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An open letter

To President-elect Barack Obama:

First, I believe congratulations are in order. You have achieved what no man of color has ever achieved. Such a success is indicative of both your hard work campaigning and the American people for finally allowing democracy to transcend race. From the bottom of my heart, congratulations.

As you may know, I am not a proponent of many of your policies. I believe the war in Iraq needs to be won. I believe the economy is stimulated by tax refunds and capital gains, not punishing some people for making more than others. I believe abortion is wrong, and that Roe v. Wade gives the federal government too much power.

But here’s the thing: I’m not afraid to be proven wrong.

As John McCain said in his concession speech this evening, the time for divisiveness is behind us. Like him, I’m willing to admit my mistakes if it turns out that I’m wrong, because this country is bigger than me and you. I truly hope that your policies are exactly what this country needs.

And in four years, if I was wrong and you were right, and the country is in better shape and improved over where it is today, then I will admit my mistake and happily cast my reelection vote for you.

I hope you’ll share my attitude of hope, positivity and willingness to compromise. Please work with Republicans as well as Democrats, because the best thing about this country is its ability for everyone to have a fair shot. Don’t abuse the tremendous amount of power that’s been given to you, with a majority in both the House and Senate; use it to change what needs changing, but don’t break what isn’t fixed. Remember your loyalties lie with the people who elected you, not your party.

Please stop blaming your problems on the Bush administration. You fought for the White House because you wanted to fix what was wrong; don’t complain about how hard your job is. I’m sure there’s at least one other guy who wanted that job as much as you.

I’m confident that with cooperation from both sides, our country can be a better place in four years. Once again, congratulations, good luck, and godspeed!

Jimmy Sawczuk
A hopeful, optimistic citizen

Election night

So for those of you living under a rock, tonight is election night. Almost two years of campaigning and literally billions of dollars has all led up to tonight, where we will choose a new President. A couple thoughts:

  • It’s amazing how patriotic people can suddenly be on election day. On Facebook today, at least 20 friends had “donated their statuses” (yeah, I was impressed too. I wish I had that kind of status that I could just donate it so freely.) to either Obama or McCain. I wonder how many people made their decision based on the Facebook poll – probably depressingly too many.
  • It’s always interesting to watch the technology evolve over the years. Think about it: four years ago, most TVs were not high-def, most computers were not hooked up to broadband Internet, and most people didn’t really need constant updates via text message to their cellphone.
  • CNN brags that their political team is the best political team on television. Most of them are morons.

And in other news…

  • In an unprecedented common sense move, the Browns are starting Brady Quinn, even though ESPN’s Trent Dilfer doesn’t like the idea. Seriously, if Trent Dilfer knew anything about quarterbacking, he might still be playing for the Browns. I like the move – Anderson, while not completely at fault for Sunday’s epic collapse, definitely made some major mistakes.

I hope everyone voted today. Our veterans and forefathers have made sure you’re not obligated to vote, but at the same time have fought for your right to vote. The very process that takes place today (in this year’s case, choosing the lesser of two evils) is the essence of democracy – it separates us from every other nation on earth.

McCain vs. Obama: Part II

I’ll be live-blogging tonight’s debate like I did last time (hopefully), so stay tuned after the debate for my analysis. In the meantime, I whipped up a little program to help me with the live-blogging things I do, and for chuckles I put it up on my website. It’s prerelease, meaning I basically whipped it up in like 20 minutes today so there are probably still bugs. I’ll put code up at some point too. By the way, how awesome is Visual Studio that you can whip up a full Win32-GUI with working controls in less than 20 minutes, and a setup program in less than 10?

