Friday, February 29, 2008


Video clip from yesterday shows McCain telling an audience that he is a proud "conservative liberal Republican" -- um, I mean, conservative Republican. The more interesting Freudian slip in the same short clip is his promise to run a "dispirited campaign" -- one that is devoid of enthusiasm. That is his bigger shortcoming in my opinion.

Count on the foreign press to accurately summarize US politics.

The longer the Democratic race grinds on, the more entrenched the candidates may become in their populism. As America moves into the election proper, there is every likelihood that it will do so against a backdrop of worsening macroeconomic figures and rising numbers of house repossessions. Both John McCain and the Democratic nominee will then be chasing swing voters who are, typically, white working men—the type already prone to pessimism about their prospects. This group is not a natural part of Mr Obama's constituency and, if he were the nominee, he might well be tempted to keep the populism turned up high. If he were elected president, backed by a Democratic Congress with enhanced majorities, Mr Obama might well feel obliged to deliver on some of his promises. At the very least, the prospects for freer trade would then be dim.

The sad thing is that one might reasonably have expected better from Mr Obama. He wants to improve America's international reputation yet campaigns against NAFTA. He trumpets “the audacity of hope” yet proposes more government intervention. He might have chosen to use his silver tongue to address America's problems in imaginative ways—for example, by making the case for reforming the distorting tax code. Instead, he wants to throw money at social problems and slap more taxes on the rich, and he is using his oratorical powers to prey on people's fears.

Mr Obama advertises himself as something fresh, hopeful and new. But on economic matters at least he, like Mrs Clinton, has begun to look a rather ordinary old-style Democrat.

Still the best test of your appeal is whether you resonate with the average white guy. For all the talk of who is getting the women vote, the senior vote, the youth vote, the black vote, the Latino vote, the union vote, the Hollywood vote, still the most important voting bloc is the white guy vote, and although Obama delivers the standard populist message with more aplomb than most, white guys haven't respond very well to that message in our general elections.

Harold Ickes definitely doesn’t buy the argument that Mark Penn isn’t responsible for everything that has happened to the Hillary Clinton campaign.

“Mark Penn has run this campaign,” said Ickes in a brief phone interview this morning. “Besides Hillary Clinton, he is the single most responsible person for this campaign.

“Now, he has been circumscribed to some extent by Maggie Williams,” said Ickes, who then pointed out that that was only a recent development.

When asked about the assertion by one senior Clinton official the campaign was effectively run by committee, diluting Penn’s authority, Ickes was incredulous.

“I don’t know what campaign you’re talking about,” said Ickes. “I have been at meetings where he introduces himself as the campaign’s chief strategist. I’ve heard him call himself that many times, say, ‘I am the chief strategist.’”

Asked if Penn preferred the title of chief strategist to pollster, Ickes said, “Prefer it? He insists on it!”

When asked if Penn was therefore responsible for the campaign’s strategy, Ickes said, “It’s pretty plain for anyone to see that he has shaped the strategy of the campaign. He has called the shots.”

“Mark Penn,” he said, “has dominated the message in this campaign. Dominated it.”

For conservatives, the result in November will be scary at worst and bittersweet at best, but at least we can look back at how America turned its back on the Clintons. Like many losers before them they are convinced that their defeat was a result of strategy. The message was wrong or they didn't get it out.

Mark Penn is a pollster and the Clintons have always been driven by polls. But Hillary wass incapable of changing voters perception of her by following the polls. Voters have been down the road with her too often to let her re-invent herself.

Rank and file Democrats went with the blank slate instead, fostered by the feel-good racial cleansing that the Clinton taught them. The idea that some strategist could pin a specific message on her and people would vote based on that message is hubris. A fresh message doesn't work with a stale candidate.

Ickes also took umbrage at the suggestion of one Clinton campaign official that he had mismanaged the campaign’s money and deprived Clinton the resources to compete in states after February 5.

“We invested a huge amount of money in February 5 states,” said Ickes, arguing that anyone who suggested he had wasted the campaign’s money was “talking with no knowledge.”

“I don’t know what they’re basing this statement on but they have not one fact to stand on,” he said.

The article doesn't mention the $100,000 the campaign spent at the Bellagio living it up. But even still, hers wasn't a problem of money either. McCain's campaign has been broke several times. Huckabee didn't have much scratch. Romney had a big coffer. Ron Paul raised more funds than any of them.

The Republicans learned that money wasn't going to buy familiarity and Democrats learned that money couldn't change familiarity.

The toughest thing for candidates is being honest with themselves about who they are. The ones with the best sense of self seem to overcome the ones trying to get their message out.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

William F. Buckley 1925-2008

I was first saw Buckley in a TV ad plugging National Review magazine. Rather than use the word “conservative” he said the magazine approached the news from a decidedly different perspective, one that might be like my own. What struck me most was how intelligent he seemed. I was in my last year of college and felt that I didn’t really get much of an education. My time inthe library was spent reading about the Marx Brothers and Alfred Hitchcock.

I went to this newsstand on Palafox Street a few doors down from the PLT and they had the magazine. Buckley had stepped down as editor the year before but still owned and wrote for the magazine. The new editor, John O’Sullivan, dedicated the totality of this particular issue to an essay (later a book) by Buckley about anti-Semitism and whether certain public figures or organizations were anti-Semitic. The essay made me think harder and consider ideas at a time when I was really in need of it. It wasn’t a few months before I was subscribing.

Before National Review my conservatism was based on lessons from my father running his business and the problems he ran into placating the government. National Review explained how the Federal Government was still at it and worse than ever. It also taught me language. I had to read it with a dictionary to understand it back then.

Soon I began watching Firing Line. I still have a few episodes on tape. He would interview thoughtful people and talk about ideas. Like the magazine he was frequently funny. I remember he hosted a lady who wrote a book about what women should know about their husband’s money. He ended the show by saying the title “What every woman should know about their husband’s money” and then threw in, “except my wife.”

The first time I saw Peggy Noon was on Firing Line. I had an immediate crush on her. They talked about her book “What I Saw at the Revolution” and Bill asked her to contrast the Reagan and Bush White Houses. I went out and picked up the book that week and I’ve read it several times since. Peggy wrote in the book about how her friend’s mother subscribed to National Review. Her reaction to it mirrored my own.

Another guest was Mortimer Adler, the editor of the Great Books of the Western World. I read a few of his books and bought a set of the Great Books a few years later.

I also started buying and reading Bill’s books. I counted this evening and I have 29 books by Bill Buckley, the most of any author on my shelf. Some are on politics, some are autobiographical and others are novels. My favorites are his books from the 1960s. I particularly like his memoir “The Unmaking of a Mayor.” Another book, “Cruising Speed” documented a single week in his busy life. Rush recommended a Buckley book this afternoon and Amazon is now sold out coincidently. You'll find my review from 2000 if you scroll down that page.

This past weekend I remembered a column collected in REFLECTION FROM A LIBERTARIAN JOURNLIST called "What if they were Nazis?" It was a cold war column about how the liberal media forgives every Marxist dictator now matter how brutal while patting itself on the back for opposing Hitler. I took the book up to the night shelf on Sunday meaning to re-read it, but got caught up in something else.

One of Buckley’s first accomplishments was being named editor of the Yale Daily News, a position that his younger brother Reid held a few years later. Reid now runs a school in South Carolina that teaches public speaking. He offered a bi-yearly course a few years ago meant to teach media professionals to be better communicators. I wrote the school to get the materials and tried to get my company to pay for me to attend. It was just too soon. The show was too new and I didn’t have enough support back then to pull it off.

Surprisingly one day I got a call from Reid personally asking me to attend. He sounded just like Bill without the stutter. He was warm and funny and I couldn’t believe that I was speaking to an actual Buckley. I told him that I was working on the powers that be to send me. He said that they should take into account that he had just recently been to Disney with all of his grandchildren and spent a great deal of money and that should count for something. We laughed together and I told him that I was working on it. He called a month or so later and left me a message. I had to call him back and say that I didn’t have any luck. I should have just paid for it myself, but I thought I could talk them into it in two years once our show was more established. The class was never presented again.

