Saturday, October 06, 2007

Mitt Romney: Catching the Protectionist Bug?

Has Mike Huckabee proved that populism is a winner in the Republican party? Is Mitt Romney afraid of being attacked as one of the 'Wall Street' Republicans? Has he read the recent Wall Street Journal article which attracted so much attention -- the one that reported on the weakening of support for free trade among GOP voters?

One can infer that he has, since one of his advisers -- the highly-intelligent, conservative former Congressman Vin Weber -- is interviewed by the Journal for the piece:

While rank-and-file Democrats have long blasted the impact of trade on American jobs, slipping support among Republicans represents a fresh warning sign for free-market conservatives and American companies such as manufacturers and financial firms that benefit from markets opening abroad.

With voters provoked for years by such figures as Pat Buchanan and Ross Perot, "there's been a steady erosion in Republican support for free trade," says former Rep. Vin Weber, now an adviser to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

One fresh indication of the party's ideological crosswinds: Presidential candidate Ron Paul of Texas, who opposes the Iraq war and calls free-trade deals "a threat to our independence as a nation," announced yesterday that he raised $5 million in third-quarter donations. That nearly matches what one-time front-runner John McCain is expected to report

After reading that, it should be no surprise to see Romney back off of free trade -- in favor of action to redress the 'unfair playing field:'



Romney is clearly avoiding the traditional rhetoric of leading Republican contenders for the White House. No promises to 'open markets to US exports,' and 'expand markets for American products abroad.' He has chosen not to use this language for a reason. Is it because he wants to sounds more 'fair trade,' while pursuing the same policies (a bait and switch), or is it because he doesn't agree with the trade policies pursued by Republican presidents since the 1970s, at least.

If Romney wants a fair playing field, why doesn't he talk about US agricultural subsidies, import quotas, and the other measures the United States employs to protect our own producers (and of course, damage our consumers)? While the US is more of a free trader than many leading trading nations, we are hardly blameless.

That's not to say he should smile and accept violations on the part of US trading partners; the US pushed for the creation of the World Trade Organization specifically to punish unfair practices such as the one he mentions. Let Romney promise to push the WTO aggressively.

This sounds suspiciously like someone who wants to seize the votes that go with pushing protectionism, without actually using language specific enough to scare those who support consumer choice. I hope the governor gets the chance to clarify his meaning.

Don't Do the Crime if You Can't do the Time

Peace activists discover that Canada doesn't like convicted criminals trying to cross the border -- even if your arrest was for 'peaceful protest.

What has Medea Benjamin ever done to deserve being considered a real criminal?

Nothing much -- traveled to Cuba, organized the violent anti-WTO protests in Seattle (which caused about $20 million in damage), disrupting Congressional hearings and proceedings, as well as political conventions... you know, the usual. Why wouldn't Canada be delighted to welcome her with open arms?

You think she'd be proud at achieving a certain level of notoriety. Instead she's a crybaby, unwilling to take repsonsibility for her actions.

Indians over Yankees: Lord of the Flies Edition

In 25 years or so of watching baseball, I think this is the most bizarre thing I've ever seen:



The pictures are from the MLB site here.

They were a group of bugs clearly partial to the hometown Indians, as they began to appear during Doug Mientkiewicz's at-bat in the top of the eighth and arrived in full force when Joba Chamberlain took the mound in the bottom of the frame...

Blake's words provide the essence for this latest chapter of "When annoying bugs attack." The Indians went about business as if nothing out of the ordinary was taking place, pretty much how they have adeptly handled the first two games of this playoff encounter.

New York, meanwhile, temporarily became a bit unglued. Players were sprayed down with Off before the inning, with shortstop Derek Jeter swatting at the nuisances using his glove, and third baseman Alex Rodriguez using his hat to move them away.

Chamberlain looked as if he was conducting some sort of entomology experiment with the 20 or so bugs perched on his neck. They provided more than just a physical distraction, though, as the hard-throwing right-hander, rushing fastballs to the plate at 98 mph, threw two wild pitches to bring home Grady Sizemore with the game-tying run.

According to crew chief Bruce Froemming, who spoke to a pool reporter after the game, stopping action because of the bugs never was under consideration. It certainly wasn't necessary in the collective minds of the Indians players...

A reporter for Friday's broadcast on TBS identified the bugs as Canadian Soldiers, but apparently they were smaller. Since these bugs weren't looking for food, and probably had come from nearby Lake Erie in search of moisture, the bug spray actually had very little effect on getting rid of the pests. According to the Associated Press, in a game taking place against the Angels at Jacobs Field in September 2004, play was stopped several times after players complained of swallowing the bugs while running the bases. The situation played out very similar on Friday, with the bugs ending up in players' mouths, eyes, noses...

The Indians have a commanding lead because they weren't affected the way the Yankees were. Still... just bizarre.

Oh well -- back to the friendly confines of Yankee Stadium. With Clemens and (God-willing) Chien Ming Wang going in games three and four against Jake Westbrook and Paul Byrd respectively, the Yankees still have a chance.

John Edwards: Draft Hypocrisy?

Why not? He's already a hypocrite on global warming.

Al Sharpton: Defender of Decency

Oh, brother:

The Rev. Al Sharpton is threatening a boycott of the Knicks unless coach Isiah Thomas apologizes to all women for suggesting he has no problem with calling a black woman a "bitch."

"We are calling on him to apologize because of what came out during the deposition... when he said it was all right for black men to call black women 'bitches,' " said Sharpton.

"It is inexcusable for any man of any race to call black wome

Michelle has a good summary of the Sharpton highlights. Until he apologizes for Tawana Brawley, he shouldn't be given the time of day.

Hooray! Weak Dollar Means Higher Prices, Less Choice

For years politicians have worried about the trade deficit. The answer from the economist has been two-fold:

  1. Don't worry; it won't last forever; and,
  2. The trade deficit will 'solve itself' when the dollar gets weak enough to drive up import prices so Americans can't afford as many imports.
Looks like politicians are getting their wish:

Weakness in the dollar means prices of imported goods, particularly oil, will go up, raising the risk of inflation. American consumers will be paying more soon, with the looming threat of paying even more later on.

"The inflation risk from higher import prices will be the dominant initial effect," said Howard Chernick, an economics professor at Hunter College in New York. "The most immediate effect is imports denominated in dollars -- mainly oil. We already saw a spike in oil prices. So a bit down the line, that's 10 to 15 cents more per gallon of gas at the pump."

A weaker dollar can help narrow the U.S. trade deficit by making America's exports more affordable abroad...

On the other hand, the pressure on the dollar is increasing the international buyout appeal of American companies and real estate -- and Main Street itself might end up on the auction block.

The weaker dollar will also affect Americans in the long term in ways they might not have even considered, if companies here have trouble affording capital goods.
Chernick cites as an example Europe's leadership in producing wind power technology. It's a cutting-edge niche market that is suddenly even more expensive for the U.S. energy industry as the euro gains more muscle.

"The cost of increased reliance on renewable energy just went up -- so more pressure to build more coal power plants," he says. The dynamic can have far-reaching consequences.

To be sure, the effect is not all one-sided. American exports become cheaper and more expensive, and foreign tourism to the US is likely to increase. However, a weak dollar and a narrowing trade deficit isn't something consumers should look forward to.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Influence Peddler on XM Radio

I'm pleased to let you know that I will make my first appearance on XM Radio's POTUS 08 Channel next Tuesday morning (October 9), at 7:45 am Eastern Time. The appearance should run about 15 minutes, unless I embarrass myself badly and get kicked out of the studio.

Whether or not you have the chance to listen, please call up afterward and tell them that I was witty and entertaining.

Doesn't Doctor Dean Know any Sick Kids?

Here's something funny. Go to istockphoto.com ('the world's preeminent collection of member-generated royalty-free images'), and enter the search term 'sick kid' -- with no quotes. What photo do you see on the second row of the search results, third from the left. Is it this one?



















Then head over to the Democratic Party site. Here's the front page -- in case it gets changed:




I thought the Democratic party had its hand firmly on the pulse of the neediest in our society? Kind-hearted Democratic activists have intimate knowledge of the health insurance challenges faced by the poor and near-poor in America.

Couldn't they get a real person for the picture on their website?


This isn't the first time the Democrats have showed a lack of familiarity with the inside of a doctor's office.

Major Hat Tip: Patrick Ruffini discovered this but didn't have time to write it up. Bookmarks his site and head over there often.

Gallup: Americans Back White House Plan for Iraq Drawdown

Read it at the Standard.

Is Mickey Kaus 'Twisted?'

If you enjoy Mickey Kaus, and if you enjoy the diavlogs that he does with Bob Wright, then check out this one. In particular, watch the segment labeled 'Mickey Upbeat on Iraq.' There's a 'Felix & Oscar' vibe going on, starting around the 12:50 mark, when Bob tries to diagnose Mickey's psychosis.

Bob: You say you oppose the war, but you spend all your time looking for evidence that the war is going OK. That's just weird.



Listen beyond that point for predictions about movie successes, and a discussion of whether Americans go to movies to be entertained, or reminded of their nightmares.

Story of the Day

Professional athletes are often seen as vain, greedy, primadonnas. The Colorado Rockies -- who seem poised to advance to the National League Championship Series -- have gone against type.

When a team makes the playoffs, it earns a 'bonus' from Major League Baseball, tied to how far the squad advances. The players decide among themselves who's entitled to a share of the pot. They award shares among players who spent the entire year with the team, players who were traded, trainers, etc.

The Colorado Rockies have voted to award a playoff share to the widow of a coach on one of the team's minor league affiliates, who was killed by a line-drive during a game:

On July 22, Double-A Tulsa coach Mike Coolbaugh, 35, died after being hit in the neck with a line drive while coaching.

Few players on the Rockies knew Coolbaugh, who joined the organization in early July, but last week, they unanimously voted his widow a full playoff share that could be more than $350,000 if the Rockies win the World Series.

"I'm completely shocked in a good way," Coolbaugh said. "I don't even know the correct words to use. I know Mike would feel very honored and proud. This would mean a lot to him, and it means a lot to our family."

