Tea Time

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The rally from afar

I didn’t set out to write a partisan attack on a group of people.  As I walked to downtown Georgetown (so no one would see the “Bill White for Texas” bumper sticker prominently displayed on my car) I was genuinely interested in seeing a Tea Party rally firsthand.   I’ve seen the footage from the main-stream media that focused on bigots and idiots at rallies, but I’ve always hoped that this wasn’t the vast majority of tea-partiers.  After spending two hours in the on-again off-again rain with the tea-partiers, I’ve reached a very saddening conclusion: anger and fear have replaced intelligent discourse in America.  Maybe uncivil and threatening communication has always been the norm in this country, but after seeing the Tea Party firsthand, I have to agree with them on one point: “America is headed down the wrong path,” but it’s not the path of radical socialism. If we continue on our current trend, rational discourse will soon be a thing of the past.  One of the many speakers lamented the fact that the Tea Parties have been characterized as a group of “dumb, racist homophobes.”  While the members I interviewed were not blatantly dumb, racist, or homophobic, there were many things they said that skirted dangerously close to crossing the line.

For starters, I wouldn’t necessarily call the tea partiers dumb, but I would call them horribly misinformed.  I created an informal survey and posed three questions to various people at the rally.  Their answers didn’t inspire confidence.  The first question was “Compared to other nations, do you think that the US has a low tax rate, average tax rate, or a high tax rate?”  25% of respondents accurately said that the United States has a lower tax rate compared to other countries.  Another 12% said that the US has an average tax rate while 63% said that America has a high tax rate compared to other countries.  The tea partiers did a much better job answering the second question which asked them to identify Texas’ tax rate compared to other states.  88% correctly said that Texas has a lower tax rate compared to other states.  The remaining 12% thought it was either average or above-average.  The final question threw them for a loop.  “Since President Obama has been in office, do you think that taxes have been lowered, have stayed the same, or have been raised?”  A whopping 81% thought that Obama raised taxes.  This follows a national trend.  I don’t want to judge an entire group of people based on informal survey results, but the speakers at the rally continued to bring up the oppressive taxes.  Official polling data does indicate that large groups of people still incorrectly believe that President Obama has raised taxes and I saw that the tea partiers loved to cheer and jeer at any mention of taxes.  I can’t call them dumb, but they certainly don’t inspire any sort of confidence in me.

The tea partiers also weren’t racist…at least on the surface.  Instead, I’d characterize them as ignorant.  Stopping illegal immigration was an important topic of discussion for the tea-partiers.  Racism didn’t appear to take a major role at the rally, but under the surface things were murky.  There were loud cheers for the volunteers who patrolled our southern border.  While I expected that there would be support for these militias, I was taken-aback by the thunderous applause when one of the speakers valiantly proclaimed that the State language should be English.  A sentence that caught me off guard was when a speaker launched into an attack on President Obama’s character.  He asked the crowd if they thought Obama measured up to President Washington.  After an overwhelming “no,” he asked “Can you imagine Obama rowing across the Delaware?”  Clearly had Obama been alive back-then, he most likely wouldn’t have been one of the people to row across the Delaware because most likely would have been a slave.  This directly lead to a discussion about how the United States was conceived on freedom and how we don’t have that freedom anymore.  Yes, America was founded on freedom, but if you asked anyone who wasn’t a white-male who owned property they’d tell you a different story.  Even scarier was the speaker’s defiant ending when he bravely proclaimed that the 14th Amendment should be repealed.  Overtly racist?  No.  Dangerously close to the line?  Yes.

Homophobia was a little harder to see.  Homosexuality was only mentioned by one speaker during her speech about rampant liberalism in Texas’ schools.  She was very coy over the upcoming “national day of silence for gay-rights” that would occur in schools.  The speaker said she doesn’t support bullying, but she was less enthusiastic about the silence of students when they “should be talking and learning.”  Based on her earlier statements about abortion, I find it hard to believe that she’d have a problem with a national day of silence if it were for abortion.  Based on this one event I can’t judge.

