Friday, February 29, 2008

We'd rather spite capitalism - Via PBS and the Nightly Business Report, here's Allan Sloan on Social Security: "Instead of building a Social Security sovereign wealth fund, we're running an impoverishment fund and our children and grandchildren will get to pay for it."
Motorcyclist's civil rights violated - Via Stop the ACLU, how they deal with a hostage taker in Spain.
Poll positions - President Bush: now with twice the approval rating of the New York Times.

Extra - From Jawa Report: "NYT shareholders revolt"
Somebody keeps calling at 3 a.m.

Hillary came out with an ad asking "who do you want answering the phone at the White House at 3 a.m." and, a couple hours later, the Obama campaign responded with this. That's some rapid counterpunching.

By now the Clinton people should have recognized the pattern of this campaign:

Hillary: "Blah blah blah experience blah blah blah "ready to lead from Day One" blah blah blah sat on the Armed Services Committee blah blah blah I know which corridors lead to the West Wing."

Obama: "She voted for the Iraq war."


Thursday, February 28, 2008

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

I'm tired - The debates are over. It's going to be McCain vs. Obama. Can I take a nap?
Light sabers, standing proud - Gizmodo: "1301 florescent bulbs lit solely by magnetic fields" Cool picture. (HT: Fark)
A giant of the conservative movement - From National Review: "William F. Buckley, Jr., R.I.P."

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Heading for a showdown

This is quite likely the last debate between Clinton and Obama. Which Hillary will show up tonight? The one who was "honored" to share the stage with Obama or the street fighter, swinging away? Frankly, Hillary is boxed in. If she picks a fight, it's going to remind voters of the same ole triangulation politics that Americans are trying to break away from with Obama's message of inclusion. (Watch for a "there you go again" moment). But if she doesn't draw a sharp distinction with the Senator from Illinois, we're back to choosing a candidate on "likeability."

Extra - From the Caucus: "Fight night"

More - Will we be seeing a March 5th press conference? Fox News: "March 4th will determine if Hillary will go forward or not." If she loses Texas, it's "not."

Update - Obama wins because nothing happened. There a sliver of daylight between Clinton and Obama's health care plan but they spent 16 minutes debating the small differences mostly because Hillary wouldn't let it pass. There's not one American in a hundred who could explain how the plans are different. By 9:17 EST, TV sets across the country were turning to ESPN. The only thing remotely newsworthy was Hillary's peevish complaint about "always taking the first question." Not a Presidential moment.
Medicare tsunami

Fox News "Health care spending projected to double by 2017":

In his budget for next year, President Bush recommended slowing the yearly growth of Medicare from about 7 percent to about 5 percent. The slowdown would occur primarily by freezing reimbursement rates for the next three years to scores of health care providers, such as hospitals, nursing homes and home health centers. Bush also proposed requiring wealthier Medicare beneficiaries to pay higher monthly premiums when participating in Medicare's prescription drug coverage plan.

Those recommendations would reduce spending by nearly $178 billion over five years, but have little chance of passage in Congress. Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt has acknowledged the unpopularity of the recommendations, but he said politicians must make some hard decisions. The longer lawmakers wait, the more difficult the decisions will be.
Bush made the entitlement problem much worse by piling on the Prescription Drug Benefit and now we've reached the tipping point where Congress will never vote down a benefit for the baby boomers because they're just too numerous. Plus, with all their free shuffleboard time, they have nothing else to do but complain and vote.
Spending like Democrats - From Real Clear Politics blog, the Clinton campaign spent $10 large on Internet access while in Las Vegas. This and more high living while fighting for "the people."

Monday, February 25, 2008

Apple patent lawyers put other tech platforms in a pinch

So it's come to this: Apple may try to patent the movements on their Apple IPhone which would put other technology platforms in a tight squeeze:

Is pinching proprietary? We may find out in the coming months as many companies, inspired by the success of Apple's iPhone, release their own multitouch-enabled laptops, smartphones and tablets. In doing so, these companies -- including RIM, Nokia and Synaptics -- may run afoul of multitouch patent applications recently filed by Apple.

"If Apple's patents are granted, the company could absolutely stop others from using similar technology," says Raj Abhyanker, a patent lawyer who used to write patent applications for Apple. "They'd also be in an especially good position to stop others from including certain features. Apple could stop [their use] not only on mobile devices but also desktops."
This gives a whole new meaning to "inappropriate touching."
If you thought the Democratic nomination was a nailbiter - Wait for the general election: John McCain has a hairsbreadth lead over either Obama or Clinton in a head-to-head matchup according to Rasmussen.

Extra - The RCP McCain-Obama match-up.
And there goes Texas - CNN: "In the CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey released Monday, 50 percent of likely Democratic primary voters said Obama is their choice for the party's nominee, while 46 percent backed Clinton."

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Hillary's final days - I suspect that this week a series of new polls will come out and at least a few will show Barack Obama ahead in both Ohio and Texas. The superdelegates will bolt to Obama and Howard Dean will make an awkward phone call to the Clintons. Andrew Sullivan explains how Hillary's two-decade march to the White House was derailed: "It seems obvious to me that the Clintons blew this because they never for a second imagined they could. So they never planned to fight it. Once put in a fair contest, they turned out to be terrible campaigners, terrible politicians, bad managers, useless executives, wooden public speakers. If you're a Democrat, that's good to know, isn't it? All that bull**** about Day One and experience? In retrospect: laughable."