  • 8:50 PM: Alright, here we go, live-blogging via NoteTaker. I’ve already had an issue, I compiled this program in .NET 3.5 when I meant to do it in 2.0, meaning I’m having to do this through an RDP session (a .NET 3.5 install takes a long time).
  • 8:50 PM: The CNN panel has agreed on the same thing for the last three days: there will be no hostility at all. Well then, what’s the point?
  • 8:52 PM: “How much do you think the personality thing matters, do you think because of the economic crisis that’s changed somewhat?” Could that be any more of a loaded question? Then again, it is Anderson Cooper.
  • 8:53 PM: They went all the way to Ohio State University, and they couldn’t find a single college student?
  • 8:54 PM: Solidad O’Brien had way too much coffee today.
  • 8:56 PM: Wow, these undecideds seem fairly, uh, decided.
  • 8:57 PM: Oooo, Microsoft Surface for the win. And what is this garbage, are we trying to create another social network on CNN? Why do people still do this? Just build an app for Facebook or Myspace if you have to. What’s next, a Politics MMO brought to you by CNN?
  • 8:59 PM: I wonder how much John King makes per year. He’s probably just one of the IT junkies at CNN who puts on a suit for these broadcasts.
  • 9:00 PM: This town-hall format seems like a dumb idea to me.
  • 9:02 PM: The men disapproved when Tom Brokaw was introduced. That’s awesome. Way to use that technology, CNN. :)
  • 9:03 PM: Wow, could you be more negative, Tom? First question: “The world has changed, and not for the better.”
  • 9:05 PM: No, it hasn’t worked out that way. But what’s the alternative? Communism?
  • 9:08 PM: McCain’s debate skills are really underrated – at least by me. He always looks like he’s old and frail until he starts talking, and then he looks a lot better. His first answer was very good, laying down the specifics of a plan.
  • 9:09 PM: This is what Sarah Palin wasn’t quite able to do last week, rattle off names like this.
  • 9:10 PM: Warren Buffett? Are you kidding me? Someone to “represent the middle class”?
  • 9:10 PM: Obama has attacked twice already, McCain hasn’t attacked at all. And here goes another lie, the famous 95% conundrum.
  • 9:12 PM: BAM. There we go, attack #1.
  • 9:14 PM: Wow, melodramatic much? A million companies affected? That’s garbage.
  • 9:16 PM: Wait, what? “I’m confident about the American economy” from the guy who makes fun of McCain for saying the “fundamentals were strong”?
  • 9:18 PM: This debate is more heated than I thought it would be already.
  • 9:19 PM: Ooo, burn. Teresa Finch hit the nail on the head there: both parties.
  • 9:19 PM: Both parties are responsible, Teresa Finch says, so Obama blames Bush. Nice.
  • 9:21 PM: Obama is really on the defensive tonight… he’s up by 7 points, all he has to do is run out the clock, what’s he doing?
  • 9:21 PM: Bipartisanship = working for the republicans, then the democrats, then the republicans again. :)
  • 9:23 PM: Yeah, John, you both just voted to spend like $900 billion on a bailout.
  • 9:25 PM: McCain is really pushing the phrase “clear record”, returning to the original campaign mantra.
  • 9:26 PM: #1 promise of Democrats entering Congress in 2006: lower gas prices. At the time, it was $2 a gallon. Promise delivered? Way to go, Democrats.
  • 9:27 PM: Obama doesn’t plan on sleeping once he hits the Oval Office, apparently.
  • 9:28 PM: Ooo, burn, Tom Brokaw-style.
  • 9:31 PM: Gosh, how would we get more oil? Anyone? Anyone?
  • 9:33 PM: Shout out to the young people. You know, I feel patriotic without joining the Peace Corps.
  • 9:35 PM: #1 way to get people to contribute: inspiration. How about another space race or something?
  • 9:36 PM: Obama just has this stupid look on this face, like, “What? John? You don’t love me?”
  • 9:40 PM: Answer the question! It’s about social security and we’re talking about taxes again.
  • 9:41 PM: I can’t imagine that Obama is winning this debate right now, although I switched from CNN so I don’t see that bar.
  • 9:41 PM: McCain’s not even answering the question, he’s hitting Obama now.
  • 9:42 PM: Tom Brokaw is taking all this divisiveness personally.
  • 9:44 PM: Environmental issues are stupid. Anyone who isn’t a political moron is of the same opinion: let’s keep our environment. Good plan.
  • 9:47 PM: “Drilling our way out of the problem” isn’t what McCain or Palin suggested. At all.
  • 9:47 PM: Brokaw is really mad about the time limits.
  • 9:50 PM: These are really bad questions by the audience. This is why you have moderators.
  • 9:51 PM: Clearly Barack Obama has never heard of Google Medical.
  • 9:51 PM: Yeah, good luck with that, Barack.
  • 10:15 PM: If you haven’t figured it out already, I gave up the live blog thing. I’m too busy yelling at my TV.

And there you have it. I’ve already voted, I’m getting tired of election season. See you next week for the final debate, the debate to end all debates.

McCain vs. Obama: Part I

I’m going to try taking notes on this debate, or at least parts of this debate. At the end, I’ll upload my notes for your pleasure. For the record, I’m watching CNN’s coverage. (I’m not sure why, CNN has become so biased lately I might as well watch MSNBC.)

