Tuesday, November 22, 2011

CNN Republican Debate 11-22-11 (Wolf Blitzer)

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Considering past disparities in candidate speaking time, Wolf Blitzer did a magnificent job in maintaining a very even hand in allowing each Republican candidate to have their fair share of speaking time. In fact, he did such a good job I was almost always able to predict who the next question would be aimed at based on looking at my spreadsheet and seeing who had been out of the loop the longest. Having tracked the talking time for each of the past debates, it is worth noting and commendation.

If a short end of the stick must be held, then it must be given to Herman Cain who only spoke for 5:31 (mm:ss), which accounts for a notch above 7%, but he did receive 10% of the talking opportunities so you could also say his short responses played a role as well as not getting into any back 'n forth with the other candidates. The crosstalk obviously cannot be held against Cain, CNN did a very diligent job of creating friction between Presidential hopefuls.

A few skirmishes broke out between the Republicans, perhaps the most notable between Dr Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich on the legality of the Patriot Act. Newt believing in sacrificing our civil liberties in order to attempt a more secure nation from terrorism, and Ron Paul advocating that our liberties should never be sacrificed for national security that cannot be guaranteed even with the erosion of our Bill of Rights.

Also of note was Michelle Bachmann headbutting with Rick Perry over the usefulness of foreign aid to Pakistan, with Rick Perry labeling Pakistan as a questionable entity with unknown intentions and Bachmann advocating foreign aid as a good use of American taxpayer money to keep an open line of communication for potential intelligence and to keep us in the good graces of a nuclear nation. Of course, lost in this dialogue was the fact that we are pitching good will to a hostile nation with nuclear capabilities, yet, see Iran as a nation to go to war with despite their lack of nuclear weapons.

While ranting against military budget cuts, Mitt Romney was refuted by Ron Paul when Paul pointed out that there are in fact no cuts on the table, that there are only reductions in the increased amount of spending. Much like saying we are spending $100 annually, and next year were planning to spend $200, but instead we will only spend $150 and labeling that $50 difference a cut, it's foolish economics that Representative Paul rightly pointed out. The only candidate truly offering cuts is Ron Paul, who wishes to reduce the deficit by one trillion dollars in his first year of Presidency.

All in all, anyone who tuned in were at least privy to a full debate where nearly all candidates were advocating war and unconstitutional laws that ignore the Bill of Rights, but the dissenting views of liberty-loving Ron Paul were given ample time to make the case for limited government and civilian respect.

Total Talk %
Gingrich 11:59 15.81%
Romney 11:29 15.15%
Perry 10:55 14.40%
Ron Paul 9:57 13.13%
Bachmann 9:16 12.23%
Huntsman 8:45 11.54%
Santorum 7:56 10.47%
Cain 5:31 7.28%
Total 1:15:48 100.00%
*Note: This is uninterrupted talking time, except for audience cheer/applause in the middle of a response as this goes against their official response time.

Turns Talking %
Romney 14 15.91%
Gingrich 14 15.91%
Perry 12 13.64%
Ron Paul 11 12.50%
Bachmann 11 12.50%
Cain 9 10.23%
Huntsman 9 10.23%
Santorum 8 9.09%
Total 88 100.00%

Avg b/w Talks Longest Wait
Santorum 10:42 15:37
Cain 8:35 17:00
Huntsman 7:27 22:43
Bachmann 6:35 15:14
Ron Paul 6:16 15:05
Gingrich 5:41 19:05
Perry 5:40 11:39
Romney 5:12 20:00

Qs R F
Perry 9 2 1
Ron Paul 8 2 1
Gingrich 8 3 3
Romney 7 5 2
Bachmann 7 3 1
Cain 7 1 1
Santorum 7 0 1
Huntsman 7 2 0
Total 60 18 10
Note: Qs = Questions; R = Responses (candidates responding to each other); F = Followups (moderator following up from the previous question)

Bonus Video: Are there any differences between the establishment parties?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

GOP Debate Statistics: Thanksgiving Family Forum Citizenlink 11-19-11

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Remarkably, when the GOP Presidential Debate deletes two candidates as well as switching from being televised to streamed online only there's a far more even balance in the distribution of talking time with each Republican in the race. Imagine that, only when it's all but guaranteed that there will not be a major audience does everyone have a voice.

