Entries Tagged as 'Politics'

The End of an Error

Today marks the end of an error and tomorrow the beginning of a new era in America… or at least that’s our hopes.

What?

Today is George W Bush’s last full day as President of the United States; and tomorrow we will have a new president, a president who takes office at a time when the American economy and the very foundation of America is crumbling, a president who talks of a new direction and a sustainable future.

My personal belief is that FDR put us on this path, and years of patch work laws creating a welfare capitalistic state combined with heavily regulated practices in some sectors and virtually no regulation in others.

I’m hopeful for the future, but change will not come quickly, nor will it come for free… we as Americans need to decide where we want out future to take us, and commit to having a better world for future generations.

Originally posted 2009-01-19 12:00:13.

Health Care

On the eve of the shortest day of the year it seems to me that this might well be the darkest day of our era.

A year ago we Americans were at what we hoped was a nexus of change for the better.  With a new president, an outsider, a visionary about to take the reigns we hoped that we would step forward and take all Americans with us.

Health care was a promise, a major plank of the Obama platform, and it would be a test to see exactly what out new president was made of.

I put forward our new president is made of nothing; he’s a failure and a disgrace.

Obviously the Nobel Committee doesn’t share my sentiment, but then again you have to seriously question a peace organization that awards an individual dedicated to the proposition that peace is sometimes only achieved through war (last I checked, war was achieved through war — and all the great wars to end all wars only spawned new wars).

Why do I say Barack Obama is a failure?

Simple, a man who cannot stand up for values he purported to have during a campaign, a man that cannot lead his own party, a man that cannot charter the imagination and dreams of Americans, a man who calls himself a leader that has failed by every measure to promote the general welfare.

Hardly a success; and certainly not deserving of an “A” for effort.

I voted for Obama for president not because I liked him or trusted him or believed in him, but rather because I didn’t like, didn’t trust, and didn’t believe in his opponent (and I still don’t).

What a sad country we live in when we must choose our leader by eliminating the worst and only having one choice remain.

I digress.

The lack of a public option for health care reform is nothing but pandering to the health care industry and will in fact achieve nothing except kill the chances of ever having true health care reform.

I simply cannot understand why Canadians can have a health care system that works and provides for each and every Canadian while in the United States we have millions with no insurance, and millions with insurance that doesn’t provide any preventive care.

If the US adopts the health care reform that’s currently working it’s way through the legislative process without adding back a public option I fear that it will be many decades before we have another opportunity to start down the road of insuring that every American has access to reasonable, affordable health care.

Originally posted 2009-12-21 01:00:46.

The Rules of Engagement

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is blasting Julian Assange for the release last week of some 76,000 documents his WikiLeaks site obtained from an informant relating to the “killing of thousands of children and adults” in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Mr Gates said in a Pentagon news conference:

Mr. Assange can say whatever he likes about the greater good he thinks he and his source are doing, but the truth is, they might already have on their hands the blood of some young soldier or that of an Afghan family,

Mr Assange stated:

Secretary Gates could have used his time, as other nations have done, to announce a broad inquiry into these killings. He could have announced specific criminal investigations into the deaths we have exposed. He could have announced a panel to hear the heartfelt dissent of U.S. soldiers, who know this war from the ground. He could have apologized to the Afghani people.

But he did none of these things. He decided to treat these issues and the countries affected by them with contempt. Instead of explaining how he would address these issues, he decided to announce how he would suppress them.

This behavior is unacceptable. We will not be suppressed. We will continue to expose abuses by this administration and others.

If in fact the US military is responsible for the types of conduct alleged by Mr Assange, and the Joint Chiefs and Department of Defense have knowledge of this conduct (or actually condoned or ordered it) I can certainly understand why Mr Gates would have made such remarks — and the fact that no investigation into this matter has been launched by the US would seem to indicate (once again) that the US military plays a much different game than they publicize or propagandize.

It’s clear to see why our government keeps secrets from it’s citizens — the question really is how much more have they not disclosed?

