Saturday, August 25, 2007

In Which I Pat Myself on the Back

It seems to be universally agreed that Fred Thompson has waited too long to get into the Presidential race, and the bloom is off the rose -- a little.

I just want to take this opportunity to point out what I said in March:

I suspect that he would be better off entering the race at a time when the other leading conservatives - Romney and McCain - are stumbling. If he waits 3 or 4 months, they might have righted their respective ships, and he would face a more uphill climb.

OK - so maybe I was right for the wrong reason, but still...

Tom Davis: WH Obeying Congress on September Report

Virginia Senator John Warner, 80, is widely expected not to seek re-election in 2008. Moderate Congressman Tom Davis is widely expected to seek the seat, and given Virginia's shift toward the political center, he would be a strong candidate in the general election.

He's attracting a lot of attention for comments he made the other day at a townhall meeting expressing frustration with the lack of progress in Iraq. Kate O'Beirne notes it here at the Corner, and the Politico addresses it here. The response to this appearance is reminder to Davis that whether Virginia Republicans ultimately select Warner's successor with a convention or a primary, he needs to be careful how his comments are perceived by conservatives. Right now the conventional wisdom is that Davis will have to face off against a conservative to win the nomination -- either former Governor Jim Gilmore, Congressman Eric Cantor, or someone else.

Beyond that though, people are likely to overreact to the title of the Politico piece: "Republican suggests White House will 'tweak' Petraeus report." As I have noted before, Congress required the White House to integrate the views of Crocker and Petraeus with those of several others in preparing the September report. If Davis is right, and the White House 'tweaks' the contribution of Petraeus and Crocker, it would be consistent with the requirement of Congress -- not in violation. It would be no surprise however, if others try to present it that way.

Things the Media Don't Want you to Realize

About the strong sales of the Pontiac Solstice, and the superfluous support Bush received from hispanic voters -- both are over at Kausfiles.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Edwards' Foreign Policy: Hope for the Best

Read it over at the Standard.

Brian Baird: Dissenter, Patriot, Hero

Brian Baird is expressing his views on Iraq:

The invasion of Iraq may be one of the worst foreign-policy mistakes in the history of our nation. As tragic and costly as that mistake has been, a precipitous or premature withdrawal of our forces now has the potential to turn the initial errors into an even greater problem just as success looks possible.

As a Democrat who voted against the war from the outset and who has been frankly critical of the administration and the post-invasion strategy, I am convinced by the evidence that the situation has at long last begun to change substantially for the better. I believe Iraq could have a positive future. Our diplomatic and military leaders in Iraq, their current strategy, and most importantly, our troops and the Iraqi people themselves, deserve our continued support and more time to succeed.
Well we all know that 'dissent is the highest form of patriotism,' right? I know I've heard it about 63 trillion times. So by that standard Brian Baird -- dissenter -- ought to be the greatest hero that liberals know today, right?

As Jon Stewart would say... not so much:

Jane Hamsher:
I suppose every circus needs its freaks, and the well-choreographed “surge is working” sideshow has recruited Brian Baird to be the Democratic House member appointed to be Dick Cheney’s trained monkey.
Open Left:
Here's Washington state's Brian Baird talking about how great the surge is, how he'll no longer vote for timelines, and bashing Democrats, after spending a grand total of two days in Iraq. This is part of a campaign to split Democrats.
Baird appears to now support an open-ended commitment to spend as much blood and money as needed to assure "victory". It is clear that he is ready to accept the administration's claims of progress without even waiting for the September report...

If SW Washington state has any kossacks, anti-war activists, or just regular citizens who want the Iraq nightmare to end, your congresscritter needs to hear from you. Baird really needs a primary challenge.
Baird has drunk the GOP kool aide. He has abandoned the constituents of WA-03 and become so wrapped up in Inside the Beltway nonsense that he is no longer fit to represent the district. He's out spreading the gospel according to Cheney and encouraging the endless war proponents inside the Beltway, his only constituency.
It's amazing to read the complaints from liberals about Baird's changed position. They're angry that he spent so little time in Iraq -- but there's no criticism of liberals who come back from a whirlwind tour of Baghdad (eg, Jan Schakowsky), or who don't even go -- as long as they support withdrawal.

Some even complain that Baird should wait for the September report(!).

Do they even read what they write, or are they incapable or recognizing hypocrisy?

Where are the liberals saluting him for speaking truth to power? Where's the 'one man with conviction is a majority?' Where's the profile in courage?

Just another demonstration -- as if one was really needed -- that all the liberals want is for their representatives to mindlessly repeat the company line.

Read also Don Surber, Gaius, Rob Port, and Wake Up America.

Prairie Democrats Make Showing

Attempting to demonstrate the extent of his rehabilitation, Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD) will make a public appearance and speech next Tuesday in Sioux Falls, South Dakota's largest city, eight months after a severe cerebral haemorrhage which curtailed his public activities and put into question his political viability. While no major Republican politician in the state has stepped forward to challenge him yet (although many expect term-limited Gov. Rounds ultimately to challenge), his prolonged absence from the Senate has begun to raise increasing criticism in letters to the editor of the state's paper of record. While most South Dakotans have so far been reluctant openly to hold Johnson's health against him, this upcoming appearance will be heavily covered in the local media and a key bellwether in shaping opinion as to Sen. Johnson's fitness to continue in office.

One can presume that Johnson and his staff feel like they're ready for this, since the event is one entirely of their own construction, but any misstep could completely gut his reelection hopes, so one could view this as a needless risk, unless the background chatter his campaign was hearing indicated that further political absenteeism was potentially even more threatening.

One state to the south, another formerly active Senator, Bob Kerrey, made waves in the local media without even the offering the possibility of setting foot in the state. It was reported in the Omaha World-Herald that Kerrey, who retired from the Senate in 2000 and hasn't even lived in the state since then, was considering running once more for the Senate if, as expected, alleged Republican Chuck Hagel announces his retirement from the Senate. Kerrey parachuted from the Senate into the presidency of the New School University in New York City, and has been a political nonentity in Nebraska since then. The media excitement surrounding Kerrey, perhaps best known for his widely-cited quote that Bill Clinton was "an unusually good liar," is evidence more of the weakness of the Democratic Party in Nebraska, than of the actual political prospects of Kerrey's return to the state.

