Saturday, September 15, 2007

The Chase Begins: New Hampshire Picks

Tomorrow is the first Chase race, at Loudon, NH. Clint Bowyer is on the pole.

My top 10 picks:

5- Kyle Busch - win

24 - Gordon

48- Johnson

31- Burton

12- Newman

2- Kurt Busch

29- Harvick

99- Edwards

1- Truex

20- Stewart

I am feeling a little tepid about my Edwards pick. My office pool picks are due before the first practice, and the highest Ford in practice yesterday was McMurray in 26th...

Wesley Clark Endorses Hillary Clinton

Gen. Wesley Clark, former Presidential contender and NATO Supreme Commander, endorsed Hillary Clinton today.

What most Americans don't know is the extent of the respect that Sen. Clinton has garnered among military brass in her years on the Senate Armed Services Commttee. Joe Klein had a piece in Time months ago (5/10/07) with this telling quote:

"I once asked a well-known general if there were any Democrats running for President who understood the way military leaders think, and he said, 'You mean, aside from Hillary?' "

This challenges conventional wisdom. Anyone who thinks that this is not an asset in a post- 9/11 general election campaign is wrong. Oh, and then there is the whole thing about being commander-in-cheif being a huge partof the President's job description.

Vindication: Greenspan Praises Clinton, Pans Bush

Before the current era, you have to go back to the early 19th century to find a case of back-to-back two-term Presidents. The last time it happened before the Bill Clinton / George Bush timeframe was when Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe served six terms between them in the Era of Good Feelings. Needless to say, our times are not a second Era of Good Feelings, and this is the first time in the nation's history when two Presidents of different political parties have served two terms apiece consecutively.

I make this point to say that this is a unique period that says more, probably, about the nation's electorate than about either Bush or Clinton. Schizophrenia? Fatigue? Bad alternatives? Whatever the reason, I think that this note of trivia couples with the uncertainty of the times will be something that historians study closely in the coming decades.

I believe strongly that Bill Clinton was a superb President who gambled his legacy and lost over a galactically stupid failure of personal judgement. Distant history will be kinder to him than contemporaneous accounting. Whether this issue was getting profligate spending under control, stewarding America into the uncertainties of a post-Cold War framework, or tackling domestic issues such as welfare reform and crime, Clinton was able to build consensus and lead.

Bush has failed on many fronts. His domestic agenda, seven years into his Presidency, seems to consist almost entirely of cutting taxes for the wealthy and marginalizing gay people. The short shrift given to the global war on terror, along with the failure at every stage in Iraq is a legacy that he will carry through history.

It is interesting when contemporaries write about the two. In his new autobiography, the Republican Greenspan refers to Clinton as a "soulmate" and says that the controversial Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993 (the one that got us 80% of the way to a surplus without a single GOP vote in either House of Congress) was "an act of political courage." Bush, on the other hand, was a disappointment and a frustration to the venerated former Fed Chair.

On Bush, Greenspan says, "My biggest frustration remained the president's unwillingness to wield his veto against out-of-control spending...Not exercising the veto power became a hallmark of the Bush presidency. . . . To my mind, Bush's collaborate-don't-confront approach was a major mistake." Also, on the surplus that Bush squandered with the tax cut for the wealthy, Greenspan says "Little value was placed on rigorous economic policy debate or the weighing of long-term consequences."

It is an interesting period of history, but in the long judgement of history, it's not even going to be close.

LINK to WP article on Greenspan book

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Movin' On Up: Hillary Pulling Away...

Polls, polls, and more polls over the last few days, and they uniformly paint a bright picture for Sen. Clinton, and a dim picture for Obama/Edwards/rest of the candidates.

CNN - national primary- Clinton 46%, Obama 23%, Edwards 16%

CBS/NYT - roughly the same numbers.

The LA Times is out with new polls in the early three states (IA, NH, SC) which show Clinton climbing. RCP link (LATimes is subscription only).

If Hillary! can pull out a win in Iowa, it's over for the rest of them. If she finished second but wins NH and SC, it's over for the rest of them then too. It's hard to envision a scenario in which she loses this nomination.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Six Years

God Bless the United States of America

The Petraeus Report

General Petraeus testified for today before the House Armed Services Committee.

His testimony here.
The presentation- a long-awaited deal- seemed compelling if perhaps also a bit compelled.
Bottom line: What Patraeus says will go for now. The Democrats in Congress don't have the votes to override a certain veto of any measure to cut funding and leave Iraq. The General is not sure enough about progress in Iraq to let the surge troops come home, as promised by the President when he announced the surge in January. They will stay (except for a very small, token redeployment) until at least next July. At that time, we will be back to pre-surge troop levels or roughly 130,000 troops.
Even as a Democrat who thinks that the war should end, I found that Patraeus' testimony was serious enough for thoughtful consideration. There are legitimate questions about what Americans' mood will be if, as the General would have it, there are almost exactly as many troops in Iraq on Election Day 2008 as Election Day 2006. But that is a political question that at the moment is a bit crass and will have to wait for another day. Now, the country must assess the Patraeus report on its merits.

Outlook bad for Senate GOP

Sen. Hagel (R-NE) not running for reelection. Ordinarily, Nebraska would remain a red seat, however, uberpopular Bob Kerrey (wiki) is considering running to reclaim his old seat. This makes Nebraska another huge headache for Republicans heading into 2008.

Rothenberg via RCP

Current school of thought, along with my own thoughts on Dems' Senate prospects for 2008:

Likely Pickups
  1. Virginia- Switching Warners, switching parties
  2. Colorado- Allard is retiring, and Udall is the heavy favorite
  3. New Hampshire- Assuming former Gov. Shaheen runs, she will easily defeat Sen. Sununu
  4. Nebraska- If former Sen. Kerrey runs, he is the favorite by far

Possible Pickups

  1. Minnesota- If Dems can nominate someone other than Al Franken...Coleman loses.
  2. Maine- The war is unpopular and could carry Sen. Susan Collins out.
  3. Oregon- No top tier challenger to Gordon Smith and he is still behind.

Possible GOP Pickups

  1. Louisiana- Sen. Landrieu would be a victim of changing demographics post-Katrina, but still no top notch challenger has emerged.
  2. South Dakota- If Sen. Tim Johnson, who had a stroke last winter, runs he wins. If not, it will likely be Governor Rounds in a romp.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Chase Set; Earnhardt Out

Jimmie Johnson won his second NNCS race in a row last night at Richmond, Virginia...has lots of momentum going into the chase. This is unfortunate for those of us who are not 48 fans.

Earnhardt nation is weeping. For a while, it looked like he might get in: Harvick and Busch were caught up in several incidents that threatened their chances for survival. Earnhardt was running strong. Then, thanks to DNFs, Busch was locked in. And then Harvick. The 8 car still looked capable of winning, until, with 6 laps to go....he blew a motor and finished 30th. wrap

Just pouty....

Busch a threat for Championship...The Charlotte Observer. Note: He finished 10th and would have been in the Chase anyway.