Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Republican Party Establishment v. the Democratic Party Establishment

For the past few years, I've been ruminating on the differences between the Democratic Party Establishment and the Republican Party Establishment, and since I'm foolishly seeking to avoid writing a brief right now, I might as well write up my thoughts.

To understand the Parties, we have to understand history. When the country began, the Democratic Party establishment came from the farming elites, and the Republican Party Establishment came from the merchant elites. By the time of the Civil War, agricultural elites were outpowered by the merchant and industrial elites, and so the Democrats took to broad-based support to match the Republicans. But building a broad base takes time, and it wasn't until the 1930's, when the agricultural elite was more or less dead, that the Democrats were able to combine labor unions, African Americans, immigrants, liberals, and farmers to come to power.

In response, the GOP took to building its own broad base of support, but ultimately couldn't find a particular issue until the 1960's and 1970's - abortion and civil rights - to get the kind of broad-based support it needed to take power. In the meantime, the bottom-up organization of the Democrats was amazingly disorganized, and Democrats were pushed too hard to the left by their base.

As a result, the modern conservative movement developed and took power. In response, the Democratic Party Elites began pushing back against the base, leading to the famous "Sister Souljah" moment by Bill Clinton, and thus, began the sport of "hippie punching."

I mention all of this because right now, I see the GOP as falling into the trap the Democrats fell into during the 1970's. That is, because the Party is so well connected to its grassroots, and thrives on them, that no Republican who wants to hold power will ever have a "Sister Souljah" moment. There will be no teabagger punching.

Additionally, Rupert Murdoch found that inflaming the base = money. Not some money, but a whole shitload of money. And right now, the crazier the conspiracy, the more money there is to be made. In short, the mechanisms used by the GOP to communicate with its base has found other, more profitable lines of work - stirring up crazy shit.

On the Democratic side, the opposite is true - rather than listen to the base, the Party elders think that we're completely fucking nuts, and instead listens to the D.C. cocktail circuit. And here's the problem - the D.C. cocktail circuit has its own agenda of elitism, lack of acrimony and well, more cocktail parties. A good example of this was health care reform. For months, Obama tried to get Republican support for health care reform, something that every liberal blogger in America pointed out was never going to work. Instead, almost everyone pointed to using reconciliation. Surprisingly, the Republicans en masse reject health care reform, and the Democrats use reconciliation to pass the law. Ugh.

So what happens now? Honestly, I don't know. On the Republican side, there's simply too much money to be made by stirring up the crazies. As a result, politicians like Michele Bachman and Sarah Palin are going to get a lot of airtime by the right-wing media. The saner elements of the GOP are either going to be pushed into the Democratic Party (Colin Powell, Arlen Specter), or are going to be pushed away entirely (Lincoln Chafee, Charlie Crist). The whole vortex is self-sustaining.

On the Democratic side, I don't see an end to the hippie punching from Obama, particularly with his recent decision to allow offshore drilling. But other Democrats, like Alan Grayson, may have figured out that playing to the base means easy fundraising. At this point, I'd like to ask Bogart what he thinks.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Being a Lawyer is Sometimes Cool. . .

Being a lawyer is pretty cool because you immediately know more than the general public about stuff. And the recent lawsuits or threatened lawsuits over HCR allow me to speak up about the one Constitutional law topic I really, fundamentally, understand better than most: standing.

You see, in order for any federal court to allow a lawsuit to proceed in its courtroom, there has to be a case or controversy - which is defined as the loss of money, property or freedom, or the imminent threat of money, property or freedom. This can result in some interesting results. For instance, in Poe v. Ulman, the plaintiff challenged the constitutionality of Connecticut's anti-contraception statute. The Supreme Court kicked the case because no one had ever been prosecuted under the statute, and so there was no imminent threat. So, a woman and a D.A. got together, agreed that the DA would prosecute her for using contraceptives, and that's how Griswold v. Connecticut was born.

