Silent Archimedes

Posts Tagged ‘Palin’

Why the founding fathers got it right with the electoral college

Posted by silentarchimedes on November 8, 2008

The crisis from the 2000 presidential election continued to leave a bad taste in the mouths of the voting public during the 2004 election and even the recently removed 2008 presidential election. To the outsider, the hanging chads and the recount after recount in Florida gave the impression that every person’s vote must count. However, everyone knew that it was one of those rare instances in American presidential politics that a single vote could actually make such a dramatic a difference. A single vote that could potentially give Florida’s electoral college votes to the winning candidate, and thus the presidency. When Florida and the presidency finally went to candidate George Bush, people were at least somewhat happy that the judicial and election systems of America had held its ground.

However, another interesting statistic left the Al Gore camp more perturbed. Candidate Gore had won the popular vote over George Bush. That means more people in the country had voted for Gore over Bush. But due to the electoral college system, Bush won the presidency. Mathematically speaking, each vote cast for Gore was actually worth less than one vote. Or, each vote cast for Bush was worth more than each vote cast for Gore. “This doesn’t seem fair”, the Gore supporters argued. Bush supporters responded, “Well, that’s the system for hundreds of years and it’s always worked.  Stop complaining.”

Presidential candidate Party Home state Popular vote Electoral
vote
Count Pct
George W. Bush Republican Texas 50,456,002 47.87% 271
Al Gore Democratic Tennessee 50,999,897 48.38% 266

Why did the founding fathers use an electoral college instead of a popular vote to determine the winner of the presidential election? In short, the founding fathers were skeptical of the will of the people or their ability to intellectually vote for the candidate of their choice. By inserting a safeguard, the electoral college, the founding fathers believed that if by that rare chance the will of the people was either misguided or that some populated region in America dominated the popular vote, the safeguard would protect American democracy.

Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska

Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska

Which leads me to why I think the electoral college, although in many cases a frustration and hints at unfairness, it is a necessary safeguard. Let’s look at one Senate race this year that could have used something like an electoral college. The Alaska Senate race between Republican incumbent Ted Stevens and Democratic challenger Mark Begich. Ted Stevens was convicted of seven counts of making false statements and taking bribes worth more than $250,000 to make renovations on his personal home. The evidence was overwhelming. After the announced conviction, bipartisan calls for Stevens removal were prominent, reaching up to federal level, including John McCain and Barack Obama. Even the governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin said at the time that he had broken his trust with the people and she planned to ask him to step aside. However, the news of the corruption did not affect Stevens attempt for an eighth term in the Senate as he won the Senate elections in November! This is a man who epitomizes the corruption in government and the Alaskan people still voted for him!!! He won by a 1.43% margin (roughly 3200 votes) over Begich. To make it more interesting, Sarah Palin switched her tone and declared that the will of the people had spoken and she would not ask him to step aside. In other words, she was okay with supporting the first felon elected to the US Senate in history!! What about the 46.61% of the people? Is the 48.04% that voted for Stevens the “will of the people.” It is not even a majority. However, the question that really needs answering is why did the people still vote for Ted Stevens? Had they no shame that they were electing a felon to the US Senate for the first time ever?

The corruption scandals associated with Senator Ted Stevens and Representative Don Young. The inexperience and ethical issues of Sarah Palin. The hilarious attempt of Mike Gravel to win the Democratic primary. The Bridge to Nowhere. And finally, the “will of the people” voting for convicted felon, Stevens.  What is going on in Alaska?? I just think the people there live their own merry little lives and are disconnected with reality or don’t care for it. If the presidential election was ran the same way Alaska is, this country would be in big trouble. Are you telling me that if McCain or Obama was convicted as a felon, that they would still win the general election?

This example clearly demonstrates that the will of the people or the ability of the public to vote with due diligence and conscience is not always dependable. The electoral college works for an overwhelming majority of the time. It is only at times of a close race that it has the potential to rear its ugly head. However, if a race is that close anyways, theoretically it won’t really matter who wins since there is no  definitive will of the people.

In the case of Ted Stevens and Alaska, I wish the founding fathers put the electoral college into Senate races as well. But of course they wanted to separate representation at the federal and state elections. Then again, I don’t know if I would trust the electoral college in Alaska either.

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A Letter to America

Posted by silentarchimedes on November 3, 2008

Dear Fellow Americans,

The land of the free and the home of the brave...

The land of the free and the home of the brave...

Tomorrow is one of the most important days in recent American history. It is a day that will affect the short term prospects of America and the standing of America in the world for the next century. The events and actions of the past eight years have accelerated the damaging path the country has embarked on for the past thirty years. The irresponsible actions have left America crippled economically, politically, morally and psychologically. Both parties have been hijacked by the special interests of corporations, ideological groups and personal interests. The values in which America was founded on have been distorted. The decision made by America tomorrow will go a long way in determining if we continue this egregious path of self-destruction.

