The Thoughts and Musings of Tom Allain

If this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn't help the poor, either we have to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we've got to acknowledge that He commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition and then admit that we just don't want to do it

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Archive for January, 2008

Florida’s Half Primary

Tuesday, January 29th, 2008

I’m writing this 3 1/2 hours after the polls have closed in Florida. This only matters to the Republicans as the Democratic primary doesn’t count (Florida, like Michigan, pushed their primary up so soon that the Democratic Party is refusing to seat their delegates. Hillary won the most votes in the primary but it really doesn’t matter in the all-important delegate chase. In the Republican primary John McCain edged out Mitt Romney and won all 57 delegates in the winner take all contest. I’ve updated the delegate count on the left side the page. It’s assumed that Rudy Giuliani will drop out of the race but he hasn’t conceded on his web page and I’ll wait for that.

I don’t normally watch the CBS Evening News but we had it on tonight and Katie Couric did an interesting story. She asked this question of each of the candidates: “If you were elected president, what is the one book other than the Bible you would think is essential to have along?” Here is how they answered (I have included only the book title and author, and not their explanations; also, I put them in the same order as Katie):

  • John McCain: Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith.
  • Barack Obama: Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin
  • Mitt Romney: John Adams by David McCollough
  • Mike Huckabee: Whatever Happened to the Human Race by Francis Schaefer
  • John Edwards: The Trial of Socrates by I.F. Stone
  • Hillary Clinton: The Federalist Papers
  • Rudy Giuliani: The Federalist Papers

Of the 6 books listed, I’ve only fully read two: Team of Rivals and John Adams but The Federalist Papers is on my list.

If It’s the 26th It Must Be South Carolina

Saturday, January 26th, 2008

I’m watching the results of the Democratic primary in South Carolina and it appears it was a good day for Barack Obama and his campaign. The big loser today is Hillary Clinton who barely beat John Edwards. It appears that part of the reason for the big Obama win was a backlash against Hillary and especially her husband Bill for going negative. I hope that’s true because it may lead to a decrease in negative campaigning.

I continue to get frustrated looking at the delegate counts, but have (perhaps) found a place that agrees with my math and doesn’t include projections. If you look at the MSNBC page it has the same numbers as me.

Remembering Martin

Monday, January 21st, 2008

Today we celebrate the life and work of Martin Luther King (1929-1968). He was born on January 15th and the holiday is celebrated on the third Monday in January. If were alive he’d be 79 but he died nearly 40 years ago. It’s the first major national event I remember, mostly because of the riots in Washington D.C. and other cities following the assassination.

We continue to suffer from the sin of racism in this country (talk to someone who looks Arab) and I continue to admire Dr. King’s Letter From Birmingham Jail.

Thinking wistfully about this time next year

Sunday, January 20th, 2008

Exactly one year from today we will be inaugurating a new President. It’s been a long 7 years and the White House’s next occupant will have a great deal of healing and repairing to do. The country feels to me like she’s ready for a new direction and I know I am.

I’ve updated the delegate numbers after yesterday’s primaries in Nevada and South Carolina. As I’ve said I’m depending on NPR for my numbers. Today I looked at some of the stuff CNN had and their numbers are different than mine. I’m not sure where they get their numbers from except that it appears that at least some of them are projections based on expectations. They have this disclaimer on their page: “Delegate Total shows CNN’s total current delegate estimate for each candidate, including pledged delegates and superdelegates, and may include delegates not accounted for in the summation of the current delegate counts listed by state. ” At this point I feel more comfortable with NPR’s stuff over CNN’s

Yosemite in the Rear View Mirror

Saturday, January 19th, 2008

We’ve just returned from our annual pilgrimage to Yosemite. We go every year at this time for the Chef’s Holidays.

Knowing that this is a down time of year for the park they invite gourmet chefs to conduct cooking demonstrations. They also plan a magnificent dinner for the last night. We don’t normally attend the demonstrations as we go hiking around the valley floor. This year was, as usual, excellent. We sat at a table with 3 other couples and one of them (Mike and Tracey) got engaged earlier in the day and it was fun celebrating with them. It had snowed a few weeks before we got there; the good news was that the roads were clear. The bad news is that the snow was no longer fresh: it was hard and crusty and not adequate for snow angels.

Then again, it’s hard to lose with a week of vacation in Yosemite. Can’t wait until next year.

The Delegate Race is On (if you can find the information)

Thursday, January 17th, 2008

I have to confess a certain amount of frustration as I write this entry. With all the publicity surrounding the caucuses and primaries it occurred to me that I didn’t know how many delegates the various candidates have as they move toward their nominating conventions. It took a great deal of looking; you’d think that the Republican and Democratic Party home pages would give a list, but all their effort points to what is wrong with the other guy. Finally I found the NPR web page that has an interactive map and by going to each of the states and manually counting the delegates I was able to come up with the number. I’ll try to keep up with the process, and please let me know if I’ve made a math error.

