Sunday, April 22, 2007

Despite criticisms, Edwards still sets a higher standard

Here's what we know:

John Edward's campaign recently paid for two $400 haircuts, as well as $250 at an Iowa spa, and $225 from an upscale New Hampshire boutique.

Here's what we're told to believe:

John Edwards is the supreme embodiment of a Washington Hypocrite--indulging himself on lavish personal treats while publicly preaching a policy of helping the middle class, eliminating poverty, and providing universal healthcare for the uninsured.


Instead of rushing to one side or the other on this topic, I would encourage everyone to consider not only Mr. Edward's recent expenditures, but the merit of his politics and the sincerity of his message.

To those who claim that Edward's personal (as in the kind of things that I know we all buy but don't tell anyone else about) spending shows how he cares more about his own interests than those of others, I have only one thing to say. In order to read this blog you have to be in front of a computer. Anyone reading this blog probably has a facebook, myspace, or photo album somewhere that lots of people look at. In order to make yourself look good in your photos I'm sure there are at least $100 worth of cosmetic products in your bathroom.

Since you believe in eliminating poverty, why don't you lay off buying so many personal products and put the money to better use?

The trap we fall into when we start criticizing the economic status of politicians is that we fail to realize who in fact these individuals are. John Edwards was a successful lawyer for almost 20 years, and is estimated to be worth more than $60 million. Except in extremely rare cases, anyone who has worked to accumulate such a fortune isn't likely to give it all away. The fact that Mr. Edwards even thinks about those of a lower economic tier than himself sets him apart from those with $60 million.

In closing, John Edwards isn't saying that we should all donate all our money to charity and create a society that has no economic differences. Instead, what he is doing is the "practical+just" thing: finding a way to deal with America's problems while still understanding that we can't be perfect, or at least we won't wake up to see millionaires giving up all their money.

Mr. Edwards, I'd rather not pay for your barber bill, but you've got some good ideas under that pricey cut, so keep it up.

The VideoVets Project: Decide for yourself

VideoVets: John Bruhns

Half the time I visit I'm excited that someone out there agrees with me, but more recently I've found myself leaving the site disappointed by the way people have been spinning certain arguments.

Take for example a post this past Thursday about's new project, VideoVets.
A poster wrote on the main page of the blog that MoveOn's project, which displays a series of videos from soldiers who oppose current policy in Iraq, that:

"The left has gone from demonizing the military during the Vietnam War to victimizing our troops today. MoveOn's new VideoVets Project is a sad undertaking and political stunt to demoralize our soldiers in Iraq."


"MoveOn is using our brave soldiers as pawns in its political game. Tell them to stop."

More than 1.4 million men and women are currently on active duty in the United States military, and it's wrong for anyone to speak on behalf of them, or even to seemingly "protect" them from being "used as pawns" in a game for political gain.

Speak to your neighbor's son or daughter who has just returned from Iraq, watch the videos on the new VideoVets site, and read a soldier's blog. Just as they proport to be protecting the soldiers' opinions from being played with, this particular RedState blogger is playing YOU as the pawn here.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

The "Telling America What You Believe" Report Card, Part 1.

Blind to each candidate's actual beliefs on the issue of abortion, I've set off on a journey to see how forthcoming every presidential candidate is on one of the most important topics to voters, abortion...


Romney: "I would like to see each state be able to make its own law with regard to abortion"-
Deffering responsibility to the states on any issue is a crafty way of dodging the question in the majority of interviews, but it will do Romney no good here. D

Giuliani: "Ultimately I believe it's an individual right and a woman should make that choice" & "I tell people what I think. I tell them (to) evaluate me as I am and do not expect them to agree with me on everything. I don't agree with me on everything"-
Rudy's comments here are not only set him apart from what the Republican party believes, but Rudy does the public the pleasure of not clarifying his stance to such a fine degree that it would be hard for anyone to be unsure of his views on the issue. Whether you agree with him, Rudy's openness should be applauded. A+

Huckabee: "I'm pro-life. if I'm going to err, I'm going to err on the side of life. That's just where I come from in my own heart and convictions. As a governor I've signed virtually every kind of pro-life legislation that we can sign under existing federal law."-
It's safe to say that most Republican candidates this election cycle are staunch opponents of abortion, that is not to say however that anyone who makes this known should receive high marks from me. I am impressed by former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee's clarity on the issue and his strong and consistent pro-life record throughout his career. Contrary to what many believe, I don't think that changing one's view on an issue is THAT bad, but Huckabee's straightforwardness and honesty on his beliefs are admirable. A-

McCain: "I believe that we would be better off by having Roe v. Wade return to the states. And I don?t believe the Supreme Court should be legislating in the way that they did on Roe v. Wade."-
Once again, McCain tries to play the middle ground with his politics, and while indirectly saying he would reverse Row v. Wade, McCain stops short of saying what he really believes (or at least what I think he believes). C-


I'll keep my eyes our for the other Republicans' comments on abortion and create a follow up to this post in the coming weeks. The dems, a more consistent bunch, will follow.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Steve Capus, a man of double standards

"I’ve received hundreds, if not thousands of emails, both internal an external, with people with very strong views about what should happen. I’ve listened to those people with their comments...And we’ve had any number of employee conversations, discussions, emails, phone calls. And when you listen to the passion and the people who come to the conclusion that there should not be any room for this sort of conversation and dialogue on our air, it was the only decision we could reach."

