Friday, August 29, 2008

A Classic column

His gig at the NY Times hasn't completely neutered David Brooks. Today he has an absolute masterpiece -- the generic 2008 Democrat convention speech. Some bits:

My fellow Americans, it is an honor to address the Democratic National Convention at this defining moment in history. We stand at a crossroads at a pivot point, near a fork in the road on the edge of a precipice in the midst of the most consequential election since last year’s “American Idol.”

One path before us leads to the past, and the extinction of the human race. The other path leads to the future, when we will all be dead. We must choose wisely.

* * *
We meet today to heal the divisions that have torn this country. For we are all one country and one American family, whether we are caring and thoughtful Democrats or hate-filled and war-crazed Republicans. We must bring together left and right, marinara and carbonara, John and Elizabeth Edwards. On United we stand, on US Airways, there’s a 25-minute delay.

But THIS is the best line of the whole piece:

. . . this election isn’t about the past or the present, or even the pluperfect conditional. It’s about the future, and Barack Obama loves the future because that’s where all his accomplishments are.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

"It's NEVER been about me, it's all about YOU"


That even trumps the disgusting lie that opponents to gay marriage won't allow gays to visit their loved ones in the hospital. The flimsiest straw man in memory.

Don't Get It

I'm not a tax expert but what was that mumble about capital gains for small businesses? Sound great but I am not sure that small businesses are much affected by capital gains taxes. Rather they are directed to encourage individuals to invest long-term which historically has provided the best returns.


I thought it was a remarkably indifferent speech delivered well by a superb orator.

He's going give us:
- universal health care
- tax cut for 95% of Americans
- spend $150 billion to make us energy independent in 10 years
- take care of deficits
- take care of Social Security

and pay for it by
- cutting tax loopholes for corporations

Yeah, sure.

He did have some good lines and themes, particularly:
- making fun of the 'ownership' society - it means "you're on your own". It's an effective bit of rhetoric though the intent is loathsome and turns back the clock a generation
- glib lines on abortion, "no unwanted pregnancies" and gun ownership, "uphold the Second Amendment and take away AK-47s"
- John McCain is a good man but "just doesn't get it." "How can he be an agent of change if he agrees with Bush 90% of the time."

Impresses the troops, some nice rhetoric but WHERE'S THE BEEF??

Juan Williams finds it less than satisfying. He pretty much panned it. Felt that he really didn't convince anyone who didn't already support him.

Bill Kristol, surprisingly, thinks very highly of it and says it hits McCain on the Country First slogan.

Enemies of the state?

It's not a big step from attempting to silence critics to trying to kill the First Amendment. Silencing critics is part of the Obama plan right now, even to the extent of PROSECUTING PEOPLE EXERCISING FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS.

And the American Issues Project president Ed Martin is right, such tactics are Stalinesque, not American.

Check the links to this post for how Obama's campaign has reacted to Stanley Kurtz's criticisms of Obama's relationship with admitted and unrepentant terrorist William Ayers and how the campaign has reacted to this advertisement.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Sean Hannity for VP

Brian Schweitzer, Democratic governor of Montana, when asked by Sean Hannity "What does Obama bring to the table specifically? [I paraphrase.]

" He's got an energy plan."

Minutes later Michael Dukakis, pressed and pressed on the same thing - concrete accomplishments - could not come up with ANYTHING other than generalities like "he was a great leader in the Illinois state legislature."

Tom Vilsack, former Democratic Governor of Iowa, questioned by Hannity said Obama has made two great decisions that prove he is ready to be President. 1. his stance on Iraq and 2. his choice of Joe Biden. Wow.

Hammer away.


The Obama camp HAS to be happy with this.

Some thoughts:

ADULATION from the crowd for Bill Clinton.
Two minutes of applause - Bill has to appeal for folks to sit down.
"I love this [the applause] and I thank you."

"First, I am here to support Obama"
"Second, I am here to warm up the crowd for Joe Biden."
"I love Joe Biden." [not Barack]
He reminds again that 18 million voted for Hillary though declaims that he wants these 18 million to vote for Barack.

But he carries a lot of water for Obama.

- "Barack...has intelligence and curiosity to be President"
- Calls Biden choice a home run ["his first presidential decision - he hit it out of the park."]
- His most powerful argument: compares Obama to himself in 1992. I was too young and inexperienced. A good one, especially for the rank and file but powerful nonetheless. This works only if you think the Clinton Presidency is a good one. And, as Bill Kristol points out, the first years of the Clinton Presidency included Somalia, Haiti and Rwanda.

The rest is liberal tripe.

Oh, and, he STILL PLAYS FAST AND LOOSE WITH THE FACTS. "Wages have been declining." How's that???

How DARE he criticize Bush on AIDS???

McCain is a good man, served honorably but he's wrong. And then tries to tie him to Bush's eight years. Note, they can't really attack him.

