Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Solid Citizenship Award



Thomas Sowell. The Economist. The Pundit. The voice of reason crying out in the wilderness against the trumped-up nonsense that comes from those who profit from racial animosity (you know who they are).

A quick web search would lead you to truck loads of great material from his gifted pen, but I was spurred to issue the second Occ Obs S.C.A. by his most recent column. It's a relatively simple piece, pointing out how, as a society, we could be so much better than we are if we would assume the best of those around us, instead of the worst. Coming from a man who writes text books on economics, this column is more of a letter, an exhortation, like one you'd get from a parent or a grandparent rather than a professor. And for many conservatives like myself, that's exactly the spirit in which we receive his wisdom.

I'll copy a portion of his column below, though I would encourage any of you unfamiliar with his writings to do some more looking around:

Twice within the past few years, I have been pulled over by the police for driving at night without my headlights on. My car is supposed to turn on the headlights automatically when the light outside is below a certain level, but sometimes I accidentally brush against the controls and inadvertently switch them to manual.

Both times I thanked the policeman because he may well have saved my life. Neither time did I get a ticket or even a warning. In each case, the policeman was white.

Recently a well-known black journalist told me of a very different experience. He happened to be riding along in a police car driven by a white policeman. Ahead of them was a car driving at night with no headlights on and, in the dark, it was impossible to see who was driving it.

When the policeman pulled the car over, a black driver got out and, when the policeman told him that he was driving without his lights on, the driver said, "You only pulled me over because I am black!"

This was said even though he saw the black man who was with the policeman. The driver got a ticket.

Later, when the journalist asked the cop how often he got such responses from black drivers, the reply was "About 80 percent of the time"...

...Recently I pulled off to the side of a highway to take a picture of the beautiful bay below, in Pacifica, California. After I had finished and was starting to pack up my equipment, a police car pulled off to the side of the highway behind me.

"What's going on here?" the policeman asked.

"Photography," I said.

"You are not allowed to park here," he said. "It's dangerous."

"All right," I said, "I am packing to leave right now."

"Incidentally," he said as he turned to get back in his car, "You can get a better view of the bay from up on Roberts Road."

I then drove up on Roberts Road and, sure enough, got a better view of the bay. And I didn't get a ticket or a warning.

In a world where young blacks, especially, are bombarded with claims that they are being unfairly targeted by police, and where a general attitude of belligerence is being promoted literally in word and song, it is hard not to wonder whether some people's responses to policemen do not have something to do with the policemen's responses to them.

Neither the police nor people in any other occupation always do what is right but automatic belligerence is not the answer.

Hillary

Apparently Hillary really stunk up the joint last night during Dem presidential candidate debate. I think a major thing Republicans have in their favor is that she is the anti-Bill: the more people see and hear her, the less I think they will like her. She is the opposite of charismatic with her shrill, cold, detached tone. If we can throw in being on the wrong side of certain issues and/or apparent waffling, that could really hurt her.

The #1 thing I think most voters (especially critical swing voters) are looking for in '08 is a straight-talking, principled, and intelligent leader. Straight-talking is where McCain and Rudy will have an advantage over Mitt, but I think he can address that and even out the field. Hillary has to walk a fine line to appease all radical elements of the Dem party and may not be able to be as clearly committed to a specific position - she will try to be all things to all people, but I think that's a tough sell in '08.

Giuliani's aide de camp loses her mind

I don't know if you caught Biden's reasonably accurate broadside on Rudy last night, "that a sentence for Rudolph W. Giuliani consists of a noun, a verb and 9/11.", What kind of an "official campaign response" is this:

As the pundits work to figure out who won the debate tonight, its pretty clear Rudy Giuliani was the real winner. It is increasingly apparent Rudy is the one the Democrats are most worried about running against in the general election.
Senator Biden’s comments were of particular interest. The good senator is quite correct that there are many differences between Rudy and him. For starters, Rudy rarely reads prepared speeches and when he does he isn’t prone to ripping off the text from others. And, Senator Biden certainly falls in to the bucket of those on the stage tonight who have never had executive experience and have never run anything. Wait, I take that back, Senator Biden has never run anything but his mouth.

Such a desperate attack from Senator Biden is to be expected considering I — Katie Levinson — have a better chance of becoming President than he does.


Any sentence that begins with "Wait, I take that back" belongs on dKos and not coming out of a candidate's campaign. Leave that kind of snark to the surrogates.
________________________________________

BTW, on the topic of the Dem Debate, I don't know if any of you watched it, but what is with their penchant of referring to each other like old drinking buddies. "Me and Joe", "Chris is right on this", "John said", etc. What the heck? How about a little respect for your offices? Is it asking too much to call a United States Senator, oh, I don't know, "Senator"? I know being a Democrat is all about sinking to the lowest common denominator, but come on...
Tuesday, October 30, 2007

A pre-Halloween scare for Fredo

I just found this headline this morning:



Funny thing is, I was just in a Pennsylvania Forest this past weekend, and I think I got a look at the creature. You make the call:



UPDATE: This creature has since been identified in the comments (ht: MB) as HomoCrapulusStolidus. I am commencing research and will bring forth any new information as it becomes available.

All Bogged Down and Nowhere to Go

Luckily it looks like the roadblocks I raised about a year ago for the (then) newly-elected Dem Congress are coming to fruition. As predicted, Pelosi & Co. have neither been able to come up with any actual plans nor unify their party to effect any noticeable change in Congressional policies. This has resulted in overwhelmingly negative approval ratings for Congress (~11%), and now Pelosi / Boxer / Feinstein are watching their individual numbers plummet as well.

I think this was to be expected, and it underscores what we knew all along. The Democrats are great at denigrating Republicans and their proposals, but when it came time for them to actually stand for something, they had nothing. No great alternatives to Iraq, no great plan for national security, no great plan for changing global view of US, no great plan for trade or economy. Oh wait, I guess I'm forgetting the "gem" of a tax revision bill recently floated by Rangel. With plans like this, gridlock in Congress couldn't have come at a better time.
Friday, October 26, 2007

Wow! They Got Something Right!

As much as I feel that Congress is terrible, I need to give them credit for getting something right. The Senate passed a bill to extend the moratorium on taxes on the Internet. The House had previously passed a similar bill. Hopefully it'll get to W's desk soon.
Thursday, October 25, 2007

Congratulations Judge Southwick

Leslie Southwick was confirmed by the Senate to the 5th Circuit yesterday, ending years of delay and a shameful smear campaign on the part of Senate Dems, who have basically opposed his nomination because he "isn't racially sensitive enough." At the same time, they deny calling him "a racist," though clearly they've spent years implying he's a racist. Why men like Judge Southwick (who, BTW, obtained the highest rating possible by the ABA, a unanimous Well Qualified; obtained an age waiver to join the Army Reserves; and volunteered for duty in Iraq at age 50) bother to seek these positions is beyond me. I'm glad they do though, else the Dems strategy would already have worked. Shame, shame, shame on the Senate Democrats who have turned the judicial confirmation process, quite intentionally, into a public spectacle of tar-and-feathering in an attempt to scare away qualified originalist jurists and hopefully take a few nominees out, along the way.

The press continues to get it wrong as well. Check out this headline from The Hill:

Southwick’s saga ends with win for GOP

Yes, there is some truth to the headline, but it shows the faulty premise that underlies the reasoning of many in the press. That one party "wins" and one party "loses" when a qualified judge is confirmed. This is completely wrong. Both parties--and the American people-- win when a qualified judge is confirmed.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Ponnuru on McCain

Ramesh Ponnuru, outstanding author ("Party of Death") and the guy who puts the "C" in conservative, repeated his endorsement of McCain with the following interesting analysis:

Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani differ in a lot of ways, but as candidates they have one important feature in common: Their vulnerabilities in the primaries are also vulnerabilities in the general election. Romney’s Mormonism and flip-flopping are political liabilities both with Republican primary voters and with the electorate at large. So too with Giuliani’s support for abortion and his messy personal life: They will cost him votes both in the primaries and, if he makes it through them, in the general election.