This is Steve Capus, President of NBC.

Mr. Capus is not speaking about the most deplorable and disgusting event to take place inside the NBC network. Instead, Mr. Capus believes that Don Imus' comments about the Rutgers basketball team merit apologies, the cancellation of the show, and a deep look into the moral compass of his company.

Let's be serious for a second, Don Imus should not have said what he said, but his comments did little more than expose that even radio hosts can make racially-offensive comments. Don Imus' firing may have been a good move, and I do believe that the type of language he used on air was not appropriate, no matter whether on the nightly news or a more shocking-syle show like Imus' was.

Here is where I start to get upset.

We are all quite aware by now of the horrible events that occurred this past Monday. A man of shadows decided to step out and not only end the lives of 33 of his fellow students and professors, but to throw himself into the spotlight. The man behind the shootings should have never received any spotlight attention for what he did.

Instead of awknowleding that one of the shooter's main motivations for his actions was to make himself known (as evidenced by his decision to send photos and videos to NBC news), the media, led by NBC News, gave the shooter the attention he ultimately wanted to be remembered by.

"We did not rush the material onto air, but instead consulted with local authorities, who have since publicly acknowledged our appropriate handling of the matter."

Seemingly lacking the sensitivity with which he handled the Imus situation last week, Mr. Capus was apparently only concerned that putting the shooter's video and photographic manifesto on air to millions around the world might be illegal or jeopardize the police investigation.

If Mr. Capus is being honest about not rushing the footage onto the air (I'll give him the benefit of the doubt on this), than what America should be upset about is that NBC aired the clips at all. By making the shooter's identity so public, and by displaying his words, (words that should have been left to the police to read, and the police only) NBC has showed us that their broadcasting standards surrounding sensational stories such as the Virginia Tech shootings aren't as important as those surrounding issues of money (sponsors pulling out of the MSNBC Imus broadcast).

What is at stake here are human lives, and their stories that the media is all to inclined to paste over with a shooter's staged photograph.

I was never a fan of biographical video montages made by news networks, but the words "dont go away, we're the only network to have the contents of the shooter's package ready to show to you live on TV, so hang on for only 12 minutes" trouble me more than any well-intentioned video memorial could ever have the potential to.

Monday, April 16, 2007

The REAL Doomsday Clock

Gen. Anthony Zinni: "We will pay to reduce greenhouse gas emissions today, and we'll have to take an economic hit of some kind. Or we will pay the price later in military terms. And that will involve human lives. There will be a human toll."

That quote is a pretty good introduction to the "REAL Doomsday Clock," a new feature on this blog that will track the impending disaster that climate change will have on our world in the coming years. What most people consider the Doomsday Clock is the creation of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists at the University of Chicago for the purpose of alerting the public of the possibility of a nuclear war, one that would presumably wipe out large amounts of the world. The image of such destruction being caused by climate change is a less action-packed picture, but the end result is similarly grim.

When "An Inconvenient Truth" was released last year, many thought that Al Gore's focus on the environment and his desire to bring it into the public spotlight would fail miserably. As eager as I was to jump on the "realist/pessimist" view that the issue would get kicked aside after a few weeks, it turns out that there seems to be a mini environmentalist revival springing up everywhere. Even without millions of people marching on Capitol Hill (except for MAYBE this coming July), the world is, without the possibility of denying it, moving towards a state of increased consciousness about our planet and our role in protecting it.... THANK GOD!

My daily sweep of usually turns up a story about a symbolic turning off of lights in a major city or a new report on global warming or climate change. Those stories that would have been assigned to the smaller news tab on the side of the page are now the headline story, albeit for only a few hours.

The way in which I internalize all that is going on right now is much different than the approach we're often told to follow to start solving problems. Whether or not you agree with Al Gore on his political stances, I admire the man for his dedication to an issue that doesn't lie in the mainstream and that, at least not yet, isn't aimed at gaining him more votes. In his movie, Gore stresses an attitude of what I call "inspired action." People react to all this news of global warming and climate change in unique ways, and I think Gore's approach is a positive compromise that many of us can learn from. Essentially, most Americans fall into one of these four catagories:

- - - - - - - -

1) Global warming is the "greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people" (United States Senator James Inhofe (R)-OK)

2) The "I'm a conservationist, not an environmentalist" group--basically, I'm not willing to go out and buy a Prius or pressure automakers into improving car emissions standards, but I treasure my woods and rivers so I can hunt and fish. Believe me, this view isn’t perfect, but I think a lot of people are moving from the denial category into this one, and these guys (who include Senator John McCain and Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, both presidential candidates) are the demographic whose support of the environmental movement will start off the (inevitable) protests and demonstrations that will pave the way towards change.

