Presidential Candidate Quiz

Now that the Presidential election is just more than a year away, let’s take a quick first look at the Democratic and Republican candidates.

I decided to take a quiz about the Presidential candidates and here is the result:

  1. Theoretical Ideal Candidate (100%)
  2. Barack Obama (71%)
  3. Al Gore (not announced) (70%)
  4. Wesley Clark (not announced) (68%)
  5. Dennis Kucinich (67%)
  6. Christopher Dodd (65%)
  7. Hillary Clinton (63%)
  8. John Edwards (63%)
  9. Joseph Biden (61%)
  10. Bill Richardson (61%)
  11. Michael Bloomberg (not announced) (57%)
  12. Alan Augustson (campaign suspended) (54%)
  13. Ron Paul (48%)
  14. Mike Gravel (45%)
  15. Kent McManigal (campaign suspended) (35%)
  16. Elaine Brown (31%)
  17. John McCain (30%)
  18. Mike Huckabee (29%)
  19. Mitt Romney (29%)
  20. Chuck Hagel (not announced) (28%)
  21. Rudolph Giuliani (28%)
  22. Tommy Thompson (withdrawn) (26%)
  23. Newt Gingrich (not announced) (21%)
  24. Sam Brownback (18%)
  25. Tom Tancredo (18%)
  26. Fred Thompson (not announced) (16%)
  27. Jim Gilmore (withdrawn) (10%)
  28. Duncan Hunter (10%)

Not completely accurate, though I am a mild supporter of Senator Obama.

And here are my thoughts about some of these candidates.

Barack Obama says he is an agent of change, but he hasn’t come up with any policy that could be described as a major departure from the mainstream. He is a very good orator and seems to have decent positions on most issues but where are the winds of change?

Hillary Clinton is a deeply divisive figure so I am not sure how she would do in the general election, though she’s expected to do very well in the primaries. I think there are two major faults with her. One, she hasn’t really changed her opinion on the Iraq war. And two, she is probably the one Democrat with the most expansive ideas about executive authority. Hence she cannot be relied on to roll back the excesses of the Bush administration.

John Edwards is a generally likable politician who has offered a mea culpa on Iraq and is one of the few candidates to focus on poverty.

Can Joseph Biden please stop shouting during the debates? Thank you!

Bill Richardson has a lot of experience as a cabinet member, ambassador and governor. He is also one of the few candidates to commit to complete withdrawal from Iraq without leaving any residual forces. However, he is prone to gaffes every now and then and hasn’t really broken through to the first tier.

Let’s talk about the Republicans now, even though no Republican should be voted in even as a dogcatcher next year.

Ron Paul’s opposition to the Iraq war and some of his libertarian ideas interest me but then he does sound like the crazy uncle at times, sort of like Mike Gravel does in the Democratic debates.

John McCain has only one place to go: Down! What happened to McCain? A darling of the independents in 2000, he’s now stuck with not one but two unpopular policies: Immigration reform and the Iraq war. How did the Iraq war become his?

Mitt Romney sounds like such a fake. Was he always like that or is it a new thing? Did the Massachusetts voters elect him despite his fakery? Does his disowning of Massachusetts even convince anyone?

Tom Tancredo is after the bigot vote and thus won’t get anywhere because who wants to be identified as hater.

Fred Thompson sounds like the farcical version of Reagan or something. His acting doesn’t impress me and neither does his political persona or his positions.

Mike Huckabee is the religious politician and you know how that combo irritates me. So it speaks to the qualities of the Republican field that Huckabee is the one Republican who has impressed me a little. He seems to be a down to earth fellow who believes in Biblical literalism but does care about the poor and the ordinary.

And finally we come to Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York. If you think we are screwed now due to Bush, wait till Giuliani becomes President. The guy is absolutely nuts. Every single New Yorker I know, even those who voted for him as mayor, thinks Giuliani should not be within a million miles of the White House. Listen, for example, to Rudy Giuliani going crazy over ferret ownership.

The Last Mughal: The Fall of a Dynasty: Delhi, 1857

This is a great book about Bahadur Shah Zafar, Delhi and the events of 1857. It makes everything come alive. If you are interested in Indian history, it’s a must read.

The Last Mughal is about the last Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar. It mainly covers the events of the Mutiny (or War of Independence) of 1857 as seen in Delhi.

The 1857 war of independence was basically a mutiny of Indian soldiers in the Bengal Army of East India Company. Almost all of the Bengal Army rebelled and a lot of them ended up in Delhi, nominally under the flag of the last Mughal emperor. Bahadur Shah Zafar wasn’t at all eager for the rebellion, but he did give them his blessing when the rebels came to Delhi. Interestingly, most of the soldiers were high caste Hindus from the eastern Hindi belt and not the so-called martial races of India (an idea which probably came later). The British retook India with the help of Punjabi Sikhs and Muslims, Pathans and Gurkhas etc. (here come the “martial races”) and then came the massacres and the hangings. Ironically, the British blamed Muslims for the rebellion when actually it had the support of both Muslims and Hindus.

