Friday, June 26, 2009

Free Iran Recap - Freedom Via Internet

Since the election in Iran on the 12th of June, information about the protests and brutal government crackdowns has flowed in via the internet, particularly social media sites, and specifically Twitter. Twitter was the first place to provide information about the protests as the media largely missed the story in the beginning. Now the flow of information out of Iran has slowed due to massive arrests and violent government oppression. Along with the slowing of information, the main stream media's attention has been diverted. Yet this remains a topic that deserves continued public attention. People are fighting for their freedom under unimaginable conditions.

Here is a recap of some of the videos, stories, and information that has come out of Iran along with the role technology has played...

Total Oppression Versus Open Communication in Iran
In an early show of force students were beaten in their dorm rooms, and their rooms were trashed, computers and the like destroyed. Angered by the brutal beat downs, many professors at Tehran University protested by resigning. Hospital workers who treated the students, also disgusted by the government’s brutality, went on strike the following day to protest the students’ treatment.

Foreign media was banned, journalists have been jailed. Due to the crackdown, citizen journalism virtually the only way the story is getting to the rest of the world.

Iranian government claims that death of Neda was staged by the opposition. They prevent any form of public mourning for both Neda and the many others killed in the protests.

Soccer Team Members who wore green armbands during a game are permanently banned from the sport.

British representatives expelled from the country.

Special courts established for trying arrested protesters.

Mass show of force and violent suppression of peaceful protests continue.

Videos: The first video shows the death of Neda a young Iranian woman who has come to symbolize the Free Iran movement. She was shot while simply watching the protests, and reportedly died by her father's side. Be warned that the first two videos are very graphic and disturbing. The third video, while somewhat less graphic, but is also quite disturbing.

*VERY GRAPHIC* Young Lady Dies on Streets of Iran

*Very Graphic* Video of Iran Protests and Man Badly Beaten

Shooting of Iranian Students Caught on Camera

Massive Show of Force on Streets of Iran

Video of voter fraud in Iranian Election

June 20 Iran Protesters Face Off with Police

Crowds During June 20th Protests

Riot Police Attack Protesters in Iran

Video Showing Scope of Iranian Protests

This Week's Articles:

This week a violent beat down of protesters was under reported as the flow of information slows. CNN and the AP both had reports on this brutality...

AP Reports Iran Security Forces Again Beat Down the Opposition Protesters

Distraught woman describes the brutality to CNN, Reports of Brutal Crackdown In Iran

Article's Prior to the June 20th Protests

Concern About Khamenei’s Statements

Arrests and Protests Continue in Iran

American’s Practical Support of A Free Iran

Articles About the Role of the Internet in post-Election Iran

Twitter Changing the Playing Field In Iran and For Totalitarianism
One of my first thoughts on seeing Twitter being used by Iranians following their elections was, ‘Imagine if they had Twitter during Tienanmen Square.’ Totalitarian regimes historically thrive, in large measure, by controlling the media and modes of communication. Would be protesters become isolated. Government propaganda simply spins any protest or event into something that reflects well on the regime in power.

Following Iran Elections on Twitter – A Lesson in Freedom and Technology
Google Farsi - English Traslator: Google launches Farsi - English translator Thursday night/Friday morning. A hugely helpful tool that aids communication, and understanding of news directly from Iran.

Cable and Network News relying on Twitter: Saturday the 20th, with a government imposed blackout of foreign media CNN and others have to rely on citizen journalists along with Twitter and other social media sites to gather news. Protests are scheduled even though Ayatola Khamenei has made statements that suggest a possibly violent crackdown on protesters. Reports of tear gas used and armed police barricades used to disperse crowds.

Students Shot on Camera: A tweet linked to this video of Iranian students being shot

A graphic YouTube video of a woman's death (Neda) becomes a symbol of the movement. Trending topic on Twitter is #Neda as references to the video, and her life show how moved people were by her tragic death.

Mousavi Facebook post:
Through a post on Facebook it has been reported that Mir-Hossein Mousavi has stated that he is "ready for martyrdom."

Embassies Take Wounded Iranians: Word spreads quickly on June 20th that many European embassies are taking care of wounded Iranians. These embassies along with their address/directions were also diseminated through Twitter. The safety of the hospitals is in question, and the Canadian embassy is pressured (via use of Twitter) to open its embassy too, yet embassy remained closed on Saturday.

Iran Elections and the Internet
An interesting subplot to the Iranian elections is that the internet is providing people more information than major news networks...Dear CNN, Please Check Twitter for News About Iran

Since writing about the Twitter Effect in Iran, and the role of the Internet as a whole, I have also been interviewed on radio and TV. For more info on appearances, please visit the Broad Side of the Barn.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Twitter, Iran, and Cracking the Totalitarian Model

One of my first thoughts on seeing Twitter being used by Iranians following their elections was, 'Imagine if they had Twitter during Tienanmen Square.' Totalitarian regimes historically thrive, in large measure, by controlling the media and modes of communication. Would be protesters become isolated. Government propaganda simply spins any protest or event into something that reflects well on the regime in power.

