Saturday, August 25, 2007

Googlefighting with Ron Paul

Have you ever heard of the game Googlefight? If you are an adult you probably have not. I was introduced to it by my 14-year-old nephew, Joey. Go to Googlefight and put in any two key words and the number of hits on Google for each word are compared. It is a lot of fun, if you have nothing productive to do.

I just did a “Ron Paul” vs. “Hillary Clinton” fight and got 48.8 million hits for Ron Paul and only 8.4 million for Hillary Clinton. Do a “Ron Paul and Rudy Giuliani Googlefight and it is Ron 48,800,000 and Rudy 2,050,000. Compare Ron Paul to the Democrat fringe candidate Dennis Kucinich and it is still Ron 48.8 million to Dennis Kucinich’s 1.9 million.

I spend a lot time on the Internet. I read a large amount of mainstream news and opinion but also visit a fair number of blogs and advocacy websites. I am amazed at the amount of support on the Internet for Ron Paul. I have joined about a dozen yahoo groups with names like, Conservative Majority, Libertarian Republicans, Republicans of America Unite, and Republican Party. I sought groups where I thought I might find intelligent conversation of interest to a Republican. What I find is that fans of Ron Paul dominate most of these groups. You quickly bore of them. They are too fanatical. They remind you of pushy religious fanatics.

I guess it should not be surprising that positions that are less represented in the mainstream press are over represented on the Internet. The Internet is fertile ground for the fringe, the underrepresented, conspiracy theorist and the weird. If the evening TV news and daily newspaper is fairly representing your position or your cause, then you probably feel less need to promote your cause on the net.

Nevertheless, the amount of support on the net for Ron Paul is amazing. Numerous You tube videos, radio interviews, and newspaper article on Ron Paul are reproduced and people are constantly promoting his candidacy. Many of his supporters think there is a conspiracy to keep his position form being heard and many think the polls are under representing his popular support.

If intensity of support counted, Ron Paul would be the next President. If the election where held today, and only people who play on the Internet got to vote, I think Ron Paul would be the next President. In the most recent polls (Fox, Gallop, CNN, USA Today, etc.) Ron Paul only scores 1 to 3%. If people only interact with other people who agree with them, gravitate toward those Internet sites that they agree with, and do not remain skeptical they can get a very distorted view of reality. Your Internet experience may not be the real world.

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Friday, August 24, 2007

Will Obama's Stance on Cuba Hurt?

By Tim Padgett/Miami
(This is a good analysis and insight on Obama's bold Cuban policy initiative. Rod)
Conventional political wisdom in the bellwether state of Florida has always focused on Cuban-Americans, especially those influential exiles who take a hard line against any U.S. engagement with Fidel Castro's Cuba. Cross them, says the presidential candidate handbook, and say adios to the Sunshine State's 27 electoral votes.

So why would Barack Obama — who is scraping to keep up with Hillary Clinton for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination — ignore that seemingly golden rule? Why, in a Tuesday op-ed piece in the Miami Herald, would he challenge the Cuban-American elders and call for dismantling President Bush's hefty restrictions on Cuban-Americans making visits and sending money to relatives in Cuba?

Maybe it's because Obama knows a new conventional wisdom may well be taking shape in the state — one that could actually make his declarations this week an asset when Florida holds its primary election next January. (Continue reading: Will Obama's Stance..)

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Our main goal: Freedom in Cuba

Miami Herald, Tue. Aug 21, 2007

When my father was a young man living in Kenya, the freedom and opportunity of the United States exerted such a powerful draw that he moved halfway around the world to pursue his dreams here. My father's story is not unique. The same has been true for tens of millions of people, from every continent -- including for the many Cubans who have come and made their lives here since the start of Fidel Castro's dictatorship almost 50 years ago.

It is a tragedy that, just 90 miles from our shores, there exists a society where such freedom and opportunity are kept out of reach by a government that clings to discredited ideology and authoritarian control. A democratic opening in Cuba is, and should be, the foremost objective of our policy. We need a clear strategy to achieve it -- one that takes some limited steps now to spread the message of freedom on the island, but preserves our ability to bargain on behalf of democracy with a post-Fidel government.

The primary means we have of encouraging positive change in Cuba today is to help the Cuban people become less dependent on the Castro regime in fundamental ways. U.S. policy must be built around empowering the Cuban people, who ultimately hold the destiny of Cuba in their hands. (To continue reading: Our Main Goal....)

My Commentary
I agree with Mr. Obama and applaud him for having he courage to call for a change in our policy toward Cuba. The only other presidential candidates breaking with the status quo is Democrat Chris Dodd and Republican Ron Paul. (For a summary of the position of all presidential candidates visit: The Candidates on Cuba Policy)

It is a past time for a change in US policy toward Cuba. At one time, when Cuba was sending its army around the world and fomenting revolution in Africa and Latin America our policy made sense. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the demise of Cuba’s benefactor the Soviet Union, there has been little logic to our policy. Our current policy is a relic of the cold war and remains due to the political might of the Cuban-American Community. The restriction on tourism lacks all logic when Americans are not prohibited from visiting countries such as Iran or North Korea.

The thing that makes totalitarian governments “totalitarian” is that there are no other meaningful spheres of influence. When total power and influence flows from the government and there is no private business sector, no non-governmental educational establishment, weak religious institutions, no trade unions, no sources of information other than the government press, then that society is totalitarian. The government can exert absolute authority and exercise thought control and make people totally dependent on the government for their survival.

Political democracy may not immediately flow from the growth of the non-governmental sectors, but there is a degree of freedom one can have without political freedom when there are other influences in society than government only. With the growth of the non-governmental sectors a demand for democratization is bound to follow. In Poland we saw the fall of the Communist regime due to the power of Solidarity and the Catholic Church. Trade has changed China. China is still an authoritarian government but is Communist in name only. It is doubtful that we could again see a return to a Maoist China.

What will hasten the democratization of Cuba is contact with people from democratic countries and increase in trade. With trade and investment can come a demand that the Cuban government make concessions. Foreign investors will not make massive investments in countries without a predictable legal system and some guarantee to the ownership rights of their investment.

As Cubans increase their income from tourism and foreign trade opportunities, they will want a better standard of living and consumer goods to purchase with their new income. Creeping capitalism will weaken the state. The people will also learn more of the outside world and increasing want an end to the status of permanent revolution and the policies that keep them in poverty. Simply allowing Cuban Americans to increase the amount of money they are allowed to send home and allowing increased visitation, will hasten a lessening of dependence on the government and a desire for change on the part of the Cuban people. It is high time we end our illogical policy toward Cuba.

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Sunday, August 19, 2007

Four Presidential Candidates Worse Than Bush and One Leader

Watching the ABC News Iowa Democratic debate this morning and the Republican debate last week, I was most interested in what the candidates had to say about Iraq and foreign policy. While I am deeply concerned about the other issues of the day, to me, all other issues are a distant second in comparison. For the first time in my life, I could be persuaded to vote for a Democrat if I thought that person had the wisdom to disentangle our country from the mess that is Iraq and leave the world a saver place. While I am sure I would disagree with a Democratic candidate on tax policy, health care policy, Supreme Court nominees and most other domestic issue, if someone can show the wisdom to get us out of Iraq, then they could win my support.

I was not impressed by what I saw this morning or last week. Most of the candidates played it safe and where short on specifics. I guess that is the way to stay in the game. Bearers of bad news don’t inspire a lot of enthusiasm. So candidates sell their “experience”, or “leadership” or they position themselves as the “candidate of change”, but they avoid letting the people have specifics by which to critique them.

Of all the candidates, there were four that convinced me they would screw up getting us out of Iraq worse than Bush did in getting us into Iraq. These four candidates, who by comparison, would make Bush look like a genius, are Democrats Make Gavel, Bill Richardson, and Dennis Kucinich and Republican Ron Paul. The solution of these four candidates appears to be to pull out as quickly as possible and to hell with the consequences. They would race each other to the border.

Things are bad now, but they could get much worse. Events could spin rapidly out of control: A proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia in Iraq, massive genocide, an Al Qaeda stronghold, a Turkish invasion of Kurdistan are not only realistic possibilities, but appear likely to occur unless a solution that brings stability is found. The Palestinian-Israeli conflict continues to need a solution. How to deal with an Iran that may be close to joining the ranks of the nuclear-armed states is an enormous challenge.

With a resurgent Al Qaeda in Pakistan and with Pakistan facing elections, which very well may be suspended, the Al Qaeda allies in Pakistan could come to power in a military coup. A nuclear-armed Jihadist Pakistan could become a reality. If that occurs, what will be the future of the shaky peace between nuclear-armed India and nuclear-armed Pakistan?

"Stay the course" is not acceptable to the American people, and it should not be, but “cut and run” could be worse. I wish we had a pragmatic realist such as Ronald Reagan running for president, but I don’t see one. At this point anyone who had a plan for getting us out of Iraq without worsening the situation is worthy of consideration, but few of the candidates seem to want to even admit that the situation is dire.

Of all the candidates, the only one who even seems willing to discuss the consequences of a mismanaged withdrawal is Joseph Biden. In my estimation, he is the only candidate willing to reveal that he has even given serious thought to the problems of the Middle East. It is unfortunate that his campaign is not gaining traction and that he is not in the top tier of contenders.

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