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Upcoming Essays November 12, 2008

Posted by Adam Nowland in Democracy, Election 2008, Politically Incorrect Blog, President Bush, President Obama, U.S. Government.
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I’ve been extremely busy this week, but over the next few days I’ll be posting several more essays.  You can look forward to the following topics:

Why I’m Glad I’m Not the Next President:  The Overwhelming Crises Facing Barack Obama

Leader, Warrior, President:  How Future Generations Will View Bush’s Legacy

The Days After:  The Economic Realities of an Obama Presidency

President v. Party:  How Barack Obama’s Election Bodes Ill for the Democratic Party

While they should all be interesting to those following the recent election and the end of the Bush presidency, I’m particularly excited about the latter two.  Hopefully it’ll be good stuff.  I’ll keep everyone posted.

Obamania the Day After November 6, 2008

Posted by Adam Nowland in Election 2008, Politics, President Bush, President Obama, Republican Party, U.S. Government.
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Congratulations, Democrats.  After eight years, you and your party have seized control of the White House with Senator Barack Obama’s victory over Republican Senator John McCain on Tuesday.  Throw this in with your increased majorities in both the Senate and the House of Representatives, and you must feel like you are flying on top of the world.  In fact, with all the outpouring of love for America expressed since the election, you may very well be doing just that.  Just think of the circumstances.  The first black American President?  Check.  A sweeping endorsement of liberal control of the country?  Check.  Your biggest opponent, the hated GOP, reeling and searching for answers?  Check. 

                So break out the glasses and pop open the bubbly – after all, nothing can stand in your way now, right?  Now is the time to push for social equality, increase taxes on the rich and give generously to the poor.  Pack the Supreme Court with liberal-minded judges who will uphold Roe v. Wade and stop pesky Justices like Scalia and Roberts in their tracks.  Now that Bush is gone, we can bring home the soldiers to well-earned confetti and parades, ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in one fell swoop.  After all, if we’re not over there, the problem should take care of itself, right?  Now is the time for Obama to start implementing all those wonderful promises he made while crisscrossing the nation over the last few months, correct?

                Not quite. 

 

There are a number of reasons why Democrats and other liberals will be disappointed during Obama’s initial work in the Oval Office. (more…)

Up From the Ashes – The Republican Party’s Chance for a Renewed Lease on Life November 5, 2008

Posted by Adam Nowland in Democracy, Politics, President Bush, President Obama, U.S. Foreign Relations, U.S. Government.
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As Americans wake on the morning of November 5th, they awake in a country on the verge of a new era.  With the landslide victory of President-elect Barack Obama, who enters office with significant majorities in both the House and the Senate, Americans have spoken, and spoken loudly.  The Republican administration of lame-duck President George W. Bush has been swept from office as U.S. citizens voiced their concerns that the GOP was no longer in touch with the average American.

                However, despite the humiliating defeat, the Republican Party is far from dead.  Indeed, in the long run, a crushing defeat at the hands of Obama and his allies may be exactly what the GOP needs to spring back into national power.  Although the defeat and future power seem contradictory, one realizes that the idea isn’t so far-fetched when we recall how far astray from its “roots” the Republican leadership has gone over the last eight years.  Abandoning the old mainstays of fiscal responsibility, small government, and increased rights to private individuals, the GOP in many respects had become the thing it feared most – the Democratic Party.  For all intents and purposes, the parties, at least in Congress, had become indistinguishable.  By assuming power, the Republicans in Congress and the White House permitted absolute power, especially in the wake of broad support following the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks, to transform them into big government, drunk on power and unlimited funding.  By forsaking their roots, the Republicans set the stage for the major upsets in the last two elections.

                But now that they are removed from power, the Republican Party and its leaders can return to what made them popular in the first place.  The environment for a victory in two years in the next national election is perfect for conservatives, who, if they play their cards right and get a little help from the Democrats, could provide a stunning comeback.  Let’s take a look at the opportunities:

-              An inexperienced, untested President taking office with enormous expectations.  Republicans must exploit any mistakes by Obama in his first months in office.  If Obama opens negotiations with Iran, or backpedals in the face of pressure from North Korea, China, Russia, or Venezuela, the GOP has a fantastic opportunity to show that Obama is weak when it comes to foreign policy.  Likewise, the domestic decisions that Obama makes in his first two years as president could have significant ramifications for the economy, the health system, and social policy, and he must tread lightly and ignore the obvious mistake of liberalizing too much too quickly, or he and his party will quickly burn through the political currency they gained yesterday.

