Until Midterm Elections...

Scott versus Scott

Welcome to our blog. Here we will debate the days most serious topics and allow users the chance to discuss the topics as well. The range of topics will vary, but one thing will remain certain, the debate will rage on. Scott Lesinski is a proud conservative and Scott Jones is a proud liberal. However, the roles will switch on some topics. Stay tuned.

Scott Lesinski is currently an actuarial associate for a large human resources and insurance consulting firm in Saint Louis. He is also an avid student of US history and enjoys following current events, with an eye to their contextual relationship to the past. He is also, in fact, a former student of Mr. Scott Jones. Scott is working toward his FSA credentials, which is akin to earning a PHD in Actuarial Science.

Scott Jones is currently a high school social studies teacher at a high school in suburban St. Louis, MO. He teaches World History, AP American Government and Senior American Foreign Policy. He has a BS. Ed. (Secondary Social Studies) from the University of Missouri - Columbia and a M.A. (History) from Southeast Missouri State University. He is currently working on a dissertation in character education to earn a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A final tribute to Irving Kristol

One of the great things about having the blog is that when someone of great stature dies, it gives us an opportunity to discuss their life and impact on politics/society/culture/philosophy.

Last Friday, Irving Kristol died. With his death, we lost one of the great conservative minds. In fact, if conservatives of today (by that I mean today's Republican Party) thought like Kristol, I'd be on board.

David Brooks of the New York Times wrote a moving tribute to him and his ideas. The link is posted here.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/22/opinion/22brooks.html?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss

Kristol said everything more brilliantly than I have been able to on the blog. Brooks does a great job of summarizing the key tenets to Kristol's worldview.

1) No human idea to fix society is perfect. Everything has its positive side and its negative side. No idea is entirely void of some validity (He did make an exception for genocide), nor is any idea perfectly valid. We assess the strengths and weaknesses and make do with what we believe to be the right decision.

2) Only two cheers should go to capitalism. While it has been the greatest engine for technological/societal/etc development, it creates a system of winners and losers. Kristol argued that almost always the losers are not to be blamed for losing. It is a culmination of capitalistic bad luck, societal flaws and other factors beyond the control of any individual. In fact, this is not Kristol's original idea. This idea can be found originally in work called An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith. Kristol just applied the ideas to the modern world.

3) Since we have a flawed economic system, a "welfare state" is mandatory. He did not argue for a paternal system, but one that provided "social insurance" for those that capitalism has deemed losers. This is also not Kristol's original idea. The original idea can be found in a work called An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith. Kristol just applied the ideas to the modern world.

4) Capitalism has blinded us to believe that all problems can be fixed economically. Sometimes we have moral decisions to make as a society before we can work towards an economic solution to social injustice. This is also not Kristol's original idea. The original idea can be found in a work called An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith. Kristol just applied the ideas to the modern world.

This is just a quick summary of the tenets Brooks describes in his article. In my readings of Kristol, Brooks' article is a fitting summary of the life work of one of America's great minds.

He will be missed.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Racism in Obama's America

Before the election of 2008, many people on both sides of the political spectrum speculated on the possibility that if we, as a nation, could elect a black president, the spectre of racism in America would be forever destroyed. How could a nation so conceived and so matured in its thinking vote for a man of color and not be able to say that finally, America is not a racist nation?

Admittedly, we've come a long way in this country. The founders of this country wrote inequality into the Constitution with the three-fifths compromise. Analysis of this action does show that it was infact taken as a means to prevent the spread of slavery...limiting the population of slave-owning states would limit their voting power in Congress. I take that as a signal that our founders were forever ahead of the curve. They knew that at the time, slavery and racism were too imbedded in the American way of life to threaten the young Republic with that battle and they put it off.

Lets see how far we've come: Lincoln declared the slaves to be free with the emancipation proclamation, he nearly tore the Union apart with a brutal war to keep it together, and he gave his life because of his actions. We have demolished the Jim Crow laws. We have passed Affirmative Action legislation under the guise of helping minorities. We have done more than nearly any other nation on the planet to confront the evil of racism. We even elected a black man to the office of President of the United States.

Unfortunately for us and our sanity, Rush Limbaugh was 100% right when he proclaimed in February of 2008 that electing Obama would not put racism to bed in this country...it would exacerbate it.

