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Friday, February 29, 2008

Turning Back Time

Evidently Barack Obama will be able to reverse time if he is elected to the Presidency. If he's elected, suddenly it will be 2002 again, and we won't invade Iraq, Saddam Hussein will still be in power, and Al Qaeda wont' be there.

That's the basic gist of his being called to the carpet for saying he wouldn't hesitate to send US troops back to Iraq "if Al Qaeda established a base there".

When McCain (rightfully) pointed out that Al Qaeda is in Iraq already Barack started dancing the "you're just like George Bush" two step, concentrating on the fact that it's Bush's fault we're in Iraq and McCain supported him.

That may be relevant on a certain level, but the fact is, it doesn't speak to the here and now, which is and should be more relevant than the past.

A few questions the senator should be asked, but evidently won't because it might embarrass him are:

1. Will Iraq be a safer place if we leave?
2. Will violence in Iraq continue to decrease as it has since the surge began(by over 60%)?
3. Will the Sunni's who turned on Al-Qaeda in Iraq to help the US side with a government they don't have faith in?
4. Will the region as a whole be more stable if we leave?
5. Will we have the clout in the region to help shape policy if we leave?

If the answer to any one of these questions were "no" it would probably point to pulling out being an unwise decision. The truth is the answer to all 5 is no, meaning that pulling out would probably be a disaster, both for Iraq, and US foreign policy in the region. However, that truth doesn't matter when you are panding for votes in the base of your party.

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Thursday, February 28, 2008

How About A 66 Percent Tax Increase!

The Illinois State Senate, led by Emil Jones (D-Chicago) is going to try, once again, to advance a "tax swap"bill that would raise Illinois' income tax and corporate tax rates by 66%. The idea is that you raise income taxes from 3% to 5% and corporate taxes from 4.8% to 8%, then have the state distribute enough money from that raise to drop the education portion of property taxes by "at least 20%". (Story here in the Chicago Tribune)

I've done some basic math on this and what it comes out to, in my case, is the state trading me about a 400-500 dollar property tax rebate for a $1400 income tax increase! I'm thinking this isn't a fair "swap".

State legislative Republican's are right to be staying away from this like the plague. When enough people who've got basic math skills start figuring out that this is a huge tax increase, not a swap, the folks in Springfield won't want to be on supporting side of it.

Keep in mind also that hardest hit by this increase are going to be the lower middle class folks, and those making just enough to pay income taxes. Illinois has a constitionally mandated flat tax rate, so everyone who pays income taxes will see that 66% increase. Additionally, those at the bottom of the income scale are the least likely to own a home, and get any "rebate" on their property taxes. It's doubtful landlords are going to be decreasing rent based on the lower taxes, meaning those folks get the biggest hammer.

Gov. Blagojevich has vowed to veto any income tax increase, and shrewd politician that he is, I can't see him signing one this big in an election year. However, that won't keep the Democrats in the legislature from trying to get it to his desk.

The fact a bill like this is coming up in Springfield, in an election year, shows how entrenched many Democratic legislators are in their seats. No where except in a legislature that's totally isolated from reality (and opposition voters) would this type of stuff come up in an election year.

The other economic reality to this very bad plan is that huge tax increases at the beginning of what might be a recession has never fixed an economy. Just ask the folks in Michigan if they've been able to tax their way back to prosperity yet.

I think the GOP ought to let it pass, it will make for great campaign fodder come this fall, and might actually be the tipping point for getting rid of a lot of suburban Democrats in Springfield and bring some parity back to the legislature, and create the ability to have rational discussions about how to fix the State's educational funding.

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Name Calling Politics and Smears

Yesterday's buzz in the political world was Bill Cunningham, host of "The Big Show, With Bill Cunningham" repeatedly referring to Barack Obama at a John McCain rally as Barack Hussein Obama (the Senator's given name). Everyone this side of Mars knows the reason, it's to try and get folks to think (wrongly) Obama is a covert Muslim agent or some other silliness.

