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Rudy Taking the Measure of Florida

[Cross-posted from the Trail.]

TAMPA, Fla., 8:00 a.m. -- Rudy Giuliani's visit to the Tampa Bay area didn't make the front page of this morning's St. Pete Times. The banner headline, instead, is about the iffy effects of the popular cholesterol drug Vytorin; the lead art shows actor Wesley Snipes going to court in Ocala on tax evasion charges, where somehow the jury pool of more than 100 people included not a single African American. You have to turn to page 4B to find the Giuliani dispatch from reporter David Decamp, who does an excellent job describing the former mayor's speaking style:

"Rudy Giuliani hit the hot Republican issues like it was batting practice. Cut taxes, fight terrorism, stop illegal immigration -- whack, whack, whack."

He does have an arsenal of air-whacking gestures, and is a major finger-pointer and fist-maker. He's comfortable on the stump, with confidence to burn. He avoids lofty rhetoric. Not a preacher, this one. He appeals to economic conservatives, people worried about terrorism, and former New Yorkers, of which there seem to be plenty around here. The Giuliani pitch: He gets things done. He's another fixer, like Mitt Romney without the fastidiousness.

But you have to wonder if he can fix his own campaign. His once-strong lead in the polls here has evaporated. Candidates thrive when enthusiasm builds on itself. You want to time your jump, like when trying to spike a volleyball. Giuliani is trying to counter his recent troubles by engaging in some old-fashioned, Iowa-style retail politicking, complete with stops in small venues such as diners and restaurants. But the problem is scale. Giuliani had an appreciative crowd of about 150 last night in Clearwater, but if he retails himself at that rate he'll need 10 years to make his case.

Giuliani is taking Florida's measure this week in a bus trip that started in Miami. After rolling up the southwest coast yesterday, he'll slice across the middle of the state this morning, speaking near Disney World, then in New Smyrna Beach on the Atlantic, then up in the northeast corner in Jacksonville and even farther north in the town of Yulee (an old Indian word meaning "Georgia"). Tomorrow he'll roll across the panhandle, into the Central Time Zone, to Pensacola, which is most of the way to New Orleans and a long, long way from Coconut Grove.

Florida's geography will be on the minds of the general election candidates in the fall. To win the presidency you probably have to win Florida and Ohio and a couple of other such swing states. The St. Pete Times had a front-page story Monday outlining the recipe for a Democrat winning Florida: "Win big in southeast Florida, stay competitive along the I-4 corridor loaded with swing voters, and avoid being crushed in conservative North Florida."

Giuliani will be heading into territory not entirely friendly to a candidate who is moderate on social issues. He faced a tough question last night in Clearwater (in a meeting room at a Tex-Mex restaurant) from a Fred Thompson supporter named Bill Bunting. Bunting said there are 476,000 concealed-weapon permits in Florida. He asked Giuliani -- who has favored gun control in the past -- if he would sign a national right-to-carry bill if one were sent to him from Congress. A pointed question -- and pointed right between the candidate's eyes.

"I'd like to see it done on a state by state basis," Giuliani answered. He said states and even communities should be allowed to set their gun laws, and "if any community goes too far" - he cited the District of Columbia -- the Second Amendment would kick in.

One hot-button issue seems to be largely missing in this campaign.

"Believe it or not, they're not talking about abortion," said Jason D. Montes, 38, a lawyer and Giuliani volunteer from Tampa.

Lisa Spriggs, a self-described evangelical Christian, said she likes Giuliani "even though he doesn't have a lot of conservative Christian thoughts on abortion.... We're looking at the issues other than that."

One of the biggest issues: Disaster insurance. The cost of insurance in hurricane-blown Florida has become almost prohibitive. On that issue, Giuliani's faith in private market solutions to major problems (in health care, for example) takes a Florida-centric U-turn.

"We all need help, we all need a backup, we all need assistance," the former mayor says. "We can't get through these things alone. I am in favor of a federal backstop. I am in favor of the federal government helping."