I would often get National Review offers to attend seminars where Bill was speaking, but I could never justify the travel and seminar cost and I now regret being so cheap. I did write Bill a few times though and he did once send me an autographed photo.

I remember reading last year that Buckley had said that he had done everything he could in this life and he was ready to die. I don't think I heard anyone ever say such a thing publicly. He was unique in many ways.

Despite all the moves in my life I have kept my old National Review magazines. They’re everywhere in the house now and too precious to ever let go of. I can thank Bill for teaching me to love learning and showing me the political light. I didn’t know him and yet he meant so much to me. God Bless you, Bill Buckley.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

NBC Dismisses Fall Debuts

It soon may be time to retire the phrase “fall television season.”

NBC Universal took a big step toward undoing one of the television industry’s oldest traditions by announcing Tuesday that it would move to a year-round schedule of staggered program introductions. The move is intended to appeal to advertisers, who crave fresh content to keep viewers tuned in.

And if it succeeds — and leads other broadcast networks to shift from their focus on a mass introduction of new shows — it could alter an American cultural cycle that extends all the way back to the days of radio, when families gathered around the Philco every September, as the school year began, to sample the new entertainment choices.

“We absolutely think this is going to change the industry,” said Michael Pilot, the head of sales for NBC.

The industry changed a few years ago when cable TV adopted this technique which is a copy of the British style of programming. NBC is pretending to have invented it.

One problem the networks continue to have is their strategy of copycat programming instead of innovation. Too many doctor shows, too many law shows. Medium begets the Ghost Whisperer.

Another problem is their insistence of stretching the material into 22 episodes a year versus 13 on cable. I think this alone results in better considered plots and resolutions on cable. The Sopranos stretched their last season into 2 parts and 21 episodes and the first half of that season was entirely throw away, much like certain story lines in other shows.

The third problem for networks is people can watch shows in so many ways now. I never see an advertiser. I'll watch TV mostly on DVD or time shift to Tivo out the commercials. Reality shows and sports are the last vestige of water cooler talk. Everything else is at the consumer's convenience.

People want what they want, when they want it, and at a price they are willing to pay. The old Network TV model forced consumers to chase them. Technology has evened the playing field. Network TV must serve the viewer in order to survive.

Friday, February 22, 2008


I've gotten hooked lately on, online Anonymous postings. You know, the sort of posts that are sometimes part of a discussion on most any You Tube Type video or perhaps news post. I've noticed that most posts (especially You Tube) tends to be of the lower common denominator type. Certainly not part of the lofty intellectual discourse that has become a standard on Junto Boys. However, on occasion I'll have a discussion that turns out to be of some note. One such post was on YouTube responding to a Zucker Brothers ultra right wing video that went as follows (I'm posting as William by the way).

slippywhistle (1 week ago) Show Hide

This video sucks. Ass. If this drivel is an example the kind of political
discussion Americans can handle, then the experiment is over. This is the type
of crap that can suck your brain out, take a dump on it, then smear the rest
onto a piece of moldy bread.

(1 week ago) Show Hide
Reply Spam
It's called humor, my friend. It's also parody protected by the first
amendment of the US Constitution, perhaps you should read the "Bill of Rights."

(1 week ago) Show Hide
Reply Spam
Hey moron, I never said it should be outlawed, only that its unfunnyness is only
rivaled by cholera in children. And if you actually laugh at this poorly made
drivel, then you are as stupid as your comment would suggest.

williamspear2 (1 week ago) Show Hide
Reply Spam
This is not how Jesus wants us to act. Let's all take a breath and love one
another, otherwise the terrorists really win.

Reply Spam
Now THAT was funny!


It is season seven and I've never watched the show before but thanks to the combined influences of the writers' strike and my daughter's fascination with pop music, I am hooked. We love to watch game shows in general and the kids really enjoy Don't Forget the Lyrics, so we extended our reach to include the soap opera that is Idol Season 7. The kids are learning classic tunes while I get to play critic and comment on the performances before the judges have their say.

The judges winnowed the field to the top 12 males and top 12 females before handing off judging duties to the public at large. I just went searching the net to see if there was a Vegas line on the remaining contestants. Vegas doesn't publish a line until the field is down to 12 but here is a line that comes out of Ireland:

David Archuleta 6-1
Alaina Whitaker 8-1
Michael Johns 8-1
Chikezie Eze 10-1
Brooke White 10-1
David Hernandez 10-1
Kristy Lee Cook 10-1
Kady Mallow 10-1
Carly Smithson 12-1
Asai'h Epperson 12-1
Danny Noriega 12-1
Luke Menard 14-1
Ramiele Malubay 14-1
Syesha Mercado 14-1
Amanda Overmyer 14-1
David Cook 14-1
Joanne Borgella 14-1
Jason Castro 16-1
Robbie Carrico 16-1
Amy Davis 18-1
Garrett Haley 18-1
Alexandrea Lushington 20-1
Jason Yeager 20-1
Colton Berry 25-1

The names in red are the contestants that were eliminated this week. If you don't follow the show, as I expect you don't, then this post has no relevance, except for I want to get on the record early as to who my favorites are so I can go back and review my opinions upon the coronation of the next American Idol.

My favorite player at this point is Michael Johns. He's handsome, he's laid back, he's got a great quality to his voice, and he's very comfortable on stage. Here's a guy who's going to have a recording career whether he wins this competition or not. Same for Alaina Whitaker. She seemed a ditz in the interview but then took the stage and sounded like she's been singing for 30 years, yet she is only a junior in high school.

David Archuletta is a sweet kid who will be in the top four, barring collapse - he's a natural. I think Chikezie is ranked way too high. He may not even make the top twelve. Same for David Hernandez, who is kind of a plain vanilla tenor. I really liked this week's performances from David Cook and Jason Castro. They both sounded fresh with their versions of tired sixties songs. The rest of the male field is uninspiring. Danny Noriega has a good voice, but his rendition of Jailhouse Rock was abysmal and he's such a sassy flamer that his personality will likely be his downfall.

There are a lot of girls to like but none of them really stands out above the others. Whitaker was far and away the best of the bunch this week, so we'll see if she can carry that forward. Brooke White has a wholesome Carly Simon vibe to her that works fine but might not allow her to stand out in a crowded field. Amanda Overmyer is the most unique, with her crunchy Janis Joplin style, but unless she proves herself on a power ballad eventually, she will not rise to the top.

Ramiele Malubay has the powerful voice in a petite package, a winning combo for Clay Aikens a few years back. She sounds consistently great and should make the final six at least. Kristy Lee Cook was unimpressive this week and she may fall by the wayside with another uninspiring outing next week. I liked Alexandrea Lushington's schtick even though Simon didn't. She had the voice, the outfit and the attitude all working. The girls are harder to handicap because there are no easy eliminations, so it will all depend on consistency, which should make Joe Morgan happy. So now you are up to date.

If you appreciate the semicolon -- and who doesn't? -- then this article's for you, about the impeccable use of one on a New York subway placard.

This was a witty line:

One of the school system’s most notorious graduates, David Berkowitz, the Son of Sam serial killer who taunted police and the press with rambling handwritten notes, was, as the columnist Jimmy Breslin wrote, the only murderer he ever encountered who could wield a semicolon just as well as a revolver. (Mr. Berkowitz, by the way, is now serving an even longer sentence.)

How to properly use a semicolon is a rule of English that I felt I never mastered. I have a very short list of memories from my senior year of high school, and one of them is pondering the markup of my English test on semicolons, which the record says I botched but I never quite agreed. In any event, the use of the semicolon is no longer taught as important, so that particular bit of ignorance has apparently become less limiting. What a relief; I can relax.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Michelle Malkin on Michelle Obama's comment.

