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January 30, 2008

McCain Derangement Syndrome

The term seems apt. In many cases, McCain hatred is so irrational as to be pathological.

I heard two examples of it this evening - one from my friend Hugh Hewitt, whose rage against McCain today on Wolf Blitzer's CNN show made the hair curl on my bald head and later, on the Larry Elder Show, I listened in as a woman caller excoriated McCain as no war hero even though she knew the Senator had spent five years in a North Vietnamese prison camp, was tortured, had his bones broken yet stayed with the other troops when offered a chance to leave, etc. Even Elder was appalled at the woman, though Larry is no McCain supporter.
One of the raps against McCain by traditional conservatives is that he opposes waterboarding and Gitmo. On the other hand, he was one of the earliest, strongest and most influential backers of The Surge. I think by any rational comparison the importance of The Surge vs. waterboarding and Gitmo isn't remotely close. The Surge is responsible for the vastly improved situation in Iraq and for our consequentially improved situation globally. The other two are of marginal importance by comparison. McCain, it would seem to me, has his priorities right (not to mention more experience) on the most important issue of our time - the War on Terror.
Romney claims to have changed and "seen the light" on many issues. I have no idea whether this is true, but I am amazed by all these conservatives who totally and almost slavishly believe this is the real Romney yet equally assuredly distrust McCain when he repeatedly says he would build a security fence. It reminds me of that old shrink's thing about the "need to be right," how it always trips us up. I have seen it happen to me a lot. Anyway, I'm not sure McCain Derangement Syndrome has a cure. People love their anger. It's a security blanket.

Yep. Measured criticism of McCain from the right is one thing, but the kind of froth-at-the-mouth hysteria of Limbaugh, Hewitt et al is something else entirely. I think one of the tell-tale symptoms of an actual MDS is a bizarre tendency to put forth Mitt Romney as a conservative standard bearer. I agree with Glenn:

What I find particularly hard to swallow, though... are the people who say that if Romney doesn't make it they'll vote Democratic rather than support McCain because McCain's not a true conservative. Maybe not, but neither is Romney, and it seems like a strange place to draw the line.

There are two Americas...

...and now two Democratic contenders to match. My former blow-dried trial lawyer senator isn't one of 'em.

w00t! The good news keeps on coming.


Okay, I'm considerably calmer after last night's Florida primary. John McCain had a convincing win and looks poised to go into Super Duper Tuesday with fresh momentum, a lead in the polls (and now delegates too) as well as the endorsement of Rudy Giuliani.

Sigh. Rudy. That'll be a bittersweet moment. He was my other favorite candidate, but I always knew it would eventually come to down to (at most!) one of them. And if I'm being honest, I knew that Rudy's temerity was ill-fitting for the office of the president. Still, his blend of fiscal conservatism and social liberalism was unique in this party, and seemed made to order for Republicans like me. Oddly enough, I thought Rudy's supposed "strength" (national security) was in fact a weakness. I liked Rudy because of his domestic agenda.

But McCain's ascendancy is encouraging too. It's shown that the Republican Party isn't completely controlled by the blow-hards of conservative talk radio. Let's face it, they've been hitting McCain with everything they've got for weeks now, but in the end, McCain prevailed. That's a good sign for the party. We've got a long road ahead to repair the damage it's sustained over the past 7 years, but last night struck me as a good first step.

January 28, 2008

A quiz for conservatives

Okay, here goes.

McCain in Iowa: Ethanol subsidies are a boondoggle, and a waste of taxpayers' money.

Romney in Iowa: I love ethanol!

McCain in Michigan: The hard truth is that many of those high-paying manufacturing jobs aren't coming back.

Romney in Michigan: I will use the power of the federal government to make those jobs come back!!

McCain in Florida: Taxpayers in Provo or Detroit shouldn't have to pay to subsidize the hurricane insurance of people who choose to live on the Florida coast.

Romney in Florida: I'll use the power of the federal government to make hurricane insurance cheaper!!!

So tell me again, which of these two guys is the "genuine" conservative, and worthy of our support?

The sad thing is, Romney's shameless pandering has a pretty good track record of working. Recent polls suggest that it may be working in Florida. He's getting help, of course, 24/7, from conservative talk radio. Once again, I'm listening to Mark Levin trashing McCain as we speak. Levin had the Wall Street Journal's John Fund on his program, and was belaboring a single passage from a recent Fund editorial that Levin found damning of McCain. Fund began the "interview" by saying he hoped they'd discuss the whole editorial, which was largely sympathetic to McCain, to which Levin snapped, "I don't want to talk about the whole thing!" Of course he doesn't. From recent polls, sadly, it looks as if talk radio's unrelenting anti-McCain barrage is having an effect.

Well, I hope Limbaugh and Hannity and Levin enjoy the 2008 Romney vs. Clinton campaign. I can't wait to hear what they're going to say when Romney, having bought the GOP nomination with their help, starts running hard to the left in preparation for a general election at a time when Republican approval numbers are in the cellar. We've already seen a preview of it in 1994, when Romney ran to the left of opponent Ted Kennedy on many issues. But I don't want to hear them bitching when that happens, and I don't want to hear them whining when Romney loses, and the Democrats control the White House and both houses of congress.

If the Republicans are shortsighted enough to vote for Romney, I'll vote for Hillary in the general election. Yeah, I know, that's not much of a threat, because I'm just one guy. My dozens of readers aren't a match for Limbaugh's millions of listeners. I'm the ugly, red-headed stepchild at the GOP family reunion. I show up late for the family portrait, in a cheap suit that's wrinkled and ill-fitting because I never go to church. And I need a haircut. But I'm also the canary in the goddamn electoral coal mine, and if I'm saying I'd vote for Hillary over Romney, that doesn't bode well, 'cuz I've never voted for a Democrat in a presidential election in my life.

Please, Florida, think about this, just a little.

January 27, 2008

And yet another...

reason to support Hillary.

Senator Edward M. Kennedy will endorse Barack Obama for president...

Heh, I wonder if he called him "Osama."

...and speaking of John Edwards

If I needed a reason to clinch my support for HRC in the Democratic primaries, this certainly provided it.

Illinois Democrats close to Sen. Barack Obama are quietly passing the word that John Edwards will be named attorney general in an Obama administration.

Jesus Christ Almighty. In the "Worst Ideas in the History of Christendom," this ranks right up there, somewhere between "New Coke" and leisure suits. And the "Worst AG in History" award has become pretty competitive of late, with both Reno and Gonzales raising the bar. Obama's out to prove that he is not to be outdone.

Meet the New Democratic Party...

...same as better than the Old Democratic Party. As the new GOP grows less and less attractive to me with each passing day, my disappointment is offset by the fact that the Democrats are looking much less repulsive in the post-Clinton era than at any other time in my life.

Consider the hapless John Edwards, who couldn't even muster a second place in his Clinton-hating home state yesterday. I think it's fairly safe to write his obit at this point. Let's face it, we're about as likely to see John Edwards in the local Super Cuts as we are in the Oval Office (LOL! I crack myself up sometimes with my rapier-like wit.)

So why did it happen? He's charismatic, attractive (not in that way, of course... not that there's anything wrong with that), intelligent, and he comes from the prime demographic for a Democrat seeking the White House -- a southern white male. He's perhaps a bit light in the experience department, but that clearly wasn't a factor, as the two candidates who've been cleaning his clock in every state thus far have similar resumes.

What set Edwards apart was that he ran an unabashedly liberal campaign, the only one among the top-tier candidates to do so. Edwards is not some Kucinich or Gravel who never stood a chance. In fact, when he entered the race, it was very easy to imagine him as a front-runner.

Last week, some pundits, including Russ Feingold and Charles Krauthammer began to notice belatedly that Edwards is a big phony, campaigning passionately against many of the very items he voted for himself while in the Senate. It wasn't just the war in Iraq -- it was the Patriot Act, the bankruptcy bill, No Child Left Behind, nuclear waste storage in Yucca Mountain, and others. But far from running as someone who's undergone a Damascus Road conversion, Edwards would have us believe he's a lifelong crusader for the progressive causes he now espouses.

They're right, of course. I'm not buying Edwards' faux-populist schtick any more than they are. But Feingold and Krauthammer seem to be trying to retrofit an explanation for Edwards' demise after the fact, and I don't buy his radical makeover as a reason. God knows there's enough flip-flopping among this crowd that there's no need to single Edwards out.

I think the explanation is much simpler. This is not the same party that nominated McGovern and Mondale. It took them a while, but they finally learned their lesson. Edwards employed a calculated strategy to run to the left of both Clinton and Obama, and yet he's getting soundly rejected in every state contest thus far, by Democratic voters!

Unfortunately for Edwards, the Democrats aren't the party they used to be. They're the party that wants to repeal the AMT, not the party that gave it to us in the first place. That's bad for Edwards, but it's a good thing for the rest of us. Especially since it's looking increasingly likely that the Democrats will be governing both branches of government for some time to come.

January 26, 2008

Bush destroyed the GOP

So says Peggy Noonan. She's right, of course, but it gives the president a little too much credit. In reality, he had a lot of help, primarily from the Republican congress, which did at least as much to shred the party's reputation for fiscal restraint as the president. Bush probably couldn't have done it without assists from Bill Frist, Tom DeLay, Trent Lott, Ted Stevens, Don Young, and the list goes on and on.

