A president for conflict.

McCain likes to throw his military credentials around.  The problem is that, as a soldier, he wasn't really all that good.  In fact, we have a very relevant, measurable datapoint that places him at the very bottom of the barrel.  Let me repeat that:  McCain is judged by the military to be a third rate soldier.

But he happened to be a third rate soldier with powerful friends.

He tries to impress by saying that he was there during the Cuban missile crisis.  What he forgets to mention is that he there as a pilot.  Not a decision maker.  The guy calling the shots was Kennedy and any credit that is due for resolving that situation is due to Kennedy and his administration.  McCain had no impact whatsoever on the Cuban missile crisis.  None.  Zero.

In fact, the last person on earth you want as your commander in chief during a conflict is McCain. You do not want someone known to have a short fuse.  You do not want someone who has demonstrated that he can't handle pressure and will act erratically.  You do not want someone who calls for time out and then runs off when the going gets tough.

McCain is the wrong guy to handle conflict.  He can only create and escalate conflict.

And indeed, McCain is the preferred choice of Americas enemies -- exactly because they depend on a commander in chief that will escalate and act erratically to achieve their goals for them.

Where your tax-money is going.

Palin has previously expressed that she has no qualms about bending and breaking the rules and that it would be up to the judicial system to determine what she can and cannot do.  Act first, then let the courts mop up the mess.  Unless challenged, she will exploit her position for her own personal benefit and do so unashamedly.

It is therefore no surprise when story after story surfaces in which she is wasting taxpayer money to live the good life.

Also, it must be every woman's dream to have $150.000 thrown at her by the RNC for lipstick and clothing.  Especially in these times of people slipping into foreclosure.  Good thing that Sarah Palin is well fed, well housed, elegantly clad and painted to perfection while the rest of the people have to grapple with more mundane problems.

I guess not even applying $150.000 worth of lipstick is going to make this candidacy more palatable.

United States of Dumb

Give the people bread and circus, and they will be happy to ignore that their very existence is founded on unsustainability.  The way we reward people for what they do reflects our priorities and our priorities, in the long run, translate to what tomorrow will be like.

And people wonder why the United States is circling the drain.  People wonder why the United States can be at war with Afghanistan and Iraq, yet a preposterously large portion of the people fervently supportive of waging wars abroad cannot even point out the countries the US is at war with on a map.


Rules are for everyone else.

McCain is feeling the pain of DMCA with regard to "fair use".  Apparently some of the mashups that the campaign posted on Youtube were taken down due to alleged copyright infringement. He had access to the same process of getting them back up again as everyone else -- yet he asked for special treatment because clearly, the process is too time-consuming.

Now a reasonable reaction would be to address the issue of how the DMCA is applied frivolously by political means;  call for fixing the laws and to ensure that "fair use" is indeed protected under the law to allow "quoting" the works of others.  After all,  those elected to an office are there to act in our best interest -- not their own.

This is a chance for McCain to highlight a wrong and work to set it right.  This is a chance for McCain to show that he is prepared to fix laws that are applied in an unreasonable manner.  But what does he do?  He thinks he is entitled to special treatment.  He underlines the fact that he thinks that he is better than you, more important than you.  Rules should not apply to him.

Once the election is over, he will go back to not caring.  To catering to special interests.

Perhaps it is not too unexpected.  We're talking about a guy who had it easy most of his life.  He never had to perform well to get what he wanted.  He led a privileged life of mediocrity (well, below mediocre if we take his school record into account, finishing at the very bottom of his class).  We're talking about a guy that has more houses, more cars, more employees and servants than he is able to keep track of -- and then he wants us to think that "That One" is the elitist snob.

McCain, you are an elitist scumbag.  If you can't even deal with the DMCA without expecting special treatment, what sort of leader are you going to be?  It is clear that you think your rights are more important than those of the people you wish to represent. 

I find it a bit offensive that you campaign under the slogan "country first" when obviously all your acts project a "McCain first" mentality.

Tax plans drawn to scale.

Much has been said about tax cuts and of increasing taxes.

What I do not understand is that people who are not themselves in the upper tax brackets would be so upset about the topmost percentage being taxed heavier.

Perhaps it is because they aspire to find themselves at the top one day.  The vast majority never will no matter what they do.  The reality is that most of you will never be rich.  Most of you will never even get close to the upper tax brackets.  And should you be so lucky to get there, would it be so bad if you have to pay a little bit more?  Is it really that big a burden if you have to give a little bit more back to society?  The society that allowed you to be successful in the first place? 

Which is more patriotic?  Contributing to your country by shouldering a bit more of the tax-burden or letting those less fortunate shoulder the burden? If you are making hundreds of thousands of dollars, does a few thousand dollars really matter that much to you?

Health first, prosperity follows.

Hans Rosling visualizes data with Gapminder helping us see the correlation between various parameters.  One of his conclusions is that the rate of change in prosperity depends on the availability of healthcare. 

This begs the question: if healthcare is so important for our prosperity, why is it that in the United States the general opinion seems to be that it should not be a priority for government? Why do we fear socialized healthcare?

What if the US collapses.

