done and make "our 'city on a hill' shine once again."
I was bothered that there were no details regarding Social Security and Medicare reform. I also feel that he was too extreme in saying the US could follow in the footsteps of Greece and Spain. Both this spreech and Obama's seriously bothered me as they both projected American exceptionalism.
So AP Gov folks, what do you think of the GOP response?
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
This seems to be pretty strong evidence that something shady is going on in our congress. But it also makes me wonder: if he felt this sort of thing was acceptable to talk about on national TV, does that mean that crony capitalism goes on enough to delude him into thinking it is well accepted as the norm?
What do you enlightened scholars think?
What bothered me about the speech was its lack of depth, but details of so many issues can't be discussed in only an hour. I was left wondering if such plans were possible and could survive Congress, and, if they do, how effectively they can be executed. A specific detail that bothered me was what Obama said the Iraq War money would now be headed: half to infrastucture and half to paying off debt. Since the government is sustaining heavily on borrowed money, doesn't that mean that the government would just be borrowing half the cost of the war less per year? And that the rate of debt increase only slows, not reverses?
I would also like to note how this speech seemed to be partly a rebuttal to any negative predictions the Republican candidates were saying about policies made durring the Obama administration, as Obama kept saying positive predictions about the future and stressed any accomplishments in the present.
Possibly acknowledging the contrast in income tax proportion, Romney has "gone pretty light on his deductions,” according to tax attorney Ken Breir. It seems that Romney does not want to bring any attention to his tax record.
Romney has paid $7.5 milion less in taxes for 2010 and 2011 than what he would have if President Obama's tax plans had been enacted. Paying $7.5 million more in taxes over two years would double his tax rate.
How should investments be taxed? Is it fair that the rich can pay a much lower proportion of their income in taxes?
Also of note, the previous post on that blog questions the role the State of the Union speech has, especially during an election year. Well, I've assigned it every year regardless of who happens to be president, but if you agree with the critique, I imagine you will place your notes in the "politics" rather than the "policy" column.
Sunday, January 22, 2012
Many of the links, however, did not even mention attacks on anti-piracy organizations. Thus, accidental or curious clickers may have unwittingly and innocently participated in an illegal attack. Even if their message was justified, is it right for Anonymous to take advantage of Internet users to further their campaign?
Evangelical is sort of a blanket term used for Christians who believe that faith plays a very important factor in their lives. They can be liberal or conservative (they tend to largely lean towards the latter), but the defining factor is their belief in the importance of religion. Moreover, Evangelicals have a strong belief in redemption and forgiveness, which partially explains Gingrich overwhelming victory in the aforementioned demographic. In an Evangelical gathering of 3,000 in Iowa during Thanksgiving, Gingrich had this to say about his past and his reform: "all of that has required a great deal of pain, some of which I have caused others, which I regret deeply," Gingrich said, "all of those required having to go to God to seek both reconciliation, but also to seek God's acceptance, that I had to recognize how limited I was." Another factor that gave Gingrich the edge over Mitt Romney is "'One of the things that Newt Gingrich has going for him is that he's not Romney,' says pollster Robert Jones". According to the article listed below, there is a discrepancy between Evangelicals about Mitt Romney's Mormon faith. It states that "half of white evangelicals don't believe that Mormons are Christians" and that many are dubious about Romney's inconsistent position on "social issues like gay rights and abortion". In light of this information, it is interesting to see how Gingrich and the other candidates will fare in the upcoming primaries where Evangelicals play a large role. It seems as if the GOP race has been blown wide open... again!
Special thanks to: http://www.npr.org/2011/12/08/143361304/why-some-evangelicals-back-thrice-wed-gingrich
He considers his delay in release "a mistake" and "a distraction." Romney is one of the most affluent presidential candidates in history, and of his pledge to release his tax returns, Gingrich comments "I think that's a very good thing he's doing," and "we can go on and talk about other bigger and more important things."
The two candidates now face the Florida primary on January 31st.
National gas averages are up approximately $0.17 from last month, and locations such as California pay the highest prices while portions of the Midwest boast the lowest prices.
Due to such increased prices, demand for gasoline and oil has declined. This week, Hovensa LLC "announced plans to close a major refinery in the U.S. Virgin Islands next month that produced about 350,000 barrels per day" due to losses of "$1.3 billion over the past three years" and predicted continual losses.
Although paying more and more at pumps is not something people enjoy, perhaps increased gas prices harbor a little good news as well. Because the cost of driving is becoming more expensive, people are finding ways to consume less gas, whether it be by switching to a more fuel-efficient vehicle, carpooling with others, taking public transportation, or the likes. These all have positive impacts on the environment and our pollution emissions. Also, because of decreased demand, the closing of refineries, such as the one in the Virgin Islands, holds positive impacts for the environment as well.