Statistically, everyone spoke evenly with the exception of Rick Santorum whose numbers were inflated from a seven minute response he gave about the touching story of his daughter's difficult arrival to this world. Removing those seven minutes brings him perfectly in range of everyone else. In fact, the one person who talked the least, Herman Cain, was actually the contender with the most turns at talking so it was not from a lack of opportunity.

The roundtable open-discussion style moderated by Frank Luntz was conducted extremely well and impartially while giving anyone who wished to speak up ample opportunity and without limiting response times. Perhaps to some surprise, there did not seem to be any misuse and a high degree of respect to this process with candidates often speaking several minutes at a turn and without any cross-talk or bickering. Also of note was that there was far more time spent listening to the candidates than to the moderator, where this roughly two hour event managed to use nearly all of the time actually listening to the candidates for an hour and 45 minutes. Most of the televised debates end up using only a little over half the allotment in actual responses.

I'm sure adding in Jon Huntsman and Mitt Romney will leave less time on the table for everyone, but hopefully the moderators will take notice of how you can let everyone have tons of time to address a subject allowing for a full civil and varied discussion about the GOP candidates.

Topically, the event surrounded the family and morality, which frequently turned into which candidate could out-Christian the others. The format was a fantastic change of direction, but it is anyone's guess if this brings any clarity to voters, though my gut instinct is that this was a very relevant and helpful discussion to the conservative Iowans that it was aimed towards.

GOP Debate Statistics:

Total Talk %
Santorum 23:54 23.39%
Gingrich 17:29 17.11%
Ron Paul 16:43 16.36%
Bachmann 16:07 15.77%
Perry 15:31 15.19%
Cain 12:26 12.17%
Total 1:42:10 100.00%

Turns Talking %
Cain 16 21.05%
Santorum 14 18.42%
Ron Paul 12 15.79%
Bachmann 12 15.79%
Perry 11 14.47%
Gingrich 11 14.47%
Total 76 100.00%

Avg b/w Talks (Longest Wait)
Perry 9:03 23:37
Ron Paul 8:29 16:40
Bachmann 7:52 22:36
Gingrich 7:41 20:06
Santorum 7:35 14:05
Cain 6:56 25:19

Qs Responses Follow-ups
Cain 12 0 4
Gingrich 11 0 0
Ron Paul 10 0 2
Bachmann 10 0 2
Santorum 10 0 4
Perry 9 0 2
Total 62 0 14

Sunday, November 13, 2011

CBS News GOP Debate 11-12-11 Statistics

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Saying Ron Paul was ignored in the CBS News National Journal debate on foreign policy is like saying the maiden voyage of the Titanic didn't go so well. It's an understatement. Speaking for a total of 87 seconds, out of the 34:44 of total time allotted to candidates, Dr Paul only had two turns to talk during the first hour of the debate. The first hour of this debate was the only televised time, the last half hour was only shown on the internet. If the average American used the internet to actually research their candidates then the debates would not be necessary in the first place. That is to say that the only time that really mattered was the televised time, because Majority America seems to need their election information handed to them sandwiched between Clean Coal commercials.

Newt Gingrich and Michele Bachmann each received twice the amount of speaking time as Congressman Paul while, mysteriously, Rick Santorum and Jon Hunstman chewed up even more time than them despite their disastrous positions in the polls. Who had the most floor time? Resurrected from the dead, Rick Perry spoke for 6:53 of the on-air time, followed by Herman Cain (6:19) and Mitt Romney (5:52).

Lest you think Representative Ron Paul is unqualified or unworthy of a foreign policy debate, campaign spokesman Jesse Benton quickly pointed out that Ron Paul is one of only two candidates on the stage who actually served in the military, Ron Paul has more donations from the active military than all of the candidates combined, he consistently registers third place in the polls with support in the double digits, and Dr Paul serves on the House Foreign Relations Committee.

