Tag Archives: mccain

Will Today’s ‘Stupid’ Become Tomorrow’s ‘Smart’?

Back in November, both presidential candidates acknowledged that we had to reform our education system. Like most everything else, Obama and McCain naturally disagreed on how to solve this issue. Perhaps we need to pay teachers more and get the best-qualified educators to head our classrooms. Perhaps we need to have more vouchers and charter schools to foster competition. Perhaps we just need parents to get more involved in building shoebox dioramas and helping their kids with algebra problems.

Or, perhaps we’re just getting dumber. (After all, we elected George W. Bush twice. Enough said).

Now that Obama’s education team is in place, here is my billion-dollar proposal: tell smart people to start making babies. Seriously. Set up some mood music in grad school dorms, dim the lighting in the labs, and arrange for some conjugal visits at the space station. Let’s do everything we can to encourage reading and breeding amongst the nation’s intellectual elite.

Why? Consider this: over the past few decades, we have seen significant declines in the birth rates across the country. As more and more young people started going to college, and women became more prevalent in the workplace, births in the U.S. have naturally declined. With that, the composition of mothers has also changed:

“Fertility tends to decline as education level increases. Women may put off marriage and children to further their education, then to get established in the labor force. Women age 40 to 44 with no high school education had about 2.5 children in 2004, compared with 1.6 children among women with a graduate or professional degree.” – Mary Kent, Population Reference Bureau

So keeping this in mind, let’s look at the following charts from the National Center for Health Statistics, which show the birth rates by state in 2002.

In this graphic, the blue states are the most fertile, while the green states are the most sterile (somewhat ironic).  We can see that the states with the highest birth rates are typically in the Midwest and South, whereas East Coasters and Californians are apparently too busy to procreate.  The state with the highest birth rate was Utah (20.9 for every 1,000 people), which may not be all that surprising. (Go to full report)

Now here is a graph from a U.S. Census report, on the percentage of college graduates by state:

So it looks like the states with the most college grads are also the states which tend to have the lowest birth rates.

Hmm…

Consider if this trend continues: the least-educated areas of the country are popping out babies like hotcakes, while the sterile Ivy Leaguers in the Northeast are busy trading mortgage-backed securities on Wall Street. Thus, the composition of the American population is skewed towards those with parents who are less educated. One may argue about the degree to which parents’ educational attainment affects their children’s test scores, but there is undoubtedly a correlation between the two. And while Texans and Idahoans may rightly argue that causality cannot be determined by a few colorful graphs, the data is in line with what we know: women who attain less education have more babies. There is a greater likelihood then that their kids will get less education than children born to snooty PhD candidates in Washington. And their kids will have more kids and more kids, while the slice of snooty intellectuals gets smaller and smaller.

So what can turn this around? In the end, we need to build a universal culture that values learning, instead of a dumb-is-cool culture that values a self-righteous idiocracy. We need to get students excited about education, and close the achievement gap that too often divides along racial and socioeconomic lines. We may need to rehaul our schools, implement student incentive programs, or pay our teachers more…

And we could also start encouraging smart people to make some babies, too.

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It’s Not Personal, It’s Just Politics

Updated (4/13/09): With Al Franken finally winning the Minnesota Senate seat, thus concludes the saga of the 2008 election.  I wanted to revisit this post from Election Day, November 4.  I remember writing this piece on Monday night, staying up well past 4 AM on Tuesday to gather all my thoughts about the upcoming election (the official timestamp on this is 7:57 AM EST, but I was in Los Angeles at the time).  That night, I had been supremely afraid that regardless of the outcome, our country would be polarized in choosing a new President–I myself had threatened to move to Canada if McPalin won.  It’s interesting to reflect back on the election now, almost five months later.  I recall the heated discussions I had about the candidates’ economic policies.  I remember sending out fiery emails directed at my closest friends.  I even recall talking up an elderly gentleman at a nightclub in LA.  Upon learning he was from Florida, I passionately implored the man to send in an absentee ballot… and I even gave him my phone number (bad idea).  Now that the dust has settled, I think this post still accurately reflects my feelings about politics as a whole: its genesis is unique to us all as individuals, but its consequences–impassioned debate, renewed social interest, and mobilizing for change–are universal.

