Thursday, January 31, 2008

TOUSA files Chapter 11

Yesterday, TOUSA (the parent company of Engle Homes, among other builders) would have defaulted on about $550 million in debt, because they couldn't make an interest payment.

Instead, they have filed for bankruptcy protection. And, to their credit (pun intended), they were able to get bond holders to agree to accept stock in a re-organized company that somehow managed to get a $150 million loan from CitiGroup.

CEO Antonio Mon tried to downplay all this by stating, "Our business in fundamentally sound."

I don't know how he can make such a claim. The company still owes a total of $2.24 billion, and posted a loss of $619.7 million during the third quarter of 2007. (Fourth quarter numbers, I suspect, will be equally dismal.)

Unless there is a massive turn-around in the market, which I am afraid appears unlikely in the near term, the $150 million dollar life line is not going to be adequate.

This is bad news, not just for TOUSA employees and debt holders, but to folks like me who work in the broader housing market.

Time for some belt-tightening.

I hate it.

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Reagan's Legacy

Well, the GOP candidates got together again tonight, this time at the Reagan Library out in California. And, yes, Nancy was there, along with the Governator.

Unfortunately, the CNN moderators encouraged the two "leading" contenders to drag the tone of the debate into the gutter. It was truly shameful and, in my opinion, terribly disrespectful to the memory of the Gipper.

The only thing anyone can give John McCain credit for is staying on message. No matter what the question was, his canned answers always came back around to the Iraq surge. Health care? Surge. Economy? Surge. Leadership? Surge.

The other thing he did, with an annoying smirk on his face, was continually bait Mitt Romney about his position on . . . you guessed it . . . the surge.

Unfortunately, despite his much-touted credentials and reputation for a suave demeanor, Romney took the bait. He was visibly upset by McCain's attacks. So much for unflappable. Kinda makes you wonder how he'd react to baiting by Iranian, Venezuelan, Cuban, or North Korean "leaders."

What was particularly annoying to me as a Huckabee supporter was how much time and attention the moderators gave to these two and their bad behavior. They virtually ignored the fact that Huck (and Ron Paul) were on the stage.

However, Huckabee did steal the show right at the end. Anderson Cooper asked the question of all four men, "If Ronald Reagan were alive today, would he endorse you?"

Well, Romney thought he would certainly have gained the Gipper's endorsement, because he was (like Reagan) a governor who would approach problems with an outside-the-beltway mentality. Fairly good point.

McCain claimed he deserved the endorsement because he was "a foot soldier in the Reagan Revolution." Pompous to say the least.

Everybody's favorite Libertarian shared stories of Reagan campaigning for him in Texas in the 70s and 80s, and their common love of the gold standard.

Then, Huckabee got the last word.

And, he hit a home run.

He told Cooper, and everyone else for that matter, that we shouldn't engage in conjecture about who Reagan would endorse.

Rather, Huckabee astutely challenged his opponents to join him in endorsing Reagan's ideals. They include lower taxes, smaller government, strong defense, the sanctity of human life, and an optimistic vision of America's future.

That response brought down the house!

It was realy cool to see Ah-nold jump up out of his seat as Huckabee's answer ended what had been a bitterly cantakerous evening. I wish he'd had a microphone on him so we could hear what he said to Huck, but there was some back-slapping a big grin, and a fairly long conversation.

I didn't see Schwarzenegger exhibit that kind of body language with the other candidates.

Kinda makes you wonder why the rumor mills say he's going to endorse somebody else?

Oh, well, time to hit the sack.

In the mean time: GO, MIKE, GO!

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

And, then there were 4

Or, more like 3.5 since Ron Paul is a Libertarian and should only count as half a candidate in what is SUPPOSEDLY a Republican field.

But, anyway, I'm giving credit where credit is due, and blame where blame is due for that matter. And, it looks like tonight's results are finally going to force "America's Mayor" out of the race.

You know, it is often said, probably because it is so true: Democrats fall in love with their candidates, while Republicans fall in line behind theirs.

And, that's what we saw tonight here in the Sunshine State.

John McCain had the momentum, and a lot of people jumped on his bandwagon--including Swell Mel Martinez and everybody's favorite political opportunist Charlie Crist.

As a Huckabee devotee, I was actually pleasantly surprised that he kept neck-and-neck with old Rudy Giuliani tonight. I mean, how many millions of dollars did the former NYC mayor spend down here? And, how much more time did he spend down here?! I'd like to see the $ per vote figures on that. I guarantee Huck gets more for his buck!

