March 31, 2009

I didn’t want my first post “back” to be a simple cut and paste, but …

Filed under: Politics — HighStakesBlog @ 7:05 pm

As the son of a journalist and the former editor of the award-winning and esteemed Wittenberg Torch (I could barely type that with a  straight face), I have rather strong views on the newspaper business as you saw in a previous post.  On top of personal experiences, I consider myself a Jeffersonian and the concept of a Fourth Estate is something I consider paramount (when properly executed).  Sadly, I am somewhat resigned to the fate of both the craft/art of journalism and the newspapers that used to be the bastion of journalistic excellence.  But from time-to-time an article, blog or Op-Ed still resonates and forces me to pay attention.  Below is just such a piece.  Tell me.  Are this guy and I the only ones who care?

White House press corps serves mostly as backdrop

Tuesday,  March 31, 2009 2:57 AM

Excuse me, but I am a potted plant. Well, at best an extra, who has been sent over by Central Casting to fill in the numbers.I am not alone. At least 350 other potted plants, also known as White House reporters, gathered in the East Room last week to watch what the White House itself called “the program.”

The thing was concocted, stage-managed and went off well enough, given that the White House press office had wrung anything like spontaneity out of it. It was indeed as they had billed it: a program in which President Barack Obama took his time to respond at length to some really bland and uninspired questions, posed by largely the same people –from the television networks plus the Associated Press — who are called upon daily in press secretary Robert Gibbs’ briefings.

At those briefings, the rest of us sit there in our potting soil. We wave our arms in the hope we might be recognized toward the end of a long, rambling session that seems more like the press secretary chatting with his pals who have seats assigned in the front.

Keep this up and reporters morph into courtiers, which serves neither the larger purposes of democracy nor the specific strategies of the administration. At some level, it is also very insulting to the large number of reporters who ply the journalism trade in Washington.

Clearly, the White House is defining reporters by where they work rather than what they do. This is an inversion, lacking in understanding of the realities of the media craft.

The truth is that newspapers trump television every time when it comes to original reporting. Their nature and tradition makes it that way. Television — and I have worked in it and contemporaneously with print for many years — is the friend of the instant and the enemy of the profound.

The written word, not the broadcast one, is the beacon of liberty. It is durable, more accountable and requires more coherence than its powerful but fleeting electronic cousin.

It is neither right nor possible for the White House to balance out the competing claims for the right to question the president or the press secretary. The solution lies in the past: The right to question should go to eager questioners, whose earnest cries rise above a forest of hands.

It is messy, but it works. Actually, 350 people shouting Mr. President is an affirmation of a free press rather than the pre-selection of an elite with a predictable roster of questions — usually right out of that day’s newspapers.

The old free-for-alls, where the president or the briefer selected from a clamoring throng, was disorderely, noisy and rather glorious in that the world could see how open the media is in the United States. As it is now, it appears scripted even though the questions are composed only by the reporters — I hope.

Sure, the open system looks and sounds like feeding time at the animal shelter. But most of us would rather be seen jumping for attention than sitting around like plotted plants, honored to be allowed in but with nothing to do except fill out the numbers. Heck, you can do that with computer animation.

This administration gives every indication that it is enthralled by new media: Web-only publishing and bloggers. If it is to include their interests, it has to stop its rigid press handling and free things up in the interface between the White House and those who report on it.

The alternative is the kind of quota system that was emerging last week, designed to mollify those who were upset after Obama’s first press conference: the military press, the Hispanic broadcasters and, in concession to new media, Politico, which tries to be both print and Web.

Personally, I do not like shouting questions in crowded “programs.” I am quite relaxed as a potted plant.

Llewellyn King is executive producer and host of White House Chronicle on PBS.



February 25, 2009

Oh yeah? Well you’re a stupid-head, Mr. Republican

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , — HighStakesBlog @ 6:03 pm

Okay, that title might be a tad juvenile, but also appropriate I think.

I posted a facebook status comment today that as expected, generated some attention and I wanted to take a little more time and a few more characters to explain my thoughts.

I want you to close your eyes.

Wait, no, don’t do that.  That’s like a casino Pit Boss telling you to put away your wallet.  None of us are getting anywhere if you follow either of those instructions.  But you get the point.  Prepare yourself for the image I am about to woefully unsuccessfully paint for you.

