Saturday, December 31, 2011

Gary Johnson Rings Out '11 for the Libertarian Party

If a libertarian falls in the forest, will anyone hear the sound? On Wednesday former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson sought to find out:

"I am here today to announce that I am leaving the Republican Party and will seek the Libertarian nomination for President of the United States."
Here is his 11-point libertarian agenda:

(1) I want to end deficit spending and cut federal spending by 43%.

(2) I want to enact the Fair Tax to stimulate real economic growth and job creation.

(3) I want to end the manipulation of our money by the Federal Reserve.

(4) I support the Second Amendment and oppose gun control.

(5) I oppose expensive foreign wars in places like Libya and Afghanistan where our national interest is not clear.

(6) I want to cut the over-regulation of our families, our businesses and our lives.

(7) I support a woman's right to choose.

(8) I support marriage equality for gay Americans, as required by the Constitution.

(9) I support the legalization of marijuana, which will save us billions and do no harm.

(10) I demand a government free of special interest influence, crony capitalism and corruption.

(11) I support returning strict adherence to Constitutional principles to our government.

Of his agenda, Gary Johnson says:

"Sadly, neither the Republicans nor Democrats will offer this agenda to the American people. The Republicans talk about cutting spending and taxes but insist on government regulating our personal lives. The Democrats support more liberal social policies but they will tax and spend and borrow us into bankruptcy. America needs a third way."
Conventional wisdom is that a libertarian candidacy won't matter. However, the grand old pooh-bahs of Virginia are concerned enough to require citizens who vote in their state's Republican presidential primary to sign this loyalty oath:

"I, the undersigned, pledge that I intend to support the nominee of the Republican party for president."
That's a blank check with the amount to be filled in later.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Season in Harvard Square

Pictures from the days leading up to Christmas in Harvard Square, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Bonny's near Fresh Pond

Salvation Army bell ringers at the Harvard Coop

Harvard Square Business Association feeds the multitudes latkes

Joe Kessler and the Klezwoods dedicate this one to the Arab Spring

Outside the William Brattle House

Cardullo's window display

Harvard Coop window display

Poinsettias at the Brattle Square Florist

Harvard Square Theater on Christmas Day

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Do Ask, Do Tell, and Let Me Watch on YouTube

Petty Officer 2nd Class Marissa Gaeta plants a homecoming kiss on Petty Officer 3rd Class Citlalic Snell after three months at sea. The scuttlebut is that other sailors may have helped this along by buying tickets for Marissa in their ship's first kiss raffle. So much for concerns about unit cohesion.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Bob Slate Stationer Reopens in Harvard Square

When Bob Slate closed last March it looked like Harvard Square had forever lost another one of its iconic retail institutions.

Bob Slate is back in a new, smaller store on the second floor of the Hadley Building at 30 Brattle Street in the heart of Harvard Square.

The new owner, Laura Donohue, has been working with the previous owners to recreate the Bob Slate experience. While the inventory is necessarily less varied in the smaller space, she does carry many of the gifts and supplies you could only get at Bob Slate.

Laura was director of finance and operations at Harvard Business School Publishing and graduated from Harvard in 1985. "I have been a customer for 30 years, starting in my freshman year at Harvard," Donohue says. I have too, although I doubt for old times' sake she will cash my checks made out for extra cash the way the old Bob Slate did thirty years ago.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Mitt Romney Video Roundup

Some videos from the Romney campaign:

Mitt Romney on David Letterman:

Monday, December 19, 2011

Dawn of a New Day in Iraq

Early yesterday morning under cover of night, the last convoy of U.S. troops crossed the border into Kuwait. The last unit out reportedly was the 3rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division under the command of Colonel Doug Crissman.

And so it ends, not with a bang but with a wimper, and this email from President Obama's reelection campign:

Early this morning, the last of our troops left Iraq.

As we honor and reflect on the sacrifices that millions of men and women made for this war, I wanted to make sure you heard the news.

Bringing this war to a responsible end was a cause that sparked many Americans to get involved in the political process for the first time. Today's outcome is a reminder that we all have a stake in our country's future, and a say in the direction we choose.

Thank you.

Our country has been at war with or in Iraq since August 2, 1990 when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. For the U.S., the war went through four phases: the liberation of Kuwait in 1991, the no-fly zone enforcement from 1991 to 2002, the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003 and the counterinsurgency campaign from 2003 to 2011.

The price has been high both in terms of U.S. soldiers killed and wounded and in terms of a wrecked U.S. economy. The dividends, if there are any, will come down the road and be difficult to measure. That makes it all the more important that we salute our troops for seeing this through to the end. And I hope this is the end.

