Monthly Archives: September 2012

Thoughts On Affirmative Action And Social Policy

I’m watching the Sunday morning shows just now, something I never do.  It’s either church, football or some other activity going on right about now.  But today the kids are out having lunch with mom and I’m home alone.

I watching MSNBC and the table is talking about the Massachusetts race for senator; specifically the element of race.  Elizabeth Warren received advantages due to the fact that she is one thirty-second Cherokee.  It would seem that by identifying herself in this way she was able to help her early career.

Anyway, the conversation shifted to affirmative action and social policy in general.

Why Affirmative Action

I went to a pretty good source for an answer to this question:

The Racial Justice Program actively supports affirmative action to secure racial diversity in educational settings, workplaces and government contracts, to remedy continuing systemic discrimination against people of color, and to help ensure equal opportunities for all people. As part of this commitment, we are working to defend affirmative action in states that are threatened for a civil rights rollback.

Pretty clear and straight forward.

  • Secure racial diversity in educational settings, workplaces and government contracts.
  • Secure racial diversity in educational settings, workplaces and government contracts.
  • Help ensure equal opportunities for all people.

Three simple goals, easy to understand and noble in its intention.

Is Affirmative Action The Right Approach

Even as we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation we have to acknowledge that there is work to do; hard important work.  We have the opportunity to improve the relations between the races here in America.  However, we have to take time to consider that in just 150 years, really, borrowing an allusion from Louis C. k., that’s really the lives of two old people back to back.  We have to acknowledge that we’ve come a very long way.

The reason I mention this preamble is because we have to acknowledge that there are still unenlightened idiots out there who want to continue to discriminate based on race.  We’re not talking about that very small and insignificant minority.  Here I’m talking about the mainstream reasonable individual.  And of THAT population I find no one, not one single person, who feels that any individual should be denied opportunity based on race.

But is that the goal of Affirmative Action?

I don’t think so.  I think that Affirmative Action is a “results based” program and not a “build the base” program.  Think of it this way, I want my kids to excel in school, I want them to hit the honor roll and bring home report card after report card with A’s.  I probably can accomplish this in two ways:

  1. I can enforce strict expectations regarding achievement and insist on homework and study.
  2. I can use my influence with teachers, staff and administration to ensure that substandard grades are changed to more desirable ones.

Both paths result in my goal; Straight A’s.  However, the goal isn’t really straight A’s.  The goal is mastery of the subject such that positive life goals can be reasonably accomplished.  I want my kids to learn to earn those A’s.  Simply giving ’em to them doesn’t accomplish anything; in fact, it may prove to be counter-productive.

This is my beef with Affirmative Action.  The programs put in place often result in “inappropriate  promotion” not based on the merit but on the basis of race.  In the same way that I don’t want to see an unqualified white protestant middles-class male given preference over a more qualified candidate who may be a minority, neither do I want to see a member of a protected class given preference over that same WASP.

I want the gateway to be one of merit without bias of class, of race, of sex or of religion.

In short, we want the ELIMINATION of advancement based on those elements.  We do not want to extend discrimination simply by changing the group of people we discriminate against.

On other words, the goal of any “Affirmative Action” would be to reduce the number of qualified minorities being denied advancement.  It would NOT be to increase the number of unqualified minorities being advanced.

This seems so self apparent as to be bedrock philosophy and disagreement indicates an inherent racial bias.

How Accurate Are The Polls

Crunch time is right around the corner.  Soon September will give way to October and then it’s only one month until the election.  I don’t think we can call it over, but the polls are certainly pointing to the end of the horse race.

Are The Polls Correct

This, of course, is the $20,000 question.  With all of the polling coming in right now the question that’s burning up the inter-tubes is this:

Are the polls telling the right story or are they just pulling for Obama?

I tend to believe two things:

  1. Journalists are, by nature, liberal.
  2. We all allow bias into our belief systems.
  3. There is no grand conspiracy.

Okay, so that’s three, but still.  I do think that people who conduct polls are human, that as humans they are subject to their tribalism and yet still they try to remain objective.  I simply don’t believe that these pollsters are in cahoots with one another in order to bring about an Obama 2nd term.

Is Rasmussen Right

Of all the major polling outfits, only Rasmussen has Romney ahead or even close.  Every other poll is showing Obama up slightly or even by 7.  So, is Rasmussen overly partisan or do they have a secret?

I thought I’d check out how close they were last year:

A professor at Fordham University went back and checked.  Of the 23 polls conducted only two were wight on the money; Pew and – you guessed it – Rasmussen.  Whatever those folks are doing over there, agree or not, they did a heck of a job last time around.

