Thursday, January 31, 2008

That guy again? - CNN: "Al Qaeda's #3 man killed"

I know it's a big debate night, but I can't blog tonight. School, work, home, "Lost." Well, mostly "Lost."

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Abridged NY Post endorsement of Obama - He's not Hillary. "His opponent, and her husband, stand for deja vu all over again - a return to the opportunistic, scandal-scarred, morally muddled years of the almost infinitely self-indulgent Clinton co-presidency. Does America really want to go through all that once again?"
Pop-up "Lost"

The producers of "Lost" are in a bind: the complicated show is not easily accessible to new viewers. So tonight's recap of last season's finale will feature something not seen since the days when VH1 showed music videos: pop-up information.

The "Lost" onslaught begins on Wednesday night at 9 with a replay of the mind-boggling two-hour May finale of Season 3, which pushed new buttons on the show's fabled character-flashback technique - chiefly the flash-forward button. Little of what happened in that episode is likely to mean much to those who have not followed the show's labyrinthine plotline, stuffed as it is with interconnected back stories and sci-fi mind games. Trying to counter that expectation, ABC decided to transform the finale into what may be the first network show with added pop-up context. As Mr. Benson put it, maintaining his literary theme, "I kind of call it the Cliff Notes version of a TV show."
Don't get too excited, Lost fans. Only eight episodes are in the can meaning that ABC will have yet another hiatus at hand unless the writers' strike ends tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Mitt spends like a Boston politician, gets results like the Big Dig

From Marc Ambinder: "Romney's Major Florida Advantage"

Mitt Romney's had an 8 to 1 television ad advantage in Florida... part of the reason why he's made the competitive. Heck, most of the reason he's made the race competitive has been his ads.
According to Neilsen, he's run 4,475 ads compared to John McCain's 470 through 1/22.
McCain did not run a single ad until January; Romney ran more ads in September than McCain has run to date.
At 9 p.m. EST and half the votes counted, it looks like McCain may pull out a win in the Sunshine State.

This just in (9:26pm) - Florida is called for McCain. He's officially the GOP frontrunner now.

And this - Time: "Giuliani plans to endorse McCain"

More - A bitter Michael Graham declares "It's all over": "So it is over. Finished. In November, we'll be sending out our most liberal, least trustworthy candidate vs. to take on Hillary Clinton-perhaps not more liberal than Barack Obama, but certainly far less trustworthy."

Yikes, really? True, McCain hasn't been the scion of conservatives, but does that mean that I have to support the alternatives? Giuliani has run a feckless campaign, Huckabee is an Iowa flash-in-the-pan, and I simply can't get behind my former governor Mitt Romney. He was the driving force behind the liberty-stripping forced health care program in Massachusetts and on issues large and small he's flipped with the polls. Final straw: he put his dog on the roof of his car for a trip to Ontario. Don't like him, won't vote for him.
Viking health care

It's not so good in Sweden where waiting times are the longest in Europe, leading some people to (*gasp*) pay for private care. The socialists are upset at this turn of events:

"The new hospital for the children of the upper classes is a mockery of the most fundamental values of the Swedish system,'' said Lars Ohly, leader of the Swedish Left Party. "Care should be given based on needs, not wallets.''
In their defense, the Swedes have the second highest life expectancy at birth in the world (after San Marino) but also the highest tax rate in Europe. This is the polar opposite of "Live Free or Die."

Monday, January 28, 2008

SOTU analysis - Mostly unmemorable, except for a spark of energy when defending Administration policies in Iraq. His closing "let's do the people's business" could have been re-phrased "I'm not a lame duck." Well.

More reaction - Captain Ed feels the same way ("It didn't move me much") but Gateway Pundit gave the speech high marks and AJ liked it too. Q&O is all over the place.
Entitlement spending, which will swamp America - One paragraph in the SOTU, then it's on to immigration. Oh well.
Hooray for the scientists! - They're going to save us, if we just give me them enough money. While funding scientific education should be a federal concern, I'm not convinced that the funding of things like "clean energy" should be done by the taxpayer. If the technology is viable, there will be more than enough private funding but we can't make technology work by throwing money at it.
State of the Union is on - Ted Kennedy is sitting next to his new best friend, Barack Obama.
Fun, though - I suppose there's a point in trying to rebut hyper-liberal Paul Krugman. Tom Maguire tries again while Brink Lindsey suggests that it's a lesson in futility.
Falling on deaf ears

Here we go again, blowin' in the wind on entitlement reform. From tonight's State of the Union address:

"Every member in this chamber knows that spending on entitlement programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid is growing faster than we can afford. Now I ask members of Congress to offer your proposals and come up with a bipartisan solution to save these vital programs for our children and grandchildren."
Good luck with that.
Not news - Hillary promises not to campaign in Florida, campaigns in Florida.
Oh no he didn't

Today Ted Kennedy endorsed Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination for the Presidency. But that meeting of strange bedfellows wasn't nearly as illogical as Bill Clinton's eleventh-hour effort to derail Kennedy's imprimatur:

Rejecting a last-ditch effort by former president Bill Clinton, Sen. Edward Kennedy firmly bestowed his family blessing on Illinois Sen. Barack Obama’s presidential campaign.
Far from staying neutral, Ted threw some Irish elbows too:

And in a thinly veiled blast at the Clinton campaign, without naming the rival candidate, Kennedy said: "With Barack Obama, we will turn the page on the old politics of misrepresentation and distortion. … We will close the book on the old politics of race against race, gender against gender, ethnic group against ethnic group, and straight against gay." Kennedy has been critical of the Clinton campaign for injecting racial issues into the campaign.

And in a slap at another Clinton campaign talking point, Kennedy said: "I know that he’s ready to be president on Day One."
Why would Bill Clinton try to make this last-minute appeal? There was virtually no chance that Kennedy would change his mind and, by setting up the image of an ex-President rebuffed, it only elevates the importance of the endorsement. Plus, with Bill injecting himself yet again onto the national stage, he once again diminishes Hillary. If there's some Machiavellian double-twist at play here, I'm not seeing it.

P.S. - I should note that when I told a co-worker of my astonishment at Bubba's misstep, he opined that Bill probably convinced himself that he (being an ex-President and all) could talk Ted Kennedy out of the endorsement. Bill's become like that guy who was a football star in high school and still wears his letter jacket to the bar. Nobody's impressed anymore, buddy.

Extra - Bill Kristol in the NY Times (!): "Desperate Husband"

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Inconvenient quote of the day - From some water works guy about declining tax revenues from everybody conserving water: "Conservation is killing us." Not to worry, sir, they're going to raise water rates by 16% to make up the revenue shortfall. (HT: Fark)
Life as we know it will not end tonight - WashPost: "An asteroid as wide as the length of three football fields will be speeding past Earth at the astronomical equivalent of a rather close shave: less than one-and-a-half times the distance to the moon." Phew.
Six down: "Holy name to imams" - In the Sunday Boston Globe crossword puzzle, one of the answers was "Allah." Can I throw out or recycle this newspaper? Or do I need to hold on to it until it decomposes? I need some guidance here.
Overshadowed and diminished - Decision '08 collected quotes from around the blogosphere (and some papers) on how Bill is hurting Hillary. Frank Rich, in particular, seems on the edge of yelling "it's all slipping away!"
A billionaire in Harare - From Free Republic "UK Tycoon arrested in Zimbabwe." Wallet confiscated, Zimbabwe's GDP doubles.
The drama queen and Hillary

Clairvoyant Jeff Jacoby on Bill Clinton's departure seven years ago:

"He means it," I wrote at the time. "He isn't going anywhere. Yes, he packed his bags, zipped his pants, and turned the White House keys over to the new tenants - but he's still here. There are more grotesqueries to come from our ex-president. There will be more truth-twisting, more money-grubbing, more scandal. Even out of office, he will find seamy new ways to degrade the presidency. Just wait."
What's in store for the future, oh great seer?

