Thursday, December 18, 2008

Yes, this is the institution that should lead world affairs

UN split on homosexual decriminalization

Keep in mind, this isn't a debate over gay marriage or civil unions. This bill simply would have asserted that one should not be punished for being a homosexual. Being hung in Iran, or stoned to death in Saudi Arabia, for the crime of being a homosexual.

Let us not forget that, 140 years ago, half of the states of this nation fought to defend slavery.

And heres the kicker: the US didn't sign the bill either. Our excuse was a technicality, but it sucked all the same. Apparently the US isn't the institution that should lead world affairs, either (and we certainly are not under Bush; hence my vote for Obama*).

If one was serious about wanting to win the war on terrorism, they'd see the folly of this. The best way to undermine the radical extremism that is endemic in many of these nations is to promote reform from within. We should be siding with the disenfranchised, not supporting the bullies.

*Obama has already thrown gays under the bus. They make a great sacrificial lamb, don't they? This does not actually surprise me all that much, though. Obama isn't the left winger that his base hopes and the right fears. I've always thought that he is a centrist who is masquerading as a leftist. His post election actions have confirmed my suspicion, to the dismay of the left-wingers.

That doesn't mean I approve of stoking social conservatives with an anti-gay preacher, but I obviously approve of the centrist cabinet picks, Gates for sec def, pardoning Lieberman, et cetera. Bill Clinton threw homosexuals under the bus too. Seems to be standard operating procedure, doesn't it?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Isn't it frustrating when the scientific facts don't support the political agenda?

One might reflexively assume that this article is a snipe at the right, but in fact they would be wrong. Interesting news about the terrible global warming we've been experiencing lately. We've been told lately that this last year was the hottest on record; that the situation is crucial. Turns out, the bureaucracy that came up with those numbers is wrong. Interestingly, that bureaucracy is headed by Al Gore's friend.

I've written about the global warming situation before; specifically, I gave ten reasons why I don't care. I guess we can file this latest news under point 6 in my diatribe. Actually, I think the more interesting thing is the recent decline in sun spots that will correspond with decreases in solar output. Historically, such decreases in activity were followed by ice ages. Wouldn't it be ironic if man-made global warming was staving off a new ice age?

I've always thought that Al Gore was a bit of a self-serving fraud. Its hard not to be suspicious of someone who speaks so strongly of knowing the truth about something as unpredictable as climatology. As I've pointed out in the past: weathermen cannot accurately predict the weather 48 hours in advance. And we are to believe they know what will happen ten, one hundred years from now?

Let me clarify. It is not foolish to think that massive production of greenhouse gases by humans would cause increased temperatures (it would be absurd to believe otherwise; to deny thermodynamics). And, it may be prudent to limit pollution as much as reasonably possible. What is foolish, however, is to believe with such conviction that immediate catastrophe will result if we don't stop global warming now.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Thanks, Sarah

The US Secret Service blames Sarah Palin for a dramatic increase in death threats against Obama. The increase coincided exactly when Palin started her nastiest line of attack in the 2008 Campaign. She would question Obama's patriotism, or say "we don't know who the real Barack Obama is". A subtle suggestion that he is somehow evil, or a traitor.

We saw her say these things, and her crowd would whip up into a hateful frenzied mob. We heard shouts of "hes a terrorist" and "kill him", and we saw her say nothing. We saw no condemnation of these events from the right. No repudiation of such hate from Palin's base, the evangelicals and "values voters" (Jesus apparently hates liberals). The silence was, and continues to be, deafening.

Ironic that I'm writing this on the seventieth anniversary of the Kristallnacht. That was another time in history when hateful people on the fringes of a movement said and did things while their more moderate colleagues watched in silence. When "good" men and women did nothing, said nothing.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

To drive this point home

Appalachia, the stronghold of Hillary Clinton in the Democrat primaries:

Meanwhile, the Daily Kos reports that only 22% of the counties in the nation voted *more* Republican.

Next election, I won't bother with reading about the candidates. I'll just look to see who the people in Appalachia are supporting, and do the opposite.

The future of the GOP

Win back the youth vote:

"This picture from Andrew Gelman is striking. It suggests that the real difference between the past two elections and this one was the youth vote. In this election, the young left the Republican party in droves.

Why? I am not enough of a political scientist to be sure, but conversations I have had with some Harvard undergrads recently have led me to a conjecture: It was largely noneconomic issues. These particular students told me they preferred the lower tax, more limited government, freer trade views of McCain, but they were voting for Obama on the basis of foreign policy and especially social issues like abortion. The choice of a social conservative like Palin as veep really turned them off McCain.

So what does the Republican Party need to do to get the youth vote back? If the Harvard students are typical (and perhaps they are not, as Harvard students are hardly a random sample), the party needs to scale back its social conservatism. Put simply, it needs to become a party for moderate and mainstream libertarians. The actual Libertarian Party is far too extreme in its views to attract these students. And it is too much of a strange fringe group. These students are, after all, part of the establishment. But a reformed Republican Party could, I think, win them back.

Can the Republican Party move move in this direction without losing much of its base? I have no idea, but that seems to be the challenge ahead.

What is soft power?

THIS is soft power. From President Elect Obama's victory speech:

To those who would tear the world down, we will defeat you.

To those who seek peace and security, we support you.

And to all of those who have wondered if Americas beacon still burns as bright. Tonight we have proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms, or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity, and unyielding hope.

Many of us are still rightly concerned about the "war on terror". The more observant of us might have noticed a few things about the war in Afghanistan. We cannot win that conflict with only military power. It cannot be won even with military power coupled with economic power.

The war in Afghanistan, and the wider war on terror, is a war of ideas. What side can best persuade the people of the world to join their cause? This is what George Bush always failed to understand. It is what General Petraeus, the architect of the surge in Iraq, always did understand. You have to get the people on your side. The policies of George Bush: preemptive war, unilateralism, arrogance, belligerence, and torture, only yielded short term gain at a long-term loss.

Obama is a much needed clean break from the policies of Bush: unity. He preaches it. He acts it. He literally embodies it. He is a descendant of both Christian and Muslim, black and white. The soft power of the United States has literally gone up by orders of magnitude just now.

It, of course, remains to be seen if Obama is indeed crafty enough to capitalize on this resurgence of American soft power. To bring the war in Iraq to a swift and stable close. To bring some peace to Afghanistan. Resolve Darfur, strengthen international institutions. The world is desperate for physical and moral leadership right now, and only the United States can fill that role today. President Obama will make it happen.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

McCain's concession speech

Thats the McCain I know. I always knew he was still down there. If only he had defeated George Bush in 2000. I look forward to seeing him on the Daily Show again soon =).

Independents in Indiana

Supporting Obama over McCain by almost 20%.

This is striking when you stop to consider McCain's prominence was largely based on his appeal to moderates and independents like myself.

John McCain betrayed independents when he picked Sarah Palin as his VP, and they will bury him for it.

I still don't get it. McCain secures the GOP nomination and THEN moves to the right. It makes no sense. He ceded the entire middle of the political spectrum to Obama. Did he deliberately throw this election?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

My last appeal: vote for Obama.

A year and a half ago I predicted that Obama would defeat McCain. At the time I had enormous respect for both men, and to some extent I still do. Yet events over the last few months have made it quite clear to me that Barack Obama is the superior candidate. First, here are three pieces written by conservatives who are supporting Barack Obama.

1. In February, I wrote my Conservative Case for Barack Obama. It is one of my favorite pieces, and everything still applies.

2. Andrew Sullivan's Top Ten Reasons why conservatives should vote Obama. A conservative Catholic British-American, Andrew's blog is one of my favorites.

3. The Economist newspaper finally endorsed Barack Obama. Coming from a right-of-center newspaper with 150 years of support for free trade, that is a powerful statement.

Since my "Conservative Case for Obama" was written in February, it is missing commentary on two important developments that have occurred since then. Obviously, the most important is the financial crisis. My views on economics are more conservative, thus John McCain should easily be able to draw my support on this issue. Unfortunately, he does not.

His first response to the financial crisis was to rashly call for the firing of Hank Paulson. He then suspended his campaign to fly to Washington DC to "help" with the bailout plan (with what expertise, I wonder?). He constantly accuses Obama of socialism - a curious accusation to make, considering we just nationalized all of the banks with McCain's support.

Meanwhile, Obama has had a steady hand and has been surrounding himself with very intelligent advisers. I for one don't believe his populist economic rhetoric; I suspect he is going to have economic policies similar to those of Clinton. Further bolstering Obama is this impressive survey by The Economist. Even controlling for party affiliation, the professionals overwhelmingly supported Obama's economic policies. Obama's principled stance against McCain's stupid idea of a gas-tax repeal earlier this summer also scored him a point.

The end game is that I am not overly impressed with either candidate on economic matters. Obama seems to have a better grasp on things, but I reflexively disagree with any left-wing economic policies, especially in this time of crisis. McCain has been a consistent supporter of free trade and cutting government waste, which I would support. However, his erratic and inconsistent behavior has made me question how he would handle things as president. To get a feel for how bad it really is, consider watching this video where Fox News anchor Neil Cavuto rips McCain a new one for his handling of economic issues.

