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Archive for February, 2008

Nader Is Back (And don’t tell me he helped Bush win in 2000)

February 26, 2008 6 comments

Ralph Nader on Meet The Press

So, now we have a good ole fashion 3 party race. If you blindfolded me I would say I was living in Germany or some place with a true multi-party system. Nader is back in town and he is fighting mad…And I’m glad. He came out of the closet on NBC’s Sunday morning public affairs show, Meet The Press.

Now let’s get one thing straight – HE DID NOT CAUSE AL GORE TO LOSE THE ELECTION IN 2000! Bush and his cronies used every crooked maneuver in the book to steal that election fare and square. But moreover, Al Gore handed the Republican Governor from Texas the election on a silver platter. I remember it as if it were yesterday…

Al Gore was answering some questions and one of the media people on hand asked him whether or not he would be seeking the assistance of then President, Bill Clinton. This is where he lost the election because instead a definitive, “yes, of course,” he answered with some roundabout-ambiguous statement that only signaled he was trying to separate himself from Clinton (President Clinton was dealing with a possible distraction regarding the whole Monica Lewinsky ordeal). I remember turning to my mother and telling her, “That’s it. Al’s gonna lose.” And I was right (you can contact my mother for further details). I almost threw something at the T.V set. I wanted to strangle all of his closest advisors and bury them 6 feet under because they didn’t earn their paycheck that day

…Even though the scandal was a PR mess for Bill Clinton and his cabinet, they still enjoyed a high approval rating amongst the general U.S. American public. Not to mention the country was enjoying successful economic times. Regardless of who was responsible for it, Bill Clinton presided over a prosperous end to the millennium. Gore lost that sight, and instead ostracized the one person he shouldn’t have. If Al Gore spoke with half the fire and passion, back then, as he does now, he would have won. If he had gotten fired up, and acknowledged Bill Clinton as his confidant, events would have been different. So let’s be frank, Al Gore lost the election. Ralph Nader didn’t help the Republicans with anything.

Check out Ralph Nader’s website, as it has all his positions, comings and goings, and general thoughts about activism in The United States.

U.S. Healthcare – The Choice Should Be Ours

February 23, 2008 4 comments

Barack and Hillary during CNN debate in Austin, Texas

Let’s get right to the point – what will this presidential nomination mean for the future of healthcare in the United States? The answer is very much up for debate because nobody really knows. Everyone talks about “universal healthcare,” but what does that really mean? The only real way for healthcare to attain true universality is for the central government of the United States of America to fully and truly socialize healthcare. Imagine that, the wealthiest and most powerful nation on the Earth with socialized healthcare where every man, woman and child would never have to worry about going to the doctor. Imagine, using our insurmountable wealth to support the most advanced medical techniques and technology in the world. Imagine…. Okay, back to reality. According to The New York Times Online edition of February 23rd, 2008 it seems “universal healthcare” means, a battle between affordable healthcare mixed with free choice, and healthcare coverage being the law.

Barack and Hillary speak about covering everyone, but they seem to have different methods. Basically, Obama wants to lower the price tag for insurance, while Hillary wants to demand everyone have health coverage. They both agree that children should be fully covered, no questions asked, which is more than I can say for a certain lame-duck President. Oh, and the Republicans (there are some Republicans out there running for president) are a bit silent on the issue from what I gather (I’ll let that be commentary on how the media are covering Republican based issues). So for now, back to Barack and Hillary.

I’ve check both health plans via the postings each Democrat have placed on their websites, and am impressed with them both. But as The New York Times Online article author, Kevin Sack, highlights, Obama’s plan seems to give a bit more choice in that healthcare isn’t a mandate. Hillary seems to want to make it law for everyone to have healthcare.

