Monday, October 22, 2012

Romney Takes A Knee

Saturday I watched my team play against a stronger football team.  I was excited as our team lead at half time.  As the game progressed, the other team came from behind and went ahead 3 points.  We had a couple of shots at pulling ahead and then they got the ball.  With little time left, they hiked it to their quarterback and he took a knee.  The clock ran down and they won.  Game over.  There's nothing more frustrating than that moment when you realize that there is no more hope for your team.  First time I experienced this I was mad at the other team.

As we watched the debate, we were wondering about Governor Romney's strategy.  I mentioned that it was like watching two people argue while the whole time they are actually agreeing with each other.  Someone thought Romney was going to play tough at the end.  He didn't.  He took a knee.

In other football news, I read about the Tennessee game:

“Tennessee played a great game tonight. They were well prepared and well coached, and the team executed the game plan flawlessly. The loss was due to the poor policies left over from the Fulmer era.”

Update November 7, 2012:

Looks like Romney took a knee when he should have kept enough time on the clock to kick the winning field goal.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

My Honest Take of 2nd Presidential Debate

I watched the debate last night and several people asked me today "Who won?"  My answer was "your candidate won".  It's interesting how we all suffer from cognitive bias, ignoring the things that go contrary to what we want to believe.  So I am going to attempt to be as honest as possible about last nights debate.

The Moderator

I read reports that Candy Crowley was planning on playing a bigger role in the debate, asking additional questions.  She apparently has demonstrated a bias towards President Obama in the past, so the fact that she was selecting the questions concerned me.  I however, was pleasantly surprised.  The questions seemed balanced.  Regarding her additional questioning, I actually liked it.  Candidates do a good job of answering any question with their talking points.  She seemed to attempt to make them accountable.  Apparently she interrupted Governor Romney significantly more and gave President Obama more time.  I'm not going to criticize the little stuff.

The Candidates

It would be really nice if the candidates, after being asked a question, would look the person in the eye and give them a specific, direct, honest answer.  Of course, they couldn't do that, but it would be nice.  However, these guys are good on their feet!  I liked their response to "How is Mitt Romney going to be different than George Bush?"  Governor Romney made the respectable case for what he would do better. Obama responded that Governor Romney is different from Bush in that he was going to be worse than Bush on social policies.  Very clever on both their parts.

President Obama

I thought he had some great responses.  The most impressive was his passionate argument about how much he cares about the problems in Libya.  He also pointed out his record on opposing the war in Iraq and then pulling out.  That's quite an accomplishment.  I noticed a couple of negative patterns.  One is an insistent  construction of a straw-man portraying Romney as a selfish, greedy, uncaring Mr. Potter from "It's a Wonderful Life".  The other pattern is that addressing problems always seems to involve other people.

  • Got a debt problem?  Make rich people pay for it.    
  • Need healthcare?  Require insurance companies to cover you and require that health providers do more for less compensation.  
  • Having problems in the Middle East?  Blame an anti-Muslim film, your intelligence community, etc. 
  • Stuck with a bad economy?  Blame Bush.  
  • Have trouble keeping your promises?  Blame Republicans in Congress.  
  • Need to improve pay for women?  Pass a law (meanwhile no significant improvement has been made [1] and even his own staff suffers from unequal pay [2])

Governor Romney

It's not fair that Governor Romney has the actual record of an incumbent in a bad economy to point fingers at.  He definitely  does an excellent job of exploiting this advantage.  I really wonder if Romney had been elected in 2008, how the record would be different.  There's really no telling, but my guess is it would be better.  He got feisty, which is good and bad.  Good because I want to know that he is able to fight the current power brokers who seem to be failing us.  Bad because it doesn't seem presidential.  Of course, he never was silly like Joe Biden's performance last week.  I think he made a mistake on the Libya issue.  I still feel he blew it on Sept. 11 when it made the attack on Benghazi political.  Sure the White House has sent confusing signals on what they think caused the attack, but we should be united in our fight against this.  Finally on the deficit, I'm going to have to trust that the jobs Governor Romney's plan will create will result in enough revenues along with the cuts are enough to balance the budget.  The way I figure it, 16 million new jobs can generate at most around $250 billion in revenues (maybe double that counting all payroll taxes and taxes on increased business).  With entitlement costs rising and current deficits at $1000 billion, that's a lot of cutting.  He's way smarter than I am, getting an MBA and Law Degree simultaneously, running a business and make millions along the way, so it remains to be seen.  I'd like to see what he could do.  I wish he would have used the line "Is it worth borrowing money from China to pay for this government program?"