Until very recently, I had never been that political. Having been too young to remember George H.W. Bush, I essentially grew up during the Clinton administration. Thus, controversy and scandal marred my perception of politics in the formative years of my life. I was thirteen when the Lewinsky scandal broke, and, like many other thirteen-year olds at the time, I developed a rather cynical judgment of politicians. My views were reinforced–and most likely helped–by my parents’ own cynicism. My mother and father had immigrated to this country separately in the early ’70s to attend graduate school at Indiana University. They met serendipitously at IU, finding out that they had once been kindergarten classmates. After marrying and graduating, my parents moved eastward to Massachusetts to raise their young daughter. American politics at the time was foreign to them. During grad school, their perception of U.S. politics had been molded by classmates who had lived through the polarizing ’60s, the civil rights movement, and Vietnam. Government and party were ever-changing characters: at times hero, at times villain. Thus, when my parents became American citizens, they registered to vote as independents. My mother favored candidates with strong morals, and my father favored candidates that pissed off my mother. My childhood was one that was thoroughly apolitical. With regards to politics, apathy towards candidates was almost deemed to be more reasonable than hope.

gore-bushThe first election I took an interest in was 2000. For some reason, I was immediately put off by Al Gore and his highfalutin “locked box” rhetoric and “I invented the Internet” claims. The way I considered it, politics was less about the issues and more about the candidates themselves. Al Gore was a stuffy elitist, while Bush was an easygoing, sensible everyman (or so I thought). Times were good, the economy was strong, and America was still a well-respected leader in the world. Had I been old enough to vote, I may very well have voted for Bush back then. Overall, though, neither candidate inspired me to care much about the outcome. When Bush was finally announced as the winner of Florida, I remember having an entirely neutral feeling about it all.

When I turned eighteen, I registered to vote as an independent. My first opportunity to cast a major ballot came in 2004, in a markedly different presidential election than the one four years ago. In the post-9/11 world, we were facing a war, terrorism abroad, and a crisis of national security. My own understanding of American politics and government had matured since 2000. Whereas previously I had based my preference solely on the likability of a candidate, I now realized that there were more important issues at stake. Our country was at war. The power of the president had been expanded. Four years of American jingoism and cowboy politics was enough. Although I did not personally like Kerry as a candidate, I found myself firmly in the company of the anti-Bush moderates.

2004 was disappointing, but it was also a personal revelation of sorts.

martyAfter the election, I found myself becoming more aware of politics. I started to discern the conservative principles within the economics taught by my college professors (“taxes are bad”). I began to notice the bubble of social liberalism that seemed to swell only within the gates of Cambridge. I remember getting into an argument with the president of the Republican Club about the war. I had to break up an emotional discussion about abortion in the dining hall. On spring break in Cancun, six of my closest friends got into a heated battle about affirmative action while drinking margaritas at the pool. At that point, I realized that politics wasn’t just a ho-hum dinner table topic like it’d been treated at my house; instead, for many people, politics were real, inflammatory, emotional, and raw.

I can see now that my background and upbringing laid the foundation for my political predisposition. The experience of my parents instilled tolerance, moderation, and a general skepticism. As I grew older, I came to develop ideals that were shaped by these base values. Throughout my discussions, arguments, and fights, I started to piece together the strata of my own political views. My experiences in college and beyond have further informed my politics.

So, that is my personal journey into the world of politics, which has led me to the 2008 election.

During this presidential campaign, I have had frequent, impassioned exchanges with close friends over our differences in choice for president. (I even berated a friend–a McCain supporter–on the streets outside of Les Deux at 2 AM while eating a street-meat hot dog… low point). Although these fights were trivial at the outset, they often felt inherently personal. After all, we each had our own unique stories that had shaped our ideals. Influences such as family, religion, education, race and wealth informed our politics, to varying degrees. Thus, attacks on our politics seemed almost like personal attacks on our values, experiences, and perspectives on how we see the world. It almost became a tale of us vs. them, of good vs. evil.

obamavoteBut, I often need to be reminded that even though politics can signal differences in values, these differences do not necessarily mean that Democrats and Republicans can’t be friends, lovers, or soul mates. Differences cannot trump friendships or shared experiences.

So with that in mind, even if you’re a hardcore Obamanite, please reach out across the aisle today and shake hands with a McCainiac at the polls. If you’re a Palin fan, hug someone wearing a Barack the Vote shirt. If we do that today, we can unite together as Americans with common stories but perhaps differing opinions. We can present our politics as giving us a menu of choices, not a good vs. evil parable. We can show off our democracy around the world, and get our youth excited about our political leaders. Then regardless of the election outcome, we will all have already won.

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2008: The Race That Was

We’re five days away from November 4th, and it kind of feels like summer camp is ending. I’m a bit sad, but I’m also excited that it’s finally over. After the 4th, there will be no more political ads, no more pandering for votes, and no more McCain-Obama melodrama… something we can all look forward to. To me, election day is almost like an early New Years: I expect that everything will turn out fine, but I still have a little pocket of dread that Y2K will hit, the country will be catapulted back into the dark ages, and Joe the Plumber will become Secretary of State. And so, with the upcoming end to a tumultuous campaign, here is our requisite look back at what we’ve learned in 2008, The Race that Was.

  • If you want to be President, start vetting your acquaintances. If someone you know ever did or said something crazy, you’re on the hook by association. It doesn’t matter how well you know them: if you have an acquaintance who eats babies, you’re a baby eater too.
  • If you want to be Vice President, shoot some moose, drop your g’s, and wink a lot: Vettin’ is not necessary. Neither are press conferences, direct answers, or substance. Simply put on $150,000 worth of designer digs, and tell people that the other presidential candidate eats babies. And if it doesn’t work, well, there’s always 2012. By then you should be able to handle a press conference or two.
  • Tina Fey should send Sarah Palin a Christmas card. With a picture of her in a black power suit, surrounded by the pile of money she’s made.
  • Once again, Ohio and Florida decide. And we shall find out if they are “pro-America” on November 4th. If they are not, we should consider seceding them to Canada and Mexico, respectively.
  • The economy is like an ugly stepsister. When you’re in the family, you don’t want to trot her out at the risk of repulsing other people. So, you dress her up, throw on some lipstick, and try to divert all attention to the pretty, wink-happy stepsister instead. When you’re outside the fam, you take one look at the atrocity, say, “holy crap,” and schedule an emergency extreme makeover.
  • The focus of this election being the economy. Back in 2004, the election focused on terrorism and Iraq. In 2000, social issues like gay marriage and stem cell research were at the forefront. It’s interesting to see how priorities change… Thanks, George.
  • Joe the Plumber has come to symbolize middle America. But, he owes back taxes, he’s not actually a plumber, and his real name is Sam. And if he’s making $250K+ a year, middle Americans should probably look for a better spokesperson… like Phil the Pharmacist or Martha the Schoolteacher.
  • There is still racism in this country. Not just the black-white kind, but also based on religious beliefs. (Colin Powell said it best on Meet the Press: “Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer’s no, that’s not America.”) You’d think that by 2008, we would be better than this.
  • Democracy can sometimes be scary. They are predicting that McCain only has a 4.3% chance of winning, but I’m still scared about Y2K.

November 4th… VOTE! And even though this post is biased, you can vote however you like.

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Pretty Soon, Today’s ‘Stupid’ Will Be Tomorrow’s ‘Smart’

Last week, both presidential candidates acknowledged that we had to reform our education system. Like most everything else, Obama and McCain naturally disagreed on how to solve this issue. Perhaps we need to pay teachers more and get the best-qualified educators to head our classrooms. Perhaps we need to have more vouchers/charter schools to foster competition. Maybe we just need parents to get more involved in building shoebox dioramas and helping their kids with algebra problems.

