A Voice of Reason: Sane Views for a Crazy World

May 4, 2007

Survey USA Poll: Giuliani Beats Opponents in Debate

A poll of 317 viewers watching the debate were asked to rate the performance of the candidates:

Rudy Giuliani 30%
Mitt Romney 12%
John McCain 11%
Jim Gilmore 8%
Duncan Hunter 7%
Sam Brownback 4%
Mike Huckabee 4%
Tom Tancredo 4%
Ron Paul 2%
Tommy Thompson 2%

UPDATE: Drudge report is having an interactive poll, but it does allow for multiple voting, so pretty worthless.

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The Debate: Who Won and Why?

You see the title; what is your answer. I will reply after I think.

Updated: Well I thought and I will now take out my teacher’s red pencil and give each a grade in no particular order.

Rep. Tom Tancredo – Looked frustrated at times. I think part of it is that his campaign is struggling for air, and the format hurt him as he tried desparately to get out his views and distinguish himself, particularly on immigration. I also think that people saw that frustration and it didn’t help. Grade D

Rep. Duncan Hunter – Was clear, concise, and strong in many of his answer. One area that may hurt him was he was the most aggressive on Iran, and to a country that is not at all happy with Iraq, showing this posturing towards another nation in the area, one that does make everyone nervous may hurt with many even among Hawks. His trade and pro-worker solutions were noteworthy. Grade B-

Mayor Rudy Giuiliani – He was strong on war on terror and framing himself in his model of Conservativism. The questions on abortion won’t help with the base, and will help him with those who are softer on pro-life/pro-choice. He stumbled on that area, but did make his case with his time as NYC Mayor. I still support him. Grade B-

Sen. John McCain – Anyone who said that he lacked vigor got the reply in spades, he was energetic, perhaps too much so, to the point of aggressiveness in tone and body language. He also really had a problem keeping to the time, and wasn’t held to the time limits strictly. He didn’t hurt himself, but I don’t think he helped himself too much. He came out fairly strongly against President Bush, with saying numerous times, “The war was mismanaged”. He seemed passionate and assertive, but perhaps too agressive. Grade C+

Gov. Mit Romney – Of all the candidates the former Bay State Governor stood out. I am not a big Romney fan, but if I had to declare an overall winner, it would be him. He was able to frame his “flip flop” on abortion, and gave a reason that was credible. He also was well versed on the issues and inviting. Grade A

Gov. Jim Gilmore – Did very well tonight too. He was able to state that he was the “consistent Conservative”. He also did well to elicit his positions. However, there are few moments that make him stand out, and he probably won’t see his coin rise. Grade B-

Gov. Tommy Thompson – Did very well on many areas, but there was one area that may hurt him, and that was the question about firing people due to their sexual practices. I also believe that there was a pause that would have allowed him to nuance his position, and his silence was pregnant. This will be picked up. I don’t know if this is a valid reason to terminate an employee in the private sector, other than religious organizations, such as a parochial school, which are exempt from such restrictions and understandably so. His Iraq solution is interesting and deserves a look. Grade B-

Sen. Sam Brownback – Made some good points tonight, and particularly in his stressing the need for the political process to have a more dominant role in the process. His stands on abortion will help only with those who don’t know him, as they are well known. He also held up his credos to the bases fondness of evangelical base. Overall he may have helped himself, but like so many in the second tier is so far behind. Grade B-

Rep. Ron Paul – Made his stand as the maverick in the field. He also came across as passionate, principled, and had a good wit. However, his views on foreign policy are going to hurt him in the end. As much as America may wish to go back to isolationism, that ship has sailed. He advocated himself well, but his views won’t hold. Hard to grade with this dynamic, but based on his performance, and not his substance B.

Gov. Mike Huckabee – He had some good moments, and probably the biggest yuck of the night with his joke concering “The Governator”. He came across as genuine but may have suffered from the format as his positions are hard to define from some of the others, and nuance of his stands may be lost in the shuffle. Grade B-

Overall big winner has to be Romney. He did very well, and being slotted first, by the draw helped him. I think the big loser was Tom Tancredo, and this is not a slight, but he seemed frustrated and this won’t give him much of a bump.

