Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Doddering old man

I'm watching the Republican Debate (not live-blogging it) and John McCain is coming across as a rambling doddering old man. The worst thing that happened to him tonight was the decision not to have a time limit on answers. The sun literally set during his rambling, stream-of-consciousness answer on California's energy plan.

Romney is running circles around him. Just when I think I've got a handle on this race, something new happens. Romney's victory in this debate (if it turns out that way over the last hour and a quarter) probably won't be enough to make up for Rudy Giuliani's endorsement of McCain. But man, is McCain just killing himself tonight.


Ash-West teachers go too far with threat

When I graduated from eighth grade, it was probably the greatest accomplishment of my life to that point. I would have been very upset if the teachers who had helped me to that accomplishment boycotted the event because of a dispute with the school board.

Teachers in the Ashburnham-Westminster Regional School District are threatening to devastate lots of eighth graders:
ASHBURNHAM --The eighth-grade teachers at Overlook Middle School will not attend this year's middle school graduation ceremony to protest a recent School Committee meeting, it was announced during the Ashburnham-Westminster Regional School Committee's Tuesday night meeting at Overlook Middle School.

The teachers feel representatives of the teachers' union were treated unfairly at the committee's Jan. 15 meeting, union members stated in a letter sent to Overlook Middle School Principal Brenda Houle.
Graduations are incredibly important and emotional events, not just because they celebrate an accomplishment, but because they are symbolic of a passage from childhood to teen-hood (not a word, I know) and then to adulthood. For the teacher's union to threaten to taint the event by not celebrating the successes of their kids is cold, to say the least. It's not the kids' faults that the school committee and the teachers can't work something out. They should be left out of the dispute.

Teachers are underappreciated, underpaid, and undervalued members of our communities. They deserve to negotiate fairer wages and benefits just like anyone else, and sometimes they have to take action in order to move negotiations. But boycotting the graduation of their students is going too far. The teachers of Ash-West should rescind the threat.


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

OK Mitt, now what?

Well, I was wrong about tonight's results. Mitt Romney did not win, and now he's in a bit of trouble. In fact, tonight probably couldn't have gone much worse for Willard. Not only did John McCain beat him in a "closed" primary, but Rudy Giuliani will drop out tomorrow and endorse McCain, and Mike Huckabee will not drop out, causing Mitt to split the votes of social conservatives with the Huckster.

It's been clear to me for a while now that Romney just can't stand losing. Not that he is a "bad loser" in the classic sense--it seems that he is gracious to a fault--but he doesn't know how to deal with it. To a certain sense I guess that's a good thing--no one wants to accept failure--but man it's hard to see mi try to deal with it.

In his concession speech tonight, Mitt seemed to be almost on the verge of tears. Perhaps he was just losing his voice a little (it has been a long campaign) but I thought he was going to break down during his speech. He also rushed through it and was almost hollering, like a kid trying to convince himself to be tough in the face of adversity. It was almost uncomfortable to watch.

It will be very interesting to see how Romney responds. When he went negative in New Hampshire, it turned voters away and sealed the victory for McCain. But he can't win without being aggressive. The other part of the problem with ratcheting up the fight is that Mitt doesn't take it nearly as well as he dished it out. His Achilles has always been his loss of composure in the face of direct attacks. He imploded in the final 1994 Senatorial debate when attacked by Ted Kennedy, and his worst debate performances in the presidential cycle have been those where he was attacked by his fellow candidates.

Just as an of the things that bothers me the most about Romney is his compete inability to do anything original. His surfing for positions and pandering for votes has been well documented, but now it's gotten to the point where he is stealing the campaign signs of his opponents, right down to the font.



Quick Florida Prediction...Romney by a hair

A perfectly styled and sprayed hair...



Monday, January 28, 2008

The State of the Union is...meh.

The president is in the chamber, Dick Cheney is still awake, let's get to it...
  • Interesting to see Barack Obama and Ted Kennedy sitting together for the speech.

  • It looks like Pat Leahy is the only one not standing or cheering. In fact, he appears to be lounging back in his seat, like he's awaiting the start of a UVM game on the tube.

  • The president's forehead looks splotchy in HD. I'd say he needs a better makeup artist. He sounds like he's rushing a little.

