Archive for the ‘Chris Dodd’ category

Iowa Speaks

January 4, 2008

Iowa voters made it official with their selection of Mike Huckabee and Barack Obama as winners of the Republican and Democratic caucuses.  Both victories have to be described as impressive since both candidates attracted many new voters.  It remains unclear what this will mean long term but their individual candidacies have been given a shot of credibility.  Here are some other observations and possible projections.

1. The ranks of candidates should decrease sharply in the days ahead.  Already Joe Biden and Chris Dodd announced they were withdrawing.  Mike Gravel and Dennis Kucinich should not be far behind.  Ducan Hunter must be independently wealthy if he stays in much longer with an absolute zero chance.

2. While Romney may be qualification-wise the best Republican candidate, the Iowa vote is a strong indicator that he will lose to anyone with an ounce of charisma.

3. Rudy was able to under achieve his already low expectations.  His strategy of waiting until Florida is a very long shot and will require that the current leaders to self destruct.

4. Fred Thompson missed his opportunity to bow out and endorse John McCain.  Fred managed to get more votes than John.

5. John Edwards is holding the perverbial 2nd best hand and will plow on to a near certain defeat in each of the next states.  I do not see his presence as enhancing the choice between Hillary and Barack and therefore he will be a distraction.

6. Bill Richardson is on track to be a strong VP candidate.

7. Hillary is in for the long haul and we will soon know whether she is honorable enough to be President.  Her best chance is to appeal to voters on the basis of maturity and experience and that as a woman, she brings a new and distinctively additive view on domestic and foreign issues.  She has the resources and the organization to still win.  If, however, she stoops to slimming Barack, then for my money she is not worthy of the top position.

8. Michael Bloomberg, I would think, is very pleased with the Iowa outcome.  Bloomberg could beat a creationist who does not pay much attention to the news.  If Iowa means Hillary is mortally wounded, then Bloomberg is freed of a large worry.  But Bloomberg is not so simple as to overlook Obama’s appeal to voters.  A Bloomberg candadacy will require more insight into potential Obama weaknesses.

On to New Hampshire and the next round.

Third Parties

December 31, 2007

An interesting phenomenon is unfolding on the political scene.  Most candidates try to be all things for all voters while most voters are primarily interested in only a few issues.  Voters’ hot buttons tend to be those issues that they think about now.  It is only later and often too late that the voter realizes he did not mean “that issue that way”.  Let’s consider:

  • For or against Guns (that means for the NRA position or nothing, regardless of how reasonable your not position may be). 
  • For a woman’s right to reproductive health decisions or not
  • For a comprehensive approach to Mexican immigration and guest workers or not
  • For gay and lesbian rights that are equal to all others or not
  • For Universal Health Care or not.
  • For Private Health Care and too bad for those who do not have coverage.
  • For national effort to reduce green house gases or not
  • For a graduated federal tax system (wealthy pay proportionally more) or some form of flat tax
  • For a clear separation of church and state or not
  • For death penalty or not
  • For pre-emptive wars without Congressional declaration of war
  • For massive data collection on each and every citizen or not
  • For creationism and flat earth theories or not

It is my guess that most voters are not in favor of each and every one of these, yet one or more may seem appealing.  With the current two party system it is difficult to discuss these issue in a bi-partisan manner.  It is far easier for one party to claim they are the party of guns or the party of pro-choice or the party of less government (read less taxes).  This clearly then defines the other party as against guns, pro-life, and big government.  The road to reason is completely blocked.  What is the answer?

The answer lies in (1) purifying the current two parties by adopting more restricted and centrist platforms, and (2) augmenting the voters choices with with several additional “3rd parties”.  Here are my suggestions:

1. Creationist Party.  This would be a tailor made party for all those who defy scientific evidence and believe the world is about 5000 years old.  It will include all those who refuse to accept that monkeys or the likes were their ancestors.  This party wants pot holes filled, streets free of the homeless, a bible in every school desk, and strick limitations on non-Christian symbols in public places.  Most likely they will nominate Mike Huckabee this year after he loses in the Republican primaries.

2. Ron Paul Libertarians.  This is a slightly saner version of the long admired Libertarian Party.  This party is composed of people who have utilized the “common wealth” and made some money.  They are now sure they do not want to share any of it and spend enormous amounts of time reading the constitution in order to find articles and amendments that support their positions.  They seek little or no government, flat or no taxes, and a gun in every home.  In desperation these voters usually vote Republican.

