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Monday, January 07, 2008

The New and Improved Hehndeed

This is, indeed, the person that your mother was warning you about. (Click and click again. But be careful: your eyes will never be the same.)

I would like to second the wisdom of mom.

iTase Me, Bro: Stun Me With Your Bad Taste

Take a Taser, make it fabulous, and give it a gig of memory with which to store the musical screams of the Tased, and what do you have? That’s right: a really bad idea.

The company today is unveiling a leopard print TASER(r) C2 personal protection and its TASER Music Player, which combines a TASER holster and and am MP3 player.

Naturally, the new weapons are being showcased in Las Vegas. “The 1GB TASER MPH allows for both personal protection and personal music for people on the go,” the company says. “Red-hot red” and “fashion pink” are two more new colors the company plans to reveal.

It’s electric. Boogie woogie woogie.

Yeah. Okay.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Live Blogging the Sans-a-Paul Debate

Zomby provides insta-translation.

On taxes:
Romney, raising fees doesn’t really count as raising taxes and I can name-drop Reagan with the best of ‘em. McCain Sucks. I believe Huckabee but he probably lied. Let’s lower taxes and give middle income folks a tax break.

McCain: Reagan. Reagan. Cut taxes and spending at the same time like Reagan would do. I’m a responsible fiscal conservative tax-cutter guy unlike these guys who just want to do one half of the tough job. I’m all about the veto, I’m all about fiscal sanity, and I don’t dig porkbarrel projects. Which, yeah…

Romney: Please. Bush rocks and so did his tax cuts. I’ll do even better, though, because I have a history of cutting spending and not raising taxes (except for those fees, which I’m hoping you won’t talk about anymore).

McCain: I rock. I may not be loved, but I have a better record. So there.

Huckabee: Sly dig at Romney. Nudge nudge. Romney’s my bitch. Fee bumps are too tax increases. I cut taxes all the time. I’m really good at it. “I made government work.” Screw you libertarians.

Romney: You did, too, raise taxes.

Huckabee: Well you raised more taxes in those fees.

Romney: I don’t like you. Lying bastard. I have a good record and yours isn’t as good. Did you raise taxes or not? Just answer, bitch.

Huckabee: Stop being mean to me, jerk. I made government work and did lots of stuff with those tax raises that I don’t admit to having made. So there.

Romney: Bitch.

Rudy: Dude, I recommended lots of tax cuts and enacted quite a few. I lowered the income tax rate and hotel occupancy rates, too. And some other stuff. Figures. Figures. Largest tax cu in the city. I totally refuse to let anyone else bogart this issue. Supply-sidedness is next to godliness and I want to cut more taxes, too. Slash slash slash.

Thompson: Hey, cool. Me. I never said I would cut Social Security and I’m the only one that’s put out a real plan. Everyone else just talks a bunch of shit, but I’ve given you a real idea with big changes, some privatization, and more fiscal sanity. The blue hairs might not like it, but I’m not taking anything from them. I’m just trying to make it sane. Now shut up and let me talk for a second--I’m trying to bring some substance to this, okay--here’s how I want to save 4.7 trillion dollars and how I would be willing to talk directly to the public to get it done.

Romney: Bold idea, not a good one, though. Vote for me blue hairs. But, yeah, boy, we sure should do something or other that might involve some privatization.

Thompson: Dude, were you even listening to me?

McCain: I like Fred. I like that Bush tried to do it, too. But we need another big --name drop Gipper here—pow wow with the opposition to fix this thing. Because it’s really broken. Really really broken.

On Economic Populism:
Huckabee: You love me, don’t you? Because I’m nice and I’m a lot like you and I stay at cheap hotels and gas prices hurt me, too. It’s tough to be a regular American which is why I try so hard to pretend I’m one of them. For some reason. Too much taxes, too much legislation, too much regulation, too much otheration, so let’s fix it, folks. Gipper. Gipper loves you and I do, too.

Romney: He’s a jerk. Why are you people buying into this? He wants to punish big businesses and hurt job growth. Can’t you folks see that? I mean, I’ve had some tough times, too. Do you think hair like this comes from never, ever having tough times? I can be populist, too.

Huckabee: I love businesses and I want to eliminate death.

Fred: You’re funny.

Huckabee: Thanks!

Fred: Still don’t like you, though.

Huckabee: Average Americans like me, who stay in economy hotels, resents stuff about taxes and things and, good Lord, I’m getting tired of the sound of my own voice.

Rudy: These guys don’t know how to fix economies and I do. New York City: broken before me, rockin’ after I was done. Take that, populist losers. I tied welfare to work (workfare) which worked out pretty well, yeah? Work is good. Poor people working means fewer poor people. C’mon, it’s simple. I may not ever have been one of the average or poor people, but I’ve seen them before and I declared my love for them.

Fred: Yeah, Fair Tax has some nice ideas, but I’m not sure about it in implementation. Flat or flatter tax seems like a better and more workable idea to me, though, and it has a chance of passing. Simplifying and flattening the taxes wouldn’t be such a bad idea, would it? Rudy seems to like it...hey, why the hell are you cutting me off, jerk?

Agents of Change:
McCain: I’m very changy. Didn’t like Rumsfeld, thought changes in strategy would be good. That worked out pretty well, didn’t it? Saved American lives. Campaign finance reform was extra-changy. I’m at least as changy as anyone else especially when it comes to that bit in Iraq.

Romney: Sure, he’s very changy. Washington isn’t, though, so I think Washington needs an outsider who is very changy. That’s me. I’m totally changy on health care, energy, other stuff, too. Outsiders are changier than insiders; McCain’s an insider. Unlike Rudy. Who is also pretty changy. Change, change, change. I love me some change. I’m going to keep talking until someone cuts me off. Unlike Fred, who seems to get cut off at the drop of a hat. Ha ha.

McCain: Hey, I was in the Navy and I’ve got some leadership in me, too. I’ve run big organizations. Iraq. I was right and other folks were wrong. I can be just as changy as the times require. Osama is a jerk and I will totally beat him down. With change.

Thompson: Thanks for talking to me again. This format sucks. Look, leadership is more important than clinging to a buzz word as if it were a fuckin’ life raft. You can be all changy on Social Security as you want, but what we need is someone to actually fix the problem. Good answers and good leadership communicated with the American public is all the change we need. Need some honesty. Honesty is good.

Rudy: Changy Democrats suck. My changy ideas are better.

--Break--

National Security:
Romney: I have all the experience I need to be a good national security leader. Experts are overrated. Governors are better than senators because they are better executive managers. By the way, I’m nicer than McCain and I don’t have that nasty temper. Which, isn’t that nice? We’ve got lots of tough bits coming up. In fact, life in America looks a bit like hell to me. Immigrants are coming to get you and if they don’t the bad hospitals, uneducated kids, and crappy hospitals will. Vote for me.

McCain: Maybe governors haven’t always been the best choice, though, have they? Especially the ones from Arkansas. Gipper. I know the people we’d be dealing with, I’ve been to all these places, and I have a great background for national security issues. This Romney guy didn’t even take part in the Iraq debate. He’s clueless, isn’t he? Nice guy, though. See, no temper here.

Romney: Well, I was busy with running a state, so I didn’t exactly have time for that debate, did I? I mean, I said a few things here and there. Token criticism. American intelligence services surely do suck. I lived up to my responsibility in running a state. Can’t really talk about Iraq much, though, because I’ve pretty much exhausted my knowledge. Good managers are better. Gipper.

Huckabee: I’ve been to lots of countries and I can even name some of them. When I can’t name them, I’m pretty comfortable with a more general regional view of my travels. I have more experience as a manager than anyone else here. Time magazine even loved me and we improved Arkansas in all sorts of big ways and I’m going to avoid the question again for as long as I can. Maybe I don’t know everything, but I won’t let facts stand in the way of my convictions. Patriotism, God, and nicely sculpted eyebrows will help me gain the presidency and really, really big boots will crush our enemies. Which kicks ass. I love everyone. Even these people at the table. Maybe not the Mormon. Still working on that. I really don’t have much to say about this, though.

