Quick Thought: Tonight's Debate.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Well, the debate just finished a little bit ago and I thought I would post my initial thoughts regarding it.  Maybe after I've thought about it a bit, I'll write something more substantive.

My initial impression is that the debate was largely a draw with John McCain maybe having the slightest bit of an edge (though, I believe that edge might be the result of not entirely accurately characterizing Obama's views and his voting history).  However, overall I think Obama actually came out on top.  

While McCain might have done a slightly better job in demonstrating that he has more foreign policy experience than Obama, no one really doubted that before the debate.  While I think Obama has a lot going for him, I must admit that I'm quite sure that McCain has more foreign policy and national security experience than Obama.

This being the case, that Obama was able to hold his own and demonstrate a lacuna in McCain's proposed policies and his rhetoric, really was a win for him.  Being able to demonstrate that McCain's focus on the surge in Iraq and his failure to address Afghanistan and the wider struggle to address terrorism, I think, gives Obama the clear edge.  To be able to hold his own on the debate on topic where he was clearly disadvantaged and further to be able to show where McCain is weak in an area where he's generally acknowledged as stronger, is definitely a win for Obama.

Folks Fighting for Healthcare in Mason, Ohio.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

A couple of weeks ago, I posted a thread, in which I suggested that it seemed to me that Americans have accepted the status quo.  I was happy to read today that I was wrong about at least 200 Americans in Mason, OH.

Earlier this afternoon about 200 people showed up at the headquarters of Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Mason and launched a protest calling for more responsible (and by responsible I mean actually providing care rather than focusing purely upon profit) healthcare insurance.

From what I read, it seems that the protestors were keying into, what seems to me at least, to be the primary problems with for-profit privately run healthcare insurance.  With the current insurance system in the United States insurers don't have a driving motivation to actually get their customers healthcare.  Indeed, to maintain adequate profit margins they have the pressing motivation to try to deny care for as many people as possible.

As the protestors noted, private insurers such as Anthem have for quite some time had the practice of denying insurance for those with existing conditions or denying claims for more expensive procedures, which they dismiss as "not necessary" or "experimental" (whether or not those procedures are in fact not necessary or experimental).  

While currently, the cost of insurance prevents many from accessing adequate healthcare in this country, that isn't the biggest problem when it comes to the insurance system here.  The problem is the unavailability of insurance for a great number of folks who are the sickest.  With insurance companies needing to make a profit and there being no legislation mandating the provision of insurance to all Americans, we're going to continue to find that large numbers of people will remain uninsured.

This is an issue that folks in this country will have to continue to think about when they go to polls to vote.  If having available healthcare is important to you, you have to think about who is actually arguing for a reform of the insurance system in this country that requires either private or public insurers to provide folks with insurance, whether they have pre-existing conditions or not.

More about the protest can be found at Cincinnati.com.

P.S.  To any and all the folks who attended the Mason protest.  Good work, keep fighting the good fight.

Randomtacularity: Leopard Print Taser.

I was bored and surfing around the internet and I just saw what might be the most amusing thing ever!  A leopard print Taser!  Apparently Taser is trying to sell their new C2 "self-defense electronic control device" to women who want to like stylish while they're tasing you bro.  I'm tempted to buy one just because it would be funny to have a weapon that has designer colors!

Randomtacularity: Hollywood Ending.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

I've been a little occupied this past week it seems.  That being the case, I totally forgot to post anything on here.  The weird thing is that I haven't really been all that busy.  I've had a couple of meetings and I've been doing a literature search to look for good articles and books on environmental ethics.  Other than that though, I've really been doing a lot of sitting on my ass.  

Today, when I realized that I haven't posted for a bit, I had nothing to talk about.  So, I decided that I should post a video of my favorite Hayden song, Hollywood Ending.  This is a great song.

I remember the first time I saw Hayden at the Max Cafe in the University of Calgary back in 1997 (or was it '98).  It was a pretty good time, despite the fact that he never got up off of his stool.  

Protests and Accepting the New Normal.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Earlier today I was talking to a friend of mine, who posts on DailyKOS as LithiumCola, and the topic turned to whether Americans in general have come to accept the various shenanigans of the Bush administration as being the new normal.  While my friend was convinced that Americans are upset with a government that has routinely undermined civil liberties, seem to have an wanton disregard for the environment, and apparently has very little regard for the well being of the average American, I thought that for the most part people really have accepted everything that has changed in the last 8 years.  

