Thursday, January 31, 2008

Getting Off the Straight Talk Express

John McCain is now the front runner for the Republican primary. He won a close Florida primary over Romney, getting a bump just before the election thanks to Governor Crist's endorsement and his lies about Romney on Meet the Press. McCain has been roundly criticized by the media for his claims that Romney supported the Democrats' demand for a timetable for withdrawing our troops from Iraq. McCain made the charge on Sunday to Tim Russert, twisting a Romney quote regarding secret timetables that President Bush and the Iraqi government should have to measure progress. Very Clintonian. I'm so upset, I could find a group of like-minded citizens and run an ad letting the American people know about this distortion. Oh wait, McCain-Feingold made that illegal.

Romney has his work cut out for him, especially since Huckabee hasn't gotten the hint that he should drop out, which hurts Romney in the South. However, based on CNN's exit polls of the Florida primary, Romney won the pro-lifers, the Protestants, the pro-Bush voters, those identifying terrorism, immigration, or taxes as their most important issue, and those identifying themselves as conservative or very conservative. Romney was the second choice of most Giuliani supporters. In short, Romney won with Republicans, but McCain won the primary because of independents that register as Republicans.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Why They Hate Mitt

The American Thinker has a great summary of why the other Republican candidates have such a distaste for Mitt Romney: it's not just the hair.

Economists on Recruiting

Bad news: the nation's top recruit, Terelle Pryor, is heading to Ohio State. Well, Ohio State has a 40.2% chance anyway (Michigan has a 37.9% chance). A couple economists have a computer model that can accurately predict the destinations of the top high school football prospects (ht Freakonomics). The model has correctly picked the schools for 72.5% of the top 100 recruits over a two year period. This model puts science to the whims of these teenage phenoms. The model includes more than two dozen variables and reveals some surprises: recruits don't care how many players you put in the NFL, or how stacked you are at their position. Also, recruits from the West and Northeast were less likely to stay close to home than those from the Midwest and the South. What was most important? "According to the model, they usually will pick the BCS-conference school nearest their hometown that has the biggest on-campus stadium and won the most games last season. Not the past five seasons, mind you."

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Happy Birthday, Vast Right Wing Conspiracy!

Today marks ten years since the birth of the "Vast Right Wing Conspiracy." On January 27, 1998, Hillary Clinton said the following on national TV about a brewing intern-related debacle:
This is the great story here for anybody willing to find and write about it and explain it is this vast right-wing conspiracy that has been conspiring against my husband since the day he announced for president.

The American Thinker reminds us of what it was like with the Clintons in office:

Hillary expected serious Americans to believe that the Whitewater convictions (which put a sitting Arkansas governor in prison), the suicide of the Deputy White House Chief Counsel under mysterious circumstances, the unconscionable firing of the White House travel staff, Hillary's strange acumen in predicting the cattle futures market, an allegation of brutal rape against her husband, the perjury of Bill Clinton in a federal grand jury proceeding, his affair with a White House intern, and the countless other moral debauches of the Clintons were created by some cabal with power greater than the president, the Democratic Party and the huge phalanx of media flacks, fawning Hollywood starlets, militant activists and nihilistic academicians.

Friday, January 25, 2008

The Big Stimulus

Sadly, I will be getting a check from the government as part of the bipartisan stimulus package (assuming the Senate passes the bill). Unfortunately, I don't make enough to be excluded, but I'll gladly take the money. I'm conflicted on this whole idea. I will never complain about the government letting us keep more of our own money. However, that's not exactly what is happening and that's certainly not the motivation for this package (at least from the Democrats).

The first problem is that this legislation gives two false impressions: that our economy is in the tank and that the government can fix it. We are not in a recession. A recession is two consecutive quarters of declining GDP. We haven't even had one quarter. However, there are real fears that 1st quarter '08 will show a shrinking economy and people in Congress like to get reelected. A stimulus package worth billions is a band-aid to a multi-trillion dollar economy. The market has to correct from time to time.