Emanuel: Reform Earmarks (And Forget What I Proposed Last Year)

Rahm Emanuel wants everyone to understand: Democrats never intended to end earmarks.

DEMOCRATS made earmark reform a campaign issue in 2006 — and a reality in 2007 — because earmarks were at the heart of corruption scandals in Washington. Democrats never promised to eliminate earmarks. We promised to reform them.
But of course, Democrats haven't reformed earmarks -- they gutted earmark reform. It's the primary reason they still cannot send the ethics bill they passed to the President. They gutted earmark reform so badly they fear a veto.

Emanuel also points out that some earmarks are GOOD earmarks:
In my own district, I obtained an earmark to rebuild a bridge that not only was rated as deficient but also was identified by the Department of Homeland Security as a major evacuation route in case of a terrorist attack on Chicago. Does that make me an “earmark thug” or a congressman who took care of a critical need in his district?
If it required this action by a Congressman to prevent a bridge collapse, it shows the criminal negligence of the city or state with authority for the bridge. I hope that Congressman Emanuel also called for the firing, recall, impeachment or jailing of the official responsible -- but I can't find any record of that happening. In fact, I looked pretty closely at the Congressman's website and can't find any mention of this bridge. I'm sure it's there somewhere -- but I would have thought that so serious a problem merited A LOT of attention.

I also find it interesting that Emanuel seems so proud of an earmark reform package that falls so far short of the one he introduced last year. This is what the House has adopted:
  • Committees are required to list earmarks in a bill, and identify the requesting Member. But regardless of whether the list is complete or deficient, it's deemed complete if the Chairman asserts that it is. And if the Chair asserts that he (or she) inserted the earmark, no additional disclosure is required;
  • Earmarks may not be traded for votes; and,
  • A requested earmark may not benefit either the Member or spouse.

This is what Representative Emanuel called for last year:
  • Neither a Member, the Member’s spouse, or any immediate family member may personally benefit from an earmark;
  • Members may not request earmarks that will benefit a registered lobbyist or former registered lobbyist who serves as chairman of the leadership political action committee of the Member requesting the earmark;
  • Earmarks may not be requested for any entity that employs the Member's spouse or any immediate family member, employs or is represented by a former employee of the earmark’s sponsor, or is represented by a lobbying firm that employs any spouse or close relative of the earmark’s sponsor;
  • No tax measure may contain any provision amending Title VI of the U.S. Code to benefit one individual, corporation or entity; and,
  • No earmark may be included in a conference report without the language having first been in either the House or Senate legislation’s original language.
Mr. Emanuel was awfully ambitious last year, when he was in the Minority. Now that he actually wields real power, he's settling for some awfully insignificant 'reforms.'

Read also porkbusters and Phil Kerpen, for more on the earmark sham.

Everyone's a Winner at Nixon-Peabody

Do law firms have theme songs? Apparently if you make the Fortune Top 100 places to work, you do. If your ears can handle something inspired by Earth, Wind and Fire -- or maybe the Style Council, give it a listen:

CBO: Budget Balances in 2012 (If You Ignore Some Realities)

Read it at the Standard.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Seattle Post-Intelligencer Arrogance

Ace continues to follow the refusal of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer to cooperate with the FBI in their attempt to get more information about two men who might be planning an attack on a ferry. The editor of that august publication says:

I understand that people have a hard time with the concept that we get to decide what is news and what isn't, and what is fair and what isn't.

Ace says:

That's the problem. You keep insisting you have a more important, more influential job than the rest of us have agreed to give you. You jerkoffs keep describing the dream job that you wish you had, wished we would allow you to have. You simply refuse to accept that we do not give such important jobs out willy-nilly, and we especially don't hand them out to smugly incompetent morons like yourself who crave that sort of power just because they petulantly demand it.

I would disagree a little bit. If the editor of the P-I thinks that's the job he's been assigned by ownership, so be it. As far as that publication goes, he might be right.

The ultimate verdict on whether the consumers of news agree of course, is shown by their decision whether to buy the newspaper. To look at circulation numbers, the people of Seattle aren't showing much confidence. It's reported that circulation of the P-I was 176,000 daily in 2000, but had fallen to 128,000 by 2007: a drop of 27 percent in 7 years.

Perhaps I'm being too harsh. We all know that newspapers don't have the power and influence that they did a few years ago. I suppose there's no shame in having nearly 65 percent the readership as Instapundit. There's no shame in that; we can't all be as influential as Glenn Reynolds.

Clinton Crushes Giuliani, Romney -- But Gerry Ford Gives Reason for Hope

OpenLeft's Chris Bowers posts two general election maps that ought to blacken the heart of any loyal Republican. They are based on the most recent state-by-state polling results, and show Hillary crushing both Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney. The first matchup is a blowout for Hillary, and the second one is worse:

First off, I think I'll save this to look back on after election day. I am confident that the actual electoral map will look better than this, so no matter who wins, I'll be able to find a silver lining.

Second, there's no question that overall numbers for GOP candidates are dragged down by the unpopularity of President Bush. When voters say they favor Hillary Clinton over Giuliani, or Romney, or Thompson, to what degree is that judgment affected by a general dissatisfaction with Republicans because of President Bush -- and to what degree will that antipathy dissipate when Bush is no longer the face of the Republican party? I've not seen anyone take a stab at that question.

For example, look at the latest Quinnipiac poll. The generic Democrat beats the generic Republican by 12 points, while Hillary defeats Giuliani by 3. The well-regarded Battleground Poll (same link) shows the generic Democrat beating the generic Republican by 11 points, and Hillary trailing Rudy by 5, while tying Fred Thompson.

This suggests that the leading GOP contenders are running ahead of their generic partisan support -- something that has been true throughout this campaign season. To some degree, that's because right now, George Bush is the GOP brand. Come election day, he will not be. The nominee will. The Republican party is likely to be less unpopular, and the nominee is likely to gain because of that.

In other words, right now all the GOP candidates are artificially tied down by the unpopularity of George Bush. On election day 2008 that will be less true. Sure, Democrats will do their best to tie the nominee to Bush, and will succeed to a degree. But it won't be as bad as it is today.