But let's get to the real point of Noonan's piece as I see it: Rush Limbaugh is stupid. His relentless and senseless broadside against the S.S. McCain continues unabated. This was the quote that prompted Noonan's remark.

...Rush Limbaugh declared on the radio this week, "I'm here to tell you, if either of these two guys [Mr. McCain or Mike Huckabee] get the nomination, it's going to destroy the Republican Party. It's going to change it forever, be the end of it!"

Look, I know a lot of conservatives who dislike McCain, but not a one who would make such a vapid and indefensible statement as that. You'd hope this kind of over-the-top, irrational hyperbole would destroy whatever remaining credibility the guy has, but I fear it won't.

I'd respect Rush a lot more if he'd just say, "Look, I hate McCain because I hate him." At least it'd be honest. But no, he has to claim that nominating McCain would somehow be the undoing of Western civilization. Thanks to recent GOP leadership, Republicans have lost both houses of congress, tanked in the polls, and stand poised to lose the White House. Yet somehow, nominating the one candidate that polls say can keep the White House, and who has a lifetime ACU rating of 82, would "destroy" the party. What the hell does that even mean?

And then to rally around Romney as the great conservative hope? What the hell are these people thinking? And it's not just Rush, either. If it were, I could perhaps write it off to a relapse of chemical dependency. But no, as near as I can tell, conservative talk radio has monolithically (if inexplicably) rallied around Romney after Thompson's departure from the scene. Grrrr!!!

I've got some thoughts about the McCain/Romney matchup, but I'm going to save them for another post, because thinking about it is pissing me off and ruining my Saturday morning.

January 25, 2008


If you stumble across the limp, unresponsive body of someone who may or may not be dead, you should call 911 only after all efforts to contact a cast member of Full House have been exhausted.

From the "stopped clock" department

Well this is embarrassing. The New York Times has endorsed the same two candidates I prefer. Normally this would be enough to prompt a rethinking on my part, for fear I must be wrong. This time, however, I think something more sinister is at work. I think the New York Times endorsed McCain because they knew it would damage him in the primaries, and they want to take McCain out of the running while they still can. Not because they find McCain the most ideologically loathsome, of course, but because they know he's the most likely chance for the GOP to keep the White House in November.

There, I feel better.

January 24, 2008


This has gotten almost no press, because no one really understands Louisiana's Napoleonic, effed-up caucus system, but John McCain won down there (at least we think he did.) Come on, media, talk it up. Get the big mo' going here.

January 23, 2008

Memo to conservatives

The latest polls out of Florida have me a bit worried, so I want to talk with my brethren on the right for minute. For the sake of argument, let me assume for a moment that Mitt Romney is a more authentic conservative than John McCain. (I don't believe that, by the way, but let's just go with the premise.) Fine. Great. But do you realize that Mitt Romney stands exactly zero chance of winning in the general election? Do you? If not, perhaps you'd better take a step or two back and try to look at things a bit more objectively.

This isn't 2000 anymore. Republicans face a strong headwind this year. We can't win with just anybody, and perhaps we can't afford to be as choosy as we'd like to be. Now think about this, please. Would you really rather go down to defeat in Goldwater-esque numbers with Romney than stand a fighting chance at keeping the White House with McCain? Christ, at least in '64 we went down in flames on principle. With Mitt? We'll just go down in flames.

January 22, 2008

Fred out

Well, it looks like Fred's out. I think he did the right thing by calling it quits, and even though I've been critical of his candidacy, I kinda like the ol' guy, and I like a lot of his supporters, so I'm not gleeful about it.

But the old coot could've endorsed McCain on his way out, couldn't he? I mean hell, Rasmussen now has a poll that shows Romney leading in Florida, for frak's sake. Florida!! Why?! What in the Blue Hell are they thinking?! That state has been owned by the Rudy/McCain tag-team since forever, and now Mitt pops up in the lead? Why? Because he won some uncontested, dumb-ass caucus in the Mormon-infested desert?

Well, so far that poll is just an outlier, so I'm planning to pretend I didn't see it. Meanwhile, I'm guessing the reason Fred's holding back on endorsing anyone is because he's hoping for the VP slot. I'd kinda like to see an all-geriatric McCain/Thompson lineup, of course, but I can understand Fred's hedging here. I just wish he'd help nudge his conservative followers away from away from the Romney mirage.

The stock market sucks

Let's see, you got your head-and-shoulders pattern, you got your death cross, you got all major indices trading below their 200-day moving average, and a bloodbath in the futures market. Ha ha, this sucks.

I glimpsed a foreshadowing of this last week by looking at VIX. This volatility index is a rough measure of investor fear, and peaks in the VIX often correspond to market bottoms. Last week, however, when the Dow plunged 300 points, VIX was still calmly trading in a moderate range. That spooked me, because I saw it as a sign that the bottom was a ways off yet.

But today I'll bet we see some real movement in VIX, since we seem to be in for a wave of all-out panic selling. I like to think about buying when the market panics, so I'll be paying especially close attention to the news over the next week or so. We have a slew of earnings reports on tap, as well as the much-anticipated Fed meeting. If I see some encouraging earnings, reasonable reaction by the Fed, and a peak in VIX, I'm going to dive into the equities market like a fiancee into Filene's Basement's wedding gown sale.

UPDATE: As I was typing this, the Fed cut the federal funds rate by 75 basis points. The futures market has calmed considerably already. Should be an interesting day. Week. Next few months. Whatever.

UPDATE II: Wow, this is happening quick. VIX has leapt up out of the gate (too quickly for my options orders to be filled, alas) to right around the same highs it saw in mid-August -- which, if you'll look at a chart of the S&P 500 over the same time frame, represented an excellent buying opportunity.

January 20, 2008


You gotta love it when Democrats tear themselves up over identity politics. Sounds like more than a few women are pissed off at Oprah for her support of Obama (BT, you predicted this!) One commenter to Oprah's site...

...cannot believe that women all over this country are not up in arms over Oprah’s backing of Obama. For the first time in history we actually have a shot at putting a woman in the White House and Oprah backs the black MAN. She’s choosing her race over her gender.

I guess that's bad, right? Choosing race over gender? As a libertarian-leaning Republican, I guess I can't really be expected to grasp the subtler nuances of identity politics. Is one arbitrary classification automatically superior to another? People don't choose to be born female any more than they choose being born black. Should either be a significant factor in choosing the president of the United States? If so, why?

Once you've started down this ridiculous road, you'll eventually end up in a place with absurd and meaningless conflicts like this one. And they're not all going to be against Republicans. The Republican side of the race may be wide open and inchoate, but the bad blood seems to be on the Democratic side this time around. Let them beat each other over the head with the race and gender clubs for a change. Enjoy the show, folks. I know I will.

January 19, 2008

Deja vu all over again

Here I sit, eight years later, once again sweating out John McCain's performance in the South Carolina primaries. This time the villain may not be Karl Rove's whisper campaign, but rather voting machine cockups in Horry County (heh, it's not pronounced like it looks.)

It's some improvement, I guess. I'm more optimistic about McCain's prospects than I was back in 2000, but damn, when are we gonna learn? What's wrong with a piece of paper and a pencil, for God's sake? There are some things that technology just doesn't improve. That's why I read books instead of a Kindle.

(Hat tip: Hack)

January 18, 2008

Ha ha, French people are stupid

Not only that, but their TV shows are uninspired and derivative. Anyway, check out this clip from the Gallic version of "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" To be fair, I'm sure you can find the lone idiot in any country who doesn't know the moon orbits the earth, but check out what happens when this poor dude reaches out for a lifeline. Heh.

George Bush's pernicious influence is evidently so pervasive that it's now destroying European scientific literacy as well.

(Hat tip: w/f)

Are Palmetto Republicans seeking redemption?

Byron York seems to think so. I hope he's right. And from what I'm hearing from my friends back in my old home state, I think he just may be.

Yeah, I know this is harsh, but here it is. South Carolina screwed up in 2000. Big time. If it took them eight years to figure that out, well, better late than never. South Carolinians do have a rare chance at righting past mistakes tomorrow. They have the power to make John McCain the undisputed frontrunner in this race.

I know there are lots of conservatives out there who can read me chapter and verse on John McCain's supposed conservative heresies. In fact, I'm listening to Mark Levin doing it on the radio right now, as I type this.

Well, Mark? You twice voted for, and continue to support, our current president, who's at least as heretical as John McCain when it comes to orthodox Reagan/Goldwater conservatism, so I'm not buying your crap tonight. And in case you hadn't noticed, Ronald Reagan isn't running this year. Who among the current crop would you hold up as the conservative ideal? Who is immune to the charges of apostasy that you level against McCain? Seriously, who? Romney? Not bloody likely. Huckabee? No, you're smart enough to realize what he is.

So who's left, Mark? Giuliani? I like him too, but he's looking increasingly like an also-ran. Thompson? I like his views, but he's still running the most lackluster, half-assed campaign I've ever seen, and that's not going to bring us to victory this November. Moreover, during his stint in the senate, he was one of the closest allies of John McCain, whom you clearly despise.

And isn't electability something for you guys? John McCain consistently polls as the only Republican who can beat Hillary Clinton in the general election. You want to give that up for who? Mitt Romney? Give me a break.

I remember how depressed I was in 2000, when McCain lost the South Carolina primary. I believed at the time that George W. Bush was a lightweight and a big-government "conservative," and that to elect him could go a long, long way toward reversing the hard-won fortunes of the GOP.