McCain repudiated the remarks, rightfully so, and spoke out pretty forcefully against Cunningham, who today tossed his hat into Hillary Clinton's ring. My though, good, she deserves you.

When I heard the story my first thought was that Cunningham has been reading too many blogs, on both sides of the aisle, that think name calling is some sort of "good thing". It's not. That's not saying I haven't done it, I'm sure that searching through nearly three years of dribble on this blog you'll find some instances of such behavior. That still doesn't make it right.

The truth is the folks who call Hillary Clinton 'Hitlery', or continue with the asinine Barack Hussein Obama, or any of the dozens of names attributed to G.W. Bush over the last 7 years don't look any smarter, more informed, or "in the know" than other folks. They basically look like childish folks who are (in many cases) hiding behind funny names on their blogs.

You are much less likely to sway an opinion based on using a derogatory names directed that the candidate you loath than you are with a well reasoned argument about their positions. Enough on that.

The other big story lately is the picture of Obama in the traditional Somali garb that has been making the rounds, evidently starting on the Drudge Report, supposedly provided by Clinton operatives. Obama's camp has called the circulation of the photo an attempt to smear him. That folks, is wrong. You see, the good Senator had that picture taken at a public photo op a few years ago while visiting Africa.

The idea that showing people something you did publicly is a "smear" is kind of reminiscent of John Kerry complaining when folks showed pictures from his war protest days. Sorry, but if you don't want something to come back and bite you later, don't do it.

The one telling thing on the whole incident is the Obama camp overreaction to the picture. The better tact, than implying someone was trying to smear the good Senator would have been to explain it as Gen. Scott Gration (USAF ret) did a day and a half later:

"And in the course of this, Senator Obama was given an outfit and as the guest that he was, the great guest, he took this outfit and they encouraged him to try some of it on," Gration said. "It was a thing that we all do."

The explaination was very simple, clear and above the fray, and not buying into what Drudge was selling, which was fear mongering. The "smear" accusations, and looking for a scape goat may have shown how unready Obama and his staff are for the real tests they'll face against unknown 527 hacks and other's should he win the nomination of the Democrats.

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Monday, February 25, 2008

The DNC Makes Me Laugh

I'm getting a laugh out of Howard Dean and the Democratic National Committee's filing of a complaint against John McCain for trying to withdraw from public financing of his campaign.

The root of the complaint is whether McCain actually pledged federal money to pay back loans to his campaign, or if, as he asserts, he pledged to pay it back, with federal money IF NECESSARY. Yes, it's lawyer speak, but that's why we have a Federal Elections Commission, to sort out that stuff.

I'm not actually sure who's right on the issue of whether McCain can withdraw or not. But the reasoning the FEC is giving for him not to withdraw is that no vote can be taken because there isn't a quorum on the committee. The basis of the Democrat's complaint is that McCain can't withdraw because he hasn't received an affirmative response from the FEC on his request, due to a lack of a quorum.

Now, what's the cause of the lack of quorum (during an election year) on the Federal Election Commission? The Democrats who control Congress! They've been holding up four nominees (of six positions) since last year. They haven't gotten votes in committee or on the floor to be placed on the commission, so the FEC is unable to function correctly during an election year.

To an extent I think this whole issue is kind of funny, because McCain was the author of a number of silly election rules, but at the same time it's not. The FEC needs to be able to function correctly, especially in election years. When Congress decides to 'play politics' with the Commission it shows just how screwed up that institution has become.

Howard Dean should be filing complaints against Harry Reid and the other leadership in the US Senate for not doing their job to make sure the FEC can function, then let the commission work on McCain's issue.

UPDATE: I wasn't able to find this information last night, but the Wall St. Journal was nice enough to publish it today. One of the reasons that McCain can't get a quorum vote on the FEC is that one Barak Obama placed a hold on one of the nominations after his recess appointment ended in December. The Commissioner's sin was to have been a Justice Department lawyer who defended a State's Right to require voters to have ID cards.

