Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Should I be writing for the NY Times???

On Saturday I wrote a blog entry detailing best first policy steps for Obama with emphasis on how to get the economy back on track.

On Sunday, I see the following Op-Ed piece by Al Gore appear in the NY Times entitled The Climate For Change. In his article Gore outlines why and how a bold plan to combat climate change will simultaneously battle our economic problems.

Al Gore writes:
Here is the good news: the bold steps that are needed to solve the climate crisis are exactly the same steps that ought to be taken in order to solve the economic crisis and the energy security crisis.

First, the new president and the new Congress should offer large-scale investment in incentives for the construction of concentrated solar thermal plants in the Southwestern deserts, wind farms in the corridor stretching from Texas to the Dakotas and advanced plants in geothermal hot spots that could produce large amounts of electricity.

Second, we should begin the planning and construction of a unified national smart grid for the transport of renewable electricity from the rural places where it is mostly generated to the cities where it is mostly used...
Third, we should help America’s automobile industry ... to convert quickly to plug-in hybrids that can run on the renewable electricity that will be available...
Fourth, we should embark on a nationwide effort to retrofit buildings with better insulation and energy-efficient windows and lighting.

I wrote in MY blog:
As well, we should embark on a 21st-century "greening" of America by outfitting government with energy efficient design, encouraging businesses to use green technology, and to fundamentally alter the way America approaches building design, energy usage, and product consumption. If any help is given to the auto industry, it has to be with a clear ultimatum to wean America's cars off of oil consumption.

Then today I hear about this Op-Ed piece written on Monday by Paul Ingrassia entitled Detroit Auto Makers Need More Than a Bailout. Ingrassia writes, "But giving GM a blank check -- which the company and the United Auto Workers union badly want, and which Washington will be tempted to grant -- would be an enormous mistake. The company would just burn through the money and come back for more. Even more jobs would be wiped out in the end."

Next, Thomas Friedman expands upon Ingrassia's arguments, in an Op-Ed piece entitled How to Fix a Flat, saying,
Any car company that gets taxpayer money must demonstrate a plan for transforming every vehicle in its fleet to a hybrid-electric engine with flex-fuel capability, so its entire fleet can also run on next generation cellulosic ethanol.

Lastly, somebody ought to call Steve Jobs, who doesn’t need to be bribed to do innovation, and ask him if he’d like to do national service and run a car company for a year. I’d bet it wouldn’t take him much longer than that to come up with the G.M. iCar.

In Summary - my original idea was detail-less, as it was part of a greater plan, but the tenants of my plan, have been spelled out brilliantly by the minds of some of the best 21st century thinkers. Now, if only I had written my ideas in more detail.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Memo to Obama

On Friday, President-elect Barack Obama gave his first press conference since being elected as the United States' 44th president (if you missed it, I have included it at the end of this post). Obama made it very clear that his first priority as president would be the economy. This is, of course, the most prudent action he could take; however, it is promising that he has moved quickly on assembling an economic advisory team, and appears to be soliciting advice concerning the economy from a broad range of political and economic minds. Certainly, it is better to get ideas from a diverse set then from a small group of same minded loyalists. It is this "Big Tent" bipartisan approach that holds the true potential for Obama's presidency. A good start, but still has a steep hill to climb.

With that said, I'd like to offer the following advice to Obama concerning best first steps once sworn in as president.

Dear President-elect Obama:

The following is my unsolicited advice on possible best first steps to take.

  1. Work with Congress to pass a "Real Economic Stimulous Plan." The plan should be an Eisenhower style government spending project that should update, revitalize, and secure America's roads and bridges. As well, we should embark on a 21st-century "greening" of America by outfitting government with energy efficient design, encouraging businesses to use green technology, and to fundamentally alter the way America approaches building design, energy usage, and product consumption. If any help is given to the auto industry, it has to be with a clear ultimatum to wean America's cars off of oil consumption.
    This will be a multi-year long-term project that will not come cheaply. It will, however, create jobs, spur growth, cut energy expenditures, increase energy independence, and rebuild America's infrastructure.
  2. As soon as the economic spending package is signed you must quickly work on cutting the budget line by line and cutting government spending. Every department should be ordered to cut their budgets by 1% (including the Department of Defense). Dollars that go to state governments should not be cut, and could possibly be increased, but only with a caveat that state programs receiving federal dollars should be evaluated for efficiency from the bottom up. At all levels of government, there should be a "suggestion box" initiative. This initiative would allow consumers of government programs, low-level employees and managers, interns,and any interested parties to suggest ways to make government programs more efficient without fear of retribution. As a consumer of a number of government social programs, I have witnessed gross inadequacies and waste of dollars. I have personally tried to save the state money, but was not taken seriously, because of strict rules and regulations. Thus, programs that generally work, and have great benefit to society, should be allowed the flexibility to adopt best practices and change spending habits to promote efficiency. Again, this will only happen with a bottom-up approach that is demanded and supported from the top. Indeed, this is the best way to use your scalpel.
  3. Health-Care: Create a bipartisan commission to study your healthcare plan, revise as needed, and recommend the best and most cost efficient plan for reducing healthcare costs across the board, increasing health care availability to all, and bringing healthcare into the 21st century. The commission should contain the following people -- the Sec. of Health and Human Services, the Commissioner of Medicaid and Medicare services, your top three advisers on your healthcare plan, majority leader of the House and Senate (Pelosi and Reed), Minority Leader of the House and Senate, 5 Congress members from each side of the aisle, and 6 to 9 important community and business members, including a health-care rep, an advocare for people with disabilities, a consumer advocate for families, an hospital representative, and so-forth.

