Saturday, December 27, 2008

NY Resolution: A Solution with Every Criticism

Skim through the Northern New York blogs, and you’re likely to conclude most NNY residents are bitter complainers -- resentlful of powers beyond their control and eager for someone to sue.
It seems the younger folks have video games to let off steam; and the older folks have blogs.

The blog complainers find catharsis in finger-pointing. And yet their blame often proves to be misguided. Misguided in that they rarely see how some blame might fall in their own lap:

• People complain the mom and pop stores in their small town are dying out, yet they shop regularly at Wal-Mart;

• People complain that young people are looking out of state for jobs, yet they’ll fight tooth and nail to stop any big business development in their community;

• And people complain there’s no sense of community in their community…while they spend all day blogging on their computer.

Also, they rarely see how they can play a role in making a change for the better:

• People hate all Democrats, yet they’ve never actively campaigned for a Republican candidate;

• People hate how they feel disenfranchised from their NNY community, yet they refuse to sell the Arizona condo they live in for 10 months every year;

• And they will viciously condemn their local government officials in letters in the local newspaper, yet not once in their life will they ever attempt to talk directly with a local government official, nor will they attempt to run for a local government position.

When I was enrolled in one of our fine NNY high schools, my 8th grade English teacher gave me sage advice that I carry with me to this day. Giving me a D on my argument essay, Mr. S said, “There are two kinds of people in this world: the kind that walk into a room and say, ‘Here I am!’ and the kind that walk into a room and say, ‘There you are!’

“The person that says, “Here I am!” is more interested in ranting that resolution; he is more interested in finger-pointing and shaming others. If he sees he’s at odds with majority opinion in the community, his only response is bitterness. Rather than trying to understand the majority opinion, he’ll instead choose to spread his bitterness, hoping to make others as bitter as he is. He’d rather be a ringleader of resentment than an agent of constructive change, betterment in his community.

“The person that says, ‘There you are!’ recognizes he is just one member of a community. Understanding the rationale behind majority opinion is important. If he sees a problem in his community, his response is active listening and active communication, with consideration for the diverse members of his community. To be a ‘There you are!’ person will increase your chances of influencing others, making positive change desirable to others, and ultimately bettering your community. In the very least, you’ll avoid a life of disconnection and bitterness.”

Mr. S pointed at the D on my argument paper, and said, “You wrote this paper as if you were the only person in the room. You need to write this believing you're speaking to an audience. And you’re not on a podium talking AT your audience; you’re sitting in a circle sharing WITH your audience.”

Fortunately, Mr. S allowed me to revise my paper. I took his advice and I got an A- (my grammar wasn’t quite up to par).

For a New Year’s resolution in Northern New York, let’s try to be people who walk into a room (or comment on a blog) and say, “There you are!” Let’s not idly complain. Whenever pointing out a problem in our community, try to offer a reasonable solution – a solution that most community members might want to help you accomplish.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Long Range Missives

In yesterday’s Watertown Daily Times, in the Letters from the People section, Peter Graves of Arlington, Virginia condemns Vice President-elect Joe Biden for a gaffe he made while on the campaign trail.

Peter, we understand you’re sour about the election results, but look on the bright side, you’re from Virginia, and according to the new electoral map, just go west, young man, and you’ll be in Kentucky, surrounded by angry McCain/Palin mobs to commiserate with.

Why is someone from Virginia using our local newspaper to dredge up an old Biden gaffe, apparently wanting to rub our noses in it? (It was an innocuous gaffe by the way -- it’s not like Biden boasted, “Bring’em on” like Bush did when told Iraq insurgents were aggressively targeting our troops.)

Peter from Virginia has been regularly writing “Damn you, Democrats” letters to the Watertown Daily Times. He particularly enjoys mocking monthly Times contributor Stewart MacMillan from Guffin Bay, calling McMillan unpatriotic and a socialist. (Actually, MacMillan takes pride in the latter accusation.)

As residents of the North Country, we may not all agree with MacMillan’s left-leaning opinions, but he's no less our neighbor, a member of our community. I suppose we should be proud that our local newspaper has a readership that stretches all the way to Virginia. But it seems disrespectful for out-of-state residents to use our local newspapers to mock and chastise members of our community.

And it’s not just happening in the Watertown Daily Times. In the Jefferson County Journal, Bill Stanley from Black Mountain, North Carolina regularly writes “Damn you, Liberals” letters. Bill writes weekly to mock any Obama-supporters in the Journal readership.

We’re year-round residents of the North Country; we’re a proud tribe. You loft insults at one of our members from states away, and you’re insulting all of us. Wouldn’t it be common courtesy to at least become a year-round resident in our community first, before you regularly ridicule our community members?

I know we live in a global society, and channels of communication can never be localized, nor should they be. But if you’re from out-of-state and allowed the privilege of voicing your opinions in our local newspapers, and all you have is mockery and condescension for our community members, then perhaps it’d be best if you kept your ugly ridicule at a more local level. Why not start with your mirror?