Well guess what? That makes me damn near prophetic, and you someone to be listened to with great skepticism. Fortunately, the good people of South Carolina seem to be doing just that.

If any of my right-wing brethren want to try to convince me I'm wrong, then go ahead, I'll listen with an open mind. But meanwhile? I'll be looking to my former home state to right the wrongs of 2000. Dum spiro spero.

January 16, 2008


Mitt Romney may not be the biggest phony in presidential politics in my lifetime, but he's certainly the most obvious one. He won Michigan by making blatantly unrealistic promises to desperate people in language that sounded more like John Edwards than a free-market Republican. Will someone please just wake me up when the primaries are over?

January 14, 2008

The weakest candidate

Here's something I hope the voters of Michigan will consider today.

This weekend, CNN released results of general election trial heats, pitting each of the four leading Republican candidates for President against both of the leading Democrats.

The unmistakable message from this national exercise (surveying 840 voters on January 9 and 10th) is that Mitt Romney unequivocally qualifies as the weakest candidate the G.O.P. could field.

In the head-to-head contest with Barack Obama he is utterly wiped out, losing by a margin of 22 points (59% to 37%). Against Hillary Clinton, Romney fares little better, falling 18 percentage points behind (58% to 40%).
The results for other candidates show that this is a Romney problem, not a Republican problem.

John McCain, for instance, virtually ties both Obama and Clinton – running 48%-49% against Obama and 48%-50% against Clinton. In other words, in a trial heat against Barack Obama, Senator McCain runs a startling 21 points closer than does Governor Romney.

(Hat tip: Glenn)

January 13, 2008

Robert Bork sucks

Sorry, but I just don't know how to put it more succinctly. It might not be high-minded political discourse, but it's the effective equivalent of what the likes of Bork, Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Mark Levin have been spewing against John McCain of late.

Judge Bork, in a recent appearance on Mark Levin's radio show, said this about the current occupant of Barry Goldwater's old senate seat:

“I don’t think that Senator McCain or Governor Huckabee deserves to be called a conservative.”

Who died and left Bob Bork as the ultimate arbiter of true "conservatism?" (I thought Andrew Sullivan already had that job.) Bob Bork has about as much business lecturing me on conservatism as Britney Spears lecturing me on childrearing, or me lecturing anyone about temperance.

I used to like the guy, but that was before I got to know him. Why my fellow brethren on the right continue to fawn over him is beyond me. Yes, I know Reagan appointed him, but he also appointed Kennedy and O'Connor, and I don't see the masthead over at National Review swooning over them.

I was brought up to believe, as Ronald Reagan did, that a limited, constrained federal government was the primary principle behind American conservatism, and a guarantor of American liberty. I think that if Ronaldus Maximus (Peace Be Upon Him) were still with us today, he'd breathe a sigh of relief that Bork was not confirmed to High Court. Look, I know how distasteful it is to be on the same side as Ted Kennedy about anything, but consider how well Bork's opinions fit with the Reagan/Goldwater definition of limited government conservatism.

  • Bork glibly denigrated and disparaged the Constitution's Ninth Amendment, which was traditionally cherished by conservatives as a bulwark against expansionist government.
  • He has written against jury nullification, implying that we, as juries, do not have the right to refuse to convict our fellow citizens under unjust laws.
  • Conservatives support tort reform and hate trial lawyers, right? Check this out.
  • Bork has openly and unashamedly called for blatant government censorship.
  • And, worst of all (and this should really preclude Bork from ever opening his fat trap to disparage someone else's conservative bona fides) he has opined that the Second Amendment does not imply an individual right to bear arms.
  • Plus, he's starting to look more and more like Tony Randall all the time, as the above picture shows.

Well, fie upon him (fie, I say!) But truth be told, this post isn't really even about Bork. Rather, it's about John McCain. I look at the recent polls that show him with a double-digit lead nationally, and I'm encouraged... but I'm still damned nervous. The mass-market Right has launched a concerted broadside against the good ship McCain, and like it or not, they have considerable influence amongst the people who are likely to vote in Republican primaries.

I'm heartened to see McCain with a lead in South Carolina. I'd like to think he can hang on to it, since Lindsey Graham (God bless him) and much of the Palmetto State GOP machine is behind him, but can South Carolina polls truly stand up to this sustained anti-McCain barrage? I'm already starting to hear reports about Fred F'ing Thompson (Rush's clear favorite) surging in my old home state.

God only knows. But to this day, John McCain remains the only politician I have ever donated money to. I think that tonight, I may go donate some more. I have a sinking feeling he may need it.

Light bulb, RIP

This is old news by now, but I've been too lazy/busy/pissed off about to say anything yet. The Democratic congress passed legislation, which was duly signed by the Republican president, to ban the plain old ubiquitous American incandescent light bulb (presumably in favor of mercury vapor filled compact fluorescents.) Even more depressing, the ban was apparently passed with essentially no real debate on the matter. Did you hear anything about this before it passed? I didn't.

For fuck's sake, people. Is this really how few champions of limited government we have in Washington these days? In case you've wondered how a racist, anti-Semitic crackpot like Ron Paul can attract such a rock start following for his presidential campaign, wonder no longer.

January 12, 2008


For seven years, Democrats have been blissfully united in their opposition to George W. Bush. We all knew it wouldn't last, of course, and now in a hotly contested primary season, it's all coming undone. And sometimes spectacularly, as with this Lawrence O'Donnell piece over at the Harridan Post, in which Larry verbally waterboards John Edwards. Money quote:

If John Edwards stays in the race, he might, in the end, become nothing other than the Southern white man who stood in the way of the black man. And for that, he would deserve a lifetime of liberal condemnation.

Heh, this is gonna be a great winter. Pass the popcorn beer.

My hero, "Bozo Miller," RIP

Man, they don't make 'em like Bozo Miller, anymore. Billed by Guinness as the "world's greatest trencherman," Miller earned his fame with feats such as these.

He once won a contest in Idaho Falls, Idaho, by eating 30 pounds of elk and moose meatloaf. He boasted of downing 25 bowls of minestrone and 30 pounds of shrimp, and drinking a whole bottle of gin in a single chug on a bet, then offering to buy the loser a drink. His Guinness records -- in categories no longer recorded in the book -- were for eating 27 two-pound pullets of chicken, and for downing 324 raviolis, each at single sittings in 1963. Guinness noted that he downed the first 250 raviolis in 70 minutes. Then there was a delay while the Rendezvous Room restaurant in his home town of Oakland, Calif., replenished its supply.


And he boasted of seldom suffering indigestion, except once, in 1942, when a snack of 10 pounds of cheese crackers made him ill. He said he often sank a dozen martinis before his first lunch of the day.


A competitive spirit drove him, he said. Too often in periods when he tried to diet, someone would challenge his gustatory supremacy and he would suddenly find himself downing 25 7-Ups or three steaks. "A friend will say, 'Hey Boz, eat a jar of white horseradish for my wife,'" he told the Los Angeles Times in 1972. "I can't say no."

Miller has passed away January 7, a few days shy of his 90th birthday (take that, Mike Bloomberg!) Bozo, I hope you're in a place now where your gin bottle never runs dry and your ravioli plate never needs replenishing. Thanks for the living inspiration you were. Rest in peace, and rest assured that I will find some "suitable" way of honoring your legacy this weekend. (It will probably involve a trip to Costco and the wholesale liquor store today and a trip to CVS in the morning.)

January 11, 2008


It's a fun news day. I'm trying to decide which story I like better, the one about MoveOn.org hiring The Onion's editor, or Dennis Kucinich asking for a recount.

January 10, 2008

Rudy's big-ass tax cut

I still like Rudy Giuliani as a candidate, and for reasons that have nothing at all to do with 9/11, even though we're repeatedly told that is his only supposed selling point.

Balls, I say! (Yes, "balls.") Based on his record as mayor of New York, I already suspected I was going to like him on pocketbook issues, and the fact that Steve Forbes is his chief fiscal policy adviser stoked my enthusiasm even more. And now there's this: the "biggest tax cut" in U.S. history.

Well I don't know about that, but the plan goes well beyond "making the Bush tax cuts permanent." There's a lot there to like, including

  • Cut the corporate tax rate to 25%. (With the rest of the world already moving in this direction, we can no longer afford to have one of the highest rates on the planet, a fact which even Charlie Rangel seems to recognize.)
  • Cut the capital gains rate to 10%, and, more importantly, index it to inflation (the indexing is a no-brainer)
  • Index the AMT to inflation (another no-brainer) with an eye toward eliminating it entirely at some point
  • Scrap the inheritance tax permanently
  • Reduce number of income tax brackets to three, with the top rate being 30% (which sounds like enough to me.)

What's even more refreshing is that he proposes accompanying these changes with actual spending cuts, including a 5 to 10 percent reduction in federal agencies. Why not? I subscribe to P.J. O'Rourke's "circumcision rule," which states that you can take ten percent off the top of anything.

It's unrealistic to expect all this to actually be implemented, of course, but economic issues are a big motivator for me, and I really like where Rudy's head's at here (feel free to insert joke about Rudy's ass in the comments section.) Fred Thompson's tax proposals look positively tepid by comparison.

(And yes, I know that Mike Huckabee earned points with JMK and others by proposing to implement the Fair Tax, but I'm not buying it. There is much about the Fair Tax that appeals to me, but it is far less likely to see the light of day than all of Giuliani's proposals added together. Moreover, I don't think Huckabee's heart is in it. I think he glommed on to the Fair Tax in a transparent attempt to inoculate him against his record as a chronic tax hiker.)

