Friday, February 29, 2008

Got Hope?

I just read an article by someone who does.

Today's humanitarian crisis in Iraq -- and the potential consequences for our national security -- are great. Can the United States afford to gamble that 4 million or more poor and displaced people, in the heart of Middle East, won't explode in violent desperation, sending the whole region into further disorder?

What we cannot afford, in my view, is to squander the progress that has been made. In fact, we should step up our financial and material assistance. UNHCR has appealed for $261 million this year to provide for refugees and internally displaced persons. That is not a small amount of money -- but it is less than the U.S. spends each day to fight the war in Iraq. I would like to call on each of the presidential candidates and congressional leaders to announce a comprehensive refugee plan with a specific timeline and budget as part of their Iraq strategy.

As for the question of whether the surge is working, I can only state what I witnessed: U.N. staff and those of non-governmental organizations seem to feel they have the right set of circumstances to attempt to scale up their programs. And when I asked the troops if they wanted to go home as soon as possible, they said that they miss home but feel invested in Iraq. They have lost many friends and want to be a part of the humanitarian progress they now feel is possible.

These words were not written by the usual kind of author. It's not John McCain, George Bush, Karl Rove or some other warmongering neocon. The truth is, it was written by Angelina Jolie. In this instance, Ms. Jolie has a good grasp on the situation.

Normally, I wouldn't be so eager to dump a wad of cash like she's wanting, unless the cause is worthy. Like Gen. Powell once said, "If we break it, we pay for it."

By removing Saddam, a vacuum has been created. The vacuum is being filled and gets closer all the time. But looming in the distance, Iran is more than willing to fill that vacuum if we were to leave. This would throw the region into more turmoil than at any time up to this point.

Obama's plans for Iraq are flawed. The outcomes from implementing his immediate withdrawal would recreate this void. And just to pour salt on the wound, he would even sit down with someone that would certainly love to fill it, if we left prematurely.

As Ms. Jolie says in her essay, conditions are getting better and the time is right to begin implementing some initiatives that will further stabilize the Iraqi government, and provide relief for the people.

Folks, like it or not, it's the only way this has a chance to be resolved with true peace as a realistic outcome. This is how you move on. This is the only hope the Iraqis know. In reality, it's the only hope for the world. Fail here, it all goes (even further) south afterward.

Ask yourself as you crawl into your warm bed at night: Do you really want to help these people, or do you hate George Bush enough to tear down whatever good has been done, and in some cases prevent it from ever happening? Obama's plan will do just that.

Obama's Foreign Policy Proposals Examined And Scrutinized

It's no secret, Obama's goal is to pull the troops out of Iraq (effectively immediately after taking office).

Obama will immediately begin to remove our troops from Iraq. He will remove one to two combat brigades each month, and have all of our combat brigades out of Iraq within 16 months. Obama will make it clear that we will not build any permanent bases in Iraq. He will keep some troops in Iraq to protect our embassy and diplomats; if al Qaeda attempts to build a base within Iraq, he will keep troops in Iraq or elsewhere in the region to carry out targeted strikes on al Qaeda.

To be sure, he won't get it done as soon as he or many other people think. But I certainly take him at his word and believe him when he says he will do it, over a specified period of time. So, when asked in the debate earlier this week, Obama says he would reserve the right to re-attack Iraq, if al-Qaida were to re-establish a base there.

Wanting to get into the act against the person who will most likely be his opponent in the general election, John McCain wanted to give Sen. Obama a heads up. He told the Senator from Illinois, "Al-Qaida already is in Iraq".

But it didn't end there. Obama punched back.

He told the Senator from Arizona, "There was no such thing as al-Qaida in Iraq until George Bush and John McCain decided to invade Iraq". There are many that think this is debatable, because there is strong evidence that Zarqawi was in Iraq prior to the invasion. But for argument's sake and the purposes of this post, let's assume that he is right for a moment.

If Obama is correct here, one can assume that nothing was created by the invasion. Since Al-Qaida existed both before and after the invasion, the only thing that really changed afterward was the location of said members. They flocked in and began attacking. Cells were located all over the Middle East awaiting their call. The call went out, they came, they saw, they shot, and they bombed.

More predominately, they came in from Syria. But I think it's very safe to conclude, they did come from several Arab countries. The difference lies in the fact that they were dormant, then activated for their contribution toward the ensuing insurgency. In short, they were flushed out of their homelands to fight jihad. The idea that they were all recruited and created because of the invasion, alone, is ludicrous and seriously flawed. But the biggest mistake that can be made when trying to analyze this situation is to assume that AQ would never have been there, if there had been no invasion.

What John McCain needs to do is point this out and make the case for not announcing a withdrawal, before it's safe to do so. It doesn't take a military genius to figure this out, and here's why:

1) The moment U.S. forces move to withdraw they will become targets for attacks that will most certainly be video taped and recorded for propaganda purposes. There's nothing like having film showing U.S. forces retreating and seeing them attacked. If you think recruiting spiked after the invasion, it'll really go up then.

2) To withdraw with the idea that you could come back anytime you want and quell disturbances is not sound strategy. At present, the surge is working and the death rate among military personnel is much lower. Why would it make a bit of sense to leave established positions and risk having to re-take them later?

Just take a moment and think about this.

They would love nothing more than to show the world that the evil American imperialists could be run out, by Allah's mercenaries. They would love nothing more than to have footage on Al Jazeera (and other media sources that are sympathetic to the jihadists) to prove it. They would also love nothing more than to have better strategic positioning, for a re-invasion, whereby more Americans can be killed at a higher rate than at present. This is what they want, period

Another flaw in Obama's thinking, evidently is not as obvious to him or his supporters. They do not have their thinking caps on and even if they did, they wouldn't want to acknowledge any true and distinct reality.

The truth is, if we pull out simply because it was the wrong war at the wrong time, AQ will try and will succeed at re-establishing control of the country. You can bet on it. In fact, they would be foolish not to.

They would love nothing more than a country to control closer to Israel, where they can launch attacks, once they are adequately supplied with missiles (from Iran or others). And why not? Saddam's scuds hit Israeli territory with little effort. With the right missile, a nuke lobbed from Iraq would be preferable to the Iranians as well as more accurate. Shorter distance to travel means less reaction time.

I don't expect Obama or his mesmerized followers to think of this. It's way beyond many of their grasps. But it is true, nonetheless. And while I don't much allow for them having a reasonable amount of understanding in this sticky matter, I do expect John McCain to. And I do expect him to start putting the hammer down in this debate and communicate some things better than he has. One thing is certain, he will not win the Presidency by trying to out-soundbite Obama. From what we have seen from the media so far, they will make sure this doesn't happen.