Or, perhaps we’re just getting dumber. (After all, we elected George W. Bush twice. Enough said).

Consider this theory: over the past few decades, we have seen significant declines in the birth rates across the country. As more and more young people started going to college, and women became more prevalent in the workplace, births in the U.S. have naturally declined:

“Fertility tends to decline as education level increases. Women may put off marriage and children to further their education, then to get established in the labor force. Women age 40 to 44 with no high school education had about 2.5 children in 2004, compared with 1.6 children among women with a graduate or professional degree.” – Mary Kent, Population Reference Bureau

So keeping this in mind, let’s look at the following charts from the National Center for Health Statistics, which show the birth rates by state in 1990. The chart on the top shows the birth rate, while the chart on the bottom shows the growth in births from 1990 to 2002. The state with the highest birth rate was Utah (20.9 for every 1,000 people), far surpassing Texas as the place where the most babies are made (or at least birthed). (Go to full report)

The states with the highest birth rates are typically in the Midwest and South, whereas East Coasters and Californians are apparently too busy to procreate. Unsurprisingly, these are the same areas where birth rates have declined the most in the past ten years, whereas states like Texas, Oklahoma, Utah, Georgia, and North Carolina have stepped up their baby-making game.

Now here is a graph from a U.S. Census report, on the percentage of college graduates by state:

So, the states with the most college grads are also the states which tend to have the lowest birth rates.

Hmm…

Consider if this trend continues: the least-educated areas of the country are popping out babies like hotcakes, while the sterile Ivy Leaguers in the Northeast are busy trading mortgage-backed securities on Wall Street. Thus, the composition of the American population is skewed towards those with parents who are less educated. One may argue about the degree to which parents’ educational attainment affects their children’s test scores, but there is undoubtedly a correlation between the two. And while Texans and Idahoans may rightly argue that causality cannot be determined by a few colorful graphs, the data is in line with what we know: women who attain less education have more babies. There is a greater likelihood then that their kids will get less education than children born to snooty PhD candidates in Washington. And their kids will have more kids and more kids, while the slice of snooty intellectuals gets smaller and smaller.

So what can turn this around? In the end, we need to build a universal culture that values learning, instead of a culture that values moose huntin’ and a self-righteous idiocracy. We need to get students excited about education, and close the achievement gap that too often divides along racial and socioeconomic lines. We may need to rehaul our schools, implement student incentive programs, or pay our teachers more…

And we could also start encouraging smart people to make some babies, too.

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Thoughts on the Final Presidential Debate

Some thoughts on last night’s debate:

On Taxes: John McCain definitely had a clear mandate for this debate: make Barack Obama seem like a tax-crazy, big-government socialist.  Invoking Joe Six Pack’s cousin, Joe the Plumber, McCain tried to portray an Obama administration as one that would force “Joe the plumber and millions more like him is have their taxes increased and not be able to realize the American dream of owning their own business.”  In the following exchange, Obama admitted that he disliked paying taxes.  McCain’s response?

Senator Obama: Look, nobody likes taxes. I would prefer that none of us had to pay taxes, including myself. But ultimately, we’ve got to pay for the core investments that make this economy strong and somebody’s got to do it.

Senator McCain: Nobody likes taxes. Let’s not raise anybody’s taxes, OK?

Instead of offering that cheeky response, McCain could have said, “True, nobody likes taxes, and true, some taxes are necessary for the infrastructure of America.  BUT, the fundamental difference is that you believe the government can best grow the economy, and you have to pay for your big government through raising taxes.  On the other hand, I believe that the American people and the free market can best make those core investments and rebuild our economy.  By taking money away from the people, and putting it into the hands of the government, you’re sacrificing efficiency and growth, and that is not what we need.”  That would’ve been a better response for a conservative Republican than, “Well, no one likes taxes, so I don’t want to raise them.”