As far as I can figure it, the only pathway for Clinton is to squeak out wins in Texas and Ohio, spin it as "momentum" and then try - somehow - to seat the delegates from Michigan and Florida. That's not going to happen.
Liquids and debris everywhere - Ugh, today's Auto Club 500 was delayed by three hours due to rain, then Michael Waltrip spilled a couple gallons of oil on the track, then the rain put the race under red flag again. Also, everybody's overheating their engines because the California Raceway is so laden with trash, it's blocking everybody's air intakes. Looks like they'll restart this race tomorrow.
Different drum - This article in the Boston Globe is written by an advisor to Mike Gravel, but it also makes some sense: "Why Democrats should love the FairTax."
Academy Awards - Jessica Alba is explaining how she handed out the scientific and technical awards at a dinner a couple weeks before tonight's ceremony. I'm sure all those nerds appreciated the choice of host.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Veepstakes! - Looking over the Sunday morning talkshow lineup tomorrow, it's a virtual who's who of potential sidekicks. Fox News Sunday, for example, has the Republican governors of Minnesota and South Carolina along with the Democratic govs of Virginia and New Jersey.
There goes $1 billion - Fox News: "B-2 stealth bomber crashes in Guam; pilots eject safely." I find it utterly amazing that an aircraft as huge as the B-2 has only two pilots. It must be, by far, the largest cost-to-staff ratio in the U.S. military.
Not that exact word

The Clinton campaign is fighting back against Obama's camp for suggesting that Hillary said that NAFTA was a "boon" to the U.S. economy. It appears Obama's campaign is using a paraphrased quote from Newsday, which clarified the issue thusly:

Because it's raised questions -- with Clinton criticizing Obama for making "false claims" in the mail piece -- we've looked into the chart. In it, we did not have the Clinton campaign using the word "boon" in describing NAFTA. The word was our characterization of how we best understood her position on NAFTA, based on a review of past stories and her public statements.
So, unless Newsday completely mischaracterized Hillary's remarks, they had the general vibe that she was in support of the trade pact put into law by her husband. But now she's trying to hold on to Ohio, where NAFTA is anathema. (Hey, that's good!)

Greg Brady also regrets that exact words were not used.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Right ho, doctor! Here come the Brits

From the UK Telegraph "Biggest brain drain from UK in 50 years":

Britain is experiencing the worst "brain drain" of any country as highly qualified professionals settle abroad, an authoritative international study showed yesterday.

Record numbers of Britons are leaving - many of them doctors, teachers and engineers - in the biggest exodus for almost 50 years.
I love that Hugh Laurie on "House." Anyway, big surprise, high taxes are cited as a possible cause for the largest brain drain since WWII.
More good analysis - Q&O debunks Paul Krugman on poverty in America. Like that's hard.
Deep in the polls of Texas - An excellent analysis from Burnt Orange Report shows that, based on current projections, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton would tie in the Texas primary but Obama would pull ahead in the caucuses.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

There goes another good blog - The Business Pundit is packing it in but, in his final post, he's leaving behind the top 10 changes in his business thinking.
Hillary works hard - She has to...she owes a lot of money: "Hillary Rodham Clinton ended January with $7.6 million in debt - not including the $5 million personal loan she gave to her campaign in the run-up to the critical Super Tuesday elections, according to financial reports released Wednesday."
The inconceivable Zimbabwe - What does it mean when a country's inflation rate tops 100,000%? Does it mean that by the time you retrieve a Pepsi in the back of the store and bring it to the counter, the price has doubled? How about this fun fact: "In Africa's fastest shrinking economy, per capita gross domestic product in Zimbabwe fell from about $200 in 1996 to about $9 a head last year." Sheer craziness.
Are you experienced?

Maybe it's better if you weren't. From George Will:

Nothing, however, will assuage Clinton supporters' sense of injustice if the upstart Obama supplants her. Their, and her, sense of entitlement is encapsulated in her constant invocations of her "35 years" of "experience." Well.

She is 60. She left Yale Law School at age 25. Evidently she considers everything she has done since school, from her years at Little Rock's Rose law firm to her good fortune with cattle futures, as presidentially relevant experience.

The president who came to office with the most glittering array of experiences had served 10 years in the House of Representatives, then became minister to Russia, then served 10 years in the Senate, then four years as secretary of state (during a war that enlarged the nation by 33 percent), then was minister to Britain. Then, in 1856, James Buchanan was elected president and in just one term secured a strong claim to the rank as America's worst president. Abraham Lincoln, the inexperienced former one-term congressman, had an easy act to follow.
Adam Nagourney at the objective New York Times notes that the experience angle isn't playing in Peoria:

Lines that Mrs. Clinton’s advisers thought would be effective after testing them with focus groups, like reminding voters that just a few years ago Mr. Obama was a mere Illinois state senator, fell flat. The argument that Mrs. Clinton would bring far more experience to the White House, a selling point her aides once thought would decide this campaign, has taken her only so far.
How far? This far.

Clinton has not only lost her lead in the race for the party's nomination - Obama has tied her at 44 percent - but she also has the largest number of people saying they would "never" vote for her, the lowest favorable ratings, and the most saying they would feel "scared" if she won the Oval Office.
Mark Penn, you diabolical genius!

Extra - Whip that horse! Swamp Politics: "Clinton, in Texas, belittle's Obama's experience"

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over, hoping for a different result

It looks like Hillary is doubling-down on "experience":

Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton attacked rival Barack Obama as all talk and little substance on Wednesday, trying to slow the momentum that has given him 10 straight victories in the race for the party's presidential nomination.
"We don't need on-the-job training for the next president of the United States," Clinton said.
Hillary has been whipping this dead horse for six months now: she has experience and Obama does not. Let me clarify something for the Clinton campaign:

Nobody cares.

I don't know if it's because "change" is more powerful than "experience." I'm not sure if it's because Democrats aren't convinced that Obama doesn't have experience. Maybe it's because they don't think that Hillary has any experience or, if she does, it's not the kind of experience she wants to brag about.

Here's my theory: it was all fine-and-good for Hillary to blur the lines on her own policies when she was the "inevitable" candidate. After all, why stick your neck out during the pro forma primaries when you'll have to dive for the center during the general election? This opened the door for Obama who, essentially, has the same governing philosophy than Hillary but is so much more likable.

It's the political equivalent of Buridan's ass: with no defining issue to differentiate the candidates, Americans gravitated towards the one you'd like to have a beer with and watch a little football.

So now Hillary wants to talk about solutions and extol her years of experience as a Wal-Mart lawyer and silent partner in the Clinton White House.

As Carole King sang: it's too late baby, it's too late.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The difference - According to MSNBC, women in Wisconsin broke slightly for Clinton (51%-48%) but men voted overwhelmingly for Obama (66%-32%).
Ten in a row - It's Obama, with a healthy double-digit lead at 5% of the vote counted. Right now it's about 55-43% over Hillary who is now giving a speech in Ohio.