  • I wonder if he has a fly on his back or something. Nancy Pelosi appears to be staring at something on his left shoulder. Maybe someone patted him on the back and left a "kick me" sign.

  • Surplus in 2012 my ass. Nice to see the Dems finally giving a standing ovation and a Bronx cheer for the president's call for a balanced budget. Nice to see the Republicans enthusiastic about ending earmarks. Wonder where that enthusiasm has been the last seven years?

  • Does Speaker Pelosi have salt shakers in front of her? Maybe they can get room service on the dais.

  • Health Savings Accounts are a scam and the president knows it. Just a way to allow big hospitals to provide services to individuals at much higher rates than it can charge insurance companies. It doesn't help anyone but hospitals. Certainly doesn't help consumers.

  • I wonder if Senator Kennedy took a nap this afternoon. He's had a pretty long day.

  • You know, the president has set the bar low when he's pushing for trade agreements with Peru, Panama, and South Korea in the biggest speech of the year.

  • Michelle just popped in to say that John Kerry looks smug. Fair enough.

  • I don't know who that guy is, but he is puffy, has a shiny head, and is nearly asleep.

  • Rep. Dingell also appears to be asleep. The HD really shows his dandruff problem.

  • Michelle should be writing this. She's been in the room for two minutes hanging up curtains and has said more funny stuff than I've written over the first half hour.

  • One lone Republican stood up when Bush mentioned his stem cell policy and then someone else saw it and sheepishly stood up and then another figured out that she might look anti-embryo so she stood up and eventually they all rolled their eyes and stood up so they didn't look like they hated fertilized eggs.

  • The president is proud of hosting Canada and Mexico for a summit in New Orleans. I thought we were trying to keep them out...

  • The immigration policy might be the only thing that I partially agree with the president.

  • Condi really is in love with George, isn't she?

  • Hey, 9/11. Must be time to talk about the war in Iraq and against freedom here at home.

  • Michelle has returned to note that Pelosi's hair "looks terrible."

  • I've heard all of this Iraq stuff before. I wonder if they just recycle the same section each year.

  • The reason the surge has "accomplished" things that couldn't be imagined a year ago is because it hasn't accomplished what the president said it would.

  • 30 years ago, what were the chances that John Warner would look better in 2008 than Liz Taylor.

  • Senator Tim Johnson looks really good for having suffered a stroke just a year ago.

  • It's Bob Dole!

  • Dude, if you're going to yawn cover your mouth, and don't yawn while everyone is cheering for the troops in Iraq.

  • Michelle notes that Nancy Pelosi looks like a pinched woman. She supports her argument by making a Nancy Pelosi face.

  • The dog just left the room and lied down in Jackson's chair. She's had enough.

  • Michelle suggests the Michael Chertoff looks like a living skeleton.

  • Oh good, here's the "threaten Iran" part of the speech.

  • Hillary is this close to falling asleep. Michelle: "Hanging by a string."

  • 9/11 again. Oh here we go with the trumped up threats to LA and other targets.

  • Why did Bush smirk when he was talking about opposing Genocide in Sudan? Was he just happy to say genocide correctly? Did someone add a smiley-face to the end of the line on the teleprompter?

  • Whoa! Who's the lady with the creepy green eyes?

  • The clerks in the front of the dais must go home with one heck of a crick in their necks.

  • The state of our union will remain strong. That kind of implies that is is currently strong. I wonder what he's been watching the last few years.
Hey, at least I stayed awake through it. I consider that a success.


Big big big big big big big week

This week is shaping up to be one of the most interesting political weeks in decades. Starting tonight, the next four days will be crazy, and then half of the country holds primaries on February 5. After all of the buildup over the last 14 months, here we go...

First--and probably least consequential--is tonight's state of the union address. It's a little hard to believe that President Bush has squandered so much political capital that nobody cares about what the President has to say tonight, but there you go. Despite the general sense that the country is just running out the clock in hopes that he doesn't screw anything else up, I may look to blog the speech tonight.

Then Tuesday, the Republican primary in Florida will decide who is left to fight in February. Rumors are that Rudy Giuliani--who may have run the worst campaign in my lifetime--will drop out if he doesn't win. He won't. If McCain can hang on to win, he will probably coast through Super Duper Tuesday. If Romney wins, the boost might be enough to allow him to draw even in the national polls, setting up a wide open February 5.

