Thursday, January 31, 2008

Reading Blogs Late At Night

It's what I do. I read a lot these days. A lot a lot. I came across a couple of gems. This is by Hugh, talking about why we need to rally to Romney. But here is the treasure and it comes from Michael Reagan, son of former president Ronald Reagan. Here is a key excerpt, but the whole thing is really worth reading:

Until last night, when I watched the Republican debate, I had no idea how much John McCain dislikes me and just about everybody else but Rudy Giuliani, who if you believe The New York Times is a pretty good hater himself.

As I watched McCain and Governor Romney go at it during the debate at the Reagan Library I was struck by the huge gap that separates McCain -- whose contempt for his fellow humans is patently obvious -- and my dad, Ronald Reagan, who had nothing but the deepest affection and respect for the American people. The feeling is mutual between McCain and me. I don’t like the way he treats people. You get the impression that he thinks everybody is beneath him.

He seems to be saying, “I was a war hero, and you had damn well better treat me as your superior.” He has contempt for conservatives who he thinks can be duped into thinking he’s one of them, despite such blatantly anti-conservative actions as his support for amnesty for illegal immigrants, his opposition to the Bush tax cuts which got the economy rolling again, and his campaign finance bill which skewed the political process and attacked free

Michael Medved is a talk show host for whom I have a ton of respect, but I have been so baffled by his unfailing support of McCain. Today he mentioned that McCain has Nancy Reagan's private endorsement. I love that the quote comes from Reagan's own son. All around the conservative blogosphere there is a call to arms to endorse Romney and prevent McCain from securing the nomination. Please do your homework and help those around you understand why we'll fail if McCain becomes the nominee.

Reagan Library GOP Debate

Another debate, probably another Romney win. I think that was the most I've seen of any debate, and for a lot of it I was just so frustrated with McCain's smearing of Romney's record on Iraq. Romney handled it well, but he really should have taken the gloves off last night. I'm afraid it might be too little too late. From what I'm reading around the web, the only people who are really excited about Romney's performance are people who are already all pro-Romney. Otherwise, most people seemed to conclude that the debate felt flat and shouldn't have been held the night after a major primary.

I'll admit, Romney felt clearly superior to McCain. McCain was evasive on a lot of the questions, particularly when asked about whether or not he'd vote on his own amnesty bill, and the economy. But Romney performing well in the debates is nothing new to the campaign. He's probably had above average performances in all the debates across the board and where has that gotten him thus far?

This comes from the guys at Powerline. I really liked this post on the difference between politicians and businessmen. I felt like the case they present in that last post was especially apparent last night. Romney was still too polite and congenial when McCain was attacking him on "timetables." And this one highlights some differences between McCain and Romney. This was an interesting take:
But McCain may have won this debate before it ever started because the Giuliani endorsement today and the Schwarzenegger endorsement tomorrow appear to be trumping anything that happened tonight.

This is an encouraging take if you're a Romney guy. This is another breakdown of how delegates might get spread following Super Tuesday. And this last one is Hugh's call to conservative supporters of Huckabee. From the Hewitt post:
In fact, the conservative vote has been split in many directions, but now has to decide whether to coalesce around Romney and send the race deep into the spring or turn the party over to Senator McCain and run a 1976/1968 campaign of the center. Mike Huckabee wants GOP voters to ignore what is at work in his remaining in the race, but that's hardly likely. Next Tuesday's contests will be a measure of the strength of the GOP's conservative wing. If it remains strong, it will keep the Romney campaign competitive with wins across the country except in the northeast. If it shrugs its shoulders, the Reagan Coalition will have finished its run.

That is the only way I think Romney can pull out the nomination. Conservatives need to realize the direction the party will head if they hand over the nomination to McCain. The amount of attention, or lack thereof, alotted to Huckabee at the debate last night should have served as a huge indicator to the people about how seriously the country is taking his candidacy. A vote for Huckabee is essentially a vote for McCain. The conservative base cannot be divided, otherwise we are handing over the country to the left.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

GOP Primary Stuff

You should know by now that McCain won Florida yesterday. He won by 5 points, I think he was up over Romney by something like 100,000 votes. That's a pretty good margin, and I don't think it bodes well for Romney one bit. They say that this is the year of the non-bounce from primary wins, but it certainly shouldn't be hurting McCain's momentum going forward.

This upcoming Tuesday is Super Tuesday where 22 states will be holding primaries for the allotment of their delegates. Although Hugh is still unswervingly optimistic about the race, there is just very little opportunity for Romney to bounce back. The problem I have with Hugh's commentary is that it flies so much in the face of what is actually going on. I've been reading his stuff for months now, and every time it looks like Romney will have a breakthrough, he just falls flat. I will vote for him next Tuesday, but frankly, he's running out of "next time(s)." Given Hugh's argument that McCain manages to obtain about 745 delegates after Super Tuesday, that's still more than double the 327 delegates that he's projecting for our guy, Romney. In order to secure the nomination the candidate needs to have 1,191 delegates, and while there is more than 900 delegates after Super Tuesday, that means Romney will still have to capture at least 90% of the remaining delegates to win the nomination outright. If you haven't noticed, he hasn't even cleared 40% yet (maybe he did in Nevada, but I digress). Or, at the very least, if he can force a brokered convention, then he needs to prevent McCain getting the remaining 446 he needs. That's under 50%, so at that point, Romney will then have to do what none of the GOP nominees have been able to do up to this point - win a majority of the vote, majority meaning more than 51%, not just the most. There's just no way.

I hate saying it and I'm as big a Romney supporter as anyone, but it's like we're banking on coming back from more than 5 runs down after the 7th inning against a pretty formidable opponent. It's just very unlikely. The never say die attitude is great and while comebacks do happen, it's more likely that they don't. In which case, we need to start bracing ourselves for the very real possibility of a McCain campaign. And as it's looking right now, Huckabee seems to be running for Vice President already on McCain's ticket. With that in mind, is that what you're really comfortable with? Or, with the prospect of the Democratic nominee, will you throw your weight behind the opponent, whomever that might be? I will vote for the most conservative choice, but I think this election cycle bodes ill for the GOP.

Here is some commentary from Powerline. And then this comes from several contributors over at NRO. And I'll include this quote from another post at Powerline:
Paul wrote a long time ago about the "stature gap" between the Republican presidential candidates and the Democrats. I think we're seeing that, in the eyes of most Americans, the real stature gap is between McCain and the rest of the field. Americans generally choose the person, not his policies. That's frustrating to many of us, but history suggests that it's usually wise.