I believe it was Michael Kinsley who quipped that a gaffe is when a politician tells the truth. In this case, it's what happens when an elite Democratic politician's wife says what a significant portion of the party's base really believes to be the truth: America is more a source of shame than pride.

For years, we've heard liberals get offended at any challenge to their patriotism. And so they are again aggrieved and rising to explain away Mrs. Obama's remarks.

Like Lady Macbeth, Lady Michelle and her defenders protest too much.

Mr. Obama has been getting a lot of credit for "staying on message." Staying on message means you keep saying what it's been agreed you will say. In this case a little truth slipped out and you can see how dangerous such a thing can be.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


Media Research Center has a great collection of video clips with U.S. reporters fawning over the dictator through the years. Here's their synopsis of a 2002 Report:
In May 2002, CNN sent correspondent Kate Snow to anchor an hour-long prime time Live From Havana, timed to the visit of ex-President Jimmy Carter. Snow fretted about the "hard line" policies and views of President Bush and exiled Cubans in Miami while hoping Carter’s visit might "moderate" the Cuban-Americans. She also touted the "successes" of life under Fidel Castro, admiring how, "according to a United Nations study, Cuba’s regular schools rank at the top in Latin America" and how "every Cuban has a primary care physician" who gets "to know their patients and even make house calls." She conceded that "Cuba may not have the nicest facilities or equipment," but she noted in praising the socialist ideals, "everyone has access and the concept of paying is completely foreign."

What good is literacy if the Cuban people are banned from ideas?

The last part about Cuba's fair medical system is unintentionally honest. Having nice facilities and equipment is the point of health care. Trading that for access is exactly what the Democrats want to do in America.
For a May 2002 Special Report, MRC analysts examined five years of CNN’s Cuban coverage. They found CNN aired six times more soundbites from communist leaders than from non-communist groups such as the Catholic Church and peaceful dissidents. Only about three percent of CNN’s Cuba coverage focused on Cuban dissidents, and less than one percent dealt with the harassment and intimidation of independent journalists in Cuba. Fidel Castro himself was treated more as a celebrity than a tyrant, with stories about his 73rd birthday party and an in-depth look at his office furnishings in a segment called "Cool Digs."

What a disgrace. Bush wants to listen to terrorists making phone calls and it's an end of liberty as we know it. Castro intimidates and jails journalists to the delight of CNN.

If we ever see a free Cuba CNN will disclose how they hid the real Cuba from the world in order to have access. I stopped watching CNN after they admitted doing that in Iraq during Saddam.

The only good the Obamas ever saw in this country was themselves. Well, congratulations.

Michelle Obama today said that “for the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country. And not just because Barack has done well, but because I think people are hungry for change. I have been desperate to see our country moving in that direction.”

Really proud of her country for the first time? Michelle Obama is 44 years old. She has been an adult since 1982. Can it really be there has not been a moment during that time when she felt proud of her country? Forget matters like the victory in the Cold War; how about only things that have made liberals proud — all the accomplishments of inclusion? How about the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1991? Or Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s elevation to the Supreme Court? Or Carol Moseley Braun’s election to the Senate in 1998? How about the merely humanitarian, like this country’s startling generosity to the victims of the tsunami? I’m sure commenters can think of hundreds more landmarks of this sort. Didn’t she even get a twinge from, say, the Olympics?

Mrs. Obama was speaking at a campaign rally, so it is easy to assume she was merely indulging in hyperbole. Even so, it is very revealing.
It suggests, first, that the pseudo-messianic nature of the Obama candidacy is very much a part of the way the Obamas themselves are feeling about it these days. If they don’t get a hold of themselves, the family vanity is going to swell up to the size of Phileas Fogg’s hot-air balloon and send the two of them soaring to heights of self-congratulatory solipsism that we’ve never seen before.

Second, it suggests the Obama campaign really does have its roots in New Class leftism, according to which patriotism is not only the last refuge of a scoundrel, but the first refuge as well — that America is not fundamentally good but flawed, but rather fundamentally flawed and only occasionally good. There’s something for John McCain to work with here.

And third, that Michelle Obama — from the middle-class South Shore neighborhood of Chicago, Princeton 85, Harvard Law 88, associate at Sidley and Austin, and eventually a high-ranking official at the University of Chicago — may not be proud of her country, but her life, like her husband’s, gives me every reason to be even prouder of the United States.

Obama's hate-America disclosure is classic leftthink, rarely spoken aloud. I know you have to have massive ego drive to seek the White House, but you're supposed to appear at least a little self-effacing, aren't you? It's Plato's Republic: because I've given it so much thought, and because I'm clearly so very competent, the best person to rule over you is me, so hand over the keys, you ignorant rubes.

Saturday, February 16, 2008


1. Thanks to the "Juntoboys" for inspiring me to continue my research on Prisoner Re-Entry. I am now writing a proposal with a collaborator I found at the University. We are putting together a research project to study some of the ideas I developed and test them for effectiveness. This is very exciting as this will likely turn into funded and publishable research.

2. I've been reading a lot lately about Neuropsychology (a new and growing field). Particularly I am currently reading research on The Neuropsychology behind Paranormal Experiences. This field was evidently pioneered by Michael A. Persinger, Ph.D. who also invented a crazy contraption called the "God Helmet." The God-Helmet introduces ultra low frequency pulses of Electro-Magnetic energy into the temporal lobes of the brain. This device is devised so that it will induce religious/paranormal experiences in those who wear it. Among reported experiences are the feeling that someone is watching you, feelings of oneness, feelings of being pulled from the inside, fear, anger, joy, and a variety of other emotions. Persinger believes that stimulation of the temporal lobes is what causes mystical experiences as well as Alien abduction reports. I've got the plans for this helmet and am currently building one for my own experiments.

3. I've been tasked with teaching more diversity courses now. Apparently my students love my "refreshing right wing approach" (as one student evaluation put it) to diversity areas such as Cross cultural psychology, Psych of Women, and Psych of Racism.

4. What if McCain asks Barak Obama to be his Vice-President, which was earlier suggested in this blog by "E" I believe. Would that collapse the ends of the Bell Curve (ultra right conservatives and ultra liberals) creating a new coalition of moderates, independents, and the like? Are we in for a major political transformation of the cultural landscape? All pundits seem aghast.

5. If social intelligence or emotional intelligence is a valid construct, then evidently there must be Emotional Genius'. If so, what would they look like? What would an Emotional Einstein be like? Would they be master manipulators able to inspire or corrupt or whisper and control at will? Sounds like a cool power. Perhaps that is what the great leaders and politicians were.

6. The recent book "Love and Sex with Robots" is quite fascinating. I've been waiting for the Robot Women and Flying cars all my life. This books central thesis is that as robots become more and more human like, we will eventually begin using them for intimate practices as well. It makes sense since the average Joe/Jane uses a computer and a variety of mechanical aids currently to enhance carnal pleasure. It would be nice in some ways because the Robot Woman would not nag, nor divorce, nor spend you into bankruptcy. It's all very interesting. I suppose the sophisticated enough Robot woman could be intellectually stimulating (since she would have a internet enabled brain and therefore access to the sum total of human knowledge) plus physically arousing since presumably some basic psychology tests could discern the exact physical type you would be interested in. Human women may be jealous at first or not allow this at all (just as many now rally against Porn and such) while others would view the Robot Woman as simply an appliance and would likely welcome this addition which could help "fill the void" between love making sessions and thus help curb her Human Husbands desire to cheat. Since the Robot Woman would be learning enabled and adaptive, she would continue to get better with each session and could create both variety as well as become a teacher to the human couple or even live-aid for the ultimate "threesomes."

Beleaguered by hedge fund shareholders angry at the dismal performance of the New York Times Company, Pinch Sulzberger has opted to nominate two new directors for the company's board. Unfortunately for him, the paper is already on the record savaging companies on whose boards these two directors have already served. The New York Sun has a brilliant editorial this morning pointing out Pinch's proclivity for hypocrisy:

One director worked for Wal-Mart, the other Chevron. What they have in common is making money, something the Times hates, except in their own case.

