Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Cambridge 2011 Memorial Day Parade

The parade ends at the Cambridge Cemetery after winding through Harvard Square and down Mount Auburn Street.

The Tony Barrie Band Plays the Marine Corps Hymn, the highlight of the parade in my opinion.

The Veterans Section at Cambridge Cemetery with the graves of U.S. servicemen and servicewomen from World War I, World War II, and other conflicts.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day by Chris Cassone

You can get the music on Chris Cassone's CD Memorial Day from his website. I did, it's a great CD from Route 22 to Up All Night to Memorial Day.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Hangover II v. Bridesmaids Dilemma

I wonder how many dates this weekend have ended in line at the multiplex like this, "You want to see Bridesmaids? Well I really want to see Hangover II. How about I text you when it's over and maybe we hook up for a drink or something?"

Sarah Palin Brings Girl Power to Rolling Thunder

Sara Palin roared into Washington, DC on the back of a Harley today, just like you always knew she would, "in black leathers, a black helmet and heels" reports the New York Daily News.

Next on the Palin agenda is a bus trip to New Hampshire, ifkwimaityd. This will only gether better if she names her bus "Further". I call this her "my former aide called me a lying bitch in his new book but I am not afraid to show my face in public" tour.

Meanwhile, Arizona Senator John McCain, the other half of the Republican Avengers was asked whether she can take the Presidency away from Barack Obama: "Of course, she can. She can. Now, whether she will or not, whether she'll even run or not, I don't know."

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Anthony Weiner Only Wishes He Had This to Tweet

No, this is not another hacked Twitter post from New York Congressman Anthony Weiner. Just a nice day for a little baked beans, red pepper, onions, and brats on the grill.

Update: The Congressman called to protest that I spelled his name wrong in the permanent link. Oh well.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Mitt Romney's Deficit Priorities and Mine

At his Las Vegas townhall, Mitt Romney laid out his budget deficit priorities (as well as some other issues, so skip to the 12 minute mark). Let's match them up with mine.

Budget CategoryShareRomney PriorirtiesMy Priorities
Defense20%No cuts, redirect waste to boots on ground, modern equipment, updated air force, and larger navyReduce overall defense spending as our troops return from overseas, double the Navy Seals
Discretionary20%Pull way back, cut dramaticallyReview program by program, keep the effective ones, cut the ineffective
Entitlements60%Put on pathway to sustainabilityWork on cost containment now, not changes that will only cut outlays 10 or 50 years from now
For entitlements, Mitt counts medicaid, medicare, social security, and interest. I'll work with his categories and numbers. This is big picture, but you have to start somewhere.

MSNBC's Left-Wing Talk Slut Ed Schulz Gets to Take a Long Memorial Day Weekend

The Ed Show came on MSNBC Wednesday night and there was Ed Schulz announcing his suspension for a name he called a conservative woman radio commentator on his own radio show. Then he was gone. Ed didn't say how long he was suspended for but it's just a week:

"MSNBC management met with Ed Schultz this afternoon and accepted his offer to take one week of unpaid leave for the remarks he made yesterday on his radio program. Ed will address these remarks on his show tonight, and immediately following begin his leave. Remarks of this nature are unacceptable and will not be tolerated."
That's right, Ed penalized himself with a long weekend off over Memorial Day and got the privilege of announcing his own suspension.

"Unacceptable and will not be tolerated" sounds like zero tolerance but amounts to a 2% fine and a nice long vacation weekend.

Update 5/27/2011: Over at msnbc.com frequent contributor Brian Alexander has offered the "channeling SNL" rationalization in defense of slut-mouth Ed: "msnbc cable host Ed Schultz, perhaps channeling Dan Aykroyd in his old "Saturday Night Live" debates with Jane Curtin ("Jane, you ignorant slut!") ... "

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Bill Clinton Puts Paul Ryan Back in the Medicare Reform Game

Bill Clinton seemed to resurrect Paul Ryan, first in a public speech, then in some backstage remarks. You can see that a dispirited Paul Ryan was encouraged, but just what is Bill Clinton's game:

"You shouldn't draw the conclusion that the New York race means that nobody can do anything solve the rising Medicare costs. I just don't agree with that. I think you should draw the conclusion that the people made a judgment that this proposal in the Republican is not the right one. I agree with that, but I'm afraid that the Democrats will draw the conclusion that because Congressman Ryan's proposal, I think, is not the best one, that we shouldn't do anything and I completely disagree with that."

Clinton: "I’m glad we won this race in New York. I hope Democrats don't use this as an excuse to do nothing."

Ryan: "My guess is it’s going to sink into paralysis is what’s going to happen. And you know the math. It’s just, I mean, we knew we were putting ourselves out there. You gotta start this. You gotta get out there. You gotta get this thing moving."

Money Bomb Propels Michele Bachmann Across the Biden Line

It's official, as of 9 pm on May 25, 2011, Michele Bachmann is a candidate to be taken seriously for President.

