Thursday, January 31, 2008

I was halfway joking about going with a Third Party candidate come the general election, so I decided to take a look at some of my options.

As of December 2007 the California Secretary of State lists the following political parties as ‘qualified’ for places on the ballot: American Independent; Democratic; Green; Libertarian; Peace & Freedom; Republican. There are a few ‘non-qualified’ parties trying to get enough signatures to earn a spot but I am not going to concern myself with those until later this year if I am still looking.

I’m sure I don’t have to talk about the Dems and GOP; those folks get plenty of airtime and space in the print media. I also think that folks reading this are familiar enough with the Libertarian Party positions on government non-interference and personal liberty. You do have folks both on the Left & Right who call themselves ‘libertarian’ but they seem to agree on certain fundamental issues. I’ll be honest and admit that I’ve voted Libertarian before, back in New York, where it was more a protest vote against an incumbent when there wasn’t an alternative. I think I have too much of that one time ‘socialist’ remaining in me to totally accept the Libertarian Party idea of little or no government in certain areas of society.

A lot of us were probably hoping that the Green Party would have made more of an impact on the national scene than it has. I think part of this has to with Ralph Nader, which I actually feel badly about saying. I have a lot of respect for Nader and always have, but I think that he has become more of a block to Green goals politically than he has helped them. Frankly, when you mention the Green Party folks immediately think of Nader and not always in a positive way. If you go to the Green website you’ll find that Ralph is once again named as a possible candidate for the Presidential spot. If someone else besides him gets their endorsement, I might very well vote for the Green candidate this November.

The Peace & Freedom Party seems less a party then an assortment of groups on the far left of the progressive movement. You’ll find Nader being considered there and at least one other person also seeking the Green Party spot. I probably have more in common philosophically with these folks and the Greens, than I do with the Democratic Party as it is now situated. It seems that I’m not one of the folks the DLC really wants hanging around anymore. At this rate, I’ll soon be sharing attic space with the Rockefeller-wing of the GOP.

If you want to see where the American Terribly Silly Party is located, you might want to check out the American Independent Party website. I’m sure that there are slander laws even for bloggers, so I’m going to refrain from making any comments about the folks seeking the Presidential spot. “Mad” Max Reiske is one of those, and he dubbed himself that so don’t look at me that way!

So okay, maybe this whole Third Party thing isn’t going to work out after all.

The population of Westover, West Virginia has disappeared from the face of the Earth as of a few days ago. Westover is located in Monongalia County and was incorporated in 1911. We regret the loss of the 3,941 fine folks of this small, community and offer our condolences to their families.

Well, that might not exactly be true, but the equivalent of the town has lost their lives in a war we seldom seem to hear about anymore.

As of Jan. 28, 2008 the Department of Defense holds the number of U.S. casualties at 3,941 in Iraq. It's still going on, folks!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Man, we are down to only two choices apparently and neither was among my Top Three picks. To be honest, John Edwards was barely my fourth choice among the original candidates. With him dropping out I can either skip the whole thing next week or vote for Obama. Actually, if Mike Gravel is still on the ballot in California I may just vote for him to show that I’m not happy with the non-choice.

I have some disagreements with Peter David’s scenario, but overall I think he may be correct. McCain can bring in enough moderates, independents and even some conservative Democrats to make him a strong candidate during a general election. Obama, on the other hand, may bring in some independents and a few liberal Republicans (if there are any to be had), but his votes will have to come from the base of the party.

I’m one of those folks convinced that Hillary Clinton brings way too much baggage that can’t be overcome. There are folks who hate both Clintons and there are some who don’t mind Bill but would never vote for Hillary no matter what the other choice may be. Those folks might be able to live with a President McCain and vote for Democrats on the rest of the ballot. Their hope being a Dem majority in Congress could keep John from pushing the more Rightist positions on the GOP agenda.

It seems that I’m constantly repeating myself here, but will say again that should Senator Clinton be the Democratic nominee, I will be seriously looking for a Third Party candidate that I can support. I don’t think I’ll be the only one, either.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

I mentioned it last week, but figured I would again.

