Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Well


That's a deep subject, isn't it?

Yes, I blew the Florida primary prediction, big-time -- looks like by about 23 points or so. Hey, it happens.

Mitt Romney needed to win by 10 points or more to really get back in this race. It looks like he won by 14.

BUT! Lookit:

I grabbed that graphic from Fox News, on the supposition that a generic state map with colored counties reflecting public information probably is probably fair game for fair use. Red is for Romney, green is for Newt Gingrich.

Yes, Romney won the state fair and square. But if you take a gander at the geography there, it doesn't look very good for Romney in future GOP primaries or for the GOP itself in the general election.

In the panhandle, where the GOP primary electorate looks a lot more like most of Republican America and especially southern Republican America, Gingrich whipped Romney's ass. If he has the money/backing to stick with this, Gingrich probably has North Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Lousiana, Kentucky, Tennessee and Arkansas in pocket. And, of course, his home state of Georgia.

In southern Florida, where the GOP primary electorate is more moderate, Romney proved that he can beat candidates perceived as more conservative. But in November even Romney, if he's the nominee, will be the putative conservative. And the GOP is unlikely to win the White House if it can't win Florida.

This is Romney's fourth time out in this cycle. He's 2 for 4, and has yet to break 50% anywhere. The majority of Republican primary voters keep saying "not Mitt." By Super Tuesday, I predict that that "not Mitt" vote will have largely coalesced to "yes Newt."
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Contra Epstein


Reid J. Epstein @Politico:

Gingrich needs a close race more than Romney needs a blowout victory.

I disagree. Anything but a blowout for Romney today is effectively the end of his campaign.

If Gingrich wins Florida, "prohibitive frontrunner" and biggest spender Mitt Romney will be 1 for 4, and that one an underwhelming win in the smallest contest thus far.

If Romney wins but it's close, he continues to be what he's been since Iowa -- "the walking dead." He may hold on until Super Tuesday before going down, but down he shall go.

He needs to win by at least 10 points to really get back in the race.

With the polls now open, I'm still calling Florida for Gingrich.
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Monday, January 30, 2012

I Feel Jonathan Franzen's Pain ...


English: Jonathan Franzen - Frankfurt Book Fai...Image via Wikipedia
... but only a little. One of America's most highly-regarded novelists (by the kind of people who fancy themselves qualified to highly, or not highly, regard novelists), author of The Twenty-Seventh City, thinks e-books rob literature of a needed sense of permanence.

Like most of those critiquing Franzen's viewpoint (Lance Ulanoff at Mashable, for example), I'll open with the disclaimer that I am a (dead tree type) book lover. I've been a dedicated reader for 40 of my 45 years, and have sometimes found myself in competition with my library for living space. Some volumes bring back associated memories every time I pick them up: "I accidentally left my last copy of this (The Guns of August, by Barbara Tuchman) on the airplane when I flew back from my speech to the New York Junto against the Iraq war in 2003;" "I was reading this one (Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand) the day my daughter was born in 1990;" etc. There's just something about a physical book.

But look at what e-readers are doing! Like other technological advancements (Brad has them pretty well-covered here), they're making a lot of people's lives a lot richer.

For the cost of 10-15 paperbacks (and the cost is falling), you can get a device that instantly puts thousands of classics in front of you "free" (courtesy of The Gutenberg Project, et. al) and lets you get the newer stuff with a click. The instant I bought my e-reader, my library got about 10,000 times larger, maybe more, without taking up any more space.

Ten years from now, I expect that every school kid will have an e-reader device of some sort, connected to a library much, much, much larger than any room in the government schools I went to as a child (no, I'm not putting those libraries down -- they, and their keepers, influenced me a lot; but still ...).

On this last weekend's trip, I took about 70 books with me (I actually read from four or five of them), and they didn't fill up the back seat of the mini-van. They all fit in the glove compartment, on my Cruz Reader.

I hope that dead-tree and electronic formats achieve some kind of coexistence ... but if we can only have one of the two, the latter just makes more sense. It makes more art and more knowledge available to more people, less expensively.



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80 proof


I've never managed to get a good picture of the old Bourbon, Missouri water tower.  So, for this post, I'm using Daniel Woodrum's photo from takemytrip.com.

When I was a kid and we would drive past on I-44 (still fairly new at the time!), I fancied that the tower was actually full of bourbon whiskey. Later, I outsmarted myself. This being the middle of Missouri wine country, it was obvious to me that the reference went back to French settler times and alluded to the Bourbon dynasty.

The French presence extended west and south from St. Louis at least as far as the Springfield, Missouri area, where there's still a small town called Bois d'Arc ("Bo-Dark" in the Missouri dialect; there's also a Versailles, Missouri, pronounced "Vur-Sayles").

Anyhoo, I was wrong both ways. The tower wasn't full of bourbon whiskey, but that's what the reference was, in fact, to. The town of Bourbon sprang up around Irish work camps building a railroad through the area. The railroad workers liked their whiskey, and local storekeeper Richard Turner was eager to please, buying the newly popular Kentucky variant in quantity. His store became known as "the bourbon store," and the town that sprang up nearby just rolled with that name.

On this last weekend's trip down to Marshfield/Springfield, we took a little time to get off the freeway and drive a few portions of old Route 66. I do that as often as possible, just to show the kids that  there's always some cool history and beautiful country to see if you're willing to spare the time.

The Bourbon tower is visible from I-44, of course. So why am I writing about it? Well, I'm having an Old Crow and RC to celebrate my 80th KN@PPSTER post this month -- one more than I managed in all of 2005 2007. So it just seemed apropos (see how I worked some French lingo in there?).
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The Sticking Point


English: Newt GingrichImage via Wikipedia
Eric Dondero over at Libertarian [sic] Republican thinks I'm crazy for still predicting a Newt Gingrich win in tomorrow's Florida primary.

Maybe he's right. I do have a bad habit of over-estimating the aggregate intelligence of the Republican Party. I'm betting that Republican primary voters have enough gray matter between them to have figured out that Gingrich is the only candidate for their nomination who stands a chance in hell of both getting that nomination and beating Barack Obama in November.

A small chance, true, but a chance nonetheless. And he's the only one who even might manage both.

Ron Paul could conceivably beat Obama, but he can't sell the GOP on foreign policy sanity and get the nomination.

Mitt Romney or even Rick Santorum (just barely plausibly) could get the nomination, but neither one  has a chance in hell of hitting 270 electoral votes for the win. In fact, either one would be over-performing at 100 electoral votes.

So the question is: Are the Republicans interested, or are they not interested, in at least a slim possibility of taking the White House for the 2013-2017 presidential term? If yes, Gingrich is the nominee. If no, he isn't. It's really just that simple.

I'm sticking with my earlier prediction: Gingrich by 9 points, plus or minus 2, tomorrow, for the simple reason that any GOP primary electorate dumb enough to return a different result is arguably also too damn dumb to work those complicated knobs on their doors and get out of their houses to the polling places to vote any other way.

But I could be wrong. Perhaps the Democratic Party has an "Open Those Complicated Door Thingies for Romney Voters and Drive Them to the Polls" effort set up.

And just to be clear here, no, I'm not a Gingrich fan. I don't really care one way or another whom the Republicans nominate, or who wins in November, except from the "horse race" angle.  There's just no real betting to be done on Obama versus Romney or Santorum. That would be like an exhibition football game between the New England Patriots and your local Mighty Mite champions. Obama versus Gingrich would at least be more akin to the Patriots versus the Kansas City Chiefs' second string or something.

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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Reaching Across History


One of last week's "fun political stories" was about the grandson of US President John Tyler calling Newt Gingrich a jerk.

Quite a spread of time there -- Tyler was born in 1790, fathered children late as did his son, etc. One blog post on the story (which I can't find now) remarks on Oliver Wendell Holmes having shaken the hands of both John Quincy Adams and John F. Kennedy -- the 18th century connecting to the 20th.

Nothing as dramatic for me, but I got to connect the 19th and 21st centuries this weekend when I went to visit my parents.

As KN@PPSTER readers will recall me mentioning, I often use a cane to walk these days. I haven't been that happy with the one I have (a thrift store pickup), and took the opportunity to look at replacements everywhere we stopped (found a nice one I may buy, as a matter of fact).

Anyway, my dad had an old cane that turned out to be precisely the right height. It's still in great shape, too.

I never knew its owner, as he died two or three years before I was born. His name was Simon Peter Decker and he was born in 1885 (if I recall correctly) in Knoxville, Tennessee.

I did know his wife, Minnie Elsie Crabtree Decker, who was born (once again, IIRC) in 1889, also in Knoxville. She died when I was in my early teens and she was in her early 90s.

Simon and Minnie Decker were the parents of my father's mother, Eva Knapp.

Coincidentally, on the way down to see my parents, I showed the kids the place where Minnie Decker's house once stood. There's a pavilion there now, on the grounds of the church next door. One of my dad's brothers is the pastor of that church, which I'm pretty sure great-grandma Decker attended most of her life. If I have my family history right, it was once a Methodist church, but a traveling revival preacher converted its congregation (including my grandmother and great-grandmother) to Pentecostalism in the early 20th century.

So anyway, the cane is probably 50 years old or more, and its owner, were he still alive, would be coming up on 127. I expect I'll keep set it aside and only use it as a walking aid on special occasions.


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Saturday, January 28, 2012

A Funded Journalism Idea


I'm considering doing some investigative reporting.

I can't discuss the topic publicly (that has to do with the "investigative" part). That pretty much means that I can't seek funding for the project via something like spot.us or kickstarter.com. The topic isn't strictly political, but I suspect many of my political friends would find it interesting. It's certainly controversial.

If I do pursue this, I may self-fund. Or I may seek a sponsor. My guess at bare-bones expenses is about $200. My guess at research (including at least 24 hours of time on the ground completely "inside" the target entity) is about 50 hours.

If I do hook up with a sponsor, the commitment on my part will be:

  • To use the money in the ways I explain in advance (naturally I'll identify the subject of the reporting and how I plan to approach that subject);
  • To produce a report of my experiences and conclusions for the sponsor's eyes;
  • To accept the sponsor's decision on whether to turn that report into a feature article, or to continue the research with additional funding and an eye toward a longer work.
I know I'm not giving potential sponsors a lot to go on here, but if what I have said is interesting enough that you want to know more, drop me a line via the contact form.

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Another Mormon Practice, Briefly Explained


English: Drawing of a Mormon baptism ceremony,...Image via Wikipedia
Gawker puts the worst possible face on it: "Yes, the Romneys Converted Mitt's Dead Atheist Father-in-Law to Mormonism." But as religious practices go, it's actually pretty cool. Here's the skinny:

Like many (not all, but many) churches, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints claims to be the One Truth Faith. That is, through apostolic succession (in LDS's case, through a "restoration" of same after the Catholics and Protestants broke it), the church claims to act as God's authority on Earth.

That entails certain responsibilities. In order to get into heaven, certain things have to have happened. For example, you need to have been baptized. And not just dunked in any random body of water by any random person, but baptized by someone duly and properly exercising the aforementioned authority.

Where most churches making such claims fall down is on the issue of "what happens to the guy who never heard the truth?" Or, in LDS's case, even someone who heard it but didn't "get" it in time.

In some sects, well, that guy just gets a one-way ticket to Ye Aulde Lake of Fire.

In Mormonism, there's a sort of post-mortality "holding pen" for such people, where they have a chance to accept the true gospel and get into heaven. But they do still have to be baptized and so forth.

The LDS church spends quite a bit of time and money on conducting baptisms by proxy -- "baptism for the dead." One reason Mormons are so well known in the area of genealogy is that they're constantly working to identify people for these proxy baptisms, so that as many people as possible can get into heaven.

What could be more humane or pious than that? Mormons believe you have to be a Mormon to get into heaven. They also know that even their extensive missionary efforts aren't going to reach everyone. But you get a second chance after death, and they make an effort to help you out even beyond the grave.

And yes, there's a biblical hook to hand the practice on:  1st Corinthians 15:29. Baptism for the dead does appear to have been a Christian practice for 300 years or so before the emerging Catholic order suppressed it.

The Gawker headline isn't, strictly speaking, correct. If Edward Davies converted to Mormonism posthumously, he did it himself. All his daughter and son-in-law's family did was make sure that if he did so, he was equipped with the requisite certifications and such to make that conversion all proper and legal in God's eyes.

There are a lot of reasons not to support Mitt Romney for President. Depending on your religious beliefs, his Mormonism may even be one of them. But this baptism stuff is surely a minor thing within that other thing, and not nearly as creepy as Gawker makes it sound.