-              A faltering economy.  The overwhelming focus of voters, the economy continues to struggle while the government seems helpless to solve the credit crunch, the enormous (and crippling) housing mortgage crisis, and a slipping dollar.  The country may be on the verge of significant inflation, yet the government continues to find new ways to pour money into the economy.  Obama plans sweeping tax changes and has promised to pour upwards of sixty billion dollars into the nation’s infrastructure.  Unfortunately, the United States probably can’t afford such action, at least not now. 

-              Increasing domestic divisiveness.  Socially, conservatives and liberals in the United States continue to go their separate ways.  Obama takes office with a significant portion of the country extremely distrustful of his motives and potential (which is nothing new for any president).  However, he will have to be careful not to offend large segments of voters, or, like the 2006 national elections, citizens will treat him as they treated President Bush and his unpopular Iraq War.

-              A global security nightmare.  War in the Congo.  Continued crisis in Dafur.  An aggressive Russia unresponsive to global scrutiny.  A war going well in Iraq.  A war not going well in Afghanistan.  Osama bin Laden still unaccounted for.  Mr. Obama must find ways to protect Americans from a second 9/11.  However, he must also judiciously approach foreign crises as well.  The United States is uniquely prepared to go into other countries to stop calamities like genocide or famine.  Obama must continue the United State’s role as a global policeman while still avoiding getting mired in another long war in a country that doesn’t fully support our own end goals.

                All these issues point clearly to opportunities for the Republican Party to seize on mistakes by the Obama administration and his supporters in Congress.  A major mishandling of a crisis by Obama would go a long way to bringing the GOP back into power.  However, Republicans must also reinvent their image as a party of the people, rather than a party of the government.  If they can project a new understanding of responsibility and empathy, they should be poised, at the very least, to take back some of the lost seats of Congress.  I suggest three ways to help the Republicans get back on track.

                First, the Republican Party must recreate themselves as the party of fiscal responsibility.  This is a no-brainer.  The Bush administration has become famous for its liberal spending policies, which inevitably led to increased government debt and certainly did not help the country avoid the recession that even now wracks the economy.  This spending is not reminiscent of your grandparents’ Republican party.  With nearly every state struggling economically, schools scrambling to make ends meet, and individuals watching their savings dissolve, it is shocking that Americans have so little faith in Republicans that they turn to a party that is known for its spending excess.  The GOP CANNOT miss this golden opportunity to push towards decreased government.  People don’t want to spend more money on taxes – they want to save and have the government help provide things like education, energy, and infrastructure.  Resume the push for small government and fiscal responsibility, and the Republicans will have taken a major step towards success.

                Second, the GOP must begin rebuilding bridges with the media.  Yes, everyone knows that the media is indeed biased (except, it seems, the media itself), but news outlets continue to hold enormous sway over voters.  Indeed, it is a testament that President Bush was able to be elected despite extreme negative treatment by the media.  Ronald Reagan, on the other hand, was incredibly popular with news organizations, and he used those ties to his advantage.  While pandering to the media is not an activity the GOP would like to do, it cannot escape the fact that it will not be successful unless it can somehow gain respect, if not love, from media outlets.  There is no doubt that Barack Obama was a media darling during the 2008 elections.  Republicans must pull a page from the Democrats’ book and use the media as a tool to achieve success, rather than battle reporters and cameras at every outlet.

                Finally, and most importantly, the GOP must show that it is a party of and for the people.  Too many people criticize Republicans for being aloof and “above” the average citizen.  Democrats got involved with the people who would vote for them and got their hands dirty campaigning.  Republicans recently have failed to engage voters on a personal level, showing that they understand the economic and social woes of the everyday family.  Without this personal engagement and a clear understanding of what most people are going through, or knowing what the goals and beliefs of the average citizen are, the Republicans cannot gain the support of voters.  Rectifying this problem would be a significant achievement.

               While Republicans are (and should be) disappointed by the results of the 2008 election, there is hope on the horizon.  The GOP must seize on Democratic mistakes and effectively take the place of the Democratic Party as the political entity most in touch with voters.  By taking advantage of knowing WHY they lost this election, the Republican Party can set itself up to avoid another failure in 2010.