    The commission should be given a time limit, and all proceedings should be open and transparent, including being fully televised. You should either submit a list of your priorities to be considered for discussion, or you should be the moderator of the discussion. A final recommendation, with your approval, should be sent to Congress, within three months, with unanimous approval from the commission.

  4. The War - Obviously, while simultaneously working on the above you will be working on your plan, with the advise and council of the joint Chiefs of Staff, your Secretary of Defense, and Congress, to get troops out of Iraq smoothly and safely, and commit redeployment of resources to Afghanistan.

  5. All other priorities to follow - education, social security reform, other environmental issues, restoring America's moral leadership globally, trade policy, and of course any number of emerging issues and crisis.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Posters at the Library

Recently, I walked into my local library branch, and to my surprise the first thing I see is a huge poster for the movie "Journey to the Center of the Earth" draped over the information desk. Then, when I was sitting at the study desk at the rear of the library minding my own business, I look up and see another huge poster of the movie hanging from the ceiling.

I have a serious problem with the library displaying advertisement for any commercial product or enterprise regardless of the material. I believe firmly that the library has a duty to the public to be apolitical, balanced, and neutral. I do not know if the library was paid to hang these posters, but I suspect they were, which would make the deal even worse. Even if they were not paid, my principle still stands.

The library simply can't allow itself to get involved in advertising for any entity that profits, know matter how lofty the company's goals, because it's a slippery slope of sponsorship. Once the library chooses to advertise something, they make a choice to take sides with whatever the product, issue, or entity advertised and all the corresponding political, social, and cultural representations of those products, entities, and issues. When dollars are involved, that choice benefits another party, and represents influence, and the possibility of shaping the library's agenda. For example, I don't care if the movie had a message of peace, love, understanding, share your toys, reads lots of books, treat adults with respect, and eat your vegetables - the problem is that it still has a message, and someone is making money off of that message. The library's agenda should be only one thing - to provide a broad, balanced, and neutral public resource for people of all ages. Ideally (and it's increasingly becoming possible) you would be able to go to the library and choose any book or publication ever produced, and thus the library can never be accused of "choosing sides" based on the materials they choose to put in their collection. I don't mind that they have Ann Coulter books in their collection, as long as they have Michael Moore to balance her, and Thomas Friedman to balance both of them.

Plus, kids are young and impressionable, and parent's shouldn't have to feel pressured to take their kids to the movies when visiting the library. I would prefer if they would just stick with the READ posters and bulletins for community (non-profit) events.

Speaking of their bulletin board, I once tried to hang a flyer for advertising for my own personal care assistants. I would not be personally benefiting financially from hiring someone (besides the greater ability to get a job with proper support) and I felt my ad should qualify for their community bulletin board, but I was denied. At the same time, I noticed an advertisement for an agency that provides home health care workers for the elderly - an agency I knew was a profit agency - and I promptly notified them of the misplaced flyer.

I will be writing the head librarian, and possibly the county commission, to let them know how I feel about the movie poster. I'll let you know how that goes.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

End of the Line or "Just Getting Started" for Clinton???

It wouldn't be a Tuesday primary if I didn't chime in with my picks. With two weeks gone by since the last vote, two debates, and lots of debacles, I am honestly not sure where the votes lies. Texas, Ohio, Vermont, and Rhode Island vote in primaries today. Vermont has always been an independent state and there is no doubt in my mind they will vote overwhelmingly for Obama. Rhode Island - I know nothing about. In the past Clinton has done well in the Northeast primaries, and the few polls out there show Clinton with a modest lead over Obama - so I'll give RI to Clinton.

Texas and Ohio are real unique beasts to figure out. I've spent all night and all morning trying to put myself in the mind and mood of the typical Ohio and Texas voter. I have also poured over some poll data and statistics (not as much as I'd like).

Overall, I am not sure at all how Texas and Ohio will vote. Honestly, I don't think anyone knows. I'd say there are two possibilities.
1) Obama wins big in both states because he has the momentum and Democrats want this thing over. The debates were essentially tied, and all the media buzz around a Clinton comeback is all for not. The voters reject Clinton's 3am attacks on Obama.

2) This thing is super close and Clinton eeks at minimum a victory in Ohio, and possibly both Texas and Ohio. She accomplished this by "chipping away" at Obama's momentum and invincibility. The "kitchen sink" strategy worked on concerned and fickle voters alike.