But a reminder that he's the best politician that many of us have ever seen and ever will see.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

"Faint Praise"

Bill Kristol and Morton Kondracke on Fox News both agree that it was very faint praise of the Prince. They conclude that she gave a speech that would have been applicable to ANY Democratic candidate. They note that she praised Michelle Obama but not the Prince. No reference to his character or to his readiness to lead though she mentioned his name 10 times.

Fred Barnes said the best line in the speech was Harriet Tubman's.

I thought it was well executed but the view of the Fox pundits is she played a losing hand extremely well and is poised to come back in 2012 if, heaven forfend, the Prince loses.

Hillary's Swan Song

If this is her swan song, it's a barn burner.



A great performance because in her heart of hearts she hopes Obama loses. She has steel in her spine, a lot more than the Anointed One. That's why even this conservative who bitterly disagrees with her would rather see her in the White House the callow Prince.

It's flat.

"No Way, No How, No McCain."

It was by far the weakest point of a well-written, superbly executed speech by Mrs. Clinton.

Tonight was the beginning of the attacks on McCain - the Democrats are trying to tie him to Bush - Four More Years of the Last Eight.

It won't resonate to anyone but fervent Democrats.

This race will go down to the wire and this manically depressed conservative is feeling better.

Manny going to the Bronx

Alex Rodriguez bonking twice in the last three innings, hitting into a DP with the bases loaded in the seventh as the tying run and striking out with a man on against Papelbon in the ninth to end one of the most important games of the season.

A-Rod may be the best overall player in the game.

But Manny is clutch.

If the Yanks miss the playoffs it might be Manny time.

Judas is Disappointed

Just watched Bill Richardson on Hannity and Colmes at the Convention.

He is very unhappy that he didn't get the VP pick. Responding to Sean Hannity on the choice of Biden Richardson said:

"It. was. a. good. pick."

Like pulling teeth.

Bill Clinton said famously of Richardson, "Three cabinet posts weren't enough!?!?!?"

It wasn't.

Bill Richardson should hope Hillary NEVER gets into power.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Democratic Message Not Delivered

The Obama campaign aimed for a feel-good, humanizing night.

[Why does he need to be HUMANIZED?]

A very telling comment from long-time Democratic strategist James Carville on CNN:

...Carville also says. "Maybe we are going to look better Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. But right now, we're playing hide the message."

Carville also said the party needs to do a better job of communicating its message to the American people.

“If this party has a message it's done a hell of a job hiding it tonight, I promise you that," he said.

Perhaps its because its an ineffective, dangerous, hackneyed message delivered by a dangerously charismatic fool.

A pithy thought

It's not a new thought but marvelously distilled by a colleague today.

"People don't hate John McCain."

In an unconventional and roundabout way Providence may have provided the GOP with the one candidate who could defeat the Prince of Chicago.

Ticking off the checklist...

Michelle's speech:

...thanking Hillary Clinton for 18 million cracks in the glass ceiling

...equal pay for equal work

...Barack the State Senator who cut taxes for the working class (really?)

...closing with "God Bless You and God Bless America" (Claire McCaskill earlier also put in "One Nation, Under God")

Well executed. and muzzled.

Arrogant, Entitled Michelle Obama

This is our first attempt at live-blogging.

Just watched "South Side Girl", the treacly DNC video introducing Michelle Obama. The goal here clearly is to soften the Princess of Chicago.

She's speaking now but this comment on the video says all we need to know about Michelle.

"...of the First Lady I will become."


I didn't mishear it either - WILL came over the close-captioning.

This is typical of the Obama campaign which surely vetted this video and speech. Their message: this is a DONE DEAL - live with it.

A new American hero?

The problem with Democrats generally and the teachers' unions specifically is that their solution to the horrid major city public school systems throughout the nation is to seek more money. It's not a solution. Just ask the Dallas Independent School District -- one of the worst in this state, with plenty of money, often terrible administration, and constant racial tensions between blacks and Latinos who are the parents of the vast majority of the students (affluent, middle class and even semi-struggling white parents funnel their kids into private schools).

The D.C. public school system has been one of the worst in the country since before I first attended the University of Virginia 20 years ago. And it is one of the best-funded on a dollars-per-pupil basis (#3 in the country at last check).

So after years of languishing and rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, the DC school system finally did something -- it hired a chancellor who will reconfigure the teachers, administrators and system as a whole. She's Michelle Rhee. Read the WaPo's profile and preview of her second year in office.

Friday, August 22, 2008

NBC's coverage failure

Because the US had, for it, an absolutely awful track meet at the Olympics, NBC's coverage of track & field, which usually dominates prime time, has been reduced in these games.

That's why viewers haven't seen 2000 replays of Jamaican Usain Bolt's incredible run in the 100m race (and if you haven't, go find it -- it's worth viewing just to see how he blew away the field and would have had a lower time if he hadn't CRUISED TO THE WORLD RECORD in the last 15-20 meters). He followed that up with a world record in the 200m and won more jewelry as a member of the 4x100 relay winners this morning (US time). If the flag Bolt carried around the track was Red, White and Blue instead of black, yellow and green, we'd be inundated with Boltmania to fill in for the Phelpsathon from week one.

The US has been a second-class country in the races it normally dominates -- sprints. Jamaica has won the men's and women's 100m and 200m races and set a world record in the 4x100 men's relay. The US dropped the baton in both the men's and women's 4x100 yesterday. A US sweep in the 400m men's race received relatively little coverage.

Worse yet, NBC's reduced coverage of the track meet means that one man who unquestionably deserves more air time had his performance relegated to late night replay after men's volleyball. Brian Clay, who won the decathlon this morning, didn't appear on NBC's coverage until sometime in the middle of the night last night, more than 12 hours after day one of the decathlon ended. The decathlon once was a glamour event at the Olympics -- in 1976 it made Bruce Jenner a household name, in 1992 it spawned the famous Dan v. Dave commercials, in 1996 Dan (O'Brien) won the gold for the US and redeemed his 1992 failure (in an infamous bit of idiocy, O'Brien failed to qualify for the Olympics because he failed to make even one pole vault -- he tried to vault a height that was a challenge for him and passed on the opening heights of the competition even though he only needed one easy vault to qualify).

Clay should be a hero and inspiration -- think about the amount of work and training it takes to excel at 10 different track and field events. So tonight we'll see if NBC can atone for its failure to give him the airtime he deserved.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Redeem Team II

Congratulations to the United States Women's Soccer team for its own redemption. The team defeated Brazil 1-0 after extra time today for the Olympic gold medal. That's the same Brazil team that drilled the US 4-0 in the women's world cup last year after the US coach Greg Ryan stupidly decided to replace his starting goalkeeper, Hope Solo, with her backup. At least two of the Brazilian goals should have been stopped by competent goalkeeping.

The fallout from that match was enormous: (1) Solo ripped Ryan after the loss for his decision and stated that she would have made some of the saves that her backup, '99 World Cup winning goalie Brianna Scurry, bonked; (2) the team united against Solo and ostracized her; (3) Ryan tossed her off the team; (4) the old royalty of US women's soccer (Brandi Chastain, Julie Foudy) ripped Solo and said she should never play again for the national team; they all played with Scurry when Scurry had been in her prime but as of the World Cup '07, Solo had an undefeated streak of about 40 games and Scurry hadn't played a meaningful game in years.

But the US Soccer Federation was wiser than Ryan and the old guard. First, it fired Ryan, and with good reason -- his colossally stupid coaching decision destroyed the team and his failure to communicate with his high-strung starting 'keeper showed he cannot manage top talent. Second, it replaced him with top notch coach Pia Sundhage, who brought Solo back into the team (after apologies and some making up).

And Solo, who may be the best women's goalkeeper in the world, won her starting job back.

Then she saved the team in the gold medal match, as the AP notes:

Solo kept them in the game for the first 85 minutes, making at least a half-dozen big saves. The most impressive came in the 72nd minute, when Marta lost the ball behind Heather Mitts and Kate Markgraf and then picked it back up for a close-range shot that looked certain to be in. But Solo leaned out, threw up her right arm and sent the ball flying out of harm's way.

So congratulations to the women's soccer Olympic champions. And to Hope Solo -- there's no doubt you are the golden goalie of American women's soccer.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Gazprom imperialism

One thing Anne Applebaum, author of the Pulitzer Prize winning book, Gulag, gets right every time is her interpretation of Russian motivations. Today, she writes how the Russian invasion of Georgia is the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia all over again . . . and at the same time is not. Read the whole column.

Here are two nuggets that reveal the Russian mind:

The Russian state's open hostility toward not only Georgia but also Ukraine and the Baltic states is . . . partly ideological. Genuine elections have taken place in those countries; people who have not been preselected by a ruling oligarchy do sometimes gain wealth or power. Georgia's Rose Revolution and Ukraine's Orange Revolution even involved street demonstrations that helped unseat more oligarchic regimes. Thus it is not pure nationalism, or mere traditional great-power arrogance, that makes the Russian leadership disdainful of Georgia and Ukraine: It is also, at some level, fear that similar voter revolutions could someday challenge Russia's leaders, too.

* * *
. . . if the Russian military remains in Georgia proper, if this turns out to be only the first of several incursions into other neighboring states, there are relationships we have and meaningful levers we can use, whether over Russian membership in international institutions or Russian leaders' luxury apartments in Paris -- if, of course, we are willing to use them. The critical question now is whether the West is prepared to behave like the West, to speak with one voice and create a common transatlantic policy. In recent years, Russia has preferred to deal with Western countries and their leaders one by one. Just last week, an affiliate of Gazprom, the Russian state-dominated gas company, added a former Finnish prime minister to its payroll -- which already includes former German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder. If we hang together instead of allowing Gazprom to pick us all off separately, there is at least a chance that this mini-chill won't last another 40 years, too.

