The New Democrat Online

Saturday, October 30, 2010

CBS News: Video: Evening News: Katie Couric: Return to Moderation?



Return to moderation?  As a liberal, I know exactly where I stand on the current issues of the day. I don't call myself an expert on anything.  Others can judge that for themselves.  I do know where I stand and I think my readers know that when I write about something I don't flip a coin to decide what my position is going to be or split the difference.  Nor do I look for a position that will offend the least. As someone who's not currently a politician, I have the freedom to say exactly what I think.

One of the things I love about blogging is that I can get all of the best available objective evidence before I make a judgement about what is in the best interest of the country, or whichever jurisdiction it is involved.  If it's an issue on which I'm confident that I'm well informed, such as civil rights, I can proceed without  further research.  I would like to think that the average politician operates in the same way but I have my doubts. 

When I'm considering voting for someone, especially for the first time, I'm not interested in a candidate who claims to be a moderate or centrist and says vote for me and I'll work for the best interest of the country, not possibly knowing what that could  be ahead of time.  Once in office, such politicians can take positions that come as complete surprises to their constituents.  I think voters have the right to know where candidates stand on the issues before they get to office.  After all, they're running to represent us. 

I especially don't respect politicians who claim to be moderates or centrists but vote like Liberals or Conservatives. They're centrists in their private lives but once it gets down to voting or governing their liberalism or conservatism comes out.  Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman  claims to be a centrist in public but its hard to tell the difference between him and Liberal Democratic Senator  John Kerry, one of my political heros, the "Northeast Liberal". The only issues they've disagreed on have been the Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Sen. Kerry is very proud of his liberalism and Senator Lieberman is not. 

Then there's Senator Arlen Spector who's admitted to being a Goldwater Libertarian Republican in the past,  "Government out of my wallet and bedroom," and that sort of thing.  On domestic policy, Senator Spector tends to be more progressive than Senator Barry Goldwater had ever been, especially in medical research and infrastructure spending.  Senator Spector woke up from a Republican nightmare just eighteen months ago, saw the light and decided to become a Democrat again, a liberal Democrat, I might add. (Perhaps it had something to do with getting reelected.)

Senator Spector has a progressive record on civil rights, civil liberties, women's rights (incluiding reproductive), and gay rights and is as much as a centrist as the current Pope is a Muslim. I mean who did he think he was fooling? Arlen Spector should've remained a Democrat for his whole career, especially, in a blue state like Pennsylvania. He could've been Governor of Pennsylvania if wanted to.

He, along with Ted Kennedy, voted against Robert Bork for Supreme Court Justice.  As a Pennsylvania Democrat, he would've never had to worry about a primary challenge from the far right and probably not from the far left either. 

I have more respect for Liberals, Conservatives, Libertarians, Social Democrats, Socialists, Theocrats, and Authoritarians than I have for Centrists.  With the former, you know where they stand on the issues, whether you agree with them or not. Two politicians for whom who I have some of the most respect are Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan, both Conservative Libertarians, because you knew where they stood and they were loyal to their principles.  They didn't take positions just for presumed political advantage.

Republican Senator Tom Coburn is a Republican for whom I have a lot of respect.  He is a true fiscal conservative, not someone who claims fiscal responsibility just because his party is out of power, but someone who's always been there.  I have a lot of respect for Liberal Democrat Jack Kennedy, even though he was a little late to the party on civil rights, but he finally made it.  He had clear liberal convictions on most issues.  I also have great respect for Jack's brothers Bobbie and Teddy.  They  were ahead of their big brother on civil rights.

I have a lot of respect for Liberal Democrat Sen Russ Feingold.  I desperately hope that he gets reelected on Tuesday night though it's not looking good for him.  Unfortunately his convictions are probably going to cost him his seat on Tuesday.   For Russ Feingold,  it's not about getting reelected. It's about doing what he believes is best for the State of Wisconsin and America.  Today, that might sound corny but it's true. The problem with Congress is not Sen Russ Feingold, it's that there are not enough Russ Feingold's who are willing to vote their convictions.  For a lot of members of Congress,  everything is about the next election. 

Does centrism have a place in politics?  I don't see it as a governing ideology. Could you imagine a  centrist as their party's nominee?  First of all, a centrist would never get the presidential nomination of the Democratic or Republican Party today. But, for a second imagine that did happen.  What would their campaign theme be? "Vote for me because I'm stuck in the middle trying not to get squashed?" 

The problem with Washington is not the lack of moderation.  The problem is a lack of bipartisan cooperation. Thats not moderation, thats combining the best from both sides of the aisle to make legislation that works.  We as a country have a long tradition of bipartisanship and we could use more of it today. What you get with moderation is splitting the difference.  A computer can do that and it's not Leadership.





Legalize Our Dream: Video: Legalization of Marijuana in Utah?




Utah probably has more registered Republicans, right-wing nuts and NRA members per capita than any other state in America.  You'd have a better chance of seeing a man with multiple wives there than an elected Democrat (sorry, bad joke).  The legalization of marijuana use (considered a capital crime by some Christian theocrats) is being considered by the State of Utah.  That is a sign that similar efforts in California should make headway and it's a message to the rest of America that it's time to rethink the War on Drugs.  Perhaps punishing people for what they do to themselves instead of what they do to others and treating them as drug dealers and career criminals is not the best approach to this problem.

I've made these points before so they might be as refreshing to read as a drivers manual but my argument hasn't changed.  Utah's exploration of marijuana legalization reinforces my argument so I'll take the time to make it again.

The prohibition of alcohol 80 years ago proved that if people want to do something badly enough they'll find a way to do it, regardless of the consequences.  If they can make a successful business out of it, it becomes doubly attractive.  That's one of the reasons prohibition was repealed. I believe that we should legalize marijuana and that let that be the end of it.  I'm not advocating the legalization of heroin or cocaine.  We should legalize marijuana with appropriate regulation and taxation designed to discourage, or limit, it's use.  We should treat marijuana the same way that we treat alcohol and tobacco, two legal drugs that both have negative health effects.

Junk food and drink, with their excessive fat, sugar, salt and caffeine are serious health hazards in America.  Obesity, which leads to deadly diseases, is caused by junk food and lack of exercise.  It is the 2nd leading cause of preventable deaths in America, right behind cigarette induced lung cancer.  Alcohol abuse is the leading cause of liver cancer.  All of you who drink, smoke, eat a poor diet and don't exercise and oppose the legalization of marijuana use should think about the choices you are making.  By the way, if you have all of these bad habits and stay the course, you'll have a hard time making it to the age of 60. 
  
Marijuana, used and grown without control in a black market in America, isn't a leading cause of any disease.   With legalization and regulation of use there would be control and record keeping for public health purposes.   Prohibition doesn't make attractive substances or go away.  We already have legal drugs in America that are killers but they're regulated to make them as safe as possible.  We can do the same thing for marijuana  We know it will be grown and used.  We should make it as safe as possible.