He must understand, he needs to show his superior knowledge in this area of expertise (and should not tarry). By doing this sooner rather than later, he can/will begin to persuade the independent voters that he can do a much better job than Sen. Obama. It has to start soon.

Don't kid yourself, here. This election is once again going to be about Iraq and the overall war on terror. To make it about anything else at this particular point in time, would be a big mistake. If people want to believe that putting a political novice with no military experience whatsoever in charge of such a huge enormous task for this day and age, there's not much any of us can do. A miscalculation before this is over, can and will be disastrous (both in the short and long terms).

(AC at Fore Left has some links to and comments on the recent exchange of political punches, between McCain and Obama. If this doesn't concern you, maybe you would like to see some of Obama's other foreign policy errors he would like to implement.)

Thursday, February 28, 2008

What's In Name?

As you may have heard by now, a talk show host from Cincinnati made some comments the other day that did not sit too well, with the McCain campaign. The remark was made by WLW radio personality Bill Cunningham at a McCain rally and was pretty much what you would expect from him. But the real stir was created by his use of Barack Obama's middle name, which is Hussein.

Now, I personally do not care what anyone's name is or isn't. Names are just names. They identify who a person is on the surface, but they do not totally represent the whole person. Hussein is a name that may cause a sour and bitter taste in one's mouth, because of the late Iraqi dictator. It is a common name in the Arab world that many have shared, long before the butcher of Baghdad made it famous. We must not forget that the previous king of Jordan was also named Hussein, and he was one of the more moderate leaders in the Arab world.

Likewise, there are people here in America named Adolph. And I know two of them. One of them is a department head where I work and another is a psychologist, I used to work with. To meet either of them, you'd never know (by their behavior or their personalities) that they shared a name with an evil German dictator that tried to extinguish Jews. They are men that do their jobs, just like anyone else. The same can be said about other names people with names like Fidel, Castro, Joseph (Josef) and others.

The objects of my criticism in this post are two different groups of people.

The first one is the one that might include Mr. Cunningham. I say might, because I don't know.

People sling the term racist around haphazardly these days, at the drop of a hat. But Mr. Cunningham has stated that he was only using the name like he would any other person that seeks to be president or has served as one. Lyndon Baines Johnson, Ronald Wilson Reagan, William Jefferson Clinton, and Hillary Rodham Clinton have been used my many people over the years, to include Mr. Cunningham. Whether he was using it for the specific purpose of disparaging Sen. Obama or not, I cannot say for sure. But if he was, John McCain was right to repudiate it immediately, and he did.

It is not in the best interests of this nation or campaign to magnify something like a name or something a candidate wore while on a trip to Kenya. What we need to magnify is where a candidate stands on the issues, his/her past conduct as an adult (especially in the course of their previous dealings on the job), and their qualifications. Between these three things, there is enough information to make an intelligently informed decision. There are plenty of things that can be said of Obama in the early stages of this campaign that are fair game, for discussion and debate. His name is not something that matters in the grand scheme of things.

Healthcare, social security, national security, taxes, spending are all issues that are important enough. It's these kinds of things that can (in my view) eliminate Sen. Obama from consideration. Once people understand where he stands on these things, we have enough information to fairly criticize him and ultimately make a thoughtful choice. It is through these issues, whereby Obama can best be defined and rejected. It is through his actions and associations that PYY will attempt to define him, not by his middle name.

So to those that want to exploit this for the purpose of detracting from the real issues of the day, I say, get over it. It will not be hard to beat Obama's worldview and weaknesses in a debate. But, there is no need for nastiness and crass behavior like one can find on display at the Daily Kos, Huffington Post, and others. To do so gives those that want this kind of controversy front and center, more ammunition to hijack the debate. It gives race-baiters validity they do not deserve.

The next group of people that is the target of my criticism are the people that blow issues like this way out of proportion. These are they that make a man an offender for a word. A name is a word and nothing more. I do not condone any kind of disparaging name, in fact I once had a big argument with a family member for using a racial slur in front of my then, young children. But I also think that at some point in time, people must stop wearing their hearts on their sleeves and add a few layers of skin to insulate themselves against jerks that try to hurt others with their words. What ever happened to "sticks and stones make break my bones, but names will never harm me"?

As many that frequent this blog often already know, I do not allow it here. I have a standard that is not found in all areas of the blogosphere. And you the reader can trust that I will maintain it, as long as I have a blog. What other people say on their blogs is their business and I do not give a piper's damn what they say there, about me or anyone else. But it's not going to happen here. There have been some instances where I have been smeared, mocked, disparaged and laughed at on other sites, but I just plain do not care. If they are doing it to me, they are leaving someone else that may not be able to ignore it, alone.

I know who I am. People that know me personally, know who I am. And if those people that do not know me want to think anything other than what is thought by those who do, it is their problem (not mine). By acting in this manner, they show their own ignorance. It's no big deal, because the name-callers cannot make someone into something they are not, simply by calling someone something ugly or making up lies. I have been called every name in the book by some pretty mean and nasty people; and I have to say that if some coward, who sits behind a keyboard in the safety of their own home, takes pleasure in using mean words in an attempt to offend me, so be it. I assure you, very few of them would have the guts to say it to my face.

My point is simple. Ignore the people that cast unjustifiable aspersions, they aren't worth the time and energy.

So to Obama and his camp, I say get over it and stop exaggerating issues like this, for the purpose of detracting from the real issues. Want to silence the jerks? Talk about the things that we need to talk about. Present your worldview and positions, straight up, without using smokescreens and red herrings. Then and only then, the people of this nation can make a decision based on reason and sound judgment. You can keep playing the "I am offended card" if you wish. But when all is said and done, your message will not be heard and it will not resonate.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Planet Cooling Story? Where's NBC?

Here's something you won't see on NBC, a subsidiary of General Electric (a company that stands to make billions off of the global warming business). After years of hearing how the polar ice caps are melting (which will put many coastal cities under water), we now learn that the ice is back, and snow cover is at the highest amount, since 1966. Of course, we cannot say that one article will refute the alarmists' contentions that we are in a global warming crisis, so here is one that won't get much attention on NBC, either.

AC at Fore Left has correctly noted that all three candidates are in the corner of the alarmists. Whether one wants to buy into this theory that has GE salivating, is entirely up to them. So, if John McCain wants to position himself on the same side as the GW proponents, it doesn't matter to me.

I have often said (and continue to say), keeping the environment clean is a good thing. Helping the country to be less dependent on oil-producing nations that finance terror organizations and those that act foolish (like Venezuela's Chavez), is an even better thing. But to use the scare tactics associated with those groups that have a financial interest in seeing this unproven theory advanced, is quite another thing.

