Saturday, December 31, 2011

First off, Happy New Years to my readers! Technically it isn't 2012 yet but hey, no sense in waiting to celebrate now is there?

But to the gist of this post. In typical anti-climatic fashion, the Des Moines Register GOP Caucus poll was released a day before the Des Moines Register is to be sold in gas stations/stores and delivered to the homes of countless Iowans tomorrow. This poll will likely be one of the last "decent" polls til the actual Iowa Caucus on Tuesday, January 3rd. Why is this poll more "decent" than others? Because instead of just asking Iowa GOPers who they would like to see win the Caucus vote, the Register asked Likely Caucus "goers" who they planted to vote for thus making the poll more accurate than the countless other polls released recently.

The results are as follows (also showing the point rise from last month's poll):

Mitt Romney- 24%, +8
Ron Paul- 22%, +4
Rick Santorum- 15%, +9
Newt Gingrich- 12%, -13
Rick Perry- 11%, +5
Michelle Bachmann- 7%, -1

Sadly, I am not a "trained" or experience analyzing polls. I do feature them often in my posts but I largely only comment on the facts directly mentioned in such polls. For a proper and detailed analysis of this poll and several other recent ones pertaining to the upcoming Iowa Caucus, I give you Nate Silver of the New York Times' FiveThirtyEight blog:

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Iowa's 3-Time Electorial Loser Calls on Bachmann to Quit..Say What?

Firstly, I want to make quite clear: I am not a fan of Michelle Bachmann. And while I am therefore biased against her generally, it doesn't mean I won't give her some credit when it's rightfully due. What has brought this up you ask?

As reported today by POLITICO, source within Iowa are claiming Bob Vander Plaats (a conservative politician here in Iowa) called Michelle Bachmann this past Saturday and called on her to end her presidential run and instead endorse Rick Santorum as Mr. Plaats did publicly today. (1) While such attempts to get candidates to quit the race and endorse others is hardly uncommon, the source of this call is what bothers me.

For those who don't know, Bob Vander Plaats is an Iowan businessman who has a less than stellar political career here in the great state of Iowa. Actually, that's being a little too generous. He is by all definitions a political loser who has tried not once, not twice, but three times to get the Republican nomination for Governor here in Iowa..and failed every time. So why would any of the GOP candidates care about what Vander Plaats has to say? It's because where Bob has been somewhat successful at is exhorting his influence on Iowa's conservatives. On two occasions Bob has met with some success. First, in 2008 he threw his support behind Mike Huckabee and with his victory in the subsequent Caucus, Huckabee made Bob the State Chair for his presidential campaign (which ultimately failed).

His second political victory here in Iowa was his effort to oust 3 of Iowa's Supreme Court justices during their retention election in 2010. Why did Vander Plaats want these justices dismissed? Because of a now semi-famous Iowa Supreme Court decision: Varnum v. Brien. In this decision, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled unanimously against a state law that only permitted heterosexual couples to apply for marriage licenses, de facto allowing same-sex couples here in Iowa to marry legally. Even though the court rule unanimously (shocking considering the justices were appointed by Republican and Democratic governors), it was rejected by conservatives across the state and Vander Plaats saw an opportunity to get his name back in the news and became the "white knight" for a movement to dismiss three of the justices up for retention in 2010 because he their decision exceeded the bounds of authority of the courts (which I personally believe is ridiculous) and were out of step with Iowa's values. Regardless of the merits, he and his supporters succeeded in dismissing the justices. This feat was shocking because it is the first time it has been done since 1962. (2) Sadly for Bob, it was a bit of a mixed night since it was Terry Brandstad who carried the GOP back to the governor's mansion instead of him but hey, a win's a win right?