She hasn't officially declared her candidacy to be sure, but she has passed the minimum mark in our book to be taken seriously, the Biden Line  - more friends on Facebook than Joe Biden. Michele now has 284,795 friends, Joe has 284,670. That puts her on the short list of candidates to take seriously with Mitt Romney and Ron Paul.

Another Republican candidate to watch is Herman Cain, who is still below the Biden Line but coming on strong with 119,075 friends. If he keeps up his current pace he should cross the Biden line in mid-July.

Tim Pawlenty, on the other hand, would not attain seriousness at his present slow rate until July 2012. Tim the Truth Turtle, I hate to break this to you, but the caucuses and primaries will be over by then.

Michele's money bomb had raised $108,520 as of 9 pm. Mitt raised $10 million at a telephon May 16 in Las Vegas. Ron raised $1 million after the debate in South Carolina on May 5. Michele will need to raise more money.

Note: Sarah Palin would be on this list if she announces or forms an exploratory committee, she hit the 3 million friend mark tonight. Mike Huckabee would be on the list if he hadn't dropped out.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Obamas Upstage Queen Elizabeth II in Ireland

First Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Prince Phillip visited Ireland. Then came President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle.

Queen Elizabeth II waits impatiently for her Guinness to be poured.

We are amused, thinks the Queen, by these quaint Irish beverages.

The Prince looks down his nose at the perfectly-poured pint while the Queen walks away without even a taste. Leaving all Ireland to wonder who if anyone got to drink the Queen's pint. A Guiness is a terrible thing to waste.

Barack toasts with a pint, Michelle with a half pint. He's got his eyes on the prize. Sláinte!

Barack quaffs his pint, "The first President I've actually seen drink the black stuff like he's not ashamed of something." That's going to leave a mustache.

Michelle Obama learns the perfect pour. Leaving all Ireland wondering who got to drink the pints poured by the First Lady.

Hat tip to broadsheet.ie, with pub pictures from past U.S. President visits, which points out that there is no law that says Ireland has to do this.

The Tim Pawlenty "Truth" Campaign May Disappear into the Iowa Corn

Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty officially opened his "A Time for Truth" campaign for President this Monday in Des Moines, Iowa.

Tim is one of those politicians who can't wait to get out of office and out of state to diss their former constituents. He even used the ugly "L" word, "I love my state but let's face it: it's one of the most liberal states in the union."

His speech hit on one truth: "Conventional wisdom says you can't talk about ethanol in Iowa or Social Security in Florida or financial reform on Wall Street."

A smart politician will talk about ending ethanol subsidies on Wall Street, financial reform in Iowa, and won't ever talk about Social Security cuts. Tim is not a smart politician and here is what he offered Iowa:

"The truth about federal energy subsidies, including federal subsidies for ethanol, is that they have to be phased out. We need to do it gradually. We need to do it fairly. But we need to do it.
It can't be done overnight. The industry has made large investments, and it wouldn't be fair to pull the rug out from under it immediately. But we must face the truth that if we want to invite more competition, more investment, and more innovation into an industry - we need to get government out. We also need the government out of the business of handing out favors and special deals. The free market, not freebies from politicians, should decide a company's success. So, as part of a larger reform, we need to phase out subsidies across all sources of energy and all industries, including ethanol. We simply can't afford them anymore."
That's a pretty bold statement when relatively small money on ethanol subsidies has fostered a new biofuels industry, fostered enormous innovation, and is creating jobs and remaking American agriculture. Because the only thing worse than having the rug yanked out from under you immediately is to have it yanked out slowly.

Tim plans to go to Wall Street and tell them they won't be getting any more bailouts (but will he tell them he'll be breaking up their businesses so none are too big to fail?). And then it's on to Florida to tell affluent retirees who could afford to retire to the Sunshine State that they won't be getting all their cost-of living adjustments (not exactly the complete phaseout he is promising Iowa corn and ethanol producers, but still not likely to get much shine in Florida).

He'll stop by a few high school graduations, and "tell young people the truth that over time and for them only, we're going to gradually raise their Social Security retirement age." How we can balance the budget now by cutting retirement benefits that won't be payable for fifty years is a "truth" beyond my comprehension.

Next, I imagine Tim Pawlenty will address the Girl Scouts and tell them we can no longer afford to subsidize them by buying their cookies.

Update: The Wall Street Journal editiorial page is praising Tim Pawlenty for his opposition to ethanol, no surprise there. Someone how this stance is said to "gain credibility" in tackling the deficit, even though ethanol is just a kernel in the bushels and bushels of red ink. It's not really credible to start with the kernel and not the bushel.

In the federal budget, ethanol doesn't even cost a penny, it's like one sixth of a penny. We are paying for it out of the penny jar, with lots of pennies left over for other things. We should be so lucky if other federal programs were so effective, or so cheap.

Here's the real truth about ethanol, to borrow from Iowa Republican Senator Charles Grassley: "it's good for our national security, it's good for our environment, and it's good for good-paying jobs."

Monday, May 23, 2011

Congress is a Drag on Favorability Ratings for 2012 Republicans

A Suffok University poll illustrates the problem facing 2012 Republican Presidential candidates. Most of them come out of state government, but what is happening in Congress is dragging them down.