3. The Pragmatists support common sense solutions to real problems and avoid deliberately creating new problems.  Pragmatitists support balanced budgets, fair taxation, and eliminating trade deficits.  On social issues, Pragmatitists believe that everyone was created equal and are inbued with inalienable rights.  The Pragmatists candidate of choice is Michael Bloomberg but Michael has enough money that he may think up his own name.  Regardless his platform will be similar.

5. Reality Thinkers are a new breed that studies the world in cold numeric terms and designs policy and programs that fully incorporate reality.  Wars are fought only if there is a dollars and cents justification (and only as a last resort).  Economic and political tools are the choice of Reality Thinkers in conducting foreign policy.  On social issues, they prefer controlled experiments where data is required before entitlement programs are rolled out to the entire country.  Reality Thinkers primary focus is on ending the use of the military, the environment, and adopting fully renewable energy.  The ideal candidate for this party is not on the scene right now.  Rumor has it that they will coax either Joe Biden or Chris Dodd to become their standard bearer.

6. The North American Union Party is dedicated to “one America” in which a common union is formed with Mexico, Canada, and the US.  This party believes in the power of people, education, and a huge common market.  This party more than the other is domestically focused and has minimal interest in foreign policy.  It’s abandonment of foreign policy will have unexpected positive impact upon the relations of the US with the Middle East, China, Russia, and closer to home, Cuba and Venezuela.  The North American Union Party strongly supports the woman’s right to choose, gay and lesbian freedoms, and strong measures to prevent gun ownership from endangering people.  The NAUP will reach out for Bill Richardson unless Bill gets the Democratic nod for VP.  While Bill fancies himself as a diplomat of the first order, he is a people person first.

7. The King George Party is about security at the expense of individual liberties party.  Supported heavily by AIPAC, Neoconservatives, and a lot of voters who simply wish for the good old days when Government told the truth, this party seeks a right leaning military man to lead them.  This party does not like to be singled out and is likely to seek reconciliation with the main stream Republican Party. 

Maybe the future will not play out exactly as I have suggested, but the chances of one or more third parties is very large this time.  The biggest question will be whether these parties can select candidates for Congress too.  Our Country desperately needs to return to the center and with the current parties that does not seem likely.  Maybe something off the wall like this will work.

Election Reason #?

December 29, 2007

It is amazing how the race for the 2008 nomination has moved effortlessly from one issue to another without any candidate losing their breath.  “Elect me, I’ll build a second Guantanamo jail”, said Mitt Romney.  “Mitt is in favor a sanctuary mansion”, said Rudy referring to undocumenteds working on Mitt’s lawn.  “I’m a Christian and you’re not”, said Mike Huckabee looking at Romney.  “I’m a person of change” said Barack.  “I’ve got experience”, said Hillary.  “And I am not beholding to special interests”, said John Edwards, a trial lawyer with labor backing.  End the war, fight the terrorists, seal the boarders, jump start the ecomony, and bomb Iran were the subject of our candidates’ promises.

It was Joe Biden who interupted one debate by saying that Iran was the least of our worries and that we should wake up and pay attention to the stability of Pakistan.  Pakistan has nuclear weapons and boarders Afghanistan.  Out of control this could be a nightmare waiting to happen.  Today with the assassination of Benazir Bhutto there is a pause and the candidates are trying to quickly spin this event to spot light themselves.

The winner of the “you don’t really believe what you just said” is Mike Huckabee.  He pointed out that there were 660 illegal Pakistani immigrants in the US (probably all in New York driving taxis) and Mike pointed out this was another reason why we needed to seal our boarders.

What should be coming clear is that we are living in a very complex world and a continuation of the Bush/Chaney approach (could also be called the Neoconservative/Israel lobby approach) will only lead to a deeper hole.  The next President must be able to see the longer term and the broader picture.  China and India represent huge economic and political challanges.  Russia is not going to go away and good old Japan could change in a heartbeat too.  The root of all evils is oil.  Alternative energy sources coupled with renewed commitment to manufacturing will restore balance and independence to our country.  Candidates running on one or two issue, fear mongering, bible swinging, or homophoebic pandering are of no use.

Democratic Un-Think

December 13, 2007

The 7 candidates running for the Democratic 2008 Presidential nomination have hardly distinguished themselves in the last 10 months.  To illustrate this, the big news story today are “Obama rising in the polls” or “Bill helping Hillary turn around her campaign”.  Both of these headlines have little to do with how either candidate will govern if elected.  So why should we care?  If the next Administration is a Bush look-a-like, we are all in serious trouble.  Here’s what I suggest for the Democrats.

Strategy #1 should be to run against George W Bush on every conceivable issue.  Each candidate should emphasize how they would be different from George on every issue, from global warming to AIDS to intelligent design to Iraq to Katrina, and so on.  They should point out what were the fundamental flaws of the Bush Administration on each of these issues, and how their Administration would not have those same flaws. 

Strategy #2 should be to link each of the Republican 2008 Presidential nomination candidates with George W Bush’s policies and let them explain themselves.  For example, there was no justification to invade Iraq, and if prudence had been the watchword from the start, even with mis-information, war could have been avoided.  Do not let the Republican candidates pontificate about the surge and the apparent improvement in security, if we had not broken Iraq we would have had no obligation to fix it.  Iraq is no free lunch as 4000 lives and almost a trillion dollars can attest.

Strategy #3 should be a promise of a government of “inclusion”.  The cabinet would be one that reflects America, unquestionable competence, and dedicated to reaching out to all Americans in an effort to build concensus on the key issues that will face the new Administration.

Strategy #4 should be the adoption of a foreign policy that looks to 2025 and the capabilities America will need to possess in order to remain free, wealthy, and strong.  Again the contrast with the Bush Administration’s senseless Middle East and Russian strategies will lead the Republican candidates into a dead end corner.

The point of this exercise is to stake out the middle ground first.  Regaining the center is key to a successful next Administration.  In all likelihood the US is heading into a recession at the same time we are swaping higher paying jobs for lower ones.  In 2009, the country is going to wake up to a less than pretty picture.  The next Administration needs to welcome and draw in the electorate and together seek moderate and compasionate paths forward.

Al Gore

December 10, 2007

As Al reflects on his Nobel Prize and appreciates the World’s opinion of him versus George W Bush, it must provide Al some sense of reward.  We must remember that Al knew he had been screwed in 2000 but chose to accept the Supreme Court verdict without further appeal in order that the country move forward.  If he had known then what he knows now, I wonder whether he would have made that decision again.  And even more puzzling, do you think if fortunes had been reversed, that George would have gone willingly and then worked on environmental issues?

As I wonder why Chris Dodd and Joe Biden stick around in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina with no chance at all, I assume they are playing the only game available.  They must assume that out of the “Hillary, Barack, and John” litter, there will emerge no winner.  The role of the dark horse, compromise candidate will fall to one of them.

I am wondering whether in that scenario an experienced candidate who speaks of hope might not step forward.  That of course would be Al.  He would be free of damage from this circus of debates and would throw the Republican smear campaigns for a loop.  In fact a ticket of Gore and Clinton (with Hillary as VP) might be both poetic justice and politically shrewd.  Gore and Obama might be even more exciting and prepare Barack for the future.

My only concern about Al in this type of play out is that if it is Al, then it is not Mike Bloomberg.  Life is not perfect.

A Pause to Reflect

December 9, 2007

This weekend has seen the two O’s throwing dust in everyone’s eyes.  Hillary is clearly getting the most attention but the dust is just as well dusting John Edwards, Joe Biden, Chris Dodd, and Bill Richardson.  If there was ever a candidate of hope, it is Barack Obama.  If elected, we are going to wake up and hope he will know what to do as President.

Before that outcome can take place there will be a bruising primary campaign. 

1. Hillary will inevitably need to declare who she really is.  It almost does not matter whether she is very progressive or a more conservative progressive.  The issue Hillary must face and over come is that she appears not genuine.  She could be hard as tacks or show a soft side, but what ever. it must be genuine.  Hillary may decide to roll the dice and stay with her current “have it both ways” approach and believe that in the larger states her personal star appeal will win out over Obama.  This might get her the nomination, but it will leave her with a much less committed Democratic base.

2. John Edwards will wake up soon to realize that Obama is marginalizing him everyday without saying anything.  Obama stands for hope of a different type of politics in Washington.  (a very unlikely outcome, however, but many voters are fed up with the current scene).  Edwards is likely to place a verbal knife between Baracks 4th and 5th rib on his left side (as a good trial lawyer is trained to do).

3. Bill Richardson was quoted as saying “What dust?”  Bill’s in this race for VP or a very prominent position in the new Administration.  From his position, when he finally throws his support to what ever candidate is about to win, he will be a winner too.