Can Iraq get along without us? Let us hope so. There has been human civilization in the fertile crescent for 12,000 years.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Ron Paul Video Roundup

Some for, some against, some old, some new.

I Sense a Disturbance in the Force

Around 60 protesters were out in Boston demonstrating against the indefinite detention provision in the National Defense Authorization Act when they got a drive by from a most intimidating paddy wagon. It just "lumbered slowly by" sending the unequivocal message to keep the protest civil or be carted off to jail.

Just what is the Civil Disturbance Unit? "At the direction of the Patrol Operations Division Commander, the Civil Disturbance Unit is responsible for augmenting the Patrol Force in effectively addressing any riot and/or civil protest."

Here are the riot police that go with the bus. Such a big bus for only 10 riot police.

For such big disturbance in the force, we can only wonder if the big transit police bus cost as much as a Death Star.

Ron Paul Counts Coup In Sioux City Debate Round

Ron Paul won the first Iowa debate round last week and following last night's debate in Sioux City, Iowa has won the second round this week. On Facebook he added more net new followers (14,401) than all other Republican candidates combined (13,949).

CandidateSun 12/11 NoonFri 12/16 NoonPickup
Ron Paul621,225635,62614,401
Mitt Romney1,213,4681,220,6437,175
Newt Gingrich212,027216,9054,878
Rick Santorum35,03636,4841,448
Rick Perry175,399176,8291,430
Jon Huntsman27,72828,9661,238
Michele Bachmann459,050460,043993
Gary Johnson145,181145,446265
Herman Cain394,473390,995-3,478

That tap on Mitt Romney's shoulder is not the Republican Party picking him as its standard bearer. It's Ron Paul counting coup.

The fabled Newt Gingrich surge is over. He's down to third place in this round.

Michele Bachmann joins Rick Perry in the surprisingly still has a pulse category. Rick Santorum has moved up to fourth place, and he'll be happy to hold that spot on Iowa caucus night.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Prettiest Face on Facebook, Biggest Twit on Twitter

While Mitt Romney is the prettiest face on Facebook, Newt Gingrich is the biggest twit on Twitter. That may just sum up the Republican race.

CandidateFollowers on FacebookFollowers on Twitter
Mitt Romney1,219,951200,419
Newt Gingrich216,6031,379,077

Here are the full bimonthly Twitter counts, maybe Newt isn't the biggest twit after all:

CandidateFollowers on 6/15/2011Followers on 8/15/2011Followers on 10/15/2011Followers on 12/15/2011
Barack Obama8,628,2739,654,44610,576,75711,544,286
Newt Gingrich1,324,9041,327,0131,334,8481,379,077
Mitt Romney51,58071,882134,459200,419
Michele Bachmann52,10075,731104,362122,084
Rick Perry44,43862,89596,509108,645
Ron Paul54,45561,76370,77887,471
Jon Huntsman70411,87541,10761,399
Rick Santorum10,52917,42432,05946,597
Gary Johnson--14,11316,857
Donald Trump615,671686,929802,054911,203
Sarah Palin561,050632,179677,857702,418
Mike Bloomberg99,413132,520174,137199,761
Mike Huckabee165,040183,523185,516187,861
Herman Cain43,54258,164118,117172,087
Jim DeMint95,266110,421112,931115,256
Paul Ryan59,09472,07381,20389,628
Chris Christie42,04150,83268,65777,892
Bobby Jindal59,59861,53064,19666,787
Tim Pawlenty40,98148,99255,50862,272
Thaddeus McCotter-19,72627,47733,416
Jeb Bush14,93717,26319,86421,874
Total Republican Followers3,335,3433,702,7354,215,7524,663,004

Not much change in order since October. Herman Cain is out and Mike Bloomberg moved up a notch among the not running.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

December Is Gay Bash a Republican Month

The confrontrations between gay activists and Republican candidates for President are starting to add up.

Michele Bachmann, December 4 (sweetheart!)

Rick Perry, December 11

Mitt Romney, December 12 (actually this one is quite polite)

Not that this is anything new.

Newt Gingrich, May 18

Monday, December 12, 2011

Newt Not Keeping up with the Gingrich-Joneses

"I also pledge to uphold the institution of marriage through personal fidelity to my spouse and respect for the marital bonds of others."
Thrice-married Newt Gingrich has a problem. He hopes to pick up conservative family values voters, despite the troubling two divorces. He aims to solve it by making a campaign promise. The promise quoted above was included in a letter to Bob Vander Plaats and his Iowa organization The FAMiLY LEADER.