The second problem is that people making too little to pay taxes are receiving this "tax rebate." Those with adjusted gross incomes above $75k ($150k for a couple) get nothing. So the government is effectively taking money from those who pay the vast majority of income taxes and distributing it to the middle and lower class (the top 25% of earners pay 83% of all income taxes, the bottom 50% pays only 4%). Not only have the lower class done nothing to earn this money, but they are more likely to use it to pay down debt instead of stimulating the economy by spending it. Noble Laureate economist Milton Friedman (pictured) argued that consumers will increase spending in response to permanent tax cuts, but would save most of any temporary tax cut.

I'll never argue against a tax cut, but making the Bush tax cuts permanent would have been a much better idea.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

WMDs and Iraq

Scott Piro, Saddam Hussein's FBI interrogater, claims that Hussein misled the world on his supply of WMDs in order to intimidate Iran. Piro says that Hussein was completely surprised that the US invaded (probably because the French and the Russians assured him that they wouldn't allow it, in order to protect their illegal oil and weapons deals). Saddam planned to restart his WMD programs as soon as posible. "Saddam] still had the engineers. The folks that he needed to reconstitute his program are still there," says Piro. "He wanted to pursue all of WMD…to reconstitute his entire WMD program." Of course, it's still possible that he shipped them all to Syria. Or you could go with the Democrat version - that President Bush made it all up because he likes war.

Bill Clinton Has a Dream

In case you didn't see this video of President Clinton's nap on MLK day (ht Rudi)...

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Primary Update

Last week we had five viable candidates for the Republican nomination. Romney's win in Nevada, McCain's win in South Carolina, and the current polling data in Florida seem to have narrowed the field down to two. Giuliani's "the first six primaries/caucuses don't matter" strategery has backfired. He needs a miracle to win Florida and resurrect his campaign. The latest poll has Romney at 25%, McCain 20%, and Giuliani 19%. This was before Thompson pulled out, and most of those votes will probably go to Romney. Whoever wins Florida will be the unquestioned front runner going into super Tuesday. 

A McCain/Romney match up (I would have preferred a Romney/Giuliani contest) will be about fundamental differences in opinion. Will the Republican party continue to stand for the free market, pro-growth policies and the rule of law? Or will we nominate a candidate that uses class warfare to oppose tax cuts, bashes big business, favors amnesty for illegal immigrants, and wants to destroy our economy with massive global warming taxes?

Note to Democrats: our race is actually about issues. Yours is about one thing: race. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Obama's Disturbing Advisor

I've commented before on Barack Obama's Muslim ties (he was raised as a Muslim by two Muslim fathers and attended a Muslim school). He became a Christian 20 years ago (if you call it that, as he believes all religions lead to heaven and there is no hell), but there's new, disturbing information on his church.

Obama joined the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago in 1991. He then pledged allegiance to the "Black Value System," which advocates socialism and black nationalism. The church encourages blacks to separate from American society, pool their money, only patronize black-owned businesses and only vote for black political leaders. The ethics system tells blacks to avoid white "entrapment of black middle-classness," which will keep them "captive" to white culture. Rev. Jeremiah Wright is Obama's spiritual advisor and "sounding board" during the election. The man who married Obama and baptized his children is also a huge supporter of black supremacist Louis Farrakhan, who accused the US government of blowing up the levees in New Orleans to kill blacks and is fond of calling whites "blue-eyed devils." Rev. Wright traveled to Libya with Farrakhan to meet with terrorist leader Muammar Qaddafi and called the 9/11 attacks a "wake-up call" to "white America" for ignoring people of color.

Obama says his faith has led him to question "the idolatry of the free market." Obama needs to answer for the radical and dangerous ideas he has pledged to support.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Romney Wins On Economic Message

Romney trounced McCain in Michigan tonight for his second primary win. Romney has 42 delegates, double anyone else. He's the only candidate that's been competitive in each state. Exit polls showed that Romney cleaned up with voters who listed the economy as their biggest concern. With the war in Iraq improving so much it's off the front page, the shaky economy is likely to be the biggest issue in the general election. Romney's economic message resonated with Michigan voters. The economy may be his big advantage over McCain and Huckabee.

