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Member since: Sat Jan 5, 2008, 08:45 PM
Number of posts: 50,164

Journal Archives

Burma faces a fork in the road on April 1st by elections

Former BBC Corespondent Larry Jagan lays out the possibilities and challenges in the critical elections that are coming up in Burma:


Much is riding on the outcome of the forthcoming polls in Myanmar, and more particularly the way in which these by-elections are conducted.

The initial signs are not encouraging. The election is going to be a real test of strength between the liberals who support the president's reform agenda, and the hardliners grouped around Vice President Tin Aung Myint Oo, who seem intent on derailing the reform process, despite publicly declaring their support for democratic reform.

Campaigning for the forthcoming elections is already in full swing. Myanmar's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who is contesting a seat in the parliamentary polls scheduled for April 1, has already made several forays into the countryside, including touring parts of the constituency on the outskirts of Yangon in which she is running.

Tens of thousands of supporters and well-wishers have flocked her route on these occasions to glimpse the iconic figure, who has spent much of the last 20 years under house arrest, often in virtual solidary confinement. Everywhere her reception has been the same, adoring crowds yelling their support for her. "She's been treated like a pop star," said freelance journalist Min Thu, who has been following her entourage. "The excitement is overwhelming as people want to see her, wave to her, and for those close enough, to touch her."

PPP Latest Poll Santorum still leads in Michigan, race tightens

The race has tightened with Santorum's lead in Michigan down to 4% for the Feb 28th primary in Michigan.

It seems to indicate that if Romney overtakes Santorum in his home state it will be another narrow decision for Romney.


The Republican race for President in Michigan has tightened considerably over the last week, with what was a 15 point lead for Rick Santorum down to 4. He leads with 37% to 33% for Mitt Romney, 15% for Ron Paul, and 10% for Newt Gingrich.

The tightening over the last week is much more a function of Romney gaining than Santorum falling. Santorum's favorability spread of 67/23 has seen no change since our last poll, and his share of the vote has dropped only 2 points from 39% to 37%. Romney meanwhile has seen his net favorability improve 10 points from +10 (49/39) to +20 (55/35) and his vote share go from 24% to 33%.

What we're seeing in Michigan is a very different story from Florida where Romney surged by effectively destroying his opponent's image- here Romney's gains have more to do with building himself up.

Groups Santorum has double digit leads with include Protestants (up 47-30), union members (up 43-23), Evangelicals (up 51-24), Tea Partiers (up 55-20), 'very conservative' voters (up 54-23), and men (up 40-28).

Santorum would be a courageous and brilliant GE opponent, we should fear him.

For the Right Wing Lurkers;

(You can quote at your little buddy sites)

We liberals should fear Santorum and not be making fun of him. He is a clear headed man with strong morals and principles. He will excite the 'silent' majority of the country and make it really really really really hard for us to bring our atheistic communalistic policies to fruition. We should hope that the Republicans pick anyone but Santorum.

For the rest of us;

Please ix-nay on the at-bay it-shay azy-cray ayings-sayof Antorum-Say until we get Omney-Ray out of the ace-ray. hat-thay way the Epublicans-Ray ill-way be ucked-fay even-say ay-ways to Unday-Say. Or-Fay ow-nay we ould-shay aise-pray Antorum-Say and etend-pray to ear-fay him until Omney-Ray is 100% blitered-o-ay to itherines-smay. Eep-Kay all of the Antorum-Say at-bay it-shay azy-cray ayings-say azy-cray iet-quay until he is the official 'presumed landslide maker' of 2012.

That is all

PPP Tweets: More bad news for Romney; Behind in WA and MI (still) No lead in AZ.

Even if he wins he is going to have to spend a lot of treasure to eek out marginal wins.


Behind Santorum in Washington

Santorum still up about 10 points on Romney in Washington state through 2 days of our polling there

Romney doing weaker in AZ than expected

The first night of our polling in Arizona was pretty much a tie between Romney and Santorum

Romney still behind in MI

Santorum leading on the first night of our new Michigan poll, but much closer than we found

Republican Insiders begin to prepare for post MI primary meltdown

edited to add PPP latest tweet "Santorum leading on the first night of our new Michigan poll, but much closer than we found there a week ago."

Romney's inevitable meltdown is coming earlier than predicted. Even if he wins Michigan it will be at such a cost in treasure and reputation that it will become the new political definition of Pyrrhic Victories.

The establishment is begining to forsee a process that would go to Santorum or Gingrich.