Hillary Demands You For U.S. Healthcare System

Now, while I can’t see why anyone wouldn’t want to have healthcare, I can’t argue with a persons right to choose for themselves what they want. The one thing I say is, if you walk into a hospital and need care you’d better have the money to pay for it. If you want to roll the dice and invest your money in your classic cars fetish instead of stockpiling that cash for a possible hospital visit, then so be it. Just be prepared for the hidden costs of that hobby. In the end though, if this country is truly a nation built on the idea of democracy and the freedom to make your own decisions, then why would you mandate that everyone have healthcare? Give people the option to do what they want. Make it affordable so they can’t resist. If they continue to resist because they don’t want to give up another luxury, then place the burden of care on them.

Barack For The Peoples’ Choice

This is why I support Barack over Hillary. People need and want healthcare, but I don’t think people want that healthcare shoved down their throats. It could cause them to go to the hospital, which they wouldn’t have the coverage for.

How More Specific Can You Get

February 18, 2008 2 comments

Recently, I’ve been reading and seeing reports that Barack Obama spews more motivational rhetoric than facts and figures. I live in Japan, and people here say the same thing. “Nice speaker, but I don’t know the details of his plan.” I was actually starting to believe them. As I listened to news clips about Barack I was seeing a lot of parading and crowd jeering. He really did seem like a rock star who was putting on a good show. That said, some of the best show stoppers know quite a bit about the causes they champion. Ask Bono about poverty and debt relief around the world and I know he will bludgeon you with more facts than you can handle. As I am a supporter of Obama, I went looking for specifics. Not hard to find really. Just go to www.barackobama.com, and you can find all the details you want concerning his policies. When you are there please click on, Obama’s Economic Policy Address at the Janesville GM Assembly Plant. You will read a sound economic policy that champions rebuilding the United States, while addressing the future of the U.S. I can’t see how anyone can argue that Obama doesn’t give specifics. Short of sitting you down and reading every little detail, I believe this speech gives voters what they need to make a sound decision about Barack.

Now, if this policy speech doesn’t turn heads then how about this comment from a blogger on Barack’s community site:

By Cali Mom Feb 13th 2008 at 11:57 pm EST

This is a letter from my Deaf nephew in-law after I sent him an email about Barack’s plans for the disabled.

I am a very staunch Republican and I am coming to grips with my party’s crumbling values and unclear messages over the last 8 years. It’s going to take a miracle to re-gain our positive image of liberty and freedom for all mankind.

I believe the miracle we need is a man from the State of Hawaii and the country of Indonesia and Kenya and America. A Christian from the city I grew up in and the state I call my childhood home. That miracle is man who can change this country’s image around. That man is Barack Obama.

Barack Obama has touched the inner core of my heart and soul after watching his speeches via Project Readon of his captioned videos. This extreme undertaking to ensure that ALL Americans receive his message has left me speechless. His speeches truly inspire and SPEAK to the American people.

As a 27 year old Deaf, un-employed American, I feel obligated to hear Obama’s message for changes in the work force and in the areas of disabilities. I have felt the struggle of disabled Americans for 6 years now since I graduated from Arizona State Univ.,Poli Sci. major. I know and understand the challenges that disabled Americans go through in seeking a stable job and efficient training. Disabled Americans have been left out in today’s economy with no jobs or training in sight. Disabled Americans have THE highest rate of foreclosures and bankruptcies today than this country has ever had in its 232-year history. I believe Obama can turn things around.

You may be wondering why the staunchest Republican would swing so far as to support Barack Obama. Well, the message is clear… Washington has for too long been run by the same people on power struggles and high horses with no real agenda to lead America in today’s challenging demographics. We all know the baggage Mrs. Clinton brings with her to Washington, we all know all to well the pendulum that Senator McCain likes to swing on throughout the years being unsure which true party he wants to belong to.

Barack Obama is here to change and change is what we need. Let’s help others hear his messages and encourage them to have hope for America.

Erick Tucker

I will close with that and let you find your own specifics.

They Can Add Calf Killers to Their Resume

February 17, 2008 3 comments

In the Saturday, February 9th, 2008 online edition of the Japan Times, C. W. Nicol wrote an op-ed entitled, “Killing Calves Makes Japan’s Whaling Indefensible,” which dots Japan’s whaling resume with another marker of blood. The interesting thing about his position is that he used to be a supporter of whaling, as he says here,

In the past, I have made myself pretty unpopular abroad in speaking out in defense of Japan taking whales for food, as long as the whalers abided by a scientific quota and observed IWC rules.