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Sunday, February 24, 2008

Ralph's Back

Ralph Nader is, once again, going to run for President. I know his reasoning is that we are all dissatisfied with the GOP and Democrats, and looking at presidential and congressional approval ratings that seems true enough. The problem is that not enough people have ever been enthused enough about Ralph to make him a viable candidate.

Democrats still hate him claiming that he cost Al Gore the 2000 election. Republican's basically ignore him, like that crazy uncle at the dinner party, and the Greens for some reason seem to believe he can win and change the world.

The truth is, Nader will bring up some valid points over the next 9 months, but basically be ignored by the media, and go away again until 2012. Considering the drop off in votes he received in 2004 (.38%) compared to 2000 (2.7%), it's doubtful that he's going to be a spoiler this time around, hell, he may not get any votes at the rate he dropped.

So, good luck Ralph, hope you find a way to get your message, out, and we'll see you again in 2012.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A Great Question

In my last post concerning Nancy Pelosi's decision not to bring FISA modernization to a vote, one of the commenters asked "What in the hell is wrong with these people?" The answer is both annoying, and shows the depths of despair of the Democratic Party over the last year.

First, the contention by some on the left that this is the Democrats standing up to George Bush is a crock. Were the Democrats standing up to Bush the bill that was tabled by Pelosi would never have made it to her. Instead, Senate Democrats and Republican's worked together on a bill that would allow intel agencies to continue their work, telecom's to be protected for cooperating, and require FISA review of all surveillence within 72 hours of starting such "eavesdropping".

So, why is Pelosi holding onto it, instead of letting the House vote? That's easy, and annoying, she's placating the Daily Kos/MoveOn.org wing of the Democratic Party. The far left of the party is very very unhappy. Democrats have controlled Congress for over a year, and we're not only still in Iraq, we're doing a better job than they can stomach. No one has introduced articles of impeachment for Bush, and none of their pet projects have come to fruition.

Two years ago the MoveOn guys and Kossites decided to attack any Democrat who didn't vow to do their bidding. While they were wildly unsuccessful at getting folks they wanted into office, they cost the party a lot of money defending incumbents who were attacked, and distracted a lot of candidates from other messages.

Now, election season is starting to heat up, and Pelosi doesn't want to deal with those folks again, so instead of giving them something to complain about, the passing of a bipartisan piece of legislation, she's decided to calm them down, at our expense. At least that's my theory.

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Saturday, February 16, 2008

Do You Feel as Safe?

Nancy Pelosi say's that as of 12:00 this morning you were just as safe as you were at 11:59pm last night (Eastern Standard Time). However, that one minute was a big one. In that minute most of the intelligence collections folks in the US lost a lot of leeway in how they collect intelligence.

As I wrote last Monday, some Democrats, namingly Speaker Pelosi are more interested in protecting lawyers and terrorists than they are you. Evidently those Democrats are in the House, since the Senate passed a terrorist surveillence bill by a veto proof majority (68-29) earlier in the week, and sent it to the House. The Speaker refused to allow it to come to the floor, for a vote though. Maybe she's worried about being embarrassed by the outcome, which according to a number of Congressmen would have been along the same lines as the Senate vote.
The big sticking point for Pelosi, as I stated Monday, is the idea of retroactive immunity for the telcom companies, who in good faith provided information to the government before the current law was enacted. Pelosi wants the Senate bill stripped of both retroactive immunity, and future immunity. In other words, if your phone number showed up in a possible terrorist phone list, or as someone they might have contacted, you could sue to ask for proof there was no malice. The normal standard is the other way around, you sue to prove there was.

For those who think that the whole wire tap program was illegal to begin with, I'd say go back to my June 2006 post on the same subject, and look up the American Law Review article I referenced, and 2nd Circuit's 1984 decision in United States v. Duggan (which the FISA Court weighed in on). Both the decision and the Law Review article were written long before the Bush program went into effect.

The current law, which has expired, allowed for existing operations to continue for 1 year from it's being signed. However, no new surveillence can begin without warrants, (again, in direct contridiction to Dugan) and because of some 40 current lawsuits, it's not clear that the telecom industry would cooperate even if there was a warrant but not a court order to do so.

