August 2009

War in Afghanistan Continues, Grows

The lead General of NATO has called for more troops and police in Afghanistan. What will the U.S. do and where will we stand on this? Nothing is certain- but what can we learn from looking at our history over the last decades?

The last two presidents have been dramatically different in their agendas, political viewpoints, and initiatives in office. I know few people who would make any comparisons between current president Barack Obama and former president George W. Bush. The social and environmental agendas are starkly different, and their ways of speaking and communicating in general couldn’t be more different. But to date, they have both been heavily involved in the same two wars- Iraq and Afghanistan.

Cheney and the Federal Prosecutor

Even after being in office, former Vice President Dick Cheney is garnering headlines. In the end, politics is all about power- who makes the decisions, and even above that, who controls which decisions are going to be made- in a sense, who sets the agenda. During the 2000’s while George W. Bush was president, Cheney had a strong presence in setting the agenda not only for the nation as a whole but for the direction of foreign policy, and certainly for the administration.

Saddest Day of my Presidency

I don't know what to do with myself, diary. I thought I was prepared. I went into this job, this honor thinking that I had built up a bulwark against every distressing thing that could possibly happen, but I was wrong. I mean, I knew this day was going to come sooner or later, I just didn't think it would happen now. Sure, the guy was old, but I thought he had more fight left in him. I've seen him face some pretty intense pressure in his arena. He sparred with the best and came out looking like a marble god. I thought he was gonna keep on fighting, keep on forging ahead no matter what unfair pain came his way. But he went down and there's nothing any of us could have done.

Why, Lord? Why did this have to happen? Why did Randy Couture have to lose to Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira?

Japan's Opposition Party Poised to Take Control of Government

While the economic crisis continues to batter America and the rest of the world, Obama has made a number of recent moves that have helped to soften the blow- stimulus checks, financial sector bail-outs and the more recent Cash for Clunkers program. Obama also gave a recent vote of confidence to the current economic strategies with his re-appointment of Benjamin Bernake.

While Republicans and Democrats may disagree on the actual causes of the financial crisis or how to deal with it, few are calling for Obama’s ouster, and there is little at this point to indicate that voters will want to see a power shift in the coming Congressional elections. Even if there was a move to another set of leaders, those leaders would likely come from the Republican party.

Berlusconi Fights Back

You want politics in the modern era? Imagine all of the possible reactions that Obama could have had to the way the media attacked him over his comments about the Gates arrest a few weeks ago. He could have derided the media, could have ignored the reaction completely, or he could have gotten defensive, or he could have held some press conferences, answered a few questions, and gotten on with business like a good President. He chose the press conferences.

Another option he may or may not have thought of is that classic American way of doing battle called lawsuit. If you want to see how that may have worked out, you need look no further than Italy.

Many States to Raise University Tuitions and Cut Prison Spending

Many of us have been hit hard by the U.S. economic and financial crisis. When I think about what kind of discretionary spending I have limited, it’s been mostly cutting spending things like going out for food, or coffee, buying new clothes or taking that trip I was planning. In essence, cutting back on the things I don’t need for my very survival.

Israel and International Politics

Since the creation of Israel in the middle of the 20th Century as, among other things, a homeland for Jews persecuted around the world, there has been an uneasy peace that may better be described as a slow battle between Israel and the Palestinian states that surround it. That battle has erupted in the Gaza Strip more than a few times and has erupted in smaller ways with many of the other states. Through it all the U.S. has stood behind Israel, supplying machines, guns, training, bombs- whatever was needed for the military. As well, the U.S. has provided diplomatic arguments for the existence, relevance and necessity of Israel as a Jewish state. From starting peace talks to engaging with other countries outside of the middle east in necessary diplomacy, the U.S. has been a staunch ally of Israel and all that it stands for.

Political Icon Ted Kennedy Dies After 47 Years of Service

After serving in the United States senate for 47 years, the iconic Ted Kennedy has passed away at the Kennedy's Cape Cod estate at the age of 77 after losing his battle with brain cancer.  Born in 1932, Kennedy had a long and notable career as a United States Senator in part of the family that has often been called America's royalty.

Political Career:

Suing Chevron

There is a war in Afghanistan, a war in Iraq, and a war over how to take care of the environment in a time when it sometimes feels like we are fighting ourselves. In Afghanistan and Iraq we fight with bombs and guns. With the environment, we are fighting with new tools like carbon cap and trade, the triple bottom line, and educating the masses.

And then there is the ultimate American weapon: the lawsuit. This time it is being wielded by Green groups attacking the biggest of offenders in the environmental movement: Chevron Phillips Chemical Co LP. The suit alleges violations of the U.S. Clean Air Act, specifically at the Cedar Bayou plant outside of Houston.

Obama and Afghanistan

With so much going on around the environmental legislation and international negotiations leading up to December’s Copenhagen summit and Obama and the press giving the health care reform debate center stage, it’s sometimes difficult for the common news consumer to remember something: We’re at war.
The War in Afghanistan continues to happen, regardless of what is happening in Iraq or what protesters have to say. And even though Obama was/is a proponent of reducing troop numbers and moving out of Iraq, he is very much a proponent of continuing the war in Afghanistan- and he’s not afraid to make a speech about it.

