December 30, 2007

Telegraph's Person of the Year: General Petraeus
— Ace

Couple of points deducted for not awarding it jointly to Petraeus and the troops under his command.

For a man whose critics say he is far too fond of the television cameras, General David Petraeus, commander of US forces in Iraq, has been rather out of the limelight this Christmas.

The sprightly, media-friendly 55-year-old is not perturbed, however, that his face is no longer number one item on the US networks. As he said last week, where Iraq is concerned, "No news is good news."
General David Petraeus, commander of US forces in Iraq, is The Sunday Telegraph's Person of the Year
Achieving what many feared impossible: General David Petraeus’s surge has reduced violence in Iraq

Today, we put him in the spotlight again by naming Gen Petraeus as The Sunday Telegraph's Person of the Year, a new annual accolade to recognise outstanding individual achievement.

He has been the man behind the US troop surge over the past 10 months, the last-ditch effort to end Iraq's escalating civil war by putting an extra 28,000 American troops on the ground.

So far, it has achieved what many feared was impossible. Sectarian killings are down. Al-Qaeda is on the run. And the two million Iraqis who fled the country are slowly returning. Progress in Iraq is relative - 538 civilians died last month. But compared with the 3,000 peak of December last year, it offers at least a glimmer of hope.

...

To appreciate the scale of the task Gen Petraeus took on, it is necessary to go back to February 22, 2006. Or, as Iraqis now refer to it, their own September 11. That was when Sunni-led terrorists from al-Qaeda blew up the Shia shrine in the city of Samarra, an act of provocation that finally achieved their goal of igniting sectarian civil war.

A year on, an estimated 34,000 people had been killed on either side - some of them members of the warring Sunni and Shia militias, but most innocents tortured and killed at random. US casualties continued to rise, too, but increasingly American troops became the bystanders in a religious conflict that many believed they could no longer tame.

Except, that is, for Gen Petraeus.

The Dallas Morning News gives its Texan of the Year award, meanwhile, to... illegal immigrants.

Posted by: Ace at 10:53 AM | Comments (21)
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12 Mildly Perceptive Men
— Ace

Gib rounds up a couple of cases of juries finding evidence that prosecutors and defense attorneys missed. And it doesn't seem to be goofball evidence, either; in one case, a robbery case, juries inspected a jacket belonging to the defendant and found a rolled up wad of cash and a rubber glove -- which had been entirely missed by lawyers for both the state and defendant.

Jurors said they hadn't based their verdict on the discovery (to be honest, it's not smoking-gun proof anyhow, just baffling that it could have been missed) but the judge ordered a new trial anyway, which was probably the right call, given the fact that the sixth amendment guarantees the right to have one's case prosecuted and defended by people who aren't drooling imbeciles.

Posted by: Ace at 10:46 AM | Comments (7)
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New National Leader In Rasumssen Poll... McCain
— Ace

A statistically insignificant lead over the next runners-up, but a hell of a comeback.

Fred Thompson remains in the thick of it at 12%.


Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

The race for the Republican nomination for the presidency appears to be a rollar-coaster ride this year, as John McCain is the new leader in a fresh national poll by Rasmussen Reports.

For the first time all year, the Arizona senator finds himself on top with support from 17 percent of likely Republican primary voters.

McCain becomes the third person to top the poll this month and the fourth since October.

But, according to Rasmussen, McCain's lead is statistically insignificant.

Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee are just a point behind at 16 percent, and Rudy Giuliani is two points back at 15 percent. Slightly off the pace, but still within five points of McCain, is Fred Thompson at 12 percent. Ron Paul retains his base support at 7 percent.

"One of the more amazing things about the Republican race this year is that it has grown closer and closer over time," notes Rasmussen. "In a poll with a four-percentage point margin of error, the fact that five candidates are within five points means there is absolutely no national frontrunner. Adding to the uncertainty is the fact that 13 percent of likely primary voters remain undecided."

Posted by: Ace at 08:20 AM | Comments (45)
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Millions in Earmarks Purchase Little of Use
— Gabriel Malor

Congressman Murtha took a beating in yesterday's Washington Post for obtaining millions in wasteful earmarks.

The National Defense Center for Environmental Excellence opened its doors in 1991 with a $5 million earmark from a powerful lawmaker [Murtha, named in the eighth paragraph]. Operating in Johnstown, Pa., the privately run center has received at least $671 million worth of federal contracts and earmarks since then to research and develop pollution-abatement technology and other systems for the Defense Department.

The center's researchers have examined scores of software systems and other gear, including groundwater monitoring equipment, gun cleaners and ultrasonic devices, according to its managers. They said the center had delivered nearly 500 technology products and tools to protect the environment, improve safety and cut Pentagon costs.

But a months-long examination by The Washington Post, including a review of documents and interviews with Pentagon officials, found that little of the center's work has been widely used or deployed by the Defense Department.

The reason that the NDCEE's programs aren't widely adopted? In more than half the cases the technologies did not save money as promised. I'm even more dubious about the non-profit, "tax-exempt charity" organization that administers the NDCEE and pulls in $250 million in annual revenue. Murtha started that group, too.

Posted by: Gabriel Malor at 08:07 AM | Comments (20)
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Paul: And Let Dull Failure Be My Vestiture UPDATE
— Gabriel Malor

I must have missed this yesterday, but Ron Paul has been excluded from the Fox News debate to take place the weekend before the New Hampshire primary. It's about time. Of course, he's not going down quietly:

"They are scared of me and don't want my message to get out, but it will," Paul said in an interview at a diner here. "They are propagandists for this war and I challenge them on the notion that they are conservative."

Paul's staff said they are beginning to plan a rally that will take place at the same time the 90-minute debate will air on television. It will be taped at Saint Anselm College in Goffstown.

"They will not win this skirmish," he promised.

Heh.

Related: The Washington Post is running a series of voter profiles each Sunday during the primaries. Today was the first one. I haven't been able to find it in the web version, but the print edition has, just underneath the voter profile, examples of the "Typical Iowa Voter" with mini-bios of one Republican and one Democrat.

Their Republican example, one Jim Thalacker, is planing to vote for Ron Paul.

UPDATE: LGF has a link to an article claiming that this story isn't true. The Fox debate has been canceled for three weeks. If that's the case, I wonder what Paul was talking about when he was quoted above, or if he was quoted accurately.

Posted by: Gabriel Malor at 07:02 AM | Comments (18)
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Thompson on FNS
— Gabriel Malor

I caught Fred Thompson on Fox News Sunday while I was at the gym this morning (nice facilities here at my bro's apartment complex, BTW; I'm jealous). Thompson did pretty good, but I don't think it got him any more votes than he already had, in Iowa at least. It was too generic, too same-ol' same-ol'. (This re-cap and summary is based on memory alone at the moment, I'll post video as soon as I find some.)

As per his usual, Thompson was unfailingly polite, declining to bad-mouth the other Republican candidates. He even backed off of Wallace's question asking if Huckabee were unfit to be president. I can't tell what Thompson's strategy is here. Sometimes he's all about pushing on his opponents. Today, he was just the genial, gracious Southerner.

He also managed to stop himself from accusing FOXNews of an institutional bias against him, even after Wallace opened with this quote from yesterday, that will surely frustrate his web supporters:

"I like to say that I'm only consumed by very, very few things and politics is not one of them. The welfare of my country and my kids and grandkids are one of them. But if people really want in their president a super type-A personality, someone who has gotten up every morning and gone to bed every night thinking about for years how they could achieve the presidency of the United States, someone who could look you straight in the eye and say they enjoy every minute of campaigning — I ain't that guy."

"Nowadays, it's all about fire in the belly," he said. "I'm not sure in the world we live in today it's a terribly good thing that a president has too much fire in his belly."

His other major weak moment was when Wallace discussed the recent Iowa polls with him, using RCP's averages. Thompson applied a generous amount of gloss, claiming a third-place spot by nature of a flawed poll RCP included in the average. No mention was made of the private poll of 15,000 likely Republican caucus goers that puts Thompson at 1%, behind Ron Paul.

In all, I suspect that FOX did Thompson a favor by making him the last candidate to be on FNS before the Iowa caucus. Unfortunately, I don't think Thompson took best advantage of it.

Posted by: Gabriel Malor at 06:38 AM | Comments (46)
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Kids Are Dumb. Social Reengineering Is Dumber.
— LauraW.

Ten years and £150 million later, massive sex education effort fails to curtail teen pregnancy.

....Britain tops the league table of teenage mothers in western Europe, despite also having a record number of school-age abortions.

That's right. Almost 60 percent of their teen pregnancies end in abortion, yet the number of teen moms has still risen.

Norman Wells, of the Family Education Trust charity, said that the Government had allowed the "systematic removal of every restraint that used to act as a disincentive to under-age sex". There was no evidence that easy availability of contraception reduced teenage pregnancy rates, instead it added to pressure on young girls by normalising under-age sex, he said.

--------------------------------------------

Girls who could obtain contraception before the age of consent were more likely to become sexually active, leading to higher rates of sexually transmitted infections, pregnancies and abortions, he said.

The combination of sexual images in the media with explicit sex education had broken down the natural inhibitions of children about sex, while progressively easier availability of contraception meant that young girls could no longer use fear of pregnancy as a reason to reject sexual advances, Mr Wells added.

There's another reason that early sexualization leads to disease and pregnancy despite the availability and widespread use of condoms and other contraceptives, and nobody ever mentions it.

If I may be so bold: kids are clumsy dumbshits. That's not a putdown. We were all helplessly stupid once.

This is why parents are legally required to protect them and keep an eye on them until they're 18, and why we pay public schools to educate them.

You can't trust children not to get themselves killed or do stupid nonsensical shit for years on end, but you're going to tell them 'We know you're gong to have sex, it's inevitable,' and trust them to be 100% responsible with contraceptives at age 13? Really?

Isn't it, just as a practical matter you understand, easier and more effective to tell girls not to give it up or else they'll be a huge disappointment to their parents and ruin their fuckin' lives? That's old-school, but apparently it worked as well or better than contraceptives every damn day of the week.

The article glosses over the epidemic of disgusting venereal diseases that are affecting younger and younger kids. Diseases that often have lifelong health consequences.

What would you rather your daughter experience: a few years of inhibiting shame, or chlamydia?

Andrew Lansley, the shadow health secretary, said that the Government's failure was rooted in an attempt to find "state-led solutions" to problems that needed to be tackled by families and communities. "Our research has shown that progress is only being made in the areas where people are relatively well-off, whereas in deprived areas the situation is often getting worse.

"What we actually need is for family-led organisations, and local communities and the voluntary sector to work together on these problems."

Emphasis mine. These are the same people who were getting the job done before people advanced such bright ideas about trusting kids to behave sexually like responsible adults. You remember, the stifling traditional society that has been discarded because it was threatening our joie de vivre?

What's old is new again, it would seem.

Posted by: LauraW. at 06:29 AM | Comments (34)
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December 29, 2007

Patriots v. Giants Open Thread
— DrewM.

The drive for regular season perfection comes down to this game.

I hope there's extra security on hand to make sure none of the geriatric members of the '72 Dolphins try to go all Tanya Harding on Brady or Moss.

UPDATE [Dave in Texas]: Jeebus, is there any channel this friggin thing ISN'T on?

mesa, what about the cooking channel?

Posted by: DrewM. at 04:02 PM | Comments (161)
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Reclaim Your Mind
— Gabriel Malor

Christmas was a little delayed for one girl this year.

he was getting an iPod for Christmas but ended up getting a rude surprise. She got the box but when she opened it up, she found a surprising switch: the iPod had been replaced with a bizarre note.

The note reads "Reclaim your mind from the media's shackles. Read a book and resurrect yourself. To reclaim your capitalistic garbage go to your nearest Apple store."

Gotta love those anti-consumerist jerks.

Posted by: Gabriel Malor at 02:46 PM | Comments (24)
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Mother instills "modern values" in 6 year old
— Purple Avenger

Why tell the truth when a lie will do?

The girl won a makeover that included a blonde Hannah Montana wig, as well as the grand prize: airfare for four to Albany, N.Y., and four tickets to the sold-out Hannah Montana concert on Jan. 9.

