Saturday, December 22, 2007

 

Open Thread

Nice set of threads you're wearing.

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Friday, December 21, 2007

 

Bill Strauss, R.I.P.

I was greatly saddened early this week to learn that Bill Strauss passed away at the age of 60. The New York Times has a nice article that, correctly, focuses on his amazing success as one of the founders of The Capitol Steps parody troop. His songs were smart, funny -- and pointed ("Lirty Dies," his ever-changing malapropistic ode to D.C. scandal was a classic).

I first encountered Bill Strauss in a completely different manner. He was the co-author of what I unhesitatingly say is the book that has influenced me the most over the last 15 years -- particularly my way of looking at politics. In 1992, a Republican National Committee co-worker named Eric Anderson introduced me to the book, Generations: The History of America's Fugure, 1584-2069, and I've never been the same.

It's analysis of how generational archetypes replicate through history was mind-blowing. Even the most casual reader -- one who doesn't buy into the whole concept -- can find gems of insight. Reading this book gives the best understanding to the baby boomers -- and their generational antecedents -- imaginable. It's reading this book that makes me so certain that, regardless of how well Barack Obama might be doing in the Democratic primary -- or how well he polls against likely Republican opposition -- he will not be the next president of the United States. The Boomers will never give up their power at such a (relatively) early time in their Elderhood cycle.

In any event, Strauss and his co-author Neil Howe caused me to see the world in a completely different way -- the best praise any author can receive. Apparently I wasn't alone as there are multiple web-sites devoted to Strauss and Howe's way of looking at history and discussions of that book and their subsequent works, The Fourth Turning and Millenials Rising (there are a few Facebook groups devoted to the Millenials). In any event, I can't recommend too strongly that every RT reader should check out Generations.

I met Bill in 1994 and got a chance to talk with him a few times after that.

He introduced me to the Gen-X group Third Millennium -- from which several friendships grew that exist to this day. I learned about his other life in The Capitol Steps. (Looking back, perhaps he influenced me in my own schizophrenic path of politics/journalism-stand-up/comedy.) I gave him a copy of an essay that I had written that incorporated a generational look at 90s politics. He shared with me a draft on a "Generations"-themed novel that he was working on. He invited me to share any suggestions. I liked what I saw, but, alas "Mann's Wall" apparently was never fully completed to Bill's satisfaction.

We spoke shortly after 9/11. I wanted to know whether he thought that this was the incident that triggered the new "Crisis" era. He felt that it could be, but from his reading that it was "too soon" in the cycle (a "Generations" take would suggest the next Crisis beginning in the 20-teens. With the hindsight of six years, it is beginning to feel that Bill was right.

Bill was in my thoughts recently -- I was curious to learn what he thought of the Hillary-Obama match (in the Strauss-Howe cosmology, the Baby Boom cut-off year is 1960, thus Obama would be a post-boomer/Gen-X). Anyway, I didn't get around to it. And then, I received the news by e-mail late Tuesday/early Wednesday morning.

There are few people who can be equally funny and serious, make us laugh and make us think. Bill was one of that rare breed. I will miss him.

My condolences to the Strauss family, his co-author Neil Howe and his Capitol Steps colleagues.

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Wading Through The Mitt

It gets better.

This is one of those dumb self-inflicted wounds that drive campaign staff insane -- but journalists love. To see how potentially deadly they can be, check Joe Biden '88 (the Neil Kinnock chapter) and, to a slightly lesser extent, Al Gore 2000 ("Look for the union label...").

Andrew runs a clip of Romney explaining what he means by the word "saw"! Andrew also notes that 30 years ago, Romney claimed that he actually walked with his dad and MLK. The confusion stems from the little-known fact that Martin Luther King, Jr. is Romney's actual father. George Romney apparently graciously agreed to adopt Mitt at an early age to prevent the civil rights leader from being tainted by the scandal. Secret Mormon experiments later fused the elder Romney's DNA to Mitt Luther King. This explains why Mitt was so overcome with emotion during his Meet The Press appearance.

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Comeback Kid?

