Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Where Do I Stand On The Issues?

Where Do I Stand on the Issues? (Along with my grades for the Government in each category).

On some issues I tend to be a little more Conservative, while on others I am a little more Progressive. Sometimes it all depends on the circumstances of a particular situation. That’s the beauty of being an independent. No one (& no political Party) can tell me how to think. I tend to end up in the Middle on some issues as well…. I am usually driven by what is most logical and practical to solve a problem…. I am not driven by blind religious and political emotionalism… like many people are on the Right (Conservatives), and on the Left (Liberals). When we rely on that, we often end up with irrational thought processes which lead to irrational, useless policies that turn into failures.

Abortion -my grade for the Government: C+

-I personally don’t like it!

I would rather see people be more responsible and see prevention programs be more effective. Adoption is also an option. However, while I don’t personally like abortion (& hate discussing the ugly subject) I do not believe in anti-abortion laws. This is a matter that should not be legislated. I defer to logic & medical science on this issue (& others).

No laws should be established that would interfere with a woman’s ability and right to choose or a Doctors ability to do his/her job. Doctors must do what is necessary to protect the life of the woman & provide options in cases of rape or incest.

Then there is the issue of illegal abortions. If abortion is made illegal, it will not stop abortions from taking place. It will only stop abortions from taking place under the safety & care of properly licensed medical professionals. This would cause yet another health crisis. There would be a rash of illegal abortions under unsafe conditions (as was the case once before in this country).

Abortion is a touchy subject best left to women and their families. Government should stay out of these most private matters.

The Death Penalty -my grade for the Government: C

-While in College I constantly went back and forth on this issue. I researched the subject until exhaustion.

I generally do not believe in the death penalty as it is used today. This is due to problems with the legal system that lead to the disproportionate use of the death penalty against the poor (those who can’t afford good legal representation) and against minorities.

A. Blacks who offend non-blacks are generally more likely to receive the death penalty.

B. The poor are also more likely to receive this punishment due to poor legal representation by the public defender system. Public defender offices in States across the country are understaffed & underfunded, and attorneys are overworked & underpaid. They are more concerned with managing the workload (encouraging offenders to plead guilty….even when they want to fight charges and maintain their innocence), and are less concerned with providing proper legal defense.

C. Too many death row inmates & rape suspects have been cleared of their crimes years later. This shows that the system has serious flaws.

D. The demonization of Black Americans (Black men in particular) has worsened the problem of fairness in the legal process.

With that said, I would support the death penalty in certain circumstances- For mass killings (Oklahoma City Bombing for example), cases where both the witness information and DNA are solid, in cases involving children & in cases with other mitigating circumstances.

But one key fact that people should know about the death penalty is that one of the main reasons that it was conceived was for the purpose of deterrence. However, there has never been solid, widespread and consistent evidence that the death penalty has been an effective deterrent to murder.

Energy- my grade for the Government: D-

-The U.S. should lead the world by innovating new energy systems. The U.S. has lost much of its edge when it comes to innovation. We used to lead the world in creating and developing new technologies.

The U.S. must break its dependence on foreign energy (oil) as soon as possible. This is especially the case for oil that comes from hostile parts of the world. This could be done in 15-20 years if we start now with massive New Deal/Manhattan type energy projects.
Energy from Hydrogen, Ethanol, Methanol, Solar, electric cells are all realistic alternatives to oil based fuels. The U.S. just lacks the political will to make it happen.
As long as we have a government that is allied to/and owned & controlled by the multi-billion dollar oil industry, energy independence will never become a reality.

U.S. politicians have been rolling the dice with this national security issue, putting their personal interests ahead of the best interests of the United States.

Affirmative Action- my grade for the Government: B-

I only support certain kinds of affirmative action.

Affirmative action to help people get access to education= YES!
Affirmative action to help minority companies that are systematically locked out of certain industries due to laws that are crafted to create unfair barriers to entry= YES! There is no problem with them getting help in the form of an initial boost to gain access to the market….so they can compete.

But I don’t support quotas in terms of employment. However, I DO support outreach- making sure qualified minorities and women get interviewed and get a fair shake. I am all for that! But hiring should be based more on merit, not race or sex alone.

And in terms of education grants- it should be based more on economic need, not just on skin color IMO.

