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Why I Worry About the 2008 Election

Recently I read this little story:

Back in the 1980s, Yosemite National Park was having a serious problem with bears: They would wander into campgrounds and break into the garbage bins. This put both bears and people at risk. So the Park Service started installing armored garbage cans that were tricky to open — you had to swing a latch, align two bits of handle, that sort of thing. But it turns out it’s actually quite tricky to get the design of these cans just right. Make it too complex and people can’t get them open to put away their garbage in the first place. Said one park ranger, “There is considerable overlap between the intelligence of the smartest bears and the dumbest tourists.”

The moral? Some people are dumb. The beauty and pain of this country is that they get to vote too. I hope for our sake that every smart person in the country gets out and votes.

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Watching the Debates Online Outside the US

Don’t live in the US? Then you are probably out of luck. Most video sites ban viewers from outside the US. For TV shows this is annoying but understandable due to “licensing constraints.” However, political debates are not property and those don’t fall under the licensing constraint umbrella. Here in Japan I found myself looking far and wide online to see the debates. Even YouTube wasn’t turning up reasonable results. Hulu and the like banning viewers outside the US is insidious. As an American citizen living abroad it is important to me that I can take part in the political discourse of my country— especially the presidential elections.

For anyone looking for a way to watch the debates outside of the US, try iTunes (search “presidential debate 2008”). You can download video podcasts of the debates from CBS. Thank you Apple and thank you CBS.

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Who is the Real Obama

As Jon Stewart pointed out on The Daily Show, the question we should be asking is— Who is Palin? We’ve had lots interviews, debates, a book, etc etc that help us know Obama. We have next to nothing about Palin. The McCain campaign has kept Palin hidden behind a curtain. We’ve heard so little from her of content from her that it scares me. When she has spoken it’s been vacuous, vague, or pointless folky chit-chat. I want to know more about a woman that could be president. I know plenty about Obama, as much as know about McCain anyway. Or should I say knew about McCain? McCain has changed since he began his last desperate attempt to become president. So there is another good question— who is McCain now?

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Palin Debate Flowchart

If you watched the Vice President debate you may have noticed that Palin didn’t really come off as convincing. Well, there is a reason for that. While both Palin and Biden are working from a script only one was able to supplement that with actual content and it wasn’t Palin. I don’t think Biden knocked anyone’s socks off, but he didn’t away from Palin and addressed what she said directly while Palin only spoke of things tangentially related to what the moderator or Biden spoke about. So here it is, fresh from some guy’s website, the Palin Debate flowchart:

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Giuliani is Either a Liar or an Idiot

CNN.com is reporting that presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani has said “We can end illegal immigration. I promise you, we can end illegal immigration.” Clearly that is not possible. If a much smaller country like England, which is on its very own island, can’t stop illegal immigration what hope does a much larger country with expansive shared borders have? This claim is scary because it shows that Rudy is either a liar, inexcusably arrogant, or so completely clueless that he thinks this is possible. Take your pick.

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