The Incredible Power of the Roman Catholic Church

A little more than two weeks before a U.S. Presidential election. The two candidates have just finished their series of televized debates. Nasty words are flying around. Some important States are definitely too close to call.

And yet: who could manage to get McCain and Obama and their undivided attention for several hours, together at the same charity/society event, forcing them to make fun if not fools of themselves?

Why, RC Cardinal Edward Egan, of course!

“Intellectual” Liberal Americans: Insane, or Just Morons?

Continuing my earlier blog on the biggest issue facing Democrats in the USA: their gigantic superiority complex.

There is a scene in Alan Sandler’s “Mr. Deeds” when three high-society New York types (Kurt the Opera singer, William, and George the New Yorker writer) are shown as bordering on the inhuman, as too full of themselves.

That’s what these words by Expat Yank reminded me of:

Unless they go through “rehab,” as yours truly did — meaning, in short, until they grasp the realization that to be a “non-international” American who attends church regularly does not automatically mark one out as a bigoted nitwit — liberals cannot help themselves. Upon what they believe to be the high-horse is where they are most comfortable. They simply cannot imagine that they are NOT absolutely more sharp-minded and heavyweight than their opponents.

The major reason for that self-delusion? Since the mid-1960s, Democrats have actually come to believe — honestly — their own puffed up view of themselves as the default party of “great thoughts“ [...]

the Democratic party has changed: it is no longer the party of FDR and Truman. For the last 45 years it has become instead the party of JFK idolatry and imagined “Camelot.” Reared on an endless diet of “Jack and Jackie in Paris” [...] and so much more, many to most Democrats sincerely now appear to believe that to be a Republican is . . . to be a moron. [...]

when dealing with what might be considered opposing conservative opinions, liberals are often quick to lose perspective, react emotionally and all too often embrace outright intellectual snobbery.

And as to that latter mostly with so little justification, since few Democrats are themselves actually anywhere approaching nearly as smart as they perceive themselves to be [...] a liberal (meaning a Democrat), when confronted with your opposition, might try that for a moment, but if you hold your ground and respond in kind he will tend far too often to descend to the famous argument-tipping “huff,” roll up his eyes and proclaim you obviously just another unworldly simpleton who needs to retake 1st Grade.

Expat Yank is a “disgruntled Democrat turned Republican“. I have a feeling, he knows what he’s talking about.

Trouble is, I do not see Kurt, William and George understanding a single word of the above.

When will all this insanity end?

Debunking Sarah Palin’s “Device in the Right Ear” Claim

There’s quite a few websites claiming people have spotted some kind of device in Sarah Palin’s right ear, during the VP debate on Thursday night. A “willyloman” post “What Does Gov. Palin Have in Her Right Ear?” signed “Scott Creighton” seems to be among the most popular ones.

You can also check out the “Palin Appears To Be Wearing an Earpiece During The Debate” thread in the Abovetopsecret forum.

Myself, I cannot see evidence of anything in Palin’s right ear, during the debate.

But that is not as important as the answer to the following question: what evidence would I need to change my opinion? Well, I would need to spot that device clearly in at least one picture. So far, all I have been able to see is perfectly explainable with Palin’s hair, glasses and shape of the ear.

And so my question to Creighton and all the others is: what evidence would you need, to change your opinion?

==============

Creighton writes:

What was that running down into Sarah Palin’s right ear during the debate? [...] This photo was never intended to stand alone as evidence, that is why I include the link to the CNN video itself… That is still below. From that video, and many others now, you can see something that looks like it is attached to the arm of her glasses on the right side. You can see it move with her head, and her glasses throughout the video. I have taken another shot of the straight on view of this object, but please, look at the photos, then watch the CNN video so you can see it isn’t just some fluke; it stays there and is attached to her glasses. [...]

Even without zooming, you can clearly see something attached to her glasses and running into her right ear. At first I thought this might be a hearing aid of some sort, so I looked up other pictures of her to see if I could find one of her wearing a hearing aid. I couldn’t. [...]

Let’s start with the consideration that the “hearing aid” claim sounds very disingenuous. If Palin really had been hard of hearing, we would have known that weeks ago for sure. Mr Creighton should have definitely tried to look more sincere, if only to help support his case for a “device in the right ear”.

Anyway…the only way to be sure is to check if the “device” can be seen in any picture.

Now, a paranoid mind will find lots of food for their thoughts, as there really aren’t too many photos of Sarah Palin clearly showing her right ear during the debate itself (there is the one with her youngest son, but it was taken after the end of the debate and the aforementioned paranoid mind will surely claim Palin’s removed the “device” just in time). Also, I am not going to argue with anybody believing that the “device” was invisible or very well hidden: that’s akin to claiming a giant white, invisible rabbit was jumping up and down in front of the camera for the whole debate (iow: it cannot be taken seriously).

In any case, the onus is on those claiming the “device” existed at all. So I have scoured around on YouTube, the Getty Images website and the web looking for any “right ear” shot. Results below.