My Notes

  • 8:42 PM: I’m sick and tired of seeing Paul Begala’s face. Seriously, does anyone care what this guy thinks?
  • 8:46 PM: I remember why I watch CNN – Campbell Brown is hot. She’s misguided, feminist and like most CNN anchors, biased, but still hot.
  • 8:47 PM: The format is kind of weird this time: two minutes for each candidate to answer, and then five minutes as kind of a back-and-forth. CNN people are fretting (and I agree) that this favors McCain.
  • 8:49 PM: Poor John King – they only let him talk about numbers. Indians are now down 3-2, by the way.
  • 8:52 PM: $10 to anyone who gets inappropriate ASCII art on CNN.
  • 8:54 PM: “Bill Bennett, how excited are you?” Yes, we really care that Bill Bennett is happy. I’m happy he’s happy. Are you happy he’s happy?
  • 8:57 PM: Ted Kennedy had a seizure, went to and got out of the hospital on the same day? That’s kind of bizarre, especially for someone his age. Jim Lehrer has taken the stage.
  • 8:59 PM: Who’s this Michael Ware guy, and how long has he been living under a rock?
  • 9:00 PM: THEY’RE LATE!
  • 9:00 PM: Anyone want to play a drinking game? You have to drink every time Barack Obama says “change”. And make sure its not alcohol, you might be dead by the end of the debate.
  • 9:01 PM: Oh come on, CNN. Please don’t show that ridiculous bar at the bottom. We’re very impressed with your technology. We promise. Just don’t shove it in our face.
  • 9:02 PM: Do they seriously use a coin?
  • 9:03 PM: It’s GO TIME!
  • 9:04 PM: One minute in, and the first cliche is in: Wall St./Main St.
  • 9:05 PM: Bush proposed a regulatory overhaul in 2003. No one seems to remember this.
  • 9:07 PM: The Wall St./Main St. phrase rears its ugly head again.
  • 9:07 PM: Hehe. Package.
  • 9:08 PM: Neither of them really answered the question, and McCain ended on oil. THE BAILOUT IS A BAD IDEA!
  • 9:10 PM: That’s an interesting parallel – I never knew Eisenhower wrote two letters. And that was for a situation that he couldn’t be blamed for as easily.
  • 9:11 PM: This feels a little contrived.
  • 9:14 PM: These guys are basically blaming each other but saying the same thing, and the little Democratic bar goes up when Obama speaks and the Republican bar goes up when McCain speaks. Is anyone even listening to the other guy?
  • 9:15 PM: McCain is throwing the Republicans under the bus and I’m okay with it.
  • 9:19 PM: Early on, it seems like Obama is playing it somewhat cautious. McCain is going for the throat. Whoa, wait a minute, Obama just interrupted him.
  • 9:19 PM: Why can no one get facts correct? Why can no one agree on FACTS?
  • 9:20 PM: This format’s hysterical. The candidates can’t figure out who to look at. Lehrer’s trying to make them fight it out face to face.
  • 9:21 PM: McCain just highlighted the difference between his and Obama’s tax policy: Obama fights for the everyman, McCain fights for the people who might not make the most money, but work hard (the small businessman).
  • 9:22 PM: If only Hillary had won, this debate would have gotten interesting much faster.
  • 9:25 PM: They should really let the audience cheer and boo.
  • 9:27 PM: Increasing production at home? As in… drill?
  • 9:28 PM: Education. Great. How do you intend to fix education?
  • 9:28 PM: Not a single specific in that entire answer from Obama.
  • 9:29 PM: McCain makes a joke and the Democratic response bar goes way down. Awesome.
  • 9:31 PM: Neither of these guys answered the question. Maybe Jim Lehrer should be president…
  • 9:33 PM: Early childhood education? Seriously? That’s not the government’s job!
  • 9:34 PM: It powers the DeLorean time machine, now it can power your minivan!
  • 9:36 PM: Wasn’t tonight about foreign policy?
  • 9:36 PM: That’s the second time McCain mentioned taking care of the veterans – an important issue that we haven’t heard much about.
  • 9:37 PM: “Orgy”. Good word. Obama continues to try to tie Bush to McCain.
  • 9:38 PM: “Miss Congeniality” again. I see a Sandra Bullock movie night in these guys’ future.
  • 9:39 PM: McCain should say, “my VP is hotter. End of debate.”
  • 9:40 PM: Petraeus shout-out!
  • 9:41 PM: Bin Laden is used a lot as an argument, that he’s never been found. Does finding him really end the War on Terror? Does it really do anything to the stability of the region? No.
  • 9:43 PM: Yes, thank you. Let’s talk about what’s happening next, not what happened in 2003.
  • 9:44 PM: I remember in 2006 when Petraeus was getting roasted by the Democrats… oh how times have changed. No one said it would be quick and easy!
  • 9:49 PM: This is a pretty heated exchange.
  • 9:50 PM: Everyone opposed a surge in Iraq because it would put more troops in danger. But everyone seems to support a similar surge in Afghanistan.
  • 9:53 PM: Pakistan? Are you kidding me?
  • 9:55 PM: Petraeus = hero unit?
  • 10:00 PM: Yay, bracelet comparison!
  • 10:02 PM: McCain is getting a bit more animated.
  • 10:03 PM: Ooo, Iran. Here we go.
  • 10:04 PM: It’s amazing how little we’ve talked about China and Russia so far, considering their issues this summer. Also North Korea.
  • 10:06 PM: Hehe. “Iran”-ically.
  • 10:06 PM: That’s a word I didn’t expect to hear tonight. Can you guess what it is?
  • 10:08 PM: McCain just butchered Mr. Iran’s name (what, you think I can spell it?)
  • 10:09 PM: McCain’s tone here is almost incredulous, it’ll be interesting to see what the reaction is to that.
  • 10:13 PM: “I don’t even have a seal yet.” BAM!

