June 01, 2004
The Spending of Soros
Newsmax.com has a piece on the recent admission of billionaire financier George Soros that he has already donated $16 million to various liberal groups who are actively seeking to defeat President Bush in November.
Financier Soros, who came to the United States decades ago with nothing and built an investment empire worth about $7 billion, has emerged as a primary backer of the Democratic Party.
So far, he's given nearly $16 million of that fortune to defeat Bush. But, he has vowed to defeat George Bush at any cost even if it meant spending his multi billion dollar fortune.
"I have come to the conclusion that the greatest contribution I can make to the values that I hold would be to contribute to the defeat of George W. Bush in 2004," Soros said in a recent interview from his Manhattan office
Obviously, donations of this kind violates the spirit of recently enacted campagin finance laws. However, Republicans should take such stories as a wake-up call. Polls indicate this will be a close election. Grassroots organizations, like the liberal America Coming Together, or ACT (Soros has donated approximately $10 million to support the efforts of ACT) could make a difference in this year's election. Conservatives need to be organized and active. If you are not already, get involved in a grassroots effort or volunteer for Bush. Let's keep J. Forbes Kerry out of the White House.
May 19, 2004
If you can't beat 'em, join 'em
It's not surprising that Republican leaders in Congress are encouraging conservative 527s, which Republican party leaders have argued should be illegal. (See this article in The Hill). After BCRA passed in 2002, the GOP leadership focused on raising hard dollar donations. If part of the goal of campaign finance reform is to make politicians talk to more people from diverse backgrounds then it succeeded. Until now. After the Democratic party and candidates opened the 527 floodgates, Republicans will likely find it easier to revert to fundraising from large scale donors. This hurts the purpose of BCRA, and our political process.
May 18, 2004
Building the Opportunity Society
Michael Barone notes that the Bush administration has recently moved away from its vision for an "ownership society," which includes more plans to increase home ownership, allow private investment of social security funds, and expand health savings account. I'm not sure Barone's criticism is fair. No one argues that these ideas are off the table, or the administration has lessened its support for any of them. Also, there are a few other things that the administration needs to talk about during those fleeting moments when it has the public's attention.
On the other hand, the Bush administration should do more to push for these ideas, many of which can be traced back to the days when Republicans were stuck in the minority on Capitol Hill. In the early 1980s, a group of aggressive young conservative members of Congress formed the "Conservative Opportunity Society," which was based on the idea that the federal government should do what it could to encourage self-sufficiency and entreprenuership. The blueprint for much of the GOP agenda from 1994 to the present was outlined by the group's founder, Newt Gingrich, in his book Window of Opportunity. The idea of an Opportunity Society is to reduce the role of government by making it easier for people to become self-sufficient. Othwerwise stated, policies should be enacted with the intention that they will make government programs unnecessary.
Some programs are useful toward this goal; others are not. When the Bush administration creates new drug entitlements and affirms wasteful spending, it is blocking the path to self-reliance for program recipients. If the administration were to push for other parts of its agenda (privatizing social security, for example), then it would be spending more money to allow Americans to become self-sufficient. While Bush is far more likely to build an opportunity society than J. Forbes Kerry, these parts of the agenda have so far gone unaccomplished.
May 15, 2004
Florida's Faith Based Experiment
AP has this interesting story about a faith-based prision in Florida. Lawtey Correctional Institution was transformed to a faith-based prision in December. It now holds 750 inmates. Critics of faith-based programs argue the initiative violates seperation of church and state. However, this program is completely voluntary, as inmates can chose to leave and return to a "regular" prision at anytime. In addition, this program does not promote the teachings of one particular religious denomination, as several denominations are represented.
The Lawtey prison, down a tree-lined road, is home to inmates from 32 different denominations, including Christians, Jews and Muslims. About half of the inmates identify themselves as Baptists, although there are 132 Roman Catholics, 11 professing American Indian religions and even three Wiccans.
Some of the programs include anger management, managing finances, overcoming addiction and resume preparation. Another key feature of the prison is a mentoring system that pairs inmates with people on the outside who can help them get over difficult times once on the outside.
To date, only 16 inmates have decided Lawtey wasn't for them and transferred.
In April, Florida opened a faith-based prision for women. Gov. Bush's attempt to try new, unique methods of reducing the recidivism rate is Flordia is commendable. Other states should follow suit.
May 11, 2004
Kerry skips critical Senate vote to campaign
If a person expects to be entrusted with leadership of the nation, showing up for important decisions - irrespective of one's stance on them or process of making them - is a prerequisite so basic that failure in this regard is almost incomprehensible. Regardless of what one thinks of extending unemployment benefits, the fact that John Kerry didn't show up
to voice his opinion on such a close vote is staggering. It really makes me question whether he's more serious about getting things done - whatever those things are - or just getting people to like him...