I think that the only shift will be Romney moving up, but the question is who will pay for this hike Giuliani – who probably won’t lose support, McCain or maybe the non-announced candidate, who will also miss South Carolina’s debate, Fred Thompson.

If I had to be like a reality show and only promote five I think these five will likely be in SC.

Giuliani, McCain, Romney, Rep. Hunter, and either Sen. Brownback or Gov. Huckabee.

Then again, I could be wrong.

May 3, 2007

Where You Stand Politically

So, you want to  know where you stand and how you can get that cool little icon like I have on my blog?

Well, just go to this site and take the quiz.  I would put no opinion if you are not sure about something.

Please post your results, and you get BIG TIME BONUS POINTS for reasonableness if you score Moderate, Conservative or Liberal!  I “hope” I have constructed a place where divergent views are allowed and where we gain from seeing each other’s perspective.  I also hope that sometimes someone will say, I see your point, or something like that.

So often politics are too personal, so maybe this would at least bring back agreeable discussion and dissent to the forefront.

I’m posting this on all topics to hopefully get maximum participation.

IF you wish to take the quiz it is here.

Thanks!

April 26, 2007

What is a Liberal; What is a Conservative.

This brilliant post came as a result of a discussion on Woman Honor Thyself about gay rights. I love discussions which make me think, and something that had been ticking away just came out. It was one of my replies to many of the comments of “the left says this”.

There are so many mentions of the “left” and the “right” on blogs. Since I think many would consider this a “Conservative” blog, though I’m sure many “Conservatives” would call this place a den of Marxism or radical leftism, I asked think, What exactly is the Right would be a most approproriate question.

Are you of the “right” if you are a traditional conservative in the mold of Barry Goldwater that wanted small government, few intrusions by the Federal into the state and high amounts of libertarianism thrown in?

or
Are you of the right when you want BIG government with HUGE intrusions of the Federal into daily life with low regard for libertarianism thrown in as shown by NCLB, The Patriot Act and “The War on Drugs”.

or
Are you of the left when you support such “big government” positions as shown by the three I mentioned and add The New Deal and some of The Great Society programs thrown in.

or

Are you of the right when you side with those who would say yes to expressions of religion in the public domain such as The Ten Commandments being on public displays, religious markers – including Wiccan due to a recent court ruling – being allowed to be put in government owned cemeteries for veterans at tax payer expenses (38 religions – now 39 are officially allowed)
or

Are you of the left when you feel that Wicca markers should be paid for by your tax dollars.
Are you of the Left or the Right when you contemplate the full circle that “Conservativism” has undergone when you look at the start of the GOP as a “more conservative” political organization dedicated to stopping the expansion of slavery, but shifted pretty radically left when Emancipation – was imposed on rebellious states, and then the Radical COngress of the 1860’s and 70’s were they left or right?

The terms themself are hard to monitor as being of the left/liberal or being of the right/conservative has little meaning anymore.

When I define myself as a Conservative by saying I like BIG Government with regard to The Patriot Act, NCLB, The “War on Drugs” and even other “liberal??” aspects of it such as The New Deal, Social Security, and The Great Society, I also realize that I am in favor of unions and worry about the ecology of the planet, and kind of like that the Feds stepped in and mandated civil rights in 1964 as well as intergration of public schools in 1952. Time to stop kidding myself, I don’t dislike “Big Government” so maybe I’m a lefty after all.

Maybe, what makes me self defined as a Conservative, is that I’m as HAWKISH as they come, well, except for the loonies who are to the right of me!

Such labels are impossible to uphold anymore in today’s hegemony of political stances. The question is which party puts up with diverging views better. And also, which one lines up with who you are at your core.

April 24, 2007

Al Gore Assembling Campaign Team

Filed under: Democrat,Edwards,Election '08,Global Warming,Liberals,Obama,Politics,Primaries — avoiceofreason @ 2:54 am

From News Max

Political strategists close to Al Gore have secretly begun assembling a campaign team to prepare for a new run for the White House by the former vice president.