Interesting YouTube moment to come: according to the Fox News reporter for the Clinton campaign, the intro speaker for Hillary's speech was saying some not-nice things about Obama. It sounds like the crowd started to turn against him. Hmm.

Update - Sorry, this makes it nine states in a row, although I'm assuming that Hawaii will back her native son once the votes are counted late tonight.
The less-exciting GOP race - McCain wins Wisconsin. That is all.
Reading the tea leaves - Via Michelle Malkin:

Fox exit polls...on late-deciders among Dems, Obama leads Hillary 53-47.
54 percent of WI Dems believe Hill is attacking Obama unfairly.
34 believe Obama is attacking Hill unfairly.
Fifteen minutes to go.
Roll Wisconsin!

Wisconsin blogs I know:

American Mind
Boots and Sabers

Ann Althouse has pictures of frigid Obama supporters at UW-Madison, while TAM looks at the Republican race.
Remember New Hampshire

That's the only warning I can offer in advance of this news trickling out of Politico: "Wisconsin exits - Big night for Obama?"

Or this from Captain Ed: "The other numbers favor Hillary."

Or there's this: "I'm hearing that after two waves of data, Wisconsin looks like a blowout in favor of Obama, in the neighborhood of 60 percent to 40 percent."

More - Is the Obama camp lowering expectations or twisting the knife? Michael Crowley: "You don't send something like that out a few hours before an expected defeat--or even a close call, I should think." Curiouser and curiouser.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Leading us into the 21st century, stamping out plagiarists everywhere

I haven't pored through all the hoo-ha on Barack Obama's "plagiarism-gate" but I have to ask the Clinton campaign: is that all there is? Methinks somebody is clutching at straws.

Hey, look what I found:

"Are you a politician asking what your country can do for you or a zealous one asking what you can do for your country? If you are the first, then you are a parasite; if the second, then you are an oasis in the desert."
That's poet Khalil Gibran way before Bill Clinton's hero ever entered Har-vahd.

Extra - The Plank: "I look forward to the Clintons' next desperate gambit." Also, from the Stump, here's the lowdown on Hillary's lifted lines. Glass houses, baby.

More - From Captain Ed. Meanwhile, John Cole has an open thread headed: "Take your time to figure out what the Clinton camp attack will be tomorrow." Maybe Obama forgot to rewind some videocassettes before he brought them back to Blockbuster.
Nothing bad ever starts in the Yugoslavia region - Boston Globe "Frenzy greets the new Kosovo": "In a move that inflamed tensions in this volatile region, the ethnic Albanian government of Kosovo yesterday proclaimed the province independent from Serbia, forming a new and very troubled country in Europe."

Extra - From Slate: "Kosovo is a textbook example of the law of unintended consequences"
The wilderness west of Worcester - Governor Patrick discovers Western Massachusetts: "Patrick opens branch office in Springfield" At let me cynically opine: the only reason he cares about the region at all is because he wants to put his precious casino here.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

No blogging today - Daytona 500 this afternoon: let the NASCAR season begin!

I have Dale Jr., Jimmie, Denny, and Ryan Newman in my fantasy league. Wish me luck.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Pulling ahead - According to Gallup, Obama has just charted his first statistically significant lead: 49% to Clinton's 42%.
While Congress investigates steroids in baseball

Heritage "A health care crisis and an entitlement crisis":

USA Today's Dennis Cauchon wrote an insightful front-page story today showing that the cost of government benefits for seniors reached $27,289 per senior in 2007. Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits continue to grow much faster than inflation, and as 77 million baby boomers reach retirement in the coming decades, the taxpayer costs of these programs will be enormous. The article highlights the fact that these programs are unsustainable in their current form and that we are on the leading edge of a large intergenerational transfer of wealth from younger workers to retirees.
It's depressing that this issue is ignored year after year. If we took an incremental approach to reform, there would be less pain in the long run. Instead Washington seems resigned to a full-blown train wreck when entitlement costs consume almost the entire federal budget.

Can you see the problem here?

It's not like looking for Waldo.

Extra - FISA, schmisa, what's the next super-important thing for Congress to investigate?
The momentum continues - Boston Globe "Service employees union officially endorses Obama": "Senator Barack Obama won the support yesterday of the 1.9 million member Service Employees International Union, providing an army of volunteers for key upcoming primaries against Senator Hillary Clinton ."

Friday, February 15, 2008

Best damn quote of the day - From Slate's glorious putdown of "Jumper": "At moments, the movie seems to be aspiring to camp, as when Samuel L. Jackson's character, preparing for an extraserious jump, spritzes a room with some mysterious substance in an aerosol can (E-Z Jump? Rules-of-Time-and-Space-B-Gone?). Only Sam Jackson could spray in a way that makes you think, man, that's some badassed spraying." No word on foot massages, though.
Waiting for the video - CBS News on Hillary's visit to a Lockheed Martin plant in Ohio: "The silence was deafening." The commenters insist this wasn't the case but this reporter is pretty explicit: "Having been to more Clinton events than I care to remember, this was by far the shortest speech and most silent reception I can recall."

Update (2/16) - Some confirmation: "The crowd of about 300 Lockheed employees and invited guests didn't break into applause and cheers as often happens at such campaign stops."
There's only room for one star in the Lone Star state - By all accounts, not only does Hillary need to win Texas but she needs to win by a significant margin. If the latest polls are any indication, her support there is slipping or gone. More from The Stump.
On art and art thieves

In the wake of a heist in Zurich last Sunday, there's a great article in the Wall Street Journal today about the motivations of art thieves:

So why don't thieves stick to jewelry heists or bank robberies? The most popular explanation is that they are commissioned by shadowy underworld figures to obtain art for their private delectation. In the movie "Dr. No," James Bond, an unwilling guest in the eponymous doctor's lair, does a double take as he passes a painting on his way into dinner with his host. Audiences don't laugh now, but they did when the film was first released: The painting in question, Goya's portrait of the Duke of Wellington, had been stolen from London's National Gallery the year before the movie was made. (It was recovered in 1965.)
That's good trivia! In actuality, the "Dr. Evil with a Van Gogh" is a popular myth.

