Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Naming Rights at the UW Business School

Tony Palmeri is among the many in Wisconsin who have noted the arrangement to keep the state's public business school named after the Badger state. Most seem happy with the fact that no one individual was able to use the school to coddle an already over-sized ego, but there is a considerable financial advantage to not selling naming rights for the time being (recall that the gift only keeps the school unnamed for the next 20 years):

Why would a school want to keep open the opportunity to name itself? The answer seems to be that the price tags for naming business schools are going up faster than just about anything, including the returns to university-managed endowments. Perhaps this is because naming schools is the province of the ultra-rich, who get where they are because they can build wealth faster than conventionally managed funds. So if the school sells the name today and invests the money, it gives up the opportunity to sell the name for a higher current value later on. Wisconsin's solution is to rent the name for 20 years. It allows the school to use a large gift today, without foreclosing the possibility of a much larger naming gift in the future. To really determine how much value it adds, we would have to make assumptions about what the giving behavior of the members of the partnership would have been over that period in the absence of this gift (with or without a conventional naming gift).

An Impending '08 Sex Scandal?

Ron Rosenbaum [via TMV] can't help himself anymore and plays a kind of "blind item" game:

So I was down in DC this past weekend and happened to run into a well-connected media person, who told me flatly, unequivocally that “everyone knows” The LA Times was sitting on a story, all wrapped up and ready to go about what is a potentially devastating sexual scandal involving a leading Presidential candidate. “Everyone knows” meaning everyone in the DC mainstream media political reporting world. “Sitting on it” because the paper couldn’t decide the complex ethics of whether and when to run it. The way I heard it they’d had it for a while but don’t know what to do. The person who told me )not an LAT person) knows I write and didn’t say “don’t write about this”.

Rosenbaum goes on to specifically say it is not John Edwards, who was the subject of a laughable National Enquirer "expose" a few weeks ago.

I admit it -- I love a good scandal, especially a superficial sex scandal, and this is almost twice as good because it involves it allows me to engage in wild and totally unfounded speculation.

First off, let's determine who the "leading" presidential candidates are here. Obviously we're not talking about Mike Gravel. National Journal has the GOP rankings thusly: 1.) Rudy, 2.) Romney, 3.) Fred Thompson, and a tie for 4.) between McCain and Huckabee. Among the Dems the same publication has 1.) Hillary, 2.) Obama and 3.) Edwards, whom we already noted has been eliminated from equation.

It's hard to say if the fact that this may be coming from the LA Times has anything to do with whom it may be. It could mean the person has a California, or at least a West Coast, connection; but it could also just as well mean nothing (remember, Rosenbaum said everyone in DC knows about this and the LA Times does have one of the better DC bureaus in the country). There's not really much else to go on.

One thing's for sure: if it's a Republican it will hurt the whole GOP field by reinforcing the recent string of conservative indiscretions. If it's a Democrat, the field loses the ability to drop Mark Foley and Larry Craig's name with much resonance, but something like this would certainly hurt Republicans more.

Then again, it could be nothing.

MORE: Matt Yglesias also takes note.

EVEN MORE: An update from TMV.

Banksy Strikes Again!

Bethnal Green, London

More From the DARPA Monster Truck Rally

Danger Room has really taken a shine to Oshkosh Truck's entry in the unmanned truck category.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

"I have my flaws, but the message has no flaws"

That right there is a magnificent line. Any politician can use it. Every politician probably should use it at some point in there careers. I don't care who the person is or what his or her flaws are, nor do I care what the message is or how many flaw it actually has. That line is pure rhetorical gold. It simultaneously exudes humility and confidence and invites potential supporters to be a part of something bigger than either themselves or the speaker. This little phrase was hands down the best thing I heard any of the presidential candidates say today.

So who said it?

It was not Rudy Giuliani, who spent the day speculating on the content of Hillary Clinton's E-vite list.

It was not Joe Biden, who used the Democratic debate to put Rudy Giuliani in his place*.

It didn't come from Romney, Edwards, Fred Thompson, Obama, or crazy ass Duncan Hunter.

It came from Ron Paul.

While talking to Jay Leno ...

And was followed shortly thereafter by the Sex Pistols doing a Sid Vicious-less version of "Anarchy in UK."

Babblemur had a post today on the Ron Paul phenomenon in Oshkosh. There is now visual evidence of the Paulines' campaign in town and one can only assume there will be more to follow in the not-to-distant future. Last summer the NY Times Magazine ran an article on the loose consortium of "fringe" groups supporting his candidacy and, as Babblemur noted, the 9/11 Truth folks can look like a MENSA convention next to some of them. Paul's most vocal supporters on the web include Lew Rockwell and Andrew Sullivan, the extremely popular openly-gay conservative blogger at the Atlantic, which is interesting because the only blogger in Oshkosh to openly support Paul -- and arguably the most most loathsome person in the city limits -- is a virulent homophobe. Paul's appeal clearly attracts all kinds ...

Which is very interesting. Babblemur brings up the similarities between Paul's current campaign and Ralph Nader's 2000 run while examining the possibilities of a third party foray for Paul following what will likely be a loss in the primaries. It's tempting to make such a comparison, and it's not entirely unjustified, but the differences are fairly stark and distinguish the two campaigns.

First: Paul's in it to "win" it. It's all or nothing for Paul. He's running like he's got nothing to lose, largely because he, in fact, has nothing to lose. Nader's camp was more focused on building a viable third party for the future and to that end shot for the 5% of the popular vote that would enable them to receive public financing as a major political party. That didn't happen and in the aftermath of the Florida recount debacle the Green Party took a lot of shit because ...

(2.) ... Nader's 2000 campaign message was almost exclusively catered to disillusioned voters. Yes, Nader had a platform that addressed all kinds of issues, but the central reason for voting for Nader was to create a third party that could compete with the big boys. Getting elected on discontent alone is nearly impossible. Creating a long-lasting movement on discontent alone is even harder. Paul's Libertarianism appeals to a large swathe of people in the way that mere discontent does because ...

(c.) His message is easier to understand than Nader's. Don't get me wrong: the internecine debates within the Libertarian community are actually incredibly interesting and nuanced but ultimately more conducive to summary in a quick quip. Paul's "We have to start following the constitution!" refrain is a lot easier to understand than "Multinational corporations are disenchanting the electorate by liquidating the content of the information flow to the public yadda yadda yadda ... and the the divergence in message is only further compounded by the fact that ...

(4.) Paul is an infinitely more effective communicator than Nader. He's energetic, passionate about what he talks about and his enthusiasm is contagious. Nader is droll, and frequently comes off as a pedantic, humorless, know-it-all who knows better than you do how to run your life. Nader has the credentials to back up his conviction, but so much about leadership and politics is
appearance and in that department he's got nothing.

Differences aside, were Paul to run a third party insurgency he would likely achieve the same ends that Nader did in 2000 but on the opposite side of the ideological spectrum. In fact, he'd probably have better results and given the emerging libertarian moment may succeed in creating a viable long-term third party.

But that's not going to happen. Paul clearly knows that it's easier to convince the GOP to reclaim it's libertarian sympathies than it is to build from the ground up. I think Paul will have walk away from the '08 election in a position to promote what could be called "second wave libertarianism" (the first wave being the brand espoused by Barry Goldwater). Paul's congressional office is famous for its skill with constituent services and translating that talent into some kind of libertarian lecture tour could enable his supporters to build an the start of a permanent infrastructure that could slowly push the GOP away from the theocon/neocon clique that it currently seems enamored of ...

If they aren't excommunicated from the party first.

TABOR & "Starve the Beast"

The most innovative thinking on the "starve the beast" tax policy has come from the communist pinko halfway house known as the Cato Institute, which has basically said that the theory does not work. Now the Reason Foundation is adding a new log to the fire by equating starving the beast with TABOR:

I see TABOR as akin to the "starve the beast" solution to government spending. This belief is that tax cuts mandated before spending cuts will necessitate the later due to the enormous budget shortfalls. As this paper has shown, tax cuts that come before spending cuts often leads to a longer term INCREASE in government spending because voters react to the budget deficits not with supporting further government spending cuts but with voting for pro-tax and higher spending politicians.

