Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Rudy Giuliani drops out of the race

Rudy Giuliani officially withdrew his candidacy today, the day after the Florida primary.

My personal point of view is that Giuliani just had too many negatives to win. Let's face it, a Giuliani-Clinton match-up in the general election would have been a nine-month symphony of devastating anti-Giuliani attacks. Liberals around the country were practically drooling with glee over the prospect of "swift-boating" Giuliani in 2008.

An alternative way of looking at the downfall of Giuliani is by observing that the mainstream media very deliberately torpedoed his campaign. The Politico has some good analysis of this (provided that you read between the lines). For example:
But in the ensuing years — as the war in Iraq plummeted in popularity, concern over imminent attacks ebbed, and Americans became increasingly worried about the economy — the evocative image of Giuliani managing a city under attack became less and less relevant.
You see, as long as President Bush was "Mr. 90% Approval Rating", lionizing Giuliani gave liberals a way of expressing patriotism after 9/11 without opening expressing support for Bush. Now it's 2008 and Bush's approval rating is swirling around and around the bowl refusing to flush, so Giuliani's function for liberals has simply vanished. Liberals don't need to praise Giuliani to make Bush pale by comparison when Iraq is doing that job admirably for them.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

McCain and torture

Here's Andrew Sullivan trumpeting McCain as the man who will end torture in America:
One final point: a McCain nomination means one thing for sure. The era of legal, authorized torture in America is coming to a close. This is a critical moment. And it is more than fitting that a man who endured torture at the hands of America's enemies should now be picked to restore American honor after the disgrace of Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld.
There has been one thing about McCain's torture stance that has never been clear to me. The various terrorist groups in conflict with the United States (a) make no distinction between civilians and soldiers when planning their attacks; (b) deliberately obfuscate the distinction between themselves and non-combatants to deter retaliation against themselves; (c) commit civilian atrocities without scruple on a regular basis; (d) torture, multilate, and murder prisoners that they take captive; (e) specifically organize themselves to defeat the civilian law-enforcement establishment when it gets in their way; (f) specifically target government officials in order to destabilize civilian government when it gets in their way; and (g) have already committed the most notorious civilian mass atrocity in recent history.

Yet, despite being an unrestrained general menace upon world peace and order, Americans are still supposed to accord terrorists with the full slate of legal, human, and Geneva rights and privileges. On the other hand, if United States soldiers make the slightest deviation from perfect propriety in their treatment of terrorist prisoners, then those soldiers are war criminals and potentially liable to penalties imposed by foreign governments. Could someone please explain to me why putting panties on a terrorist's head is subject to harsher liberal disapproval than, say, blowing up a school bus full of children?

McCain and Clinton win Florida

98% of precincts have reported results according to Let's rock.

  • John McCain 36%: He only beat Mitt Romney by five percentage points today. Yes, it's his second big win in a row against Romney, but no, let's not offer McCain the pearl diadem and purple toga quite yet.

  • Mitt Romney 31%: I'm sure the Romney campaign would have liked to put Romney over the top in Florida to give him some Mitt-mentum going into the February 5th primaries. On the other hand, Romney has been contesting the primary elections one by one on a national basis, and he's been staying competitive each time. Solid second place doesn't sound like much, but it's a whole lot better than what Giuliani and Huckabee have going for them.

  • Rudy Giuliani 15%: He put all of his chips on Florida and just barely beat Mike "Mr. 14% of the Vote" Huckabee. The conventional wisdom all through today is that Giuliani, whether by accident or design, seriously damaged his campaign with his Florida strategy. It could be that Giuliani can still salvage his campaign with big wins next week. I'd be more confident of those big wins if Giuliani had done better today.

  • Mike Huckabee 14%: He couldn't beat Giuliani, and rumors are rife that Giuliani is dropping out of the race any day now. At least a win in Iowa in 2008 gives him a solid jumping-off point for the 2012 campaign.

  • Ron Paul 3%: His importance is not his in pathetically small voting base, but in his evolution of the tactics of insurgency campaigning for future third-party/insurgent candidates. Here's the Dean/Paul model for an insurgent campaign in a nutshell:

    1. Form a hard-core cadre of fanatically devoted nutballs.

    2. Define yourself as "the only candidate who really believes in X", where X is something believed in by your rivals with inferior ideological purity. The pioneering examples are X="following the Constitution" (Ron Paul) and X="being a Democrat" (Howard Dean).

    3. Make sure that your followers compulsively chant the mantra at all times. Only the public's ignorance of the true importance of X is keeping them from recognizing your inherent greatness as the one true believer in X.

    4. Bash conservatives to get media attention until you get elected.

  • Hillary Clinton 50%: The Florida race is another uncontested win for Hillary Clinton, so don't read too much into this. On the other hand, despite the fact that Florida and Michigan have been penalized with a 100% loss of the Democrats by the DNC, Hillary Clinton is nevertheless making a push to have delegates from these states pledged to her at the national convention. Her opponents are arguing that this would be a serious breach of party rules. Clinton's reply is something along the lines of "Rules are for Republicans, dude."

