Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Sarko vs. Ackmanenidajihad

First, from Reuters:

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Monday a diplomatic push by the world's powers to rein in Tehran's nuclear program was the only alternative to "an Iranian bomb or the bombing of Iran."

The response, from Breitbart:

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Tuesday brushed off a warning by Nicolas Sarkozy that Iran risked being bombed over its nuclear drive, saying his "inexperienced" French counterpart did not know what he was talking about.
"He (Sarkozy) only recently came to power and wants to find a place for himself in the world," Ahmadinejad told reporters.

"He is still inexperienced, meaning that maybe he does not really understand the meaning of his own words.

"I think what he said is for the consumption of his inner circles. For us, it is of no political value."

Here, at the Occasional Observer, we have the inside story of what happened next.

Pan to: Cheney, on a video conference with Sarko.

[Cheney motioning to "the button"] You want this, don't you? The hate is swelling in you now. Take your Mirage 2000N's. Use them. Mokmood is unarmed. Strike him down with them. Give in to your anger. With each passing moment you make yourself more my, er, nevermind...

We have also obtained a photo of Grand Moff Cheney's apprentice:



Many Bothans died so that we could bring you this information.

Happy Birthday


Guess this seasoned citizen doesn't care for Mayor Bloomberg or his "health" ordinances. Good luck catching her, Bloomy (or PM Brown, for that matter)!

HT: Drudge

Drudge

Drudge always has some witty summaries, but the collection this morning are h-i-larious:

BROKEBACK BATHROOM: SENATOR BUSTED IN AIRPORT SEX STING...

CRAIG'S LIST: TERROR IN THE TOILETS...

His Own Private Idaho...

In South Africa they have maps

Give her credit: she, as TR once said, had the courage to get in the ring. And it doesn't take much courage to take pot shots from the sidelines.

That said: ouch, that hurts.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Romney, triangulated

As time passes, I become more convinced that Mitt's potential as a candidate is being realized. One of his strongest qualities as a political leader, that I cited as a reason for supporting him, was his ability to defang political attacks through articulate reasoning, personal charisma, and astute political strategy. The anti-Bush, if you will.

The release of Mitt's health care plan appears to confirm the third point above: his political strategy here appears flawless. As Jennifer Rubin notes, Mitt has basically co-opted Rudy's market-based tax-incentive laden health care plan, and stepped back from his own mandatory personal insurance plan that he saw to fruition in Massachussets.

Rudy backers will undoubtedly claim this as a victory, but Mitt has them fooled. Since the beginning of this campaign, he has defended his "Romney-care" plan not as a silver bullet, but merely as a big step forward over the status quo in MA. At the same time, he consistently pointed out that it might not be the way to go at the national level. By letting Rudy move first and issue his plan, Mitt was able to follow suit and prevent Rudy from getting to the right of him on this issue, one that is sure to be a big one as this cycle heats up.

Rudy will say, "thanks for copying me! I am the real leader and Mitt's a follower." Mitt will counter with, "the best leader is the person who has actually been able to shepherd health care legislation to become law. I've done it. Rudy hasn't. I got the best market based reform passed in MA I could. And now I'm going to the same at the federal level. Only difference is, we can get a better reform done at the federal level."

Rudy's been outflanked.

Next up, Hillary. Mitt's got her dead to rights. Successfully reformed and improved the health care system? Mitt 1, Hill 0. Passed a reform that balanced the needs of the poor, the needs of employers, the needs of practitioners, with a bias towards market forces (as opposed to bureaucrats) pricing services? Mitt 2, Hill 0.

So on health care, Mitt seems to have out-triangulated Rudy and Hill. Or one could say, from a political strategy standpoint, he's more Clintonesque than than the Clinton running for office.
Monday, August 20, 2007

The swing demographic: idgits


In The Know: Candidates Compete For Vital Idgit Vote

HT: streiff @ RedState
Saturday, August 18, 2007

Challenge accepted, SHK

More funny you tube clips.

This one should probably be addressed to the jokers at Foomair instead of your average High School student.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Coaching pointers

Here's a good role model. Those of you with kids take notes..

A classic.

Robbing from the taxpayers...but also from our men in uniform

While I'm glad this thievery was discovered, it took far too long.

