Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Is Hillary Quitting ?

Blake Dvorak, over at Real Clear Politics's "PM Line" links to a blog post by Jay Severin that reports a rumor that Hillary might quit on Friday.
Yes, yes, it's as thin as it sounds, as Mr. Severin is the first to admit: he calls it "rumor," not to mention "hearsay" and "third party," and candidly says he cannot verify it. But Mr. Severin says he trusts his source, and I must say although I don't necessarily believe it, I do not disbelieve it either.
If there's really something to this report, why might Hillary wait till Friday ? Why not just go ahead ? Perhaps she's waiting on some polling before the weekend, but she wants to make the decision early enough to avoid the last expensive media buy.
If the numbers are going south by the weekend, and it looks like Hillary's going to get hammered in Ohio and Texas, getting out looks like a good move. Things do not look good for her at present: Ohio is down a little, but her lead in Texas has evaporated -- the latest polls show Obama going ahead. Admittedly, his lead is within the margin of error, but there's no question that she's sinking.
I still think that the nomination is within reach for Hillary -- if she can eke-out bare wins in Texas and Ohio, and cajole, beg and politically threaten enough super-delegates into her corner. The delegate deficit, on paper, is not that huge. Mrs. Clinton speaks for a lot of voters, and she presumably has files full of years worth of information on super-delegates, not to mention longstanding ties and connections, through Bill, with many of them. If she gets Florida and Michigan back on the board (not a foregone conclusion) -- she's within striking distance. But she has to lawyer, palaver and maneuver to prevail -- the conditions she's laboring under simply aren't going to allow her to win this outright, unless Obama collapses this weekend.
But what does Hillary really gain, even if she wins the nomination ? A hopelessly divided party, and massive resentment from Obama disciples angry that she denied their Messiah his throne. I'm hoping she tries it, of course, but I see no way that this can end well for her.
If she turns aside now, and lets Obama have it, Mrs. Clinton can hope that McCain can burst St. Barack's bubble in November, and that she can say "I told you so" four years hence. If St. Barack wins election (probable), and his administration produces a truly memorable disaster (also probable), she can try to pick up the pieces later. In the meantime, she can rake-in thanks and praise from getting out of the way of the coronation.
I don't know that Mrs. Clinton is quitting. It's definitely not her MO to quit. But it's probably her wisest course.

William F. Buckley, Jr. (1925-2008)

I was staggered to learn this morning of the death of William F. Buckley, Jr., founder of National Review and modern American conservatism; sometime editor of the magazine. Mr. Buckley, ill with emphysema, passed on sometime last night while in his study -- a fitting ending-place for a man whose work contributed so much to American political and intellectual life.
I shall never forget first discovering his magazine in the late 1970's, during Jimmy Carter's era of malaise. America, and freedom, had been defeated in Vietnam; political discourse was dominated by the friends and fellow-travellers of the 60's and 70's protesters; and too many of our teachers and professors mouthed the noxious platitudes of the flag-burners; malnourished us on the foul nostrums of the Left.
Finding a powerful conservative voice who so eloquently articulated, promoted and advocated a different political path, one that upheld and proclaimed the greatness of the nation, was a great encouragement and comfort in those drab, wrongheaded, spiritless political and intellectual times. Mr. Buckley now rests with God, and is thereby the infinite gainer, but the rest of us miss him now, when the country and conservatism both need someone like him so very badly.

Friday, February 22, 2008


I have this weird idea that the Democratic ticket is probably going to be Obama-Edwards. The weak spot in the Democratic array is going to be economically downscale white males, and Edwards, with his populist nostrums, might be of valuable assistance here. Not to mention he has good ties with the trial lawyers.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Tripping Up McCain