Is your opinion generally favorable or unfavorable?

Democrats:FavorableUnfavorableHeard of/
Heard of
Hillary Clinton59%33%8%0%
Barack Obama51%42%6%0%
Joe Biden44%41%13%2%
Harry Reid18%40%23%19%
Mike Huckabee41%30%23%5%
Mitt Romney39%32%23%6%
Tim Pawlenty18%16%28%38%
John Boehner26%30%23%20%
Michele Bachman20%28%22%30%
Mitch Daniels10%14%30%46%
Rick Santorum15%21%26%39%
Ron Paul24%34%25%17%
Newt Gingrich29%50%18%3%
Sarah Palin31%58%11%0%
Donald Trump18%70%12%0%

This poll was taken while Newt-Trump were organizing the Wet Raccoon Club. The high unfavorables show why Sarah Palin probably won't run despite having the fire in the belly for it. Any it shows why Mitch Daniels, the guy no one has heard of, dropped out.

That explains the bottom of the list but what about the middle of the list? To understand that you must look at Reid and Boehner and the job approval ratings for Congress relative to President Obama.

Job Approval:ApproveDisapproveUndecided
President Obama47%45%8%

That's a pretty big gap. The old saw is that everyone hates Congress but loves their own Congressman. But with Republicans in control of the agenda in Congress after winning back the House in the last election, it apears the President has let them crawl out on a limb and is now sawing it off.

Americans Trust Fox News Most But Trust Liberal Media More Collectively

Who can you trust? A new poll from Suffolk University in Boston asked people who they trust most for their political news.

Q: What political news source do you trust the most?

Fox News28%

It will come as no surprise to those who follow TV ratings that Fox News is trusted most at 28%. No one other outlet comes close, including other and undecided, but if the liberal media outlets are counted collectively, they come out ahead with 47%.

The same trend carries over to personalities. Bill O'Reilly with the top-rated show leads the list. But all those liberals have a long tail.

Q: What political reporter would you say that you trust the most?

Bill O'ReillyFOX9%
Anderson CooperCNN6%
Brian WilliamsNBC4%
Mike HuckabeeFOX4%
Sean HannityFOX4%
Tom BrokawNBC3%
Chris MatthewsMSNBC3%
Wolf BlitzerCNN3%
Katie CouricCBS3%
Diane SawyerABC3%
Rachael MaddowMSNBC2%
Megyn KellyFOX2%
Bob SchiefferCBS1%
Candy CrowleyCNN1%
Christiane AmanpourABC1%
Ed SchultzMSNBC1%
Fareed ZakariaCNN1%
George StephanopoulosABC1%
Glenn BeckFOX1%
Howard KurtzCNN1%
Jon StewartCOM1%
Shepard SmithFOX1%
Campbell BrownCNN0%
David GregoryNBC0%
Elliot SpitzerCNN0%
Joe ScarboroughMSNBC0%
John KingCNN0%
Keith OlbermannCURRENT0%
Don't KnowDon't Know21%

Zeros like Elliot Spitzer and Keith Olbermann were reported most trusted by no more than a handful of respondents; that was enough to get them on the list, but not enough to register the half percent to round up to 1%. They still beat Piers Morgan, who got nary a mention.

Rachel Maddow right on top of Megyn Kelly? That could be interesting - I'd watch. Mike Huckabee on top of Sean Hannity, that's just sick. If you are still reading, the survey indicates only 1% get their political news from independent political blogs like this one.

Asking who you trust most is a bit loaded. Bill O'Reilly might get my vote if I trust no one, but thinks he's the best of a bad lot. Even Bill O'Reilly finished a distant third to don't know and none. Isn't #6 Tom Brokaw retired?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

DSK is Fast Becoming France's OJ

I define O.J. Simpson syndrome as what happens when a beloved celebrity does something so horrible that the only response fans can have without destroying their own psyche is to claim, "It must have been a set up!"

Apparently France had it bad for Dominique Strauss-Kahn (DSK), the man who would be President of France but for rape charges he faces in NYC. A recent poll found that 57% of the French believe DSK was the victim of a plot. DSK is a socialist politician and among socialist voters that percentage was 70%.

Socialists are required to believe a lot of things that aren't true. DSK sought to innoculate himself against sex crime charges in the lead-up to the French Presidential election he was expected to win. French journalist Antoine Guiral remembers DSK predicting one possible line of political attack against him being "a woman raped in a parking lot who has been promised five hundred thousand or a million euros to invent such a story."

Is it wrong to conclude, knowing what has been alleged in NYC, that DSK may have previously raped someone in a parking lot?

Rumors have swirled concerning Carmen Llera, a Spanish author whose poetry about a sadistic lover some have assumed to refer to DSK, but she denies it all:

After days of silence I am writing to you, it is a mistake to use my book Gaston, which is pure fiction, to illustrate a real event, Gaston has nothing to do with Dominique Strauss-Kahn who I have known for many years.

I have never been one of his victims as has been written, he is not a primitive, cruel, sadistic man, violence is not part of his culture, he likes sex (so what?) that is not a crime, sometimes bodies can express more than words.