And even more than that, the 3 polls that over estimated the republican ticket were still in the top 7.

Instead of arguing that Rasmussen is too far off on the Romney side I’d make the argument that the other polls are further off on the Obama side.

Revisiting The 47 Percent

I’ve been away for awhile.  Life has been busy and I thought it was a good time to step away from the files of the Tarheel.  However, during that time I have been paying attention and it’s hard to ignore the fact that since the conventions, the terror attacks in Libya and Romney’s comments regarding the 47%, Obama has been surging in the polls.  And I’ve thought about Romney’s comments.

Why The Negative Reaction

I listened to the words Romney used that night at his fundraiser.  And I remember I cringed.  I was disappointed that Romney had been taped like this and his views “revealed.”  And as I watched the reaction on the news and in the media, my fears were confirmed – disaster.

Since then I’ve thought about it.  And I’ve come to this conclusion:

Romney was RIGHT!

There are, absolutely positively ARE, people who make a living identifying the handouts and the give-aways provided by the government and will vote to keep those benefits coming.  Some of these folks, to be sure, are aware that this is a gravy train and are just going to ride it for as long as they can.  And then there are others that really, honestly feel that they are entitled to these benefits from their government.  They feel that they are entitled to food and to a home and to clothing and to medical care.  That by simply breathing, these things are owed to them.

And these people will vote for Obama.

The reason for this reaction from the left?  Because it’s TRUE!

Who Isn’t The 47 Percent

Romney isn’t stupid.  And his number is correct; 47% of America doesn’t pay a federal income tax.  And further, if asked, he would know and admit that of that 47% some folks are retired seniors living on social security.  Some are veterans who’ve served their country.  Of course he knew that.  And of course he knows that he isn’t referring to that demographic.

When you hear a conservative remark with disdain that group of people who don’t pay taxes and live off the government, the image isn’t one of a tired old warrior resting after years of service.  Nor is it one of grandma rocking to the tunes of the Grand ol Opre while knitting her most recent baby blanket.

No, the image is that of the individual who claims unemployment while not looking for a job.  The image of that person is one of the single mother with more than 3 kids, never having been married and not even looking to make life for her family better.  The image is that of the moocher.

Romney isn’t talking about the soldier or grandma.

And he’s right.  The folks he’s invoking are going to vote for Obama.

Who Is Left

Romney isn’t admitting anything controversial.  There isn’t a single person that’s going to disagree with the fact that the chronic dependent of government isn’t going to vote for more government.  So, who is Romney going after?  He’s going after the middle.  The independent voter who isn’t trapped by the siren song of the check and is capable of thoughtful independent decision making.

He’s going after that 10% in the middle.  He’s acknowledging that he’s got 45 in the bag for him, he’s got 45% against him and he needs to resonate with those not yet committed.  And for whatever reason, people think that because Romney said this in a private meeting with large dollar donors that this is somehow a sin.

What Should Romney Do Now

Sing it from every rooftop and street corner that’ll have him.  Romney needs to create an image of a strong candidate that has the conviction of his beliefs.  Make the left challenge him, make the democrats attack his position.  And then hammer ’em.  We DO have a moocher class.  We KNOW they’ll vote for anyone who enables their life.  And any reasonable person wants to REDUCE the number of that population.

I’ll have that debate any day.  Let someone tell me that we wanna increase those on food stamps and I’ll call ’em a fool.  We wanna increase the number of folks receiving Section 8?  I’ll take them to task for creating a dependency lifestyle without creating an incentive to strive for a life of dignity where an individual is capable of caring for themselves.

Bring me the democrat that makes the argument we want more people receiving these entitlements and I’ll show you a winning argument.

Sing it Romney; Sing it to everyone who’ll hear ya!

Dewey Defeats Truman: Obama Style

In 1948 the Chicago Tribune printed a headline announcing that Dewey had defeated Truman.  History shows, of course, that Truman was victorious.  I resonate with this feeling as we enter the final stretches of the 2012 election.  And to rely even more on historical anecdote, I’ll cal upon the old Nixon rag, “I can’t believe he won.  No one I know voted for him.”

This is where I find myself now.  I’m surrounded by everyone that thinks Obama will win.   But I know only a few people who will vote for him.

Will Obama Win The Election

Everyone I know feels that Obama is going to win the election this fall.  This includes the folks I talk to that are Obama supporters as well as those who are Romney supporters.  Obama is going to win.


Very few people I know are going to vote for Obama.  And this includes a significant number of people who voted for the President last election.

