Politics, Plain and Simple


Graham, Clinton Call for Regime Change in Iran
September 21, 2010, 11:00 AM
Filed under: Politics | Tags: , , , , , , ,

According to the Miami Herald, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said yesterday that he supports a U.S. invasion of Iran and institution of regime change as a last resort to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear bomb.  Sen. Graham likens the situation to Pandora’s box, saying that he would rather open the box than have it emptied by Iran’s development of a nuclear weapon.  Sen. Graham would also prefer the United States invade Iran, because our military is much stronger than Israel’s.

Lindsey Graham, Senator, Amy Klobuchar, Senato...While I agree that it would be bad to put a nuclear weapon in the hands of Iranian President Ahmadinejad, I think it would be a much worse thing to start another war.  While support for our allies in the region is important, starting a war while we are still at war in Afghanistan, still have troops in Iraq, and have a fragile situation in Korea to worry about, is a very bad idea.

Remember what happened in 2003 when we started a regime change war with Iraq?  We did so many things wrong and created an insurgency that still exists today.  While we assume the people of Iran dislike Ahmadinejad, we also thought that about Saddam. Then, a few years later, the people started hating American forces worse and essentially switched sides.  What’s to stop the people of Iran from turning on us?

Iran is a youthful nation, with many you adults who are very out spoken and even revolutionary.  Why not just aid them in over-throwing their own government?  That’s exactly what Secretary Clinton suggested yesterday.  ABC News quoted Secretary Clinton saying “I can only hope that there will be some effort inside Iran, by responsible civil and religious leaders to take hold of the apparatus of the state.”

That effort may need a nudge, and the United States is in a great position to do that.  A ‘nudge’ could consist of many different methods of instigating a youth movement to enact regime change, including clandestine operations from our black ops folks.  This would avoid another war, and ultimately protect soldiers’ lives and citizens’ dollars.

Oh, and talking could work too.

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Our Self-Segregating Nation

I was inspired to write this post by a recent article on Reuters.com.  According to the article, President Obama recently gave a speech in which he “urges blacks to vote and ‘guard the change.'”  Obama is trying to rally the troops again, but which troops exactly?  While he has done a lot of campaigning to try to help his fellow democrats this fall, this may be the only instance of ‘racial’ campaigning.  Any why is he allowed to call on black voters while it would be heinous for any white candidate to ‘rally the white voters?’  Because we are an over-anti-discriminating nation that’s taken equal opportunity and ran down the hall with it yelling “equal outcomes for all!”

Political correctness in this country is at an all-time high.  Well, maybe higher for some than for others.  There seems to be a growing ‘self-segregation’ of America, and it’s origin is interesting.

Almost every day I walk down the street to work, class, or out for the evening with friends, I notice the same trend over and over:  groups of friends or coworkers who all look the same.

Now, I know segregation is illegal in this country but, by the looks of our social groups, it may still be alive in spirit.  This self-segregation by minority groups is just looked at like it’s normal or expected, and even a group composed of only caucasians in the city doesn’t cause much of a stir.  If we’re such an open and tolerant society, why are we so insistent on being with only people of our own race?

The segregation goes beyond simple social activities, however.  There are organizations, clubs, unions, associations, and more  created for every minority group imaginable.  They range from the NAACP to the AMMA, there are groups for anyone involved with anything, as long as you’re a minority.  While minorities have struggled for acceptance and equality for years and now that they have it, they create their own segregated groups.

Most people would see nothing wrong with this.  However, Imagine what would happen if someone created an “National Association for the Advancement of White People.”  What do you think the reaction would be from the african-american community?  What if there were an “Ivory” magazine or a “Majority Professionals Association”?

Answer: The outcry from the minority community would be so great, the associations would be sued left and right for discrimination while the minority associations remain.

While I’m not advocating racism or segregation in the least, I do think it’s very interesting how our society struggled for many years with civil rights only to have it unofficially segregated by the very groups who worked so hard to defeat segregation in the first place.



North Korea “hardest target we face in the global arena”
September 16, 2010, 4:05 PM
Filed under: Politics | Tags: , , , , , , ,
Kim Jong-il

Image via Wikipedia

The Senate Armed Services Committee held a hearing today to talk about the current security situation in Korea, as well as to discuss recent events such as the North Korean sinking of a South Korean ship via torpedo attack.  Senator Levin’s opening remarks describe North Korea as continuing to attempt to build ballistic missiles and maintain an expensive military while its people starve.  Additionally, North Korea has tried, on multiple occasions, to sell and export arms illegally to Iran.