Slides and notes on the collapse of the Soviet Union and how it might differ from a collapse of the United States.  Scary stuff, but there are some points that do make you think.  Also note the date on the slides.

McCain on the Late Show.

Colin Powell endorses Obama

Ignorant and proud of it.

Mark stein.  Ignorant and proud of it.

Warts and all.

Judging by what I have read, the Abraham Lincoln quote that he wished to be painted "warts and all" was probably wrongly attributed to him.  Likewise it is assumed that when Walpole wrote that Cromwell insisted that Sir Peter Lely represent reality when painting him ("I desire you would use all your skill to paint my picture truly like me, and not flatter me at all; but remark all these roughnesses, pimples, warts, and everything as you see me, otherwise I will never pay a farthing for it''), that was probably a not an entirely accurate quote either.

Nevertheless, it is an interesting contrast that Fox seem to have gotten their panties in a twist over an un-retouched photograph of Sarah Palin on the cover of Newsweek.   How dare they reproduce the portrait of the Alaskan governor just as she is, without the interpretive aid of a Photoshop-wielding artist.

Since it is Fox that are outraged we can put aside any reservations about the Lincoln and Cromwell quotes being fabrications and just pretend them to be historically accurate.  I will leave it as an exercise to the reader to come up with a witticism on how Palin is being un-vice-presidential for having Fox obsess over her imperfect looks on her behalf.

Rolling Stone on McCain.

Rolling Stone magazine has an article about John McCain.  One would expect Rolling Stone to have a democrat bias so keep that in mind when reading or watching the video.  Some of the things said seem to have been confirmed -- others sound plausible, but I your guess is as good as mine.

Undignified McCain

Take a close look at McCain now, after the VP debate.  Does this petty individual seem presidential to you?  He knows Palin might have fooled Joe-Drunk-The-Sixpack and possibly appealed to the odd stereotypical hockey-mom -- but even he knows that she failed to live up to even the lowest benchmark of VPdom:  Dan Quayle.

So McCain does what his nature dictates.   He starts acting like a childish bully. Afraid that his status will drop through the floor if he doesn't punch the "uppity" smart kid on the nose.   

Over the next days or weeks he will try to sling as much mud has he possibly can -- in the hope that some of it will stick.  I hope Obama won't take the bait.  I hope he will not feed the juvenile bullying of McCain by spending any significant time on talking back to him.  And I sure as hell don't hope Obama will stoop to McCain's level and respond with the same sort of unworthy ads and non-rethoric.

Political debate, Fox style.

This is the level at which political debate takes place in the US.  This is the sort of raw sewage the public is fed without any warnings along the lines of  "Warning: may cause political blindness".

VP Debate

Managed to see just the start of the Debate on YouTube.com.  First impression of the first part: as predicted: all form and very little substance from Palin.  She plays the hockey-mom card and tries to turn her inexperience and lack of knowledge into a positive.   Very obvious that she was mostly regurgitating talking points given to her.

But to her credit:  there was a fluidity to her delivery.  Most voters have no real idea about the issues so they judge by the delivery.  They look at the packaging, not the contents.

Biden seemed more pleasant and toned down than on the campaign trail.

Who broke the economy?

factcheck.org has an article that attempts to shed some light on who broke the economy.  The last comment is a good summary:
The U.S. economy is enormously complicated. Screwing it up takes a great deal of cooperation. Claiming that a single piece of legislation was responsible for (or could have averted) is just political grandstanding. We have no advice to offer on how best to solve the financial crisis. But these sorts of partisan caricatures can only make the task more difficult.
The rest of the article can be found here.

The VP Debate

This is probably going to be a fairly weird debate.  On one hand you have Biden, with considerable political experience.  On the other hand you have Palin, with close to no grasp even on what the campaign she represents stands for.  It is going to be a substance versus form debate and the ground rules have already been set:  this is going to be a strictly no-contact fight.  (A deal that was struck for McCain to agree on turning up for his debate at all).

Right now, Palin is in hiding from the press, cramming for the debate.  Nose deep in the McCain Big Book Of One-Liners.  They must be pretty desperate at this point trying to make sure that at the very least she knows what positions she is supposed to take on various issues. 

I'm not sure what Biden will be doing to prepare.  In this debate, facts and figures won't matter as much as demeanor and folksiness.   It will be hard for Biden to figure out how to approach this. If he comes off as condescending or too aggressive, he will lose the debate in popular opinion.  And it will be exceedingly hard to not come off as condescending when debating The Master of the Non-Answer from Alaska.

Palin has given some terrible interviews of late where one of her answers was even repeated almost verbatim in a SNL skit with Tina Fey playing Palin.  No need to even bother writing gibberish lines when Palin is so capable of producing lines that can just be recycled for comic effect.  But it would be dangerous for Biden to under-estimate Palin's ability to charm her way out of a tight spot.

In the end, I think the voters are the big losers.  Presidential candidates and VP candidates in an american election are more afraid of actual face to face debate than a murder suspect is of taking the stand on his or her own trial.  Their marketing dollar can't help them there -- and the marketing dollar is what decides a presidential campaign.  Selling the voters a president or a VP is no different from selling consumers corbonated sugary water.  Same basic principles.  It is first and foremost a branding exercise.