By Joel Achenbach  |  January 15, 2008; 12:53 PM ET
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Next: Rudy in the Bold New City of the South


Whoa, dude. First?

Posted by: jack | January 15, 2008 1:02 PM | Report abuse

Something's up in the ethernet...second????

I hope nobody wrecks in Alligator Alley...

Posted by: jack | January 15, 2008 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Don I-270-great pic and story of the dott so many boodles ago. How's the running going?

Retail politics in non-retail states. Seems like it would be a great idea for a frontrunner. Imagine all the press of riding a bounce from an earlier primary and still insisting on visiting with folks in diners. Not a frontrunner any more? Just looks sad.

Posted by: frostbitten | January 15, 2008 1:12 PM | Report abuse

"We all need help, we all need a backup, we all need assistance," the former mayor says. "We can't get through these things alone. I am in favor of a federal backstop. I am in favor of the federal government helping."

Aw, c'mon. Is government "the problem" or not. Sheesh. Can't anyone get it straight?

Posted by: CowTown | January 15, 2008 1:20 PM | Report abuse


Sounds to me like Florida has the measure of Rudy ... (not good for him)

Also, is he taking batting practice in front of a huge crowd at Tropicana Field or playing Republican hot-button Whack-a-Mole at the local arcade?

I wonder how many little pink tickets he's going to need from that WaM machine to cash in for the GOP nomination?

I hope he brought a *lot* of quarters.


Posted by: bc | January 15, 2008 1:24 PM | Report abuse

CowTown, I think it's perfectly obvious. They are for minimal government and no intervention, until they need government intervention (to save their a$$es or just their assets), and then they are for it.

See? Simple.


Posted by: Slyness | January 15, 2008 1:24 PM | Report abuse

To me Rudy= New York and New York = the Yankees. I aint gonna vote for no damn Yankee.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | January 15, 2008 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Just gotta learn the lingo, Cowtown. When the government helps poor people, it's a handout. When government helps the middle class, it's a safety net. When government helps the wealthy, it's getting the government off of people's backs. When one party refuses to compromise, that's a principled stand. When the other party does the same thing, it's rank partisanship. You get the idea.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | January 15, 2008 1:29 PM | Report abuse

National right to carry? Honest-to-goodness, unless it includes an unlimited right to shoot morons who voted for a right-to-carry law, that's the point at which I would emigrate.

Posted by: ScienceTim | January 15, 2008 1:33 PM | Report abuse

I'm not sure she should have taken that chance. Bush&Cheney may make that one exception of picking competency over partisanship in their pick for a physician.

From today's Frookin column:
"Maureen Dowd Watch
Michael Abramowitz blogs for The Washington Post about how New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, along for the president's trip, fell sick and ended up seeing Bush's doctor."

Posted by: shrieking denizen | January 15, 2008 1:35 PM | Report abuse

SCC *Froomkin* fercryingoutloud

Posted by: shrieking denizen | January 15, 2008 1:39 PM | Report abuse

I'd really like to hear about numbers, financials, from Rudy. How're these for an "international backstop"--numbers from Thomas Ricks' online chat just an hour or so ago:

On the borrowing: China is the second largest holder of U.S. securities, totalling $699 billion. (That includes U.S. government debt, U.S. corporate debt, and U.S. equities.)

Out of that total, China's holdings of U.S. Treasury securities amounts to $388 billion.

Oddly, that second number is probably close to the total cost of the Iraq war so far.

(So, in a sense, did the Chinese foot the bill for our Iraq war? What amount of interest are the Chinese charging on that debt and how often is the interest compounded? Will we ever pay it back or wiggle out of it?)

Posted by: Loomis | January 15, 2008 1:49 PM | Report abuse

This link is old and off topic, but ,darn it all, it made me smile. Dagnabit.

Posted by: Boko999 | January 15, 2008 2:15 PM | Report abuse

kurosawaguy, you said it all! I've never heard it said better! I doff my cap to you Sir.