Palin 01

Palin 01

Palin 02

Palin 02

Palin 03

Palin 03

Palin 04

Palin 04

Palin 05

Palin 05

Palin 06

Palin 06

Palin 07

Palin 07

Palin 08

Palin 08

Palin 09

Palin 09

Palin 10

Palin 10

Images are enlarged areas from sources described in each picture. Copyrights remain with the authors of course.

First of all, look at “Palin 05″: that one has been taken at the end of the debate, when Palin was holding her baby son, if I am not mistaken. I included it because it reveals Palin’s ear details in full, with all the “ridges” and “valleys”. Note in particular the rather peculiar “ridge” right underneath the “temple” (“sidepiece”) of her glasses.

Peculiarity in this case is not important. Every one of us has a “special” shape of the ear and I understand it’s the one thing people really have trouble with when disguising.

I believe that “ridge” is what people like Creighton are misinterpreting as a “device”.

UPDATE: a similar conclusion has been reported by “SkepticOverlord” in the Abovetopsecret forum.

UPDATE: an “enhanced image” showing no device can be seen at Plaidlemur. Just to avoid the usual conspiratorial comments, I actually chose not to enhance the pictures posted above.

In fact, I wonder if anybody could please tell me where in every other picture posted above, there is a “device” that is on top, or separate, or in any case definitely not the “ridge” mentioned above.

You may also want to note how in images Palin 08, 09 and 10, taken directly from the live TV pictures, Sarah Palin is showing her right ear to the cameras in ways that would be extremely dangerous were she wearing a “device” of any sort in her right ear.

==============

The above is more than enough to convince myself there was nothing at all in Palin’s right ear, during the debate. At this stage, the discussion can move forward only in two circumstances: either somebody comes out with a very clear picture of the “device”, or believers tell me what more evidence they need, to change their opinion.

UPDATE: blogger Ginandtacos reasons it would have been almost impossible for Palin to be able to talk the way she did, without breaking in apparently incoherent ways.

UPDATE: the claim appears to have moved to “Palin was reading her notes“. I don’t think that deserves any further analysis.

In VP Debate, It’s Biden The One Risking The Most

Is there any hope that one day the “liberal” American “people of culture” will wake up and realize that they live… in America?

How can it be that a long list of very fine intellectuals collectively and invariably fail to understand a simple fact: that it is precisely what they despise in Sarah Palin, that makes her popular among many of their fellow citizens.

Take for example the “news” that the Governor of Alaska has spent more nights at home than in the Palace in Juneau, after having been elected. Those who “leaked” this important (or not) piece of information may have tried to demonstrate that Palin cannot be a good VicePresident, since she does not accept the full responsibilities of public office.

But I am sure that many non-liberal Americans (and not only they) have interpreted the same “news” as evidence that the Palin is a “normal person” for whom family takes precedence, above everything else: and that’s what anybody would do, apart from those driven by mission or inordinate ambition.

It does not matter if Sarah Palin performs poorly once, or a hundred thousand times, in interviews that, incredibly, appear too convoluted in her presence. What non-liberals are going to convince themselves of, is that the Press, Academia, and Great Journalism are made up of Republican-hating strange people called “liberals”: whilst Palin is simply an “average person”, perfectly able to lose words and trains of thought in front of aggressive, controversy-seeking interviewers.

Has Palin got the characteristics that would make her a good Vice President and perhaps even a good President? Who knows?. The great satirical strip Doonesbury recently had an episode around the fact that every American is told that he or she may become President, one day. So what’s so strange if “Sarah Palin, average American” becomes Vice President?

And lest we forget: after four years of Dan “Potatoe” Quayle as VP for Bush father, I do not know who could perform worse. And Bush father did win the 1988 elections with Quayle in tow,

It is therefore absolutely foolish to go on with the mantra that Palin is “a bit slow, a bit ignorant, a bit young”: the more the Media will talk of that, the more votes she’s ensured to get.
Is that too hard a concept for contemporary liberal America? When will a leading “liberal mind” begin to think that if someone will vote for Sarah Palin, there may be good reasons for that, well beyond the usual “it’s the idiots that do it”?

——–
Spare a prayer for John Biden then. He’s the one going into Thursday’s VP debate in the worst conditions.
Since everybody expects him to win big time, all Biden may be able to do is meet expectations. That will hardly look impressive: whilst every point conceded to Palin will be seen as a disaster (and a defeat).

From Sarah Palin, on the other hand, nobody expects anything. She can declare herself the winner even if the only thing she manages to state correctly is the time of the day.
If Palin will be able to hold her own against Biden for most of the debate, it will be for her a triumph beyond all hope. That’s after all the same tactics, of appearing “slow witted”, successfully employed by George W Bush to become Governor of Texas, and the President of the United States, persuading opponents to feel infinitely superior to him.

The Democratic VP candidate has everything to lose, at Washington University in St. Louis on Thursday. The Republican VP candidate, she has everything to gain: another gift, perhaps, by the Great “liberal” Minds that I do not think understand their country at all.

Is it a coincidence that in the last 100 years, in the White House there have been 10 Republicans and only 7 Democrats? And during the last forty years, 5 Republicans and only 2 Democrats?