The real outrage in this matter is that the charge of racism comes as a last ditch effort to discredit those who oppose Obama's agenda. Lets examine the facts: as a writer in the politico said earlier this week, Obama is failing pretty miserably on most of his policy objectives. He had to shove through a stimulus bill without debate on only the power of his personality and his bulwark of a democratic Congress. Cap and Trade legislation limped to a finish in the Senate and has been totally abandoned in the House. Card check for the "Employee Free Choice Act" is going to be removed...that was the whole point of the EFCA. And now, Obama's principle cause, the one for which he has been campaigning since 2003, National Healthcare, has indeed become his Waterloo.

Nearly 2 million Americans marched on Washington on Saturday as a part of the 9/12 project. They were protesting many things, all of them related to Obama's policy objectives. Consistent polling has Obama's approval rating plummeting from just a few short months ago. Approval for his handling of healthcare is in the toilet. He is losing the debate. What happens when liberals begin to lose the debate? Flip to page one of the Democratic playbook and drop the race card.

Jimmy Carter goes out there saying that a vast portion of the opposition to Obama is due to the fact that he is a black man, that he is an African American.

Rep Hank Johnson of Georgia said that Senator Joe Wilson's outburst of "You Lie!" during the presidents speech has jinned up a lot of racist sentiment and supposed that now we're going to be seeing a lot of people donning white hoods and cloaks and riding around the countryside intimidating people.

Here is a montage of other media quotes:


CAMPBELL BROWN: ...vicious, racist imagery attacking our first African-American president.
LAWRENCE O'DONNELL: Gentleman Joe Wilson has done much to make the racist history of South Carolina jump back into our present consciousness.
CANDY CROWLEY: Critics think this is about resistance to a black man as president.
JAMES CARVILLE: People are upset with President Obama because of the color of his skin. Who cannot believe that?
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Could there be a refusal to accept the legitimacy of Barack Obama as president because of his race?
WOLF BLITZER: A small but disturbing minority within the tea party movement is also blatantly anti-black.
JOHN RIDLEY: When you talk about racial image, this is not just standard debate.
ELAINE QUIJANO: A small but passionate minority is also voicing what some see as racist rhetoric.
JOHN AVLON: Hitler. Communism. Racism. All this ugliness is bubbling up.
ANDERSON COOPER: There is an undercurrent of racism in some of the criticism of the president.
JUAN WILLIAMS: An attack on somebody because you really don't like the fact that they are president or because of their race.
ROSS DOUTHAT: Clearly Barack Obama's race plays some role in the kind of anxieties that are roiling the political right.
CLARENCE PAGE: People are not just mad at Obama. They are mad at Jesse Jackson. They are mad at Reverend Wright. They are mad at Al Sharpton. They are mad at people who have nothing to do with Obama except they all happen to be black.

We are to presume, I suppose, that there can be no legitimate, thoughtful, well-reasoned, substantive reason to disagree with The One. Therefore, any such criticism must be because those lobbying the critiques are RACIST!

Give me a break. This is not only insulting, it is so pigheaded and narrowminded that it barely deserves attention.

Joe Wilson may have broken rules of decorum, but when will Harry Reid apologize for calling Bush a liar? When will Jack Murtha apologize for claiming our troops in Iraq were murdering women and children? When will Nancy Pelosi apologize for calling Americans with a policy disagreement nazis? Were their comments racially charged? What does race have to do with disagreeing with the President?

This just further exemplifies my belief that it is the Left in this country that is obsessed with race. Not only race, but race-politics and identity politics. The political Left is constantly trying to divide the American people into groups and pit them against each other. This is another example of Obama and his ilk grasping at straws in a last ditch effort to save their healthcare agenda. It truly is sad that in this, the "Post-racial Administration", we would see such blatantly obvious and troubling actions being taken.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Culture of Corruption in Washington...Who is guilty and what must we do?

Allow me to begin this post by first mentioning that I am not going to get on this blog and strictly demonize democrats. Corruption in government is prevalent on both sides of the aisle. Its just that typically, the party in power gets the focus since the minority can do little to effect any major change. Corruption in government also has many faces; it can mean "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours"-type special interest legislation. It can mean politicians who don't follow the laws they themselves write for us. It can mean unchecked, unconstitutional power-grabbing.

