Friday, August 31, 2012

Clint Eastwood Makes Mitt's Night

Last night Mitt Romney gave a great speech, as convention speeches go, and Marco Rubio gave him a great introduction. But the hit of the evening goes to Clint Eastwood:

Clint Eastwood: "When somebody does not do the job, we got to let them go."

Marco Rubio: "Our problem with President Obama isn't that he's a bad person. By all accounts, he too is a good husband, and a good father — and thanks to lots of practice, a pretty good golfer. Our problem is he's a bad president."

Mitt Romney: "America has been patient. Americans have supported this President in good faith. But today, the time has come to turn the page."

Barack Obama gets the chance to respond at his convention next week. We'll see if he's got a bullet left in his gun.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Chopped Liver and Onions Night in Tampa

The parade of losers was a long one.

John Thune, Rob Portman, Tim Pawlenty all aspired to the Republican nomination that Mitt Romney will accept tomorrow. Rand Paul made the personal appearance for his father Ron. They all undoubtedly aspired to the VP slot that Paul Ryan took later in the evening.

There was John McCain, the nominee who came up short in 2008, and Mike Huckabee who came up short to him. The two George Bushes showed up in a brief video, where they were upstaged by Barbara and Laura.

I missed Mitch McConnell, I'm sure that was as painful as the blogs are saying it was. Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens were painful too.

Condaleeza Rice gave the first good speech of the evening. Puerto Rico Governor Luis Fortuño and New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez brightened up an otherwise dull evening.

Finally, there was the headliner Paul Ryan. Suffice it to say he talked for what seemed like a long, long time. And then it was over.

I cooked up a tasty three egg omelet with chopped liver and onions. I guess I've lost the taste for convention speeches.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Tampa Convention Opens with a One-Two Punch

Ann Romney, wife of nominee Mitt Romney:
"I know this good and decent man for what he is. He's warm, and loving, and patient. He has tried to live his life with a set of values centered on family, faith, and love of fellow man. From the time we were first married, I have seen him spend countless hours helping others. I've seen him drop everything to help a friend in trouble, and been there when late-night calls of panic come from a member of our church whose child has been taken to the hospital."
Chris Christie, Governor of New Jersey:
"The greatest lesson Mom ever taught me, though, was this one: she told me there would be times in your life when you have to choose between being loved and being respected. She said to always pick being respected, that love without respect was always fleeting — but that respect could grow into real, lasting love. Now, of course, she was talking about women.

But I have learned over time that it applies just as much to leadership. In fact, I think that advice applies to America today more than ever. I believe we have become paralyzed by our desire to be loved."
Ann Romney makes the hard sell:
"This is the man America needs. This is a man who will wake up every day with the determination to solve the problems that others say cannot be solved, to fix what others say is beyond repair, this is the man who will work harder than anyone so that we can work a little less hard.

I can't tell you what will happen over the next four years. But I can only stand here tonight as a wife and a mother and a grandmother, an American, and make you this solemn commitment. This man will not fail."
Chris Christie makes the closing argument:
"Let us choose a path that will be remembered for generations to come. Standing strong for freedom will make the next century as great an American century as the last one.

This is the American way. We have never been victims of destiny. We have always been masters of our own. I won't be part of the generation that fails that test and neither will you. It's now time to stand up. There's no time left to waste."
Wednesday night features speeches by Senator John McCain, Governor Jeb Bush, Governor Tim Pawlenty, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and Vice President nominee Paul Ryan. I've discovered the trick to avoiding the awful commentary is to watch on C-Span during the early part of the evening, and switch over to HD for the major network coverage of the main speeches.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The First Woman U.S. President Could Be ...

... one of these Republican officeholders:

U.S. Senators:

Lisa Murkowski, Alaska
Susan Collins, Maine
Kelly Ayotte, New Hampshire
Olympia Snowe, Maine (retiring)
Kay Bailey Hutchison, Texas (retiring)

U.S. Governors:

Jan Brewer, Arizona
Mary Fallin, Oklahoma
Nikki Haley, South Carolina

U.S. Lieutenant Governors:

Kay Ivey, Alabama
Jennifer Carroll, Florida
Becky Skillman, Indiana
Kim Reynolds, Iowa
Kim Guadagno, New Jersey
Mary Taylor, Ohio
Rebecca Kleefisch, Wisconsin

State Attorney Generals:

Pam Bondi, Florida
Linda Kelly, Pennsylvania

Former U.S. Cabinet Members:

Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State
Gale Norton, Secretary of the Interior
Elaine Chao, Secretary of Labor (born in Taiwan)
Margaret Spellings, Secretary of Education
Mary Peters, Secretary of Transportation
Christine Todd Whitman, EPA Administrator
Susan Schwab, U.S. Trade Representative

OK, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer is never going to be elected President. It is nice to see all the women at the GOP convention, It's certainly not your father's GOP.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Neil Armstrong Lands Again on the Sea of Tranquility

Neil Armstrong, who on July 20, 1969 took the one small step for man and one giant leap for mankind, has passed away. He was 82.

To understand how truly great that first walk on the moon was, you probably had to be there. Buzz Aldrin was right there in the Sea of Tranquility. Michael Collins kept watch from moon orbit. A roomful of nervous flight engineers listened and waited from Mission Control in Houston, Texas. I watched on television. I was 7.

The moon landing took place in the afternoon, the moon walk that evening. I remember running home from the playground at West Sylvan School to our house on Walnut Lane in Portland, Oregon to watch the landing on black and white television. We sweated out the whole thing, from the launch, the moon landing, the takeoff from the moon, the redocking, the reentry, the splashdown, the recovery, and the quarantine.

President Richard Nixon got into the act, stamping the Presidential Seal on the quarantine trailer aboard the USS Hornet. Don't judge Nixon too harshly, nary a President since hasn't got his picture took with the Apollo 11 crew.

It is peculiarly American that we do not celebrate July 20 as a national holiday. The space race consumed over a decade and the attention of four U.S. Presidents (Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon). We trailed the Soviets all the way, until the end, when we beat them.

We were gracious in victory. Yes, on the six Apollo moon landings we planted the flag, played a few rounds of golf, and drove around in our LRVs. Buzz Aldrin even secretly took communion, free exercise of the First Amendment on the moon. And then there was Skylab and the final Apollo launch in July 1975 when we docked with the Soyuz and shook hands with the Soviets. No one was more gracious than Neil Armstrong, who claimed the achievement of walking on the moon for all mankind.

"Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed." - August 25, 2012

Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Killers Open Invite to the Romney White House

Parade Magazine got this vision of the East Room of the White House becoming a public performance venue from Mitt and Ann Romney:
Give me your White House vision.

MR: I'd like it to be open and have people feel welcome there. I don't just mean touring it, but also come to the East Room and see a performance of some kind.

Like what?

MR: Well, I would certainly want to hear from the Beach Boys, even though I know it's not the same group it used to be. Also Garth Brooks and Kenny Chesney and Toby Keith, and today's rock stars — The Killers are one group I enjoy.

AR: I love jazz, I love pop, I love rock, I love classical.

MR: I'd let Alabama come back and sing again, and Aerosmith. Different eras.

AR: We have a friend in the Eagles.

MR: These are not all Republicans, by the way. Some may turn us down, but—

AR: No, they would die to be mentioned.
The Killers?

"I swore on the head of our unborn child"

"Well somebody told me you had a boyfriend who looked like a girlfriend that I had in February of last year. It's not confidential, I've got potential."

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Legitimate Rape of Todd Akin

Congressman Todd Akin seduced the Republican primary voters of Missouri into giving him the nomination for U.S. Senate over a couple of other good candidates just a couple of weeks ago. Akin's folksy charm seemed to connect and he was expected to dance past the incumbent Democrat Claire McGaskill to the altar with Missouri voters in November. Then yesterday he got caught in flagrante delicto answering an interviewer's question on abortion:
"First of all, from what I understand from doctors, if it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down".

Today, Todd Akin made the walk of shame on Mike Huckabee's radio show:
"I care deeply for the victims of people who have been raped. They're equally vulnerable and a rape is equally tragic. I made that statement in error. Let me be clear. Rape is never legitimate. It’s an evil act committed by violent predators. I used the wrong words int he wrong way. What I said was ill-conceived and it was wrong and for that I apologize."

"Ill-conceived?" The pregnant pause that followed Akin's original remarks quickly turned into universal condemnation. He's now desperate to abort his remarks or at least administer an effective morning after pill. No one wants to acknowledge his bastard child, you would think.