Money is the root of all Health care reform opposition

The defense of our current Healthcare System is coming from one place and one place only: Healthcare Insurance companies. They are the only ones with enough clout, money and motivation to keep Americans involved in an industry that puts human health below the bottom line. The other night on my way home from San Francisco I was listening to the addiction and sex radio show Loveline. Adam Corolla was filling in for the current host and he mentioned his old producer from the Loveline show, Bryan, who has an inoperable brain tumor. Corolla was pleading for people to go to his website and donate.

Do gangs have Lobbyists?

In light of the grandiose failure of the War on Drugs, I have to wonder if that is just the marketing front for the gangs (and hippies) and their lobbyists. Hear me out: Right now all drugs are illegal, yet readily available without regulation. Who is making the money off this illegal industry? Certainly not the government, so I must wonder, with the clear failings of the system, the infinite waste of money that is the DEA, the seemingly concrete position against legalizing it in Washington DC, who is maintaining this system of total failure?

Climate Change Politics: Congress and the U.N.

Jonathan Pershing, head of the U.S. delegation at U.N. climate talks, told Reuters that trade wars don’t seem plausible because of all the economic possibilities and opportunities that will result from clean energy developments.

"I think there will be questions about whether other countries are adequately acting. And there's going to be a question about competitiveness. But I wouldn't think there will be a trade war. It doesn't seem plausible.”

Doesn’t seem plausible? In the current economic climate that is gripping the world, who gets what development opportunities could be as contentious and debated as ever. The idea that this time around everyone will get an equal piece of the development pie is equally as implausible from my point of view.

Poitics and Money

Politics and money have been bound since the beginning of, well, if not time then certainly since the beginning of politics. And if politics came before money, then since the beginning of money. Regardless, where the money is, where it is going and, most importantly, where it ends up is usually close to the same path as where the power is, goes and ends up- and in a political sphere dominated by economics and campaigns that cost major dollars, that means following the money equates to following the political influence. There is even a common phrase that belies this: political capital.

It's been awhile...

August 12, 2009

Dear Secret Diary,

It's been awhile since I've had time to write in my secret diary. I've been stuck trying to explain to old Republicans and hillbillies that Medicare IS government healthcare, and that we will not take it away from them. Sheesh. I've had to tour the country following these fear mongering Righties telling them that we will not be bulldozing them into pauper's graves when they turn 65. Sometimes this country amazes me, I'm running out of hope, HA! Just kiddin' ;) 

Climate Change Lobbyists

You would think we could all at least gather together around the cause of saving the world- that is how they do it in Hollywood. Everyone has their differences and arguments but when it really comes down to making something happen, you buck up, take a deep breath and high-five your sworn enemy to do everything you can to get rid of the bad guys.

Apparently for now, climate change is still politics. Lobbyist groups are just as active on this as they have been on any other issue, all vying for control and influence of what is very important legislation.

You can imagine the Sierra Club and Exxon/Mobil talking into different ears of Congress members, or activists writing letters and holding protests while seasoned lobbyists sit shaking their heads with senators.

Religion and Health Care

The health care debate rages on and on- and it appears that religion, or more accurately the religious right and religious left- will have a lot to do with the outcome. During the August break, conservative groups and the religious right are making a concerted and coordinated effort to make their opposition heard.

Town Hall meetings, communication with various senators and representatives, and the standard drama on talk radio. The most contentious issues are whether the government funded insurance will fund abortion and pressure old people into not extending their lives. Both are dear issues to the religious right under the guise of protecting and respecting life as the sacred creation of God.

Fear Tactics Dominate Pot Debate too

Three Things Will Happen When Pot is Legal:

Revenue will shift from Gangs, Cartels and Hippies to the State and the People

Gangs will lose a huge chunk of their revenue: Right now most weed is grown in the United States for personal use and friend networks and that weed is not measureable. A large amount still comes across the border from Mexico and is partially fueling the drug wars on the border. Cocaine is a large part of that as well. Once the drugs are here they are sold on the street by Mexican and black gangs.  That money is supporting the gangs and cartels, but not a drop is going to the United States.

Jobs will be created (Validated and taxed actually)

Obama and the Continuing Stimulus

When President Barack Obama created a $787 Billion stimulus package earlier this year, there was hope aplenty that it would have immediate and meaningful effect on the economic crisis in the United States. Regions in the middle of the country that have been hit especially hard by the loss of job, who now have unemployment rates close to or over 10%, are in large part still waiting for that hope to turn into a reality, more specifically, they are still looking for jobs.

Obama has called for the U.S. heartland to stand strong in the face of hard times. And again, he is putting some money toward the claims. This time he has pledged 2.4 Billion as part of an effort to create green jobs and other programs to offset the difficulties of unemployment. Overall, there are 48 projects across 25 states that will get money under the deal, requiring grant awardees to match federal investment funds.