(more on the idiocies of “liberal” America at Mr Cheeseburger 9000′s blog)

On Abortion, A Perfectly Reasonable Christian Stance

Personally I find the following statements bordering on the obvious. For some reason, many people think otherwise, in one sense or another…and unbelievably, abortion is still somehow an issue in US politics.

From the Methodist Church’s “Abortion and Contraception” web page:

  • abortion is always an evil
  • there will be circumstances where the termination of pregnancy may be the lesser of evils

And in particular:

  • the mother should be told clearly of the alternatives to termination
  • abortion should be avoided if at all possible by offering care to single mothers during pregnancy, and the adoption of their children if, at full term, the mother cannot offer a home
  • the result of the coming together of human sperm and ovum is obviously human
  • the right of the embryo to full respect [...] increases throughout a pregnancy
  • it would be strongly preferable that, through advances in medical science and social welfare, all abortions should become unnecessary
  • late abortions should be very rare exceptions
  • if abortion were made a criminal offence again, there would be increased risks of ill-health and death as a result of botched ‘back-street’ abortions
  • to refuse to countenance abortion in any circumstances is to condemn some women and their babies to gross suffering and a cruel death in the name of an absolutism which nature itself does not observe

With Columnists Like These, Palin’s Campaign’s Bound To Be A Winner

Letter to the International Herald Tribune:

Dear Editors

Are you planning to keep subjecting your readers to substantial daily doses of Democratic anti-Palin smugness until the Presidential Elections on Nov 4? One wonders.
 
Just a few examples. Your celebrity columnist Maureen Dowd has dedicated her last six contributions to one and only one topic (Sarah Palin of course). Garrison Keillor of Prairie Home Companion fame has joined in by pretending to be a liberal roaming around Alaska (“Moose on the loose in Palin Country“, IHT, Sep 18).
 
Even anti-Obamite David Brooks has opined at length about the Governor of Alaska’s preparedness for High Office (“Experience Matters“, IHT, Sep 16).
 
Apparently, the situation for Gov. Palin does not look pretty. Your columnists have described her as a female version of George W Bush for her “inexperience”, “brashness” and “excessive decisiveness”; as a populist, gun-crazied shooter potentially even of a mother and baby moose; as the gay-hating infantile, seductive former mayor of a town smaller than the local Wal-Mart, with intimidation as her preferred political tool; as an anti-intellectual contemporary “My Fair Lady” character hell-bent on getting rid of her enemies.
 
The list could continue for a long long time.
 
Now, am I the only one to think that all the above amounts to (a) free publicity for Palin; and (b) a very good platform to convince “Middle America” to vote for Palin, if only because she’s obviously such a hate figure in the Establishment?
 
In 2008 there are many things pointing towards a success for Barack Obama. However, the Democrats may still lose the Presidential election, for the trivial reason that one will find it very hard to get votes from people one so obviously disdains and look upon condescendingly.
regards
maurizio morabito

McCain’s Strategist Agrees With Putin

Political statements do sound truer if they come identical from actual or potential enemies. Is there therefore a high chance that Georgia’s invasion of South Ossetia a month ago, has been “encouraged” by people trying to support McCain, as Russia’s strongman Vladimir Putin has recently suggested to CNN (Aug 28)?

In an interview in the Black Sea city of Sochi on Thursday, Putin said the U.S. had encouraged Georgia to attack the autonomous region of South Ossetia.

Putin said his defense officials had told him it was done to benefit a presidential candidate — Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama are competing to succeed George W. Bush — although he presented no evidence to back it up.

“U.S. citizens were indeed in the area in conflict,” Putin said. “They were acting in implementing those orders doing as they were ordered, and the only one who can give such orders is their leader.”

Just listen now to Thomas Rath, “leading Republican strategist in the swing state of New Hampshire” according to Bloomberg news and the IHT (Sep 7):

“If in October we’re talking about Russia and national defense and who can manage America in a difficult world, John McCain will be president,” predicts Thomas Rath, the leading Republican strategist in the swing state of New Hampshire. “If we’re talking largely about domestic issues and health care, Barack Obama probably will be president.”

In other words, as explained by article’s author Albert R Hunt:

If Russia invades another country on Oct. 20 or Iran detonates a nuclear weapon, advantage McCain; if there’s another Bear Stearns meltdown, or a stock market crash, put a few points on the Obama side.

A similar point is made rather more forcefully by leftist Tony Wood in the pages of the London Review of Book (Sep 11):

So why would the US approve a military adventure it had no intention of materially supporting? Not every development is part of an infernal neocon conspiracy, but it is nonetheless clear that the White House would make palpable gains from the Georgian crisis, whatever the outcome. If Saakashvili succeeded in retaking South Ossetia, he would have faced down Russia and demonstrated Georgia’s increasing readiness for Nato membership. If, on the other hand, Russia defeated Georgia, it would re-emphasise to Eastern Europe the need for US security guarantees. Sure enough, within two days of the start of fighting in Tskhinvali, Poland and the US finally reached agreement on the missile shield. Georgia itself appears all the more in need of US backing, and several politicians and commentators have suggested that the crisis is grounds for the country’s immediate admission to Nato. It could also justify the US increasing its military presence in Georgia, from a mere 100 Special Forces troops to, say, a long-term base. Moreover, the war has created ample opportunity for ramping up the discourse of a New Cold War – considerably improving the electoral prospects of John McCain, whose foreign policy adviser Randy Scheunemann worked for Saakashvili until May this year. All this, in exchange for a short war the US didn’t have to fight.

