"I wish they would only take me as I am" - Vincent Van Gogh               "How Can I believe in God when just last week I got my tounge caught in the roller of an electric typewriter?" - Woody Allen              "Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake" - Henry David Thoreau              "I took a speed reading course and read 'War and Peace' in twenty minutes. It involves Russia" - Woody Allen            "When promulgating esoteric cogitations, eschew platitudinous ponderosities" - Mark Rowan, my father            "Up, sluggard, and waste not life, for in the grave there will be sleep enough" - Benjamin Franklin             "What really interests me is whether God had any choice in the creation of the world." - Albert Einstein            "Welfare's purpose should be to eliminate, as far as possible, the need for its own existence" - Ronald Reagan            "It's odd that you can get so anesthetized by your own pain or your own problem that you don't quite fully share the hell of someone close to you." - Lady Bird Johnson              "I still want to be the candidate for guys with confederate flags in their pickup truck" - Howard Dean

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

McCain, SF Chronicle Invite Obama

The Editorial board of the San Francisco Chronicle gives kudos to Senator McCain for suggesting that Sen. Obama join them in a meeting for their endorsement process.
Sen. John McCain came up with a terrific idea Monday when he was handed an invitation to meet with our editorial board as part of our endorsement process.
"Why don't you invite Senator (Barack) Obama to join me?" McCain suggested.
...
Senator McCain gets extra points for proposing a unglossed, unscripted, groundbreaking version of the presidential debate in the bluest of states and at a newspaper that last endorsed a Republican for president in 1992.
Despite reservations about many of his policies, this upfront, open aura of Sen. McCain should be a breath of fresh air to everyone. When was the last time we saw a politician who was so willing to answer questions posed by those who, by most measures, aren't likely to vote for him? Compare this to Sen. Obama refusing to attend a FOX News Debate. Whether you're a Republican, Democrat, or Independent, I hope everyone can appreciate Sen. McCain's pursuit to have open dialogue.

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Friday, July 25, 2008

Media Bias from around the Web

Theres a lot floating around the web today concerning the media love affair with Sen. Barack Obama. While some think its a myth (e.g. the progressive site Think Progres). Well, Investors Business Daily took a look at the numbers, specifically donations to candidates by members of the media.
An analysis of federal records shows that the amount of money journalists contributed so far this election cycle favors Democrats by a 15:1 ratio over Republicans, with $225,563 going to Democrats, only $16,298 to Republicans .

Two-hundred thirty-five journalists donated to Democrats, just 20 gave to Republicans — a margin greater than 10-to-1. An even greater disparity, 20-to-1, exists between the number of journalists who donated to Barack Obama and John McCain.

Searches for other newsroom categories (reporters, correspondents, news editors, anchors, newspaper editors and publishers) produces 311 donors to Democrats to 30 donors to Republicans, a ratio of just over 10-to-1. In terms of money, $279,266 went to Dems, $20,709 to Republicans, a 14-to-1 ratio.
...
What is truly remarkable about the list is that, discounting contributions to Paul and Rudy Giuliani, who was a favorite son for many folks in the media, the totals look like this: $315,533 to Democrats, $3,150 to Republicans (four individuals who donated to McCain).

Let me repeat: $315,533 to Democrats, $3,150 to Republicans — a ratio of 100-to-1. No bias there.
This should refute the "well, Obama's just more newsworthy" line that many espouse to refute alleged bias.

Rasmussen polling shows that more people are beginning to recognize this bias. According to their polling, 49% of people believe the media is trying to help Senator Obama (up 5 points from last month), with 14% saying that the media will try to help Senator McCain (note that this polling occurred before the New York Times refused to print McCain's op-ed). I'm not sure that these polling numbers reflect the 100:1 spending ration observed, but they do represent that the public is partially aware of the biased coverage.

Lastly, to highlight the disparity in media coverage, consider the following from the Wall Street Journal:
CNN interrupts a discussion of whether the media are in the tank for Obama for a news bulletin that Obama's plane has landed safely--a dog-bites-man story if ever there was one.
You've got to be kidding me. This is over the top, and I hope Wolf Blitzer recognizes the irony here. During a discussion on the situation room about whether the media is biased towards Sen. Obama, they interrupted the story to provide coverage of "O Force One" landing. Blitzer followed the interruption with:
All right, Sen. Obama has just arrived at Ben Gurion Airport in Israel. And upon his arrival from Amman, Jordan, he made a brief statement, reaffirming his strong support for Israel.


Cross posted at

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

We Are the World vs. We Are the Change

From my favorite blog, The Campaign Spot, comes this challenge: Try to figure out if the following statements come from the song "We are the world" or Sen. Obama's Campaign rally completely not-campaign related speech in Berlin:
UPDATE: Pop quiz, hot shot. Pick out the "We Are The World" lyrics vs. Obama speech lines.