Friday, October 31, 2008

Leadership to Inspire Northern New York?

Jefferson Community College held a Leadership Day on October 28th. On this day, students got an opportunity to talk to national, local and student leaders about developing their leadership skills. The keynote speaker was Jack Lengyel, former head coach of the Marshall University football team. The movie "We Are Marshall" is based on his story: how he helped a grieving community come together after a 1970 plane crash that killed 75 people, including most of the Marshall University's football team.

I commend JCC for having a Leadership Day. And having Mr. Lengyel speak is quite a coup. However, was Mr. Lengyel their best choice for inspiring leadership in Northern New York? I have an immense amount of respect for Mr. Lengyel, and hope he visits Northern New York again and often. But Northern New York has unique needs: unique economic needs and unique development needs. And for those particular needs, JCC's Leadership Day keynote speaker should have been someone keenly adept at addressing those needs.

Mr. Lengyels's leadership speech has universal ties to every community, this I understand, yet Northern New York is suffering "brain drain," with college graduates looking elsewhere for work, and very few young people interested in civic leadership. Couldn't JCC have chosen a keynote speaker that inspired JCC students to become entrepreneurs in Northern New York? Couldn't the speaker have been an elected official or community leader from Northern New York whose leadership rejuvenated a community? Couldn't they have found a leader that brought the community together to resolve its economic and development needs? Did the speaker have to be someone portrayed by Matthew McConaughey in a recent Hollywood film?

Imagine a speaker from Northern New York who not only provided JCC students with the inspiration and tools to make a positive difference in their hometown, but also was someone "from the area" they could regularly communicate with as they put their leadership plans to action.

I wonder if the student attendees of JCC's Leadership Day felt Mr. Lengyel's keynote speech equipped them with the necessary tools and direction to become positive leaders in their community. Or were they simply awed to be in the presence of someone with two degrees separation from Hollywood's Matthew McConaughey?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Trickle Down Anti-Socialism

With the current state of our economy, it’s become indisputable that Reagonomics is a failure. There are now substantially fewer subscribers to the belief that unfettered free market and cutting taxes on the super-rich will keep our economy buoyant and wealth will trickle down.

To me, Reagonomics never made sense. We depend on the super-rich to spend their millions on goods and services, and the money is supposed to “trickle down” to middle-class Americans? What if the super-rich decide to hoard their money in Swiss bank accounts? What if the super-rich invest in overseas properties, and spend 90% their time and money overseas? How would these money choices by the super-rich cause wealth to trickle down to middle-class Americans?

Plus, I find it unethical to put so much dependence on any section of the American population to be as materialistic as possible. It’s unethical to put into people’s minds that buying lots of stuff is patriotic or that buying stuff, while increasing wastefulness, is required for America to prosper.

But all you have to do is look at the ever increasing squeeze of middle-class to see the failure of trickle down economics. The only thing that has trickled down is the anti-socialism of the super-rich.

Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh – both millionaires, both born into wealthy families, both never had to work manual labor job – complain about socialism because, if there’s even the slightest curbing of the unfettered capitalism they’ve always been accustom to, they may not be able to buy that fourth mansion in the Caribbean.

The problem is, younger low-income conservatives, weaned on the sensationalistic invective of Hannity, Limbaugh, etc. persist in believing they are on the cusp of being millionaires too, but it’s the "socialistic policies of the Democrats" that prevent them from achieving this American Dream.

And retired conservatives weaned on the Hannity, Limbaugh, etc. believe the reason they never became millionaires was because of the "socialistic policies of the Democrats."

It makes sense for the super-rich to hate socialism. It makes sense the super-rich spend their days working to indoctrinate the electorate to vote for anti-socialist policy-makers. But for a lower income person to hate socialism, shows an entrenched misunderstanding of socialism.

Though Obama is no socialist, the McCain campaign is hoping all the anti-socialism that has trickled down to frustrated conservatives, like Joe the Plumber, will inspire them to vote againt any Democrat.

So Joe the Plumber wants to know why he should get taxed more for making over $250,000. In thoughtfully answering Joe, Obama brought up a good point – it’s ridiculous for business owners to whine about more taxes when their customers are less taxed, and therefore more willing to spend money at Joe's business.

Think about it: Usually the super-rich are not the ones shopping at your small town mom and pop store. If the middle-class have more disposable income, and the tax dollars from the rich are going toward better roads and public transportation (instead of that fourth mansion in the Carribbean), then maybe small businesses will thrive from repeat business.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Enduring Epidemic of Turn-the-Other-Cheek Democrats

Though I believe Obama won last Friday’s debate handily, I kept waiting for Obama to make a knockout punch.