May 10, 2004
Civic Education Campaign Launched
The Carnegie Corporation of New York, and the Knight Foundation, recently announced the awarding of grants ($1 million from each entity) to support the recently formed Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools. The Center for Democracy & Citizenship at the Council for Excellence in Government and the Academy for Educational Development will manage this new initiative.
From the news release:
The core purpose of the Campaign is to change policy and practice at the state, local, and national levels so that considerably larger numbers of students have rigorous civic education experiences in their K-12 education. The Campaign will undertake a major advocacy effort directed to state and national policy-makers designed to implement key recommendations in the Civic Mission of Schools report (civicmissionofschools.org).
The state of K-12 civic education in this county is currently very poor. The recent focus on student testing in Math and English (as required by No Child Left Behind) has accelerated the decline of the teaching of civic education in our public schools. Thus, this effort to alter that trend should be applauded. The freqency in which a child is exposed to civic education, and taught the importance of civic enagagement, the more likely that child will become and remain one who is involved in thier community. It is refreshing to see national corporations and foundations advocating an increase of civic education.
May 05, 2004
Drivers Licenses for Illegal Immigrants?
Jeb Bush is backing a proposal that would provide illegal immigrants with drivers licenses. His rationale is: "We shouldn't allow them to come into the country to begin with, but once they're here, what do you do? Do you basically say that they're lepers to society? That they don't exist? A policy that ignores them is a policy of denial."
Four months ago Gov. Schwarzenegger repealed a law that would have allowed an estimated 2 million illegal immigrants in California to begin applying for drivers licenses.
Opponents of the law say it poses a threat to national security because there aren't sufficient background checks. Some also argue that providing licenses to undocumented immigrants rewards illegal behavior. Schwarzenegger has not ruled out backing a law with stricter guidelines.
Jeb Bush said he "would prefer to have our borders be secure, that we deport people when they are found to be here illegally." But he also adds that it is not state responsibility nor are they allowed to enforce immigration. He believes the document is the one thing "they need to be able to function."
Under the bill that Jeb supports, undocumented immigrants seeking licenses would be fingerprinted and required to show identification such as an employee ID card or taxpayer number. Consulates would have to provide criminal background checks for applicants. The licenses would only be valid for two years and could only be used in Florida, and those seeking them would have to prove they own or are leasing a car.
Considering that there are thousands of immigrants driving without a license in Florida who don't have insurance and who aren't educated in safety standards, it may be wise to give them the licenses in order to regulate and monitor them. This could help the anti-terrorism effort and enable the government to track who is coming into the country more effectively. This would mean though, that the system would have to work and work well. 9/11 was a perfect example of immigrants being granted licenses without being checked first. Without giving the illegal immigrants any option at all, the state is basically, as Jeb put it, "telling these folks to drive illegally."
May 03, 2004
Score One for the Little Guy
The goal of campaign finance reform wasn't just to take power away from the fat cats, but to return it to the American voter. Well, according to today's Washington Post, it appears voters are stepping up and participating - let me rephrase, contributing - more than ever.
...one of the most striking phenomena of the 2004 political campaign: the rise of the small donor. It is not just the amount of money flowing to Republicans and Democrats that is setting records this campaign season. The number of individuals who are giving and raising money, often for the first time, is unprecedented, too.
Once the domain of the stereotypical fat cat, campaign contributions are now flowing from deep within the grass roots. Driven by partisanship, technology and changes in campaign-finance laws -- the 2002 McCain-Feingold law banned large direct contributions to the political parties -- campaign cash has become democratized.
...The number of small donors to Republicans and Democrats alike has soared since the last election, according to an analysis of Federal Election Commission records by the Campaign Finance Institute, a nonprofit group in Washington. A third of the money given to the Democratic candidates in this election cycle was in amounts less than $200; in the 2000 election, only 17 percent of the contributions were that small. Bush has doubled his percentage of under-$200 donations, from 10 percent in 2000 to 20 percent this year. Over the same time, the percentage of $1,000-or-more donations to Bush has remained almost flat.
It's probably too quick to credit McCain-Feingold for all the good news - the article does point out the partisanship split in the nation and technology are also factors - but in this tense, bitter campaign season, it's nice to see that democracy itself has scored.
May 01, 2004
National Military Appreciation Month
May is National Military Appreciation Month. The Bull Moose Republicans would like to acknowledge all veterans and current members of the military, and thank them for their service to our country.
From the NMAM website:
As a nation, we observe and participate in various national cultural and social awareness events through mass media attention and educational curriculum. However, we have not allocated appropriate recognition of the most important presence in the world today, an entity that impacts each and every American in a significant way, the Armed Forces of the United States of America.