The bold is mine, but I think that particular point is becoming increasingly clear. This post is more specific to my point. One more excerpt:
So, are primary voters preferring McCain (or Romney) because they think he'll do a better job on the economy? Or do they think McCain (or Romney) will do a better job on the economy because they prefer him?

My strong sense is that it's the latter -- preference drives perception of economic soundness. Voters as a group probably have little idea about the comparative economic acumen, or the substantive economic views, of McCain and Romney. But they do know which of the two they like more and which of the two they trust more, in general. That candidate is likely to become the one they think will do the best job with the economy.

In exit polls for Florida people were saying that the economy is the most important issue, but that the candidate they thought best suited to handle that problem is McCain. Obviously that can't be true given Romney's breadth of experience and very tangible results, not to mention McCain's own admission of his inexperience in dealing with economic issues. I wish I could find the reference for that quote. If you got it, leave it in comments. Who am I even talking to? Nobody who reads this blog has that...anyway...Isn't it unbelievable to think that we are on the verge of entrusting someone with our national budget and economy who has never had to balance a budget bigger than his own personal checkbook? Senators don't have to deal with that. Governors do. And Romney has dealt with several multinational corporations and large scale events. Whatever, I'm feeling depressed again, I'm gonna go eat a motherload cake from Claim Jumper.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Harry Potter

As I briefly mentioned last week, I finished the Harry Potter series. In about 10 weeks I charged through almost 4200 pages. I couldn't have been more pleased with the way the whole thing turned out. Rowling does an amazing job of linking stories together, keeping it all very cohesive, while also keeping the reader in suspense the entire time. When I finally got to the seventh book, it didn't just feel like I had been building to those final moments from the beginning of the Deathly Hallows, but from the beginning of the series. Instead of the build up just from a couple of hundred pages of story development, it has the momentum of six additional long books that give the final 300 pages of the last book some incredible steam that just locked me in until I got to the final period.

Several years ago Orson Scott Card spoke at a symposium at BYU. From what I can remember, his topic focused mainly on the importance of fiction and how it shapes societal trends and values. He brought up an example from the TV show Friends when Ross's ex-wife gets married to her lesbian partner. The ceremony is performed, and sanctioned by a religious minister, and one of the father's of one of the bride's attends in his military uniform. Symbolically then, the show portrays the acceptance of same-sex marriage by both religious and government leaders. This was not by accident.

Card's point in this example is that fiction often presents the breeding ground where ideas and principles are placed. How we embrace the stories put forth often leads to the adoption of the associated ethics and morals that are on display in the piece of fiction, and conversely, our rejection of the story necessarily leads to the denial of those same values. I've made this point on here before, so I'll spare you the same argument again other than to simply say, it's not ever just a story/book/movie/tv show. Our patronage of these products facilitates their growth and acceptance, not of just the final product but what values they promote.

My point (as well as Card's) in bringing all of this up is that Harry Potter is the kind of story that we should want to embrace. It is the type that as parents we should be reading to our children. Not only is the story itself very compelling and entertaining, but Harry is truly a heroic character in spite of the flaws that Rowling clearly portrays him having. He constantly sacrifices, conquers in the face of heartbreaking tragedy, and triumphs over evil. His friends perfectly characterize loyalty and devotion. The story deftly illustrates good and evil and the type of dedication that is required to overcome. Rowling draws from her own loss of her mother to describe Harry's struggles with loss. In the form of the dementors she personifies the suffocating effects of clinical depression. It really is amazing how much real life is captured in her fictional books. I love love love these stories.

Video - Glenn Beck on President Hinckley

I didn't know this guy was a member. Nothing very profound about what he says, nonetheless, it is very touching.

Today's Florida Primary

Here are the latest, and last, polls from Florida for the primary today. It's pretty much a dead heat right now. Hugh is still optimistic that even if Romney loses Florida, he can still pull it out next week on Super Tuesday. I'm not so sure about that. It's really hard to say which way this race will break. On one hand, you've got the popular Florida governor's endorsement for McCain over the weekend, but then you have McCain's spurious attacks on Romney the last few days which may or may not come back to haunt him.

And in other news, last night was President Bush's last state of the union address. This is the actual address. Here is some commentary on it by NRO contributor, Rich Lowry. This comes courtesy of Powerline.

Is it just me, or have the last few days felt so somber? President Hinckley's passing over the weekend, coupled with the dour weather, and then yesterday was the 22nd anniversary of the space shuttle Challenger tragedy, among other things have all really put me in a downer mood. Were you old enough to remember what happened? I vaguely remember being in the library in my grade school watching what was going on. I would have been in kindergarden or maybe 1st grade. That one was especially tragic because from what I hear, the whole country was watching that liftoff.

Anyway...hope you're all well.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Rest In Peace President Hinckley

I think getting the text hearing about President Hinckley's passing is one of those moments that I will remember for the rest of my life. How about you? I think for a lot of people my age, he was our prophet. Something kind of neat about last night was during one of my home teaching visits, we just sat and talked about our favorite President Hinckley moments. A couple of the other guys had some pretty cool experiences, one of them being present in the celestial room at the dedication of the San Diego Temple. I didn't have anything like that, but my favorite moment came while serving as a missionary in the suburb of Quilicura in Santiago, Chile.

At the April conference of 2000 I was watching the sessions in a room at a stake center with other missionaries and we were lucky enough to get the broadcast in English. President Hinckley gave an address entitled My Testimony that, to this day, is one of my favorite all-time talks by anyone ever. He basically just talks about the development of his own personal testimony. My favorite part in the talk is when he gets to the crescendo of his talk when he says, "He is my God and my King." His voice then cracks in that President Hinckley kind of way and at that time, I was just so very touched by that expression. Following the talk the congregation joined in the Hosanna shout for the dedication of the new conference center, and then the MoTab choir sang the Spirit of God and the congregation joined in the last verse. I'll never forget just feeling so overwhelmed by the spirit and just so grateful to be a part of that moment in time.
Rest in peace President Hinckley. We love and revere you for your service and the inspiration you gave to us all.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

I Just Felt Like Running

This is what I'm thinking...The St. George marathon is October 4th. That is my first choice, but there's a possibility that I (or we) don't get in just because there is a limited number of entrants and you have to sign up for a lottery. If that doesn't work out, then I (we) can go ahead and shoot for the Chicago marathon that is the following week on October 13th. I realize that it's on a Sunday. Why don't I feel more bad about that? Maybe it's because I'm a convert and growing up playing soccer on Sundays was just how we did it back in the day. Or maybe I just look at it as being a part of vacation rules...Laura, Dave, and Greg know what I'm talking about. So going all the way out to Chicago qualifies as a vacay and the result is that the commandments change. I know that sounds dumb, but you have to admit that your mentality is slightly different when you go on vacation at least with respect to how you observe the Sabbath.

