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Geoffrey's Op-Eds (21)

Three Berlin Speeches

Obama's recent speech in Berlin has people making grand comparisons to two other very prominent Berlin speeches. Here are all three. First Kennedy, then Reagan, then Obama.

Kennedy's "Ich bin ein berliner" speech, June 26, 1963

Reagan's "tear down this wall" speech, June 12, 1987

Part 1…


Added by geoffrey on July 28, 2008 at 2:00pm — 1 Comment

Monday Humor: Obama Picks Senior Senator from Arizona as Running Mate

In a surprising and magnanimous overture towards bipartisanship, Presumptive Democratic Presidential Nominee Barack Obama shocked the world yesterday by announcing that he has chosen a Republican to join him on the ticket this Fall: Senior Senator from Arizona and Presumptive Republican Presidential Nominee John McCain. Speaking at a press conference in what some vertigo-stricken attendees thought may have been the twilight zone (but was… Continue

Added by geoffrey on July 14, 2008 at 10:30am — No Comments

Historical Party Control of the Legislative and Executive Branches

The Democrats took back both the house and the senate from the Republicans in 2006, but have failed to accomplish much of anything since doing so. Party leaders complain bitterly that without a sympathetic ear in the white house, control of the legislative branch is useless. Being a child of the early nineties (I remember them quite fondly), I always thought that feuding stalemate was the only state in which the executive and legislative branches related to each other. H.W. Bush fought a… Continue

Added by geoffrey on June 16, 2008 at 11:30am — 1 Comment

A Presidential Post-Mortem and the Myth of American Exceptionalism

If there is one dominant message to come out of the 2008 presidential primary season, I think it is that we can not wait to be done with George W. Bush. All the candidates, even the ones from his own party, criticize the president regularly, and with cause. The extent of the criticism is due in part to our need for a whipping boy, part to our zeal for criticism, and part to our mere frustration (and part because he deserves it). And while all these motivations for criticizing the president are… Continue

Added by geoffrey on May 29, 2008 at 6:32pm — 2 Comments

Military Credentials and the Presidency

Politicians often site military credentials as campaign assets, but does the former translate into the latter? And more importantly, does the former translate into quality political leadership? People are always running for president on their military credentials, so I thought I'd take a look and see what the data say about US presidents and their military records.

Wikipedia ranks all 42 US… Continue

Added by geoffrey on May 21, 2008 at 4:00pm — No Comments

George Bush is Shakespeare

T.S. Eliot famously argued that Hamlet was an artistic failure. To argue the point, Eliot borrowed from Philosophy the concept of an objective correlative and redeployed it in the service of literary criticism. In its original formulation, the objective correlative denotes the material manifestation of an idea-in-essence. I think this theory is little more than… Continue

Added by geoffrey on April 26, 2008 at 12:30pm — 1 Comment

Class Warfare and the Nation-State

Class conflict, having stayed pretty quiet since the exit of John Edwards from the democratic primary contest, was ushered back on center stage last week (following Barack Obama's allegedly divisive comments in San Francisco), and prodded to Sing! Sing! Sing!!!! The new issue in the media (and they thought spending eternity in Pennsylvania was only funny when it happened to Bill Murry) was gloriously (oxy)moronic: Is Obama too elitist to be president? This little query might have been… Continue

Added by geoffrey on April 21, 2008 at 11:00am — 3 Comments

Why are we in Iraq? And why will we leave?

A man is walking along the beach with his son and they come upon a wallet resting on the edge of the surf. The boy says to his father "we should take it." The father replies, "it's not ours." The boy responds "but if we don't take it, someone else will." The father says "No, if we don't take it, no one else will."

A different man is shopping in a convenience store. He goes to pay for his purchase. He finds the clerk missing, but a mess of change on the counter and a sign that says:… Continue

Added by geoffrey on April 15, 2008 at 8:30am — 1 Comment

Religion and the Freudian Drive

That religion in this country is intellectually out of fashion, or at very least, on its way out, is a notion, I think, irrefutable. In a recent study, Gross and Simmons report that only 35% of college professors at top universities believe in God and even fewer regularly attend religious services. Some may point to our current president or the prominent role religion plays in political issues (eg, abortion rights, gay rights, policy in the Middle East) and claim religion is as strong as ever,… Continue

Added by geoffrey on March 27, 2008 at 5:09pm — 5 Comments

Is Jon Stewart Just a Comedian?

Out of the small cross-section of the under thirty crowd that I know in America, all of them know and appreciate Jon Stewart. There is remarkably small variation on this point. It seems to me, that is, on my anecdotal experience, Jon Stewart enjoys the kind of universal appeal from under-thirty Americans now that the Beatles enjoy from living people always. As far as I know, Americans over thirty do not watch Jon Stewart. If they do, they don't tell me about it.

