Archive of Articles for August, 2009

Best Government Dollar Spent -- The National Park System

[ Posted Monday, August 17th, 2009 – 16:42 UTC ]

Which is why it was heartening to see President Obama taking his family to visit two of the crown jewels of the National Park System -- Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon. Most presidents don't even get around to visiting a National Park in their first year in office, unless you count the many places in Washington, D.C. which are administered by the National Park Service (technically, even the White House would count, under this designation). And even when most presidents do visit National Parks, it is usually to make a political point or push a specific piece of legislation, with a park as a convenient photo-op backdrop.

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Friday Talking Points [89] -- Fighting Crazy

[ Posted Friday, August 14th, 2009 – 17:15 UTC ]

The healthcare reform fracas has gotten so bad, it has forced some in the media to actually do their jobs. This statement will come as a shock to anyone who has become accustomed to the way these soi-disant "journalists" present just about any issue these days -- by having a center-left politician and a hard-right politician on to "debate," and then fanning the flames by refusing to referee and provide actual facts to the discussion. But I think now (maybe) the "journalists" have finally gotten to the point of embarrassment, leading them to actually report on what is true and what is not in the entire debate. In other words, as I said, to do their actual jobs.

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Le Sud-Ouest, Der Südwesten, Or Il Sud-Ovest

[ Posted Thursday, August 13th, 2009 – 16:43 UTC ]

This canyon is located a few miles east of Page, Arizona, and I've been looking for it for a long time -- around 20-25 years. You might recognize the photos, as pretty much any calendar or photo book of the American Southwest will have a few shots of it. As I said, the place is a photographer's dream. The canyon is what is called a "slot canyon" made of red sandstone and, in places, is barely wide enough to squeeze through. Here's another shot, showing the sandy floor:

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It's Time To Lead, Mr. President

[ Posted Wednesday, August 12th, 2009 – 09:00 UTC ]

In a few hours from now, President Barack Obama will give a live press conference to the nation. This is part of a new and concerted media effort by the White House to make Obama much more visible in the debate on healthcare reform. But being visible is one thing, and showing leadership is another. Because President Obama has so far been unwilling to tackle the tough decisions on healthcare reform, at least not in public. And, as Obama is accusing his detractors of doing, this is nothing more than playing politics with the issue by avoiding personal political risk to himself. Disturbingly, Obama hasn't even been very good at this political cheerleading, although he has gotten better in the past few days.

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An Ad Script For Teddy Kennedy On Healthcare Reform

[ Posted Tuesday, August 11th, 2009 – 09:00 UTC ]

In the debate about healthcare reform, why are the loudest voices in the room the ones who seemingly are against all reform? Where are the champions of the progressive ideas? I've asked this question (at great length) before, and while President Obama has started to (half-heartedly) speak up for "the public option," so far nobody else seems to be defending the idea at all. To say this is a disappointment is an understatement. Part of the problem is that the senator all Democrats are deferring to on the issue is Teddy Kennedy. Who has his own problems with healthcare right now, which precludes his being a leading and forceful voice to the public on the issue.

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How Democrats Need To Frame The Healthcare Debate

[ Posted Monday, August 10th, 2009 – 09:00 UTC ]

The debate over what, exactly, "healthcare reform" means is about to hit fever pitch (so to speak), and instead of diving into the legislative details of what seems to be emerging from congressional Democrats, I would like to make a broad suggestion in how they should be framing the issue correctly. Some may call this approach naive, but I truly believe that rather than fighting for one species of reform over the other, Democrats need to first adequately define the core principle they are fighting for. Their "values" on healthcare reform, to put it another way. And while it may not be achievable this time around, I think the goal Democrats should loudly proclaim they are attempting is a very simple one: nobody should ever go bankrupt because they get sick.

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Obama's Second Hundred Days

[ Posted Friday, August 7th, 2009 – 09:00 UTC ]

I've always been confused why the media goes berserk about rating a president's "first 100 days," but then just stops counting after the first milestone. This, to a statistician, would be known as a "zero dimensional data array" -- one data point, to be exact. If you don't re-test the sample on a regular schedule, how are you supposed to compare it to anything?

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To Tweet, Or Not To Tweet?

[ Posted Thursday, August 6th, 2009 – 14:11 UTC ]

The question, letting my natural hamminess speak (hamminess... let... ham...let?), I put it to you thusly: "To tweet, or not to tweet?" That is today's question.

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The Silly Season In Politics

[ Posted Wednesday, August 5th, 2009 – 16:00 UTC ]

But this year's season could produce a bumper crop of silly. The silly, it seems, is just bustin' out all over. And it's only the beginning of August, when our elected representatives all take off work for five weeks. Who knows how silly things are going to be by the end of the month?

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The Effectiveness Of Yelling

[ Posted Tuesday, August 4th, 2009 – 17:19 UTC ]

Is yelling a smart political tactic? That's an abstract sort of question, but it's going to become more and more concrete in the next few weeks, because there appears to be a coordinated effort to use the tactic of shouting everyone down to disrupt "town hall" events by Democratic members of Congress in their home districts during the August recess. My question is whether this tactic is going to be effective or whether it has the possibility of backfiring.

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