TABOR proponents have the causal effect of government budgets backwards, the problem is with spending and not taxation. A better solution is to have policies more thoughtfully and strategically plan spending reductions, such as through privatization or reducing wasteful expenditures.

(emphasis added)

The Left has never accepted what I like to think of as the Iron Triangle of Voodoo Economics -- the Laffer Curve, "starve the beast," and TABOR -- and now it appears that the the Libertarian wing of conservatism is actually leading the charge against it with an arsenal of fresh ideas. Hopefully, this will put an end to the prospects of Wisconsin adopting TABOR in the future.

Fred Thompson's Cancer

A couple of Fridays ago I spent the day wondering if Fred Thompson was not lazy, as the popular media narrative would have the public suggest, but was instead unhealthy. This was largely based on having seen Thompson's flatline speech in front of the Value Voters Summit. I have to admit that I started to second guess myself following a much improved showing at the Orlando debate last week, but Fred still seems to be plagued by moments on the campaign trail that seem to admit of the "questionable health" explanation.

Now some of the more influential bloggers are taking note, including Jane Hamsher of FireDogLake (channeling Atrios at Eschaton), who's own battle through chemo gives her an interesting perspective on Thompson's health.

This could be the moment the "Fred is Lazy" narrative starts to change into the "Is Fred Sick?" question. Hamsher's post has been up for what looks like 4 hours now. So far there doesn't seem to be any links to the specific post (according to Technorati, in any event), but it has inspired 80+ comments. If Thompson keeps missing his cues he's going to start hearing a lot more questions about his health.

Latest Wisco President Poll

Clinton wins head-to-head match ups against six GOP contenders in the latest Survey USA poll [via Pollster]. McCain is the only potential nominee running within the margin of error (+/- 4.3%) against Hillary. The poll comes complete with plenty of ancillary data including breakdowns for gun-owners, the uninsured, preferences by geography, and even how often respondents watch "Law and Order."

Binge Drinking for Charity

I'm catching up on my weekend reading and just got around to this last Sunday's NW editorial denouncing UW-O's Goat Pack Downtown Pub Crawl.

Why wasn't this editorial written during the now annual ClownAttack pub crawl? In the context of the central criticism of the event, i.e. "Don't encourage binge drinking – ever," how are the two different? Both events are essentially excuses for binge drinking under the guise of a charitable event ...

What about the bachelorette parties that rent buses -- on which drinking also occurs -- to move from bar to bar all across town? What about the numerous fund-raising events which count on alcohol sales by attendees thrown by individual charities in town? And tailgating? (The latter two were brought up by a commenter responding to the editorial.)

What about EAA and Country USA?

Let's not pretend for a second that some forms of binge drinking are not only acceptable, but encouraged both here in Oshkosh and in Wisconsin.

I'm not suggesting these kids should be given medal for their entrepreneurial spirit, but let's not ignore the follies of their elders when making such sweeping statements of condemnation.

If the Northwestern, UW-O, the Oshkosh Police Department, the Tavern League, MADD, or any other business or concerned citizen in Oshkosh has a problem with this, there are (at least) two courses of action:

(1.) Piss and Moan. This is what the Northwestern has chosen to do. If you're 21 in Wisconsin you can drink. If you want to organize 600 of your closest friends to come join you for a night out on the town, there's nothing stopping that either. Whining about it six days before it's scheduled to happen will do nothing.


(2.) Work with them. Apparently this is not an option the NW has bothered to consider. If, as the NW claims, that this is merely an excuse for binge drinking (and there's every reason to suggest that it is) wrapped in faux-altruism, then sit down with the organizers and start making this about charity and not about getting boozy.

Here's a suggestion: why doesn't the NW (or anyone else in town for that matter) donate $1000, $2000, $3000, or whatever, to the Pub Crawl. Literally put your money where your goddamn mouth is. Sponsor the event ... but do so under certain conditions. Work with the organizers to make sure that safe transportation is provided, that binging is not encouraged, that food is provided to keep people from drinking on empty stomachs, that sober organizers are around to troubleshoot any unforeseeable issues, that activities are planned at each of the destinations that take the focus off drinking, that work with police to establish a conspicuous presence on the night of the crawl, etc.

In other words: regulate the pub crawl. Don't preach from on high about how what they are doing is irresponsible and blah blah blah. College students don't want to hear it, aren't going to listen, and they have no reason to do either.

Dispense with the ineffectual moralizing, come down from your high horse and show them how to do this responsibly. Don't tell them what to do. Invest some actual time an energy in showing that you care. That's how you can get students to listen to you. Not by writing prissy editorials tut-tutting an activity that is quietly allowable for citizens of the "real world," but not for college students. That's the easy thing to do. Alcohol consumption in Wisconsin is a deathly seriously issue, one that will need hands-on solutions and not just smug, self-satisfying and lazy advice that everyone loves to agree with in public, but knows is more complicated in practice.

MORE: Miles Maguire points to an article in Time that shows how Madison dealt with their once out of control Halloween parties. Well worth noting.

America's Ideological Pantheon

The Times of London is putting together a list of the 100 most influential conservatives and liberals in America. It's an ongoing series that will roll out during the rest of the week, so the newspaper has only revealed the lower two quintiles.

Two quick observations:

(1.) It's always interesting to see what the American political landscape looks like from the perspective of a foreigner.

(2.) The list -- at least so far -- feels more like VH1's 100 Most Awesome One Hit Wonders of All Time than it does Foreign Policy/The Prospect's Top 100 Public Intellectuals. The influence of celebrity is fairly conspicuous and nearly all of those celebrities seem have a shtick that is used repeatedly to hammer home one view or another.

[via NRO]

Clinton < 50% vs. Ron Paul

Hillary Clinton can't seem to break 50% in a hypothetical head-to-head throw down with Ron Paul. Not among people who know who Paul is. Not among people who have no idea who Paul is. Says Patrick Ruffini: "[T]his is the most compelling evidence I’ve seen that we’re back to the 50-50 divide that marked our politics from 2000-2006."

Ruffini's assessment of the Rassmussen poll seems reasonable given Clinton's moderate views of the world and Paul's, um, "eccentric" policy positions, but I wouldn't be so quick to conclude that this horse race will come down to a photo finish. Team Clinton has taken the long view of building support by building a sense of inevitability among voters and so far it's worked. She faced some stiff competition in the Democratic primary and has slowly widened the gap between her and Obama and Edwards and there's every reason to assume that she will be using the same strategy against her general election opponent.

That being said, the same kind of sharp polarization that Karl Rove manipulated to great success in 2004 may be a current by-product of a apparent Hillary Clinton nomination, but one that could change in the future, according to Charlie Cook:

The pattern from the polls is clear: Clinton never wins big, generally holding a lead of 2 to 8 points over Giuliani and 10 to 13 points over Romney. But her leads are consistent. She has a high floor and a low ceiling, like a stock with a fairly narrow trading range. She doesn't trail, but she doesn't ever blow the Republican opposition away, either.

What seems to be happening is that Hillary Clinton is not really becoming more likable, she is becoming less unacceptable. She doesn't seem to convert people so much as wear down their opposition to her.

Hillary Clinton may evoke a divisive split among public opinion at the moment, but she's going to grind out her opposition and slowly try to erode any voter objection to her during this campaign. We may be experiencing a 50-50 divide now, but it's entirely reasonable to suggest that this split will slowly and undramatically begin to tilt in Clinton's favor during the next 12 months.

Monday, October 29, 2007

"Don't Mess with Wisconsin (or its Unmanned Trucks)"

Reviews are coming back from the DARPA Urban Challenge qualifying trials, and Wired's Danger Room is giving Oshkosh Truck's TerraMax raves.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

She was such a Disappointment ...

This is the actual lede of an obituary recently published in the Times of London:
Eve Curie, the daughter of Marie Curie, was the only one of her family not to receive a Nobel prize.
Ouch ...

Read the rest of her bio. Eve Curie was more of a Renaissance Woman than her brilliant parents, dabbling in a variety of artistic fields.

