Thursday, February 28, 2008

Leading the World... At One Percent

A stunning and depressing fact:

..As of January 1 [2008], 1,596,127 people [are] in state and federal prisons and 723,131 [are] in local jails -- a total 2,319,258 out of almost 230 million American adults.

...the United States is the world's incarceration leader, far ahead of more populous China with 1.5 million people behind bars. It said the U.S. also is the leader in inmates per capita (750 per 100,000 people), ahead of Russia (628 per 100,000) and other former Soviet bloc nations which make up the rest of the Top 10.

We certainly are fortunate to live in an extraordinary country, but it should never be said that we do not have tremendous and unique problems to solve.

I can't recall hearing a single Presidential candidate mention this issue, much less a plan to address it.

Perhaps because it is politically dangerous.

Unless you believe that a disproportionate number of Americans commit offenses worthy of imprisonment, or you believe that our ability to catch and prosecute offenders is vastly superior to every single other country, these figures suggest that we need a major reexamination of certain parts of our legal system.

But beyond calling for tougher sentences, hiring more cops and building more jails, crime is risky topic for a politician to discuss. Sadly, nuance can be portrayed as weakness... and I can't help but think this dynamic, while by no means totally responsible, has contributed to our situation today.

The source article, from, is here.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Taxing You to Subsidize Exxon

Late last year, the President signed the first significant piece of energy reform in decades. I wrote about it here if you are interested.

I previously ranted about this legislation, despite its net positive effect, because it did not include a repeal of subsidies for American oil companies.

Today however, with oil at the highest price it has ever been, the House of Representatives passed a bill that would repeal these subsidies and invest them in wind, solar and other alternative technologies.

President Bush has threatened to veto this legislation. His allies in the Senate are invoking a procedural filibuster to require 60 votes to pass this measure in the hopes that he will not be forced to do so.

In a previous post, I advocated that the Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, demonstrate some political courage and reinstate the real filibuster. It is fully within his power to do so.

Make the Republicans (and Democrat Mary Landreiu) explain why Exxon should receive our tax dollars.

I really, REALLY, want to hear that argument.

You can email your Senator - or better yet, Harry Reid himself - via the "Take Action" links on the left of the page.

Baseball and the Congress

Wow - I've been negligent of my blog lately. Apologies to any one out there that still drops by from time to time.

I've actually been working on a number of essays, but obviously haven't closed any of them out sufficiently to post. I also have to admit being totally consumed by the ongoing Presidential election. We are really witnessing a pretty historic race on the Democratic side.

From now on , I'm going to try to do a better job getting new content up more regularly. This will mean more frequent posts of shorter length. I think I will also just start using this forum to draw attention to other content on the web that I think is worth a review - even if I don't have the time to add my own commentary.

In that spirit, I thought I would take a moment to draw some attention to the hearings our Congress is holding on steroid use in Major League Baseball. If you want to spot a politician that cares just a little more about their career than solving the problems that make a meaningful difference in Americans' lives, take a look at the winners that are spending time on this instead of Iraq, climate change, health care, education or alternative energy development.

Add actions like this to the long list of reasons Americans have lost faith in their government.

(By the way, they are not only wasting Congressional resources on this topic, they are asking the nation's top law enforcement officer, Attorney General Mukasey to do the same).

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Romney's Closing Remarks

Mitt Romney ended his presidential campaign today. In the closing marks of his campaign, he said the following:

“If I fight on in my campaign, all the way to the convention, I would forestall
the launch of a national campaign and make it more likely that Sen. Clinton or
Obama would win,” he said. "And in this time of war, I simply cannot let my
campaign be a part of aiding a surrender to terror.”

So this is how it ends. Mitt Romney is accusing Senators Clinton, Senator Obama and everyone that supports them of wanting to "surrender to terror".

This is precisely the kind of rhetorical sewage that we need to eliminate from our political discourse.

I am very thankful that this man will not become the President of the United States. We deserve better. I find Romney's campaign tactics particularly sad because he should have been capable of so much more. Between his world class education, his impressive private sector success and his executive political experience, he could have added a lot to our national debate.

Instead, he has reduced it as far as possible entirely for his own political advantage.

Am I overreacting? It is a fact that both Democrats do want to remove our combat troops from Iraq. This is one of the most important debates of our time. It should be vigorous and at the center of this race.

Challenging a Democrat's desire to draw down our forces in Iraq is a fair and necessary position for a Republican to take. Our country is well served by examining the implications of withdrawal - and of further occupation. Despite the certainty with which each side speaks, we are faced with a series of terrible options in Iraq. In my opinion, it is not definitively clear which route is a better strategic move or moral decision.

But we should be clear on this: Romney and any other person that uses this language is NOT engaging in this important debate. They are squashing it.

Accusing one side of having the belief that Al-Qaeda is not a threat, that our enemies are not real and dangerous, or that we should just not fight back is insulting and entirely unjustified. More importantly - it prevents the real debate - the one that will actually save American lives and treasure - from even occuring.