What I intend to do is to expose some examples of corruption in our government. There are no doubt countless others. Glenn Beck said it great today (yes, THAT Glenn Beck, and before you stop reading for irrational hatred of the man, please at least hear him out) when he said that it doesn't matter that Americans come in all different ideologies. We can disagree on matters of policy and vigorously debate those ideas. But right and wrong exist and where there is corruption, we as Americans must stand up against it. Too long have we been slaves to a corrupt electoral system that is designed to protect incumbency at taxpayer expense. Too long have we allowed a shadowy Federal Reserve complete control of our money supply with no oversight or investigation. Too long have our politicians promised us many things and then delivered the opposite because of the stink of Washington politics.

As Beck pointed out, corruption exists in the Republican party. It exists in the Democrat party. GREAT! Lets stop trying to find out who is "most corrupt" and instead, clean our own houses and then return to the political table with morality intact.

I'd like to begin with the electoral system in this country. My beef is the gerrymandering that has taken place in the electoral map of this country, which guarantees reelection for 80% of incumbents. The US Congress has something like a 17% approval rating. Yet we keep sending back the same dunces we all seem to detest. Why? It couldn't be because the politicians have picked and chosen which voters they serve instead of the voters picking and choosing which politicians to send, could it? Check out this slideshow from Slate.com. Click through it a few times and you will be amazed at the ludicrous nature of many congressional districts. Of special note are
Illinois 4th, Luis Gutierrez, D
Illinois 17th, Phil Hare, D
Massachusets 4th, Barney Frank, D
Maryland 2nd, Dutch Ruppersberger, D
Maryland 3rd, John Sarbanes, D
North Carolina 3rd, Walter Jones, R
Pennsylvania 12th, John Murtha, D
Pennsylvania 18th, Tim Murphy, R

http://www.slate.com/id/2208216/slideshow/2208554/entry/2208575/fs/0//

We need to remap the US for Congressional Representation. I propose an algorithm that would be fairly easy to write. Take the population of the state and divide by the number of reps. That will be each representative's population of voters, so each voter in a state has equal power. Then, you simple divide up the state into blocks of voters that are the same population. If you have several key population centers, such as St. Louis and Kansas City, begin in the dead center of that city and split it up. The key is to avoid all the crazy pockets of voters scattered all over the place. Those representatives ought to have to work for us and be accountable, and this will largely start when we have fair electoral mapping.

Also, take away all the benefits of incumbency. No franking privileges, etc. Level the playing field. I don't want to subsidize the reelection campaign of someone against whom I will be voting in November, neither should you.

About the Fed, I'll say this. We still don't know where two trillion dollars went right at the end of 2008. There has been a call to audit the Fed and I say, go for it. We need transparency in our government, as much as possible.

Our elected representatives have been in the pockets of special interests for ages, from trial lawyers to ACORN to unions like the AFL-CIO and the SEIU. Its time our government broke away from such ties. For example, unless you listen to talk radio or read the drudge report, you probably don't know this, but there have been three different cases of ACORN community advisers caught on video explaining to a man and woman, posing as a pimp and prostitute, how to lie to the government and obtain a loan to open up a brothel. Not only that, but they are told that the plan is to import 13-14 year old girls from El Salvador to turn tricks in the brothel, and instead of reacting in a disgusted and appalled manner, the ACORN workers all happily advised the man and woman how to claim these children as dependents on their taxes to receive a tax benefit!

Several ACORN workers have been fired, but it can hardly be said that this was an isolated incident. Over the course of at least a week, ACORN workers in Washington, Baltimore, and New York were all caught on "candid camera" by James O'Keefe, a conservative activist, who posed as the pimp. ACORN is threatening to sue, but over what? They've fired the perps, but they owe us an explanation. The Senate voted today to stop the funding that ACORN was allotted in the stimulus bill...$4 billion dollars...but that is not enough. They deserve an investigation. Last week, something like 8 ACORN workers were found guilty of voter fraud in Florida, and during the election of 2008, ACORN workers were indicted in 15-16 states on charges of voter fraud.

It is clear that something sinister is lurking beneath the shadows at ACORN, and our government must not have ANY involvement with this organization until they can absolutely prove that they have cleaned up their act. Somehow, I think this is highly unlikely.

