Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Education Reform

My mother Gayle Ann Brosnahan is one of the finest 3rd-grade teachers ever. In a conversation about education, she made the following observations and suggestions.

The education system in the US is failing a large majority of our population. Many inner-city schools have unacceptable drop-out rates. Some lay the blame on the teachers, or parents, or the students themselves, but maybe the system itself is not meeting the needs of our students. What do I mean?

Over the past 30 years, technical training in US high schools has been cut until it has become nonexistent. Part of this is because its expensive to maintain auto-, woodworking, and metal shop. What states have done instead is to invest all this money in technical colleges. It's much cheaper to pay for one well-equipped technical college than 12 minimally equipped high schools. While this saves money, many high school students have long since dropped out of school before they are eligible for the technical college. In many cases, high school students are forced to drop out because of their family financial situation. Many teens go into the full-time service and unskilled labor industry as soon as they are employable at 16.

What do I suggest? Fund a well-equipped technical college in every area and allow high schoolers to attend as early as 14 years old. By that age students will have the basic reading, and math skills and they can start learning a trade as a plumber, electrician, auto mechanics, and med techs etc. Then at 16, let them work days and take night classes or work nights and take day classes.

Our current education system is tailored for those going on to traditional 4-year Universities. Additionally, our current education system has been greatly feminized. I am sure its tough for many being expected to read "Pride and Prejudice" and "Wuthering Heights" when your family has been hit with the financial stress of an expensive medical bill or home foreclosure.

My father was raised in poverty but was able to work as an apprentice electrician through high school. He eventually went on to college and graduate school, but had he remained an electrician, he would have had a marketable skill that would have provided a decent living for his future family.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

The National Debt

Lawrence Malkin is an economic reporter for Time Magazine wrote an excellent book explaining the complexities of the National Debt. The problem? This book was written in 1986, published in 1987 and since then nothing has changed. The National Debt is such an institution that it even deserves capitalization as a formal noun.

Malkin begins by review the 3 ways the US Government makes money. The US taxes, prints money and borrows money in the form of US Treasury Bonds or T-Bills. Way back during the days of Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson, there was a debate over whether the US Government should have a national debt and run deficits. US Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton argued that during war time, a national deficit would be important because wars are generally a test of economic power as well as military power and resolve. The idea was that during the war the country could tap into its credit reserves, and then pay off the dept during peace time and though continued economic growth. That is, if the GDP or gross domestic product of the nation increases faster than inflation. 10 billion dollars yesterday is not the same as 10 billion dollars today. As the country grows, more people are making money and paying more taxes. However, on the other side, borrowed money accrues compound interest and 10 billion dollars borrowed yesterday becomes many more billions of dollars owed today.

So, how did we get into this mess? Malkin begins by taking us back to WWII. When the US emerged from the war after the long years of The Great Depression, due to huge investment by the US Government in industry and infrastructure, there was a huge post-war boom. Companies like Ford, Chrysler, Boeing had huge production facilities built for them during the war which they were gifted to them after the the war was over. In an example of Keynesian Economics, the investment of the government in industry and the US Highway System stimulated a huge boom in the economy. The 20 years following the war, the US was at the peak of its power and influence during the Eisenhower and Truman administrations.

So, what happened? Vietnam and the Sexual Revolution. During the prolonged Vietnam conflict, the US ran up big deficits. Additionally, the birth control pill was introduced which gave women a false sense of security about pre-marital sex as well as making pre-marital sex socially acceptable. So, during this critical time, while the country was paying for the Vietnam War, hundreds of thousands of unmarried women in the US were getting pregnant, moving from rural America to the city and going on the new welfare system created by Lyndon B. Johnson's "the Great Society."

Due to the prolonged war, Richard Nixon was elected into office and eventually stopped the war. However, he made a critical mistake which signaled the decline of the US. President Nixon took our currency off the gold standard. The US Dollar used to be the world's leading currency. In times past anyone could exchange a US Dollar for the equivalent amount of gold. Well, during the war, the US started printing money instead of just borrowing to pay for LBJ's Food Stamps, Medicare, Medicaid and the war. Simply printing paper money results in inflation, devalues the currency, and weakens the dollar. Consequently, foreign governments and banks who held billions of US Dollars began to exchange them for gold. Nixon wanted to hold onto the gold so, he took the Dollar off the Gold Standard. What this did is let the value of the Dollar float and be entirely determined by how many dollars are owned by foreign companies and governments.