I started reading Ultra Marathon Man. I'm only a little ways into it, but it's interesting. The writing is a little bit simple and to the point, but his story is pretty engaging. While at his 30th birthday party and having reached certain lofty goals, Dean Karnazes felt he was living without a real sense of purpose. He ended up leaving his own party when a very flirty and attractive woman attempted to loosen him up and have him forget his marriage vows to his high school sweetheart. He ended up running the whole night, traversing 30 miles. For him that was obviously a pivotal moment in his life where he could have chosen infidelity. Instead he just left and ran through the entire night. Have you ever had that same burst of energy where you just don't know what to do other than just run?

I think I understand a little bit better the last couple years why Forrest just felt like he had to run. I wonder what the writer's intention was behind interjecting that event into the storyline. For me there have been a couple of times, where, out of sheer frustration and pent up energy I've just felt like I had to go running to expend the excess levels of anxiety that I had been feeling. The most vivid time was after a girl had broken up with me, and I finally realized that I just had to let go completely. These were not simultaneous events. After a month or two I just had a very hard-hitting realization that I just needed to move on with my life, but accompanied with that was a tremendous sense of loss and despair. I had no idea what else to do so I just went out and ran. It was out of my apartment just south of BYU campus, down past the cemetary in Provo. I think covered something like 6-7 miles and I barely even felt it. Sometimes that release is just so good though.

The marathon for me is more just about conquering what seems to be a very imposing task - running 26.2 miles, for about 4-5 hours. That's hard to do. How often do you just get tired standing on your feet that long? let alone keeping your legs chugging for that distance and length of time. It's one of those goals that seems to be one of those achievements that I would think a lot of people would like to accomplish at some point in their lives, but a lot of times it's something that's just a vague destination off in the horizon that really never seems tangible or real.

I know Greg is committed to the idea. I hope more of you would join in. Most training programs I'm looking at range from about 16-18 weeks, that's only about 4-5 months. However, that is assuming that you're leading a pretty active lifestyle to begin with. If not a marathon, then maybe go for a 5k, or 10k, or half marathon. It's a very worthy goal. While looking up running events, I came across this one that is already filled up for this year, but is definitely something I'd like to do in the future.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

What's New(s) in Florida?

So I got sick the last couple of days. It wasn't terrible, but enough coughing to keep me up at night and make my head pound in the day. I figured it was probably time to take some time off of work when a guy in another office nearby started offering me cough drops and eveyrone I was interviewing kept pointing out that I sounded like I was sick. That is mostly the reason why I haven't blogged. The other part of the reason is that I was finishing up the rest of Harry Potter.

That's right. I finished them all. I started around Thanksgiving and I blew through the last two in the last two weeks. The last one I actually finished in a 24 hour period. I'll post more on that later...

What I was going to go over a little more in depth was the GOP primary for Florida. That one is coming up this next Tuesday, January 29th. That one is a really big one because it's the last one (I think) before Super Tuesday when 22 states have their primaries. Florida is a winner-take-all state, with 57 delegates up for grabs. What's more is that it's a closed primary, meaning that only Republicans are going to be voting and that basically means that none of the candidates will be getting a boost from Independents or Democrats. Basically that's good news for Romney, bad news for McCain and maybe even Giuliani.

In related news, you've heard that Fred Thompson withdrew from the nomination, right? Some people speculated that his voters would distribute pretty evenly between the other candidates, but with his across the board stance on conservative positions, it would seem that his people would go to the next most conservative candidate, Mitt Romney. I think this is reflecting in the most recent polls that show Romney pulling ahead of McCain and Giuliani. On top of all of that, there are rumors that Huckabee is going to go ahead and pull out of Florida early and concentrate on other Southern states. Again, it would seem that his strongest contingent of voters (social conservatives, more specifically the evangelicals) would be aligning themselves with Romney. Probably not as much as will be the case with the Thompson voters, but they would seem to lean more in his direction than the other candidates.

How does everything shape up then? Well...obviously this would be a huge boost for Romney if he were to win because it would finally give him a win in a state where it's widely contested by other candidates and he has no personal connections to the state like he has had in his other wins. Also, it sets the stage for what happens on Super Tuesday because of its timing, being the last primary and all. If McCain wins, that's hard for Romney to bounce back from because he needs something to swing momentum in his favor going into February 5th. If Giuiliani manages to pull it out, then he's right back in this thing and could validate his campaign strategy and refute decades of political history. There is a lot of volatility in the polls right now though, so there's really no telling what it all means. Remember that last time with Michigan polls were showing McCain up by one or two points, then Romney ended up winning by nine. In South Carolina it was pretty right on. This time, however, the dynamic is different because there is a new candidate (Giuiliani) and with the withdrawal of Thompson, that should change voter behavior a little bit. Just stay right there on the edge of your seat and we'll be finding out more in just a few days.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention it, but tonight is the only debate before the primary on Tuesday. I think it starts at 730pm pacific. It's do or die for these guys now. Romney has had solid performances the last several and McCain has looked flat, so let's hope that trend to continues. Plus Giuliani will have to come out with his guns blazing if he wants to make his mark on the nomination race, and all this adds up to a lot of negative light on McCain because Romney of course will be doing the same. It's gonna be very interesting.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Martin Luther King Jr.

Today is the observance of Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday. When looking back on the past, it's easy to point out the greatness of certain individual's and their monumental efforts because the ripples of their lives has had time to resonate throughout the annals of history. I read this piece this morning and was feeling a little bit short-changed that we haven't seen the likes of MLK in years. Then I began to wonder how often it is that we are in the midst of a remarkable human being and we can't even recognize it. It could be at the end of our nose and we wouldn't even know it.

That's exactly what happened with King, to the point that people made an effort that proved enough to make him a martyr. In the last five or so years, do you think you could point out someone who is on his level? I think Ronald Reagan approaches that kind of mystique. I wonder if Romney might some day as well.

If he ends up winning in Florida, then he has a pretty good path to the presidency. If he somehow manages to win the presidency, will we be pointing to his speech on religion that he gave a couple of months ago as one of the speeches of our generation? I wonder...

