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Posts Tagged ‘republican’

Before 2001 I had very few views on anything.  9/11 did not change that… getting out of college and working full-time did.  I was daily interacting with older people, and was working for a very smart and politically-minded writer, who’s legal scripts left me searching for what on earth he was talking about.  It was then that I started paying attention to current events, and reading about economics, business, history, education and so forth.  And the more I read and studied and discussed, the more I started to become opinionated and attached to certain philosophies.  It was then I also realized that, with few extreme exceptions, most political philosophies and theories are never enacted completely and freely to see if they work.  One word stands in their way… bipartisanship.

That hallowed word of camaraderie; working together under forced compromise.  Crossing the aisle.  Meeting in the middle.  Whatever you wished to call it, politics is all about it, and I think it causes is something that is less than it’s combined parts.  Or worse-

Health Care Reform's Ultimate End?

I am not against compromise.  It has strong value and is an incredible trait to be able to exercise… especially with spouses.  But I am more of a fan of ideas, and ideas need to be able to run their course to see if they are good or bad.  We would never have known that pure country music is so bad, except that it was released in it’s original form, instead of the more digestible alt-country format of Wilco, Band of Horses, and others.  All kidding aside, I do think that we stand a better chance of needed change and reform (if it is in fact needed) if we allow ideas to work.  And I’m not for it, just out of boredom.

Washington, D.C. is supposed to house our leaders.  But we have lost our leaders because they are all bent on reelection and must watch lest they try something and it fails.  Better to form a bipartisan coalition and we can all blame the other side if it backfires.  Well guess what?  I am willing to give your idea an unobstructed chance at health care, if you let my idea for social security go untouched.  You can have agriculture if you give me education.  We’ll check back in at the pre-appointed time to see the results.  If your idea has been a success then we all benefit.  If it hasn’t, then we try the other one… and so on, and so forth.  Done!

Problem is that there are still too many ancillary arguments to be made.  “My education idea didn’t work because it needs to be combined with an elimination of social welfare benefits and that’s your area”.  “Your farm subsidies are messing up my commerce plans!”  Plus there is the always relied upon threat of our nation’s demise.  “The Stimulus Bill is going to bankrupt the nation and we’ll never recover!”  “Allowing School Vouchers would immediately disenfranchise children all across the world!!!”  Also, how do we determine what results are considered a success?  That’s a political nightmare in itself.

But the same excuses are made within bipartisanship, so at least here we would have some more information to work with… again, theoretically.  This is all semantic arguing… neither party is likely to let the other run hog-wild with an unfettered agenda.  What if, heaven forbid, it works and voters switch allegiances?  Well, I guess that’s where the rubber meets the road.  If you think your ideas truly are the best, then you need to let them be tested.  And if you think the other guys ideas are the worst, let them be tested to prove it.  It’s what happens in laboratories, writers’ rooms, jam sessions, and anywhere else ideas are floated.  Except it seems in our state and national capitals.

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Expressing my objective journalistic intentions with this favourable press shot of Mrs Sarah Palin

Former Alaskan Governor and Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin has been the primary topic of discussion (courtesy of Mark) in three different posts on Criticism As Inspiration thus far:

I have remained rather silent (for the most part) regarding my specific views of Sarah Palin.  One might assume that because I typically espouse views that lean toward the left to varying degrees that I despise Palin on the grounds that she is a conservative.  That is simply not so.  Frankly, there are plenty of conservatives that I am far less irritated by.  It is not my goal to lay out with great detail why I have this distaste for Palin, but I will mention several specific things, beginning with the ‘straw that broke the camel’s back’ and inspired this post.

Just this week President Barack Obama accepted the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo.  Sarah Palin was interviewed by USA Today regarding his acceptance speech.  Several news outlets (including USA Today) have expressed shock at Palin’s comment, “I liked what he said.”  Unfortunately this comment was quickly overshadowed and devoid of all value with the follow-up comment:

I thumbed through my book quickly this morning to say ‘Wow!  That really sounded familiar.’  Because I talked in my book too about the fallen nature of man and why war is necessary at times.