If people see us as just filling a quota then that doesn’t do us any good at all. I wouldn’t want to be looked at that way. I think most Black Americans would agree. As James Brown would say… “I don’t want nobody to give me nothing’, Just open up the door and I’ll get it myself”.

However, there are certain cases where legal/court intervention may be needed to break down clear cut, obvious racial barriers. The courts should look at these issues on a case by case basis.

If you have a company with 500+ people & there are no Black workers in management, and few (or no) Black staff, and the Black % of the population of the particular area is not being reflected in the numbers of people being interviewed and given a chance to work…. Then there is probably something shady going on. The courts should remedy these situations. But arbitrary numbers or quotas should not be set.

Military/Foreign Policy- my grade for the Government: F

- I believe in a strong defense. The U.S. must maintain a powerful military. Perhaps even stronger than what we have today. However, the U.S. should be much more responsible with how it uses its military power.

Too often the U.S. military is not really used to defend our country. It is used to fight for the economic interests of elites.

The U.S. is losing its status as a great power because it relies too heavily on its military to solve all of its problems & differences around the world.

A great power or “Superpower” needs to have 4 things (simultaneously) to maintain this status:

1. Moral legitimacy
2. Economic Power/industrial might/innovation
3. Diplomatic power & skill. It must have good relationships around the world.
4. Military Power

The U.S. has lost #1. It doesn’t use #3 effectively or sincerely (if at all). And it is quickly losing #2. This leaves the U.S. with just #4.

Other countries used to want to follow us on their own based on the U.S. being strong in all 4 areas. They wanted to be on the side of the good guys. Now they just follow us often out of fear of #4. Now the U.S. finds itself twisting arms & influencing countries at gunpoint, figuritively speaking. A “Superpower” can’t last for very long under these circumstances.

This over-reliance on projecting military power around the world is causing us great harm IMO. The U.S. should avoid playing the role of the Worlds Police Force.

I believe in having a strong military that would be ready God forbid if we need to use it if we are directly attacked.

The U.S. military should also focus more on providing disaster relief, in the U.S. and around the world. This would allow the U.S. military to provide life, rather than just facilitating death. This would turn the U.S. military into a symbol of hope for people around the world rather than a symbol of invasion, destruction, or occupation. This would also provide the U.S. military with vital training and experience with dealing with disasters…. The “good guys” should be just as famous for their ability to make emergency tents, provide emergency food, water and medicine as they are for their killing ability. This would also translate into better relations around the world.

I also believe that the U.S. should reduce & limit all of its ridiculous defense treaty obligations. We have far too many defense treaties already. In addition, the U.S. has about 700 military bases around the world in over 100 countries. The U.S. military is overstretched, and many of the defense treaties are not necessary. Also, most of these treaties are not reciprocal…they do nothing for the U.S. while providing a lot to the other party. We must move to a "U.S. (& closest allies) first strategy"…rather than a world police officer strategy. This is now a multi-polar world and we must adjust and find our place within that reality.

I also support the idea of a sharp reduction of nuclear weapons- in the U.S. and in other nations around the world.

Economy- my grade for the Government: D

I believe in more responsible spending, and more accountability regarding how tax money is spent.

The debt & yearly deficits are out of control & should be brought down as soon as possible. The U.S. has created a debt that is nearly impossible to pay down. To make matters worse, we have foreign countries (some not so friendly to the U.S.) who are managing U.S. debt…. Yet another way that the U.S. has made itself a hostage to other nations. As if that’s not bad enough, soon the interest alone on the debt will be too high to pay…. Putting the economy at risk.

Furthermore, the U.S. government should work to keep this country competitive with the rest of the world through better educational programs, encouraging more technological innovation & preparing the country for a more global economy.

The U.S. also needs to get away from the service based economy & create more jobs for Americans that can build/sustain families and support economic growth. Currently there are not enough good paying steady jobs being created to keep up with the number of college graduates entering the job market. Soon this will become a serious problem (in some parts of the country it already is).

In order to accomplish this, the U.S. needs a strategic plan that would radically change the current economic & employment situation.

Healthcare- my grade for the Government: D-

There should be a national health insurance system, especially for those who are uninsured or underinsured by their employers health plans.

With all of the outrageous wasteful spending on wars, and pork projects, America can definitely afford to invest in its people. A nation that doesn’t invest in its people (education, healthcare, safety, etc) will suffer in the long run.