A: "We can't go on pretending day by day that someone, somewhere will soon make a change."

B: "This is the moment we must help answer the call."

C: "But if you just believe there's no way we can fall."

D. "The world will watch and remember what we do."

E. "Let us realize that a change can only come when we stand together as one."

F. "We cannot afford to be divided."

G. "These now are the walls we must tear down."

H. "This is the moment when we must come together."

I. "They'll know that someone cares, and their lives will be stronger and free."
You'll have to go HERE to see the answers. I only got 3 of 9 correct!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Benefits of Ethnic Cleansing

Note the following exchange that occurred when ABC's Terry Moran interviewed Sen. Obama :
Moran asked what Iraq would look like now if Obama's policy of withdrawing in the face of the violence had been implemented.

"That is a hard thing to speculate," Obama said, "The Sunnis might have made the same decisions at that time. The Shii’as might have made some similar decisions based on political calculation. There was ethnic cleansing in Baghdad that actually took the violence level down. And so, as I said before. Nobody has a crystal ball. If we did you just hire the guy with the crystal ball."
I haven't seen the original transcript, so this is coming via Jake Tapper of ABC blogs Political Punch.

Is the senator really going this far out of his way to avoid saying the surge was a success that he wants to credit ethnic cleansing for a 90% reduction in violence?

Cross posted at

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Well Then Who Are You Talking To?

In January of 2007, while still vying for the Democratic Nomination, Sen. Obama said
..we can send 15,000 more troops; 20,000 more troops; 30,000 more troops. Uh, I don't know any, uh, expert on the region or any military officer that I've spoken to, uh, privately that believes that that is gonna make a substantial difference on the situation on the groundemphasis mine.
This was just one of many similar statements. It's now pretty clear that the surge has led to a reduction in violence, as McCain had predicted. It's so clear, that the Obama campaign deleted the page on their website that called the surge a "problem" and stated that "the surge is not working," and so clear that Obama is now trying to pretend that he supported it all along.

However, as we continue to see Sen. Obama flip-flop"refine" his position on various issues, its not a surprise that he's now singing a different tune. Yet, what should be a bit of a surprise is that--if we take the Senator at his word--he didn't speak to a single "expert on the region or any military officer" that predicted the surge would work, then who has he chosen to advise him?

Presidents rely on their advisors to make informed, expert decisions. We've seen President Bush often make errors due to his advisors. If not one of the lot of Sen. Obama's military or middle-east advisors (note that this does not include Gen. Petraeus) thought the surge would help, shouldn't we be a little concerned with the Senator's judgement in selecting his advisors? Either he's chosen an incompetent group, or a group that chooses to tell him what he wants to hear.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Mandatory Volunteerism

Several months ago Michell Obama said "Barack will never allow you to go back to your lives as usual, uninvolved, uninformed," which many of the righty blogs spouted as an intent for a totalitarian sort of Obama Administration. Frankly, it seemed like they were making a mountain out of a mole-hill and I didn't put too much stake in it. However, only several days ago, the Senator himself said the following:
Just as we teach math and writing, arts and athletics, we need to teach young Americans to take citizenship seriously. Study after study shows that students who serve do better in school, are more likely to go to college, and more likely to maintain that service as adults. So when I'm President, I will set a goal for all American middle and high school students to perform 50 hours of service a year, and for all college students to perform 100 hours of service a year. This means that by the time you graduate college, you'll have done 17 weeks of service.

We'll reach this goal in several ways. At the middle and high school level, we'll make federal assistance conditional on school districts developing service programs, and give schools resources to offer new service opportunities. At the community level, we'll develop public-private partnerships so students can serve more outside the classroom.

