Saturday, December 08, 2007

 

Open Thread

A well-thread blog is a happy blog.

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Friday, December 07, 2007

 

CIA CYA

While Democrats are outraged (as they should be) over the news that the CIA destroyed videotapes of a detainee interrogation (and kept their existence secret even in the face of court and 911 Commission orders), what is most interesting is the general consensus around the blogosphere that this a truly serious infraction that may (stress may) reach criminal behavior (i.e. obstruction of justice).

Conservatives are not giving the CIA a pass on this. Ed Morrissey assesses the issue. My hunch is that this is one of those scandals tailor-made for dumping all the blame on the previous guy (in this case, that would be Porter Goss). I disagree with Ed in one respect, however: The fact that video may have shown the interrogators face provides not even the slightest excuse for destroying the tapes. There is something called pixillation (the same technical process that blurs "naughty bits" on network TV if a nude person shows up in a news show) that could have hidden their faces.

Well, add one more thing for the chattering class to attack this weekend (along with Romney, Oprah/Obama, the NIE, etc.).

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Taking The Mitts Off

I don't know whether Mitt Romney hit a "home run" with his speech on faith. In fact, trying to use a baseball metaphor on a political speech about faith seems to me just wrong.

However, there are a few things that jump out.

1) It's interesting that "Catholic," "Christian," "Jew" and "Muslim" all appear more times than "Mormon" (which appears exactly once). Given the speech build-up, will that imbalance unwittingly draw more attention to the religious issue than away from it? Time will tell.

2) When an ardent social conservative like Ramesh Ponnuru observes: "It would have been nice if Romney, while making room for people of all faiths in this country, could have also made some room for people with none," that may foretell some problems down the road.

3) Given that the speech is a plea to ask voters to not to impose a religious -- and implicitly see his religion as being part of the broad faiths practiced by other Americans -- did Romney leave himself vulnerable with this line:


These American values, this great moral heritage, is shared and lived in my religion as it is in yours. I was taught in my home to honor God and love my neighbor. I saw my father march with Martin Luther King.
While Romney's father may have had the "American values" and "moral heritage" to march with MLK, was his Morman faith instrumental in that -- the same faith that taught until 1978 that blacks were such a lesser race that they couldn't be ordained as priests? The statement says wonders about George Romney's values, but actually draws uncomfortable attention to one not-too-long-gone aspect of the religion's tenets.

On the whole, however, I have to give Romney major credit for both the trappings of the speech (doing it at the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library) and, more importantly, its broad substance. Over the last couple of weeks, there have been a number of moments on both sides where the campaign has veered into "silly season" territory. The Hillary-Obama "kindergarten" story is the most obvious example on the Democratic side and the how-low-can-you-dance go against illegal immigrants among Republicans.

For one day, the main discussion is on an a significant thoughtful speech by one of the contenders. People will differ about parts of the speech -- or whether he should have given it. But, the reality of the speech is that it has elevated the tone of the campaign -- and for one day at least, put Romney on a slightly higher plane than his competition.

That's not a bad thing.

UPDATE: Romney won over Pat Buchanan.

UPDATE II: This helps take a bit of bloom off the rose. Apparently, the non-mention of non-believers was not unintentional.

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Thursday, December 06, 2007

 

Pigskin Pick'em - NFL Week 14 Picks

As usual, the Bears-Redskins game tonight will NOT count in the weekly or YTD standings. But for the record, I like the Skins tonight.

Now for the rest of my weekly picks:

Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills: This could be the week for the Fish. More likely not.
St. Louis Rams at Cincinnati Bengals: This might be a fun game to watch, only because neither team knows how to play defense.
Dallas Cowboys at Detroit Lions: They should have played this game on Thanksgiving.
Oakland Raiders at Green Bay Packers: Even a banged-up Brett Favre is too much for the Raiders.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Houston Texans: This is the closest game of the week. With Bucs QB Jeff Garcia looking like he will play, and Texans QB Matt Schaub looking like he won't, I will gamble on the Bucs to win it. Even if both played, it still could go either way.
Carolina Panthers at Jacksonville Jaguars: The Jags are the better cats here.
New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles: Take the Eagles in this revenge match.
San Diego Chargers at Tennessee Titans: The Bolts should be able to take care of business against an overmatched Titans team.
Minnesota Vikings at San Francisco 49ers: The improving Vikes are too much for the floundering 49ers.
Arizona Cardinals at Seattle Seahawks: Another revenge match, with the Hawks coming out on top.
Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos: I imagine the Broncos are still stinging from last week's loss to the Raiders. Expect the Chiefs to pay for it.
Pittsburgh Steelers at New England Patriots: I can't pick the Pats to lose, but this one should be close enough for the Steelers to pull it off, but only if they don't make crucial mistakes.
Cleveland Browns at New York Jets: Nice victory for the Jets over the Dolphins. Now they can come back down to earth against a real team.
Indianapolis Colts at Baltimore Ravens: Don't expect the Ravens to do any better against the Colts than they did against the Pats.
New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons: This is a Monday night game? Take the Saints and go to bed early.
Pigskin Pick'em rules: Look 'em up in one of the previous weeks!

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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

 

That Darn Month Again!

On President Bush's claim that he only became aware of the NIE's finding on Iran "just last week," Andrew Sullivan notes, "He was told of the new data in August, but seemed uninterested in what it had to say."

I'm stunned: There's no way that the president of the United States would receive critical intelligence data in August and
not attach much importance to it for months, right?

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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

 

Pigskin Pick'em - NFL Week 13 Results

Last night's Patriots-Ravens game was why I watch football: Watch a lesser team dominate a better team for 58 minutes, only to lose the game in the last two minutes. And I do mean the FULL two minutes.

Speaking of better teams, Audio Dave won his second week in a row in our Pigskin Pick'em pool:
Audio Dave - 11
J. Mark English - 10
Robert A. George - 9
Bill Barker - 9
FunkyPundit - 8
David Stefanini - 7
EdMcGon - 5

Finally, we have a dramatic development in our YTD standings! Robert George has moved into a tie with David Stefanini for the lead:
Robert A. George(2) - 106
David Stefanini(2) - 106

EdMcGon(2) - 103
J. Mark English(1) - 92
Bill Barker - 85
BL(2) - 74
FunkyPundit(0.5) - 64
SoloD(1) - 53
Audio Dave(2.5) - 48
Dave O'Leary - 21
Rigel - 17
Snave - 8
Mike - 8
Moose - 2

The great irony here is that if Robert had remembered to make the first week's picks, he might be winning by now. Of course, if Audio Dave had started playing earlier in the year, he might be winning too. If, if, if, if, if...

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The End is NIE?

The big news of the last two days is the release of the National Intelligence Estimate suggesting that Iran's nuclear weapons program has been dormant since 2003. The president interpreted the report today as a "warning signal." It certainly gives those wary of banging the war drums for Iran some powerful talking points. But that's the policy question.

What does the existence of the NIE entail for domestic politics? Until this week, the leaders in the two respective party presidential fields -- Rudy Giuliani and Hillary Clinton -- have been, at least rhetorically, the most hawkish. Now, at a moment when both candidates are seeing
serious dips in their popularity, it will be interesting to see if the hawkish sensibility continues to carry the day.

Iraq seems to be stabilizing and now the tenor against Iran seems off the high boil it was at just a few weeks ago. Such developments could benefit those candidates for whom security or foreign policy "experience" are not the leading parts of their portfolio. In other words if the issue matrix is turned upside down, an Obama or Edwards (on the Democratic side) or Romney or Huckabee may seem even better suited to running the country one year from now. Yes, this is but one moment. Much can change in the next month or six weeks, but the NIE release could have a subtle ripple through the campaign.

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2007 Sportsman of the Year?!?!?!

Who else?

That spinning head? The hideous shriek? The slashing of wrists and gouging out of eyes?

That would be our own
Ed McGonigal.

It would be best to leave Ed alone right about now.

[It hadn't occurred to me, but I have to agree with ESPN Radio's Mike and Mike, who mentioned it this morning: Tony Dungy would have been a much better choice -- even though the AFC championship and Super Bowl games occurred during the first five weeks of 2007. Yes, the historical nature of being the first black man head coach to win the Super Bowl is nice to note, but there are far more substantial reasons that make Dungy deserving: He finally got the "can't-win-the-big-one" monkey off both his and Peyton Manning's/the Colts' backs. Furthermore, in a pretty horrid year of bad sportsmanship (Michael Vick, NBA referee gambling, Pacman Jones, Barry Bonds, the Tour de France) -- he is one of the classiest, most upstanding men in sports.]

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Monday, December 03, 2007

 

Hillary's Faded Anthem

My friend Dan Gerstein writes in Monday's Wall Street Journal about the implications of Oprah's big endorsement of and campaigning with Barack Obama -- and Hillary's response by bringing in Barbra Streisand.
So how did the Clinton campaign respond to the news that Oprah would be stumping for Sen. Obama this coming weekend? Instead of sticking to their core message, and showing the confidence of a true front-runner, they fell into the tit-for-tat trap of countering with the endorsement of the polarizing, '60s-studded Streisand--in essence, the anti-Oprah. In doing so, the Clinton camp did not just fail to blunt or dilute the O-factor, they managed to accentuate it by unwittingly suggesting Mrs. Clinton stands for--like the Streisand anthem--the way we were.
Wow. "The way we were."

Contrast linking that song with Hillary Clinton with the exuberant tune that Clinton-Gore '92 adopted as its anthem, Fleetwood Mac's "Don't Stop (Thinking About Tomorrow)." Temporally speaking, the two '70s songs are just a couple of years apart. In a cultural-political context though, they couldn't be further apart.

One song looks optimistically forward, the other wistfully backward. One is upbeat, the other downbeat.

Regardless of how nostalgic they may be at a given time, voters tend to go for the candidate who best paints a picture of the future country. Bob Dole effectively ceded the 1996 election to Bill Clinton, when he promised at the GOP convention to "be a bridge to a time of tranquillity." That opened the door for Clinton at his convention acceptance speech to promise to build a "bridge to the 21st century."

Oprah is always forward-thinking. Oprah is all about optimisim. If she "sells" Obama as having that same sort of optimism, she may well convince Iowa (and other voters) that he's the candidate most thinking about tomorrow.

Oprah. Obama. Optimism.

Oh, oh, oh!

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Poppy's Greatest Hits

My review of Timothy Naftali's biography of President George H.W. Bush (part of the American Presidents series) ran in Sunday's NY Post. It can be read here. As occasionally happens, the headline to the piece bears little resemblance to the content of the actual review.

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Huck's Next Move

Ed Morrissey discusses Huckabee's emerging role as the "anti-Mitt" and the "anti-Rudy candidate and whether he can take it to the next level.

The biggest obstacle to Huckabee breaking out is money and what it brings -- organization. The early money that raised by Romney and Giuliani (and Clinton and Obama on the Democratic side) allowed those candidates to create nationwide campaigns that helps protect against early stumbles. In the case of Giuliani, the belief is that his organization allows him the luxury of losing one or more of the early races and win in places like Florida, New York, California, etc. later on. Romney is hoping that his organization in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina will create an early wave to knock out the other contenders.


Conversely, Iowa, so far, is the only place where Huckabee has a solid organization.

But the attention he has received over the last month -- the rise in Iowa creating national attention that starts a spillover effect in places like South Carolina and Florida -- can only help if he has enough money to put a national organization in place.

Can he do it?

A DC Republican -- someone with more than 20 years experience in the fundraising business -- told me the night after last week's GOP debate that Huckabeee "Huckabee is going to be fascinating to watch since he has NO organization outside Iowa . . zip.. . nada . . .zero. He is certainly not in any shape, right now, to compete on Super Tuesday." On the other hand, in a world where Ron Paul managed to raise $5 million in one day (and is on track to raise the most funds in the current quarter), it's not out of the question for Huckabee to be able to use the Internet to make a late comeback.

My DC source adds, "Huckabee's just recently gotten his 'Internet' house in order. Lately, he's been getting rave reviews from the online critics. It will be VERY fascinating to see if Huckabee can translate that into online giving. The whole
Chuck Norris thing gave Huckabee great buzz and if they can't capitalize on that something really is wrong there."

December should be an interesting month.

UPDATE: Yep, Huckabee's moving up. He's getting the shots that a perceived threat should expect. The tax issue is going to be his greatest internal GOP hurdle to expanding his campaign.

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Sunday, December 02, 2007

 

Official YouTube Cheap Shot

Capping a not-so-good week for America's Mayor, here's a quite amusing, though mildly unfair (to McCain) clip:

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