Coolbaugh said her due date is in two weeks, but her "doctor was saying with stress and everything," the baby could arrive sooner. Mandy also is the mother of two sons, Joseph, 5, and Jacob, who turned 4 last month.

The boys will throw out the first pitch before Game 3 of the National League Division Series on Saturday at Coors Field...

Teams with a chance to play in the postseason typically meet late in the regular season to decide whom to allot full shares, partial shares and cash awards.

Rockies player representative Josh Fogg brought up the possibility of giving Mandy Coolbaugh a full share, although Fogg would not take credit for the idea.

"We felt as a team it was the right thing to do," Fogg said. "We're obviously happy with the decision."

I'm not sure that it's about the money -- although the pregnant widow of a career minor leaguer can probably use it. To me it's more about the fact that the team remembered and honored a guy that few of them ever met.

Good for the Colorado Rockies.

Kirk & Scotty (RIP) for Britain's PowerGen

Funny:

Congress to Allow New Internet Taxes?

Read it at the Standard.

Netroots Nightmare: O'Hanlon Teams Up with HRC

Read it at the Standard.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Something Light

Entertainment Weekly says that Peter Jackson may be about to agree to do the long-awaited 'Hobbit' movie:

At this writing, no agreements have been announced and details of the negotiations are sketchy (neither New Line nor Jackson's camp would comment to EW on any aspect of this story), but sources close to the talks tell us that they're detecting a lot less frost in the air, and that a deal may be reached that could help usher J.R.R. Tolkien's maiden Middle-earth masterpiece to screens before the end of the decade. ''There has been a d├ętente,'' says one insider. There is now the beginning of a discourse between Peter Jackson and New Line that's running parallel to the litigation proceedings.''

That provides a pretext for me to post the most bizarre video you'll see for a while:

Expect Craig to be Around for a While...

Senate Republicans look like they're split on calling for his resignation. And if Senator John Ensign is one of just a handful calling for him to leave, there's no reason for him to go:

National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Ensign (Nev.) on Thursday called for Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) to honor his original resignation speech and his personal commitment to Republicans that he would resign if the judge did not vitiate his guilty plea.

“He gave us his word that he would resign. ... I’m calling on Sen. Craig to keep his word,” said Ensign. “If he loves his party, and he loves the Senate, the honorable thing to do is to resign...”

However, Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) applauded his home-state colleague’s decision, saying he expected the Senate Ethics Committee to delay any probe until after Craig has exhausted his opportunities to appeal the judge’s ruling today.

“Like all citizens of this country, he has the right to vigorously defend his case,” said Crapo. “I look forward to working with him in the Senate...”

But Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), an early supporter of Craig’s legal strategy, said Craig’s offense was not “moral turpitude, and it’s not a basis for leaving the Senate.”

Senate Republican leaders, however, continued to deflect questions.

“This whole matter is before the Ethics Committee. So it will be dealt with I assume by Sen. Craig and the Ethics Committee,” Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said.
So John Ensign says he should quit, Arlen Specter and Mike Crapo say he should stay, and Mitch McConnell won't take a stand yet. According to The Hill, Trent Lott says essentially the same thing. If you're Larry Craig, do you feel any more uncomfortable than you did yesterday? I don't think so. If you're Craig, and you don't see 15 or 20 colleagues saying you should quit, there's no way you resign.

And if you're not going to resign -- if you think that Senate Republicans and the people of Idaho can live with you staying in the Senate -- then why rule out running for re-election? Why not test the appetite of the American people for redemptive stories?

The filing deadline for federal races in Idaho in 2008 is in March. So if Larry Craig doesn't quit now, why wouldn't he string this along until March -- at least -- to see if it looks like he might have any chance? Sure, Craig now says that he won't seek re-election but then, he said he was going to resign until he was surprised by the degree of support he received. Want to bet he'll be surprised by the support he receives in the next few months, too?

I fear this is going to go on for a while. If Larry Craig's Republican Senate colleagues aren't comfortable with that, the better follow John Ensign's lead.

Update: Read Michelle as well.

Update II: Mickey has the quote of the day:

It looks like the only Republican who's not quitting the Senate is Larry Craig.

Great.

Arthur C. Clarke on the Anniversary of Sputnik

A fascinating interview. Read the whole thing for insights into why it can be argued that we landed on the moon 50 years too early. Some other great items:

SPECTRUM: You, Frederick Durant, and Ernst Stuhlinger were all in Barcelona at an International Astronautical Federation meeting on 4 October 1957. What was your reaction when you got the news about Sputnik?

CLARKE: Although I had been writing and speaking about space travel for years, I still have vivid memories of exactly when I heard the news. I was in Barcelona for the 8th International Astronautical Congress. We had already retired to our hotel rooms after a busy day of presentations by the time the news broke. I was awakened by reporters seeking an authoritative comment on the Soviet achievement. Our theories and speculations had suddenly become reality!

I was a toddler when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, so Sputnik is decidedly before my time. I find it fascinating that Clarke at least, views Sputnik as a 'where were you when Kennedy was shot' moment. I recall vividly where I was when Reagan was shot, when the Challenger exploded, when Mark McGuire hit number 62, and when the 9/11 attacks occurred. Does it say more about Sputnik or Clarke that he recalls the circumstances so clearly?

