Thursday, December 27, 2007

Why I have not been posting much

My mother in law passed away a few days ago. My wife went home to Connecticut to be with her and so I had no time between work and watching the kids to post. In times like this, other things seem more important than politics and philosophy.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Why McCain?

So, why John McCain? I was a volunteer on his 2000 campaign and while I have not been actively working on his campaign this time around, I still believe he is the best choice for America. So for the next few days, I will try and make the case for McCain.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

McCain Victory 08

Want to help John McCain but don't know how? Not in Iowa or New Hampshire?

Brad Marston has started a blog specifically for you --

McCain Victory 08!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Effects of Romney's Speech

It is too early to say. The analysis I have seen has been mostly positive, feeling that he made a good speech and hopefully will put the issue to rest.

The candidate who should feel happiest about the speech and the wall to wall coverage should be Mike Huckabee. In part, the speech was in response to the sudden surge of support for the conservative Christian Huckabee. Furthermore, the speech has deflected attention from the sudden rash of reports regarding Wayne Dumond, a convicted rapist who was paroled during Huckabee's time as Arkansas governor. Huckabee's role in the parole is under question. After being released, Dumond raped and killed another woman.

With Huckabee going from a little known candidate to suddenly in the lead in Iowa, the news media has decided to revisit the story. Given the anti-crime emphasis of the GOP, especially the social conservative wing that Huckabee is heavily courting, this could have hurt him badly. But the media has a short attention span, and the issue now is Romney's religion. Huckabee has to hope that the spotlight stays there for a while, then moves off to something else.

The Speech

Mitt Romney made his long awaited speech today on religion. He had hoped to defuse the questions surrounding his Mormonism in a way reminiscent of JFK's speech to the Houston Protestant Pastors in 1960.

I read the speech and saw part of it on the Internet today. It was a good, heartfelt speech. In the gym tonight, I was watching on t.v. while one bunch of pundits (from different sides of the aisle) seemed to think it was a great speech. Then on Oberman, well, Oberman was Oberman (I had a testy e-mail exchange with him once when he was still a sportscaster, so I really don't like him).

I had two problems with the speech.

First, I thought he seemed to insinuate that non-religious people cannot be good Americans. Considering that most of the Founders were "nonconformists" on the question of religion, and some were outright heretics, that is just wrong to say. I went through an atheist phase about 10 years ago -- was I less American for it?

Second, though, just from an overall standpoint, and as a Catholic, I am annoyed we even have to be having this conversation. Three years ago, John Kerry could run for president and no one asked about his Catholicism. No one seems very concerned about Rudy Giuliani’s lapsed Catholicism. 7 years ago, an Orthodox Jew could get nominated for vice president. No one really batted an eyelash. 47 years ago, a Catholic could get elected president but was forced to head off the Catholic issue. And even there (and in 1928 with Al Smith), the issue was whether Catholics would have to submit to the Pope.

The issue with Romney, and why it is so annoying, is not one of independence but rather simply theology. Some, especially on the Evangelical right, seem hung up not on Romney's ideology but rather on the teachings of Mormonism. This was not raised when his father ran for president in 1968 (though when Mo Udall ran for the democratic nomination in 1976, Colman Young, an ally of Carter did raise the Mormon issue).

I hoped we were past this as a country. I hope I am not wrong.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Happy Repeal Day!

Worst Political Prediction Ever

"On every morning that you wake up for the rest of your life you will be ashamed of what you did last night" -- David Margesson to John Profumo, May 9, 1940.

John Profumo was a young Tory member of Parliament who had been elected in April 1940 on a pro-Nevile Chamberlain platform. As the early course of World War II turned against the Allies, on May 8, 1940, the House of Commons held a confidence vote on Chamberlain's government. Profumo was serving in the Army when elected, and received a day's leave to attend the vote. As the members filed off into the lobbies to vote, Profumo, almost on a whim, joined 41 other government supporters in calling for Chamberlain's resignation.

Chamberlain's government won the vote, but it was obvious that he was mortally wounded as Prime Minister. Profumo, his duty done, then went off to a night club and proceeded to get drunk.

The next morning, Profumo was called to the office of the Tories' Chief Whip, David Margesson, who made that fateful prediction. Profumo returned to his unit.

The following day, May 10, 1940, the German war machine struck west, invading Belgium. By that evening, Winston Churchill was Prime Minister.

John Profumo would later take down another Conservative government, after sharing a bed with a woman sharing a bed with a Russian diplomat and lying about it to the House of Commons. But his action helping to take down the Chamberlain government in the end helped to save Western civilization.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

UN Meeting Saves the Planet

The UN climate change meeting in Bali has attracted so many participants that Indonesia apparently is looking for new places to park all the private jets.

Despite the fact that I agree reducing carbon output is a positive good, I will start to act like it is a crisis when the people claiming it is a crisis start acting like it is a crisis.

Chavez Loses

I guess the people of Venezuela did not quite want socialism after all, at least not the one man socialism that Chavez was offering.

Why is it every time I see this guy on t.v., I think about this?

I believe that many people frankly LIKE totalitarianism. Why? Because it means that you are never personally responsible for anything. Big Brother watches you. He will deliver everything good to you and if you get something bad, well, it is not your fault.

Oil is pushing $100 a barrel and there are reports of food shortages in Venezuela. That is all you need to know about socialism.

Chavez's next speech:

From this day on, the official language of San Marcos will be Swedish.

In addition to that, all citizens will be required to change their underwear every half-hour. Underwear will be worn on the outside so we can check.

Furthermore, all children under 16 years old are now... 16 years old!

The You Tube Debate Secret Transcript

It turns out that CNN heavily edited the You Tube debate. Here is the secret transcript of what really happened.

Cousin Billy's Blog

I just discovered that my cousin Billy has a blog. Billy is one of the funniest people I know, and I am not just talking about his looks. He actually gets paid to be funny, so I suppose his employer should complain.

If you want a good laugh, also check out his twice weekly column.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Union Leader Endorses McCain

The Manchester Union Leader endorsed John McCain. Will that help in the New Hampshire primary? It cannot hurt.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Advent Thoughts -- Jesus as Man

As a Catholic, I believe that Jesus is wholly God but also wholly human. Advent starts this weekend and so I was thinking about the human side of Jesus. This mystery of the Incarnation obviously is a difficult one to grasp. God became flesh, but really, what does that mean? Does that mean the agony and the Crucifixion was merely playacting, or does it heighten the power of Good Friday? Riots would break out in Byzantium over this question.

But at this time of year, I prefer to keep Good Friday a bit off center and focus instead at the miracle of the Incarnation and wonder about Jesus as a little baby. A local social club had a short concert today and one of the songs sung was about "Mary rocking her baby." The Bible is mostly silent on Jesus as an infant. There are the Nativity narratives of course, Jesus being presented in the Temple, and Jesus getting lost in the Temple sometime later. Now that I am a father, wonder what Joseph must have thought when he looked into Jesus's eyes or what Mary thought as she held him.

I tried today to explain to my children more about Christmas today. Several years ago, Alex received a Playmobil of the Nativity as a Christmas present and so my wife and I trued to use that to explain the story. Alex was a barrage of questions while Christian just wanted to play with the camel. So my attempt to explain it to two children failed. Yet if I struggle with the meaning for myself, how am I supposed to explain it to a four year old?