Posted by: freakish outlier | January 15, 2008 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Hey, I'm always old and frequently off topic and I'd be proud and happy to know I made you smile, Boko.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | January 15, 2008 2:19 PM | Report abuse

From the Federal Department of Ooops:

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 15, 2008 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Lurker, don't want to see the naked cowboy in a thong, just thought if one was going to go the route of underwear, perhaps a little more zing might do. You know, put more punch in it for Rudy.

I liked the pictures of sunsets and sunrises that the young ladies posted. But of course this isn't my show, it's Rudy's thing.

k-guy, like the explaination for government intervention. I think you pretty much summed it up.

My dad and I had an argument this morning, and about all things Clinton. I said perhaps Mrs. Clinton should keep Bill in the background and not so much out front. I mean, he's already been President, this is her show. My dad, well he's her husband. I said that's fine, I'm all for husbands, had two of my own, just leave him home. I said people may get the impression that he will be running things at the White House, and it could be a "turn-off" for some voters. The man lost after that statement. My dad, well how do you know that, do you have their names. I say no, but there could be some folks out there thinking that way. I get up to leave, he follows me to the door, and locked the door. And is mumbling something I can't understand the whole time.

Don't know when I'll be able to get back in there. Hope he doesn't go for the shotgun anytime soon.

It's getting down and dirty.

Posted by: Cassandra S | January 15, 2008 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra, let me guess. Your dad isn't going to vote for Hillary, is he?

Posted by: Slyness | January 15, 2008 3:10 PM | Report abuse

OK, call me officially pi$$ed off with the USPS. Get an e-mail with a tracking number about something I ordered recently. Click on the link and it said an attempt to deliver item was made and a notice was left (what the hell does that mean. if you can leave a notice why couldn't just leave the freaking package). Next it tells me I have two options: 1) request redelivery or 2) pick up at post office. or they'll send it back to the sender. No info given on how to request redelivery, no phone number, no e-mail, no nothing. Also no info on which freaking post office to go to for pickup.

I'm a bit flummuxed and and a lot discombobulated.

Posted by: omni | January 15, 2008 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Almost forgot...

The radio ministry will start tomorrow at eleven in the morning. I will speak for fifteen minutes basically announcing what we hope to accomplish. Talk a little about the theme of this outreach ministry which is getting kids back in Sunday school and addressing the issue of violence among young people. Different people will speak each week on Wednesday at eleven. I've got to find the link, probably need to go back to the station for that information.

Posted by: Cassandra S | January 15, 2008 3:13 PM | Report abuse

It's sprinkling hard here today, and has been overnight. Which means that I'm pretty much confined to the house and feeling cabin-feverish. This rain is good, because as a local weatherman pointed out last night that our area has had less than three inches of rain since September, and if the year continues with this kind of sparse rainfall, we'll end up as dry as the Great American Desert of the Southwest.

Which is a long way of saying that I've been playing on the Internet, searching, reading. I was at this blog at the NYT and --lo and behold--the name of Christy Tews, the woman whom I wrote about back in 1981, the same who served as the base camp manager for the women's Annapurna climb, jumped out at me.

After I posted my bit about Tews to Joel's Kit about Sir Edmund Hillary, I Googled Tews to see that she is still in the Carson City, Washoe Valley area, linked with a Buddhist retreat in April in the vicinity.

Then she shows up at this blog entry at the NYT today "On the Road: Obama and Race." Small world it is.

CARSON CITY, Nev. - The question came from the woman in pink.

"Let's get down to brass tacks here," declared Christy Tews, rising from her front-row seat to size up Senator Barack Obama. "We have never elected a black man in our country."

"I've noticed that," he replied.

"How can you address that issue or overcome that issue?" she said.

With those words, a subject that has loomed over the presidential campaign in recent days came into crisp focus here late Monday evening. Ms. Tews, 68, prefaced her question by saying she is searching for a Democrat who can win. Period.

"That is a wonderful question," Mr. Obama said. "I'm glad you asked."

Posted by: Loomis | January 15, 2008 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Slyness, my dad talks as if he likes her as a candidate, but this is a man from the old school, and he probably thinks Bill will run the show if she wins. I don't see him voting for Obama because he thinks he can't win. And he does not care for the Republicans at all, so Clinton may be his only option. As some say here, he will vote, but won't swallow.