Yet now there is Twitter, other social networks, and the internet at large. It's wise for Tweeters and others to understand that the deck is still stacked against those protesting the election. The Iranian government still controls the media, and in a textbook totalitarian move they have banned foreign press. While members of the Twitter community have set up proxy servers for people in Iran to use, the government has shut down known internet connections, which means that in all likelihood a large majority of Iranians are only hearing the official government version of events.

Yet protests continue and news spreads in large part due to Twitter and the internet. This is not something past totalitarian regimes have had to deal with. There are enough Iranians using Twitter (or other forms of communication) to organize that protests continue. The government has not been able to implement complete control. Hopefully those watching, participating, and following #iranelection on Twitter recognize that there is a definite possibility that this ends very badly as totalitarian regimes are also brutal. The reality is that what results from this is wholly a guess, but it changes the playing field and gives voice to those who previously had none. Person to person communication tools change the dynamic shifting, at least some of the power to the people, and puts a crack in structure of totalitarianism.


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Twitter Changing the Playing Field In Iran and For Totalitarianism

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Free Us Now Radio Featured Guest, Author Katherine Morrison

Featured Radio Presentation

Monday Night May 4th soROARity
Katherine J. Morrison
"Author of An Independent Call"

Free Us Now guest, Katherine Morrison wrote a book about the 2008 presidential election. The book entitled An Independent Call, chronicles the journey of an Independent New Hampshirite from wary observer of town hall meetings to eventual McCain supporter and volunteer. It is an amusing look at the events of a campaign. From meeting candidates from both sides of the aisle, to becoming a blogger for McCain, to being chewed out on campaign phone calls, to receiving press credentials for the Republican National Convention, this account relates the experience of being a participant at the lowest level politics from an outsider's perspective. A mix of good humor and political opinion from the middle.

Rockingham NH County Commissioner, Maureen Barrows, recommends An Independent Call stating that it is- "A must read for anyone interested in the day to day life of a volunteer in a political campaign-attention to detail is brilliant."
No radio needed The Free Us Now Radio show is online - If your computer is down no problem call on the phone and hear the entire show right on the phone- Please come! Monday 10 PM eastern/ Bring your questions.
Call-in 347 539-5420.

Event: Free Us Now Radio Show
Host: BettyJean Kling
Start Time: Monday, at 10:00pm
End Time: Monday, at 11:30pm
Call-in:  347 539-5420

Simple Twitter Tips/Tools for Beginners

These tips are written by someone who was at first reluctant to use twitter. From my view if you were someone intersted in tweets about my need to go to the post office, then I probably didn't want you following me anyway. Yet what I was missing was how useful a tool and resource twitter can be. First following people with like interests creates a stream of tweets that often contains useful info. Twitter also provides a quick and easy way to get your own info out people with like interests. If you have 'followers' and are 'following' others simply asking a question or mentionaing a task can result in someone responding to that tweet with helpful information. Hash tags, words preceded by the # sign, provide an easy way to follow particular topics, and are used by some for a more advanced twitter applications.

So the first step is to build a following with people of like interests. This is easiest if you're interested in tech topics as you are certainly not alone, yet it can be done can be done for most any topic. Monitter allows you to type in three keyword and follow tweets in real time. Tweets of interest can lead you to a person's profile page where you can choose to follow that person if so interested. Probably the simplest way to find others with similar interests is to use Twitter search as it is better at finding people by topics than the 'find people' page. Also, there are plenty of lists online of people using twitter. These lists can be found easily via standard search engine. Some lists focus on a topic, others tell you who is likely to 'follow you back.' These lists are numerous and helpful in creaing a relevant following. A quick look at twitter vocabulary will also help newbies get up to speed. Finally, be useful, be relevant, be polite, and you may end up liking twitter more than you ever thought possible.

Also check out 10 Ways to be useful on Twitter

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Neilson Ratings Raise Questions About the Future of Twitter But Misses Key Points

Internet News article Is Twitter a Fad? Nielsen Says It Just Might Be discusses whether Neilson stats that show a low retention rate indicate a bleak future for Twitter.
Twitter certainly has all the trapping of an Internet fad. Exorbitant media coverage. Celebrity endorsement. Ballooning traffic numbers. And, according to a new analysis from Nielsen Online, a weak retention rate.

By Nielsen's reckoning, more than 60 percent of Twitter users in a given month don't return to the site the following month.

Given the outsize hype surrounding the microblogging service, it's easy to imagine uninitiated Internet users setting up a Twitter account to see what all the fuss is about, sending off a tweet or two, and then, their curiosity satisfied, moving on to other, less diversionary online activities.

It isn't stated if reported drop in retention rate takes into consideration that many people use Twitter without visiting the site. Applications like Tweet Deck and others are used by many to post their tweets. Second, the article focuses on the celebrity element of Twitter. The logic that the following of celebrities via Twitter may drop off is strong. How many people will really retain interest in whether their favorite celebrity is about to eat a ham sandwich? Yet this misses what is compelling about Twitter. Twitter in is rather simplistic and open. This allows people to create twitter application, or use twitter applications for numerous purposes. Twitter can be used for both organization and as an alert system. It can be fun with freinds or used for personal promotion. There likely will be those whose participation drops off as they tire of either celebrity posts or tweeting about their daily chores, yet for people who are plugged in (and some no so plugged in) it is not only a handy tool, but watching what develops from Twitter in the future will be interesting to see.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Search Strategy and Self Promotion

This post is a combination of helpful search strategy combine with a bit of blatant self promotion. I've been promoting my book by increasing my sites/links visibility. One of the main ways of raising ones position in the search engines is by increasing links to ones blogs/sites. Similarly if there is news online that one believes important providing links to that news page is the best way for that article to receive traffic, both from direct sources, and through search engines.

One of the things that has become clear, is that last election McCain got crushed in terms of linking and search. Conservatives are now doing well in Twitter, but if there isn't more linking and more use of apps that help increase links, next election cycle conservatives will again be at a disadvantage. Search is critical to anyone who wants to win people over on a topic, and anyone who wants to win over undecideds.

The following is a list of my pages on several of these (for a lack of a better word) 'link enhancing' sites. This is sort of a mix of infomation and personal promotion. I'm definitely looking to network more and have the articles on the listed pages promoted/voted on, but I also think it would be very helpful for bloggers, or any active web user, to sign up for these sites.

I'd suggest people add a page to their blogs like this one - On the Web that lets others find their pages. Almost all have a 'share' element and it is good for people to connect with each other within these online communities. Some are probably a given, but some may be to new to many..

kmorrison - Twitter

kmorrison - Digg

Kmorrison - Reddit

kmorrison - MySpace

kmorrison55 - delicious

kmorrison - Friend Feed

kmorrison - Mister Wong

kmorrison - Mixx

kmorrison - BlinkList

kmorrison - BlogCatalog

kmorrison - Yahoo Buzz Up

kmorrison - Faves

kmorrison55 - Stumble Upon

kmorrison33 - Propeller

Friday, April 24, 2009

Bipartisanship Grade

The AP article 'Obama Bipartisanship Push Has Mixed Success' does a decent job at summarizing the attempts at bipartisanship in the first 100 days of the Obama presidency. This was a hallmark of the Obama campaign a deserves scutiny as it was a large part of what supporters claimed made, then candidate Obama, such an agent of change.

So as an unrepentant McCain supporter, in my view there are three categories to focus on - foreign policy, economic policy, and practicle politics.

In foreign policy, right off the bat he wins big points for keeping Robert Gates on as Secretary of Defense. Robert Gates has proven that he is a pro, and while he doesn't appear to be someone who seeks accolades, he is someone who deserves them. Also a positive, his policy on Iraq and Afghanistan seem quite reasonable. Overall he's appointed competent and not wildly political representatives to foreign policy positions, and one has to respect that. On the negative side, meeting with Hugo Chavez along with that goofy book exchange was not impressive. The rhetoric in Europe about America being arrogant could be problematic and appeared rather partisan. Yet he did win the election, and neither event is a real departure from what he campaigned on.

A hot topic right now is how to handle the 'enhanced interogation/torture' issue. While the Obama administration has fumbled this issue a bit, in the end they score big points in taking a forward looking stance. This is said as someone who believes that the U.S. should not torture, and should hold the Geneva Convention's definition of torture as the standard. The problems with investigations, along with the threat of prosecutions, are numerous. A huge one is that this has the potential to damage the CIA and its operatives. This is a vital institution, and its members do an important and often thankless job. Degrading their capabilities and membership in what is likely to be a highly partisan, endless series of hearings is not good for the CIA or the country. If the Obama adminstration chose to go after the Bush administration on this issue they would have betrayed their campaign manta of 'change.' It appears they are standing up to the left, and therefor their grade for for foreign policy bipartisanship is A-.