I was only able to do this with the two major parties. Obviously the independent candidates don’t have nominating conventions but I wasn’t able to find any information on the process of the other parties. Of the other parties, either I could find no information on their conventions (e.g. Green), or they do have conventions (e.g. Constitution party: April 23rd in Kansas City Missouri) but don’t give current delegate counts. Again, if I’ve missed something let me know.

This Is Going to be a Long Process

Wednesday, January 16th, 2008

I’m writing this early on the morning after the Michigan Primary. It was a strange primary for the Democrats as it didn’t mean anything in terms of the delegate count: only Hillary Clinton, Dennis Kucinich, and Mike Gravel appeared on the ballot (along with Christopher Dodd who has since dropped out). Also, because the Michigan Democratic Party tried to defy the national party in picking an early date, these delegates won’t be seated for the convention. That said, Hillary won 55% of the vote with Uncommitted coming in second at 40%. You have to wonder how Dennis and Mike are taking the news that they placed lower than “I don’t know.” As a footnote, Dennis’ campaign page is now his re-election to Congress and his presidential bid has moved here.

The Republican race has gotten more complex. Mitt Romney won Michigan; this is good for him not because it gives him a boost but because he needed to win it. He grew up here and his father, George Romney (1907-1995) was Governor from 1963-1969. To use his imagery, he now has two golds (Wyoming and Michigan) and two silvers (Iowa and New Hampshire).

In the Republican race, the four states that have had either a caucus or a primary, there have been three winners: Mike Huckabee in Iowa, John McCain in New Hampshire, and Mitt Romney in Wyoming and Michigan.

The other Republican candidates appear to be staking out states where they think they can (or have to) win. I believe the interesting story is there. Rudy Giuliani was supposed to be be much stronger at this point, and he has staked out Florida (January 29th). Fred Thompson has staked out South Carolina this Saturday. I’m not sure exactly what happened to Rudy’s campaign, but the word on Fred Thompson all along has been that he is a poor campaigner. This is not exactly new: nearly every campaign has some group wringing their hands looking for the candidate and I think Fred thought he was that man. Perhaps he was but he never got the word that he would still have to campaign. The Christian evangelical movement may have been looking for someone like him but it doesn’t mean they were prepared to proclaim him king just on his entry into the race.

Super Tuesday is February 5th; even the best case scenario sees it a longshot that either party process is over.

The Nomination Process: a Marathon, Not a Sprint

Thursday, January 10th, 2008

The news outlets are writing lots of material about Tuesday’s primary and how the various candidates are doing. It made me think about the calendar of primaries. I found it on NPR.

Date State
January 15 Michigan
January 19 Nevada
South Carolina (Republican)
January 26 South Carolina (Democrat)
January 29 Florida
February 1 Maine (Republican)
February 5 Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delaware
Georgia
Idaho (Democrat)
Illinois
Kansas (Democrat)
Massachusetts
Minnesota
Missouri
New Jersey
New Mexico (Democratic)
New York
North Dakota
Oklahoma
Tennessee
Utah
February 9 Kansas (Republican)
Louisiana
Nebraska (Democratic)
Washington
February 10 Maine (Democratic)
February 12 Washington D.C.
Maryland
Virginia
February 19 Hawaii
Wisconsin
March 4 Ohio
Rhode Island
Texas
Vermont
March 8 Wyoming (Democrat)
March 11 Mississippi
April 22 Pennsylvania
May 6 Indiana
North Carolina
May 13 Nebraska (Republican)
West Virginia
May 20 Kentucky
Oregon
May 27 Idaho (Republican)
June 3 Montana
New Mexico (Republican)
South Dakota

As you can see this is an exhaustive list. Unfortunately for most of the country the choice will be made before they get a chance to vote. I’m guessing that after all the primaries on February 5th (known as Super Tuesday) we’ll know who the nominees will be.

The winnowing has begun; today Bill Richardson withdrew from the race, though he didn’t endorse anyone. Look for more in the next few weeks.

New Hampshire: Some Expected Outcomes, Some Surprises

Tuesday, January 8th, 2008

I’m writing this about 8:00pm Pacific Time and 11:00pm Eastern Time. The polls are closed in New Hampshire and the winners have been declared: John McCain is currently carrying 37% of the Republican vote and Hillary Clinton carries 39% of the Democratic vote. Just under 80% of the vote has been counted.

