Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Economy Over Environment?

A recent poll gathered by CNN shows that more people care about getting the economy back in line than care about protecting the environment. This is after years of a downgrading recession. In the poll, 51 percent of precipitants stated that they would rather do what is necessary to get the economy back on line even if it harmed the environment to a certain degree. On the other hand, 45 percent of the people who participated in the poll put environmental protection over economic relief. To me this is funny not because of the numbers, so much, but because of the big deal that CNN is making about the whole thing. Really CNN? A six percent spread in a poll that did not get close to covering an extremely varying group of people. It just seems ridiculous, because it's almost as if the numbers could change and switch in the next day or so. The public needs polls to know what is going on and to know what to do. This is just one of the many flaws with politics in the United States - too many people rely on each others' opinions. The article link is here.

Oil Drilling Update

When Obama was running for president, his running opponent, John McCain was constantly calling for more offshore oil drilling in the United States, and less dependence on foreign oil. Now, to the dismay of many environmentalists, Obama has decided to look toward oil drilling of the East coast of the United States. If there is one victory out of this presidential decision for environmentalists, it is that Obama put a hinder on the possibility of drilling in Bristol Bay Alaska. This is what led to the determination that most of the oil was going to have to come from different areas, such as the East Coast. Bristol Bay is not completely off the hook, however - Obama merely made it necessary to conduct a thorough environmental impact study before any initial drilling work could take place. In my opinion, Obama's plan actually makes sense. Our country needs more of our own fuel sources which would provide many jobs to the public. The areas drilled would also not be quite as fragile as the Bristol Bay area. His plan even has a political tilt; if it makes to to the table, he will gain some much needed support from the GOP - the group that has been calling for this kind of drilling ever since the Presidential campaign. Overall, the step by Obama could just be the start of healing ties with the "other side," a strict division that has arisen over many years.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

New Student Loan Guidelines

It seems that in the near past any guidelines relating to student loans were completely ignored, as if they were being followed by pirates. In this case, the pirates turned out to be the banks that student loans were previously given out through. However, the new addition that Obama signed for the health care bill states that there will be no banks involved in the student loan process - The funds should now go directly from the federal government to the students. The great thing about this proposal is the fact that previously the government was paying banks to do nearly absolutely nothing; this ended up just losing money for the banks. This means that the government, according to an estimate, could save nearly $68 billion in the next ten years. The money will thus be going straight to students instead of spending time in the pocket of some large bank CEO. In my opinion this was one of the best things that Obama could have added to the health care bill. Although student loans have almost nothing to do with health care, they are a subject that touches millions of young voters; voters who could be swayed by knowing that something in the health care bill benefited them specifically. The young voters are mainly how Obama won the office in the first place, and they will be key to his success if he decides to run in the 2012 election.

Guilty and Deportation.

We just got done studying the Supreme Court in AP Government, and since then they have made a landmark decision that could effect thousands of people in the United States. I say in the United States because it may not exactly be affecting citizens. The supreme court has decided that the lawyer of any immigrant now MUST tell the criminal if pleading guilty to the crime would lead to deportation. This decision results form a multitude of changing laws regarding immigration and deportation. Some criminals thought that they would just get off with a few years in prison because they had been living legally in the United States for many years - This was not enough protection, however. Many were deported back to countries where they had nothing started and nothing going for them. These actions of deportation were what caused the Supreme Court to take a serious look at this problem. In my opinion this is a smart choice. People were suffering (although they had committed crimes), but they were not suffering with knowledge. People need to know what will happen to them if they plead guilty (this is different than proven guilty). For some people, they were willingly giving up their right to live in the county without even knowing it. This injustice is what is cured by the decision.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Repeal of Health Care Bad for Votes