I can't think of too many parallels -- where a President was very unpopular at the end of his second term and the party's nominee had to overcome that burden. The closest analogy in recent memory is probably that of Gerald Ford succeeding Richard Nixon.

When Nixon left office in 1975, Democrats had a whopping 25 percentage point advantage in partisan identification. Nixon's hand-picked successor pardoned him for his crimes, and still nearly won re-election just a year later.

Well, if Gerald Ford could nearly overcome the Nixon handicap, then all things being equal, a Republican nominee in 2008 -- with no close association with the incumbent -- can overcome the Bush handicap. The polls we look at today give us little indication of what the electoral map will look like once Thompson, or Giuliani, or Romney has actually gotten a chance to campaign. So Bowers' map might indicate that Hillary can win, but she sure isn't a shoo-in.

CIA Turning to Social Networking

Read it at the Standard.

Al Gore Considering a Bid for President

Come on, you tell me you doubt E Online?

“Only if he’s absolutely certain the other candidates could not win.”

—A top Al Gore coworker, regarding the almost-prez’s thoughts on running for the top job in 2008

Still want the guy who coulda been a contender to be our prez? There’s hope. Even though many, many folks (including Gore himself) have eschewed the likelihood of Tipper’s main man participating in the spectacularly self-flagellating process of campaigning for the post of U.S. chief honcho, I’m told by high-up Gore campers this political surprise distinctly remains a very real possibility.

"He would do it,” continued the A.G. blabber, “but only, absolutely, if it looked like nobody else could take it.”

If this is accurate, then there's no way Gore can run -- since there's no way any reasonable person can conclude that neither Hillary nor Obama can win. Either would have a chance.

But could Al still get in? Well, he did win the Dem straw poll in Scottsdale, Arizona.

History Channel Presents: Truther Apocalypse

Rick at Right Wing Nut House watched, and highly recommends, the History Channel special '9/11 Conspiracies: Fact or Fiction:'

There’s no other way to say it; the truthers got reamed.

They got reamed to the point that the truthers who produced the internet video Loose Change are scrambling to alter the third version of their conspiracy mongering tripe, even going so far as to drop any reference to the twin towers being blown up by the government (they continue to insist WTC #7 was brought down by explosives)...

The format was perfect. A truther would lay out a conspiracy theory which was then immediately debunked by 2 or 3 experts. Over two hours, a couple of dozen myths associated with 9/11 were laid to rest permanently including the “missile” that hit the Pentagon, the shoot down of Flight 93, the “implosion” of the towers,” and other theories not based on fact.

The implosion theory was debunked several times over. First, by the best forensic structural engineer in the country who, with the help of some excellent graphics and animation, showed exactly how the planes caused the towers to fall. An explosives expert (a young guy who was flabbergasted at the ignorance of the truthers regarding demolition) pointed out it would have taken weeks to rig the buildings for implosion and would have involved stripping drywall and ripping out walls. The nail in the coffin was supplied by one of the engineers who prepared the final report (working for the independent American Society of Civil Engineers) who showed how the collapse of the towers accounted for such things as the puffs of smoke seen in lower floors as the collapse was occurring as well as the speed of the collapse.

By the end of their presentation, I was on my feet cheering.

I'll need to watch it. It's on Saturday at 8:00pm, then again at midnight.

This appears to be an excerpt:

If you want a debunking that's less dry, more entertaining (and more vulgar), check out Penn & Teller:

Peak Oil

Myron Ebell of CEI discusses fears that we are running out of oil:

A petroleum analyst I know argues -- and an industry leader I spoke to agrees -- that all the talk about running out of oil is overheated. This is for one overriding reason: all estimates of remaining oil are conditioned on price. That is, if the sale price of oil is $20/barrel, there are x number of barrels remaining in the world reserves. If the price is $80 per barrel however, there are many, many more barrels that can be recovered.

Thus remaining reserves increase the more you are willing to spend -- a position that makes intuitive sense. If technology permits the recovery of liquid oil from oil shale at $70 per barrel for example, we have far more oil than present calculations suggest.

So don't buy that electric car just yet.

I plan to write more on this in the future.

Immortality Through Gastric Bypass Surgery

Time Magazine reports an apparent breakthrough in the effort to achieve immortality. For the first time, medicine has identified a procedure that reduces the 'risk' of death: gastric bypass. The headline from Time: Gastric Bypass Lowers Risk of Death.

I've never really wanted to live forever, but if I can live forever AND lose weight at the same time, I might have to reconsider...

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Freedom's Watch

Read it over at the Weekly Standard.

Netroots Doing the Work of the NRCC

Read it at the Standard.

Californians Support Splitting their Electoral Votes

This survey result is a great surprise to me:

Under the proposed measure, which could be on the June 2008 ballot, the presidential election would become, in essence, a congressional district-by-congressional district contest. The winner of the statewide popular vote would receive two electoral votes, but the remaining votes would go to the winner in each of the 53 congressional districts.

The proponents of the California ballot measure, largely Republicans, say such a change would make presidential elections more fair by more accurately reflecting the results of the popular vote. However, Democrats have railed against the proposal by charging that the measure is a Republican-driven effort to keep Democrats from capturing the White House...

The Field Poll found that 47 percent of registered voters back a change to California's system for electoral votes, with 35 percent opposed. Republicans generally support the change more than Democrats.

When pollsters explained the political implication that Democratic presidential candidates might lose some electoral votes under a proportional system, the numbers changed: 49 percent supported the change and 42 percent opposed it. Opposition from Democrats and independent voters rose when the issue was put this way.

It seems to me that California never supports ballot measures -- or at least they never support measures that favor the GOP. I find it stunning that a clear majority would voice support even knowing that it's a 'pro-GOP' measure.

While I'm encouraged though, I'd still bet good money that this initiative will fail. After all, Democrats have a far better machine to educate their voters and turn them out to the polls in California than the GOP does. Teachers' unions, government employees, and labor unions can be expected to do their part to preserve the power of their machine.

