Barack Obama’s Acceptance Speech in Denver

Barack Obama has finished his speech and all of the Democrats at Mile High Stadium are now celebrating and an emotional and inspiring arrrangement of music is playing in the background like a score accentuating the climax of a major Hollywood blockbuster.

I’m sure for many, it was a very inspirational speech … full of a lot of ambitious plans and lofty ideals. Personally, I admire ambitious plans and lofty ideals.

Anyone who has followed political campaigns for a few cycles, let alone half a decade, have heard it all before.

Change. Change. Change.

I’ve been listening to that mantra for the past 50 years beginning with the JFK that Obama alluded to. Sometimes it’s worked and sometimes it hasn’t as far as winning a political election.

Barack Obama is simply one more JFK, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. He’s also another George McGovern, Michael Dukakis, Al Gore or John Kerry.

Win or loose, they all have the same message … change, change change. And what do we get? More of the same, same same.

All a person simply needs to do is look at who is in Congress … Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Dick Durbin, Ted Kennedy … the very same people who, after promising the most unified and cooperative Congress in the history of the United States, wound up giving us one of the most divisive, vindictive and unpopular Congresses in the history of the United States … one which Barack Obama was part of … consistently towing the Democratic Party line … more consistently than any other Democrat currently in Congress.

I suppose what struck me the most about Obama’s speech, other than it’s typically inspiring rhetoric, was it’s consistent and absolute hypocrisy.

Accuse McCain of doing nothing about renewable energy for his 30 years in Congress? What about Biden’s 35 years of doing nothing … as well as Ted Kennedy’s, Harry Reid’s, Dick Durbin’s … all of these senior senators that are going to kick him around like a beach ball just as John Kennedy was by the senior Democratic senators did during Kennedy’s administration. And Barack Obama is more “junior” than Kennedy was.

Education, energy, defense,reducing bureacracy, natural disasters, and on and on … ad infinitum. It’s a great shoppng list. Too bad it’s an old one that been presented time and time again by men more capable than Barack Obama.

Obama attacks lobbyists … but simply look a the who’s who list of Democratic rats that cautiously waited to see who was ahead or who it looked like was going to win before jumping on his band wagon … or look at the even more dispicable list of political cronies who either bailed on or betrayed Hillary and Bill Clinton to grab a brass ring on the winning ticket. Those are the real lobbyists who have their own strings of “registered” lobbyists who will perpetuate the system in Washington.

Barack Obama isn’t going to change that. If any of these people actually thought he would, Obama would be a distant memory known as another failed “also ran”.

While Howard Wolfson is now talking about the “meat and potatoes” in Obama’s speech, I’m sitting here wondering … “What meat and potatoes???”

I have sat here and intently listened to a generic, generalization of a laundry list which is, at least, nearly as old as I am.

What’s new????

Where is the change????

“Barack, if you want change, then ask all of those Democratic voters you have gathered there in Denver to vote out all of those old democratic cronies that have been clinging to your coat tails for what seems like eternity. Shake them off and make a real change.

“And get rid of that David Axelrod. It’s hard for people to take your cry of, “Foul.” seriously when the hypocrisy of your doing the same thing … and frequently first … is dirtying the water. That boat just doesn’t float with anyone who has half a brain.”

If you’re under 10 years old, then this is a new and inspiring speech. If you’re older than 10, then you just haven’t been paying attention for the past however many years.

Even the venue is reminescent of events that took place around 70 years ago. And that’s a little creepy.

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Obama Down 2 Percentage Points in Today’s Gallup Poll – 8/26

Today’s Gallup Daily Tracking Poll has placed Barack Obama’s support at 44% and John McCain’s support at 46%.

Defying the typical bounce that candidates usually get during their respective conventions, the Obama Political Machine has managed to loose ground in the daily tracking polls since the convention began yesterday.

