Thursday, February 21, 2013

Does anyone still read this?

Hello, interwebs. It's been awhile. Actually I've been here, I've just been ignoring you.

To my blog, I know I neglected our relationship. Times have been tough. America, especially, has been tough. A whole new slew of catastrophes has transpired since I opined naively on California election results. Plus there's the problem of me needing to work sometimes to make money...and enjoying my last few months of relative childhood. Yeah. It's been tough.

But soon I will be graduated, a new professional in hopefully government or public relations. While I dominate the Google results for my name, my last blog entry was clearly in 2010. That just doesn't look great. I would delete it, but I also want to keep my previous posts for use as writing samples. So my only choice is find time in my crazy senior year to revive the blog and get back into using my brain.

So here goes! What am I going to write about? Who knows! Am I going to get weird online trolls and haters on my page? Probably! However I am in it for the adventure...however small it may be.

If anyone DOES still read this and has a political topic suggestion I am all guarantees.


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The GOP steps up: Pros and Cons of a possible takeover

The Wall Street Journal Opinion: Can Republicans win the Senate?
The Sacramento Bee: Even in liberal bastions, GOP sees election chance.
The New York Times: Half-dozen NY races may help GOP win House.

With all the talk lately about a Congressional regime change a few weeks from now, I decided to finally see for myself what kind of chaos we're talking about here.  Being the hyper-moderate, reform-minded citizen that I am, I can see both positives and negatives in an imminent Republican power grab.

Respect for the Constitution, states' rights, and conservative government spending are just a handful of the "right-wing" values which I hold dear, and I think these are also qualities in legislators that the public truly wants to see, especially in the context of what our nation is going through right now.  There is definitely a good chance that more moderates will vote Republican this November simply for the sake of reining in the economy and not so much for the party's position on various policies.  However, one of the things that I am truly excited about is the prospect of environmental policy reform.  If the Republicans take either house of Congress, it will no longer be so easy for the super-liberal to pass their costly and overregulating "green bills" through the system.  This amazing article from POLITICO is (hopefully) a forewarning of what is to come, especially since EPA official Lisa Jackson came clean that "the EPA is not required, and they do not consider, jobs or economic impact when evaluating permits".  So much for economic recovery!  Environmentalists seriously need to account for the whole political picture, instead of guilt tripping the populace with pictures of baby polar bears and swinging of hammers on the businesses which employ us and run our economic sphere. If it takes a Republican Congress to make that happen, I'm all for it.

The reasons I'm also a little apprehensive of this change are pretty justified in my opinion.  Some of the Republican party's current platforms are pretty questionable, not to mention some of the radicals they have running for office this year.  The party's constant damnation of anyone who falls outside of the white, Christian, hetero, middle-class prototype has made them extremely unpopular with the younger and more moderate voter set, me included.  For example, Carly Fiorina (running for Senator against Barbara Boxer in California) is uncomfortably pro-life, which doesn't exactly mesh well with the party's de-regulatory stance on everything else.  It's just rooted in religion, something the Republicans should be careful with in the future if they want to keep their advantage over the Dems.  As far as other frightening GOP politicians go, I think the following articles speak for themselves:
POLITICO: Christine O'Donnell questions First Amendment, separation of church and state. 
The Washington Post 44: Sharron Angle tells Hispanic students: "Some of you look a little more Asian to me".   

I think it's apparent that so far, human beings have failed at creating the "perfect" political model, and will continue to fail for at least several more decades.  Policies, issues, and pundits come and go, but one thing that stays the same in our system is the inevitability of change, and I think it might just be time for another one here in the US Congress.  It all depends on the attitudes and convictions of the voters this November.   Fortunately for me, I won't have to bang my head on the wall either way, since I already voted for all Libertarian candidates!  After all, they say if you don't vote, you can't complain--and in all seriousness, I just really don't want that kind of silence forced on me.  Especially since I will most likely end up needing to do some complaining in, oh, about 2 weeks.  Probably sooner.    