If recent weeks have made one thing clear, it is that the current Clinton campaign is as much about returning Bill to the White House as about making Hillary president.

Bill Clinton's angry outbursts, his lack of self-control, his overpowering presence in the public arena are surely a preview of what a Clinton Restoration would be like. Hillary might be the president, but Bill would still be, as he has always been, the dominant Clinton. To whom would he be answerable in a second Clinton administration? Not to the woman whose political career is a derivative of his, that's for sure.
You can just see Bill barging into the Oval Office and putting his feet up on the coffee table. Save us from another four years of the "Jerry Springer" presidency, America.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Speaking of fast - With less than 1% of the votes counted, they're already calling South Carolina for Barack Obama: "Obama pulls big victory out of South Carolina." So far the story of the night may be the backlash against the Clintons with regard to the African-American vote, now estimated at a wide 81% to 17% for Obama.

Extra - More backlash? From the LA Times "Is the Right right on the Clintons?": "Something strange happened the other day. All these different people -- friends, co-workers, relatives, people on a liberal e-mail list I read -- kept saying the same thing: They've suddenly developed a disdain for Bill and Hillary Clinton. Maybe this is just a coincidence, but I think we've reached an irrevocable turning point in liberal opinion of the Clintons." More at Memeorandum.
Suddenly Aquaman - I was at my son's swim meet in Longmeadow all day today, so I'm just getting caught up with the news. But, in the last competition of the year, he unexpectedly shaved six seconds off his personal best for the 50m freestyle. That was cool.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Flash fun - Animator vs. Animation
Lookin' bad for Obama - Kaus: "Zogby's poll right before the New Hampshire primary showed Obama with a 13 point lead. ... Zogby's poll for Saturday's South Carolina primary shows Obama with a 13 point lead. And falling. I'm just sayin'" Uh-oh.

More - Obama's race problem in S.C.

Kerry to Bubba: "Stop swiftboating Obama"

Peggy Noonan to Dubya: "George W. Bush destroyed the Republican Party."
Another language is gone with its last speaker

From today's Boston Globe:

Marie Smith Jones, who worked to preserve her heritage as the last full-blooded member of Alaska's Eyak Indians and the last fluent speaker of their native language, has died. She was 89.
Ms. Jones died in her sleep Monday at her home in Anchorage. She was found by a friend, said daughter Bernice Galloway, who lives in Albuquerque.
"To the best of our knowledge she was the last full-blooded Eyak alive," Galloway said. "She was a woman who faced incredible adversity in her life and overcame it. She was about as tenacious as you can get."
As the last fluent speaker, she worked to preserve the Eyak language, a branch of the Athabaskan Indian family of languages, said Michael Krauss, a linguist and professor emeritus at the University of Alaska Fairbanks who collaborated with her.
Who can forget the Eyak's courageous battle against the Empire? Cute little guys.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Preparing for collapse in Zimbabwe - Today I met an honest-to-goodness Brit who used to live in Zimbabwe. He called it "Rhodesia" which indicates that he left the country a long time ago, but he said he still receives emails from a white farmer there. In his estimation, the country is heading towards complete social, economic, and political collapse. I told him "it used to be the bread basket of southern Africa" and he just kinda nodded sadly.
At least we're getting some money back for the Big Dig - Whoops, there it goes: "About $100 million of the landmark $458 million Big Dig settlement will be quickly drained to fix a long list of defects, many previously undisclosed, from cracked sidewalks and crosswalks to failing fireproofing, faulty wiring, and deteriorated joints between sections of roadways."

Heh-heh, "quickly drained." Very clever, Boston Globe.
Beacon Hill shocked: people without health care coverage want cheap health care coverage

From the Boston Globe: "Cost of health initiative up $400m"

Spending on the state's landmark health insurance initiative would rise by more than $400 million next year, representing one of the largest increases in the $28.2 billion state budget the governor proposed yesterday.

The biggest driver of the cost increase is projected growth in the number of people signing up for state-subsidized insurance, which now far exceeds earlier estimates.

State and federal taxpayers are expected to bear nearly all of the additional cost.
Of course we will. And why shouldn't this be a cautionary lesson for those who want to expand the federal S-CHIP program to people who can well-afford private health insurance? Thanks again, Deval Patrick, for demonstrating why Massachusetts is called the Commonwealth.

More - Mass Backwards: "File Under: Least Shocking News Item of the Epoch"

Extra - Here's more on our governor from Hub Politics: "Deval's budget relies on imaginary money." For when raising taxes just isn't enough.
Despite denials to the contrary - CNN: "Amy Winehouse going back to rehab"

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Hillary 2004: "We're going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good."

Hillary 2008 - Hillary's quest for economic justice
Where's Osama? - Morgan "Super Size Me" Spurlock has a new movie coming out: "At the Q&A session on Monday night, I asked Spurlock if his Saudi guide - who was in the audience on his first trip to the U.S. - had been scared when they were filming. The man in question took the mike and answered: "to death." You get the picture."
Borrow now, pay later - Jeff Jacoby reminds us that Chinese bond-holders will lend us the money for economic stimulus but, eventually, Americans will pay: "Remember, there's no free lunch."

Extra - Captain Ed asks if this boost is really necessary.
Ah do believe I'm gettin' the vapours!

There's a certain left-wing, no-talent hack who writes for the local free newspaper. In his hyperventilation, there's not an issue under his sun that doesn't spell the end of the world (e.g. baseball, the new Walmart, people driving cars) but this time he's really gone bonkers. Try to guess the critical event that threatens our very life and liberty from the excerpts of his latest blog entry:

"They are planning a Tiananmen Square for America on the Mall in Washington, D.C."
"This plan is the moral equivalent of the "final solution" to dissent in the Nation's Capital."
"If this is allowed to go through, it is the end of the freedom of assembly - guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution - in this nation."
"This is a dark, dark time in American history."
Heavens! What nefarious event does this nutjob approximate to the Holocaust? (e.g. "final solution"). Hold onto your tri-cornered hats, patriots of America: the National Park Service wants to designate an area on the Washington, D.C. National Mall for protests.

Can the Republic survive? We can only hope…we can only hope.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Same ole, same ole on Social Security

I was never a big Fred Thompson fan - he seemed a reluctant campaigner - but at least the guy had the courage to put forward a workable plan to reform Social Security. By contrast, the Democrats fall back on their same tired, pandering tropes:

EDWARDS: But I do have to say, in response to something Senator Clinton said just a minute ago, both Senator Obama and I have said Social Security needs a solution. And we have said we won't privatize, we won't cut benefits, we won't raise the retirement age. Same thing that Hillary has said.
So they won't cut back benefits (Florida's next after South Carolina!), they won't raise the retirement age even though Americans are living much longer and healthier lives, and they won't allow Americans to opt out of a system that is going bankrupt. Golly, I wonder what remedies haven't been discussed.

