Political Focus

A blog by Pat Gunn (Atom/RSS)
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Sat Jan 16 01:39:34 2010
Open healthcare discussions

I hold that the President has gone back on a campaign promise regarding openness in health care discussions. I don't know if it was a wise promise to make, particularly given republican efforts against mavericks, but it is nontheless broken, regardless of Gibbs' efforts to pretend it has not.



Mon Nov 30 19:25:05 2009
Huckbeen

Regarding Huckabee's pardoning scandal, I believe it was something probably only mistaken in retrospect. I don't like Huckabee, but would prefer he be rejected for his ideas than for his scandals.



Sun Nov 1 19:55:57 2009
Trans and Obligations

I recently got an invite to a facebook group - I normally don't read facebook notices (and I've disabled most of them), but I happened to read this one - it was protesting an article in 「Seventeen」 magazine, where "My Boyfriend Turned Out to be a Girl" - the claim was that several things in the article are "Transphobic". I'm not sure what that means exactly, but there has been a lot of healthy debate about the content of the article. (view full entry for contents)



Sat Oct 31 21:34:17 2009
Israeli Settlements

I consider Clinton's call for peace discussions before Israel halts settlement building irresponsible. The US should take a much stronger hand with Israel on this matter, withdrawing any weapons deals and financial support until the settlement construction ends, and threatening to bomb all settlements flat unless construction on them and expansion into East Jerusalem stops.

Israel is currently making a last big grab to make a new status quo before peace talks begin, and it should be stopped.



Fri Oct 30 19:27:35 2009
HIV Travel Ban

I disagree with Obama in his decision to rescind the ban on entry for those with HIV. Quarantines and similar tools for life-destroying diseases are pragmatic.



Fri Oct 30 11:59:55 2009
Historical Alignments

Looking back through the various party systems and presuming myself limited to major parties in the United States,

  • In the first party system I would've been an uneasy Federalist, reasonably comfortable with the official ideology of the party but uncomfortable with their actions. Factionally, I probably would've been closer to Adams than Washington.
  • In the second party system, I might have been a Whig, although primarily because they were technocrats. My interests do not align very strongly with either the Jeffersonain Democrats or the Whigs, but the Democrats of the time were much more objectionable to me.
  • In the third party system, I would've had a very tough time aligning myself, although I would lean towards the Republican party for their stance against slavery and for strong federal power.
  • In the fourth party system, I probably would've followed Teddy Roosevelt from the Republican party into the Progressive Party. I'm uncertain where I would've sat afterwards until this party system were replaced (although progressivism was affecting and realigning all of American politics, I could not have supported Wilson)
  • In the current party system, particularly beginning with FDR (whom I call our best President of the US), I would have to call myself a Democrat were I to restrain myself to the major parties. I could easily vote for Green parties or one of the tiny socialist parties, but minor parties are easy to find in any of these periods were a better alignment be desirable.



Wed Oct 28 15:48:46 2009
Presidents of the US

Quick impression on a reasonable subset of presidents of the US:

  • Washington - No strong impression - given the first party system, I like that he recognised that the first US government did not work and took the steps to build a strong federal government. I admire his general hostility to pomp.
  • Adams - Conflicted impressions - he was aristocratic in his pomp and ideal political structures, but was also admirably federal. His politics were too authoritarian in times of war, but his ideas about civic virtue made him a good public figure.
  • Thomas Jefferson - Impressively multi-talented, he was a better person than a politician. Interestingly secular, his politics are nontheless unfortunate (very pro-states and anti-federal). Having kept slaves is a black mark on him.
  • Jackson - I admire his efforts to limit corruption, but consider the acquisition of Indian lands to have been a tragedy - manifest destiny was an ideology committed to atrocity
  • Polk - Supported Slavery and manifest destiny. An apt politician, but I don't like what he stood for.
  • Lincoln - Admirably principled in most ways (apart again from , I generally like what he stood for - the need to preserve the nation against those favouring very strong states rights, strong opposition to slavery, and his gentle treatment of post-civil war confederates were all prudent and appropriate.
  • Grant - Important for civil rights, but incompetent in economics. I admire that fundamentalism about rights had not developed universally yet - he used police power to crush the Klan without a strong rule of law basis. His likability is marred a bit by corruption.
  • FDR - I greatly admire him, not primarily for his war accomplishments, but instead for his broad vision and desire to restructure society for the common good. I believe he was probably our greatest president.
  • Kennedy - Not so likable based on anti-communist jingoism, made highly nuanced progress on civil rights. Support for the space programme and the moon landing were positive.
  • Nixon - About the only things he did right were peace with China (which was still a very nuanced right - the isolation of Taiwan was unforgivable) and the reasonably skilled (albeit in service of the wrong notion of public interest) Kissinger handling foreign affairs. Corrupt, paranoid, and racist.
  • Carter - Very likable in most areas, his ideas often did not become policy and after his presidency he went on to support worthwhile causes.
  • Reagan - Not very likable. Bad economics, military buildups, cultural rot, jingoism are all his legacy. He was not very qualified to be president, and acted more like a cowboy than someone with appropriate skills (public image was everything).
  • BushSr - Intelligent and competent, I don't like his politics much, but they were coherent. Very strong foreign policy.
  • Bill Clinton - Intelligent and competent, I generally like his politics but consider them tainted by corruption and special interests. I believe that as much as FDR, he had the people's interests at heart and knew how to advance them within the existing system of governance. He was not bold enough to change that system entirely.
  • BushJr - Incompetent and weak-willed, the presidency was mostly handled by his VP Cheney. His cabinet was full of the corrupt and malignant wealthy.



Mon Oct 26 17:23:03 2009
Perogative of Royalty

The king of Saudi Arabia has spared a Saudi journalist from lashes for her production of a programme that discussed casual sex. In several other cases in the islamic world, royalty or presidents pardon people for clear vioations of Sharic law. Suspension of laws both necessarily weakens rule of law and says something about the relevant laws. To rely on such suspension of judgement places society in a strange place. (not meaning to comment on the particular content of this law here)



Sat Oct 17 18:48:51 2009
Freeing Lockerbie

I feel that it was deeply inappropriate to free al-Megrahi, and that it was further inappropriate for Libya to offer him a hero's welcome. Given his planning role for a successful militant attack, he should have been executed.



Tue Oct 13 15:56:22 2009
Carnegie and Frick

Andrew Carnegie and Henry Frick, both much honoured in Pittsburgh by people only lightly aware of them, are not people worthy of honour. Robber barons of their time, their brutal pursuit of wealth at the expense of the lives and well-being of their workers overshadows any philanthropy they did later in life. Never having treated workers well, their efforts to break strikes had them bring in thugs who killed and maimed workers, and his advocacy of lassiez-faire government styles contributed to a system that itself harms the public good. Frick was the more brutal of the two, and I approve of the attempts that were made to assassinate him. Carnegie's brutality towards the workers was both less, and mitigated by some beneficial ideas. Nontheless, as a whole, history should not look kindly on either man.