McCain could have put people like me at ease with the selection of someone like Mitt Romney as vice president. Indeed, a McCain/Romney moderate pro-business ticket would be a very tempting alternative to Obama's populism. Alas, McCain took the low road and selected the most embarrassingly unqualified person to be VP that I could ever imagine. She is George Bush in a woman's body. Boastfully ignorant, hyper-religious, anti-science, and condescending to those who are curious about the world. One of McCain's own staffers was quoted as describing Palin as a whack job. The most important decision McCain had to make up till now was his VP selection, and in that decision he failed on an epic scale.

A month after her pick, I cannot emphasize enough how much I am turned off by Sarah Palin. However, anyone who thinks I am being unfair, reflexively using her as a reason to support Obama is dead wrong. My first reaction to the pick was excitement and support. Its obvious from that post that McCain had room to sweep me (and presumably other centrists) away from Obama. Instead, he threw us moderates under the bus to appease the far right. That decision probably cost him the presidency.

If I haven't been convincing enough, here is a final point. There is one outcome of an Obama defeat in 2008 that we can be sure of. Hillary 2012.

There you have it. We have two good choices, but in the home stretch one of them clearly pulled ahead while the other fell behind. McCain has had a good career and I wish he would have defeated Bush in 2000. Things would be different if McCain had been in charge for the last eight years. Alas, the McCain of 2000 is gone and is not coming back. There is only one real choice. Barack Obama for President in 2008.

Monday, October 27, 2008

This resonates with me

The other day, Sarah Palin mocked scientific research involving fruit flies. My undergraduate research, which had implications for cancer in humans, was based on a fruit-fly model. I suppose we can't really fault Palin for not knowing all of this (ignoring the fact that fruit flies are a common tool in even high school biology classrooms). We can fault her arrogance, though. It always makes sense, if one is to be discussing a subject with such contempt, to make sure said person knows what they are talking about. Otherwise they will be made to look quite the fool.

At any rate, here is a scathing piece on Palin's larger theme of anti-intellectualism and anti-science. A fantastic quote:

"This is what the Republican Party has done to us this year: It has placed within reach of the Oval Office a woman who is a religious fanatic and a proud, boastful ignoramus. Those who despise science and learning are not anti-elitist. They are morally and intellectually slothful people who are secretly envious of the educated and the cultured. And those who prate of spiritual warfare and demons are not just "people of faith" but theocratic bullies. On Nov. 4, anyone who cares for the Constitution has a clear duty to repudiate this wickedness and stupidity."

I would like to reiterate something of my own. I believe there is indeed some wickedness at work here. There is this sort of pseudo-debate about whether or not evolution is real. First of all, for you Catholics out there, this is a non-issue. The Vatican officially supports evolutionary theory. For other Christian sects, people are wrong if they assume they are forced to make a choice between evolution and belief in God. The two are quite compatible. I'll post on exactly why at a later date.

The crux of the issue comes down to this. I don't personally care whether an individual believes in evolution or not. On the surface, it can sound like a pretty outrageous proposition and without actually having studied it, its easy to have some skepticism. That being said, people in this country have this deep aversion to evolutionary theory because there is a group of people that keep pushing the message that evolution is anti-God and contradicts the bible. It is my belief that the people that do this are evil, manipulative, and are doing it because they know that sewing the seeds of (false) controversy creates an intellectual vacuum that they subsequently fill. Its all about influence and power, and denying evolution is the way these particular men achieve theirs.

At any rate, some will not be convinced; fine. Next time such a person is in the hospital, they should be sure they only accept penicillin for their staph infections. Evolution being false, strains of staph couldn't possibly have evolved resistance to methicillin. Thus these people certainly wouldn't need special antibiotics that can kill MRSA (methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus), right?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Replace the word "Hindu" with "Muslim"

and I bet this article would be getting a lot more attention. Anyone disagree with that?

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Victory or defeat

I saw this excerpt over on Andrew Sullivan's blog and wanted to repost it here:
On 9/11, Al Qaeda had no expectation of a traditional military victory against the United States. The point of the attack was economic -- to draw the U.S. into expensive and protracted foreign wars that would deplete our resources and destabilize our government. By invading Iraq, George Bush became the happy idiot to assist Al Qaeda in this goal. Now, Sarah Palin and John McCain take the leaders of Al Qaeda at their word when they say Iraq is the major front in the war on terror.

Neither consider the possibility that Al Qaeda wants Iraq to be the major front because it furthers their goal of weakening the U.S. while inflicting minimal damage on their operations.

Seven years after 9/11, we are seeing Al Qaeda's long-term goal being realized: the destabilization and economic collapse of the United States. Even as it's happening, the people who supported it all along want to continue facilitating our own long-term disintegration by clinging to simplistic concepts of traditional military victory and defeat. In this sense, they are possibly the most myopic, least strategic thinkers in the history of this nation.

As Gary Shandling said, with this approach, our only hope of killing Osama Bin Laden is that he'll laugh himself to death.


It is mind boggling how strategically stupid it was to invade Iraq, for so many reasons, the least of which is economic. Meanwhile, the powers that be have no long-term plan for Afghanistan, and are lacking strategic insight there, too. Our problem in Afghanistan is that there are millions of recruits in neighboring Pakistan that are all too willing to cross the border to fight the Americans. The only way you can slow that down is to improve the image of America. Bombing targets in Pakistan and killing civilians is a pretty bad way to do that.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

the VP debate

The only question that matters is this: do you think that your VP pick is ready to lead the United States, and the world, starting in January of 2009?

I don't know how anyone voting Republican can give an honest "yes" to that question.

Over the last two weeks I have seen much that would make me question the depth of Sarah Palin's knowledge regarding crucial issues. Her performance in this "debate" did nothing to dispel my skepticism, and therefore she failed. She managed to not embarrass herself, I'll give her that. Maybe we should be setting the bar a bit higher.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Have you ever seen someone in a terrible relationship?

One of those unhealthy, disastrous relationships that so many people fall into. Everyone knows that the relationship should end. Many friends will even tell the person as much. In response, the person may become angry or defensive. Ultimately, though, you hope the person will end the relationship before it is too destructive. Then, years later, the person will look back and say to their friends, "I wish I would have listened to you sooner!"

This kind of thing is going on right now, on an international scale; the world is telling us who to elect for President in 2008. I know, I know, Americans are the ones who get to vote, and not foreigners. Its our country, we should be able to do what we want...I get it. Still, check out this interactive map on What if the US Election were held worldwide? The rules are the same: nations are given electoral votes based on population, and it is winner-take-all. Right now, the tally of world electoral votes is, Barack Obama - 8,202; John McCain - 8. The margin of Obama's lead in most nations is something like 85% to 15%.

The Economist reader base is well educated, so this is a sample of some of the most informed people around the world. Furthermore, it is a right-of-center newspaper; one would almost expect a McCain bias among readers. Certainly, the Economist has displayed such a bias on its own over the last couple of years. Maybe we should take our international friends' advice, just this once. They seem awfully sure about it this time around.

P.S. There is one nation in the entire world that is leaning to McCain right now. Did you spot it? It is, ironically, Macedonia (ironic because Macedonia is one of my ancestral nations). Makes perfect sense, too. Macedonians want McCain to win, because then McCain starts war with Iran. And, as we all know, the Macedonians' favorite past time is conquering Persia.

Monday, September 29, 2008

A simple graphic explains why I am the man.

This is how one goes about making money on Intrade - spotting trends before they happen. I correctly predicted (4-5 days before the markets responded) that McCain's VP pick was a game changer. I unloaded all of my Obama stock on Aug 29.

Meanwhile, my prediction about the general election is unchanged since February. That is, the only way McCain stands a chance is if the economy is booming and Iraq is pacified. Once the financial crisis hit on September 16, everyone knew Obama's numbers would go up.

I sold all of my Obama stock at 61.6 tonight because I think thats pretty close to the natural equilibrium value. It won't go much higher or lower (max of 70, min of 55) unless something crazy happens between now and then. I'm interested to see how Palin performs in the VP debate on Thursday, or if Biden says something really stupid. Alternatively, many of the state electoral vote races are VERY close right now. The trades below represent the most hotly contested states right now. The numbers below represent the probability that the corresponding state goes for Obama. Obviously, subtract that number from 100 if you want to find the probability that the state goes for McCain. Look how close Indiana is!

Trade FLORIDA.DEM 48.5
Trade INDIANA.DEM 42.4
Trade IOWA.DEM 83.0
Trade MONTANA.DEM 15.0
Trade NEVADA.DEM 51.0
Trade OHIO.DEM 51.7

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Playing Economist

Some reasons why I suspect that the bailout is a bad idea:

-We are giving the Bush Administration 700 billion dollars to use however they see fit. The Bush Administration. Am I the only one who sees a problem with this? When has Bush ever been prudent with our money? What crisis or problem has he ever successfully managed?

-Hank Paulson will have almost zero oversight. We're going to put the future of the US Economy in the hands of one Bush appointee? This reminds me of the FEMA director Michael Brown during Katrina. I can hear Bush now. "Hankie, you're doing a helluva job."

-Where is the 700 billion dollars going to come from? The US government certainly doesn't have it. Where are we going to get it? Borrow more from the Chinese? We already owe them 1 trillion; why not make it 2? Or perhaps we could go beg King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia? Then he could channel the interest from our loans directly into the accounts of extremists and terrorists who are trying to take over Pakistan or are killing our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.

-What will the consequences of borrowing 700 billion dollars be? Inflation? A (further) collapse in the value of the US Dollar? If we're lucky, it will only be 15-20 years of economic stagnation, like in Japan.

Something can't come from nothing. This crisis is the result of a massive disequilibrium in the financial system trying to correct itself. A 700 billion dollar bail-out will only delay the inevitable. It allows us to avoid pain now for a lot more pain later. I wish Americans would for once not screw over future generations. We spent money we didn't have. We should pay for it. Not our children.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Simple Question:

"Do we want to live in a system where profits are private, but losses are socialized?"

One economist thinks Paulson is wrong for bailing out all of these financial institutions. I am inclined to agree.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Another conservative for Barack Obama

One can never quite read enough of these. My belief is that any conservative with foresight is supporting Obama. Such people have been demanding the heads of the current run of GOP leaders for their failures. They know that the best way to punish those leaders IS NOT to put them back in power for the next four years. It is to purge their asses from office until they get their act together.

Meanwhile, Obama has regained his lead over McCain on Intrade. Just a few days ago it was 47%-52% Obama-McCain; now its 51%-48% Obama-McCain. It will keep shifting back in Obama's favor. Historical precedent is very clear about this - economic disasters are bad for the incumbent party. It isn't helping McCain's case that he doesn't have a plan to deal with the economic crisis while Obama does. It also doesn't help McCain's case that he reportedly doesn't think the economy is in trouble, that he thinks the "rich" are people who make more than 5 million a year (making 2 million/year is middle class, I guess), or that he doesn't know how many houses he has.

The biggest thing that hurts me is to see John McCain become the very thing he stood against. He used to be a genuine maverick; he wasn't afraid to stand up to the GOP leadership or to "agents of intolerance". Now he panders to them. Instead of sticking with his centrist, independent-friendly credentials, he is sucking up to the evangelical base by picking an ignorant nobody to be his vice president. For Christ's sake, she didn't even know what the "Bush Doctrine" was. Has she been paying ANY attention over the last 5 years? It is absolutely outrageous. It is reckless. And the new biggest thing that annoys me is when a person tries to equate her experience with Obama's, to suggest there is no difference between Palin and Obama. It is painfully obvious that he is at least 10 times smarter than she is.

I would have been just as relentless had Obama picked such an ignoramus as a VP because there is a higher-than-usual possibility that he could be shot, whether we like to think it or not. So his VP pick was all the more important. McCain too has a higher risk of death than a typical president, due to his age and health. If I knew for sure he wouldn't die, that would be one thing. But we don't know that. And I don't want a Commander in Chief that apparently thinks going to war with Russia is not a big deal. Republican Senator Hagel seems to agree with me.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

That horserace I recently spoke of

McCain on Intrade has broken 50% for the first time over the last couple of weeks. Before the Palin pick, Obama was sitting at a comfortable 62% to McCain's 38%.

The significance of this event should not be overlooked. The second graph is the probability that the Republican Party will win the presidency in 2008. Its value roughly reflects the strength of the GOP, which has diminished with Bush's disastrous polices. And as it now mirrors the McCain contract, the Republican_President contract has broken 50% for the first time in almost two years. It averaged 35% for most of that time (obviously then, the Democrats had a 65% chance of taking the White House). This confluence either represents the strength of McCain (+Palin), or the weakness of Obama; perhaps a little of both.

It is interesting to note that McCain himself didn't particularly budge the GOP's chances in November. It was the pick of Palin as VP that really caused a spike in his numbers. It makes us wonder whether or not it will be a temporary or long-term gain. Incidentally, I do believe that McCain's winning of the GOP nomination had staved off what would otherwise been a complete massacre in the 2008 election by the Democrats. Under Romney or Guliani, the GOP would be under 30% right now in my opinion.

Something else that I just read on the BBC: Obama just gained record donations for the month of August ($66 million). Recent events have made many of his supporters very nervous. As well they should be. McCain/Palin is a formidable ticket, but it is beatable.

The day that John McCain picked Palin for VP, I sold all of my Obama stock on intrade at about 62. Now that contract is worth about 47% and so I emptied my bankroll this afternoon buying it back. I still think Obama is going to win this election, and here is why:

1. I stipulated long ago that McCain only has a chance at this election if the economy doesn't tank and the war in Iraq doesn't get worse. Has anyone been watching the news from Wall Street lately? It is good news for Obama, and bad news for McCain (a self-professed economics novice). Not to mention, a majority of Economists think Obama will be better for the economy in the long run.

2. Palin-fever will wear off. November is still a long way away, and her ignorance on important issues will become very apparent in the Debates. I believe people are going to underestimate the effect of the internet on this election. You simply can't hide ignorance like hers the GOP were able to hide Bush's in 2000. Don't get me wrong, I like the woman as a person. But people are going to be uncomfortable with a foreign policy novice taking the reins when McCain dies.

3. McCain is running a nasty campaign and it will catch up to him. Obama has stayed above it, for the most part. McCain is lying, he is being deceptive. It is Karl Rove and George Bush all over again. You can fool some of the people all of the time, and you can fool all of the people some of the time. But you can't fool all of the people all of the time.

So there it is, my prediction - Obama wins. But my margin of comfort isn't more than 5%. It will be a close one, and a major gaffe by any side or a major world event could tip things either way.

Thursday, September 04, 2008


It has been a while since I've seen so much of it.

All of the pro-Obama pundits have been discussing the Sarah Palin vice presidential pick with the underlying assumption that it is obviously going to blow up in McCain's face. All I've been reading for the last week is anti-Palin this, anti-Palin that. Many of these tidbits have a lot of truth to them; especially from an independent or left-wing point of view (95% of the internet). However, they don't undermine the fundamental reality that Sarah Palin has made McCain a more competitive presidential candidate.

The right is falling in love with Palin. Evangelicals are getting excited. Only a week ago, I thought Obama's own VP choice was perfect, but the situation has changed dramatically. Joe Biden is going to have to tread very, very carefully in the VP debates lest he be seen as a bully. His inability to filter what he says would have been funny against a Romney or a Guliani; it will look chauvinistic against a Palin. The last thing the Obama/Biden ticket can afford to do is lose more women to McCain.

It will be interesting to see how Obama himself responds to the Sarah Palin factor. Hopefully his response will be more effective than that of all of his intellectual backers on the internet, which has been terrible. Its time to stop wishing Palin didn't make McCain stronger, or hoping that she is going to have some disastrous secret that destroys McCain's campaign. People need to take her seriously and begin to think about how to counter her. Otherwise, a lot of people are going to wake up on a cold November day still wondering how they lost to such a "weak" ticket.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Brilliant, McCain!

John McCain's pick of Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin was a brilliant tactical stroke. I must say, I was caught off guard by that pick but in retrospect I shouldn't be so surprised. If McCain is anything, he is a tactician. His VP is youthful, to offset his age. She is charismatic, something he lacks to some degree. She is moderate, and helps make the GOP ticket look as such. And of course, being female, McCain just tapped into the largest disaffected group of voters in this country. At this point, all bets are off. Intrade still has Obama at 60% to win, but make no mistake - it is a horse race at this point.

My own feelings are still pro-Obama but are relatively balanced between the two candidates. On economic issues, I side with McCain and always have. On foreign policy issues, the success of the surge and the stabilization of Iraq has turned a foreign policy and humanitarian disaster into a huge benefit - if it can be maintained. Everyone should give McCain props for that. The question we need to ask ourselves is who can best win the war in Afghanistan and who can best reduce our dependence on foreign oil. I believe Obama is still that man, but certainly not by a large margin.

P.S. Republicans should be very careful what they wish for. If Obama loses this election, Hillary Clinton is a guaranteed lock for the Democratic nomination, and probably the presidency, in 2012. The GOP might wish they'd tolerated an Obama for four years when faced with the prospect of another Clinton White House for eight.

****** Addendum ******

So apparently my initial sources might have been inaccurate. Governor Palin may not be a moderate at all. Some of the things I've been reading paint her as a religious right-winger similar to Rick Santorum; teaching creationism in the schools and all of that (BARF). At any rate, my opinion still stands that it was a smart political move on McCain's part. It isn't a decision that appeals to intellectual voters, it is a decision that appeals to spiteful voters. And there are many of them, who will soon realize if they already haven't that an Obama defeat in 2008 guarantees a Hillary Clinton run in 2012.

McCain will lose some ground with independents and moderate Republicans, who were hoping for someone with a strong economic background to complement McCain's obvious weakness in that area. But the truth is, as long as Obama talks like a populist and speaks against free trade, economic-issue voters will still be in McCain's camp. Meanwhile any losses he would have had will be more than offset by the gains in evangelicals and women voters.

There are a lot of people railing that this is a bad decision for the country. Bringing in someone with little experience and putting that person "a heartbeat away" from the Presidency. They point out that it makes a mockery of McCain's campaign slogan, "Country First". I agree with this people. It is a bad decision for the country. But it is undeniably a good decision for McCain's chances of winning the election.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The US Economy is a beast!

GDP grew at 3.3%? I thought we were in a recession? 3.3% is significantly more than what would be considered "fast" growth in Western Europe.

My 2008 election prediction had Obama trouncing McCain. I did allow for a caveat, though. For McCain to have a chance, the US economy had to be strong and Iraq had to be going well. Amazingly, both seem to be a reality. I still think Obama will win, but it isn't so surprising that the polls are pretty close.

Obama's speech tonight was good, but he will have to perform well in the debates if he is going to win this thing.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


I've been reading "Nixon and Kissinger" this month, which naturally has a lot of discussion of the Vietnam war. Specifically, the negotiations, the conflict, and the enemy mindset and strategy. There are far more parallels between Afghanistan and Vietnam than there are between Iraq and Vietnam, in my opinions.

Iraq was a nastier war from the start, but I said some time ago that I think it will resolve faster. Either we will win or we'll leave; either way, some conclusion will be met. This is more or less consistent with the past governing history of Iraq; it is used to being unified by a strong force despite all of its differences in ethnicity and religion (Turks first, then Arab strongmen like Saddam).

Afghanistan, on the other hand, has a long storied history of NOT being under the control of one dominant central authority. It also has a long storied history of refusing to become pacified by any major power, even in ancient times. More recently we look at the British, the Russians, and now the USA.

Terrain looks to be another factor. Vietnam obviously had terrain that was extremely conducive to guerrilla warfare, support from local populace or no. Now compare the two present battle-zones. Iraq is flat, with fertile river basins or desert depending on where you go. It isn't especially easy to hide from US reconnaissance aircraft in the middle of a desert. Contrast this all with Afghanistan. Just mountains and caves and nothing. And a 2000+ long mile border with Pakistan. This is probably another reason why Iraq has traditionally been more centralized while Afghanistan hasn't been. In Iraq, Saddam could just send his army to crush the dissenting ethnic groups, who had nowhere to hide. Not so in Afghanistan. Notice also that the one ethnic group that gave Saddam the most trouble - the Kurds, have a lot of mountainous terrain in their homeland.

I was also thinking that oil would contribute to a centralized power structure whereas the lack of an organized economy or lack of reliance of a central government would discourage such organization in Afghanistan. Could be a combination of all of those factors.

But the main similarity between Afghanistan and Vietnam in my mind is the psyche of the enemy. There is simply no negotiation, nor is there a desire to negotiate. The Taliban simply do not care how many men they lose. Their reserves are nearly infinite. This is identical to the mindset of Ho Chi Minh and the Vietnamese Communists. They will continue to attack even in the face of 10:1 casualty ratios.

So this is why I said some time ago that I think Afghanistan is more of a lost cause than Iraq; I see fewer prospects for a resolution and in 5-10 years we're going to ask why we should even bother. This isn't to say that we should give up the mission, but we need to re-think our strategy if we're going to make any progress. The impetus for this post in the first place was the news today of the French corps who were ambushed, with 10 killed and some 20+ wounded. France is contributing 3000; I imagine they will be gone before the years end. The war is pretty unpopular in other NATO nations as well. I'd say we have five years max to get this things wrapped up, because thats the very longest that public opinion will tolerate this sort of thing any longer, even in the states.

As far as what strategy changes are concerned, I would emphasize that we must think in political, social, and economic terms. Military solutions aren't as effective when your enemy doesn't care at all about casualties and your side does. I mean from news reports its seems like we already have 25:1 kill/loss ratios, it simply can't get much better than that unless we have robots. So here are my ideas:

1. Political: fix Pakistan. Yea, pretty simplistic and difficult I realize. But what I mean is we need to encourage democracy and strong institutions there, even if it means an anti-American (within limits) Islamic party takes power. We need to learn to work with such a government, to coexist with it. Once Muslims realize democracy isn't incompatible w/ Islam, a big reason for the Taliban to fight the Afghani government disappears.

2. Social: elect Barack Obama. The last thing we need is another militaristic Christian crusader speaking of going to war with miscellaneous Islamic countries. We are trying to get these people to see our point of view, to work w/ us, to coexist with us. Maybe we are destined to fight a clash of civilizations. But in the meantime, if anyone can convince some of the enemy to lay down their arms, its Barack Obama. I fear that McCain will only encourage more to pick up arms against us.

3. Economic: the opium trade is forcing poor Afghani farmers to break the law and side with the Taleban in order to feed their families. We need a three pronged approach here. First, mount a massive public campaign across the world but especially in Europe to reduce opium usage (discourage demand). Maybe Barack could spearhead it? Second, we should have our pharmaceutical companies buy Afghani opium for a fair price so the farmers can make their money legally. Third, we should subsidize Afghani farmers to grow other crops.

Third year of medschool is strange. I feel that there is less pressure and it is less busy than 1st and 2nd year. And yet, I feel that I have far less time than I used to. I barely ever get to read on the net anymore, and hardly get to crack my new issues of the Economist. So I decided I'd sit down tonight and think about something other than whatever clerkship that I'm in, but unfortunately have no time for editing or revising so if it looks jumbled, thats why. Because its way past my bedtime, and I have neurological examinations to perform in the morning...

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Is Larry Summers a sexist?

The answer would depend on whether or not one believes that truth trumps political correctness. I think it does. A great many people do not. For the record, I don't like those people - which is why I feel the need to post this at all.


Addendum: I don't think many people will understand the point I've made above, so allow me to clarify. I don't care whether men or women are better at math. This is only an issue because a bunch of left-wingers with an agenda read a study, misread the data (either deliberately or in ignorance), and used it to continue to make the case that Larry Summers is a sexist. When the study is analyzed correctly, and put into context with what Summers actually said, the data supports Summers, not the other way around.

I've written before of this, but the dogma of political correctness is an eternal source of friction between myself and the left. The left prides itself on intellectualism and the search for truth, but in reality group-think and stifling of dissent saturates any leftist discourse. You can't have your own opinions, you can only tow the line.

The right, on the other hand, simply lies. I almost prefer that; it's less insidious.


Addendum number 2:

"What's interesting is not only that Larry was fundamentally right about the facts (no surprise there), but that much of the mainstream media are still reporting otherwise." -Greg Mankiw (economics professor @ Harvard, former colleague of Summers, author of my favorite econ blog)

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

John McCain

I just don't get it. The way someone becomes president in this nation is to pander to the base in the primary, and then move back to the middle during the general campaign. John McCain had vast appeal to independents and moderates for years because he wasn't so reflexively 'conservative' on some issues.

McCain has had the GOP nomination locked down for months. What has he been doing since then? Moving to the right, pandering to conservatives, and alienating moderates! Meanwhile, Barack Obama has been moving to the middle ground, to the relief of independents like myself who never took to his populist economic rhetoric.

Its almost like he is trying to lose the election, or he is losing his mind. I guess I'm not too concerned either way, because I obviously want Obama to win. Still, it saddens me some to see McCain go out like this. I always liked him.

P.S. Intrade has Obama 65% to McCain's 31% right now. We may be looking at a landslide. Come to terms with an Obama presidency, because its going to happen!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The crux of the issue

A summary of my entire "The Conservative Case for Barack Obama" post:

"Powell, Hagel and lesser-known Obamacons harbor no animosity toward McCain. Nor do they show much affection for the rigidly liberal Obama. The Obamacon syndrome is based on hostility to Bush and his administration and on revulsion over today's Republican Party."

Monday, June 02, 2008

Beginning a new phase

I just took the USMLE Step 1, an exam that all medical students take after the first two years (which are mostly bookwork). Theoretically, the schedule for the final two years of med school are more relaxing. Clinical rotations begin in a couple of weeks; the rigor will vary per rotation. In some rotations, students are insanely busy (in surgery, 90 hours/week busy); in others, there will be more free time. Less bookwork should hopefully mean more free time on the weekends, as well.

What does this mean for my blog? For one, I'm hoping that I can spend more time on the pieces that I write; putting more thought and effort into them. Looking back on some of my posts for the last couple of years, I feel many are rushed and shallow. Not surprising, given that many of them were written at 2:00 am while I'm knee-deep in notes studying for some insane exam. Also, I want the focus of my writing to shift a bit. I want to begin writing more about my experience as a medical student, about my observations and criticisms of the system, and maybe even interesting encounters. I will still write about politics a lot I am sure, but probably not as much. With the primaries over, theres no way I can write about McCain-Obama for five months. Besides, considering that I am becoming a doctor and not a politician, this shift seems appropriate.

This all being said, I want to briefly summarize my thoughts on my two favorite issues. After all, I'm still on vacation!

