Saturday, July 16, 2011

The birth of a nation: Libyan Repbulic

Last night, CNN reported that the United State has formally recognized the National Transition Council as the sole legitimate government of Libya (Link). Secretary of State Hilary Clinton made the announcement while in Turkey for a meeting of the Libyan Contact Group, a coalition of nations working on the Libyan crisis and a framework for a post-Khadafy world. This is a major step in our relations with the North African country as the civil war rages on and rebel led Libyan Republic continues to fight Khadafy’s forces. Clinton remarked that the rebels have continued to shown their legitimacy with their diplomatic dealings recently and that the United State felt the time was right. Not surprisingly though, Khadafy shot back. "Their decisions, meetings, recognitions and their statements are all under your feet -- trample on them. This is our answer to all the decisions they took against the Libyan people. You in America, Europe, Russia and everywhere, look! Look at the millions. Look at the Libyan people. More than 5 million people carrying the pictures of Khadafy are ready for jihad and for martyrdom." As for the rebels, Khadafy had this to say, "They must abandon their weapons and turn themselves in from Benghazi to Misrata to Zintan. We will not hold anyone who turns in his weapons accountable. If this does not happen, the march of millions will take place." This war will not end anytime soon, especially since Khadafy will fight to the death. This will not be like Tunisia or Egypt where the dictator stepped down after pressure. The rebels will need to make a serious assault on Tripoli in order to win.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The birth of a nation: South Sudan

Yesterday, we welcomed to the world our newest country, South Sudan, which officially ceded from Sudan after a referendum vote earlier this year that approved the measure. This effectively ends the civil war in Sudan between the Arab Muslims that control the government in the north and the African Christians and Animists in the south. There is still fighting about the exact borders, and the South Sudan faces problems such as a lack of currency and infrastructure, but to make up for it they sit on large oil reserves which will generate a lot of revenue for the country. Despite those challenges though, it is nice to see a new country form democratically in a region that is plagued by corrupt governments and dictators. South Sudan has been recognized by a handful of countries, including the United States and has alraedy opened an embassy in Washington. Sudan also recognizes the newly independent country by opening an embassy in the South Sudanese capitol of Juba. The United Nations will vote on the membership status of South Sudan later this month and the Arab league has offered full membership to the new nation. Salva Kiir Mayardit, a former leader of the rebellion against Sudan, was sworn as the new president yesterday after the new constitution was signed. I have to admit, I dig that guy's style with the black fedora. South Sudan, all of us here at The Young and Opinionated salute you and wish you nothing but peace and prosperity.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Debt ceiling nuclear option: the Constitution?

Oh the debt ceiling, the center of all political discussion and debate right now in Washington. But the strange thing is that was never the case in the past. When the debt ceiling was being reached before, Congress would just pass a bill to raise it. The Republicans had no problem doing it when they had control of Congress while Bush was in office, but suddenly since a Democrat is living in the White House, Republicans want to hold our nation’s economy hostage. They do this while threatening default unless some major cuts are made to programs that they hate, Social Security and Medicare and refusing to raise taxes on the richest 1%, despite the American people wanting to see taxes go up on the rich and even a group of millionaires wanting to see taxes go up for them (, Patriotic Millionaires for Fiscal Strength). The president has set a deadline of August 2 that the deal must be passed in order to prevent the government from defaulting on its obligations, but is it really necessary, is the debt ceiling actually legal? Not according to some political and constitutionally analysts.

Known as the “Constitutional option”, some analysts are saying that if a deal doesn’t pass that the President likes, he can invoke 14th amendment declaring the debt ceiling unconstitutional and just move on. It seems simple enough. Section 4 of the 14th Amendment states, “The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.” In other words, nobody can deny the debt of the country or place limits on it that would force the nation to default on the debt. It’s a daring option to pull and will without any doubt face some backlash from Conservatives, although it’s ironic since the Tea Party wing of the GOP pushes for a strict interpretation of the Constitution and to always defend it. Basically, the Democrats were able to out-Tea Party the Tea Party by finding something legitimate from the Constitution to argue with.

As with anything with the Constitution though, there is debate over whether this nuclear option can be used. Some scholars argue that the interpretation Democrats are using is not what was intended. If that’s the case, what was the intention then? No one really knows since none of us were there when this amendment was written after the Civil War. However, the Constitution is a fluid document as we have come to find out; it’s meaning changing with the times. There is also the argument that the Democrats intention with this option is taking the 14th amendment too far and out of context.