But she has proposed nothing about how we're going to create revenue to keep Social Security alive and talked about fiscal responsibility.

Here's the problem: If you don't have -- this is not complicated. The American people understand it. If you've got more money going out than is coming in, you're going to eventually run out of money.
Go, man, go!

And you've got to have a way to pay for it, which is why -- now, let me finish this. Lord knows you let them go on forever.
Do continue.

What I'm saying is we have to be consistent in what we're saying. I have said I think Hillary doesn't want to talk about raising taxes. Let's just be honest about that.
Doesn't want to talk about it, but it's the only option left on the table unless we're talking about the automatic cut in Social Security benefits, as dictated by current law.

Barack and I have both said that you've got to do something about the cap on Social Security taxes, which is now capped at $97,000. It means if somebody is making $80,000 a year, every dime of their income is taxed for Social Security. But if you are making $50 million a year, only the first $97,000 is taxed.
That's not right. And people ought to be paying their Social Security taxes. But the American people deserve to know what we're going to do.
Oh, Lord, here we go again. "People ought to be paying their Social Security taxes" - as if they had a choice! I have a quick question for son-of-a-mill-worker John Edwards and everybody else looking for the quick fix (i.e. "let somebody else pay"). Social Security has always been a universal program in which American workers put into the system a portion of their income in exchange for a proportional payment after retirement. But Franklin Delano Roosevelt knew that it was a political loser to have million-dollar checks going out to John D. Rockefeller, so he structured the program with an income cap that is indexed every year with inflation.

Are the Democrats saying that people making $50 million a year should pay the full 12.4% payroll tax on that income? If so, do they support a proportional payment upon retirement? Or do they intend to turn Social Security into a new welfare program and destroy the program's universality?

Boy, it pains me to say this, but Hillary's reticence on this question is looking better than Edwards and Obama's silly, Depression-era populism.
Heath Ledger dead at 28 - Wow. Poor guy just passed the critical age of 27, too.
That's a bargain - 80 Megabytes for under $12,000, what a deal! Old computer ads.
Headline of the Day

From today's New York Giants-lovin' New York Post: "FLOWERY TOM A POSY PATSIE"

The caption is also a good'un: "Flower boy Tom Brady, whose New England Patsies will face the Super Giants, wears a booty as he hobbles home to Gisele Bundchen in the Village yesterday."

Today's spread: Patriots by twelve-and-a-half.

Monday, January 21, 2008

There's still hope for the GOP in 2008 - Reuters: "Nader to decide soon on possible presidential run"

Or not - NYT: "Stocks Plunge Worldwide on Fears of a U.S. Recession"
GMTA and all that - Megan McArdle on the Clinton tax proposal: "I don't want to hear any more about how the Democrats are the party of fiscal responsibility; none of them are planning to close the current deficit, much less deal with the now-seriously-it-really-is-looming entitlement problem." Here's more from economist Greg Mankiw.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Abridged "Amazing Race" update

TK & Rachel won.
Ronald & Christina came in second.
Donald & Nicolas came in third.

Taiwan to Alaska, everybody's all together. The Roadblock essentially decided who would win the million-dollar prize: one team member had to arrange items from all the previous legs of the Race. Christina arrived first, but Rachel figured it out and Team Birkenstock ran for Phil and the mat.

Sorry about this, but there's football on.

Update: The Giants just beat Green Bay in OT. It will be the New York Giants vs. the New England Patriots in the Superbowl. Of course, the Patriots will go 19-0 but I guess we'll go through the motion of playing a game anyway.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Car crusher

Tonight, I'm watching the Barrett-Jackson classic car auction on the Speed channel and, after a dozen Shelbys, they just auctioned off Robosaurus. I thought it should have gone for a little more than $575,000 but I guess the deep-pocket bidders at these auctions are more interested in collecting cars than crushing them.
Sunday morning lineup - Skip "Meet the Press" (boring roundtable) and take a drink every time John Edwards says he'll "fight" for you on "Face the Nation." Son of a mill worker? Down the bottle.
Mitt-mentum - Mitt Romney won the Nevada caucus today in pretty convincing fashion. I think it was Tim Russert who pointed out yesterday that Mormons have a healthy representation in the state (e.g. Senate majority leader Harry Reid is a Mormon). Here's the expected schedule for Nevada results.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Baby, you can drive my car - Well, I picked up my new (used) Pontiac Vibe today. After 208K miles, I couldn't go any further in the Subaru. It's a nice car and I'm sitting quite a bit higher than before.
Anybody's guess

First Read has the latest election news in "The NV expectations game": "Why are both sides setting expectations that they might lose? Because no one -- and we mean no one -- knows what will happen on Saturday."

I have a question: if Barack Obama does better-than-expected in Nevada's open caucus, but worse-than-expected in the South Carolina primary a couple days later, would this be a confirmation of the Bradley effect?
Then he said: "Ta daaa!" - Via Expat Yank, a British Airways plane lost power while landing and the pilot successfully belly-flopped the plane onto the grass. Spot on, old chap!
What they found (too late) in his wallet: a concealed-weapon permit

From the Orlando Sentinel, via Free Republic:

An armed citizen surprised four men who robbed him at gunpoint last week.
After being ordered to his knees, Russel Olofson warned the men that "they should think about it," according to an Orlando police report released this week.
A private investigator with military training, Olofson, 24, told police the robbers snatched his cell phone and a wallet containing his concealed-weapon permit shortly before 10 p.m. Friday outside Ridge Club Apartments.
After the robbers took his items, Olofson stood up, drew his Springfield XD sub-compact 9 mm handgun "and fired two rounds toward male #1 with the silver handgun, possibly striking him," the report states. "Males #2, #3, and #4 then ran southeast . . . and male #1 ran northeast . . ."
In related news, those guys were drunk and taunting the tiger when it attacked.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Probably - From USA Today "Will aging boomers lose benefits?": "Peter Orszag, head of the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, warns that delaying tactics by lawmakers will only put the programs and the economy at greater risk. If Congress fails to act, the CBO cautions, the result will be swollen debt and deficits, higher inflation and reduced living standards."
Nevada judge: none of my business

After some snarky back-and-forth between the Clinton and Obama camps, a federal judge has declined to rule on how the Nevada Democratic Party sets up its caucus:

A federal judge on Thursday denied an attempt to cancel at-large Nevada caucus sites, boosting Barack Obama’s campaign, which has the backing of Las Vegas’ largest labor union.

Judge James Mahan washed his hands of the case, saying that existing election law allows for the Democratic Party to resolve the differences internally and it’s not the place of the federal court to adjudicate how the party conducts its caucuses.
Imagine that. Why can't the Ninth Circuit take that approach once in a while?
You know, for kids - One day you're alive, and the next day: Wham-O! From Fox Business: "A co-founder of the company that turned the Hula Hoop and Frisbee into beloved toys has died. Richard Knerr was 82."

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

"Shocked beyond belief" - Blogger Debbie Schlussel can't believe her former boss, ex-Congressman Mark D. Siljander (R-MI) has been indicted for funneling money to Al Qaeda.

