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As a Democrat, I Would Vote for Chris Christie

The more that is reported about Republican New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, the more I find myself admiring his leadership style.  Christie initially gained my attention when he praised President Obama for his help with Hurricane Sandy relief just prior to the Presidential election.  So, I looked more deeply at his record in an attempt to find a major trait that I dislike.  It hasn’t happened yet.

One characteristic that sets Christie apart from the GOP establishment is his belief that climate change is real and is man made.  In 2011 he was quoted as saying “When you have over 90 percent of the world’s scientists who study this stating that climate change is occurring and humans play a contributing role, it’s time to defer to the experts.”  His emphasis in the existence of global warming isn’t just a punchy statement, it is mirrored in his energy policy.

The Governor is a staunch supporter of renewable energy and spent much emphasis on expanding New Jersey’s clean energy capacity in his first term in office.  In 2011 he finalized his energy master plan which outlines all of his energy goals and proposals.  The plan contains a large portion dedicated to outlining renewable energy goals such as making renewable energy sources 22.5% of New Jersey’s overall power supply by 2021 through mandating the private electricity suppliers of the state.  If the electricity companies fail to meet the plan’s obligation then they are subject to state fines varying in cost depending on how far they fell short of the mandate.  The plan also states that the building of new coal power plants in the state of New Jersey is prohibited and the state will also work to shut down existing high polluting coal plants. His energy master plan is widely regarded as one of the most aggressive in the United States but also believed to be attainable.  His plan’s definition of renewable energy is broad, which allows energy companies to creatively craft an efficient and cost effective strategy of balancing all sources invested by the company.  With the renewable energy market being essentially untapped, Christie states this plan will open pathways for electric companies to bring cheaper energy to their customers and at the same time explore affordable ways to bring renewable energy into the power grid.

When it comes to gun control, Christie again tries to find a middle ground between both parties.  As governor, Christie has supported New Jersey’s assault weapons ban and also stresses the expansion of the gun control conversation into violence control.  His approach to the issue is much more dynamic than either party.  In a climate where Democrats are only willing to talk gun control and Republicans have classified the entire gun control conversation as taboo, it’s nice to see a politician lead the way on the conversation.  He breaks through both party lines and emerges as the true leader in the gun control debate when both sides are dug in too deep.

On the topic of same-sex marriage, Christie again finds some middle ground.  In a 2011 interview with Piers Morgan, he proclaimed that “I’ve always believed that people are born with the predisposition to be homosexual,” a statement  that not only comes  at odds with many Republicans but also with his religion’s beliefs on homosexuality.

One common ground that he finds with most Republicans is the fact that he does not believe in the allowance of same-sex marriage.  He reasons that marriage should be between a man and woman for the purpose of procreation but is also a very strong supporter of civil unions for same-sex couples.  He believes that same-sex couples should be viewed equally in the eyes of the law and given the same legal benefits that opposite-sex partners enjoy.

What I see in Governor Christie is a breath of fresh air that hasn’t been matched in the American political climate for quite sometime.  His record as Governor of New Jersey is nothing less than impressive, especially with a 74 percent approval rating according to the latest Quinnipiac University poll.  And his strategy is quite simple, which is combine common sense politics with core family and religious values.

But the thing that is most impressive about him is his ability to break from the Republican party as he feels necessary.  He brings realism to the GOP ,which hasn’t been seen in some time. This characteristic will prove to benefit him in a possible 2016 run as he will appeal to moderate Democrats, minority groups, and Independents that strayed away from the Republican party.  Hopefully the example that Christie sets is a trend that the GOP can follow, as in recent years his party has moved so far away from  common sense and has sped toward a delusional counter-intuitive ideology.

No Legal Argument Against Same-Sex Marriage, Still Illegal…

Written by David Buchanan

President Obama gave an inaugural speech on Monday that will certainly go down in the history books as he is the first President in history to refer to homosexuals, particularly gays, as an accepted (yet in many societies, only considered as tolerated)  sexual orientation or preference. In addition to this, he also declared that gays and lesbians struggling for equality were on par with the civil rights movements of the past.

The President’s view regarding gay marriage has certainly changed from when he was first elected.  He started out as being openly opposed to gay marriage, and then in 2008 said that his position was “constantly evolving.”  Last May 2012, he became the first President who had publicly stated that same-sex couples should be allowed to get married.

And when it comes right down to it, why not?  Washington politics continues to push to define marriage as between a man and a woman but where does that notion actually come from?  Religion.  When it boils right down to it, the notion that marriage should be between a man and a woman comes from the biblical notion that man should not lie with man.