“All this, in exchange for a short war the US didn’t have to fight”.

Will Grandma Sarah Palin Change Some American Conservatism?

Palin’s status as upcoming grandmother is definitely her business but…is it too much to hope the “experience” will make mainstream American Conservatism less fixated on reproductive matters?

Does the world really need to think and think again about abortion and gay rights?

ps Palin’s decision to keep her baby after learning of his Down syndrome is commendable. All more so because it was her decision. How different it would have all been, had there been no choice

Obama’s Swift Riposte to McCain’s Challenge

NOTE ADDED SEP 8: Gov. Palin’s Vogue cover below is a fake

Denver, Aug 31 (MNN) – Sen. Barack Obama, Democratic Nominee for the 2008 US Presidential Election, has recruited today two well-known characters to fight back the unexpected challenge from the youth/women side by Sen. John McCain and his VP choice, Gov. Sarah Palin.

Sen. Obama said he was very glad to introduce, in the newly-created positions of Vice-Vice-Presidents, Betty Boop and Swee’Pea.

Sarah Palin Betty Boop

His remarks may cause controversy though (“Betty would look better on Vogue!” and “Swee’Pea’s got much less experience in foreign or any other matters“) .

According to uninformed sources, Sen. McCain is planning to up the ante by revealing that he himself years ago was in a Hollywood blockbuster (the second episode of Jurassic Park), playing a character named “Kelly Curtis Malcolm” …

Is Obama Too Big for the Presidency?

The constant danger with Barack Obama’s campaign lies in the struggle between the danger of overextending Obama and his image, and the need to overextend Obama and his image. In order to “demonstrate” he’s up for it, expectations have been put up and up to pretty much impossible heights.

Nowadays, an Obama speech is nothing if it doesn’t involve a revolution in contemporary Western philosophy. Attendance is poor if an 80,000-seat stadium is not filled to capacity. A lead in the polls is zero if it’s less than double-digit.

The trouble is, today’s big achievement is tomorrow’s normalcy. That is, if you’re at the top the only way is down (or nowhere).

Unless, of course, Obama plans for a second career as an actor, a rockstar…or as the Pope!

Obama: Bigger Than The Beatles

The Democratic Presidential Candidate for the US Elections 2008 is much more than a Presidential Candidate. Obama is on his way to become a pop icon.

Actually, he’s there already.

Google search for “Obama”: 131,000,000 pages

Google search for “Beatles”: 52,500,000 pages

Poor John Lennon…how could he have imagined having the wrong target in mind?

ps btw: Google search for “Jesus”: 176,000,000 pages. Only 45 millions to go, for the junior Senator from Illinois

Obama Joke

Is Barack Obama “so polished, he doesn’t seem to have any flaws“, making it impossible to come up with a non-racist, non-religious joke about him?

Let’s hear it from the Saint the Untouchable the Anointed One, oh well, from Obama himself…

Barack Obama: It’s time to begin and to stop a troop pullout
By Barack Obama and Barack Obama

Monday, July 14, 2008
CHICAGO: The call by Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki for a timetable for the removal of American troops from Iraq presents an enormous opportunity. I am very disappointed by the call by Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki for a timetable for the removal of American troops from Iraq.

The United States should seize this moment to begin the phased redeployment of combat troops that I have long advocated, and that is needed for long-term success in Iraq and the security interests of the United States. The United States should not go down the path of beginning the phased redeployment of combat troops that I have long opposed, and that is not needed for long-term success in Iraq and the security interests of the United States.

The differences on Iraq in this campaign are deep. The differences on Iraq in this campaign are minimal. Unlike Senator John McCain, I opposed the war in Iraq before it began, and would end it as president. Like Senator John McCain, I supported the war in Iraq before it began, and would continue it as president.

(cont.)(end)

Jackson vs. Obama – a Complex Relationship

Some background details about Rev. Jesse Jackson’s “unkind remarks” about Barack Obama:

The relationship between Jesse Jackson and Barack Obama is multifaceted. For example there is Jesse Jackson, Jr., son of Jesse of course, Representative for the State of Illinois.

Obama is in the Senate in Washington representing exactly Illinois. Furthermore, Jesse Jr. is national co-chairman of the Obama electoral Campaign (as mentioned on International Herald Tribune/New York Times).

There is also Michelle Obama, Barack’s spouse and a long-time friend of one of Jesse’s daughters and once even babysitting at the Reverend’s home (it’s been recently talked about on The Economist).

One should also keep in mind that Jackson, recalcitrant but participant to Farrakhan’s Million Man March in 1995, didn’t have problems at the time in denouncing the large number of African-American absentee fathers, something Obama is currently talking about.

On the other hand isn’t Jesse Jackson an expert in the topic, having has an extramarital daughter himself in 2001?