If I had (or will have) a daughter . . .

I'm convinced. If I had (or in the future, have) a daughter, I'd want her to take a lot of lessons in grace, humility, integrity and focus from Shawn Johnson.

Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports has covered the gymnastics competition during the Olympics and he has provided what would be, in a political race, fawning coverage of Johnson and her teammates. But from all indications, Johnson deserves every bit of good coverage she's received.

Today, after a trio of silvers for the Olympic favorite (team silver, all-around silver -- thanks to a couple of shaky landings, floor exercise silver -- thanks in no small part to a bad draw), Johnson made her last performance her best -- a gold medal win on the balance beam.

The Monk has appreciated gymnastics more as he's gained wisdom over time (aka, gotten older) -- the strength and agility that the gymnasts display (seriously, go watch the men's rings routines), the training they do and the tremendous toll it takes upon their bodies (there's a reason they're usually short). Like figure skating, there's a high prima donna factor among the women gymnasts. There can be some rather unpleasant rivalries and there are unquestionably shenanigans (*cough*underage Chinese competitors*cough*).

And The Monk watched the competitors during the team competition to see their reactions -- from the occasionally elated but restrained Chinese to the befuddled Alisha Sacramone and the anxious Nastia Liukin -- and there was Johnson at all times: smiling, applauding her competitors, drinking in the whole experience.

So when two competitors as good as Liukin and Johnson fight for gold and are so close personally that they room together at the Olympics and consider each other good friends, it's nice to see. And when the world champion seemingly gets docked for being more athletically built than artistically but says "[i]t did upset me a little, but I thought about it and I decided, I was at the Olympic Games, I was having the time of my life and I’m winning medals," then we have a fine exemplar of the sportsmanship and competitive spirit of the Olympics.

And when my daughter, if I have one, is old enought to understand, I'll Google "Shawn Johnson" and show my little girl how a champion acts.

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Wimp Factor

If Obama cannot even stand up to Senator Clinton and will allow her to force a full roll call of votes at the Democratic Convention, then what chance does he have against an adversary who hasn't already lost to him?

Mike Goodwin of the NY Daily News shares some wisdom (emphases added):

. . . the list of what Hillary wants and what Hillary gets [at the Convention] is unprecedented for somebody who lost the nomination. She gets a prime-time address where she will be introduced by daughter Chelsea. She gets her own team to produce a hagiographic video of her.

Hubby Bubba gets a prime-time speech on Wednesday night. And Hillary gets a platform plank that uses "glass ceiling" language right out of her speech to suggest she would be the nominee if not for sexism.

A few more big-ticket items and she'll be the co-nominee. Maybe that's the point.

It reminds me of a Cold War joke about how the Russians view a compromise. They come to the table and announce the rules: What's mine is mine, what's yours is negotiable.

How would President Obama respond?

I think we just found out.


Eric Heiden: forgotten Olympian?

Michael Phelps is incredible: 12 gold medals in the past two Olympics, four individual golds this year and all in world record time. And he's a great teammate -- in '04 he gave up a spot on a team medley relay to his friend and primary competition in the 100m butterfly, Ian Crocker, so that Crocker could participate in a relay with a chance for a gold medal (which Crocker and the US team won; as a racer on the team during qualifying, Phelps also received a gold). Phelps' success is also a tribute to the US program as a whole (the US has had seven medal recipients for its mens' relay wins -- one for each of the racers in the finals and three medals for team members who only raced in the preliminary heats). Phelps has four golds in relays, including the one that the US team won Monday night thanks primarily to Jason Lezak's fantastic anchor leg to overtake France's Alain Bernard (who won the individual 100m freestyle). In terms of all-time Olympians, Phelps is now easily #1 -- his 12 golds top the former record of nine, and he's likely to win in his last two events for a total of 14.

As NBC discusses Phelps, and continually compares him to 1972's seven-time gold winner Mark Spitz, there is no mention of Eric Heiden. That's wrong.

To date, Heiden has had the single greatest individual Olympics of all time. He has the record of five individual gold medals, which Phelps will try to match tonight. And Heiden won in a fashion far different from Spitz or Phelps.

Spitz and Phelps are sprinters and medium distance swimmers. The longest race Phelps won is the 400m IM. The five other races he or his team won were 100 or 200m. So Phelps can specialize in his pacing and training -- he doesn't have to stretch to win a 30-lap 1500m minimarathon.