The debt at the national, local and consumer levels are not only due to the actions of the past eight years. The decision by the Supreme Court in 1978 (Marquette National Bank of Minneapolis vs. First of Omaha Service Corp.) to deregulate interest rate caps at the state level was the precursor to the inundation of credit cards and the mortgaging of personal futures for the present. Although Reaganomics has been credited with bringing the country out of the vitriolic stagflation of the late 1970s, it has had a long term effect that has eaten away at the fiscal responsibility of the federal government. At the core of Reaganomics was reducing tax rates by reducing government spending which in turn was achieved by reducing costs associated with regulation and social programs. However,  unexpected costs from the burgeoning Cold War resulted in large trade and federal budget deficits. In order to cover such deficits, the government began borrowing heavily both domestically and abroad. This decision to mortgage the future of the country for the present instilled a belief that debt is good, even to other countries, such as China, Japan and India. America became a borrower nation instead of a loaner nation, which it had been for decades during its prominence.

The deregulation of these two critical issues are the main causes of the current economic problems. It instilled bad habits at all levels of society. Although quality of life continued to increase the past thirty years, it was mostly at the cost of the future. Both politicians and individuals began feeling entitled to such luxuries and expected it to last forever. However, as analyzed by Pulitzer Prize winner Jared Diamond (Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed), it is this infectious mindset that causes great societies to fail. This country is at that critical juncture. Do we reinstate the values, sacrifices and hard work that made this country great or do we continue down this destructive path?

In addition to the present economic and ideological problems that endanger the quality of life of America, there are many massive elephants in the near future that can derail any sense of comfort in the nation. A fundamental restructuring of social programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid is required in the next one or two presidencies before the effects of the baby boomer population cripple the flow of aid from the system. The high quality of life has left Americans lazy, fat and indifferent, and the medical costs associated with treating related diseases and health issues threaten to destroy the already broken health-care system. The super-highway system that supported the rise of American power is also the bane of the country’s dependence on foreign oil and its lavish automobile lifestyle. Furthermore, the infrastructure of America is crumbling and poses a danger to the lifeblood of a large country like America. A massive government infrastructure initiative is required within the next twenty years. The only question will be where does all the money come from? As globalization continues to redistribute the wealth and power of the world, the education system and America’s ability to compete are also being tested. American children  continue to fall behind other countries at all levels of education, from middle school to college to graduate school. This country has been able to sustain its technological competitiveness partly through the immigration of top-level students from countries such as China and India. However, the current backlash on immigration coupled with the increasing prestige of other countries’ higher education systems, begs the question of how America will sustain its technological edge? Corporations and special interest groups as super-humans continue to eat away at the fabric of America. Their selfish narrow-minded view of profit and ideology permeate all levels of society, from individuals to the government. Ideology has especially polarized the country into two hardened stances, secularity versus ideology. The effects of this has left the country fearful and suspicious of each other. Finally, the effects of the internet and other entertainment-related technologies cannot be understated. Although they have created luxuries beyond anyone’s belief and increased the free flow of information, they have also created a schizophrenic society of 24 hour media frenzy and questionable freedoms of morality. The neutrality of journalism and the mental well-being  of society are at stake. Coupled with the constraints of global warming and moral responsibility, the above problems must be faced responsibly.

These problems will definitely be difficult to face and resolve. Most of these have been simmering for years, but have been effectively ignored. However, what has always made America great has been its ability to come together as a country and sacrifice for the greater good of the country and the world. The sacrifices by this country during the Civil War and World War II for the greater good cannot be forgotten. Although society was simpler and less polarized then, the country must come together once again to face the unprecedented wave of issues that threaten to send America down the road of self-destruction.

Tomorrow begins that choice. Tomorrow the country decides which path to take, one of sacrifice for the greater good or one of continued wantonness. Tomorrow begins the day where America can begin reinstating the values that made this country so great. A country of uniqueness not found anywhere else in the world. A melting pot that protects individual rights and helps others at times of need. A constitution so strong that the thought of a revolution is unfathomable. The land of opportunity and openness. A land of thousands of parks and natural resources. The separation of church and state and the freedom of religion. The land of the best medical care and higher education system. A land of tolerance and hope. And the land of the free and the home of the brave…

Whomever you vote for tomorrow, please think openly and clearly. Without any bias of age, race, religion, and fear, think who will be better for America. Who will lead America towards a path of redemption and strength. A path that requires sacrifice but cherishes American freedoms. A candidate that realizes that what America needs now is a problem solver with pragmatism and humility, and not one fixated on idealism, intolerance and fear mongering. Look closely at your choice, and know that when you go home afterwards, there will be a better America tomorrow. A better America for yourself and your family, and also for its great citizens of today and tomorrow.

America’s tomorrow begins now…

Thank you.

Silent Archimedes

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Playing devil’s advocate on Obama’s campaign

Posted by silentarchimedes on October 20, 2008

I’ve been so negative on the McCain and Palin campaign (I think justifiably), that I haven’t had too much  time to dissect the negative aspects or questions regarding Obama’s campaign. Below I take a quick look at some of the issues that are warning signs or concerns or questions.