Two members of Gore’s staff from his unsuccessful campaign for the presidency in 2000 have been approached about working with Gore if he decides to toss his hat into the ring, they told Britain’s Sunday Telegraph.

One of Gore’s former campaign workers said: “I was asked whether I would be available toward the end of the year if I am needed. They know he has not ruled out running and if he decides to jump in, he will have to move very fast.

“He hasn’t asked them to do this, nor has he told them not to.”

Former President Bill Clinton indicated that he believes Gore could be preparing for a run for the Democratic nomination.

“You have got the prospect that Vice President Gore might run,” Clinton told Larry King last week.

A new book that Gore is publishing in May, “The Assault on Reason,” is likely to keep his name in the public eye, just as his global warming documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” recently brought him back into he limelight.

Well, if he does run, and I wouldn’t say I think he will, but I wouldn’t say he wouldn’t, remember one of my first posts predicted the fanfare over his film would put him in the race. Also, if you take Sen. Clinton’s falling numbers, a sense of unsureness over Obama, and Edwards soft support, the case for a Gore run are very strong. He would also do very well as a candidate, probably better than any of the major three in the field right now.

April 17, 2007

Symbolism in Policy Decisions

This is a critical analysis, in draft form that I am writing as part of my boring coursework towards a doctorate.  I put this under a barrage of headings, as it really applies to so many areas.

However, I thought some of you political junkies might find it interesting.

The use of symbols in framing public policy is discussed by Deborah Stone in  Policy Paradox.  The author states (pg. 137) that “symbolic representation is the essence of problem definitions in politics”.  What she may be stating early on in the chapter is that these symbols become part of the framework that policy makers can use to make their intended goals based within a context of reality for the general public.  The author discusses four distinct types of symbols used by framers of public policy: Narrative stories, Synecdoche – or figures of speech – where a part represents the whole, Metaphors, and the purposeful use of Ambiguity in the choice of which symbols are used.

The author states that “policy problems usually have narrative structure, with heroes and villains and innocent victims” (pg. 138).  Of course this provides a framework where the general public can relate to the goals of the policy being sought.  These narratives have the typical themes of stories of decline and stories of helplessness and control.  The author states that the story of decline is typified by the statement, “unless such and such is done, disaster will follow” (pg. 138).  This can be done by using human or statistical information as the characters which anthropomorphize the sought policy.   The second genre mentioned, helplessness and control, typically is used to contrast the problems that helplessness bring about when compared with policies which bring people into a firmer grasp of control of their lives, by means of a public policy.  The author points out (pg. 139) that as these stories move from fate towards control, they elicit hope, which engenders support.  The author later goes on (pg. 144) to describe subtypes of the control story, and these involve conspiracy theory stories as well as stories that blame the victim.  The conspiracy theory story calls for the masses to rise up against the few, while the blame the victim storyteller will urge the few to stand up for themselves like the rest of society.

The second type of symbol is synecdoche – or representing a whole by the part.  The author shows how politicians – framers of public policy – use this type of framework to forward policy ideas unto the general public.  The author gives examples public policy in domestic life, in the public welfare arena, and with regard to public safety (pg. 145-147) became examples which symbolic cases were manipulated by political forces, and the author chose to solely use examples where more “fiscally conservative” policies were promoted by this technique to simplify complex problems for public policy consumers. 

            The author proceeds towards the use of metaphors as strategic reference markers by policy makers.  The author demonstrates how to effect change in policy is to treat one problem as if it were another problem by the metaphor of social institutions as being living organisms (pg. 148, 149).  The author outlines further variations of this metaphor by showing that natural laws pervade into social organizations which set limits and provide barriers towards change in society brought about by policy.  The examples cited by the author of trends in society towards oligarchy, futility thesis, and law of unintended results, (pg. 150) are reach represented as in the previous section by more “fiscally conservative” elements of society are the beneficiaries of this type of tactic. 