But with obvious astonishment at recent events he seems to have changed his opinion.

The sight of a dead whale doesn’t shock me because I’ve seen thousands. However, to see obvious and irrefutable evidence that Japanese whalers had crossed the line to killing calves, and probably a mother and calf, was too much.

He describes, with great detail, his experiences with the Japanese whaling industry. He is very knowledgeable on this subject. Not only has he seen Japanese whaling practices up close but also the whaling practices of other cultures,

Having lived with Inuit hunters in Canada, I could see nothing wrong in taking marine mammals for food. In the Antarctic especially, there were plentiful minke whales, thousands of them, and in no way could the species be called endangered.

I gather, he feels quite strongly about the recent events within the Japanese whaling community to be writing such an article.

In a previous post entitled, “Letter to the Japanese Whaling Association,” which I actually sent, via-email, to the Japan Whaling Association, I outlined why whale hunting should be discontinued in Japan. For Japan, I gather it is less about a viable food source, and more about ego. No one likes being told what to do. But sometimes, a nation and culture must look at itself and ask, “Is this really necessary?” Hopefully they come to a ‘right’ answer.

I just want to mention, I’m not 100% opposed to whale hunting (whether that matters or not). And I actually make my home in Japan. I take part in local community events and support Japan on many fronts. I just don’t support Japan on this front.

Nicol, even though he comes down on the side of the anti-whaling group still supports a small regional hunt for cultural purposes, which I can agree as well,

Perhaps one answer would be to preserve the tradition and skills of whaling by a very limited, well-observed and controlled coastal hunt. That is a decision Japan must make for itself.

My major issue with all this is the open lie. I would have more respect for the Japanese on this issue, if they would just admit, 100%, that they want to kill whales for food, and want to make money from it. I hate smokescreens and lies in situations like this. In the guise of scientific research they will kill 1,000 whales this year (including a scheduled 50 Humpback Whales – considered by some to be as intelligent a species as we’ve ever observed). If they want to see how far we can push a species to extinction without actually making them extinct then they are doing a good job. Or if they want to see how to bring a species back from possible extinction, then they are on the right track. I gather though, those are not the goals of the Japanese scientific community. Just say, “We want to kill whales for food and money.” So much easier to defend yourself that way.

I’m not a whale expert, but one responded to my first whaling article (thank you), and after doing some extra research of my own, I was even more hardened towards whale hunting in this context. Finally, C. W. Nicol states,

However, with this new lack of judgment in taking a minke calf, which no boatswain directing the movements of the ship from the crow’s nest, and certainly no harpooner worth his salt could mistake for an adult, I feel I can no longer justify further support for Japan’s Antarctic whaling. By the way, I am British-born, but a citizen of Japan.

“With rising fuel costs, with tons of frozen whale meat stored unused in warehouses, and with anger at home and abroad with Japan’s Antarctic whaling now so intense,” I just hope someday the Japanese Whaling community listens to its “longtime friend(s)” and curtails its whaling operations.

SUPERdelegates Needed for this Showdown

February 16, 2008 Leave a comment

The SUPERdelegates

From the far reaches of the United States of America political system, they have come together as one body with mantra of upholding truth, justice, and the American way (maybe) – they are the SUPERdelegates. Yes folks, these 796 party insiders will decide the outcome of the Democratic nominee for President of the United States, and thus the fate of the United States of America. Heavy rhetoric? Possibly, but no heavier than the rhetoric that has been used during this Presidential election season.

In a previous post I spoke about why the Democrats should be looking to unite the party instead of divide it. The Republicans seem to understand this concept of party unity. Regardless if Huckabee continues to challenge McCain or not, the Republican party is, and will be united (for the most part). The Democrats, however, are playing a dangerous game by relying on/pressuring these SUPERdelegates to make a decision. They must be SUPER indeed to fend off the amount of scrutiny that they are receiving from everyone involved in this nomination process. Where is the Justice League of America when you need them?

