A Black Columnist's Take On Obama

I get tired of all the race, gender, political-correct garbage we are forced to deal with nowadays. I personally believe that if our society were truly enlightened then we would treat people as we want to be treated ourselves, and we would give opportunities and jobs and scholarships to those with the most qualified skills/accomplishments. Rather than call our situation 'informed' based on the number of ethnicities and genders represented, I think a situation will only be truly 'informed' when it includes the merits and ideas that are representative of the best available.

I think it is time to look at Obama by himself out from the shadow of Jeremiah Wright, Harvard, the color of his skin...Lets look at Obama, the politician.

This article was written by a journalist who happens to be black. I believe that his approach is the way we all should be in reviewing politicians: erase all the stereotype descriptors and focus on the essentials of what the politician is and stands for. Then you will know what you will end up with. The other stuff is just fluff and doesn't amount to anything.

If you'd like to read the article on the New York Sun site, click here. Or you can read it below.

Beyond Obama's Beauty
February 14, 2008
"[C]ivilizational war is real, even if political leaders and polite punditry must call it by another name."
— Robert D. Kaplan in the December 2001 issue of the Atlantic Monthly

"It's an amazing time to be alive in America. We're in a year of firsts in this presidential election: the first viable woman candidate; the first viable African-American candidate; and, a candidate who is the first frontrunning freedom fighter over 70. The next president of America will be a first.

We won't truly be in an election of firsts, however, until we judge every candidate by where they stand. We won't arrive where we should be until we no longer talk about skin color or gender.

Now that Barack Obama steps to the front of the Democratic field, we need to stop talking about his race, and start talking about his policies and his politics.

The reality is this: Though the Democrats will not have a nominee until August, unless Hillary Clinton drops out, Mr. Obama is now the frontrunner, and its time America takes a closer and deeper look at him.

Some pundits are calling him the next John F. Kennedy. He's not. He's the next George McGovern. And it's time people learned the facts.

Because the truth is that Mr. Obama is the single most liberal senator in the entire U.S. Senate. He is more liberal than Ted Kennedy, Bernie Sanders, or Mrs. Clinton.

Never in my life have I seen a presidential frontrunner whose rhetoric is so far removed from his record. Walter Mondale promised to raise our taxes, and he lost. George McGovern promised military weakness, and he lost. Michael Dukakis promised a liberal domestic agenda, and he lost.

Yet Mr. Obama is promising all those things, and he's not behind in the polls. Why? Because the press has dealt with him as if he were in a beauty pageant.

Mr. Obama talks about getting past party, getting past red and blue, to lead the United States of America. But let's look at the more defined strokes of who he is underneath this superficial "beauty."

Start with national security, since the president's most important duties are as commander-in-chief. Over the summer, Mr. Obama talked about invading Pakistan, a nation armed with nuclear weapons; meeting without preconditions with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who vows to destroy Israel and create another Holocaust; and Kim Jong Il, who is murdering and starving his people, but emphasized that the nuclear option was off the table against terrorists — something no president has ever taken off the table since we created nuclear weapons in the 1940s. Even Democrats who have worked in national security condemned all of those remarks. Mr. Obama is a foreign-policy novice who would put our national security at risk.

Next, consider economic policy. For all its faults, our health care system is the strongest in the world. And free trade agreements, created by Bill Clinton as well as President Bush, have made more goods more affordable so that even people of modest means can live a life that no one imagined a generation ago. Yet Mr. Obama promises to raise taxes on "the rich."

How to fix Social Security? Raise taxes. How to fix Medicare? Raise taxes. Prescription drugs? Raise taxes. Free college? Raise taxes. Socialize medicine? Raise taxes. His solution to everything is to have government take it over. Big Brother on steroids, funded by your paycheck.

Finally, look at the social issues. Mr. Obama had the audacity to open a stadium rally by saying, "All praise and glory to God!" but says that Christian leaders speaking for life and marriage have "hijacked" — hijacked — Christianity. He is pro-partial birth abortion, and promises to appoint Supreme Court justices who will rule any restriction on it unconstitutional. He espouses the abortion views of Margaret Sanger, one of the early advocates of racial cleansing. His spiritual leaders endorse homosexual marriage, and he is moving in that direction. In Illinois, he refused to vote against a statewide ban — ban — on all handguns in the state. These are radical left, Hollywood, and San Francisco values, not Middle America values.

