Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Why Barack Obama Should be President

I believe Barack Obama should be our next president because:
  • He is brilliant. He got into the best schools on merit alone. When you listen to him it is obvious that this guy has got a lot of excellent grey stuff between his ears. The Presidency is perhaps the most intellectually demanding job on the planet; we should never accept a mediocre intellect in that office.
  • He is extremely knowledgeable. In his books, in 20+ debates and countless interviews he has shown a command of the facts. Without knowing the facts it is all but impossible to navigate the dangerous waters ahead.
  • He knows the Constitution. Obama was a professor of constitutional law, exactly what we need after eight years of blatantly unconstitutional spying, signing statements, erosion of our rights and over-reach by the executive branch.
  • Everybody makes more money under Democratic presidents. This was decisively documented in Unequal Democracy by Princeton economist Larry Bartels. He shows that very wealthy people do a little better under Democrats vs. Republicans, but middle and working class people do a lot better.
  • He made the right call on Iraq before the invasion. He said "don't". If we'd done as he said we'd be a lot better off today.
  • He is focused on the destruction of al Qaeda.
  • When the Republican's took over eight years ago our military was unbeatable, our prestige was high, the government was running a surplus, the middle and working class were making more money, and the economy was humming. Republican rule has been a disaster.
  • When warned in August 2001 that al Qaeda intended to attack America, possibly with airplanes, Bush did nothing. Didn't tell anyone to investigate, didn't form a task force, didn't look into it, didn't send out an alert, didn't even ask a question.
  • Over the last eight years the value of my 401K and IRA has gone down, down, down.
  • Obama has a record of crafting legislation on controversial topics so well constructed both sides support it.
  • He is a terrific communicator. His speeches bring me to the brink of tears. His explanations make sense and clarify complex, difficult topics.
  • He thinks things through. He doesn't just jump at the first solution that presents itself. He determines the facts, listens to all sides, and makes careful, considered decisions.
  • He is calm under pressure. Calm people make better decisions.
  • He is well regarded overseas. We cannot win the war with al Qaeda, deal with global warming, or fix the economy without foreign help. We need to get our reputation out of the toilet.
  • He is steady. America is a big country. The president can't be bouncing all over the place. He needs to take his time, make good decisions and follow through with consistency. Obama has demonstrated this on his campaign and the economic crisis.
  • He is a terrific executive. He's only had one major executive position -- running a campaign for president. Even his opponents admit that he has done a masterful job.
  • He acts, thinks, and looks like someone who can lead America well.

    We need someone really good now. Barack Obama is no saint, but he is an unusually good politician. He just might be exactly what we need.