Two Southwestern students mocking the Tea Partiers

Southwestern students attempted a counter-protest

There were other things that bothered me about the rally.  One speaker looked-out at the crowd and said that he saw “every American.”  Last I checked, “every American” isn’t over 45 and white.  To be fair, I did spot two Hispanics in the crowd.  However, I could see no other minorities present.  The opening speaker started with a pledge to the flag and commented that the tea-party is different from “lefty loony flag-burners.”  In fact, the theme of patriotism was prevalent through the entire rally.  The tea partiers were constantly called “patriotic Americans” or “brave patriots.”  It was as-if you couldn’t be American without being a member of the tea-party.  One speaker even introduced herself as “an unapologetic American citizen.”  I have no issues in having ideological differences with people, but no ideology has a monopoly in being a true patriot.  One of my very favorite clips from The Daily Show with Jon Stewart tackles the issues of patriotism and ideology. 

One speaker in particular stood-out to me.  She very well could have been a Sarah Palin impersonator, but she wasn’t.  She just happened to dress like her, share the same policy views, and talk like her.  From the glasses to the “you betcha,” she caught my attention.  One claim she made was that the Republican Party has always been the party of equality, from freeing the slaves to giving women the right to vote.  Armed with the knowledge that President Johnson (a Democrat) helped to create the Great Society and President Wilson (another Democrat) was President when women’s suffrage was achieved, I confronted Sarah Palin 2.0.  I was genuinely impressed; she said that while Johnson and Wilson were Democrats, Congress had vast Republican majorities during the time they were in office.  I conceded that I hadn’t thought of that and thanked her for bringing up an interesting point.  After some fact-checking, I’ve re-evaluated her claims.  President Lincoln and a Republican Congress freed the slaves.  Palin 2.0: one, Ethan: zero.  The Congress that approved the 19th Amendment (granting women the right to vote) did indeed have a Republican majority, but congress failed to have the votes to pass it until President Wilson called a special session and pleaded for Congress to approve the legislation.  We’ll call this one a tie.  Palin 2.0: one-and-a-half, Ethan: one-half.  Unfortunately for Palin 2.0, LBJ had a large Democratic majority in Congress to approve his bills.  Palin 2.0: one-and-a-half, Ethan: one-and-a-half.  Not too shabby.

Until my confrontation with Palin 2.0, I made sure to blend in with the crowd.  I stayed put when a group of Southwestern students came to counter-protest.  As the tea partiers reacted it became clear they were reacting less to the presence of a counter-protest, but to the fact that they were college students.  One man loudly asked “You think they’ve ever had a job?”  The hostility didn’t end when the counter-protesters went home.  Upon introducing myself as a Southwestern student, one person said, “I’m sorry.”  I was completely taken aback but kept my composure.  He went on to talk about how he would “hate to be my age in this era.”  When framed as a generational issue, the Tea Party makes a little more sense to me.  The largely over 40 crowd isn’t taking kindly to the changes they are seeing in society.  Obama won 2/3rds of the youth vote, young people are more likely to support same-sex marriage, and our numbers continue to grow.  Demographics are not in the Tea Party’s favor.  As more young people hit 18 years of age, it’s clear to see who will have the advantage in a decade.

Conservatism: Christianity

This sign scared me the most

Everyone has a right to their own opinions, but no one has a right to their own facts.  The tea partiers truly believe that our president is a Socialist bent on creating some-sort of utopia where everyone is equally miserable.  How this differs from the Tea Party’s own vision of an America where everyone speaks English and no one is gay is beyond me.  I left the rally feeling depressed.  These were genuinely good people who just happened to listen to a little too much Glenn Beck.  In the end, I’m not discouraged.  Even if my candidates lose in 2010, that won’t stop me from voting again in 2012.  My persistence in voting for what I believe is my way of fighting back.  Those of us who once were marginalized are now demanding our rights and creating thoughtful change.  This is a new America, and try as they may, the Tea Partiers will not be successful in returning this country to a time when only white Christian males were the only ones with power.

Non-partisan Corruption

The past week has been a bad one of congressional Democrats.  Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) and Rep. Eric Massa (D-NY)

Charles Rangel enjoying his Dominican Villa.

Charles Rangel enjoying his Dominican Villa.

 have been hit by ethical scandals.  Rangel was the chair of the House Ways and Means Committee (an extremely powerful position) until coming under investigation for several ethics violations.  Of the list of violations, my favorite has to be the $10,800 he owed in back-taxes for his Dominican Villa.  And if that wasn’t enough, we have pictures. 