This is nothing less than treason. I don't care to hear the mitigating circumstances. Whatever happened to "you're with us or you're with the terrorists"?

More - Ace: "Prosecute him for treason as well, and seek the death penalty. But of course they won't. Treason's apparently a misdemeanor now."
Technical experts expound on nuclear energy and Yucca Mountain

From last night’s Democratic debate:

OBAMA: I will end the notion of Yucca Mountain because it has not been based on the sort of sound science that can assure the people in Nevada that they're going to be safe. And that, I think, was a mistake.
Now, you hate to see billions of dollars having already been spent on a mistake, but what I don't want to do is spend additional billions of dollars and potentially create a situation that is not safe for the people of Nevada. So I've already -- I've been clear from the start that Yucca, I think, was a misconceived project. We are going to have to figure out how are we storing nuclear waste.
Stupid scientists!

And what I want to do is to get the best experts around the table and make a determination: What are our options based on the best science available? And I think there's a solution that can be had that's good for the country but also good for the people of Nevada.
Save us, scientists!

CLINTON: Well, I voted against Yucca Mountain in 2001. I have been consistently against Yucca Mountain. I held a hearing in the Environment Committee, the first that we've had in some time, looking at all the reasons why Yucca Mountain is not workable. The science does not support it. We do have to figure out what to do with nuclear waste.
Stupid scientists!

But you know, this [energy policy] is going to take a massive effort. This should be our Apollo moon shot.
Save us, scientists!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Michigan tonight - Oh, man, I forgot my predictions. Well, the exit polls are just coming in but I'll say that Mitt Romney ekes out a win with his pro-business "I'm the Staples guy" talk in the only state in the Union with +7% unemployment. Scott at Election Projection has much more on tonight's GOP contest.

Update - Some "eke." Romney wins convincingly in Michigan. Also, not a bad night for "uncommitted."
Beg, borrow, or steal - we can't pay for entitlements

Here's Pat Buchanan with "Subprime Nation"

Since it began to give credit ratings to nations in 1917, Moody's has rated the United States triple-A. U.S. Treasury bonds have been seen as the most secure investment on earth. When crises erupt, nervous money seeks out the world's great safe harbor, the United States. That reputation is now in peril.

Last week, Moody's warned that if the United States fails to rein in the soaring cost of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, the nation's credit rating will be down-graded within a decade.
And here's Fed chair Ben Bernanke a little more than a year ago:

To get a sense of the magnitudes involved, suppose that we tried to finance projected entitlement spending entirely by revenue increases. In that case, the taxes collected by the federal government would have to rise from about 18 percent of GDP today to about 24 percent of GDP in 2030, an increase of one-third in the tax burden over the next twenty-five years, with more increases to follow.
So, taken together, when the entitlement tsunami hits we won't be able to borrow any more money due to our damaged credit and we won't be able to raise revenues because Americans simply will not pay an additional third in taxes to support programs that will be bankrupt by the time they retire.

This is a fine mess we're in. Are there any adults in Washington, or is this just an endless game of "kick the can"?
Take that, North Korea - My favorite destroyed country, Zimbabwe, edged out Cuba and North Korea on the Heritage Foundation's 2008 index of economic freedom. Pseudo-country Hong Kong is #1 and the U.S.A. is #5.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Tom Cruise: sucker!

Slate has an excerpt from Andrew Morton's upcoming bio on Tom Cruise:

Page 171-172: By 1993, Morton says Tom "progressed to what Scientologists call 'the Wall of Fire,' or Operating Thetan III, where the secrets of the universe according to Hubbard [are] revealed." Allegedly, "Tom found the knowledge he had just received disturbing and alarming, as he struggled to reconcile the creationist myth with the more practical teachings contained in the lower levels of Scientology. … It was recalled that around this time relations became 'ugly' between David Miscavige and the Hollywood actor, Tom complaining that he had studied all these years and the whole faith was about space aliens."
Xenu is watching you, Tom.
Quote of the Day - The fans from I Watch Stuff on the Golden Globes news conference: "There is something seriously wrong when the question "Couldn't they at least get Ryan Seacrest to do this?" crosses your mind, and last night may be the first and last time in recorded history that it happens." Link has all of last night's (yawn) winners.
Our national drama queen

Here's the conclusion to Christopher Hitchens' "The case against Hillary Clinton"

Indifferent to truth, willing to use police-state tactics and vulgar libels against inconvenient witnesses, hopeless on health care, and flippant and fast and loose with national security: The case against Hillary Clinton for president is open-and-shut. Of course, against all these considerations you might prefer the newly fashionable and more media-weighty notion that if you don't show her enough appreciation, and after all she's done for us, she may cry.
The "weeping Hillary" episode was notable not so much for the tears but for Hillary's inadvertent revelation of her own overweening self-regard:

Then Clinton began getting emotional: "It's not easy, and I couldn't do it if I didn't passionately believe it was the right thing to do. You know, I have so many opportunities from this country just don't want to see us fall backwards," she said.

Then, her voice breaking and tears in her eyes, she said, "You know, this is very personal for me. It's not just political it's not just public. I see what's happening, and we have to reverse it."
Only Hillary can save us. It was certainly this Messiah complex that led to the health-care reform debacle; after all, who could be against free healthcare for everyone? Only those evil Republicans, that's who. It's the mindset that leads to statements like this, made to a bunch of rich, San Francisco Democrats:

"We're going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good."
That pretty much sums up the liberal worldview, doesn't it? We know better and, dammit, you're gonna love what we do with your money.

C.S. Lewis said it best:

"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."
Look, I'm no fan of Obama or Edwards or even McCain and Huckabee. But C.S. Lewis wrote this for Hillary. She lives and breathes it and heaven help us if she gains any real power.
Random '80s TV quote of the day

I was looking for something for a post and ran across this old quote from "Family Ties" - always funny.

[Steven's reaction to Alex turning their house into a hotel]
Steven: Alex, parents are conditioned to put up with a few minor accidents when they leave their children home alone. A broken vase, spilt milk on the rug... There was a kangaroo... in my living room.
Alex P. Keaton: ...He was just here for the party dad.
Steven: Then I guess I'm overreacting.
Headline of the day - From the Boston Globe: "Justices to hear case of Va. man nicknamed 'Chubs'"
Time to buy a car while you can afford it

From the Detroit News: "New fuel rules will hike GM vehicle prices by an average $6,000"

General Motors Corp. Vice Chairman Bob Lutz said Sunday the new fuel efficiency requirements imposed by Congress last month would add $6,000 to the price of an average GM vehicle by the end of the next decade.
David Freddoso adds: "This is part of the "new direction" for America. Inflate of the price of cars, fuel, and food. Justify it by scaring people with hyperbolic, doomsday predictions about unknown (and mostly unknowable) future effects of global warming. Throw in the doubtful proposition that incremental steps like this can do anything to stop global warming, and you might fool some people into thinking that it's worth accepting an economy they can't afford to live in."

There's a saying, or there used to be one, that "As GM goes, so goes the country." I've always thought as General Motors as a microcosm of America in the sense that it's currently saddled with health care (like Medicare) and pension (like Social Security) liabilities that it simply cannot afford, which is why GM's bond rating is currently in "junk" status. (The United States may not be far behind.) Can General Motors survive when people stop buying new cars?

