April 27, 2011

finally, we have a birth certificate

Posted in politics, presidents, stuff I think about tagged , at 6:32 pm by weiszguy

We finally have a birth certificate!  Hopefully this whole thing will just go away now.  This was a pretty smart move by Team Obama: since the issue has been laid to rest, it won’t be an issue in the 2012 election, nobody will be able to attack Obama on that front, and there will be one less insufferable talking point to suffer through.

But there could be a much more strategic move at play here.  Could this be an effort by Team Obama to strengthen Team Trump, since Trump would be an easier foe to vanquish than Mitt Rominy or Tim Pawlenty?  Trump is already strutting his stuff.  He’s the guy who forced Obama’s hand!  He’s our hero!  But Obama knows (and I think we all know) that a Trump candidacy would be a joke.  When it comes down to the wire, who among us is going to vote for Trump over Obama?  Trump is like Ross Perot and Ron Paul – has some great ideas, but nobody will vote for him.

On the other hand, why can’t we force all candidates to show us their birth certificates?  Seriously.  The US Constitution makes two demands on any candidate for President: he must be 35 years of age, and he must be a natural-born citizen. See Article II, Section 1.  Why, in the past 222 years, has no one ever thought to check up on these candidates?  It is completely reasonable to have the Federal Election Commission certify each candidate for president.  The FEC can attest to the candidate’s age, and to his having been born in this country.  Then we would never have to go through this again.

Is there any chance this birth certificate could be a fake?

January 22, 2009

don’t be so tight

Posted in giving, money, politics, stuff I think about tagged , , at 11:28 am by weiszguy

Here’s an article from Arthur Brooks about giving patterns among people across the political spectrum

People who said they were “very conservative” gave 4.5% of their income to charity, on average; “conservatives” gave 3.6%; “moderates” gave 3%; “liberals” gave 1.5%; and “very liberal” folks gave 1.2%.

The central point of this article is that conservatives give more of their income to charity than liberals do.  But although I’m proud that conservatives outgive liberals in general, I’m still a little appalled by the low numbers.  The most generous group in this survey still only gives 4.5% of their income.  There’s no reason this number shouldn’t be twice as big.  10% is not just a conveniently round number that happens to be espoused by most religions, it’s a significantly large enough portion of your income that you’ll probably have to give something up in order to give that much.  You’re telling the charity you’re concerned enough about their mission to delay a little of your own gratification.  Giving 10% is a stretching exercise that will help you focus on needs outside of yourself, help you learn satisfaction with what you have, and chip away at the greedy portions of your heart and soul.

Economists measure the “income elasticity of giving” to predict how much people change their giving in response to a particular percentage change in their income. It turns out the response in 2008 was dramatically different for left and right. For instance, a 10% decrease in family income for a conservative was associated with a 10% decrease in giving. The same income decrease for a liberal family led to a 16% giving drop. In other words, if this relationship continues to hold, the recession will almost certainly exacerbate the giving differences between left and right.

It stands to reason that when your income goes down, your giving (as a dollar amount) should also go down.  But giving a proportionately smaller amount of money just because you’re making less just sounds greedy.  Being generous and giving profusely doesn’t seem like an option to me. As human beings, we have a moral obligation to help those around us.  There is absolutely nothing to be gained by holding on to every last dime, except possibly some temporary material comforts and the smug satisfaction of an overly inflated bank account.

November 10, 2008

America’s first black president (but it’s not about race)

Posted in politics, presidents tagged , , at 7:42 pm by weiszguy

Prior to the election, everyone went to great lengths to show that race was not an issue.  Obama’s and McCain’s positions were being analyzed on their own merits, but the skin tones of the candidates were rarely mentioned, excepted that, occasionally someone would point out, that, oh yeah, Obama is black.

Since the election results were confirmed, however, it is a completely different story.

  • Cameras showed people all over the world weeping after the result was declared.  Weeping?  Why would they weep?  Maybe the winner’s family and a few close campaign workers – but people all over the world?
  • Bishop Jakes, on MSNBC, declared that growing up in school, he had to look at the row of presidential pictures on the classroom wall, and wonder why none of them looked like him.  Now he didn’t have to wonder anymore.
  • Chris Matthews, the Hardball host, declared that he is going to do everything in his power to help the new administration, because that’s his job.  Would that have been his job if McCain has won?  Or would his job then be to uncover the “truth” about McCain?
  • Garrison Keillor, on his Praire Home Companion show this week, sung songs in praise of Obama, with an audible glee in his voice, as if he was a god.  I have a hard time imagining a similar response if McCain had won.
  • Howard Stern aired a montage of interviews with Obama supporters on the street.  Most of them thought that Sarah Palin was Obama’s running mate, and that Obama supports the war in Iraq, and that Obama is pro-life.  In other words, they had no idea what the issues were, or even who the players were.