The real Mr. Obama is an easy target for the general election. Mrs. Clinton is a far tougher opponent. But Mr. Obama could win if people don't start looking behind his veneer and flowery speeches. His vision of "bringing America together" means saying that those who disagree with his agenda for America are hijackers or warmongers. Uniting the country means adopting his liberal agenda and abandoning any conflicting beliefs.

But right now everyone is talking about how eloquent of a speaker he is and — yes — they're talking about his race. Those should never be the factors on which we base our choice for president. Mr. Obama's radical agenda sets him far outside the American mainstream, to the left of Mrs. Clinton.

It's time to talk about the real Barack Obama. In an election of firsts, let's first make sure we elect the person who is qualified to be our president in a nuclear age during a global civilizational war. "

Mr. Blackwell, a fellow at the American Civil Rights Union and the Family Research Council, is a columnist for The New York Sun, and a contributing editor for Townhall.com.


Electoral College Blues

Look, I'm a big fan of the Constitution; a BIG fan. I don't agree with people who seem to worship it or defend it like it's written by the hand of God. It's an inspired document, yes; one of the world's most influential. It has needed changes - hence, the amendments. The amendment process is excellent, in that it's a rare process requiring widespread support. Without changing the Constitution, we would never have ended legal slavery or established women's suffrage. It's a good thing, in small doses.

It is long past time to do away with the Electoral College.

First, a little background. The Electoral College is a term used to describe the 538 electors, chosen by the states, who choose by vote the President of the United States. Each state is allocated electors based on their number of Senators and House Representatives. As a result, states have a minimum of three electors (2 senators and 1 representative). Washington, D.C., is also granted 3 electors. States have the right to decide how the electors are chosen, although all states currently award their electors based on popular vote. With the exception of Maine and Nebraska, each state awards all of its electoral votes to the candidate who receives a plurality of the votes. A candidate must receive a simple majority in the Electoral College to win the Presidency; if no candidate achieves this, the House of Representatives elects the President from among the three top vote-getting candidates.

Here are some of the reasons why I think it's a bad idea:

You can win the Presidency even if the other guy gets the most votes.

I'm not saying Al Gore would have been a great president! But as bad as the Gore-Bush situation was, it could potentially be way, way worse in the future. Here are the eleven biggest electoral college states: California, Texas, New York, Florida, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, Georgia, North Carolina, New Jersey. Together, these states constitute 271 electoral votes - a majority! Consider the following completely unlikely scenario:

In the 2020 Presidential Election, Chelsea Clinton defeats Jenna Bush in the aforementioned states. Voter turnout is extremely low in the states of the "Clinton Coalition", and the total score is 10,000,000 to 9,000,000. Jenna Bush wins the rest of the country in a high-turnout landslide, 100,000,000 to 50,000,000, as the voters come out in droves to protest Clinton's eleven-state campaign strategy. Thus we have Jenna Bush winning the popular vote by a 64%-36% margin, and Chelsea Clinton winning the Presidency.

It's totally ridiculous, yet it's possible, and it would be a complete and utter disaster. How can we, as a nation, support a system which would allow for such a situation?

If you live in a small state, your vote counts more than if you live in a big state.

Consider State A and State B. State A has twice as many people as State B, but both states are pretty small - say State A has 400,000 people and State B has 200,000. Therefore State A has 2 House Representatives and State B has 1. In the electoral college, then, State A has 4 electors while State B has 3 electors. So, in State A, there's 1 elector to every 100,000 persons; but in State, B, there's 1 elector to every 66,666 persons. In other words, the people who live in State B have more power than those who live in State A simply because they live in a smaller state.

There's no reason for candidates to campaign in states that lean strongly one way or another; swing states get all the love. If you live in a state that usually leans one way or another, there's little incentive for you to vote.

Lately, California always votes for the Democrat. As things are presently constituted, you're unlikely to see John McCain and Barack Rodham Clinton doing much general election campaigning in California. In 2004, Kerry defeated Bush in California by a 55-45 margin. If you're a Republican in California, you know that your vote is not going to make much of a difference, because the Democrat is likely to win the state and get ALL the electors.

