Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Take Five

1. Geez, Louise, what a bunch of whiners. I don't have any illusions about John McCain, never have really. I can take him for what he is: a center-right politician with an interesting biography. This is why I don't have to worry about the five stages of depression (or whatever) these people are going through. Also, I rather like him (You would.-- ed. Yeah, I'm a stinker that way.)

2. Since, pre-Fred, Rudy was my second choice (behind McCain), I'm also perfectly cool with his endorsement of McCain.

3. By the way, anyone who thinks Mike Huckabee is going to get even a sniff of the VP slot is smoking something. And that would be true even if Mitt Romney got the nomination.

4. If you are the sort of person who would write in to complain about the headline of this article, you really, really, really need a life.

5. The question still remains whether John McCain can win a two-man race. I guess we'll find out next week. Sort of.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Take Five

1. For the fourth year in row, I missed the State of the Union address. Darn. Whatever will I do?

2. Yes, I am an irresponsible citizen, why do you ask?

3. What's that? For whom would I have voted? Fred Thompson, of course. So the whole exercise is academic anyway.

4. Things about Florida you'll hear over and over again today and tonight:

(a) The panhandle is the most evangelical/socially conservative area.
(b) John McCain needs to do very well in the military-heavy Pensacola and Jacksonville areas.
(c) Miami has a large Cuban population. (Yes, you already know this. No, that won't stop them.)
(d) The I-4 corridor is the most politically and demographically reflective of the nation as a whole.
(e) Florida is "America's wang." (Fox Sports Radio only.)

5. You think I'm elitist? This guy writes a frigging poem about a Food Lion in Winchester, Tennessee. (NOTE: Slate redeems itself--in my book anyway--with this article.)

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Oh Joy, A Rebate Check

Stagflation anyone?

OK, I'm sorry, but I seem to recall Democrats bitching and moaning about this sort of thing back in 2001 and 2002 when the Republicans did it. I seem to recall it being described as a gimmick. Am I wrong? Somebody help me.

UPDATE: I wonder what congressional Democrats will think about the phrase "tax relief for American workers" now?

Take Five

1. I get ACK's general point, and I am certainly by no means opposed to making adjustments where necessary, but with Romney it's simply craven. He doesn't do these things in the course of governing, which sometimes requires adjustments. He does them for the sole purpose of getting elected to office. And, for the record, I could even deal with it if he does it once. But this is three times in a row now.

Frankly, I'd just prefer him to be wishy-washy, on these issues, if that's what he is. At least that's honest. "Wishy-washy" is where most people are on these issues anyway.

2. Re: Clinton v. Obama. I'm sorry. Have Democrats just now gotten the memo that the Clintons are a shameless, selfish bunch with little regard for anything or anyone but themselves? I mean, where's the surprise here?

3. I am so glad that Matt Pulle's back.

4. George Will does a fantastic job of taking John McCain to the woodshed. And he does it without all the whiny "he's so mean to us" crap I hear from a lot of conservative types.

5. An open convention. That would indeed be fun.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Assuming Anyone Even Cares


OK, with Fred now officially out of the picture, I have to go to my second choice: U.S. Sen. John McCain, a man with a number of flaws but still better--in my view anyway--than any of the other available options, including:

Gov. Mitt Romney: Some say that he was always Mr. Big Time Social Conservative, and just went the other way for the purpose of getting elected in Massachusetts. Others say that he was always a social moderate-liberal and that he has only recently changed his positions for the purpose of getting the Republican nomination for president. Count me in the latter camp.

Gov. Mike Huckabee: No, no and no. A thousand times no. Seriously, I would vote for a third-party candidate or Barack Obama than Huckleberry Mike. In any case, stick a flagpole in him: he's done.

Mayor Rudy Giuliani: I really admire this guy. I admired him even before 9/11. Anyone who can put conservative principles into action and make them work--in NEw York City of all places--is all right on my book. But, right now, the idea of putting him in charge of American armed forces--not to mention the FBI, CIA et al--gives me the willies.

And, anyway, John McCain isn't nearly as bad as some people make him out to be. Again, I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that he doesn't kiss the right rings. Well, that doesn't interest me much. If I wanted that, I'd go with Romney.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Take Five

1. I've been busy. And ill. So sue me.

2. Sullivan's obit on Fred:

I have to say I grew fonder of Thompson as the campaign dragged on. I guess I liked his ambivalence toward power: it's a small-c conservative trait that today's Republicans don't seem to have. And that remains part of their problem.