Who Will Win The States

Obviously the election will come down to individual states and who will win the electoral votes.  And that’s where it gets interesting.  National polls showing such and such ahead are fun but in the end, not very useful.  A more accurate view of who is going to win comes down to who wins each state.

And it i s possible to predict who wins each state:

A University of Colorado analysis of state-by-state factors leading to the Electoral College selection of every U.S. president since 1980 forecasts that the 2012 winner will be Mitt Romney.

The key is the economy, say political science professors Kenneth Bickers of CU-Boulder and Michael Berry of CU Denver. Their prediction model stresses economic data from the 50 states and the District of Columbia, including both state and national unemployment figures as well as changes in real per capita income, among other factors.

“Based on our forecasting model, it becomes clear that the president is in electoral trouble,” said Bickers, also director of the CU in DC Internship Program.

Based on the individual state economies, Obama loses to Romney.  Obama isn’t able to overcome the unemployment levels that have dominated the experience of voters in states all over the nation.

Will Obama win?  I continue to think so.  However, “no one I know is going to vote for him.”


Mitt Romney And The 47%

I’ve listened to the Mother Jones video several times now – I just listened to it again –  and I don’t hear a controversy.  I don’t hear anything inflammatory.  I don’t hear one word said in malice or with the intent to hurt anyone.  And I certainly don’t hear anything not true.

Nearly Half of Americans Don’t Pay Federal Income Tax

In the Mother Jones video Romney makes the claim that 47% of Americans don’t pay a federal income tax.  He’s right, or at least he was right when he made the claim.  In 2011 that number was only 46%, but in 2010 the percentage of Americans not paying the tax was 47%.  Just like Romney said.

According to the CBO, in aggregate, the poorest 60% of us don’t pay a federal income tax.  Worse, the top quintile, the wealthiest 20%, pay more than 94% of federal incomes taxes according to the most recent numbers in 2009.

Ninety Four Percent!

Continue reading

Thoughts On The NFL

If you could know that would die at age 76, would you play NFL football, earn $20 million, and know that you would instead die at age 66?

You MIght Be A Libertarian If…

I was shuttling “Young Master Sensei” around today from karate to YMCA soccer to lunch to the bookstore and everywhere in between.  While acting as the donkey I had a thought:

What does it mean to be Libertarian?

Here goes.

If you believe in Jesus and don’t think that we should legislate “not taking the Lord’s name in vain”, you might be a Libertarian!

Embassy Attack Timelines

As we all know, Romney criticized the Obama administration on it’s handling of the events surrounding the attack on American embassies in Cairo and in Libya.  Chief among those critiques was Romney’s statement taking Obama to task for his administration’s “apology” to the perpetrators of those attacks.

I’ve already “awarded points” to those defending Obama by going after Romney on two parts:

  1. In failing to admit that he had the timeline wrong that evening.
  2. Continuing to label the Cairo statements as an apology.

However, I have been strong in my defense of Romney issuing his statement because I felt that everyone was in the dark surrounding the timing of those statements.

I’m here to tell you that I was wrong.

Foreign Policy is reporting that an embassy employee sent an e-mail to the State Department in Washington to clear the statement:

Before issuing the press release, Schwartz cleared it with just one person senior to himself, Deputy Chief of Mission Marc Sievers, who was the charge d’affaires at the embassy on Tuesday because Ambassador Anne Patterson was in Washington at the time, the official said.

Schwartz sent the statement to the State Department in Washington before publishing and the State Department directed him not to post it without changes, but Schwartz posted it anyway.

Clearly this shows that the Obama administration was not operating under what I have been referring to as “the fog of war.”

With this clarification I can no longer claim that an complete sense of confusion was being experienced by everyone.  It is safe to say that only the Romney team was unclear as to the timing of the release and was, perhaps, relying on the Twitter feed from the Cairo embassy.

This leads me to add an additional critique to Romney’s team; get the facts right.


“The Nation” – My Effort To Expand My Horizons

For a very long time I received my news exclusively from CNN.  I used to watch Aaron Brown every night.  However, I lost interest in Anderson Cooper almost right away and Lou Dobbs sealed the deal; I was gone.  As the campaigns for President geared up in the spring of 2007 [remember, Obama announced in February of that year] I began to listen to some talk radio with my initial fix being Alan Colmes.  I was hooked.

Since then I’ gravitated to Fox News.  Not so much because of how the reported the news but because of what news they reported.  I’ve never felt that the actual content of the stories they cover was skewed, rather, the stories themselves trended right.

