January 18, 2008

So we have four GOP caucases and/or primaries and three winners: Mike Huckabee in Iowa, John McCain in New Hampshire, and Mitt Romney an insignificant victory in the Wyoming caucuses and the Michigan primary. At this stage, all you can say is that there is no frontrunner and no one (at least if you trust the polls) with any aspect of momentum.

Or is there? If you look at all the conservative weblogs out there, there is obviously no one candidate people are willing to get behind right now, and I see no reason for this to change in this election season. Whether it’s because (as I believe) that, unlike the Democrats (who love to talk the talk about being a “big umbrella” party when all their candidates are nothing more than echo chambers of one another), the GOP is a big enough and wide enough party to produce a wide variety of candidates, or simply that that there really isn’t one perfect “one size fits all” candidate that conservatives can rally around, this is not likely to change even after the February 5 “Super Tuesday” primaries.

Actually the same holds true on the Democrats side as well, where Obama and Hillary! are (or at least appear to be) neck-in-neck for the battle for their own party’s nomination.

So what will it take to reveal the last man (or woman) standing? As I’ve mentioned before, watch the races slowly come down to the issue of electability – who can run the best against the other party’s nominee in a general election. For the GOP (as NRO’s Cliff May writes in today’s Corner blog), as much as conservatives would love to have one of their own be the GOP nominee, sooner or later they may have to realize that nominating one of their own won’t do them a whole lotta good if come Election Night, all their candidate is doing is delivering a concession speech:

Now I like all the candidates (OK, except Ron Paul) and I still haven’t made up my mind who I like best. I’m still not committed to any of them, I can still be sold.

It’s also true that I disagree with McCain on many issues.

That said, it does seem worth emphasizing that a candidate who wins the nomination this spring and then goes on to lose the election in the fall will have achieved nothing — no matter what he says in his concession speech.

And should the Republican candidate lose in November, that almost certainly will mean that the White House, the Senate, the House, a majority of governorships and a majority of state legislatures will be in Democratic hands for a minimum of four years — much longer if the Democrats use their monopoly power creatively, e.g. by gerrymandering House seats and/or making Washington, D.C. a “state” with two senators. And don’t forget about the Supreme Court. An appointment there is a gift that can keep on giving for a generation or more.

Hence, I can see that halo of “electability” surrounding John McCain in coming weeks. Like him or not – and, unlike a majority (I think) of conservatives and Republicans who decidely do not, I do, he is the one candidate that consistently bests Hillary! in state head-to-head polling, espcially in hotly-contested and electoral vote-rich states like Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. Would conservatives swallow hard and choose McCain if it meant keeping Hillary! or Obama out of the White House? I guess that would have to remain to be seen.

One final thought about how things might also end up working McCain’s way: several weeks ago, before talk of an economic slowdown and/or recession and economic stimulus packages became all the rage, McCain’s relatively weak stand on immigration was hurting him among the party faithful. I wonder if, as Rich Lowry writes, voters may now be looking at the economy as a more important issue than immigration (rather than vice-versa)? If so, this might insulate McCain from an issue that would otherwise torpedo him among the independent and moderate Republican voters who are known to favor him most.

Will this work in McCain’s favor? To what degree is anyone’s guess, but I’m guessing this Saturday’s South Carolina primary might very well turn out to be the most significant thus far.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 01:04 | Comments Off on McCain’s Electability?
January 17, 2008

This is a riveting post. Not much else to say except just be glad you live in the good ol’ USA.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 13:26 | Comments Off on Dinner in Kabul
January 16, 2008

hawaii It’s the middle of January. In some places, there’s snow up your arse. In others, people are walking around in 65-degree weather in winter coats and shorts – no lie. I think we all need a break, don’t you?

Here’s my recommendation. We currently have on our CD tray – OK, OK, it’s old technology – the following CDs:

* Boat Days In Hawaii by Moana Chang

* Ukelele Boy by Elua Kane

* Vanishing Treasures by Hawaiian Style Band

* Tikis And Bikinis by Martini Kings

* Drew’s Famous Aloha Party Music

Go to these web sites and grab yourself these CDs, put them on shuffle, make yourself a very large Pusser’s Painkiller (I’d recommend the #3) or favorite tropical cocktail, and sail away to the islands!

