mm291: White (haired) man speak with forked tongue

February 20, 2008

MUDGE’S Musings

Late start tonight; busy day led to a busy evening.

Did get time to step outside into the crystal clear 13°F night to gander at the lunar eclipse.

Very cool. Cold, actually, but fun to see.

Puts our everyday concerns into perspective, when you get that all too rare chance to slow down, pause and look up to see the cosmos working in its own time and rhythm.

To business.

As part of the NYTimes series of extended coverage of the presidential candidates, they’ve just published the following:

nytimes

For McCain, Self-Confidence on Ethics Poses Its Own Risk

By JIM RUTENBERG, MARILYN W. THOMPSON, DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK and STEPHEN LABATON | Published: February 21, 2008

WASHINGTON — Early in Senator John McCain’s first run for the White House eight years ago, waves of anxiety swept through his small circle of advisers.

Read the rest of this entry »

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mm280: Bloomberg for Vice President? Take 2

February 9, 2008

MUDGE’S Musings

It’s Slippery Saturday (in these northern climes) following Tsunami Tuesday. And we’re wondering where Michael Bloomberg fits in the election puzzle.

As faithful reader knows, we’ve been following the non-candidacy of Michael Bloomberg, mayor of New York City, since we staked out this nanocorner of the ‘Sphere©. As a review, you might consult the following:

Mayor Michael Bloomberg of NYC for U.S. President 2008

mm024: Bloomberg?
mm038.1: Jews Sorta Like Bloomberg Even Though…
mm051: Bloomberg.com: Bloomberg’s Money, Visibility…
mm054: Chicago Tribune news: An Idea for Bloomberg
mm057: Bloomberg for President?
mm058: What Kind of President would Michael Bloomberg?
mm064: How to take down plutocrat Michael Bloomberg…
mm066: Michael Bloomberg’s Knightly Ambitions
mm069: The Votes Are In for New York’s Mayor Mike
mm086: Bloomberg Takes School Plan… to Midwest
mm110: Grading Mayoral Control
mm117: The cure for the Electoral College is worse…
mm208: Overdue a Bloomberg post
mm238: Bloomberg’s candidacy — closer to real?
mm248: Political Potpourri
mm254: Bloomberg – just won’t go away…
mm263: This man -so- wants to pull the trigger

As this has been an eventful week in the endless saga of Campaign 2008 (began the day after the November, 2006 elections), we wondered how Mike’s plans (or non-plans) might be affected by the tumultuous events.

Read the rest of this entry »


mm245: Obama – the pundits are still marveling

January 6, 2008

MUDGE’S Musings

A news story that just won’t go away: Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee winning the Iowa caucuses; our post, including a distressingly poor quality but nevertheless inspiring video, is here.

The always refreshingly incisive Steve Chapman sheds some light:

Authenticity is the winner in Iowa test

Steve Chapman | January 6, 2008 | Chicago Tribune

Back in the 1990s, Bill Clinton talked a lot about building “a bridge to the 21st Century.” Right now, his wife looks like an unappealing detour back to the 20th.

Having him stand behind her as she addressed supporters after her third-place finish in Iowa didn’t help. She might as well have invited Fleetwood Mac to provide the music. Nostalgia isn’t everything.

The Iowa caucuses, it should be noted, are rarely as decisive as they may appear. Since 1976, only one candidate has won Iowa on the way to becoming president—George W. Bush in 2000. But if you can’t win the election in Iowa, you can certainly put yourself in a solid position to lose it, which is what Clinton and John Edwards accomplished Thursday evening.

Steve Chapman The evening was full of surprises. I would not have guessed that Barack Obama would reprise a German slogan chanted upon the fall of the Berlin Wall: “We are one people.” But it was appropriate, since the polarization of the last 15 years has featured everything short of an Iron Curtain between the red states and the blue.

Regarding Huckabee, Chapman warns that a win for an evangelical darling” in Iowa may not translate in the rest of the U.S.:

His victory was one for “none of the above.” Once voters get to know the newcomer better, he may look worse than the other options.

And as for Romney and Clinton, he believes that their smooth politician’s pandering became transparent to Iowa’s caucusers.

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Authenticity is the winner in Iowa test — chicagotribune.com

Faithful reader should know by now what side of the political spectrum yr (justifiably) humble svt usually finds himself, not for nothing is this nanocorner of the ‘Sphere© is called Left-Handed Complement.

And readers of Steve Chapman, in the Tribune as well as Reason have every reason (as it were) to believe they know on which side of the aisle he feels most comfortable.

Yet, both of us are (perhaps unexpectedly, or in spite of our selves) impressed by Obama’s victory this past Thursday night.

The key question remains regarding every candidate: can s(he) govern?

