Sunday, December 30, 2007

A New Year's Eve Treat

Forget murder, mayhem, Iowa mudslinging. It is time for GrooveLily's annual retelling of Hans Christian Anderson's "The Little Match Girl."

The musical is Striking Twelve and you can buy the CD here.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Pakistan's Day of the Long Knives

Was there an attempt on Thursday to wipe out all of the political opposition to Pakistan's dictator Pervez Musharraf? On the same day that Benazir Bhutto was assassinated there was a deadly attack at a political rally by Nawaz Sharif, the head of another opposition party and a political ally of Bhutto. Terrorists are anarchists who love chaos because it weakens legitimate governments. Dictators also love chaos because it gives them an excuse to crack down on the population, stifle dissent, and imprison or kill their opponents.

For both Bin Laden and Musharraf the assassination of Bhutto has been a win-win.

Visuals from Pakistan

The Assassination of Benazir Bhutto
New York Times photo-journalist John Moore attended the rally where Bhutto was murdered. The website above has his photos and an audio commentary of the event.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Pakistan in Chaos [Updated]

Which is worse, Benazir Bhutto is assassinated just ten weeks after returning to Pakistan by al Qaeda or her being killed by an agent of dictator Pervez Musharraf? Or, what if her murder was an alliance between Musharraf agents and al Qaeda?

The first instance shows that al Qaeda and their Pashtun partners have the reach and power to attack anyone, anywhere in the country. Even the presence of "hundreds of riot police with metal detectors" was a minor obstacle.

The second instance suggests those police were not there to protect Bhutto and the rally but to insure Bhutto's death. This means that Musharraf has decided to become ruthless and that George Bush has made the United States best friends with yet another butcher.

The third instance is the worst. Musharraf wanted Bhutto dead and Bin Laden used one of his minions to pull the trigger. This worst case scenario would explain a lot. It would explain how the killer got both a gun and a bomb through the gauntlet of security. If Musharraf and Bin Laden are allies it would explain the chronic failure of Musharraf's military to sniff out any of the al Qaeda bases known to be operating freely in Western Pakistan. In this instance the Afghanistan adventure is a meaningless gesture as al Qaeda has simply traded up to a bigger and better sponsoring state. You can forget being afraid that Iran might, some day, get a nuclear weapon because they already has access to Pakistan's bombs.

More information of the Bhutto assassination via Newsweek. Bhutto had predicted her own death and, in advance, laid the blame on several specific members of Musharraf's government. The security equipment Musharraf's government provided habitually malfunctioned. If Musharraf's security forces didn't actively murder Bhutto, they invited her death. Bhutto's death is meant to bring the death of Pakistan's hopes for democracy. Both Musharraf and Bin Laden benefit from the death of democracy.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Republican Philosophers

  1. If the opposition disarms, well and good. If it refuses to disarm, we shall disarm it ourselves.
  2. The people who cast the votes don't decide an election, the people who count the votes do.
  3. Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.
  4. Any alliance whose purpose is not the intention to wage war is senseless and useless.
  5. As a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice.
  6. By the skillful and sustained use of propaganda, one can make a people see even heaven as hell or an extremely wretched life as paradise.
  7. I believe today that my conduct is in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator.
  8. It is not truth that matters, but victory.
  9. Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it.
  10. I just want you to know that, when we talk about war, we're really talking about peace.

Sources: Lenin: 1 & 2; Mao: 3; Hitler: 4-9; George Bush: 10.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Iowa Predictions

Less that a fortnight remains before the Iowa Caucuses. I have sacrificed a couple of goats to study their entrails.

Democratic Caucuses: Barack Obama will win by what will seems like a comfortable margin. John Edwards will eke out a second place finish ahead of Hillary Clinton.

Republican Caucuses: A tough competition between God's anointed and Bush's chosen. The Republican establishment will pull every trick, dirty and otherwise, to throw the caucuses to Romney. I will not be surprised if bribes and death threats are offered in equal measure. Mitt Romney will win by a toenail. Mike Huckabee will be second. Ron Paul will beat out McCain for third place.

