Posts filed under ‘Politics’

Obama, patriotism and the great American barbecue

Obama has had a hard time with the perception people have about his patriotism, or lack thereof. Whether it is true or not that he is less patriotic than anyone feels he should be isn’t the subject of the post but his actions concerning his use of the flag do bring up some related questions.
Should people wear the flag on their clothes? Now I’m not talking about law enforcement, emergency medical workers, firefighters or someone in the armed services wearing an arm patch or people wearing flag lapel pins but shirts that have the flag as a part of the pattern of the cloth.
Frankly, I’m not for it. The shirts can become dirty or ripped and pants definitely shouldn’t have a flag printed on them. I just don’t think it shows the proper respect for the flag to wear it like that. It’s one thing if the flag is worn on clothes as part of a uniform and quite another if it is incorporated into and becomes a part of the clothes.
As far as I’m concerned there is no question about having the flag printed on napkins, cups, paper plates and other food containers – it shouldn’t be done. I know that on every Fourth of July there are millions of Americans out there eating baked beans and potato salad off of plates with a flag printed on them but I think it is wrong and the U.S. Flag code specifically says it shouldn’t be done.
I know the code isn’t an actual law but those guilty of violating it are the very people you would think would follow the code whether it was law or not. Aren’t they attempting to show by the use of the flag how they revere it? Doesn’t using the flag in such a manner show disrespect for it?
I remember seeing the story of George M. Cohan with the incomparable James Cagney. In one scene, I believe that it was around the turn of the century (19th to 20th), an actress he is attempting to get to star in one of his plays says she doesn’t go in for gaudy displays of flag-waving, or words to that effect. I agree, flag waving should never be gaudy.
September 10, 2001 I was working at Digital Lighthouse in Fort Scott, Kansas, which was a call center for Sony products. I worked in a big room that held about 200 employees. We all worked at octagonal pods, each of the eight workspaces narrowing toward the center. That day there were exactly four American flags in that room and I had provided all of them. I put one on each side of my workspace and gave the other two to friends of mine, Dave and Will Bishop, father and son, and they put them up at their workspaces.
After the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon flags sprouted up like mushrooms in that room. I heard some people talking about it and saying pretty much the same thing that the actress in Yankee Doodle Dandy said. I heard people on television talking about people who started hanging flags on their houses and how they were hypocrites for not having done so before.
I disagree. People show their patriotism in many ways and sometimes, in the daily grind of life, people don’t show a lot of enthusiasm for anything, even patriotism. It doesn’t mean they aren’t patriotic, it just means that displaying that patriotism outwardly isn’t a priority. An attack like September 11 can change priorities, it doesn’t mean a person is a hypocrite if they decide to start showing a flag afterwards.
A flag is flying from the front of my house as I type these words. It really wouldn’t matter if there weren’t one, my patriotism doesn’t depend on having the symbol of my country attached to my house. What matters is what is in my heart and I’ll let God be the judge of that, and no one else.

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August 14, 2008 at 11:18 pm 1 comment

How to scare the bejeebers out of an Obama supporter

The publisher of our paper set up an appointment with an Obama supporter who had called her at home. The time for the appointment came and the publisher walked into the newsroom with the supporter, introduced herself as the publisher and me as a reporter. We all sat down and I got out a digital voice recorder and turned it on.
We talked for a few minutes and she told us a little of her story and why she was an Obama supporter.  She was a college student from Nebraska who came down to Missouri to organize some campaign offices in Vernon and surrounding counties.
She said her mother was a single mother and while she was growing up things were good because Bill Clinton was in the White House and he took care of people. She said things were different now, she was away from home and that when George Bush came into power he cut welfare and caused her mother to have more difficulty raising her younger sister, who was still at home.
After about 10 minutes the publisher asked why Obama didn’t support community newspapers by advertising in them. Apparently this triggered something because the girl became very upset and said that she couldn’t comment on the record about anything and didn’t realize when she came in that we would record her and she said we would have to talk with a representative of his media team.
She said she didn’t have the name of the person we needed to talk to on her but she could get it out of her car. She buzzed out of the office and the publisher and I sat there for a couple of minutes and both of us wondered aloud whether she would be back. Some of my co-workers came in and asked what that was all about. They could see her in the parking lot talking on her cell phone. She eventually came back in with a number and gave it to the publisher, then left.
Now I’m not going to vote for Obama, but I wasn’t sending off any negative vibes or anything. I was hoping to do a story on the girl anyway, not Obama. It would make a nice human interest story and when it comes to something like that it’s easy to be objective and do it without becoming personally invested in the story.
Thinking it over I’m convinced she didn’t think about it as a newspaper but as an opportunity to talk with a Democratic supporter (the publisher had worked on (Democrat) Bob Holden’s unsuccessful attempt for Missouri Attorney General several years ago) and she got the publisher’s name from a list of past Democratic campaign workers.
I really felt sorry for that girl, but honestly, there I was with a recorder in my mitt the entire time, what did she think I was recording the conversation for?
I wish she would come back, I’d still like to do that story, it’s the kind that little old ladies like. They come up to me on the street and go on and on about some of the ones I’ve written in the past. It sure beats getting yelled at because you wrote about someone’s brother/sister/father/mother/uncle/aunt, etc. etc. etc. getting caught doing something illegal. All in all I much prefer the human interest stories, I’m no Woodward or Bernstein.