Obama once said yes to public financing

Obama once said yes to public financing

1. Any chance of publicly financed campaigns in the future are over – Since Obama changed his mind and refused to abide by the rules of public financing, he has  far out-raised McCain because of private donations, each limited to $2500. As a result, due to his popularity and his campaign’s acumen for grassroots fundraising, Obama just announced his campaign raised over $150 million in September alone! That is such an unbelievable figure. John McCain, who does abide by the public financing laws, can only spend $84 million in September and October combined. It makes sense why Obama didn’t want to abide by it because he knew he can easily raise more than that amount by himself. Why limit his campaign to that figure? This discrepancy in financing has proven to be a very important advantage for Obama because he can spend tons of money in states he has only a small chance of winning, where as McCain has to use his money wisely. Obama has also taken out a 30 minute time slot right before the World Series game six! Future candidates will see how effective his internet fundraising strategy was and will believe they can duplicate that. No one will want to abide by the limits of public financing.

Source: Yahoo News – Analysis: Obama money dooms current public finance

Money for Obama's Programs

Money for Obama's Programs

2. So where is all the money going to come from to fund Obama’s programs? – Although Obama has clearly been more detailed and specific than McCain has been on what he will do if he is elected president, it is still unclear as to how it will be done and where all the money will come from. He often mentions how McCain wants to use a hatchet but he wants to use a scalpel to cut costs. That means he will do a serious assessment of programs once in office, but as of a right now, we do not know which programs will be affected. The proposals he mentions are a common problem for presidential candidates in previous elections. They say they will spend this amount of money on this problem, but never give details on where that amount will come from. At least this is better than McCain, who has been vague at even what he is going to do. That being said, Obama’s ideas are still more practical and would better serve the middle class than McCain’s.

Barack the Celebrity

Barack the Celebrity

3. How far will his celebrity status take him or hurt him? – It is amazing the excitement that has surrounded Obama since he gave that famous coming out speech at the 2004 DNC convention. Since then he has beaten Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary and now has a comfortable lead in the general election against McCain. His speech in Missouri last week drew over 100,000 supporters according to a police estimate. Is there some anxiety as to whether this is part bubble? He has led an almost perfect campaign, from his fundraising abilities, to his calm demeanor, to his ability to inspire. Is he truly a “transformational figure”, as well-respected Republican General Colin Powell said this weekend during his endorsement of Obama or is America in need of any inspirational candidate that he has been elevated to a higher celebrity status than deserved? Only time will tell.

A Divided America

A Divided America

4. As much as Obama has inspired the country, can he really unite a very divided America? – The race is still relatively tight (in some polls, only a 48-43 lead) even with all the gaffes and negativity surrounding the McCain/Palin camp.  Why is this? Why is almost half the country still undecided or supporting a grumpy old man over a young inspirational man? As some have alluded to, race still plays an issue in present day America, even if it’s now more of a below the surface rumbling. Can Obama unite this country as President even if a good minority just won’t let him? This one seems more out of his hands and more about how much America has changed or hasn’t changed in the last 100 years.

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Political cartoon: The strategy and tactic of the final 30 days of the presidential campaign

Posted by silentarchimedes on October 7, 2008

The Obama Strategy vs. The McCain Tactic

The Obama-Biden Strategy vs. The McCain-Palin Tactic

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Excellent Newsweek Cover Story – The Palin Problem

Posted by silentarchimedes on October 6, 2008

The Six-Pack Faces of Sarah Palin (Newsweek)

The Joe Six-Pack Faces of Sarah Palin (Newsweek)

The latest cover story of Newsweek titled “The Palin Problem” is an excellent article. It explains in pretty basic terms why Palin’s argument for why she is a great VP candidate because she is a Joe Six-Pack or a Hockey Mom is so illogical and completely absurd. The problem facing Washington is not that America wants a regular Joe Shmoe in the office, it wants an exceptional person that looks out for the interests and fights for the Joe Six-Packs and the Hockey Moms of America. We don’t actually want one in office. Seriously, I definitely do not want a beer drinking, pot-belly scratching smelly Joe Six-Pack as Vice-President. I also don’t want a Hockey Mom in office either! When I go to a bar to watch football, I don’t see a single person I want as potential President of the United States.

Palin needs to focus more on what she has done as Governor and what she has done for the middle class of America. We want our leaders to strive for excellence, and to have a history of excellence. We expect more from them, and that’s the current problem with Washington. Does John McCain, with 7 houses and 11 automobiles really understand the problems facing the middle class? Does George Bush with his huge Texas ranch and political and elitist family connections really understand what the average worker in Pennsylvania is going thru? We haven’t had an exceptional leader who understood middle class America in a long time. Sarah Palin is not the answer. She might understand what middle class America is going through, but she doesn’t have the experience or history of striving for excellence to do what is right. Obama at least offers us that hope. Even Biden and his history of traveling to and from work every day and middle class connections has more of it.

Say no to Mrs. Hockey Mom and Mrs. Joe Six-Pack. So sick of hearing those words.  Can’t she come up with better phrases and arguments…And she needs to stop saying she’s a Washington outsider. She’s way too much of a Washington outsider. Seriously, I can’t imagine her as president. It is a really scary thought to think if she is President what she would do to fix the huge economic crisis…

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Who has been the worst vice-president or vice-presidential candidate in recent years?

Posted by silentarchimedes on October 3, 2008

With so much negative attention on Sarah Palin and her obvious lack of experience, it’s time to take a look at who is the worst vice-president or vice-presidential candidate in recent years. Here are the four candidates.in chronological order. Please vote who you think is the worst in the poll.

