Saturday, November 25, 2006

 

Iraq: "Not...a civil war."

It just plays like one on TV.

White House officials ignored the Sadr bloc’s threats to withdraw from the government, and said there were no plans to cancel the president’s meetings with Mr. Maliki scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday. “Securing Baghdad and gaining control of the violent situation will be a priority agenda item when President Bush meets with Prime Minister Maliki in just a few days,” said Scott Stanzel, a White House spokesman. "These ruthless acts of violence are deplorable. It is an outrage that these terrorists are targeting innocent civilians in a brazen effort to topple a democratically elected government. These killers will not succeed.”

He also repeated the administration’s insistence that Iraq was not in a civil war. “We’re constantly asked that question, and while the situation is serious, Prime Minister Maliki and President Talabani have said they do not believe it is a civil war,” he said.

The bloodletting over the past 24 hours amounted to one of the worst spasms of violence since the Americans toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003, raising fears that vengeance attacks could grow to the level of those after the bombing of a Shiite shrine in Samarra in February. Then, over five days, hundreds of people were killed, with Shiite militiamen shooting Sunni imams, burning down mosques and stalking Sunni Arabs door-to-door in neighborhoods.
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Thursday, November 23, 2006

 

Happy Thanksgiving

Since many people are already on the road, heading to their holiday locations, I thought I would get the good wishes out of the way. Please travel safely.

For those of you dropping in here, let me know what you're thankful for this year! Of course, political developments and observations are allowed. However, keeping in the spirit of the moment, please keep the snark and partisan comments to a minimum!

UPDATE: Moved up to cover the actual holiday! By the way, it goes without saying that I am most thankful for my faithful readers and ever-opinionated Commenters that make this a lively and exciting place to hang out every day. I'm also thankful for Ed and Mark's sports posts that provide an all-important break from the at-times too-heavy political banter!

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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

 

Pick the NFL Winners - Week 11 Results & Turkey Day Picks

I guess I ought to announce last week's winner, aye? Drumroll please...

David Stefanini - 11
J. Mark English - 10 (and Mark kicks himself for forgetting to pick the Dallas-Indy winner)
Tom - 9
Robert A. George - 9
EdMcGon - 7

Since I got my butt handed to me, we are going to try a simple exercise this week: Pick the winners of the three Thanksgiving Day games. My picks are in red:

Miami at Detroit: "The Revenge of Joey Harrington".
Tampa Bay at Dallas: Wouldn't you really like to see a movie with cowboys against pirates? Of course, it might be kind of lopsided, since the cowboys would just shoot the pirates. Therefore, take the Cowboys. How is that for in-depth football analysis?
Denver at Kansas City: One of these days, Jake Plummer's interceptions are going to kill the Broncos. Oh wait, that was last week against the Chargers. Well, take the Chiefs anyway.

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Sad Developments

The downfall of the Left began when only certain viewpoints were considered politically correct. It appears that this is something that may have started infecting the right.

An intellectual movement that refuses open debate from all sides is in danger of collapsing.

From a pragmatic viewpoint, why would Heritage even care anymore that Bruce Bartlett was critical of the Bush White House? The presidential election was two years ago. The midterm election is over.

Now is the time when all parts of the conservative movement should be welcomed so ideas and views can be tested over the next couple of years. Shutting people out now is the worst thing to do.


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NFL Jokes of the day

How many Cincinnati Bengals does it take to screw in a light bulb?
One to steal it, one to screw it in, and Chad Johnson to say, "Why didn't you let me do it?"

How many Oakland Raiders does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A LOT! Randy Moss keeps dropping them.

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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

 

Pathetic...

The departing GOP majority manages to put both the "lame" (as in, "weak" and "inadequate") and the "duck" (as in "avoid" responsibility) in "lame-duck" Congress. They are skipping town without passing FY 2007 spending bills -- thus leaving that task to the incoming Democratic Congress.

Sure, there's a certain amount of rough-justice here -- "OK, you guys won. You deal with it." But, the fact is that passing spending bills is a basic task of a given Congress.

The GOP majority isn't doing its job -- which doesn't officially expire until January 3, 2007.

Pathetic.

Don't let the door hit you on the way out, guys.


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The New Class Warriors

It's two weeks since the election, but the analysis is still rolling in. Here's a piece I missed when it was posted the day after the election. Daniel Gross' analysis on how the Democrats are encroaching on the GOP's natural "base" -- the wealthy:
On a nationwide basis, the wealthy still vote Republican. But not by much. According to the 2006 exit poll, on a nationwide basis, of all homes making more than $100,000, Republican House candidates received a 51-47 majority, and among those making more than $200,000, Republicans racked up a 53-46 majority. Here's the irony: As the number and relative weight of the wealthy grow, their incomes rising in part because Republicans have cut taxes on their incomes and capital gains, they're proving themselves less likely to vote their economic interests. Somewhere in Manhattan today, the agent for a National Review writer is surely circulating a book proposal: What's the Matter With Greenwich?
Gross has a point -- and it's one that Matt Miller stumbled upon a couple of weeks before Election Day:
Here's my outlandish theory: that economic resentment at the bottom of the top 1% of America's income distribution is the new wild card in public life. Ordinary workers won't rise up against ultras because they take it as given that "the rich get richer." But the hopes and dreams of today's educated class are based on the idea that market capitalism is a meritocracy. The unreachable success of the superrich shreds those dreams.

"I've seen it in my research," says pollster Doug Schoen, who counsels Michael Bloomberg and Hillary Clinton, among others. "If you look at the lower part of the upper class or the upper part of the upper middle class, there's a great deal of frustration. These are people who assumed that their hard work and conventional 'success' would leave them with no worries. It's the type of rumbling that could lead to political volatility."

Lower uppers are doctors, accountants, engineers, lawyers. At companies they're mostly executives above the rank of VP but below the CEO. Their comrades include well-fed members of the media (and even FORTUNE columnists who earn their living as consultants). Lower uppers are professionals who by dint of schooling, hard work, and luck are living better than 99% of the humans who have ever walked the planet. They're also people who can't help but notice how many folks with credentials like theirs are living in Gatsby-esque splendor they'll never enjoy.

This stings. If people no smarter or better than you are making ten or 50 or 100 million dollars in a single year while you're working yourself ragged to earn a million or two-or, God forbid, $400,000-then something must be wrong. You can hear the fallout in conversations across the country. A New York-based market research guru--a well-to-do fellow who's built and sold his own firm-explodes in a rant about ultras bidding up real estate prices. A family doctor in Los Angeles with two kids shakes his head that between tuition and donations, ultras have raised the ante for private school slots to the point where he can't get his kids enrolled. A senior executive at a nationally known firm seethes at the idea of eliminating the estate tax; it is an ultra conspiracy, in his view, a reprehensible giveaway to people whose outsized lucre bears little relation to hard work. As one civic-minded lower-upper businessman told me, even his charity now feels insignificant: When buyout kings plunk down $1 million for a youth or arts group, his $20,000 contribution doesn't get him the right to co-chair a dinner, let alone a seat on the board.
I've seen Miller's point with my own eyes. I recently had a conversation with a friend -- a successful small-business entrepreneur. He talked about the fact that, "on paper, I'm a millionaire." However, in reality, he felt that he was running on a treadmill to keep up -- what with paying for private school for his daughter, while putting aside money for her college, plus all the other acoutrements of suburban living.

He's a strong Republican; however, the level of frustration in his voice was palpable -- and echoed the market-research guru Miller cites above.

In short, if Kevin Phillips were writing his bestseller of fifteen years ago, he might entitle this situation,
The Politics of Rich and Super-Rich.

And when class issues raise their heads, Democrats tend to take advantage (hat tip: the always interesting Tim Cavanaugh).


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Eye of Newt On The Prize

The gentleman from Georgia outlines his 2008 gameplan. Noted here with the usual disclaimers.

While other potential competitors like Arizona Senator John McCain, former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney build staff and hire consultants, Gingrich revealed to Fortune that he plans to create a draft-Newt "wave" by building grassroots support for his health care, national security and energy independence ideas - all of which he has been peddling to corporate audiences over the past six years. "Nice people," Gingrich says of his GOP competitors. "But we're not in the same business. They're running for president. I'm running to change the country."

In December, Gingrich will launch a 527 group, called "American Solutions for Winning the Future," that will enable him to raise and spend unlimited money on behalf of this effort. In January, he will conduct a strategy meeting with advisers. By next fall, he'll decide whether to make a bid official - a late start by any recent historical standard.
Not a bad snapshot of what the man is thinking right now. Read the whole thing. I like the idea of forming a 527 -- and "American Solutions..." has a nice ring to it. However, will a candidate who's already up and running sue Newt for plagiarism?

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Kramer's Got Problems?

There are worse things than hecklers for comedians to deal with:

Gunmen shot and killed a television comedian today who was famous for mocking everyone from the Iraqi government to U.S. forces to Shiite militias to Sunni insurgents.

Walid Hassan's slaying came as the Iraqi death toll rose to more than 1,300 for the first 20 days of November — the highest for any month since The Associated Press began tracking the figure in April 2005.
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Monday, November 20, 2006

 

Has Everyone Gone Bat-Sh*t Insane?

Mel Gibson. Michael Richards. Now Donald Trump decides to get blatantly offensive on Condoleezza Rice: She's "a lovely woman, but I think she's a b----." Gibson can at least claim he was drunk. Maybe Richards was either under the influence -- or caught up in the moment.

What's Trump's excuse?

And Spike Lee throws in his two cents as well.

Whether one agrees with the Bush administration or not (and anyone who has spent any time here knows that I'm no apologisgt), whether one agrees with the either the work or the views Rice has expressed, a certain basic respect for the office of Secretary of State should be maintained.

Even if Trump finds Rice incompetent -- which he essentially does -- what has she ever said or done to warrant this sort of abusive language?

Surely, there's not even a trace of sexism or racism in these comments, right?

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The Case Against Rudy

Not a complete case, but certainly a few of the issues that will be explored during a likely Rudy Giuliani presidential campaign.

What's curious this story is that though the main critics quoted are those on Giuliani's left, much of the ammunition cited -- the cross-dressing, the multiple marriages, his position on social issues, etc. -- are what would be most troublesome to
conservative voters.

And, as the article notes, having New York civil liberties lawyer Norman Siegel and the Rev. Al Sharpton as one's main enemies will most certainly
not damage him on the right.

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Hecklers...

...and how not to deal with them. "Kramer" goes wild and launches a few "N"-bombs.

From a stand-up perspective, I would have loved to have seen how the host (briefly seen at the very end) engaged (what was left of) the audience.


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Ranking the NFL - Week 11

With the short week upon us, and all the upsets yesterday, I thought it would be a good idea to go ahead and do my rankings today.

Due to the Colts' loss yesterday, there will be no "almost elite" category.

THE ELITE
COLTS: For the Colts, I have to consider the loss to Dallas a fluke. Does anyone honestly think Peyton Manning will look like that two weeks in a row?

CHARGERS: The Chargers should be called "Team 1A" among the "elite". Beating the Broncos IN Denver is a monster win. Anyone up for a Chargers-Colts AFC Championship?

BRONCOS: Which of the following three quarterbacks has the best chance to win the AFC Championship: Peyton Manning, Phil Rivers, or Jake Plummer? If you said Plummer, you lose, just like the Broncos will.

RAVENS: The Ravens simply out-classed the Falcons. Even without Ray Lewis, the Baltimore defense was just too much. Did I mention their offense isn't too bad either?

THE GOOD
BEARS: Looking back, I have to wonder if their loss to the Dolphins was a fluke. But only scoring 10 points on the Jets doesn't exactly restore my faith in this team.

SEAHAWKS: Last week, I called this team the strongest contender in the NFC. I just want to know who spiked my coffee? Better yet, who spiked their Gatorade?

GIANTS: Tonight vs. the Jaguars.

PATRIOTS: If the Packers played the Patriots every week, there would be no talk of Favre coming back next year. There might even be some comments about him retiring immediately.

BENGALS: The Cincinnati World-Beaters showed up against the Saints, as opposed to the Cincinnati Wife-Beaters, that normally show up...

PANTHERS: Terrell Owens, Randy Moss, and Chad Johnson might get all the headlines, but Steve Smith is actually the best wide receiver in the NFL. Smith is the only one I look at and say that guy actually makes his team better than they are.

SAINTS: The Saints must have thought Chad Johnson had lost a step. 190 yards and 3 touchdowns later, the Saints realized they were wrong.

CHIEFS: The Chiefs get a real test this week at home against the Broncos on Thursday night. If you have watched the NFL Network at all over the last 6 months, then I am sure you know about this game. They have run ads for it every chance they had.

COWBOYS: HUGE win for Dallas. This is quite a different team with Tony Romo at quarterback. Playoffs? Super Bowl? Not out of the question in the weak NFC.


THE AVERAGE
49ERS: They beat SEATTLE? I knew they were getting better, but still...

STEELERS: Even though the Steelers have been playing the Browns regularly for what seems like the past half century, how many of their matches have been classic? It always seems like one or the other of them is dominant at the same time the other one is mired in a slump. Yesterday's game was as close to classic as these two teams usually get, and it wasn't classic.

BROWNS: Over the last 7 weeks, the Browns have a pattern: Lose one, win one. They lost yesterday, so that means they will beat Cincinnati next week. Riiiiight.

JETS: They held the Bears to 10 points! Which was 10 more than the Jets scored...

FALCONS: The only "birds" here are swans, as in the "swan song" of Jim Mora. For a team that looked innovative earlier this year, they just look flat now.

BUCCANEERS: In spite of the numbers, I like Bruce Gradkowski. As rookie quarterbacks go, one touchdown and two interceptions against a solid Carolina defense is not bad at all.

JAGUARS: Tonight vs. the Giants.

EAGLES: Anyone see the irony of Donovan McNabb going down with an injury and being replaced by Jeff Garcia? (think Terrell Owens)

RAMS: Ram Fans, don't feel bad. Yes, you were shutout by Carolina. But consider the alternative: What if you kept Mike Martz? Look at Detroit, with only 185 points scored this season, vs. the Rams with 202. Just call me a little ray of sunshine today...

REDSKINS: Welcome to the NFL Jason Campbell. By the way, you won't have Clinton Portis to hand off to for the rest of the season. Have fun!

DOLPHINS: Joey Harrington, the next Dan Marino. You can stop laughing now. Really. The Dolphins are 3-0 with Harrington under center since their bye week, having beaten Chicago, Kansas City, and Minnesota. The Dolphins almost have their heads above water...

VIKINGS: Since their loss to the Patriots 4 weeks ago, the Vikes can't seem to get a break.

TITANS: If the Titans let Jeff Fisher go after this season, they are idiots. Their win over the Eagles shows this team is starting to come around. Fisher has done a world-class job of coaching a team with limited talent.


THE BAD
PACKERS: This is the Packer team I have come to expect. Nothing like a New England reality check of 35-0.

BILLS: You can almost hear the Bills fans chanting, "WE'RE BETTER THAN HOUSTON!".

TEXANS: Just when I think the Texans are starting to play a little better, they lose to the Bills. So how is that Mario Williams pick coming along? Two tackles against the Bills. So THAT'S why they had the first pick in the draft!

RAIDERS: Who could the Raiders trade Randy Moss to? Hello, Matt Millen...

CARDINALS: Do you think Dennis Green is feeling the job security after they beat Detroit?

LIONS: Let the Matt Millen job watch begin. Or is that continue?

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Sunday, November 19, 2006

 

Because, Like, Every Black Kid...

...wants to grow up to be Rush Limbaugh!

President Bush's political advisers are urging Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele neither to seek nor accept a Cabinet post but instead find a national platform on television or radio.

While losing for the U.S. Senate, Steele attracted favorable attention across the country as an eloquent African-American Republican. Bush political strategists have told Steele a high-ranking post in the administration's last two years would curb his independence and cramp his style. Instead, they advised, he could be "a black Rush Limbaugh."

Steele was interested in heading the Republican National Committee, but his independence displayed during the 2006 campaign was not what the White House wanted there. The decision had been made weeks earlier to name Sen. Mel Martinez of Florida as general chairman and Kentucky National Committeeman Mike Duncan as national chairman.

Michael Steele: The Cabinet would make him not independent enough, but he might end up acting "too independent" as RNC Chairman! But as a "black Rush Limbaugh" -- he'd be just right! What's a brother got to do get a "seat-at-the-table" dance? But, hey, talk show host is probably better than HUD Secretary which was what was being floated before. And, of course, it's important to have a Latino -- Mel Martinez -- pushing the whole immigration reform thing, given how well things went in the midterms for the party with that group:
Republicans worked hard this week to get the word out that they had appointed Cuban American Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.) to lead the Republican National Committee. On Wednesday, the RNC dispatched an e-mail message in which about 20 conservatives praised the appointment.
"Martinez would give the party tremendous legitimacy among the growing Hispanic voter base," said
Rep. Tom Feeney (R-Fla.). "He's an absolute rock star in the Hispanic community."

Take note that Feeney, a Florida representative, says that Martinez is a "rock star" in the "Hispanic community." To the extent that the Hispanic "community" in Florida is defined by Cuban expats, that is undoubtedly true. Does that "rock star" status extend to Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, etc.? Time will tell.

Regardless, this Washington Times story puts the Steele "independence" issue in a realpolitik framework:

The Times reported Tuesday that four potential 2008 Republican presidential contenders -- including Arizona Sen. John McCain and Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney -- had called Mr. Steele to urge him to take the RNC post, but only if he won an ironclad agreement to be free to run the RNC so as to further the party's interests rather than take orders from Mr. Rove.

Former Virginia Gov. James S. Gilmore III thought he had such an agreement with the White House but was ousted as Republican national chairman after a short time in office during Mr. Bush's first term because Mr. Gilmore had failed to staff the RNC with operatives from the Bush-Cheney 2000 presidential campaign.

The White House isn't quite ready to give up the reins to the party as yet -- and Steele might act like, he was, you know -- actually running things, making decisions, etc!

Can't have that now, can we?

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Open Thread

A late one this weekend, but please go ahead and have your say!

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