NH Double Debate, Obama, Edwards v Clinton, Romney no winner

Governor Bill Richardson called for 50 MPG in the CAFE standards during the Saturday night double debate for both Republicans and Democrats from St. Anselm in Manchester, New Hampshire. A FACEBOOK poll (FACEBOOK was a co-sponsor of the debate, with on screen reporter Bianna Golodryga giving us the updates on comments made by Facebook’s web visitor, but unlike the prior debates where YouTubers got to propose questions to the candidates, this was strictly a “view from the bleachers”) showed that most viewers wished that the Republican candidates had spent more time talking about the Economy and about the Environment. Republicans’ candidates occupied the first half of the evening’s broadcast, while the Democratic candidates, now winnowed down to just 4, were second on the bill. The same poll taken after the Democratic candidates were done also found that viewers/visitors to Facebook’s political outpost were also disappointed that more discussion and illumination of policy on the Economy was not forthcoming. However, it was a far smaller percentage who felt that they had not adequately addressed issues of the environment.

Governor Richardson also praised Al Gore for his work on publicizing the crisis of climate change, but he also THANKED Vice President Gore for staying OUT of the Democratic Presidential Candidate Race. That wasn’t the only laugh the New Mexico Governor got Saturday night. After former Senator John Edwards, and Senator Barack Obama double teamed Senator Hillary Clinton as the “forces of the status quo” (versus them as the voices for “Change”), Governor Richardson claimed he had been in hostage negotiations which had been more civil than the current debate. It got a laugh, but unfortunately, it was almost Governor Richardson’s best moment of the night.

Surprisingly (??) it appeared that the big LOSER in the debates was Republican Senator Ron Paul. He might have been disrespected by host and moderator ABC’s anchorman Charlie Gibson, when he said that Senator Paul’s positions had been reasonably consistent. The question of the moment was candidates’ changed positions, so it seemed like a compliment, but Gibson slipped in a dig about Senator Paul’s one “inconsistency” was changing from the Libertarian Party to the Republican Party after being elected the first time.

Senator Paul, a favorite on the internet, suffered more from his own rhetoric, in fact. Although some of this positions are, indeed insightful, and acknowledge truths that are glossed over or ignored by the rest of the candidates, he spoke so narrowly from his Libertarian point of view that it appeared he believed all the evils of the world were rooted in a “runaway” welfare state, excessive taxes and bloated government. I think he is aware that his core of supporters do not share his anti-choice opinion on abortion, so he failed to rally the more conservative troops by raising that issue. On the other hand, you could hardly expect him to bring up his “drugs are a medical problem, not a legal one” stance for this crowd, either. Frankly, in spite of his nearly tying Senator McCain’s numbers this past week in Iowa caucuses, he is less of a factor, in fact, than is Governor Richardson.

Richardson, by the way, managed to hold on to 2% in Iowa’s, which, because of the odd double elimination inner working of Democratic caucuses in the state (not the same as the more straightforward Republican procedures) this really means that he was able to hold on to at least 15 % of those caucusing in at least 40 precincts (if I’ve got the math right, and it is more complicated than I really care to re-calculate to check myself).

Governor Romney faired poorly as well. He was under attack from all sides, particularly on the “flip-flop” issue, and he looked like “Neo” dodging bullets (in the Matrix for those in my generation who might not recognize the reference). Certainly he showed nothing to counter Senator McCain’s strong lead in the polls in New Hampshire in time for the Tuesday Primary there.

The encouraging part was that, as the audience generally perceived, the Democrats at least paid lip service to the environmental issues. Climate change/global warming, CAFE mileage standards, energy security, renewable sources for electric generation, alternative transportation fuels (though they avoided being pinned down to any particular position by avoiding mention of any of the candidates, from ethanol to biobutanol, from biodiesel to hydrogen), wind and solar power all were at mentioned by one or more candidates. Again, Governor Richardson’s performance was quite possibly the best in the area of delineating specifics of policy, though he punched up the “executive experience” pillar of his platform just about 9 times too often. (His record is genuinely remarkable, and Senator Clinton again acknowledged and thanked him for his long service to the country.) But “experience versus change” was the main theme of the night, and Governor Richardson was the only one not to try to re-draw himself with a new paintbrush, which is, I guess, really to say that Senator Clinton was trying to board that train before it left the station.