I hope the perps are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. How one could sleep knowing they were defrauding the Armed Forces out of their supply budget in a time of war, I have no idea.

Romney goes 2 for 2

With a solid win in Illinois straw poll, plus predicted win in NH, Romney should pick up momentum as per his campaign's original plan.
Thursday, August 16, 2007

Dutch bishop

This is one of the most absurd things I've ever heard: a Dutch bishop suggesting Christians refer to God as Allah, to promote unity with Muslims. Best response quote in the article:

"Sure. Lets call God Allah. Lets then call a church a mosque and pray five times a day. Ramadan sounds like fun," wrote Welmoet Koppenhol.
Wednesday, August 15, 2007

When it rains, it pours

And the wheels continue to come off for China, with the latest being lead in baby bibs. There are too many product and food safety issues to be ignored much longer. China has been growing too fast for too long, at the expense of quality and safety. This will result in a backlash, and I believe increased costs of Chinese goods.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Election '08

Interesting article here, especially if you scroll about halfway down and get to analysis of different VP candidates.

Warning

Comptroller general claims US is on the brink of going the way of Rome. Interesting article, although quite brief. I'd like to see his more detailed analysis of the similarities.
Monday, August 13, 2007

If it's not Scottish, it's crap!

Or so claimed Mike Myers years ago. Certainly seems to be the case for Chinese-made goods, with luxury hotel toothpaste being the latest recall. For those of you who have lived under a rock for the past month or two, you may not have heard that the CEO of the toymaker associated with lead paint just killed himself. Or that China recently executed their food and drug chief for accepting bribes and approving meds that killed at least 10 people.

For the past year or two several people have been calling out that China's growth rate can't continue like that forever without some major issues along the way. Those issues, namely quality, seem to be coming to the forefront. I believe this is going to cause a major setback to their rapid expansion, and could result in a backlash against "Made in China." On the other hand, as many are finding out, avoiding Chinese products - especially in food - is nearly impossible.

Rove

Wow, there are probably so many levels to Rove's exit that we will never even begin to understand. The most likely is that the Republican machine is working behind the scenes, trying to boost Bush's popularity over the next year as much as possible, to give us a chance in '08. From a political point of view, it makes sense. Right now Congress' (i.e., Dems') approval rating is in the toilet, and with the troop surge apparently showing some progress in Iraq Bush's numbers are slowly edging up. Trying to capitalize on this momentum so that independent voters don't just write off the Republican party is critical. Rumsfeld, Rove, Cheney, and Wolfowitz were the four largest targets in the administration, and now three are gone.

The irony is, at an abstract level I believe the goal of their neoconservative policies is correct, they just didn't understand the execution. I believe the only long-term guarantor we have of peace and stability in the world is for societies to be relatively free, open democracies. Only when people have access to free media, and feel like they have a stake in the game, will they fully reject terrorism and kick it out of their backyards. It would be great if we could simply have installed democracy painlessly in Iraq, but clearly nation-building on our own is not the right approach. Perhaps the right approach is to be the shining city on a hill touted by Reagan, and use more subversive means to enable populations to overthrow dictatorial regimes.
Saturday, August 11, 2007

Ames Results In!

And Mitt did what he needed to do. Huckabee makes a claim to be a serious tier 1 candidate. Brownback may survive, but Huckabee threw a hammerlock on his campaign's prospects, especially considering that BBack spent far more and did far more grass-roots organizational work than Huck did in preparation for Ames. T. Thompson will close up shop in the next few days, IMHO.

Here's where what it looked like:

1. Romney 31%
2. Huckabee 18.1%
3. Brownback 15.3%
4. Tancredo 13.7%
5. Paul 9.1%
6. T. Thompson 7.3%
7. F. Thompson 1.6%
8. Giuliani 1.3%
9. Hunter 1.2%
10. McCain 0.7%
11. Cox 0.003%

For the record, here were my predictions:

1 Romney
2 Huckabee (called the big news of the night)
3 Tancredo
4 Brownback
5 Giuliani
6 Paul
7 Thompson F
8 Thompson T
9 McCain
10 Hunter
11 Cox
Friday, August 10, 2007

MSM Journalism at its finest

Thanks for this one, Reuters. I needed a laugh.