And there you have it. I kind of quit taking notes as the discussion got more heated near the end. Overall, I feel like it was really too close for the media to admit John McCain won, but there were some spots where Obama was definitely ahead. We’ll see how it plays out. Now I’m looking forward to Sarah Palin vs. Joe Biden in round 1.5.

Same old, same old

Barack Obama is doing everything he possibly can to make me NOT vote for him this November.

Now I’m aware that a lot of you are ardent Barack Obama supporters, so what I say here may hurt your feelings a little bit. (I don’t really know why, but generally people seem to take it personally when I say something negative about His Barackness.) All I ask of you is that you read this post, THINK about it, and then feel free to leave your comments.

If you’ve watched a news channel in the last year and a half, you know Barack Obama is really all about change. He’s about changing our foreign policy, he’s about changing our economy, but most importantly to me, at least at this point, he’s about changing the way things are done in Washington. I interpret that as “I’m going to run a different campaign than my colleagues here in Washington would.”

Great! A politician who isn’t a politician, right?


In the last couple days, the battles between McCain and Obama have become more and more heated. Barack’s supporters, as usual, took it personally when the GOP launched BarackBook.

I saw BarackBook and immediately burst out laughing. “Are you serious,” I thought. “This is how the republicans think they’re going to beat one of the most revolutionary presidential candidates ever?” BarackBook, upon further review, is basically a (very poorly done) knockoff of Facebook, and tries to woo the younger crowd into getting information about Obama that Obama does not want the younger crowd to know. I won’t go into too much depth here, suffice it to say that BarackBook is pretty much a typical Washington stunt, much like the “gas tax holiday” (oh, by the way, Congress was beginning to debate raising the gas tax before they decided to take a “well-deserved” month-long vacation).

Then the McCain campaign launched the “Celeb” ad:

As I embed the video into this blog post, it’s actually not as bad as I heard it was, and further illustrates my point about how Obama and his supporters (ahem, entire mass media) take things personally. But let’s say, for sake of argument, that the ad was as bad as Obamanation (any annoying group of fans these days gets the word “Nation” attached to it: Obamanation, Red Sox Nation, etc.) claimed. If you were Barack Obama, what would you do?

I’ll tell you what I would do: nothing. I would keep going around talking about what I’m going to do to fix this country. I would completely ignore John McCain and the GOP’s tactics as tactics (and no, Barack, talking about how his tactics are “right out of Karl Rove’s playbook” doesn’t count). I would ignore all of it, because playing into John McCain’s hand is a typical Washington politics.

Imagine my surprise then, when I came across this little gem: The Low Road Express.


First of all, if its possible, the “Low Road Express” is even lamer than “BarackBook” because the “Low Road Express” didn’t even bother to register a domain name. Secondly, does this help the voters at all? Are people seriously going to go to this site and say, “OH! McCain’s ad made me think you were going for an Obama/Spears ticket. Whew!”? No. The new site does nothing except attack McCain.

To be fair, McCain attacked as well. I won’t say he attacked first, because I don’t really know how you can say who attacked first, and honestly it doesn’t really matter. The point is, how many of those generously donated dollars, oh faithful citizens of Obamanation, went into creating this? Don’t you feel a little cheated and misled? Weren’t your dollars originally going for change, change and more change? How is this different?

Same old, same old.

I hope you read this article all the way through, because it’s not something you’re likely to hear the truth about on any news channel. The truth is that Barack Obama has turned into a typical politician, and means that if it were anybody but McCain (and maybe Romney) running on the other side, I’d be voting that way.

There’s a place up ahead and I’m going…

I’m 3/4 done with my college career, and without a doubt the last year was the hardest. The good news is that this time next year, I’ll be planning for life after college and hopefully becoming more of the person I’d like to be.

  • After work tonight, a friend and I decided to try to get one of those famous 23 cent pizzas. Actually, the original plan was to get more than one – as many as possible, actually. Unfortunately, we weren’t counting on every single Clevelander having the same idea. The talk radio people like Mike Trivisonno (who is normally fun to listen to, for the record, but has his moments where he’s just an absolute moron) were very annoyed that so many people were taking advantage, and as the previous article states, there were some issues. But tomorrow is another day, and by this time tomorrow, we’ll all remember that Papa Johns doesn’t really make great pizza.
  • The Indians took a series in New York (mostly thanks to Cliff Lee and David Dellucci, two oft-maligned southpaws on this blog), but another southpaw, Travis Hafner, is really struggling.

