6/30/2004

Students urge a U.S. war on alcohol

Why is this the government's job? Whatever happened to preaching personal responsibility? How about we declare war on stupidity? How about a war on sloth? How about a war on ignorance?

My issue with these types of "wars" is that the focus is ALWAYS on government solving societal ills rather than people. I'm tired of everyone telling me what I should or should not do. I'm not a child and I know what's best for me and my family...the government does not. I have a vested interest in my behavior, government could care less about me personally.

6/29/2004

FOXNews.com - U.S. & World - When Should Race Be Reported?

More political correctness from the leftist media. This is classic insanity...and the media doesn't lean left? Imagine if police departments started doing the same thing. "We have report that some guy wearing a white shirt and blue jeans shot someone, but because we're politically correct we can't tell you the race." Wow...thanks, that narrows it down quite a bit.

Race IS important when identifying a criminal suspect. In terms of the crime, race as a part of a description is useful to the public to help catch the perpetrator of a crime.

What is the media afraid of anyway? Reporting facts?

Apparently.

When Should Race Be Reported?
Tuesday, June 29, 2004

NEW YORK — A shooting on a New York City subway left one man dead last week — a violent crime not unusual in a big city. But what is different is how it was reported.

Two newspapers said police were looking for two "black men" and gave detailed descriptions of what they were reportedly wearing.

But The Associated Press reported a description of the suspects' clothing but not of their skin color.

The Associated Press wouldn't explain why the description of the suspects' race wasn't included but a spokesman told FOX News they follow established guidelines, which read:

"Identification by race is pertinent when it provides the reader with a substantial insight into conflicting emotions known or likely to be involved in a demonstration or similar event."

The media has often been blamed for letting political correctness and social sensitivity cloud the facts of a story. Bob Lichter of the Center for Media and Public Affairs (search) said a proper balance is important.

"It's good that journalists are racially sensitive, but you don't want racial sensitivity to trump basic factual reporting of the news," Lichter said.

6/28/2004

Broken system cheats voters - 6/27/04

Americans should reform elections so every vote counts

As Americans gear up for the Nov. 2 presidential election, they might ask themselves if their vote will really matter — because if they don’t live in one of 17 battleground states (like Michigan), it won’t.

It didn’t count during the primary season, either, unless they lived in Iowa, New Hampshire or a couple of other early-to-vote states. And if they vote in a congressional race, their choice won’t matter unless they live in just one of 35 congressional districts. The other 400 districts have been gerrymandered to guarantee the re-election of the incumbent.

The sad truth is that millions of Americans are being disenfranchised by the archaic architecture of an outmoded electoral system. It’s time to fix it.

In the Federalist No. 10, written in 1787, James Madison warned that “democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security, or the rights of property....” Madison was a republican, with a small “r,” who wanted “the delegation of the government ... to a small number of citizens elected by the rest.”

But even the elitist Madison might be surprised at just how few votes count in electing a president today.

Look at the current campaign. The balkanization of America’s polity into red and blue states, and the winner-take-all Electoral College mean that the 2.4 million Democrats in Texas and a combined 85 million Republicans in New York and California will have no political representation. All the electoral votes Texas casts will probably go to President George W. Bush, and all the votes California and New York cast will probably go to John Kerry. The result — dissenting voices go unrepresented.


Since the country is evenly split between red and blue states, presidential candidates focus more of their time and money persuading a smaller number of voters in a shrinking number of competitive swing states to vote for them.

In the ‘70s, up to 40 states were in play in presidential years. Today, it’s down to 17 or 18. A BusinessWeek analysis shows that Ohio, Florida and Missouri will have clout utterly disproportionate to their population.

Worse, it is possible that either candidate could triumph in the popular vote and lose in the Electoral College. A Florida reprise would create a serious crisis of legitimacy in America. No wonder people feel alienated from the political system to the point where voter participation is down to 54.5 percent — 139th among the world’s 172 democracies.