Mac Watson said on KTAR yesterday that the dissolution of the Electoral College would mean that candidates spend all their times in big population centers. I think that's wrong. If we went to a straight popular vote, then candidates would be forced to campaign where their message is relevant, where they think they can get out the votes. You'd find John McCain campaigning in rural California; you'd find the Democrat campaigning in Dallas, Austin and Houston. Right now, if your state happens to be closely divided, you get all the candidate attention. It's bad for the country as a whole, and serves the interests of a few.

It sucks to be you if you're a third-party candidate.

This is an obvious one. Since the states are winner-take-all, if you don't win a plurality in any states, you are irrelevant. So even though Ross Perot won some 20% of the vote in 1992 and 10% in 1996, his Reform Party gained no traction nationally and is now marginalized, because he won no electoral votes. Bad for the country.

I know that some of this seems far-fetched. I also know that the small states are unlikely to give up the additional power that the system affords them. But I simply can't conceive of how we wouldn't be better off, as a whole, if everyone's vote counted the same, everyone had the same incentive to vote, and the candidate who gets the most votes wins.


District of Columbia v. Heller

The Supreme Court quite recently heard its first gun control case dealing with an individual's right to own firearms since 1939. The case was originally brought by one Dick Heller of Washington, D.C. D.C.'s current gun control law is effectively a ban on an individual right to own a handgun. The law actually says that you must register your handgun with the city, but the city hasn't registered them since 1979. Also, no other firearm (i.e. rifle or shotgun) may be kept loaded or assembled inside a person's residence. D.C.'s position is one of crime prevention. Heller's position is one of self defense. Heller won in a lower court decision, and the Supreme Court has heard the case.

I will make no attempt to hide where I stand. Heller is right. His right to defend his home against potential invaders outweighs his city of residence's right to restrict handgun ownership to those who disobey the laws. That is effectively what is accomplished every time a ban of any kind is passed. Only the criminals then possess whatever was banned.

I listened to the majority of the oral arguments on CSPAN (I missed the D.C. lawyer's argument). First, I am really, truly glad that I will never be the Solicitor General of the U.S. This guy got grilled, and, to his credit, did really well. I guess that if you stick a brilliant legal mind in front of nine other brilliant legal minds, it all works out. There were two major points from the orals that I wanted to address.

The first was something brought up by Souter. Apparently it was illegal to keep a pistol loaded in one's home in Massachusetts back in the late 1700's. This was due not to gun control influences (assuming there were any at the time, which I doubt), but due to fire control issues. You see, black powder is quite flammable, and it's storage was restricted to the upper floor of buildings to allow for the best chance of saving the building in case of fire.

Souter's point was this: If a state could make a law (no loaded pistols) to account for extraneous circumstances (fire), why could D.C. not make a law (no handguns) to account for its own circumstances (one of the highest murder rates in the country)? He was asking this question repeatedly to the guy defending Heller, and the lawyer never gave any answer, always dodging the point. I don't know why. The answer is that restriction of handguns and functional long guns intended solely for the protection of an individual's or family's home gives an unfair advantage to the criminals. I think part of the definition of a criminal is one who disobeys the laws. If I'm a criminal and I know that nobody in the city has a gun but me and my fellow criminals, I've got free reign to burglar (or worse) any home I want.

Second point from the orals: I really believe that the majority of the Supreme Court Justices (I'm going to leave out Thomas here because he didn't talk, so I can't attest to his motivations, and I'm also leaving out Stevens because his opinion was blatantly obvious) are truly interested in ruling based on framer's intent and precedent. The last case to address this issue was Miller in 1939. That decision said that an individual's right to own firearms was restricted to those arms which would have "some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia", specifically meaning that a sawed off shotgun would be useless in a militia setting, so we can't have those. The biggest shock of the case for me was when Ginsburg implied that machine guns, while not reasonable in a militia setting in 1939, could be considered reasonable, in fact necessary, now. Her point wasn't that we should be able to have machine guns (which is debatable), quite the opposite. She was suggesting that the precedent had outlived its usefulness. But she recognized what upholding that precedent could mean. Also, there was much argument over whether the right to "keep and bear arms" is one right or two, and when a person is considered to be "bearing arms".