John McCain’s win isn’t much of a surprise as he bypassed Iowa to concentrate on New Hampshire. The news is that Mitt Romney did not win. He has been spending a great deal of money in both Iowa and New Hampshire; New Hampshire is also adjacent to Romney’s home state of Massachusetts. He was expected to win Iowa because of his presence and the money he poured into it and he was expected to win New Hampshire because, frankly, they know him from living next door. Mitt faces an uphill battle; two of the next three primaries are in the South (Michigan, South Carolina, and Florida) whose populations contain a high percentage of evangelical Christians who will have trouble voting for a Mormon. The next few weeks should be good for Mike Huckabee but he needs to sew things up pretty quickly or miss his chance. The evangelical message plays well only in those states with high evangelical populations.

The results of the Democratic primary surprised me a little. Until a few days ago it appeared to be neck and neck between Senator Clinton and Barack Obama but a poll a few days ago had Senator Obama pulling ahead. Tonight it appears that this last poll was dead wrong. That happens: polls always have a margin of error. Interestingly enough the vote count is close enough that they will both end up with 9 delegates (John Edwards takes the other 4). Things would have gone much better for Senator Obama if he had won. As he heads into the South he carries with him an uphill battle of his own. There is a segment of the population in South Carolina and Florida who simply will not vote for an African American and won’t necessarily admit it. He won’t be able to fully trust the polls because of this. I’m originally from Virginia and remember L. Douglas Wilder who was governor from 1990 to 1994. He learned during the race to factor out a certain percentage of people who said they would vote for him but really wouldn’t. Senator Obama may face the same thing.

John McCain may have something to say about this. In the now famous election of 2000 he beat President Bush in New Hampshire and was doing well in South Carolina. The Bush campaign in South Carolina did something called “push polling.” They called Republicans in South Carolina under the guise of taking a poll. They started the call by asking who the person intended to vote for in the primary; if the caller said he or she would vote for John McCain the poller would ask: “Would you be more or less willing to vote for John McCain if you knew he secretly fathered a biracial child out of wedlock?” Of course Senator McCain had done no such thing (though, interestingly enough, South Carolina Senator Strom Thurmond had) but that wasn’t the point. The point was to imply to the voter that McCain had, and enough voters were put off because of this that Bush won the South Carolina primary and went on the win the nomination.

In any case, stay tuned. The primary season is just beginning and should prove to be an interesting ride.

Leaving Iowa, Heading to New Hampshire…and the Shuffle

Friday, January 4th, 2008

As I’m reading the news about yesterday’s Iowa caucus, the process of winnowing the race has begun. Joe Biden has withdrawn from the race for the Democratic nomination. His web page has this note from his NH Chair, Jim Ryan:

Tonight, we witnessed a great man, a great American, and a great friend of mine fight a proud fight out in Iowa. He didn’t spend millions of dollars, he didn’t throw the mud, and when the dust settles tomorrow, nobody will question Senator Biden’s conviction, nobody will question his passion, nobody will question his experience, and nobody will question his integrity.

The problems that we faced at the beginning of the day are the same now. We need to get our troops out of Iraq responsibly, we need to change our policy towards Pakistan and ensure that nuclear weapons will not fall into the hands of terrorists, we need to make sure that our children have health care, that we fix No Child Left Behind so that we can actually educate our children and give teachers the support that they need, and that we restore America’s moral authority.

Senator Biden has stood entire life for those who didn’t have a voice, in his authoring of the Violence Against Women Act and his call for support for the countless victims of genocide in Bosnia under Milosevic.

I am proud to have had the opportunity to have come to know Senator Biden, to have worked with and to help shape the debate in this race.

Christopher Dodd also left the race, saying this:

I count the past year as one of the most rewarding in a career of public service. Unfortunately I am withdrawing from the campaign tonight. Thank you for all your efforts throughout the course of this entire Presidential campaign. I will be in touch.

Looking at the South Carolina primary web page I found a few minor Republican candidates and have added them.

As for Iowa, I have to say that I’m pleased to see Barack Obama win as he is the candidate I intend to vote for. Hillary Clinton finished third, behind John Edwards; I don’t think Edwards has a realistic chance of winning the nomination and this news has more to do with Hillary. I like Hillary now as I did when she was First Lady, but I worry that she is such a polarizing candidate that she will become a target in the general election. I’m also aware that this may continue the “Bush/Clinton/Bush” dynasties. On January 20, 2009 I hope to wave goodbye to the Bush family forever from the White House, and I wonder if a Hillary presidency will cause the Bush family to try to find another family member to win the Presidency back.

I’m also concerned with the idea that Mike Huckabee won. Truth be told there is no Republican candidate I would consider voting for but Huckabee worries me. He believes that creationism should be taught instead of science and I don’t think this will be good for the country. I’ll probably write more later.