Senator Clinton’s take on the issue of change was that although Senator Edwards and Senator Obama have made clearly passionate appeals to the public on the matter of “change” she is the one who has really given her life to producing effective change. Senator Edwards, when called upon to cite some accomplishment during his time as a US Senator, pointed to the “Patient Bill of Rights” that he helped Senators McCain and Kennedy to write and pass through the Senate. Senator Clinton countered that “we don’t have a Patient Bill of Rights today,” because Senator Edwards great accomplishment died in the House of Representatives and never did really have any effect on the state of health care for anyone. She also pledged to work hard to achieve (finally) a Patient Bill of Rights, when she is President.

Senator Obama incites a great deal of enthusiasm, and “passion” as Senator Clinton acknowledged, but Senator Clinton clearly looked like a winner, whether or not she can win in New Hampshire, which is, after all, just one more step along the road to the White House.

I guess the good news is that as painfully difficult as it is to break bad habits, it is hard to give up good habits, and I suppose that I will claim that writing this column (whether for American Chronicle or not) is one of my best habits. I just couldn’t bring myself to break it this week.

Which brings me to my “entertainment section” for the week. I tired to watch a movie called “Once” that has an intriguing plot outline about a struggling musician. The film is one of those typically quirky production from out of the mainstream of the British film industry, which is to say, it has the local flavor common to Scottish and Irish independent cinema. It was charming, but it was also rather like a painfully long music video of only mildly pleasant songs in something like an amateur version of Cat Stevens’ music. When nearly nothing had happened in “the plot” (and I use the term loosely, because it was hard to tell if there really was a “plot” as such) by one hour into the movie, I am afraid Maggie and I gave up on it. My brother-in-law’s daughter had mentioned that she enjoyed it, so I can’t say it was awful, or beyond any hope of being enjoyed, but it just didn’t suit either my taste of my mood.

Unfortunately, an unfavorable DVD review doesn’t constitute my “happy ending” tradition, so I will turn elsewhere in the entertainment scene for my uplifting note.

I discovered that the DISH network now offers SEVERAL slightly varied “packages” of Arab language programming to viewers in North America. It was only in the last couple of months that these programming packages became eligible for the highly incentivized deals to attract new customers to the DISH network. Indeed the deal offers, free installation, free HD upgrade, free HD DVR dual-channel recorder, and up to 4 rooms worth of receivers, all at no cost to the subscriber, provided they commit to 18 months subscription to the programming service itself. I believe they charge an extra $5 for local channel access, but the prices are also highly competitive to most cable offerings, and the Arab language packages really look like a good deal.

Now, my confession is that I signed on to advertise these DISH network deals. You can get all the details at http://arabictv.winfotech.com, and the prices are attractive.

But the reason this is a HAPPY ENDING note for me is not that I might make a couple of bucks from it, the HAPPY part is that, fairly obviously, that a large part of most Arabic language countries is the Muslim religion, which will also doubtless be reflected in the programming content too. In these times when we hear so very much rhetoric that is anti-Islamist (note: “anti-Islamist” is NOT the same as “anti-Islam”, the Islamists are the fanatical fundamentalists who want to take over the world and push us back toward the glory days of the old caliphate, [i.e =Dark Ages, roughly] under strict Islamic theocratic rule) it is truly a shining bright light, well, of hope and enlightenment, that a major American corporation has made this programming offering to North American viewers.

Hurray for DISH Network!!


Stafford “Doc” Williamson

Why are you still paying retail for printer ink or toner?


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