In any case, do yourself a favor and read (or reread) some of Martin's greatest pieces. Go here for his letter from a Birmingham jail. Here for his I Have a Dream speech, audio and video. And his last speech the day before his assassination.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Couple of Items of Business

You might have noticed that on the left I have a labels archive. I've only just recently begun to relabel every post. I did the tedious work of removing all the old labels which were way too specific, and now I'm trying to categorize everything using just ten or so different labels. One day that might be of interest to you. It's going to take a little while just because, amazingly, I am approaching 300 posts and that means that's alotta labeling.

Second...I'm noticing recently that I'm getting more and more hits for search words including some combination of Giuliani, Dance Party, and Janet Reno. I love that I'm getting more as the campaigns take more of the center stage. This is probably one of my favorite skits ever from SNL (Saturday Night Live - I'm including both terms so googlers might get redirected to this specific post), but unfortunately it's not anywhere on the internet. I've looked, a lot. Trust me. Should you ever find it, however, please let me know and I'd be more than happy to post it for y'all.

More to come later, but it's kind of a slow news day. However, that doesn't mean that I don't have posts a brewing. See ya.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Some Of This And That

I thought this was really cool. Recently discovered photos of President Lincoln's Second Inauguration.

Worried about the economy? Don't be. Read this article. I won't even bother explaining because it gives a great explanation of why we shouldn't worry about the gloom and doom a lot of people, especially in the media, are predicting.

And I thought this was an interesting article by Victor Davis Hanson. Have you noticed much people are invoking Reagan in this election? He's become some kind of mythical creature from the way people are referencing him. I think his death helped him get on his way to canonization for a lot of people.

This afternoon after I got lunch and I dropped by the comic shop. I know, so geeky, right? But I still love those things. I realized how many issues I've been wanting. But I ended up buying this series about Spiderman's divorce. If Peter Parker and MJ can't make it, is there hope for any of us? I do love comics. I kind of love everything. It's nice to have so much to get excited about.

Happy BirthYesterday Mikey!

I should have been more on top of this, but yesterday was Mike's 22nd. Happy Birthday little song. I didn't realize that about 10 years ago these guys wrote this song in honor of your day yesterday...I miss Millencolin...

Greg's (father Reid) latest thing at birthdays is to go around and have people tell funny stories about the person on his day of birth celebration. I was thinking last night after soccer about what I should have shared as some people told their stories. The one I thought of was years ago and the first time I realized that Mike would probably be as funny as his older brothers...

So Dave and I were going through our tennis phase when we were 14 or 15. Mike was about 8 at that time and going through the I-want-to-hang-out-with-my-older-brother-and-his-friends phase. It was a summer day and we wanted to play tennis, but loathed the thought of shagging the balls ourselves because it was just so hot. So we naturally thought, let's take advantage of little brother Mike and we can have him and Amanda shag the balls like the pros do and it will be great. Fun for us, and then little Mike Reid will be serving a purpose while getting to hang with us so everybody wins, right? We go out to play and sure enough Mike gets tired of shagging our balls. Frustrated with him, I yelled, "Mike! what's that ball doing on the court?" And he curtly responded, "I don't know! the backstroke?" He totally caught me, and Dave, by surprise and we just died laughing. It may not sound that funny to you now, but the joke actually came from some dumb book where a customer asked a waiter at a restaurant what a fly was doing in his soup. The backstroke he says, loved it...Happy Birthday little brother!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Finally...Mitt Wins One In Michigan

It's interesting how much emphasis is placed on declaring a "winner" in these states where it isn't winner take all. Then it becomes more like a cumulative point total, kind of like how the NASCAR end of the season winner wins at the end of the season. As long as you have strong showings in all of the races, you can easily end up winning the overall title. For example, although Mitt won last night he actually only got three more delegates than McCain did. That isn't a big deal considering that the eventual nominee needs to rack up more than 1200 delegates to obtain the nomination. I guess it's mostly for the media and for people who don't really understand how the process really works.

Some reading:
  • This is Hugh's take on what the win last night means for the GOP race.
  • This is also from Hugh's site, but it comes from his blog contributor, Patrick Ruffini. What I like about this one is that he breaks down the demographics of the vote.
  • This is John O'Sullivan from NRO talking about the overall race.
  • Byron York, also from NRO, talking about Romney's campaign strategy and whether or not it can work anywhere that's not Michigan.
  • And finally the guys over at Powerline. I thought this was some really good analysis about what last night meant for Mitt. I almost prefer to hear the impartial perspective that they have over Hewitt's heavily pro-Romney points sometimes. If I'm looking for hope, I read Hugh. If I'm trying to think realistically, I read these guys.

There are no significant polls yet for South Carolina or Florida. I say that only because nothing will reflect what went on last night, but it's doubtful that this will give him much of a bounce because that has generally been the case this campaign year. As far as I know, it sounds like Mitt will concede in South Carolina and take aim at Florida, where it's looking pretty open.

Did anyone see the post-primary speeches? I'm surprised no one has really written anything about this yet, but Huckabee was the first to take the stage to concede defeat. About 5 minutes in and before he could finish, McCain took the podium. Less than a minute had passed when Romney began his victory speech. I wonder how that will play out among the candidates. That had to have set off McCain because that guy has cussed out other people for less.

On the other side of the race, I think Hillary's margin for victory was only about 15-20%. She got about 60% of the vote, but when your next biggest competitor is "uncommitted," that can't be very encouraging. That means that about 40% of Democratic voters went out in freezing temperatures to pull a lever for a vote that essentially means I'd rather not vote. Isn't that funny? It'll be interesting to see what impact that has, if any. That's all people.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Bits and Pieces

The Michigan primary is today. Want some reading? Of course you do. I liked this article the most on Mitt. It comes from a nationally published journal focusing on public affairs in politics and the arts. I liked the comments that follow. It's funny how many people develop their talking points in regards to politics. What are talking points? The issues that people consistently bring up about what issue is in question, e.g. if the economy is in question then Dems and GOPers have their respective points they bring like earmarks, tax cuts, supply-side economics, welfare programs, etc. The RCP poll average has Mitt up by 2.7% in Michigan. It seems that about a week ago McCain was up by 6%, and Romney has been picking up momentum. This is from National Review about how close the race is in Michigan. And this is another from NRO that gives an insider perspective from the Romney camp.

Isn't it funny that there is so much polling and interest in the primaries before they actually happen. I guess it gives people perspective and people like me something to write about.

