Tag Archives: Republicans

The World According to Google

Classic debates, as settled by Google:

LIBRARIANS vs. ACCOUNTANTS: Maybe you hate fun.  Perhaps you just can’t sleep. If you’re in search of a good cure for insomnia, you should reach out to a librarian or an accountant.  One good story about the Dewey Decimal System and/or GAAP accounting should put you right to bed.  But which of these trusty professions is LESS boring and MORE fun?

GOOGLE SAYS: Librarians, with a whopping 2.6 million hits vs. a paltry 1.7 million for our accountants.  They might be ordering an audit check on this one.  (And, in an amazing twist, it turns out that librarians may actually be more fun than clowns. Shame on you, clowns.)

WALL STREET vs. MAIN STREET: It’s the age-old battle between khakis and jeans, white collar and blue collar, Madoff and low-life petty thieves.

GOOGLE SAYS: Wall Street…  Is this at all surprising?

BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE vs. UGLY PEOPLE: Are human beings really that superficial?

GOOGLE SAYS: Yes…  Beautiful people get 7.7x more hits than ugly people. If this is applicable to real life, then you should never, ever, go to a bar with a beautiful person.  She’ll get 7.7 free drinks to your measly one.  I would de-friend anyone who is more beautiful than you.

CALIFORNIA GIRLS vs. CALIFORNIA GURLS: One contains the correct spelling of the word “girls.”  The other doesn’t.  This should be easy, right?

GOOGLE SAYS: What the…  From now on, I am blaming teenage illiteracy on Katy Perry.  You don’t know how distressing this result is for me.  What’s next?? Are “gurls” going to “twurl” around school?  Will we be ordering ice cream with chocolate “swurls”?  Is Maytag going to be challenging “Whurlpool”? Kill me now.

DEMOCRATS vs. REPUBLICANS: Just in time for midterm elections: Let’s settle this once and for all.

GOOGLE SAYS: A resounding victory for Democrats!  Of course, this very scientific approach may have some flaws.  It could simply be that Dems are more computer/tech savvy than their Republican counterparts.  Or it could be that Republicans simply prefer using old school communication methods (perhaps carrier pigeons and/or messages in a bottle).  And, of course, a direct translation of this result would presume that Communists actually outnumber Republicans.  Just another example of the dirty, liberal media, right?…OR, is (Commie) Red the new black?  Google never lies…

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Just a Good, Old-Fashioned Town Hall… With the Crazies

Remember when we used to have town halls to discuss trivial matters? — Like how to get the neighbors off your lawn, or where to host the July 4th fireworks?  Well, we’ve evolved since then… now, town halls are all about whether the government should allow Grandma to live.  From yesterday’s meetings in Pennsylvania, Missouri, and New Hampshire, it appears that public sentiment (or at least the sentiment of the old and jobless who can attend these midday town halls) is clear: We want Grandma to live!  We’re not going to let Obama’s death panels take her!!  Bring your socialist friends back to Russia!!!  WE… ARE… AMERICA!!!!! (Thunderous applause, chants of “USA”, hootin’, hollerin’, waving of American flag… or, if wearing a patriotic-themed shirt, some saggy boob-shakin’)

jerryspringerOf course, Grandma was never in danger yesterday… unless she found herself in the middle of the angry mob.  I was more afraid for Grandpa Specter (D-Penn), who turns 80 in February, and who hosted his second town hall in Lebanon, PA.  Wearing a dark black suit (he had a death panel meeting in the afternoon), Specter gallantly stood a foot away from his constituents as they railed him about budget deficits, tort reform, and his flippy floppies.  One particularly hostile man invoked God before making his dramatic exit.  After an hour in front of that crowd, I half-hoped that a loony Russian socialist would euthanize ol’ Arlen right there, and put him out of his misery.

Given that the morning session in Pennsylvania was so fun, I had to tune in for Senator McCaskill’s (D-Mo.) town hall in Missouri.  McCaskill one-upped Specter with some drama of her own: an African-American supporter with a sign was attacked, then escorted out of the room amidst cheers.  McCaskill did her motherly best to shush the crowd, but her scolding led to even more disorder.  Appealing to a higher power (“Remember, we had a prayer in the beginning!”), McCaskill still couldn’t prevent the boos, the interruptions, and the frequent appeals that she just “go home.”  Perhaps the attendees simply wanted to have a good Christian hee-haw without Mom getting all huffy about healthcare reform.

While Obama’s town hall in New Hampshire was infinitely more civil (although someone did bring a gun), it all begs the question: Why the outrage?  Do people really believe that Obama is going to put down Grandma?  That the government wants to emulate the (gasp) old Soviet Union?  Never mind that most Western Europe countries have universal healthcare…  I suppose the fear that we’re turning into Britain (the redcoats!) no longer stokes a fire in most Americans. 

Along with the crazies, I too, have legitimate concerns with a universal healthcare plan… But, as long as Grandma gets to live, I’m willing to listen.

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Teabagging With the Republican Party

MSNBC’s David Shuster on Republicans “going nuts”

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on teabagging John McCain

CNN’s Anderson Cooper on talking while teabagging

Ironically, all this talk about American teabagging may be overshadowed by…who else? the Brits.  This clip of Susan Boyle from Britain’s Got Talent has become a viral YouTube hit.  Suffice to say, the 47-year old unmarried woman (who lives with her cat, Pebbles) has never tea-bagged before.