Dan Quayle

Dan Quayle

1. Dan Quayle – George HW Bush’s VP (1988-1992) – Quayle was intellectually incompetent and had the foot-in-mouth disease. Po-tay-to, po-tah-to, either one is fine. But potatoe?? What about Quayle comparing himself to JFK during the election campaign? Other funny sayings? “We don’t want to go back to tomorrow, we want to go forward“, “The future will be better tomorrow“, “I love California. I practically grew up in Phoenix“, and “It’s time for the human race to enter the solar system“. Although the country mostly knows him as the vice-president, another interesting question that needed to be asked, what were the people in Indiana thinking electing him to the House in1976 and 1978, and Senate in 1980 and 1986?

Vice Admiral James Stockdale

Vice Admiral James Stockdale

2. James Stockdale – Ross Perot’s running mate (1992) – Stockdale infamously opened the VP debate by saying, “Who am I? Why am I here?” Initially, the rhetorical questions drew applause from the audience, [4] seeming to be a good-natured acknowledgment of his relatively unknown status and lack of traditional qualifications. However, his unfocused style for the rest of the debate (including asking the moderator to repeat one question because he didn’t have his hearing aid turned on) made him appear confused and almost disoriented. An unflattering recreation of the moment on Saturday Night Live later that week, with Phil Hartman as Stockdale, cemented a public perception of Stockdale as slow-witted. He was also often parodied for his constant use of the word “gridlock” to describe slow governmental policy. As his introduction to the large segment of American voters who had not previously heard of him, the debate was disastrous for Stockdale. He was portrayed in the media as elderly and confused, and his reputation never recovered. (source: Wikipedia)

Richard Cheney

Richard Cheney

3. Dick Cheney – George W Bush’s VP (2001-2008) – The ultra-hawk who is more inconspicuous than Ed Harris as a sniper in Enemy at the Gates. Actually, Cheney’s head is just a rounder version of Harris’. Cheney acted like a sniper, incognito, firing barbs from behind the scenes, or inside a bunker. Round after round of incidents, Cheney appeared impervious to controversy. He weathered the weak WMD evidence for attacking Iraq, the CIA leak scandal, the hunting incident, CDC global warming testimony deletions, health problems, and completely elitist, hawkish comments. Both supporters and detractors of Cheney regard him as a shrewd and knowledgeable politician who knows the functions and intricacies of the federal government. This is a major contributor to him weathering controversies.

Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin

4. Sarah Palin – John McCain’s running mate (2008) – Blunders, lies, inexperience has made Palin the butt of many jokes, especially on Saturday Night Live.

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McCain’s political campaign moves all backfiring on him

Posted by silentarchimedes on September 30, 2008

The failed bailout plan is another in a long line of political campaign moves that has blown up in John McCain’s increasingly desperate campaign. Here are the top three:

Where is Sarah Palin?

Where is Sarah Palin?

1. Picking Sarah Palin as Vice-Presidential candidate – When McCain saw that a large amount of Hillary Clinton supporters were still upset at Obama’s handling of the VP vetting process and eventual selection of Joe Biden, he took that as an opportunity to kill three birds with one stone. To appease the Clinton supporters and disenchanted female voters by selecting a young female candidate. To fortify his maverick reputation by selecting someone no one expected and is a Washington outsider. And to excite his core conservative base by selecting someone who is pro-life and pro-gun.

This move worked for exactly one week. Although it did and still does excite his core constituency, he has instead turned off the independent voters, women and solidified Obama’s base. Palin has since been exposed as someone completely inexperienced and out of her league. McCain has had to retract several of her public statements. His campaign has hidden her from the public view for fear of her saying something to the detriment of his campaign. While Biden has performed over 100 public interviews since his selection, Palin has done less than 10. He has surrounded her with former Bush advisers in training her to follow his views instead of her own views.  Instead of a game changer, she has become a distraction and stress.

McCain hugs Bush

McCain hugs Bush

2. Choosing to use lies, misinformation and misdirections in campaign – McCain’s campaign has increasingly used devious tactics in attempts to dishonestly smear Obama. The lies and misinformation have been so obvious that the majority of the media and public have picked this up. McCain instead lambasted the media for being biased, and that has also backfired. Instead of talking about issues, the campaign has used misdirections and attacks instead of responding with what they would do. It is becoming increasingly clear that his campaign is being influenced by the ultra-aggressive campaign advisers from George Bush. The whole win at all costs is backfiring at a time when the country wants honest change and not the same ole political moves.