    All you can hope for with Travis Hafner is that he’s seen video of his swing from this year (and presumably last year – last year he wasn’t ever bad enough to merit drastic reconstruction on his swing, but it might have been enough for him to develop some bad habits) and compared it to video in 2006. To me, after watching the video, it’s pretty obvious. Of course, it’s far easier said than done – but the season is still young, and Hafner has plenty of time to turn it around.

    Ben Francisco is up, and is getting regular playing time, which is nice to see. He’s had some good solid hits already, and his defense in the corner outfield spots doesn’t leave me holding my breath as much as Dellucci.

  • And now a message from every mathematician in the world: “To Hillary Clinton: It’s Over”. She doesn’t seem to think so, and I guess when you have as much money as the Clintons do (although that amount is dwindling, because she keeps loaning herself money) you can alter math.

    One thing I’ve noticed about John McCain recently – his supporters are far easier to get along with than either of the Democratic candidates. Perhaps the Democrats are a little edgy because they see McCain gaining ground quickly while Obama and Clinton battle it out, but seriously, there is no need for the fawning on the message boards: “OMG PRESIDENT OBAMA I LOVE YOU” or the hatred: “OMG PRESIDENT CLINTON II BARACK OBAMA SUCKS”.

I’m typing this from my work laptop and I’m really not a fan of the keyboard or touchpad (I have a docking station and a mouse at work, but not with me at the moment), so I’m going to adjourn. Once again, I apologize for the lack of updates lately – hopefully I’ll be on a more regular schedule soon.

I’ve seen a million faces…

Hello from the first floor of Kelvin Smith Library in the “heart of campus” of Case Western Reserve University! It’s sunny, about 40 degrees, and baseball season is less than 36 hours away from getting underway!

  • On that note, I was watching the Indians play their final exhibition game of the spring thanks to a free preview of MLB.tv (don’t get me started…):

    It was raining in Atlanta (actually, thunderstorming, which was kind of cool) so rather than risk injury to players they put the game on rain delay. Now, for those of you who don’t know, MLB.tv basically rebroadcasts the local network’s broadcast over the Internet, so I was watching the PeachtreeTV (I don’t know either, I guess Atlanta is like that) broadcast, and they switched into the rain delay programming…which was a rerun of Cheers. That’s right: for a minute (until MLB.tv realized what was happening) I was watching a rerun of Cheers on MLB.tv. The irony is amazing.

  • In other sports news, the latest “Cinderella Story” Davidson destroyed Wisconsin last night. I watched most of that game (from a random bar in Parma) – it’d be pretty tough to beat a team that was raining down threes like Davidson was. They play UCLA next, so that story is probably over.
  • And now a message to the voters that will be deciding our next president: you’re not voting for the candidate’s pastor, you’re voting for that candidate. Look, what Jeremiah Wright said (and perhaps what he believes) is wrong, but that doesn’t mean a) that Barack Obama believes the same thing by extension, and b) that the guy doesn’t have other good qualities that makes him a guy Obama would have hung around with all those years. Obama’s been defending himself since those videos surfaced – and he’s not even in them!
  • From the Clinton campaign, Chelsea Clinton defended herself the other day against a Monica Lewinsky question. Basically, it was a fair question, but in Chelsea’s defense (she’s not as evil as her parents yet, it’s easier to defend her) it was a fair answer. I don’t know that Hillary has ever answered that question, but it’s certainly not Chelsea’s responsibility.
  • While the Democrats are bickering about seemingly everything, John McCain is, all of the sudden, becoming less annoying. The fact is that he shouldn’t even be close in this race – he supports a war that most Americans do not support and on the number one issue (apparently) to most Americans, the economy, he “doesn’t know that much”. But the longer the Democrats fight this out, the better he does.

    That’s NOT to say that I agree with Howard Dean (YEAHHHHHHHH!), that we should end the “fight” before the convention. Even worse, there is speculation within this piece that if the Democrats don’t resolve this that Al Gore will be at the top of the ticket with Obama or Clinton as the Vice President. First, how does that solve anything? Then they both are still fighting about who gets to be the VP. Secondly…are you kidding? What’s the point of a primary if we can just choose a new candidate at the convention? It’s like Al Gore is the father figure of the Democratic party (I don’t really know why, he hasn’t held public office in eight years) and he’d be saying, “well, you kids can’t settle this yourself so I’m going to settle it for you.”