4. Chris Dodd and Joe Biden are both worthy men but have no chance with or without the Ophra effect.

5. Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel have too busy looking for UFO’s to have noticed the 2 O’s and that is the way it will be even after the nomination is won.

All the candidates must continually be reminded of the following three things.

1. The Office of the President is an enormously difficult job and doing well in it, given all the things that happen through no fault of yourown, is even more difficult. 

2. There is little national consensus on almost all major issues.  It will not be the plan or ideal about the future as much as how the next President can regain American’s trust and bring more of them to the middle or center ground.

3. Bush and Cheney have tried to return royalty to the White House.  This is a huge mistake and we see the damage from it all around.  Set the goal to be a better president than George Bush.

The Dance of the Disingenuous

November 25, 2007

This week will begin the “Annapolis” talks.  At long last Secretary of State Condi Rice will host a summit of sorts where the Israeli-Palestinian peace process is to be discussed.  It has been 7 years already of the Bush/Cheney Administration and the Rosetta Stone of Middle East peace is just getting Presidential attention.  You talk of the horse before the cart, well the Bush/Cheney crowd wrote the book.

It should not take a genius to recognize that as long as the Israelis and the Palestinians are fighting, and the question of the future of the Palestinians was unsettled, there would be a source for unrest through out the entire Middle East.  Or saying it differently, unless the US worked diligently (with or without Israel’s cooperation) on Israeli-Palestinian peace accords, there could be no peace or civil order in the rest of the Middle East.  With Israel and the Palestinians living peacefully together, a Saddaam Hussein could have been isolated and removed without an invasion.  With the Palestinians secure and with hope for the future, Iran could be isolated and made to see their best interest would be served without nuclear weapons.  And of course, without Israeli invasions of Lebanon, Gaza, the West Bank, and overflights into Syria, the Syrian foreign policies could have evolved in a much more cooperative way.

But that is all behind us.  Bush/Cheney have dug a large hole and do not recognize they must stop digging if they want to get out.  Condi is a very weak and ineffective Secretary of State.  She is an accademic who is living in the wrong generation since her expertise is from the cold war period.  Dick “I love oil” Cheney will be in the back ground throwing as much sand as possible into the diplomatic machinery.  George “I love to have my picture taken and to make speeches” Bush will headline the US delegation but do not expect much.  The Arabs may be dysfunctional and the source of at least half the Israel-Palestinian problem, but they are not stupid.  They can see Bush for what he is and will act very cautiously during these talks.

To the 2008 Presidential candidates…  here is another problem you will inherent from the Bush Administration.

The Elephant’s Memory

November 23, 2007

With the 2008 Presidential elections almost upon us, and the sun mercifully setting on the worst Administration in history, Republicans are thrashing about for a theme to unite their supports.  Here are some themes being kicked around

1. Return to the days of Regan.  If we overlooked the Iran-Contra affair and the pathetic “I can’t remember” defense, Ronald Regan has left a strong, positive chief executive image.  Nixon and George I do not make the cut even though they are both better appreciated than George II.

2. Terror, terror everywhere, nor any a moment to rest.  This is a two pronged attack.  First it evokes fear and the knee jerk reactions of hate, distrust, and blind allegance.  Second, it reminds voters that it is not wise to switch horse in the middle of a stream.

3. God likes us better.  This works well with evangelicals, fundamentalists, and any one who thinks they are destine for the “here after” simply because they belong to a certain religion.

4. We can’t trust Democrats, they might do almost anything and probably will.  This seems widely accepted by rank and file Republicans.  This is potentially the most effective stategy as long as the Democrats do not consistantly remind voters of the Bush/Cheney years of extravagances.  Despite the elephant’s large ears, I am not sure they will hear the Democratic message.

The Elephants might do well to remember

  • You can’t fool mother science.  Sooner or later fact and reality rule.
  • Bullies are seen for what they are.
  • Those you kick when they are down vote too.
  • Fiscal irresponsibility and conservatism do not mix well.
  • The largest block of voters is not red or blue but those that are center based.
  • Church and state do not go together.
  • For the long run a balance of power is the best path forward.

Do you think the Elephant will remember?  Do you think it can remember?