By somewhat of a coincidence, I test-drove and put a deposit down on a 2005 Pontiac Vibe this past weekend. The Vibe is the exact same car as a Toyota Matrix, except for some reason the Matrix prices are always a smidge higher than the Vibe, a difference I can only ascribe to perceived quality. All the way, U.S.A.!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

That $15 billion hole in the ground - It never ends. From the Boston Globe "Big Dig tunnels spring 237 leaks - Costs climb as state plugs serious spots. Engineers say fixes could go on for years": "Despite repeated assurances that it had Big Dig leaks under control, the Turnpike Authority has allowed the number of leaks to explode in the last two years and has been forced to launch a fresh effort to plug hundreds of trouble spots, according to an analysis of Big Dig records."
Amazing Race update - A high-strung bundle of crazy

It's Jennifer's birthday today, so the little nutcase will be on edge during this leg; is it good karma or bad karma? It seems like it would take a string of good fortune to help Team Birkenstock who are both three hours behind the other teams and must face a "Speed Bump" somewhere along this leg as punishment for coming in last on the previous leg.

Teams started out from Japan and needed to find a certain building and the floating garden on the roof. Here TK & Rachel catch their first break as the garden doesn't open until the morning and the other three teams have to wait. This clue directs teams to Taipai, Taiwan and Ron & Christina seem to have a leg up on the flight to Taiwan. Jennifer seems to freak out every time she sees TK & Rachel who simply have no business actually Racing against anyone. The nerve!

Once in Taiwan, teams face one of the least-challenging Roadblocks I've seen in a long time. One team member must ride in a truck balanced on a teeter-totter - that's it, just ride - then hold their breath for an entire 17 seconds while riding in an amphibious jeep. First come, first served, in and out. Team Miyagi finishes first, followed by Team Birkenstock, who immediately have their Race-slowing "Speed Bump." TK & Rachel must travel a mile away, don safety clothing, and run through a gauntlet of fireworks as part of some Chinese ritual. Once again, there's simply nothing challenging to this, it's more of an excuse for delay.

After the roadblock, teams must travel via train and find a certain teahouse in Taipei. On the bottom of the cup are directions to the next clue, handed out by a clown at a local market. This is the Detour: Fire or Earth. Teams may travel to a local park and set off fire-powered paper lanterns that float up, or find a park and walk a pathway of jagged stones. Everybody chooses the latter task, but only Nathan & Jennifer decide to take a subway, then a bus (instead of a taxi) to the park. Jennifer is like a bull in Chinese shop who is constantly seeing red. She flips out when she sees TK in the train station, she freaks when taxis with other teams race ahead, and now she goes into meltdown mode when they're disoriented in Taipei. Nathan can't take it anymore and says "you're such a poor teammate." Yes she is.

Team Generic Couple eventually arrives at the park and the Detour but they're starting just as other teams are finishing up. TK & Rachel make an impressive comeback and finish second while Nicolas & Donald take third. Nathan & Jennifer are the last team to arrive and are eliminated by an emotionless Phil. They're both pretty upset but only one of them starts crying. It's Nathan. Jennifer consoles him by climbing him like a deranged monkey.

Final standings:

1 - Ronald & Christina - Team Miyagi and Grasshopper
2 - TK & Rachel - Team Birkenstock
3 - Nicolas & Donald - Team Rude Boy and Gramps
4 - Nathan & Jennifer - Team Generic Couple - PHILIMINATED

Next week - The season finale. Looks like Alaska.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Can't blog, busy - It's my son's birthday today and now the Patriots are on. But if you're looking for political coverage, here's the lineup for the Sunday shows tomorrow. Hillary will be facing Russert on "Meet the Press."

Friday, January 11, 2008

Hillary, Edwards & Obama, the new Mod Squad - Protein Wisdom: "Dems 2008: To Live and Die by Identity Politics"
Hucka-who? - CNN: "Poll: New Hampshire win rockets McCain to front-runner status" A +21 point jump? Wow, that's a big'un.
Even a stopped clock is right twice a day - Megan Mcardle: "Paul Krugman is voting for doom. It's worth keeping in mind, however, that Paul Krugman has predicted eight of the last none recessions under the Bush administration."
Future shock - One of the inconspicuous strengths of the U.S. economy has been the ability to borrow a large amount of money based on superior credit. But due to the massive unfunded liabilities of entitlement spending, Moody's is warning that U.S. Treasury securities could be downgraded: "Moody's Investors Service said on Thursday the United States' "triple-A" government bond rating could come under pressure in the very long-term if the Medicare and Social Security programs are not reformed."

On a related debt note, this month's Atlantic sounds the warning over the Chinese subsidizing our economy: "The Chinese are subsidizing the American way of life. Are we playing them for suckers - or are they playing us?" It's all fun and games until somebody starts cashing in their T-bills.

Extra - AKP: "America, the bad credit risk"
Two tales of double homicide

Find him! screams the Fox News website, referring to Marine Cesar A. Laurean who is accused of raping then killing fellow Marine Maria Lauterbach. I have no doubt the police will find him within the next 48 hours.

However, are there any leads whatsoever on the manhunt for Yaser Abdel Said who almost certainly murdered his two daughters ten days ago? Would it be racist or merely conspiratorial to suppose that Said has found refuge in a sympathetic mosque somewhere, one that supports the honor killing of recalcitrant, Westernized girls?
Yes, it's another post on Social Security fraud

Just the best damn SS fraud post evah! From the Village Voice:

It's not exactly a victimless crime considering that David J. Dalaia and James O'Hare traipsed around the streets of Hell's Kitchen with a corpse and were trying to defraud taxpayers and the U.S. government by cashing a Social Security check on behalf of a dead man.

But if the two senior citizens are convicted of check fraud, one might hope that the sentencing judge will take into account the absurdity of their crime and the laughter it brought to people around the world.

When O'Hare, woke up and realized his roommate, Virgilio Cintron, was dead, he and Dalaia, both 65, sprung into action. They dressed Cintron as best they could - pulling his pants halfway up, and covering his crotch with a jacket - and wheeled the corpse on an office chair to Pay-O-Matic, a Ninth Avenue check cashing store. The plan worked well until that point when the store clerk started asking questions and off-duty NYPD detective dining next door noticed a crowd forming around the dead body on the sidewalk.
Yeah, once you get away from the Hamptons, people start to notice things like that.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Today's must read - From this month's Atlantic, here's Megan McArdle with "No Country for Young Men": "The Baby Boomers’ retirement will change the texture of society in ways we’ve scarcely begun to contemplate. A dispatch from America’s coming silver age."
"Hello, Baton Rouge" - Bull Dog Pundit and I share more than political ideology; we're also big fans of Donald Fagan's album "The Nightfly" which turns 25 this year. If you haven't heard the jazzy-pop elegance of "New Frontier" you're missing out, brother.
Bizarro World update: MA to allow private enterprise to alleviate health care shortage

If you've ever had a kid wake up crying from an earache and you know you just need some amoxicillin (stat!), this is a welcome slice of common sense. From today's Boston Globe: "In-store healthcare wins state approval - CVS planning to open clinics for minor ills"

