Saturday, March 12, 2005

Gerrymandering

Brian, I believe you are sadly mistaken about the proposed redistricting plan. Look, for instance, at a map of the 23rd Congressional District in California. This was highlighted in Friday's WSJ editorial section. The 23rd is a prime example of gerrymandering - that fun little term we all learned about in high school government class. The Gov. was right about this practice, referring to it as "a political elite building a fortress to keep the politicians in and the people out." Gerrymandering hurts elections, making them less competitive. As WSJ reminded me, in 2004 only seven incumbents lost in House races. I'm sure more than seven representatives deserved job relocation. Instead, the people are continually relocated into different districts - which often do not serve their interests in the best fashion.

Brian, the most interesting rebuttal to your accusation of Arnold's plan being republican political hackery would be this from WSJ: "Governor Schwarzenegger's proposal is especially notable because it may not even be in his own party's self-interest. California is a Democratic-leaning state, and the gerrymandering arguably locks in more Republican Congressional seats that the GOP could obtain in genuinely competitive races" (3/11/05 WSJ editorial).

The Legislature refuses to play ball, and now the Gov. will work to bring this to the people on the ballot. What could be more beautiful than that? The only thing better than the retired judges would be some computer formula, but with that you may run into certain ethical questions.

I am interested in getting the politics out of politics or, more aptly, government. I want to see squares, not snakes, in my Congressional districts. Fixing gerrymandering is a necessity to ensure reform of other fundamental problems in the future. Same goes with tax reform. Competitive elections, yielding better representation, is necessary for good policy in the future. It will yield people with fresh ideas, and beyond everything else, at least ideally, yield people who are truly public servants. Tax reform, comparatively, is needed first before good spending reform can be enacted. I really wish Bush would go with tax reform before Social Security. This is why I applaud Arnold. Do what is necessary Arnold, even if it means ultimately touching the state Constitution.

Here, a map of all California districts. Here, an interactive map of all US Congressional Districts.

Cuba

Fidel Castro has been a source of annoyance for the United States since his taking power in a coup of the Batista regime in Cuba. I have been completely immersed in a study of Castro over the past two weeks and I have been surprised by the findings I have come across. Castro really was not the great architect that he has been made out to be by the newspapers, professors, and others. All the biographies I read which are listed below show Castro as a man who did not always have a plan and when he did it was not well thought out. Castro always seems to be believing his own facts and not listening to anyone else. Raul Castro his brother is the only person who seems to have any influence and even he is kept at arms length. Che, Mirta, even the images of the revolution and the July 26th movement have all been brushed aside recently as Castro has realized his whole life has essentially been a sham. The moncada attacks which were a terribly misguided assault on a heavily armed barrack that Castro carried out in his initial revolution attempt which ended up with him in prison. Castro did manage to turn that trial into an effective show. Now despite what is said above Castro does have one very useful talent. The man can talk for hours on end about a subject and make a convincing argument. I found it interesting that Castro when he goes to make a speech removes his gun from his holster and sets it on the podium and gives a four hour talk. During his tenure as “maximum leader” he made many such speeches that convinced people of his ability to know what was happening.1 I would recommend that the future of Cuba will be very important and I think it is one county that once Castro is gone would be easy to save. Raul Castro is not the ideologue his brother is and it was primarily Che who convinced Castro to be a communist it could easily be a new society and helpful to the United States. The Cuban economy is in desperate need of repair and like the transition economies of Eastern Europe it can be done. Capitalism can heal the wounds inflicted upon this country as it did in Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, and Hungary. These countries rebounded very well and are moving into ascension of the European Union. This will be one of the most important issues in the next decade as Castro slowly fades into the history of Cuba.

Books
1. Fidel Castro by Robert Quirk
2. Guerrilla Prince by Georgie Anne Geyer (Highly recommend)
3. Fidel Castro: A Biography by Volker Skierka
For reading on transition economies “Comparative Economic Systems” by Paul Gregory

Governor Arnold

I have been wanting to post this since last Monday (still trying to recover from a bad case of the flu so I apologize if this does not appear coherent) on the governor of my former state. I was very pleased when Arnold was elected because it did mean an end to the political bull shit that had been occurring in the state before hand. I am not just referring to democrat bull shit but also the republicans who through partisan attacks had run the state into the ground. Arnold knew he had to fix the problems and he went to the people to fix them. He has stayed mostly clear of ideology and done what is necessary. That being said I am not in favor of amending the constitution and I think he needs to stay on the job fixing the state. I was disappointed by one part of his program which is clearly political crap at its finest. The redistricting of CA (by a bipartisan commission) is just a pathetic attempt by republicans to pick up seats which will not make a difference. The state is responding to its most powerful political figure Arnold who with his personality has taken the state. Pension, budget and education reform are all needed and his proposals on each are great. Returning sovereignty to the local education systems is incredibly important and I look forward to seeing it.

