Friday, March 28, 2008

New McCain Ad - March 28th 2008

I know this ad is supposed to be inspiring because it shows that McCain has really suffered in service to this country. However, from a strictly marketing standpoint, it doesn't say "Strong Leader" to me. That's not to say McCain can not be a strong leader, just that this ad didn't move me that way. Seeing him in a hospital bed, at the mercy of his captors inspires empathy and respect for the fact that he stayed true to his country throughout the long ordeal. Maybe it's just me, but it didn't tell me anything I didn't already know and it didn't highlight leadership. It's not bad as a character reinforcement type of ad, but I think when running to be the leader of the most powerful country on Earth, you need to show confidence in your agenda and the willingness and ability to make it happen.

We know you're a good man, now what's your plan?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Obama on the View

Barak Obama continues to insist that for 20 years he was unaware of the kinds of things that his pastor had been saying from the pulpit on a regular basis. To me this is more offensive than anything the Reverend Wright had to say. It's as if Bill Clinton had said "it depends on what the meaning of the word "is" is" to the entire country rather than just trying to slip it by one judge.

When I saw Hillary characterize her total fabrication of the events of the Bosnia trip in '96 I thought "There's someone who's totally lost her grip on reality if she thinks we're all that stupid". Then Obama comes out and insults our collective intelligence again. He could have let her have the "Whose a bigger jerk" award. She was running away with it. Now it's a contest again.

At least 5 more months of this folks. It's going to go down to the wire.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Hillary Clinton Bosnia Trip - Video

"I mispoke"? Maybe in the sense that O.J. "mispoke" when he said he was "100% not guilty"

Hillary Clinton recently recalled a 1996 trip to Bosnia saying that she remembers running to the car with her head down to avoid sniper fire. There was supposed to be a welcoming ceremony, but they had to be rushed off to safety.

What she didn't know was...there's video. This clip from CBS News shows what really happened. There was a welcoming ceremony, with both Hillary and Chelsea, and an 8 year old Bosnian girl. Everyone is smiling and carefree. There certainly isn't any sniper fire to be found.

The "I mispoke" explanation is as insulting as the original lie. How dumb does this woman think we are? This is right up there with her claim that she was named after Sir Edmund Hllary, even though he didn't become famous until AFTER she was born (Sir Hillary climbed Everest in 1953, Hillary was born in '47). Like Bill, her first reaction is to lie. It's almost pathological. I'm sure she speaks the truth a lot of the time, but it's impossible to tell when. She lies about things that don't even matter. Who cares whether or not she was named after Sir Edmund Hillary or whether she ever had to duck sniper fire? The risk doesn't seem to match the potential benefit.

This woman is psychologically impaired. Don't let her near the red button, and for Pete's sake, don't hand her the phone at 3 in the morning!

Ten Ton Brick - Unplugged?

So I'm listening to a rock station the other day and the DJ announces the next song is going to be "Ten Ton Brick". "Great" I'm thinking, "This song jams". To my dismay, the song that came on definitely did not jam. It was the "unplugged" version.

Unplugged is the phenomenon made popular by MTV in which songs are re-recorded using only acoustic instruments as back up. Of course the whole nature of the song is changed to match the Earthy sound.

I can only envision a bunch of record producers sitting down with the artists and brainstorming about this: "That sounds pretty good, but how can we take all the joy out of it?" "What if it was lame? How would that sound?" "How can we remove all of the adrenaline producing aspects of this tune?" "What if, instead of making you want to bang your head or shake your fist, the song compelled you to sway or take a nap instead?"

It might make sense if the new version were pitched to other markets, like elevator music companies, or Las Vegas lounge performers, but for some reason they play them on rock stations. As if it still qualifies as rock because a rock star produced it. Honda makes lawn mowers, but you don't see people driving them on the highway.

Producing an "unplugged" version of a song like "Ten Ton Brick" makes about as much sense as flame broiling ice cream. But if you must "folksy up" rock songs, please, play them somewhere else.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Obama Reaction: Typical

For a guy who borrowed the "Just Words" speech, Barak sure is choosing some ill-advised ones lately. It reminds me of Gary Hart's challenge to the media to follow him around just before they caught him having an affair. Obama put the emphasis on his words, now everyone of them is being hyperanalyzed. You asked for it.

In his now famous speech on race, he said some revealing things. Typical of the mass media, they missed what I thought were the most relevant parts. The thing that stood out to me was when he talked about a 9 year old girl who ate mustard and relish sandwiches for a year, pretending she really enjoyed them because her mom was sick and she knew she didn't have much money. He used this as an example of "social injustice". This is a typical flaw in liberal thinking: equating personal hardship with social injustice. I ate many a mustard and margarine sandwich when I was a kid. My family was always broke, but that's not why I ate them. I liked them. There are probably billions of people in the world who would love to have a daily ration of a mustard and relish sandwich, but I digress.