Rangel would be everywhere if it wasn’t for Eric Massa.  When Massa resigned earlier this week, he said it was because of his cancer and believed that the calls for his resignation were because of his vote against the health-care bill and not the investigation into claims that he harassed aides.  As it turns out, Massa has a history of harassment that began with his military service.  His resignation has empowered other victims to step-forward and tell their tale.  While I firmly believe that the push for his resignation was primarily based on his ethic concerns, I don’t doubt that the upcoming vote on the health-care bill played a role in pushing for his resignation.  Nancy Pelosi has lost votes in favor of the bill due to death and resignation, having Massa gone makes things easier for her as she negotiates for votes.

One blogger applauded Massa’s scandal and chastised the net-roots campaign that helped him to get elected back in 2006.  This anonymous blogger proudly proclaimed that liberals were getting what they deserved, and was clearly enjoying the situation.  Watching an opponent going-down in flames over ethical issues sure is fun to watch, but it isn’t exactly something new.  Scandals are non-partisan.

This past summer was not a good one for Republicans.  They had to watch as both Senator John Ensign (R-NV) and Governor Mark Sanford (R-SC) became embroiled in sex-scandals.  Both Ensign and Sanford had campaigned on a social conservative platform and campaigned on “family values.”  To make matters even worse the two were seen as potential Republican nominees for President in 2012.  That stings.  To make matters worse, new e-mails have emerged that might spell trouble for Ensign.  These e-mails show that Ensign might have tried to send contracts to his mistress’ husband.  If these claims are confirmed then you can bet that Rangel and Massa will have some bipartisan company on the news.

When it comes right down to it, the ethical problems plaguing Democrats shouldn’t be blamed on liberals or internet activists but on the politician in question.  Liberals didn’t make Eric Massa molest male staffers no more than conservatives made Mark Sanford cheat on his wife.  For every John Edwards there is a Larry Craig.  Corruption and sleazebaggery didn’t emerge when the Democrats won in 2006, it has always been there.  Ethical violations don’t see party lines.

Edit: Now it looks like Scott Brown might have some problems to deal with: http://politicalwire.com/archives/2010/03/11/brown_accused_of_harassment_in_1998.html

Post-election Letdown

I, like other election junkies, was somewhat disappointed in the results of last Tuesday’s primaries here in Texas.  The election was billed as the battle for the heart and soul of the Republican Party and was supposed to be the clash of the titans with Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson taking on Governor Rick Perry.  The ads featured on TV were blistering.  Hutchinson labeled Perry as a hyper-partisan and Perry responded by calling her a Washington insider.  In an election year that will be bad for incumbent Governors, Rick Perry was supposed to crash and burn in a fiery defeat.  Polls from as recent as September of 2009 showed Hutchinson winning the election.  Six months later and she ended up being the one who was destroyed.

On the other side of the isle, Bill White easily won the nomination to be the Democrats’ nominee for Governor.  He is the best candidate the Democrats have fielded since Governor Ann Richards lost to Dubya in 1994.   The national wave in 2010 is likely to favor Republicans, but should Rick Perry breath easy?  I don’t think so.

While Perry won 51.1% of the votes in the primary, this also means that 48.9% of the votes were cast against him.  After 10 years some Republicans are starting to get sick of him.  Bill White was mayor of Houston for 6 years and won re-election with wide margins by appealing to both mainstream Democrats and business-oriented Republicans.  The Democrats also nominated Linda Chavez-Thompson  for Lieutenant Governor.  While I highly doubt that Chavez-Thompson can take down incumbent David Dewhurst, she has the ability to turn out the vote.  Regardless of any way you spin the numbers, Bill White will have to fight an uphill battle to take down Rick Perry.  However, it is undeniable that the ingredients for a Perry defeat exist.

While it is impossible to predict elections this far out, pollsters and forecasters are already taking a look at the results here in Texas.  Because of the uncertainty heading into the general election, Charlie Cook, a leading political analyst, changed his race rating for Texas from “leans Republican” to “toss-up.”  When was the last time any state-wide election in Texas was a “toss-up?”  1994.  It’s been 16 years since our last competitive election and I’m personally excited to see what happens.  Regardless if Perry ends up serving till 2014 or we end up welcoming Governor White, this election promises to be exciting.  (Or at least more exciting than the Republican primary.)

Dornon’s Index 2/25

Creator of the Index, Andrew Dornon.  Courtesy of Facebook.