On Negative Ads: McCain started out strong, even with his frequent references to Joe the Plumber.  But he really got sidetracked with Bob Schieffer’s question about negative ads: it was pretty clear that this question favored Obama.  After all, Obama’s references to McCain (“erratic,” “out of touch,” “lie,” “angry,” “losing his bearings”) were softballs compared to the extremely negative stuff that the McCain campagin was hurling at Obama: “disrespectful,” “dangerous,” “dishonorable,” “he lied,” “palled around with terrorists.”  McCain did himself no favors by bringing up the subject of his highly-publicized rallies, where crowds were calling Obama a terrorist, yelling “kill him”, and shouting racial slurs.  Obama, to his credit, mostly deflected attention off the negative: 

Senator Obama: The important point here is, though, the American people have become so cynical about our politics, because all they see is a tit- for-tat and back-and-forth. And what they want is the ability to just focus on some really big challenges that we face right now, and that’s what I have been trying to focus on this entire campaign.  We can have serious differences about our health care policy, for example, John, because we do have a difference on health care policy, but we… (gets interrupted)  But when people suggest that I pal around with terrorists, then we’re not talking about issues.

…So, naturally McCain brings up Bill Ayers. 

If you were watching on CNN, viewer reaction from the focus group in Ohio was immediately negative.  McCain would have done better had he delivered this criticism via rap with Flo Rida: “Oh hot damn / This is my jam / Keep my campaign going til the AM / Y’all don’t understand / Make me think all day / About Bill Ayers, Ay-Ay-Ayers.”

On Their Behaviors: Much was said about Gore’s performance in the debates in 2004–sometimes the way people look leave more of an impression than what they say.  During last night’s debate, Obama appeared calm and respectful.  Even though he had the chance to blast Palin, he exercised full restraint and just praised her skills as a “politician”.  John McCain, on the other hand, could not stop blinking, released a couple of audible sighs (perhaps remorse over missing bingo night), gave some awkwardly smug smiles, and looked almost like he was going to throw in a wink á la his running mate.  Some of the split screen shots showed McCain’s evident distaste for what Obama was saying.   

 

In  the end?  McCain did better than he did before, but we saw the biggest margin of victory for Barack Obama in a sampling of national polls.  In CNN’s poll, 58% said Obama won, versus 31% for McCain, the largest margin of victory in the CNN poll for any debate (it was 51% Obama/38% in the first debate, and 54% Obama/30% in the second).  Similarly, in the CBS poll of uncommitted viewers, 53% said Obama won, while only 22% said McCain won. 

This was McCain’s last stand to either make himself stand out, or goad Obama into doing something stupid.  Neither happened.   And so in the words of “Lolli Lolli” by Three 6 Mafia: “Like Barack Obama said / Yeah it’s time for a change.”

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The Presidential Debate Redux, With Michael Scott

TOM BROKAW: Good evening from Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee.  I am Tom Brokaw of NBC News.  Welcome to the second presidential debate of this campaign season, sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates, AIG, and Dick Fuld’s compensation package.  As you have noticed, this is the first ever debate to feature not only the two presidential candidates, but also a representative of middle America, Michael Scott of the Dunder Mifflin Paper Company.  Welcome, Senator Obama, Senator McCain, and Mr. Scott. (polite applause)

MICHAEL SCOTT: Tom, I would prefer that you address me as Senator Scott.

TOM BROKAW: (long pause)…Uh, okay, let’s get started.  The first question is to Senator Obama.  This from Oliver Clark.  Oliver asks: Through this economic crisis, most of the people that I know have had a difficult time.  How is this bailout package actually going to help these people out?

SENATOR OBAMA: Thanks Tom.  Oliver, first, let me tell you what’s in the rescue package for you. Right now, the credit markets are frozen up and what that means, as a practical matter, is that small businesses and some large businesses just can’t get loans.  If they can’t get a loan, that means that they can’t make payroll. If they can’t make payroll, then they may end up having to shut their doors and lay people off.  And if you imagine just one company trying to deal with that, now imagine a million companies all across the country.  So it could end up having an adverse effect on everybody, and that’s why we had to take action. But we shouldn’t have been there in the first place.

SENATOR McCAIN: I’d like to jump in here.  My friends, Oliver’s question is a good one.  You know, the match that lit this fire was Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. I’ll bet you, people like Allen and Mr. Scott here probably never even heard of them before this crisis.

MICHAEL SCOTT: (perplexed)Who’s Allen?

SENATOR McCAIN: See?  So, Fannie and Freddie were the match that started this forest fire.  Some of us stood up against it. There were others who took a hike.

TOM BROKAW: Thank you Senator McCain.  Mr. Scott, do you have anything to add?

MICHAEL SCOTT: Tom, again I would prefer it if you addressed me as Senator.  And yes, yes I do have something to add.  You know, I run a paper business out in Scranton, Pennsylvania.  While Fannie and Freddie are out there lighting fires, guess who, or more importantly, what–is getting burned?  That’s right: paper.  And you know what will happen if these forest fires don’t get extinguished?  No more paper. (McCain nodding somberly) Now, I’ve taken a hike before, don’t get me wrong.  There are many beautiful trails outside of Scranton.  But if we keep having these fires, what’s going to happen to these trees that overlook the trails?  Whoa, big fire, (simulates fire with hands) Smokey the Bear can’t save us, ahhh–there goes the paper!  There go the trees!  There go the trails!  Now I’m out of both a job and an enjoyable weekend hobby.

TOM BROKAW: …Right.  OK, next question.  Senator McCain, in all candor, do you think the economy is going to get worse before it gets better?

SENATOR McCAIN: My friends, we can fix our economy. Americans’ workers are the best in the world. They’re the fundamental aspect of America’s economy.  They’re the most innovative. They’re the best–they’re most–have best–we’re the best exporters. We’re the best importers. They’re most effective. They are the best workers in the world.

TOM BROKAW: (confused) OK… Senator Obama?

SENATOR OBAMA: Part of the problem here is that for many of you, wages and incomes have flat-lined. For many of you, it is getting harder

MICHAEL SCOTT: That’s what she said!

SENATOR OBAMA: (looking pissed) Excuse me?

MICHAEL SCOTT: Sorry, that’s just a thing I do, I–you know, OK, so seriously–the economy.  I mean, I live a pretty good life.  I don’t own 8 cars or anything, but I do own my own condo, I run my own branch of Dunder Mifflin, AND (pointing to stomach) I am a soon-to-be father.

TOM BROKAW: Congratulations, but we really need to get on–

MICHAEL SCOTT: (continuing) Now, do I want to raise my child in a country where America is #2?  Where we’re sitting at home, looking up as Madagascar laps us in the recyclable paper business?  No, no–that is not what I want for my child.

TOM BROKAW: Thank you Mr. Scott.

MICHAEL SCOTT: (wagging finger) Tom???

TOM BROKAW: (reluctantly)…Senator Scott.  Let’s move on.  Next question, Senator Obama: There are some real questions about whether everything can be done at once.  Health care, energy, and entitlement reform–give us your list of priorities.

SENATOR OBAMA: Terrific question, Tom.  We’re going to have to prioritize, just like a family has to prioritize. Now–

SENATOR McCAIN: (interrupting) Hey look, we’re not–we’re not–we’re not rifle shots here.  We are Americans. And I think you can do all three at once.

MICHAEL SCOTT: (whispering) That’s what…

TOM BROKAW: That’s enough.  We’re moving on.  Our last question is from a hippie in New Hampshire.  She asks: As president, how will you know what you don’t know and what will you do when you figure out that which you don’t know?  Senator Obama, I’ll start with you.

SENATOR OBAMA: Tom, one of the things that we know about the presidency is that it’s never the challenges that you expect. Here’s what I do know: I know that if the economy continues to struggle, Mr. Scott over here is going to have a tough time keeping up with the mortgage payments on the condo he’s got.  His firm may soon be facing the real possibility of having to let some people go.

We can’t expect that if we do the same things that we’ve been doing over the last eight years, that somehow we are going to have a different outcome.  We need fundamental change. That’s what’s at stake in this election.

MICHAEL SCOTT: (looking fearful) Will there still be enough money for a Christmas party?