Rudy: New York City is big. I did a pretty good job as Mayor, didn’t I? I mean, I’m the only one here who actually dealt with a big Islamist attack, aren’t I? I’ve negotiated international agreements before and have been involved with anti-terrorist stuff since the 70’s. I was mean to Castro and some other real jerks, too, and told that Saudi guy to shove his big check right up his ass because I totally don’t like bad guys. Which would make me a good president.

Thompson: Romney thinks expertise counts in everything except national security. Which is weird. Terrorists are real, terrorists are scary, and we need experts. Yeah, I could talk about countries I’ve travelled to and stuff like that, but, basically, I’ve got lots of experience and that experience counts. Huckabee is wrong, too: our foreign policy isn’t arrogant, I don’t want to import terrorists into the US from Guantanamo. And, on health care, Ted Kennedy likes you, doesn’t he, Mitt?

Huckabee: Guantanamo. I’ve visited prisons. Guantanamo was too nice, but I wasn’t talking about closing it because it was bad, per se. I was talking about closing it for some other vague reason that I can’t exactly get across to your simple minds.

Thomson: WTF?

McCain: I could totally nail bin Laden to the wall. Yeah. No problem. Lots of military folks and national security experts like me and that makes me better on this issue than the other folks at this table. I’ve got the experience, I’ve got the respect. I rock.

Read the Rest...

An Interesting Reply

While I finally get around to taking down the Christmas tree (with a little sadness in my heart) and sneak in a little football watchery (the lovely girl isn’t the biggest fan of football season), read Left Off Colfax’s response to a comment I left at Steve’s joint. I think it would be fairly obvious that I don’t agree with what he would like to see happen (and I’m not sure that I would consider the Republican minority to be better at obstruction than the Democrat minority was throughout much of the Bush presidency), but I always appreciate thoughtful posts. Especially when I might have provided some of the urge to post.

Makes me feel all special inside.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

No Myth

In reference to 7:39 pm: while Magical Energy Fairies are entirely mythological, I have it on good authority that the other bit is entirely true. His wife talks a lot when she’s got a few drinks in her.

Read Steve’s debate blogging here.

For the record, the debates tonight were actually substantial and meaningful. Hats off to ABC for letting the candidates actually talk and talk to each other a bit. While Bill Richardson looks more stupid the more room he’s given to speak, most of the rest of the candidates were at their thoughtful best. I still say that Obama and Huckabee are nearly content-free zones, preferring to traffic in feeling good and sweeping, general statements that aren’t even close to real policy ideas, at least the format allowed for everyone an opportunity to interact--and some of the questions were pointed enough to be interesting.

And, yes, Fred is still my guy.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Goodbye to One of Our Own

Robin Roberts just left a comment noting the passing of one of Colorado’s bloggers. Major Andrew Olmsted was killed yesterday in Iraq and he will be missed by those of us who knew him (in the most casual way, in my case) and respected him for his thoughts and for his service. He was a great man and he deserves to be remembered for his kindness, his intelligence, and his words.

My deepest condolences go out to his family--and if anyone knows of how we can help them through this time, please email me and let me know. He was undeniably one of the good guys and from the words that his fellow soldiers and friends are leaving, I know that their loss is huge. I wish I had a chance to have known him better.

After he left his own site, he was blogging from the Rocky and you can read his last post here and leave your thoughts. I’ll be joining Andy (in a virtual sense) in a drink to his memory.

Others have their own memories. Jed. Robert Hayes. Walter. Blackfive. Jeff G and Karl. Joe Katzman. Jay. Charles (who has a great picture). Rick Moran. Baldilocks.

The Clueless Mr. Answer

Nathan has a question about guitars and I’m certainly not the guy to answer.