Seriously, though, it was also cool to see how the state fell into geographic camps. And, Mike Huckabee actually carried 4 of our 67 counties (Gilchrist, Holmes, Suwannee, and Washington). That's more than Rudy can claim!

Oh, well, on to Super Tuesday!

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

If actions speak louder than words . . .

You could've had a field day reading all the body language at tonight's State of the Union address in Washington, DC!

Some of my own observations:

* Hillary Clinton was glaring the whole time, couldn't tell if she was ticked at something in particular or just the situation in general.

* Barack Obama was practically sitting in Teddy Kennedy's lap, another reason to question his decision-making abilities. This may have been one of the reasons the big HC was glaring so much.

* Did all the female cabinet members get together like a bunch of high school girls and pledge to all wear white ensembles?!

* What did Nancy Pelosi have for dinner? Must've been broccoli, or maybe something with poppy seeds in it. She was sucking her teeth all night.

* So much standing and sitting, and standing and sitting, and standing and sitting . . . looked like a Catholic mass!

* How relieved did W look, knowing he won't have to speak in front of that hostile crowd again?!

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Sunday, January 27, 2008

Stop with the phone calls, already!

The incessant ringing of the telephone around the chalet this weekend must mean we have a primary election coming up!! It used to be they'd just fill your snail mail box with brochures. Now, they want to call you up and talk to you.

Some of the campaigns are downright annoying, to the detriment of their candidates/causes:

1. Charlie Crist and his ilk can quit pimping their property tax "reform" plan. It's not going to fly.

2. The McCainiacs shouldn't be so proud of Crist's endorsements, for reasons only briefly alluded to in #1. Also, we remember Mel Martinez working with you and Ted Kennedy in the (thankfully unsuccessful) attempt to grant amnesty to 10 million illegal aliens. So, no surprise he's in your camp, too.

3. Love ya, Rudy. Really. But, FLA is not NYC . . . at least not that part of the peninsula beyond Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties.

4. Will someone tell John Edwards that I am not, nor will I ever be, a registered Democrat?! This is a closed primary. Registered Republicans can't vote for you on Tuesday.

5. Will someone tell Buddy Dyer I don't live in Orlando any more, so couldn't vote for him even if I wanted to?!

6. How many times do I have to ask all of you to remove my number from your calling list?!

I will be so glad on Tuesday evening when we can finally get a respite . . . but, November is only a few months away, and I imagine they'll be back in gear again real soon.


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SC Dems hear my prayers!!

I can't believe Barack Hussein Obama clobbered Hillary Clinton in the South Carolina primary today!

Isn't that awesome?!

I hope the Dumbocrats in a lot of other states follow suit in their upcoming primaries and caucuses, too!!

I would just LOVE to see this guy win the nomination and proceed to the general election this November.

He will make Walter Mondale and Michael Dukakis look like they were serious contenders.

Remember them? No?! Well, I suppose that's my point!!

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Friday, January 25, 2008

Winter reading progress report

OK, since the weather down here in the so-called "sunshine state" is so dreadful, yours truly has been doing an inordinate amount of reading lately.

I sped thru my cousin's recent book mentioned in an earlier post ("Lucia: A Venetian Life in the Age of Napoleon"). It was pretty good. Sometimes "way too much info" and other times a tad too sentimental. But, overall a pretty good book.

Now, as I have a pot of chicken stew started in the trusty crock pot, I am turning my attention to the next literary challenge: James Herriot's "All Creatures Great and Small." It's the first in a fairly long series about a veterinarian in the Yorkshire dales (the stomping grounds of my mom's ancestors). If I like it, I'll consider the rest of the volumes in the series.

But, I know the chicken stew is going to be the highlight of this chilly evening.


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Boca debate

In case you missed it, the Republican candidates for president met tonight down in Boca Raton for another debate. And, once again, Mike Huckabee put in a solid performance.

In light of recent event, it was no surprise that the primary topic was economics. And, Governor Huckabee reminded his rivals, the moderators, and the crowd, that he had raised red flags at a similar debate up in Dearborn, Michigan, several months ago. It's as true today as it was when he said it: we need(ed) to look at the totality of the economy, not just those who are (were) prospering.

The fact that everyone is now following his lead and discussing economic matters is not helpful to someone like John McCain, who admits he much prefers to discuss things like national defense and the War in Iraq. Sorry, Mr. Senator, the next president needs to be a little more multi-faceted. And, if you cannot even field an economic question tossed to you by that whack-job Ron Paul, you don't need to be making plans to move into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

It was almost embarassing to watch McCain as he flubbed his way thru his response to Paul, grasping for words, repeating phrases, even looking confused. Essentially, he claims he will turn over economic policy to a team of trusted advisors he has cultivated during his very long career in DC. Great. Just what we DON'T need, more inside-the-Beltway "solutions." I guess this is why McCain is every Democrat's favorite Republican . . .

Ironically, he thought he'd try to play hard ball with Huckabee, by grilling him on the Fair Tax. What a mistake that was. The governor is so well-versed on that topic, he could recite all the nuts and bolts in his sleep. And, his expertise only highlighted McCain's shortcomings on economic subjects.

Bottom line, I give the candidates the following grades in the order they appeared on stage (left to right):

- Romney: C-, he had no major gaffes, but appeared plastic as usual and was disturbingly evasive when questioned about how much of his personal money he's using in his attempt to buy the nomination.

- McCain: D+ for doddering, his only saving grace was his rebuke of the New York Times and its savage attack on Rudy Giuliani.

- Giuliani: I for incomplete, he failed to close the deal with Florida voters, but he didn't completely blow it. He better do something on the campaign trail, or he's out of the race after Tuesday.

- Paul: F, this guy isn't even a Republican. He even admitted having been the Libertarian party's presidential nominee in the last election.

- Huckabee: B+, he appeared both knowledgeable and affable, and would have earned an A if he hadn't distanced himself from Chuck Norris! (Although, the ensuing exchange with McCain was without a doubt the most humorous moment in an otherwise dull forum.)

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Another author in the family

There must be something in the Morgan genes that predisposes us to writing . . .

The most recent publication to hit the bookstores comes from our cousin Andrea de Robilant.

His Lucia: A Venetian Life in the Age of Napoleon [ISBN 9781400044139] is actually a sequel to his very successful first novel A Venetian Affair.

I just picked up my copy yesterday, so haven't had a chance to finish reading the book. But, I can tell you the basics. It recounts the life of Andrea's 4th great-grandmother Lucia Mocenigo (1770-1854), a noblewoman from Venice, Italy, who moves to Paris, France, and rubs shoulders with a bunch of folks whose names you'd probably recognize from your history textbooks (including the Empress Josephine). She was an interesting person, to say the least. Unfortunately, she is perhaps best known as the much-despised landlady of Lord Byron.

Anyway, this book (besides being a very good read) is also serving as yet another reminder to yours truly that I need to get off my rear end and finish the sequel to my own recent masterpiece.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Look who dropped in to town last night!

That's right, future president Mike Huckabee!

We didn't get the word until late in the day that Huck was landing at Orlando International Airport at 4pm.

But, that didn't stop about 150 enthusiastic supporters from showing-up to greet him.

In fact, in case you didn't already know it, he's established his Florida HQ right here in Orlando.

Go, Mike, go!


Monday, January 21, 2008

In God We Trust

A surprising number of ye socks have been circulating a protest email lately, claiming the new presidential dollar series issued by the US Mint is doing away with the familiar "In God We Trust."

This is FALSE!

I have been collecting coins for many years, including this new series. In fact, I'm looking at one right now and can tell you "In God We Trust" still appears on the coin, just not on the front or back face.

The new coins have "In God We Trust" (along with E PLURIBUS UNUM) stamped into their edges!

When you really think about it, this is a better place to put a message that you want to stand the test of time.

Look at any coin that's been in circulation for any length of time, and you'll see the images, dates, etc., are worn down.

But, something that is stamped in to a coin (rather than appearing as raised lettering) will last much longer.

So, if you want to refuse these beautiful new dollars in circulation, that is your right. But, please don't be deceived into using the "In God We Trust" reason. It's just not true!

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My couch is evil incarnate

That big, soft, warm, comfy sectional must have a butt-magnet in it somewhere. I cannot seem to walk past it today, despite the lengthy weekend to-do list.

On a chilly day like this, there is just nothing better than grabbing one of Mom's old quilts and curling up on the sofa.

I mean, we've got all the political talk shows hashing and re-hashing yesterday's primary and caucus results.

Then, those wicked folks at Blockbuster mailed me two DVD's ("Disturbia" and "Surf's up").