Creator of the Index, Andrew Dornon. Courtesy of Facebook.

2-3 – inches of snow this week in Georgetown.

325 – the number of Hummers sold in December 2009.

A lot – the amount of people that all of a sudden care about figure skating.

5th – heart attack that Dick Cheney suffered this week.

Earlier – this week Cheney acknowledged that he and others directly authorized interrogation techniques that are considered torture by the U.N. and the Geneva Convention.

Less than none – the amount of sympathy I have for this douchebag war criminal.

Republican candidates in review

The candidates for the gubernatorial race.  Courtesy of Ellen Anne Burtner.

The candidates for the gubernatorial race. Courtesy of Ellen Anne Burtner.

With the Republican gubernatorial primary on March 2, the race is beginning to heat up. Currently, there are three contenders – Rick Perry, Kay Bailey Hutchinson, and Debra Medina.

Perry, the governor of Texas since 2000 when he took over from George W. Bush, is running for re-election, and is currently in the lead with roughly 40 percent in the polls. Hutchinson, a U.S. Senator since 1993, has decided to challenge him, and currently stands at about 30 percent in the polls. Medina, who is the founder and CEO of Prudentia, Inc., a medical consulting firm, is also the Texas state coordinator for the Campaign for Liberty (a political organization founded by Ron Paul, which works to educate both elected officials and the public on constitutional issues). Medina stands at a bit less than 20 percent, with the remaining 10 percent of the Texas electorate being polled as undecided.

Perry, now the longest serving governor in Texas history, was elected with a plurality of 39 percent of the votes in 2006. Although he campaigns as a fiscal conservative, he has allowed tax increases in some areas and has also cut taxes in several areas. His tax policies are credited as being reasonably good for business.

However, Perry has been criticized for weakening government programs with these cuts. For example, Texas is currently ranked 48 out of 50 states (49 out of 51, if you include District of Columbia) in percentage of residents having completed high school. However, he has balanced the state budget and managed to preserve an $8 billion “rainy day fund” in cases of emergency, and passed tort reform which has lowered malpractice insurance cost for doctors. Perry is a social conservative, being opposed to abortion and gay marriage, as well as supporting gun rights.

Controversy has surrounded his executive order that all sixth grade girls must get the HPV vaccine, due to moral objections and safety

concerns, as well as the fact that Gardasil, the vaccine, is manufactured exclusively by Merck, who has contributed to Perry’s campaigns. He has also been criticized for “cronyism” in his appointments; this especially came to light in the recent scandal at Texas A&M in Bryan/College Station (my hometown). In the words of the Bryan/College Station Eagle, “Perry’s meddling has left the university wounded and floundering. Its reputation in the academic community is in free-fall and it likely will take years to return to the stature it once enjoyed.”

Prominent endorsements for Perry include Sarah Palin, Rudy Giuliani and the NRA.

Hutchinson has been a popular senator in Texas, winning re-election three times with 2-1 majorities. Hutchinson considers herself pro-

A scene at the debates.  Courtesy of AP.

A scene at the debates. Courtesy of AP.

choice, but votes the majority of the time for restricting abortions. She also is in favor of gun rights, having proposed legislation that would lift the District of Columbia’s ban on handguns (D.C. currently bans all firearms).

She supports term limits, having proposed limits for U.S. Senate terms as well as term limits for Texas governors. She is against gay marriage and is a fiscal conservative, having voted for a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget, and has a pro-business voting record according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (who gave her a rating of 100 percent). She has campaigned on “putting an end to the cronyism that has creeped into Austin and the Perry Administration.”
Prominent endorsements for Hutchinson include Barbara and George H. W. Bush, Dick Cheney and numerous newspapers, including the Austin American-Statesman, Dallas Morning News, The Bryan/College Station Eagle, The Houston Chronicle and the San Antonio Express-News.

Medina is a registered nurse who has founded a medical billing company (Prudentia Inc.) and managed it since its inception in 2002. Medina is farther to the right than both Perry and Hutchinson. She is campaigning on eliminating property tax, gun rights, a pro-life stance and nullification of any and all federal laws which she considers unconstitutional. She is also pro-life.