Overall, I think that this is a fascinating case. I think that the good guys (Heller) are going to win (the swing vote of Kennedy was hammering not having the ability to defend yourself in your house as not okay), though how broadly the decision is applied is the big unknown. I suppose we shall find out this summer how this all shakes out and what is is all going to mean for our right to own and use firearms.



There are a number of things going on right now in the news that don't have blogs (or blog comment threads) dedicated to them, so this is a free-for-all comment thread - if it works, we'll do them regularly. Some possible topics of discussion:

--Barack Obama's relationship with Jeremiah Wright
--Economic problems, including the collapse of Bear Stearns
--Osama bin Laden's recent tape
--Michigan deciding against a revote in the Democratic primary

Here's your place to vent!


Where do you REALLY stand on the political spectrum?

Hi, Guys - Just a quick post today. For me, one of the most fun and actually educational things I've done over the last year politically is complete the survey that will place you on the "Political Compass." Basically, the theory is that politics is not a simple line, but much more of a spectrum - so, this particular website has developed a survey (pretty indepth) that "charts" where you lie.
The four extremes are Left (Communist), Right (Super Conservative), Authoritarian (Fascist) and Libertarian ( Anarchist). Obviously nobody will be extreme either way, but you will find yourself a mix of two of these groups. It's a pretty good self evaluation. I recommend it for a few reasons:

First, you might be surprised about where you really line up.
Second, you can ask yourselves questions honestly and privately.

It's a good self reflection. So what are you waiting for? Go here and see where you lie. And then come back here and tell us where you line up. I'd like to see where each one of you are on the spectrum. And then, come back here and tell us where - who were you between, what quadrant were you in, and, were you surprised by the results, and do you agree with the results. Even if you have never commented, we still want to hear from you.

I'm particularly interested if there is a greater average of LDS people in one particular quadrant or leaning one particular direction. please leave feedback saying where you line up. Have fun - peace - Rick
oh, BTW - here is mine - and here are some other international famous political figures.


NPR's Financial Comparison: March 2008 vs. November 1995

Last time the Dollar sank to trade for 100 yen was November 9, 1995.

What were other financial indications like at that time??

Dollar trades for 1.4 German Marks

Gold $386/oz

Barrel oil $14

Stock closed at

Unemployment: 5.6% (considered good news, people were happy with this rate)

What are these same indications at today, March 2008?

Euro trades at $1.60 US dollars

Gold $1000/oz

Barrel oil $111

Stock closed

Unemployment: 4.8% (considered not low enough, many people unhappy with this rate)

*If you'd like to listen to the minute-long NPR comparison yourself, click here. From All Things Considered, March 13, 2008.


Stream of Consciousness: Spitzer, Ferraro, McCain

Attention citizen. Pay no attention to the looming economic recession, critical deflation of house equity and inevitable economic hardship sure to affect the majority of households for the foreseeable future. For this purpose we will continue to expose the scandalous behavior of some of our out-of-favor ruling elite for your distraction and amusement.
-Fark.com Forums

Look, I'm as fascinated as the next guy by a scandal. I get a kick out of watching some hypocritical jerk take a well-deserved fall, whether he/she be a Democrat or a Republican. I understand that news media is motivated 95% by ratings and 5% by influence.

But this is getting out of hand!

I have to dig through the news to find things relevant to my life. Did you know that the Euro is worth $1.55? No, you probably didn't, because Eliot Spitzer hired a hooker. Did you know that Barack Obama won a primary in Mississippi? No, you probably didn't, because Geraldine Ferraro, D-Irrelevant, said something stupid. Did you know that the Fed is lending $200,000,000,000 to securities firms to help stave off recession? You probably saw that, since it caused stocks to jump, but you're more likely to know that Mary Ann from Gilligan's Island got caught with some weed in her car. Wouldn't it be nice if some mega-billionaire would start an impartial news network that wasn't beholden to ratings? Somewhere that concerned citizens could tune in to find out things which are IMPORTANT? GRRRRRRRRRR. I'm having a bad day, so this is going to be interesting.