In 1980, Heiden won his five golds in five different distances -- 500, 1000, 1500, 5000 and 10000m. Those lengths are effectively: a full-on sprint, a long sprint, a hybrid sprint/distance, a long distance, and a very long distance. They require different levels of speed burst, speed maintenance, and stamina. And in Heiden's case, lots of concentration considering his competitor in the 10000m (speed skaters race two at a time) quit the race so Heiden had to race the clock and pace himself without any reference point. Each win Heiden had was in Olympic record time. Speed skaters now don't perform in all five races because racing the 5000 and 10000 require different skills from the 500 and 1000.

So if and when Phelps gets the win that gives him his fifth gold medal, he will deserve every accolade he gets. And remember Eric Heiden and his incredible Olympics when he not only dominated his sport but did so at every race and every level.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

8/8/08 - An Inauspicious Day

Claudia Rosett has a brilliant summation of how the world changed on 08 August and we are NOT talking about China's fancy Olympics opening.

As historian and former State Department official Robert Kagan wrote in an incisive article in Monday’s Washington Post, “Historians will come to view August 8, 2008, as a turning point no less significant than Nov. 9, 1989, when the Berlin Wall fell” — though for far less promising reasons. Kagan notes, correctly, that the issue is not how, exactly, this war in Georgia began, but that the true mistake of Georgia’s President Mikhail Saakashvili, “was to be president of a small, mostly democratic and adamantly pro-Western nation on the border of Putin’s Russia.”

China’s Communist rulers, while basking in the glow of their Olympics bash, are surely checking the tea leaves for what this might presage about U.S. support for another U.S. ally: the democratic Republic of China on Taiwan. If the U.S. will not stand up to North Korea, will not stand up to Iran, will not stand up to Russia, then where will the U.S. stand up? What are the real rules of this New World Order?

Apart from Afghanistan and Iraq, the main rule right now seems to be that while anti-democratic bullies do the shooting, everyone else does a lot of talking and resolving. The UN Security Council meets, repeatedly. The European parliament ponders...Presumptive Democratic nominee Barack Obama calls for more diplomacy, aid, and not just a U.N. resolution but also a U.N. mediator — despite the massive evidence that U.N. mediators can’t even protect the dissident monks of Burma or the opposition in Zimbabwe, let alone a small country trying to fight off single-handed an invasion by the Russian army.
Oh really? While declaring this invasion “unacceptable,” the global community of the 21st century seems prepared to accept it in spades. While Russian guns close in on Tbilisi, even the basic diplomatic penalties are not yet fully on the table, for whatever they might be worth. By all means, let’s see the G-8 expel Russia, if the will can be found to do even that much.

Diplomacy and soft power have their place. The U.S. cannot and should not go to war with every nasty regime on the planet. But when too many thugs cross too many lines and get away with it, the rules of the entire global game start to shift. The diplomacy that has been billed by the administration as such a prudent and successful means these past few years to deal with threats from North Korea, from Syria, from Palestinian terrorists, from Iran, as well as ugly moves from Russia itself, has paved the way for this Russian invasion of Georgia. If, with the exceptions of Afghanistan and Iraq, America no longer dares to unholster its guns to face down real threats, expect to see a lot more shooting, and a lot more casualties on our side.

The only response that will effectively counter Russia's August offensive is an accelerated admission of the Ukraine and Georgia into NATO but does the West have the political will to do it?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Great Moments in In-breeding

Reason Magazine's Ron Bailey actually pulls his punches in this takedown of Prince Charles. HRH thinks genetically modified food is an environmental disaster. I'm thinking he hasn't realized that his pease porridge, broccoli, and corn that he's eaten all come from genetically modified crops.

Read the whole thing.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Pure a**-kissing

Now Obama wants to grant seniors a pass from all income taxes if they make less than 50K per year. This is ridiculous. There are plenty of seniors who earn less than $50K each year but are VERY comfortable because they have accrued assets throughout the course of their lifetimes, including pensions (companies and the civil service once provided those), personal investments that grew throughout the past 20 years of generally good stock markets, and physical assets like the real estate they own outright because the mortgage was repaid a decade ago.

So basically, Obama is trying to draw off senior voters from McCain for two reasons: (1) they're a strong constituency for McCain; (2) the juniors (18-29 year olds) who will bear the brunt of having to pay for all the benefits the old buggers are getting without paying for them vote in FAR lower percentages, and most of those callow fools are voting for the Prettyman anyway.

Obama -- there's something slimy about him.

The World War II Revisionism = Mendacity exemplified

Winston Groom, best known as the author of Forrest Gump, is also an historian who has written about World War II, World War I, the Civil War and the War of 1812. In this fine column, Groom rips the revisionist idiocy that Pat Buchanan created, Buchanan's odious book that postulates that Britain caused World War I and World War II, Churchill is one of the great villains of the 20th century, and Hitler was not all that bad.

Read it all.

The new Left thought police

Pure fascism.

