Friday, February 29, 2008

More "Things That Make You Go Hmm"

Every media outlet in the world is today reporting that British Prince Harry has been serving in Afghanistan for several weeks with his platoon. And good for him. Some are outraged that the British media agreed to keep mum on the story until it was leaked yesterday (because of the threat publicity would have posed), but mostly the Brits seem appropriately cheered that their prince is following in a tradition of nobles serving the crown via the armed forces.

What strikes me as interesting, though, is the hat H.R.H. is wearing in the news photo accompanying an article about Harry's colloquially stated displeasure with English living in general, and with the English media in particular. Hint: It ain't no Union Jack, Jack.
Hmm.

Buckley: Final Words

These will be mine on the subject of his passing, and these are among his on any subject at all. Read WFB's first-hand account of how three men met 46 years ago at the Breaker's Hotel in Palm Beach, Florida to forge a solution to the thorny problem of the John Birch Society.

Brace Yourselves

We may be in for the next iteration of a full-scale Israel vs. Hamas. Why now? Because Israel has been enduring daily rocket attacks (and civilian deaths) for months. (Betcha didn't read about that in your metro newspaper.)

Israel tolerates this sort of thing for awhile. Then it says, "Enough." Looks like we're almost at "Enough." Whereupon, as soon as IDF forces cross into Gaza, the western media will emerge from their collective coma to decry the violence being perpetrated by those hyper-militaristic Jooos.

Obama: Too Cool for Francis Scott Key

First, he refused to wear the American flag on his lapel. Okay. But what's the deal with this? Absentmindedness? Putting your hand on your heart during the anthem should be an instinctive reaction for anyone who grew up in American public schools. Perhaps a subtle wink to his far-left supporters? You be the judge.

What Happens in Vegas . . .

. . . is of paramount importance to me, as that fine bastion of wholesomeness is my most frequent vacation destination. Which is why I don't enjoy reading about deadly poisons being found in Las Vegas hotel rooms.

On the bright side, I would never have reason to set foot inside the Extended Stay America Efficiency Suites, so until someone pumps anthrax into the air ducts at, say, the Bellagio, I'm sound as a pound.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Buckley and the Jews

Retrospectives and honoraria about WFB abound today, unsurprisingly. An interesting angle is Jason Maoz's piece at Commentary, which describes how in the course of fashioning the modern American conservative movement out of numerous older (and narrower) strands of traditionalism and libertarianism, Buckley went out of his way to make his movement a safe home for Jews:
By basically reading the more conspiratorial-minded organizations and polemicists out of mainstream conservatism (a story engagingly told by the liberal journalist John Judis in his 1988 biography William F. Buckley, Jr.: Patron Saint of the Conservatives), Buckley made it that much more difficult for the media to portray the right as a redoubt of angry kooks and Kleagles. His having done so no doubt smoothed the way for those liberal Jewish intellectuals who would eventually — and at first somewhat ambivalently — make their journey into the conservative camp.

A devout Catholic who wrote with remarkable frankness about the anti-Semitism of his own father, Buckley (who characterized anti-Semitism as an “awful, sinful practice”) always seemed comfortable around Jews. Indeed, several of the editors and writers who helped Buckley launch National Review were Jews; “without them,” wrote historian George Nash, “the magazine might never have gotten off the ground…”
Buckley even proposed making Israel the 51st state, wryly observing that it's no more geographically remote from Washington than Honolulu or Anchorage.

So Buckley made the Right Wing safe for Jews. I kind of wonder who will make the Left Wing safe for supports of Israel.

Bobby Jindal: Change for the Better

For all of Barack Obama's insipid invocation of vague "Hope" and "Change," newly elected Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal is demonstrating real change of a sort that -- unlike Obama's presumed change-o-rific vision -- doesn't contravene principles of free enterprise and individual liberty.

Jindal is cleaning up the state legislature, long regarded as one of the filthiest swamps of corruption and lobbyist largesse in the nation. He's using his honeymoon period to push bills through that preclude legislators from awarding state contracts to themselves, require transparency in state officials' financial transactions, and limit the amount of money lobbyists can spend on dinners for state representatives.

And the Democrats are really unhappy about it:
In a town where legislators have been known to proclaim paid-for meals a principal draw to public service, this was an especially unpopular move. Last week, State Representative [and Democrat] Charmaine L. Marchand of the Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans said the limit would force her and her colleagues to dine at Taco Bell, and urged that it be pushed to $75 per person, to give them “wiggle room.”
Ha! The outrage! I mean, who could possibly dine anywhere other than Taco Bell for less than $75?!

Of course, the Democrats have managed to muster sufficient resistance to prevent at least one of Gov. Jindal's proposed reforms from coming to fruition: "Mr. Jindal was unable to persuade lawmakers to pass another bill that would have ended retirement benefits for public officials convicted of crimes related to their state work."

Telling, no?

Do I hear Jindal-Palin in 2016?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Godspeed, Myron Cope

What a day. *sigh*

In addition to marking the passage of Bill Buckley, I am saddened to have to remark upon the loss of Myron Cope, who was for decades the voice of the Pittsburgh Steelers. In an inimitable rasp and cadence, Cope delivered play-by-play and commentary punctuated by his trademark "Yoi!" and other head-scratching obscurisms. Among his many accomplishments, Cope, a well-regarded journalist even before he became the Steelers unofficial mascot, interviewed Muhammed Ali for Sports Illustrated and invented the Terrible Towel, still waved today by legion Steeler fans.

Even most Pittsburgh sports fans for whom Cope is a household name really know little about his nationally acclaimed work as a sportswriter. Today, in honor of his life and in gratitude for the joy he brought so many of us on Steeler Sundays, I am proud to share with you the charming piece he wrote on the 25th anniversary of the "Immaculate Reception."
We'll miss you, Cope.

Godspeed, William F. Buckley, Jr.

Today American conservatism lost one of its most influencial voices. William F. Buckley, Jr., founder of National Review and long-time host of Firing Line, was 82.

Buckley is widely credited with constructing the modern American conservative movement. He developed intellectually during the post-war period in which Americans had been lulled into dully accepting that central government planning was the answer to all ills -- a time when "progressivism" dominated and insisted that government "experimentation" with manipulating markets and social forces was the path to stumbling into utopia.

In the first-ever issue of National Review, Buckley summed up his vision of a conservative as one who stands athwart history yelling, "Stop!" He championed free enterprise, free expression, and freedom from big-government control. A former CIA operative, Buckley was also a leading voice in favor of meeting Soviet strength with American strength, rather than with meek platitutes and foolish, unilateral commitments to disarmament and subjugative "peace."

Buckley oozed arrogance. It infuriated his opponents. It bred confidence in his admirers. He also exuded a roguish wit, however, coupled with an impish, bright-eyed grin, and he is reputed by those who knew him best to be among the most gracious and kind souls to have walked among us.

Buckley's writing was an early and powerful influence on my ideological path to conservatism. In this, I am far from alone.

National Review, the institution Buckley created and that informs so much of modern conservative thought, remembers him here.
As WFB would say, "Just so."

How's That "Consensus" on Global Warming Holding Up?

According to every major data-tracking organization, worldwide temperature drops over the last twelve months have wiped out a century of temperature increases.

Any comment, Al? Al?

*crickets*

Funny. Seems solar activity may actually be related to the Earth's temperature after all, despite liberal protestations to the contrary. What's not so funny is that global cooling (which may or may not be happening) could be a lot more damaging to life on this planet than global warming would be.

A well-known phenomenon documented in the 17th-18th centuries called the Maunder Minimum consisted of a dramatic drop in temperatures that coincided with -- go figure -- reduced solar activity. Some call the same period a "Little Ice Age." Recent solar observations are showing a similarly sharp reduction in solar activity (fewer sunspots by a large order of magnitude), so reasonable minds are wondering and worrying whether we're seeing the beginning of another low point in the same cycle.

Unlike my global-warming-alarmist liberal friends, I'm not going to jump up and down and insist that this is a compulsory conclusion or that the science is "settled." These facts, however, would seem sufficient to drown any assertion that we understand climate science well enough to deem man-made lightbulbs the principal bogeyman anytime we have an unusually hot summer.

But maybe this alternative theory is too crazy to withstand scrutiny. I mean, the sun? Affecting Earth's temperature? Scandalous.

Obama: I Will Leave America Defenseless

McGovern Part Deux.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Things That Make You Go Hmm

Thomas Cheplick makes a bold, surprising suggestion in The American Spectator. I don't know a lot about Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, but if his reportage is reliable (and I believe it is) this strikes me as an intriguing idea for Team McCain to consider.

However, Governor Palin is a relative political novice, and I think even a great many conservatives who respect her views would hesitate to make her first in line of succession to a 72-year-old president.

Even if I'm right, Gov. Palin seems the sort of principled conservative who might be a terrific champion for the GOP a couple of election cycles down the road. We're always looking for new talent.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Global Warming Update

Forget global warming: Welcome to the new Ice Age

Snow cover over North America and much of Siberia, Mongolia and China is greater than at any time since 1966.

The U.S. National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) reported that many American cities and towns suffered record cold temperatures in January and early February. According to the NCDC, the average temperature in January "was -0.3 F cooler than the 1901-2000 (20th century) average."

China is surviving its most brutal winter in a century. Temperatures in the normally balmy south were so low for so long that some middle-sized cities went days and even weeks without electricity because once power lines had toppled it was too cold or too icy to repair them.

There have been so many snow and ice storms in Ontario and Quebec in the past two months that the real estate market has felt the pinch as home buyers have stayed home rather than venturing out looking for new houses.

In just the first two weeks of February, Toronto received 70 cm of snow, smashing the record of 66.6 cm for the entire month set back in the pre-SUV, pre-Kyoto, pre-carbon footprint days of 1950.

And remember the Arctic Sea ice? The ice we were told so hysterically last fall had melted to its "lowest levels on record? Never mind that those records only date back as far as 1972 and that there is anthropological and geological evidence of much greater melts in the past.

The ice is back.

Etc.

Post-Vegas Return to Reality

I'm back from three days in Las Vegas and, from what I can recall, we had a great trip. We stayed at the Rio; I somehow managed to return with as much cash as I left with; I did not get arrested; I haven't been banned from any additional casinos; I didn't succomb to the siren-calls of the world-weary, video-poker-bar whores at 3 in the morning; and I'm pretty sure I achieved Diamond Status in Harrah's Total Rewards club. Which means more free rooms and more free food and more free booze when next I step away from reality for a few days in the Jewel of the Desert.

Now that I've managed to bank some sleep and rehydrate, I'll be turning my attention back to what's going on in the world.

Since I haven't given you anything to read in a week, here's a long, but interesting (and common sense) piece in the latest City Journal about the campus rape industry. The what, you say? If you've been to college in the last decade or so, you'll already know. If you haven't, read this with horror. It is all, sadly, true.

(h/t K-Lo at NRO)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

More On Obama's Foreign Policy Team

A few friends who are regular PR readers have mentioned to me that they found my post on Obama's enlistment of anti-Israel zealot Samantha Powers to be illuminating and surprising (and therefore important).

I'm therefore glad to link to this piece in the American Thinker that expounds in much greater detail about Powers and about other members of Obama's national security team.

I found this bit about Powers particularly disturbing and revealing:
She quotes the subject of her book -- really a hagiography -- calling the Israelis "bastards". She writes that the degradations suffered by UNIFIL before the Israeli invasion was felt far worse after the Israelis came into Lebanon. She writes that the Israeli authorities "threatened the peacekeepers and regularly denigrated them".

And now she is a senior foreign policy adviser to Presidential candidate Barack Obama, as well as occupying the Anna Lindh Professorship of Practice of Global Leadership and Public Policy How appropriate: Anna Lindh, the late Swedish Foreign Minister, was a dedicated opponent of Israel.
The piece also warns that the presence of Robert Malley and Zbigniew Brzezinski on Obama's team is no less cause for concern among supporters of Israel and supporters of an American foriegn policy that prioritizes protecting Israel from Islamic terror and outright threats of eradication from Iran and Syria.

Will revelations such as these tarnish Obama's shiny, hope-clad, faint-inducing dreaminess in the eyes of liberal American Jews? One hopes so but fears not.

Liberals Love America, Support Our Troops

I don't need to characterize these remarks. Here's Obama's base in action.

Greetings From Montgomery, Alabama

I'm in Alabama's capitol for a couple of days, monitoring a pharmaceutical industry trial, which I won't blog about because I'm a pharmaceutical-industry lawyer and I don't want to inadvertently cross any ethical lines. If you've never been to Montgomery, I don't recommend making an effort to come here. It's got a certain charm (some of the centuries-old architecture and the numerous historical landmarks are worth a glance), but it is mainly an economically depressed, cultural dead-end.

There's a break in the courtroom action, so I thought I'd steal a minute to highlight a few items that caught my attention over the last couple of days:
  • Michelle Obama has never been proud to be an American before this week (not unusual for a left-winger). Her First Lady potential is almost as frightening as her husband's Commander-in-Chief potential.
  • Castro's stepping down. His brother Raul's stepping in (he really stepped in years ago). Nothing will change.
  • Amid the kudos President Bush has received during his trip to Africa this week, Pink Floyd legend (and noted Africa activist) Bob Geldolf has some kind words to add.
  • David Horowitz is stirring things up on college campuses again. This is a good one. It should put campus liberals in a tight spot, but it won't. They'll simply denounce him as an anti-Muslim bigot and move along.
  • This would merit its own post if I had more time. Because there's a lot I want to say (and probably will when my trip is over). An article in Canada's National Post exposes the efforts of Canadian bureaucrats to prop up the country's failing, socialized healthcare system -- literally by sacrificing the lives of patients. If you read one linked article today, make it this one. And ask yourself whether you want an army of petty, liberal bureaucrats making healthcare decisions for you. And ruminate on that especially if you're one of those misguided souls who's contemplating pulling a lever for Clinton or Obama in November.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Hiatus

I'll be on the road from tomorrow through next Sunday, so it's unlikely I'll have much time for blogging. My travels will take me to Montgomery, Alabama and then to Vegas, baby (a study in contrasts if ever there was one).

Keep up to date via the links in the right-hand column (Power Line and NRO are your best bets for timely updates).

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Missile Defense System About to Pay Off

Though in a way nobody initially intended. Giant satellite about to crash into Earth, carrying deadly chemical fuel?

We're on it.

Obamamania: Get Some Oxygen!

Power Line directs us this morning to James Taranto and Jim Vicevich, who have painstakingly compiled media reports of Barack Obama's rallies -- in particular, those at which Obama supporters faint from the sheer, overwhelming feel-goodyness of it all.

This isn't politics. It's a secular religion, and Obama rallies are nothing less than old-time revivals. When politics become a secular religion, bad things happen.

Obama, Race, Masks, and the Illusion of Progress

National Review contributor and Hoover Institution fellow Peter Robinson has an interview series at NRO called "Uncommon Knowledge." Last week Robinson interviewed author Shelby Steele, whose new book is entitled A Bound Man - Why We are Excited About Obama And Why He Can't Win.

The interview is a fascinating discussion not only of Obama himself, but of what his candidacy (and success so far) really tells us about the state of racial identity in America. Steele's conclusions may surprise you -- they surprised me.

Here's the interview, divided into Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.

Steele, by the way, is the sort of author liberals will deride as an "Uncle Tom" or a "traitor to his race." Like Bill Cosby, Thomas Sowell, Ward Connerly, and so many others with the temerity to suggest that blacks in America should stop squandering the unprecedented (and more than equal) opportunities they enjoy in America today.

We Are Less Safe Today . . .

. . . than we were yesterday because Congress has intentionally let expire the government's legal power to wiretap foreign terrorists. Senator McConnell explains:

What will happen at midnight tonight is much more significant than stump speeches, steroids or superdelegates. On Sunday, the terrorist tracking program the Director of National Intelligence tells us has led "to the disruption of planned terrorist attacks" no longer will be fully operational because of Congressional inaction.

What is most distressing is that the terrorists haven’t ceased their activities, but we’ve conceded the capability to fully track them because the House Democrat Leadership blocked a vote on a bipartisan solution and then chose to close up shop and go home without completing their work.

This is not a political contest, it is a live-fire situation. What we do—or in this case, don’t do—has consequences for our national security. At midnight, the country will be more at risk than it is today. And that risk will increase each day we don't have a solution to this problem.”

Sleep tight.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Whatever Happened To Buying A Girl A Drink?

Man Accused of Posting Bond for Strangers in Exchange for Sex

Creative? Sure. Creepy and wrong? You bet.

She Turned Me Into A Newt!

"I got better."

Life in Saudi Arabia imitates Monty Python, as a woman is sentenced to death for witchcraft.

The National Organization of Women had this to say about the outrage:

And Amnnesty International issued the following statement:

Thursday Morning Roundup

Just a few items for your attention as I finish my coffee and prepare to do some real, honest-to-goodness work:
  • Cindy Sheehan's back. This time she's protesting in support of members of the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamic terrorist organization. (But don't you dare suggest that American leftists are making common cause with America's enemies.)
  • Berkeley anti-military protesters are still at it. (But don't you dare question their patriotism.)

  • Barack Obama has a penchant for pushing the wrong button. Literally. Ain't that a scary trait in a would-be custodian of America's nuclear arsenal?

  • The New York Times *gasp* acknowledges progress in Iraq. It fails to do so without injecting outright falsehoods (e.g., "Good news is rare in Iraq." Yep, it is if you only read the Times.). But it's something.

  • Hezbollah master terrorist Imad Mughniyah has been 'sploded in Syria (in his own car). Middle East expert Michael Ledeen provides analysis. All Together Now: "Thank you, Israel."

  • New evidence has emerged that Iran is, in fact, enriching uranium for nuclear weapons. Democrats, however, prefer to pretend it isn't happening. Anyone who suggests Iran poses a threat is a "warmonger," and we need to restore America's reputation in the world by pledging not to interfere with the (nonexistent) nuclear-arming of a nation whose leaders daily profess their intent to eradicate Israel first, and the rest of the West next. But, hey. Vote Obama. He's so dreamy.

  • Remember the Danish cartoons of Mohammed? The ones that "provoked" so much outrage (read: rioting and murder by fanatical Muslim animals)? Well, Danish authorities have just broken up a plot to assassinate one of the cartoonists. In a show of solidarity, a number of Danish newspapers are reprinting the cartoons. Good for them. Too bad American, British, and Canadian newspapers are too cowardly to similarly flex their free-expression muscles. Oh, wait. One Canadian paper did. It was the Western Standard. And it's publisher, Ezra Levant, is being run through a Kafka-esque inquisition by the Canadian government as a result. Sad, that Denmark should have to carry the banner of free expression because America and her allies won't. Oh, and by the way:

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Unintended Revelation; Intended Revolution

Courtesy of Power Line, today we see a glimpse of the sort of "change" Obama's supporters have in mind when they shake their fists at his rallies. In a recent photo, a volunteer at Obama's Houston campaign office is shown toiling away in front of a Che Guevara banner.

I expounded on Che's life on the anniversary of his death last October. It suffices here to point out that he was a bloodthirsty socialist thug who murdered (often by his own hand) anyone who disagreed with his agenda or who attempted to preserve his or her own liberty or property. He's also a hero of the American far-left.

This, then, is the spirit of Obama's base: Juvenile ignorance and nostaligia for those heady days of the twentieth century when the dream of destroying western liberty and subjugating the population in a fascist collective still seemed possible.

Obama, by the way, swept three more primaries last night. Anyone else nervous?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

More Liberal Unseriousness.

And, as most of the nation prepares to elect the next president, liberals in Boulder, CO insist on having one more Bush-Derangement Syndrome temper tantrum:
Boulder's elected leaders are expected to decide next week whether to draft and vote on a resolution calling for the impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. For the past few weeks, activists have been showing up at Boulder City Council meetings, carrying signs, handing out "impeach" pins and asking City Council members to take up such a resolution. Similar measures have passed in cities across the country, including Detroit and Telluride.

Clearly Boulder has run out of potholes that need filling and zoning variance petitions that need approving. So the City Council is going to have a vote on a procedure that it has no constitutional authority to weigh in on. Nice job, folks. And timely, too.

I honestly think I'm running out of ways to call Democrats a bunch of sniveling children. Of course I almost don't need to; their actions do a fine job.

Meanwhile, Back in the Real World

Russia reminds us that Planet Earth is a dangerous place, covered with dysfunctional countries that are populated by ill-motivated discontents who possess powerful weapons.

For reasons that are unclear, a couple of nuclear-capable Russian bombers spent the weekend buzzing American aircraft carriers and violating Japanese airspace. Maybe they did it to express their anger at U.S. plans to build a missile shield in Eastern Europe. Maybe they did it just because they can, and Putin wants to show the world he's one of the big kids. Maybe Russian command and control isn't as tight as one would hope. Maybe there's some other reason.

How ought a U.S. president handle such a situation? For all his flaws, I trust President Bush to handle it. I'd trust John McCain to handle it. But this is precisely the sort of situation in which the notion of a President Obama causes an ulcer to take root in my stomach. My money says Obama would respond to this sort of provocation by immediately canceling plans for the missile shield and traveling to Russia to ask Putin what else we can do to keep the new totalitarian Motherland happy.

I don't think I'm going to be sleeping very well this year.

Pathetic and Weird

That's about the best way I can summarize the tenor of support for Obama among liberals.

From Maryland:

You can see it in their flushed-face smiles and hear it in their screams. They say the phenomenon is difficult to describe, but once they experience it they tell their friends, sisters, mothers and daughters, and they come back for more if they can.
Uh huh.

Retired Washington native Marty Lallis, 61, said Obama reminded her of Robert Kennedy, who was assassinated in 1968, five years after his brother and the same year as Dr Martin Luther King, Jr was gunned down. "I was just as excited by Robert F Kennedy when I was a teenager. I feel the same excitement for Obama. Maybe a little bit more because I am more mature," she said. "Every time I hear him speak I become more hopeful and more sure that he would be the best president we could have," she said. "He makes you feel like he's talking to you especially."
No, Ms. Lallis. You are most certainly not more mature than you were as a teenager whose heart throbbed for RFK. If you were more mature, you would be selecting a presidential candidate based on some criterion other than the fact that he -- like Mr. Rogers -- makes you feel so very special.

Liberal voters nationwide -- at least those supporting Obama -- have reduced themselves to giddy schoolgirls. They flock to hear Obama speak and cherish the butterflies in their stomachs. They swoon. They giggle. And I'm not just talking about women.

This is an unseemly spectacle. It is an American Idol presidential election. And if Obama becomes the Democrats' nominee, it will only become more nauseating.

Meanwhile, I doubt very much we'll hear any Republicans trilling on about how pretty and bubbly John McCain makes them feel. Which is a credit both to Republicans and to McCain.

Message to moderates of both parties: While the adolescent group hug continues on the left, the grown-ups will be over here on the right talking about national security and fiscal policies. We'll be discussing, specifically, how to contain Iran, how to prosecute the struggle against Islamofascism, how to solve the social security shortfall, and other matters that actually matter.

I encourage you all to join us, no matter how seductive the Democrats' self-infantalization may be.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Global Warming Update

Yeah. That's right. Get your carbon credits.

Obama and Israel

If you don't know what Obama stands for -- on any issue -- you can be forgiven, as his candidacy thus far has consisted of little more than smiles and platitudes (which has proven sufficient to make liberal voters, seldom patient enough to dwell on facts or details, swoon).

Fortunately the occasional fact comes to light, courtesy of conservative journalists. Today, for example, Noah Pollack offers a glimpse of what an Obama Presidency might portend for U.S.-Israeli relations. Obama's senior foreign policy advisor, Samantha Power, has no love for Israel. Typical of the far-left, she insists on the narrative that Israel must be excoriated, no matter what the facts may be, such as when she criticized the New York Times for acknowledging that the so-called Jenin "massacre" (in which Israel was initially accused of committing atrocities against Palestinians) was no such thing.

Yet hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of American Jews will vote for Obama.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Our Guy

Okay, I've had some time to digest Romney's withdrawal and McCain's resulting, presumptive lock on the nomination. I wrote a couple of days ago that I felt disappointed. That wasn't clear enough.

My disappointment wasn't that McCain's going to be the nominee (though that's partly true, and there are hoardes of conservatives who feel precisely that). My disappointment was centered on the fact that our half of the primary fun is over, while the Dems get to enjoy jaunty, rollicking politicking for at least another month as Obama and Clinton continue to duke it out.

But -- as disappointing as that may be to the political geek in me -- I also think Romney's early departure is a huge boon to the GOP (which he acknowledged in his speech announcing the end of his campaign).

The GOP race has been marred (mostly since Rudy's departure) by enormous vitriol, mostly directed by social conservatives (and some by fiscal conservatives) against McCain. The talking heads have been brutal, with Rush and Laura leading the charge. Voters have threatened to stay home on Election Day rather than vote for McCain against Hillary or Obama.

It's all rather childish. Look, I don't begrudge conservatives the right to stand on principle and argue for or against a particular GOP candidate. But at the end of the day, anyone we nominate (and it's now going to be McCain) is a better alternative than anyone the Democrats will nominate -- on defense, on healthcare, on immigration, on education, spending, and taxes, on everything.

GOP voters need to get that. And the benefit of Romney's early departure is that the GOP has time to get that. We have many months for the anger to simmer off. McCain has ample time to make his case to the base (and he did a marvelous job getting started last night, by the way, in a speech at CPAC -- details, including full text and video here).

Meanwhile, Hillary and Obama must continue their fight for the soul of the far-left, which has the salutary effect of vividly demonstrating for disgruntled conservatives just what the stakes are and just how bad the alternative (whoever he or she is) to McCain will be.

The only downside is that when the Dem nominee emerges, it will be fresh news, comparatively, vis a vis the party's national convention. By the time the GOP convention rolls around in September, there's a good chance McCain will be seen as old news. But I think this is a worthwhile trade-off.

So, let's start getting enthusiastic about McCain. By the way, I really do recommend checking out his remarks from last night at the Power Line link above. My favorite bits of his speech:
I am proud to be a conservative, and I make that claim because I share with you that most basic of conservative principles: that liberty is a right conferred by our Creator, not by governments, and that the proper object of justice and the rule of law in our country is not to aggregate power to the state but to protect the liberty and property of its citizens. And like you, I understand, as Edmund Burke observed, that "whenever a separation is made between liberty and justice, neither . . . is safe."

* * * *
I began by assuring you that we share a conception of liberty that is the bedrock of our beliefs as conservatives. As you know, I was deprived of liberty for a time in my life, and while my love of liberty is no greater than yours, you can be confident that mine is the equal of any American's. It is a deep and unwavering love. My life experiences in service to our country inform my political judgments. They are at the core of my convictions. I am pro-life and an advocate for the Rights of Man everywhere in the world because of them, because I know that to be denied liberty is an offense to nature and nature's Creator. I will never waver in that conviction, I promise you. I know in this country our liberty will not be seized in a political revolution or by a totalitarian government. But, rather, as Burke warned, it can be "nibbled away, for expedience, and by parts." I am alert to that risk and will defend against it, and take comfort from the knowledge that I will be encouraged in that
defense by my fellow conservatives.
Conservatives need not fear this man. Some liberals will, but not all. And most moderates won't. Which makes him e-l-e-c-t-a-b-l-e.

(As long as Huckabee's not his running mate.)

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Global Warming Update

2008 is off to a colder-than-average start. The average temperature in January 2008 was 30.5 F. This was -0.3 F cooler than the 1901-2000 (20th century) average, the 49th coolest January in 114 years. The temperature trend for the period of record (1895 to present) is 0.1 degrees Fahrenheit per decade.

Won't those suffering polar bears be glad!

Romney: Out.

Not shocking, I suppose. More later. For some reason -- and I'm not a McCain hater -- I find this very depressing.

A Word to the Wise

If you're going to call Comcast to quibble over the charges on your most recent cable bill, you might want to not do so the month that you rented "Balls of Fury."

First of all, you lose a heavy measure of credibility when you must actually complain that you were charged twice for "Balls of Fury." Then you have to listen to the impatient (female) customer service rep refer to it by name, several times, each time more mocking and condescending than the last.

And you have to resist the urge, throughout the entire conversation, not to hastily interject, "IT'S NOT GAY PORN, ALRIGHT?!"

Just trust me on this one.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Pooper Tuesday

So much for getting healthy overnight. Apparently not getting any sleep because you have the shakes and a hacking cough is an ineffective method. Live and learn.

Just as well, I suppose. Because when you combine feverish delirium with Fox News "You Decide 2008" coverage, Greta van Susteren starts to look like a reasonable approximation of a human being, rather than a thirty-years-obsolete generation of Disney animatronic technology. Which is nice for her.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Countdown to Super Duper Tuesday

If you're not a political junkie, you may be unaware that tomorrow is "Super Tuesday" or what its significance is. On February 5, 2008, 25 states (an all-time high) will simultaneously hold their presidential primaries or caususes. It's not unusual for presumptive nominees to emerge from Super Tuesday -- though that would seem less likely to happen this year in either party.

Nevertheless, it's pretty much the most exciting day in American politics other than the national conventions and Election Day itself. So I'll be settled comfortably on my couch with Fox News on the Magnavox and tasty snacks, watching the pundits blather and the elections-returns ticker scroll across the bottom of the screen.

And perhaps I'll blog a bit (the real-time State of the Union blogging was a hit with some regular readers). For now, I just need to hide in my office with a cup of tea and get through the day.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Puck's Five Random Thoughts on Super Bowl XLII

1. Now, I don't claim to be Helen of Troy. But objectively speaking, I didn't think it was possible for Tom Petty to get even uglier than he used to be. But bravo, Tom. The beard is your coup de grace. So to speak.

2. I should make hot wings more often. They are so very damn good.

3. It's a good thing the first three quarters weren't all that exciting. If the game had really captured my attention, my 18-month old daughter actually might have finished coloring the leather furniture with her magic markers. Lucky for all of us, I caught her just as she was sizing up the second half of the loveseat with her trusty Crayola Purple.

4. There was part of me that truly believed -- and frankly, kind of hoped -- that Belichek was running across the field to Tom Coughlin not to shake the latter's hand, but to kick him in the nuts. Just because he's Belichek, and you never really know with him.

5. As a Philadelphia Eagles fan who grew up in Giants country but boasts no love for the Patriots (see Super Bowl XXXIX), I didn't know whom to root for (or, for that matter, against). But I will say that, as much as the phrase "your 2007 Super Bowl Champion NY Giants, led by their MVP Quarterback, Eli Manning" sticks in my craw, it helps an awful lot to imagine the once-great, now-insufferable Sports Guy's abject misery. Choke on it, Bill.

BENEDICK ADDS: No such ambivalence here. I wanted nothing more than for the cheating Patriots, their loathesome coach, and their idiot fans to get their comeuppance. And schadenfraude never felt so good, despite that I managed to acquire a bug of some sort over the weekend that thinks my ideal body temperature is 102 degrees.

Friday, February 01, 2008

This Should Be Fun, Episode II

I believe in the Second Amendment. I believe every adult citizen who isn't a felon should have the right to protect himself or herself (and his or her family) with a firearm. I'm not big on hunting, though, I think some regulation of guns is necessary, and I don't fault people who are made very, very uncomfortable by guns in general. On balance I'm a moderate conservative on the issue, as on most.

I'm not saying this is necessarily a bad idea: "West Virginia is considering a bill to teach schoolchildren how to handle a gun and hunt safely its proponent hopes will increase state revenues from hunting licenses, a state lawmaker said Thursday."

I probably wouldn't come out in favor of it. What makes me smile is the reaction it will inspire from the left. Heart attacks may already be underway. More to come.

Liberals Support Our Troops!

California liberals are once again proving that their anti-war stance is all about their love for our men and women in uniform.

First, the Berkeley City Council has voted to tell U.S. Marines that they're "not welcome in the city, and if recruiters choose to stay, they do so as uninvited and unwelcome intruders." Further, the City Council "officially encouraged the women's peace group Code Pink to impede the work of the Marines in the city by protesting in front of the station." This is no mere rhetoric: "[T]he council voted 8-1 to give Code Pink a designated parking space in front of the recruiting station once a week for six months and a free sound permit for protesting once a week from noon to 4 p.m.

Just super.

Meanwhile, reports the Washington Times, the Oakland (California) International Airport "denied 200 Marines and soldiers access to the passenger terminal during a layover last year from Iraq to the troops' home base in Hawaii." The U.S. military has a contract with the airport that permits the military to use the airport as a refueling stop for troop transports. While the contract requires the airport to let troops deplane and stretch their legs for layovers of more than an hour, it doesn't explicitly require the airport to give troops access to the terminal.

So, technicality in hand, the Oakland International Airport refused to let 200 Marines and soldiers on their way home from a tour in Iraq use the bathroom or purchase food or drinks. "A Marine reported the incident to Rep. John L. Mica, Florida Republican and ranking member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and said it 'felt like being spit on.'"

No doubt.

What was the airport's excuse? "Airport officials were concerned that the flight's ground staff could not provide 'an adequate level of escort and control of such a large group of military personnel in or around the terminal area'" and "'could not confirm that weapons [on the plane] would be secured and safeguarded in accordance with Department of Defense regulations and that the Marines and soldiers would leave their weapons on board.'"

Ah yes. Those military hooligans -- the ones who just spent months serving their fellow citizens in the withering Iraqi desert, the ones who have made honor and discipline a way of life, the ones who risk their lives to protect our own -- surely they could not be trusted to use a urinal and buy an overpriced turkey sandwich without rampaging through the airport corridors, firing automatic weapons in the air like 21st Century Yosemite Sams and raping and pillaging the civilian travelers.

Plus, God knows, once you let the U.S. military in, they'll occupy your ass forever.

That's today's "Liberals Support Our Troops" update. And don't you DARE question their patriotism.