That's got to be a first in campaign promises, at least at the U.S. President level. Newt doubles down by promising both to be faithful to his current wife Callista and not to mess with anyone else's spouse.

That respect for marital bonds would not include his half-sister Candace Gingrich and her wife Rebecca Jones. Newt promises he will amend the Constitution to define marriage as the "union of one man and one woman." That's a vindictive half-brother-in-law for you, not wanting to keep up with the Gingrich-Joneses.

A lot of people will find other contradictions here. In the same letter, Newt says he will defend the unborn and defend the right of the people to rule themselves. However, his promises to defend the unborn extend mainly to taxpayer funding of abortion, so that adds up to libertarian.

Here's the whole letter:

To Bob Vander Plaats and the Executive Board of The FAMiLY LEADER:

I appreciate the opportunity to affirm my strong support of the mission of the FAMiLY LEADER by solemnly vowing to defend and strengthen the family through the following actions I would take as President of the United States.

Defending Marriage. As President, I will vigorously enforce the Defense of Marriage Act, which was enacted under my leadership as Speaker of the House, and ensure compliance with its provisions, especially in the military. I will also aggressively defend the constitutionality of DOMA in federal and state courts. I will support sending a federal constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman to the states for ratification. I will also oppose any judicial, bureaucratic, or legislative effort to define marriage in any manner other than as between one man and one woman. I will support all efforts to reform promptly any uneconomic or anti-marriage aspects of welfare and tax policy. I also pledge to uphold the institution of marriage through personal fidelity to my spouse and respect for the marital bonds of others.

Defending the Unborn. I believe that life begins at conception. On day one of my administration, I will sign an executive order reinstating Ronald Reagan's Mexico City policy that prevents taxpayer dollars from being used to fund abortions overseas. I will also work with Congress to repeal Obamacare, defund Planned Parenthood so that no taxpayer dollars are being used to fund abortions but rather transfer the money so it is used to promote adoption and other pro-family policies, and enact legislation that provides greater protections for the unborn.

Defending Religious Liberty. As President, I will vigorously defend the First Amendment's rights of religious liberty and freedom of speech against anyone who would try to stifle the free expression of believers. I will also promote legislation that protects the right to conscience for healthcare workers so they are not compelled to perform abortions and other procedures that violate their religious teachings.

Defending Against Debt. As President, I will undertake vigorous policies to maximize capital investment and job creation, along with common sense entitlement reforms, to dramatically turn around the nation's fiscal situation. Building upon the same principles I championed during my four years as Speaker, when we reduced the national debt by over $400 billion and dramatically reduced the national debt as a percentage of the GDP, we will reduce the enormous burden upon American families of the public debt and unfunded liabilities.

Defending the Right of the People to Rule Themselves. Today, as federal courts have intervened in sectors of American life never before imaginable, including the intervention in the definition of marriage as well as when unborn life can be protected under the Constitution, the public has increasingly come to view them as an usurpative device for unelected rulers. This abuse of power and loss of public confidence amounts to a constitutional crisis. I believe the executive and legislative branches each have an independent responsibility to interpret the Constitution, and in those rare circumstances when they believe the federal courts, including the Supreme Court, have engaged in a serious constitutional error, they can choose among an array of constitutional powers to check and balance the courts. As President, I will nominate for federal judgeships, including justices of the Supreme Court, only those individuals who are committed to an originalist understanding of the Constitution. Judges with an originalist understanding will subordinate themselves to the meaning of the Constitution as it was intended by the framers, and not substitute their own judgments about its meaning. The inherent judicial self-restraint that comes from an originalist approach to the Constitution offers the best long-term assurance that federal judges will not exceed their powers and trample on individual liberties. I will also work with Congress to use the Constitutional means available to reassert the right of the elected branches of government to defend their understanding of the meaning of the Constitution, including limiting the jurisdiction of the federal courts to decide on certain issues, when they believe the federal courts have engaged in a serious constitutional error.


Newt Gingrich

Should I have left Candace out of this for privacy reasons? Did I further disrepect her by referring to her as a "half-sister" rather than "sister"? As her Facebook page says, "Candace appeared on The Rachel Maddow Show on Wednesday 7th December 2011 to talk about her half-brother Newt Gingrich."

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Ron Paul Wins First Iowa Debate Round, Rick Perry Rises from the Dead

The everywhere-touted Newt Gingrich surge lasted exactly one debate round, according to our highly scientific and incontrovertible method of measuring support on Facebook. Yes, Newt won the 11/23 to 12/4 round in which Herman Cain withdrew from the race but has fallen now to second in the 12/4 to 12/11 round.

CandidateSun 12/4 NoonSun 12/11 NoonPickup
Ron Paul608,760621,22512,465
Newt Gingrich202,200212,0279,827
Mitt Romney1,205,2211,213,4688,247
Rick Perry171,469175,3993,930
Jon Huntsman26,44127,7281,287
Rick Santorum33,80235,0361,234
Gary Johnson144,921145,181260
Michele Bachmann458,950459,050100
Herman Cain397,352394,473-2,879

We'll see if Ron Paul can hold onto first through the second Iowa debate on December 15 in Sioux City.

And what about Rick Perry? We were ready to leave him for dead after the last round or two, but he scored a solid fourth.

Rick Santorum is experiencing his own mini-surge, coming closer to besting Jon Huntsman than he has in the last several rounds.

Michele Bachmann held her own on television, landing a double sucker punch with her Newt Romney line on health care individual mandates. But on Facebook, alas, she actually lost 16 followers during the broadcast. Rick Santorum calling her a loser probably didn't help.

By the way, didn't Santorum lose his last Senate race in the state of Pennsylvania which the 2012 Republican Presidential candidate will desparately want to win. Yes, Santorum lost by a landslide vote of 59% to 41%. If he's still that unpopular in his home state of Pennsylvania, Rick Santorum wouldn't even be a good pick for Vice President.

Perry-Brown Would Be the Perfect Brokeback Ticket

4,733,197 people have tuned in over the last 4 days ago to listen to Rick Perry deliver this message:

I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm a Christian, but you don't need to be in the pew every Sunday to know there's something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military but our kids can't openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school.

As President, I'll end Obama's war on religion. And I'll fight against liberal attacks on our religious heritage.

Faith made America strong. It can make her strong again.

I'm Rick Perry and I approve this message.
I half agree. Why shouldn't the kids be able to sing Joy to the World, O Come all Ye Faithful, Hark, the Herald Angels Sing, Silent Night, "Away in the Manger, Oh Holy Night, or Little Drummer Boy at the third-grade Christmas pageant.

Nonetheless many chose to interpret Rick Perry's not as pro-religious but anti-gay. And then they pointed out the similarlity of Rick Perry's light brown coat to the one worn by Heath Ledger in the breakthrough gay love story Brokeback Mountain.

A lot of people have been saying the Rck Perry and Heath Ledger coats are identical. They are very similar but not identical. Just queer eye the detail work.

But you can't go Brokeback with just one guy, you need two. So if Rick Perry is wearing the light brown coat who is wearing the dark brown coat? How about U.S. Senator from Massachusetts Scott Brown:

Perry-Brown would certainly be a handsome ticket that would make the GOP proud.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Hell Hath No Fury Like Donald Trump Scorned

Donald Trump announced he wanted to host a debate for all the Republican candidates in Iowa on December 27, just a week before the Iowa Caucus.

Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum said yes. Two is the minimum you need for a debate, right? And Newt has already shown himself is willing to debate anyone, anytme. So far so good.

Then the Nos starting rolling in.

Jon Huntsman - "This is exactly what is wrong with politics. It’s show business over substance."

Ron Paul - "I didn't know he had the ability to lay on hands and anoint people."

Mitt Romney, to the Donald's particular surprise, and Rick Perry begged off on being just too busy campaigning.

However, the thin-skinned putative billionaire saved his digs for Michele Bachmann:

"She came up to see me four times. She would call me and ask me for advice. She said if she wins, she would like to think about me for the vice presidency. Most importantly, I did a two-hour phone call for her with her people. ... And after all that, she announced she was not going to do the debate. It's called loyalty. How do you do that? It's amazing to me."
Can you believe the gall of the pushy broad flirting so brazenly with The Donald and then faking a headache on her own future VP selection and putting the Trump debate on men-o-pause. We will be deprived of what surely would have been an uniquely riveting bit of television.

Update 12/11/2011: Michele Bachmann was asked about saying No to Donald Trump on one of the Sunday shows this morning. "He's a big boy," she said. Ouch.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Barney Frank Doesn't Live Here Anymore

I wondered what exactly it was about the redistricted 4th district that scared Barney Frank into retirement, so I looked at the voting in the January 2010 special election for U.S. Senate between Republican Scott Brown and Democrat Martha Coakley.

The 4th district was stripped of the Democratic stronghold of New Bedford, leaving only 25% of the district population in the reliable Democratic cites of Newton, Brookline, and part of Fall River. Turns out Scott Brown carried the cities and towns in the new 4th district by 26,314 votes.

City or Town Population Brown (R) Coakley (D) Margin
North Attleborough 28,712 7,778 3,018 4,760
Franklin 31,635 8,828 4,470 4,358
Attleboro 43,593 8,598 4,819 3,779
Mansfield 23,184 5,909 3,045 2,864
Easton 23,112 5,931 3,350 2,581
Wrentham 10,955 3,880 1,414 2,466
Foxborough 16,865 4,821 2,465 2,356
Taunton 55,874 8,925 6,586 2,339
Norton 19,031 4,424 2,209 2,215
Lakeville 10,602 3,248 1,259 1,989
Norfolk 11,227 3,308 1,394 1,914
Milford 27,999 5,432 3,561 1,871
Medway 12,752 3,641 2,044 1,597
Medfield 12,024 3,842 2,276 1,566
Rehoboth 11,608 3,080 1,538 1,542
Hopkinton 14,925 4,123 2,600 1,523
Plainville 8,264 2,469 971 1,498
Bellingham* 12,638 3,165 1,686 1,479
Seekonk 13,722 3,133 1,911 1,222
Raynham* 7,719 2,061 973 1,088
Millis 7,891 2,430 1,383 1,047
Freetown 8,870 2,220 1,189 1,031
Dighton 7,086 1,770 829 941
Berkley 6,411 1,614 746 868
Swansea 15,865 3,297 2,449 848
Dover 5,589 1,888 1,058 830
Hopedale 5,911 1,619 997 622
Somerset 18,165 3,706 3,553 153
Wellesley 27,982 5,922 5,934 -12
Needham 28,886 6,894 7,654 -760
Sharon 17,612 3,536 4,461 -925
Fall River* 36,927 3,112 4,297 -1,185
Brookline 58,732 5,217 15,264 -10,047
Newton 85,146 11,352 23,456 -12,104
Total 727,514 151,174 124,860 26,314

* In order to square the Constitutional requirement of one man, one vote, with other less noble objectives in the redistricting process, the 4th District was assigned 77% of Bellingham, 58% of Raynham, and 42% of Fall River.

The redistricting scissors were also applied to Cambridge, where 52,234 residents were carved out for Ed Markey's 5th district and 52,928 left for Mike Capuano's 7th district. I suspect that state legislators working at the behest of Boston Mayor Tom Menino are trying to reclaim the 7th district for Boston from Somerville's Mike Capuano.

The new 7th is designed to be a majority minority district with 57% of district population nonwhite or hispanic. That means minority community activists will want to run a candidate to challenge Capuano in the Democratic primary. With 66% of the 7th district population in Boston and only 10% in Somerville, that could mean early retirement for Mike Capuano.

But what were the Democratic state legislators thinking when they drew the 4th? Certainly the right Democrat could win. The danger is that rare breed of Scott Brown Republican who could draw independent voters. That may be what the legislature wants. It surely hasn't escaped their notice that the new Republican Congress hasn't been returning Barney Frank's calls or emails.

Periodic complete loss of clout is a major liability for our all-Democrat U.S. House delegation - in times like these the state could sure use a go-to-guy in the U.S. House Republican caucus.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Gingrich Wins the Huck-a-bee as Cain Goes Out on Infidelity

I'm not sure we can call last night's candidate forum hosted by Mike Huckabee on Fox a debate, but it certainly brought the race back to a dull normal after the spectacular cancellation of The Herman Cain Show. That's too bad, I kind of liked that show.

But Herman Cain's misfortune has turned into Newt Gingrich's good fortune, as he wins his first debate round on Facebook. The great irony is that the man who stayed with his wife has to cede to the man who has twice confirmed his failings by divorcing to marry the object of his infidelity.

CandidateWed 11/23 NoonSun 12/4 NoonPickup
Newt Gingrich184,096202,20018,104
Mitt Romney1,191,5401,205,22113,681
Ron Paul596,853608,76011,907
Herman Cain392,326397,3525,026
Jon Huntsman24,80026,4411,641
Rick Santorum32,77833,8021,024
Gary Johnson144,584144,921337
Rick Perry171,496171,469-27
Michele Bachmann459,164458,950-214

If I'm not ready to take Newt Gingrich seriously, his support growth is certainly staying on pace, but I think he needs to pick it up a couple of more notches. He is leading the pack but not breaking away from the pack the way Herman Cain did.