Iraq: The progress in stabilizing the nation has been incredible lately. I am actually beginning to think that the Iraqi politicians are capable of something. This does not change my opinion that the US needs to remove the bulk of its forces from Iraq as soon as safely possible. The success as of late means that when we withdraw, we should be particular and cautious about it so as to preserve the gains we have made. Long term US military bases in Iraq should be out of the question, and reiterating that point to Iraqis will destroy one of the remaining good reasons for an Iraqi to join the insurgency. My optimism regarding the long term political viability of Iraq remains low, but then again, if Iraq if anything, it is unpredictable.

Afghanistan: Lets put it this way. I am significantly less optimistic about our long-term success in Afghanistan than in Iraq. The people we are fighting seem bored, so much so that they'll be perfectly content fighting NATO forces for the next twenty years if thats what it takes. And unlike Iraq, I feel like it will be difficult to convince many locals (in say Helmand province) that the foreigners are a threat. This because things seem to be based more on tribalism and less on nationalism than even Iraq. Not to mention the difficulties provided by the opium trade. I'd be curious to read about how NATO is planning its long-term strategy in Afghanistan.

2008 Election: My conviction that Obama will beat McCain in November has begun to waver. In my defense, I did have a caveat up front about that prediction - it assumes that Iraq had gone to shit and the US economy had tanked. In fact, neither has happened. McCain still has his work cut out for him, to be sure; Bush is the most unpopular president ever, the GOP is going for a third term, and the war is still very unpopular. McCain still appears to be in better shape than he was a couple of months ago. Also add in the fact that Hillary Clinton has (in my opinion, deliberately) done enormous damage to Barack Obama, who has a whole host of issues to contend with. Obama isn't nearly as strong as he was a couple of months ago. Right now I'd call the contest a 50/50 split. Intrade, however, gives McCain only a 37% chance of winning.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Nightmare Ticket

I have a message for Barack Obama. As an independent, I am sure that I speak for many of my kind when I say this: If you pick Hillary Clinton to be your running mate, I'm voting for John McCain.

Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton don't "complement each other", as so many lunatics on the news have been claiming lately. The idea that their union would constitute a "dream ticket" is absolutely absurd. Lets face it - having Hillary on the ticket isn't really going to affect what her base does all that much. Most of them will fall in line behind whichever Democrat is nominated. It would be stupid for Obama to pick a VP with so many negatives.

I can guarantee that John McCain is rooting for Hillary. If Obama was so foolish, say goodbye to any Republicans that were thinking about supporting him. Say goodbye to a lot of Independents, too; they get along with McCain just fine. However, pick Hillary for VP, and say hello to a massive mobilization of life-long republicans. These are the people that are upset with Bush, don't particularly love McCain, and since Obama doesn't annoy them all that much, they might have stayed home on election day. Not anymore. The prospect of a Hillary Clinton vice presidency, or worse (remember, RFK was shot in June), will mobilize these people in vast numbers. They will vote not for John McCain, but against Hillary Clinton.

I've said it dozens of times. Anyone who thinks that the gay marriage issue can mobilize the conservative vote hasn't seen anything yet. With defeating Hillary Clinton as a rallying cry, McCain cannot lose. Don't do it Barack. You don't owe her anything. She'll probably poison your food or try to kill you in your sleep, anyway.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Leaving Iraq

It has been appropriate to withdraw for a long time now. Just in case there was any confusion left, however, a decisive event towards moving in that direction has occurred. One knows that it is time to go when the Shia leader al Sistani has declared that attacks on US Troops are acceptable.

Sistani is a moderate but extremely influential Iraqi Shia leader; easily the most powerful in Iraq. In the first few years of the invasion, he issued non-violence religious orders regarding US troops. He also kept Iraqi civil war at bay, by prohibiting his followers from retaliating against Sunni provocations. Finally, he urged his followers to vote in the US sponsored elections, which were thus a success only because of Sistani.

Hopefully the Shia government will ask US forces to leave soon. If they don't, we still should anyways. We have won the hearts and minds of nobody; the Iraqis don't want us there, and they don't appreciate the sacrifices our soldiers have made. Al Qaeda isn't going to take over the country; neither is Iran for that matter. Its long past time we let Iraqis sort things out for themselves.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Betting on the Clintons being evil

On Intrade, the contract "Dropout.June08.Clinton" is currently trading at about 81%. That's about 4:1 odds on a short-sell; it's essentially a bet to see whether or not Clinton drags this thing out to the convention. Doing so would be her best way to damage Obama in the long run. She needs Obama to lose if she is to make a run in 2012.

This might be the most overvalued Intrade stock I've ever seen.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Nazi-Soviet Nonaggression Pact

It has been terrifying to watch the formation of an unholy alliance between the Clinton campaign and Fox News. It reminds me of the Nazi-Soviet nonaggression pact in 1939 - and Barack Obama is Poland. Hillary Clinton and Fox News are mortal enemies, but the destruction of Barack Obama is a more pressing concern for both parties. Both have something to gain from Obama’s destruction: a Clinton run in 2012, and a McCain victory in 2008.

The Clinton camp will create the narrative, and Fox will continue to amplify it. Already we are seeing Clinton’s “feminist” surrogates lining up to accuse Obama of being a sexist; this to ensure that Obama never wins the female vote. Clinton will continue to pretend to be the friend of Michigan and Florida voters, to help McCain win those states in November. Meanwhile, Fox will continue to claim that Obama can’t win the white vote, and remind voters of Jeremiah Wright and “bittergate”. Obama does not have a white problem, he has a regional problem – he doesn’t do well in Appalachia. No surprise there – it’s poor, economically stagnant, uneducated, white, and racist; in other words, Hillary Clinton’s base.

The only people who could put a stop to this are the super delegates. A massive exodus from Clinton to Obama would be a firm rebuke to her divisive tactics and make a Democrat victory in November possible. However, I am not optimistic that the Democratic leadership will be either decisive or courageous. Over the last few years they have only shown themselves to be a bunch of indecisive, sniveling cowards; I don’t see why this time will be any different. How pathetic. This sad state of affairs reminds me why I am not a Democrat.

Sore loser, sore loser

Hillary Clinton recently blamed her imminent defeat on the media, claiming it has been sexist. Right. Hillary has been dead in the water since February. Had the roles been switched...had it been Hillary with an insurmountable delegate lead over Barack, what would the narrative have been? Hillary would have laughed at Obama for continuing to campaign. She would have declared victory months ago.

It was the media that allowed Hillary to keep in this race. The Clinton campaign has used the media to dictate the narrative for months. First it was pledged delegates. Then it was "big states". Then it was the popular vote. Now its working class white people. According to the Clintons, the criteria we should use to pick the nominee is changing every other week, and the media laps it up. Hillary shouldn't be criticizing the media, she should be thanking it graciously for allowing her to continue her campaign for far longer than she should have been able to.

Just in case anyone is wondering why Clinton keeps winning "the white vote", it has far less to do with race than region. Obama can win the white vote; states don't get any more rural and white than Iowa. What he cannot win is the Appalachian vote. The Appalachian region extends through Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, and Kentucky...all big Clinton wins. Economically stagnant, uneducated, and white, Appalachia is Clinton's base. I'm not impressed.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Its over!!!

Granted, people who have been paying attention know that Obama won the nomination a long time ago. This has only gone on so long because the media wouldn't accept that Obama won until he delivered a "knockout blow" to Hillary. Last night, Obama delivered. North Carolina was a humiliation for HRC, who believed that she was going to keep it close. Indiana, with its abundant blue collar, working class, non-college educated white folk, aka "Hillary's base", should have went strongly for Hillary. Polls showed her winning by 6+ percent.

In reality, she couldn't even give her victory speech with confidence, because Indiana was still up in the air at that point. Bill was standing next to her, and he was absolutely furious. His face was as red as a monkey's ass. The Clintons knew last night that this race was over. I am so proud of Indiana, for being the state that finally destroyed the Clinton machine. Its been an exciting election thus far, but I'm glad its over. It has been a huge distraction, and I have work to do.

...and it most certainly is over. John McCain doesn't stand even a remote chance of beating Obama in November.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

George Bush's third term?

Someone asked Hillary if she knew of a single economist who thought her summer gas tax holiday was a good idea.

"Well, I'll tell you what, I'm not going to put my lot in with economists."

Classic. Its incredible how broad the census against this idea really is. It spans from the far left all the way to the far right. And yet, in the face of overwhelming agreement that this idea sucks, Hillary didn't backtrack. Instead, she became more adamant and more insistent that her idea was the correct one. She is now challenging Congress to pass legislation, to force everyone to choose to side "with the oil companies or with the American people" (barf).

This its just the latest illustration of a picture that has developed in many people's minds about what Hillary really represents. Her campaign reeks of nepotism; she is surrounded by yes-men and incompetent cronies. Her political tactics are vile and of the lowest order (she had to go negative early because she has no real vision of her own). She says offensive and dangerous things about other nations; most recently, claiming that we would "obliterate" all of Iran. She is a proven, pathological liar; indeed she does it so commonly that now it isn't even considered a big deal when she does. Notice how quickly the "sniper fire" controversy died down. Even many of her policies are outlandish and ridiculous - and yet, she egotistically clings to them in defiance. This isn't about whats best for the country, its about proving that she is right.