That said, I recognize that the Spitzer thing is a big deal. I was listening to Mac Watson and Larry Gaydos yesterday on KTAR as they basically ripped apart Silda Spitzer and other wives of scandalized politicians, saying that she shouldn't be up there standing by him, or sticking with him at ALL, and basically accused her of being a useless golddigger, someone addicted to being married to power. As if they have ANY idea what's going on in her life. What's she supposed to do, leave her husband within the hour of some news outlet making an accusation? Some of us place higher value on marriage than that - and that's a good thing. I hope the Spitzers work things out, and if she leaves him, I hope she does it out of the public spotlight, because it's not our friggin' business. And does anyone think that any successful, married politician got there without the help of their wives? That's such a naive notion. Political careers are usually a team effort, and marriages are a partnership. One spouse can't go out and be governor if the other isn't at home taking care of the FAMILY. Why does this carry no weight for them? "Trying to keep your family together, Silda Spitzer? YOU'RE POWER-HUNGRY - YOU'RE JUST AS BAD AS A HOOKER - NO, YOU'RE WORSE, AT LEAST THE HOOKER KNOWS THEY'RE A HOOKER." Does that sound too outrageous to be real? That's a real quote, and something I've seen echoed on blogs, etc., and it's frankly unbelievable.

WHO CARES IF GERALDINE FERRARO SAID SOMETHING STUPID ABOUT BARACK OBAMA? She doesn't represent Hillary Clinton; indeed Clinton called her remarks "regrettable". She suggested that he'd be a non-issue for Clinton if he wasn't black. She's wrong about that - he'd certainly still be around - but guess what? I believe his race has been to his advantage, for a couple of reasons. One, it's neutralized the bump Clinton was due to receive as the first viable female candidate. In other words, if Barack Obama was white, her gender would be a big selling point for her; since he's black, it's "the first black and first female candidates". Two, his is a message of change, and you don't think it helps that he looks different than the 40 presidents which preceded him? Do you think his message of change would be as effective if he were a 60-year-old white guy?

Larry Gaydos also said last night that, though it isn't ok to consider race and gender when evaluating a candidate, it IS ok to consider age, and I don't understand that at all. McCain, as much as I don't like the guy, should be considered solely on his actual merits. The fact that he is old should not affect your vote for him. It seems natural to say, "But wait, the older people get the more likely they are to lose their mental faculty, so it's reasonable to take that into consideration." OK. Here's some more statistics (that I'm making up, to illustrate my point): Women are less likely to hold executive jobs than men. Do I take that into consideration for Hillary? Does that imply that they're less qualified? Blacks are less likely to graduate high school than whites. Relevant for Obama? Does it indicate lower intellect across the board? Homosexuals are more likely to contract HIV than heterosexuals. Pass on a gay candidate? They might die sooner? No. Individuals need to be considered INDIVIDUALLY. To the best of my knowledge, McCain has showed no signs of age-related mental decline. If he did, that'd be one thing... but he doesn't. Give the guy a fair shake.

I'm going to go drink some hot chocolate or something...


FL, MI, and Divided Convention

I had these thoughts on the last thread, sorry for the overlap.

Mike, you make me sad. Why have you commented only once in the last week?? I need more J-Mike.

The big questions in the presidential race right now are 1) What is going to happen to all those votes in Florida and Michigan, and 2) Which party gains an advantage from a protracted Democratic race?

1) Howard Dean is in a hard place no matter how intelligent and politico-savvy he may be. (I might interject here that there is an interesting video on YouTube that speaks to both of these qualities of HD...) There is a real problem with states moving their primaries up and up. If it goes on unchecked, you will have marginally-most-greedy state's contest landing the day after inauguration. I don't want it, you don't want it. The right thing to do was to draw a line in the sand, as the DNC did. But then comes the sticky issue of enforcement. If you allow those FL and MI votes to count, it's wide open for all the states to reposition their contests come 2011. (And yes, they will start in three years if this happens; we are already right up against the "same-year" wall with 3 Jan!) I don't want US citizens to be disenfranchised any more than the next guy, but I don't believe you can allow the votes from the premature contests and avoid a future primary season that is a year or more in front of the generals. As for a redo, it seems that since Hillary and Obama are doing so well at fundraising, and the DNC, too, that they could afford to throw those states a financial bone. However, this results similarly in encouraging their non-compliance. If it does happen, I don't think the states should have to pay for it. First, because it was the state legislatures, not a popular referendum, that moved the primaries too far up. Second, there are lots of Republicans and independents who would have to foot their portion of the bill in next year's taxes. And all to help Democrats avoid a divisive summer? No thank you.

2. I see that many people believe the too-close-to-call Democratic contest is good for whoever ends up going against McCain in November. However, let's think about some of these arguments.

Since Romney dropped out, the media haven't spent much time on McCain because there's no story to tell. It is true that the Democrats have gotten more press, BUT the media don't much want McCain to win anyway, so more McCain on camera right now wouldn't actually help him. At the same time, if you think that increased airtime will help the eventual Democratic nominee, you assume that they both need more name recognition, or that the more America sees of them, the better. In my opinion, neither one of these is true. In fact, I think the more America sees of Hillary in particular, the less likely they will be to vote for her. Maybe a different story for Obama, but maybe not. Also, the longer this goes on, and if one or the other starts to slip a bit, America will see something universally repugnant: a candidate on his or her way out who says truly despicable (and possibly true) things about his or her opponent. In addition to these, I think there are some other things to consider.

First, consider that the nominees of both parties will need to move away from their base and toward the center as the general draws nearer. McCain, who is known to be at odds with the Republican base on not a few issues, is now past the point where he has to make campaign promises to placate them. Obama and Hillary, however, are in a fight for their very political lives, and as the contest drags on will have to say things that their base wants them to hear. In doing so, I think they will find it harder to move to the center once the catfight is over; they will have pigeonholed themselves into positions that the center do not like! This should be a serious concern to Democrats if they are concerned about electability.

Second, so many resources are being put to use in Ohio and Texas and now Pennsylvania that address the opposing Democrat and leave McCain alone. Sure the Democrats are outfundraising McCain, but to what end if they spend it all fighting each other? There is a serious waste here, and one that draws money away from the national campaign.

Third, and along those same lines, the Democrats have at minimum 6 weeks more (until Pennsylvania) before they could possibly see a single candidate. Say what you will about continuing the debate and giving Americans a choice, but there is also a tremendous amount of effort necessary to take over a party committee and gear up a national campaign. McCain has ample time to do so, and he will be ready for whomever is chosen as the Democratic nominee. You think the next President has to be ready on day one in the Oval Office? He or she better be ready for day one of the national campaign! The McCain camp and all the RNC good-ole-boys are strategerizing their socks off right now, with option A for a Clinton win and option B for an Obama win. Unfortunately for the Democratic hopefuls, they have a very limited capacity to work on McCain as long as their strategies are focused on beating each other.

Fourth, and finally, with each passing day the specter of a divided Democratic convention becomes more and more imaginable. I would like to see it, in fact I wanted to see it for both parties. I think it would be interesting to watch. But I also think it would be bad for the eventual nominee's chances in the fall. Divided convention would bode great danger of a party schism. With Nader already nipping at the left's heels, the last thing Obama or Hillary wants is a divided convention.

I don't believe, from a Democratic perspective, that the "benefits" of staying on TV are worth the gift of time to McCain's people.

Well, thoughts? Does any of what I've said make sense? I'd like to hear from y'all.


My turn again for the primary election recap!

Well, since there was (and still is!) some excellent discussion going on in the "economy" thread, I waited an extra day to post my sure-to-be rapturously brilliant thoughts on Tuesday's primaries.

No, really, don't thank me.

Last time I was up for a post it was Super Tuesday, and it seems to be strangely my duty again to provide a forum for discussion of the nitty gritty "political" business (strangely, because for contributing to a political blog I really am more philosophically inclined. I have a lot of energy for theoretical discussions of things that are never going to happen, but I fizzle out in grand fashion when it comes to implementing those ideas or translating them into the real world. Just ask my husband!)

Best I can figure, the Democrats are at an impasse (is anyone surprised? They have not one, but TWO candidates who stand a good chance at winning and I guess they figure the only way to screw it up is by dividing the vote, right up until the moment of the convention. Nicely done, guys).

I'm watching all this unfold with bemused disinterest, honestly. As I've said, I'm a Democrat because it's the best option given the voting structure in my state. I feel no special loyalty to either party - in fact, I think the whole two-party thing we've got going on here in really not serving the interests of the American people very well at this point, although if we can't even agree on a definition of "torture" then I suppose there's not much hope of overhauling what has become a completely arbitrary political vocabulary.