Oprah and Obama

I have been thinking some more about the duel between Oprah Winfrey and Barbra Streisand. It seems somewhat comical in a way -- Winfrey is, after all, one of the top entertainment celebrities right now while Streisand hit her peak maybe 30 years ago. So in a way, it fits in with the themes of the Clinton and Obama campaigns. Clinton's campaign looks back to her husband's time in the White House while Obama looks forward. And to be truthful, do celebrity endorsements really mean all that much?

But there is something else here which is interesting, namely how race is not playing a part in this. Winfrey is black, yet she is enormously popular (she owns Chicago). Obama is black, yet he is really running as the liberal yuppie candidate.

While race is never too far removed in the US, maybe we are finally overcoming our obscene obsession with it.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Planting Questions at the You Tube Debate

The issue of General Kerr's appearance at the You Tube debate continues to raise a firestorm. General Kerr lends his name to a Clinton campaign committee on gay rights. (And apparently his name was on a letter for a Kerry veterans committee in 2004). At the very least it shows bad judgment on his part, especially in light of questions whether the Clinton campaign was planting questions at her rallies.

CNN apparently edited the General out of the rebroadcast of the debate.

There are other issues now being raised regarding whether other questioners were "plants." Some of the other questioners were either supporters of Democratic candidates or have some other left wing connection. That does not really bother me. All of the questions were respectful and serious questions. The Muslim woman might have been a former CAIR intern, but the question was a good and serious one, and was respectful (not a GOTTA type of thing). The black man who asked about getting more black support for the GOP apparently runs a satire site about black Republicans, but again, his question was serious and respectful. (I doubt the guy who asked the gun question of Biden in the Democratic debate was a Democrat)

My only problem is with the General because his name is attached to the Clinton campaign, and he was flown in at Google's expense to give a rebuttal to the answers given. His question was a serious one, but one that someone else should have asked.

How long in Iraq (and elsewhere)?

I want the surge to work and recognize that we have interests in the Middle East that will remain until a substitute for Middle Eastern oil is found. But I am dismayed by reports that the US and Iraq have agreed that US troops will stay there long term.

We should not be permanently occupying Iraq. Yet, 62 years after the end of World War II and 18 years after the Berlin Wall fell, we still maintain troops in Europe. The Europeans whine whenever we talk about reducing them further and a long standing plan to remove 2 heavy combat brigades was recently shelved. We still have 300 nuclear warheads in Europe. We maintain a force in South Korea too small to influence North Korea or defend the South (the real defense of South Korea should be and is with the South Korean army). We maintain a force in Japan. We maintain troops in the Balkans after our temporary occupation following the Balkan Crisis (and Kosovo still does not have an effective government).

Whenever we talk about removing troops from anywhere, the locals whine. Because we have effectively promised to defend them, so it removes real responsibility for their own security. Which is why the Europeans were completely useless in dealing with the Balkan Crisis and why South Korea in the end will follow a policy of appeasement with the North.

So it is not just Iraq. Our entire security policy has a lack of imagination and a certain amount of inertia. And not just us. Britain still has troops in Germany.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Vodka Pundit on the You Tube debate

Always entertaining

The You Tube Debate

Well, I finally watched a debated -- or at least most of it. I really like the You Tube format, although I think people should dress better if they want to ask candidates questions. The questions did not seem to be as silly as during the Democrat's debate (even the Cheney animation was a serious question, and the Red Sox v. Yankees question was a funny way to end it all).

The question on "don't ask don't tell" and the seemingly forever rebuttal by the questioner lost me. It also turns out that the questioner, a retired Army general, is connected to the Clinton campaign.

McCain came off extremely well. He seems to have done well in the debates so far. He is calm, focused, and shows both his competency and his principles. The showed his incredible grasp of foreign policy as well as taking the torture question head on. Yes, this man should be president.

Another who did well was Huckabee. He had the best answer of the night -- what would Jesus do about the death penalty? " Jesus was too smart to ever run for public office." Huckabee, however, continues to run as the great social conservative hope and sounded like he was interviewing for a pastor's job. I think he will end up if not winning in Iowa and maybe South Carolina, coming a close second.

Romney did not impress me. He seems too polished, too much answering questions based on what he thinks will be popular.

Thompson seemed very relaxed and answered the questions well. Thompson was a better non candidate than candidate and has lost much of his early bounce. So maybe he was relaxed as he was trying out for VP. He (and the other candidates) really punted the Rebel flag question though.

Giuliani stumbled at times. He was expecting to skip Iowa and New Hampshire and concentrate on Florida with the hope of pulling off an upset in South Carolina. But he is in trouble in the early states now. The pressure is on him and he knows it.

Ron Paul was, well, Ron Paul. The Paulistas reacted, well, as you would expect.

We should have a pool as to when Hunter and Tancredo drop out. My wife (not a Republican) has no clue who they are.

In the end, McCain won and Huckabee really helped himself. Let's hope we see more of this type of format.

The Democrats Escalate! McCain Responds!

The Democrats are getting serious. Barack Obama has announced that Oprah Winfrey would begin campaigning with him in some key states.

Escalating the tension, Barbra Streisand has come out publicly in support of Hillary Clinton (no word yet if it is the Mecha Streisand)

John McCain delivered the Republican response

EDITED TO ADD -- From commenter Rodak, Obama's new slogan in New Hampshire -- "WINFREY, OR DIE! "

Monday, November 26, 2007

A quote I like

"I chose to be an American. What did you ever do, except for having been born?"

Ayn Rand is supposed to have used this rejoinder to a heckler who claimed that as a foreigner, she knew nothing of America. I am not a big Ayn Rand fan, but for me, that sums up a lot of the American experience. We are all immigrants in a way. My grandfather, born in Naples, had a love of America that I can only approximate. I take her for granted, but he realized how wonderful it really was.

In the ongoing immigration war, I hope we all remember these words.

New McCain Ad

This is McCain at his best -- the quiet unassuming patriot. Admitting he may annoy many, but always taking positions based on principle.

From now until Super Tuesday, McCain needs to keep this focus. If Romney falters in Iowa and the GOP base cannot reconcile itself to Giuliani, McCain becomes the obvious choice. Though I would say he should have been the obvious choice from the beginning.

While I am not thrilled with Obama, I agree with Andrew Sullivan that an Obama-McCain race would be the best for the country.

Good Bye Trent

Trent Lott is resigning. I blame my old DC pal Robert George for running him out of town.

I will miss the unintentional irony that Lott's leadership position was a "Minority Whip."

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Chuck and Huck

Yes politics is important and serious. But that is not to say you cannot have a little fun.

I am still not sure what to make of Huckabee. But he definitely is not your father's evangelical conservative Republican.

If 24 was in 1994

This is the unaired pilot of 24, produced in 1994 (well, not really).

Truth is, I have never seen a single episode of 24, though I did watch the South Park parody.

Please God make it stop!

Ever get a song or two stuck in your head? This weekend, I was visiting my mother in law when my sister in law rented "La Vie En Rose", a French biopic about singer Edith Piaf. I am something of a fan of French films. The film was decent, not great, not bad.