The companies that stand to make billions off of this are wanting the U.S. to follow the Kyoto Protocol, for their own benefit. That motive is well-understood. The nations that want the U.S. to follow it have a different motive, as is evidenced by allowing a pass for developing economies to disregard it. This allows countries like India and China to continue to emit toxic gases for the purpose of allowing them to gain ground on richer nations, with far better developed economies. Never mind that the same gases (and sometimes worse) get thrown into the air (all in the name of fairness and equality).

Sound familiar? It should. Think of it as a form of collective world socialism in action, whereby we punish the rich nations and prop up those that have not made the grade on their own. But if we allow this to continue unabated, the evil capitalists will ultimately win. GE and others will make millions off of an unsuspecting and ill-informed public. So, with all three candidates warning of impending doom, I recommend buying GE stock.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Of Idiocy And Brilliance

From Reuters comes this story:

Pfizer Inc said on Monday it was pulling television advertisements for its Lipitor cholesterol drug featuring Dr. Robert Jarvik, inventor of the Jarvik artificial heart, because they created "misimpressions."

The ads involving Jarvik had come under scrutiny from a U.S. House of Representative committee as part of an investigation into celebrity endorsements of prescription medicines.

Democratic lawmakers had voiced concern that Jarvik's qualifications were misrepresented in widely seen TV commercials touting the blockbuster drug. They said Jarvik seemed to be dispensing medical advice even though he is not a practicing physician.

The commercials, which portray Jarvik in various outdoor activities, also raised eyebrows after news reports that a stunt double was used in a scene with a man rowing across a lake.

A man, who has one of the greatest medical minds in the world and has saved more lives than the whole of Congress combined, has come under fire from people that attach earmarks to bills, participate in pork barrel spending, take bribes, and peddle influence to special interests (left and right). Why? Because he has become the target of "misimpressions".

What a beautiful world, we live in.

(Inspired by an early morning rant by Mrs. Sunsett)

Monday, February 25, 2008

Recommended Reading

If you have any interest in the current situation with regards to Kosovo's recent declaration of independence from Serbia, you will not want to miss Mustang's detailed historical review of the region.

Maureen Dowd has used some interesting language to explain why Hillary is losing to Obama. I am not sure Mr. Obama's camp will like this one too much.

Mr Obama's first test is about to play out, in the media. The image of a squeaky clean candidate may be headed south, soon.

Frank Rich hypothesizes why Hillary is losing and likely will lose to Obama.

Victor Davis Hanson's latest essay has Europe in his sights and minces no words as he gives his assessment.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Empty Politics of Obama Mania Beginning to Worry Some People

Those that follow politics closely know that Karl Rove is bound to be critical of an Obama candidacy. Rove is a Republican and Obama is a Democrat, both have opposing political ideologies and views of the world.

In his latest op-ed piece, he stays consistent with his usual format and comes right out to say what many of us already know. Of particular interest to him is the media-driven (and in some ways, self-created) image of Candidate Barack Obama, as a non-partisan uniter that wants to reform Washington:

Perhaps in response to criticisms that have been building in recent days, Mr. Obama pivoted Tuesday from his usual incantations. He dropped the pretense of being a candidate of inspiring but undescribed "post-partisan" change. Until now, Mr. Obama has been making appeals to the center, saying, for example, that we are not red or blue states, but the United States. But in his Houston speech, he used the opportunity of 45 (long) minutes on national TV to advocate a distinctly non-centrist, even proudly left-wing, agenda. By doing so, he opened himself to new and damaging contrasts and lines of criticism.

Mr. McCain can now question Mr. Obama's promise to change Washington by working across party lines. Mr. Obama hasn't worked across party lines since coming to town. Was he a member of the "Gang of 14" that tried to find common ground between the parties on judicial nominations? Was Mr. Obama part of the bipartisan leadership that tackled other thorny issues like energy, immigration or terrorist surveillance legislation? No. Mr. Obama has been one of the most dependably partisan votes in the Senate.

Until this week, Obama's rhetoric has been focused on reuniting the country, by changing the way business is done in Washington. If that is truly the objective here, one must wonder how this will get done knowing that his resume is so weak. In Washington, favors beget favors and without a lot of them banked in his account, it won't be in his favor.

When there have been opportunities to create good will across the aisle during his senate career, Obama was nowhere to be found -- as Rove further states in his essay. In the area of special interests, he also notes:

Mr. McCain gets a chance to question Mr. Obama's declaration he won't be beholden to lobbyists and special interests. After Mr. Obama's laundry list of agenda items on Tuesday night, Mr. McCain can ask why, if Mr. Obama rejects the influence of lobbyists, has he not broken with any lobbyists from the left fringe of the Democratic Party? Why is he doing their bidding on a range of issues? Perhaps because he occupies the same liberal territory as they do.

The truth is that Mr. Obama is unwilling to challenge special interests if they represent the financial and political muscle of the Democratic left. He says yes to the lobbyists of the AFL-CIO when they demand card-check legislation to take away the right of workers to have a secret ballot in unionization efforts, or when they oppose trade deals. He won't break with trial lawyers, even when they demand the ability to sue telecom companies that make it possible for intelligence agencies to intercept communications between terrorists abroad. And he is now going out of his way to proclaim fidelity to the educational unions. This is a disappointment since he'd earlier indicated an openness to education reform. Mr. Obama backs their agenda down the line, even calling for an end to testing, which is the only way parents can know with confidence whether their children are learning and their schools working.

The past two elections have featured a challenge from Democratic candidates that espouse an affinity for a far-left agenda. Al Gore (and his overzealousness for an unproven theory) and John Kerry (who up to that time had the most liberal voting record in the Senate) were rejected for their messages. What makes Democrats believe that the American people want another referendum on this, is way beyond me.

But here's the clincher.

We expect this kind of analysis from Karl Rove. It's nothing new.

But what when we have liberal journalists like Margaret Carlson sounding concerned about the lack of experience, one must consider there is something to this. By reading her latest, we can see that not all is wine and roses, even in the liberal leaning MSM camp.

I am not sure she has convinced me to believe that the media's love affair with Mr. Obama has come to a complete end. And I won't, until I see him challenged on important issues. Yet, there's a sound of regret and concern that hasn't been sounded much, because Mr. Obama's sudden popularity and success beating a machine candidate from his own party has become the story.

As you may surmise from this, this has fed very well into the Obama campaign (and maybe even Obama, himself).

Up until now, he has laid a foundation that is not as easy to criticize, in that, most people want to see Washington change (except for those that benefit directly from it). Most people want to be a nation united, once again. And who wants to go around life thinking there is no hope for a vision of the future? His speeches (carefully crafted) have been enough to carry him over a candidate that is pretty much in line with his way of thinking, whose only differences are his charisma and charm and her lack thereof.

I suspect that when we get to see what Obama really stands for, we will all know that there isn't a dime's bit of difference between him and his other Democratic opponent, except for experience. And with the likability factor being such a strong issue, even left leaning journalists have to cringe at the notion of a Democratic candidate who relies heavily on personality and image, leading the way into the general election.

