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Posts Tagged ‘Politics’

I was reading this article the other day about whether the House of Representatives should be expanded based on the disparity if how many people each congressperson actually represents.  I won’t summarize the whole article here, but the gist of it was that the congresspeople from Rhode Island represent approximately 530,000 people each, while the congressman from Montana represents over 950,000.  That means that the 1.05 million people in Rhode Island have two votes in the house, while the .95 million people in Montana have one.

My first gut-level response to all of this was that the current system doesn’t seem fair.  The 400,000 person disparity is just too large and it is possibly unconstitutional as well.  I won’t go into detail on that issue here, but feel free to comment about it (and for some background on the issue, here’s a link to the Supreme Court’s decision in Baker v. Carr ).  But then I read on in the article for an estimate of how large the house would have to be in order to make things more “fair”–the answer was between 932-1761!  Woh.  The number 435 seems pretty arbitrary to me, but the thought of two times as many representatives on Capitol Hill just makes my head spin.

Even after reading the whole article and thinking about it for a few days, I still don’t really know what to think, and I’m curious about other people’s thoughts–especially those of you who have worked on the Hill and seen the way the House works.  It seems to me that doubling the number of representatives can only make it harder to get things done in the House.  On the other hand, it would make voting districts smaller, which means the representatives would (in theory) have to raise less money and would be more accountable to their constituents.  It also might make them less likely to follow the party line and tailor their votes to their home district’s needs/wants instead.

Forgetting about the logistical problems of fitting 1000 representatives into the Capitol, do you think expanding the House would lead to better or worse government?

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“And he said unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar’s, and unto God the things which be God’s.” Someone pretty famous and well-regarded spoke these words many years ago. Who was it again? Oh yes, it was Jesus Christ; and perhaps he was anticipating the 2008 presidential race.

While I believe I have made my support for Senator Clinton known before here on Sua Sponte, I also very much admire Senator Obama, and I mourn the fire he has come under based on his association with the controversial (and ironically-named) Pastor Jeremiah Wright.  More than that though, I mourn the degree to which we let religion enter and affect our coverage of political candidates. This campaign season people have lambasted Huckabee’s Christian fundamentalism, vowed never to vote for a Mormon (goodbye Governor Romney), attacked McCain and Giuliani for not being Christian enough, and spread rumors that Obama is a Muslim.  (By the way, I’ve yet to figure out why that’s supposed to be a bad thing.  Perhaps I don’t suffer from the same part to whole logic flaw as the ridiculous Americans who equate fundamentalist Islam with Islam itself.)  Now the same people who said they could never vote for a man whose name rhymes with “Osama” are saying he’s a bad Christian because of the overzealous Pastor Wright.  Obama just can’t win! First he was unelectable because he was a Muslim. Now he’s unelectable because he’s a Christian, but he goes to the wrong church.  My response to it all: does ANYONE out there remember that whole separation of church and state this country was supposedly founded on?  Can we please start talking about things that actually affect the future of the United States some time soon, preferably before Nov. 4?

(Although I question the prudence of furthering this footage’s notoriety, to see Wright’s controversial sermon you can check it out here.  Be sure to read all the comments. My favorite is the one about how Obama can’t be President because he clearly doesn’t get what real Christianity is because he has a bad pastor. You can’t make this stuff up!)

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Scandal!

UPDATE: I see that Ms. Jahann has faster typing skills than I do.  See below for her post.

Governor of New York Eliot Spitzer is about to give a news conference in response to an article on the NYTimes website linking him to a prostitution ring.

Stay tuned for more.