The New York Times Online published an article, “Democrats Look for Way to Avoid Convention Rift,” that speaks to the heart of what is haunting the Democrats, and what, in recent years, has been haunting the Democrats – destructive division within the party. Because of these divisions within the Democratic party, the SUPERdelegates have to fend-off the persistent onslaught of Barack and Hillary supporters, associates, and confidants. Add to that the unrelenting media attention, and let us not forget – they still have to cast a vote (Do they vote with the public, or do they vote what they feel in their hearts?). These SUPERdelegates better be made of steel, lead, titanium, or some material that can shield them from what is happening. Hillary, Barack, and their respective camps need to recognize that they are all on the same team, and no matter who a SUPERdelegate supports they are supporting a Democrat.

In my opinion, SUPERdelegates should not be lobbied for any reason. There should be strict rules against calling them, writing to them, using their names in public, interviewing them, or anything else of that nature. Let them read the newspaper and watch TV. Let them check on the internet for information or talk amongst themselves. They are all party insiders, so it’s not like they don’t know what’s going on. They have access to information the general public will never see. I think it is a detriment to the U.S. political system that nominee and party insiders like Bill Clinton and Tom Daschle can call on behalf of the those they support, preaching why the SUPERdelegate being contacted should vote for either Hillary or Barack. If the nominees run a just, fair, and honorable campaign they should not worry about who wins or loses, or who these SUPERdelegates vote for because in the end, they will have chosen the best man, or woman for the job. But most of all, they will have chosen – A DEMOCRAT.

Republicans Closing Ranks – Democrats Beware – The Party Must Unite

February 8, 2008 Leave a comment

With Mitt Romney (former Republican Governor of Massachusetts) closing down operations the GOP race is playing out exactly the way I had expected. According to the New York Times Online, Mitt Romney has officially dropped out of the race for the Republican nomination for President of the United States.

This move plays to the overall favor of John McCain (Republican Senator from Arizona) because knowing the mentality of most Republicans they see this as one more step towards unifying the party. McCain has positioned himself as the candidate that doesn’t push people to the extremes of the Republican party – a Centrist Conservative if you must. Mike Huckabee (former Governor of Arkansas), the other GOP candidate, on the other hand relies on Christian Conservatives as his base. A powerful but rather extremist group that can alienate the larger voting population. So, when it comes down to it, in my opinion, he is not electable.

I would include Ron Paul (Republican Representative from Texas) in this commentary but I just can’t see him winning out. He has some noble philosophies and policies, but in the end his extremism is not what this country needs, at this time. I do think he can be an important player in the national election, as an advisor, or even running mate. But that is another day, another story. Sorry Ronny. That said, back to the frontrunners.

McCain appeals to the ever more important Independent voter, and Conservative Democrat who could be on-the-fence. I believe Huckabee will bow out soon (as with Paul, hopefully). If this happens, the Republicans will be so far ahead of the Democrats. They will in fact be running a national race. I can see it now – “Vote Republican as we are the party of unity. The Democrats can’t even decide who they want to be President. Such indecision is a quality we cannot have in the Executive branch of this government.”

I thought when Hillary, Barack and Edwards took the stage the Republicans were done, but I always had in the back of my mind that if McCain could just keep things going, he could make things difficult for the Dems. This is happening. If I were the Democratic leadership, I would reach out to Hillary and Barack and tell them, “Stop killing each other. Talk with each other. Reach agreements on ideas. Truly debate the issues. Talk policy not empty rhetoric. Concentrate on the Republicans not each other because no matter who wins we need to be unified.” That’s what the Democrats need to be doing right now because when it comes down to it, the Republicans will stand by whomever they choose. They will live and die with their choice (example 1 – The 8 year tenure of Lame Duck President Dubya). A close friend of mine once said, “The Democrats need to come together because the one thing you know about Republicans is, the majority of them, and that’s what matters, will go to war for their nominee.” I can only reiterate this one more time – Democrats Unite!

