Monday, November 5, 2012

Five Reasons Your Candidate is an A**hole.

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Note: This is partly written to be glib and fun in order to bring a small amount of levity, so if the cursing offends you then I do sincerely apologize, that's just my sense of humor and I feel it's useful to get me through such moments.

It's that time of year when people abandon their principles -- if indeed they ever have them -- to demagogue the "greater of two evils". In a feeble attempt to show people that their party's elected representative for POTUS is actually a rather extraordinary d-bag I'm making my objective list of five reasons they are not the second coming their Facebook Someecards claim. I'm objective because I hate them both, which one could also claim makes me unobjective, so in order to show my objectivity and dedication to my principles I will also slam my own political god, Ron Paul.

I'll start with the incumbent since he's already demonstrated his hypocrisy with his position of power while the challenger's record with his promises remains slightly more projected.

Five Reasons President Obama is a Giant A**hole:

1. He has a kill list. Nothing on this list will top a Nobel Peace Prize winner having a kill list. Luckily, our faithful commander will not say who is on it or what evidence they have that justifies having it. Sweet. I'm glad he's establishing for future Presidents down the line that they can kill whoever they like. I, am, stoked.

2. He kills his own citizens without trials. Believe it or not, you're not allowed to do this at your own whimsy even if you are the "leader of the free world". This is a continuation of the kill list mentioned above, but deserves its own bullet not just because he killed an American -- Awlaki -- in a non-war-zone without trial or producing evidence, but because he also separately killed Awlaki's 16 year-old son. (link) That's pretty damn disgusting. But y'know, he quit torturing people, yay.

3. Takes credit for ending the Iraq war. He actually tried to extend it (link), but the Iraqis had no desire to have any troops there anymore and wanted the deal signed with George W. Bush in 2008 to be honored which would have troops out by end of year 2011. If he wanted legitimate credit for ending it then he should have followed his campaign promise to do so by the end of 2010, which he obviously didn't, or he could have ended the other pointless war in Afghanistan, which he hasn't.

There's so so so many foreign policy issues that I'd love to insert, like radically increasing the amount of drone strikes and not closing GTMO, but I'll move on to domestic grievances...

4. Escalated raids on Medical Marijuana. He promised he wouldn't use the justice department to go after state sanctioned medical marijuana usage (link), yet he has (link).

5. Signed the NDAA & The Patriot Act. The Patriot Act was originally signed by Bush in 2001, which granted some disgusting powers of warrantless wiretapping and broad arrest capabilities (link). The National Defense Authorization Act builds on the Patriot Act and allows for the indefinite detention of American citizens, without trial or evidence (link). I've only lightly touched on how vile these laws are. The thing is that he said he wouldn't re-sign the Patriot Act without revising it (link), and flat out said he wouldn't sign the NDAA with the indefinite detention clause attached (link).

All these brief things considered, you'll have a hard time convincing me President Obama is still the lesser of these two evils, and *I* originally voted for him. Will not happen twice.

Five Reasons Former Governor Romney is a Giant A**hole:

1. He's a Mormon. Oh snap, no I didn't! Oh, yes I did. I honestly don't really care about anyone's religious beliefs, but if you're a Scientologist or a Mormon it's going to be hard for me to respect you because you really have to not care about facts or evidence a whole damn lot. Like, a LOT. In the grand scheme of religions these were basically invented yesterday and aren't hard to fact-check. I can understand a brief phase even, you get sucked in for a year or two before realizing that it's utterly ridiculous, but Mitt has been a Latter Day Saint since at least 1977, if not his entire life. To continue so long I'm thinking he's either unintelligent, corrupt (or addicted to whatever perks come with being an affluent member) or a coward.

I also find it disgusting that Billy Graham removed Mormonism from his list of cults, that makes him a Giant A**hole as well. Lacking conviction at best, but probably the asshole thing. Of course, most devout Christians are doing the same thing, which I would ordinarily find quite encouraging if it weren't for the disproportionate vindictiveness against Islam. Somehow, I find it easy to imagine that if President Obama were a Mormon that this would be issue #1. Hard to find proof of this since it's hypothetical, but the principled outcry over Clinton's sexual escapades were rather quiet once Newt Gingrich became a serious candidate, so I think the precedent is out there.

2. He says whatever you want to hear. I could've wasted the rest of my bullet points listing various flip floppings, but let's just own up to this right now. If John Kerry was ridiculed by Republicans for flip flopping then Mitt Romney is like the god of a planet filled with flip floppers. Pretty much anyone can say that they believe Mitt is going to do whatever's in their interest once he's in office, because he has said his stance on anything is everything! I'm all for a candidate being allowed to change their stance, but if you objectively look at the convenience factor then I think you have to say that Mitt said whatever it took to become Governor and now he's doing it again to become President. I could list these out, but if you don't already know them by heart then you may be part of the problem, however, here's a quick video for the amnesiacs:

3. Does not support Medical Marijuana. To ironically contradict my last point (not actually, as he's still pitching to his base with this stance but who knows what he really believes), this happened:

I find it strange that synthetic marijuana is okay, along with morphine and tons of other unnatural drugs -- but weed is of the devil.