Milestones: 20 Years of "Borking"

Shaun Mullen over at TMV sheds a lonely tear on the anniversary of Robert Bork's rejected nomination to the Supreme Court. I'm sure he'll understand if I reserve my sympathy for a more deserving figure.

While Bork's nomination was in many ways a sign of nomination processes to come, his selection was ill-advised from the very beginning. Bork's role in the Watergate scandal assured the Reagan White House they were going to be in for a fight with Senate Democrats who had just regained the majority on the heels of the Iran-Contra scandal:

Robert Bork was Nixon's solicitor general and became acting attorney general during the "Saturday Night Massacre." Nixon, fearing that Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox was close to uncovering the truth about his involvement in Watergate (Cox was requesting tapes of Oval Office conversations), ordered then-Attorney General Elliot Richardson to fire Cox. The unwilling Richardson resigned, and Nixon passed his order on to Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus, who also refused, and resigned.

Nixon then turned to Bork, who carried out his wishes. Still, the firing would turn out only to be a stopgap. The Supreme Court eventually ruled that Nixon had to present the infamous tapes.

That act alone was likely enough of a deal-breaker to scuttle the nomination before it ever making it to the hearing room, but, alas, it did not. The Bork hearings have a full-figured legacy: they certainly set the stage for the ultra-contentious Clarence Thomas hearings, some argue they launched the contemporary conservative movement's obsession with what would later be framed as "judicial activism," and they allowed Justice Anthony Kennedy to bring a far more moderate vision of conservatism to the Court. Plus, of course, the addition of a new verb into the American political lexicon.

For many "originalists," Bork is a martyr, but since his nomination's failure he has demonstrated a nasty habit of behaving in a manner unbecoming of a Supreme Court Justice. Most Justice's, when not writing their memoirs, tend to publish books outlining their judicial philosophy (nearly all of which praise the American judicial and legal system in one way or another). Bork saw fit to repeatedly lambaste American culture, going so far as to argue, in effect, that the only way save it is to censor it. Earlier this year, he sued the Yale Club for damages relating to injuries incurred after falling from a dais during a speech. This despite his long-standing opposition against such law suits and advocacy for tort reform.

It's easy to play the "what if" game with Bork ... Would conservatives have rallied around the "judicial activism" banner if Bork's nomination succeeded? Would organizations like the Federalist Society be as important in conservative circles as they are today without getting the Bork wake-up call? Would George H.W. Bush have chosen a judge as conservative as Thomas with both a Bork and a Scalia already on the bench? If he had, would Bush 41 have fought so hard for Thomas during his controversial hearings without having witnessed what happened to Bork just a few years prior? Frankly, I'm of the opinion that those questions (and countless others) are best left as hypotheticals.

Secrets of Levitating Hippies Revealed!

Perhaps you've had a chance to see this hoser "levitating" in Lafayette Park across the street from the White House. If you haven't, knock yourself out:

Alright, that's very clever...

It's also total bullshit.

In case you didn't notice, the video doesn't show the guy in the process of getting to his hovering position or how he descended back to Earth. This "Flying Dutchman" is actually sitting on a seat that has been attached to the pole that he seems to be unnecessarily holding onto. The chair is discrete enough to be hidden in the folds of the dude's baggy pants. The whole "levitation" act is more a matter of balancing the various forces involved in the physics of this enterprise on the end of the stick.

The trick is ancient, though, unlike it's distant Hindu relative the Indian Rope Trick:

So the moral of the story is don't buy this guy's line about learning from the Hindu masters and receiving some award from the Indian government or whatever it was he was peddling.

Still, it's not a bad way to get some attention though, especially when you decide to find a unique and photogenic location to ply your trade (say, right in front of the White House?).

At the end of the day, it's all about context, never about craft.

Today, We are All Macacas

Maybe George "Macaca" Allen was on to something ...

When it comes to their social behavior, people sometimes act like monkeys, or more specifically, like rhesus macaques, a type of monkey that shares with humans strong tendencies for nepotism and political maneuvering, according to research by Dario Maestripieri, an expert on primate behavior and an Associate Professor in Comparative Human Development and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Chicago.
In any event, I don't think Allen was speaking anthropologically when he made his now infamous gaffe.

MORE: From Freakonomics.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Mr. 13%

Two days ago, Stephen Colbert was polling at 2.3% in a hypothetical Democratic party primary with his name on the ballot.

Today he's polling at 13% as an independent in a three-way competition with Clinton and Giulinai. Not surprisingly, the kids "get it":
In the match-up with Giuliani and Clinton, Colbert draws 28% of likely voters aged 18-29. He draws 31% of that cohort when his foes are Thompson and Clinton. In both match-ups, Colbert has more support with young voters than the GOP candidate.
Yup, the emphasis was in the original.

To review: Stephen Colbert has jumped from 2.3% to 13% in two utterly unrelated polls that ask two vastly different questions, neither of which take into account the reality of his proposed campaign (he's only running in South Carolina, the polls were taken from nation-wide samples). Still, THAT'S A 10+ POINT JUMP IN THE POLLS!!!

[via Pollster]

MORE: The hype continues!

Giuliani & Iran

I've noted earlier that Rudy Giuliani's foreign policy is crazy, but now there are two articles out today demonstrating just how autocratic and violent a Giuliani presidency may be.

The first is "Rudy Awakening" in this month's Washington Monthly, which suggests that Hizzoner would likely carry on the tradition of failed management that has caused such disfavor among the public with the current administration:

Many Giuliani watchers already understand that Rudy is a hothead and a grandstander, even a bit of a dictator at times. These qualities have dominated the story of his mayoralty that most people know. As that drama was unfolding, however, so was a quieter story, driven by Giuliani's instinct and capacity for manipulating the levers of government. His methods, like those of the current White House, included appointments of yes-men, aggressive tests of legal limits, strategic lawbreaking, resistance to oversight, and obsessive secrecy. As was also the case with the White House, the events of 9/11 solidified the mindset underlying his worst tendencies. Embedded in his operating style is a belief that rules don't apply to him, and a ruthless gift for exploiting the intrinsic weaknesses in the system of checks and balances. That's why, of all the presidential candidates, Giuliani is most likely to take the expansions of the executive branch made by the Bush administration and push them further still.


The second focuses on Giuliani foreign policy adviser Norman Podhoretz, who feels quite comfortable speaking for his employer when he says:

MR. PODHORETZ SAID he has seen ample evidence that Mr. Giuliani supports the idea of military strikes. He referred to a speech to the Republican Jewish Coalition earlier this month in which Mr. Giuliani said, “If I’m president of the United States, I guarantee you we will never find out what they will do if they get nuclear weapons, because they’re not going to get nuclear weapons.”

Although Mr. Giuliani’s closest competitors, Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson, have also tried to project a tough line, Mr. Podhoretz said he doubted their nerve.

Do I think that Giuliani would take that action? I personally think he would,” said Mr. Podhoretz.

(emphasis added)

MORE: Creepy ... Steve Benen points out the same two pieces.

The Weakest Analysis of the Budget Vote You're Going to Find

And the winner is ...

Jessica McBride, ladies and gentlemen!

Ms. McBride supplies her dutiful readers with this map:

Now, the dots represent the home towns of the members of the Republican caucus who voted Yes on the budget. As Ms. McBride explains, the reason these folks voted the way they did is because -- I shit you not -- "They are largely not in Talk Radio Country."

Pardon me?

I've been to Green Bay, they have talk radio there. Same deal in Fond du Lac. I've actually never been to La Crosse, but I've heard lovely things and would have imagine that they have harnessed the awesome power of the transistor radio on the shores of the mighty Mississippi ...

What Ms. McBride is trying to say is that all of the members of the Republican caucus who voted for the budget are not from Southeastern Wisconsin, because we all know that suburban Milwaukee and environs is the center of the known universe.

Please ... you call that analysis?

