Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Presidential Candidate Compatibility (a/k/a “InDecision 2008”)

The Internet is a wonderful thing. As we are now just under one year away from the 2008 Presidential election, I’ve noticed several online quizzes aimed at helping determine which candidates’ positions on various issues match one’s own views.

After a little sifting through Google, I found dozens of such polls and took ten of them. The results? A head scratcher.

InDecision 2008


My ideal candidate(s)


USA Today Candidate Match Game

Fred Thompson, Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney

ABCNews Match-o-matic

Mitt Romney, Fred Thompson, Rudy Giuliani

VAJOE Candidate Calculator

Duncan Hunter, Tom Tancredo, Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee

WQAD Select a Candidate Quiz

John McCain

Glassbooth Election 2008

Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee, Fred Thompson

Internet Straw Poll

Mike Huckabee

OnTheIssues VoteMatch

Duncan Hunter, Tom Tancredo

GoToQuiz Ultimate 2008 Candidate Matcher

Mitt Romney

Minnesota Public Radio

John McCain, Tom Tancredo, Duncan Hunter, Fred Thompson

SelectSmart Presidential Candidate Selector

(Sam Brownback, Stephen Colbert), Mitt Romney, Fred Thompson, Duncan Hunter, John McCain, Tom Tancredo

The results are certainly interesting, and perhaps more indicative of the bias present in each of the respective polls. Each poll takes a slightly different approach to metrics. Several of these polls use highly biased questions (along the lines of, “Do you approve of Dick Cheney eating puppies for breakfast?”) I kid, no puppies were sacrificed in the writing of this blog post. Here’s a real question from the GoToQuiz Candidate Matcher, “How do you feel about embryonic stem cell research?” The choices are: A- It may lead to cures for diseases, so we should eliminate Bush's restrictions, B- It isn't moral, so we should keep or increase Bush's restrictions, or C- I don’t know. I don’t know about you, but it has always seemed rude to refer to individuals by only their last name (other than in informal settings among friends), but it has been commonplace during the past eight years to reference our President as simply “Bush.” But then, more than a few on the Left have still not come to grips with the fact that GW won, twice.

Getting back on topic, I did not surprise me that the names rising to the top were Republican (I still consider Richard Nixon’s presidency a success but for that little gaffe named after an overpriced hotel.) I have not decided who to support, but consider Fred Thompson, Mike Huckabee, and Mitt Romney my personal frontrunners. Imagine my surprise then when John McCain and Rudy Giuliani entered the mix as I took the various quizzes. Actually, the biggest surprises to me were Tom Tancredo and Duncan Hunter. I have paid little attention to either one. Now it appears I have some more research to do.

In an effort to ake some sense of these polls, I performed some statistical analysis (actually little more than weighted averages) and came up with this chart:


Weighted preference

Fred Thompson


Tom Tancredo


Mitt Romney


Mike Huckabee


Duncan Hunter


John McCain


Rudy Giuliani


Fred tops the list, yet I have serious concerns that he’s not the Reagan Resurrection many conservatives prayed for.

I remain undecided.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Eagles: Long Road Out of Eden - not your usual rock & roll seniors tour

"Eagles! The Eagles are coming!"
Peregrin (Pippin) Took (from J.R.R. Tolkein's Lord of the Rings)

They formed a huge portion of my life's soundtrack in the 1970s and 80s, and now the Eagles are back with a superb new album, Long Road Out of Eden. The link goes to the band's website where you can hear one complete song and several samples from the album, plus a collection of old hits.

60 Minutes did a very nice segment on the group's decision to return to the studio. It's trimmed into multiple segments on the CBS News website:
Eagles Dark Days
Eagles: the Pressure Cooker
Eagles back in the studio

For me, Long Road Out of Eden demonstrates Don Henley, Glen Frey, Joe Walsh, and Timothy Schmidt still possess their musical chops. This album may not surpass sales of their multi-platinium Hotel California, but it has all the the creative energy of their earlier work.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Hope in Hollywood from a former West Winger

Hat Tip to Craig Newmark for this commentary by actor Ron Silver at his newly minted blog, Silver Bullet:

Senator Joe Lieberman, the Democratic Vice-Presidential candidate only eight years ago, gave an extraordinary speech on national security last week that the mainstream media did not cover. It's a shame. And it's a shame the Democratic Party shunned Lieberman and tried to defeat him in a primary. They made it clear that there is no place for him in the party he's dedicated his life to. I'm a Joe Lieberman Democrat.