Friday, February 15, 2008


Upper Deck decided to have some fun with the upcoming election by printing cards with the major candidates inserted into great moments from baseball history. Since Hillary Clinton is the only woman to grace either the presidential field or the playing field, they were unsure how to incorporate her into a baseball scene. While Chicagoan Barrack Obama became Jermaine Dye and John McCain became Ted Williams, Clinton became Morganna the Kissing Bandit, wearing tight green 1971-style shorts and planting a kiss on an unexpecting Pete Rose. Oops, the card didn't go over well with the focus group and was subsequently pulled from production, but not before an indeterminate number was shipped to become the hottest card since 1906 Honus Wagner.
"Hillary Rodham Clinton and Morganna Roberts, baseball's infamous 'Kissing Bandit,' share a similar life strategy: go after what you want and get it!" the card reads. But unlike Roberts, who would dash onto ballfields and kiss players during games, it credits Clinton for generating headlines with "her reforms, initiatives and current bid for the 2008 Democratic Presidential nomination."

The Bucs invite me today to "cheer on Adam LaRoche and [my] Pirates in 2008." LaRoche hit .272 last year with 21 HRs and 88 RBIs.* He has 830 career ABs. He is signed to a one-year contract. Another tough year for their marketing department.

*I still say RBIs with an s. An RBI is a unit, two of them are units.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


Today, I ate asparagus and beets. Tonight, I had stinky orange pee.

I watched most of the Clemens/McNamee hearing yesterday. There were some classic moments and it was interesting viewing. I have linked to a great article in which an expert on body language takes Roger to task for exhibiting all the signs of deception while the shady McNamee remained calm and composed. I won't bother summarizing it as you should read it in its entirety.

Chelsea severs Obama's head with optical laser rays.

Following up on Tom's observation about liberals' proclivity to talk up causes but not personally help actual humans who need help, I saw this prominent billboard on the New Jersey Turnpike near Newark.

Best I can tell, the American Humanist Society is looking to collect dues, sell books and T-shirts, and buy more billboards to collect more dues and sell more T-shirts. They can say whatever they like and they're free to make a buck, but who is helped by this? What is the cause that is being advanced?


Steven Spielberg has left the Olympic Committee to protest China’s actions in Darfur.
"At this point, my time and energy must be spent not on Olympic ceremonies, but on doing all I can to help bring an end to the unspeakable crimes against humanity that continue to be committed in Darfur,"

Do you think he will literally spend the same time helping Darfur or is it a rhetorical device to say so? Could Spielberg make a movie powerful enough to changes hearts and minds in China?

The episode brings up the larger question of how many human rights do people deserve. China has been violating the rights of their own people for much longer. Why wasn’t that too much for Spielberg?

Those on the Left have for a long time championed underdogs real and imagined. They have marched and spoke and raised money to help oppressed people the world over. And yet when George Bush invades Iraq and brings about real freedom, he is treated like megalomaniac emperor. It’s baffled me since the beginning of this war.

When I heard the first protests against going into Iraq they were usually from the kind of people who want to go into other places. Maybe the Left isn’t interested in liberating the oppressed if it serves another American interest. That’s why Haiti and Bosnia are fine, but Iraq is not. Their thinking seems to be: Since Bush is not a member of the Left, he cannot possibly care about the oppressed, so therefore his actions can only be seen as self-interest and thus ignoble.

I think Bush is sincerely happy that oppressed people lose their shackles, but if we take Bush from their perspective, there should at least be an acknowledgment that his self-interest has led to more not less human freedom. What does it matter his reasoning if the end result is a positive. Isn’t Bush’s actual freedom of more value than Carter’s pining away for it while the Iranians took our hostages and the Russians invaded Afghanistan?

An honest conclusion one could draw from liberal opinion is that it’s better to offer empty support for human freedom in the world unselfishly than provide human freedom selfishly.

Conservatism is often derided as self-interest for the wealthy while liberalism is self-sacrifice and altruistic. But isn’t liberalism really self-interest based not on money, but on self-satisfaction? Have you ever really known a vocal liberal who wasn’t in love with his/her altruism and open-mindedness? And those liberals who have money are the absolute worst. They love you to see how they’re sacrificing higher taxes for the common good, although behind your back they are looking for every deduction.

More and more we hear this real loud criticism from Democrats of how much this war has cost. They say we aren’t getting our money’s worth and that we should withdraw and let the Iraqis handle it themselves. I would ask Obama this in the next debate:

You have said that the Iraq war is a failure and we cannot hope to win by throwing more money and people at it and we should therefore withdraw. Our education system has been a mess for much longer. Shouldn’t the Federal government save tax payers money by withdrawing and letting localities handle it?

Really the same argument could be made for any liberal sacred cow program. If instant success isn’t forthcoming then why not just leave it to the locals?

Maybe the real deep seeded problem they have with George W. Bush is that he accomplished what they have no stomach for. He liberated a country and offered actual human beings a chance at a real life. If you don’t criticize it and belittle it and make the guy out to be a crook then what might slip into the public consciousness is that Bush succeeded at their game.

Whatever the real opposition, liberals have to ask themselves a number of questions that they don’t seem capable of asking. Spielberg should ask himself why Darfur is intolerable but China is peachy. Anti-war Democrats should ask the same fiscal questions about government in general that they only ask about Iraq. And human rights activist should ask if an effective self-serving Bush isn’t more helpful than an ineffective idealist.

What good are intentions when real people are only helped by results?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Abu Ghraib: The Documentary

In "Standard Operating Procedure", Oscar-winning director Errol Morris uses recovered footage, reenactments and the notorious photographs published round the world to shed light on the forces behind the sexual and physical maltreatment of Iraqi inmates at the hands of US troops.

The film, screened at a press preview, avoids the familiar ground widely documented in the press after the first incriminating images surfaced in 2004: the global public outrage, the trials and the eventual apology by US President George W. Bush.

Instead, in probing interviews with the troops, Morris illustrates their contrition but also the defiance many involved in the abuse show as their superiors go unpunished.

The troops' candid confessions, shot in Morris' trademark close-ups, fly in the face of claims that the events at Abu Ghraib were a mere aberration.

The soldiers describe massive pressure from the highest echelons of the military to acquire "actionable intelligence" to stop the bloody insurgency in Iraq and locate then fugitive leader Saddam Hussein.

"We were told to soften them up for interrogation," Specialist Lynndie England, who was sentenced to three years in prison in 2005, tells Morris.

Put me in that group of people that just couldn't get upset at those Abu Ghraib pictures. Whether it was a few kooks who got carried away or an interrogation tactic, the pictures made it look far worse than it was.

I don't know how much you can trust someone like Lynndie England after her conviction , but if Morris is trying to say she was a scapegoat for orders given by leaders higher up the chain, then we need to discuss whether softening them up for interrogation is a worthy trade for stopping the insurgency. Mixed in the prison were no doubt a good many non-dangerous people, but war causes tough measures and sometimes hurts the innocent. Humiliation as a tactic against the enemy is about as benign as a war tactic can get.

And we can argue whether or not humiliation is a crime at a time of war, but the greater humiliation was brought about not by the actions at Abu Ghraib, but the photos circling the globe via the press. What Morris has done here is add to the embarrassment of the inmates while pretending to be their champion.

File under Genre: "Cause Seeks Victim"

A portion of Hillary Clinton's letter to NBC
I know that I am a public figure and that my daughter is playing a public role in my campaign. I am accustomed to criticism, certainly from MSNBC. I know that it goes with the territory.

However, I became Chelsea’s mother long before I ran for any office and I will always be a mom first and a public official second.

Nothing justifies the kind of debasing language that David Shuster used and no temporary suspension or half-hearted apology is sufficient.

I would urge you to look at the pattern of behavior on your network that seems to repeatedly lead to this sort of degrading language.

Ha. The Clintons debased a lot more than language during their tenure in the White House and they were a lot less kind to other people's daughters.