John McCain has a different situation. Almost all of the features that hurt him in the primaries — from his willingness to break with his party to his campaign-finance legislation to his belief that global warming is a real problem — would help him in the general election. Even at this stage of the campaign, he is doing slightly better than Giuliani in polls testing the Republican candidates against Hillary Clinton. (Both McCain and Giuliani do much better than Romney or Fred Thompson in these polls, but keep in mind that McCain and Giuliani are better known.)

My own view is that McCain would be the strongest general-election candidate the Republicans could put up next year. He is solid on almost all of the important issues: the war, judges, entitlements, abortion, trade. . . Even on taxes, he has righted himself. He voted against the Bush tax cuts, but he has never voted to raise income taxes and, this spring, ruled out any such move in an interview with me...

Sometimes people remember that they dislike someone even when they have forgotten what inspired their dislike. I think something like this has happened to McCain: His biggest problem with conservatives isn’t that they have had so many disagreements, but that they have a bad impression of him. If he is to win the nomination, he needs to do something to make them take a fresh look.

I think this is, in large part, quite true. My own opposition to McCain at the beginning of the cycle was over the fact that, as a Senator, he has always seemed to promote himself over principle. As the cycle has gone on, that concern has evaporated for two reasons: (1) he seems less self-promoting when you're reminded of his bio, what with his self-sacrifice and hero status in a class of their own; and (2) the field seems more self promoting, what with a bunch of guys jockeying for the Presidency with every breath they take. With my personal objections fading to the background, McCain's bio continuing to generate respect, and his policies clearly conservative, I can no longer reject him out of hand. (PS, still have my grudges over Gof14 and McCain-Kennedy, but neither are disqualifying-- especially since CIR never passed and he's admitted that the people want border security first).

That said, Ponnuru's ultimate suggestion for McCain makes little sense to me:

I think he should do something dramatic: Renounce ambition for a second term. He should say that he intends not just to win the presidency but to win a mandate for the few big things he really wants to accomplish: fixing entitlements and beating terrorists. A one-term limit would instantly separate McCain from the pack, making the other Republican contenders look self-interested by comparison. Concentrating on issues such as terrorism and entitlements would also play to his strengths with conservatives, and distract attention from his weaknesses.

I’m unclear on why Ponnuru has been pushing this idea (and K-Lo, BTW, has been endorsing Ponnuru's proposal). Rather than making McCain seem less self-interested than his opponents, as Ramesh states, I think the one-term idea just refocuses attention on McCain’s biggest vulnerability: his age. People aren’t likely to say, “I’ll vote for this guy, even though I don't think he's the best candidate, simply because we’ll only be stuck with him for 4 years and not for 8.” That reasoning just doesn’t wash for me.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Surge continues to produce positive results

From the AP:

BAGHDAD (AP) — October is on course to record the second consecutive decline in U.S. military and Iraqi civilian deaths and Americans commanders say they know why: the U.S. troop increase and an Iraqi groundswell against al-Qaida and Shiite militia extremists.

Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch points to what the military calls "Concerned Citizens" — both Shiites and Sunnis who have joined the American fight. He says he's signed up 20,000 of them in the past four months.

"I've never been more optimistic than I am right now with the progress we've made in Iraq. The only people who are going to win this counterinsurgency project are the people of Iraq. We've said that all along. And now they're coming forward in masses,"

The article goes on to point out we're on track to suffer 37 casualties in October, the lowest total since March '06, and down from 65 last month.

Fred's NH campaign manager goes turncoat,

and joins Team McCain. If you want to read some scathing comments that should give any Fred supporters second thoughts, check out his reasoning here.

Rating the candidates

Interesting interview here with Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. He lays out a particularly important message for Romney, and I think it will be interesting to see if and how Romney addresses the Mormon issue over time. What is encouraging to me though is that he says Mitt can have a great shot with the Southern evangelicals, so long as he follows Land's advice.

The Huckabee Train Starts a-Rolling

Jonathan Alter at Newsweek wonders if he's the "GOP's Best Bet?"

The GOP is in a deep hole and keeps digging. Even after Mike Huckabee won big among attendees at last week's "Values Voters Convention," many evangelicals have been telling the former Arkansas governor—and onetime Baptist minister—that they like him but won't back him because he can't beat Hillary Clinton. They have it exactly backward. He may be the only Republican candidate with a decent chance to beat the Democrats next November.

Huckabee? Yes, Huckabee...

Huckabee comes across more hopeful than Giuliani, more believable than Romney, more intelligent than Thompson and fresher than McCain. He would hold the base and capture moderates drawn to his down-home style. His greatest asset is that he alone among the Republicans "speaks American." He connects to his audience with stories and metaphors and a geniality that can't be faked. "I'm conservative but I'm not angry about it," he likes to say, and it's true; his gentle mocking of the intraparty warfare that broke out during the Fox debate—likening it to a "demolition derby"—confirms the point. This was Reagan's secret, and it worked for Huckabee in Arkansas, where he won the votes of independents and Democrats.

Yep, the MSM is starting to recognize he's for a real and a threat to Billary.

Meanwhile, conservative establishmentarians like Nick Lowry from NR are also feeling the threat to their chosen GOP candidates, and going great guns to derail it (see Lowry's column in the Post). In the process, however, he is forced to admit Huck's talents (while ultimately concluding he's only running for VP):

With almost no organization, Huckabee lives off his words. In oratorical talent, he's something of a cross between Billy Sunday and Ronald Reagan. He rose to the leadership of the Arkansas State Baptist Convention on his speaking ability. As governor, he didn't have a speechwriter, and there was no such thing as an advanced text. His staff got reporters copies of his annual state of the state addresses by doing a quick transcription of his off-the-cuff remarks.

More pro-Huckabee punditry comes from conservative populist James Pinkerton of Newsday, who makes the case that the race is still wide open and Huck is the horse that's closing:

[In] the battle for hearts and souls within the Republican Party itself...Giuliani has the lead, though not by much. The folks at RealClear Politics.com have averaged out the most recent polls, showing Giuliani with 27 percent - 9 points ahead of former Sen. Fred Thompson. It's better to be ahead than behind, but if barely more than a quarter of primary voters support you, you aren't a very strong front-runner...

But now we come to the innermost ring. This ring is the hardest to quantify because the key metric - "buzz" - can't really be expressed in a hard number, at least not until Election Day.

But buzz is real, nonetheless. It's the juice that animates the activists, the folks who actually power a candidate to victory. As the American Revolutionary Samuel Adams put it centuries ago, "It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires."

So who, if anyone, is burning up the grass roots? A visit to the Values Voters Summit, convened last Saturday by the Family Research Council in Washington, provided the answer. The "hot" candidate, measured by standing ovations, was former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. As he said, "I am someone who comes not to the faith community but from the faith community."

And the Values Voters straw poll underscored the power of Huckabee's connection to these innermost voters: Romney won the overall balloting, including online "votes," but of the 1,000 or so activists who cared enough to be in the room, 51 percent endorsed Huckabee - compared with 10 percent for Romney, 8 percent for Thompson and virtually none for Giuliani.

So then is Huckabee the front-runner? Nope. Way behind in money and name recognition, Huckabee is still a dark horse. But he is a buzzing dark horse, lit up by that fourth, white-hot, innermost ring.

In a decision that the VA GOP will likely regret,

Rep. Davis has decided not to run for John Warner's Senate seat, now that the state party stacked the deck against him (and in favor of former Gov. Gilmore).

I certainly hope I am wrong, because I like Gov. Gilmore, but I have the sinking feeling that Mark Warner is going to wax him at the polls next Nov.
Monday, October 22, 2007

Hey, DC, you paying attention?

Your question is answered.

McCain vs. Clinton

A follow up on today's earlier posts. Caught this quote from an article in the NY Slimes:

So here’s a puzzle. If Rudolph W. Giuliani is leading the Republican field in the national polls, and Mitt Romney is leading the field in the early states, why is John McCain running closer to Hillary Clinton than the rest of the pack?

What accounts for this? What advantages does Mr. McCain bring against Mrs. Clinton that he doesn’t bring in match-ups against his rivals?