With what I'm seeing on the street, people are having a hard time, and that may turn the tide for some of these candidates. For the rich, I suspect it does not matter that much, but for working people it's a nightmare here. And throw in the mix of immigration, it just plain nasty.

Posted by: Cassandra S | January 15, 2008 3:19 PM | Report abuse

the 2:57 comment

"The man lost it after that statement."

the 3:19 comment

it's just plain nasty.

Posted by: Cassandra S | January 15, 2008 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Here's the ending of this blog entry with more on Tews...

But it was the question from Ms. Tews, who lives in nearby Washoe Valley, that seemed to draw the most attention on a day when Mr. Obama called a truce over an intensifying argument over race with Mrs. Clinton. One hour later, she followed suit.

"I don't want to sound naïve. Will there be some folks who probably won't vote for me because I'm black? Of course," Mr. Obama said. "Just like there will be some of you who wouldn't vote for Hillary because she's a woman or John Edwards because of his accent. The question is, can we get a majority of the American people to give us a fair hearing? I believe that I've already proven it."

His race, he said, will not diminish his chances.

"If I don't win this primary or if I don't win the general election, it will be because I haven't persuaded the American people that I can make their lives better," Mr. Obama. "I think I can, because I have a track record."

So what did Ms. Tews think of his answer?

She said she was unaware of the specific elements of his background that led to his career before becoming a senator and presidential candidate.

"There was a point during when he was speaking that all of a sudden, I said to myself, this man is electable," Ms. Tews said in an interview. "It was the way he was actually looking, the expression on this face, which was open and inclusive expression. It seemed convincing."

The last time she participated in a caucus, she said, was when she lived in Kansas and supported Senator George McGovern. "My dad, who was a Democrat, said, 'You did the wrong thing. He can't get elected,'" she recalled. "And my dad was right."

So how about the 2008 race?

"I came here undecided, but I'm leaning Obama," she said, before reaching over to shake his hand as he worked his way through the crowd. "He has some convincing statistics behind him and a convincing record. I wasn't that aware of it."

As a camera crew rushed over to film Ms. Tews, she took on the air of a seasoned participant of the presidential campaign, sounding much like one of her fellow early-state voters from Iowa or New Hampshire.

"Clinton was here Saturday afternoon, but I wasn't able to get to her," said Ms. Tews, sounding out a multitude of political offerings.

"But isn't John Edwards coming here tomorrow or the next day?"

Posted by: Loomis | January 15, 2008 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Does anyone here see what I'm talking about when I refer to the "elephant in the room"? It works both ways. There is not one thing in this country that race does not impact, it even follows us to the grave.

Thanks for the information, Loomis.

Posted by: Cassandra S | January 15, 2008 3:34 PM | Report abuse

It seems I have killed the boodle. I'm out of here. Nothing to see here folks, move along.

Posted by: Cassandra S | January 15, 2008 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra... you make me chuckle. Move along, indeed...


Posted by: TBG | January 15, 2008 3:49 PM | Report abuse

When I saw the picture of Giuliani I was instantly reminded of this:

Probably the only time Guiliani will remind me of Washington.

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 15, 2008 4:13 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra - I understand that racism is a fundamental problem in this country and that vigilance and care must be taken to build upon the sacrifices of the past and to prevent the gains so painfully made from being lost.

But to me the true "elephant on the room" isn't race. It is the structural economic weakness built into the entitlement programs geared towards our aging population.

This problem is bad, and is just getting worse. And is anyone on the campaign trail seriously talking about it? Is anyone going to advocate taking the painful steps needed to do anything about it?

No, because the majority of the country doesn't want to think about it.

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 15, 2008 4:22 PM | Report abuse

Samuelson always gets me worked up.

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 15, 2008 4:29 PM | Report abuse

That statue of Washington is wearing thongs.

Posted by: nellie | January 15, 2008 4:30 PM | Report abuse

I love the phrase "Florida-centric U-turn."