Originally posted 2010-08-06 02:00:47.

Leaks

Wikileaks is at it again, they’re going to publish communications from the US Department of State.

I’m outraged…

No, no, I’m not the least bit outraged at Wikileaks; I’m outraged at the childish actions by governments around the world.

In the United States, we have a government “of the people, for the people, and by the people” which I read as any and every piece of information possessed by the United States government belongs to me, and I have a right to unfettered access.

How can citizens of the United States be expected to make good decisions in choosing those who will lead them if they’re not given access to all the information they desire?

It’s a travesty that our government conducts covert operations against not only perceived threats, but against it’s own people.

The time has come to make major changes… the time has come that the governments of the world stop hiding their lies behind the veil of “national security” and begin to act like responsible adults instead of childish bullies.

Originally posted 2010-11-28 02:00:13.

The Most Conservative and Liberal Cities in the United States

Detroit, Michigan and Provo, Utah each top the Bay Area Center for Voting Research’s (BACVR) lists of the nation’s most liberal and conservative cities, respectively. Surveying United States cities with a population over 100,000, BACVR found that the top twenty-five most liberal and conservative cities in America come from a wide variety of regions across the nation.

Of the most liberal cities, Detroit heads up the list with 93.96% of voters casting votes for liberal candidates in the 2004 presidential election, followed by Gary, Indiana with 93.08% of the voting going to liberal presidential candidates, and Berkeley, California in third with a 92.76% total for liberals. Other cities in the top twenty five in descending order are the following: the District of Columbia; Oakland, CA; Inglewood, CA; Newark, NJ; Cambridge, MA; San Francisco, CA; Flint, MI; Cleveland, OH; Hartford, CT; Paterson, NJ; Baltimore, MD; New Haven, CT; Seattle, WA; Chicago, IL;  Philadelphia, PA; Birmingham, AL; St. Louis, MO; New York, NY; Providence, RI; Minneapolis, MN; Boston, MA; and Buffalo, NY. Provo, UT heads up the top twenty-five conservative cities with 86% of the vote going to conservative presidential candidates in 2004, followed by Lubbock, TX at 74.81% conservative support, and Abilene, TX in third with 72.80% of its voters choosing conservative candidates. The remaining cities in the top twenty-five in descending order are: Hialeah, FL; Plano, TX; Colorado Springs, CO; Gilbert, AZ; Bakersfield, CA; Lafayette, LA; Orange, CA; Escondido, CA; Allentown, PA; Mesa, AZ; Arlington, TX; Peoria, AZ; Cape Coral, FL; Garden Grove, CA; Simi Valley, CA; Corona, CA; Clearwater, FL; West Valley City, UT; Oklahoma City, OK; Overland Park, KS; Anchorage, AK; and Huntington Beach, CA.

America’s voting patterns are split by region, with the Midwest and Northeastpredominantly voting for liberal candidates, and the West (with the exception of the coast) and South voting for more conservative candidates. These results confirm the preconceived notions that many have about the conservative nature of the South and liberal nature of the Northeast, but also surprisingly found conservative trends in the West and liberal leanings in the Midwest that defy traditional stereotypes about these areas of the country.

A number of important demographic factors determine whether cities vote for liberals or conservatives, with race being the most important factor. Cities with predominantly large African American populations ended up as the most liberal cities in America, while the cities with the largest Caucasian populations wound up as the most conservative. These strong correlations seem to indicate that African American votes continue to support primarily liberal candidates. A survey of income and economic status indicates that poorer and less educated than average regions also tend to vote for liberal candidates at a higher rate than their conservative counterparts, indicating that liberal candidates may be ahead in capturing those with concerns about the state of government run social programs and poverty.

