Wednesday, January 12, 2011


I had a different subject in mind for my next blog post/diary entry, and in fact I did not intend to comment on the shooting of Representative Giffords in Arizona this last Saturday at all. But while driving to school this morning I heard a debate between radio show host Thom Hartmann and a representative of

I absolutely must mention that I am, in fact, a gun owner. In fact, I own several. I have never pointed any of them at anyone, and hope that I never have to.

While listening to them, I felt they both basically missed the most important point: the NRA and both claim that people should be allowed to carry guns to protect themselves from bad people. Unfortunately for this argument, Arizona, where this tragic shooting took place, should have been the showplace for their argument. Arizona is one of three states that allow ordinary citizens to carry concealed guns without an additional background check beyond the FBI background check required to purchase the gun in the first place, or a permit from any local or state agency. Representative Giffords often carries a gun on her person (I do not know if she was carrying it when she was shot.) There was another person carrying a gun nearby, but he didn't get to the scene until the gunman had already been wrestled down by unarmed bystanders, and according to accounts, the gun-toting citizen almost shot the wrong person!

In short, having guns with extended magazines available to anyone did absolutely nothing whatsoever to make anyone at this event safer, and if that availability somehow didn't contribute to the tragedy, it easily could have.

So, the "Arizona Shooter" didn't just kill and wound all of those people, he also shot the NRA's argument full of holes.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Keith Olberman got it right

I don't get MSNBC on my satellite dish plan, but I really wish I did so I could watch Countdown. I found a link to the video I'm embedding below on an online comic I read daily, and I agree with the comic's author: This perfectly distills my thoughts on the "Ground Zero Mosque" into a roughly 10 minute monologue.

Here's the clip from Countdown. You need Flash to watch it.:

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Special thanks to Ryan Sohmer for linking to the video on his blog section of the comic Least I Could Do (Note: NSFW!)

-Ed Smallwood

Thursday, April 8, 2010

What’s Happening to the Republican Party?

I just went through the archives of my own political blog ( and discovered that one blog entry I have been meaning to write for about 18 months now has never been posted. I’m now seeing what I had intended to write may have entered its end game.

Here’s a summary of my idea: I have no idea why the Republican Party has not split into several smaller parties. It’s made up of several conservative elements that, at best, have little in common: 1. There are the Fiscal/Small-Government/Anti-Tax Conservatives, who worry about the size of the government and the way it spends money. 2. There are the Anti-Abortion/Christian-Right Conservatives who worry about the morals of the country. 3. And there are the Big Business Conservatives who worry about government regulation stopping Wall St. from gambling with your money. The interesting thing to me has been that these three groups do not really have overlapping interests, and when the Republicans get into power they tend to ignore the interests of the first two kinds of Conservatives completely, even though they may voice agreement with them strenuously during campaigns. In fact, often the interests of the third kind of conservative are at total cross-purposes of the first kind (think of how Fiscal Conservatives and Big Business Conservatives each see bailouts and you will know what I am talking about.) I’ve been wondering when the first two groups would realize that the Republicans really don’t care about them at all, and are in fact simply using their votes at the ballot box to push the interests of the third group.

Well, I may be rather late with that idea. From one piece of news I saw this week, and some political signs I spotted yesterday on my way to drop my kids off at my mother’s for a few days, it seems to me that the Republican Party may in fact be in the process of splitting up.

Here’s the main news item that made me start to wonder about this:

…In recent weeks, a number of party officials — including Karl Rove, the former adviser to former President George W. Bush, and Ed Gillespie, a former chairman of the party — have set up an independent committee to help Republican candidates this fall. Top Republicans said they have advised donors to send checks not to the Republican National Committee but to the committees financing Senate and House candidates.

-Adam Nagourney, “G.O.P. Squirms as Spotlight Focuses On Its Leader,” April 6th, 2010 The New York Times

When it becomes necessary for people to start donating to someone other than the leading committee of the party in order to get money to the candidates for political office representing that party, then you know there is trouble. And this article is dripping with it.

