Saturday, January 30, 2010

Current Events

Yes, yet another combined-issue post. I've been pretty busy lately, trying to raise funds for a missions trip to Africa I'm taking this summer. But I thought I'd just go over a few recent issues, and give my take.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Abdulmutallab too

The Obama admin caved. They're not going to hold Mohammed's trial in NYC anymore, which really shows yet another incredible lack of political backbone. But I digress. Apparently, too many people found it unpalatable for him to be tried in NYC, which for myself I see as a very proper venue. It would show that we're not afraid to face our past demons.

(And of course, any event like this can't go without its mention of the most recent big, bad, scary terror plot- this time in the form of the "Underwear Bomber". Dianne Feinstein, a senator from California, stated-
"Without getting into classified details, I believe we should view the attempted Christmas Day plot as a continuation, not an end, of plots to strike the United States by al-Qaeda and its affiliates," (!!!!) "Moreover, New York City has been a high-priority target since at least the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993. The trial of the most significant terrorist in custody would add to the threat."

I find it quite hilarious that people actually think this kid who couldn't even light the bomb right was actually part of al Qaeda. We're talking about the organization that managed to coordinate attacks on some of the most famous landmarks in the US, not to mention plan and execute simultaneous attacks on embassies thousands of miles apart. And this kid, who had a bomb that wouldn't even take out his own seat, is representative of their organization?! Yeah, sure.)

Anyway, back to Mohammed. A bunch of people have been protesting trying Mohammed in NYC- or anywhere on US soil. Why? Well, you never know- it just might be that American values might forever be undermined if we were to take this incredibly drastic step.

Of course, this move is not without precedent. Bush also tried al Qaeda and other terror suspects- in civilian courts. 87 terror suspects, in fact. And (just an interesting little tidbit), Bill O'Reilly (one of the most outspoken voices against trying Mohammed on US soil) vigorously defended Bush's decision to allow these trials to move forward!

Healthcare and Scott Brown

Scott Brown the Republican Liberal won Massachusets, and thereby ensured that a watered-down version of healthcare reform will get through. I say watered down because he does want socialized healthcare, but just doesn't think the current plan will adequately fix things.

I happen to agree with him on the latter point. But I also happen to think we don't need another plan. I think his idea that individual states should take care of healthcare (though he seems to only half-heartedly believe in that, at best) is a good one, not to mention Constitutional.

'Course, Obama has already decided his healthcare bill ain't doing so hot, and has switched to other issues, probably in an attempt to dispel murmurs against him in the Democratic phalanx. (I think his time could be better spent trying to get DOMA or the PATRIOT act repealed, like he promised.

Middle Eastern Issues

So we're toughening sanctions on Iran (and planning to launch missiles at them), Karzai is reaching out to the Taliban, an imam got shot by American troops in Kabul, and the Brits are doing investigations into Tony Blair's (Former Prime Minister of the UK) conduct concerning Iraq.

To start with Iran- I have to wonder what morality we're appealing to that gives us the right to impose sanctions on anyone, especially someone who is innocent. And Iran, to all appearances, is innocent. Ahmadinejad has repeatedly stated that they don't have nukes, have never had nukes, and have no intention of having nukes anytime in the near future.

And, lets face it, sanctions do very little except make third-world countries even worse off. Cuba, a country that has had sanctions against it for years (while we simultaneously do business with them) is no closer to getting rid of Communism now than it was ten years ago. The people are starving, but our lofty goals of ridding the world of evil...mm, well not much progress. That is all sanctions do, in any case- rid the average people of food and supplies they need to survive.

Karzai, our lovely puppet-President in Afghanistan is opening peace/"moving forward" talks. At least he's trying. In fact, the Taliban (with the interesting stipulation that they must be "moderate" Taliban) is invited to said talks.

And the Brits are investigating Tony Blair, their former Prime Minister. Why? Because of Iraq, and his ardent support of it (and his friend, Bushie). I applaud the Brits for their ability to do so. I think we ought to do the same thing to Bush, but that might just be me. Of course, we lack the British capability to detach ourselves from our emotional turmoil. It might not work here.

Corporate Campaign Contributions?

As most of you probably know, the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional a 2001 ban (Feingold-McCain) on corporate campaign contributions. I agree. Sort of, and let me explain.

I see nothing wrong with corporations exercising the first amendment right to free speech, which includes using money as leverage in a political campaign. But I also think that voters should be informed enough to watch where their prospective elected officials are getting their money.

Hence, if prospective Senator Ronald McDonald has gotten $200,000 in campaign donations from McDonalds, it might be wise for voters to wonder if there is some sort of ulterior connection between said Ronald McDonald and McDonalds, and decide their vote accordingly.

***

I can't help thinking there was something else I needed to cover. Oh well. I'm going to be doing a post on the President's State of the Union sometime this week...a week after he gave the speech. But it should be up here soon. :)

6 comments:

Christopher said...

I like "combined-issue posts". They make me feel as though I'm reading a political magazine, or just watching the news. Or (don't ask me why,) listening to NPR News.

I don't really know which side to take on the first issue you mentioned. Or, for that matter, which the sides are. I need to look into this even more.

Scott Brown seems, of course only from the limited viewpoint of the media, like a good person and good politician. (I say this as not only a Democrat, but as an unbiased spectator.) The drama with the health care plan, however, I just can't keep up with. What to do besides cross my fingers that an effective bill will escape Congress by the deadline, hopefully not ripped to shreds by the conservatives?

(I like the headline, "Health Care Bill Stalled, Obama Juggles Alternate Agenda.)

Hee hee...juggles.

And concerning the Middle East, I agree with you. If not Iran, certainly about Cuba!

Unfortunately, on the last issue I must disagree. Here is a case where American ideals surpass any other influences in importance. To do the unthinkable and quote myself, it means that someone CAN buy a vote. Freedom of speech is rather different from unfairly determining the outcome of a political campaign. The method of choosing a president has already been practically ruined. But this is too much.

And without fear of switching moods abruptly and awkwardly, thanks for posting!

Liberty said...

LOL I enjoy writing combined-issue posts too. They're fun. :P

I don't think at this point that there's much hope of an effective anything getting out of Congress- except, of course, more effective debt-packages. :P

I do see your point about the contributions. But this issue, as in so many others, would be greatly helped if average voters would just pay attention, as I stated. Yes, votes can be bought. But they can only be bought if the voters let them be bought, if that makes sense.

I do think there is the possibility of the issue being taken advantage of, but we could say that about anything. Will insurance companies find a way to take advantage of any healthcare bill that gets passed? Most assuredly. Profits will always win out, and they'll find loopholes. But we'll never get rid of that. So I think that, with that in mind, we need to follow the Constitution and see where that takes us. And, of course, make an effort to get our fellow Americans to wake up. :)

suntzusays said...

"To do the unthinkable and quote myself, it means that someone CAN buy a vote." - Based on what the value of a marginal vote would be (usually at least 10k in a national election), I'd rather that corporations spend their time and energy trying to buy off the public. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately for your point of view), I don't think they are that stupid. It's a lot cheaper to buy off 535 people than 300 million, even if the cost of marginal votes is much higher there. They will continue to do that rather than screw around with election ads. At least your way the public actually gets something for their troubles. It's not like there's much chance of the public being well served by governments right now.

More to the point, there are roughly half of the state's who had McCain-Feingold like laws on the books and half who did not. It should be easy enough to look at the state level campaigns and decide empirically just how much money corporations (and unions) will plow into direct election advertising instead of their usual political effects behind the scenes (lobbying). My guess would be not that much, perhaps the equation is different for federal level spending, but even here the economics of who to support are roughly the same (ie, if you are a big business, the smart money is to back both and hedge a little bit more on the front-runner). I don't see many people in Indiana complaining about their state elections being run by gigantic businesses in state. If you want to claim there will be a run on buying votes, please show the work that indicates this is already happening in the way you describe. I think you can say "they" are "buying votes", but they are not buying the public's votes. They're buying votes at the point of legislation, where nobody is paying attention. This decision and law did nothing to prevent that, so who cares if it was overturned?

The most likely beneficiaries of this change are smaller non-profit corporations with an advocacy position already staked out, the ACLU, NRA, NOW, Sierra Club, (and the dreaded Citizens United group itself). Larger businesses and unions have more resources, but they don't have unlimited resources. They will continue to use them in the most effective ways they know how and in the manner that the public pays the least attention to. They do at least see campaign advertisements, running a negative ad or a positive ad for someone unpopular is bad for business anyway.

Carl Wicklander said...

Liberty,

I saw your comment at Don Emmerich's Peace Blog and thought I'd check you out.

I pretty much agree with what you have to say so I don't feel like there's too much to add.

You said, "Iran, to all appearances, is innocent." I'd say that's about right. The Islamic Republic, while no benevolent regime, has done nothing aggressive against us. They have not invaded their neighbors and they have not invaded us. There is no just cause to go after them right now.

Very nice blog. I look forward to reading your thoughts again.

Liberty said...

Sun Tzu- very interesting viewpoint, and you're right. Votes are 'bought', not at the elections, but at the point when legislation is made.

Carl- thank you very much for your comment. :)

Teresa said...

@Liberty

I'll just say three things:

1) If it wasn't for Scott Brown being elected, the Dems health care revolution would have been passed by now, and we'd have worse health care in the future. We need accessibility and affordability reform but not health care reform.

2)I agree with the Supreme Courts ruling on McCain-Feingold. People make up corporations so they should have a say in the political process as well.

3)Good Luck with raising funds for your missions trip to Africa. That sounds like it will be an interesting, worthwhile, and fulfilling trip.