Wednesday, whichever Republicans remain standing (Probably McCain, Romney, Paul, and perhaps Huckabee) will debate in California. Romney had a great debate last week in Florida, primarily because McCain and the others inexplicably declined to attack him. I'll bet the gloves will be off.

And then Thursday the Democrats debate in Florida and that will probably be the highlight of the week. If Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were at each other throats before South Carolina--a contest that wasn't really contested--I can't wait to see how they face off five days before the biggest single day in this campaign.

And because I know that all of you hang on my every word, I hope to blog all of it. At some point, I'll also announce my endorsement as well as plans for special coverage of the February 5 results. Bet you can't wait, huh?


Saturday, January 26, 2008

Guess I picked a bad week to stop sniffing glue

glueOr at least a bad week to stop blogging. I've been pretty faithful in live-blogging just about every presidential debate for the last year and the one week I decide to lay low, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton finally had a WWE-style throwdown. Had I been blogging it, I'd have given the victory to John Edwards, who has been correctly making hay of being the only candidate representing the "Grown-up wing of the Democratic Party."

Ah well, at least the Republican Debate was a complete bore. As much as it pains me to say it, Mitt Romney was the clear winner as I was watching. If it is enough to push him into a victory in Florida, he may in fact end up being the nominee, but he still has some work to do on February 5. If McCain can hold on to win Florida, I think he'll end up winning the nomination.

One other political point: My prediction for tonight's South Carolina primary: Obama 45, Clinton 28, Edwards 26.

113smallIn other news...I've been spending my time not blogging on my other website,, which is my attempt to drive and photograph every mile of numbered Massachusetts state highways. It's been a bit of a slow go. I've been working on adding some of my photos to the site this week, and spent Wednesday driving through the Merrimack Valley.

Finally, I came across this great video of the Nazi high command breaking the news of the Cowboys playoff loss to Der Fuhrer. It isn't safe for work or family, but it is funny.

That's my boy!

my baby

Today, January 26, is one of my proudest days as a parent. After nearly 20 months, Jackson's hair has finally achieved newscaster quality. That's my boy!

Pardon me while I dab away a tear...

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Best website ever

Check out the classic Peyton/Eli Manning face, like the one below.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

"How pathetic!" and other thoughts on tonight's Dem debate

You're looking live at Las Vegas, where the three remaining significant candidates for the Democratic primary are meeting for tonight's debate. They get to ask each other questions tonight, so it will be interesting to see if the dynamic changes at all. Hopefully it does. Assuming MSNBC keeps a ticker at the bottom of the screen, we'll also be following the results of the Michigan primary. And away we go...
  • And MSNBC is calling it for Romney. He must have cleaned up in the exit polls, since he's only got a six-point lead.

  • Natale Morales looks a bit skeletal. She needs a cheeseburger, methinks.

  • Hillary, how did the campaign turn into a race war? Because your supporters have made it that way. How about coming out and disavowing the statements of Bob Johnson and Charlie Rangel?

  • It's easy to forget that someone of John Edwards' age would have grown up in a segregated community. I have a hard time contemplating that.

  • How is it that Obama is getting asked about "pushing the story" of Clinton's race-baiting supporters? It's her campaign that started this, not his.

  • Clinton accepts Bob Johnson at his word. She knows better than that.

  • Can't Natalie Morales get a seat at the table? They've given her a desk out in the hallway somewhere.

  • The echo in the hall is annoying. So are Brian Williams' torturous questions. Get to the point, Brian!

  • These flashing red white and blue stripes cascading across the bottom of the screen are going to give me a seizure.

  • Someone in the hall is hollering about "race-based questions." I can't tell if the protester wants more or less of them. Russert appears unnerved.

  • "The president is over in Saudi Arabia begging for them to drop the price of oil. How pathetic!" Good answer.

  • Then she refuses to say if the other candidates are qualified. Bad answer.

  • Obama is now backtracking on his recent comments about not being an "operating officer." He's been backtracking on almost every answer so far. He also looks like he needs a nap.

  • Obama's weakness is that he's not well organized. That's almost too honest. 50 cents says Hillary won't mention a real weakness.