The problem is that now I have swimming through my head, in alternative moments, the song "La Vie En Rose" or, worse, "No Regrets". Please God make this stop.

Drunk Blogger on the Democratic Debate

Stephen Green, aka the Vodka Pundit, has a great way of watching the debates -- drink vodka and they all start to make sense. His drunken take on the Nevada debate was spot on.

I have never met him, but he has been a great influence on me and a major part in how I will survive the soon to be Clinton presidency.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Blog McCain

I am still holding out hope that John McCain will be the GOP Nominee. I think he is the best suited to address the current world crisis and is the most honorable person of either party in Congress. He has an uphill battle, but I hope when the time comes to actually vote, GOP primary and caucus voters will put aside past squabbles and do what is best for the country.

A blog has been established to discuss ways for pro-McCain bloggers to help the campaign. My idea -- why not a "money bomb."

The first time I saw Phoenix

I was speaking at a conference in Reno last week and for some reason, I found it difficult to get there. My flight plan required me to change planes in Phoenix. The only times I have been to Phoenix were also to change planes, and both times my planes were either delayed or connections were missed due to late arrivals. So I have always tried to avoid Phoenix.

This time, it was worse. My plane arrived in Phoenix no problem, the board said everything was on time, so I stopped off for a quick dinner. I then noticed that my flight had disappeared from the board -- no indication of anything, no announcement. It was cancelled. The original plane had mechanical troubles in Washington and its replacement also broke down. So for the first time ever, I spent the night in Phoenix. I only saw what you could see from the hotel shuttle, the hotel was in Tempe and not much was going on (despite ASU being right there).

I am sure it is a nice city, but given my experiences with the airlines, I will stay away from Phoenix if I can.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Pakistan gets worse

Bhutto is now back under house arrest and opposition marches have been banned, though President Musharraf promises to hold elections in January. With Bhutto essentially under house arrest, and her rival Sharif still out of the country, any elections would be a farce.

President bush needs to make it clear now -- unless Musharraf resigns from the army and ends the emergency, there will be real repercussions.

It will not happen of course.

Who supports jihad?

Andrew Sullivan notes that a recent study shows that among Arabs, the richer you are, the more likely you are to support jihad.

One could probably spin these numbers lots of ways. But there is much anecdotal evidence that the usual line that "poverty breeds terrorism" is not really true. Bin Laden is [was?] a billionaire and we do not see much terrorism in Sub Saharan Africa.

Sullivan believes the problem is religious ideology. While I have little doubt that is part of the problem, I believe the larger part of the problem is simply the authoritarian nature of those governments. In Western societies, those who are wealthier or better educated are more influential politically. They can give money, host talk shows lobbing soft ball questions toward favored candidates, establish think tanks and run for office. (As an aside, I think that is one of the reasons Hollywood is so far left of the rest of the country -- they have money and glamor but generally are locked out of political influence.)

But if you are a wealthy or educated Saudi you probably find yourself locked out of government. There is no parliament to run for and any think tank will be censored. So you turn to religion and jihadism.

If this sounds far fetched, think back to European history. The Glorious Revolution, while portrayed as a religious and liberal revolution, was in any ways the revolt of the "squirarchy" who felt left out of the governing class by an increasingly authoritarian James II. The French Revolution began as an attempt of the urban middle classes and wealthy to take control of the French government (and it rapidly spun out of control). Even our own revolution was the result of the local elites wanting to control the colonies' destiny, not some far distant parliament.

I know most Americans have given up on democracy as a panacea for the problems of the Middle East (Sullivan seems to), but liberalization of the political structures in the Arab world is needed to stop jihadism. If wealthy and educated Arabs are in parliament or able to have influence in civil society, then maybe they will be less inclined to support bomb throwers.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

What I hope comes from the Ron Paul Candidacy

I sympathize with Ron Paul, but I do not wish to see him as the Republican nominee. The Ron Paul movement has a tendency to range off into conspiracy kook land (NAU anyone?). He himself gets hung up on the gold standard. But the movement is raising issues that conservatives and to a some extent the political system as a whole should have been raising since the end of the Cold War.

Here are a few important ones:

1. The proper role of government
2. Monetary policy (Paul gets hung up over the gold standard, but the role of the Fed and its lack of transparency should be a major issue)
3. Federalism -- on the GOP side at least people are seriously talking about federalism again.
4. Foreign policy -- for 45 years we had a foreign policy designed to fight the USSR. For 15 years since we have not really retooled that policy. Iraq is merely a symptom of a much larger policy failure. Why must the US be the enforcement arm of the UN? Why do we still maintain a large army in Europe? Why was Europe unable on its own to address the Balkan crisis of the late 1990s?

If nothing else, the Paul campaign should help restart the conversation about where the conservative movement and the GOP should go -- "compassionate conservatism" is not it.

Mother Teresa and Darkness

I have finally finished the book of Mother Teresa's letters. It is a wonderful book, but very hard going. She was a very complex person yet also very single minded in her what she felt was her mission. Hence, the pain in what she feared was the rejection of Christ was very real and very strong.

As I have noted earlier, some in the press have stated that these letters show that Mother Teresa was some sort of hypocrite or a secret atheist. Otters have argued that she was feeling "the dark night of the soul."

From reading her letters, however, I think it was in fact something else, something deeper. Was she simply reacting as any loving human being would to the poverty and rejection of the Indian slums? Or was she feeling spiritually the pain of loss and rejection felt by Christ on Calvary? Was it from God, or was it a reaction to her surroundings?

I cannot say. But what is clear from her letters is that she eventually welcomed the darkness as a gift from God. And despite this darkness, she never waived in her mission.

A thought for my Father on Veterans' Day

My military experience (if it can really be called that) was limited to a year of army ROTC in college. But given the numbers of older members of my family who were in the Army, Veterans' Day (or Armistice Day, as my father called it) always had special meaning.

This photo is of my Dad when he returned from Korea. A newspaper photographer was at the dock, and a closeup of my grandmother feeding him ended up in the newspaper (the Daily News I think -- the clipping is somewhere in with the stuff I emptied out of my Parents' house).

My father saw quite a bit of action in Korea. He was an acting platoon sergeant by the end of the war, though he never had a permanent rank higher than corporal (he was promoted very fast so he must have been a good soldier, but he also had a tendency to mouth off to officers who he felt were below par, so he never received higher permanent rank).

He was wounded on a night patrol. He never talked much about it except to say that he got some shrapnel in his finger and his bullet proof vest was badly damaged. When I was an ROTC cadet in college, his only additional comment was to always wear my flak jacket. My mother also said that his badly damaged flak jacket was hung up on a pole at Inchon for the newly arriving troops to see with a sign saying "THIS SOLDIER IS STILL ALIVE" with an admonishment to wear their flak jackets.

At my father's funeral, one of his army friends arrived and told me the story of what actually happened. My dad, as the platoon sergeant, decided not to send his men out to do what he would not do so he decided to head a night patrol. Because he wanted to set a good example, he wore his flak jacket at all times (they were somewhat new and most soldiers did not like wearing them), none of the other members of the patrol wore theirs. They marched out, and unfortunately the Chinese decided to send a patrol out at the same time and place and they ran into each other. Artillery was called in and a battle ensued.

