Sunday, August 12, 2007

Straw Poll Analysis

Who won:

Mike Huckabee:
Hucks didn't spend nearly as much money on the straw poll as his evil twin Sam Brownback, but ended up second in the poll. Not only does it make him look good, but it makes Brownback look bad. Odds are, if one of the two drops out, their supporters will switch to the other, and so this is a big win for Huckabee.

Mitt Romney: Romney won the straw poll. 'nuff said on that front. It's not much of a surprise, anyway.

Who stood pat:

Sam Brownback:
Brownback finished a strong third, but ending up behind Huckabee after investing so much time and money in the state has got to be rough. The straw poll, after all, is more about the ratio of money and time to votes than it is about the votes in a vacuum.

Tom Tancredo: One one hand, he was hoping to do a little better, and he spent a good amount of time in the state. On the other, his 4th place finish was well ahead of the 6th place minimum he said he would need to stay in the race, and his campaign is still plugging along.

Ron Paul: His finish was stronger than much of the MSM predicted, but less than his supporters had hoped. However, given that he had spent far less money and time in Iowa than the other 5 major vote-getters at the straw poll, his fifth place finish doesn't look too bad, and his supporters were, by all accounts, some of the most vocal.

Mitt Romney: His margin of victory was less than he'd have liked. With the other 'front-runners' not putting any resources into the poll, he was probably hoping for something closer to 50%. He bought far more tickets than he got votes, as well.

Who Lost:

Tommy Thompson:
Reports today indicate that he has dropped out of the race due to a weak 6th place finish, after an all-out effort to place strongly in the straw poll. Ending up behind Paul, who spent several times less money and time in the state, put the kibosh on his campaign.

Rudy McThompson: While Fred Thompson's supporters are patient enough for him to enter the race, it doesn't seem like anyone else is. And the more dirt they dig up on him (Nixon's mole, pro-choice lobbying), the more it looks like his campaign may have hit its peak before it even began. John McCain is virtually finished, and will be totally finished if he slips in New Hampshire - he was woefully short on funds at the beginning of the quarter and has been absolutely destroyed on immigration. Giuliani is still the leader in the polls, but his lead has been slowly disintegrating over the past couple months as his more liberal social positions become more publicized - his past support of federal funding for abortion, gay civil unions, gun control, and leniency on illegal immigration will turn off the conservative base and religious right, while his support for the national ID and the patriot act will turn off moderates and libertarian-leaning Republicans.

The Iowa Straw Poll: 14,000 or so votes was less than half of what they had anticipated. A poor showing for the event.

Who still isn't relevant:

Duncan Hunter:
He says he's in it for the long haul, but nobody really seems to know the guy very well. He hasn't been campaigning heavily, and doesn't seem to have much of a following - either national or niche.

John Cox: Frankly, if he had been invited to the debates, I think he'd be doing a good bit better. But it's hard to portray yourself as the 'alternative' candidate in a field of 10.

Who thinks he's more relevant than he actually is:

Newt Gingrich:
This category could just as easily have been called 'who was relevant 10 years ago and is stuck in a time warp'. He could have moderately more success as the 'alternative' candidate, but, he has too much baggage. Plus, while at least Thompson is making the rounds and talking the talk, Gingrich has taken on the persona of a grumpy old man being critical of everything about his party. At a certain point, you just want to say 'shut up'.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Top 10 Reasons to Legalize Drugs

Yep, it's a countdown. Lets get it on.

By the way, in case you're assuming that I am just a druggie who wishes my habit was legal, I've never actually done any drugs in my life. I don't even smoke. And if drugs were legal, I probably still wouldn't do them. But that's not the point. The point is, I should have the choice.

10. The illegalization of drugs is incompatible with the idea of personal responsibility, an integral part of our country's heritage and purpose. Free market capitalism depends on personal responsibility - Socialist economic policies, like welfare, are simply a shift of responsibility from the individual to the government. People who support this often like to use the words 'public good', 'public interest' or 'for the benefit of all'. But remember, this is the same argument the government uses to take away your house to allow Walmart to put up a store. It is the responsibility of individuals to decide what is best for themselves, not the governments responsibility. Unfortunately, government erosion of personal responsibility has become more and more commonplace. For instance, Kellogg's, under pressure from the Center for Science in the Public Interest (notice the 'public interest', please) and the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (a group that, by its name at least, wants to take the duties of parenting away from parents, and put them in the hands of the government), agreed to change their packaging and not target kids unless the food they are advertising meets the Global Nutrition Criteria. Now, when a company does this on their own, I applaud them - good nutrition is important. However, when the government forces them to do it, it takes away the responsibility of the consumer. Cases like this, and like the lawsuit against Burger King which claimed that Burger King is knowingly increasing its consumers risk of heart disease by using trans fats, send the message that it is not your fault that you're fat, but the fast food company's. It sends the message that the parent isn't at fault for letting their kids eat as much junk food as they want, its the companies that sell the junk food. It's another symptom of our lawsuit-happy culture, which is caused, quite simply, by the erosion of personal responsibility - nobody accepts the blame for their own problems.