We turned to Mark McKinnon, a top strategist for Mr. McCain, for the campaign’s view.
He said that part of the answer was Mr. McCain’s appeal to independents and conservative Democrats...

As for why Mr. McCain does less well against his fellow Republicans, Mr. Ayres said: “He has taken some positions on campaign finance reform and illegal immigration that many Republicans find discomforting.”

At the same time, he said, “Republicans like to talk a lot about how they want a candidate who governs by principle rather than polls, and John McCain is the poster boy for governing by principle rather than polls, specifically on Iraq and illegal immigration.”

Where I stand in Decision '08

ManBeast has called for us to restate where we stand, and I will do so in a somewhat roundabout fashion.

Mitt has, until recently, remained my number one choice, b/c of all the candidates with a realistic chance to win the nomination (sorry MB, I've got to leave Hunter out), he seems the most likely to unite the FiCon and SoCon wings of the GOP and avoid a 3rd party candidate.

By contrast, Rudy alientates SoCons and could lead to a disastrous 3rd party run from someone like Alan Keyes (2% of the vote could still kill us), or more dangerously, someone like Sam Nunn.

That said, there have been 6 debates at this point, and Rudy, along with Huckabee and McCain, have clearly been the strongest performers.

The debates will be crucial for defeating Hillary. She will have endless resources to define herself via advertising, and the debates will be the best opportunity to expose her as shrill, ideological, and canned. We need a candidate who is articulate and capable, but also genuine and not a professional politician like Hillary. It is on this last point where Mitt has most disappointed me in the debates, as he appears very coached and trapped within his talking points. Huck, Rudy, and McCain are a true contrast, and speak their mind.

McCain has really rehabilitated himself in my mind by doing two things: (1) admitting that he "got the message," and supports sealing the borders before getting around to any kind of work visa amnesty program; and (2) showing real consistency and courage in his call for victory in Iraq (and his earlier criticism of the Rumsfeld "light footprint" approach). Because McCain has credibility in the eyes of independents and moderates, he also polls the best against Hillary, as the most recent FN/Dynamics poll showed. And unlike Rudy, he has a 20+ year track record of voting pro-life.

Huckabee is an intersting case. He has consistently shown himself the most effective communicator of the entire group. He's won most of the debates, and constantly wins over the crowd when he gives speeches. This past weekend's values voters straw poll was a case in point. After all the GOP candidates spoke, Huckabee took over 50% of the votes from those in the room. Meanwhile Mitt won the straw poll on the back of a smaller plurality voting for him in the online voting.

Huckabee has no resources. Could he compete with Hillary in the general? It's questionable. But Huck would solidify the GOP in the south and the upper midwest, and his blue collar outlook will play well in swing regions like MI, OH, and western PA. Huck will not be able to compete in CA, NY, and New England, so his cap would be Bush's cap on EC votes, but that's enough to win.

Huckabee is the kind of guy who could lose in a landslide. Clinton could paint him as a religious extremist and hammer him as a redneck hick. Let's not forget, the Clinton's don't play nice and their warchest is bursting at the seams.

But then again, Huckabee could prove to be a revolutionary force at the national political level. He's shown me that kind of natural ability. He could totally refashion the GOP brand, and turn the party into an economically moderate, socially conservative populist party that could remake the political map.

I guess the way I look at it right now to boil it down:

-McCain is the conventional play who I'd be comfortable with.

-Mitt's an acceptable candidate who has resources, but is not inspiring me right now.

-Huckabee is an against-all-odds underdog story who is proving himself the most capable campaigner by a mile, and with an idelogical outlook that matches my own to a tee. He could also refashion the GOP brand in a way that would help the party long- term. Huck meets the baseline requirement of viability b/c he's in second place in the most recent IA polls and withing shooting distance of Mitt. If you can win IA, you're viable.

-Rudy is an extremely effective campaigner, a typical FiCon Republican, and a guy I'd vote for in the general. I can't support him in the primary b/c his views on life are unacceptable.

-Fred is a good guy, but a horrible candidate.

-Hunter/Paul/Tancredo are not viable, but Hunter has an outside chance of winding up as someone's Veep (which I'd love).

My current top 3, all of whom I would enthusiastically support:

1. Huckabee
2. McCain
3. Romney

Fred will get killed in the general. Rudy would be effective in the general, but I'd have to hold my nose in pulling the lever.

I totally leave the door open to changing the order of my top 3, based on whichever candidate has the most likelihood of derailing Rudy come the NY primary. The open questions that will determine who I vote for on Feb 5th:

- does Huck's viability continue to grow? His national and state polling numbers have been improving. Does that trend continue through January? Does he win IA? If so, he becomes the front runner in SC and should at least compete in MI in NH. If Huck has a couple of wins under belt by the time of the national primary, he's got a strong chance of going head-to-head with Rudy even after rudy takes the big states on Feb 5th. If Huck is still viable, he'll have my vote.

- If Huck stalls, does McCain generate momentum? McCain lives and dies with one state: NH. He needs to top Mitt in NH. If he doesn't he's over. If he does, he becomes the front runner in MI and he'll have a chance to win in SC. If McCain wins NH + SC, then he'll still be viable come Feb 5th, and he'll get my vote.

- If Mitt wins in IA and NH, McCain's been eliminated. Huckabee could still be alive with strong 2nd place finishes in either or both. SC then becomes the decider. If Mitt can top Fred and Huck in SC after having won IA and NH, he'll have consolidated the conservative vote as the anti-Rudy, and he'll be the only real alternative.

Of course, after Florida, we'll know the lay of the land, at which point final decisions get made.

Update Your Votes

After the GOP debate last night, I have to say Huckabee is starting to look better to a lot of Republicans, myself included. Way back in December here's where we stood. Here's my updated top three (this time not putting much emphasis on electability):

  1. Hunter

  2. Romney

  3. Huckabee


I just find myself nodding every time Hunter says something. Tancredo and Fred Thompson need to go home. Even though I agree with Tancredo on almost everything, he's clearly a one issue guy without any numbers. I'm glad Ron Paul is still in the race simply because he brings a libertarian voice to the sometimes big government Republican debates. I may not agree with all he has to say, but it's always thoughtful and consistent.
Sunday, October 21, 2007

Jindal wins LA-Gov

And avoids a run off by topping 50%. Write his name down, because you'll be hearing much, much more from him in the near future. Probably in '16.
Friday, October 19, 2007

A few great conservative quotes

from "Those Conservative T-Shirts"




End of an Error

Mel Martinez has resigned as Chair of the RNC. No doubt this has something to do with the Dems outraising the GOP by massive margins. Mel Martinez: yet one more good decision by W.

The Clinton Machine

Nothing will ever surprise me about the way the Clinton's do business behind the scenes, but might as well add this one to the pile. Apparently they are using the Chinese-American mob to strong-arm the dirt poor immigrants in NYC to donating $1-2 K each.

At this point in the presidential campaign cycle, Clinton has raised more money than any candidate in history. Those dishwashers, waiters and street stall hawkers are part of the reason. ..

Clinton has enlisted the aid of Chinese neighborhood associations, especially those representing recent immigrants from Fujian province. The organizations, at least one of which is a descendant of Chinatown criminal enterprises that engaged in gambling and human trafficking, exert enormous influence over immigrants. The associations help them with everything from protection against crime to obtaining green cards.

Many of Clinton's Chinatown donors said they had contributed because leaders in neighborhood associations told them to. In some cases, donors said they felt pressure to give.
Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Ills of the Country - Now on the Web!!!

That fact that someone actually created this website is a sad statement about our country. A segment of American society has fostered the notion of entitlement carried out through litigation. It still makes me ill to think there are people in this country who make their living suing others - and I'm not talking about the lawyers, I'm referring to professional complainants.

Now I vomit

Life is beautiful



Love truly bears and endures all things.


ht: Ericka Andersen at HumanEvents' Right Angle blog

Berger-Libby Hypocrisy

More on MSM double-standards:

The RCP Blog posits the question, how would the MSM respond if Rudy admitted that Scooter Libby was one of his closest advisors?