The U.S. must also increase its medical capacity. Currently hospitals in most big cities operate at peak capacity under normal conditions. This means that they do not have the manpower, the facilities or the equipment to effectively deal with disasters.

Immigration- my grade for the Government: F

I believe in controlled immigration and responsible immigration. I am against illegal immigration.
I see immigration as more of a national security issue. Most politicians in Washington (especially Republicans) have used the immigration issue & the terrorism issue as a cover to express their fears of a certain race of people. They are not really concerned about terrorism at all. That’s not my angle. These politicians (mostly White Conservatives) are so horrified about the Caucasian race losing influence, that they have become totally irrational at this point. It’s really comical to see them foam at the mouth over this issue. They have become completely paranoid.

We are attacking and occupying countries overseas under the banner of fighting terrorism, yet we are leaving our back door open here at home (and in some cases, the front door as well). What do I mean by stating that the front door is open? Well, most of the 9/11 hijackers came into the U.S. through the legitimate Visa programs that were in place (and that are still in place today). We facilitated their legal entry into the U.S. They didn’t run across an open border from Mexico. Almost none of the loopholes that were exploited on 9/11 in terms of immigration policy have been corrected. This is why I believe that the immigration issue is not just about Mexicans coming over an open Southern border. The issue should also be about reforming the immigration system and policies that dictate who is allowed into the country, how long they can stay, and under what circumstances, etc. If the politicians were really concerned about national security, they would fix the policy problems of the immigration system, and not just call for a fence on the Southern border (although I do support the idea of a fence).

I do agree that the Southern border should be better secured. Would you go and prop your front door open before you go to bed tonight? Think about that for a second. Of course you wouldn’t. And you definitely wouldn’t do that if you have very serious problems with some neighbors (other countries in the world). It’s a disgrace that the borders have not been secured after all this time. We should have had troops on the border on September 12, 2001. FACT: The U.S. has more troops protecting foreign borders than it does protecting its own. Disgraceful! And that Republican ploy to put troops on the border was a public relations stunt. It flopped. Most of the American people saw right through that nonsense. Those troops cannot carry weapons, have no orders to defend the border against the violent drug gangs, cannot pursue illegal aliens and cannot defend themselves or the border patrol. They are there so that the media can take pictures of them being on the border…

Common sense says that you protect your territory. Of course you don’t go to bed at night with your front door open. What do you usually do instead? You check to make sure the doors to your home are closed and locked before you go to sleep at night (and if you have an alarm system….you set that too). Common sense!

Our intel reports have told us that extremists have either considered or tried to enter the country through Mexico.

Now my idea of border security would not be a political attack against Mexicans…. The vast majority of whom are honest, hardworking, struggling people seeking a better life. I believe in some sort of guest worker program…with participants who have been vetted, have no serious criminal histories, and have a sponsoring company or organization in the U.S.

We should not allow felons or gang members or drug traffickers into the country. Those individuals who want to work should be given the chance to do so, if they play by the rules. They must not overstay visas, must stay out of serious trouble, must pay taxes, etc.

This would allow the Border Patrol to concentrate on more serious national threats. I don’t see this as amnesty… I see this as being realistic, logical and practical. Racist conservatives want to deport all aliens that are here currently…etc. This is nonsense. It can’t happen and will not happen. First of all…that would kill the whole plan to begin with. If they are threatened with deportation, they will not come out of the shadows voluntarily (which is the whole point of immigration reform). Also, this idea of deportation is simply not practical. ICE and Homeland Security do not have enough staff to accomplish this.

We also must build a fence (even though that wouldn’t prevent illegal immigration…it would at least help).

In addition, we need more Border Agents, more funding and more troops (real troops) on the border to assist the Border Patrol.

ID requirements must also be strengthened. Currently for certain countries in Europe and the Western Hemisphere, no Visa is required at all to enter the U.S.. Most Americans are not aware of these loopholes. They are told everyday that the government is doing things to make them safe, but it’s an illusion.

The U.S. must also assist Mexico with improving their own economy, and improving working conditions in their own country so that fewer Mexicans will want to cross the border illegally.

The U.S. must also pressure the Mexican government to put forth more of an effort to prevent illegal immigration and to prevent problems at the border between officials of the two governments.

Terrorism- my grade for the Government: D-

-The pro-war U.S. approach to fighting terrorism is not working & can never work. It is actually having the opposite affect- as I predicted it would.

You cannot defeat terrorism with tanks, warplanes, aircraft carriers & thousands of troops. Armies cannot destroy an ideology.

The U.S. is so used to relying on its military to solve many of its problems around the world that it really doesn’t know how to react to terrorism.

Should the military be an option? Perhaps it should. But military power should not be the main tool for fighting terrorism (as it is today).

The U.S. must instead rely on more creative & more effective means to fight terrorism.
Such as:

1. Radically strengthening (legally) law enforcement and intelligence- both within the U.S. & overseas by improving cooperation around the world. The U.S. should also use more human intelligence.

2. Improving cultural exchange between the U.S. and the Muslim world.

3. Work harder to solve the Israel/Palestinian issue. The U.S. should be more even handed when dealing with Israel. The unconditional U.S. support for Israel has been harmful to the U.S.- killing U.S. moral legitimacy and the U.S. image around the world.

4. Improving education for people in the U.S. and for citizens in the Muslim world. This should work towards improving understanding about other cultures. These things will take away some of the fuel that drives terrorism. Young people who have been educated (fairly and impartially) about the outside world and have been exposed to people of other countries will be less likely to fall for the message from religious extremism and will be less likely to become Jihadists or terrorists themselves.

5. Fight religious radicalism around the world (of all kinds)….including within the U.S.

6. Do more to improve the economic and social conditions in the Muslim world.

7. Utilize diplomacy to strengthen ties with other nations (ending the John Wayne approach…or at least moderating it significantly).

8. Improving the U.S. image around the world. Make the U.S. the “good guys” again , inspiring other nations to want to be by our side on their own rather than at gunpoint.

9. Put real Homeland Security in place in the U.S. to make it harder for terrorists to strike. This includes fixing vulnerabilities in the U.S. immigration system.

Political Reform/Democracy- my grade for the Government: F

I don’t really consider the U.S. to be a true Democracy. I know U.S. politicians are always beating their chests, proclaiming that the U.S. is the greatest Democracy in the world…but that’s not really true at all.

I have no confidence at all in the American political system. This is basically why I don’t vote. (& probably never will). By voting I would only be going along with (& contributing to) the charade. The whole voting system itself is a sham. European observers of the 2004 U.S. Presidential election were shocked at the lack of Democracy in the U.S. They were surprised to see the lack of choice and to see that the voting process was seriously flawed & controlled by partisans. They did not expect to see that in “The Greatest Democracy”. I encourage you to read the OSCE report, which can be found online. It was one of the few times where the U.S. voting system was judged objectively by a fresh set of eyes (outsiders). They likened much of our voting system to that of third world countries and suggested that the U.S. had a lot of work to do to meet certain basic standards. Originally the UN wanted to monitor the vote, but the U.S. government refused…. Allowing the OSCE (a respected governmental body in Europe) to do it instead, hoping for a friendlier assessment from them.

The two national political parties are like the Demon and the Devil to me. Or a snake with two heads. Both Parties are in the pockets of corporate elites, Both Parties lie to you, both Parties= the pro-war Party, both Parties are out of touch with the average working American, and both Parties work against Americas best interests for their own gain.

Every two years, Americans go through this ritual that makes them believe that they are really taking part in a Democratic process. Since Americans know so little about the rest of the world and about other political systems, they have little to no frame of reference to compare their system to others. Therefore, it becomes easy for them to swallow the notion that they have a great “Democratic process”.

Election after election, Americans are left with two bad choices. They must choose the lesser of two evils. Two Parties cannot possibly represent all the views and interests of 300 million people. I recall a discussion once where I informed someone that I was an independent. I was accused of languishing “on the fence”. That comment wrongly suggests that there are only two opinions & two political philosophies. It assumes that you have to choose one side other the other…there is no third opinion or independent viewpoint. This is the sad line of thought that the wing nuts are poisoning the country with.

India has 7 major political Parties (& dozens of smaller ones)

Germany has 5 major political Parties

Britain has 3 major political Parties

France has 8 major political Parties

Canada has 3 major political Parties

Spain has at least 6 major Parties

Norway has at least 6 major Parties

Denmark has 7

In fact, most major Democracies around the world have more than 2 major political Parties. Even Iraq has over 50 different active Parties. The U.S. is one of the few “Democracies” with just two major political Parties. The U.S. consistently ranks low among Democracies in the world in terms of voter choice, voter participation, etc.

