ARC's 1st Law: As a "progressive" online discussion grows longer, the probability of a nefarious reference to Karl Rove approaches one

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Obama-gasm

Ezra Klein has an Obama-gasm over at the American Prospect:

I've been blessed to hear many great orations. I was in the audience when Howard Dean gave his famous address challenging the Democratic Party to rediscover courage and return to principle. I have heard Bill Clinton speak of a place called Hope, and listened to John Edwards bravely channel the populism that American politics so often suppresses. Some of those politicians mirrored my beliefs better than Obama does. Some of their speeches were more declarative and immediate in their passion. But none achieve quite what Obama, at his best, creates.

Obama's finest speeches do not excite. They do not inform. They don't even really inspire. They elevate. They enmesh you in a grander moment, as if history has stopped flowing passively by, and, just for an instant, contracted around you, made you aware of its presence, and your role in it. He is not the Word made flesh, but the triumph of word over flesh, over color, over despair. The other great leaders I've heard guide us towards a better politics, but Obama is, at his best, able to call us back to our highest selves, to the place where America exists as a glittering ideal, and where we, its honored inhabitants, seem capable of achieving it, and thus of sharing in its meaning and transcendence.
[...]

Now, I will concede that Obama is charismatic. Brian has predicted that if Obama wins the nomination, the Clinton machine will seek to undermine his campaign at every step, since they'd want to keep open the possibility of a 2012 run.

I'm concerned and think that my prediction that Hillary!TM would win the nomination (a prediction made just a few days ago) may be completely off. I've put too much emphasis on the Clinton machine, the ground game, etc, forgetting the stories about how the Clintons to a large degree simply polished off their 92/96 organization for this run. In addition, Hillary's campaign appearances that I've witnessed on C-SPAN have been absolutely terrible and I've remarked to my fellow conspirators that she's a horrible candidate. Add to this the top-down, command-and-control campaign style that Hillary!TM is using (foreshadowing how she'd run the federal government), and it's no wonder that Obama is positioned to take it all.

If Obama-gasms continue to be the normal type of coverage that Obama receives, I think it will become impossible for Hillary!TM to overcome his momentum. At this point, Obama is inside Hillary's OODA-loop and everything she does seems to be a few days too late or a totally inappropriate.

For those interested, here's a blast from the past (2005), where Ezra shows his lack of understanding of basic finance, math, reality, etc regarding Social Security.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Friday, January 04, 2008

Krugman Watch - Paul agrees with Bush 6 years later

A stunningly stupid op-ed by Paul Krugman, even by his standards:

January 4, 2008
Op-Ed Columnist
Dealing With the Dragon
By PAUL KRUGMAN

On both Wednesday and Thursday, the price of oil briefly hit $100 a barrel. The new record made headlines, as well it should have. But what does it mean, aside from the obvious point that the economy is under extra pressure?

Well, one thing it means is that we’re having the wrong discussion about foreign policy.

Almost all the foreign policy talk in this presidential campaign has been motivated, one way or another, by 9/11 and the war in Iraq. Yet it’s a very good bet that the biggest foreign policy issues for the next president will involve the Far East rather than the Middle East. In particular, the crucial questions are likely to involve the consequences of China’s economic growth.

Turn to any of several major concerns now facing America, and in each case it’s startling how large a role China plays.

Start with the soaring price of oil. Unlike the oil crises that followed the Yom Kippur War and the overthrow of the shah of Iran, this crisis wasn’t caused by events in the Middle East that disrupted world oil supply. Instead, it had its roots in Asia.

It’s true that the global supply of oil has been growing sluggishly, mainly because the world is, bit by bit, running out of the stuff: big oil discoveries have become rare, and when oil is found, it’s harder to get at. But the reason oil supply hasn’t been able to keep up with demand is surging oil consumption in newly industrializing economies — above all, in China.
Global supply of oil has been growing, yet we're running out of the stuff? I can understand that thing increasing demand is taking a larger portion of the increasing growth in the supply, but you can't say that that means we're running out of the stuff while making that argument...
Even now, China accounts for about only 9 percent of the world’s demand for oil. But because China’s oil demand has been rising along with its economy, in recent years China has been responsible for about a third of the growth in world oil consumption.

As a result, oil at $100 a barrel is, in large part, a made-in-China phenomenon.

Speaking of made in China, that brings us to a second issue. There’s growing concern in this country about the effects of globalization on wages, largely because imports of manufactured goods from low-wage countries have surged, doubling as a share of G.D.P. since 1993. And more than half of that rise reflects the explosive growth of U.S. industrial imports from China, which went from less than 0.5 percent of G.D.P. in 1993 to more than 2 percent in 2006.

Imports from China only account for 2% of our GDP? So, 2% of 14 trillion = $280 billion. Man, we should increase that... Although, I suppose Krugman would argue that we must - must - maintain our strategic economic advantage at producing DVD players.

And aren't imports subtracted from GDP calculations, by definition?

Given that our total annual imports are expected to be 2.3 trillion, 280 billion coming in from China really doesn't seem like much. And, given the fact that our annual exports are expected to be 1.7 trillion, what is Krugman's point again? (Data is from forecasts.org)

And the federal budget has grown by 1% (as a percentage of GDP) from 2001 to 2008 (from 1.9 trillion to 2.9 trillion) all thanks to that ueber-conservative George W. Bush.
Last, but most important, is the issue of climate change, which will eventually be recognized as the most crucial problem facing America and the world — maybe not today, and maybe not tomorrow, but soon, and for the rest of our lives.

Why is climate change a China issue? Well, China is already, by some estimates, the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases. And as with oil demand, China plays a disproportionate role in emissions growth. In fact, between 2000 and 2005 China accounted for more than half the increase in the world’s emissions of carbon dioxide.
Regular readers of this blog will know that we've pointed this out several times over the years...

but wait, here's the kicker:
What this means is that any attempt to mitigate global warming will be woefully inadequate unless it includes China.