Anyway, with regard to HCR, several state AG's are suing the Feds over the provisions of HCR, including the individual mandate, wherein citizens can be penalized for not having insurance. The problem for the AG's is that states can OPT OUT OF HCR. All they have to do is set up their own health care system. You can't sue Best Buy for charging $600 for a TV that you don't have to buy.

As far as the individual mandate is concerned, the only person who's going to lose money/property is someone who's not going to buy health insurance in 2014. So, while the law is up for a legal challenge, that provision of the law can't be challenged until 2014 - because no one in their right mind, and no Court for that matter, is going to commit to not having health insurance four years from now. So, for those of you who want to end HCR, or at least the individual mandate, you're going to have to wait.


As this article indicates, the penalty doesn't go into effect until 2016, and there are no authorizing provisions to go after someone for not paying the penalty. So, for purposes of standing, the earliest that someone can bring a lawsuit is 2016, but only if some adverse action has been taken against him or her, which, because no criminal charges or liens can be used to collect the penalty means that basically, no one has standing.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Not Pearl Harbor: Even More Thoughts on HCR

The Health Care Reform (HCR) debate has been rattling around in my head all day today, as you can tell by this record output. Anyway, I have a couple of thoughts on HCR that deserve attention.

1) The Pearl Harbor Analogy is off Lindsey Graham, Senator from South Carolina, referred to the HCR vote as Democrats drinking sake in preparations for Pearl Harbor. . .and obviously I think this is a bad analogy. The Health Care Reform bill(s) weren't designed as gambits to destroy a potential threat, but rather, they are the first step in reforming health care services in this country. Accordingly, the GOP and their allies weren't protesting the parts of the bill (which were vague), but rather, they were protesting the idea of health care reform in any way, shape or form.

In other words, they were trying to prevent the Democrats from establishing a beachhead. Thus, its completely possible that Congress could take up the public option (or, as I like to refer to it, the Medicare buy-in) in the future. After all, with a bill this big, you're going to tweak it over the years. So, really, the better analogy is establishing a beachhead on Normandy.

2) Nancy Pelosi deserves a lot of credit Someone, somehow, found some spine on the Democratic side, and from most accounts, it was Nancy Pelosi. After Scott Brown won in the Massachusetts Senate race, everyone thought HCR was dead, and the Democratic centrists were pushing an incremental approach. At that moment, essentially said, "Fuck that," pushed for reconciliation, and put most of the deal together, and delivered the votes.

3) Obama became a leader of the Democratic Party While Pelosi worked her ass off to get the votes, Obama crystallized the cause to a lot of House members. At one point, he told Democratic lawmakers to look back and ask themselves why they became Democrats to begin with. In that way, the Democratic Party is going to be defined for the next 20 years by this legislation, and by Barack Obama as President.

For me, this goes beyond the terms of the typical debate. For the first time in a long time, the Democratic Party, as a whole, stood up for something, and spoke with one voice. They didn't just sign onto the bill, but they signed onto the very reason for the bill's existence, even if doing so meant electoral defeat. Not only did they pass the bill, they were proud to do it. Bill Clinton, for all of his skills, could never do that.

That's what makes Barack Obama so different from any Democratic President we've had in a long, long time. He doesn't want to follow public opinion, he wants to shape it, and it was through HCR that Obama learned how to be a President.

More Thoughts on Health Care Reform

I've been thinking about health care reform for a long time, but last night, when I mentioned that the bill had passed, my roommate asked a pertinent question - so, what's in the bill? I mumbled something about preexisting conditions, and then quickly looked it up. This was followed by a CNN report today that said, essentially, now that the bill is passed, what's in it?

This lead me to think more and more about the paradox of polling for health care reform - the words "health care reform bill" poll, at best, around 50-50. But if you take the individual components of the bill, each polls highly. Furthermore, if you talk to tea partiers about the bill, they describe a bill that simply does not exist - a huge government takeover of health care, replete with death panels.