And yet, only one reporter has asked Hillary about her relationship with Sandy Berger.

Brownback dropping out?

According to this, Sen. Brownback will end his campaign as early as this Friday. I think this is good news for conservatives. Sen. Brownback is perhaps the best conservative in the Senate, and may be the best man, as well. Let him get back to being an effective voice for Kansas and all Americans in the upper chamber.

Meanwhile, conservatives need to start rallying around someone who can be the anti-Rudy, if they don't want a social liberal heading the GOP ticket. Sen. Brownback's withdrawl will help that process. A few more withdrawls, like Tancredo and Hunter, would help focus people as well.

The Brownback endorsement watch and the Brownback Veep watch may now commence.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007

That's why they play the game

Just as in pro sports, where winners aren't chosen on paper, politics doesn't always lead to best candidate on paper getting elected. When this cycle started, I identified Mitt Romney as the candidate who I most wanted to see get elected. As the cycle has gone on, that opinion stands, although most of the field would be acceptable to me (Rudy leaves me feeling shaky on social issues, Fred on whether he's up to the job). Two candidates, Rep. Hunter and Gov. Huckabee, are in many ways equally appealing to me as Gov. Romney, though I still don't believe either is a bona fide 1st tier candidate. Huckabee is making pretty solid progress in the polls, particularly in IA, and could get to 1st tier status.

But it's Mitt I want to focus on here. Because while I judged Mitt to be my preferred candidate, I also judged him to be the most likely to win. And that judgment is seriously in doubt at this point. He still has a chance, but he's bleeding through assets faster than every other candidate, and despite an extremely focused operation, hitting the early states hard, he's seeing his NH numbers slip noticeably. If he fails to win IA and NH, I think he's sunk, b/c his national numbers aren't there yet. He needs a slingshot effect out of the first few states.

So why is a candidate who is so highly qualified, so ideologically compatible with GOP primary voters (at least in his current incarnation), so adept at raising funds, so glib in front of the microphone, and so camera friendly, failing to move up in the polls?

Jennifer Rubin gets to the heart of it here:

As [Romney] stood next to Fred Thompson at the Dearborn debate looking puzzled, one was reminded of the Saturday Night Live skit in which the Michael Dukakis character looked at the George H. W. Bush figure and said incredulously, “I can’t believe I’m losing to this guy.”

There are several popular explanations, ranging from his now-renounced liberal past to his religion, but it is also something more fundamental than any of that: Mitt Romney is the least adept politician in the field and comes across as the least in tune to Republicans’ dominant concerns.

In interacting with voters, he often appears to be at a shareholders’ meeting, impatiently waiting out an obstreperous protestor so he can resume his prepared remarks.

In New Hampshire’s Red Arrow Diner earlier this year, he seemed unmoved as a waitress described her family’s medical difficulties, robotically informing her of his Massachusetts medical plan’s low deductibles.

And when he has been forced to think on his feet, he has displayed a remarkable tone-deafness. His “let the lawyers sort it out” answer to a question at a New Hampshire debate about the need to consult Congress about stopping Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, a perfectly corporate approach to a nettlesome problem, was a perfectly awful answer. As all three of his major rivals piled on, he stubbornly insisted for days that his answer was just fine until forced to write an explanatory letter to The Wall Street Journal.

Mr. Romney has also made a fetish of checking the policy boxes for social conservatives and rolling out a slew of policy papers with accompanying PowerPoint presentations. Voters soon sense that he has many ideas but little gravitas. He has lots of pitches—the “three-legged stool” of conservative values, “change” and “private sector experience”—but no overarching theme or core. If Mr. Giuliani is tough and Mr. Thompson is soothing, what is he?

Making matters worse, his manicured appearance and cautious language (he really likes “apparently”) fail to convey a robust commander in chief profile that conservatives crave. Promising to “double” the size of Guantanamo seems a comical attempt to keep pace with his more macho rivals.

As a result, Mr. Romney has the highest unfavorable rating of any candidate. He doesn’t seem to like his audience much, and they don’t like him.


Ms. Rubin offers a 3 point plan for Mitt to follow, which I'll not evaluate here. For me, Mitt's still my candidate. But I need to see more than his skills on paper: I need to see him successfully execute on the field. If he doesn't, it's not that he'll lose my support, but he won't have a real chance come NH.

Turkish Military Action

Now that Turkey's parliament has approved a military incursion into Iraq in order to secure their border and suppress Kurdish terrorism, Pelosi is backtracking on the Armenian genocide resolution. Why it was presented in the first place is a great question. It could come back to bite the Dems, if the electorate thinks a plausible explanation is that the Dems wanted/needed failure in Iraq to succeed in '08.

More importantly, where do we go now? I'd prefer to view this as an opportunity than the disaster that is equally likely. Rather than telling the Turks to sit tight, I say, "welcome to coalition of the willing." I welcome NATO nations willing to commit resources to Iraq.

Might we not reach a mutually beneficial arrangement with Turkey, where we shift a sizeable number of troops into the Kurdish north in order to protect the Turkish border, and they relieve us in one of the "hot zones" in central, southern, or western Iraq. This would accomplish Turkey's primary goal, and keep us in Ankara's good graces by validating their complaint. At the same time, it would allow us to "protect" the Kurds from any overzealous policing by Turkish armed forces, who may or may not have an ethnic bone to pick with the Kurds.

Lastly, it would get some of our boys out of the hot zone and turn the policing over to Turks who, while still a foreign force, could not be pitched to Iraqis as "infidel occupiers" by our enemies.

Of course, whether this strategy would ultimately prove effective on the ground would depend on whether the Turks could (and/or would) effectively fight AQII and other terrorist factions in their designated area. On this point, I would defer to any with more knowledge of the Turkish political sitution and military readiness.

This is not helpful

I mean this.

I like Long Island. I like the fact that we don't have riots and mass violence here. I'd like to keep it that way.

An occurrence like this is probably what happens when you let those guys [warning: linked video has expletives] come in contact with a newspaper. I'm sure it's coincidence that the Columbia U and Jena 6 stories have been floating around.

This came from email

by way of Beets McDogg:

The following was written by Ben Stein and recited by him on CBS Sunday Morning Commentary.

My confession:

I am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish. And it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful lit up, bejeweled trees Christmas trees. I don't feel threatened. I don't feel discriminated against. That's what they are: Christmas trees.

It doesn't bother me a bit when people say, "Merry Christmas" to me. I don't think they are slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto. In fact, I kind of like it. It shows that we are all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year. It doesn't bother me at all that there is a manger scene on display at a key intersection near my beach house in Malibu. If people want a creche, it's just as fine with me as is the Menorah a few hundred yards away.

I don't like getting pushed around for being a Jew, and I don't think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians. I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period. I have no idea where the concept came from that America is an explicitly atheist country. I can't find it in the Constitution and I don't like it being shoved down my throat.

Or maybe I can put it another way: where did the idea come from that we should worship Nick and Jessica and we aren't allowed to worship God as we understand Him? I guess that's a sign that I'm getting old, too. But there are a lot of us who are wondering where Nick and Jessica came from and where the America we knew went to.

FWIW I have my doubts about this "commentary's" authenticity, but that hardly seems relevant. The POV is valid on its own merit.

UPDATE: In the comments, SHK posts a link that has the video of Mr. Stein's commentary. The video ends where the blockquote above ends. The rest of the original email I have posted below b/c I cannot verify (and frankly doubt) that the words are Mr. Stein's, but still find interesting:


In light of the many jokes we send to one another for a laugh, this is a little different: This is not intended to be a joke; it's not funny, it's intended to get you thinking.

Billy Graham's daughter was interviewed on the Early Show and Jane Clayson asked her "How could God let something like this happen?" (regarding Katrina) Anne Graham gave an extremely profound and insightful response. She said, "I believe God is deeply saddened by this, just as we are, but for years we've been telling God to get out of our schools, to get out of our government and to get out of our lives. And being the gentleman He is, I believe He has calmly backed out. How can we expect God to give us His blessing and His protection if we demand He leave us alone?"

In light of recent events...terrorists attack, school shootings, etc. I think it started when Madeleine Murray O'Hare (she was murdered, her body found recently) complained she didn't want prayer in our schools, and we said OK. Then someone said you better not read the Bible in school. The Bible says thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal, and love your neighbor as yourself. And we said OK.

Then Dr. Benjamin Spock said we shouldn't spank our children when they misbehave because their little personalities would be warped and we might damage their self-esteem (Dr. Spock's son committed suicide). We said an expert should know what he's talking about. And we said OK.

Now we're asking ourselves why our children have no conscience, why they don't know right from wrong, and why it doesn't bother them to kill strangers, their classmates, and themselves.

Probably, if we think about it long and hard enough, we can figure it out. I think it has a great deal to do with "WE REAP WHAT WE SOW."

Funny how simple it is for people to trash God and then wonder why the world's going to hell. Funny how we believe what the newspapers say, but question what the Bible says. Funny how you can send 'jokes' through e-mail and they spread like wildfire but when you start sending messages regarding the Lord, people think twice about sharing. Funny how lewd, crude, vulgar and obscene articles pass freely through cyberspace, but public discussion of God is suppressed in the school and workplace.

Are you laughing?

Funny how when you forward this message, you will not send it to many on your address list because you're not sure what they believe, or what they will think of you for sending it.

Funny how we can be more worried about what other people think of us than what God thinks of us..

Pass it on if you think it has merit. If not then just discard it... no one will know you did. But, if you discard this thought process, don't sit back and complain about what bad shape the world is in. My Best Regards.

Honestly and respectfully,

Ben Stein
Tuesday, October 16, 2007

John Paul the Great

During a ceremony to commemorate the second anniversary of the death of the late Holy Father, someone snapped the pic on the left:



Incredible stuff. Read the article here.

ht: Drudge

A spot on analysis of where Mitt stands

From the AmSpecBlog:

When It Rains It Pours - Monday, October 15, 2007 @ 7:58:06 PM

Others have noted the rough patch for Romney --"in the ditch" Richelieu posits. It is easy to string two bad debates, a couple gaffes and a few less than stellar polls and wind up in trouble in this race. The test of a candidate is whether he can pull it together when things begin to go off the rails. He has assets, not just the bank account, which others don't such as business skill, a presidential "look" and a very fine political organization. But is he great on his feet and believable as a commander in chief? If anyone needed an "I paid for this microphone" moment it is he.

Posted By: Jennifer Rubin


Rudy has gotten some separation from Mitt (and the whole field) by appearing the most unflappable/in-command at the debates, as evidenced most clearly by his retort to Mitt when he was challenged on the line-item veto. Not only did he appear unfazed by the attack, but got in a good counterpunch in terms of substance. He calmly pointed out that the line-item veto as constituted then was unconsititutional, reached out to SoCons in the process (he got in the catch phrase "strict constructionist"), and scored points with the pragmatist (by pointing out he beat Billary in the process).

Jennifer's right: Mitt's assets are still formidable. I want to see that he can punch and counterpunch on his feet. Right now Rudy and McCain have been the best with that aspect of the debates.

If this were the private sector...

Would the Secretary of State or President be out of a job? You be the judge...

Headlines from Drudge today:

PUTIN VISITS IRAN, SENDS WARNINGS TO USA



As American prerogatives continue to lose the weight of force around the world, what with the strain of the Iraqi operation showing for all to see, a counterbalance to American interventionism begins to take shape. Other nations seem unwilling to sit in blissful isolation and await America's determination of regime change. Instead, those nations who know they're on W's "to do" list seem intent on banding together to make the job more uncomfortable, if not impossible, for us.

I can't figure out why the leader of a borderline 1st world nation (Putin) would prefer to throw his lot and his nation's future in with 3rd world countries (like Iran) rather than grow closer to Europe and the U.S. It's not rational. Unless we went out of our way to isolate Putin. Like by pursuing policies such as NATO expansion right to Russia's doorstep, continued meddling in Russian governance in the name of America's role as the defender of universal human rights, building an Eastern European missile shield in territories that they've long considered their sphere of influence, and dropping an army of a quarter million Americans (when contractors and civilian support are factored in) on their Southern flank. So now our most ruthless enemies (Iran) have an ally with thousands of nukes. Nice work.

Turkey takes step towards Iraq operation

See above, "US Military to the breaking point". We can't create a DMZ on the Turkish/Iraqi border. We can't expect the Kurdish tribal leaders to have the military/police strength to control their most militant countrymen. We can't expect Turkey to do nothing when they have no border integrity. So now they're going to invade, and we can do....absolutely nothing. Our diplomatic leverage is diminished, our military strength is clearly maxed out in dealing with Iraqi insurgents, and all of our coalition allies are on the way out, not ready to deploy tens of thousands of new troops to help with the Kurdish situation. What will happen when a Turkish force on par in size to the American contingent in Iraq makes contact with US forces? They're not looking to fight with us, but then again, they're not cooperating with us either. A highly unstable situation. One would imagine that this would have repercussions in the financial markets as well...

OIL NEARS $88...

Gold price hits highest level since '80...

'Nuff said.

Well, at least we've probably learned our lesson. That we can't go around willy nilly disrespecting the governments of foreign powers and demanding they apply the US Bill of Rights to their domestic politics. Because if we do, and we no longer have the stick of military dominance to waive before them, we are simply growing a coalition of enemies. At least that lesson seems to have been learned...

Bush to Meet With Dalai Lama Today...

...China 'furious'

Or perhaps not.
Monday, October 15, 2007

Huckabee's Horton?

While I always take anything I read in the Boston Globe (which is rare, I only wind up there if I link through from Drudge or RCP) with a grain of salt, if the facts here are correct this story could pose a problem for Huckabee. Not that I see Huckabee really making a legitimate move to threaten the lead of the Big 4, but if he did then this story could come back to haunt him. Apparently he pulled a Dukakis/Willie Horton move, and commuted the sentence of a convicted rapist, who then went on to rape again. Not the type of stuff that goes over well with most conservatives, especially when the leading guy, Rudy, is someone who has a brilliant track record on crime.
Friday, October 12, 2007

Sia - Breath Me

Just like with last the music I put up here, this song grabbed me when I had no expectation it would.

There's just something about a woman singing lyrics that lay her emotions bare. Particularly with a voice like Sia's. Wiki wiki says she has a jazz background, and I can certainly hear it in the breathy intimacy her voice supplies. Gets me every time.

ManBearPig

Where's Caribou Express when you need him? He'd truly appreciate this clip.

ht: Tom Bevan at RCP

Today's word of the day

Swill

What's great about this word is that it's both a noun:

n.
1. A mixture of liquid and solid food, such as table scraps, fed to animals, especially pigs; slop.
2. Kitchen waste; garbage.
3. A deep draft of liquor.
4. Nonsense; rubbish.


and a verb:

v.tr.
1. To drink greedily or grossly: “Unshaven horsemen swill the great wines of the Chateaux” (W.H. Auden).
2. To flood with water, as for washing.
3. To feed (animals) with swill.


So that in addition to swilling my drink, or drinking my swill, I can do cool things like "swill my swill".

Or, in the event I'm at a bar with SHK, I can "swill my swill while listening to his swill."
Thursday, October 11, 2007

Quiz Time

Another one from Father of the ManBeast via email. See if you guess the answers like I did:

A little history quiz: If you don't know the answer make your best
guess. Answer all the questions before looking at the answers. Who said
it?
[You will be shocked by the answers.]

1) "We're going to take things away from you on behalf of the
common good."

A. Karl Marx
B. Adolph Hitler
C. Joseph Stalin
D. None of the above

2) "It's time for a new beginning, for an end to government of
the few, by the few, and for the few...and to replace it with shared
responsibility for shared prosperity."

A. Lenin
B. Mussolini
C. Idi Amin
D. None of the Above

3) "(We)...can't just let business as usual go on, and that
means
something has to be taken away from some people."