Hillary Clinton sure has a lot in common with George W. Bush. It is she, not John McCain, who most accurately would represent Bush's "third term" in office. Even now, her poll numbers are strengthening. She is poised to win Indiana and could even upset Obama in North Carolina. Polls now show Hillary beating McCain handily in a general election, while Obama-McCain is quite close. I've spent months trying to convince conservatives to support Barack Obama during this election cycle, citing his many strengths as a unifier and a stimulus for change. Now I'm going to urge conservatives, especially ones in Indiana, to rally around Obama for a different reason:

Do it, or be prepared to watch Hillary Clinton give an inaugural address in January.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

One way to not get the Iranians to stop pursuing nuclear weapons:

Threaten to "obliterate" their nation. There seems to be a constant stream of American politicians who are willing to talk about nuking Iran. Most of the GOP candidates in one debate refused to rule out the use of preemptive nuclear weapons; only McCain and Ron Paul dissented. And now Hillary Clinton is talking of annihilating Iran? If I was an Iranian, I'd be pushing even harder for a strong nuclear program to deter a US attack.

I don't need to write a post talking about how stupid Hillary Clinton is, of course. There is not a single person who would ever read my blog that would be a Hillary supporter. My (small) reader base consists of only two types of people: bored, young, internet-saavy liberals who are well educated, and thus hate Hillary. Or family and friends who are educated and conservative, and thus hate Hillary. But I did want to put this out there because this is really the kind of thing that McCain or Obama fans should be jumping on to illustrate just how unpalatable a Hillary presidency would be. She isn't even the Democrat nominee yet and she is already pissing off other countries.

I can't believe I'm blogging at 1:45 am, the morning of my pharmacology final exam.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Message to Reverend Wright:


Who is this guy working for, anyway? I just saw Reverend Wright give his side of the story about all of the controversy as of late. He has a sharp wit and a quick tongue, I'll give him that. And I personally don't have a problem with what he was saying. However, I suspect that I'm more open minded and more capable of synthesizing words than most people in Indiana. Most people in Indiana aren't going to be OK with the Reverend's talk. It was arrogant, condescending, and will make people wonder why Obama associates with him at all. Those words will be playing on the news nonstop from now until the Indiana Primary on May 6th.

On Super Tuesday, I called the Democratic Primary for Barack Obama. The type of scenario that it would have taken for him to lose the nomination was too far fetched to take seriously. For the first time since February 5th, I am doubting my conclusion. Obama isn't going to win Indiana; not after that speech by Reverend Wright. At the same time, polls are showing him doing worse against McCain and Hillary better. That far-fetched scenario where Obama somehow loses the nomination is no longer a stretch. I already dumped all of my Obama stock on Intrade; at 80% to win, it was way overvalued. The Democratic race is a tie at this point. When Indiana goes for Hillary, the balance is going to shift in her favor.

At least I still have plan B: John McCain.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The timing couldn't possibly have been better.

My previous post came only hours before an ABC-hosted debate between Obama and Clinton in Philadelphia. A relevant comment from my post:

"...the discourse [in MSM reporting] is so superficial. The "debates" that they have on most of these programs are so inane that they barely scratch the surface of what really matters in an issue."

In that post I cited CNN as an example, but now I can cite the performance of the ABC moderators in the Philly debate to further prove my point. The Washington Post says that the real loser of the debate was ABC. To watch a five minute video that highlights some of the "important issues" brought up in the debate, there is one posted here. Finally, the ABC news website is being flooded with literally thousands of angry viewer comments. There are 15,000 and counting at this point. The ABC site with comments can be seen here, but I'll pick out just a few representative samples:

This is exactly the reason I canceled my cable subscription this year. The major media has been destroying this country for some time now, and the saga continues. This was not a debate over politics, this is a joke. These people must think we are just dumb sheep that don't care about actual issues. I felt like I got dumber watching that "debate".

The mainstream media's disdain for the American public has hit a new low after last nights debate. It is clear that the moderators' impression of Americans is that we are an uneducated hoard with a sick craving for confrontation. Furthermore, their assumption is that our collective intellect cannot comprehend a discussion of serious issues that affect our world.Your entire network has framed this *debate* in nothing but bellicose noise. Look no further than the debate report title - "Philly Fight Night". How does this pass for news? How do your staff members pass for professional news journalists? Do you hate your country enough to make petty attacks and gossip the criteria on which we select our president?

It's about lack of substance and a failure to deal with the critical issues facing our country. I know many McCain supporters, including my father, who were just as disgusted by last night's debate as I was.

What a complete and utter disgrace your hosts and their questions made of this debate. Instead of focusing on real issues, you chose to question Sen. Obama's patriotism? Ask about the capital gains tax? Talk about flag pins? Shame on all of you. I will no longer watch ABC This was truly reprehensible.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

On the MSM

Bill Clinton recently suggested that young voters are easily fooled into voting for Barack Obama. On Digg, one user left a comment that I thought was fantastic:

Bill Clinton has it exactly backwards: Hillary is stronger with older voters because these voters are more likely to get their news mostly from the MSM, while younger voters rely more on the Web. On the Web, Hillary's spin gets shot to smithereens in seconds, whereas it has a much longer halflife on the MSM. The MSM is far more manageable by candidates than the Web is. The Web EMPOWERS its readers to get answers to their questions; they don't need to settle for and second-guess the narrow, cautiously worded narratives that the MSM puts out. For this reason, the MSM not only promotes ignorance, it also promotes self-mistrust in one's understanding of the political landscape (because consciously or not one is aware of the fact that the MSM is not being 100% level in its reporting).

Getting political information from the MSM is a terrible idea. This isn't because I believe big corporations are pulling the strings behind the scenes, or that its pure and deliberate propaganda. No...getting info from the MSM is a bad idea because the discourse is so superficial. The "debates" that they have on most of these programs are so inane that they barely scratch the surface of what really matters in an issue. Want proof? Watch CNN, and then watch CNN-International. It is undeniable: CNN purposefully dumbs down their content for American audiences.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Why is the US Military still fighting al Sadr?

In recent days, the Iraqi city of Basra has seen intense fighting between rival Shia groups. One is financed and trained by, and politically tied to, Iran. A reasonable person might think this is the group that the US Military is fighting, but alas, that person would be wrong. We are fighting along side the Iranian-backed Badr / rebranded ISCI, against local nationalists led by Muqtada al Sadr.

I've said it before, al Sadr is "anti-American" only in the sense that he wants us to withdraw from Iraq. So do all of the Sunni groups that are cooperating with us in Anbar since the surge! We still work with them, don't we? If someone was really interested in the long term stability of a place like Iraq, they would realize that al Sadr is the type of person who could help make that happen. He is a nationalist, keen to curb Iranian influence, and willing to join forces with Sunnis for the sake of "Iraq".

Iraq is the perfect setup for Iran. First we take out Iran's number 1 enemy in Saddam Hussein. Then we sacrifice thousands of US lives and billions of dollars fighting other enemies of Iran; Al Qaeda, the Sunnis in Anbar, and even local Shia nationalists like al Sadr. We are doing all of Iran's dirty work for it, protecting the elected government that Iran more or less owns, and all the while Iran gets to berate the US every day for occupying a Muslim country.

I've got a longer post on this topic coming, but I had to get this one off my chest.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Speaking of preachers who blame America for 9/11

Obama is taking criticism because his reverend, Wright, said some comments about America being partly responsible for 9/11. "Chickens coming home to roost" and all of that. Here are some thoughts.

1. The idea of 'blowback' was presented in the 9/11 Commission Report and describes that actions may have unintended consequences. This isn't a new idea, and it isn't anti-American to suggest that blowback is real.

2. Reverends Falwell and Robertson blamed America for 9/11 as well. Video link is here. Although in their case, the culprit responsible for the terrorist attacks was not blowback, as Wright claimed. Rather, it was moral depravity.

So lets recap. It is anti-American to suggest that covert CIA operations in foreign countries can cause resentment in the local populace. However, it is perfectly reasonable, but not anti-American, to suggest that belief in evolution or partaking in gay sex causes terrorism.

For the record, and to my eternal dismay, John McCain long ago accepted the endorsement of Falwell and spoke at his "university". Anyone who would think less of Obama for his association with Wright should think still worse of McCain for his association with Falwell.

For the record, I could care less about either. It would be impossible for a person to become a contender for the presidency while never once associating with some mildly scrupulous characters. Relative to other politicians, both McCain and Obama are very clean.

Interesting historical tidbit

From Wikipedia:

The Hawley-Smoot Tariff (or Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act)[1] was signed into law on June 17, 1930, and raised U.S. tariffs on over 20,000 imported goods to record levels, and, in the opinion of most economists, worsened the Great Depression. Economists have now generally regarded this Tariff Act (i.e., tax increase on imported goods) as the greatest policy blunder in American economic history, coming as it did after the 1929-30 recession and preventing the economy from a full, natural recovery which had already started by the Spring of 1930. Many countries retaliated with their own increased tariffs on U.S. goods, and American exports and imports plunged by more than half.