Now, please, a moment of silence for Buttercup and Pinocle, the two pet goats who volunteered to assist me in these predictions.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Romney's Delusions

History can be a bitch. Facts even worse.
I saw my father march with Martin Luther King. ~ Mitt Romney
A simple, declarative sentence. Totally bunk, never happened. It took researchers only a few days to discover that sentence was a lie. What I love is Mitt's reaction. Like a man totally driven by his ego, Mitt is refusing to admit the mistake. Instead, he is parsing the verb to see. Mitt claims that he "
figuratively" saw his father with King. It was what Mitt "saw" in his imagination, you see, but that doesn't make it any less real to him. And, hence, it should be just as real to us.

We have one Republican candidate for president (Huckabee) who claims he talks to an invisible spirit, another (Giuliani) whose delusions of grandeur are so deep he believes he did more work at Ground Zero than the rescue workers, and now a third (Mitt) who believes he saw things that never happened. And, these three are the leaders in the polls. It seems insanity is a mandatory qualification for the Republican nomination.

The Anbar Awakening Simplified

The Anbar Awakening is the term used to describe the fact that Sunni tribesmen in Iraq's Al Anbar province have turned against Al Qaeda and are accepting help from the American military to drive Al Qaeda out of the province. Conservative bloggers point to this fact with orgasmic glee as proof the Surge is working. So, what is this Awakening?

Simply put, the US Army have out-bid Al Qaeda for the services of the Sunni tribal fighters. Al Qaeda had provided employment and protection from Shiite militias and with its usual ham-fisted approach made themselves unwelcome as well. When the US Army offered better pay, better guns, and better training the tribesmen accepted. The American's goal was short-term, convince the Anbar Sunni tribesmen to stop shooting at US soldiers and start shooting Al Qaeda's Saudi fighters. The Anbar Sunni tribesmen's goal was unchanged, build fighting forces capable of defending their families from Iraqi Shiite militiamen and the Shiite/Kurdish Iraqi army.

The long-term American goal depended on the Iraqi government embracing the Sunni tribal fighters as allies. That is not happening. Indeed, this short-term success has simply created a False Spring. The Mahdi Army, Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's militia, has not disappeared. They are playing a guerrilla strategy of laying low while the US Army surges, knowing the surge cannot be maintained and a wiser time to fight lay in the future.
So in war, the way is to avoid what is strong and to strike at what is weak. ~ Sun Tzu, The Art of War
The Anbar Awakening shows the short-term success of the Surge while also illustrating that it will probably, eventually, fail. When the Surge ends, as it must, the United States will find itself exactly where it was a year ago - between two factions in civil war with insufficient troops to keep the factions from tearing the country apart. The presence, or absence, of Al Qaeda from the equation was never a serious factor.

Congressional Research Service report on Iraq and Al Qaeda (pdf) (Not so much a source as a resource)

P.S. - My sinuses appear to be recovering. The ability to breath through one's nose is a vastly underestimated skill.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Winter of My Discontent

Simply put, my problem is that I have holes in my head that are way smaller than they ought to be. Fluctuating temperatures - warm, cold, indoors, outdoors - and changing humidity love to wage war in my sinuses. As a consequence, the breezy passageways that separates my brain from my face become in winter swollen, narrow, throbbing dungeons. Allergic Sinusitis is an annual ritual of the season, like mistletoe and Santa Claus.

There are several issues that interest me (Chris Dodd's FISA filibuster victory; Huckabee's still too stealthy theocratic campaign; Rudy's pending, and long predicted by me, collapse), top of these is my realization that the Anbar Awakening has suppressed al Qaeda at the cost of insuring an Iraqi Civil War. But, thinking much about any of these requires...well, thinking. It's funny how having my skull stuffed full of pulsating wet cotton makes thinking difficult.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Softer Side of Politics

Maybe there is an allergen in the air in Iowa in the winter, maybe the icy winds of New Hampshire are stinging their eyes, but there seems to be an epidemic of misty eyes in election circles.