When you go on TV and tell the country what kind of underwear you wear and joke about astroturf in your El Camino bed and then you lie to the point that it is necessary for every 7 year old to know the meaning of oral sex, you have lowered the bar to the point that it seems natural to hear about your daughter being pimped out for a campaign.

In the seven days before Super Tuesday, Mike Huckabee was featured in a grand total of 2 percent of presidential campaign stories.

The media -- that is, the same media that all but ignored him before he won the Iowa caucuses in January -- were selling the Republican race as a two-man showdown. John McCain was a significant presence in 37 percent of stories and Mitt Romney in 21 percent, says a study of newspaper, television, radio and online coverage by the Washington-based Project for Excellence in Journalism.

Talk about betting on the wrong horse. Huckabee won five states -- which anchors and pundits treated as a stunning development -- and took Kansas and Louisiana on Saturday, while Romney abruptly dropped out.

Time and again, the media's preferred narratives for this campaign have collided with reality. Remember when journalists repeatedly declared that both nominations would be settled by Feb. 5? Scratch that. How about the blowout television and print coverage of Ted Kennedy anointing Barack Obama as the crown prince of Camelot? Hillary Clinton showed how little it mattered in the heart of Kennedy country, taking Massachusetts by 15 percentage points.

And the whole "back from the dead" story line for McCain exists mainly because journalists all but buried him when his fundraising collapsed last summer. (It would "take a miracle" for McCain to win the early primaries, CBS's Bob Schieffer said then.) Now he's made them look foolish by virtually wrapping up the GOP nomination.

Reporters consistently overestimate the importance of money in presidential campaigns: McCain was out of cash, and Huckabee never had any, so their chances were drastically downgraded. Romney gave his own campaign $50 million and his chances were constantly talked up.

But talk radio and the blogosphere are the dangerous ones because they don't share our rigorous journalistic standards.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


As the Pirates head into their 16th consecutive losing season, I take some consolation in the fact that the Cubs head into their 100th year since their last championship. The odor coming out of Wrigley at the end of each disappointing season does not smell of goat. The Bucs lose they old-fashioned way: they're not as good as their opponents. But the Cubs find new ways to lose every season, much to my satisfaction.

Billy Sianis, a Greek immigrant who owned the nearby Billy Goat Tavern, had two $7.20 box seat tickets to Game 4 of the 1945 World Series between the Cubs and the Tigers. He brought along his pet goat, Murphy (Sinovia in some references), which Sianis had restored to health when the goat had fallen off a truck and subsequently limped into his bar. The goat wore a blanket with a sign pinned to it which read: "We got Detroit's goat." Sianis and the goat were allowed into Wrigley and even paraded around the field before the game.

Despite a heated argument with ushers, Sianis and the goat were allowed to stay in the box seats for which he had tickets. But before the game was over, Sianis and his goat were ejected from the stadium, at the command of Cubs owner Philip Wrigley, due to the animal's odor. Sianis was outraged and allegedly placed a curse upon the Cubs that they never would win another pennant or play in a World Series at Wrigley again because the Cubs organization had insulted his goat.

Monday, February 11, 2008


It's no mystery how the Pirates got in this position. For years, Pittsburgh has been a repository for second-tier free agents with nowhere else to go. At the same time, the Pirates have squandered too many high draft picks on under-performing or sore-armed pitchers. The decision to select Brian Bullington ahead of B.J. Upton in the 2002 draft ranks high on the list of gaffes.

The Bucs got into the habit of blowing all their money on castoffs that no other team wanted, as if the dollar figure spent trumped the talent level acquired. If books are ever written about how not to build a team, the Bucs 1993-2008 will be mentioned on every page. Even high school kids playing fantasy baseball know that you draft hitters and develop pitchers. You simply don't take a pitcher in the first round. You just don't do it, even if you can cite examples where it has worked out in the past. The best pitchers are years away from being big-league ready and are walking injury risks whereas the best hitters just need some seasoning against good curveballs while an injury leads to a position change, not retirement.

Pittsburgh's offseason haul consists of
Chris Gomez, Ray Olmedo, Casey Fossum, Jaret Wright, Elmer Dessens, T.J. Beam, Luis Rivas and Hector Carrasco. The Pirates even lost out in the Paul Bako and Johnny Estrada backup catcher sweepstakes. It's part of the organization's new mind-set of placing a suitable market value on available players and then walking away if the numbers don't compute. "It would have been easy to stretch beyond our comfort level just to make something happen,'' Huntington said. "But we need to make decisions for the right reasons -- not to appease fans in December or grab headlines in January. We need to always make good baseball decisions. We're not hiding behind our market size. But it's the same thing that Milwaukee, Cleveland, Minnesota, Arizona and Oakland face. We have to make good financial decisions as well.''

The names are not recognizable but I don't expect the Bucs to field a competent team this year in any scenario so they are focusing on putting together a roster of guys who come cheap and take the field. I don't have a problem with the mentality of walking away from a free agent when the numbers don't compute, especially in the current stage of rebuilding. I do have a problem with lumping the Bucs in with MIL, CLE, MIN, ARI, and OAK because PIT is attempting by association to gain access to a club in which they do not belong. Sure, all of those teams are fellow small markets, but there is something striking that all of those other teams are that the Bucs are not - good teams. All of those teams are swimming in talent under the age of 25 and all of those teams are legitimate contenders. Sure, OAK had a rough year in '07, but that was the exception to a multi-year trend of success in which books were published about how to build a team the OAK way. The Bucs have not even seen a book published on the opposite subject - they have simply wallowed in mediocrity and gotten comfortable with it.

The Pirates recently broke ground on a $5 million facility in the Dominican Republic with a weight room, training area, covered batting tunnels and enough dormitory space to accommodate 90 players and coaches.

This is relatively good news but were you as surprised as I to discover that PIT is just now doing this? Haven't the Dodgers been doing this for at least twenty years? Weren't the Bucs the holy grail of Dominican baseball even before I was alive when Roberto Clemente was revered by Latinos everywhere? WTF is going on that PIT is just now breaking ground in the Domincan Republic? MLB rosters are already 25% Dominican players - this is not the beginning of a trend, it is a well-entrenched demographic shift that has been occurring over the past forty years! In fact, the Dominican has been so thoroughly over-mined that most teams have already moved on to Venezuela and even South Korea by now. Oh well, welcome to the party, Buccos. At least it is a move to spend money wisely rather than paying for Operation Shutdown at the big league level.

The team will be more diligent about monitoring medical information in an effort to avoid the pitching injuries that befell so many prospects in recent years. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Pirates will send several pitchers each summer to Dr. James Andrews' medical institute in Birmingham, Ala., for biomechnical analysis in hopes of detecting minor glitches before they spiral into serious problems.

Nothing to critique here. This is actually smart thinking. The old adage "a stitch in time saves nine" is the guiding principle here. When players you are counting on get injured, it is major-league bad news, especially for a team with a slim margin between the best team it can field as compared to the best squad a random AAA organization can field. Sending pitchers to Andrews during the offseason for wellness physicals sounds like the best use of money the Bucs have spent in many years.

"I've read articles on Mike Scioscia, and people marvel at how every day before batting practice he's out there working with players on relay throws, going first to third or whatever,'' Coonelly said. "This is a full-time job, and that's the way it should be. That's not always the way it has been here.''

Coonelly makes a good point but I am still sad to learn that the Pirates front office learns how to play winning baseball by reading articles.

Still, in spite of all those changes, it will be a challenge for the Pirates to sniff .500 in 2008. The offense ranked 23rd in the majors in runs scored, and the pitchers were 25th in strikeouts and 26th in ERA. It's a lot to expect significant improvement even if Coonelly is correct that the team "badly underperformed'' in 2007.