Economic Policy: Unfortunately, there has been virtually no attempt to be bipartisan on economic issues. Granted the Obama adminstration was likely handicapped by the leadership of their own party like Nancy Pelosi, who said about the stimulus bill, "We won the election, we wrote the bill." Comments from Harry Reid that he doesn't work for President Obama likely have made attempts at bipartisanship more difficult. Yet one particularly disappointing moment from President Obama was when he gave a highly partisan speech to Democrats about the stimulus bill. If President Obama had made more of an effort to be bipartisan on fiscal matters the Tea Party protests would likely have not been nearly as successful as they were. There is a growing concern from regular Americans that there is simply too much government spending, and too much government involvement in business an economic matters. The Obama adminstrations best defense to this is that President Bush started many of these policies. That's true but the buck stops at Obama now, and his spending is eclipsing the previous administration (who didn't do much to champion fiscal conservatism) by a long shot. The Obama administrations economic bipartisanship grade, D.

Finally, how well is the Obama administration doing in general at being bipartisan? One positive, they didn't hang Senator Lieberman out to dry for supporting Senator McCain as some feared might happen. A negative, as mentioned in the AP article, in a very partisan move they stirred the pot by announcing that Rush Limbaugh was the head of the Republican party. They appeared to enjoy the turmoil it created amonst prominent Republicans and kept the Limbaugh banter going for quite some time. They may have scored political points off of this, but they also revealed themselves players of what was often reviled in the campaign as 'old school politics.' President Obama has kept bipartisanship on the table as a goal, but the actions don't quite fit the rhetoric and he hasn't shown leadership in this area. Yet again noting that he is likely receiving pressure from members of his own party to be more partisan there is still hope for a more bipartisan tact in the White House and in Washington. His grade for general bipartisanship C.

There is room for improvement, but he should be given credit for not being either wrecklessly partisan, particularly on foreign policy, or succuming to the desires of some in his party to become angry and backward looking. There is quite some concern about how far left economic policies will go, and that Republicans have been excluded from the process. Yet all hope is not lost. President Obama is very popular, and if he choses, he still has the opportunity to be a bipartisan president. The ball is in his court.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Conservative or Radical?

Tea Party protesters won a victory today as the mainstream media could not ignore their protests like they have in the past. As expected some of the media described the protesters as radicals (ever-classy and most-trusted Anderson Cooper of CNN used an obscene joke to describe the attendees) despite the pictures showing peaceful gatherings of people of all ages in attendance. Yet media logic dictates if you don't love Obama, you must be crazy.

Yet it's not just the media searching for crazy. A report was leaked by DHS on "Rightwing Extremism." To quote the report,
Rightwing extremist chatter on the Internet continues to focus on the economy, the perceived loss of U.S. jobs in the manufacturing and construction sectors, and home foreclosures.

Dang it, I'm a radical. There were signs, once in high school I got a detention for a overdue library book; even back then I was bad. My internet chatter about obscene government spending has all been a clever ploy to manipulate my readers to take radical action like, 'vote the bums out,' or 'tell your representatives what you think.' I tell you I'm bad, and if I didn't have a job or a cold I would have been one of those crazy tea party animals too. You need further proof that I'm a radical? How about this...
Rightwing extremist views bemoan the decline of U.S. stature and have recently focused on themes such as the loss of U.S. manufacturing capability to China and India, Russia’s control of energy resources and use of these to pressure other countries, and China’s investment in U.S. real estate and corporations as a part of subversion strategy.

Well there you have it. I'm concerned that China owns us, and all our debt, I must be a radical. Granted, I'm a centrist on guns and immigration, and lean a bit left on the social issues discussed in the report, but imagine my surprise to find out that I've been cavorting with other radicals over the past 2 years by volunteering for the McCain campaign. Pro-life, pro-second amendment, high concentration of veterans, don't let the good humor, sarcastic wit, family values, and helpful manner fool you - we were all a big bunch of radicals, just ask MSNBC.

Now I know there is a serious side to this report. Every group in every country has its nutballs, and its the governments main job to protect its citizens from radicals of all sorts. Yet this seems like a veiled attempt to blur the line between staunch conservatives and radical Klan-like groups, when in reality that is a very clear and distict line. Veterans in particular are owed an apology for their less than flattering portrayal in this report. As for me, I'm going to keep chattering about the economy, and take pride in the fact that someone out there thinks I'm radical.

You May Be A Radical Too...

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

NH Independent and McCain Veteran

Excerpt from An Independent Call the story a New Hampshire Independent McCain Supporter

Finally, on a more upbeat note, one trait that Senator McCain shares with a good number of his fellow veterans is a wicked sense of humor. While I’d like to say that my rationale for voting McCain was all high minded, I have to admit his sense of humor roped me in in the beginning. It’s probably part of the reason I enjoyed so many of the events with veterans; I’m sure there are veterans out there that lack a sense of humor, but overall I found them quite fun to be around.