My father's friend was in the company that was on alert-reserve so they were called in to reinforce the line. Volunteers were asked to go and get my father and his patrol out of no man's land. Because my father was well thought of (probably because he was not afraid to stand up to officers on behalf of the enlisted men), all who were asked immediately volunteered (my father's friend was not allowed to go).

Of the four men on the patrol, only my father returned, probably because he was wearing his vest and the others were not. My dad quickly got stitched up and returned to his unit. (According to Uncle Jack, my father's telegram home that he was wounded but OK was intercepted by the neighbors and my grandfather did not know until he saw my dad wearing the purple heart ribbon on his uniform on his return.)

He was there when the war ended. He had said that toward the effective time of the of armistice, there was fear that the Communists would use it to launch a surprise attack, so his company was ordered up a mountain and told to dig in. He knew the war was over when the appointed time came, the shooting stopped, and the Chinese soldiers on the opposite hill came out of their bunkers and started waving.

He somehow sent a message ahead that he wanted a meatball hero on his return, and his family came through. If you look really closely, you can see they are also all holding small cups -- why let a few regulations keep up from toasting a return with wine.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Socialism or Death!! Viva Chavez!

Yes, God bless Hugo Chavez as he continues his fight to bring down Yankee imperialism and lead Venezuela into the perfection of Bolivarian 21st Century Socialism!!!!!

I've seen this movie before -- I think Madonna was in it and I remember lots of singing

Thursday, November 8, 2007

What's Your Inner European?

Mine is no surprise

Your Inner European is Italian!

Passionate and colorful.

You show the world what culture really is.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007


Why can't we just all admit it -- Congress lacks the courage to outlaw waterboarding.

Republicans won't do it because they then will have to admit they were wrong.

Democrats won't do it because they expect the next president to be a Democrat and they do not want to look soft on National Security.

John McCain, however, thinks the 2005 Detainee Treatment Act and the 2006 Military Commissions Act already make it illegal. He even suggests anyone waterboarding after 2006 is guilty of war crimes. (Why is this man not president?)

The red herring in all this is the claim that outlawing torture will put the US at risk. I look at it this way. If something happens in the heat of battle I may look at it differently than if something happens at Gitmo. If a 20 year old sergeant under fire somewhere in Afghanistan threatens a prisoner to reveal a sniper's nest, I view that differently than waterboarding someone captured 6 months ago in a prison. The whole ticking time bomb thing is the creation of t.v. writers (all of whom are now on strike anyway).

My E-Mail to the President on Pakistan

I e-mailed the president earlier today on Pakistan. It will not do any good, but it will make me feel better.

Subject: Pakistan

Dear Mister President:

I am writing to express hope that you will speak out forcefully and quickly against the declaration of emergency in Pakistan. According to press reports, you have called President Musharraf and pushed for elections. You must go further. On places like Lebanon, Ukraine and most recently Burma, you have spoken out eloquently in defense of liberalization and democracy. Pakistan's struggle is no different. While realpolitik might call for continued support of the Pakistani regime in the fight against terrorism and to help Afghanistan, that is short sighted thinking.

No matter what course is taken, Pakistan is going to explode. Speak out against the emergency and in support of those demonstrating for the return of the constitutional order. They are not only fighting for democracy against a military government, they are also under threat of Islamic terrorists who wish to turn Pakistan into a rerun of Taliban run Afghanistan. They need and deserve our support. Their fight is our fight, both short term and long term.

I know you face difficult choices each day I can only imagine. Please know that my prayers are with you.


The citizens of Utah have defeated the most comprehensive school voucher proposal in the country. I view this a defeat for poor parents who want a better education for their children. There may have been something more going on here, but school choice allows parents of more modest means to have better educational choices.

As it stands, there is school choice in this country right now. The rich can choose whatever school they wish. The middle class can usually choose to move to places with better schools. The poor however are often stuck with failing schools.

While this is a defeat, my hope is that more modest plans will still go forward.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Stop Global Warming -- Let's All go to Bali!

Global warming has become the new Marxism -- all the hip cats are for it. I mean against it. I mean they demand massive control of everything in the name of it.

I am something of a skeptic on anthropogenic global warming. I see that the mean temperatures have increased, but this follows a relatively cool period. The Earth was warm in the not so distant past (especially in the warm period before the "Little Ice Age"). Many of the glacier retreats are revealing prior inhabited areas.

I do agree, however, that reducing carbon emissions is a good thing. However, my scepticism is due in part to the fact that those most trumpeting climate change are not personally acting as if it is a crisis. Al Gore's electric bill for one or John Travolta lecturing about carbon emissions while he flies a personal 707.

But don't worry, the United Nations is on the case. And to solve the problem, they are all jetting off to Bali to talk about global warming. The 12 day conference will, I am sure, solve all our climate problems and the Earth will reenter the ice age. They need the ice for their scotch I guess.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Ron Paul has a Happy Guy Fawkes Day

Ron Paul has set a goal to raise $12M in the forth quarter of this year. Today, his supporters raised over $3.8 million.

Say what you want about Paul and his supporters, they definitely are motivated and have l;earned how to use the Internet.


General Musharraf has called a state of emergency and Pakistan is under marital law. Thousands have been arrested, including lawyers protesting the declaration. Musharraf claims he is trying to fight terrorism.

Stephen Green asks the important question -- as both India and what is now Pakistan were long under the control of the British Raj, why is India a democracy and Pakistan on the verge of disintegration?

We have seen this all before. In 1999, Musharraf gained power in much the same way and for the same purpose. Back then, the choice was as follows:

Musharraf who was an authoritarian general
Sharif who was allied to Islamists
Bhutto who was a somewhat corrupt democrat

Which basically are the same choices today. So if we are supposed to be in the new world of "realistic" foreign policy (as opposed to idealistically pushing for democratization) is this a good thing or a bad thing?

I think the reliance on "stability" is partly how we got into this situation (and not just Pakistan and the North West Frontier Province, but the entire Middle East). We support the Taliban to bring "stability" and get 9/11. We supported Musharraf to get stability and we got nothing.

Given the choices, I say go with the somewhat corrupt democrat. Throw the dice. Every result is generally a bad one, so let's go for once with one that at least is the least cynical for a change. Bhutto is back in Pakistan. Throw the dice.

Why I am a Republican

Stephen Bainbridge wonders why he is a Republican (and seems to conclude he is not). (HT

As for me, I describe my political beliefs and their sources as follows (with apologies to French author Chateaubriand):

I am a Republican out of honor (and genetics)
A libertarian out of reason
A conservative out of taste and temperament.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

A McCain Rally?

A while back, I noted my somewhat forlorn hope that John McCain would find a way to rally himself back to the Republican nomination. Now the Washington Post shows that he may just have that chance.

In the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll, Rudy Giuliani maintains the lead nationally. McCain, however, has gained 7 percentage points in the past month, while the Fred Thompson boomlet seems to have run out of steam. Giuliani now leads McCain by 14 points nationally. Giuliani's support, however, is somewhat soft, especially among social conservatives. McCain, of course, may not make those folks happy either, but he comes without the baggage that Giuliani carries.