I am reassured on some level that there's still a race, at least on one side, because it does at least mean that the People haven't yet let the Media make their decision for them. This is promising. But what I am most afraid of is that the people of this country are going to face the beginning of the next Administration with as much rancor, polarity, and fatalism as we've seen the last couple of years. There's a number of scenarios under which I can imagine this outcome:

1) McCain wins it all. Liberals fear 4 more years of GWB, real conservatives and Rush Limbaugh feel falsely represented. Hey, but at least we're safe from The Enemy!

2) Clinton takes the nomination by any method. 100% of conservatives and 25% of liberals roll over with their feet in the air and proceed to discount anything that comes out of her mouth or her office, just like we've got now with GWB. I can't take much more of this defeatist climate of blame; I will lose my mind. really. Don't make me prove it.

3) Either Democratic candidate takes the nomination via some combination of Florida, Michigan, and Superdelegate votes. I don't know what they're going to do about FL and MI at the convention, but I think either way there's going to be a big stink. That's what we do best, and it's sure to have thousands of people glued to their televisions. And I do appreciate the Superdelegates' input because they are in a unique position to know the inner workings of Washington and the candidates on a personal level, but come on! They're politicians! I think the American people are tired of having their popular vote subverted and their Fearless Leader chosen via Supreme Court decision, hanging chads, and/or picking out of a hat. It's hard to imagine any positive change coming out of such inauspicious beginnings.

Unless we have another 9/11. Nothing brings people together like an enemy we can all agree on (at least for awhile) and good old-fashioned Fear and Trembling. I never thought I'd say this, but in that way I do look back on the final months of 2001 fondly. We had something in common, we were willing to sacrifice to preserve our common interests, we were on the same page - for a few brief shining moments, kind of like Woodstock or the release of the iPhone. But I guess there's no point in dwelling on the past.

Plenty to keep us busy in the present, and the ever-advancing future.


Economic Depression or Recession?

I'm under the impression that an economic recession begins about 6 months before it is publicly acknowledged by the government. Its probably no surprise to you to hear people talking about our current recession. Rather than talk about factors contributing to the current state of the US dollar, I did some research on what the upcoming presidential candidates say about the economy.

Hillary Clinton's site doesn't have a tab under the label economy. But she does have several actions on her agenda which seem to be economy-driven.

1) Lowering taxes for the middle class. Hillary claims to give child tax credit and marriage penalty relief. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think this is no different from the current situation. We used our child as a "write-off" when we did our taxes last month. And we find it cheaper to file as a couple rather than as individuals.
Hillary also offers some tax credits for people in college, retiring, etc. One thing I thought was interesting is her desire to expand the EITC. Is the EITC something like a handout which Democrats love to give the struggling in society, or is it really more of a tax write-off which not many people know how to include when they file?
Hillary also wants to give a childcare tax credit. This is good and bad. Good because there are A LOT of people with kids in childcare which costs lots of $$ but also provides jobs for those doing the caring for said children. Bad because...wait a minute, is it bad? I am seeing nothing but perks from this tax credit. Unless the money has to jump through hoops to be returned to its owners. That is always a nuisance.

2) Hillary wants to empower American workers by empowering labor unions. This is another discussion for another post, another time.

3) Hillary wants to create high wage jobs in pursuing alternative energy methods. Supposedly this is a bonus to provide low cost energy and broadband to underserved and disadvantaged communities. Um, who is going to pay for the high wage jobs that isn't bringing in much revenue since it is so low cost? This isn't really specified.

4) Hillary wants Americans to work hard so that then Government can step in and provide them tools they need. Again, the wherefores and hows to describe what this means is not really specified. I would personally love it if all able-Americans worked hard. However, experience has taught me this is not the case for many many people. Knowing their president is urging them to work hard probably will not change their work ethic.

5) Hillary wants to "bolster" retirement security by encouraging savings and investment. She wants to do this via a government 401k plan. I'm still trying to decide how this is different from what Social Security was supposed to do.

Barack Obama's site lists an economy plan that is supposedly going to stimulate the economy by providing tax relief for 150 million workers.

1) Barack Obama wants to give a $500-$1000 tax cut to each 'family' to help stimulate the economy. Maybe I am way off here, but I think that $500 doesn't do much to fatten the wallet nowadays. That wouldn't even pay my rent for one month, and I am not in an appealing part of town, and my apartment is not the greatest place to live either. Yet, in my area, I can't find anything cheaper. I digress...