William Dalrymple is a good writer and the book is a fun read. He creates an image of Delhi in 1857 in your mind and The Last Mughal is worth reading just for that.

For a more detailed and academic review, read Chapati Mystery where there is a great discussion in the comments too. And William Dalrymple replies to that discussion.

A Mighty Heart

This is a movie about the kidnapping and murder of journalist Daniel Pearl in Pakistan in 2002. I rate it 7/10.

A Mighty Heart is a movie about the kidnapping and murder of the journalist Daniel Pearl in early 2002. It is based on the book of the same name by Mariane Pearl, Daniel’s wife.

Daniel Pearl doesn’t have much time onscreen here as the movie is about his kidnapping and the ensuing search. The main focus thus are the Pakistani law enforcement, of whom Irfan Khan playing the role of “Captain” did a good job, and Mariane. I was actually surprised to see that Angelina Jolie did some decent acting as Mariane, though there were some accent issues. Will Patton as the US diplomatic security guy looked bad, either intentionally or unintentionally, due to the constant smirk on his face.

I half expected the murder video released by the terrorists to be shown in the movie. However, only a couple of seconds of Danny were shown and not the gory parts of that video, which was a relief.

Overall, it was a decent movie. I rate it 7/10.

رمضان اور روش ہشانا مبارک

آج سے روزے شروع ہو گئے ہیں۔ رمضان مبارک۔ اور روش ہشانا یعنی نیا سال بھی مبارک۔

آج یہاں پہلا روزہ تھا۔ آپ سب کو رمضان مبارک ہو۔

ساتھ ہی آج عبرانی کیلنڈر کے نئے سال کا آغاز ہوا۔ آپ کو روش ہشانا بھی مبارک ہو۔ Shana Tova!

Dark Star

This is an interesting novel about espionage and history on the eve of World War II seen from the perspective of a Pravda journalist and spy.

Dark Star by Alan Furst is a great spy novel about a Soviet (Polish Jewish) journalist in Western Europe who gets involved in espionage.

Pravda foreign correspondent Andre Szara starts out by doing small spying tasks for the NKVD until his whole life is taken over by espionage. Then he gets involved in trying to save Jewish lives by trading some German information with the British.

It is a good spy and historical novel and a fun read. I enjoyed it very much.

Ed Wood

Ed Wood is a comedic biopic of a really bad movie director. We didn’t like it much.

Ed Wood is a black comedy biopic of the worst movie director of all time, Edward J. Wood Jr.

While Wood does look like a really bad director from what’s shown in this movie, the movie itself failed to impress us. Amber stopped watching one third of the way. I finished the movie but didn’t like it much. I would rate it 5/10.

Angry Arab in Pakistan

The Angry Arab visits Pakistan and writes about lizards in his inimitable style. All his posts about Pakistan are worth reading.

The Angry Arab went to Pakistan a couple of months ago as a speaker at the International Islamic University. His blog posts about the visit were amusing and interesting. His experience of running scared from the lizards so common in Pakistan was especially funny.

Here is a list of his posts: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38.

Here are some of his concluding remarks about Pakistan:

Prior to my departure to Islamabad, my kind host called me from Pakistan and strongly urged me (for my own safety) to refrain from ever using the words “atheist” or “secular” or “communist.” Just to make sure I get the point, he always wrote to me making the same point. The political climate there was more liberalized than I expected: it is not that I met people who were critical of Musharraf. I did not meet any one who was NOT critical of Musharraf. But the liberalized political climate did not extend to the Islam question. I strongly felt that there was excessive obsession with Islam in a country that is overwhelmingly Islamic in religious affiliation. The term of reference was so Islamic in conversations and media that I was ready to embrace the secularism of the Turkish generals. It was always assumed that everybody was Islamic. After one talk, which coincided with the prayer time, my host quickly whisked me away because he did want the audience to notice that I don’t pray. I was quite bothered with the too many headlines and news items in Urdu newspapers about Salman Rushdie. Is this really the urgent matter of the day with the country suffering from extreme poverty and a military government? And in my Arabic talk at the Usul Ad-Din College, I made a side mocking remark against Ayman Adh-Dhawahiri, and I noticed in people’s faces that they were not pleased with that one remark, although they were quite pleased with my talk about the study of Islam. And I once was pissed. I am VERY bothered when somebody—anybody—tries to suggest that Palestine is an Islamic cause or question. One member of the audience in one talk said just that. I had to tell him: Islamic matter? You think that Palestinian Christians care less about Palestine than Palestine Muslims? I had to tell him that I knew Palestinian Christians who gave their lives for Palestine. George Habash cares less about Palestine that Mr. Muhammad Dahlan? That angers me when I hear it. I did not understand why a majority Muslim country can’t relax a bit about the Islam factor.

Mostly on the mark I would say, though of course the Angry Arab did not get to see the Westernized elite much, who are also making inroads into the middle classes.