4. Romneycare. It happened, you don't get to pretend it didn't. He paved the road for the much (rightly) maligned Affordable Care Act, aka "Obamacare", luckily he also gets to demonize it! But don't worry, he's going to do whatever you think he's going to do with the power of his Presidency.

5. He likes Obama's foreign policy, but wants to go further. Considering President Obama's policy is really an extension of Bush's, this is scary. I know this isn't really a downer to Mitt's voter base, but it's a little gross how flippant a partial pro-lifer can be about others' lives. I'm not saying we need to be responsible for everyone's life on the planet (quite the contrary really), but I don't think we should be so gung-ho about taking it either. When I say "he likes Obama's foreign policy", I mean that he approves of the increased use of drone strikes, the assassination of Awlaki and his son, the kill list and the like. He does disagree on how lenient the President has been on Iran though, if you can call crippling sanctions the hand of a softhearted guy.

Before you think I went light on Romney, understand that he's in agreement with Obama on #1, 2, 4 and 5, so I'm really just building on top of all that.

Now to be polite, I'll list a reason I like each candidate in all sincerity. President Obama removed "Don't Ask Don't Tell", I give him major kudos for that. Mitt Romney has a large family and I'm willing to bet he deeply loves his wife and kids which I think is awesome. Yes, I struggled finding a reason to like Mitt.

Okay, to prove I can be objective about the people I adore and celebrate, I present the two biggest things I don't like about Ron Paul:

1. The newsletters. My take is probably a little different from most in that I don't believe he wrote them, having read several of his books and hundreds of his articles I find them wildly out of his use of language and very precise & consistent ideology. However, my problem is that he lied about them. When they first came to light in the 90s he said they were taken out of context, but during the 2008 Presidential campaign he disavowed them as someone else's writings. He lied then or now, either of which I don't really like nor respect. He stated the reason he initially didn't disavow them was from the advice of his campaign manager, while I can understand the reasoning it doesn't mean I excuse the behavior/lie and it's discomforting to think of my hero as someone who could lie so publicly about something like that.

I also have mixed feelings on him not revealing who the real writer was. As someone with a very large reputation of running a tight ship and giving back tons of unused Congressional money every year I find it hard to believe he would have any trouble finding out who it was. On the other hand, I find it rather endearing and incredibly gracious to not out this person out of political expediency. A rarity in politics I would think. So, there's still silver lining. Plus, there's the story that he gained a track scholarship out of high school, but after busting up his knee and feeling like a shadow of his former self he gave the scholarship back despite protests from the school. He didn't think it would be right to take it.

2. He proposed an unbalanced budget. I'm sure many will say I'm splitting hairs, but these are the facts. Ron Paul has voted against every unbalanced budget, every time. Yet, his proposal for his first budget still included a $313mm deficit in year one, and would be balanced by year three. I even wrote about it during his own campaign, rather than holding my tongue until the campaign was over (link). Don't misunderstand me, I'd sure as heck take his budget over anyone else's, I just didn't care for his slight double-sided take. To be clear, I recognize that he has no trouble proposing it because unlike others he would actually follow his own plan, but that doesn't mean he shouldn't have just figured out how to cut the rest on year one to live up to his own standards.

I'm sure I've managed to offend someone in some way, if not everyone who reads this (assuming anyone does, but my stats say I do have readers oddly enough), so feel free to email me or hit the comments to flame me, it's only fair. Oh, and to be clear, I'm voting for Gary Johnson on Tuesday.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Ron Paul and the Spurs Paradox

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Two things happened yesterday that allow me to merge two of my greatest loves, Ron Paul and the San Antonio Spurs. The first was the Texas Primary, where Doctor Paul was trounced by Mitt Romney by a margin not even worth mentioning. The second was the NBA playoffs where the Spurs trounced the Oklahoma City Thunder by a margin of nine points in the Western Conference Finals (the series that determines who plays for the championship). The political outcast has more in common with the elite club in San Antonio than the state of Texas itself.

"Crooked as a politician" is an unfortunate idiom, isn't it? In an ideal world wouldn't the people who set the laws, policies and oversaw our finances have a reputation for honesty and forthrightness? Isn't that what we want, someone we can trust to do the right thing with the power we give them? I'm not saying Mitt Romney is evil, but based on the way he thinks we should treat other countries and people he's far from a good guy.

I can understand someone not necessarily agreeing with Ron Paul's policies -- even if I think they're the most sane and evenkeel'd approach to just about everything -- because at the end of the day we all can't agree on exactly the same thing. What kills me is character and competence generally seem to be the utmost important qualities to have in a leader of the free world. Yet, the gentleman who seemingly possesses the most of these two traits with a high degree of character and perhaps the most studious politician we will ever come across (who actually made this whole "obey the constitution" idea popular again) is not only ignored, but mocked.

The Spurs can relate. In an age of prima donas, where pundits moan over the uncoachable athletes who do inexcusable things in their personal lives or on the field of play, they yearn for athletes to "do things the right way", but prove that good behavior is not rewarded. Bad news sells, and apparently that extends to the sports arena. The Spurs are the winningest franchise in not just the NBA but in all of sports over the Tim Duncan era, yet they're mocked as "boring" and "unwatchable" by the lay fan. Not that any of them actually watch them play, but resorting to those pesky labels are far easier when others have agreed to the terms.

The Spurs win "the right way", they play together, unselfishly, with precision, intelligence, and physicality. They're gritty and excel in crunch time.

Ron Paul predicts market crashes, wars and abuses of power. He runs a tight congressional office, takes nothing from lobbyists -- not even a meeting, and has experience as a doctor & military veteran.

Where's the rub?

It's difficult to boil it down to just one thing, but outside of the bulk of the excuses of marketability, age and style, I think the reality comes down to something far simpler. People are liars. They lie to their friends and to themselves. Changing their stance requires not only taking the time to learn/watch/listen, but to accept the possibility of being mistaken. It requires humility. You know, that thing we want everyone else to possess.

The thing we want is right in front of us all too often. The good guys doing it the right way, but like abused housewives we're addicted to the drama. Hopefully, the good guys will be there when we're finished being battered.

You can have your corrupt politicians who win, and your spoiled superstar jerks who lose. I'll sleep just fine tonight. The Spurs' fight is almost over, the other fight has only begun.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Rebuttal to John Hawkins on Gay Marriage

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Recently, John Hawkins wrote a piece giving "Five Reasons to Oppose Gay Marriage", where he gave -- surprise -- five reasons why he thinks gay marriage should remain against the law. Point by point.

1. "Gay marriage is incompatible with Christianity (and for that matter, Islam & Judaism)."

He goes on to note that what you feel doesn't make you evil or bad, and that tormenting and bullying anyone because of their sexual orientation is un-Christian. All of which I would have to agree with. I haven't found any real biblical evidence that gay marriage is compatible with Christianity, and neither is any hatred or gay bashing.

Something I find odd though is how divorce has little compatibility with Christianity as well, yet, the church has no problem endorsing countless second, third, fourth and fifth+ marriages. If there were to be some level of evenhandedness I would expect there to be the same level of outrage of adultery going on in the Christian community, since that is exactly what Jesus said divorce is according to Matthew 5:32, Mark 10:11-12 & Luke 16:18, with the lone exception being divorce for reasons of sexual immorality.

So, when shall we see Prop 9 banning divorce?

2. "Gay marriage will end up infringing on religious freedom."

This one is perhaps the most confusing. Marrying who we choose is a religious freedom, but creating a law that says otherwise flies against the 1st Amendment. It should be obvious our rights have already been violated by outlawing marriage of any kind (we'll get to the gray area this creates later). Banning gay marriage from all institutions doesn't jibe with the mission of retaining religious freedom. It can't. Particularly when government becomes the sole arbiter for what constitutes a valid marriage.

Once government can grant special privilege to one class of people but not to another, then you have crossed into inequality which is unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment:

"No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

Now, I do agree that the road we're on can lead to some religious persecution by forcing churches to marry people they otherwise wouldn't want to marry: homosexuals. However, that is the precedence being set by the religious sector fighting so hard to prevent equal rights. When you use the law as your own personal sword, what are you expecting when that sword is taken from you?

One of my favorite quotes is from Thomas Paine, "He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself."

Therefore, it is prudent to cease the attack and promote equality under the law. To be clear, I'm also not in favor of laws that give extrajudicial punishment to "hate" crimes. Someone assaulting a black man is no more egregious than assaulting me (a white man). The reasons behind the assault may be, but the assault itself should be what the punishment is based on, not necessarily on the reasoning of the attack. Otherwise the signal is that one set of people are more protected than another, and that too, is inequality.

3. "Civil unions could confer every "right" that marriage does."

Perhaps Civil Union advocates would be okay if we still segregated society? "Separate but equal", right? Other than having actual equality rather than the next best thing, the use of labels here is rather Orwellian and somewhat dehumanizing.

Reserving the power of a word for those we find acceptable to use it, it's telling those we disagree with that they're not worthy of having what they want, and we will use force to ensure that you never get it. Force is what the law is, otherwise law has no power. Using it over religious differences should be unacceptable to every American, no matter how vehement the disagreement.

Mr Hawkins goes on to say, "let's be clear: there are actually no 'rights' whatsoever at stake in the push for gay's as much about dragging everyone else down as it is about raising everyone up." I'll forego all the pejoratives that may seem appropriate here, and try to address the facts.

There are a lot of laws on the books for marriage, not just for states but also federally. State's granting civil unions would not make these unions available for federal equality in such things as taxes, hospital privileges, health benefits, and possibly even things as simple as not being forced to testify against your spouse.

Now, I'm sure there's plenty of ways to correct all of these things in the books, but that's an awful lot of trouble to preserve a definition of something that government shouldn't be defining in the first place. Marriage is -- historically -- a religious institution, and I think all of these problems are solved by removing government jurisdiction over it and allowing churches to marry whomever they please. Restoring the 1st Amendment along with tolerance for our neighbors would go a long way in solving the issue.

4. "Gay marriage may be where it starts, but it wouldn't be where it ends."

In all honesty, John is probably right. There likely would be people wanting to marry their turtle or the tree in their backyard. So what? Do you seriously think this would happen on such a large scale that people no longer procreate? There is a stigma to being married to inanimate objects, so this wouldn't catch on like SARS. People can already bequeath their fortunes to animals so I'm not sure how much stranger our country can really get.

John is also concerned that brother will wed sister, adults will marry children, and so forth. I suppose John doesn't think these sorts of acts aren't already happening...hey, it was good enough for Adam & Eve's kids. What, no room for humor here?

At the end of the day one's marriage should be about one's own marriage. Your neighbor's vows have absolutely no bearing on your own, lest you condemn half of all marriages, in which cases we usually exercise some empathy, because who knows what our own future holds?

5. "Marriage already has enough problems as it is without gay marriage."

As a single man, I know nothing about how difficult marriage is. However, as a man who has watched his family go through countless divorces -- I literally cannot count how many divorces I've seen in my immediate family -- I do know that coming together is easier than staying together. I seriously doubt if it's any different for same sex couples, but that has much more to do with modern relationships than it does with the definition of marriage.

No matter what you call it, people will remain people, and there should be no reason to restrict privileges to each other short of violating each other's property. It's time for a new step in tolerance, one that says I don't agree with your lifestyle, but I'm not going to punish you for it. If steps aren't taken now to ensure an equal standing, the blowback that comes later will only hurt the cause of individual liberty by further using the law to push the agenda of whomever can gain the upper hand.

I think one solution is to remove government jurisdiction on marriage, allowing it to become a strictly religious institution. All legal protection should come in the form of contractual agreements with your xyz (insurance, will, bank, etc). There would have to be adjustments, but it would affect us all equally. The wrong move is to allow the federal government to decide these matters as it only gives permission to our already powerful central state to further invade our lives. That, is the last thing our country needs.

Here's to hoping for open minds.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

CNN Arizona Debate 2-22-12 (John King)

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Another day another debate. However, the CNN debate hosted in Arizona is the last prior to Super Tuesday, and could conceivably be the last one. I somehow doubt it, but it's conceivable.

Senator Rick Santorum received over 31% of the overall candidate speaking time with 24:57 (mm:ss) with Mitt Romney coming in behind just shy of 22 minutes. It should therefore come as no surprise that they both spoke the most often with 21 and 22 talking turns respectively, while Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich both spoke 15 turns each. The gap in turns can largely be found in the back and forth between Governor Romney and Santorum.

Total Talk %
Santorum 24:57 31.60%
Romney 21:49 27.64%
Gingrich 16:46 21.25%
Ron Paul 15:24 19.51%
Total 1:18:57 100.00%
*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 %
Romney 22 30.14%
Santorum 21 28.77%
Ron Paul 15 20.55%
Gingrich 15 20.55%
Total 73 100.00%

Avg b/w Talks Longest Wait
Santorum 2:34 6:50
Romney 2:38 7:06
Gingrich 3:57 9:57
Ron Paul 4:18 9:14

Qs Responses Follow-ups
Romney 14 7 1
Gingrich 14 1 0
Ron Paul 12 3 0
Santorum 12 9 0
Total 52 20 1
Note: Qs = Questions; Responses (candidates responding to each other); Followups (moderator following up from the previous question)

Friday, February 3, 2012

I Am Ron Paul

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I thought the latest video warranted some notes on why some things are the way they are. For one, I shot the people who showed up. I put out calls to local Ron Paul activist groups and to my personal friends as well, of the potentially hundreds of people who could've shown up only six people did (other than me and my co-producer Todd Sapio).

It would've been nice -- and we wanted -- to have all flavors of the movement represented, the young, the old, the families, the minorities, etc etc. However, can't shoot them if they don't show up and for this one I wasn't particularly interested in meeting any quotas. It's not that I don't think it's important, but I was more interested in shooting the video than in affirmative action. I'm big on reality, and the reality is those are the beautiful and wonderful people who showed up on a lazy Sunday afternoon to give me their time and I wasn't going to send a message that I cared more about their demographic makeup than their willing participation.

I also did not tell them how to dress. As long as no logos were involved I didn't care at all. I'm a fan of reality and this was not shot for payment so I'd prefer to let people be comfortable on camera, I think they have that right to represent themselves however they wish when donating their time and image. For the record, I thought everyone looked good and have no issue with any of the attire, they look good!

I'm sure it did not escape notice that there was a heavy bit of branding on the video, certainly not an accident. My previous video "Choose Stigma. Rebel." was reuploaded many times to others' channels, and while I was flattered that so many people liked the content enough to want to spread it, I was also put off by not getting the benefits of creating said video. So, to try and counteract that I decided to leave little room for doubt on where this production originated and built the titles into the presentation more heavily than before. Sorry if some don't care for it, but it's hard for the little guy to make an impact if no one even knows it's your work they're seeing.