News agency Reuters has been forced to admit that footage it released last week purportedly showing Russian submersibles on the seabed of the North Pole actually came from the movie Titanic.



HT: RedState
Thursday, August 09, 2007

Becoming Illegal

I received this gem via email and figured I'd post it for those who didn't get it:

Becoming Illegal: An actual letter from an Iowa resident and sent to his
senator.

The Honorable Tom Harkin
731 Hart Senate Office Building
Phone (202) 224 3254
Washington DC, 20510

Dear Senator Harkin,

As a native Iowan and excellent customer of the Internal Revenue Service, I am writing to ask for your assistance. I have contacted the Department of Homeland Security in an effort to determine the process for becoming an illegal alien and they referred me to you.

My primary reason for wishing to change my status from U.S. Citizen to illegal alien stems from the bill which was recently passed by the Senate and for which you voted. If my understanding of this bill's provisions is accurate, as an illegal alien who has been in the United States for five years, all I need to do to become a citizen is to pay a $2,000 fine and income taxes for three of the last five years. I know a
good deal when I see one and I am anxious to get the process started before everyone figures it out.

Simply put, those of us who have been here legally have had to pay taxes every year so I'm excited about the prospect of avoiding two years of taxes in return for paying a $2,000 fine. Is there any way that I can apply to be illegal retroactively? This would yield an excellent result for me and my family because we paid heavy taxes in 2004 and 2005.

Additionally, as an illegal alien I could begin using the local emergency room as my primary health care provider. Once I have stopped paying premiums for medical insurance, my accountant figures I could save almost $10,000 a year.

Another benefit in gaining illegal status would be that my daughter would receive preferential treatment relative to her law school applications, as well as "in-state" tuition rates for many colleges throughout the United States for my son.

Lastly, I understand that illegal status would relieve me of the burden of renewing my driver's license and making those burdensome car insurance premiums. This is very important to me given that I still have college age children driving my car.

If you would provide me with an outline of the process to become illegal retroactively if possible) and copies of the necessary forms, I would be most appreciative. Thank you for your assistance.

Your Loyal Constituent,
Donald Ruppert
Burlington, IA
Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Meese on the ISG

Some enemies are worse than others

While it's not news to readers of Occ Obs, China represents a real threat to U.S. interests in a way that other enemies of our state do not. They are aggressively seeking to expand their sphere of influence in the Far East, and want the US removed as an impediment to regional Chinese hegemony. Our massive trade imbalance with China--which we have refused to confront--has led to the Chinese government stockpiling billions upon billions in US currency and dollar-denominated notes. And now they are threatening to use those currency reserves as a political weapon to prevent us from standing up for US firms and US workers:

The Chinese government has begun a concerted campaign of economic threats against the United States, hinting that it may liquidate its vast holding of US treasuries if Washington imposes trade sanctions to force a yuan revaluation.

Two officials at leading Communist Party bodies have given interviews in recent days warning - for the first time - that Beijing may use its $1.33 trillion (£658bn) of foreign reserves as a political weapon to counter pressure from the US Congress. Shifts in Chinese policy are often announced through key think tanks and academies.

Described as China's "nuclear option" in the state media, such action could trigger a dollar crash at a time when the US currency is already breaking down through historic support levels.

It would also cause a spike in US bond yields, hammering the US housing market and perhaps tipping the economy into recession. It is estimated that China holds over $900bn in a mix of US bonds.

Just when our economy is in a credit crunch, our military is tied up and extending tours to meet their obligations, and our international diplomatic leverage is at a post Cold War low water mark. Should somebody tell them not to kick us while we're down? Surely they don't want to antagonize their good friends, right?

Somewhere on the campaign trail, Duncan Hunter is wishing he didn't have to say "I told you so."


HT: Drudge

Just where are we in Iraq?

Michael Yon, who knows of which he speaks, sees encouraging signs on the ground:

I know for certain that three things are different in Iraq now from any other time I've seen it.

1. Iraqis are uniting across sectarian lines to drive Al Qaeda in all its disguises out of Iraq, and they are empowered by the success they are having, each one creating a ripple effect of active citizenship.

2. The Iraqi Army is much more capable now than it was in 2005. It is not ready to go it alone, but if we keep working, that day will come.