The next critical mistake was that the US Government ignored the oil issue. It used to be that the Western Powers had control over the world supply of oil. It was true then as it is today that a majority of oil came from the Middle East countries of Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, and Lybia. But, these countries did not refine the oil into gasoline. Western companies such as Exxon, Mobile, Chevron, Texaco, Shell, and BP controlled oil because they controlled the distribution, and refining of oil to gasoline. These 7 companies could tell the Middle East what they were willing to pay for oil. This is the same concept of how Walmart controls the producers and dictates to a producer what it will pay for the product. Well, this power over oil and gas distribution only lasted as long as the US had its own oil and gas reserves. But environmentalists forced the US to stop drilling and exploration and the building of oil refineries. At the same time, the oil producing nations in the Middle East unionized and formed OPEC. As the US began exporting more and more oil from the Middle East, OPEC gained control to dictate oil prices. This new control resulted in the Oil Crisis and embargo in 1967 and 1973 and the high gas prices today. Now gasoline distribution and production is controlled by a new 7 sisters which includes nationally held companies from Russia, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, China, Malaysia, Iran and Venezuela.

So, what happened in the 80's and 9o's? More of the Same. The welfare programs such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid etc began to grow out of control. At the same time the US continued record spending in defence during the the Cold War as we "out spent" the Soviet Union. Since the fall of the Soviet Union we haven't seen the expected "peace dividend" because of the unrest and threat by smaller nations destabilized by the fall of the Soviet Union and organized terrorism.

Now there are record numbers of single women on welfare and children born into poverty. There are record numbers of "Baby Boomers" who are retiring and expecting to cash in on Medicare and Social Security which returns 5 dollars for every 1 dollar paid into it. We live in a different world today. Housing after the war was exceptionally inexpensive. An average home cost about $10,000 and the mortgage payment was less than a 1/5 of the family income. That left more money available to buy cars, appliances, TVs and microwaves, which our grandparents did. They spent and spent and didn't save and looked forward to Social Security after retirement. Now the Baby Boomers were born and housing became more expensive. That same house that was $10,000 now became $85,000 and the mortgage payment was 1/3 of the family income. To live after the manner in which they were accustomed to living, the Baby Boomers sent mom into the work place and children went to day care.

Today large family homes are $250 to 350,000 and up. Many families who cannot afford the same size house as their parents live in town houses at a cost of $100,000 or small 3 bedrooms homes at $150,000. Men and women are getting married later in life, from 23 to age 25 in 1980 and 27.5 in 2006. Families are having less kids today 1.8 per family which means less workers to pay for Social Security and Medicare. Also, Generation X is not only not saving but also racking up record consumer and credit card debt.

With the increase in housing costs, the average salary of the US worker is not following suit. Industrial and Manufacturing jobs are increasingly going overseas. Even technical computer jobs are going overseas. Manufacturing has become increasingly automated and the robots and computers only need supervision. So, an increasing amount of US jobs have become service oriented. These jobs in the service industry usually are part-time, low pay, temporary, and do not provide benefits. As transportation costs increase, raw materials are mined from the US, shipped to Asia where components are produced and shipped back to the US for final assembly in an automated factory. While Blue Chip companies have been loosing jobs to foreign outsourcing and automation. Small US companies have been the source of a majority of job creation. However, much of the rise in US productivity is reflected in US workers working longer hours for less pay, working two and three jobs, or an increasing amount of women in the work place.

How much is the National Debt? Educated Upper middle class Americans pay 40-50% of their pay check for taxes, of which 9% of the National Budget goes just to pay the interest on the National Debt which is calculated to be over 9.6 trillion dollars. 22% of which is owed to foreign governments and 40% is owned by our own federal reserve which is controlled by the worlds largest investment banking institutions. These same institutions that ask for a government bailout when they make a bad financial deal and loose money speculating in the market.

This book is complimentary of the Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker who prevented the US from printing money, causing inflation, devaluing the US Dollar instead of issuing bonds. The Book gives the equation MV=PT (money)(velocity)=(price)(transactions). If the US prints more money are there is more money in circulation, that could cause the price of everything to inflate and devalue the dollar. That would also devalue T-bills and cause foreign holders to cash in and the large world banks who own the Fed to take the loss. During the administration of Paul Volcker, the Fed Reserve held record high interest rates (20%) which made it difficult for the US to borrow money, made record profits for the reserve, and made borrowing for individual buyers in the US for homes difficult. The result of high interest rates did moderate double digit inflation in the late 70's and early 8o's.