[CLARKE]: The growth of space tourism will see not just quick orbital hops, but facilities for accommodation and recreation. In October 2006, the Arthur Clarke Foundation selected the American budget-hotelier Bob Bigelow for the Arthur C. Clarke Innovator Award for 2006—in recognition of his work in the development of space habitats. With the successful Russian launch of Bigelow Aerospace’s Genesis 1, Bob is leading the way for private sector individuals willing to advance space exploration with minimum reliance on government programmes. Bob firmly believes in bringing space closer to people’s lives, and Genesis 1 represents the first step in expandable habitats suited for industrial, commercial and recreational purposes.

SPECTRUM: You have lived to see one of your key ideas—geosynchronous satellites—come to fruition. Another idea of yours—the Space Elevator—is coming closer to reality. Do you have any further thoughts on the Space Elevator?

CLARKE:

...What makes the Space Elevator such an attractive idea is its cost-effectiveness. A ticket to orbit now costs tens of millions of dollars (as the millionaire space tourists have paid). But the actual energy required, if you purchased it from your friendly local utility, would only add about hundred dollars to your electricity bill. And a round-trip would cost only about one tenth of that, as most of the energy could be recovered on the way back!

Once it is built, the Space Elevator could be used to lift payloads, passengers, pre-fabricated components of spacecraft, as well as rocket fuel up to Earth orbit. In this way, more than 90 per cent of the energy needed for the exploration of the Solar System could be provided by Earth-based energy sources. When the Space Elevator becomes a reality in the coming decades, the most expensive components of orbital travel will be in-flight movies and catering.

I believe him.

I consider myself blessed that I will (God willing) live to see much more of this accomplished than will Clarke. But there's no doubt that he will have dreamed and imagined far more than my eyes will behold.

Larry Craig Resignation Watch Back On

(Update: Expulsion Watch!)

The Politico reports that a Minnesota judge has denied the request of Senator Larry Craig to withdraw his infamous guilty plea:

"Because the defendent's guilty plea was accurate, voluntary and intelligent, and because the conviction is supported by the evidence, the defendent's conviction for disorderly conduct occuring on June 11, 2007 in the men's public restroom at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport in Bloomington, Hennpin County, Minnesota, is valid," Judge Charles A. Porter wrote in a 27-page opinion released at 1:40 p.m.

Senator Craig intended to resign September 30, but deferred while his attempt to overturn the plea was pending. Does this mean his resignation is forthcoming?

It's my understanding that Craig is entitled to appeal the decision, but he's given no indication as to whether he would. Hopefully this can be merciful and quick.

Update: More at CNN.

Update II: Larry Craig is not resigning:

Idaho Sen. Larry Craig defiantly vowed to serve out his term in office on Thursday despite losing a court attempt to rescind his guilty plea in a men's room sex sting.

"I have seen that it is possible for me to work here effectively," Craig said in a written statement certain to disappoint fellow Republicans who have long urged him to step down.

This is sure to bring a push for explusion.

Ogonowski for Congress

Michael Barone would not be surprised if Jim Ogonowski upsets Niki Tsongas in the special election to succeed Marty Meehan:

If this election had been held in November 2006, Tsongas would have won by a solid margin. And she may still do that October 16. The SurveyUSA poll result would translate to a 53-to-42 percent Tsongas victory. A closer result would signal that the political environment has changed since November 2006, that the poor job ratings of the Democratic Congress have become more important to voters in House elections than the poor job ratings of the soon-to-depart George W. Bush.

I have written that we are in a period of open-field politics, a period like that of 1990-95, when incumbency became a liability more than an asset, when people crossed party lines back and forth and supported independent candidacies, when old rules of thumb no longer applied. Much of Washington would be stunned if a Republican won a House seat in Massachusetts. If that should happen, that's not necessarily a forecast of 2008: Voters in special elections know that they're voting for just one member and that their vote won't change which party controls the House. But it would signal that we're in a period of turbulence, as we were in 1990 and 1992, when incumbents of both parties saw their percentages fall. And it would suggest that the issues of taxes and immigration, which didn't work for Republicans in 2004 and 2006, might work for them in 2008.

HuffPo Hates the Troops

Read it at the Standard.

2008 Convention Logos

Jim Geraghty evaluates the GOP and Democratic logos for their 2008 conventions. Go read the whole thing; I want to make just one observation.

Look at the Democratic logo and tell me what jumps out at you
















I think they did a great job on the zero in '08.' It was the first thing that drew my eye -- a nice subliminal message.

Who mocked up the graphics for them -- Karl Rove?

Update: More on the GOP logo here.

Congratulations to John Murtha!

The most powerful porker in Congress!


Check the report from CNBC.

Yesterday in a conversation with several Members of Congress, I criticized House Republicans for failing to do more to reduce or eliminate the number of earmarks in legislation, and the total value of such earmarks. That criticism is valid, I think. But while I want Congress to 'run' when it comes to disclosing and debating earmarks, the Democrats are making it nearly impossible to walk.