Another consideration is the fact that this may be portrayed as a proxy for the presidential race. By June of next year we will know who the nominees are. If Tom Tancredo is the GOP standard-bearer, Democrats will gladly frame this as a vote for or against Tancredo. If Giuliani headed the ticket, it would probably be tougher. Of course, since California is now a pretty blue state, they will likely have the advantage in any matchup of Republican vs. Democrat.

The one possible logistical edge for Republicans might be that this is targeted for the June ballot. The California Secretary of State's page does not make clear what else will be considered that day. If for example, there's a high-profile Republican primary that day and no corresponding Democratic race, that could give Republicans a turnout advantage.

Note: The original piece from the Chronicle is here.

WPost: Dems Shift Ground on Iraq

Check out this piece from the Washington Post:

For Democratic congressional leaders, the dog days of August are looking anything but quiet. Having failed twice to crack GOP opposition and force a major change in war policy, Democrats risk further alienating their restive supporters if the September showdown again ends in stalemate.

This is why the best strategy for Congressional Democrats may be to cave. If they can end the fight over Iraq quickly, it may expose them to less abuse from their base, and allow them to move on to issues that unite Democrats and divide Republicans

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Have You Heard About Fred Thompson...

There sure seems to be a spate of commenters in conservative blog threads worried about Fred Thompson's health and advising him to spend more time with his family. The posts are very similar -- close enough to suggest that it's either one person, or an organized campaign.

I first noticed it here, in a post I wrote over the weekend:

AP reports were correct coming out of Iowa and actually gave him the benefit of the doubt. He could only walk for 20 minutes and had to rest, ignored people calling his name, driven around in a golf cart, didn't eat, and looks terrible.

He has not been seen for over a week at a campaign event and some of you think this man can go through a grueling campaign with his new way of campaigning which is having someone write his papers and put it on the net as his?

Talk to the aides that quit and you will get an entirely different story.

This man needs to stay home with his wife and kids. You do remember Tsongas and if you don't, then you should look him up.

If you want a 'real' conservative to go Brownback or Hunter.

Take the blinders off. Fred is a nice man but he is also a very sick man that anyone can see from the pictures of the Fair.
Awfully sensitive, my commenter -- comparing Thompson to Tsongas (who died of cancer just a few years after campaigning for the Presidency. It seems like the same person showed up in the comment thread at Reformed Chicks Blabbing:
When are you going to wake up and face reality that Fred Thompson looks very old and very ill. What is wrong with some of you? This man should be home with his family. One campaign appearance in well over a week and then can only walk 20 minutes with Sen Grassley before having to rest, ignores people calling his name, and rides around in a golf cart not eating? That man is is ill and the sooner some of you realize it maybe he will decide to stay home with his young children and not be putting stress on himself.

Quit deluding yourselves as the man would have been in the race in the spring if he was completely well...

You do remember Paul Tsongas, don't you? Looks at Fred's arms and his neck/face and tell me that people are going to vote for someone that looks that unhealthy.

Go support Duncan Hunter or Sam Brownback because they are 'real' conservatives and don't pander to conservatives like Fred.
He's also over at Pajamas Media, with almost the same comment:
Have you not taken a good look at Fred Thompson. He looks very old and very ill. No one loses that much weight on purpose. He has trouble concentrating when it came out that Grassley had to direct him to people calling his name and after walking for 20 minutes had to rest. Then he rides in a golf cart.

There is something really wrong with a man with this little energy when he hasn't been out campaigning every day. He doesn't look up to campaigning every day and I want to know why people are encourging an obviosly sick man to run. He needs to be home with his family and if his wife is behind this it makes it even more bizarre...

If all of you care for Fred Thompson like you say you do, then you would not be encouraging him to run. This isn't about politics but about a man's health and he looks very unhealthy. It was the same way in NH when he got in a car to ride to his room at the hotel which was a 2-minute walk. The Fred of old would have walked and talked to everyone along the way. This Fred does not go into crowds or talk for very long.

Time some of you put Fred's health of your obvious selfish interest. BTW, he is not even that conservative which means you are seeing Fred the actor not Fred the person.
He... or she(?) seems to be over at Ankle Biting Pundits as well, where there's a similar comment listed under the name 'Samantha:'
Finally someone else is seeing how unhealthy he looks as he has lost so much weight. When you look at him as a whole, he looks really old and very ill. What is wrong with some of the people that cannot see what is before their eyes.

Some of you should be encouraging him to enjoy his family not run for office. A lot of people have him confused with the actor which is sad they cannot separate the two. If he was a Democrat, posters on here would be attacking him for running but since he is a Republican it is okay which is just flat out wrong...

If a candidate was healthy, they would never ride around in a golf cart and they wouldn’t ignore supporters that wanted to see them. Twenty minutes with Grassley and he had to go rest but supporters think he can run a general election campaign when the reason he is delaying getting in the race is obviously his health. He campaigns like one day a week.
I don't think you can reliably guess whether the attacks are coming from a rival GOP campaign, or from a Democrat trying to 'soften him up' for the general election. Either way, it seems pretty despicable to me.

Still, I suppose it is to be expected. As they say, politics ain't beanbag. And if Thompson wants to win the nomination, I suppose we will see more of these attacks.

Pat Schroeder, Meet Markos Moulitsas

Pat Schroeder, formerly the teary-eyed liberal Member of Congress from Colorado, is now the head of the American Association of Publishers. She recently said that conservatives aren't really bright enough to understand anything but the simplest of books:

"The Karl Roves of the world have built a generation that just wants a couple slogans: 'No, don't raise my taxes, no new taxes,'" Pat Schroeder, president of the American Association of Publishers, said in a recent interview. "It's pretty hard to write a book saying, 'No new taxes, no new taxes, no new taxes' on every page..."

She said liberals tend to be policy wonks who "can't say anything in less than paragraphs. We really want the whole picture, want to peel the onion."
Come on Pat, don't flatter yourself. You only have to go as far as a post today by Markos Moulitsas of the DailyKos to see just how wrong you are. This is what he had to say about a scholarly essay by Bobby Jindal, after distorting the piece massively so his readers wouldn't be forced to 'peel the onion' for themselves:
Summary: My church is big and old and can kick your church's ass.

There's more, but the piece is pretty much unreadable. It looks impressive if you are easily impressed by cites and the such...