Also, those aren't "devil horns" or "evil signs" at the end. At worst it should be taken as "rock on", as in "Rock the Revolution", and at best it means "I Love You" in sign language.

Lastly, and most important, I want to thank Todd Sapio for the seed idea that grew into this video and for producing this with me, would not have been an inch as good without his creative voice. He also produced the music -- which I LOVE -- and has an awesome band called "Language Room" that everyone should look for on iTunes and check out on their site

Rock the Revolution.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Stats: CNN Florida Debate 1-26-2012 (Wolf Blitzer)

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Some heavy baiting coupled with a fairly hands-off style from CNN's Wolf Blitzer resulted in several tussles between Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney, the GOP frontrunners. Mitt talking the most of all the candidates with 24:09 (mm:ss) and Rick Santorum & Newt following closely with 22:08 and 21:31 respectively. Ron Paul once again lagging the rest of the field with 13:57 of speaking time, good enough for 17% of the overall pie.

It should be said that generally Wolf did a solid job of involving everyone in each topic even though he targeted Mitt & Newt more often in terms of questions posed, but the bulk of the extra time came from back 'n forth rebuttals. Whereas Santorum had fewer questions than the frontrunners and only four more turns than Ron Paul, he maximized his mic time by having longer answers and averaged 14 seconds longer per response than Dr Paul, 16 seconds longer than Mitt and 25 seconds longer than the Speaker.

It would be nice to have an effort that resulted in all of the candidates receiving an equal time, but overall when Wolf strayed from the campaign issues and focused on the policy issues he did a decent job of involving all of the nominees. CNN managed to squeeze an hour and twenty minutes of actual talking time, so that speaks well of how the debate was handled in terms of letting the Republicans use the stage time.

Here's the CNN Florida debate stats:

Total Talk %
Romney 24:09 29.53%
Santorum 22:08 27.07%
Gingrich 21:31 26.32%
Ron Paul 13:57 17.07%
Total 1:21:46 100.00%
*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 %
Gingrich 31 32.29%
Romney 29 30.21%
Santorum 20 20.83%
Ron Paul 16 16.67%
Total 96 100.00%

Avg b/w Talks Longest Wait
Romney 1:53 5:09
Gingrich 2:05 5:58
Santorum 3:18 10:25
Ron Paul 3:58 9:55

Qs Responses Follow-ups
Gingrich 18 10 3
Romney 17 12 0
Ron Paul 14 2 0
Santorum 14 5 1
Total 63 29 4
Note: Qs = Questions; Responses (candidates responding to each other); Followups (moderator following up from the previous question)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Stats: NBC Florida Debate 1-23-2012 (Brian Williams)

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Several things were clear tonight. Brian Williams was concerned with creating sparks between candidates, and discussing the election itself rather than the issues that need governing. Perhaps just as clear was the lack of interest in mixing Ron Paul into the conversation. Speaking an overall of 10:08 (mm:ss), Ron Paul received just 10 turns talking, and at one point even waited for the other candidates a combined 14.5 minutes of nominee talking whereas no other candidate even approached 10 minutes in between turns.

Mitt Romney made a point of calling out Newt's ethics violations and overall disdain the Speaker had from his own party. Speaker Gingrich made a point of being himself and refuting facts with redirection and audacious tones. The man deserves credit for being crafty, not that "crafty" is a good trait in a President.

The debate did maintain an air of respect, even if poorly moderated. With Gingrich riding high you can expect him to stay above the fray until he's next threatened in the polls. As long as Newt stays Newt, that could come at any moment.

Connect on Facebook, here's the GOP Statistics, they speak loudly:

Total Talk %
Romney 21:56 33.27%
Gingrich 19:44 29.92%
Santorum 14:08 21.43%
Ron Paul 10:08 15.38%
Total 1:05:58 100.00%
*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 27 36.00%
Gingrich 27 36.00%
Santorum 11 14.67%
Ron Paul 10 13.33%
Total 75 100.00%

Avg b/w Talks Longest Wait
Romney 1:54 6:40
Gingrich 2:09 5:01
Santorum 5:17 7:40
Ron Paul 6:36 14:34

Qs Responses Follow-ups
Romney 16 7 4
Gingrich 15 7 5
Santorum 9 0 2
Ron Paul 8 0 2
Total 48 14 13
Note: Qs = Questions; Responses (candidates responding to each other); Followups (moderator following up from the previous question)

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Chuck Norris is Wrong and Deceived About Newt Gingrich

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In recent weeks Chuck Norris has been writing (part 1, part 2) about the qualities that he believes are important in the Republican Presidential candidate which ended with an endorsement for Newt Gingrich (link). While his list may be good or bad, the real question is whether he honestly applies his own criteria.

He doesn't. Not if he's forcing the square pegs of Newt Gingrich into those round holes. The guy has the stability of a white water raft. His entire life reflects this.

The 10 Questions of Chuck Norris:

1) Who is most committed to follow and lead by the U.S. Constitution?
Newt Gingrich fully ignores the 5th Amendment's right to due process by endorsing Presidential assasssination lists a la Barack Obama's Al Awlaki killing as well as disregarding the 4th Amendment's right to privacy vis a vis endorsing the Patriot Act. With standards like that, why should he even take an oath to defend it?

Jack Hunter also has an interesting piece regarding Newt's foreword to a 1995 book endorsing killing off our current form of government. (link)

2) Who has the greatest ability to rally, unify and mobilize citizens across political and societal spectrums?
Newt is as divisive a politician as any in recent American history. His solution to solve problems is to bitterly wage war and grandstand, claiming some superior moral high ground. How does he propose to reach out to black communities? Insult them by saying they should "demand paychecks and not be satisfied with foodstamps". (link)

That's recent without even digging into his past ethics violations as Speaker of the House (link; which was the first time in American history a Speaker of the House was punished for ethics violations), his "petty" (Newt's own words) reaction to not getting what he wanted on Air Force One as House Speaker (link) which led to a government shut down, and numerous disparaging remarks to many communities over his career as (satirically) covered by Jon Stewart (link).

That's some unifier.

3) Who has the best working comprehension of America?
To flesh this out, Norris adds: "The degree to which one comprehends America's ebbs and flows parallels one's proficiency to lead. As the adage goes, if one doesn't know history, he is doomed to repeat its mistakes."

Yes, Newt is a historian, but that will help as much as President Obama being a Constitutional lawyer helped in defending the Constitution. It really only means that whatever Newt wants to do he'll be able to pull the historic "facts" that help make his case since he clearly never applies history to defend the Constitution. Examples to come...

4) Who has the best ability to influence a volatile world away from the brink of destruction?
The "influencer" called for the assassination of Iranian scientists, which has since been done resulting only in the escalation of tension between Israel, Iran and us. Hardly a step back from the brink.

Luckily, Wired has detailed some of Newt's more "nuanced" positions on foreign policy and defense (link) with such gems as saying that Iran would install a democracy by 2004, that's Newt circa 2002, clearly since he contemplates a military regime change his prediction fell short. Hey, it happens, but he failed to predict the rising threat of terrorism and overstated North Korea's threat. I'm all for failed predictions, at least you have a view, but when your overreaction can start a war over false assumptions then there's reason to question your judgment. Republicans should have questioned George W Bush's judgment, but he was largely untouched.

To repeat, Newt is calling for a regime change, peaceful or militarily as well as assassination of their scientists. He's openly stated it should all be done covertly with deniability. The historian forgets that this is exactly what caused Iran's revolution in 1979, our 1953 coup to install the Shah by overthrowing the democratically elected Mosaddegh.

5) Who has clear and present moral fortitude?
Even if you overlook Newt's personal life -- he admittedly had affairs on his first and second wife & according to the 2nd wife he also asked for an open marriage (link) -- you should acknowledge his aforementioned ethics violations as a sign of shaky moral foundation. Another disconcerting moment came in a CBS News debate when Gingrich stated that Al Awlaki was convicted by a panel, the panel he's referring to is a secret CIA panel -- not a judicial conviction -- who has released no evidence (link). Supporting such a system for executing an American is in no way fortifying the moral system of laws that is a staple of what sets America apart.

Newton also does not think that waterboarding is torture (link) which is amazing considering the historian cannot recall that it was treated as such after WWII resulting in the hanging of Japanese officers (link). Either Newt is a bad historian or he's being selective with his facts, neither speaks well for the Speaker.

He also supports the death penalty for drug smuggling (link), and while I am not a drug user I want no part of that sort of morality.

6) Who has the best chance of beating President Obama, in and outside of debates?
If winning an argument means sounding the best in the moment and winning public opinion then I'll certainly give props to Newt on this one, he will say whatever it takes to score a point. However, if being right is what's considered to win debates then Newt will get tossed around in the debate's aftermath. Not only is his fact checking awful in followups from debates -- as noted by Awlaki & his views on the legality of torture -- but he also cannot even get the facts of his own life right. Not only did Newt lie about being a historian for Freddie Mac and received in the area of $1.6mm for "strategic advice" while primarily being in direct contact with Freddie Mac's chief lobbyist (link), but he was wanting John McCain to demand Barack Obama return contributions from Freddie & Fannie (link, transcribed by TPM). You have to think this will be run a few times.

Even if "best chance" means just overall beating him in the election then according to the latest CNN poll Mitt Romney & Ron Paul are the only contenders who statistically tie with President Obama while Newt is -9% (link).

In a political debate your record of consistency matters, Newt does not have it and will get shellacked over it (link).

