Saturday, September 27, 2008

Country Ca-review: Obama v. McCain Pt. 1

Though I maintain a very liberal sensibility, and could be considered by some right-wingers to be borderline socialist, I don't often write about politics on the blog. The closest I get is the occasional Bill O'Reilly humiliation video, which is much more for the sake of comedy than political commentary. However, since we have 40 or so days left until we choose another president, and September 2008 seems eerily similar to September 2004, I wanted to touch on it just a bit before going back to my usual discourse (Diddy and making fun of Jews and the elderly).

I remember the first Bush-Kerry debate very well. I was living around Wilshire and Bundy and it was my birthday. My girlfriend at the time and I were going to go out to dinner, but we waited until the debate was over so we could hear the two go at it. I remember we thought that John Kerry, though a bit of a dud, was so knowledgeable and earnest that he would wipe the floor with a sweaty and primate-like Bush. We were, essentially, right. This was the debate in Coral Gables, Florida, where Bush made his hilarious "well, actually, he forgot Poland" statement. It was the moment when I realized that 1) YouTube had a purpose, and was going to be huge and 2) Thank God this is on coast-to-coast, finally we'll get that doober out of office.

I figured the following day would be filled with broadcasters declaring a landslide for Kerry, a man who had reasoned his way past the blubbering, inane policies of the past four years. Instead, all I heard was "global test." Apparently, Kerry had said that national leaders should have to sit down and take a test before going and talking to world leaders! What an ignorant fool! How dare he say that the U.S. needs any sort of permission to be a leader in the world.

Of course, that's not what he said at all. Here's the direct quote:

No president, through all of American history, has ever ceded, and nor would I, the right to preempt in any way necessary to protect the United States of America.

But if and when you do it, Jim, you have to do it in a way that passes the test, that passes the global test where your countrymen, your people understand fully why you're doing what you're doing and you can prove to the world that you did it for legitimate reasons.


Yes, folks, that's all he was saying. Don't go to war unless you're doing it for a good reason, a reason that you can demonstrate not just to other nations, but to your own citizens. Sigh...and we all know what happened a month later.

So, I was interested to hear what Obama and McCain would talk about. Firstly, I'd like to say that it's at least refreshing to hear two people talk intelligently and respectfully about the issues. Not that there wasn't lying, but at least the issues brought up were (for the most part) legitimate, and there's not of this "he's flip-flopping" nonsense.

I listened to the full debate, watched some news commentary afterwards, and finally went to the FactCheck.org Debate Analysis today to read about everything they said that was in any way misleading, or a flat-out lie. Both candidates misled; McCain flat-out lied several times.

FactCheck.org is a great site. Ironically, the nation was primarily introduced to it via Dick Cheney, who referred to it as FactCheck.com during the 2004 Vice Presidential debate (the one where he claimed never to have met John Edwards before).

They've gone through and detailed every false or slightly misleading claim either of the candidates made. They're a non-partisan site, so it's just the facts. It doesn't take a wizard, though, to see that McCain made more (and certainly more shameless) false claims than did Obama. As a good denizen of honest discourse, I'll describe Obama's misleading claims first:

*McCain claimed that Obama voted to raise taxes on people making $42,000 a year. Though Obama denied it, he did give this vote, though it applies only to single people, and that current tax increase is nowhere to be seen in his current tax plan.
*Obama said Iraq's surplus is $79 billion; it's actually $60 billion. Yeah, I know, he was $19 billion off, but $60 billion is a shitload of money. If Iraq was a person it would be the richest person in the world, and we're still pumping money into it as if it's a slot machine.
*Obama said that McCain's health plan would raise taxes on employers, though it won't. It'll raise taxes on employees (!), which to me seems worse, as I'm an one of them.
*Obama says 95% of people will receive a tax cut under his plan. That's actually 95% of families, not people.

Okay, I'm going to leave these alone and move onto the McCain stuff, but I really must rebut this last point. Republicans have won countless elections by claiming that the Democrats will raise taxes. I suppose that's true....if your name is Shaq. Unless you make over $250,000 in a year, your taxes will actually go down. That's the truth. Look it up. Anywhere! I'll make it easy for you. Here are the tax proposals for both candidates, side by side.