McCain suspends campaign

McCain suspends campaign

3. Suspending campaign to push for bailout plan – The latest move backfiring on McCain might be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Because the public views Obama as someone better capable to address the economy, McCain had to do something to show he is more capable at handling the economy. Last week, he decided to suspend his campaign, including the scheduled Friday debate with Obama, to go to Washington and push for the bailout plan. What seemed like a focused move was seen by the media and public as purely a political move. It only accentuated his potential inability to handle multiple crises as president. People clamored that if he was president, he can’t just put one crisis on pause while he handles another. Additionally, the public especially wanted to see the candidates speak at a debate, at a critical time like this. They saw it as a cop-out by McCain to suspend the debate. To make matters worse, legislators from both parties in Washington saw him as a distraction to the experts dealing with the bailout plan. As the bailout neared for a likely success, McCain began attacks at Obama for not doing enough to help the bailout plan and began patting himself on the back for pushing for the plan. However, in a stunning final straw, the bailout plan was rejected in the House yesterday. More than 60% of his party voted against the plan that McCain said he aggressively pushed for. McCain’s ability to even convince his own party had failed miserably. The public was strongly against a plan that seemed to bail out Wall Street and not help the common people. It will be interesting to see the fallout from this in the coming polls.

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McCain retracts Palin’s comments… again

Posted by silentarchimedes on September 28, 2008

The McCain-Palin camp is so afraid to leave Sarah Palin alone to speak her mind for fear of her saying something wrong and stupid, it is becoming a debacle for the Republican campaign. McCain was forced to retract Palin’s public statements that she would pursue unilateral strikes of terrorists into Pakistan if necessary.  “If that’s what we have to do stop the terrorists from coming any further in, absolutely, we should,” Palin said. This statement is in line with Obama’s strategy but against McCain’s. McCain had to retract her statements with a weak attempt to say that Palin and him were on the same page.

“She would not…she understands and has stated repeatedly that we’re not going to do anything except in America’s national security interest,” McCain told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos of Palin. “In all due respect, people going around and… sticking a microphone while conversations are being held, and then all of a sudden that’s—that’s a person’s position… This is a free country, but I don’t think most Americans think that that’s a definitive policy statement made by Governor Palin.”

McCain emphasized Sunday, Palin “shares” his view on the matter.

Is he kidding? Sticking a microphone while conversations are being held? Jeesh… That is lame. And in other words, don’t listen to her. Listen to me. And by shares his views, it means she can’t voice her own views. What i say goes.

They better get her on the same page as them soon. The VP debate is in a few days, unless they try to delay the debate until after the elections. This is such a joke.

Source: CNN McCain retract’s Palin’s Pakistan comments

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Obama beats McCain in first presidential debate

Posted by silentarchimedes on September 27, 2008

A quick list of my observations of the debate last night:

Presidential Debate

First Presidential Debate

1. McCain was too high on himself – Everyone knows that McCain is more experienced than Obama when it comes to foreign policy. I was more interested in what he was going to do with that experience when he becomes president. However, he kept referring to the past and his record. He must have said that he was proud of himself at least four times during the debate. Although more experience usually indicates better judgment, it becomes a negative when your long track record is inconsistent and is associated with the negatives of the past eight years. McCain made it seem like that his experiences should be the sole reason to vote for him and not Obama. We know what you have done. The question is what will you do for change.

2. McCain was very condescending towards Obama – This is related to the first point. If Obama had failed miserably in his foreign policy answers last night, McCain would get a pass at sounding condescending and patronizing towards Obama. However, Obama definitely held his own last night. The result is McCain seemed like an old man scolding a young man. He would speak in this higher pitch whisper when he was in his “I’m smarter and more experienced than you” rants. What made it worse is that in his quest to show that Obama was dumber than him in foreign policy, McCain made several incorrect assertions. He made fun of Obama for not knowing the difference between tactic and strategy when in fact he was the one that was wrong (as explained by many analysts on the news networks).

3. Obama was too nice – Obama is too nice of a man. He must have said “John is right” in some form or another at least eight times during the debate. McCain gave him several openings for Obama to throw a strong punch, but he resisted. When McCain asked Obama what was his definition of rich, Obama should have responded, “someone who has 12 cars and 7 houses.” Even as McCain continued his condescending rants, Obama stayed nice and imperturbed. Sometimes one would like to see a little more offensive emotion from him. We are sick of political ploys, lies and trying to pull the cover over the public.

4. Where was Palin?? – After the debate was over, both the VP candidates, Biden and Palin, were invited by the major television networks to give their assessment of the debate. Biden accepted all the networks invitations. However, Palin was nowhere to be seen! She declined all invitations. Instead, surrogates like  Rudy Guiliani were used to represent her. All it reminded me was how inexperienced she is and that even if McCain was indeed better than Obama on foreign policy, I would rather vote for Obama  and Biden then know that Palin is one heartbeat away from becoming Commander in Chief. She has been pretty incognito since her RNC bounce. I personally treat that as an insult. America is in the heart of a major election campaign and one of the major VP candidates is being kept away from the public for obvious reasons.

5. Did McCain even know Obama was on the stage with him? – Not once did McCain look at Obama during the debate. Obama engaged McCain, Jim Lehrer and even spoke to the camera and the public. McCain spent the entire debate talking directly to Lehrer. Even when he lambasted Obama or the rare times he talked about what he would do, it was towards Lehrer. Even when Obama was talking to McCain, McCain always looked down at the podium. Show your opponent some respect. The tactics, and yes, I mean tactics, used by McCain have been dishonest, condescending and downright conceited. Here is a funny comic about this.