I tend to believe the latter is more likely, as we've seen a roller-coaster campaign so far. Democrats and Independents really do seem to be divided on what they perceive as a choice between two good options.

Here is my prediction (this comes with a low-certainty warning) -

Texas - Obama wins with a comfortable, but not large win in the primary. Obama will get a 3 point advantage over Hillary. In the Texas caucuses Obama will walk away with nearly all the delegates, with a vote percentage of at least 60%. Clinton has had some last minute scrambling and organizing for Texas caucuses, so the Obama landslide may not be as big as some Caucuses states.

Ohio - Clinton wins a nailbiter. Will it even be decided tonight??? For Ohio voters - it's all about the "economy stupid." The typical blue-collar working Ohioan strikes me as the "down-to-earth" realist type - an advantage for Clinton. Can Obama's message of Hope strike the hearts of the hopeless? Decidedly, it will go both ways in a tattered but proud state.

The Conventional Wisdom is that if Hillary does not win both Texas and Ohio she should drop out. I think if she loses them both she will bow out. But the million-dollar question is what will she do if she wins one and not the other? My guess is she'll keep on "fighting." I just don't think she knows how to accept defeat (for better or worse).

Here are some clever campaign ads that are bombarding the airwaves in Ohio and Texas:

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Wisconsin Primary

Today Wisconsin holds a primary for both Republican and Democratic presidential candidates. Also today, Hawaii holds a caucus for Democrats, and Washington State is holding an essentially meaningless primary.

The primary in Washington State is required by state law, but Democratic and Republican rules required caucuses, which were held February 9th. Democrats will ignore the primary results, and Republicans will use the primary results to choose half the state's delegates. Though - interestingly, the Republican caucus in Washington was super close, and McCain was declared by state party officials to be the winner before all the votes were counted, while Huckabee disputes the win. Will Republican primary voters revolt against the caucus results and select Huckabee? Probably. Will it matter? Probably not.

Hawaii will be an overwhelming win for Barack Obama. I predict he will get at least 75% of the vote. Hawaii is a caucus state (favoring Obama), a progressive state (favoring Obama), and Obama was born in the state.

Wisconsin is the real key today. I have been studying the state's primary and it's electorate, and it is a truly enigmatic race. First, I went to the Milwaukee Sentinal-Journal to check out their primary news coverage. Next, I checked out NPR's news coverage. And finally, I looked at US Census Bereau statistics for Wisconsin. This is in addition to my regular patrolling of election coverage, which was generic at best.

Analysis - With Wisconsin being an open primary (anyone can choose to vote for either a Republican or Democratic candidate regardless of party affiliation) and with same-day registration, it makes this contest uniquely interesting. With McCain the presumptive nominee for the Republicans, will Republican voters try to influence the Democratic vote? Will Huckabee conservatives come out of the woodworks for him still? Or will they come out against Obama? According to NPR the state is progressive, a sign for Obama. The state is also geographically close to Illinois, with many Wisconsonites commuting into Chicago for work - also good for Obama. The state is primarily white (90%) - not necessarily a telling sign for either Obama or Clinton. Obama has won some of the whitest places in America, but those states held mostly caucuses which have overwhelmingly favor Obama. I'd like to see some stats on the age ranges in Wisconsin. How many universities and college age students? The 65+ crowd in the state (13%) doesn't differ much from national stats. The older crowed will lean towards Clinton, and the younger toward Obama. All polls, except one by the American Research Group (I do not know anything about this group) have Obama winning by comfortable margin. The ARG poll interests me because I wonder how their methodology differed from all other polls.

Polls, conventional wisdom, anecdotal evidence, and even the race momentum strongly supports Obama winning Wisconsin. The certainty of it all is what scares me. I just don't think Clinton can be counted out so easily. This is the scenario that occurred right before New Hampshire, and I predicted incorrectly for Obama to win. Clinton turned up the juice in New Hampshire and pulled out all the stops to win - I think she is capable of the same in Wisconsin.

Conclusions - Clinton wins a nail-biter. In the end it is the "hmmmmm" voters that decide the outcome. The "hmmmm" voters are the ones who know the importance of voting, and make an effort to vote, but have no idea who to vote for. They step in the booth and make their decision last minute. These voters, I believe, overwhelmingly favor Clinton. Obama's campaign is one of passion, and his voters will come on strong, and early. Clinton's voters are steadfast, but her votes come from the casual voter. The casual Democratic voter see both candidates favorably, but leans towards Clinton because of her familiarity and experience. Obama and Clinton will end up with nearly identical delegate totals, but the popular vote win will give Clinton a boost.

Can Huckabee pull out a surprise win? It's a remote possibility, especially if independent/moderate Republicans either stay at home or try to influence the Democratic nominaton. In the end McCain will secure the nomination, and Wisconsin will be Huckabee's final stand.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Potomac Tuesday

Hello Friends!