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The First-Ever, Totally Righteous, Mysteriously Thought-Provoking KultureshoK Voting Guide

Gimme a sticker, folks: I VOTED!  The bubbles have been filled and the envelope sealed.  I can't believe this is only the second election in which I have been eligible to vote, but I have nonetheless been more invested in this particular race than I ever expected to be.  I have made my final decisions on each California ballot proposition and take immeasurable delight in sharing the end results with you, my noble readership.  Take offense if you must, but these are the decisions I felt to be in the overall best interest of our economy, our government institutions, and more specifically, my young peers here in the Golden State, waiting patiently for adequate education funding and the chance to make a buck someday.  Enjoy!   

YES on Proposition 19— Control and Tax Cannabis in California!  I truly hope you weigh the facts as much as you can before voting on this one.  Politicians don’t know where to turn to fix California’s problems…deficits, high incarceration rates, unemployment…Prop 19 is projected to GENERATE $1.4 billion in tax revenue, REDUCE law enforcement and prison spending and save tens of millions of dollars while STREAMLINING police operations to solve more violent crimes, and CREATE 60,000-110,000 brand new California jobs.  Some call it crazy.  I call it common sense.

YES on Proposition 20— VOTERS FIRST Act for Congress!  In 2008, voters passed Prop 11 to create an Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission to end gerrymandering and backroom politics during CA state legislature redistricting.  A YES vote will extend this Commission’s power over California’s federal congressional redistricting process as well, so our elections and representation by our lawmakers will be more fair.  

YES on Proposition 21— Establishes $18 vehicle license fee surcharge to help fund State Parks and Wildlife Conservation!  Kind of a no-brainer for me…this is actually the Proposition with the least dramatic fiscal impact, and hey, it’s for a good cause, right? 

YES on Proposition 22—Prohibits the state from taking or borrowing certain local government funds!  Didn’t know too much about this initiative, but looking back on the financial crisis we just survived, I would be a little uncomfortable allowing more insider borrowing, especially within our government.  This may backfire on me, but as always, I am prepared to take the heat.

YES on Proposition 23— Suspends AB32 (Global Warming Solutions Act) until unemployment rate drops to 5.5% for full year!  I have received so many dirty looks for this one already.  Although the polling for this Prop is sketchy, I will not back down from my belief that our economy is too fragile for AB32 at this time.  I’m all for efficiency, but voters must face the reality that our “green” industries are simply oversubsidized by the government and our “green” policies are just dragging the rest of our economy down. 

NO on Proposition 24— Saves recent business tax reforms!  One word: JOBS.  No matter what your opinion is about “big corporations”, I hate to break it to you, but they are the ones creating the shiny consumer products you use every day and employing tens of thousands of California workers.  If we repeal the 2008 tax reforms, these powerhouse companies will be double-taxed for each new employee hired.  In other words, they're not going to hire, and instead they're going to pack up shop and skedaddle to Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico. 

NO on Proposition 25— Keeps the legislative vote requirement to pass the state budget at 2/3 majority!  This was the toughest Prop for me to decide on…on one hand, I would love to take away our legislators' pay every time the budget is late, but on the other hand, it’s way scarier to give them an “easy way out” by dropping the vote requirement to simple majority.  The problem isn’t the voting system—the problem is the legislators!  They need to learn how to do their jobs and compromise the old-fashioned way…or get booted out of office. 

YES on Proposition 26— Requires state and local “fees” to be voter-approved by a 2/3 majority!  Sooo…whose idea was it to start calling taxes “fees” in order to weasel his/her way out of asking our approval?  Not cool.  A tax by any other name would still smell just as bad, sneaky legislators, and the voter still has the last word on that subject!  YEAH AMERICA!

NO on Proposition 27— Keeps the Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission!  (see Prop 20) Sneaky legislators again!  They must think they’re really funny, trying to get their redistricting power back so they can once again draw funny shapes on maps in order to discriminate based on locations of racial neighborhoods and party opposition within their district.  We can’t allow our lawmakers to abuse our institutions and our trust in this manner, or democracy will surely fail.  

Hope this gives you a little insight, whether you love me or hate me!  But either way, please, please, PLEASE, if you live in California, register to vote by October 18 and get out and VOTE November 2nd!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Crossfire: CA governor candidates take the stage in first formal debate

KABC-TV Los Angeles: Gov Candidates Brown, Whitman meet to debate

That's right, folks--after 2 long months of relocating, working, studying, and various other forms of college student diversion, I am BACK with a brand new election-season rant!  Tonight marked the opening episode of the California gubernatorial debates, and for many politically-minded Californians, the moment we've all been waiting for.  Held at UC Davis, this debate was the perfect opportunity for Meg Whitman and Jerry Brown to publicly explain their plans for the governorship, as well as address some of the issues that have been so gossiped about in the press the last few months.  While I strongly encourage every Californian to watch this debate for themselves, I simply can't resist the urge to recap it.