So here's what I think is going on - the Progressives were disgusted with that health care reform didn't go far enough, Centrists hated the process by which health care reform was passed, and Conservatives hate the very idea of health care reform. And so long as the words "heath care reform" are used, the process overwhelmed the policy.

They Finally Did It. . .

I actually had no real plans to write anything tonight, but one of my neighbors held control over the laundry room until late, and I am drying my sheets now. But since I am up, I figured I should comment on the passage of health care reform. So without further ado, here are my thoughts:

1) I actually have little idea what's in the bill. I do know that insurers can't fuck people over preexisting conditions, can't pull the recission bullshit, and nonprofit co-ops can be set up in all fifty states. Outside of that, I am not sure of everything in the bill. Oh, wait, no aid for immigrants, and no publicly funded abortions.

2) The Democrats finally showed some spine. What's amazing here is that this is probably the first bill that was passed without a single Republican vote. In the face of truly ridiculous Republican opposition (to the point the Republicans were just making shit up, i.e. "Death Panels"), and so-so polling, and the fact that every Democratic Administration since Truman tried to pass some kind of health care reform, the Democrats sacked up. To be honest, I didn't think they had it in them.

3) The Republicans overplayed their hand. On a purely political note, the GOP strategy for defeating health care was brilliant, and they masterfully played the Democrats against each other. HCR was even polling badly (of course, if you told people what's actually in the bill, it polls a lot better). They, by all rights, should have won this one, but suddenly, the Democrats showed spine they didn't know they had. That said, the Republicans overplayed their hand yesterday. Calling John Lewis, a civil rights activist from the 50's, the "n-word," and calling Bart Stupak a "babykiller" only got the Democrats mad. The townhall storm of the summer was also ridiculous.

4) The Public Option is dead-ish. Its too bad that the public option didn't make it. That said, not having the public option in the final bill means it can come back later, and much cleaner.

5) I have no idea what the political ramifications of this bill will be, and neither does anyone else. For the first time, the Democrats can point to doing something unpopular for the good of the country - this couldn't be further from the Clinton days. Plus, the measures within the health care reform bill will be popular. At the same time, the opposition is totally and completely nuts. Anything is on the table here.

So what are the lessons to be learned? Having a spine is a good thing, and let's hope for the good of the country, these reforms will work.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

On the Catholic Church, Pedophilia and Other Sundry Observations. . .

Before I get too far into this post, let me first start by saying that this post has absolutely nothing to do with Catholicism the religion. I like the rituals, the legalism, salvation by way of works, and the deeply thought out logic. But I dislike the mechanisms of the Church, and its constant need to excuse its horrific behaviors. The Inquisition, the Catholic-Protestant wars of the Counter-Reformation, and the Crusades are all examples of this.

Unfortunately, the sexual abuse of children appears to be another example of where the Church goes off the rails. For years the Catholic Church has hidden or protected priests that raped hundreds, if not thousands of children, in both the United States and in Europe. The latest scandals have even reached as high as the Pope, who, during his stint as an Archbishop, oversaw the transfer of a priest to another parish after the priest forced a ten-year old boy to service him (that's as far as I'm going to go with my explanation).

Even Ireland is furious with the Catholic Church over the scandals there. Ireland, whose native sons reconverted much of Northern Europe after the fall of the (Western) Roman Empire. Ireland, which held onto Catholicism despite centuries of oppression at the hands of the British for being Catholic. So, if the Irish have a problem, there's a problem.

At the heart of this problem is that priests are increasingly hard to come by. Parishes that used to have 5 or 6 priests now have 1 or 2, if that. So, the Church, when facing a pedophile priest, would rather let that priest continue to molest children than defrock him because priests are so valuable and rare. In comparison, the Episcopal Church turns priests away because they have too many.

So why are priests so hard to come by? Well, the answer, of course, is sex. The vow of celibacy keeps a lot of people away, and the problem is exacerbated by two factors: 1) life expectancy has doubled in the past century (thereby increasing the amount of time a priest has to live in celibacy); and 2) gay men can live openly as gay men and so they don't have to be "celibate" to live relatively normal lives. Unfortunately, these trends are going to continue, and the Church is going to continue to have a harder and harder time recruiting priests. Oh, and the perception that priests are pedophiles isn't going to help matters either.

If the Catholic Church wasn't so wrapped up in defending itself, there is a lot it can do to reverse these trends. First of all, celibacy among priests is NOT doctrinal. For the first 1000 years of the Church's existence, priests, bishops and popes could marry and have children. The Eastern Orthodox Church, which differs from the Catholic Church doctrine in just two ways (the Supremecy of the Pope, and the whether or not the Holy Spirit is descended from the Father and the Son, or just the Father), has always allowed priests to marry. Simply put, there is no reason Pope Benedict cannot end the celibacy vow today.

Second, the Church needs to realize the pedophilia scandals are much, much bigger than it thinks. To this, I think the Church can use its institutional power to its advantage. The Pope can issue a rule that requires any priest who molests a child cannot receive absolution unless he confesses to the local police. He can also direct Catholic hospitals and psychiatrists to treat all victims of molestation free of charge. He can express outrage and sympathy for the victims, and he can beg forgiveness for his part in the matter (before he became Pope, and thus, infallible).

Will the Church do this? Probably not, and that's a real shame.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Changing Democratic Politics. . .Finally

Peter Beinart, in the Daily Beast, writes about the recent change in Democratic politics since Scott Brown won the Massachusetts Senate Seat. The article, a good one, is found here. I do think Beinart overuses the phrase "superjumbo" but its otherwise a good article.

Still, I think it misses the mark somewhat. Democrats held power for almost sixty years by being effective coalition builders. Even to this day, the Democratic Party is a jumble of union workers, African Americans, Latinos, and liberals. The problem with this coalition, is that there is no unified political ideals. As a result, Democrats end up looking weak and beholden to the special interests within their own party.

Now, its true that by 1979-1980, people were fed up with liberal politics and wanted to open things up a bit, economically at least. And the DLC certainly played up to that during the 1990's. But what this article doesn't mention, and really should, is that in the interim, the Republican Party changed as well. The grassroots conservatives began taking over the leadership positions and the GOP moved to the right - too far to the right, in my humble opinion.

What drove me nuts was the failure of the DLC and the Democratic Party Establishment during the 2000's to see what was unfolding. Rather than chase the GOP to the right, the Dems should've stayed where they are, if not move a little bit to the left. Instead of coalition building, state a set of principles and stand by them. This is what guys like Joe Lieberman and Evan Bayh don't understand.

With HCR finally

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Wherein I Mess With Texas. . .

Thanks to the liberal online media, I've been following the Texas Board of Education's atrocity of rewriting its textbooks to reflect their conservative principles. While I am willing to accept certain changes with a minor bit of grumbling, the choice to take out Thomas Jefferson and the philosophy of the Enlightenment needs some comment. So, allow me to speak up on behalf of my fellow William & Mary alumnus.

Simply put, the philosophy of Thomas Jefferson and of the Enlightenment is the philosophy of America. Freedom of speech, religion, and the inalienable rights of man for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness all stem from this line of thought. We continue to celebrate these values every single day, and it is these values that have made America great. Our greatest atrocities all stem from when we walk away from our values (slavery, Japanese internment, McCarthyism, torture, etc.) Moreover, and with all due respect to John Calvin, no one believes in predestination anymore.

