Thursday, November 25, 2004
In 1817 New York State adopted Thanksgiving Day as an annual custom, and by the middle of the 19th century many other states had done the same. In 1863 President Abraham Lincoln appointed a day of thanksgiving, and since then each president has issued a Thanksgiving Day proclamation, generally designating the fourth Thursday of November as a holiday.
To my American Friends, Happy Thanksgiving. To my friends around the world, Happy Thursday, I wish you peace.
Sunday, November 21, 2004
Changing of the Presidents' Cabinets is Not That Unusual
I have heard a lot of Buzz from all sorts of types concerning the recent and expected future changes in George W's administration.
Starting with George Tenet's resignation from the top CIA position a few months ago in addition to the recent Cabinet resignation and job shifts in George' Bush's administration some might assume that something is wrong.
In fact from a comparitive point of view, the changes in Bush's administration may be seen as moderate.
Typically, whether from froced resignations to mass resignations most Presidents endure changes in their leadership team.
In some cases, such as in 1841 where John Tyler's administration where all but one cabinet member resigned as a symbolic protest to his demanding policies represent an extreme.
With regards to the last five presidents the story of the President's Cabinet is quite interesting.
Jimmy Carter, who served only one term, was involved with what the media dubbed the "July Massacre", in which he demanded the resignation of all his Cabinet members (later only accepting
five). Eight of President Carter's Cabinet members eventually resigned during his one term in office. Notable resignations included Andrew Young, Ambassador to the United Nations, because of an unauthorized meeting he held with PLO leaders and Bert Lance, Carter's budget director, for allegations of financial improprieties.
It was Ronald Reagan who was plagued with the most resignations. Reagan saw all but one of his cabinet positions change hands during his two terms in the office. Samuel Pierce is the only cabinet member to make it through both two terms of his administration. In addition to the cabinet shuffle, Reagan had four chiefs of staff and six national security advisors. Many of Reagan's top leaders left office under a cloud of legal proceedings with the Iran Contra investigation. Casper Weinberger was the hightest person indicted as Defense Secretary. He was charged with lying and concealing (details of the Iran Contra affair).
While Regan's admministration resembled more a game of musical chairs than stable stewardship, George H. Bush's administration was less kinetic. Only seven cabinet secretaries, half his leadership team, served just a single term in office. Only Education Secretary Lauro Cavazos left under inauspicious terms.
Bill Clinton's administration portrait is similar to Reagan's. More than 30 members of his administration were indicted for various legal activities. Before the finish of his second term in office he had 10 of his original cabinet members resign and several of their replacements also resign. President Clinton had four commerce secretaries and three secretaries of the treasury, defense and energy. Only his Attorney General, Janet Reno, as well as his secretaries of interior, education and health and human servies remained for all eight years of his presidency.
As the George W. administration continues to reshape the emphasis should be on who the members are and continue to be, as well as their belief system, rather than the fact that so many changes are taking place. Put in perspective the Cabinet Super-Shuffle we are seeing is quite normal.
Thursday, November 18, 2004
Gay Americans - The Larger Picture
Post the November 2nd election in 2004, many in America and throughout the world have been focused on the suprise voting issue of "moral values" which in some areas appeared to be more of a voting issue then even terrorism, national security and the economy.
While much of the "moral value" push has been attributed to the inclusion Ban Same-Sex Marriage ballot measure, I believe not enough focus has been given to how Gay-Americans fared overall on election day. I further argue that meaningful representation in the government and governing process is far more of a national indicator then the single issue of same-sex marriage.
So why should one be encouraged?
Over 64 openly Gay and Lesbian candidates competed in federal, state and local races. In fact, in 5 of the 12 states that passed anti-gay marriage amendments, openly gay candidates prevailed. On a day when we saw national shift in favor of social conservatism (which I would argue has very little do to with sexuality), we also saw these openly gay candidates do very well.
Take for instance two states in which the same-sex marriage ban was on the ballot, Michigan and Oregon.