However, when looking at the law, what practical purpose does it serve to define marriage as opposite sex couples?  If you listed to Republican arguments about “preserving marriage”, many of those arguments center around societal concerns and concerns about children being raised without a father or a mother.

These concerns mostly surround the traditional roles of mothers and fathers.  Studies have shown that children without fathers in their lives are less likely to be successful than those who did not have a traditional two parent home.

The problem with this argument is that it assumes that having opposite sex parents is the only viable solution to the problem.  What benefit does the child get from having a father or mother that does not want to be around, or worse still, is a detriment to the development of the child.

If you listen at the core of most arguments against a same-sex union, it all revolves around religion and morality or social concerns that are more concerns revolving around principles established over 200 years ago and not in line with modern principles.  The problem with this sort of thinking is that America is supposed to be a land that embraces freedom of religion and diversity.  Part of that is accepting other belief systems even if they differ than yours.

Same-sex marriage isn’t about destroying the institution of marriage, it is about couples having the same rights regardless of whether they are gay or straight.  Looking past the moral implications surrounding the issues, marriage is a contract between two people and same-sex couples who want to have the same rights to execute their contract.

When the Supreme Court looks at this matter later this year, they need to look past the moral objections and focus on the legality of banning same-sex marriages.  If there is a legitimate reason to declare marriage as a union between a man and a woman, then that needs to be clearly defined.  If instead the banning of same-sex marriage is based on morality, then it is time to allow same-sex marriage in this country.

How Do Developmental Leaderships and Coalitions Emerge?

  The United Nations, the Peace Corps, and the Developmental Leadership Program can promote coalitions to bring about social changes in developing countries. They can support education, better housing, clean water, and improved medical care. Developing countries may not have the social agencies needed to address the problems for their citizens. As the global markets move toward a higher technological level, the less developed countries may face living and working conditions that are not the best. These same countries have the advantage of offering a lower wage to their workers which makes the product prices lower. They can compete with the other countries where the average wage is much higher so as to accommodate the higher cost of living. And while the developing countries are establishing coalitions to promote better health care, the more developed countries are creating coalitions to put tariffs on the imported products from the developing countries. In the United States, the automobile manufacturing workers have unions to protect their wages which can be more than $25.00 per hour plus benefits. The unions and the workers protect their jobs and level of income.

-Developmental Leaderships

The need to compete, or the need to provide more humane treatment, can bring about developmental leaderships. This can be generated from a focus group’s steering committee which has noticed that a country is less industrialized than the rest. The United Nations, and the Developmental Leadership Program, usually assist with the third world nations which tend to be more rural. And sometimes there are cultural barriers in a country which can restrict education and more modern manufacturing. That is when the issue of human rights can be challenged so that more modern health care, higher technology, and industrial development can be implemented. Programs for more sanitary living and working conditions can be supported from outside a country. The Teamsters Union does not support unsafe working conditions in any country. 

-Coalitions

When people notice a void, then actions can happen. There is void in the international policies regarding leaders and coalitions that is recognized by the Developmental Leadership Program. The countries with the higher standards of living can require higher wages. And many companies will send their operations to the lesser developed nations for production, and then export the products. Most of the these countries have not reached the level of development and education that will compete with the larger nations. Unions are coalitions that form to protect worker rights when bargaining for a contract with an employer. Coalitions can assemble to stop pollution, to encourage recycling, and to promote school breakfast and lunch programs.

-Emerging

While the countries continue to develop toward higher education, there will be more coalitions which form to address other problems. The competition for jobs has increased the level of education. Most of the management jobs require a college degree today. The coalitions are working for safer working conditions, better product safety, and more consumer information about product quality. And the developmental leaderships continue to support progressive, industrialized nations.  

Will writes for a number of businesses including DLPROG, based in Australlia. To learn more about their work, read their articles about Integrity In Leadership visit http://www.dlprog.org.

Grover Norquist: A Clandestine Agenda

Who is Grover Norquist?

Grover Norquist is the founder and president of the conservative tax advocacy group Americans for Tax Reform, a group that advocates for lower taxes and smaller government.  The son of a former Polaroid Corporation vice-president, Norquist lived a very comfortable life during his upbringing and received an excellent education in one of Massachusetts best public schools and a college education from Harvard University.  Once he graduated with his B.A. and M.B.A., he went on to become an executive director of the National Tax Payers Union.  From there he started Americans for Tax Reform group in 1985.  Since then he has become a major player in the modern conservative movement with his famous “Taxpayer Protection Pledge.”  In the pledge, signers promise to “oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rates for individuals and/or businesses; and oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates.”

