Category Archives: Politics


Presidential Debate Word Clouds: Romney vs Obama

Here is a data visualization word cloud of the presidential debates last night. I took all of the things said from both candidates, no matter how mundane, from the transcript.

Then I removed common English words like ‘the’ and ‘and’ and I manually corrected for uncommon edge cases like ‘governor’, in the case of Obama. Governor dominated his cloud but was almost universally used to address Romney (i.e. “Governor Romney says…”).

Here you are. I make no political analysis of the content. I merely present the findings.

Governor Mitt Romney

President Barack Obama


Politics: It’s the Journey, not the Destination

It’s been a long time since I discussed politics here. I occasionally get into politics over on Twitter, but rarely do I write about it. I don’t consider myself a political wonk so I leave the blogging to the wonks. However, I am not exactly a political outsider either. With years under my belt in the political epicenter of the country – the Greater Washington, D.C. Region – I’m not exactly naive about the political gamesmanship that happens every day.

Now, living in Austin, Texas – the state capital, and center of political activity in the great State of Texas – it’s not like I’m unaware of the way things work on a state level either (though admittedly, I know far less about Texas politics than I do about Maryland or National politics). However, living and traveling outside of the Beltway bubble has been enlightening in how the rest of the country sees the political process.

More or less, outside the beltway, the vast majority of laypeople see politics as something that is offensive, or at minimum, charged with rhetoric, hate and something that is to be shunned in casual social scenarios. Things are so personal to the electorate that, right or left, the objective of governing is lost. The right sees the left as a bloc of people intent on taking away personal liberties, led by a man so vilified for ideas that are less written in stone, and more written in perception based on questionable, if not indiscriminately inaccurate, data.

The left is not much better. The left sees the right as a segment of the country who wants to simply obstruct every bit of progress possible, while returning the country to a racist, misogynist, hateful past.

Both of these perceptions, while steeped in some level of truth, are shams. Both highlight tendencies that reflect deeper conditions among both groups. But here’s the funny part… Both views are curated by both parties inside the beltway.

Whyever would anyone want to perpetrate these despicable ideas???

It’s funny how politics works. Politics is based entirely on manipulation and both parties (the establishment, not the people holding a voter registration card in South Dakota) are masters of it. Politics exists for the sake of power and both parties know that. Both parties also know they need each other to retain power. Both parties agree and walk in unison on 80% of issues. It’s the 20% that is a grand, choreographed display of artistic fortitude. It’s the 20% that allows the GOP to fire up their base of voters to keep keep them (or re-take) power. It’s the 20% that carries the Democrats to a 2006 and 2008 landslide based on anti-Bush sympathy and promises of Hope and Change. It’s the 20% that turns the Tea Party into a movement to be reckoned with in 2010.

Both parties know this and both parties work in lock-step to ensure this epic drama unfolds as it’s supposed to. To do so ensure that Democrats and Republicans lock-in the two party system, that benefits both of them in terms of money and power, for decades to come. To fail to do so (as in, an apathetic American public who isn’t angered by the Thème de la Jour), reveals cracks in the armor, possible loss of campaign contributions, corporate lobbying dollars, and power.

Having lived inside the Beltway, Hill staffers from both sides of the aisle put on their contorted political dance during the day, on television, radio programs, interviews and other media avenues, just to go to happy hour with their colleagues from across the aisle after hours. They are just like us in their every day life (with maybe more hectic schedules). They watch sports, go shopping, eat at restaurants, enjoy craft beers and go through their lives like all of us. The difference is, when they are at work, they are creating an elaborate illusion for the rest of the country.

The illusion is one of hatred, angst, bitter rivalries and political gamesmanship. The point: Keep the proletaria right so bent out of shape about Obama (or whoever) policies and the grassroots left looking at disgust at Republicans using parliamentary games that block Democratic initiatives.

It’s all a game.

Which brings me to the point I took a long time getting to: the GOP primaries.

Last night, I watched as Twitter exploded with chatter about Arizona and Michigan results where Mitt Romney won handily and barely, respectively. People scoffed at Santorum’s pro-life, anti-abortion stance while (inaccurately) putting out misinformation like, “If Santorum gets elected president, he’s going to take away your condoms”. Likewise, equally vilifying statements were made about Mitt Romney.

Now, I am not a partisan. I am unaffiliated with either party and I’m certainly not casting any support to the GOP candidate or to President Obama. I just don’t know who I’ll vote for in November. But I’ll tell you that watching the ongoing angst over the GOP Presidential hopefuls is both funny and tragic. It’s funny because… well, the GOP will get a 40% base no matter who gets the nomination and Obama will get his 40% base no matter who gets the nomination. It’s the 20% in the middle that will decide the race. You can get pissed off about Obama  but the historical data on election trends speaks for itself. Likewise, you can throw statements around about Romney and Santorum, but there’s no reason to believe that the election results in November will break any other way than they always have.

