An upstart political blog aspiring to keep alive the faint spirit of bipartisanship.
Your hosts: "On the Left" Mark Quincy Adams & "On the Right" Big Daddy Jeff

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The First Debate

I suppose I'm one of the 19% of the audience at whom these debates are ultimately targeted -- the notorious undecided voter.

The University of Mississippi debate was interesting. In many regards, it got this deabte season off to a good start. I liked the format. Jim Lehrer did a good job and I was impressed at the way he forced the candidates to address each other for a change. Both candidates seemed to perform well and I will give them credit for that.

Nobody bombed, nobody won. In general, I thought this was still one of those debates where the person you supported beforehand is the one you think won it afterward.

However, they didn't perform flawlessly. Both candidates ducked the serious issue of the economy. I expected more out of the debate's first 30 minutes, especially after McCain threatened not to show because economic conditions were so on his mind. And Obama could have and should have done much better here as well.

In a superficial side note, I'm not sure which of the following annoys me more: Barack's habit of stuttering his initial words to buy time so that he may come out with the perfect rehearsed answer or McCain's insistence on using the same dumb joke lines over and over?

Hey John McCain, uh, uh, uh, I was just wondering, were you elected Miss Congeniality of the Senate or Miss Anything for that matter? If so, that knowledge may affect my vote.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

John McCain and College Football

John McCain has not yet sounded better to me than he did in an interview with ESPN reporter Bob Ley for SportsCenter this past weekend.

First of all, McCain granted the sit-down at a NASCAR race at which he attended to pander for votes. He gets immediate kudos for doing that from the gear head in me.

However, in general I haven't hidden my dislike of John McCain and intention not to vote for him. In fact, in this very interview Bob Ley brought up one of my biggest problems with the Republican nominee:

Just 3 years ago, the well-known Las Vegas gambler Senator McCain introduced legislation that would make wagering on college football games illegal.

That's right. McCain is free to regularly drop $20,000 of his wife's money at the craps tables. He's free to attend all the big boxing matches in Vegas that are literally fueled by gambling. However, he wants all legal forms of betting on college football off-limits to averages Joes.

More political hypocrisy, IMHO.

College football is my passion. I enjoy wagering on it. In fact, I even relish merely following the odds, since I seldom put my own meager funds at stake because they are indeed so limited.

But in this interview, when questioned, John McCain adopted the same attitude he has taken on both illegal immigration and offshore drilling. He basically admitted he's heard the voice of the American people and that he was wrong. And now he intends to be on the right side of things.

I've been chided for doing just that so often myself. Call me a waffler, but I think that's pretty cool. McCain explained the issue well in the context of this below-the-radar issue of sports gambling. And unlike many, I never see a problem with admitting a mistake or adapting with the times and thus changing a position. I have done the same thing with the war in Iraq -- several times over!

Granting some historical exceptions, only a fool sticks his head in the sand and refuses to get out of the way of a rising tide. The smarter man joins the rising tide and hopes to lead it in the right direction.

The question is will the tide change McCain or does McCain hope to change the tide?

Prior to this interview, I thought the latter was most likely true. And for now, I think I still do. But this stupid little 5 minute segment made me wonder for the first time if it might the former.

Time will tell. Maybe Fox Sports or CBS Sports could host a presidential debate this year. Do we really need to keep seeing Jim Lehrer? Jill Arrington or Jillian Barberie sound look much better to me!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

More Palin - Back and Forth

Bid Daddy Jeff:

Concerning Sarah Palin, I disagree strongly with her critics' concerns about her experience. On this I can't help but think about the entry a few months ago called "Mayor of Topeka for President." I like Palin's relative inexperience in government and her different kind of experience as a candidate. In fairness, this is the same quality that I also like in Barack Obama. So I believe this criticism is a losing issue Democrats.

Palin has been a governor. Obama's been a senator. They both care about their country and take the issues of the day seriously. In my humble mind, that's enough. All the experience of the John McCains and Joe Bidens hasn't gotten us anywhere. Let's have new faces please!

While I reject the under-qualified argument, I feel it is fair game to attack Palin on whether or not her positions on issues are right for the job. That's what Democrats should go after. There is no doubt that Sarah Palin is hard right and she has a track record to prove it. Afterall, this is what has energized the Rush Limbaughs of the world.

Therefore, it's obvious to me that this is where Democrats should attack. You can make the case that the general electorate in swing states is not ready to elect openly someone from the hard right. McCain knows this. Democrats should forget experience and instead attack by linking Palin to Bush/Cheney, fundamentalist religion, overturning Roe v. Wade, seeing Iraq as mission from God, etc.

That said, I still think the Dems best chance is to ignore Sarah Palin other doing the above through selective and targeted advertising in swing states. Palin is the bait on the GOP's fishing poles and so far the Dems are taking it. McCain is running! He is the 72 year old DC insider with corruption in his past that even Republicans like me can't stand. Palin is a big distraction and the Obama campaign has been falling for it.

Mark Quincy Adams:

I do tip my hat to the "Mayor of Topeka" post. This may be the wave of the future and you sensed that.

I also think your right as far as Palin being bait that the left is taking.