Mitt Romney got "tearful" in a speech yesterday in NH talking about watching a casket of a returning soldier. Given he has referenced this story scores of times while campaigning it is funny, less than a month before the NH primary, he is only now getting emotional about it. Same day, Hillary Clinton got "glassy eyed" at an event in Iowa where people gathered to tell Hillary how much they loved her, sort of a This Is You Life script written by her campaign staff.

I get it, they're humans (although I'm still open to the Romney is an android theory). It's tricky business, trying to sell a candidate's sensitive side. Pitch too hard and you turn off voters, no one is going to vote for a man they think is going to start sobbing in the Oval Office. Soft sell it wrong and your candidate looks like a faker. Bill Clinton was a master at achieving that delicate balance. Mitt and Hillary ain't.
The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that you've got it made. ~ Jean Giraudoux

Monday, December 17, 2007

A Holiday Nosh

Seventy years ago in a movie called "Way Out West" Laurel and Hardy step off a stage, annoy a married woman and her gun slinging hubby, and danced to a song by the Avalon Boys. The music starts 1:30 in and is worth the wait.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

If God's On Our Side
He'll Stop the Next War

His name is Bob Dylan, he was 22 when he wrote With God On Our Side. But, these things mean nothing. Whenever I hear some Republican preacher/politician claim a personal relationship with Jesus on the inhale and hector for endless war on the exhale, I think of the final lines to this song.

Joan Baez is the singer.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Bush Defends His Right to Torture

In the spirit of the season, George Bush has objected to the Intelligence Authorization Act (HR 2082) because it will make illegal what already is illegal, the CIA torture camps. Bush's objections to this and more are couched in legalese (here in pdf format) but they translate easily into English.

Section 327 requires the CIA and all other "human intelligence collectors" to abide by the Army Field Manual for interrogations. Meaning, no more of the various torture methods the CIA is known to use including waterboarding. Bush objects. Section 413 creates an Inspector General for the whole intelligence community with a very detailed scope of responsibilities. Bush wants to maintain a fractured and ineffective oversight.

Section 444 requires Senate confirmation for intelligence community department heads. As always, Bush objects to Senate participation in government. Section 406 requires a comprehensive listing of all Special Access Programs (SAPs). SAPs are Department of Defense black ops, those almost always illegal ultra-top secret activities that are more romantic and noble in spy novels than real life. Bush objects to even a vague listing of these activities.

Section 328 requires that the congressional intelligence committees be briefed regarding Israel's bombing of a Syrian facility or the National Intelligence Program does not get fully funded. Bush objects. Section 329 simply gives the force of law to all reporting requirments in the classified portion of the bill. Bush calls that "absurd."

Section 502 requires reporting to Congress of any attempt to overthrow a "democratically elected government" in the past decade. Setting aside for the moment the simple question, What the Hell is the United States doing trying to overthrow democratically elected governments?!!! If we are doing that then Congress has the bloody hell right to know about it. Damn it, the American People have the right to know. Bush wants to keep that all secret. (P.S. This is an attempt to pry the lid off Bush's attempted coup in Venezuela in 2002.)

Section 307 addresses the practice of using private contractors (Blackwater) in the secret agent biz and requires reports. Bush claims that such reports are impossible as they would require work.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Fred Thompson in Ohio

Fred Thompson was in Ohio today bragging that he remembers the lineup for the '64 Cleveland Indians. So do I.
  1. Dick Howser - SS (3 HR, .45 BA)
  2. Vic Davalillo - CF (6 HR, .270 BA)
  3. Leon Wagner - LF (31 HR, .253 BA)
  4. Max Alvis - 3B (18 HR, .252 BA)
  5. Fred Whitfield - 1B (10 HR, .270 BA)
  6. Tito Francona - RF (8 HR, .248 BA)
  7. Johnny Romano - C (19 HR, .241 BA)
  8. Woodie Held - 2B (18 HR, .236 BA)
Larry Brown (12 HR, .230 BA) ended the season playing more secondbase than Held; Bob Chance (14 HR, .279 BA) played a lot at firstbase.