Britain’s Response to Teabagging Americans

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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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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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Random Thoughts on… Aliens

On this blog, we have talked at length about the problems that have challenged our country and our economy. The next few weeks will be a trying time for Americans as we maneuver through the throes of a recession, uncertainty, and increasingly ugly politics. The presidential election has become a public boxing match, complete with low blows, meritless jabs, and an attractive woman to draw the crowds. Several accusations of racism and sexism have been raised. Democrats and Republicans have continued to blame each other. The United States is divided once again: red vs. blue, white vs. black, old vs. young, creationists vs. educated people. To make matters worse, with a lame duck president, an unpopular war, and the fallout on Wall Street, our country’s standing in the world has continued to decline. So, not only are we struggling internally, but the rest of the world is saying, “I told you so”.

Thus, I am here to propose an all-encompassing solution to our problems, one that will boost our economy, bring people together, and elevate our relations with countries around the world:

Bring on the aliens.

Yes, aliens. Imagine flying saucers, little green men, and Joan Rivers’ face.

An alien attack on the White House brought people together in the movie Independence Day

Think about it: President Bush calls up the command center in Houston and says, “Let them in!” Thousands of alien spaceships fly through the hole in the ozone layer created by global warming. These aliens are smart (since they have spaceships) and angry (since they’ve been on a very, very long road trip with no rest stops). They quickly identify their U.S. target for alien invasion–the continental Midwest, because of its flat plains and welcoming, unassuming people.

Americans are soon alerted about the alien invasion, and boy, we are afraid. Afraid, and mad, because these damn spaceships are blocking satellite reception for DirecTV. John McCain and Barack Obama immediately deliver a joint speech about togetherness in the face of adversity. Sarah Palin enchants us all with a story about how she can see outer space from Alaska. The Sci-Fi channel switches to reality programming. Bound together by fear, and a renewed belief in our collective humanity, we shed our ideological differences and stand hand-in-hand with our human neighbors. A modern-day New Deal is put into place, creating thousands of jobs for ordinary Americans to build alien entrapment plants and spaceship bombers. And the rest of the world looks to us for a plan, as we are still the global leaders in science, technology, and alien objects (this is where Joan comes in). A U.N. coalition is quickly formed to fight the aliens, and confidence in American leadership is restored.

…Now, this is all assuming that the aliens want to attack us. Before we go ahead and bomb them, we might want to try a bit of diplomacy first. If the aliens come in peace, then I’m fine with them taking over Kansas. And who knows, maybe all of our current problems will actually be solved by one of the human candidates… With several swing states in the Midwest, I’m hoping that Obama’s got the alien vote.

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Lipstick, Politics, and the Economy

There are many political issues that preoccupy us on a daily basis. Some care deeply about issues like climate change and environmentalism. Others are concerned about healthcare costs and the future of Social Security. On John McCain’s website, McCain describes his stance on 19 vital issues, including the second amendment, the space program, and the “sanctity of life”. Not to be outdone, Barack Obama lists 23 issues on his site, although blindness caused by small text does not seem to be one of his major concerns. However, while recent news headlines have revolved around another investment bank possibly going under, the takeover of Fannie and Freddie, and our highest unemployment rate in 5 years, the candidates have been arguing over… lipstick.

After spending four years studying economics in college, I would like to think that the economy is more newsworthy than another story about Sarah Palin. But even while we hear about it all the time, the economy is often difficult to understand, and even more difficult to explain. The complexity of today’s economy can lead smart people to different conclusions with regards to policy… thereby confusing the rest of us even more.

For simplicity’s sake, I would argue that the difference between Republicans and Democrats is that Republicans focus on the macro aspect of the economy, while Democrats focus on the individual. From a macro perspective, we judge the economy based on indicators like the stock market, consumer confidence, the unemployment rate, and GDP growth, to name a few. As individuals, however, our perception of the economy is colored by our own experience: Do we have a job? Can we afford to buy things? Do we have money in the bank? Conservatives promote free-market ideals, lower taxes, and less government–sometimes at the expense of unskilled laborers and people who have fallen into misfortune. Liberals, on the other hand, advocate for an active government to temper the market’s unpredictable and unequal consequences on its citizens–sometimes at the expense of productivity and efficiency.

Then, determining good economic policy may ultimately depend on one’s beliefs and values.

My personal opinion is that while conservative economic policy may lead to greater productivity and wealth, I do not believe that increasing wealth is the only source of fulfillment for most people. The Darwinian inclination of the market can create an unhealthy focus on accumulating wealth as the benchmark for success or happiness, and can lead us to lose compassion for anyone less fortunate. We also know that a rising tide does not lift all boats, as inequality in America is just getting worse. I would rather live modestly in a community where I feel safe, than lavishly in a place where I’m constantly looking behind my shoulder.

An interesting take from RFK on our measure of the economy:

Our Gross National Product, now, is over $800 billion dollars a year, but that Gross National Product – if we judge the United States of America by that – that Gross National Product counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for the people who break them. It counts the destruction of the redwood and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl. It counts napalm and counts nuclear warheads and armored cars for the police to fight the riots in our cities…. Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country, it measures everything in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.Robert F. Kennedy, Kansas, 1968

Of course, the reason why most economists are conservative is because it’s difficult to measure the joy of children’s play and the behavioral reaction to growing inequality. For a conservative perspective and more technical tidbits and interesting facts about the economy: http://gregmankiw.blogspot.com/

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