During the 1992 Presidential Debate, Ross Perot warned of a "giant sucking sound" to describe job losses to Mexico if NAFTA was signed. During a debate on CNN, Al Gore presented Perot with a framed portrait of Congressmen Smoot and Hawley. The Clinton Administration subsequently won the election and passed NAFTA, which was considered for years to be a fantastic bipartisan achievement.

More trade discussion from my favorite economist Greg Mankiw on the NY Times.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Playing a dangerous game

More concrete word about Republican tactics. They are coming out in droves to vote for Hillary Clinton in Democrat primaries. For a republican it's a cost-benefit analysis. Their best-case scenario is President McCain; worst-case scenario is President Clinton. A President Obama falls somewhere in the middle. Republicans adopting this tactic of helping Hillary are going for an all-or-nothing strategy. That doesn't make sense, though! The reward in such a risk should be high; its not. John McCain is not the next Reagan. The risk, however, is extremely high - the prospects of another President Clinton. Meanwhile, the odds of a favorable outcome (McCain beating Hillary) still aren't that great - especially if the economy tanks or Iraq gets worse. Republicans should realize that settling for four years of Obama is a far less risky and more sensible prospect.

Ultimately, conservatives should be thankful for the existence of Barack Obama. If not for Obama, we would be looking at President Clinton in 2008 - end of story. She would have clinched the Democratic nomination with ease, and she would have trounced any republican, even John McCain, in the general. The only reason McCain could potentially give her a run for her money now is because Hillary's campaign against Obama has shown many Democrats how despicable she really is. Without Obama, the Clintons would still be revered among all Democrats.

After eight long years of abject failure under Bush, conservatives should recognize that they don't deserve the presidency this time around. They need to spend the next four years reorganizing, cleaning up their act, and going back to true conservative principles. In the meantime, they should be thankful that at least its not Hillary.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

It isn't impossible to imagine a scenario where Hillary wins the Democrat nomination. She will be permanently behind in the delegate count, as many have pointed out. It may not matter - neither her nor Obama will be able to make it to 2025 delegates on their own. That is the number required to lock the nomination. The super delegates would have to call it in such circumstances. If Hillary had ended the primary season on a winning streak, its not hard to imagine them deciding in her favor, even if Obama had a very slight overall delegate lead.

This would almost certainly cause a civil war within the Democratic Party. It is much easier to imagine a John McCain victory after such a tumultuous outcome. I for one would not hesitate to vote for McCain if forced to choose between McCain or Hillary. This may be the third virtually unlosable election in eight years that the Democrats are well on their way to losing. It almost makes me pity them.


Monday, March 03, 2008

Addendum to previous post

Short video of Barack Obama discussing education; I completely agree with every point he makes. The short version: while there are lots of things we need to be doing to improve education in America, parental responsibility is most important. This is so obvious, and yet few national politicians are hitting on it.

On a contrary note, I would like to reiterate how strongly I disagree with Obama on economic issues. I am a supporter of NAFTA; on the whole it has been a good thing for North Americans. I support free trade. There isn't any other force that will be capable of lifting billions out of poverty world wide. Free trade unites people as well; nothing in mankind's history has been so effective at preventing wars. Read about the "Golden Arches Theory of Conflict Prevention" for more details (no two nations with a McDonald's have ever gone to war with each other).

As I said below, I am willing to take a hit on economic issues for this election cycle, because the pros of an Obama Presidency more than make up for the economic negatives. Still, I am hoping that Barack's anti-trade rhetoric is mere politics designed to win a primary, not something that he genuinely believes.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

The conservative case for Barack Obama.

I posted a year ago that a McCain-Obama matchup would be a dream come true. It is exactly what this country needs right now - minimally divisive, with bipartisan appeal in both candidates. So who would I support? I consider myself a libertarian; socially liberal but economically conservative. As such, I disagree with just about all of Obama's economic policies. Conversely, I have parallel views with McCain on many issues. Yet, there is no question as to whom I am supporting in November: Barack Obama. Even if I was an arch-conservative, I would still be pulling for Barack Obama in November. Here are eight reasons why.

Reason Number 1: The conservative movement has abandoned its core principles. Anybody with half a brain will recognize that George Bush's administration has not been conservative. The conservative movement needs a timeout. They need to reduce the power of evangelicals and militarists. They need to once again espouse true conservative economic principles, and a more modest foreign agenda. Republicans should be downright embarrassed that Bill Clinton's economic record puts Bush's to shame.

Reason Number 2: Immigration is irrelevant. Regardless of one's opinion on immigration, they might as well forget about it this election cycle. McCain and Obama have very similar opinions on immigration.

Reason Number 3: John McCain is not going to usher in a new conservative economic revolution. McCain's biggest weakness is on economic issues. What a conservative should be looking for is the next Reagan - the next leader who can articulate a new conservative economic agenda. John McCain is not that man. Electing McCain for the next four years would simply delay the time when the next conservative economic revolution takes place.

Reason Number 4: Iraq is not strategically worth it. Despite initially opposing the war, I supported the war after the invasion because I believed we owed it to the Iraqis to try to piece their nation back together. After almost 4000 dead American soldiers, 4 years of battle, and trillions of dollars, we have fulfilled our moral obligation to the Iraqi people. The surge has been an amazing success, and I credit McCain for that (and wish he had been in charge sooner). However, surge or no, the Iraqi politicians are not making political progress. The state of Iraq is going to fragment. It will happen if we withdraw immediately, or if we do so in a decade, but it will happen nonetheless.

Many people believe we need to stay in Iraq to ensure a steady oil supply. This is not just the strong strategy - its the wrong frigging game. The oil is running out! We can deal with this reality now, or we can draw it out for another few decades when the wells run dry. Either way it will happen; the goal is to eventually no longer be reliant on oil.

Meanwhile, the occupation of Iraq does remain a rallying-cry for Islamic extremists. A withdrawal from Iraq, certain to happen under Obama but definitely not under McCain, will rob extremists of that rallying cry. After a US withdrawal from Iraq, no longer will Muslims read in the paper that US soldiers accidentally killed X civilians today in X Iraqi city. Instead, they will be horrified by the intense intra-Muslim violence that will inevitably follow our withdrawal. It will be a tragedy, but one that will quite clearly reveal the evil and hypocrisy of religious extremism for all to see.

Reason Number 5: Barack Obama would stand by far the best chance of any recent US President to solve the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. This is in part because Obama is less biased towards the Israeli side of the dispute, and thus will be seen as more of a fair mediator. Additionally, Obama will have more credibility as someone who opposed the War in Iraq. Finally, having a Muslim father will give Obama a special credibility among Palestinians; a credibility that a militaristic white Christian in McCain could never have.

Reason Number 6: Barack Hussein Obama can fundamentally change the perception of America in the Muslim world and beyond. Obama is a multilateralist, and would help to mend our relations with Europe. As the child of an African man, he is positioned to forge ties to various nations of that continent for mutual benefit, and help curb China's malevolent influence there. Finally, as an opponent of the Iraq war, the child of a poor Muslim father, and having the middle name of Hussein, Barack Obama is going to send a strong message to the billion+ Muslims of the world - Americans do not hate Muslims, they just hate murderers and terrorists. I will quote Andrew Sullivan here, as his passage on this subject is the best I've read:

"Consider this hypothetical. It’s November 2008. A young Pakistani Muslim is watching television and sees that this man—Barack Hussein Obama—is the new face of America. In one simple image, America’s soft power has been ratcheted up not a notch, but a logarithm. A brown-skinned man whose father was an African, who grew up in Indonesia and Hawaii, who attended a majority-Muslim school as a boy, is now the alleged enemy. If you wanted the crudest but most effective weapon against the demonization of America that fuels Islamist ideology, Obama’s face gets close. It proves them wrong about what America is in ways no words can." -Andrew Sullivan, "Why Obama Matters"

Reason Number 7: Obama can do a lot for race relations in this country. Men like Jessie Jackson and Al Sharpton are political opportunists who exploit racial divisions for their own gain. The election of President Obama is going to shut them up for good. An Obama victory proves that their representations of the racist nature of America have been inaccurate. It proves that they are wrong to not give people the benefit of the doubt, and to assume the worst about their inclinations. Electing Obama will take the mantle of African-American leadership from those who exploit division for their own gain, and hand it to a man who preaches unity, reconciliation, and working together for the future.

Reason Number 8: Obama can restore this nation's balance. The Presidency of George Bush has been an absolute failure in every sense of the word. He has squandered our reputation abroad, and exhausted the vast reserves of American soft power (ie, our moral authority). His economic policies have been disastrous. He has exploited the religious, ethnic, and social differences of Americans for political gain. The result is a nation that is as divided as ever. The nation needs to be reoriented. All conservatives should know that the political scene needs to shift back to the left if it ever is to effectively move right again.

We can shock the world, and indeed even ourselves, by casting our votes for Obama in the fall. We can move beyond the old divisions and start with a clean slate after 16 nasty years of sub-par presidents. Every conservative should recognize that economic issues can wait. There are too many pros to pass up an Obama presidency.

Yes we can!

Yes we can?!

Losing Ohio or Texas will be the final nail in Clinton's coffin. She even tacitly acknowledged as much in the last debate. The only remaining question is whether she is going to accept defeat with any dignity.

The next thing we need to do is make sure that Obama has a very top-notch security force. I am going to go out on a limb here and suggest that the first African-American President of the USA might have some enemies. Its unfortunate, but its reality.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

She has been defeated.

I am calling the Democrat Primary right now - Hillary Clinton has been defeated. Barack Obama has won the Democrat Primary, and in November he will defeat* John McCain.

Recent polls have shown Hillary ahead by double digits in Ohio, and supposedly she is leading in Texas as well. However, for her to win at this point, the super-delegates would have to convene "in a smoke-filled room" and decide to pick Hillary over Obama against the wishes of the majority of Democrats. They would face open revolt if they attempted to do so. If Democrat super-delegates tried to install Hillary as the Democratic nominee, they would be handing McCain the presidency on a silver platter.

Had the situation of a couple of weeks ago persisted, with Hillary having a slight lead, the super delegates might have been able to get away with deciding the primary in Hillary's favor. They would have been able to tout the presumption that Hillary was the front runner anyways, so they had to make a tough but fair call. Now, Obama is clearly the front runner. Even a loss in Ohio and Texas won't change that.

If Hillary truly cared about the Democratic Party, she would exit gracefully and quickly to ensure the Democrats unite behind Obama against McCain. Dragging out the primary only strengthens the hand of the Republicans, who have pragmatically united around their strongest general election candidate. Alas, I think even life-long democrats have seen this election cycle that Hillary doesn't care about the Democrat party, she cares about Hillary. All thats left to see is how gracefully Hillary accepts her defeat. If history is any indication, I suspect that it will not be pretty.

Oh, and the latest numbers from Intrade? Obama - 72%, Hillary - 25%.

*Disclaimer: I could see McCain beating Obama if two things happened. First, the US economy would need to avoid recession, and be booming come election time. Second, Iraq needs to be completely pacified. If the economy is stagnant, or US soldiers are still dying in Iraq, Obama wins by a landslide.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Why can't people put two-and-two together?

McCain was dealt a firm rebuke by GOP primary voters tonight, winning only 26% of the vote in Washington and losing in a couple other states. Granted, McCain is still going to win the GOP nomination, but this shows how unhappy many Republican voters are with McCain's prospective leadership. Many Democrats realize this, and are collectively saying "Yay, now the GOP is screwed in November because Republicans are going to stay home!"

These people do not get it. They are correct in thinking Republicans will stay home if McCain's opponent is Barack Obama, but they are dead wrong if Hillary Clinton is on the ballot. In that situation, I assure you, those Republicans will not be staying home. If Hillary gets the nomination, the only people staying home would be Barack Obama's numerous disenfranchised supporters.

It is quite simple. If the Democrats want to win in November, they choose Obama. If they want to lose again, they pick Hillary. I am so not going to tolerate Democrats whining about another militaristic right-wing Republican president if they are the ones that pass up Obama.

I'll end on some good news. A week before Super Tuesday, Obama's intrade value to get the Dem nomination was 30% to HRC's 65%. The day of, it was 47%, tied w/ Hillary. As of now? 70%. She is losing. I am not 100% confident that she will lose, because I suspect she has some insidious plot up her sleeve to steal the nomination away from Obama. But it looks more likely that she will be stopped with each passing day.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

My money goes with my heart.

For the last month or so, I've played the Intrade Politics Market with only logic, not emotion. It was more fun when I got to buy McCain and Obama, of course. Other times, like after Iowa, I knew the Clinton machine just wasn't defeated yet. Selling Obama and buying Clinton was depressing, but proved to be the right financial move at the time. I correctly predicted that Obama's surge after Iowa wouldn't last. Indeed, the numbers only a couple of weeks ago had moved back to their pre-Iowa state; 30% Obama for 65% Hillary.

However, as of now I have dumped the rest of my Intrade balance into various Obama contracts. I did so because I realized something. The implications of Hillary Clinton first defeating Obama in the Democrat Primary, and then defeating McCain in the general election, would be devastating. If this happened - if Hillary became President, I would be so disheartened, so disappointed, and so jaded, that I would probably stop following politics altogether. What need would I have for Intrade at that point, anyways?

Obama is going to win. I've always believed this, but never with more conviction than now. I know he is going to beat Hillary. I know it because I also know that this is a great nation. I know that the American dream isn't dead. America can still set a positive example for the world, and lead it to a better tomorrow. Hillary represents everything that is wrong with this nation. She is the continuation of George Bush. She represents division, the status quo, the political elite, dynastism, cynicism, and regression. We have had enough.

The American people are ready, but the fight against Hillary won't be easy. Behind her is an nearly invincible political machine that will stop at nothing to see her in the white house. Truly, the Clinton Machine would rather see the Democratic Party and the nation divided and destroyed than lose the presidency. Know hope! What as of late have we learned about evil, "unstoppable" machines? Are there any lessons that we could draw from recent history, like say 2/3/2008? It takes courage and hard work, but they can be defeated. Just ask Eli Manning.


And Hillary? No, you absolutely positively may not.

Monday, January 28, 2008


I put money on the Intrade Prediction Market about a month ago. I've traded exclusively political contracts. The number above represents the return on my initial investment. A good stock broker will get a return of what, 15%? Yes, I am gloating.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

What is an ideologue?

I have my own definition. An ideologue is an intellectual coward. These are the people who join a movement, but check their free thought at the door. One of the things that I love most about this 2008 Election is that it exposes the ideologues for the group-thinkers that they are.

In the last month, we've seen Hillary Clinton turn nasty in this election. Her tactics have been despicable. As Andrew Sullivan pointed out, they've done the math and the Clintons know that if they can divide the electorate on race, gender, etc, then they'll get the nomination. They've belittled Obama's accomplishments, blatantly lied about his positions, and probably are behind malicious "anonymous" emails that claim Obama is a Jew-hating Muslim.

Couple this Karl Rove-style campaign with the fact that Obama is clearly the better candidate anyways, a person would think that many Democrat blogs would be supporting Obama or at least questioning Clinton's methods. This person would, however, be wrong.

The Daily Kos is one great example of this. It is undeniably the most prominent Democrat blog on the internet, and is probably the most influential blog on the internet. Until very recently, I had not seen one iota of criticism of Hillary. Their daily posts continued to be focused on the evils of the republicans and the failures of George Bush. As if we still need a reminder that he is an abject failure. Not only did they refrain from criticizing Hillary and Bill, they actually forbade it, with this quote:

The other night there was a recommended Diary, I think it was called "Bye". The gist was that if you didn’t fully support Senator Clinton after she wins the nomination you had to leave Daily Kos and the progressive movement.

Translation: "THERE WILL BE NO DISSENT. DO NOT DEVIATE. GET IN LINE. STAND QUIETLY - WE WILL DO YOUR THINKING FOR YOU." Its hard for me to even believe that sort of crap. Coming from a community that pretends to be full of enlightened free-thinkers? Its pathetic, and it exposes most of the Kossites for what they are - ideologues; intellectual cowards. The original post of the Kossite deviant can be found here; its a good one.

Another prominent lefty blogger, one of my favorites despite his failings, is Matthew Yglesias. Matt had, until recently, given the Clintons a pass to lie. He claimed that it didn't bother him because it was "politics", and that the Democrats will need to be seasoned in the tactics of dirty politics when they go up against the GOP in the general election. I don't buy that, not for one second. If a politician is going to lie to get elected, then they'll lie when they are in office. It certainly hasn't been acceptable to these people when Bush has lied, so why the double standard? And certainly there is a continuum scale of the severity of lies. There are distortions, which happen all of the time. And then there are blatant, outright falsities, like Bill Clinton's claim that Obama supported the war in Iraq.

At any rate, Yglesias has finally caved as of late. The hideous monster that is the Clintons has finally reared its ugly head for all to see, and it is undeniably nasty. It frustrates me that it took lefties so long to start to turn on Clinton, though. It might prove to be too little, too late. However, while it bothers me, it doesn't surprise me. I spend time on blogs that range from right to left and everywhere in between. Say what you want about the right, there is not even close to the level of group-think in conservative circles as there are in liberal circles. This phenomenon explains oddities like continued opposition to nuclear power among the left. The concerns are all bogus and the benefits overwhelming, and yet changing liberal dogma to accept nuclear energy has thus far been an impossible task. Every few months, some prominent environmentalist will brave the criticism and change sides to support nuclear power. Invariably, said person will be condemned as an apostate by the entire movement.

Its ironic that a month ago, I didn't mind Hillary Clinton. I didn't love her, but certainly didn't hate her. That all has changed. I would rather see the Patriots go undefeated for the next decade than see Hillary win this election. Fortunately, I don't think she will. I believe Obama will beat her in the primary. And even if he doesn't, John McCain will pick her off in the general election. Make no mistake, I'd rather have Obama than McCain, and I'm very confident Obama could beat McCain. But if the Democrats unwisely force the nation to pick between Hillary and McCain, we're going to have another Republican president for the next four years.