Tippecanoe and Condi, Too

Brian, that is an exciting bit of news. Here is the link to the Washington Times article. Condi confirms suspicions that many have had in that she's reluctant to run for elected office, as it's not really her style. I hope we can persuade her otherwise in a couple of years.

As for her libertarianism, I think the GOP could do worse than injecting a bit more of that into the party. Of course, I want nothing of it when it comes to foreign policy, but that's why I like Condi Rice. I would hope that her professed libertarianism on abortion would mean she supports letting the states decide their policies on that issue, although that's a more federalist than libertarian position. I know Mary wouldn't like this, but it's certainly better than Giuliani's refusal to oppose partial-birth abortion. I'm under the impression that McCain is more conservative than both Condi and Rudy on this issue, but I haven't really paid attention to his thoughts on that. I'm not all that interested in what he has to say beyond his menace to free speech.

Campaign Finance Reorm Must-Reads

The usual apologies and excuses apply. Things are have been particularly crazy and stressful for me lately. I'm hoping certain issues will be resolved in the coming week. No promises on how this will affect blogging, though. I can say for certain that my drop-off is nothing less than shameful. I note that we had some excellent blogging when there was some disagreement about 2008. I know I enjoy writing more when I'm actively arguing with someone so maybe we can try that a little more.

Those who know me or are readers (if there are any left) are probably aware by now the seething disgust I have for Campaign Finance Reform, and the particular chip on my shoulder about John McCain. Well, as I mentioned a little while ago, he and his friends are at it again and this time 527s and the internet are in the crosshairs.

This began about a week ago with an interview FEC commissioner Bradley Smith had with CNET, suggesting that yet another asinine ruling on McCain-Feingold requires the FEC to look at "internet communications" and what they might be contributing to campaigns. The blogosphere is rightly outraged about proposals on a further assault against free speech from McCain others. Michelle Malkin has a fairly comprehensive round-up of reaction. Both liberal and conservative bloggers seem to agree that this is outrageous, but I think Captain Ed has been the most informative and articulate opponent that I have read. Here is one of his explanations, followed by his must-read open letter to McCain and Feingold. He has an update today and links to Howard Kurtz's discussion of this issue in the Washington Post.

I also implore you to read Ryan Sager's expose on the big money and big names, such as George Soros, behind Campaign Finance Reform. This is why I don't think I could ever vote for John McCain, except maybe in the case of his opponent being Hillary Clinton.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Rice Running?

Well I know my fellow bloggers will find this with varying degrees of joy and sorrows. This appeared recently on the drudge report and I will put more up later on about it.

Rice pointedly declined to rule out running for president in 2008 on Friday during an hour-long interview with reporters at WASHINGTON TIMES, top sources tell DRUDGE. Rice gave her most detailed explanation of a 'mildly pro-choice' stance on abortion, she would not want the government 'forcing its views' on abortion... She explained that she is libertarian on the issue, adding: 'I have been concerned about a government role'... Developing late Friday for Saturday cycles... MORE...

Monday, March 07, 2005

Still Alive

Well my lack of blogging is once again appalling and I hope to be better soon. My internship search and honors thesis have been consuming my life but hopefully both will be coming to a close over the next two weeks. For those who have been taking my suggestions on history books to read I have two more suggestion. “Politics, Culture and Class in the French Revolution” by Lynn Hunt was an excellent book that was a treasure trove of primary sources in the way that people like Napoleon used the basic people of France to further their goals. It is a quick read and the bibliography is a great way to find primary sources. “Napoleon and the British” by Stuart Semmel is another good read about the interactions between Napoleon and the people of Britain. This is not a military history but a social history look which is well written and stays on point. Well anyway I hope to have much more interesting things up soon.

For those who are curious our fellow blogger Mary has made it safely to London and will be braving the dangers of Paris tomorrow. Pray for her!

Churchill

That video was disgusting... I shouldn't even be wasting my time on this. He has nothing of value to say, anyone with half the brain of a preschooler could have challenged him (apparently Maher doesn't qualify - you can say you disagree with him all you want but when it comes time to debate show it!). Just moronic.