It may seem like I went off on a tangent there, but it all leads up to this: it is not the government's place to determine what is best for you. That's your job. And it's not someone else's fault that you're fat, or smoke too much, or are addicted to a drug. That's your fault. And some people with socialist mindsets will accuse me of being insensitive. Not true! I have plenty of compassion for those with addictions and who are down on their luck. But it's not the government's job to protect you from yourself.


9. If alcohol and tobacco are illegal, why aren't other drugs? A recent study published in The Lancet ranked drugs, including alcohol and tobacco, in terms of how dangerous they are. The three critera were the physical harm they do, their addictiveness, and their impact on society. Alcohol managed to come in 5th out of 20, ahead of amphetamines, LSD, marijuana, anabolic steroids, and ecstasy. Tobacco was 9th, ahead of all the aforementioned save amphetamines. Of course, the people doing this study use it as a reason to restrict drugs and tobacco even more, but it can just as easily be used to suggest that these other drugs should be less restricted. The dangers of smoking marijuana are minimal compared to those of using alcohol and tobacco. Not only is marijuana far less addictive, but the effects on the brain (potentially exacerbating existing mental disorders, some short term memory loss) are insignificant compared to those of alcohol (liver disease) and tobacco (cancer), which are often fatal. In addition, while you can overdose on alcohol (several hundred people in the US do each year), there has never been an overdose of marijuana. While overdosing on alcohol simply requires one to drink three or four times as much as they need to get drunk, overdosing on marijuana would theoretically require one to smoke 40,000 times more than they need to get high. Which, needless to say, is impossible. You can smoke pot till you pass out, and you would still need to smoke thousands of times more in order to kill yourself.

8. It would make drugs safer. Because drugs are illegal, there is obviously no government regulation of them, nor are their health warnings like you see on cigarettes. Because of this, drug producers and traffickers aren't bound by any regulations, and often drugs can be contaminated or dangerous. Most street drugs are cut (diluted) with other substances, and different dealers cut at different rates. Doing as much cocaine or heroin as one usually does, but from a different source, could be fatal. Legalizing drugs would open them up to government regulation, who could then regulate packaging and quality control - you would be able to read what percent of the product you buy is the actual drug, the drug would be cut with safer substances, and the companies that sold them would have to include instructions on their use and recommended dosage. And given that corporations stake their reputations on their product (and killing customers isn't exactly an efficient way of making money), making the drugs safer would be in their best interest as well.

7. Prison doesn't solve drug addiction. People who are addicted to drugs should be in clinics, not prisons. In fact, it makes it worse. Despite the existence of prison-based drug programs, the prison culture makes people more likely to do drugs and develop their addiction, not less. Obscene amounts of money are made by prison inmates who deal drugs. It is quite possibly the worst enviroment for someone with a drug addiction, and if that's not enough, it's putting money in the pockets of, not just drug dealers, but far worse elements of society - murderers, rapists, and the like.

6. It would crush drug lords and organized crime. Legalization of drugs would allow for the creation of American companies to market these drugs. It would eliminate the black market for these drugs, as the prices would go down, and the drug trade would be taken out of the hands of criminals and criminal enterprises. Companies would grow their own drugs (and many, like cannabis, can be grown in the US), instead of dealing with foreign drug lords. It would deal a huge blow to the Mafia, who supply heroin. It's a huge amount of money that, instead of going criminals, could be going into the American economy.

5. The exorbitant amount of money spent on the 'war on drugs' by the US Government - somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 billion dollars - could be put to other, more productive uses. The war on drugs has not stopped drug use - in fact, drug use is as prevalent as it has ever been. In addition to saving the money the government uses to crack down on drug users, they would potentially be able to tax drugs. The federal tax on cigarettes brings in billions of dollars every year (the number is declining, but much of this has to do with laws restricting where one can smoke).