The U.S. basically has a dictatorship of sorts that has a rotating seat between these two Parties that are often seen cozying together.

The U.S. needs a 3rd and 4th political Party represented in its government. It’s time for new Parties, new leadership, and a new vision to emerge.

And consider the way that political leaders are chosen in the U.S.
Politicians are elected based primarily on 5 things today:

1. The Media- The mass media determines who the "favorite" is by telling the American public who they should vote for and who is the most Presidential and photogenic. Whoever looks the best in a cowboy hat is often considered the best person for the most important job in the World. Go figure.

2. Fear

3. Religious Emotionalism

4. Money- Who can throw the most money into a campaign.

5. Who is Controlling the Election- As mentioned above, elections are controlled by Partisan election officials and politicians, not by impartial & independent judges.

The vote of the average citizen has only a small role (if any) in determining who is elected.
Often the most qualified candidate is not the person who wins an election.

Furthermore, the corruption in government is out of control. Both parties are controlled (& owned) by lobbyists who work for large corporations. Read about the history of a place in Washington D.C. called K Street, if you are not familiar with it. The lobbyists who work for the private corporations are actually responsible for writing much of the legislation that we see today.

There should be reform that would prevent politicians from receiving corporate money or gifts of any kind.
Politicians should be required to have the same campaign budgets, funded with public money, as well as some private donations. This would establish an even playing field for candidates.

The whole idea of “lobbying” was originally about the common U.S. citizen being able to have access to their elected officials in Washington D.C., to petition them, etc. However, over the past few decades this has been hijacked by big money lobbyists who work for the richest corporations in the country. Members of Congress are basically bought off by these entities. At the same time, the Congress has completely lost touch with the needs of people, and lost touch with its original purpose. Today, the average citizen has no access to the U.S. Congress….not even to their own elected officials. The only way that you can even get a chance to get access to your member of Congress is if you go to a $2000.00 per plate dinner (fundraiser) wasting lots of your money in the process. And even then, there is still only a small chance that you would get 30 seconds with your member of Congress.

Both parties also work together to prevent other parties from competing or even emerging to threaten the status quo. One example of this is the way that both parties fight to keep third parties out of the official debates (for Senate and for President). In order to block third & fourth Parties from Presidential debates, they (both Parties) established a shadowy organization called the Commission for Presidential Debates, which lays the ground rules for debates. The real purpose seems to be to create barriers for other candidates, preventing other Parties from participating fully in this so called “Democratic” process. Third Party candidates are routinely blocked from public debates.

Americans should also be allowed to have referendum power, to vote on issues of national importance. True Democracies allow their citizens to vote on national issues. Since the U.S. Congress is not doing its job (oversight), then the people should be given the power to do it.

I also believe that there should be one standard for major elections- Senate and Presidential. Currently, there are 50 separate and unequal elections…. Each State has its own standards, own rules, and its own equipment. This does not create confidence in the system.

I also believe that the attorney general of the U.S. should be a nationally elected figure, approved and monitored by Congress….rather than selected by the executive branch. The Justice Department must be independent. The current situation allows the Party in power (Democrat or Republican) to get away with all sorts of corruption and crimes without much accountability. An independent Justice Department would bring about more honesty in government. One rule that I would suggest is that Attorney Generals should not belong to any political Party…should not accept donations, etc. They should be voted into office with a national election (the same time that the President is chosen) and they should campaign with the same budgets.

Lastly, gerrymandering should be made illegal. This has killed Democracy. This has led to a situation where only about 20% of Congressional races are competitive. The other 80% of the seats are considered “safe seats” for the incumbent Party. That’s not Democracy.

But despite my dislike of both major Parties, and dispite my dislike of the political system, I would much rather see the lesser of the two evils in power. Riding the Donkey is better than being smothered by the Elephant in my opinion. But new Parties (national Parties) are desperately needed in Washington D.C.
The U.S. won't have anything close to a true Democracy until that day comes when there are more than two Parties in Washington.

Homeland Security (to be added soon)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


Thanks for your post. I completely agree with you about the need to reform our two-party system and have commented on this over at The Moderate Voice,