From the Carlson piece (about Paul Krugman, noted NYT liberal columnist):

Paul Krugman, also of the Times, fearing he'd been too subtle in his criticism of Obama, went ballistic over the Illinois senator's rhetoric. ``I won't try for fake evenhandedness here,'' he wrote. The Obama campaign is ``dangerously close to becoming a cult of personality.''

How poignant is that? It's not often I agree Mr. Krugman , but this hits it square in the bullseye.

While Obama wins the beauty contests that have been set before him, I think it is becoming more and more apparent that buyer's remorse may be starting to set in. Personality alone cannot win this election. George Bush (either one) did not win on personality, and neither will Obama. And when the hard questions are asked, it is becoming more likely that the wave Obama has been riding will come crashing down on him, in a sea of empty politics.

Of all of the things that I can say here and of all of the things the concerned punditry can say in their forums, the most poignant of all comes from someone you would least likely see linked to here, Roseanne Barr. In her 2-21-08 post, she says it well enough for the GOP to use her words in the general election. And you can bet they will. But even more directly, in her 2-23-08 post, she says this:

If you do not vote for Hillary Clinton, John Mccain will be your next president. Barack Obama's slide out of favor is just beginning in the media, and it couldn't have been more expertly timed.

I couldn't agree more, Roseanne.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Another Blast From The Past

Being the Rock & Roll fan that I am, I wasn't much of a fan of Disco Music when it first hit the scene in the 70s. Remember the Disco Sucks and Disco Is Dead crowd? That was me. But now that it's nostalgia, I have to say some of it was okay (with some being the operative word here). I still think much of it was cheesy and lame, but some it had some real unique sounds that were fun to listen to.

So this week, we depart from the usual rock format and pay tribute to a genre that will bring back memories of drinking, dancing, and chasing women in jam packed night clubs, on Saturday nights.

Warming things up is a song that truly captured pretty much the entire essence of the disco sound. Here is Amii Stewart and her mega hit from 1978, Knock On Wood:

One song was always a favorite with the ladies in the joint. Those of them that were recently dumped or were out because they knew it was a real possibility in the near future, really connected with it. I usually sat this one out, because this is the tune where the women usually made their statements (in varying stages of inebriation). To maintain any chance to get a phone number later in the evening, it was good to let them all go out and dance without the guys (blow off steam). Some people consider this the best disco song of all time, but I am not sure I go to superlative. (It is a good one, though.)This is a live version of the song. It features the original artist Gloria Gaynor with some help from Vicki Sue Robinson and Thelma Houston. The song is I Will Survive:

Disco lasted for the better part of a decade, spanning the latter part of the 70s and early 80s. Kool And The Gang was one group that carried the "happy hit the floor running" sounds of disco, into the 80s. They are best known for their mega-hit Celebration. But my favorite was a catchy little tune called, Fresh:

Rick James was one of those artists that had real engineering talent and the potential to do some great things with it. Up until he immersed himself in the sub-culture of drugs and weirdness, he had some success. He is best known for the song Super Freak. But again, to break ranks with the status quo, I want to share one that I liked far better. Here, he engineered a song that featured Eddie Murphy on vocals, It's called, Party All The Time:

No dance night club in the 80s could resist playing this next tune by the Gap Band. This was always guaranteed to pack the floor at peak times. It was usually played about three times a night. Here is probably my all-time favorite dance tune, its called You Dropped A Bomb On Me:


Friday, February 22, 2008

Recommended Reading

The latest Victor Davis Hanson essay is out and speaks of the elitism that prevails on the Democratic side of the road to the White House.

Michael Gerson sees the hit job on McCain by the NYT, as becoming the story. Read it here.

The American Thinker has a piece everyone should read before they cast their votes.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

China Wants Answers

After the U.S. has successfully shot down a falling satellite, China has demanded some answers. As a public service to those that do not speak Chinese, I will attempt to translate the Chinese government's official responses:

"China is continuing to closely follow the possible harm caused by the US action to outer space security and relevant countries," foreign ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said when asked for a reaction to the shootdown.

Translation: China is continuing to closely follow the harm to China's developing missile program, as is evidenced by the U.S. demonstrated ability to shoot down any object that is fired at the North American continent.

"China further requests that the US fulfil its international obligations in earnest and promptly provide to the international community the necessary information and relevant data... so that relevant countries can take precautions."

Translation: China further requests that all U.S. defense missile design plans and locations of said defense missiles be provided to the Chinese government for future use in the ongoing revival of the Cold War.

Note-I sincerely hope this helps clear up any misunderstandings caused by this language barrier.

Recommended Reading

Froma Harrop sometimes gets it right and other times gets it wrong. But in her latest op-ed piece. she has some things to think about. She (like yours truly) does not believe Obama can carry the independent vote. She makes some very good points, worthy of some serious consideration.

Mustang has some thoughts on the NYT's latest hit piece. If you have found yourself to be salivating over this "grasping at air" article, please keep in something in the forefront of your mind; these are the same people that brought you Jayson Blair and helped facilitate Dan Rather's ultimate demise, as a result of the Memogate case. They are not known for their journalistic integrity, anymore.

Noted journalist, Robert Samuelson has an op-ed piece that further advances what many already understand. How plain it is to those of us that utilize critical thinking to draw valid conclusions. How difficult it must be for those trying to complete Erickson's fifth developmental task, Identity Vs. Identity Confusion -- successfully.

It's not just the right wing radio talk show hosts that have trouble with Michelle Obama's recent statement:

"Hope is making a comeback and, let me tell you, for the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country. Not just because Barack is doing well, but I think people are hungry for change."

Carol Marin of the Chicago Sun-Times has plenty to say, as well.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Brain Erasure

Deep in the wilds of the cosmos comes the sights and sounds of a phenomenon that can only be described as intrinsic, esoteric, and ethereal. It's onset is gradual, but becomes more sudden as it takes hold of the collective psyche of the peripheral movement, known as Obamism. Without warning, it sets in. Without mercy, it invades the minds of the young, inexperienced, and often times immature.

Little is known of this calamity, it's etiology is a mystery. Without sound data, verifiable achievements, and lengthy longitudinal studies that waste money and time, we may never know the truth behind it. And while it cannot be adequately explained with any real clarity and certainty, we know that it exists and the courses of its manifestations are well-documented:

The only way to fight it is, to know what you believe in before you try to defend it.

HT: Atlas Shrugs

Tales Of Exaggeration And Extrapolation: Iraqi Death Totals

Hollywood has a way of telling a story. Even in the most factually-based tales, there usually seems to be an element of added drama and exaggeration to make the films more palatable and watchable.