There is an obvious solution: one person, one vote. Americans indulge the Electoral College but do not subscribe to the principles behind its creation. Madison and the Founding Fathers wanted an Electoral College to temper majority rule and to preserve the power of small agrarian and slaving-owning Southern states. Today, Americans are perfectly capable of electing their own president. Direct popular elections or proportional voting for Electoral College representatives are long overdue.


But more is needed. An astonishing 98.2 percent of incumbents won re-election to the House of Representatives in 2002. Thanks to gerrymandering, there is less competition and more polarization than ever. Computers allow politicians to sift through demographic data to create convoluted election districts that divide, conquer and bury opponents.

Candidates are then chosen in primaries dominated by core left-wing Democrats or right-wing Republicans. It all means less competition and more polarization. No wonder there are so few moderates left in American politics.

Gerrymandering is an electoral monster killing U.S. democracy. Redistricting should be taken out of the hands of politicians and given to nonpartisan panels that draw reasonable districts and give incumbents no special edge. Iowa has done this since 1981 and has the country’s most competitive House districts.

Low turnout may be fine for the pols and ideologues who dominate the process, but it isn’t fine for the rest of the nation. Special interests support incumbents, and challengers must be rich to have a chance of winning.

Alexis de Tocqueville, chronicler of all things American, was never more prescient than when he characterized the collision of egos and beliefs that is a U.S. election. What this admirer of a young nation’s vibrant institutions could not have predicted, however, was that one day the delicate machinery of the Founders’ design would break down, creating a serious destabilizing condition.

Increasingly, votes don’t matter in the United States. Fewer competitive races, increased political balkanization, more big-money politics and the absence of a true popular vote for the president are making a mockery of America’s democratic ideals. We must do better.

I agree with the premise of this article. Though the 2000 election was more favorable to my views in that Gore was defeated (notice, I didn't say that Bush won), I believe that the Electoral College is hopelessly outdated. Before the Information Age, the Electoral College was likely a necessity and insured that candidates fought for every state. This is no longer the case.

The only problem I have is that it doesn't go far enough. The current electoral process is so stacked against any 3rd party that it is nearly impossible to have a 3rd party candidate listed on the ballot. Mere exposure on the ballot would help a 3rd party (such as the Libertarian Party) gain legitimacy...and votes. Obviously, candidates from the 2 major parties do NOT want a 3rd party candidate...they fear the "none of the above" vote.

Unfortunately, this will continue until people get pissed off enough at BOTH parties that they will flock to a 3rd party...we just aren't there yet.

6/14/2004

Why I Haven't Posted in a Week

Sorry I haven't posted in awhile...I was in severe pain (Link goes to my illness...the ever-so-much-fun kidney stone). I was in the hospital on Monday and back to the doc on Wednesday (original pain meds weren't working well enough). When I wasn't in pain, due to the painkillers which made me sleepy...when I wasn't sleepy, I was loopy. Needless to say I didn't get a damn thing done and I missed a week of work. Fortunately, it finally passed though I still feel a bit "off" from my normally chipper self.

Serves me right for not drinking enough water and taking better care of myself.

6/06/2004

FOXNews.com - Top Stories - U.S., World Mourn Reagan

FOXNews.com - Top Stories - U.S., World Mourn Reagan: "I think they broke the mold when they made Ronnie,' she wrote in the article appearing Monday. 'He had absolutely no ego, and he was very comfortable in his own skin; therefore, he didn't feel he ever had to prove anything to anyone."

Truer words could not be said about the greatest President in my lifetime and likely one of the best of all time. If we could only find another leader like Reagan, our country could be great again. I'm truly sad today.

