I’m back…. Again. But not just about politics this time!

Hi all,

Although I know for a fact that not many people read my blog, I would still like to let you all know that, after taking a sudden and unforeseen break from blogging, the theme of this blog will change to something more general and all-encompassing.  Here’s why:

After immersing myself in the world of politics (mostly American politics) for a while, I had grown tired and cynical, to the point where I no longer was interested in the political issues of the day.  The kind of stalemate the come about as a result of pure power struggles while both the Republican and the Democratic party claim to be acting in the interests of the people have become unbearable.

In fact, my taking a break from reading up on politics has added to my admiration for those who dive into it everyday; all the cable news hosts, political pundits, not to mention the politicians.  I don’t know how they do it.  Perhaps it’s their passion for politics that keeps them going.

Yes, the Democrats will have to fight.  Yes, the Obama campaign is being out-raised in the past few months. But I’m not quite convinced that the wealth folks on the liberal side are willing to risk losing this election because of the issue of money.  Individuals such as George Soros will keep on stepping it up, and go toe to toe with the Koch brothers.

So yea, that’s enough politics for today.  What I wanted to say is, from now on, in addition to the political talks and movie reviews that I’ll still be doing, I will also be writing on numerous topics, such as my life experiences, philosophy (yes! fascinating subject), and others.

Writing is still my passion.  I will never give it up.  Unfortunately, over the past month or so, various things have kept me from firing away at the keyboard.  But now that things have calmed down, I will return to being a… uh… blogger!

Cheers

Politics Daily #18 – When Stats Become The It Thing In Politics

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In a recent article on the Huffington Post, Bill James, the Godfather behind analyzing statistics in a unique way that helped Billy Beane and the Oakland A’s achieve success in “Moneyball”, discusses the potential effectiveness of using mass data-gathering and numbers-crunching, a method famously known as ‘sabermetrics’, in politics.

The two main things that James suggests are: being nice to the opposing candidate, and; running on a platform not expected by the other side.

James argues that a candidate can take weapons away from his opponent simply by being nice to him, as the opponent would look like an ass if he chooses to attack him.  While this might be true, there has been a fairly solid record of negative attack ads working in American Presidential politics history (remember the Swift-Boat Veterans?), although perhaps there is a difference for voters between watching negative TV ads and hearing the candidates say negative things themselves.

The ability to attack a political opponent without looking like an ass is a fine art, of course, as only the best of the best, such as Bill Clinton, can do so with ease.  The article highlights the fact that Clinton was noted as not having gone after Mitt Romney.  This act of non-action precisely provides Clinton the ability to say “this guy’s (Romney) good, but my guy’s better” and campaign with class and integrity.

The second thing is more pertinent to the timing in which the method is used, and to what extent the issue resonates with voters come November.  In a sense, the method is as simple as the campaign having gone through data research and latching onto an issue and say “lets go with that.”  The one raised in the article by Jonah Keri, in getting out the Latino vote, strikes an important note on the Democratic campaign.  Getting more people to cast their ballots for the first time will always help the Democrats more than the Republicans.

Interestingly enough, as if the Obama administration had read what Bill James has to say, right after I finished reading the article on Huffpost, I received a news alert on my phone from the New York Times titled: “U.S. Will Give Immunity to Some Young Illegal Migrants.”

Check out the article detailing the news on the Huffpost here, and the New York Times here.

Politics Daily #15 – Obama Administration’s ‘War’ on the Press

The latest Huffington Post headline reads: “WAR ON THE PRESS: Obama Administration Attacks Basic Reporting Right.”

A lawyer representing the Department of Justice is arguing that New York Times reporter  James Risen should be forced to testify in the trial of former CIA agent Jeffrey Sterling, who is charged with leaking classified information to Risen about a botched plot against the Iranian government.

While it has somewhat become a struggle between the ‘reporters’ privilege’ and the Espionage Act – a World War I-era law intended to prohibit the aiding of enemies -, some, such as Lucy Dalglish from Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, are arguing that it is not even necessary to force Risen to testify, as the DOJ has the power to obtain all the evidence it needs to make a case (airline tickets, hotel receipts, etc.)

I wouldn’t pretend to know much about the inner workings of D.C., or Federal politics, or the correlation between the methods with which reports obtain classified information from government departments such as the Department of Justice, the C.I.A., or the N.S.A.  I do think though, that it would be a shame if this issue with the press winds up becoming an election issue that comes back and bites Obama during the election.

While Fox News is the ultimate voice of American conservatism and Republican rhetoric, most other television news outlets are fairly centrists or liberal-leaning.  As such, it would be very unwise for Obama to anger the part of the media that has largely been standing on his side (you really only need to adhere to the facts to be on his side).  As Jake Tapper of ABC questions the inconsistency (bordering hypocrisy) as the Obama administration’s applauding of aggressive journalism abroad as highlighted by the recent passings of Anthony Shadid and Marie Colvin and its crackdown of aggressive journalism at home, it seems like the administration is struggling to find the right tone to approach the issue.

Or perhaps it is more clear-cut than that; somebody inside the administration is controlling which direction they would take with regards to cracking down on leaks.  And that person, whom I doubt very much would be the President himself, is putting the notion that ‘there’s a reason classified documents are classified’ before ‘people have the right to know what the government is doing’.

Politics Daily #13 – Gay Donor Pulls Support From Mitt Romney Over Gay Marriage

Bill White, head of a consulting firm in New York and openly gay, has decided to pull his support from the Romney campaign and instead support President Obama’s reelection bid.  He has also asked for his money back.

