Friday, December 30, 2011

Last night's outstanding movie quote

"You're in no position to disagree with me, boy.  I've got a loaded .45 here.  You've got pimples."

Fredo's Mad Money update

OK, we're nearing the finish line in Iowa. Based on the contracts we chose, here are the scenarios needed for each contributor to win: Dark Commenteer: Romney wins in Iowa. Can't win if he doesn't.

Fredo: Romney wins in South Carolina, and someone other than Romney wins in Iowa.

ManBeast: Gingrich wins in South Carolina, and someone other than Romney wins in Iowa.

SHK: Wouldn't know winning if hit him in the face.

Here's my odds, based on current polling and momentum: D.C. 60% chance at the win, Fredo 25%, Beast 15%.
Thursday, December 29, 2011

Krauthamer sums it up:

The race for the GOP nomination, and Obama's recent bounce in polling. From RCP:

Think of how this has gone. Trump, Bachmann, Perry, then Cain, then Newt, who is really in decline now, Ron Paul, who is on the ascent, but he's not electable, and now Santorum. Every single alternative is going to get a try or looks as if it's going to get a try because the field is unhappy with, or the electorate in large part is unhappy with Romney. He's stable, he's sober, but he's considered ideologically suspect.
Imagine if you'd had a race with a Mitch Daniels, with a Paul Ryan, Christie, Jindal and others, Sen. Thune. It would have had a completely different complexion. And I think with some of the sort of embarrassing candidates like Cain and others along the way, it has made the president who is by who he is, presidential, look better. And I think that explains the reason his numbers are up...
What I wouldn't give to have a Daniels, Ryan, Christie or Jindal in this race right now. I wish T-Paw hadn't dropped out so early. Thune, I'm not so sure.

Speaker Gingrich,


I recognized your foul stench when I was brought on board.

From the brilliant blog, Newt Gingrich Judges You:

Union Leader takes on Paul

As we approach the Hawkeye Cawkeye, it looks to be a big finish for Ron Paul in Iowa.  A result that once seemed impossible--Dr. No getting a ticket (top 3) out of Des Moines--now seems a real possibility.  

While I'm deeply impressed by many of Rep. Paul's core convictions, particularly his allegiance to a strict interpretation of the Constitution--one that constrains federal authority, and hence regulation, taxation, spending, nanny-statism, etc.--that same dogmatic approach will create some impossibly high hurdles for him, should he be elected President.  In actuality, he simply has too many fatal flaws to be considered a realistic player for the nomination.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Gingrich compares Virginia's signature requirements to Pearl Harbor

As they might ask on the Twit, "Srsly?"

Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Nice Christmas Treat

brought to you by (surprise!) CNN. A nifty little essay that talks about the difference between a society with and without Christian virtue: the difference between Bedford Falls and Pottersville.
Friday, December 23, 2011

Newt for President!

Official campaign slogan: "We're not going to make it, are we?"

Trump Bolts GOP

The Donald has changed his official party affiliation to independent, and as a result, the speculation about an independent Presidential run is gearing up.

As ABC news is reporting with much hyperventilation,

Donald Trump is officially a man without a party.
The real estate mogul whose flirtation with the 2012 presidential race has never really ended despite announcing seven months ago he would not seek the Republican nomination has been signaling he wants to find other ways onto a presidential ticket.
Amazing.  After all of his red-faced pontification attacking Obama, I can't believe he'd splinter the center-right vote, almost assuring the President's re-election.  It's like he's been a trojan horse candidate working for the President all along.  Why couldn't someone have seen this coming before?

Oh, wait, someone did:

Trump is flat out dangerous to GOP prospects in '12. Hopefully he blows up early and vanishes... 
Trump is brash and forthright, which appeals to a certain demographic, but ultimately when denied the nomination he could utilize that support as a drag against the GOP nominee when he runs as an independent. And all the birther stuff will prevent him from drawing any moderate or Dem votes. The whole thing smells.
The really interesting question to me is this: What does the Donald want? I don't think the man has any real interest in being President. The 100 hr weeks for 4 straight years for a measly $300K or whatever the CIC earns these days. Chump change. Not enough parties. Not enough Eastern European models.

What he's really interested in doing, IMHO, is getting maximum exposure for his brand, and becoming a power broker in the process that he can leverage for chips later. A pass from DOJ on a proposed merger, or the DEC on some huge proposed casino in a protected wetlands.  Who knows. But it'll be fascinating to see how Trump pursues "the Art of the Deal", and what benefits he can plumb from playing Obama and the GOP nominee off of each other.