Medina’s performance at the two debates with Hutchinson and Perry boosted her in the polls from under five percent up to the mid-

20s; however, her number dropped back into the teens after some statements made on Glenn Beck’s show as to how the US government was potentially involved in 9/11, and some later statements questioning whether Obama was born in the US. “The 9/11 Commission report, you know, great sections of that are redacted and they’re top secret. That makes us all wonder, well what’s happening back there? The same is true with the birth certificate thing. I think it’s healthy that people are asking questions,” Medina said in a TV interview.

Prominent endorsements for Medina include Ron Paul and Larry Kilgore (a former gubernatorial candidate and advocate for Texas secession). She has also garnered significant support in the Tea Party.

My endorsement goes to Hutchinson, not necessarily because of her outstanding qualities, but because I don’t want to see either Perry or Medina in office. Being from Bryan/College Station, and having both of my parents as professors at A&M, I have had a close-up view of Perry’s “cronyism” in action. As for Medina, I don’t want a “9/11 truther” or “birther” who is supported by secessionists as my governor.

Tea Party or Tea Baggers?

A tea party.  Courtesy of Google Images.

A tea party. Courtesy of Google Images.

The Tea Party, at first, seemed to emerge out of nowhere. Initially, it was just groups of people getting together to protest the stimulus package/bailout that came out of our government. They didn’t see themselves as one coherent movement, but rather as a series of protests against the excesses of the government.

The Tea Party has drawn its name from several sources, but primarily from the Boston Tea Party, which was a protest against taxation without representation. Tea has also been used to stand for Taxed Enough Already. The Tea Party’s basic stance is one of fiscal conservatism and responsibility, incorporated with a strong push for “limited government” and “free market.”

On the surface, this “Tea Party” seems like a good ol’ grassroots conservative movement, attempting to criticize both parties’ policies from a third viewpoint, which is attracting quite a lot of media attention and what seems to be a large amount of followers as well.
Protests include rhetoric comparing Obama to Hitler, saying that “McCarthy was right” (think the Red Scare), talking about violations of freedom. Protesters have said, among other things, that Obama is a Muslim, the Antichrist, communist, fascist, socialist, has no emotion, that he’s raising taxes like crazy (He’s actually cut taxes for roughly 95 percent of U.S. citizens, only those in the highest income bracket are being taxed more). Protesters complained about the appointing of czars. A sign read “WHAT’S A CZAR? R WE IN RUSSIA?” and one of the protesters stated, “We don’t know what their power is. Are they going to be given land?” Another sign read, “We don’t need no stinkin’ Czars”. A little background – “czars” have been in the U.S. government for decades and refer to high-level officials who oversee a particular policy – Ronald Reagan had a “drug czar,” to give one example.

However, the Tea Party has now grown to a movement which has formed an official corporation and related PAC (political action committee), and held its own convention with Sarah Palin being paid over $100,000 to be the featured speaker, and tickets costing over $500 per person to attend.

The Tea Party may have started out as a grassroots movement; whether it willA tea party protest.  Courtesy of Google Images. continue to be one remains to be seen, as it lacks a consistent message beyond the basic anti-tax, anti-government, anti-Obama stance it has taken, and is in the process of merging (or re-merging) with the Republican Party.

Don’t get me wrong. I understand the dire fiscal straits our country is in. I understand the desire and the need for fiscal conservatism and the frustration with the current state of our economy.

However, I am disturbed by the fact that people use this as a reason or excuse to stay ignorant. If you want to protest, protest something that actually matters! Protest something in which you actually know the details about, something that you can actually take a position on! If you are passionate enough about something to protest or demonstrate for or against it, then it is your responsibility to educate yourself about it!

It is absolutely our first amendment right to organize, protest and disagree with our government. But Obama is our duly elected President – we are not being taxed without representation, we are not having our constitutional rights violated, we do not have a communist/socialist/fascist as president, and czars are not becoming the new American aristocracy. Disagree with his spending bills, disagree with the health care plan, as long as you know what you are disagreeing with.

All I ask for is a political debate where everyone is informed, knowledgeable about the issues and above all, rational, logical and ethical. Ignorance should not be a right.

Liberal Student groups on campus increase activism

Andrew Kirk and Lily Connor, Courtesy of Megan Wagner.

Andrew Kirk and Lily Connor, Courtesy of Megan Wagner.

