The Bush Tax Cuts and The Economic Recession

July 9, 2010

President Obama has a fairly big decision looming on the horizon. The Bush tax cuts are set to expire at the end of the year, but President Obama campaigned on making the cuts permanent for middle class families. Compounding matters is the deficit problem the U.S. is facing. Extending the tax cuts would obviously mean less revenue for the government as many feel it is becoming increasingly clear that cutting spending alone will not be sufficient to solve the budget crisis. Throw in the economic recession and the fact that letting the tax cuts expire would derail the economic recovery and you’ve got a real pickle. What’s a President to do? Read the rest of this entry »


Michael Steele: Stupidest Comments Ever, or Just Top 5?

July 6, 2010

As you may be aware, Michael Steele, the chairman of the RNC, was caught on camera recently saying the war in Afghanistan was a war of “Obama’s choosing” and went on to suggest that it may not be winnable. I’ll pause so you can read that again. Got it? Yes, the GOP chairman has said that.

This has got to be the most ridiculous comment I have ever heard. If I were a member of that audience I would be profoundly insulted that he thought somebody might believe that. I’ve seen where he says the quotes are misconstrued, but I can’t envision any context in which that would make sense. Virtually everybody knows we went to war in Afghanistan after 9/11, when George W. Bush was President. This was, and to some extent still is, the popular war (relatively speaking). This is the one everybody agreed on at the time and many continue to do so. This is the war where we have international allies playing significant (again relative) roles.

My problem with Michael Steele here is two-fold. First, as I have alluded to, he must think he is talking to either very impressionable or very dumb persons. I say this giving Steele the benefit of the doubt that he isn’t trying to intentionally sound like a jackass. Second, and more important, the war in Afghanistan IS a war of our choosing. Even Jimmy Carter would have done something similar in this situation! Americans would and did demand decisive action after 9/11, and we, America, set out to take it. Bush’s war is in Iraq. Afghanistan is a conflict which has been mostly supported by Americans (especially immediately after 9/11), and I believe America has too much at stake not to be there.

If I had any say, I would call on Steele to resign because these comments show either a complete absence of good judgment or complete absence of intelligence; or, frighteningly enough, both.

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 »

Fun With Surveys

June 22, 2010

This post may be a bit less political than others, but when I read this article from AP, I had to write about it. The article is basically just a bunch of interesting bits and factoids about Americans’ state of mind, opinions, beliefs, etc. It comes from the Pew Research Center and is really quite typical in terms of methodology; they surveyed 1,546 American adults over the course of a few days and the margin for error is +/- 3 points. Read through the post, my goal is to progress from the least interesting to the most curious bits from the article. Read the rest of this entry »

Thoughts on President Obama’s Address

June 15, 2010

President Obama just wrapped up his first nationally televised address from the Oval Office. The focus of the address was obviously the Gulf oil spill, but it contained a bit more than just that. Implicit in his speech was the selling of his leadership abilities and explicit was his call for a move away from fossil fuels to more renewable energy sources. My reaction just a few minutes after the speech would be to give it a 5 out of 10, and I’ll tell you why.

Obama reiterated the liability of BP regarding damages both environmentally and economically. The creation of a fund administered by a third party to ensure all legitimate claims are paid is a good idea, certainly better than leaving it to BP or the government doing it. However, I am skeptical as to the ability of anybody to compensate individuals and businesses in a timely manner. Will we really be able to replace what are typically stable (or relatively so) streams of income with what I would presume will be one-time payments somewhere down the road? If I was one of those firms that gave out loans based on future payments a person is entitled to, I would be moving to the Gulf coast. Read the rest of this entry »

Examining So-Called Invisible Punishments

June 11, 2010

Invisible sanctions or punishments are a notion that I read about in a book by a former director of the National Institute of Justice, Jeremy Travis. In his book about the challenges facing prisoners re-entering society and all of the implications of various criminal justice policies, he describes these invisible sanctions as any number of revocation of civil rights and/or additional conditions placed upon former prisoners. Sex offender registration falls into this category, according to Travis. The basic idea being that these are punishments or controls placed on individuals beyond their typical sentence and which operate largely through unknown or unfamiliar channels. The question posed to our authors today is whether or not policies which revoke various civil or social rights or privileges on the basis of prior conviction is fair, and if not what should the alternatives look like? Read the rest of this entry »

America Needs More Choices

June 9, 2010

I hate the two party system. Virtually every single election in America (in my lifetime at least) is little more than a replay of the same old ideology. The same old ideas from the same old people for the most part. As a voter and a pragmatic centrist, I yearn for new candidates who bring fresh ideas and perspectives to America–and are viable.

Why aren’t there more viable third parties in America? I can’t think of any reason constitutionally or institutionally preventing this…maybe some of my more politically aware colleagues can cure me of my ignorance on this point. From my perspective, it all boils down to money which is tremendously unfortunate. There is no telling how many qualified candidates we’ve overlooked or discarded on the basis of them not fitting into one of the major parties (Charlie Crist is in danger of falling into this category). Read the rest of this entry »