I'm sure I blogged about this before, but a contemporary of Norman Rockwell was so afraid his wife would take away a gifted Rockwell original in a divorce settlement, he made a copy and hid the original in his house. It was only discovered last year, leading to this strangest of all press releases from the Norman Rockwell Museum: "Through an improbable convergence of circumstances, an iconic Norman Rockwell painting, not known to have been missing, has been found."
What are they hiding?

Hillary Clinton and John McCain won't release their income tax returns. In "Show us the money" the NY Times (!) notes that for Hillary this is particular problem because she loaned her own campaign $5 million:

The need for greater transparency regarding the income and overall financial dealings of candidates and their spouses was underscored by Mrs. Clinton's recent decision to make a $5 million loan to her campaign. Such borrowing is a permitted practice under the campaign laws. But the campaign said the money came from her share of the Clintons' joint resources, and that calls attention to the lack of information about their family finances. As a former president, Bill Clinton has been making millions annually giving speeches and traveling the globe. What is publicly known about his business dealings is sketchy, and clearer disclosure of them is required to reassure voters that Mrs. Clinton's candidacy is unencumbered by hidden entanglements.
As something of an investigative body, isn't the Times at least a little embarrassed to describe Bill Clinton's quid pro quo business dealings as "sketchy?" In fact, they have been well-documented by Newsweek and - whoops - the New York Times. Hillary claims that her money comes from sales of her autobiography and that's fine; so why all the secrecy?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

I'm officially old

The #1 song in the UK on February 14th, 1968? "Mighty Quinn" by Manfred Mann

In the United States, it was the lame "Love is Blue" by Paul Mauriat. Ugh.

Anyway, this is all a setup to note that 1) today's my birthday and 2) I'm 40. Which means I'm middle-age unless I use my father as a yardstick and then I'm two-thirds age. Unfortunately, Thursdays are a terrible day for introspection because I have work, then school, then "Lost." So I'll take my leave with this one piece of trivia from my four decades on this earth: the best dinner I ever had was a steak au poivre verte at Maison des Tanneurs in Strasbourg, France. C'est magnifique!

Does that sound snobbish? Well, I love NASCAR too, so it probably cancels out. Can you believe how well the Toyotas tested at Daytona? They might win the Great American Race.

I'm a complex fellow. Good night.
Not a firewall but the Alamo? - Interesting analysis via First Read: "Check out how Obama could benefit in how delegates are allocated in Texas. From the New York Times Nagourney: "Clinton faces another problem there in the form of that state's unusual delegation allocation rules. Delegates are allocated to state senatorial districts based on Democratic voter turn-out in the last election. Bruce Buchanan, a professor of political science at the University of Texas at Austin, noted that in the last election, turnout was low in predominantly Hispanic districts and unusually high in urban African-American districts."
Inevitable, of course

The Obama campaign has quickly taken on the swagger of a frontrunner: "Obama Camp Says Clinton Nomination "Highly Unlikely"

Suddenly, I'm terrified of a Clinton comeback. You'll understand my concern.
Clinton Derangement Syndrome - Over at the liberal American Prospect: "This demonstrates not only a gross ruthlessness on the part of Clinton's campaign, but an astonishingly cavalier attitude towards the preservation of the progressive coalition. To be willing to blithely rip it to shreds in order to wrest a nomination that's not been fairly earned is not only low, but a demonstration of deeply pernicious priorities -- namely, it's an explicit statement that the campaign puts its own political success above the health of the party and the pursuit of progressive goals, and one can't but help assume that's exactly the attitude they would take towards governance, too."

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Let the draining of the Treasury commence!

Fox News: "Social Security payment hits first Baby Boomer's bank account"

And here's a reminder from Robert Samuelson: "Sen. John McCain, the Republican front-runner, and Democratic Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are alike in not addressing the central budget issue: baby boomers' retirement costs. Already, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are 44 percent of federal spending. In 2007, these programs cost $1.2 trillion, more than double all defense spending."

So entitlement spending is already nearly half the federal budget. Now wrap your head around this: "Over the next two decades, nearly 80 million baby boomers - about 10,000 per day - will become eligible for Social Security."
Don't try to make sense of Hugo - Megan McArdle explains why Hugo Chavez's decision to cut off oil sales to Exxon is "all kinds of stupid."
A threat to the world has been eradicated - No, not (just) this guy. Dormant, biding her time, who knows what destruction might have been visited on the world if the Loch Ness Monster emerged from the murky depths of that Scottish lake. Well thank heave we killed her with ManBearPig.
High stakes on the Corner - A $5 bet for the Democratic nomination.
The upHill climb

First Read crunches the numbers and finds that Hillary probably needs 60% of the votes in Texas and Ohio to overcome Obama's expected lead:

For Clinton to overtake Obama for the pledged delegate lead -- which we think is the single most important statistic for the superdelegates to decide their vote -- she'll have to win 55% of the remaining delegates. Assuming next week goes Obama's way in Wisconsin and Hawaii, that percentage rises to 57%. Toss in likely Obama victories in Vermont, Wyoming, Mississippi, Oregon, Montana, and South Dakota, then Clinton's percentage need tops 60% of the remaining delegates available.
When Hillary was the "inevitable" candidate, it was easy to strongarm superdelegates. Suddenly, Clinton is finding it hard to find friends.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Time for bed - A great night for McCain and Obama. McCain's finally tally in Virginia ended up a bit wider than early returns suggested and he won comfortably in Maryland. According to reports, Huckabee is now mathematically out. Obama not only won in the Potomac states, he made significant inroads into all the demographics that have been Clinton's strength (women, Hispanics, older voters). Obama's going to be the top story tomorrow and he'll continue his winning streak next week in Hawaii and Wisconsin. Good night!
Hillary's a sore loser

A couple of days ago, Peggy Noonan wondered if Hillary Clinton can lose with grace. Not looking good. From CNN's Political Ticker: "Clinton: still no congratulations for Obama"

The courtesy of conceding a primary or caucus loss - and then congratulating your opponent - is by no means required. But it has become standard practice during campaign season.