And frankly, Democrats have in nine months in the majority already racked up an impressive number of stories about abuses of power -- from earmarks, to fundraising, to perks... It seems that it won't be difficult next year to use noteworthy Democrats like Speaker Pelosi and John Murtha to drive up turnout. Their names are quickly becoming as infamous on the Right as Newt and DeLay were on the Left. That ought to scare Democrats.

A little more for your viewing pleasure:

Guns Prevent Crime

Gotta love a story with a happy ending like this one:

Always carrying a gun because this is the third time in three months, Rob's home has been broken into. One window is still boarded up from the last time it happened.

“Why me? I don't know,” said Rob. “There are no street lights out here; it's pretty desolate.”

And it was pretty quiet early this morning until around 3:15 a.m. when a burglar broke his living room window and climbed in. Little did he know Rob heard the noise and was inside waiting.

“So I step out from behind the wall and say ‘you're a dead man.’ He screams as loud as he can, drives through the window and takes off running,” said Rob.

He ran so fast he left his car in the driveway, the engine still running.

The would-be thief was arrested a little while later.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Fred Thompson: A Gaffe, or a Joke?

MSNBC's First Read captures what looks like a slip by Senator Thompson:

“The president called me up and asked me to help shepherd judge John Roberts’ nomination through the Senate confirmation process. I was honored that I got that call. I was honored that he thought I had enough friends on the Democratic side that they wouldn't run me out of town!

“We fought hard against each other, but I always thought that we had mutual respect. And that's what it takes.
“Even though the other party controlled the Judiciary committee, we got some votes there. For a good, sound, what I would call conservative justice.”

Obviously, the GOP controlled the Senate in 2005. They had a 10-8 majority on the Judiciary Committee. The Committee Chair was Arlen Specter, who infuriated conservatives with his handling of the committee. Many felt that Specter let Pat Leahy (the ranking Democrat) and other Democrats run roughshod over the Republican majority.

If you don't recall this, check out National Review's the Corner for the period in question. Look at this post from John Miller in November, 04:

Republicans increased their control of the Senate this week, but if they make Arlen Specter chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, they may effectively lose control of the judicial nominating process. It's amazing how President Bush pulled this guy over the finish line in April, when he was nearly defeated in a primary, and now Specter is issuing threats to the White House on judges. Specter is probably entering his final term now, which means that he's completely unaccountable to anybody. Watch out.

Or from Mark Levin in October 2005:

Specter on 10/11/05 (AP): "Conservatives are giving President Bush an unfair 'pummeling' over his selection of Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court, Senate Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter said Tuesday. ... The nomination has drawn criticism from conservatives who say Miers lacks proven conservative credentials and a judicial background. They want more information on whether she would vote to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion. 'I'm really sorry that on doctrinal grounds they don't understand that she cannot tip her hand on Roe. I really think ... they're failing to understand a very basic constitutional principle of judicial independence,' Specter, R-Pa., said in an interview with reporters and editors from The Associated Press."

And this from Kathryn Lopez -- January, 2005:

Arlen Specter makes the wife of a former Pa. Democratic congressional candidate general counsel for the Judiciary Committee.

I look to National Review because they were the clearest voice in 2005 about how conservatives viewed Specter's leadership of the Committee. If you ask the team at the Corner, they will tell you that Fred Thompson is absolutely right. It might have been a mistake on Thompson's part, but he could be forgiven for not remembering that the Republicans were nominally in control.

The Complex Situation In Nigeria... or Niger

'I don't agree with what I just said'


In The Know: Situation In Nigeria Seems Pretty Complex

Draft Gore

A bunch of Californians have apparently gotten together to try to put Al Gore on the California presidential primary ballot.

While liberals often seem to be down on the United States, it's clear at least that these are 'American exceptionalists.' The slogan is 'Save America; Save the World' -- which almost reminds you of Lincoln's 'last, best hope' line.

Here's the site frontpage:
















I said a while ago that if Hillary developed a strong lead and appeared inevitable, there would be more clamoring for a 'real liberal' like Al Gore to run. Looks like we are seeing that here.

The liberal site Raw Story says:

Capitalizing on a provision of the state election law which allows for any name to be placed on a ballot provided enough signatures in favor of that candidate are secured, volunteers will begin scrambling next week to get 26,500 registered Democrats -- 500 from each of California's 53 congressional districts -- to sign off on the former vice president before a Dec. 4 deadline.

If all goes well, Gore's name will appear on ballots throughout the state when California's presidential primary is held in February of next year.

It would certainly make the race more entertaining. Get to work, Californians!

By the way, like the theft from 'Heroes?'

Obey's Promise on Iraq Funding: Less than Meets the Eye

Read it at the Standard.

Is Rudy the Republican With Coattails?

Roll Call considers the question of which nominee would be the greatest help to Republicans running for the House or Senate:

Already, the battle for the House is shaping up to be waged largely in suburban districts in the Northeast and Midwest. Additionally, the top targets in the Senate are Republicans representing Democratic-leaning states like Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire and Oregon.

Backers of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R), who continues to lead the GOP field in most national polls, say he is the best-positioned candidate to appeal to the more moderate electorate in those areas...

Meanwhile, supporters of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) are more apt to argue that the top of the Republican ticket will have little impact downballot, and some say it shouldn’t be among the top criteria when choosing a nominee.