That was fun. Now for all the stuff McCain lied about:
*McCain claimed that Henry Kissinger does not support high-level talks with Iran without pre-condition. He totally does. He said so on CNN. Scroll about 2/3rds of the way down the page or do an apple-f for "condition" and go to where Kissinger is speaking.
*McCain said earmarks have tripled in the last five years. They've actually decreased. Massive lie.
*Quote from McCain last night: "We are sending $700 billion a year overseas to countries that don't like us very much." The total number we send overseas is $536 billion, and about 1/3rd goes to Canada, Mexico and the United Kingdom. So, McCain is about $300 billion-plus off on this one. Much bigger than Obama's $19 billion confusion.
*McCain said he voted against sending marines to Lebanon in 1983 when he had just entered Congress. The vote to send marines to Lebanon took place two months before McCain was elected to Congress. Though he did oppose it, he never voted against it.
*Here's a big one. Not a lie, just really stupid: McCain said that Obama was "naive" and "didn't understand" the situation because he told both Russian and Georgia to cool it, instead of bitching out Russia all over television. It's stupid because McCain is just trying to characterize himself as this super-knowledgeable statesman who's been all over the world, and Obama's just a kid. There are many different approaches to take to dealing with foreign, potentially hostile nations, and I don't think anyone knows specifically what the right one is. To call it naive is just silly. Obama said essentially the same thing that the Bush Administration did! Aghhh...I'm actually taking the Bush Administration's side!
As a side note, isn't it rational to tell both sides to calm down, regardless of who the aggressor is? Does McCain not believe in the "I don't care who started it" approach to parenting? If McCain was a referee during the Pistons-Pacers brawl a few years ago, would he have said it's ok for Ben Wallace to go after Ron Artest because Artest hit him with a hard foul? No! The refs had to put a stop to ALL the violence. It's a perfectly applicable analogy, trust me.
*This one is kind of funny: McCain's been going around joking about how we're spending too much, and he cites $3 million dollars that went to a study looking at the DNA of bears. First of all, let me just point out that McCain was 17 when DNA was first modeled! Secondly, whether or not this study has any merit, John McCain failed to point out that he voted in favor of it.

Gah - so enraging. I'm angry just thinking about it. If you didn't get a chance to watch it, here's the full video below. Also, be sure to check out the University of Mississippi debate Mahalo page, with further articles and analysis.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Retirement Used to Mean Something

Back in the old country, when someone would say they were going to retire, they would usually have been at the same job for six decades and they'd be thrown a big to-do, after which the whole village would expect them to go back to their place of residence, knit for awhile and then die quietly.

My, oh my, how things change. I'm referring to the latest music news that 50 Cent's new album will be released on December 9, one week before Kanye's latest. Wasn't it just last year that 50 vowed to quit music if Kanye's Graduation sold more copies in its first week? Well, guess what Curtis...that's a wager you lost. At least Jay-Z had the chutzpah to wait a few years before dropping Kingdom Come.

My theory is that rappers just want to be athletes and are trying to mirror the duration of their careers. Listen up: Athletes have to retire around age 38. It's because their bodies are getting old and they can't keep up anymore and they've been beaten to a pulp so much that their frail, useless legs wouldn't last much longer on the field. There's no reason for a rapper to retire. The only thing that should force you into early retirement is a drive-by shooting.

It's strange. We have plenty of old rockers but very few old rappers. LL Cool J does Pepsi commercials, Diddy releases brilliant YouTube videos, and god only knows what the guys from Audio Two are doing. Still -- I think it's time for an old-school hip-hop resurgence, don't you?

Friday, September 19, 2008

Mahalo Sports Pages

Mahalo's sports team is really taking things up a notch. I thought I'd use a post to highlight some of the exciting things we're working on right now. To start with, our lovely remote guide Angie has been dutifully updating each week's College Football Scores as the games are played. It includes easy to read charts and are quite helpful.

ESPN's Monday Night Football has very exciting games in the pipeline this year, including match-ups between Denver and New England, and the Jets and Chargers this weekend. This past Monday's game between the Eagles and Cowboys was an instant classic (even though Philadelphia lost).

Mahalo also has some very detailed and impressive Sports How-To pages. Here is a great page for how to play tennis. Improve your technique and learn how to be a stronger player in this sport.

If you like what you see, head on over to our Sports category and subscribe to our RSS feeds.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Why "Make Good Content" Isn't All It Takes

SEO blogs usually give really great advice, the most prominent tip being to create great content. The idea is if you create only great content, you'll get tons of external links, thus increasing your position in Google. This does, essentially, work. However, the idea of "great content" is a little misleading. I would say "catchy content" or "oddball content" is more like it. For example, I could write an amazing blog post about deer populations in California, but if relatively few people are looking for it or it isn't engaging enough it is unlikely to get very many internal links, thus hampering my ability to be ranked for the search term "Deer Population in California." (As a test, I'll see where I land for this result in a few days).

As a counter to that example, should I write a fairly meaningless and unhelpful post that says "Top 10 Lindsay Lohan Side Boob Photos" I might get tons of links, even if the photos of massive ads between them and pop-ups all over the place and I'm using the photos without permission. That's why "good content" is such an amorphous term. Does "good" mean "helpful" to readers? If the reader wants Lindsay Side-Boob, then I suppose that is good. If "good" means "clean and ethical" then it isn't, and yet I'm still getting external links.

My advice would be to Make Great Content and Make People Want To Read It. Much easier said than done. People read what they want and ignore what they don't, no matter how useful it is.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

DeSean Jackson, Please Don't Ever Do That Again

I know it's only his second game in the NFL and all, but this is something you just have to know right from the beginning. Pretty much the first time you ever play football, your coach has to say "By the way, it's critical that you actually hang on to the ball until you're in the end zone. That's where the points are scored!"

Here's the video:

Monday, September 8, 2008

Hole in the Wall

God Bless the Fox Network for Hole in the Wall.

Make the shape? You get points. Get knocked in the pool? You get no points. That's it.

Entertainment? You've just been one-upped.