Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Choose Stigma. Rebel.

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In politics it is often, if not always, a necessity to build alliances in order to achieve political goals, specifically regarding passing/repealing legislation. Without the votes nothing will happen.

One of the things I find odd is how in today's political landscape the idea of achieving a philosophic or principled goal seems to be entirely ignored for the sake of filing in behind your chosen party. Primarily composed of Republicans and Democrats. Perhaps most find it a no-brainer, "Duh, they want to get reelected. You have to play the game to keep your job," some may say. I agree that's essentially what it amounts to, but what frustrates me is that our country allows it to continue.

Assigning blame is a difficult task, as Jack "The Southern Avenger" Hunter pointed out in a video log (YouTube link), we Americans have it pretty darn good. Perhaps so good that it became easy to let loose the reins of the people who wield the power of governance except on occasional superficial levels. It's kind of like being upset with a guy who gets married and puts on a healthy "spare tire". Sometimes it's just what happens when life gets good, you take things for granted.

That does not stop me from hoping for more from our society, such as the idea that you should hold your governing body accountable. It always seems that the politicos are more intent on tearing apart the politicians they didn't vote for rather than holding the feet of the one's they did vote for to the fire. This is completely backwards. I think that people would rather justify their decisions in the past rather than say that the guy they voted for didn't live up to his promises.

I have no problem admitting I voted for George W Bush in 2000, and if I had been registered in 2004 would have certainly did it again at that time. I also have no problem looking in hindsight and saying that he was an awful President and that I did not have a fully developed political philosophy. I voted for Barack Obama in 2008 -- though to be clear, I voted for Ron Paul in the Texas primary -- and have no qualms about picking apart his policies that contradict what he campaigned on.

Why wouldn't anyone seek complete truth and honesty, whether it means saying you were duped or that your politician is simply fallible? It's life and it happens. What's not excusable is to pretend that the issues held so dear when your enemy violated them are suddenly forgivable, if not encouraged, when your own political savior violates those same issues.

In such times I hope we look beyond partisan lines and begin to build coalitions with people on issues we can agree on rather than look at something so trivial and deceptive as a club you've joined and say that sticking by your team is more important than sticking by your principles. Because then it isn't politicians who have failed you, but rather your lack of courage.

Perhaps it is time to vote for what you want, rather than vote against what you do not. Otherwise, your options render the same choice: The lesser of two evils, is still evil.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The "Dangers" of a Ron Paul Iowa Victory

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Today Politico is running an article (link) about Ron Paul winning Iowa, and how such a situation basically negates Iowa's relevance. Quote:

"Paul poses an existential threat to the state’s cherished kick-off status, say these Republicans, because he has little chance to win the GOP nomination and would offer the best evidence yet that the caucuses reward candidates who are unrepresentative of the broader party."

It strikes with a level of irony that if you don't vote for the candidate that everyone wants you to vote for then your voice is null. Eh, what? Isn't the whole point of our representative democracy to say -- with your vote -- the kind of policies you want instituted best represented by an individual with those philosophies? Yet, when an overwhelming amount of people choose that individual, so many that that person wins the majority of a state's voters, that somehow they don't represent an important voice?

This is wrong. To be told "If you don't vote the way we want you to then you no longer matter," is to say that you already don't matter even though you represent a change in the wind of politics. This was evident when Barack Obama won Iowa, and went on to win his party's nomination and the election, and it's evident now that the tide is turning for Ron Paul.

Iowa is special in that it allows people to meet the candidates personally, a small population can help a small candidate become the next candidate. It gives a voice to someone without the funds to win larger states like Florida or California. The whole point of our electoral college system is to give a voice to smaller states with a smaller share of the population, lest they lose the attention of our Federal officials, and giving Iowa a prominent position in the Republican Primaries follows in this same thought-process.

Iowa matters, and if Ron Paul carries their delegates on January 3rd, you can expect those in danger of losing their high place of importance to suddenly shout every foul thing they can think of to deride the guy who wants to strip power from the powerful, because they know he's more than just rhetoric. He has a track record that shows he has the conviction to carry out his promises. Unlike Presidents past.

Iowa matters, and the real danger is that people with influence just may lose their power. Power that would be handed back to the people, where it never should have left. Iowa matters, it's the voice of the people exposed to the message of Liberty.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Fox News Debate Stats Sioux City 12/15/2011

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A lot going on in Iowa these days as the state prepares for the first in the nation caucuses for the Republican primaries. Fox News hosts Bret Baier, Megyn Kelly, Neil Cavuto and David Gregory each took turns quizzing the seven candidates on-stage on a list of topics ranging from Economic, Foreign Policy, Social Issues, the Judiciary, and even partisan politics. As a whole this was quite a contentious debate with a total of 14 responses between candidates, five of which were from Newt Gingrich, who not coincidentally had the most amount of total speaking time at 14:39 (mm:ss).

During Newt's Freddie Mac past, he stated, "Now, if you read the whole thing that they posted, I said that they need more regulations". Perhaps it is splitting hairs, but here is what he actually said in the article regarding regulations, "So while we need to improve the regulation of the GSEs, I would be very cautious about fundamentally changing their role or the model itself," (Freddie Mac article link). Clearly, Newt is in favor of the Fannie & Freddie model and was not advising any structural changes whatsoever.