We have seen McCain rally before, only to drop quickly. And McCain still is in trouble on the fundraising front. But given Giuliani's soft support, he has a chance to put himself back into contention before the start of primary season.

Romney still has the lead in Iowa and New Hampshire, the early states with the most interest. Given the early and compressed primary calender, this could propel him to the nomination.

The Post is calling this the most open GOP race since 1980, when Reagan had the early lead, but there was no one dominating candidate. It is going to be a wild ride.

Hillary Hatred

Glenn Reynolds noted that while at a law clerk reunion, quite a few hard core Democrats were noting their, shall I say, extreme dislike for Hillary Clinton.

I have noticed this myself. Granted, I live deep in the heart of Obama land (in my mind, Obama is not the "black" candidate but the liberal yuppie candidate), but I have noticed it here too. And like Reynolds, it is not always limited to Republicans. I have come across a few Democrats who clearly hate Hillary Clinton on a deep level that goes far beyond ideology or her somewhat hawkishness.

All in all though, this will not affect the prospects of "She who must be inevitable."

Pass the martinis please.

Friday, November 2, 2007

A Belgian Public Service Announcement

It is November 1, do you know where your government is?

Belgium still does not have a government, though it looks like it is getting closer. No one in Belgium or Europe seems to have notice.

No government, lots of frites and great beer -- Belgium is paradise!

Tax Reform

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel has proposed a tax reform bill, which the GOP immediately denounced as a big tax hike.

Maybe however, it would be better for the GOP to take a good look at the bill. The bill is being touted as a reform of the Alternative Minimum Tax paid for by a surtax on the highest incomes. I personally am not that worked up about the AMT (despite having to pay it 3 out of the past 4 years). The AMT really acts as a back door flat tax and addresses the myriad of tax preferences in the code (such as the deduction of state and local taxes -- I live in a high tax city in a relatively high tax state but think people would care more about local taxes if this subsidy was repealed).

However, Rangel is looking at something which you would think is anathema on the left -- namely, lowering the corporate tax rate. Think about that. A very liberal Democrat from Harlem is proposing to use money from tax reform to partially reduce corporate income taxes.

Corporate income is really taxed twice, at the corporate level and when dividends are paid. Most of the other industrialized countries have a system whereby corporate income is taxed only once. Further, the US taxes corporations on their world wide income while in other countries, especially those with a value added tax, give relief on foreign earned income. If I had my druthers, I would replace the current two step corporate tax with a corporate level tax which is credited to dividend recipients. That would still tax corporate income paid to tax-exempt and foreign owners while taxing corporate income only once.

Given the politics, there will not be a major tax reform bill passed next year (though you may see some stopgap AMT relief. There is an election on and President Bush has no political capital left. But historically, there have been major tax reform packages in the first year of the last few presidents. And if Charles Rangel has placed the corporate income on the table, that means a chance of real reform of the tax system is possible,

Let's not reject this out of hand.

Norwegian Borat Want-to-be In New York

This is really funny, though if you object to strong language, turn it off!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Libertarians and libertarians

Libertarians have always been divided into BIG L libertarians (i.e., members of the Libertarian Party) and small l libertarians (i.e., believers in libertarianism as a philosophy). Most libertarians are found outside of the Libertarian Party for several reasons. Most importantly, the Libertarian Party is extremely ineffective and is the province mostly of people who place ideological purity over getting things done.

Thanks in large part to the fusionist movement of Frank Meyer and the early National Review, libertarians are usually associated with the conservative movement, and hence the Republican Party. I for example, have only rarely voted for the Libertarian Party, and usually because the GOP candidate was extremely odorous.

Steven Green of Vodka Pundit (who I suppose will be dealing with the upcoming Clinton Administration the way I plan to) blogged on why he is no longer a Libertarian (though presumably still a libertarian). Glenn Reynolds noted the essay on Pajama Media and pretty much said he felt the same way. This leads to a bunch of other confessions, and Andrew Sullivan blame the lot of them for destroying liberal democracy in America by supporting Bush (OK, maybe a slight exaggeration). Green posts his reply, explaining the difference between Big and little "l" libertarians.

I have always been a Republican, even as my political philosophy has drifted. I have never been a member of the Libertarian Party. While I wish them well, I view them basically as an out for people like me to indicate my displeasure with the GOP. My main problem with the Libertarians goes back to college. It seemed that self-described libertarians were more interested in fighting arcane inter-fraternal philosophical battles rather than discussing real world policy choices. It is like when back during the Nixon Administration, Milton Friedman found himself in conflict with libertarian leaders such as Karl Hess III because Friedman was more interested in guiding policy than fighting losing battles.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The GOP Debate -- Best Soundbite Ever!

For someone who considers himself a political junkie, I have missed just about every debate. Today I have a good reason, I am at my mother-in-law's house and unable to watch. Stephen Green, as usually, has the best liveblog.

The best soundbite though seems to be this one, from John McCain, regarding fiscal responsibility and the Woodstock Museum:

Why is this man NOT president of the United States?

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Now that people seem to be listening to Huckabee . . .

For some time, I have been arguing that people need to be taking Mike Huckabee seriously.

Now that he is winning straw polls and being looked at, the question arises -- is Mike Huckabee a Nanny Stater? Some see in his record a big government taxer. And despite Huckabee's support of the Fair Tax, the Club for Growth has worries about him.

For some time, I have thought of Huckabee as a serious candidate who deserves more attention. Let's give it to him and see if there is something there.

(HT to Instapundit)

Friday, October 19, 2007

Libertarians and Public Morals

Despite the old fusionism between conservatives and libertarians, one major point on contention between the two groups is partly how to deal with public morals. Jonah Goldberg raises the issue today on NRO -- namely, how should one deal with Madonna or Pamela Anderson? Goldberg, who is not usually considered a traditional or social conservative, is worried, rightly, about how society looks to people whose actions are not exactly up to norms.

I am a self described Catholic Libertarian. While that seems contradictory, I agree with 90% of what social conservatives worry about.

The difference is how to answer. I am all for ME complaining about Madonna's behavior. I am against the GOVERNMENT doing something about it. My belief is that the decline of civil society and standards is not because of government inaction but rather a result of government action (economic and moral) that takes away individual responsibility. If you ignore celebrities, they eventually will act decent or otherwise go away.

So let's address the decline of public morals and civil society by addressing ourselves first.

More on Mother Teresa's Dark Night

I am still reading Mother Teresa's letters. In the days she was forming her missionaries, she frankly was a pain. I feel for her bishop -- he was bombarded by constant letters begging him to grant permission for the Missionaries of Charity. He would tell her to be patient (he needed to get approval from others). Yet she refused to stop. She constantly felt our Lord's presence imploring her to do his will.

If was after she commenced her mission that her dark night began.

Global Warming Solved!!!!!!

I guess it must be -- the Cape Wind Project was killed. So if we do not need cheap, clean, renewable energy to power Teddy's pleasure dome, I guess the whole global warming thing is overrated!

Yea! Al Gore has done it already! Thank you, you're awesome!

Blogging from the Airport

This is awesome!