Don't feed people this self-important bullshit about not being in earshot of talk radio. If a constituent wants something done they can cut out the middle man and call their representative's office directly -- talk radio is hardly the conduit to power in Wisconsin AM radio would have you believe. The only thing talk radio has the ability to do is to have talk show hosts whip their audiences into a berserker frenzy.

The Republicans who voted for the budget did so for the same reasons any opposition party member would vote for similar legislation: they were part of the leadership crew that negotiated the thing in the first place (hence the red dot in West Salem) or they got some goodies stuffed in the package (Oregon in the house!).

So, please, Ms. McBride: kindly do us all a favor and get out of Cartography 101 before the drop date. I hear there are some openings in a few of the Intro to Political Science classes still available.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

We're Going Streaking!

Alright, even thought the Brewers didn't make the play-offs, you have to tip your hat to the Colorado Rockies, who are on one helluva tear:

The Rockies, winners of 21 of their last 22 games, have lost just one game in the last 38 days. Their last road loss was nearly six weeks ago, on Sept. 13 in Philadelphia. Yet after becoming the first team since the 1976 Cincinnati Reds to win their first seven postseason games, no one is giving them much of a chance.
That's impressive, very impressive; but not as impressive as the streak of Charlie Radbourn:

On July 23, 1884, Providence Grays pitcher Radbourn begins what may be the most remarkable feat in baseball history. ‘Old Hoss’ pledges to pitch every game for the rest of the season if the Grays would agree not to reserve him for the following year. He pitches in nine straight games, winning seven, losing one and tying one. He takes a ‘day off’ and plays right field before returning to pitch six more consecutive games. He plays shortstop for a single game and then pitches in 20 more consecutive games, winning 10 before having his 20-game win streak stopped. He would lead the NL in wins with 60, an ERA of 1.38, innings pitched with 678.2, strikeouts with 441, complete games with 73 and winning percentage with a .833 mark.

(emphasis added)

Best thing about the streak: it was totally unnecessary. The Grays won the pennant by 10.5 games.

RedState & Ron Paul's Legions is no longer allowing Ron Paul supporters -- or those new to the web site, in any event -- to "pimp" their candidate. Some conservatives have disagreed with the decision on principled grounds ("There are worse impulses than libertarianism." Like censorship?*).

I have to wonder if it's a bad idea on practical grounds. The Paulines have shown themselves to be rather adept at playing the internet game, which means there's probably a few in that crowd with some hacking skills. You'd have to wonder if by effectively banning discussion of Ron Paul on the web site that is basically asking to be hacked.

* Yes, I know it's not quite that easy, but the situation and the comment beg for that kind of response.

Headlines that Signify a Truly Kick-Ass Adolescence

"Scores strippers help pass out candy at Halloween carnival"

[via Gawker]

Tomorrow's Shitshow Today!

Babblemur's reporting that Oshkosh City Councilwoman Jessica King is running for Carol Roessler's state senate seat.

Unless Roessler retires, I don't anticipate anything less than a good old fashioned clusterfuck for the next 12 months. One expensive, messy ... oh, you get the picture!

I know of nothing that indicates that Roessler is planning on retiring. She ran unopposed last time around and may have been thinking she'd receive little challenge in '08. But that was before folks started renting out billboards on highway 41 asking her not to run again. She's no longer in the majority, and will not likely be getting back there soon -- why not call it a career and go cash in with some lobbying shop? That way she'd never have to come all the way "back" to the district to cut the ribbon at the new elementary school or whatever.

We'll see. Until Roessler actually comes out and says "I'm in," there's going to be speculation about her retirement. One of the reasons I tend to doubt that she will call it quits is the lack of a viable replacement candidate. The two other Republican assembly reps are John Townsend and Carol Owens, so that's not happening. Unless the state GOP can recruit some hot shot without a voting record, they'll probably ask her to stick it out.

Like I said, we'll see.

Sell-out of the Day: Rudy Giuliani

From Taegan Goddard:

"I'm rooting for the Red Sox."

-- Lifelong New York Yankee fan Rudy Giuliani, quoted by the AP, on a campaign swing through Boston about his pick to win the World Series.

This is no small thing for the people of New England, who are likely to see right through this rather blatant attempt to to pander to New Hampshire voters.

All of which is just a great excuse to pass this post along

The KSK Guide To Being An Insufferable A--Hole S--thead F--kface Fan Of Boston-Area Sports Teams

[via RD]

MORE: See what I mean?

Anti-Hillary Sentiment & Election '08

After the GOP debate on Sunday I made an observation on the Republican candidates attempts to smear HRC:

Treating her like the front-runner, even by trashing her, only plays right into her hands. Frank Luntz was exactly right when he was begging that focus group of troglodytes for answers on why they approved so heartily each time the candidates slammed Hillary: every second devoted to beating up on the Clintons is a second they are not using to discuss their principles. Save the attacks for TV ads, radio spots and surrogates. John Kerry thought anti-Bush sentiment would be enough to get him into the White House -- how well did that work out for him?

Today I see Dave Wiegel at the American Conservative (via RCP) and James Joyner (via Kevin Drum) are on the same page with that argument. Here's Joyner quoting Weigel:

Yet for all of that outrage, Republicans lost that election to the Clintons. And the hope that voters will see what they see and reject what the Clintons stand for resembles the plan Democrats clung to in 2004. They choose John Kerry on the theory he would be the least controversial general-election candidate, then counted on an electorate fed up with George W. Bush to deliver the election.
Let me add another element to this discussion. The way Hillary bashing is currently being framed, the discussion seems to suggest that the negative campaigning will be a one way street; namely, that the GOP will be beating up on poor defenseless little Hillary Clinton. This is an incredibly naive assumption. If the Republicans think for a second that Team Hillary is not prepared to unleash Hell on whomever the nominee is, they are in for a world of hurt. I'd plan on there being a constant exchange of negative campaigning during the '08 election that may, in effect, negate each sets of messages. Having an actual plan for the country will be important once each side has slimed each other beyond recognition.

Profiles of Third Parties: the Prohibitionist Party

Take it away, Modern Drunkard Magazine.

[via AmSpec]

Ominous Headline of the Day

"State Department urged to improve evacuation training"

This has been your Ominous Headline of the Day.

That will be all.

Monday, October 22, 2007

FAA Humor

You know how every airport has a three letter FAA code (example: Appleton's is ATW)? Well, the Sioux City, Iowa airport had been stuck with SUX for a while now and was looking for a change. So they filed out the appropriate paperwork (probably in triplicate) and one of the options FAA gave them to choose from turned out to be GAY.

The airport folks are now exploring alternatives.

MORE: Like making hats & t-shirts.

Are You Sure You Want a Mayor?

We could end up with this guy ...

Debate Review & Round-up


The only President I saw on stage was John McCain. The "tied up" line was the best of the night. Standing next to most of his colleagues (especially Giuliani) McCain is starting to actually appear calm, possibly the first time many people would accuse him of being so.

Mike Huckabee continues to exude a certain charm that I think is slowly acclimating itself to GOP voters.

For some reason Rudy Guiliani seems to be getting better in these kinds of venues, but I can't really determine why. His rhetorical and oratorical tics are increasingly grating. Of all the major candidates he seems to stutter the most often and he uses inflection and emphasis in strange and inconsistent ways when he wants to draw attention to specific words or phrases. His use of repetition seems almost entirely dependent on crowd reaction. I focus on how he says things because content-wise he's really not saying much of anything at all.

Ronald Reagan. He was totally awesome. We get it, already.

Hillary Clinton: Treating her like the front-runner, even by trashing her, only plays right into her hands. Frank Luntz was exactly right when he was begging that focus group of troglodytes for answers on why they approved so heartily each time the candidates slammed Hillary: every second devoted to beating up on the Clintons is a second they are not using to discuss their principles. Save the attacks for TV ads, radio spots and surrogates. John Kerry thought anti-Bush sentiment would be enough to get him into the White House -- how well did that work out for him?

But what about Hillary's negatives, you may ask? Think again.


Fred Thompson held his own and looked much better than he did last Friday at the Value Voters forum, but he needs to start dazzling, and that he did not do.

The RoboPol3000 (a.k.a. Mitt Romney) looked kind of bland.