So, how does this cause a problem in practical terms? Supposed that Terrorist A is caught in the US, and his piece of crap disposable cell phone is taken away. In his notes are a list of half a dozen other numbers, all from outside the US. During interrogation he lets slip that a call from number 4 on that list is the "activation number", and his cell is supposed to go to work.

Currently, because that number is outside the US, intel agencies would begin monitoring it, and through cooperation with the telecoms, be told when it sends a call to the US and where it's going. Now, though, before you did that you'd go to FISA, with the attendant 100 or so pages of documents that have to be put together, brief a judge, and hope he or she says yes immediately. If they don't, you wait until Monday, or the next available date for a hearing before the panel, and outline the case, again.

So, if FISA say's yes, then you go to each of the major telecoms and ask for them to route all traffic from said number to the intel folks, so they can monitor it. But the telecoms may balk. What if it's an innocent number? What if your terrorist told you number 4 on his list and it's actually 6? Wait, we could be sued for giving you the names of the people they are calling, so please bring a court order in for the information, not just a warrant saying you can listen.

Unlike Law and Order, these things don't happen in 44 minutes plus commercials, you're talking about DAYS for each warrant and court order. Possibly longer if the phone companies decided they want to argue against the idea, in hopes that the Justice Department, or someone, will offer them an immunity deal (on a case by case basis) if they do cooperate.

Sorry, that's not the system I want to deal with when phone number 4 on that list suddenly starts hitting every number in it's speed dial. 20 members of the Democatic Party in the US Senate (40% of the total) thought it was a bad idea too, maybe Speaker Pelosi should listen to them, instead of the lawyers and activists she's currently latched onto.

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Limbaugh Litmus Test

Rush Limbaugh and many other far right pundits have come up with a new litmus test that, they say John McCain fails. So lets look at some of the points on it, and see how other prominent Republican's do on them.

1. Illegal Immigration, we all want secure borders and no guest workers.

Ronald Reagan signed the biggest amnesty bill ever seen, it was extended by George H.W. Bush (and Bill Clinton). It did nothing to secure borders, and required only a six month wait to apply for a green card, and expanded half a dozen different types of temporary worker visas.

George W. Bush championed legislation similar to the 2005 McCain-Kennedy bill that
failed, and the toughened up 2007 bill. Rush didn't rail against him in 2000 or 2004 though, when it was known he wanted to include a guest worker program in immigration reform. He'd said during his campaigns, and as Governor of Texas.

2. Taxes, everyone wants a "Reagan Conservative" to take ahold of the tax problem, and claim McCain isn't one because he wanted spending cuts before tax cuts. Yet he's never voted for a tax increase while in office.

Ronald Reagan signed at least 8 bills that RAISED taxes during his 8 years in office. Yes, he did sign some tax cuts too, but if you are being honest you have to look at it both ways. In 1983 he said we'd get $3 in spending cuts for every $1 in tax increases. In 1993 he complained that Congress never cut spending. (Bruce Bartlett of NRO wrote a great piece on this in 2003)

George H.W. Bush .... read my lips, this answer is too obvious

George W. Bush, at least he can say that he hasn't raised them, though he only got temporary cuts passed, which look to expire in a few years.

3. Supreme Court Justices. Everyone on the right is screaming for constructionist justices and worried that McCain won't appoint the "right kind" of people. But how did our past GOP presidents do? Not well, of the 6 appointed prior to GWB taking office you have 2 conservatives, 2 liberals and two swing voters.

Reagan appointed three justices, Kennedy, O'Connor and Scalia. Of the three Scalia is the only one who has retained his "constructionist" credentials. Both Kennedy and O'Connor turned into swing votes upholding Roe v. Wade and other "liberal" decisions from the Warren Court.

George H.W. Bush put David Souter and Clarence Thomas on the bench. Thomas is possibly the most conservative justice sitting, while Souter is more often than not in the liberal block on the court.