The book is critical of Ronald Reagan and Alan Greenspan and so-called "supply-side" "trickle-down" economics or "Reaganomics." The idea here is that if you reduce taxes for the rich, that will put more money into the hands of people who will go out and spend or save it. Problem is that most of that money goes to China because of the US trade deficit and therefore doesn't grow our GDP at home. Inflation has been outpacing our rise in GDP destroying any home in outgrowing the National Debt. It seems after 20-30 years, supply-side economics hasn't delivered on its promises. You can increase the amount of money in the pockets of the rich and middle class but you can't force them to save it, invest it, or buy American.

What does Malkin suggest? He suggests for the US government to not print money and to control inflation. He suggests for the American people to tightening our belts and for the US government to cut programs and defence spending. But so far it seems the government is nowhere near ready to cut entitlement spending and defence spending now as it was in 1987.

The Book does try to explain what the Federal Reserve is. It says that a couple times a year the US government decides to issue bonds. The Fed determines at what rate they will be sold for. The Large World Banks buy up these Bonds and then hold or resell them. They really don't have real money to buy them as they only are expected to carry a small percentage of actual cash on-hand for the amount of money they loan (8%?). A sizable amount of these bonds are then resold to foreign governments, corporations, and a small amount make up individual accounts, and corporate pension funds.

What this book doesn't address. There are some people who are suspicious of the Federal Reserve and consider it a front for several world investment firms and international banking institutions such as the Rothschild Bank of London, Warburg Bank of Hamburg, Rothschild Bank of Berlin, Lehman Brothers of New York, Lazard Brothers of Paris, Kuhn Loeb Bank of New York, Israel Moses Seif Banks of Italy, Goldman Sachs of New York, Warburg Bank of Amsterdam, and Chase Manhattan Bank of New York. Some conspiracy theorists claim these banks are controlled by the ulta-elite and the national debt allows them to exert political power over US policy. These conspiracy theorists claim that both Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy were assassinated after attempting to dissolve the Federal Reserve or print money without approval of the Fed.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Basic Chemistry of Steel Making

A little clarification on Steel and Wootz, becasue there is considerable confusion about what is Wootz, Damask, Bulaut, Damascus steel.

Noone knows how to make Wootz. It is a secret that has been lost for several centuries. Noone has made steel to the quality of Wootz since. Wootz is like 3-5 times stronger than any know modern steel. making Wootz has nothing to do with laminating, forge welding, pattern welding, layering, etc, etc. Japan did use lamination to produce their blades. But pattern welding was how knockoff sword makers tried to imitate Wootz. Pattern welding actually makes weak spots and if you buy ammunition some boxes say that it is not to be used in gun with Damsk or Wootz steel barrels. There have been several cases of the these cheaply made barrels blowing apart.

True Wootz has to do with creating the correct conditions to grow carbon nano-tubes matrix inside the molten iron. Some theorize this had to do with vanadium nucleation sites, and repetative heating and cooling cycles. But, like I said, noone knows. Pattern welding can fake the swirl pattern on Damascus Sabers, but noone knows how to make real Wootz. Wootz steel had extrememly high carbon content over 2% which should result in worthless Cast Iron. But instead of the carbon making the steel brittle, the carbon formed into a carbon nanotube matrix. This nano-steel was extrememly hard, yet flexible and elastic. (Ancient Nanotechology = Cool)

About regular modern and ancient steel. Cooled wrought Iron (ferrite-Faced Centered Cubic structure) cannot disolve signifanct amounts of carbon. If you heat it up to almost molten (910oC), it will phase transition to austenite (Body Centered Cubic) and readily dissolve carbon up to 2%. When the iron is allowed to cool, the carbon will precipitate as cementite. Mixtures of cementite and iron are called pearlite and bainite and are found in steel and cast iron.

To make steel you need to disolve the carbon in molten wrought Iron and then cool it rapidly. Instead of the carbon precipitating as cementite, the carbon will precipiate as martensite. Martensite is the key to non-wootz, non-stainless, ancient and modern steels. The martensite itself is not what is important. What is important is that when martensite forms it changes the configuration of austenite from a Body Centered Cubic configuration to a body-centered tetragonal structure. BCT is what leads to steel.