During the general election I headed out to canvas a neighborhood with a veteran named Wes. He drove; I hopped out and knocked on the doors. We were canvassing Hampton Beach, a sort of unfortunate task in late Fall to early Winter, since not a lot of people stay at their beach house when the temperature drops. The sheets given to guide us to the appropriate address were accompanied by a brief survey asking whether the occupant was home and whom they were supporting for the different elected offices. The numbering of houses and condos on these sheets could be hard to follow, as locations were not necessarily listed in numerical order. Condo complexes could be particularly difficult to figure out. For instance, 5 Ocean Boulevard unit 16 could be a different page from 5 Ocean Boulevard unit 14, and unit 15 would simply not be on the list at all. The other problem was that you often had to be allowed or buzzed into many of these condo complexes. This basically meant looking for condos, routinely unoccupied due to the season that, even if occupied, could not be accessed. Consequently, we’d just drop a stack of literature on their doorstep, which will likely be picked up sometime this coming June.

So in the process of trying to locate a particular address on Ocean Boulevard, Wes backed his car up right into a pole. Looking down, arranging literature at the time, I was startled at the hit and said, ‘Ooo!’ and looked over at Wes. Thinking, this can’t be good we both hopped out of the car and took a look at his bumper. There was a new yellow stripe down the back side of his car and he said, “Ah, it’s just paint.” Relieved that it wasn’t too serious and that the damage didn’t trouble Wes, we hopped back into the car, and started trying to figure out where our next stop was. As we headed forward we spotted the house number of the next stop; Wes hit the brakes and his coffee flew off the dashboard, hitting me in the arm and soaking my left side. This time Wes looked stunned as I sat there looking at my sweater covered in coffee. “Well, it’s not hot,” I said. He handed me towels and clearly felt badly that I was wearing his drink. I had a t-shirt on under the sweater, so I hopped out of the car again, rung out the sweater and dried it off as best I could with some towels, put it back on, and hopped back into the car. While I smelled of coffee all day, the sweater was dark so it didn’t really matter.

We got through the rest of the doors without much incident, but had trouble finding one particular side street. Finally, we found the tiny narrow street in question; we headed down to the end where we eventually spotted the number of the home on a trashcan outside of a sliding glass door. I got out, knocked on the door, and a young guy, who apparently had just woken up, and was wearing a pair of old boxers and a t-shirt opened the door, saying nothing.

‘Hi, I’m a volunteer with the McCain campaign, and…’

‘No,’ he said and he shut the door and went back to bed.

I got back in the car and said, “Obama.”

As we started to head out of the narrow street I looked back, and Wes said, “Don’t worry, I won’t hit anything… …I saw you watching.”

“Well, I wasn’t going to say anything.”

On the way back to the office he said, “You did a good job.”

“Thanks. You too…”

“Except for the pole.”

“Well that and the coffee, but other than that you did a good job.”

Veteran's Good Humor

Sunday, April 12, 2009

In The Beginning It was Curiosity

Excerpt from An Independent Call the amusing story of a New Hampshire McCain supporter.

In the beginning I just thought I’d go see the different candidates at the campaign events in New Hampshire. Four years prior, not long after I moved to New Hampshire from Massachusetts, my sister was volunteering for Senator Kerry’s campaign. She’s a loyal and active Democrat; our parents are Republicans. We talked on the phone after the Iowa caucuses when Howard Dean screamed during his concession speech. She hadn’t heard it called the ‘I have a Scream Speech’ yet, and I said that I felt for him. I figured if I were in politics that would be the sort of thing that would take me out. It wouldn’t be scandal or corruption; I’d simply do something so embarrassing that no one would take me seriously again.

My sister told of a news clip she had just seen of a woman who had met Senator Kerry, then fainted. The video looked like a shot from the Wizard of Oz with Senator Kerry standing over a pair of feet. I was starting to realize that I had missed quite a show by not attending Primary events, so I simply thought this time it would be interesting to see. I certainly had no plans of picking a candidate early, and no interest in joining a campaign. I thought it might give me something to write about on my website, but basically I was just curious.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Here's Something

A few good articles and a few good sites, a bit of random information...

A McCain supporter has recently released a book about the 2008 election. It includes stories of McCain veterans and provides a perspective on Independent NH.

Maine Tool Room in Scarborough, Maine is featuring a line of double reed 'gouger' products. These include,
Hunt / Van Hoesen and Pfeiffer Bassoon Blades and Hunt / Van Hoesen Bassoon Profilers.

John Masiz is the founder of BioChemics, VasoActive and

Monday, April 6, 2009

Credible Journalism

Since much of today's media has such a blatant school-girl crush on President Obama, it is important to not only point out the shmoes who can't resist telling America that President Obama gives them a, 'thrill up their leg;' it is also important to point out those few journalists who are credible. National Review did this in their article Jake Tapper Isn't Letting Go. The article not only points out that ABC's Jake Tapper was virtually the only network journalist willing to write an article critical of then candidate Obama, but also that he is now pretty much the only one willing to ask Press Secretary Gibbs a tough question during White House briefings. For many Tapper was the first to show Robert Gibbs as a sub-par press secretary when Gibbs refused to take Tapper's questions about transparency seriously, as shown in the clip below. National Review did all of us who are fed up with the over-the-top media bias a service by not only highlighting Tapper as a solid competent member of the media, but also by reminding us that one can't just complain about those who do a poor job, and that it may be even more important that we applaud and encourage those who are competent than it is to gripe about those whose bias is so obsurd and obvious.