3. Gen. Petraeus is running the show. Petraeus may well prove to be to counterinsurgency warfare what Patton was to tank battles with Rommel, or what Churchill was to the Nazis.

And yes, in case there is any room for question, Al Qaeda still is a serious problem in Iraq, one that can be defeated. Until we do, real and lasting security will elude both the Iraqis and us.

Bill Kristol agrees that things are getting better, and says that reality is going to handcuff opponents of the war and split the Democratic party:

...the public debate will move from a referendum on Bush's conduct of the war over the past four years to a discussion of the choices ahead, as Gen. Petraeus's testimony in September draws near. The public will finally have to consider seriously the implications of giving up on Iraq, as opposed to supporting the continued prosecution of a war we might well win. This debate should bring home to nervous Republicans in particular the truth that panicked abandonment of the war effort is the worst gambit available to them (to say nothing of the most dishonorable). Meanwhile, Democrats, who have been pandering to their antiwar base, will increasingly see that they have--as the third-ranking Democrat in the House, James Clyburn, acknowledged last week--"a problem." If Petraeus reports progress, Clyburn acknowledged, then "I think there would be enough support" among moderate Democrats "to want to stay the course, and if the Republicans were to stay united as they have been, then it would be a problem for us."

Joe Klein says, "not so fast." Kristol's interpretation of the facts, according to Klein, is glossing over the deeper reality that success in fighting AQII is not the same as restoring order to Iraq, which remains in his view an irreconcilably divided nation:

The U.S. military and the Sunni tribes could drive every last foriegn jihadi out of the country and Iraq would still be in the midst of a deep and profound crisis that might spread into a regional war of Sunnis v. Shi'ites or, more likely, a tribal war of all against all within Iraq.

I am making two assumptions here:

First, I agree with the prevailing analysis of the U.S. intelligence community--an analysis people like Kristol studiously ignore--that the Nuri al-Maliki's national unity government is a complete failure, that there is no immediate prospect of political reconciliation.

Second, that "soft" partition plans like the one offered by Joe Biden and Les Gelb will founder on the notion that Baghdad can stand as a "federal" city. It won't. It will be an ethnically cleansed Shi'ite city before long, probably controlled by Muqtada al-Sadr.

An interesting demographic trend

It's interesting to see how some wealthy suburban communities, traditionally GOP strongholds, have begun to lean Democrat. Froma Harrop's article over at RCP makes the following observation:

The political shift toward Democrats has been noted in wealthy suburbs from Seattle to Philadelphia. In 2006, an amazing 63 percent of voters making from $150,000 to $200,000 chose Democratic candidates. Even those making over $200,000 favored Democrats, albeit by a small margin.

Will the Dems continue to embrace the Clinton/DLC agenda (balanced budget/targeted tax cuts/free trade) or revert to a more traditional liberal agenda as the one Edwards is touting (trade restrictions/pro-labor/cap gains tax hikes). They may alienate this newly found Dem voting block with the latter, but no one in the Dem primary process save Gov Richardson seems to be arguing for the former. Perhaps Bush-hatred is enough to overcome the self-interest of these suburban voters:

It's astonishing how many rich people dismiss the importance of the Bush tax cuts. They prefer to speak of the national interest, which to them means balanced budgets, a sophisticated foreign policy and concern for the environment. They also feel culturally estranged from social conservatives on such matters as abortion and stem cell research.

The Bush administration ends in January 2009. Will its departure slow Republican losses in posh suburbs? In Greenwich right now, things aren't looking up for the GOP.
Monday, August 06, 2007

Dem ticket

With each passing day it seems the Republican nightmare ticket of Clinton-Obama is less and less likely. Tension between the two candidates apparently is growing to rarely-seen levels. While no one knows how much pride Obama might be willing to swallow to get VP nomination, it does seem unlikely at this time.

Ames Straw Poll Predicitions

I made mine last week over at Race 4 '08.

I have presumed that straw poll voters will punish the national front-runners who abandoned the straw poll (Rudy, McCain). Time will tell if that bears out.

