Saturday, January 05, 2008

 

John Edwards...

...is the single most annoying person running for president -- of either party.

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Open Thread

Between football playoffs and political debates, lots to talk about this weekend.

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Friday, January 04, 2008

 

Johnny One-Note

Rudy Giuliani on his Iowa loss:

"None of this worries me - Sept. 11, there were times I was worried."

Joe Biden departed the scene last night, but his basic comment from a debate earlier this year still ring true:




"Noun, verb, 9/11."

My friend Karol -- who I love and respect dearly -- disagrees.

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The Iowa Story

1) An historic achievement: On the macro level, Sen. Barack Obama, a black American won the state of Iowa in convincing fashion -- eight point over a guy who came in second four years ago and had practically moved into the state in the interim. Then, on the micro-level, he gave former first lady, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, her first electoral defeat -- and the first defeat for the vaunted Clinton political machine since Bill's first gubernatorial re-election in 1980. And lest anyone forget, the man can give a helluva speech:



2) Mike Huckabee defeated the Republican candidate who spent the most and had the largest political machine.

3) As Dick Polman noted Thursday, only one person has won Iowa outright and gone onto win the presidency the same year -- George W. Bush in 2000.

4) George H.W. Bush came in third in Iowa in 1988 -- and went on to become the eventual nominee and then won the White House.

5) John McCain's de facto tie for third place with Fred Thompson sets him up well to deliver a near-fatal blow to Mitt Romney on Tuesday.

6) At the Democratic Party event I attended, several people identified McCain as the person they were most nervous about facing in November.

7) Ron Paul crushed Rudy Giuliani -- more than doubling the former mayor's votes. The Texan has a few millions to spend over the weekend in New Hampshire and may produce a few more surprises before this primary season is over.

8) Hillary Rodham Clinton isn't dead yet. She is still the likely Democratic nominee. The question is whether can she recalibrate her campaign in the way other front-runners have done following early setbacks. She faces a major challenge, however: Is she prepared to put her husband, the former president and his administration, on the sidelines -- and make a case for herself on her own merits? Elections are ultimately about the future -- not the past, regardless of how well that moment might be fondly remembered by some partisans.

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Thursday, January 03, 2008

 

Iowa Predictions

Orders of Finish:

Republicans:

Mike Huckabee
Mitt Romney
John McCain
Ron Paul
Fred Thompson
Rudy Giuliani
Duncan Hunter

My initial hunch was that Thompson would finish third -- and thus take critical support away from Huckabee. However, a leak the day before the caucuses -- that Thompson is likely to drop out after Iowa and endorse McCain -- doesn't happen by accident. The news will likely depress any support that may have been building late for Thompson in recent days. It's enough for McCain to finish third and Ron Paul to make some real waves.

Democrats:

Barack Obama
Hillary Clinton
John Edwards
Bill Richardson

(Democrats 15 percent ceiling obviates the need to list the also-rans).

Bonus wild-card prediction: On Super Tuesday, February 5th, Rudy Giuliani won't win any states other than New York and New Jersey.

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A Sly Nuanced Political Ad...

...which will undoubtedly have people pondering its subtleties for years:




Oh, OK, I get it: These images show the latest installments in "the terrorists war on...um, themselves!"


Right?

(Thanks to my witty colleague John Wilson for the above line.)

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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

 

Money, Love & Headaches

As the Iowa and New Hampshire votes loom over the next six days, Ron Paul has the money -- evidently blowing away the Republican field in fundraising in the last quarter of '07. Of course, if he doesn't translate that into votes, it will only become only a footnote in the '08 primaries (a la Howard Dean in 2003-'04). On the other hand, a third-party run was never an option for Howard Dean. It is for Paul.

And, things are perfectly falling into place for that to happen, because...

John McCain appears to have the love as the only candidate viewed favorably
by a majority of voters .