Does this mean I am qualified to be the Republican nominee for President of the United States?

Clinton, Coke, Obama, and Mud

First off, I am not in political love with Barack Obama. His campaign association with a homophobic preacher (one Rev. Donnie McClurkin) was disturbing and his occasional bellicosity towards Iran is bizarre. There is every reason to question Obama's liberal bona fides.

With that caveat, the mud being heaved at Obama from the Clinton camp is reaching Republican levels of scuzz. The latest turd toss comes from Billy Shaheen, the co-chairman of Hillary Clinton's New Hampshire campaign. Shaheen, today, said that Obama's use of cocaine while in high school (30 years ago) makes him unelectable. Let's see now. George Bush Jr. was a shitfaced drunk for most of his adult life. Bill Clinton used pot in college but never inhaled (yeah, right). Hillary probable took hits at the same parties.

A three decade old drug use that hasn't scarred or retarded his life one jot is a non-story. Does Obama need to be able to deflect that attack? Yep. In that, Shaheen is doing Obama a favor by giving him some training camp practice fielding the mud. For me, the story is that a Clinton surrogate is so frightened by the trends of the campaign that he felt the need to open the shit valve. Did Clinton approve of the mud slinging? Don't know, but Shaheen is no amateur. He either cleared the statement with Clinton's staff or is himself authorized to speak on her behalf.

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Halliburton Rape Case

Jamie Leigh Jones was a beautiful young employee of Halliburton's Kellogg Brown and Root subsidiary working in Iraq's Green Zone. One day more than two years ago, her fellow KBR employees decided to drug and gang raped her. After the rape, she was imprisoned by armed KBR security guards in a shipping container, held without food or water for 24 hours, and threatened that if she told anyone or sought treatment for the multiple rapes she would be fired. Ms. Jones convinced a humane guard to loan her a cell phone. She called her father. He called Congressman Ted Poe (R-TX) who contacted the State Department which organized the rescue of Ms. Jones. Physical evidence of the rape, the rape kit, disappeared while in the possession of KBR security personnel. No criminal charges have been filed and KBR is fighting to prevent Ms. Jones from pursuing a civil suit.

Ms. Jones and her family have organized a nonprofit foundation to help other women who have been raped and abused while working for federal contractors overseas.

via Crooks and Liars: ABC News report
The Jamie Leigh Foundation website

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Did Andrew Young Uncle Tom for Clinton?

Playing the Race Card is one of the most disgusting things a campaign can do, even though it often works. Jesse Helms was a master at it. Bob Corker won election to the Senate in Tennessee last year with a revolting example. It is seldom tried in a Democratic Party primary because Democrats react with rage at such blatant racism. What, then, was Andrew Young up to on NewsmakersLive?

To an African-American audience, Young pitched the message that Barack Obama is too young, not black enough, doesn't have enough black friends, and hasn't slept with enough black women. Young came close to calling Obama "Boy." He implicitly charged miscegenation, telling a lie that Obama is part Chinese. Obama's mother is a white American. If his exact same words has been spoken by some Good ol' Boy it would have been understood as old school, Strom Thurmond racism.

It was subtle, but Young managed to sneak in all of the old racist canards. It was something no white supporter of Hillary Clinton could have gotten away with. Only someone with the reputation of Young could have taken up the role of Lester Maddox.

Obama will have to withstand this test because Huckabee, Giuliani, or Romney will certainly be more blatantly racist should they have a chance. Still, it is disappointing and no less disgusting that the first person in the 2008 election to play the Race Card against Obama was Andrew Young on behalf of Hillary Clinton.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Five Most Dangerous Presidential Candidates

There are many ways to choose a candidate - tallest, best looking, nicest smile, correct on the issues (oh, how quaint). I'm going to look at the reverse, the five candidates whose very existence most place the nation, the Constitution, and our freedom at risk.
  1. Mike Huckabee - Huckabee would place an extreme definition of Christianity in control. It is wrong to assume that Men of God are, necessarily, moral. Huckabee's faith, like that of the Taliban's Mullah Omar, believes that all temporal matters, like freedom and personal liberty, are subordinate to the commands of God. Or, more accurately, to their personal commands as God's chosen rulers. Huckabee would do what Bush has only attempted. He would impose a theocratic rule over all American's public and private lives and woe unto those who fail the test of faith.
  2. Rudy Giuliani - Imagine Michael Corleone as president. This is not a knock of Rudy's Italian heritage; I would prefer the analogy were less accurate. Rudy is ruthless - he has bragged to have tortured people he interrogated while a district attorney. This is, in fact, a lie. Rudy has a psychopath's ability lie as readily as other people breath. He is not just dishonest but fundamentally corrupt. He mentored Bernie Kerik into a 16 count federal fraud and racketeering indictment. He has been hiding from scrutiny his "consulting" business activities. He would engage in war just so his friends could profit from it.
  3. Mitt Romney - Which is worse, someone whose religious convictions are so pronounced he would easily scrap the law and Constitution if he felt it was God's command (Huckabee) or someone who thinks he has to act like that? Romney is a chameleon. He will believe whatever is most beneficial to him at the moment. It benefits him at the moment to appeal to the Christian Taliban and their desire to debase liberty beneath their faith. Romney is in this for Romney. There is no law, no oath, no freedom he will not sacrifice for Romney.
  4. Fred Thompson - Fred is the neo-conservative Useful Idiot. Cut from the same bolt of cloth that gave the nation Warren Harding, Fred will do whatever Fred is told. Want war? Fred will send soldiers to their deaths without a thought. Want to suckle at the Federal teat? Fred will massage it until it is nice and firm. Fred will do whatever Fred is told as long as Fred doesn't have to work or think.
  5. Hillary Clinton - In the United States political posts should not be considered hereditary titles. Passing the presidency from father to son, from husband to wife, is a repulsive thought to me. When it has been done in the past (John Quincy Adams, George Bush Jr.) it has been a disaster to the nation. I may mostly agree with Hillary's politics (although her thoughts on war and peace are decidedly neo-con) I cannot abide the notion of the presidency being passed back and forth between two families for a quarter of a century as if it were property, a silver tea set.
I could find room for Tancredo, Hunter, and Keyes on this list if they had a chance in hell.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

There Are Tests and, then, There Are Tests

Religious Tests. Mitt Romney cut a cute double standard on religious tests today. He started by decrying the concept of religious tests in so far as the questions involve his Mormon faith. In that he is right; if he had stopped right there it would have been a good speech. It doesn't matter if Mitt is a Mormon, a Mohammedan, or a Caodist. His religious philosophy in this multi-ethnic, religiously pluralistic nation is of no important as long has he does not try to impose his faith on others.

Unfortunately, Romney kept talking. He appealed directly to Christian Dominionists. He called for government imposition of religious symbols and festivals "in the public square." He advocated judges who would put a religious interpretation on the Constitution. He had previously stated his opposition to the idea of having a Muslim on his cabinet. A Romney presidency would have a clear Judeo-Christian (emphasis of the Christian) test for federal office.

Romney in Brief: No to religious tests for President; yes to religious tests for everybody else.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Handicapping the Presidential Race - Democrats

Creeping movement in the polls but no paradigm shifts yet with a month until the Iowa caucus. Same rules as before, I'll be offering my odds and, for comparison, in red the odds calculated by the Intrade Trading Exchange.

Hillary Clinton (Sen-NY) - 1 to 2 (1 to 2)
Advantages: Best "name ID" of anyone of either party. Enough money and endorsements to survive several negative hits. Disadvantages: Her name ID is as a Clinton. She is well and truly hated by most Republicans and many Democrats. There is some chattering among the chattering classes that Clinton is in trouble but that strikes me as more fishing for headlines than fact. The biggest risk she faces is a mass revulsion by the electorate of the idea of replacing one family dynasty with a second.