Regardless of the merits of the court's decision (I have my own opinion but I don't want to wander), Vander Plaats high profile support for the justices' dismissal propelled him to be something of a leader among Iowa's social conservatives and as such he likely believed he was entitled to some respect for the GOP Presidential candidates when it came to matters in Iowa. As such, he and The Family Leader group (which he helped found) published a marriage pledge for the GOP candidates to sign that would ensure that only those who agree gay marriage should be illegal could possibly get his group's endorsement. However, this time Bob got a bit carried away. The group's pledge was immediately controversial because a section of it's language that claimed the following:

"Slavery had a disastrous impact on African-American families, yet sadly a child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household than was an African-American baby born after the election of the USA’s first African-American President.” (3)

Needless to say, this idiotic section of the pledge drew fire from many of the major candidates, lead by Mitt Romney, that thankfully forced the group to remove that section from their pledge. However, even with that section removed the pledge remained controversial amongst even Iowa Republicans (including Iowa House member Jeff Kaufmann and former gubernatorial candidate Doug Gross), who claimed such a pledge did more harm than good. Mr. Kaufmann's criticism was particularly striking since he personally sponsored a bill in Iowa's legislature to create a constitutional amendment to overturn the Varnum v. Brein decision. (4) Regardless, the first two candidates who agreed to sign the pledge (both of which did so before the slavery section was removed) were Rick Santorum and Michelle Bachmann.

And that's where the story out today from POLITICO is particularly annoying to me. Even though Michelle Bachmann was the first to sign his group's idiotic pledge, won the Ames Straw Poll, and has consistently polled higher than Rick Santorum (though that's not a difficult feat, even John Huntsman can do that for pete's sake), and has run a better campaign here in Iowa, Vander Plaats thinks Bachmann should be the one to pull out of the race..Say what?

Thankfully, Ms. Bachmann pointed out the later of those points to Bob when she turned down his idea of stepping down and for that I give her credit. When presented with a idiotic proposal, she had enough sense to tell Bob off and move on with her campaign.

The real question is..What was Vander Plaats thinking? Why endorse Santorum over Bachmann? The two candidates are virtually interchangeable on issues that concern social conservatives most here in Iowa and further The Family Leader hasn't endorsed any candidate so far..So why did Vander Plaats throw his weight behind Santorum? I personally can think of only one "logical" reason..But I'll keep that to myself and leave that question for my readers to answer for themselves.



The views and opinions expressed in this piece are solely those of the author and not that of the Modern Whig Party or any other political organization.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Iowa is Starting to look like Ron Paul-country

One thing I do like about the Presidential primary season is my home state of Iowa is seemingly in the news a lot (as opposed to the other 9-10 months of the year), and the currently chaotic GOP field has certainly kept Iowa in the headlines. The main reason for this is how quickly the "front runner" seems to change, which has also been true nationally. And up until recently, the front runner here in Iowa has normally also been the front runner nationally. However, if the new poll out tonight by Public Policy Polling is accurate, that trend has changed.

Why is that? Because none other than Ron Paul has just climbed to the top of the political ladder here in the great state of Iowa. The current GOP breakdown via PPPolling is as followings: Ron Paul 23%, Mitt Romney 20%, Newt Gingrich 14%, Rick Perry 10%, Rick Santorum 10%, Michelle Bachmann 10%, John Huntsman 4%, and 2% for Gary Johnson. (1)

Now if you had suggested such a thing several months ago, it might have shocked many (except Ron Paul supporters of course) but to those of us leaving here in Iowa, his current raise in Iowa polls is not only unsurprising, it seemed to have taken longer than many (including myself) expected. Now to be honest, I have personally discounted Ron Paul as having a real chance at the overall nomination and was even skeptical about how well he would do in Iowa. But one thing I did know was if Ron Paul was going to win anywhere, it would be here in Iowa. Why is that?

Well for one, I still remember the many Ron Paul fans/supporters here in Iowa from his 2008 campaign and few if any of them have ever lost faith in Mr. Paul's chances of winning. Not only that, but I was often surprised how many of my fellow Political Science majors in college like Ron Paul especially considering many were of VERY differing political views. There can be no doubt, Ron Paul is something of a political "rock star" with young voters like myself. Personally I chalk a lot of that support the fact that young voters are traditionally not only more cynical of politics but are also paradoxically idealistic in general and the "radical" message Ron Paul presents can be very appealing.