January 09, 2008

Believe the money

It's been simultaneously disgraceful and highly amusing to watch the media, pundits and pollsters trot out all these pathetic, retro-rigged explanations as to why they got New Hampshire so horribly wrong. But meanwhile, check out the candidates' contracts on Intrade.


Interesting, huh? Obama has never, ever cracked 40, not even during the 24/7 non-stop post-Iowa media lovefest. See, it's the easiest thing in the world for some pundit to pull some baseless predictions out of you know where, but when people are putting real money on the line, they tend to be much more serious and sober when picking a horse. That's why I'm such a fan of predictive markets.

Don't screw this one up, please

Now that we're finally back down to reality after the week-long, 24/7 Obama media swoon, the real story is once again the Republican race. I'm cautiously optimistic about McCain's fairly easy win last night, but I'm still not getting my hopes up. He won New Hampshire big in 2000, after all, and we know how that turned out.

But one difference this time is that there's no one else there to go to. Huckabee may pick up another few states while Romney and Giuliani atrophy and fall off the vine, but that's okay. I'm reasonably convinced that in a two-man race between McCain and Huckabee, Republicans will ultimately rally and do the only sane thing.

One potential fly in the ointment is the listless Fred Thompson. Many disaffected conservatives just can't seem to let the idea go, even though (ass Soobee pointed out in the comments) even Fred himself seems to have abandoned any pretense to be taken seriously.

And there's still a lot of virulent animus towards McCain on the right. Rush Limbaugh, for example, is braying that McCain isn't a "true conservative." One can, of course, make that argument, but if your definition is strict enough to disqualify McCain, then it certainly also must disqualify our current president, for whom Limbaugh has slavishly carried water for the better part of a decade now. What are McCain's most egregious apostasies? Immigration? Bush shares it. CFR? Bush signed it. And while Bush was hell-bent on destroying any last vestiges of the GOP's reputation for spending restraint, John McCain was a lonely but consistent voice for a return to the core value of fiscal conservatism.

So in short, Rush Limbaugh is an idiot. We tried it his way in 2000, and it didn't work out so great. Republicans now have a rare opportunity at a second chance here, and I really hope they don't blow it because of their obsession with ideological purity regarding John McCain.

I know I'll never convince all the McCain-haters in the GOP to actually like the guy. But I am hoping they can at least wake up and smell the coffee long enough to realize that he is the party's only realistic hope of maintaining the White House.

And if they don't? If they choke on pulling the lever for the "RINO" McCain and cast their lot with Fred Thompson or Mike Huckabee? I hope they enjoy their eight years of one-party, Democratic rule. I hope they enjoy paying all those new taxes. They should pay them in silence, with no bitching about it, because I, for one, am not going to want to hear their whiny, ditto-head asses.

January 08, 2008

Far out

I usually don't put much stock in this internet quizzes, but this one seems to have me nailed down pretty well, at least towards the top of the list. Here are my results. Try it yourself.

66% Rudy Giuliani
65% John McCain
62% Bill Richardson
59% Mitt Romney
58% Mike Huckabee
55% Mike Gravel
54% Ron Paul
53% Chris Dodd
53% Hillary Clinton
51% Fred Thompson
50% John Edwards
50% Barack Obama
48% Tom Tancredo
48% Dennis Kucinich
42% Joe Biden

2008 Presidential Candidate Matching Quiz

(Hat tip to Soobee, who is clearly the Most Democratic Human Ever.)

January 06, 2008

I just don't get it

Can someone please explain to me what's so damning about Hillary Clinton's "heated" response during the most recent Democratic debate? It seems to be burning up the internet, but I have no idea why.

What's the big deal? She's not hysterical, she's annoyed. And why not? I think she showed remarkable restraint in dealing with that smarmy, blow-dried, faux-populist trial lawyer. Trust me, I've seen Hillary shrill and harrying, and this ain't it.

Quote of the day

I guess I'm not the only one who finds Edwards and Huckabee equally distasteful. George Will also sees a pattern.

[Huckabee] and John Edwards, flaunting their histrionic humility in order to promote their curdled populism, hawked strikingly similar messages in Iowa, encouraging self-pity and economic hypochondria.

Sounds about right. I also love Will's characterization of Huckabee as "a compound of Uriah Heep, Elmer Gantry and Richard Nixon." Heh.

January 05, 2008

Iowa thoughts, BOLD predictions! The DENNY'S election!

I was pretty happy with the results from Iowa, not because of who won so much as because of who lost.