Barack Obama (Sen-IL) - 3 to 1 (3 to 1)
Advantages: Still charismatic. More than enough money to withstand the February mega-primary. Oprah. Disadvantage: Still can't shake the stigma of being a rookie. Obama has to win Iowa, have a respectable showing in New Hampshire, then go into non-stop campaign mode through February. Sleep is for June.

John Edwards (former Sen-NC) - 20 to 1 (16 to 1)
Advantage: Can stand aside and watch Obama and Clinton beat each other into pulp. Disadvantage: Has to stand aside and watch. Obama and Clinton have such big political lungs there is not enough oxygen left for Edwards to breath, let along get a message out. I am reluctant to mention this but it is nonetheless true, Edwards is the most popular white male in the Democratic race. If racial and sexual bigotry surfaces he will benefit. The irony is Edwards would never play that card. (Unlike, say, Giuliani, Romney, and Huckabee.)

Chris Dodd (Sen-Conn) - 1000 to 1 (1000 to 1)
Advantage: I like him. Disadvantage: I'm the only one. In every poll, Chris Dodd has less support than the margin of error. That means it is possible, mathematically, that Dodd's actual number of supporters is a negative number.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Further on Romney's Religion

In answer to the comment to the previous post on Romney's Religion: Of course, I am mostly ignorant of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS), I was being both sarcastic and truthful.

Latter-Day Saints themselves consider the Book of Mormon a New Covenant, as this book notes, that supersedes the covenants of the Hebrew and Christian bibles.

The writings of Brigham Young and other church elders has been quite racist, as is some of the text of the Book of Mormon itself.
he had caused the cursing to come upon them...wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them. ~ 2 Nephi 5:21

Cain slew his brother....and the Lord put a mark upon him, which is the flat nose and black skin...
~ Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses (third paragraph from the bottom)

Negroes in this life are denied the priesthood; under no circumstances can they hold this delegation of authority from the Almighty....The Negroes are not equal with other races where the receipt of certain spiritual blessings are concerned, particularly the priesthood and the temple blessings that flow there from.
~ Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine 1958

When God allows a spirit to take on a Negroid body, do you suppose He is unaware of the fact that he will suffer a social stigma? Therefore, if you say this Church is unjust in not allowing the Negro to bear the Priesthood, you must, to be consistent, likewise say that God is even more unjust in giving him a black skin. ~ John J. Stewart, Mormonism and the Negro, 1960
The ban of Blacks from the priesthood because they bore the Mark of Cain was lifted in 1978. See also Deuce of Clubs.

As for polygamy, the people who currently practice it have been officially excommunicated by the LDS. But, they believe themselves to be Mormon fundamentalists. They believe the ending of polygamy in 1890 was a political act to gain statehood for Utah (it was) and they refuse to follow it.

What is your definition of a cult? (1) Any religion founded by one person who claims unique insight and/or personal contact with God. (2) Any religion that requires its acolytes to cut themselves off from the rest of society like, say, trekking out to the Utah desert in 1847. (3) Any religion founded in antebellum upstate New York or California in the 1960's. Those were weird times and places for religions.

Romney's Religion

Since Mitt Romney is going to give a speech on his religion, a brief Mormon Primer is in order.

