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Saturday, January 19, 2008
So Who Drops Out First? Giuliani, Thompson or Huckabee?

We know Mitt's hanging around for awhile. Giuliani seems unlikely to bow out, but at the same time, somebody's gotta point out that for a guy who was supposedly the national frontrunner a month and a half ago, he's getting NOBODY to vote for him. I mean nobody. Ron Paul got almost twice the votes of Giuliani in South Carolina. Fred Thompson, who really should bail out soon, got almost eight times as many votes as Giuliani. Huckabee, who's operating on a shoestring and a prayer got almost 15 times as many votes as Giuliani. And lost.

Giuliani finished sixth in Nevada with 4% of the vote. He finished sixth in South Carolina with 2% of the vote. He finished fourth in New Hampshire with 9% of the vote, barely slipping ahead of Ron Paul.
McCain Wins South Carolina!

Wow! I have to admit, I thought the Huckster might have gotten the vote with that crack about knowing where to stick the flagpole, but apparently South Carolinians are ready to get over the whole Confederate Flag business. It's a big win and if the rumors are true that Mel Martinez will endorse Senator McCain in Florida, then it's Katie bar the door. InTrade now has him at 49 cents to win a dollar if he gets the nomination.

Romney's win in the Nevada caucuses actually gets him more delegates, but Ron Paul's apparent fluke second actually detracts from the credibility of that contest

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Here Comes the Bus!

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When Did We Get the Drama Queens on Our Side?

Doug Riehl, who's usually a sensible blogger indulges himself in a little melodrama:

This ain't good. If McCain wins South Carolina and this Monday endorsement goes through, it'll help him win Florida, too. Geraghty thinks it could be over if McCain wins both. Time to start a conservative party, I guess.

Yes, Doug, that's a wonderful idea. Gee, the last two major third parties to garner significant support gave us Bill Clinton and Woodrow Wilson, who wouldn't want to be a midwife to the third party that could bequeath a Hillary Clinton legacy to us all?

Look, the conservatives didn't enter a pony in the race, how the heck are they supposed to win? They tried to saddle up Mitt Romney, a guy who ran as a non-Lothario Ted Kennedy in his senate race with the Swimmer. They tried to climb aboard the Fred Thompson bandwagon, but that wasn't going anywhere. They tried to convince themselves that Rudy Giuliani was okay, despite the cross-dressing and the divorces and the pro-choice, pro-gay rights stances.

And now they want to cancel the race because all their horses have pulled up lame?


2008 Baseball Hall of Fame Post

Goose Gossage: Makes the Hall in his ninth year of eligibility. A fine player; the standards for relief pitchers are still in flux.

Jim Rice: Misses and has just one more chance before going into the veterans' pool. Clearly one of the great sluggers of his era, and one of the rare players from the 1970s who combined power with batting average. Bill James coined the term "Hall of Fame Season" for sluggers who hit 30 homers, batted .300 and knocked in 100 runs. Although these years are commonplace in today's game, they were rare a generation ago. Rice compiled Hall of Fame seasons in 1977, 1978, 1979 and 1983. He should get in next year.

Andre Dawson: A tougher case. Dawson had some great years, but never anything quite like the peaks that Rice had, although he had a much longer career.

Bert Blyleven: Should probably go; 287 wins is pretty compelling. On the other hand, he was only 37 games above .500, only pitched in two all-star games, and never won a Cy Young award.

Lee Smith: As I said earlier, the standards for relief pitchers are still in flux. Fine player, probably should go.

Jack Morris: The premiere starting pitcher of the 1980s, and a much better player than Blyleven, Morris was the ace pitcher on three World Series championship teams. Something of a hothead, which may be what's hurting him with the writers, but his performance in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series, a 10-inning shutout, should get him over the hump eventually.

Tommy John: Had his big years in New York and Los Angeles, which should help. His career was long and productive, but not very unique. None of the top ten most similar pitchers is in the Hall of Fame (although John Smoltz may go eventually), and the list is littered with names like Ron Reed, Larry Jackson, Guy Bush and Mike McCormick. Solid ballplayers to be sure, but nobody's idea of a Hall of Famer.

Tim Raines: Terrific lead-off man, a unique and valuable player. He was injured a lot and didn't have any power, so his career high in RBI is only 71. Played on a couple of championship teams for the Yankees late in his career. Very much a borderline candidate.