I have come to the conclusion that people define the term "wasteful government spending" as money that doesn't benefit them.

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 15, 2008 4:33 PM | Report abuse

Amen, RD. Sadly, I wrote a term paper in 1981 about the need to reform Social Security. Unfortunately now that means benefits will have to cut for wealthy people and because of the foot-dragging, that's going to have to include folks like me, who are hardly poor, but hardly wealthy either.

Posted by: Raysmom | January 15, 2008 4:35 PM | Report abuse

Omni - I recently (early December) had a similar situation with the USPS. The online tracking info indicated that the package couldn't be delivered, so a notice was left, etc.

The thing is, this was at my office, on a day when we were open, and there is ALWAYS someone at the reception desk. There was, of course, no such notice left in the package's stead, and the package has never been delivered or returned to the sender. It's just gone away into the void somewhere.

Posted by: Bob S. | January 15, 2008 4:38 PM | Report abuse

RD, I define "wasteful government spending" as the $750K (IIRC) miniature golf course the county built at Burke Lake Park. Complete with elaborate bouldered hardscape.

Posted by: Raysmom | January 15, 2008 4:39 PM | Report abuse

omni, Bob, please don't tempt me to tell stories about my miserable experiences with DHL.

Posted by: Raysmom | January 15, 2008 4:41 PM | Report abuse

I agree enthusiastically. But then again, I don't have sufficient coordination to golf.

And am mildly spiteful towards those who do.

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 15, 2008 4:41 PM | Report abuse

Not even mini-golf?

Posted by: Raysmom | January 15, 2008 4:45 PM | Report abuse

Oh wait - that's a *miniature* golf course. Well, I need to re-evaluate my position on that. Cause, you know, those *are* kinda cool.

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 15, 2008 4:45 PM | Report abuse

Oh, I don't know about the golf, Raysmom. At five or six bucks a pop for about four months a year, it wouldn't require all that many users to more than pay for its own operating costs, and might well eventually pay back a tolerably significant part of its construction costs.

Posted by: Bob S. | January 15, 2008 4:54 PM | Report abuse

Nellie, not really. Those are Caligae (Roman military sandals). They go with the toga. The man from the basement looks grumpy. Would someone get him a coat please?

Posted by: dr | January 15, 2008 5:12 PM | Report abuse

I first saw that Smithsonian statue of Washington during the show "America" by the late great Alistair Cooke. He despised it, and much preferred the one located in the Masonic Memorial in Alexandria.

I'm not sure if Rudy Giuliani could pull that look off.

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 15, 2008 5:27 PM | Report abuse

I can't decide if I'd rather be a guru or a pundit.

Mr. G says he'd choose maven.

Posted by: TBG | January 15, 2008 5:50 PM | Report abuse

I don't know if ANY of the current crop could.

You know while we are not on the subject of portraiture of leaders of nations, does anyone else feel as I do: that you know a nation is about to get weird when they start displaying oversize portraits of the person in power on the outside of buidlings?

Posted by: dr | January 15, 2008 5:53 PM | Report abuse

Don't blame Ol' George. That looks a bit drafty for giving a State of the Union Speech with.

Posted by: Wilbrod | January 15, 2008 5:56 PM | Report abuse

dr writes: Does anyone else feel as I do: that you know a nation is about to get weird when they start displaying oversize portraits of the person in power on the outside of buidlings?

Yup. I feel as you do. How about oversized portraits of persons on giant rock outcroppings?

Or better yet, a Hollywood fable that says the city of Cibolo is located near these stone portraits, the secret spot coded in Meso-American ciphers hidden in two desks, the wood for which came from a shipwreck of the Resolute, and a slave of the Spaniards who lost his way on his attempt to rediscover Cibolo after being shown it by Florida natives? Yup. I feel even weirder when the film makes money hand over fist.

Posted by: Loomis | January 15, 2008 6:15 PM | Report abuse

I love mini-golf. 'Specially the classic, tacky course with the requisite windmill.