Pardon My Libby

November 21, 2007

Rumors are all around that instead of a Thanksgiving goose, our President will give Scooter Libby a “free and clear” pardon, ending the neoconservative melt down.  There is nothing clearer to show why this group’s thinking is dangerous.  The man was found guilty of perjury by a jury of peers and yet the right wingers say he was a patriot so he should be excused.  Does the ends justify the means sound familiar?

Libby’s conviction is not about an over worked public servent who inadvertantly forgot some key piece of information.  Scooter was a willing participant in a conspiracy to teach a whistle blower and all future whistle blowers who they were screwing around with.  Darth Vader Cheney is a mean hombre.

The right wing whiners cry that Libby’s conviction was not about a conspiracy but about perjury in an investigation of a non-crime.  In other words, the prosecutors did not charge Scooter with any conspiracy or actual violation of the law with regards to Valerie Plame.  This is true but as usual only a fraction of the truth.  Prior to that, Scooter’s boss, Dick Cheney, had declared all relevant information sought by the prosecutor as “classified” and therefore unavailable to the Justice Department.  Now who’s setting the rules?

There will be no surprise in the pardon of Scooter.  The only question is when.  There are many more dark, embarassing, and disgusting secrets about Cheney, Rove, and Bush’s  exploits that the inner circle is keeping quiet.  If it is seen that Scooter has gotten shafted, watch out, the flood gates will open.

Good News, Bad News

November 20, 2007

Let’s start with the good news.  More and more news reports are describing a large improvement in the general security situation in Iraq and particularly in Baghdad.  This is good news and has been accompanied with a drop in US casualties also.  Reducing the scope of our Iraq mission and bringing substantial numbers of troops home seems realistic now.  To be sure we are very unlikely to see it on the Bush watch but whoever the next President is, can look forward to favorable conditions.  OK, what’s the bad news?

In Sunday’s New York Times Opinion page, Frederick W. Kagan (you remember him, “Let’s Surge Again” fame) and Michael O’Hanlon (you remember him as the right wing of the Brookings Institute) co-authored a piece on Pakistan.  The short version goes like this. 

  • Pakistan’s Musharraf Government is about to fall.
  • Pakistan has nuclear weapons.
  • Pakistan has a lot of radical extremists.
  • Nuclear weapons and extremists don’t mix.
  • The US needs to move plenty of troops into Pakistan to protect the Government and the nuclear weapons.

Kagan and O’Hanlon dressed this opinion in the starkest of terms.  Unless the US steps in, terrible things are going to happen to the US.  So pick up our marbles in Iraq and move quickly to Pakistan.  The authors do not rule out a coalition but suggest that the speed that is needed will be too fast for the formation of a coalition.  I assume after writing this piece, Kagan and O’Hanlon went to bed with a glass of milk and some cookies.

This is a large warning about what the conservative right of our country is thinking.  Just as with Iraq, they have failed to consider collateral consequences and in particular whether there recommendations are in the best interest of the US.  Let me observe:

1. Pakistan lies in southern Asia and boarders India, China, Afghanistan, and Iran.  Both India and China have very real issues with a radical, nuclear armed Pakistan on their boarder.

2. Pakistan is a country of immense poverty and an economy that is not likely to improve it in anyone’s life time.  A US occupying force will be painted with a negative brush no matter what it does because it will not be able to cure the root problem.

3. Pakistan’s religious leaders will have a field day with infidel occupiers and will receive support from far and wide in the Islamic world.

4. The US can not afford to commit to another occupation and the spreading thin again of US strategic military resources.  We are rotting from within and we need to fix that first.

5. What would be next after Pakistan?  As the world’s policeman or the 21st century Rome, where would we stop.  Imperial countries all end up the same way, and that is not good.

6. But let’s ask the most basic and simplest question of all.   Under the worst conditions and a radical, Islamic extremist Government replaces Musharraf, WHY would the US be more probable a target of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons than India, China, Russia, or any other country? 

There is no natural reason.  Of course we do occupy Afghanistan and Iraq.  We do support Israel with uneven weight in their conflict with the Palestinians.  We do treat Iran and Syria as something worse than second class citizens.  We do support the Christian minority in Lebanon.  And we are a very rich country that does little to support real economic development in Pakistan.

We need to step back and tend to the messes we have already made before we foolishly walk into another.  Middle East peace would be a wonderful start.  True coalition building would be another.  Think about it, why would Russia, China, or India want Pakistan with radicals holding the triggers to nuclear weapons? 

Bush and Cheney have squandered the US reputation as an honest broker.  Before we can regain it, we must fix the messes we have made.