More Deficit and Debt

I think the way our current political system is set up,  it's impossible for a candidate to be "candid" about our debt and still get elected.  I think we are reaching the tipping point where we won't be able to afford the interest payments on our debt and the slightest bump in the road is going to upset the cart.


I'm not sure how well I did at overcoming my own biases, but at least I tried to acknowledge the positive and negative points for each candidate.  That's more than I can say for most of what I've read today.

Update 10/18/2012
I just read that Federal welfare payments exceeded a trillion dollars last year ($1000 billion), so it looks like there is more savings than I originally thought.  If more people have jobs, fewer are on welfare.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Old Guys Rule

I used to play pickup basketball weekly.  Sometimes, while picking teams we would say "old guys against the young guys".  The young guys would get smirks on their faces, excited that they had the advantage: young, fast, energetic.  Pretty much every time, the old guys would win.  They weren't as fast.  They couldn't jump as high.  On the other hand, they had experience and played smarter.

We just had two debates:

65 year old Mitt Romney against 51 year old Barack Obama
69 year old Joe Biden against 42 year old Paul Ryan

A majority agree that the 65 year old beat the 51 year old.
It also looks like the 69 year old had a stronger showing than the 42 year old.

It wasn't policy.  It was just that old guys rule.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Mitt Romney Lied About Spain?

Mitt Romney's comments during the first presidential debate about Spain drew criticism from leaders in Spain.  They said his statements were not true.

Meanwhile, today the S&P downgraded the credit rating of Spain

The quote from Romney: "I don't want to go down the path to Spain".

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Mitt Romney's Trash Collector

I just finished watching the debate tonight.  As I anticipated the debate earlier today and imagined what it would be like to be give the equivalent of oral exams with an opponent in front of 50 million Americans, I thought that both of these men are pretty amazing.  I couldn't do it.

I think it was the best debate I've ever watched. Though half of you will disagree with me, I thought they were two of the best candidates we've had for a long time.  One of the lowest points I experienced was a Bob Dole rally in 1996.  I attended the rally not as a Dole fan but instead out of convenience: it was in the parking lot at my company.  Governor Pete Wilson gave the opening remarks and I was ready to vote for him for President.  He was good.  When Bob Dole spoke is was one of the most disappointing things I've ever experienced.  I never was excited about either Bush.  McCain was just a notch above Dole in my view.

On the Democrat side, Dukakis, Gore, Kerry didn't seem like much either.

No matter how people try to spin who Mitt Romney is, the truth is he's an impressive man.  The only attacks seem to be against a straw man.  This most recent add made me laugh (Not at Richard Hayes, but instead at the people who thought up the ad).

Richard says that sometimes residents come out and shake their hands, and give them hugs and that Mitt Romney doesn't care about him. He says that lifting tons of trash by hand is breaking his body (even thought the opening scene clearly shows the robotic arms on the trucks that lift and dump the trash cans). The straw man here of course is the person in side their house who never interacts with their trash collector. Of course that description fits a large majority of Americans. But this straw man is insensitive and doesn't care. A little research by the labor union producing the ad would have found out that Mitt Romney spent time doing various every day jobs when running for governor, one of which was - garbage collector.  Here's a quote from his book:
I decided to spend a day every few weeks doing the jobs of other people in Massachusetts. Among other jobs, I cooked sausages at Fenway Park, worked on asphalt paving crew, stacked bales of hay on a farm, volunteered in an emergency room, served food at a nursing home, and worked as a child-care assistant. I'm often asked which was the hardest job—it's child care, by a mile. One day I gathered trash as a garbage collector. I stood on that little platform at the back of the truck, holding on as the driver navigated his way through the narrow streets of Boston. As we pulled up to traffic lights, I noticed that the shoppers and businesspeople who were standing only a few feet from me didn't even see me. It was as if I was invisible.