Clinton congratulated Obama and John Edwards after their first and second place finishes in the Iowa caucuses. Obama returned the favor in New Hampshire, saying Clinton "did an outstanding job." That courtesy continued through the early states.

But as the race has shifted to a delegate chase with dozens of states in play around the country, the notion of congratulating one's opponent seems, for Clinton, to have fallen by the wayside.
Instant karma's gonna get ya.
I think I'm an Obama-can

Just kidding, I'll surely vote for McCain in November and (maybe!) tip the balance here in Massachusetts. But Obama's speaking in Madison, Wisconsin right now and - gosh darn it - the guy is so disarming and charismatic, it's hard not to like him. I actually laughed out loud at this line (roughly transcribed):

"We're bringing people together, like that guy." [Pointing to a Republican off camera]. They come up to me and say [sotto voce] 'I'm a Republican but I'm voting for you.' And I reply to them [sotto voce again] 'thank you very much.'"
Obama's speech is soaring and elevating while Hillary simply rattles off a laundry list of great stuff we'll all get if we'd just vote for her. If 2008, by all accounts, is the year the Democrats recapture the White House, I'd rather have the guy from Hawaii.

Update (2/13) - Dick Morris: "Obama became the attraction in the race while Hillary recited her laundry list of proposals with a deadening monotony."
Quick call in Maryland - With 0% of the votes counted, everybody calls Maryland for John McCain and Barack Obama.
The "ready from Day One" line - Soon to be dropped from Hillary's stump speech: "But tonight Virginia Democrats said Obama was "most qualified to be Commander in Chief" by a 55-44 margin."
Another one bites the dust - From the excellent Real Clear Politics Potomac Primary thread: "More bad news for the Clinton campaign on a night filled with it: Deputy campaign manager Mike Henry resigned on Monday, though he was still in the office today, The Fix reports. Henry, author of a controversial memo that argued the campaign should skip Iowa, was brought on by former campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle, who was fired over the weekend."
In Virginia, a squeaker for McCain and a crusher for Obama - Huckabee gave the old boy a scare in the Old Dominion. Meanwhile, Obama continues to outpace the polls for his sixth win in a row and a 25% margin (at this time).

Monday, February 11, 2008

Heading into tomorrow's Potomac primary - Politico: "Clinton badly needs Virginia victory." Yeah, that's not gonna happen. See you tomorrow night.
There's something to it - Agitator: "Did Bill sink Hill on purpose?" (HT: Instapundit)
The dismal columnist - From TNR's The Plank "What is wrong with Paul Krugman?": "I'm not sure why so many people were worried about hiring a professional operative like Bill Kristol as a Times columnist when it's Krugman who is so clearly in the tank." There's no sport in debunking the guy anymore but his embarrassing melange of poorly wrapped rhetoric is begging for a "delete" key.
Rock'em sock'em NASCAR

I swear this stuff is scripted to build drama before the season starts:

NASCAR officials summoned Stewart and Busch for a follow-up meeting Saturday morning, just hours after the two drivers tangled on the track - and possibly in the NASCAR officials' trailer afterward. The entire garage was buzzing over Busch allegedly insulting Stewart and Stewart retaliating with a punch - claims no one would confirm or deny.
What happens in the NASCAR trailer stays in the NASCAR trailer. Play nice, fellas.
Another fine mess Deval Patrick has gotten us into

Desperate for revenues to prop up the Commonwealth, Governor Patrick has opened a Pandora's Box by inviting casinos into Massachusetts. Already the plan is poised to cost me, the taxpayer, more money than it generates:

Efforts by the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe to place its planned casino site in Middleborough in a federal trust are more likely to end in a drawn-out fight than a healthy payoff for either the tribe or the residents of Massachusetts. The Patrick administration is right to resist the Wampanoags' efforts and to encourage the tribe instead to bid for a state-issued casino license.

The tribe, which won federal recognition last year, is now seeking to establish official sovereignty over more than 500 acres, which would place it largely outside the state's jurisdiction. The Patrick administration has sent an 125-page objection to the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs, arguing that the tribe has failed to provide adequate safeguards in such areas as zoning, public safety, labor, consumer protection, and the environment. These are substantive issues, but the real message is that the administration is serious about following its own casino plan.
Yes, it's important that the Bay State gets the cash from all the senior citizens bussed in to spend their Social Security checks. Since we're at it, can we really refuse whorehouses provided they have "adequate safeguards" and are friendly to the environment? I need a shower.

Sunday, February 10, 2008


WashPost: "Women could give Clinton the edge in Maine's caucuses"

MSNBC: "Obama easily wins Maine caucuses"

ABC News: "Clinton campaign manager calls it quits"
Stop thief!

The New Republic comes right out and declares that the Clintons are trying to steal the Democratic nomination:

These days, you will commonly hear Obama supporters, and even many undecided Democrats, describe the Clintons as mendacious, brutal, willing to bend (or break) any rule in pursuit of power. Not all of these criticisms are fair. A decade's worth of resentment has come rushing out, as Democrats have suddenly felt free to despise the Clintons without worrying that their venting might aid Republicans. In certain quarters, it's an old-fashioned pile-on. Looking at their plight with any detachment, it is even possible to develop a measure of sympathy for the Clintons. Or it was, anyway, right up until the point at which Hillary threatened to steal the nomination. And theft is the only way to describe the plan she has floated for certifying the Florida and Michigan delegations.