  • Saw this article on the front of CNN.com the other day. Now, yes, you feel sorry for the woman in the article, but notice a couple things. First, she somehow can afford all of that nice furniture and lamps in the background but not food for her family? And how is it possible that you go from $70000 a year to, “weeks later”, having no money for food? This is the point of having savings accounts and not racking up debt! As we enter these hard times with the economy, make sure you know what you’re reading, what the angle of the reporter is, and think about it a bit before jumping to any conclusions.
  • Finally, the quote of the day:
    MICHAEL: We can no longer be friends and when we talk about things here we must only discuss,ah, work associated things, and uh, we can consider this my retirement from comedy and in the future if I want to say something funny or witty or do an impression I will no longer, EVER, do any of those things.
    JIM: Does that include “That’s what she said?”
    MICHAEL: Mmm-hmm…yes.
    JIM: Wow that is really hard…you really think you can go all day long?…well, you always left me satisfied and smiling, so…
    MICHAEL: That’s what she said!

Hope everyone has a happy Saturday and a nice weekend!

Global warming can kiss my…

Isn’t it too late in the year for it to be this cold? According to the spyware-laden, ever-annoying Weather.com, the average for this time of year is about 45 degrees. Today’s high? 35 degrees. At least it’s sunny. Better save the snow for 10 days from today, Opening Day against the Chicago White Sox! On to the links then:

  • Our favorite Cupertino corporation, Apple Inc., is in talks with the major record labels to create a one-time premium alternative to iTunes, allowing a user to download all they want for a one-time fee. Can you say cha-ching? The thinking behind this logic is that the average user buys 20 songs on iTunes, meaning that charging a $40 premium on top of the purchase of a new iPod is a win for Apple.

    There are two things wrong with this statement, the first is that I’ve purchased over $300 worth of music from iTunes in the last 18 months. If I get access to a plan that allows me unlimited access, I think I’d pay up to $150 on the spot and I’d still beat the system.

    The second problem with that is that Apple assumes that removing a per-song fee will not change users’ downloading habits. Let me ask you something: if you go to a restaurant like Don Pablo’s or Max and Erma’s, do you usually get dessert? Maybe you do, maybe you don’t. I don’t, because normally I’m full and paying $5 for a small piece of cake turns a $10 meal into a $15 meal pretty quickly. An extra piece of cake when I’m already pretty full isn’t worth a 50% bump in the check (at least). However, if I go to a place like Hometown Buffet, not only will I get dessert, I’ll usually get three. Why? I’ve already paid for that dessert whether I eat it or not; why not enjoy it?

    The same goes for music. If I have the unlimited plan, any questioning I have about “eh…will I really listen to ‘KISS: Live In Detroit’ enough to purchase the entire 5-disc set?’ If I’m paying $40 for it, probably not. But if I’ve already paid once…wait for it…keep waiting…

    You pull the trigger of my…. LOVE GUN!

  • Barack Obama gave a speech on race and the influence it’s had on this campaign. I’ve read and watched it; probably top five of all speeches I’ve heard in my lifetime. Without coming out and saying it, Obama essentially said it was ridiculous that race was even an issue in this race, and he’s completely right.

    But he’s missing another aspect of diversity: the role religion still has in politics is pretty sad. “But Jimmy,” you say, “how could you say that after supporting Mike Huckabee?” I think religion is pretty unimportant when it comes to choosing a President. Ultimately, you’re not voting for your God, because if God were running for President I’m pretty sure he’d win every time. You’re voting for the person and how he will run the country. If that doesn’t make any sense, I’ll put it another way: I would have still supported Mike Huckabee if he wasn’t Christian but was still the same person. Of course, your religion generally tends to define who you are, so it’d be very hard for Huckabee to be the same candidate without his religion.

    A more relevant example is the allegation that some have made that Barack Obama is a Muslim. My response to that is: so what? What’s he going to do, call up his buddy Osama and say, “hey, I’m on the inside, they’re trusting me with everything! We’re so in!”? Of course not. The view that all Muslims are terrorists is ridiculous in this day and age.

    When you’re electing a president, you shouldn’t elect someone who follows the same religion as you because they follow the same religion as you. You should elect someone who will defend to the death your right to follow whatever religion (or lack thereof) you want to follow.