Huckabee Rising?

Republicans have clearly been unimpressed with their choices for president. McCain's "turn" has sadly (in my opinion) fizzled, Giuliani has not quite reconciled the base, Romney turned out to be a little strange and Thompson was a great non-candidate, as a candidate he has not impressed.

So it is no surprise to me that Mike Huckabee is now being touted as a rising candidate by none other than David Brooks.

Huckabee was a governor, and governors do better in presidential campaigns then Senators. He can point to programs implemented and problems solved, not obscure policy arguments. His main negative is that he does not have a real foreign policy (and unlike 2000, foreign policy (Iraq, Iran, terrorism) will dominate the campaign). His socially conservative roots will put off some (that noise you just heard was Andrew Sullivan banging out another "anti-Christianist" essay), thought to me he comes off somewhat measured and more importantly, a federalist on such matters. And while he supports the Fair Tax, some fiscal conservatives worry about his spending habits as governor.

I have thought for a while that Huckabee should not be ignored. I cannot see him actually winning the nomination, but he is definitely someone the GOP should be listening too.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

How I Plan to Survive Another Clinton Presidency

I have become resigned to President Hillary Clinton. Yes, it is more than a year until the election. Not one primary or caucus has been fought and only a handful of super delegates have declared. Not one electoral vote has been cast. And while Andrew Sullivan dreams of Obama, Hugh Hewitt boosts Romney, many of my friends pray for Giuliani, and I continue to have pipe dreams about McCain, I recognize that Hillary Clinton cannot be stopped. And frankly, that thought does not bother me. If she is elected, the sun will rise, and I think she is adult enough to defend the country, support relatively free trade and not give in to the left wing of the Democrats. For most of her husband's presidency I worked 2 blocks away from the White House (enough to get questioned by security when the Chinese President came to town) so I doubt it will have much of an effect on me.

In any event, I have developed a four step program to survive a Hillary presidency.


Assemble the ingredients

I prefer Belevdere myself. I also place the ice in the shaker for a minute or two beforehand to ensure the shaker itself is cold, then add the vodka


Coat your glass in some vermouth.

Just a little, barely enough to coat the glass in a thin layer. Toss out the rest.


Shake and pour.

I like to shake vigorously. This allows the vodka to get nice and cold. Some people claim that shaking "bruises" the liquor. With vodka martinis, that is a myth, and it probably is also a myth with gin.



Some people like lemon peel but I actually prefer olives. However, it seems that those dastardly liberals invaded my house while I was at work and stole all my olives. So I had to settle for pearl onions.


Result -- enough of these and Dennis Kucinich could get elected I won't care. I just hope those damn Democrats don't raise the liquor tax or place a quota on imports of vodka and vermouth. In that case, I wonder how corn liquor martinis would taste?


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Ron Paul Wins a Straw Poll

Ron Paul has won the straw poll at the Conservative Leadership Conference. Of course, the MSNBC Headline is "Romney Loses NV Straw Poll"

Straw polls mean nothing and this was a small straw poll at a conservative gathering. Further, Nevada does not have the interest that Iowa and New Hampshire have. But considering how motivated Paul's supporters are, in an early caucus, he could win a few delegates.

I'd also point out that the stereotypical New Hampshire Republican is more of the libertarian "Live Free or Die" variety, so he might surprise folks up there and do better than expected.

And no, I have not been converted to Paul -- just pointing out that the GOP ignores him at its own peril

Al Gore and the Nobel Prize

I am a bit of a skeptic regarding anthropogenic global warming and no fan of Al Gore. I have joked that he got the Nobel for basically making a movie staring Al Gore giving a lecture, though I realize that he has been at this for a long time. I also question the doomsayers claiming planetary doom is imminent, given that personally they are not acting as though planetary doom is imminent.

That said, good for him.

Then again, last year I was very excited about the Peace Prize going to the Grameen Bank. I know that many saw that award as controversial and undeserved.

At any rate, at least finally the world is waking up to the threat of Manbearpig.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Operation Unthinkable -- The British Plan for War with the USSR

I came across this document this evening when looking at The Corner. It is Operation Unthinkable -- the British review for war with Stalin's USSR following World War Two.

The topic of Western Betrayal is still a hot topic in eastern Europe. Many Eastern Europeans feel that the Western powers sold them out to the Soviet Union following World War Two, replacing Nazism with Bolshevism. This feeling is especially strong in Poland, for whom the Western powers ostensibly went to war to defend in 1939. The Poles suffered heavily during World War II, initially suffering German invasion. Later, much of the Polish intelligentsia was wiped out when 23,000 Polish officers were executed by the Soviets at Katyn. Warsaw rose in revolt twice. First, the Jews revolted in 1943. Then, as the Soviet armies neared the city, the Polish Home Army turned on the Germans. The Soviet advance was halted, while the Poles died in large numbers fighting the Germans. The Soviets not only refused to militarily assist the Poles, but they forbid Western assistance.

In the end, Poland found itself at the feet of Stalin.

The problem with Western Betrayal is that in reality there was little the Western allies could do. The British Empire was bankrupt and exhausted. The United States still had to defeat Japan, and in any event, there was no will to turn on our Russian "allies" in the hour of victory. FDR and Churchill were able to get Stalin to agree to free elections -- of course that turned out to be a farce.

Short of the Western Allies going to war with Russia, Poland's fate, and the fate of all of Eastern Europe, was sealed.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

St. Teresa of Avila

Tomorrow (October 15) is the feast day of St. Teresa of Avila. She is one of the most beloved saints in Spain, and one of my favorites. She was from a well of and prominent merchant family (several of her siblings married nobility). She found her vocation after a long search. Her theology was one of prayer and spirit, but she was not a stern Catholic. Rather, she opened herself to the joy of Catholicism. She was also a scholar who found herself enmeshed in the controversies of the day, especially with regards to the controversies between the several Carmelite branches.

Two stories though stand out in my mind. In the first, several of her fellow nuns and some of the novices were disheartened. So in order to raise their spirits, she took out some cymbals and had them dance. In the second, Saint Teresa was visiting a convent on official business when she was fed some delicious partridge. She enjoyed it so much, she asked the novice serving her to get her some more. Which she enjoyed with obvious pleasure. When the novice look a little disapproving, Saint Teresa said (in what I have always imagined was a little bit of sarcasm) "My child, there is a time for penance and a time for partridge."

To me that is one of the keys to Catholicism -- believe, but with joy.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Why a Clinton Presidency is all but Inevitable

Robert George on his blog had something quite interesting to say about the GOP nominating process:

"The double-curse that Republicans bequeath the country is to elect a Bush, who they believe will govern as a Reagan. When that Bush fails, the country responds by electing a Clinton -- who inevitably manage to make the country learn to love government."

I believe there is truth here. As a young GOP true believer, I worked on Bush's campaign in 1988. I thought it would be "phase II" of the Reagan Revolution -- following through on reducing government and the growing deficit but taking off the hard edges. That of course was not to be.

We then ended up with Bill Clinton, who promised that the days of big government were over, then immediately introduced socialized medicine. Learning his lesson, for 8 years he played the Democratic desire for government solutions against the Republican distrust of big government.