Posted by: College Parkian | January 15, 2008 6:15 PM | Report abuse

Myrtle Beach, where we visit each year, is mini-golf nirvana. The last time we were there we went to a new course "Mynos Island." This was a combination indoor-outdoor course composed of rope walkways, faux caverns, and a complicated back-story involving Atlantis, flying saucers, volcanoes, and random elements of Greek mythology.

Thematic consistency is not a high priority in miniature golf.

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 15, 2008 6:24 PM | Report abuse


your stories and mine about DHL are probably similar. they brought my package, but the contents were cracked, and when I called to complain, it was not a happy exchange.

got a busy day tomorrow, so going to turn in early. I have the test tomorrow also, plus my regular routine and something new thrown in. and people, it is so cold here. I mean that numbing kind of cold wherein one does not want to go outside. the weather person is talking snow and ice for thursday. won't that be grand.

sweet dreams, boodle, and may they all be like ice cream.

Posted by: Cassandra S | January 15, 2008 6:25 PM | Report abuse

Florida may all look pretty much alike with WalMarts and Publixes at regular intervals, but it's really a disorganized mess. But no one likes the homeowner insurance crisis.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | January 15, 2008 6:27 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, but those are dead people. Rount Mushmore is one of my favourite places.

I have no problems with dead people on the exteriors of buildings, but faces of those currently in power decorating huge portions of the outsides of buildings just is a sign of bad things to come. In bad taste I might add.

I think I feel this way for the irrational reason that the queen always has these small tasteful protraits hanging on interior walls or grand places.

Posted by: dr | January 15, 2008 6:28 PM | Report abuse

dr - excellent point. There is a huge difference between statues of dead presidents and this:

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 15, 2008 6:33 PM | Report abuse

RD, I can't quite make out that portrait. Is it whatshisname in North Korea and his equally horrible father?

Posted by: Slyness | January 15, 2008 6:43 PM | Report abuse

Oh, sorry, yep that's Kim Jong-il (the son) and Kim Il-sung (the father.) From what I have read you can't walk much of anywhere in North Korea without being assaulted by massive images of "Dear Leader."

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 15, 2008 6:48 PM | Report abuse

Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2008 13:57 EST
Huckabee: Amend Constitution for God
A month after Mitt Romney declared that "freedom requires religion," Mike Huckabee is explaining his desire for constitutional amendments outlawing abortion and same-sex marriage in starkly religious terms.

At a campaign event in Michigan Monday night, Huckabee said that he supports such amendments because "it's a lot easier to change the Constitution than it would be to change the word of the living God."

"What we need to do," he said, "is to amend the Constitution so it's in God's standards rather than trying to change God's standards so it lines up with some contemporary view of how we treat each other and how we treat the family."
-Salon War Room

Posted by: Boko999 | January 15, 2008 6:51 PM | Report abuse

Boko, I so hate it when a candidate (or anybody) proclaims that he knows the will of God. How completely arrogant. But...the more the merrier with Huckabee! Let everyone see what he is, and recoil.

Posted by: Slyness | January 15, 2008 6:59 PM | Report abuse

Was that a large digital picture RD, creepy.

Don't tell the miniture golf course designers they may incorporate them.

dr,I had a funny conversation with an Aussie/Kiwi the other day at a checkout we were comparing which current version of the Queen was the most frightening our 20 vs their 5 note - We won!

Posted by: dmd | January 15, 2008 7:01 PM | Report abuse

Slyness, this morning I was reading an article on the decline of Christianity in Canada. There was a pretty dramatic drop in church attendance and in those that associate with a particular religion.

The contrast to the US seems striking but I am not sure how accurate that is, would Huckabee's promises have such a large appeal?

Posted by: dmd | January 15, 2008 7:13 PM | Report abuse

Here's a little quote from a book I never get tired of recommending:

"Nabokov pretty well summed up the political platform that every novelist can endorse: no censorship, good universal education, no portraits of heads of state larger than a postage stamp. If we go any further than that, our agendas begin to diverge radically."