Another major correlation appears between marriage rate and the tendency to vote for conservative candidates, as liberal cities appeared to have more single voters than conservative cities with marriage rates at or above the national average. This data indicates that family centered voters surprisingly voted more for conservative candidates, demonstrating the success of conservative candidates to appear as the more moral, family oriented candidates in a way that did not appeal as much to single voters. Population size also seems to have a significant effect, with larger urban environments tending to favor liberal candidates by a wider margin than those with smaller population sizes, demonstrating the success of liberal candidates in large metropolitan areas where concerns about social programs and poverty spoken of against theincumbent Bush administration were most salient. Suburban or mid-sized cities were on the whole more conservative and split in the 2004 presidential election, with conservative candidates receiving more votes in these areas than from their urban counterparts. These demographic issues indicate that racial makeup, income rates, regional location, marital status, and population size all combine to affect the propensity of American cities to vote on either side of the ideological spectrum.


The Twenty-Five Most Conservative Cities in America The Bay Area Center for Voting Research finds that the top twenty five conservative cities in America share many common characteristics, including larger that average Caucasian populations, a large percentage of married couples, smaller city size, and higher income and education level than average. The top twenty five conservative cities come primarily from the South, non-coastal areas of the West, and Southern California, which is indicative of a conservative voting trend in these two regions.

The city of Provo, Utah tops the list of the twenty-five most conservative cities in the United States. Located approximated forty-five minutes from Salt Lake City, Provo is a relatively small city by the scale of this study, with a population of 105,166. Founded by Brigham Young, Provo has a strong Mormon background, with Brigham Young University located in its city limits. Provo’s religious background, small town feel, and large Caucasian population all combine to make it the most conservative city in the United States. Analysis of current voting data shows that 86% of registered voters in the city voted for Bush or other third party conservative candidates, while 14% voted for Kerry or other third party liberal candidates.

Lubbock, Texas came in second place, with 75% of the registered voter population voting for a conservative candidate, while 25% of the population voted for a liberal candidate. The city of Abilene, Texas came in third place on the list, with 73% of the registered voter population voting for a conservative candidate, while 25% voted for a liberal candidate. The city of Hialeah, Florida followed in fourth place, with 71% of the registered voter population voting for a conservative candidate, while 29% voted for a liberal candidate. The city of Plano, Texas completes the top five, with 68% of the registered voter population voting for a conservative candidate and 32% voting for a liberal candidate. Rounding out the top ten are the following five cities, in descending order: Colorado Springs, Colorado; Gilbert, Arizona; Bakersfield,California; Lafayette, Louisiana; and Orange, California. All of these five cities displayed results of over 64% of their registered voter population voting for a conservative candidate and over 32% for a liberal candidate.

The next set of seven cities all display over 62% of their registered voter population voting for a conservative candidate and 37% for a liberal candidate. They consist, in descending order, of the following: Escondido, California; Allentown, Pennsylvania; Mesa, Arizona; Arlington, Texas; Peoria Arizona, and Cape Coral, Florida. The next set of six cities all display over 61% of their registered voter populations voting for a conservative candidate and over 38% for a liberal candidate. They consist, in descending order, of the following: Garden Grove, California;  Simi Valley, California; Corona, California; Clearwater, Florida; West Valley City, Utah; and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

The remaining three cities all have over 60% of their registered population voting for a conservative candidate and over 39% for a liberal candidate. They consist, in descending order, of Overland Park, Kansas; Anchorage, Alaska; and Huntington Beach, California.

Altogether, the top twenty-five most conservative cities are composed of twelve cities from the West: seven cities from California, three from Arizona, and two from Utah. There are two cities from the mid-west that are located in Colorado and Kansas. There are nine cities located in the south: four from Texas, three from Florida, one from Louisiana, and one from Oklahoma. Finally, there are one city each in Pennsylvania and Alaska. Below is a chart of the twenty-five most conservative cities in America with the percentage of votes for either liberal or conservative candidates.

• The Bay Area Center for Voting Research • www.votingresearch.org • 510-528-0110 •

The Most Conservative and Liberal Cities in the United States (full report)

Originally posted 2011-05-22 02:00:13.

Have to start keeping an eye on my neighbors…

Only 24 July 2010 Greg Brown, Jr (son of the Santa Rosa County Property Assessor Greg Brown) and his wife Jennifer Brown were caught on surveillance video removing his opponent’s campaign signs in the Florida State District 1 Representative race Doug Broxson.