August 12, 2008 at 9:57 pm 4 comments

Paris ad hilarious

Paris Hilton appeared in an ad, posted on FunnyorDie.com, that spoofs a recent McCain ad that I liked. If more politicians could laugh at themselves like McCain did after seeing this then I wouldn’t dread the elections as much as I do.

[Update. I can’t seem to embed the video for some reason. Heres a link.]
Starring Paris Hilton, Written by Adam McKay, Produced by Chris Henchy, Directed by Jake Szymanski.

August 9, 2008 at 3:02 pm 10 comments

ANWR Oils Well That Ends Well

The opponents of opening up ANWR to drilling love to quote a study by the Energy Information Administration, or EIA, but they never, and I mean never, quote the part that gives it some context. Yes the study did say opening ANWR to drilling would likely have little impact on world oil prices, perhaps reducing the price by 30 to 50 cents a barrel but they stop there. They don’t quote the other part of the statement “if prices were in the $27-a-barrel range.” (Emphasis mine)

The Catholics in my family would probably call that a sin of omission – I call it outright lying. Prices aren’t in the $27-a-barrel range are they? They are above $120 a barrel as of this writing. Opening up ANWR would have an immediate impact on prices even if it will be a few years before oil starts flowing.

Joel Alicea, a junior at Princeton University, is from El Paso, Texas posted on National Review Online about a study, The Effect of Opening Up ANWR to Drilling on the Current Price of Oil, [Update, now the link is showing a not found error. I’ll look for another link.] [Update the second – it’s working again] showing opening ANWR would reduce the price of oil now which didn’t get published. The reason wasn’t that it was in error, it was that economists had known about the effect for decades, at least.

“Although the referees, and I, are in agreement with your basic argument, I regret to say
that we will not be able to publish this work. Basically, your main result (the present
impact of an anticipated future supply change) is already known to economists (although
perhaps not to the Democratic Policy Committee). If Hotelling didn’t exactly spell this
out in his original article, certainly Herfindahl and others had done so by the 1960s. It is
our policy to publish only original research that adds significantly to the body of received
knowledge regarding energy markets and policy.”

Here’s a link to the rejection letter. PDF download here

Another sleight-of-tongue trick opponents use is to say that the amount of oil coming out of ANWR would be negligible. Suddenly they start talking about world production and how little ANWR would add to that. What they don’t do is simple addition. If you add the oil we can get from ANWR to the oil we can get from opening up the off-shore fields to the oil we can get from Colorado oil shale the numbers add up quickly.

Let’s not let some enviro-nuts drive public policy. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t believe in conservation, the question is always at what cost and how can we mitigate the effects of action or inaction. Right now the cost of doing nothing is astronmical.

August 8, 2008 at 3:19 am Leave a comment

Obama overload

A new poll came out today – OK, so about a kazillion polls come out everyday, big whoop – that shows people are saying they are hearing too much about Obama story here. Pew Research did a poll concerning how each candidate’s coverage is viewed and large numbers of both Republicans and Democrats agree – Obama is getting more coverage. Poll summary here Poll detail (pdf download) here.