But I do not wish to be literary at this moment because literature does not save anyone, it won't save him and it won't save me.

I have no idea what happened in the suite at the Sofitel, probably there was a consensual relationship, but I would exclude sexual violence, I would not want Dominique Strauss-Kahn to be a made a scapegoat for American, anti-European, or anti-French puritanism.
So no idea what happened but probably there was consent and certainly there was no violence. And what does she need to be saved from when she says "it won't save me". Association with a rapist wrecks havoc with one's self-image, whether you are a Spanish poetess or the French public.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Newt Gingrich Joins the Wet Raccoon Club

John Lithgow channels Newt Gingrich into oblivion. You know it's over when the comedians are reading directly from your press releases:

"The literati sent out their minions to do their bidding. Washington cannot tolerate threats from outsiders who might disrupt their comfortable world. The firefight started when the cowardly sensed weakness. They fired timidly at first, then the sheep not wanting to be dropped from the establishment's cocktail party invite list unloaded their entire clip, firing without taking aim their distortions and falsehoods. Now they are left exposed by their bylines and handles. But surely they had killed him off. This is the way it always worked. A lesser person could not have survived the first few minutes of the onslaught. But out of the billowing smoke and dust of tweets and trivia emerged Gingrich, once again ready to lead those who won't be intimated by the political elite and are ready to take on the challenges America faces."
Illustrator Jon White had some fun with Newt too.

Well, count me a minion of the literati if you must, but I say Newt Gingrich has officially joined the Wet Raccoon Club of would-be Presidential candidates who have made themselves into laughingstocks.

This is three strikes for Newt. The first was his "Together We Will Win the Future" campaign slogan that channeled one part Deval Patrick ("Together We Can") and one part Barack Obama ("We Will Win the Future"). The second was calling Republican Congresman Paul Ryan's plan to privatize Medicare "right wing social engineering" and not meaning that in a good way (this from Mr. Contract with America). With this third strike, I think Newt has killed himself off, again.

Whenever you think fondly of the 1990s, remember that this guy Newt was two heartbeats away from being President. That's right, as Speaker of the House he followed Vice President Al Gore in the succession order. When Newt tried to move up by impeaching President Clinton, it was he who was forced to resign in scandal.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Obama's Plan for a Viable Palestine and a Secure Israel

President Obama has outlined what he sees as the conditions for a lasting peace between Israel and Palestinians.

(1) Two states with Israel as a Jewish state and the homeland for the Jewish people and Palestine as the homeland for the Palestinian people.

(2) Permanent borders based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps and the West Bank and Gaza joined in a contiguous state.

(3) Israel must be able to defend itself, prevent a resurgence of terrorism, stop the infiltration of weapons, and provide effective border security.

(4) Palestine must be a non-militarized state that assumes security responsibility after a phased withdrawal of Israeli military forces.

Nothing new on that list and President Obama has nothing to offer except negotiations on the future of Jerusalem and the right of return claimed by Palestinian refugees. A bolder President would have added four additional conditions:

(5) Palestinian refugees may return to Palestine but not to Israel and may submit claims to receive individual payment from Israel in settlement for loss of lands and other property.

(6) Israel keeps East Jerusalem in exchange for ceding a corridor between Gaza and the West Bank and sovereignty over Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

(7) Palestinian residents in East Jerusalem and other parts of Israel may choose to remain as citizens of Israel or move to Palestine. Israeli settlers in the West Bank may remain as citizens of Palestine or move to Israel.

(8) Syria gives up its claim to the Golan Heights in exchange for a payment from Israel for settlement of claims by displaced Syrians.

Land for peace has always been a bad equation. Land for money, peace for peace, that's a better equation. In respect to individual human rights, no peace treaty should force anyone out of their home who doesn't want to move.

Update: Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu says Israel is "going to have to have a long-term military presence along the Jordan." That would be along the border of Palestine and Jordan, not Israel and Palestine. Whether that's entirely consistent with (4) it is certainly consistent with (3).

Update: U.S. President Obama has "clarified" what he meant by (2):

"By definition, it means that the parties themselves - Israelis and Palestinians - will negotiate a border that is different than the one that existed on June 4, 1967. That's what mutually agreed upon swaps means. It allows the parties themselves to account for the changes that have taken place over the last forty-four years. It allows the parties themselves to take account of those changes, including the new demographic realities on the ground and the needs of both sides"
Meanwhile, Israel Prime Minister Netanyahu has softened his rhetoric:

"The disagreements have been blown way out of proportion. It's true we have some differences of opinion, but these are among friends."
That should really be "between" friends. He means between the U.S. and Israel. The Palestinian Authority is not a friend, but of course that is why a peace treaty is desirable rather than a continuation of the status quo.