It must be a source of absolute frustration for people like David Axelrod, Obama’s Campaign manager and chief strategist. Axelrod, who is firmly entrenched in Chicago’s mire of political shenanagins is seeing his reputation as a political kingmaker severely challenged by his inability to sell Barack Obama to the American public.

The Democratic strategy has become more negative and nasty as each milestone which would normally give a political candidate a bounce has been passed with Obama’s favorability remaining stagnant at best or more specifically declining.

Normally, a candidate would get a bounce in his favorability after winning the primary process. At best, Obama’s popularity after clinching the primary battle increased slightly. The lack of a significant bounce at that time might have been due to lingering resentment over a closely contested race between Hillary Clinton and Obama which appears to be a continuing factor. The fact that Hillary Clinton began to sweep primary after primary after revelations about Obama became public rather late in the primary season could not go unnoticed by the American public. Many people might have felt that they had been deceived by the Obama campaign and a liberal or left leaning news media which was apparently either hiding information about Obama or not thoroughly vetting him as a political candidate and presenting the information to the public in an accurate and unbiased manner.

Frequently, a candidate will get a bounce in popularity after naming his vice presidential running mate. Obama’s popularity has actually declined after announcing Joe Biden as his VP running mate in spite of Biden’s general popularity. Obama’s selection of Biden has apparently made Obama’s inexperience and other weaknesses even more obvious.

Many have viewed last night’s array of speakers including Ted Kennedy, Caroline Kennedy and Michelle Obama as have very little to do with what the convention is all about. Although a tribute to Ted Kennedy in view of his current health problems might be a thoughtful thing to do, it might have been perceived as an excessive reminder that the notion of Obama being a candidate of change could be as much of an illusion as constant comparison between him and John or Robert Kennedy and John Kennedy’s imaginary media created “Camelot”.

Robert Goulet wasn’t really Sir Lancelot and Barack Obama isn’t really John Kennedy. Besides, the entire notion that John Kennedy united the country is as artificial as breast implants. The Kennedy sycophants that have deluged the airways and, more recently, the Internet fail to mention that Kennedy barely won the 1960 election and then possibly only by some adroit manipulation of votes in several Chicago precincts by then Chicago mayor, Richard J. Daley, at the request of Kennedy’s father as was widely rumored at the time.

“Known for shrewd party politics, Daley was the prototypical “machine” politician, and his Chicago Democratic Machine, based on control of thousands of patronage positions, was instrumental in bringing a narrow 8,000 vote victory in Illinois for John F. Kennedy in 1960.”

David Axelrod
and the Obama Political Machine certainly have a problem. How do they minimalize a person, Hillary Clinton, who won nearly half of the votes cast in the Democratic primaries without completely alienating a large portion of the Democratic constituency? How do they maintain the support and interest of the radical left wing of the Democratic party as Obama has noticeably maneuvered to a more centrist position trying to capture a majority of independent voters? How do they convince the American public that their candidate is a serious contender when he takes days to establish a position on serious issues like the Russian invasion of Georgia or the Jeremiah Wright controversy and can’t give unequivocal answers to questions when posed at a forum like that at Saddleback?

Democratic Convention’s Tribute to Ted Kennedy

From Caroline Kennedy’s glowing words to Ted Kennedy’s “humble” acceptance of the recognition he received, a nagging bad taste lingered in my mouth.

Caroline referred to the hope that her father John bestowed on the American people. The first thing that came to mind was a recollection of a lunch my family had with our representative in Congress in 1962. I recalled very vividly Representative Forrester of the Third Congressional District of Georgia telling my father that the Kennedy brothers hated every Southerner by birth.

I also recall the impressions of military trains passing behind my home on their way south to Florida as well as mobile ICBM’s positioned in remote areas on railway cars during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Someday it may be referred to as Kennedy’s Folly … after all the Kennedy sycophants are gone.