3. Internets scavenger hunt: find somebody somewhere who finds a way to tie Heath Ledger's apparently self-inflicted early demise to the fact that he starred as a homosexual cowboy in Brokeback Mountain. I'm not saying for sure that this exists on the tubes, but I wouldn't be surprised either.

4. I wish Sarcastro would just go ahead and call November's election so we can just get it over with now.

5. More on Fred:

Last night I talked with Cyndi Mosteller, a strong social conservative who headed the Charleston County Republican Party from 2003 to 2007 and who supports McCain. When I asked about Thompson, she said. "He was the most anticipated candidate that I have ever seen. So many people on the ground were ready to run the ball for him, and they showed up in strength, but he didn't really show up in strength. I think that probably Thompson is more of a private person. I don't really think he's cut out for the public run required of public office. I think it's almost a personality thing; it's certainly not an ideological thing. It's like the public energy and the will to run are a little bit lacking there." Talk to other South Carolina conservatives, no matter who they supported, and you'll hear similar opinions. Thompson had a huge opportunity here.

Via Kaus.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Take Five

1. Would somebody please tell Mike Huckabee to put a sock in it already? That's two much too long post-third-place-showing speeches in a row. Is there something in the genes of Baptist preacher types that makes them talk way too long? That's kind of been my experience anyway.

2. Congratulations to Mitt Romney. You got a Gold!

3. Is Rudy Giuliani still around? Oh right, Florida, our most un-southern southern state.

4. Well, Fred, this is it.

5. Sarcastro, really, you're embarrassing everybody.

Friday, January 11, 2008

McCain-Thompson? I Would Prefer It The Other Way Around, But I'd Still Be a Pretty Happy Fellow

From Time:

Fred Thompson can't be back. He hasn't been anywhere. He announced his candidacy three months ago and promptly...disappeared. Which raised the question: What in the world does Fred Thompson hope to accomplish with his non-campaign campaign? Put another way, at what point does losing to Ron Paul become too humiliating?

Happily enough, politics is a dynamic business. Things change. And by the time Fred Thompson arrived on the stage in South Carolina last night, circumstances had conspired to make him useful. His task: take out the preacher man on behalf of his friend Sen. John McCain and on behalf of the national Republican Party. In return, well, let's just say this: there would be a "quid" for the "quo."

Via Andrew Sullivan. WARNING: gay cooties through link.

FITP Presents: How To Be A Blogging Ideologue

Well, it's another presidential election year, which means the political blogosphere will be really hopping. I don't know about you, but in these times I think what the Internets need--what we all need really--is many more ideologically driven bloggers. We just don't have enough. So I'm going to do my part to bring more folks into the fold. After all, the more pointless blather there is, the better off the nation will be, don't you think?

You think you don't have the chops to be a blogging ideologue. You think you don't have what it takes? Well, you sell yourself short. It's really not that hard. Just follow these simple rules and you too can get into the game:

1. Subscribe to a set of positions and act as though those positions are 100% correct, with no room for doubt or error.

2. Never assume that anyone who is not on your "side" may just have an honest disagreement with you or that they have arrived at their conclusions through sincere means. Always assume instead that that person is motivated by some evil or otherwise nefarious impulse. If you are a religious or social conservative, for instance, you should assume that less-socially conservative conservatives are motivated by money and/or selfishness rather than honest intellectual disagreement. If you are a peacenik liberal, for another instance, you should assume that any other liberals who are more hawkish than you must be just doing what is politically expedient for them at the expense of higher principles.

3. Ignore new facts that come to light if those facts are inconvenient to your 100% correct position. By that same token, trumpet any new facts that support your 100% correct position. Bonus points: when trumpeting these new facts, make sure to criticize ideologues on the other "side" for ignoring these facts because they are inconvenient to their position.

4. Excuse any rude or untoward behavior you may exhibit toward others by pointing out over and over that this is what you have to do because you are Fighting for Something Very Important. More bonus points: act as though you’ve gotten the vapors when anyone you’ve attacked returns fire. Then use their perfectly legitimate response to you as proof of the righteousness of your position.

5. Treat anyone who is generally on your “side” like a traitor if they disagree with you on a few points. Be sure to beat your chest a lot about personal honor, party loyalty and so forth. By that same token, treat anyone who is not generally on your “side” as though they are somehow wonderful, honorable people if they occasionally step across party lines to support your “side.” Party loyalty only goes one way, after all. If you need an example, check out how some conservative ideologues treat John McCain. Now look at how many of those same folks treat Joe Lieberman.