In Michigan, Democrat Chris Kolb won 80.1% of the votes for his seat in the House of Representatives.
In Oregon, Democrat Sam Adams, defeated fellow Democrat Nick Fish earning 50.91% of the voet to earn his City Council seat in Portland.
Other Significant wins:
Julia Boseman (D) - North Carolina State Senate (first ever gay/lesgian legislator in the state)
Nicole LeFavour (D) - Idaho State Senate (firste ever gay/lesbian official in the state)
Jeanette Mott Oxford (D) - Missouri State House
Rives Kistler - Oregon Supreme Court
Christine Kehoe (D) - California State Senate (actually won a higher office)
Ed Flanagan (D) - Vermont State Senate (first every openly gay/lesgian senator in that state)
Jennifer Veiga (D) - Colorado State Senate (reelected)
This is far from a complete list of openly gay representatives in our government. If fact if you look at the election results for 2002, you will find that over 100 openly gay candidates ran for office, over 30 of whom were incumbents at that time. These 2002 elections saw Democrat Karla Drenner (whom became the first openly gay or lesbian legislator in the deep south as a result of the 2000 election) get reelected without opposition. Gay Republican David Cataniawas was reelected to a City Council seat in the District of Columbia. Jim Roth became the first openly gay man to win election in Oklahoma City when he defeated an anti-gay incumbent for a seat on the Oklahoma County Commission.
While the legality of same-sex marriage remains in question for many, the broad-brush accusation that somehow gay's loss on election day is far too impractical given the larger picture. Positive results like this should encourage those that while same-sex marriage is not a thing of today, it can certainly a possiblity for tomorrow.
Wednesday, November 10, 2004
Another look at America
Keeping with the theme of maps and being able to show people exactly what you want. I found this Cartogram map courtesy of the University of Michigan.
When states are redrawn with their size proportional to the number of teir inhabitants, rather than to their sheer topographic acreage , the state of rhode Island, with its 1.1 million inhabitants, would appear about twice the size of Wyoming, which has half the population even though Wyoming has 60 times teh acreage of Rhode Island.
This map reveals what we already know: that the country was actually very evenly divided by the vote, rather than being dominated by one side or the other.
Saturday, November 06, 2004
America in Red and Blue
Red = counties who voted for Presdient Bush, Blue = counties that voted for John Kerry.
It is frequently said that statistics can be developed to demonstrate anything you want to...and I generally agree.
I am not a political blogger, though I certainly have political interest and opinions. I wanted to share this with some of my international friends though.
The map above shows how the election results broke down county by county in the U.S.
It must be noted that the most densely populated counties tended to vote for Kerry, conversely some of the most sparcely populated counties voted for Bush (though my own county would be an exception to both).
Looks like material for a blog at a later post regarding political trends by county for the past few decades. I would be interested in seeing what, if any fluctuations have taken place.
Wednesday, November 03, 2004
More prescious than life itself...
Although I have only limited knowledge of who Theo van Gogh was as a person and I have never seen any of his work, his name has been part of the current political climate of Europe for the past few years mainly with regards to his controversial film made with Ayaan Hirsi Ali,a Somali refugee, depicting the violence committed against women in Islamic societies.
Mr. van Gogh repeatedly received death threats and was further discouraged from working on a new film about Pim Fortuyn, the populist anti-immigratin politician assassinated in 2002.
As with most individuals who champion free speech, Mr. Van Gogh was a controversial figure and had many critics. Dutch Muslims in particular were outraged over Van Gogh's work.
As many of you know (and are) I have a few good Dutch friends and associates. I wish the family of Mr. van Gogh peace and I ask each of my Dutch friends to keep track of such tragedies and make sure that this pattern of silencing free speech and supressing democratic freedoms ends. Is a more serious trend developing in Dutch society? If anything it should be acknowledged that Theo van Gogh regarded free speech as more prescious than life itself.
My heart goes out to you all.
Theo van Gogh - Rest in Peace