Furthermore. Perhaps the more interesting thoughts from that Freddie Mac interview with Newt was, "I recognize that there are times when you need government to help spur private enterprise and economic development.", which is hardly the hallmark of a free market mindset. No, he reveals himself to be the Keynesian tinkerer that currently fills out our government body.

In the article, he continues, "Look at our own history. The government provided railroad land grants to encourage widespread adoption of what was then the most modern form of transportation to help develop our country. The Homestead Act essentially gave land away to those willing to live on it and develop it." The historian that Newt claims to be then he should surely know that the Homestead Act was widely abused for fraud and corporate monopolization of resources such as water. As for the railroad land grants he references, the mechanisms the government used were wholly inefficient and were frequently rebuilt having been constructed with such poor quality in the sprint to scoop up the subsidies. In fairness, the land grants did make it easier to raise investments for other rail companies who did a better job in their construction. (Mises link)

Other than Michele Bachmann (10:25) and Speaker Gingrich trading claims, Bachmann also mixed it up with Ron Paul (11:43) over foreign policy with regards to Iran. Specifically, Congresswoman Bachmann said that the latest IAEA report "said literally, Iran is within just months of being able to obtain that weapon." Ron Paul refuted that she was totally wrong, that there is no evidence. Who's right? Well, when has Michele Bachmann ever got anything right.

The November 2011 report (link) states on page 10, in section "K", that they (IAEA) have "serious concerns regarding possible military dimensions to Iran's nuclear programme", but this based on what they *don't know*, as stated in the previous paragraph: "the Agency (IAEA) is unable to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran, and therefore to conclude that all material in Iran is in peaceful activities." They flat out state they just don't know. This is not "literally" saying that "Iran is within just months of being able to obtain that weapon", anything beyond 'we need more info' is pure conjecture, even though I do think it's reasonable to assume Iran would want a nuclear weapon since it is surrounded by them. (IAEA report link)

It's worth pointing out that even though Dr Paul did receive the third highest allotment of speaking time, after the foreign policy squabble he went the next 24:19 of candidate speaking time in silence, which was over seven minutes longer than the next longest wait (Santorum waited 16:57 at one point) where Congressman Paul was not allowed to weigh in on Energy, Immigration and Social Issues. Whereas in this same time frame every other candidate weighed in at least twice, and in the case of Mitt Romney & Newt Gingrich, five times.

Great job Fox News, but at least your moderator did not try to paint Ron Paul as "running left of President Obama". Yes, that's sarcasm, and yes, that's you Bret Baier. Either moderate or commentate, but please do not do both at the same time. Peace and caution should not be labeled as some kind of left-wing extremism, some call it "wisdom".

Here are the debate stats, check back soon for a rollup of all the debates to see who the big winner is (my bet's on Mitt):

Total Talk %
Gingrich 14:39 20.07%
Romney 12:58 17.78%
Ron Paul 11:43 16.06%
Bachmann 10:25 14.29%
Santorum 8:09 11.17%
Huntsman 7:59 10.96%
Perry 7:03 9.67%
Total 1:12:59 100.00%
*Note: This is uninterrupted talking time, except for audience cheer/applause in the middle of a response as this goes against their official response time.

Turns Talking %
Gingrich 19 22.35%
Romney 14 16.47%
Ron Paul 14 16.47%
Bachmann 13 15.29%
Perry 9 10.59%
Santorum 8 9.41%
Huntsman 8 9.41%
Total 85 100.00%

Avg b/w Talks Longest Wait
Huntsman 8:07 0:11:47
Perry 7:53 0:13:55
Santorum 7:42 0:16:57
Ron Paul 5:28 0:24:19
Romney 4:48 0:15:31
Bachmann 4:46 0:11:28
Gingrich 4:02 0:10:58

Qs Responses Follow-ups
Romney 10 2 2
Gingrich 10 5 4
Bachmann 9 4 0
Perry 8 0 1
Ron Paul 8 3 3
Santorum 8 0 0
Huntsman 8 0 0
Total 61 14 10
Note: Qs = Questions; Responses (candidates responding to each other); Followups (moderator following up from the previous question)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

ABC News Debate Statistics 12/10/11

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ABC News apparently could not hide their taste for bickering. Often times setting up the questions in order to generate some back 'n forth there was a solid 21 responses in total where candidates shot off to each other. While there seemed to be some even-handedness to the moderation, it was mostly an illusion due to having fewer overall candidates on the stage, with Herman Cain having dropped out of the race and Jon Huntsman not meeting ABC's qualifications for the Iowa debate.

Mitt Romney garnered the most time talking with 18:19 (mm:ss) and 16 turns talking, while Newt Gingrich spoke for 13:41 which was good enough for nearly 19% of the overall total speaking time allotted to the Republican Presidential candidates. Ron Paul, though running in a solid second place in the Iowa polls, received the fewest turns talking, 9, as well as the smallest amount of time at 8:40.