His connections

Why does a man who has never held public office in his life have so much influence on governmental affairs?  It just doesn’t seem to make sense to most as to why Norquist has such an influence over Republican tax policy.  Look no further than the people he is associated with for that answer.

Norquist is a member of one to the most powerful non-governmental organizations in the United States, the Council on Foreign Relations.  The CFR, as many call it, is a global affairs think tank that is dominated by the American upper class.  The CFR is the bridge between the nation’s wealthiest individuals and its politicians, bringing them together under one organization to essentially craft the future of American foreign policy.  Membership to the organization is not for everyone; one must be invited by an existing member of the organization for one to even be considered by the Board of Directors.

It is through this channel that many CFR members receive government appointments to a variety of positions within the government.  Norquist surely uses an organization such as the CFR to create connections for funding and political support from conservatives.

The CFR just tops the list of organizations that he is involved with; he is also a board member of the National Rifle Association and the American Conservative Union.

The Future of the pledge and Norquist

The last few days have not been promising for pledge supporters, as of yesterday John Boehner admitted that tax increases on wealthy Americans is inevitable and will be a part of a future fiscal cliff deal.  Suddenly the future does not seem very bright for Norquist and his anti-tax pledge, but what will become of him next?

Unfortunately for his critics, Norquist and his pledge aren’t going away any time soon.  His connections are far too deep within the Republican Party for him to disappear completely.  Norquist is a behind the scenes leader, a product of the American upper class, who has almost limitless connections to politicians and those with power and wealth.  Even though many Republican politicians have publicly denounced his pledge, that doesn’t mean that they have broken ties with Mr. Norquist entirely.  His exclusive influence and ideas will still lead the way for the Republican Party into the 2014 and 2016 elections whether we are aware of it or not.

View Your Senator or Representative’s Voting Records

Finding how your state senator or Representative votes on particular bills can be difficult even in the age of the internet.  I was e-mailed by the administrator of a great website that allows users to see their senators voting record in a very user-friendly site.  Below is the link, don’t take your local politicians word on their voting history, find out yourself.

http://www.voiceinnumbers.com/Home.vin

What Obamacare Means for Business Owners

Employer-provided health insurance: how it began and where it’s headed 

 

Did you know that employer-provided health insurance, which many American workers see as a privilege, actually began as a way to circumvent wage regulations during WWII? Because companies were being told what they had to pay employees, they sought a loophole in the form of “fringe benefits” – which not only were tax deductions for the company, but also a before-tax cost to employees.

 

Sounds like a win-win, right? The problem is these tax-free perks do not extend to an individual buying healthcare on their own. They end up paying more for health insurance with after-tax money. So without a subsidized public option, American workers who lose their jobs also lose affordable health coverage.

 

As it pertains to this long-standing injustice, The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (also known as PPACA or “Obamacare”) is intended to (1) enforce accountability through widespread transparency, (2) issue mandates that keep costs down by driving competition, and (3) give individuals options in the expanded marketplace.

 

Transparency means accountability

 

Until now, there has been no government intervention to force companies to reveal how they pay for these health plans. In other words, without such transparency, not even the employees supposedly reaping these benefits know exactly how it’s paid for. Economists tend to agree that the contributions employers make toward fringe benefits come out of the employees’ take-home pay.

 

The healthcare ruling now forces companies to disclose to the IRS how much they pay for their employee’s health insurance and how much is paid for by employees. Likewise, insurance companies must now report exactly how much of their money goes toward coverage versus administration (80/20 rule).

 

This transparency extends beyond insurers and employers to the healthcare providers. Healthcare reform will attempt to usher in a new era in which costs are dictated by results rather than benchmarks. For example, The United States per capita healthcare cost ($7,000) is almost double that of countries like Japan or The United Kingdom. But both Japan and the U.K. have a higher average life-expectancy than the U.S.

 

Though it is no easy feat, the ultimate goal of transparency through healthcare reform is to offer everyone (patients, doctors, insurers, companies, hospitals) credible information about the cost and quality of care, leading to more informed consumers and providers.

 

Mandates: more options = more affordable

 

Perhaps the most controversial part of the Supreme Court’s decision was granting the Federal Government the ability to deliver mandates to both individuals and companies. The court ruled that the government could enforce an individual mandate by enforcing a “taxed” penalty to people who can afford health care, but choose not to buy it beginning in 2014.

 

 

Likewise, beginning in 2014, companies of over 50 employees are mandated to offer workers a competitively affordable health plan. There are a host of variables (including company size, and income) that affect this mandate, but in a broad sense, the government will use the health care reform tax credit and penalty to ensure individuals have affordable options.