The opening line in the essay was: "My daddy died this year in Iraq."

The girl's mother had told Club Libby Lu officials that the girl's father died April 17 in a roadside bombing in Iraq, company spokeswoman Robyn Caulfield said. But the mother, Priscilla Ceballos, admitted later Friday that the essay and the military information she provided about her daughter's father were untrue.

"We did the essay and that's what we did to win. We did whatever we could do to win," Ceballos said in an interview Friday with KDFW-TV of Dallas. "But when (Caulfield) asked me if this essay is true, I said 'No, this essay is not true.'"

The kid plainly has a very promising career ahead of her as a liberal democrat politician. Anyone who has the instincts to lie and cheat like this at 6 years old will be world class by the time they leave high school. Might wind up like that movie a few years ago where a beauty pageant contestant is murdering her competition in the quest for the crown.

Back when I was a boy scout I competed in the usual Pinewoods Derby type stuff. My dad's business had all the industrial machinery to make a truly world class car, but we didn't. We could have hard chrome plated the nails that were the axles - but we didn't. We could have inserted micro ball bearings on those chromed axles- but we didn't. The only thing my dad did to help was tell me that it would go faster if *I* took a jewelers file and worked over the heads of the nails to remove the forming crimp relics under the heads and polished them a bit with some 400 grit sandpaper. Of course I lost because other's were having their fathers build their cars for them.

I was permanently damaged by these sort of archaic values my parents put into my head. Its taken me several decades to come to the realization that once you give up on integrity all things become possible.

Posted by: Purple Avenger at 02:27 PM | Comments (45)
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The Power of Christ Compels You UPDATED
— Gabriel Malor

Pope Benedict has given orders that bishops are to train exorcists to help combat the rise of Satanism. This is old news, at least in my home diocese which always keeps a trained exorcist on staff.

The initiative was revealed by 82-year-old Father Gabriele Amorth, the Vatican "exorcistinchief," to the online Catholic news service Petrus.

"Thanks be to God, we have a Pope who has decided to fight the Devil head-on," he said.

"Too many bishops are not taking this seriously and are not delegating their priests in the fight against the Devil. You have to hunt high and low for a properly trained exorcist.

Tell me about it.

I worked for a Catholic church from high school through college. In my first week I got a call that started like this: "This is going to sound strange, but I'm totally serious. Can you send someone over for an exorcism?" He then proceeded to explain that things were moving on their own and the house was making sounds and that it had been going on for a few weeks. He was nominally Lutheran, but they wouldn't do anything about it. Heh. We didn't either.

P.S. I just noticed some unintentional (?) humor in the Daily Mail URL to this story. it ends with "Satan=Santa." Hmmmm.

More: I meant to add this as part of the post earlier, but got distracted by my 13-month-old niece, who I'm visiting in Virginia.

The Vatican is particularly concerned that young people are being exposed to the influence of Satanic sects through rock music and the Internet.

UPDATE: Via the lovely moron RightwingSparkle, the Vatican denies that it is ordering an increase in exorcists:

"Pope Benedict XVI has no intention of ordering local bishops to bring in garrisons of exorcists to fight demonic possession,'' Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi told reporters in Rome Friday.

On Thursday, the Roman Catholic Web site Petrus said the pope planned to install more exorcists in every diocese next year and reintroduce a prayer during mass to St. Michael the Archangel, believed to be the prime protector against evil, The Telegraph in Britain reported Saturday.

Posted by: Gabriel Malor at 10:11 AM | Comments (105)
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Star Trek Fan Says Auctioned TNG Prop a Fake
— Dave In Texas

Ted Moustakis paid $6,000 for a poker visor supposed to have been worn by the android Data in Star Trek The Next Generation, but when he took it to have it autographed, actor Brent Spiner said he sold the original.

According to the lawsuit, Spiner recognized the visor as the one that had been sold by Christie's and told Moustakis that it wasn't the real deal. The actual visor had been sold by the actor himself some time ago.

Moustakis, who became a Star Trek fan at age 7, said he was humiliated.

Oh. Now he's humilated.

Get a life, will you people? I mean, for crying out loud, it's just a TV show!

