January 26th, 2008

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John Kerry, the consumate political campaigner (...for someone else.)

Now, I actually *liked* John Kerry, and I think he would've been a very talented president... but I have to admit, he's not the best person with words.

So, the strength of what he said today really surprised me. If only voters actually paid attention.  
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"Barack Obama has more legislative experience than either of his two opponents. He served eight years in the Illinois legislature and now several in the United States Senate, in total, he has more legislative years. And if you look back in history, Abraham Lincoln had only two years in the United States Congress, and then he lost. He was sent back to Illinois in shame, ran for the United States Senate, lost his race for the Senate, then was nominated to be the leader of his party. And he became, arguably, our greatest president in history.. . 

You know, I look at Barack Obama: He's older than Bill Clinton was when Bill Clinton became president. He's older than John Kennedy was, he's older than Teddy Roosevelt was and he has a broad experience and has proven his ability through his campaign to be able to lead and to pull people together. . . 

I don't look at Barack Obama and see a black candidate. I see an inspiring, young, American United States senator . . . who happens also to be African American. Just as Hillary happens also to be a woman, and just as John Edwards happens also to be a white. 

Are we the country we say we are? Are we the country that holds certain truths to be self-evident, words which incidentally were written by a 33-year-old named Thomas Jefferson. . . are we the country that judges people by the content of their character, not the color of their skin -- words that were written by Martin Luther King when he was about 34 years old."

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If experience was everything, then we would've named Henry Kissinger president-for-life years ago... and we'd *still* be bombing Cambodia. 

"Military men are just dumb stupid animals to be used as pawns in foreign policy." - Henry Kissinger
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Oh dear.

A detailed 1998 New York Police Department analysis opposed the city's plans to locate its emergency command center in the World Trade Center.

...but apparently, Rudy Giuliani overrode the objections of his police force, and had it put there anyway. Clearly, this was an act of leadership that boldly stood up to obstacles such as reason or logic.

And, as families of the firefighters killed on 9/11 want to remind the people of Florida, after the first plane hit on 9/11, 39 minutes before the first tower fell, Rudy Giuliani and his commissioners showed initiative by running away from the scene as fast as they could. Unfortunately, some of the firefighters with defective radios weren't so lucky.

Gee, and Rudy was doing *so well* in his presidential campaign too. Do you think this might hurt his chances?!
</snark>

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There's smart.... and then there's Army smart.

A new study released by NPP, a research group that looks at military trends, has concluded that last year barely 70 percent of new Army recruits had high school diplomas. In Nevada, the lowest ranked state, only 54% of recruits had a high school diploma.The Army's goal is 90 percent high school graduates, which it hasn't met since 2004. 

The percentage of what the Army calls "high-quality" recruits—those who have high-school diplomas and who score in the upper 50th percentile on the Armed Forces' aptitude tests—has declined from 56.2 percent in 2005 to 44.6 percent in 2007.  

Army recruits without high school degrees are more likely to drop out or have discipline problems.   Nearly 12% of new Army recruits needed waivers for problems with the law last year -- up from 7.9 percent the previous year and more than double the percentage in 2003. 

So, you have to wonder about this idea of increasing the size of the Army by another 74,000 people. By definition, isn't that asking for 74,000 people at the very bottom of the scale, who the Army would've rejected just a few years ago? 

The "good news" is that some Army officials expect the rate of high school graduates in the Army to increase soon, as more young people find themselves unable to get good jobs due to the recession... the one brought on to a significant degree by wartime deficit spending.

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The South Carolina Primary.

With 99% of the precincts reporting, it's Barack Obama by a landslide 55%, outnumbering Hillary Clinton's 27% by over a 2-1 margin, with John Edwards in at a disappointing 18% in his home state. Arguably, this was Edwards' final big chance at a win. From this point on, he will have a *VERY* hard time painting himself as a viable alternative.

This is really a huge upset for Hillary's campaign, considering that she led in South Carolina 42%-34% in a CNN poll from mid-December. Even the latest polls only gave Obama about an 11% advantage on average, so he surged about 14% above their expectations. 


Turnout was high, and the white vote for Obama was surprisingly better than predicted, which is a healthy thing overall.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out with the media, as the Obama victory was *MUCH* larger than predicted, which will presumably give Obama a clear lead in delegates. 

Despite likely efforts of the Clinton camp to downplay the landslide, Hillary Clinton's campaign really went all-out in South Carolina, greatly increasing their expenditures for a series of negative attack ads, and pulling Hillary Clinton back to the state from out-of-state fundraising appearances in order to try to prevent an embarassing loss. 

To me, it seems South Carolinians viewed her campaign as being too negative, her husband as being too loud and divisive, and her campaign's priorities as being out of order. Arguably, the Clintons would've appreciated results that showed a racial divide that would encourage white voters to flock to her campaign, but ultimately, the people of South Carolina spoke pretty loudly, and they were a lot more united than the Clintons gave them credit for.