Turns out I was WRONG on Saturday! Obama swept the Saturday races, including Washington state, and won Maine on Sunday too. Why was I wrong about Washington State? Because Washington held caucuses, and Obama has won nearly every caucus. Why does he do so well??? Obama supporters are fired up and excited about his campaign. It takes real heart to go out in the bitter cold of winter and then stand in line for hours to make sure you are counted; it is much easier to take 10 minutes at lunch-time to make a name on the ballot. The huge turnout for Democrats in all states shows the clear enthusiasm among Democrats for their choices, but the real prize for excitement belongs to Obama.

For the Republicans, Huckabee is still hanging in there. I attribute this to the Republican Party's sharp ideological divide between social conservatives and moderate conservatives, McCain's complacence, and the Media's pre-mature declaration of McCain as the Republican nominee. What reason do McCain supporters have to get out and vote if they think the race is already over? On the other hand, the media bias just fuels the Huckabee grassroots fire, which already had some great kindling.

Today the District of Columbia (DC), Maryland, and Virginia, are all holding primaries (known as the Potomac primary).

Here is how the candidates will do:

1) Obama will sweep all three contest, and pick up the most delegates. The vote will be especially decisive in Maryland and DC, with a much closer margin between Obama and Clinton in Virginia.

2) Huckabee will edge out McCain in Virginia. This will be a big win for Huckabee. Two reasons why this will happen. 1) Virginia has an "open" primary, meaning that reagardless of your party affiliation you can vote either Republican or Democrat. Conventional wisdom says this could benefit McCain, being that he is more moderate, but in reality, the open primary benefits Obama the most. Obama will suck away McCain's independents, and leave the deeply conservative religious voters to come out for Huckabee. 2) There is a sizable number of evangelical Christian voters in Virginia, being that it is the home of Jerry Falwell's church and Liberty University.

3)McCain wins easily in DC, and narrowly edges out Huckabee in Maryland. However; don't be surprised if the Republican voters in Maryland come out for Huckabee - never underestimate the power of the "underdog."

Let's see how it goes!

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Early Results out of Kansas

With at least 3/4 of caucus voters counted in Kansas, Huckabee has a commanding lead over McCain, with nearly 62% of the vote. This is just exactly as I predicted. I am interested to see the results of Louisiana and Washington caucus/primaries.

Let-Down Saturday?

After all the hype of "Super-Duper-Cali-Fragi-stic-expe-ali-missouri-ocious" Tuesday, Saturday's contests seem less exciting. I assure you they are not any less important or interesting.

Here are my predictions:


  • Louisiana - Huckabee wins with a substantial percentage of the vote.
  • Kansas - Huckabee wins in a landslide. (see this article for more proof for Huckabee to win Kansas. Huckabee drew an overflow crowd of 4x as many supporters as he was expecting at a rally in Olathe, KS (in the city). While McCain could only manage to get 300 for his rally in Wichita. Huckabee and his supporters are fighting hard, while McCain is starting to let his guard down and act to confident.)
  • Washington - This is a hard one to call. I think McCain will edge out Huckabee. I imagine that Ron Paul will get a heavier than usual vote in Washington.


  • Louisiana - Obama wins big.
  • Nebraska - Obama.
  • Washington - A virtual tie between Clinton and Obama. Clinton will get 1% more of the vote.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Romney Out - Who's In?

Everyone has been asking me - "Jason what do you think of Romney dropping out of the race?" Well, I was just as surprised as you were. I thought for sure he would keep swinging at McCain to try and get the nomination. Why did he do it? I don't know really, but I imagine he wasn't very happy with his Super Tuesday results, and future polling was not in his favor. Plus, I figure he's just saving his money so he can go at it again in 2012 (I read at that it is rumored he has said he is eyeing 2012).

What does this mean for the Republican Race? I think it helps Mike Huckabee. The conventional wisdom right now is that McCain has it locked up. McCain has somewhere between 714 and 724 delegates (depending on where you look) and needs 1191 delegates to win the nomination; a difference of approximately 472 delegates. This compares to Huckabee who needs at least 525 more delegates than McCain to win.

I have not done all the math, and I don't think it will be easy for Huckabee, but I would not count him out just yet. Huckabee has always been the "true" social conservative in this race, and he has run a very "scrappy" campaign. The hard-core right conservatives, especially the social conservatives, feel McCain is too liberal. Romney was the presumed #1 challenger to McCain, and so Huckabee was largely ignored. If I were McCain I would not get too confident.

Let's look to Kansas as an example of what could happen. Kansas has Republican caucuses tomorrow. I feel positive that Huckabee will win in Kansas. Kansas Republicans had to register as Republican by January 25 to be eligible to caucus. Democrats allowed anyone to register as Democrat on the day of the caucus. At my caucus site there was a line of hundreds out the door in the line for people who needed to re-register. I don't think all those people were first time voters or people who needed to change their addresses. I think they were independents and moderate Republicans changing their party affiliation. In a large part, these people were voting for Obama (as he won 74% to Hillary's 26%). These moderate and independent voters are precisely the voters that McCain needs to win. What you have left is the ultra-conservative base - they will go to Huckabee. If Huckabee gets a strong showing in Kansas and Lousiana (which I think he will), it will inject momentum into his campaign. I don't think Huckabee has as good of a chance in Washington state (also tomorrow), but a surprise upset there would further solidify Huckabee's chances. Huckabee likes being the underdog right now, and McCain isn't comfortable as the front-runner (he's usually the underdog) - so I am not so sure the CW is all-knowing at this point.