Huckabee is begging Texans to keep him in the race for the Republican nomination, the Ciudad El Jefe Comical (a/k/a the Houston Chronicle) reports. The only Republicans who will vote to keep the increasingly tiresome Huckabee in the race are those wanting President Obama or President Clinton come November.
Speaking of wanting the Democrat, the New York Times, after trying to trip up McCain with conservatives by endorsing him before the Florida primary, is now doing what it can to make trouble for McCain -- it has run a smear story this morning rehashing the decades old Keating Five scandal and insinuating that McCain had an affair with an attractive lady lobbyist. Both Senator McCain and the lobbyist deny the allegations. The interesting part is the alleged affair -- the piece doesn't come right out and say that McCain was sleeping with the lady, but the writers do all they can to drive the reader to that conclusion.
The story is based on a bunch of unnamed sources and advisors and a banking regulator who still thinks McCain got off too lightly in the Keating matter. Possibly the best comment on the piece is in the Real Clear Politics blog:
. . .Whatever one thinks of this NYT story, the McCain camp has two good defense tactics to use against it: 1.) The story is thinly sourced; and 2.) the NYT has not exactly upheld an unbiased standard of journalism in recent...decades. At least with this bomb, we know that the general election has certainly begun.
The McCain camp has vowed "war" with the Old Grey Tart. Presumably the McCain organization was ready for something like this, McCain's life has not in any sense been what one would call uninteresting. But at the most, the New York Times piece shows an obliviousness to appearances and a certain degree of conceit on the part of McCain, which is of a piece with the bull-in-the-china-shop personality he has that has driven the conservative big wigs through the roof. But if this is all the Times has in terms of sources and information, the cupboard is rather bare.
Apparently the story has been sitting around for awhile, at least since December. Jim Geraghty at National Review Online has the last word: "As far as we can tell, back in December, the article looked like an unfair, thinly-sourced hit piece on a possible Republican nominee; now it looks like an unfair, thinly-sourced hit piece on the likely Republican nominee." Conservative media appears to be rising to McCain's defense, one outlet reportedly calling an attack by the New York Times a "conservative badge of honor."

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Fidel Quitting ?

Tom Hagen: Do you know how they're gonna come at ya ?
Michael Corleone: They're arranging a meeting in Brooklyn. Tessio's ground, where I'll be "safe."
Tom Hagen: I always thought it would've been Clemenza, not Tessio...
Michael Corleone: It's the smart move -- Tessio was always smarter. But I'm gonna wait -- after the baptism. I've decided to be Godfather to Connie's baby. And then I'll meet with Don Barzini -- and Tattaglia -- all of the heads of the Five Families...
Robert Duval as "Tom Hagen" and Al Pacino as "Michael Corleone" during the funeral of "Vito Corleone" (Marlon Brando) in The Godfather (1972) (screenplay by Mario Puzo; directed by Francis Ford Coppola).
Fidel Castro, dictator of Cuba, says that he will not seek a new term as "President" or commander of the Cuban armed forces (Comandante en Jefe) when his puppet National Assembly meets late this week. The text of Castro's letter is here.
Until the old bastard is safely dead and buried under whatever gargantuan and tasteless mausoleum the Cuban commies will put him in (who knows, maybe it will even be finished before the regime goes ?) -- he may be "resigned" but he will certainly not be gone. Godfathers don't get to quit anyway. Mr. Castro is First Secretary of the Communist Party, which is the only job that really matters, (save for possibly running the military) and it's not clear if Fidel has given up the party job too.
Mr. Castro, who is 81 years old, has been ill for some time and probably wants to secure his positions for Brother Raul, (at age 77, no spring chicken himself), who is Acting President, Acting First Secretary, Acting Jefe of the Armed Forces, yadda, yadda, yadda, besides being First Vice President. More significantly, he's Minister of the "Revolutionary Armed Forces." I do wonder, though, if Raul and the Minister of the Interior, Corps General Abelardo Colome Ibarra, are on the same page ? General Colome runs the police. If Raul's about his business, he has the arrest lists all drawn up, if not, he won't last very long anyway.
I come back to this question of how much a resignation really means ? Retired Godfathers are so inconvenient. They still have more than a little influence, so they're not quite retired. At the same time, the younger people still active can see that the sick old Godfather is soon to be off for the Great Party meeting in the sky. The old man's influence declines daily, as people try to make their preparations for the future -- but he can still stick his nose into things. As I say, very inconvenient. Who guards Fidel ? Who do the doctors work for ? Who do they obey ? It's rough being an old dictator (Fidel) or the not-quite-new dictator (Raul). Sleep well, gentlemen.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Really Proud of America At Last

. . .What we have learned over this year is that hope is making a comeback. It is making a comeback and let me tell you something, For the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country. And not just because Barack has done well, but because I think people are hungry for change. I have been desperate to see our country moving in that direction and just not feeling so alone in my frustration and disappointment. I have seen people who are hungry to be unified around some basic common issues. It has made me proud.
Beg pardon, ma'am, but why is hunger for change and hunger to be "unified around some basic common issues" necessarily a reason for pride ? Should not the emotion of "pride" require more from us than vague, unspecified yearings for "change" and evocations of "hope?" Back in 1933 in Germany, a whole lot of people were "hungry for change" and "hungry to be unified around some basic common issues." I'm sure you'd agree that in that case, and in many others we could think of, simply being hungry for change and wanting desperately to be united around basic values is thin, even poisonous gruel upon which to feed pride.
Personally, I think the "hunger for change" and the desire to be "unified around some basic common issues" can be downright dangerous. Whether what you say you're proud of is good depends on what the "basic common issues" are, and what kind of change the hungry are hungering for. Your husband has the most liberal voting record in the whole United States Senate, and given some of the things that the ascendent liberal wing of your party stands for today -- such as withdrawal from Iraq at any price, looks to me like the kind of change your friends are hungry for falls into the foolhardy and dangerous column.
But more to the point, why is the present the first time in your adult lifetime that you've really been proud of your country ? Granted, you were five years old at the time Neil Armstrong walked on the moon (tell me what other place has done that !), but I find it more than passing strange that an American could not be proud as punch of her country every day, every hour of her life, simply because it's America, and her country. We don't need the "hunger for change" to be proud of our country. No, America is not perfect, by any means, but it has struggled longer and harder for justice and freedom for all of its people, and to bring justice and freedom to others, than any nation in the whole history of the world.
How can we not be proud of the nation that freed Kuwait and Afghanistan and liberated Baghdad ? How can we not be proud of a country that gives so many the right to be so horribly, tragically wrong about almost everything, and to shout it from the rooftops ad nauseum ? How can we not be proud of a nation that rescued Europe twice from bondage and whose soldiers and navies stand guard all over the world defending the planet's liberty and commerce. There are a universe of other reasons to be proud of our country, and not the least of the reasons to be proud of this country is the fact that Barack Obama, son of a Kenyan, can sit in the United States Senate.
So Mrs. Obama's a political novice, and she's managed to utter a stray paragraph at a rally just crying to be pounced on. No doubt her defenders are going to say exactly this, and that's fine, they have a right -- thanks to the work and blood of generations of Americans -- to think what they think, and so does Mrs. Obama. But for me, that's almost beside the point. I'm proud of America for all of the reasons listed, but I'm also proud of America, and have been since the day I was born -- because it's ours, it's our country. That's enough for me. Maybe Mrs. Obama gets that, and maybe not. Maybe the Democrats get it and maybe they don't. But I bet you your bottom dollar that John McCain does.
Hat tip: Drudge.

Kosovo Independence

As expected, the wayward Serbian province of Kosovo declared independence yesterday. A majority of its citizens wanted independence, as opposed to some kind of tie with Serbia; the place has a defined territory; a government more or less in possession; and some ability to defend itself. In consequence, the US government, quite properly, recognized the new state this morning, and at least some states (the Germans the British and others), may be expected to follow suit.

Lots of people and countries are not happy: Kosovo's Serb minority, mostly living on the new country’s border with Serbia, is definitely not happy. The Russians, the Spanish, the Greeks, and other states with restive minorities are not happy either. The Russians and the Serbs are going to demand something to assuage their unhappiness: I hope that the Kosovars will have the good sense to be negotiable on borders. If the Serbs on their borders want to be in Serbia, by all means let them.

I truly wish, however, that the US had not gotten involved with Kosovo’s problems, or in the breakup of Yugoslavia period. This was really a problem for the European powers (that is, the Germans, French, Italians and British) to deal with. The Clinton administration’s relentless determination to stick America’s nose into the Balkans has brought us nothing but entanglement in a region of little direct strategic significance to the US, and needless quarrels with powers such as Russia with which we already have issues enough.

That said, once America became involved, I think that the EU/State Department people who have been trying to force the Balkan secessionists to set up secular, ethnically diverse states in the Balkans are idiots who need their heads examined. The recent bloody history of ethnic cleansing in the Balkans should persuade even the most obstinate PC lawyer-type that multi-culti states in the Balkans are a fantasy. The only people who care about imposing such unworkable settlements on people who hate each other are the international bureaucrats, the professors and the lawyers. Had the US and EU (once they determined to interfere) aimed for partition from the outset, both in Kosovo and in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and helped buy-out and resettle people who lived on the wrong sides of borders, the whole process of undoing Yugoslavia might have been a good deal less bloody and expensive for everyone involved.
I am a little dubious about a new Muslim state in Europe, but only a little. A Muslim country in Europe is not exactly a new condition: there are others, and besides, the Ottoman Empire was in Europe for centuries, and the breakup of this entity (to the immediate benefit of a number of Christian kingdoms) contributed a good deal to the ruination of Europe and Christian civilization generally. There is no reason a new Muslim state in Europe has to be impermissible per se.
Kosovo is now an accomplished fact, and we have rightly recognized it. Good luck to the Kosavars, and may they have the good sense to have good manners in celebrating their good fortune.

Washington's Birthday

Today is the official celebration of George Washington's Birthday (the actual anniversary is 22 February). Despite the "President's Day" moniker popularly used, which also appears in the statute books of my own State, I prefer the older name for the holiday, which is also the name recognized in the Federal statute book (5 U.S.C. § 6103(a)). Our first President, still among the greatest, deserves so much more recognition than he now gets.
Leaving aside his military service, Washington's greatest bequest to us was his determination that our republic not be a banana republic: that it become a peaceful instrument of the law, governed by institutions administered by sober-minded men; and not just another creature to be ruled by a great leader, born out of partisan excitement and mob rule. Of course, we are all too aware that partisan excitement exists, abetted and inflamed by technologies that Washington and the founders could not forsee. So far, however, the tumult and the shouting of partisans and the factious have been successfully channeled and moderated by the laws and institutions the founders made and that Washington protected and helped to grow.
Virtually every day of his adult life, George Washington put his country over himself, and for this reason, he could be trusted with power. Probably the most important thing Washington ever did was to leave the Presidency at the expiration of his term. We owe Washington the universal expectation that our Presidents will regularly leave office; peacefully handing over the office to their successor of whatever party, in a regular manner. Few other states can boast such a record.
Washington deserves his own holiday, and perhaps someday we will remember what we owe him, and give him his day back.

Friday, February 15, 2008

The Ultimate Showdown ?

Over at Slate, Jeff Greenfield argues that Wisconsin should be the Ultimate Showdown for Hilla and St. Barack.
Maybe, but I'm inclined to think it's my own home State of Texas...With even decent luck, the battle will "rage... on for a century."

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Picking Up a Crown

El Jefe has been busy with work and other matters this week, so time to post has of necessity been limited. However, today is an interesting historical anniversary, hence this post.
Today in 1689, the British "Glorious Revolution" culminated in the proclamation of the stadtholder of the Dutch Republic, William, Prince of Orange and his wife Mary as King and Queen of England (Scotland would come later).
Proclamation of the new monarch was the result of William’s successful invasion of Britain in 1688 with a Dutch army – following an invitation from Protestant supporters in Britain. The Catholic King, James II, (William's father in law), deserted by his army and faithless adherents, fled the country along with his Queen and heir (“James III” or “the Old Pretender”) for France. Louis XIV gave King James, for his residence, the Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye (west of Paris) -- Louis XIV's own birthplace -- where, after a futile campaign to defend his Irish crown from William --King James spent most of the rest of his days. For the king, residing at this place possibly made up a little for having to go on living after losing three kingdoms.

William must have been quite a man: on paper his armies should have been insufficient and his fleet was no more than barely equal to King James’s. But William and his admirals evaded the Royal Navy; got William and his army (18,000 infantry, 3,000 cavalry) down and across the Channel and ashore intact (no foreigner since William the Conqueror has managed that); engineered the defection of James’s generals and politicians; intimidated the legitimate king out of the country without much shooting; filched himself King James’s crown; and, found his home country a new and powerful ally against France. Splendid work.

Still, I’ve never been much of an admirer of King William: although he's interesting. I’m not Catholic, but I confess to having more than a little sympathy for King James, incompetent monarch that he was. A foolish king certainly, but he was defending his birthright and (as he saw it) his country as best he knew how against a foreign invader and usurper, and he perhaps would have succeeded in keeping his throne had he been less passive, more ruthless with dissidents and wavering nobles, and more interested in fighting than trying to negotiate.
Not much relevance to anything now, of course, but, like The Godfather, an interesting story.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Obama Likes Che ?

Newsbusters has a photograph and link to a video (from Fox 26 Houston) that appear to show the St. Barack of Obama campaign office located right here in Ciudad El Jefe -- with a Cuban flag defaced with a picture of Che Guevara (a famous communist thug and terrorist) on it. (Another blog's description, with a bigger pic, here).
St. Barack is, you will remember, the candidate who does not like wearing American flag pins.
No doubt some phone calls will be (or have been) made, and the Che flag will be put away. But it is interesting.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

One Traitor Less ?

"There is a rumor that Adam Gadahn, (a/k/a "Azzām al-Amrīki" or "Azzam the American") the American traitor who makes pro-al Qaeda tapes taunting his countrymen with threats of destruction -- was killed 29 January in the same airstrike on a North Waziristan Pakistan safehouse that got al Qaeda boss Abu Laith al Libi. Probably this is too good to be true: a discussion of the evidence for and against the good news is available at The Long War Journal.
We can hope the report is true and Mr. Gadahn is in Hell, but no matter if not, it will be true soon enough.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Romney Out ?

Strong rumor this morning is that Romney is out. . .

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Undersea Cable Trouble

There have been a series of communications disruptions involving breaks in undersea cables that carry internet communications for parts of Asia and Africa, including Iran and Egypt. This is all most interesting, and I haven't a clue whether this is all an extremely odd set of coincidences or whether something, er, more directed, might be going on.
I might comment on this when I have time to look into it more thoroughly, but in the meantime, Wretchard's discussion over at Belmont Club, the associated links and the comments to his posts are a very good starting place.
Problems with the world's undeseas communications network serve to remind us and many others of an important strategic fact of life, which Wretchard explains very well:
This map of the world underwater cable network reveals one of the least appreciated aspects of seapower. The United States Navy, by its control of the oceans, has the potential ability to impose an information blockade on any country on earth in time of war and force any belligerent into using communications channels which it physically controls. Air Force control of outer space means that this blockade ability also extends to the use of communications satellites.

Americans perhaps forget this, but lots of other people, most assuredly, do not.

Super (Tsunami) Tuesday

I'm not even attempting to prognosticate this one: too many states, too many variables. If you're looking for informed predictions, try Blogging Caesar (see blogroll), or some of the links at Real Clear Politics (also in blogroll). I was hoping McCain could put it away today -- still hoping, but not as sure about that as I was: the talk radio crowd is making this harder than it has to be. We'll still get there in the end, but every day that goes on affects the Republicans' chances in the general election adversely.
As to the Democrats, Mrs. Clinton appears to be in some trouble. Personally, I'm hoping that fight goes on for a good while yet, but we'll see.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Super Bowl XLII

How did Eli Manning get out of that sack ? How did he make that pass ? How did David Tyree manage to catch it ? No question, Manning's Houdini move, at 3rd down and five yards to go with under two minutes was one of the greatest Super Bowl plays ever.
The New York Giants sure earned their rings last night. Too bad for New England (a truly great team), and their 19-0 gone-a-glimmering, but they were beaten fair and square. As somebody who remembers the old Miami Dolphins and 1972. . .that's not all bad.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Opportunity is Knocking

Republicans need to decide, now, whether they want to actually win the fast-approaching Presidential election, despite having an arguably flawed standard-bearer; or, alternatively, whether they want to act like Democrats and liberals: congratulating themselves for having an ideologically pure candidate who loses despite the purity of his ideological views.
Late last year, the Republicans looked like sure losers this election cycle. But, despite the lamentations of some conservatives, things are actually looking up in terms of stopping the lefties who would ruin our war effort; saddle our children with even more astronomical debt burdens; and shackle us with an even more formidable regulatory state. Iraq is doing better, and the assassination of Mrs. Bhutto has reminded everyone that the world is not ready to sing Kumbaya, no matter how much our lefty loons may want to. The Republicans have a window of opportunity, to borrow Reagan's phrase -- which they ought to be rarin' to jump through. But the only person the window's open for in this election cycle is McCain.
What is it with Democrats ? They should OWN this election, completely. Just like the elections of 2000. The Democrats should have owned that one too -- it was pre 9/11 and nothing was happening in the world, and the economy was doing relatively well. However, the Democrats threw away their chances by nominating a robotized block of wood who probably couldn't successfully promote a free wine and beer fiesta.
The 2000 election shouldn't have even been close: the sitting Vice President in a good economy against the nationally inexperienced son of unpopular George, derided by Ann Richards as "poor George, born with a silver spoon in his mouth"? The Democrats should have cleaned the floor with George W. Bush, but they were so inept and clumsy it came down to dimpled chads and lawyers, and by God's grace, they came off second-best.
Oh, but they could top that. In 2004, they went on to give us Plastic Man, who was for it before he was against it -- who managed to lose it all, not entirely thanks to W's brilliant "Strategery," and despite a deeply unpopular war.
But now, we have conservatives acting like Democrats; conservatives who, despite the failure of efforts to stop John McCain so far -- are demanding that we all "rally to Romney" -- who appears to be a boring bust of a candidate so far, because he is supposedly more conservative than the less than ideologically pure John McCain.
Why are conservatives upset ? Things are moving our way, because the inept Democrats are just the stupid party that just keeps on giving. Yes, the Democrats again have a death wish this election cycle -- which figures -- after all they're the party that offers abortion as a holy sacrament. On the one hand, they're offering the country a candidate whose main qualification for high office is that she stayed loyally married to her President husband no matter what he did to her; and said husband discharged his obligation by helping Hillary secure a Senate seat. Now, as Charles Krauthammer so trenchantly points out -- Bill seeks to redeem his own lackluster, wasted eight years by securing Hillary the White House.
As an aside, I'll say one thing for Hillary. She has an eye for the main chance; and clearly sacrifices whatever she must to reach the objective. Coldness is an asset for a ruler (this is what she aspires to be) and she has that in spades. But the Republicans can take Hillary.
Then we have St. Barack of Obama -- a complete media creation -- untried, untested with no experience and an almost perfect ultra-liberal voting record who, despite this, promises to unite the country. I suppose all of us conservatives are expected to just surrender and be united.
Far from being broken. . .conservatives now have an opportunity. The Democrats are on the verge of making another giant mistake -- they are locked into one now no matter what they do. Either they restore the Clintons, with all the attendant baggage that brings -- or they go with Obama, untried, untested, inexperienced and the most liberal -- by miles and miles -- person to ever be nominated for anything. They can take him too.
The zany Democrats are offering the Republicans yet another political jackpot -- just moving themselves into position for another memorable pasting. All that Republicans have to do is just reach for and seize the chance, by nominating John McCain as our Presidential standard-bearer -- a man who is a certified war hero, that the Democratic slime machine cannot touch, cannot even dent; who appeals to independents -- and who, if one reads the polls can -- unlike Mitt Romney -- actually win an election.
Somebody tell me what's wrong with winning ? So McCain's not Reagan. Nobody is, nobody could be, and we have to stop expecting somebody to live the 80's over. Reagan's dead, and not even Reagan, were he alive today, could produce victory for a crowd of spiteful children who will drown us all because they loathe the man who is offering our country a life preserver.
Yes, by all means, let us fight McCain, on matters we need to fight him on. We can quibble about immigration, campaign finance, judicial appointments and anything we like later. But one battle at a time. Conservatives have no reason to be unhappy or hurting now. Lets take the hurting to the lefties and argue later. Lets beat the Democrats first.