  • I realize as I type that that I’ve never typed my interpretation of “one nation, under God” in a place that everyone can access; at some point, I’ll have to do that.
  • Onto the wide world of sports. The NCAA March Madness tournament has begun, and right now I still have no idea who’s won any games. I find that I really don’t care this year, for whatever reason. My pick is for North Carolina to win it all, but I haven’t filled out a bracket. “March Madness” seems like its getting dangerously close to “April Fever”, doesn’t it? Every year it seems to start later and later. Why is this? Why can’t basketball just go quietly into their offseason like the rest of the sports? NBA playoffs last like a month and a half, and March Madness keeps getting later and longer. Basketball is, to me, nothing more than a filler between the end of football season and the beginning of the baseball season.
  • I have been watching more of the Cavs games lately, and I came to a realization. You know that guy LeBron James? He’s pretty good.
  • Both Jeremy Sowers and Aaron Laffey especially pitched well last night. Dear Mark Shaprio: Take advantage of the lack of starting pitching around the rest of the league and please, please, please trade Cliff Lee to someone who is desperate.
  • Onto the quote of the day:
    Just remember, when you control the mail, you control… information.
    Newman, Seinfeld

    If George is the best sitcom character of all time, Newman has got to be in the top three. How anyone kept a straight face when he was in the room during shooting is beyond me.

Finally, I’m looking for a new travel coffee mug. I’d prefer one that is mostly metal (I’m not a big fan of plastic) and one that’s constructed well enough to not let any coffee drip out inadvertently. I’m willing to pay considerable cash for it. Does anyone have any suggestions?

Just kidding, one more thing. I’m noticing that I’m getting viewers from all over the country now, but I’d like to know more about who’s reading this blog. So if you’re reading this blog and you like (or hate) what you read, leave a comment somewhere with your first name and location.

Until next time.

Five years gone

It’s a rainy Wednesday morning and here I am, at Case Western Reserve University, with a little more than a year to go before I graduate. 5 years ago, where was I? I was just thinking about it this past week. I was a sophomore in high school, pit band was just finishing up, the marching band was considering going to Florida, and a pivotal stage of my life was about to begin. And then, five years ago tonight, the United States began a “shock and awe” campaign (remember that phrase?) against Iraq and the war was on.

At the time, I remember Bush had pretty high approval ratings. And how could he not? We were a little more than a year and a half removed from the most devastating terrorist attack in our history, and George Bush had united the country. In 2003, things were only starting to get back to normal in terms of the normal political divisions, and so when Colin Powell presented the case against Iraq to the UN on Febrary 5, 2003, most of the people who saw it thought Iraq was a dangerous country. The UN said we shouldn’t go, Barack Obama said we shouldn’t go, but pretty much everyone else, given the evidence we had available at the time, said invading Iraq was in the United States’ best interest. Remember how at the time there was actually considerable support for us to pull out of the UN? Of course, the French didn’t really want us to go either, and countless jokes were born (“Freedom” fries, anyone?).

When we invaded Iraq, President Bush warned us that it may be a costly, lengthy and frustrating conflict. However, most Americans, given the alternative of facing mobile biological weapons labs, would rather fight.

And here we are, five years later (“Five years gone” is a play on the Heroes episode of the same name), still in Iraq, but more divided than ever. In those five years, we’ve lost over 4000 soldiers, trillions of dollars, and the unity that we had in 2003. Books like Curveball (which I’ve read) and Against All Enemies have been published chronicling the intelligence community’s and the Bush administration’s failures in Iraq. No weapons of mass destruction have been found, either because they were never there or the haphazard initial search effort allowed the Iraqis to move them.

I believe that given the evidence as presented in 2003, the President was faced with almost a non-decision to invade. Barack Obama has claimed repeatedly that invading was the wrong decision, but it’s considerably easier to say that now than it was back then. Honestly, I think both Senator Clinton and Senator Obama would have invaded in 2003 – its easy to make a speech as a freshman legislator denouncing the war, but to actually say to the American people, “sure, the CIA says they have weapons, but what the heck, we’ll gamble” is a tough proposition.

Now, what have we accomplished in those 5 years? For one, we’ve overtaken a violent dictatorship and replaced it with a US-friendly democracy. We’ve installed hospitals, power lines, water lines, and in general made Iraq a better place to live. We’ve captured hundreds of terrorists, killed thousands more, and we’ve done so without resorting to tactics that the terrorists use against us. US presence in Iraq has, in my opinion, forced Iran to cooperate with the United States, at least for the timebeing. No, we haven’t found any WMDs, but we have accomplished so many other things.

And even if invading was the wrong decision, which I don’t believe it was, it’s the decision we have to live with. Obama and Clinton (and McCain) both talk about what they have done – that’s not important anymore. Let’s hear about what should be done next. None of the three candidates, in my opinion, would actually pull out of Iraq. Sure, strategy may be altered or political pressure may come to the forefront, but none of the candidates wants to be the President that “gave up”. Pulling out at this point would be a colossal mistake.

I have a family member who is serving in Iraq, so its not like I have no connection to the soldiers there. I think if you survey most of our Armed Forces, they would say “let us win”. He’s over there on his third tour of duty, and thus I’d imagine he’s a little sick of it (I would be too). But I think he, as well as most others in the Armed Forces, know that victory in Iraq is critical.