So hoping for a Reagan Revival, the GOP looked to the Bush Family again. And we ended up there with big government conservatism.

Which makes a Hilliary Clinton presidency all but inevitable. I wonder if First Lady Bill will look good in a dress.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Court Ruling

Queens, NY October 5, 2007(AP) -

A seven-year old boy was at the center of a courtroom drama yesterday when he challenged a court ruling over who should have custody of him.

The boy has a history of being beaten by his parents and the judge initially awarded custody to his aunt, in keeping with NY State child custody law and regulation requiring that family unity be maintained to the highest degree possible. The boy surprised the court when he proclaimed that his aunt beat him more than his parents and he adamantly refused to live with her. When the judge then suggested that he live with his grandparents, the boy cried and said that they also beat him. After considering the remainder of the immediate family and learning that domestic violence was apparently a way of life among them, the judge took the unprecedented step of allowing the boy to propose who should have custody of him.

Following two recesses to check legal references and confer with the child welfare officials, the judge granted temporary custody to the New York Mets, whom the boy firmly believes are not capable of beating anyone.

(From a friend via e-mail)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Story of a Man named Fred

From Ragged Thots -- the GOP field meets the Beverly Hillbillies.


Belgium, still does not have a government. This has lead to a little schadenfreude from a usual suspect. But mostly in the United States it passes without notice.

So why do I care. I one Belgian and have no attachment to the country. I spend a weekend there about 5 years ago (it rained the entire time) though I had some good beer in Brugge. But I find the current "crisis" fascinating.

Belgium exists solely because in 19th century power politics, the English could not allow the French to control Antwerp, the Prussians wanted a little distance between them and France, the French wanted no power to have troops on their broader, the French speaking elite of Brussels wanted the Dutch out and the Catholic Flemish wanted to Catholicism to be respected. So the great powers found a minor German prince and made him a king.

Today, Belgium has outlived the reason for its birth. The French no longer are any threat to invade Britain, the Germans and French are close buddies and the Walloons and Flemings are no longer on speaking terms in a post nation and post-Christian Europe. The central state of Belgium is disappearing. In 20 years, it will have control of the army, the post office and the foreign service and that is about it. That is, if Belgium still exists in 20 years.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Al Gore and the Iraqi Threat

This has been making the rounds on the Internet the last few days.

So in 1992, Al Gore thought that Iraq posed a terrorist threat and that Saddam Hussein was trying to build weapons of mass destruction. How relevant is that for today? Not sure.

A lot happened between 1992 and 2003 and more has happened in the last 4 yours. But what is not talked about much is that what George Bush said about Iraq in the run up to the invasion was not very different from what Bill Clinton was saying for 8 years.

For a good roundup,m check out the Anchoress.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Saints and Madmen -- St. Francis of Assisi

"Francis, Francis, go and repair My house which, as you can see, is falling into ruins."

October 4 is the feast of St. Francis of Assisi. Italians like their saints a little mad and Saint Francis fit the bill. Tearing off his clothes to protest his father's materiality, running off to the woods, preaching to the animals when the people of Assisi refused to listen. He was quite mad, which is why Poor Francis is one of the most beloved saints in Italy.

His mission marked a renewal in the church. Given the ongoing pederasty scandals, we need a new Francis.

Ron Paul Raises $5 Million

Meanwhile, Ron Paul has raised $5 million and has about $5.3 million on hand. That is more than John McCain. While Paul's support is not wide (he is polling nationally in the 2-4% range) , it is deep (his supporters are highly motivated and turn up everywhere). So in an early caucus with that much money he could win a few delegates. That would make for some interesting convention t.v. (I was a volunteer at the 1988 GOP convention -- a convention is simply an excuse to drink).

Reason's take on the continuing Paul boomlet.

One issue is how the Paul factor effects the general election. Ron Paul will not be the GOP nominee. The conventional wisdom is that the Paul supporters are mostly Republicans and most will sit out the general election. I am not so sure about that. Something tells me that Ron Paul supporter Andrew Meyer, aka "Taser Boy", is not a Republican. Still, with Paul at say 4% of the GOP field, that could throw a few close states to the Democrats.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Belgium is Paradise

People really do not think much about Belgium. It is flat, it has beer and fries and that is about it. I was there for 3 days back in 2002 and it rained the entire time.

But thanks to the disputes between the French and Dutch speakers in the country, it has been about 110 days since the last election, and still there is no government.

So Belgium -- Catholic, great beer and no government -- it sounds like paradise to me!

You Geek! says I'm an Uber Cool History / Lit Geek.  What are you?  Click here!

Click on the above to find out your own geek score.

President Clinton?

On the other hand, The Anchoress (or at least her brother) thinks we should be minting the President Clinton commemorative coins.

Obama says "No Nukes"

Barack Obama is now making his move by calling for a nuclear free world. Obama proposes that the United States enter into discussions to ban all nuclear weapons and prevent others from acquiring them.

It sounds nice, but the nuclear genie is long since out of the bottle. Hence, total disarmament is impossible and considering the nasties out there, I think undesirable. But what might be achievable is to a post-Cold War system of all the nuclear powers (the US, UK, France, Russia, China, India, Pakistan and Israel) to limit total yields, with a verification mechanism (trust but verify are great words to live by).

If Obama wants to do propose something to make people take notice, an idea would be to propose decommissioning the remaining 300 US warheads in Europe. But as I am a Republican, I doubt he will take my advice.

Could we be seeing President Obama?

While Clinton is ahead comfortably in the national polls, the polls in Iowa show a close race between Obama, Clinton and John Edwards. The Iowa caucus is very early this year. Furthermore, as a caucus, depth of support is just as important as breath -- it does not matter if 90% of the people want Clinton if the 10% that wants Obama are the only people willing to show up and stand around a gym on a cold January night. Obama has shown that he excites people, so that may be the advantage for him.

Ryan's Hopeless

The US Women's National Team came in third place in the Women's World Cup in China. But the real story is how coach Greg Ryan's decision to bench keeper Hope Solo for the semi final turned the team into a soap opera. "Ryan's Hopeless" perhaps.

Ryan was already somewhat unpopular among US soccer fans. He seemed to be creating a team to relied on physical strength over soccer skills. Tactics became kicking the ball into the box and hoping Abby Wambach got her head on the ball. He rarely made substitutions, but when he did, they seemed strange.

Then came his decision to replace starting keeper Hope Solo with former starter Briana Scurry for the semi-final against Brazil. His reasoning was that Scurry always played well against Brazil and he claimed that he had planned this for a while. The only problems were that (i) he never told Solo and (ii) Scurry had not played much over the past 2 years.

While Brazil clearly outplayed the US, the situation did not help matters. The defense looked unorganized and the US had a run of bad luck ending in Brazil winning 4-0. Still, Brazil dominated the game and still would have won with Solo in the nets.

Then Solo, who the entire game was on the bench looking annoyed, mouthed off to the press. She was then benched for the third place game. She was not allowed to train or eat with the team. She apologized, but after a team meeting, voted off the island.

Judging from the reaction on, the US soccer fan base mostly supports Solo. The feeling seems to be that she should have started against Brazil, and that while she should not have said what she said after the game, the team should have accepted her apology.