Considering Ron Paul also has severely dissenting views on foreign policy from the rest of the candidates, advancing a non-interventionist position, the debate he brings to the floor is also substantial in terms of diversifying the field and would balance out the calls for war and torture. This debate honestly could have been run with the Texas Doctor on one side, telling the field why he disagrees with their positions of a nation-building empire of mass destruction.

Save Jon Huntsman, no one but Paul seems to desire defining water-boarding as torture. The discussion about that subject alone, in my view, warrants a full half hour at the least to dive into the depths that result in the use of torture. Such as the dehumanization of the torturer, that it's a recruiting tool for terrorists and allows them to further paint us as the enemy rather than an ally, is it effective, what is the precedence that we can glean from historic uses of torture, what are the implications on our civil liberties...there are many more things to consider than the two or three minutes it was given.

While this persistent failure to deliver a well-rounded debate continues, America is losing an important voice. I honestly don't think that this is because Ron Paul isn't liked, or even that his views are so fringe, but I honestly think this is age discrimination. Ron Paul isn't a sexy candidate. He's old, he doesn't always have his words together, his suits never fit quite right, he doesn't have a chiseled jaw or manicured haircut and he isn't worldly by mainstream media conventions.

No, his problem is that he's experienced. While he was racking up birthdays he managed to use his time on Earth to gain wisdom. No other candidate can refer to the Great Depression, or Vietnam, or the Korean War with any authority. The man has lived a full life and has learned from it.

He sometimes struggles to find the right word. Sure he does, because he has an entire vocabulary that requires choosing the best one. While he does have a repeated theme of liberty, he doesn't prepare his responses because he has already thought through all the issues. He has the philosophy inside his head, it requires real life thinking. The other candidates are either responding to how a question is phrased so as to "give the right answer", or are repeating rehearsed statements. We see how well they always remember their script, right Rick Perry?

His clothes will only show up on GQ as fashion don'ts. Imagine that. A candidate who preaches fiscal responsibility and actually lives it. Bloody amazing. Ron Paul gives back a portion of his congressional budget every year because he runs a lean ship. He's more concerned about the economy and current events than he is about trying to look and sound like a walking cliche.

As a lifelong San Antonio Spurs fan I'm well acquainted with having the very thing the media pretends to long for: a well-behaved team who performs night in and night out. No drama, no showboating. Just a flawless execution of the fundamentals. Ron Paul doesn't run his mouth carelessly to make a headline, he's evenhanded in the most irritating moments with the issues he has been fighting for for over half of his life. No one wants to spend time with someone they think is boring, no matter how fantastic the followers know it is.

No, the media doesn't marginalize Ron Paul mainly because of the substance that he brings to the table. His personality isn't fun, he's older. Sure, he reminds everyone that the real cure for America has been politely tapping them on the shoulder for the last four decades, an embarrassment to be sure. Rand Paul will not have these same problems, he'll receive vitriol without a doubt, but not a lack of coverage and adoration, because he's young, new. This is about reality TV, and Ron Paul is simply packed too full of substance, this is not what makes good television, you need to be full of something else.

Random Thoughts:
  • I find it odd that Herman Cain finds it impossible to say what he would do in *any* foreign policy scenario without having consulted with the ground commanders to get all the facts, yet, he has no problem saying that Barack Obama is doing the job wrong even though he has access to the very people that would guide Cain's decisions. Maybe, just maybe, Cain's ignorance extends to foreign policy and he couldn't point out England on a map.
  • Rick Perry's final comment about the French having a strong economy reveals his deep lack of global economic comprehension since many economists are predicting France to be next the next Euro crisis (link).
  • Empire of Mass Destruction. EMD. I like that label, considering the cultures and lives we have destroyed, I think it's fitting until we change our foreign policy.
  • Will the next debate finally learn from this process, or does the news media enjoy fueling the flames of conspiracy.

Stats on each candidate's speaking time for the televised first hour:

Total Talk %
Perry 6:53 19.82%
Cain 6:19 18.19%
Romney 5:52 16.89%
Santorum 4:46 13.72%
Huntsman 3:22 9.69%
Bachmann 3:03 8.78%
Gingrich 3:02 8.73%
Ron Paul 1:27 4.17%
Total 34:44 100.00%
*Note: This is uninterrupted talking time, except for audience cheer/applause in the middle of a response as this goes against their official response time.

Turns Talking %
Cain 10 24.39%
Perry 7 17.07%
Romney 6 14.63%
Santorum 5 12.20%
Gingrich 4 9.76%
Huntsman 4 9.76%
Bachmann 3 7.32%
Ron Paul 2 4.88%
Total 41 100.00%

Avg b/w Talks Longest Wait
Cain 4:41 11:20
Perry 5:34 7:21
Gingrich 6:02 7:33
Santorum 6:10 9:48
Romney 6:43 15:28
Bachmann 7:36 8:28
Huntsman 10:06 15:31
Ron Paul 12:35 20:40

Qs Responses Follow-ups
Cain 6 0 4
Perry 5 0 2
Romney 4 0 2
Bachmann 3 0 0
Gingrich 3 0 1
Santorum 3 0 2
Huntsman 3 0 1
Ron Paul

Stats on Entire 90 Minute Debate:

Total Talk %
Romney 9:02 16.15%
Cain 8:57 16.00%
Perry 8:20 14.89%
Santorum 7:03 12.60%
Bachmann 6:28 11.56%
Gingrich 6:07 10.93%
Huntsman 6:06 10.90%
Ron Paul 3:54 6.97%
Total 55:57 100.00%
*Note: This is uninterrupted talking time, except for audience cheer/applause in the middle of a response as this goes against their official response time.

Turns Talking %
Cain 14 21.21%
Romney 10 15.15%
Perry 9 13.64%
Santorum 8 12.12%
Bachmann 7 10.61%
Gingrich 7 10.61%
Huntsman 6 9.09%
Ron Paul 5 7.58%
Total 66 100.00%

Avg b/w Talks Longest Wait
Huntsman 9:53 15:31
Santorum 9:20 16:45
Ron Paul 8:08 20:40
Gingrich 8:01 15:59
Bachmann 7:14 8:53
Perry 6:48 12:16
Romney 6:12 15:28
Cain 5:16 11:20

Qs Responses Follow-ups
Cain 9 0 5
Perry 7 0 2
Romney 7 0 3
Bachmann 6 0 1
Gingrich 6 0 1
Santorum 5 0 3
Huntsman 5 0 1
Ron Paul 4 1 0
Total 49 1 16

Friday, November 11, 2011

President Bush & Obama. Two Faces of the Same Coin.

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It's incredible how some Republicans consider Obama as the worst President in history. Not that it may be true, it could be, I somehow doubt they've studied all the Presidents we've had enough to have an informed opinion. No, it's surprising because there is remarkably little difference in Obama's policies and former President George W. Bush. Frankly, they're nearly indecipherable.

They both supported bailouts. Bush passed TARP shortly before leaving office, and Obama passed his own stimulus package shortly after arriving. Obama passed a huge regulations bill, Dodd-Frank, while Bush passed Sarbanes-Oxley. Bush even passed his own healthcare reform (link) that at the time was the largest expansion since 1965, costing some $400 Billion. Yes, Obama's was bigger and badder, but it wasn't without Republican precedent.

It's difficult to understand how easily conservatives sling mud at Obama while defending Bush. However, the exact same can be said of Obama supporters.

The cries were loud when Bush was self-declaring war and pushing through legislation that undermined civil liberties. Yet, Obama has mirrored the same policies and philosophies. Obama signed the Patriot Act, if you consider using a mechanical pen to be legal, which authorizes a plethora of Constitution-violating exceptions for authorities to spy on our citizens. Remember when we used to wonder how other countries allowed such a vile abuse of authority? (link)

Obama sent bombs to Libya, which is an act of war under even the lowest standards, without any congressional oversight and with no imminent threat to our national security. When it comes to drone bombings, our current President may be more prolific than the last with the rise in drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen (link). Hardly worthy of any Peace Prize.