--Jonathan Franzen, _How to Be Alone_

Posted by: kbertocci | January 15, 2008 7:15 PM | Report abuse

Yes, dmd, they would have a strong appeal to a certain minority, mostly in the midwest and south. The thought of a president who believes in creationism scares the heck out of me.

I hate that certain religious people have created the religious/scientific dichotomy, because it's totally unnecessary and completely untrue.

Posted by: Slyness | January 15, 2008 8:04 PM | Report abuse

Dmd, that is a good question. I personally think his message has limited appeal, because Canada has already liberalized in a direction that Huckabee et al. would be trying to stop happening in the U.S.

In other words, Canadians are stuck with a secular society, and it ain't so bad after all.

That said, there are definitely hard-core religious in Canada same as anyplace else.

RD about medicare and Social security, I think that was actually raised at an early Democratic debate. I remember Hillary saying it would simple enough not to cap the SS tax on earnings (after the first 100,000 bucks or something, your income is no longer taxed for Social security).

Another avenue is to gradually increase the age limit to 67 and upwards to reflect the longer productive working age of modern society.

This is a better idea than privatizing social security.

IRAs and such make poor people ineligible for governmental aid, if you didn't realize this, as they are counted as assets and savings. There is NO way to be poor and maintain a healthy retirement account.

Among the myraid links from the A-blog, I saw something about rich liberals defining "middle class" as... THEM.
Realistically if you make over 50,000 a year, you're not middle class in most of America.

You may be in serious need of help in the Bosh-Wash corridor because of skyhigh rents and cost of living, or medical bills, but that is just not an income that can equate as automatically not being comparatively well-off elsewhere.

This is why I moved out of the D.C. area. It's insane to be making 2 times the poverty level income level (last time I checked) and still need to qualify for affordable housing under HUD guidelines, and actually have to turn all my financial information including IRAs and such just to find a place to live.

And then in turn to see families making 2-3 times what I do or more actually say they need affordable housing help.

And the reality right now? Retirement social security gives you an income that's below the poverty line, last I can figure it (less than 15K a year).

But 15K is better than nothing. It ensures you money for food, if you own your house and don't have to worry about mortagages (which used to be the reality BTW, before the real estate market went crazy), or you have family to live with.

This would have been fine if it wasn't for the insane inflation of the last 30 years. So right now, it's the people who couldn't manage even with social security that we need to think about.

The costs of unemployment on our national health is a bigger concern to me, as is the war in Iraq.

Posted by: Wilbrod | January 15, 2008 8:14 PM | Report abuse

semi-public response to private query;

That was a particularly unusual e-mail, and I'm not sure it originated from the 'sending' address. Clarification would be appreciated.

*shaken-not-stirred Grover waves*


Posted by: Scottynuke | January 15, 2008 8:20 PM | Report abuse

A mysterious group of Republicans has again begun to Swiftboat McCain, and this one is pretty nasty.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 15, 2008 8:32 PM | Report abuse

I see that Boko has already picked up on Huckabee's new vision of theocratic constitutional amendments.

I guess from remarks made by Obama to the editorial board of the Reno Gazette-Journal that he can't be bothered with that messy business of bureacracy, preferring the vision thing:

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama freely admits he doesn't have the experience to run a bureaucracy.

But he's banking on the fact voters aren't looking for a "chief operating officer" in this election.

"I have a pretty good sense of my strengths and my weaknesses," he said today during a meeting with the Reno Gazette-Journal editorial board.

"I am very good at teasing out from people who are smarter than me what the issues are and how we resolve them," he said. "I don't think there is anybody in this race who can inspire the American people better than I can. And I don't think there is anybody in this race who can bridge differences ... better than I can.

"But I'm not an operating officer. Some in this debate around experience seem to think the job of the president is to go in and run some bureaucracy. Well, that's not my job. My job is to set a vision of 'here's where the bureaucracy needs to go.'"

Posted by: Loomis | January 15, 2008 8:38 PM | Report abuse

Yanno, Loomis, this professional bureaucrat could live happily with leadership like that.

Posted by: Slyness | January 15, 2008 9:08 PM | Report abuse

I agree, Slyness.