And there were so many opportunities for Obama make a knockout. Several times he could have turned to McCain, and said, “John, most of your responses are ad hominem, character attacks that don’t address the issue we’re discussing,” or “John, you claim that your campaign puts ‘country first’ and denounces partisanship, yet many of your responses tonight are clearly intended to foment partisanship, thereby proving that when you say ‘country first’ it is not true.”

Ultimately, Obama proved too respectful and polite. But this is what we’ve come to expect from Democrats. Throughout the Bush presidency, the Democrats have demonstrated a frustrating respect and politeness toward Bush Republicans.

Where are the firebrands? Where are the fighters? Where is the raw anger? Where is the unifying Democratic voice shouting, “No more!”

Democrats need to fight back not just by pushing back when pushed, but by also loudly criticizing any Republican who wastes time demonizing Democrats in general, wastes time arguing that all Democrats are“liberal,” or puts party first before country.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

An Open Letter to fellow Northern NY blogger, Danger Democrat

Sorry to beat a dead horse, DD, but again I say that the squashing of the McCain/Bush era depends squarely on spurned Hillary fans like you reaching out to other spurned Hillary fans and unifying behind Obama.

I’m not buying the threat that spurned Hillary fans will actually go through with voting McCain, but I am concerned that many will conveniently forget to vote on Nov. 4th.

I’m certain that the Republicans will have an 11th hour surprise specially tailored for spurned Hillary fans – it’ll be some expensive, powerful, seismic message intended to convince spurned Hillary fans that voting Obama would be tantamount to betraying all the women in American history who’ve sacrificed and died so that a woman will one day have a chance at the highest office in the land.

In choosing Sarah Palin as VP, the McCain campaign announced their home stretch strategy to world: win over the religious right, and drive a wedge between spurned Hillary fans and Obama. Before the Democrat National Convention, I’m assuming McCain’s advisors already had a shortlist of VP possibilities, all of which had the intolerance and moralistic myopia that’d make the religious right swoon. And I’m betting that when it was announced at the DNC that a third of spurned Hillary fans polled were still undecided about Obama, McCain’s advisors choose the only woman on their list.

To avoid a McCain victory via a mysteriously low voter turnout for Obama, you need to start unifying the spurned Hillary fans solidly behind Obama, and you need to start NOW. We know that an Obama victory in NY is secure, but let me flatter you and present the possibility that your blog is visited by swing state residents, maybe a Scranton, PA family summering in Sackets Harbor. Maybe you could popularize a mantra to be chanted all the way up to Nov. 4th – “Elect Obama and Hillary Wins, Elect Obama and Hillary Wins.” Other mantras to popularize: “Obama has Always been Fair and Respectful to Hillary,” “The Obama Campaign was NOT Sexist to Hillary during the Primary Season, It Was the Media,” “Hillary and Obama have Practically the SAME Political Beliefs, whereas Hillary and McCain/Palin have the Polar Opposite Beliefs” and maybe most importantly, “Hillary was NOT Wronged when Obama chose Biden as VP.”

I leave this vital responsibility in your hands, and in the hands of other spurned Hillary fans. Any efforts on my part would ring hollow since I never bought into the “inevitability” of President Hillary, and I’m still a bit peeved over her divisive primary antics.

Spurned Hillary fans should also keep this in mind: Imagine a world in which Obama loses and McCain wins -- Hillary will be persona non grata in 49% of America. The McCain campaign is orchestrating the current anti-Obama attacks, but many Americans believe Hillary wrote the original playbook, and McCain wins followers every time he cribs from her playbook.

Though 18 million Americans voted for Hillary in the primaries, more than three times that many are crying out for an end to the Bush/McCain era.

We all know the Clinton name is synonymous with Satan among most conservative Republicans, but imagine an America where “Clinton” is synonymous with Satan across the entire political spectrum.

If McCain wins, in the years following the 2008 election, Hillary will be known by half the country as the Killer of Hope.


Stump Speech

Monday, June 9, 2008

For Careful Consideration: McCain as CINC?

Considering the question "Who will be the better Commander in Chief, McCain or Obama?" it seems many voters make the quick conclusion that McCain is the obvious choice.

After all, McCain served in the military and Obama didn't. While Obama was in still in short pants, traveling the world and earning a Harvard degree in constitutional law, McCain was a naval pilot in Vietnam; he survived being shot down and then spent six years as a prisoner of war.

However, voters should carefully ponder McCain's unique war experience and imagine how such an experience might affect McCain's decisions as Commander in Chief.

Before serving as President, Eisenhower served as a Four Star General in on-the-ground combat in WWII. With this experience behind him, Eisenhower's presidency was devoted to peace and cautioning, halting any increase America's militarism.

McCain, on the other hand, actually saw little on-the-ground combat. As a naval pilot, you could say McCain engaged the enemy "at a distance" -- in other words, he dropped napalm on Vietnamese villages. And ultimately, his primary war experience was being tortured by the enemy.

America has never had a President with POW experiences like McCain's. Might have McCain's particular war experiences instilled him with negative prejudices toward enemy combatants?

Though Obama has zero military experience, some could say he has a more Eisenhower-like background than McCain. Both Obama and Eisenhower had humble beginnings, while McCain was born into privilege and went to prep school. Both Obama and Eisenhower traveled extensively, both were well known for having a deep respect for other cultures and for civil rights. President Eisenhower was an enthusiastic supporter of the Brown v. Board of Education decision. On the other hand, McCain jokes about bombing Iran and has a virtually non-existent civil rights record.

Also unfortunate: many will be voting for McCain purely because they pity him. For many, it doesn't matter that McCain may push the U.S. further into end times, what matters is that he was a prisoner of war for six years, and for enduring all that he endured, he deserves to be President.

I'm encouraging voters to not consider McCain the de facto obvious choice for Commander in Chief. Might it be possible that Obama is the appropriate Commander in Chief at this particular time in our history?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

JCC’s Self-Defeating Hiring Habits: “Oh, How Will We Ever Stop the Brain Drain of Upstate NY?”

I recently discovered that an English teacher at Jefferson Community College recently jumped ship – within a year after being hired by the English Department.

And get this -- this is the SECOND YEAR IN A ROW that an English teacher at JCC jumped ship within a year of being hired.

These two professors had one distinct characteristic in common: they were both hired from out of state.

The professor that abandoned JCC in 07 was from California, and professor that recently abandoned JCC was from Texas. Could they both not handle the North Country winters? Were they both unaccustomed to dealing with a large number of military students? Were they both not inspired by this area’s distinct beauty and no-nonsense people?

Just within my small circle of friends and family, I know four individuals - all four were born and raised in Northern NY, all four earned multiple graduate degrees from prestigious Northern NY universities - and all four at one time interviewed for a teaching position at JCC, yet all four were denied the position. ALL FOUR.

And yet, still smarting from their hire from California going AWOL the year before, the supposedly “capable, competent” English Department hiring committee chooses to give a job to an eccentric from Texas. And then, after the Texas professor finishes his final spring class, he ungraciously doesn’t appear on the JCC campus again.

JCC hiring committees have had so many chances to hire talented, overqualified local professionals – yet they keeping thinking it wiser to import professionals from distant lands.

And then their decisions ultimately result in a huge waste of time and money for the school.

Why? Do they need to fill a quota of out-of-state professionals? Are they implementing the wrong hiring strategies, and stuck in a cycle of self-defeating hiring habits?

Not only is JCC worsening upstate NY’s “brain drain” problem - with our talented scholars having to look out of state for jobs – but homegrown talent might possibly reverse JCC’s lagging student enrollment. It might be inspiring to know that your professor grew up in the same small town as you. Also, a homegrown instructor could easily bring North Country references into their instruction, effortlessly connecting a North Country student's everyday life to the lessons.

But first, the JCC hiring committees need to break free from their self-defeating hiring practices.

Most importantly, if we can’t trust these teacher committees to recognize talent in their hiring pool, how can we trust them to recognize talent in our students?

Sunday, May 4, 2008

The Obama Network?

Talking to a friend the other day, she claimed that MSNBC was the "Obama network." I asked her, "Why do you think that?" She said, "Because every time Obama has even the smallest victory, they have a huge write-up about it." I thought about this. "Are you suggesting Obama owns a piece of MSNBC?"

In the age of Fox News, Americans have become jaded into believing that all networks have a certain bias because they're owned by billionaires who insist that news have a certain bias. Conservatives often feel threatened when their point of view isn't the norm. Therefore, arch-Conservative billionaire Rupert Murdoch, feeling threatened by what he perceives as left-leaning Ted Turner's CNN, creates Fox News to produce news that's not more objective, but more right-leaning. It's disappointing how Murdoch chooses to engage in network combat, going on the offensive against all perceived enemies of the right, instead of attempting to win over viewers with a more objective news.

But what's more disappointing is how the ratings for Fox News soared. Murdoch is, of course, all about making money, and he knew that the majority of people are not guided by their better angels. Many Americans are drawn to Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, and Anne Coulter not because they present objective truth, but because people are drawn to sensationalistic hate. So don't blame Murdoch, blame American consumers.

Many Democrats believe that, to be a good Democrat means to be anti-corporation. But corporations don't acquire power in a vacuum. Corporations gain power through consumers. The right often make the joke about the environmentalists who attend a rally to protest drilling for oil in Alaska...but how did they get to the rally? By filling the tank of their Volkswagen van. Anti-corporation Democrats should recognize the truth in that joke.

Anti-corporation Democrats also need to recognize the truth that not all corporations are inherently bad. If a multinational corporation produces renewable energy, and it's proven that the corporation's portfolio consists totally of non-polluting clean energy, should we treat this corporation with the same animosity as the corporation that deals exclusively in burning fossil fuels?

It's better to be precise about what you rage against.

So as for MSNBC being the Obama network? It's not because Obama owns a piece of MSNBC. It's not because MSNBC loves Obama more than Hillary. It's more likely because there are more Obama fans in the American viewership than Hillary fans. Though many Americans are drawn towards hate, many more are drawn towards hope. Recognize that truth.

The Hillary camp has been loudly complaining about the Obama camp "spending so much money" in their campaign. Well, in order to spend that much, Obama first had to make that much in donations. So basically, the Hillary camp is trying to put a negative spin on Obama's impressive fundraising ability. And it's been proven again and again that most of Obama's money comes from under $200 donations from Average Joe Americans.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Driving a Wedge between Voters and Candidate, While Ignoring the Issue

It's no secret the Hillary Clinton campaign has been showing signs of desperation. It has become clear that members of the Clinton campaign follow Obama everywhere he goes, with the mission of trying to nab him in a public speaking gaffe.

This week, the Clinton camp tried to make a huge story out of this Barack Obama statement: "It's not surprising, then, [the working class] get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."

Hillary immediately held a press conferences chastising Barack, calling him an "elitist" and saying "People don't need a president who looks down on them...They need a president who stands up for them." She simply took Barack's words and twisted them against him. She gripes about "cling" being a demeaning word, and that the working-class are "optimistic" not "frustrated."

So this is what has become of our democratic process: when a politician speaks frankly and candidly, saying what many of us deep down recognize as bearing some truth, other politicians chastise him for the candidness. Heaven forbid, we hear some frankness from a politician, instead of watered down, sugar-coated, poll-approved, game-show-host platitudes.

And as much as the Hillary would like Barack's statement to be comparable to her "sniper-fire" gaffe, it's apples and oranges. Hillary was manipulating voters, trying to beef-up her national security credentials, and she repeated the Bosnian "sniper-fire" story several times.

With Obama's statement, he was simply trying to articulate the suffocation of powerlessness that the working class endure; and the directions the working class commonly go, attempting to puncture that suffocation.

It's all just a dispiriting attempt of driving a wedge between a candidate and potential voters (working-class), when there really needs to be a candid analysis of these marginalized people (working class), and the self-defeating attitudes that increase their marginalization.

So who is the demeaning elitist here?

The candidate attempting an honest discourse on the powerlessness of the working class?

Or the candidate who chastises the other candidate for attempting honest discourse on working class powerlessness, in a paternalistic gesture to steal working class votes.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Tipping Points of the Presidential Campaign: Money and Words

Every day, voters are getting bombarded with news of the presidential candidates McCain, Clinton, and Obama. I’m wondering if this is causing campaign fatigue for voters. As you recall, this presidential campaign started back in 2006.

Democratic voters seem to be past the tipping point of frustration. Obama supporters are tired of Hillary, and Hillary supporters are frustrated with Obama’s unstoppable lead.

And supporters of both are frustrated with the remaining undecided superdelegates, delegates, and voters. What are these voters waiting for? We don’t want voters to throw their hands up in surrender, and make hasty voting decisions, like voting for Hillary simply because “It's time for a woman President." But what will it take to finally tip these undecideds in the favor of one candidate?

Let me suggest two tipping points for the undecideds: money and words.

First, money speaks volumes. More important, we should study which candidate is accumulating the most from small contributions. “Small contributions” means, not special interest money, but the kind of money Average American Joe can drop into a campaign and still afford the week’s groceries.

According to TIME magazine, the candidate receiving the most $200 and under donations is Barack Obama.

Here is the small contributions collected January 2007 through February 2008:

Barack Obama 41%

Hillary Clinton 26%

John McCain 13%

In March 08, the Obama campaign received 40 million, more than twice as much as the Clinton campaign, who raised a little less than 20 million. It is reported that both McCain and Clinton accept money from lobbyists and special interests. Yet we often hear that the Clinton campaign is living “hand to mouth.” Also, it was reported that Clinton had to use her own personal funds when trying to woo Michigan and Florida into a re-do.

By measuring with money, we are clearly seeing a people’s choice between Obama and Clinton.

Do we still have undecideds out there? Ok, let’s consider the eloquence, frankness, and wit of the candidates. Personally, ever since the end of Reagan’s term, I believe America has been in desperate need of a president with eloquence and wit.

With Clinton’s recent speeches, it’s become undeniable that Hillary is clearly a candidate that will do and say what ever she feels is necessary to win. Hillary exaggerated being under "sniper fire" in Bosnia in a bid to beef up her under-whelming foreign policy experience.

But more importantly, we need to study Clinton’s pseudo-apology for this exaggeration: "If I misspoke, that was just a misstatement." This phrase sounds like something George W. Bush would say at his most eloquent, and Bill Clinton would in his least eloquent, trying to sidestep from being caught in a lie.

