Thursday, January 31, 2008

Now it's just sad

The Britney Spears saga continues--complete with police escorts to the hospital, apparent psychiatric evaluations, rumors flying, conflict between her family and other Spears associates, etc etc etc.

It's just sad.

Falsehood alert

Recently the Washington Post claimed: "Suicides among active-duty soldiers in 2007 reached their highest level since the Army began keeping such records in 1980, according to a draft internal study obtained by The Washington Post. Last year, 121 soldiers took their own lives, nearly 20 percent more than in 2006."

False! Actually: "The number of military suicides dropped during the Bush years compared to the Clinton years."

Details here, thanks to the invaluable Gateway Pundit.

Why not McCain?

Mark Levin on National Review Online lays out the case for conservatives against him.
I think it's worth a lengthy excerpt:

Last night McCain, who is the putative frontrunner, resorted to a barrage of personal assaults on Romney that reflect more on the man making them than the target of the attacks. McCain now has a habit of describing Romney as a “manager for profit” and someone who has “laid-off” people, implying that Romney is both unpatriotic and uncaring. Moreover, he complains that Romney is using his “millions” or “fortune” to underwrite his campaign. This is a crass appeal to class warfare. McCain is extremely wealthy through marriage. Romney has never denigrated McCain for his wealth or the manner in which he acquired it. Evidently Romney’s character doesn’t let him to cross certain boundaries of decorum and decency, but McCain’s does. And what of managing for profit? When did free enterprise become evil? This is liberal pablum which, once again, could have been uttered by Hillary Clinton...

As for McCain “the straight-talker,” how can anyone explain his abrupt about-face on two of his signature issues: immigration and tax cuts? As everyone knows, McCain led the battle not once but twice against the border-security-first approach to illegal immigration as co-author of the McCain-Kennedy bill. He disparaged the motives of the millions of people who objected to his legislation. He fought all amendments that would limit the general amnesty provisions of the bill. This controversy raged for weeks. Only now he says he’s gotten the message. Yet, when asked last night if he would sign the McCain-Kennedy bill as president, he dissembles, arguing that it’s a hypothetical question. Last Sunday on Meet the Press, he said he would sign the bill. There’s nothing straight about this talk. Now, I understand that politicians tap dance during the course of a campaign, but this was a defining moment for McCain. And another defining moment was his very public opposition to the Bush tax cuts in 2001 and 2003. He was the media’s favorite Republican in opposition to Bush. At the time his primary reason for opposing the cuts was because they favored the rich (and, by the way, they did not). Now he says he opposed them because they weren’t accompanied by spending cuts. That’s simply not correct.

Even worse than denying his own record, McCain is flatly lying about Romney’s position on Iraq. As has been discussed for nearly a week now, Romney did not support a specific date to withdraw our forces from Iraq. The evidence is irrefutable. And it’s also irrefutable that McCain is abusing the English language (Romney’s statements) the way Bill Clinton did in front of a grand jury. The problem is that once called on it by everyone from the New York Times to me, he obstinately refuses to admit the truth. So, last night, he lied about it again. This isn’t open to interpretation. But it does give us a window into who he is.

Of course, it’s one thing to overlook one or two issues where a candidate seeking the Republican nomination as a conservative might depart from conservative orthodoxy. But in McCain’s case, adherence is the exception to the rule — McCain-Feingold (restrictions on political speech), McCain-Kennedy (amnesty for illegal aliens), McCain-Kennedy-Edwards (trial lawyers’ bill of rights), McCain-Lieberman (global warming legislation), Gang of 14 (obstructing change to the filibuster rule for judicial nominations), the Bush tax cuts, and so forth. This is a record any liberal Democrat would proudly run on. Are we to overlook this record when selecting a Republican nominee to carry our message in the general election?

South Africa: short on juice

There's an electricity shortage in the nation of South Africa, long considered to be one of the few economic powerhouses on the African continent. What gives?
"The predicament was foretold. In 1998, a government report warned that at the rate the economy was growing, the nation faced serious electricity shortages by 2007 unless capacity was expanded. The government, led by President Thabo Mbeki, who assumed office in June 1999, tried unsuccessfully to induce private investors to build additional power plants. Only belatedly did it permit Eskom to begin the necessary expansion. “The president has accepted that this government got its timing wrong,” Alec Erwin, the public enterprises minister, said last Friday at a much-anticipated news briefing that broke a mystifying public silence."

Fundamentals: 1] 30 and 40 years ago, many believed that what held the continent of Africa back was white racism and imperialism. Eliminate imperialism from Africa, they said, and all would be well. Well, life isn't that simple. 2] The continent of Africa contains the highest concentration of incompetent, corrupt governments on earth.

The real reason why Obama worries the Clintons

He raised $32 million in the past month alone. More, I take it, than did Senator Clinton.
He can compete with them in every state when it comes to money and advertising.

Romney still a GOP player

There were reports yesterday that Mitt Romney was pulling back from doing any major TV advertising in the Super Tuesday primary states, thus practically conceding defeat.

Those reports were not true. Romney is all in.
Those reports from yesterday were hard for me to believe the minute I heard them--why would Romney passionately make his case at last night's debate vs. Senator McCain, and then pull back from seriously competing? Answer: he wouldn't.

The core of their being

Did you catch this? From a recent article in New York Magazine, on the Clinton-Obama race:
"Hillary believes, to the core of her political being, that what changes people’s lives are government programs."

I think that's true. And, to be fair, I think Obama believes that too.
Isn't that sad, though? Can't other people change your life? Can't your family change your life? Can't ideas change your life?

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

NFL: Brett Favre

News item: Brett Favre says he hasn't decided if he'll return next year.

Prediction: he'll be back. He had fun this year; he said so many times. He's still healthy. He won't want to end his career with that kind of loss; nor will he want his final pass thrown in the NFL to be an interception.

All good NFL fans want him back, too.

Super Bowl: Plax predicts

So New York Giants receiver Plaxico Burress predicts the Giants will win the Super Bowl, and there's controversy.

Come on, folks--of course Burress believes his team will win. When you're a big time athlete like he is, playing in a game like this, as a conference champion--he MUST believe his team will win. He's been taught his whole career to believe that. There's no controversy here. If he didn't believe his team could and will win, he wouldn't be where he is.

More Edwards: a theory

Here's some more on John Edwards' withdrawal from the Democratic race, which we mentioned earlier today.

You notice that Edwards has endorsed no one, and most journalists today remain leery of predicting which way he will go. But I think he pulled out now because he wants Obama to win, (Obama being the anti-Washington candidate of change, like Edwards) and he thinks that the majority of his voters--maybe even a solid majority--will go to Obama. So why not clear the way for him. Edwards seems to dislike Senator Clinton, who he sees as the status quo candidate.

Edwards doesn't want to say this out loud, however; he doesn't want to burn bridges with the Clintons, who he knows could still be the eventual party nominee.

Bill Clinton and VP Cheney: the wrong comparison

Some on the left are questioning whether they really eventually want Bill Clinton back in the White House in 2009 in, essentially, an undefined but potentially powerful role. That's good. But the rationale they're using is bad:

"Think about it. A former president, who knows the inner workings of government intimately, would be back in the White House. He may have no official title or role. Yet he would, it's fair to assume, be deeply enmeshed in both politics and policy. To what extent would this constitute a co-presidency? Writing in the New York Times on Saturday, Garry Wills noted that America's founders had wrestled with just this question and decided executive power had to be invested in one person for the sake of holding that person accountable. Wills - who has written glowingly about Hillary in the past - directly compared Bill's possible role to the one being played now by Dick Cheney and concluded that "it does not seem to be a good idea to put another co-president in the White House"."

But what both Garry Wills and The Guardian miss is this: Mr. Cheney was ELECTED. His name was on the ballot. He has a constitutional role. And there's a decades-long tradition of vice-presidents having advisory and policy roles in an administration. There are no such things for a First Lad.

Still, it's good to see some on the left questioning the Clintons.

The Republicans: Florida aftermath

"McCain can now consolidate his support in advance of Super Tuesday, with the growing perception that he will clinch the nomination."

Yes, that's what I'm hearing from some conservatives and Republicans, too--a seeming urge to declare it over, to say McCain has it all locked up. But hold on. No, this thing isn't over.

1] No question, McCain is now the front-runner. And now, Republicans across the nation will begin to digest that fact. Do they truly want McCain to be this party's nominee? Are they truly comfortable with that? Remember, the last time McCain seemed to be a front-runner, after New Hampshire, he promptly lost Michigan.

2] It's a two-man race now. Huckabee's role in this campaign, and his electablility, is obviously badly fading. If the 2008 race has shown anything, it is that if voters don't think you as a candidate are electable, your numbers tank in a hurry. I predict we'll see that with Huckabee. Where will his voters go? I can't see them going to McCain. I see them going Romney's way.

3] Romney continues to have money and organization.

4] McCain has, frankly, in my view, taken very poor positions in the past on several issues. McCain-Feingold is an unbelievable infringement on free speech. McCain has edged dangerously close to advocating amnesty for illegal immigrants in the past. In 2001 he, in my view rather petulantly, opposed the Bush tax cuts. Romney can still make an issue of these things. And frankly, I thought McCain's attacks on Romney over this past weekend, claiming that Romney had been in favor of a "timetable" for withdrawal from Iraq, was without foundation and smacked of dishonesty.

5] I don't understand why some Republicans and conservatives see McCain as the most electable Republican. Look, folks, there's a real chance Barack Obama will be the Democrats' nominee. Is that the choice we really want to present to Americans in the fall---a white-haired, elderly, cranky John McCain up against the young, hip-looking Obama selling a message of "hope" (no matter how empty that rhetoric sometimes is)? Folks, that's a terrible campaign "narrative", as the political pros would call it, and I can't see it coming out well for Republicans.

Don't be in a rush to call this thing "over." We shouldn't be in a rush for it to be over. It's far from clear that it's done, and we shouldn't want it to be done--it's not clear at all to me that McCain is our best candidate.

John Edwards to exit

People say conservatism is on the decline, but what happened to liberal populism?

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Getting help?

Pop culture icon Britney Spears is apparently the subject of an intervention.
I wonder if A&E's TV show "Intervention" helped spur this.

At the same time, being 16 years old and pregnant only helps your TV ratings. Sigh...

Prediction: Florida

I predict the winner of the Republican primary in Florida tonight will be Mitt Romney, in a very close race.

Reasons: from what I've read, it appears he has the stronger ground operation and get-out-the-vote effort. He's advertised heavily, out-spending McCain. Polls seem to show him trending upward ever-so-slightly over McCain---here's an example...
And here's another.

A Romney victory would make him the front-runner in the GOP race, but not by much. The race would still be on.
But it's very close in Florida, and a lot of the good political reporters on the web are shrugging their shoulders and saying "who knows", when it comes to who will win. So we'll see. But I predict: Romney to be the narrow victor tonight.

China crackdown

...on human rights advocates, in advance of this summer's Olympics.

The Bush administration should make more of a public protest of this than it has so far.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Senator Clinton goes to Tennessee State U. to speak to the African-American community there...

...but the crowd is overwhelmingly white.

How Republican presidential candidates should be addressing the economy

The editors of National Review say how they would have answered a question from last Thursday night's debate:

“Tim, the economy we Republicans inherited was not sustainable. A stock-market bubble had driven unemployment temporarily down, and revenues temporarily up. That couldn’t last. In the 1990s we were not paying attention to security threats. We paid the price in lives lost — and also in a major and lasting shock to our economy. In the ‘90s we were blessed, through no action of our government, with low oil prices too. There was no guarantee that would last, either.

“So when Republicans took office we faced serious new challenges. And we have acted. Thanks to our tax cuts, homeownership is up, consumer net worth is up, and average hourly earnings are up. The deficit has been going down. Real interest rates are lower than they were even in the ‘90s. More of our people are going to school now than in the ‘90s.

“I am going to keep taxes and spending as low as we responsibly can so that our economy continues to enjoy long-term growth. I have outlined reforms that will help people pay less for health care and keep more of their paychecks. Neither I nor anyone else on this stage can control the economy. We can’t set the price of oil. But we can do a lot to keep the economy as strong as it can be, even when there are shocks. And if the Democrats want to raise taxes or nationalize health care, I’ll be there to stop them.

“And I hope my friends on this stage would say the same thing.”

I like it. Though I find nothing wrong with the candidates also stressing their own records and votes.

The Republicans: Florida

The latest polls show it a dead heat between Romney and McCain--three polls show it only a one-point difference between the two.

Amazingly close. I'll predict the outcome tomorrow.

The Kennedys back Obama

There's also an un-Clinton Democratic establishment, and they've finally found their candidate.

China--still in many ways poor and overpopulated

Because of very bad weather and a coming holiday season, 200,000 travelers are stranded at one railroad station.

China has grown economically over the years, and has huge potential. But we forget sometimes that many parts of it remain poor, and its infrastructure strains to keep up with its people.

Conservatives hope he means it

"[President] Bush said he plans to warn Congress that in his remaining month in office, he will veto any bill that doesn't cut earmarks by 50 percent."

Fundamental: Beware of being poll-driven

David Frum, a noted conservative writer and opinion-maker, wrote an interesting column the other day.
It has to do with what ails conservatives, and about whether the Right can continue to see the fusion of economic, social, and foreign-policy conservatives. (That's long been an interest of mine--see my 2002 book on Frank S. Meyer, one of the founders of the modern conservative movement and leading propounder of fusionism.)

I worry, though, that in his prescriptions for what ails us, Mr. Frum goes a bit astray. See for example two quotes from his recent piece. He writes: "Economic conservatives are right to want lower taxes on saving and investment. They need to recognize, however, that supply-side tax cuts are no longer a vote-winner." He also writes: "Social traditionalists too need to adapt to new realities. Opposition to same-sex marriage is dwindling. The pro-life cause, though gaining strength, remains a minority point of view."

He seems to suggest, then, that conservatives should not talk about certain things, should perhaps even change their positions on them, because they don't poll well. Beware. For a long time, linchpins of the Reaganite philosophy didn't poll well--tax cuts were seen as extremist nonsense that would wreck the economy, and increased military spending and a tough stance towards the Soviet Union would surely bring on World War III. When Ronald Reagan won the Republican nomination in 1980, there were Democrats who professed to be delighted. Reagan and his conservative stances could never win; or so polling data on some of Reagan's positions indicated. And let's not forget how conservatives used to rip Bill Clinton during his presidency for relying so much on polls to determine his positions, how we used to criticize him for meeting first, on many days, with his pollster.

It's early in this election season. Polls can change quickly. Sure, right now they don't look that great. We mustn't be complacent. I completely agree with Mr. Frum that new thinking is always in order. But we at the same time mustn't panic and change positions because of polls.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

John McCain, Mitt Romney, and the war in Iraq

So John McCain is claiming that Mitt Romney's position on Iraq is flawed because, he claims, Romney in the past advocated a specific timetable for withdrawing from Iraq.
Well, now. If you go here, you can see that his claim just isn't true.
And in any case, if one IS going to try to twist Romney's words and position and claim he supports "timetables", well, guess what---then one can argue McCain supported them too! See here.

Stop this nonsense, Mr. McCain. You should be better than this.

The Democrats: South Carolina and after

So Barack Obama won South Carolina, overwhelmingly; even the Clintons can't spin this one.
The New York Times suggests Obama may have the momentum now.
But now the key is February 5th and Super Tuesday, and who knows what will happen?
I suspect that Hillary Clinton's support from many establishment Democrats, unions, and her organization will give her an edge on the huge playing field that is Super Tuesday. Mr. Obama can't rely on the black vote on that day, either. On the other hand, again, Obama has shown that he is "electable", and that has definitely helped in providing "bounce" to candidates. Isn't it possible that many Californians or Missourians or Kansans, a bit tired of the Clintons, waiting to see if there was a viable alternative to the Clintons, will embrace it? Surely Obama has proven he's liberal enough for most Democratic activists.

So Mrs. Clinton might emerge with a slight edge after Super Tuesday. But I predict she won't have it won.

UPDATE: And by the way, there is evidence today that Barack Obama is running better among white male Democrats than some have said--see here...

And here.

lMichigan is proud today

And so am I, as someone born and raised in Michigan--Miss Michigan was crowned Miss America last night.

And I see that she wishes to focus on eating disorders as her main cause. Good for her, and congratulations to her.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

College basketball Saturday upsets

I'm a big fan of college hoops, too. So let's pick some upsets for today:

#Mississippi to lose on the road to 13-5 Mississippi State.
Arizona State (at home) to upset #6 Washington State.
#9 Georgetown to hold on and win on the road vs West Virginia.
Baylor to win again vs Oklahoma (not really an upset, but I'm impressed with Baylor--keep an eye on them).

Always remember, in college hoops, being at home can be real important (obviously).
So can having experience and a dominant big man (Georgetown has that).
Along with really good point guards.

Friday, January 25, 2008


I saw the movie and I highly recommend it, along with agreeing with the opinion found here.
The movie is funny. It's young star, Ellen Page, is terrific.
And it portrays a young woman, in high school, becoming pregnant but...ultimately rejecting the choice of having an abortion. And that choice was shown sympathetically. Refreshing.

The least repellent Republican

That, boiled down, amounts to the substance of the NY Times' endorsement of John McCain.
More details here, including the fact that apparently the McCain campaign touted the endorsement on the front page of its website--but soon, upon being zinged for the endorsement by the Romney campaign, quietly took it down.

As the Powerliners point out, the tone and substance of this endorsement literally drips with contempt and insults for Republicans. What McCain should do, if he really wants to begin to unite conservatives around his candidacy, is publicly reject this endorsement. But he won't. He apparently wanted the endorsement, even meeting with the Times' editorial board.

Mrs. Clinton and her ads

She's got ads running nationally right now.
But what's important here is not just the horse-race/strategy aspect of it.
Remember that candidate advertising usually contains some kind of idea or principle behind it (even negative ads--though that's a topic for another time).
Take Senator Clinton's new ad: "In one that made its debut on Wednesday, Mrs. Clinton, whose campaign has been sparring with Mr. Obama all week, instead trains her fire on the current administration, with the words “Bush did nothing” streaming across a white screen at one point, a reference to what she characterizes as unheeded warnings of a foreclosure crisis."

This is very typical Democratic Party politics and thinking. It goes back to Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal, to Harry Truman and the Fair Deal, to Lyndon Johnson and the Great Society. It always suggests that Republicans and conservatives are "do nothing" types. It calls for an activist government that will inevitably spend a lot more money. Hillary Clinton really is running, in many ways, as a traditional, Rooseveltian Democrat. We'll see how she does; conservatives will have to continue to point out the problems behind that kind of thinking (high taxes, runaway spending, likely inflation, etc.)

The Christian candidate

Goodness. Some Democrats I know have been complaining in recent weeks about how religious, and obviously so, are candidates for the Republican nomination such as Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney. One liberal acquaintance of mine said that Mitt Romney's speech of a few weeks ago, in which he identified the commonalities he has with evangelical Christians and stressed that he doesn't want to see religion banished from the public square, was "frightening."

So I wonder what she thinks of this. Quote: "As Mr. Obama traveled around South Carolina this week before Saturday’s Democratic primary, his campaign took on a Christian glow, with shout-outs to Jesus by the candidate, warm-ups by gospel choirs, and glossy leaflets that showed Mr. Obama speaking from a pulpit and clasping hands with a minister, his head bowed in prayer. “Answering the Call,” one piece of literature said in large type. “Committed Christian,” said another —language a bit reminiscent of the kind Mike Huckabee, a Baptist pastor, used to win the Republican Iowa caucus."

The Republicans: debate and aftermath

Well, I watched the entire Republican debate last night. I was struck by their cordiality towards each other; any criticisms of each other fairly muted. I didn't think any of the candidates did badly. I didn't really hear much from them that I hadn't heard before. One question I had was this: Huckabee, Romney, and Giuliani all need to do battle with Sen. McCain. So why didn't they criticize him in areas where he's clearly vulnerable to conservatives? Why didn't they go at him on substance--on immigration, and especially on McCain-Feingold? The 11th Commandment among Republicans isn't understood to prevent pointing out--civilly--differences between the candidates on policy.

I see today that Senator McCain is now rather loudly criticizing Mitt Romney.
I guess last night's civility is now only a memory. I suspect also that Mr. McCain fears he's behind in the polls in Florida.

Changing life in these United States dept

Yet another example--you see them daily--of how technology can send embarrassing pics and videos practically around the world instantly.

You wonder: how can persons allow themselves to be filmed and photographed in potentially embarrassing situations? Don't they know the danger they place themselves in these days?
But then, the persons embarrassed here were of course only in high school--youth and immaturily will probably forever overcome care and caution.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Super Bowl watch: the Patriots

Continued focus today on Tom Brady's ankle.
Bah. Look--he'll play next week. I think all the silence is simply Coach Belichick's way of messing with peoples' heads.
The Giants, I would suspect, are too smart to fall for it.

Your government, working for you!

Except these city employees, who busily accessed porn sites from their computers all day:
"No doubt you've heard that nine District of Columbia city employees have been fired for accessing porn websites at work. But did you get the details? These nine apparently were responsible for 20,000 hits apiece in one year. That's not a furtive glance now and then. What else did they do all day?"

Good advice for Senator McCain

It comes today from the editors of National Review:

"McCain’s supporters are telling one another that his victories in New Hampshire and South Carolina prove that he can ignore and isolate conservative opinion leaders such as Rush Limbaugh. That’s what they said when he won primaries in 2000, too, and McCain paid dearly for listening to them. Our guess is that the voters who are leaving Huckabee and Thompson will go disproportionately to Romney. McCain has yet to win a plurality of self-identified conservatives anywhere. McCain will never win over all conservatives, even if he gets the nomination. But he can reassure conservatives if he pledges to name a conservative running mate and identifies respected conservative legal figures to whom he will turn when nominating judges. He can promise to approach immigration reform piecemeal rather than comprehensively. He should say that strong evidence that the illegal-immigrant population is shrinking will have to arrive before he legalizes any large segment of that population. And he can acknowledge that scientific advances have weakened the case for federal funding of embryonic-stem-cell research."

Fundamental: McCain cannot, in my view, win the GOP nomination without conservative support. Nor can he win the fall election without it. To get conservative support (and doesn't he still claim to be, while a maverick, still part of the conservative movement?) he's got to run like a conservative and BE a conservative. Will he?

Dog unfortunately biting man

A couple of days ago, actor Heath Ledger dies, probably from some kind of accidental pill overdose. And now British soul singer Amy Winehouse will enter rehab.

The famous needing treatment and dying young.
So not a surprise any more.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The sloppy thinking of David Brooks

David Brooks is a leading neoconservative writer, who pens a regular column for the NY Times' editorial page. Don't get me wrong; I'm glad he's there. But his latest column, in which he takes shots at the conservative "establishment", and which has already been panned throughout the conservative blogosphere, demands a bit of attention here as well.

His column is here. Basically, he argues that although this conservative "establishment" (such as National Review or Rush Limbaugh) want to tell conservative voters what to do (to, in his view, get them to back Mitt Romney and to despise John McCain and Mike Huckabee), Brooks argues happily that these voters aren't obeying. Quote: "The lesson is not that the conservative establishment is headed for the ash heap. The lesson is that the Republican Party, even in its shrunken state, is diverse. Regular Republican voters don’t seem to mind independent thinking. There’s room for moderates as well as orthodox conservatives. Limbaugh, Grover Norquist and James Dobson have influence, but they are not arbiters of conservative doctrine."

Gosh. No kidding. Nor have they ever claimed to be. Let's see--in how many ways is Brooks mistaken? Let's see: 1] Both Limbaugh's show and NR's "The Corner" blog are forums of DISCUSSION, and this is very much their purpose. There is no attempt to force anyone to follow a party line. Limbaugh has always laughed at the notion that his listeners are, or that he wants them to be, "mind-numbed robots" (in Rush's usual phraseology). On the other hand, the mainstream media sees Limbaugh's listeners in just that way; it's too bad Brooks echoes their thinking. 2] Has Brooks never read The Corner? Or the sites of The Weekly Standard or The American Spectator? There, over the past months, one could have read essays and posts from Fred Thompson conservatives, John McCain conservatives, Rudy Giuliani conservatives (!)--don't forget that Giuliani is pro-choice on abortion, yet he's had several defenders on The Corner--and even Ron Paul conservatives. Oh, so Brooks has discovered that conservatism is diverse, has he? If he'd actually read The Corner or listened to Limbaugh he'd have discovered that long ago. 3] Where does Brooks get the idea that conservative, Republican voters are going McCain's way? In the actual primaries and caucuses that have been held so far, McCain has yet to win a majority of the votes cast by Republicans and conservatives. He's won in New Hampshire and South Carolina only because of independents. Mike Huckabee has only won in Iowa. The guy who's gotten the most votes so far actually is Mitt Romney.

Mr. Brooks obviously likes McCain. That's fine. Who knows, maybe Mr. McCain will actually win the GOP nomination. It's possible. But I think, when he looks at Republicans, Brooks is seeing what he wants to see, not what the evidence necessarily (so far) shows.

Why is Bill Clinton so angry?

Even liberal/Democrat columnists like the Washington Post's Eugene Robinson have noticed:
Clinton, he writes, has put "high-mindedness on hold -- maybe it was never such a great fit, after all -- to co-star in his wife Hillary's campaign as a coldblooded political hit man."

Why? Because Barack Obama threatens to "eclipse" Clinton's presidency and his accomplishments.
"There's a battle to be fought against an upstart challenger who has the audacity to suggest that maybe the Clinton presidency, successful as it was in many ways, didn't change the world -- and that he, given the office, could do better. Some things, I guess, just can't be allowed. Bill Clinton obviously has decided that history can wait."

Sounds right to me. It's always most interesting when progressives like Robinson write about other progressives. It's revealing.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Fred Thompson exits

He today withdrew his candidacy, after his less than stellar finish in South Carolina.
I think this is a good take on his candidacy and its meaning.
I'm glad he ran, but in retrospect, he just didn't seem to have the passion for the office, and he waited far too long to get into the race. He should have gotten in last summer, when clearly his candidacy was a hot topic. But he didn't.

The Democrats: last night's debate

It was rough and tumble, with Obama and Clinton going at it rather angrily, as ABC reports.

You know, some Democrats who I've talked to insist that no matter how rough the Obama/Clinton battle gets, that the Democrats will come together, once a nominee is known, and have a "love fest" (as one contact of mine put it) at this summer's convention.

Well, it's true that I haven't heard Clinton or Obama supporters vow to take a walk if their candidate is denied the nomination. But it's early. As this thing gets angrier and angrier, who knows what will happen.

Oprah a traitor?

So say some feminists--because she's backing Barack Obama, not Hillary Clinton.
Writes a commenter on Oprah's web site: "For the first time in history we actually have a host at putting a woman in the white house and Oprah backs the black MAN. She's choosing her race over her gender – hypocrisy [sic] at it's finest!! Oprah – you should be ashamed of yourself!!!!!"

Wow. So some believe one should support Clinton simply because she's a woman--never mind policy positions and other factors? I'm surprised there are people who think that way. Though maybe I shouldn't be--maybe this is the inevitable end result of identity politics.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

NFL Picks

NEW ENGLAND 14 over San Diego. PICK: PATRIOTS. San Diego is so beat up. New England has come so far--it's hard to imagine the Patriots stumbling here, weather/stiff winds or no stiff winds. New England to cover, 38-17.

GREEN BAY 7.5 over New York Giants. PICK: PACKERS. The records of Brett Favre and the Packers in cold weather games at Lambeau, in cold-weather games in the playoffs at Lambeau, is quite amazing--the Packers have won, if I recall correctly, over 90% of the time. The Pack is at home, they like and want this kind of cold weather, and Favre and his young cohorts are playing with confidence. I go with the Pack here, 24-14.

It sets up a Packers/Patriots Super Bowl, which ought to be some kind of interesting matchup, with Favre vs Brady being the main highlight. By the way, I was only 2-2 last week; I'm 7-3 so far in the playoffs.

Suzanne Pleshette, RIP

Suzanne Pleshette, a long-time actress who appeared many times in movies and on TV, has died. She was 70.

I will always remember her best as Bob Newhart's wife, Emily, on "The Bob Newhart Show", one of the anchors in that great lineup of CBS comedies and variety shows running on Saturday nights throughout the 1970s. Remember those? "All in the Family"; "The Mary Tyler Moore Show"; Bob Newhart's show; and "The Carol Burnett Show." It was great; I liked nothing better in those days than to settle down with a nice bowl of popcorn on those nights, and watch. Ms. Pleshette was a good actress; she will be missed.

the Republicans: John McCain

So Mr. McCain won South Carolina (as I predicted--the only prediction I got right yesterday).
But I note that exit polls show that, while he did well among veterans and independents, he didn't win among Republicans and conservatives. In fact, he has yet to win among those voters.

That will eventually come to haunt him. In Florida, it's a closed primary--only Republicans can vote in it. Mr. McCain has NOT united conservatives around his candidacy--not by a long shot. One small but illustrative example of this is George Will's anti-McCain column in today's Washington Post--read the whole thing.
This thing is far from over.

A party divided

No, not just Republicans, although you'd think so from reading the mainstream media.
But it's also the Democrats who are divided (as the Nevada caucuses of yesterday showed)--divided by race, class, and gender.
And it's time for that to get some attention, too.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Predictions: SC and NV

Nevada: well, Mitt Romney has already won the Republican caucus.
Among the Democrats, I have a feeling that Barack Obama will squeak out a narrow victory there (although, as I write this, Senator Clinton has a slim lead with 35% of precincts reporting).

South Carolina: the tea leaves I've been reading suggest that the weather there is not good today; that military veterans and other pieces of John McCain's constituency are highly motivated to vote, and perhaps evangelical Christians not so much. That Fred Thompson is surging, but it's come too late. So I think John McCain will win a narrow victory in South Carolina. We'll see.

A homeless individual who gets it

He's from downtown Fort Worth, Texas:
"A lot of homeless people make it bad for the people that are homeless because they're doing the drugs, they're homeless and they make big messes," he said."

Why voters do what they do

David Brooks had a good column on this yesterday--key quote:
"The truth is that many of the theories we come up with are bogus. They are based on the assumption that voters make cold, rational decisions about who to vote for and can tell us why they decided as they did. This is false. In reality, we voters — all of us — make emotional, intuitive decisions about who we prefer, and then come up with post-hoc rationalizations to explain the choices that were already made beneath conscious awareness."

This is often true, and I'd add that historical analysis has confirmed it. For example, historical research has shown that one's ethnicity can influence party identification. Throughout much of the 19th century, for example, a majority of Irish-Americans tended to vote Democrat. Family ties also affects party choice. Often, we'll be influenced in our political views by our parents. And so this where today's political pundits often get into trouble. They assume voters must be making their decisions based on some kind of logical reasoning deriving from issues. Ain't necessarily so.

Friday, January 18, 2008

A literary aside

By the way, this is an excellent book: "A Abundance of Katherines", by John Green.
It's a book for teens, about teens, but really it's for everyone--for those who are, or some day will be, parents of teens, too. It's about the uneasiness and confusion and angst teens feel, but also about how they can perhaps get out of it and "get real." It's about how to "matter"--and that one way is to have, and be connected to, friends. A good read.

The problem with wonderful non-ideological calls for unity

Jonah Goldberg nails it:

"People only say we need to move beyond ideology, we need to put partisanship aside, or the time for discussion is over, when they want to tell you to shut up and get with their program. That is a fundamentally undemocratic, quasi-fascistic way of talking about politics."

The problem with Mike Huckabee (updated)

Rich Lowry points it out well today:
The problem is that Huckabee so far appeals only to evangelical Christians (and there's no indication right now this will change). He's tried to broaden his appeal by running as a quasi-populist. It hasn't worked. Quote: "In Iowa, Huckabee played the religion card against his Mormon rival, all the while pretending he was doing no such thing. Then, he became enamored of his line that people should vote for a candidate who looks like someone they work with rather than someone who lays them off — another shot at Romney. He concluded his TV ad in Michigan with the line, but it got him nothing. Ordinary looks don’t constitute an economic policy. Huckabee’s campaign has been run on, to invoke two of his favorite substances, duct tape and WD-40. When reporters asked who his foreign-policy advisers were, he cited former ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton as someone with whom he has “spoken or will continue to speak.” But he never had. His advisers then said he had e-mailed Bolton, which he had once without ever following up. It was vintage Huckabee — slippery and laughably unserious."

Huckabee lacks substance, and in any case conservatives should always reject his form of bald populism--just as they rejected it 4 decades ago when George Wallace came calling.


One of the few things the United Nations is good at: finding celebrities to speak for it.

psssttt---Britney Spears might be looking for a gig.

“The bottom line is, his outbursts don’t help the campaign"

Former President Clinton frequently blows up in anger while campaigning for his wife.

The interesting question is: why.
Does he feel he and his wife are somehow owed the office of the presidency?
Does it enrage him that other Democrats dare to challenge the Clintons, and criticize them?
Fundamental: no one is owed the office of the presidency, and it's very dangerous for anyone to believe that he/she are. Power corrupts.

UPDATE: And there's also this quote from the former president, from an article in today's Washington Post:

"The Republicans were so mean to me when I was president that I was poorer when I left than when I got there."

You poor victim. How much money did you make on your autobiography, again? How much money were you being paid per speech in the last seven years? You're pathetic, Mr. Clinton.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

the Republicans: Rudy Giuliani

Stu Rothenberg has a good point today--don't write off Rudy yet:

"The crucial point is this: Giuliani didn’t fall in the national polls because Republican voters decided he doesn’t have the stuff to be president. He didn’t see his crowds thin because rank-and-file Republicans finally turned thumbs down on his more moderate social views (on abortion, gay rights or gun control). And he didn’t fall off the media’s national radar because Republicans remembered his friendship with Bernie Kerik or his messy personal life when he was still serving as mayor. Giuliani’s star dimmed during the first half of January, not because he committed a gaffe but because he made himself irrelevant. When he becomes relevant at the end of January, both voters and the national media will once again turn to Rudy, and that’s when he’ll have his shot."

the Republicans: South Carolina

Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post believes that the current South Carolina playing field favors John McCain.

Me, I'm not so sure. Yes, demographic and other changes in the state have led, in the past 8 years, to fiscal conservative candidates beating out social conservatives. But unlike Cillizza, I don't believe McCain is the lone fiscal conservative running against three social conservatives. He forgets how Mitt Romney won Michigan--by focusing on economic issues and changing Washington, including its free-spending ways. If Romney cuts into McCain's economic-conservative bloc, then it's anyone's ballgame in the Palmetto State.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Romney and the Reagan coalition

John Hinderaker of Powerline makes an excellent point:
"...on whether the Reagan coalition has irretrievably splintered. I don't think the conservative coalition has fallen apart, by any means. But the relative emphasis that should be given to each component of the conservative philosophy varies from time to time and from candidate to candidate. Ronald Reagan himself gave different weight to different aspects of conservatism in different races. He was elected Governor of California largely on the basis of his stout opposition to the counterculture that was infecting California's universities and other institutions at the time. When he ran for President, his emphasis was on the economy first, foreign policy second, and the social issues a distant third, if they were on the radar screen at all. Those priorities were dictated by the Carter administration's disastrous record on economic policy and by Reagan's own decades-long study of, and opposition to, Communism. Governor Romney should take a lesson from Reagan's political history and adapt his campaign to the needs of the moment. The time has come to talk, not just expertly but passionately, about the economic issues that are rapidly taking center stage. The jury is still out on whether Mitt Romney can be a formidable enough campaigner to capture the White House. I'm certain, though, that the more he focuses his campaign on the issues to which he has devoted his life and his career, the better his chances will be."

And I would add: this has always been the case with post-World War II political conservatism. Take Barry Goldwater in his 1964 campaign for the presidency. He too placed different emphases on the different pieces of conservatism. He focused on foreign policy and the battle against communism first; the economy and the dangers of government spending and over-regulation, second; and social issues third, and not very loudly (mainly there he talked about crime).

Note also that Hinderaker, perhaps without knowing it, explains also why Rudy Giuliani can still easily be a factor in this race. For what Hinderaker urges Romney to do above--is what Giuliani has been doing all along.

He's never lacked for temerity

Bill Clinton labels Barack Obama the "establishment" candidate.

What's the meaning of Mitt's victory

Perhaps ABC's "The Note" and others have it right:
"This much is clear: Romney, R-Mass., has found a product he's comfortable selling -- optimism. There have been many iterations of his candidacy, but this was probably the best fit from the start: the turnaround artist, the businessman, the overall optimistic leader who (even if he can't quite fill himself with empathy on command) conveys a sense of competence. "Just as important as Mr. Romney's personal ties was that he found himself, after setbacks in Iowa and New Hampshire, in an economically downtrodden state that has shed millions of jobs," Michael Luo writes in The New York Times. "The economic woes here played neatly into his strengths as a candidate, and his newly retooled message centered around his private sector experience and a promise to bring change to Washington."

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

One cheer for prognosticators

After the New Hampshire primary and the universal predictions of a Hillary Clinton defeat...
which never happened, leading to many denunciations of pollsters and pundits...

Let's remember that they don't always get it wrong. John Zogby, for example, way back in December, predicted that Hillary Clinton would finish third in Iowa. She did.

Whites are racist, even when they support a black candidate

Or so implies Bob Johnson, the founder of BET, a prominent supporter of Hillary Clinton, who got in trouble the other day for quite obviously hinting at Barack Obama's past drug use.
And today he's even worse: "[Johnson] said Obama has avoided talking about race, a tactic that Johnson said made him acceptable to the largely white electorate of Iowa. Obama won the state's Democratic caucuses on Jan. 3. "White America is saying, 'He's safe for us, he should be safe for you guys,' " Johnson said, referring to blacks. "We're letting other people pick our leaders."

Wow. Just wow.

Prediction: Michigan primary

The experts and pollsters are divided right now on who they think will win the Republican primary there.

My guess: Romney has (again) poured in $$ for heavy advertising; he does have Michigan roots; he's been able to make a fairly effective line of attack against John McCain, for his pessimism concerning Michigan's economy; and I have the sense that Romney's been gaining in various polls for the past few days. So: I predict Mitt Romney wins a narrow victory in Michigan. Which would mean: 3 Republican contests so far; 3 different winners.

Nancy Pelosi and unintended consequences

"Nanny Nancy" Pelosi wants congresspeople and all Hill employees eating healthier and fancier:
"The processed cheese has been replaced with brie. The Jell-O has made way for raspberry kiwi tarts and mini-lemon blueberry trifles. Meatloaf has moved over for mahi mahi and buns have been shunted aside in favor of baguettes. A revolution is afoot at the deli counters, grills and salad bars of the U.S. House of Representatives. Newly ascendant Democrats may have hit roadblocks on Iraq and fiscal issues, but they have revamped congressional menus, replacing fatty, pre-made foods with healthier, gourmet alternatives. The once dreary congressional cafeterias now abound with haute cuisine."

Great! But as happens frequently with liberal Democrats, Speaker Pelosi seems never to have considered the fact that her plans may hurt the very folks she wishes to help: "
But there can be a downside to delicious. Not everyone is happy with the enhanced offerings. Many congressional employees have complained that as the food quality has increased, so have the prices. “It’s a big jump from high school cafeteria to fancy-pants gourmet. I just wish my pay improved,” said Caryn Schenewerk, a staffer for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.). A fruit and cheese side dish with two small wedges of brie and cheddar, six grapes, two saltines and one strawberry cost $4.95, for example."


Monday, January 14, 2008

The Clintons get ugly

Against Obama, of course. Yet Hillary paints herself as the victim, as Matt Bai points out in today's NY Times:

"What’s most confounding about this latest turn into ugliness, though, is the Clintons’ remarkable capacity to cast themselves as the victims in every fight. And so here is Hillary Rodham Clinton accusing Barack Obama of somehow injecting race into the campaign, because she found herself in a world of trouble for her own comments about Martin Luther King and Lyndon Johnson. Now, I really do think she was intending only to make a sensible point about the value of experience in the White House, but look, the Clintons embody the generation that invented identity politics and political correctness. If Mrs. Clinton couldn’t guess at how that comment was going to land in the black community, then she must have been suffering amnesia."

Not that this should surprise us--the Clintons play rough. Prediction: this, however, will not play well in the black community. Obama to win South Carolina (with more to come).

An independent appeal?

I know that some Republicans and conservatives are irritated at this:
that John McCain seeks to appeal to independents, is appealing to them, and says conservatives need to appeal more to them.
I think those on the Right irritated at McCain for this are slightly off-base. There's nothing wrong with appealing to independents. The question is: how are you seeking to do it. Are you doing so by emphasizing conservative themes and principles that many independents might embrace (no to affirmative action; yes to school choice; yes to being tough on crime; yes to securing our borders)?
Or are you doing so by trying to echo more liberal ideas (big-government solutions to climate change, to poverty)? (as, too often, Mr. McCain does?)
It's a key distinction.

The Supremes speak dept

Major decision handed down today:
"The lawsuit argued that the FDA's policy to withhold early-stage experimental drugs from terminally ill patients violates the Constitution by depriving them of life and liberty without due process. Without any comment or recorded dissent, the justices refused to review a U.S. appeals court ruling in August that there is no fundamental constitutional right of access to experimental drugs for the terminally ill."

Which sounds right to me. That doesn't mean that the patients in this case DON'T deserve to access to the experimental drugs they seek. Maybe they do. But the "constitutional right" they claimed to exist, in fact doesn't. Clearly the founders had no intention of creating such a right. They didn't know such drugs would ever exist. What the patients in this case should do is not to seek imaginary constitutional rights. Rather, they should go to their legislators and get them to pass legislation that would get them what they seek, thus allowing the legislature to examine and debate this issue. Fundamental: that's what strict constructionism and seeking the original intent of the framers is all about. It doesn't mean denying everybody everything. Rather, it means having important debated openly, not decided through the sudden finding of "rights" by unelected judges.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

NFL Playoff picks

I was 3-1 last week in the wild card games.

GREEN BAY 7.5 over Seattle. PICK: SEAHAWKS. I think Green Bay will win the game in a tight one. But I think Seattle, a solid team which looked good last week, will keep it very close.

NEW ENGLAND 13 over Jacksonville. PICK: JAGUARS. Again, not to win--the Patriots will wind up on top in this one. But a good running game has shown the ability this year to make yards on the Pat, and the Jags have the ability to do that, to run the clock, and keep the game close. I see the Pats willing by 10 pts or a little less. So the Jags to cover.

INDIANAPOLIS 9.5 over San Diego. PICK: COLTS. They should have won the first matchup. They're rested and healthy. Marvin Harrison should be back. They'll pull away from a tough Chargers team in the 2nd half.

DALLAS 7.5 over NY Giants. PICK: GIANTS. Again, I like the Cowboys to win in the end. But the Giants should keep it close---Eli Manning is playing with confidence; TO is dinged; the Giants looked awfully good last week. But the Cowboys are at home and still have too many weapons. Dallas will win maybe by 4 or so.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Health nazis again fail to do what they say

This time it's Mayor Bloomberg of New York, chowing on trans-fats despite his condemnations of them:

"After gaining national media attention for spearheading an almost total ban on trans fats in city restaurants starting last July, Bloomberg was photographed in this month's issue of Wired magazine munching on those very same dangerous fats. The photo, which accompanies a short Q&A about technology and politics, features Bloomberg at his City Hall desk, looking thoughtful and serious. Meanwhile, his right hand is seen almost absent-mindedly pulling a Cheez-It out of a single-serving bag of the crackers. ...The mayor's food choice directly counters the guidance of his own Department of Health, which specifies on its Web site that "there is no safe level of artificial trans fat consumption." The site also points out that trans fats are responsible for at least 500 deaths in the city every year from heart disease."

If in fact these folks have such a hard time doing what they say, why don't they question what they say?

Senator Clinton on illegal immigration

Today: "No woman is illegal."

Gateway Pundit: "So... It's just men then that are illegal?
Or, is everyone a US citizen?"

Me: yeah, you can really see Senator Clinton doing a whole bunch about border security if SHE gets elected, hmmm?

Republican candidates and character

Rich Lowry on NRO has a good take on it:

"...[Last night's debate] shows how important character and narrative is to a presidential campaign. McCain, Huckabee, and Rudy have shifted to the right in this race, but it doesn't hurt them so much because they already have their characters/narratives set, as the war-hero straight-talker, good-guy Christian underdog, and tough-talking "America's Mayor" respectively. Once you have those identities, you are allowed a lot of room to maneuver. Romney's problem is that the maneuvering became his character/narrative. And once that's the case, you can't even put up a new sign at one of your events—the "To Do" list in New Hampshire—without people accusing you of being a flip-flopper."

Fundamental: people today crave authenticity in their politicians.

The Republicans

I see the GOP candidates had another debate last night. I wasn't able to catch it.
I feel like everyone's getting debated out. There's been too many of them.
Meanwhile, the Republican race for president could go on for a good while, which is increasingly becoming my feeling of what will happen. Here's a good explanation of how this could be the case.
Will the conservative movement be able to unite around a candidate? That remains the question.
Hasn't happened yet.

The Clinton campaign disses Obama supporters

I mean, they insult those Democrats voting for Obama left and right. It's unbelievable. The latest, from a Clinton adviser:

"In the words of that Clinton adviser: "If you have a social need, you're with Hillary. If you want Obama to be your imaginary hip black friend and you're young and you have no social needs, then he's cool."

It's like they have utter contempt for them. This might come back to bite Senator Clinton.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Once again, the mainstream media gets Republican Party history wrong

Did you catch this? This time, not long ago, it was Adam Nagourney of the New York Times
who argued that, while traditionally Republican voters choose a GOP candidate and fall in love with him, this time they haven't: "Here's another way Republican voters tend to be different from Democratic voters: They like — no, love — their presidential candidates. Not always, of course. But from Ronald Reagan to George W. Bush to Dwight Eisenhower , Republicans voters have displayed a zeal for their candidates that Democrats could only envy."

But--not really. In 1960, many conservative Republicans only grudgingly accepted Richard Nixon as the party nominee; they really preferred Barry Goldwater. In 1968 Nixon had to fight hard for the nomination, turning back strong challenges from both Ronald Reagan and Nelson Rockefeller. People forget that Ronald Reagan only was able to finally capture the Republican nomination on his third try for it, in 1980. He lost the nomination, remember, to Gerald Ford in 1976. And even in 1980, late in the nomination battle, Reagan was crushed in the Michigan primary by George Bush. In 1988, Bush, the eventual nominee, still lost in the opening Iowa caucuses, and his campaign really didn't take off, including among Republicans, until after the Republican convention and his stirring acceptance address pledging "no new taxes." In 2000, George W. Bush was pounded by John McCain in the New Hampshire primary.

What Nagourney and other mainstream media types are missing is that, yes, they're right, Republicans have not in '08 QUICKLY and IMMEDIATELY fallen in love, and thus nor have they fallen in line, behind one Republican candidate. But history proves this shouldn't surprise us. Often, Republicans DON'T fall in love right away. They eventually fell for Reagan (for example). But not right away.

What they are good at, is uniting with passion behind the eventual Republican nominee. There's certainly still a good chance they'll do that this time.

Another reminder: don't forget about Rudy

Good explanation why you shouldn't here:
" the Republican race journeys down to South Carolina, and then on to Florida — prior to decisive Super Tuesday — Giuliani may be in the best overall shape of any Republican candidate. Giuliani’s advantage over his competitors in key facets of the nomination battle is increasingly overlooked; too little attention has been paid to his financial resources, organization, and electability."

Read the whole thing.

Another explanation of how polls got it wrong in New Hampshire

Andrew Kohut explains in the NY Times:
"Poorer, less well-educated white people refuse surveys more often than affluent, better-educated whites. Polls generally adjust their samples for this tendency. But here’s the problem: these whites who do not respond to surveys tend to have more unfavorable views of blacks than respondents who do the interviews."

And Hillary Clinton won among those folks in NH.
So it's not that some people harboring perhaps-racist feelings lie to pollsters.
It's that those individuals won't talk to pollsters at all--but they'll vote.

Madeleine Albright, propagator of falsehoods

She of course is bashing the Bush administration:
She claims that the Bush era will go down as one of "the worst presidencies in history." She adds:
“The final big set of issues has to do with that bundle of global warming, climate change, and energy issues,” Albright said. “Now if you look at those issues, it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to know that they are the kind of issues that require international cooperation, which means the next president has to have a different style – has to have the capability of dealing with other countries and being interested actually, in what their national interest is and in listening.”

Well, let's see now. For how many months, back in 2003, did the Bush administration work with the UN Security Council to get authorization for its operations vs Irag? How long have we worked with the British on Iraq? What is Bush doing right now in the Middle East? I'm sick of this "Bush bunker mentality"/"he won't negotiate with anybody" nonsense that's out there--which exists largely because what Bush REALLY refused to do was to bow to the wishes of those on the other side of the political aisle in this country, along with their favorite liberal foreign leaders.

Kerry endorses Obama

Which won't translate into much in the way of votes--endorsements are overrated that way--but does help keep some "momentum" going Obama's way, and dilutes some of Clinton's mojo.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Another reason for Obama's defeat in New Hampshire

The placement of his name on the ballot:

"Without a doubt, a big source of the discrepancy between the pre-election surveys and the election outcome in New Hampshire is the order of candidates' names on the ballot and in the surveys. Our analysis of all recent primaries in New Hampshire showed that there was always a big primacy effect  big-name, big-vote-getting candidates got 3 percent or more votes more when listed first on the ballot than when listed last. Until this year, New Hampshire rotated candidate name order from precinct to precinct, which allowed us to do that analysis. This year, the secretary of state changed the procedure so the names were alphabetical starting with a randomly selected letter, in all precincts. The randomly selected letter this year was Z. As a result, Joe Biden was first on every ballot, Hillary Clinton was near the top of the list (and the first serious contender listed) and Barack Obama was close to last of the 21 candidates listed. Thus, I'll bet that Clinton got at least 3 percent more votes than Obama simply because she was listed close to the top."

Could be. But I still think the most important factor in NH was women voters coming back to Clinton.

By the way, John McCain backers shouldn't get too excited

As the wise political analyst Michael Barone points out:

"...[McCain's] 2008 percentage in New Hampshire (37 percent) was visibly lower than his 2000 percentage there (48, against fewer serious candidates)." He still has a long way to go. Conservatives do not like McCain-Feingold, for example (the campaign finance reform bill); how will McCain get past that?

Dr. Phil takes a real hit

Thing is, he did it to himself by talking about stuff he shouldn't have talked about:

"Doctor-patient confidentiality apparently doesn't extend to TV doctors. Or at least, not to one in particular. Britney Spears' family has lashed out at Dr. Phil McGraw for violating their trust by not only speaking so publicly—and frequently—to the media about his brief hospital meeting with the singer but by planning what was ultimately an ill-fated special about her plight."

Thing is, don't you think they have a good point?
I think Dr. Phil's a loser this week.

I've never cared for awards shows anyway, but...

Last night's People's Choice Awards bomb:

"The Tuesday show, recast as a two-hour, taped special when picket lines threatened to keep away the necessary stars, averaged fewer than 6 million trophy buffs, according to Nielsen Media Research estimates. The number was a record low. By a lot. Viewership was down by nearly 50 percent from last year, and nearly 40 percent from the show's previous all-time bad, which was achieved in 2006."

This writer's strike is really affecting television.

Pat Riley, head coach of Miami Heat, may step down after this season

Perhaps the team's 8-25 record has something to do with it.

The Republicans: "It is possible, if only just barely in some cases, to see Giuliani, Huckabee, McCain, or Romney winning the nomination"

So say the editors of National Review today, following John McCain's victory in New Hampshire.
I think they're right. The question remains: around which candidate will the bulk of the conservative movement rally? Most don't think it will be Huckabee. So who will be the true anti-Huckabee? McCain? Romney? Perhaps--but don't forget Rudy Giuliani, who today makes another bid for conservative support by unveiling what he calls the largest tax cut in American history.

Can't necessarily trust the polls

We all need a reminder of that--Barack Obama certainly got one last night.
Certainly surprised me--I thought Obama would be an easy winner.
Somehow, Hillary was able to convince, at the last minute, New Hampshire women especially that she too could be an agent of change. And maybe NH just didn't want to be seen as copying Iowa. The state has always had a very deep streak of independence.
Obama is still in a reasonably good position, especially if he wins South Carolina and/or Nevada.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

New Hampshire predictions

Predictions for New Hampshire---

Democrats: Obama to win, followed by Hillary in 2nd place.
Repubs: McCain to win, but narrowly; Romney a close 2nd.
Obviously neither of those are particularly bold predictions--but then, the polls seem to be pretty clear about who's got the lead and the momentum.

Obama then becomes the clear Dem front-runner, clearly. I don't expect Senator Clinton to drop out, though. The Clintons don't accept losing well or easily. She's still got money; she still thinks she can compete in places like California.
The Republican race meanwhile remains wide open, with Huckabee, McCain, Romney, and don't forget Giuliani, still in the running. Giuliani is banking everything on a big performance in later states with lots of delegates, such as New York, California, and Florida. I don't think the strategy is as much of a long shot as do others. I still don't sense that Republicans nationally have fo9und "the guy" yet. Huckabee angers many economic conservatives. McCain isn't the fave of either economic conservatives or social conservatives. Giuliani, by emphasizing his promise to appoint strict-constructionist judges, his successful war on crime in New York, and his low-taxes platform, could still become the anti-Huckabee candidate. Stay tuned.


Watching the fall...

...of the Clinton campaign. And trying not to enjoy it too much.
Andy McCarthy's right--from a conservative, principled point of view, beware of Obama--he's no conservative.
But, let's face it, we disagree mightily with Mrs. Clinton. And we don't like her, either, plain and simple. So it doesn't bother us to watch her campaign...well, begin to implode, at least.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Political thought

A lot of people suggest that, when presidential candidates win an early primary, they gain "momentum", and that's what helps them win successive primaries. Some might suggest that's what has Barack Obama surging into the lead in New Hampshire, as most polls seem to show him doing.

But my reading of the past few days suggests something slightly different: it's not so much that voters seek to vote for the candidate who won the last primary. Rather, voters often don't wish to throw their vote away on a candidate who they believe can't win. But once voters are convinced that a candidate CAN win, then, as long as there were things they liked about him, they'll move to him. That's what I think you're seeing Democrats doing with Obama. Not enough Republicans have a consensus #2 guy to whom to move for there to be a similar surge to a GOP candidate.

So it's not so much "momentum." Rather, it's convincing people who liked you, but doubted that you could actually win, that you're in fact a viable, serious candidate.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Beware of the populists

George Will takes them on in his column today:

"Edwards and Huckabee lament a shrinking middle class. Well. Economist Stephen Rose, defining the middle class as households with annual incomes between $30,000 and $100,000, says a smaller percentage of Americans are in that category than in 1979 -- because the percentage of Americans earning more than $100,000 has doubled, from 12 to 24, while the percentage earning less than $30,000 is unchanged. "So," Rose says, "the entire 'decline' of the middle class came from people moving up the income ladder." Even as housing values declined in 2007, the net worth of households increased. Huckabee told heavily subsidized Iowa -- Washington's ethanol enthusiasm has farm values and incomes soaring -- that Americans striving to rise are "pushed down every time they try by their own government." Edwards, synthetic candidate of theatrical bitterness on behalf of America's crushed, groaning majority, says the rich have an "iron-fisted grip" on democracy and a "stranglehold" on the economy. Strangely, these fists have imposed a tax code that makes the top 1 percent of earners pay 39 percent of all income tax revenue, the top 5 percent pay 60 percent and the bottom 50 percent only 3 percent."

All very good. But Will's ending is a surprise: "Barack Obama, who might be mercifully closing the Clinton parenthesis in presidential history, is refreshingly cerebral amid this recrudescence of the paranoid style in American politics. He is the un-Edwards and un-Huckabee -- an adult aiming to reform the real world rather than an adolescent fantasizing mock-heroic "fights" against fictitious villains in a left-wing cartoon version of this country."

Slow down, Mr. Will! Have you forgotten Obama's stands on spending and abortion?

Frank Rich's America

He writes a big Sunday column for the NY Times:

And today he wrote:
"AFTER so many years of fear and loathing, we had almost forgotten what it’s like to feel good about our country."

No, Mr. Rich, YOU and some of your ilk perhaps had "forgotten what it's like to feel good about our country." Others of us never have. Some of remember that in the past 7 years, this country has been fighting to bring democracy to Iraq, to bring down bloody Islamic terrorists, to rush aid to tsunam-ravaged Asia, to bring help to AIDS victims worldwide. We're proud of that. Some of us don't just see what we want to see.

Random thought

We expect anchormen and -women to have sort of "plastic" hair, and to look perfect. In fact, I suspect we subconsciously desire it. (Would you watch a newscast with a slovenly-looking anchor?)
But if a candidate is said to have "anchorman" hair, that's bad.
Interesting. Perhaps it's because we expect TV newscasters to look a bit fake--after all, they're for show. But we hunger for authenticity from our politicians.


New York Times political writers point out this morning the overuse of the word "change":
"The graphic for the Democratic debate on Saturday night tallied 65 mentions of the word “change.” Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton used it 23 times, John Edwards 14 and Senator Barack Obama 12. Here’s one segment by Senator Clinton, who jammed the word in there several times in a few minutes:

"I want to make change, but I’ve already made change. I will continue to make change. I’m not just running on a promise of change, I’m running on 35 years of change. … So you know I think it is clear that what we need is somebody who can deliver change.”

Remember this fundamental: "change", by itself, in and of itself, is meaningless.
Nor does a principled conservative believe that change is always good.
A principled conservative must ask: "change"...for what? To what?

Saturday, January 5, 2008

NFL Playoff wild card weekend picks

Unfortunately I couldn't pick last week's games--I was on the road.
I'm not too far away from .500 this year. Let's see if, in the playoffs, I can pick up the pace.

SEATTLE 3 over Washington. PICK: SEAHAWKS. A lot of folks are picking the 'Skins, due to the fact they elevated their play late in the season and have momentum. True, Seattle lost 2 of their last 3 regular season games. But how meaningful were those? Not very. I like the Seahawks--they're at home, where they're tough; and although Todd Collins has played well, I'd rate Matt Hasselbeck higher. Look for the Seahawks to cover--winning by, perhaps, a 20-13 type score.

PITTSBURGH 2.5 over Jacksonville. PICK: JAGUARS. I know--this is a challenging pick. The Jaguars beat the Steelers, in Heinz Field, in December. Can they really do it twice in a row, within the span of a month? Yes. They have the running game and the consistent QB play to do it; and the Steelers haven't played that well in the 2nd half of the season and won't have Willie Parker. Jags 21-17.

TAMPA BAY 3 over NY Giants. PICK: BUCCANEERS. People have been discounting the Bucs all year. But here they are in the playoffs, and with a home game. I like Garcia to get it done vs the Giants' secondary, and the Bucs' tough cover 2 to slow down the Giants just enough. It'll be very close: Bucs 24, Giants 20.

SAN DIEGO 10 over Tennessee. PICK: CHARGERS. The Lightning Bolts are rolling; the Titans are banged up. Jeff Fisher's teams never quit. But I like the Chargers to win this one decisively at home. Chargers 34, Titans 20.

New Hampshire: the Democrats

A perhaps grasping-at-straws Hillary Clinton in effect slams Obama supporters:

"I'm well aware that New Hampshire, and America, has a lot of voters who don't think they need a president right now, they're doing fine, they're well educated," she said. "So for them this election isn't about 'me and my family,' it's about, you know, 'how I feel' and 'what I hope for.' And that's great, but there are more people in New Hampshire who need a president who will be your champion."

Does Senator Clinton really wish to say that Obama supporters are too dumb to know that they should vote for a candidate whose stands are in accord with what they and their families need? Does she really think that what people hope for has nothing to do with their families? Wow.

Fascinated, but we don't want to be

Can't stop staring at the traffic accident that is Britney Spears.

Prediction: we may, however, reach the saturation point soon.

Friday, January 4, 2008

“The answer is, he is not getting a pass."

Or so says a spokeswoman for the Writer's Guild concerning Jay Leno.
Apparently he, a member of the Writer's Union, is technically violating union rules by writing his own monologues for The Tonight Show, which he has resumed.

Yes, gosh, and why shouldn't he be punished.
I mean, just because he observed the strike for 3 months, and still publicly supports what.
Just because he's trying to make sure all the other non-writer employees of his show have jobs and can feed their what.
No wonder union membership continues to decline.

New Hampshire: the Republicans

Meanwhile, the Republican race has been upended as well, what with the surprise victory of Mike Huckabee in Iowa. Congratulations to him. He ran a better race there than did anyone else. I see however that this New York Times piece suggests that Mr. Huckabee plans to emphasize an "anti-tax" message in New Hampshire.

Beware. If my memory serves me right, as governor of Arkansas, Mr. Huckabee raised taxes numerous times. We conservatives still have to wonder how genuine his credentials as a man of the Right truly are.

New Hampshire: the Democrats

Ben Smith of the Politico argues that Senator Clinton is once again "recalibrating" her strategy, following her Iowa loss.

But I don't think so. Yes, she will go negative. What else is new? Her campaign began heading down that road towards the end of the race in Iowa. And she's pounding away again at Barack Obama's supposed inexperience. That's the same argument she made in Iowa. Didn't work too well there.

Prediction: if she loses in New Hampshire (and she well might), she's done.
Running on the principle of being a fairly traditional moderate-liberal Rooseveltian Democrat, and touting experience, might not be nearly enough in this day and age.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Iowa: the Republicans

Good updates on what's happening in Iowa today with the Republican candidates here.
Prediction: I have the feeling that Huckabee's going to win Iowa. It certainly appears to be a race between Huck and Romney. Polls show it to be close. But I don't have the feel of a real Romney surge there; as Jonathan Martin reports in the link above, anecdotal evidence suggests that too many see Romney as phony, as not real. That will allow Huckabee to hold on.

That doesn't necessarily make Huck the national front-runner. There are a lot of primaries to come, and I don't see New Hampshirites or Floridians or South Carolinians meekly ratifying Iowa's choice. This is merely the end of the beginning for Republicans.
The most important thing for GOPers and for conservatives is to continue to force these candidates to flesh out their conservative principles and positions. We're not nearly done with that process yet.

Hail to the victors

In all the college football bowl hubbub, don't forget about Michigan's upset victory over defending national champion Florida. Yes, I know, Michigan was expected to roll to a Big 10 conference title and contend for a national championship. That didn't happen--instead, came the humiliating Appalachian State and Oregon losses, the end-of-season defeats to Wisconsin and Ohio State, and the long, stumbling search for a new head coach.

But they found a good new head coach in Rich Rodriguez. And, in a game that few gave them a chance to win, the Wolverines and Coach Lloyd Carr found a way to get it done. I have a hunch it happened because the team was still Michigan--that pride and tradition meant something. It also helped that team stars Chad Henne and Mike Hart were healthy, finally.

I grew up in Michigan as a Wolverine fan, and made many trips to Michigan Stadium. But I don't think I was ever any prouder of them than I was a couple of days ago. Go Blue.

Iowa: the medium

Hint: it's no longer just television: "Seventy-three percent of adults now go online, the most in polls since the dawn of the Internet age. Forty percent use the Internet specifically for news and information about politics and the election, surpassing the previous high, 35 percent in a 2004 survey. Television remains predominant; 70 percent say it's one of their top two election news sources. But while still far ahead, that's down by 8 points since 2004 and by 15 points since 1996 in Pew polls."

Look for those trends to do nothing but continue.
How it will affect our society and our politics, no one yet knows.

Iowa: the Democrats

It appears that the Clinton campaign, as its main, final, closing theme in Iowa, has settled once again upon the theme of experience: "Among the Democrats, the campaign ends essentially where it started roughly a year ago -- no histrionics, just candidates pushing forward with their messages. Clinton "asked voters at rallies and in a two-minute television commercial broadcast statewide, 'Who is ready to be president?'

Will she ever make up her mind?
Not long ago, the big story concerning her campaign was that she claimed to be the candidate of "change." Prediction (and I could be very wrong, so...): Senator Clinton will not be the winner of the Iowa caucuses tonight. Her campaign in the past few months has been all over the place.
UPDATE: Ben Smith of The Politico notices this very same thing.

We're back!

And better than ever. Here's a tidbit to get us started in the new year:

A couple of weeks ago, Maureen Dowd wrote in her NY Times column about Mitt Romney. She consulted an expert on, and historian of, Mormonism, a man by the name of Jon Krakauer. Naturally Krakauer told Ms. Dowd just what she wanted to hear concerning Romney's recent speech on his religion and his presidency: “J.F.K.’s speech was to reassure Americans that he wasn’t a religious fanatic,” Mr. Krakauer agreed. “Mitt’s was to tell evangelical Christians, ‘I’m a religious fanatic just like you.’”

So evangelical Christians are fanatics?
Funny--do we ever hear, from mainstream "experts" and media types, that, say, atheists are fanatics? That liberals are fanatics? (perish the thought!)

Fundamental: being religious doesn't make you a fanatic. But the fact that many in the "progressive" Washington/New York beltway think it does tells you a lot about them.