Gerald Ford nominated John Paul Stevens, a Nixon appointee to the appellate bench, and who's the most liberal member of the court by most counts.

4. 1st Amendment. McCain gets beaten on unmercifully for the McCain Feingold measure, yet Rush & Co. didn't have much to say about it in 2004, after George W. Bush signed it into law. While McCain authored it Bush signed it into law, instead of vetoing it, why didn't they cry and vote for John Kerry in 2004?

Spending is an area where McCain bests the above list, for 25 years has championed lower bugets.

Reagan only tried cutting it after the Gramm-Rudman and later Gramm Rudman Hollings acts were passed to try and reign in spending. GHWB did a better job, but still increased spending in many areas. While Democrats point to the "Pay Go" day's of the 1990's as a great spending control, like today's Paygo it's smoke and mirrors. The Pay Go bills of both eras had 4 years life spans, and new programs enacted generally waited (and still do) until the fifth year to have their full costs paid, thereby getting around the tough cuts or tax increases. This years $168 billion unfunded "economic stimulus package" is a great example of the swiss cheese like character of Paygo. We don't even need to get into GWB's spending record and lack of veto pen especially in his first term.

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Monday, February 11, 2008

I Can't Believe I'm Writing This

I can't believe I'm going to write a piece offering kudos to the New York Times, and specifically Frank Rich, but I am. Rich's current piece in the Times "Next Up for the Democrats: Civil War", outlines the nastiness that is the Clinton Obama race when it comes to race. Rich does an outstanding job of pointing out what's going on, and what the costs might be.

Rich however, makes what could be considered a big mistake, by piling onto the already high heap concerning the Clinton campaign's treatment of blacks. I say it could be a mistake because Rich and the Times could pay in the end if Hillary is the nominee. Papers and news outlets who tick the Clinton Machine off often pay, just ask MSNBC.

I'm not a fan of either Clinton or Obama, and the idea of watching the party eat itself from within actually delights me. But in the interest of fair politics, I think that both Clinton and Obama should be made to read Rich's column and head the warnings of the next 1968. Clinton especially needs to read and heed, as she's working on winning the primary, and losing a faithful constituency in the general election.

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Protecting the Terrorists and Lawyers

Congress is once again debating the FISA laws this week, and it's clear that two constituencies are in the forefront of the debate. Terrorists and Lawyers. Terrorists, under the pending amendments would have more rights than drug traffickers and child molesters. Lawyers would of course have tons of new clients.

In case you've been drinking the kool-aid served up by MSNBC and the rest of the media, let's set a few things straight. Under current FISA law if the CIA were to get a KGB laptop with a dozen agent phone numbers on it there would be NO requirement to get a FISA order to listen in on every conversation to or from that number, regardless of where it originated or ended. This is because the KGB is an agent of a foriegn government. Because Al-Qaeda doesn't represent a government, the Democrats in Congress believe that if you find a dozen terrorist phone numbers on Kalid Sheik Mohammed's laptop you should require a FISA order for any wire tap that might move through a US switching network.

If you are a known drug trafficker or racketeer, under the 1970's RICO statutes there is no requirement for certain wire taps that move exclusively in the US. Congress would like terrorists to have more judicial oversight than drug dealers.

If you are a convicted child molester and a kid disappears in your "area" (no definition given) under Megan's law the police require NO warrant to search your house to look for the kid. If you are a known terrorist though, well we should have to get a warrant, at least according to the folks in the Senate.

As for lawyer being happy, the other thing that's trying to worm it's way into this bill is the ability to sue phone companies that have cooperated with terror investigations by releasing records requested since 9/11, whether there was a FISA order or not!

Again, we'll go back to RICO, and any number of other statutes that all them to be "held harmless" for cooperating with law enforcement during investigations. Congress would like to throw that precedent out the window, but only in the case of terror investigations.