Poor Reverend: second to Martin Luther King Jr and Malcolm X, and to Farrakhan, second to Mondale and even Dukakis, and now at risk of disappearing behind Obama and (shcok! horror!) Jesse Jr…

John “July 4th” McCain to the Rescue

Coincidences pile up in the extremely good news of the rescue in Colombia of Ingrid Betancourt and 14 other hostages: among them, the fact that US Presidential Candidate John McCain, outspent at home and behind in the polls, is visiting Colombia in the same period, just by pure chance of course.

McCain is so lucky he will be able to bring home three American hostages just in time for the 4th of July. Furthermore, it is now known that Colombian President Alvaro Uribe considers the US Senator trustworthy enough to reveal all details of an extremely risky rescue attempt, the night before.

The only thing missing is a picture of Obama with an “I love FARC” t-shirt and the White House will see another Republican President.

Obama’s True “Dream Ticket”

How can Barack Obama win back the core Hillary Clinton voters, namely hispanics, women and “white men without a college education”?

It’s easy, because the question contains its own answer: just select as candidate VP a hispanic woman able to elicit interest among white men of whatever schooling.

If Obama wants a “Dream Ticket”, his dilemma is therefore quite simple…

Salma Hayek, or Eva Longoria?

Getting Rid of Poison Billary

What is Barack Obama supposed to do now that there is little sign that Hillary Clinton will openly “concede” without being offered the Vice-Presidency, to the point of organizing “No-bama” chants at a very public appearance?

How can he get rid of the lady, and of her big-mouthed, inconvenient, gaffe-prone, press-hated, reputation-tearing, ladies’ favorite anger-bag of a husband?

For were Obama to accept Ms Rodham as his VP candidate, he would appear weak, unable to stand on his own, way too ready to compromise with somebody that after all he has been unable to shrug off. If instead, all the purring from the Clinton campaign about her readiness to have a shot as VP were ignored or rebuffed, then Obama would appear weak, cast adrift among college-educated Americans with not a single Latino or poor White in sight.

(Perhaps up to 27% of Democrats do not want to vote for Obama…isnt’ there a saying about the mother of the idiots being always pregnant?)

All this campaigning by Hillary and Bill Clinton has then turned the couple into a “poison pill”, the best thing that happened to McCain since Giuliani started excelling at foot-shooting practice. As things stand now, Hillary Clinton is indispensible, and the Democratic Party cannot go anywhere she doesn’t like it to go.

But in her latest moment of glory, there are also all the reasons to make her irrelevant.

===========

It is good practice in people management to identify the resources that one “cannot do without”…in order to get rid of them.

Anybody able to maneuver themselves into an “indispensable” position is in fact too loose a center of power, a practical nuisance for everybody around, a threat for the cohesion of the group and an inordinate risk were the person to move to a different job or disappear from view for any reason (eg due yet another sex scandal involving Mr C).

And one should not disregard the possibility of a leadership challenge at every single minute that passes

(I am sure Hillary Clinton is dreaming of the Party delegates begging her in Denver this coming August,to become the Presidential Candidate by acclamation. Can’t anybody find a picture of Obama with a prostitute, a lover, a wad of dirty cash, cocaine on his nose? Shaking hands with OJ Simpson? Praying at a mosque? Having dinner with Iran’s Ahmadinejad? Anything would do…)

That’s why if anybody is indispensable, they must be dispensed with asap, instead of letting things hang by a thread, with a possible major unmanageable crisis looming every day in an atmosphere of mutual distrust and weak leadership,

(How to get rid of somebody that one cannot ged rid of? By definition, it may look impossible. But that’s really never the case: US society would not collapse were Hillary Clinton to become a hermit tomorrow. If one is “indispensable”, dispensing of them will be painful, but a group exercise, that will inspire the best effort of the rest of the team)

===========

Obama can free himself from Billary by choosing one of three options: (a) going hard, immediately nominating somebody else as VP candidate; (b) going safe, doing nothing in the hope few will care about an also-ran with no hope to be anybody; (c) going soft, openly leaving all possibilities open, just in case, with no actual intention of choosing Hillary for the Vice-Presidency.

The choice is a matter of long-term political strategy. It can be argued that (a) is a sign of weakness, but the sooner the tooth is pulled out, the sooner the pain will go (and the more time there will be for campaigning against McCain). Option (b) needs plenty of nerve and plenty of friends in the media. Option (c) is an absolute gamble, and only the strongest and most determined candidate should think about it.

Options b and c assume that the Clintons will make a nuisance of themselves, with Bill growling too much, and Hillary squeaking too often, so that among the general nausea only their staunchest supporters will remain loyal. And so on and so forth.

(Personally I would choose option b but only after preparing a massive media campaign, in order to bury any Clinton news item by sheer force of numbers)

===========

Obviously, the above presumes Obama can show enough toughness (and callousness) so as to be his own antidote against Poison Billary. That’s something still open to question, a fact that in itself may be a symptom of the same inability to find that single final political punch that could have stopped all this Democrat squabbling long time ago.

Barack Obama can still choose Hillary Clinton as VP Candidate. But if that happens, nobody should kid themselves by talking of an “Obama Presidency”.