  • Barack Obama 33%: He didn't contest the election and got 33%. In any ordinary election year, this would be a decent result in an uncontested primary. Against Hillary Clinton, staying out of Florida might have been a tactical mistake.

  • John Edwards 14%: He also didn't contest the election, but he also ended up adding weight to the impression that he is a third-place loser. On the bright side, losing builds character, and as an "empty suit", character is the primary thing that you're lacking.

  • Dennis Kucinich 1%: He also didn't contest the election, or maybe he did and nobody noticed.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Rise of the machines

Tomorrow's news will bring us a declaration of war from the Kennedy machine against the Clinton machine with the Democratic nomination as the prize:
Senator Edward M. Kennedy will endorse Barack Obama for president tomorrow, breaking his year-long neutrality to send a powerful signal of where the legendary Massachusetts Democrat sees the party going -- and who he thinks is best to lead it.

Kennedy confidantes told the Globe today that the Bay State's senior senator will appear with Obama and Kennedy's niece, Caroline Kennedy, at a morning rally at American University in Washington tomorrow to announce his support.

That will be a potentially significant boost for Obama as he heads into a series of critical primaries on Super Tuesday, Feb. 5.
The Kennedy machine is the force that slapped down Howard Dean in the 2004 primaries, which means that it should have plenty of media power to throw against the Clintons in 2008. This means that the Clintons might have to accept slightly less than total media dominance in an election campaign. The prospect of having to appear in public or interact with other human beings in public without 100%-friendly media coverage is, quite simply, Hillary Clinton's worst nightmare come true.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Obama wins South Carolina

With 98% of precincts reporting from the South Carolina primary according to, we have:
  • Barack Obama 55%: In any normal election year, this would be a solid, possibly decisive election triumph. This year, winning 2-to-1 in South Carolina is how you lose the primary election, because the conventional wisdom is that the winning candidate has to be white, but also really really black, but not so black as to be literally black, because that would make the candidate way too white. Welcome to the 2008 Democratic Party.

  • Hillary Clinton 27%: As is usual in Hillaryland, this election result was not her fault. According to the pro-Clinton media barrage of the last week, Obama is the new Sharpton: an unscrupulous race-hustler using demagoguery, outright lies, and the worst form of race-baiting to win, whatever the cost. Last year, the media buzz was that Obama was too white to become president. This week, the media buzz is that Obama is too black to become president: by making a targeted appeal to African-American voters to put himself over the top in South Carolina, Obama is supposedly inviting a nation-wide white backlash against his campaign.

  • John Edwards 18%: Sure, he keeps achieving only third place in primary after primary. On the other hand, surely he must have noticed that his fortunes are linked with Obama's. That is, whenever Obama does well in a primary, Edwards tends to come close to beating Hillary to break into second place. So maybe it makes sense for Edwards to stand aside and let Obama wage World War Hillary by himself. If Obama ends up winning out over Hillary in the primary campaign, Edwards might be the major beneficiary if Hillary starts losing delegates.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Dennis Kucinich is done for 2008.

Dennis Kucinich finally dropped out of the 2008 race, presumably to make an early start on 2012. Kucinich would probably agree that his campaign's failure was, in part, a victim of circumstances. With World War Hillary being waged all around him, he just didn't have the battalions to be much more than an annoyance.

Carbon is the new "bling"*

The rich and trendy have finally caught on to the social implications of Al Gore's religious crusade against carbon consumption, because everybody knows that lives of stark, utilitarian carbon conservation are for the "little people". Call it carbon-consumption chic.

Our first winner in the carbon-consumption game is Beckham:
Beckham's Carbon Footprint — a measure of the impact human activities have on the environment in terms of the amount of green house gases produced, measured in units of carbon dioxide — may be the largest in human history.

No, Beckham isn't breathing any more or less than anyone else, but his extensive air travel for matches and endorsement obligations, along with his fleet of cars and homes, has provided the statistics for Carbon Trust.

The former England captain logged over 250,000 miles last year as he flew back and forth between the U.S. and Europe for England's European Championship qualifiers, while also participating in a Galaxy tour of Oceania in the latter part of the year.

Beckham and his wife Victoria also collected over 50,000 frequent flyer miles for advertising obligations around the globe.

Collectively, Beckham flew farther in 2007 than a trip from the earth to the moon.

At home, Beckham owns a fleet of 15 cars, including a Porsche, a Hummer and a Lincoln Navigator.
Beckham is heretofore destined to be a standing outrage to the environmental movement. The man's profession is kicking around an inflated rubber ball (occasionally beating it with his skull), yet he needs a fleet of gas-guzzling vehicles on stand-by in case he wants to spend more than 24 hours at a time in a single time zone. Yet the global-warming crowd can't even touch the guy. Posh Spice needs her carbon, baby!

Winner number two in the carbon consumption craze is Bono:
Acknowledging that a career in rock music was not always conducive to a green lifestyle, Bono compared a conversation with Gore to an act of religious contrition.