Mark McGwire: Would be in easily if not for the steroids issue. I'm surprised he didn't pick up any votes in 2008, compared to 2007. I would not vote for him, and I'm now of the opinion that he probably won't make it.

Alan Trammell: One of the finest hitting shortstops to play the game when he retired, Trammell has been hurt by the emergence of the slugging shortstops of the current generation (A-Rod, Jeter, Tejada, etc.). Both Trammell and his double-play partner Lou Whitaker (who washed out in his first chance on the ballot) should go, but they may have to wait for the Veteran's Committee.


Don Mattingly: His seasons from 1984-1987 scream Hall of Famer, but he had a short career, and 222 homers.

Dave Parker: His lost weekend from 1979-84 is what's keeping him out. If you fill in those years with 30 homers, 100 RBI and .300 (seasons that Parker was capable of achieving), he'd be in.

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Friday, January 18, 2008
McCain Derangement Syndrome?

Oh, I wish I'd thought of that one.

The proof of the power of McCain Derangement Syndrome is that its sufferers have flocked in their madness to Mitt Romney as the only decent conservative alternative. Mr Romney, an immaculately coiffed and coutured 60-year old with a beguiling smile and a dreamy look, is a kind of Dorian Gray figure. But somewhere in an attic there must be a portrait of him that reflects the intellectual contortions, moral compromise and shameless dishonesty that has characterised his bid for the presidency.

Until a year or two ago Mr Romney held a range of beliefs - on abortion and gay marriage, for example, that were well to the left of anything Mr McCain has ever said.

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Philosopher Kings and the 40-20-40 Nation

The famed Greek philosopher Plato, wrote in the Republic:

"Until philosophers rule as kings or those who are now called kings and leading men genuinely and adequately philosophise, that is, until political power and philosophy entirely coincide, while the many natures who at present pursue either one exclusively are forcibly prevented from doing so, cities will have no rest from evils,... nor, I think, will the human race."

Of course, the philosophers have not become kings, nor have the cities had rest from evils, but I think most of us understand that perhaps Plato was indulging himself in a little occupational bias. He was a philosopher and so he felt that philosophers were best equipped to govern; it's a quite natural conceit.

There is a longstanding theory about presidential elections in the United States. The theory is that no matter whom the Democrats nominate they will get 40% of the people to vote for them, and no matter whom the Republicans nominate they will get 40% of the people to vote for them, and so the real election comes down to who can win that 20% slice in the middle who are capable of going either way.

And indeed, this 40-20-40 theory seems pretty well borne out by recent history. Here is the percentage of the overall vote gained by the second-place finisher in the last 10 elections:

John Kerry: 48.3%
Al Gore: 48.4%
Bob Dole: 40.7%
George Bush, Sr.: 37.4% (Perot factor)
Michael Dukakis: 45.6%
Walter Mondale: 40.6%
Jimmy Carter: 41.0%
Gerald Ford: 48.0%
George McGovern: 37.5%
Hubert Humphrey: 42.7%

Other than 1992, when Perot mixed things up by getting about 19% of the vote, and 1972 when George McGovern imploded, the loser almost always ended up getting 40%. If the Democrats pulled Jimmy Carter out of mothballs this November, he's still get 40. If the Republicans asked Bush Sr to run again, he'd break two score.

So the 40-20-40 theory looks pretty good to me. Richard Nixon, who appeared on more Republican tickets than anybody in history, summarized his political advice as "run to the center as soon as you lock up the nomination". So whence comes the notion that candidates who appeal to independents, who make up the overwhelming amount of that crucial 20% slice, are bad for either party?

Answer: From the philosopher kingmakers. Rush Limbaugh has been known to pooh-pooh the notion that we are a 40-20-40 nation. His theory is that elections are won by whichever party's base shows up. But this is simply wrong, and it's dangerous for Republicans at the current time to listen to this nonsense.

George McGovern is the perfect illustration of this. You could not have a more perfect candidate for the Democratic base. McGovern was going to end the war in Vietnam, which was the issue that animate liberals of that generation like no other. He was the perfect candidate for the new left, running on a platform that was easily if somewhat unfairly satirized as "Acid, Amnesty and Abortion".

And he got crushed. McGovern became the first major party presidential candidate to not even carry his home state. He lost New York by 17 percentage points.