A confident, dapper former US Senator from Illinois stands in front of hundreds of people and has everyone murmuring in reverent tones about his political and oratorical prowess.  This former US Senator presents poetic prose and speaks of the need for an investment in new forms of energy…he passionately promotes the need for an over-hauled education system…he eloquently and effusively makes a case for more and better health care for Americans.

Okay, now open your eyes snap out of your happy place and tell me whether that speech was delivered in September in Podunk, Pennsylvania or last night in the hallowed halls of Washington, DC.  Without a calendar and google, you can’t do it, can you?  That was my problem with last night’s speech.  My comment to my facebook cronies was as follows: “I am wondering if Obama knows he isn’t campaigning anymore and actually has to RUN the country now. That speech was presidential candidate and not Presidential.”

And I mean it.  There is no doubt that the man is exceedingly intelligent, charasmatic beyond comprehension and most likely a better choice for this country than John McCain.  I concede all of that.  But my comments on President Obama when he was running still hold true.  I had concerns that he had not been in an elected executive position.  I think this lack of experience is showing through.  Our country is crumbling around us.  Financially we appear to be in a free-fall.  We are still battling two overt wars and countless covert “wars” with countries like Russia and Iran and groups like Al Qaeda and Hamas.  Our reputation as a nation, after experiencing a brief bump after the November election is still somewhere down around that of stall-hound, George Michael.

We do not need oratory.  We need leadership.  We don’t need scolded.  We need leadership.  We don’t need threatened.  We need leadership.  And that leadership is where I feel Mr. Obama is falling short.  By most accounts, the executive branch has been VERY hands-off throughout this “stimulus” process.  There have been thinly veiled threats, public stonings, statements of need and defensive posturing.  But the details and the “heavy lifting” were done by Congress.  That’s what Obama was elected to oversee. And sadly, that’s not what Congress appears capable of doing.

I had high hopes for the speech last night.  I really did.  I have high hopes for our country and for this administration.  I really do.  But I fear that the tone of several comments in response to my facebook status personify the problem in Washington right now.  I am not the bad guy.  Republicans are not the bad guys (and for the record, don’t make me write another ‘I swear I am an independent’ blog).  It’s not a matter of either or.  We’re beyond that.

I readily concede that the pundits and commenters are right.  Bobby Jindal certainly wasn’t any better.  But Jindal is the Governor of a state that barely exists at this point.  He’s not the President. The nation didn’t elect Bobby Jindal.  Baton Rouge did.  The nation elected a man who it felt had ideas and who it felt would make them forget about yesterday and promised to lead them to a better today and a better tomorrow.

At this point, I desperately want to be able to recognize the difference.

November 3, 2008

I believe … I might need to clarify

Filed under: Politics — HighStakesBlog @ 9:53 am

Ahhhh…the story of my life.

“Wait, you misunderstood…what I meant to say was…”

“I’m sorry you read it that way…what I was trying to say was…”

“Officer, perhaps I need to clarify what I meant by would a Franklin get me out of that ticket”

I’m always misunderstood.  But unlike most, I know that I am misunderstood because I do a horrific job of explaining myself.  Great for a writer, eh?  Hence why my living is based more on my ability to talk than to write.

Going back to my blog from Friday…I am not trying to dismantle the two-party system.  Just like I was not trying to dismantle the THREE-tiered system during my “Stop Getting Screwed” campaign.  But that’s another story.

I think that the two-party system, to steal from Churchill, is the worst form of democracy, except for all the others.  I know why the parties exist.  I know why they’re necessary.  But I also know that they have gotten out of control and no longer represent the majority of those who identify with that party.  As such, I believe this rise of “independents” is more of an indicator of the parties leaving the people and not the other way around.

The Republican party, as is so often described, realistically relies on Pro-Life and Pro-Gun voters.  It relies on those who aren’t ashamed to praise Jesus and those who are proud to worshsip the almighty dollar.  It’s a party that wants lower taxes and the government out of their economic life and then wants to tell the citizens exactly what it can and cannot do socially.  That is not my party.

So what to do about it?  Vote for the other guy?  Vote for a guy who stands for virtually nothing that I do?  I don’t think so.  And I do not subscribe that sends a message to “my” party.  Losses to the “other guy” are so easily explained in partisan terms and so quickly flipped that the party should have spent more time with its “base.”

No, in my opinion, the way to send a message is to note vote for either candidate.  What happens when an election turns on 6% or 7% and there were 10-15% voting for independent candidates.  The parties are forced to look at WHY those candidates pulled so many votes away.  Remember Ross Perot?  Was he a joke politically?  Absolutely.  Did he ever have a chance to win?  Not a freaking shot in hades.  But does anyone recall a shift to the center for the Bill Clinton administration?  Does anyone find that to be a coincidence?

So that, my brother, as you are the only one reading this monotonous mess, is why I am voting for Bob Barr.  A fiscal conservative, personal rights-focused candidate who understands the limits to American liberties but fights to support them.

I am confident that I am not throwing my vote away by doing this.  I am not influencing this election.  That I understand.  But I strongly believe I am influencing the next one.  And that’s good enough for me.

October 31, 2008

I believe … it may be time to announce my presidential endorsement (Part III)

Filed under: Politics — HighStakesBlog @ 5:35 pm

Okay, okay, okay…I freaking get the point. Leave me alone! I will end this dreadful presidential series right here and right now. I have to be honest, I was planning on having this and one more part…but the resounding sentiment on my facebook page and more importantly from my life-partner = END IT! So I shall.

But first: a caveat. One of the issues I will touch on briefly in this blog is the two-party system and its pros and cons. I could (and probably will at a future time) spend entire blogs on this issue, but as it is at the heart of the my following presidential endorsement, I need to at least approach it here. It is somewhat scary for me to write these words because my career, at least in part, is inextricably tied to politics.

The nature of the two-party system is “you’re with us or you’re against us.” This can be a good thing as regardless of “D” or “R” you can always count on work. But what if you’re in the middle? It can be the proverbial “no soup for you.” As a result, I hope that this diarrhea diatribe can be viewed as an internal enlightening and not as professional suicide.

We shall see.

Yesterday, I delineated my concerns about Senator Obama, as well as extolled the virtues that I do see in his candidacy. But as you could probably tell, I will not vote for him.

I am not going to spend as much time here on Senator McCain. I think after his years in office, his 320 months of campaigning and 790 “Joe the Plumber” references we all pretty much know who he is and what he stands for.

He is a hawk. How could a former POW and military hero not be? But he is at least a thoughtful one who made what turned out to be the wrong decision based on intelligence that he trusted. But the surge has worked and that has proven he is at the very least a competent military strategist. In addition, I am willing to state that there hasn’t been ANYONE who has more carefully scrutinized military spending and scaled-back its “runamokness.” (Feel free to use that word…just please give credit where credit is due).

Fiscally, I am much more in his corner than Obama’s. He understands the reality of the rural economy far better, he understands the principals of a free market and I truly believe will be far more fiscally responsible. I hate to break it to everyone, but regardless of who becomes president, our taxes are going up. It’s an economic reality. But I believe McCain will put those taxes to better use and eliminate the taxes on the segment of the economy that can LEAST afford those increases…small business.

BUT. I do believe he is inextricably linked to George Bush. Not because of those ridiculous voting records (90% of the time…give me a break)…but as we all know, in politics, perception is reality. He is an old, white man. He is a Republican. He is an old, white man. He sneers like Dick Cheney. This country needs healed from the last eight years (although I would argue it’s really the last five years or so). Psycho-somatic healing is a fact at the individual level and I believe it is a factor at the national level as well.

[Finally] I come to crux of my argument and the reason I have bored you all senseless for these many days. While McCain is a true “maverick,” (*shudder*) make no mistake, he is NOT the McCain of the late 90s and early “oughts.” He is not a renegade and an independent thinker. He is the Republican Party’s nominee for President. And as such, he has become “Robo-Republican.” And when he wasn’t Republican enough, his campaign found the furthest right, antithesis to John McCain. A gun-toting, anti-abortion, attractive, youngish FEMALE.

[NOTE: I didn’t spend any time on Joe Biden so don’t expect me to spend any time on Palin here. Face it. Vice-Presidents have and always will be window-dressing. Lipstick on a Pig. Whatever. If a President ever dies in office, the “presidency” is already in place along with advisors and departments. The Vice-President is nothing more than an executor of a will and babysitting the country until the next election.]

So to re-cap. We have the most liberal member of the Senate. A Republican candidate who, when not republican enough, was pumped up by an uber-Republican running mate. Really? That’s what we have?

But you know what’s worse? Pundits are screaming that this is a win for independent Americans. Really? Is it? Arianna Huffington of the Huffington Post always talks about this “new center” … these new independents. But you know what’s funny? When she describes them, these new independents sure sound a lot like Democrats.

I have news for the political parties, pundits, the candidates and even Joe the the average American: independent thinking is okay. Yes, Virginia, there are independents out there. How did we get here? How did we get to a point where the most choice-driven country in the world is content with two “real” candidates for president? We want a pizza buffet with 1,032 types of pizza. Taco Bell has a dart board that it uses to develop “new” chalupas and churritos and burlupas because drunk people need variety. Directv has like 900 channels. Who can watch network TV? There’s only 3.5 of them. But two parties and two presidents are acceptable and even preferable.

I won’t get into why. As I said, that’s a massive blog and this is already long enough. But guess what? After listening to this year’s candidates, after reading their position statements, after attending candidate forums and hearing people I’ve known for years ditch their thoughts and stances for those of the “party” … I have finally decided to assert my independence. My independent- ness.

I will not vote for either party’s candidate for President. They just don’t represent me. And I truly don’t believe they represent the majority of Americans. But the only way that will ever change is if we speak with our votes. Independent or minor party candidates need to stop being looked at as jokes or as threats to the two major parties. They are legitimate choices (whether they’re legitimate people is another story…but that’s part of the problem). Theirs are legitimate views. Mine are legitimate views. Yours are too. Express them. Don’t suppress them.

Monday, I will say a little bit more about fundamentally who I am and which candidate I truly feel represents me and my beliefs. But I promised I would announce which of the two major party candidates I would endorse. And I have. Neither. Because they don’t represent me. And I have a pretty good feeling that they don’t represent you either.

October 30, 2008

I believe … it may be time to announce my presidential endorsement (Part II)

Filed under: Politics — HighStakesBlog @ 1:29 pm

I am such a typical Columbus resident. I equate everything to football…and I’m going to do it again.

There is a truism in football circles that the most popular player on any football team is the back-up quarterback. He often has done SOMETHING in his past to make him look like an attractive option. But people haven’t seen enough of him to know for sure. All they CAN see is the track record of the QB on the field. And even successful QBs miss on 40% of their throws.

This phenomenon is compounded when there are non-football related reasons to like the back-up. Maybe he’s aesthetically pleasing (see Jesse Palmer). Maybe he was good at one time and he brings memories of successes gone by (see Doug Flutie). Or maybe he’s a good interview and people like the way he says all the right things.

Do you see where I’m going?

Should it really be a surprise that Barack Obama has garnered the support that he has in this election? I think any “fresh face” the Democratic party threw out there could have been a dynamo. These are the worst times that anyone can remember. Economically, militarily, socially…this country is a disaster. And even someone who voted two times for George Bush can readily admit that. Who would want something similar?

Take this desire for change (ugh…I am trying so hard to remove that word from my vocabulary) and throw in Obama’s well-dressed image, gifted oration and the mystique around America’s first minority candidate and he is a veritable juggernaut. 100,000 people at a rally? Really? For a guy who has barely thrown any metaphoric passes? My favorite game is to ask an ardent Obama supporter to give a reason for supporting him and NOT use the word change. Try it. It’s a hilarious spectator sport. I have had several attempts that were YouTube worthy.

I’ll admit. The guy can speak. Change is necessary and critical. But this fervent, unabashed and almost cult-like following is ridiculous. He is without question one of the most liberal members of Congress. This country has proven time and time again that while it accepts right-leaning presidents periodically, it shudders and cowers every time a true “blue-blood” stands and asks for their presidential support. And make no mistake. Obama is not a moderate. He is as liberal as they come. And I for one am scared at the thought of an Obama, Reid and Pelosi “axis of liberalism.”

I know that it has been ridden hard by the McCain campaign the last few days, but I picked up on Obama’s relentless pushing for re-distribution of wealth during a speech in Germany months ago. In that case, it was re-distributing America’s wealth to other countries. I am far from an isolationist. I think that we should make it a priority to give a helping hand to other countries and to police heinous civil rights violations made against peoples unable to defend themselves. But that is FAR from giving of our (typical…not current) financial status to artificially prop up foreign countries. That is WAY too close to global socialism for me.

On an important issue to me…agricultural issues…I don’t think Obama even begins to understand the needs of rural America. He talks of marketing initiatives and eliminating methamphetamine usage. Really? Those are the biggest issues facing rural America? He talks of reigning in large corporate agri-business and making things more difficult for them. He talks of this like it’s a GOOD thing. I hate to break it to him, but even many “family farms” are large enough these days to be considered a corporate farm. Consolidation is necessary to be successful in agriculture. He just doesn’t get it and I truly believe he will be VERY detrimental to rural areas and agriculture as a whole.