And, to top it all off, we had two really good football games to watch. (Not too thrilled with the results, though. Was hoping for a Packers-Chargers super bowl, but that's not going to happen . . .)

Oh, well, I guess there are worse things to contend with than a comfy couch . . . like, maybe, that to-do list!

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Sunday, January 20, 2008

Notes on the South Carolina primary

Well, the final tally was McCain 33% to Huckabee 30%. Pretty tight race.

A couple of observations for those of you who are unfamiliar with the process in the Palmetto State.

1. They let ANY registered voter participate in today's "Republican" primary, including Democrats, Independents, Libertarians, Communists, Fascists, Monarchists, Anarchists . . . whatever. Didn't matter. As long as you had a valid registration.

2. A large chunk of McCain voters were from these non-Republicans. So, he did to Huckabee in SC what he did to Romney in NH, thwarting true Republican opinion by encouraging outsiders to muddy the waters. I give him credit where credit is due, but his successes in these two states were not won with a majority of Republican votes.

Ok, enough sour grapes. It is clear the GOP is still engaged in some soul-searching here. Who will be our standard bearer in '08 is still an open question. But, I don't think there can be any question that John McCain should NOT be that person.

* He voted against the Bush tax cuts of 2002.

* He partnered with liberal Russ Feingold to legislate against free speech.

* He advocates pardoning 10,000,000 illegal immigrants.

* He was one of the Keating Five.

Let's hope Floridians and Super Tuesday voters keep these facts in mind when they go vote. I think some Republicans-only primaries will yield some truer results of what the party faithful actually believe.

And, I'm still hopefully optimistic that verdict will be Mike Huckabee!

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Friday, January 18, 2008

Hopefully optimistic

That's how I'd characterize my overall mood today.

The day started off with my usual breakfast place, but actually got to meet a new face. (Hey, that rhymes!) Anyway, I am hopeful the new contact will generate some more business around here.

I am also hopefull about the Mike Huckabee campaign. The numbers are looking pretty good up in South Carolina, and today's national poll actually has him slightly ahead. It's going to be tight, but I look forward to seeing the results tomorrow. Reminder to self: call your sister, and get out the Mount Pleasant vote.

But, what has me looking forward to this weekend more than anything is this pending cold front all the prognosticators are talking about on the cable weather channel. That will make for some good football-watching weather . . . another note to self: remember to go get chilli fixin's!

I hope all ye socks out there are fighting pessimism, too! Have a good weekend!

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

That's it?! You've got to be kidding!!!!

I was really disappointed with last night's final episode of "Comanche Moon."

If Larry McMurtry sticks to his guns (pun intended) and doesn't continue the Lonesome Dove saga, he is leaving his devotees with a lot of loose ends to ponder.

Does Woodrow return to claim Newt as his son?

Does Gus open up that livery stable or go up to Nebraska to win back his lost love?

Now, that Buffalo Hump is dead, what will the Comanche do?

Will the Skulls ever return to Texas, or just moulder away up in Boston contemplating fleas?

Obviously, yours truly really got wrapped up in this tale of the Old West. The first two installments were riveting. Indeed, this third installment was good. But, at least one more is needed to wrap-up all McMurtry's abandoned story lines.

Maybe, this is one of those cases where the book is better than the movie, and I need to go do some reading?

Oh, well, I still feel better having spent my time on this than that American Idol tripe hype . . .

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Michigan Smishigan

Was anyone really sitting on the edge of their seats yesterday, waiting with baited breath to find out who was going to win the Michigan primaries?


Not on either side of the political aisle.

On the Democrat side, old Hillary was the only top tier candidate to even have her name on the ballot. (And, even then, 45% decided to send delegates to their national convention who were NOT COMMITTED to her.)

In the GOP, it was a foregone conclusion that native son Mitt Romney, whose dad was a three term governor of Michigan, would get the most votes. It turned out to be a "whopping" 39%.


What is exciting, however, is that both fields are still wide open, and we face the prospect of two brokered conventions.

Now, ye socks, turn your attention to South Carolina, where on Saturday only the Republicans will be voting. (The Dems take their turn a week later.) My prediction is Mike Huckabee wins. Handily. And, Fred Thompson will be forced out of the race.

What we're going to have is a delegate "round robin" going on, in which candidates have regional appeal. Huckabee in the Bible Belt. Romney in the country club states. McCain in places with lots of Independent voters. And, Giuliani . . . MAYBE . . . in the big urban centers.