Because of previous incidents of vandalism, video surveillance was shot by Jason Broxon (the candidate’s son) on property in Holt Florida owned by Don Dewrell.

Doug Broxson’s campaign manager, Kevin Brown (not related to Greg Brown), delivered copies of the tape to the Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Department and the Pensacola News Journal.

Greg Brown insists that he and his wife did nothing wrong by removing Broxson’s signs from property owned by a Brown campaign supporter.

Brown said he saw his opponent’s signs on the vacant lot after leaving a political rally in Jay on Saturday night, and said that the owner of the land had previously agreed that Brown’s would be the only District 1 candidate allowed to place signage on his property.

I personally have a few issues with Brown’s statements.  Jay (Santa Rosa County, FL) is immediately North of our neighborhood (Brown and his wife live just down the street from me), and Holt (Okaloosa County, FL) is no where near any reasonable route from Jay to Milton — in fact, you’d have to go pretty far out of your way (Hwy 87 goes from just East of Jay to within a mile of their house; Holt would be a 25 mile or so detour — on a 10 mile drive)… so to me, there’s something missing in what he said.

Also, apparently Doug Broxson didn’t get the memo that he wasn’t authorized to post signage on that property (and it may well have been posted on the public right of way, it’s hard to tell the distance from the road in the video)… and the “conversation” between Greg and his wife makes the whole episode seem a little suspect; but regardless, it seems very suspect for a candidate to remove another candidate’s signs — clearly we’re not dealing with the sharpest tool in the shed (actually I’ve never met Greg Brown, Jr — but any candidate that puts himself in a potentially compromising situation like this might not be my first choice for making decisions that effect my livelihood).

Anyway, you can find a great many write ups on this with a quick search (you can use the search box to the right if you like).

Bottom line, maybe I need to move putting up my surveillance cameras around my property a little higher on the list — I might not live in as safe a neighborhood as I thought.

Originally posted 2010-08-11 02:00:23.

Due Process Dies

On Monday 17 May 2010 the Supreme Court of the United States of America handed down a 7-2 decision that affirms the ability of the federal government to hold inmates they deem as “sexually dangerous” in the future indefinitely.

Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, and Joseph Stalin surely stir in their graves at the finally winning the wars they started so long ago.

In the last decade American have lost civil right after civil right; legal protection after legal protection — all in the name of making ourselves “safe”… but in fact all we are doing is making ourselves slaves.

Let me point out that in the United States, a person is found guilty by a trial of their peers, and a judge passes sentence for the crime… when the period of internment expires the criminal has paid his “debt” to society.  Apparently we now believe that the United States government [though the Department of Justice] has the ability to adjust the term of a sentence indefinitely.

How long is it until the United States government just dispenses with the formality of a trial all together, and locks away individuals who they say are a threat… oh wait, that’s already happening — at Guantanamo Bay!

NOTES:

Justice Stephen Breyer wrote the court’s majority opinion stating that it is “a ‘necessary and proper’ means of exercising the federal authority that permits Congress to create federal criminal laws, to punish their violation, to imprison violators, to provide appropriately for those imprisoned and to maintain the security of those who are not imprisoned by who may be affected by the federal imprisonment of others.”

The judgment reversed a lower court ruling that said Congress overstepped its authority in allowing indefinite detentions of prisoners considered “sexually dangerous.”

“The Federal Government, as custodian of its prisoners, has the constitutional power to act in order to protect nearby [and other] communities from the danger such prisoners may pose.”

In order to do it, however, the government must prove the following:

1. The individual has previously “engaged or attempted to engage in sexually violent conduct or child molestation.”

2. He/She currently “suffers from a serious mental illness, abnormality, or disorder,”

3. The prisoner “as a result of” that mental illness, abnormality, or disorder is “sexually dangerous to others,” in that “he would have serious difficulty in refraining from sexually violent conduct or child molestation if released.”