Take actress Sharon Stone's recent complaint to an Arab newspaper, for instance.

"I feel at great pain when the spotlight is on the death of 4,000 American soldiers, while 600,000 Iraqi deaths are ignored," she said. "War is not a movie, it is a tragedy of dead bodies, victims, the disabled, orphans, widows and the displaced."

I read this and then wondered how so many people, like Ms. Stone could fall for such an outlandish figure as 600,000. So, I typed in a search of "600,000 Iraqi deaths" and here is what I found. In this search, we find articles from the NY Times and USA Today. In all of the articles that turn up in this search, the root of this figure is a study done in 2006 by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

From the the NYT article (emphasis is mine):

It is the second study by researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. It uses samples of casualties from Iraqi households to extrapolate an overall figure of 601,027 Iraqis dead from violence between March 2003 and July 2006.

The findings of the previous study, published in The Lancet, a British medical journal, in 2004, had been criticized as high, in part because of its relatively narrow sampling of about 1,000 families, and because it carried a large margin of error.

The new study is more representative, its researchers said, and the sampling is broader: it surveyed 1,849 Iraqi families in 47 different neighborhoods across Iraq. The selection of geographical areas in 18 regions across Iraq was based on population size, not on the level of violence, they said.

The word extrapolate is defined as :

1: to infer (values of a variable in an unobserved interval) from values within an already observed interval

2 a: to project, extend, or expand (known data or experience) into an area not known or experienced so as to arrive at a usually conjectural knowledge of the unknown area b: to predict by projecting past experience or known data intransitive verb

When one sees this word, one must be reasonably cautious of the conclusions being drawn, in a given piece of information. This is especially true when dealing with matters that are presented as fact, with no real hard evidence to support it.

In the case of this study, the NYT ran with this story without much thought as to the reader's ability to put it into the proper perspective. Subsequently, many like Ms. Stone have come away with this as a credible establishment of fact. Granted, the onus of responsibility lies squarely with the reader. But, too many people that are predisposed to believe this study (because they want to) and those that are too busy to do their own research and analysis are going to come away with this as, a firmly established truth.

I doubt the NYT is the only news outlet that did this. But as we can see from the USA Today article covering the same story, there is some reasonable attempt to put this into a comparative perspective with other sources:

Iraq's Health Ministry has estimated 50,000 violent deaths since the war began, through June. Last December, President Bush put the figure at 30,000. The Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank, estimated the death toll at 60,000.

The Iraqi and U.S. governments may have reason to skew the number downward, but the Brookings Institute is hardly a tool of either government. And if anything, it may be predisposed to be critical of both.

So, where does one go when one wants better information in this area? The Iraqi Body Count (IBC) website is an objective source of information. Keeping in mind that the articles reporting on the study were written in 2006, the IBC puts today's total in the 80,000 range.

Why is there such disparity in claims?

Again, from the USA Today's article:

The research relied on random sampling of 1,800 Iraqi households by researchers from the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and the School of Medicine at Al Mustansiriya University in Baghdad. Based on deaths suffered by those households, analysts calculated an average of about 600 deaths a day since the invasion.

The methodology from IBC:

Iraq Body Count restricts its published database to documented (not inferred, extrapolated or otherwise estimated) deaths of civilians from post-invasion violence in Iraq, established to the standard of evidence specified below.

The key word here is documented.

Sampling from Iraqi households is not the preferred method of reaching an established truth for many reasons. The same holds true of any survey, where documentation is not used.

As for the total reached by IBC, 88,000 is still a lot of people. But it does not lie squarely at the feet of the coalition forces. Many of those deaths were caused by the insurgency, Iraqi-led, Al Qaida-led, or others. Even if the Johns Hopkins figures were accurate, it still begs for perspective. One only needs to contrast that number with the 55 million killed in WWII and they can clearly see the difference (if they are truly objective, that is).

So, the next time you hear someone say there has been 600,000 Iraqis killed since the beginning of the war, you can know with some certainty that the person throwing this number out, probably has a pre-disposition to believe the worst case scenario. Maybe you can ask him/her what his/her screen name is, on the Daily Kos.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

News In Brief (And The Usual Opinionated Commentary)

AC, at Fore Left, has some analysis on the Obama candidacy and the grand plans that Obama has for the country, but doesn't necessarily communicate in his speeches. As we learn more about Obama and his plans for America, one has to wonder how well those plans will go over, once they are analyzed and critiqued.

Lawrence Kudlow, an economist, has some analysis on Obama's vision for the country. As you may expect, what little Obama has revealed, certainly has "big government" written all over it. Read this and you'll quickly see why, it's no wonder he is opting for the "feel good" speeches and isn't openly promoting his plans at his rallies.

At least Hillary Clinton articulates her anti-capitalist, socialist agenda. Read about what she says, she plans to do.

Mustang, at Social Sense, has some questions on the recent rash of school shootings, in his latest post. With some interesting things to note in the comments section, as well. I wonder how many more of these will have to occur before the faculty senates at these universities start screaming for the right to carry licensed, concealed weapons.

MSNBC is reporting some rude behavior of one Obama supporter at a rally for Hillary Clinton in Ohio. Obama's campaign has become well-adept at using surrogates to do the dirty work for them. (Here is the article.) Read it and see who you think the aggressor was in this instance.

Kosovo's parliament has declared full independence from Serbia. Before you think this is a justified action, ask yourself what you would think if one of our states were to declare independence from the union.

Here's a study that won't make the NBC Nightly News. Some consensus, huh? (Hat Tip: Neal Boortz)

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Another Blast From The Past

Very few bands today have the star power to pack stadiums for a concert. Some can do it with a strong line-up of opening acts. But this weekend's featured band last performed this feat in 1994, with no opening acts.

Two of their albums were on the Billboard Top 100 for years after their releases.

Their sound is one of the most unique sounds in rock music. And outside of a few songs here and there, there is no other act that has truly captured it with any real consistency. Their resume is long and deep. For this reason, it is impossible to feature them all. So, alas, I know some time-tested classics have been left out.

I was able to catch this band on their 1994 world tour, which promoted their release of the same year, the Division Bell. The band is Pink Floyd.

The first song is a tune that runs through my head, whenever I hear the two Democratic Presidential candidates speak of what they want to do, if elected. It's off of their first smash hit album, Dark Side Of The Moon. The song is Money:

The follow up album to Dark Side was one that pushed the envelope in the world of classical rock. Here is the title track of that album, Wish You Were Here:

There are few bands that are able pull off an entire song complete with vocals, without lyrics. But in this next song from Dark Side Of The Moon, they do it and do it so well. Here is The Great Gig In The Sky:

From The Division Bell release, comes this next one. This is a song that puts the listener in a small village somewhere in England. It didn't get as much attention as their earlier cuts, as they were very hard to follow up with. But if you haven't heard this one, you haven't heard Pink Floyd, like they were meant to be heard. Here is High Hopes:

Finally, we have another tune from Dark Side, it's one every fan will recognize. I would say with so many good songs, it's hard to pick a favorite. But if I had to, this would be one of them. Here is Time:

Note-Their two albums that were on the charts for years were: 1) Dark Side Of The Moon. 2) The Wall.

