Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Tea Party Blues

A couple of posts ago, I ranted and raved (which I have a tendency to do) about how the Tea Party was fringe and non-relevant. Boy was I wrong (as happens from time to time, or all the time!). As I write this post, Christine O'Donnell has defeated Mike Castle in Delaware for the Republican Senate nomination. For those that don't know, I lived in Delaware for four years and Mike Castle is as much of a favorite son as you can be. What's even more shocking is that O'Donnell had the "perennial candidate" syndrome where she was always on the ballot for something but never seemed to get any traction.

To get back onto a little more of a philosophical note, I think 2010 has been the season of tea for several different reasons. For starters, the most involved and dedicated voters (especially in the primaries) are arguably the "hard-core" partisans and ideologues. For Republicans this means ultra-conservative partisans dominate the process, and for Democrats it's progressive and liberals. What has been different in this season is that Democrats have been more lenient to their moderate members while Republicans have brought the hammer down on them with force. For examples, I use Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, a moderate Democrat who survived a left-wing primary challenger and Mike Castle/Lisa Murkowski, two arguably moderate Republicans who were shocked by tea party upstarts.

To summarize the conversation so far, one could argue that the Republican tent is getting smaller while the Democrat tent is for most purposes staying the same. Republicans are demanding ideological purity while it is common knowledge that most Americans are moderates/independents. Does this help the party? You can argue both sides effectively but you can't argue the fact that it makes Democrats more competitive in many races where they were all but written off. The larger question is what does it mean for the future of the Republican party? Does it move right and assimilate the tea party-ers into its base, or do two separate factions develop that threaten to virtually hand the races to Democrats?

I've been on the record saying that moderate candidates are good for America. This means people like Mike Castle, Scott Brown, Tom Kean, Claire McCaskill, John Warner and Jon Tester. You can argue that I've named all liberal politicians here, but if you check their voting records you will find that they buck their party more than most for the good of their constituents (and to save their hides!). It isn't about being Republican or Democrat, it is about being able to go against your party and vote for your people. You can call that a RINO if you want, but I call it a moderate.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

High Fructose: Nah I'll Just Take Sugar

Are you eating something right now? If so, stop eating it and turn it around and look at the nutritional label on the back of the product. Does it say "High Fructose Corn Syrup" on the back? You may have just noticed it and are now thinking to yourself "WTF is this?!?!?!". HFCs are literally syrups from corn that have undergone processing to convert themselves into a sweetener used in commercial products. If the light bulb went off in your head and you are saying "ahh sugar!", turn the light bulb off, it is not sugar!!!

So what is the problem with HFCs? Well first off all, in lab tests, rodents that consumed HFCs gained more weight than rodents given just 10% sucrose with the same caloric content. Now, another light bulb should be going off in your head, haven't obesity rates been drastically increasing in western civilization over the last 20 years? While it is very much speculation, it does lead one to wonder whether there is correlation between the two figures.

An additional group of rodents were tested, this time being allowed to eat as much as they wanted (of an HFC based product) but being restricted to a sedentary lifestyle, which would emulate that of many Americans. Within just four weeks, the animals showed signs of Type-II Diabetes and and fatty liver disease. An obviously disturbing discovery.

So should you throw out all you products containing HFCs out the window? Probably not, but it is always good to be mindful of exactly what you are eating and how it can effect your body. My recommendation would be to seek out all natural products that use cane sugar or other naturally occurring sweeteners. While many sugars are not good for you at all, perhaps those with a naturally occurring makeup, may be better for you in the long run.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The "Tea Party": Fringe and Non-Relevant

The "Tea Party" movement has been dominating news lately after the passage of the health care reform bill. One might think the movement would be protesting the bill with candid well-thought argument and discussion in newspaper editorials, online blogs and through radio shows. However, the "Tea Party", already bordering on irrelevance and questionable effectiveness, has decided to set its members loose on Democratic representatives who voted for the health care bill.

What a bunch of cowards! The T.P movement will forever be branded as a fringe and radical collection of characters after their actions. If they want to bring about change in Washington, they should do it at the polls and not with their fists. What's worse is some in the movement such as Sarah Palin seem to think it's a good idea to fan the flames of hate.

My words of warning are to remember that the political winds can shift on a dime and those who spark conservative rage should be careful to avoid the liberal push-back that will inevitably follow. Those who were so quick to plant the bullseye on others, may eventually find themselves in the cross hairs of karma.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Republican Moderates: Good For the Nation

I've gone on the record as saying moderates are a good thing for both parties. For the Democratic Party you have Ben Nelson and to a lesser extent; Mary Landrieu, Blanche Lincoln and Joe Lieberman who occasionally cross party lines on legislation. For the Republicans, the only moderates seemingly left were Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, both from Maine. With Scott Brown's election, it seems being a moderate New England Republican is trendy again.

Some conservatives view this as a sellout on the part of Brown. I don't necessarily think that is the case. Brown's only responsibilities are to the Massachusetts people; if he believes a piece of legislation is something they'd support, he should be under no obligation to conservatives or "tea-party-nistas". Now if we could only wrangle up Lincoln Chafee to come back to the Senate and we would be set!

I think bipartisan legislation can only be accomplished through moderates who are willing to cross party lines for something they believe in. People like Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid may make a lot of noise and show, but in the end, it is in the hands of moderates that true groundbreaking legislation rests.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

New Jersey's First District: The Fighting Firsts

New Jersey Democratic Congressman Rob Andrews will be running for re-election in 2010 against familiar nemesis Dale Glading, you may remember Dale for granting this interview to the American Portrait back in 2008. Glading was only able to garner 26% of the vote in 2008 and while he will definitely fare better in the current climate, his chances of election are slim.

Dale writes on his campaign page that with "career politician" Rob Andrews, "not much has changed". Much has been made of Andrews complete debacle in 2008 when he had his wife keep the congressional seat warm for him while he tested the waters for Frank Lautenberg's Senate seat. Andrews tried to claim he changed his mind after deep personal reflection although it was clearly and objectively a bogus story. You may recall me observantly pointing out the fact that Camille Andrews (Rob Andrews' wife and placeholder for his house seat) didn't even bother to put up policy stances on her campaign website. She may be very friendly and nice in person but she was definitely a lousy candidate.

While Glading definitely hits some points home against Andrews, mainly the argument that Andrews has an "insatiable" appetite for higher office, he faces a daunting election against a congressional juggernaut. County Republicans would love to brand Andrews as liberal and socialist in the hopes of it gaining traction with a frustrated electorate, but do the facts back that up? The New York Times (an arguably biased source) brands Andrews as a "fiscally conservative...and socially moderate". Glading on the other hand, doesn't give any hints as to his stances on social issues via his website.

As Glading has cast himself as a conservative, one would think he would be socially and fiscally conservative. This perceived social conservatism (whether true or untrue, he hasn't said anything to the contrary) goes squarely against the traditional New Jersey mold. In fact, New Jersey's 1st congressional district scores a DVI of +12 (Democratic) in the Cook Partisan Voting Index. So while Glading would more than likely be an agent of change for South Jersey, his social stances might be a tough pill to swallow for many South Jerseyans. So while Rob Andrews' actions were clearly questionable, if no suitable candidate attuned to the county's political leanings emerges, it is this blog's opinion he will be comfortably re-elected in November.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Healthcare Reform: Gone With The Wind

I think everyone can agree the cost of healthcare is staggering for someone who is out of work or has a low paying job without benefits. A couple of weeks ago it seemed almost certain we were going to finally have health-care reform. With Scott Brown's election in Massachusetts, it seems like politicians can't get away from the platform/issue fast enough. Nobody wants to hang out their political neck for something as emotionally-charged as this issue.

I can't knock uncertainty, as I don't even know where I stand on the issue. Part of me wants to protect the people most at risk (children, low-wage workers) from the high costs of health coverage and treatment. Everyone deserves the right to have access to top-notch healthcare and physicians. The problem comes with the staggering cost and burden of trying to create a program out of nothing.

The financial cost of the healthcare program is absolutely unacceptable. In my opinion, we should be trying to reach budget neutrality in any was possible. That doesn't mean completely abandoning health care reform, as I would be in favor of the "piece-mail" approach championed by some members of congress that would introduce portions of health-care reform one at a time. The obvious drawbacks to this would be the lengthy time-period for effectiveness to kick in.

Inaction is not an option. Reform needs to happen now, but as they say "Rome wasn't built in a day", neither should the foundation of this legislation. Starting now and getting something done, is better than doing nothing at all. Even if there are members of Congress steadfast in their desire to score political points should the issue fail, there are no excuses for President Obama to not get this done.