At the White House, the one with the trousers wouldn’t be the current junior Senator from Illinois.

Straw Men vs. Obama

(UPDATE: a shortened version of the text below has been published in the Letters section of the International Herald Tribune, May 25, 2008)

Truly there must be something powerful in Barack Obama’s message for the US Presidential Campaign of 2008, if critics are so busy setting up flawed arguments about his heritage, or foreign policy ideas.

First we had Luttwak’s improbable stint as a Shari’a scholar, somehow “demonstrating” that Obama’s Muslim father would be a liability… in the Muslim world. And now, how do N Thrall and J J Wilkins criticize Obama’s suggestion that, in foreign policy, talks are better than wars-by-proxy?

Why, they try to make a rather esoteric analogy with a Kennedy-Khrushchev summit of 47 years ago (“Kennedy talked, Khrushchev triumphed“, IHT, May 23).

Never mind that Obama has never suggested starting off by meeting face-to-face with the Presidents of Iran or Hamas, for example; that the world is vastly different from 1961′s; and that as anybody living in the real world knows very well already, the Administration of President George W Bush has engaged in talks with “America’s enemies” such as Lybia and North Korea.

And rightly so! Well, if Messrs Thrall and Wilkins are so convinced that the mere act of talking brings huge risks of being considered “too weak”, perhaps they should suggest closing off much of the State Department.

A flawed argument is also known as a “straw man”. Well, I for one think there have been enough of those scarecrows set up, especially against Obama. Please, can we have now some serious political discussion instead?

Republican Alert: Major Presidential Speeches Warning

The Economist quotes outgoing Republican congressman Tom Davis:

When Bush tries to articulate a vision, he will butcher the Gettysburg Address. Obama, he will make an A&P grocery list sing.

Obama has already managed to star in a “presidential speech” in Philadelphia, when challenged about race. The risk for McCain is to inspire more exceptional performances, eg about women (after attacks on Michelle Obama) and white working-class poverty (if remarks of Obama being too sophisticated for his own good keep coming).

Yet more signs that this is going to be a sedate campaign, with two candidates simply too nice to each other to inspire any enthusiasm…

Another Good Reason to Vote McCain

(read here for Four-to-One Reasons to Vote McCain)

Albert R Hunt correctly reminds his readers that “the Republican political establishment is looking to the devil to deliver them, the man many have depicted as the incarnation of evil: John McCain“. That makes the upcoming elections of relatively higher importance than usual, in the long run.

Were McCain to lose, in fact, the Nasty Faction of the US Republican Party will simply come back and drag (ruin) the GOP in several more years of rather outdated anti-liberal resentments.

If the senior Senator from Arizona succeeds instead, against incredibly powerful odds, then there could be some basis to get the whole American political system into the XXI century. Finally!

 

Luttwak Goes Ga-Ga on Obama

How else to interpret this rambling Op-Ed where renowned Edward N. Luttwak, “fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and author of Strategy: The Logic of War and Peace” transform himself into an improbable Shari’a expert, declaring Obama an “apostate”?

President Apostate? By EDWARD N. LUTTWAK – Published: May 12, 2008

I am perfectly sure that even in the darkest Afghanistan at the time of Mullah Omar, somebody’s religious choices in his 20′s, starting from an almost perfectly blank slate, would not have been considered evidence for “apostasy”.

Luttwak disingenuosly tries to justify his poor arguments with “all the well-meaning desires projected on Senator Obama, the hope that he would decisively improve relations with the world’s Muslims is the least realistic“. Methinks there is one way to improve relations with the world’s Muslims, and that is to have a President that is not called George W Bush.

Blissfully, the US Constitution will make that happen, on January 20, 2009.

252 days to go…

Time for Hillary Clinton To Let Go

Wouldn’t it be a great time for Hillary Clinton to halt her campaign to become Democrat candidate for the 2008 USA Presidential elections? While she’s still appearing to be “riding high” even if not high enough.

Also because, she’s kind of “officially lost”.

With the media machine moving onward and forward, in fact, it is possible to understand what exactly has happened in the Pennsylvania primaries:

Popular vote:
Clinton: 54.6%
Obama: 45.4%
Difference: 9.2%. Note that newspaper reported a 10% difference instead, by mishandling the decimal digits…

Estimated national delegates:
Clinton: 85
Obama: 73
% Difference: 7.6%

With Clinton desperate for a double-digit win, I do not see how these figures can be interpreted as anything else than an invitation for her to find something else to do with her life.

USA 2008: Four-to-One Reasons to Vote McCain

Four reasons to vote McCain on Nov 4, 2008

(1) Obama has said McCain is not as bad as George W Bush

(2) Hillary Clinton has said McCain is ready to be Commander-in-Chief

(3) Considerable numbers of Obama supporters say that will vote for McCain rather than for hated Hillary Clinton

(4) Considerable numbers of Hillary Clinton supporters say that will vote for McCain rather than for hated Obama

One reason not to vote McCain on Nov 4, 2008

(1) Considerable numbers of Republican supporters are as warm as liquid helium about “their” Candidate

At the rate things are going, a Gus Polinski Tribute Band will have to be recruited to provide some excitement on Election Day…

Feeling Just Fine About USA 2008

I am not that worried this year about the results of the Presidential elections in the USA.