Candidates that fire up the base can win, but only in the right times and right circumstances. Ronald Reagan would have lost and lost badly in 1964; that was a horrible election for the Republican Party. FDR would have gotten crushed by Reagan had he come along in 1984, or by Hoover in 1928.

So why does Rush Limbaugh not understand this? Well, as Orwell observed, it is awfully hard to get a man to believe something if his paycheck depends on him not believing it. Rush and Laura and Hugh and all those guys make a living revving up the base. That is a valuable part of the team effort, and we've needed them in 2000 and 2004.

But the guys whose job it is to rev the base are prone to the same occupational bias that Plato was. Naturally they see their job as the most important. But elections are not won by energizing the base.

And the notion that the radioheads won't have anything to energize the base with is absurd to begin with. For the Donkeys it's either Hill or Obama in the fall; you don't think the base is going to show up to prevent that?

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Similar Theme

But it can't be said often enough:

Why do establishment Republicans insist on whomping John McCain against a pole like some rabid cat?

Especially the conservatives. They're whomping him and whomping him, metaphorically in South Carolina, pivoting, turning on their heels, shrieking with a mixture of hysteria, panic and glee.

While they're whomping, they might want to answer this question: Don't they want to win the White House?

Or would they feel better if Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama were commander in chief, dealing with the Islamofascists, filling a vacancy on the Supreme Court and turning the Justice Department over to a big city political machine?

Yep. It cracks me up that the fact that some Democrats and a lot of independents vote for McCain is seen as a negative. What did they used to call those folks in the 1980s? Oh, yeah, Reagan Democrats. Ronnie must have been a liberal or something.


Mitt On Gilligan's Island

Kinda silly, but entertaining:

Update: Jay Cost has a good article on whether Romney can win:

Why is it that most primary candidates refuse to run sustained, intense negative campaigns? The answer is that everybody is basically on the same side. An attacking candidate has to be careful about his opponent's core supporters. He runs the risk of alienating them - and they might ultimately refuse to support him after their guy drops out of the race. Romney might find himself in that situation. His attacks on McCain and Huckabee have been as sustained and intense as any this cycle. And there is evidence that this has damaged him with the Mac and Huck factions.

Exactly. Romney is like one of those Survivor contestants who manages to cheat, lie and backstab his way to the final, and then wonders why nobody votes for him.

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Bobby Fischer, En Passant

Fischer was of course a chess prodigy, single-handedly responsible for creating a mini-boom in chess-playing in the US.

An American chess champion at 14 and a grand master at 15, Fischer dethroned Spassky in 1972 in a series of games in Iceland's capital, Reykjavik, to become the first officially recognized world champion born in the United States.

The Spassky match was televised live with commentary from chess experts.

I was never anything more than a good player myself, although I had a couple of notable triumphs. One time a friend of mine and I wagered a case of beer on a game of backgammon. Unfortunately, we threw three consecutive doubles to open the game, making it now worth eight cases of beer. Then I got a 6-1, one of the best opening rolls possible. The book says double if you get that starting roll, and so I did. However, my buddy came back to win and at a crucial point doubled the game again so it was worth 32 cases of beer, about $200 based on the then-current prices for suds.

So about a month later, he offered me a chance to get even. He had a friend named Ingmar, who was a chess master. Ingmar would play me two games blindfolded simultaneously, and if I won or tied either game, I'd be even. Of course, if I lost both games (far more likely given his skill level), I'd be down 64 cases of beer.

But I remembered an old trick I'd read in a book that guaranteed victory. I wrote down on a piece of paper the order of the turns. Ingmar would go first on the first board. I would then go first on the second board. He would then reply to my move on the second board, and then I would go on the first board.

Of course, the secret is that you just copy the other guy's moves, so that essentially he is playing himself. We didn't even get through the first round before Ingmar ripped off his blindfold and screamed at me, "It's not that effing easy!"

Another time a neighhbor, who was kind of a lout, asked me to play a game, talking trash about what a great player he was. I didn't particularly care for him, but he had a foxy girlfriend, and I saw a chance to impress her. So I set up the board and promptly fools-mated him in four moves. Then I did it again. Eventually stole his girlfriend from him, too!

Fischer eventually went nuts, convinced the Russians were sabotaging him by directing microwaves at his brain. He also became something of a Jewish conspiracy theorist, although, as the article notes, he himself was half-Jewish. He did write a terrific puzzle book on chess that almost overnight elevated my level of play so that I was able to beat regularly folks who had taken maybe 75% of the games we played prior to reading the book.