Russia's power power

This is the reality that some Republicans have started to realize -- resources are power. And keeping them bottled up (oil on the continental shelf, oil shale in Colorado, natural gas) only allows unsavory states to act as neo-imperialists -- Iran in the Middle East, Russia in the Caucasus, Venezuela in South America, Saudi Arabia as the theoimperialist of Islamic thought. Some wisdom from Victor Hanson:

We talk endlessly about “soft” and “hard” power as if humanitarian jawboning, energized by economic incentives or sanctions, is the antithesis to mindless military power. In truth, there is soft power, hard power, and power-power — the latter being the enormous advantages held by energy rich, oil-exporting states. Take away oil and Saudi Arabia would be the world’s rogue state, with its medieval practice of gender apartheid. Take away oil and Ahmadinejad is analogous to a run-of-the-mill central African thug. Take away oil, and Chavez is one of Ronald Reagan’s proverbial tinhorn dictators.

Russia understands that Europe needs its natural gas, that the U.S. not only must be aware of its own oil dependency, but, more importantly, the ripples of its military on the fragility of world oil supplies, especially the effects upon China, Europe, India, and Japan. When one factors in Russian oil and gas reserves, a pipeline through Georgia, the oil dependency of potential critics of Putin, and the cash garnered by oil exports, then we understand once again that power-power is beginning to trump both its hard and soft alternatives.

This is true, but Hanson's solution to the Georgia crisis and the next Ukraine-Russia staredown -- have the EU, US, Russia and the former Soviet states that are now happily free all sit down and discuss how to maintain everyone's sovereignty -- has no real leverage against the Russians. Fight power-power with power-power -- that means supporting gas pipeline projects from the Caucasus and central Asia that do not touch Russian territory, thereby enabling Europe to obtain natural gas without having to dance with the Russian bear.

And the same logic applies to the US -- drill, drill, drill in the Arctic, the oceans, the oil shales of the Dakotas and Rockies, and ANWR. Want to break dependence on foreign oil? Drill for the vast reserves we have in our own country or in Canada. This is how to escape dependence upon and decrease the power of anti-Semitic misogynists, apocalyptic nutters and neo-commies.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Not getting it

I understand that the Twins are starting a lefty tonight. Really, I do. Dude throws with his left hand.

But it's not like Glen Perkins is Randy Johnson -- seriously, the guy gives up lots of hits (125 in 102.2 IP) and lefties hit .338 off him. Plus, the Yanks desperately need to win after honking three games in Anaheim, landing four games out in the wild card after the weekend (forget the division at this point) and generally sucking wind for the past two weeks (5-10 since their eight-game win streak after the Break).

And Johnny Damon is currently the leading hitter in the AL (.296 v. lefties, .333 v. righties, .322 overall).

So no, it makes no sense that he's on the pine tonight. Girardi is rotating his lineup too much at this point in the season.

Sick about Georgia

I am sick about Georgia. Not sick of it but sick that Russia has very effectively flexed what remains of its might and that the West is unwilling to give a pro-Western democracy anything more than moral support.

Sweden's Foreign Minister Carl Bildt compared Putin's move to Hitler and he's right. This matter is bad in that it shows the helplessness of the West without the active involvement of the United States.

Talk about a cushy job

It's amazing how little Chicago teachers have to work. As David Freddoso notes in a column describing Obama's educational policies and allies, the Chicago Teachers Union (a long-time Obama supporter that endorsed him for president in 2007) has put together a sweetheart deal for its members.

Elementary school in Chicago is open 174 days each year for just a 5.75 hour school day. That length of the school day includes lunch time.

Even if the teachers work seven hours each day on average (which would include grading papers, prepping lessons, etc., and not take out lunch time), they work 1218 hours each year. As an attorney, I bill more than that by August 1, and that's despite a vacation. And attorneys don't bill every hour they work.

Underpaid teachers? No: they earn $43K to start and will get 60K per year soon thereafter (with great job security) if they obtain a graduate degree. Instead, CTU has UnderWORKed teachers, and underTAUGHT kids. At least in the Windy City.

Georgia on the mind

Ultimately, Georgia was rash and unwise to send in its troops to try to subdue South Ossetia, although that action is understandable. The lessons learned from Russia's incursion into Georgia, and the reactions to it, should guide U.S.

First, the U.S. should stand firm and tell the Russians that any attempt to reabsorb Georgia into Russia would be treated as an attack on a NATO member because (1) earlier this year NATO voted to extend membership to Georgia, and (2) Georgia has worked with the multinational force in Afghanistan led by the U.S.

Second, the U.S. should now take full notice -- Putin wasn't blowing smoke for the past seven years. The Russians really do believe that Ukraine, the Baltic States, Georgia, et al. should be part of Russia and will pressure those countries to be quiescent client states. Another reason to fast-track NATO membership for Ukraine and Georgia (NATO protection already extends to the Baltics, thankfully).

