Friday, February 01, 2008

A super weekend

Tomorrow, I am going to celebrate the Chinese New Year with a friend from church. gong xi fa cai! I really need to restart my ChinesePod lessons.

Sunday, I am going to watch my New England Patriots (since 1998) beat the tar out of Eli "spoiled brat" Manning's New Jersey Giants in the Super Bowl. While I grew up in Utah, I never really got why we were supposed to like Denver teams. In fact, I hated them. I did like the 49ers, because of the constant glowing coverage of Steve Young and Joe Montana, but I fell hard for the Pats, even when they sucked (Pete Caroll era). So I feel justified in cheering them on now that they are so good. Same goes for the Red Sox.

And then Tuesday (I know this is a stretch) is Super Duper Tuesday. For election night, my wife and I love to order food and watch the results come in and discuss the speeches etc. Our dog Poe is so excited that John McCain looks to be practically sweeping this round. She will even be a poll worker all day that day, so I will give you her turnout anedotes, and please be nice to her if you vote in the lower aves. She will be there from before 7 a.m. until after 8 p.m. when the polls close. And basically gets paid squat.

In 2000, I routed for McCain over Bush and Gore over Bradley. For some reason, I wanted the Republican nomination to continue on because it was so exciting, and couldn't stand the Democratic one, because it was so boring. Here both are facinating and I wish both could go on. I really think big national primaries are a mistake. Usually, it results in a tarmac campaign where media consultants get a big piece of the ad budget they push for, go figure. Thankfully, much more money is being spent on GOTV and field this year, at least on the Democratic side.

Having a series of primaries in different states a week or two a part for months is a much better way to really energize a party's base, generate good campaign staff for the fall and future elections, and to keep up lots of free media. This is true even it costs more to do intensive week-by-week campaigns. More importantly, parties prevent a steam roller effect if the contests are spaced far enough apart (or the candidates are strong enough with good field teams) that it isn't a purely "bounce nominee" ala John Kerry. I think most Democrats now look back at the 2004 race and say Edwards or Clark or Dean would have been a much better nominee than John Kerry.

While it is cool that Utah is getting all this attention for once, I would be even better if Utah was in the next round or two, since it looks like Obama and Hillary will both be in the race for another month at least. (I don't know about Mitt)

Anyway, I am looking forward to the weekend.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

not really about the cali debate

While Hillary and Obama were prepping for their big debate, John Edwards was watching his UNC Tarheals drub the BC Eagles. He was sitting next to his eldest daughter, who seemed to be enjoying herself tremendously. JRE meanwhile, looked despondent even while his alma mater was beating John Kerry's law school. It was a very human moment. I am sure as happy he was to see his team up close and to have an evening with his daughter, but was understandably sad that he wasn't still in the race.

I am surprised he dropped out when he did but I guess he did it to maintain maximum positives when he left and to make himself an influential endorser. Maybe he was thinking about his choice.

The debate was very cordial and I thought they both did pretty well. Obama is better off when it is sitting down and friendly, but he still needed to wow viewers and knock her down to some extent. And that didn't happen really. Still, the race is tightening as more people are tune in and the race narrows to two.

Anyway, Lost is back, so I am going to watch it.

Small Lake City

So yesterday, I was playing basketball with some guys from a friend's Single's Ward like I usually do Wednesday nights...and a guy came over to me. It was a person I hadn't seen since I was 16: C.J. C.J. and I were friends during grade school; I invited him to my birthday parties and had gone over to his house. We weren't best friends by any means, but liked each other and would enjoy rides on the chairlift together.

The odd thing was, he was there to support his wife you lead a yoga session that ends about when basketball begins at this single's ward. So there you have two married guys who hadn't seen each other in a dozen years meeting each other by chance at a single's ward. What are the odds?

This kind of thing seems to be happening to me more and more these days. Maybe it is because I go on Facebook tears, but I seem to be reconnecting with people from my past all the time in the last few weeks. More likely, it is because my tenth high school reunion is this year, and my wife is organizing it. {Yes, I married my high school sweetheart)

My mom calls this town Small Lake City because of the numerous times you bump into people you know, or how you meet people who know other people you know. And it is true. I went to get flu shots this fall at Smith's at a random time of day, and I spotted former Chief Justice Michael Zimmerman reading motorcycle magazines and buying super glue. I said hello (both his and my family used to go camping together) and he explained that he bought a Harley from his brother-in-law and loves it. I didn't ask what the super glue was for.

So what is the point of all this rambling? Well, either you can get annoyed and hate the fact that you can never be anonymous in this city, like I did in high school, or you can enjoy it, like I do now. You can find drawbacks in any city or town you live in, or make the most of the place, or move to somewhere you like better. Throughout the years, I have lived in lots of different places, and all have their pluses and minuses, but Salt Lake always feels like home to me.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

And then there were two

In case you didn't read all the articles on the subjects, John Edwards and Rudy Giuliani are out of the presidential race. This effectively leaves two candidates for each party to choose among. I know technically Mike Huckabee, Ron Paul, and Paul Gravel are in the race still, but all three of them are thinking about something other than being president at this point. Huckabee wants to prove that John McCain needs him for VP. He would be great in a VP debate and a great surrogate, but same part of the GOP that hates John McCain on economic issues also hates Huckabee for the same reason.

Ron Paul might as well start saving up those millions to get on the ballot in November as Libertarian. Sen. Gravel should just take a bus home.

So who gains and who loses with the departures of the two serious contenders for the nomination? In the short term, Obama is hurt the most by Edwards' leaving. Ideally for Obama, Edwards would have hung around to attack HRC in debates while siphoning off white voters from HRC to ensure Obama wins states like Oklahoma on February 5th. As others have pointed out, he was probably the best debater out there of the three of them, or at the very least the second best. Now Obama needs to get better at debating in a hurry, because Hillary is looking forward to smacking him around on CNN. In the long term, perhaps Hillary loses the most. Perhaps that fabled ABH vote (anybody but Hillary) will coalelse behind Obama and he can get more states than he otherwise would have, especially if Edwards gives him his delegates, endorses and campaigns with him. Obama certainly wants his endorsement. He lept out of the gate with a fawning farewell statement. Ideologically, Edwards 2.0 is much more like Obama than HRC.

On the Republican side, Giuliani's departure certainly helps McCain the most. The two were both relatively moderate Republicans on just about everything except foreign policy, where both want to start a war with Iran and stay in Iraq indefinately. Rudy's endorsement should insure that NY, NJ, CT, etc. all go for McCain. Romney is in serious trouble because almost all of the Super Tuesday states are winner take all on the GOP side. Which means that, unlike Obama, he can't content himself with 45% of the vote in some state and draw about the same number of delegates (or if he targets optimally, get more than the popular vote winner). Romney has to win outright in pretty much any state besides CA to get those delegates. And even though he still does better among conservative Republicans than McCain, there is too much momentum and elected officials behind McCain for Romney to stop.

While Obama's path to the nomination is very difficult, it is still plausible, especially when you hear things like Connecticut being now effectively tied. By contrast, I just don't see how Romney gets back on top after narrowly losing Florida.

The question now becomes, who would each side match up best against, and who would be the best VPs for them. For Hillary, I think she is stuck with picking Barack if she gets the nod. No way any party head will let her pick a dud like Evan Bayh. On the other hand, Obama can't pick Hillary because it would undermine his message and overwhelm him. Does he pick Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, who endorsed him and reminds people that his mom's side of the family grew up in Kansas? After the bland SOTU response, I think she is done. Bill Richardson is similarly too gaffe prone. John Edwards doesn't want to be second banana again (but he would take AG I think). Barack needs someone with Washington street cred without undermining his change/unity message. NYC mayor Mike Bloomberg? Not unless the FEC says he can spend all of his money on the race. VA Sen. Jim Webb? Fits with the appeal to "Reagan Democrats" and change message (especially on Iraq). If he wants to get the mini-me, like Bill Clinton did in 1992 with Al Gore, I would say Newark mayor Corey Booker: a charismatic black mayor who whites like and is trying to make his notorious city better. This fits in with the stories of Obama working in the projects prior to law school, since Booker lives in one.