Indeed, back in 2001, when he reneged on his campaign promise to limit greenhouse gas emissions, President Bush cited the fact that the Kyoto treaty didn’t include China and India as an excuse for doing nothing. But the real problem is how to make China part of the solution.
So, Bush was correct in 2001 and has been excoriated for taking the position that China must be included in any effort to curb greenhouse gases.

Bush was prophetic in pushing for China to be involved in any Kyoto-style agreement, recognizing that any limitation on our own economic growth would have zero impact if China continued to out pace us with their environmental devastation.

So what does all this tell us about the presidential race?

On the Republican side, foreign policy talk is all bluster and braggadocio. To listen to the G.O.P. candidates, you’d think it was still February 2003, when the national discourse was dominated by people who thought that American military might was sufficient to shock and awe the rest of the world into doing our bidding.
[...]

To listen to the Democratic side, you'd think that Iraq was still an impossible quagmire that we had already lost.

Krugman continues on... it's sad to watch a once clear-headed economist go off the deep end.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Iowa - Something Profound Happened Last Night

We here in California are dealing with a storm of hurricane proportions. I am trying to write this between periodic power outages. I am not sure if that is contributing to my thoughts and mood, but I can not help but think something profound happened in Iowa last night.

The first thing that stands out for me is that two men who have actual personalities won. After years of plastic banana politicos, two people with some depth and more than a little reality about them have emerged into the political limelight. Huckabee and Obama share this positive characteristic.

I share none of Obama's political views. I have serious problems with many of Huckabee's views. But by golly, something is going on here.

This is not like some fluke win by a whacko that occasionally happens in Iowa. I have a feeling in my 60 year old gut that we are about to see some very real changes in both parties... for better or for worse. It as though Teddy Roosevelt and John Kennedy have emerged in both parties.

I could be just as wrong as can be, but I sense an earthquake in American politics.

I'll quit for now before the juice fails me again.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC:MontereyJohn

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Predictions and other assorted things.

Phoo Phoo, is this thing on? Test-1-2-3. Test 1-2-3.

Ok sports fans its been a while since I've done anything but comment, but here goes. Bear with me if I forget where some of the buttons are.

As we all know the new year doesn't really start until the first contests of the Presidential race, so I can just get my predictions for 2008 in under the wire.


Predictions

Iowa - I predicted last year, that Barack Obama would peak in 2007 in his presidential run. To be honest, I was expecting sometime around October/November timeframe, as the electorate looked at the candidate in more detail, and realized that the only reason they liked him, was simply, in a similar vein to Greg Brady of the Brady Bunch as "Johnny Bravo" he "fit the suit". Tonight we should know if I was right in my prediction from last year, but I'm going to go out on a limb and project the following order for the democrats in the caucus this year: Hillary (!TM) Clinton, John Edwards, and finally Barack Obama. The simple reason for my analysis is based on the fact that Obama's support is with outsiders to the Democratic party - who have likely never been to a caucus before, and will likely simply not show up. The same problem that Howard Dean had 4 years ago - his young, independent "take back the party" supporters aren't tied enough into the party to sway the obscure and arcane caucus process. Edwards has some momentum, which gives him the number 2 spot. If Hillary does indeed win Iowa as I have predicted, then its likely that she will owe half of Iowa (or at least the half of the 5% of the eligible voters that show up to a caucus) overnights in the Lincoln bedroom. But that's no small price to pay for the Clintons.

As to the Republicans. Iowa is all about one thing. Turnout. Who leaves the house for the evening, and who stays at home. I think Thompson is going to do very well, as I think he has the strongest momentum. To tie in with that I think Huckabee has turned off a lot of voters with his "pretend" non-attacks against Romney. Which will cause his supporters to drop. So my prediction: Romney, Thompson, Huckabee, McCain. (oh and Ron Paul finishes better than anybody expects, all for naught).

If I'm right it will be simply due to dumb luck as this process is so impossible to poll or take the pulse of we won't know until we know.

I will say, that the talk about Iowa being a "must win" for Clinton is all just hogwash. Clinton will be in this until they pry her cold dead hands from a microphone. She's in it till Super Tuesday at least, and even it meant a brokered convention she'll be in race for the nomination. The phrase "for the good of the party" means nothing to the Clintons as has been demonstrated before.

Which brings me to the next topic for a prediction, who ultimately gets the nomination?

Presidential Nomination - Democrats
Hillary Clinton
- she'll go 'til the going's gone. They'll have to shoot her to keep her from mucking things up if she doesn't win fair and square. And if she doesn't get the nomination, the election's in the bag for the Republican's as the Clintons will sabotage their own party for a shot at 2012.

Presidential Nomination - Republicans
I echo the Saint's good endorsement from before, along with Beldar at his Blog in the middle of December. I'm for Thompson. I think he'd be the best sort of person in the job. I also think he would run a very effective "new media" campaign. One that wouldn't have been possible with another candidate, or in another time previous to this election season. A perfect storm of a known personable candidate, combined with the new medium of viral marketing could make this a very interesting election season.

Alas, I don't think he will get it. Mitt Romney has the organization behind him, and more importantly, all the money he could ever need to win the nomination. I'm ok with that. If Mitt wins I will support him fully. I think we could do much worse, however I think we could do much worse than any of the current candidates in the Republican field. We have a very good republican field this year. Better than any Republican field since Reagan. Any of the current candidates (with the exception of Ron Paul) would be a fine President.

Oops, forgot the
New Hampshire Primaries
Who cares? Ok, fine, I'' predict: Clinton/Romney. Happy?


Presidential Victor
Mitt Romney
- I'll cover my bets, and say that if Hillary is nominated, the Republicans (any candidate) will win. If she isn't nominated, the Republican's (any candidate) will still likely win, assuming that Hillary is still concious and not in some coma or something.