North Korea’s current nuclear capabilities are unclear at best, but they have reported a successful test of a nuclear munition, as well as boasting improved ballistic capabilities.  Their ability to deliver a nuclear weapon by missile or otherwise is unlikely at present, but could become a large threat in the near future.

According to testimony, the Korean-Japanese-American Alliance’s top priority in East Asia is to deter and defend while striving for peace.  China, who states the same wish for East Asia, has been “out of step with this global security issue” according to Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.), the committee’s minority leader.

McCain went on to say that China has been an obstacle in the way of our dealings with North Korea and to simply ‘step up our language’ is not enough, and is purely bureaucratic rhetoric.

The recent attack by North Korea on the Republic of Korea’s ship Cheonan could be considered an act of war according to Secretary Gregson.  However, he maintains that a decision on how to respond remains an alliance decision, and is primarily up to the president of Korea.

Senator Levin (D-Mich.) made it a point to mention that calling this act a provocation is too mild.  Instead, he argues, “it was an attack, a premeditated attack on a ship that killed 46 sailors.”

Both Democrats and Republicans on the committee commented that the U.S. needed to take a harsher stance towards China and do more than just ‘step up the language.’

General Sharp described North Korea’s current ability to fire on Seoul, South Korea with 200 long-range artillery systems without having to move the systems or ammunition.  This creates an important need for a constant state of readiness.  When asked by Senator Levin (D-Mich.) the status of this need, General Sharp replied that “we’re in a high state of readiness” with combined forces ready to respond to a North Korean attack under U.S. control.

To Senator McCain’s (R-Ariz.) question about Kim Jong-il’s successor, Secretary Campbell replied “Your guess is as good as ours!”

McCain quickly replied, seemingly angry at the lack of seriousness in Campbell’s answer, “well that’s an interesting comment on our intelligence capability in North Korea.”

Campbell later explained, after Senator McCain had left the hearing to vote on the Small Business Lending Fund Program, that he meant that it is only speculation at this point about who will succeed Kim Jong-il because the situation in Korea is so fragile.  He also described Korea as “the hardest target we face in the global [intelligence] arena.”

The hard-line stance taken by both Democrats and Republicans during the hearing is reassuring.  While the region grows increasingly unstable, it seems as though congress is ready to get tough on North Korea and China.



Bipartisan Opposition of the Defense Authorization Bill
September 16, 2010, 12:46 AM
Filed under: Politics | Tags: , , , , ,
Monson, accompanied by Apostle Dallin H. Oaks ...

Image via Wikipedia

A rare occurrence in Washington: members of both parties agree on something.

While it isn’t everyone, members of both sides are becoming increasingly skeptical of Harry Reid’s (D-Nevada) recent incorporation of the DREAM Act into the defense authorization bill.  Republicans accuse Reid of turning national defense into a controversial issue. Even some democrats, such as Senator Nelson of Nebraska, have predicted a lack of support from democrats for the defense bill after the attachment of the DREAM Act.

The DREAM Act would not only allow illegal immigrants serving in the U.S. Military to become citizens, but would also give the opportunity to illegal immigrants who are now excelling in school in the United States the chance to become citizens.

Why should the United States allow illegal immigrants to become citizens instantly while many foreigners emigrate from their countries to the U.S. and work for many years to earn citizenship?  While military service is extremely commendable and respectable, how have illegal immigrants joined the U.S. forces in the first place if they could not give proof of citizenship?  There are thousands of foreigners in the United States under legal Visas, studying and working to better themselves or their families.  Why, then, are we allowing illegal immigrants, who have taken short-cuts, to become full-fledged citizens while those who have gone through proper channels of immigration are left in the bureaucratic limbo of the immigration services?

How were they allowed to study in American schools without a proper visa?  I know, for certain, that I would not be allowed to even enter China, let alone study there, without a current, validated visa. So, why are we tolerating illegal immigrants in our own universities or military?

One last question poses itself:  why are we including the DREAM Act in the defense authorization bill and how does naturalizing illegal immigrants improve U.S. national security?

For the sake of national security and defense, please pass a bill that actually addresses national security and defense issues.



You can’t have your gulf and drill it too.
Debris and oil from the Deepwater Horizon dril...

Image via Wikipedia

The recent Deepwater Horizon spill was a horrible mess.  Oil gushed out of a broken pipe deep in the Gulf of Mexico while BP and the US government struggled to stop the flow and clean up the spill.

The chaos that the spill caused in Washington led to very abrupt halting of deep water drilling in the gulf.  The regulators, however, let their caution spill over into other areas as well.  According to the Associated Press, “the pace at which regulators grant drilling permits in water less than 500 feet deep has slowed sharply this summer … just four out of 10 shallow-water drilling applications have been approved from June through August; 15 applications were sought and approved in the same period last year.”

According to Reuters, the Obama administration is most likely going to let the drilling ban expire.  “Michael Bromwich, head of Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, said he has been impressed with strides the oil and gas industry has made on spill response and containment since the drilling ban was imposed,” Reuters reported today.

After years of loose regulation, do they really think they can fix all the problems and safety hazards in five months?  After such a strict summer why, suddenly, are they seeming to trust the oil industry again?  It seems that regulators want to have their cake and eat it too.  You must accept some risk if you want the private sector to succeed.  An over-regulated or over-taxed private sector simply kills jobs and the economy.  But, when you let corporations have a little room to move, you may have an explosion, or a faulty part, or some other issue.

Which is worse, Washington, a failing economy and a high unemployment rate or a free market where there is inherent risk? I think the American people will answer that question in November.

The Obama administration needs to find a balance of regulation and taxation.  Enough so that they protect our wellbeing and our environment, but not so much so that they hinder our freedom, economic growth, and prosperity.

Sources:
Associated Press
Reuters



November 2010: A Cup of Tea?
September 13, 2010, 9:08 PM
Filed under: Politics | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
Protesters walking down Pennsylvania Avenue du...

Image via Wikipedia

It has become clear that, no matter which party you ascribe to, when something popular in the political world comes along, everyone jumps on board to try to get votes.

Bring out the Tea Party.  When it first arrived on the political scene as a response to the ‘tyranny’ of the Obama administration, it wasn’t seen as much more than a bunch of unorganized people gathering in the streets dressed as revolutionary-era orators and soldiers. They shouted about tyranny and taxes, unfair majorities, and abundant wastes of tax-payer dollars by the federal government.  Most importantly, the pundits and politicians didn’t seem to take them seriously.

Flash forward a year to fall of 2010.  The mid-term elections are upon us and it seems that the only thing people can talk about is the Tea Party.  They have suddenly, and quite unexpectedly, become the strongest movement in this election.  Obama is trying to assuage the largest part of the Tea Party, the middle class, by proposing to extend what Marlene Y. Satter describes as “Bush-era tax cuts for those making under $200,000 (individuals)/$250,000 (families), while allowing the tax cuts for those in higher income brackets to expire at the end of the year.”

The GOP seems to see right through the gimmick, however, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) said that a Republican vote for this tax increase for the wealthy was out of the question.  Additionally, The Washington Post reports that “House Democrats remain deeply divided over the issue, with a raft of vulnerable Democrats signalling growing resistance to raising taxes in an election year.” So, the president’s last-minute attempt to win some Tea Party votes appears more transparent than he promised his presidency would be.

It is obvious from the above that both sides are trying to use the latest political fad to their advantage this fall.  We will have to wait and see whether the most recent political movement has the power to drastically change congress, although I doubt it will be the landslide many pundits are predicting.

Sources:
The Washington Post
Investment Advisor



New to the job.
The White House (Washington DC)

Image by ~MVI~ (back to churches and noodles) via Flickr

My first week in Washington, DC has opened my eyes to what most refer to as “the real world”.  The professionals in this city are just that: professional.  I have spoken with many interesting people in my first week here and have learned a great deal about a variety of topics.  I learned about city life, job hunting, networking, legislating, lobbying, and more.

The first thing I was met with when I arrived, and am constantly reminded of, are the constraints and restrictions that come with both renting and apartment and living in the city.  Some restrictions are written down, such as how many people are allowed in a room or not being able to consume food and drink on the Metro.  Other rules, perhaps the more important ones, aren’t written at all.  These are the unspoken rituals; consisting of unwritten codes of conduct, constraints, rules, and schedules of Washingtonian life.  One that I knew before from my many visits to this city is the walk left, stand right escalator rule.  This is possibly the most important rule to know when commuting or traveling in DC.  After that, important, unspoken rules include: dress nicely at all times (this is a professional city, after all), walk quickly wherever you go (preferably with a cup of coffee in one hand and a briefcase in the other), don’t wait for the walk/stop sign to change before walking, don’t walk in the middle of the sidewalk, and always have business cards at the ready.

My internship is very interesting.  I intern for The Potomac Advocates, a lobbying firm in Washington, DC for DoD and Homeland Security related fields.  I do a good bit of research in these fields as well as preparing presentations, reports, and distributing pamphlets for lobbying purposes.  It is very challenging at times, and I learn something every day.  I hope the rest of my internship is as exciting and challenging as I hope it will be.




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