I'll be back later with more predictions for tomorrow, including Democrat primaries held tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Kansans Line Up to Make History

I wrote in my last blog about the craziness at my Caucus site. My experience was the rule, not the exception, here in Johnson County, Kansas. Check out the video below to see a local news report showing people standing outside, in freezing temperatures, with snow coming down, in lines to vote for their favorite Democratic candidate. The caucus organizers were only expecting 200 to 500 people to show, and overwhelmed when thousands showed! When the reporter says, "Caucus organizers had to take matters into their own hands," this is the understatement of the year. The organizers at my site were making up the ruls for organizing and counting us as they went, and this is what happened everywhere. My dad called me last night saying that he stood outside for more than an hour waiting in line to vote, because they were holding his caucus at a Church that only holds 250. The outpouring of caucus goers in Kansas prompted the Obama campaign to send this text message to Kansans at 7:51pm last night:

62262 (2/5 7:51pm) Everyone has a right to caucus. Tell your friends to STAY IN LINE! Share this msg with all Obama supporters. Major problems contact: 866-675-2008. Yes we can!

This is excellent news for Democracy in America! We Kansans witnessed history in the making last night. Americans, Democrats and Republicans alike, realize that after seven years of Bush in the White House, our country is heading in the wrong direction, and fast. Last night we saw record turnouts all across the country, because Americans are hungry for real change.

The historical nature of having a woman candidate and a black candidate, has been a huge factor in the excitement in the Democratic party. Democrats like both options. However, I credit Obama with a real movement that crosses all the lines - racial, party, age, and gender. In Kansas, Obama won with a 3 to 1 advantage over Clinton, often in largely Republican districts. Obama won huge in states in the South and Midwest - places like Kansas, Idaho, Georgia, Illinois, Minnesota, and even Alaska. Obama has the broadest and most diverse support. Clinton only proved she could win in the traditionally liberal strongholds like California, New York, and the Northeast corridor. If a Democrat expects to win, and have a mandate for change in the White House, they will need to win everywhere - Obama has that potential.

Hillary Clinton is too divisive a figure. I have a few conservative friends who support Obama and would vote for him, but would under no circumsttances vote for Clinton. The Clinton "machine" is too divisive to rally moderates, independents, and conservatives to challenge the Republicans and tackle the tough issues facing America. No doubt the Democratic race will come down to the nominating convention in Denver in August. Clinton is a strong candidate - I am not naive to her appeal and organizational power. I believe firmly that Obama is the best choice for America, and in the end he will be triumphant.

I am interested in others thoughts and reactions, so please comment!

Caucus Crazy Kansas!!!

The Caucuses in Johnson County Kansas were craziness and pandimonium! It was confusing and exhilerating at the same time. My precinct caucus site was held at the Leawood Middle School two miles from my home. Over 1500 people showed! There were 1100 of us Obama supporters crammed into an auditorum that has a limit of 500! The 425 Clinton supporters were in the cafeteria.

It took over an hour just to get inside and get checked in! The lines were out the door. Parking was crazy, and my wheelchair van lift got stuck. I was worried I might not make it, as it took us over 20 minutes of fiddling with the lift to get it unstuck from the mud.

The huge turnout was especially crazy because it was 32 degrees outside with cold winds, cold rain, and heavy snow looming. Additionally, the 1500 of us were in a heavily Republican district - the most expensive homes in the city - who knew there were so many Democrats!!!?

A picture explains everything, and here is my picture. More to come later...

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Super Tuesday (Sorry I have nothing more clever)

The early news out of West Virginia is that Mike Huckabee pulled a surprise victory over Mitt Romney (expected to win). This could be good news for Huckabee or bad news for Romney. I think it just means we will be in for lots of surprises tonight.

I was going to write a long detailed prediction with state by state analysis, but it's a cold rainy day today, and I'm saving up all my energy to get to the Caucus tonight.

So here is my quick summary. No Democrat will pull forward. Both Clinton and Obama will win some and lose some, but remember, in the end it is the number of delegates that count. Obama will do well in the smaller states, especially in the South, and he will clean up in his home state of Illinois. Clinton will win a sizable portion of the New York delegates, and win New Jersey and the Northeast along with it. Clinton will squeak by with a popular vote win in California, but Obama will get enough delegates that it will be a virtual tie. In Kansas, Obama will get a clear Caucus win. In Missouri, Obama will win in a very close contest. Overall, Obama will come out with a few more votes and a few more delegates than Clinton. On the whole, expect Obama to get about 52% of the vote to Hillary's 48% (if you averaged the percentages from all states).