The way I see it, Romney was the big loser of the night. As much as I dislike Huckabee (who is as diametrically opposite me on more political issues than any politician in my memory) I kind of enjoyed watching him deliver a crushing broadside to Romney's campaign. Forced to choose, I'd obviously prefer Romney to Huckabee, but here's the difference. Mike Huckabee stands approximately zero percent chance of winning the Republican nomination, much less the White House. Romney, by contrast, was starting to make me nervous.

Back home, we used to have a saying about Denny's. No one ever goes to Denny's, it was said. You just end up there. It's true, and I think this primary season is a lot like that, especially among the Republicans. I talk to a lot of people who say the Republicans can't nominate Giuliani because he's pro-choice, and they can't nominate Romney because he's a Mormon, and they can't nominate McCain because of CFR and immigration, and so forth. They make some good points, but the inescapable reality is that the Republicans are going to nominate somebody.

It's just like Denny's. The GOP base may not be thrilled with any of these folks, but one of them is eventually going to end up with the nomination. It's a bit like musical chairs. Whichever Republican happens to be enjoying a boomlet when the music stops gets the nod.

Until Iowa it was becoming all too easy to imagine the Republicans "ending up" with Mitt Romney. I'm glad Mike Huckabee made that less likely.

Among the Democrats, I think Edwards was the big loser, although Hillary's third-place finish got tons more ink. But Hillary, of course, will live to fight another day. Edwards, by contrast, was betting much more on Iowa, and the final results establish Obama as the "anti-Hillary" candidate. Edwards is largely finished. Hillary is not.

So now for the "bold predictions" part. On the Republican side, every scenario I examine comes up McCain. I'm afraid that might be largely wishful thinking on my part, and I'm trying not to get my hopes up, but his last-minute surge seems to be real.

And consider this. When Huckabee finally drops out (as he must, eventually) who is he going to endorse? In such a situation one does not pledge one's delegates to another also-ran, who will also be croaked out in the following round of primaries. One pledges one's delegates to someone who actually stands a chance of winning (and giving you a job in the new administration.)

So who's Huckabee going to endorse? He clearly despises the Mormon Romney. Pro-choice, gay-friendly, cross-dressing Rudy is right out. Absent Fred Thompson suddenly being taken seriously (please God, no) it looks like McCain to me. Sure, Huckabee probably has issues with the guy, but this is the Denny's election! Huckabee won't choose McCain, he'll end up with him.

On the Democrat side, I guess my money (and my hopes) are still with Hillary. I don't trust her, but I like her because I think she's the only grown-up in the race (and by "race," I mean the top tier. Biden and Richardson are both stronger candidates, in my opinion, but they're finished. What else is new? Democratic primary voters seem positively allergic to voting for actual experience.)

For pure entertainment value, I'm grateful that Obama seems to be making it look like an actual horse race. But frankly, I can't really understand all the hype about the guy. I think this piece pretty much sums up how I feel.

Sen. Obama is a Rorschach test. I see hope! I see brains! I see a whole new kind of politician! I see an amazing life story! I see an orator! I see a natural! I see a hero!

Well, real people aren't Rorschach tests. They aren't blank slates. And by January 2008, Senator Blank Slate, D-Ill., will be a messy chalkboard. He may well be a fabulous chalkboard with cool stuff all over it. But more likely, he'll be pretty much like an American politician, though perhaps one who is a great guy, with a big brain and a powerful voice.

I think the Rorschach test is a pretty good analogy. He's a likeable guy, and a blank enough slate that we can see what we want in him. Or, as Zora Neale Hurston said, "Ships at a distance have every man's wish on board." I also pretty much agree with Dr. Helen:

When I listen to people talk about Obama, I hear nothing but vague ideals mentioned such as "change, new ideas, something different than the mainstream, fresh voices," yada yada yada. But one thing I don't hear a lot about are his views on policy. What is his stand on Israel? How is he going to fund Universal Health care for everyone without cutting back on the quality of care and/or sacrificing research & development? If he cuts out taxes for 7 million seniors, how does this square with his belief that "everyone should pay their fair share," or does this only apply to corporations? How do you negotiate with terrorists? I have a lot more questions that I hope will be answered prior to the election, because we need more in a President than a breath of fresh air.

"Indeed," as hubby would say. Yet many of my friends -- well-meaning, intelligent people all -- have totally bought into the Obama cult, for reasons that frankly elude me. There's one friend of mine in particular who, when he talks about Obama, reminds me of Linus van Pelt talking about the Great Pumpkin. Like Lucy, I think he's a bit daft on this one issue, but I still love him. And at the end of it all, when he's shivering alone and cold in the middle of some godforsaken pumpkin patch in the middle of the night, I'll be there to bring him in the house and put him to bed.

So my predictions at this point? McCain and Hillary. And yes, I probably have a wishful thinking bias on both counts. Time will tell.