Conclusion

Overall, I think the general public feels the same about me as most polls showed Obama slightly winning the debate. It wasn’t a knockout blow by Obama. It might have even been a tie because Obama was too even-keeled. However, when the topic is McCain’s specialty, a tie is considered a win for Obama. Obama was professional, suscinct and knowledgeable. McCain sounded like what has been wrong with America the past eight years; the I’m better than you mentality. Next week’s vice presidential debate between Biden and Palin should be even more interesting. The question is does Palin show up or one of her surrogates?

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My Independent Assessment: Is Sarah Palin Qualified to be Vice President of the United States?

Posted by silentarchimedes on September 18, 2008

I had been writing this long assessment of Sarah Palin and whether she was qualified to be Vice President or even President. However, I have since stopped writing it for several reasons. One, it got to a point where it was pretty depressing writing so many negative things about someone. It would not be construed as an independent assessment, and purely a biased lambasting of her. Two, it seems like no matter what I said, I wasn’t going to be convincing anyone, since all the news on her is pretty  much out in the public. Either you don’t like her or you like her because people you don’t like like her. And finally, it seems like the initial weeks of excitement over her is over, and the trendlines are reverting back to normalcy and logic. That being said, I post what I had written, and leave it at that.

==== Unfinished post below ====

This whole Sarah Palin pick as John McCain’s vice presidential (VP) candidate is really bothering me. I still don’t understand how someone so inexperienced and controversial can reignite the presidential race and give the McCain/Palin ticket its first lead ever. Well, if I am an independent pragmatist, it’s time for me to do some unbiased analysis. I have obviously had an Obama tilt this time around, but being an independent does not mean you vote for a third party every election. At least for me, it means I choose a candidate based on the important issues affecting me and the country at that time and who I think is best equipped to resolve those issues, regardless of political party.

So, it’s time to see Palin from both sides of the argument. To lay all the issues surrounding her and decide if each one is unrelated to her potential as VP or if they are possible landmines. And do an unbiased assessment of whether Sarah Palin is a legitimate person to hold the second highest position in our country. Well, vice-president is second highest mostly by name, considering their only official duty based on the Constitution is to serve as the President of the Senate. The Constitution assigns no executive powers to the VP) and the role only becomes important if the president dies, since the VP is the first to take office.

If you have read my Michael Phelps or Usain Bolt? Who had the greater Olympic achievement, I will try to be as unbiased as possible. As a matter of fact, I went to my Phelps or Bolt assessment with the belief that Bolt would win. instead my assessment concluded otherwise. As I type this sentence, I have no idea what the result will be, and yes, my initial bias is that Palin is not a legitimate VP candidate.

So, let’s begin!


Sarah Palin
Sarah Palin

SARAH PALIN

Name: Sarah Louise Heath Palin
Job: GOVERNOR OF ALASKA

Assumed office December 4, 2006

Party: Republican (1982-present)
Born: February 11, 1964 (age 44)

Sandpoint, Idaho, U.S.

Spouse: Todd Palin (since 1988)
Children: Track, Bristol, Willow, Piper, Trig
Residence: Wasilla, Alaska
Degrees: B.S. communications-journalism

University of Idaho

Religion: Pentecostal Christian


First, some formalities. To be vice president of the United States, an individual must:

  • be a natural born U.S. citizen
  • not be younger than 35
  • have lived in the U.S. for at least 14 years
  • not be “constitutionally ineligible to the office of President”

The last point requires her to have to be eligible for the office of President. The presidential requirements are:

  • be a natural-born citizen of the United States;
  • be at least thirty-five years old;
  • have been a permanent resident in the United States for at least fourteen years.
  • not disqualified by the Senate

A president has a two-term limit, but a VP can serve as VP for unlimited number of terms.


The Assessment


This is how the assessment will go. I will go through every single issue I have read about Palin from the media supporting her and against her. I will then give the issue one of seven possible scores, with the question of how it affects her qualification to be VP of the United States:

+3. Strongly helps her
+2. Helps her
+1. Slightly helps her
0. Has no affect on qualification as VP
-1. Slightly against her
-2. Against her
-3. Strongly against her

Obviously, there will be issues in which it is too subjective to give an unbiased score. For example, the fact that she is pro-life should have no bearing on her qualification as VP. These issues that are too subjective will fall into this category. I will still discuss these issues though.

I will then add up the scores and calculate an average. A positive score would indicate she is qualified enough to be VP. A negative score would indicate the opposite. A final discussion will ensue. I am hoping that as this election campaign continues, I will keep adding to this assessment and modifying the score. If you  have feedback or other issues, please feel free to comment.


The Issues


1. Does vice-presidential pick even matter? – In past presidential campaigns, the vice president has not had a major impact on the eventual outcome of the election. For example, the elder George Bush won the 1988 election even with the ill-advised selection of Dan Quayle. However, there have been campaigns where the selection of the vice president blunted their momentum. One recent example is Ross Perot’s independent campaign of 1992. Because Perot was a third party, the selection of his VP was of utmost interest, since it would clear up the Perot platform. His selection of slow-footed retired Vice Admiral James Stockdale definitely slowed his momentum all the way through the elections.

So does John McCain’s selection of the VP matter? YES. And that’s a resounding yes. The biggest reason is the concern of McCain’s health and age. If McCain wins the election, he will be 72 years old. Based on the 2007 estimates of the CIA World Factbook, the life expectancy of a male in the United States is 75.15. However, this is the expectancy of all ages. If we get into the details, according to the CDC reports, white males born in 1900 have a life expectancy of 46.6, and those born in 1950 have an expectancy of 66.5. Based on the trend that life expectancy increases based on birth dates closer to today (those born in 2005 can expect to live to 75.7),  we can extrapolate the life expectancy of while males born in 1936, the year McCain was born in. Let’s just say it is below 60 years old. McCain is already 12 years beyond his expected life.

To add further more concerns, McCain has battled melanoma, a malignant form of skin cancer. Although he is cancer-free for seven years and his medical records indicate a strong heart and general good health, concerns still persist. We also do not know the long-lasting trauma he experienced in four years of torture and isolation as a POW.

From a logical point of view, the concerns are strong enough to warrant deeper analysis of the vice presidential pick. This is either good or bad for Sarah Palin. The fact that most people do not know anything about her, she has the opportunity to paint her own picture. On the other hand, her inexperience and skeletons would be under the microscope more. As we know about the media, negative things will be blown out of proportion while positive things will be more likely ignored. I give this a negative for her because she is being scrutinized more as a potential presidential candidate than a VP candidate, which means higher standards. Any extra scrutiny of politicians is always a negative because of the attention and spin the media can take.

Score: -2. Against her


2. Honesty – I know honesty is not one of the first words associated with politicians, but it is nonetheless an important characteristic of campaigns. Politicians that have been forthright have usually done better overall. As a society we tend to treat liars worse than dumb people. Barry Bonds is a perfect example. So, after a few weeks as VP candidate, is Palin honest? Let’s look at some issues that she and her camp had publicly released, only to later admit they were false:

Now issues that are obviously lies, but the Palin camp continues to publicly push or defend:

  • She said no to the Bridge to Nowhere. She has been trumping this for the past two weeks. Most independent sources said she supported the bridge and only changed her mind after Congress denied the request and the Bridge had already become a national laughingstock. On Gibson’s interview, she explained that the $200 million was still given to Alaska, but she said no to the bridge and spent it elsewhere. Whaat?!
  • She says Obama will raise taxes. All independent sources say this is false. Over 90% of people’s taxes will be reduced on Obama’s plan. Palin’s reason for cotinuing saying this? She says Obama voted no 94 times on bills Bush wanted to cut taxes. This is an obvious twist of truth because Obama voted no to Bush’s tax cuts because they focused on the rich.
  • She billed the state of Alaska $17,059 for travel when the whole time she was working at home. Although this is technically allowed, it is very frowned upon. Her camp has defended this based on technicalities. That’s what politicians do, look for loopholes.
  • She says she is a reformer who worked to end the “abuses of earmark spending in Congress. The truth is the earmarks she requested have been more per person than any other state! This is Alaska! According to the Gibson interview, Alaska gets over $200/person in earmarks, while Obama’s Illinois only gets $20/person in earmarks! She received $27 million of earmarks for her Wasilla town of 7,000! She also hired a lobbyist for Wasilla in her second term!

Score: -3. Strongly against her


3. Family Issues – This is a tough issue, only because I do think family issues get the benefit of doubt in terms of privacy. However, when Palin started exploiting her family publicly, all issues became game. She put a video of her 7-year old daughter on her campaign website telling people to vote for her mother. Then she paraded her entire family at the end of her RNC speech. So let’s look at the most prominent family issues and how it should affect her qualification:

  • Down-syndrome baby – This is a tough one. Slight credit must be given to her to knowingly carry the burden of having a down syndrome baby. However, her decision making must be questioned. To be fair, I cite a British source mother25plus.co.uk that states the risk of a 43 year old mother having a Down Syndrome baby is 1 in 49, compared to 1 in 1351 for 25 year olds and 1 in 384 for 35 year olds. The U.S. stats are a little better. The question must be asked, with already four kids, isn’t birth control a responsible decision for a 43 year old mother? Recent research has also hinted the father’s increasing age is also a risk in the baby having Down Syndrome. When we look at it this way, it would be even more detrimental to her character if she had an abortion on a DS baby she took the risks to have.
  • Pregnant teen daughter – This is a huge negative because of the fact that Palin is suppose to represent family values. One cannot twist the logic or divert attention to the comfort that she’s a regular person with normal problems. The facts are the facts, her 17-year old high school senior daughter is pregnant with her high school boyfriend. Just because they plan to get married does not change the act. Has this family heard of contraceptives? It’s interesting to note that Sarah’s daughter’s brother will only be one year older than her own child.
  • Todd Palin member of Alaskan Independence Party for 8  years – While the Palins were married, Todd was part of a political party that advocates the independence of Alaska from the United States. Although he is now a registered Republican, this can’t help what people view of him.
  • Her marriage was an elopement

However, these four issues can be seen differently, as witnessed by supporters of Palin. Although people can mention the lack of responsibility in the first two issues, we do not have concrete evidence of how and why a couple would want a fifth baby. Thus, this is only a slight negative.