May 01, 2004
J. Forbes Kerry's Character
William Voegeli, a research fellow at the Claremont Institute, has an opinion piece posted entitled "Kerry's Character: Can we Trust This Man." Voegeli discusses the latest controversy surrounding Kerry and his act of throwing away medals and/or ribbions (and his truthfulness regarding this act). Voegeli contends that Kerry's problem may be Bill Clinton. He states:
There is a name for Kerry's credibility problem: Bill Clinton. Like Al Gore before him, Kerry works in the shadow of the master. Clinton's gift, or affliction, for making everyone he spoke to believe he had heard what he wanted to, never quite caught up with Clinton himself the way it did with Gore during the 2000 campaign and, now, with Kerry. The feeling, by journalists and voters, that they had been burned by Clinton's evasions has made it harder for subsequent Democratic nominees to get away with similar maneuvers. From "I didn't inhale," during the 1992 campaign to "It depends on what the meaning of 'is' is," during the Lewinsky deposition in 1998, Clinton left Gore and Kerry with empty reservoirs anyone who gave them the benefit of the doubt felt certain of being set up
Voegeli has an interesting view of Kerry's identity crisis--it is worth the read.
April 30, 2004
World War II Monument
Although the official dedication is still a few weeks away, the World War II monument opened
yesterday. Approximately 17 years since the original legislation authorizing the monument passed, it is a long overdue tribute to World War II vets and thier families. A WWII parade
is to take place in Washington on Memorial Day.
April 30, 2004
Fostering Civic Involvement
The Daily Press, a Virgina newspaper that serves the Hampton area, has a great story about the city's Youth Civic Engagement program, which places teenagers on community boards. This program has been recently nominated for the Innovations in American Government Award. It is refreshing to see a community reaching out to thier youth by encouraging them to become more active and civic minded. This seems like an excellent, innovative program which could be duplicated quite easily.
April 30, 2004
Andy Rooney, created controversy when, in a recent column, he stated that the soliders in Iraq "aren't heroes." He also stated:
Our soldiers in Iraq are people, young men and women, and they behave like people - sometimes good and sometimes bad, sometimes brave, sometimes fearful. It's disingenuous of the rest of us to encourage them to fight this war by idolizing them.
We pin medals on their chests to keep them going. We speak of them as if they volunteered to risk their lives to save ours, but there isn't much voluntary about what most of them have done. A relatively small number are professional soldiers. During the last few years, when millions of jobs disappeared, many young people, desperate for some income, enlisted in the Army. About 40 percent of our soldiers in Iraq enlisted in the National Guard or the Army Reserve to pick up some extra money and never thought they'd be called on to fight. They want to come home.
He continues by stating:
We must support our soldiers in Iraq because it's our fault they're risking their lives there. However, we should not bestow the mantle of heroism on all of them for simply being where we sent them. Most are victims, not heroes.
Oliver North, in an excellent column, counters with the couragous story of Lance Corporal Conyers, a marine injured in Iraq who chose to stay and fight with his squad, even though his injury was a ticket home.
Rooney makes the absurd deduction that because numerous soliders are Reserves or National Guard members, they do not want to fight for the liberation of Iraq. Our men and women in Iraq and Afganistan are freedom fighters who deserve to be treated as such. If Mr. Rooney doesn't think Lance Corporal Conyers is a hero, then one would have to question Rooney's definition.
April 29, 2004
The Chicago Boyz have a good post
about a proposed Florida law that would allow for government to condemn privately land "solely for the purpose of making it available to developers." Urban renewal is complicated stuff, and the government certainly has a role in opening the process up through effective zoning and the stripping away of red tape (perhaps even by being welcoming to businesses that want to employ people...but I will put away my Walmart hobby horse for a while), but to dole out "favors" to developers by stripping other citizens of their rights seems questionable. It's also proven ineffective and worse in the past. The primary example is from Detroit, where the city exercised eminent domain to take one of the few flourishing neighborhoods left in that city, Poletown, and turn it over for a auto factory. The results of this experiment in central planning were to say the least, unimpressive.
April 29, 2004
For Better and Worse
Weeks of relentless pounding on the war in Iraq, the worst month for allied casualties in a year, the book by Dick Clarke, the 9/11 hearings...and Bush's numbers are up. Dan Drezner makes heads of tails and explains why:
At this point, Kerry has to wonder whether he's in a parallel political universe. It seems neither logical nor fair that problems in Iraq should boost the president who sent U.S. troops there in the first place, while imperiling the challenger who voiced qualms about the invasion before it happened. But odd as this will sound, it's worth considering the possibility that failure in Iraq is helping Bush's reelection chances--and that immediate U.S. success in Iraq is Kerry's only chance to win.
This apparent paradox has more to do with Kerry than Bush. The Post/ABC poll showed that Bush's disapproval numbers on Iraq (54 percent) and terrorism (35 percent) have been climbing for the last four months, and are currently at their highest levels ever. The problem is not that Bush is unbeatable; the problem is that he seems unbeatable when compared to Kerry.