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Ms. Westbrook’s post reminded me of an article that made the rounds on blogs a few weeks ago, “Goodbye to All That (2)” by Robin Morgan.

http://www.womensmediacenter.com/ex/020108.html

While I agree that there is a large amount of sexism underpinning the dynamics of this historic race, I have to question whether or not we can say that this is just another instance of women getting pushed to the back and letting African Americans go first. (more…)

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Last week, after months of disparaging the game as the ultimate expression of American laziness and the downfall of music as we know it, I bit the bullet and played Rock Band for the first time. At first I found it to be an amusing test of hand eye coordination, but as soon as the microphone/karaoke function was plugged in I discovered that in fact, the game is just the latest example of the pervasive nature of our country’s lingering sexism.  There is one female song in the game’s entire repertoire.  A bizarre omission, considering the selling power and musical influence of female artists past and present. 

Our tolerance and promotion of gender discrimination is ubiquitous, manifesting itself in every walk of life, from something as trivial as a video game, to spheres of much scarier implications.  Late last year, no ado was made when a man at a Hillary Clinton rally held a poster reading “Iron My Shirt”, and John McCain was barely indicted for his disappointing response to a supporter’s question, “How do we beat the bitch?!”  I can’t even imagine the response that analogous comments to Obama would have yielded.  In what seems on the surface trivial (though subtextually I think is not), Urban Outfitters is currently selling an air freshener with Clinton’s face on it reading, “She’s the Man”; because apparently that is the unspoken presidential prerequisite.  The focus of this campaign season seems to be overcoming racism and pretending that we’ve already beaten sexism.  Racism is treated with the revulsion it deserves while we think nothing of the fact that only 76% of men responding to a Cosmopolitan survey said they would vote for a woman for president. (In fact, in that issue, the magazine lauded that statistic as a triumph!)

If Obama wins the presidency, it will be a case of history repeating itself, with African American men getting it before the women do, and I am sure we will fist-pump such a win as a victory over the last remaining great discrimination, while 52% of the population are left still voiceless.  African American men achieved property ownership, suffrage, and even the right to serve on a jury before women, and very soon they may attain the White House first as well.  And while Obama is a very worthy candidate, and his winning should be applauded as progress, I am afraid the disparate treatment and unequal influence of women will go unnoticed and unaddressed for who knows how many decades to come.

Liz Westbrook

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Today’s Washington Post has a story on the “flip-flops” (changing positions, not smacking sandals) that Sen. Clinton and Sen. Obama have made throughout the race for the Democratic nomination.  Strangely, although the article has top 5 lists for both Clinton and Obama, it is titled just “Top Obama Flip-Flops.”  I’m of the mind that, of the two, this’ll be more damaging for Obama because he is running as an idealist.  Clinton gets off easy: she’s “experienced” and people expect seasoned politicians to change their minds at the drop of a hat. Or dime.

I’ve listed a condensed version below; for more, go to the WP’s list here.  (Via Today’s Papers.)

Top Clinton Flip-Flops

  1. NAFTA: from “good for America” to “critic of the shortcomings.”
  2. No Child Left Behind: from “a major step forward” to just a “test test test approach.”
  3. War in Iraq: from no timetables to “start withdrawing within 60 days of inauguration.”
  4. Illegal immigrants: from drivers licenses to no drivers licenses.
  5. FL/MI delegates: from pledging not to campaign to seating the delegates at the convention.

Top Obama Flip-Flops

  1. Funding from unions: from “special interest” to representatives of the “working people.”
  2. Public financing of campaign: from unqualified “yes” to attaching conditions.
  3. Cuba: from “end the embargo” to “it’s an important inducement for change.”
  4. Illegal immigration: from opposing to supporting crack-downs on businesses that hire illegal immigrants.
  5. Marijuana: from ending criminal penalties to opposing decriminalization.

I can’t wait to see Sen. McCain’s list!  That would be a fun one.

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John Edwards has dropped out of the race for the Democratic nomination.  He is not endorsing anyone for now.  NYT.

Although I think he has yet to pull the trigger, Rudy Giuliani is set to follow Edwards’s lead and drop out of the race for the Republican nomination following his loss in the Florida primary.  NYT.

The Washington Post has an article on how these departures will alter the primary landscape.  The link isn’t working for me right now but you can find it off the paper’s front page here.

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