Romney has great business experience - he founded Bain Capital, a hugely successful venture capital firm that made Staples, Brookstone, the Sports Authority, and many other great companies household names, producing thousands of jobs and boosting the economy. He was tapped to take over the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics after it racked up a $379 million operating deficit and was mired in scandal and controversy. Despite these problems and the security challenges (only a few months after 9/11), the Olympics ended up a huge success. Washington overspends - mortaging our future with budget deficits to buy votes today and over taxes - slowing our economy and punishing achievement. Romney inherited a huge deficit as governor of Massachusetts, yet he balanced the budget each year without raising taxes. Romney and his free market ideas are the change this country needs - not more entitlements, taxes, and regulation.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Global Warming in Baghdad?

Apparently not, as it snows for the first time in 100 years.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

She's Baaack

Cartoon from the American Thinker

Do Delegates Matter?

I understand that momentum is important in primaries and that winning gives you momentum. However, what actually counts at convention is how many delegates you have. McCain won New Hampshire, but only picked up 7 delegates. And now he's the front runner? Romney is actually the leader in delegates with 30, after coming in second in Iowa (12), first in Wyoming (8), second in NH (4) and his 6 Superdelegates. Huckabee is in second with 21. Michigan is really important for Romney, but the Republican race is much different than the Democrat race, which is essentially down to two candidates. The Republicans still have at least four with a realistic chance at the nomination (Romney, McCain, Giuliani, and Huckabee).
Romney has some strengths going into Michigan - it's his home state, his dad was a popular governor there. Michigan's economy is in the tank and Romney can point to his experience turning around companies, the Winter Olympics, and the economy of Massachusetts as Governor. As Governor he took a $3 billion deficit and left office with a surplus without raising taxes. Romney accomplished this by cutting spending and with various programs to stimulate the economy.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Republican Primary - the Details

Amid all the media coverage of the primaries, nobody really talks about how they work. Here's what you need to know about the Republican Primary:

The primary kicked off in Iowa last week and voting will continue until June 3. The 2,380 delegates up for grabs will vote at convention in September. The Sept. 1-4 convention is the latest ever. The Democrats wanted to wait until after the Olympics to hold their convention and the incumbent party usually goes second because it puts them at a political and financial advantage. Each state is awarded a different number of delegates by the Republican Party. Each state automatically receives 10 delegates, plus their two RNC delegates and the chairman of the state Republican party. They get 3 more for each congressional district and extras for having Republican U.S. Senators and Governors, controlling the state legislature, and for voting for President Bush in '04. In some states, the winner takes all, in others they are divided proportionately.

No state is allowed to hold their primary before February 5. However, five states (Wyoming, New Hampshire, Michigan, South Carolina, and Florida) are holding their primary before that (Iowa is not included because it holds a caucus). The RNC voted to take away half of their delegates for this transgression. The states are willing to do this in exchange for having a greater influence on the national primary. Winning the early primaries gives candidates the all important "Big Mo" that can carry them to victory, so the candidates shower them with attention. It doesn't seem to make much sense to start with these states, but it is the state's decision. The only way to change it is to stiffen the penalties for starting early.

I think the early primaries are more important for the Democrats, as they begin with more liberal states. How New Hampshire votes probably won't have a big impact on Republicans from the south (see here). It will impact Michigan, though. After a great performance last night, Governor Romney seems to be closing the gap on Senator McCain just in time for tomorrow's New Hampshire primary (keep in mind that NH is a proportional state). Also, 45% of New Hampshire voters are independent and many of them are getting sucked into the Obama tidal wave and will ask for a Democratic ballot instead of a Republican one.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Diddy Wants You - To Register To Vote

Don't be like Puff Daddy, Diddy, whatever, who did all that "Vote or Die" stuff for MTV, urging young people to vote for Kerry, yet failed to even register. Somehow he's still alive... hmmm. Anyway, this Tuesday is the deadline to register for the February 5 Illinois primary. If you are already registered to vote, you do not have to register to vote in a primary, they will just ask you which party's primary you'd like to vote in when you get there. You can register at the Secretary of State, your city/village hall or at a lot of public libraries. Don't forget to bring at least ONE of the following:
  • A current and valid photo identification
  • A current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck
  • Other government document that shows your name and address

