Monthly Archives: August 2007

In Praise of France

Last week France (finally) announced that it is ready to help stablize Iraq. The childish attitude of the French over the past couple years about Iraq — the “they got themselves into this mess, let them get it out” attitude at the expense of a people who desparately need all the help they can get — is finally coming to an end. It has long been my belief that Iraq needs the likes of France and the U.N to help in stablization efforts. We don’t need the French to support us (the U.S.), we don’t need the help, what we need is the French to support the Iraqi people and government. We don’t need the French to send troops or armour or bombs, feel free to leave the military efforts to us (of course we won’t complain if they want to commit troops, that would be great). But what we and Iraq needs is French moral support. Iraq needs infrastructure, investment, government consulting, and the development of their oil industry. We need the U.S. and France to stand together and say, “we differed on the need to go to war, we differed on the way to reign in Saddam and the WMD program. But what is done is done and it is time to put aside our differences and work together for the good of the Iraqi people, security of the greater Middle-east and for the World.”

So far, the adminstration of Sarkozy in France is starting out better than we Americans could have hoped. It does not look like Sarkozy will be a puppet of the U.S. but it also does not appear that he will fight us on every little thing. The best defense that the Western world will have against extremism and the rise of the East (China, Russia, and Iran) is a united front lead by the U.S., UK, and France.

All in all, things are looking up in Iraq and undoubtedly this played a large part in France’s decision. The French decision will only help to improve the economic and political situation in Iraq. The U.S. and Iraq need to welcome the French with open arms.

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Filed under Air Force, American History, Anti-War, Army, Britain, Conservative, Democracy, Democrats, Election 2008, History, International Affairs, Iraq, Iraq / Military, Legal, Liberal, Liberalism, Media, Military, Politics, Republicans, Terror, terrorism, United Kingdom

It’s time to Slim Down the Competition

Currently in the Democratic and Republican Presidential races there are too many people running for President and wasting people’s time. I categorize the candidates into three groups: 1. Candidates who have relatively legitimate shot at the nomination, 2. Candidates who are in the race based on principle and have a message to get out AND know they can’t win, and 3. Those who are only in it because, well no one knows, they are delusional. The parties break down like this:

Dems:
Group 1: Hillary, Barack, John Edwards, and Bill Richardson
It is still too early to fully discount Edwards and Richardson, and while they seemingly have no shot, we will keep them here for now.

Group 2: Dennis Kucinich – he has no strange illusions about his chances, but he is making a point by running. I think he’s nuts, but I can respect that.

Group 3: Chris Dodd, Joe Biden, and Mike Gravel

GOP Candidates:

Group 1: Rudy, Mitt, McCain, Thompson, and Huckabee

Group 2: Ron Paul, Tom Tancredo (?)

Group 3: Duncan Hunter, Sam Brownback, Tom Tancredo(?)-He could go in either group, he is riding the fence.

Now, let’s just get rid of the group 3 folks. There is no reason for them to be in, they have not shot, and they have no message. I recognize that some of them may have good ideas and be solid Presidents but they are not going to win the nomination, so it’s time for them to go.

As for group 2, it is healthy to have candidates that are out there to push a message and to provide a different point of view, Paul and Kucinich do this for their respective parties. As annoying as the Paul supporters can be, they are dedicated and sold on his message. Both of these candidates are welcome to stay in the race as long as they are content wasting money on their candidacy.

Often, people complain that there is not a candidate that they like or can give their support to. The most popular phrase in electoral politics from the voters is, “I don’t like any of ’em.” The people that say that in this election either hasn’t really paid attention or will never like any candidate, regardless of how good one might be. The only group of people that I can think that arguably do not have a candidate to support are moderate Democrats (Hillary is not a moderate, stop fooling yourself); although I would argue that Giuliani would fill that niche nicely.

So with at least four candidates in each party’s group 1, there is a candidate out there for nearly everyone, the others all support Ron Paul. There is no reason to have 10 candidates running around and stepping on each others’ toes, let’s slim down the competition already.

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Filed under Barack Obama, Bill Richardson, Brownback, Conservative, Democracy, Democrats, Election 2008, Fred Thompson, Hillary Clinton, Liberal, Liberalism, McCain, Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, Politics, Progress, Progressive, Republicans, Romney, Ron Paul, Rudy Giuliani, Sam Brownback

Mitt’s Ames Bump

Coming out of the Ames straw poll last week, it seemed that Mitt had earned the sort of victory that was sufficient, but would have a minimal effect. It looked as though Huckabee was the big winner of all the candidates. After a week of analysis and watching the polls, however, it seems that the impact of Romney’s 13 point victory was underestimated by nearly everyone except the Romney campaign. In fact since Ames he has seen an extensive jump in the polls across the nation. (Rankings are in parentheses, only shows leader and Mitt)