Happy Blogger-versary, to me!! Have I really been wasting time and bandwidth for five years?

Thanks to Donna for letting me continue, all you folks who read and sometimes reply to what I have written. To my ex, Elayne for urging me to give it a try.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Donna and I aren't going to let the Kennedy endorsement change our votes next week, but it was certainly interesting.

I don't pretend to know about the relationship between the Kennedys and the Clintons, but I've never gotten the feeling that it was any more than cordial. I don't think it's even going to be that friendly after today's announced endorsement of Barack Obama by the Senator and Caroline Kennedy.

I expect to be hearing and reading lots more about it later today, so I'll just have a few uninformed comments to throw in for the time being.

It seems to me that what we have here is a public division between two factions within the Democratic Party. The Clintons represent the more centrist views of the Democratic Leadership Council, for which Bill Clinton is the poster boy. Since the mid-1980s, when it was formed, the DLC has pushed the Democratic Party away from 'progressive' agendas and more towards a corporation-friendly, cut social programs route. The Kennedys and their allies are still of the older faction which did not perceive 'liberal' as a bad thing. The rise of Obama and other more progressive types in the party threaten the balance in the Democratic National Committee and I think we'll be seeing more in-fighting over the next few months leading up to the convention.

Of course, I could be way off base on all this and expect those of you more knowing in the ways of the world to set me straight.

Am I totally wrong here, Joe?

Saturday, January 26, 2008

A Navy vet pal sent this editorial cartoon along. While we don't always agree politically I thought this was funny.
If you don't always check out Shot's Shack, I wanted to point out that I have become obsessed with the new movie, CLOVERFIELD. I have posted some links to related websites & reviews and will be posting my own review (having seen the film yesterday) later today.
Just to let folks know, Donna and I are way south of all that snow so don't be concerned. We are however pretty drenched and I really do not like driving to and from work in the rain almost every day.
On the other hand, the arroyo is absolutely blooming with new growth after months of recovering from the fires last summer. It's nice to stand out on the balcony and watch life (along with bunnies & birds) return to the area.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

I can not begin to tell you how sorry I was to read that Dennis Kucinich is ending his bid for the Democratic nomination.

While it has been apparent almost from the beginning that he had little or no chance of succeeding, at least he was in there bringing up subjects some of the others would not. I found myself in agreement with him on almost every single issue, and once Chris Dodd dropped from the race I felt that Kuchinich would be my choice in the upcoming primary.

I have to be honest in saying that I'm not thrilled, but will probably be voting for John Edwards on that Tuesday. He is by no means the ideal candidate, but that person probably doesn't exist.
The Horse's Mouth blog yesterday ran an item saying that a majority of Americans feel that one of the people currently running in the two major parties would be acceptable. According to those same polls it is felt that there really is no need for a Third Party in this country. We're all happy just the way things are.
Guess those thousands of folks voting Green, Independent, Constitution, Freedom, Libertarian, etc. should just fold up their card tables, put away those petitions to get candidates on the ballot and shut up. Two political parties were just fine for George Washington so they should be...what? Oh..that's right.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

I may forget next week, since Elayne tends to keep better track of these things, but on the 29th I'll actually be celebrating five years of this blog. Man, how many wasted man-hours can my current and previous employers deduct?

When I started this it was at Elayne's urging, which may seem odd to some folks considering how many have major problems with their ex-whatever. Although we never see each other we have moved past a lot of stuff and I can still consider a friend. Maybe Donna's close relationship with her ex Michael has made this all easier for me. Who knows?

Anyway, I hope all of you I consider my friends will continue to check in here when you can. Heck, even if you consider me the enemy you're welcome to take a peek.
And you KNOW who you are!
The Center for Public Integrity went back over statements made by the Bush Administration leading up to our invasion of Iraq. Not exactly looking for a needle in a haystack, but it is amazing to see how many lies and fudges of the truth the Bushites made.