3) Me....and, I believe, a bunch of others--I will elaborate later.

4) The heart of the environmental movement. For the sake of keeping this article focused, I won't divide this group up--doing so would create a mess and get a few people upset.

- - - - - - - - -

"An Inconvenient Truth" stresses that change IS At the same time, however, there is no need for despair, for if we each do our part and shake some of our bad habits, than we can see some positive change. Sounds good to me!

In the past few months since the movie was released, I've run into a major problem. Basically, I'm really starting to get concerned. The mark that "An Inconvenient Truth" has ultimately left on my heart and mind is that we do, in fact, need change right now. Instead of looking at every positive change around me and being inspired, however, I find myself losing sleep over each instance in which someone else shows complete disregard for the environment.

One fitting example of this took place on a series of recent visits to Starbucks in and around Boston, Massachusetts. With all their culturally-conscious books, CDs, fair-trade coffee, etc., I have been completely heartbroken and, frankly, fumingly upset that after finishing my pomegranate ice teas I have no place to recycle my plastic cup. When I asked if there was a place I could responsibly dispose of my cup in the store, the employee's response was a quick and unconcerned "no." While I think a company can and should balance both environmentally-friendly operations and fair-trade practices (just an example issue), I would much rather know that the store that delivers its products to millions and millions of people around the world each day is concerned about more than just making a few more cents by slapping a "our beans our fair trade!" sticker on their products. Like BP with their green and cheery logo, should do more than hide behind a conscious-looking logo. It wouldn't take much for Starbucks purchase some recycling bins, so why don't they?

It's this kind of constant frustration that makes me often want to become an active member of an environmental group, and perhaps, sometime in the near future, you'll see me picketing in front of Starbucks HQ (but that's highly unlikely).

Also, if I had enough influence to get them all together, I'd love to have Al Gore, John McCain, and the head of a large environmental group get together and have a discussion about the environment. Even better, broadcast it on NBC, primetime. No documentaries to sleep through, no musical appearances by Melissa Etheridge, just a serious and practical discussion for everyone to see.

In closing I'd like to summarize what Senator John McCain said at a recent New Hampshire campaign stop that I attended.

-If we ignore all of those that say global warming doesn’t exist, and we don't do anything, what are we going to do in twenty years when we realize that we were wrong? But, if we decide to take steps now to fix the problems that many predict, the worst that could happen is that we leave our kids with a cleaner planet. If the scientists that say global warming does exist are right, perhaps we could avert a crisis with action now-

John McCain is not a pioneer in the field of environmentally orientated politics, but what he said inspired me in a way that I hadn't felt in a long time. Whether you experience God in a church, mosque, or temple, our planet is the largest sanctuary known to man, and it’s our responsibility to protect it.

Anybody want to picket Starbucks with me?

Friday, April 13, 2007

Photo of the Week

The Republican Nominee Polls Get Even Weirder

As the Democratic nomination essentially turns into a three man (man and woman, rather) race, the Republican contest isn't getting any easier to sort out. Check out the following LA Times/Bloomberg Poll:

Rudy Giuliani - 29%
Fred Thompson - 15%
John McCain - 12%
Mitt Romney - 8%
Newt Gingrich - 7%
Tommy Thomson - 3%
Sam Brownback - 2%
Duncan Hunter - 2%
Tom Tancredo - 2%
UNSURE - 14%

The entrance of Fred Thompson into the race, in my mind, only shows that even fewer Republican voters are really commited to any one candidate at this point. Reagan did a pretty good job of balancing the actor with the president, but Thompson makes everything seem like it's primetime TV. Long and short of it, he won't get too far.

If you add Thompson's 15% to Gingrich's 7% (I know some people out there are convinced he might be able to take his campaign deep into 2008 (should he announce), but a vote for Gingrich at this stage is simply a vote for the Republican Platform 101) and the 14% camped in the "unsure" realm, and you've got yourself 36% of the Republican voting pool.

It's clear this 36% won't go to Giuliani--the candidates they are alligned with now don't represent the more liberal politics that Giulini has been attached with.

With a loaded wallet going into the summer months, Mitt Romney COULD be the recipient of a lot of attention and COULD start to move up in the polls, but if he thinks he can win this contest with his money he's sorely wrong--second-hand reports from fellow students and friends who interned with Mitt while he was governor indicate to me that some of those closest to him aren't the ones that love him the most, and in fact, some of the Republicans I know who jumped on the opportunity to work for the Republican governor left his office only months later as Democrats.

Where is that 36% going? Suggestions?

Hillary's at it Once Again...

We all know that Hillary really loves to capitalize on these current event stories...but since when does she have the right to play the role of cultural commentator and draw attention to her website whenever something in this country makes potential voters a bit upset?

what we'll see next: "Show how upset you are about the cleanliness of fast food restuarants...donate to my campaign now and send an email to Taco Bell's president"

Cut it out, Hillary. You're running for President, not for the head of the FCC or PC police.