Other Predictions (in no particular order):

1. Afghanistan will be subject of a well publicized "surge" by the Pentagon. Politically this will allow the Republicans to point out how the Dem's were against the surge. Militarily it will help quash a current Al-Qaeda resurgence. It will also put pressure on Pakistan and Iran.

2. Al-Qaeda will pull off at least 2 successful attacks. Both relatively small (I pray). At least one in the United States.

3. Indictments of CIA personnel will be handed down in the tape destruction case. No administration (White House or otherwise) will be involved. This will cause the lefty moonbats to cry cover-up.

4. Identity theft will become a major storyline in the mainstream press. Someone in the marketplace will come up with a identity management solution that is open to all vendors and it will not be Microsoft (having been 'burned' by the Microsoft Passport system previously). Identity management for financial transactions will require some sort of hardware token, which will become cheap. (Ok, maybe thats all too much to put out there in just one year. How about: Online Identity Management will look to be regulated by the federal government.)

5. The next wave of social networking will be social networking aggregators, that will copy all your updates from your blogs to all the social networking sites (MySpace, Facebook, etc) which for everyone over 30 will be a "Who? What?" sort of moment.

6. The FAA funding reauthorization bil will pass, but will not contain any user fee requirement.

7. Dayjet will still be in business by 2009.

8. Al Gore will get either a) a regular slot on a tv show or b) a multiple hour special on a primetime network.

9. The S&P 500 will close up 100 points from its Jan 1 close or around 7%.

10. There will not, technically, be a recession in 2008, as a recession requires 2 successive quarters of negative GDP growth. The media however, will continue to say the US economy in recession.

11. There will be at least one mass shooting event (similar to VA Tech, etc) which will be stopped by civilians with concealed carry permits.

12. The Vice Presidential nominee of both parties will not be of the current slate of candidates.

13. A major computer intrusion/attack will target a specific US company and result in the theft of at least 10 million dollars.


Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: Brian

Riding the Thompson Surge

Go Fred Go! The Thompson Surge predicted here.

Jay Tea at Wizbang joins the Surge for Fred:

J. T. For F. T.
Posted by Jay Tea
Published: Jan 3, 08 11:00 AM

OK, tonight the actual election for the next president of the United States begins. And though I technically don't HAVE to make a commitment until next Tuesday, when we in New Hampshire hold our primary, I'm going to go out on a limb just hours before the Iowa Caucuses and announce who I'm supporting for president -- and, more importantly, why.

According to my heart, I should cast my vote for Mitt Romney. He is the candidate whose positions most closely resemble my own. While he is trying to cast himself as a conservative (much like I tend to be cast as such), he's far more muddled, middle-of-the-road, and pragmatic than that. I don't see him as having an overarching ideology, but rather a set of core principles that he weighs each issue upon and decides each on their own merits. He also has a central competency, a gift for management, that tends to get things accomplished no matter the level of opposition. He will take whatever situation he is given and work with it to achieve his goals, often in a way that either sweeps his opposition along with him or by presenting such strength that they dare not openly cross him. I saw it several times in Massachusetts, when the legislature was overwhelmingly against him -- some of his greatest accomplishments were in the latter half of his single term, after the Democrats had taken enough seats in the House and Senate to override his vetoes on any strictly partisan vote. Romney would probably be the best equipped to deal with a Congress run by Democrats.

According to my head, I should cast my vote for Rudy Giuliani. Mr. Mayor has already shown that he can govern a city larger than most states, and practically single-handedly slew the myth that New York City was an invincible, eternal Democratic stronghold. He has repeatedly demonstrated his personal strength and courage, taking on the Mafia as a prosecutor, governing a city most considered unmanageable, taking charge after 9/11, and beating cancer. He's also no idealogue, with a healthy dose of political moderation that appeals to the centrist in me. And he's the most prominent candidate on a national basis, meaning that he's probably best equipped to win a national campaign.

But I'm going to set aside my head and heart and listen to my humerus. My strong left arm (I'm predominantly left-handed) -- in particular my funnybone -- says there's another candidate out there more deserving of my support. A candidate who speaks plainly, and says what he believes in simple, unvarnished truth. And one who shows that he's not afraid to laugh at situations that bear laughing -- especially his detractors and himself.

I've often said that one of the most important aspects of being a successful president is a healthy sense of humor. A sense of humor makes a candidate more likable, more human, and more likely to win the support and affection of the American people.

It's expressed many ways -- "which candidate would you most like to have a beer with?" is one frequent test. However it's said, though, it boils down to the same thing -- which is the more sociable man (or, some day, woman). Which would you rather spend some "down time" with.

It's been that way for as long as I can remember, and for decades before I was born. In each and every election, the candidate who was more likable won. John Kerry is a phony and a boor. Al Gore is a stiff. Bob Dole let himself be cast as the cranky old man. George H. W. Bush was no match for Bill Clinton's easy charm. On the other hand, Bush was the easy choice over droning wonk Mike Dukakis. Reagan was... well, Reagan, and he was up against Walter Mondale and Jimmy Carter. Likewise, grinning Jimmy went up against clumsy Gerry Ford, the heir of Watergate. Richard Nixon was an aberration, but so many other factors combined to push the "likability" factor aside in 1972 and 1968. Lyndon Johnson rode to re-election on the body of John Kennedy, one of the most personable men to ever hold the office. Eisenhower was everyone's grandfather. Truman was a feisty common man, and FDR was a lovable aristocrat with a winning smile.

So I'm going to cast my vote on Tuesday, January 8 for Fred Thompson. He seems to have the best sense of proportion for the job, as well as a common-sense pragmatism on most issues that means he'll most often come to a position that I can live with -- or at least respect.