First off, I was completely and utterly surprised at Whitman's debating style.  She presented herself much better than I (or anyone else for that matter) expected, although it wasn't perfect; I did find her incessant repetition of talking-points-in-a-can quite annoying, and also caught a few weak spots in her arguments, not to mention that she used the word "child" twice in referring to California public university students.  Brown brought up a few good points and performed like the seasoned politician that he is, but in my opinion, made some far-fetched claims and dropped the ball on some sensitive topics.

The issue of California's ever-tardy, ever-gluttonous state budget was the first point of discussion.  Finally the candidates were able to talk about something in a formal setting, free of mudslinging (or in Meg's case, cash-slinging) advertisements or op-eds.  I gave Brown the first point of the evening for his budget plan, which involves cutting his own budget 15% as well as challenging our state legislature to do the same, while making the budgeting process more transparent and taking the backroom politics out of the equation for good.  Whitman's plan involves...a two-year budget cycle, rather than the fiscal year that the Fed and the entire rest of the economy is currently running on?...seems to me that more budget confusion isn't exactly what we need.  I gave neither candidate points when it came to their job creation strategies.  Whitman's proposal to eliminate the startup tax was well-played, but her biggest plan involves eliminating the factory tax and crossing our fingers for manufacturing to pick back up where it left off, and Brown's dream is an all-out hippie offensive from the already grossly over-subsidized green sector.  Thanks for the suggestions guys, but as one of the millions of students getting ready to graduate from a four-year university with student loan debt, I'm really not inclined to settle for a job in assembly line production or retrofitting solar panels to roofs in the scorching California sun.

Speaking of education, I reluctantly had to throw Meg Whitman her first point of the night when the question of UC/CSU/CC fee increases came up.  I was so disappointed by Jerry Brown's argument--he started out by saying how much he loved the UC system...but when the panelist asked him if he pledged to hold the line on student fees from now on, he backpedaled and refused to stand his ground on the issue.  Come on, Jerry!  Even Arnold was able to rein in the chaos a little for the '10-'11 school year!  Whitman, on the other hand, actually proposed strategically streamlining and siphoning money from other areas of the government (namely welfare programs and staffing) in order to keep our universities going, although I found it slightly ironic that she kept bringing up downsizing on government staff, which would require cutting hundreds, even thousands, of jobs, when she made job creation one of her key issues.  Looks like she's learning the ropes of politics pretty fast if you know what I mean.

Immigration was where the debate really got interesting.  Nobody can deny the problems we face as a border state, and I must award this point to Jerry Brown, although more on the basis of my own personal bias.  Brown's strategy was both rational and feasible: implement efficient law enforcement programs that deport and take action against the undocumented immigrants that are actually committing crimes, then work on a peaceful path to legal citizenship for Mexican immigrants.  Whitman expressed her opinion that the Arizona immigration law was too "divisive", then immediately flipped the script and talked about taking action against every illegal immigrant in the state.  She can think what she may, but if she seriously thinks that she's ever going to be able to afford or enforce such a plan and hunt down and deport literally tens of thousands of off-the-books immigrants, then she knows even less about policy implications than I thought.

The night's festivities ended with a humorous discussion of fresh political-press gossip.  Meg's campaign strategies, namely her flat-out lying TV commercials and her $90 million personal check, were addressed, and while she went on the mother of all tangents when confronted about some of her ads, she made a pretty good point about the funding: by paying for much of the campaign herself, she holds herself accountable to no one else.  A good point, but I still can't help but think someone made up all this stuff for her and made a pretty penny.  Brown, a long-time slave of labor unions and other liberal pity-parties, testified that he is now much too old to care about special interest liabilities and other traditional games of public office.  He then ruined his progress by running over time with a corny shout-out to vote no on Prop 23, which by the way, Whitman supports, and unfortunately I have to give her another point for being on my side of the enviro-policy battle.