"It's like being with an Irish priest. You start to confess your sins," he said. "Father Al, I am not just a noise polluter, I am a noise-polluting, diesel-soaking, gulfstream-flying rock star.

"I'm going to kick the habit. I'm trying father Al, but oil has been very good for me -- those convoys of articulated lorries, petrochemical products, hair gel."
Don't you know who I am? I'm a bloody rock god. You can't take my carbon away from me!

* Technically speaking, much bling is made out of carbon.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Fred Thompson drops out.

When Pfizer starts planning a new set of Viagra commercials with a presidential hopeful in mind, you know it's over. Whether you love Thompson or hate him, you have to admit that he blew it, big time. He entered the nomination contest to the sound of cheers and acclaim and left it wading knee-deep in mud. On the bright side, his political career isn't necessarily over. Maybe Fred will be made a member of the cabinet of some future television president's administration.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

American films love trashing New York City. Why?

Dana Stevens asks the question in her review of the new film "Cloverfield" (author's italics, embedded hyperlinks removed):
I'm more interested in how Cloverfield plays on 9/11 anxieties—not in the way one "plays out" issues in therapy, but in the way one plays a video game. 2008 has already seen a notable uptick in America's historical eagerness to eradicate New York in our imagination. Besides Cloverfield and I Am Legend, there's the upcoming History Channel special Life After People, whose ubiquitous poster shows a crumbling Brooklyn Bridge overgrown with vines. As this fine piece in the Guardian points out, Americans seem almost soothed by replaying the fantasy of our flagship city in ruins. What's that about?
The article from the Guardian that she mentions approached the question from a slightly different direction (embedded hyperlinks removed):
But America also has its destruction myth, inevitably set in New York, whose reduction to rubble both confirms that city's pre-eminence and signals that the stakes are high. The spectacle of NY landmarks (the Brooklyn Bridge, the Flatiron Building) being totalled is as much a recurring obsession for American filmmakers as among the higher echelons of al-Qaida. I can't recall another culture - even the Sumerians, no strangers to fatalism - which has rehearsed its own extinction with such apparent relish.
The key connection that the two articles miss, although the Guardian is closer to it than Dana Stevens, is that what we're seeing is not 9/11 anxiety translated into horror form but biblical imagery translated into modern form.

Consider Stevens's opinion that New York City is America's flagship city? Whatever advantages New York City might have over other cities in terms of pure commercial success, New York City was never intended by the Founding Fathers to be America's flagship city. Instead, Washington, D.C. was supposed to be America's symbol and moral capital. It was intended to be a city that would be created anew as a republic's seat of government without the taint of monarchical corruption that had infected the older cities during British rule. In Jefferson's conception, cities were inherently corruptive for their inhabitants, so it would be far better for a republican capital to be untainted by temptations of commericial and speculative wealth that flowed into the great port cities.

It follows that New York City as an emblem of corruption and sinfulness in the American mindset is what makes it a magnet for destructive acts of nature in film, where destructive acts of nature presumably includes attacks by animalistic super-monsters as in "Cloverfield". The sex scenes and hedonistic parties by the young people simply emphasize this point. The ultimate message is one that occurs over and over again in the Old Testament of the Bible: God is going to smite down the sinful and make nice with the righteous survivors (if any).

The emphasis on hip, young New Yorkers using their cell phones to take pictures of the immanent destruction serves as a form of irony. The biblical equivalent might be residents of Gomorrah worrying about anal lubricant while watching Sodom get obliterated by fire and brimstone. Obviously God is so great that He doesn't have to rely just on brute force to get His point across; He can come up with heavily ironic, postmodern "screw you" punishements as well. The difference between "Cloverfield" and "I am Legend" is a matter of degree in exactly this sense. In "I am Legend", we have not just New York City but all of humanity condemned and reduced to a righteous remnant, but also with an added dose of horror and humiliation when most of the surviving humans end up as vampires.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

McCain wins South Carolina

Only the Republicans have their primary today. Here's where things stand with 97% of precincts reporting according to

  • John McCain 33%: The mainstream media has been very insistent that South Carolina was McCain's Waterloo in the 2000 election, so the fact that McCain won here must be personally satisfying to him. Whether this will propel him to the nomination is another matter. With eight years to prepare for his South Carolina victory, McCain still only managed to just squeeze out a win over party rival Mike Huckabee. This makes me wonder if McCain's support isn't weaker than this victory might lead me to believe. In other words, McCain seems to be doing well now that we're in the relatively tightly scripted early stages of the primary season. Will he still be doing that well when we have the general free-for-all on February 5?

  • Mike Huckabee 30%: He's only a few percentage points behind McCain in South Carolina. That's a pretty small margin in a key state, but as the engineers who comment on politics suggest, you don't really want to be in a position where you're hoping that the margins go your way.

  • Fred Thompson 16%: Grandpa Simpson woke up tonight and beat Romney! Here is a golden opportunity to test the "Stalking Horse" theory: see if Thompson spends the time between now and the Florida primary attacking Giuliani. If Thompson attacks McCain, then it'll look like Thompson is trying to build his way back to front-runner status. If Thompson attacks Giuliani, it'll look like Thompson is sabtoging McCain's cheif rival in Florida.

  • Mitt Romney 15%: He seems to do well when nobody else spends money against him, which is nothing to sneeze at. That's also not a long term strategy for winning anything. Romney did win Michigan, so he might still be saving his resources for a better battleground state than South Carolina.

  • Ron Paul 4%: He seems to have caught a case of Romney-itis. He does well when nobody else is spending money against him, but gets clobbered whenever the party titans contest the race. Unfortunately, this might be a symptom of a more severe condition called loser-itis.

  • Rudy Giuliani 2%: February 5 should be his big day, but he's expected to be strong in Florida.

  • Duncan Hunter 0%: Hunter has abandoned the Republican primary contest after the results from Nevada and South Carolina.

Romney and Clinton win Nevada

Here are the results with 90% of Democratic precincts and 87% of Republican precincts reporting, as reported by

  • Mitt Romney 53%: Today's big Republican battle is in South Carolina, not Nevada, so don't read too much into this number. On the other hand, as we'll see below, it's always nice to build a reputation for winning.

  • Ron Paul 13%: That Ron Paul finished in second place is probably going to be trumpeted all across the libertarian blogosphere in the coming days. In part, Ron Paul is running an excellent insurgent campaign buoyed by a suprisingly large base of irrationally exuberant supporters. In part, it's the weakness of some of the other conservative candidates which is giving Ron Paul an opening.

    It seems to me that Fred Thompson's state's rights/federalism emphasis would be the obvious second choice for Paul's libertarian base, so it would make sense for Thompson to put some energy into driving Paul out of the race. If Thompson is doing this, he's really failing miserably, because the conservative media is more interested in Thompson attacking Mike Huckabee than anything else. Of course, one could flip the argument around nicely and observe that the next logical step is for Paul to focus on Thompson and drive him out of the race. If Paul could pick up Thompson's solid 4% of the base and add it to his roughly 10% of the base, that could set him up for big things in the future.

  • John McCain 13%: The mainstream media has been pretty insistant that South Carolina is the make-or-break state for McCain, so this weak showing here probably doesn't mean much.

  • Mike Huckabee 8%: Again, this may be a case of Huckabee placing his eggs in other baskets. If there is a real problem from this result, it's that it makes Huckabee look like a natural loser to McCain. That is to say that it makes it look like that Republicans naturally gravitate towards McCain over Huckabee unless Huckabee spends money to sway them back to himself. I'd bet that the Huckabee campaign wouldn't be too happy about that.

  • Fred Thompson 7%: The conservative media has been focused on Grandpa Simpson catching fire in South Carolina, so this result doesn't mean much in absolute terms. In relative terms, this is something of a win for Thompson. Sure, he got beat by the three front runners and Ron Paul, but he did also beat his 1% showing in New Hampshire and squashed Duncan Hunter's chance of breaking out of last place.

  • Rudy Giuliani 4%: It goes without saying that Giuliani just isn't going to be a factor in these campaigns until February 5. As I mentioned before, expect to see the mainstream media pushing Giuliani in the week or so before then.

  • Duncan Hunter 2%: As much as I'd like to see Hunter acknowledge reality and drop out of the contest, with only 2% of the vote and probably very little money entering his campaign, Hunter is not really hurting anyone by staying in.

  • Hillary Clinton 51%: You can see the importance of building a reputation for winning based on the campaign strategy of the Clinton campaign. They spend every hour of every day beating down on Barack Obama's reputation. Barack Obama literally cannot open his mouth without the Clinton trying to shove words into it. Whenever he says something on the campaign trail, the Clintons immediately try to throw it back at him. When Barack Obama looks like he is going to win a primary, the Clintons are the first ones to cry "Voter Fraud! Voter Fraud!".

    In short, the Clintons are waging total war against Obama, and these slight victories in minor states are going to start giving the impression that Obama is waging less than total war in return. That perception might cost Obama the election.

  • Barack Obama 45%: A few days ago, I thought that he might have finally checkmated Hillary Clinton to build a win in the Nevada primary. I should have known better. The Clintons are the most ruthless campaigners, as well as the worst losers, in the history of American politics. So if Barack Obama thinks he has anything "in the bag", he might want to think again.

  • John Edwards 4%: I was impressed by his 17% in New Hampshire, but disappointed by his 4% here. This might be another case of a candidate saving his resources for a key state later in the contest. He might want to find a way to win soon or it might appear that the Edwards campaign will be the latest victim of World War Hillary.

  • Dennis Kucinich 0%: On the bright side, Kucinich can say that he actually ran for president and didn't get exactly zero support. There are plenty of fourth-party candidates -- the candidates of the various people's, worker's, and socialist minor parties come to mind -- that can't even dream of touching the success story that is Kucininch.

Friday, January 18, 2008

An excellent reason why engineers aren't put in charge of the political system.

It's because engineers admire how Fred Thompson's laid-back campaign style makes efficient use of resources (embedded hyperlink removed):
I'm actually quite pleased with Fred Thompson's campaign style to date. It saddens me that so many others, who would be otherwise disposed to vote for him, are not. I'm saddened that they think that he needs to stoke a "fire in the belly," rather than simply employ the minimum resources needed to win the election. You would think that the warm-mongers would be pleased at Fred's lack of energy and want to vote for him, to help save the planet. As an engineer, I'm extremely impressed with his efficiency. As a result, it's very frustrating to know that, if everyone who would vote for him "if he only had a chance" would actually vote for him, that he'd have a chance. It's kind of the reverse of Yogi Berra's old saying that "no one goes downtown any more; it's too crowded."
The problem with the Fred Thompson campaign right now can be summed up with a single number: 1996. That's because Fred Thompson running against Hillary Clinton in the 2008 general election would be just as much of a bloodbath as Bob Dole running against Bill Clinton in the 1996 general election. It doesn't matter how conservative Thompson is, or how intelligent he is, or how thoughtful he is. If Fred and Hillary are the two major-party nominees, the Republicans might as well start filming the new set of viagra commercials now.

Of course, the author of this post anticipated that reaction, and in response, he accuses Republican primary voters of the same sort of lethargy (or faux-lethargy) that he supposedly admires in Fred Thompson. Left unsaid is that voters with "fire in their bellies" are generally the ones that win elections for politicians. There are exceptions to that rule, which is to say that certain presidental candidates have been selected by a sort of diffuse general acclaim instead of an active nationwide political campaign. Unfortunately, the exceptions involve candidates with a lot more than "unremarkable two-term Senator" at the top of their resumes.

He also argues, that being a do-nothing president isn't a bug; it's a feature:
I don't want a president, or a presidential candidate, who is frenetically scurrying around, appearing to be doing something, particularly two years before the swearing in. If he's really a conservative (as he claims to be, though I'm not necessarily), I'm perfectly happy with a president who, when demanded to do something, just stands there. And as a libertarian, opposed to big government, I'm happy to have a president who will think before acting, and who believes that the first instinct should not be to pass yet another federal law.
I'm not sure if the author seriously expects the Republican masses to happily march along with the Fred Thompson banner and it's proud slogan: "I'm just a bump on a log! Ham sandwich for president!".

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Is Arnold Schwarzenegger still a moderate?

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger of California is notorious for his "post-partisan" stance within the Republican party. So it was something of a surprise to see that he wants to balance California's budget by cutting state spending:
Arnold Schwarzenegger’s tough stance on climate change and a recent willingness to engage with Democratic rivals in the California state legislature has won praise and backing from across the US political spectrum.

But a series of drastic spending cuts announced in the last few days, aimed at reducing a gaping $14.5bn (€9.9bn, £7.4bn) budget deficit has taken the sheen off the former movie star’s tenure as California governor.

Mr Schwarzenegger has caused a public outcry with a series of measures aimed at curbing spending. The radical proposals include cutting the state’s education budget, closing some of its most popular parks and releasing some prison inmates early.
Cutting spending is a stereotypically Republican conservative move. Is Arnold Schwarzenegger still a moderate? There are two possibilities.
  1. Schwarzenegger really is back to being a conservative after realizing that his mushy moderation, in part, contributed to California's budget mess.

  2. Schwarzenegger is still a mushy moderate and is just proposing the most politically incorrect spending cuts that he can in order to build support for a tax hike.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

How to convert PC-users to Mac-users in 10 seconds.

Just show them this article:
Microsoft submitted a patent application in the US for a “unique monitoring system” that could link workers to their computers. Wireless sensors could read “heart rate, galvanic skin response, EMG, brain signals, respiration rate, body temperature, movement facial movements, facial expressions and blood pressure”, the application states.
I guess there is a large pool of jobs out there that can't be automated, can't be outsourced to India, and require so little human contact that they need a heart monitor to determine when you drop dead at your desk.

On the bright side, a lot of people won't mind having their jobs outsourced to India after this. If I were a computer programmer facing a choice between (a) "Would you like french fries with that?"; or (b) inserting a Microsoft-monitored, cyberdildonic, anal temperature probe every morning; I think I'll pick option (a).

Romney and Clinton win Michigan

Here are's results with 99% of precincts counted. Starting with the Republicans:

  • Mitt Romney 39%: The mainstream media kept saying the Romney needs to win Michigan to stay in the race, and he did win Michigan. I'm sure that losing Michigan wouldn't have been fatal to his campaign, but it's always nice to be a member of the winner's club.

  • John McCain 30%: He did better than his rival for second place, Mike Huckabee, but I think he was hoping that New Hampshire would carry him over the top here. This makes me wonder if the McCain "surge" from New Hampshire is starting to expend itself.

  • Mike Huckabee 16%: This is Huckabee's second third-place finish in a row now. I don't think that Huckabee is going to quit the race over this (of the Republican candidates, Huckabee seems to be the best at surprises). On the other hand, if Huckabee was auditioning to be the vice-presidential candidate, I think he's made his point by now.

  • Ron Paul 6%: This is great news for Ron Paul, but 6% is another drop-off the 10% from Iowa and the 8% in New Hampshire. On the other hand, he almost beat both Fred Thompson and Rudy Giuliani combined.

  • Fred Thompson 4%: Grandpa Simpson is still stuck in the single-digits. Conservative talk radio has been helping to prop up his campaign by spotlighting a debate appearance and reassuring conservatives that he isn't just a McCain puppet. It could still be that Thompson is saving his resources for some key battleground state in the future, hoping to turn his campaign around with an unexpected victory. On the other hand, even if he did win a few state primaries, nominating "Aw-shucks" Fred to face Hillary Clinton in the general election would be a total massacre -- 1996 all over again.

  • Rudy Giuliani 3%: Giuliani wasn't going to contend the primaries until February 5. If we see a massive rise in irrational enthusiasm for Giuliani in the mainstream media sometime before then, then we'll know that Giuliani is making his move.

  • Duncan Hunter 1%: He only did six times worse than "uncommitted" this time around. That might be considered progress for the Hunter campaign. I'm beginning to suspect that the only reason Hunter hasn't conceeded the race is that "Current Presidential Candidate" is a line-item on his resume.

  • Hillary Clinton 55%: The other main candidates didn't contest this primary, but don't think that this will stop the Clintons from trumpeting this as a major win. There was even a certain amount of effort from supporters of the other candidates to push support towards "uncommitted", possibly in an attempt to keep Clinton from reaching 50%.

  • Dennis Kuchinich 4%: It must be depressing when you've reached the point in your life where people tell you "don't quit your day job" and you think to yourself "You're right. I shouldn't drop out of the race yet".

  • Mike Gravel 0%: More shadow boxing from the Gravel campaign. The fact that conceeded-loser Joe Biden didn't appear on the ballot must have given Gravel hope that he could finally pull ahead of other conceeded-loser Chris Dodd. Unfortunately, that did not happen.

Just in case you were wondering if the next "Star Trek" film was going to be any good,

you now have your answer: no. The basic problem with the franchise is that we continue to get people with, basically, no clue about how "Star Trek" is supposed to work. For example, consider these remarks made by Zachary Quinto, who might be playing Spock in the next film:
Quinto, who was also present [at the ComicCon "Trek" panel], said he was excited about recreating the character of Spock with Nimoy's help and blessing. "It is pretty incredible to be part of something so iconic," Quinto said, "and to be doing with the support and involvement of the man who created the role is a true honor. I certainly intend to bring my own spin on it and working with these guys I am sure we will find that."
Anyone who knows anything about Spock knows that the whole point of the character is that you don't get to put your own spin on him during your portrayal*. The character is not supposed to have emotions or an ego. You don't get to play the "young, hip Spock". Vulcans aren't hip, even when they're young. Their entire culture is devoted to rooting out the last little bits of hipness that they have left and making them not-hip.

For more evidence that the cluelessness goes straight to the top this time, we move on to remarks made by writer/director J. J. Abrams:
No Kirk, young or old, has been cast, though Abrams exhibited a strong desire to find a way to bring William Shatner into the film. "We are desperately trying to find a way to put him in this movie," Abrams said of Shatner. "The truth is: it needs to be worthy of him – it needs to be worthy of you – it needs to be worthy to the movie. We cannot just shove him in."
A movie role has to be worthy of Shatner? Shatner's role in a movie needs to be worthy of us? Obviously this Abrams guy is from the parallel universe where the William Shatners are revered for their dramatic acting and the Laurence Oliviers do the dog-food commercials.

Update: In case anyone connected with "Star Trek" ever encounters this post, let me state for the record that there is only one actor with the power to "save" the franchise. Only one man has the presence, the will, and the drive to carry the franchise into the future. That man -- more Shatner than Shatner himself -- is Kenneth Branagh.

* The only exception is when Spock gets separated from his katra. Anything goes after that.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Clinton smear machine keeps going, and going, and going....

It's amazing how the Clintons never seem to tire of launching the worst types of attacks upon their opponents. Not matter how filthy or pathetic the politics, the Clintons are more than willing to "go there" if they think it's good for them.

For example, there is the Clinton doctrine that only rich, powerful whites can possibly understand the political interests of African Americans:
Democrat John Edwards on Sunday waded into a dispute between his rivals, criticizing comments by Hillary Rodham Clinton and her husband that some have considered disparaging to Barack Obama and black people generally.

"I must say I was troubled recently to see a suggestion that real change that came not through the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King but through a Washington politician. I fundamentally disagree with that," Edwards told more than 200 people gathered at a predominantly black Baptist church.

Sen. Hillary Clinton recently was quoted as saying King's dream of racial equality was realized only when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, while Bill Clinton said Obama was telling a "fairy tale" about his opposition to the Iraq war.
Here's another example:
During the televised interview, Hillary Clinton praised King as one of the people she "admired most in the world," and suggested his record of activism stood in stark contrast to Obama's.

"Dr. King didn't just give speeches. He marched, he organized, he protested, he was gassed, he was beaten, he was jailed," she said, noting King had campaigned for Johnson because he recognized the need to elect a president who could enact civil rights into law.
Conveniently ignored is that fact that Hillary Clinton never did any of those things either; generally speaking, she was too busy cashing in on her golden ticket to the highest echelons of wealth and power to spend much time getting beaten or jailed.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Yet another presidential campaign ends.

Reports are coming in that Bill Richardson has dropped out of the presidential contest.

In a different election year, Richardson might have been a contender to win the nomination. This year, with World War Hillary being waged all around him, Richardson just didn't have enough battalions to stay competitive.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Clinton and McCain win New Hampshire.

I have the vote totals for 95% of the precinct results of the New Hampshire primaries reported by Here's a list of candidates and an analysis of what their fraction of the vote means for them.
  • John McCain 37%: Winning the New Hampshire primary for McCain is the rough equivalent of Gary Kasparov playing 1. d4 to open a chess game. It's a move that won't knock McCain's opponent off the board, but it was still a necessary move to open up the contest for him. The McCain candidacy is now officially alive and running

  • Mitt Romney 32%: Romney is doing great, on average.

  • Mike Huckabee 11%: It's interesting that Huckabee and McCain have switched positions between Iowa and New Hampshire. I wonder if this is due to the intrinsic voting preferences of Iowa and New Hampshire or whether this is due to an "alignment" of political needs. In other words, is Iowa the anti-New Hampshire, or did Huckabee and McCain agree to swap New Hampshire for Iowa? Good thing I didn't fall for the Huckabee hype coming out of Iowa, though.

  • Rudy Giuliani 9%: Giuliani beat his fraction of the vote from Iowa this time around, which is a plus. February 5 is still the make or break day for him, so don't expect anything different than single-digit results until then.

  • Ron Paul 8%: You can spin this result two ways. You can argue that Paul underperformed compared to Iowa, or you can argue that Ron Paul almost outperformed Giuliani again. Either way, it's still a decent showing for the third-party fringe.

  • Fred Thompson 1%: The biggest result of the night is that Grandpa Simpson's presidential campaign crashed and burned in New Hampshire. It's simply mind-boggling that Fred Thompson thought that he could win the election by running a campaign that was so lackluster as to make Bob Dole's 1996 campaign look young, fit, and vigorous by comparison.

    So where does Fred Thompson go from here? A man so lethargic that he goes to bed earlier than President George W. Bush can't count on winning any primaries. Hollywood might not want him back after this. Getting typecast as an idiot when he ran for president might have destroyed his career as a character actor playing powerful government men. What Fred Thompson needs is a job where he isn't expected to do anything meaningful -- where explicitly stating to the world that one doesn't have the mental energy to drink juice out of box is par for the course. That's right! What Fred Thompson needs to do is run for the Senate again!

  • Duncan Hunter 0%: Duncan Hunter doesn't have a snowball's chance in hell of winning this election. So what? Duncan Hunter is showing more energy and activity in striving to exceed his tiny share of the vote than Fred Thompson is for exceeding his.

  • Hillary Clinton 39%: It's tempting to say that, in parallel to the situation of McCain, that this was a must-win primary for Clinton. That was also be entirely wrong. The Clintonian "will to power" simply will simply not stop, ever, in contending this election. There are no empirical facts that will deter the Clintons from their coronation. Until the House of Representatives certifies that someone other than Hillary Clinton won an absolute majority of the electoral votes cast for the presidency, she is still potentially in this to win this!

  • Barack Obama 37%: I think that Obama supporters should look at this as a blessing a disguise. It proves that Obama isn't perfect. He doesn't have to be perfect to win the nomination. It proves that, not matter how far in the lead he is, Hillary Clinton will still contend the election tooth and nail. It's better that Obama learns this lesson now than on a more important date when more electoral votes are on the line. Losing 37% to 39% is nothing to sneeze at. If Obama expects to defeat Hillary Clinton for the nomination, he'd better be prepared to "fight on this line all summer".

  • John Edwards 17%: John Edwards might have been expecting a better showing, but he's still in this to win. His 17% is still better than the 13% that Huckabee got with the Republicans. Who knows, maybe Clinton and Obama will come to a dead tie in the delegate count, turning Edwards into the King-maker (or Queen-maker as the case may be) at the national convention.

  • Bill Richardson 5%: This at least puts Richardson on the scoreboard after being judged "unviable" in Iowa.

  • Dennis Kucinich 1%: If you're the type of person who makes a lifestyle out of running for president, then receiving 1% of the vote is probably good enough to get you started on your 2012 presidential bid.

  • Mike Gravel 0%: He can't even beat Joe Biden and Chris Dodd. It's over.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Senator Clinton's campaigning style never ceases to amaze me.

Hillary Clinton attacks Barack Obama for not having the courage to make the tough decisions:
Hillary Clinton on Monday warned that Al-Qaeda watched US elections, urging Americans not to risk electing an inexperienced president, in her latest implicit swipe at rival Barack Obama.

In one of her most overt plays of the national security card yet, the senator from New York noted that days after Gordon Brown became British Prime Minister, militants planted bombs which failed to explode.

"I don't think it was by accident that Al-Qaeda decided to test the new prime minister," Clinton said here, referring to two devices which did not go off in London and a car which was crashed into Glasgow airport in June.

"They watch our elections as closely as we do ... they play our allies."
That's right, when terrorists launch an attack to test our president's resolve, we can't afford to have an inexperienced president who will simply do nothing in response. Instead, we need a president with the real experience to respond by firing cruise missiles at empty warehouses after giving the terrorists 24 hours notice to evacuate.

What makes this doubly hillarious is that Hillary Clinton is entirely oblivious to the fact that her husband is practically the international poster-boy for weakness under military duress. Bill Clinton's central principle of foreign policy is that American public opinion will never support a use of military force in which a single American gets hurt. In other words, the United States military doctrine for fighting any enemy with the military power to resist to even the slightest degree was officially: run away.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Romney wins Wyoming

The state of Wyoming held a set of Republican county conventions today to select delegates to the National Convention. Romney turned out to be the big winner in Wyoming with a total of eight convention delegates pledged to him. Fred Thompson came in second with three, and Duncan Hunter came in third with one.

I think we've learned some lessons here. First, we now know that, yes, moving your state's primary up to the very start of primary season does make it more likely for your state to be noticed. We've also learned that Romney can win in sparsely populated plains states that border Utah. Finally, we've learned that Duncan Hunter now has roughly 0.1% of the support he'll need to win the Republican nomination. Will this lead to "Duncan-mentum" in next week's New Hampshire primary?

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Reaction to the Iowa caucus results

Right now I have results from 97% of Democratic precincts and 85% of Republican precincts reporting according to CNN. Here's my reaction to the election results starting from the biggest winners and working down the list, starting with Republicans first.
  • Mike Huckabee 34%: The hype and obsession with polling data coming from the mainstream media tends to obscure the fact that presidential candidates try to pick their moment to "surge" their support going into an election. According to a Republican tracking poll, Mike Huckabee (either by intention or accident) managed to pull off his surge around the last week of November. So the big question going into the caucuses was whether the Huckabee surge would last, or whether his support would drop off too soon. Right now, it looks like his surge has held up, but for all we know, someone else will time their surge for this week to stampede the voting into a New Hampshire win. I'm not going to assume that Huckabee will win the New Hampshire primary because of Iowa.

  • Mitt Romney 25%: Romney poured money by the bushel into Iowa and came up in second place. The mainstream media will be trying to spin this as a loss for Romney, which is baloney. Romney isn't out of this race by any means.

  • Fred Thompson 13%: My suspicion is that Fred Thompson is just a "stalking horse" to keep the McCain candidacy alive. So while his third place showing isn't particularly exciting, I'm not expecting him to give up anytime soon.

  • John McCain 13%: Gee, would staying in the race after finishing tied for third place in Iowa help or hurt the Republicans? It would probably hurt them at this point, so don't expect McCain to give up on 2008 either (remember my Fred Thompson conspiracy theory also).

  • Ron Paul 10%: This is pretty good for a candidate coming from the third-party fringe. The irrational enthusiasm for Ron Paul filtering through the mainstream media makes me suspect that a lot of his campaign cash is being donated by liberal Democrats hoping to cripple the Republicans by promoting a Paul-led splinter party.

  • Rudy Giuliani 4%: He wasn't going to contend Iowa. Mission accomplished. The big question is whether a Giuliani surge is going to hit sometime before the next big primary date of February 5.

  • Duncan Hunter 1%: I think its clear that Duncan Hunter will be a recipient of the Election 2008 home game this year.

  • Barack Obama 38%: Great job, Obama! Anything that disproves the Doctrine of Clintonian Infallibility is a well-earned success. Of course, the real test of a Democratic candidate is whether the Democratic establishment can turn you into a "Howard Dean" between today and the New Hampshire primary. If anybody can nail Obama to the wall in the moment of triumph, it's the Clintons.

  • John Edwards 30%: I used to think of Edwards as an "empty suit", but after inching into second place ahead of Hilary Clinton, I think he's earned some respect.

  • Hillary Clinton 29%: The grinding and gnashing of teeth going on in Clinton's Iowa headquarters is audible from California. Look for revenge hits on Obama coming this Friday and Sunday to try to damage Obama's support going into the New Hampshire primary next Tuesday.

  • Chris Dodd and Joe Biden: The first knockouts in the post-Iowa Democratic field. Honor in contention has been satisfied by making it to Iowa.

  • The rest of the Democratic field: It looks like these candidates didn't meet the test of 15% support for "viability", so we can'd draw any detailed conclusions here. Obviously being non-viable is an inherently bad thing to be at this point.