I’ve always hated partisanship in politics because when it comes down to it these people all want the same thing – a healthy and prosperous United States of America. Of course they have different ideas of what that is, so I guess partisanship can’t be helped. But if the Democrats want to be ones leading the charge and creating the talking points they need to take a lesson from the Grand Old Party, and when it comes time, unite under one candidate.

One last piece of advice from the Democrats – If they can stand united and under one umbrella we will prosper, but if they are divided we all will fall (see the last 7 years as proof).

A Look at Super Tuesday Speeches

February 6, 2008 Leave a comment

So, as Super Tuesday comes to a close the results coming in point to a tight race that will come down to the respective final primary states. My facts come from The New York Times website. They did an excellent job at presenting what happened. In clear and easy to understand charts you can scroll through all the primary and delegate information. I also recommend taking a look at the Super Tuesday speeches, also provided by The New York Times.

So what do all the facts and figures mean? Exactly what I said before, this is going to come down to the end. I hate to say ‘race’ because that implies this whole thing is a competition with winners and losers. All these candidates talk about ‘change’ and new futures – let’s act that way. All the candidates are fighting for the same thing – A better United States. That said, check out the speeches (via the link above). I think they will give you a good indication where these candidates are, and what outlook each of them have on the future.

With the Republicans, I saw John McCain’s speech first and have to say that it was good, but he was clearly reading from a tele-prompter. This took away from that “town hall-straight talk McCain” that put him where he is today. He is a Washington insider like Romney says, but he is not the Washington insider that falls prey to close-minded politiking. He might be conservative, but he is a maverick. His speech though echoed his conservative roots and put on a show to garner die hard conservatives. I do wish though he would stand up to the pundits like Limbaugh and just say, “What’s wrong with being conservative and working with liberals? What’s wrong with trying to understand the other side’s positions? If more conservatives opened their minds maybe politics wouldn’t be partisan and we could actually get down to the business of running a country instead of pleasing fundamentalists.” That would be some straight talk.

On the other side of the country, Mitt Romney gave an inspired speech. He was impassioned and vibrant. He came across as genuine, which is big for me to say, as I’m not a Romney supporter. He speaks very well and has some really good philosophies. No one can argue with his business acumen, but the United States needs more than a smart business guy to run the show. As a governor he does have that executive decision-making experience. All that said, I still lean away from Romney. It’s more of a feeling with me than anything else, so don’t take my word as gospel.

I didn’t catch Mike Huckabee’s speech (at the time I wrote this), but from the political commentary on The New York Times website it was well delivered and well received. Huckabee hasn’t been spending money (because he doesn’t have it) like McCain and Romney, but he has been able to keep himself very much in the spotlight. Watch Huckabee very carefully. He could be the spoiler to Romney’s run.

For the Democrats, Hillary gave a very Hillary speech. She was reading it word for word, which I wish she hadn’t done. Take a chance Hillary and go from memory. Interact with the crowd. I liked her positions and policies, but she sounded so mechanical that the emotion behind her words were lessoned. The self-promotion at the beginning of her speech was tactless (go to www…..). It was, again, very mechanical and unnecessary. But in the end, she echoed some really great sentiments. She had some great energy up on that stage, and why not she was in front of her home crowd.

I saved the best (in my opinion) for last. Barack’s speech was amazing! He used much of his usual change rhetoric, but the way he spoke made the speech truly inspirational. My wife (who is Japanese) heard part of his speech and instantly commented, “He sounds like Martin Luther King, Jr. or someone like that.” I was stunned because this was exactly what I was thinking. We weren’t alive to see Dr. King speak, but through audio and video archives we’ve been able to experience his oratory. Obama, not only speaks about policies, but he speaks with that revolutionary zeal that ranks with the great orators of our time. I hope he is aware of his impact, and place in history. He looked so comfortable speaking. He even traded comments with a lively audience member. It was so spur-of-the-moment, and he reacted naturally, right-in-step. Everything about his speech was from the heart. It was on a different level than the others.

So check out the speeches, and other Super Tuesday stuff at The New York Times website. Of course you can use whatever news source you want, but I found The New York Times site, quite comprehensive and useful.