Now, I have to grant that currently approval ratings of the sitting president and the congress are at an all time low.  However, it is less clear to me that those have anything to do with what the Bush administration has done and more to do with a stagnant economy (which granted might be in some part the fault of the current administration), high gas and food prices, and a general decrease in purchasing power.

I mean, consider the fact that, if poll numbers are to be believed, John McCain actually has a chance of winning the upcoming election.  McCain, while historically might have had a decent record fighting for electoral reform and for addressing environmental issues, lately has shifted his rhetoric to one that could be taken out of the Bush playbook.  Also, his numbers improved after he chose Palin as his running mate (and really, Palin is just Bush in lipstick and apparently cool glasses).

It seems that Americans clearly have accepted what the Bush administration has done.  Consider for example the recent protests at Miami University in Oxford, OH.  Over 3000 students were present to protest the failure by the university to cancel classes after the storm hit us this past weekend.  I haven't seen any similar protests regarding the war, the state of healthcare in this country, environmental issues, or anything related to this government.  

3000 people were there to express anger about going to class.  If something as minor as sitting in a classroom after it got kinda windy is something that was enough to bring out 3000 students, you would think that if people really disapproved of what the Bush administration has done, you would find at least a couple dozen students protesting from time to time.  However, in the two years that I've been in Cincinnati, I've only seen one protest, which had about 30 people at it.  Well, two if you count the time the hippies asked me to paint to fight the war.  

Stupid hippies.

Quick Thought: Why I like Obama

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Earlier in this election cycle, I was pretty neutral about the two candidates. Indeed, I even wrote a post about how I didn't think there was much difference when it comes to Obama and McCain. However, as the campaigns have progressed, I've changed my mind.

Now I whole heartedly support Obama. Why? Well, mostly for one reason. McCain is planning to tax healthcare benefits. You might ask, "What? You've never seemed to be a guy that's particularly adverse to taxes."

That's true, for the most part I don't think taxes are evil like some people do. I'm more than willing to pay taxes if I think they're going to something useful. If a tax is intended to support social programs, build and maintain infrastructure, finace public healthcare initiatives, or something like that then I'm more than happy to contribute.

However, McCain's proposal to tax healthcare benefits has nothing to do with funding programs. It's intended to defray the cost of preserving the Bush tax cuts for upper tier income earners. And I would rather have sexual congress with a goat than have my money going to pay for tax cuts for rich folks.

Random Thought: Bill Richardson in getting kids to do better at school.

Tonight, I was doing some random entertainment reading on Google News and I saw an OP/ED bit from the Sante Fe New Mexican regarding the responsibility that kids have in their poor performance at school.  

In the article, a proposal of Bill Richardson's which called for not allowing kids who perform poorly or who have poor school attendance to get driver's licenses was mentioned (wow, that was a wretched sentence but I don't care enough to fix it).  And I thought, what an interesting idea.  

As a guy who spends a substantial portion of my time teaching college kids, I've noticed that the vast majority of students who do poorly are folks who really don't care about actually learning but just want to do the least possible and be awarded a degree.  I would assume that's even more of a problem for highschool aged students.  I wonder if incentives, such as being allowed to drive, would in fact get kids to do better in class.

What do you folks think?

Appropriations for Alaska (2009)

Saturday, September 13, 2008

In the last week I've been listening to John McCain and Sarah Palin going on ceaselessly about how they're going to fight earmarks if they get elected.  Further, it seems that every few minutes I see that clip of Palin saying how she said "Thanks but no thanks" to the "bridge to nowhere".

After watching those clips over and over and over, I decided to see what appropriations Alaska was requesting for the upcoming year.  Lucky for me, Ted Stevens, one of the senators from Alaska, has a PDF on his website listing all the earmarks that Alaska is requesting for this year.

It seems that despite Palin's assurances that she's against earmarks, Alaska is requesting over $197 million in appropriations for the upcoming year.

Some of my favorite requests are:

$1.1 million for fighting bootlegging.

$650,000 to fight obesity

$4 million to ensure that people can safely and legally use nature trails (I don't even really know what that means)

$400,000 to "to complete environmental document preparation" (I think this one is funny because I helped to complete a 100 something page environmental document for the University of Cincinnati for absolutely nothing, it would be nice to get paid that much to prepare a document).

John McCain Voicemail to the New York Times (humor)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

I found this great little sound clip created by Michael Weingartener and Lee Camp.  It made me laugh long time.  Give it a listen, you'll like it.