I'm under no illusions. Fred's not doing well in the polls, but he doesn't seem to care much about them, and neither do I. In the end, they don't amount to a fart in a hurricane; it's the actual results that matter. And rumor has it that if he doesn't do well in Iowa, he'll bow out.

I hope he does well in Iowa, and I might end up voting for him next week even if he does withdraw before then.

The Fred Thompson endorsements from the blogosphere are rolling in now! Was it Rovian Conspiracy's endorsement that precipitated this?

Who can say?

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

84% Are Right

Excellent OpEd by Dan Henninger in today's WSJ:

[...]
On New Year's Eve, Gallup's poll delivered unto us the good news that 84% of Americans say they are satisfied with how things are going for them personally. What Woody Allen might say about that phenomenal datum of good cheer one can only guess. One then has to account for the darker data Gallup released two weeks earlier: Some 70% of those responding believe the nation is headed in the wrong direction.

Explanations for this paradox would fill screen after screen of comments on Internet blogs, written no doubt by the 16% who can never be satisfied with "how things are going." Sample: It's the 46 million uninsured, stupid!

[...]

Let me describe a pre-election moment of perspective this way: Later today some people who will start their evening with Iowa's caucus by watching angry Lou Dobbs -- convincing themselves, again, that they and this country are getting shafted, and coming to this conclusion while watching a $700, 32-inch Samsung flat-panel, high-definition TV with Lou's sad song flowing through Monster digital coax cables to five Onkyo HT-SR800 home theater speakers.

If the possibility of human progress strikes you as so much background noise to the higher calling of political street-fighting, turn immediately to today's installment of Mitt versus Mike. Don't get me wrong, it is great theater. The perfect last act to a year spent living out of suitcases in Iowa was the irrepressible Elizabeth Edwards's verbal poke Monday to the eye of Michelle Obama. The Democratic candidates are kind of boring compared to their spouses.

None of this is to suggest that what is at stake in the election doesn't matter, or that those deeply invested in it are misallocating life's limited days. It matters.

It is to suggest that the never-off eye of modern political media leaves the impression that nothing good is possible. If progress happens, as with the surge in Iraq or a new therapy for cancer, it must be diminished by "analysis," listing four things that could "go wrong." As a way to absorb the way the world works, this is depressing. Good things happen. Get over it.

The Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics annually publishes data on the well-being of the nation's children, thought by many to be the point of all this effort.

In 1980, deaths per 100,000 U.S. children aged 5 to 14 was 30.6; by 2004, that number fell to 16.8. Some 25 years ago, daily cigarette smoking among 12th graders was about 21%; in 2006 it was about 12% for both males and females. Childhood immunizations are rising steadily.

In August, the Centers for Disease Control noted that the death rate in 2004 fell by 3.8% in a year, "a record low historical figure." Life expectancy for men and women at birth in 1940 was 63 years; it is now nearly 78 years. We, or someone, must be doing something right.

Many people think that the war in Iraq was a mistake. It indeed contributes to the belief that the U.S. is on the wrong track. This will be argued more deeply when just two candidates are running, and millions of voters will weight Iraq heavily in their November choice. So be it.

That said, the remarkable 12-month progress of the surge strategy demonstrated it is not beyond the ability of "the system" to respond to seemingly overwhelming problems. Credit is due to Gen. David Petraeus certainly, but an infrastructure of U.S. military brains went into designing the Army's Counterinsurgency Manual, published in 2006. Its bibliography includes many studies published since 2003. As such it represents the U.S. military's "best practices" on fighting a modern enemy like al Qaeda, and the surge's success showed we are not helpless before this latest form of nihilism. This to some may be bitter progress, but it is so.

One needs reminding, amid a presidential election as wide open as this, that however other nations wrestle with their wrong directions, we use the system that the Founding Fathers left for us. What's worth remembering is that they knew politics piles up retarding levels of animosity, and so created a political system that would let us both vent spleen and move forward. Our progress, though, would nearly always be slow and by increments. Sometimes, it's hard to notice.

It will continue to be the case here that people are going to kvetch over corners of the culture -- over immigration and national identity, or over relative wage levels, even as the rest of the world's poor finally start to join the middle class through globalizing trade channels (suppress those trade flows, as Congress is threatening, and you'll discover the real meaning of wrong direction). And not least there will be -- and should be -- concern over whether the progress I've described has the time or space in its good life for a sturdy spiritual soul.

The New Year demands an admission that some good has been achieved, not by the wave of a politician's magic wand but through many daily hands at work in the nation.
[...]

Henninger could've added to the flat screen tv the iPod nanos, High Def satellite service, the interweb access with streaming videos of idiots on YouTube, etc.

One question that I would pose to anyone who's in a funk about the value of the dollar or the current economy - If you had $500, in which year would you rather spend it now or in 1999? While inflation is certainly a fear, the overall value of the money in terms of the quality of the products you can buy with that same money is markedly better.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Now they're complaining about the Nanny State?

This story over at Breitbart is just laughable, since the final straw that makes the Europeans complain about the nanny state is the newly implemented restrictions on smoking and unhealthy food:

Europeans chafe under New Year 'nanny state' laws
Jan 3 12:57 AM US/Eastern

Europe started 2008 with a raft of new laws against smoking, air pollution and even junk food adverts, but some grumbled that the New Year's resolutions from the "nanny state" cramped their style.

Germany, France and Portugal joined many of their neighbours with anti-smoking bans in bars, restaurants and cafes from January 1, lifting the grey haze that was part of their romantic atmosphere for more than a century.

In car-crazy Germany, drivers in major cities including the capital Berlin faced restrictions barring smog-producing vehicles from their centres while the northern Italian city of Milan imposed tolls on the heaviest polluters.

And Britain cracked down on television commercials for food and drink products heavy in fat, salt and sugar that target children under the age of 16 in a bid to curb obesity.

While many accepted the new rules as reasonable measures in the name of public health, some bristled at what they called the state's overreach and the creeping end of the European way of life.