If Hillary Clinton wins, we’ll get four years of Clintonism. Nothing to celebrate, but not that bad either.

If Barack Obama wins, we’ll get kick-started into the XXI century, with an experimentally fresh jump in the unknown (a bit like Reagan in 1981, and Clinton in 1993…).

If John McCain wins, there’ll be the steady hand of a maverick commanding the Superpower nation. Who knows, maybe like fellow ex-serviceman Eisenhower in the 1950′s, President McCain will be able to isolate the centers of power from the Military-Industrial Complex that has been pushing the USA towards an interminable series of wars and ingerences, for more than a generation.

Plenty to be optimistic about 2009 onwards then…

My personal preferences:

Obama-Clinton: Obama.
McCain-Clinton: McCain
McCain-Obama: I’d likely stay home as a sign of my approval, whatever the result.

Is There Any Point in Voting? Yes, There Is

Is there any point in bothering to vote? Tim Harford of the Financial Times says no.

And he is wrong.

As reported in the review of Harford’s book “The Undercover Economist” book on The New York Times:

There’s no point in voting at all, for that matter, as a purely logical act. So if you stayed home that day, relax. If you really want to make a difference, buy lottery tickets — your chances of hitting the jackpot are roughly equal to your chances of swinging an election — and devote your winnings to political lobbying.

And don’t bother to read up on the issues, either. “Because the chance of any individual’s vote making any difference to the result is tiny, the benefits of turning an uninformed vote into an informed vote are also tiny,” Mr. Harford writes. “Rationally speaking, why bother?

To know more about the wisdom behind those statements, visit Tim Harford’s own website, in particular “Your vote doesn’t count“, published on the 10th of November, 2007:

Notoriously, an individual’s vote makes no difference to anything. According to the British election watcher David Boothroyd, in 24 general elections since 1918, each spanning hundreds of parliamentary constituencies (most recently, 646), there has only ever been one valid election where your vote could have made a difference

I find such a reasoning rather underwhelming.

Elections are not made by individual voters, but by the behaviour of many individual voters: and that is what counts when thinking about “making a difference“.

======================

So on the subject of going to vote or not: imagine (a) the majority of people think the way you do.

If you decide (a.1) to vote then, you know the majority of people will think the same, and will go to vote. Under those circumstances, people that don’t vote are in the minority and it makes little sense to join them: voting is the logical choice.

If you decide (a.2) not to vote, you know the majority of people will not go to vote either. But that means the opinions of whoever goes to vote carry a larger weight than usual: voting is, once again, the logical choice.

Imagine now (b) the majority of people do not think the way you do. If you decide (b.1) to vote, you know the majority of people will not go to vote. All more the reason to go to the polls: voting is, for the third time, the logical choice.

Finally if you decide (b.2) not to vote, the majority of people will vote. Obviously, instead of getting stuck with the idle minority, it will make sense to join the majority: and so voting is… the logical choice.

Voting is always the logical choice: independently from the “difference” a single vote could or could not make.

======================

The above is freely inspired by Douglas Hofstadter’s “Metamagical Themas: Questing the Essence of Mind and Pattern“, a marvelous collection of Scientific American essays where the renowned author of “Goedel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid” investigates (in the last section “Sanity & Survival“) some non-immediately-obvious ways of solving cooperation dilemmas.

One only wishes Tim “Undercover Economist” Harford had read under the cover of Hofstadter’s book and expanded his own reasoning to include… reason,  instead of limiting himself, in true economic form, to the mere numbers of an election.

======================

There is one possibility left aside: so-called “voters’ strike”, where people decide to protest en masse hoping their absence will be noted. In this case, there are two potential outcomes: (c) few people participate and (d) many, many people refuse to vote.

Under (c) the strike is a failure, so voting make more sense. And under (d), since very few people vote, it’s definitely time to do it (as in a.2 and b.1 above).

There is no escape to the fact that voting is, from a logical point of view, the only option. 

Something’s Awaiting Brother the President

A quick list at all the “good” prospects lining up for the next US President to deal with.

It reminds one of a comment that came out when the movie “Deep Impact” got released: the one time a black guy was running the country, it was the end of the world or something pretty close to it…

1) Iraq

2) Iran

3) China

4) Russia

5) Possibly, $4 trillion of additional deficit

6) Suprime lending crisis

7) Some say, the start of the Very Great US depression

8) Dubya moving freely around the world with not much to do (well, not much of a change there, really…)

Bush and Clinton Forever

A roadmap to from 1989 to…2057

Americans under the age of 45 have never voted in a presidential election without a Bush or a Clinton on the ballot, either in the Presidential or Vice Presidential slot. (President George Herbert Walker Bush was on the winning 1980 republican ticket as Ronald Reagan’s VP.)

Americans under the age of 37 have never voted in a presidential election without a Bush or a Clinton on the ballot as the choice for President.

If I Were a US Citizen…

…I’d be hard pressed to find any mainstream candidate sharing my views.