Simultaneously, he's now surged to
a full-fledged tie in New Hampshire with Mitt Romney and is leading the GOP pack nationally for the first time in more than a year. GOP strategist (and one-time Rudy activist) Patrick Ruffini now predicts a McCain "blow-out" next Tuesday.

This leaves headaches for Mitt Romney -- whose campaign will be effectively dead if he loses both Iowa AND New Hampshire (indeed, a loss in the latter state alone would be fatal) -- Rudy Giuliani and, oddly, Hillary Clinton.

Mike Huckabee is poised to win Iowa -- though his nutty "attack ad/non-attack ad" press conference on New Year's Eve may have been self-inflicted wound that a candidate wants to avoid during the last 48 hours of any campaign. (If Romney ekes out an Iowa win, he can thank both Huckabee's gaffe and Fred Thompson mild resurgence among social conservatives.) And the
latest Zogby tracking poll has Paul ahead of Giuliani! Given early debate exchanges between the two -- and Rudy's demagoguing Paul -- such a result would have to be only too sweet for the wacky libertarian from Texas. Meanwhile, Giuliani's recent comments on Pakistan even received a slap from a usually friendly source.

With strong pro-war candidate John McCain emerging after next Tuesday as the de facto GOP frontrunner, the likelihood increases that Ron Paul launches a third-party run for president. If Mike Bloomberg also throws his hat in, the twin pressures of both an avowed anti-war candidate and a lifestyle billionaire liberal would eat away at so much blue state support that the odds of McCain becoming the next president of the United States are looking a whole lot better than they were three months ago.

So, yeah, Hillary Clinton is popping the Excedrin right about now, too.

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Tuesday, January 01, 2008

 

Pigskin Pick'em Playoffs - Wild Card Round

As I mentioned in my previous post, it is time for the Pigskin Pick'em Playoffs!

My picks for this weekend's games (with the game time shown):

Redskins at Seahawks, Saturday, 4:30 p.m. ET: The Skins have the "mo", plus they are a better overall team.
Jaguars at Steelers, Saturday, 8 p.m. ET: The Jags have already beaten the Steelers in Pittsburgh once this season. This will make twice.
Giants at Buccaneers, Sunday, 1 p.m. ET: Both teams lost their last game of the season, but the Giants at least have to feel good about their performance. Add in the fact they get a road game to start the playoffs, and the Giants seem like a good pick to advance.
Titans at Chargers, Sunday, 4:30 p.m. ET: The Chargers remind me of the recent Super Bowl winners who have charged out of the Wild Card round to win it all. They have all the talent to win it and they have the momentum going into the playoffs (a six game winning streak). If only Norv Turner wasn't their head coach. Still, they should have no trouble with the Titans, even though they only managed to squeak out an overtime win against the Titans on December 9th.

Pigskin Pick'em Playoff rules:
1. The top six pickers from the regular season (EdMcGon, David Stefanini, Robert A. George, Bill Barker, J. Mark English, and Audio Dave) are all in the playoffs. Like in the real playoffs, everyone starts from 0. Anyone else is welcome to pick the games, but only the top six from the regular season will be counted towards the final score.
2. Pick the straight-up winners of all this weeks NFL playoff 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 the kickoff of the first NFL playoff game each week (otherwise known as "The Barker Rule").
3. The person who has the most playoff picks correct by the end of the Super Bowl gets...bragging rights! (you knew that was coming, didn't you?)

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Monday, December 31, 2007

 

An A-Pauling Decision

Given obvious professional conflicts here, all I will say regarding coverage of this particular GOP debate in New Hampshire is that I agree with both Josh Marshall and Andrew Sullivan.

Josh's polling chart makes the point very strongly -- as does the fact that Paul was either first or second in raising money in the final quarter. Furthermore, this is a state tailor-made for his particular message.

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Spin Cycle

Record companies deserve their fate -- a lingering death in the face of the digital revolution.