While Caroline described Ted Kennedy’s love for sailing, I recalled the report of the crew on his sailboat pumping out the bilge of his boat into Nantucket Sound oblivious to the objection of onlookers. Senator Kennedy is, after all, a leading advocate for environmental issues.

As she talked about all he has done for the American people, I recalled him blocking the construction of a wind farm in Nantucket Sound, a project which would eventually do much to relieve the dependency on fuel oil by the citizens of Massachusetts. Senator Kennedy’s view from his home in Martha’s Vineyard is infinitely more important.

Senator Kennedy certainly does deserve a tribute from the Democratic Party because he represents much of what they stand for.

Obama and McCain at Saddleback

Last night senators Barack Obama and John McCain appeared on a two hour question and answer program shown on Fox News and hosted by Reverend Rick Warren at Saddleback Valley Community Church in south Orange County, California.

+++ Saddleback Church +++

The forum consisted of Reverend Warren asking each of the presidential candidates the same questions over a one hour period with the other candidate unable to hear the questions and responses.

The structure of the program provided a very revealing picture of the differences between the two candidates highlighting their different personalities, ideologies and approaches to a wide range of issues.

One of the most pronounced differences was the contrast between the basic personalities of the two candidates.

Barack Obama appeared very relaxed, confident and thoughtful in spite of his sometimes hesitant and stumbling search for the right way to express his thoughts.

In contrast, John McCain appeared more energetic and excited, frequently answering questions almost before the question was finished with quick, “to the point” answers with rare hesitation and with obvious passion for his views.

Several questions which pointed out obvious differences between the two candidates had to do with Supreme Court justices, personal advisors and personal changes in opinions.

A predictable difference had to do with Supreme Court justices. Rev. Warren asked each which currently seated judges he would not have appointed.

Barack Obama rather quickly named Justice Clarence Thomas citing, in Obama’s opinion, Thomas’ lack of sufficient experience. He then added the names of the other “conservative” or “constitutional” judges on the court including Chief Justice John Roberts. His stated reason for opposing those other judges was their tendency, in his opinion, to make rulings which tended to give too much power to the executive branch.

Similarly … and equally predictably, John McCain named all of the liberal or progressive judges on the court including justices Ginsburg, Souter and Stevens. His stated objection to these judges was their tendency, in his opinion, to legislate from the bench usurping the power of Congress, the legislative branch of the government.

Another area of marked difference were the individuals each candidate named to be personal advisors.

Barack Obama named his grandmother, wife and several fellow senators like Ted Kennedy.

In contrast, John McCain named General David Petraus, current commander of American forces in Iraq, citing his remarkable and successful strategy to reverse the situation in Iraq. Second, he named John Lewis (politician) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, a noted Democratic Civil Rights leader from Atlanta, Georgia and representative from that state. Finally, he named Meg Whitman – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia,president and CEO of eBay. He noted her remarkable ability to start a major successful corporation from scratch which he felt epitomized American ingenuity and entrepreneurship.

Reverend Warren, noting that changing opinions over time might not be considered flip-flopping but thoughtful evolution of judgment and opinion,then asked each candidate what opinion or position they held 10 years ago that had changed.

Barack Obama pointed to welfare reform. He stated he was opposed to the wefare reform that was passed under President Clinton fearing what it would do to people ejected from welfare roles. He noted that he had been wrong stating that jobs or work gave a person self respect and a sense of contribution to and participation in the community which was essential to a person’s sense of self worth.

John McCain began answering before the question had ended, “Drill,drill, drill.” He pointed out the high prices of crude oil and gasoline, the export of $700 billion in American wealth overseas yearly and dependence on foreign oil as security risks to America as well as a threat to the future prosperity of our country. He followed up by emphasizing that all forms of energy production should be explored and developed including nuclear.

There is definitely a pronounced difference between the two candidates.

Some might view Barack Obama as thoughtful and cautious in his approach to world and domestic affairs, seeking the advice of many before making a decision. Others might see him as inexperienced and hesitant, unable to make profound decisions without conferring with a host of advisors.

John McCain’s detractors might see him as rash and irresponsible, making statements and decisions before careful consideration and consultation. Others will see him as experienced and decisive, able to react and lead in rapidly changing world conditions.

There’s definitely a difference between the two candidates … in personality, priority and style. Now people just have to choose their flavor.

There are a number of other areas where the candidates differ that I haven’t mentioned. It appears that the “debate” will be shown again on CNN tonight at 8:00 PM. I’d encourage everyone to watch it. This is everyone’s first chance to view the contrast between the candidates in a relatively even playing field.

Barack Obama, Wind Power and Ted Kennedy

Barack Obama is the candidate of change. How do I know? Because he says so, right? Who would question anything that Barack says. While viewing a recent Obama speech, I saw “CHANGE” in large letters on the front of the podium as well as in three places positioned like the points of the fleur de lys on a screen behind him, presumably symbolic of the heir apparent to the presidency … simply waiting for the coronation.

Obama says he is going to make the United States energy independent by pursuing wind and solar energy. How is he going to do this and bring about change while hanging his star on the likes of Ted Kennedy who is the epitome of back room politics, special interests and, probably worst of all, unbridled self interest.

Ted Kennedy has been the one person who has blocked the development of a wind farm in Nantucket Sound … so he won’t have to view it from his Cape Cod home, reiterating that well worn environmentalist cliche, to preserve a pristine area in our country. If I hear one more politician, including John McCain use that phrase, I’m going to puke. Ted Kennedy wasn’t concerned about anything pristine or environmental or even sanitary when he order his boat crew to pump out the bilge of his sailboat in Nantucket Sound … just one more fat, fat cat politician who will do whatever he can get away with such as running his car into the marshes and destroying natural habitat, not to mention killing people.

Unfortunately, even brain surgery can’t apparently provide Senator Kennedy the epiphany that quite possibly function is beauty. What can be more pristine or beautiful than a wind farm, preferrably the first of many in the Cape Cod area, which can make this country less dependent on fossil fuels and foreign oil.

Wind will power our future

Energy experts are predicting that as much as 20% of the U.S. energy requirements can be met by wind power by 2030. Because of powerful individuals like Senator Kennedy I was careful to use the word, “can”, in the previous sentence.

Upon reviewing a wind resource map of the contiguous United States, it becomes very apparent that there are only three primary areas in the eastern United States that are most suitable for the most cost effective, efficient and reliable energy production. They include a very narrow stip of mountain ridges in New Hampshire and Maine, A very short strip of mountain ridges in the extreme western part of Northe Carolina in the Great Smoky Mountains … and the Cape Cod area. Of these, the Cape Cod area has the most reliable sustained winds with the greatest average wind speeds.

The following is a map of the continental United States showing average annual wind resource estimates. The blue areas have the highest estimates with the estimates increasing from light to dark.

Map 2-6 Annual average wind resource estimates in the contiguous United States

Wind resource estimates are rated on a scale from 1 to 7. With current technology it takes a sustained wind speed greater than 6 miles per hour for wind turbines to have enough speed to produce electricity. This wind speed has to be sustainable for the turbine to be cost effective and efficient. It, therefore, requires an area to have a wind resource estimate of 3 or greater for that area to be minimally efficient.

The following map of the Massachusetts area reveals that in the Nantucket Sound/ Cape Cod area the wind resource estimates range from 3 to 6 with the sound randing from 4 to 6 and the Cape Cod peninsula having a rating exclusively of 6.

3-21 Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island annual average wind power

By comparison, the Cape Hatteras area of North Carolina has ratings which range from 2 to 3 with the Outer Banks only meeting the absolute minimum requirements. This map also shows that the only area in North Carolina that truly meets the requirements for efficient and cost effective wind power production is in the Great Smoky Mountains section of the Appalachian Mountains on the North Carolina/ Tennessee border. This is the only area in the Southeast that actually exceeds minimum requirements.

3-30 North Carolina annual average wind power

The other section of the eastern United States is in the mountains in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine with the coastal area of Maine having a rating of 4.

3-23 New Hampshire and Vermont annual average wind power

3-22 Maine annual average wind power

All of these areas are “pristine”. To reach the goal of having 20% of national energy requirements being met by wind energy by 2030, there are going to have to be some concessions made and a little adjustment in what people consider pristine.

People need to start seeing beauty in function. What could be more beautiful that a machine that produces electrical energy from the wind, reducing our country’s dependence on imported oil or reducing our need to burn fossil fuels to produce that same electricity?

One might ask, “Why not just put the wind farms in the less populated West and build power lines to bring the electricity back to the East? The West has many larger areas with adequate wind resources.”

Today, I heard that the electrical infrastructure of the United States is going to require trillions of dollars in new investment to upgrade it to handle future requirements. People need to consider where all of that electricity to power their electric cars is going to come from. Various power grids in this country are already interconnected to shift electricity through high voltage lines among the grids to handle changes in energy requirements among the various grids. Everyone should know the results when this function fails.

Each section of the country should be willing to shoulder its share of the responsibility of maximizing its capacity to utilize wind power rather than throwing that responsibility onto someone else’s shoulders. Senator Kennedy is a good example of what a person shouldn’t be like, selfish and hedonistic.

If Senator Kennedy were truly dedicated to the betterment of the nation and the interests of his constituency, he would introduce a bill in the Senate condemning all the property on Cape Cod under eminent domain and raze all the homes on that peninsula. The federal government could then lease the land to power companies to build wind farms on the peninsula with areas such as beaches set aside for public use and enjoyment not simply the playground of the idle rich. It’s easy enough for the government to condemn the property of the poor or less fortunate to provide land for a real estate developer to exploit the commercial value of property for the developer’s personal benefit in the name of eminent domain. Why shouldn’t the government do the same to rich people when it truly and actually does benefit the common good?

Can Barack Obama actually add some meat to his populist message rather than some vague hypothetical lip service? If Barack Obama were truly a candidate of change, he would make the above recommendation one of his highest priorities. It’s time for less empty rhetoric and some definitive action. It’s easy to talk a populist message about windfall profit taxes for oil companies which are perceived to be impersonal behemoths rather than the employers of tens of thousands of Americans and the property of millions of stock holders whether they be individual investors or have an interest in the oil companies through their pensions or retirement plans. How will the candidate of change handle the national interest in the face of a relatively few fat cat politicians who happen to be his political cronies and supporters? Obama definitely doesn’t need the added burden of lobbyists. He has enough millstones hanging around his neck in the form of political endorsements from the likes of Ted Kennedy and other political hacks.

The Crude Oil Crisis

I just turned to CNBC to see what the market is doing today. Why was I not astounded to see the price of crude oil up $2.21 to over $119 a barrel?

Over the past several years, I have closely followed numerous oil stocks and traded in them on occasion. One thing that I have noticed is that crude oil prices fluctuate wildly based on “news” … whether it be Nigerian rebels in Africa or the threat of hurricanes in the gulf. Weekly U.S. stockpile reports of crude oil and distillates add a predictable weekly gamble to investing in these stocks and any stocks which have been indexed by the investing public to the price of crude oil such as Fluor.

Appreciating the intricacies of how the investing public perceives the effects of how each news item will impact a particular stock in a subsector of the energy sector is essential to successful investing.

The simple fact that emerging and developing nations such as China and India are demanding more oil and competing with our economy for these resources will ensure that crude oil prices will never return to previous lows but it doesn’t mean that oil prices don’t have the potential for being much lower in the short term.

As I said previously, crude oil prices react to news. It’s apparent that recently there has been no news to drive the price of oil down to more realistic levels.

The U.S. Congress could provide the news and incentive to drive the price of oil down dramatically and drastically … if it had the political will. Unfortunately, we are in the midst of an election year and the possibility or probability of Congress doing anything productive and beneficial for the American economy and the American public other than self serving political posturing is simply nil.

First of all, Congress could pass legislation to provide incentives and tax credits for people to use alternative energy sources such as wind and solar power. In addition they need to force the individual states to do likewise. Many states including the one that I live in simply don’t have any incentives for people to invest in these alternate sources. The federal government is good at threatening to withhold funds from states to achieve expressed agendas such as lowering speed limits and legal alcohol levels. It could do the same regarding alternate energy sources which are now available.

Congress could also provide incentives for power companies to build nuclear power plants. It’s ridiculous that think that France can have an accident free nuclear power program for more than 50 years and we can’t.

Congress should also override the roadblocks presented by special interest groups or individuals such as Senator Ted Kennedy to expedite the development of wind and solar farms wherever they may be the most efficient. The needs of the many should outweigh the selfishness of the few. Senator Kennedy should be able to look out from his Cape Cod home at a wind farm in Nantucket Sound and feel proud that he is doing something for his state and nation … but it simply isn’t in his nature.

I saw an episode on television recently where a person was developing and installing wind turbines at airports, using the backwash of jet airplanes taking off to generate electricity. What a simple idea. Embracing innovation is critical.

Drilling for oil in all offshore locations where practical and where oil is available should be approved. Simply approving the drilling of oil would probably have a dramatic and long term effect on crude oil prices. This was temporarily exemplified by the discovery of oil in deep areas of the Gulf last year.

Roadblocks to increasing our oil refining capacity need to be removed. There is no rational reason for this country to import refined products such as gasoline.

Environmentalists and other special interest groups need to make short term concessions to achieve long term goals of energy independence and moving our country away from such a great dependency on fossil fuels.

Using grains as biofuels is not the answer. The pending world food crisis is in part a result of the increased price of grains both as a primary source of human nutrition and as the feedstock for livestock. Using carbon based substrates from the forestry industry makes more sense since our cars will be competing with pine beetles and termites and not other humans or ourselves. I, for one, vote for eating over driving down the road.

This country has, for at least the past 50 years, been dismantling its mass transportation infrastructure while spending billions of dollars to accommodate the luxury of individual transportation. For nearly 100 years, roads, bridges, urban, suburban and commercial development has been geared toward the wasteful and inefficient use of automobiles and costly domestic air travel while rail and more efficient means of urban transportation have, for the most part, been neglected.

Urban and suburban planning needs to be regeared to be more friendly to pedestrian travel and access as well as mass transportation. The “old time concept” of neighborhood access to shopping and services needs to seriously be reconsidered. Mass transportation to jobs needs to go further than “carpools”. Walking or cycling to the nearby grocery store or pharmacy without the fear of being run over needs to be a realistic expectation.

Global warming is a long term reality … a historical fact. I’m not convinced that a human produced greenhouse gas crisis is a reality, though. There’s too much conflicting data and a fat ex-politician demagogue ridiculing people who question him doesn’t make it so. Buying “carbon credits” is a cop out for business as usual.

The crisis being created by the price of oil and food grains is real and palpable. It’s immediate and calls for immediate action.

Creating “news” and eliminating subsidies for producing biofuels could go a long way toward alleviating the immediate crises. Then some immediate steps toward serious and productive long term planning are essential.

If our government wants to decrease or eliminate our dependency on foreign oil and markedly reduce our dependency on fossil fuels specifically, it isn’t a unrealistic goal and doesn’t necessarily have to diminish our quality of life. In fact, it would most likely greatly increase our quality of life as well as our health.

It won’t happen overnight, but positive steps can be taken immediately if the will and courage exists. Unfortunately, we’re in an election year. And, nothing productive is going to happen other than politicians fulfilling self serving agendas with a lot of rhetoric and no action.