Thursday, January 17, 2008
Deb Saunders Nails It

She notes the vitriol with which the radio hosts have greeted McCain's surge, and the risk that entails in the fall:

Their McCain pile-on would not be so egregious if only the White House -- and the perks of politics -- were at stake. With 165,000 troops serving in Iraq and 26,000 serving in Afghanistan, Republican voters must guard more than their party purity. They have to vote -- and at times hold their tongues -- with an eye on what is most important: Iraq.

As public support for the war has eroded, it has been disheartening to watch Democrats, who once supported the war, drop the ball on Iraq. Now, to watch Republicans bloody McCain, when they should be concentrating on keeping an anti-war Democrat from becoming commander in chief -- well, it makes me wonder how much they want to win.

Exactly. One of the things that always amused me about the far Left in this country is that they would apparently prefer to be the majority in a minority party, than the minority in a majority party. It seems to me that some of the radio hosts feel the same way.
Huckabee: US Should Be Under Sharia Law

Complete with stoning:

Gary North has argued that death by stoning is a necessary part of the Mosaic code. He notes that stoning has a number of other things in its favor. Stones are plentiful and cheap, no single blow can be traced to any one thrower (thus reducing guilt feelings), group stone-throwing underscores collective responsibility for crime, and the practice usefully reminds us of God’s crushing the head of Satan, as mentioned in Genesis 3.

Okay, not Sharia Law. Biblical law.


Romney Tries to Deny Lobbyists Running His Campaign

I don't know the whole story here, but what's important is that Plastic Man's media do not like him and do not trust him. McCain gets a lot of criticism from the GOP corner that the media like him too much; to which I have to reply, that's a bad thing?

Republicans are going into a tough year, folks. We need all the help we can get.

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When Ross Perot Calls....

Of course, the punchline is to say, "I'm all ears." But Jonathan Alter misses his opportunity. Perot attempts a little sandbagging of John McCain, but misses the mark:

The Texas billionaire, now 77, still has some scores to settle from the Vietnam era, and his timing is exquisite. Just days before the South Carolina GOP primary, he wants me to know that McCain "is the classic opportunist--he's always reaching for attention and glory. Other POWs won't even sit at the same table with him."

Tell it to Colonel Bud Day, the most decorated man to serve in Vietnam, and one of McCain's fellow POWs:

It’s clear where our own legendary Col Bud Day stands. He spent more than five years in a POW camp with fellow-pilot John McCain and proudly says, “Without reservation, I know Johnny is the best candidate and most prepared to be our next president and commander in chief.”

Tell it to Paul Galanti:

During the 2000 presidential primaries, Galanti was the Virginia Chair of Senator John McCain's presidential bid. "John is the only guy I know who is more positive than I am," says Galanti. "He did quite well in Virginia especially considering that the campaign was composed of an all-volunteer Army of political non-professionals!"

Galanti was featured prominently in the movie Stolen Honor. In one of the film's most moving sequences, he related how he made the mistake of telling his North Vietnamese captors that his back had been broken, noting (with a little wry humor) that they used that against him during the torture sessions.

How about Perot's old running mate, and another one of my personal heroes, Admiral Stockdale?

In fact, a few weeks ago I received a call from an old friend who is also close to the George W. Bush campaign soliciting comments on Mr. McCain's "weaknesses." As I told that caller, I think John McCain is solid as a rock.

And I consider it blasphemy to smudge the straight-arrow prisoner-of-war record of a man who was near death when he arrived at Hoa Loa prison 1967: both arms broken, left leg broken, left shoulder broken by a civilian with a rifle butt.

He was eventually taken to the same rat-infested hospital room I had occupied two years earlier, and, like me, he had surgery on his leg. By then the Vietnamese had discovered that his father was the ranking admiral in the Pacific Fleet, and he received an offer that, as far as I know, was made to no other American prisoner: immediate release, no strings attached. He refused, thereby sentencing himself to four more years in a cell.

The sad truth is that Perot is still on his quixotic quest for the supposed "missing" POWs and MIAs.

Not surprisingly, McCain sees it differently. He has told me several times over the years that the myth of live POWs was a cruel hoax on the families. He chaired hearings into the issue in the 1990s and found nothing. "The committee did an exhaustive job and pored over thousands of records and every claim of a sighting, no matter how outlandish," says Salter. "It was all untrue."