But neutral observers can't stand idly by as one campaign openly discusses stealing the nomination at the convention. Democrats need to recognize this potential gambit for what it is: a cynical, selfish hijacking of the democratic process. Clinton would not be laying the groundwork for this ploy unless it was potentially decisive. And the damage to Democrats (and democrats) would be profound. If Clinton is truly willing to trample so many institutions she professes to care about in pursuit of victory, she will have proven her enemies correct.
Rolling Stone, the New York Times, and now the New Republic turning on Billary? What Bizarro World have we entered?
Head cold, day 2 - Hilarious directions on the back of the cold medicine packet: "Use scissors if necessary." Yes, they're necessary because no human can open these things.
Not a Hallmark moment - The NY Times' Frank Rich excoriates Hillary as a "synthetic product leeched of most human qualities." And get ready for this: "What's more, it offered a naked preview of how nastily the Clintons will fight, whatever the collateral damage to the Democratic Party, in the endgame to come." Oh boy, oh boy. Much more on the Rich column at Newsbusters.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

The Virgin Islands, too - Obama sweeps all the Saturday contests, with 2-1 crushers in Nebraska and Washington. Mike Huckabee is also going to have a good night starting with a big win in Kansas.
It was always about politics

It's unbelievable that this Rolling Stone article got by Jann Wenner. Titled "The Chicken Doves" Matt Taibbi finally admits what many of us have long known: the Democrats had no intention of ending the war in Iraq and played their supporters for suckers.

In and around the halls of Congress, the notion that the Democrats made a sincere effort to end the war meets with, at best, derisive laughter. Though few congressional aides would think of saying so on the record, in private many dismiss their party's lame anti-war effort as an absurd dog-and-pony show, a calculated attempt to score political points without ever being serious about bringing the troops home.
Scott at Flopping Aces has more background all the way back to the Democrats sweep in the 2006 elections. Color me unshocked.

What would Ataturk do? - From CNN "Turkey moves to lift headscarf ban": "Tens of thousands of protesters on Saturday gathered in the Turkish capital, Ankara, to oppose the move, which they say threatens the existence of Turkey as a secular state that wants to join the European Union." Well, it starts with the headscarves and pretty soon you're getting a beatdown because you had a coffee in a Starbucks with a guy.

Fight club

By the time this weekend is over, it seems likely that Barack Obama will have a clear lead in state delegates although Hillary Clinton may still hold an edge because of committed "superdelegates." Democratic Party stalwart Donna Brazile is not pleased:

"If 795 of my colleagues decide this election, I will quit the Democratic Party. I feel very strongly about this," Brazile said.
Then there's the brewing battle over delegates from Michigan and Florida, both of which went for Clinton. But the DNC ruled these delegates invalid because those states moved up their primaries.

The second fight is likely to be over seating delegates from Michigan and Florida. The Democratic Party has already voted not to seat their delegates because they held early primaries.

Clinton won both contests, and she wants those delegates seated.

On the Senate floor on Friday, Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida -- a Clinton supporter -- predicted a "potential train wreck" when deciding what to do about the disputed delegates from Florida and Michigan.
Yesterday I got on the Boston Globe web site and there was one of those sidebar polls that asked "Is Hillary finished?" Wow, are we really asking that question already? But with momentum building for the crowd-pleaser Obama, it's looking more likely that Clinton can only win this nomination with the help of party cronies and the circumvention of the DNC's own rules.

How very Clintonesque.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Hitting the wrong chord - From Cracked: "The seven most unforgivable Grammy Award snubs" (HT: Damian) Missing from the list: the 1965 Grammy for best pop performance was stolen from the Beatles and awarded to the Anita Kerr Singers. Oof.
The week ahead - Over at Slate, the Trail Head takes a look at the primaries and caucuses over the next couple days and declares that Hillary might win...the Virgin Islands. Might. Meanwhile, Barack Obama will almost certainly pick up the big prizes of Louisiana, Virginia and Washington state.
The opus of Pam Beesly

If I wasn't so sick, I would totally go see this exhibit:

The current exhibition at the New Art Center is "Office Space," a show that features art made of everyday office supplies such as rubber bands and paper clips. You'll see business apparel made from envelopes, mushrooms made of cardboard, and intricate portraits made from burned Xerox copies. Curators will be at the Newton art space on Sunday to talk about the collection.

Red staplers everywhere.
That's why

The New Republic asks: "Why does everyone assume Virginia is Obama country?"

WashPost Politics blog: "Sen. Barack Obama has a 15-point lead over Sen. Hillary Clinton in Tuesday's Democratic primary in Virginia, according to a new poll published by the Southern Political Report." More from Real Clear Politics.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

The scourge of superdelegates - Will Franklin graphs out how the political parties split up their delegates. Republican superdelegates comprise 6% of all delegates but Democratic superdelegates add up to 20% of all delegates, a sum equal to all the delegates in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Nevada, California, and Illinois, combined.

If Clinton and Obama head into the Democratic National Convention and Obama has a lead in "regular" voting delegates (as he does now), there's going to be some bitter internecine warfare if party officials cut a back-door deal with the Clintons.
The Gambinos are kneecapped - Newsday: "Authorities carried out one of the largest Mafia takedowns in recent memory, scooping up dozens of reputed Gambino members and charging them with gangland crimes spanning three decades - including the brutal slaying of a court officer and extortion at a failed NASCAR track."
Hating America is so trendy

Who woke up James Lileks? Today he's tackling the comfortable intolerants:

Someone somewhere is a practicing Baptist and someone somewhere else is eating a hamburger larger than you’d prefer, and other people are watching cars go around a track at high speed. As your skinny unhappy friend said the other night: people are just too fat and happy. He bites his nails and plays WoW six hours a night, but he has a point. It doesn't matter that these fascists-in-fetal-form never quite seem to accomplish anything; it's not like they drove the gay Teletubbies off the air or had Tony Kushner drawn and quartered in the public square. But they're preventing something. Something wonderful. And they're driving large cars to Wal-Mart and putting 18-roll packs of Charmin in the back and they have three kids. Earth has withstood a lot in its four billion years, but it cannot withstand them. And even if it does, who wants to live in a world where these people don't care that they're being mocked by small, underfunded theaters in honest, gritty neighborhoods?
Or, as Tom Lehrer says: "I'm sure we all agree that we ought to love one another and I know there are people in the world that do not love their fellow human beings and I hate people like that." Can you feel the love?

P.S. - "People are watching cars go around a track at high speed" - Ten days to the Daytona 500!
Who is smiling? Hu is smiling - Federal government borrows $170 billion from China, urges Americans to buy stuff from China and stimulate American economy. Wait...what?