The L.A. Times has traced this illegitimate pregnancy back to Dr. Jack C. Willke, former president of the U.S. National Right to Life Committee, who reportedly said today:
"This goes back 30 and 40 years. When a woman is assaulted and raped, there’s a tremendous amount of emotional upset within her body," Willke said, adding that this trauma "can radically upset her possibility of ovulation, fertilization, implantation and even nurturing of a pregnancy."
Rape is, of course, the hard case for a right to life that begins unequivocally at conception. Look the rape victim in the eye and tell her, "I know that you have been violently assaulted and became pregnant against your will, I know that the whole experience has been traumatic and deeply wounding, I know that an abortion would help you put this horrible experience behind you and move on with your life. But you should consider the life inside you as precious and bring it to term."

It is a big cop out to build into your right to life belief system that women who are violently raped don't get pregnant. If you have to believe that in order to believe what you believe, well, that undermines the whole belief system.

It's also unnecessary. The debate over abortion in the U.S. isn't about conception any more. The idea that morning after pills or even early term abortion can be feasibly forbidden is a pipe dream, both in terms of medical technology and public consensus. No less a prolife advocate than Ron Paul acknowledges the futility of that.

The real debate is over at what point after conception the rights of the unborn begin to count. Surely all but the most heartless abortion-on-demand-until-birth zygote can look the woman in the eye who is 8 to 8 1/2 months pregnant with a healthy, viable baby and say, "You waited too late, even if you were raped."

Update: Akin posted a full apology and request for forgiveness Tuesday:

Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill, the incumbent candidate running against Todd Akin, has a problem. She may be the last public official supporting Akin's decision to continue his campaign.

It appears to have started in the three way primary Akin won by 36%. McCaskill ran ads such as this one backhandedly touting Akin as the true conservative:

She titled that ad "Three of a kind, one and the same: Todd Akin". But was Akin really "the same" as businessman John Brunner or former state treasurer Sarah Steelman? How many of the 37,000 votes that gave Akin the primary victory (just 6% of the total cast) were Democrats encouraged by McCaskill? Now McCaskill is arguing to keep Akin in the election:
"For the national party to try to come in here and dictate to the Republican primary voters that they are going to invalidate their decision that would be pretty radical."

That's too cute. It will be hard for Democrats to complain if McCaskill's hand-picked challenger refuses to drop out after she has said it would be too radical to force him out, by implication more radical than the remarks he made which have led to the calls for his ouster. And if he wins ...

More McCaskill defense of Akin on KTVS in St. Louis:
"Elections are sacred. There was an election, so I think the voters of Missouri should be respected, not have some big-wig, fancy people from Washington come in here and threaten him that he's got to drop out."
How is it a "threat" to condemn the indefensible and decline to make campaign endorsements or contributions? How exactly is Akin's bungling of his candidacy after the primary vote "sacred?"

Who Knew Condi Rice Plays Golf?

The Augusta National Golf Club, which hosts the Masters tournament every March, has moved to quell any further protests against its all male membership by admitting two women. If you were waiting for Augusta to admit a feminist activist, you'll have to wait awhile longer.

Darla Moore is a wealthy investment adviser who lives with her investment firm partner husband in a South Carolina plantation home that has been in her family for six generations.

Condi Rice is an Alabama native and former U.S. Secretary of State. Her membership preemptively quells calls for a woman of color to be admitted to membership.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Free Pussy Riot or Send the Punks to the Gulag?

A Russian court has convicted three female punk rockers of "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred" for this anti-Putin demonstration filmed at the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow:

August 17 was declared "Pussy Riot Global Day" by Amnesty International. There was no amnesty for this wooden cross in Kiev, however, as a topless activist from the Urkanian group FEMEN hacked it down with a chainsaw

Sentiment in the West favors Pussy Riot with 6,552 likes and 1,803 dislikes for their video on YouTube. However, the original Russian version of their video has 11,923 likes and 12,356 dislikes.

It may be that the symbolism is lost on the West. The Russian Orthodox cathedral was destroyed by Stalin in the 1930s. In the 1950s Khrushchev turned the site into a swimming pool. The cathedral was rebuilt in the 1990s after the fall of the Soviet Union with donations from over 1 million Russians.

Nonetheless, the two year sentences are too harsh, even for would-be anarchists who might if they succeeded in their political ambitions send large segments of the Russian populace to the Gulags for much longer than that.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Around the Battleground States in 80 Days

It's 80 days to Election Day and, while one nationwide poll shows Romney leading, what we care about are the battleground states. The RCP poll averages show President Barack Obama's lead over Governor Mitt Romney has dwindled to razor thing margins in the battleground.

Battleground States: Electoral Votes 2008 Margin 7/29
Michigan 16 16.7% 4.2% 7.7%
Pennsylvania 20 10.5% 5.8% 6.6%
Nevada 6 12.8% 5.3% 5.0%
Wisconsin 10 14.1% 6.0% 3.5%
New Hampshire 4 9.7% 3.0% 3.5%
Ohio 18 4.7% 5.0% 1.8%
Colorado 9 9.1% 3.0% 1.0%
Iowa 6 9.7% 1.3% 1.0%
Florida 29 2.8% 0.6% 1.0%
Virginia 13 6.4% 1.2% 1.0%
North Carolina 15 0.3% -0.4% -1.0%
Missouri 10 -0.1% -6.0% -6.3%
Battleground Average 156 7.2% 2.4% 2.1%

To put this in perspective, President George Bush won reelection in 2004 by about 2.4% and won election in 2000 despite losing the popular vote by .5%. With just 2.1% separation in the 12 battleground states, we are looking at another very close election.

The key to Obama's reelection hopes at this point in the race is hanging onto Michigan and Pennsylvania. They would give him 36 of the 69 electoral votes he needs from the battleground states. Then Florida plus any other state would give him victory. He has other ways to win as well.

On the other hand, Romney gets elected if he wins from Ohio down. And he can afford to trade losing Ohio for winning Wisconsin, his running mate Paul Ryan's home state. He could also trade losing Ohio for winning Nevada and New Hampshire. If he wins Ohio, he could afford to lose Colorado or Iowa but not both.

What would really open up Romney's chances is closing the polling gap in Michigan, his home state where he was born and raised. That would double his ways to win.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Wildfires Burn Off 95% of Massachusetts

The Western U.S. is ablaze this summer. How much forest and range has burned? The usual point of comparison is to the size of the state of Rhode Island. By that standard, the states of Oregon, Montana, Idaho, and Nevada have each lost an area the size of Rhode Island to wildfires. In all, over 7 Rhode Islands have burned off.

The point of comparison needs to be scaled up. In total, 4,797,055 acres across 15 Western states have burned. If that area were square, it would be 86.5 miles by 86.5 miles. It's also about 95% of the 5,017,613 acres of land in Massachusetts. That's Boston to the Berkshires burned off.

There are fires in other parts of the country but they hardly compare. Wildfires have claimed 26,763 acres in the South and 24,469 acres in the Midwest. And the wildfires aren't over yet - 107 of the 153 largest wildfires in the West are still active.

Here are the stats, including only fires that have burned 1,000 acres or more:

Wildfires by State/Region Acres Sq. mi.
Oregon 835,344 1305
Montana 712,816 1114
Idaho 784,393 1226
Nevada 697,612 1090
New Mexico 364,462 569
Utah 325,529 509
California 295,830 462
Wyoming 294,215 460
Colorada 169,056 264
Arizona 123,826 193
Nebraska 78,245 122
North Dakota 62,719 98
Washington 29,493 46
Texas 14,993 23
Alaska 8,522 13
West (total) 4,797,055 7495
South 26,763 42
Midwest 24,469 38
Comparable Land Areas    
Rhode Island 668,755 1045
Massachusetts 5,017,613 7840

It is dryer than normal this summer across most of the country. In addition to the wildfires in the West, crops across the Midwest have withered without enough rain under the hot sun. But that's another story.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Hey, Hey! Ho, Ho! Old Racist Joe Has Got to Go!

Why is Joe Biden still holding public office? Why is he still Vice President of the United States?

2006 - "You cannot go to a 7-11 or a Dunkin' Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent. I'm not joking." - said Joe in an overheard remark to an Indian-American man.

2007 - "I mean, you got the first mainstream African American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that's a storybook, man." - said Joe while campaigning against Barack Obama.

2008 - "Stand up, Chuck, let 'em see ya." - said Joe calling attention to a wheelchair-bound state senator in the audience at a campaign stop who was then promptly defeated in the general election that fall.

2009 - "I would tell members of my family, and I have, I wouldn't go anywhere in confined places right now. It's not that it's going to Mexico, it's that you are in a confined aircraft. When one person sneezes, it goes everywhere through the aircraft." - said Joe advising people not to travel anywhere near Mexico.

