Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

On behalf of the writers here at The Young and Opinionated, I would like to wish everyone a safe and happy Thanksgiving. So take a break from politics and enjoy some good food, good times, and good football with your families and I'll be back tomorrow with more commnentary on the wild world of politics.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Democrats may have found their backbones

That's right folks, the Democrats might have actually found the strength and finally stood up to the lunacy of the GOP. Rachel Maddow reported on Thursday night that Democrats forced an up or down vote on unemployment insurance, putting into the public record who voted which way. Because of this procedure, a two thirds majority was needed to pass, and almost all the Republicans voted against it and so the bill failed to pass. But now those GOP House members along with a few Democrats who voted against are out in the open as being against the unemployed. The Democrats have proved that aren't afraid to tell the other side to put up or shut up. That act showed that this will be a very productive lame duck session as the Democrats plan to use the time they have left to push through the remaining pieces of their agenda this year before the new Congress comes into power. That means Don't Ask Don't Tell could finally be repealed and the House Democrats have assured us that the issue of the Bush tax cuts will be debated.
The Democrats wouldn't have needed this push had the old Lions of the Senate, Robert Byrd and Ted Kennedy, been around or if Vice President Biden would become more like Lyndon Johnson and do some arm twisting in the Senate. But I digress as this is a different time and place now. The main point is, the Democrats are going to get work done, and they're going to do it now. This is good news for all us out there. Like Dr. Maddow said:
"Signs of spinefulness are forcing the other party to take a public stand on things that put them at odds with public opinion, forcing the other party to take a public stand on things that put them at odds with how that party wants to be perceived, and not letting the other party stretch things out forever to give themselves time to turn popular ideas like insurance reform or nuke treaties with Russia into unpopular things by sheer dent of how long they're getting battered around in Washington.
It is a sign of spinefulness to run the calendar, to frame the debate, to decide things on your own timeline, to make your opponents own up for their unpopular positions. All of these things in evidence in Washington today -- Democratic spinefulness has broken out. Everybody panic." The Maddow Blog

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Republicans are finally coming to their senses

Everyone who knows me knows that I am a firm supporter of the president and his agenda for changing America for the better. You would also know how frustrated I am with Republicans that their agenda from Day 1 of this presidency has been to undermine President Obama and vote no on everything he supports. Well, that is finally coming to an end, at least in terms of national security. Republican Senator Dick Lugar has called on the Democrats to call the GOP's bluff and force a vote on a key nuclear arms treaty. Senator Lugar realizes the importance of the treaty to not only our national security, but to global stability. Past treaties have passed with at least 90 votes and no opposition. So why the sudden change. It all stems back to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's comment of making sure President Obama is only in for one term. But the point is, I commend Senator Lugar for bucking his party and putting the country ahead of the party's agenda.
There is also another case od Republicans finally coming to their senses and not jumping over the proverbial cliff like lemmings. Don't Ask Don't Tell has been debated in Congress all year, culminating in the proposal for the repeal of the discriminatory act in the Defense Authorization Act, the annual budget bill for the Pentagon. Initially the GOP threatened to filibuster it, but now the tables have turned. At least four Republican Senators have come out in support of repealing the act, including Lisa Murkowski, John Ensign, Susan Collins, and Olympia Snowe. That puts the vote count over 60 providing all the Democrats vote in favor. That is real bipartisanship. These Republicans realize that putting their country first (to pull an old John McCain campaign slogan) is more important than the party. I appluad them for this and hope for more to come in the future.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A Case for Reforming City Government

Disclaimer: This particular issue is centered around my town, but can be applied to anywhere that is facing the same issue.