Sometimes existing rather than living is the best you can do.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:45 | Comments (3)
January 15, 2008

Obama’s playing the race card. Hillary!’s playing the gender card. John Edwards is playing the class card. McCain and Romney, and Thompson and Huckabee are engaged in, er, spitting contests. Ron Paul and his supporters are a bunch of wackos. Dennis Kucinich saw a UFO.

Sigh. Here’s a great song from John Lennon’s “Imagine” album. His lyrics stand as one of the best all-time political polemics I’ve ever seen:

Im sick and tired of hearing things
From uptight, short-sighted, narrow-minded hypocritics
All I want is the truth
Just gimme some truth

Ive had enough of reading things
By neurotic, psychotic, pig-headed politicians
All I want is the truth
Just gimme some truth

No short-haired, yellow-bellied, son of tricky dicky
Is gonna mother hubbard soft soap me
With just a pocketful of hope
Money for dope
Money for rope

No short-haired, yellow-bellied, son of tricky dicky
Is gonna mother hubbard soft soap me
With just a pocketful of soap
Money for dope
Money for rope

Im sick to death of seeing things
From tight-lipped, condescending, mamas little chauvinists
All I want is the truth
Just gimme some truth now

Ive had enough of watching scenes
Of schizophrenic, ego-centric, paranoiac prima-donnas
All I want is the truth now
Just gimme some truth

No short-haired, yellow-bellied, son of tricky dicky
Is gonna mother hubbard soft soap me
With just a pocketful of soap
Its money for dope
Money for rope

Ah, Im sick and tired of hearing things
From uptight, short-sighted, narrow-minded hypocrites
All I want is the truth now
Just gimme some truth now

Ive had enough of reading things
By neurotic, psychotic, pig-headed politicians
All I want is the truth now
Just gimme some truth now

All I want is the truth now
Just gimme some truth now
All I want is the truth
Just gimme some truth
All I want is the truth
Just gimme some truth

Just because the political anger and frustration feels right tonight.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 01:43 | Comments Off on Gimme Some Truth
January 14, 2008

This sucks. Not much else to say, the Red Sox are bringing back the surly pantload:

The Red Sox are close to consummating a one-year deal to bring back backup catcher Doug Mirabelli for the 2008 season. With the backup catching (and overall catching) markets slim pickings this offseason, the Sox bring back the catcher who has been with the team since the 2001 season (other than a brief stint with the Padres, when he was traded away and traded back).

Just a few details, including a physical, are left to finalize before the deal should be completed. Mirabelli earned $750,000 in the same capacity last season, but he will take a pay cut, with his base salary at $550,000 for the 2008 season. Incentives in his contract, though, could bring it close to a million dollars.

Mirabelli has served as Tim Wakefield’s personal catcher for his tenure with the Red Sox, which has bolstered his value, especially given his declining offensive numbers. Mirabelli, who was signed to a one-year deal last season, hit just .202 in 114 at bats last season. He had five home runs and 16 RBI.

At least he’s taking a pay cut. All I can say is, Jason Varitek better stay healthy in 2008.

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 01:35 | Comments Off on My Winter Is Destroyed
January 13, 2008

romney There comes a point in every political campaign where a candidate absolutely HAS to win a particular state, a point in which the line is drawn in the sand and all the chips are put on the table.

For Barack Obama, it was Iowa. If he didn’t win there, there was nothing stopping the Hillary Clinton machine from rolling to the Democrtaic nomination.

For Hillary Clinton, it was New Hampshire. If she didn’t win there, she was going to have a damned hard time stopping the Obama bandwagon on his way to the Demoratic nomination.

For Fred Thompson, it is South Carolina, where he has already stated plainly he has to win there; hence, he is throwing all his eggs into the SC basket in an all-or nothing strategy.

For Rudy Giuliani, it looks like it’s Florida, where he has invested a great deal of time and energy in hopes that that state can be the cornerstone of a successful Super Tuesday strategy.

For Mitt Romney, it’s Tuesday’s Michigan primary. Not only is Romney from this state (where his father was a popular governor back in the ’60s), but, after second-place finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire, dude has to show sooner or later that he can win a state (no, I don’t consider last Saturday’s Wyoming caucuses significant) and, more importantly, draw in significant numbers of conservative and moderate Republicans and independents while doing so.