Then I started blogging and needed to rely on sources not just Fox.  I now read Reuters, NPR, The NY Times, The Hill, The Wall Street Journal and MSNBC.  As I continue this hobby, I wanna start reading more liberal main stream “media” types and so have found myself hitting Slate, TPM, The Nation, Salon and Mother Jones.  Now I know what the left must feel like when they read what they consider conservative sites.

Just consider this article from The Nation:

The idea of Mitt Romney in the White House is a scary, scary thought after his bungling of the Libya crisis, and the Stormin’ Mormon just keeps making it scarier—including putting out Liz Cheney as spokeswoman for his anti-Muslim bigotry.

I get that this is a liberal outfit, but really?  Stormin’ Mormon?  But it continues:

So far, not a word from Romney about radical right Christian anti-Muslim bigots, including: Florida’s Terry Jones, the nutball, Koran-burning preacher who promoted the film; various extremist, Egyptian Copts; Steve Klein of California; and the mystery man who supposedly made the film.

So, I think there should be a message from Romney about the film and the folks that created it.  But I find it wonderfully ironic that Robert Dreyfuss is asking Romney to call out “radical right Christian anti-Muslim bigots” even going so far as to label them nutballs and extremists.  I think that if we wanna ask people to stoop calling people names, we should start by not calling those people names.  And not for nothing, but making a crummy YouTube movie is hardly considered “extremist” when compared to the extremists who protest and breach embassies, burn flags and kill people.  In fact, some liberals might even find making movies wonderfully “artsy.”

Moving on, Dreyfuss critiques Romney by saying:

To recap: after the Libya attack, which killed four American diplomats, Romney found himself compelled to attack President Obama for supposedly expressing sympathy for the terrorists. His statement:

“I’m outraged by the attacks on American diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt and by the death of an American consulate worker in Benghazi. It’s disgraceful that the Obama Administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.”

So, what Dreyfuss is saying is that Romney is wrong to criticize the response from the Cairo embassy.  After all, that is the origination of the statement in question.  And in retrospect, that statement is NOT sympathizing but rather acting as a calming note.  But it’s important to remember two things:

  1. Obama criticized the EXACT SAME STATEMENT and he did it 30 minutes before Romney issued his release.
  2. Everyone, so it seems, was acting as if Cairo released that statement AFTER the attacks, not before.

Not a word from Dreyfuss.

Last I’ll leave you with a case study in tolerance from the gentle left when engaging in discussion with those in whom you may disagree:

Liz Cheney, satanic offspring of the ex-VP, was trotted out by the Romney campaign for her Wall Street Journal screed, which said in part:

Nothing like being lectured by the tolerant left.

Mitt Romney And The American Response To The Embassy Attacks


Like it or not, the campaign season is a time for candidates to differentiate themselves from their opponent.  Further, each candidate who is not the incumbent – in this case Romney – is going to posture himself as Presidential.  It might seem that each candidate is in a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” position.

Mitt Romney Responds To Obama Administration

Mitt Romney’s Response To The Obama Administration

On Tuesday, September 11, two separate American embassies were attacked resulting in the deaths of 4 American’s including the American Ambassador to Libya.  Mitt Romney, attempting to demonstrate a difference between himself and Obama, used the developing situation as a foil.

At around 10:00 PM EDT Romney issues a statement:

I’m outraged by the attacks on American diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt and by the death of an American consulate worker in Benghazi.  It’s disgraceful that the Obama Administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.

The response that Romney was referring to?

The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims – as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions. Today, the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, Americans are honoring our patriots and those who serve our nation as the fitting response to the enemies of democracy. Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others

Was Romney right?  Is this response appropriate or not?

The answer – It depends.

The Embassy Attack Timeline

It all depends on the timeline of events.  For example, I was off-line most of yesterday afternoon and only this morning woke up to the news of the attack.  Upon hearing of the Egyptian embassy release I had two thoughts:

  1. When protestors are attacking your location, you don’t issue statements that legitimatize those attacking you.
  2. Knowing that protestors had already murdered 4 embassy staff in Libya, the Egyptian staff may simply have been acting to save their lives.

Only later did I investigate the timeline and discovered that .  And it looks something like this:

  • 06:17 – The Cairo embassy issues their statement.
  • 10:00 – Crowds begin to form at the Cairo embassy.
  • 14:47 – Protesters in Cairo tear down the U.S. flag.
  • 14:00 – Crowds began to gather at Libyan embassy.
  • 18:00 – Protestors in Libya storm the embassy.
  • 19:17 – Reports of an American consulate staff shot dead.
  • 20:00 – Cairo embassy staff Tweets affirmation of morning’s statement.
  • 22:00 – Obama administration disavows Cairo statement.
  • 22:30 – Romney issues statement.