A. Nikita Khrushev
B. Josef Goebbels
C. Boris Yeltsin
D. None of the above

4) "We have to build a political consensus and that requires
people to give up a little bit of their own...in order to create this
common ground."

A. Mao Tse Dung
B. Hugo Chavez
C. Kim Jong Il
D. None of the above

5) "I certainly think the free-market has failed."

A. Karl Marx
B. Lenin
C. Molotov
D. None of the above

6) "I think it's time to send a clear message to what has become

the most profitable sector in (the) entire economy that they are being
watched."

A. Pinochet
B. Milosevic
C. Saddam Hussein
D. None of the above


Answers:

(1) D. None of the above. Statement was made by Hillary Clinton
6/29/2004
(2) D. None of the above. Statement was made by Hillary Clinton
5/29/2007
(3) D. None of the above. Statement was made by Hillary Clinton
6/4/2007
(4) D. None of the above. Statement was made by Hillary Clinton
6/4/2007
(5) D. None of the above. Statement was made by Hillary Clinton
6/4/2007
(6) D. None of the above. Statement was made by Hillary Clinton
9/2/2005

Gore on the move?

Apparently a NY Times ad is pleading with Al Gore to run. This would be great - his entrance would put a sudden halt to Hillary's dramatic upswing, and I guarantee all the left-wing elements in Dem party would run away from her to Gore. All the anti-war, global warming contingency. Of course, I'm pretty sure that behind the scenes billary has convinced gore not to run, perhaps promising him a staff position (maybe head of EPA, something I'd sure he'd relish).
Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Sell-a-bray-shun Time, come on!

There's a party goin' on, right here. We'll light the Empire State Building up for Ramadan every year...

New York's iconic Empire State Building is to be lit up green from Friday in honor of the Muslim holiday of Eid, the biggest festival in the Muslim calendar marking the end of Ramadan, officials said.
"This is the first time that the Empire State Building will be illuminated for Eid, and the lighting will become an annual event in the same tradition of the yearly lightings for Christmas and Hannukah," according to a statement.

Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the fasting month, is expected to be celebrated in New York from Friday, depending on when the new moon is sighted, and the city's tallest skyscraper will remain green until Sunday.

Built in the early 1930s, the 443-meter-tall (1,454-feet-tall) Empire State Building was first lit up with colored lighting in 1976, when red, white and blue lights were used to mark the American Bicentennial.

Defending Mitt

As the day has gone on, the chattering classes have come to Mitt's defense, admitting that Rudy is trying to push Romney's words about "lawyers" too far.

Over at CNBC, John Harwood points out that Mitt's reference to lawyers was dismissive. His answer was, substantively, that the President needs to do what the President needs to do in order to keep the American People safe. Lawyers get consulted to determine what form of authorization is required. In other words, do first, ask permission later, all in the name of safety. A generous interpretation by Harwood to Mitt's benefit, no doubt. But an interpretation that is, I think, supported by the words Mitt used.

Harwood also pointed out that some anti-Mitt folks are stretching the truth and their own credibility:

To suggest that Romney was articulating a different view is simply to grab hold of a cheap hook -- only Democratic sissies care what lawyers think -- and run with it despite the fact that Romney was espousing the Bush position on this question.

Rudy is engaged in these strained attacks, according to Jonathan Martin at the Politico (a copy of the Giuliani campaign's email is at NRO's The Corner here).

Powerline, another big-time pro-GOP blog, which I had the impression of being largely pro-Rudy, also came to Mitt's defense with Paul Mirengoff's post here. A sample:

There's little doubt that Rudy Giuliani had an excellent debate yesterday. Moreover, although Mitt Romney did well too, it's pretty clear that he had a bad moment when, in his answer to the question of whether he would need authorization from Congress to take military action against Iran's nuclear facilities, he focused on consulting with lawyers. Finally, we all understand the urge of a candidate's operatives to want to convert a less than well-stated answer into a "gotcha" moment.

Nonetheless, the Giuliani campaign is over-the-top in claiming (in one of its many emails about the debate) that Romney's references to lawyers constitute a "lawyers' test for national security." Even worse is the suggestion that Romney's answer is akin to that of John Kerry, "another Massachusetts politician," who proposed a "global test" for use of force by the U.S....

Let's try to evaluate this objectively. First, no candidate has been more forceful or specific than Romney in insisting that a nuclear Iran is unacceptable. Romney was perhaps the first announced candidate to stress this position, doing so in a January 2007 speech to a gathering in Herziliya, Israel. I haven't seen a better statement on the subject since, though Giuliani has been excellent on the issue too.

Second, as is clear from the exchange quoted above, Romney gave his answer about consulting lawyers in the context of questions about a president's legal obligation (if any) to obtain congressional authorization. In this context it was natural, though probably not very savvy, for Romney to talk about lawyers. Debaters points aside, I would expect a president contemplating military action against a foreign country to seek the opinion of administration lawyers on legal questions regarding the proper role of Congress under the Constitution in the matter.

Third, Romney made it clear that, bottom line, he "would make sure that we would take the action necessary to keep Iran from having a nuclear weapon." So Romney's answer cannot be construed as imposing either a "lawyers' test," much less a "global test" with respect to this issue.

Fred Thompson Debate - Hem, Haw, and Ummm

Heh, heh.

Debate wrap

1. First things first. Romney made the gaffe of the night. I won't venture a guess as to if it will be remembered as a small slip or will have longer term repercussions (but you know it's embarrassing--at a minimum--when Ron Paul tees off on you afterwards). Here's a video capturing the moment:



Justin Hart, one of the founders of MyManMitt.com, makes the point here that it was only a "gaffe" if willfully misinterpreted.

2. Fred's debut: as predicted, a whole bunch of headlines stating "he did what he needed to do." For instance, here, here, and most shamelessly, here. This is all based on "low bar" expectations, as plenty of commentators pointed out that he was shaky, boring, and forgettable. Fineman's story about the debate opened this way:

Fred Thompson stood a head taller than his fellow Republicans but he seemed in over his head as the CNBC debate began here. He wore the pained look of a man in need of a powerful digestive pill. But by the time the two-hour marathon ended, the new guy on the trail had gained just barely enough confidence, composure and credibility to make it to the next round of the GOP food fight.

Fantastic. Gained "just enough confidence" that he wasn't a total embarrassment and made "the next round." Wow. If Mitt, Rudy or McCain (candidates that worry MSM liberals) had performed like this, they'd be screaming he should pack it in now.

3. Just like the low bar helped Fred, the high bar hurt Huckabee. Take this quote, for example:

Mike Huckabee: He fell victim to his previous performances today. Huckabee has been so consistently good you know find yourself waiting for him to utter some knockout joke or soliloquy every time he opens his mouth. It was a good performance - and would have been more than good for many others on the stage - but I don't think Huckabee made any strides in shoring up the support of fiscal conservatives today.

So other candidates would love to be as good as Huck was, so he did a bad job. Thanks for clarifying.

4. The free trade/fair trade discussion was one of the more interesting rounds. Opinions ran the gamut from Rudy (Hawley-Smoot! Smoot-Hawley!) to Hunter (attacking Fred for supporting MFN status for China). Huck showed up vociferously on the fair trade side of the equation, McCain on the free trade side, and Mitt was in the middle.

Here's part of the trade discussion, discussing the continuing destruction of our manufacturing base:



And another, referencing the NASDAQ acquisition by a Dubai firm:



5. McCain wasn't able to follow up on his rousing success in the last debate in NH. I felt like he's a little out of his element discussing economic issues, and is much more comfortable on national security and government reform, where he kept trying to steer the conversation.

6. Hunter had a really strong performance. He's clear and on point. He answers the questions. And he seems to be making no progress.