I like to think that for every word Tom Tancredo speaks, the GOP loses a hundred Latino voters for a generation (at the very minimum). Republicans would be wise to stop encouraging him, maybe even take him aside and whisper in his ear, "You know, Tiger, you gave it your best shot, but YOU'RE NOT HELPING."

Florida Republicans: The audience sounded like they were only interested in being pandered to and awarded applause accordingly.


McCain, no question. His line was probably the best moment of any of the debates (GOP or Dem) so far.


Health care. I have no idea what they are talking about when they speak about this issue and the general impression I get is that nothing will change in this department if a Republican gets to set the agenda. It was easy to attack HillaryCare in the '90s when it was the only game in town, but this time around all Clinton has to do is say "Oh yeah? What do you got?" Right now the answer to that question is clearly nothing, and for a lot of Americans HillaryCare -- no matter how it will be framed by the GOP -- is far better than nothing.


Duncan Hunter:

This is a historic venue. You know, 300 miles off this coast is a place ...

Think about that for a second. So, this historic venue that Hunter's talking bout is actually nowhere near this gathering? Is Hunter saying that the state of Florida is the historic venue? And it only got worse. The pandering to the Cuban-American electorate during a question about abortion, gay marriage, and the general nature of conservatism was ridiculous. I know politicians are supposed to answer the question they wished had been asked, but it's wise to generally stay within the same hemisphere of the topic.


Have you ever seen a guy with a bigger self-satisfied smirk on his face than when Hunter tangled with Romney on the Massachusetts universal health care program? The only way that grin could get any larger was if someone promised to spoon-feed Hunter his own feces.


Where's Alan Keyes?


Despite being considered the "maverick" or "loose cannon" candidate in a party that demands its members to fall in line, Ron Paul is probably the most disciplined debater of the crew. All his answers come back to the Constitution. If it's details you crave, Paul will not be your guy, but the aptly-named Paul is not a bad apostle for the monastic devotion to the Constitution he espouses.


Susan Davis at the WSJ notes: "The Clinton name was mentioned 34 times at tonight’s debate. No other Democratic candidate received a mention."

Mark Ambinder thought Romney was impressive:

At long last, Romney defended and touted and bragged about the singular political and policy accomplishment of his tenure as Massachusetts governor: the health care system reform that provides every resident there with insurance. Watching him at other debates, it was easy to get the sense that he wasn't sure how to integrate his Massachusetts experience into his campaign narrative. The plan itself was written with the help of Heritage Foundation experts but it did not, in the end, comport with every conservative principle.

The Bull Dong Pundit at Ankle Biting Pundits also thought McCain won.

Soren Dayton surveys the field:

On a deeper level, McCain clearly moved the ball. Thompson clearly moved the ball. Giuliani is fine treading water. He looks like he could be President.

I think it was a bad night for Romney. And Huckabee had some cute lines, but he needed to really rock tonight to drive through his straw poll victory from the Value Voters conference. And he didn’t.

James Poulos on the need to focus on domestic issues:

All I can conclude for now is that Mitt Romney is the only guy who won't show up on a national ticket with any one of the other guys. And one other thing: Fred, McCain, and Huckabee are dead right that Republicans are doomed if they try to beat Hillary instead of recover their principles...

Okay, one other thing. People need to clearly separate themselves from the doom visited upon the Republican party by the Bush family. Are you more like Reagan or more like Bush? That's the question that counts. The hardest part of doing this is on foreign policy, because Hillary, running as a Rockefeller Republican, will use Restoring America's Respect Around the World as a crowbar. So if need be please compensate domestically. (This does not mean railing on about keeping taxes low, which is playing defense, but slashing Bush spending across the board, home and abroad.)

Chuck Todd makes an interesting observation:

It's 74 days until the Iowa caucuses (actually, just under 1800 hours) and clearly all of the major GOP candidates were feeling that pressure at Sunday night's debate. All of them were full of energy and had one-liners and barbs at the ready. For that reason, I'm having a hard time singling out a winner because everyone in the so-called 1st and 2nd tier was VERY prepared tonight.

The first 25 minutes of the debate was simply red-hot but then, almost as if on cue with the first pitch of Game 7 of the Red Sox-Indians and the kickoff of the Steelers-Broncos game, the debate stopped creating too many newsworthy moments.

Coincidence? Probably not. (Noam Scheiber notices the same thing)

Dave Weigel on the aforementioned Duncan Hunter nonsense:

8:27: Duncan Hunter traces the decline of the Democratic party to "a Democrat president" letting down the Cuban freedom fighters. It's important to remember that Ron Paul is the crazy one.

David Yepsen:

John McCain had the best night. Rudy Giuliani also turned in a good performance and newcomer Fred Thompson did much better than he did in his first gabfest.


Despite the good showings by these three, there was no big news or major mistakes that might change the dynamic of the GOP campaign. Given that it was held at the exact same time as the big baseball playoff game between the Boston Red Sox and the Cleveland Indians, that’s probably just as well.

If you don't think most of the country was watching the Red Sox game, read Michael Sherer.

Ana Marie Cox:

8:32 PM Ron Paul is not crazy. I don't believe that. But sometimes he yells like he's chasing the moderators off of his yard. I do love how he turned a health care question into a tirade against Iraq.


9:31 PM And it's over. Finally. Snap judgment: McCain had the best line, Rudy had the most good ones, Huckabee continues to shine but maybe not brightly enough. Fred needs to take a nap, and Romney totally knows how to use contractions. New in version 3.0!

The only Wisco bloggers with anything to say about the debate so far are Freedom Eden & No Runny Eggs.


Seriously, how weird was Frank Luntz's focus group?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Hip Hop, Martial Arts & Chess

Of course the Wu Tang Clan is involved.

Hey, There's Another Debate Tonight!

Jesus ... will these things not end?

Hands down the most enjoyable live blogging of these kinds of events is done by Dave Weigel at reason (his personal blog can be found here). Weigel gets The Chief's official endorsement and I'll pretty much be outsourcing tonight's and any future live blogging responsibilities to him.

MORE: Good Lord, where the hell did Frank Luntz find this focus group!

"That was the scariest s--- I've heard in a long time,"

Steve Greenhut reacts to Duncan Hunter while explaining the disconnect between the GOP and its Libertarian wing. Some more:

Hence the divide. We also saw it the night before when religious conservative Alan Keyes gave a dinner address. He was greeted by a standing ovation by conservatives as he entered the room, while a few of us in the libertarian faction rolled our eyes, grabbed our cigars and quietly headed to the bar.

Having to listen to Alan Keyes would likely drive me to the bottle as well.

"I did not come this far in life to be intimidated by suicide bombers."

That's one helluva way to start an op-ed piece -- and just in case the reader doubts this claim, the author, Benazir Bhutto, offers this paragraph to demonstrate that she means business:

I know that the militant forces fear me as their enemy. General Zia-ul-Haq, the extremist dictator of Pakistan in the 1980s, once said that the greatest mistake in his life was not killing me when he had the chance.

Mona Shaw, American Hero

Ms. Shaw finally had enough of being screwed by the cable company and decided to take matters into her own hands:

Hammer time: Shaw storms in the company's office. BAM! She whacks the keyboard of the customer service rep. BAM! Down goes the monitor. BAM! She totals the telephone. People scatter, scream, cops show up and what does she do? POW! A parting shot to the phone!

"They cuffed me right then," she says.

Her take on Comcast: "What a bunch of sub-moronic imbeciles."

This woman is an inspiration to us all.

[via Andrew Samwick]

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Panty Raid!

The Burma/Myanmar junta gets the Tom Jones treatment.

Trust Me, It's Not that Weird

Jessica McBride thinks that a proposal to allow the Milwaukee police department to essentially "rent" on-duty police officers to bars to serve as security personnel is kinda "weird." Now, I actually have been on all three sides of this troika. I once worked in a restaurant (an alcohol-free one, by the way) in a large metropolitan area that was provided with an on-duty police officer for three hours each night just before closing (and the restaurant closed at 8:00 PM). The restaurant picked up the tab. I've also done some hard time as a rent-a-cop and a bouncer at a bar. So, basically, I think I can justifiably say I bring some unique expertise to this issue.