  • Friday, October 24, 2008

    How I'm Voting and Why

  • President: Obama. He is very smart, extremely capable, brings people together, and shares most of my deepest, most important values.
  • Vice President: Biden. I really wanted Hillary, but compared to Sarah Palin it's a no brainer. If she can't handle Katie Couric, how's she going to do with Vladimir Putin?
  • Representative: Sam Farr. He's the Democrat and the Republicans have done such a lousy job of running this country they need to be badly beaten so they make some serious changes.
  • State Senator: Joe Simitian. See previous.
  • State Assembly: Bill Monning. I heard him speak and liked him.
  • SC County Board of Education: Rachel Huff. Her statement is reasonable and I talked to her opponent. He didn't know his stuff. His focus was increased spending on the schools, perfectly reasonable, but he didn't know how much was being spent today. Governing well requires knowledge, as we have discovered with our current President.
  • Cabrillo Community College District: Susan True. I liked her spiel in the voter pamphlet. I liked Kevin McGibben too but not quite as much.
  • Santa Cruz School District: Ken Wagman. His spiel was decent and his opponent didn't bother with a Spanish translation.
  • Soquel Union School District: Kim Nadeau, Mary Glenn-Cahalen, Kathy Hees, and Cynthia Torres-Ricca. I know Kim. She's smart, capable and, based on a long telephone conversation, extremely knowledgeable, especially on finances. The others are running with her. I also really don't like the current school board. I didn't like it when they closed Capitola Elementary and I don't like their plans for Jade Street Park. Her ideas on the direction the school district should go are very close to mine: fiscal transparency, keep Jade Street a park and look into converting schools to K-8 to promote community and so hundreds of parents aren't driving their kids to school every day clogging the roads and wasting gas. She also has some ideas for increasing funding.
  • City of Capitola: Michael Termini and Dennis Norton. I talked to Kirby Nicol and liked a lot of what he said, but he wants to build three new hotels in Capitola and I don't really want that many more hotels in Capitola. Termini seems like a good guy and I liked an email on presidential politics he sent me. Norton wants to do a bunch of stuff I approve of, like a skateboard park. The kids love to skateboard and right now there's no good place for them to do it, so they tend to use New Brighton School which creates problems.
  • Soquel Creek Water District: Thomas La Hue and Bruce Daniels. They seem to understand that our water resources are finite and at their limit.
  • Initiatives: NO on 1A, 3, 10, 12 because they are all bonds. Bonds increase debt. The State of California already owes $60 billion and has the authority (from previous initiatives) to borrow $76 billion more. All this on an income of $100 billion. This is too much debt. There's always some worthy cause to borrow for, and if we do it every time we'll go bankrupt or at least have constant fiscal crises. Actually, note that we seem to have lots of fiscal crises!
  • YES on 2, farm animal welfare. The initiative seems simple and reasonable, but mostly the opposition argument in the voter pamphlet is obviously fear mongering and probably lying.
  • NO on 4, parental notification of minors having abortions. This is an area where government should tread lightly, and also looks like someone is just putting some hoops for young girls seeking abortion to jump through.
  • ???? on 5, non-violent drug offenses. I like the idea of keeping drug offenders out of our overcrowded prisons, but the initiative is very complex and I'm not really sure it's better than what we have now. However, the opponents in the voter pamphlet seem to be fear mongering and possibly lying. On the other hand the presidents of the California Police Chiefs Association and District Attorneys Association are against it. For a better legal approach to recreational drugs, see
  • NO on 6, police and law enforcement funding. It mandates major spending increases without saying where the money comes from, allows greater use of hearsay evidence in court, and putting even more people in prison. We already incarcerate about 1% of Americans, and over 3% are on parole, waiting for trial or are in prison. That's way above international standards and way too high.
  • NO on 7, renewable energy generation. This is a trojan horse. Among other things, there is a really terrible clause that will effectively wipe out alternative energy businesses generating less than 30 Megawatts. They won't count towards the renewable energy quotas the utilities must meet under this bill. It's also too complex to understand, which always gets a NO from me.
  • NO on 8, anti-gay marriage. A couple little old ladies getting married is a lot better for marriage than a couple of drunk teenagers getting married by an Elvis impersonator in Las Vegas.
  • No on 9, victims rights, parole. Some of this initiative seems to be good ideas, but it's complex, mandates expenditures without providing funding, and has some legally questionable parts. However, the killer for me is in the arguments, the proponents are obviously fear mongering. They are also clearly unaware that in America people are innocent until proven guilty.
  • ???? on 11, redistricting. This would mostly take redistricting out of the direct control of the legislature. That is definitely a good thing, but I'm not sure it's done the best way.
  • YES on D. Continuing the sales tax through 2017 is needed to pay some bonds the city took out while allowing the police force to be fully staffed. The large police force in Capitola is closely related to the low crime rate. Let's keep it that way.

    There you have it. If you have a good reason I should change my vote, please let me know before November 4!

  • Monday, October 20, 2008

    Comparing McCain and Obama

    Directly comparing McCain and Obama is difficult. They are much different men, with much different experience, and have different strengths and weaknesses. But there is one executive arena where a direct comparison can be made: both are running presidential campaigns. This provides us a direct, apples-to-apples comparison, although McCain has an advantage since this is his second campaign whereas it's the first time out for Obama.

    Unfortunately for McCain, the comparison is easy and decisive: Obama has run a far, far better campaign by essentially every measure. Furthermore, Obama put his campaign together from scratch with no help from the Democratic establishment in the first year and a half, whereas McCain had the Republican party behind him until he ran out of money temporarily before the primaries.

    Make no mistake, Obama has run a far better campaign. He is better organized, has more volunteers, they are more enthusiastic, he has raised far more money, he has raised money from far more people, he has registered more new voters, and he has run a strategically consistent campaign from the beginning while McCain has a new strategy every couple of days.