Another element of Ron Paul's success is his largely non-existent "flip-flops" in his political positions. In other words, the positions he holds on the major issues today haven't really changed for DECADES, and that kind of political morality is also very appealing to folks used to lying, thieving, and cheating politicians...ESPECIALLY here in Iowa where from a pretty young age I was taught that most if not all politicians are "slimy" and one normally has to choose between the lesser of two evils come election day. For a Presidential contender to come to Iowa with such a consistent message as Ron Paul is going to win him popularity regardless of his specific views on the issues of the day.

Further, some of Ron Paul views (especially about smaller government and deficit control) are issues that many Iowans are very supportive of and have been mobilized for thanks in part to the Tea Party movement (hence why Paul stylizes himself the "godfather" of the Tea Party movement) that gives me a solid base of support with not just Republicans but also with independents.

However, there has always been something of a ceiling for Ron Paul's support, both nationally and in Iowa. Part of this stems from the fact that Ron Paul is not exactly what you would call a social conservative, a group that holds a fair amount of sway in Iowa politics lately (much to my personally disgust) and as such will likely never really win them over. On a side note, keep an eye on Rick Perry come caucus day, I have a feeling these folks will flock to him when finally pushed to make a choice..

Reinforcing these points is some of the other results from the new poll. For example, when asked who Iowa Republicans thinks has run the best campaign here in Iowa, Ron Paul scores at 22% compared to just 8% and 5% for Gingrich and Romney respectively. Only Bachmann scores close to Paul at 19% (and as many times as she calls my folks that's no big shock). So clearly, more Iowans think Paul has done a better job of campaigning here in Iowa than any of his rivals, and MUCH better than the other two "front runners". And that brings me to Paul's campaigning here in Iowa.(1)

For the first time that I can remember, Ron Paul has actually invested A LOT in television ads, certainly much higher than any previous election. His first ads were somewhat dark and gloomy and didn't exactly catch most folks attention. However that changed with his more recent ads which are much more..Eye-catching. This includes a setup that really reminds me of a Ford truck ad, which is telling since truck commercials are like political ads in that they are trying to embarrass and one-up their competitors. It also includes a comical comparison of how politicians often talk a big talk in the election season but after the election they get kinda quite (using dogs no less). Overall, its a pretty unusual political ad and because of that it has likely caught a lot of folks' attention and this seems to have translated in this new poll (and several others that have come out over the last 3 days). And when you take these new tactics into account with the rather blatant absence of the other two front runners in Iowa over the last few weeks, its no shock their numbers have either yo-yo'ed or remained unchanged.

And that is the second big story of this poll: the fall of Newt Gingrich. Newt got a big boost when Herman Cain finally imploded (long over due) and soared to the top of polls across the nation even though his campaign has been largely non-existent (especially here in Iowa). This was likely partially thanks to his existing name recognition and the fact that he was just the latest of the "Not-Romney" candidates to rise and now seemingly fall. Now for the record, Newt's fall isn't just limited to here in Iowa. While he remains on top of most state polls as of late, his lead in these states is beginning to erode and his national numbers have fallen as well. For example, Gallup's tracking has Gingrich's national support falling from 37% in the 1st week of December now down to 28%, a nine point drop in less than two weeks. (2) Now whether Newt's lead will completely collapse as his predecessors to the "Not-Romney" position did is unclear. I think he has some real staying power but his massive lead is likely to disappear between now and the Iowa Caucus, which will actually make the race a bit more exciting.

But here is the difference between Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich's rise here in Iowa. Newt's was based on his simply NOT being Mitt Romney and did so without even really campaigning here. Paul's rise is based on the fact he isn't Romney OR Newt in that he has been politically consistent over his career not a flip-flopper. Further, he has actually campaigned heavily in Iowa and has a dedicated corps of supporters that are determined to get his name out there (including by placing signs in seemingly EVERY corn/bean field between my home and Des Moines). Long story short, Ron Paul's numbers are based a real foundation where as Newt's is based on..little more than hot air.