When it comes to opacity in government, look no further than the administration of Barack Obama. He has appointed 40 something "czars" to supercede the vetting and confirmation process that under our Constitution, must take place in the Senate. We recently learned of Van Jones, an avowed communist, a racist, and a 9/11 truther who in 2004, signed a statement claiming that the terror attacks on 9/11 were an inside job. It took ONE WEEK of people like Glenn Beck, Limbaugh, Fox News, Matt Drudge, the Gateway Pundit and others to bring enough of this man's statements to light to force his resignation from the administration. Its great that he's gone, but the real question is, how in the hell did he get appointed by Obama in the first place? Why not use the Cabinet, which has Senatorial oversight? Why not vet these people before giving them jobs for which we don't know what they are paid or what they actually do?

Why is our Treasury Secretary, Tim Geihtner, a known tax cheat and fraud, still serving?
Why is Charles Rangel, another known tax cheat and fraud, and chairman of the ways and means committee!, still in the Senate?
Why was so little concern shown when it was discovered that William Jefferson, D Louisiana, was in possession of $90K that he had stashed in his freezer?

Look, I'm not angry because these people support policies I do not, I'm angry because if I failed to report a vacation house in the Bahamas on my taxes, as Rangel did, I WOULD BE IN JAIL.
If I hadn't paid over $35K worth of taxes over several years, as Geihtner did, I WOULD BE IN JAIL. There is a double standard in Washington and the corruption has to stop.

What can..no...what must we do if we want to stop this corruption and take back our country, for Democrats and Republicans alike?

We must become informed of the corruption, first of all. Read http://www.drudgereport.com/
and www.thegatewaypundit.blogspot.com daily. Watch Fox News (CNN, MSNBC, CBS all failed to report on Van Jones, and they are utterly ignoring the ACORN fiasco, which is one of the biggest corruption stories of the year). I'm not saying stop watching the news you like, but branch out. Pay attention to what is going on behind the scenes in Washington. And most of all, spread the word to others. Call your senators and representatives to let them know to get out of the pockets of special interest. Demand accountability. We need to champion an electoral map makeover. This country is ours, not theirs. This is not a republican or democrat issue...it is the people vs the elites in Washington. We need to restore common sense and transparency to government. If we fail at this cause, our country will fail as well.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Is it as bad as Conservatives say it is? NO!!

I posted this as a comment, but I think it is important enough to put in as a main topic. We are being faced with too many lies from conservatives about what nationalized medicine looks like in other countries. If it was as bad as the conservative liars say it is, it wouldn't be as popular as it actually is.

Scott - since you love posting links for articles that support your unsubstantiated views on the UK and Canada health care systems, here's mine.

http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/news/stories.nsf/editorialcommentary/story/348F52DE319AF4DC86257623007FAAEB?OpenDocument

The British, French, Irish, Finnish, Swedes, Swiss, Germans, Italians,etc love their national health care program. Conservatives like to point out the small minority of problems with the European model of health care, but these are simply not true of the overall picture of these systems.I've been in constant contact with friends from Europe and they are appalled at the conservative attacks on their system. Sure, they argue all the time about what should be covered, but they never argue about the overall program. They love it and are very happy with it.This link explains the lies of conservatives concerning the British National Health Service from the British perspective.

http://www.salon.com/politics/war_room/2009/08/14/british_nhs/index.html

A recent Harris poll found the following information about the overall happiness Europeans have with their health care. The numbers below represent that total percentage of people that were at least happy with the system and felt only minor changes were needed (the numbers in parenthesis are people who were completely happy with the system and felt absolutely no changes were necessary)

France: 78% (29%)
Netherlands: 91% (42%)
Canada: 86% (26%)
Spain: 83% (22%)
UK: 76% (26%)
Italy: 77% (22%)
Germany: 77% (19%)

These overwhelming majorities indicate a strong satisfaction with the sytem. Many people who indicated some minor changes were needed consider them minor and not worthy of a system overhaul.

Furthermore, the following information from the Harris poll shows the following percentage of people in each country who believe their health care system is the best in the world. (Not as much data was available here.)

UK - 59%
France - 70%
Germany - 32% (Most envious of the Netherland system)
Italy - 28% - (Most envious of the French system)
The Netherlands - 86%

The most interesting fact in this category is that NONE of the Europeans were envious of our system.

The same poll found that 69% of British believe the National Health Service is a fundamental program that is necessary for the maintaining of the high standard of living in Britain and that everything must be done to maintain the service. Both of the main political parties (Conservative and Labor) in Britain support the NHS and discuss only changes to bring better service to the people.

I don't think these numbers indicate the same irrational fear that conservatives are attempting to ram down the minds of Americans.

This is understandable since the truth doesn't support their position.