Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Uganda Rising

Last night the DiscoveryTimes channel showed this very interesting documentary about the conflict in Northern Uganda. The brutality that Joseph Kony and Yoweri Museveni have visited upon the people of the region is unspeakable. I have often heard about the LRA and its antics, but this documentary graphically shows u the results of the LRA's madness. Especiallythe young lady who has her lips, and ears chopped of. Or the former child soldier who stoically tells of his past kills. Disturbing I tell you.

Film focuses on the ethnic and geographic dimensions of the conflict, as well as, a primer on Ugandan history. I do not fully understand the situation yet, but the film is a decent starting point.

Orwellian Doublespeak

Newsmax.com had and interesting article about the use of language in Washington D.C. The article referenced the recent finding that there is not hunger in America. Timothy Lynch of the CATO institute provides a more detailed analysis of "double speak" (pdf) with emphasis on national Security issues.

NBC caused quite a stir yesterday with its decision to use the word "Civil War" when describing the situtation in Iraq. A number of other news orgs have decided to - correctly I believe - refer to the situation as a civil war. Live it to the Daily Show to provide a comedic slant on the issue.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Duel in the Desert

So my Sundevils just beat the RATS in the game today, we begun strong then slowed down, then UA lost its quarterback and that was all she wrote. Was a win against our in-state rival and that is great. The commentators made some pretty good point that give the coach some reprieve: the team has been decimated by injury, we lost a bunch of folks last year, and have a better record than last year. These are good points, and may be enough to save the coaches job, but that still doesn't save what has been a disappointing season. Now on to the Bowl game - not a prestigious one. Ans hopefully start building for next years.


Forgettable Football (College) Season

Today is the last game of what has turned out to be another disappointing season for my Sun Devil’s (Arizona State University). This year begun with high hopes, we had two good quarterbacks (Keller and Carpenter), and a schedule that promised at best a 9-3 season. Moreover, 21 and 10 years ago, we got to the Rose Bowl, so our stars seemed aligned for greatness. We were even ranked in both the AP and Coaches polls. The three games we were likely to lose (but compete in) were USC, Oregon, and California; we lost them and were competitive in only one (destroyed in the other two)

There was still hope and our play against USC was positive, this was followed by expected wins at Stanford, and Washington. At this point ASU is 5-3, we’ve survived the difficult part of the season (though doubts still persisted about our offence, and defense was getting tired), then we drop a game at OSU, Win over WSU, and lose to UCLA. Now 6-5 is a decent record, but we’re 3-5 in conference play, and the performances have not been impressive at all, defense begun the season strong then stumbled. Offence never got its act together, and the coaching……Well there is an underground movement to fire the coach (which begun with his botched handling of our great quarterback situation at the start of the year).

Today we face our neighbor to the south, our in state rival, and for the first time since I arrived in Tempe, the other team is favored to win, and actually has a better conference record. Whether we win or lose today’s game, we shall still have a .500 or above record, and this may be enough to get a bowl game. But it shall be no solace for a season that promised so much, but failed to deliver. We shall all look at the decision to switch quarter backs with suspicion, we shall look at the hype placed on the quarter back, and the promising start against weak non-conference opponents, and wonder what could have been.

This is one devil who shall from now on temper his expectations (much like I do when the AZ Cardinals are hyped). Should the Coach be fired, I don’t know, I tend to blame the over confident quarterback (who threatened to quit the team), more than the coach. No matter what humble pie should be in large supply.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


If a new U.N. report on the situation in Somalia is correct (some have doubts), then the situation in Somalia has metastasized from clan warfare to a regional/global conflict. The report argues that there are ten nations involved in the conflict, seven assisting the Islamic Courts (Iran, Eritrea, Djibouti, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Libya) and three on the side of the Transitional Government (Ethiopia, Uganda and Yemen). The situation in Somalia seems to be getting more dangerous and complicated as the days go by.

Kenya played a critical role in the birth of the TNG, but did little (as did the international community) to help the government entrench or legitimate itself in Somalia. Thus, the ICU was able to fill the power vacuum and now controls sizeable chunks of the country. Kenya has played no discernable part in the conflict, apart from calling for peace talks, which have thus far yielded little. Kenya – obviously – has a significant stake in what happens in Somalia, apart from the obvious refugee, and security problems, there is our prestige as peace brokers in the region. Moreover, the eventual make up of Somalia shall have immense repercussions for future relations in the volatile Horn.

If the Islamic Courts Union is able to defeat the TNG, consolidate power and unite Somalia under its fundamentalist ideology, Kenya shall have some major issues to deal with. The ICU is believed to have elements that are partial to Al Qaeda and who may have provided material and other support to those who planned and executed the bombings in 1998 and 2002. Moreover, there have been threats of terrorist retribution coming from the ICU, directed toward Nairobi. Would Kenya be willing to co-exist with Islamo-fascists nation hell bent on unleashing terror against it? Would having an Islamic caliphate as a neighbor complicate our delicate religious make up? The ICU also believes in the concept of a “Greater Somalia”. Would Kenya tolerate having a neighbor hell bent on taking over its territory? There is also the minor issue of trade, especially in Miraa, what would happen to those who rely on trade in this commodity?

The outcome of the current conflict in Somalia shall have far reaching consequences in the region. Our leaders need to ensure that whatever happens shall not put our political/economic/security interests at risk.

Math I can understand

Monday, November 20, 2006

Dump Cheney????

As part of the continued post-election discussions, there have been a number of calls for Bush to replace VP Cheney in the run up to the 2008 elections. This would give the republicans a prime figure to coalesce around in the run up to the election, and give the appointee a head start in the general election. Names bandied about include, Condoleezza Rice, John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, and Bill Frist.

If the president were to ask Cheney to resign (on health grounds most argue) he would be setting himself up for a battle with the Democrat controlled congress, he may be able to rally the base, but he’s unlikely to be able to pick a candidate who will sail through nomination hearings.

The candidate – if confirmed – is likely to be the presumptive republican nominee (though this is not assured, especially with only 1 year left and a field of eager presidential wannabes), primed to fight it out with the presumptive Democratic candidate Sen. Clinton. However, the election of said candidate shall not be assured. Consider that since the 1830’s only two sitting VP’s (Martin Van Buren, George Bush) have been elected to the Oval Office on their own merit: “Van Buren’s Curse” as some call it. And they both followed very popular and charismatic presidents (Reagan and Jackson). Gore, Humphrey, and Nixon are examples of the cursed. Having an incumbent VP won’t guarantee a win.

Moreover, this hypothetical nominee would be saddled by the Bush administrations policies, especially Iraq, and considering the “Run against Bush” campaign that was 2006, one wonders if any serious candidate would consider the position as Bush’s VP. This may be too much of a load to bear and may doom any candidate.

It’s is said that presidents in the second term consider their legacy to be an important preoccupation, and Bush may be tempted to appoint a VP (Condi Rice) that would assure his place in the history books. But he already has a legacy, IRAQ. He should be focused on dealing with Iraq, not on empty legacy hunts.

Giuliani in 08

Former NY mayor Rudy Giuliani recently filed papers to form an exploratory committee to "test waters" for a potential run for president. He is the third politician to file papers since the recent election and is considered as a leading contender. Polls show him neck and neck with McCain for the Republican nomination and winning in a head to head matchup against Clinton.

Giuliani is a very popular individual, who graced many political rallies and fundraiser over the past election cycle, introducing himself to republican voters and forming a network of contacts that could be used in a presidential run. His popularity comes - it would seem - from his exceptional performance in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. Where he earned his "America's Mayor" moniker. He is also considered to be an effective administrator and crime fighter (years of experience cleaning up New York).

However, one wonders if he is the ideal candidate that many consider him to be and whether he is likely to make it through the Republican primaries. Mr. Giuliani is a strong proponent of fiscal conservatism and this works well with one segment of the republican base, but he is also, pro-choice (pro-abortion to the base), pro gun control (anti second amendment), favors civil unions (part of gay agenda), and has had a very checkered personal life (including adultery and public divorce). Overcoming these issues in the primary shall be very difficult and the republican base is unlikely to vote for him, once they get to know him further.

Moreover, Mr. Giuliani is an unknown quantity in foreign/ Security policy. He does have some cache on the issues that flows from his post 9/11 performance, and he has been a strong proponent of the "War on Terror", but he is not that well known on other pertinent issues: China, North Korea, Trade etc.... He shall have an opportunity to define himself, but if he faces policy heavy weights like Newt Gingrich or McCain, he is going to have a whale of a time convincing the republican base of his credentials.

Giuliani has a great media persona, but once the rough and tumble of electoral campaigning begins he is unlikely to survive. His social views are likely to play a big role, and may overshadow his "media rockstar" persona and expose his scant foreign policy experience.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Obama 2008

Over the past few weeks there has been a great deal of chatter about the need for Senator Obama to consider a run for the presidency. He has said that he shall decide whether or not to run in the next couple of weeks and political pundits are eagerly awaiting that announcement. There seems to be a lot of support for an Obama run, with most advocates pointing to his popularity, youth and general air of positive leadership.

I find myself not convinced of the efficacy of an Obama 2008 campaign. If he decides to enter the race he shall receive a lot of media attention and shall be considered – initially – a front runner. However, as some have noted, the honeymoon is likely to be short. Remember Howard Dean was the media darling in 2004. Mr. Obama has yet to be given a through vetting, or face a substantial opponent; this is unlikely to happen in the primary season. Especially if Clinton seeks her opposition research on him. I am not sure how well Obama would do in rough and tumble politics, when the microscope is on him and what he has done.

It has been noted that Sen. Obama does not have much experience, especially in national issues and foreign policy. Those who would argue that Clinton and Bush didn’t have much experience should remember this is a post 9/11, post Iraq world. He is likely to face some heavy weights – in the primary or general – if he decides to run.

Obama is likely to be a very attractive VP choice, and he should do all he can to ensure an X-Obama ticket. There are a number of positives to a VP run; he would get the requisite campaign experience and some of the critical media scrutiny. If the ticket were to fail, he would be the front runner in 2012, and unlike John Edwards, would still have a job and the visibility that comes with it. Moreover, it would be an extra four years to sharpen his policy credentials, and prime the country for a run, just like Ms. Clinton has done since 2004. He could also consider running for a different office to gain executive experience, 2010 is an open gubernatorial election in Illinois.

If an X-Obama ticket wins, then he has four to eight years to prepare the nation for his candidacy and be the front runner in 2016. Plus, he gets added policy and political experience and enhances his stature.

A VP run would seem to be the ideal way forward.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Republicans: The Sky ain't falling

The backbiting and arguing that is going on within the conservative/ Republicancircles is rather dssappointing. This is just one election, a shock to the system is always welcome, this is an opportunity to recover, recollect, retool and prepare for 2008. The election was an indictment of a number of issues and not one of the party's inherent ideology, Conservatism is still the dominant ideology (and considering the number of of conservative dems picked, its only going to grow).The dust shall settle, and the issues of corruption and Iraq shall replaced by other issues, and the Republicans shall rise once again.`The focus should be on ensuring a republican majority in 2008. This is a set back, but not a major one. Conservatism is still the major ideology in the nation and much the same way the 2004 election did not signal a permanent realignment, the 2006 election does not mean the sky has fallen.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Clinton - Obama

Now that the 2006 elections are out of the way, speculation has already begun on the 2008 elections. Many a candidate is likely to run, but the most titillating are Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. So much so that Clinton-Obama t-shirts are already up for sale. On paper this looks like a dynamite ticket, but when political considerations are taken into account it does not look so. Apart from the: “Woman as Commander in Chief” and “Minority in White House” complications, there is the cold calculus that goes into selecting a VP. And these do not favor Obama (if Hilary wins nomination).
Consider these factors taken into account in VP selection: Geographical, Ideological, Experience, and Party Unity.

Geographical balancing is typically considered a very important issue. When Kennedy picked Johnson, it was to balance his Northeastern lineage with a Southerner, the same goes for Kerry/Edwards. Clinton and Obama are both from Illinois, (though Clinton represents New York) and represent Northern States, both that are solidly Democratic. Considering the “50 State” strategy that Governor Dean is said to be advocating, having two candidates from the same geographic/non-competitive area may not make much sense.

From an Ideological perspective, both candidates are reliably liberal. Ms. Clinton shall be trying to paint herself as a moderate, and having another Liberal on the ticket may not be wise. Moreover, the 2006 election has shown that moderate to conservative Democrats can win in the South/Red/Purple states (Casey, Webb, Tester, Mccaskill etc..) In addition, to reconcile the warring factions within the party (and avoid a Zell Miller type situation), Clinton could consider taking a moderate to conservative as her running mate.

From an experience point of view, one wonders if it would be wise (considering the “Woman as Commander in Chief” problem) if picking a political neophyte as a running mate is the way to go. Having someone with considerable foreign policy/security policy credentials (ala Cheney), may blunt this criticism. As would having a running mate with some executive branch experience (Governor) or significant Legislative experience.

Conventional wisdom would thus dictate that Ms. Clinton pick a moderate, with foreign policy, and wide political experience, from a Red/Purple state. EVAN BAYH anyone???

Wednesday, November 08, 2006



CNN had a series in the last weeks of the campaign season that focused on “Broken Government” one of the issues covered in the series was the “Do Nothing Congress” a program that focused on the extreme partisanship and low productivity that has hampered Washington in recent memory. It has been argued again and again that Americans have disliked the toxicity that has permeated Washington and are primed for change.

It is also said that Americans love divided government, where one party controls a branch of government (Executive and Legislative). It seems that this election is likely to produce a divided government, where Democrats take control of the Congress (at least one chamber) and Republicans control the Executive.

It is difficult to see how this divided government will increase congressional productivity (considering the narrow margins and divided government) or how this is likely to reduce the partisanship. Partisan temperatures are likely to increase over the coming two years as Democrats and Republicans pursue differing agendas, and the 2008 election draw near. The next congress is likely to be more partisan, more toxic, more gridlocked and less productive than this.



As the election season sadly draws to an end, a number of critical issues are going to be decided today and a number of interesting situations are going to play out. One of the most interesting post-election issues is the role Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I) shall play in the senate.

It is a forgone conclusion that Mr. Lieberman shall win today’s election and shall have an (I) for independent next to his name. Depending on how the Senate math works out, Lieberman is likely to be in a very powerful position.

Right now the senate is 55 (R), 44 (D), 1 (I). Jim Jeffords of Vermont being the Independent. If Democrats win 5 of the seats they need (and Lieberman wins), then it shall be 50 (R), 48 (D), 2 (I). Bernie Sanders VT (I) who is going to caucus with Democrats, so in essence it shall be 50 (R), 49 (D), 1 (I). If Democrats win 6 seats: 49 (R), 50 (D), 1 (I)

It is not known where the chips shall fall, but if the pundits are correct and Democrats win 5-6 seats, then Lieberman shall be in a very interesting situation. Much like Jeffords was when he switched from (R) to (I), he could be the powerbroker in the senate, wooed by both sides to caucus with them and guarantee a majority or parity. He shall be in a pretty powerful position to extract concessions from both sides and ensure his power.

What he shall do is yet to be known, he has said he would caucus with the Democrats, (though some Democrats have disappointed him, and campaigned against him). But he has also said that this campaign has convinced him that he needs to be more independent. And he has received a lot of help from Republicans (Bloomberg campaigned for him)

Lieberman must be licking his chops, he can stick it to the Democrats, and be in a much more powerful position than he was and could have imagined.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Borat and Clinton

What a wonderful day. Today i got to see a former U.S. president speak on Campus and watched what was one of the funniest movies I ever did see.

This afternoon was great, finished work early, and then strolled to the main campus lawn (above the Library), people as far as the eye could see. Hadn't seen soo many folks gathered in one area for a political rally @ ASU (Apathetic State University), even Gov. Dean, couldn't match the attendance. It was an interesting event, the most interesting part being Clinton's face. Seriously the AZ sun can do wonders to a very white face, a dude looked like a rippended tomato. But it was still nice to see the fellow.

Left the event and went to watch (special advanced screening) Borat. I had earlier said I would watch the movie, then it got some good press and I became suspicious (ever noticed that critically acclaimed movies are rarely good). The critics were right. This movie is hillarious, I haven't laughed soo hard (pardon the cliche) in my life.

Now if you like sophisticated comedy, don't watch the movie........F**** that, watch the movie. Its hilarious, hilarious I tell you. I am still having backlashes of the movie (though some parts were painful to watch, like the time when he had a load of... or when he and Azamat wrestled.... or........aaaahhh, Im messing it for you. Go watch the movie)

And now I am about to watch Borat on the Daily show. What a day.