Fark adds: "Stimulus plan passes. Spend your money frivolously or you hate America." And the terrorists win.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

The money race - Politico "Obama on pace to raise $30 mil in February": "Barack Obama's campaign is on track to raise another $30 million in February, sources close to the Illinois senator say, while Hillary Rodham Clinton's spokesman revealed Wednesday that she had loaned her campaign $5 million." Ah, the Mitt Romney strategy; it's worked well for him. Besides, Hill can always depend on Bill to scare up some cash.
Saving the polar bears, starving the world

George Will has a great article in Newsweek titled "The Biofuels Follies" on the unintentional consequences of America's environmental policies. In short, they're killing the environment:

To avoid drilling for oil in ANWR's moonscape, the planet savers evidently prefer destroying forests, even though they absorb greenhouse gases. Will ethanol prevent more carbon-dioxide emissions than would have been absorbed by the trees cut down to clear land for the production of crops for ethanol? Be that as it may, governments mandating the use of biofuels are one reason for the global rise in food prices, which is driving demand for more arable land. That demand is driving the destruction of forests—and animal habitats. In Indonesia alone, 44 million acres have been razed to make way for production of palm oil.
As Will points out, even if the entire U.S. corn crop were to be converted to ethanol it would reduce gasoline use by a whopping 3.5%. Meanwhile, food prices around the world are already soaring.
Always ignore - Zogby is a fraud.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Final Super Tuesday analysis

I can't stay up for California, so here are the snapshots:

- Unless he wins California (and he won't), Mitt Romney is toast.
- Mike Huckabee was remarkably strong in the states with religious voters. His speech tonight was uplifting, funny, and engaging. It's too bad he didn't have more time and money to make his case. Chuck Norris, save me!
- John McCain grabbed a lot of the big winner-take-all prizes tonight. Brace yourselves, Republicans: it's looking like McCain. (Immigration anger aside, he'll win Arizona too.)

- Clinton won the big, blue states with a lot of Hispanic voters, plus bellwether Missouri.
- Obama may win the most square miles, with a lot of red states. I think he's won every caucus tonight (as opposed to primaries).
- We won't know until tomorrow how the delegates are divvied up, but it looks pretty even. New York and Illinois will cancel each other out and California will be close, so the Democratic race will certainly continue on.

Good night!

Update (2/6) - D'oh! When I went to bed, Missouri seemed to be in Hillary's column. I wake up and it's not. Here's why that state's a big win for Obama from Politico and "Five reasons Hillary should be worried":

His win in bellwether Missouri was impressive by nearly every measure, marked by victories among men and women, secular and churchgoing voters, and urban and suburban voters.
And the Show Me State has an uncanny ability to pick Presidents:

For a century, voters in Missouri have proven to be a nearly perfect gauge of the nation’s thinking on presidential candidates, swaying from Democrats to Republicans and back again, but always (besides a certain election in 1956) voting in general elections for the candidate who ultimately wins the nation.
In a hundred years, Missouri has missed only that one time and this time around they picked Obama and McCain.
Romney is weak - An hour-and-a-half after the Bay State polls closed, they just projected former governor Mitt Romney the winner in Massachusetts. No love lost there. Except for Utah, he's running third almost everywhere else probably due to the Huckabee effect.
I want to see a screen door factory! - Delaware goes to Obama. Interesting. Juan Williams notes that there are a lot of blacks in that state. Um, OK.

Update (9:30pm) - Obama called for Alabama. I mean Alabama called for Obama. I'm tired.
Endorsements don't matter - Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick along with senators John Kerry and Ted Kennedy all endorsed Barack Obama. They just called it for Clinton.
Garden State - They just called New Jersey for McCain but they're hinting that Obama is doing surprisingly well there in exit polls. As they're describing it on Fox News, this would upset the narrative the Clintons have prepared that they will win the large blue establishment states.

Update (8:40pm) - With 1% in Clinton has a 20% lead, so those must be some crazy exit polls.

Update (9pm) - Now with 10% in, Clinton leads by 30%. Reporters are just pulling guesses out of their asses, it seems.

Final update (9:10pm) - NJ called for Clinton. Great job, talking heads.
Fat Tuesday - Election Projection has the super-duper all-state predictions for Super Tuesday.

Also, Real Clear Politics has a neat table up.

Politico has up-to-the-minute results also.
For a solid hour, this is the only news - "Obama wins Georgia Democratic primary"

Monday, February 04, 2008

Let the kids pay

John at Power Line on the connection between Social Security and compulsory health care:

There is an analogy between the compulsory aspects of the candidates' health care proposals and Social Security. A young man or woman would be crazy to participate in the Social Security system if he or she had any choice. If anyone saved 12.4% of his earnings over a lifetime, he would not only have far more money in retirement than Social Security can provide, it would, equally important, be his money, to invest and dispose of as he sees fit. But the government needs young people's money to support their grandparents' retirements, so Social Security is forced upon them. The same thing, in essence, will happen with health care if any comprehensive "reform" plan is adopted.
Perfectly stated. (HT: Maggie's Farm)
Same ole - Megan McArdle accuses Paul Krugman of intellectual dishonesty which is a little like calling fire "hot." On the projected cost overruns in Massachusetts' "it's for your own good" health care system:

The main gist of the post linked by Professor Krugman is that the cost to the state of Massachussetts is less than $400 million, because the Federal government will be kicking in part of the cost. This is, of course, brilliantly irrelevant to any argument over national health care, since the Feds don't have another government to contribute to the kitty.
Well, China will "contribute" but they'll probably want their money back later. But maybe not! We can hope.
Wikipedia stands firm - Will not remove pictures of Mohammed from their online encyclopedia. Europe gasps, says "they did what now?"
More on Hillary and Social Security - It's the absolutely last issue she addresses in this column for the Wall Street Journal, with (naturally) no specifics. But here's the crux to remember: all the spending she proposes in the preceding paragraphs will disappear into the entitlements black hole unless Social Security and Medicare are reformed first.

For extra fun, be sure to read some of the posted comments on Hillary's trillion-dollar Santa Claus act. For example: "I was hoping that Mrs. Clinton would take advantage of her opportunity to reach readers of the Wall Street Journal with a little bit of substance. Instead she stayed on message with platitudes and hyperbole. What she would actual do if elected is anyone's guess." Well, I'm pretty sure somebody's going to have to pay for all this neat stuff she's giving us.