I am encouraged that the Bucs scored more runs last season than seven legitimate major league teams. I'm not kidding - this sucky team crossed the plate just one time fewer than STL, who boasts Albert Pujols in the middle of their lineup. The pitching was subpar but coming out of spring training, I actually foresaw good things from that rotation. Tom Gorzelanny showed us something and Ian Snell looked great in the first half. Paul Maholm is serviceable and Zach Duke still shows promise. I'll never understand the $10 million for Matt Morris, but that contract can't last forever and may someday stand as the final bonehead move this team made before they turned it all around in 2008.

During the recent PirateFest event, outfielder
Jason Bay caused a flap when he questioned the lack of offseason activity.

I'm sure Bay is a nice guy, but you just can't go around saying stuff like this when there are serious questions concerning your own lack of in-season activity. Bay is supposedly healthy this year and could have a big season if LaRoche and Nady agree to produce as well, with Freddy Sanchez and mystery centerfielder getting on base ahead of them.

Said Huntington: "I think any city or sports franchise becomes frightened when their fans are apathetic. Our fans are definitely not that. The foundation is there. When we build this and start to win and compete, this place is going be electric.''

This much is true. Theirs is one of the best fan-bases in all of baseball. The Steelers consistently field competent teams and consistently maintain a stadium full of rabid towel-wavers. The fans want the baseball equivalent and will show up when the stigma dissipates.

Between the bad news over the weekend (Obama sweep) and bad news coming on Tuesday (Obama sweep) was a good time to dump her campaign manager, when that bad news could be buried.

A Kansas City native, Williams, 53, was a central player in the Clinton damage-control machine during the White House years. In 1995, a uniformed Secret Service officer swore under oath he saw her leave White House lawyer and Hillary confidant Vince Foster's office carrying documents after Foster committed suicide. Williams denied it.

"She's never run a political campaign, but she has run a staff and isn't afraid to crack heads," a Democratic booster said.

I call for an immediate apology for the incendiary reference to crack heads.

Friday, February 08, 2008


Universal, except when it isn't.
Smokers, heavy drinkers, the obese and the elderly should be barred from receiving some operations, according to doctors, with most saying the health service cannot afford to provide free care to everyone.

Fertility treatment and "social" abortions are also on the list of procedures that many doctors say should not be funded by the state.

The findings of a survey conducted by Doctor magazine sparked a fierce row last night, with the British Medical Association and campaign groups describing the recommendations from family and hospital doctors as "out­rageous" and "disgraceful".

About one in 10 hospitals already deny some surgery to obese patients and smokers, with restrictions most common in hospitals battling debt.

Isn't a key reason American politicians want to socialize medicine is to cover those people the insurance companies won't cover?

Unfortunately for Democrats who believe the moment is right for a return to the White House after an eight-year absence, the ingredients for a nightmare scenario have emerged. The close fight between Clinton and Obama, coupled with the Democrats' rules that reward second place, prescribe a drawn-out fight for the nomination in a primary season that has exposed significant race, ethnicity and gender divides.

How funny that their "everyone gets a trophy" philosophy is coming back to bite them. It worked the other way on the other side, with McCain's unimpressive pluralities dumping "winner-take-all" delegate counts into his column, because the Republicans' system reflects the Republican worldview that "to the victor go the spoils," and if you wanted the (one) prize, you should have done better. Now McCain can gear up to win the general election while the Democrats are faced with two heavyweight contenders, neither of whom wants to be the other's VP, and a party that needs one of them to exit gracefully, which probably only one of them is constitutionally able to do.

I also read some Romney post-mortems today (see links) and see that he ran a reasonable campaign against Giuliani, but unfortunately his opponents turned out to be the unlikely McCain and the unlikelier spoiler Huckabee when Thompson fizzled and Rudy flopped. The analysis on Romney is pretty straightforward: he failed to play to his strengths (brilliant mind, proven leader, business savvy) and failed to adequately address his perceived weaknesses (Mormon faith, opportunistic flip-flopping on social issues).

What an unpredictably interesting race this has turned out to be on both sides.

Peggy Noonan finally states the obvious. Link from Drudge.

Mrs. Clinton would be easier [to attack and bring down] for Republicans. With her cavalcade of scandals, they'd be delighted to go at her. They'd get medals for it. Consultants would get rich on it.

The Democrats have it exactly wrong. Hillary is the easier candidate [to bring down], Mr. Obama the tougher. Hillary brings negative; it's fair to hit her back with negative. Mr. Obama brings hope, and speaks of a better way. He's not Bambi, he's bulletproof.

The biggest problem for the Republicans will be that no matter what they say that is not issue oriented--"He's too young, he's never run anything, he's not fully baked"--the mainstream media will tag them as dealing in racial overtones, or undertones. You can bet on this. Go to the bank on it.

The Democrats continue not to recognize what they have in this guy. Believe me, Republican professionals know. They can tell.

I have been proclaiming Hillary Inevitability but it is certainly starting to look like Obama has all the momentum. Blacks are voting for the black candidate, and white guilt is voting for the black candidate, and when you hear him you just like the guy. A generation of Jesse Jacksonism makes him untouchable. It's an unfair advantage and a real one. He knows it.

I listened to Bush's speech this morning at CPAC, and even if you agree with him, you have to concede that it's the same speech he's been giving for five years and his popularity has plummeted during that time. Not a good sign for November.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Michael Strahan almost missed history

So wrote Barbara Barker of New York Newsday
He could have missed being honored in a way that only the greatest of our heroes -- astronauts and war veterans and icons like Nelson Mandela -- are honored in New York City. If things had gone the way Michael Strahan briefly thought he wanted them to go last summer, he would have never joined their ranks.

He would have been watching Tuesday's ticker-tape parade from his living room in Southern California.

Just like Michael Jordan had to watch the Bulls win a championship on television.

In a game where the Giants defense answered Tom Brady for the first time all season, how likely would the Giants have gone all the way without their defensive leader, Michael Strahan?

Maybe I am being unkind. I tend to think this article is a result of a certain worldview, one that supposes that all success is due to luck rather than hard work and talent. Why? Because if success isn't based on luck then you would have less justification for social engineering and socialism.

So let's just remember how that no talent Michael Strahan happened to play for the Giants during their gimme win.

Check this out -- nationally, Hillary took 50.2% of the Democratic Super Tuesday vote, Obama 49.8%. Wow! So evenly split.

The most significant numbers are these: there were 74.7% more votes cast in the Democratic primaries than in the Republican primaries. That is a HUGE disparity. I'm sorry, but to think that any Republican can win this November is fantasy. Fantasy, I say. It just isn't going to happen. Being a Republican just isn't cool right now.

Nobody ever seems to follow up afterward on how close the pollsters came to the actual results. So today I provide that service. In some cases, the "actual" results are not quite final, but almost all of them represent at least a 98% tabulation.

State... RealClearPolitics poll avg... Result... How the polls did

California... McCain +0.3... McCain +8... McCain significantly outperformed polls
New York... McCain +31.4... McCain +23... McCain significantly underperformed polls
Illinois... McCain +15.7... McCain +18... outcome consistent with polls.
Missouri... McCain +5.5... McCain +4... outcome consistent with polls.
New Jersey... McCain +26.2... McCain +27... outcome consistent with polls.
Georgia... McCain +3.3... Huckabee +2... polls projected wrong winner.
Arizona... McCain +16.3... McCain +14... outcome consistent with polls.
Tennessee... McCain +3.3... Huckabee +2... polls projected wrong winner.

Overall: Polls in CA and NY got the winner right but the spread wrong. The polls were pretty close in most states. McCain got all the pre-vote news coverage because he was leading in all the big blue states that were being polled. Romney won 7 states that nobody talked about. Huckabee's 5 wins are very impressive consistent the tidal forces working against him.