The worst part is that what's being pushed for is "fishing expedition" type of lawsuits. You don't have to be able to show that your records were gotten, you can first sue to see if they were, and then if they were sue to find out how they were gotten. And in each case, of course, you'd be able to get damages paid to you, just for having your phone number appear in someone elses record! Only lawyers could devise such a plan, since it would be a get them rich quick scheme.

How would that work, well it's easy. Say you work with a charity group that gets investigated for funnelling money to Hamas or Al Qaeda. You see on the news that the guy you worked with is arrested. You could file suit, without knowing that your actual phone records were looked at. Just the knowledge that your number appeared in HIS records would be enough to take your phone company to court and find out if there was a FISA order. If there wasn't (and there are legitmate reasons, upheld by courts for decades) you'd be able to sue to recover damages from the phone company for aiding in the investigation.

Think for a minute of the slowing of the investigative process on things that often move quicker than judges minds. Does the phone company give up the records without a warrant in an emergency, and risk being sued? What should be their overriding concern when dealing with law enforcement, possible repercussions or aiding an investigation?

When you think that FISA is the great protector of rights consider also that it was FISA that gave us the "stove pipe" rulings of the 1990's that prevented the FBI and CIA from sharing notes about terrorists in possibly in the US.

There are a lot of common sense changes that could be made to the FISA statutes, the one's being debated this week are not in that group.

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Sunday, February 10, 2008

Michigan and Florida Matter?

The Wall Street Journal is kind of slow to catch on to certain things. After both Michigan and Florida's Democratic primaries; both of no consequence yet since their delegations were decertificed; I said that someone would be trying to seat those delegates.

Low and Behold, the Journal has caught on to that idea and started asking questions about how that would be handled. New primaries or caucus's in both states, using combined voting totals have been suggested (and rejected by Florida). A convention fight on the credentials committee is probably going to be the most likely scenario, but one that Clinton wouldn't be happy with. The committee would be based on vote totals, so like the primaries, it would be split pretty evenly, and could get ugly.

The other option, that no one likes, is just telling the two states that they don't get any delegates, as the rules stated when they moved their primaries. With the number of general election electoral votes at stake no one likes that idea. Telling that many people their primary votes don't count could put both states at risk come November.

The whole situation begs for the two parties to get together, and come up with a new primary system. Possibly leaving the four original early states, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina as the first primaries, then coming up with say 5 or 6 regional dates the rest of the states vote on.

By mixing large and small states into each of the 6 groups, the likelihood of eliminating a candidate before someone votes gets reduced. It would also give the candidates more time to focus on states, instead of having 22 of the vote on Super Tuesday it might only be 7 or 8.

Here's how I'd envision the map, each region would have at least one big state, and no more than 8 states in any of them. (no, the two green areas wouldn't be voting together, I goofed with the colors).

I would think either the north east, with New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania or the midwest with Ohio, Michigan and Illinois would be the choice for the last primaries, making it even more likely that there are relevant candidates available for the voters in those states.

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Friday, February 08, 2008

Air America Hits Another Low Note

Thanks to Charlie Sykes for pointing this one out. Another reason why Air America isn't taken as seriously, and can't gain the audience of conservative talk radio. Yes, I know I've beaten heavily on Rush and Co. the last few weeks, but the fact is, I'm arguing against their ideas, and positions.

Were they pushing crap like this on their shows, I'd ask the local station to pull them from the air, as should happen to Randi Rhodes.

Maybe, just maybe, if the left on radio started debating ideas, and arguing points, instead of pushing this kind of crap they wouldn't have to be begging for the fairness doctrine to return to be heard.

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McCain All But Owns GOP Nomination

Much to the chagrine of conservative talk radio folks, Mitt Romney suspended his campaign today for the GOP nomination, all but handing it to John McCain.

Glenn Beck made an interesting point on the whole election issue in a recent posting at his site, noting that nothing would be better for him professionally than a democrat in the White House.

That might explain his recent ideas about who he'd vote for in a Hillary/McCain election. Beck and Coulter wouldn't be voting for Hillary as the best thing for America, but instead the best thing for their personal pocketbooks.