4. Legalizing drugs would make the court system more efficient. Court cases take months, appeals can take years. If the courts no longer needed to deal with drug offenders, then cases would take less time, and appeals in higher courts would be decided faster and by better informed, less overworked judges. Prison sentences have been shown to be relatively ineffective in breaking addictions, especially compared to other kinds of treatment.

3. It would stop prison overcrowding. Over half a million people are in prison for drug offenses, and in 2004, drug offenders accounted for 21% of state prisoners and 55% of federal prisoners. The US not only has the highest imprisonment rate in the world, but, in fact, the US has the most prisoners period - even more than China, which has four times our population. Prisons should be for people who commit crimes against others, crimes against society. You cannot commit a crime against yourself. As a result of all this, more and more prisoners are getting out early - even violent offenders. In many cases, drug offenders, and especially drug dealers, get sentences comparable to murderers and rapists - the federal sentencing guidelines for dealing drugs often allow life imprisonment.

2. Legalizing drugs would decrease violence dramatically. Of violent criminals, it is estimated that roughly a third committed their crimes for drug-related reasons. Most of these individuals would not have committed these crimes if drugs were legalized - there would be no need. Drugs would be exponentially cheaper, so people wouldn't have to commit armed robbery and similar crimes to finance their habits (through comparisons with countries where drugs are legal or their illegality is not enforced, it is estimated that drug prices would be hundreds of times cheaper if they were legal in the US), and since organized crime wouldn't be involved in the sale of drugs anymore, violent crime and murders related to the drug trade would decrease to almost nothing. It has been estimated that half of all burglaries and thefts are related to drugs, along with significant percentages (in the 20-30% range) of murders, car thefts, assaults, and armed robberies are drug-related.

1. Everything really comes back to this: government-organized social reform doesn't work. Ultimately, prohibition of alcohol in the 20s didn't just fail to solve any problems, but it created far worse problems. The prohibition of alcohol essentially created the Mafia as we know it today. And the scary thing is, the business they did in the 20s is miniscule compared to what they, and drug cartels, are doing today by selling drugs. Prohibition has, historically, been a miserable failure. Not only did it help create organized crime, but it also caused a significant reduction in respect for law enforcement. Consumption of alcoholic beverages did not decrease for a significant period of time. Only in 1921 was there a dip in consumption, and beginning in 1922, alcohol consumption resumed its pre-prohibition levels. In fact, more alcohol was consumed in the years from 1922 on, during prohibition, than in 1918, before prohibition. Beer sales took a pretty solid hit, but the use of spirits and wine increased. It caused increased corruption among official and law enforcement - a current problem that would have been #11 on my list of reasons to legalize drugs. The problems created by the prohibition of alcohol in the twenties are the same problems we're encountering today with the prohibition of drugs.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Legalizing Marijuana

Here's a great article that FredEx over at Football Refuge found.

Also in the (is this news? whatever) news, the John Birch Society has changed the name of its 'Conservative Index' to 'Freedom Index', based on the development that the word 'conservative' no longer connotes a small government, limited foreign entanglements policy, and that especially since Bush has been in the white house, 'conservative' has been associated with very liberal policies.

Here is their recently released 'Freedom Index'.

Only two people received scores of 100% - Texas Congressman Ron Paul and Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn (both Republicans).

Notable scores (i.e., Republicans who scored poorly and Democrats who scored well) are as follows:

Republicans who scored 30% or less:
Olympia Snowe (Maine)
Susan Collins (Maine)
Mary Bono (California)
Michael Castle (Delaware)
Mark Steven Kirk (Illinois)
Judy Biggert (Illinois)
Rodney Frelinghuysen (New Jersey)
Deborah Pryce (Ohio)
Greg Walden (Oregon)
Jim Gerlach (Pennsylvania)
Charles Dent (Pennsylvania)
Todd Platts (Pennsylvania)
Dave Reichert (Washington)

The only Democrats to score higher than 40% were Congressman Jim Marshall (Georgia, 44%) and Congressman Dennis Kucinich (Ohio, 50%), though there were at least 20 or so who pulled a 40%.

Monday, July 16, 2007

A responce to 'We Don't Need No Education' Part1

Good perspective Acid Brain... that was a post that stirred many ideas that I have needed to conceptualize. I thought it would be good to add more focused or additional direction.

There are 3 sides of this story...
Entry 1
Because this is such a huge topic I might just make this a 3 part series blog. For now...1) An accepted system that forces middle to lower class into a choiceless form of education. This is fine if your local schools are of high quality. However, if you are not blessed with great schools, you are in quite a pickle if you are of middle or lower class... Your paid taxes are paying for the public education. If you were not happy with your situation, you still would have to pay for both the funding of public education AND the tuition of the non-public education. Why is there so much fight against the voucher system? That is alot of money taken out from the state. There is alot that would be exposing the school system when parents are not funneled into a system with no checks or balances, where the priority is about the job security of the system, and where the entire state is under a single curriculum, but homogenized to the lowest denomenator... Many opponents of choice say the poorer states or even the richest of states just need more money applied to each system. Why are private schools having much less of a budget than the average public school? Why are private teachers paid 75-80% less than public teachers, yet private schooling is the envy of all parents? Public schooling has progressed only by the universal decisions made by people whose jobs is control... Private schooling is an acceptedly much better option because it has been put through trial,error and competition. Those schools that were not of good quality, failed. Those that actively on a yearly basis, anylize everything like a business, are out to put out the best product possible. Bye the nature of competition, the educated are the real winners by deciding which is the best for their money.
It is funny how the current public education system w/o the voucher system was setup to provide the same education for the poorer as the richer. Once again a misintended screwing of the people they were trying to help, the richer can opt out for a choosen more advanced education while the poorer (because they can't afford to subsidize education and pay for privatized education) are forced financially into a education and are at the mercy of the state. Dependence is not a leg up... It is a deprivaty. The only way the poorer can break out of financial shackles is to learn to make more prudent decisions.
Wow... this is just scratching the surface. I got 2 more points to make... one will be a further account of a recovering typical example of our school system's failure.... me. The other point will be assimilated into my entry called The War of the Individual vs. the Collective.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Gilmore Drops Out

Here's the first of the news and links updates I'll be doing on a semi-regular basis (roughly twice a week).

Jim Gilmore Drops Out

I think the best way to sum this up is to quote

It is funny that we give this candidate more attention when he drops out than at any point in his presidential campaign.
Do check out that site, as well. It's a very comprehensive collection of polls.

Check this out - Full Quarter 2 Fundraising Reports

Google Public Policy (that's Google's Blog) post on Ron Paul's Visit

Clinton and Edwards wish to limit democratic debates to... well... themselves.

Ron Paul Nation TV!

Ed Failor Jr. Leaves McCain Campaign

The same guy who said Ron Paul was not a 'credible' candidate (while at the same time working for John McCain), announced on Thursday he will be leaving McCain's campaign, shortly after it was revealed that John McCain actually has less cash-on-hand than Dr. Paul. Also on Thursday, one of McCain's campaign co-chairmen in Florida was arrested for soliciting a prostitute. With his staffers jumping ship (and some being blamed and asked to leave), McCain says he will focus more on a grassroots campaign. It is interesting how, while most candidates outside of the top tier hope to use a grassroots campaign as a stepping stone to a more broad-based national campaign, McCain seems to be going in the other direction, from a broad, expensive national campaign to a grassroots one. He sure can't keep spending money the way he has - there are rumors that he still hasn't paid back his debts from the first quarter, and that he may in fact have significantly less than a million cash-on-hand net.

Here's Another Good Site:

Mike Huckabee raises $764,000

3/8 of his donations came from Arkansas. Over half came from Arkansas and Texas combined.

Just to recap, Sam Brownback raised roughly 1.425 million this quarter, but spent several hundred thousand more than he raised (he had just over 800,000 in the bank after quarter 1), and now has less than half a million in cash-on-hand.

Jim Gilmore apparently had good reason to drop out. He raised under 200,000 this quarter, and had only about 60 thousand cash-on-hand at the end of the quarter.

Tommy Thompson raised just under half a million, but spent a little more than a half a million, and has only about 121 thousand cash-on-hand after quarter 2. Unfortunately for him, he owes about 127 thousand, so he's in the red.

John Cox actually raised about 4 thousand more than Jim Gilmore, and has the same amount of cash on hand.

Ron Paul raised just under 2.4 million this quarter, after raising just under 520,000 in quarter 1, and only spent about 540,000 in quarter 2, leaving him with about 2.35 million cash-on hand.