Recognizing a Professional Journalist - Katherine Morrison

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Obama Owns the Budget and the Economy

With an Obama stimulus package, and an Obama omnibus spending bill already passed, and now the a huge Obama budget working its way through the Congress, Politico notes that President Obama owns this budget, and hence the economy. Fierce fights may follow budget victory.
The House and Senate face a flurry of final budget votes Thursday, with Republicans pushed to the margins and having come forward only in the past 24 hours with a detailed alternative of their own.

But the victory for President Barack Obama could prove hollow, especially in the Senate, and Republicans are betting that the president’s very activism will work against him as he takes ownership of more and more difficult economic issues.

“This is a defining moment, and there is overwhelming empathy with folks who are scared to death about the direction this country is going,” Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) told POLITICO. “All of a sudden, you have the president taking over General Motors, the president taking over the financial industry and now the health care industry? I think there will be even a larger outcry coming from our constituents at the ballot box next time.”

Some of this nervousness already seemed evident Wednesday night in a Senate fight over how to proceed on Obama’s climate change legislation. On two successive votes, one as large as 67-31, a solid bipartisan coalition blocked efforts by liberal environmental interests wanting to use expedited budget procedures to circumvent Senate filibuster rules on cap-and-trade revenue provisions.

The defeat raises the stakes further for health care reform as the big remaining prize for the White House in the budget debate. And to a remarkable degree, Obama has been willing to blur the lines between himself and fellow Democrats to help move the process forward with this goal in mind.

Obama Owning the Budget and the Economy

Monday, March 30, 2009

Obama Budget Doubles Deficit in 5 Years Triples it in 10

Senator Lindsey Graham talked with bloggers today about President Obama’s budget plan. In short, spending is going way up in all areas except for military and defense spending, which will be cut. For President Obama’s budget to add up he has to take an extremely rosy view of the future. His administration is betting that unemployment will peak this year at a little over eight percent, and they are predicting a substantial economic recovery for next year. His view of the current world situation is also extremely optimistic, as he sees little need for spending on military and defense. Unfortunately, there are logistical problems in taking this perspective since, as Senator Graham put it, “We are flying the wings off our airplanes.” Finally, President Obama has included in his budget a plan for cap and trade that Senator Graham explained is far more costly than the McCain - Lieberman - Warner versions of cap and trade that have been introduced and debated in the past. Senator Graham stated that this is old fashion big government liberalism. He went on to say that in 2007 Senator Obama was ranked the most liberal Senator, and that his policies reflect that, that he simply took a year off from liberalism to run for President.

The problem with all this government spending is three fold. We can’t afford it. The likelihood of massive inflation is extremely high. We are burdening tax payers for generations to come with a huge debt that will almost certainly lead to higher taxes. (The fact China owns a huge amount of our debt is not comforting either.) This isn’t as much about partisanship, or liberalism as it is about bad math. Debts have to be paid, and the numbers are being manipulated to try to pretend that this plan adds up when it does not.

Obama Budget Doubles Deficit in 5 Years Triples it in 10

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

New Release from New Hampshire McCain Volunteer

An Independent Call chronicles the journey of an Independent New Hampshirite from wary observer of town hall meetings to eventual McCain convert and volunteer. It is an amusing look at the events of a campaign. From meeting candidates from both sides of the aisle, to becoming a blogger for McCain, to being chewed out on campaign phone calls, to receiving press credentials for the Republican National Convention, this account relates the experience of being a participant at the lowest level politics from an outsider's perspective. A mix of good humor and political opinion from the middle.

More details at Broad Side of the Barn.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Pro-Growth is Most Fair Option

Unfortunately, many in America are losing track of the logistics of the economy and are getting caught up in emotion. People are angry about bailouts and white collar crooks running ponzi schemes and are becoming resentful towards big business and the wealthy. Yet we risk losing site of the real goal of turning the economy around when emotion and arguments about fairness start start trumping logic and math. The reason not to raise taxes on the rich, businesses, and capital gains is not because one loves, hates, or feels indifferently about wealthy people. The reason not to raise taxes on those of means is because they are the ones able to create jobs, and invest in the businesses that are so desperately needed right now. The argument that the rich should pay more because that is what is fair ignores the fact that, particularly in a struggling economy, increasing taxes slows growth. Consequently economic recovery slows, and that is fair to no one. In reality when the economy slumps those just getting by pay check to pay check suffer the most. The rich may not be as rich as before, but they're still rich. Those being laid off and struggling to pay their bills are hurt the most in a prolonged recession, and implementing policies that hinder growth is not fair to anyone.