“Whoever is on the ballot opposite Hillary Clinton is going to ride a huge wave of popular support as the anti-Hillary,” said Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), who is backing Romney.

He added that either Romney or Giuliani “is going to do very well in the South” as the party’s nominee...

Too conservative a nominee could easily damage the chances of a vulnerable Senator running in a swing state, while a more moderate White House hopeful — such as Giuliani — could actually boost those incumbents’ odds at re-election.

Sen. Norm Coleman (Minn.), who is among the GOP’s most threatened Senators in 2008, said Giuliani would clearly be an asset to his campaign and that “there’s no question [Giuliani] has a chance to win Minnesota...”

There are eight House Republicans whose districts were carried by Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) in the 2004 presidential race. Giuliani has been endorsed by four of them, including Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.).

Dent said one of his reasons for endorsing Giuliani was that he believed he would be the best person to run with in his Democratic-leaning district.
Can anyone make the argument that the 'Rudy has the longest coattails' thinking is wrong?

Let's run through some thoughts -- with the stipulation that I am working with a very broad brush here. First off, I think it's likely that if Hillary is the Democratic nominee, the GOP base will turn out. Anyone hard-core conservatives not terrified at the thought of President Hillary are likely to be scared by November, 2008.

Second, because hard core conservatives are likely to come to the polls, a candidate perceived to be a traditional conservative probably won't bring all that many 'new' voters to the Republican line. (IE, Mitt Romney can't help the GOP hold Ray LaHood's seat.) Thus, only a true moderate like Rudy is likely to have long coattails.

Therefore, Rudy IS the candidate best positioned to help Republicans running in swing districts and states outside the South.

A caveat: I fear that Fred Thompson is the only Republican candidate who is not truly susceptible of a complete meltdown on election day. McCain could lose in a landslide because of his age and temper. Romney could get trounced because of his religion and because of his dramatic transformation from moderate to conservative. Rudy could get trounced because of his peculiar personal history and because he differs from the base on key issues. So if you want a candidate who is virtually assured of performing 'respectably,' then Thompson is your guy.

And of course, if there is a Republican meltdown, then all bets about coattails are off.

One potential problem with this thinking. If the race comes down to Rudy vs. Hillary, will some conservative voters decide 'there's not a dime's worth of difference,' and stay home?

Yankees Face Red Sox; Cubs vs. Rockies

Update: ALL thinking Republicans MUST root for a Yankees-Cubs World Series, just to see Hillary Clinton's brain explode as she tries to decide whether to back her home-town team, or the one she adopted for political opportunity.

ESPN has run the four Major League Baseball division series one thousand times each, concluding that the Yankees and Red Sox are heavy favorites to reach the American League championship series. Over in the 'senior circuit,' the Cubs are heavily favored over the Diamondbacks, while Rob Bluey's Cinderella Rockies are a slight favorite over the come-from-behind Phillies.

It's fun to see the results of the simulation, but I don't expect things to play out that way.

As a Yankee fan, it will surprise no one that I foresee Alex Rodriguez overcoming his previous September swoons and establishing himself as 'A True Yankee.' The Yankees will avenge their 1997 loss by topping the Indians in four games -- with Joba Chamberlin making several appearances and continuing his dominance. They'll beat the Red Sox in six, having proven their ability to knock around most of the Sox starters, and Josh Beckett can't pitch every game.

Over in the National League, I think it's a Philadelphia year. Phillies over Rockies in five, while the Cubs top the Diamondbacks in four. (How sad that former Yankee Randy Johnson won't get the chance to take the mound.) Then the Phillies will earn their first Series trip since 1993 by beating the Cubs in six.

The Series? Yankees over Phillies in five. And Jorge Posada is the Series MVP.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Is the MSM Hiding the Good News from Iraq?

Nah... couldn't be.

Hillary's Plan: We Claim We Want to Cover Kids...

Then Institute Full-Blown Government-Run Health Care:

Capitol Hill is abuzz today as a result of revelation of a 1993 Hillarycare task force memo that describes the Kids First proposal that is clearly the model for the current State Childrens Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) as a "precursor" to a universal coverage, single-payer system - i.e. socialized healthcare.

Politico has an excellent report this morning on the development, noting that:

"And one of the key options was creating a state-run health plan for children who didn’t qualify for Medicaid but were uninsured.
"That idea sounds a lot like the current State Children’s Health Insurance Program, which was eventually created by the Republican Congress in 1997.

“'Under this approach, health care reform is phased in by population, beginning with children,' the memo says. 'Kids First is really a precursor to the new system. It is intended to be freestanding and administratively simple, with states given broad flexibility in its design so that it can be easily folded into existing/future program structures.'”

I'm shocked... SHOCKED! that HillaryCare represented nothing more than the camel's nose under the tent!

Heh, heh

Calling Jesse Jackson...

Democrats Increase Domestic Spending; Propose Tax Increases for 'the War'

Read it at the Standard.

Washington Post Polls Democrats; Shows Support for Iraq Mission

Read it at the Standard.