2012 - "I promise you, the president has a big stick. I promise you.” - said Joe just this past April.

2012 - "He is going to put y'all back in chains." said Joe to a largely African American audience in Virginia.

On the last one, Joe claims the "y'all" meant the middle class. But as a self-reported middle class hero, wouldn't he have instead used the words "us all" if that is what he meant? At some point we've passed through "he should be dropped from the ticket" territory and entered "he should resign immediately" country.

All of these can be explained away as isolated remarks. Perhaps Joe Biden did not mean to suggest that no one in his family should risk breathing the same air that might have been previously breathed by a Mexican. Taken as a whole, they suggest a thought process in the old Archie Bunker mentality.

Monday, August 13, 2012

It's OK, Paul Ryan Is Only a $3 Nightmare

The Democrats have a succinct new equation to stop Paul Ryan:
Do everything we can = Donate $3
I'll let Debbie Wasserman Schultz explain the dire urgency of stopping Paul Ryan in her own somewhat less than compelling words:
As a member of the House Budget Committee, I've seen firsthand just how extreme Paul Ryan is, so I'm not going to mince words: Paul Ryan in the White House would be a nightmare.

Over the last two years, we've seen an unprecedented number of attacks on a woman's right to make her own health care decisions -- and Congressman Ryan has been at the forefront of all of them.

He wants to end Medicare as we know it. He co-sponsored a radical "personhood" bill that could have banned the birth control pill, in vitro fertilization, and all abortions -- even in cases of rape or incest. What's more? He wants to allow states to criminally prosecute women who choose to have abortions and the doctors who perform them.

We cannot afford to let this man be a heartbeat away from the presidency. It's up to us to do everything we can to give Democrats the resources to defeat the Romney-Ryan campaign and Republicans across the board in November.

Donate $3 or whatever you can today to stand up for the right of women to make their own decisions -- and to keep Paul Ryan and other Republicans from taking that right away:



Debbie Wasserman Schultz
Democratic National Committee
Talk about setting the bar low, $3 is not even the price of a latte. Mince v. minced, minc·ing, minc·es 1. a. To cut or chop into very small pieces. b. To subdivide into minute parts. Debbie, I think that qualifies as mincing words.

Olympic Observations on the 2012 London Games

(1) Team USA won and China lost. The U.S. won 46 gold medals and 104 total medals, while China won 38 gold and 87 total. Congratulations.

(2) The host nation of Great Britain won a very respectable 29 gold medals for third place. Russia had fewer gold medals, but more total medals. However, 47 gold medals and 144 total medals were won for Queen Elizabeth II counting all the medals won by Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, and the Bahamas where she is also the monarch.

(3) Palestine had 5 athletes competing and won no medals on the 40th anniversary of the Munich Games, proving there is some justice in the world.

(4) The Opening Ceremonies were magical. The highlight of the Closing Ceremonies, on the other hand, was Eric Idle singing "Life's a piece of shit, when you look at it."

(5) Speaking of pieces of shit, Bob Costas should get to eat his for announcing the result of the Canada-USA women's soccer match on the regular NBC channel just before the game was to be rebroadcast on the NBC soccer channel.

(6) The most famous badminton games ever played are those that the pairs from South Korea, China and Indonesia were disqualified from for intentionally trying to lose in order to face weaker opponents in the next rounds of the tournament.

(7) If women's beach volleyball can be played in nothing but a bra and panties, all women's sports can be played in a bra and panties. It's a classic race to the bottom. Dig?

(8) The USA women's water polo team proved that even the bra and panties can be dispensed with in the deep end of the pool.

(9) There is no makeup or jewelry in the pool, and no offense to Aly Raisman or Gabby Douglas, that is why Missy Franklin, wet hair and all, is America's sweetheart.

(10) Usain Bolt of Jamaica might just have the perfect name for the world's fastest man at 100m and 200m. It's just insane how fast he bolts down the track. No offense to the great swimmer Michael Phelps, but there are no medals for 100m running backwards or 200m skipping.

Seeing Rs Across the 2012 Battleground

At this point the U.S. Presidential race is not so much about polls as possibilities in the 12 battleground states where the election will be decided.

We know President Barack Obama can win. He won 11 of the 12 battleground states in 2008 and leads the polls in 10 of them today. With 201 electoral votes in states he can safely win, he only needs 69 electoral votes from these 12 states.

