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A List of Politicians Who Appeared On Non-News Programs

February 25, 2013 Leave a comment

My point for this list is this – being on TV as a politician or as a first lady is pretty much the standard, especially the last 15 years or so. From what I can tell, every President, Vice President, and First Lady have been on the Tonight Show. They all have several TV credits on IMDB. This is not unusual, so let’s just end the conversation and get back to issues, OK?

If there are more I should add, let me know!

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Picking on Rush Limbaugh

July 23, 2012 Leave a comment

Ok, I couldn’t help myself. All of this coverage on the new Batman movie, the Aurora, CO shootings, and the mass hysterical reaction to the whole thing is quite an insight into how politics and the media works. A perfect example of this is the partisan radio host Rush Limbaugh.  In my previous post, I mentioned how Rush Limbaugh was quoted before the movie was released as saying,  “Do you think that it is accidental that the name of the really vicious fire-breathing four-eyed whatever it is villain in this movie is named Bane?” He was speaking of Mitt Romney’s company Bain, which has been a democratic chanting point in this election. according the the Washington Examiner, some democrats were hoping the subliminal message would be that Bane (Bain) is evil and the superhero is good, again without context that Bane was a character almost 20 years before this election.

Now, Rush has come out saying Batman is more like Romney. He points out the fact that Batman is rich and fighting someone who doesn’t look as desirable and then compares them to people protesting in the Occupy Wall Street movement. He then later in the show goes back and says he still think it was a setup for the Obama campaign. What I find amazing is in the Washington Examiner, senior editorial writer Philip Klein had already made that statement days earlier. So it would appear that not only can Rush NOT make up his mind, he didn’t even have an original opinion on the matter.

I know it is Rush’s job to pick on the left and make the right look all lofty and mighty. It is the source of his ratings, and I’m sure at his core he believes only some of what he is saying. In order to build his radio show and to author books and build his brand, he must have at least some intelligence. What I hate is it is another example of where perhaps stepping away from the partisan politics at least on this subject makes the most sense in light of the recent events. Maybe Rush should wield his audience for good by starting a Rush Limbaugh Aurora Colorado victims fund that he could jump-start with a donation of his own and allow his audience to contribute as well. Those kids left behind are going to need help. This would be a time to leave a subject rest and help those victims.

Sorry Rush, but the more you talk about Batman, the more of a fool you appear to be.

My not quite full day away from Twitter and Facebook

July 20, 2012 Leave a comment

Occasionally, I find a few hours or a day away from social media is just easier than trying to fight what one of my Twitter friends calls the “outrage prism.” (Note: I love the term and have previously asked permission to openly plagiarize.) The ignorant statements, the political gamesmanship, and the misdirected outrage was enough to simply make me stop reading about the events of early this morning.

As pretty much everyone should know by this point, a young man marched into a midnight showing of the new Batman movie and killed 12 people and injured several more. What a horrible thing to happen to people who did nothing other than seek a couple hours away from reality by immersing themselves into a movie. It is truly a sad story. I know every time I see an incident like this, my thought is always to the family and friends left behind, and to those people who survived and have to relive that incident in their minds forever. We truly need to support the family and friends of those lost and those victims who are still here who will need our support to help them heal.

One story that made me truly tear up was the one of Jessica Redfield. As a person interested in hockey, I found out pretty early about her being one of the deceased victims via Twitter. What really made me tear up was the poignant piece Jessica wrote just a few weeks earlier as she narrowly avoided another shooting up in Canada. Thank you Jessica for reminding us to enjoy every minute.

What had me so upset in an angry way is the way some of the media responded. Today was not the day to play politics. Why can’t we wait even 24 hours to speculate on the motives and talk about how we should change laws to prevent future events. The first 24 hours should be dedicated to make sure all involved are apprehended. The first 24 hours should be dedicated to setting up support for the victims and families, including counselling, monetary support, planning for funerals or medical care, and helping businesses in the area while their customers avoid the area. Today is not the day for blame.

And yet it was. Within an hour, I saw posts on Twitter calling for tighter gun control. I saw posts saying if someone had been allowed to carry many people would have been saved. Mayor Bloomberg, from another city and state, immediately blamed the lack of strong gun control, without any details on how the weapons were obtained. All these posts came without context that in Colorado, you are allowed to carry openly without a permit. Concealed carry does require a permit. There are countries with gun bans that have lower homicide rates than the U.S. There are also countries like Switzerland where owning a military rifle and having it in the home is mandatory that also have a lower homicide rate. Correlating gun control with homicide is not as simple as proponents on either side would have you believe. How about taking some time to research the situation before posting. How about 24 hours of worrying about the families? Today was not the day to worry about gun control, especially when no one seemed to care what the circumstances actually were.