Not having everything you want, everything you need, everything you think you deserve, everything your local politician thinks you ought to have is not social injustice, it's life. The young girl in the story should be lauded for her empathy for her mom and her awareness of their financial situation. She took action to help alleviate some of the stress. That's a good thing. It's not tragic, it's refreshing. Overcoming adversity builds and demonstrates character. Eliminating adversity is not the government's job. They would do well to focus on simply not contributing to it.

Injustice is when someone does you wrong. If the girl's mom had been taxed into poverty, that would be social injustice. Experiencing financial hardship due to medical expenses is just unfortunate. Suggesting that those who don't have what they'd like to have is injustice is a typical political ploy to stir up anger and resentment that can then be focussed on your agenda.

Don't fall for it.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Obama - With Friends Like These.....

It has been suggested that the Clinton campaign consciously and strategically tried to inject race into the primary election as far back as January. They wanted to make him the "black candidate" meaning that he would focus mainly on issues that would benefit a single voting block rather than the public at large. Obama didn't go for the bait. The Republicans didn't go for the bait. For a while it looked as though the strategy wasn't going to work. Unfortunately for Obama, a lot of black activists took the bait, hook, line and sinker.

They mistook widespread acceptance and approval of Barak Obama as widespread acceptance and approval of their agenda: socialism, pacifism, anger, resentment, the lust for revenge on those they've deemed their oppressors (whites and jews). This is the consequence of the Democrat party's successful efforts to create a "black" voting block that votes largely along party lines. It created the idea that everybody with dark skin is of one mind. "We're militant socialists and we're black. Barak's black. Therefore...."

The ministers that have come out in support of Barak's former pastor, The Reverend Wright, have defended him by saying that the general public just doesn't understand the atmosphere of the black church, as if the notion that racial hatred and disdain for their own country is pervasive among the black community is supposed to make us feel better about the situation. If you're really that pissed off, take it out of the church and let's talk it out in the public arena. Keeping it "in the family" enables radicals in leadership positions to harness all that anger, bitterness and resentment for the advancement of their agenda, which is not, in my humble opinion, a good one.

In any case, if the Clintons intentionally and successfully have made race an issue in the primary contest, it's not going to benefit either candidate. Obama's associations with and reluctance to distance himself from, radical elements make him unelectable in the general election. His race is not the issue. His coziness with the radical left is. Hillary will not be able to secure the nomination without making it look like "The Man" stole the election. She'll need the "super delegates" to pull it off and there's just no way to sell that.

The silver lining is, as I alluded to earlier, maybe the anger and resentment that has apparently, up to now, been confined to black churches will come out into the light where we can deal with it. We all want the same things (well most of us). A real shot at the American dream. In cases where people are being unjustly denied a fair shot, we need to acknowledge and fix it. Of course we'll have different ideas as to how best to do that, but let's drop the hyperbole and have a civil, intelligent, productive debate. If we still disagree at the end of the day, we bid each other goodnight and pick it up tomorrow, or next week. Obama said in his speech that he cannot disown his pastor anymore than he can disown his white grandmother who has made racial comments as well. After all, they're family and no matter how wrong they may be at times, family is family. That's the attitude we need to expand on. Don't gather in isolation to talk smack about your family. Come join the conversation in the living room.... and watch your language. There's kids out here.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Obama, Clinton and McCain all say "I'm sorry"...They're all right.

The apology-fest continued this week as Barak Obama apologized for his pastor saying that Bill Clinton rode the black community like "he did Monica Lewinski." This comes on the heels of Hillary apologizing for Geraldine Ferraro's suggestion that Obama wouldn't have been as successful if he were white. McCain has participated in the mea culpa parade too, recently apologizing for a radio show host making fun of Obama's middle name.

This is the consequence of having three legislators vying for a chief executive position. Senators live by consensus. Deals are worked out based on social position and emotion. Congress is not a place where strong individuals thrive. I shudder to think what these guys will do while representing America on the world stage. Our foreign policy is likely to be one continuous apology.

Just once, I want to hear one of the candidates faced with a question about a supporters rude, obnoxious, out-of-line comments respond: "Yeah, I heard that. That was pretty funny." Lead by example. Show a little emotional toughness instead of competing for top spot in the "onion skin" competition. We're at war for Pete's sake. We don't need a president who's going to be sensitive to Al Quaida's feelings. We need a president who will hunt them down and kill them, without apologizing for it afterwards.

How can we expect our leaders to hold their own on the world stage when they demonstrate daily that they can't even take a joke at home.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

What were we Thinking?

Have you ever watched a movie or tv show that you remember as being really cool, only to discover that it's actually extremely lame? I had one of those moments recently. I was flipping through the free movies section on Comcast when I came across Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. I saw it in a theater with some friends when I was about 10 and seemed to recall it was a pretty good flick. It was free, so what the heck. I decided to refresh my memory.

What were we thinking?! How the heck did we ever think this was cool? I mean it's not enough that the stars and the plot are lame, but Aerosmith (the band) actually gets beat up by the Bee Gees and Peter Frampton.

I got a shock from another old favorite when I re-watched "Ferris Bueller's Day Off". Remember the parade scene? I didn't. There's a part when the black people start gettin' down. They're all having a great time, but up the stairs and away, by themselves. A good distance from the white folk. A scene like that in a movie today would have to be either a parody or a Klan recruitment film. But, I don't remember anyone making a peep about it when Bueller was a big hit.

The same phenomenon is often true of music as well. I'll come across an album I haven't played in a couple of decades, only to find out it doesn't "rock" anymore.

So, if you have memories of music, movies, and the like that you haven't re-visited in a while, do yourself a favor. Don't argue with your kid when he or she tells you it's lame, and for God's sake, don't play it!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Elliot Spitzer Scandal - Why is Greta Angry?

During Greta Van Susteren's (Fox News) reporting of the Elliot Spitzer scandal, she stated that although some reporters had expressed some sympathy for Spitzer, she felt none for the man she has known for over 20 years. She couldn't quite put her finger on why, but she said she felt not only disappointed, but angry. She may not be able to nail down the root cause, but I think I can.

I don't know Van Susteren personally, but having observed her dogged pursuit of the truth and the way that she conducts her program, I believe she is a genuinely good person. That is, someone who has determined right from wrong and who strives to do right, all the time. Spitzer had a public image that was much the same. he was seen as the "Elliot Ness" of modern times; uncorruptable, untouchable; a champion of the truth.

Role models like these are important because a genuinely good person is so, not because they seek some eternal reward, but because after long hard analysis, they've determined it is the best way to operate. It's the manner of dealing with one another that, in the long term, will lead to a better quality of life for everyone. It's both self-serving and in the interest of the general good.

On the other hand, there are those who would have you believe that the existence of "genuinely good" people is a myth; that we are all "sinners". This notion serves a sinister end. Once you are convinced that you can't trust your own judgement, you are much more likely to defer that judgement to someone or something else. It may be the state, society, religion, whatever, the important thing is that YOU the individual can not be trusted. This is the environment in which bad guys thrive.

The revelations about Spitzer serve to reinforce the notion that there are no "good guys". It provides cover for those who are not celebrities to let their guard down and make choices that serve short-term comfort, desire and convenience at the expense of their own long-term good and consequently, that of others. After all, if the great Elliot Spitzer can't live up to the standards he professed, what chance do you or I have?

There are those who are aware that the myth here is not that good people don't exist, but that Elliot Spitzer was one of them. He kept up a front for political expediency and that front has been breached. Good people know for a fact that it is possible to weigh right and wrong and choose right and to be aware of such choices all the time. They know it because they do it, every day. This doesn't mean they are infallable. It is possible to miscalculate and make the wrong choice, but this is not the same as conscioulsy choosing to do wrong. It's also possible that two good people can come to different conclusions as to what the right choice is. Again, this is not the same as deliberately taking action that is in conflict with your own core philosophical and stated beliefs.

I think this is why Greta is angry. Leading by example is hard work and it takes a long time to make an impression and convince people to engage in long-term thinking. Events like the Spitzer scandal set such efforts back by suggesting that it's a fruitless effort. Spitzer is obviously intelligent and capable of determining right from wrong. He said himself that he knew what he did was wrong. A man who appeared to be an ally in the fight for truth, justice and the American way turned out to be a double-agent, working for the other side. Truth was betrayed and betrayal stings.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Eliminating the Marijuana "Gateway"

A very strong case can be made that the use of marijuana is nowhere near as harmful as the use of alcohol. Yet it remains a criminal activity. A great illustration of the hypocracy of this situation is that politician after politician will admit to the use of marijuana in their younger years and simply shrug it off as "youthful indiscretion" or "experimantation". Yet they perpetuate the practice of locking up and/or fining and punishing others who are unlucky enough to get caught doing the same.

One argument for the continued criminalization of the use of marijuana is that it is a "gateway drug". The implication is that people who start using marijuana are more likely to eventually try other, more dangerous drugs. This may be true, but only because to access marijuana, at present, you have to go to a drug dealer. One could also make the case that marijuana is a gateway to criminal activity since to get it you have to engage in criminal behavior and patronize criminals. If one could buy marijuana at a bakery, it would be a gateway to increased doughnut consumption since the proprietor would invariably try to get you to make another purchase while you were there.