As for the Republicans - I'm not so sure McCain has it in the bag. I think Romney will win California, and Huckabee will win a handful of smaller states, especially in his home state of Arkansas and overall in the South. Romney wins in Massachussetts and the Northeast. McCain still comes out ahead, but not with enough delegates to solidify the nomination. I'd look to Kansas on Saturday as an indicator of who the Republicans really want for President.

Hope everyone had a chance to get out and vote today!

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Obama in KC

Barack Obama was in Kansas City on Tuesday, January 29, 2008, and I had the once in a lifetime opportunity to hear him speak.

A few days before I heard Obama speak in KC, I was having an e-mail conversation about politics with a friend of mine and he said - "real change will come from the bottom up, not from the top down." I knew this to be true already, and then I heard Obama make it a central theme in his speech, and I knew he was the real deal! He said, "Change will not happen because you elect a new president, change will happen only because all of you decide change will happen."

You can see Barack's entire speech below.

My friend said,"Americans...don't want to have anything to do with real public service." I agree; Obama talked about this subject also. He even had a proposal to give every young American who wants to go to college $4,000/year, and in turn the government will EXPECT that the student give back by volunteering, joining the peace corps, or working in low income hospitals and schools. Not only that, but on the whole, Obama talks about how change will not happen unless we, the American people, take responsibility, and work together. He talks about "hard work and sacrifice."

Another great speech he gave at MLK's church on the day before MLK day - In this speech he says that we have to look within our own communities and take responsibility for our problems (he was specifically talking about black communities, but I believe the message can be extrapolated). Change and Hope do make good slogans, but Obama understands what change and hope actually MEAN. He is truly uniting people. I could see this just by the crowd last night. It was very clearly a diverse crowd of people of all cultures and ages - and not just a sprinkling of non-white individuals, it was truly a mixing of people, especially of black and white.

Obama is taking a hold of people's hearts and minds - conservatives, liberals, and independents alike
(I have conservative Republican friends who have expressed a strong interest in Obama). One reason Obama is having such a powerful effect on America, and the reason he is attracting support from everywhere, is because of the dark mood of hopelessness in the current state of American politics (see this NY Times Article). People know that the state of the union is poor (despite what Bush might say), they know that Partisan bickering is leading us nowhere fast, and they know special interests don't represent the people's interests. This year is a historical campaign. The Clinton's will NOT get away with their negative attacks and traditional campaign tactics; it hurt them in South Carolina, and it (especially Bill's lashing out), will hurt them on Feb 5th. Not to say that Clinton won't carry a few states on Feb 5, but Obama will break through. In the general election, if McCain is the Republican nominee, you will see a more civil campaign. The candidate who sounds most partisan, most negative, and most "Washington" will lose.

Also, Obama explains that the reason he chose to run now (as opposed to in 4 or 8 more years as many thought he would) is because of what MLK said is the "fierce urgency of now." Once again, he shows he understands the true state of our union.

I think Obama coming to KC was a smart move. He gets the most populous parts of two February 5th states. He got Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius' endorsement, and she is obviously a big star in the Democratic Party now. She is a star because she figured out how to win in the middle of the country, in a very traditionally red state. She represents the hope that a presidential candidate can break through too. Obama went to Colorada, Arizona, and New Mexico. He is obviously planning on getting delegates from all the small states. Clinton will get New York, and probably California. But what if Obama gets the rest of the country??? It shows he can win outside the biggest blue states. It shows he has a diverse coalition of supporters.

I was cynical at first, but I am feeling it now. I think we are in truly unique times. We are at a turning point in history. Our true test is now - can we as American's truly turn our country around, and put it back on the right course? Can we clean up politics, our economy, and our environment? Can we renew our status in the world? This is no easy task, but now is our opportunity. I feel an electricity in the air, a surge of real hope, that surrounds Obama. I figure either his candidacy will stand as a historical moment in history - or we have all been hoodwinked.

I was inspired the first time I heard Obama speak at the Democratic National Convention in 2004. I knew then he was different, but could not foresee the Obama "fever" that is taking hold of America. Real change is coming and his name is Barack Obama.

Friday, February 01, 2008

True Evil

I read this article about Al Quaeda members strapping bombs to mentally disabled women and remotely triggering the explosion in crowded markets. I was thoroughly astounded at the horrific lengths terrorists will go. It is one thing to strap a bomb to one's self to blow up people - but to trick, coerce, or force an unwilling participant and blowing them up to in-turn kill others, is a whole new level of vile, senseless, and evil killing.

This demonstrates the lengths to which these Islamic radicalists will go to harm the free. We should not let fear control us and erode our privacy, but we should not underestimate those that wish to do us harm.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Republican Playground

Did you see that so-called Republican "debate," held at the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley California, last night??? If not you can see it here and probably here soon.

I think the Republicans should be disgraced by how their candidates acted in this debate. Romney and McCain were like kids on the playground arguing over the tether ball. Frankly, arguing over what Romney did or didn't say a year ago is a waste of our time (see clip below for the Romney/McCain bickering) - the American people need to know how maintaining troops in Iraq keeps us safer, why the sacrifice of life and money are worth it, and how they intend to finance this war in the long term.