'Cites and such.' Those pointy-headed intellectual conservatives sure are annoying!

I may not be smart like Pat Schroeder, but I can only come up with two possibilities: the readers of DailyKos aren't liberal, or not all liberals are the intellectual heavyweights Schroeder seems to think they are.

Levin: Maliki Has 'a Few Days;' Then He Should Go

Read it over at the Standard.

Nuclear Power Returns, But Big Obstacles Remain

Read it at the Standard.

Police Look Into Men Testing Ferry Security; Media Won't Help

Ace of Spades has the story:

Remember, these are the people who favor a law enforcement approach to fighting terror, and are very, very upset when government officials aren't able to "connect the dots" in order to anticipate an attack.

Go read the whole thing.

Obama Senses Gravity

After floating freely above the rest of the Democratic contenders for most of the year, Sen. Barack Obama has clearly begun to feel the downward pull of the string of missteps chronicled here over the past few weeks--pandering to the anti-American left on Iraq, subverting longstanding bipartisan positions on negotiating with foreign governments, threatening to invade Pakistan, kissing up to the Castro regime, and most recently, threatening to sabotage any ticket that doesn't have a black candidate. Obama seems to have begun to sense that he's running for second place, and there's not that much to be done about it.

Obama: A 'stretch' to see me as president

Here's a communications hint for the junior senator from Illinois: when addressing a concern in order to bridge to a selling point, don't repeat the charge against you--it merely reinforces the charge in the minds of listeners, and creates the impression that on some level you believe the charge has merit.

Obama Tries Racial Blackmail

Bob Novak recently reported that some Democrats have counseled Hillary Clinton, if she should win the nomination, not to select Barack Obama as her Vice Presidential nominee. I was among several bloggers who noted that the failure to select Obama could sour African American voters to her candidacy. Yesterday Senator Obama showed that he's not afraid to play the race card:

"I'm probably the only candidate who having won the nomination can actually redraw the political map," Obama told a Democratic voter skeptical that he could defeat a Republican candidate.

"I guarantee you African-American turnout, if I'm the nominee, goes up 30 percent around the country, minimum," Obama said. "Young people's percentage of the vote goes up 25-30 percent. So we're in a position to put states in play that haven't been in play since LBJ."

Democrats regularly criticize Republicans who make racial appeals to voters; how is this any different? Obama is playing identity politics and endorsing the idea that people will vote for him because of the color of his skin.

The flip side is that African Americans won't come out and support the nominee if he or she is white. That's racial blackmail -- 'vote for me or black Democrats stay home on election day. 'Obama is telling Democratic leaders that he is willing to play the race card to get what he wants. If Hillary is the nominee, will Obama tell African Americans that they ought to be disappointed that the Democratic party rejected their favorite son? Will he say that Hillary needs to select him, or see black turnout fall?

If Obama wants to continue to run as a different kind of candidate, he'd be better off taking back this comment. It sounds like it was an offhand comment -- like some of the other gaffes he's made -- but it's entirely inappropriate, and it encourages racial divisions. And for a candidate who claims to offer 'something different,' it sounds an awful lot like something that Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton would say.

That FEC Complaint Against Fred Thompson

Rob Port explains that with regard to complaints from Democrats that Fred Thompson is taking his time in testing the waters, no one seemed to mind Waffles waiting 9 months between the time that he declared for President, and the time that he officially filed paperwork ending the 'exploratory' effort and beginning the campaign:

I’m thinking this complaint has more to do with Thompson not choosing to get into the Presidential race as drastically early as all the other candidates have. The candidates this year have started their official campaigns terribly early, and by holding back Thompson has kept certain advantages over them...

Remember that during the 2004 campaign John Kerry, who went on to become the Democrats’ nominee, didn’t officially announce his candidacy until September 2nd, 2003, after announcing it in December 2002. That’s actually a longer exploratory timeline than Fred Thompson has run (he didn’t really get started until March), yet nobody on the left seems concerned about that tid-bit of information.

New MREs Get Mixed Reviews

The Smoking Gun reports that the Army is preparing to deploy a new line of MREs ('Meals Ready to Eat,') which were tested and reviewed by 400 soldiers at Fort Greeley, Alaska. They have the feedback sheets from their reviewers, and they are pretty funny to read:

The vanilla pudding is so good that I ripped it open. Licked the inside and rolled around on top of it like a dog. I prefer not to eat anything called loaf but this time I made an exception... thank God I did.

*** The cheese spread? GO YANKEES!!

Substituted Tabasco sama with *** hot sauce gummy bears inside

[I don't understand that last one, but eewww... -- the Editor]

I believe it was the dinner meal that caused this (chicken and dumplings) but it sounded like a flatulence symphony in my tent all night...

Needs more toilet paper totally not enough when you need it. Should allow people other than military personnel test the food and make decisions of that. Soldiers will eat this nastiness no matter what, because we have to eat. You should make better food for the people that ensure you have a job.

The new menus are here. If you want to buy some to taste yourself, may God have mercy on your soul.

Congressional Approval Falls to 18%; Smart Dems Will Cave on Iraq

See the story at Hot Air, and the actual poll result here.

Allah notes that the 9 point drop in approval occurred since the month of July, and wonders what events might have prompted voters to turn more negative.

I'd guess at three things:

  1. August recess: People are aware that Congress has taken its August break, and they can see for themselves that not much has been accomplished.
  2. Gas prices: August is driving season, and people may be focused more on prices at the pump, and the failure of Congress to do anything about it.
  3. Iraq: There has been some coverage of the improvements in Iraq -- the O'Hanlon and Pollack piece and multiple news stories. Perhaps voters are starting to realize that Democrats are out-of-tune with events on the ground.

Allah suggests that the fall among Democrats is likely to encourage Democrats to go even harder after the administration when the Petraeus progress report is delivered in September:

The worse their numbers get, the more pressure Reid and Pelosi will feel to dig in on Iraq next month to get them back up. The last thing the Democrats want is to have to spend money that should be going towards defeating Republicans next year on defeating primary challengers instead.

That's certainly a possibility.