"I will not let anyone stop me from smoking at my own business," Ali, owner of the Westend Pinte bar in Berlin, told Germany's mass-market Bild newspaper.

"I've been smoking 40 cigarettes a day since I was 12 -- I can't quit now."

Anne Cicek, manager of the Bier Bar in east Berlin, told the daily Berliner Zeitung that she would defy the rules: "We are not little children who need to be told what we cannot do."
Except when it comes to saving for retirement, determining when and how to purchase healthcare, etc, etc
The conservative newspaper Die Welt noted that 19th century revolutionaries in Berlin had waved the banner for, among other civil liberties, the right to smoke wherever they pleased.

"The freedom to smoke in public was one of the few lasting achievements of 1848. That is over now," it lamented. "Of course neither the West nor democracy will founder with the smoking ban. But will anything really be gained for people's well-being or their health?"

After years of fierce resistance by the restaurant lobby, the legislation passed in Germany is piecemeal: smoking bans will be rolled out state by state until July and most allow establishments to maintain separate smoking sections.

Portugal implemented similar rules.

France in effect sent its more than 13 million smokers out into the cold on New Year's Day as few bars and restaurants took on the large renovation and equipment costs to construct separate smoking rooms.

Despite opinion polls showing broad support for the ban, some commentators saw a threat to France's hallowed "liberte".

Writing in the left-wing Liberation newspaper, sociologist Henri Pierre Jeudy suggested the ban marked "the end of an era" for France -- and a danger for personal freedoms.

"Public health costs are being used to justify an ever more coercive control over our private lives," he said, with France's yen for smoky cafes now cast as "an unhealthy mistake".
control over your private life is what socialists are known for, my friend...
But Jeudy also warned that "alcohol and tobacco have traditionally been used as weapons against stress."

"Their use, and sometimes abuse, has probably prevented many a collective revolt. Will banning them spark new rebellions?"

In a column in the influential Le Monde, doctor Micheline Benatar challenged the ban as the first step toward a "totalitarian society".

"'Life kills,', 'Drinking kills,' 'Eating badly kills' too," she wrote.

"How long will the law continue to allow menus 'a la carte' in restaurants and cafes? When will it start to impose low-fat menus -- for our own good... to guarantee stable blood pressure, low blood sugar and cholesterol?"

"True, passive smoking is a public health concern. But is it not worse to start a car engine than to light up a cigarette?"
[...]
What I find laughable about this is the fact that the average European has already ceded control over much of their life to the state as it is. From the cradle to the grave, the ever-present hand of the state is controlling their lives and providing for them.

In addition to this, I find it absolutely amazing that the citizens who "enjoy" government-run medicine are complaining about the state trying to enforce healthier lifestyles. If the government is paying for health care, it's in the state's interest to legislate healthier lifestyles to reduce costs.

We find a similar phenomenon in the US, with employers giving incentives to employees for healthy lifestyle habits and/or pre-employment screening to determine which candidates might consumer more health care services. This is a problem related to the fact that we have an employer sponsored health insurance system.

And if you're a libertarian or liberal who thinks that it's the nasty Republicans that want to interfere with your daily life, just wait until the Dems get socialized medicine and start legislating behavior. They will be justified in doing so, because you've just made your health the purview of the federal government.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Obama Peaked?

Brian's bold prediction for 2007 was that Obama would have peaked and begin his descent from glory. Now, given that there were no actual votes casted in 2007, it would be difficult to judge when and where he peaked.

Nevertheless, it seems that the Leftist bloggers are starting to turn on Obama, as reported at the Politico:

The Krugman wing vs. Obama

The partisan Democratic bloggers have always been suspicious of Obama for the same reasons as Paul Krugman: his resistance to partisan confrontation, and his willingness to go after his rivals from the right on domestic policy.

His pokes at labor-backed 527s, his suggestion that trial lawyer is a dirty word, and his apparent shots at Al Gore and John Kerry have pushed a bunch of bloggers off the fence in the last two days, and — though it's not going to move a whole lot of caucus-goers — it's worth noticing.

Among others, Kos unendorsed backed away from him, and Atrios, Jane Hamsher, Crooks & Liars, TalkLeft, and Ezra Klein pile on.

Two themes to watch: Some of the bloggers are arguing that a win in Iowa that's based on independent and/or GOP support would in some way be less valid; though I suspect that the storyline that he's bringing new people in and appealing to the center will actually be a pretty powerful case outside the most partisan circles.

Also, that as Ezra Klein writes, Obama represents the "old politics of centrist caution and status quo bias."

That's what used to be called, ironically, Clintonism.

Of course, support from the Moonbat bloggers (which includes Professor Krugman) does not exactly result in electoral success.

If anything, Obama may prevail in Iowa simply because the unhinged are backing away from him.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

The Thompson Surge

Could it be that Thompson's YouTube video (and my prominent endorsement) is having the desired effect in Iowa?

I suppose that we'll know tomorrow night! From The Corner:

Late-Breaking Surge for Thompson [Peter Robinson]

The latest news from Iowa? According to Zogby’s latest—and I quote: “Sen. Fred Thompson…has seen a late-breaking surge.” (Rich notes the same poll below.)

What’s going on here? My guess is that there are whole lot of Iowa Republicans who have about the same attitude that David Limbaugh displayed in his column yesterday:
Fred is the only [candidate] I don't have major reservations about….I find his lack of "fire in the belly" refreshing. He strikes me as one of the few presidential candidates since Ronald Reagan whose primary motivation is not personal aggrandizement but rather serving and leading the nation in very troubled and dangerous times. I see him as almost being drafted into this project, and his refusal to drool publicly over the prospect of becoming the most powerful man in the world is positively delightful.