Read the Huffpost report here.

The article’s highlight:

“While he clarified to CNN that he does not agree with the president on fiscal issues, White said that Romney’s speech during Liberty University’s commencement on Saturday led him to believe that Romney would press for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage — a position that White simply cannot support.”

This incident is proof that, in an election dominated by concerns over the economy, social issues such as same sex marriage bear a strong enough influence to change which candidate a voter supports.  In this case, Mr. White was willing to support Mr. Obama because of his support for gay marriage and despite disagreeing with him over fiscal issues.

Now that someone has taken the first step in switching their support, it’s likely that a lot more gay supporters of Republican candidates, including the Senate and the House, will support a Democrat instead.

And it just might illustrate the potential brilliance in Obama’s calculated move to finally declare his support for gay marriage, as not only will he draw votes from gay conservatives, he can also garner up support from more homosexuals who will vote for the first time because of this issue.

Politics Daily #11 – Republicans Shying away from Losing the Student Loan Debate

Senate Republicans on Tuesday blocked a bill that would have frozen student loan interest rates before they are set to double on July 1.

Read more on the Huffington Post here.

Republicans claim that while they are also keen on keeping the student loan interest rates low, the disagree with the Democrats on how to pay for it, opposing the Democrats’ proposal of raising Social and Medical payroll taxes on certain high income earners while suggesting to cut a preventive health fund.

This speaks to a larger issue relating to the upcoming general election.  I can’t help but guess that the Republicans, knowing that the younger voting demographic have never been big supporters of their party, is trying to put the student loan issue to the wayside, minimizing its power to galvanize young voters to vote for President Obama.

Republicans are seen as being in an uphill battle as polls have shown that Mitt Romney has a clear edge on Obama in only one demographic, the old-wealthy-white-men, and is either behind or in a statistical tie with the President in all other groups.  They are trying to downplay the student loan issue by blaming Democrats, as usual, even though it blows my mind when Republicans say that raising taxes on the wealthy ‘job-creators’ will cause them to create less jobs (if they were creating any in the first place).

 The young needs to come out and vote if they would like President Obama to have a decisive win, and the President needs to put the student loan issue on the forefront in order to get out the vote.

Politics Daily #8 – Thoughts on Paul Krugman’s “Death of a Fairy Tale”

I do not own the rights to this photo.  Some rights reserved by Vectorportal

In his latest New York Times column, Professor Paul Krugman points out that, despite the fact that fiscal-constraining, austerity-minded policies in Europe have yielded no positive results, governments in Europe will not change direction and spend more for fear of soaring borrowing costs.  Krugman dismisses this fear, citing Japan as an example.

Check out his article here

I think part of the reason why governments in Europe are unwilling to shift their economic mentality has to do with a cultural characteristic that our modern society share, that being our need to see immediate returns for our investments and efforts.

We live in a culture where most things are attributed with immediate responses.  Everything needs to be faster and faster; from text messaging, internet downloading, to boiling water, we expect things onto which we divulge money or energy or time to pay dividends right away.

A relevant example would be President Obama’s recovery act, commonly known as the stimulus.  Many people were expecting the stimulus to spur job growth and lower unemployment right away, as if the act was a magic pill that could turn the economy around like a switch, and critics were quick to label it as a failure when it wasn’t helping the economy at their (unrealistically) projected rate.  But, 2 years later, in 2011, we see a steady recovery as the stimulus money was being spent and businesses began hiring again.

So, in this tale of the ‘austerity fairy’ that Krugman speaks of, governments in Europe are perhaps fearing that they might not see immediate results should they start spending, and would have to start worrying about losing public support and their jobs.

Patience is hard to come by these days.  Obama asked Americans to be patient with him, now they are beginning to see results.  Will someone in the European political arena stand up and do the same?

Movie Review: The Road We’ve Travelled (Obama Documentary)

“The Road We’ve Traveled” is a 17-minute documentary film directed by David Guggenheim, who also directed “An Inconvenient Truth”, and narrated by Tom Hanks.  It is a film produced for the Obama re-election campaign that outlines President Obama’s most prominent achievements.

It is a well-made film that does its job, the job being leading viewers to believe that the President deserves to be unequivocally given an A for his first term as President, and that he should be re-elected for a second term.

Given the circumstances around the 2008 election, particularly the opponents he was up against, I continue to believe that the country would have been in shambles, and more cynical than ever, had McCain/Palin been elected.  It never ceases to amaze me that Obama’s margin of victory over McCain wasn’t larger.

As for the achievements themselves, the top four that Guggenheim points out are: bailing out the auto industry when the majority was against it; Obamacare; killing Osama Bin Laden, and; The Recovery Act.  Excluding his less salient successes, these four points alone should provide him with plenty of material to convince voters on the campaign trail to re-elect him.

Sadly, Americans by in large don’t vote according to the records or what the official has actually achieved.  They voted according to what they believe the officials have done, gullible to rhetoric without ever bothering to fact check the validity of claims.

Thus, it is sad, cynical, but true, that the Obama re-election campaign isn’t going up against an opponent of a different ideology or policy, per se.  It is going up against the party of non-true, non-facts.  Of people making claims about the President that are flat out not true.

What’s even more sad is the sheer number of voters who actually believe these false statements and vote according to them.  Such as when Karl Rove quoted a line said by Bill Clinton completely out of context.

As for “The Road We’ve Traveled”, it is a well-made documentary for its intents and purposes.  And it’s available on youtube.  So why not give it a watch?

And… here’s the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2POembdArVo