Also, Hillary has spent much of her campaign attacking Obama by using a Fox News approach: unfairly taking his words out of context.

And it’s been proven that Obama’s speeches can bring people together. In an MSNBC poll at the end of March 08: when asked if the three presidential candidates could be successful in uniting the country if they were elected president, 60 percent of all voters believed Obama could be successful at doing this, 58 percent of all voters said McCain could unite the country while only 46 percent of voters said the same about Clinton.

What do YOU think is needed to convince the undecideds to finally choose our Democratic candidate?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Clinton Tries to Keep Plan for Two Revotes Alive

I have to admit, I found Barack Obama's speech on Monday night in Philadelphia to be inspirational. Here's the video and transcript.

Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton is looking more and more desperate. Check out this New York Times article by John Broder, entitled "Clinton Tries to Keep Plan for Two Revotes Alive"

Monday, March 17, 2008

Hillary's Superdelegate Explanation

Barack recently picked up seven more delegates.

And the Clinton campaign continues to explore ways to either change the rules of the game in the middle of the game (Having Florida and Michigan redo their primaries) or forcing delegates and superdelegates to flip-flop (Negating their vote for Barack in order to re-vote for Hillary).

In a recent article written by ABC News Senior National Correspondent Jake Tapper, Hillary tries to explain the delegate math, but in my opinion only makes the math a bit fuzzier.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Why McCain Might Win

Here's a recent article from Newsweek, positing that Hillary may be held responsible for handing McCain the presidency in 2009:

"Why McCain Might Win" by Michael Hirsh

He can sit back while the Dems tear each other to shreds.

Mar 14, 2008

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama show few signs that they're aware of it, but the general election campaign has already begun. And appropriately for the eve of St. Patrick's Day, the pair have begun to destroy each other like the two crazy Irish cats of Kilkenny. The upshot is that both of them are already losing the general to John McCain. By the time the Democratic convention rolls around in August and the nomination is finally awarded, the battle may already be over.

Obama's advisers point out, rightfully, that the Clinton campaign started this downward drift toward mutually assured destruction, Democratic-style, with its now infamous "red phone" ad before the critical Ohio and Texas primaries. Subtly but with devastating impact, the TV commercial raised questions about Obama's preparedness to be commander in chief. The Obama campaign responded by effectively branding Hillary Clinton a liar about her own record. "As far as the record shows, Sen. Clinton never answered the phone either to make a decision on any pressing national security issue—not at 3 a.m. or at any other time of day," top Obama adviser Greg Craig—a former close friend of Hillary's—wrote this week in a widely circulated memo.

Winning elections is about setting the agenda and, while creating a positive image of oneself, negatively defining one's opponent in the minds of the voters. This is happening for McCain—having Obama defined as unready and Hillary as lacking in integrity—without his having to lift a finger. If the current campaign keeps up—and there's every sign it will—it's likely that by summer irrepressible doubts about both Dems will have been lodged in the minds of the electorate.

That's no small thing. Especially in this age of terror and economic uncertainty, voters don't want doubts. They will want to pull the lever for the most trustworthy candidate. And who's making himself seem trustworthy? Why, John McCain, of course. Next week he's off to Europe and the Mideast to confer with "leaders I have strong relationships with," as he put it to reporters the other day.

We have been here before, most recently in 2004. Within days of his securing the nomination on Super Tuesday in March of that year, John Kerry became the victim of a vicious Karl Rove-orchestrated plan to paint the Democrat as a flip-flopper. The bewildered Kerry, and his even more clueless advisers, Bob Shrum and Tad Devine, failed to respond for months, while their candidate was relentlessly tarred by the GOP attack machine. "Wait until the fall," one Kerry adviser responded sagely when I asked why they weren't counterattacking more. But by the time the Democrats gathered in July for their convention, the GOP-inflicted image of Kerry had taken hold. That's why the Swift Boat attacks against Kerry's war record in August were so powerful. So many voters already saw him as a waffling wimp that, despite his clear heroism and uncontested Silver Star in Vietnam, they easily bought into the slander. In the last six weeks of the fall campaign Kerry finally changed course and came out swinging, but by then it was far too late.

A similar process is underway now, but the Republicans don't need Karl Rove this time around. Both the Clinton and Obama camps do worry about the consequences in the fall, and Obama's advisers hope, wishfully, that the Clintonites will stop the bloodletting that they began. The likelihood, however, is that the Hillary camp will only step things up. She knows that while he leads in pledged delegates, by winning most of the big Blue states she has racked up a big lead in the potential electoral votes any Democrat will need to win in November. As Marie Cocco of the Washington Post Writers Group wrote the other day, "In this sense, Pennsylvania is where Obama's back, and not Clinton's, is up against the wall."