This jury is still out. But, this endless presidential election campaign has certainly become a great deal more compelling.

And our increasing concerns about the dirtiest dirty tricks of all in American politics, outright election fraud, will become a great deal more compelling as Obama’s sizable contingent of young and minority voters find roadblocks to casting their ballots.

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE

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mm242: Campaigns and Lightweight Laptops

January 3, 2008

MUDGE’S Musings

Hi, Neighbors! Time for a new installment in our ongoing series…

shortattention_thumb2 ©

Found several stories of interest today; while folks are Deciding in Iowa they’ve apparently sucked all the decision-making positrons out of the atmosphere, so we’ll sample all three…

First, Gail Collins writing in today’s NYTimes seconds the emotions expressed in Slate (and highlighted here) the other day by Christopher Hitchens.

nytimes

The Slice of the Sliver Speaks

By GAIL COLLINS | Published: January 3, 2008

As the presidential candidates tell them every single day, Iowans deserve to be the nation’s kingmakers because they are exceptional citizens who take their responsibilities very, very seriously. So tonight, even though it’s very cold — even though it’s Hokies vs. Jayhawks in the Orange Bowl — the sturdy Iowa voters will pull on their parkas and go out to fulfill their historic destiny. Perhaps as many as 15 percent of them!

“Money will become irrelevant once somebody wins the Iowa caucus,” said John (I Currently Have No Money) Edwards. “The winner of the Iowa caucus is going to have huge amounts of money pouring in.” Edwards, the Democratic third-runner, has spent more time in Iowa than many Iowans, who have a tendency to flee to Florida in the winter.

She says, People, ignore whatever happens here.”

Tonight, the Iowa Deciders will divide into 1,781 local caucuses. Past history suggests that a few of these gatherings may not draw any attendees whatsoever and that several others will consist entirely of a guy named Carl. Attendance has no effect on the number of delegates involved, and we hardly need mention that the whole thing is weighted to give rural residents an advantage. Iowans in politically active neighborhoods where 100 people show up may find their vote is worth only 1 percent as much as, say, Carl’s. This gives them the opportunity to experience what it is like to be a New Yorker or Californian all year round.

Have to admit I never paid much attention to Iowa’s banana republic” (Hitchens-ism) caucus process but in 2008, attention must be paid. And then, as Gail Collins advises, ignored.

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

The Slice of the Sliver Speaks – New York Times

shortattention_thumb2 ©

Always readable Steve Chapman shows up today in MUDGE’s hometown paper, the Chicago Tribune, with this interesting perspective.

chapman

Think positive about negative campaigning

Steve Chapman | January 3, 2008

Negative campaigning has a bad reputation, routinely being disparaged as juvenile taunting that serves only to degrade public discourse. A New York Times headline the other day noted “bickering and negative ads in countdown to caucuses,” as though these were the moral equivalent of an old married couple grousing about that mess in the kitchen.

Even devoted practitioners feel the duty to deplore negative campaigning. After commissioning an ad accusing Mitt Romney of grievous departures from conservative wisdom, Mike Huckabee was so remorseful that he refused to run it — though he managed to disseminate his charges in a news conference where he sorrowfully screened the spot for the news media. Explaining his newfound magnanimity, Huckabee asserted, “It’s never too late to do the right thing.”

But what was so terrible about the ad? It merely said that as governor of Massachusetts, Romney raised taxes, left a budget deficit, provided abortion coverage in his universal health-care program, and failed to carry out a single execution — all of which appear to be grounded in fact, and any of which a few voters would find interesting.

The spot thus passes the only two tests voters should apply to any campaign attack: Is it true, and is it important? Accusing Romney of having devil’s horns would be unacceptable because, though significant, it’s not true. Accusing him of owning too many sweaters, though true, would be over the line because it doesn’t matter.

Chapman believes that all information is good information, either informing voters of facts they hadn’t been aware of, or, often, informing voters about the poor judgement of the nasty guys hired by the candidate spreading that news.

It’s all good.

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Think positive about negative campaigning — chicagotribune.com

shortattention_thumb2 ©

And now for something completely technological…

We’ve spent much time writing about small laptop PCs over the past several months; our emphasis has been on the wonderful One Laptop Per Child program [click here for the most recent entry in the series, which includes links to previous posts].

But there are other small, quite inexpensive laptops in the space, meant for business (or at least non-developing-world education) use. The ASUS Eee is one of the newest, and Rob Pegoraro of the Washington Post took it out for a spin.

ASUSEEE

Two Pounds of Efficiency

By Rob Pegoraro | Thursday, January 3, 2008; Page D01

The first time I took Asus‘s Eee PC laptop on a flight, the security screener assumed it was a portable DVD player.

That’s an easy mistake to make. This tiny, two-pound machine is barely bigger or heavier and not much more expensive, at $399 for one I tested and $299 for the cheapest model.

For some time, it has been possible to buy laptops for less than $500. But the ones you see in most stores, such as a $450 Compaq, either weigh too much or can barely run Windows.

The Eee (the Asus site says the name stands for “Easy to Learn, Easy to Work, Easy to Play”) is different. It’s lighter than any super-cheap laptop and cheaper than any ultralight laptop, and it can do Web work about as well as other computers.

The ASUS Eee gets its tiny size and commensurate price by paring typical PC components down to nearly nil: Linux operating system; flash memory (no hard drive); reduced size screen and keyboard.

But after spending a few weeks using the $399(!) Eee (a step up in memory from the base $299 model!), Pegoraro says, it does get the job done, with some caveats.

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Rob Pegoraro – Two Pounds of Efficiency – washingtonpost.com

With MUDGE’s delicate eyesight and indelicate fingers the ASUS Eee would be a challenge. But, 2-lbs.; 3+ hours battery time; tiny form factor… were MUDGE a road warrior, the Eee would certainly be worth a hard examination.

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE

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mm218: Romney’s religion — we shouldn’t care!

December 10, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

Forests have been felled, and electrons have been transformed by the gazillions since Mitt Romney officially tackled his difficult religion last week. Steve Chapman’s input was appreciatively noted in our last post.

Today we encountered an interesting pair of commentaries on the same topic worth continuing the conversation: Maureen Dowd in the NYTimes, and Charles Krauthammer in the Washington Post.

First, Dowd:

nytimes

Mitt’s No J.F.K.

By MAUREEN DOWD | Published: December 9, 2007

You’d think Catholics, who watched with trepidation as J.F.K. battled prejudice, would be sympathetic to Mitt Romney….

Mormons see themselves as the one true religion, and don’t buy all of the New Testament, he [Joseph Smith biographer Jon Krakauer] said, “which makes it curious why Mitt thinks evangelical Christians are his allies….”

“J.F.K.’s speech was to reassure Americans that he wasn’t a religious fanatic,” Mr. Krakauer agreed. “Mitt’s was to tell evangelical Christians, ‘I’m a religious fanatic just like you.’”

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Mitt’s No J.F.K. – New York Times

Krauthammer has his usual unique perspective — highly critical of Mike Huckabee for pushing Romney’s religion front and center:

washingtonpost

Huckabee Plays the Religion Card

By Charles Krauthammer | Friday, December 7, 2007; Page A39

Mormonism should be a total irrelevancy in any political campaign. It is not. Which is why Mitt Romney had to deliver his JFK “religion speech” yesterday. He didn’t want to. But he figured that he had to. Why? Because he’s being overtaken in Iowa. Why Iowa? Because about 40 percent of the Republican caucus voters in 2000 were self-described “Christian conservatives” — twice the number of those in New Hampshire, for example — and, for many of them, Mormonism is a Christian heresy.

It’s not relevant, and shame on Huckabee for forcing Romney to respond, says Krauthammer.

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Charles Krauthammer – Huckabee Plays the Religion Card – washingtonpost.com

As it happens, Krauthammer, Dowd, and this writer are also members of minority religions in this country.

A country founded on the principles of political and religious liberty.

Principles which have come under attack from within in pernicious ways.

For the past seven years, the U.S. has been run by fanatical neo-con evangelical Christians. We can see the results, in a murderous and pointless exercise in Iraq; in the torture of political prisoners (when did the U.S. ever even have political prisoners — isn’t that for the Soviet Union?); in the brainless interruption on spurious religious grounds of stem cell research that could lead to amazing medical breakthroughs.

One dares say that any change just has to be for the better.

And when it comes down to it, a list of the problems MUDGE has with Huckabee, Romney, Giuliani, Thompson and all of the Republican contenders is plenty lengthy without anyone’s religious affiliation even moving the needle.

This is all a distraction, anyway. There’s still a bloody war on; the sub-prime driven financial crisis has barely scratched the surface; and as long as we’re speaking of sub-prime, let’s use that phrase to define public education, and then fix it!

These are the real issues to grapple with, and these conversations about a person’s private religious practice are meant to deflect us from the reality of the failures of the present government, and the empty promises of most of those who aim to succeed it.

In case you missed it, I’ll finish this with Krauthammer’s carefully drawn irony:

Every mention of God in every inaugural address in American history refers to the deity in this kind of all-embracing, universal, nondenominational way. (The one exception: William Henry Harrison. He caught cold delivering that inaugural address. Thirty-one days later, he was dead. Draw your own conclusion.)

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE