The Old White Man Vote is Secure

March 6, 2008 at 2:26 pm (feminism, politics, presidental race)

I was thinking a little more about my last post – how there are women in this country that don’t agree that a woman should be president because they should instead by subservient to men.  It turns out that it probably doesn’t matter all that much politically.  These women most likely hold these 18th century views due to religious beliefs (what else would inspire such self-hatred?) and would never vote for a Democrat anyway.  I highly doubt that I will see anyone other than an old white man running on the Republican ticket in my lifetime.  I’ll be the first to admit that a year or more ago, I questioned whether the U.S. population could rally behind either a woman or an African-American nominee.  I am ecstatic that I was wrong.  If the right wing fundies want to complain about a woman getting out of the kitchen and running for president, then let them.  They were always going to vote for the old white guy on the GOP ticket anyway.

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Bush Going for Broke?

November 3, 2007 at 6:38 pm (George W. Bush, opinions, politics)

President Bush strikes me as being the type of person keen on leaving a legacy behind. He is clearly arrogant, stubborn and affluent (affluent in the kind of way that you knew he grew up with everything handed to him and can’t begin to identify with the working class), all qualities that I think would lead to a self-aggrandizing individual. So what legacy is Bush going to leave behind, what are his options at this point? I can say assuredly and in an un-biased way that he will go down in American history as one of our least intelligent and nationally damaging presidents. So pretty much anything positive is out the window. Will he be known for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? Of course. Will he be remembered for fostering a weakened economy and one of the biggest deficits in history? Yes. Will he be regarded as having incredibly poor judgement in regards to appointees (Meyers, Gonzales, M. Brown, many more) and for being guided by some of the most diabolical war mongers of our time? Certainly. But those things are out of his control at this point. The question is, what is Bush actively doing to cement his place in history?

In my opinion, he is going for broke as the least popular president in United States history. Follow along with me here, I think I have good evidence for this. Until the end of his 7th year in office, he had only used vetoes twice (against evil stem cell research). Now, he seems to be flying fast and loose with the veto power. First, it was the SCHIP expansion bill. This bill had popular bipartisan support (although not enough to override the veto) and would have continued to provide under-privileged children with health insurance. Bush cited the reason for vetoing this bill as that he thought the expansion was too inclusive and that middle class people that could afford private health insurance would line up for government hand outs. Right, because we all know that if you can afford private health insurance, you’d much prefer to have your child on government sponsored insurance with all the beurocratic fun that goes with it. Bush has also promised to veto any future SCHIP bill that includes expanded funding or coverage, even though the current funding won’t even cover those children already enrolled in SCHIP.

Second, he just recently used another veto to override a bill that would help rebuild Hurricane Katrina ravaged areas of the Gulf Coast as well as restoring wetlands and preventing future flooding. Another smooth move, because if there’s anything the citizens of this country hate more than sick kids, its hurricane survivors.

And here, for everyone to read, I am making a prediction that I really hope is proven wrong. I am predicting the next veto item (that is if SCHIP doesn’t come up again first). As many of you may know, Congress “unintentionally” revoked funding that supplements the cost of birth control for low income clinics and colleges while passing the Deficit Reduction Act last January. The consequence of this is that poor students like myself will now have to pay more than double the previous amount for birth control pills (about $50/month). Because providing health care and welfare for pregnant women and unplanned children will be much more cost effective. Anyway, the Democrats in Congress are attempting to rectify the situation by passing the Prevention through Affordable Access Act. Because I have the utmost faith in President Bush to screw over any member of the poor or working class, I fully predict that he will veto this, citing money (even though it won’t cost tax-payers anything) and his Christian values, always a good fall-back excuse.

The Daily Kos published a map of the United States with states ranked by Bush’s approval rating. Finally, Utah and Idaho have hit 50% or lower. Quite a feat for a good Christian conservative like Bush. His current approval rating is running from 29-36%, depending on what poll you believe. So come on, W. You can do better than that. Instead of just taking away their health insurance, you could actually just start punching kids in the face. Direct, to the point and it’ll get the job done for sure.

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Electability

October 6, 2007 at 9:20 pm (Current Events, politics, presidental race)

I hate the word Electability. It is being used so much during this current presidential race and I really just despise everything about the idea of it. Electability is obviously not a real word but I think we can all gather what it means. The media and candidates alike have latched on to the idea of electability to tell us, as citizens and as voters, who we should vote for, because they are the most likely person to be voted for. Follow my logic? Neither did I, because its ridiculous. This is being thrown around a lot, especially in the current race, because there are somewhat “non-traditional” contenders in the race, i.e. non-white and non-male.

The reason that I think the idea of electability is so insidious is that it heavily influences voters. For instance, Rudy Giuliani has let it be known, by polling for his electability, that if (and its assumed that she will be, I guess because she’s so darned electable) Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee, he would be the GOP candidate most likely to win. I’m sorry, aren’t actual elections supposed to decide things like that? So then American voters, like the sheep many of them are, are expected to vote for the candidate that they are expected to elect. This circular logic has the potential of completely skewing elections, which is of course the entire point of it.

No individuals I know would avoid voting for a candidate due to their race or gender, however, many individuals I know (myself included) have said that they don’t think the “American people” would elect a black candidate, or a woman, or any other non-white male.  So where’s the gap? Where’s the disconnect? I believe that the fault lies with the pundits and talking heads and poll after poll telling us who the “American people” will elect.  We ARE the American people, and we can elect whoever we damn well please, whether its a woman, an African American, a Hispanic, a Caucasian, a Muslim, a homosexual, an atheist.  A couple months ago, NYTexan on BlueBloggin wrote about the presidential primaries, and why it is our chance to really be heard and make our opinions be heard loud and clear through the electoral process.  It is drilled into our heads to only vote for people that could be “real contenders”, causing everyone to vote for the same old generic, main-stream candidate time after time.  We need to get that rhetoric out of our heads.  It is only true if we buy into it.

Don’t let them use the herd mentality to influence our votes.  Look where it has gotten us so far.

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The Lost Spirit of the GI Bill

September 28, 2007 at 1:56 am (opinions, politics)

No “I was to busy to blog” excuses here for my latest hiatus. I actually got away from Arizona for a short few days to be with my fiance, my family and my own thoughts for a change.

Thinking through the latest news items which have peeked my interest, I keep coming back to one that NPR has covered for the past two mornings. The GI Bill, discussed in audio format from September 26 and September 27. I had given this little, well, no thought before these stories, but its an important issue to consider. Everyone says, “I may hate the war, but we need to support our troops” – but what exactly does it mean to support our troops? I think that it’d be quite easy to argue that our government is not doing anything close to what they should be doing to support our troops and veterans.

The GI Bill was enacted in 1944 to provide troops returning from WWII with and opportunity for an excellent and otherwise unattainable education. It is one of our Army’s strongest recruiting tools, as it promises money for education as well as living expenses while veterans search for civilian jobs. Just 8 years after it was enacted, the GI Bill was changed so that it no longer directly paid Universities for fees and tuition. Instead, vets were given $110/month (~$825 today) on which to live, and pay for tuition, fees and books. By the time Korean War vets were coming home, the basic principles of the bill were already being eroded. Throughout the 1970’s, the stipend was increased to $311/month (~$1125 today), encouraging more vets to pursue college degrees. As of 2007, vets are paid $1101/month to put towards education. As the NPR stories point out, this amount doesn’t touch a private school education, does not cover room/board at a public university, but just covers an education from community college. Not to belittle community colleges, they are certainly a great option for many students and many careers, but this does not comply with the original spirit of the GI Bill.

Veterans returning from WWII had the option to go to any college to which they were accepted, from community college to Harvard. It is on the shoulders of these men and women that the middle class was largely built. Before the GI Bill, higher education was quite uncommon and almost exclusively for the rich. NPR emphasizes how veterans who took advantage of this education opportunity went on to be our senators, presidents, business icons and Nobel prize winners. There is good reason to call them “the greatest generation”.

It is shameful that our returning veterans, who put their lives on the line just as much as any previous veteran, are not given the same critical and deserved chance at education. Obviously I am not discussing other issues that need immediate attention like the physical and mental health care for vets. It is time for our government to stop with the irrefutable and empty rhetoric about supporting our troops. They need to take action to bolster and revitalize the GI Bill.

Update:  I saw a news story yesterday about the Minnesota National Guard, aka the Red Bulls.  Many members of this group were ordered to serve 729 or fewer days.  This is significant because they are required to serve 730 days to receive GI bill benefits, including the education benefits.  Talk about losing the spirit of the GI Bill.  They seem to be intentionally screwing these brave men and women out of their earned and deserved education.  Disgusting.

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A Farewell to Rove

September 19, 2007 at 4:00 pm (Current Events, politics, The Atlantic Monthly)

I have unfortunately been too busy to read any books lately, but in the little snatches of time I can steal throughout the day I grab my new favorite short-term reading source:  “The Atlantic Monthly”.  I’ve been eying this great magazine for a while now and a few months ago I gave myself the present of the subscription.  The articles are long, but well written and very in depth.  I find that I’m learning a lot about very diverse subjects that I normally wouldn’t seek out information on.  The September issue focuses a lot on the failed Bush administration – “failed” is their word, not mine (although I agree).  It had a feature article on Karl Rove, a man that I have long disliked, but really didn’t know a lot about.  So in honor – or celebration – of his departure from the White House, here is what I learned about “The Architect” from the wonderful article, “The Rove Presidency” written by Joshua Green:

  • He is not a college graduate.  He attended the University of Utah for a very short time before quitting to take a job with the College Republicans (apparently one needs not be in college to belong), he was definitely ambitious for a career in politics from the beginning.  So here we have a college drop-out as one of Bush’s top advisers.  No one would argue that Rove isn’t intelligent, but he is self-educated, and with self-education you can focus on only what you want to learn and filter out the rest.  Certainly not a well-rounded or complete education.
  • His grand plan for taking back the government by the Republicans was to have a candidate (GWB) run on platforms that would attract a wider variety of voters.  A prime example of this is Bush’s (Rove’s) stand on immigration.  Bush is widely criticized by the GOP for his views and plans regarding immigration, but if you think about it, those policies did attract a lot of immigrant/Latino voters for both of his elections.
  • He came to the campaign and to the White House with 5 major ideas, and thankfully they were not all successful.  (1) Education standards, i.e. “No Child Left Behind” – this was the first policy passed, although its success is highly questionable and it may not be renewed.  (2) Passing “faith-based initiatives” to direct government money to religious organizations – isn’t this patently unconstitutional?  Although very typical of our evangelical executive branch.  (3)  Privatize Social Security – this was his pet project, and we all know that it went over like a lead balloon, thank god.  (4) Private health-savings accounts, instead of Medicare – again, like privatizing social security, the average citizen should not be held responsible for managing their own retirement or health insurance.  Its risky and doomed for failure.  (5) Reform immigration laws to appeal to the growing Hispanic population.  Also another raging success.  This was in such conflict with the GOP base that it really never stood a chance, although such blatant pandering to Hispanics is quite a bold choice.
  • President William McKinley is his hero.  The GOP really took hold during and after McKinley’s presidency, and it is this series of events that Rove has tried to emulate.
  • Pretty much everyone on Capital Hills, GOP and Dems alike, think he’s an uppity asshole.  The author of the article interviewed Republicans and Democrats that said he bullies our elected representatives around like he is actually in higher standing than them, even though, until just a couple years ago, he had no official title in the White House.  He is compared unfavorably to the “Big, booming voice of Oz”.  He and Bush are said to be arrogant and jerky to most people around them, which is one of the main reasons why no one would work with them on getting the majority of his 5 policies passed.  Bush worked cooperatively on with Dems. on the “No child left behind” act, but inexplicably abandoned that cooperative nature for later policies.  Maybe after 9/11 he had the Dems cowed for so long he thought it was no longer necessary.

Granted the article is obviously written with a bias against the Bush administration, but frankly, its hard to write about it without a bias these days.

I have been thoroughly enjoying all of these articles.  In the same magazine there was a great one written about Bush’s former lead speech-writing, Michael Gerson, another ego maniacal evangelical Christian.  That article was actually written by another Bush speech writer, Matthew Scully, so the perspective on the situation was quite interesting.

So a final farewell to Rove, you certainly won’t be missed by me and my fellow liberals.  However, I’m sure your words and wisdom will never be far from our President’s mind, even while you are “spending quality time” with your family in Texas.

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All Kansans Aren’t Idiotic Hicks, Just The Ones That Make The News

September 12, 2007 at 3:56 pm (Current Events, Kansas, politics)

Thank you G for sending me this article and making me proud all over again for being a Kansan!!

 

Horrible antics of college Republicans.

 

 

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Politics and Personality

September 12, 2007 at 3:30 pm (opinions, politics)

I have often wondered how relationships can survive in which one person is a conservative and the other a liberal.  Oh sure, it makes a cute movie, but in real life, how would this actually work?  I think it could only be possible if both people in the relationship were a bit apathetic or not very passionate about the issues.  On a funny personal note, the man I am engaged to nearly cut our relationship off before the first date because I USED to identify as Republican (eww, I feel dirty even saying it) – mainly because that’s how my parents identified (pre-Bush, that is).  But then G said that he kept talking with me and realized I was liberal after all, I just didn’t know it yet!  I’m glad he saw through the ruse.  But it is an important distinction when getting involved with a potential partner.  It seems to me that one’s personality, outlook on life and political affiliations are so integrated that I just don’t see how two people could have a successful relationship when they differ on so many fundamental levels.

Well, my pet theory was bolstered thanks to G, who alerted me to a recent study done which highlights some of the behavioral/psychological differences between liberals and conservatives.  There are actually a couple of studies out there, but I thought this was a really nice and thorough one if anyone is interested.  I will give some of the highlights which I found interesting.  And to give full credit where it is due, I originally linked to it from another blog which published a short piece on it as well.

I’ll just bullet point a few of the key differences between conservatives and liberals listed from the article, and I will do my best to write all traits in a non-biased manner.  For fun, I will put in bold the personality traits which I identify with.  (some of the following are direct quotes)

Liberals:

  • Their homes are messier, have more clutter, and more color
  • Display more flags, maps and travel documents in their home
  • Have lots of books, and books on a wide variety of topics.
  • Enjoy classical music and jazz
  • Optimistic
  • Enjoy abstract art
  • Enjoy romantic comedies (men)
  • Enjoy reading, writing poetry, writing in journals, playing musical instruments and acting
  • Individuals who grow up to be liberal at age 23 were described as having the following types of personalities as children:  energetic, impulsive, self-reliant and resilient.  They formed close bonds with peers.
  • Intellectually curious
  • Excitement-seeking
  • Creative
  • Craving for stimulation in areas of travel, color, art, music, and literature
  • “[M]ore likely to see gray areas and reconcile seemingly conflicting information”
  • Have more education, with the exception of advanced degrees in business, medicine and law.  With the latter degrees, financial security commonly leads to conservative leanings.
  • People who study abroad are more liberal.

Conservatives:

  • Homes are neater, well organized and well lit
  • Enjoy country music
  • Religious
  • Prefer traditional entertainment like TV and talk-radio (men)
  • Individuals who grow up to be conservative at age 23 were described as having the following types of personalities as children:  easily victimized and offended, rigid, inhibited, indecisive and fearful
  • Have little tolerance for ambiguity.  Tend to see things as black and white.
  • Are comforted by having a strong leader.

The article goes into a post 9/11 shift towards conservativism, and why/how this is guided by fear and thoughts of death.  I won’t get into that hear, but it is worth reading.

It is truly interesting to me that all of these personality traits can be correlated with political affiliation, and it underscores my belief that our politics are not just about who we vote for.  How we identify politically is determined by how we view the world, what we think is right and wrong, and how we think are the best ways to achieve such goals.  It is no wonder that not only our partners, but also our close friends and the people we work with best tend to be of similar political leanings (those are only my own personal observations).  These beliefs run much deeper than red vs. blue, they are indeed indicative of who we are on the whole.

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Thompson: A Real Revolutionary

September 9, 2007 at 9:25 pm (feminism, opinions, politics, presidental race, rants)

Gee, I’m so excited that Fred Thompson decided to grace the presidential candidate pool with his presence.  He’s a real breath of fresh air among all the other crotchety old white men running on the Republican ticket.  He also has ground breaking views on all of the social issues dominating headlines these days (and yes I did get this link from Feministing).  This makes me want to vomit:

Thompson praised Bush’s performance on Iraq, the economy and Social Security. While criticizing the president for presiding over “too much spending” at the federal level, he said he backed Bush’s efforts to try to overhaul Social Security with private investment accounts. He also praised Bush for “doing a good job” on the economy and said, “I give him credit for the Supreme Court nominations that he’s made.”

Yea, go Bushie for nominating two more conservative white men to the Supreme Court, who needs diversity?  Its only the group of people that determines most of the rules by which ALL Americans live by.

The other part of this that disturbs me pertains to the abortion rhetoric.

Don’t punish women who have abortions,” presidential hopeful Fred Thompson says. Punish the doctors who perform them.

This is a point on which I have engaged in discussions on other blogs, but not here that I remember.  It is the idea that an abortion is something that is done TO a woman, not an informed decision that SHE makes.  Not that I agree at all that anyone should be punished for the practice of abortions.  I just don’t understand why only the doctor is held responsible and not the person that chose to go to the clinic.  This is so patriarchal and condescending.  Treating the woman as if she is a helpless victim of abortion.  ‘Gee, I just stumbled into this clinic and, wait – what is that evil doctor doing to me?????’   I guess, given that he’s about 120 years old, Thompson still believes that it is our “wandering uterus” which makes us so crazy.  Clearly we don’t possess the intellect or logic to determine how to manage our own bodies.  Which is why its a good thing that President Dumb Shit had the presence of mind to only put more men on the Supreme Court.

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News of the Week

September 2, 2007 at 12:30 am (Current Events, opinions, politics)

We all knew it couldn’t last.  And in Iowa of all places!  After a brief legalization of gay marriage in Iowa, it was taken away, but not before 20 couples could get their marriage licenses!  Now of course Iowa will have to add a constitutional amendment to guarantee that something so heinous never ever happens again.  So sad.

And everyone’s favorite Fox “news” analyst turned Press Secretary, Tony Snow, is leaving his post, apparently because he’s one step up from having to pan-handle for his chemo.  Are we really supposed to believe, or find it reasonable, that he left his White House job because $170,000 is not enough for him and his to live on?

Mr. Snow said. “I’ve told people when my money runs out, then I’ve got to go.”

This I just do not understand.  Either he is leaving for completely different reasons (my guess) or this was the best of the lies they could come up with.  How can someone say with a straight face that $170K a year is not enough to live on when the overwhelming majority of Americans survives on much, much less.  What evil arrogance this is.  It is my personal interpretation that he may have mounting medical bills due to his extended battle with colon cancer that his insurance has been unable or unwilling to cover.  Someone working for our government in a public and powerful position isn’t able to support both his family and extensive medical treatment on the generous salary of $170K.  Isn’t irony a cruel mistress?  I know this is only my guess at the real reason, but its still better than the reason we are supposed to choke down.