Turns out, race is all it was ever about.

September 17, 2008

on flip flops

Posted in politics tagged at 6:34 pm by weiszguy

As they do periodically, flip flops have come up again in this election.

I am both for and against flip flops.  On one hand it’s nice to have a guy who will stick to what he knows is right even in the face of intense opposition.  On the other hand it’s kind of arrogant for a candidate to assume his opinions are always correct, even when confronted with new evidence to the contrary.

So, if a candidate can explain why he believed one way at first, and why he has changed his mind now, I won’t be mad at him for “flip-flopping”.  But I will be upset at a guy who changes his mind to win an election.

May 22, 2008

what ozone?

Posted in global warming, politics, stuff I think about tagged , , at 12:51 pm by weiszguy

Bumper sticker on the back of a GMC Yukon in a local parking lot:

screw the ozone layer

March 11, 2008

Spitzer

Posted in politics tagged at 3:22 am by weiszguy

I am of two minds regarding the Elliot Spitzer news.

Spitzer was like a super-hero, capable of single-handedly bringing powerful, multi-national investment companies to their knees.  This guy brought a lot of change to Wall Street.  Hearing of his downfall is a little like hearing that Luke Skywalker has turned to the dark side.  I just want to scream, “Why?”  How could he let this happen?

The other side of me is a little giddy.  Finally, this dork that caused all this trouble on Wall Street is shut up.  He has caused investment companies no end of new hoops to jump through, i’s to dot, t’s to cross.  Whatever he does for the rest of his life, he will no longer strike fear in people’s hearts.   Good riddance.

August 16, 2007

rethinking Cheney

Posted in communication, politics, presidents at 5:00 am by weiszguy

A very interesting article on vice-president Cheney appeared in the Wall Street Journal yesterday.  The most startling revelation is what George Tenet had to say about the interrogation program that Cheney championed:

The policies he has advocated have been controversial. But they have also been effective. Consider the procedures put in place to extract information from hardcore terrorists. Mr. Cheney did not dream up these interrogation methods, but when intelligence officials insisted that they would work, the vice president championed them in internal White House debates and on Capitol Hill. Former CIA Director George Tenet–a Clinton-era appointee and certainly no Cheney fan–was asked about the value of those interrogation programs in a recent television appearance. His response, ignored by virtually everyone in the media, was extraordinary.

“Here’s what I would say to you, to the Congress, to the American people, to the president of the United States: I know that this program has saved lives. I know we’ve disrupted plots. . . . I know this program alone is worth more than the FBI, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the National Security Agency put together, have been able to tell us.”

Wow, that’s pretty high praise.  The article also points out that the reason Cheney’s opinion poll numbers are so low is probably because Cheney doesn’t get enough time in front of the people.  He is viewed as a shadowy figure always lurking just offstage, the man behind the curtain.  The author of this article believes that people would be less afraid of the vice-president if he were more visible.  Could be.  I know my feelings on Cheney have gone up because of reading this.

May 7, 2007

Monckton, Gore debate

Posted in fighting, global warming, politics at 8:01 pm by weiszguy

Look what I ran into today:  www.globalwarmingheartland.org

This guy, Lord Monckton, has challenged Al Gore to a debate on global warming.  The wording of the challenge is too irresistible not to quote in full:

The Viscount Monckton of Brenchley presents his compliments to Vice-President Albert Gore and by these presents challenges the said former Vice-President to a head-to-head, internationally-televised debate upon the question “That our effect on climate is not dangerous,” to be held in the Library of the Oxford University Museum of Natural History at a date of the Vice-President’s choosing.

Forasmuch as it is His Lordship who now flings down the gauntlet to the Vice-President, it shall be the Vice-President’s prerogative and right to choose his weapons by specifying the form of the Great Debate. May the Truth win! Magna est veritas, et praevalet.

“these presents”!  “flings down the gauntlet”!  “choose his weapons”!  A Latin quote!  Could anything be more noble or regal?  This is a duel I would greatly like to see.  And as in duels of old, when one combatant emerged the victor, and the other combatant was reduced to a bloody lump, I would like to see this question resolved once and for all time.

What I do NOT want to see, however, is another one of those mind-numbing presidential debates.  You know, where each candidate gets up and says all the things guaranteed not to offend anyone, and thereby preventing anyone from forming any kind of opinion on the candidates.  A debate should tackle and attempt to resolve an issue, not be an extended, shared, stump speech.

Mr. Gore, be a gentleman and accept Lord Monckton’s challenge!  Pour all that you are into this debate, and don’t let the debate end until one of you, and one side of the debate, is dead.

April 28, 2007

Democrats hold a debate – nobody notices

Posted in politics at 12:39 pm by weiszguy

This week in South Carolina the Democrats did something.  I guess.