Mormons have much in common with other American cults. Created in 1830 by Joseph Smith, there are about 5.5 million Mormons in the United States and about 10 million worldwide. About 70% of the State of Utah practices the Mormon faith.
  • As with many American-born religions, Mormons believe that the United States is the New Jerusalem and God has a special covenant with Americans.
  • They believe Americans are God's chosen people (sorry about that you Jewish folk). But, not just any Americans, only white Americans. This is similar to the much more obscene beliefs of the Christian Identity movement. It was not until 1978, when Mitt Romney was 31 years-old, that the Mormon Church officially revoked their belief that black skin was the "Mark of Cain" and showed God has cursed all people of color. Interracial marriage is still considered a sin.
  • Similar to the Oneida Community, Mormons had strange sexual practices. The exact theological underpinnings for polygamy escape me. As near as I can tell, the Mormon God instructed only one wife per man unless he really, really liked you. Then you could have a harem. Polygamy was officially outlawed by the church in 1890. There are today some 60,000 practicing Mormon polygamists, mostly in Utah, Arizona, and Mexico. That is a larger number than practiced polygamy in 1890.
  • As with other cults, there are organizations to help "deprogram" people from the Mormon faith.
  • One of the more unusual features of the religion is its underwear fetish.
I can't answer the question whether a practicing Mormon should be elected President. I just don't know. However, we have had a practicing imbecile in the office for seven years now and the nation has survived.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Handicapping the Presidential Race - Republicans

The betting line on Republican candidates has been stable except for Huckabee (rocketing up) and Thompson (free fall). As this campaign continues there is now the possibility that this will be the first major political party in US history to throw up their collective hands and nominate nobody. As before, I'll be offering my odds and, for comparison, in red the odds calculated by the Intrade Trading Exchange.

Mitt Romney (former gov-MA) - 5 to 1 (3 to 1)
Advantage: enough money to buy the election outright. Disadvantages: Perceived to be trying to buy the election outright, especially in Iowa. Seems afraid to admit to being a Mormon; he tiptoes around the subject whenever it comes up. Gives off a slick as a used-car salesman vibe. In a dead-heat right now in Iowa with no-budget religious Zealot Huckabee.

Rudy Giulianitm (former mayor of New York) - 5 to 1 (1.3 to 1)
Advantages: Comes off as a warrior who never actually fought a war - Republicans love that. Perceived as having "the best chance in November." Disadvantages: Enough negative baggage to sink the Titanic. He's financially corrupt, morally bankrupt, and a royal asshole (that last one might be an advantage). Even his supporters have been reduced to the "not as bad as Bill Clinton" defense. His is a campaign that needs an Air of Inevitability, as that crumbles his support will collapse like a toothpick bridge.

Mike Huckabee (gov-AR) - 5 to 1 (8 to 1)
Advantages: God's anointed, the Zealot's candidate. A southerner not from Massachusetts or New York. Disadvantages: Hated by orthodox Republicans as a Big Government Liberal; highlights the chasm between orthodox Republicans and the religious Zealots. Has little money and a hayseed style that won't sell among people who wear nice shoes. Giuliani supporters have been circulating the idea that Huckabee should be Rudy's Veep. The question is whether the Zealots will accept being the silly monkey shilling for Giuliani's organ grinder.

Fred Thompson (actor-TN) 12 to 1 (17 to 1)
Advantage: Not Rudy, Mitt, or Huck. Disadvantage: Not much of anything else. His little boomlet has fizzled. In horse race parlance he "looked better in the paddock than he does on the track." Still has a slim chance; if Republicans decide to nominate nobody, Thompson's their guy.

St. John McCain (Sen-AZ) - 30 to 1 (13 to 1)
Advantage: Keeps on hanging on. Disadvantages: Hanging on by his fingernails. He has no money anymore. No endorsements anymore. Way too old to be the Comeback Kid. Too well known so that every Republican knows something about McCain they hate.

Ron Paul (congressman-TX) - 40 to 1 (17 to 1)
Advantage: Has the libertarian and Birch Society votes. Disadvantage: Attracts racists and wackos. Ron Paul's campaign events have the circus feel of a Jim Jones People's Temple revival. There is something really scary about the people who go to cheer him.

Newt Gingrich (whatever-GA) - 50 to 1 (300 to 1)
Advantage: He'll be the choice of a brokered convention. Disadvantage: He's Newt, for god sake. Let's say that Rudy locks things up in February. By May, enough new scandals have come out that there is massive buyer's remorse and even possible indictments facing Giuliani. Will Republicans stick with Rudy and go down to a party shattering defeat or will they go to the bench for some old, washed up orthodox conservative?