Also, within 6 hours of the crime, there were claims of the murderer being from both parties. I’m not sure which “accusation” came first, but this article addresses both (James Holmes, the suspect arrested in connection with the mass shootings… in Aurora, CO, could be a registered Democrat). ABC News speculated with very little information that Holmes was a Tea Party member. Breitbart News countered with speculation that the shooter might be a registered democrat. My point is, does this matter? In fact, that shouldn’t matter no matter if either was true. There is no political party saying “please shoot people for our political gain.” The shooter wasn’t targeting any specific party. Today was not the day to worry about political parties.

These accusations stemmed from more idiotic statements. Before the movie was released, Rush Limbaugh tried to claim this movie was a slight against Mitt Romney directly because the villain’s name in the movie is Bane, which is a homophone of Romney’s former company Bain. Limbaugh provides no other context or details, including the fact that Bane first showed up in a Batman comic in 1993 or that the word “bane” makes a great villain name due to its normal meaning of “a person or thing that ruins or spoils.” There were tweets then claiming that the shooting was Rush’s fault because of this statement. It was easy to see very early that this was planned by the shooter much before Limbaugh’s statement. Besides, today was not the day to put the blame on anyone but the shooter.

The idea that a political affiliation could cause this is a blatant logical fallacy. There are a few categories of fallacies this could fall under, but one that fits well is the “Questionable cause” fallacy. Even if a majority of shooters in these type of crimes belonged to one party or the other, one can reasonably state that the parties are not preaching to people to commit crimes, thus party affiliation is not the cause of shootings. The other fallacy is the “Post Hoc” fallacy – that just because someone spoke about the Batman movie that it somehow caused Holmes to target that movie. Logical fallacies are to be avoided on any day, but today especially was not the day to commit obvious ones.

If anyone hears of victims’ funds being set up or any way that those of us can help, please let me know and I’ll be happy to spread the word as best I can. Today is a day we should support those who need us after such a tragedy. That is why I chose to get away from social media for a few hours – I’d rather reflect on the victims, spend some extra time close to my family, and not speculate on the why. At least not today.

Why Occupy Doesn’t Resonate With Me

November 19, 2011 Leave a comment

We had a very interesting incident in America today. As I am sure we’ve all heard, students at UC Davis were pepper sprayed by police for disobeying a police order to disperse and clear a path. From what I understand, there was a encampment of tents on campus much like other Occupy Wall Street type movements have in various spots across the US. These students had formed a circle, sitting down with their arms interlocked which blocked the path to this encampment. From the 2 different videos I saw, the police gave the students some warning that if they did not clear a path, that they would be sprayed and removed by force. And that is then what transpired.

Here’s the thing about this incident. The use of the pepper spray seemed to be unnecessary and excessive in this case. (Update: CNN has more parts to the story as to why the police ended up using the sprayOK, but maybe we should at the same time be talking about what everyone did wrong here. Just because the police officers were “more” wrong, does that make the protesters right? That’s the question I’ve been asking since I first saw the coverage of this incident. I even asked the question in a nice manner on BoingBoing where I first saw the article, for which apparently taking a viewpoint that wasn’t outrage against the police got me banned from commenting. I just feel it is important not to jump to conclusions. There are some things to consider.

Our freedoms, including those Constitutionally protected, have limits. Those limits generally are where they cross the line into interfering with the rights of others. If you commit a felony, you lose your right to bear arms. You are not allowed to shout “FIRE!” in a crowded theater because it can cause harm to others. In this case, the protesters were blocking access to a public space where a large number of people were gathered.

So what would have happened if someone was being assaulted in one of these tents and called 911 from their cell phone? The police would not have been able to get their squad car through without running over protesters. What if a cooking stove started a tent or tents on fire? How would you get a fire truck through? What if a protester inside the circle fell and had a serious head injury? How would the ambulance get through? Whenever these crowds gather, especially for an extended period of time, the police need access to them to protect them from each other and others. To say that every cop is evil and trying to suppress our rights by these actions is just as crazy as saying that every protester has good intentions.

I heard a comment last week that the NYPD has used up all of its goodwill from 9/11 due to its actions recently in Zuccotti Park . So if we had another terrorist attack somewhere in the United States, am I to believe that the NYPD or any other police force wouldn’t be there ready to serve just as those fine people did on that tragic day? Let’s try to put some sanity in this and realize that both the protesters and the police had some wrong-doing here, and that each should face their appropriate punishment, but it should not reflect on either as a whole.