I didn't get any up from The Wall this time. But I will on the next go around, someday.


Friday, February 15, 2008

The Romney Endorsement

A funny thing happened yesterday on the way to the forum. Mitt Romney, who wasn't too happy with his (then) rival McCain a short time ago, endorsed him.

Here is one report that can be found on this story.

...Mitt Romney put personal animosity toward John McCain aside for the good of the party, aides say.

I am not sure they like each other still. But it looks like Romney could have a couple of intentions here.

1. Like the quoted statement, he is wanting to put aside his differences and support the eventual nominee for the good of his party. Good for the party, good for the country.

2. He wanted to stick it to Huckabee, one last time. In no way, do I believe this was his primary objective or intention. It's just one of those secondary gains that come as an added bonus, if you act now while supplies last.

I think it is a safe bet that Romney's delegates will go with McCain (which means he could go well over the top, in the next primary or two).

Huckabee and the evangelical force seriously need to give up of their bid to split the party, over theologically-based social issues. I say this mainly, because 1) it isn't working to any real degree, 2)it risks creating an electoral environment that will put a bigger spender and far more socially liberal politician in office (certainly more than McCain would ever be).

I am sorry, but they just have to get over it. It does their cause no good to embattle on over trivial things, and it will not help them in future elections or debates. Hardcore conservatives like Dobson, Limbaugh and Coulter wanting to have a Democrat over McCain, is childish, silly, and foolish. And they may get their wish, if they do not shape up.

Obama isn't saying a hell of a lot of things, except feel good stuff. He wants us to believe that he has the magic wand that will work. So, one is only left to extrapolate that he will do the will of those that support him, which is tax and spend. Take from the rich and give to the poor. Is that what we want?

Hillary tells us what she will do, up front. But every time I hear her promises, I hear the sounds of an old manual cash register go off in my head, only to be followed my this fade-in of the song Money, by Pink Floyd. I see dollars with wings fly out of my wallet and into the government's. I, then, see it fly out of their hands into the hands of those that abuse it and waste it.

It's not bad when a candidate can produce "well synchronized" audio and visual hallucinations, all in the same breath. (And never take a drug to do it.) But I haven't got time to worry about those kinds of things, I'd rather stay rooted in reality.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Setting The Record Straight

This is the text of HR 2082.

I am sure, most of you have better things to do than comb the entire resolution wording. Watching paint dry would certainly be more fun.

But there is one section that is pertinent to this post:

(Sec. 327) Prohibits any individual under the custody or control of an IC element, regardless of nationality or physical location, from being subject to any treatment or technique of interrogation not authorized by the U.S. Army Field Manual on Human Intelligence Collector Operations.

Here is the entire roll call vote, and here are the votes of the remaining candidates in the United States Presidential race, on this very resolution:

1. Clinton Not Voting

2. McCain Yea Nay

3. Obama Not Voting

It's common for Presidential candidates to skip votes, during a presidential campaign. This is especially true when the votes are minuscule. But when the vote is important enough and is a politically defining vote that will give voters some information (on where a candidate stands on a particular issue), it's usually a good thing to show up.

It's easily noted, Obama and Clinton didn't show up. McCain did.

If you stand with the administration on this, you can say what you want about McCain's vote, as it certainly is your right. You can criticize him for not standing with the President on this one, but to full understand it, you must be cognizant of where McCain got his convictions on this one -- as a POW in the Hanoi Hilton. (Being in a brutal POW camp has a way of shaping a man's thinking, differently from those of us, who haven't.)

Agree with him or not, he took a definitive stand.

Obama and Clinton didn't deem it necessary to vote, probably because they didn't want to go on record. By going on the record, they make known the fact that what they are saying in the campaign is what they truly believe. They didn't and who can really tell what they believe.

But, we can surmise.

We know that they state in their speeches, their belief that their should be no instances of waterboarding and other harsh interrogation techniques not included in the
U.S. Army Field Manual on Human Intelligence Collector Operations (under any circumstances). But can we really know for sure? We know that they condemn the Administration for it, at every possible turn. But can we say definitively, this is how they feel (absent a written record that can be accessed)?

We must be ever mindful of the fact that politicians hate to be pinned down (which goes for both Democrats and Republicans). Those that are adeptly skilled in the art of BS, understand why that is. If they do not commit, they have the option of changing their minds down the road. They can say what they want to their base, in order to secure the nomination. But let's be honest about this, they know there are times that they may have to renege.

If you want a prime example of this, look at how the Democrats swore up and down, they would end the war (if only we would give them a chance). They knew they couldn't. They knew they didn't have the votes, but they made people think they would, before they cast their votes in the 2006 mid-terms. I mean, give them some credit here. They know that once elected, if there is a scenario that comes along that may require them to change their minds, they can use that option with less political fallout. To them, a lie during stump speech is not nearly as bad as voting for or against a proposal, then changing minds afterward.

So as we wind our way through the phenomenon that has come to be known as Obamamania, let's do some critical thinking along the way. Do we want to cast our votes based on what we know, or what we don't know? I know what my answer is (on this one).

I think this was a good move by McCain. He took one of the Democrat's mantras and made it public record.

They skated the vote, so they don't have to take heat for it down the road. But it gave McCain one more talking point, and steals one of the Dems' signature issues right from under their feet. (Target: Moderates) It also paints a visual image of a candidate that isn't afraid to define himself.

It may not seem like much right now, but this will come up again down the road in the campaign (regardless of who gets the nod from the Dems).


AC at Fore Left has some added perspective on this vote.

Yet, another addendum:

It seems that in my extreme fatigue, I failed to note that McCain voted "Nay" on the resolution. Credit to AC for pointing it out. As a result some of the post may not be applicable, but the underlying theme of the post is still intact, which is: Obama and Clinton didn't even vote, while McCain did.

(If I had an editor, I'd fire him/her)

Grief And Sedition

Just when you think you've seen it all, something like this comes along.

U.S. peace activist Cindy Sheehan pressed Egypt on Wednesday to free members of the opposition Muslim Brotherhood who are on trial in a military court, urging leniency for the sake of their families.

Egypt sent 40 members of the Brotherhood including its No. 3, Khairat el-Shater, to a military court a year ago. The men, six of whom are being tried in absentia, are the first Brotherhood members to face military trials since 2001.