And of course there’s the latest train-wreck of a sex scandal that has rocked Washington D.C.  I won’t even touch that one because really there is nothing new to say and I honestly don’t know what to believe in this case.

However, just because I can’t let it go without saying anything…I will say that overall, it is incredibly sad that homosexuals aren’t able to be both openly gay and openly Republican.  Really, its actually the case that few politicians on either side of the aisle are open about homosexuality.  Statistically one in ten are gay, so that would mean 10 senators and about 43 representatives.  And we are supposed to believe that only 3 actually are (Rep. Barney Frank D-MA, Rep. Jim Kolbe R-AZ, Rep. Tammy Baldwin D-WI)?  That math certainly does not add up.  And these representatives aren’t even all currently serving.  (On a side note, Kolbe just happens to have been the representative from my own district until last year, and I didn’t even know he was gay!  You learn something new every day!)

Now I didn’t do an exhaustive search on openly gay Congress people, and I didn’t include all of the former openly gay Representatives.  So if you’re saying, well duh, there’s also so and so, please correct me!

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Research Funding – a personal issue

August 28, 2007 at 2:53 am (grad school, politics, science)

With this post is about something near and dear to my heart, but I have discovered that too few people know about this issue (and to all my scientist friends that read this, sorry to rehash the same rant, but not everyone is in the trenches with us!).  I wanted to talk about the political issue that directly impacts my life:  federal research funding.  Wow, doesn’t that just grab you and make you want to keep reading?  I know it sounds a little dull, and it certainly doesn’t have the pizazz that topics like gay marriage and abortion do, but it is an issue that is critical to the well-being of our society and our nation, and people need to know what’s going on.

A little bit of background about myself, I am a grad student in a lab which does colon cancer research.  Oh yes, its just as glamorous as it sounds.  We are literally “curing cancer”- to some degree anyway.  People are awfully impressed when they hear this, although to me its just a job like any other.  What many people don’t realize is that federal funding for research like mine and research in general has been absolutely in the toilet for the last few years.  This coincides with, ummmmm, oh yea, that money black-hole on the other side of the world.  I won’t even say it.  Now I realize that “defending our country” (if that’s what you want to call it) is important, but if you really want to play the numbers game, lets look at how many people die of cancer, heart disease and diabetes (just to name 3) compared to how many people die in terrorist attacks.  Not to say that any one loss is less tragic than the other, but I think we’ve gotten our priorities massively screwed up here.

Ask any researcher and they will tell you that the situation is dire.  NIH supported grants have become so competitive that only around 10% of submitted grants are even funded.  That means that 9 out of 10 grants are rejected.  9 out of 10 researchers have to desperately find other means to keep their labs afloat during these dark times.  9 out of 10 potentially life-saving or scientific-advancing projects are not being carried out.  And when the grants are funded (as one of ours thankfully was recently) the amount awarded to the lab is often drastically below the amount promised or requested.  As my adviser always tells us, funding situations like this are cyclical, he rode out a similar one in the late 1980’s.  Hmm, would that mean that whenever a Bush is in the White House we’re going to have to pinch research pennies?

Now I could make my point all day long in the context of how this hurts cancer patients and families of loved ones suffering from diabetes or heart disease, but I will make another argument.  If the United States wants to stay in the forefront of scientific research, this situation needs to change, and fast.  Starting with our severely declining educational standing in the world, we are well on our way to losing our reputation for being at the leading edge of research and discovery.  The top scientific minds will start to look elsewhere, as they already do if stem-cell research is their area of study.

Research can never be put on the back burner.  As diseases and the bacteria and viruses that cause disease evolve, so must our knowledge on how to treat them.  Its a daunting task to keep up with the ever elusive cancer cell on a good day, but take away our labor force and supply money?  Good luck.  I say this now because it will be another key issue to examine when looking at which political candidates to support.  I’m sure a lot of these issues will be moot point whenever the money-sucking black-hole goes away.  We can hope anyway.

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