This blog has been typically reserved for national issues, but something in my town has me really irked, I feel it needs to be heard. Just as with the Ferderal government, my city's government is run by a bureuacracy of bean counters who only look for ways to save money rather than what is in the public's best interest. My goal is to change all that.
There was a recent battle between City Hall and the local chapter of the International Association of Fire Fighters over staffing concerns at the city firehouses. The union was demadning an increase in the number of fire fighters at each house to better staff the engines in case of a call, which actually makes sense. In return, the mayor threatened to close a firehouse because he disagreed with the union. I don't know how many of you are familiar with Erie, but it's 28 sq/miles, not big, but also not small. At the time there were six firehouses, two of them dual engine companies with both a fire engine, and a ladder truck and a third had the water rescue unit. The mayor wanted to cut that down to 5 firehouses, but it wasn't clear which one would be closed as it didn't make any sense to close any. Eventually the agreement was to eliminate the dual fire houses and shut down one engine and one ladder truck. So as it stands, we have five engines and one ladder protecting the entire city, while six other fire engines and three ladder trucks sit idle because there isn't anybody to staff them. Of those idle trucks are five reserve trucks, two reserve ladder, and the engine and ladder that were shut down. We have more than enough apperatus to protect the city, but no men to staff them. And it was said response would not suffer, which I say is the biggest load of B.S. ever uttered. There was an auto accident about half a block from my house yesterday at a dangerous intersection without a traffic light (I will get into that later), and the fire engine that covers my end of town repsonded, but was tied up there for at an hour and half. Meanwhile, the entire southeast end of town is left to be protected by the firehouses that cover the south central and northeastern parts of town. But here's the rub, the one firehouse has the water rescue unit and the other covers the main road leading out of town. So if both of them had calls, then my area is screwed. My end of town is 80-90% residential and includes a college campus that has a couple thousands living there. We would be up not a creek but a river and not in a boat without a paddle but on a log, drifting aimlessly.
The reasons for all these cut backs is because in the current political climate, our mayor, like many other politicians, is afraid of raising taxes. But I have plan that can work and probably will face little opposition. Assess a $1 a week "public safety" fee on residential property taxes and $2-5 on business, depending on the size of the building. That could mean around $2 million for residential and $1.3-3.3 million from businesses. That is potentially $5 million dollars for the police and fire departments. But instead of being creative like that, the mayor continues to put the people who put him in office at risk.
Another part of the bureaucracy is the red tape one has to go through to get a stupid traffic light put up. A half a block from house is a very dangerous intersection, the one with the auto accident mentioned earlier. Two busy streets along with with a side street create a 5 way intersection that can be hard to maneuver through. There have been pushes for a traffic light for at least 30 years when my grandfather signed a petition for it. But because the fatality numbers aren't high enough, the city refuses to spend the money on it. Instead of looking at fatality, they need to analyze the number of accidents period because there are probably at least one a month there, if not more. It's infuriating how the almighty dollar takes precedence over human life.
These actions by the mayor and city council are unacceptable. But remember this, just as easily as we voted them in, we can vote him out. We did it to the mayor's predecessor, and we can do it to him.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Time for a sanity break

Every once in a while I find it healthy to take a break from the constant tug of war that is politics to post something either light hearted or non-political. This week will be about sports, specifically football, even more specifically my beloved Cleveland Browns.
The man you see here is Reggie Hodges, the punter for Browns. But you may be asking yourself, "Why is running in that picture?" That's because it was one of the best plays ever executed by the Browns special teams. In Week 7 against the New Orleans Saints, on 4th down and long in their own territory, the Browns set up to punt. Instead, Hodges takes the ball and runs for 68 yards down to the New Orleans 9 yard line, the longest run by a punter since the merger of the NFL and AFL in 1970. That play helped breath new life into the Browns when they went on to rout the Saints 30-17.

Everyone thought this was a fluke until yesterday's very decisive win over the New England Patriots. This win was important for many reasons. First of all it proves that Cleveland finally has the team and the QB to be competitive in the NFL. Second, it gave Browns coach Eric Mangini his first win over his mentor and former boss Bill Belichick. Thirdly, it gives the city of Cleveland renewed hope in their team. They might be only 3-5 for the season, but they are better than a lot of teams that were supposedly better than Browns, including the Denver Broncos and Dallas Cowboys. Even if the Browns only finish 8-8 this year, which I hope it's better than that, at it shows that there is progress being made in team and that the 2011 season will be very interesting in the AFC North Division.

History is about to be made *UPDATE*: History has been made

In case you haven't been following the unfolding saga with the midterm elections, it's far from over. That's because the final vote count isn't in from Alaska yet. Preliminary counts have the write-in choice out on top of Republican candidate and Tea Party favorite Joe Miller. It is presumed that all those write-in votes are for Lisa Murkowski, the incumbant who Miller defeated in the primary. But rather than pack up and retire, Murkowski made the bold choice to continue on fighting, launching the largest write-in campaign in over 50 years. The odds were against her as no one has ever won a write-in campaign for statewide office in Alaska and the last person to win a write-in campaign in the United States was Strom Thurmond in his run for Senate in 1954 after losing to the incumbant in the primary. The speculation for the Murkowski's success is because of a fear of Joe Miller. The Maddow Blog run by the Rachel Maddow Show is reporting that entire villages are going against the Tea Party candidate because of his "anti-everything platform". This is really telling because Alaska is the state produced the Tea Party Godmother Sarah Palin. Based on this interesting little fact, the Murkowski supporters might not even vote for Sarah Palin were she to get the GOP nomination in 2012. For her sake, she would be better off running a third party campaign under the Tea Party banner. But I digress. This race will definitely be one for the history books as a candidate defied her party to challenge the man who defeated her in the primary and turned around to defeat him in the general election. This is a once in a generation occurance, so don't look for it to happen again.

UPDATE: History has been made as the Associated Press has declared Murkowski the winner, the first person in over 50 years to win a national write in campaign.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

On Keith Olbermann

I'm sure as many of you know, a champion of the liberal and progressive cause, Keith Olbermann, has been suspended from MSNBC for breaking company policy when he made three separate campaign contributions last week before the election. NBC News policy states that making such contributions is against company policy unless you obtain permission from the company president. Keith didn't get such permission, so I admit he deserved a reprimand for that. But to indefinitely suspend him? I find that move a little extreme. I personally think this stems from an ongoing feud has had with the company president and the president finally had the opportunity to take it out on Keith. What the president of NBC News needs to realize is that without Keith, MSNBC is going to go downhill fast. Keith has the highest ratings on MSNBC and has single-handedly built up their primetime lineup, starting with Rachel Maddow and now includes Ed Schultz and Lawrence O'Donnell. Keith has also done a lot of humanitarian work, helping start the free clinics across the country with donations from Countdown viewers. I plead to MSNBC, bring Keith Olbermann back on the air. Your network needs him as does the progressive movement. He's the calm to Ed Schultz brashness. Visit this site to sign a petition to bring Keith back on the air. I have along with over 200,000 others. Thank you.