I have been fairly easy on Cindy, when others have not been. She lost a son, I know she has grieved. I cannot imagine how she must feel, nor do I want to. I've tried my best to put myself in her place.

I fully understand that grief, when not dealt with appropriately, can cause some terrible psychological side effects. Sometimes a person will do some things they otherwise, wouldn't do.
For this reason, I have given her a pass on the stupid things she says and does.

But something has to give here.

People have a perfect right be anti-war. They have the right to want the troops home now. But there has to be a limit on a private citizen, getting involved in foreign affairs, especially when the sensitive subject of political extremism is involved. It's one thing to visit Hugo Chavez and denigrate her country, it's quite another to protest for an extremist group against a foreign government, on that foreign government's soil.

Maybe it's time to get the AG involved to see if she has broken any laws and do an intervention. If not, she's going to push the limits too far sometime, and really regret it later.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Saying Goodbye To An Educator

A blip came up on the "relevant story" radar screen last week. An educator retired. He is as legendary and complex, as he is enigmatic. He is a man that has worn many hats.

They say timing is everything, especially in the world of public relations. With the Super Bowl and the election process in full swing, there may be a few people that missed it; and this is probably how the subject of this story wanted it, quiet and subtle, with as little fanfare as possible. He did not want to create an emotional storyline or endure some sentimental farewell tour, while there were hotter topics to talk about. He just wanted to slip away, on his terms and at a time of his choosing.

If you do not recognize the name of this teacher, you do not know much about basketball. If so, you have missed a lot.

His household name is Bobby Knight, the winningest Division I Men's Basketball coach in history. And if that was his only successful role in life, he still would be envied by many. But the complex man known in Bloomington and Lubbock was more.

Most of the country didn't see what we were able to see. But even in Indiana, he had his detractors. They loved him or they hated him. But he sold tickets, his teams played hard for him. Three of them played so damned hard, they got to cut down nets after the last game of the season. Not unlike political figures, this man was either demonized or deified. It all depended who you were talking to.

When it came to coaching basketball, there was none like him (before or after). They certainly broke that mold, when they made him. He was a revolutionary, both offensively and defensively. His real love (that is to say, where he placed his greatest emphasis) was defense. His philosophy was simple, if you play hard-nosed defense and take away your opponent's ability to get the shots they want, you can still have an off night shooting, and still win the game.

When the legendary Coach John Wooden was winning his titles at UCLA in the 60s and 70s, college played zone defense. There were some real tough zones, mind you. But Wooden's teams were exceptional at it. This is one reason why he brought man-to-man to college ball. I suspect he knew, the only way to beat a team like UCLA was to beat them with man-to-man. For years, he only played man-to-man. But in his later years, he relented and alternated the two.

Offensively, he taught patience. Passing was every bit as important as shooting. He brought the motion offense that has become common in many successful programs, to a new level. His offenses did not run and gun, the only time they were allowed to take the ball to the hoop was when you had no one in front of you. And, there was no rest for those that tried and didn't make it. He wanted discipline, perseverance, and diligence. He didn't want to see a lot of hot dogging. Sometimes I think he inspired Nike to write the slogan, "just do it". That was the bottom line with him.

But it doesn't end there. He was also a humanitarian.

He raised money, gave money, and helped people that needed help. In fact, he still does. He does his best work behind the scenes, where he likes it to be done. He isn't in the habit of doing good things, simply for positive publicity. He doesn't do things against the rules, there's no funny business with his players. But after they graduate, he has helped many along the way. They are no longer his players, they are his friends.

One must take special note that Knight doesn't just give money, he gives his time too. Money you can get back, time you cannot. This is a far more important entity to him.

One incident that I can recall fairly accurately (off the top of my head) is the incident that got buried in the sports sections around the country. I read about it in a few short paragraphs deeply embedded in Reader's Digest (where readers submit their stories).

The reader sent in (and they published) the story of how Knight came upon a big wreck after Indiana had won the title in 87, on I-10 outside New Orleans. He saw that the man was wanting to go to the hospital with his wife, but did not want to leave the wrecked car at the mercy of looters. The husband looked up at some man directing traffic, taking charge of the scene, and instantly recognized him. In awe, he looked at this towering guy with gray hair and said, "You're Bob Knight".

Knight replied, "yes, but that's not important now". He then sent the husband to the hospital in the ambulance with his wife, while he stayed at the scene until the wrecker came. When the husband told his wife the story, she gave him permission to throw all of the chairs he wanted to.

If you watch him enough, you'll find that he can be a comedian sometimes. He's a very funny guy, when he wants to be. Here is his first interview, since announcing his retirement:

You will likely note that a sports media personality was not among the first to get a crack at him. He had a very stormy relationship with the press. And the truth be told, it was definitely to his detriment. When the firing came from IU, it was his combative relationship with them that tipped the scale against retention.

Here is one instance where, as frustrated as he was, he was able to entertain his way out (instead of walking out):

Laugh if you will, it's where I learned to read a crystal ball.

But let's be clear here, not all encounters went this smooth.

But in spite of his nasty temper, he was able to convince parents to send their kids to play for him. Interestingly enough, those same kids were fully aware what this man was like and about, They knew it going in, and yet, they still elected to play for him. So, I have very little compassion for those that knew this, decided to play for him, and then whined about how mean he was afterward.

He demanded class attendance and making good grades, long before it was required to have a "C" average and fashionable to call them "student" athletes. He had the highest graduation rate of any in his profession. Needless to say, these young men he taught to play a kid's game, were taught more about life than anything else. At least that's what the bulk of his players will tell you.

Just having 4 years of Indiana basketball on a resume told a prospective employer, something important about the applicant: This person could probably withstand more pressure than the employer could dish out, on his/her worst day. This was just as true for benchwarmers, as it was starters (maybe even more so).

In the end, the game he loved so well has surely passed him up. Being the purist he is, it's hard for him to coach the kids of today, as they are surely different. He doesn't like the one year rule, before turning pro. Not only that, many coaches have adjusted to his style. In fact, they even mimic it against his team, because it's a very effective strategy. This year when you watch a tournament game or two, be sure to watch the style of the offenses. Be sure to watch the ball movement and the pump fake passes that throw a zone off balance. Be sure to watch the pressure man-to-man defense of the teams that go deep into the tournament.If you do, you will see what he brought to the game.

His time is over in coaching at the NCAA level. But I cannot imagine that he will be able to stay away from the game, for too long. If nothing else, you'll see him teaching his grandchildren to shoot, dribble, pass, and yes, play high pressure defense. I also think he'll teach lessons about life to whoever will listen. And you can bet he will not stop doing good when it is in the power of his hand to do so.

Until then, PYY wishes him a long healthy retirement. He's earned it.

One more soundbite as he rides off into the sunset, ESPN's Top Ten Soundbites from Coach Robert Montgomery Knight:

Stay in touch coach and wave when you see us.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Immigration Myth Debunked

For those that have been skeptical about the efficacy of enforcing employment laws, in the matter of hiring illegal immigrants, you might want to read this story.

Illegal immigrants are coming into Texas, but not from where one might think. The rush is coming from Arizona, Oklahoma and other states -- places that have recently passed tough new anti-illegal immigrant laws.

The two toughest measures are in Arizona and Oklahoma.

If the law was being enforced at the federal level, in every state, this would be another case of "long story short/problem solved".

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Selling The Drama. Buying Into Reality

It's common for people to refer to people younger than themselves, as kids. I find myself doing it to people that I knew as kids; and I did it, despite the fact they may now be in their 30's. I work with these kids sometimes, and I have to say that some of them are really quite bright and talented. Not only that, they have a certain energy level and the resilience to go with it. They are some most impressive young people, you'd ever want to meet.

Yet, despite their excellent attributes, there are certain instances where they remain a bit impetuous and impulsive. Try as some of them might, they don't always think things through long enough. Something sounds good, they want it, sometimes they get it, and occasionally it's not long before they are sorry. Occasionally, some of them will screw something up so bad, they will break down, humble themselves, and ask us older people to fix it.

Most of the time it only involves the small things, but there are times, when it doesn't. I have seen some pretty silly things done by those that really should know better. Just when I have think I have seen it all, something new comes up. And suddenly I become the old sage in the cave that has all the answers, and they are usually answers that were given to them before the situation unfolded, in the form of a fatherly warning (whether they are mine or not).

You see, usually as people age, experience slowly begins to set in and they have a tendency to do more critical thinking before making important decisions. They take their time and think it through. Certainly, it is not true in all cases. But I think it is, more times than not.

The point is, they either learn or they don't. Those that do, happy are they. Those that don't, become destined to repeat the same things over and over, until they have a negative outcome and their lives become ruined. Those that continually make the bad decisions do not think about how the decisions may affect others. If they want something, they do whatever they can to get it, repercussions be damned. Pretty soon, patterns will set in.

With this comes a deeply rooted desire to seek that which is new and untried, at as far as they're concerned. Their ego-centrism draws them to risky adventures, like mice to cheese.

In 1960, there was such a generation. They were the first generation of boomers and when it came their turn to vote for a President, they looked at a young man that had been a war hero in WWII, had served in the U.S House of Representatives for six years, and the Senate for eight. They sized him up and saw that for a politician, he offered a hope, vision, and a new opportunity for change. After seeing what he had to offer, they rolled the dice and took a chance on him, over two "politics as usual" machine candidates.

Today, we have the same scenario brewing. At least that's what we are being told.

But is this really the case?

This presidential campaign has an element of "youth vs. experience" theme already developing. And with good reason, the people of Obama's campaign want to make this a similar situation to the election of 1960. One of the areas this has become noticeable is Obama's speech writing. The speech writers are consulting JFK's old speech writer for their candidate's speeches.

It's no accident the Kennedy magic has infused itself into the campaign of Barack Obama. Theodore "Ted" Sorensen, the adviser whom John F. Kennedy once called his "intellectual blood bank," is lending his unabashed support -- and eloquence -- to the Obama campaign.

"Passing the torch", "new ideas", "new generation", or some other catchy slogans are going to become a catch phrases in the midst of this campaign, if Obama gets the nomination. We can see it coming and yet, on the surface, this doesn't pose too much of a question. It's quite apparent to astute people that have watched this game played before, the people that got JFK elected are now trying to engineer another such task (one more time before they die). They are doing this by selling Obama as the second coming of JFK and using his people from that day, to do it. They are selling influence to these young people, to satisfy their need to re-live their youth and for their own empowerment.

So it is, if we do some critical analysis here, we find that there is one thing that we should ask ourselves before we make the final decision on who will get our vote. If this campaign truly wants to have the torch passed to them, why would they feel the need to consult a veteran from JFK's Administration? Can't they write their own speeches?

It's not enough that Barack Obama is not a true liberal after the JFK mold. JFK was more experienced in government, was a WWII veteran, and was far from being a proponent of "nanny-state style" socialism. He served a total of 14 years in the U.S. Government, Obama has served 10 years less. I see no real connection between JFK and Obama, except for age. So, forgive me if I sound so skeptical, it just doesn't add up.

So, when we listen to the coming sales pitches in the following days, weeks, and months; let's keep something in mind. It's nice to want to re-live some of our youth. It truly was a special time, full of innocence and vigor. But, ask yourself if it makes sense to force the past on the present day generation. By that I mean, JFK was the man for the time he lived in, not now. That was then, this is now.

I could say the same thing to the Republicans that want their candidate to be Ronald Reagan. His day is also past. This is now. And we must focus on the here and now, if we are to be successful at solving the problems that are occurring now. Now is the time to look at experience and substance, not reviving ghosts of those that served in years past.

But I suppose I could save all of this explanation and pose it to you another way: Knowing and loving our kids as we all do, can we really be comfortable letting them pick some novice that says nothing about anything, except change, vision, and hope? If so, maybe you feel comfortable letting them manage your retirement portfolio?


AC of Fore Left has a post with some thoughts on this subject that are worth a look, complete with links to some videos that are pertinent to this discussion. I left a comment on his post that I would like to share here, as well:

Barack Obama is an excellent speaker, he knows how to inspire people. Of this, there can be no doubt. But when the time comes to lay out specific stances on specific issues, he will need to have more than just Speech Communications 101 on his college transcripts.

Where McCain will have to concentrate is on those specific issues where Obama will have to reveal what he believes in. I don't think many Americans have much to disagree with in what he has said thus far, mainly because he hasn't said anything that could be contradicted.

I believe in hope, vision, and change (as long as its truly needed and is healthy), I believe in returning America to a prominent standing in the world, and I certainly welcome feeling good about being an American again. But, taking the nation down an uncertain path is not going to guarantee any of this will come to pass. Avoiding the subject of how he plans to do all of this, is not going to do it, either.

Bottom line:

Looking at the problems we face through rose colored glasses will not solve any of these problems. Solutions do not come through feel good speeches and catchy slogans. They come through critical analysis and discussions, and even at that, there is no real guarantee anything will be solved. Emotions are hard to argue with, as we are all emotional beings. But the best leaders do not lead by emotion, they lead by intellect and showing great perseverance through adversity.

Another Addendum:

Note the respondents of the exit poll from the California primary.

This is not a candidacy altogether about race. Obama won 63% of the white vote, age 18-29. He also won the 53% of the 30-44, whites. But the interesting part of that linked page is, 91% said he was the most qualified to be Commander-In-Chief.

Another point to consider, Obama is winning red states. That may hurt him more in the race for electors, because those states will likely stay red anyway.