Thursday, December 13, 2012

The News of the World

            The internet is almost without a doubt the single most important invention of the last thirty years.  People are interconnected to a degree scarcely imaginable a century ago, the time it takes to contact someone across an ocean is no longer than it takes to reach somebody down the street.  Additionally, news travels faster than ever before.  Where an individual in the 1940s had to rely on newsreels and newspaper stories for foreign news—typically weeks out of date by the time the average citizen could obtain the stories—one nowadays simply needs to type a few key words into any search engine and the news of the world is before them.  With such increased availability of news, one would imagine that Americans would be more informed as ever; regrettably, this is not the case.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Gun Control after a Tragedy

At this point, the sad story is known to just about everybody.  On December 1, Jovan Belcher, a linebacker for the Kansas City Chiefs, killed his girlfriend Kasandra Perkins, who was also the mother of his child, and drove to the Chiefs’ practice facility and killed himself.  The next day, at halftime of Sunday Night Football, sportscaster Bob Costas gave a two minute monologue expressing regret about the tragedy and stating his belief that if Belcher had not possessed a gun, he and his girlfriend would both be alive.  The reaction to this short and measured statement has been unfortunate.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Defeat in Victory for the Democratic Party

            Aside from the presidential election and the Puerto Rico statehood referendum which I have discussed in the past, another very important election was held in the state of Massachusetts last month.  The statewide senatorial election between incumbent Republican Scott Brown, who had won the seat in a special election after the passing of Ted Kennedy in 2010, and Democratic candidate Elizabeth Warren, a Harvard law professor and an architect of the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau.  When Warren defeated Brown rather convincingly, Democrats celebrated the reclamation of a seat which had long been held by their party.  The Democratic Party may come to regret their victory in this election, however.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Exaggeration of Presidential Constitutional Violations

Conservative commentators, such as Bill O’Reilly, Glenn Beck, and Sean Hannity, love to bemoan the assault President Obama is waging on the United States Constitution.  This belief, popular with fringe members of the Republican Party, has been given an image in paintings by Jon McNaughton, a Utah based artist.  One of his works, entitled “One Nation Under Socialism” depicts President Obama holding the Constitution as it is consumed by flames.  Another painting, entitled “The Forgotten Man” shows President Obama standing on the Constitution with President Madison, known as the “Father of the Constitution,” begging him to get off the document.  Additionally, a depressed man sits on a nearby bench being comforted by Republican and early presidents as Democratic presidents applaud our current president for trampling the Constitution.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Cents and Sensibility: The Elimination of the Penny and the Nickel

Those closest to me know that an issue which has always been one of my pet passions is that of penny and nickel elimination.  As such, it was with joy that I read reports this week that the Treasury Department will begin removing pennies and nickels from circulation starting in 2013.  This should be just the first step that the nation takes to modernize our currency system in order to save money.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Don’t Believe the Hype: The Future of Guantanamo Bay

                No nation is perfect.  Every country has either a checkered past, a disgraceful present, or an ugly underbelly, although most have some combination of the three.  The United States is no exception.  With slavery, the brutal treatment of Native Americans, and the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War Two in the past, contemporary America looks pretty good.  This is not to say that there are not problems which should leave a bad taste in the mouth of patriots; the denial of equal rights to homosexuals certainly illustrates that point.  One issue which hurts the United States in terms of international standing does not technically exist in legal terms.  This refers to, of course, Guantanamo Bay.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Fiscal Ditch and Republican Economic Brinksmanship

                Aside from the Benghazi incident and the scandal around former C.I.A. director David Petraeus, the most talked about political issue since the November 6th elections is the “fiscal cliff.”  This refers to the automatic spending cuts which will affect a substantial amount of the government and the automatic rise in tax rates across the board due to the expiration of the Bush-Obama tax cuts.  When looked at through a policy lens, one can see that “fiscal cliff” is a misnomer.  A more accurate term is “fiscal ditch,” a ditch which separates old policies from new.

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Federalist Farmer's Almanac

Good evening everybody, hope you all had a pleasant Thanksgiving.  I am pleased to announce that my blog will resume with shorter updates for the next few weeks while I work on a project entitled "The Federalist Farmer's Almanac" which will include some of my favorite entries thus far, some exclusive content from me along with writing from outside contributors.  The project is still in the preliminary stage as I continue to recruit writers.  If you are interested in submitting a piece contact me at  My first post back should be up later tonight or tomorrow morning.

Welcome back.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Important Programming Note

      As the temperatures drop and winter approaches, the Farmer is going into hibernation for a few weeks while I write a pivotal paper for one of my classes and work on a super-secret project, details of which will be given shortly.  

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Fallacies of an Ideological Victory Lap (or Tailspin)

           Now that the 2012 elections are in the books, President Barack Obama has earned another term in the White House with an impressive electoral victory of 332 electoral votes to former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney’s 206.  With President Obama’s victory, social media exploded with happiness amongst those who lean towards the Democratic Party while those who sympathize with the Republican Party reacted with bitterness and disappointment. 
            However, in the afterglow of the election, the expectations for the next four years baselessly swung to the extremes for both parties.  Democrats began praising America for accepting the equality of all people regardless of sexuality, the acknowledgement amongst Americans that the rich should pay more, and extolling the basic promotion of freedom.  Republicans once again retreated to their metaphorical bunkers – stockpiled with guns, ammunition, and canned goods – to shield themselves from the coming storm of socialism and demonization of those with wealth.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The State of Statehood

            On November 6th, while all eyes were fixed on Ohio and Florida, waiting to see who would win the presidential election, an often forgotten member of the United States was holding a monumental referendum.  Puerto Rico, an America territory since the end of the Spanish-American War in 1898, voted for the first time in its history to become a state.  This does not end the process, however, as the procedure to become a state does not often run smooth.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Death of Peacetime

           Much is made about how the United States has not fought a war since World War Two, labeling all the other conflicts “police actions” or a myriad of other excuses.  But the reality is that the United States in the past seven decades has been one of the most bellicose powers the world has ever seen.  In the second half of the twentieth century and the first decade of the twenty first, America has had thirteen presidents, and every single one of them have seen American troops on the ground in foreign nations.  The reason for this militaristic attitude is twofold:  first, because of America’s emergence as a superpower and two, because of the most astonishingly abrupt ideological shift in the history of American politics. 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Gun Control and the Supreme Court

If 1968 was the year of the assassination, with both Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. falling victim to deranged assailants, then 1981 was the year of the failed assassination.  In March of that year, newly elected President Ronald Reagan was shot by John Hinckley, Jr., but survived after he was quickly rushed to a hospital.  A mere six weeks later, Pope John Paul II was shot four times while in Vatican City by Mehmet Ali Ağca.  Pope John Paul, however, also managed to survive this attempt.  Despite the failure of these two assassinations, a wave of fear spread across the United States that gun violence would spill into the everyday lives of regular citizens.  Anti-gun sentiment reached a fever pitch, particularly in Chicago where the murder rate stood its highest point in years.  Mayor Jane Byrne proposed a ban on the possession of handguns, giving citizens who obtained a license before the ban grandfather-clause immunity.  The gun control law passed along with several similar laws across the nation.  It seemed as though the gun control question was settled until, in 2007, a lawsuit reached the Supreme Court and once more opened the Pandora’s box of gun control laws.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Socialism of the Wealthy

           In my experience, the most common barb levied at the Democratic Party’s desire to tax the income of the wealthiest two percent of Americans at a higher rate, as well as maintaining and increasing the capital gains and estate taxes is that such efforts are socialistic attempts to take hard-earned money from the successful to give to those who are lazy and unsuccessful.  While I believe that I thoroughly debunked the argument regarding higher income taxes, as well as the supposed laziness of the poor, I am focusing on the capital gains and estate taxes in this venture into the murky waters of economic theory.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Two Types of Vigilantism: Political Vigilantism

If you missed Part One, concerning criminal vigilantism, check the archive to the right, as well as the post immediately below this one.  Without further ado, I give you a discussion on political vigilantism.

The Two Types of Vigilantism: Criminal Vigilantism

            I believe that there is a streak in our society of slipping into delusions of potential grandeur wherein the common man becomes some sort of action hero.  This was seen in dazzling display after the Aurora theatre shootings where several commentators on the bastion of conservatism, Fox News, lamented the fact that nobody in the theatre was carrying a firearm of their own.  They believed that if somebody had a gun, they could have used it to protect themselves and the other innocents in the theatre by shooting and stopping James Holmes before he could kill and injure as many people as he did.  While in reality, the likely result of such a scenario would be more causalities, I have wondered what gives so many intelligent people such a faulty assumption prone to a sense of vigilantly idealization.  The answer, I believe, lies deep within our nation’s history and all the way back to a medieval folk tale of the nation from which we took our independence, England. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Israel and the International Community's Inability to End it's Exercitation of the Rights of Conquest

           With the supposed “death of war” which has accompanied the widespread rise of liberal democracies, as there is a general unwillingness of democracies to go to war, especially against other democracies, the concept of conquest has almost completely disappeared from international discourse.  In the age of kingdoms and empires, conquest was one of the most important goals of governments as can be seen by such conquering powers as the Macedonians, the Romans, and especially the Mongols.  While the issue has almost been rendered irrelevant since the end of World War Two, a lone nation still exercises the right of conquest over two territories with enormous geopolitical consequences to today’s world.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Maturation to Extremism

           One of the main dangers facing the international community in the modern age is the threat of Islamic extremism and the willingness of its believers to sacrifice their lives to strike at the “infidels” embodied by Western and secular societies.  Islamophobia has become more prevalent in the past decade, particularly in America due to the events on September 11, 2001.  This completely irrational has struck everywhere in American society, from the heights of government, where former Attorney General John Ashcroft stated that Islam is a religion in which “God requires you to send your son to die for him,” to the everyday people, as highlighted by a 2006 Gallup poll which found that 39% of Americans felt Muslims should be required by the government to carry special identification which marked them as Muslims.  If that does not sound familiar, I suggest you look up the early stages of the Holocaust.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Cycle of Social Issues

            Every topic discussed in election cycles can be broken down into one of three categories:  economic issues, foreign policy issues, or social issues.  While many of these will inevitably overlap, the fundamental “elements” are always present within political stories of any kind.  However, the three topics vary in intensity of emotions they elicit.  Economic issues, while arguably the most important of the elements, are abstract and complicated to a degree where most of the electorate, although they will have opinions, do not fully understand them.  For a clear illustration of this, view my previous post about national debt.   Foreign policy, especially in the age of American predominance on the international stage, also carries significant political weight; although this is tempered by a certain degree of unity within the American populace.  While differing ideologies certainly vary on priorities, there is a certain sense of unification “at the water’s edge.”  Social issues are a completely different story.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Capital Punishment's Detrimental Impact on American Foreign Policy

             In recent years the news, across the differing mediums of newspapers, magazines, television shows and websites, has been dominated by various issues such as the economy, our two undeclared wars, Arab uprisings, WikiLeaks, and the death penalty.  While it may not appear so at first, all of these news topics are connected by their impact on international relations.  The one which would most likely draw second glances from the above list is the death penalty, but it does indeed affect our dealings with other nations.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Globalization and National Economy

            Globalization as a process has occurred in waves throughout human society, beginning as far back as the “Out of Africa” migration many millennia ago.  While political and social integration on a national scale have occurred in varying intensities over human history, economic globalization has only recently begun to impact the world in a day to day manner.  While many social scientists, namely Jürgen Osterhammel and Niels Petersson, believe that the height of economic integration came in the period leading up to the first World War (1880-1910), I will focus on the current wave of economic globalization which came in the wake of the second World War. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Socialism or Patriotic Duty?