2) How on earth is tax relief for 150 million workers going to swing our country out of a recession? This is approximately half the US population. Hopefully at least half the population is working so they can have income, pay taxes on that income, and then get tax relief in turn.

3) Obama's next great idea is to simplify the tax filing system so that each American can file their taxes in under 5 minutes. I don't think this is possible. However, he claims that this will save $2 billion in tax preparer fees. I think that this is going to cost more jobs and lower the economy further, if anything, because less money is being spent, more people will lose jobs (like H&R Block) since no one needs to pay them to do their taxes anymore, and no taxes will be paid on this lost income. Personally I don't think that the amount of money "saved" by filing in 5 minutes is going to be worth the hassle of creating a filing system that is easily accessed and is equivalent fraud-proof with the current system.

4) Obama says he wants to double federal funding into research to create high-paying jobs. This reminds me of Hillary's idea.

5) Obama wants to invest in education, investments, and training. Worthwhile things to invest in, however, I don't think investing in these things can help us RIGHT NOW. And people tend to whine or cheer based on their current situation, not the projected situation in 5-10 years.

6) Obama wants to expand rural businesses and somehow attract highly skilled professionals aka doctors to rural areas. No specification on how exactly he wants to accomplish this, or if this will be immediate in his presidency or simply a long-term projection.

7) The biggest impact that I can see as far as immediate effects go in Obama's platforms comes in the form of cracking down on credit card fraud and bankruptcy laws. Personally I think that this is the major contributing factor to the current recession (that is to say, credit card debt/filing bankruptcy for being irresponsible) and hopefully will curb people's irresponsible spending habits. He wants to cap interest rates as well.

I could go on, but in the interest of time and space I'll let you jump around the sites I highlighted. For an account by the Washington Times on why Obama's economic package justifies his title as the most liberal senator (including Ted Kennedy) click here.

To see details on John McCain's tax cut plan, click here. McCain's plan to address the economy seems to take a pretty conservative outlook, at least at first glance.

1) John McCain wants to permanently repeal the AMT, alternative minimum tax. This will save the middle class over $60 billion in one year, and he's counting on people turning around and spending the money saved, thus boosting the economy by higher consumer activity.

2) McCain is also pledging to fight the Democrat's attempts to raise taxes in congress, he wants to make the majority vote necessary to raise taxes 3/5. He wants to cut corporate taxes from 35 to 25%. He also wants to allow first year deductions for business equipment expenses. This should help more businesses survive that first year with better profit margins, and help the economy by providing services/products to the consumer market.

3) McCain is looking to veto bills that are driven by corruption (lobbyists I am assuming) rather than issues important to the American people. He's also looking to curb earmarks. I don't even know what an earmark is, but according to his site "Earmarks restrict America's ability to address genuine national priorities and interfere with fair, competitive markets."

4) McCain wants to save Social Security and have the government supplement it so that it won't collapse under the pressure of the baby boomers. Personally I think this is a better idea than Hillary's idea to create a whole new "401k" system. Its always cheaper to keep the current system and fix it rather than scrap it and start a new system over.

5) McCain wants to limit Medicare because he thinks that this is a major threat to our economy. Or rather, he thinks our economy can't support it. I agree: Medicare is a huge waste of our tax dollars. McCain wants to limit Medicare spending and protect seniors against rising payments, which I think is also good. If you'd like to read his exact healthcare reform plan, click here.

6) As far as energy is concerned, McCain wants to do what we need to do to be independent from foreign oil services. Again, I agree with him.

7) McCain wants to enforce government fiscal responsibility. According to him, a substantive amount of money collected from the American people is squandered every year, wasted ludicrously by those persons in office that we the people have elected and are trusting to act in our best interests. I don't know enough about what goes on behind closed doors in Washington DC but personally I am inclined to believe him!

All in all, its good to look at the major candidates to be the next president and actually look at what they are proposing to do, economy-wise, for the next 4 years. In my opinion, none of these actions will be enough to pull us out of the current recession immediately. Perhaps some of these things are harsh enough to pull us into a full-blown Depression. All 3 candidates have good ideas, all 3 have some ideas that aren't so good too. The trick is to look at their ideas without bias and honestly see which candidate you agree with, or align with the most.

What do you think?