  • Like Edwards didn't mention a real weakness. "I get too emotional about the pain of others." Bah! Sounds like a bad job interview.

  • Hillary gets impatient when people don't see the potential in America that she does or some such bunk...And then she lowers the boom on Obama for not being a good organizer and manager. Compares the CEO model to George Bush.

  • Obama says Bush is always on time, so he's not a good example. Gets a laugh.

  • Hey Barack, aren't you really a Muslim who hates Christians and Americans? This email says so.

  • And now for a commercial break. This first 30 minutes has been a colossal bore. When do they get to ask each other questions?

  • The discussion on banking is causing my eyes to glaze over. But I don't entirely get the idea that mortgage companies need to disclose more. How many more hundreds of pages does my mortgage agreement need to be. Maybe I'm more educated than most, but every time we've bought or refinanced, I've known what the terms were before signing.

  • Clinton is happy that the bankruptcy bill she voted for never became law. Sounds a lot like John Kerry's "I voted for it before I voted against it."

  • According to the crawl, Romney is up 10 points with 43% reporting. Looks like a good night for Mitt.

  • And now to Natalie, reporting from someplace on the roof.

  • This debate about the economy is probably the most important discussion they have had in weeks, and I'm just glazing over.

  • Edwards is wearing the largest digital watch I've ever seen. Despite the fact that I'm distracted by the HDTV on his wrist, I heard him smack Obama and Clinton on their fundraising from the pharmaceutical and other big industries.

  • Why is Brian Williams backtracking on how many questions the candidates can ask? He should encourage them each to ask more questions of each other, not less. And while we're on the question of questions, is it too much to get the candidates to ask questions, instead of making a speech followed by a close-ended query?

  • Another break. Obama just bolted backstage before the cameras even faded to black. I wonder what that was about. He's looked tired all night. Maybe he's a little under the weather.

  • Whoa. Hillary just said she would vigorously enforce a law that requires colleges to allow ROTC and military recruiters. Probably not a popular position with the anti-war base.

  • Do they really call it "rot-zee"? I've always called it "R O T C". Barack would also force Ivy League and other schools to allow recruiters. And Edwards would too, so I guess it's a non-issue.

  • Here comes the pandering portion of our show. Obama will kill the Yucca Mountain project. I'd like to hear where in the country is a better place to bury nuclear waste than the middle of the desert.

  • Obama loves the nukes. Edwards hates them. Clinton doesn't care.

  • Clinton has been proposing an awful lot of new spending tonight. $50 billion for clean energy, $30 billion to bail out foreclosed families. Where are we getting the money?

  • John Edwards, why shouldn't immigrants be forced to learn English to become a citizen? They should. Huh.

  • Hillary, do you agree that Hispanics won't vote for Blacks? No, but thanks for the opportunity to pander.

  • Barack Obama: "Two years ago, I stood with Ted Kennedy and John McCain" on the issue of immigration. That's going to end up being in some Republican's anti-McCain attack ad within the week.

  • I can't believe there are still 20+ minutes remaining. Whoever thought a two-hour debate was a good idea should be out of a job.

  • Clinton's continues reference to this as a "Black-Brown debate" makes me uncomfortable.

  • Hillary running to the right on gun ownership. She almost sounds Republican with the "we need to enforce the laws we have," and "I support the second amendment."

  • Barack says it's very important to hunt, fish, and teach kids how to shoot. Someone should tell him you don't fish with guns.

  • Brian Williams wishing he was in Los Angeles. I don't blame him for thinking of being somewhere else.

  • Now they are debating Clinton's fear mongering. She can split hairs all she wants, but she's clearly been playing the terrorism card.

  • When did you decide to run for president? Clinton: New Year's 2007. Edwards: December 2006. Obama: December 2006.
And it's over. I thought Edwards won. Obama didn't appear to be energetic or particularly engaged. Clinton was up and down, more up than down.


Michigan Prediction: Romney Wins

Who wins tonight in Michigan? Here is my prediction:

Romney. . . . 35
McCain. . . . .31
Huckabee. . .15
Thompson. . . 7
Giuliani. . . . .7
Paul. . . . . . . 5


Friday, January 11, 2008

I'm a free agent

While it's been appearing inevitable for some time, my candidate Bill Richardson finally pulled the plug on his campaign. So I'm a free agent, and I'm not yet sure who will get my vote in the February 5 primary.