When that sister gave the talk on Sunday in the regional conference about marathon running I was coming out of a mini-rest period, so gimme a break. I had been at the church since seven in the morning because of priesthood leadership. At least I wasn't in the deep REM sleep that the grandma to my left was in whose volume of snoring was competing with my ability to sleep/listen to conference. I still think she must have been really inspired to talk about marathon running because the message so obviously hit home for me - run a marathon and now I'm actually planning on doing it. Although it is kind of an unusual topic for a church forum, but's inspiring change in one member and I got the message loud and clear.

Does anyone else miss TV? I watched last week's My Name is Earl and 30 Rock. I guess those are the last episodes that they had available? because they were Christmas episodes...

The Lakers have been very quietly succeeding this season. Very much so. Their budding star just got hurt and will be out for the next couple of months, but if we stay quiet they might continue to do well. Shhhhhh....

So I found out yesterday that an ex-girlfriend of mine is getting married sometime in June. What's weird about it? I felt totally unaffected by the news. With her I've become very familiar with the feelings of disappointment of her moving on, or feeling heartbroken about how things have turned out, but none of that was the case yesterday when I found out. While running last night (thanks good sister marathon-talk), I was thinking about all of this and I came to this conclusion: it just wasn't my time with her, and I wasn't ready to head in that direction in general. There have been so many very vital life lessons that I've had to experience and I don't think that I could've gotten them if things had turned out with her. I think I've really gained a lot of perspective about the things I want to do with life career-wise, and have become very settled spiritually. Granted, are you ever really ready for marriage? Of course not, but I can't help feeling that things are turning out just as they are supposed to. And that's just a really good place to be.

Monday, January 14, 2008

St. George Marathon

We had a regional/stake conference the past couple days. There were some good messages, and Sister Parkin spoke yesterday morning. I'm sure she was talking about something else entirely, but what I got out of her message was that I should put in motion steps toward actually running a marathon. Let's run the St. George Marathon. I seriously have no idea what she talked about now that I'm trying to recall her message. I'm sure I wrote down more than just that, but that is what I'm taking away from her talk.

I've been toying with this idea in my head for some time now. I don't think I've expressed these thoughts aloud to anyone besides Greg, though. Running a marathon seems to be one of those things that is all about mind over body and is one of the ultimate tests of endurance, mental and physical. I think I've become more motivated in the last couple months just because I keep hearing about all of these people who have run marathons and so many times I find myself thinking, how is it that some middle aged mom is running marathons and I haven't even seriously considered it yet? Some lady in my office apparently runs marathons every month. Even my boss who is almost 40 ran a marathon a few years ago. She was inspired by some old nun who had run one in Chicago.

I keep hearing about all these people who have done it and I see no reason why I shouldn't be able to do the same. I'm 27 years old, consider myself to be in pretty good shape, and with as much determination as anybody else, so why not? If I were a professional athlete then I would be in the prime of my career. This is why I think you should run with me and why I feel like it's a good choice:
  • The age thing - you guys are all about the same age as me. Now is as good a time as any.
  • The scenery is supposed to be beautiful.
  • This particular marathon is apparently one of the fastest to run in the country.
  • It is set for Saturday, October 4th. So it's not a Sunday (and now I'm remembering what her talk was about) and if we do some reading on marathon training and get the gear (shoes...I guess you don't really need anything else) over the next couple weeks, starting in February we'll have 8 months to train for it. That should be enough time to do it.
  • Winter is already starting to taper off here in Southern California so running weather should be pretty decent.
  • The most intense part of training will be during the summer, so if you're in school then that should make it more convenient. One training program I've been looking at peaks about 3 weeks before the race so if you (or maybe even me depending on what happens with my applications) are starting up again in the Fall, then it will only conflict for the first couple weeks of the new school year.
  • And if one of your resolutions is to be healthier and get into better shape, this is probably one of the most hard core ways to do it. You'll be exercising a ton and you'll necessarily have to be eating better just so that your body can keep up.

I think I make a pretty strong case. Greg is going to be running in the Catalina marathon in March. He's just starting to train now. His wife thinks he's crazy, but I really think this is just a mind over body kind of thing. I mentioned this before, but another friend of ours is going to medical school at UNLV and he found out that his program had him registered to run in the Las Vegas marathon a week before it was to occur. So without any training and basically just rolling out of bed and getting up and running 26.2 miles, he did it. And he followed that same plan two years in a row. If people can run these things with no training whatsoever, who are well past their physical peaks, then why can't I? Or we?

Even my branch president ran one. He's the guy who is inspiring Greg to run in the Catalina marathon in a couple of months. And that guy has 4 kids, is a branch president, and is a marriage and family therapist so don't try and say that you're too busy to do it yourself. I've been putting together resolutions and goals for the next year, before I'm 30, and lifelong goals and this particular one falls into all three categories. I think the first place to start with this and actually see it through is doing things that will commit you to the goal, e.g. say yes to it, write it down, buy shoes, register early, and actually start training. Let's do it.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Hewitt On McCain

This is the full article. I think it's really interesting, and gives some more depth to the issues I briefly mentioned in the previous post about Senator John McCain. Here are some key excerpts that he brings up:
What will decide this thing? The Luntz focus groups on Sunday and Thursday night which went overwhelmingly to Romney and Thompson respectively tell us what Republican voters prize most of all: Fight in their candidates. This may be because of what we know lies ahead in the fall, when not just an energized Dem nominee assaults them day after day, but when Soros et al unleash their tens of millions and the leftie nutroots scream BushCo and Halliburton at the top of their virtual lungs 24/7. The GOP knows it will need a fighter full of energy and optimism who will both argue the case for Reagan conservatism and do so with the graciousness and charm that will be a sharp contrast with the angry left.

And then this parting shot:
A GOP vote for McCain is a vote for a shattered base and a desultory campaign in the fall. It is a vote for lecture after lecture on global warming, campaign finance reform, and the bridge to nowhere. It is a vote for an old warrior way past his prime and the prospect of three debates against Barack Obama in which the age and energy gap goes unremarked upon while devastatingly obvious.

What I can't understand is how Michael Medved - whom I normally hold in regard with respect to his political opining - can so heartily embrace McCain as his candidate. Then again, there have been several issues where he and I have departed far from one another in political philosophy.'s hard to read anything by Hewitt without thinking that Romney doesn't still have an excellent shot at the candidacy.

Here Comes Michigan

Some more items on the presidential election. Is this still interesting to everyone? It only makes sense that there would be such intense scrutiny on what is the most important job on the entire planet. If you think about it in terms of an application process, with the American people serving as the board to arrive at a decision to decide on who the next CEO/President of the United States will be, then it's really kind of a cool process.

Anyone have any links that clearly explains how each party's nominees will eventually be decided? From what I understand, the nomination process for each party consists of securing a majority of the delegates that go to the national convention and cast their ballots for a particular nominee. I think on the Republican side it's around 1200-1300, and the Democrats have around double that. So when you look at the states and who comes out the "winner," it's a little misleading because it depends on the state and how they go about alotting their delegates to each candidate. Some states are winner-take-all states where if a certain candidate "wins" the state, then they get all of that state's delegates. The first couple of states that have already had caucuses and primaries so far - Iowa, New Hampshire, Wyoming - aren't winner take all states. For that reason, each of the candidates have won over a certain amount of delegates. The number of delegates that a state has depends on population and adherence to certain rules (I'm still not entirely clear on how that works out). Most of the states that have primaries on Super Tuesday, February 5th, are winner-take-all states. I give all of that as a background for this story on how Romney can win the nomination without having to "win" every state. That one is especially interesting.

Last night there was another debate. This is Hewitt's take on it. I think this story by the New York Times gives a pretty impartial look at the debate, so I thought that was pretty helpful. This is a National Review guy, Jim Geraghty. And then this comes from Rich Lowry, who I think gives some good insight, always. This comes from Jonathan Martin at I like that one least because it feels like he is decidedly pro-anyone not named Mitt Romney so it feels like in his writing, Romney will always come out behind. And this last one comes from Dean Barnett, who writes for the Weekly Standard, and is usually the guest host when Hugh isn't doing his own show.

You know, to be honest, I'm not feeling very good about Romney's chances to succeed in this race. There is still a chance, no doubt, but it seems like there have to be a lot of ifs that have to go in his favor in order for him to win the nomination. If he doesn't get Michigan this Tuesday, then I just really do not think there is a way for him to bounce back from that. He will have lost three big battles in a row that he tried to make a hard stand on and it feels like at this point, he's already reeling. And what's worse is that I feel like Michigan is already leaning in McCain's favor. Right now it's a tight race between Romney, McCain, and Huckabee for that state. However, the Michigan primaries allow for Independents and Democrats to vote for a Republican candidate. That would not bode well for Romney one bit. Here is a look at the polls for Michigan. What Romney does have going for him in Michigan is a couple of newspaper endorsements, his father being the governor there back in the '60s, and conservative outlets harping on McCain's and Huckabee's out of the conservative mainstream views. That and the fact that after his loss in New Hampshire, Romney secured $5 million in campaign funds. That's amazing considering that Huckabee got only got a couple hundred thousand after Iowa, and McCain about the same after New Hampshire. That's also another point in favor of Romney - McCain has very little money left to campaign, which is why the matching funds debate is so big right now.'s still anybody's guess how this one turns out. Tuesday, however, should provide a lot of (or maybe just more) clarity.

Let's also welcome the recently engaged Taylor Rice to the blogosphere. He'll be permalinked on the left.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Ebbs And Flows

While sitting in sacrament meeting the other day I was looking at our unremarkable attendance in the branch. The thought came startingly to my mind that I've actually been there for three years now. I just hit that mark. I really can't believe it. I've never been in a ward/branch for that long.

My first thoughts drifted to the inception of the branch and just how many people we had attending back then - it was probably around 120 or so. Now it's about half that, and has been holding steady there for about a year and a half. Back when things started, I could have never imagined the branch being so small, and now the converse is true. Then I started thinking about how this is probably just a phase and it's just a matter of time before things pick up again.

From that point, I began to drift off and think about how ebbs and flows are common in probably all areas of our life. Spiritually speaking I can point to many times in my life where there have been some very definite peaks and valleys. In my personal life last year - I think April through August - was a valley so to speak. At the same time, however, I feel like I experienced a corresponding peak in my spirituality. None of the things that happened at that time ever could have been things that I would have categorized as desirable, or could have even expected, but they gave me an increased capacity to learn to cope, and then to thrive. I emerged with my faith intact, and never have I felt so capable to confront life head on. It's a wonderful feeling of empowerment to feel like I am master of my own creature, that I have complete dominion and autonomy over not just my own personal appetites, but my own capacity to adapt internally to all circumstances, even the external events that I have no control over.

More recently I feel like I might have plateaued in some areas of my life, but I've felt an upswing with renewed commitment to simple things - exercise & diet, personal worship, etc. I love health and fitness because it's something that's pretty easy to measure. Something that's interesting about social psychological research is that when rating levels of happiness one thing that researchers commonly ask about is how often a person exercises in a given amount of time. The reason being that engaging in physical activity is an objective measure to subjective states, i.e. people who exercise regularly report higher rates of overall well-being. But the personal worship items - scripture study, prayer, church attendance, etc. - pays huge dividends also.

The ebbs and flows that we experience are common. When I had these thoughts Matthew Arnold's Dover Beach actually came to mind.

The sea is calm tonight,
The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the straits; on the French coast the light
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand,
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.
Come to the window, sweet is the night air!

Only, from the long line of spray
Where the sea meets the moon-blanched land,
Listen! you hear the grating roar
Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,
At their return, up the high strand,
Begin, and cease, and then again begin,
With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
The eternal note of sadness in.

Sophocles long ago
Heard it on the Agean, and it brought
Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow
Of human misery; we
Find also in the sound a thought,
Hearing it by this distant northern sea.
The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth's shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.

Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.

It is a somber poem, but I think really captures that feeling of ebbs and flows that can occur. His message is a little different than what I would prefer to share. In a fireside that I attended over the summer, the Brother Millet read aloud John 3:8:

The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but
canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is
born of the Spirit.

Then he explained that the Lord is obviously not talking about wind patterns. In the original Hebrew we find that "wind" is better translated as the spirit. He further expounded that there are definite times in our lives when we will feel greater communion with the spirit than others. It isn't necessarily because we are living poorly, or are otherwise flouting gospel principles. The ebbs and flows that we experience with the spirit sometimes is just simply a matter of Heavenly Father allowing us to walk on our own at some points in our life.

I think if you look at it from the perspective of a loving parent, all a mother or father wants is for a child to grow up to be self-sufficient, and contribute to the lives of those around him/her. I think that as God removes those training wheels and we have to begin riding on our own, He expects us to hearken to those times when He gently guided us. That is why, for example, that I suspect in the Doctrine & Covenants, Oliver is reminded of the time when he undoubtedly felt His warm over him (D&C 6:23) and not just given another booming response.