We disagree on a the rest though. To me, if one thinks as I do, that the VP pick would be a catastrophic President for the nation and the world, as a concerned citizen I cannot help but vocalize that. The Republicans may be setting a trap by nominating her, but I guess I would rather lose an election than lose this country. This country will be lost if "McPalin" wins by the tactics they are currently using.

I like your "Mayor of Topeka" idea in theory. I have always thought, for instance, that police departments should be made up of citizens more or less "drafted" for a year or two so that regular folks would know the streets and the streets would know regular folks. City councils and state governments provide ample opportunity for the "everyman" to have his voice heard. Same with the US Congress, the closer to the people those reps are the better.

But Prez and VP? No way!!! Those positions are uniquely difficult and important. If the presidency of George W. Bush hasn't taught us the dangers of having a simple man with a simple plan in there - I don't know what will. The job is too serious to throw an almost random person up there. It's a very good thought and has applications in many areas of our society, but not in the White House.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Obama and the Surge

I was very pleased that Bill O'Reilly managed to land an interview last week with Barack Obama. I am a big fan of the O'Reilly Factor and Fox News. While I admit Fox News clearly has a slant to the right, I think it well counters the opposing slant to the left found in pretty much all other television news organizations. And I think Bill O'Reilly in particular is a good journalist who puts getting a good story above his own biases.

Such is the case with his Obama interview. We've only seen part of it, as the rest will be aired this week. However, the segment we did get to see dealt with the war in Iraq. It got some press that O'Reilly got Obama to concede that the "surge" has worked better than he expected.

That's a good concession that O'Reilly attained. And it's hard to argue with that statement. However, Bill also tried to get Barack to go a little further and admit he had made a mistake opposing the surge.

This is mostly semantics. Obama would not. However, like Bill O'Reilly himself, I would have given Barack a lot of credit if he took a more clearly-defined position here. The surge has worked. I was against it myself, but I cannot argue with the results that I've seen lately. And shame on the media for not following the story more closely. Our military deserves better.

However, there is no shame in admitting now that we doubted the surge would work 18 months ago. I think Bill O'Reilly is right that the American people would be impressed if Obama said something like, "I may have been wrong on the surge, but I was right on the war, and I'll be right for America when I'm president." I think we still admire such a balance of humility and strength, rather than avoiding the issue with a murky lukewarm stance.

If anything, I think the success of the surge will cause history to view the Bush-led war more critically. SecDef Donald Rumsfeld tried to fight a war with as light of a footprint as possible. The surge proved that the mere addition of 30,000 troops, a new strategy, and a new commander was all it took to achieve victory in Iraq, after it seemed impossible for so long.

What a shame that over 4,000 Americans had to die because the Pentagon could not realize this back in 2003, 2004, 2005, or even 2006. It shouldn't have taken 4 bloody years and hundreds of billions of dollars to learn that lesson.

But it did. Let's all learn it. Move on from Iraq and do a better job in the future.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Country First?

Warning: I'm going to knit-pick for a few minutes. But does anyone else question the overuse of the "Country First" theme of the McCain convention? I realize doing so is borderline un-American in some company, but for me it raises some questions.

Sure, I love America. You love America. And 99% of us love America no matter what end of the political spectrum we reside.

But isn't part of loving America the fact that we don't need to put "country first" like good patriotic robots in order to show our love and appreciation?

Don't we actually look down on other governments in history that have preached that mandate from high?

Let's take a few examples. I know John McCain isn't a former Marine, but doesn't that particular group of patriots refer to "Duty, Honor, Country." The order isn't a coincidence. Are Marines less-than-stellar American because they put "country third?"

And then isn't there an American notion of "God, family, and country"? Doesn't that principled trio put "country third" as well?

Finally, doesn't McCain's Republican party generally favor a picture of America that emphasizes the rights and the responsibilities of the individual? "Country first" seems to invoke a collectivization of sorts with which many of us are not always comfortable.

Should people look to their "country first" to escape from poverty?

Should people look to their "country first" to find a job?

Or to get health insurance, perhaps?

Like I said, we all love America. But let's not use silly catch phrases to escape real substance. John McCain and Barack Obama have different ideas about different issues, but I think they're both good Americans.

We love our country and, when appropriate, we should honor it. But let's never come to do it so blindly or robotically. Let's keep America's story unique in that we value the ideas upon which we're built way more than we value even our country itself.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Wayne Allyn Root

It's getting pretty close to being sealed that I will be voting for Libertarian presidential candidate Bob Barr. I've always liked the message voting for a 3rd party candidate sends. I was one of the few who voted for Pat Buchanan back in 2000. This year I just can't get over my distaste for McCain and, though I like Sarah Palin, I cannot forget she is not the one running for president.

But this is what really impresses me about the Barr ticket. I just learned Bob Barr's running mate for vice president is: Wayne Allyn Root.

I don't know if that name means anything to you, but it sure does to me. Not only is he from Mt Vernon, NY nearby my old hometown, not only is he the son of the of the founders of the famed New York State Conservative Party, but Wayne Allyn Root is one of the biggest Las Vegas football/sports handicappers who I have been listening to on radio and tv for years.

An actual Las Vegas gambler is running on a presidential ticket this year! And I don't mean McCain losing money at the craps table either. If something more defined the purpose of the Libertarian Party than to stick it to the federal government and prop up the values of the city of Las Vegas, I've yet to see better than this!