Remember however, the immigration debate. It divided Republicans badly, preventing any resolution: it was impossible to pass either a comprehensive bill or a 'security-only' bill. Republican leaders in Washington had abuse heaped on them by the base. People like George Bush, Trent Lott, John McCain, and Mel Martinez were constantly criticized. And the criticism would not end as long as the debate continued. The advice from the pros was to cut losses, end the debate, and move on to ANYTHING else.

Congressional Democrats seem likely to find themselves in the same position in September. They are clearly divided, with a small minority willing to give the President and the mission more time. They face a determined President who has all he needs to continue the surge at least until April. And he has the backing of enough Republicans to uphold any veto he is forced to issue.

So if Democrats push to force an end to the conflict, they are likely to prove ineffective, they will show their divisions, and they will expose moderate Democrats and undecided Democrats to attacks by the base. This looks like a no-win situation for them. Their best outcome politically is to ensure that the Iraq debate is over as quickly as possible, after having demonstrated that they cannot force the President to end the war. Then they can return to sniping and criticizing to their heart's content.

Update: See also Wake Up America and the Swamp.

Louisiana Democrats Fear Catholics, Foreigners; Lie About Jindal's Writings on Religion

The Louisiana Democratic party is airing ads that accuse Republican Bobby Jindal of being anti-Christian, referencing an article he wrote in the Oxford Review in 1996. This is in keeping with the race that the state's Democrats have run so far, starting with racist attacks based on Jindal's Indian heritage.

The ad is here:

See Rothenberg and Bryan Preston at Hot Air for more information and commentary on this attack. The site that Democrats want you to visit is

It appears that you can find the full article from the Oxford Review at the Free Republic, here. It was published when Jindal was 25 years old. Assuming the accuracy of this transcript, Jindal does use the word 'scandalous,' as the ad claims. However, he uses it in referring to 'scandalous divisions' in the Church, which led to 'new denominations.' Contrary to the claim in the Democratic ad, there's no mention of Pentecostals, Baptists, Methodists, Episcopalians, or any other denomination. Here is the relevant text:

The meaning of Scripture is not self-evident. One cannot discern its intended meaning through prayerful reading alone, for Scripture is "hard to understand" and individual misinterpretation can lead "to our own destruction" (2 Pet. 3:15-6; see also Acts 8:30-34). The Holy Spirit's guidance, acting through the Church, "the pillar and foundation of truth" (1 Tim. 3:15), is necessary to avoid error since "there is no prophecy of Scripture that is a matter of personal interpretation" (2 Pet. 1:20; see also Mt. 18:17; 1 Tim. 6:3; Rev. 2:17). It is nearly impossible to derive the orthodox understanding of the Trinity, and other teachings which were disputed in the early Christian community, from Scripture alone without recourse to Church teachings. Sincerely motivated Christians studying the same texts have disagreed on the fundamentals of the faith, thereby dividing not only Protestants from Catholics, but also particular Protestant denominations from each other. Post-Reformation history does not reflect the unity and harmony of the "one flock" instituted by Christ (Jn. 10:16; see also Jn. 17:11, 17:21-23; Acts 4:32; Eph. 4:3-6, 4:13; Rom. 12:5, 16:17-18; 1 Cor. 1:10-11, 3:4, 12:12-13; Phil. 1:27, 2:2), but rather a scandalous series of divisions and new denominations, including some that can hardly be called Christian. Yet Christ would not have demanded unity without providing the necessary leadership to maintain it. The same Catholic Church which infallibly determined the canon of the Bible must be trusted to interpret her handiwork; the alternative is to trust individual Christians, burdened with, as Calvin termed it, their "utterly depraved" minds, to overcome their tendency to rationalize, their selfish desires, and other effects of original sin. The choice is between Catholicism's authoritative Magisterium and subjective interpretation which leads to anarchy and heresy. All churches follow their own traditions, but the Catholic Church claims a continuous link to the oral tradition which preceded and formed the canon of Scripture, the same apostolic (Acts 2:42) Tradition St. Paul commanded us to abide by (2 Thess. 2:15; 2 Tim. 2:2).

Note that Democrats are lying too, when they claim that Jindal called anyone -- let alone specific religions -- 'selfish,' 'depraved,' and 'heretical.' Those words are not applied to denominations; they are applied to some individual Christians. And importantly, they are not used by Jindal. He is quoting protestant reformer John Calvin (see for example, this piece on Calvin).

Indian Americans are seen by some as a 'prized minority.' I can only hope that this smear campaign by Louisiana Democrats gets national attention, so South Asians can see how Democrats lie about one of the first prominent Indian-American politicians to seek statewide office.

Updated: To add details, and note that I originally read the wrong URL for the Democrats' Jindal attack site in Bryan's HotAir post.

Update II: Captain Ed reads the same article in greater detail than I, and notes that Jindal specifically argues against Calvin's view -- the one that Democrats ascribe to him.

Update III: Kos apparently can't afford the $1.50 to actually read the article he's commenting on, and he wasn't able to find Captain Ed's refutation of the charge. Thus he lamely comments 'he wrote stuff to that effect.' Of course, if he read the piece he couldn't make that claim, so he'd probably better off ignorant.

Welcome Malkin readers and thanks Michelle, for the traffic! While you're here, check out how DailyKos proves that Pat Schroeder is wrong when she asserts that liberals are smarter than conservatives.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Islam: The World's Free-Market Religion

Katherine Mangu-Ward has the story over at Reason. Perhaps I have been to dismissive of the followers of Mohammed. Do you suppose the Quran addresses progressive taxation?

Before he was a prophet, Muhammad was a businessman. And it is perfectly in keeping with honoring him that a market is set up next to the Great Mosque. In fact, there’s always been a market next to the mosque; this one is just going to be bigger, and air conditioned. And more than the Christian heaven (which is primarily characterized by the intimate and intelligible presence of God), the paradise of Islam is the perfection of sensual pleasures. And what better way to give a foretaste of these divine gifts than a mall and a first-rate hotel? And what better place for it than the center of the holy city?
Yet more evidence that the Ferengi are based on them.