So at least for the moment, Iowa is starting to look like Ron Paul country, and if so, good for Mr. Paul. However, as Mike Huckabee will testify, simply winning here in Iowa will not guarantee victory, it's translating this small victory into real momentum and in his cause proving the nation his not just some crazy guy from Texas (as opposed to the other Texan who is not so much crazy and just.."not sharp") and can really win the highest office in the land. He isn't really the candidate for me, but I will give credit where it is due, and Mr. Paul has earned this new poll. I just hope he doesn't squander it.



The views and opinions expressed in this piece are solely those of the author and not that of the Modern Whig Party or any other political organization.

Michelle Bachmann: Proving, any idiot can run for President

As readers of my blog know, I am no fan of Representative Michelle Bachmann of Minnesota and often ridicule her for being what I call a "political twit", which I define as someone who on a regular basis speaks out of their arse on issues they clearly know nothing about. Ms. Bachmann has been a rather exceptional twit in that she is not only caught either lying or speaking from her ass, she does so with such a brazen passion that high school drop-outs everywhere look to her as their hero. However as of late, I haven't picked on Ms. Bachmann much because of various things (including mocking Herman Cain's idiotic statements), but today the woman has inspired me..And NOT in a good way.

And in today's installment of "What ignorant thing did Bachmann say now?", we turn to the issue of Iran and its suspected pursuit of nuclear weapons. In the most recent GOP debate this past week, this issue came to a head when a rather heated exchange between Michelle Bachmann and Ron Paul occurred. Specifically, Bachmann repeated a whooper of a claim she has made before in her campaign, that if Iran acquired nuclear weapons they wouldn't hesitate to use them against Israel and United States and even claims that Iran's president actually specifically threatened to use such weapons against the United States. Ron Paul, for all his faults, rightfully corrected Bachmann by referring to her claims as exaggerations and outright inaccurate. Bachmann however has refused to admit her error (or more accurately, her LIE) and has continued her attack on Ron Paul by accusing his views on the issue as "dangerous" (1).

For clarity, here is the issue. Whether Iran is pursuing the technology for building nuclear weapons was not the issue at the debate, the GOP candidates are pretty resolute in that position. The issue is what would Iran possibly do IF they did acquire nuclear weapons. Now in general it is a valid one but Bachmann took the issue to a whole new area by blatantly fibbing on her claims. She specifically claims, "Because they have stated unequivocally, once they gain a nuclear weapon, they will use that weapon to wipe Israel off of the map and they will use it against the United States."(1) Here's the thing, the Iranian government has never said such a thing.

For one, technically speaking, Iran's REAL ruler, Ayatollah Khameni has actually issue a fatwa (or religious ruling) AGAINST the building of nuclear weapons. Now how reliable such a fatwa is from such a man is definitely debatable but that is the information we have. Secondly, Iran's President on has never threatened the issue of nuclear weapons against Israel or the US. Never, not once, not occasionally, NEVER. Why? Because the Iranian government is not that stupid. Contrary to right-wing claims, Iran's government has never shown itself to be suicidal or deeply irrational (both of which would be required to actually contemplate using nuclear weapons against Israel or the US). In fact the regime's entire history tells one real lesson about their real motives: Survival. In other words, the government of Iran's main purpose is to survive and remain in control and to launch nuclear weapons against a nuclear power such as the US or Israel would surely be the fastest way for them to be REMOVED from power (and existence for that matter). So it's no wonder Iran's leaders have never been foolish enough to threaten the US and Israel in such a way. (2)

So for Michelle Bachmann to continuously beat this LIE to death and try and make Ron Paul look like a quack on this very real foreign policy issue is not only pathetic, it's downright disgraceful. What's worse, she tried to claim at the last debate that the "factcheckers" at said everything she said was true, which was another blatant LIE. (3) I'll say it once, and I fear I'll have to say it again, but Bachmann shouldn't be treated like a serious candidate for the simple fact that she ISN'T one. Her only accomplishment in her political career is that she wouldn't know the truth if it was standing in front of her holding a sign.

Actually, I take that back. She has accomplished something else in her attempt at winning the highest office in all the land. As prescribed by the Constitution, any natural-born American citizen of a certain age can run for President of the United States..And if Michelle Bachmann is the best the GOP can come up with, then maybe any "average Joe/Jane" really can run for President and no matter who that average Joe/Jane is, they would be a damn sight better than Michelle Bachmann.