That said, he needs to make a more convincing case to the voters, which will require a greater display of enthusiasm that he views these as both perilous and promising times and that he is the best man, overall, to navigate the ship of state through these times.

So, Fred, please, as distasteful as it may be to you, it's time to step up and prove you want it.
Iowa Republicans, in other words, have wanted Thompson to do them the courtesy of actually campaigning—and now they’re beginning to realize that he has. First Thompsons conducted a two-week bus tour of Iowa at which he campaigned in more than 50 towns and cities. Then he taped a 17-minute video in which he makes his case more calmly, deliberately, and in with greater respect for the issues than has any of his opponents. And? For a lot of Iowa Republicans, that’s all they needed.

The Thompson campaign may be shaping up as something like the precise reverse of the Clinton campaign. Presenting herself as the candidate of inevitability, if Hillary starts to slip in the polls she could suffer a total collapse. Fred is the candidate who can’t get elected—solid, likeable, and better on the issues than anybody else, but, well, a man for whom it just isn’t going to happen. But as modest as it so far remains, his sudden rise in the polls—this “late-breaking surge,” to quote Zogby again—could persuade whole slews of Republicans that Fred might just pull it off after all—and lead to a breakout.

From an unexpectedly strong third place in Iowa…to first place in South Carolina?

(If you have yet to see this message to the people of Iowa, by the way, take a look. YouTube is reporting more than 135,000 hits.)
When you combine this with Rush's jabs at Huckabee for not being a conservative, you have to wonder if some of Huck's supporters are not taking a second look at Thompson and liking what they see. From the Politico:
Rush: Huck 'not a conservative'

Rush Limbaugh devoted a large portion of his first show since the holidays to criticizing Mike Huckabee's candidacy and offering a disapproving bottom-line assessment of the former governor.

"Ladies and gentlemen, Gov. Huckabee, mighty fine man and is a great Christian, is not a conservative, he’s just not," Limbaugh said. "If you look at his record as governor, he’s got some conservative tendencies on things but he’s certainly not the most conservative of the candidates running on the Republican side."

Limbaugh's comments come after a long-distance back-and-forth between the candidate and influential talk show host before Christmas.

Despite his criticism, Limbaugh said he didn't want to use the entire program to bash Huckabee.

"I’m going to keep some of the powder dry here because I don’t want to be accused of piling on," Limbaugh said, "but if people are going to ask me questions I’m not going to shirk from them and try to hem-haw around."

Indeed, callers were interested in discussing Huckabee, and the talker spent most of the first half of his program discussing his candidacy in the context of the GOP race.

While calling Huckabee's now-famous Des Moines presser Monday "Clintonesque," Limabugh said he would not "join the chorus" of those saying it would damage the Republican's chances.

"It’s quite possible people will see Huckabee's press conference as an attempt to be honorable, that the drive-bys [in the mainstream media] have now sabotaged him on," Limbaugh observed.

"And they can easily conclude, 'Look, he didn’t air the ad, you guys did.' The people that are looking at Huckabee in a supportive way are not analyzing Huckabee, this is what you have to understand. They are not picking apart his policy, they’re accepting him for what he is based on his identity politics. So I don’t think they’re going to take it to the nth degree the way the drive-by pundits are."

Limbaugh, who has previously offered warm words for Fred Thompson, appeared to be dissatisfied with at least three of the top GOP candidates.
[...]
If you'll recall, Rush was assured in 2000 that George W. was a conservative, despite all of the "compassionate" stuff... and Rush didn't like the fact that W. was putting a modifier in front of conservative (giving credence to the MSM/Liberal frame that being a conservative and a friend of free markets meant that you're not compassionate).

Huckabee's positions on many issues are the worst aspects of W's presidency - namely that the government is "here to help." Whether Huck's populism is purely a political ploy or actual principle is for the voters to decide. In the end, I could support Huck against any Democrat foe, given that he's closer to relying on the free market than any of the socialists that the other party is putting forward. However, Huck's nanny state tendencies would be one reason why my support would be half-hearted.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

2008 Predictions from the Conspiracy

Well, here are the predictions for 2008. My co-conspirators will contribute in the comments section:

St Wendeler

Iowa (1st, 2nd, 3rd)
GOP - Romney, Thompson, Huckabee
Dem - Clinton, Edwards, Obama

New Hampshire
GOP - Romney, McCain, Thompson
Dem - Clinton, Obama, Edwards

Michigan
GOP - Romney, McCain, Thompson

Nevada
GOP - Romney, Thompson, Giuliani
Dem - Clinton, Obama, Edwards

South Carolina
GOP - Thompson, Romney, Huckabee
Dem - Obama, Clinton, Edwards

Florida
GOP - Romney, Thompson, Huckabee
Dem - Clinton, Obama, Edwards

Nomination
GOP - Romney
Dem - Clinton

Presidency
GOP - Romney

Other predictions
  • Dow 15,000
  • Democrats still hold House & Senate
  • Google 850
  • No Recession (defined as 2 quarters of negative growth)
  • Unemployment still under 5%
  • Credit Crunch no longer an issue.
  • Troop levels in Iraq continue to draw down as situation improves and Iraqi police & army takes over.
  • Democrats take credit for the success in Iraq and hail Betray Us Petraeus as a hero. The MSM doesn't see any irony and willingly report the storyline.
  • Despite having been voted down by Venezuelans, Hugo gets most of the provisions in the referendum (including Presidency for life)
  • Ratings for Congress continue to be lower than the President.
  • Sarkozy has some success in making the French economy more flexible
  • Iran proclaims that it does have a nuclear weapons program; CIA and State Department both attempt to discredit Iranian proclamation.
  • Another Rovian Conspiracy fades away - to be replaced by another team blog (?)
Happy 2008 everyone!!!

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Yet Another Inconvenient Truth - Part 1,772

It seems that the snows just won't stop falling in the Northeast.