If you can help, then it would probably make up for a little bit of bad karma that you piled on over your deranged (and possibly illegal) New Years Eve celebration. Which, maybe that’s more about me than it is about you.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

If I Weren’t On So Many Drugs…

If I weren’t filled with so many pills--including slightly more Percosets than Im supposed to be taking--I would try to have something smart to say about the Iowa caucus. But, lo, I am filled with these drugs and I don’t have the power to wade through any greater meaning to the surprises. Suffice it to say, though, that the situation is, were it played on a national level, as nightmarish as I could imagine. The only good news is that Thompson stays in the race and Ron Paul did more poorly than many were expecting.

Iowa is Iowa. I don’t know how meaningful these results are--but it certainly isn’t meaningless.

Update: What he said.

Update 2: That’s gonna leave a mark.

Tonight is a sad one for America. It marks the triumph of sentiment over substance. Mike Huckabee’s speech was nothing but empty platitudes. Obama’s is not much better. Again, this is a comment on their substance, or lack thereof. On an emotional level, they connect with people. Their tone is right. That’s why all year long I have warned people to watch Huckabee—because I knew he was a threat to win the nomination. But if he does, Susan Estrich is right: The Democrats will be dancing on inauguration night, because they will make mincemeat of this unethical, insubstantial, unconservative rube from Hope, Arkansas. Of course, it also shows that the people of Iowa aren’t serious about electing a president; they are serious only about “sending a message” about the tone of politics. That message is a correct one—the tone does need to improve—but the inexperienced and unaccomplished Obama (what, pray tell, has he actually ever achieved as a legislator?) and the money-grubbing, parochial governor full of more demagoguery than of knowledge are NOT, repeat NOT, men who have any business sniffing the Oval Office.

Read it all. It’s brutal.

Message to the Wealthy: The Democrats are Coming

An article today on Marketwatch is a warning to the wealthy to buy stuff now to avoid rising consumer prices and the dangers of a Democratic presidency.

Presidential candidates see domestic wealth increases as prime pickings for tax increases, meaning that all the wealth that has come the way of the rich may be reduced some.
Obama has a “Tax Fairness for the Middle Class” plan that calls for nearly doubling the capital-gains tax rate from 15% to 28%. Clinton, getting advice from Warren Buffett, is in favor of keeping an estate tax in place; the tax is due to expire in 2010, then return the next year in a former incarnation.

John Edwards, too, wants an estate tax and has aggressively proposed repealing the Bush tax cuts for the highest-income households altogether. He also wants to close “unfair” loopholes like the tax breaks for hedge funds and private-equity fund managers and unlimited executive pensions—things the other candidates, too, have attacked.

All this means, if you are rich there’s a chance that more capital restrictions could apply in the future. Republican candidates, of course, are more forgiving and tax shy.

All of this also means that if a Democrat does take office next year, we could be seeing seed money for new ventures and development drying up along with a deepened recession and tightening job market. Look for that to happen within the first two years as first year tax increases are guaranteed with any of the Democrats. While I expect Obama or Edwards increases to be the kind that shock the markets, Hillary may have learned from her husband’s first term that baby steps are better when it comes to tax increases both economically and politically.

Again, one of the reasons that I like her as the best option from the left is that she probably learned the power of moderation when it comes to her more progressive instincts. It’s funny: I think her natural political instincts would be somewhere to the left of Obama, and that she really wishes she could shove a very aggressive agenda down our throats. I also believe that her political savvy would lead her to be much more of a centrist in the same way that Bill was and entirely willing to adopt some ideas from the right (like Bill did with welfare reform).

Read the rest.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Fred Thompson for President

I won’t go as far as Nathan in actually asking people to vote for Fred Thompson in Iowa, but I will say that I hope they vote for him. While I have a few areas of substantial disagreement with him, I tend to agree with him on Social Security, national security, taxes, budget reform, and the second amendment. To be honest, I like the campaign he’s running.

I know I probably won’t get a lot of agreement on that, but let me say it again: I like the campaign that Fred Thompson is running.

I like that he has put out policy ideas with substance. I like that he wants to address those things that I believe pose the most hazard to America’s future. I like that his campaign isn’t the highest profile. He isn’t as lazy as he has been described, although I can’t help but acknowledge the fact that he hasn’t done as many stops as other campaigns. The good part is that he is one of the least pandering of the bunch. He seems to be running on a platform that involves positions and ideas instead of promises and ass kissing.

Thompson isn’t the only one running what I would consider to be an honest campaign. Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich never waver on their beliefs, either. The difference being, of course, that I don’t agree with Kucinich on anything and disagree with Paul on some of the bits that are most important to me.

That isn’t to say that the others are all liars or worthless; gaining the presidency is an intricate dance where the candidate needs to find as many partners as possible. Who can blame these folks for being a little bit promiscuous? Thompson just doesn’t seem as willing to change positions as some of the others. I understand the necessity of the extended campaign, but I would like to think that the person who wins will actually settle in and do the job instead of constantly politicking to win the next election. Which brings us to the second section of this post.

How Joe Biden Got Something Right.

I don’t often agree with Joe “The Fifth Nag of the Apocalypse” Biden, but he recently said two things that made a lot of sense:

“...I won’t be president,” Biden declared as his speech came to a close.

Which I admit to taking out of context, but I submit offers us a remarkably clear vision of the future. Joe Biden won’t be our nation’s next president. The Democrats have fairly well solidified behind Clinton, Obama, and Edwards with the latter running a distant third. No one is showing any strong love for Biden (except, of course, for Biden himself). The Republican field isn’t even close to settled.

The next thing that Biden said, about Barack Obama, is more meaningful to this conversation.

“I’m the Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. He’s a member. He’s only been there...this is halfway through his first term and he’s been running most of the time.”

Biden is completely right. Obama hasn’t even finished out his first term and, in fact, has been inching toward a presidential the entire way through. What is his resume? What are his legislative accomplishments or his record of leadership? When has he shown the capacity for coalition and consensus building that will be so important to the next president? But the man sure can campaign well. He’s maintained a professional organization, he has a certain charisma (although I don’t personally find him likable, it would be naive to say that I’m the rule rather than the exception), and he has smartly defined himself as the more electable option to the Hillary run.

Obama seems to be a political construct built of polling and a cynical maneuvering in hopes of predicting where the polls will trend in much the same way as Hillary (who learned the value of the middle of the road from her husband’s two terms in office). I would say much the same about Romney and Giuliani and can’t help but note that these are the top names on both sides of the ballot. What does that say about our political processes?

To be clear, I don’t think any of these people are bad people--there are even a few that I would vote for under the right circumstances. I’m enjoying this election cycle--with its dumbed down debates, sound bites, and watery candidates--even less than the last. Where are the leaders to inspire us? Not with the passionate (and sometimes unthinking) anger that Ron Paul brings or the floaty wishful thinking of Dennis Kucinich, but someone to inspire us with hope and ideas.

Bringing it all back home.

Which is why I like the Thompson campaign. He’s said what he believes, he’s offered up his ideas, and he has offered himself up for the position. This is a surprisingly unpolished campaign from a Hollywood type, but it is refreshingly clear and honest. He’s an experienced politician but not so entrenched in the system that he feels like just another DC elitist. He recognizes the need for change, but offers solutions without the manic undercurrent of Ron Paul’s harangues. It doesn’t hurt that he hasn’t once mentioned the Trilateral Commission.

Everyone who reads this site regularly is a smart, thoughtful person. I know that because I know most of you on a personal level. Politically, you the run all across the spectrum--and, for some of you, I’ve taken shots at your candidate. You’ll all vote for the person that you believe will represent you and your interests the best--or because you want to protest against current Republican philosophy. You all have your reasons.

As I said a few days ago: an endorsement from me is probably useless. How many votes will my opinion sway? Probably not many. It would feel a little wrong to let this moment pass, though, without explaining why Fred Thompson is the only candidate who has earned my money and my vote to this point.

More about Fred on the Corner.

Ways to Use That Gift Card: The Off Colfax Edition

Off Colfax has a few suggestions for eating up those gift cards--and I already own one of his suggestions, although I’ll leave it as a guessing game on the title.

Check it out.

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