For college students, I have proposed an annual American Opportunity Tax Credit of $4,000. To receive this credit, we'll require 100 hours of public service. You invest in America, and America invests in you - that's how we're going to make sure that college is affordable for every single American, while preparing our nation to compete in the 21st century.
I'll need to look at this piece by piece:
Just as we teach math and writing, arts and athletics, we need to teach young Americans to take citizenship seriously.
Agreed. Everyone should be proud to serve their country and community. However, I don't think that they should be required by the government to do so.
Study after study shows that students who serve do better in school, are more likely to go to college, and more likely to maintain that service as adults.
I don't doubt this for one second, yet this is only an association, and does not prove that volunteering causes college attendance. I would argue that the people who choose to volunteer are the people who are already highly likely to attend college, anyway (this is my anecdotal experience from High School, College, Medical School). Citing an association means nothing--the number of storks in the UK is decreasing, as is the birth rate...that doesn't mean that storks bring babies.
So when I'm President, I will set a goal for all American middle and high school students to perform 50 hours of service a year, and for all college students to perform 100 hours of service a year. This means that by the time you graduate college, you'll have done 17 weeks of service.
I volunteered extensively when I was in high school and into college. Often I gained a great deal of pride and honor in doing so. I'm curious if being forced to do so would have brought about the same encouraging attitude. In other words, would I have viewed it as a sacrifice to help others, or would I be bitter about it if it were compulsory?
We'll reach this goal in several ways. At the middle and high school level, we'll make federal assistance conditional on school districts developing service programs, and give schools resources to offer new service opportunities. At the community level, we'll develop public-private partnerships so students can serve more outside the classroom.
This is the most troubling proposal to me. While the quality of instruction in our schools is deteriorating, Senator Obama is proposing that we tie funding to school district volunteer programs? I imagine that the schools in the most serious trouble, where drop-out rates are above 50% and graduation rates below 10% will have the most trouble meeting these standards, and will thus be the ones who see a reduction in funding. Does the Senator really expect students in these situations to volunteer in their communities? If he really wants to be the candidate of change, lets see some real change...like a nationwide voucher program that could realize the same successes that DC has had.
For college students, I have proposed an annual American Opportunity Tax Credit of $4,000. To receive this credit, we'll require 100 hours of public service. You invest in America, and America invests in you - that's how we're going to make sure that college is affordable for every single American, while preparing our nation to compete in the 21st century.
Personally I don't have much issue with this part of the plan. However, I don't see this as really making college more affordable. If this program garnered a large enough pool of students, I imagine universities would just increase their tuition accordingly. In addition, I fundamentally don't agree with subsidizing college in this manner. If the money is to be spent in such a way (tied to community service), create a system of grants or scholarships instead of just one-size-fits-all giveaways. With a scholarship or grant, it would encourage students to volunteer in meaningful ways, rather than just whatever gets them their paycheck.

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Thursday, July 03, 2008

Singing a Different Tune

Personally, I don't believe that military service is a prerequisite for either public office or patriotism. In fact, I understand what Gen. Wesley Clark recently said, though I think the way he phrased it was a little offensive (see below). It seems as though some of Obamas supporters agree with me....though they didn't 4 years ago.

In 2004, Howard Dean said the following:
Who would you rather have in charge of the defense of the United States of America, a group of people who never served a day overseas in their life, or a guy who served his country honorably and has three Purple Hearts and a Silver Star on the battlefields of Vietnam?
FYI, for his service, Senator McCain earned a Silver Star, the Legion of Merit, two Bronze Star Medals, a Purple Heart and the Distinguished Flying Cross

In 2004, General Wesley Clark said

John Kerry’s combination of physical courage and moral values is my definition of what we need as Americans in our commander in chief. ...
John Kerry is a man who in time of war can lead us as a warrior, but in times of peace, he will heed the call of scripture to lead us in beating swords into plowshares.
John Kerry will lead America with strength and wisdom. He has the will to fight. He has the moral courage born in battle to pursue and secure a strong peace.

Replace 'Kerry' with 'McCain' and that statement makes more sense (considering McCain demonstrated more physical courage and moral values). Quite a difference now that he is saying that "riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president". Aside from a complete reversal of his earlier thoughts, this statement implies that Senator McCain was a doofus (note: "riding" is much different than "flying" a fighter plane), and makes no mention of the character that Senator McCain showed during those 5 years as a POW (google "Bud Day" for a partial account).

In 2004, former Senator Max Cleland of Georgia said "We need somebody who felt the sting of battle, not someone who didn't even complete his tour stateside in the Guard." Cleland is currently supporting Obama.

I disagreed with the Democrats in 2004. Military service should not be a prerequisite for holding public office. Yet, if they felt so strongly that it does, in 2004, why are they not supporting Senator John McCain?

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Hold On, Sit Down, and Shut Up MoveOn!

My weekly moveon.org e-mail newsletter asks me if I am ready for 4 more years of $4 gas, arguing that under a McCain presidency, policies would ensure that gas prices remain high (presuambly the way to lower prices is to tax those who produce it). Clearly this is debatable, as increasing supply (offshore drilling, which is favored by a fair majority of citizens), reducing ethanol requirements (which Republicans are currently attempting), and promoting alternatives (that McCain has called for) would all likely contribute to a reduction in gas prices. Reducing taxes on gasoline would immediately reduce costs, though the income would have to be made up elsewhere.

Yet, if MoveOn.org is really concerned with the high cost of Gas, they may want to direct their ire at Sen. Obama. While McCain has consistently noted the strain that high gas prices place on Americans, Obama recently said that he doesn't object to them...just wishes they had risen more gradually...and might actually be good!.