Look, I can buy that the people who pushed the POW/MIA issue in the 1980s legitimately thought they were helping. I cheered like everybody else in the theater when Chuck Norris burst into that hearing room with the guys he had freed.

But that was Hollywood.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Did Lew Rockwell Write the Racist Rants In Ron Paul's Newsletter?

Oh, my this is going to be pretty funny if it turns out to be true.

Ron Paul doesn't seem to know much about his own newsletters. The libertarian-leaning presidential candidate says he was unaware, in the late 1980s and early 1990s, of the bigoted rhetoric about African Americans and gays that was appearing under his name. He told CNN last week that he still has "no idea" who might have written inflammatory comments such as "Order was only restored in L.A. when it came time for the blacks to pick up their welfare checks"—statements he now repudiates. Yet in interviews with reason, a half-dozen longtime libertarian activists—including some still close to Paul—all named the same man as Paul's chief ghostwriter: Ludwig von Mises Institute founder Llewellyn Rockwell, Jr.

The article goes into some arcana about how Rockwell and some other "paleolibertarians" decided to reach out to paleoconservatives:

The newsletters' obsession with blacks and gays was of a piece with a conscious political strategy adopted at that same time by Lew Rockwell and Murray Rothbard. After breaking with the Libertarian Party following the 1988 presidential election, Rockwell and Rothbard formed a schismatic "paleolibertarian" movement, which rejected what they saw as the social libertinism and leftist tendencies of mainstream libertarians. In 1990, they launched the Rothbard-Rockwell Report, where they crafted a plan they hoped would midwife a broad new "paleo"

But of course, the funniest thing is that Rockwell was romantically linked about a year and a half ago to Cindy Sheehan. Yep, that Cindy Sheehan:

Cindy, run! There's a big black man near you!

One thing about the potential Rockwell authorship is that it explains why Paul has declined to reveal who wrote the articles. Rockwell's now apparently forging an alliance with the libertine left; in 2005-2006, he was one of the irregular posters over at Airiheadda's Huffington Post.

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McCain Blogger Call Report

I got to ask the first question this time! I noted that he sounded a bit under the weather and he acknowledged that he had a little cold due to the amount of handshaking he has to do.

I asked him to give us an anecdote about an incident of personal heroism he had observed. He related a moving story about one of his fellow POWs at the Hanoi Hilton named Michael Christian. In the early years of his confinement, McCain and the other POWs were kept in solitary confinement or with one or two other cellmates. At some point their treatment eased and they were given more group living arrangements.

He described their prison uniforms as consisting of old blue trousers and sandals that had been made out of old rubber tires, but eventually the North Vietnamese allowed them to receive some packages from home, including handkerchiefs. Mike took one of these, some red cloth and a needle and fashioned himself a miniature American flag, which he sewed into the inside of his shirt.

But eventually the NV discovered the flag and confiscated it from Mike. That evening he received a beating for over an hour from the guards. Later, when all the men were asleep, Senator McCain noticed something. Over in the corner of the cell, there was Mike Christian, working with his needle to create another American flag.

I was almost unable to respond, I got so choked up. After the phone call, I decided to do a little googling on Mike Christian. Here's a photo of him with his wife:

Note the items Mrs Christian is holding in her left hand; I strongly suspect those were the POW bracelets that were distributed in the early 1970s. Unfortunately Mike died in an apartment fire only a decade after returning home. According to this page, he received two Silver Stars, two Bronze Stars, the Legion of Merit, and two Purple Hearts.

Blackfive covered this particular incident of heroism well a few years ago.

There were several other questions during the conference call. I was particularly enthralled by the discussion by Senator McCain and a blogger about the issue of climate change and potential global warming. The senator highlighted that he favored cap and trade solutions, and became quite animated when comparing that to a proposed 'carbon tax', which McCain strongly opposes. He pointed out that it was easy for the elites in Georgetown who can walk to work, but everyday Americans have to drive in to their places of employment. It was a great moment, a slam-dunk.

Thanks as always to Patrick Hynes and Senator McCain for allowing me to participate in this event.

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Poll Vault

Looking over the exit polling in Michigan, a couple of items pop out:

Although McCain won among Democrats, Romney won among self-described liberals, so it looks like there was some "Kos Effect". McCain won by nine points among veterans, while Romney won by ten among those who'd never been in the military. Obviously the oddball result is that Romney won among those who support the war in Iraq, while McCain won among those who oppose it.

