There are a lot of serious subjects today , so I have chosen to start off with some lighter fare. First, an article from the New York Times on Sunday, that is so ridiculous, it should have been a front page story in the Onion.
The Gallup Organization conducted a survey in cities and states across the country, to measure how happy people were. They found people were happier in San Francisco than Detroit, and unhappiest of all in West Virginia and Kentucky. Detroit fans may ask if the survey was conducted before the Lions ended the season with 4 straight wins, and Eminem brought the pride back with his 2 minute, $12 million super bowl ad for the new "luxury" Chrysler 200. In any case, after all the surveys were completed, the Gallup organization came up with a profile of the characteristics of the happiest person- older, male, in business for himself, solid income, living in Hawaii, Orthodox Jewish, and Asian American. The Times then decided to look for such a person. And they found him: Alvin Wong, the happiest person in America. .
2. Today is the 40th anniversary of the fight of the century- Ali Frazier I at Madison Square Garden. I watched this event on closed circuit TV at a packed theatre in the East Bronx, and along with my friend Steve, were lucky to make it home alive, as our driver, angered by the unanimous decision for Smoking Joe, ignored pretty much every red light on the drive back.
3. NPR executives are caught on tape saying all the things we knew all along about the network. One executive says it might be better to cut off federal funding, to allow the network the freedom to be fair and balanced, I guess. This gets my vote.
4. Some conservatives are moaning about the weak field of prospective GOP candidate for the 2012 race. On the sidelines at the moment are Jeb Bush, Christ Christie, Mike Pence, Paul Ryan, and Marco Rubio. Several of these people seem like stronger potential nominees than anyone in the current field. Their absence from the race might be a result of their concluding that Obama is likely to win in 2012, and the open seat race in 2016 looks like a better prospect. But I would caution people that things are not always what they seem to be. In early 1991, George Herbert Walker Bush had sky high approval ratings after the successful Gulf War. The leading Democrats -- Mario Cuomo, Bill Bradley, Al Gore, Dick Gephardt -- all took a pass. A little known Governor of Arkansas, Bill Clinton entered the race, and wound up the nominee, competing against Bob Kerrey, Paul Tsongas, Jerry Brown, and Tom Harkin. And then two things happened: the economy went into a mild recession, and a strange man, Ross Perot , arrived on the scene, and spent $60 million on a third party candidacy that won him 19% of the popular vote. And Clinton became President.
Do not take this as an endorsement, but is Tim Pawlenty any less well known today than Clinton was in early 1991? Unemployment is far higher now than in 1992. The budget deficit is far larger and scarier. America looks more clueless and less powerful abroad every day.
In 2004, the key state that secured George W. Bush's re-election win over John Kerry was Ohio. Bill Galston, the smartest and most serious writer from the liberal side in America, argues that Obama is in big trouble in Ohio in 2012.
Senator Sherrod Brown may also have some trouble in his re-election battle in Ohio in 2012. Brown is about as far to the left as you get in the Senate (if you ignore independent/socialist Bernie Sanders) , and became the latest in a string of Democrat to accuse Republicans of being like Stalin and Hitler because they disagree with the Democrats about collective bargaining rights for public employee unions.
Now there is buzz building for a potential opponent to Brown: Republican State Treasurer Josh Mandel, one of the most indefatigable campaigners in the country. Given the electoral importance of Ohio, and the success of "the"Ohio State University's sports teams- two straight BCS wins, and a deserved #1 ranking in Mens basketball, a salute to the Buckeyes.
After his victory in the 2010 Senate race for the seat held since 1789 by Robert Byrd, Republicans tried to convince newly elected Democrat Joe Manchin to switch parties. Manchin's views are more conservative than those of any other Democrat in the House or Senate. Manchin declined -- after all, the Democrats were still in the majority. But in 2012 Manchin has to run again for a full term, and Barack Obama will be at the top of his party's ticket. Obama is not very popular in West Virginia -- the folks there know he has no use for them, and Obama's approval rating is regularly the lowest in any state or 49th in the country (Wyoming the competitor).
If the GOP takes the Senate in 2012, about a 50% prospect at this point, will Manchin want to be in the minority for 6 years, or could a chairmanship or key role on an energy committee entice him to switch over? In 2001, Harry Reid got Jim Jeffords to switch to independent and vote with the Democrats, giving them control of the Senate. The price was pretty cheap- support for a regional milk compact that kept prices high for Vermont producers. Manchin needs to create a lot of space from Barack obama. Here is his message today.
During the 2010 campaign, Manchin fell behind his GOP opponent John Raese, despite very high approval ratings for his role as Governor. Then he ran two incredible ads, which "shot him" (see ad #2) to a ten point win.
5. Rick Richman examines who has and who has not complied with the Roadmap, and who gets sent to the penalty box. Israelis are unhappy with Barack Obama, and so are Palestinians. In one case, the problem is abandonment, in the other, incompetence (bad signaling). The Palestinians are now going off on their own with a strategy that basically ignores any kind of negotiation. 6. There are reports that Iran is shopping for missile parts in Norway. Here is an idea- send an experienced savvy diplomat (e.g. tea drinker), named Joe Wilson to find out what is really going on. Then he can tell Nichols Kristof. Both the IAEA and U.S Intelligence are not sure Iran is trying to develop a nuclear weapons program. 8. Coming soon from Professor Stephen Walt, an autobiography: The Libya Lobby. 9. Do you think this might be a human rights issue? there are 100 million missing women in a few countries in Asia. This is what happens with selective abortion and infanticide.
Next month, one of the Lady Gaddafis
12. Academy Award winner Colin Frith is set to star in a new movie about the "murderous" Jews of Palestine who killed the British , and stole the land from the Arabs. Here are some maps (deconstructed in the article) that are part of the pre sell for the movie "The Promised Land" by Michael Winterbottom