I just think it's a pattern that reoccurs throughout our lives. It doesn't seem like there will ever be a point where we can sit back and rest because there just always seems to be so much upheaval, in one form or another. The concept of time and its measurement is a testament to me of God's acknowledgement of this concept. We have a new year every 365 days, 12 months a year, and seven days a week to try and recommit ourselves to living the best we can. It happens over and over, and it's for good reason: we need every opportunity we can get to right our ships and learn to navigate the ebbs and flows that beset us in the seas we live in.

Those are just some thoughts I had in sacrament meeting last Sunday.

Britney - A Picture Story

Remember when there was a time when Britney Spears used to drive you Crazy?

And not that kind of crazy?


I remember back in college we used to have a cardboard cutout of her when she was in her hey day. We would hide it around our apartment, and at night if you were walking around in the dark you might get a rude awakening a la Britney if you weren't careful. It was the only way we could get her into our apartment, because unless you were this guy...

she was just way out of your league. Then, Oops...


She did it...


Now it seems like she's probably wishing she could do so well as hook-up with the likes of a Kevin Federline.

I used to think...if only I could be so Lucky...

I would have been her Slave...

During freshman year at school me, Dave, Laura, and Brenna went through a two month phase where, baby, we just wanted one more time out on the scene...

Now I wish I didn't have to see her fall from grace.

I wish she were Stronger...

And Toxic...

But not like that...

I wish I could say that I want her to Gimme More...

but even then it doesn't seem like she will ever recover.

Well it's My Prerogative to preserve the memory that Britney we all used to know and love.

More Race For The Nomination Stuff...

If you don't already know, McCain took New Hampshire yesterday in that primary. The big surprise was Clinton pulling off a victory, when earlier in the day, people were thinking Obama was going to pull off a victory, possibly even in the the double digits. That was pretty stunning.

McCain winning New Hampshire wasn't a huge surprise. Romney was starting to build-up steam following his performance on the debates, particularly Sunday night's. However, nobody was really expecting him to close that gap over such a short span of time. I did read somewhere that it's a possibility that with so many of the independent voters swinging between Obama and McCain, they might have fled the Obama bandwagon to McCain as a strategic vote because of the early anticipated blow-out of Clinton. That would explain McCain's ability to hold on and Clinton's upset, but that still seems implausible to me. So you're telling me that about 25,000 people had that same thought in mind yesterday? Not likely.

I think this is a really interesting take that Romney had mentioned following the close of the voting yesterday.
HH: Now Governor, this is not unfolding the way any pundit called it, certainly not the way you had hoped it would unfold, but also not the way your opponents hoped it would unfold. John McCain’s down from 60% eight years ago. You’ve dealt with a lot of situations where tactics and strategy has to evolve. How are you doing that? Have you arrived on a central message for the next eight weeks?

MR: Well, there’s no question but that our message continues to be the same message, and it’s a powerful and connecting message. What’s happened that’s quite different is that we were anticipating that we had to win the first two primaries to go up against Rudy Giuliani, who was way ahead in the national polls, and who would have a commanding lead in Florida. Well, now Rudy Giuliani’s no longer in the lead in the national polls, and it looks like he’s number four or number three in Florida. So the whole world is different than we thought, and it’s much more of an open process than we’d expected with at least three and maybe more Republicans all vying for votes. And I think it’s anybody’s guess as to exactly how this is going to turn out.

Here is the post by Hugh Hewitt. This is Hugh's analysis of what happened yesterday and some things to possibly anticipate coming up over the next couple weeks. This comes courtesy of the guys at Powerline. And if you're really interested on getting different takes, visit Real Clear Politics. What that site does is collect a number of different headlines from around the country and posts them in one spot. It's really a great resource for this kind of thing. If you look at this morning's headlines you'll notice that pretty much everyone has a different take on what's going on, probably because nothing has really gone the way anyone has expected. The only thing that does seem clear is that the race on the Republican side is wide open. I thought this article from the Wall Street Journal was pretty interesting. This New York Times piece gives some good analysis on the next primary which will be next week in Michigan.

If you're a Romney supporter, these are some reasons you can feel encouraged:
  • He has won more delegates than any other GOP candidate
  • He has a strong base support among Republicans in the electorate - more so than any other candidate. Huckabee's Iowa support drew largely from Evangelicals, and McCain's win in New Hampshire was buoyed largely by Independent voters. Michigan will be the first open race between more than just two candidates. Florida will probably be the most open of all the races. At least in the beginning.
  • Romney still has more resources and better organization than any other candidate nation-wide. In a race that is more and more looking like a war of attrition, his ability to outlast could be the determining factor in winning the nomination.

Nevertheless, the guy still has to pull out a major victory at some point. If it doesn't happen in Michigan, or at least in Florida, it may not happen at all.

On the other side, I think Clinton's victory yesterday is good for the GOP. Now there is no clear front-runner and Obama and Clinton will have to fight tooth and nail to get that party's nomination. That means dirty fighting for both sides which will really expose each candidate's weaknesses even before the race for the Presidency is on. There was some speculation that the moron sexist voters who should up at a Clinton rally Monday could have been plants from the Clinton camp to generate more support among women. I thought that was interesting.

In any case, this thing is a long way from being finished.

Monday, January 7, 2008


I thought that I would enjoy this more than I did, although I do think that I still enjoyed it. The dialogue is very clever and all of the performances are really good. All around. One particular character left me feeling so disturbed, though, that it kind of left a bad taste in my mouth. Dave is right, Michael Cera is just awesome. I wish he would have had more scenes in the movie, but Ellen Page was really good also. I was surprised at how good Jennifer Garner was too. I thought the song at the end was really cute. The love story that did eventually play out was really very sweet.

Another group of people went to see it the same day we did. You wanna know what happened? Several of them walked out on it. Yeah, they were mormon. My favorite part is that the guy who was there didn't think anything of it, but when I heard about it I was totally annoyed right off the bat. I guess I just think it's just dumb that someone would go to see a movie about teen pregnancy and not realize that it's probably going to be dealing with some touchy issues. Of course I'm also reading into the situation and assuming that the people who walked out also felt they owed it to themselves and to those who stayed to protest the film with their "righteous indignation" at such appalling content. But of course I'm judgmental about people who are judgmental and when it gets to that point, we're all being dumb. At least I realize that I'm probably more annoyed about that situation than I should be.