California... Obama +1.2... Clinton +10... polls blew it big time
New York... Clinton +17.2... Clinton +17... spot on
Illinois... Obama +33... Obama +23... right winner, wrong spread
Missouri... Clinton +5.7... Obama +1... wrong winner
New Jersey... Clinton +7.7... Clinton +10... close enough
Georgia... Obama +18... Obama +36... right winner, wrong spread
Arizona... Clinton +6.0... Clinton +9... close enough
Tennessee... Clinton +13.0... Clinton +13... spot on

Overall: Clinton defied the polls in CA as she did in NV. Very accurate polling in some states. Missing by 10 points in Illinois and 18 points in Georgia is well outside the margin of error, but since the errors were in opposite directions you can't read in a conspiracy theory.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008


The media is talking about policy, personality and talk radio, but they forget a key fact. Republicans have a history of giving second chances, in fact, they are notorious to nominating previous losers.

Nixon in 1968
Reagan in 1980
Bush in 1988
Dole in 1996

The Democrats are just he opposite. They almost always find a fresh face.

McGovern in 1972
Carter in 1976
Dukakis in 1988
Clinton in 1992
Kerry in 2004

I think that McCain's success has as much to do with name recognition and his second place finish in 2000. If McCain wins the nomination and loses the general election, Romney or Huckabee has a real shot in 2012.

Error cards have always been part of the equation. Sometimes the error would be discovered during an initial printing and Topps would correct the error before resuming the printing/distribution process. This lead to relative scarcity of the error card which would drive up the price on the secondary market.

When Donruss came on the scene with their initial printing in 1982, their issue was riddled with errors to the point where the uncorrected error card was the only card. After that embarrassing debut, they began correcting their errors and once again the error card took on a mystique such that for awhile during the early nineties, I could have sworn that there were errors being introduced by some of the companies to intentionally influence demand.

Well, last year, Topps released a Derek Jeter card that included digital images of Mickey Mantle and President Bush in the background. Even though any six-year-old can find the Waldos that don't belong in the photo, Topps played it off as if it was the work of a rogue production assistant which nobody noticed until it was too late to change. Now, they compound the silliness by adding a digital image of Rudy Giuliani celebrating the Red Sox World Series victory on a card to be issued this year.
"We ... thought it would make for a funny card, since the Red Sox won," said Clay Luraschi, baseball brand manager for The Topps Co. "We thought, let's put him in the championship dog pile."
Who is this joker running The Topps Company? Has he no shame? Why not produce a gag card for the boys in the office but only send out the real stuff? I don't know, maybe I'm old-fashioned or lunk-headed, but I just don't see why any card company would be intentionally producing silly stuff when there are other companies out there trying to get things right. I remember seeing some 1995 Topps cards that included statistics that were culled from projections had the '94 season played itself out. They actually printed stats on their cards that were projections. So you can't always trust the backs and now you can't always trust the fronts. Why not just stick to producing Garbage Pail Kids cards and leave the national pastime to the professionals?

As we await Super Tuesday results, here's what Rush has to say about McCain "reaching across the aisle" and such, and some of the well-known conservative thought leaders now lining up behind him. We saw how well this "electability" scam worked for Kerry in 2004. If conservatives are conservatives first and Republicans second, or not at all, they don't "owe" McCain their vote. Quite the contrary.

Let me tell you something, these average folk you're talk about, there are a whole lot more of them that think the way I am on this than are thinking the way you elites in the party are thinking, that any nominee who can beat a Democrat is better than any other nominee. That's simply not right. People who have loyally supported the Republican Party, people who have given money to it do not want to sit around and see that money used to expand the party on the basis of attracting liberals with a liberal candidate -- and, furthermore, they're not going to take kindly to being told they're to blame for it by not compromising their principles for the sake of party unity.

The Republican Party for too long has asked this of conservatives: "Sacrifice a little there, sacrifice a little here. Party unity is what matters." A lot of Republicans are fed up with this. You can go back to November 2006 and look at those returns if you doubt me. I am not alone when I say to you elites in the Republican Party, punditry and elsewhere, party officials and whatnot, "If you're going to go out and move this party to the left, you're going to take the hit for what happens to it. We are not going to sit here and take the blame because we wouldn't capitulate and unify. We don't see the point of unifying with the left when they are making no compromises whatsoever. So screw it! You want to take the party your direction, you take it there and you live and die by it; if you believe so strongly in going that direction. We don't, and most in this audience don't, either." I say that with confidence and assurance.

Monday, February 04, 2008


I just got a funny phone call. He said he had a quick three-question poll and I said let's do it. Question one was something like: Mitt Romney raised taxes in Massachusettes by $700 million and called it fees while effectively negating the Bush tax cuts. Does this make you more or less likely to vote for Mitt Romney? I laughed out loud and since 'no difference' was not an option, I said it makes me more likely. Question number two was something like: National polls show that John McCain has a real chance of beating Hillary Clinton in the general election while Mitt Romney lags behind in every national poll. Does this make you more or less likely to vote for Mitt Romney? Again, I laughed out loud and said more likely. Then I mused aloud, Gee, I wonder who is sponsoring this three-question poll. The guy laughed along with me and said, I'll just skip the third question, sir. Thank you for your time.

The big issue in the POTUS '08 race, mostly unspoken so far, is the Supreme Court. The old liberals on the Court have been hanging on for the day when they can retire and be replaced by like minded justices. The WSJ addresses the issue today.

With a Democratic Senate, Democratic presidents would be able to confirm adherents of the theory of the "Living Constitution" -- in essence empowering judges to update the Constitution to advance their own conception of a better world. This would threaten the jurisprudential gains of the past three decades, and provide new impetus to judicial activism of a kind not seen since the 1960s.

I don't want the Court going postmodern.

For other kinds of issues, it may be argued that it is better to lose with the perfect candidate than to win with an imperfect one. The party lives to fight another day and can reverse the bad policies of an intervening presidency.

The judiciary is different. On Jan. 20, 2009, six of the nine Supreme Court justices will be over 70. Most of them could be replaced by the next president, particularly if he or she is re-elected. Given the prospect of accelerating gains in modern medical technology, some of the new justices may serve for half a century. Even if a more perfect candidate were somehow elected in 2012, he would not be able to undo the damage, especially to the Supreme Court.

I think a Republican victory this November is extremely unlikely but I'll be glad to be wrong. I'm not sold by any means on McCain's electability -- the polls showing him beating Hillary are the same polls that gave us President Giuliani a few months ago -- but if he were to get elected, would he appoint good judges?

There is no reason to believe that Mr. McCain will not make excellent appointments to the court. On judicial nominations, he has voted soundly in the past from Robert Bork in 1987 to Samuel Alito in 2006. His pro-life record also provides a surety that he will not appoint judicial activists.

We recognize that there are two plausible sources of disquiet. Mr. McCain is perhaps the foremost champion of campaign-finance regulation, regulation that is hard to square with the First Amendment. Still, a President McCain would inevitably have a broader focus. Securing the party's base of judicial conservatives is a necessary formula for governance, as President Bush himself showed when he swiftly dropped the ill-conceived nomination of Harriet Miers.

Perhaps more important, because of the success of constitutionalist jurisprudence, a McCain administration would be enveloped by conservative thinking in this area. The strand of jurisprudential thought that produced Sen. Warren Rudman and Justice David Souter is no longer vibrant in the Republican Party.

I have to defer to the WSJ on what McCain would do with respect to judges, as I have not done my homework. I don't know what McCain would do, but I do know what Obama or Hillary would do, and I don't want to see that.

I also know that whoever wins the election, my day-to-day life will remain very much the same. I have to accept the world as it is. Sometimes I'm in the majority, and sometimes the minority, and either way, life goes on.

God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
As it is, not as I would have it;

Trusting that He will make all things right
If I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
And supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.

UPDATE: Bill Kristol writes eloquently today on the need for conservatives to get behind McCain if he is the nominee, rather than sulk at the margin.

Conservatives can ... choose to stand aside from history while having a temper tantrum. But they should consider that the American people might then choose not to invite them back into a position of responsibility for quite a while to come.

Imagine my surprise to see this Letter from the Editor in a recent issue of Harvard Business Review:

Our planet is warming. We're making that happen. The effects will be global, generally bad, and in some ways catastrophic. These are incontrovertible facts.