That's a 3 or 4 candidate stew, whereby nobody is going to secure a majority of delegates to claim the nomination outright. And, they'll have to resort to some "horse trading."

But, that's just me. Draw your own conclusions.

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Comanche Moon - part 2

Larry McMurtry delivered yet again with tonight's episode in the final installment of his Lonesome Dove series.

I mean, we started off with an Indian raid on Austin.

We followed up with Val Kilmer apparently losing his mind in a snake pit.

There was a jaguar that killed a bruja, and a parrot that scared a spider-bitten bandito off the edge of a cliff.

And, he topped it all off with Steve Zahn punching Rachel Griffiths in the face (a la James Cagney and the grapefruit incident)!

So, who cares about watching all the cable news channels for primary returns out of Michigan, much less the crap served up by the sycophants on American Idol?!?!

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Monday, January 14, 2008

Henry Oliver Burden (1933-2008)

Condolences go out to the Burden family following the loss of their patriarch early Thursday morning after a long bout with Alzheimer's Disease.

Mr. Burden was born 7 March 1933 at Thomaston, Georgia, and lived in Atlanta until 1979, when he moved to Orlando.

Recently, he moved to Marietta, Georgia to be near his daughter.

He will be remembered as a humble man with a warm smile, as well as for his kindness and devotion to his family.

Preceded in death by his wife, the former Anita Nash, he is survived by his three children, Randy O. Burden (Alice), Angela B. Smith (Billy), and Gregory H. Burden (Beth Anne); sisters, Helen Singer and Barbara Ray (Jesse); grandchildren, Amy S. Thompson (Toby), Elizabeth B. Ariko (Griffin), John O. (Kristen), David W. (Jessica), Garrett O. and Sarah Beth Burden; and great grandchildren, Tanner and Ansley Thompson, and Jack and Anna Wells Burden.

For ye local socks, a visitation will be held at Carey Hand Funeral Home (Curry Ford Road, right around the corner from my office) on Tuesday, January 15 from 6-8PM.

A graveside funeral service will be held at Greenwood Cemetery on Wednesday, January 16 at 10:30AM.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to

Workforce Advantage Academy, Inc.
2113 E. South Street
Orlando, Florida 32803

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The return of the Western

Wow, did you catch the latest installment of Larry McMurtry's "Lonesome Dove" saga on CBS tonight?! It was awesome!

"Comanche Moon" has the typically riveting cast of characters and plot we've come to expect from McMurtry's dramatizations of the Old West. But, this installment's cast delivers some truly stellar performances.

Val Kilmer plays an eccentric Yankee intent upon finding the rascals responsible for stealing his prized horse.

Steve Zahn (remember him from "Saving Silverman"?!?) plays a Texas Ranger with self-esteem problems.

And, Rachel Griffiths is delightfully trampy as an Austin socialite with way too much money and time on her hands.

Hopefully, this will spur . . . get it: "spur"?!? . . . me into finally completing my own western novel. That was another of those new year's resolutions I alluded to in yesterday's post . . .

Oh, and as to the real Cowboys out in Dallas, here's a tissue for TO. I guess, he'll be eating that popcorn next weekend as he watches the Giants play in the conference championship . . . that, or he could watch a tape of tonight's "Comanche Moon." (The next installment is Tuesday, so check your local listings!)

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Saturday, January 12, 2008

Tackling Box Number 1

I am a pack rat.

There, I admitted it.

One of my new year's resolutions was to go beyond the admission and actually do something about it.

So, today, I tackled "Box Number 1."

You see, I don't like to throw ANYTHING away, particularly all the genealogy and history related notes and articles I've encountered over the years.

After the immediate thrill wears off, I've gotten in the habit of tossing this material into a box. And, there it sits for years and years and years, or until I get a notion to go digging thru it. You know, auld lang syne and all that.

Anyway, one of my resolutions this year was to go thru the box and decide what was absolute crap and throw it out. Then the stuff that's left over, I am going to digitize so it can be saved electronically rather than in paper form.

Of course, the trashing part was the easy/fun half of this task. The hard part, for this pack rat anyway, is not wasting time with the stuff to be digitized. I mean, it's fascinating stuff, right?! Otherwise, I wouldn't have saved it to begin with . . .