            The use of metaphor is also brought about by mechanical terms which often form a basis for many policy metaphors.  Terms such as “in order”, “checks and balances”, “balanced budget” are all used by policy makers to give a sense of soundness to their policy views.  Government actions or trends in policy are shown as “getting a foot in the door” or “leading towards a slippery slope” (pg. 151) all use mechanical metaphor to warn against policy changes when there is no real valid reason to oppose the new policy.  Another mechanical metaphor is the ladder, which typifies an escalation (pg. 152).  Still other metaphors, which show policy function of exercising restraint, by terms as “spillovers”, “leaks”, “seepages”, and even “containing Communism”, all use mechanical terms to show how policy, or its change, serves in helping society run more efficiently.

            Another type of metaphor which is commonly employed by policy makers is that of disease (pg 153).  Terms which imply disease, such as, “blight”, “infect”, “breeding grounds”, “dying industries”, all imply deterioration and decline of a society.  The author states, “The disease label discredits opponents and implies the moral rightness of treating them as less than human” (pg. 155).  A more aggressive metaphor than the disease method is when war is declared on some social ill.  Metaphors, such as “The War on Poverty”, or “Waging War on Cancer”, and the author could have easily added the “War on Drugs” and perhaps the “War on Terror”, are all used by policy makers to gather public support for a policy in the sense that it is a campaign within the public’s interest.  The author shows that the metaphor used may also be indicative of the political stance of a policy proponent.  Liberals and conservatives may call a policy a partnership or a giveaway depending upon which constituency is receiving the benefit of the policy (pg. 155). 

            Finally, the author addresses the intentional ambiguity of symbols.  These symbols can easily represent more than one thing to any number of persons, and the author’s premise is that this is not at all by chance, but by design.  The author’s use of humor by using a symbol of an alligator is effective, when she states, “pictures of alligators conjure up very different images on Izod knit jerseys than on T-shirts for the National Wildlife Federation” (pg. 157).  The clear thesis of this section is contained in the passage, “Politics is more like art than science in that ambiguity is central” (pg. 157).  The author’s point is that by use of purposefully ambiguous statements, policies which serve both sides of the political fence can be framed in language which is not offensive to either side politically.  Both sides benefit, as well as the public, at large, by the implementation of policy even if by ambiguous means.  The author provides her own summation of this point by use of an anecdote of trade negotiations between the US and Japan, where both sides were willing to use ambiguity, and leave a good amount of the details unclear, in order to provide the public with a sense of accomplishment and achievement of parochial objectives (pg. 160).  The author’s conclusion is that the use of symbols in all their forms “helps transform strivings into collective decisions” (pg. 161). 

            Policy is formed by various strategies, and is used to form new strategies.  In her closing the author states, “they represent the world in such a way to make their skills, and their favorite course of action) necessary (pg. 162).  The view of the author may appear Machiavellian, but she may well be on target with regard to how symbols are used to frame policy.

April 7, 2007

For GOP Centrists, Life in the Minority Isn’t too Bad

The New York Times had a report on life in Congress for GOP Centrists, mostly from the Northeast. Thus far, some of the new GOP minority, find life isn’t so bad with the Dems in charge.

Typically, the GOP congressional delegations from the Northeast are signficantly more progressive than their counterparts, and have been thought of in the GOP caucas as the black sheep of the Party. However, moderate GOP Representatives like NJ Mike Ferguson, CT Chris Shayes, and NY Peter King have all seen positive trends in some areas, mostly linked towards labor initiatives since the Democrats took control almost 100 days ago.

Mike Ferguson had this to say about life in the minority,

“Under the Republican majority, those bills would have never gotten to the floor,” he explained before heading back to his district. “Now they have been brought to the floor, and I’ve voted for them.”

This of course represents the need for minimum wage in the expensive Northeast, and the important role that Unions have played in providing middle and working class families with some manner of economic stability, which again, due to the exceptionally high cost of livng, and example is the minimal price of a small starter home in suburban NY coming in typically at about $325,000.

Another factor that the GOP centrists are relalizing is that the Administration’s policies are very unpopular not just with the nation as a whole, but with the states in the Northeast and the Rust Belt. Simply put, the GOP can’t afford to throw away as many as 125 Electoral College votes every four years, and it wouldn’t be a bad idea to find a candidate that could have some traction in this vote heavy region. Particularly, moderate Democrats fared well in battleground states of PA, OH, and MI. Chris Shays, never the most popular Republican in the caucas puts it this way, “Democrats basically grabbed the center and ran with it politically,” adding that he would continue working with the Democrats provided they did not veer from the political center.

However, Democrats see the blood in the water, having unseated ten Representatives from the region, and they want more. The best hope according to the “Tuesday Group”, moderate Republicans – sometimes belittled as RINO’s, who meet to discuss issue which effect their constituency, typically health care and jobs, is for the GOP to send a national candidate with more moderate views, but still within the scope of the more Conservative base; Rudy Giuliani comes to mind. Having the pressure off of this group to go along with more conservative stands on issues like abortion, global warming concerns, gay rights, gun rights and immigration may help this part of the GOP caucas to stay alive. Peter King, R-NY stated it this way, “They’re (the leadership) not pushing members to take suicidal votes or take bullets for the team.

April 3, 2007

Quote of the Day

“Many argue that global warming is manmade, and it looks like they found the man.”

VP Dick Cheney (Speaking about former VP Gore’s energy use)

April 2, 2007

SCOTUS Tells EPA to Consider Global Warming Steps

Full story.

The U.S. Supreme Court ordered Bush administration environmental officials to reconsider their refusal to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions, giving a boost to advocates of stronger action against global warming.

The justices, voting 5-4, today said the Environmental Protection Agency didn’t follow the requirements of the Clean Air Act in 2003 when it opted not to order cuts in carbon emissions from new cars and trucks.

While this doesn’t force the Administration to do anything, this will put a great deal of pressure upon the Bush Administration to step up on regulations concerning emissions.  The big loser in this will be the automobile industry, who had resisted mandatory emission limits.  However, in the long run, this may not be the end of all for the car industry.  Simply put, American industry will have to adapt and change to meet the new reality, that politically, this nation is turning “greener”.

The vote was 5-4 with Justices Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, David Souter and Stephen Breyer joiningStevens in the majority, while Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito dissented.  In writing his dissent, Chief Justice Roberts stated, the court lacked constitutional power to second-guess the agency at the behest of states and environmental groups. The majority’s reasoning “has caused us to transgress the proper — and properly limited — role of the courts in a democratic society.”

Robert’s dissent is a view many conservatives may happen to agree with, and feel the Court may have overstepped its bounds, but the issue may not be as cut and dry as it does look at the ability of the federal legislature to address the global warming issue, rather than the EPA exercising broad control over the policies of the nation concerning emissions.

The Buzz about Bees

Filed under: Congress,Culture,Environment,Global Warming,Health,Politics — avoiceofreason @ 4:31 am

Quite a buzz has been occurring about bees, or the lack of them reported by domestic beekeepers.  This past year approximately 25% of all the colonies which should have bees, are vacant of buzzing, and this has alarmed not only beekeepers but other scientists as well.

While there is no real consensus about what is the cause of the problem, some have stated that the disappearing may be caused by an insecticide, Gaucho.  Others have stated that warmer than normal winters may have had an effect on the bee population.  Others say that as the number of keepers has grown, the basic level of care and competency has decreased.  One thing researchers have agreed upon, is that more resources – tax dollars – are needed to research this problem.  This may be a case where they may actually be correct.

Bees are tremendously important to the growth of food, as they are often shipped into farming areas to pollinate large amounts of crops.  Paul Wenger of the California Farm Bureau testified that “bees are the unsung heroes of our state’s important almond industry that has an annual farm value of more than $2.5 billion.”  Wenger added that more than honey and almonds are at stake.  In California, bees pollinate “melons, cherries, avocados, Bartlett pears, bushberries, kiwi, many apple varieties, cucumbers, plums, prunes, pumpkin, squash, ornamental plants, and dozens of vegetable and flower seeds,” said Wegner.

Albert Einstein, quoted in Germany’s Der Spiegel, once said, “if the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would only have four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man.”

This buzz – or lack of it – may be a rather serious issue, and is at the least worthy of Federal funding to investigate.

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