Conservative bloggers like Hugh Hewitt and NRO’s Kathryn Jean Lopez (both of whom have attached themselves so firmly to Romney’s butt that neither can seem to see or think clearly anymore) seem to think that Romney is the only true conservative who can save the Republican party in 2008. They’re wrong. The fact is, of the leading contenders for the GOP nomination (John McCain, Mike Huckabee, and Romney), it is Romney who performs most poorly in polls against either of the likely Democratic nominees, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Sure, polls are only polls, but the fact is, if the GOP is going to take the White House this November their candidate simply must show an ability to attact more than just conservative Republicans – something Romney simply hasn’t done thus far.

As the weeks tick down through the primary season, watch for “electability” to slowly creep in as the leading quality every candidate for President – on both sides – will need to prove. For the Democrats, that candidate will be Barack Obama, as, New Hampshire aside, voters once more begin to take a second, harder look at Hillary’s incredibly-high negatives. On the GOP side, there seems little question of McCain’s ability to draw from a variety of voters, and sooner or later even conservative Republicans – like him or not – are going to have to begin taking that into consideration. In Romney’s case, right now he appears to be the least electable of the top GOP candidates.

Both Hewitt and Lopez believe Romney is the only true conservative of the top three, and therefore deserves to be the party’s standard-bearer come the fall. Romney may, in fact, be the most conservative all right, but my question to them would be, what good is that if he can’t beat Obama or Clinton in the general election? Sure, you save the GOP from McCain’s rogueish and Huckabee’s “neo-populist” tendencies, but for what? To get your clock cleaned?

Hewitt has been bemoaning the fact that Michigan’s Republican primary is open to independents and anyone who chooses to change his party affiliation. But in Romney’s case, I think this is a good thing, as we will see just how much (or if) he is able to tailor his economic message enough to attract Michigan independents and moderates to his candidacy. If he continues to draw only from conservative Republicans, McCain will win handily and Romney will once again finish second.

And if that happens, there goes his firewall. If that happens, Romney is finished.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 01:18 | Comments Off on Romney’s Firewall
January 12, 2008

Touching on a few subjects today:

News item: Golf Channel event anchor Kelly Tilghman has been suspended two weeks for suggesting last week that young players who wanted to challenge Tiger Woods should “lynch him in a back alley.”

Reaction: I think this is about right. Even though the woman is an awful golf announcer who tries her damndest to sound oh-so-hip and with it, she just got carried away. Chalk it up to trying too hard. At least that means two weeks of more enjoyable Golf Channel coverage of featured PGA events.

News item: Pope Benedict XVI is a feline fanatic and dreams one day of penning a book on cats.

Reaction: The more I read about this man, the more I find him both intriguing and a delight. It’s such a pleasure to be able to, in my own small way, make a weekly church attendance habit where the recognized leader of the faith is not just a tireless defender (the Archbishop of Canterbury could take more than a lesson or two here), but a charismatic and oh-so-human defender of a small part of God’s creation.

News item: A Houston-area man was killed in a hunting accident after his dog stepped on the man’s loaded shotgun which then fired and killed the hunter.

Reaction: “I’ve been in law enforcement 20 years and this is probably the strangest one I’ve had,” said Chambers County Sheriff Joe LaRive. Not much left to be said there.

News Item: PETA Requests Vegetarian Diet in Jail for Cannibalism Suspect

Reaction: An early candidate for top 10 headlines of the year, I’d say.

News item: Swiss outrage: Man drives over his estranged wife and flees the scene, then returns briefly to retrieve his license plate, which had fallen off.

Reaction: In some ways I understand it – after all, you can get ticketed for driving a vehicle with a missing plate, right?

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:18 | Comments Off on Around And About
January 11, 2008

Watched the South Carolina debate on FOX tonight. John McCain and Fred Thompson won this debate, hands down. As for the others, Mike Huckabee and Rudy Giuliani made some good comments, but in my view Mitt Romney was the real loser tonight. Wacko Ron Paul (who should never have been invited) never had a chance, except to show just how much of a paranoid schizophrenic he truly is, so who cares.

More than anything else, Romney lost me as soon as he opened his mouth to come out negative against McCain. Sure, there was a time and a place to do that, but not right out of the gate. To do so made him look small and petty, and I don’t think he ever recovered from it. I’m sure many others thought the same thing as I did – does this guy have ANYTHING positive to say?? Tonight might have proven to be his Waterloo.

Given that McCain was virtually untouched during the debate and the fact that he polls far better than any other Republican candidate against Hillary Clinton (who, like it or not, must still be considered the most likely Democratic nominee at this point), one has to come out of this debate with only one conclusion – John McCain has the wind at his back.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 01:09 | Comments Off on More Winners and Losers
January 10, 2008

Sigh. Maybe it’s just a case of the post-holiday blues.