Let's do it like this: McBride asks some legitimate questions that I'll take a stab at.

If private establishments want law-enforcement trained security guards, shouldn't they be off duty?

Not necessarily. A uniform and a badge can make a huge difference (to say nothing of an armed officer). Private security guards rarely have advanced training beyond "Look like you're in charge and then call the police." Plus, if a rent-a-cop wore his uniform in a pub setting, he would be the object of continuous ridicule by inebriated patrons, which would pretty much completely undermine any perceived authority he or she might have.

When I worked at the restaurant, the employees got to know the officers that came around in the evenings. The arrangement was that their shifts were voluntary and considered a good way to make some easy money since it wasn't like patrolling a beat or filing out paper work. They simply showed up, looked conspicuous, then went home. Usually they would stick around to make sure the female employees got a safe start to their return home. Their presence was very effective and we never had any problems while they were around.

Shouldn't on-duty overtime be related to a policing strategy central to the city's mission, not the needs of private establishments?

Of course, but they aren't mutually exclusive. Stick a uniformed cop in a bar and you will see attempted underage drinking plummet immediately. Bar fights will never make it past the planning stage. Sexual assaults may actually decline too. If this is done on a voluntary basis, then it shouldn't interfere with the city's law enforcement strategy at all since the cops will be essentially "moonlighting" their authority on their own time.

What if the department needs the officers on overtime for other things, such as targeted patrol missions focused on new crime hotspot neighborhoods, but they're obligated to sit in the tavern instead?

Again, voluntary basis. Any bar that would want a cop in their establishment would likely only want them there on Thursday, Friday, Saturday nights, maybe special events and some holidays (like the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving -- always a huge night for bars). If those days don't work for the cops, then the bars would get the shaft.

Even then that might not be a big deal. If a bar starts consistently having a uniformed police officer on the premises on a routine basis the clientèle will change as it gets a reputation for being "that bar with the cop" eventually the problem may actually go away. Sooner or later the bar may even just stop having the officer around all together.

If the cop is need elsewhere for some reason, he'll just leave. It's not like he has to constantly monitor people while they drink all the time. The officer's there to be a deterrent and sometimes that effect is achieved just through consistency and reputation, not necessary perpetual presence.

If you've ever been to a bar where a cop has just walked through and then left you may notice that for a little while afterwards, the place tends to quiet down a little and even the drunker of the patrons stop wobbling around for a short while. Everyone literally straightens up a bit before a few shots makes them all forget there was a dude with a badge right next them a short while ago.

The story doesn't make it clear whether the officers would only be able to work in the taverns on overtime, or whether they could do it as part of their normal shifts. If it's the latter, it's even worse, but it seems to be the former.

I doubt it would be the latter, unless they are assigned to a "problem" bar that is a reliable source of annoyance for the police. But that's usually done as a punitive measure against the bar owners.

For what it's worth, I think it's a great idea -- not only for the bars who'd want to be staffed by uniformed officers, but also for the Police Department. Doing this kind of thing is also a great way for officers to get to know a certain neighborhood. You can learn a lot about an area by hanging around the local bar for a few hours because there's few things drunks love to do more than talk.

I have no idea how many bars would want a cop in their establishment. Most will likely stick with an in-house bouncer. But for a few, the option would likely be a godsend.

Thompson, His Health, and the Stump

Steve Benen at TMP looks at what the Times has to say about Fred Thompson's performance at the Value Voters Summit:

[Thompson] spoke with his chin often buried in his chest, his voice largely monotone, and he cleared his throat or coughed repeatedly, prompting some to wonder if he might be ill.

"He didn't look good," said Ronald Sell, 63, a musician from New York City.


Thompson's tendency to look down and read his remarks provided the audience with some of the most prolonged views of the top of a bald politician's head in recent history. When you feel compelled to use an index card for lines like, 'We must have good laws. We must do our best to stop bad laws,' you have been spending too much of your life filming 30-second bits of dialogue.

Except experience as an actor shouldn't be a detriment to connecting with people in public forums. Sell's comment above is closer to the mark: "He didn't look good." I don't think he meant those words this way, but that's frequently a euphemism I use when I could just as well be saying "He looked sickly."

MORE: Michael Crowley's back again today, linking to the same Times article (which I should have read in full) and picking out this line: "But [Thompson] spoke with his chin often buried in his chest, his voice largely monotone, and he cleared his throat or coughed repeatedly, prompting some to wonder if he might be ill." (emphasis added)

EVEN MORE: From Sharon Cobb, a reporter in Nashville:

When I mentioned [Thompson] looked ill a couple of months ago, a few Republicans called me some rather unflattering names. The thing is, now he looks worse.

I saw him last month, and his cheeks were sunken and his skin was gray. It was a social setting, and it would have been totally inappropriate for me to question him at this event. But in person, he looked terrible. (I've known him since the mid 80s and I know what a healthy Fred Thompson looks like)

This was written 5 days ago, before Thompson's address before the Values Voters Summit, and was inspired by Thompson being missing in action last week.

MORE STILL: This isn't health related so much as damning. Soren Dayton sums up the weekend: "Fred Thompson did not have a good weekend. His speech was ok, but in contrast to Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee, it wasn’t so impressive. Lots of people were disappointed in hindsight."

Bold Predictions Gone Awry

Earlier this month I predicted that Newsweek and/or Time would run a cover story on Ron Paul based on his surprising 3rd quarter fund-raising numbers. Looks like I will have to settle for an essay by Michael Kinsley in Time.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Is Fred Thompson Unhealthy? (Part II)

I've been looking into observations on Fred Thompson's health on the campaign trail between the disclosure of his cancer this spring and Michael Crowley's perceptive comment at The Stump following his speech at the Value Voters Summit this morning. Most of the commentary has to do with his flat stump speeches and unexpectedly dry oratory -- very little seems to suggest that his health may be responsible for what a lot of people have considered a lackluster performance. In fact, it almost seems as if it is a taboo among the media to attribute campaign performance to the physical health of a candidate (unless you've done time in POW camp), but a few sources have raised the issue. For the most part I think this is a good thing -- a way of trying to keep the the discussion at a higher level -- but in Thompson's case something clearly seems to be amiss.

One of the only print pieces to recently suggest Thompson's health is an issue is a blurb from a charticle published in the Nashville Tennessean (see the sidebar feature labeled "What They Want You to See" on the right of the screen):
UNHEALTHY: Thompson supporters trumpet his trim new physique. Others see a gaunt old man who may not be up to the grueling task of running for — much less becoming — president.
That was published just 12 days ago (Oct. 7th), just before the GOP debate in Dearborn, Michigan.

One blogger actually asked if Thompson's cancer had returned in August, noting that Thompson was using a golf cart to meet people at the Iowa state fair. The same blogger then went on to observe the gauntness of Thompson in the golf cart speculating that he resembled someone who had recently undergone chemotherapy.

Here's how Thompson announced his cancer in an interview with FOX'S Neil Cavuto:

THOMPSON: ... And that about, oh, two-and-a-half years ago, a little longer than that, while doing a routine physical exam, the doctor found a little bump in my neck there. And a little later on I had it checked out. It turned out to be what doctors call an indolent lymphoma. And I learned that there are over 30 different kinds of lymphomas. Some are very aggressive, and some are indolent, or not aggressive at all. And mine, fortunately, was the good kind, if you can ever call something like that a good kind.

I was — did some treatment, was put into remission and still am. And to go out of remission, to have drugs nowadays that can maintain it, you know, indefinitely, and it shouldn't effect your lifespan at all.

CAVUTO: Remission, but not a cure.

THOMPSON: Well, I don't know if cure is ever the operative word when you're talking about cancer, quite frankly. But if it comes back, the doctors tell me, with a drug — in my case, a new drug called Rituxan that has been around for a few years now, but can maintain it, and people usually die of something else.