As for McCain, he has to pick a social and economic conservative, even though McCain is pretty solidly pro-life. I would say someone like Sen. Sam Brownback. But if the Democrats nominate Obama, McCain needs his ticket to get young fast, but not Dan Quale young....we are going to see a lot of basketball games if Obama wins the nomination. If McCain picks Sen. Lieberman or Sen. Graham, he is just asking for a whooping. Romney I think would pick Huckabee because of his appeal to evangelicals, whom Mitt needs to be back on his side for November.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Florida prediction time

I decided to get out my glass ball again and see if it has so cracks or needs polishing. Right now, it is pretty murky about who will win Florida for the Republicans, but I will take a stab in the dark anyway.

1. McCain
2. Romney
3. Huckabee
4. Guilini
5. Paul

McCain: This is going to be a close one. Sen. Mel Martinez should bring the Cuban-American vote out for McCain in South Florida, and Gov. Crist should bring out votes all over the state. While it is true that Crist has governed much more moderately than I would have initially guessed (he is trying to re-enfrancize certain felons of their right to vote for example) he still won a GOP primary and general election pretty handily. He doesn't want to look weak in this primary, so his old campaign hands will be helping out Sen. McCain, who helped him out by campaigning for him 2 years ago. 30-33%

Romney: All those adds (Mitt ran more commericals in the fall in Florida than McCain has all of January) and organization makes him close. Plus, many Republicans still just don't trust McCain for his loud and proud unothordox votes during the past 8 years. Some polls show him leading, others have him behind. You have to believe that a popular governor (he is basically the Jon Huntsman Jr. of Florida) can drag his endorsee over the finish line within his own party's primary, however. Mitt falls just short, close enough (1 percent) that he will claim he "tied for the gold" but he needs this win out of Florida more than McCain does. 30-33%

Huckabee: He has basically pulled out of the state, because he doesn't have enough money to compete here and all of the states to come. But his fellow Baptists will help him get a respectible showing: 11-14%

Giuliani: The dream of another war in the Middle East for no good reason dies in Florida. The more voters got to know Rudy, the more they disliked him. Look for him to endorse McCain. At least he beat his arch rival, Ron Paul: 10-13%

Paul: Will the blimp go to the Super Bowl? 8-10%

As for the Democrats, they all agreed that this race wouldn't count.... Until Hillary lost South Carolina, then they had to parse the meaning of "campaign," pointing to national cable ads that Obama bought that happen to run in Florida. So Hillary made some statements and viola, Sen. Nelson of Florida endorses her, as does Janet Reno. She is even planning on being in the state immediately following the voting to hold a victory rally in hopes that the media will cover her (assumed) win. Having a million Democrats vote with all of the major candidates on the ballot sure is hard to ignore, but I just don't like the changing the rules in the middle of the game. Look for HRC to get about 50-55% Obama to get 25-28% and Edwards to get 17-20% Oh and apparantly Gravel is still "running."

Monday, January 28, 2008

On Gordon B. Hinkley

My condolances to his family, friends, and to Saints everywhere.

To me, President Hinkley was very much like John Paul II. Now I am not Catholic, but one can also respect all the good things both men did, not just to expand the membership of their respective faiths, but also to improve the public perception of their faiths. That Pope and this President did a great service to their respective religions followers to ease the concerns that many had. For Catholics, many saw them as stuck in the past. So JPII appologized for Gallieo and any role the Church had in the Halocaust. Similarly, Pres. Hinkley addressed polygamy head on with the media, emphasizing how that tenant had long ago fell out of doctrine and those who continued to practice it weren't Mormons and were in small tiny sects.

More importantly, both men had a kindly and warm presence that was a very positive face of their world religions. They made themselves hard to hate.

I just hope the President Monson won't be as reactionary as I find Pope Benedict to be.