The views and opinions expressed in this piece are solely those of the author and not that of the Modern Whig Party of any other political organization.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Rick Perry's War on Common Sense

In all the excitement of Newt Gingrich's rise in the GOP polls nationwide, many have forgotten about one of the other "once-front runners", Rick Perry. Now Mr. Perry is attempting to jump back to the top with an array of new television ads, many of which airing in my home state of Iowa. And in true political fashion, they are full of as many holes as a congressman's soul.

Now normally I don't get too excited about political TV ads because they are always full of exaggerations and because after one watches them you often find yourself asking, "do they really think we are that stupid to buy this crap?" As such they should be treated like infomercials and muted when they come on the television. But occasionally, one or two ads will annoy me enough to call them out for the steaming crap that they are and it just so happens that one of Rick Perry's ads is the aim of my fury today.

Which ad I am talking about you ask?

 In this video, Perry discusses his faith and at the same time attacks President Obama for supposedly launching a "war against religion" in America. He does so with phrases like "I'm not ashamed to admit I am a Christian", and "“But you don’t have to be in the pew every Sunday to know that there’s something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military, but our kids can’t openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school. As president, I’ll end Obama’s war on religion, and I’ll fight against liberal attacks on our religious heritage.”(1)....Where do I even start?

Firstly, President Obama for his many faults has NEVER been ashamed of his Christian faith. He has made frequent statements about his Christian faith during his tenure as President and has never shown any signs of being ashamed to admit it. Does the President wear his religion on his sleeve like Rick Perry does? No and there's nothing wrong with that. Since when did it become a crime for the President not to mention God every time he opens his mouth like Rick Perry does? Oh that's right, the US Constitution actually FORBIDS religious tests for those wishing the office of President of the United States. Strike one for Mr. Perry's ad.

Perry's second point in his video is even more mystifying. What exactly is the correlation between having openly gay Americans serving this nation in our armed forces and kids supposedly not being allowed to pray in school? One has NOTHING to do with the other. The President's decision (and the Congress' support) to overturn "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" had nothing to do with religion. It had to do with removing the final barrier of discrimination in the US military that forbade gay Americans from serving their nation without having to hide who they really are. Strike two for Mr. Perry's ad.

Further, contrary to Rick Perry's claim, students in schools CAN pray openly if they so wish. Students are fully allowed to pray openly in schools, their teachers simply can't lead them in such prayers because as employees of the state such as action would be arguably an endorsement of a certain faith which goes against the Separation of Church and State legal standard. Nor has the President done anything to change that in his tenure as President. Current policy on prayer in public schools has been set not by the President or Congress but by the US Supreme Court. So if Rick Perry has a beef with that policy he can take it up with the United States Supreme Court who has set those policy and boundaries in place.

But arguably the worst part about Rick Perry's ad is the massive hypocrisy that involve his supposed Christian faith. For a unabashed Christian man, Mr. Perry certainly has a funny way of showing it, by de facto stating that the US military should have the right to discriminate who can and can not serve their nation simply because of a sexual preference/lifestyle choice. The faith preached by Jesus Christ taught above all else tolerance and love towards our fellow man/woman and his and others' hatred towards those different from themselves is a disgrace to the Christian faith (cough Rick Santorum cough) they claim to be such strong followers of.

Instead of President Obama's supposed "war on religion", perhaps Rick Perry should worry more about his war on common sense..Does he really think we are that stupid?

Strike three, and your out Mr. Perry.



The views and opinions expressed in the above piece are solely those of the author and not that of the Modern Whig Party or any other political organization.

Pearl Harbor..May We Never Forget

May we never forget those who paid the ultimate price and lost their lives in defense of our great nation on that terrible day 70 years ago..

And may we never forget the millions of American men and women who volunteered to serve in the aftermath of that terrible day, whether it be in the factories or on the frontlines, they put their lives on hold to do their part in defense of this nation. This is the reason we call them the "greatest generation", and that spirit of sacrifice and duty lives on today in the hearts of every serviceman/servicewomen of our armed forces.