            While my goal at the Federalist Farmer is to be as unbiased and non-partisan as possible, there is a current debate milling around this election which I would like to briefly discuss.  A point that President Obama has brought in both debates, as well as at several speeches and rallies, is the tax rate on the wealthy two percent of Americans.  He, along with many other Democrats, believes that the “mega-rich” have a duty to pay more taxes to support their unfortunate countrymen.  Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, along with a large faction of the Republican party, believes that such a tax increase would punish success, reward laziness, and take a big step towards a socialist United States.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

National Debt and the Mythical Creditor Nation

            National debt is a staple of global society in the current age of economic and political interconnectivity.  The conventional wisdom holds that acquiring debt is fairly cheap, leading nations to essentially sell their debt to other nations.  Virtually every single nation on the planet has a national debt, whether it be America’s nearly twelve trillion dollars or Poland’s three hundred eighty billion dollar debt.  Even China, much maligned as it is today as “owning America’s future” has a large national debt, most of which in fact is owed to the United States, after the Chinese government defaulted on a loan provided them in 1990.  In this entry, I would like to argue that, theoretically, a nation would be much better off without debt.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Presidential Trifecta

            History can be made this election year, although the vast majority of voters will have no idea of this fact.  If Americans reelect Barack Obama as president in November, they will do something that has only been done one other time in American history:  elect three consecutive presidents to two terms.
            Currently, the only time that America has had three two-term presidents in a row was 1801 to 1825, when Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe served in the White House.  These three figures were all Founding Fathers and thus commanded an immense amount of respect from their countrymen.  Jefferson, of course, was well known as the author of the Declaration of Independence, as well as a vital figure in securing French aid during the Revolution.  Madison was the president of the Constitutional Convention and sheparded the newborn United States to existence.  Monroe was the least prominent of the three, but he served as a delegate to the Continental Congress during the 1780s, as well as carrying the distinction of being the only man to ever hold both the Secretary of State and Secretary of War cabinet positions at the same time, under President Madison.
            These were great men, men who had a substantial impact on the forward momentum of the United States, meaning none of them faced a tough reelection bid.  Jefferson, running for his second term in 1804 against Charles Pinckney won nearly 73% of the popular vote, one of the most lopsided campaigns in history.  James Madison’s reelection bid was closer, with Madison garnering only 50.4% of the popular vote, but 128 Electoral College votes to his competitor’s 89.  James Monroe, on the other hand, ran unopposed in his second election, gathering every Electoral College vote except for one, which was a purely symbolic gesture to ensure that nobody but George Washington was ever election unanimously.
            One key factor in the election wins of Jefferson, Madison and Monroe was the lack of any real competition.  In the early days of our republic, the two prominent political parties were the Democratic-Republicans and the Federalists.  After John Adams, the first and only Federalist president, lost his reelection campaign to Jefferson in 1800, the party began to disappear until it was all but wiped out when Alexander Hamilton, the de facto leader of the Federalists, was killed in a duel in 1804.  Without an organized party to combat the Democratic-Republicans for votes, they faced easy elections the likes of which we will likely never see again.
            Therefore, it is more peculiar that a streak once again emerges now, when the prominent political parties of today, the Democrats and the Republicans, are both strong.   
            President Clinton, a Democratic governor, won two presidental elections, 1992 and 1996, serving all eight years of his two terms, generally with a high approval rating (AR).  According to Gallup, the premier politicalapproval rating tracker, Clinton had an average AR of 55% over his two terms.  His AR in his first term, however, was slightly below that average at 50%, although it hovered around 55% in the weeks leading up to the election of 1996.  Clinton benefited from an economy boom thanks to new technologies, the rapid expansion of the internet as a source of commerce, and peace time spending, being the first president to benefit from the end of the Cold War. 
            President Bush’s numbers, however, read much differently.  His average AR was 49%, although his first term average was 62%.  One must take Bush’s AR numbers with a grain of salt, as they spiked to an unrealistic 90% AR in the weeks after 9/11, and gradually declined throughout the rest of his two terms, with only fleeting spikes.  In the weeks leading up to his reelection bid, his AR was roughly 50%.  Bush’s second term AR was a dismal 37% as Hurricane Katrina, war fatigue, a weakening economy and a variety of political gaffes took their toll.
            While all the data is not in for President Obama yet, his average year-to-date AR is 49%, similar to Bush’s overall.  However, as mentioned above, Bush’s first term AR was drastically higher than Obama’s.  In fact, on a week to week basis, Obama’s AR has been higher than Bush’s for only one week since July 20th 2009.  That week, May 6th to 13th 2012 saw Obama at 47% while Bush, in his corresponding week, was at 46%.  Not exactly a ringing endorsement.
            Clinton has generally been seen as a good but not great president, usually ranking in the middle of the pack in surveys of historians.  While currently Bush falls into the lower fourth of presidents, I believe that over time history will view him slightly more favorably, although he will never catch up to his predecessor.  It is altogether too early to rank Obama anywhere, regardless of what Sean Hannity or Rachel Maddow would have you believe. Although the reason for the recent presidential incumbent success is not currently known to me, perhaps in a few years time it will become clearer.
            With Obama losing more and more electoral ground due to the still stagnant economy, and his challenger Mitt Romney losing more and more electoral ground due to Mitt Romney, it remains to be seen if the second presidential trifecta will be completed.  But even if it is, it will pale in comparison to its transcendent forerunner.  