Posted by: Dave In Texas at 05:03 AM | Comments (35)
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December 28, 2007

Pick Em!
— Dave In Texas

UPDATED and BUMPED: Last Call.

Hey, I managed to stay in the top 5 this week.

I just checked with wiserbud, it's Friday Saturday. Confirmed.

No Thursday game, but one tomorrow night. Elected representatives are whining about the Giants and the Patriots NOT Dallas and Green Bay, oh hell no that does rate. Anyhow it's the Last Week of the Regular Season, capped off with this yawner of a game between the Giants and the Patriots.

ace, a glimmer of hope. The Pats might care about a perfect season, but they might care more about winning it all. You never know with those commie bastards. This could be NY's chance.

It won't amount to shit. The Giants are going down the toilet like the big stinky you made last night in a fit of... whatever the hell you have fits of.

ahem. AoSHQI and AoSHQII standings.

1 PHenry 138
2 anotheranon 133
3 Mr_Wide_Stance 132
4 Bart, shoveling snow I sincerely hope I mean Merry Christmas 129
4 JarvisW 129
4 Bun in the Oven Slublog 129
7 Johnny Warmcuts 128
7 Dave in Texas 128


Does this shit go through the playoffs? I don't see why not. It's still football.

Posted by: Dave In Texas at 05:15 PM | Comments (11)
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Rudy To Campaign in Iowa....Romney to benefit most from Rudy's decision..
— Jack M.

So sayeth the real Hugh Hewitt.

I can't make this stuff up. After a day of evoking the spirit of Mr. Hewitt's fawning, cheer-leading, Romney tongue-bathing, posts I have to face the simple fact: No matter how over the top I go, I simply can't out-Hugh, Hugh.

You win, Mr. Hewitt. Your man crush has transcended even the limits of satire. Congratulations!

Are the Iowa caucuses (cauci?) over yet?

Please?

Posted by: Jack M. at 04:09 PM | Comments (57)
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Miracle: Nose Spray May Cure Sleepiness! (And Maybe Even Sleep Itself)
— Ace

Faster, please:

A nasal spray containing a naturally occurring brain hormone called orexin A reversed the effects of sleep deprivation in monkeys, allowing them to perform like well-rested monkeys on cognitive tests. The discovery's first application will probably be in treatment of the severe sleep disorder narcolepsy.

The treatment is "a totally new route for increasing arousal, and the new study shows it to be relatively benign," said Jerome Siegel, a professor of psychiatry at UCLA and a co-author of the paper. "It reduces sleepiness without causing edginess."

Orexin A is a promising candidate to become a "sleep replacement" drug. For decades, stimulants have been used to combat sleepiness, but they can be addictive and often have side effects, including raising blood pressure or causing mood swings.

Posted by: Ace at 02:35 PM | Comments (44)
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The Grimmest Milestone of All: Twenty-Thousandth Terrorist Killed In Iraq
— Ace

Cowards, Murderers Hardest Hit.

Posted by: Ace at 02:31 PM | Comments (23)
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Huckabee: Social Conservative with Nuance
— Slublog

Mike Huckabee has two things going for him as a candidate. His religion, and his social conservatism.

Oops.

Mike Huckabee last year accepted $52,000 in speaking fees from a bio-tech giant that wants to research human embryonic stem cells, a non-profit working to expand access to the morning after pill and a group pushing to study whether tightening gun control laws will reduce violence.

Huckabee opposes embryonic stem cell research, emergency contraception and stricter gun laws — all of which rank high on the list of deal-breakers for many of the religious conservatives whose support he’s ridden to the top of the Republican presidential field.

The payments — from drug-maker Novo Nordisk, which engages in stem cell research, the Public Health Institute, which works to expand access to “morning after” contraception and Grant Makers in Health, which is seeking to steer funding to studies of gun violence — highlight the delicate line Huckabee has walked on the profitable speaking circuit.

His spokesperson says this is evidence that Huckabee "isn’t afraid to speak to people who don’t agree with his message or personal philosophy." Sure, but did he need to take their money? There's a huge difference between creating opportunities for discussion and taking money from companies that create a product specifically designed to end pregnancy. A product, as the article points out, Huckabee has decried in the past.