Fear is palpable in the country club class. Multiple senior sources are begining to leak alternative plans if Romney fails in Michigan;


THE CONVERSATION: A tippy-top Republican, unprompted, yesterday sketched the germ of a plan for a new candidate if Rick Santorum upsets Mitt Romney in the Michigan primary on Feb. 28. Our friend brought visual aids: chicken-scratched versions of prosaic documents that are circulating among GOP insiders like nuclear-code sheets: In case of mayhem, break glass!

Most reporters still think Romney “will find a way to win Michigan.” Nevertheless, some of the nation’s most powerful Republicans are poring over filing deadlines and pondering worst-case scenarios.

Our friend handed us a printout of FEC deadlines for ballot access, with five of them circled and starred: California (March 23), Montana (March 12), New Jersey (April 2), New Mexico (March 16) and South Dakota (March 27). The point: Even after Feb. 28, it might be possible to assemble a Hail Mary candidacy that could garner enough delegates to force a CONTESTED convention (a different nuance than BROKERED, which implies that someone is in charge).

At the same time that they were meeting they literarrly bumped into this reporter who had his own official leak from another Republican Senator


A prominent Republican senator just told me that if Romney can’t win in Michigan, the Republican Party needs to go back to the drawing board and convince somebody new to get into the race.

“If Romney cannot win Michigan, we need a new candidate,”
said the senator, who has not endorsed anyone and requested anonymity.

The senator believes Romney will ultimately win in Michigan but says he will publicly call for the party to find a new candidate if he does not.

“We’d get killed,” the senator said if Romney manages to win the nomination after he failed to win the state in which he grew up.

“He’d be too damaged,” he said. “If he can’t even win in Michigan, where his family is from, where he grew up.”

Romney is doomed (part 24) Romney delegate (OHIO AG) switches to Santorum.

For the last 4 months I have been explaining why the Evangelical wing could not accept Mitt Romney. He entered with two strikes out because of Mormon/Evangelical antipathy and then the third strike is, well, he is Mitt Romney.

Now the rats have begun to jump the ship. Contrary to what some people think Romney doesn't really have very good ties to the Republican establishment. He didn't spend the last four years with Seamus strapped to the top of his car going from district to district helping to raise money for Congressional candidates. Moreover people don't like him very well, including establishment people. According to DemocraticConventionWatch.com he has garnered only 18 superdelegate endorsements.


Now it appears even the few that hitched their wagon to Romney are starting to abandon him.

Ohio AG DeWine switches from Romney to Santorum

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine switched his endorsement from Mitt Romney to Rick Santorum on Friday in a defection he said was driven by his belief the former Pennsylvania senator can win the Republican presidential race.

DeWine, a former senator who led John McCain’s Ohio presidential campaign in 2008, made the announcement in the company of Santorum at the Statehouse. He said he once felt Santorum could not overcome Romney’s financial advantage but has decided he was wrong.

“To be elected president, you have to do more than tear down your opponents,’’ DeWine said. “You have to give the American people a reason to vote for you, a reason to hope, a reason to believe that under your leadership, America will be better. Rick Santorum has done that. Sadly, Governor Romney has not.’’

. . .

Ohio Democrats, through their spokesman Seth Bringman, issued a terse statement in response to DeWine’s decision: “As is true for countless Ohioans, the more Mike DeWine learned about Mitt Romney, the less he liked.’’

Here is the video of the event. In this short clip you see how pissed people are at Romney, more emotion than any pro Romney event.


Even if Romney eeks out a victory in Michigan it will be to no avail. It will be a pyrrhic victory. To have to spend a huge amount of money to win your home state, and a state that is best suited to your demographics just exposes how weak your support is.

Santorum fights to be heard at a raucous Tacoma rally

TACOMA -- It was fight night for Rick Santorum in the City of Destiny.

The former Pennsylvania senator was cheered by the largest public outdoor rally in Western Washington that a Republican White House hopeful has seen in years. But Santorum fought to make himself heard over chants from protesters.

The candidate tried to link together President Obama and the demonstrators, declaring: "They're fundamentally trying to remake our country into a country that our Founders wouldn't recognize."

The Santorum rally, at the Washington State History Museum, was the state's the most raucous political event since conservative talk radio activists provided a loud bump in the 1994 Hillary Clinton health care caravan.

Read more: http://www.seattlepi.com/local/connelly/article/Santorum-fights-to-be-heard-at-a-raucous-Tacoma-3316478.php#ixzz1mPVd3zsD

Favorite line of the article: Not the most humorous of candidates, Santorum went straight at the hecklers rather than humoring and poking them.