After state regulators cleared the way yesterday for store-based medical clinics, CVS Corp. said it plans to open more than two dozen inside Massachusetts drugstores this year, dispensing treatment for bronchitis and earaches a few aisles away from shelves of candy and nail polish.
The "Minute Clinics" will be staffed by nurse practitioners and they'll only be permitted to treat sore throats and simple maladies. But they'll also have the knowledge to recognize more serious ailments and direct patients to the right medical care. In the end, the Massachusetts health board needed a solution for the shortage of primary care doctors in the Bay State:

Still, the eight members of the panel who voted in favor of the clinics and even the five who abstained said this was the right time to expand access. There is a shortage of primary-care physicians, leading some patients to turn up in hospital emergency rooms for routine care - and that was before nearly 300,000 previously uninsured Massachusetts residents gained coverage as part of the state's near-universal health insurance initiative, expected to spur even greater demand.
CVS operates hundreds of Minute Clinics in 25 states, but good ol' Massachusetts worked hard to block the clinics until a public "solution" could be found that would spread the misery equally to everybody.
Top of the world, ma! - Sir Edmund Hillary, the first man to top Mount Everest and namesake of Hillary Clinton, has died at 88.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Distracted - My car is sputtering out its final miles and now I'm scrambling to find a new one. Apparently, Autotrader loves to list cars but not take them off when they're sold; twice I've called separate dealers on cars I liked only to find they were long gone.
Apres Obama, le fury - I'm less-than-thrilled about Hillary's surprise victory in New Hampshire last night, but certain factions of the Left are coming unglued. Diebold rigging in the Granite State? Why not.

Update - There goes Richardson.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Stunning - From Real Clear Politics election night thread: "9:08 PM Exit poll has been reweighted [sic] and combined with town-by-town returns from sources suggest Senator Clinton may very well win by two points. - John McIntyre"

Wha? So every poll - all week - has been wrong? Or has New Hampshire played the greatest prank ever?
A good place to hit the "refresh" button - The NY Times politics page.
That was quick - Fox News calls New Hampshire for John McCain. Wow, already? The polls closed 10 minutes ago.
Great news for oenophiles - Wired News: "Red Wine Drug Shows Proof That It Combats Aging"
Who saw this coming? "Spiraling costs" in mandated Bay State health care

Via Q&O, here's Bizzy Blog with "The Romney Care crackup is coming early"

After one year, Commonwealth Care (aka RomneyCare) in Massachusetts is imploding even earlier than I predicted, due to "spiraling costs." Punitive fines of $912 - $1,824 are to be imposed on those who would rather not participate in the so-called "grand experiment."
Those spoil-sports are the young and healthy who either cannot afford health care or, through some alien concept previous known as "freedom", don't choose to subsidize the Commonwealth's health care system. Tom Maguire encapsulated the issue while writing about the nearly-identical HillaryCare program:

The speaker...was extolling the virtue of Hillary's health care plan, specifically her mandate that everyone must buy insurance or face the (as yet unspecified) consequences. And why is the mandate, which is missing from Obama's plan, so important? Because otherwise, she explained, healthy people, most likely healthy young people, would prefer not to buy insurance; if they don't participate, the cost rises for everyone else.

Hmm - put another way (OK, almost exactly the same way), young healthy people need to be forced to buy health insurance in order to subsidize the old, obese, and infirm.
Just today I received my Massachusetts Resident Income Tax Forms and emblazoned on the front cover is "This year Massachusetts requires that you file the new health care schedule." Or else, citizen, or else.
Ostriches for Social Security reform - From the WSJ "To Get Attention In New Hampshire, Dress as an Ostrich": "Dozens of interest groups have spent millions of dollars in the 2008 campaign to help candidates and promote issues they support. But just one rides around in an "Ostrich Mobile" and dresses in ostrich costumes. The goal of the group, Students for Saving Social Security, is to prevent presidential candidates from "sticking their heads in the sand" about Social Security reform."
A familiar headline - Reuters, this morning: "Obama widens lead over Clinton in New Hampshire" In other news, it looks like John McCain is pulling away from former governor Mitt Romney.

Monday, January 07, 2008

New Hampshire predictions

Well, it's time. I'm going to work from the predicate that, just like Iowa, independent voters are going to break heavily for the Democrats and for Obama in particular. This is going to shave John McCain's margin of victory considerably such that Romney - who has more GOP support - will finish very close behind. Meanwhile, Obama has all the energy and I think New Hampshire voters will actually turn out to vote for him. He'll easily pull in 40% of the vote.

Obama - 42%
Clinton - 28%
Edwards - 18%

McCain - 32%
Romney - 30%
Huckabee - 15%

Scott at Election Projection also has his learned predictions. Let the fun begin.

Extra - More guesses at OTB.
Whither Hillary? - Patrick Ruffini lays out a credible scenario for a Hillary comeback. OTOH, Rick Moran thinks Hillary's exit is "probably inevitable."

My take is that if Hillary loses by double-digits in both New Hampshire then South Carolina, the donors and superdelegates will swarm to Obama and there will be no way for her to recover.

Update (1/8) - And there they go: "Several Senate colleagues who have sat on the fence are now in talks with Obama advisers about endorsing the freshman Illinois senator over his more experienced colleague. Despite raising more than $100 million, Sen. Clinton also faces financial worries as contributions have begun to slacken."
Great moments in blogosphere prognostication

Here's Larry Kudlow, a full three weeks before Iowa:

Could Hillary Clinton be the Ed Muskie of the 2008 presidential campaign?
Muskie's nomination in 1972 was thought to be a done deal. He had the smartest and most prestigious staff organization, as well as scores of endorsements from important Democrats. Turned out he was a paper tiger. Muskie collapsed in New Hampshire when he cried on a flatbed truck in front of the Manchester Union-Leader, which had attacked Mrs. Muskie for drinking too much.

Well before that episode, Muskie's fuzzy message, lackluster campaigning, and refusal to take clear positions had doomed his effort below the surface. George McGovern nearly beat Muskie in New Hampshire that year and of course went on to win the nomination. Muskie's people thought he had a firewall in Florida and Illinois to stop the hemorrhaging begun in New Hampshire. It was not to be. Muskie was completely unhorsed.

Might history be repeating itself?
And here's the Anchoress, almost a week ago:

What I dread most in this political season is the "genuine" moment - and it is coming, soon, sometime between today and tomorrow, or tomorrow and New Hampshire - when Mrs. Clinton, in her ongoing effort to turn herself into whatever the polls says she must be, cries in public. It's going to be genuinely ghastly.
Hillary packs 'em in

Well, she's drawing record numbers of journalists, but not so many voters:

Clinton chuckled, made a few jokes about how she "has help" on certain days (but those are never the pictures you see on Web sites, she joked). Then she paused. Her eyes grew red. The coffee shop, packed with about 100 members of the media and 16 outnumbered voters, grew silent. "I just don't want to see us fall backward as a nation," Clinton began, her voice strained, her eyes welling.
Sixteen voters? No wonder the Clinton campaign is bussing in supporters from Massachusetts.
Love him or hate him - Bill Kristol thinks Mike Huckabee can go the distance; Stuart Rothenberg is not as enthusiastic.
King Midas in reverse

It's becoming more evident as the days roll by that Bill Clinton has been a liability to Hillary's campaign. Slick Willie can't even rouse the enthusiasm of his old New Hampshire supporters. From the New York Times: "In New Hampshire, Bill Clinton is finding less spark"