LOL Cats

Is anybody else a sucker for these photos from (they started the internet phenomenom known as LOL cats)? Cats don't spell very well...

funny pictures

funny pictures
moar funny pictures

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Romney Wins Wyoming

Romney won today's Wyoming caucuses. OK, I know it's not as important as Iowa, but it gives him a boost going in to New Hampshire. The debate tonight was interesting though. McCain showcased the most liberal stance on immigration, advocated socialized medicine via drug re-importation from Canada (where prices are set by the government) and made constant, petty personal attacks against Romney. Thompson had the right answers but, as usual, was less than inspiring. I love his conservative ideas, I just wish he acted like he wanted to win. Huckabee tried to stay above the fray and escaped without helping or hurting himself. Paul managed to fault monetary policy and inflation in every answer. Romney differentiated himself from McCain, his main competition in New Hampshire on immigration and health care and rose above the constant personal attacks from McCain. I am really starting to dislike McCain. Usually he comes across as principled and distinguished (even if dead wrong). Tonight he was neither, pandering to the New Hampshire independents and making smug comments at every turn about Romney.

Friday, January 04, 2008

On to New Hampshire

A big win for Huckabee last night in Iowa. However, this probably helps McCain more than Huckabee. I'm skeptical that Huckabee's shtick will play well in New Hampshire or Florida, although South Carolina is a maybe. McCain gets a boost for Tuesday's New Hampshire primary, where he has a slim lead over Romney. Governor Romney is easy to take shots at (changing his views on abortion, Mormonism, etc.) but there is no perfect candidate. Thompson's campaign has been very disappointing. He would have been a better Vice Presidential candidate had he not run in the first place. Romney is the only one running as a full spectrum conservative that is a viable candidate. Republicans may choose to reject conservatism and give Jimmy Carter Jr. (Huckabee) a try, or maybe the preeminent RHINO (Republican in name only), McCain. Romney needs to take a few of these early primaries or else no one will be able to stop Giuliani. I am warming up to Giuliani, hopefully the base can too if he wins.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Favorite Albums/Books of 2007

Here's a list of my favorite albums and books from the last year (they didn't necessarily come out in '07, but I first experienced them this year, OK?), in case you have similar tastes and some extra cash from all your Christmas returns.


1. Kings of Leon - Because of the Times (2007)
2. Radiohead - In Rainbows (2007)
3. Wilco - Sky Blue Sky (2007)
4. Arcade Fire - Neon Bible (2007)
5. Bright Eyes - Cassadaga (2007)


1. The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925) - maybe the best novel I've ever read.

2. Black Rednecks and White Liberals - Thomas Sowell (2005) - Six honest, decidedly un-PC essays on race: In "Black Rednecks and White Liberals" Sowell argues that much of urban "black" culture is actually based on the redneck values of southern slave owners and is now protected and promoted as something distinctly African-American even when self-destructive (Sowell is black). "Are Jews Generic" shows that the Jews have been hated around the world for their economic role as middle-men, along with other peoples that served the middle-man role. "The Real History of Slavery" gives a broader look (than we learned in school) at slavery throughout the world, showing that the U.S. and Great Britain were the first to reject slavery and led the charge in abolishing it throughout the world. "Germans and History" explores how the Nazis gained power in a country that was no more anti-Semitic than most other European countries. "Black Education: Achievements, Myths, and Tragedies" gives examples of successful inner-city schools and shows how their successful strategies have been trampled by trendier ideas. The final essay sums it all up.

3. The Language of God - Francis Collins (2006) - Dr. Collins is the head of the Human Genome Project and a Christian. He addresses the conflict between science and religion (written for laymen).

4. Black Hawk Down - Mark Bowden (1999) The moment-by-moment account of a 1993 operation in Mogadishu that went terribly wrong.

5. Sex God - Rob Bell (2007) - Not a how-to (sorry to disappoint), but an exploration of relationships, physical and spiritual.