I’m thankful for every day that I wake up in this country because of what our Armed Forces fight for every day. I hope one day, Iraqis will be able to wake up to that same feeling. On a closing note, even if you disagree with the war, the soldiers and citizens in Iraq deserve our support and our gratitude (which is something both Obama and Clinton have said and I agree with completely).

And I’m proud to be in America,
Where at least I know I’m free.
And I won’t forget the men who died,
And gave that right to me.
And I’d gladly stand up, next to you,
And defend her still today,
Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land,
God bless the U.S.A.

Blogging from virtual reality

Today I’m blogging from the Virtual Worlds gaming lab from the fourth floor of Olin. Has anyone else noticed that a lot of college campuses seems to have at least one building named Olin?

  • The Indians are 1-0-1 against the Tigers, with a tie on Saturday and a win Sunday. Some good signs:
    • Ben Francisco seems to be opening some more eyes this spring, with a home run on Saturday. The opinion here is that he should be on the Indians’ Opening Day roster, but we’ll see how that goes.
    • 1B prospect Michael Aubrey seems to be hitting everything in sight – might be an option down the road.
  • Conflict is starting to brew once again in Somalia. A lot of people have said, and I totally agree, that by the time Barack, Hillary or John is sworn in as the 44th President of the United States in January of 2009, there will be another armed conflict that’s more important or more at the forefront than Iraq.
  • It’s about 55 degrees in Cleveland today, and the sun is shining. It’s supposed to get cold again tomorrow, but for today we can pretend it’s springtime, right?
  • The big day is tomorrow in Ohio, Texas, Rhode Island and Vermont. If Huckabee isn’t defeated once and for all tomorrow, John McCain has a lot more work to do than he thought. Actually, here’s a telling statistic as to why Huckabee might not quite be done yet:

    McCain doesn’t even have 50% of the Republican vote! That’s a huge problem for him at this point in the election season. As stated before, McCain doesn’t have my vote. I am a conservative, but I don’t think being a conservative means you have to automatically believe conservativism is necessarily best for the country in every given situation. Remember, our founding fathers were a bunch of left wing nuts. More on that at some point.

  • As for the Democratic side, Hillary’s done if she doesn’t win both Texas and Ohio tomorrow. Even if she doesn’t withdraw from the race immediately (which I think she will if she loses both of those states), she’s done.
  • It pains me to say this, but Hillary Clinton does actually win one thing: the funnier sketch on SNL this weekend:

    Here’s Rudy Giuliani:

    …keep your day job, Rudy.

  • This is the first time in…well, ever…that I’m looking forward to football season in March. This mostly relates to the Browns picking up ex-Patriot WR Donte’ Stallworth, as well as acquiring some much-needed help on the defensive line. I was lukewarm on the Derek Anderson signing – I think the guy can play, but I don’t think he’s a championship level quarterback and I certainly don’t think he’s worth $8 million a year for 3 years. If it were me, I’d let him hopefully boost his trade value this year while starting, and then start shopping for a trade and put Brady Quinn in.
  • I decided a while ago that this summer it was my plan to visit Yankee Stadium and Shea Stadium in New York City before they close this year. I decided yesterday that I’m expanding that goal a bit: my goal now is to visit at least seven baseball parks this summer:
    1. Progressive Field (home of the Cleveland Indians)
    2. Yankee Stadium (home of the New York Yankees)
    3. Shea Stadium (home of the New York Mets)
    4. Wrigley Field (home of the Chicago Cubs – yeah, I’ve already been there but I liked it. Sue me.)
    5. Busch Stadium (home of the St. Louis Cardinals)
    6. PNC Park (home of the Pittsburgh Pirates)
    7. Comerica Park (home of the Detroit Tigers)

    Obviously the idea is to not spend a whole lot of money, so these trips would be on weekends, by car with maybe one overnight at a campground or somewhere equally inexpensive.

  • Baseball Tonight was on for the first time this season yesterday – good stuff. Looks like not a lot has changed: Steve Phillips is an idiot, John Kruk tells it like it is, and Peter Gammons is the man, but unfortunately secretly roots for the Red Sox. Something kind of interesting too – if you search “kurkgems” in Google, one of my blog entries from last fall is the first result.
  • I’m starting to see some weird viewing trends for this blog thanks to Google Analytics. There are people visiting this blog from Mountain View, CA (hello, friends at Google!), Brooklyn, NY (hello, Rudy Giuliani!) and Washington, D.C. (hello, and my apologies, Senator Clinton!) Of all of the locations that have viewed this blog, Cleveland is obviously the first (me) but in second place? Rochester, NY. Weird…

No coffee this morning, but as said earlier, its almost 60 degrees outside and I just don’t need it today. Have a good day everyone!