No matter which way you cut it, this debate was the most interesting thing that has happened since the start of this campaign.  About 30 days and a few more debates remain...who's it gonna be?  The sketchy 1970's "moonbeam" governor from the Bay Area?  Or the sketchy corporate bigwig rookie from the Bay Area?

...Personally I think we're screwed either way, but there's no point in politics if you don't at least try to participate!  In the words of Stan Marsh, "I learned that I better get used to having to pick between a Douche and a Turd Sandwich, because that's usually the choice I'll have" (South Park Studios).  Couldn't have said it any better myself.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Wikileaks, war, and wingnuts: Rational thoughts on the irrational

CNN: What leaked documents are telling us about the Afghan war

If you are a frequent visitor to my blog, you may have wondered at some point what my position is on the current war in the Middle East.  Like I've said many times before, I do not identify with either major political party, and on this issue I stand firmly behind that principle, as I see both sides throwing stones at the war issue while nothing gets done.  Most Republicans simply label anyone against the war as a "commie", "socialist", or the like, while many Democrats want our troops out of there immediately with no further effort. 

I wouldn't be writing on this topic at all if it weren't for this weekend's massive Wikileaks release to The New York Times, The Guardian, and Der Spiegel containing about 90,000 reports on activity in Afghanistan, many filed by the military, from 2004 to January 2010.  I'm no stranger to Wikileaks, I "StumbledUpon" it a while ago and thought it quite interesting that such a forum existed to oust government cover-ups from the trivial to the outrageous.  While I don't regularly keep up with the site, I nevertheless applaud Julian Assange for releasing these reports, regardless of their actual accuracy, and I'll tell you why.

The jist of the leak is that things in Afghanistan are not going exactly as planned.  Until now, the American press has been given limited information as to what is happening over there, in regards to civilian death toll, details of insurgent attacks, progress of the Afghan society, etc.  If our ridiculous media sphere doesn't know the facts, why trust them?  I'll take previously covered-up information over television garbage any day of the week.  The most interesting pieces of news are the ones mommy and daddy are hiding from us (aka the government).  Yesterday's and today's leak-driven news reports make many interesting claims:
  • Many of our more recent military tactics revolve around minerals, surprisingly not oil!
  • The general population thinks their new government is worse than the Taliban. 
  • Insurgents have shown up to battle wearing government-issued uniforms and driving government-issued Ford Rangers, both of which the United States provided to them. 
  • Pakistan law currently allows secret service members to hold strategy meetings with the Taliban in order to discuss plans for taking down the American occupation in Afghanistan, including assassinations of Afghan government officials. 
  • Goodwill missions are often abandoned after only a few months, including an orphanage founded in 2006 which after a few months reported housing only 30 orphans when there were supposed to be over 100, and after only a year of the orphanage being established, reported housing no orphans at all. 
  • According to Assange, actual civilian casualties at Afghan roadblocks, airstrikes, etc. "numerically eclipse" the death tolls of bigger events we hear about on the news.
My personal opinion on the war?  Whether or not these claims are completely accurate, they all support the notion that things simply aren't going very well over there.  I come from a military background on both sides of the family, love my 2nd Amendment rights, and have no sympathy for Osama bin Laden or any other member of the Taliban for that matter.  However, I think we're going about this entirely the wrong way.  The Afghan citizens have showed us that they don't want what we have to offer.  We can give them government, but we are still outsiders to them, and we are obviously being taken advantage of as corruption infects every institution that we have created there.  We're being too trusting that this society, ravaged by tyranny, terrorism, and organized crime for decades, is simply going to open their arms to democracy and everything will be alright.  We can't even control our own society here at home--our economy is tanking, approval of the government is at an all-time low, and our politicians continue to disappoint.  We need to fix that before we try to influence any other nation.

Military spending currently makes up over 50% of our federal discretionary spending.  That's about a trillion dollars a year.  Something tells me that's more than enough money to create tactical strategies that actually target terrorist groups from the inside out, but instead our plan is to...well, I don't know, let the insurgents come to us first and blow up our troops?  Build fake orphanages to act like we're doing some good for their society?  It's disparaging to our honorable armed forces, and to our national identity, to draw this out much longer.  The Wikileaks crowd got it right; they exposed the disorganization surrounding this war, and silently posed this rhetorical question: What's the plan?

Time to actually start picking off the real terrorists, methinks.  They have the money and the capabilities to do so.