But Republican candidates have been doing very well in these states. If battleground state voters follow their choices for governor, state legislature, or U.S. House of Representatives, Romney would get 118 to 150 electoral votes from the battleground, which would put him well over the 270 he needs for victory.

Battleground States: Electoral Votes   State Gov. State House State Senate U.S. House U.S. Senate
Wisconsin 10   R R D R 5-3 1-1
Pennsylvania 20   R R R R 12-7 1-1
Nevada 6   R D D R 2-1 1-1
Ohio 18   R R R R 13-5 1-1
Michigan 16   R R R R 9-6 D 2-0
Colorado 9   D R D R 4-3 D 2-0
New Hampshire 4   D R R R 2-0 1-1
Iowa 6   R R D D 3-2 1-1
Virginia 13   R R R R 8-3 D 2-0
Florida 29   R R R R 19-6 1-1
North Carolina 15   D R R D 7-6 1-1
Missouri 10   D R R R 6-3 1-1
Battleground Total 156   R 118-38 R 150-6 R 125-31 R 135-21 -

With the battleground states very comfortable voting Republican for state office and Congress, the question is whether they are comfortable enough to give Republicans full control of the federal government. Or will they split their vote, as they are quite clearly capable of doing too.

There are 8 U.S. Senate seats up for reelection in the battleground states, all but one currently held by Democrats. While Democrats are expected to hold 3 of them (MI, OH, PA), the other five races are considered toss-ups (FL, MO, NV, VA, and WI). That means the battleground states hold the U.S. Senate as well as the Presidency in the balance.

I think it's likely come November that battleground voters will vote Republican in the U.S. House and Senate races. That means the question most will be asking themselves is who will make the best President for a Republican Congress. In other words, the face will come down to whether voters think Barack Obama or Mitt Romney will make the best Republican President.

That's essentially what happened in 1996, when Bill Clinton got reelected over Bob Dole while at the same time Republicans were returned to Congress. Bill Clinton, who had just negotiated welfare reform, was judged the best Republican. However, in this election, we have yet to see President Obama make the moderating move.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Romney's Ryan Choice Doubles Down on Midwest

Mitt Romney has borrowed a page from the Bill Clinton playbook. In 1992, the man from Arkansas picked All Gore from neighboring Tennessee as his running mate. The man from Michigan has this morning picked Paul Ryan from neighboring Wisconsin as his running mate.

The Romney campaign clearly means to pursue a Midwestern strategy, an appeal to the more moderate Republican Party tradition in the Midwest that has focused more on fiscal than on social issues.

Among twelve battleground states, five are in the Midwest: Missouri, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ohio. They collectively represent 60 electoral votes out of the 89 electoral votes Romney needs to win in the battleground states. He's got 181 electoral votes all but wrapped up in 22 states, 89 more bring Romney to the magic 270 electoral votes needed for election.

Four of the five states have Republican governors. While voters in Wisconsin and Michigan have tended to favor Democratic Presidential candidates in recent decades, they now have two homegrown boys on the Presidential ballot.

Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan brings a national appeal as a Tea Party hero for his work in Congress on budget and entitlement reform. Born in 1970, Ryan is a Gen Xer who will also appeal to younger voters. It won't hurt that he has the looks of a young Kennedy. It's a bold choice.

A Romney win in North Carolina would bring his battleground state total to 75 electoral votes. The Obama campaign plans to snub North Carolina voters who enacted a gay marriage ban just this past spring by putting a pro-gay marriage plank into the Democratic Party platform when they hold their national convention in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Where would Romney get the last 14 electoral votes he would need for victory? Well, there's Florida for 29, Pennsylvania for 20, Virginia plus Nevada for 19, Virginia plus New Hampshire for 17, or Colorado pus Nevada for 15.

In other words, Romney has five ways to win if his Midwestern strategy succeeds. Of course, the voters in those states may have something to say about that.

There is a sixth way for Romney to win. If Romney sweeps the five battleground states in the Midwest and wins Colorado and New Hampshire, both Tea Party strongholds, that would leave both Romney and Obama with 269 electoral votes each. Ties go to the U.S. House of Representatives where Republicans have the upper hand and look to keep it.

That means the Obama campaign has to defend all twelve battleground states, because the unnecessary loss of any one could give Romney the victory. The best chance to stop Romney in the Midwest is Michigan. If Romney loses his birthplace state, he'll likely lose the election.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Factor Came to Town and Didn't Even Call Me

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Green Team is Meeting in the Conference Room

The tragic shootings in Colorado and Wisconsin demonstrate some hard truths. Mass shootings can occur anywhere, anytime. The bad guy has the advantage of surprise. The police are not going to get there in time to save anyone. If you believe that bad things come in threes, you should be prepared for a third attack.

As the last two videos show, before Columbine, the police training was to secure the perimeter and wait for the SWAT team. Now the training is for the first responder to go in after the bad guy. Police get shot when they do that, which is what makes the actions of Oak Creek Police Lieutenant Brian Murphy, who was shot 8 or 9 times, heroic.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Mitt Romney Is My Personal Hero, If Harry Reid Is to Be Believed

Some stories are so obviously bullshit that they can't even be called lying. That's how I scored U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's claim to inside information that Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney had not paid taxes for 10 years.

The Washington Post fact checker gave him four Pinocchios. And we know that Harry doesn't think Mitt broke any tax laws, or he would be putting in for the IRS reward money.

Let's say its true that Mitt has legally arranged his affairs in such a way as to pay no U.S. income taxes for a whole decade. That would make him my personal hero.

It must be said that the claim is not entirely implausible. Mitt took $1 a year as his paycheck during his 4 years as governor of Massachusetts. Mitt gives a lot to charity (although it must be observed that you can't deduct more than 50% of your adjusted gross income in any one year). Mitt's wife Ann suffers from multiple sclerosis so they may have some big deductible medical expenses for her treatment. The last dozen years have seen more than their share of financial up and downs, so someone like Mitt could very easily have had some years where he lost money (Mitt did make money and pay taxes in a couple of those bad years based tax returns Mitt did release).

Journalist are beginning to ask, "If Harry Reid is lying about Mitt Romney's taxes, could he be lying about his own taxes?" So far Harry refuses to release any of his tax returns, even though he has amassed a personal fortune of $10 million over his long career as U.S. Senator for Nevada. Las Vegas, the city that runs on comps, may very well have thrown Reid a few kickbacks. You think?

In the department of situational ethics, someone dug up a statement Harry made back in 1974: "Any man or woman who will not be completely candid about his or her finances does not deserve to be in public office." Ask about that statement yesterday, Harry responded: "In 1974, I wasn't in Congress." In other words, back then he had nothing to hide.

Meanwhile Massachusetts U.S. Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren is walking back her own latest act of hypocrisy. Turns out he had already showed the press 6 years of returns, whereas she has only shown 4 years. Suddenly, 6 years are enough for Elizabeth. Elizabeth had been calling on Senator Scott Brown to release his tax returns going back twenty years.
"I think Scott Brown should release his tax returns for all the years he’s been in public service."
However, Elizabeth seems to have a problem applying that standard to herself. She released tax her returns for the time she was the Bailout Czar and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Czar. But she has not released her returns from her work 1995 to 1997 work as adviser to the National Bankruptcy Review Commission, or her 2006 appointment to the FDIC Advisory Committee on Economic Inclusion. Is it possible Elizabeth was privately getting consulting fees from Wall Street firms while at the same time holding herself out to the public as a consumer advocate?

Another hypocrite with potential tax return problems is current U.S. House Minority Leader and former Speaker Nancy Pelosi. She also has never released her tax returns, even though she held the top legislative job in Washington and was third in line to be President (and would be again if the Democrats retake the House).

In July, Nancy was calling on Mitt to release more of his tax returns but when asked to release her own tax returns dismissively replied, "Let's not be silly." Now, asked about Harry's charges on Sunday, she says "It is a fact." Then I guess it must be true. For getting a decade in taxes to zero, Mitt Romney is my hero.

Now, I will say this, it's great that the Obama campaign's focus on Romney's tax returns is leading to greater scrutiny and transparency across the political spectrum. Certainly, I've been long saying the Democrats need new leadership in Congress. If Harry and Nancy won't release their tax returns, I say we fire them.

Friday, August 3, 2012

If a Tree Falls in the Cemetery ...

I saw this as I was biking through St. Paul's Cemetery on Broadway Street in Arlington, Massachusetts. They let you do that there, unlike a certain other cemetery I won't mention.

What If Lee Harvey Oswald Had Missed?