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Death of American Compromise

            With an election looming and key budgetary votes on the horizon, the left and the right are dug deeply in their respective trenches and the middle of the aisle may as well be the no man’s land of Verdun.  Liberals and conservatives refuse to cooperate on any meaningful resolution to the crisis facing the United States, but this inter-philosophy deadlock has not always been the case in American history.
            Legislative compromise is woven deep in the fabric of American government, with the earliest seeds planted long before our current constitution was ratified in 1787.  Often mistaken in the history of the American War for Independence, not all colonies were aggravated by the crown equally.  The northern states, New England in particular, sounded the drums for independence much louder than the southern states, namely the Carolinas and Georgia.  This geographic divide was one of the many reasons why the Continental Congress named George Washington as the supreme commander of the American military.  As a Virginian, he was easier to swallow for Southerners who felt that the war was purely in New England’s interest. 
            The cornerstone of American politics, the Constitution, is rich with compromises, made to ensure the unity and longevity of the new American republic.  One can scarcely read a sentence of the document without coming across a compromise within its text.  The most influential, as its name suggests, is the “Great Compromise” between the large states, such as New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania, and the small states, namely Rhode Island, Delaware and Connecticut.  The compromise created the current bicameral system, in which a House of Representatives is based on the population of each state while a Senate has equal representation for all states.
            The drafters of the Constitution were even able to negotiate an agreement on one of the most dangerous topics in the early days of the nation:  slavery.  While often considered a pock-mark on the Constitution, the Three-Fifths Compromise shows just how dedicated all parties were to the country.  Northern and Southern delegates were able to come to an agreement on a topic as contentious as slavery in order to preserve the nation. 
            A handful of other compromises would later be made about slavery, each more impressive than the last.  Henry Clay, a Representative and Senator from Kentucky, was the primary architect of these deals, earning him nickname “The Great Pacificator” for his ability to cool tempers and negotiate compromises.  Clay, however, would likely fume at the inability for Republicans and Democrats to reach agreements on any meaningful issue in today’s world.
            The ability to reach agreement across ideological differences is a vital aspect of governance in the post-monarchy world.  When the decisions rest in more than one figure, as it most obviously does in a democracy, there will always be disagreement.   The government must be flexible with the ability to quickly react to problems that threaten the security of the nation.  However, as the past four years have demonstrated, liberals and conservatives have failed to reach common ground. 
They ignore the rich American history of compromise at their own risk, for every week that passes without progress towards a solution the ground they stand on gets smaller and smaller, and politicians may not like where they end up.