6/01/2004

Rich-poor gulf widens:Growing wealth gap rates an 'orange alert'

Growing wealth gap rates an 'orange alert': "Rich-poor gulf widens
'Inequality Matters' conference puts nations on alert"

A friend of mine on the left-coast sent me this article. I think he knew it would fire me up. This article isn't even subtle in it's slant. It's the evil rich, the evil America, etc. Here are some notable quotes:

"People in the U.S. now don't live even as long as people in Costa Rica. Meanwhile the U.S. infant mortality rate has risen, so much so Cuba has a better success rate of bringing healthy children into the world."

"McCain-Feingold is not nearly as effective as it should be," says Lardner. The campaign finance reform act he's speaking of is easy to poke holes in this year, as John Kerry runs against George Bush's $200 million war chest."

"For one, the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy exacerbating the disparity between rich and poor."

"Members of United for a Fair Economy (who include billionaires and the wealthiest of our country, such as Bill Gates and Warren Buffett), are calling for the estate tax to remain, despite its scheduled elimination in 2010 following phased-in declines. Buffett says the estate tax helps to keep America's "meritocracy" in check. Repealing the estate tax could create an aristocracy based on wealth, he says."

"Instead of putting the nation on high red, orange or whatever color alert this summer, instead of spending almost $200 billion dollars (so far) for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and sending more than 100,000 young people to fight overseas, perhaps those resources and that money could be put to use to make us truly a more healthy nation. Wouldn't that be a more admirable model to show the world than the Abu Ghraib photos?"

"In just 14 days the problems of the poorest countries in the world -- starvation, lack of education, scarcity of potable water, etc. -- could be solved if each nation donated its military spending budget for just that period of time -- 14 days."

"As it stands, the United States and other developed nations have even fallen below their commitments to the World Bank, which helps fight social causes like poverty and education."

"Three billion people are living in "poverty" on less than two dollars per day, 800 million people lack access to basic health care, 17 million people -- including 11 million children -- die every year from easily preventable diseases and malnutrition, 2.4 billion people lack access to proper sanitation, 1.1 billion do not have safe drinking water, 275 million children never attend or complete primary school education and 870 million of the world's adults are illiterate."


The article touts Cuba as an example for medical care (don't all liberals do this?), but fails to address any of the reasons why medical care in this country is in a crisis (can you say malpractice and aging population?). I'll address this in more detail in a future rant that I'm currently working on.

I enjoyed the whining about Kerry running against Bush's $200 million war chest. Of course, they don't mention how George Soros has contributed $16 million to fight Bush . I guess the McCain-Feingold bill not being effective to fight that sort of campaign finance abuse isn't as distressing to them.

First of all, "tax cuts for the rich" is really a misnomer. It's a tax refund...it's YOUR money. The government takes a position that is' THEIR money by saying cuts. That the politicians are doing you a favor...WRONG. It's your money to begin with. Not theirs. Secondly, the rich pay the greatest percentage in taxes, so naturally, they'll get more back with a tax refund.

Of course, the article doesn't address the problems with the Alternative Minimum Tax which seriously affects the middle class. Some of the effects can be found here with an example here.

The rest of the article fails to address any of the real reasons for poverty in other countries. It only hints at the U.S. failure to address those issues in other countries by not properly funding the World Bank and spending too much on the military and war. The liberal solution to any problem is to throw more money at it. Poverty may be a problem, but the underlying cause is NOT just a lack of money. They don't mention the failure of those countries' governments to properly educate and feed their own people. It's totalitarian and radical religious governments that fail to educate and feed their own people. They also fail to mention the generosity of the American people who donate 1.64% of their aggregate gross income.

Poverty is caused not only by the system, but by individuals living within the system. In our country, it's a system that fosters government dependence rather than encouraging self-reliance. Prior to welfare we had a system that worked. Family, charity, and community were successful for 150 years. The government has been tremendously unsuccessful in replicated that success.

Funny how they continue to whine about inequality...hey, they're rich and I need some money...can't Buffet, Gates, and Soros give me some since they care so much about inequality? Nah, I'd rather EARN it!