Presidential debates: the art of cherry-picking

cher·ry–pick: counting the hits and forgetting the misses; seeing only what you wish to see. Overlooking and ignoring evidence, while encouraging your audience to be equally blind.

I have a love/hate relationship when it comes to presidential debates. I think debates are exciting and I enjoy watching them, especially while reading all of the reactions on Twitter. However, the theatrics and the need for constant fact-checking are ruining the excitement and overall potential of this race.

In a perfect world, debates would provide specific, factual information and would help undecided voters make up their minds. Instead we get half-truths, pants-on-fire lies and, in turn, apathetic voters.

One good thing about all of this is that it has encouraged me to be even more on point with what’s really going on. I’ve learned to be skeptical with what’s being said and I think it’s sad that so many Americans accept what they’re told at face value. Almost everything that was said in Tuesday’s debate could be challenged.

Clearly, we could go on and on and on. Which is why it is so much easier for the public to latch on to Big Bird, gang bangers and binders full of women.

I can only imagine what the final debate in Boca Raton will offer.

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High gas prices leading the way to independence from OPEC and crude oil?

As I watch tonight’s Presidential Debate, I can’t help but think back to a story I posted on The Digital Bullpen back in April. Think you know everything about natural gas, coal and alternative energy options? Be informed…

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On March 9, after 39 days of increases, the national average price of gasoline was $3.758 per gallon. Sixteen days later, it was $3.894 and climbing. Today, it teeters near $4.

Is it possible rising gas prices could actually be a good thing?

“What’s good about high gasoline prices is it sets in motion the market forces that will cause gasoline prices to fall,” said Christopher Thomas, an associate professor in the College of Business Administration who holds a doctorate in economics. “When it goes up, two valuable things happen: consumers will buy less gasoline and some of them; will make permanent changes in their consumption behavior. They will get rid of their gas-guzzling cars and switch to more gasoline efficient cars.”

Thomas said this will not just help today, but in the future in reducing the demand for gasoline, which creates a downward pressure on future prices.

And that’s just on the demand side of things.

“Producers, when they see higher gasoline prices, they want to add to their capacity to produce gasoline,” he said. “So rising prices cause both an increase in supply and a decrease in demand. That’s a good thing.”

Another good thing, Thomas said, is that rising prices of gasoline will force us from fossil fuels to alternative fuels, such as natural gas.

In fact, in March 2012, GM and Chrysler announced they will soon sell trucks that run on both natural gas and gasoline. Thomas said this wouldn’t be happening without the rising prices of gasoline and the falling prices of natural gas.

Thomas said the benefits to natural gas are that it is cleaner than the dirty coal that is used now, and is very abundant and cheap.

“We have a 100 to 200 year domestic supply,” he said. “All the natural gas we’ll ever burn, we don’t have to buy one bit of it from foreigners. Domestically produced, it is very cheap.”

Thomas said the gasoline equivalent is 75 cents to $1 a gallon. The reason we have not been accessing it already is the technology is just now being discovered and implemented.

“It’s going to change the nature of our energy markets substantially within the next few years,” he said. “We’ll be much less dependent on OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) and much less dependent, I might add, on dirty coal.”

Thomas said when oil companies drill for crude oil they also find natural gas.

“As we say in economics, the marginal cost is zero,” he said. “The cost of taking the natural gas out is a big fat zero, so even if the price is low, it’s still above the cost.”

Thomas said it is also necessary to consider the potential of natural gas because of the ongoing tensions in the Middle East and the price of crude oil going up.

“You still need crude oil for some things,” he said. “But natural gas can replace crude oil for many things, and in time, and this is where the complexity comes in, the ability to substitute natural gas for crude oil grows increasingly easy to do. Two years from now this will be commonplace.”

Check out a recent story I did on a USF student who will soon embark on his first mission trip!

JOU 2100 Reporting

It’s a hot and sticky afternoon at USF’s Bull Market. David Guetta’s “Turn Me On” plays on loudly, while table representatives eagerly tout their goods and services. Farther down the line, two young men wearing white, button-down shirts, ties and dark slacks stand on the sidewalk, smiling at passers-by. Their nametags reveal they are elders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who are serving their mission in Florida.

The display table is for the USF Latter Day Saints Student Association and is covered with religious literature. Copies of The Book of Mormon, For the Strength of Youth – Fulfilling Our Duty to God and The Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ are ready for distribution.

Behind the table sits a young man wearing a black T-shirt and khaki shorts, and although he may not be dressed the part, he, too, will soon begin a mission…

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