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Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Maybe it was all about oil

For over a year, questions have been raised about whether the opposition of some to US action in Iraq was based on principled anti-war beliefs, on the fear of losing business contracts, or on bribes. Rumors had circulated that Iraq had bribed important policymakers in Britain, France and Russia. Soon after the liberation of Baghdad, there were reports that George Galloway had been named in papers as the recipient of oil in return for his support of Hussein.

An Iraqi newspaper has published what it claims to be a list of people who were paid "oil vouchers" by the Iraqi government. Most of the people on the list deny involvement. A French Middle Eastern media source also names names (a poor google translation is here). Here is a poor google translation of a Le Monde article.

Two Americans are on the list. According to the MEMRI report, they are pro-Hussein Iraqi expatriates. George Galloway is on the lost, as is Charles Pasqua, a former interior minister.

The list is heavy on politicians and political parties, especially left-wing parties. Russia received the largest allotment. Journalists also are on the list.

So what does this mean? I reserve judgment on the veracity of the story. The numbers seem high. And it seems that in Iraqi, people would tell Hussein what he wanted to hear. But if there is any truth, there should be a money trial going elsewhere. I say let's look for it.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Is Kerry Unstoppable?

I do not know, but his comeback has been incredible. Two months ago, I would have bet that Kerry would be giving a withdrawal speech about now. Instead, he is the one to beat.

Will he win? He needs to win in the south, and Edwards and Clark seem poised to win the primaries there. But he seems to have replaced Dean as the candidate of the northern Democrats.

Monday, January 26, 2004

On Lieberman

Another thing the tracking polls shows is that Lieberman gets much more support from "Undeclared" voters than from registered Democrats -- 10% to 3% if the poll numbers are to be believed. This fits well with my personal experience. I have met many Democrats who view Lieberman as a closet Republican, and many Republicans like myself like Lieberman (in fact, I probably would vote for him over Bush).

Lieberman appeals to the mythical Centrist that Bill Clinton was supposed to be so good at attracting. One must wonder if Clinton had been a better person, not tainted by scandal, he might have signaled a shift in presidential politics and Joe Lieberman might have been the beneficiary.
Make or Break Time

New Hampshire is make or break for at least three candidates. Lieberman needs to show he is viable. Clark needs to show that skipping Iowa was a good idea. Dean needs to show that he is not a complete maniac.

The last University of New Hampshire tracking poll shows that Dean has recovered some what from the scream. Lieberman showed some movement but is still in single digits. Clark continues to drop. Kerry has increased his post Iowa bounce as has Edwards.

New Hampshire is much more important for Kerry than Edwards. Edwards ill stay down south and concentrate on he South Carolina primary.

My prediction is that Kerry wins, but Dean closes the gap to finish a close second. Edwards has stronger than expected support, causing Lieberman to drop in a week or so. Clark will stay in for now.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Liberal to English Dictionary

English -- unilateral

Liberal -- acting in concert with 20+ other nations if the French do not approve.
The State of the Union

There was much in there to like, some to dislike, but you must admit, Bush has become a much, much better public speaker. I agree broadly with our foreign policy, but we should realize that we have made some mistakes. On domestic affairs, it seems that Bush is solidifying his position as the most fiscally liberal president in history. At least he mentioned the deficit though.

I agree that our immigration policy needs revamping. I do not like the idea of a "temporary" guest worker program, though I admit I tend to vacillate back and forth on it. We should take the position that every person who comes here is working toward citizenship, even if they decide they do not want it. Every person who comes here (and we should make it easier) should start with a temporary visa, then work toward a Green Card, and finally citizenship.

This is better for the economy (allows people to plan for the future), the worker (keeps them from being subject to the whims of an employer), and the social fabric of the country. My fear is that a guest worker program turns into a German type system where 30 years later, you have several generations of "temporary" workers who are not citizens, not headed toward citizenship, and not integrated into the fabric of society.

As for the "Defense of Marriage Act" I am still not sure exactly what the president is proposing. I would let the states decide, and limit any federal constitutional amendment to limiting the application of full faith and credit.
Wes Loses my Vote, Part II

This did not help either:

"Senator [Dole], with all due respect, he's a lieutenant and I'm a general."

Clark on why he is a better choice than Senator Kerry.

As I have said elsewhere, I never served in the military. I did, however, spend time in ROTC in college. I did not stay in long enough to be commissioned. But because of that, I knew people who were lieutenants. Maybe I am being to prickly about it, but General Clark's statement, especially in the context of the dialog with Senator Dole, came off to me as extremely arrogant.
Wes Loses my Vote

O.K., I admit it. I probably was not voting for him anway.

But this did not help.

Monday, January 19, 2004

Conventional Wisdom Goes Nuclear

The conventional wisdom was:

1. Lot of endorsements by big name party leaders help in caucuses
2. Candidates who use the "f" word in interviews have no chance

For the last two months, Dean has been lining up the endorsement of every prominent Democratic hero other than FDR, and that only because he (FDR) is dead.

Meanwhile Kerry gives an interview which featured Kerry using the f word.

For months, conventional wisdom was that Dean was a shoe in. Instead, we now have Dean getting trounced by Kerry.

And again I ask -- what is the deal with John Edwards?

Sunday, January 18, 2004

Now, about John Edwards

I have been using this guy as the punchline for jokes for the last year or so. It seemed that this guy was always announcing his candidacy, mostly because that was the only way for him to get noticed.

Now this guy has a chance of winning in Iowa?

Can someone please explain to me what happened? Is this a case of "misunderestimating?"
The Democrats Get Smart

Two or three weeks ago, it seemed that Dean was a shoe in for the nomination. This was a possibility that scared the daylights out of the Democratic Party establishment. Although I have no proof of course, I am convinced that the Clark campaign is based, in large part, on the fear the Democratic establishment had of Dean. Given that the establishment candidates were either not setting any fires (Gephardt and Lieberman) or frankly losing their sanity (Kerry), they needed another candidate and Clark was the man.

But something happened on the way to the caucus. The Democratic activists that make up the caucus electorate that (1) Dean is a nut and (2) that a Dean candidacy meant that the Democrats could be heading for a 1964 type debacle.

Eventually, people had to realize that simply spouting off lines about the "Democratic wing of the Democratic Party" or anger without answers was not enough to win an election
Iowa!

Back when I was in college, I was working on the reelection campaign of a local politician. The party wanted him to run for a higher profile position. One of his campaign workers wanted him to run, hoping that eventually, it would lead to the governor's mansion.

I was against it. I explained that if he was elected to a higher office, he would become governor, and he eventually would run for president. In which case I would have to spend Christmas in Iowa, deep in the snow.

Needless to say, I have never been to Iowa. My candidate did eventually run for a higher office, clashed with the local party organization, and was brought down by the unpopularity of another politician on his ticket. Unfortunately, he is today out of politics, though I think he would have made a great president.

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