Score: -1. Slightly against her


4. Personal Issues – This differs from family issues in that these issues are directly related to herself.

5. Education – It has been reported that she received her Bachelor of Science in Communications-Journalism from the University of Idaho. However, it has not been fully reported that before going to the University of Idaho, she spent her first college semester at Hawaii Pacific College, transferring in 1983 to North Idaho College and then to the University of Idaho. She attended Matanuska-Susitna College in Alaska for one term, returning to the University of Idaho to complete her Bachelor of Science degree in communicationsjournalism, graduating in 1987.[17][18] As much as people tout that she is a normal person, we should still hold our leaders to higher standards. Nothing against the schools she attended, but she can’t seem to make up her mind.

She has no higher college degree. I value education greatly and I think this is a huge negative. She also used her degree in journalism to become a sports reporter for KTUU-TV in Anchorage, Alaska.[19] She also helped in her husband’s commercial fishing family business.

Score: -3. Strongly against her


5. Domestic Policy Experience – Let’s look at her career and each job in detail:

  • Sports reporter for KTUU-TV – OK, this obviously gave her no pertinent experience whatsoever.
  • City council of Wasilla – She was elected twice. Overall she did a decent job as she curtailed bar hours by two hours and was concerned with sales tax spending. However, her campaign manager stated Palin said in 1995 that the book Daddy’s Roommate should be removed from the shelves of the local library although she had not read the book.
  • First Term as Mayor of Wasilla – Let’s be serious here. I come from a town in New Jersey of over 20,000 people. No one knows or cares for the mayor. Palin was mayor of a town that had 6,300 people at the end of her second term. Even as mayor, there were some warning signs: (1) although she did not request for any specific books to be banned, she did inquire about the possibility to the city librarian, Mary Emmons. Emmons was against it and was later fired by Palin. Palin had to rescind the firing the next day due to strong public support for Emmons. (2) Her firing of Police Chief Stambaugh led to a lawsuit against Palin. Stambaugh claimed that he was fired because he was against concealed weapons and that Palin said the NRA didn’t like him. The lawsuit was dismissed more on abuse of power than fairness. The judge said the mayor can fire city employees for any reason, including political ones. — However, she did do some amazing things as mayor. She cut property taxes by 75% and eliminated personal property and business inventory taxes. She built new bike paths, funded storm-water treatment in order to protect freshwater resources. She reduced spending by stopping construction on a new library and city hall. She won re-election with 74% of the vote.
  • Second Term as Mayor of Wasilla – During her second term as mayor, Palin introduced a ballot measure proposing the construction of a municipal sports center to be financed by a 0.5% sales tax increase.[46] The $14.7 million Wasilla Multi-Use Sports Complex was built on time and under budget, but the city lost an additional $1.3 million due to an eminent domain lawsuit caused by a failure to obtain legal ownership of the property before beginning construction.[46]She also hired the Anchorage-based lobbying firm of Robertson, Monagle & Eastaugh to lobby for earmarks for Wasilla. The effort was led by Steven Silver, a former chief of staff for Senator Ted Stevens,[47] and it secured nearly $27 million in funds. The earmarks included $500,000 for a youth shelter, $1.9 million for a transportation hub, $900,000 for sewer repairs, and $15 million for a rail project linking Wasilla and the ski resort community of Girdwood.[48] Some of the earmarks were criticized by Senator McCain in 2001 and 2002.[49]


6. Foregin Policy Experience – This is probably her weakest experience. Palin made a well-documented trip to Kuwait and Germany last year to visit U.S. troops, and over time, the governor and her staff have revealed she also visited Canada and Mexico. Meanwhile, her aides clarified that a purported visit to Ireland was little more than a refueling stop during her trip to the Middle East. This is the extent of her international travel! She is 43 years old and made one international trip! She hasn’t even been to Russia, Alaska’s western neighbor. As a matter of fact, she had to get a passport last year just to make her trip to Kuwait. After her nomination, Palin was hunkered down with Republican foreign policy experts to brush her up on foreign policy. This is very frightening that a potential VP has to learn foreign policy on the campaign trail. That means her views will be dictated by those that are teaching her. Most of the people teaching her? Bush related members. This does not bode well for any change in Bush’s foreign policy.

Palin has so far been unwilling to go deep into foreign policy issues; most likely because she doesn’t have the experience to form an opinion yet. Her first opinion was a very recent hawkish comment that she would consider going to war with Russia in order to defend Georgia!!! The fact that she cited the NATO treaty as the reason is naive (Georgia’s not even in NATO yet). The U.S. would be very wise not going to war with Russia, the second most nuclear power in the world, over Georgia.

In the Gibson interview, Palin was very general in her responses to foreign policy questions. She was very vague and Gibson had to emphasize several times that she was not answering the question. She also did not know what the Bush Doctrine was.

(Opinion) I can’t stress how scary and unfathomable this point is. At a time when America’s foreign policy has caused so much animosity from the rest of the world, is a VP with no foreign policy experience at all the right choice? Considering McCain is closely tied to Bush’s foreign policy, this does not mean change at all. I must admit, it is getting tough to be unbiased. I haven’t even written half of my assessment yet, and so far it’s been all negatives. I need to look up positives of her.

Score: -3. Strongly against her


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