Also, small business owners are being grouped into the 'rich' category in an unfair manner. If a small business owner makes $250,000 a year that becomes a rather average income if he or she has to pay two to three employees salaries with that income. Also if they are trying to grow their business, it is likely a chunk of that income is being put right back into their business. That isn't the life of the highly privileged wealthy class. We'd be well served by taking the emotion and morality judgments out of economic policy, and simply look for policies that are pro-growth.

Larry Kudlow and Donald Luskin voice their frustration about the current policies that are anti-growth. Certainly, not unemotional in their criticism, they point out why a pro-growth strategy is simply the most fair economic strategy for all Americans.

Pro Growth is What is Truly Fair

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Presidet Obama's Address

There’s no denying that President Obama is one of the most eloquent politicians to come along in a long time. That was on display last night in his address to the joint session of Congress. The President put forth ideas that certainly show a shift in direction from the previous administration. It was nice to see energy and the environment move up the ladder of national priorities. The president also did a nice job in using his popularity with young people to tell them that he expects that they not only graduate high school, but further their education beyond high school, and he framed it well in terms of being a responsibility of citizenship.

What didn’t add up about the President’s speech was the math. President Obama laid out a number of ambitious goals one of which was cutting the national deficit in half by the year 2013. However, instituting programs such as national health care, making college accessible to all citizens, and instituting a cap and trade initiative on carbon emission is beyond ambitious when also trying to cut the deficit. With a huge stimulus package that just passed, a large appropriations bill about to come up for debate, and the possibly of more money needed for bailout plans, it seems highly unlikely that the national debt will do anything other than balloon even further. This isn’t just an issue of a theoretical debt that will some day have to be paid by the tax payer. This is a basic math problem that could negatively impact the economy for years to come. Government services take on an added appeal if the price tag is ignored, and a better explanation needs to be given of the cost to taxpayers before these programs are rubber stamped.

President Obama’s Address

Friday, February 20, 2009

Rewarding Bad Behavior

With the recent unveiling of the Obama administration's housing plan there is a growing concern that the government is promoting policies that reward bad behavior and punish good behavior. The housing plan is the latest policy where the government gives money to those who are in over there head. This is a somewhat more palatable policy than preceding bailouts as it focusses on helping the individual with mortgage problems. However, it is following a string of policies that that basically says 'if you screw up, the government is here to give you money.' Businesses and individuals that pay their bills and taxes on time are subsidizing those who don't. The housing plan isn't completely without merit, but this trend of government bailouts big and small is wearing on many as can be seen in this CNBC clip of Rick Santelli becoming fed up with the government rewards for bad behavior on the floor of the Chicago Stock Exchange...

Punishing Good Behavior

Thursday, February 5, 2009

$1,000,000,000,000.00 Government Bill

With the Economic Stimulus approaching the $1 trillion mark, lets look at what $1,000,000,000,000.00 equates to…

$1,597,444 check for all of the 626,000 people that have filed unemployment claims this month.

$227,272 check for all 4.4 million people collecting unemployment benefits.

$333.33 check for every American man, woman, and child.

It would take a worker making $50,000 a year 20 million years to earn $1 trillion.

If ever ticket of every home Red Sox home game at Fenway Park for the 2009 season was sold for $308,642.00 each that would equal $1 trillion.

The GDP of Mexico is just over $1 trillion.

The GDP of India is also just over $1 trillion.

The combine GDP of the following countries is approximately $1 trillion…

Uruguay, Lebanon, Yemen, Uzbekistan, North Korea, Cyprus, Estonia, Ethiopia, Cameroon, Trinidad and Tobago, Ivory Coast, Panama, El Salvador, Tanzania, Equatorial Guinea, Iceland, Bahrain, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macau, Jordan, Bolivia, Ghana, Brunei, Paraguay, Gabon, Zambia, Uganda, Senegal, Botswana, Honduras, Burma, Albania, Jamaica, Republic of the Congo, Georgia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Afghanistan, Nepal, Armenia, Cambodia, Mozambique, Madagascar, Republic of Macedonia, Chad, Mali, Malta, Burkina Faso, Mauritius, Namibia, Haiti, Benin, The Bahamas, West Bank and Gaza, Nicaragua, Papua New Guinea, Moldova, Niger, Laos, Jersey, Kyrgyzstan, Liechtenstein, Mongolia, Tajikistan, Aruba, Zimbabwe, Montenegro, Guinea, Malawi, Rwanda, French Polynesia, Fiji, Barbados, Mauritania, New Caledonia, Kosovo, Togo, Suriname, Swaziland, Guam, Guernsey, Isle of Man, Somalia, Central African Republic, Sierra Leone, Cape Verde, Faroe Islands, Greenland, Lesotho, Eritrea, Belize, Bhutan, Maldives, Guyana, Antigua and Barbuda, Gibraltar, San Marino, Saint Lucia, Djibouti, Liberia, Burundi, British Virgin Islands, The Gambia, Seychelles, Grenada, Northern Mariana Islands, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Vanuatu, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Comoros, Samoa, East Timor, Solomon Islands, Guinea-Bissau, Dominica, American Samoa, Tonga, Micronesia, Cook Islands, Palau, São Tomé and Príncipe, Marshall Islands, Anguilla, Kiribati, Tuvalu
If you'd like your political representatives to now what $1 trillion equates to, their contact info can be found at...
Senators -
Representatives -