Former President Bill Clinton has been drawing sleepy and sometimes smallish crowds at big venues in the state that revived his presidential campaign in 1992. He entered to polite applause and rows of empty seats at the University of New Hampshire on Friday. Several people filed out midspeech, and the room was largely quiet as he spoke, with few interruptions for laughter or applause.
Can you feel the love? Bill destroyed Al Gore's chance at the presidency (at least Al Gore thought so) and generally speaking he's been an albatross for the Democratic party:

GOP seats gained in House since Clinton became president: 48
GOP seats gained in Senate since Clinton became president: 8
GOP governorships gained since Clinton became president: 11
GOP state legislative seats gained since Clinton became president: 1,254.
State legislatures taken over by GOP since Clinton became president: 9
So much political capital was spent on the Big He, there's no oxygen left for the Big She.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Amazing Race update - Driving around Osaka

The final four teams needed to find their way from Mumbai, India to Osaka, Japan. There's a lot of ominous foreshadowing about how Donald from Team Rude Boy and Gramps (he's Gramps) may not be able to keep up with the younger racers. Three teams are heading to Osaka via Hong Kong while TK & Rachel are going through New Delhi and Beijing; their flight left earlier but has extra stops, so either Team Birkenstock will jump ahead or (more likely) fall way back.

Sure enough (back from commercial) the other three teams arrive in Osaka first and must make their way to some castle for the next clue. Ronald & Christina of Team Miyagi and Grasshopper speak Japanese which will surely help them to get around the country. This clue is just a way-station and teams must next take a taxi to Noda Station and find the cleaning guy. He has the Roadblock: one team member must be a taxi driver in Osaka. Get ready for stress as Americans navigate crowded streets with no visible English signs to guide the way. Jennifer can't figure out the location to drive a couple while Christina doesn't seem to know how to drive. Nicolas at least has experience driving with the steering wheel on the right.

Jennifer finishes first and Team Generic Couple heads to the next clue at a temple. Christina finishes next followed by Nicolas. TK & Rachel haven't been seen since the beginning of the show. They're toast.

At the temple, it's a Detour: Sense of Touch or Sense of Smell. Teams may either play a game of soccer with miniature robots, or pick out a real flower in a store full of artificial flower only by smelling. Donald & Nick do the soccer robots while Ronald & Christina and Nathan & Jennifer smell flowers. Jennifer finds the real flower just as Nate is about to give up and they head to the Pit Stop at Tempozan Park. But it looks like Ronald & Christina are just behind so the Race is on.

Whoops, Jennifer's going to be bummed! Ronald & Christina sneak ahead and arrive at the Pit Stop in first place. Nicholas & Donald arrive to the Pit Stop in third place as the sun is well below the horizon. TK & Rachel are three hours behind but they're still compelled to go through all the tasks. This is interesting since usually the Race will employ a "mercy rule" for teams so far behind that will be eliminated anyway. That is, they'll open a clue and it will say "never mind." But after driving a taxi and sniffing flowers, Team Birkenstock makes it to the Pit Stop and Phil tells them it's another non-elimination leg. They'll compete in the next leg but there will be a "Speed Bump" as a penalty.

Final standings:

1 - Ronald & Christina - Team Miyagi and Grasshopper
2 - Nathan & Jennifer - Team Generic Couple
3 - Nicolas & Donald - Team Rude Boy and Gramps
4 - TK & Rachel - Team Birkenstock

Next week - Tensions rise in the race for the final three.
Mr. O has the Big Mo - Rasmussen reports a double-digit lead for Obama in New Hampshire. David Broder writes: "Any way you view it, the race is now Obama's to lose."
Video goodness - Name that song.
Democracy in action - Jay Tea shames a dimwitted Hillary supporter away from the ballot box. That was a close one.
This just in - Former NJ Senator Bill Bradley to endorse Barack Obama. Did I ever mention I got some kind of youth citizenship award from Bill Bradley back when I was in high school and he was my senator? No? Got my picture in the paper.
Straight talk and otherwise on energy policy

Harvard professor Greg Mankiw liked Barack Obama's answer on energy policy at last night's debate. Hillary, not so much: "Instead, she offers some typical vacuous blather about requiring utility companies to help us all become more energy efficient. I think of this as "magic-wand economics." Like your fairy godmother, the President can wave a magic wand and make your problems disappear."

I'm having a deja vu moment from when I criticized John Kerry on this magic wand policy back in 2003: "I can't suppress a cringe whenever I hear this "invent" line. We can't build an energy policy on the hope that some engineer will invent a way out of our dependence on foreign oil. That is no policy at all."
Not enough - Let's take a break from U.S. politics and plunge through the looking-glass world that is Zimbabwe. Always fun! Today the report is that magistrates have received a 600% increase in their salaries. Unfortunately, it's not enough to keep up with Zimbabwe's "official" inflation rate of 8,000%.

Wait, did I say 8,000%? "But central bank officials acknowledged their own informal estimates put inflation in December at around 24,000 percent, up from 8,000 percent in September."

Wait, did I say 24,000%? "Independent evaluations by banks and financial institutions have listed real inflation on foodstuffs alone closer to 150,000 percent. The International Monetary Fund had forecast overall inflation reaching 100,000 percent by the end of 2007." This is sheer insanity.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Clinton rattled at NH dinner

From the Weekly Standard: "Dinner with the Democrats" (HT: Althouse)

But a few minutes into her speech she trots out her standard line about how "some people think you get change by demanding it and some people think you get change by hoping for it" (a dig at Edwards and Obama)--there's actually some booing. It throws her off. After starting the speech upbeat and sunny, she becomes a bit brittle. The response from the audience gets fainter with each applause line until you can actually see the Obama supporters sitting on their hands, their "O" signs resting on their laps.

"We have to pick a president who is ready on day one," she says, to muted applause from her small contingent. The Obama crowd then waves their signs and begins chanting "Obama! Obama!" while she keeps speaking. It's a tense moment and Clinton seems rattled by it.
Clinton's campaign has always followed some kind of circular logic that she should be the nominee because she should be the nominee. But now that the "inevitability" myth has been shattered, Hillary has no substance to fall back on. She's been purposely vague on issues and her "standard lines" are as hackneyed as an episode of "ER."

Furthermore, Hillary has been making broad statements like these for months without anybody really challenging her. But now Democrats are asking "what's it all about, Alfie?" What does it mean that Hillary is "ready on day one?" In what special way is Hillary more qualified? Because she once had an office in the West Wing? Preposterous.

Yes, some people think you get change by hoping for it, while others think you get change by holding secret meetings to re-jigger America's health care system:

The second of Hillary Clinton's important experiences was the drafting, in secret, of a national health care plan. It was so dauntingly baroque and ominously statist that a Congress controlled by her party would not bring it to a vote.

Her experiences that should matter most to primary voters reveal consistently bad judgment. Her campaign's behavior radiates bad character.
"Experience counts" says the Clinton camp. And how.

Extra - Via Gateway Pundit who has more on the dinner, there's this brutal live-blogging from 2008 Central: "She uses her 'some people want to fight for change, others hope' line…and gets a significant amount of boos, as she segues into experience. She’s really doubling down on experience."