I know that the Mainstream Media seems to have forgotten that there is a war going on. I mean, an actor died and the market lost some points which are more important than the deaths of 3,929 or 3,931 (as of yesterday and which DOD figures you look at) American service people. Still, I found the article interesting and felt I should pass it along.

Thanks to TPM for bringing it to my attention.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Gorilla Librarian

I ws tempted to try this at one point.

Are we still keeping track of all this? Do we really have to vote for any of them?

Among the Repugnacons McCain has won two states, The Mittster two, and Huckabee one. Or have I miscounted some caucus or something? Didn't Satan's candidate win some tiny primary somewhere else? Does that give him three?

On the Demoralcratic side we have some nonsense about delegate count versus vote count or something. Who knew there was some kind of Electoral College numbers thing going on before the actual election? The two big whiners continue to debate about which one is more "changier" than the other, or who MLK would like best if he was around.

Yes, I will be voting for Dennis Kucinich in the February primary out here. I have to admit that Mike Gravel does have a few good points, but even I think voting for him wouldn't really amount to much. My hope is that between all the various primaries that Dennis gets enough delegates to make a difference. I've been hearing that about Edwards at this point from several on-air radio hosts. It's possible that between the two of them they can drag the platform away from the center (Vote Clinton '08) and into a more progressive agenda (Vote Anybody But Hillary 'o8).

I'm still considering doing that Third Party thing come next November, but you've heard me say that before. Lets see how this all turns out in the meantime.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Mark Evanier put this link up and said we would pass it along. He's right!

I have no clue what this place sells and it is a bit loud. Still it is fun!

If Romney had NOT won in Michigan, where his father was governor and he had other ties that would have been a big story. Since he did win this does nothing but make the GOP race more interesting to media types and political junkies. Face it, while all this stuff fills the airwaves and gets lots of ink, most Americans really do not pay a lot of attention to politics until later in the year. Hell, we haven’t even had the Super Bowl yet!!

Just as an aside, I have been trying to figure out what it was about Mitt that gave me the creeps and last night watching him glory in the win, I figured it out. Mitt Romney is Gregory Ammas Stillson! Google that one if you don’t know.

Monday, January 14, 2008

The other day I posted a link to a USA TODAY poll that supposedly matches you with the Presidential candidate that best matches your views. If you scroll down the page you'll find it and as of today it was still active.

Today I'm adding another similar poll developed by Minnesota Public Radio that Mark Evanier posted over on his site.
According to this one I'm further from John Edwards than I was in the previous poll, although both Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel are still nearest to me. The thing I found surprising was that Bill Richardson came so close. I think it has more to do with the fact that the questions here are a bit different than those in the USA TODAY poll. They are actually more specific and less general in nature.

We are just beginning to get political ads here in SoCal, but so far I have not seen a single one for a candidate. Out here the big issue is a bill that the Governor has signed which would cut a deal with some of the casino-owning tribes. The tribes would be able to expand their casinos and the state would get increased revenues from the additional slot machines. With the way things work out here the voters have to approve the deal before it can go into effect. As you can imagine lots of money is being spent on both sides of the issue. While the tribes are paying for the "Vote Yes" ads (one actually features Da Arnold talking to the camera urging a Yes vote), the "Vote No" group is getting much of its funds from two California race track owners and one of the Vegas casino groups. While I lean towards favoring the thing myself, I plan on reading up on both sides of the issue before next month's primary.

I'll keep you updated on all this political stuff as it comes to my attention. Even if you aren't fascinated, I am!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Well, one of us at Chez Chaput was pretty happy with the results from New Hampshire last night. Donna really likes Hillary.

Personally, I'm not losing sleep over it as neither of the two front runners are even my third choice at this point. Seems I'm out of step with the majority of my fellow Dems, as my post yesterday pointed out. Speaking of which, ex-wife Elayne was wondering if Mike Gravel was still running. According to his website he still was as of yesterday. In fact, he had even asked for an on-air retraction from Keith Olbermann, who had said Gravel had dropped out along with Dodd & Biden.

The two people most effected by yesterday were probably John Edwards and Mitt Romney. Neither of them have a win under their belts (not counting a few delegates the Mittster got in Wyoming) so it's an uphill battle at this point. I still prefer Edwards more than Obama and Clinton, but again I'm out of step with the majority voters so far. To be honest, the only two Democratic candidates I've liked from early in their campaigns were George McGovern and Jimmy Carter. History will have to be my judge on both of those, probably after it judges Bush II.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

I moved some of the links around over on The Left and eliminated a couple. There are also a few more that I plan to add sooner rather than later, since they are political in nature and this is the year for that sort of thing.

Speaking of politics, if you get a chance you might want to take a swing over to USA TODAY and try the "Candidate Match Game" they have up. You are asked eleven questions on various issues (Iraq, health care, etc.) and the results will supposedly find the candidate closest to how you feel. It was a nice surprise, if rather sad, to find that one of the three was Senator Chris Dodd, who I had been supporting, but who has since dropped out of the race.

The two remaining are Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel. I have always liked Kucinich, but never really have thought of him having any chance. As for Gravel (former Democratic Senator from Alaska) I honestly forget he's running, since the guy gets no mention at all. Checking out his website & blog I found that I'd have no problem voting for the guy! Hell, Noam Chomsky even has some nice things to say about him.
As things stand now it will be either Kucinich or Gravel who get my vote in the February primary out here.

Monday, January 07, 2008

This is reprinted from the CBS News site:

In what U.S. officials called a serious provocation, Iranian boats harassed and provoked three U.S. Navy ships in the strategic Strait of Hormuz, threatening to explode the American vessels.

U.S. forces were on the verge of firing on the Iranian boats in the early Sunday incident, when the boats - believed to be from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard's navy - turned and moved away, a Pentagon official said. "It is the most serious provocation of this sort that we've seen yet," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the record. Defense Department spokesman Bryan Whitman called it a "serious incident. This is something that deserves an explanation."

I don't know the entire situation, but I also don't doubt this may have happened. It seems to me a stupid provocation by the IRG, but who knows what was going on in their heads at the time. On the other hand, if it was the U.S. doing something and getting caught than the situation is equally stupid.

I can only speak for myself, when I imagine what was going on in the minds of the sailors aboard these three Navy ships.

In a situation very close to this, back in the mid-1980s, the ship on which I was serving was approached in the dead of night by at least two small, fast moving craft. This was off the coast of Lebanon, where the U.S.S. Butte was part of a small, task force. At between 1:00-2:00am our radar picked up the small craft, running without lights and failing to respond to either radio or other signals. General Quarters was sounded and it didn't take long for all of us to be made aware of the situation. When the craft got to within several hundred yards of the ship they were shot at and destroyed by our gun mounts. The next morning, after sunrise, aircraft found debris from what appeared to be one or two boats and several oil slicks. Speculation was that it was a suicide bombing mission by one terrorist organization or another.

You do not want to threaten American warships if you know what's good for you.

I really don't have anything else to add or say on the situation, unless or until something more is known.
Well, the rain here wasn’t quite as bad as last time, but it was still enough to make driving a mess. On a positive note the ten plus acres of the arroyo that burned last year is beginning to grow back. Lots of grass and small bushes are beginning to bloom.

Donna and I stayed cocooned most of Saturday, but I did run out to get a haircut, go to the bank and hit Burger King for a late breakfast for the two of us. Dinner came to us from Pick Up Stix, a decent Chinese take-out franchise that delivers. Their stuff is pretty decent and made fresh, unlike Panda Express, their big competitor here, where everything sits in buffet style trays for hours. The one thing you learn pretty quickly out here in SoCal is that most places DO NOT deliver, unlike back in New York. We all drive, don’t you know?