Pre-Ames National:
CNN: (1) Giuliani-27 (4) Romney-11
Cook: (1) Giuliani-26 (5) Romney-7
Newsweek: (1) Giuliani-30 (4) Romney-10

Post-Ames National:
Rasmussen (1) Giuliani-22 (3) Romney 15
Gallup (1) Giuliani-32 (3) Romney 14
Rasmussen (1) Giuliani-24 (3) Romney 16
Quinnipiac (1) Guiuliani-28 (2) Romney 15

Pre-Florida:
Quinnipiac (1) Giuliani-26 (4) Romney-9
Post-Florida:
Rasmussen (1) Giuliani-30 (3) Romney-15

Pre-Nevada:
Mason-Dixon (1)Thompson-(25) (2) Romney-20
Post-Nevada:
Research 2000 (2) Thompson-18 (1) Romney-28

In each of the polls cited Romney has increased by at 4 points and moved up at least one spot in that polls rankings. Looking at the latest Rasmussen national poll, Romney has even pulled within 7 points against the much better known Giuliani.

While all of these numbers show that he still has a lot of work to do to catch Giuliani, the fact that Mitt is closing the gap and holds commanding leads in both Iowa and New Hampshire demonstrates that the race has practically become a 2-way between Giuliani and Romney, with Thompson and Huckabee the wild cards.

The next 5 months will be very interesting and exciting indeed.

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Hamas, Democracy, and U.S. Hypocricy

Since the end of WWII the United States has had a foreign policy centered around spreading democracy across the world.  The general belief is that democracy, though imperfect, provides the best mechanism for providing peace, building a market economy,  and cordial foreign relations – (not to mention keeping more countries in the good graces of the U.S.).  Some of the strongest arguments from the right and the conservatives in this country for going into Iraq and from the left for interveneing in humanitarian efforts like Sudan was for providing freedom and spreading democracy. 

Last year, after years and years (even decades) of working and negotiating with the Palestinians, Palestine held its second (relatively) free election.  Much to our surprise and the surprise of the West, so-called terrorist group Hamas won.   Many of us asked how that could have happened.  We thought that democracy would naturally choose the most pro-freedom and U.S. friendly.  The Hamas victory came as a shock to the nation, and undoubtedly strongly upset the Bush administration. 

I was extremely disappointed in the Bush adminstration for their handling of the election results.  In fact, I am/was more disappointed in that than I have been over anything surrounding Iraq.  Essentially, the U.S. said that they will not recognize the legitimacy of Hamas as a political entity and governor over Palestine. We will not work with them or support them.  What a missed opportunity for our country to really make a positive difference there, instead we acted like kids and whined about the results, all because the election did not turn out how we would have liked. 

This response on the part of America is as hypocritical as it is childish.  Here we are spouting how great and wonderful democracy is.  When our State Department goes into a country, all we do is push freedom and democracy.  We hear the rhetoric from our President, our congress, our radio pundits, the blogs, and on the television.  Yet when a country elects a group that we are completely against, we refuse to even remotely work with them.  How can we be expected to be a standard bearer for democracy when we act like that?  It is sad.

 The proper response would have been to publicaly state our disappointment in the results but that we respect the choice of the Palestinian people.  They have the right to vote for whomever they vote for.  Then go on to say that, ‘nevertheless, we will work with the political wing of Hamas to the extent appropriate so long as they begin from day one to reign in the militant wing, so long as they behave the way a political and government entity will behave.”  And rather than waiting for evidence of this to occur before we start working with them, we should have started from day one. (I’m not saying that we had to be buddy buddy with them and treat them Britain, but recognize them as valid and treat them like we do Pakistan, we have issues with their government too).  This type of response would have demonstrated our unwavering commitment to democracy, our respect for the palestinian people, and could have provided enough incentive and support to Hamas to abandon its terrorist entities and primarily become a political group, much like the PLO did.  Essentially, it would have provided more of a window of opportunity for peace in the region. 

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Ames: Called It! … Huckabee, Romney the Big Winners

Before diving into analysis, let’s review how I did on may Ames Straw Poll predictions:

Prediction: 1. Romney (by 13), 2. Huckabee 3. Giuliani 4. Brownback 5. Paul

Results: 1. Romney (by 13) 2. Huckabee 3. Brownback 4. Tancredo 5. Paul

Nailed it! Well, I was way off on Giuliani and think I (unofficially) had Tancredo in 6th or 7th. I will admit, that all through Friday and Saturday of last weekend, I was doubting my Huckabee prediction; that was a risk well taken. I am most pleased with my 13 point margin of victory prediction. Anyway, enough with that, let’s get to some analysis.