It’s tragic because I realize so few people sit back and enjoy the process. They lose the process through the politics. The process – the primaries as well as the other aspects of Washington work – is a beautiful work of art that has been around for centuries. The system is to be cherished. The politics not so much.

The primaries are not about elections. They aren’t even about politics. They are a mechanism of a party to determine who is going to be on the ticket for the general election (which is about politics). The rules for primaries are different between parties. The outcomes are irrelevant, except for the party internal mechanisms.

While the media does 24 hour coverage of these cycles (did ya hear Super Tuesday is coming up?!), the electorate gets more worked up into a fevered frenzy. It’s sort of like the snake charmer and the cobra where we the people are the cobra and the media and the beltway operation is the snake charmer.

So enjoy this process. Enjoy our system of government that, while not perfect, is still quite amazing. Everything that is old is new again. Everything new is fading away. It’s made up of cycles and we are just players in a grand dance.

Politics, Sports

President Obama Throws a Super Bowl Party

With the Super Bowl a few days away, I have yet to figure out where I’m watching it. However, President Obama knows where he’s watching it. He is throwing a party at the White House for a handful of elected officials.

  • Senator Bob Casey (D-PA)
  • Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL)
  • Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
  • Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA)
  • Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-MD)
  • Congressman Artur Davis (D-AL)
  • Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT)
  • Congressman Charlie Dent (R-PA)
  • Congressman Mike Doyle (D-PA)
  • Congressman Trent Franks (R-AZ)
  • Congressman Raul Grijalva (D-AZ)
  • Congressman Paul Hodes (D-NH)
  • Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes-Norton (D-DC)
  • Congressman Patrick Murphy (D-PA)
  • Congressman Fred Upton (R-MI)

I presume Sen. Specter, Sen. Casey, Rep. Dent, Rep Doyle, and Rep. Murphy will be rooting for the Steelers. Likewise, Rep. Franks and Rep. Grijalva will be rooting for the Cardinals. I presume Rep. Cummings, my Congressman, will be a Cardinals fan on Sunday too, considering his district is in the Baltimore area. And, of course, our President has defied logic, as a man from an NFC town who now lives in an NFC town, by declaring his support for Pittsburgh.

For my part, I’m loving me some Red and White.


What Would the United States Do for Mexico?

There was a massive earthquake in western Mexico and 200,000 people unfortunately, and tragically, died. In the wake of the tragedy, the nations of the world banded together to provide relief.

China sent a ship with containers of goods such as tee-shirts, watches and electronic devices to help with cleanup and provide humanitarian relief.

Great Britain sent 500 palettes of drinking water and other humanitarian aid.

Beliza and Costa Rica sent hundreds of first responders and medical aid.

The United States sent 200,000 Mexicans to replace the ones that were lost.

In all seriousness, this election is important in so many ways. One of the major issues on the table that might not be getting as much attention is illegal immigration. John McCain doesn’t want to talk about it much because it was an issue made big by George W. Bush and he’s trying to keep Sarah Palin front and center. Barack Obama isn’t talking much about it because he’s fighting a guerilla war based more on propaganda and media spin, than he is on these core issues.

But, at the end of the day, both candidates have taken some kind of position on immigration. It’s not that we, as conservatives, don’t care about the plight of illegals, but that there is a process to being legal.

Obama is best suited, based on his platform, to push this issue. We need to find a way to help illegals become legal without destroying families and lives in the process. We do need to secure the borders, but what does that mean? Certainly, the immigrants that are here now are “doing the jobs Americans won’t”, but that’s not an excuse to allow a persistent state of illegality. Instead, how do we help these people become legal and at the same time, stem the wave of illegals that are coming into the country and tapping our finite resources without paying a dime into the system.

Obama is best suited to do this.


Palin a Homerun Among GOP

Sarah Palin, for better or worse, has been the focus of most of the GOP convention. Since her designation as the VP choice last Friday, she has been criticized by many, including myself, on her experience (or lack thereof). Others have opted to focus on the pregnancy of her 17 year old daughter, Bristol.

Let me be clear at the outset. It’s not that I don’t like Sarah Palin. How can I not like what I don’t know. Blog posts, op-ed pieces and rip-roaring by fringe internet communities does not make allegations fact. I don’t know Palin enough to not like her.

However, Palin is new. 60ish days before the election, the electorate is tossed the name of someone most of us have never heard of. Many on the right would point to the lack of experience of Barack Obama. And it’s true, he is inexperienced. The difference is that we have had a year and a half with Obama to get comfortable with him. We’ve had a year and a half to hear him speak with candor and and an eloquence that is disarming. We’ve had a year and a half to see him debate and hear his ideas. We’ve seen him on television and heard him on the radio.

No, Obama doesn’t have a wealth of experience but at least we have more than 60 days to get comfortable with the idea of this great man as the next President of the United States.

Palin? We are expected to buy into what the GOP says about her. That she is a great woman with family values. That she has executive experience enough to make her Vice Presidency a viable thing. We’re expected to buy into her tenacity and her ability to take on Washington in the same way she took on Alaska’s establishment.

Forgive me for being cynical, but I don’t make hasty decisions. It took me over a year to endorse Obama. I can’t just buy into Palin now. Not at this time. Not this late in the game.

But, I want to be fair. The Vice Presidential nomination acceptance speech tonight was a homerun. She started out very poorly, in my opinion, by talking way too much about herself, her family and her time as a PTA mom. It took too long to get to policy. Way too long for a VP nominee who is asking the country to make an uneducated, to be honest, gamble on her.

On pure technical merits alone, she did her job. She excited the GOP audience. She delivered some great one-liners and showed a nice command of important issues such as energy, both traditional and green. At points during the speech, she seemed coached on foreign policy issues, a fact that is slightly scary considering she could be a heartbeat away from the presidency. With John McCain’s cancer history and age, this is a very real concern and not just a piece of hyped propaganda.

Let’s be very clear. Palin is a marketing gimmick and she delivered beautifully. She is a woman with a great stage presence, and that was entirely exploited tonight. She did her job. At least the job the campaign set out for her. It’s very, very unclear if she can do the real job though and that cannot be ascertained in one speech to a willing audience.

Let’s see how she squares off with Joe Biden.


Indictment on Modern Day Conservatism

I’m not usually one to write about politics, but that might change in the coming days and months. At least here on this blog where I don’t have to worry about sticking within the confines of business and technology.

The last week has been exciting. The first African American from a major political party to receive his party nomination for President of the United States. Compounded was that yesterday was the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther Kings “I Have a Dream” speech.

It couldn’t have been planned any better.

Today, Sen. John McCain announced that he was upsetting the apple cart by picking Alaska Governor Sarah Palin to be his vice presidential running mate. Yes, only the second woman to fill the VP running mate role.

This pick deserves a post of its own. What is the “woman vote”? Can women be pigeon holed into a singular mindset? Some women might want to claim that the issues women care about are the issues that all women care about. But really, women are just like men in that there are hundreds of different sub-sets.

Regardless, it’s a different issue for a different post.

I want to talk about conservatism, because the word has been so ruined and drug through the mud by modern day conservatism.

Conservatism can be wrapped up in one word: Individuals.

Individuals are the most valuable asset of a conservative society. Individuals can make choices, decisions and reap the individual consequences. Individuals are protected from a narcissistic government, predatory corporations and rabid special interests.

Conservatism expects that western influence will not be forced on non-western cultures, and values the identity of cultural and social choice. It’s all about individuals and government should not infringe on that.

Conservatism believes that there is no better example for children than parents and that no one should insert themselves in a healthy parent-child relationship.

True conservatism believes that above all else, the Constitution is the guiding law of this land and that the balance of power exists to protect the people from the government.

Reality says that the above description describes modern day liberalism pretty well. It does not describe modern day conservatism.

Modern day conservatism insists that National Security trumps individual protections and rights. Modern day conservatism insists that in order to protect Americans at home, that we must proactively intervene in other parts of the world. Modern day conservatism says that to protect American influence in the world at a point where American influence has plateaued or even declined, we must aggressively re-assert that influence.

Modern day conservatism protects the military-industrial complex and large corporations in the name of blind and unfettered capitalism.

When I declare proudly and loudly that I am a conservative, I am holding on to the classical conservative ideals, and not to modern day conservatism which is no better than a wolf in sheep clothing.

And to Christians who blindly follow the modern day Republican party, I’d encourage you to take a step back and determine if the party and their actions accurately reflect the call of Scripture. Remember the prophecy of to Israel where, among other indictments, Amos says:

You hate the one who reproves in court and despise him who tells the truth.

You trample on the poor and force him to give you grain. Therefore, though you have built stone mansions, you will not live in them; though you have planted lush vineyards, you will not drink their wine. For I know how many are your offenses and how great your sins. You oppress the righteous and take bribes and you deprive the poor of justice in the courts.

Hate evil, love good; maintain justice in the courts. Perhaps the LORD God Almighty will have mercy on the remnant of Joseph.


John Smith for President

image003.gifChesapeake Bay Foundation has its own presidential nominee. Forget Obama or McCain or Nader or what’s that other guy.

Captain John Smith is running for President and he needs your help.

That’s right, Capt. John Smith of colonial days. His love of the Chesapeake Bay and the environment extends to today.

Smith, when asked about his campaign, said, “I stand not just for a clean Chesapeake Bay; I stand for clean rivers and streams all across America. For if we can clean up the Chesapeake Bay, and working together we bloody well can clean up every stream, river, and bay in this country. We can make the Chesapeake a model for restoration success, for the rest of the nation and for the rest of the world.”

Campaign staffers suggest that the best way, at this late hour in the campaign season, to get Smith’s name included on ballots is to sign this petition. 10,000 signatures gets it done.

I’m doing it. Are you?

Disclaimer: The Smith campaign is a parody because, obviously, the dude has been dead for 400 years or so. However, the need for a clean Bay, rivers and the ecosystem as a whole is a strong enough cause to vote for even today. Sign this petition and help it get done.