Romney's big advantage was the home state factor. An incredible 42% cited Romney's Michigan ties as important, and among those people Romney won by 41 points. McCain easily won those who said Romney's being a Michigander wasn't a big deal. There's probably a little bias there though; if you felt Romney being a local boy was important, you'd probably be going to vote for him, and vice-versa.

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McCain to Announce Major Endorsement in South Carolina Today

I don't know who it will be, but I am assured that this is a "big one".

Although Senator McCain did not take Michigan last night, he is still the favorite at InTrade:

McCain: 35
Romney: 21
Giuliani: 19
Huckabee: 14
Thompson: 3
Paul: 2

Update: It's Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, who has solid conservative credentials.

John McCain has never been afraid to take the road less traveled, and he has fought wasteful spending at every turn along the way. He's saved taxpayers untold billions, and he has rightfully earned the reputation as the Senate's number one fiscal hawk. I trust that as president, John McCain will veto any pork-barrel bill that crosses his desk, and will make the authors famous.


Tuesday, January 15, 2008
What It Means

If Romney does win, it means a knock-down drag-out fight for the nomination. A lot will be made of the low turnout, which bodes ill for the Republicans no matter whom the nominee is. Some pundits will now write McCain off, but he will certainly have a very strong second, a silver as Mitt would put it, in his opponent's home state. It certainly is not what the McCain camp wanted; a win here would just about have sealed the deal. But I still like his chances.

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The new John McCain ad running in South Carolina, a veteran-rich state. Mark Hemingway wonders if the Vietnam vets will come out in support of Senator McCain, the way they did to stop John Kerry:

In fact, McCain is probably the only candidate that talks about veterans’ issues in every stump speech. And why shouldn’t he? If one can judge by his appearances on the campaign trail, veterans are a significant base of support for McCain. It’s a reasonable conjecture that McCain’s victory in New Hampshire is in no small way attributable to his appeal to veterans. Veterans comprise over 15 percent of the voting age population in the Granite State, one of the highest percentages of any state in the nation. (A search for exit-polling data on veterans’ voting habits in this past New Hampshire primary and the last few elections has proved maddeningly elusive.)

But unlike the endless navel-gazing over female, minority, or evangelical voters, very little thought is given to veterans as a voting bloc.

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Agender Journalism?

Bob Herbert has a column today that seems a little odd in its focus on sexism:

If there was ever a story that deserved more coverage by the news media, it’s the dark persistence of misogyny in America. Sexism in its myriad destructive forms permeates nearly every aspect of American life. For many men, it’s the true national pastime, much bigger than baseball or football.

Yeah, I know a lot of guys who stand around the water cooler on Monday morning talking about how they beat up the old wifey this weekend pretty good. Some offices even have pools on who can date-rape the most broads.

I mean, seriously. Sexism is a national pastime? What Herbert is really saying is that he supports Hillary's claim to victimhood.

We all know the word that means hatred of women: Misogyny. We all know the word that means hatred of blacks: Racism. We all know the word that means hatred of gays: Homophobia. How many people know the world for hatred of men, which Herbert casually indulges himself in?

In its grimmest aspects, misogyny manifests itself in hideous violence — from brutal beatings and rape to outright torture and murder. Fifteen months ago, a gunman invaded an Amish schoolhouse in rural Pennsylvania, separated the girls from the boys, and then shot 10 of the girls, killing five.

Certainly it was a horrific crime, but it was by a large margin the exception rather than the rule. The FBI keeps very accurate statistics on murder, and by a very wide margin, men are more likely to be the victims. In 2006, for example, an estimated 5,289 men and an estimated 1,909 women were murdered, making men a little over 2.5 times more likely to be killed than women. But nobody talks about how misandry (the hatred of men) is a plague on our society.

It is certainly true that men commit most of the murders in our society; they're about ten times more likely than women to slay somebody. But they're also far more likely to be executed for their crimes as well.
Romney: Auto Workers' Savior?

The Boston Globe debunks Mitt's latest bit of phoniness:

In a speech to business leaders and at an international auto show, he was especially critical of new fuel efficiency standards signed into law last month by President Bush. "Instead of throwing over a life preserver, Washington has dropped yet another anvil on Michigan," Romney told the Detroit Economic Club. "And now it's passively sitting back to see if car companies can swim, and the answer is: just barely."