And so let us return to our St. Paddy's Day sermon. Children who are familiar with this nursery rhyme already understand more, perhaps, than the two leading Democratic candidates for president. To wit: "There once were two cats of Kilkenny/Each thought there was one cat too many/So they fought and they fit, and they scratched and they bit/Till excepting their nails and the tips of their tails/Instead of two cats there weren't any."

© 2008

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Why Clinton Should Get Out of the Race, and Get Out NOW

On the days leading up to the March 4th primaries of Texas, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Vermont, it was made known that, regarding the delegates needed to clinch the Democratic nomination, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama desired to make knockout blows.

Clinton needed a K.O. just to catch up to Obama’s delegate numbers, and Obama wanted a K.O to convince Clinton to bow out of the race gracefully.

Neither candidate got what they hoped for. Clinton won Ohio and Rhode Island. Obama won Texas and Vermont.

(A quick tangent: To those who hadn’t heard, after all the results were tallied in Texas, Obama ultimately won more delegates than Clinton. The fact that this has not been widely publicized proves that the “The Press Loves Obama” myth is indeed a myth. If the Press truly loves Obama more than Clinton, they would have reveled in Clinton’s decisive losses in all the primaries after Super Tuesday. But as decisive as Obama’s wins were, the Press downplayed Clinton’s losses. An Obama-loving press would’ve focused more on how badly Clinton lost in those primaries.)

So now back to my original argument: Since neither candidate got their K.O., we are left with the “facts on the ground.” And those facts are: Obama has more delegates that Clinton. More importantly, Clinton genuinely has no hope of getting close to Obama's delegate numbers in the upcoming primaries. This is why we’ve heard so much from the Clinton camp about refocusing on states of Florida and Michigan.

Before the primary season began, Michigan and Florida wanted to change the dates of their primaries, the Democratic National Convention refused to allow this. So it was agreed by the Democratic candidates, including Obama and Clinton, that delegates in Michigan and Florida would not be counted.

But now the Clinton camp wants those delegates to count, and the Obama camp rightly points out that this is tantamount to changing the rules of the game in the middle of the game.

In my opinion, Clinton should get out of the race, and get out of the race NOW. Because while Clinton tries to drag the Democrat race into “overtime,” McCain, who clinched the Republican nomination on March 4th, is fine-tuning his strategy, gathering steam and momentum, and gathering money for his presidential run

And so while Obama and Clinton are exhausting each other, and draining campaign money on each other, McCain is getting a huge head start on tooling up and tricking out his Republican machine.

No matter how weak you think McCain is now, or how strong you think Clinton or Obama will be, don’t forget that the powerful Republican machine was able to hand George W. Bush a decisive win in 2004.

So all the Clinton camp is doing is weakening the eventual Democrat candidate, while the Republican candidate gains strength.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Run for the Border! The Vermont Border...

Has anyone else noticed that Vermont, the state many people consider to be a Democrat haven, has the lowest gas prices in all the northeast? And the property taxes in Vermont rural areas are much lower than taxes in NY rural areas.

I don't see why we should be so fearful of Democrat majority in rural upstate NY.

I know Darrel. I honestly believe that if any one person can bring new hope, promise, and prosperity to the North Country, that person would be Darrel Aubertine.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Obama, Paul Net Most Military Donations

Did you see the recent article in USA Today about which presidential candidates are receiving the biggest military donations?
For Democratic candidates, America's soldiers are donating the most to Barack Obama. For Republican candidates, it's Ron Paul. It seems significant that these two candidates are calling for an end to combat in Iraq.

I wonder if our soldiers in Fort Drum are endorsing Obama?

"Experience" is bait set out by the Clinton campaign, and Democrats are biting.

Words can lift a people, words can inspire a people. Eight years of Bush have made Americans believe that a President must be an action figure.

Perhaps one of the factors that should determine our vote is which candidate is a motivator that can inspire the people of America.

Barack far surpasses Hillary as a motivator. Make a nation hopeful again, and the work and innovation will get done by the people.

When Barack calls people to action, people WANT to provide results.

Hillary’s words just make Americans want to sink deeper into their armchairs.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Promises of Universal Healthcare

Hillary promises “universal healthcare” without providing essential details behind her plan. I believe absolutely that if she becomes President, her version of "universal healthcare" will not be what Hillary voters expected. It will be a huge disappointment. Hillary’s version of "universal healthcare" will have horrendous short-comings -- short-comings that she knows about, but isn’t telling people before Election Day. Hillary is one of the highest paid politicians on the health insurance lobbyists’ payroll -- how “universal” do you think her healthcare will be?

In my opinion, Obama -- who is NOT one of the highest paid politicians on the health insurance lobbyists’ payroll – has a very doable healthcare plan for Americans. And Obama recognizes that the only way to universal healthcare is to approach it incrementally. Hillary wants voters to believe that universal healthcare can happen in one fell swoop on Day One, but that - given the government’s longstanding loyalties to the health insurance industry - would be impossible.