Who says sports are dull!

A Second Look at Mike Huckabee

Or maybe it would be your first. But if you have the chance, listen to Glenn and Helen Reynolds' podcast interview of former Governor Huckabee. I do not agree with him entirely, but what politicians do you ever agree with entirely? While I doubt he will be the nominee, he is someone people should be listening to seriously.

As I have said before, he is definitely NOT your father's evangelical conservative Republican.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Being a Mets Fan

I am glad I no longer live in New York. If I was home, I would be devastated. Now I just feel a bit of annoyance. Half of my family is on suicide watch. Most of the rest are sitting in the corner, incoherently balling to themselves. The few Yankee fans I know are keeping quiet, lest they touch off a time bomb.

One thing to remember though is that most Mets fans either were Brooklyn Dodger fans, or are the children or grandchildren of Dodger fans. So we are used to pain. As my cousin Raymond has said, the worst thing is that the Mets do sometimes win. It is easy to follow a constant winner. It is also easy to embrace losing (as Cubs fans are accused of doing). But Mets fans, you always expect the worst but sometimes things work out.

Well, as they used to say in Brooklyn, "WAIT UNTIL NEXT YEAR!"

The Money Primary

Yesterday the thrid fundraising quarter ended. According to Marc Ambinder of The Atlantic, both Romney and Giuliani have raised enough money to keep gong through February 5. Thompson has also raised quite a bit of money. John McCain has only raised about $5 million (so maybe my earlier post was premature). has an in depth review of fundraising, so once the reports are released on the 15th, it will be interesting to see how it turns out.

The real concern for the GOP should be that the Democratic front runners have raised more money than the GOP leaders.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

New Mets Fight Song!

Here in Chicago, I am limited to hearing Mets and Phillies updates on the Cubs games. But the Mets lose again, Philly wins, and now the Mets are in second place.

So, without further ado, the Mets new fight song!

Beat the Mets, beat the Mets,
Last place teams defeat the Mets.
Hanging sliders, minor-league speed,
Guaranteed to waste a seven run lead.

Because the Met bullpen keeps fading away,
October baseball won't be at Shea.
Mota...Sosa...,Every game is now in doubt.
Can anyone who's on this staff, Get three men out?

(I was sent this by a friend who saw it on where it was posted by a Mets fan who got it from a Phillies fan who in turn received it from another Mets fan)

Friday, September 28, 2007

Begrudging the Rich

The Anchoress notes that she does not begrudge the rich, but is annoyed by the "better than thou" attitude that many of them have. As usual I think she is correct. Generally, I do not view the world as a zero sum game -- what makes Bill Gates or an actor rich does not make me poor. On the contrary, what makes them rich betters my life. It may enrichen me materially (the computer software created by Microsoft probably increases my material wealth) or in an immaterial way (such as when I enjoy a movie or a piece of music).

What is annoying is the seeming attitude of many of celebrities that they know better than I do how I should live. And many times, they themselves completely ignore what they claim needs to be done (such as when John Travolta, who has a 707 in his yard, lectured about global warming).

The real problem is that the rich, especially celebrities, live in a world of make believe. They are surrounded by sycophants who tell them what to do, and are very much divorced from reality. As Isabel Paterson once said:

We do not object to the rich, as long as they know their place. Segregated in Newport and other penal colonies, they do little or no harm . . . A lot of them have decided to Help Others. And the results are just about what you’d expect.

Saints and Madmen

According to the Anchoress, Father Rutler told Christopher Hitchens that Hitchens will die "either a Catholic or a madman." The Anchoress notes that she is not sure this exchange really happened, but she notes some truth to it. She looks at her favorite saints and notes that they, well, were all slightly mad.

Mother Teresa before the "Dark Night"

I have started reading the collection of Mother Teresa's letters. As I noted here and here, the press has been reporting that Mother Teresa was some sort of atheist, without realizing that her cry was that of an anguished believer.

The interesting thing so far is that she felt her call so strongly. In letters written to her spiritual advisor and to her Archbishop asking for permission to start the Missionaries of Charity, she described it so vividly. Christ asked her to minister to the poorest of the poor and she felt that she could do nothing but answer that call. Her superiors of course were not quite so convinced. Her spiritual advisor suggested that she take some time to reflect, her Archbishop suggested that they delay any decision, while her superiors transferred her to a remote school.

Yet she continued with pursuing her call. She wrote constantly to her Archbishop, requesting a decision (one that he tried to delay or pass to otters). In these letters, you can almost hear the pleading voice of the humble nun. Considering how vivid and strong the call was, you can understand why her later struggles were so devastating to her.

Perhaps that is the lesson of Teresa, that when we hear and answer the call, it is then up to us to make it happen. God points in the direction he wants us to go, but then it is up to us to get there.

What Libertarians Want

There has always been a tension within the conservative movement between libertarians and traditional (and now social) conservatives. Libertarians tend to be against government "interference" in personal affairs, while conservatives are willing to allow government intervention to protect societal values. This tension has been around since the early days of the modern conservative movement, and was played out initially with in the pages of "National Review". This tension continues today, as noted on the pages of Instapundit and Classical Values.

I think the problem is one of perception. I generally worry about the same things that social and traditional conservatives worry about. I do worry that our culture is degrading. While I self describe myself as a libertarian, I am also Catholic. I have one wife and view that as a permanent arrangement (one woman in my life is tough enough, why do some people want more?). Other than the glass of wine with dinner, I am not running around trying to score substances. I avoid most t.v. as it is a sewer.

But I believe that much of the cause is the increased role of government in our lives. Increasing government's role will exacerbate, not solve the problem. When people began to see government as the be all and end all, personal responsibility disappears. And if you try and regulate your way to virtue, you send up with hypocrisy and depravity.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Why McCain?

For the past week or so I have been pushing the idea of a McCain revival. Is it wishful thinking, or am I onto something here.

So here are the reasons I think John McCain will be the Republican nominee for President:

  1. Republicans want to win -- The GOP rank and file, if given the choice between an unelectable pure candidate and John McCain, they will pick John McCain.

  2. Republicans pick the candidate whose "time" it is -- Republicans tend to pick candidates who put in the hours. In 1960, Richard Nixon was nominated as he was Ike's loyal vice president. In 1980, it was Reagan's time, having help revitalize the conservative movement. In 1988, Bush was Reagan's loyal vice president. In 1996, Bob Dole, having put in the time in 1976, 1980, and 1988. So that gets us to 2008. Unlike past years, there is no establishment or movement candidate. The closest you get is John McCain, who ran in 2000 and has put in his time.

  3. The other major candidates have too many flaws -- Mitt Romney is now seen as too much of a flip flopper. Rudy Giuliani has some political positions that will be difficult to mesh with the GOP base. Fred Thompson, after a at times comes across as an actor playing Fred Thompson.
  4. The GOP wants a warrior as president -- McCain is a warrior, something lacking in our current political class. Given the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the GOP base wants a warrior as a president at this time.

The next test is the FEC money reports due early in October. McCain did not do well in the money primary. The report may turn out to be a disaster and he will be announcing his withdrawal soon. But I doubt it -- if he can hold on monetarily until January, he will be the GOP nominee.