But as governor, Romney imposed tough emissions standards in December 2005 that added Massachusetts to a growing list of states seeking to force the auto industry to produce cleaner-burning cars - which automakers considered a back-door attempt to raise fuel standards. Under the rules, cars sold in the state after 2015 must emit 30 percent less carbon dioxide, 20 percent fewer toxic pollutants, and as much as 20 percent fewer smog- causing pollutants than under federal standards.

Seth Kaplan, vice president at the Conservation Law Foundation, a Boston environmental group, said the standards were tougher on automakers than the federal standards Romney is now decrying in Michigan.

Hey, you know how it is; if you don't like Mitt's position on an issue, just wait for awhile and he'll have a new one for you.

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Phony Romney Photo Op With Staffer's Mom

Just like everything about the Mitt campaign, there's a bit of a fraud being played on the public.

What wasn’t reported – and what the Romney campaign did not reveal at the time – was that one of Sachs’ sons, Steve Sachs, is a paid employee of Romney’s campaign, organizing five counties in Michigan.

Kevin Madden, Romney’s campaign spokesman, said Sachs “work in the field doesn’t change (his mother’s) situation.”

Although Romney supposedly allowed the woman to answer questions, he gave her a little lesson on politicking, Mitt-style:

Ironically, when it came time to take questions from the reporters gathered around Sachs' kitchen table, Romney joked: "If you don’t want to answer any questions, that’s fine, too. What I’ve learned is, if they ask a question, you can answer something else."

Yeah, we've noticed, Mitt.

Meanwhile the Romney campaign is claiming that they are going back on the air in South Carolina and Florida.

The moves represent increased confidence in the outcome of today's vote in Michigan -- where Romney is leading or neck and neck with McCain in most polls -- and also eflect the urgency of the calendar.

Or they represent an effort to appear confident. InTrade still shows McCain with a slight margin (55% to 44%) in the Wolverine State. A lot will depend on how many Democrats vote for the Mitt in the GOP primary as urged by Kos and other liberal bloggers.

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Monday, January 14, 2008
They're Doing It Again

One of the most amusing things about the 2006 campaign--scratch that. About the only amusing thing about the 2006 campaign was that the liberal bloggers spent most of their efforts trying to defeat a Democrat (Joe Lieberman). Now, as 2008 officially gets under way with the Democrats very likely to do well, they're at it again.

Blue America candidate Mark Pera in a race against odious anti-choice Blue Dog Dan Lipinski, who really does need running out of the party....
Romney's Economic Message Flounders

According to the American Spectator:

My question is: what does this have to do with a conservative, free market view of the U.S. economy? Are we now reduced to mimicking Soviet industrial policy? And where does this end? Surely every stumbling industry in the U.S. which failed to get its house in order should line up at the door to get their slice of the pie. Really, if not Romney, at least his conservatives supporters should have the intellectual honesty to say " What?!" But such is politics and it may work.

The Wall Street Journal's campaign blog is similarly underwhelmed:

(As for what he himself has done to help Michigan, Romney, a former governor of Massachusetts whose father was governor of Michigan from 1963 to 1968, has said he hasn’t been in a position to help his home state.)

He will also pitch the argument forward, saying Michigan’s travails are a precursor to the economic woes faced by the country as a whole. As for solutions to these problems, the campaign has been mum on what — if anything — Romney will offer up.

His performance with the Massachusetts economy does not inspire confidence that the solutions will work:

On all key labor market measures, the state not only lagged behind the country as a whole, but often ranked at or near the bottom of the state distribution. Formal payroll employment in the state in 2006 was still 16,000 or 0.5 percent below its average level in 2002, the year immediately prior to the start of the Romney administration. Massachusetts ranked third lowest on this key job generation measure and would have ranked second lowest if Hurricane Katrina had not devastated the Louisiana economy. Manufacturing payroll employment throughout the nation declined by nearly 1.1 million or 7 percent between 2002 and 2006, but in Massachusetts it declined by more than 14 percent, the third worst record in the country.

(Bolding added for emphasis)


But Mitt did pick up an endorsement of sorts today:

Update: More discussion of Mitt's economic performance here:

While 8 million Americans over age 16 found work between 2002 and 2006, the number of employed Massachusetts residents actually declined by 8,500 during those years.