    Although Obama is perfectly capable of going negative, he does so far less than McCain, and usually only in response to attacks. The polls say Obama won all three debates. Then there's the single most important decision of any campaign, who will be vice-president? Obama's pick for VP was boring and safe, but there's no question Biden is knowledgeable, whereas Sarah Palin clearly knows very little about national and international issues and, worse, seems to have little interest. Many intelligent, notable conservative Republicans, e.g., George Will and General Colin Powell, have called her unfit for the job.

    In the one apples-to-apples comparison of executive performance we can make there is no question: Obama is better than McCain by a wide margin.

    Monday, October 13, 2008

    Who is Obama?

    Who is Obama?
  • An extremely intelligent yet decidedly practical man.
  • A professor of constitutional law.
  • The author of two best selling books.
  • The first African-American editor of the Harvard Law Review.
  • A self made man, who got where he is by his own efforts, his family having no money or influence.
  • A guy who made the right call on Iraq from the very beginning.
  • A family man.
  • A guy who gave up a high paying job to organize poor people in Chicago for peanuts.
  • A terrific speaker.
  • A champion of the middle class.
  • A steady hand in turbulent times.
  • A guy who can sink 3-pointers consistently.
  • A brilliant campaigner -- even his opponents speak with admiration of his organization, which he created from scratch.
  • The most successful fund raiser in modern times, without taking money from PACs or lobbyists. Most of his money comes from those with modest means.
  • A leader with a global strategic vision.
  • A counter-puncher, he rarely strikes first, but often strikes hard.
  • A masterful consensus builder who has repeatedly crafted controversial legislation to gather support from both sides of the debate.
  • A man with first hand knowledge of Islamic society, gathered on the school yards of Indonesia. This is a major benefit for the war with al Qaeda.
  • The guy who beat the legendary Clinton machine with the Democratic establishment behind it, and who is well ahead running against the vaunted Republican attack machine.
  • A man who can see all sides of an issue, and who seeks the council of those who disagree to make sure he finds the truth.
  • A master of the internet political campaign.
  • A rationalist.

    But most of all, a great American and Human Being.

    America has been fortunate in its leaders. George Washington didn't become King. Thomas Jefferson went ahead with the Louisiana Purchase. Abraham Lincoln, with practically no experience, kept the Union together. FDR led us through the Great Depression then defeated Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan in four short years. I don't know if Barack Obama is in their league, but he might be. I hope we have the wisdom to choose him.

  • Saturday, October 11, 2008

    McCain: memory problem or flat out lie?

    Watching the debate Tuesday night McCain attacked Obama for saying he'd take advantage of an opportunity to kill Osama bin Laden inside Pakistan, even without Pakistani permission. McCain said this was a reckless thing to say. Obama counter-punched pointing out that John McCain sang 'bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran' to the tune of the Beach Boys' Barbaran. So far, just the usual. But then McCain said he was just joking around with a fellow veteran, implying that it was a private conversation someone overheard.

    Problem is, a half hour later I was watching a video of McCain singing 'bomb bomb bomb ...' into a microphone with no one standing near him. Looked like a campaign event. The host of the program said he played the Beach Boys version at the start of the next couple of rallies.

    Either McCain's memory slipped or he flat out lied.

    Take your pick.

    Monday, October 6, 2008

    John McCain's judgement

    Watch these videos: (starts with an ad) (starts with an ad) (starts with an ad)

    In John McCain's judgement, this person is the best Republican, other than himself, to have their finger on the nuclear button, control a world wide military fighting two long term wars, handle a $14 trillion economy in deep trouble, oversee a $3 trillion budget, deal with a $10 trillion debt, and bring the international community and a deeply divided country together.

    John McCain is 72 years old, he's had four melanomas -- the kind of skin cancer that kills -- one of which got into his lymph nodes, a very bad sign. If the Republicans win, on 20 January Sara Palin could easily be president.

    Do you believe that the person in these videos can be a first-class President of the US in a few months?

    Furthermore, this is all you will get. You can bet there won't be many, perhaps no, more interviews where she answers questions,
    questions that might reveal something they don't want you to know. You'll just get rehearsed speech written and vetted by a campaign staff dominated by veterans of the Bush campaigns.

    Obama is not the most experienced politician in Washington, but he's done 20+ debates, hundreds of interviews and been put under a microscope for almost two years -- and 18 million people voted for him to be President. Only one person voted for Sarah Palin as VP, John McCain, a man who's judgement, IMHO, is deeply flawed.