Of course.  I must make sure that this is known: my grievance has nothing to do with my negative view of war.  I could criticise that (and I do, not only against Palin, but also President Obama), but I must acknowledge the very broad acceptance of ‘Just War Theory’ (which was espoused both in Obama’s acceptance speech and Palin’s comments).  The issue that I take with Sarah Palin’s comments revolve around her self-referential statements, which have become extremely familiar.  Ever since she emerged onto the national political scene and into public’s eye it seems as if she has been shamelessly selling herself – and it’s getting really old.  Palin went on to say that President Obama should behave more like President George W. Bush.

We have to stop those terrorists over there…We’ve learned our lesson from 9/11.  George Bush did a great job of reminding Americans every single day that he was in office what that lesson is.  And, by the way, I’d like to see President Obama follow more closely in the footsteps of George Bush and [Bush’s] passion keeping the homeland safe, his passion for respecting – honoring our troops.

I can hand the benefit of the doubt to Palin and assume that this interview was rather off-handed, but could she please use slightly more sophisticated language when speaking about such serious issues (“those terrorists over there…”).  She speaks so vaguely.  What lesson did American learn from 9/11 and how did President Bush do a “great job of reminding Americans [of that lesson] every single day that he was in office”?  I am not necessarily disagreeing with her statement, but I want to know what she means.  I suspect (as evidenced from her interviews and writing) that she doesn’t mean anything, it’s simply her default: empty rhetoric.  Also, how does President Obama fall short of Bush’s supposed passion for “keeping the homeland safe,” and “for respecting – honoring our troops.”?  Once again, maybe he does fall short (though I doubt one could really make a case for that), but how?  Sarah Palin is not here to answer these questions (though Mrs Palin, if you’re reading, please feel free to enlighten us with responses), so I’ll move onto another recent irritation…

In a radio interview last week Palin was commenting on the recent news that former Arkansas Governor and Republican Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee used poor judgment nearly a decade ago in his granting of clemency to a convict who went on to murder four police officers.  Palin commented,

It was a bad decision obviously, but my heart goes out to Huckabee.  I love him, and I feel bad for him to be in this position.  But I feel even worse for the victim’s families in this situation.  I do feel bad for Huckabee, but it was a horrible decision he made.

Way to stab Huckabee in the back while giving him a hug?  In typical Palin fashion she went on to make sure that the listeners knew that during her gubernatorial service she never once pardoned or granted clemency to prisoners.

I don’t have a whole lot of mercy for the bad guys, I’m on the good guys’ side.

It’s strange for Palin to compare her two-and-a-half year service as governor Alaska to Mike Huckabee’s 10+ year service as governor of a state with more than four times as many people as Alaska.  But strangeness aside, she did it and will continue to make statements like it.  Also, it’s good to know that Sarah Palin is on the “good guys’ side.”  We need more of the Bush-era absolutist ‘good vs. evil’ talk.  I am not denying the existence of absolute goods and evils – they most certainly exist.  What I am saying is that one ought to exercise a little caution and humility when placing other people (and even ourselves) into those two categories.

In the same interview Palin was asked about her political future.  She didn’t rule out the possibility of running as an independent in the 2012 election, stating,

That depends on how things go in the next couple of years…There are enough Republicans who are realizing, ‘Oh whoops, some of us liberal Republicans have screwed up.’  And I’m not including myself in that group, but some liberal Republicans have screwed up.  If the Republican Party gets back to that base, I think our party is going to be stronger and there’s not going to be a need for a third party, but I’ll play that by ear in these coming months, coming years.

Once again, Palin barrages the interviewer with folksy, inarticulate language, vague statements and self-referential moral absolutism (“I’m not including myself in that group, but some liberal Republicans have screwed up…”).  How have “liberal Republicans screwed up,” and what does it mean for the Republican Party to get “back to that base.”?

I’m not suggesting that Sarah Palin thinks that she is perfect, but she is trying really hard to sell herself as such – morally unscathed, fighting tirelessly for the average American! When President Reagan didn’t have an answer he would respond with humility, yet confident in the conservative principles that he embodied.  Like him or not, Reagan was true to his well-established core values.  Palin is a very different story.  The self-referential image she so desperately seeks to sell (her vastly [and terrifyingly] popular memoir is called Going Rogue – how many ‘rogues’ do you know and how many of them are self-professing rogues?) seems pathetic and empty.

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bobby_jindalSome of you may have heard of Bobby Jindal, the republican governor of Louisiana who was elected last year.  He was a congressman for Louisiana before that, and I have been reading about him for a while, as many conservatives point to him as a legitimate reformer.  He has become a de facto spokesman for the GOP and has been responsible for providing the republican “response” to some of President Obama’s speeches.

But it is his efforts in Louisiana that interest me most.  He came to power in a state known for its rampant corruption, and specifically for the crime and poverty of New Orleans.  Because of this, and the post-Katrina sentiment for change, he was able to be elected on his promises of reform – similar to Obama’s promises of hope.  And while our president attempts to “take advantage” of this fiscal crisis and possibly make sweeping changes to health care, banking, taxes, education, and more… we also can observe changes taking place in Louisiana.  A list of accomplishments that Jindal claims came under his watch in the last year is available here.  Some are:

  • Cutting Taxes. SB 87 cut taxes for the 6th time this year and enacted the largest single tax cut in Louisiana history. This bill will return $1.1 billion dollars over the next five years to Louisiana taxpayers.
  • Eliminating Vacant Government Positions. 984 vacant state government positions were eliminated at an estimated savings of $58 million.
  • Enforcing Strict Criteria for Use of Taxpayer Money. The Governor issued strict criteria for the use of state tax dollars toward new legislatively earmarked funding for Non-Governmental Organizations in order to safeguard transparency and accountability and to ensure that taxpayer dollars are used for true state priorities.
  • Expanding Medicaid Coverage for Foster Children extends Medicaid health coverage until age 21 for children who have left the foster care system at 18.
  • Increasing Minimum Sentences for Solicitation of a Minor: Increasing the minimum sentence for computer-aided solicitation of a minor from one year to a two-year minimum when the victim is between the ages of 13 and 16; and a ten-year minimum when the victim is 12 years old or younger.
  • Allowing Firearms to be Kept in Vehicles: Allowing employees and customers to keep firearms in a locked motor vehicle in the public access parking lots of businesses.
  • Providing Expanded Educational Opportunities by increasing the cap on charter schools in the state from 42 to 70, and giving BESE greater flexibility to renew charter schools for shorter lengths of time.
  • Raising Teacher Pay by more than $1,000.
  • Expanding Access to a Quality Education, through $10 million in Student Scholarships for Educational Excellence.

It will be very interesting to watch to see how things turn out in Louisiana… especially since Jindal is refusing some money from the government bailout.  It appears, on the surface, that with his efforts some real conservative theories (charter schools, vouchers, reduced government, spending transparency) will be allowed to see if they work.  It’s also important to note that the state as a whole, but specifically New Orleans, lost a large portion of it’s population post-Katrina and has only returned to 60%-70% by some estimates, so it is likely this reduced population is more open to new ideas.  Jindal, like any politician, has many detractors as well, obviously most from within the democratic community… and there are things to find in his governance that many will find lacking.

So keep an eye on Louisiana, and maybe we can make some comparison’s between LA and USA as far as how reduced government works vs. large government.  A bit of apples and oranges I realize, but it’s something… and since his legislature is democrat he’s making the changes in bipartisanship fashion, something Obama says he aspires to as well.

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