More wisdom from James Robbins (see link in title):

The international community reacted with swift condemnation of Russia’s actions, particularly because the response was so decisive and reached beyond the immediate area in contention. (A lesson learned from Kosovo — if NATO could strike the Serbian capital of Belgrade, why shouldn’t Russia bomb the Tbilisi airport?) Also at stake is the Baku-Supsa oil pipeline that carries one percent of the world’s oil supply. By destroying it Russia would generate higher oil prices, gravely hurt the Georgian economy, maybe convince countries in the Caspian region to route their oil through Russia. But Moscow cannot be so blatant as to simply demolish the pipeline . . . Given the tension over world energy supplies such a move would be somewhat more serious than the matter of who controls a mountainous area in central Georgia.

international umbrage is wasted on Russia. They really don’t care what anyone thinks, and their veto power in the Security Council nullifies the possibility of meaningful U.N. action. Russia used force because they knew they could. No country would intervene militarily to stop them, especially the United States. And this is not because the U.S. is tied up in other conflicts; America would not send troops to that war zone even if we were at peace. There is not enough at stake to risk direct conflict with Russia. Meanwhile Georgia is pulling all 2,000 of its troops from Iraq, with the U.S. providing the rapid airlift, and one hopes we will do more to shore up our Coalition partners, such as give materiel or intelligence support.

Yet, short of fighting, there is a way the United States can take meaningful action. Some argue that the events of the past week demonstrate the unsuitability of Georgia for NATO membership, that the country’s leadership is too erratic and their neighborhood too dangerous. On the contrary, this is a perfect opportunity for the member nations of NATO to show their resolve. At the April 2008 NATO Summit in Bucharest, the leadership agreed that Georgia would become a member of the alliance. It is critical to honor this commitment, and in fact to put Georgia on the fast track for membership. The member states must demonstrate to Russia that Moscow does not hold veto power over which countries may enter NATO. And this would be a fitting show of gratitude for Georgia’s participation in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Furthermore, it would cause Russia to think very clearly about the implications of future aggressive moves against Georgia, particularly actions outside the areas already occupied by Russian “peacekeepers.”

Of course, Obama issued a weak statement and called for both parties to use restraint. McCain unequivocally told the Russians to turn around and get out of Georgia. Compare their responses here. More proof that Obama is just another Jimmy Carter.

N.B. -- I eliminated Chechnya from the list of outside countries that Russia believes should be re-absorbed. Chechnya is part of Russia, unlike Georgia, Ukraine, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, etc.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

NOW is the time

For the US to release crude from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and/or swap out light crude for heavy crude.


Benchmark crude is trading at $117.75 a barrel- it's lowest level in FOUR months having dropped precipitiously in the past month from $147 highs as sentiment as turned sharply.

Selling now while crude is wounded will CRUSH the market perhaps down to $100. That will be very good for the republic and will also help the crude market back down to a lower paradigm and put the market on notice that the government will be opportunistic.

Won't happen though because democratic governments react to panic and there is no panic at the moment. Also none of the decision-makers with the notable exception of Paulson have direct experience in the financial markets.

Who says liberals cannot be fascist

Talk about frightening overtones of 1984. When "voluntary" is used to describe a mandatory action and when the Left agitates for Congress to pass a mandatory national service bill, we're in the same ideological territory as Communist youth indoctrination groups that all countries behind the Iron Curtain had.

The people of the United States are the most charitable of any in the free world (per capita private donations in the US are orders of magnitude higher than those in any other developed nation) and are the most generous with their time despite the longer working hours that Americans experience (do YOU have a government-limited 35-hour workweek? neither do I). But the universal service mandate would take away the incentive to perform private service by making charity, community outreach or other "service" a mandatory act. There is no better way to ruin the generosity of spirit and the rewards a person receives from doing good deeds than by making such actions required by the government.

It's just unAmerican.

Are you a racist?

How Barack Obama has defined racism down.

Click the link and check out the 25 Reasons You Might Be a Racist from former U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Commissioner Peter Kirsanow.

N.B. -- Kirsanow's strength isn't math -- his list of numbers 1-25 is missing #19.

The Left's avatar . . .

. . . is shockingly incoherent without a TelePrompTer.

Check out this clip from YouTube of Sen. Obama at a Town Hall style event in Bristol, Virginia. He is completely unable to verbalize a cogent sentence.

If this were Sen. McCain, we'd hear nonstop ridiculing of his age.

If this were Pres. Bush, the clip would cut into five pieces and played all week on Letterman's Great Moments in Presidential Speeches feature that always shows a Bushism.


House of cards . . . falling down

The Monk was foursquare behind the Yankees' youth movement at the beginning of the season and for good reason -- it was long overdue. In 2002, the Yanks squandered a solid young prospect by trading Ted Lilly for Jeff Weaver. Lilly became a solid starter for Oakland and Toronto before going to the Cubs last year as a free agent, but more importantly he was a RedSawx killer.