Before I try to express why I the Occupy movement hasn’t resonated with me, everyone should go read Aaron Brown’s article on it. He’s a real writer, and expresses it much better than I could ever hope to. So go. Click on it. Then come back here.

If the Occupy movement wants to gain momentum and gain support from people like me, they need to do a few things. I think they would benefit from a leader. They need a more unified voice to give them a mission as to what it is they are really protesting. They could change their message from income equality to income fairness. If I get promoted at work, I shouldn’t keep making the same money I did previously. But I shouldn’t make 5000% more either. They should immediately support Congressman Walz’s bill to stop Congress from benefiting from insider stock knowledge. Occupy Wall Street needs to get a message that makes sense.

The police used excessive force. The protesters ignored their orders and did present a threat (I won’t make a judgement as to the degree) to public safety by blocking access to a large gathering in a public place. More than one wrong was committed here. And that’s really the point I want to make. The incorrect application of force does not vindicate the protesters. I don’t think we can properly place judgement on the degree as to which the force was excessive unless we can admit the amount of blame the protesters have in the situation. Other Occupiers should take note that they would better capture the hearts and minds of people like me if they did the right thing and admit when they cross the line, and let’s see if the police and our government can do the same.

Two Sides Don’t Form A Shape

November 11, 2011 Leave a comment

It is interesting to me how every issue or problem we face seems to get boiled down to a set of two mutually exclusive solutions. They generally never intersect, and one is typically status quo or expansion of the status quo. What I find very frustrating about this is it seems it is difficult to get alternate or blended solutions into the discussion, so that much like in geometry, real solutions can take “shape.”

Former President Bill Clinton has a new book that is full of new and different ideas for helping the economy get back on track. Not all of the ideas in the article linked here are new, nor do I agree 100% with every idea. However, the ideas are fresh. They might not even be new, but they are fresh. No one else is talking about them. One example that is appealing:

And in the near-term, Clinton says Congress should allow companies with earnings held overseas to repatriate that money at a tax rate below the usual 35% — say 15% to 20%.

If a company is able to prove they will use their repatriated profits to create new jobs in the United States, the tax rate should be dropped all the way to 0%.

With as much as $1 trillion in profits being held overseas, the scheme could create a nice chunk of revenue for the Treasury. Clinton says that money should be used to fund infrastructure grants to the states.

Think about that idea. It gives some to the business community and the conservatives asking for lower taxes on businesses. It gets more money in the American economy. It creates jobs. It increases tax revenues. And why isn’t every senator and representative drafting a bill today to get this done?

Another issue is the U.S. Postal Service and whether we should continue to subsidize postage and 6-day delivery to the tune of over $8 billion per year. Mail volume continues to decline, costs continue to rise and people continue to more and more use alternative ways to communicate. Yes, I know part of the problem is the way Congress changed the payments required to the pension fund. But, check the USPS’ own reports. Mail volume continues to go down. If they are servicing less mail every year, they need to start thinking about keeping the workforce and infrastructure at a proper proportion to the service they are delivering. Yet I see this petition popping up on my Twitter feed to save the 6-day delivery. I want to know why.

Here’s what I would propose. The USPS employs alot of people, and laying them off is probably not a good or practical thing to do at this point. However, it seems ludicrous to pay postal workers to do nothing and to continue to have the taxpayers foot the bill for a service that, while Constitutionally mandated to exist, probably needs to be pared back. (Note: Please read the link. I’m not suggesting postal workers do nothing all of the time. But the bizarre contract they have with the union costs the USPS millions every year to have workers literally sit and do nothing.) Why not scale back the postal service, and retrain those displaced workers to bury fiber optic cable throughout the United States. As people retire or leave for other jobs, you don’t replace them so that the program can be eventually eliminated. The fiber could then be sold to communication companies to deliver high speed communication services to communities all over the United States.  Quick math says we could have 60,000 people at roughly $60,000 per year burying cable at a cost of $4 billion. That leaves $4 billion to buy the cable itself to leave it at a break even point. Based on estimates of cable costs (just the cable material), that could buy roughly 250,000-500,000 miles of fiber optic cable. It seems to me if we are spending the $8 billion anyway, we could be doing something more productive like this which provides the future infrastructure we need.