6. Only focus on the positions people arrive at rather than how they got there to determine what team colors they’re wearing. As an example, if a generally liberal person is nonetheless interested in controlling immigration because of its effect on American workers, the liberal ideologue should declare this person no longer a “real” liberal, since we all know that there is no possible way someone could be opposed to open borders and still be a liberal. As an another example, if a generally conservative person is opposed to the Iraq invasion for isolationist, constitutional or other normally “conservative” reasons, you should nevertheless immediately write that person off as a liberal, because we all know that only liberals oppose the Iraq invasion.

7. Link only to bloggers and sites which reflect the view that everyone on your “side” is brilliant and everyone on the other “side” is stupid and/or nutcase. If you are a lefty, for instance, you must always link approvingly to any other lefty sites or bloggers, whether these sites or bloggers are completely whacko or not, while only linking to the most extreme conservative sites or bloggers to demonstrate how wrong and/or crazy all conservatives are.

8. Always extrapolate your personal experiences to the world at large and never allow for exceptions or use new information to adjust your positions (see number 3 for a refresher). For instance, if you were once unjustly terminated by a major corporation, you should naturally assume that all major corporations operate in this fashion. If, as yet another for instance, you once had a hippie-ish liberal neighbor who had a spoiled, bratty kid, you should assume that all hippie-ish liberals have spoiled, bratty kids.

9. Never, ever, ever admit you were wrong. It’s a sign of weakness. Remember, you are Fighting for Something Very Important here, and there’s no time for intellectual honesty. Which reminds me: you probably ought to determine what “important thing” you are going to be fighting for. If you need a jumpstart, here are some suggestions: God, the poor, minorities, women, small business people, world peace, the free market, freedom and/or liberty. There are hundreds of these. Just pick the ones that get your particular motor running.

10. Measure your talent as a blogger only by how many people already on your side agree with you along with by how many people not on your side completely despise you. Remember: these are the only two sorts of people in the world.

Always glad to help. Now get to it. You have an election to screw up.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Take Five

1. One of the things that has disappointed me about Glen Dean lately is that he seemed to have given up his previous persona as a thoughtful--if somewhat erratic--blogger. But he redeems himself (in my eyes anyway) with this very honest response (in other words, no BS about McCain's stance on particular issues and the like) to my McCain question:

There’s a lot more to it than campaign finance reform. Thompson supported that too and we all forgave him.

It’s really more personal. He has snubbed the base in favor of the Washington elites, especially the media, on many occasions. He even called the media his base. To the small government/libertarian wing, he comes across as authoritarian and statist. We just don’t like him. In spite of all of that, the guy is cerainly a hero and would probably be a formidable candidate in the general election, due to the fact that a lot of Republicans hate him. That makes independents like him.

More of that sort of thing, please.

2. Stop encouraging him. It's really not worth it. He has no particular interest in your opinion, he has no particular interest in real debate and he has particular interest (or evident capacity for) intellectual growth. So, seriously, just stop.

3. "Michigan will be a much, much better test, but in New Hampshire, Huckabee's appeal still seemed, at bottom, religious."

4. Sean and I do have some similarities, it's true. But there is, I think, one difference: he is on the anti-establishment side of his party whle I am more or less on the establishment side. But I think each of us has the same top priority in mind: we are interested in the good fortunes of our respective parties, but we both believe that those fortunes are much tied to effective governance (though we may each define that differently) than those we are "opposed" to within our parties, who seem more interested in mere political (and usually short-term) gain.

5. More crying.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Take Five

1. The Empire strikes back! Now I really am interested. This, as Drudge says, is indeed going to be fun. (Incidentally, the 10-year anniversary of Drudge's breaking of the Monica Lewinsky story is just around the corner).

2. Something that needs to come to an end: the continuing disdain of John McCain among a lot of conservative movement/grassroots types. Cripes, it's been eight years, and the man has carried a lot of water in the meantime. He's also been right about a lot of things over the past few years, a lot more right than George W. Bush has been, by the way. OK, so he didn't kiss your collective butt back in 2000, and so he gets a lot of plaudits from the mainstream media. Fine. Be wary, if that makes you feel better, but, otherwise, look at the whole picture. And get over it already.

3. Glen Dean, writing about Music City Bloggers:

It seemed like Ivy had taken this thing a little too seriously. She created this chain of command, filled with highly emotional females.

Right. Because we all know how unemotional, thoughtful, dispassionate and deliberative Glen Dean is.