It’s clear that there is confusion surrounding the events of the situation in Egypt and that such confusion colored the context of the Cairo statement.  For example, if we believe that the embassy in Cairo released their statement long before the attack on the embassy, their message is better phrased.  However, if their statement is released AFTER the attacks on the Cairo embassy, their statements are grossly irresponsible.

And I think both Romney and Obama were confused by the timing of the statement.

The Politics of Cairo and Libya Attacks

It’s no secret that Romney has little if any foreign relations experience.  Obama is going to, he has to, use this in his critique of the governor.  However, most candidates for the office of President have that exact same knock against them.  This would include our sitting President Barack Obama when he was a contender just 4 years ago.  That being said, Romney is anxious to demonstrate that he has a firm grasp on matters foreign.  Enter the Mideastern violence.

To further complicate matters, Romney and Obama are not only working to manage the chaotic real time events overseas, but they are also keeping an eye on the “campaign ball.”  I feel that had both Romney and Obama been less concerned with that campaign and more concerned with providing leadership, remaining calm in a very charged circumstance and gathered all facts, neither the administration or the Romney camp issued their remarks. See, at 11:00 PM, the Obama administration distanced itself from the Cairo embassy remarks.  In fact, they mentioned that they do not represent the United States.   Here, Obama is making the same mistake Romney makes; they are confused by the timing of the statement.  Seen in the calm of day, the statement issued by Cairo are completely appropriate.  Further, adding that the statements don’t reflect the United States government only adds to the confusion coming from the United States.  If an embassy doesn’t represent the government, what is its role?

When the administration issued it’s statement on Cairo at 11:00 pm, I suspect that Romney felt more confident that the Cairo statement was issued AFTER the violence and not many hours before.  This mistake, now seen to be true, leads to his remarks that the administration is, in essence, apologizing.  I feel relatively confident that Romney was acting on facts as he thought they were and not twisting the timeline to his political favor.  However, the light of day indeed showed his statements to be inaccurate.

Mitt Romney Remarks on Libya and Cairo

Notice Romney standing before a blue background framed by the American flags.  Clearly an attempt to appear Presidential.  Romney takes the tone of the gentle leader.  He’s reporting to America and is trying to show he’s present and managing the situation.

He speaks to the following:

  1. Issues condolences
  2. Issues statement on American’s stance on values
  3. Critiques the Obama administration on the handling of the events
  4. Embraces the Arab Spring and the potential it has
  5. Takes questions

My thoughts on his statements:

  1. He completes the reassuring leader role very well.
  2. At 3:25 he’s asked a question surrounding his statement from the night before.  I think he knows the facts now but doesn’t own up to the fact.  This is where he’s clearly weak and wrong.
  3. He doubles down on the mistake by referring to Cairo’s statement as an apology.
  4. When pushed further on this point, Romney acknowledges that the administration had the exact same reaction that he did.  In this, he’s right.  Both Obama and Romney were confused at the timing of Cairo’s statements and Tweets.
  5. At 4:50 Romney is pushed to explain that if both he and Obama took the exact same reaction, what did the White House do wrong.  Here is where Romney gathers steam.  He’s right when he claims that Cairo is part of Obama’s administration.  He’s right to say that a leader has to take responsibility for his administration.  It’s in this understand of “how things work” that Obama’s critic are correct in leveling the claim that Obama has no leadership experience.  That this is apparent to a 2nd level manager and not to the President of the United States is frightening.
  6. Again he mentions apology.  He slips and is weak by doing that.
  7. When asked if it’s appropriate to engage in politics when the events are ongoing.  His answer is powerful.
  8. He correctly brushes off the trap of hypothetical nonsense.
  9. He’s asked to define his foreign policy.  And does so very well.  The first “branch” as he calls it is to have “Confidence in our cause.”  I think that he hits a home run with this one.  Obama’s critics, e among them, distrust the President greatly.  We don’t believe that Obama appreciates the things that makes America great.  We think that he resents the abuses America has perpetuated around the world.  And if Romney can verbalize the feeling we have, put brackets around this mistrust, he’ll make significant inroads.

Romney made some mistakes, however, those mistakes were made by both Obama and Romney.  But his morning press interview went very well.

One last thing, Obama has a reputation for being a strong speaker.  I’ve never felt that.  I think he delivers a strong speech and can move audiences but his ability to speak succinctly in an ad hoc situation is horrible.  Notice that Romney never pauses, hhmms or haws or takes time to struggle with his next words.  He’s confident and clear in what he’s trying to say.