Thursday, November 21, 2013

Utah Attorney General John Swallow Needed to Step Down.

John Swallow resigned today and though I am obviously not in Utah these days; I pay close attention to what is happening in my home state and country. The John Swallow saga has been at the top of my news feed for weeks. If you are unsure what is happening Former State Senator Dan Liljenquist has a great op-ed in the Deseret News: (See Here).

But in a nut shell is suspected of a whole slew of misdeeds but I wanted to focus my comments on my own personal experiences and observations of Mr. Swallow.

For the few years I was heavily involved in Utah politics starting around 2001, I had the chance to casually meet John Swallow, but I definitely got to know his campaign staffers and those around him.  You see, campaign staffers know a lot more than people realize; but we are often sworn to secrecy if we want a job after.  However we are not immune to telling each other the dirt.  In a nut shell John Swallow is an ambitious person who would stop at nothing to get elected to office.  But as Oscar Wilde once said, "ambition is the last refuge of the failure."

His campaigns were always dirty, his staffers often talked about him as someone demanded to be pampered and treated like a king.  From nice cars, food and gifts.  It appears to me he has burned a lot of bridges and was limited in friends.

His press conference today was worthless and I am disappointed he couldn't even come forward.  If he really was innocent push forward and make a case, but instead he just keeps digging a hole deeper and deeper.  I love he said that because he stood strong through this he experienced the greatest blessings of his life.  Not sure how resigning shows that especially since he has tried to run for office so many times.  It is too bad, his ambition got the best of him and brought him down.

He said in the end today was a truly sad day because he was innocent, I disagree.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Substandard Candidates Should Get Less Money from the GOP

The AP had a big story today on GOP candidates getting less money from big donors because of substandard candidates losing in 2012.  (See Here)

Heading into next year's congressional elections the GOP is 6 senate seats away form a majority but spending is way down from the previous election.  With things so close to edge why isn't the GOP in full swing?  Typically a year out we would be attacking big time, especially with the issues regarding ObamaCare leaving Democrats vulnerable.

The GOP is going through a serious identity crises, with people all over the map from hard core tea-partiers to almost Democrats.  The GOP is trying hard to find a way to appeal to the masses and re-energize the party. Having been a moderate and willing to vote for whom ever is best for the job I can understand being underwhelmed by the current field of GOP candidates across the country.  So many are trying to be the voice of the GOP but I feel the GOP has splintered too much to even know what it is anymore.

Through this I have had to think are any of the Utah GOP legislators someone who represents my values and ideas 100%.  I would have to say no.  Are any of us on the GOP side, moderate or extremely right wing finding ourselves represented or have we settled for the next best thing since we are have been so against the Democrat way of view?

Well obviously a number of big players are feeling the same way and are holding the purse strings until a real candidate that can really strike chord with the GOP rises to the top.  But can the GOP even survive in its current form or will need it need to make a full swing one way or the other?

Thursday, November 14, 2013

El Salvador Elections 2014

In the next few months the El Salvador elections will be heating up here in the country.  I was interested to see former El Salvador finance minister and World Bank managing director, Dr. Juan Jose Daboub, held a meeting in Washington D.C. to discuss what to expect. The discussion was posted on PanAmPost last week (See Here).

Essentially we have three candidates:

  • Salvador Sánchez Cerén, representing the current ruling party, the Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional (FMLN)
  • Norman Quijano, current mayor of San Salvador, representing the Alianza Republicana Nacionalista (ARENA)
  • Tony Saca, former president (2004-2009), representing the Unidad coalition.

  • Tony Saca has relatively no chance of winning this election and with new info regarding his previous administrations corruption issues with the Monsignor Romero Highway; So I feel the concerns are justified.  In fact his meager 15% of the vote is simply stealing votes from Quijano, which might be the whole reason he is in the election to begin because of his outage from the ARENA party.  But in a race between Ceren and Quijano the choice comes down to who will really make changes for the country.

    Daboub says that there is no clear favorite but feels Quijano has a good chance of winning. His comment is a little concerning because of a recent poll showing Ceren finally gaining a two point lead over Quijano, as reported by the Prensa Graphica and reposted on Tim's El Salvador Blog (See Here).

    In addition Daboub says the following about ARENA and Quijano:
    Between ARENA and FMLN, Daboub said, ARENA would create a healthier environment for investment and be more likely to strengthen El Salvador’s judicial system. Governing El Salvador won’t be easy, he said, but ARENA gives him more optimism. This includes controlling the fiscal debt — almost double that of previous years — strengthening weak governmental institutions, and addressing security. Right now, he contends, innocent people must protect themselves by hiding inside their homes, while drug cartels and gangs have license to operate freely in certain areas and do whatever they want.
    Interesting that Daboub is bold to call this out as to who should win, he later goes on to say what is most important is to have an individual who will work with the United States as a partner.  Having met Quijano I could see this as a potential; however in talking to some state department officials they have told me their concerns that neither candidate is likely to be a friend to United States.

    What this country needs is a clear winner, no fraud and strong leadership to change things.  Quijano has shown the best potential of doing this as mayor of San Salvador.  From an investor stand point this country has grown more difficult and new laws have not been on the side of employer or investor.  Current president Mauricio Funes is not a solid FMLN party member and has been more of a moderate, but Sanchez Ceren is as far left as you can get.  In his new book "El Pais Que Quiero" he clearly defines a better democracy for El Salvador as country with strong redistribution of wealth and other socialistic ideas (Sanchez Ceren, 2012)  His ideas are popular because he spends more time in the poor regions of the country and is quick to show these photos in his book.

    Elections are not the same as they are in the United States.  No nominating convention (they are chosen by party leadership), no real public debate like we see and the advertisement is about half of what we are used to.  Candidates will give away food and kiss babies.  The large turnout and voter pride will be a great post from another day.

    Comments welcome.

    Sanchez Ceren, S. (2012). El pais que quiero 2014:elecciones presidenciales en el salvador. (Primero ed., p. 24). Mexico : Ocean Sur.

    Monday, November 11, 2013

    From Where I Sit Returns

    Nearly 2 years ago I put a serious pause on my blogging due to the fact my hard earned URL was stolen by a squatter while I was moving to Latin America.  Now thanks to some hard work and patience I was able to win back my URL and begin posting again.  I am excited to have my old website back; I had thought about moving to Wordpress, but I am too comfortable with Blogger these we will see where this new adventure really takes me.

    What all this being said, my blog before reflected mostly on a few random views and a lot about the politics of South Ogden City, now I feel it is more about what I see in the world and help me to make sense of it all.  I had the great opportunity to visit the country of Nicaragua last week.  I have spent nearly 5 years in El Salvador over the past 12 and this was my first time to another Central America Country.  I was shocked at the stark differences:

    • nobody carried a gun
    • everyone dropped their s
    • cultural dances and traditions were stronger
    • not nearly as developed or americanized

    Yet with all the differences and lack of resources, these seemed to be doing better than El Salvador.  The economy was more stable, GDP more diverse, and every eager to make things happen to bring more investors to the country.  I didn't notice one of the more prevalent realities is the still lack of understanding of family and responsibility.  Over my years here in El Salvador I often run into young boys and girls who already have children at the age of 15 or younger.  My cab driver in Nicaragua was no exception to this rule.  31 years old, had 3 children the oldest was 17.  His 17 year old would have been born when he was 14 years old, and she already had two kids.  This made him a 31 year old grandfather.  Not married, but driving a taxi and proud of it.

    Tough reality of what is going in the world, not just here in Latin America but in the world in general.