The Deal, of course, will come early.  The fruits won't come for years, in all probability.  I'll be watching and waiting--it for no other reason than my morbid curiosity of how a dynamic, free-market economy devolves into a stagnant, initiative-crushing, crony-capitalistic shitbox.
Thursday, December 22, 2011

A first, best gift

Haven't posted anything but figured It's best to start with beauty, no?
Monday, December 19, 2011

Researchers create virus capable of killing 4B people

Thank goodness for academic freedom. We might not have known exactly which genes needed to mutate to turn a relatively non-contagious form of deadly bird flu into a quick spreading pandemic nightmare. But now we know.

How could anyone be this careless? This crazy?

I really like this part:

The study was carried out by a Dutch team of scientists led by Ron Fouchier of the Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam, where the mutated virus is stored under lock and key, but without armed guards, in a basement building.

Good to know. Luckily there aren't any really bad people that would want to know where to find a virus that could kill 60% of those it infects. Luckily.
Thursday, December 15, 2011

National Review, otherwise known as

the "official publication" of the modern conservative movement, has not yet endorsed a candidate. But they have definitively stated, as of today, who they will NOT endorse: Gingrich, Bachmann, Paul, or Perry. That leaves three they consider to real contenders.
Here is the conclusion of their short, worthwhile piece:
Governor Huntsman has a solid record, notwithstanding his sometimes glib foreign-policy pronouncements; his main weakness is his apparent inability, so far, to forge a connection with conservative voters outside Utah. Governor Romney won our endorsement last time, in part because some of the other leading candidates were openly hostile to important elements of conservatism. He is highly intelligent and disciplined, and he takes conservative positions on all the key issues. We still think he would make a fine president, but time and ceaseless effort have not yet overcome conservative voters’ skepticism about the liberal aspects of his record and his managerial disposition. Senator Santorum was an effective legislator. He deserves credit for highlighting, more than any other candidate, the need for public policies that topple barriers to middle-class aspirations. Weighing against him is a lack of executive experience.

As Republican primary voters consider their choices, they should ask themselves several questions: Which candidate is most likely to make the race turn on the large questions before the country, and not his personal idiosyncrasies? Which candidate is most likely to defeat Obama? Who could, if elected, form an effective partnership with Republican leaders and governors to achieve the conservative agenda? We will render further judgments in the weeks to come as the candidates continue to make their cases and are, just perhaps, joined by new candidates. At the moment we think it important to urge Republicans to have the good sense to reject a hasty marriage to Gingrich, which would risk dissolving in acrimony.
Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Char-lie...

Where are all the people, Char-lie...
Sunday, December 11, 2011

Baldwin on SNL

This guy is, let's be charitable, an unmitigated douchebag.

But you can't say he's not funny...

Restoring trust

OK, so this isn't sexy. It doesn't talk about six-sigma or mining resources on the moon. It doesn't talk about the Next American Century full of global power projection and U.S. hegemony; or how American power is "good for the world."

What it is, IMHO, is an ambitious blue print for addressing the root causes of some serious problems that are undermining our economy, and breeding distrust of both private and public sector institutions.

Without further ado, Huntsman's 7-point plan:

1. Reform our 17,000 page tax code. He will eliminate every last loophole, subsidy and carve-out. He will use that revenue to lower rates across the board, for individuals and businesses. Governor Huntsman will create a tax code that is flatter and simpler; one that opens up economic opportunities for all our citizens, makes us more competitive, and ends corporate welfare and crony capitalism, once and for all.

2. Address our mounting debt by cutting spending in every corner of government, leaving no sacred cow untouched. Governor Huntsman will reform entitlement programs – based on the Ryan Plan – while holding true to our nation’s commitments to those in or near retirement.

3. Ensure that no financial entity is too-big-to-fail. Governor Huntsman will do this by breaking up the big banks on Wall Street, so that never again – never again – are taxpayers held hostage by a Sophie’s Choice: massive bailouts, or economic calamity.

4. Adopt a comprehensive energy strategy that frees us from foreign oil, that eliminates all energy subsidies, and that levels the playing field for competing fuels and technologies.

5. Streamline regulations in order to create a free, fair and competitive marketplace. All too often our regulatory framework becomes another tool for special interests seeking to use the state to protect privileges and insulate themselves from competition. Read More

6. Bring our troops home from Afghanistan, while leaving behind an appropriately-sized counterterrorist presence. And Governor Huntsman will set our military strategy and budgets based on long-term threats and vulnerabilities, not on spending patterns developed decades ago and reinforced today by armies of lobbyists.

7. Finally, in order to ensure that government responds to all its citizens with the same level of urgency and fairness, and to lessen the influence of special interests, Governor Huntsman will send to Congress a "Citizen Legislature Act," which includes term limits for Congress and lobbying restrictions.