We speculated about this possibility not too long ago. Well, it looks like, in this most crazy Republican primary season, the guy given up for dead months ago may actually be alive. Josh Marshall doesn't have the greatest insight into GOP sensibilities, but I think his take on what may be happening sounds about right. Romney,Rudy and Huckabee all have serious liabilities in a general election. McCain, on the other hand, has proven crossover appeal.

The issue that cost him the most among Democrats and independents -- his unswerving support of the Iraq War -- may now recede given the better news coming from the war zone.

One major caveat: Polling in a caucus state is notoriously unpredictable. McCain has next to nothing of an organization in Iowa and caucus politics is very much hands-on, work-your-neighbor operation. It may be the case that Iowa minds are opening to the possibility of McCain, but will those people go out and try to bring as many of their friends and family members into t he caucus room and get them to vote for McCain?

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Thursday, December 20, 2007

 

Mitt's White Lie

Remember after Mitt Romney's big speech on faith two weeks ago, I questioned whether the line, "I saw my father walking with Martin Luther King," would actually cause people to re-examine the racist issues in Mormonism? That happened to a certain extent -- Tim Russert brought it up on Meet The Press last week. However, now it seems there's a greater problem: Evidence that it never happened -- that George Romney and King never walked together.

And then, finally, an admission that, well, he made it up.

Geez, there's always a bit of stretching going on in politics, but to put something like this in Romney's big speech where he talks about the centrality of faith in his life and in America is stunning in its audacity.

There you go -- a book title, "The Audacity of Hype."

And, yes, the fact that Mitt lied stretched the truth on a part of the speech that was implicityly dealing with race will revive all of those racial issues again. As well it should.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

 

"Dallas" The Soap Opera Returns!

Nope, not the classic '70s TV show of yore -- at least not yet (John Travolta just got bounced from the role of J.R. Ewing).

This is the one starring "America's Team": Hotshot young gunslinger Tony Rom(e)o has been called out by ace (yet emotionally immature) wide receiver Terrel Owens over his romance
with Jessica Simpson:

"Right now, Jessica Simpson is not a fan favorite—in this locker room or in Texas Stadium," Owens said Wednesday.

The Cowboys lost 10-6 to the Philadelphia Eagles and Romo had what was statistically the worst game of his career, all while Simpson sat in a luxury box wearing a pink No. 9 jersey she proudly showed off for television cameras.

The problem for her is, Romo's previous worst game came last December at home to the Eagles when then-girlfriend Carrie Underwood was in attendance.

"With everything that has happened, obviously with the way Tony played and the comparison between her and Carrie Underwood, I think a lot of people feel she has taken his focus away," Owens said, echoing the chatter on sports-talk radio and blogs. "Other than that, she was high on my list until last week.
Of course, the more perceptive (and sane) person might surmise that Romo's "two worst games" might have more to do with the fact that it was the same team responsible for his poor numbers -- the Eagles -- than that he had a hot chick in the stands.

Apparently, T.O. wants to be the only one that scores with Romo.

(Something that the selfish one undoubtedly has also told his fellow Cowboys receivers.)

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Pigskin Pick'em - NFL Week 16 Picks

Time for everyone's favorite game, "Ed wins!", otherwise known as Pigskin Pick'em!

Mercifully, this week we don't have to go to the trouble of picking the winner of the Steelers-Rams. It would take a Christmas miracle for the Rams to win.

However, there is a Saturday night game, so remember to get your picks in before 8:15 EST on Saturday!

My picks:

Dallas Cowboys at Carolina Panthers: Will there be a
Jessica Simpson sighting in Carolina this weekend? If so, take the Panthers. More likely, the Cowboys win this one.
New York Giants at Buffalo Bills: There are two factors in this game: first, the G-men are on the road; second, the Bills don't seem ready to win the important games yet.
Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears: The Bears could win this, ruining Lord Favre's farewell tour. And then I woke up...
Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals: Is there a more likable team in the NFL than the Browns? They have struggled for decades in that godawful city, they have a no-name quarterback who comes out of nowhere to lead them to the steps of the playoffs in the hardest conference in all of football, they have a former star running back on his last legs trying to earn one more shot at glory, they have a stud wide receiver, they have a great offensive line anchored by a rookie tackle...and they have an awful defense which leads to a lot of high scoring games that are fun to watch. The Browns could almost be the Bengals. Fortunately, the Brownies are better.
Kansas City Chiefs at Detroit Lions: Remember that "10 win" prediction from Jon Kitna? This will be number 7.
Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts: Sorry Texans, the Colts are out of your league.
Oakland Raiders at Jacksonville Jaguars: With Justin "Huggy Bear" Fargas gone for the season, this game could get ugly. (I just love having an excuse to say "Huggy Bear".)
Philadelphia Eagles at New Orleans Saints: What
Brian Westbrook did for the Eagles last week will go down in the annals of football history as one of the classiest acts of all time (even if he was listening to Jon Runyan).
Atlanta Falcons at Arizona Cardinals: Note to Arthur Blank: Please concede this game. Do we have to watch the Falcons get steamrolled again like they were last week?
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at San Francisco 49ers: The Niners win this one for pride.
Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots: God said, let the Patriots have an easy December. And He looked upon the schedule, and gave Fish unto the Patriots. Upon seeing this, the coach Belichick proclaimed, "Thank you God!"
Baltimore Ravens at Seattle Seahawks: And the Ravens will also be playing.
New York Jets at Tennessee Titans: The ultimate Red State-Blue State matchup. Well, not really. But it sounded good, since the Red State team will win.
Washington Redskins at Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings seem like the perfect team to beat the Skins, but I have this nagging feeling I am wrong here.
Denver Broncos at San Diego Chargers: This game will be a lot closer than it looks on paper, but it is hard to go against the Chargers.

Just in case anyone forgot, here are the Pigskin Pick'em Rules:
1. Pick the straight-up winners of all this weeks NFL games (excluding any Thursday games). Picks will be accepted in the comments section of the following websites:
Politics and Pigskins, Ragged Thots, and American Legends. All picks must be posted by 1 pm Eastern Time on Sunday (otherwise known as "The Barker Rule"), or by the kickoff of the first NFL Saturday game on weeks when that happens.
2. The winner gets...bragging rights! (you weren't expecting money, were you?)
3. And new for this year: I will be keeping a running tally for the season, so the person who gets the most picks correct for the whole season, including the playoffs, gets...even BIGGER bragging rights! (and still no money)

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Dogging The Republicans

Forgive me if I sound like I'm, ahem, bitching about this, but it looks like Andrew Sullivan missed another significant GOP pooch-abuse incident -- as my Post colleague Dan Mangan discovered earlier this year:
Judith Giuliani once demonstrated surgical products for a controversial medical-supply company that used dogs - which were later killed - in operations whose only purpose was to sell equipment to doctors, The Post has learned.
"It was a horribly cruel, outrageous program," Friends of Animals President Priscilla Feral said about the demonstrations of medical staplers on dogs conducted by U.S. Surgical Corp. employees during Giuliani's tenure there in the late 1970s.
Geez, given that this was the Michael Vick year, Republicans are not exactly putting themselves in good stead with dog lovers.

And, yeah, there is an obvious joke involving a certain Democratic candidate, but I'm too much of a gentleman to make it.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

 

Giddy Days Are Here Again

In a Comment thread in an earlier post, your humble host was accused of being "giddy" over the raucous uncertainty in the Republican nomination process. I plead guilty to that charge! I am this way, partly as a political journalist who loves a good story, but also because of my disaffection with the most of the GOP field.

Ed Morrissey at Captain's Quarters describes what could be the almost-better-than-sex result for folks like me -- "brokered convention"! Oh, I'm unconvinced that a brokered convention is automatically a bad thing for the party.

Bring it on!!!

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Why GOP=Stupid Party

Poor, poor Trent Lott was the victim of a rabid press when he lost his majority leader job five years ago after praising segregationist Strom Thurmond -- so says Oregon Sen. Gordon Smith. Not only is Smith an idiot for bringing back this high point in the history of Republican politics. He's also a hypocrite because he said exactly the opposite at the time.