The Palestinians will clearly have a hard time giving up the idea of Jerusalem as their capital, but would they ever be satisfied with the eastern half of the city? That would just create another Berlin. Getting them to accept (5) will also be difficult as this recent statement demonstrates:

"The right of return will remain sacred for every Palestinian who was forced by the Zionist war machine to leave his or her home and land in Palestine. The Palestinians won’t succumb to extortion; either we get the home and land peacefully, or we will make sacrifices until we return."
That last bit sounds like a resort to extortion. The question is whether they will accept compensation in lieu of return. I think that's an important principle, particularly given that many Palestinians won't be able to return to Palestine, let alone Israel. Otherwise, what does the peace process offer for them?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Dominique Strauss-Kahn Denies Rape Charges with the "Greatest Possible Firmness"

Sometimes there is truth even in the most fervent denials. Here is the text of the letter of resignation from Mr. Dominique Strauss-Kahn to the Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund:

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Board:

It is with infinite sadness that I feel compelled today to present to the Executive Board my resignation from my post of Managing Director of the IMF.

I think at this time first of my wife — whom I love more than anything — of my children, of my family, of my friends.

I think also of my colleagues at the Fund; together we have accomplished such great things over the last three years and more.

To all, I want to say that I deny with the greatest possible firmness all of the allegations that have been made against me.

I want to protect this institution which I have served with honor and devotion, and especially — especially — I want to devote all my strength, all my time, and all my energy to proving my innocence.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn
Well, I can certainly believe Dominique will be devoting all his strength, time, and energy to proving his innocence. Given that he is being held without bail on Rikers Island in NYC on rape charges, he does not have much else to do.

Does he really deny the charges? "I want to say that I deny" is how his denial begins. Of course we wants to deny them, but is he actually denying them? Not quite maybe. Then he uses the phrase "with the greatest possible firmness". Not just "firmness" in the face of rape charges but the "greatest possible firmness".

At this point the allegations - seven crimes including attempted rape, sexual abuse, forcible touching and unlawful imprisonment against a 32-year-old hotel maid by the 62-year-old Frenchman - have not been proved in court.

Ordinarily that would mean that Mr. Strauss-Kahn would be entitled to bail, so that he could be free during the period before trial. But he was arrested at the airport waiting for a flight to France after he called the hotel to see if they had found his missing cell phone.

France has become a haven for fugitive U.S. criminals like filmmaker Roman Polanski, who was convicted of rape, and Ira Einhorn, the Unicorn Killer, who was extradited back to the U.S. only after protracted legal proceedings. With no assurance of extradition from France if Mr. Strauss-Kahn flees, NY Judge Melissa Jackson is quite sensibly not granting bail just yet. Talk about your Catch-22 situations.

IMF officials have limited diplomatic immunity that covers actions taken in the course of official duties. So if Strauss-Kahn had been attempting to rape a country, as IMF bankers are often accused of doing, he could not be prosecuted. But, alas for him, he is charged with attempting to rape a mere person, for which he has no immunity.

Speaking of no immunity, the New York Post has reported that the woman Strauss-Kahn is accused of sexual assaulting may be HIV positive, as it says she has been living in apartments reserved for people with HIV/AIDS. Those reports have been denied by the woman's lawyer, and could just be one of those not quite legal sublet situations, but must give Strauss-Kahn something to think about in solitary confinement if he is even a little bit guilty as charged. That is where the "infinite sadness" may come in.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn is a prominent politician in France, and had been thought to be the Socialist Party's next candidate for President of France. Supporters in France have expressed shock at seeing video of Strauss-Kahn in handcuffs. Others in France, we suspect, think it is about time.

Did Donald Trump Drop Out Because He is a Wet Raccoon?

The conventional wisdowm says Donald Trump dropped out of the 2012 Presidential race because he made a fool of himself on the birth certificate issue. Or because he was never really serious and was just angling for a bigger paycheck from his TV show Celebrity Apprentice.

"Ultimately, however, business is my greatest passion and I am not ready to leave the private sector," his Monday announcement proclaimed. Getting back to what he does best seems like a good reason.

But here's another angle. Trump has claimed that his net worth was $7 billion. Forbes magazine, on the other hand, puts his net worth at only $2.7 billion. That's over $4 billion missing from Trump's highly-touted business prowess.

In fact, Donald Trump first went on the Forbes U.S. billionaire list in 1988. But $1 billion invested in the S&P 500 back in 1988 would be worth $4.7 billion today. Invested in the Dow Jones Industrials it would be worth $5.7 billion. That would mean Trump has done $2 or $3 billion worse than if he had just put his money in the stock market.

Now it is quite possible that the net worth exaggerations started back in 1988. His ex-wife Ivana was reported in the press back in 1990 as saying The Donald was only worth $400 to $600 milllion not the $1 billion he claimed. Going from $.5 billion to $2.7 billion would be more in line with gains in the stock market averages, but would still be just average.

If you think about it, maybe Donald Trump was running for President so that he'd have an excuse to park his money in the stock market for the 2 years of compaigning and 8 years in office, assuming election to a first and second term. By my calculations, that might be worth $1.5 billion over Trump continuing to invest his money in his businesses himself.

"What's the difference between Donald Trump's hair and a wet raccoon? A wet raccoon doesn't have seven billion f*cking dollars in the bank." That was the joke Donald Trump told on himself on Commedy Central in March.