Bill Maher Insults Muslims

Implicitly. He's out to offend every religious group -- in Vatican City, Jerusalem, and Salt Lake City. Jonathan Last comments:

The documentary, tentatively titled Religulous, sounds unbelievably brave. After all, you've seen the enormous price people in Hollywood pay for even beginning to question the pieties of religious zealots. This is why we have artists--to speak truth to the powerful.

Anyway, Maher had this to say about the movie, "We talked to everybody. We went everywhere. We went to every place where there is religion. We went to Vatican City. We went to Jerusalem. We went to Salt Lake City. And I think I’ve insulted everybody!"

Christians, check. Jews, check. Mormons, check. Yup, that's everybody! There's no other important religious group worth mentioning that maybe deserves some fun-poking and that might react badly to being ridiculed. And thank goodness the film will be released around Easter and not some other holy period.
Yes, you have to admire the bravery of people like Maher. He must be ostracized in Hollywood for making a movie like this.

British Distrust Muslims More than Other Western Countries

The Financial Times features a story on a recent poll by Harris interactive in the US, UK, Italy, France and Spain. Among these 5 countries, Muslims are feared and distrusted in the UK more than any of the other nations:

Only 59 per cent of Britons thought it possible to be both a Muslim and a citizen of their country, a smaller proportion than in France, Germany, Spain, Italy or the US – the other countries polled by Harris Interactive.

British citizens were also the most likely to predict a “major terrorist attack” in their country in the next 12 months; to consider Muslims “a threat to national security”, and to believe Muslims had too much political power in their country.

However, on more personal measures of integration – having Muslim friends and accepting the marriage of their child to a Muslim – Britons showed more enthusiasm than some other countries.

Some might see the distrust of the British as a natural outgrowth of the tube bombings of July 2005, and the more recent attacks in Glasgow. However -- as in the US -- Islamic groups point to unfair media portrayals as the culprit:
The findings suggest that terrorist plots against the UK, including the London bombings of July 7 2005, have hardened British attitudes towards Muslims. Osama Saeed of the Muslim Association of Britain blamed the findings on what he called “a vicious campaign” by the press against the Muslim community.
When will such groups learn: it's the killings, stupid!

Update: They don't like or trust Muslims, and they're scared to death of offending them, it seems. Doesn't seem like much of a way to deter the threat.

Miniter: How the New Republic Got Suckered

Brendan Miniter does some great background work on Scott Beauchamp, and how his bizarre stories made their way into an important national publication. I'm going to take an excerpt. If the story interests you at all, you should simply go read the whole thing.

Pushing Impeachment, Again

Good news for all the Republicans who fear that the Democratic party is in the ascendancy, Democrats will gain seats in Congress next year, and elect a President: the party is dying.

That's right, according to a contributor at the Daily Kos, the party is withering away -- all because they refuse to impeach the President:

[Pelosi's] position on impeachment is killing the Democratic Party too, by driving away not just progressived members of the party, but independents who voted for Democrats last November expecting some action in defense of the Constitution.

I see this anger welling up among progressives and independents everywhere I travel, as people say they've simply had it with the Democrats. The support of the party for a bill continuing funding for the war through September was terrible. The Democrats' rush to pass a bill granting Bush the authority to spy without a warrant on Americans, and to expand the power to spy domestically well beyond phones and internet to even include break-ins was a last straw.
Does anyone recall the exit polling for the 2006 election showing what percentage of independents voted to send a message for impeachment? CNN's exit poll showed Iraq, corruption, terrorism, and the economy. In the minds of the Left, this all conflated into a message in support of impeachment.

And since Congressional leaders have no interest in impeachment, some are pushing for Democrats to quit the party in protest:

My own little call for people so sign an "I Quit This Party" petition has seen a jump from 300 to now 400 signers. (Sign up on the column to the right.) When it gets to 500 I'll be sending the list off to Pelosi, as well as to the offices of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Democratic National Committee Chair Howard Dean.

Four or five hundred party defectors may seem like small loss, but it reflects a larger trend across the country.

The author offers a 'stick' to induce Speaker Pelosi to come along:
Either Pelosi--who is facing an election challenge by Cindy Sheehan in her own San Francisco district--better do an about face and open the path to impeachment of Bush and/or Cheney. Otherwise, she and her fellow party leaders are going to find themselves either ousted in primaries, or back in the position of minority "leaders" in 2009.
How many impeachment crusaders will be prepared to travel to San Francisco and help Mother Sheehan challenge Pelosi? Republicans can only hope that there are enough become a burr in the leadership's side all the way to the 2008 election, complicating efforts to enact an agenda that the American people support and distracting them from fundraising and candidate recruitment.

Roughing It in Style

Good grief:

When 6-year-old Ethan Bondick told his mom and dad he wanted to go fly-fishing in Montana, his well-heeled parents were stumped.

"We looked at each other and said, 'Oh, god, now what?' " said Gigi Bondick, 37, a "reformed" attorney whose husband works as a private-equity partner in Massachusetts.

"We're just not the camping kind of people. We don't pitch tents. We don't cook outdoors. We don't share a bathroom. It's just not going to happen. This is a kid who has never flown anything but first class or stayed anywhere other than a Four Seasons."

After typing "luxury" into a Google search along with "camping" and "Montana," the couple settled on The Resort at Paws Up, a 37,000-acre getaway in the heart of Big Sky country. It's a place for affluent travelers who want to enjoy the outdoors but can't fathom using a smelly outhouse, a place where paying someone to light the campfire is a badge of honor, not the mark of a Boy Scout flunky.

The Bondicks, who live in a sprawling home on the edge of a state park outside Boston and hire a personal chef at home, shelled out $595 a night -- plus an additional $110 per person per day for food.

It's a hefty price to sleep in a tent, but the perks include a camp butler to build their fire, a maid to crank up the heated down comforter at nightfall and a cook to whip up bison rib-eye for dinner and French toast topped with huckleberries for breakfast.

Do you get the sense that John Edwards would stay at this kind of place?

If you want to book night or two at Paws Up, the site is over here.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Meet the Joker

All movies, all the time.

Look over here for a bunch of pics from The Dark Knight. I think this Heath Ledger look for the Joker could really work.

Meet Scotty

Scottish actor James McAvoy will reportedly play chief engineer Montgomery Scott in the next Star Trek movie, a prequel:

Shameless star James McAvoy will boldly go where no Scot has gone before - playing Scotty in Star Trek.