Fatigue is setting in. It isn’t anything new, people have been saying our political campaigns are too drawn out for decades. The thing that is different now is that with the Internet people can go out and find information on their own and don’t need big news organizations spoon feeding them scraps of information. Fatigue may well lead to the public ignoring big media and concentrating more on the media that links to needed information instead of trying to be the source of information.

Fatigue is also one reason why the vote is depressed some times. By the time election day comes around people just want for it to end. I don’t blame them, I want it to end too. Personally I’d like to see all states hold presidential primaries on the same day in August and limit primary campaigns to January through August and general election campaigns from August to November. That’s nine months. If that isn’t long enough – too bad, so sad. Frankly I don’t want to hear about the next elections before the results from the current election are still being tallied.

August 6, 2008 at 4:14 pm Leave a comment

McDonald’s – home of unicorns and rainbows?

I took a picture for work of a building going up. Nothing special, just one of hundreds of pictures I’ve taken over the years at construction sites letting people know what’s going on around town. I never guessed when I snapped the picture it would generate so much controversy on our paper’s Web site. It was just a picture of a new McDonald’s going in where one had been for at least the last 25 or 30 years.

Micky Ds construction

Micky D's construction

Story here

However some people took it on themselves to start commenting on McDonald’s corporate policies and others started calling them names. It escalated to the point where people were telling each other to “Shut the Hell up!” – literally, which is why I used the quotes.

The local McDonald’s is owned locally. The owner has absolutely no control over McDonald’s corporate policy. His business, which he and his family have built up over the years is being threatened by this.

I don’t like the new policy the corporation has put in place, or what I understand the new policy is, but I don’t think it is something that deserves such vehement condemnation and actions as have been advocated.
The term collateral damage refers to what happens in war when military action results in civilian casualties and I think it is appropriate to use it here. The collateral damage could be the loss of a business. A business that isn’t harming anyone or isn’t involved in the actions that have brought the condemnation. Sure, be upset at the McDonald’s corporation but don’t let your actions hurt anyone else.

I happen to think that homosexuals deserve the same respect as anyone else. They deserve the right to have the same service in the same manner as anyone else. I just don’t think they deserve to be classified as a protected class of people. If someone assaults me because I’m a Missourian or because I’m white or because I drive a big car, it is just as much a hate crime as if they assaulted someone because he’s homosexual. Equal treatment under the law. That’s an American tradition and that’s what every American deserves.

If we do something else besides equal treatment we stray from what the founders were trying to accomplish with this nation. It was wrong to treat blacks and other minorities in the shameful way they were treated in the past. It would be just as wrong to go overboard the other direction.

What about those minorities that have successfully integrated into the American culture? Asians come to mind. No one seems to push for any affirmative action programs to get more Asians into college. They are as much a minority as Hispanics or blacks why should they not get equal treatment?

The answer is simple. Everyone deserves the same amount of respect as everyone else and not one iota more. We are all human with human failings and to say that this group or that group deserves special treatment is wrong, whether the treatment is positive or negative.

August 5, 2008 at 11:53 pm 2 comments

Drill here, drill now – pay less

There’s a lot of nonsense out there about how it would take 10 years to reduce oil prices by increasing drilling because it would take that long to get anything out of the ground. I don’t know where the bozos who say that came up with that figure but it’s a big load of guano and the proof is less than 10 miles from my house. MegaWest Energy is producing oil from wells on ground that did not make sense to even look at until oil prices rose above $70 a barrel. It didn’t take 10 years for them to produce oil and they had to build a humungous steam boiler to pump steam into the ground to thin the oil so they could pump it out. I did a story on it:here.

I also find it strange that these people whine about drilling in ANWR. People who complain about it have absolutely no concept of the scale of the land up there. The drilling area, 2,000 acres, is so small that it would be lost in a state the size of Missouri, never mind Alaska. I did a photo illustration to point out the relative size of Alaska, ANWR and the proposed drilling area. If you’re wondering where the drilling area is on the illustration, it is the dot between the 3 and the 1.


It’s time we got serious about this and started holding some politicians feet to the fire. Once oil prices start falling they can go back to politics as usual, until then – if they won’t vote to let the oil companies drill, vote them out of office.

August 5, 2008 at 2:16 am Leave a comment

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