Now maybe the Donald is going to say he was only joking or that "f*cking dollars" aren't quite the same thing as real dollars. But I say if he doesn't have the $7 billion dollars he claimed to have, there is no difference between Donald Trump and a wet raccoon.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Massachusetts 10 Months and 2 or 3 Candidates Later

For Massachusetts, 2010 was an interesting year in politics to say the least. In January, Republican Scott Brown came out of nowhere to beat the sitting Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley in a special election for U.S. Senate.

In November, sitting Democratic Governor Deval Patrick won reelection against a well-financed Charlie Baker, helped along in part by an independent challenge from former Democrat Tim Cahill.

It is striking in looking at the margins of victory that Democrats picked up 255,881 votes against the Republicans in just 10 months. Tim Cahil only got 183,933 votes, probably not all from Scott Brown voters, so that is only part of the story.

Looking at the net votes the Democrats picked up from January to November by city and town, the big cities made the most difference. The 47 of 351 cities and towns with the top pickup for Democrats represesented 50% of the pickup but only 39% of the total vote.

Boston, Worcester, Springfield, Quincy, Brockton, Plymouth, Lowell, New Bedford, Weymouth, Lynn, Barnstable, Framingham, Fall River, and Haverhill were all at the top of the pickup list. The large Democratic-voting cities of Newton, Cambridge, Somerville, Brookline, Peabody, Arlington, Medford were solid for both Coakley and Patrick.

Yes, Democrats picked up votes in Weymouth where Charlie Baker meant nothing in Scott Brown's hometown. And Democrats were helped quite a bit in Quincy, Tim Cahill's hometown. But the return of voters to the Democrats in all the big cities is the other part of the story.

City or TownNet Dem PickupCumulative
New Bedford5,10716.71%
Fall River3,35421.23%
North Attleborough1,93335.96%
West Springfield1,53645.80%
East Longmeadow1,34551.46%
East Bridgewater91767.65%
South Hadley86869.71%
North Andover77874.11%
North Reading71877.61%
West Boylston60981.73%
West Bridgewater41690.65%
North Brookfield33793.46%
West Brookfield25596.02%
West Newbury20997.31%
East Brookfield13698.50%
West Stockbridge11198.98%
Great Barrington10899.15%
New Salem6099.97%
New Braintree58100.04%
New Marlborough55100.06%
Oak Bluffs47100.20%
New Ashford17100.44%
Mount Washington-19100.43%
West Tisbury-49100.35%
North Adams-68100.32%

Monday, May 16, 2011

For 2012 Republicans, Three's a Crowd, Four's a Party

It's time for my bimonthly count of Facebook friends for every Republican hopeful, wishful, wistful, or wasteful wanting to unseat Barack Obama.

CandidateFriends on 1/16/2011Friends on 3/16/2011Friends on 5/16/2011
Barack Obama17,822,15218,632,33120,413,245
Joe Biden271,971274,670282,433
Sarah Palin2,606,5862,777,5092,957,627
Mitt Romney751,391814,705899,055
Mike Huckabee522,079541,409586,020
Ron Paul307,493307,495356,452
Donald Trump146,866184,512272,108
Michele Bachmann150,467187,433258,370
Scott Brown--237,462
Jim DeMint127,177129,848133,363
Newt Gingrich100,489113,269131,779
Bobby Jindal121,977122,353125,614
Rand Paul-105,001117,287
Gary Johnson-110,466114,000
Herman Cain42,28955,72090,146
Tim Pawlenty69,98573,13586,907
John Thune75,21174,83775,211
Paul Ryan50,90856,49671,923
Allen West--64,057
Scott Walker-61,52763,129
Rick Perry51,45552,18052,854
Mitch Daniels39,41344,52849,908
Mike Pence45,92347,71248,542
Chris Christie29,38833,99036,536
Mike Bloomberg29,86230,34431,316
Haley Barbour16,85417,45918,168
Rick Santorum12,21113,25216,221
Peter King--11,232
Thaddeus McCotter--9,909
Jimmy McMillan-8,3628,675
John Bolton5,1705,6586,056
Jeb Bush4,8415,0275,300
Rudy Giuliani1,8912,1942,535
Jon Huntsman-1,5552,280
Buddy Roemer-5701,496
Fred Karger6818261,458
Jon Greenspon581584583
Andy Martin--560
Jonathon Sharkey--159
Roy Moore--70
Total Obama-Biden Friends18,094,123
Total Republican Friends5,310,731

I show the Republican field as a whole adding friends at a faster rate than Obama, 18% to 15%, but they are lagging in numbers with Obama-Biden adding 2,591,093 new friends and Republicans only 1,633,637.

Donald Trump moved up a notch, and now he's on top of Michele Bachmann. But the big news is Herman Cain, whose support has more than doubled as he has moved up 4 spots. He's the dark horse in the Republican field and is coming on fast.

Still I think you have to be above the Biden line to be counted a serious contender. As Joe Biden can't be taken seriously, and has never finished too high in the past Presidential primaries he has run in, anyone who doesn't have as many friends as Biden doesn't qualify as serious yet.