Looking for a way to become more involved or even obtain a bit of knowledge about current world issues? The immense amount of student groups on campus has increased this semester and these groups are looking for new members to become involved with their causes. SU Socialists and Young Democrats are two groups that have recently become active on campus. Though the groups vary ideologically, they both express a wish to increase awareness and education about political and social issues among the SU community.

SU Socialists is interested in joining all types of political ideologies, such as Marxists, Social Democrats, Anarchists and a wide array of others that encompass the ideas of socialism. The group hopes to emphasize the fact that there is not just one form of socialism and that socialism is not what all people believe it to be.

Two projects that SU Socialists hopes to become involved with are the Stir It Up Campaign, which focuses on creating better working standards for campus food service employees, as well as Designated Supplies Program, a program that, when adopted by a university, makes sure the supplier of the university’s apparel is not selling clothing created in sweatshops. The SU Socialists hope to get rid of the social stigma that Socialism has developed over the course of history and the direct relation it has with historical figures, such as Stalin. Instead, they want to focus on the reform and awareness that Socialists’ movements bring. After all, member Lily Connor stated, “Socialism is a very American thing, which has its roots in the labor reform era of the early American 20th century as well as the Civil Rights Movement era.”

Another club developing this semester, the Young Democrats, which has been dormant on campus for about a year and a half, is attempting to reform by getting more students to join, making mail-in ballots available on campus to allow students that are away from home to still take part in their local elections, partnering with the University of Texas’ Young Democrats and providing a forum to discuss political issues. They are especially interested in creating more awareness within the Williamson County political realm by working with the Williamson Country Democratic Party and also are focusing on the upcoming Texas Governor’s race.

The main focus of the group this semester is to create a solid base to launch off in the coming years by getting more students actively involved. Young Democrats has not decided on any set issues to commit themselves to, seeing this as a more long term goal, and they believe that as the group begins to take a more permanent position on campus, they will begin to take on policies they feel are pertinent to the Southwestern and Georgetown communities.

Regardless of your political affiliation, if you see getting involved with issues outside of the next Top Model or American Idol, giving each of these groups a shot is definitely the way to go. Both groups provide an open forum for intelligent discussion on important social and political issues and are open to new people coming in to join the conversation or to just sit and hear other people’s points of view. The main hope of both groups is to get people considering different points of view and activley discussing policies and events that affect all students.

Kay Bailey Hutchison for Governor: Rally at Southwestern

Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson, courtesy of Google Images

Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson, courtesy of Google Images

This past Tuesday, Feb. 16, Texas GOP gubernatorial candidate Kay Bailey Hutchison visited Southwestern during a rally hosted by the College Republicans. Hutchison addressed students, faculty and staff gathered in the Howry Center about several key issues of her campaign. These included illegal immigration, high school drop-out rates and term limits for the office of the govenor.

Senator Hutchison’s visit to SU was one of many along the campaign trail as she prepares for the primary elections March 2.

Recently, Southwestern University hosted Kay Bailey Hutchison for a rally on her journey in running for governor, a visit planned and coordinated by the College Republicans organization here on campus led by Garrick Patterson. They did a fantastic job of putting the event itself together–the best touch was unanimously the cookies and brownies. Food never fails to draw a crowd.
To answer the question of “Why Southwestern?” as a stop on the campaign trail, the answer is simply that among her staff, there is a present legacy in Southwestern alumni, and there was a desire to support that on her team.

At the rally, Hutchison proclaimed that the mission in her policies is to continue Texas’s legacy of being “the best state in the nation with a can-do spirit” that will alleviate the problems afflicting the state. Her rally talking points were issues with illegal immigration, property taxes, crowded roads, the alarming rate of high school dropouts and budget deficits.

She stated that if elected as the next governor of Texas, that she would campaign to end the Trans-Texas Corridor and end a history of cronyism in the Capitol by setting concrete term limits for governor to the maximum of eight years. After all, Rick Perry is starting to take the lessons of Alexander Hamilton a bit too seriously. In saying that, she is “a states’ righter, but more importantly an individuals’ righter.” She also made it clear that she does not agree with Rick Perry’s mandate of HPV vaccinations for young girls and fervently desires to restore those individual rights lost in the legal mandate back to families and parents.
It is unclear if Kay Bailey Hutchison will make it past the primary due to the fact that a lot of the votes that Rick Perry might lose will in all likelihood go to candidate Debra Medina rather than Senator Hutchison, but as in the tradition of elections, we’ll all just have to wait to see what happens.

College students are historically a demographic that has acted in two extremes of the spectrum when it comes to political involvement – either the youth are activists and are the force of political energy, or they are apathetic and can’t find the will to make it to the polls on election day.
The most important thing to remember on a college campus is to get informed of the issues and candidates and stay involved via voting or even getting involved on campaigns.

Early voting in person has already started and is available until four days before the primary elections on March 4.

Here is a slideshow from that event:

[album: http://www.southwestern.edu/wordpress/megaphone/wp-content/plugins/dm-albums/dm-albums.php?currdir=/studentlife/orgs/megaphone/wp-content/uploads/dm-albums/KBHRally/]

Obama is mislabeled as a “socialist”

The word “socialist” is being inappropriately applied to Obama and Democrats in general. We’ve all heard the word since the 2008 election. Recently, with conservative ire at the large budget deficit and health care, it’s being thrown about a lot more. At the recent Tea Party Convention, Obama was labeled “a committed socialist ideologue” by former congressman Tom Tancredo. This mislabeling is being taken even further to comparisons with Hitler and Nazis.

Just as a little background, here is a dictionary’s definition of socialism: “A theory or system of social organization that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole.” Whatever Obama’s policies may be, whether you approve or not, they do not even approach socialism. Socialism is on the far left of the political spectrum, while Democrats are center left. To give some perspective, Republicans are center right, and anarchists are far right.

When one looks at the political spectrum of the United States versus that of Europe, it is quite obvious that both the Republicans and the Democrats are very near the center of the political spectrum, partially because of our elective system. The alignment of Americans on the political spectrum resembles a bell curve; therefore, the closer to the center a party can place themselves, the more people will agree with them and therefore vote for them. With the “winner takes all” system of electing congressmen and presidents, this leads to two parties thatNational Socialism are extremely close to the center on the political spectrum.

Another point – government, by definition, has “socialist” features. All governments tax people through various manners, and spend this money for the benefit of everyone. It’s how roads are built, and it’s how everyone gets a free education. And for those of you out there saying “but Obama is increasing taxes” – Obama’s proposal only increases taxes on individuals who make $200,000 a year or families that make $250,000 dollars a year (from 35 percent to 39.6 percent). Or in other words, only 2 percent of Americans. That hardly makes him a socialist. Denmark, a truly socialist country, taxes its wealthiest about 68 percent of their income, nearly double that of the US.

My goal with this article isn’t to convince anyone that Obama’s policies are right (or wrong). It is merely to attempt to start bringing the debate back to what really matters, which is the issues. I know this is probably wishful thinking on my part (and overly idealistic), but I want people and politicians of all political alignments to be able to sit down and have a civil, reasoned debate without the argumentum ad hominem and name calling which does nothing but radicalize the debate and make it harder for both sides to compromise. I want a political debate where people are informed, knowledgeable about the issues and are, above all, rational, logical and ethical.

Republicans playing politics hurting them, their future

Courtesy of Google Image SearchWith a current national debt of over $12 trillion and a deficit of around $1.35 trillion for 2010, debt and deficit reduction is rightfully at the top of America’s current concerns with the government. Fiscal responsibility, spending freezes, budget cuts – these are measures and terms that you would expect to see a big “R” stamped on. Unfortunately, you would be mistaken.

With the victory of Republican Scott Brown in the special election in Massachusetts, the Republican Party has broken the “super-majority” of the Democrats. They now have the ability to filibuster and to block initiatives, since the Democrats can no longer muster the 60 votes required.

One would expect this to lead to a more fiscally conservative, responsible agenda, an agenda that would have greater bipartisanship and hopefully, one that would be more representative of this country’s needs and desires. Instead, the Republicans have taken this opportunity to (surprise, surprise) play politics.

In a vote last week on creating a bipartisan commission to recommend ways to reduce the rising deficit, Republicans defeated the effort, stopping it short of the 60 votes required. Several Republicans who had initially supported the bill then voted against were asked why they did so, and the reason given was that supporting a deficit reduction effort initiated by the Democrats would give them political cover.

Effectively, the Republicans united against a bill which they should have been sponsoring in the first place – a bill that would at least begin on the arduous path of reining in spending and reducing the deficit and potentially the debt.