But the other fortunate thing about it is that I have had no sickness, no symptoms, I wouldn't know I had it if the doctor hadn't told me that I had it. I have been able to go on about my life, been working a couple of jobs now [etc.]

The specific form of Thompson's cancer is actually very rare. Bloomberg (via Hugh Hewitt) looked into his health in early September and found that

``The nature of the disease is that it tends to relapse,'' said David Fisher, a lymphoma specialist and assistant professor of medicine at Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. ``How long one can live with the disease varies considerably.'' ...

Thompson's cancer is an uncommon form called nodal marginal zone lymphoma, which accounts for 2 percent to 4 percent of all cases, according to Owen O'Connor, chief of the lymphoma service at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York and author of about 100 research papers on the disease....


``The indolent, or slow-growing lymphomas are very treatable, but rarely if ever curable,'' Cheson said in the April interview. ``Therefore, his likelihood of recurring is high, but this may not happen for a number of years.''

(emphasis added)

(I don't know if this helps at all, but here's a primer on nodal marginal zone lymphoma.)

Hewitt was accused of selecting the most dire of paragraphs of the original Bloomberg piece (alas, no longer available online) by numerous comments on the post, so it's hard to say if there's a cheerier flip side to this prognosis that is absent from the excerpted paragraphs (if there ever is one when cancer's involved).

Yet even if the cancer has returned, neither the disease nor the attendant chemotherapy may be responsible for the candidate's perceived lethargy. Recall that in the interview with Neil Cavuto, Thompson said if the cancer did return it could be "maintain[ed]" by a medicine called Rituxan. According to

Rituxan is given as an injection through a needle placed into a vein. The medicine must be given slowly through an IV infusion. You will receive this injection in a clinic or hospital setting.

Side effects include a "running or stuffy nose," which could explain why Thompson is constantly clearing his throat; also "wheezing or trouble breathing;" and various symptoms that would reduce one's appetite, possibly contributing to the aforementioned gauntness. These side effects could be exasperated by the stress of the campaign trail causing Thompson to lose some of that Reaganesque luster so many expected from him.

Obviously, I don't want Thompson's cancer to return. I don't wish that on anyone. But there appears to be a circumstantial case to suggest that one of the candidates seeking the most powerful office in the world may not be as healthy as voters think.

And it's not like powerful men haven't hid aspects of their health before.

Is Fred Thompson Unhealthy?

The more I think about it, the more Michael Crowley's curiosity (see the update) about Thompson's health might be more of an issue than the public's been led to believe. Thompson did announce last spring that he had been diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma several years ago, but assured everyone that it was in remission. He's 65 years old, which is not terribly old, but is certainly not young. Maybe Thompson's throat-clearing can be attributed to a wicked case of post-nasal drip, but it certainly seems out of place.

What this kind of speculation does do is offer a pretty striking alternative to the "Fred is lazy" narrative. Maybe his delay into the race was caused by health concerns? Maybe ho-hum performances at the Michigan debates and the Values Voters Summit today are literally symptomatic of much bigger health concerns? Maybe his disappearance and cancellation of a campaign event in New Hampshire last week was for health reasons?

Being "lazy" is one thing -- Reagan used to joke about being awakened to address a national emergency even if he was in a cabinet meeting -- but being unhealthy is a deal breaker with a lot of voters. This is all just gross speculation for the moment, but I wouldn't be surprised if it becomes a much bigger issue if the Thompson Camp doesn't get out in front of it and quash it as soon as possible. They might be able to do some short term damage control with some crack rapid response work, but the only way to end persistent rumors of this nature is for Thompson himself to start bringing his A game.

MORE: Much more here.

The Beauty of Google Books

Digitalizing the world's knowledge -- in effect creating an online version of the Library at Alexandria -- is an amazing process precisely because the damnedest things become new again during the reformatting.

Case in point: an incident during the Civil War when Gen. Ulysses Grant tried to expel Jews from several Confederate states:

In a remarkable episode from the Civil War that is not as widely known as it might be, General Ulysses S. Grant issued Order No. 11 on December 17, 1862 expelling all Jews from Kentucky, Tennessee, and Mississippi, where his forces had taken the field.

Equally remarkable, President Lincoln did not say he would "stand by" his generals or that "we must give the military the tools it needs" to accomplish its mission. Instead, he rescinded the Order.

A century-old account of General Grant's short-lived ban on Jews has recently been published online.

During the Civil War, President Lincoln repeatedly suspended habeas corpus and authorized other serious infringements on civil liberties. But there are some things that are not done in America, it appears, even when the survival of the nation is at stake. This was one of them.

I flipped through the first few pages of the e-book and it's all engrossing material.

Not Exactly What I Would Call Rabid Support

The Ol' Broad caught a glimpse of Fred Thompson at the Value Voters Summit:

I just watched Fred Thompson’s speech at the Value Voters shindig. I have to say, he’s not the most inspiring speaker, but if he is sincere about what he says, and I think he is, then he definitely would be the best choice. We don’t need a charismatic speaker in the White House, we need a ‘git ‘r done’ guy.

Eeeeee ...

I just saw the speech too, and the Ol' Broad is being a bit generous in her assessment. Thompson is a surprisingly weak speaker -- way too many "uhs" and throat clearings. His speech wasn't so much a cohesive argument for his candidacy as it was a laundry list of his conservative bona fides and it plodded along just like PowerPoint presentation. There was no presentation of big ideas, no outlining of encompassing themes of his campaign. It was very much about Fred Thompson's track record and not about his vision for the future: the set-up to the biggest applause line of he speech was when he admitted he had basically no clue what he was going to do during the first 100 days of his administration (but he knew he was going to pray upon immediately entering the Oval Office).

The sincerity issue is also on display when Thompson speaks. His eye contact with the audience and/or cameras is minimal. He spends way too much time looking at his notes and that comes off appearing like he needs to be reminded of his lines (a background as an actor can cut both ways). He's not only having a hard time connecting with an audience verbally, but also visually. He should know his own background like the back of his hand, he shouldn't need a script. I don't necessarily bring this up to doubt his sincerity in a wholesale manner, but it should make folks think twice about the depths of his convictions on these issues.

All of these things bring up the issue of preparation. This crowd is import and Thompson has had some free time this week. He should have nailed this, but didn't. In fact, that's been the verdict of most of his speeches. This will catch up with him sooner or later and he'll start to hear people saying he's too lazy to prep adequately for his public events. When that happens he won't appear to be able to "git 'r done" at all.

MORE: Michael Crowley at TNR notices the throat clearing: "I just listened via radio to his remarks at the Values Voters conference, and a defining thing about his remarks--apart from such typical pandering as a vow that his first act as president will be to close the Oval Office door and pray for wisdom--was his nonstop coughing and throat-clearing."

“You seem to belong to that large group of people who can’t take a [expletive] joke.”

A South Carolina lawyer who helped facilitate Stephen Colbert’s mock presidential bid in the state, but did not want to be identified and would not say who he was working for when asked by a reporter from Politico. Furthermore, "he bristled when asked how his fees would be reported by a potential Colbert campaign."

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Raising Money Online

I'll be damned if Patrick Ruffini isn't one of maybe 15 people Republicans need to start listening to now if they have any hope of being relevant in the future. Watch him examine the fund-raising push made by Team Obama at the beginning of the current filing period:

This is the result of just three emails sent by the Obama campaign. It’s more than Mike Huckabee raised last quarter. It’s probably more than any Republican raised online last quarter with the exception of Ron Paul.

Think about that. One email. $650,000.

Imagine what their nominee will do to us with the entire weight of the online Democratic Party behind them. I’m thinking $1 to $2 million an email.

Each email is the equivalent two or three fundraising dinners. Each of which probably require hundreds of man hours to produce. That’s only for of one email, not the three that have been sent this week. One email that probably took someone an hour or two write, that took a few hours to get approved, that took another hour or two to be formatted and sent. (And “stripped down” email is even more efficient.)

(emphasis added)

That is a ruthless efficiency that can't be ignored, not only because it's a huge total to begin with, but also where it's coming from: tons of small donors, not lobbyists, who are now invested in the campaign; who can be counted on to likely vote for the candidate; who can be asked to volunteer in their area; and who can be tapped for more funds in the future.