P.S.  Click on the picture above to get to the clip.

Quick Thought: Sarah Palin.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

I haven't seen anyone else mention this but don't you think that Sarah Palin is just George W. Bush with a vagina?

I mean she's rather socially conservative, panders to the religious right, lacks much of a vision for governing, anti-abortion, anti-gay rights, anti-stem cell, anti-pretty much anything that makes sense, and I would assume pro-war.  The only difference that I can find between Bush and Palin (with the exception of their wedding tackle) is that Palin probably won't spend her time in office cutting down brush in Crawford.

P.S.  I found a Roy Zimmerman video about Sarah Palin and I really love Roy Zimmerman, so I decided to add it to this post.  Cheers!

Random Likatude: Large Hadron Rap

After decades of planning and 14 years of construction, today the Large Hadron Collider was activated.  So, in honor of that event, I decided to post the Large Hadron Rap.  I'm not entirely sure who it is that performed it.  I gather it's someone who actually works at CERN.  Anyhow, it's rather entertaining so enjoy.

Quick Thought: The rhetoric of the Republican convention.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Tonight as I was driving from Cincinnati to Muncie, I managed to catch most of the speeches of the Republican convention and I noticed some interesting themes in the rhetoric that was common through most of the speeches (Huckabee to his credit seems to have actually written his own speech and didn't just repeat what everyone else said).

The first thing that I noticed was interesting was how many of the speakers, particularly all the business folks, associated success with hard work.  Indeed, it seemed that they were suggesting that if you're not successful and perhaps in need of some outside assistance then it must be the case that you're just lazy and didn't try hard enough.

Given the current conditions of the US economy, I would contend that a lot of folks could use a bit of help and that has nothing to do with how hard they're working.  I'm pretty sure there are a lot of hardworking folks who could deal with a little help getting more affordable healthcare, more affordable education for their kids, and a whole lot of other things.

The second thing I found interesting was the repeated call for improving liberties and civil liberties.  

Is it just me or wasn't it the current Republican administration that was the one that has been going out of their way to degrade civil liberties as much as they can?  PATRIOT Act, FISA, water boarding....  Who did that?  It wasn't the Democratic party.

Another interesting theme that I heard expressed in most of the speeches is the call for change.  Romney called for change, the eBay person, and the HP ex-CEO all called for change.  However, all I heard folks talking about was cutting taxes, top-down economics, and shrinking government.  Aren't those elements of the Republican platform that have been around since Reagan?  

It might be just that I misunderstand what the word "change" means but it seems to me that endorsing the exact same positions that your party has been arguing for since the 1980s isn't supporting change so much as supporting more of the same.

Historically, at least in the last 20 years or so, the Republicans have definitely been the party that has been better at campaigning and who've been better at presenting rhetoric that was able to persuade people to vote against their own interests.  But, this time around, it doesn't even seem like the Republicans are trying.  They're just tossing around really bad catchphrases and sound bites that are obviously at odds to their principles and platform planks.

Baboons, camels, and elephants. Oh my!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

A.M. and I just got back from paying my brother a visit up in Waterloo and I must say, there's some sweet, sweet "safari" action to be had up there.  

Saturday night, when A.M. and I arrived at Waterloo we managed to get completely lost looking for hotel and ended up in a random cornfield outside of Cambridge.  While we were driving around trying to regain our bearings (because somebody wouldn't call the hotel to get directions despite the fact that somebody else was admittedly bitchy about being lost and not being able to call when he was driving), we saw a sign for the African Lion Safari.

The next day, after we had a lunch that might be best described as a bought of marathon power eating, we decided it would be fun to load up into my Ford Focus and go see what we assumed would be a comically crappy wildlife preserve.

However, when we got there we were pleasantly surprised, we had assumed that there wouldn't be much at the "safari" but instead they had pretty much every animal that I might want to see.  Moreover, they were running loose and were actually apt to wander up dangerously close to the bus.

Indeed, I was waiting for a beast of some sort to break through the window and steal a child.

Alas, no children were eaten but as you can see above, A.M. got to pose with a camel (who tried to get a little amorous with her a couple of times) and my brother and I also got to ride on an elephant.  Given that it's always been one of my goals in life to ride a creature that could squish me at a whim, I was rather pleased with the trip.  Also, during this trip we got to see two baboons humping on top of a minivan.  

It might have been one of the best days ever!

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