4. Sarcastro, we are not worthy.

5. Hitchens. Need I say more?

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Take Five

1. "Fred Thompson has that Emperor Palpatine thing going on...and I like that."

2. Batten down the hatches, that is, if you have any hatches.

3. I got my letter from the Davidson County Election Commission yesterday informing me of their little mishap. Basically, they said there wasn't much that could done but here was a nice form letter they were required to send me saying so. Thanks guys!

4. This post irritated me, because, frankly, it didn't make any sense. It's about a week-and-a-half premature and completely gets Fred Thompson wrong. I espcially love the "monomania" and "stubborn" stuff, this from a guy who I believe was once (and for I know still is) a fan of Howard Dean.

5. Margaret Thatcher was called the Iron Lady, which for one thing indicates that she never cried on cue when the chips were down.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Another Example Of Fine Parenting

When people ask me, as they still often do, just why I moved out of Nashville to Williamson County, I can now reply with something like this:

"Because a school system that has to service the children of parents who do things like purposefully drop their 12-day old children on their heads in gas station parking lots is probably a school system that is doomed to failure."

Call me an elitist if you wish, but I think that's a standard most of us can agree on, no?

Take Five

1. Q. Gosh, Roger, what's your problem with allowing people to comment on your blog?

A. Gee, Q, I have no idea.

2. Crazy thought: perhaps people like Obama precisely because he isn't capital-P partisan. Just saying.

3. I think they got about as far as they had a right to go.

4. Why were they so reticent to say where he was? Weird. Was it becase they were embarrassed that we was out if the country for some reason? Was it the fact that it was Africa? It's 2008: you don't have to be physically around to get a lot of things done anymore. Most people are sophisticated enough to know that. Give the public some credit.

5. Sarcastro does a better job of political prognostication (and punditry, for that matter) than most people calling themselves pundits. Why? Well, he's no dummy for one thing. But it also has to do with the fact that he has an actual life in which politics is at best a secondary concern. He has a real person's perspective on things, which comes in handy when you're making predictions about what real people will do (i.e., the heart of politics itself).

Friday, January 4, 2008

Street Corner Conservatives

Kleinheider suggests that it makes sense that folks who are motivated by cultural concerns and feel left out of the (ostensible) benefits of supply-side economics would go for Mike Huckabee.

Yeah, there's probably something to that, though I think the appeal of Huckabee has much less to do with his economic platform than it does with his current status as the Republican Religious And Cultural Conservatives Can (Presently) Agree On Because He Is Rather Religious In The Same Or Similar Way We Are. In other words, I think the econimics are secondary. Case in point from Wes Comer: "I’d rather have morals in the White House than a few extra Benjamin’s in my pocket."

Now, I'd suggest that having "morals in the White House" as your principal aim is about as pointless as rooting for rampant celibacy in Las Vegas, but, anyway, I think this is a good example of what Huckabee supporters are putting first and foremost in their minds.

At which point we turn to the always delightful Peggy Noonan:

[Huckabee's religious supporters] have been bruised and offended by the rigid, almost militant secularism and multiculturalism of the public schools; they reject those schools' squalor, in all senses of the word. They believe in God and family and America. They are populist: They don't admire billionaire CEOs, they admire husbands with two jobs who hold the family together for the sake of the kids; they don't need to see the triumph of supply-side thinking, they want to see that suffering woman down the street get the help she needs.

They believe that Mr. Huckabee, the minister who speaks their language, shares, down to the bone, their anxieties, concerns and beliefs. They fear that the other Republican candidates are caught up in a million smaller issues--taxing, spending, the global economy, Sunnis and Shia--and missing the central issue: again, our culture. They are populists who vote Republican, and as I have read their letters, I have felt nothing but respect.

But there are two problems. One is that while the presidency, as an office, can actually make real changes in the areas of economic and foreign policy, the federal government has a limited ability to change the culture of America. That is something conservatives used to know. Second, I'm sorry to say it is my sense that Mr. Huckabee is not so much leading a movement as riding a wave. One senses he brilliantly discerned and pursued an underserved part of the voting demographic, and went for it. Clever fellow. To me, the tipoff was "Don't Mormons believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?"

My sense is that Mr. Huckabee's good supporters deserve a better leader.

Take Five

1. If Iowa is indicative, what I've long feared has finally happened: the average Democratic presidential primary/caucus voter is now more politically sophisticated than the average Republican presidential voter. I hope this is just a blip; what we need is a market correction.New Hampshire cannot come soon enough. Five days and counting.