This, from the guy who makes such a big deal out of being the only true social conservative in the race.

I guess sometimes mammon wins out, though, huh?

Posted by: Slublog at 01:49 PM | Comments (25)
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Giants Fans To Pat Lovers: Sure Yank, I'll Sell You Mine
— Dave In Texas

What's funnier?

That the Giants end the season with a meaningless game against the Pats?

Or that enterprising Giants ticket holders cash out?

I know what I think.

Posted by: Dave In Texas at 01:43 PM | Comments (26)
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American, Pakistan Officials Probe Possibility of ISI Assistance AQ In Assassination; Bhutto Shot By Five Snipers?
— Ace

I thought I posted this hours ago but apparently it never went up.

Seems like premature speculation, given that the current official word is that she was killed incompetence of her security detail than by the actual assassins.

Still, if the government is covering up bullet wounds, that's pretty big stuff.

American and Pakistani military leaders are seeking to account for what may be renegade commando units from the Pakistani military's special forces in the wake of the assassination of Pakistan's opposition leader and former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto.

The attack yesterday at Rawalpindi bore the hallmarks of a sophisticated military operation. At first, Bhutto's rally was hit by a suicide bomb that turned out to be a decoy. According to press reports and a situation report of the incident relayed to The New York Sun by an American intelligence officer, Bhutto's armored limousine was shot by multiple snipers whose armor-piercing bullets penetrated the vehicle, hitting the former premier five times in the head, chest, and neck. Two of the snipers then detonated themselves shortly after the shooting, according to the situation report, while being pursued by local police. ...

A working theory, according to this American source, is that Al Qaeda or affiliated jihadist groups had effectively suborned at least one unit of Pakistan's Special Services Group, the country's equivalent of Britain's elite SAS commandos. This official, however, stressed this was just a theory at this point. Other theories include that the assassins were trained by Qaeda or were from other military services, or the possibility that the assassins were retired Pakistani special forces.

"They just killed the most protected politician in the whole country," this source said. "We really don't know a lot at this point, but the first thing that is happening is we are asking the Pakistani military to account for every black team with special operations capabilities."

I'm not sure what madness would cause the Pakistan government to lie about a cause of death so easily disproven. Nor what, precisely, that lie would obtain, even if believed. Claiming the death's immediate cause was a blow to the head sustained while escaping assassins doesn't really change the fact that assassins killed her in the first place. And I don't see how it would be incriminating to the government to announce she'd been killed by snipers; there are jihadi snipers in Pakistan, I'm sure, just as there are jihadi snipers in Iraq.

All in all, I don't get why the cover-up... unless Musharraf (or at least his top top people) are directly involved, something I find hard to swallow.

h/t to CJ.

Posted by: Ace at 12:19 PM | Comments (41)
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Heartache: National Review Contributor Calls for End to Iowa Caucuses [Hugh M. Hewitt]
— Jack M.

Clearly, any statements made by this fellow are now to be considered skeptically, if at all.

What is this Ramesh Ponnuru fellow so afraid of? Does he not realize that the good people of Iowa (who have placed Governor Romney within 2 points of the lead in their state, no less!) represent America's traditional heartland values? Clearly his employers fellow writers at National Review understand the relevance of Iowans to the American political scene. Why, in their exceedingly good judgement, they published the following magazine so that, before they caucus, every Iowan would have the opportunity to read it. Twice.

nr.jpg

I keep a copy on my nightstand. I find it soothing.

Unlike Mr. Ponnuru, I have full confidence that when Iowans head into the snow (in their Mitt-ens, fate she does truly shine upon her chosen acolytes!) to cast the most important votes in America's history, they will do so with their head's held high and their hearts full of joy, warmed by the patriotic fervor that they, and they alone, get to act as the leading vanguard on the Romney wave.

I was tempted to invite Ramesh onto my show today to explain this heresy, but then I remembered something important. Something meaningful.

Jesus was betrayed by a kiss.

Who have you kissed recently, Ramesh?

Because I know who you have kissed-off. And that's Iowa.

Posted by: Jack M. at 11:16 AM | Comments (28)
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