Bold portions are my emphasis-- segments of this plan that I think are on point, and part of the same theme.

I'm pretty sure

the only thing that will be remembered about last night's debate, two months from now, is the $10K bet.

Mitt hurt himself with that one. Pretty badly.
Friday, December 09, 2011

Debate!

Tomorrow night's debate is the first one I'll watch in its entirety in a while. They dynamics are totally different now, w/ Mitt not the nominal frontrunner. I'm interested to see how he handles it. I don't think it serves him well to be an attack dog. He needs to continue with the same, above-the-fray persona that he's maintained through almost all of the debates to this point.

Newt has to avoid saying anything outrageous and looking petulant. Since he'll be the focus of most of the attacks, it could be more difficult than it sounds. Luckily for him, Newt knows how to debate and doesn't have to do much different than what he's been doing thus far, so I'm not too worried about him.

Huntsman is the only other candidate that I really take seriously at this point, despite his non-existent polling (other than in NH). He needs to be assertive, draw distinctions with Mitt on foreign policy, economic record, and consistency.

Santorum needs some kind of incredibly memorable line. Lightning in a bottle, if you will.

Bachmann should drop out now and will soon.

Perry should drop out now, but has the money to continue making a fool of himself for a long time.

Paul will be Paul. Huntsman has the most opportunity to point out similarities with Paul (particularly on foreign policy, and on their mutual animus towards crony capitalism) in order to make himself the second choice of Paul voters.

Mustang vs. the Competition

The money shot comes at around 1:25.

Perry doesn't let dignity get in the way of comedy

What. A. Joke.

From the AP:

On Friday, Perry criticized Obama for his two Supreme Court nominees. "When you see his appointment of two, from my perspective, inarguably activist judges, whether it was ." he said, trailing off.

He paused for six seconds. "Not Montemayor," he said.

"Sotomayor," a member of the editorial board said.

"Sotomayor, Sotomayor," Perry said.

He went on to denounce "eight unelected and, frankly, unaccountable judges" in a discussion of prayer in schools. But nine justices sit on the Supreme Court.

The hits keep on coming

David Brooks, another member of the GOP intelligentsia (whether many conservatives would like to admit it or not), has out today a column critical of Gingrich.

Here are his main points:

Of all the major Republicans, the one who comes closest to my worldview is Newt Gingrich... [H]e continually returns to this core political refrain: He talks about using government in energetic but limited ways to increase growth, dynamism and social mobility.

As he said in 2007, “It’s not a point of view libertarians would embrace, but I am more in the Alexander Hamilton-Teddy Roosevelt tradition of conservatism. I recognize that there are times when you need government to help spur private enterprise and economic development.”

So why am I not more excited by the Gingrich surge?

In the first place, Gingrich loves government more than I do...

Furthermore, he has an unconservative faith in his own innocence.

Then there is his rhetorical style... Most people just want somebody who can articulate their hatreds, and Gingrich is demagogically happy to play the role.

Most important, there is temperament and character. As Yuval Levin noted in a post for National Review, the two Republican front-runners, Gingrich and Mitt Romney are both “very wonky Rockefeller Republicans who moved to the right over time as their party moved right.”

But they have very different temperaments. Romney, Levin observes, has an executive temperament — organization, discipline, calm and restraint. Gingrich has a revolutionary temperament — intensity, energy, disorganization and a tendency to see everything as a cataclysmic clash requiring a radical response.

In the two main Republican contenders, we have one man, Romney, who seems to have walked straight out of the 1950s, and another, Gingrich, who seems to have walked straight out of the 1960s. He has every negative character trait that conservatives associate with ’60s excess: narcissism, self-righteousness, self-indulgence and intemperance. He just has those traits in Republican form.

As nearly everyone who has ever worked with him knows, he would severely damage conservatism and the Republican Party if nominated. He would severely damage the Hamilton-[T.] Theodore Roosevelt strain in American life.

The endorsements keep rolling in for Mitt; the criticism for Newt. Yet at this point, I guess the main question is--does it really matter? Based on the polling, it seems like Newt is getting a solid grip on the nomination.
Thursday, December 08, 2011

Nice Huntsman ad.

With some commentary from moi, originally posted at Race 4 2012:



I think the focus of this ad is dead on, and should be co-opted by whoever is the eventual GOP nominee. This lack of trust is at the root of what ails us.