Ann Althouse asks the Presidential hypothetical:
Assume JFK was not assassinated. Now, beginning with the 1964 election and continuing up to 2012, name the candidates for President and Vice President in both parties and who would have won. Fill in with reasons why this happened.
The thing to keep in mind with a question like this is that the Democratic and Republican Parties may have developed differently. Some politicians may never have come to national notice. Party affiliations cannot be taken for granted. Here is one such alternate United States of America:

1964 - Kennedy/Johnson (D) beat Goldwater/Miller (R) - that matchup and result was already in motion. VP Johnson convinces President Kennedy to put off civil rights legislation, keeping Strom Thurmond in the Democratic Party.

1968 - Humphrey/Wallace (D) beat Nixon/Romney (R) - Democratic Party factions unite behind Hubert Humphrey and George Wallace at Chicago convention after JFK and Johnson accept blame for Tet Offensive setback in Vietnam. Republicans Richard Nixon and George Romney embrace free market and social liberalism.

1969 - Robert Kennedy drowns when his brother Ted drives a car both are riding in off a Chappaquiddick bridge. Ted Kennedy drowns trying to save him.

1972 - Humphrey/Wallace (D) beat Romney/Rockefeller (R) – President Humphrey makes Yalta II deal with Soviet Union. Iron curtain is extended to Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, and Cambodia. Leon Panetta decides to stay in the Republican Party as he feels it is more centrist, Trent Lott remains a Democrat.

1973 - George Wallace becomes President when Hubert Humphrey dies in office, as the stresses of the office take 5 years off his life expectancy. Wallace appoints House Speaker Carl Albert of Oklahoma Vice President.

1976 –Reagan/Romney (R) beat Wallace/Albert (D) – Ronald Reagan picks Michigan Senator Lenore Romney as first woman VP nominee. Wallace blamed for ’73-’74 recession and April 1975 fall of Singapore.

1980 - Reagan/Romney (R) beat Carter/Mondale (D) - Democrats fail to reenergize the magical Minnesota-Dixie Coalition of ’68. President Reagan credited for negotiating a new Panama Canal Treaty, joining with British PM Margaret Thatcher to install Reza Pahlavi as Shah of Iran, and preventing a Soviet takeover of Afghanistan.

1984 - Romney/Baker (R) beat Mondale/Hart (D). Lenore Romney is first woman elected President of U.S. with Howard Baker as her VP. Lenore proposes a Constitutional amendment to grant abortion rights in the first trimester only.

1988 - Hart/Thurmond (D) beat Romney/Baker (R).  Gary Hart rekindles nostalgia for the Coalition of ’68 by choosing Strom Thurmond as his running mate on the platform “each region to its own socialism.”

1992 - Hart/Thurmond (D) beat Baker/Forbes (R). Gary Hart credited for “fall” of Berlin Wall as West Germany reunites with a triumphant East Germany. France elects its first Communist President. The Soviet European Union is formed. Howard Baker picks Steve Forbes as his running mate.

1996 –Weld/Panetta (R) beat Thurmond/Gore (D). Massachusetts Governor William Weld and California Senator Leon Panetta take advantage of liberals leaving the Democratic Party in the Northeastern realignment of 1994. Strom Thurmond picks fellow southerner Al Gore as his running mate, leading to a historic election night route.

2000 – Weld/Panetta (R) beat Gore/Duke (D).  Weld narrowly wins reelection after Florida recount as Tennessee Senator Al Gore teams with Democratic Louisiana Governor David Duke.

2004 –Panetta/Snowe (R) beat Duke/Feingold (D). Democratic Louisiana Governor David Duke teams with Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold. VP Leon Panetta credited for killing Osama Bin Laden in daring August 2001 Seal Team 6 raid after Panetta read report of plan to launch terrorist attack on U.S. soil.  

2008 – Panetta/Snowe (R) beat Feingold/Lott (D). Panetta credited for collapse of Soviet European Union in worst financial crisis since the Great Depression brought on by wars debts from proxy war in North Korea. Democrats Russ Feingold and Trent Lott were hurt by previous presidential nominee and Louisiana Governor David Duke’s refusal to accept timely federal help in response to Hurricane Katrina. 

2012 - Snowe/Obama (R) beat Clinton/Biden (D). Olympia Snowe is the second woman elected President. VP candidate Barack Obama recounts how he knocked on doors in Hawaii as a 15-year-old to help Ronald Reagan defeat the segrationalist President George Wallace and worked in the 1990s as a Republican Party organizer on the South Side of Chicago.