Should this option be used? I don’t see why not. The worst that can happen is that the Supreme Court strikes it down as unconstitutional. The best that can happen is that it blows Republicans’ plan to destroy entitlements out of the water and gives a huge victory to the Democrats, making them look like geniuses for outmaneuvering the GOP. Will it happen? We’ll have to wait and find out.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

"Fair and Balanced" my @$$

This morning at work, I was watching Fox and Friends on Fox News (not by choice, mind you, a coworker turned it on). I’ve been a strong critic of Fox News, especially since they claim to be “fair and balanced,” but I figured I would give them a fair shot before completely knocking them down. Fox and Friends tried to blend two different formats together, basically the feeling of the Today Show with the commentary of Morning Joe. It seemed pretty good, that is until after 15 minutes of watching Steve Doocy went in to a rant about how the media watchdog group Media Matters is “trying to take down Fox News” and should lose their tax exemption because of that. The evidence to support that claim is that Media Matters does thousands of stories about Fox News while only a handful about NBC, ABC, and CBS News. There’s a couple simple reasons behind that, it’s because Fox News isn’t news and their bias is so strong that nothing can be taken as truth over there and that the other three networks mentioned only do nightly news programs, so they have very little if any bias on the reporting. Granted NBC News does have MSNBC, but that network wasn’t mentioned specifically, same with CNN. Plus, MSNBC doesn’t try to pass itself off as a network devoted to news, especially since their slogan “The place for politics.” It’s quite obvious they’re a news AND commentary network.

I mentioned earlier that Fox claims to be “fair and balanced” which is far from the truth; Chris Wallace even admitted that it wasn’t true when he interviewed Jon Stewart. Wallace said that Fox covers the other side of the story, implying they have their own bias. Insert a big “duh”. All you need to do is watch Fox and Friends or anything in the primetime lineup like O’Reilly or Hannity to figure that out. Gretchen Carlson went on to defend the “fair and balanced” banner by saying that during 2008 presidential campaign, out of all the networks, Fox had the most even distribution of positive and negative comments about John McCain and Barack Obama. I highly doubt that’s true unless she was implying that for every good thing they said about McCain they said something bad about Obama. And granted, the other networks laid into McCain, but how could they not because as Keith Olbermann says about Palin, “that woman is an idiot,” but that’s a discussion for another day.

My point , or rather points, are that 1) Fox “News” needs to cut the “fair and balanced” crap out because it’s clear that they’re biased and their commentators even admit it and 2) they just need to grow up and quit complaining that a watchdog group is going after them. When you say something is fact and is then proven false, you need to own up to that and admit you were wrong, and not whine about it. Nobody takes a whiner seriously, except for other whiners. I hope to see the day that Fox “News” is completely exposed for the fraud that it is and is shut down. In the mean time, they should change their logo to this:

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

GOP candidates: Duke 2012

No, Beau and Luke Duke are not running for president. Rather, David Duke, former Grand Wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan is mulling a run for president under the Republican Party, with Tea Party support. That’s right; a white supremacist wants to run against our first African American president. Coincidence? I think not. There is something sick about this that I can’t even put this into words. If Duke does announce his candidacy, this will turn the crazy dial up to bat-shit level. Once the formal announcement is released, I’ll do further analysis on this views and past.

Monday, July 4, 2011

We declared independence from Great Britain in 1776?

Every year Marist does a poll to see how much Americans know about the day we became our own country. And as is the current trend, Americans don't know jack about the history of their own country. When asked what country we declared independence from, 76% said Great Britain, 19% didn't know, and 5% listed a different country. When broken down by age, only 67% of those 30 years old and younger knew the right answer. When asked about the year we declared independence, only 58% correctly said 1776, while 26% didn't know and 16% gave a different year. When broken down by age, only 31% of those 30 and younger knew. This makes me worried and sick. This only proves that history needs more focus in school because as Winston Churchill said, "Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it."

Happy Independence Day!

From all of us here at The Young and Opinionated, we want to wish you a safe and happy Independence Day. And for your enjoyment, here is the document signed 235 years ago that granted us freedom in the first place.

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Say What?! Bachman economics

It seems like with this current field of GOP candidates, that I have infinite material to work with, and today proves no different. Michele Bachman, the woman who can’t get basic American history right is at it again, this time failing Economics 101. ThinkProgess reports that at a campaign rally, Bachmann made the ultimate in gaffs, saying that $1 today should be equal to $1 in 1911. You need to see this to believe this:

The shorthand way of describing to you what quantitative easing is is a license to print money without any value behind it…In the last two years of the Obama administration, if you pull a dollar out of your pocket, you have lost 14 percent of the value of that dollar. That means the federal government has stolen that money from you… They’ve been printing essentially valueless money and flooding it into the money supply. I don’t stand for that. A dollar in 2011 should be the same as a dollar in 1911. A dollar should be worth a dollar.

I seriously thought she couldn't get any dumber. As the article at ThinkProgress notes, because of natural inflation, $1 in 1911 equals $23 today. Even her argument to go back to the gold standard is null because gold prices fluctuate because of inflation, with prices being at record highs right now. And to blame the president for inflation is absolutely absurd. Inflation always happens, its part of the economic cycle. It happens based on market conditions, not because of one single person. If that was the case, don’t you think the president would change that?

The scary thing about Bachmann is that while she is an idiot when it comes to economics and history, she can make a very convincing argument and is very well articulated. People can take her seriously as opposed to Palin, who you can’t take anything she says seriously. Hopefully people can see through the smoke and mirrors and realize that Bachmann is as bad as Palin.

This isn't your grandfather's GOP

What’s this, two posts in one day?! That’s right, there’s so much good stuff to write on that I thought I would post more than once today.

We’ve all heard the phrase “this isn’t your father’s Oldsmobile,” the failed advertising campaign General Motors used in the late 1980s to revitalize Oldsmobile from its old-man image. The same can be said for the Republican party, it’s definitely not your father or grandfather’s GOP. With the current crop of presidential hopefuls, Congressman, and governors, the old stalwarts of the party are rolling in the graves. This year marks the 150th anniversary of the first Republican President, Abraham Lincoln. But instead of embracing the great presidents such as Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, and Dwight Eisenhower, they like to put all their political stock in Ronald Reagan.

President Lincoln, facing fierce opposition from southern Democrats, put morals ahead of so-called public interest and freed the slaves, after fighting a fierce war to preserve the country after the south decided to secede and start a military campaign. Teddy Roosevelt, an environmentalist and outdoorsman, saw fit to preserve nature and established the National Parks system, so that everyone could experience what nature had to offer. Dwight Eisenhower, facing mounting debt from WWII and the Korean War, put aside his own ideology and kept Social Security in place, recognizing that while it went against his political views, it was a widely popular and successful New Deal program. He also saw the need to keep up with the rest of the world and authorized the formation of the nation’s first interstate highway system and the creation of NASA, so that we wouldn’t fall behind the Soviets in the space race.

Instead, what we have today is a GOP that doesn’t care about morals. They don’t care about giving everybody in the country affordable health insurance because they’re in the pockets of the health care industry and Big Pharm. They don’t care about saving the environment, as proof of the BP oil spill, fracking, and the constant pleas to continue drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and to open up the Alaska Wildlife Refuge and the Great Lakes to oil and gas drilling. All they care about is once again the money since they’re also in the pockets of the energy industry, mainly Big Oil. And they also don’t care about infrastructure or saving popular programs. Republicans have constantly stalled President Obama’s plans for a nationwide network of high speed rail lines that would rival the ones in China. This would enable people to travel across the country in record time and save money. They have also stalled the president’s plans to overhaul our interstate highway system, especially the bridges that are in dire need of repair. Finally, the Republicans are still trying to destroy Social Security and Medicare. Why is that? You guessed it, because they were programs started by Democrats, Presidents Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson respectively.

If the afore mentioned presidents were still alive today, they would be shaking their heads at what their party has become. In fact, the party has changed so much since Eisenhower that my grandfather, a lifelong Republican, switched his affiliation to Democrat 5 years ago, unknown until recently to my family. So at 80 years old, my grandfather realized that the GOP didn’t stand for what it used and realized that while still conservative, the Democrats were his real party. If the GOP keeps this up, they won’t exist 50 years from now.

Election 2012: Thaddeus Who?!

In case you missed it this weekend, Thaddeus McCotter, Republican Congressman from Michigan entered the race for the Republican nomination to challenge President Obama next Fall. Who is Rep. McCotter? I asked that very same question when Rachel Maddow reported on this Friday night on her show. Take a look:

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

This man has the personality of a kumquat, he makes Tim Pawlenty look like the most charismatic man on earth. And yet he is running for president. And what is with that comment on how conservatism is the absence of ideology? He can’t be serious, conservatism is an ideology, not the lack there of. In fact, reality has a known liberal bias, so conservatism is the opposite of that. As Rachel said, he will make an interesting addition to the field already filled with nut jobs like Michele Bachman, Herman Cain, Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich. It seems that with every new addition to the race, the front runner Mitt Romney looks better and better. In fact, with each new candidate that comes out from the fringe, Romney is closer to securing the nomination, without any primaries yet. As crazy as it might sound, with so many Tea Party and ultra-conservative candidates in the race, it will split that vote, leaving all the sensible moderate Republicans in Romney’s camp. Either this is pure genius, by putting so many fringe candidates into the mix it will give the nomination to the best candidate, or it’s pure stupidity, that all these people think they have even a snowball’s chance in hell of defeating a sitting president. As more about McCotter comes out, I'll keep you informed about him and the other candidates. I have a feeling we're not done yet with new candidates, something tells me I'll soon be writing about former half-term Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and/or Texas Governor Rick Perry.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Happy One Year Anniversary

That's right, this blog as been up and running for a year already, and it has been a busy one at that. It only stands to get better as the 2012 election cycle gets underway, so stay here for all your political coverage and commentary.