Snow sets NH record
Associated Press - December 31, 2007 2:15 PM ET

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - Today's snowstorm made this month the snowiest December in New Hampshire in more than a century.

The National Weather Service in Gray, Maine, said Concord, where New Hampshire records are kept, beat the previous record of 43 inches of snow in December by an inch and a half. That record was set in 1876.

Overall, the storm left 10.1 inches in Concord, and more in other parts of the state.

I know that Saint Algore will solve all of our problems and make sure that New Hampshire will never receive more or less snow than it's average snowfall into perpetuity.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Tony Temple for VP


Cotton bowl rushing record, four TDs... not a bad day's work.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC:MontereyJohn

Chase Daniel for President!


Whooo-ah! How great was that???!!!

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC:montereyJohn

Monday, December 31, 2007

2007 Predictions - A Harsh Review

Well, as is custom here at Another Rovian Conspiracy, it's the end of the year and time to tally the scores from our predictions for the year that has now come to a close. Unlike other prognostications that are made by other bloggers and media outlets, the conspirators are harshly scored and held to account for their predictions.

Brian took the prize for his predictions of 2006 - will he make a repeat? Or will the wily Monterey John, who came in 2nd place last year, grab it this year? Could Penelope somehow steal the prize? Although she didn't make any predictions, she's always heavily armed and lurking in the shadows...

Here is a link to our predictions that we made back in early 2007.

Scoring is 0 pts for wrong, 1pt for partially correct, 2pts for accurate prediction. Final score is Total points divided by total number of possible correct predictions.

All scoring is final.



First up, Monterey John:

1. Hillary Clinton comes out of the closet
Very prescient. While there have been rumors, Hillary!TM hasn't "come out." Nevertheless, I'll give you partial credit - 1 pts

2. Dick Durbin admits he is in remedial history classes with emphasis on 20th century tyrannies
I wish it were so... Dickie D is too stupid to recognize that he's stupid - 0 pts

3. California, Chicago and NYC ban KFC and McDonalds
Partial credit - 1 pt. While these chains haven't been banned, the Trans-fats that make their French Fries and Drumsticks sooo tasty have been banned - so, pretty close.

4. Democratic house leadership seeks declaration of war on Walmart
Hmmmm... Partial, 1 pt. always much bleating over Wal-Mart and it seems like the Dem base is more interested in a Presidential candidate with the backbone to stand up to Wal-Mart over one willing to take on the "terrorists." But, no declaration of war or anything approaching it. If Edwards wins the Presidency, however... Time to short Wal-Mart (and every other stock).

5. John Kerry launches mission to Osama bin Laden and declares this "spiritual leader" ready and willing to deal with US
0 Pts

6. Bill Clinton asks rhetorically what the meaning of "was" was
Correct, 2 pts - Bill did say that he "was" against the Iraq War, when in fact he was for it. I suppose it depends on the meaning of the word "was."

7. Denver blizzard of 2006 was result of global warming according to New York Times
2 pts - Can't everything be blamed on Global Warming?

8. Minimum wage bill amended to $109.50/hr... Pelosi says, "Hell, why not?"
Close, but only up a couple of bucks. 1 pts

9. DJI reaches 15,000 - Senate Democrats predict impending economic doom
Without the subprime mess, you'd probably be right. 0 pts

10. Unemployment rate reaches 2.5% - see 9 above
Still at record lows, but not that low. 0 pts

11. Inflation rate 1.5% - see 9 above
Actually higher... 0 pts

12. Home sales reach record levels - see 9 above
Way off... 0 pts

13. English becomes official second language in California
1 pt - nah, nothing will ever be official... It'll just happen slowly. (Although, the Spanish-only NFL ad could be considered as close to official as we'll get.

14. John Kerry is beheaded by Osama bin Laden
0 pts

15. William Jefferson D-La announces he is running for president as he has plenty of cold cash on hand
0 pts(although he's still in Dem leadership, right?

16. Robert Byrd D-WVa sponsors anti-earmarking legislation and attaches rider that will fund the Robert Byrd Skyway from Charleston WVa to Washington DC
Earmarks? We don't have those anymore, right?

While not Byrd specifically, they all have their hands in the till while they excoriate earmarks - 2 pts



Now for Brian:
  1. Rosie O'Donnell will "retire" from the view. She begins working on a film project. [this is a ripoff from St Wendeler]
    Good prediction, 2 Pts - Shame that you stole it from St Wendeler.

  2. Moqtar al-Sadr will be killed.
    0 pts

  3. Violence will escalate in Iraq in the first half of the year, followed by a lull.
    Absolutely correct - 2 Pts (Despite Juan Cole's protestations to the contrary)

  4. Minimum wage bill will be signed into law. (oooh out on a limb aren't I)
    2 Pts... You're like Cleo on that one.

  5. Prescription drug benefit will be re-examined by Democrats in the house, but will go no where.
    0 Pts (Did the Dems do anything this year?

  6. Bush will veto at least 3 bills this year
    2 pts - Bush finally figures out that he can veto some things.

  7. Case against Scooter Libby is withdrawn. Fitzgerald cites the lack of evidence he is able to put on due to restrictions from the CIA on classified information. Media takes this as Scooter winning on a technicality, but is happy to have the case go away (technically innocent, but we all know he's guilty). Joe Wilson's civil suit is dismissed with a summary judgement.
    0 Pts - Scooter is still a pariah, and I believe Wilson & Plame's suit is still on the table.