Joel, if Rudy is taking the measure of Florida at the moment, it seems Michigan has taken the measure of him...and given him a whopping 3 percent of the vote (that's 6th place, with even Thompson and Ron Paul ahead of him).

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 15, 2008 9:14 PM | Report abuse

My apologies to any who received a mysterious email with my address attached. I didn't send it; I will see what I can do to ensure it doesn't happen again.

Posted by: kbertocci | January 15, 2008 9:14 PM | Report abuse

Hmmm...lotsa white males in the Romney celebratory pic on the homepage. Does that tell us something?

Posted by: Slyness | January 15, 2008 9:38 PM | Report abuse

Ouch, I just checked my "sent items" folder and apparently this weird email with the subject line "help me please" was sent to every person in my contacts list. That's a lot of people; I coordinate email for a non-profit organization and there are about 400 people on that list alone. Plus, plus. I did get a lot of return messages that indicated many people's spam filters didn't let the message through, so that's some comfort. But I'm feeling yucky about it; I'm so conscientious about never sending on chain letters or junk emails. Has this happened to anybody else? What, if any, action should I take?

Posted by: kbertocci | January 15, 2008 9:39 PM | Report abuse

They're all playing slap a$$, Slyness???

Posted by: jack | January 15, 2008 9:48 PM | Report abuse

The idea that a single person can "run" the Infinite Fractal Machine is silly, and I am glad Obama recognizes this. The last thing we need is a Chief Executive who wants to micromanage.

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 15, 2008 9:51 PM | Report abuse

kbert, that sounds like a computer virus/worm to me.

Posted by: L.A. lurker | January 15, 2008 9:55 PM | Report abuse

kb... Yuck. It sucks to feel violated like that. Could be that Hotmail isn't very secure (not to mention Windows).

I checked my spam folder and your email didn't even get that far (not in my inbox either).

I did, however, find an email from John Kerry titled "My Choice for President" dated last Thursday.

Seems my spam filter recognizes junk when it sees it.

Posted by: TBG | January 15, 2008 9:55 PM | Report abuse

If one did receive that message and clicked it open, thought it had nothing to do with kbertocci, and closed it, what damage could it do? You must know by now, that all computer stuff is totally a mystery to me, so I really would like to know...

Posted by: Maggie O'D | January 15, 2008 10:02 PM | Report abuse

Kber, I ran Spybot just to make sure, and it didn't turn anything up after your email. Don't worry, we'll all survive.

Posted by: Slyness | January 15, 2008 10:02 PM | Report abuse

Commanche Moon is better tonight, maybe because there has been far less of Rachel Griffith's character. But it's still no Lonesome Dove!

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | January 15, 2008 10:13 PM | Report abuse

Then I'm sorry I gave up on Comanche Moon. I decided on the Nevada Debate with Obama, Clinton, and Edwards, and I find it rewarding.

Posted by: Maggie O'D | January 15, 2008 10:25 PM | Report abuse

Well, maybe a little better, Bad, but not much, IMHO. And just now it looked like all the bad guys were gonna die off of natural causes before the good guys got a chance to kill 'em. And I'm not buying the Jaguar and the parrot. I mean, really.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 15, 2008 10:26 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, I nearly laughed out loud at the parrot. Are they in the middle of a zoo? I didn't read the book so I have no idea if this is faithful to it, if so, I'm disappointed in McMurtry.

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | January 15, 2008 10:31 PM | Report abuse

I know it's an odd hour but I have posted some pics and some trail stuff in a new kit...Greetings from Brunswick, GA... Not sure where I'm winding up tomorrow but I hope it's at some really nice restaurant in Charleston.

Posted by: Achenbach | January 15, 2008 10:54 PM | Report abuse

I find myself seeing more and more the name William Booth when I look at the byline of a Post article that tickles my fancy.

He's made me smile once again with his piece in today's paper about Katherine Heigl...

Posted by: TBG | January 15, 2008 10:55 PM | Report abuse

I truly hate this long, long election run-up, but Joel's remarks are almost worth it. Such a good writer.

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