7) Who has the best abilities to lead Washington politics and politicians?
What was Newt's first major campaign action after announcing his candidacy on May 11th (link)? By the end of the month he was on a Greek vacation (link) which was a factor for his staff quitting on June 9th (link), not even a full month into his campaign. People quit campaigns all the time, but your entire staff quitting before the first month? Recently his "relentlessly positive campaign" -- since he was killed in Iowa -- has taken a few detours into negative campaigning (link on Mitt's Romneycare for abortions & Planned Parenthood, link on Ron Paul "stunningly dangerous").

What about as Speaker of the House? He resigned early (link). So the result of all his magnificent leading was his party forcing him to resign? I can't imagine the sign of a good leader is being chased out once attaining the role of leader. It's one thing to be an outsider, but to be an insider-turned-outcast is nothing to be proud of on a resume.

8) Who has the best plan and leadership ability to restore America's economy?
What's most interesting about the Speaker's Economic Plan (link), is that he wants to break up Fannie & Freddie whereas in the past he not only took paychecks from Freddie, but even more astounding is that in a 2007 interview with Freddie he clearly had a different position, stating: "So while we need to improve the regulation of the GSEs, I would be very cautious about fundamentally changing their role or the model itself". Not only did he not predict the economic crash (someone else did), but he was championing the backbone of the bubble all the way until it popped! The man has no clue about economics let alone the ability to understand how policy will affect the economic climate.

Point #7 of his Economic Plan is to "Balance the budget", but how? Well, "by growing the economy, controlling spending, implementing money saving reforms, and replacing destructive policies and regulatory agencies with new approaches." Naturally there are absolutely no spending cuts mentioned, no timeline and therefore no real plan to balance the budget. Unless he thinks he can knock out a $1.6 Trillion deficit without making any noteworthy changes. He has no plan.

9) Who is the most fiscally prudent?
There is absolutely no way having two lines of debt at Tiffany's worth as much $1mm is anywhere near the sanity of being called "fiscally prudent" (link), and Newt was rightly raked over the coals for it by Bob Schieffer (YouTube link).

Gingrich's Social Security reform includes a public pension account option which “the government guarantees that all workers with personal accounts will receive at least as much in retirement as they would under the current Social Security system”, Forbes' Jeffrey Brown wisely points out that publicly guaranteeing a minimum return is a potential fiscal nightmare (to gravely understate it) and a moral hazard in waiting (link). When will we learn that there is an inherent flaw when the government backs investments? You simply cannot remove the element of risk in the marketplace if you wish the market to work properly. To think otherwise is fiscally irresponsible.

10) Who has demonstrated the highest regard for human life?
Pretending that abandoning two wives amidst life challenging afflictions does not apply here, instead let the focus be on policy. Newt's regard for life is that if he becomes President Gingrich then human life survives at his whim. Of his enemies he says, "Kill them," and of anyone he considers a terrorist, kill them (without any judicial oversight / due process), if you're an Iranian scientist he suspects of nuclear practice, "covertly" kill them (transcript, CBS News debate), if you're running drugs? Kill them. Seems like a one size fits all solution, and completely lacking any respect for human life. Creating safety for the public should not come at the expense of the public becoming the collateral damage in the effort to do so, or human life in general.

If you're to have both high respect for the Constitution and human life, then brandishing your own sword of justice is not the way of our national leader. Not if we are to set a moral standard for the entire world. The wars and sanctions in Iraq has cost upwards of a million innocent lives. The sanctions alone were responsible for half a million Iraqi children dying (link). How many innocent lives are justified in bad foreign policy? Newt certainly isn't looking to rein in the abuse of powers if he thinks that he alone has the power to take a life.

I hope Mr Norris is open to reconsidering his endorsement if that is indeed his criteria, along with anyone else with a similar set of guidelines. Newt is wrong, Barack Obama is not the enemy, but rather the enemy is politics as usual. He is the insider's pariah, do not let the prodigal son return.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

CNN Republican Debate Stats 1-19-11 (John King)

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Not all talking time is equal. Moderated by CNN's John King, I have to say that this was overall a fairly well moderated debate even if perhaps a bit on the Thunder Dome style. Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich each tied for the most turns talking at 22, while Ron Paul spoke only 14 times. However, I think the tale of the tape is in the number of questions aimed at each candidate, and each candidate largely received the same amount at about 12 each. That means all of those extra turns were spent in defense of their record, rebutting each other.

Ron Paul only had two rebuttals, one dealing with the abortion issue. This was astounding. Rick Santorum actually implied that Ron Paul is anything but Pro Life. It should be pointed out that Doctor Paul is an OBGYN and has delivered over 4,000 babies and never performed an abortion. Perhaps next Rick Santorum will say he loves Carol Paul more than Ron does.

Dr Paul believes in the state's right to decide issues of violence as provided in the Constitution whereas Senator Santorum believes in the Constitution unless he doesn't like its restrictions. This would include war powers, privacy, marriage and due process -- which his two-sided arguments are indefinite detentions of US citizens are wrong even if you're accused of terrorism, but killing US citizens if you're accused of being a terrorist is fine, how he reconciles this paradox is beyond the scope of my ability to rationalize.

Now that the GOP Presidential race is down to four we can see a great overall rise in the amount of time distributed to each candidate. On Monday's Fox News debate the top talker, Mitt Romney, received 22 minutes of time speaking -- about the same here -- while all the other candidates had less than 15 minutes, so coupled with a more deliberate attempt at pinging each nominee equally (even with the wild west rebuttals) along with one less body on stage we can see a far more balanced approach to divvying up speaking time. I tip my hat to John King.

Hit me on Facebook, here's the debate statistics for CNN's GOP Debate:

Total Talk %
Romney 22:21 28.08%
Santorum 22:17 28.00%
Gingrich 18:40 23.46%
Ron Paul 16:17 20.46%
Total 1:19:36 100.00%
*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 22 27.50%
Gingrich 22 27.50%
Santorum 22 27.50%
Ron Paul 14 17.50%
Total 80 100.00%

Avg b/w Talks Longest Wait
Romney 2:45 9:37
Gingrich 2:51 9:34
Santorum 2:52 7:01
Ron Paul 4:10 13:17

Qs Responses Follow-ups
Ron Paul 12 2 0
Gingrich 12 8 2
Santorum 12 9 1
Romney 11 9 2
Total 47 28 5
Note: Qs = Questions; Responses (candidates responding to each other); Followups (moderator following up from the previous question)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Fox News South Carolina Debate 1-16-2012

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If there was a winner out of this mess, I cannot fathom who it is. It does seem odd that as soon as I write an article about media bias that Fox News flies in to assure us that there is indeed a lack of objectivity. Bret Baier inserted his own slant by once again labeling Ron Paul as "far to the left of President Obama", he didn't quote any of the other nominees, he simply stated his own opinion. How can this be construed as anything but creating your own narrative?

In the opening segment -- dominated mostly by Bain and political attacks -- Newt Gingrich had three turns talking, Santorum had seven turns, Mitt Romney spoke eight times, Rick Perry twice and Ron Paul once. Even though Kelly Evans was seeking a followup to Ron Paul, Rick Santorum was allowed a response and then immediately a followup and then a fresh question. Three turns in a row.

This wasn't exactly unique considering Romney was allowed a fresh question directly after a response four separate times. Twice separated by a commercial break (he answered/responded before the break, and then received the next question upon returning from break), and twice in mid-debate where he was allowed a response and then a fresh question. Other than Senator Santorum's aforementioned back-to-back response/question, no one else received a fresh question after a string of responses.

If only that were the end of it. The most obvious possible self-created narrative was that eight of Congress Paul's 13 turns talking was regarding foreign policy, easily his widest point of conflict with the Republican base, but rather than receive one single question regarding the economy (he spoke eight turns about foreign policy, once about political ads, once about taxes, once about racism in the drug war and twice about gun rights) the line of questioning seemed to target his "left of the most lefty left thing in the galaxy" foreign policy. Never mind Ron Paul has created the only plan to balance the budget, was the only person on the stage to predict the housing bubble many years before it burst and is the reason so much attention is being paid to economic policy. Now, whether this is for good TV or to hurt Dr Paul I will not try to interpret, because who really knows other than Bret Baier, the lead moderator.

I normally try to make this column a little less Paul centric, but the moderating here was extremely irritating and it seems the stats back it up when broken down a little more granular than the normal overall stats would reveal. Otherwise, it looks like this was a fairly balanced debate where Paul/Santorum/Gingrich received nearly equal time, when it was anything but.

The highlight for me was during the response to Representative Paul, where Paul defended his ads stating Senator Santorum is guilty of bad policy and Santorum conceded his bad policy decisions stating, "I'm a strong conservative, but I'm not perfect. President Bush's signature initiative was No Child Left Behind, I voted for it, [but] I shouldn't have." Booyah. Well, that and when Newt refused to directly answer Juan Williams' question regarding Newt's statement that "blacks should demand jobs, not food stamps", because there's no hint of racism lurking in there. Hey Hannity, want to discuss that instead of Ron's 20 year old newsletters he didn't write? No? Perhaps we'll let Jon Stewart tackle that.

Here's the debate stats for the SC GOP Debate:

Total Talk %
Romney 21:59 30.76%
Santorum 14:13 19.90%
Gingrich 13:28 18.85%
Ron Paul 12:13 17.11%
Perry 9:33 13.37%
Total 1:11:29 100.00%
*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 26 32.50%
Santorum 16 20.00%
Gingrich 15 18.75%
Ron Paul 13 16.25%
Perry 10 12.50%
Total 80 100.00%

Avg b/w Talks Longest Wait
Romney 2:15 11:50
Santorum 3:25 12:09
Gingrich 5:17 17:26
Ron Paul 5:21 13:49
Perry 8:44 18:45

Qs Responses Follow-ups
Romney 10 11 5
Gingrich 8 4 3
Santorum 8 7 1
Perry 6 1 3
Ron Paul 6 4 3
Total 38 27 15
Note: Qs = Questions; Responses (candidates responding to each other); Followups (moderator following up from the previous question)