Obama recognizes that his healthcare plan will be an “under the radar,” but effective first incremental step towards TRUE universal healthcare.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

To Jefferson County Democrats: Please help me understand.

My Republican friend called me up this morning. He had already checked the Jefferson County primary results: “Looks like the Democrats in your county played right into the hands of the Republicans.” He explained that Clinton had garnered more than 70% of the votes. All I could do was shrug, and agree with him.

So Jefferson County Democrats, I need a little help understanding your vote for Hillary: You knew that McCain would be the Republican front-runner. And you’ve learned how the average American voter thinks, after the voting results for the presidential elections of 2000 and 2004.
So please, explain to me how Clinton will have any realistic chance of defeating McCain in a presidential race.

Your ultimate goal was to keep a Republican out of the White House, right? Well, have you never played chess? Never played billiards? As you know, good strategy means, before you make a move, you anticipate your opponent’s reaction to your move.

For months now, impartial political strategists have been making it known that if the race is between Obama and McCain, there’d be no way to stop Obama. These were impartial political strategists – am I the only Jefferson County voter who watches C-SPAN?

And when I say “opponent” I don’t just mean Republicans. Based on the 2000 and 2004 election results, “opponent” for Democrats should also mean the swing voters of America’s heartland.

The “Anti-Hillary for President” revolution has been decades in the making. Ever since Hillary was a blip on the political radar, millions of Americans have enthusiastically put their money and passion into burying her.

(Don’t ask me why Hillary inspires such hatred. But if you thought Swift Boating John Kerry was ugly, it will be nothing compared the Hillary smear machine. I know Hillary has thick skin, but I’m making an additional point here: what good will it do this country to go through a second Clinton hate-a-thon? It will bring out the absolute worst on all sides, and the country will be the worse for it. Think the Starr Report for Hillary. Think mainstream-ized misogyny. This country is suffocating in partisan politics, and a Hillary vs. McCain campaign, and a Hillary win, would only drag our country deeper into partisan purgatory.)

But beyond preventing the prolonging of Republican rule in the White House, Jefferson County Democrats need to provide concrete evidence explaining why Hillary is a better presidential candidate than Barack Obama.

I read a Letter From the People in today’s Watertown Daily Times with the headline, “Sen. Clinton attentive to North Country issues.” Yet the writer did not produce a single concrete example of how Clinton has been attentive to the North Country. Please Jefferson County Democrats, please provide me with examples of Hillary bringing prosperity to the North Country.

Hillary voted for the Iraq War. Are there military families in the North Country that feel her vote wasn’t in the best interest of the sons and daughters of the North Country?

If you plan to respond, please abstain from saying it is time America had a woman president. I could not agree more that having a woman American president is past due – but having Hillary as our first woman president will establish an ugly precedent: Imagine your young daughter asking her guidance counselor, “What are my chances of being President like Hillary Clinton?” And the guidance counselor responds, “Well, it depends on who you marry, whether your husband is a popular former President. We certainly haven’t had any woman Presidents who won the Presidency on their own merits.” I’m not saying Hillary has no merits apart from Bill, but how do we stop future generations from making that generalization?

So please, someone help me out. Explain your vote for Hillary. I’m not a Hillary hater - she’s been a decent ambassador for NY - and I don’t necessarily think Barack was the best of the Democrat presidential candidate lot -- I thought Joe Biden was the Democrats’ best choice to handle the Iraq War.

I just need an explanation why – considering what we’ve learned from the swing voters of America’s heartland, and considering all that we know about Obama, Clinton, and McCain – why did you believe voting for Hillary would ensure a brighter, prosperous future for America?
And I’m not saying a brighter, prosperous future for the Democrat Party; I’m saying a brighter future for our country.

Friday, February 1, 2008

"The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter" - Winston Churchill

As November 4th, 2008 nears, we see Republican, Democrat, and third candidates stumping for votes.

We live in the greatest nation in the world, our patrotism is strong, we're protecting our borders and our values -- and here in the North Country, we're the proud hometown of Fort Drum. But I believe democracy in our nation has become stagnant. We are lacking in keen critical judgment.

Too many Americans are easily persuaded by political pundits -- how much faith can you have in democracy when we've become eager buyers of sensationalism and partisan trash-talk. Too many Americans are seduced by celebrity-watch -- how industrious can our society be if we're so easily diverted by Britney. We'd rather go shopping, looking for the best deals, than spend time learning about each candidiate.

Politicians at every level - local, county, state, and nation - set "the agenda." But Americans themselves deserve blame. Politicians wouldn't be where they are if they didn't get votes.

In this election year, our democracy depends on the active, responsible, and discerning voters. It can be challenging to navigate through all campaign spin and rhetoric. But that is what a democracy should be for every citizen -- it should be a challenge. Keeping democracy alive and thriving requires work.

In this blog, I will not pretend to know the best direction for our county, state, and nation, but I will offer suggestions, and try to prescribe positive action.