I see. I never saw HBR as being in the business of incontrovertible facts, particularly with respect to science. I guess I wasn't reading it right.

It's interesting to look back through old issues of HBR and see that this esteemed publication is still just a flavor-of-the-month, quick-read, fad-driven mag like any other. Most of its articles have had no lasting value, and many have totally missed the mark when you look at them again with the benefit of today's knowledge of then-future trends and events.

Further down the page, I see where he's going with this.

While doing nothing about climate change puts businesses and populations in great peril, there are fortunes to be made and fortunes to be saved by those who take steps to prevent and mitigate it.

At least that appeals to profit motive (ours and his), the genius of America and the root of its success. That's better than what I'm hearing from some of the '08 political campaigns, that we should address global warming for the good of the world even if it cools the US economy. That's just stupid. If we can create in global warming a new market for the US economy, then now you've got my attention.

I'm uncomfortable with the "war against global warming" language that I'm hearing. We're at war against real enemies, but some would have me refocus on a feel-good war against a phantom enemy. And since those making the argument don't trust business to solve the problem, that leaves only Big Government to do the job.

Ultimately, you will create the theory and practice of business's response to climate change as you try, with respect to this enormous and complex challenge, to do what good business leaders do: Be the best leaders you can, see the future and plan for it, solve tough problems, and invest your resources in what really works.

And what would that be, perchance? That's a long sentence that says nothing. What works is spending your money on people, stuff, and services. Maybe I'm too shortsighted, too practical, or unable to think outside the box, but I don't see what Mr. Businessman can and should do with this year's budget to take advantage of the fact that temperatures have been trending up on planet earth. Do you?

Saturday, February 02, 2008


Bringing up baby has been tough on my reading habits these last few weeks, but I have found that talk radio suits this lifestyle just dandy because you can tune in and out at will and not miss the story arc. Rush, Laura Ingrham, and Mark Levin are all sour on McCain while Dennis Miller and Michael Medved like McCain. What's interesting is that Miller and Medved draw just as many anti-McCain calls as the others. I guess they don't have any mind-numbed robots.

I haven't heard as much of Miller this week, but I like this talk radio style quite a bit. He's honest about himself and he doesn't get into arguments with callers. He's more like Socrates. An anti-McCain caller told Dennis that he doesn't like McCain-Feingold and Dennis asked the caller how that has hurt him personally. It stumped the caller, because he probably hadn't thought about it in personal terms, but as a matter of philosophy. Dennis sort of takes the tract that it doesn't really hurt anything.

Medved has been more confrontational with callers. One listener told him that McCain was a RINO (Republican in name only) and that he couldn't vote for such a man. Medved said that if the caller wouldn't vote for the Republican nominee, then the caller was actually the RINO. That was his Yale Law School training at work.

Medved has also been theorizing that some conservatives hate McCain not because of politics but personality. He's termed such people as having MDS (McCain derangement syndrome). I actually find McCain's personality likable enough. His speech at the 2004 Republican convention was powerful. When I see the poor guy struggle to lift his arms, I feel regret for him.

Today Medved proposed that Bush, although lionized by conservatives, believes in all of the same things as McCain so why are we singling out John John. What I would have said to Medved is that Bush didn't come into the White House touting a liberal record and his straying from orthodoxy has cost him a great deal of affection. I wouldn't have supported Bush in the 2000 primaries if I knew he would expand Medicare, federalize airport screeners, look the other way at omnibus spending bills, support amnesty for illegals, sign McCain/Feingold etc. He was a blank slate back then that I projected conservative warmth onto. What Medved doesn't mention is that Bush's approval rating sits at 33%, that's 17 points less than the number of people that voted to re-elect him in 2004. Had Bush governed as a conservative domestically, I imagine that number would be 10-20 points higher.

Medved admitted to other callers that he disagreed with McCain on water boarding, Guantanmo Bay, Campaign Finance Reform, but it's no big deal to him.

I've listened to Miller on the radio more often than Medved, but I read Medved's autobiography a few years back so I think I understand both men decently. Miller is always impressed by military men and he admits more so because he himself isn't one. Even when he was touting Bush over Kerry in 2004, Miller was always praising Kerry's service. Way back in 1993, he did a comedy special on HBO where he defended Perot's running mate, Admiral Stockdale, saying that this was a great American hero who was made fun of simply because he was bad on television.

Like Miller, Medved is a convert to conservatism. Medved was a war protester during Vietnam and a personal friend of Hillary Clinton during their days at Yale. They no longer speak to one another. I think Medved feels a certain amount of guilt over those protests and a certain awe for a veteran like McCain that did the right thing back then.

I think in both cases, McCain's military record trumps the other issues for these guys. They see his heroism as so admirable that they don't understand why the movement conservatives want more out of a candidate. Sorry fellas, but some of us do.

Friday, February 01, 2008


Drudge does Mitt the great favor today of reviving this March 2007 story about how McCain toyed with leaving the Republican Party and throwing the Senate to the Democrats in 2001. And before we call it ancient history, let's remember that he considered Kerry's offer to become his running mate in 2004. I hope this story gets a lot of play this weekend. Drudge is very influential -- there is frequently a direct link between his page and the nightly news.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) was close to leaving the Republican Party in 2001, weeks before then-Sen. Jim Jeffords (Vt.) famously announced his decision to become an Independent, according to former Democratic lawmakers who say they were involved in the discussions.

In interviews with The Hill this month, former Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) and ex-Rep. Tom Downey (D-N.Y.) said there were nearly two months of talks with the maverick lawmaker following an approach by John Weaver, McCain’s chief political strategist.

It was McCain’s top strategist who came to them.

Downey said Weaver is well aware that their discussion was much more than typical Washington chit-chat.

Daschle said that throughout April and May of 2001, he and McCain “had meetings and conversations on the floor and in his office, I think in mine as well, about how we would do it, what the conditions would be. We talked about committees and his seniority … [A lot of issues] were on the table.”

Some of the meetings Daschle referred to are detailed in the former senator’s 2003 book.

ther senators who played major roles in the intense recruiting effort, according to Democrats, were then-Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) as well as Sens. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

A source close to Edwards said Daschle’s comments are accurate.

In one article, Marshall Wittman, a McCain loyalist and strategist six years ago, put the odds of McCain leaving the Republican Party at “50-50.”

Weaver acknowledged this week that the senator did talk to Democrats about leaving the GOP.

Daschle stressed that McCain never considered becoming a Democrat, but was close to becoming an Independent. Downey said, “I actually thought during the initial stages of this that [McCain leaving the Republican Party] was almost a certain deal.”

Daschle pointed out that few, if any, of McCain’s people were hired by the Bush administration. “John didn’t think that was right,” Daschle wrote, “that his staff should be penalized like that.”

Soon after Bush was inaugurated as the nation’s 43rd president, McCain was working with Democrats on many issues, ranging from gun control to healthcare to campaign-finance reform. McCain’s links to Democrats were so clear that Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) — now a close ally of McCain — publicly criticized him in the early part of 2001 for keeping “unusual company.”

Jeffords pulled the trigger on May 24, 2001, throwing control of the Senate to Democrats. Chafee and McCain then broke off their discussions with Democratic leaders, according to Democrats.

Asked why this news hasn’t come out before, Downey said, “It’s a mystery to me… It’s never been written about, never got in the paper... There were meetings in offices. You can’t deny [these meetings took place]. They occurred.”

On June 2, 2001, The Washington Post ran a front-page story with the headline “McCain is Considering Leaving GOP; Arizona Senator Might Launch a Third-Party Challenge to Bush in 2004.”

The article, written in the wake of the Jeffords’s announcement, noted that Daschle and his wife were visiting the McCains at the senator’s home in Arizona. But by that time, McCain had decided to stay a Republican, according to Daschle, who wrote that plans for the June weekend getaway were made months earlier when McCain was mulling changing his party affiliation.

In 2004, [McCain rejected] an offer from Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) to become his vice presidential nominee.