JFK reportedly remarked, "sometimes the party asks too much." He was referring to the deal his Democratic Party made with southern segregationists to maintain control of Congress. His words are as true now as they were then. Sometimes the party asks too much.

I count myself firmly in the tradition of Wilson, FDR, Truman and Kennedy…and yes, Reagan and George W. Bush. "Go anywhere, bear any burden," "try to do our best to make a world safe for democracy." Our national mission, a worthy and ennobling one, is to expand freedom where we can. These are revolutionary goals very much in keeping with our Founders' vision. They are hardly conservative, let alone neo-conservative goals.

We cannot fight a war by pretending we're not in one. This requires transformative, upset the apple cart thinking. It requires people who are revolutionary, not reactionary. As much as we might like, we cannot return to a pre-9/11 world.

The President is challenging the world with a new order. There is always passionate opposition to change. Have grievous mistakes been made? Yes. But just as Wilson, FDR, Truman, Kennedy, and Reagan laid the foundations for fighting and prevailing in the Cold War, Bush has responded to 9/11 with a foreign policy revolution of similar magnitude: a reorganization of government institutions and appropriate legislation to meet the emerging threats.
Containment and deterrence are ineffective in this brave new world. There is no containment if you can't see the enemy; there is no deterrence if the enemy desires death.

I believe the President's critics are profoundly mistaken. I believe they misunderstand how he's trying to protect us. I believe they misunderstand the nature of the threat. I believe they misunderstand history. If they succeed in dismantling what President Bush has set in motion, the results may well be catastrophic and history will never forgive them.

George W. Bush: a revolutionary liberal internationalist? History may so decree. Let's wait and see.

I enjoyed Ron Silver's portrayal of the "gun for hire" political strategist Bruno Gianelli on West Wing. His new blog offers evidence that there remain a few sane voices on the left. We need more reasoned discussion from left, right, and center.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Giving Thanks

Michael Yon brings us a tale of thanksgiving.
Nothing I can write would match his visual and literal eloquence.
Enjoy the holiday.

Friday, November 16, 2007

I’m alive and doing fine

I've been out of commission for a few days with a knee sprain. The Oxycodone manages the pain quite well, but does little to enhance my withering writing skills.

For no particular reason at all, other than it amuses me, this post takes a look at web comics. It seems to me the "funny pages" in the local newspaper are less funny than I recall from my Jurassic youth. Dick Tracy, L'il Abner, B.C., Nancy, Peanuts, Gasoline Alley, Pogo, Steve Canyon, and Prince Valiant were my favorites as a kid. By the 1970s and 80s, my attention was drawn (pun intended) to Broom-Hilda, Calvin & Hobbes, Bloom County, Garfield, For What It's Worth (much better than Mary Worth), Dilbert, and Doonesbury.

These days, the talented, creative cartoonists are found on the web.

Paul Taylor's Wapsi Square is a multilayered treat. On the surface, the storyline focuses on a group of cute young women trying to live their lives. Below the icing, some very surreal storytelling that will have you believing the End of Time is less than 1,900 days away. It is a sometimes convoluted plot that has been building since 2001.

Chris Muir's day by day strikes me as a modern day Doonesbury (from when that strip was less preachy) of the Right. I consider day by day one of my daily "must reads." This strip is running seven days a week.

Jeph Jacques' Questionable Content tells the stories of a group of young people who hang around a coffee shop. Beyond that, any resemblance to "Friends" is coincidental. The latest storyline, for example, involves a robotic boyfriend J. Jeph has just passed the 1,000 episode mark.

The very talented Danielle Corsetto has recently expanded her girls with slingshots to five days a week. Like Wapsi Square, the main characters are endowed with attractive and ample protection for their pectoral muscles. A touch of the surreal is provided by another major character, a talking (and mobile) cactus. Danielle is also the talent behind the The New Adventures of Bat Boy in the now defunct Weekly World News (okay, not entirely defunct, the print version is no longer a temptation at the grocery checkout, but is still published online.)

Starline X. Hodge (pronounced "Star Lean") offers us Candi, and it is deliciously funny. The title character is a college student dealing with all the drama and comedy that is college life. The drawing style reminds me a little of the old Archie comics from the 1960s.

A new comic I just discovered (thanks to a plug by Danielle Corsetto) and that I think has great potential is in genre of Magic Realism is kukuburi by Ramón Pérez. His is a once a week strip that is just now digging into a plot following weeks of character introduction and scene setting. The artwork is in a word, awesome.