7. Tancredo and Brownback need to drop out now and end the madness.

8. Apparently (I missed this part), Paul and Tancredo both threatened to go 3rd party if their primary issues (non-interventionist foreign policy and anti-illegal immigration, respectively) aren't co opted by the eventual GOP. Paul would probably appeal to as many Dems as Republicans, but a Tancredo 3rd party bid would be disastrous. Again, from the Fineman article:

The real news of the night – in terms of the general election campaign – was buried at the end. Representatives Ron Paul and Tom Tancredo both made it clear that they might not support the GOP presidential nominee. Get ready for a third, or fourth party candidacy: one against the war (perhaps teaming up with a Democrat), the other against illegal immigration. The former would hurt the Democrats, the latter the GOP.
Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Ranking the field

Apparently Dan Bartlett, former adviser to Bush, is in agreement with Fredo that Thompson is a bust. However, he then goes on to tear most of the Republican field.

Hillary!-O!bama

Will the dreaded H-O ticket come to fruition? Rudy said yes. Now, Ross Kaminsky at Human Events says no.

In short, his reasoning is that:

1. Hill's ego is too big to take the media fawning over Obama
2. Obama has no reason to take the Veep slot, he's already got the cash and name recognition to run for President next cycle.
3. Obama's lack of experience makes him an undesirable Veep candidate, a heartbeat away from the W.H.
4. Obama doesn't help bring in any new demographics or states for Hillary (who is originally from IL herself).

I grow weary of the spin

The Politico has a story up this morning with the following headline:

Bar low for Thompson as debate looms
I know that Thompson's paid staff will make this argument before ("We're still getting up to speed," "we're still getting comfortable") and after ("displayed clarity through brevity") the debate, but does it really have to come from Roger Simon or the press?

Here are your marching orders from Politico:

There will be a two-hour debate Tuesday in Dearborn, Mich., sponsored by CNBC, MSNBC and The Wall Street Journal. It will focus on economic issues. The moderators will be Chris Matthews and Maria Bartiromo.

And all Thompson has to do to win is to exceed (very low) expectations.

“Low expectations” is poppycock. Using “low expectations” as an advantage reminds everyone of W who, for all his virtues, is not someone most Republicans would like to see their next candidate likened to for his skills as an orator.

I mean, whatever happened to the "bar" being the same for everyone? The bar should be demonstrating the most command of the issues and the most persuasive rhetoric. "Most" being the important word here. We only get one President.

I grow weary of press lunacy (and watch for it, it's coming) like, "Huckabee/Romney/Rudy/McCain had the best debate, but Fred Thompson did the most to help his campaign by outpacing expectations." Fantastic. Now let's all go vote for the biggest sub-mediocrity that managed to pull one good (or even average) night out of his rear. And while we're at it, let me compete in Augusta next year. With my 42 handicap, I might still have a shot at Tiger.
Friday, October 05, 2007

The Times must be joking

Today's editorial slams Clarence Thomas's autobiography as hate-filled and vengeful, and unbecoming a Justice of the S.C. Look at a passage they highlight:

The level of hostility is striking. He grew up fearing the Ku Klux Klan, he says, but “my worst fears had come to pass not in Georgia, but in Washington, D.C., where I was being pursued not by bigots in white robes but by left-wing zealots draped in flowing sanctimony.”

Now, I haven't checked the archives of the Slimes (ht: Levin), but I'd be willing to bet at least 3 and 1/2 fingers that they were active perpetrators of the high-tech lynching that was attempted against Thomas, and obvious for its transparency. Justice Thomas had his character assassinated on national live T.V., and I guarantee you the Times was a willing participant by mimicking any spurious claims made against him. And now, the Times would have you believe, he's exhibiting improper behavior by expressing his anger at the experience.

I can only imagine how the editors at the Times parent their own children: "Stop crying or I'll beat you harder!"

Somebody annoint Peggy Queen

of the PoliPunditry, if there's any justice. Her latest, titled "The Trance":

...Mrs. Clinton is so far ahead so early on for the same reason Mr. Bush was so far ahead so early on in 2000, and after only six years as governor, with no previous offices behind him.

It is the nature of modern politics. A political family gains allies--retainers, supporters, hangers-on, admirers, associates, in-house Machiavellis. The bigger the government, the more ways allies can be awarded, which binds them more closely. Your destiny is theirs. Members of the court recruit others. Money lines spread person to person, company to company, board to board, mover to mover.

The most important part is the money lines. Power is expensive. The second most important part is the word "winner." The Bushes are winners; the Clintons are winners. We know this, they've won. The Bushes are wired into the Republican money-line system; the Clintons are wired into the Democratic money-line system. For a generation, two generations now, they have had the same dynamics in play, only their friends are on the blue team, not the red, or the red, not the blue.

They are, both groups, up and ready and good to go every election cycle. They are machines. There are good people on each side, idealists, the hopeful, those convinced the triumph of their views will make our country better. And there are those on each side who are not so wonderful, not so well-meaning, not well-meaning at all. And some are idiots, but very comfortable ones.

Is this good for our democracy, this air of inevitability? Is it good in terms of how the world sees us, and how we see ourselves? Or is it something we want to break out of, like a trance?

It would be understandable if they were families of a most extraordinary natural distinction and self-sacrifice. But these are not the Adamses of Massachusetts we're talking about. You've noticed, right?
Thursday, October 04, 2007

First there were clouds in the distance...

...and now it's starting to drizzle. We've known for some time that Mitt was going to get hit and get hit hard by the special interest groups who oppose him, some of whom may get backing from the supporters of other candidates. And now we see this ad from the Log Cabin Republicans lampooning Mitt's ideological evolution:



I've believed since early in this cycle that Mitt is the GOP's best choice, with the right combination of ideology and competence. And I still believe that now. But as the drizzle kicks in, let's not forget: a hard rain's gonna fall. If Mitt's candidacy drowns, we're left with the worst of two worlds: the Fredster (W lite) and pro-choice Rudy. If I could unite all the McCain, Huckabee, and Romney support behind one of those three now I would, even if it meant McCain or Huck and not Mitt. Alas, Mitt's in the strongest position of the three, but I'm fretting these ads will really damage him.

Obama: Flag pins are for phony patriots

Stunningly, Obama seems to want to run for President on an anti-American flag platform.

What's next? Is he also against hamburgers, baseball and apple pie? Maybe I shouldn't be so worried about his '12 run after all.


ht: Drudge

Scalia- by any means necessary

Wow, I don't know if Slate wanted to make conservatives smile, but they've succeeded. I'm sure they're smiling that we're smiling, but then again, we're smiling that they're smiling that we're smiling.




ht: Dan McLaughlin

It's nice to see not everything's upside down

Well surprise, surprise:

Despite Democratic promises that the House Rules Committee would operate much differently in the new majority, it is as partisan as ever.

Shocked again! This time it's frightening.

In the "I didn't expect this" category, it would seem the best question to ask about the Dem nomination at this point is, "is there even a race?" This poll seems to indicate Hill's already got it sewn up. If Obama, Edwards, or any of the third tier candidates can't mount a meaningful charge, Hillary will have all manner of bankroll available in the general. Not sure how long she can use primary $ to advertise, or if they are transferrable to the general, but still, there's a lot of there there when you look at her fundraising.

The double-down-side effect is that, if Hillary runs away and hides, Obama might run up the white flag. Which means he won't spend his tremendous bank roll and will start the '12 cycle with a nice head start on the other candidates.

Fred continues to underwhelm

The details here.

I think you know a stump speech has gone awry when this is how it ends:

Twenty-four minutes after he began speaking in a small restaurant the other day, Fred Thompson brought his remarks to a close with a nod of his head and an expression of thanks to Iowans for allowing him to “give my thoughts about some things.”

Then he stood face to a face with a silent audience.

“Can I have a round of applause?” Mr. Thompson said, drawing a rustle of clapping and some laughter.

“Well, I had to drag that out of you,” he said.

I've said it before and I'll keep saying it: aren't Republicans tired of having their leader try to skate by on phony folksy appeal, when we could have someone capable of clear, persuasive, and articulate rhetoric?

BTW, I use "rhetoric" in the classic sense, not the modern pejorative sense. I found some great classic definitions of the term here:

Plato: Rhetoric is "the art of winning the soul by discourse."

Aristotle: Rhetoric is "the faculty of discovering in any particular case all of the available means of persuasion."

Cicero: Rhetoric is "speech designed to persuade."

A landmark poll on free trade

I was actually shocked when I pulled up WSJ.com this morning. The lead story: Republicans grow skeptical on free trade. If the article had said that GOP support for fair trade was trending up, I wouldn't have been that surprised. Or if it said that free trade sentiment was no longer dominant in the general population, I wouldn't have been surprised either. But that Republicans "believe free trade is bad for the U.S. economy" by a 2-to-1 margin? Jaw dropping. [and also shocking that the story wouldn't be buried by the WSJ, which would like to see fair-traders drawn and quartered]

Fair trade has been actively discussed by exactly two of the GOP Presidential candidates: Huckabee and Hunter*. The other candidates have expressed only free-trade sentiment, with varying degrees of clarity and stridency. Could this issue also be a part of Huck's climb in the polls? Perhaps.

But this issue is, of course, much bigger than the '08 GOP horserace. From one sided tariff laws, to currency manipulation, to a glut of unskilled labor coming unchecked from Mexico, this country's middle class has been squeezed by globalization. It has seen real wages and standard of living stagnate, despite raging growth in GDP (with very few pullbacks) over the past 25 years. Apparently, they've seen enough.

Take the reaction to the immigration bills of the past two sessions. No longer was the issue framed exclusively as a social issue of "changing the fabric of our nation," nor as a discussion of abstract political principles (i.e., "a nation of immigrants"). People started viewing immigration as a bread-and-butter pocketbook issue. That's why we had a massive grass roots snap-back at the amnesty plans--a response that startled even veteran elected officials like McCain.

The same goes for trade. People are willing to accept academic theories on the win-win nature of global trade as long as they don't have to endure 2.5 decades of reality undermining those theories (mind you, free-trade has succeeded in growing the domestic and global economy, but has failed large swaths of the middle class--and that is where the votes are).

It is surprising that with 60% of Republican voters supporting fair trade, none of the front-runners have embraced a fair trade position (sorry Huck, you're not there yet update 11/5/07, Huck's there now!). But then again, the fair-traders have not been "activated," or come to a trigger point, the way the anti-illegal-immigration crowd did. I wonder if they will.

*Paul's position is a little more muddled: I believe he opposes free-trade agreements on the grounds that they go beyond the authority granted in the Constitution, but not because he wants to see international trade diminished. The only statement I could find pertinent to foreign trade on his campaign web site's "issues" page was this: "Let us have a strong America, conducting open trade, travel, communication, and diplomacy with other nations." I also found this article from Paul written in '99, in which he uses the old rhetorical device of equating "fair trade" with "isloationism."
Wednesday, October 03, 2007

How'd a nitwit like you get so tasteful?

Iran

Well, this one was an obvious call: an Iranian university has now extended an offer for Bush to speak on various issues. Of course, Bush will (correctly) ignore the offer, which will certainly be turned into a PR victory for M.A. Well played Columbia, well played.
Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Read it. Carefully. Every single word.

Because Jonah Goldberg's column is that good.

The heart of the column:

...the culture war can best be understood as a conflict between two different kinds of patriotism. On the one hand, there are people who believe being an American is all about dissent and change, that the American idea is inseparable from "progress." America is certainly an idea, but it is not merely an idea. It is also a nation with a culture as real as France's or Mexico's. That's where the other patriots come in; they think patriotism is about preserving Americanness.

Yet the strangest and most ironic aspect of our national culture is that we have an aversion to talking about a national culture. Samuel Huntington, one of the country's premier social scientists, has become something of a pariah for constantly reminding people (in books such as "The Clash of Civilizations" and "Who Are We?") that the United States is a nation, not just a government and a bunch of interest groups.

Many liberals hear talk of national culture and shout, "Nativist!" first and ask questions later, if at all. They believe it is a sign of their patriotism that they hold fast to the idea that we are a "nation of immigrants" -- forgetting that we are also a nation of immigrants who became Americans.

It's so rare to be surprised by a film

especially one I figured to be just another hack-em-up. But I just saw 2000's American Psycho for the first time, and it turned out to be an exceptional hack-em-up. A film with very similar thematic issues to Fight Club, which came out around the same time, if I'm not mistaken. Satirizing the banality of American culture, American greed, American relationships and sex, and ultimately, even the banality of American serial killers. I ended up repeatedly laughing out loud at the absurdity and self-destructive antics displayed by the main characters. Eventually the movie leaves you feeling a little dirty for enjoying the movie, which is probably part of the slap in the face the producers were hoping for: yes I, too, am part of the problem of American banality. And admitting it is the first step towards recovery.

This is clearly a movie that needs to be watched multiple times to figure out what is real and what is in the main character's mind. But the great lines can be enjoyed the first time through, but they're so much better with the delivery:

Patrick Bateman: [voice-over] There is a moment of sheer panic when I realize that Paul's apartment overlooks the park... and is obviously more expensive than mine.
----------------------------------------------------------
Patrick Bateman: I don't think we should see each other any more.
Evelyn Williams: Why? What's wrong?
Patrick Bateman: I need to engage in homicidal behaviour on a massive scale. It can not be corrected but I have no other way to fulfill my needs.
Evelyn Williams: What about the past?
Patrick Bateman: We never really shared one.
-------------------------------------------
Patrick Bateman: [excusing himself from Detective Kimball] Listen, you'll have to excuse me. I have a lunch meeting with Cliff Huxtable at the Four Seasons in 20 minutes.
---------------------------------------------
Patrick Bateman: He was into that whole Yale thing.
Donald Kimball: Yale thing?
Patrick Bateman: Yeah, Yale thing.
Donald Kimball: What whole Yale thing?
Patrick Bateman: Well, he was probably a closet homosexual who did a lot of cocaine. That whole Yale thing.
-------------------------------------------------
Patrick Bateman: Paul Allen has mistaken me for this d--ckhead Marcus Halberstram. It seems logical because Marcus also works at P&P and in fact does the same exact thing I do and he also has a penchant for Valentino suits and Oliver Peoples glasses. Marcus and I even go to the same barber, although I have a slightly better haircut.
-----------------------------------------------
Timothy Bryce: [after snorting "cut" cocaine] I want to get high off this, not sprinkle it on my f--king Oaties.
Patrick Bateman: Definitely weak, but I have a feeling that if we do enough of it we'll be okay.
Club Patron: [leans over from another booth] Will you keep it down? I'm trying to do drugs!
--------------------------------------
Victoria: [referring to the bloodstains on Bateman's sheets] What are those?
Patrick Bateman: Oh, uh, it's - cranberry juice. Uh, cran-apple.
Monday, October 01, 2007

Counting the days

Can't wait for Justice Thomas' new autobiography, which I pre-ordered at Amazon.

It's named "My Grandfather's Son" in honor of the man who raised him. These excerpts from the 60 Minutes interview with Thomas reveal the kind of man his Grandfather was:

"Do you remember the first things your grandfather said to you?" Kroft asks.

"He said the damn vacation is over," Thomas recalls. "And he meant it. And there would be rules and regulations."

"Some of the rules were that my grandmother was always right. That meant him too," Thomas remembers. "And he would say, 'Old Man Can't is dead. I helped bury him.' I can't tell you how many times I've heard that. He felt very, very strongly that nothing was impossible."


Then there's this great segment of the interview:

Thomas who has been vilified by the civil rights establishment in part because he is black, and because he is viewed as having benefited from some of very programs he now opposes. At best they consider him a hypocrite, at worst a traitor to his own people.

"You've been successful. You moved on. You don't care about people and your race," Kroft says.

"Oh, that's silliness," the justice replies.

"You do care," Kroft remarks.

"Oh, obviously I do," Thomas says. "Come on, you know? But it's none of their business. How much does Justice Scalia care about Italians? Did you ask him that? Did anyone ever ask him? Give me a break. Do I help people? Absolutely. Do I help, love helping black people? Absolutely. And I do. But do I like helping all people? Yes. In particular I like helping people who are disadvantaged, people who don’t come from the best circumstances. Do white people live in homeless shelters? Do Hispanics live in homeless shelters? Is disadvantaged exclusive province of blacks? No."

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Always sniffing for the truth

Always sniffing for the truth

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