Post Script: I said this wouldn't last very long. Keith will be back on the air Tuesday according to the Huffington Post.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Oh the irony...

It's not often I post twice in one day, but being the day after an election prompts this. There has been much talk over the internet and cable news channels about your's and mine favorite half governor Sarah Palin. Now this might not seem like news but the difference is this time that the GOP wants to get rid of Sarah Palin. You heard it right, the Republican Party wants to kick their favorite campaigner out. The reason for this is two fold; Palin's endorsements of certain candidates cost the GOP from taking the Senate and that she doesn't stand a chance against President Obama in 2012 were she to get the Republican nomination.

It would appear that her endorsements have been the kiss of death for certain candidates. Christine O'Donnell in Delware was defeated easily, Sharron Angle was just narrowly defeated by Harry Reid and Joe Miller in her home state of Alaska as of right now is being defeated by write in candidate Lisa Murkowski, whom Miller defeated in the primary. Those three seats alone would have helped make it closer in the Senate, and along with a couple of other losses would have given the Senate to the Republicans. The other aspect of irony is even funnier. Word from various sources are saying that there is a movement among the GOP leaders to find a candidate that can topple Sarah Palin in the primaries. Politico reported that "There is a determined, focused establishment effort … to find a candidate we can coalesce around who can beat Sarah Palin," said one prominent and longtime Washington Republican. "We believe she could get the nomination, but Barack Obama would crush her." Of course Palin is going on the defensive calling this crap, but not naming anyone.

I understand her frustration, but she needs to realize that she has the political kiss of death, starting with the failed campaign of John McCain in 2008. Democrats laugh at her and Republicans shake their heads at her. She is not a viable candidate for national office and needs to realize that. But I love the irony that the GOP has finally realized it.

Congratulations to the Republicans

Last night was an eye opener not only for the Democrats, but for anybody who follows politics in general. The Republicans were able to make some gains in Washington, taking back the House of Representatives and closing the gap in the Senate. For that I congratulate them because they fought a long and hard battle to get there. But that is where my praise ends. The Republicans also fought dirty, skewing the facts and making it look as if the Democrats didn't get anything done, but I digress.
Republicans are now putting out their message of repealling Obamacare and extending all of the Bush era tax cuts, a very ambitious agenda. But there's one problem, the Republicans only control the House, the Democrats still control the Senate and the White House. Anything radical that passes the House will either get voted down in the Senate or vetoed by President Obama and the Republicans lack the 2/3 Super Majority to override a Presidential veto. So how does that look for you Republicans? Now you're forced to reach across the aisle to the Democrats to get anything done, unless you want to sit on your hands the next two years and blame the Democrats once again that nothing was accomplished. Except this time the public will ask the Republicans "What have you done?" Cue sad trumpet. Exactly. So Republicans, get on board the Obama train or else it will be a long two years to 2012.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Feelings on the election

Hello Folks,

This is your diabolic friend the Devil's advocate posting after a particularly long hiatus.

What I'd like to talk about is making a difference. As I write this, election results are still coming in throughout the country. I don't know about the rest of you, but the Election Fairy did bring me a few presents, and took away others.

This is one election that I have had a difficult time becoming enthused with. Is it that half of the things that the GOP campaign sent out about the Democratic Congressional Candidate were attacks on Nancy Pelosi? Not really. Would it be that the Democratic and Republican gubernatorial candidates reminded me of the Vote or Die episode of Southpark? That would be a big part. Though, on to more useful things like the upcoming diatribe.

I'm one of the many Americans that is presently not satisfied with the two party system that is the current state of affairs. While I'm not a fan of the Tea Party in general, I do like several aspects about them. Unfortunately the 'Tea Party Candidates," that tend to make national news have a few things in common, ignorance in their field of expertise is the most disheartening. Honestly, when you are making a major point of wanting to follow the constitution closely and contradict yourself in the next statement when talking about the 1st Amendment.... But I digress there. Another troubling feature would be the association of bigotry which is particularly disconcerting. What I do like about them is that they are shaking things up. They are changing the status quo for the Republican candidates. My personal wish is that both major parties begin to change their ways. I also am quite fond of the stance that many tea party members have of Issues over Parties.

I would wish to see actual liberals running for high office in the Democratic party. I would also wish to see actual conservatives running in the Republican party. As opposed to the Neo-liberal and Neo-conservative that seem to be the general rule. I would also wish to see the current political parties become less relevant in favor of more specific smaller scale parties.