Liberals believe the political fracturing of our society is because of economic “inequality.” But the honest truth (and the conservative viewpoint) is that the diversion of political factions has more to do with a lack of trust in our insitutions, than the fact that we can’t all be rich. Americans who believe they’re getting a fair shake are willing to work hard to be in the middle class. Selective bailouts, Obamacare exemptions, selective asset subsidies, and the general picking of winners and losers in the economy, creates a feel of corruption that dispirits and divides. It makes the deck seemed stacked against you.

Just finished repaying your student loan? Sucker! Should’ve let the interest accrue till the mob forced a government bailout for debtors.

Bought a house in the middle of bubble, without realizing that quasi-govermental agencies were allowing lenders to avoid the consequences of writing bad loans via securitization? Sucker! Should’ve held your cash and waited for the bust.

These (and many other) government machinations make it more difficult than it should be for the average citizen, who wants to play by the rules, from achieving success.

Less picking of winners and losers, please; a return to a sense of stability in the legal, regulatory and economic context within which we make our decisions. Get government’s heavy hand out of the way, and people might start to trust it again.

What comes next?

This should be a D.C. special...

Lets not hunt Illinois

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Concerns among Newt's colleagues

Race 4 2012 has a post up stating that McCain is preparing to make a Romney endorsement. The article quotes a source (in an article from The Hill) who, I think, sums up the fears among GOP insiders w/r/t a Newt candidacy. Even for those who respect his considerable talents:

There is growing concern among many of McCain’s Senate Republican colleagues on whether Gingrich is electable in a match-up against President Obama.

“Newt’s hand is always six inches from the self-destruct button,” one GOP lawmaker said last week.

My Favorite Newt Caption

Blatantly lifted from http://newtjudgesyou.tumblr.com/post/12853736401/i-understand-you-disagree-with-my-argument-on



“I understand you disagree with my argument on transubstantiation. I’ll grant you that. But this does not change the fact that you are completely wrong about whether Han shot first.”
Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Unshackled?

I have been having problems publishing posts (no issues with comments though, as I'm sure has been noticed).

This is only a test--IGNORE THIS POST!!!!

-------------------------

Admin Edit: If anyone else is having trouble posting on the blog, please let Fredo know offline. Thx.

Casting Call



Clockwise from center top:

Sleepy, Stalker, X-Man, Racer-X


Also, maybe you guys could help me with this one:

BenJarvus X Beasty X

I have your red velvet cupcake Ameritupperware.





Just saying.
Monday, December 05, 2011

Deep Thoughts, by George Will

Having read and re-read that Will article, I really believe this paragraph is the core of it. I've removed the references to Gingrich, because it makes a deeper philosophical point about the nature of conservatism:

[A] Marxist believes everything is related to everything else and only he understands how. Conservatism, in contrast, is both cause and effect of modesty about understanding society’s complexities, controlling its trajectory and improving upon its spontaneous order. Conservatism inoculates against th[is] hubristic volatility..."

Conservatism is not, historically speaking, a "movement" aimed at reform, revolution, or upending the nature of things. It is status-quo-ism. It is trimming the fat, restoring things to a state of equilibrium, moving beyond the hubris of trying to legislate fantasy in the face of reality. This is a conservatism that would appeal to Edmund Burke or Russell Kirk. Or possibly John Calhoun.

And therein lies the potential criticism of it: Calhoun was committed to preserving a status quo institution that needed to be destroyed. His brand of conservatism preserved, it did not overturn. Unlike Calhoun, today's movement conservatives no longer believe we can merely preserve the valuable institutions that form the core of our society. They believe that our most important institutions, which may vary depending on the type of conservative you are talking to (e.g., our Anglo cultural heritage, our common-law protections, religious institutions in the Judeo-Christian tradition, a town/locally-centric body politic), have already been trampled beyond recognition. They believe a restoration is needed, which would be transformative in nature, and destructive of the status quo built by liberals over the past 80 years. If this restoration is wrenching and full of conflict, so be it.

This is the opposite view of the traditionalist conservative, who sees more value in preserving stability, gradually steering society away from excess and harmful measures that may have accumulated over time, and working incrementally. One might also compare this to the difference between Clarence Thomas conservatism and Anthony Kennedy (or David Souter?) conservatism. Or to the difference between Reagan Republicanism and Rockefeller Republicanism, although both are imperfect analogies.

Note that this distinction does not apply perfectly to the candidates in this race. Gingrich espouses so many different views that he cannot be neatly defined as either an incrementalist (despite wanting a less audacious plan to entitlement reform than Ryan's "right-wing social engineering"), nor a restorationist (despite his views that he is leading a cavalry charge against the status quo).

Mitt seems to fit more clearly into the role of incrementalist. This obviously does not bother Will greatly, who seems more concerned with Romney's likeability, than with his preference for managing, rather than rolling back, the continued creep of liberal-statism.

Huntsman likewise can't be pigeon-holed, but is clearly more of an incrementalist and a valuer of stability. For example, look at how his approach to the debt ceiling crisis contrasted with the rest of the GOP candidates in the field: he voiced conservative priorities, but wanted to the brinkmanship that he felt had unknown consequences. Yet he also has some bold proposals (politically speaking), like the elimination of cap gains and dividend taxation. I presume that Will's main calculation is that Huntsman is more likeable than Romney, and thus a better candidate, while still hailing from a similar conservative tradition--one that Will is more comfortable with.

Will seems to ignore in this article, though I'm sure he's aware of it, that there are whole segments of the American right that are no longer incrementalists. Which is odd, because when Reagan and Thatcher were wresting of conservative political parties here and in England, I'm pretty sure Will sided with them over the status quo. I'd be interested to know if Will sees our current trajectory as closer to a "natural equilibirium" than was the case in the '60s and '70s.

In any event, these movement conservatives believe that societal institutions need to be upended, just as liberals have believed for centuries. They are focused on upending the institutions of the Great Society, the New Deal, and the Warren Court, whereas liberals have been focused on the Church (purveyor, in their view, of patriarchy and ethnic supremacism), strict property and contractual rights (resulting in wealth inequality), and the belief in homogenous cultural and moral values.

For these political warriors/movement conservatives, currently most associated with the Tea Party, Gingrich's personality, and elements of his ideology, seems to be a fit, even if his long record may not align with their goals when closely scrutinized.

George Will on the current front runners

Will cuts down the current frontrunners. It is a piece that is startling in its candor (read: willingness to attack the prevailing view that Gingrich is a conservative), and also written by a man who clearly know the ropes, and whose experience and knowledge command attention. First, his attack on Romney:

Romney’s main objection to contemporary Washington seems to be that he is not administering it. God has 10 commandments, Woodrow Wilson had 14 points, Heinz had 57 varieties, but Romney’s economic platform has 59 planks — 56 more than necessary if you have low taxes, free trade and fewer regulatory burdens...

Obama is running as Harry Truman did in 1948, against Congress, but Republicans need not supply the real key to Truman’s success — Tom Dewey. Confident that Truman was unelectable, Republicans nominated New York’s chilly governor, whose virtues of experience and steadiness were vitiated by one fact: Voters disliked him.

He saves his harshest critique for Gingrich:

Gingrich...embodies the vanity and rapacity that make modern Washington repulsive. And there is his anti-conservative confidence that he has a comprehensive explanation of, and plan to perfect, everything...

His temperament — intellectual hubris distilled — makes him blown about by gusts of enthusiasm for intellectual fads, from 1990s futurism to “Lean Six Sigma” today...

Gingrich, who would have made a marvelous Marxist, believes everything is related to everything else and only he understands how. Conservatism, in contrast, is both cause and effect of modesty about understanding society’s complexities, controlling its trajectory and improving upon its spontaneous order. Conservatism inoculates against the hubristic volatility that Gingrich exemplifies and Genesis deplores: “Unstable as water, thou shalt not excel.”

Will offers brief praise of Perry as a possible alternative (out of deference to his wife, I presume, who works for Perry), but then goes on to praise the man that I must presume is his preferred candidate:

Jon Huntsman inexplicably chose to debut as the Republican for people who rather dislike Republicans, but his program is the most conservative. He endorses Paul Ryan’s budget and entitlement reforms. (Gingrich denounced Ryan’s Medicare reform as “right-wing social engineering.”) Huntsman would privatize Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (Gingrich’s benefactor). Huntsman would end double taxation on investment by eliminating taxes on capital gains and dividends. (Romney would eliminate them only for people earning less than $200,000, who currently pay just 9.3 percent of them.) Huntsman’s thorough opposition to corporate welfare includes farm subsidies. (Romney has justified them as national security measures — food security, somehow threatened. Gingrich says opponents of ethanol subsidies are “big-city” people hostile to farmers.) Huntsman considers No Child Left Behind, the semi-nationalization of primary and secondary education, “an unmitigated disaster.” (Romney and Gingrich support it. Gingrich has endorsed a national curriculum.) Between Ron Paul’s isolationism and the faintly variant bellicosities of the other six candidates stands Huntsman’s conservative foreign policy, skeptically nuanced about America’s need or ability to control many distant developments.


Mr. Will's summation:

Romney might not be a Dewey. Gingrich might stop being (as Churchill said of John Foster Dulles) a bull who carries his own china shop around with him. But both are too risky to anoint today.

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