Monday, May 19, 2008

It’s Vacation Time!

Hello faithful readers. It’s that time of year again when yours truly will be going away on vacation.

Just like in years past, I’m going to visit my wife’s parents in Japan. It’s always nice and quiet in Tokyo and always something to do. It would be nice to get away for awhile from the madness of work.

But trying to take a vacation away from The Times Observer might not be too easy for me. I won’t be updating my blog with columns or editorials while I’m gone.

Although, since I’m a news junkie and while fighting jetlag at 3 in the morning, I might just post something on here. After all, it’s a 13-hour flight to Japan and a 13-hour time difference for me, since I have to be doing something during the middle of the night while everyone else is sleeping.

So, don’t expect too much around here from this Wednesday, May 21, until the second week of June. But don’t be surprised if during a sleepless night I publish something on here.

If anyone needs to reach me, please feel free to e-mail me at:


Thursday, May 15, 2008

What Does An Edwards’ Endorsement Mean?

The big breaking political news yesterday was that former presidential candidate John Edwards jumped on the Obama Bandwagon and offered his endorsement.

But what does this mean? Nothing really. It means that those who still support Edwards because they like what he stands for, even though he dropped out of the Democratic primary race at the end of January, will go to Sen. Barack Obama.

The Illinois senator’s main rival, Hillary Clinton, was hoping to have the former North Carolina senator’s support. Besides his issues, both Clinton and Obama would gain Edwards’ delegates and former donors. And ironically, North Carolina was the state that Obama won last week.

The need of Edwards has been so great that both of the political rivals courted Edwards in February with individual private meetings to talk about the issues, among other things.

And why did the New York senator want the former Democratic Vice Presidential candidate’s support, besides the delegates? Edwards represents the old Democratic Party in a lot of ways. He’s one of the few candidates that talked about helping the lower class while others in both parties were falling over themselves to mention in every speech how they are going to help the middle class, just to gain their votes.

Certainly, a high-profile former candidate like Edwards, whose soft image has warmed a lot of Americans, is what Hillary needs to show the public how in touch with them she is by having a humble man support her.

But ultimately, because most of Edwards’ policies and beliefs closely resemble Obama’s, he gave his support to the candidate with the most delegates. And because of that, and because they are alike in other ways, there was an alternative reason why Edwards threw his support to the leading Democratic political candidate and it’s because of that title that eluded him in the 2004 presidential election: Vice President.

Yes, it’s very possible and extremely likely that Edwards is setting himself up to become Obama’s right-hand man. After sacrificing his role as senator for the role as president four years ago and the failed Kerry-Edwards ticket in 2004, this may be the only chance he has left of getting into the White House with some dignity, unlike Independent Ralph Nader, who has not won the presidential election in the last 16 years, but keeps running anyway.

Is it hypocritical of Edwards endorsing Obama and seemingly setting himself up as a vice presidential candidate while just a few months ago he criticized the Illinois senator for his inexperience? Sure it is, but that’s the game of politics. But whatever their rivalry was, it is nothing compared to Obama and Clinton’s. They drew a lot of blood and attacked each other. Having an Obama-Clinton ticket would be a little hard to swallow for some Democratic voters after the months of mudslinging between the two.

And Edwards may be a better choice than Clinton. Having a biracial black man may not set too well for many older Democrats and Republicans, who are unhappy with the presumed GOP nominee John McCain. But having a woman like Hillary Clinton, who has been caught doing a few dirty tricks during this campaign and represents the far left of her party, will leave a bad taste in their mouths.

Granted, a ticket like that is what many middle-aged and young voters are hoping for. That would be a true symbol that the races and sexes are now equal. But still, it may be too much for some close-minded voters in both parties, who cannot look past a person’s skin color or reproductive organs.

So, besides sharing the same anatomy, Edwards and Obama do share the same philosophy, such as fighting special interests in Washington. They are very close on the issues and seem to be a far more believable match than Obama and Hillary. And with Hillary vowing to fight to the very end in this race, and may destroy the party in the process, Edwards might be a better choice of uniting the Democrats if Obama gets the nomination.

Let’s not be too surprised that Obama shatters the predictions of many political analysts, who have been saying that Hillary maybe his VP, and chooses Edwards instead. After all, politics is a funny little game. You just never know what will happen sometimes.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

No Matter Who We Are …

The recent news wires are reporting that more than 12,000 people have died as a result of China’s 7.9-magnitude earthquake, while 18,645 are buried under fallen buildings and debris.