Opponents of the recently passed health care bill are thinking twice about repealing it. The reason for this sudden decision against appeal - votes of course. After all, what else does politics circle around. Members of Congress and the GOP fear that an repeal of the controversial health care bill will not put them in good light with the voters this fall; some people dislike the bill, but more people dislike the stalling of legislation - exactly what a repeal would do. This means that no matter how many people happen to absolutely hate the health care legislation, it is unlikely that anything will be done to repeal what has been passed. They only thing that might lead to more change would be the introduction of a completely separate bill which would undo the doings of the latest bill. In my opinion, this is exactly how policy is implemented in the United States. It always seems that one side creates and passes a policy that allows for something to happen (like health care), and then the other side passes basically the opposite legislation to counteract what the other side does. This is just a vicious circle that never seems to end. The only thing that would change health care this time is that the GOP would have to wait until this fall to possible have a majority in either houses of Congress. Any attempt by this time could be futile. Link to the article is here.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Health Care Support Up

Before Sunday's health care vote, popular support for the bill was quite low. However, since the positive vote, support for the bill has risen a considerable amount (almost to a majority). This is an important development for any Democrat who was planning to run in the midterm elections this fall. It is quite essential that the Democrats who voted for Obama in the recent presidential election are still on board with what the party is doing today. And because health care is perhaps the greatest issue to strike during Obama's presidency, it could be what makes or breaks the Democrats during the run for midterm seats. GOP follower Sarah Palin already targeted (literally with cross hairs) the places she wants Republicans to take over the majority of seats. Colorado happens to be one of these states. This form or warfare occurs before every election between any party. It just seems to be the way things work. And to tell you the truth, if some people from the GOP were making all of the decisions at the moment, I would probably be wanting to beat them in the midterm elections (because I am a moderate democrat). So in this way what is going on happens in both directions. It is just good that some popular support is coming in for whatever the government is doing (in this case health care), because this means that people have not lost hope in the ability of the government to do something great in the future. The link to the article is here.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Palin and a Run?

It seems that whenever you turn on the television, the easily most outspoken person regarding anything that Obama is doing in the White House is Sarah Palin. Well, if Palin hates everything that Obama is doing, why doesn't she herself run for president in 2012? This is the very question that some politicos are discussing across the country. In Iowa and New Hampshire, they say that Palin could easily take the GOP primary in those states due to her popularity. This is an interesting concept to me, because I ask, "where does her popularity come from?" I mean seriously... She was perhaps one of the most inexperienced and out-of-place Vice Presidential candidates we have seen, and people want her to now run for president? Right now, I'm just using this blog to rant about something that I strongly dislike. And I'm not saying that I dislike what she stands for, necessarily, I just dislike the way in which she stands for it - she has no relation towards or has not thought about the other side (the more moderate or liberal side). To her, absolutely anything with the word liberal in it is related to the Devil. This is the very reason that I lost respect for her, and truly hope that she does not run for president. While I'm ranting, I don't really like doing these blogs very much... Oh well. The link to the article is here.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Still Climate Doubt

When a hacker broke into the private emails of the U.K.'s University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit, emails were made public on the internet that were never meant to be so. The controversy behind the emails caused the director of the unit, Phil Jones, to stand down. This may have been unimportant to American politics had Congress not been debating climate change issues on Wednesday. The emails made some skeptics of climate change resort to their founded beliefs. Republican representative James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin stated an argument along the lines that the email invalidated the recently concreted thought that humans are a cause of climate change. Others, however, such as Democratic representative Ed Markey of Massachusetts, say that climate change is a threat to our planet, and all of this is a diversion from the real problem at hand. For the most part, I agree with this view from Markey. A couple of private emails that were not supposed to be released to the public should not make legislators change their mind about the issues. The scientific reports are what should be concentrated on. However, because scandal is God in America, the issue of the contradicting emails will be blown out of proportions. The link to the article is HERE.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Obama and Health Care