And so here is where I mess with Texas - for the past several months, conservatives in Texas have flirted with the idea of seceding from the United States, and now, they changed their textbooks stripping the very political philosophy upon which America was founded. As a patriot, I am outraged. This isn't just a repudiation of Thomas Jefferson, this is a repudiation of America. So, to you in Texas, let me say this - if you don't like America, if you don't like what it stands for, leave. Get the fuck out of my country. But you're not going to take Texas with you. That's ours.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Why the "War on . . ." is Stupid: Combatting Demand Side Problems with Supply Side Solutions

Warning - this blog post is going to be esoteric, and if you don't understand economics, you might get lost.

For the past thirty years, the U.S. has fought "wars" on drugs, terrorism, and illegal immigration. Each time, some politician gets up on stage, makes some kind of pronouncement and we end up spending billions of dollars without anyone taking the time to think if these strategies work. And, for the most part, they don't.

The problem, as I see it, is that politicians use the wrong strategy for dealing with a societal issue. Let's take the War on Drugs, for example. Drugs like heroin and cocaine are dangerous, addictive drugs that destroy families and threaten the fabric of our society. So, in response to this threat, politicians seek to destroy the supply of drugs by making them illegal to sell, possess and use. Additionally, the military and militaristic police forces arrest drug dealers and destroy whatever drugs they can find.

But after thirty years of fighting this war, drugs are still available, still used, and still destroy families. Worse yet, drug cartels have responded to the use of the military by becoming militarized themselves. Northern Mexico is now basically a war zone. Moreover, where drugs like cocaine and heroin are unavailable, people have switched to meth or prescription drugs. It is as if we are dogs chasing our tails.

The reason for this condundrum is that while we are attacking the supply of drugs, we are not attacking the reason why people use drugs in the first place. People like taking drugs because drugs are effective in providing a short-term escape from life. Because of this fact, drugs have a limitless supply, as people can shift from one type of drug to another.

With terrorism, its the same thing. The initial response to terrorism is to kill all terrorists. Okay, that makes sense, but presupposes there is a finite number of terrorists. The problem is that if the methods of killing terrorists inflame the populace, the number of terrorists and potential terrorists becomes so high that its impossible to kill all terrorists. Look at Israel and Palestine - after 40-50 years of warfare, the Palestinians are so inflamed that terrorist organizations were able to use suicide bombers - throw away terrorists - to carry out attacks. Its entirely possible that Hamas killed more terrorists through suicide bombing than Israel did through conventional methods. The supply side solution is impossible to achieve because the demand is such that supply is infinite.

The same can be said for immigration - making migration from Mexico into the U.S. actually spurred immigration because migrant workers could no longer go back home and immigrated instead.

Now, I'm not saying that there's no supply-side solution. Osama bin Laden should be brought to justice, for instance, and no one cries over the dead body of Pablo Escobar, but a War On. . .is just plain stupid.

By the way, in the case of Escobar, and more importantly, Medillin, the solution to the Colombian drug wars was both supply-side (fight drug cartels) and demand-side (economic development). As a result, Colombia is currently flourishing.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Health Insurance Companies, Torture, and Eric Massa (Random Thoughts Blogging)

Rather than go into an introductory rant, here are my thoughts about a few things going on in the world today:

Insurance Companies Hate Being Vilified
In the health care reform debate, Insurance companies are wondering why they are being vilified by the left. In some respects, this is a fair complaint because health insurance companies are simply maximizing profit, which is what all corporations are supposed to do. Are these companies acting any differently than Ford, WalMart, Apple, or even my law firm? Not really.

At the same time, there is a huge difference between normal corporations and health insurance companies. First, health insurance companies are legal monopolies. So, if Apple decides to price itself out of the bargain computing market, people who want computers have a competitor to go to. In health care, this doesn't happen. Second, if a consumer is unable to purchase an Apple, they do without a computer, if they are unable to purchase insurance (and they get sick), they die. This, understandably, leads to bad press. So while I understand where the insurance companies are coming from, they did choose this business.