Many more are missing and feared dead, especially school children caught in the destructive force that has shattered homes and destroyed families.

Just days ago, the people of Myanmar were caught in another of nature’s devastating forces in the form of a cyclone, which has left 34,273 dead and 27,838 missing.

Both of these cataclysms have resulted in children becoming orphans, wives into widowers and husbands losing their beloved spouses and parents who have become childless.

Too many times tragedies at this biblical scale have a way of making people realize how much the same we all are. Thousands of miles away, we can feel the sorrow and the pain of those caught in the destruction that has gripped China and Myanmar.

And despite political and cultural differences, generous people and nations look past these differences and see their fellow humans in need of great help and donate what they can.

Former President Ronald Reagan once said that if there was a huge threat to the Earth, her children would reunite and conquer the threat. Why do we have to wait for such a threat for us to come together once and for all when disasters like these should be doing this?

When we can place ourselves in the situations that these tragedy-stricken people have found themselves in and feel their anguish and despair, then that should be the first step towards unity.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

The Difference Between Hillary, Ron Paul

Poor Hillary Clinton. It’s bad enough that she lost the South Carolina primary to her political opponent Barack Obama and her win of the Indiana primary only resulted in meek delegate votes, but her former supporter is calling for her to drop out of the race.

“Hillary, of course, will make the decision as to if and when she ends her campaign. But I hope that she reaches that decision soon so that we can concentrate on a unified party capable of winning the White House next November,” former Sen. George McGovern said, as reported by the Associated Press.

A former 1972 presidential nominee himself, McGovern has decided to jump on the Democratic Illinois senator’s bandwagon. And it would appear that the Rev. Wright controversy did not slow the Obama Express too much.

So, should New York’s Democratic senator leave the race? During the campaign, a lot of people have echoed McGovern’s words. There are certainly a lot of reasons for her to leave and chiefly among them is to unify the Democratic Party. For years, there has been a great divide in the once great party.

However, Hillary Clinton may still have a chance of winning this race. Yes, this is very different from what was written here before in regards to deserter-of-the-Democrats Mike Gravel (who is now seeking to be a Libertarian candidate), independent Ralph Nader and certainly Republican Congressman Ron Paul.

But unlike Paul, who admitted in a recent FOX News interview that he believes that GOP juggernaut and presumptive nominee John McCain will get the nomination but he himself will keep campaigning, Clinton is literally at the heels of her rival, while Paul will need to borrow Speed Racer’s Mach 5 to catch up to the Arizona senator.

After all, Hillary Clinton is short 159 delegates of tying with Obama’s 1,845. And with 2,025 needed to get their party’s nomination, you really can’t write the former First Lady off just yet.

“I landed in New Hampshire on a Thursday night down 9 points, and I won on Tuesday,” Clinton said, as reported by FOX News and the Associated Press. “You can turn elections in a day. You can turn them in a week if you know what it takes to actually win. I believe I know with your help, that is exactly what we’re going to do.”

And while Paul’s new book “The Revolution: A Manifesto” is doing well, and still has a lot of supporters, he still has not won a single state, or even a close second place. Clinton, on the other hand, has been doing extremely well and is head and shoulders above the good Texas doctor.

Since the New York senator still has a chance to pull a rabbit out of her hat, and it’s always wise to expect the unexpected in politics, she just might win her party’s nomination. She might rip it to shreds in the process, who knows, but her odds of winning it are far better than Ron Paul’s chances of winning the White House in November.

But then again, expect the unexpected.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Sore Loser? Obama Gives Hillary Devil Horns?
Do you think this is Fox News' way of sending a message to Sen. Hillary Clinton or just someone who was working late and wanted to have some fun?

Well, it seems like someone, who would normally go home much earlier, had to stay late for the primaries in Indiana and North Carolina and wanted a laugh. Sophomoric? Sure it is and something I wouldn't have allowed if this was intentional (and I think it was).

But you know what? If you've ever been a journalist on an election night, the long hours and being extremely tired can do some strange things to you and you'll be surprised what seems funny at 1:35 in the morning.

Of course, the laughter quickly dies away when you go into the office early the next day and you have to face a screaming editor and angry viewers/readers.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

NY Times Exposes Bush Administration, Networks’ Secret Shame

According to a New York Times investigative story, the Bush Administration had retired generals and other former military leaders try to sell the war as “analysts” to news networks during the buildup of the Iraq war and afterwards.