1 Romney
2 Huckabee
3 Tancredo
4 Brownback
5 Giuliani
6 Paul
7 Thompson F
8 Thompson T
9 McCain
10 Hunter
11 Cox

The Truth Exposed

As I mentioned about a year ago, one negative of the two-party system (as warned by John Adams) is the tendency to become beholden to the party and "victory", rather than focusing on truly serving the people. A hideous example of this occurred about a week ago, when Democractic House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn stated that if Gen. Petraeus' September update indicated that things were turning around in Iraq, that would be "a real big problem for us."

Wow.

I realize this war is political issue #1, but has D.C. (the city, not the blogger!!) really sunk so low that we're at a point where politicians would choose their own re-election victory over what is best for America, Americans, and American troops? If the best policy really is to withdraw troops and force Iraqis to step up, then so be it. But to be so blindly adherent to one option with complete unwillingness to consider that the best option might change over time as the situation on the ground changes--just because you don't want your party to be viewed as making the wrong call--is flat unacceptable when the stakes are this high. In this day and age of what politics has apparently become I have to give tremendous respect to McCain, who I truly believe when he says he'd rather lose an election than lose a war.
Saturday, August 04, 2007

Bourbon

Catching up on my BW reading, came across this article about the Bourbon Trail which I'm sure will be of interest.

Mitt winning praise from the folks

As he's been running his "Ask Mitt Anything" tour, in which he gives the mic over to the audience for some unplanned Q&A, there's been a lot of good feedback over his ability to respond to tough questions off-the-cuff. Twice in the past few days, there have been incidents where an audience member loses control of their temper and goes off on a rant (the first was a waitress in Manchester; and then yesterday, this).

The common thread between the two events was that the questioners lost control of their emotions even though the target of their anger was not Mitt or even the topic he was addressing. The waitress started getting extremely upset about domestic health care while Mitt was addressing the international AIDS epidemic and the need to help Africa. Yesterday's angry audience member was upset that his nephew, who was new to the Navy, might get shipped to Iraq, and that Mitt backed the idea of victory in Iraq. Of course, Mitt was in the process of talking about how the planning and execution of the war was bungled, and that we should have done better and still can. But the guy wasn't hearing it: he'd already made up his mind that the war is lost, and that it's failure was on Mitt, before he'd even asked his question.

But it is the way that Mitt has been handling these few angry questions that is earning him kudos with the folks in attendence. Take this comment, for instance:

Claira Monier, of Goffstown, grew up in Bedford as Claira Pirozzi and said she was impressed with the way Romney “wasn’t flustered” when the audience member walked out. She also saw Romney in June in Hollis.

“He stuck to his point. I could see him in a meeting where he had to make a tough decision. He still respected and listened to the man’s opinion, even though he was discourteous to (Romney),” she said.
Friday, August 03, 2007

T-Minus 60: Bottoms up!

The Weekly Standard has been The Weekly Chapping for about 5 years now (and probably longer for those in the know). But Krauthammer, who's always interesting and occasionally right, turned in a real winner this week. His message: a wrist-slap will suffice for drinking astronauts.

Have you ever been to the shuttle launch pad? Have you ever seen that beautiful and preposterous thing the astronauts ride? Imagine it’s you sitting on top of a 12-story winged tube bolted to a gigantic canister filled with 2 million liters of liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen. Then picture your own buddies — the “closeout crew” — who met you at the pad, fastened your emergency chute, strapped you into your launch seat, sealed the hatch and waved smiling to you through the window. Having left you lashed to what is the largest bomb on planet Earth, they then proceed 200 feet down the elevator and drive not one, not two, but three miles away to watch as the button is pressed that lights the candle that ignites the fuel that blows you into space.

Three miles! That’s how far they calculate they must be to be beyond the radius of incineration should anything go awry on the launch pad on which, I remind you, these insanely brave people are sitting. Would you not want to be a bit soused? Would you be all aflutter if you discovered that a couple of astronauts — out of dozens — were mildly so? I dare say that if the standards of today’s fussy flight surgeons had been applied to pilots showing up for morning duty in the Battle of Britain, the signs in Piccadilly would today be in German...

...And for much of liftoff, the astronaut is little more than spam in a can — not pilot but guinea pig. With opposable thumbs, to be sure, yet with only one specific task: to come out alive.

And by the time the astronauts get to the part of the journey that requires delicate and skillful maneuvering — docking with the international space station, outdoor plumbing repairs in Zero G — they will long ago have peed the demon rum into their recycling units.

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