2. Congratulations to Barack Obama. I seriously doubt I would vote for him in November, should that opportunity come to pass (though this would of course depend on the competition), but I think we could do a hell of a lot worse than Barack Obama, and anyone willing to stand up to (and beat, even if temporarily) the Clinton Mafia deserves serious plaudits. And, yes, I was wrong with my prediction back in January 2007: he's viable.

3. I was also wrong regarding John Edwards. He's still hanging around. Only God knows why. I sill doubt he'll make it much past the Southern swing, especially now that Obama has proven himself, which should make him (Obama) more attractive to previously tentative African-American voters.

4. I will change my template from black to some other, happier, more vibrant color if Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney collapse and the Thompson-McCain coaltion/wing of the GOP fills the void.

5. Jack Shafer takes it to whiny lefties who think the New York Times Op-Ed page is somehow their personal ideological playground.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Just A Little Context

“I didn’t win a race until I got to Georgia,” Bill Clinton, in jeans and an overcoat, told a small group of reporters. “You just got to keep going. It is a long process.”

True, but...

1. Iowa was uncontested in 1992.

2. Since he was from Massachusetts, Paul Tsongas was a semi-favorite son in New Hampshire in 1992.


3. Bill Clinton didn't begin the race as the odds-on frontrunner.

Take Five

1. How not to bolster your argument, by Gail Kerr:

The commission then did a smart thing: Instead of making yet another partisan appointment, they promoted Ray Barrett, a career election commission employee,to be in charge. He is most definitely on the hot seat right now. And it is certainly possible that someone should be fired.

Barrett might get fired? So how, pray tell, was promoting him a "smart thing"? I guess I'm missing something.

2. Some kind of partnership along these lines would make me politically happy for the first time in years. I know that will make you feel better.

For the record, I posted the following over at Bob's place a couple of weeks ago. Still holds true:

My choices are:

Thrilled to vote for:


Happy to vote for:


Could tolerate voting for:


Would seriously consider voting for for something like U.S. senator, congressman or governor, but not for the presidency:


Could not vote for at all, unless it was for youth pastor or something like that:


Well, actually, I think I would change one thing: I don't think I could vote for Mike Huckabee for youth pastor either. Fortunately, as a Methodist, I won't ever have to.

3. I had to show my photo ID to pay for my lunch yesterday. Just saying.

4. I won't even venture a guess. I have no predictions, only hopes, such as not having to hear about Mike Huckabee anymore.

5. Pictures of Vegas.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

You're Going To Have To Do Better Than That

Jim Grinstead is all bent out of shape about requiring people who vote to show photo identification. The theory is that this will disenfranchise people who don't have photo identification. Because, you know, it's so difficult to get a photo ID of yourself made.

But Jim assures us that you don't need a photo ID requirement to have secure elections. Why, just look at Wisconsin!

Wisconsin offers on site, election day registration. During the 2004 elections, I worked as poll watcher and observed dozens of people arrive at a precinct, many who had never voted before, walk in, be registered and vote.

Expecting a high turnout for the election, officials had brought in extra staff to handle the registration chores while allowing registered voters to move through the polls smoothly. The process worked and only a handful of ballots were later disqualified.

Wow! "Only a handful!" Well, I don't know about you, but I certainly feel better. I'm sure all of the others were somehow perfectly fine, never mind that these particiular ballots might indicate a larger problem. Of course, we will never know for sure. Notice, for instance, that PN doesn't share with us just what the process was for these new voters. He just talks about how well-staffed it was, as though the key to voter security is mere efficiency at the ballot box.

And then there's his penultimate graf:

It is possible to have fair, open and honest elections without silencing the voices of any segment of the population.

I don't know about you, but this average reader was sort of expecting some, you know, actual examples of ways to go about this (that presumably don't require photo IDs). Jim provides none that I see. Guess we'll have to wait for the next post for that.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year!

I gave up the old Flank Two Position back in February 2007 with the public pledge that if I ever got back to individual blogging I would not do so until 2008. And, to myself, I made the pledge that if, at any time on New Year's Day 2008 I would have an urge to blog, that I would consider that a sign to restart a personal blog. And damned if it's not one of the first things I thought of this morning. So here we go. Again.

One thing I am going to do differently: there will be some rules from the beginning. I'll post them as soon as I think of them.

Bottom line: I'm ambivalent about blogging. Sometimes I love it. Sometimes I hate it. But I keep being drawn back into it, so I guess it's either a net positive for me or I'm just a pathetic addict. Probably both.