My ideological evolution and the importance of dialogue.

June 30, 2010

I was just thinking about all the political conversations that I have had since I have been at the University of Missouri.  I was also thinking about all the times that I have vented here about people in my class that I have vehemently disagreed with.  Then I started thinking to myself about how much I can really complain since, let’s face it, my ideology was not far away from them at a certain point of my life.

I first became involved in politics when I was 15 years old.  That is where I will start the timeline (voting for George H.W. Bush and George Allen in school mock elections when I was 7 and 8 years old should not really count).  I grew up in a political family: my father was a union steward at Norfolk Naval Shipyard before he was laid off in 1993 and my grandmother was a community leader who led the fight to integrate schools in Nansemond County, Virginia (now the independent city of Suffolk).  Yet, I had always looked to other endeavors, like meteorology, which was my first love and something that I had wanted to make a career out of.  When my father was talking to me one day about my career choices, I told him this (even though he knew this already).  He then told me to go look in the want ads and see how many jobs they have in there for weathermen.  Predictably, the answer was no, and I began to think about other careers.  I was sort of rudderless, going back-and-forth between business management, computer science, and journalism.

Then 2000 happened.   Read the rest of this entry »


Marco Rubio, Charlie Crist, and The Race for Florida’s Senate Seat

June 29, 2010

When Florida Senator Mel Martinez announced he was stepping down from his post last August, current Governor Charlie Crist fairly quickly announced he would not seek reelection to that office and instead run for Martinez’s seat. Crist is a long-time political figure in Florida and has generally been viewed favorably by Floridians (the recession has hurt his approval numbers more recently). He was considered a lock to win the seat at the time. Along comes Marco Rubio riding a backlash of conservatism after Barack Obama is elected, and just a few months ago Governor Crist had to switch from Republican to Independent because it was clear Rubio would win the GOP primary.

So now you have the back story in case you were unfamiliar with the situation. Enter: this article. A great read from Adam Smith that really raises some interesting points. Most poignant, has Charlie Crist, in effect, benefited from the Gulf oil spill? And is Marco Rubio starting to lose momentum because he doesn’t have a primary opponent or is it because Floridians are beginning to learn more about him and his questionable history? Read the rest of this entry »

Sen. Robert Byrd, considered.

June 28, 2010

Today, U.S. Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) died at the age of 92 in Washington, D.C.

This is a huge loss for the United States Senate.  Even though he had not been able to attend very many hearings in past couple of years, the institutional knowledge that has been lost today is immense.  He wrote five books on topics ranging from a complete history of the United States Senate to ancient deliberations in the Roman Senate.  He was a stickler for Senate rules and carried around a pocket-sized U.S. Constitution in the breast pocket of his suit.

While he was, indeed, once part of the Ku Klux Klan for a brief time and opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, I cannot judge the actions of another era by today’s standards.  What I can say is that he eventually became a progressive leader for the Democratic Party is United States Senate, and a voice against increasing corporate influence in the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body.  He was a good Democrat, a great West Virginian, a legendary American, and he will be missed.

President Nixon In The Rear-View Mirror

June 27, 2010

President Nixon had his flaws from ethics to some of his policies. However if one takes a closer look at his accomplishments while in office, they might see a version of President Nixon that is much different than that often portrayed in the media and I suspect President Nixon’s stock will continue to rise slightly over the next couple decades.

President Nixon was a traditional Republican who was progressive on many issues from the environment to health care, but sought proper balance with fiscal responsibility. On the environment, President Nixon signed the landmark Clean Air Act and established both the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Agency to monitor environmental efforts. In 1971, he proclaimed the first Earth Week.

Presiding over the continuation of the Vietnam War, it is clear President Nixon was not opposed to the use of force. But he seemed to prefer diplomacy as a first resort and notably opened the door to relations with China. Today, Presidents and candidates are criticized for meeting with leaders of nations that do not share our values, but Nixon’s foresight and courage set a precedent for effective diplomacy.

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Human Trafficking

June 26, 2010

“ The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of people who won’t do anything about it…”

~ Albert Einstein

Myriad of topics were debated for my first foray into the blogging world, but ultimately my desire to share information on human trafficking won out. Of course when most people in the United States hear of human trafficking their first response is to relegate it to developing countries and espouse N.I.M.B.Y. (Not In My Back Yard). However, human trafficking knows no boundaries and outside of the drug trade is tied for the second most profitable criminal business. An understanding of the definition of human trafficking is necessary prior to discussing the issue any further.

Read the rest of this entry »

General McChrystal – The Shakeup in Afghanistan

June 25, 2010

Over the last week, there was a shakeup in the U.S. military leadership of the war in Afghanistan. Though there has been controversy involving General McChrystal in the past, the most recent issue resulted from an interview General McChrystal gave to Rolling Stone magazine in which General McChrystal made critical remarks to numerous government officials within the administration and diplomatic corps. The end result was President Obama replacing General McChrystal with General Petraeus who led the surge in Iraq. Troy, Doug, Eric, and Craig weigh in…

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President Obama: A Better Legislator or Executive?

June 24, 2010

I was inspired by a talk show’s discussion this week on whether President Obama is a better legislator or executive as President thus far. I believe that he’s taken a strong role as a legislator, and struggled as an executive.

Going back through my notes from my American Presidency class, the President has four major functions. (1) Symbol – head of state (2) Policy Advocate (3) Mediator – He’s the only elected official with a national constituency and (4) Crisis Manager. I think he has been weak on two of the four. Read the rest of this entry »