While Romney won, the biggest news was Huckabee’s second place finish. He had no buses and his organization was poor compared to Brownback. While this may not be enough for him to overtake Romney or Giuliani in January, it will certainly put him in the mix and will earn him outward support from people who were not supporting him purely because they thought he had no chance. Look for Huckabee to get a significant jump in support over the next few polls in Iowa.

Huckabee’s win also spells doom for Brownback. Sam can try to spin this all he wants, but the fact that he hired some 100 buses (by some accounts) and lost to his chief rival, Huckabee, who had no buses, demonstrates the weakness of his campaign. I would be surprised if Brownback stays in through January. It would be a waste of time and resources to do so.

This is also a big deal for Huckabee because it makes him a front runner for the VEEP slot should Romney or Giuliani win the nomination. Both of those candidates would have a fairly tough time in the South, and would absolutely need to run with a southerner. (The short list: F. Thompson, Huckabee, Kay Baily Hutchison, and Charlie Crist – but this is a topic for another day).

Mitt Romney, obviously, was also a big winner in this. And had Brownback or Tancredo come in second, as many predicted, he would have been the only big winner. The 13% victory, as I said in my Friday morning post, is just fine. It is not too low, but it is not groundbreaking. Romney did what he needed to do, and he seems to have Iowa locked up. Romney should continue to have an active presence in Iowa, but should scale it down. Invest more resources in SC, FL, and NV.

Mitt’s victory has been getting some criticism due to the claim that he spent some $400+ dollars per vote. I suppose that this is one way to look at it, but more accurately, all of this is an investment. Sure he spent a lot of money to get people there, but he doesn’t have the advantage of Giuliani, McCain, or Thompson who have built in name recognition. Romney has to work harder and spend more money than any other of the top candidates. The money he spent on Ames was purely for marketing. He did not spend the money to win Ames, he spent the money to get his name, demonstrate that he is electable, and to keep in in the top tier. This event was about January, not Ames.

Finally, some analysis on the other candidates. This morning Tommy Thompson withdrew. He was a nice enough guy and was likely competent enough to be president, but he was lacking everything else. In the debates he looked like a talking statue, he does not carry himself in a presidential manner, and he did not have the bank roll to compete with the other candidates. A person like Thompson is perfect for a cabinet postion, but nothing more.

Ron Paul also did not have a bad day, while 5th is nothing to pat yourself on the back for and was worse than his supporters thought they would do, it shows that he at least belongs a little. Paulites have been complaining about efforts to keep Ron out of the debates, they have a legitimate argument. Ron Paul is a legitimate second tier candidate, if Hunter, Brownback, and Tancredo are in the debates, so should Paul. I think he will stay in the race if only for ideological purposes. He is the GOP Ralph Nader.

McCain is done in Iowa and likely nationally.

I am starting to doubt if Thompson will really run. I’m not sure his heart is in it, at least that’s my impression.

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President James E. Faust, 1920-2007

 

 President James E. Faust, Second Counselor in the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, passed away this morning, August 10, at the age of 87. President Faust was a man of deep faith, conviction, and love for his Savior, even Jesus Christ. He held the same love for his family and for the Church that he dedicated his life to serving.

Excerpt of the official press release from the LDS Church:

“(President Faust) had previously served four years as an Assistant to the Twelve (the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles is the second-highest presiding body) before being appointed a member of the presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy (other senior leaders in the Church) on 1 October 1976.

His most recent assignments included vice chairman of the Church Board of Education; the board of trustees of Brigham Young University; the Welfare Services Executive Committee; and Deseret Management Corporation.

Bruce Olsen, managing director of Church Public Affairs, said this morning that President Faust’s ‘gentle manner and depth of knowledge, which was an important part of his ministry for nearly 35 years, will be missed.’

‘He was a true Christian who spoke and wrote with wit and wisdom,’ Olsen said. ‘Many members of the Church loved his unique way of teaching the restored gospel of Jesus Christ at General Conference.’

Olsen said that Church members around the world are calling to extend to President Faust’s family their heartfelt condolences.

President Faust was born 31 July 1920, in Delta, Utah. He participated as a member of the University of Utah track team in 1938 and ran the quarter-mile and mile relay.

His college career was interrupted first to serve as a missionary for the Church in Brazil and later by World War II, during which he served in the U.S. Army Air Force and was discharged as a first lieutenant. In 1948 he graduated from the University of Utah with a bachelor’s and Juris Doctor degree. He began the practice of law in Salt Lake City and continued until his appointment as a general authority of the Church in 1972.

He served as a member of the Utah Legislature from 1949 to 1951, as an advisor to the American Bar Journal, and president of the Utah Bar Association in 1962-1963. He received the Distinguished Lawyer Emeritus Award from the Utah Bar Association in 1995. In August of 1997, he received an Honorary Doctors Degree of Christian Service from Brigham Young University. He was honored as a Distinguished Alumni at the University of Utah in 1999, and was awarded the Honorary Order of the Coif at Brigham Young University in 2000.  In 2003, he was given the Marion G. Romney Distinguished Service Award by Brigham Young University Law School, and he was awarded an Honorary Doctors of Law degree by the University of Utah.  President John F. Kennedy appointed him to the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights in 1962.”

President Faust gave many speeches to the body of the Church, speeches that I always found inspiring and uplifting.  In this past General Conference of LDS Church in April, Pres. Faust’s talk was the most memorable for me.  He spoke on the importance of forgiveness and not holding grudges.  In the talk he spoke movingly of the wonderful example of the Amish community near Lancaster, PA.  A couple of years ago a traged struck when a deeply troubled young man murdered many of their young women and girls at a small school.  It was a heart wrenching and terrible report to hear, yet the response of the Amish was incredible.  Rather than call for the criminal’s head and demanding justice, they called for forgiveness and love to be shown the family of the murderer.  Their example of forgiveness and love is one that we should all aspire to.  President Faust will be missed dearly, but we rejoice in the knowledge that he is resting with the Savior and his Father in Heaven. 

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What Ames Means for Romney, GOP

Since Giuliani and McCain announced that they would not be participating in the Ames straw poll, most people have argued that the poll (to be held on Saturday) will have less of an impact than in previous elections.  While this is seemingly so, it will still play a significant roll in the GOP race. 

With what has happened to McCain in the last month, Giuliani is likely kicking himself for withdrawing from the poll.  Had Giuliani stayed in and McCain still collapsed, Giuliani would have likely had a whole new constituency that would have flocked his way.  At the time of his withdrawl, it seemed like the right choice to make; it looked as if Romney was running away with Iowa.  While Romney is indeed pulling out a huge lead, had Giuliani stayed in he would have had a real chance to pull out a victory or, at the worst, pull out a close second.  Close enough to give him a realistic chance in January (December now?).    Instead, baring a complete collapse of the Romney campaign, he not only has a lock on the poll in Ames, but he likely has nearly the same hold on the actual caucus. 

Ames means more for Romney than for almost anyone else (of course a few people may be out of the race come Sunday, so they may have something to say about that).  In the extremely unlikely event that Romney comes in second, his campaign would be dead; game over.  This is won’t happen though.   While some argue that anything less than a 10 point win for Romney would be near devastating, I suspect Romney would be fine.  If, however, someone comes within 5 points, Romney will have a very uncomfortable ride to the caucuses.  A 6-13 point victory and Romney is sitting pretty, but in the same place he was before caucuses.  Ames wouldn’t really affect him.  

However, if Mitt can pull out a 14+ point victory, especially upwards of 20 points, the entire GOP race changes.   The other three front runners, will of course, downplay it because they did not partipate.  But it will be hard to argue with a 17 point victory.  That type of victory would attract major media coverage and would likely have a greater impact on the national polls, drawing Romney closer to Giuliani and Thompson.

The most interesting story in Ames, however, has nothing to do with Romney, Giuliani, Thompson, or McCain.  It has everything to do with whose candidacy will be alive on Monday.    Tommy Thompson already said that he needs to finish in the top two in order to continue, so he is as good as gone.  He is not finishing in the top two. 

Both Duncan Hunter and Tom Tancredo will likely finish outside of the top four.  This will likely be more detrimental to Tancredo, as he seems to have been working harder in Iowa.  Tancredo will likely drop out by the end of the month with a 5th or worse finish.  Hunter hasn’t seemed to put much stock here, I think he is in for ideological reasons and will stay through at least the first caucus/primary.

Ron Paul will not drop out, at least not because of Ames.  He is one to watch for in the poll because he has an extremely loyal and dedicated following.  His following is likely not large enough to crack the top four at Ames, although I wouldn’t be shocked if it happened.  Paul will see it through at least mega-Tuesday in February. 

The most interesting race in Ames is between Brownback and Huckabee.  Both have substantial support and organization in Iowa and they have been targeting each other as of late which has increased the drama.   It is likely that only one will survive the weekend.  Romney will win and Giuliani will likely finish in the top 3.  Either Sam or Mike will take the other spot in the top 3.  The loser will finish fourth or worse.  A fourth place finish may not be the knock out punch, but it will be painful.  If one of them finishes fifth, he will drop out.  

Regardless of how significant Ames may or may not be, it will certainly help shape the GOP race – if only to pare down the number of candidates in the debates.   Romney has the most to lose with the least to gain.  The “second-tier” candidates have tons to lose, but there is a lot to gain also.  If the race is close with Huckabee or Brownback in a close second, you could see a fifth addition to the big four. 

Predictions:  1. Romney (by 13)  2. Huckabee  3. Giuliani  4. Brownback (2-4 all very close)  5. Ron Paul

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