President Obama – Senator Barack Obama Takes White House November 4, 2008

Posted by Adam Nowland in Election 2008, Politics, President Bush, President Obama, U.S. Government.
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To the exuberant celebration of Democrats and liberals across the United States, and to the dismay of conservatives around the country, Senator Barack Obama (D – Illinois), the Democratic Party’s candidate for president, swept into power November 4th, defeating his Republican opponent, Senator John McCain (R – Arizona).  As polls around the country closed Tuesday evening, the major news networks wasted no time declaring state after state for Obama and his running mate, Senator Joe Biden (D – Delaware).  Preliminary data indicated that President-elect Obama would have no problem reaching the number of electoral votes required to seal his victory, a result which likely surprised very few of the pundits and analysts deciphering polls and results.

                After eight tumultuous years under the administration of President George W. Bush, many Americans were ready for a new direction, and eagerly snapped up Obama’s campaign slogan “Change We Can Believe In,” hoping that electing a liberal Democrat would help stem the tide of anti-American sentiment sweeping the globe and help solve a myriad of other problems ravaging the country.  Bush’s administration oversaw two seemingly endless and unpopular wars in Asia, watched as the global economy entered its worst struggle in years, and angered many millions of people around the globe by taking what was regarded as a unilateral approach in American foreign policy, taking significant action in other parts of the globe without seeking the consultation or assistance of other nations.

                The result was a President with the lowest approval rating of his time in office, and indeed one of the worst approval ratings of any recent Commander-in-Chief.  Similarly, the U.S. Congress has been saddled with an approval rating of barely half of that of the President, shocking when one considers the unpopularity of President Bush, and even more shocking when one remembers that it is controlled not by the Republicans, but Democrats.  Even the most casual observer of the American government can conclude that voters are fed up with the way the government is being run.  Regardless of one’s views of the effectiveness of the current administration and Congress, it is clear that those men and women entering office in 2009 face substantial, if not overwhelming, challenges.

                Indeed, it is a significant show of faith on the part of voters to elect a President who has yet to complete even a single term of office as a senator, and one who brings a considerable lack of experience as well as tremendous expectations with him to the Oval Office.  Obama holds the distinction of becoming the first African-American to ever hold the country’s highest office, a major step forwards for minorities in the United States, but he will be under close scrutiny from both those who voted for him and those who opposed him.  Obama must demonstrate that he can effectively do the job of leading the world’s greatest nation, and prove that he was justifiably elected because of his abilities and not just because people saw his race as a chance to vote for something different.  Obama is smart enough to put race behind him all together, but there are still enormous numbers of Americans who voted for him simply because he was black, or against him for the same reason.  Each of those votes for or against was a form of racism in and of themselves, and Obama must rise above such a dangerous idea.

                In addition to his achievement of being the first black man to be elected President, Obama will also have to face the challenging problems of the economy, the national deficit, America’s declining status in global policy-making and popularity, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, problems with the national health system, Social Security, and the all-encompassing “War on Terror.”  Each of these problems is significant, and most cannot be controlled singularly from the White House.  Obama has the support of a heavily Democratic Congress, which will enable him to accomplish a great deal for at least two years, if not more, but such power is also a curse.  The President-elect will have no excuses if he cannot find solutions for many of these problems.  In fact, Obama runs the risk of making some of these problems worse by tampering with plans that are already in the works.  For example, then-Senator Obama strongly opposed the Iraq “surge” when more American troops were sent to the Middle East to help secure the new Iraqi government.  Mr. Obama’s fears proved to be false when the surge was decidedly effective, but if he chooses to immediately draw down American forces to appease his electors upon taking office, the situation in the tentatively quiet region could again spiral out of control.  Obama will need to tread cautiously, as American voters give their elected officials short leashes, and could very easily vote Mr. Obama out in four years if his proposed plans don’t create visible results.

                President-elect Barack Obama campaigned on a platform of “change,” a tangible object or idea that Americans apparently desperately needed and wanted.  Time will tell if Obama’s guarantees of something that breaks from “business as usual” in Washington are true, or if his words are just another fantasy in the land of fairy tales.  Obama faces a difficult road ahead, and the margin of his victory and the amount of support he has as he takes office will only add to his struggles if he fails to produce.  The American voters have spoken, and they have marched to the byword of “change.”  Let us as citizens hope that this change isn’t just believable, but that it truly is necessary – and effective –  as well.