McCain was disrespectful to all the other candidates. He kept laughing and grinning at Romney and Paul as if he were superior to them, like a bully on the playground. McCain has, in every debate, laughed Paul down, dismissing him as a looney. I realize Paul has radical libertarian ideas, and his ideas don't fit the current Republican landscape, but he still has legitimate ideas that should be considered and respected. Overall I think McCain is a good guy, and he has a good record in the Senate and he is a true war hero. But this bullying is unbecoming and disrespectful. My advice to McCain - stop the playing around and ACT presidential!

In the end Huckabee came out ahead. Huckabee was humble, classy, and respectful. He stuck to talking about his positions, and he was elegant in doing so. I realize that Huckabee is a scary candidate as far as his policies, especially social policy, but he the only one actually acting presidential. He has intelligence, wit & charm, and charisma, this is why he is still in the race.

And the media - a total bias towards "front-runners" - they gave Paul and Huckabee very little airtime, and did not ask them the same questions they asked Romney/McCain. During one of the other Republican debates one of the hosts literally picked on and laughed at Paul. Again, I'm not supporting Paul, but their should be a better system of fair play for candidates to get out their message. Let the voters decide if Paul's ideas are over-the-top or not. More candidates should be given a fair and equal chance to make their case. If the so-called "fringe" candidates are truly on the fringe, let the voters decide, not the media. I don't care who the candidate is - Paul, Kucinich, Nader, or even Alan Keyes. Let them debate, and let them debate at the same level as the front-runners. One shouldn't have to have a ton of money like Ross Perot to get noticed.

Ronald Reagan would be ashamed...

Saturday, January 26, 2008

South Carolina Primary

Obama will win, and big!
Clinton will come in second, but don't be surprised if Edwards gives her a challege.
If Clinton falls to third, it will be her (and Bill's) extremely rotten negative campaigning that did the trick.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Nevada Goes To Romney and Clinton

The South Carolina results are starting to come in, but no winner yet. The big news - I PICKED correctly the winners in Nevada! With 97% of precincts reporting in Nevada, Mitt Romney wins for the Republicans and Hillary Clinton wins for the Democrats; both candidates getting approximately 51% of the vote in their respective parties. For the Demmocrats Obama comes in second with a strong 45% of the vote. Edwards comes in third with a weak 3.76% showing. I was a little surprised Edwards didn't do better and at least get 15% of the vote; without 15% he will not be awarded any delegates from Nevada. On the Republican side, the BIG surprise is Ron Paul coming in second with nearly 14% of the vote. The Republicans do not have a 15% threshold, so this means Paul will receive some delegates. McCain comes in third with close to 13% of the vote.

More to come...

Presidential Politics - Nevada & South Carolina

First, I apologize for missing Michigan! The Michigan Republican primary was a tough one to call - I'm not sure who I would have chosen anyway. Mitt Romney won, and I can certainly see why with hi s father being a former governor and Mitt himself having big ties to the state. Romney's win mixes up the Republican race once again, with three different candidates winning primaries, and goes to show that the Republicans are torn about who they want for President.

The Democratic primary in Michigan was for all intents and purposes void. Obama and Edwards did not bother putting their names on the ballot. Because of a state party dispute with the National Democratic Party, Michigan delegates won't be seated at the National Convention. I'm not sure what it's all about, but I know it had something to do with Michigan deciding to hold their primary earlier than national rules allow.

Now, for today - South Carolina Republicans are holding their primary (Democrats are next Saturday) and Nevada has both Republican and Democratic Caucuses today.

Here are my predictions:

South Carolina:
Republican -
  1. 1. Mike Huckabee - South Carolina Republicans are religious voters and they will vote for the most evangelical candidate. Huckabee is that man.
  2. 2. John McCain - For everyone else, there is McCain.
  3. 3. Fred Thompson - Thompson is the second most conservative candidate for the Republicans. He's also a big fan with gun owners.

Mitt Romney will be upset in South Carolina, as he just doesn't hold much appeal in the South. Look for this to hurt his "electibility" factor nationally.

Republican -
  1. 1. Mitt Romney - Republicans haven't spent much time in Nevada (instead focusing on South Carolina), so Mitt Romney leads in polls.
  2. 2. John McCain - A solid second place for McCain.
  3. 3. Mike Huckabee - Squeaks into third, as Nevada voters aren't big fans.

Democrats -
  1. 1. Hillary Clinton - In a super close race, Clinton will squeak out the win over Obama.
  2. 2. Barack Obama - He has lots of support in Nevada, including the largest union in the state, but he just can't stop Hillary's organizing power. Obama fans, don't despair, I am positive Obama will win in South Carolina next Saturday!
  3. 3. John Edwards - Edwards will get a very strong third place finish and he could potentially upset Hilary or Obama in Nevada.

In closing, today will be a big day for the candidates, but don't look for anything to be decides. This years race will go down to the nominating conventions in August and September.

Also, I have some more thoughts about Edwards, and about Vice Presidential politics in this race. Tune in later.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Watch/Listen/Read All the Presidential Debates

Hello Friends.

