Friday, November 16, 2007

Debate Thoughts, And Other Stray Ruminations

First, a couple of random thoughts:

- I'm on the consumer product recall e-mail list - with a kid on the way you can't be too careful... okay, yes you can, but you know what I mean - I just got a recall notice for a set of birch bark-wrapped candles. Predictably, the birch bark was catching fire. Which makes me wonder: who the hell thought this would be a good idea? Couldn't anyone with half a brain see this problem coming? Why did no one at this company catch this slight design flaw before the candles were produced? And what consumer in their right mind buys a candle wrapped in an obviously flammable substance?


- Speaking of stupid ideas, here's a doozy that was recently dropped by the LAPD. They apparently thought it would be a good idea to "map" the Muslim community in Los Angeles - that is, use census data to find out where in the city the Muslims were living. The LAPD said the effort was for somewhat admirable ends - extending social services to potentially isolated parts of the community in order to bring all Angelenos into the fabric of the city. But - and this is key - they also called it an anti-terrorism strategy.

It appears that the LAPD was surprised to see that news of this program caused a backlash in the Muslim community. Really? Did they expect to launch a program compiling all the Muslims' addresses and keep an eye on their activities, then have the Muslims be cool with it? "Sure, go ahead, you can keep tabs on us like we're all a bunch of criminals, we don't mind," was apparently the response they were expecting. And I guess they thought that civil liberties advocates (like me) would say that this was a wonderful idea that respected everyone's privacy and freedom of religion. If so, the LAPD is dumber than I thought. Not only did they even entertain this cruel and stupid idea, but they had no PR strategy to deal with the imminent backlash. I don't know which is dumber.

- The Dems debated again tonight on CNN. Blitzer's a slightly better moderator than the clueless sledgehammer Russert, but he still tries to play "gotcha" too much. Worse, he has a habit of asking counterfactual questions or forcing people into false dichotomies. Sen. Dodd calling him on the false dichotomy between security and human rights was tied for the best moment of the debate with Sen. Biden's hilarious whining after the Big Three were allowed to snipe at each other for the first twenty minutes. Blitzer also doesn't seem to understand that driver's licenses for immigrants is a STATE issue. The federal government doesn't issue drivers' licenses. After the first twenty minutes, though, the two questioners came up with some pretty good questions. The merit-pay issue was a great one to bring up, and Yucca Mountain has oodles of local appeal for the Vegas crowd.

Anyway, I thought Biden, Gov. Richardson, and Dodd had the most interesting things to say. Kudos to Richardson for being the lone candidate to have the metaphorical cojones to say that human rights was more important than security, as well as being the lone candidate with anything intelligent to say about immigration. Oh, and thanks for supporting veterans' health care and bringing up mental health. Dodd's comment about school-based merit pay was probably the most significant contribution to the national debate on any issue that anyone had. But Dodd lost points by trying to hamhandedly defend Musharraf by saying that democracy in Pakistan might lead to a jihadist regime. (Earth to Dodd - Pakistan's radical Islamists have roughly the same approval rating as Ehud Olmert in Israel right now.) And Biden's rant about enforcing the existing trade agreement with China was a good point that no one else had the knowledge to make, and he made good points on pretty much every other issue.

Of the Big Three, Sen. Obama did best, actually revealing policy stances and occasionally making interesting points. This was the first time I've ever listened to Obama and said, "you know, he might know what he's talking about." Sen. Clinton didn't stand out, really, but she continued to display good knowledge about the issues. Her willingness to support security over human rights really hurt her in my book (though sadly not in the minds of most Americans). Sen. Edwards had exactly one thing to say: "the system sucks, the rest of y'all suck, and I don't."

And Kucinich was Kucinich. I can think of nothing more to say.

Anyway, here's my revised list:

1. Richardson
T-2. Clinton
T-2. Biden
4. Dodd
5. Obama
6. Edwards
T-7. Kucinich
T-7. Gravel (who seems to have fallen off the face of the earth)

If I were to put the Repubs in there, I'd probably fit Romney and Paul (in that order) between Edwards and Kucinich and the rest below Elf-Man and Grav-EL. Their list looks like this now:

1. Romney
2. Paul
3. McCain
4. Huckabee
5. Thompson
6. Rudolph the Red-Faced Mayor
7. Hunter
8. Keyes
9. Tancredo

VoteMatch gives me the following results from their really vague quiz:

1. Gravel (?!?!?)
2. Kucinich (?!?!?)
3. Biden
4. Clinton
5. Obama
6. Dodd
7. Paul
T-8. Edwards
T-8. Richardson
10. Rudolph the Red-Faced Mayor
11. Romney
12. Huckabee
13. McCain
14. Tancredo
15. Hunter

No Keyes, but he'd probably be in the Tancredo-Hunter range.


Mike said...

My top 2 are Barack Obama and Ron Paul (tied at the top with a whopping 55%). I'm not sure how to interpret that, other than it's fairly accurate to my current standing (though Biden and possibly Richardson are probably ahead of Obama on the Dems side).

ryanshaunkelly said...

Colbert gravel kucinich paul nader perot carter [conyers?rangel?] united for truth elicit fear smear blacklist.

The people know too much,
democracy rising democracy now.
Rage against the machine.

Honesty compassion intelligence guts.

No more extortion blackmail bribery division.
Divided we fall.