There are plenty of issues that likely have alternative solutions. Education, housing, energy, unemployment, health care and many others seem to always be presented as two-solution systems. Have we lost the ability to think creatively? Are we simply too apathetic to care? Why do we not want to form real solutions? Let’s hope that whoever wins a year from now will be more like President Clinton and at least be willing to discuss new ideas.

Priorities

October 27, 2011 Leave a comment

I love the way science work and the way scientists think because the logic really helps me to unlock my own thoughts. On my drive to school this morning, I was listening to an old episode of the StarTalk podcast, which is Neil deGrasse Tyson’s science show. He was having a discussion with a couple of members of the The Planetary Society as to why we should continue to fund the space program, and was really challenging them to really justify it, considering the current political and economic climate. And they did it. The analogy was brought up that as a parent, even when you are working to buy food, clothes, and shelter for your child, you don’t put books at a lower priority. You do them all at once, at an equal priority. It is an interesting thought.

I often write on my blog about how we need to be wary of the size of government and about how I really seem to align well with the libertarian ideal. I really do believe in the ideals of being a libertarian, for the more power we give to government to do charitable things, the more power we also grant them to do less charitable or malicious things. When we are looking at setting or changing a government policy, we need to remember that it is people running the government. The same people running those evil corporations also run the government. They are flawed human beings like anyone else.  However, there is a difference between an ideal or philosophy and reality. Government can’t always be made perpetually smaller.

The other parts of making a priority list are the “how” and the “why” parts. If we can’t figure out why we are doing something, it probably isn’t a very high priority. If we don’t know how we are going to do something, perhaps it needs to be broken down further so that the parts can be prioritized. An easy example of that would be health care. It needed to be changed. But to change health care all at once is a little like saying you want to move the Empire State Building a block over. It is possible, but it isn’t very practical and there are probably better solutions that can be done in smaller increments.

So when I disagree with government funding things like a welfare program, more money for education, health care, or any other of these things that we are asking of modern government, it isn’t that I necessarily think that government should stop doing them. It isn’t that I even necessarily think that government should make them a lower priority than some other government service (even if I mention the word priority).

My thought for today actually ends up being a fairly liberal one (I know – you are shocked). We need to fund these things of a modern society – health care, welfare, education, etc., and do so with equal priority. All I ask is we do so with thought and restraint instead of the way we are doing it now which is with no thought (for political gain) and no restraint (we can pay for it later). We can’t spend more, drastically cut, or make dramatic changes without more thought and consideration as to the consequences of those actions.

I remember when I first started in banking, a guy used to come see me at the bank once a week and talk politics. He told me the biggest problem with today’s politicians is they don’t follow this simple rule: if you have an idea, and ask 10 average people about it and they tell you it is pretty stupid, it is probably pretty stupid. Most of the ideas I’m hearing from Saint Paul, Washington D.C., and the campaign trail would fit that criteria pretty well.

A Case of Shame On Everyone?

September 5, 2011 2 comments

I tweeted earlier today a video clip of Jimmy Hoffa Jr. It was the very first one that came across my Twitter feed. Here it is: Note – sorry I couldn’t get wordpress to like the embed code. You’ll have to follow the link, but I wanted to use the original clip I posted on Twitter.

http://bigjournalism.com/pjsalvatore/2011/09/05/union-boss-intros-obama-in-detroit-threatens-tea-party-lets-take-these-sons-of-bitches-out/

So apparently FOX News did its usual thing and put as much spin as they could on this clip. They cut off the previous sentence to make it seem more “violent” according to mediamatters.org.

Now I posted the video knowing full well Mr. Hoffa wasn’t intending to tell people to go out and murder or maim any of the GOP politicians, even without the previous sentence. My point in posting it is that on both sides we seem to have forgotten our promise not to use the violent metaphors in regards to politicians. This is not to mean that you aren’t free to use them, but out of respect for Representative Giffords we were going to find other ways to phrase political and election disagreements.

The right wing media has already countered the editing job by pointing out more of Hoffa’s speech and its war metaphors.

So here’s the difficult question – what do we do? It seems that the “battle” metaphor is often appropriate in politics. So can we perhaps just make an effort to tone it down and be mindful of our speech. I think in this case Mr. Hoffa went over the line by saying “take these son of a bitches out.” Use the battle and war metaphors, but when it gets to the point of talking about the actual people, how about being more specific and saying we are going to use our votes and take charge or something similar. Let’s not leave any question in anyone’s mind as to what we mean when we say we are going to “take someone out.”

So shame on FOX News. And shame on Mr. Hoffa. I’d hope they would both apologize. I know neither will.