Now I know why neither Barack Obama nor Hillary Clinton inspire me much enthusiasm 8-)

http://www.dehp.net/candidate/
Pick Your Candidate
Instructions: Go through each issue listed below and choose the stance you would prefer in a president. If a particular issue is important to you, select a different weight to the right. If an issue is not important to you, leave it as unknown/other. This site will attempt to match your views against the views of the US presidential candidates

Results and details of the answers below:

  • My Results

42 Kucinich
Disagreements: (4) ANWR Drilling, Kyoto, Guantanamo, Iraq, Troop Surge

32 Gravel
Disagreements: (4) No Child Left Behind, Kyoto, Guantanamo, Iraq Troop Surge

15 Edwards
Disagreements: (8) Death Penalty, ANWR Drilling, Patriot Act, Guantanamo, Iran Sanctions, Iran – Military Action, Iraq Troop Surge, Same-Sex Marriage

12 Richardson
Disagreements: (9) Death Penalty, Kyoto, Assault Weapons Ban, Patriot Act, Guantanamo, Iran Sanctions, Iran – Military
Action, Iraq Troop Surge, Same-Sex Marriage

12 Obama
Disagreements: (7) ANWR Drilling, Patriot Act, Guantanamo, Border Fence, Iran Sanctions, Iraq Troop Surge, Same-Sex Marriage

12 Clinton
Disagreements: (10) Death Penalty, ANWR Drilling, Kyoto, Patriot Act, Guantanamo, Border Fence, Iran Sanctions, Iran – Military
Action, Iraq Troop Surge, Same-Sex Marriage

11 Biden
Disagreements: (8) Death Penalty, ANWR Drilling, Patriot Act, Guantanamo, Border Fence, Iran Sanctions, Iraq Troop Surge, Same-Sex Marriage

10 Dodd
Disagreements: (9) Death Penalty, ANWR Drilling, Kyoto, Patriot Act, Guantanamo, Border Fence, Iran Sanctions, Iran – Military
Action, Iraq Troop Surge

-2 Paul 13/1
-6 McCain 15/1
-10 T. Thompson 7/14
-10 Giuliani 13/3
-13 Huckabee 13/5
-13 Brownback 14/3
-17 Cox 11/9
-30 Hunter 17/3
-31 Romney 16/3
-43 Tancredo 20/2

  • My Answers

Abortion Rights – No federal legislation banning abortion. SUPPORT/IMPORTANT

Death Penalty – States’ right to issue the death penalty. OPPOSE/IMPORTANT

No Child Left Behind – Maintaining the No Child Left Behind Act. SUPPORT/IMPORTANT

Embryonic Stem Cells – Legalizing research that uses stem cells derived from embryos. SUPPORT/IMPORTANT

ANWR Drilling – Drilling for oil in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge. SUPPORT/MINIMAL

Kyoto – The US adhering to the Kyoto Protocol. OPPOSE/MINIMAL

Assault Weapons Ban – Reinstating the Assault Weapons Ban. SUPPORT/MINIMAL

Guns – Background Checks – More thorough background checks for gun ownership. SUPPORT/IMPORTANT

Patriot Act – Maintaining the Patriot Act. OPPOSE/KEY

Guantanamo – Maintaining a military presence at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. SUPPORT/MINIMAL

Torture – Torturing prisoners such as enemy combatants or suspected terrorists. OPPOSE/KEY

Wiretapping – Intercepting internet/telephone communications without a warrant. OPPOSE/MINIMAL

Citizenship Path for Illegals – Creating a path by which illegal aliens already in the US can become citizens. SUPPORT/KEY

Border Fence – Constructing a border fence between the US and Mexico. OPPOSE/IMPORTANT

Net Neutrality – Regulations to ensure that public networks treat all content, sites, and platforms equally. SUPPORT/MINIMAL

Iran Sanctions – Maintaining trade sanctions with Iran. OPPOSE/IMPORTANT

Iran – Military Action – Utilizing military action to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear capabilities. OPPOSE/IMPORTANT

Iraq War – Maintaining the current war with terrorists in Iraq. OPPOSE/MINIMAL

Iraq Troop Surge – The increased troop presence in Iraq. SUPPORT/IMPORTANT

Iraq Withdrawal – Withdrawing from Iraq. SUPPORT/IMPORTANT

Minimum Wage Increase – Increasing the minimum wage. SUPPORT/IMPORTANT

Same-Sex Marriage – Allowing same-sex marriage. SUPPORT/IMPORTANT

Same-Sex Civil Union – Allowing civil unions between people of the same sex. SUPPORT/IMPORTANT

Same-Sex Constitutional Ban – The creation of an ammendment that bans same-sex marriage. OPPOSE/IMPORTANT

Universal Healthcare – The creation of a federal, universal healthcare system. SUPPORT/IMPORTANT

UPDATE: HERE MY RESULTS FROM THE WQAD SURVEY
Dennis Kucinich 48
Mike Gravel 43
Barack Obama 43
John Edwards 39
Rudy Giuliani 38
Hillary Clinton 36
Ron Paul 31
John McCain 24
Mike Huckabee 20
Mitt Romney 17