Stimulating Math

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Stimulus Money for Beekeeper Insurance

Republican Challenges to Wasteful Stimulus Plan

Republican Senators put together an alternative stimulus package that has a much lower price tag than the current version of the stimulus bill, as the AP reports that the current plan tops $900 billion. The Republican alternative allows home owners to refinance their home mortgages at a low interest rate that will help the home owner and help stabilize home prices in general. This plan also provides more money for infrastructure projects than the current bill and cuts the payroll tax and the corporate tax to encourage economic growth and job creation. Also, it requires spending cuts once the economy has rebounded helping to limit the amount of future government debt. CNN reports not only that their is a this second bill, but moderates are also working on the current bill trimming the excess pork...
Some Republicans want to take it a step farther than their party's leaders. Ten Republican senators, including Sen. John McCain, want more funds -- almost $90 billion -- for infrastructure. They are shopping around a plan with a price tag of just under $500 billion.

"We can either fight the Democrat proposals, which would increase the deficit incredibly and mortgage our children's futures and not beneficially stimulate our economy, which we will do, in many respects. But we have to have a proposal of our own," said McCain, R-Arizona.

That version of the stimulus measure, put together by Florida Sen. Mel Martinez, is broader than the one proposed by GOP leadership, but narrower than the Democratic bill.

The group of Republicans met Tuesday to discuss their plan because they don't believe their leadership's approach, focusing exclusively on the housing crisis and tax cuts, is enough to jump-start the economy.

Another alternative that's getting a lot of attention is a bipartisan plan from Nebraska Democrat Ben Nelson and Maine Republican Susan Collins. The two moderate senators are looking at the current economic stimulus package and trying to scrub it of all spending that they say will not stimulate the economy.

One attempt to trim pork from the current bill was successful. An amendment passed sponsored by Tom Coburn that eliminated a $246 million dollar tax break for Hollywood movie companies.

Senator McCain has sponsored a petition protesting the current version of the stimulus bill...

Sign Vote No On The Stimulus Package Petition
Republican Senators Put Together Alternative Stimulus Package

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

John McCain Sponsors Petition Protesting Bloated Stimulus Plan

Senator McCain sent an email to supporters explaining his opposition to the current emergency economic stimulus package stating that...

Yesterday, the Senate began debate on an economic stimulus package that is intended to get our economy back on track and help Americans who are suffering through these difficult times. Unfortunately, the proposal on the table is big on the giveaways for the special interests and corporate high rollers, yet short on help for ordinary working Americans. I cannot and do not support the package on the table from the Democrats and the Obama Administration. Our country does not need just another spending bill, particularly not one that will load future generations with the burden of massive debt. We need a short term stimulus bill that will directly help people, create jobs, and provide a jolt to our economy.

He further explains the myriad of problems with this bloated stimulus package and asks for people to sign a petition to voice their disapproval of this bill.

Sign Vote No On The Stimulus Package Petition

John McCain Sponsors Petition Protesting Bloated Stimulus Plan

Friday, January 30, 2009

Americans Will Pay the Bill for Overloaded Stimulus Package

Rasmusen reports that support for the Emergency Stimulus plan is slipping. This is not surprising since the stimulus has been packed with pork, which by anyone's definition seriously stretches the meaning of emergency. Regular Americans know better than many politicians the basic fact that bills have to be paid, and this proposal leaves Americans holding the tab for a pile of pork. President Obama and House Republicans have shown some willingness to compromise, but the House bill that passed yesterday had not one Republican vote for it and 11 Democrats also oppose it for good reason. Just take a look at a few of the items in this bill that have been stuffed into this bill...

• $20 million “for the removal of small- to medium-sized fish passage barriers.”
• $400 million for STD prevention
• $25 million to rehabilitate off-roading (ATV) trails
• $34 million to remodel the Department of Commerce HQ
• $70 million to “Support Supercomputing Activities” for climate research
• $150 million for honey bee insurance

Cited from Earmarks In House Bill
Americans Will Pay the Bill for Overloaded Stimulus Package