We hit a marathon Bingo session at the Mission Viejo Elks Lodge on Sunday. The forty dollar buy-in gets you the morning & afternoon sessions, plus tickets for the door prize and the Bonus Bingo played later in the day. They have coffee, tea or hot cocoa, juice, muffins, Danishes in the morning, then after lunch (sandwiches, chips & cookies) they add popcorn to the menu of free stuff available for snacking. All this is part of your buy-in, but they also have soda for sale and even a cash bar if you like. This is the second time we’ve done this and already have the April marathon circled on our calendar. Sadly, the Bingo gods weren’t as giving this time out for either of us.

I’ll probably post a bit later on political stuff and my reaction to the Iranian/U.S. Navy incident.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Just wanted to share a few of the photos from the Tournament of Roses Parade. I'll try to post a few more when I have a chance.

Friday, January 04, 2008

I’m sure we all stayed up late last night waiting for the results from Iowa, huh?
Perhaps not, since I heard the Air America coverage while driving home at 6:00pm. Still it was interesting listening and later watching folks spin, explain and interpret the results for us poor unwashed.

There is certainly nothing I can say that smarter folks haven’t already. Still I wanted to share some of the results of the latest Pew Research Center surveys. This was sent to in the Pew newsletter which I receive and was compiled from interviews conducted in December of last year. It will be really interesting to see the next round of surveys which should reflect yesterday’s wins in Iowa.

The latest nationwide survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press finds about equal levels of support for John McCain (22%), Rudy Giuliani (20%), and Mike Huckabee (17%).

The Democratic contest has remained largely stable nationwide. Despite state polls that show very close races in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, Hillary Clinton maintains a 20-point lead over Barack Obama among registered Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters nationwide (46% to 26%), with John Edwards holding at 14%.

Religion has become a larger factor in GOP voter preference, as Huckabee has become better known. He currently holds a slim edge among white evangelical Protestants (with 28%, compared with 21% for McCain, 16% for Thompson and 12% for Giuliani). McCain and Giuliani are virtually tied for the lead among white mainline Protestants, while Giuliani continues to lead among white Catholics.

On a non-political note. Has Britney become the ‘new’ Anna Nicole?

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Haven’t had much time to blog or read other folks the past couple of days. I’m hoping to have some time this week to update both here and Shot’s Shack with something or other. I also want to catch up on what others have been up to and to check out the political/news blogs.

Donna and I loved the Rose Parade yesterday. Of course, we both grew up watching it on television, but it is amazing to actually sit there in Pasadena and see these huge floats moving by you. I don’t care how good your HDTV is you cannot imagine how absolutely beautiful and detailed these floats are until you are within feet of them. We probably won’t go next year, but you never know. Right now we are thinking about doing something else next New Year’s Eve & Day, depending on a number of things taking place. The idea is to get a hotel room next time we do the parade so that we can spend the next day actually viewing the floats close up.

I definitely recommend going if there is any way you can get out here. I’ve seen the Macy’s Parade several times in person and even went the night before once to watch them inflated. I’ll still put the Rose Parade over that in terms of enjoyment and the feel of the place is totally different, if you know what I mean. Kristina and her friend Christine joined us at the parade and we all loved it, even though The Child seems to have indulged a bit too much the previous evening.

The picture of the City of Anaheim float is from the OC Registger. I plan to post some personal photos I took as soon as I get a chance, probably in a couple of days.

Even with various family activities and things you can’t totally escape the political news. I’ve noticed some news shows are now running segments saying that the Iowa Caucuses really DO NOT represent the American public. “Hey, we have built this up to be THE story for the past six months, but it really isn’t as important or relevant as we’ve made it out to be.”

Let’s be honest and mention that the citizens of neither Iowa nor New Hampshire, for that matter, represent much more than a tiny percent of the U.S. voting population. Statistically NH is a better sampling than those politically active folks in Iowa. The mainstream media and political types are the ones who have made these two events into such an important symbol of viability. Now with so many other states jumping on the ‘early primary’ bandwagon those candidates ending up in first or even second place are going to have a huge advantage. In some ways it almost makes you sentimental for the days when the conventions would be held and it was still uncertain who the nominee would be. Unless something significant happens we’ll probably know by April who has been chosen as the Presidential nominees. By June we’ll all have to look for Third Party alternatives!