Bottom line, the first thing I'm digitizing is the 1860 Census of Orange County, Florida. Actually, I'm doing one better than simply digitizing it. I'm entering all the info into a database to be cross-referenced with other stuff from the now-infamous box. I hope by the end of this process to have one huge database on 19th Century records from this neck o' the woods.

Sound boring?!

Well, I suppose genealogy isn't everyone's vice out there.

But, at least there will be one less unsightly box in my garage . . .

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Friday, January 11, 2008

SC Republican Debate Re-cap

For ye socks who couldn't stay up late enough to watch last night's Republican debate up in South Carolina, yours truly sacrificed precious hours of sleep to provide you with the following observations--sorted by candidate:

1. Ron Paul - Why is this guy even on the stage? He's not a Republican. He's a Libertarian. And, a kooky one at that.

2. Mitt Romney - Poor guy. He spent all that money for nothing, and apparently he's lost all the fire in his belly. He barely showed up for the debate. If he doesn't win his native Michigan next week, look for him to pull out of the race altogether.

3. Rudy Giuliani - By sitting on the sidelines so long, he has rendered himself irrelevant. Pinning his hopes on Florida, where we don't even vote until 1/29, was a foolish plan. He keeps dropping in the polls down here, precipitously. He'll be gone by the end of the month.

4. Fred Thompson - Wow, can you smell the desperation?! He came out with both guns a-blazin'! But, he just came off as cantankerous and mean. Plus, it's awfully easy for someone like him who has NO EXECUTIVE EXPERIENCE to criticize those who do . . .

5. John McCain - American hero, I agree. Best adjective for him: venerable. He deserves all of our thanks and admiration. But, his time is long past. He appeared so disoriented at times, even muttering to moderator Brit Hume about the confusing lights on the stage . . .

6. Mike Huckabee - He bore Thompson's attacks like a gentleman, and defended his 10.5 years as a governor with statesmanlike efficiency. I was also glad to see him rebuke Ron Paul, something nobody else on the stage had the guts to do. In a word: presidential.

I hope this analysis will help ye socks in making up your primary choices, particularly those of you in the Palmetto State . . . and you know who you are!!

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Hillary is dead

No, I'm not referring to the highly-esteemed senator from the great state of New York who is currently engaged in a futile effort to equal the achievements of her ironically better half.

Rather, I refer to a real hero: Sir Edmund Hillary. He was 88.

But, there is a connection here. The senator once claimed her parents named her after the famous knight. Of course, this claim (like so many of her utterances) is utter poppycock, as Sir Edmund did not earn his knighthood until 1953, several years after the former first lady was hatched.

Ye socks may remember 1953 was the year a simple beekeeper from New Zealand named Ed conquered Mount Everest with the help of his loyal Nepalese sherpa. The newly-crowned Queen Elizabeth II was so elated, she made him a Knight of the Garter at the somewhat-tender age of 33. (Most KG's are ancient by comparison.)

Anyway, Sir Ed gave up his beekeeping to lead a pretty adventurous life. He was part of a famous race to the South Pole in 1958, and eventually served as his country's ambassador to India. He also led a charity that funded $250,000 per year in charitable projects in Nepal, the country that gave him his initial claim to fame.

Would that the other Hillary could lead such a productive life . . .

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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Cleaning-up the wreckage

No, that headline does NOT refer to the mayhem that ensued up in New Hampshire yesterday.

Rather, it refers to the terrible accident this morning on I-4, the interstate we all love to hate here in Central Florida.

In the wee hours this morning, smoke from a nearby brush fire combined with rolling fog between the Disney property and Lakeland.

The consequences were deadly.

As I type this, there are three confirmed deaths in the fifty-car pile-up that ensued, and many more are injured.

Prayers are needed from ye socks of that inclination.

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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Defying the polls

What is it about yours truly that just loves to see a "Number 1" fall to a pugnacious southern challenger?!

Well, for ye socks who follow college football, that's just what happened out in New Orleans last night: LSU beat Ohio State!

And, perhaps the same thing can happen in politics this year . . .

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Monday, January 07, 2008

It's finally starting to dawn on the media

If you don't believe me, check out Bill Kristol's op-ed piece in today's New York Times.

Like most folks in the "major media," he is not too thrilled about the rise of Mike Huckabee. But, at least he/they are finally forced to take notice. And, they're giving the former Arkansas governor grudging respect.

Kristol points out Huckabee's calm, measured response to a question posed at Saturday night's debate at St. Anselm's College up in New Hampshire. He was asked how he would contrast himself to Barack Obama if the two of them ended up being the two major parties' nominees. Without missing a beat, he gave three issues where they differ: guns, abortion, and same-sex marriage.

As Kristol put it, Huckabee's choice of these themes show he is in tune with the "work-hard-to-get-ahead strivers" that made up the core of Regan voters twenty-odd years ago.

This is how Republicans win national elections. You have to appeal to a broader base than Wall Street and Washington. You have to connect to Main Street. And, Huckabee is doing that.

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Sunday, January 06, 2008

The holidays are officially over

I make that bold declaration based on the disappearance of the Christmas tree from my living room today.

Sure does make the Lake Hammer chalet look different.

And, it reminds us "the times, they are a-changing."

We have to put down the cookies, and start focusing on getting back in shape.

We get to watch more football. Aren't the NFL play-offs awesome?! Two back-to-back games on BOTH Saturday and Sunday!!!

But, more fun for a political junkie like myself, the change in season also means the presidential campaign is starting to "mean something."

Not that it hasn't ALWAYS "meant something." It's just that we're finally getting down to brass tacks, and folks are actually attending caucuses or voting in primaries. We're getting official results.

I love it!

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It'll cure what ails ya

I'm still battling a sinus infection down here.

This morning, despite the pain and discomfort, I was determined not to let it slow me down and keep me home bound for another weekend. So, I forced myself to drive downtown to a Huckabee campaign meeting. (Big news: the state hq is supposed to be opening right here in Orlando on Monday morning!!) But, about an hour and a half into things, a coughing fit overtook me, and I had to make a hasty exit. Kinda embarassing, actually, because I know my flight to the door distracted the speaker. Oh, well, hopefully she's amongst the socks reading this and will now understand the reasons and accept my apologies . . .

Anyway, the coughing subsided enough by the time I got back to Apopka, that I was able to run in to the Winn Dixie to pick up a few things to soothe my aches and pains. You know, chicken noodle soup, etc.

But, if you really want to know what is making me feel even better than all that store-bought stuff, it is the Republican forum they just had on FoxNews tonight.

After seeing it, I will not be surprised on Tuesday if Huck doesn't lap Romney and come in second up in New Hampshire. Old Mitt is really wounded after Iowa, and McCain (among others) really let him have it.

I particularly liked it when McCain laughingly acknowledged the Mittster as the "candidate of change" in the Republican field. Not because he's bringing new ideas to the table, or anything like that. Rather, because he changes his convictions on things like the sanctity of life depending on what audience he is addressing . . . that left the former Massachusetts governor stone-faced. Just beautiful!!

And, of course, Mike Huckabee delivered another stellar performance.

So, hopefully tomorrow I'll feel well enough to finally take down the Christmas tree . . . we'll see!

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Friday, January 04, 2008

Huck wins in Iowa!

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Thursday, January 03, 2008

Caucus Day in Iowa!

Remember, all ye Republican socks out in Iowa, today is the day!

Please show up at your local precinct at 7pm tonight and caucus for Mike Huckabee to become the next President of the United States!

Oh, and to all ye Democrat socks out there: It's not too late to show your dissatisfaction with your party's current crop of candidates by just staying home tonight!!

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Huck and Jay

In case ye socks have an early bedtime, let me re-cap Mike Huckabee's stellar performance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

These two guys have known each other for a while, ever since Leno began doing jokes about the governor's mansion in Arkansas when Huckabee was living there. The real mansion was undergoing renovations, so the Huckabee family was literally living in a mobile home.

Or, as Huck pointed out, it was a "manufactured home." And, come on, it was a triple wide, so it was high-dollar.

This self-deprecating humor makes the former Arkansas governor the most likeable candidate in the race. As Jay pointed out, people see him as "the guy they work with rather than the guy who laid them off!"

He even asked Huckabee if he thought his guitar playing skills were good enough to do a set with The Tonight Show Band.

"No," said the humble Huck. "But, I'd like to do it anyway!"

He's always been good with one-liners like that. And, that's probably why he was chosen as a guest during the writers strike. He comes up with his own great material!

The best one of the night, though, came when Leno asked him which Democrat he'd most like to go up against in the general election this November.

Huck's response, "I'd rather all of them drop out of the race and let me have a clear shot all the way to the White House!"

Gotta love him!

Go, Mike, go!

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Tuesday, January 01, 2008

That's MY little pony!

The Niblings Made the Nightly News

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