Take the challenge! - This poster writes: "Hillary says to go to her website to see "...exactly how I would pay for my plan". I would challenge ANYONE to be able to find that answer at her website."

More - Bulldog Pundit says: "Don't say you weren't warned."
Social Security: the Democrats' all-purpose cudgel

If you thought that America's favorite entitlement program was just something that Democrats used to attack only Republicans, welcome to the Clinton campaign. From the Boston Globe: "Obama, Clinton clash over Social Security, health care, electability"

In the Democratic race, the Obama team - accused last week by the Clinton campaign of distributing a misleading mailer about Clinton's healthcare proposal - shot back at the New York senator's campaign, accosting the Clinton camp for a mailer sent to Massachusetts households that claims Obama would raise taxes by a trillion dollars.

That's nearly one-third of the size of the federal budget, and a charge that Representative William Delahunt of Massachusetts called "absurd."

"My first reaction was, 'Someone's joking,' " Delahunt, who has endorsed Obama, said in a conference call with reporters. "It tells me that there is panic inside the Clinton campaign."

The trillion-dollar figure is based on Obama's proposal to lift the cap, though not entirely, on the amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax. Currently, only earnings up to $97,500 a year are subject to the FICA tax, meaning people earning $30,000 a year pay a higher Social Security tax rate than people earning many millions of dollars a year.

But the Clinton campaign's mailer said Obama "wants to raise Social Security taxes by a trillion dollars." Clinton spokesman Phil Singer said outside analysts have backed up the trillion-dollar figure.
It's de-licious, it's de-lightful, it's de-magogic.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Heartbreaker - Well, the Patriots went 18-1 but, like a dominating NASCAR driver who leads the most laps, the only lap that counts is the last one. The Giants played their game, kept the score low, and hit their marks when it counted. New York Giants over the New England Patriots, 17-14.

Sorry, Mike.
Shocker - Who saw this coming? You know, besides me and anybody who has read anything about the rise of health care costs in a socialized system? From the Boston Globe here's "Subsidized care plan's cost to double - Enrollment is outstripping state's estimate": "The subsidized insurance program at the heart of the state's healthcare initiative is expected to roughly double in size and expense over the next three years - an unexpected level of growth that could cost state taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars or force the state to scale back its ambitions."

More - Jay from Wizbang notes that Massachusetts will be seeking federal funds to pay for the shortfall in its slapdash health care program: "Let me translate that for you in clearer terms: in order for Massachusetts to make certain all its residents have health insurance, they need the other 49 states to pay, too." Just like the Big Dig. Pay up, Oklahoma!

Final thought - I'm no lawyer, but can Americans be forced to purchase health insurance? For example: IIRC Christian Scientists can refuse medical treatment; therefore, how can they be compelled to purchase medical insurance? People who refuse to purchase auto insurance have the option of taking the bus (sometimes). But can the government impose a fiscal burden by legislative fiat in the guise of an unfunded "mandate?" I need some Constitutional guidance here.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

It's a message coming through my radio

Driving home tonight through the streets of Amherst, Massachusetts, I heard the song "Eli's Coming" by Three Dog Night.

Obviously, this was an ethereal reminder to make my Super Bowl prediction tonight in case I'm too distracted to do so tomorrow. So here goes: Patriots 39 - Giants 16. How did I come up with such a score? I have "9" and "6" in the office pool.

Go Pats!

Fun trivia - The greatest quarterback ever was the 199th pick in the 2000 NFL draft.
Sunday morning lineup - Chris Wallace has both frontrunners on Fox News Sunday: Hillary Clinton and John McCain.
Two words: water pistols

Gateway Pundit: "Berkeley Chaos - Protesters Chain Themselves to Marine Office Doors"

There are so many good reasons to spray these protesters with water:

1) hippies smell, and usually need a bath
2) it promotes the gun culture they despise
3) they can't resist because they're chained together
4) even if they could confront you, they're committed to non-violence so nothing would happen
5) supports the Marines.

Hey, it doesn't even have to be water.
Tick-tock Barack

Time's running low for Obama:

Sen. Barack Obama has two opponents: Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and the clock, which is rapidly running down.

With three days to go before Super Tuesday, when roughly half the delegates in the Democratic presidential contest will be awarded, Obama is racing around the country, still trying to introduce himself to voters, speed-dating style.
According to the Real Clear Politics composite polls, Obama is ahead of Hillary in just Georgia and Illinois; Clinton holds double-digit leads in a lot of critical states such as New York and bellwether state Missouri. The polls this year have been particularly volatile, so who knows what might happen? Well, one thing is that clear is that McCain will likely sew up the GOP nomination Tuesday: Romney leads nowhere outside of the People's Republic of Massachusetts.

Extra - The counter-argument "Why the clock may favor Obama": "But, increasingly, I think a drawn-out fight favors Obama. Not only is he raising money at a phenomenal clip ($32 milion in one frickin' month!), but Clinton-fatigue is starting to take its toll. (Such is the nature of "fatigue" that it only gets worse over time.) Conversely, people seem to like Obama more the more they see him."
Stupid groundhog.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Another one for Obama - Just ahead of Super Tuesday, the Los Angeles Times goes for Barack: "We urge voters to make the most of this historic moment by choosing the Democrat most focused on steering the nation toward constructive change: We strongly endorse Barack Obama."
Bill Clinton fights for a legacy

Via Betsy's Page, Charles Krauthammer notes that when you really look at it, Bill Clinton's tenure is a footnote in history between the end of the Cold War and 9/11:

Clinton's decade, that holiday from history, was certainly a time of peace and prosperity -- but a soporific Golden Age that made no great demands on leadership. What, after all, was his greatest crisis? A farcical sexual dalliance.
That's why he has to get himself back into the White House. Oh, and Hillary too. I read in Newsweek that Bill doesn't worry about losing stature because "he can get it back later." So it's anything goes.

Extra - Fox News: "The bad news for the former first lady is she is also seen as the candidate most likely to "do anything - including something unethical - to win," and most likely to embarrass the country." Where in the world did Americans get that opinion?