Monday, July 9, 2007

We Don't Need No Education

Seeing how we have lost our Constitutional values nearly entirely, we need to ask ourselves, why? There is a rather simple answer to this question, and it's the 'dumbification' of America. We have often seen ourselves as the pinnacle of civilization, as well as one of the most educated societies in the world. This has seemingly been true for most of the 20th century, as our nation has leaped to the top in terms of power and influence, how could it not consist o intelligent people? But this has not been American intelligence, it has been old world intelligence, thinking that does not tend to further mankind. We have lost our ability to reason, and use common sense, something that has been so clearly evident in modern times with the passing of the Patriot Act, REAL ID Act, and the NAFTA agreements.

Coincidentally this century has seen the massive expansion of our education systems, yet we are as stupid as ever. Everyday I guarantee you are dumbfounded by the utter stupidity you see the people of this country exhibiting. This is only natural when you consider the fact that they're just doing what they're told, a staple of modern education. The child who questions the teacher, or even better, the administration is often punished and set aside like a rotten piece of meat. This in turn creates two general types of students; the outcast who is always seen as wrong, and therefore usually turns to bad behavior by the end of their scholastic careers. This loss of education creates many dumb citizens, easily manipulated and nearly deadset on turning to crime or worse, complete poverty. Only the lucky few make it out of that grind without losing hope and in turn intelligence. The next type of student you have is the goodie two shoes, the one who sees it as normal to accept everything and anything the teacher and the textbook says as gold. How dare they question the all knowing authority? The benefits for these students are great, scholarships and things of the sort, something that will surely come in handy.

With today's awfully mismanaged federal programs, we are making this divide even greater, while further dumbing down even the goodie two shoes' types. Anyone who takes a glance at worldwide education reports can see how far we've fallen in comparison to other first world nations. With this dumbification creates the American's who are much more interested in the winner of American Idol than their own well being. Simply understood, they have no reason to care about their well being, as their career often occupies most of their time. The two types are either working so hard to get by, or working so hard because that is what they're told to do, so it's natural for them to do so. And seeing how their career occupies their thinking time, they feel comfortable with their relatively safe lives, so why change a thing?

Only the select few who are taught to think critically actually make it through, usually due to parenting or some other influence, and they inlfuence change. The problem today is that they are increasingly scarce, as the new parenting generation tends to consist of one of the two groups, so the trend continues. Getting rid of the federal education standards and continuing the destruction of traditional education values can only help us. Pink Floyd put it best, implying that modern education is not education by any means, it's thought control.

Monday, June 25, 2007

'08 depends on the entire Middle East

Classic Republican victory in 2008 really has nothing to do with our domestic issues, and entirely with the Middle East. With our cozy homes and nice cars, we seemingly have little to worry about domestically, sure there are a few things that need to be taken care of, but on a large scale that is rubbish in the minds of most Americans. With all our comforts, Middle Eastern intervention seems justifiable to many folks, mainstream Democrat and Republican alike. The only way our current policies can be rocked is if our thinking is changed, by way of foreign influence.

Israel's recent return of withheld money from the former Palestinian regime heavily influenced by Hamas has brought life to a possible peaceful solution in the region. While this may be wishful thinking, we are seeing a large amount of peaceful intervention and proposals from both sides of the situation. You may be wondering, what does this have to do with our elections? Well, simply, it allows for our mainstream ideas to be changed, along with Iraq's situation. By not taking the lead role in the Israel/ Palestine proceedings, we are seeing how our constant intervention is not healthy for the nation. Of course, Israel's situation won't win Paul the election, but along with other foreign issues, it can be used to support his ideas.

If Iraq continues down the path that it is on, which it most likely will, both sides that are preaching continued presence there by either a phased withdrawal or a "stay till the job is done" philosophy, can be picked apart for their interventionist policies. Iran is the key to how well Paul can use the anti-interventionism to his advantage. If we are able to stay out of Iran's issues, it will show how well his proposed policy will work. A society that has often shown democratic tendencies is on its way to regaining the democracy it had before we intervened earlier this century. A peaceful resolution (and non-interventionist) to current tensions will give Paul a more justified platform from which to campaign on. It will also allow for the furthering of Iranian freedoms, and if Israel's situation is remedied, it will allow for a more self sustaining Middle East.

This is one of those cases where less equates to more, and Americans need to wake up and realize it.

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