So there you go, boys and girls. Take some time to back away from the blogs and fill your head with some visual entertainment.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Better never than late

The first snow of the season is upon us here in the Allegheny Mountains of Pennsylvania. I shot this photo with my phone cam out my office window.
I can hardly wait for the breathless reportage tonight on the local news concerning the dangers posed by this strange white material from the sky.
On the plus side, one of the local weather companies predicts a generally mild winter around here until March. That I can handle.
Sucks for the skiers though.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Love thy neighbor

Independent journalist/photographer/blogger Michael Yon offers us what could become an iconic vision of our success in Iraq.

The blog world is filled with commentary about this image and what it means.

Glenn Reynolds offers commentary and links elsewhere.

The Anchoress provides a banquet for thought:

It's important, though, to get a sense of what is going on over there, where our people are serving, living and dying. It's important to realize that where there is danger and tragedy, there is also progress and hope. In the major media outlets, we get big servings of the first two and very niggardly helpings of the latter. We need a more balanced diet of information.

In truth, we know so little. So much of the information we get from Iraq is filtered and delivered from "safe" locations. So little of it is unfiltered and delivered from the Iraqi streets.
Yon is delivering Iraq to us from the streets.

Dr. Melissa adds to the Anchoress's commentary:

I'm naive and idealistic. My opinion has always been that the Iraqis are people, people like any other, who suffered under the thumb of tyrany, who only ever saw excessive force achieve ends, who ruled by domination, who wished for a peace they thought impossible, who saw family murdered and yearned for vengeance, who were disoriented once faced with choices again and needed time to learn to trust.

In a government governed by themselves, they'd have to learn to trust themselves to choose wisely and then they'd have to learn to trust those chosen. In short, they were people like you or I who needed time to let their wings dry and learn to fly.

Chris Muir's outstanding comic strip "day by day" pays homage to Yon's photo.

Michelle Malkin points out that this photo illustrates more than simply neighbors getting along:

Yes, Christian persecution remains rampant in the Muslim world and apostasy is still punishable by death. But there are glimmers of good news, and they won't be broadcast on the nightly news or the front page of the NYTimes. Thanks to the lens of Michael Yon, we can see a fuller, truer picture of Iraq than the "grim milestone"-driven legacy media lens allows us to see. That deserves thanks and praise, too.

Vicki at the Jawa Report:

A beautiful tribute to men and women of good will from all faiths, and to our heroes who have made it possible.

In World War II, the United States was attacked first. We did not set up a defensive perimeter and await invasions by the Japanese from the west and the Germans from the east. We took the war to them. Just so in this war against terrorist Islamofacists. In Afghanistan and Iraq, it is not so much a battle for territory, but a battle for the hearts and souls of an entire culture. Michale Yon's photo is evidence of the beginnings of success.

Michael Yon's work in Iraq is supported solely through donations. Consider dropping some coin into his tip jar.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

True men of genius

The Anchoress offers a couple (as usual) thoughtful items and this:

cash advance

For what its worth.

Friday, November 2, 2007

What hath Leo Rosenberg wrought?

The 2008 presidential election is one year away and already we've been subjected to 24/7 campaign coverage since this time a year ago.

It began innocently enough on November 2, 1920 on the roof of a Westinghouse Electric Company building in East Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania when Leo Rosenburg began coverage of the 1920 presidential election returns on the world's first commercial radio station, KDKA. That first night of election coverage relied on information being relayed by telephone from a local newspaper, allowing about one thousand listeners to learn James Cox had lost to Warren Harding.

Since then radio (and later television) news organizations continued efforts to reduce the time between voters marking their ballots and learning the results; giving Election Day the appearance of a sporting event rather than something more substantive.

More importantly, and I fear to our detriment, this need for speed has ushered in the age of electronic voting. The aim is to make results known more quickly. The price is less accountability since the manufacturers have convinced our political leaders that a paper trail is not necessary. It really does not matter whether we learn the results of the election at 8:01 PM on election night, or a week later. What is important is that the votes are recorded and counted accurately. We need not return to pencil and paper for this; simply require that each electronic voting machine print an itemized receipt for the voter to review and then place into the ballot box. Ed Mierzwinski of the federation of state Public Interest Research Groups offers additional insight on the issue of receipts. Kim Zetter's blog at Wired has an article on the Federal Election Assistance Commission's effort to collect public input on e-voting security. And, an article in the Illinois Business Law Journal suggests e-voting machines be based on open source software as one way to mitigate the potential for fraud.

We cannot turn back time, but we can decide that getting it right is more important than getting it fast.