There is no doubt in my mind that Gov. Richardson would have made the best president of all of the candidates running, but the fact is that he did not have enough of what it takes to win. Candidates either need a built-in constituency, the support of the party establishment, or a personal connection that trumps the other two factors in order to become president. Richardson had none of those.

What he did have was a plan for Iraq, the credibility to deal with both our allies and enemies, and more experience than any of his rivals. Unfortunately, he also had an inability to answer debate questions in 30 seconds and an odd penchant for outfits from the Kim Jong Il collection.


Thursday, January 10, 2008

"We had no bridges falling down in Arkansas." and other thoughts on tonight's GOP debate

I had just about lost interest in blogging the presidential debates, since there are just so many times that the same candidates can answer the same questions from the same reporters. Then, just like that, the whole campaign became compelling again. So here we go with tonight's big Republican debate from South Carolina…

There is nothing less shocking than the head of the South Carolina Republican party being named Katon Dawson.

Hey look, the Lawrence Welk singers are bringing us the national anthem.

Brit Hume is wearing a Robert Kraft shirt. I don't get the white collar with the blue shirt.

Saying that Massachusetts keeps adding jobs after he left office doesn't speak well of Mitt, it speaks well of Deval Patrick.

Mitt and McCain mixing it up already on jobs in Michigan. Let's hope they keep this up all night.

Shorter McCain: Vote for me. I'll be mean to Congress.

Huckabee knows his audience. He says "dudn't" instead of doesn't.

I wonder how Giuliani decides whether or not to wear glasses on a particular night. He's wearing them right now. Saturday, he went without them for the first half and wore them for the second half.

I'm not really listening to the answers very closely. I don't think I've missed much.

McCain talking about Reagan being both a tax cutter and a spending cutter is revisionist, to say the least. While the economy improved under Reagan, the deficit exploded. He certainly was not a balanced budget guy.

I'm convinced that Fred Thompson is just stringing together clichés and cute sayings. 80% of what he says is just filler to get from one slogan to another.

Huckabee seems tentative.

Reagan! Reagan! Reagan! Reagan! Reagan! Reagan!

Looks like Romney is going to wrench the anti-Washington thing into every answer.

That Fred Thompson tirade against Huckabee seems like a set-up. "Hey, can I jump into answer a question I wasn't asked and not answer it, but list all of Huckabee's faults instead?"

Giuliani worked for Reagan. I don't know if you knew that.

Brit Hume looks bored. I don't blame him.

Brit's question to Huckabee essentially is suggesting that the US should have attacked Iran over the naval incident a few days ago.

Now there you go, Fred. Nothing brings down the house of Republicans like jokes about Muslims and virgins.

Hume is desperately trying to get someone to say they would blow up those Iranians boats.

Funny that Mitt Romney, who cries about the way other candidates speak to him, insults Ron Paul in almost every debate.

McCain says that General Petraeus is the one who should decide when the troops come home. I don't like that idea at all. I don't think our civilian leaders should abdicate their responsibility to run the military. Our military leaders should be answerable to civilian leaders, not the other way around.

I don't get McCain's joke about trading with Al Qaeda and one-way tickets. Not funny. I find it interesting that none of the candidates will debate Paul directly, they just snipe at him with one liners.

I can't believe that Romney thinks we can prop up moderate Muslim states. He is so naïve.

Paul isn't getting a lot of traction with voters, I suspect, but he seemed to set the debate in that section. And I take back what I said about no one addressing his points directly. To his credit, Huckabee was willing to debate him.

If Romney has been hearing so much about how Washington needs to change, why did it take him two losses to finally start talking about it?

"We had no bridges falling down in Arkansas." That was part of a very good defense of his record as governor, but I think he muffed the line I think he meant to say "we had no tunnels falling down in Arkansas," which would have been an excellent jab at Romney.

Carl Cameron looks like a frog.

I wonder if Rudy is aware that he's been lampooned about his constant mention about 9/11. He got a question about his leadership on 9/11 making him qualified to be president, and he skirted it. We're 85 minutes into the debate and I don't believe Rudy has mentioned it once.

Gov. Huckabee, why do you think women should be slaves to their husbands? What an excellent answer. Marriage is not a 50-50 deal; it's a 100-100 deal. Carl Cameron thought he would play gotcha, and Huckabee hit that one out of the park.

The answer about electability may have been Paul's best moment of the campaign. For the first time, I heard him succinctly describe why he is running and why the current Republican party as lost its way. Not that it will get him elected, but it's about time.

These commercials with the frightening old people that look like food creep me out.

Same old same old on immigration, so I'm going to wrap this up...

I thought Huckabee did well. He was under attack (both from Thompson and the Fox questioners) and he answered the questions confidently. McCain was also credible. I don't think he was great, but he didn't hurt himself.

If there was a loser, it was Fred Thompson. He was a caricature of a political candidate. He just indiscriminately tosses one-liners out there. I also thought Giuliani did poorly. He needed a breakthrough and didn't get it. After being the center of attention for the last few debates, Romney seemed to just be there.


Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Nantasket Beach

This weekend we went to Nanatasket Beach for a quick getaway, followed by a trip to the Children's Museum in Boston. Here are a handful of pics.

michelle and Jackson
Michelle and Jackson at the beach.

jackson beach
Jackson surveying the scene.

jackson rock
Investigating rocks.

Shooting hoops.

piano man
Play us a song, you're the piano man...

Up for a night on the town.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Hillary wins a stunner. Game on!

There is an old saying in sports that a seven-game series isn't really contested until the home team loses a game. I guess that's not the perfect metaphor--since none of the candidates is at home in New Hampshire--but in this case, the primary season isn't really contested until the front runner loses.

Now we have a race.

Like many, I expected that the game would nearly be over tonight. With the expected big Obama victory, the question going into tonight was whether or not Hillary would even survive until the February primaries. Well, now it looks like not only will she survive, but she'll be at least even with Obama.

This election just keeps getting more and more interesting.


McCain and Obama to win N.H., Romney survives

Quick predictions on tonight’s election results from New Hampshire. First the Republicans:


I had originally thought Mitt Romney would be finished if he lost here. But now I’m not so sure. He’ll probably be able to spin the result as a virtual tie, and try to get his first win in Michigan next week, which could set up an interesting dynamic.

Where exactly do we stand if Romney, John McCain and Mike Huckabee have each claimed one state going into the back-to-back primaries in South Carolina and Florida? And let’s say for a moment that Rudy Giuliani is able to win in Florida, which he is counting on in order to stay in the game into February? Could we have four “front-runners” going into February 5? Could the nomination still be up for grabs after that date?

And does Paul get a boost by finishing in the top three?

The Democrats look to be a far less muddled picture:


It ought to be over tonight with a 10-point win for Barack Obama. John Edwards will probably hang on through South Carolina, hoping that he can beat out Hillary Clinton there and be the last opponent for Obama going into February 5. I’m guessing Clinton is in the race to February one way or the other, since she has support in some of the big states of the Northeast and in California. But regaining footing after another big loss might be impossible. I see two potential wildcards:

What does Richardson do before Nevada? He has a lot of support from the unions there and could sway the outcome in that state if he drops out. If the unions throw their support behind Clinton, does she have a chance to stop the bleeding with a win there? Does Edwards gain their votes and push Clinton to the margins?

The other issue is what to do with Florida. If Clinton is desperate for a win before February 5, does she defy the party (who has pledged to shut out Florida’s delegates because they scheduled their primary too early) and campaign hard in Florida? Maybe a win in a crucial swing state would give her momentum going into February even if the result is cosmetic.

But all of that is probably moot unless Obama commits a huge blunder. After tonight, he will have an air of inevitability around him that should easily carry him to the nomination.


Huckabee wins...

...the endorsement race, not New Hampshire.

But which candidate do you want: the one who will kick his enemies in the groin,

or the one who will serve them tasty warm oatmeal?


Friday, January 4, 2008

No wonder the Soviets lost...

Earlier this week, I was watching a documentary titled "Soviet War Scare" on the Discovery Times channel. The film recounts the story of an American war game in Europe that the Soviets nearly mistook for the real thing. The Soviets had a spy inside NATO leadership, and the spy would relay messages to the KGB using a device disguised as a calculator. Here is a dramatization from the documentary:


The spy typed BOOBLESS into his calculator! No wonder the Soviets lost the cold war...they were being flooded with covert messages from pre-teen boys all over the world.


As I was saying...

I feel pretty good about my predictions last night. I nailed the Republican side with the exception of Fred Thompson.


I was off on the Democratic side, getting John Edwards and Barack Obama flip-flopped. I also greatly overestimated the ability of the bottom four candidates to be viable. But I did correctly predict Hillary Clinton would finish third.

So what's next? Armageddon in New Hampshire. Neither Mitt Romney or John McCain can afford to lose New Hampshire. The loser is out. On the Democratic side if Obama wins, it's over. If Clinton or Edwards wins, we're in for the long haul.

The campaign over the next four days is going to be incredibly brutal, starting with tomorrow night's debates. I can't believe I'm writing this, but it's a tossup right now whether or not I watch the debates or stay with the NFL playoff game.


Thursday, January 3, 2008

Huck holds on in Iowa, Romney’s in big trouble

Yesterday I posted my predictions for tonight's Democratic caucuses in Iowa. Here are my thoughts on the Republican race…

Despite doing everything in his power the last few days to blow it, Mike Huckabee will hang on for a comfortable seven- or eight-point win in tonight's caucus. Were the contest to be held most anywhere else Huckabee's recent gaffes might be enough to derail him.

But Iowa's Republican caucus-goers are heavily Evangelical and will vote for the Evangelical candidate regardless of his flubs. They don't much care that he insulted the intelligence of the entire press and pundit class with his "here's the ad I'm not going to run" stunt, and they won't be swayed by Huckabee's crossing the picket line to appear with Jay Leno amid confusion over which late night talk show host settled with striking writers.

Those issues will come back to haunt him as he moves to Eastern and Western states where the influence of Evangelicals isn't as strong, but it won't derail him tonight.

Romney will finish second and McCain will surge to a better than expected third-place finish. The result will set up New Hampshire as THE contest of the 2008 season. Romney cannot lose both New Hampshire and Iowa, or he will be done, no matter how much money he tries to throw at later states. Similarly, McCain can hardly afford to let Romney claim the mantle of frontrunner again.

The desperation from both camps will nearly bring Armageddon to the Granite State. Romney will saturate the airwaves with those disingenuous negative ads where he says "John McCain is an honorable man but he wants illegal immigrants to rape and pillage you." McCain will continue to paint Romney as a flip-flopper and a phony.

It will all come to a head Saturday night and Sunday with the back-to-back debates in New Hampshire. I'll be stunned if Romney gets through the two events without losing his cool. He has shown that the one thing that rattles him is questions about his integrity. And just as he did against Kennedy in 1994, he will completely implode during one of the events. McCain will coolly and gravely outline Romney's shortcomings, and Mitt will flip out on him, confirming for many voters that he's not up to it.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. The wild card tonight is Ron Paul. I get the idea that his support is greater than polls indicate, and that he'll post a strong fourth place showing. In fact, I think he may pull a third-place result in New Hampshire.

That will probably mean that Rudy Giuliani is toast. He isn't competing in Iowa and could finish as low as sixth, and if he is out of the top three in New Hampshire, you have to wonder if he can stay a part of the conversation long enough to get to the national primary on February 5. Supposedly he has been planning all along to at least win Florida at the end of this month to remain viable, but if McCain pulls out New Hampshire, I don't think Rudy has a chance.

Fred Thompson is not a serious candidate and never has been. His run has been an exercise in vanity and will be over before February 5.

Here are the numbers tonight as I see them:

Huckabee 34%
Romney 27%
McCain 16%
Paul 10%
Thompson 7%
Giuliani 5%
Hunter 1%
Keyes 0%


Wednesday, January 2, 2008

It's Edwards to win in Iowa

What will most likely turn out to be the most exciting, interesting--dare I say, fun--two months of politics most of us will ever witness kicks off tomorrow night with the Iowa caucuses. This is the first completely open election of my lifetime (where neither a sitting president nor vice president is on the ballot) and the run up to the first contest has been as entertaining as any of us could have hoped. And there is a real possibility that tomorrow's results will be the climax that political junkies have hoped for each year: the results could throw the campaign even further into chaos and leave us essentially where we were a year ago, no closer to a pair of nominees.

But someone has to win. So in front of that backdrop, here are my predictions for what will happen tomorrow in Iowa and next Tuesday in New Hampshire, starting with the Democrats.

The polls in Iowa are all over the place, but I have a hunch that John Edwards is going to barely win what essentially will be a two-way tie with Barack Obama, with Clinton trailing by six or seven points. Edwards has won in Iowa before, and his organization and liberal turn will resonate with enough of the state's working-class Democrats to eke out a victory (man, do I sound like a real pundit or what).

Obama will do well as college students return to campuses a little early and independents choose the Democratic caucus over the Republican contest. I don't think that will be enough to give him a win, but it will be enough that he can try to spin the result as a tie.

Clinton is already starting to lower expectations (she claimed this morning that girls don't caucus well!) and probably realizes that she's not going to take the state. She is strong enough to finish near the top, and the real test will be in how she is able to frame the finish. If she's successful is claiming that she did very well in a state which was very tough for her (given Edwards' strength and Obama's celebrity) she will be positioned to be the Comeback Kid II with a good showing in New Hampshire. If the narrative that comes out of Iowa is that Clinton blew a lead and is vulnerable, she might in fact be.

If there is a viable fourth-place candidate (and by viable, I mean at least double-digits), I think Joe Biden could pull off a minor surprise and be the one. Indications from the state show that crowds at his events have been picking up and if Biden is the second choice of a number of the other lesser candidates, he could sneak back into the race, although I don't think he'll be anything more than a long shot.

The second-place aspect of the caucus also could swing a few points in the direction of one of the leading candidates and make the difference. Kucinich has already suggested that his supporters caucus with Obama if Kucinich is below 15% at a particular caucus. While he does not have enough supporters to make a huge difference, someone like Bill Richardson does. Richardson has been considered close to the Clintons...could his supporters move en masse to Hillary in precincts where Richardson is not viable? Polls suggest that his level of support is high enough to tip the scales completely in favor of one candidate or another should his voters move together.

Of course, Richardson is currently in fourth place in polls, so it could be him and not Biden who hangs on for another week.

Trying to pinpoint the numbers, I predict:

What would those results mean for New Hampshire? If Edwards wins, it won't matter whether or not Clinton or Obama is second or third, the two sitting senators will remain frontrunners, setting up a monumental showdown in the Granite State.

If Obama wins, I think he rides a wave of momentum to the nomination. If Clinton wins, Obama can still remain viable if he finishes second, but he must win in New Hampshire. Clinton or Obama are only in big trouble if they finish third and the other wins.


Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Not great hockey

The NHL played their Winter Classic today, as 70,000 or so fans came out to see the Pittsburgh Penguins defeat the Buffalo Sabres in a snow storm.

Watching the last 10 minutes of the game, the announcers were positively poetic in their praise of the atmosphere, the fans, the the memories the game evoked of the pond hockey kids play in the winter. They made it sound like it was just a fantastic time.

And maybe it was. But it had to be a fantastic atmosphere in order to keep people watching, because it was an awful display of hockey. During the third period, the game was stopped over and over again to fix the ice or to clean the snow off of it. When the players weren't standing around waiting for play to resume, they looked like they were skating in mud, as the snow piling up on the ice was slowing everything down. Because of the wind, the teams switched sides at the midway point of both the third period and the overtime, delaying the game even further.

It ended up taking 3 1/2 hours to play a game that would have taken about 2:15 to play had it been played indoors, where stoppages are minimized, playing conditions are ideal, and the speed of the game is evident.

The speed of the game what makes it great. The difference between an NHL game and a game in the minor leagues or college is the speed of the players. Without that, the game loses it's excitement. Even if it's played in a snowstorm.


Happy New Year

christmas parties 022

Happy New Year. I've got a couple of resolutions:

1. Blog more. Things have been crazy over the last month and I haven't spent much time at the keyboard. I'd like to hit 300 posts this year.

2. Exercise more. Perhaps walk the dog more.

3. Eat less.

Not a particularly ambitious list, I know.


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