A hearing, during which the individual would remain incarcerated, would then determine whether or not he/she could be released.

“If the Government proves its claims by ‘clear and convincing evidence,’ the court will order the prisoner’s continued commitment,”

Justice Clarence Thomas and Justice Antonin Scalia dissented.  Justice Thomas argues that Congress can only pass laws that deal with the federal powers listed in the Constitution (States Right) and stated that nothing in the Constitution “expressly delegates to the Congress the power to enact a civil commitment regime for sexually dangerous persons, nor does any other provision in the Constitution vest Congress or the other branches of the federal goverment with such a power.”

The Supreme Court ruling upholds the Adam Walsh Chile Protection and Safety Act signed in 2006 by George W Bush.

Originally posted 2010-05-19 02:00:33.

Due Process in Jeopardy

by Wendy McElroy, The Freeman

The Supreme Court takes liberty lightly

Last week the Supreme Court ruled in United States v. Comstock et al. that Congress has the constitutional authority to empower federal district courts to civilly commit dangerous sex offenders who had completed their sentences. In effect, the courts can mandate indefinite confinement of such federal prisoners. The controversial power derives from Section 4248 of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006.

Civil commitment generally refers to the involuntary confinement in a mental institution of a person deemed dangerous to themselves or to others. In 1949 the federal government assumed the power to detain federal prisoners in treatment facilities past their sentences if they were judged insane. The new decision expands this power in significant ways. Moreover, given the aggressiveness with which the law and public opinion focuses on sex offenders, use of the new civil commitment power is likely to become widespread.

The decision also invites state involvement in federal civil commitment. The ruling declares that “‘all reasonable efforts’ must be made to cause the State where tried person was tried, or the State where he is domiciled, to ‘assume responsibility for his custody, care, and treatment.’” Only if both states refuse will the federal government accept responsibility for the prisoner. Currently, 20 states have their own civil commitment programs that include sex offenders. Presumably, all states will now be expected to establish policy on this issue.

The respondents in the original motion were federal prisoners who challenged the constitutionality of being detained through civil commitment for years past their release date. The federal government argued the Walsh Act is authorized by both the Commerce Clause and the Necessary and Proper Clause of the Constitution, which are often paired together. The Commerce Clause (Article I, Section 8, Clause 3) gives Congress the power “To regulate Commerce … among the several States….” It has been broadly interpreted to include laws mandating the state sex registries also established by the Walsh Act. The Necessary and Proper Clause (Article I, Section 8, Clause 18), also known as the Elastic Clause, gives Congress the power “To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.” The government argued that the Walsh Act is necessary to establish and maintain a federal penal system.

In an amicus brief filed on behalf of the prisoners, the Cato Institute countered these claims. Regarding the Commerce Clause: “Notably, the Government does not and cannot affirmatively argue that the Act is a legitimate exercise of Congress’ Commerce Clause power. Civil commitment involves neither commerce nor interstate activity. Mental illness demands physicians not merchants.” Regarding the Necessary and Proper Clause: “[L]egislation adopted under the Clause may be justified only by an enumerated power, not by an implied power. Congress may carry into execution the powers specifically delegated to it, and the Necessary and Proper Clause permits adoption of reasonable means to carry into execution the enumerated power. But there the power ends. Indeed, the Tenth Amendment was adopted to ensure that Congress did not rely upon the Clause to expand its powers….”

Lower courts agreed with Cato’s analysis.

In the original motion both the district court and the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals found that Congress had exceeded its constitutional powers. The unanimous appellate decision held that Congress lacked a general police power to protect the public at large from crime.(By contrast, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the constitutionality of civil commitment for a “sexually dangerous person.”)

The Supreme Court decision, however, endorsed the federal power by a vote of 7-2. Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia dissented. In the dissenting opinion, Thomas stated, “The fact that the federal government has the authority to imprison a person for the purpose of punishing him for a federal crime — sex-related or otherwise — does not provide the government with the additional power to exercise indefinite civil control over that person.”