And, of course, Orrin Hatch does a ditto!

Yeah, Lott is retiring, but why can't his colleagues recall other "great" moments in his sterling career -- such as his advocacy for philandering Air Force pilot Kelli Flinn or his great support for trial lawyers (most notably one of the most notorious -- his recently indicted brother-in-law Dickie Scruggs) -- or his general pork-friendly ways representing Mississippi?

Instead, they are caught up in, uh, whitewashing Lott's praise of a guy who bolted his party becaue it was beginning to support civil rights!

Stupid, stupid, stupid!

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It's Not Easy Being Robert George

Especially given that there are two of us -- both working in the conservative orbit. My doppleganger at Princeton is having issues involving a right-leaning student of his who looks like he's well on his way down the Stephen Glass road.

A phrase I could have gone without seeing: "Alas, George's credulity has not been rewarded."

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Pigskin Pick'em - NFL Week 15 Results

It has been a great week for me. I won the first round playoff game in my fantasy football league, AND won Pigskin Pick'em, AND moved into first place in Pigskin Pick'em's YTD standings. As Terrell Owens would say, "I love me some me!" (I still have no clue what that means, but it sounds appropriate.)

Let the bragging commence with the weekly pick results:
EdMcGon - 12
J. Mark English - 9
David Stefanini - 8
Robert A. George - 8
Audio Dave - 8
Bill Barker - 7

So how did I end up with a 3 pick lead over second place? 4 picks over third place?

I can thank the Jaguars for part of it. Mark was the only other person to pick the Jags. The Jags are a far better team than people give them credit. Don't be surprised if the Jags end up being the team that beats the Patriots in the playoffs.

How about them 49ers? Barker was the only other one to pick the Niners.

And I can't forget a hardy chorus of "Hail to the Redskins"! One important thing I left out of my comments on that game: The Giants stink at home. Of course, Mark not picking the game at all certainly helped.

This all leads to me being in first place for the season:
EdMcGon(4) - 128
David Stefanini(2) - 126
Robert A. George(2) - 124
J. Mark English(1) - 107
Bill Barker - 99
FunkyPundit(0.5) - 76
BL(2) - 74
Audio Dave(2.5) - 68
SoloD(1) - 53
Dave O'Leary - 21
Rigel - 17
Snave - 8
Mike - 8
Moose - 2

In case you hadn't noticed, I plan to be a completely insufferable braggart if you guys let me win this.

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Monday, December 17, 2007

 

All Ron Paul...

...all the time!

Marc Ambinder and the on the significance of the Marc Ambinder and the LA Times on Paul's "money bomb" and the impact it may have in the early states.

Andrew Sullivan "endorses" Paul for the
GOP nomination.

And a cool YouTube video of the moment the campaign
hit $12 million for the quarter.

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Grumpy Old Men II Strike Back

Joe Lieberman -- the 2000 Democratic vice-presidential candidate (doesn't that seem like forever ago?) -- endorsed Republican John McCain this morning. Call it the one-maverick-to-another endorsement. Still, in 2004, Lieberman came in fifth in the New Hampshire Democratic primary (or, in his words, a "virtual three-way tie for third place"), so exactly what Lieberman's endorsement brings to McCain is highly debateable.


It's true that NH's interesting show-up-and-declare which party you want to vote in helps McCain. But, Lieberman's main reason for supporting McCain is the war and there is little evidence that New Hampshire independent voters necessarily want to go with the guy who is "strongest" on the war. On the other hand, McCain has stormed back to a very respectable second-place in New Hampshire -- and Lieberman's nod is part of a streak of nothing but good news for McCain: He's gotten recent endorsements from the Manchester Union-Leader, The Boston Globe and The Des Moines Register.


This is happening while Huckabee is surging nationally, Romney is battling him, Ron Paul is raking in absurd amounts of money -- and Rudy Giuliani is fading nearly everywhere (even NY GOPers appear to be jumping off the bandwagon).

In short, the Republican race is more fluid than ever -- and while the odds are highly unlikely that John McCain will be the GOP nominee, he's in better shape than anyone might have surmised one month ago.

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