Site Update February 20, 2008

Posted by Adam Nowland in Politically Incorrect Blog.
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Politically Incorrect is proud to announce the re-emergence of one of its writers, Adam Nowland, from his hiatus as a law school student to once again being a full-time contributor.  Starting immediately, Mr. Nowland assumes the role of Foreign Editor in addition to his duties as Editor-in-Chief.  Mr. Nowland’s duties will include continuing to provide leadership in the blog’s direction and will now include managing posts regarding foreign affairs, though he will continue to contribute to domestic issues as well.

In addition, Politically Incorrect is excited to announce the elevation of Sean Varner from Staff Writer to Domestic Editor, where his duties will include overseeing all domestic news posts, with special attention to Vote 2008, Politically Incorrect’s groundbreaking original analysis of this year’s national elections.  Mr. Varner will also help contribute to the blog’s foreign affairs department as well.  Both editors look forward to assuming their new duties with vigor, and hope that the blog’s regular readers continue to support the site.

Hussein Executed December 30, 2006

Posted by Adam Nowland in Iraq, Middle East, Saddam Hussein.
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In case you haven’t heard yet, the news services are reporting that Saddam Hussein was executed today on the gallows, ending a dark chapter in Iraqi history.  The dictator was officially executed as a result of his conviction in the slaughter of more than a hundred men and boys after an attempt on his life in the 1980’s, but Hussein was to have been tried for a number of other, possibly more serious, crimes as well.  On the one hand, Hussein’s execution finally gives closure to millions of Iraqis who lived under his repressive regime.  However, his death cheats thousands of other Iraqis who were also wronged by Hussein and never had the chance to see him brought to justice for those crimes.  Lest anyone protest that the trial was a sham, consider this:  Hussein, directly or indirectly, reportedly caused the death of more than 15 million Iraqis, by murder, deprivation of medical and food supplies (directed instead to Hussein’s military) or subterfuge.  Sean and I will continue to analyze Hussein’s legacy the next few days more in depth. 

Congratulations: You’ve Just Been Named Time’s Person of the Year! December 17, 2006

Posted by Adam Nowland in Internet.
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I’m not kidding.  Time named you the person of the year.  This article from Time officially names “You” as the person of the year.  That means you, me, George Bush, everyone.  Or at least everyone who reads the article, I suppose.  According to the article, because we’ve truly entered the Information Age, spearheaded by the growing influence of the internet as a tool for communication and change, the individual has taken power from the few.  In a way, thats very true.  Thanks to blogging, everyone is a commentator on the news.  Instant access to newsites gives you the world’s issues immediately.  Company websites make buying and selling things so much quicker and easier.  If anything, the internet has made life much more convienient.  Of course, since the article named blogging as an example of why they chose to name you Person of the Year, Sean and I deserve some credit for helping it come about.  Of course, in a way I suppose we’ve already been rewarded, since I know I’ve been named Person of the Year, and I assume Sean has as well.  Congratulations to each and every one of you on being named Person of the Year…now go work on getting a repeat award!

New JibJab Video December 14, 2006

Posted by Adam Nowland in Humor, Politics.
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JibJab, known for its cartoonish videos lampooning world affairs while using pictures of its fans, released a new video today, “Nuckin’ Futs,” or the 2006 Year in Review.  The videos are usually pretty funny; past films take on the last presidential election, Washington politics, and world affairs.  If you’ve often found yourself shaking your head while reading the news and thinking that the world has gone insane, this musical video is right for you.  Its only a couple minutes long, but manages to get in jabs on the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, Brittney Spears, Donald Rumsfeld, Democrats and Republics, “Brangelina”, and a lot more.  Check it out.