Or, the fact that, like my good buddy Rob, it’s a new year and maybe the creative writing juices are running a little dry at the present time.

Or, most likely, it’s just the sober realization that 2008 promises to be nothing more than an endless series of exhausting and crazy work weeks followed by the mindless chipping away at a mountain of credit card debt.

Either way, it’s only the second week into a new year and all I want to do is walk away from it all. Somewhere. Anywhere. Now.

Even better, with a case of Sam Adams under my arm.

I kinda feel like Lee Marvin in that scene from the movie “Paint Your Wagon”, where, playing the role of Ben, he decides he’s not going to follow the wagon train any further and has this conversation with another man who has decided to do the same:

Man: I guess there’s two kinds in the world, Ben, people who move, people who stay. Ain’t that true?

Ben: No that ain’t true.

Man: Well, what’s true?

Ben: Well, there’s two kinds of people, them goin’ somewhere and them goin’ nowhere. That’s what true.

Upon which, he sings (well, sorta) the song “Wand’rin Star”. (Note: this is just a partial clip, the whole song can be found here. Boy, they sure don’t write lyrics like this anymore:

I was born under a wand’rin’ star
I was born under a wand’rin’ star

Wheels are made for rollin’
Mules are made to pack
I never seen a sight that didn’t look better looking back.

I was born under a wand’rin’ star

Mud can make you prisoner
And the plains can bake you dry
Snow can burn your eyes
But only people make you cry
Home is made for comin’ from
For dreams of goin’ to
Which with any luck will never come true

I was born under a wand’rin’ star
I was born under a wand’rin’ star

Do I know where hell is?
Hell is in Hello
Heaven is good-bye forever
It’s time for me to go

I was born under a wand’rin’ star
A wanderin’ wanderin’ star

Mud can make you prisoner
And the plains can bake you dry
Snow can burn your eyes
But only people make you cry
Home is made for comin’ from
For dreams of goin’ to
Which with any luck will never come true

I was born under a wand’rin’ star
I was born under a wand’rin’ star

When I get to heaven
Tie me to a tree
Or I’ll begin to roam
And soon you know where I will be

I was born under a wand’rin’ star
A wanderin’ wand’rin’ star

Sigh. Two kinds of people, them goin’ somewhere and them goin’ nowhere. Count me among the latter tonight. Maybe it’s an apt description for my whole life, for that matter…

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:52 | Comments Off on Feelin’ Restless
January 9, 2008

Well the New Hampshire primary is over, and everyone heads to South Carolina for the next truly pivotal referendum. I’ll admit, I was caught up in the supposed “Barack Phenomenum” as much as anyone – and I still think he’s the Democrats best chance for taking the White House in November – but you have to hand it to John McCain and Hillary Clinton for their victories tonight.

So who are the real winners and losers tonight?

McCain’s a winner, but he needs to prove he can win amongst Republicans and conservatives, as there’s no doubt he benefitted from the number of Independent voters that came over to his side in New Hampshire. Michigan and South Carolina, in that regard, will be crucial tests.

Hillary, of course, is a winner, but her campaign needs to realize that in two referendums on her candidacy thus far, a majority of Democrats have voted for other candidates than her. This should be a warning sign to her, especially if John Edwards and Bill Richardson were to drop out in the near term.

Mitt Romney is on very thin ice. He needs to she he can win a Republican primary, so Michigan is very important to him right now. If he loses Michigan – especially if he does so to McCain – he’s toast.

Fred Thompson, as much as I like him and would love to see him as the GOP nominee, is done, as is Bill Richardson, John Edwards, and resident wacko Ron Paul (thank God!). Time for these guys to take a hint and endorse the people who have an honest chance.

Neither Barack or Mike Huckabee are winners or losers. I watched Obama’s concession speech and still feel he would be the tougher of the Democratic candidates for the GOP to face. There are way too many people who would claw their way into the ballot box just for an opportunity to vote against Hillary. And, like me, a lot of conservatives who respect him and his message enough to at least consider voting for him in a general election – something that would never happen with Hillary Clinton. Without a doubt, she is a loser for the Democrats.

So it’s on to South Carolina. With no front-runners in either races, it promises to be an interesting next couple of weeks.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 01:34 | Comments Off on Winners And Losers

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