SENATOR McCAIN: My friends, there are challenges around the world that are new and different and there will be different–we will be talking about countries sometime in the future that we hardly know where they are on the map, some Americans. (Michael Scott nods emphatically)

When times are tough, we need a steady hand at the tiller and the great honor of my life was to always put my country first. And–and–you know who is going to raise our taxes and take away Christmas?  That one.  (points at Senator Obama)

MICHAEL SCOTT: (running from stage) Noooooooooooooo!!

TOM BROKAW: And that concludes tonight’s debate from here in Nashville.  We want to thank Belmont University, the Commission, and the traffic light operator for tonight’s debate.  There is one more opportunity for the talking heads to give their stump speeches: next Wednesday, October 15, with host Ryan Seacrest and musical guest Akon.  Good night everyone.

(NOTE: All text in black is what was actually said, taken from the CNN transcript of Tuesday night’s debate.)

 

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Random Thoughts on… Irony

In Politics

  • Exxon Mobil sponsoring CNN’s broadcast of the VP debate last night, especially given that both candidates embraced the populist approach of bashing “big oil”. (1)
  • Sarah Palin’s performance in the debate being considered a success because she was able to (mostly) complete coherent sentences. (2)
  • When being smart and knowledgeable is actually a handicap to winning an election… Who knew?
  • So, conservatives are conservative when it comes to the economy (favoring less government intervention), but not when it comes to social issues (favoring more intervention in the areas of women’s rights, stem cell research, gay marriage, censorship, etc.)  Liberals are exactly the opposite, favoring more government oversight on policy, but less intervention when it comes to social issues.  Thus, neither party can claim consistency in a truly conservative or liberal approach.

In the Economy

  • In Rihanna’s hit song “Umbrella”, Jay-Z raps: ” No clouds in my storms / Let it rain / I hydroplane in the bank / Coming down like the Dow Jones…” Prophetic.(3)
  • Wall Street bigwigs pushing for more government intervention in the market through the bailout. Yes, it’s necessary, but still, weren’t these the same guys who argued that Adam Smith’s invisible hand would solve all worries? Well, the invisible hand has struck.
  • Even though the Republicans are supposed to be the pro-business party, the two wealthiest men in the U.S., Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, are Democrats. So is billionaire George Soros, Lloyd Blankfein (CEO of Goldman), Steve Jobs (Apple), and several other money-making businessmen too.  So the argument that Democrats (and their policies) are totally anti-business may fall flat…
  • While on the topic of the financial crisis, President Bush is the only president in history to have received an MBA… and from Harvard Business School no less. Bush most likely will fall into the same chute as Jeff Skilling (convicted CEO of Enron) when it comes to disreputable HBS alums.

In Everyday Life

  • Non-drowsy Mucinex commercials making mucus seem cute. Talk about putting lipstick on a pig.
  • The Jonas Brothers succeeding. How come Hanson flamed out ten years ago? Hmm…bop.
  • The Tampa Bay Rays are in the MLB playoffs while the Yankees are sitting at home.(4) And the Rays made the playoffs a year after they got rid of the “Devil” in their name. Coincidence? I think not.
  • Britney making headlines for a song, of all things. Where did all the K-Fed, hair-shaving, alcohol abusin’, baby mama drama go? I think I prefer that to her singing.

(1) If you were wondering, the Exxon Mobil PAC has contributed 87% to Republicans this year, vs. 13% to Democrats.

(2) Sidenote: When did we start celebrating mediocrity and requiring down-home folksiness as a path to the Presidency? Shoot, I haven’t prepared for this question… help! Maybe I can just wink my way out of this one. Or divert the question to something about energy… Think it’ll work? You betcha!

(3) “Umbrella” was released on March 29, 2007. Since then, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has fallen 2,195 points, or about 17%.

(4) Yankee payroll: $207m (#1 in Major League Baseball)… Tampa Bay payroll: $43m (second to last). In fact, the 3 other AL playoff teams are #4 (Red Sox), #5 (White Sox), and #6 (Angels) in payroll.

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