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Winner, Winner, Chicken Din ... er, Gift Certificate!


Thanks to everyone who retweeted the #followfriday message! It's the stroke of midnight right now, and I'm at random.org to pick a winner.

Drumroll, please ... and the winner of the Powell Books gift certificate is intoxicologist! I'll DM to confirm her email address and get that gift certificate out ASAP. In the meantime, check out her great cocktail blog.

UPDATE! A twist ... intoxicologists says thanks for the prize, but give it to someone else! Back to random.org, and lessee ... our new winner is Jake Porter! Jake's an Iowa Libertarian who's done more in his 20-some years than most of us will do in our lives, from publishing newspapers to running political campaigns. Hopefully he has some time to read as well. I'll get that gift certificate on the way ASAP.

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Friday, January 27, 2012

Yes, a Recipe


I just got roped in by one of those "chain letter" things -- send the person at the top of the list a recipe, any recipe, then hit up a bunch of your friends to do the same thing. Since I just inflicted the request on 20 people, I figure I should share the recipe with more than just one.

As most KN@PPSTER readers probably know, I'm a fan of great barbecue. By definition, great barbecue is of the variety produced between Memphis, Tennessee (e.g. Corky's)  to the east, Hot Springs, Arkansas (e.g. McLard's) to the west, and Springfield, Missouri (e.g. Crosstown) to the north.

Anyway, for when I can't go out for barbecue, and when the weather's not conducive to eight hours or so of tending my brick in-ground pit outdoors, I've discovered a crockpot/slow cooker recipe that produces quite good smoky pulled pork for sammiches. I've messed with it through trial and error for some time, modifying ideas I found on the Internet, and here's the final recipe:

INGREDIENTS

A rolled/tied pork loin roast
1 cup apple juice
1/2 cup water
1 cup brown sugar
1 cap full of hickory-flavored "liquid smoke"
Your favorite barbecue sauce

Place the roast in your crockpot or slow cooker. Pour the apple juice and water over it, so that the surface of the pork is wet. Dump the brown sugar on top of the roast and spread/pack it over the surface of the roast with a spatula or your (clean!) hands. Pour the liquid smoke into the liquid in the bottom of the pot (NOT directly on the roast).

Cook the roast on "high" for one hour to "shock" it. Then turn the cooker to "low" and cook for 5-7 hours (depending on the size of the roast; if bigger, cook longer). The roast is done when it tries to come apart when lifted with a fork.

Remove the roast from the pot, put it on a plate or in a large bowl, cut the strings, and hand-pull the pork to small pieces. You'll also want to get any remaining small pieces that fell off during cooking out of the pot with a slotted spoon.

Season with your favorite sauce and serve on sandwiches. Then write to tell me how great it was.

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Twitter: What's It Good For?


Since I'm on the subject of Twitter anyway, might as well riff on it a little. And I see that Carl Bussjaeger poses the question (in non-question form):


OK, I've tried Twitter. Still don't see point. Boring, limited. Sticking to my blog & website:
http://t.co/O3abV6hP
http://t.co/iQNiDf8P 12 days ago via web · powered by @socialditto


The short answer to the title question is "it depends."

First, a bit of heresy: Twitter is good for attracting an audience to content. That's not what it was supposed to be about, and quite a few people complain about it, but hey ... it does work. A link to every post here at KN@PPSTER gets tweeted to my nearly 2,000 "followers," and any given post will get a few visits from that tweet, and perhaps from "retweets." Over at RRND, same thing -- if my analytics are correct, our Twitter feed brings about 100 visitors a day to the site.

As an information consumer, I find Twitter extremely useful, too. I see content every day that I'd never have known about if someone hadn't tweeted a link.

Using Twitter that way does have its down sides, of course. It limits the utility of Twitter for other things.

Things like conducting a continuous, short-burst, informal conversation with a group of friends. Since I follow those who follow me, I'm following close to 2k people as well, which means that unless (or even if) I do nothing all day but watch Twitter, I'm probably only going to catch the high points.

And things like using Twitter in an office setting. A few years back, Tamara worked in a (very computerized) office where it was important to know where everyone was at all times (and where any given person might be as far afield as, say, Nepal). I suggested (the suggestion was not adopted) that the office personnel set up Twitter accounts linked to their work emails, keep their statuses updated on said accounts, and follow each other. That way, when X needed to know where Y was, it would be as easy as looking at Y's latest tweet ("gone to lunch, be back about 1;" "back from lunch, at my desk;" "gone home for the day;" etc.). And as a bonus, since most people in the office carried cell phones, they could update even while out of the office ("stranded in Nepal; someone get a sherpa out here, stat").

As the political establishment worldwide is learning (and responding to), Twitter's also a good way to coordinate protests and other actions, or even just to get a large conversation going on a topic of shared interest. Just set up a hashtag, and everyone who wants to be involved keeps an eye on it (of course, those who want to surveil you can too, which is why some new and different tools are coming into use).

You can set up multiple Twitter accounts to do different things, and there are apps that handle those multiple accounts for you. And there are other tools that can do some of the same things, perhaps better for your purposes.

But, overall, Twitter can be useful for any purpose that requires (or just benefits from) the ability to quickly and easily communicate with multiple people in short text message format across multiple device types (desktop computer, cell phone, Blackberry, what have you).
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Prize Drawing!


It's been awhile since I've given away a prize. Heck, I don't know if I've ever done a prize drawing here at KN@PPSTER specifically. But I've got a bee in my bonnet to increase my number of Twitter friends (okay, technically "followers," but I prefer "friends"). I'm just shy of 2,000 "followers," and want to get past that bump. I also want to increase Rational Review News Digest's "followers" (pushing toward 4,000 there).

So, anyway, I'm giving away a $10 gift certificate at Powell's Books. Here's how to win:

  • Between Midnight US Central Time Friday morning and Midnight US Central Time Friday evening (that is, any time Friday, January 27th, 2012);
  • Tweet "#followfriday @thomaslknapp @rationalreview" or "#ff @thomaslknapp @rationalreview" -- either one will do, and you can throw in additional people to follow if you like.
That's all you have to do. Since my Twitter handles are included in the message, I'll see it (probably in my Hootsuite dashboard, 'cause I'm cool like that). To award the prize, I will:

  • Count the number of people who tweeted the message;
  • Go to random.org and generate a random number between 1 and that number of people;
  • Count down from the top (last, chronologically) of the list of people who tweeted it to that random number; and
  • Announce the winner, and send a direct message to the winner to get his or her email address so I can send the gift certificate.
I'll try to do that early Saturday morning, but in case my Internet is down or whatever, let's say it might be as late as Monday just to cover all bases.

