Who says politics can’t be amusing?

Obama a ‘blank screen’ I honesty started laughing upon reading the article and got even more chuckles from the posted comments. It’s a good reminder that what you say can come back and kick you in the pants.

Seriously, though, I wonder at Obama’s inability to handle being confronted by his inadequacies as a potential president, seeming to prefer to chant his fluff filled mantra of “Change We Can Believe In”. Simply dismissing valid points like national security as “fear mongering” makes me wonder if Obama’s possible presidency will take the Ostrich Principle to Governance: bury our heads in the dirt and hope the problems goes away.

McCain’s “I’m a proud conservative, liberal Republican” moment:

Record Number of Americans in Prison

Record Number of Americans in Prison  This is just plain scary to consider that roughly 1% of the population of the US is incarcerated. Part of this problem has arisen from mandatory sentencing laws for relatively minor offenses. Arizona’s mandatory sentencing laws, for example, have resulted in prison sentences for non-violent drug abusers, property crimes, and DUIs. While I fully support criminals being held to account for their crimes, for some cases there are viable (and cheaper) alternatives  to try first before incarceration: electronic tagging, community service, drug and alcohol rehabilitation for substance abusers, mandatory reparations for property crimes, and loss of license and permanent seizure of all vehicles owned by non-fatal or non-injuring DUI offenders are but just a few examples. On other words, better sentencing laws that return common sense and reason to the courts and juries. This is obviously not an easy issue to resolve, but it is one that Americans need to look at seriously and question how and why the situation has arisen.

Can muck have two sides?

Apparently it can. I’m fed up with all the ridiculous attempts to smear candidates or come up with outrageous and inane excuses to invalidate their respective campaigns.

I start with the latest asinine assertion by the Democratic Party:

John McCain Not a US Citizen, therefore ineligible to become President.  I got to love the complete and utter nonsense of this claim by those opposed to McCain. Are these people that pathetic and desperate or are they simply completely and utterly stupid? I betting on the latter on this point. Any US citizen who attended public school should know that the Panama Canal Zone was a territory at the time McCain was born there and thus automatically a U.S. citizen, just like Barry Goldwater was a citizen even though he was born in Arizona when it was a territory. It doesn’t matter if the PCZ was never incorporated into the United States and instead later turned over to Panama.

And from the Republicans:

Barrack Obama is a Muslim. As if someone’s religion automatically makes someone an enemy of the state. Get real. Anyone who subscribes to notion that loyalty to the United States is determined by their religion is a utter moron. Add to the fact that Obama is a Christian and the claim gets downright idiotic. Obama wearing traditional Kenyan (not Somali as erroneously stated by the ill informed) garb is also irrelevant. Hate mongering and pandering only feed into the perception that Americans, and Republicans in particular, are hateful bigots and Christian right wing nut bags.

Knock off the muckraking and let the candidates debate. If you want to attack each other, back it up with facts and positions not innuendo and intentional misinterpretation of our nation’s Constitution and laws. Perhaps I’m too much expecting a measure of intelligence, maturity and decorum to these political campaigns since they all keep claiming to want to be different than past campaigns.

News Commentary 02.28.2008

Exchange Student Starved While in Egypt I feel sorry to see that this young man had such a horrible student exchange experience. Something is definitely up if he came back so skinny. It makes me wonder what AFS is up to. I know in my own student exchange experience there was no discouraging kids from contacting their families and friends while away but maybe that was because I was in a monitored program. But then again, the exchange was part of a push to normalize relations between the USA and the Soviet Union by getting the average people to know one another.

Cleveland Clinkers This is why I love FactCheck.Org and other groups like them. They strip away all the b.s. from all sides and try to get to the simple facts. Too bad more voters don’t read sites like this more often. They wouldn’t be suckered so much.

Boyd Coddington’s  Death  A car building legend passes on.

Wooing Women Gamers I’m not surprised in the least at the number of women playing games. I’m glad to see the number of women getting into the gaming industry growing as well despite concerns of male domination in the industry hindering women’s advances. As far as being a gamer, I guess I’m lucky so far in that playing games I have yet to be harassed by a man resentful that I play a game well.

Clinton camp highlights Obama’s chairmanship What concerns me about this is the fact Mr. Obama had an opportunity to gain some credentials for international policies, in this case the subcommittee on Europe, and chose to ignore the challenge and opportunity aside from two ambassadorial nominations. A President cannot simply ignore international concerns. I can forgive a President candidate lacking experience, but not one who seems to avoid gaining that necessary experience.

5 questions for the future President

These are 5 questions I would love to hear the Presidential candidates answer, though I doubt they will at this time (if ever). Some obviously are of more immediate concern than others.

  1.  What would you do to ensure consumable food crops (wheat, soy, corn, etc.) are not diverted to the production of bio-fuels or are not used as a pretext to charge outrageous prices on foodstuff as result of increasing use of bio-fuels?
  2. Where do you stand on Net Neutrality?
  3. How to you plan to pay off the national debt and/or eliminate the deficit?
  4. How would strengthen political, social, and economic ties with Liberia and other African nations? For that matter any of our allied nations?
  5. Do you support or not support the concept of the unitary executive and, if so, to what extent?