The problem is, that for the long term good of the country, Hillary or Obama would be a huge problem. Consider that 4 of the current Supreme Court Justices are over 7o years old. Should Stevens (87) and Ginsburg (74) decide to leave, who would you rather have appoint their replacement, McCain or Hillary? Yes, I know the whole "Alito arguement", which most of the far right hasn't listened to all the way through. McCain said that justice like John Roberts are the type he'd be appointing, guys who are conservative but not in a confrontational way as Alito can be.

Worse, consider if Kennedy or Scalia both 71 were to retire with Hillary in the White House. Replacing a reliable conservative and the current swing vote on the court with two Ginsburgs probably wouldn't be a great thing.

On the topic of health care, how many folks really think that after electing Hillary, and getting some sort of HillaryCare passed we could just undo that after the next election? If you raised your hand go to the corner and put on a dunce hat. Killing a federal program, especially ones that the arguements "for the children" or "saving grandma" can be applied to is impossible. Look at the fight over common sense market reforms for Social Security, making it so that it would actually grow at a faster rate than the government IOU's the trust fund contains do now. It didn't happen because it was demonized. Try and kill health insurance for a few million see how that works out.

On the subject of money, while McCain argued against the Bush tax cuts, he's said he'd make them permanent. Hillary and Barrack won't, period. Add to that the fact McCain's biggest arguement against them wasn't the class warfare one that Rush clings to like a life preserver, but the growth of federal spending. He wanted spending cut before taxes. Considering that position it's likely he'd actually try and cut spending from our bloated 3.1 trillion dollar budget. Does anyone think that either Obama or Clinton is going to champion smaller budgets anywhere but the Defense Department?

When I think of those three issues; whether I'm crazy about McCain's stance on some other things or not; I can't stomach the idea of a Obama or Clinton White House controlling them. If you can you've got a lot stronger stomach than me.

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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Super Tuesday Fizzles

Many years ago; unfortunately not so many that I can't remember; there was no "Super Tuesday" primary races. Primaries were scatter from hell to breakfast, so to speak, starting in January and running meaningfully through late April. However, the parties didn't really like that, as they didn't get a presumptive nominee until pretty late in the game, especially when they had to run against an incumbent. Instead of concentrating on the other camp's candidates, they were having to argue with and beat up those in their own party.

Super Tuesday was supposed to be the solution, a big enough block of states, including 4 of the big ones, California, New York, New Jersey, and Illinois. A day big enough to make the nominee known, so that money could be spent on fighting the enemy, not one's own family.

Yesterday, however, fizzled as far as Super Tuesday's go, especially for the democrats. Instead of coming out with a presumptive nominee, they have a dead heat, and a lot of primaries to go, and the possibility of going to the convention without a clear cut winner.

For the GOP the far right isn't happy, John McCain has built a pretty close to insurmountable lead, especially with Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee splitting the vote of those who don't support McCain. While both of the others have said they are sticking around, it won't be easy to raise the gobs of cash needed to keep going with McCain holding better than a 2-1 delegate lead over both of them.

One interesting number, to me, came out of yesterday, it was the numbers on independent voters in the GOP contests. Nearly 70% of them went for McCain. While a lot of the talking heads are pointing to his less than 40% of self id'd conservatives voting for McCain the independent number is as big, or bigger. You can't win general elections without getting independents to listen to you. McCain seems to be able to do that much better than either other candidate in that race.

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Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Confused Voting Systems

I've got my "Proud To Vote" sticker on my shirt. It should read "Proud I Could Figure Out The Primary Ballot".

You see, in Illinois, we not only have a closed primary, but we have a confusing one. In the presidential race you not only vote for the primary candidate of your choosing, but you vote separately for the delegates to the national convention. So, on my ballot I voted for Fred Thompson (I know he's out of the race, I still like him) and then voted for two his delegates, with the third delegate vote going to McCain.

I haven't quite figured out why we need to vote separately on the candidate and the delegates, however, it is nice to be able to split your vote in that manner. In my case I could say "Fred was my guy", and at the same time give a delegate vote to the guy I'll settle for since Fred and Rudy dropped out.