“Many analysts strongly denied that they had either been co-opted or had allowed outside business interests to affect their on-air comments, and some have used their platforms to criticize the conduct of the war,” The New York Times wrote on April 20, 2008.

The Pentagon said it was laughable that they could make retired military men into puppets and that they only provided these men with factual information to give to the American public.

But The New York Times’ article painted a very different picture by using 8,000 pages of e-mails and other documents it had obtain after suing the Department of Defense. These materials contained Pentagon talking points operations, private meetings and trips to Iraq, among other places. According to these documents, the Pentagon referred to these analysts, some of whom were being paid a nice sum of money per interview by the news networks, as “message force multipliers.” This certainly doesn’t sound like a friendly term to refer to messengers of “factual information.”

In fact, some of these military men weren’t comfortable with the messages they were delivering, but didn’t say anything for fear of losing access to important briefing information.

And what is worse is that some of these networks, according to The New York Times, knew about the relationship between these military men and the government and didn’t report it to the viewers.

“…other analysts said their network handlers also raised no objections when the Defense Department began paying their commercial airfare for Pentagon-sponsored trips to Iraq — a clear ethical violation for most news organizations,” according to The New York Times.

It was reported that some of the other networks didn’t know about the dubious relationships between their analysts and the Bush Administration.

But since The New York Times has let the cat out of the bag, hardly any of the networks reported their shame, according to a recent Editor & Publisher article.

The networks who did not know they were being shammed should get a small pass from criticism and should work harder to prevent any conflicts from happening. To the other networks that went along with this disgusting display of a huge lack of media ethics, shame on them. They failed in their job of being objective and truthful, and more importantly, being the watch dogs of the government.

There was no need to sell the idea to the American public that we needed to go into Iraq to find out what was going on after years of broken resolutions by Saddam Hussein, as it has been written before in The Times Observer.

And the Bush Administration isn’t the first one to use propaganda to push a war effort to the American people. However, it shouldn’t be an accepted practice by the American public. We deserve truth and accountability from our leaders, especially from our elected president.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

PETA Going Ape Over Aflac Commercial

That zany group the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is upset because the health and life insurance company Aflac used an orangutan in one of its commercials, as reported by the Columbus, Ga., newspaper the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer.

PETA shot off wild accusations that implied the orangutan used in the Aflac commercial could be one of many apes in the entertainment industry that can only be taught through dominance, beatings and electrical shocks.

As Maj. T.J. “King” Kong would say, “Shoot, a fellah could have a pretty good weekend in Vegas with all that stuff.”

PETA practically said they weren’t sure if the orangutan used in the commercial was harmed, since they didn’t know which agency the animal came from. And Aflac pointed out that not only was the unnamed agency had a great reputation with working with all types of animals, but a member of the Humane Society was on the set at all times to ensure the hairy little entertainer was cared for.

PETA said that there were a few thousand complaints sent to Aflac and is urging the insurance company to pull the ad and to never use the little walking carpets in commercials again. But maybe Aflac can find a better use for orangutans in general by donating them to cancer research labs as experiments to benefit humans.

What? You think PETA would object to having orangutans be used to see if new cancer drugs actually work? Sure they would, but at least these animals would die for a good purpose. And if PETA complains about it, then they really are hypocrites.

It was just reported by Newsweek that since 1998, PETA has killed nearly 85 percent of animals, that’s 17,000 pets, the organization “rescued.” And get this. The organization that loves animals so much says that putting them to sleep is a necessary evil to rid the world of over-populated pets. So it just seems unusual that PETA isn’t exactly crazy about the idea that extra hard work can prevent the majority of these animals from being killed.

Newsweek interviewed attorney Nathan Winograd, author of “Redemption: The Myth of Pet Overpopulation and the No Kill Revolution in America,” and Bonney Brown, executive director of the Nevada Humane Society, who both say that there are better alternatives, such as P.R. and media outreach programs and improving volunteerism at animal shelters.

“…We can find homes for virtually all of the healthy animals we are now killing,” Winograd told Newsweek.

PETA claims that it’s not possible to have no-kill animal shelters and that those shelters across the nation actually turn away animals. But Brown insists that is not the case and they are doing it much cheaper than PETA’s $30 million budget.

In addition to bizarre attacks on celebrities for wearing fur or implying that an insurance company may be abusing an animal, whose favorite pastime is picking fleas off its mate and eating them, it seems that PETA doesn’t have its priorities in order in the actual protection of healthy animals.

Maybe it’s best if they clean up their own act first before condemning an international health insurance company for using an entertaining circus animal.