World News Commentary 02.27.2008

Dollar hits records low against Euro This isn’t all a bad thing as some would believe. It makes American exports more lucrative to sell in Europe since they’re cheaper. It also may appeal to cost conscious Europeans to visit the United States on holiday.

Chavez to boot English terms from business I used to get amusement from Chavez’s antics but they’re increasingly boring. I mean really, since it was the US that developed so much of the world’s computer technology, it’s logical that as an English speaking country, English would be applied to the devices. That doesn’t mean other nations have to use the terms in their language. If they chose to do so, then so be it. How Chavez equates that with “cultural imperialism” is beyond me, especially since English is taught in Venezuelan schools. I know it’s just more bluster for a man desperate to divert attention away from his inability to fix Venezuela’s problems with his implementation of socialist and communist principles.

Microsoft fined a record $1.3 billion Well they did defy an EU antitrust order so I can’t feel much sympathy for the company there and have a history of defying government decisions and requirements. International business can be so tricky to understand at times, even for those in that industry. I guess we’ll see where this goes from here.

NAFTA Thoughts

While the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is by far no where near perfect I find myself becoming annoyed by the panderers and politicians who play upon the fears of workers and citizens and make promises they know cannot come to fruition. Despite what people think NAFTA has been good for the US, overall. Just go read the numbers. The facts are globalization is a reality and the US has far outstripped the rest of the world when it comes to succeeding in world trade.

So, why are the presidential nominees going on about how they’re going to pull out of NAFTA or get it changed to supposedly get American jobs back from those foreign lands? Do American workers realize that Canadians and Mexicans feel that the United States has unfairly taken away jobs and opportunities from them? In fact many feel the United States have profited largely at their expense, especially those in agricultural. What is often ignored in the US about lost jobs is that often these losses have nothing to do with NAFTA but instead incentives and tax breaks to increase productivity, the use of automation, investment in foreign nations, industries, and business, outsourcing jobs to foreign nations (like India), and so on. That being said that doesn’t mean measures could not be put in place to eliminate these incentives for companies to strip citizens of their jobs.

So then we come to the candidates: the indifferent, the negotiator, and the re-trainer.

Obama’s indifferent, utterly direction-less and vision-less campaign makes some bland promise about calling the leaders of Canada and Mexico in order to change the agreement. This shows his complete lack of sophistication involved with international politics and negotiation of treaties, not to mention giving an odd impression of one thinking he can simply crank up the charm and avoid the complexities involved. The other problem lay in Obama believing the government can make and control jobs that may or my not be well paying.

Clinton, being a (former?) supporter of NAFTA, at least understands the ramifications of the treaty and the need for all three nations to negotiate their concerns: United States – industry, Canada – environment, Mexico – agriculture. I like that she gives actual workable options to address US concerns in this area from both within the US by eliminating tax breaks and incentives for outsourcing, for example, as well as without. At least Clinton gives solid examples of what she would do versus the etherealness of Obama’s words.

McCain is a strong supporter of NAFTA. Despite efforts on some to demonize his support of free trade (NAFTA, CAFTA, etc) McCain has also proposed ideas to mitigate potentially lost jobs: educational opportunities, retraining, modernization, and overhauling unemployment insurance programs. All of these you would think unions would be supportive of since it ensures their members have some recourse in the event of lost jobs due to technological and trade advancements. He does seem weak on environmental concerns associated with NAFTA.

Kosovo Posturing

Putin warns Kosovo will ‘come back to knock’ the West, as NATO envoy lashes out Great, more threats from a Russian government official stuck in a Cold War era mentality of bully, threaten, and kill anyone who disagrees with them. It’s a wonder Russia is as well off as it is since Putin gained power and started his idiotic scheme to regain some supposedly lost Russian glory.

The Cold War ended, no one died en mass on either side, be happy, and get over it. Russian buildings and infrastructure have been severely neglected in recent years so I have to wonder why the Russian government is so keen on ignoring it’s severe problems in favor of building up an over bloated military, dealing with political and economic problems, and fixing their ailing transportation systems. I’ve met far too many Russian immigrants here in the U.S. who left Russia because these problems.

<blockquote>Russia “will proceed from the assumption that to be respected, we have to use brute military force,” he said.</blockquote>

This from the mouth of Dmitri Rogozin, Russia’s NATO “ambassador”. It appear Mr. Rogozin ascribes too much importance to the old russian saying of being better to be feared than respected. Too bad it’s a saying that is completely out of step with modern political thinking. Such ideology belongs to the mentality of small minded thugs and dictators. Russia will never gain the respect internationally they believe they deserve as long as they approach everything with military threats, bullying, and aggressive posturing instead of promoting Russia’s cultural, technological, social, and humanitarian efforts and achievements.

Serbia: U.S. to blame on violence Ah yes, the U.S. embassy flew in hundreds of American hooligans and criminals to torch their own building just to make Serbs look bad. </snark> Seriously, though, ignoring the inane Serbian nationalistic rhetoric, the local Serbian authorities do appear to be making something of an effort to track down, arrest, and prosecute the rioters involved in attacking embassies. So I give credit for that.

So for those interested in seeing other viewpoints on Kosovo:

Serbian Government Web site (which was actually hidden as another website serbiainfo.com implying it was independent of government control, so take from that what you will)

New Kosova Report A pro Kosovo news and information site.