Japanese American National Museum

Admittedly, when I first heard about this exhibit I was intrigued. All I heard was that there would be some contemporary Japanese art. Good enough, right? And when it's recommended by someone you know then you tend to give more creedence, but this was a friend of a friend recommendation. I know, pretty perilous and I should have known better.

First's funny how often I let myself get tricked by things like that. So and so says this movie or book or whatever is great, you'll probably like it. Well, unless that so and so is Dave, or someone who knows me inside and out, then I probably shouldn't give too much weight to another person's judgment because simply put, it's not my own. Therefore it's not necessarily my taste. Not to say that I can't take recommendations, I just shouldn't be so surprised sometimes when I'm not as satisfied as I thought I might be.

The museum was very small and the exhibit we were going to see, The Giant Robot Biennale, was really brief, even by that museum's standards. It was basically two rooms of some cover art on the walls. I liked some of the stuff, but most of it just seemed really strange to me. I don't know if there is any modern art that I'm really excited about, not that I even have that much exposure to it.

One part that I did really enjoy, however, was the display on Japanese Internment Camps. One quote in particular stuck out to me. I liked it enough to actually write it down on paper and include it here:

The achievement of redress demonstrates how the actions against one community came to be understood as a violation of the freedoms and liberties of all Americans.
I liked that because I think it eloquently expresses the interconnectedness we share with others, whether we're consciously aware of it or not. Sometimes I'm not very sympathetic to pains that persons of specific groups sometimes express. This just helped me to remember that often our collective fate has great bearing on our individual lives.

I wish that I would have learned earlier about the Dali exhibit at the LA County Museum of Art before it wrapped up last weekend. Not only did it have The Persistence of Memory on display, but it was a film and painting exhibit. Let's all keep our ears to the ground for all the good stuff that's out there people.

Onward To New Hampshire

Maybe some of you didn't hear about it, but Mitt won the caucuses in Wyoming. What's that? You had no idea that was even going on? Neither did most people. Here is the story and it happened on Saturday.

This last weekend was mostly all about the debates that went on both Saturday and Sunday nights. There was a lot of speculation that with the Iowa loss, Romney would be reeling and his support would be jumping ship, which would be revealed in New Hampshire. He desperately needed to have a good showing over the weekend in order to be competitive for NH, and even beyond. His whole campaign strategy was built around the idea that he would win the early states and slingshot himself with the momentum he built up into the national race to win the nomination.

Well Mitt destroyed over the weekend. He needed to come up big and he really did. So much so that whereas just last week he was down double digits in the polls to McCain, even before the Iowa stumble, now he's entered to within the margin of error, down just one percent from McCain's 32% support. A couple of things are in play here, namely, his good showing in the debates as well as Obama's growing support from Independent voters. NH has a large amount of independent voters and McCain's support drew largely from that crowd. However, with Obama's recent surge he is pulling away that support and Romney is clearly benefitting.

Here is the take from the guys at Powerline here, and here. The second is a detailed account of the debate, point by point. This one comes from Michelle Malkin. It's also long, but what you're probably most interested in is found right at the top. I'm going to include a really interesting video from Frank Luntz with New Hampshire voters immediately following the Sunday night debate. This one is Hugh Hewitt's take. And this comes from several different writers at National Review Online.

Tomorrow is D-day for Romney. It won't make or break his campaign, and it's still very well possible, maybe even probable that McCain wins tomorrow. However, this will go a long way if Romney can manage to pull this one out.

Friday, January 4, 2008

The Nominations Are Underway

Did you all catch what happened yesterday? Huckabee 34% to Romney's 25%. Obama 37% to Edwards and Clinton at 30% and 29%. Both of the winners from upstart campaigns. Pollsters say that voters commonly reported that they didn't expect either Huckabee or Obama to win the general election, but they ended up voting for them anyway. And there was about a 2-1 showing of Democrat versus Republican voters in a state that's considered a swing state that Bush won in 2004. That does not bode well for the GOP.

Here is a link from Powerline. These are Hugh Hewitt's thoughts. And this comes from a Senior Editor at National Review. I haven't even read this one yet, but this is the Townhall take on what happened yesterday. Here is one last link that describes a little bit about how the caucuses in Iowa work.

Basically it's pretty bad news for Clinton (yay!) and very bad news for Romney (uhoh!). If Romney doesn't take New Hampshire on Tuesday (which right now is very plausible), then we're probably looking at a Huckabee-McCain race for the nomination. Although yesterday I was reading some commentary that was suggesting that an Obama victory last night could be bad news for McCain because of the fact that New Hampshire allows Independents and Democrats to vote either way, Republican or Democrat. That being the case, undecideds could very well go over to Obama and feed off some of the momentum that he has built with a good sized Iowa victory. Romney really needs a good weekend and strong close if he is to be taken seriously as a candidate. There are a couple of debates this weekend. It will be really interesting to see if he changes much in his strategy, goes off the cuff a little bit because a major knock against him is that he's too polished and rehearsed.

Yesterday I was listening to some of Huckabee's statements about his fair tax policies that he wants to install should he become the next president. They were actually pretty good ideas. I still think the guy would be bad news for GOPers if he became the nominee, but I do dislike him a lot less.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Happy New Year!

This was our New Years crew for the celebration. It's funny and seems arbitrary to put so much focus on one single moment in time, doesn't it? There is so much build up and anticipation for one passing moment that could just as easily be February 1st, June 1st, or October 1st, but it's nice to have the universally recognized non-holiday so close to Christmas because then I get to have so much paid holiday time off. I don't mind that one bit, it just seems strange. It was really fun to see everyone. It feels like it's been too long. Not Dave and Caitlin, I see those dirtbags all the time. I say that affectionately.

I'm going to link to what I thought were some interesting pieces. This one comes from a free-lance journalist reporting from Fallujah, Iraq. Do you remember that name? It's the place, where, a couple of years ago they had burned and dragged the bodies of dead soldiers through the streets. One of the notorious taped beheadings took place there. Now it's the place where this is a common scene:

Is it all possible for that guy to look anymore relaxed than he does in that picture? The article is really interesting because it paints such a different picture of that city than what you would ever imagine. Some of the pictures feel like scenes from my mission - just similarities in the simplicity of the people and the feel of ease that they seem to have.

This next link covers a New York Times editorial. These people must be completely insane. I mean seriously. Things are, and have been, very good in the United States for some time now, but the picture they paint would have you think otherwise. The articles are a little bit longer, but worth your time. The first link includes lots of pictures.