More - Even Bill Richardson joined in: "Richardson had a special line of gratitude to offer the audience and attendees, "I want to thank the candidates in this race who don't have the political pedigree of others," a not-so-subtle dig at Clinton."

Friday, January 04, 2008

Rest in peace - Andrew Olmsted (More from Hilzoy)
Obama makes a funny

From the NY Observer:

Obama did work a new joke into his speech. Referring to his new status as the Democratic front-runner, he said: "This feels good. It's just like I imagined it when I was talking to my Kindergarten teacher."
If you don't get that joke, well, you probably have a real life.
Irony overload - Due to frigid temperatures in Florida, the Walt Disney World water park Blizzard Beach has been closed.
Next up - Here's some interesting stats: Hillary has a +6.5% lead in the New Hampshire polls but Obama has jumped out to a +20% lead in the Intrade Political market. On the Republican side, McCain will cruise to a win.

Update (1/5) - Did I say 20% lead? It's up to 50%.
The bad news and the less bad news - They can be found on sequential posts over on the Plank: on the one hand, the Independents in Iowa overwhelmingly caucused with the Democrats. If the microcosm of Iowa suggests a larger national trend that the middle is abandoning the GOP, 2008 is going to be a rough year. However, if the Democrats do claim the White House, it may not be Hillary, thank heaven. Unlike the Dean-Kerry switcharoo of four years ago, Iowa voters didn't settle for Obama - they wanted him.

Extra - AJ Strata is also concerned.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

This just in - Joe Biden is done. Chris Dodd, too. Obama is speaking now and I can't help but admire the guy for all the reasons I dislike Hillary. He's genuine, passionate, and bold whereas Hillary is artificial and paralyzed by her pollster.
Rolling Stone says Hillary is toast

From "Five not-so-unlikely surprises" in the left-wing rag and former music magazine:

It’s easy to see how Edwards finishes stronger than he’s polled. Ditto for Obama, who is counting on unprecedented turnout to goose his precinct tallies. But where are Hillary’s hidden backers? I can’t see them.

And neither, apparently, can the Clinton camp. Surrogate Tom Vilsack, Iowa’s former governor, is already lowering expectations, spinning that a third-place finish would be just dandy.

But let’s get real: If Obama wins, Edwards places, and Hillary tumbles into third by any notable margin, her candidacy could be toast. Inevitable candidates don’t finish last.
The empress has no clothing for her coronation. (Hat tip: Memeorandum)
Huckabee speaks - Whoa, I didn't know that Chuck Norris is a Huck supporter, but there he is right over Mike's left shoulder. Chuck Norris is cool.
Hillary speaks - Standing in front of a podium reading "Ready for Change" the woman who has spent the last two decades in Washington D.C. is using the word "change" as a punctuation mark. She's for "change" I guess, but her message is diminished by standing next to Madeline Albright and Slick Willy.

Update - Hillary as Santa Claus. Oh the goodies we'll get if only she's elected!

More - Malkin also noticed all the fresh faces advocating "change."
Advantage: Viking Pundit! - As of 10:24, John McCain just edged ahead of Fred Thompson for third place among GOP voters, as I predicted. With 96% of the vote in, Hillary is 12 delegates behind Edwards. Hillary says it's "too early to talk about withdrawal."

Update (11pm EST) - Well, Thompson reclaimed his third-place position, upsetting my perfect pundit prediction. Can't win 'em all. Still, considering he didn't campaign much and pretty much declared ethanol a boondoggle, fourth place is a win for McCain.
Time's running out - At 10pm EST, Hillary is 10 delegates behind Edwards. So this is a statistical tie out of hundreds of caucus voters, but it's just enough for tomorrow's headline: "Hillary finishes THIRD."
What liberal media? - Via Bulldog Pundit, we find the story of one Henry Lowenstein: a "lifelong Republican" who somehow got twenty letters published in the New York Times. The Times gets a thousand letters a day, so what's Lowenstein's secret? He's a "Republican" who hates Republicans. Print that letter!
The blue ribbons go toMike Huckabee and Barack Obama.

It's a scrum between Edwards and Clinton for second. Romney will take second for the GOP with Thompson likely to edge John McCain. The Fox News panel seems impressed by the margin of victory for Obama which currently stands at 37% over 30% for Hill and Silky. Juan Williams is bowled over by the fact that overwhelmingly white Iowa went for Obama. The Republican race seems like an afterthought, if only because it's the less-exciting story tonight. The story there appears to be that Romney performed poorly, given his attention to the state.
Iowa predictions

Democrats - 1) Obama 2) Edwards 3) Clinton

Republicans - 1) Huckabee 2) Romney 3) McCain

More predictions here and here.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Spinning Iowa - Hot Air: "Hillary must have seen some internal polls that don’t look so good, or perhaps she heard of some back room deal for shifts in support between other candidates as second choices. Whatever she knows, she’s preparing the world for her to finish 3rd in Iowa. It’s Embarrassment Prevention 101."

Or it could be a head-fake before she wins and calls herself the "Comeback Kid." I'm going to hold off on predictions until tomorrow since results won't be known until late in the evening, but the nature of the Iowa caucuses puts a premium on enthusiasm (i.e. you have brave the winter cold to vote). I can understand Obama or even the class-warrior Edwards, but are people really excited about Hillary? We'll see.
It's the most wonderful time of the year - Scott at Election Projection is back in business with all the information you'll need for the next eleven months, starting with the primary calendar. Iowa is tomorrow and New Hampshire is January 8th. Be sure to bookmark.
Why not McCain?

He's not a favorite of conservatives and (at this point) he's still a longshot to win the nomination. Still, John McCain may represent the GOP's best hope in 2008:

One impact of the long run-up to Election 2008 can be seen in public perceptions of the leading Presidential candidates. After a year of campaigning with no votes actually being cast, only one candidate in either party is now viewed favorably by more than half the nation’s voters. Stunningly, especially given the status of his campaign six months ago, that candidate is John McCain. This is one reason why a recent article noted it is a good time to be John McCain.
McCain's been hurt by the immigration issue, which is a critical concern to certain bloggers, and I think the McCain-Feingold campaign law is a blatant violation of First Amendment rights. Still, the "maverick" has served his country honorably and maybe the pros outweigh the cons. In any case, the other GOP candidates don't fill me with enthusiasm.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Let's start the year out with a laugh

From the Boston Globe: "Alleged bank robber didn't notice police"

A man passed a note to a bank teller yesterday in a Dorchester bank, demanding large bills and no "funny money," police said.

Little did he know, Officer Kamau Pritchard was standing right behind him, in uniform, about to pull out his service weapon and place the man under arrest.

"He doesn't realize I'm behind him," said Pritchard, 30, who has worked two years for the Boston Police Department. "He's focused on actually getting the money."
Also, his note indicated that he had a "gub."
Five years ago - Wow, has it been that long? This blog is now five and I'm still using my original Blogger template. Incidentally, Dave Wissing started the Hedgehog Report at almost the exact same time so go over and wish him a happy 5th blogoversary also.
Slow warming makes for boring TV - Here's John Tierney in the NYT (!) with "In 2008, a 100 Percent Chance of Alarm": "Today’s interpreters of the weather are what social scientists call availability entrepreneurs: the activists, journalists and publicity-savvy scientists who selectively monitor the globe looking for newsworthy evidence of a new form of sinfulness, burning fossil fuels."