However, BCT iron full of martensite is extremely hard hard but still brittle. The large martensite crystals needs to be broken down. That is where tempering comes in. BCT iron is then reheated which transforms some of the brittle martensite to transform back into bainite or pearlite or a combination of ferrite and cementite. This is done until the right balance of hardness, brittleness and ductility is achieved. Steel has a mixture of martensite, bainite, ferrite and cementite. But if you see martensite, then you know the iron has been austenized and quenched. tempering only requires gentle reheating.

3 steps for making steel 1.austenizing. 2. quenching 3. tempering.

Bronze was supperior to wrought iron and cast iron in every characteristic. But steel beats Bronze hands down. So, some believe what drove history from the bronze age to the Iron age was a shortage of Tin traded by the phoenecians which produced pressure on countries to invest in steel research. When steel was discovered (think Manhattan Project), and able to be produced in large amounts, the Assyrians used steel chariots and swords to conquer Northern Israel and Egypt. Steel making didnt make your country dependent on foreign tin. Therefore, steel could be made locally, and became the the material of choice.

Steel also has elastic and memory properties that ancient bronze did not. So, steel could be used as a material to make springs and tension bars to store potential energy. Steel spring technology was used later in this way to make seige weapons and cross bows. Steel spring technology was the secret of sucess of the Romans and was involved in the fall of Carthage (end of the Phoenecians).

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Custom LASIK Answers Part 2

In a previous post I posed a question about why EyeCareOne did my exam and did their laser vision correction procedure on a dilated vs. "relaxed" eye. Last week I went back to the Laser vision correction center and was re-evaluated and I asked them this question: Why do LASIK on a dilated eye while other centers say they perform the procedure on a "relaxed" eye?

1. Their laser has a gaze-tracking feature that works better with a dilated verses the relaxed eye.

2. Have you ever seen those infomercials about a program which promises to improve your vision without the need for glasses in just minutes a day? That product is actually based on a physiologic principle called accommodation. Accommodation is the ability for the lens to change shape making images crisper and sharper. It's kind of like a fine focus which is especially important as an object in focus draws nearer to us. So, the glasses-free program sells information about using a system of "pencil pushups" and other eye exercises to help develop your ability to accommodate. This ability is usually lost or decreased in later life.

So, during my second exam, the optometrist was measuring my spherical and cylindrical correction and she had me read the eye chart after the measurement and commented, "wow, you shouldn't be able to read the chart that well." Well, one reason I was reading the chart better than predicted may have been lucky guessing but the other reason was my ability to accommodate. I guess you could say its a special talent of mine. You see, I have needed glasses since I was 5 years old, but since then, I have never consistently worn them for one reason or another. Consequently, my lens has learned to adapt and compensate or accommodate in this case.

[I wonder if I could use my new-found ability to save the world, or at least make some money?]

In any event, I quickly was convinced of how significant this phenomenon was to my vision. The optometrist proceeded to apply eye drops which dilated my pupils and paralyzed the muscles attached to my lenses. Then she had me read the eye chart again. I couldn't read it at all. Not even the big letters.

I find it curious that the other laser correction centers claim that doing LASIK on a "relaxed," non-dilated eye is better. For one thing, calling a non-dilated eye "relaxed" is a misnomer. The dilated eye is the one that is relaxed. But I think it would have been better to say "natural" because saying "relaxed" is misleading. It is misleading because had I had LASIK done based on a non-dilated exam, I would have been under-corrected. In some cases, patients can be over-corrected. However, by getting correction measurements on a dilated eye, lens accommodation is taken out of the equation as a potential confounding variable which may lead to deterioration of vision later when the ability to accommodate is lost.

If accommodation is such an significant factor in vision, I wonder why other centers ignore it. I can only speculate that it is for convenience.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Near Death Experiences Support Eternal Families

My younger brother Stephen passed away last Monday of complications of pneumonia. Although unexpected, he had been sick for a long time, so his passing was not a total surprise. I am convinced of life after death and the continuation of family relationships in the next life. Stephen had had a near-death experience in the past while clinging to life on a ventilator. During that experience (typical of many other NDEs), he met and spoke with people on the other side who had died who he knew to be family and friends. Although, not his time then, I am confident that his time to pass into the next life had come at last. Stephen died quietly and painlessly in his sleep yet I believe that our relationship will live on forever.

It is interesting how many NDEs involve already deceased family and friends. It seem this would confirm by direct observation that familial relationships continue into the next life. It is unfortunate that other Christian religions have contrived doctrines contrary to this self-evident truth. Family relationships are a treasure which we can lay up in store where theives cannot break in and steal and where moth and rust cannot corrupt.

The assurance of Eternal Families results in LDS funerals which are different than funerals the world over. LDS funerals are reverent and mournful, but never grief- or despair-filled. There is always a bright spirit of hope, peace, comfort and faith that the deceased who has keep the faith is in a better place awaiting a literal resurrection and our future reunion.

I have since wondered why God wouldn't have just taken Stephen to heaven when he was in the hospital and on the ventillator and in severe septic shock. But then I realized, after a phone converstion with our mother, that had Stephen died in the hospital he would have died a mental patient. That is because he had just gotten out of a mental health hospital for an exacerbation of paranoia. As it worked out, he was able to be nursed back to health, return to college, and play the trumpet in the university marching band, symphonic band, and jazz band. I am not really sure how he would play the trumpet, a wind instrument, during the day and go to bed hooked up to oxygen at night. In any event, he didn't die a mental patient, but he died as a student, a musician, and a faithful disciple of Christ.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

10 Advancements in Trauma, Tactical, and Battlefield Medicine

I enjoyed an excellent Grand Rounds lecture by Frank K. Butler, Jr., M.D. CAPT MC USN (RET), Medical Consultant for Naval Operational Medicine Institute in Pensacola, FL entitled “Tactical Combat Casualty Care: Update 2008.” Dr. Bulter outlines a number of advancements in trauma care which the military has been implementing and showcased the outstanding survivability data as a direct result of these developments.

There are some injuries for which nothing can be done on the battle field. Soldiers stuck in the head or through the heart cannot be saved. Unfortunately, a great percentage of soldiers die from injuries that could easily be saved with minimal resources and training. But new revolutionary advancements in Trauma and Tactical Medicine during the Afghanistan and Iraq wars have demonstrated significants improvements in survivability on the battle field over the past 50 years.

Mortality of Injured: WW2: 30%, Vietnam: 20%, Iraq 10%.

1. Tourniquets: Used to stop large arterial extremity bleeding as a last resort after direct pressure bandages. New designs can be easily placed with only one hand by the injured person.
2. Clotting Agents: HemCon and Quick Clot can be poured or packed into deep puncture wounds to stop bleeding.
3. Interosseous Access (IO): Using a small drill and cutting catheter, a line can be placed quickly into the sternum or tibia. Fluids, blood, antibiotics, and pain medicine can all be given through the IO line into the bone itself. IO lines have demonstrated very low rate of infection and are much less prone to failing like typical IVs.
4. Permissive Hypotension: In a bleeding patient, blood pressure should only be maintained to the point that consciousness is maintained. Resuscitating a patient to a normal blood pressure will blow newly formed clots off bleeding sites causing more severe bleeding.
5. Intravascular Volume Expanders: Traditional resuscitation fluids like NS and LR stay inside the vasculature for only 45 minutes before leaking out. Products like Hespan pull fluids into the blood vessels and stay in circulation for days. Also, medics aren't weighed down carrying heavy bags of IV fluids. Hespan does not carry oxygen so upcoming artificial blood products which do carry oxygen will be the exciting next development.
6. Oral Antibiotics: Moxifloxicin and other newly formulated antibiotics have 100% bioavailibility when taken orally as compared to IV dosing. An injured patient can easily receive antibiotics by mouth without needing a high maintenance IV. Using these antibiotics, wound infection rates have virtually evaporated to near zero.
7. Fentanyl Suckers: a powerful pain medicine sold under the trade name Actiq can easily and quickly be administered by mouth without using a high maintenance IV and removed if the patient becomes too sedated and experiences respiratory depression.
8. Fresh Frozen Plasma: Studies from Afghanistan and Iraq show that bleeding patients have better survival outcomes when given Fresh Frozen Plasma (FFP) in a 1:1 ratio with Packed Red Blood Cells (PRBCs).
9. Thorocostomy Needles: Gun shot wounds to the lung kill patients because air leaking out of the injured lung fills the chest until the pressure stops the heart from pumping blood. This is called cardiac tamponade resulting from a tension pneumothorax . This is easily prevented by inserting a needle and catheter into the chest wall allowing the trapped chest air to escape. Newer thoracostomy needles are longer and larger to facilitate this procedure on thick chested soldiers.
10. Advanced Airways: Many wounded soldiers who are knocked unconscious die simply because they suffocate on their own tongue. A simple chin lift or head tilt by another soldier is all that is needed many times to save a life until the soldier regains consciousness and can maintain his own airway. However, it can be very inefficient use of resources for a medic to hold open one airway while a handful of other wounded slowly bleed to death around him. So, new devices have been invented, tested, and successfully implemented which can be inserted into the airway and assist in respiration.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Republicans: Lost Base, Lost Election