The 28-year-old actor has won the role of chief engineer of the Starship Enterprise, immortalised in Captain Kirk's phrase "Beam me up, Scotty".

He will star in the 11th movie in the sci-fi series - a prequel taking the crew back to Starfleet Academy.

I thought the Wild Colonial Boy shot James McAvoy. Shows you what I know.

Saturday Novak

Coming to you a day late, but it's interesting as always. In particular, Novak says that senior Democrats are advising Hillary against selecting Barack Obama as her running mate -- because he adds nothing to the ticket:

Anticipating that Sen. Hillary Clinton will clinch the Democratic presidential nomination, some supporters are beginning to argue against her principal rival -- Sen. Barack Obama -- for vice president.

They maintain that Obama provides no general election help for Clinton. As an African-American from Illinois, Obama represents an ethnic group and a state already solidly in the Democratic column.

This school of thought advocates a Southerner as Clinton's running mate. The last time Democrats won a national election without a Southerner on the ticket was 1944. Prominent Democrats from the South are in short supply today. The leading prospect: former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner.

Assuming Hillary secures the nomination -- and Novak has cautioned against such an assumption -- this will be hotly debated. There will definitely be pressure to select Obama, for a few reasons. First, Hillary does not match her husband in inspiring adulation among African-American voters. Selecting Obama would help ensure strong turnout among this core Democratic constituency -- which will help Democratic candidates all the way down the line.

But second, if Hillary is the nominee, African American leaders are likely to be excited about the prospect that she will choose Obama. Since Hillary may be seen as the odds-on favorite, people will be eager to see her select the nation's first black Vice President. There's likely to be great disappointment among these Obama fans -- perhaps enough to sour them to her candidacy. If she clinches the nomination, she may want to either accept or rule out Obama quickly, to avoid there being any hurt feelings.

And as for picking a southerner, that could wind up being a promising strategy for Hillary -- particularly if the nominee is Rudy Giuliani. A 'moderate' pro-choice, pro gun control, Italian American from New York may have to work hard to secure the traditional GOP base in the Solid South. If Hillary emphasizes her southern credentials and picks someone like Mark Warner for VP, she could potentially flip several southern states to the Democratic column -- starting with Arkansas and Virginia.

For a contrary opinion, see Wizbang.

Japanese Invent Back to the Future Jacket

Remember when Marty traveled to the future and the Cubs had finally won the World Series? He had a coat that dried itself when it got wet? Looks like the Japanese are just about there:

SELF-COOLING clothes may seem like the stuff of science fiction, but for one Japanese company they are not only good business but a way to help the environment.

Shirts and jackets made by Kuchou-fuku - literally “air-conditioned clothes” - keep the wearer comfortable even in sweltering heat while using one-50th of the energy of a small air conditioner, said Hiroshi Ichigaya, the company's CEO.

“Until now, air-conditioning implied cooling the entire room. Now, we can cool just the body,” Mr Ichigaya said.

Two small fans sewn into the back of each garment and powered by a pocket-sized rechargeable battery pack circulate air across the wearer's skin, evaporating perspiration and keeping temperatures down - a welcome respite from Japan's mid-summer humidity and record-breaking heat in recent days.

Ten points for anyone who remembers who said this about the Japanese:

The strange thing is they make such bloody good cameras.

AP Disses Fred Thompson in Iowa -- Updated -- Nasty Attack in the Comments

Nice story from the Associated Press today about Fred Thompson's campaigning in Iowa:

On the verge of joining the presidential race, Republican Fred Thompson on Friday unapologetically defended his career as a Washington lobbyist paid to influence the government on behalf of an abortion-rights group, a leftist Haitian leader and other special interests...

The actor on NBC's "Law & Order" plunged hesitantly into retail politics Iowa-style. Unlike Democrat Barack Obama, who a day earlier sought out state fairgoers, fried food and rides, Thompson raced through the jam-packed fair, stopping only to shake hands and chat with people who approached him.

He was formal and stiff compared to the folksy Grassley.
I see no suggestion that he was 'formal and stiff' in any of the other articles covering the fair -- including from the Des Moines Register, which might be expected to be the most critical. The LATimes says says that he spent two hours strolling through the festival 'and encountered nary a discouraging word.' They report that even a man in a Romney shirt complimented him. The Chicago Tribune says 'with his rural persona and ambling gait, Thompson fit in well.'

The Associated Press continues:
The abortion-rights work complicates Thompson's efforts to court social conservatives, most of whom strongly oppose abortion.

Thompson, who called himself "unabashedly pro-life" despite a sometimes inconsistent abortion record, said there is nothing wrong or unusual about a lawyer representing a client with views different from his own.
I've covered Thompson's abortion voting record here before. The only 'blemishes' on that record were his votes in favor of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform legislation. So far I'm unaware of any indication that Thompson is encountering problems among social conservatives -- despite the best attempts of news outlets like the LA Times and the Associated Press to fan the flames.

I probably shouldn't make too much of this; it's typical of the coverage of Republican candidates.

Update: The comment section has produced an amazingly tasteless and inappropriate allegation -- that Thompson is hiding the seriousness of his cancer:
AP reports were correct coming out of Iowa and actually gave him the benefit of the doubt. He could only walk for 20 minutes and had to rest, ignored people calling his name, driven around in a golf cart, didn't eat, and looks terrible.

He has not been seen for over a week at a campaign event and some of you think this man can go through a grueling campaign with his new way of campaigning which is having someone write his papers and put it on the net as his?

Talk to the aides that quit and you will get an entirely different story.

This man needs to stay home with his wife and kids. You do remember Tsongas and if you don't, then you should look him up.

If you want a 'real' conservative to go Brownback or Hunter.

Take the blinders off. Fred is a nice man but he is also a very sick man that anyone can see from the pictures of the Fair.
The attack is a reference to the fact that Thompson has announced that he is in remission from non-Hodgkins lymphoma. The allegation is apparently that it is not in remission, or is worse than Thompson has let on.

Would the commenter care to let us know how he came across this information? Have you talked to 'the aides that quit'?