Lawyers and Torture:

So Liz Cheney, in addition to promoting the use of torture, is attacking lawyers who represented terrorists. This is a very, very bad idea, and she has been chastised by other conservatives. But they don't write on this blog, so here's my two cents:

The role of lawyers in Anglo-American jurisprudence is to be the figurative champion for the client, fighting with words and logic instead of with swords and axes (which is how things were done back in the day). The whole idea is that both sides get champions, who fight it out, and God (or the jury, judge or King) sorted them out. But this only works if both sides get attorneys. As a result, all sorts of evil people and corporations are represented by perfectly reasonable and nice people. The system doesn't work if they aren't.

What Liz Cheney and her cohorts are suggesting, though, is that attorneys who represent alleged terrorists are, in fact, terrorists themselves. And this is a very dangerous concept because if the acts of the client are imputed on the attorney, no attorney would ever defend anyone in anything, and the system would break down.

Speaking of torture, by the way, CIA waterboarding was much worse than imagined. Mind you, in controlled conditions, Hitchens and ManCow both lasted less than 20 seconds, and reported having panic attacks for months afterward.

Eric Massa Folies
I have no idea how this guy got elected, and to be honest, I thought all closet cases were Republicans. And while I'm not sure if Massa is gay, tickling another grown man, as Massa has admitted he has done, is about as gay as Men's Figure Skating. Sure, there's a possibility that the participants might be straight, but its very, very unlikely.

Monday, March 8, 2010

What I believe (religion edition)

While my last post was written with the idea of setting the table as far as what I believe, this post has been inspired by the recent travesties against Christianity.

Repent Amarillo is a recent group who believes that the goal of Christianity is to bully individuals into "right thinking" behaviors in as militaristic ways possible. It even calls itself the "American Taliban." Then, Glenn Beck is telling his listeners to leave Churches that promote social justice, because helping the poor is apparently socialism and Nazism mixed (warning - trying to figure out Glenn Beck's logic best avoided).

Along with the Catholic Church's recent decision to stop funding social services in D.C. because it has legalized gay marriage, Stupak's threat to kill health care reform over the abortion provisions, and kicking a kid out of Catholic school because her parents are lesbians, I'm not sure where I fit in Christianity anymore. But here's what I believe:

I am a Christian, abet nominally so. I believe that Jesus Christ was both the Son of God and God incarnate, that he sacrificed himself to open the doors of heaven to us all, and that by following his example, we can all live better lives. But I also believe that God created multiple religions to reflect the different societies and cultures of humanity. In other words, following Christ is not the only path to salvation.

Second, I believe that science is the study of God's creation, and is a noble profession. To the extent that religion and science conflict, it is due to the narrow-mindedness of humanity. Also, I tend to believe that God is the type to tell us what we need to hear, as opposed to the truth (and let us figure it out for ourselves). Those who deny evolution, deny God's creation and by extension, are denying God.

Third, I believe that salvation comes not from faith, but from works. Not to get too esoteric here, but obviously this puts me on the Catholic side of the Protestant-Catholic divide. Luckily, I'm Episcopalian, and so I get to jump back and forth with impunity. Back to my point - I've seen too many horrifying acts incurred in the name of God to agree with Luther here. Bin Laden has faith. Cheney has faith. Torquemada had faith. All should be damned for the horrors they have wrought. I've also met atheists and agnostics that were open-minded and kind to a fault.

Fourth, I don't believe the Bible is the literal Word of God. And to be honest, anyone who has a "favorite translation" of the Bible doesn't either. Moreover, most of the Bible is purely optional - as Christians, we don't have to follow any of the Old Testament (which means we get to eat bacon-wrapped shrimp as much as we want), but rather use it for context of the New Covenant with God. Outside of the Gospels (and maybe Acts), much of the New Testament isn't the Word of God either - the epistles are simply writings from learned Church elders. Sure, these epistles are to be given some deference, but only as much as the reader agrees with them.