It pains me -- a longtime music fan and a DJ (both in college and for many years afterwards) -- to say this. But the industry's perpetual insistence on finding ways to criminalize its customers leaves one no choice.

It was one thing for the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) to take the position that trading digital copies was theft (that winning argument that helped put Napster out of business).

But now, in its most recent litigation, the RIAA is asserting that making copies -- of one's own legally-purchased CDs on one's own computer -- should also be considered copyright violation!
Now, in an unusual case in which an Arizona recipient of an RIAA letter has fought back in court rather than write a check to avoid hefty legal fees, the industry is taking its argument against music sharing one step further: In legal documents in its federal case against Jeffrey Howell, a Scottsdale, Ariz., man who kept a collection of about 2,000 music recordings on his personal computer, the industry maintains that it is illegal for someone who has legally purchased a CD to transfer that music into his computer.
The industry's lawyer in the case, Ira Schwartz, argues in a brief filed earlier this month that the MP3 files Howell made on his computer from legally bought CDs are "unauthorized copies" of copyrighted recordings.
"I couldn't believe it when I read that," says Ray Beckerman, a New York lawyer who represents six clients who have been sued by the RIAA. "The basic principle in the law is that you have to distribute actual physical copies to be guilty of violating copyright. But recently, the industry has been going around saying that even a personal copy on your computer is a violation."
While it is ridiculous, no one should be surprised: The companies have been trying to pull this kind of BS, quite literally for decades -- seeing every single technological innovation as an attack. In the early '80s, the RIAA managed to get Congress to add a special tax to blank tapes, arguing that "home taping was destroying the record industry." Congress, which of course never met a tax that it didn't like, went along -- even as evidence rolled in that the people who made the most home tapes were also the people who bought the most records and pre-recorded tapes.

So, now, rather than come up with innovative ideas such as producing and distributing good music, the companies are not merely going after customers, they are going after their computers and the CDs that they have already purchased (arguably, the precedent was set by the industry's insistence on adding DRM coding to digital outlets like iTunes, thus preventing someone from easily transferring one iPod's contents to another).

No wonder artists like Madonna, Radiohead, Prince (though, in one instance, he's stupidly followed the record companies and started litigation against his own fans) and others are crafting new ways to distribute their music and making money.

If contempt is the best that companies can show their customers, good riddance to them.

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RAG Book Review

At the day job, a look at Bruce Bartlett's new book on the Democratic Party's history on race.

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Pigskin Pick'em - NFL Week 17 Results

We have two winners this week! Yours truly (of course) and David Stefanini:
EdMcGon - 12
David Stefanini - 12

Bill Barker - 11
Robert A. George - 9
Audio Dave - 8

As for the YTD standings, no great shocks here:
EdMcGon(4.5) - 152
David Stefanini(2.5) - 145
Robert A. George(2) - 143
Bill Barker(1) - 123
J. Mark English(1) - 114
Audio Dave(2.5) - 84
FunkyPundit(0.5) - 76
BL(2) - 74
SoloD(1) - 53
Dave O'Leary - 21
Rigel - 17
Jay - 9
Snave - 8
Mike - 8
Moose - 2

With only 11 playoff games left, and an overwhelming 7 game lead, I have decided to call the Pigskin Pick'em season officially over. However, I have decided to begin the Pigskin Playoffs! Here are the new rules:

1. The top six pickers from the regular season (EdMcGon, David Stefanini, Robert A. George, Bill Barker, J. Mark English, and Audio Dave) are all in the playoffs. Like in the real playoffs, everyone starts from 0. Anyone else is welcome to pick the games, but only the top six from the regular season will be counted towards the final score.
2. Pick the straight-up winners of all this weeks NFL playoff 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 the kickoff of the first NFL playoff game each week (otherwise known as "The Barker Rule").
3. The person who has the most playoff picks correct by the end of the Super Bowl gets...bragging rights! (you knew that was coming, didn't you?)

Good luck, and let the new season begin!

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