Obama recently said, "If this bill fails, the insurance industry will continue to run amok." This statement shows just how much Obama and the current White House are relying on the bill. If this bill fails, in other words, Obama will have almost no time to raise his support before the next election in 2012. Although, before we consider this fact, we don't even know whether or not Obama will be running for reelection when the time comes. It seems like with all the lobbying that Obama has done, it's like he's put his entire heart and soul into this health care bill. This is most likely the reason he brought it once more from the ashes of popular support (or lack of support I should say). But when it comes down to it, the representatives are going to vote how the people they represent want them to vote. Some people, however, are saying that the representatives are going to vote the direction that is going to make the greatest number of their peers happy - a way that a majority of the people might not like. In my opinion, even though the percentage of people who like the plan is not over 50, something must be done in order to keep the United States out of the constant turmoil it has been under the past decade. Change of almost any kind is good at this point.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Gun Control

Tuesday will be an influential day for the Supreme Court. One of the biggest cases in many years will come in front of the justices, and the topic of choice will be a controversial one - gun control. The Court will aim to decide two major issues: whether strict state and local gun control laws are unconstitutional becuase they might violate the "right to keep and bear arms," and whether an individual's right to own a weapon extends beyond federal jurisdiction. Diane Latiker supports a law in Chicago that prohibits the owning of a handgun, while Otis McDonald is fighting this very law in court. The main purpose of the law currently is to try to prevent violence between people. Handguns are the most easily hidden firearms, making them perfect for violence in small crimes. For this reason, the Supreme Court decision could have a large impact on whether or not violent crimes are related to gun control. The main reason that the Supreme Court is trying this case now is becuase the Court at this time has a conservative majority. The conservative views of the Court might outweigh the liberal views on this desicion, ultimately creating a precedent with less gun control than currently noticed. This is a good issue to go to the Supreme Court, because it needs to be decided. It will be interesting to see what happens. The link to the article is here.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

No Legislation for 2010

It is only February in the new year of 2010, but still almost no large decision has been made by Congress yet this year. The scary thing is that this trend could carry for the rest of the year. Some political scientists and political observers of the legislative scene say that the gridlock that is now being experienced could continue all of the way until the mid-term election. This is because both parties cannot get a solid grip on any issue, and neither party will side with the other on any matter that is debatable. The democrats are not afraid to take chances that might alienate the voters, because they know that their time is ending in Congress if no changes are made in our government. However, republicans know that if the democrats don't do anything until the mid-term elections, they will likely lose the incumbent race for reelection. This means that if the republicans make it so that nothing happens in Congress for the rest of the year, the republicans will gain many a number of seats. Then they will attempt to follow their own plan for Congress. This is not good news for any American that wants to see change in the important issues of the nation. One party wants to change things, but not for the right reasons. The other party does not want to change things, also not for the right reasons, however. It's basically one giant stalemate in which neither side has their head screwed on straight. They do not realize that what they are going on each side looks bad to the general public. It's only a matter of time before we have a third party enter the equation, if the two that are here cannot pick up the slack of their ideals.

Important Census

The 2010 Census Can perhaps be considered one of the most important in recent history. With public support of President Obama well below 50 percent, it does not take a stretch of the mind to believe that the public will not reelect some of his Democratic counterparts in the 2010 midterm elections. Why does the Census tie into this? Because with the Census comes redistricting and reapportionment. This means that a truly nonpartisan process ends up become extremely partisan - it is truly a battle to see how much representation certain parts of the country should have. This battle translates into a battle for House and Senate seats between the two parties in the U.S. In a sense, this could either be really bad for the Obama administration, or extremely good. If redistricting favors democratic populations, then Obama bad popular support might not turn into a bad turnout for the democratic party on election day. However, if redistricting favors republican populations, the Obama administration will lose even more seats in the House and Senate than they are already going to. This would translate into disaster. I feel that it is quite the coincidence that the Census fell on probably one of the most important mid-term elections in recent history. With a republican majority in the House and Senate, and a democratic President, it's likely that we could see stalemate for the next two years. The link to the article is here.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Applied Miranda Rights

One of the precedents set under the Miranda vs. Arizona case is the fact that a criminal has the right to know he has the right to an attorney , and they have the right to remain silent until a lawyer is present. In a recent criminal case, Michael Shatzer was questioned for the first time during an investigation, but denied answering any questions until he had an attorney present. The case soon went cold, and Shatzer sat in jail for another three years. When more information on the case was found, police soon went back to question Shatzer. This time, he waived his right to remain silent, but was not told of his right to an attorney. The police said that since he had known he could have an attorney present three years ago, he did not need to be read that right once again. The first court of appeals held that the court could not use Shatzer's confession because he had not known the right to an attorney. The Supreme Court overruled this, however, by saying that Shatzer never specifically requested an attorney for the second interrogation; the Court figured that Shatzer would remember he had the right to an attorney, even if the police did not read it to him for a second time in three years. In my opinion, Shatzer could have forgotten about his right to an attorney during the three year period, because three years is quite a long time. The police should have read him all of his rights again in order to keep all fairness the same.

Killer Not Heard by Supreme Court

In 1999, Paul Powell killed a 16 year old girl in the state of Virginia, but was only convicted of raping the girl's 14 year old sister when he was taken to trial. He was put into a long prison sentence. Thinking that he had somehow escaped the death penalty, Powell decided to brag about what he had actually done. Powell thought that because of the double jeopardy clause in the constitution, the state could not take him back to court for the same crime. This is true, but in the letter, Powell admitted to killing the 16 year old girl, a crime that he was not fully on trial for during the first go around. So the courts took a look at the entire case again (taking the new confession into account), and convicted Powell of rape and murder - he was thus sentence to death sometime in the near future. Powell appealed his case to the Supreme Court, because he thought that he was unjustly tried do to the double jeopardy clause of the Constitution. This is partly true, but the crime tried was partly different. For this reason the Supreme Court recently refused to hold a hearing for Powell's case. In this light, Powell now sits on death row, awaiting his turn for the lethal injection. The Court denied the appeal because of the fact that Powell's letter was basically a straightforward confession to guilt. After all, with the truth out in the public, it's hard for the courts to protect a lie. The truth must ultimately be heard if it is a truth. The link to the article is here.

Palin Continues to Talk

After Sarah Palin lost the 2008 election as the vice presidential candidate with Senator McCain, she resigned as the governer of Alaska. However, she continues to be an influential force in the actions of the GOP. With all of her free time, she seems to be making speeches at almost every important conservative convention possible. In May of this year, May 14th to be precise, she plans to speak at the National Rifle Association (NRA)'s annual meeting. The NRA, interestingly enough, is one of the most influential interest groups in the United States. By the transitive property of government, with Sarah Palin as the keynote speaker, Sarah Palin is therfore one of the most influential people in American government. Not suprisingly, she is currently one of the most, if not the most requested speaker in the United States of America. If this at all reflects what the public would think about her running for the White House in the 2012 election, it can be seen that there is almost no stopping her. With all the help that she will get from speaking at the NRA meeting in South Carolina (South Carolina is an early state in the primary elections), its almsot as if she will walk into the White House position. Then we might just see how downhill the world will go with her writing on her hand.

Poll - People Dissatisfied with Democracy

A recent poll done by CNN revealed that most people in the United States are dissatisfied with the way that democracy is working in our country. In my opinion, this is something that people should not say when regarding a poll. If you live in the United States, you should know that our democracy is so complicated that almost nothing gets done in a noticeable amount of time. But what people need to realize is the fact that this is the same democracy that unites us into one people, and protects all of our civil liberties and civil rights. The only reason that nothing seems to get done is becuase of our system of checks and balances. However, if these checks and balances were taken away, our freedoms would be threatened in the process. For this reason, if people are dissatisfied with the way that democracy works in the United States, perhaps they should move out of the United States. And I do not say this to be interpreted in a mean way - after all, this is probably what I'm going to do once I finish being a river guide/ski bum. Preferrably these people could move to a more effective democracy, and then it would be one less person cogging up the United States' system. After all, perhaps I will meet these people another country some day. That would be ironic.

Legislation Relying on Polls

This last year, the Democrats proposed a unique health care plan for the United States. The plan started out with a popularity that was over 50 percent in the polls. However, with confusion over the bill, that popularity soon dropped below 50 percent, and the current support for the bill is below 40 percent. Basically, Congress can do whatever it wants with the legislation it creates. However, if the public does not approve of decisions, the legislators will never get reelected at the state level. For this reason, public opinion is important in determining what Congress will pass. The goal of the Congress in the next year will be to raise the popular support for the health care bill so that it can be passed in some form in the future. Congress believes that the numbers in the polls must be raised by approximately five to ten percent in order to justify passing some kind of health care bill that looks like the Democrats' plan. So in reality, when I say that it will be the goal of congress to raise the support for the bill, it will really only be the Democrats trying to raise support. The Republicans will be doing the exact opposite, trying to shoot down any attempt to raise public support. One thing is for sure in this matter: if nothing happens in the next year, support for the both the Democrats and the Republicans will fall like a rock. Something must be done - even if it's not what everybody in the world wants or supports.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Patriot Act

On Tuesday the United States Supreme Court hears cases about the controversial Patriot Act, and whether or not it violates people's freedom of speech and expression. The Patriot Act makes it illegal for any United States citizen to help a group deemed as a terrorist organization in any way. The interesting fact is that this not only includes aid in bomb making, combat training, etc, but that it also includes an American talking to a designated terrorist organization about how to resolve issues peaceably. The Humanitarian Law Project is involved in such activities. The president of the organization, Ralph Fertig, has been arrested the the United States government many times. He is arguing that the government has no constitutional right to punish somebody for promoting peace in an international incident. Perhaps the most complex part of this case is whether or not the actions of this organization and others like it actually do more harm than good. Even though they may be attempting to push peace, do their actions eventually endanger the United States. Endangering the United States seems to be the primary issue. In my opinion, a group should be able to talk to a terrorist organization in a peaceful manner as long as those talks do not endanger the United States in almost any way. The only problem is that this is a hard thing to judge and enforce. The link to the article is here.

Cadillac Health Care

As the government attempts once again to reform health care, President Obama made it clear recently that one thing should be included in the new plan. This is the inclusion of an excise tax on high-cost health care plans. The point of this tax is not really to make money for the government (the income would not actually be that great), but rather to make people look for the less expensive, untaxed health care plans. The idea is that when people have these less expensive plans, doctor visits may cost more than what people are used to; this is supposed to make both doctors and patients more conscious about what procedures and tests are done. If health care costs are not covered completely by less expensive insurance, people will think twice before flooding the emergency room with visits. In a way this makes sense, but to me it does not seem like a logical thing to do. The doctors are getting paid basically the same amount (now some of the cost is just out of the patients pocket), so why would they bother to change the examination and testing processes which they already have? I can see why the patient is more conscience of health care, because they are paying more, but the doctors have no incentive to change their practices. In this way, I think that all this tax would do is create more unneeded stress for the patient. I don't really think that a tax needs to be put in place to have patients buy cheaper health care, it just doesn't make sense. The link to the article is here.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Job Bill Passes

The last few months have been quite hard on Congress, and the Democrats in particular. Now, finally, the Democrats and the rest of Congress have something the cheer about - the passage of a jobs bill. The boost on hiring in the United States is expected to be modest, but the passage of the bill shows that a bipartisan agreement can actually be made on something. The GOP was planning to filibuster the bill, but five votes from Senate Republicans kept the bill from being filibustered; the bill ended up passing because of this. One of the key votes came from Republican Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown, who is quite new to the legislative process. One of the only reasons many of the other Republicans voted against the bill was because of the "heavy hand" method Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada used. Otherwise, support for this bill was quite strong. This fact is a relief, because it shows that Congress can actually come to a decision on some pieces of legislation. One can only hope that this progress is a good sign for partisan relations in the time coming. One thing that this shows is the fact that a small number of votes in the Senate can make quite the difference - only a few people need to be swayed in order to create a majority. This thought makes a stalemate in the Senate all the more interesting. The link to the article is here.