Some I've talked to have used to to express a preference for a candidate, but to send a reminder that somone elses positions might make more sense to them on some platform issues. Others I know vote opposite of how I did, for the candidate that's still in the race, but for the delegates of the one who dropped.

Anyway enough rambling, I did my civic duty, and I hope the folks in all those others states holding primaries do theirs. If the number of voters at our polling place before 7am is any indication Illinois should be having a great turnout.

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Monday, February 04, 2008

Super Line after the Super Bowl

I've been disecting all of the post Super Bowl XLII stuff this morning, basking in the afterglow of Tom Brady not winning. And I think I've found, in Matt Crossman's Sporting News column, the best line about the 2007 Patriots.

As good as 18-1 is, no Super Bowl championship means no place in history, except among the losers and almosts. The Patriots likely are the best Super Bowl losers of all time, which ranks right there with being the smartest Baldwin brother.

What New England did this year was amazing, but between Brady's sudden smuggness, and Belichick's grumpy old coach crap, I tired of them about week 14, and wanted to see them lose to someone.

New England now gets to join Dwight Clark, who caught "the catch" that is now "the other catch", and John Elway, who now has "just another drive" on the sidelines of history. The Giants get to join the Jets in the annuls of Super Upsets. Eli Manning's Drive, and David Tyree's Catch will be the highlights of this game, not Brady holding up a 4th trophy.

Now to get on with the longest part of winter, the part with no football, and 5-9 inches of snow predicted for tomorrow night. Last nights four inches didn't seem like much, because there was football to dull it.

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Saturday, February 02, 2008

McCain Derangement Syndrome

I just finished watching the video of Ann Coulter saying she'll campaign for Hillary if John McCain wins the GOP nomination and thought to myself, "wow, she's more screwed up than the liberals with Bush Derangement Syndrome".

Micheal Medved had a post up last week entitled "Six Big Lies About McCain" that I don't totally agree with (especially McCain Feingold), but many of his points make sense, and directly attack Coulter's positions. Specifically Ann, and many talking heads including Rush, and Hannity continue to claim McCain wants "higher taxes"; yet in 25 years in public office he's never voted for a tax increase.

As for the Bush tax cuts, he voted against them, yes, but on the floor of the Senate said that he'd vote for them, if Congress first passed spending cuts. That's far from being "liberal on taxes", it's actually the most fiscally conservative position there is. Considering what direction federal spending has gone over the last 20 years, Democrat or Republican's in control of Congress and the White House, it actually sounds like he was the voice of reason.

As for immigration reform, I think Medved did a spectacular job of actually reading what was in the bill that so many folks on the right have been railing against, but so few actually read, or understood. By the way, Limbaugh is at the head of that list. Specifically the fact that the "amnesty" so many railed about consisted of $6000 in fines, all back taxes, and a 6-14 year wait for actual citizenship, with deportation for any criminal offense during that period. And none of it beginning until Congress certified the border secure.

On top of that is the simple math of the immigration problem. Last week 7.7 million American's claimed to be unemployed and looking for work. At the same time between 8.5 and 10 million illegals (of the 12-13 million here) are supposedly holding jobs here. So, if we deport all of the illegals then we have a problem, as there will be somewhere between 800,000 and 2.3 million jobs with no one to fill them. If of course everyone looking for work was actually willing to do the jobs that illegals are currently doing, my guess is there is a fat chance of that happening.
In other words, you can either tell a few thousand employers to do without enough work and probably have some close, or you can have some sort of guest worker program. Again, that's not a liberal or conservative position, that's a mathematical one.

Back to Coulter, do I believe she'd campaign for Hillary instead of either sitting on the sideline or voting for McCain,? I'm not sure, but I do know that it's been a few months since she made a headline, so this is her probably her latest lame attempt to stay in the news. Ann's a lot of things, but mostly she's an attention whore who hates to be out of the news for any length of time.

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