Bangkok Post: Terror attack on 'foreign nationals' interupted

Bombs in the house: Residential area becomes a war zone

The bombs that exploded in a busy Bangkok street yesterday were intended for "foreign nationals" in Thailand, national police chief Priewpan Damapong said. Another Iranian suspect was arrested at Suvarnabhumi airport hours after the incident as he was about to leave for Malaysia. He is one of three suspects thought to be involved.

The United States and the United Kingdom yesterday reissued their travel warning for their nationals in response to the blasts. Israel's Defence Minister Ehud Barak blamed the series of explosions on Iran. Mr Barak was quoted in The Jerusalem Post as saying the bomb blasts were part of an attempted terrorist attack perpetrated by Iran.

"The attempted terror attack in Thailand proves once again that Iran and its proxies continue to operate in the ways of terror and the latest attacks are an example of that," Mr Barak said while on a state visit to Singapore. The incident came one day after near simultaneous attacks on Israeli diplomats in Georgia and India. Israel pointed the finger at Iran for the attacks but Teheran denied responsibility.

more at the link

An absolutely true Valentine's Day story of Merit Making

In Thailand we usually celebrate holidays and birthdays by going to the temple or to an orphanage and 'making merit' by either feeding the monks or feeding the kids.

Currently in El Centro and with my dog in his last months due to cancer my wife has agreed to give up our apartment and we are living together in primitive conditions.

We are waiting for last month's commissions to be deposited in our account and it is now 15 days late and we are on fumes.

So don't have a lot planned for Valentine's Day and our last few bucks until we get paid.

So we take the Golden Retriever to El Centro's main park where we go once a day to let him run while I do my walk and we feed the ducks, geese and pigeons.

They have one large pond and a smaller pond that is slightly elevated that has a little fountain in it. By running the fountain they get a flow of water that helps keep it clean.

As we walk past the smaller pool we see 4 pieces of gold flashing in the water.

We discover 4 carp and one catfish swimming in only about two inches of water.

They are under attack by seagulls who have already picked apart 3 other fish.

The fish are swimming on their sides trying to move and avoid the seagulls that are starting to gang up on the last 5 fish.

The fish have only minutes left.

I get the plastic bag that had the bread for the ducks and geese and walk through the mud and reach the water, miracuously without falling into the mud.

The seagulls retreat and the fish actually swim into this plastic bag. My wife picks up two by hand. I know this sounds strange but it actually appears that the fish understand we are there to help (maybe because they get fed food in a park pond they are not afraid of people).

We carry the 5 fish to the larger pond and release them.

And this was really the best way for us to spend our Valentines Day together, finding a small little way to make merit together.

No commercialism, no cheesy cards, just my wife and I wading into the mud and celebrating the miracle of life with some fellow earth travellers watched by our dog, Champ, who loves the whole adventure.

And that is the end of the story, every word of it true.

But there is a post script. It is unrelated (in my Western objective thinking) or completely related (in my wife's hightened Thai Karmic perception) depending on your point of view to the following.

We cleaned off the mud and got back to our room.

On my email is a note from a large union that has agreed to accept a proposal we have been sending back and forth for three years. The local board has sent it to the membership for election. If it goes through it could generate what would normally be about 6 months worth of income, and it would significantly reduce the cost of some benefits for that union. As I told you it is completely unrelated to the story above and in no way am I suggesting that little acts of merit making ever have any direct impact on the mundane profane world. Just don't try and convince my wife of that.

Bangkok Post: Second Iranian bomber captured in Bangkok


Three explosions rocked Sukhumvit 71 in Bangkok on Tuesday afternoon, badly injuring an Iranian man who lost both his legs.
Another man was arrested at Suvarnabhumi airport after police discovered explosive materials in a house rented by three Iranians in Soi Pridiphanomyong 31.

Four other people were injured in the blasts.Government spokeswoman Thitima Chaisaeng said police reported the house was being used to make bombs and had uncovered a cache of C4 explosives and remote control detonating devices.She said a bomb went off inside the rented house and two of the three men fled.

The third man, identified as Saeid Moradi, followed and tried to hail a taxi, which refused to stop. Police said he threw a bomb at the taxi, injuring the driver, and ran off. He then was spotted by police and threw a third bomb at them, but it bounced off a tree and blew his legs off. He was rushed to Kluaynamthai Hospital.

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