 

 

Small businesses will be able to increase their healthcare buying power by participating in government-funded exchange programs. These programs encourage small business to take part by offering up to 50% tax credits on premiums.

 

What it all means:

 

Because the average employee sees health benefits as a bonus, he or she is less motivated to discover the value of the service being paid for. Public health experts nationwide agree that employer-provided healthcare was a rotten foundation to a now convoluted and overpriced healthcare system. However, it’s the only system American’s know and one that millions depend on for coverage. Therefore, the goal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is to create an equally strong public option to level the playing field, which requires participation from all Americans. Will it? We’ll see early next year.

 

Joseph Polito writes on behalf of Just CMS 1500 forms, a resource for affordable supplies for health care offices, including cms forms and other medical claim forms.

How Republicans Are Misunderstanding Latinos

For quite a long time now, Republicans have tried to find ways to bring in more Latino voters into its base, but with limited success.  Republican leaders stress that Latinos fit in perfectly with the base of the party for multiple reasons, however 67% of Latinos are registered Democrat.  Let us look at Republican claims as to why Latinos are a perfect fit for the party and ways that they are misunderstood.

Many people assess the Latino population in the United States as a socially conservative group with deep, predominantly Catholic, values.  The GOP for decades have tried to use this to their advantage due to the fact that the Republican base has similar core values.  From afar it does seem like a perfect fit, but Latinos are not as socially conservative as Republicans give them credit for.  In order to explain this claim I will break down the different demographics within the United States Latino community.

Breaking down the U.S. Latino community into generations (first generation Latino- American, second generation Latino-American, etc…) is, at least I find, the best way to explain the political matches and mismatches between Latinos and Republicans.  Let us start with first generation Latinos in the United States and their political profile.

Out of all the Latino generations, first generation and foreign-born Latinos tend to be the most conservative.  According to the Pew Research Center, 35% of foreign-born Latinos consider themselves conservative in their political beliefs as opposed to 28% of Latinos born in the United States, which is likely because of the greater influence that religion has in Latin American countries.  They also tend to have a more conservative stance than other generations on issues such as abortion and the acceptance of homosexuality.

Second and third generation Latino-Americans tend to be more liberal on many issues as opposed to earlier generations.  Later generation Latinos are slightly more accepting of homosexuals and are much more in favor of legal abortion rights for women.  They are also more likely to describe themselves as liberals.  One may argue that the reason for the increase in liberal ideology among younger generations of Latino-Americans is their exposure to a more secular society in the United States, as opposed to their parents or grandparents who were grew up in a less secular, Latin American nation.

From the information above, one would think that first generation Latino-Americans would be a perfect match for Republicans, right?  They have many of the same core beliefs when it comes to abortion, the importance of religion, and many other issues, but still the GOP sees Latinos vote consistently Democrat.  One major reason for this mismatch between the GOP and first generation Latino-Americans is the harsh, seemingly anti-immigrant, language that modern Republicans use.  For this particular demographic, immigration is at the top of their list because they went through the immigration process and know the difficulties and struggles they went through to become citizens of the United States.  They may still have family or friends living in their native Latin American country that are going through the immigration process, and it is through first-hand exposure to this process that makes it one of their top issues.

They key to appealing to the first generation would primarily be to propose and promote a passable, yet realistic, immigration reform bill.  Doing this is key to bringing in new first generation voters, and along with that will come second and third generation Latino-Americans.  With the consistent growth of the Latino population in the United States, it is essential that the GOP capitalize on this demographic, exploit the similarities, and bury the differences.

These are just my observations about the Latino vote, let’s start a conversation, what are your opinions on Republicans attracting new Latino voters?

A Link To Hold You Over

A few days ago I thought I finished an article about the future of the Republican Party, but as I read it over and over, I realized that I really didn’t like it.  So now I have to start a new article from scratch and I plan to have it on the site within the next few days, so stay tuned.  Until then I have a link to an article from one of my favorite journalists, Matt Taibbi.  He’s a journalist for Rolling Stone and best known for his book outlining the reasons for the financial crisis named “Griftopia: Bubble Machines, Vampire Squids, and the Long Con That Is Breaking America,” which is an excellent book that I urge everyone to read.  The link below is an article he posted after the election laying out the problems of the Republican Party.