However, there were the political signs I saw on my way to my mom’s house yesterday that helped cement my feeling that the Republican Party is in its end-game before something big happens. I have to drive through part of the Central Valley of California to go from my Silicon Valley home up to my mom’s place up in the Sierra Mountain Range. I kept seeing these signs for former 11th District Representative Richard Pombo for Congress (19th District), and after I saw my second or third one I figured out why I kept looking at them. I expected them to say “Richard Pombo, Republican for Congress.” They didn’t. They state “Richard Pombo, Conservative for Congress.” (Emphasis added.) I decided to check his website today ( to see if maybe I got it wrong, but nope, there it is—Conservative for Congress. You can’t tell from his website, but as far as I can tell from the Wikipedia entry on him, it looks like he’s running for the Republican Primary, but he’s just too embarrassed to admit it.

So here’s how I see it: The Chairman of the RNC has been embarrassing the party pretty bad lately through his comments and actions (think “Bondage Club”), and pulling “The Race Card” whenever he gets called on it. The “Tea Partiers” and the “Birthers” are pulling the party in directions it doesn’t really want to go, namely into the Financial/Small-Government and Loopy-Racist directions instead of the comfortable and very well-financed Big Business zone. The big question now is if there is a Republican candidate that can ride in on a white horse and appear to be the binding force for the party, or whether it will simply continue to break up into its constituent parts.

And that’s a big “if” no matter how you look at it.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Explanation of my NYTimes Letter

Back in October I had a letter posted in the New York Times about a bunch of people in Los Angeles who were fired by a clothing company because they could not prove that they were here legally. My letter was in favor of the firings, which could probably lead to some confusion for people, since I seem unfailingly liberal, and it has been a stereotype that liberals love illegal aliens for some reason.

Here's the deal: I don't hate immigrants. I do very much differentiate between legal and illegal immigrants. My wife is from the Philippines, and came here legally. We were married in Manila almost 14 years ago. At least in part, due to the Republicans shutting down the government several times that year, it took 13 months to bring her here to this country. That was a royal pain, but it was done legally. We later were able to bring both my mother-in-law and sister-in-law here legally. The government's metering of immigrants helps to make sure that our job market is not oversaturated. Why would this be of any interest to me? Because when the job market is oversaturated, as it is now, salaries suffer and we see companies, like the one I work for, start pressuring managers into firing experienced employees in order to hire cheaper inexperienced ones (I'm not joking.) In short, allowing unfiltered and unmetered immigration into this country, even in good times, means a kind of constant recession for our labor force, and in a recession things become depressionlike.

By setting some kind of basic employer sanctions for hiring illegal immigrants we help our economy. Yes, I know that many conservatives will claim that by lowering payroll we improve the economy, but there is absolutely no truth to that myth. The economy of the United States is NOT a Capitalist economy, it is a Consumerist economy. Without consumers buying the items sold by corporations you cannot support those corporations. No amount of capital sunk into a corporation will save it if consumers can't or won't buy it's products. And employees are the consumers.

So, illegal immigrants are saturating the jobs market and depressing the average income in the country, which decreases buying power of the consumers and contributes to a depressed economy. Got it?

In addition, there's the safety issue. My family didn't put themselves or anyone else at risk when they came here, which can't be said of illegal immigrants crossing the Sonoran Desert, many of whom die each year out there. Why would someone risk their lives to come here? Is it the health care system? Are you kidding? How about the welfare? Not eligable. Could it be the income they can get here, even depressed as it is, is still better than what they could get at home? Bingo.

So, what is the best way to keep these people from risking death and depressing our economy? Employer sanctions are the key. If nobody will hire you once you've gotten here, why bother coming? Canada does it and has no serious illegal immigrant problem. Is it possible to emulate a system that works?

Maybe, if the firings in Los Angeles are any indication.

[12-16-2009] Paul Krugman has blogged about a proposed decrease in minimum wage and it's likely effects over at the New York Times. Very timely.
-Ed Smallwood

Sunday, October 4, 2009

My letter to the NYTimes got published!

For the last couple of years I've been reading the New York Times online, mostly because of economist Paul Krugman (I believe I've mentioned him a couple of times here.)

Today I finally bought a copy of the Sunday New York Times. That thing cost me almost $7 at my local grocery store!

The reason I bought it though, is because I've been writing letters to the editor for the last several months, and they finally published one of them today.

The letter was in response to an article about American Apparel being forced to fire 1,800 people who could not provide adequate documentation proving that they are eligible to work here.

I will go into my reasoning for my opinion soon, but I stand behind it.