Finally, I firmly believe that Obama’s affiliations with people like Rev. Wright, William Ayers and slumlord incarnate Rezko ARE an issue in this campaign. I firmly believe that the President’s most important quality is his track record of judgment. Say what you will about Bush, but he had a track record of being a very successful governor of a large state. A governor’s responsibility is more akin to that of a President’s than a congressman’s. Unfortunately, that judgment seemed to disappear. In my opinion, Bush’s lasting legacy of ineptness and failure should not be tied to his decisions on Iraq or his decisions on the economy, but his decisions on his cabinet.

Let’s pull back the curtain for a minute. Do you think that while running the free world, POTUS has the time to micro-manage policies and the inner-workings of every department? The ultimate success or failure of ANY administration comes down to the appointments the President makes and the people he surrounds himself with. What does Obama’s track record say about his judgment in who he is going to surround himself with? FACT: His main financial advisor was the CEO of Fannie Mae.

Now that I have torn the man down, let me give a few reasons that despite all of the above, I have given strong consideration to voting for him.

I do believe that his health care plan is far superior to anything McCain or the current administration has put forth. It is not a socialist concept. It retains private insurance, but expands access and builds on the programs already in place.

I believe he would be an excellent foreign ambassador and would dramatically improve the USA’s standing with its global partners. I am not yet convinced he has a good grasp on foreign policy and the difference between commander-in-chief and Monday-Morning quarterback-in-chief (there I go again with the football) but as previously stated, that will depend more on his appointments than his current institutional knowledge.

I am thinking of voting for the man just for the simple fact that he has energized the electorate in a way that I have never seen. Even if I believe it was George Bush that gave him his initial popularity. They are projecting 81% voter turn-out here in my state of Ohio. We can’t get 81% of our state to agree on whether Toledo is a part of Ohio or Michigan. I cannot be a hypocrite and only say that political involvement is only good when it agrees with me.

Ultimately, though, will I vote for Obama? I just can’t. There are too many issues on which I don’t feel he represents me and that my personal best interests are reflected in his policy.

So does this by default indicate that I am voting for McCain? Not necessarily. I think I’ll string this out one more day and share my thoughts on Team Maverick tomorrow.

October 28, 2008

I believe … it may be time to announce my presidential endorsement (Part I)

Filed under: Politics — HighStakesBlog @ 11:03 am

First of all, I apologize for taking a few days off and though most likely, nobody noticed, please pretend that you did.  I was traveling with family and unable to put together a coherent thought, let alone try to string together multiple.

But I’m back.  And full of thoughts derived from hours in a car trying to drown out Dora the Explorer and my lovely wife’s constant, “Sorry to interrupt that game/podcast/song, but did you know [insert mundane comment picked from an over-priced magazine that was purchased as a bribe for a few miles of silence].”  Talk about your all-time backfires.

But in between all the trials and tribulations of a father on the road, I did have some time to think.  And perhaps the predominant thought was the future of our country, of my state and my county.  I’m not sure if you have heard, but a week from now, there is going to be an election.  I know, it’s a surprise.  I haven’t seen any TV ads, yard signs or received robo-campaign calls either.  But trust me.  You can look it up.

Given my professional involvement, at least tangentially, in the political arena and my inability to avoid political conversations (electronic or otherwise), I frequently receive questions about my own political beliefs and affiliations.  And lately, most have been something like this: “You can’t possibly vote for McCain, can you?”

I have decided to finally, publicly, answer this question.  I know to many of you, it was a foregone conclusion that I would pull the proverbial lever for “my friend” McCain (a reference to his phrase of choice lately, not any personal relationship).  This includes my wife.  During this latest trip, we were asked who we were voting for and she proudly answered for both of us.  To paraphrase Lee Corso on ESPN’s College Gameday, “Not so Fast.”

The horror on her face could not possibly be re-enacted.  It was as if I told her that her butt DID look fat in those jeans and oh, by the way, the skinny jeans she was going to replace them with were unavailable in her size.  But only 10x worse.

In an attempt to prevent her from taking my children away from me as a result of my political adultery, I tried to explain myself.  In a previous blog, which you undoubtedly ALSO didn’t read, I asked that everyone PLEASE investigate the candidates (all the way down to dog catcher).  I asked that each individual find the candidate’s stances on issues important to said individual and vote accordingly.  I was merely stating my intent to practice what I preached.

Now, understand that I listen to political podcasts, read political blogs, I have attended candidate forums and know some of the candidates I will be voting for personally.  So it’s not like I am completely unfamiliar with stances on the issues.  But I felt that there were still a few issues I hadn’t fully explored.  There were a few associations I hadn’t yet checked out when it came to their stance on each candidate.  This is something I highly recommend everyone do.  Whatever your hot-button issue, I assure you there is an association for it and they undoubtedly have a listing of candidates who take “your” stance on that issue.

So I preceded to check the National Federation of Independent Business web site, the Ohio Farm Bureau web site, the Poker Player’s Alliance site, the Mary Carey for Governor page (Not Safe for Work or small children that are too old to breast feed) and others.  I went back and reviewed some episodes of my favorite political podcast (KCRW’s Left, Right and Center) and reviewed the candidate’s own web pages for their stances on issues critical to me.

As I flipped through each web site, as I read each position statement, as I mentally reviewed comments made by certain candidates…a series of thoughts that had previously only been amorphous and nagging became crystalline.  I tried to debate myself and talk myself out of these thoughts.  I tried to think of implications both professional and personal.  But, if I were going to be true to myself and express my beliefs for all the world to read, I had to try to communicate my stance and put words to paper explaining my ultimate determination.

And tomorrow, I will do just that.

October 15, 2008

I believe … that there is NO reason for anyone to watch tonight’s debate

Filed under: Politics — HighStakesBlog @ 6:48 pm

I am a political animal.  I have always had an interest in politics and consider politics to be a critical part of my communications career.  It is true that I have always leaned a little to the right (another blog for another day), but more than anything else, I do everything I can to get other people to think about politics.

I try to impress upon anyone silly and bored enough to listen to me that no matter a person’s age, career or socio-economic background, politics has a direct impact on day-to-day life.  This could be local politics, state/national politics or even the political nature of the corporate workplace. To fully comprehend the political landscape and to be an effective advocate on critical issues, thorough research is absolutely necessary.

All of that said, please, please don’t consider tonight’s debate to be research.  Read a league of women voters brochure, listen to Rush Limbaugh and then watch any evening news channel for the far right and far left perspectives (sorry, cheap shot but increasingly true) or most importantly visit each candidate’s web site and compare and contrast their stances on critical issues.  But unless you’re having trouble sleeping or have lived in a cave for the past two years and plan on going right back after tonight (Bin Laden, what?)…please don’t watch tonight’s debate.

By now, the candidates have each picked their favorite sound bites, their favorite topics, have each settled into a “role” and their campaign and PR hacks are hammering into their heads that all the candidate needs to do to win is regurgitate these points and level ridiculous accusations at the other person.  That’s all you will see tonight.  Don’t we already know that Obama was against the Iraq war?  Don’t we know that McCain is old?  I think we may have heard that Obama is inexperienced.  And something tells me that perhaps Obama may have, at some point, voted to further a liberal agenda.

We know that Obama has charisma and well-fitting suits.  We know that McCain says “my friends” too much, has more liver spots than, well, liver andmay or may not have a house in all 50 states (except Arkansas…who would live in Arkansas?)  But let’s be realistic.  Does charisma make a successful president?  Rumor has it Millard Fillmore could OWN a room.  Does wealth and experience make someone a successful president?  Paging Mr. Bush.  Mr. Bush, please pick up line 1.

What really matters to us individually is where these candidates stand on certain issues.  What issues are important to you?  And don’t say the economy.  Both candidates are anti-recession.  They will agree on economic issues FAR more than they will disagree.  Gay marriage?  Both are against it and don’t pretend otherwise.

So what’s left?  How about agriculture…does one candidate understand the food crisis and the dangers posed by radical “animal rights” groups better than another?  What about crime?  No, I’m not talking about gun control.  What about issues related to sex offenders and their rights?  Which candidate best fits your philosophies on that critical public safety and inalienable rights debate?  Technological advances..where do the candidates stand on investment and research for diseases and industries that are important to you?

These are the issues that separate the candidates and should determine our next president.  Charisma won’t affect your life for the next four years.  Taxation and criminal philosophy might.  The amount of residences a candidate can write off on his taxes will have ZERO impact on my life for the next four years.  A candidate’s stance on animal agriculture or Parkinson’s research might.

So I ask the following two questions:

1) What issues are important to you?

and more importantly,

2) Who won tonight’s Throwdown with Bobby Flay?

Both answers are going to be more important than anything you hear tonight.

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