Today former governor Mitt Romney suspended his bid to become the Republican nominee for President of the United States. I can't help but feel a deep sense of disappointment. Not just because my guy lost; I feel bad for America. I have been a Romney supporter from the beginning. I feel that Romney represented conservative ideals better than any other candidate and he was the most qualified candidate to lead this country and compete and win in a general election. The Republican primary should have been designed to select the candidate which would have the best chance in a general election against the Democratic candidate. So, what happened? If Romney was the best candidate, how did the election process fail?

Romney started out as a relative unknown to most of the country (except UT, MI, and MA). The primary process did work to allow Romney to organize a well-oiled campaign, raise money, and get his message out. So, by the start of the start of the primary he was a contender.

Being Republican is not the same as being Conservative. The Republican party doesn't care about conservative principles. At the end of the day, they want their guy to win. And in a two-party system, the candidate who can attract the moderates and undecideds has the advantage. In the primaries, a candidate seeks to attract the base of his or her party first. And then in the general election try to appeal to the moderates and undecideds with the help of his enthusiastic base. In this case, the Republican leadership put it's support behind McCain, not because he was conservative, but because he was more liberal or moderate.

Many people in the US do not consider themselves strict Democrats or strict Republicans. These luke-warm individuals call themselves independants or moderates. But even the middle in the US has drifted left over the years. According to several recent polls, most people in the US and in the Republican party do not believe that sex before marriage is wrong. This shift in values is also reflected in other issues such as abortion, gay rights, and welfare. So, the middle has moved left and as a consequence, the "New, Modern Republican Party" has moved left. That's how a pro-choice, Rudy Giuliani, could run as a Republican and how Independent, Joseph Lieberman, is being considered as John McCain's VP. It's not about conservative principles. It's about taking the middle and winning power.

However, the "New Republican Party" made a grave miscalculation. In the past they sought the candidate in the primary that could unify its base. But this time they went with McCain because they are counting on his moderate views to attract more of the middle. That is why leaders of the "New Republican Party" came out with their endorsements for McCain leading into Super Tuesday. They know the conservative base does not like McCain, but they are counting on conservatives voting for him anyways in a general election. However, the Republican Party overlook a very important principle.

In supporting McCain, the Republican party has just alienated its base. Moderates and Independents are luke-warm. Moderates don't make good phone callers or donors. Independents arent the people who put out lawn signs, talk to their friends at work, and put bumper stickers on their car. The luke-warm moderates don't have the passion to drive the campaign. They are the ones who are taken whichever way the wind is blowing. Conservatives may hold their nose and vote McCain, but McCain is not going to stimulate the base to drive a grass roots movement in the general election to win over enough of these luke-warm voters. Voting for McCain because you hate or fear Hillary will not generate the ground swell that love for your candidate would. This is the "New Republican's" mistake. Love wins campaigns, not hate and fear. Consequently, I predict McCain will lose to Clinton or Obama.

The West Virginia primary convention represented everything wrong with Washington and this election. According to West Virginia convention rules, the winner must have a majority of the vote. After the first vote Romney was way ahead of McCain or Huckabee. But he just fell short of the 51% needed. So, before the second vote, McCain's people called Huckabee's and Ron Paul's people and arranged a back-room deal to railroad any momentum an early West Virginia win would give Romney going into Super Tuesday. McCain told Huckabee that hewould tell his and Paul's people to vote for him in exchange for a couple delegates awarded to Paul. When then second vote was tallied, with McCain and Paul's votes to Huckabee, Huckabee was just able to edge Romney by a few points, get the majority, the delegates, and derail any momentum by Romney going forward. This was a deal I would expect to see done on "Survivor" or some other "reality"-TV show and exactly the kind of thing that has corrupted Washington.