Obama was supposed to regain our civil liberties. With the TSA pat-downs I think it's a hard case to make that he has any intention of handing anything back that Bush's foot snuck into (hint: Bush created the TSA).

Bush is often cited as a friend of big business, but if you look at the contributions you can easily see Obama shares some of these friends, including Morgan Stanley and JP Morgan, among others (link).

President Bush and President Obama are not frugal in their spending either. Bush put us trillions more in debt, and Obama has followed suit. I cannot figure out any logical reason why Bush lovers loathe Obama, and vice versa. I would think they would either jump on board both Presidents or cast vitriol on both, but picking one or the other and pretending there is any difference in policies is absurd at best. Partisan politics at worst.

Perhaps we can stop analyzing along party lines and just admit both sides facilitate the same path of destruction? Let us look at politicians as individuals, regardless of how we, or they, label themselves. They are individuals, and should not get to hide behind collectivist positioning.

Vote the Individual. Not the Party.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

CNBC Debate 11/9/2011 Stats on Candidate Talking Time

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Tracking the speaking time of each candidate these past 6 debates has taught me nothing if not that Mitt Romney will get a nice chunk of time to pontificate. Mitt spoke for 14:47 (mm:ss), good enough for almost 22% of all candidate talking time, the next closest GOP candidate was Newt Gingrich who spoke for 9:10, which is five and a half minutes less.

Rick Perry will clearly be the headline grabber this go 'round with his slipping memory. Honestly, I'm beginning to feel bad for him at this point. Not only has he gone from getting 14 or 15 minutes to talk, but now he doesn't know how to fill the time he does get, which was 7:25.

Statistically speaking, Rick Santorum was at the short end of the stick, getting only 5:25 of the total 1:07:21, but also waiting the longest on average between turns at 12:23. He also had the fewest turns talking at four, and didn't speak the last 24 minutes, including the entire last segment, of the debate.

Is it time, yet, to kill off one or two candidates from these debates? I'd like to nominate Santorum and Jon Huntsman. Both trailing in the polls, in money and in organization. Gingrich and Bachmann fit those categories fairly well also, but Bachmann has at least shown the possibility of doing well, and Newt has shown a small surge in some polls, even though neither has any money or organized ground game in all the early states.

Note: I'll be traveling next week and will be dramatically late with releasing the stats for Tuesday's debate, but I expect to have it posted by that Friday evening. I will also be posting my first video soon which will go on my YouTube channel here, feel free to subscribe to get it first.

Here's the stats:

Total Talk %
Romney 0:14:47 21.95%
Gingrich 0:09:10 13.61%
Cain 0:08:23 12.45%
Huntsman 0:07:54 11.73%
Ron Paul 0:07:27 11.06%
Perry 0:07:25 11.01%
Bachmann 0:06:50 10.15%
Santorum 0:05:25 8.04%
Total 1:07:21 100.00%
*Note: This is uninterrupted talking time, except for audience cheer/applause in the middle of a response as this goes against their official response time.

Turns Talking %
Romney 18 22.22%
Cain 13 16.05%
Perry 11 13.58%
Gingrich 11 13.58%
Ron Paul 9 11.11%
Huntsman 9 11.11%
Bachmann 6 7.41%
Santorum 4 4.94%
Total 81 100.00%

Avg b/w Talks Longest Wait
Santorum 0:12:23 0:24:08
Huntsman 0:10:49 0:17:55
Bachmann 0:10:38 0:15:17
Ron Paul 0:09:59 0:17:37
Perry 0:08:24 0:10:33
Cain 0:08:07 0:11:39
Gingrich 0:07:02 0:10:58
Romney 0:04:00 0:08:49

Qs Responses Follow-ups
Romney 10 2 6
Gingrich 8 0 3
Cain 8 0 5
Perry 7 0 4
Bachmann 6 0 0
Huntsman 6 0 3
Ron Paul 5 1 3
Santorum 4 0 0
Total 54 3 24
*Note: Followups are moderators asking for another response directly after a question. Responses are candidates responding to each other.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Republican Economic Plans: Splurge or Purge?

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An overweight man was approached by two men with two different ways to get his weight under control. The first man stated the obvious, "You need to stop eating all of that junk food, and overall cut back on calories."

The second man frowned and said, "No. Any reduction in calories could kill you. What you really need is to eat more. It'll raise your metabolism and burn more calories than you take in. Then, later on you can reduce your calories responsibly."

Now, approached with the options to cut back or consume more, which path do you think the already obese man will prefer? He got to where he is by over-consumption, so when he hears the (idiotic) idea that he can work his way out the same way he got there it is destined to be the greatest idea since (buttered) sliced bread.

In a nutshell, that's our political system. Those are the options. In the GOP Presidential contest there are two types of candidates. Those who say we need to cut the junk out now, to prevent the forthcoming heart attack, and those who say let's switch pudding for yogurt and kick the can down the road to the next guy. There are far more in the latter category than in the former.

If you listen to Herman Cain, he is all about fiscal responsibility, but there is nothing he actually wants to cut out. If politics were football, Herman Cain would be a safety with all of his backpedaling and turning around just trying to figure out where the issues are going to land.

Cain has no intention of getting the fiscal house in order. None. He has a tax plan that produces another foothold for taxation, and he is already quickly turning his simple flat plan into a plan with exceptions. I admit, he is trying to do what is right by giving lower income earners an out, but he has revealed that the plan is open to fiddling, and how long will it be before he starts creating loopholes for his business buddies? Even if he left it as-is, what he has proposed is something few Americans will vote for, because it is too easy to demagogue, and rightly so.

I think most Americans do not like paying taxes. The reason is simple: people believe they are better at spending their own money than the government is at spending their money. When I spend my money I know it is being spent on my local businesses, it helps my community. I can pay back my debts that were lent by local banks. When government spends my money it goes to dictators, bailing out Wall Street bigwigs and every rare once in a while it actually finds a way to do something good for someone. I think those good things would be done more efficiently by letting me do it myself, if I so choose.

I know that I volunteer at soup kitchens, foster kid's homes and donate to charities, among other charitable occasions like disaster relief. Letting me keep my money gives me more resources to pour out to businesses and charities, or simply getting out of debt. (For the record, I'm debt-free. It took a year, lots of OT, odd jobs and clinical research trials, but I'm not radioactive...to my knowledge.)

There are Rick Perries, Mitt Romneys and Herman Cains out there who speak of having "serious, adult conversations about the issues", and they say it incessantly as if the mere recognition that it is needed is evidence of their commitment to see it done. Perry as governor of Texas, my state, has overseen the state double in debt during his term (link). Mitt Romney claims to be the businessman's best friend yet he raised fees and fines to produce half a billion in new revenues (link). That may not be a literal tax, but to the governed it looks the same.

There are those who say we should grow our way out of the deficits rather than diet. Vote for a heart attack if you like, but what about those sane candidates who want to cut back?

Ron Paul, bold by any measure, has put out a plan to cut a Trillion in spending during his first year in office (link). Showing exactly what he would cut, such as militarism and five cabinets, he also manages to slice taxes to leave more money for businesses to be more competitive. Despite the tax cuts his "Plan to Restore America" is still able to show a balanced budget by the third year of his Presidency while finding a way to make Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid viable.

Gary Johnson is the other candidate with a record that proves his fiscal sanity. He is on record as saying he will veto any unbalanced budget, and lays out his plan to slash taxes and reduce government intervention in the economy (link). As governor of New Mexico he balanced the budget while reducing spending and taxes, so his track record shows he is capable of following through on his promises.

Herman Cain thinks this is too bold. But hey, he's a pizza guy, he made a living getting the overweight to pig out.