However, that did not stop him from having perhaps the largest impact with the time he did have. When confronted about the tough TV ads he has been running against Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul did not back down for a moment and instead restated and reinforced that Speaker Gingrich is indeed a serial hypocrite and reminded everyone of his ties to Freddie Mac and had received in the neighborhood of $1.6 Million for his "strategic advisement". A very strong move on Paul's part, and he may just be getting started.

Total Talk %
Romney 18:19 25.36%
Gingrich 13:41 18.95%
Bachmann 11:39 16.13%
Perry 10:19 14.29%
Santorum 9:35 13.27%
Ron Paul 8:40 12.00%
Total 1:12:13 100.00%
*Note: This is uninterrupted talking time, except for audience cheer/applause in the middle of a response as this goes against their official response time.

Turns Talking %
Gingrich 17 23.29%
Romney 16 21.92%
Perry 11 15.07%
Bachmann 10 13.70%
Santorum 10 13.70%
Ron Paul 9 12.33%
Total 73 100.00%

Avg b/w Talks Longest Wait
Santorum 7:13 18:03
Ron Paul 6:57 15:12
Bachmann 6:03 11:07
Perry 5:48 19:47
Gingrich 4:03 13:45
Romney 3:12 7:20

Qs Responses Follow-ups
Romney 9 7 0
Perry 8 2 1
Ron Paul 8 1 0
Gingrich 8 7 2
Santorum 8 1 1
Bachmann 7 3 0
Total 48 21 4
Note: Qs = Questions; Responses (candidates responding to each other); Followups (moderator following up from the previous question)

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Fox News GOP Debate Statistics (Mike Huckabee) 12/3/2011

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Mike Huckabee hosted the latest debate for the Republican Presidential Primary race, which included only six of the last eight Republicans that showed up on the previous debate. Herman Cain having dropped out of the race earlier today, and Jon Huntsman chose instead to campaign on the ground in North Carolina.

Admirably, the vast majority of the debate was spent discussing Federal power versus state's rights, however, most did not seem capable of grasping any consistent philosophy for how they demarcate where Federal power begins and State's rights begin. For instance, Michele Bachmann thinks it necessary to enact a nationwide tort reform law rather than respect the 10th Amendment, yet, hates President Obama's healthcare law for trampling state's rights.

Perhaps the greatest moment of flip-flopping and lying arrived in the first segment with Newt Gingrich, saying, without any hint of self-awareness, "If you ask me, 'Would I trust a jury or a Washington bureaucrat?', I would rather have my fate decided by a jury of my peers than have my fate decided by a Washington bureaucrat." This is the same Newt Gingrich who has no problems allowing the Obama administration's secret panel to label and kill an American citizen as a terrorist without any judicial oversight whatsoever. Amazing. Apparently, the "conservatism" of Newt is whatever he shall deem it to be upon his whim and audience.

On Executive Power, Rick Perry finds it perfectly acceptable for the President to use his power to nullify legislation passed by Congress, yet maintains that he is against the abuse of the Obama administration. Oh irony, know ye no boundaries?

As for speaking time this was an unqualified success. Each candidate getting nearly the same amount of speaking time, where someone like Michele Bachmann spoke for about a minute less due to shorter response times and allowing her a greater number of topics and turns talking. Likewise, Santorum and Ron Paul received the fewest turns talking which is attributed to their lengthier answers and overall having more total time talking.

Not surprising, in the immediate post debate follow up on Fox News the conversation was slanted towards certain candidates as indicated by the number of times their names were spoken. Newt Gingrich was mentioned by name 12 times and Mitt Romney's name was said nine times. According to polling this seems like an accurate reflection, until you consider that "Ron Paul" was only said twice in which he was ostracized by Mike Huckabee as someone Herman Cain's followers would not jump ship to, which is an amazing bit of omniscience on his part. Especially since he seemed to think it perfectly reasonable that these same supporters would consider *all* of the other candidates, including Mitt Romney, as viable options.

Here are the debate stats:

Total Talk %
Santorum 9:41 17.56%
Ron Paul 9:37 17.44%
Romney 9:30 17.23%
Perry 9:13 16.72%
Gingrich 8:37 15.63%
Bachmann 8:30 15.42%
Total 55:08 100.00%
*Note: This is uninterrupted talking time, except for audience cheer/applause in the middle of a response as this goes against their official response time.

Turns Talking %
Perry 16 20.25%
Bachmann 16 20.25%
Gingrich 13 16.46%
Romney 12 15.19%
Ron Paul 11 13.92%
Santorum 11 13.92%
Total 79 100.00%

Avg Response Time
Santorum :53
Ron Paul :52
Romney :48
Gingrich :40
Perry :35
Bachmann :32

Qs Follow-ups
Perry 11 5
Ron Paul 9 2
Gingrich 9 4
Romney 8 4
Bachmann 8 8
Santorum 8 3
Total 53 26

Post Debate Mentions
Gingrich 12
Romney 9
Perry 6
Bachmann 5
Santorum 4
Ron Paul 2
Note: This is the immediate post-debate discussion on Fox News, not all channels.

Bonus Video: Are there any differences between the establishment parties?