Lastly, social justice and redistribution of wealth are Christian ideas. God could've been born of wealth, He could've made himself rich, but when given the chance, He chose to be born poor, and chose to live life as an ascetic. When asked how to get into heaven, He told rich men to give their belongings to the poor. In Acts, God smote Christians who didn't put all their money into the till for the benefit of all. Now, I don't give shit to charity, and I look away from homeless people on the streets. And because of that, along with my other faults, I'm going to hell. But I'm not going to hell because I vote Democratic, support gay marriage and abortion rights.

Monday, March 1, 2010

What I believe. . .

For someone who has been blogging both on this site and on MySpace and Facebook, I have never posted a comprehensive statement of my beliefs. Certainly, I'm lefty in many ways, but there are lefties and there are DFH's (dirty fucking hippies). I fall in the former category and not the latter. But what does that really mean? Rather than beat around the bush, here are my beliefs, in broad categories.

1) Economic Policy

I'm a Keynesian in terms of what to do during economic expansions and contractions. In other words, during a recession, government (state or federal) should expand their spending to make up for the lack of spending from the consumer and business sectors. When the economy is good to great, government should cut its spending so as to not crowd out investment.

But government intervention in the economy is an absolute must. Government has the ability to do the big things that private enterprise cannot. For instance, during the early years of U.S., Philadelphia was the country's largest city. It has a great natural harbor, is surrounded by scores of natural resources, and by way of the Delaware River, was easily connected to interior of New Jersey, etc. New York, by contrast, was relatively isolated. Then New York State built, from taxpayer funds, the Erie Canal. Suddenly, New York could connect easily with the Midwest, and the NYC has been dominating the East Coast ever since. In my view, government must take part in these big projects, not just to employ people during their construction, but to build the economy for years after. Private business, which needs to make a profit cannot do that.

Also, capitalism depends on certain factors to work right - perfect information, low barriers for entry of competitors, etc., which don't always exist in the world. Government regulation to make the market work better is a good thing.

Lastly, when it comes to government spending, I like the idea of spending on big things that help everyone. Welfare, while important, is unpopular because it privileges the poor over everyone else. So, there should be a social safety net, but it should exist like Social Security - everyone pays in, and everyone benefits. That's why I want comprehensive health care reform - everyone should be able to benefit.

2) Social Policy

I believe that government should stay out of our personal lives. It should not dictate how we pray, who we pray to, who we love, or what we do to our bodies. Now, naturally, there are limits - the biggest limitation is whether the exercise of freedom impedes on someone else's exercise of freedom. Also, if there's an issue of public health or safety, then by all means action should be taken. But I can't stand the nanny state bullshit that tries to censor language, ideas, or behaviors. As far as guns go, I believe the best way is to have some kind of test to determine if a person can own a gun safely, after which, the person can own as many guns as he or she pleases. On abortion, I believe that women control their own bodies, and they get to do with them as they see fit. At the same time, those that oppose abortion have every right to try to convince women to do otherwise.

I believe that the death penalty is appropriate in some circumstances, but it is overused. I still don't know what to do about drugs, but I believe the current "War on Drugs" is counterproductive.

3) Foreign Policy

First and foremost, the policy of the U.S. should serve American interests. When we are attacked, we should attack back. Where there's a threat, it should be dealt with. But U.S. foreign policy should be intelligent policy. Let's take Iraq, for instance. Back in 2002-2003, I was absolutely livid about the decision to invade Iraq - not because I bought that Saddam was a nice guy, but because even if he had WMD, he was more likely to use these weapons against his neighbors. In other words, I looked at Saddam's past behavior, studied the political dynamics at play, and was able to determine that invading Iraq was a bad idea. That's what U.S. policymakers should do. In the long term, is using military force in America's best interests? Good foreign policy considers that, bad foreign policy does not.

If anything, this separates me from the DFH faction - I believe in the use of military power when necessary and when in the best interests of the U.S. I believe in the death penalty, and I believe that gun ownership is not immediately a bad thing.