Ban Ki-moon Sworn In as New U.N. Secretary General December 14, 2006

Posted by Adam Nowland in Ban Ki-moon, Kofi Annan, United Nations.
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     A new era began today in the United Nations as departing Secretary General Kofi Annan watched his successor, Ban Ki-moon of South Korea, be sworn into office, according to this Washington Post article.  Annan leaves behind a mixed legacy, full of wasted opportunities and political and ethical missteps, and it will be interesting to see how Ban can handle cleaning up after Annan’s leadership.
     Sadly, although Ban showered his predecessor with praise, under Annan’s command the United Nations has made itself into a relatively toothless organization with no respect from the world community.  Those of you who had read this site frequently know that I have little love for the United Nations, not because of the ideals that it stands for but rather for its inability to get anything done.  Under the leadership of Annan, though, who is really suprised?  Lets look at some of Annan’s most recent accomplishments as the head of the United Nations.
     First, he seems to be ethically challenged, or if not himself, unable to control those closest to him.  The allegations regarding the Iraq oil-for-food program, where several U.N. members were allegedly receiving kickbacks, were the greatest of the recent scandals embroiling the United Nations.  One of those implicated in the scandal was Annan’s son.  If Annan couldn’t ensure the conduct of his own family within the organization (dare I say nepotism?), then how was he expected to set an example to the worldwide community?
     Second, Annan frequently used his position to try to bully nations into doing what he wanted, and if they did not toe his party line, he blasted them in public.  His foolish outcry about Bush and the United States not following his instructions about Iraq last week was ridiculous.  Here is a man who will be remembered as an ineffective leader and one of the worst U.N. Secretary Generals in history reduced to bashing Bush in an attempt to create some sort of legacy.  Seriously, the man has no other hope to be remembered fondly by the world than to jump on the international bandwagon of Bush bashing.  Regardless of one’s feelings of Bush, I expected more from someone who really is supposed to be leading the world, not reduced to whining about a country which defied him at every turn, for legitimate reasons.  I hope that Ban will not fall into the same trap.
     Third, under Annan’s leadership, the United Nations made itself irrelevant as a peacekeeping force.  I can’t think of one SUCESSFUL military mission that the U.N. carried out in the last decade.  Dafur?  What military force has the U.N. managed to get there?  The Congo?  Sure, theres an official U.N force there.  There are also six countries with military forces, along with rebels, still fighting there.  Iraq?  Ha.  For all that Annan and the United Nations assailed U.S. and allied efforts to find peace and remove Saddam Hussein there, they’ve done nothing but complain.  They have made NO effort to assist the Iraqi government or peacekeeping forces there.  Afghanistan?  Nope.  Thats a NATO force.  The Balkan conflict?  Same thing.  The United Nations has become a joke.
     In fact, one could probably blame the ineffectiveness of the United Nations to promote peace and world unity for a large portion of the violence in the world today.  The United States sends troops abroad so much because our government (Democrat AND Repulicans alike) understand that no one else, especially the United Nations, can provide adequate peace-keeping forces.  When you add the fact that the U.N.’s vaunted committees are farces, their respectibility plummets even further.  For example, when your “Human Rights Commission” has luminaries such as Saudi Arabia and Libya, you know your organization is in good shape.  For years, the United States has refused to pay its dues to the United Nations because of its disgust with the organization.  Before you cry partisan politics, it is important to note that this dates back to the time of President Clinton.
     In short, the United Nations has become akin to a three-ringed circus over Annan’s tenure.  Irrelevent, irresponsible, and ethically challenged, Annan’s leadership has effectively ruined a world body that already had trouble keeping member nations in line.  Faced with this reality, Annan has been reduced to complaining about the countries who are willing to take a stand without his support (which wouldn’t do much anyways).  Now that his tumultuous term has ended, the world can breathe a sigh of relief and hope for a resurgance of aggresive international dimplomacy, peacekeeping missions, and ethical reforms that can bring the United Nations back to relavance.  Hopefully Ban Ki-moon is the right man for the job.  I wish him the best of luck.  He doesn’t have a tough act to follow.

Experts Say Iraq Study Group’s Recomendations Ill Advised December 12, 2006

Posted by Adam Nowland in Iran, Iraq, Iraq Study Group, Middle East, U.S. Foreign Relations.
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     The Washington Post today released this article talking about expert reaction to some of the recommendations by the much ballyhooed ‘Iraq Study Group’, the bipartisan group of well known Washington former government leaders.  Apparently, a group of three generals and two academics met with President Bush and Vice President Cheney yesterday with their reactions to the study group’s proposed changes and their own advice.   According to the article, the ‘experts’ didn’t think much of the ISG’s plan.
Having examined the ISG’s report and proposed changes, many of which seem like they would be nice in a perfect world, I’m very skeptical that the majority of those changes are feasible.  After seeing why the experts are blasting the ISG’s report, it should be a blinding flash of the obvious for the ISG’s members and their supporters.  The experts are a bit more realistic regarding the state of Iraq and how the problem can be solved.
(more…)

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