Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Thursday, September 30, 2021

I just watched most of tonight’s Presidential debate from the University of Miami. I watched the full first hour, skipped the majority of the final 25 minutes, then caught each candidate’s closing remarks. I’m currently watching the talking-head wrap-up on PBS.

Impressions… I was pleasantly surprised at the substantive content of this debate, a real rarity in these cases. The foreign policy focus is most up my alley, as that constituted my degree work in college. Because of that, I’m sure I’ll find the next debates and their issues to be less engrossing, personally.

Of course, with the political climate being what it is, the usually-marginalized foreign policy issues take a central focus in this election year. Yet it is a narrow focus, almost exclusively on terrorism and the semi-related Iraq war (with nuclear proliferation in North Korea and Russia’s recent crackdown on democratic institutions barely nudging into tonight’s dialogue). Terrorism concerns are where the action is, and dominates the public consciousness, so I wasn’t expected anything different. But there are other international issues of concern: Growing Chinese influence, relations with the EU and Japan, the Darfur genocide, the latest rounds of transnational trade talks, and lots more. In this regard, foreign policy issues remained invisible.

As far as the candidates’ performances:

The President was exceptionally persistent, requesting 30-second extension rebuttals after most questions. This effectively extended a dogged leadership role that he’s been conveying as Commander in Chief since 9/11. It also helped to dispel some of the dopey characterization he’s been tagged with. From what I saw, he was pretty articulate and avoided many Bush-isms (although he did commit something close in the opening minutes, when he referred to enemy forces in Iraq as “vociferous”).

Kerry was fairly resolute in getting his points across. He was pretty aggressive at attacking Bush on performance and decision specifics, which is the way for him to go at this stage. I was most impressed by how he tried to redirect the focus away from him and onto the issues. Where he fared less effectively was in being overly expansive with his responses: He sometimes tended to diverge a good ways from the original question, and the contrast with Bush’s more on-issue replies was glaring.

This debate was quality enough to get my poli-junkie juices going. As is usual with first-stage debates, this round won’t sway or change many votes — that’s for subsequent debates. But it was a very good start.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 09/30/2004 11:00:54 PM
Category: Political
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check that tan
I must work too hard. So engrossed was I this morning at the office that I totally missed my window of opportunity to get my picture taken with the Stanley Cup!

By virtue of the Tampa Bay Lightning’s win in June, the Cup made a visit to our building. It was here for only a couple of hours — tight schedule and all that. From what I understand, there was a nice long line of people filing in to get a gander. The deal was to bring your own camera and get your photo opp.

I completely zoned out on it. I knew the Cup was coming a couple of days ago, but never had time to check the details. I didn’t even know the thing was set up for today, and by the time I got wind of it, it was too late.

Kinda sucks. It would have been cool to get a pic. I’ll have to hope that the Bolts win it again this season (whenever it gets started), so I’ll get another chance next year.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 09/30/2004 10:42:52 PM
Category: Florida Livin', Hockey
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I haven’t done this sort of thing in a while:

Step 1: Open your MP3 player.
Step 2: Put all of your music on random.
Step 3: Write down the first 10 songs it plays, no matter how embarrassing.

Here’s mine from earlier today, off my iPod:

1. “Running on Empty” - Jackson Browne
2. “24 Hour Party People” - Happy Mondays
3. “Magic Mike & Infiniti - 2001″ - Baby Anne
4. “Party For Your Right to Fight” - Public Enemy
5. “Pray” - MC Hammer
6. “The Number Song” - DJ Shadow
7. “Psycho Killer” - Talking Heads
8. “Hole Hearted” - Extreme
9. “It Doesn’t Matter” - Chemical Brothers
10. “The Race Is On (live)” - Grateful Dead

Hit me with yours, in the feedback box below!

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 09/30/2004 07:20:48 PM
Category: Pop Culture, iPod Random Tracks
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Presidential Debate, Round One is coming atcha from Miami tonight. Because all the blows landed will be verbal ones, the tale of the tape will be measured in words — both quantity and quality.