In his campaign suspension speech, Mitt Romney made an interesting observation. Even though McCain was well ahead of Romney in the delegate count, he was only slightly ahead in terms of overall votes and states won. This is because a back-room deal had been struck with Rudy Giuliani a year earlier making the big states like California, New York, and Illinois winner-take-all. Coming from a big city, Giuliani thought he had the best chance of attracting the votes from other states with big cities such as California and Illinois. Giuliani was able to convince the Republican Convention to go along because he hoped the winner-take-all situation would result in an early front runner and result in the ability of the party to launch their general election campaign earlier. Giuliani miscalculated or was purposefully mislead by not engaging in the early primary states and the winner-take-all set up served to benefit McCain and TKO Romney.

The Republican Party knew that Huckabee wasn't a viable presidential candidate. Even Huckabee knew he wasn't a viable candidate as he was seen blatantly "kissing up" to McCain during their last 3 or 4 debates. After coming in a distant 3rd in Florida, Huckabee was rightfully criticized for staying in the race. He stayed in the race for one reason and one reason only-- to serve as spoiler. He knew he would fracture the conservative base who were choosing between himself and Romney allowing McCain to just edge Romney in the polls because of the moderate vote. I'm sure someone may have told Huckabee that he may be considered for VP. That will never happen. McCain and the Republican Party would have no respect for the pawn they have used in their political chess game.

Dr. Richard Land, the President of the Southern Baptist Convention, (who has made numerous appearances in the media), appeared tonight "The News Hour with Jim Lehrer" to comment on Mitt Romney's withdrawal. After commenting on numerous political policies, he said he was happy with McCain because he was pro-life and that's what was important to him. I can't say I would be surprised to learn that Huckabee was urged to stay in the race by the Southern Baptist Convention through Super Tuesday to hurt Romney. It is not secret that Evangelical leaders didn't want Romney as the nominee because, according to them, having a Mormon as president would have served to somehow "legitimize" the LDS faith and lead to more LDS conversions (heaven forbid).

Friday, January 18, 2008

Evangelicals: Mitt Romney is a PRO-LIFE Champion

Having spoken with many of my evangelical friends about Mitt Romney, their beef with Romney is not his Mormonism but his portrayal by the media as a Pro-Life "flip-flopper." To evangelicals, a candidates pro-life stance is a litmus test issue. So, they understandably have a problem with the media's portrayal of him. My friends love that Romney is a Washington outsider, they love his family and conservative values, and his business and leadership experience. Now, I don't know Mitt Romney personally, but I know dozens of people who do know him personally and have worked with him and for him. So, let me set the record strait about Mitt Romney and his Pro-Life views.

Mitt Romney is a former bishop and stake president in the LDS church. Being a stake president is akin to being a bishop over a diocese in the Catholic church. I was surprised when a friend of mine thought that Romney "wasn't a good Mormon." Romney has always and remains one of the best examples of mormonism. The LDS church doesn't make them any finer than the Romney family. In the LDS Church you can be excommunicated for having or even assistance or counseling someone to have an abortion. Romney has always maintained and never wavered that he is personally against abortion.

The media (even Fox news) loves to play a sound bite from 1994 which has Romney during his run against Mass. Senator Kennedy sounding like he was Pro-choice. Romney lost that election and in his later win as Mass. Governor, his words on the Abortion issue were that he felt the issue should be left up to the states and that he wasn't running on a platform to overturn Roe v. Wade which would have been against the will of the majority of his liberal constituency. But when it was left up to Mass. and bills arrived at his desk concerning Abortion, Gay Marriage, and Euthanasia, Mitt Romney was a champion for Conservative values and LIFE every time. This is a time when we need to allow Romney's actions speak louder than a few of his words.

While Romney has been roasted by the conservative press for some early statements he made trying to get elected as a rookie politician. The conservative media has ignored the fact that no US governor has done more to fight for Conservative values than Romney. My brother-in-law, David Stewart, has been working in Augusta and living with us during the week while he waits for his home to sell in Atlanta and relocate his family to the Augusta area. David's father Monty spent a whole year away from his family at Oxford University and then was hired by Mitt Romney to fight for traditional marriage in Massachusetts.

Mitt Romney defied the odds by being a republican elected as governor to the, bluest of the blue; the most liberal of the liberal, states. And after positioning himself, he fought those "valueless" liberals on the front lines. Evangelicals, Reagan Conservatives, and supporters of traditional family values need to know the truth that Mitt Romney is one of the Great Champions in our fight for LIFE.