Americans… Continue

Added by geoffrey on March 25, 2008 at 7:00pm — No Comments

Environmental Impact and Us

Reading studies of world population growth and human impact on the environment, one quickly falls into fatalism and despair. A simple glance at population growth over time (an exponential relationship) suggests a harrowing conclusion: we were never supposed to get this big. For the first 99,850 years of human existence, human population never broached 1 billion people. In the last 150 years, we have grown from 1 billion to over 6 billion. You look at this trend, and you figure we couldn't help… Continue

Added by geoffrey on March 21, 2008 at 1:30pm — 1 Comment

A point for Professor Chomsky

Noam Chomsky, the critical leftist MIT linguistics professor and political thinker, though rarely optimistic about the political history of the United States, has said in his book Hegemony and Survival that the strength and size of the anti-war movement in the US prior to invading Iraq in 2003 was encouraging, given that there was virtually no similar contrarian movement launched prior to the Vietnam war. Chomsky cites the increased advanced opposition to war as a cheering development-… Continue

Added by geoffrey on March 17, 2008 at 7:31pm — No Comments

Nomination Math

I've been experimenting with possible delegate scenarios and want to share what I came up with. I designed 4 simulations for how the Democratic primary season may playout from here on in. For all 4 simulations, I use the delegate count as reported by realclearpolitics.com. Here are the results:

In the first simulation, I consider what will happen if the democratic party held redo primaries in Florida and Michigan. I assume both Clinton… Continue

Added by geoffrey on March 13, 2008 at 7:30pm — 1 Comment

Hybrids still make sense (even if the Wall Street Journal doesn't)

Last year, the Wall Street Journal argued that hybrid vehicles are still a money-loosing proposition. The crux of their argument was that the cost savings from gasoline is offset by expensive premiums for large battery packs and complicated transmissions. According to the WSJ, it takes 18 years to pay off the cost premium of a Prius in fuel-savings.

I'd like to check the WSJ's math. The… Continue

Added by geoffrey on March 7, 2008 at 12:30pm — No Comments

Thoughts on free trade

Free trade is a tricky subject for politicians running for office because the pragmatic thing to say about it during elections, if said, will only hurt the politician when she takes office. The reason is that during elections, one has to play to the immediate interests of a group of voters, though in so doing, ignore the long-term interests of the population as a whole. In particular, politicians demonize free trade during elections because it is a ready scapegoat for domestic… Continue

Added by geoffrey on March 6, 2008 at 5:30pm — No Comments

Should fiscal conservatives vote Republican?

Republican candidates for president like to remind the electorate that theirs is the party of low taxes and less government. "You can't trust the Democrats," Republicans say. "They'll raise your taxes and spend you into the ground." It's a very compelling argument- one I suspect scares swathes of the voting public to the Republican cause. But is it true?

Consider the following three graphs. First, I plot the income tax rate for the highest tax bracket in the U.S. over time. On the… Continue

Added by geoffrey on March 5, 2008 at 3:30pm — 2 Comments

A point about free speech

I'd like to respond to a point from the capetowndissentator. Him being a literary fellow, I’m sure the capetowndissentator would agree that the language we use to describe the world is crucially important. The edict from AP English teachers the world over still stands: Diction Matters. So, for example, when the feminists claim that misogynistic language perpetuates an inequitable social hierarchy (a deeply… Continue

Added by geoffrey on February 26, 2008 at 2:30pm — 1 Comment

House votes to stop being morons

A divided house of representatives narrowly approved a resolution Friday to end its nearly four-year-old policy of acting like idiots. “It was time,” said speaker of the house Nancy Pelosi. “We gave that policy (being morons) a shot, but we think sometime next year we should get back to making sense.” When asked when the American people could expect the new policy to take effect, Pelosi remarked “listen guys, if I had my way, we’d stop acting like idiots tomorrow.”

The legislation… Continue

Added by geoffrey on February 26, 2008 at 2:22pm — No Comments

Twilight of the Idols

There are two key jokes to this post. The first comes from an old political cartoon. A very old political cartoon. When George Washington was running for president, someone published a cartoon of Washington on a donkey being rope-lead by an aid towards D.C. The caption read "leading an ass to Washington." It passed for satire in the seventeen-hundreds.

The second joke comes from the sixties, as all fairy tales do. The gag was, during the Kennedy administration, to refer to… Continue

Added by geoffrey on February 26, 2008 at 1:35pm — No Comments

The Second Materialism

I’ll tell you who I like- Madonna. That woman can sing. So catchy. And poignant. God, is she poignant. “I’m living in a material world, and I am a material girl.” Madonna must have been reading all the trade journals, because never a truer thing was said of our modern age.

I think Madonna was singing about material wealth- that’s the materialism she meant. She noticed the creeping desire for material possessions infecting our greedy American… Continue

Added by geoffrey on February 26, 2008 at 1:30pm — No Comments

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