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.”

Obama: I’m going to Disney World!

Obama's audio-animatronic at Disney's Hall of Presidents - photo credit WDW

I guess I came up with the most obvi headline because the Orlando Sentinel (and now several others) decided on the same one. I’ll chalk it up to great minds thinking alike…

The news broke around noon today that the President will indeed visit The Mouse on Thursday to deliver a speech about tourism.

A White House aide stated:

On Thursday, the President will travel to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, where he’ll unveil a strategy that will significantly help boost tourism and travel, an important sector in the U.S. economy. The action will be taken as part of the President’s “We Can’t Wait” agenda of executive actions that will aid job growth and don’t require congressional approval.

Obama was last in Orlando last October for a fundraiser. He apparently hit up a downtown Orlando bar for a pint of Guinness. My man!

My first thought upon hearing the news was, “I wanna gooooooo.” But, alas, I’ll be in class. #collegestudentproblems

Many of the Disney sites and Twitter accounts are already buzzing about the news and the main topic of discussion is whether Obama will visit himself in the Hall of Presidents at Magic Kingdom.

Lou Mongello, host of WDW Radio, tweeted:

With Obama visiting Disney World on Thursday, did you know that no American President has ever seen himself in The Hall of Presidents? #Yet

NBD, right?

Well, for this Disney nerd it is.

More updates to follow…

**UPDATE**

According to my local news station:

Mr. Obama is expected to arrive in Orlando aboard Air Force One at 11:40 a.m. and leave at 2:15 p.m

He will speak at Cinderella Castle in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World at 12:35 p.m.

Watch it LIVE: HERE
 or HERE

Also, a Tweeter with the handle @easywdw is there right NOW and he’s posting lots of neat pictures.

I guess I should not be surprised that guests are not allowed anywhere near the Castle. However, I was not imagining as many barricades and blocked off areas…

Photo courtesy of @easywdw