Hopefully, this trend will not continue. The Republican Party is now at a crossroads of how they will define themselves. Will they (continue to) define themselves as a party which does nothing but attempt to block every initiative that wasn’t started by someone within their party, or will they use their increased leverage to make appropriate and necessary changes in bills that have the potential to be beneficial?

Take, for example, the health care bill that is currently weaving its way (or stalled, depending on how you look at it) through Congress. It is, as of this moment, a purely Democratic bill; votes on it have been straight down party lines. Now would be a prime time for the Republicans to show initiative and creativeness. By paring the bill down to a more palatable size, perhaps adding a few provisions of their own, and overall revamping the bill into a bipartisan effort, health care reform could be passed in a manner that would allow both parties to cry victory and potentially reduce the deficit over time.

What I want is a return of the old Republican brand, a return of the fiscal conservatives who utilize their political power to hone and refine initiatives put forward by the Democrats, by eliminating waste and helping by providing their own ideas, instead of discarding anything that doesn’t originate from them.

The Race to the Bottom

The political blogs were ablaze this weekend following some rather questionable statements made by two candidates for governor right here in Texas.  Our state is no stranger to having the dumb things our politicians said gracing the airwaves for the media to mock.  Clayton Williams was made famous for comparing inclement weather to rape by suggesting that “if it’s inevitable, just relax and enjoy it.”  And of course there is my all-time favorite Bush-ism, “is our children learning?”  Just because our political history is rife with stupidity is no reason to continue the trend.

 

Debra Medina

Debra Medina (and her pistol) smile for the camera.

In an interview with Glenn Beck, Republican candidate Debra Medina was lobbed an easy question…and quickly struck out.  Beck asked Medina if she was a 9/11 truther, she dodged the question stating that “the American people have not seen all of the evidence.”  I understand that one of the popular political positions now-a-days is to question the federal government, but for Pete’s sake, does she really believe that Texas’ former governor let thousands of people die in a terrorist attack?  I’m no fan of Dubya, but I can’t accept that he would let an attack like that happen.  Up till now Medina’s poll numbers were climbing; several polls put her only a few percentage points behind Senator Hutchinson.  With Governor Perry hovering around 45%, the collapse of Medina’s campaign makes a runoff less likely.  If Perry survives the Primary without a runoff he, ironically, will have Debra Medina to thank.

 

Farouk Shami poses with one of his blow-dryers.

Farouk Shami is also packing heat.

The Texas Democrats were quick to respond to Medina’s gaffe.  Not to be outdone by Texas Republicans, Farouk Shami decided to agree with Medina’s take on 9/11.  When asked if he thought 9/11 was an inside job, Shami stated that he couldn’t say either way.  In the worst case of damage control I’ve ever seen, his campaign quickly rolled out a statement that he simply “responded with the fact that he did not know.”  This only tied the Democrats with the Republicans.  Shami took it a step further and commented that “[He didn’t] find, you know, many white people really willing to work.”  As if dishonoring the 9/11 dead wasn’t enough, Shami felt the need to resort to racism.  Former Houston Mayor Bill White has been at or near 50% in the most recent polls.  Shami has been desperately trying to gain ground on White.  His campaign has resorted to negative ads and has attacked White’s record as the Mayor of Houston.  Attacking White’s record is one thing, but attacking all whites is another.

 

Both Debra Medina and Farouk Shami were long-shot candidates, but in 24 hours they have gone from being long-shots to having no shot at all.  With the polls closing on March 2nd, I can only hope that the remaining candidates can keep their mouths shut and stick to the issues.  While I do consider myself an optimist, I’m sure that the race to the Governor’s mansion will grace us with another embarrassing sound-bite before the final vote is counted.

Dornon’s Index 2/10/10

Creator of the Index.  Courtesy of Facebook

Creator of the Index. Courtesy of Facebook

1 – the number of National Tea Party conventions to date

$549 – the price for a ticket to the entire event

$349 – the price to attend a dinner at the convention at which Sarah Palin spoke (mumbled? read from notes on her hand?)

600 – the number of “people” who paid actual money to listen to her “speak”.

63, 501– the number of views on the most popular music video of Hi-Caliber, a Tea Party rapper.

55,512 – of those aforementioned views belong to people laughing at how much Tea Baggers don’t like rap.

3,894,782 – the number of views on the most popular Dead Prez music video.