  8. Barack Obama's presidential prospects peak in 2007.
    Prospects may peak in 2008, but he's still a rock star in 2007 and positioned well for the primaries - 0 Pts

  9. Newt Gingrich does not announce a candidacy for the presidency.
    2 pts

  10. Colin Powell makes an announcement that he will NOT run for president despite no-one asking him to run.
    0 Pts

  11. Michelle Malkin will do Pulitzer Prize level work while being embedded in Iraq, but will be ignored by everybody but Fox News.
    2 Pts

  12. Dick Cheney leaves the VP office. Conspiracy theories abound on how Karl Rove a) gave him an offer he couldn't refuse or b) offed him.
    Cheney certainly has been out of the news cycle, but he's still in office - 0 pts


Now for Saint Wendeler:
  1. Rosie off view - in order to pursue her next ambitious project
    Correct - 2 Pts

  2. Air America really out of business
    Somehow still kicking, despite lack of ratings and a talent. 0 Pts

  3. MSM undermines war effort more than in 2006
    Correct - 2 Pts Once things started turning around in Iraq, it disappeared from view and the MSM pretended that nothing had changed.

  4. Nifong found guilty of ethics violations
    Partially Correct - 1 Pt. Nifong disbarred, but Feds aren't going to prosecute him.

  5. Duke lacrosse players cleared of all remaining charges
    Correct - 2 Pts

  6. Osama is confirmed dead; Libs don't think it's a big deal even though they've been bitching about him being alive for 4 years.
    Incorrect - 0 Pts. (Although I don't think we'll ever know when he dies.)

  7. President Tom gets whackier; continues to lose support within country
    Partially Correct - 1 Pt. A visit to Columbia where he gets support from US college students is about as whacky as I can take.

  8. Jimmy Carter asserts himself in foreign policy (aka makes an ass of himself)
    Correct, 2 Pts - This was like shooting fish in a barrel.

  9. Mexico will be a larger concern in the War On Terror, through unholy alliance of drug kingpins, international terrorists, and revolutionary leftists
    0 Pts - While this is true, no one is concerned at all.

  10. Hugo Chavez will expand his influence over South America
    0 Pts - If only I had said that Hugo would've expanded his influence over the Leftists on college campuses. The voters in Venezuela even kept him from increasing his influence there.

  11. Castro will die; Raul will pick up where he left off - no democracy for Cuba
    1 Pt - The man is still alive, but Raul has been running the country.

  12. Hamas ousts Fatah for control of Palestine. Pacifists around the world don't understand why the Israelis can't sit down and negotiate with the new government.
    0 Pts - Palestine is still split between Hamas and Fatah, although Hamas seems to have the upper hand.

  13. Chris Matthews announces that he's running for President as a Green b/c he's tired of how conservative and weak the Dems are. Keith Olberman follows suit.
    0 Pts - Matthews and Olberman are still an idiots, but they're not running.

  14. Obama is still a rock star.
    2 Pts

  15. Tax cuts do not become permanent, but Bush does not allow tax increase - veto pen is ready (Tim Russert has a conniption).
    2 Pts

  16. Guest Worker program doesn't pass - status quo.
    2 Pts - Although it did ruin McCain's chance at the Presidency.

  17. Unemployment rate inches up to 5% - MSM doesn't know how to cover, since Dems control Congress.
    Partially Correct, 1 Pt - Unemployment slightly below 5% and the MSM still covering the economy as if it's 1931.

  18. Annual economic growth is 2.5%
    0 Pts - It looks like I may have misunderestimated as last quarter the annual forecast was 4.9%, although final numbers won't be out for some time. MSM still covering this as the Great Depression. I may come closer as 4th quarter numbers come in.

  19. DJIA approaches 14,000
    2 Pts - Started the year at 12,500, crossed 14,000 in October, slipped to just 13,264 on the last day of trading.

  20. Bush appoints 3rd SCOTUS nominee - minority or woman with no track record, scaring Dems & GOP.
    0 Pts

  21. More "youth" riots in France
    2 Pts - Although Sarkozy is handling better than predecessor

  22. Terrorist attack in EU
    1 Pt - Glasgow was the only "major" attack in Europe? Hmmmm.... perhaps the War On Terror is actually working. Partial credit because of the fact that the damage was relatively minor.

  23. Congress approves increase in troops, with conditions of a timetable for exit.
    1 Pt - They didn't even get a timetable or tie the hands of Bush or Petraeus.

  24. Significant Troop level still in Iraq by end of 2007.
    2 Pts - Although it's driving the Left absolutely bonkers.



And the results are:

Monterey John
Total Pts = 11
Score = 34% (11 out of 32 possible)

Brian
Total Pts = 11
Score = 45% (11 out of 24)

St Wendeler
Total Pts = 26
Score = 54% (26 out of 48 possible)


WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOT!!!!

Saint Wendeler takes the title from Brian for 2007.

To my fellow conspirators, it was a great year. Good luck in 2008!

Up Next - 2008 Predictions! Bye-Bye!!

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Saint Wendeler's Presidential Pick - Fred Thompson

Fred Thompson has this excellent video on YouTube which makes the case for his candidacy for President. It's 17 minutes, but worth the time; it will be interesting to see if this has any impact on Iowa voters.



I'm mixed between supporting Romney and Thompson. In the end, Thompson is closer to my views and my only concern is his ability and drive to close the deal should he win the nomination.

But, after a slow start, I think he makes an excellent case and he has my support. No doubt the Thompson campaign has been eagerly awaiting this endorsement...

;-)

Key reasons are:

  • His tax reform proposal is excellent (better than the Fair Tax proposal of Huckabee)
  • He understands the strategic implications of the War On Terror
  • Correct philosophy regarding judiciary
  • Doesn'nt have the troublesome economic populism of Huckabee
  • Has the correct view of our problems with the education system, etc, etc.
Romney is the best alternative to Thompson in my opinion, primarily due to his policy positions, management experience, background in business.

Overall, I rank the candidates in the following way:
  1. Thompson
  2. Romney
  3. Giuliani
  4. McCain
  5. Huckabee

I also think that Thompson could be a distinct choice when positioned against Clinton or Obama.

I'll provide my prediction for the caucuses and primaries in a subsequent post, along with all of my 2008 predictions.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler