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Wow Poll.

Saturday, January 12, 2008 by Michael Reynolds

Drudge has a leaked CNN poll. It shows both Hillary and Obama beating all GOP candidates. It also shows this:

January 9-10
Would Definitely Vote Against That Candidate in November

Romney 62%
Giuliani 55%
Huckabee 52%
Clinton 43%
McCain 43%
Obama 38%

Sampling error: +/-3.5% pts

January 9-10
Would Definitely Vote For That Candidate in November

Clinton 37%
Obama 30%
McCain 22%
Giuliani 19%
Huckabee 15%
Romney 13%

Three Republican candidates all with higher negatives than Hillary. And Hillary has the highest commitment level.

Caveat #1: these are registereds not likelys.
Caveat #2: New Hampshire.

But that aside, after all we've heard about Hillary's negatives, three of the top four GOP candidates not only have higher won't-vote numbers, but significantly higher numbers. Romney's won't-votes are 50% higher? 50%? And Saint Rudy of 9/11 beats her by 12 points?


But the fascinating thing is that Hillary's negatives are still sky-high.

January 9-10
Opinion of Hillary Clinton
Now Sept.
Favorable 53% 53%
Unfavorable 47% 39%

January 9-10
Opinion of Rudy Giuliani
Now Sept.
Favorable 46% 54%
Unfavorable 39% 32%
So, people don't like Hillary. They dislike her more now than in September. They dislike her substantially more than they dislike, say, Rudy. And yet they'll vote for her. More people dislike Hillary than will vote against her. Put the other way 'round, some will hold their noses and pull the lever for Hillary.

Assuming Drudge has this right, this is fascinating stuff. Republicans should be very afraid.

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Dice Beats Roulette.

by Michael Reynolds

Well, I'll be damned:

BAGHDAD - Iraq's parliament passed a law on Saturday to let members of Saddam Hussein's Baath party return to public life, winning Washington's swift praise for meeting a benchmark aimed at reconciling warring sects.

Washington had been pressing Iraq's Shiite Islamist-led government to pass the new law as one of a series of steps to draw the minority Sunni Arab community that held sway under Saddam closer into the political process.

"This law preserves the rights of the Iraqi people after the crimes committed by the Baath Party while also benefiting the innocent members of the party. This law provides a balance," government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said.

I used to say the odds of the surge working were about the same as the odds on hitting a single number in roulette, 38 to 1. (By the way, pre-surge we were talking Lotto odds.) I think it's time to upgrade from roulette to a roll of the dice. The odds on rolling a seven are 5 to 1.

5 to 1 may not sound great, but it beats hell out of 38 to 1.

And by the way, there's a caveat: definitions of "success" may vary. (Have, in fact, varied quite a bit.) I'm willing to call it "success" if we end up with an Iraq -- unified or not -- where human rights are reasonably well-protected; where women are treated as well as they are in, say, Jordan; where the government is representative to a significant degree; where Iraq vigorously pursues terrorists; where Iran is balanced-off rather than enhanced as a regional power; and where the US can maintain reasonably secure diplomatic, intelligence and training forces. In other words, not Vermont, not even New Jersey, but a 30% improvement on Egypt or 40% improvement on Saudi Arabia.

Would that outcome, an arguably democratic, mostly free, semi-egalitarian Iraq, be worth 4,000 Americans dead and tens of thousands damaged? Yes. Yes, because despite a degree of bungling and incompetence that will have drastically degraded and delayed the hoped-for regional effect, that Iraq, that Iraq-of-our-sobered-hopes, would eventually have a positive effect on one of the scariest areas in the world.

But the odds are still 5 to 1.

Others on topic: Here.

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It's Still Our War

Thursday, January 10, 2008 by Michael Reynolds

Below, down there in italics, is what I wrote just about a year ago on the subject of the surge, under the title "It's Our War." At the time I knew nothing of the Anbar awakening that has been a major boon to our military and political efforts. In another post I compared the odds of success to the odds of hitting a single number in roulette: not impossible, but long.

The surge has clearly worked. It has reduced casualties, and it has given us some breathing room. But we have not achieved our strategic goals. Iraq is no closer to being a model for the rest of the middle east. On the contrary, at this point it is a cautionary tale for those in the middle east who have advocated democracy. A somewhat benign authoritarianism like Jordan's seems a safer bet for most middle easterners.

But, that may change. Iraq may get its act together. If so it will be thanks to the savagery of Al Qaeda in Iraq, which ignited the awakening; thanks to the surge; and thanks to general Petraeus.

Why am I leaving Mr. Bush out? Because you're not a hero for picking up the pieces of the vase you broke.

Anyway, one year ago:

George W. Bush is mulish, shallow, close-minded, incurious, incapable of self-examination or self-criticism. He is ignorant of the constitution and indifferent to his oath to defend it. He's divisive, mean and destructive. He's out of his depth. He has lousy judgment. He's been a disaster. He is an awful president. I wouldn't trust him as far as I could throw his lying, delusional vice-president.

But . . .

The Iraq War, while very much "Mr. Bush's war," is also ours. We are responsible for the outcome because in a democracy we are responsible for having put this dolt in the White House not once but twice. It's an American war, and we're Americans, so we own it.

So set aside Mr. Bush. Set aside the yammering jackasses who've offered him uncritical support as he dug the hole we're now in. Set aside the absolutely justifiable contempt you may have for Mr. Bush, Mr. Cheney, the GOP, Fox News, the nitwit enablers of the Rightosphere, and ask yourself what the United States should do right now in Iraq.

If your answer is "Get the hell out," I can absolutely understand that. You're not crazy or unpatriotic for reaching that conclusion. This war has been a fiasco. And there is nothing wrong with concluding that we should stop sending men to have their faces blown off in a futile attempt to salvage Mr. Bush's folly.

But I would make this point: the new strategy (okay, half-new) we are pursuing in Baghdad is not a stupid strategy. It is highly unlikely to succeed, but it is not stupid. It's a micro version of the strategy we should have pursued four years ago.

The new strategy is, in effect, the old "take, hold and build," but with the addition of perhaps enough (barely, maybe) to actually do some "holding." Mr. Bush and his generals have not doubled-down on stupidity for once. Instead, driven by desperation and left with no alternative, they've actually reached a rational approach to this war. Probably too late.

Mr. Bush has been driven to this new strategy by the voters, by the Democratic Party, and by GOP critics like Mr. McCain and Mr. Hagel. The critics made this change in policy possible. Mr. Bush's enablers did their best to keep us on the path to defeat. We, the rational and patriotic war critics of all parties, can claim credit for this change: having long rejected deadlines Mr. Bush has now wielded an implicit deadline to bully Mr. Maliki into whatever cooperation he's going to give. The president's enablers have rejected the very sorts of threats and deadlines Mr. Bush is now relying on, and have just as vociferously rejected the very sort of increase in manpower that Mr. Bush is now deploying.

So the point has been made and won by the president's honest critics. The White House has effectively conceded that we needed a firmer hand with Maliki, and more boots on the ground. Yes, too little. Yes, probably too late. But this is the best we can do right now. Yes, yes, it's Mr. Bush's fault that we didn't increase the size of the military and so we find ourselves in this bind, but nevertheless, this is what we can do right now.

The surge doesn't make grand, cosmic, transcendent sense, but down here in the deep hole Mr. Bush dug for us it's as close as we can get to anything that might conceivably salvage this hideous situation.

It is our war. The Iraqi civil war that would almost certainly follow withdrawal would be in part our fault, those deaths on our hands. We can't escape moral responsibility just by pointing an accusing finger at the fool we elected to the presidency. Just as win, lose or draw we won't be able to escape the responsibility for soldiers in coffins and marines in wheelchairs. It's all on us. That's the deal with democracy. It's still our war.

We'll know within a couple of months whether this is going to work. Look for whether we are shooting Shiites or only Sunnis. Look for whether ethnic cleansing is continuing apace. Look for Muqtada to start screaming and threatening -- if he doesn't, if he's okay with all this then we're being played. Don't just look at casualty figures, see whether those casualties are Iraqi army as well as US. If more GI's than Iraqi troops are dying, we're being played.

But give it a couple of months.

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A Friend's Good News

Wednesday, January 09, 2008 by Michael Reynolds

I have "story by" cred for a feature documentary, Desert Bayou, that's just been nominated for an NAACP Image Award.

"Story by" means, at least in this case, a five minute phone call to the director, Alex LeMay, in which I said, "Hey, you know what's a neat story?" Exhausting work on my part.

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What Stays in Vegas: Deductible?

by Michael Reynolds

Just out of curiosity, is money spent supporting yourself while volunteering for a political campaign tax deductible? With the campaigns moving to Vegas I feel a surge of interest I didn't feel when the action was in Iowa and New Hampshire.

How about gambling losses incurred while campaigning? How about lap dances? Lap dances where educational policy is discussed?

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Nevada Union Endorsements

by Michael Reynolds

Nevada is a union state. Today the Culinary Workers Union endorsed Barack Obama.

This is a big endorsement, but the Culinary Workers are not the only powerful union in Nevada. Still to be heard from are the International Association of Croupiers, Keno-runners and Cocktail Waitress, as well as the Brotherhood of Buscemi Lookalikes, the Transgenderhood of Cirque de Soleil Acrobats and Mutants, the Hookers, Whores and Trannies Union (Local 69), the Congress of Arm-Candy, the Association of Furtive Hotel Maids, and of course the influential American Federation of Button Men.

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Tuesday, January 08, 2008 by Michael Reynolds

See that stick? That's what you use to beat me with if I ever make another election prediction.

I don't know who's writing this movie, but damn: they know how to work in some twists and turns.

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Want To LIve? Go To France.

by Michael Reynolds

Thank God we don't have socialized medicine:
WASHINGTON - France, Japan and Australia rated best and the United States worst in new rankings focusing on preventable deaths due to treatable conditions in 19 leading industrialized nations, researchers said on Tuesday.

If the U.S. health care system performed as well as those of those top three countries, there would be 101,000 fewer deaths in the United States per year, according to researchers writing in the journal Health Affairs.

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Kids Today. And Every Day. (Update)

by Michael Reynolds

Those Victorians knew what the hell they were doing:

The children ate at the same time but at a separate table, and they were especially eager to get to the dessert course - Christmas pudding and ice cream.

It's the noise. And the interruption. And the eternal fucking sibling warfare which in its unquenchable, unreasoning stupidity makes Sunnis and Shias seem as tame as eunuchs discussing women. It's time to return to the Victorian era and feed the children separately. Possibly in the servant's quarters. Possibly in the upstairs bathroom.

The circumstances most likely to make me go batshit and kill the kids, from most to least likely:

10 - Dinner out
9 - Dinner in
8 - Driving
7 - Visiting friends or relatives
6 - Getting ready in the morning
5 - Doing homework
4 - Shopping
3 - After I've had two drinks
2 - After I've had three drinks
1 - When they're asleep

I actually kind of like shopping with them. Then I can inflict their boisterous evil on others.

Update: Okay, this isn't good, either. Though I've actually been hit with projectile poop.

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Ron Paul: Racist? (Update)

by Michael Reynolds

Or not.

The New Republic did the spade work on Ron Paul. I'm going to bury the lede here just a bit, but I want to be fair. So the dynamite is down in the second and third paragraph:

Finding the pre-1999 newsletters was no easy task, but I was able to track many of them down at the libraries of the University of Kansas and the Wisconsin Historical Society. Of course, with few bylines, it is difficult to know whether any particular article was written by Paul himself. Some of the earlier newsletters are signed by him, though the vast majority of the editions I saw contain no bylines at all. Complicating matters, many of the unbylined newsletters were written in the first person, implying that Paul was the author.

But, whoever actually wrote them, the newsletters I saw all had one thing in common: They were published under a banner containing Paul's name, and the articles (except for one special edition of a newsletter that contained the byline of another writer) seem designed to create the impression that they were written by him--and reflected his views. What they reveal are decades worth of obsession with conspiracies, sympathy for the right-wing militia movement, and deeply held bigotry against blacks, Jews, and gays. In short, they suggest that Ron Paul is not the plain-speaking antiwar activist his supporters believe they are backing--but rather a member in good standing of some of the oldest and ugliest traditions in American politics.


Martin Luther King Jr. earned special ire from Paul's newsletters, which attacked the civil rights leader frequently, often to justify opposition to the federal holiday named after him. ("What an infamy Ronald Reagan approved it!" one newsletter complained in 1990. "We can thank him for our annual Hate Whitey Day.") In the early 1990s, a newsletter attacked the "X-Rated Martin Luther King" as a "world-class philanderer who beat up his paramours," "seduced underage girls and boys," and "made a pass at" fellow civil rights leader Ralph Abernathy. One newsletter ridiculed black activists who wanted to rename New York City after King, suggesting that "Welfaria," "Zooville," "Rapetown," "Dirtburg," and "Lazyopolis" were better alternatives. The same year, King was described as "a comsymp, if not an actual party member, and the man who replaced the evil of forced segregation with the evil of forced integration."
And there's more at the link above.

Here's the response, in full, from the Ron Paul website:

ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA – In response to an article published by The New Republic, Ron Paul issued the following statement:

“The quotations in The New Republic article are not mine and do not represent what I believe or have ever believed. I have never uttered such words and denounce such small-minded thoughts.

“In fact, I have always agreed with Martin Luther King, Jr. that we should only be concerned with the content of a person's character, not the color of their skin. As I stated on the floor of the U.S. House on April 20, 1999: ‘I rise in great respect for the courage and high ideals of Rosa Parks who stood steadfastly for the rights of individuals against unjust laws and oppressive governmental policies.’

“This story is old news and has been rehashed for over a decade. It's once again being resurrected for obvious political reasons on the day of the New Hampshire primary.

“When I was out of Congress and practicing medicine full-time, a newsletter was published under my name that I did not edit. Several writers contributed to the product. For over a decade, I have publically taken moral responsibility for not paying closer attention to what went out under my name.”

Yeah. That's, um, not going to fly, Congressman. You're either a reformed racist scum, a closeted racist scum, or a fool who let himself be used --repeatedly, over long period of time -- by racist scum. There's no third option. And my money is on option #2.

"Not paying closer attention to what went out under my name?" Really? For decades? That's quite a bit of not paying attention, Congressman.

I feel sorry for what I am sure is the vast majority of Paul's supporters who must be as appalled as every other decent person. At this point, even if you were to accept Paul's statement in its entirety, it is impossible to argue that this guy should be president.

Update: Captain Ed and Andrew Sullivan reach the same conclusions I do. It's not a tough call. Transplanted Lawyer is in with us, too.)

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Indies in NH.

Monday, January 07, 2008 by Michael Reynolds

By the way, watch the independents in New Hampshire. The general election will be all about the indie vote. So, given New Hampshire's open system where indies can go Blue or Red, will they turn out for McCain or Obama? And will that be an indicator of where the indie vote would go in a general matchup between those two?

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by Michael Reynolds

Pity the poor GOP.

Mike (The Huckabuffoon) Huckabee: Wall Street-bashing, bleeding-heart economic moderate and practicing foreign policy ninny.

Rudy (Who's Guarding My Mistress?) Giuliani: Pro-choice, pro-gay, pro-gun-control, torture-loving Mussolini wanna-be.

Mitt (The Flip) Romney: Formerly pro-choice, formerly pro-gay, formerly pro-gun-control, torture-loving, Jack Welch wanna-be.

Fred (Wake Me When It's Over) Thompson: He's "Right" on all the issues, but can't be bothered to actually, you know, run for president. Much prefers that he be annointed. But not during nap time.

John (I'm A Hero, Goddamnit!) McCain: The one great man in the race, but he dissed the religious right, then rolled over and begged them to rub his belly. Immigration liberal and tax moderate who often puts what he sees as truth and justice ahead of party loyalty.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the GOP.

It's 2008. Do they know where their party is?

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Yes, I'm Dumb.

Sunday, January 06, 2008 by Michael Reynolds

Hey, people. I have a business-y idea. I need to write a business plan. I realize I could find a template on-line somewhere, but aren't there, like, experts? People who can do this for you? If so, what are they called?

Seriously. I need someone to write a business plan. Obviously I'd pay. How do I find such a person?

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