"Massachusetts was the only state to have failed to post any gain in its pool of employed residents," professors Sum and McLaughlin concluded.

Update II: Some more endorsements for Romney, from uberliberal Kevin Drum:

I, on the other hand, also support Romney, but I support him because I think he's just pandering to the base right now and, in fact, is the most reliably centrist and technocratic of the Republicans currently running. If you put a gun to my head and forced me choose one of the Republican candidates to be president — well, I'd probably just go ahead and shoot myself. But if I didn't shoot myself after all, I'd go with Romney.

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McCain in Michigan

This is going to be a tough state for McCain to win, given that it's Mitt's boyhood home, and given that the Kossacks are talking about coming out to support Romney. But there are certainly some good signs. McCain has gotten the endorsement of several large and small newspapers around the state, and his crowds are invariably described as "huge".

For example:

I'll have more actual coverage later, but right now I'm typing this from Brighton, Michigan waiting for the the first of three McCain rallies in the state today to begin. It's at a relatively small suburban convention center/wedding hall about 45 miles out of Detroit. The crowd is VERY large. I got here over an hour early and there was barely a parking space left. The line to get in winds through the building and out the door a good 30 yards into the parking lot. It seems McCain has no small base of support here in Michigan, a state he won in the 2000 primary.

Whereas Mitt's are oxymoronic:

Small Crowd Greets Romney's Mich. Push

On the endorsement front, besides the two major Detroit newspapers, McCain's picked up the Kalamazoo Gazette:

In 2000, the Kalamazoo Gazette endorsed U.S. Sen. John McCain in the Republican presidential primary.

We described him as intelligent and independent, outspoken and straightforward.

Eight years later, those words still accurately describe McCain.

That's why we recommend that those who cast ballots in Tuesday's Republican presidential primary vote for McCain.


Sunday, January 13, 2008
Mitt Romney's SUV Tax

Although Romney now claims to be a big supporter of SUVs when he was running for Governor of Massachusetts he ran on a platform of increasing taxes on SUV owners:

On the emissions front, Romney and Healey proposed a 10-year sales tax moratorium for low-emission hybrid cars. They also called for a revenue-neutral change in the motor vehicle excise tax formula to reward consumer purchase of fuel-efficient vehicles.

Revenue neutral change of course means that those who buy a Yugo get a discount and those who buy a minvan to get the kids to school get penalized.

And of course there is ample evidence that Romney delivered on that promise:

In addition to the policy on cars used by state employees, Romney plans to push for a higher excise tax on SUVs as promised during the fall campaign, and would also like to find a way to reward people for using environmentally friendly hybrid vehicles, Foy said.

Of course, when a politician promises to increase taxes they usually do manage to deliver on that promise when elected. Makes you wonder how they get elected, but this is Massachusetts after all.

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The Greatest Player in the History of the NFL?

Is still this guy:

But Tom Brady is putting forward a very strong case. My family and friends will tell you that I was raving about Joe Montana in 1981, and Brett Favre in 1992. But there is little denying that Brady has accomplished more in his 7 years as a starter than either of those two at the comparable point in their careers. If he wins another Super Bowl in three weeks as is looking increasingly likely, I think you have to put him on the top rung. This is the golden year, the seal it year like Joe Montana had in 1989.

Brady is 13-2 in playoff games; Montana was 16-6. If Brady wins out this year, he'd be 15-2. In the playoffs, where every team is solid. That's amazing.

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Coolest Street Name Ever?

What can I say, I played a lot of computer role-playing games. :)
Lost In Space?

Hillary's claims to have applied to be an astronaut are getting some attention:

The Associate Press published remarks by New York’s junior senator at a symposium on Title IX, the federal law prohibiting gender discrimination in certain educational programs. “I wanted desperately to be an Olympic athlete,” she is quoted as saying. “...[But] I couldn’t jump, I couldn’t run, I couldn’t swim… So I wrote to NASA and said, ‘How do I sign up to be an astronaut?’ And they wrote back very politely and said, ‘We don’t take girls.’”

While NASA did not have female astronauts when Hillary was a kid, Wall Street Journal columnist James Taranto has pointed out that Sally Ride was only 3-1/2 years younger than Hillary when she became the first U.S. woman in space—a revelation which calls into question the validity of this latest public claim by the former first lady.

I think the point was more that they don't take girls who can't run, can't jump, etc.




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