January 25, 2008

Watching Paint Dry

Perhaps the most exciting video of 2008. The comments are funny too. :-)

January 4, 2008

Celebrity Politics

I'm watching C-SPAN coverage of one of the Iowa republican caucuses last night. Gotta say I'm jealous that republicans get to vote for their first choice of a presidential candidate. The Iowa Democratic Party doesn't let us do that.

I think the Iowa Democratic caucus system is outdated, because its format combined with bad campaign financing rules and celebrity media coverage basically ensures that 2nd tier candidates can't survive the first test in the nation. Republicans don't have that problem. I mean, does anybody think Ron Paul would have actually received 10 percent in Iowa if he had to reach a 15 percent viability threshold in every precinct? Would Dodd or Biden have dropped out of the race already if they had emerged with 10 or 14 percent? I doubt it. Yet, these candidates with much more relevant experience but not enough money to purchase celebrity from the mainstream media walked away with nothing. They were disproportionately disadvantaged by the democratic party's caucus rules in Iowa which requires that at least 15 percent of the caucus goes in every district support a candidate. If not, then their supporters must pick a different candidate, which is exactly what happened in most precincts on Jan 3. Over 10 percent of the caucus goes in my precinct would have supported Joe Biden for president last night, but we were just a few people short of the 15 percent threshold needed for our support of him to be counted. Instead, we had to splinter off to Obama, Clinton or Edwards as a second choice.

Imagine this possible scenario... Biden, Richardson, and Dodd each get 14 percent (14x3 equals 42 percent combined). That leaves just 58 percent of support to split between Obama, Edwards and Clinton (just 19 percent each). Now, instead of the media's favorite candidates walking away with what looks like 30 percent leads, they actually emerge with just single-digit leads. I didn't even figure Kucinich into those figures. Do so and you could have people "winning" the Iowa caucuses by only a few percentage points (or theoretically you could have a statistical tie). Think that would influence supporters and change future fund raising efforts?

Come on, Iowa Democrats. What's the rush to wipe out ALL of our 2nd tier candidates??? That's what happened this year. As the first in the nation test, it should be a test of initial support among registered democrats in the midwest before campaigns move on to other states. The democratic caucuses should not serve as a mechanism to weed out as many people as possible, leaving only those with overwhelming amounts of cash, celebrity and media coverage. Unfortunately, that seems to be the current situation for democrats, and I think it may ultimately cause Iowa to lose it's first in the nation status and the huge economic impact that it has on our state.

Something just seems outdated or wrong with this system in the current climate of media consolidation and out-of-control campaign financing. Perhaps the 15 percent threshold should be lowered to something that could still weed out candidates that aren't even getting 1 or 2 percent of their voters to turn out. Or perhaps we should throw it out and do like republicans. Whatever the case, I think something needs to change. The presidential election in this country is beginning to feel more like American Idol than a serious deliberation of key issues and pragmatic solutions.

January 3, 2008

Preliminary Caucus Results

Waterloo Ward 1 Precinct 1 Results: 162 people (not sure what percentage that represents). Biden, Dodd, nor Richardson are viable. Their support seems to have gone mostly to Hillary (a few went to Obama and Edwards). Senators Obama and Hillary tie in my precinct and a coin toss determines that they will each get 3 delegates to county convention. I don't quite understand the rules/math, but if Hillary had lost the coin toss, then 4 delegates would have gone to Obama and just 2 would to Hillary. Edwards received 2 delegates. Other precincts in the building apparently had mixed results--Obama won at least one, Edwards won another, and at least two ties between Hillary and Obama occurred.

Waiting in the halls

I finally got inside. I waited about 30 minutes outside (and it's cold--like 21 F). Once inside, everyone is trying to find their place in the school for their ward and precinct (there are way too many people here to fit in just the gymnasium or any single room). There seems to be some confusion and misdirection, but considering the huge turnout (about twice as many people as normal) I think things are going relatively well. There are quite a few people yelling out directions, answering questions, and helping some people change their voter registration (you must be a registered democrat to participate). This line is not moving...seems there are way too many people in line just for my ward/precinct to fit in any one room. Wow! This is exciting!

Huge Turnout for Iowa Caucuses!

I arrived at 6:25 and the traffic was heavy. I had to park 7 blocks away and there are at least 100 people waiting in line outside. It's a huge turnout!

Biden Tackles Real Issues Head-On

It's Iowa Caucus day, and Joe Biden appeared early this morning at an Irish pub in Waterloo (after already appearing on 4 morning talk shows).

Senator Biden has my support in the Iowa caucuses tonight. I think there are some strong democrats running for president, but none more qualified or competent to lead our country out of the hole dug by 6 years of dishonest, immoral, fear-mongering republican control and into a future where America is again respected and admired throughout the world.

Senator Biden understands (as President Clinton described last night) that the U.S. can't solve most problems alone, yet there exists great opportunities to regain our status as a world leader on major issues. I believe Biden has an in-depth understanding of important issues, highly relevant experiences, and a strong track record of wisdom and judgment that will make him a great president ready to hit the ground running. I've heard him speak several times on many issues, and I am convinced that he is the best candidate for positive change based on successful experience (not just generic change based on vague experience).

Joe Biden certainly appears to be an underdog, but I know he has some strong pockets of support in Iowa. I hope Iowa caucus goers will surprise us tonight with a strong showing for Joe Biden!

January 2, 2008

We Miss Bill

Magda and I are watching President Clinton campaign for Hillary in Waterloo tonight. He's a rock star. The guy just connects with his audience! I had already heard most of this speech on C-SPAN, yet his delivery is so good that I'm captivated.

Tomorrow is caucus day. I hope everyone will get out to participate. It's an exciting election! Find your caucus site: Democrats click here, Republicans figure it out for yourself. No, seriously... click here. Alright, just kidding-- here is the republican site.

January 1, 2008

Happy New Year

Happy New Year! Szczesliwego Nowego Roku! We celebrated twice this year… first, via Skype with Magda's father in Poland this afternoon (7 hours difference), then again here at home. Lucy went to bed at 8pm, but we snuck up to her room to take a picture of her first moments in 2008. She seems happy. :-)