Interestingly, the constitutional protections of due process contained in the Bill of Rights played no substantive part in the ruling. The decision stated, “We do not reach or decide any claim that the statute or its application denies equal protection of the laws, procedural or substantive due process, or any other rights guaranteed by the Constitution.”

Thus the most important issue for civil libertarians was not addressed: Does the continued imprisonment of a category of criminals who have served their sentence violate the due-process and equal-protection guarantees in the Constitution? The closest the Court came to addressing this issue was Justice Breyer’s statement, “[We] assume, but we do not decide, that other provisions of the Constitution — such as the Due Process Clause — do not prohibit civil commitment.” In short, the Court’s default position is that indefinite confinement of a prisoner past his sentence is constitutional and legally proper. Constitutional considerations such as the due-process protections of the Fourth and Fifth Amendment, the Eighth Amendment protection against “cruel and unusual punishment,” and the Equal Protection of the Fourteenth Amendment appear not to automatically apply to “dangerous’ sex offenders.”

A key concern about the ruling is mission drift — namely, that civil commitment will be applied to ever widening categories of people. Since alcoholics and drug addicts are currently subject to such involuntary commitment in several states, this is a reasonable concern. It is not reassuring that the government’s case in Comstock was presented by Solicitor General Elena Kagan, Obama’s pick for the Supreme Court. She is almost certain to be confirmed. Orin Kerr, who attended the proceedings, reported at the Volokh Conspiracy website, “Kagan made a much broader Article I power argument at oral argument than was made in the Government’s brief. Indeed, her argument struck me as sort of shockingly broad: She argued that the Constitution gives the federal government the general power ‘to run a responsible criminal justice system,’ and that anything Congress plausibly thought a part of running a ‘responsible criminal justice system’ was within the scope of federal power.”

This does not bode well for individual rights or due process.

NOTE:

I wrote this post a little over a week ago; yesterday the Supreme Court issued a ruling effecting Miranda Rights.  Apparently choosing to be silent, without actually stating that you choose to be so is no longer considered exercising your right to terminate a police interrogation.  The 5-4 decision puts those who Miranda was most intended to protect at the most risk for police abuse.

The bottom line, now a suspect must clearly state that they wish to remain silent and that the interrogation is over… if a suspect does not invoke their right, the police are free to keep interrogating their suspect as long as they so choose.

Originally posted 2010-06-02 02:00:07.

Occupy Wall Street

Occupy Wall Street
Occupy Wall Street
By Adam Zyglis, The Buffalo News

Originally posted 2011-10-10 02:00:28.

US Health Care Reform

Today US President Barrack Obama is supposed to deliver a revised plan to overhaul US Health care… but yesterday Warren Buffet hit the nail on the head while speaking on CNC he said the country’s out-of-control health care costs — at US $2.3 trillion a year and growing — are like “a tapeworm eating at our economic body.”

Mr Buffet underscored that he would support overhaul legislation proposed by the US Senate, but that he would prefer existing proposals be scrapped in favor of a new plan targeted at addressing costs.

“What we have now is untenable over time,” said Mr. Buffett, noting the U.S. health-care system eats up about 17% of the country’s economic output, compared with about 10% for Canada and many other countries. “I believe in insuring more people. But I don’t believe in insuring more people until you attack the cost aspect of this. And there is no reason for us to be spending 17% or thereabouts when many other developed countries are spending, we’ll say, 9 or 10%. They have more beds, they have more nurses, they have more doctors, they even have more consultations by far.”

The major obstacles to any real reform would be the power health care lobbyists (representing pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies, doctors, and other health care related entities) as well as the American public.

Without reform, the cost of U.S. health care — already the most expensive in the world — is forecast to jump to around 25% of the US economic output by 2025.

My feeling is that since the Democrats couldn’t come up with a plan that they could all get behind when they had control of the House, Senate, and Presidency it’s extremely unlikely that they can build bi-partisan support for much of any real reform now.

American politics is always a shining example that change isn’t always progress.

Originally posted 2010-03-04 02:00:40.