Frankly, I think it’s a little silly to be parsing sentences in an effort to divine political effectiveness. There’s certainly a solid basis behind such analysis, and undoubtedly delivery during a debate can really swing mass appeal (for or against). But let’s not go overboard.

The kookiest example of Presidential diction cited in the article is President John Adams’ Inaugural Address of March 4th, 1797, which includes an astounding 727-word sentence:

On this subject it might become me better to be silent or to speak with diffidence; but as something may be expected, the occasion, I hope, will be admitted as an apology if I venture to say that if a preference, upon principle, of a free republican government, formed upon long and serious reflection, after a diligent and impartial inquiry after truth; if an attachment to the Constitution of the United States, and a conscientious determination to support it until it shall be altered by the judgments and wishes of the people, expressed in the mode prescribed in it; if a respectful attention to the constitutions of the individual States and a constant caution and delicacy toward the State governments; if an equal and impartial regard to the rights, interest, honor, and happiness of all the States in the Union, without preference or regard to a northern or southern, an eastern or western, position, their various political opinions on unessential points or their personal attachments; if a love of virtuous men of all parties and denominations; if a love of science and letters and a wish to patronize every rational effort to encourage schools, colleges, universities, academies, and every institution for propagating knowledge, virtue, and religion among all classes of the people, not only for their benign influence on the happiness of life in all its stages and classes, and of society in all its forms, but as the only means of preserving our Constitution from its natural enemies, the spirit of sophistry, the spirit of party, the spirit of intrigue, the profligacy of corruption, and the pestilence of foreign influence, which is the angel of destruction to elective governments; if a love of equal laws, of justice, and humanity in the interior administration; if an inclination to improve agriculture, commerce, and manufacturers for necessity, convenience, and defense; if a spirit of equity and humanity toward the aboriginal nations of America, and a disposition to meliorate their condition by inclining them to be more friendly to us, and our citizens to be more friendly to them; if aninflexible determination to maintain peace and inviolable faith with all nations, and that system of neutrality and impartiality among the belligerent powers of Europe which has been adopted by this Government and so solemnly sanctioned by both Houses of Congress and applauded by the legislatures of the States and the public opinion, until it shall be otherwise ordained by Congress; if a personal esteem for the French nation, formed in a residence of seven years chiefly among them, and a sincere desire to preserve the friendship which has been so much for the honor and interest of both nations; if, while the conscious honor and integrity of the people of America and the internal sentiment of their own power and energies must be preserved, an earnest endeavor to investigate every just cause and remove every colorable pretense of complaint; if an intention to pursue by amicable negotiation a reparation for the injuries that have been committed on the commerce of our fellow-citizens by whatever nation, and if success can not be obtained, to lay the facts before the Legislature, that they may consider what further measures the honor and interest of the Government and its constituents demand; if a resolution to do justice as far as may depend upon me, at all times and to all nations, and maintain peace, friendship, and benevolence with all the world; if an unshaken confidence in the honor, spirit, and resources of the American people, on which I have so often hazarded my all and never been deceived; if elevated ideas of the high destinies of this country and of my own duties toward it, founded on a knowledge of the moral principles and intellectual improvements of the people deeply engraven on my mind in early life, and not obscured but exalted by experience and age; and, with humble reverence, I feel it to be my duty to add, if a veneration for the religion of a people who profess and call themselves Christians, and a fixed resolution to consider a decent respect for Christianity among the best recommendations for the public service, can enable me in any degree to comply with your wishes, it shall be my strenuous endeavor that this sagacious injunction of the two Houses shall not be without effect.

Christ, and I thought I was long-winded; no wonder he was a one-termer!

It makes my head hurt just reading it. This is a whopper even by 18th century standards; and yet, it was considered an effective piece. I’d love to see a modern-day politico try one with this much heft.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 09/30/2004 10:27:03 AM
Category: Political
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