The "gateway" argument is a bogus one, since the gateway would cease to exist if marijuana were legal. Of course, driving a car on public streets or going to work inebriated should not be tolerated anymore than if you were to do the same drunk. But I don't believe people who imbibe in a little MJ during their Saturday afternoon barbecue are dangerous criminals. It's high time Americans took a long, hard, objective look at this situation. We need to stop throwing money down the black hole of marijuana use prevention. We can put the same sort of caveats on it that we do on alchohol.

The irony is, that if you buy the "gateway" argument, taking marijuana out of the realm of these gateways could actually reduce the use of more dangerous drugs as well as criminal activity by eliminating the need for customers to come in contact with those things in the first place.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

McCain should put some color on the ticket - VP choice

I don't think McCain needs to put a woman or a minority on the ticket to win in November. The Democrats have gone so far left, I think it's going to be a landslide for him. But, this is the land of the free and the home of the brave and I'm a little disturbed by the as yet, undefeated streak of "Two Snow White Guys" for the presidency.

Now I wouldn't vote for someone just because of their ethnicity or gender, but I know there are people of color and women out there more qualified to be president than Dan Quayle and Al Gore. I understand why more of them don't run. It's the same reason most emminently qualified people, white, black, hispanic, asian, eskimo, male or female wont run. The process is degrading, dirty, and no matter how well you do, at least 40% of the country and most of the world will hate your guts for it.

Finding a qualified minority candidate is not the problem. Convincing them to run for public office is. Appeal to their patriotism, their ego, their sense of adventure.

Condaleeza has said she doesn't want the job (smart woman), but I've heard it said that she has never turned down public service when asked. Go ask.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Elf - Earth Liberation Front - Stupid and Potentially Deadly

Member of the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) allegedly are responsible for the torching of several luxury homes near Seattle recently. In defense of the environment they caused immense amounts of toxic smoke, millions of gallons of spent water, dozens of cars and trucks travelling in and out of the area and twice as much material and energy to be spent (the houses will be rebuilt).

You don't have to be MENSA to determine that these people are idiots. However, that does not mean they can be ignored. The potential loss of life is an obvious concern. Their tactics of arson, tree spiking and other sabotage can easily cause maiming and death. There is a bigger concern though.

Scientists warn that the ability to create super viruses, bacteria and toxins is already upon us. More and more people gain access to the knowledge every day. If and when some nut decides to create and deploy them, it wont be a terrorist, a general or a dictator, it will be someone who believes that humanity is a scourge on the planet and it is their duty to rid it of us. The recent Discovery Channel special "Earth after Humans" was a good example of an eco-terrorists fantasy.

Without humans Earth can return to its "natural state" (in the minds of eco-terrorists humans are not natural). Then they can be reincarnated as a care-free giant otter or hawk or something.

Ensuring that we don't do long term damage to our environment in search of short term comfort and convenience is a good idea. Killing people and breaking things in a philisophical temper tantrum is just stupid and dangerous. If you're not intellectually capable of making your point without vandalism or violence, you're a moron and need to be locked up.

"The Earth Liberation Front "ELF" is an underground movement with no leadership, membership or official spokesperson"

I guess that means it's not the "official website" since they have no officials. It's interesting that the site seems to be supported by Viagra ads and an annual "Swingers Festival". Is Viagra Earth friendly?

The group claims some of their members have been imprisoned on false charges because they represent "threats to the powers that be". Of course in this country threats to the powers that be don't get locked up, they become pundits and contributors on cable news shows. Threats to persons and property go to prison.

BTW if any ELF members out there are getting hot under the collar about this, I live in CO. Step on my property in a threatening manner and I can legally kill you...and what determines "threatening manner" is entirely up to me.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Could Hillary Come Back?

Most political observers, including myself, had written the Clinton campaign's obituary. Suddenly, it looks like the tide may have turned.

Although the coverage hasn't always been positive over the past ten days, Hillary has dominated it. The vast majority of campaign coverage has been about Hillary and whether or not her campaign was over. This has had the net effect of keeping Obama and his message off the air. In addition, what coverage Obama has gotten has not been very good. People are starting to ask questions about his positions and his associations.

The poll numbers are the most telling. Obama had rallied to an 8 point lead in Texas. With 24 hours to go, that lead is down to 1 (statistically irrelevant). In Ohio he had been closing the gap on Hillary, but that stalled at about 5 percent. The late momentum is with Hillary. As I've said before, you don't have to strike the right chord with voters throughout the campaign, just on the right day.

Hillary has, intentionally or not, positioned herself as the underdog. Victories in Texas and Ohio will add new life to her campaign and an exciting new chapter to her story. Where things go from there? Who knows. I thought I had this thing figured out a couple of days ago, but the dynamic has shifted.

In the end I believe it's a matter of who will lose to McCain. I just don't see Americans getting all excited about surrender in Iraq, nationalized health care, higher taxes and repealing "No Child Left Behind".

Still, it's fun to watch.