Nancy Pelosi: 'Brilliant Political Tactician'

The Hill features a disarming little profile of George Miller (D-CA), and it made me laugh. I had to share it:

“George Miller brings to the Congress enormous intellect, commitment and compassion,” Pelosi said. “He is a stalwart champion for the environment, for the working men and women of our country, and for our children.”

Both are considered brilliant political tacticians...

When Pelosi forcefully backed Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) for majority leader, Miller spent that damp and chilly Sunday after the Nov. 6 election drumming up support for Murtha from the new Democratic lawmakers at the Capitol Hilton Hotel on New Jersey Avenue.

Throwing her organizational support to Murtha proved to be a gross miscalculation; now-Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) trounced Murtha. Ever the pragmatist, Miller congratulated Hoyer in front of the entire caucus and suggested meeting later to discuss the future and how they would operate in the majority. A cordial and productive meeting eventually took place, Democratic leadership aides said.

Yes. Ms Pelosi is certainly a brilliant political tactician. She appointed Rahm Emanuel chair of the DCCC -- an extremely wise move. She insisted that House Democrats have no agenda beyond '6 in 06,' so that Republicans would have nothing to criticize (but Democrats would have no mandate). She played a game of brinkmanship with the President over Iraq, that seems to be leading to primaries against a number of House Democrats.

And her hand-picked choice for Majority Leader got thrown back in her face by the Democratic conference. She's definitely brilliant. You know, like Forrest Gump.

Maps I Like

Chris Bowers at OpenLeft has been preparing electoral maps for the 2008 presidential election, based on the current results of Survey USA polling. Approximate predictive value of these polls? Virtually zero. I think that the 2004 electoral map probably tells you more about the 2008 election than will polls of registered voters, with small sample sizes, more than a year before the election -- and months before we know the nominees.

That said, the maps with Giuliani as the nominee don't look that bad:



Bowers' maps (and Survey USA's polls) show Giuliani beating both Obama and Edwards. Of the leading Republican contenders, he holds Hillary to the lowest vote total. But he still loses.

The general election is a long way off.

Democrats Seize on Limbaugh to Distract from their Iraq Surrender

Read it at the Standard.

Why is Joe Biden Running for President?

He seems to think he's already got the power that's supposed to go with the office:

Biden, who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, hit back.

"Other Iraqi politicians have said we have no right to tell the Iraqis [what to do]," Biden told reporters. "Let me tell you, we have a right. Three thousand and eight hundred dead. Twenty seven thousand wounded. Billions of dollars. Let me tell you as President of the United States, they'd have to understand full well that if they don't keep their commitment to implement their constitution then they're on their own. And so, ladies and gentlemen, the idea that al Maliki questions whether or not we have a right to express our opinion, he'd better get it straight real quick."

So Biden favors a partition of Iraq. President Bush -- the current Commander in Chief -- opposes the partition. There's a strong chance that he'll veto the defense authorization bill that may or may not carry Biden's partition amendment. Whose policy is likely to get implemented?

This is reminiscent of what Biden told Ambassador Crocker in July:

The second point is, with all due respect to everyone who has talked about this, you heard from my colleagues, we're not staying, Mr. Ambassador. We're not staying. You don't have much time and there's not much you can do about it, I know. So we need to begin to make this the world's problem...

But bottom line, Mr. Ambassador, you're a very skilled diplomat, a professional, you've been around a long time. I promise you, old buddy, forget what Joe Biden says. Listen to the Republicans. We ain't staying. We're not staying. We're not staying. Not much time. Political benchmarks better be met or we're in real trouble, because we will have traded a dictator for chaos, notwithstanding all your incredible efforts.

And with that, Mr. Ambassador, if you'd like to make a quick closing comment, the floor is yours. And I'm going to have to go leave and vote and I'll be in touch with you by plain old telephone personally, if I can.

Does Biden realize that he comes across as a pompous, condescending, ineffectual ass?

At least he got one thing right: Crocker needn't have bothered listening to him.

Hat Tip: RedState

Update: See also Gateway Pundit

Has John DePetro Been Listening to John Edwards?

I have no idea who John DePetro is, but Media Matters seems to be angry with him for suggesting that white people only go to Harlem for prostitutes and drugs:

Summary: On MSNBC Live with Dan Abrams, discussing Bill O'Reilly's recent controversial comments about his visit to Sylvia's restaurant in Harlem, Rhode Island radio host John DePetro stated: "It was a discussion on race and we're talking about Harlem. And by and large -- I lived in New York for years -- white people don't go to Harlem." He continued: "If Dan Abrams and John DePetro, Bill O'Reilly, some white guys are sitting around a table, and Dan Abrams said, 'Yeah, I was up in Harlem last night.' We would think you were either, a) looking for drugs, or, b) looking for a prostitute."

No word yet on whether Media Matters is similarly exercised about John Edwards' comment that young African-American males are headed for jail.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Mountain State Democrats Dreading Hillary as Nominee

In which Montana Democrats ask, 'what rough beast, its hour come round at last, slouches towards Denver to be born?'

From the Los Angeles Times:

The New York senator and Democratic front-runner was by a wide margin the most unpopular of 13 potential presidential candidates in Montana, according to a June survey by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research for the Billings Gazette; 61% said they would not consider voting for her, compared with 49% who would not vote for former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards and 45% who would not vote for Illinois Sen. Barack Obama. The most unpopular Republican candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, was rejected by 51%.

Recent polls in Colorado, Nevada and Arizona have found similar distaste for Clinton.

"She's carrying huge negatives out here," said Floyd Ciruli, an independent Colorado pollster who said Democratic congressional candidates would have to highlight their differences with the national party to be successful next year. "It's that liberal East Coast image that is so hard to sell in the West."

One key advisor to a prominent Democratic congressional candidate, who asked not be to identified discussing tensions within the party, went even further. "It's a disaster for Western Democrats," he said. "It keeps me up at night."

I think that Democrats will have a hard time defending Hillary in many swing regions. but I'm keeping my powder dry until I see how the Republican nominee fares. If it's Giuiani, I'm not sure that he will do appreciably better. Still, this is encouraging. Pair it with CQ's finding that Republicans appear to be sitting pretty in the South next cycle, and I'm not dreading a Hillary candidacy.

File this alongside the other stories that I and others have cited about the worry that down-ticket candidates have about running with Hillary. Also, which Democratic campaigns may be helping [lace these stories? After all, with her Democratic rivals seemingly unable to chip away at her lead, these independent stories about her high negatives and reverse coattails are the only drag on her candidacy right now.

On a sidenote, do LA Times reporters get credit for silly statements? They attempt to demonstrate Montana Governor Schweitzer's willingness to take a stand for civil liberties -- in implicit contrast to President Bush:

Perhaps no one is more of a poster child for that success than Montana's colorful governor, Brian Schweitzer. Three years ago, Schweitzer became the darling of Democratic politicos when he swaggered into office with a dog and a pair of cowboy boots.

Schweitzer, a cattle rancher and the grandson of homesteaders, is no Democrat in name only. He is a proponent of energy conservation and environmental regulation. He favors abortion rights. And while the Bush administration was pushing to expand surveillance powers with the Patriot Act, Schweitzer pardoned 78 Montanans, most of them German immigrants, who had been convicted of sedition during World War I.

Wow. Montana has a governor willing to take a bold stand in favor of those who might sympathize with Kaiser Wilhelm! I'm impressed.

The Hillary Cackle

Great item from Jon Stewart about Hillary. Is this really undoctored?



Hat Tip: Generalissimo Duane

Of course, this gives me a chance to link this awesome video from Frank J again:



Update: More at Slate; looks like I'm coming to it late.

House Democrats Go After Limbaugh

Read it at the Standard.

Earmark Recipients Come through for Chairman Reyes

Read it at the Standard.

Peace is Dangerous

Read it at the Standard.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Next Great Quarterback

Eleven years old is too early to herald a kid as the next can't-miss prospect:

"I know he's young but there's always an exception. He's the exception," says Steve Clarkson, who runs the Air 7 Quarterback University, a national camp for quarterbacks. "By no means would I recommend this for ten-year olds, but he's a special case..."

David Sills IV, the quarterback's father, won't say how much he has spends on his son's football education only saying, "It's fair to say that with the traveling back and forth, it's expensive." Clarkson generally tutors about a half dozen clients at a time, charging around $3,000 plus expenses to be flown in for one evaluation. After agreeing to coach the prospective student, he charges an additional $1,000 per four-hour lesson. Quarterbacks that attend the Air 7 camps pay $1,400 for four days of training.

"I'm not really a money-driven person," says Sills IV, a commercial developer and contractor. "It's not like I want to keep it and hoard it. If I can help [my children] achieve their goals, then why not? What else am I going to do with it? This is part of his growing up experience. Hopefully I won't have to pay for college someday."

Initially Clarkson, 45, didn't want to take on Sills. While working with Leinart prior to the NFL Draft two years ago, Clarkson continued to get phone calls from Sills IV before he finally called him back and said he would take a look at his son after he was done with Leinart's program.

"I was still very leery because I had not worked with a kid at this age before," says Clarkson, who was coached by Jack Elway, John Elway's father, and Dennis Erickson while he was a quarterback at San Jose State. "He had just turned 10, so he was really nine going on 10. I thought I could use this as sort of an experiment for myself to find out just how much information I can throw at a kid this young and how much he will retain."

Clarkson, who has coached about 25 Division I-A starting quarterbacks, was shocked with how much information Sills was able to retain and how many plays he was able to carry out on the field and agreed to take him on as a student. "He's studying far beyond his years at what he'll ever see at his level. Basically, it's like taking trig when you're in basic math," says Clarkson. "For him to be able to define the concepts and apply them is truly remarkable."

Even if this child is as gifted as Clarkson says that he is, 11 years old is too young to pressure a boy by calling him 'one of the greatest prospects ever.' Pro sports are littered with players unable to deliver on the expectations when they were drafted -- let alone seven years before they became eligible for the draft; years before they were old enough for high school.

For every LeBron James -- a highly-touted star when he had barely gotten into his teens -- there are dozens of Ryan Leafs, Tony Mandarichs, Blair Thomases, Brien Taylors, Shawn Abners, Alexandre Daigles... the list goes on and on. Why not give Sills a chance to develop in High School and college before labeling him as a 'great quarterback propect?'