Thursday, May 27, 2010

Today In Iowa Politics..

I rarely discuss the politics of my home state of Iowa but today I feel moved to do so...The big race for most of us Iowans this year is the Governors race. Chet Culver (Democrat) has certainly not impressed many Iowans with his performance the last 4 years and as you might expect there are many who challenging him this fall, but before that happens we have to get through the Republican Primary first. The two main contendors for the Republican nod are Terry Brandstad and Bob Vander Plaats. Brandstad is a former governor who served 4 full terms in the 80's and 90's here in Iowa (a total of 16 years) and is very well liked by most Iowans because he came in during a rough economic patch in Iowa and left office with a historic budget surplus (which has long evaporated)...Bob Vander Plaats has tried to run a few times now and lost the Republican nod in 2006 and settled for being a Lt. Governor candidate instead and still lost to Chet Culver. Regardless of who wins, most polls in Iowa show Culver losing. So what are the big issues here in the middle of nowhere? Funny enough they are issues that are big issues across the nation. Gay Marriage is one of the key issues for the Republicans this year. To those who didnt watch the news much last year, Iowa became on of the few states in the US that allows gay marriage after the Iowa Supreme Court threw out Iowa's traditional marriage law and authorized gay couples to marry. This caused a big uproar in the state but the Democratic governor and legislature largely ignored it which means by Iowa law the gay marriages can't be legally stopped until likely 2012 or later.

This is where the two main Republican candidates differ. Bob Vander Plaats claims that if elected he will issue an executive order putting a stay on same-sex marriages. He claims the Supreme Court overstepped its bounds and "created" law instead of interpretting it and therefore that legitimizes his possible actions. However for those of us with at least a basic understand on how our legal system works can tell you such an executive order is unconstitutional and illegal. The courts would more than likely throw it out and cause a constitutional crisis here in Iowa. Such an executive order would be like President Obama saying he didn't like the Supreme Court's ruling on something and issuing an executive order to block the ruling...It's ridiculus and the fact that Vander Plaats continues to claim this to me just makes me dislike him the point that if he wins the Republican primary for governor I will vote instead of Chet Culver who while a crappy governor overall at least he knows his constitutional limits...His main opponent Terry Brandstad has stated that while he doesn't approve of the Iowa Supreme Court's ruling he also thinks we should overturn the law the right way (via the legislature and state-wide referendum). And for that Mr. Brandstad, I will vote for you and wish you the best..and for Mr. Vander Plaats, you sir are a Dumbass...Cheers

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Catching Up..

Sadly I've been busy with work as of late and hadn't had any inspiration for writing..But considering the recent events in the last few weeks I think some catching up is in order...

Firstly, I'd like to discuss the controversial Anti-Immigration bill signed into law in Arizona. The law has been applauded by the Right and decried by the Left. There have been large and sometimes violent protests against this new law and there have been calls for boycotting business with Arizona (including a traveling warning from the Mexican government). On the Right it has been hailed as a state's effort to do what the Federal government has failed to do. From my studying of this bill, I find that both sides have flaws in their argument.

Flaws with the Left's Arguments:
1. Most of this law mirrors Federal statutes on illegal immigration including have proper identification if you are an immigrant (visa or green card for example) and if you are here illegally you are breaking the law and will be treated as such.
2. The protests have been more like controlled riots and have been treated different by the so-called "Main Stream Media"..which seems to compared them equally with Tea Party protests which while filed with stupid signs and angry words were lacking in the same kind of violence seen in these Anti-Arizona protests.

Flaws with the Right's Arguments:
1. You has to wonder about a law that Arizona Association of Chiefs of Police didn't want passed and for good reasons. As police chiefs and sheriffs here in my home state of Iowa have said, such a law is inherently expensive and hard to enforce. In all likelihood most independent observers believe such a law will be expensive for Arizona so don't be surprised if Arizona's taxes go up in the next few years..
2. The Right claims Arizona is doing what the Federal Government has failed to do (and in turn something President Obama has failed to do) in securing the borders..But considering how much the President has had to deal with since taking office I don't believe Immigration Reform could have been explored properly anyway but regardless I have one big question for those on the Right..Where was this outrage of finger-wagging when President Bush was in office? For 8 years under his presidency nothing really changed on the border in terms of reform. I do give Bush credit for setting into motion the enlargement of Border Patrol agents, building better barriers and overall improved border security but such actions are only attacking the symptom and not the true problem. More importantly Immigration Reform was brought up during his Presidency but the Feds wimped out (both Republicans and Democrats) of doing any real reform because they didn't want to risk their political careers.

So while both sides make some good points they also both have major flaws in their reasoning. So how do I see this controversy? Firstly, considering how the Federal government has floundered in Immigration Reform, I understand what Arizona is trying to do with this bill. But having local police try to enforce such a law is tricky. The likelihood of racial profiling and discrimination is high no matter how specific this law may be simple because of human nature. Border Patrol and ICE agents are trained on how to better determine illegal from legal residents for which state police are not as well trained for. Could such training be improved? Of course but that takes time and the bill is now law so the possible of profiling and discrimination remains, hence why such laws are always so tricky. The cost of such a law is also likely going to be a problem and the idea that someone can sue the police/law enforcement because they dont think they are doing a good enough job is a terrible idea. Because such an ability will likely lead to abuses and make Police departments focus too much on illegals and less on other areas of crime in fear they are going to get sued if they don't. If it were not for that provision I would likely support such a bill...

Long story short, a largely O.K. bill but leaves a lot of loose ends and we will have to wait and see how they are tied up..