Check this out - you can find all the Presidential debates in one place!

2008 Presidential Debate Series

Best of all - they are closed captioned for the hearing impaired. But don't worry, the audio is working too.

New Hampshire - Hillary wins Democratic primary, and John McCain wins Republican primary. I was totally wrong about Democrats in New Hampshire, and so was the force known as the "media" and so were the polls. This, ladies and gentlemen, is why we vote! Here is an interesting article by media journalists about "Why Reporters Get it Wrong."
Or you could just take Stephen Colbert's explanation:
"If you keep voting the way you want, rather than the way we tell you you want, then pundits are going to stop telling you how to think!"

This video is also a funny, yet scary, Colbert interview with Republican Mike Huckabee. I say scary because people might actually vote for Huckabee simply because he promised Colbert the VP position!

An interesting fact about NH. While Hillary did win the highest percentage of votes with 38.99% of the vote, both Obama and Clinton actually get the same amount of "pledged" delegates for New Hampshire. There were 22 pledged delegates, and because Obama got only 2.6% less of the vote (36.39%) then mathematically they both ended up with 9 pledged delegates a piece, and John Edwards gets the other 4. You have to receive at least 15% of the vote to get delegates and John Edwards got 16.91%. I am not an expert on the process, but I know that the way in which a candidate is technically chosen as a Party's nominee is by getting the most delegates in her/his name at the Party's nominating convention. Thus, technically Obama and Clinton are very close (if not tied) with total delegates after Iowa and New Hampshire. I only say close because I don't know how Iowa assigns delegates exactly and they didn't assign them right away. So while both Clinton and Obama might not be that far apart in delegates, in reality it is the perception that one candidate or the other is "winning" that actually matters the most!

John Edwards - What should do John Edwards do? Well, it's no secret that if John Edwards dropped out then Obama would have a greater chance of beating Clinton as inevitably Edwards would put his weight (and votes) behind Obama. Obama and Edwards have been very close in philosophy, and actually have been known to team up on Clinton (see New Hampshire ABC debate from link above). While this may be true, I believe Edwards should keep fighting for multiple reasons - 1) He is a very strong candidate by himself. Unfortunately, he is being overshadowed by the popularity of Obama and Clinton, and it doesn't help that he is the "old white guy" in this race. 2) To keep Clinton and Obama honest and on their feet. 3) To show he is a viable VP candidate in 2008 (I think he would make a strong addition to the Obama ticket) and 4) Anything can happen!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Presidential Politics New Hampshire Style

Turns out I was right on with my Iowa predictions for Democratic presidential hopefuls. With Republicans, I knew that Ron Paul was a long shot for third, but I got Huckabee and Romney correct. Now for some news -

If you don't already know - Democrats Chris Dodd and Joe Biden drop out of race.

New Hampshire primary is today -

My Thoughts:

Democrats: Obama "fever" has struck and his momentum is too strong to stop. Hilary Clinton is self-destructing - read this article in today's New York times about some very out-of-line comments from Hilary. Furthermore, this article in Politico describes the "panic" mode at Clinton campaign headquarters. The polls show Obama in first, Hilary in second, and Edwards in third. The real question is, can Hilary hold on to second? Look for Edwards to make a surprise second place showing.

Republicans: The media says John McCain has a big lead in New Hampshire. I imagine that the New Hampshire Republican is a different type than the Iowa Republican, so it makes sense that Huckabee would not be a front-runner in NH. Huckabee's conservatism and religious appeal played better to a midwestern state than to a north-eastern state. Futhermore, the X-factor in NH is the independent vote - Obama, McCain, and Paul will all try to court the independents. Look for McCain to come out with the win. Romney will come in second. The real question will be, who will come in third. Most polls show Huckabee with the advantage, but a Reuters/CSpan/Zogby poll shows a virtual tie between Huckabee, Guiliani, and Paul. Huckabee is the most likely to get 3rd, but I still think Ron Paul could make a surprise showing in one of the early states.


Dems: 1st - Barack Obama
2nd - John Edwards
3rd - Hilary Clinton

Reps: 1st - 1st - John McCain
2nd - Mitt Romney
3rd - Ron Paul

Tonight we will see...

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Today is the BIG day - the Iowa Caucuses. I can not believe this day descended upon us so quickly (the earliest in history). Here are my predictions:


1st: Barack Obama - Obama has the momentum and newfound star power.
2nd: John Edwards - Edwards plays well in living rooms and is talking about issues more openly than others.
3rd: Hilary Clinton - For Democrats and Independents Clinton represents politics as usual and all Americans are fed up. Clinton's fall will help Obama and Edwards who have both vowed not to accept corporate donations, unlike Clinton.


1st: Mike Huckabee - Huckabee seems to have a late lead, and the popular choice with conservative voters.
2nd: Mitt Romney - A moderates moderate who has the money and good looks to get second (and possibly first).
3rd: Ron Paul - Paul is the sleeper. People love him because his libertarian ideals are not politics as usual. If the youth show up today, expect a surprise showing from Paul.