18 May 2011

A good interview on video from the John Batchelor’s radio show with centrist independent pundit John Avlon and Major Garret (who works at the National Journal now apparently) talking about Jon Huntsman’s chances in the 2012 presidential election, as well as a few issues related to the national political scene.

14 May 2011

David Brooks' column from a few days ago makes a good point. We're not going to get some in depth and substantive compromise hammered out in just a few weeks - there just isn't enough time - but something more simple is possible, and could even be better in the long run. Not that we could reasonably expect the blind partisans running the two major parties to do something so logical, but if they chose to they have the power to make something like this happen: Congress won’t be able to produce specific program cuts and policy reforms in the next few weeks, but it can come up with structural rules that will obligate future Congresses to make cuts and reforms for years ahead. The important argument now is over what kind of restrictions to impose on future Congresses. (This by itself is a sign of just how far rightward the debate has shifted). Republicans and a few moderate Democrats are rallying behind a spending cap plan, co-sponsored in the Sen...

14 May 2011

Just to be clear, I'm not arguing that this is illegal. I'm arguing that this is patently wrong. In short, if the law does allow the government to tell a company what states it can decide to put a factory, that law needs to be changed. Each state has different laws, levels of taxation, pools of employees with the right skills, access to materials, etc, but when a company is looking to build a factory, there are certainly some areas that the government should have input on. Zoning and environmental concerns are a couple examples of this, but the federal government shouldn't have a damn bit of input as to what state that factory goes. Corporations do not own unions, and unions do not own corporations. Just as a corporation shouldn't have the power to force a union into accepting unilaterally changed pay rules, or forcing an end to a strike, unions should not be able to force corporations into building an expansion where they would like them to, or...

14 May 2011

Have you flown recently in a commercial airliner?  If so, who did you see the most in the airport? It was not the passengers on your flight.  It was not the airline ticketing and baggage check personnel.  It was not the vendors and shop keepers who are all over airports these days. It was members of Homeland Security, the smiling TSA (Transportation Security Administration) agents.  They are everywhere.  They check your ID.  They screen your hand bags, and for good measure, they pat you down. To the department’s credit, they are all polite and professional.  They appear to take their jobs seriously.  Their physical appearance is neat and orderly.  They are, in a nut shell, what a government worker should look like. So what is the issue? There are several.  All these people earn salaries and benefits.  This means our ticket fees and taxes are higher. In performing their duties they unnecessarily slow down the process of getting from...

13 May 2011

I'll have to say... I completely agree with Gary, on over at his blog A Critical Aye, here: Now, I hope you’re sitting down, and brace yourself … I’m about to agree with some Tea Party members. Three activists in the Texas ‘Tea Party’ movement have filed a federal lawsuit demanding that 2010 Census figures not be used in the state’s redistricting effort, claiming that since Census knowingly counts include illegal aliens, counting them as residents in redrawing political boundaries dilutes the voting rights of citizens and is a violation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. That seems pretty logical, don't you think? Why the heck would you knowingly count illegals in the formula used to decide congressional districts in the first place? Seems as though they should, at the very least, get relevant experts together and figure out a way to reach the most accurate approximation, given the data available, of non-citizens and parse them out for the ca...

13 May 2011

As frustration builds with many (should I say, most?) voters, the call for a third party gets stronger.  With hypocrisy, corruption, and empty headed thinking abounding with both Republican and Democratic parties, the idea of a third party absent these qualities seems alluring. Is this real or simply a mirage? The odds against a third party winning a US national election are staggering.  Individual State requirements work to restrain any national candidacy.  Given today’s campaign financing expenditures, where would the money come from to support a third party. Some simplistically suggest the individual voter will abandon the major parties and flock to the third party with votes and money.   And, if your name is Bloomberg, why worry. Pundits say that President Obama will spend over $1 billion on his reelection. A third party candidate will be lost at sea. So is that it for third party power? I do not think so.    A third party candida...

13 May 2011

Some interesting polling data from the New York Times, showing that the trend is moving towards a majority of GOP voters being supportive of either civil unions or gay marriage, suggesting that this may not be as much of a liability in GOP primaries as some people think. This does not mean that there is no risk at all for Mr. Huntsman. Civil unions had gained currency as a centrist alternative between gay marriage and no legal recognition. But both advocates and opponents of gay rights are increasingly turning their attention to marriage itself, meaning that everyone from Mr. Huntsman to President Obama may have to pick sides. In polls that present a choice between gay marriage and no legal recognition — with civil unions removed as an alternative — most Republican voters continue to gravitate toward the latter option, with 27 of Republican voters supporting gay marriage but 71 percent opposed in a recent CNN survey. Another problem is the Repub...

12 May 2011

Anyone who thinks the Obama people are stupid are fooling themselves. Several years ago they saw the threat of a moderate Republican Jon Huntsman candidacy and appear to have nakedly (and probably successfully) attempted to mitigate it by hiring him to be our ambassador to China - a job which he took. They saw his rising star, saw how he could cut into Obama's appeal to swing voters and they just plain see that, if he manages to somehow eek out the GOP nomination, they've got a really damn tough fight on their hands. They also saw the writing on the wall of rising blind partisan tribalism in American politics - especially on the right. Having worked for the Obama administration makes him an enemy to knee-jerk tribal Republicans, and makes the already narrow path to the presidency for a moderate Republican that much less likely. ABC News is reporting that this is the buzz among "top democrats" as well: Top Democrats in and outside the White...

12 May 2011

Here are the spending cut ideas for different sections of the federal budget that I think would be the best way to avoid a fiscal disaster down the road, with some specific suggestions on how:   Social Security Social Security was initially created in the 1930’s to be a social safety net to reduce the level of poverty our senior citizens were experiencing.  I believe this goal is very worthwhile as I don’t want to live in a society where getting old is a key cause of poverty…and I want to pay my share of taxes to support this goal.   It’s important to fund Social Security as a social safety net and not a universal retirement program. My proposed changes: My proposed changes: Raise the retirement age to 70, over an appropriate period of time to allow for people to plan. Create a way for people to qualify for retirement at 64, 66 or 68 if they have worked enough years in a job that is physically more demanding. Change the calcu...

11 May 2011

centrist pundit John Avlon being interviewed by Solomon Kleinsmith in 2012
Solomon interviewing centrist pundit John Avlon at the 2012 conventions. There aren't too many strident centrists in the world of political punditry. Some mislabel those who strive toward journalistic integrity as being centrist, but that's just being nonpartisan. To be clear, I'm not criticizing being nonpartisan - we need genuine journalism much more than we need centrist punditry, but when I see things like this it heartens me: In April, CNN.com was up over last year with 1.45 billion global page views and 100.2 million global video views due in large part to CNN’s coverage of the Royal Wedding (see full numbers below) and CNN.com’s Opinion section. CNN.com Opinion had its best month ever with 18.9 million global page views, 61% higher than last year.  The top five writers in the Opinion section for April were CNN contributor LZ Granderson, CNN senior political analysts Gloria Borger, best-selling author Bob Greene, senior political colum...