There has been a lot of talk in the press about Jon Huntsman. Time magazine is giving 20:1 odds on Huntsman. I think that's likely being 21st in line for the British throne, nice to be on the list but never going to happen. Jon Greenspon has actually lost a friend, probably journalist Mark Halperin who thought he was signing up for Jon Huntsman.

Mike Huckabee has officially dropped out of contention. That leaves Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, and Ron Paul in a three-way. Don't look back, Herman Cain is gaining on you.

Update 5/16/2011 afternoon: Donald Trump woke up this morning, checked the must-read political blogs he follows regularly, saw that he hadn't crossed the Biden line, and announced he is not running in 2012. Another strikeout.

Update 5/19/2011: People keep talking about Jon Huntsman like he is a serious candidate. However, not only hasn't he crossed the Biden line, he hasn't even crossed the the Jimmy McMillan line. That makes him a crackpot candidate, in the same category as people pining for John Bolton, Rudy Giuliani, or Jeb Bush.

Update 5/25/2011: Add Scott Brown, Allen West, Peter King, Thaddeus McCotter, Andy Martin, Jonathon Sharkey, and Roy Moore. Brown's not running but people keep asking me about him and he has a lot of friends.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Did Time's Mark Halperin Put Herman Cain as Favorite for 2012 GOP Nomination?

Mark Halperin at Time magazine has put odds on the candidates for the 2012 Republican Presidential nomination, with Mitt Romney at the top of the odds board and Michele Bachmann at the bottom. What's interesting is what that says about the candidates he didn't list.

There's a 100% chance the Republican Party will pick a nominee, but the probabilities for the listed candidates only add to 58%, leaving a 42% chance for the field of unlisted candidates.

Who is in the Republican field? Let's start with Donald Trump, Ron Paul, Gary Johnson, and Rick Santorum. I don't see how any of their chances can be better than Michelle Bachmann. That leaves Herman Cain. Here's how Mark Halperin's odds chart would fill in:

Mitt Romney3:125%
Mike Huckabee9:110%
Mitch Daniels10:19%
Tim Pawlenty18:15%
Jon Huntsman20:15%
Newt Gingrich40:12%
Sarah Palin60:12%
Michelle Bachmann10,000:10%
Donald Trump10,000:10%
Ron Paul10,000:10%
Gary Johnson10,000:10%
Rick Santorum10,000:10%
Herman Cain1.4:142%

Herman Cain support on Facebook has doubled since January. He won the first Republican debate in South Carolina. With Mike Huckabee out of the race and many considering Sarah Palin unlikely to run, Cain could be polling in second position behind Mitt Romney by the end of the summer.

Unlike Mitt Romney, Herman Cain has no baggage on health care reform. His Baptist religion may sit better with Republican primary voters than Romney's Mormonism. The Tea Party likes him. Can he go the distance?

Update: the conservative blogosphere is all abuzz about the snubbing of Herman Cain, both by Time and by Fox News:

The Other McCain
Si Vis Pacem
Little Miss Attila

Ashton Kutcher to Play Charlie's Son on Two and a Half Men

CBS has announced that Ashton Kutcher will be joining the show Two and a Half Men. He won't be directly stepping into the role played by Charlie Sheen, instead he will be introduced as a new character.

Our sources say Ashton will play a son Charlie never knew he had. Charlie Harper will be lost in the surf, presumed dead, and his brother Alan and mother Evelyn will fight over who inherits his beach house. There will be a knock on the door, and Ashton will make his entrance, tracking down the father he never knew.

We would have thought Ashton Kutcher would have better things to do than get involved in Two and a Half Men. Then we tried to think of what those things were. Nothing else came to mind. If Ashton can keep the show going for a season or two he'll at least earn some walking around money to continue hanging out with Demi Moore.

Charlie Sheen is bitter: "Enjoy the show America. Enjoy seeing a 2.0 in the demo every Monday, WB. Enjoy planet Chuck, Ashton. There is no air, laughter, loyalty, or love there."

But I am guessing though that costars John Cryer and Angus T. Jones are giving high fives all around that Chuck Lorre is keeping the rest of the cast and crew employed. Will America watch? Yes.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

President Bush Probably Thinks This Is Stupid Too

Thank you President Bush - We got him! 05.01.11
Over at the Spalding GOP store, you can buy t-shirts, yard signs, and lapel stickers thanking President Bush for finally getting Osama Bin Laden. Why?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Amy Black at Precinct on Neuve de Mayo

Amy Black played Precinct on May 9, 2011. You weren't there, you missed out, again. This poor quality video and audio is no substitute (just go buy the CD, folks):

Word is Amy and her sister Corrie Jones may part company for a while, at least in terms of performing together. I hope that means Corrie will be taking the stage in her own right.

Precinct used to be Toast and that was a favorite during the mid-2000s. DJBC spun his mashups there on Friday night, sandwiched between lesbian night and swinger night. That was quite a sandwich. Tonight I had to settle for the grilled cheese panini dipped in cream of tomato soup.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Alan Dershowitz Provides Yet Another Example of Why You Should Never Take Legal Advice from a Law Professor

That old expression that "those who can't do, teach" also applies to law professors. That's at odds with what law professors would like you to believe, that they are experts in law. But if you want good legal advice, go to a lawyer with relevant experience. Law professors too often base their advice on their own ideas of legal theory, which may have no relation to real world experience.

Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz gives us the latest demonstration of this principle in Thursday's Wall Street Journal (5/5/2011). First Dershowitz establishes his credentials as a Bin Laden deather:

"Although there should be no doubt that bin Laden is actually dead, there are grave doubts as to the circumstances surrounding his death. Was he shot in cold blood? Was he shot in the back or in the front? Were his hands raised in surrender? Was he actively resisting?"
Is Alan Dershowitz trying, just a week after Easter, to plant the subliminal idea that Bin Laden was shot through the palms of his open hands? Shame on Dershowitz for even obliquely suggesting such a blood libel.

Dershowitz then suggests that Bin Laden's death should be investigated as a homicide case:

"Many of these doubts could have been resolved if bin Laden's body had been subjected to the usual investigatory techniques routinely employed in homicide cases. His body should have been subjected to an autopsy, to forensic testing by an experienced medical examiner, to extensive photographing of entrance and exit wounds, to paraffin testing for gun-powder residue, and to other such forensic examination."
From homicide, Dershowitz goes on to insinuate destruction of evidence:

"Burying his body at sea constituted the willful destruction of relevant evidence, which naturally gives rise to suspicions that there was something to hide. ... But many reasonable people around the world will wonder whether the decision may also have been based on a desire to suppress the whole truth."
Dershowitz offers all of this a reason to see the photos taken of Bin Laden's body. Many reasonable people around the United States feel they have right to see those photos without the need to gin up a phony crime. Dershowitz continues his innuendo that a crime needs to be investigated:

"When a Muslim or a Jew is the victim of a homicide in the United States, religious considerations do not trump civil requirements. Their bodies are generally sent to the medical examiner for thorough examination. Notwithstanding religious prohibitions, autopsies are performed and organs removed for testing. No special exception should have been made for bin Laden's body."
That wanders quite bit off the field of the facts in this case as Osama Bin Laden was not the victim of a homicide in the United States. Deaths of combatants in war do not routinely get autopsied and no special exception was made for Bin Laden’s body. Dershowitz rests his case with an old, familiar bromide:

"The great Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis taught us nearly a century ago that 'sunlight is the best disinfectant.' The remaining evidence of how bin Laden was killed — the photographs and the results of any forensic tests that may have been hastily performed — should be exposed to the sunlight of publication."
You might be interested to know that Brandeis wrote this in 1913 and didn't become a Supreme Court Justice until 1916. Brandeis was writing in favor of legislation to compel investment bankers issuing securities to disclose all participants in the underwriting and the commissions or profits to be received by each. A real lawyer might build his case on an actual court decision on a relevant topic.

Lest you think Dershowitz wrote this in haste and repents in leisure, a longer version of the Wall Street Journal piece appeared in the Huffington Post.

Now I think the pictures will and should be released, but I also think that President Obama may be using the uncertainty about what may have happened to lock the other side into a story. The generals in Pakistan who may have hidden Bin Laden away in their old college town and retirement village of Abbottobad have to sweat out the possibility that Bin Laden is not dead, but alive somewhere spilling the beans to U.S. interrogators.

Pakistan's involvements with Bin Laden, Al Qaeda, and his allies in the Taliban are where the sunlight is needed to disinfect. The rest is just deflection.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Faisal Shahzad's Sheikhs Were Not in the Field

Remember Faisal Shahzad, the guy who tried to set off a car bomb in Times Square a year ago. He was a born in Pakistan and gained U.S. citizenship by swearing what he later admitted was a false oath to be a loyal American.

He's a prime example of a Muslim who was radicalized by the propaganda of Al Qaeda and its ilk. The image of Osama Bin Laden waging jihad from caves in Afghanistan and Pakistan was key to that propaganda. But we now know that wasn't true. Osama Bin Laden was living in a luxurious mansion in the city of Abbottabad, far from the front lines where his duped followers have been losing their lives fighting a losing cause for the last 10 years.

In an April 2009 email exchange, Faisal excoriated the views of a moderate Pakistani politician, urging his friends to find "a proper Sheikh to understand the Quran." Asked which sheikhs he followed, he replied, "My sheikhs are in the field."

Faisal's sheikhs in the field were Osama Bin Laden, head of the Al Qaeda, and Mullah Mohammed Omar, head of the Taliban. At the time Faisal wrote that, Bin Laden was likely already ensconced in his Abbottabad mansion. And Omar may well have been and still be hiding in a Karachi mansion.

So what do the jihadists who are fighting in the field do now? Will some of them come to realize they have been duped into the wrong fight under false pretenses? I think they will. Not all of them certainly, but the cowardly death of their lying leader may be the last straw for many.

Osama Bin Laden will remain a folk hero to many Muslims who have never been near the front lines of this fight. He'll be their Jesse James. But the Osama Bin Laden myth now has some facts to compete with.