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/taibblog/hey-rush-limbaugh-starting-an-abortion-industry-wont-win-you-female-voters-20121108

Storming the White House: Environmental Policy and Election Fever

Before I begin my idealistic musings that I am known to do, I feel a

brief introduction is due. Admittedly, I am new to the blogging
community. The founder and administrator of this
particular blog extended the offer to me several months ago to
occasionally contribute an opinion piece or article, and I felt
obliged to accept the offer (graciously, of course). Also
admittedly, I come from a slightly “left-of-center” American
ideology, but by no means do I feel any particular fondness to
political parties or factions. My studies focused on politics and
history, and are now moving into the realm of law and international
affairs. Until recently, most of my writing has been dry “here are
the statistics” articles due to constraints, but I am looking forward
to an outlet for editorial writing. So if you will indulge me, I will
be glad to try to weave my brand of cynical, sarcastic, and dry humor
into comprehensible editorials for the readers to (hopefully) enjoy.

So now, here is my first blog entry:

Storming the White House: Environmental Policy and Election Fever

The direction of American politics within the past few years has left
a particularly unattractive stain on the country’s image, leaving
countless young observers (such as myself) feeling disconnected from
their leadership. In an age where mentioning global warming can sink
a political campaign, is there any reason to hold faith in the two
party system? Bi-partisanship has been abandoned, the political mood
is schizophrenic as ever, and the American public continues to vote
along the same path as a pendulum. In the past few days, the “super
storm” that raged through the east coast exposed the inconsistencies
in right-wing rhetoric on environmental policy, and perhaps shaped
the political careers of several men.
In the face of Hurricane Sandy, climate change has been brought into
the spotlight once again. While it is absurd to say the hurricane
was caused by global warming (these things have been happening longer
than humans could even put a physical foot print on Earth), it is
hard to deny that global warming did not intensify the storm. Scientists
and journalists have been debating the issue for the past few days, and
the verdict was relatively unanimous – climate change is impacting the
severity of tropical storms.

The idea environmental protection and global warming as a partisan
issue is, in fact, relatively new to the political field. Until Al Gore’s
infamous film, it was indeed the Republican Party that took the greatest
measures towards protecting the environment.

This leads me to wonder – what happened to the “Grand” Old Party?

Republican president Theodore Roosevelt was perhaps one of the
greatest conservationists of all time. It was under his leadership
that the Newlands Reclamation Act of 1902 was passed, along with
creating the United States Forest Service, and coining the slogan
“Conservation as a National Duty.”

As much pain as it causes me to praise this man, it was President
Nixon that first proposed the creation of the Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA), which went into effect in 1970. It is worth
noting that recent Republic rhetoric has called for the dissolution
of the EPA. It is also worth noting that since the creation of this
agency, we have stopped catching rivers on fire. I have very little
expertise in chemistry, but I am fairly certain water is not
inherently flammable.

What may come as a shock to many is that Ronald Reagan, the
conservative icon, acknowledged the existence of climate change. In
fact, he created a board on the NSA for the purpose of researching
ways of dealing with a potential climate change. However, he also
made it a point to distance himself from the environmental policies
of Jimmy Carter by slashing the EPA’s budget, and removing the White
House’s solar panels in a silly symbolic gesture.

With Hurricane Sandy’s effects on the next administration in mind, it
may be noted that the true victor was Chris Christie. In a
controversial move to back President Obama’s response to the storm,
Governor Christie has emerged as a symbol of bi-partisanship, a
national hero, and possibly the future of the Republican Party. It
may very well be that Christie is the genuine article, responding
decisively to a crisis, but the Machiavellian in me leads me to
believe there may be more to the story. As American voters are known
to operate like a pendulum, it is likely President Obama will be in
office for another four years (apologies, Mr. Romney), and the
American public will swing back to the right for a 2016 Republican
president. However, if President Romney is elected, Governor Christie
will have to wait likely another eight years, by which time Americans
may swing to the left yet again. Whether he intended to harm the
Romney campaign by supporting President Obama in a time of crisis or
not, it should be interesting to see how this man’s career will play
out.

In an era where bi-partisanship is scorned and environmental
protection is seen as un-American, it is difficult to have faith in
our elected leaders. This is usually the point in an article where
the writer urges the reader to “get out there and vote,” leaving the
reader with a warm, wrapped in an American flag blanket feeling, but
I cannot write that without a laugh. If the past few decades have
been any indication, politics will continue at a lackluster pace, and
any change made will be incremental and insufficient. Most changes
are purely symbolic. The most significant environmental move made by
the Obama administration was to re-install the solar panels on the
roof of the White House. The election, only a few days away, will
show whether or not the panels will remain for four more years.

This article has been written by My Spin on Things newest writer, Logan Holmes.