Try getting that from a $1000 a plate dinners in Milwaukee.

(Incidentally, would love to see some data on how many volunteer man hours an e-mail solicitation creates from small donors vs. the number of volunteers that come out of big dollar donor dinners.)

By the way, fund-raising has become such a big problem for the GOP that the Wall Street Journal editorial page is now slamming Democrats for creating their own money-making machine:

Meanwhile, Democrats under Rep. Rahm Emanuel and Sen. Schumer have quietly erected their own K Street Project, and employ some of the same strong-arm tactics they once deplored. "I've never felt the squeeze that we're under now to give to Democrats and to hire them," says one telecom industry representative. "They've put out the word that if you have an issue on trade, taxes, or regulation, you'd better be a donor and you'd better not be part of any effort to run ads against our freshmen incumbents."

That may be, but big business is more than happy to defect for the time being:

So why won't business groups go to the mat for their friends and spend whatever it takes to defeat their enemies? Former Republican House majority leader Dick Armey explains that "the business groups are simply not ideological givers. They give to buy access and to minimize risk."

(emphasis added)

That's a refrain that's being song elsewhere:

A Wall Street Journal poll last month showed that only 37% of professionals and managers identify themselves as Republicans or leaning that way. A YouGov/Polimetrix poll for The Economist finds that only 44% of those earning more than $150,000 plan to vote Republican. So it is no surprise—though historically astonishing—that the Democrats' presidential candidates have raised substantially more than Republican ones.

There are several obvious reasons for this. The shrill voices of religious conservatives have driven away many pragmatic Republicans who feel that banning abortion and gay marriage are not the most pressing issues confronting America. The Bush administration's incompetence, evident from Iraq to Louisiana, alienates people who know about management.

Baptists & the Nobel Prize

An interesting op-ed by a Baptist minister in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about Southern Baptists and their rejection of the three fellow worshipers to have won the Nobel Peace Prize (Martin Luther King, Jimmy Carter, and now Al Gore).

Giuliani: Nation-Builder

I'm going through Rudy Giuliani and Hillary Clinton's Foreign Affairs essays tonight and I've just finished Rudy's piece. I'll have more on it when I finish Clinton's essay, but I did want to jot down some first impressions.

First: overall, the criticism the essay has received is entirely justified. Giuliani calls for an America with activist role in world affairs that is simply impossible, to say nothing of unwise. While the rhetoric is different, the tone is similar to Bush's second inaugural address in so far as it speaks in sweeping generalities and suggests that the American way of life is perfectly well-suited for the rest of world and they should all enjoy it quite nicely (thank you very much).

There are plenty of things that stood out to me, all of which in good time, but here's one passage that caught my attention:

Today, we need a similar type of exchange with the Muslim countries that we hope to plug into the global economy. Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates are pointing the way by starting to interpret Islam in ways that respect the distinctiveness of their local cultures but are consistent with the global marketplace. Some of these states have coeducational schools, allow women to serve in government, and count shopping malls that sell Western and Arab goods side by side. Their leaders recognize that modernization is their ticket to the global marketplace. And the global marketplace can build bridges between the West and the Islamic world in a way that promotes mutual respect and mutual benefit.

This paragraph arrives almost at the very end and was the first that I found myself agreeing with. One way to look at the Middle East is to examine the situations of two cities: Baghdad and Dubai. One is a hyper-modern, gold rush city on the verge of becoming the transportation, travel, and financial center of the 21st Century. The other is violent, anarchic hellscape. The first is product of a concerted effort started by the ruling regime to develop a capitalistic fantasyland. The later is the result of ethnic strife compounded by tragically inept management by a foreign occupying power. How these two cities develop in the future should be a study in contrasts that will provide scholars with plenty of fodder for discussion for years to come.

So, Rudy finally gets around to providing me with an ounce of sanity, then, in the very next paragraph, he unloads this:

Economic investment and cultural influence work best where civil society already exists. But sometimes America will be compelled to act in those parts of the world where few institutions function properly -- those zones that lack not only good governance but any governance -- and in states teetering on the edge of conflict or recovering from it. Faced with a choice between leaving a troubled zone to anarchy or helping build functioning civil societies with accountable governments that can serve as bulwarks against barbarism, the American people will choose the latter.

(emphasis added)

Excuse me? Does this mean we're headed back to Somalia? Are we off to Zimbabwe or Myanmar/Burma? These countries that "lack not only good governance but any governance" could be just about anyone that's not a classically liberal democracy that's a member of some kind of alliance with the U.S.

As if that's not a strange enough detour already, Giuliani -- again, in the very next paragraph -- wants to establish a kind of standing, permanent Coalition Provisional Authority that would serve as a sort of crack nation-building team that would presumably descend into a country after it's been bombed back into the Stone Age to rebuild in America's image. He even gives this agency a funky name: the Stabilization and Reconstruction Corps, and judging by the everything else in the essay, he intends to use them. Giuliani wants to use American military power to make rogue nations a thing of the past, but his plan for doing this is nothing more than a recipe for creating them.

Is "Tax-Payer" the Right's Equivalent to "Comrade"?

I think so.

There's really not any one thing that made me think of this. It's probably the result of reading various posts on the Americans for Prosperity Rally in Madison, which honestly sounded about as much fun as a teen-abstinence rally.

The Grass is Always Greener Dept.

Sheboygan is thinking about changing its city government from a mayor to a city manager.

Jazwiec Calls Off the Cops

That's it? All the hype and no follow through? C'mon! This story had so much potential -- it could have used a dead hooker and maybe some Bolivian drug lords (what story doesn't?) -- but Jazwiec can't just end it there! There's so many more radio interviews to do and so much more paperwork to fill out!

Romney on Tuition & Aid

What, what, what?

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said Wednesday that he would like to link college financial aid to the jobs students pursue after graduation.

He offered no specifics on what careers would warrant more money for a student during their undergraduate years, such as whether a future lawyer, doctor, teacher or social worker would receive more aid than a future economist or engineer.

"I like the idea of linking the level of support that we're able to provide to young people going to college to the contributions they're going to make to our society," Romney told more than 200 people at an event at a Davenport hotel, one of three stops in the state Wednesday.

Here's the problem: the kinds of occupations that are typically in short supply -- doctors and engineers specifically -- need extremely expensive educations. Some schools, like UW-Madison, are even raising the tuition for students who opt for these careers to offset costs. So how is this going to work? Are English majors going to now pay more to compensate for the pre-med set?

Brownback Out?

Looks like it. His was the most disappointing campaign in the field. I though he would be able to rally religious conservatives, but he just didn't seem to have the charisma. He also looked awful in the debates and never bothered to take a swipe at one of his colleagues pretty much guaranteeing himself little to no earned media.

Basically, he came off as a push-over.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

End Times are Right Times for Me!

Almost every Sunday, without fail, the following happens: the Sunday night football game gets a little before 11:00 and I end up spending the next 15 or so minutes flipping through the channels, eventually stopping on the Jack Van Impe show. I know better. I know I should just keep on moving down the dial, but I simply can not help myself. I have to watch. The only possible explanation for this phenomenon is that the power of Christ compels me to watch the goddamn Jack Van Impe show.

For those who have never seen this awe-inspiring piece of television, here's the rub: At some point in Mr. Van Impe's life he decided to get married to Skeletor. Now he has a TV show where, Skeletor reads him the events of the week and Mr. Van Impe offers his commentary on how all of those events are signs of the apocalypse. He backs up his claims with a what seems like an encyclopedic knowledge of scripture, but in reality what he does with the cited passages is sheer sorcery.

Anyway, as someone who kind of pays some marginal degree of attention on an infrequent basis, I've notice that his version of the End Times is a little inconsistent. Apparently I just have not been paying enough attention because Van Impe's got it all mapped out -- literally.

Anyway, this map supposedly explains everything, so when the Antichrist manifests himself and brings forth Armageddon, please use this guide as a point of reference ...

And in the unlikely event of a water landing your seat cushion can be used as a flotation device.