I'll also try to remember to #followfriday everyone who participates this Friday, next Friday, myself. So even if you don't win the gift certificate, you may still get something out of it. So, half an hour until go-time ...



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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Is Rick Santorum Serious About Advancing the Social Conservative Agenda?


, U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania.Image via Wikipedia
On the evidence, I have to conclude "no."

That evidence is that, as of a few hours before the final pre-Florida-primary debate, he has failed to do what Rick Perry did last week in South Carolina -- end his campaign and endorse Newt Gingrich.

The math isn't that complicated:

  • Santorum isn't going to be the GOP nominee, and if his IQ is larger than his shoe size he knows he's not going to be the nominee.
  • After Gingrich wins Florida, he'll run the table. He won't need Santorum's endorsement or support, and he won't owe Santorum's social conservative supporters anything at all.
  • However, as of today, it is just barely, possibly plausible -- if we stretch things quite a bit -- that Santorum's support could make, or his non-support break, Gingrich's Florida prospects, and that Newt as POTUS would look benevolently upon, and seek to repay the support of, Santorum's social conservative supporters if Santorum delivered said supporters into Gingrich's column. Offer good today only, of course.
So, is Santorum in this thing to advance his supposed agenda, or is his campaign just a personal ego altar on which he'll happily sacrifice that agenda in return for a few more days of adoring rope lines and increased face time on the idiot tube?

I guess we'll find out one way or another within about four hours.


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A Couple of Missing, But Pertinent, Factoids


Sez R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr. in The American Spectator: Newt Gingrich is "Our [the GOP's] Bill Clinton." Followed by a recitation of Gingrich's character flaws.

Two things that Tyrrell leaves out:
  1. Bill Clinton was elected POTUS.
  2. Bill Clinton was elected POTUS. Twice.
Just sayin' ...



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"Dead heat in Florida ahead of debate"


English: Newt GingrichImage via Wikipedia
That's not the headline you want to see if you're Mitt Romney and guy you're within the margin of error of and about to debate is Newt Gingrich.

A lot of people, especially pundits, have been giving themselves whiplash from watching the polls jump around this campaign season.

Rest that neck. Put on a cervical collar and stick with me here. I predicted Newt would be the nominee right after Iowa. I predicted his performance, and Romney's, in South Carolina to within 2 points each. And I'm sticking by my Florida prediction:

Gingrich: 42%
Romney: 33%
Santorum: 13%
Paul 12%

And frankly I think I may be over-predicting Santorum at Gingrich's expense, and under-estimating Paul a bit.

Here's why Gingrich is going to pull off a clear win in Florida:

  • The debate: When Romney comes under attack, he falls to pieces. He stutters, he stammers, he looks evasive, he comes off as distinctly un-"presidential." When Gingrich comes under attack, he goes on the offensive and doesn't ease up until the floor is soaked in his opponents' blood. Romney will take a 5-10% hit from tomorrow's debate. Gingrich will get a 5-10% bump.
  • Another Adelson soft money check is fueling a $6 million Newt SuperPAC media offensive between now and the primary. That's not as much money as Mitt's spending, but it's enough.
  • Romney is not as belligerently pro-Israel as Gingrich (Florida has the largest Jewish community of any southern state, and it is politically organized).
  • Romney is not as belligerently anti-Castro as Gingrich (Florida has the largest Cuban exile community of any state, and it is politically organized).
  • Florida has a large population of immigrants and first-generation Americans. Gingrich has aggressively positioned himself as the least insanely anti-freedom Republican candidate on immigration policy.
  • The top two religious demographics in Florida are Roman Catholics (Gingrich and Santorum are Catholic) and evangelical Christians (many, if not most, of whom distrust Romney's religion, Mormonism).
The worse news for Romney is that even if I'm wrong, he's still probably screwed. He doesn't just need to win Florida, he needs to break out a major ass-whipping.

He entered the GOP nomination race as the prohibitive front-runner. He's now won only one of three primaries/caucuses, and that one the smallest, and he only pulled 40% of the vote there when he should have easily cruised past 50%. He's limping. He's bleeding. Barely squeaking by is not going to be enough to get him back in this race for real.

Gingrich, on the other hand, came from double digits back to win in South Carolina, and has now pulled up by double digits to contest a state that was supposed to be a Romney cakewalk. He's got the momentum of a runaway truck. As everyone who's contested an election with him since 1976 can attest, he is not someone you want to see bearing down on you in this kind of fight.

So, I still say Gingrich by nine points, give or take two. But, as always, I could be wrong.


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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Quote of the Day


Profile picture of Rocky FriscoImage via Wikipedia
In a comment on an RRND blurb that links to a Downsize DC article about Ron Paul being booed by a (presumably largely evangelical Christian) South Carolina debate audience after invoking the Golden Rule, my friend Rocky Frisco quotes his friend Beth:

What do you expect from people whose whole way of life depends on letting somebody else pay for their mistakes?

The whole comment is worth a thorough read, but that part in particular really makes me think of the popular American edit of Christianity in a way I never have before.
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File Under Ironic ...


From the UK's Daily Mail:

A woman who defied a driving ban on female motorists in Saudi Arabia has died in a car crash. ... They were in a four-wheel drive on Saturday evening in the northern Hael province when the accident happened. ... Manal al-Sherif was arrested and detained for 10 days in May after posting a video of herself on YouTube as she drover around Khobar, a city to the east of the country.

No comments about women drivers, please. I've driven in Saudi Arabia (rough estimate, 2,000 or so road and off-road miles, plus many as a passenger, including in the Khobar area, but not the province where the lady died), and doing so ranks high on my list of terrifying lifetime experiences.

The Abu Hadriyah Highway, which connects Jubail to Khafji, induces a pucker factor greatly exceeding any roller coaster I've been on.

Like this:

I'm driving north in a Jeep Grand Cherokee (for some reason a number of non-military-issue vehicles had worked their way into my unit's table of equipment).

The posted speed limit is 120 kilometers (about 70 miles) per hour. I'm pushing 100 miles per hour and barely keeping up with traffic.

Up ahead, I see two large military trucks abreast (The road at this particular point is four lanes wide), pulling flatbed trailers with tanks on them. They can't move as fast as everyone else.

The traffic ahead of me splits. Two cars pass the military trucks in the oncoming lanes, which are not empty. Lots of honking and skidding-tire noise ensues.

Another car and a pickup pass as well -- one off-road to the right, one to the left, and a guy in the back of the pickup is waving an AK-47 in the air and screaming ("Allahu Akbar!" would be my guess, but it's impossible to hear over the engine noises and horns). There's no shoulder, per se, just packed sand and the crumpled remains of vehicles which have unsuccessfully attempted this same maneuver in the past.

Imagine something like this happening every two or three minutes for 100 miles or more. Imagine it continuing after dark with half the drivers not bothering to turn on their headlights. Oh, and imagine that every 20 miles or so a herd of camels wanders across the road, heedless of all the other stuff going on.

Finally, imagine that once you get off this endless ribbon of carnage, you can't even find a stiff drink unless you thought ahead and buried a two-liter jug full of Kool-Aid, extra sugar and yeast in the desert for a few days. Trying to thread a big-ass stolen German army truck between anti-tank mines and burning oil wells up north in post-war Kuwait was relaxing by comparison.

That's my version. But don't take my word for it. Here's PJ O'Rourke's, from Give War A Chance:

The road was two-laned here and the driving was, as it is everywhere in Saudi Arabia, horrific -- conducted at absolute top speed with no thought for consequences. Though there were plenty of consequences to be seen. Amazing car wrecks lay beside the road, sometimes a dozen of them in a mile, things you would never know had been cars if a couple of car wheels weren't sticking up out of them. Whole Chevrolets were crumpled like gum wrappers. And these wrecks had taken place without collision on a perfectly straight and level road that is absolutely free of obstructions.

There's just no comparison in the US, unless maybe it's the Kansas City area.
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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Fun Facts of the Day


My latest C4SS piece got picked up by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel almost as soon as I sent it out for publication today. Cool.

That got me t'wonderin' just how many newspapers my stuff's been in over the last year-and-a-half since I started flogging C4SS material for op-ed publication, and where those newspapers are located.

The answer: 23 newspapers, in 12 US states (Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Iowa,  Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma and Washington), and in ten countries (Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, Estonia, Germany, India, the Republic of Korea, Latvia, Lithuania and the US) on four continents (Asia, Australia, Europe and North America). Further gory details at the C4SS press room.

Pretty cool. And that's just my C4SS stuff, and just the "mainstream media pickups." I guess I get around OK, for a guy my age.

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Monday, January 23, 2012

NO GOP Debate LiveBlog Tonight


Maybe you can watch the thing here, if you're interested.

MSNBC's proprietary video embed doesn't seem to like me very much -- freezes up in the middle of the opening commercial every time. So I can't watch it sitting at my computer, and I don't feel like running back and forth between computer and TV to post updates.

You're on your own this time, at least moment-to-moment. If I bother to watch it on the television set (probably not), I may throw some comments up here about it afterward.

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ClickBleg: Help me get on Wavii ASAP


It's like this: Wavii is a news aggregation hangamajigger, and we all know I'm way into that kind of thing (my day job is niche aggregation "by hand").

They're still in one of those "limited access" timeframes.

How does one move up the latter toward actually getting to use it?

Why, by referring other people, of course.

I need 10 referrals to get in ... 20 referrals and I get a t-shirt. Which means you no longer have to look at my naked torso. Surely that's worth a click to you, right?

Best as I can tell, it's not anything to download or buy -- it looks at your Facebook "likes" and then throws stuff at you that it thinks you'll find interesting.

Thanks in advance.

[Update: One referral so far, which got me a "sneak peek." Thanks! It looks pretty cool. I'm always looking for tools that call the good stuff to my attention. The less time I spend finding it, the more time I get to spend reading it, summarizing it, linking it and otherwise adding value to it for my own readers. Nine more referrals and I'm in! - TLK]


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Twilight of the Gops?


Quoth Doug Mataconis:

[W]hen I look at the results of the South Carolina primary, all I can ask myself is, "Has the Republican Party jumped the shark?"

That's actually a tougher question than it looks like. The GOP has gone from "on top" to "in the wilderness" more than once, including 40 years without a majority in either house of Congress. So positing that it's finally reached the "all downhill from here" point is, well, risky from a predictive standpoint.

But I'm going to take a flyer here and answer Mataconis's question "yes."

The GOP, the original party of big government, spent 30 years -- from Barry Goldwater's failed 1964 presidential campaign to Newt Gingrich's 1994 "Republican Revolution/Contract With America" -- vrooming its sparkly new "party of smaller government" pick'em up truck to the top of the political mesa, spent another six years doing donuts up there without much follow-through ... then drove right off the cliff face under George W. Bush, hitting bottom with a loud smack in 2006.

As PJ O'Rourke wrote in 1991's Parliament of Whores:

The Democrats are the party that says government will make you smarter, taller, richer, and remove the crabgrass on your lawn. Republicans are the party that says government doesn't work, and then they get elected and prove it.

The "GOP as party of smaller government" engine doesn't run any more. They got it to turn over and pump a couple of backfires through the tailpipe in 2010, but flooded the carburetor with the 2011 debt ceiling and budget debacles, when they made it clear yet again that when they say "smaller government" they mean government that gets bigger a little less quickly than the Democrats want.

The Republicans refuse to be the party of "smaller government" for real, and they're just never going to be as convincing as the Democrats at being the party of "bigger government."

The only cards left in their hand are "bellicose government," "competent government" and "moral government," and those cards won't hold their traditional constituencies together.

Ron Paul stands at the head of a fairly large GOP bloc that's done with the Buckleyite "bellicose government" stuff. They're trying to take over the party, but they're failing, and sooner or later they'll go their own way.

The "competent government" bloc's frontman, Mitt Romney, is coming up for rejection a second time in a row, and sooner or later that bloc will likewise blow away on the political winds, to the Democrats or to a new party.

And the religious right has always understood that "moral government," on their terms, means "bigger government" to protect them from TEH GAYZ!!! and TEH FURRINERS!!! and so on (FOR TEH CHILLLLLLLDRENZ!!!, of course). After having their factotums rejected twice in a row (Mike Huckabee in 2008, Rick Santorum this year) they're also on the lookout for a new bandwagon.

The only things holding the Republican Party together at this point are 1) hatred of the Democrats and 2) Newt Gingrich's ambition. Those two things aren't sufficient for the long term. They aren't nuts and bolts, they're chewing gum and baling wire.

The real $64,000 question, of course, is not what happens to the GOP. It's what, if anything, replaces the GOP. My guess is: Nothing. We're on our way from de facto one-party state to de jure one-party state.
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Concerning Mitt Romney's "Mormon Problem"


Yes, he has one.

America's come a long way since JFK's uphill slog to prove that a Catholic could get elected president, but not so far that Mitt Romney's affiliation with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints isn't a problem for him, with respect to both the Republican Party's presidential nomination and the general election.

Evangelical Christians -- who constitute a big bloc within the GOP's primary electorate -- don't like Mormonism. They don't consider it a real version of Christianity, and some of them consider it a cult. They're not on board with Romney.

And, as this article from the Palm Beach Post explains, African-American voters aren't likely to be very positive about Romney when they learn about his church's historical treatment of blacks.

Now, it's true that a Republican presidential candidate has a hard time getting black votes anyway, and that it's even harder when he's running against a black sitting president. But the Mormon angle certainly doesn't help with those voters, and it's not likely to sit that well with non-Mormon white voters who have moved past identity politics, either.

I might as well trot out my fairly basic knowledge of Mormon doctrine (I joined the LDS church at 18, and left it a few years later) on this issue, as it bears explanation.

Per Mormon doctrine, we are all literally children of God, with the potential to "grow up" to be gods ourselves. Jesus is our eldest brother. That war between in heaven, in which Satan and the rebellious angels were expelled? They were our errant brothers and sisters, too. We were all angels in the "pre-existence," and took part in that war before coming to Earth to "gain a body" and learn some important lessons on our paths to godhood.

In that war, some angels fought bravely on the side of God. When they came to Earth, they got light skin.

And there were the bad guys, Satan's legions, who were "cast into the Outer Darkness."

A third group was the angels who were on the right side but cowered, hid, or cut and ran ... and, well, they got dark skin. Oh, and they were banned by God from the priesthood (which includes all adult males, btw) of the one true church.

Until 1978, that is, when the church got sued and its president (whose titles include "prophet, seer and revelator") got a memo from God -- I'm sure the timing was coincidental, just as it was with the church's abandonment of polygamy, in 1890, under federal government pressure -- that he'd changed his mind about the whole "black people as priests" thing.

So you can see why African-Americans, and those who think that African-Americans probably weren't angelic cowards in the pre-existence, might not be thrilled with the idea of a Mormon president. Especially one who was serious enough about his religion to serve as a missionary for two years and then as a local bishop and a stake president (stakes are area-based groups of Mormon congregations).

In actuality, American voters generally don't seem to like the idea of a president who takes his religion extra-seriously regardless of what that religion is. That's why we haven't seen a President Pat Robertson, President Gary Bauer, etc. yet.

Sure, a presidential candidate is expected to attend church. "I sleep in on Sundays" doesn't work when that question gets asked. It's less about religion per se than it is about energetic "community involvement." It's probably a plus if he's a deacon, or heads up a local ministry to the poor, or whatever.

But if he's been in the pulpit on a regular basis as a preacher, chances are he's said some things that will come back to haunt him. And if his religion is even a bit out of the mainstream (voters seem to prefer Baptists and Methodists), he starts looking a little too weird to trust with Ye Aulde Nuclear Footeball.

Romney's Mormonism is not the only killer of his presidential ambitions. But it isn't helping him, that's for sure.


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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Post-South Carolina Primary Thoughts


Fortified by a few Old Crow and RC nightcaps, my take on what's happened and what's next in the GOP nomination race:

Mitt Romney's chief strength going into this race was his putative front-runner status and the attendant "inevitability" of that status. So, three contests in ... he's won one of the three. The smallest of the three. The one in a state where he maintains a home. The one in the state next to the state he used to govern. The one where he should have easily exceeded 50%, but instead barely managed to notch up 40%.

Rick Santorum earned his Iowa victory with hard, dedicated, on-the-ground campaigning. But in addition to earning it, he had the advantage of being a pro-life Catholic running in a state with a large (23%) Catholic population and a large evangelical pro-life population. If that evangelical support had stuck with him, he might have a shot at the nomination ... but it didn't stick with him in South Carolina. Apparently Tarheel voters are more interested in actually winning the White House than they are in making a strong statement.

Ron Paul's supporters are more enthusiastic and dedicated than any, bar none. That makes a huge difference in states with small populations. But the populations of the primary states are growing as we go, and the bulk of the GOP base just isn't ready to give up on the Bushevik foreign policy line. He's not going to be the nominee.

Perry's out. Huntsman's out. Bachmann's out. Cain's out.

That leaves Gingrich.

Two weeks ago, I had people telling me I was crazy for saying he'd win South Carolina. Even as little as a day ago, I had people saying I was way high on my 9-point win prediction for him. As it turns out, I was low -- he won by 12%.

Ten days until Florida. That means eight or nine days of people telling me I'm crazy when I say Gingrich will win there, and one or two days of people telling me I'm over-predicting the margin of his win. Here's my initial prediction:

Gingrich: 42%
Romney: 33%
Santorum: 13%
Paul 12%

And frankly I think I may be over-predicting Santorum at Gingrich's expense, and under-estimating Paul a bit.

Paul, of course, will hold out to the end and use what support he garners to advance his agenda rather than his personal ambition. Good on him for that.

My guess is that Santorum exits the race after Florida. As much as I disagree with him on pretty much everything, he strikes me as a reasonably honest and honorable man who wants his party to succeed. He took his best shot. He did well in Iowa. He tried to parlay that into further successes. Once he's sure that didn't work, he'll cut bait and get behind the party's choice.

Romney will probably hold on until Super Tuesday. After Gingrich humiliates him, winning at least eight of the ten primaries that day, the GOP will move forward into the general election cycle with a clear nominee apparent.

That's how I'm seeing it, anyway. But you know, I'm a little tipsy at the moment.


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Too Bad He Didn't Shoot a Few of Them


From the Boston Herald, on the abduction of Kim Dotcom:

Police had to cut their way through electronic locks to a safe room, where they discovered Dotcom -- also known as Kim Schmitz -- with a firearm.

“Despite our staff clearly identifying themselves, Mr. Dotcom retreated into the house and activated a number of electronic-locking mechanisms,” Detective Inspector Grant Wormald from the Organized and Financial Crime Agency New Zealand told Reuters.

So he knew -- they admitted! -- that they were organized and financial criminals, on his property, probably armed, and there to kidnap him for having the gall and temerity to run a web site without Christopher Dodd's permission ... and they expected him to what? Roll out the red carpet or something?
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Saturday, January 21, 2012

Yeah, what Brad Said


At WendyMcElroy.com:

Sites like MegaUpload are great if you want to share a really large file that you have (and that you keep on your own computer). But they're a bad way to store your files ...

As usual, I'll put in a word for Dropbox (or other sync services, but it's the one I like best, and yes that is an affiliate link that gets me more free storage when people sign up using it). It keeps your data on all your computers and a copy "in the cloud."

I set up two new (actually old -- laptop and netbook -- but unused for awhile) computers yesterday, anticipating an out-of-town trip). Getting my work stuff (RRND email templates, browser bookmarks, etc.) onto those machines was as simple as installing Dropbox and logging in. I did it at home, where my other computers were handy, but if I'd done it in Cairo or Vladivostok, same thing.

Data that needs to remain confidential/uncompromised? Stays on my hard drive (not in my Dropbox folder) and gets backed up to thumb drive or optical media. In addition to possible data loss, there's security to think of when contemplating "the cloud."

Hey, Zemanta tells me there's a new player in SyncTown; I'll be checking it out:

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Final South Carolina Predictions


The recent polls have Gingrich up on Romney by anywhere from 2% (in other words, tied within the margin of error) to 9%.

I'm leaning toward the higher number, not because of where it comes from (PPP -- not the most reliable polling service), but because Gingrich and Paul's supporters are energized and Romney's aren't.

Prediction as South Carolinians head to the real polls, +/- 2% on each candidate:

Gingrich: 38%
Romney: 29%
Paul: 18%
Santorum: 15%

Actual Outcome:

Gingrich: 40%
Romney: 28%
Santorum: 17%
Paul: 13%

Hey, I predicted three of the four candidates to within 2% of their actual performance! I'm surprised Paul didn't make third place.

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Friday, January 20, 2012

Old Favorite Springfield Restaurant Oh Noes!


I'm planning a trip to back to my home area -- the I-44 corridor running between Lebanon, Missouri and Springfield, Missouri. I grew up in Lebanon, my parents have retired in Marshfield, and my brother lives in Springfield (I used to as well).

Part of any old home trip is deciding what restaurants to go to (the ones without equivalents in St. Louis, that is -- I've got a good cashew chicken source up here).

The one I've been missing most is Melter's, formerly known as Mighty Melt Sandwich and Spud Shop. they make the most killer sandwich ever. It's hard to describe.

The bread is sort of muffaletta-like, but not exactly (one legend I heard was that the place was founded by an unemployed Schlotzsky's crew after that chain went under). It comes in squares -- a small is two squares, a medium is four, a large is nine, or something like that. I'm a big eater, but I've never finished a large in one sitting, I'll put it that way. Anyway, it's a sort of spongy bread, and quite good.

In the middle, they put your choice of meats (sometimes I go with pastrami, sometimes a "combo" of three meats), lettuce, onions, mustard, cheese, then they melt the whole thing in an oven.

So anyway, I am not finding Melter's on the Internet, and I'm only finding Mighty Melt listed in Sedalia and Warrensburg, far away from where it used to be, and from where I'm going. Sad face! Anyone know if the restaurant or a successor is still in Springfield?

I am not, of course, entirely without options. A place in Lebanon called Mr. Ed's used to make similar sandwiches. It appears to be gone as well, but it looks like there's still a sandwich shop in that location called Ollie's. So maybe it's the same food and just a different name.

And if I can't get my Melter's sammich, well, there's always Crosstown Barbecue. Or McSalty's Pizza. Or George's Steakhouse, which used to be the go-to place after the bars closed. Or hell, I've been telling the kids about Lambert's for years, so maybe we'll have ourselves some throwed rolls.

I'll put Crosstown and McSalty's up against restaurants of their kind almost anywhere. And I doubt I'll be going hungry. But just in case, refresh my memory concerning other great places to eat in the general area..
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Which Part of "No SOPA for You" Did You Not Understand?


Curious snippet from a New York Times article about the bust of MegaUpload, in particular the allegations in the indictment:

It quotes extensively from correspondence among the defendants, who work for Megaupload and its related sites. The correspondence, the indictment says, shows that the operators knew the site contained unauthorized content.

The indictment cites an e-mail from last February, for example, in which three members of the group discussed an article about how to stop the government from seizing domain names.

How is a discussion on how to protect yourself from domain theft, by a gang notorious for same, evidence that "the operators knew the site contained unauthorized content?"

And how is it a crime for the operators of a "locker service" to mind their own damn business, anyway? Banks not pawing through their customers' safe deposit boxes, etc., used to be considered a virtue, not a vice.

Oh, and keep in mind that the feds didn't just seize "unauthorized" content -- they stole all of it. That's like saying "we think there may be stolen diamonds in one of the bank's safe deposit boxes, so we're taking everything in all the boxes, including the one with your birth certificate and your grandma's wedding ring in it. And the cash in the vault, too, if we can get to to that."

Al Capone and John Dillinger couldn't hold a candle to Christopher Dodd. Hell, at least they hired their own gangs instead of billing the taxpayer for crew rental. And they didn't accuse their victims of "abuse of power" for not wanting to buy them new Tommy guns (all the better to rob you with, my dear).

In honor of this action, I'm canceling my tentative plans to take the family out to a movie this weekend (Daniel wants to see Red Tails; I was thinking about the new Sherlock Holmes flick, or the American remake of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo).

Between a pre- or post-flick meal at the food court, tickets, in-theater snacks, and probably some post-flick impulse shopping the kids would want to do with their Christmas money (probably for "intellectual property" in the form of video games or music), I'm guessing the St. Louis Galleria Mall can thank the Motion Picture Association of America for a loss of $100+ in gross revenues. We'll order out Chinese food and pop an old DVD (bought used, of course) in the player instead.

Anonymous is taking a more ... direct ... tack:





Good for them.
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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Liveblog, GOP Debate


English: Newt GingrichImage via Wikipedia
The usual -- comment when I feel like it, quit when I get bored.

Sticking the wrap-up here, for those who don't want the blow-by-blow. I'm pretty sure Gingrich won. I'm absolutely sure Romney lost. But the whole thing was pretty ugly and boring.

[7:05 CST] Candidates introduced. All of them stand and smile except for Santorum, who waves and grins like he's on "Hee Haw." Someone probably fed him amphetamines this afternoon.

[7:06] National anthem, debate rules, opening "if you don't know who I am yet" statements.

[7:09] Gingrich is appalled at being asked if he's a swingin' dude as the opener to a presidential debate.

[7:12] This is why Gingrich will be the nominee. He's got his blood up and is ready to fight any sumbitch what gets in his way.

[7:13] Santorum calms it down with a pretty positive statement about forgiveness, etc. Romney: Let's get on to the real issues. Paul: Too often we're all on the receiving ends of personal attacks, etc.



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Ronald Reagan was Once a Democrat


And Karen Santorum once dated a doctor who performed abortions.

A long time ago, in her 20s, Republican presidential aspirant Rick Santorum's future wife was live-in girlfriend for several years to the 60-something doctor who had delivered her. OK, so, yeah, that's kind of creepy.

But really, so what? Half of us in the 40+ category barely remember our 20s, and the ones who do would almost certainly cringe at the idea of some asshole conducting a forensic audit of our love lives back then for retrospective purposes.

They broke up. She met her future husband. They both became devout, practicing Catholics who oppose abortion. Judging by the number of children they have, there's no hypocrisy involved in that position, agree with it or not. Whether or not I agree with their particular values, I respect the fact that they apparently have values and try to live by them.

You know I'm the furthest thing possible from a Rick Santorum fanboy, people, but this just isn't a campaign issue. Shame on anybody who tries to make it one.



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No War, No Sanctions, No Intervention, No Assassinations


Based on :Image:Peace Sign.svg, drawn with thi...Image via Wikipedia
Clear, simple, to the point. A nice, simple set of values that all kinds of people should be able to get behind.

It's the platform, manifesto, talking points, everything of No War on Iran: National Day of Action, February 4th.

A lot of anti-war activities get bogged down in lengthy laundry lists of talking points and arguments from the "top," before they ever reach the larger numbers of people they're supposed to recruit or inflluence. They end up having something for everyone to disagree with.

This thing leaves everyone free to make their own arguments and not have to answer for someone else's stupid ideas. No war, no sanctions, no intervention, no assassinations. Anything else you want, bring yourself.

"Radical anarchist KN@PPSTER" and "sane policy advocate KN@PPSTER" are both down with the four points, for different but not really incompatible reasons.

From a policy standpoint, screwing with Iran is the silliest damn idea I've heard in a decade characterized by silly ideas.

The US has fought and lost two full-blown wars in Asia (and smaller ones in Asia and elsewhere) over the last ten years, draining its treasury and degrading its military (in both the moral and practical senses).

Launching a third major war, against an opponent three times as populous, with much greater regional support, and much more militarily advanced than either Iraq or Afghanistan ... well, if you were looking for  proof that the assorted War Colleges of the US armed forces have "special needs" classes, just check out the number of different crayon colors used in drafting that contingency plan.

"War 2" by Carlos Latuff.Image via WikipediaFrom an anarchist standpoint, war (and preparation for war) is one of the primary instruments which the political class of every country, and their "transnational" partners, use to savage the freedoms and empty the pocketbooks of their subjects for their own benefit. 99% of the time, that's its only purpose. The other 1% of the time is when one particular clique of the political class is in real existential danger from another clique or cliques, and wants their subjects to bail them out.

So, get back to me if the war you're selling is revolutionary class struggle, productive (us) vs. political (them). Otherwise, I'm not buying. And this ain't that.

But that's all just me. I'm sure you have your own reasons. On February 4th, let's set those other reasons aside and stand together for no war, no sanctions, no intervention, no assassinations.


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Why I Keep Telling You to Expect Newt


English: Newt Gingrich at a political conferen...Image via Wikipedia
We're three days and change from learning the results of the 2012 South Carolina Republican presidential primary.

As I write this, Texas governor Rick Perry is taking his final bow, withdrawing from the campaign and endorsing Newt Gingrich.

Yesterday, Sarah Palin came as close as she's probably going to get to endorsing a candidate until the outcome is absolutely certain: "If I had to vote in South Carolina, in order to keep this thing going, I'd vote for Newt ..."

Why do I keep pointing to Gingrich as the obvious GOP nominee? It's certainly not because I prefer him or support him. Even if I voted, and even if I voted Republican, I wouldn't vote for Newt.

But, here's the thing: This is a street fight, and Gingrich is a street fightin' man. There's no attack he won't use if he thinks it will work, and there's no blow he can't absorb standing up. That's how he's going to beat Romney, and that's how he's going to try to beat Obama.

Mitt Romney is the kind of candidate who does quite well, as long as he's floating forward on a carefully crafted narrative of "inevitability." He sounds plausible to everyone, as long as the problems of governance are presented as simple matters of managerial tweaking. But he falls right to pieces when it comes time to take the gloves off and throw down.

Ron Paul is certainly a fighter. If the GOP -- Establishment and rank-and-file alike -- hadn't let themselves get so entrenched and besieged in their crackpipe post-9/11 foreign policy errors, he'd stand a chance. Unfortunately, mistakes of that size and scope tend to self-reinforce; they're so big, ugly and stupid that people can't bring themselves to admit they were mistakes at all. And most of them just won't support a candidate who's urging them to get their heads out of their asses instead of patting them on the back and telling them they're smart.

That leaves Rick Santorum, whose positions on virtually everything are simply too extremely opposed to virtually every majority voting constituency for him to be elected president, and who failed of re-election to the US Senate in 2006 with less than 42% of the Pennsylvania vote; and Newt, who hasn't lost an election since the mid-1970s.

I'm confident in my prediction that Gingrich will at least de facto tie, and probably beat, Romney on Saturday in South Carolina.

Furthermore, I think that he will win, and probably comfortably, in Florida on the 31st. Yes, he's behind Romney in Florida right now, but South Carolina will give him momentum, and he will spend 10 days hammering Romney in ways that maximize the Latino vote. Remember, now that Perry's out, Gingrich is the GOP's voice of nominal sanity on immigration.

If he can maul Romney in Florida and South Carolina, he will be running the table by Super Tuesday.

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