Weaver went from good young pitcher on suck team (Tigers) to Ed Whitson II before the Yanks sent him to the Dodgers, where he continued to fail. That trade begat Kevin Brown, the grumpy and overpaid ace who declined from future Hall-of-Famer (check out his overall stats here, they're better than a lot of current HOF members -- at 211-144, his winning percentage [.594] puts Don Drysdale, Don Sutton and Fergie Jenkins [all sub-.560] to shame) to brittle financial albatross after signing a 7-year/105M deal with the Dodgers. That grumpy over-the-hill former ace was shelled when presented with the task of preventing the GREATEST PLAYOFF CHOKE EVER in Game 7 of the 2004 ALCS.

So going young seemed like a great idea. Anchored by young ace Chien-Ming Wang (46-18 career), the rotation of the future was taking shape: Wang, Hughes, Chamberlain, Kennedy and in a couple of years, Andrew Brackman.

The performances of Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy and Joba Chamberlain supported that view. Hughes was 3-0 in September '07 and pitched well in the playoffs; Kennedy had three starts and baffled MLB hitters (1-0, 1.89); Joba was a phenom. But Hughes and Kennedy regressed and suffered injuries this year. Hughes is working his way back from the DL, Kennedy is working his way back to the majors after sucking wind. Joba became a near-ace . . . and now he's in Pensacola talking to Dr. James Andrews about the shoulder pop he felt Monday night. And Wang is out for the year after 15 starts (8-2 record) with a foot injury.

All of which means the Yanks' season is in trouble. All of which means the Yanks have to change their plans for 2009 because the three young-'uns all will have innings limitations next year. All of which means the Yanks will likely try to make a splash in the free agent market (Sabathia, Burnett, Sheets) or wrangle a trade using some of the team's farm assets (Sanchez, Hacker, McAllister, Heredia, Betances). And still the Yanks hope that some top starters in the organization (Brackman, Sanchez, Horne, Wright, Hacker, McAllister) will be ready to contribute in the next two years. Hoo boy.

Not good.

Friday, August 01, 2008


Had a conversation this week with a gent who is pretty well-informed on who might be McCain's VP. Here's his thoughts:

"It's going to depend on the polls. If it's close it's going to be Pawlenty. If not it could be Romney or maybe Jindal."

I think Pawlenty would be an awful choice. Nothing against the Senator but he's not well known, not that exciting and may not be able to deliver his home state. For McCain to win he either needs Obama to either stumble badly or run a near-perfect campaign. Obama has all the sexiness and buzz and McCain desperately needs some pizzazz and that's not Pawlenty. Pawlenty might be the pick if he was comfortably ahead.

Jindal is the great hope of the Republican Party but it's still early in his career. (though not that early if you compare him with Obama!) He will bring an element of excitement with his candidacy. Have heard great things about him and that he has done what he has done where he has done it is significant but need to know him better.

"Matinee Mitt" is a fascinating case. He's a champion fundraiser, sharp as a tack, excellent on economic issues, dogged as heck and can stay on his message which for McCain needs to be "Obama: Tastes Great, But You'll Be Sorry in the Morning". The McCain team should run a Rovian/Mehlman calculus to see if Romney can deliver Michigan which W lost by 3.4% in 2004 and Obama currently holds a 4.3% lead. If there's a good chance that he can that's 17 electoral votes and can really change the dynamic of the race, he's got to be the one.

I think the race could be very close and it will come down to the states below:

States where Republican margin in Presidential election 2004 was within 5%:

(electoral votes in bold)
Florida +5.0% 27
Colorado +4.7
Nevada +2.6 5
Ohio +2.1 20
New Mexico +0.8 5
Iowa +0.6
Wisconsin -0.3 10
New Hampshire -1.4 4
Pennsylvania -2.5 21
Michigan -3.4 17
Minnesota -3.5 9
Oregon -4.2%

If Michigan could be had it would be a great boon.

Similarly the right pick for Obama would be Senator Jim Webb of Virginia. Virginia has been trending Democratic though the 2004 gap was 8.2% in favor of W. Webb balances Obama naked underbelly in foreign policy and might put Old Dominion into play. If McCain has to fight for Virginia it will be very, very tough.

The One the Yanks let get away

Easy to say in retrospect but not taking Manny Ramirez off waivers in August 2004 came greatly to grief.

Since 2005 Manny has 120HR / 402RBI / .301 BA / .560 SLG. He's not A-Rod who is 160/472/.311/.595.

But in the postseason since 2004 Manny has hit .344 with 24HR and 64RBI. A-Rod, in comparison, hit .159 with 4HR and 9RBI. To be honest the Yanks may not have made the postseason 2004-07 without A-Rod's production.

Most importantly there likely would not have been any World Series wins in Beantown and probably an additional one for the Yanks in 2004.